Archive for July, 2011

Katharine Hepburn Brownies

These brownies have been doing their rounds in the blogosphere and I made these recently. They were a bit fudgy and had a crisp crust. I added a hint of coffee to it and absolutely loved the choco-coffee flavour it imparted. Abbas and I had one piece each of these after dinner for almost a week. Once they were gone, I badly missed my post dinner brownie indulgence. So made another bunch of brownies, which will make for a new post soon.
Recipe Source: Leites Culinaria
Ingredients:Unsalted butter – 1 stick or 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons

Unsweetened Chocolate -2 oz or 1/4 cup ( I used Morde’s dark chocolate)
Sugar -1 cup
Eggs -2
Vanilla – 1/2 tsp
Flour -1/4 cup
Salt -1/4 tsp

Instant Coffee powder – 1 tsp (optional)

Walnuts chopped- 1 cup


1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F or 160C. Line a square baking tin with parchment paper.Prepare your baking pan.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in microwave.
3. Add in the sugar and stir well until combined.
4. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. Add vanilla extract and coffee powder and beat it well.
6. Fold in flour, salt & walnuts if using till all the ingredients are well incorporates. Do not overbeat.
7. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 40 mins.
8. Let it cool completely and cut into squares.

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes Every Tuesday event hosted by Aipi and Priya.
When we were going to bid goodbye to Chennai and moving to Bangalore, I had to do most of the tasks as Abbas was working in Bangalore then. He would arrive along with Kakima (My co-sis’s mom) only on the previous day of our departure. Change of address in post office, transfer of gas connection, surrendering Landline phone, dealing with movers and packers, finishing off the groceries in my pantry. I had kept just enough rice, dal, potatoes, 2 red chillies, pinch of cumin seeds, salt for Khichuri to be prepared. As I had to go to office for the last day clearance, Kakima was going to prepare Khicuri with the limited resources she was provided with… I had marinated some boneless chicken pieces which would be deep fried to go along with Khicuri. To this date, we remember that day’s Khichuri as it had turned out to be yummilicious!!!
Kakima is a super talented cook and her Bengali preparations are to die for. We spent a good three months of time together in Bangalore. It was like a picnic everyday. We had the best of foods hogged as if there was no tomorrow. Kaku would go shopping and we would provide him with a list of groceries. Kakima would churn up delicacies one after the other and indulging in them was sheer bliss. Whenever we talk on phone, we recall those wonderful days spent together and the memories of them are soothing!!! I learnt many Bengali dishes from her but have never been able to match the taste that she imparts to them. Abbas and I are eagerly waiting for Kakima and Kaku’s stay with us….
This is how I prepare Khicuri:
Moong Dal – 1¼ cups (lightly roasted on Tawa)
Masoor Dal – ¾ cup
Rice – 2 cups (You may use Gobinda bhog rice for a distinctive aroma)
Cauliflower – 8-10 big florets, optional (soaked in hot water with turmeric and salt and drained)
Potato – 3 medium sized, peeled and cut into 2 pieces each
Green peas – a handful (optional)
Onion – 2 large, sliced
Tomatoes – 2 large, finely chopped
Ginger paste – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 2, broken into 3-4 pieces each
Bay leaves – 2
Salt – to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 2-3, finely chopped (optional)
Oil – 5 tbsp
Ghee – 1 tbsp
  1. Wash rice and both dals together 5-6 times or till the water is clear. Strain away all water.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Add cauliflower florets and sauté till they turn golden and crunchy from outside. Remove from oil and keep aside.
  3. Repeat the same for potatoes and keep aside.
  4. Add remaining oil to the same pan. Add cumin seeds, once spluttered add red chillies and bay leaves.
  5. Add chopped onion and sauté till golden brown.
  6. Now add ginger paste and sauté till raw smell goes away.
  7. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté till they turn mushy and oil separates.
  8. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, sugar and combine.
  9. Now add the washed rice and dal, sautéed cauliflower, potatoes and green peas. Mix well. Add 6-7 cups of water, cover with lid and let it boil.
  10. When the water boils, slide the lid a bit and on low flame, let it cook till rice and dal are completely cooked. You may add more water if you like a runny Khichuri. If you want a dry Khicuri, once rice and dal are cooked, remove the lid and cook on fly flame till you get the desired consistency. I like my Khicuri neither dry nor too runny. Pour ghee on top and close the lid.
  11. Serve hot with anything deep fried, green chillies, lemon wedges and ghee. I generally serve along with Begun Bhaja, Dim Bhaja. This time it was Chicken 65.

