Archive for December, 2010


Indo-Chinese noodles

This dish makes an appearance atleast once in a month on our table. Abbas and I both don’t eat rotis or chapathis for lunch or dinner. For rice patrons like us, absence of rice means an incomplete meal. But when we crave for a change once in a while, we go for Noodles. Kids love it too and the quantity of consumption would be more than compared to rice. My Amma would always tell us siblings that you have two different stomachs in there. One for your favourite food which always has space to accomodate and the other for your non-favourites which always claims to be full!

Ingredients:
Hakka Noodles – 1 packet
Veegies – 1 cup, sliced to thin long juliennes(Carrot, Beans, cabbage (par boiled), capsium, spring onions)
Onion – 1 medium, sliced
Tomato sauce – 1 tbsp
Soya sauce – 1 tsp
Green chilli sauce – as per taste
Maggi cube – 1
Salt – to taste
Pepper powder – to taste
Scrambled eggs – 2 (optional)
Oil – tbsp

Method:
1. Cook noodles as per instructions on the packet. After draining water, spread it on wide plates and let them cool completely.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and saute for 2 mins.
3. Now add all the veggies and saute for another 2-3 mins. Add rest of the ingredients and noodles and toss them well so that all sauces and veggies are uniformly mixed with noodles.

Note:
1. I generally don’t add tastemaker while making instant noodles for kids. I use all those stocked up tastemaker sachets while making noodles. You may add Maggi cubes instead.
2. Since soya souce and tastemaker / cubes have salt in it, be careful while adding extra salt.
 

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Prawn Biriyani

My Amma made two versions of Prawn biriyani – Red and Green. As soon as Annu (dad) would get fresh prawns, we would vote for Green or Red. Irrespective of the colour, both tasted heavenly. I don’t remember the recipe for Green version but Red is the easiest with minimal ingredients and simple cooking procedure. This recipe was my Dad’s sister’s whom we too call Akka. If I remember right, she had sent this recipe to Sanjeev Kapoor’s cookery contest and won a reward. Beenakka, thanks for this wonderful recipe!
Ingredients:
Prawns 1 cup – deshelled, deveined and cleaned
Onions – 3 medium  sized, sliced
Salt – to taste
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Bay leaves – 2
Oil – 2 tbsps
For the masala:
Red chillies – 10-15 (or as per taste)
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Garlic – 1 tbsp
For the rice:

Basmati rice – 3 cups
Tejpatta – 2-3 (optional)
Cloves – 3-4 (optional)
Cinnamon – 1”inch piece broken into small pieces (optional)
Cardamom – 3-4 (optional)
Black pepper – 4-5 (optional)
Jeera – 1 tsp (optional)
Red chilli – 1 (optional)
Vinegar – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 1tsp
Salt to taste

Method:

To prepare Rice:
1.Boil water in a vessel along with the whole garam masalas.
2. When the water starts boiling, add the rice, vinegar, salt and 1 tsp of oil.
3. Keep checking the rice until it is almost done but not fully done.
4. Strain the water away.
5. Immediately spread the rice in 2-3 plates. This prevents the rice from being sticky or stops it from cooking further.

To Prepare Prawn Masala:
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and bay leaves.
2. Saute oinions on low flame till translucent or light golden brown.
3. Add the ground masala and again saute till oil startes oozing from the edges.
4. Add prawns, salt and saute till they are well cooked.

Assemling:
You may either layer the rice and prawn masala as in a Biriyani or lightly mix them taking care not to break the rice grains by mixing vigorously. Tastes best when it is left to stand for 3-4 hours. (We siblings used to fight over the leftovers next day)

Note:
1. Prawn can be replaced by fish. Use fish with least bones. Lightly boil fish pieces so that removing bones would be easier.
2. I have given the method of preparing rice as in Biriyani. You could even you plain rice but make sure you add salt while preparing rice.