Mirchi Bajji always brings me back the memories of Thiruvanmiyur Beach in Chennai. I have some very good memories to cherish associated with this beach. This is where I played Holi for the first time in my life. In Konkani tradition, Holi is only celebrated by men and girls / women are made to simply watch them from a distance. I always thought how much fun it would be to play in colours but never got an opportunity. The funniest part was that Holi is not celebrated in Chennai, so we bought some Rangoli colours. I went with a group of friends, we played Holi in the beach and had all eye balls in the beach instantly rolling towards us. Not only that, we also went back drenched in colours walking back to the main road earning glares and stares of people in the streets.
I also have a beautiful memory of Abbas and I going to this beach early in the morning to watch sunrise. Co-incidentally there were many people out there with telescopes and certain other gadgets… We wondered what was going on there. We learnt later that they had gathered to witness a rare phenomenon (eclipse perhaps, not sure) and sun would appear as though a part of it has been bitten away like an apple. Unfortunately we had forgotten to carry our camera that day! Sigh! But we were glad we captured the scene in our minds and I can still remember it!
You’ll find stalls serving deep fried goodies with coconut chutney. Honestly, I like to eat only the outer cover and leave the actual ingredient aside. Amma used to drop the left over batter in oil as a stream just for me to savour li’l gram dumplings…
Long green chillies – 6-8, slit  (These are specially available in markets for making bajjis)
Bengal Gram flour / Besan– 1 cup
Rice Flour – ¼ cup
Ajwain – a pinch
Asafoetida powder – a pinch
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp (optional)
Water – for batter
Oil – for deep frying
  1. Mix together all gram flour, rice flour, salt, ajwain, asafetida powder, red chilli powder along with water. The batter should not be too runny or too thick.
  2. Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan. Once the oil is hot, dip chillies in the prepared batter and drop in hot oil. Reduce heat and let it cook, invert in between. Once you think the chillies are cooked, increase heat and remove from oil.
  3. Sprinkle chat masala and serve with coconut chutney or tomato ketchup.
Ma made this as she saw this in one of the cookery shows. She forgot the name of this dish. She claimed that this dish belongs to Orissa. So I asked many of my Oriya friends describing the dish with ingredients to find out what it is called. But they weren’t able to name it. Here I simply christen it as Methi Chapathi. It tastes slightly different than our regular Chapathi as the dough is kneaded using curd. We absolutely loved it with Alur Torkari as side for dinner.
Fenugreek leaves – a fistful, cleaned
Wheat flour / Atta – 2 cups
Curd – 1 cup
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Water – if required to need
Oil – ½ tsp for each chapathi
  1. Soak methi leaves in water mixed with little salt and sugar and keep aside for 15 mins. Strain the methi leaves squeeze excess water off.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except oil and water and knead well. Add water or wheat floor to get a smooth but firm dough.
  3. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep aside for about 30 mins.
  4. Make smalls balls out of the dough and roll into small discs using a rolling pan.
  5. Heat griddle and place a disc, sprinkle few drops of oil. Once the chapathi starts fluffing, invert and again sprinkle oil. Once it is properly cooked on both sides, remove from griddle and repeat for rest of the dough.
My li’l fairies always happy to help in kitchen…

And the final platter…

Chicken 65

Talk about origins of Chicken 65 and there are so many stories which narrate the reason this dish got it’s name. Well, what’s in a name? Chicken 65 is a famous appetizer mostly in Southern India. And personally I prefer it to Chicken Manchurian as I love the flavour of curry leaves in this dish.
Recipe Source:
Ria’s Collection, her recipe source was Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice

Thick plain yogurt – 1 cup
Cornstarch – 2 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Red chile powder – 1 tsp
Lemon/lime juice – 1 tbsp
Red food colouring – 2 drops
Salt to start – 1/4 tsp
Boneless chicken – 1 lb, cut into 2” pieces (Please avoid chicken breasts, use boneless skinless thighs or chicken tenders)
Oil for deep frying
For tempering:
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Green chilies – 4 small, finely chopped
Curry leaves – 20
Oil – 2 tbsp

1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, cornstarch ,ginger garlic paste, chile powder,lemon juice, food colour & salt. Mix well. (The marinade will look pink now which will turn into a luscious red when the chicken is fried.) Add the chicken pieces and mix to combine.
2. Heat about 2 cups of oil in a deep saucepan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add a few pieces of chicken and fry till they are crisp on the outside and cooked on the inside, 2-3 mins. Remove the pieces using a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Continue until you are done with all the pieces.