I like my Dosas ‘Size 0’ in thickness, crisp and fiery hot right off the tawa. Post marriage, my in-laws wanted to try out Nayi Naveli South Indian Bahu’s ‘Dhosha’ (thats how Bengalis pronounce it and I scream in my mind on hearing the mis-pronunciation. One of the reasons why I always knew my kids’ names would begin with any alphabet but S or A, S would become Sh and A would be O, Phew!) The tawa they had was not anywhere near to the traditional flat Dosa tawa. It was the one in which they made Roti which was steep in between. The batter would go and settle in the centre as if in an Appam Kadai. Well then one of my closest friends got a Dosa Tawa shipped for me all the way to Kolkata and it is now one of my prized possessions. It always yields me fool-proof Dosas and earns me showers of appreciations.
Neer Dosa is very easy to prepare. I generally prepare it with Batata Song. You may also serve it with grated coconut + melted Jaggery combo, or simply melt some Jaggery and serve as a dip with the Dosa. Also another best accompaniment would be previous night’s left over chicken curry. Yummm!
Ingredients
Raw rice – 1 cup
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

Method
1. Soak the raw rice overnight.
2. Grind it with coconut to a smooth batter.3. Add salt to taste and water if required.4. The texture should be a little more thinner than the regular dosa batter.
5. Once the dosa tawa is fuming hot, sprinkle the batter using a ladle all over. Add enough oil. Reduce flame to sim and close with lid. No need to roast on both sides. Open the lid after a minute or two. Increase flame and remove using a spatula (My daughter pronounces Pakula)

Grilled Chicken

Having full chicken translates to ‘celebration’ for me. When in Chennai, I worked in Ascendas Tech Park. We were a gang of 5 people who named us ‘Foodie group’. I was the only one lady among a bunch of men. We would daily taste different dishes from different outlets. There came a time when we had almost tasted everything on each of their menus. There was this eatery called ‘San’s Kitchen’ famous for South Indian Non-veg specialities. They would serve Full Fried Chicken on Thursdays and we would longingly wait for it. When I saw this full grilled chicken on Jaya’s blog, I just couldn’t wait to try it at home. The only problem was that I got a big chicken and the top got slightly over roasted. Only thing I would change when I prepare this next is that I would get a baby chicken and follow the recipe.

Ingredients:
1 baby chicken

For marination:
½ cup of yogurt
2 tsp of red pepper powder
2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
3 tsp of Shaan Shekh kabab masala powder
1 tsp of dried thyme or any other herb
2 tbs of cooking oil
Salt as per taste
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl with yogurt.Whisk in gently till they blend well.

For the stuffing:
2 slices of whole wheat bread made into crumbs
1 bunch of spring onions chopped finely
1 tsp of red pepper powder
2 fat garlic chopped finely
Salt as per taste

Method:
1. Wash the chicken well in lukewarm water specially inside the cavity.
2. Make the marination: whisk in cumin+coriander+red pepper +turmeric+shekh Kabab masala+dried thyme+red pepper flakes +salt as per taste in yogurt very well.
3. Generously rub it all over the chicken and also to inside the cavity of chicken. Keep refrigerated overnight. (Please do not skip this stage for making roasted stuffed chicken.)
4.Chop spring onions and garlic and then add in red pepper powder,salt and rest of the marination of chicken.
5. Stuff this mixture inside chicken cavity. You may tie or sew the chicken with thread so that the stuffing don’t come out.
6. Preheat oven at 190 deg Celcius for 2mints.
7. Line a roasting tray with foil and then place the chicken stuffed over it. Place in the second shelf of the oven.Bake it for 45 mints without skin and if the chicken has skin, then add in more 4-5 mints. Half way thro ,take out chicken and bast/brush it with some oil.

Note-
You may use any stuffing also, I have used many times celery+mushroom or mushroom+bell pepper as stuffing for the chicken.