3. Place chicken on a serving platter.

4. In a small pan/skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil and when it begins to shimmer, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the green chilies & curry leaves. Fry for about 30 secs. Pour over the chicken and serve.

Many many years ago at my parent’s place in Kundapur…
Over-ripe bananas lying uneaten – Amma would make Mangalore Buns out of them. It’s a sweet deep fried bread.
Over-ripe mushy mangoes lying untouched – Amma would smash them using her hands and extract all the pulp, make rasayana out of it and serve with puris.
My reaction to her antics – “You are being so stingy. You are sneaking in rotten fruits in food just so that they are consumed. Why don’t you throw them away?”
Many years later, now at my household,
Over-ripe bananas lying uneaten – I make banana bread out them
Over-ripe mushy mangoes lying untouched – I make Mango cake out of them
My children are still small to call me stingy but hey, when they do step in my shoes, they will realize one day, just the way I did!!!
Here goes the recipe:
All-purpose flour/maida – 1 1/4 cups
Baking soda – 1/4 tsp
Baking powder – 1 1/4 tsp
Pinch of salt
Sugar – 2/3 cup ((I used powdered sugar)
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Mango puree – 3/4 cup
Refined oil – 1/2 cup
Buttermilk – 1/2 cup (or ½ cup milk + ½ tbsp lemon juice kept aside for 10 mins)
1.      Pre-heat the oven at 180C.
2.      Grease and flour an 8″-9″ round baking tin.
3.      Sieve flour, baking pwd, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and cardamom powder to the flour mixture and mix.
4.      In a bowl, add vegetable oil, buttermilk and mango puree and mix well. Now, add the flour mixture and mix with the wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Gently tap the pan on the kitchen counter once to release any air bubbles.
5.      Pour into the prepared aluminum tin.
6.      Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool on wire rack.

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes Every Tuesday hosted by Aipi and Priya


The Amchi soul in me jumps at the sight of Taro leaves, Bread Fruit, Bamboo Shoots and many such rarely available ingredients. Similarly with time, my Amchi Soul has split into two personalities. Its new born twin is Bong, you see… It jumps at the sight of Date Palm Jaggery, Gobindo Bhog Rice, Bodi and the like! A couple of months back we discovered this Bengali Store which stocked up all such goodies which are hardly seen anywhere in Bangalore. Just looking at all that the store had to offer made me nostalgic. I was reminded of our ‘Paara’s Mudikhana dokan’ (local grocery store) and the faces of the storekeepers came floating in my mind like movie clippings. I stood there inspecting each and every shelf to ensure I was not missing anything. I spotted this ‘Tadka masala’ which Bhabi used to use whenever she made Tadka at home. It was then that I realized I hadn’t eaten Tadka in ages…
Green gram captivated me for the first time when Bhabi prepared this dish at home to go along with Puris for breakfast. She also added eggs to it which made it even more special. Tadka can be served with Rotis for lunch or dinner as well…
Green Gram – 1 cup, washed and soaked overnight
Onion – 2, medium sized, finely chopped
Tomatoes – 2, medium sized, finely chopped
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp (optional)
Red chillies – 1, broken into 3-4 pieces
Bay leaf – 1-2
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Green chillies – 2 or more as per spice tolerance, chopped (Optional)
Salt – to taste
Tadka masala – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Eggs – 2 (opional)
Oil – 3 tbsp + ½ tbsp
Coriander leaves – a handful, finely chopped
  1. Boil soaked green gram in pressure cooker with salt for 4-5 whistles (2 on high, rest on low). Retain the water.
  2. Omit this step if not adding eggs: Heat ½ tbsp oil in a pan and 2 eggs in it along with salt. Scramble eggs and keep aside.
  3. Heat 3 tbsp oil in the same pan. Add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add red chillies and bay leaves.
  4. Add chopped onion and sauté till they turn light brown.
  5. Add ginger paste and garlic paste (if adding) and sauté till raw smell goes away.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté till they become mushy and oil separates.
  7. Add boiled green gram along with the water, tadka masala, turmeric powder and salt (Check salt before adding as the gram boiled water would already be salty). Boil till you get the desired consistency.
  8. Granish with scrambled eggs and coriander leaves.
I used Sunrise brand Tadka Masala. If it is not available, you may substitute with Pav Bhaji Masala or Kitchen King Masala.

I can survive on only Ambat and Rice for months together. Amma used to make an array of Ambat for lunch back home. For the non Konkanis, it is a preparation of lentils cooked with veggies or greens, blended with coconut and spice paste and concluded with varieties of tempering. We would have our lunch on banana leaves and the flavour that these leaves impart to any hot dish that is poured on them is unique. Having your meal on banana leaf is an art in itself and it is a hearty experience. Especially I never miss pouring ladles of Ambat on my banana leaf / plate and by just using my fingers pick the gravy and quickly suck it in with a distinguished ‘Srrrrrrrrr…..’ sound. Mmmm, this sure is the best part of my meal. In Konkani we call this act as ‘Burkuche’ and I sure am a Burkofying freak!
This particular ambat is made of a variety of Spinach called Malabar Spinach. It is called ‘VaaLi’ in Konkani and ‘Pui Shaag’ in Bengali. Pui Shaag has a respectable designation of its own in Bong cuisine as it is widely cooked with Bengal’s most sought after fish Hilsa. We never spotted Malabar Spinach anywhere after leaving Kolkata. Recently when one of my dad’s aunts visited us, she brought these for me. It had to be Ambat as my VaaLi deprived thirst had to be quenched.
Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
Malabar Spinach – 1 bunch
Salt to taste
Onion – 1 large, diced
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Oil – 2 tbsp
For the masala:
Coconut – ½ cup grated
Red chillies – 7-8
Tamarind – 1 marble sized ball
  1. Separate the spinach leaves, cut tender stem into 1” size pieces. Avoid using hard stems. Wash thoroughly.
  2. Grind red chillies, tamarind and coconut together.
  3. Pressure cook dal, spinach leaves, stem and diced onions along with salt for 2-3 whistles.
  4. Mix the ground masala along with cooked dal and add enough water to achieve desired consistency and let it boil for 10 mins. It should neither be runny nor too thick. (Adjust salt at this stage)
  5. Heat oil and add finely chopped onions. Let it brown on low flame. It will take time and its better done on low flame. Once onions start turning brown, pour the seasoning on cooked dal. Immediately cover and set aside.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.

Punjabi Chhole

Chhole makes it appearance on our table during weekends when the family craves for an exquisite breakfast. It is served with a bowl full of finely chopped onions along with  delicately chopped green chillies and lemon wedges. Hot puris land up on plates. Abbas also requires the bottle of green chilli sauce as the chopped green chillies fail to satiate his spice hunger… I feel so satisfied looking at Abbas as he indulges in one of his favourite breakfast platter ever! He would say “Seemu, I have overloaded myself. I think I’m gonna skip lunch today!!!” I smile to myself as I know he will be hungry by afternoon…
I had been making a ‘No-onion No-garlic Chhole’ for quite a long time and wanted a change of taste. Googling led me to the blog “A Mad Tea Party” and I instantly liked the recipe as it used roasted spices powder. I have always felt through my experience that freshly ground spices give a different dimension to any dish you cook. It’s calls for extra effort and time but then the end result would be simply worth it! I prepared this version of Chhole last Saturday and was happy with the outcome. We had some leftover Chhole which was consumed as Sunday brunch. Put Chhole in bowls and topped each bowl with onions, coriander leaves, green chillies, and Sev. We enjoyed it in the form of Chaat….
Here goes the recipe…

Kabuli Chana – 3 cup (chickpeas/garbanzo beans), soaked overnight in ½ tsp of cooking soda (or soak for 3-4 hours in hot water)
Ginger – 1”piece, peeled and grated (I used ginger paste)
Onion – 2 cups chopped
Tomato – 1 cup chopped
Oil – 2-3 Tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp (optional)

For the masala
Coriander seeds – 2 tbsp heaped
Anardana  (seeds of wild pomegranate) – 1tbsp, (I did not have this, so omitted)
Cinnamon – 1” piece
Cloves – 4-5
Black peppercorns – 1 tsp
Black cardamom – 3-4
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Bay leaf – 1


1.      Pressure cook chana / chickpeas for about 20 mins with enough water to cover them. I generally keep the flame high till one or 2 whistles and then keep it on sim for rest of the duration.
2.      In a cast iron pan, roast all the spices. Keep tossing and till they are almost blackened. Cool and grind to a powder.
3.      Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger and stir till its fragrant. Now add onions and sauté till they turn translucent pink. Then add tomatoes and sauté till oil starts separating.
4.      Add fresh ground masala, garam masala powder (optional) and red chilli powder.
5.      Add green chillies, cooked chhole (along with water) and salt. SImemr for 10 mins or more till you get the desired consistency.
6.      Serve hot with Indian bread.