Apple Crumble

Joining Sweet Punch was one of the best decisions of my life! Coz I have been on a baking spree ever since. I feel ecstatic realizing the fact that I have been baking goodies whose names I hadn’t remotely heard of in my life. We IT employees are always at the edge of a sword to fulfil work within deadlines. I have deadlines in Sweet Punch too. I need to post the recipes on 7th of each month… Well, these deadlines are much sweeter and dearer with a worthy end product we could relish. (At work, our customers relish our end product, nevertheless that too gives a different kind of satisfaction)
This time Divya placed a challenge of making Pear crumble. Since I couldn’t manage to find pears I substituted with apples. I didnt know crumble would turn out. I blindly followed the recipe. I didnt know when to stop baking coz the recipe instructed to bake till ‘golden and bubbling’. And my crumble was not bubbling uniformly. The adhoc bubbles left me puzzled whether I was to stop there or continue. I baked for 10 extra minutes than what the recipe called for and then stopped at the fear of a burnt crumble. The pics are not up to the mark. Like the saying goes ‘Appearances are deceptive’, the crisp crust and a ‘oh-so’ soft base of apples was a combo to die for. The presence of chocolates, almonds and lemon made it even more special. We all loved it even without vanilla ice-cream.
Ingredients:
1kg (4-5) ripe apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm pieces
50g light brown soft sugar [ Can substitute with regular sugar]
Grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
100g Swiss milk chocolate, roughly chopped
For the crumble:
100g plain flour [ You could substitute this with Whole wheat flour too]
50g butter, chilled and diced
50g light brown soft sugar
50g blanched almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan and roughly chopped
Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease 6 ovenproof teacups or ramekins or a pie-dish.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the pears, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice, and half the chocolate.
3. Divide the mixture between the teacups or ramekins, spooning over any juice. 
4. To make the crumble, place the flour and butter in a medium bowl and, with your fingertips, rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, almonds and remaining chocolate. 
5. Spoon the crumble over the pears and press down lightly. Place the crumbles on a baking tray and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and bubbling.
6. Serve with a scoop of good vanilla ice-cream.
 

Hilsa is an integral part of a Bong’s existence. Wikipedia says “In many Hindu Bengali families two Hilsa fishes (Joda Ilish) are bought on special auspicious days, like some pujas. It is considered auspicious to buy two Hilsa fishes on the day of Saraswati Puja, which takes place in the beginning of Spring and also on the day of Lakshmi Puja which takes place in autumn.”

Living in Bangalore, we only look at this fish through the glass pane in Fish Stall to please our Bong satiation. Do I hear people asking ‘Why???’ Answer to the ‘Wh’ question goes – ‘Coz we don’t think we are capable enough of digesting something as expensive as Rs.600-700 a kilo!’ Although once we put our digestive system to stake by giving in to buying Hilsa when the ‘Daily price chart read – Hilsa: Rs. 380’ Woohoo now I’m not claiming that 380 a kilo is cheap. But then we Indians are undisputed winners in bargaining. Idea of buying any trifle thing at a negligibly lower price makes us feel victorious. The men might disagree and say I’m trying to describe feminine nature under the label ‘Indians’. Okay, we women love the bargain game and admit it openly. But I personally feel that men secretly celebrate their triumphant bargains… What say?

Abbas had once brought home Padmar Ilish during Ma’s absence. He expressed his concerns (rather grave uncertainties) about how I was gonna cook something as exquisite as ‘Shorshe Ilish’. I was green with envy coz he so wanted ‘Maaaa…..’ to be there as I had never laid my hands on ‘Bangladesh’s National Fish’. It was a ‘Do or Die’ situation for the cook in me coz her reputation was at stake. A SOS call to Kakima (Bhabi’s Ma and my on-call help w.r.t any Bong dish) got me going. I was up early morning grinding mustard (a spice I always knew was used in nothing else but tempering my very own Rasams, Sambars and Chutneys) Oh! That too mustard that was white in colour was an enlightening fact. I made Shorshe Ilish and went to work. Abbas was supposed to have lunch and leave for office that day. I got an SMS from Abbas which read – “Darun hoyeche! Shorshe Ilish. I loved it. ________’ The blank line stands for the private lines we exchange, which I don’t think appropriate for all age groups. Lolz

Well guys, after trying several versions of this dish, I stick to the following tested version which wins me accolades from Abbas each time. (It is the easiest fish curry ever)

Ingredients:

Hilsa Fish – 5-6 pieces
Mustard paste – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Mustard Oil – 2 tbsp (Mandatory)

For Mustard paste:
White mustard seeds – tbsp (soaked in water for 15 minutes)
Green chillies – 5-6
Salt – 1 tsp

Method:
1. Grind the ingredients called for Mustard paste with as less water as possible to get a fine paste. I make bulk of this paste and refrigerate for future use, coz less quantity of mustard seeds doesnt yield a fine paste. This paste can be stored for 15- 20 days.

2. In a pan, mix a tbsp of mustard paste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt (carefully add salt coz mustard paste already has salt in it), mustard oil with a cup of water. Now place the fish pieces carefully in this mixture.

3. Cook on low flame covered with a lid for about 20 minutes or till you get a thick gravy. (Hilsa gets cooked in a jiffy.)

4. Remove the pan from flame and pour a tbsp of mustard oil on top and keep covered until served.