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes Every Tuesday event hosted by Priya and Aipi.

While a language can be the best medium of communication, choice and order of words could easily alter the intended meaning and mis-interpret one’s purpose. My post marriage exploration of Bengali language has been fun and a few goof-ups that I did are inseparable from my memory. People ask me how I learnt Bengali so quick! The secret to it was simple. I kept speaking it irrespective of it being broken or mis-pronounced. Because, people around me would correct the mistakes and I learnt with every incorrect sentence. Imitating Ma (my MIL) also accelerated the process as she narrates the same stories to each person atleast 100 times and I almost memorized her unperturbed and unaltered speeches!
It was one of those initial months of marriage and I was asked to speak to Abbas’ aunt who was going to visit us the next day. I kicked off easily as I had mastered the ‘How are you?’, ‘I’m fine’ business in Bengali flawlessly by then. I then went a bit overboard and thought of asking her to come for lunch the next day. I confidently uttered – “Apni kalke khete ashben to?” I could hear chuckles and giggles around me and I wondered what was wrong. It was later when I hung up the phone that I came to know that what I asked her literally meant – “Are you coming to eat tomorrow?” What an embarrassment!
Why I am talking about all this while I post this Mutton curry here? I again messed up with the language even after 5 years of my Bong quest. But this time I was proficient enough to see the wrong usage of my words and immediately corrected myself. Abbas fondly asked me to cook Mutton curry for dinner that night. And as usual I wanted it to be something different than the version I already have in my blog (Talk about agonies of a food blogger) I thought of preparing it the same way but adding Ghongura or Sorrel leaves to make it a new post in my blog. Ma heard my conversation with Abbas and knew that I was gonna cook Mutton in a way even her ancestors might have never dreamt of… While I was busy sautéing the Mutton and Potatoes, she came in whiffing in the air and said “Kisher ekta gondho asche… Shaag dichho na ki?” Meaning “I smell something strange, are you adding greens?” I was just cleaning the greens by then. Guess what I told her “Apnar moner moddhye gondho ache…” Meaning “The stink is in your mind”. Shockingly she asked if her mind stinks??? I came to know that I had put across my words wrongly yet again!!! I instantly (and politely this time) said No I meant that since you already know that I am adding greens to Mutton, it is just your presumption about the smell. I have still not cleaned the Sorrel leaves. She got my point and I was relieved!!! Sigh…
Going to the recipe:
Mutton – 1 kg
Tomatoes – 1 medium sized, chopped
Potatoes – 5-6 medium sized, peeled and cut into halves.
Curd – 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 4 tbsp
Sorrel leaves / Ghongura leaves – 1 bunch, pluck leaves and thoroughly wash a couple of times

To grind to a paste:
Onion – 3 medium sized
Ginger – 2” piece
Garlic – 7-8 pods

For the masala powder:
Red chillies – 10-15
Coriander – 1 tbsp
Cumin – 2 tsp
Cardamom – 2-3
Cloves – 4-5
Cinnamon – 1” stick


1. Marinate the mutton with onion-ginger-garlic paste, curd, turmeric powder and salt and keep in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 mins, the longer the better.

2. Dry roast the ingredients called for under the masala powder head and grind them to a fine powder. (I microwave the masalas instead on high for a min)

3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add a tsp of salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Drop in potato pieces on a high flame. Stir for 2-3 mins. Lower the flame and cook covered till the potatoes turn golden on all sides. Remove them from the oil and keep aside.

4. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and add the marinated meat along with chopped tomatoes and cook on a low flame. The meat gets cooked in its own juices. Occasionally stir and cook till all the water gets evaporated from the mutton and oil oozes out from the sides. This process might take an hour even.

5. Now combine the mutton, fried potatoes, washed Sorrel / Ghongura leaves and the masala powder in a pressure cooker. Add water to suit your desired consistency. You may adjust salt at this stage. Pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles.