Thursday, 30 January 2014

Sesame-Crusted Golmirch Chicken: Luck by chance!

December before last I took off on a 10 day trip to Delhi. This was suppose to be a reunion of sorts with two of my best friends from university — Chetna Desai and Jhumki Dutta (now Jhumki Dutta Kashyap). They have been my family during my stay in England, the source of warmth that helped me deal with the cold and grey English weather and the repercussions of staying thousands of miles away from home. Oh the times we have shared — walking in the woods, exploring the Downs, coffee at Starbucks, window-shopping at Churchill square, beer on the Brighton beach, tea at 3 in the morning, arguments, tears, hugs, memories, losses, happiness...I love these women to bits. And the idea was to spend some great time with the two of them. I had another secret plan though — I wanted to explore Delhi's food scene, which I had heard had undergone a sea change in less than a decade. I mean I was more than familiar with the the kebabs and paranthas and chaats and chola bhaturas but I wanted to check out the newest places in New Delhi.

Now who knows one better than their friends. The first thing Chetna (she is a development professional) said on seeing me walk out of the airport was "You have to check out this Bihari restaurant I ate at last week, it is brilliant!" I knew right away that this was going to be a good trip.

With Chetna
With Jhumki

We went to the Pot Belly Rooftop Cafe on the third day of my stay — Chetna, Jhumki and I. Now Chetna is a vegetarian and I had assumed we were going to a vegetarian joint. But I was happy at the thought of wolfing down a preposterous amount of Teheri and feasting on litti chokha. The almost perpendicular climp up to the fourth floor rooftop was rather taxing on my legs and morale but I managed and boy was  I glad I did. I did little jig on seeing meat and fish on the menu and settled for a Golmirch chicken among other stuff. Now what I was expecting was a dark, peppery gravy or something dry on the lines of a stir fry what I didn't expect was succulent, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of chicken in a buttery creamy sauce flavoured with fresh ground black pepper. I was in love with the dish.

The spread at Pot Belly. (Left, front) Golmirch chicken served with Parantha, chokha, sabudana vada and salad. I wish I had a better picture. But at that time, I had been like "Picture? What picture? Dig in!"

Ever since my return I have contemplated recreating the dish but never got around to doing it. In fact a few weeks ago I was craving Pot Belly's Golmirch chicken and thought that I had probably forgotten the taste by now. I decided a trip to Delhi was necessary and how.

However, last evening I trumped up a chicken preparation merely with a few things lying in the fridge that needed to be used and the dish took my breath away....I was transported back to that wintry night in Delhi when I polished off an entire bowl of the creamy golmirch chicken....this was almost identical, except it had my own little twist, a golden sesame crust. This, this is SERENDIPITY.


Chicken (Boneless)- 1 kg
Hung Curd - 100 gms
Fresh cream - 100 ml
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Almond - 25-30
Cashew nuts - 15-20
Coarsely ground black pepper (fresh) - 2 tbsp
White oil - 4-5 tbsp
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar 


In a mixer make a course paste of the almonds and cashewnuts together.

Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients (including the nut paste), except the sesame seeds and keep for an hour.

Preheat oven at 160 degree centigrade. Pour the marinated chicken into a baking tray and spread it out to form a single layer.

Now spinkle the sesame seeds generously on the chicken.

This is how it should look when it goes into the oven

Bake at 160 degree for 60-70 minutes. For the last five minutes change oven settings to heat from the top to get a golden crust, faster.

Serve with Parantha or Naan Bread.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Not the usual Rui Machher Kalia

When it comes to fish, for Bengalis, there is jhol, jhal, tok and there is kalia. While machher jhol and jhal are more of a regular deal, a staple of sorts and tok (fish in tamarind sauce, really) is a matter of acquired taste, Machher Kalia is for special occasions — not necessarily but usually. If you have guests coming over for lunch, Machher Kalia is expected to feature on the menu. And in Bengali weddings, the morning feasts, (we usually have a few rituals to follow during the day, and the wedding is usually an evening affair) almost always has kalia on the menu just like it has the shukto (a mix of assorted vegetables cooked in subtly flavoured, slightly bitter gravy). I still remember a particular Kalia, which I had had at my aunt's baby shower, her sister had prepared and I have still not got over it. I had passed on the meat and the fish fry for multiple helpings of the Rui (Rohu) Machher Kalia.

What is Machher Kalia, well its fish cooked in a tomato based gravy not as soupy as a jhol, yet not too dry like a jhal. The nomenclature of this dish has always amused me. Kalia? Finding out why the Kalia is called Kalia is right now on my to do list. Anyway, so they make a neat Machher Kalia at my place but I took upon myself the challenge to give the good old kalia my own twist. And the result was...well try it and you won't regret it.


Rohu fish - 750 gms
Onions - 3 large (grated)
Tomatoes - 2 medium (grated) 
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 2 tsp
Coriander leaves paste - 4 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 11/2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder - 1 tsp
Red chili powder - To taste
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Coconut milk - 1 can
Mustard Oil
Chopped green and red chilies
Coriander sprigs and whole red and green chilies for garnish.


Marinate the fish with a 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt for 15 minutes. Heat oil and fry the fish pieces well. Keep aside.

Grind the coriander, fennel  and cumin  seeds together to make a paste.

In a pan heat mustard oil and add onions, garlic and ginger paste. Fry on medium heat until oil separates.

Add tomatoes and continue to fry until oil separates. Now add the coriander-fennel-cumin paste, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, red chili powder and fry the spices until oil separates once again. Keep the heat on the lower side so that the spices don't burn.

Now add the coconut milk, chopped green chilies, salt and sugar and bring to boil.

Add the pieces of fish and let it cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Just before taking the fish off the heat, stir in the coriander leaves paste.

Garnish and serve with steamed rice.  

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Prawn Souvlaki with Capers Tzatziki

Today, the country celebrated its 65th Republic Day. I enjoyed the holiday, no doubt, but I believe we, as a nation, have not yet earned the privilege of celebrating ourselves. I feel so, as a citizen of this county, more so as a woman. 

In the last months we have all debated, argued, rebelled in our own ways and have been incessant tirades against the government, law and order situation etc, and witnessed political parties hurling muck at each other while gruesome incidents of crime against women have been on the rise. I do not think assaulting women is new to this country’s culture of course, only the media is ubiquitous now and hence we get to know. Now, it appears to me in this entire hullabaloo we have failed to address the real issue, and only politicized it. If any government or the police or our courts of law could solve the issue, could stop these heinous crimes I wouldn’t be so worried. No governmental policy or law could save the day; if it could we would have been very fortunate indeed. But alas! Because, my friends, this is a problem that needs to be addressed in our very homes. It starts right there…at home. Because it is right there that we are raising men who think it is alright to throttle and stifle a woman’s dignity. And rape isn’t the only way that is done. And we are raising too many of such men. 

We have no reason to celebrate ourselves. We shouldn’t b celebrating ourselves. We should be afraid very afraid of what we have become. 

Anyway, though I didn’t celebrate Republic Day, I did enjoy the holiday. And a holiday calls for good food. Of course workdays should be no different! Dad had got prawns and though I haven’t cooked prawns until last week or so, I have grown to love cooking them.  So, on tonight’s menu there was Prawn Souvlaki and a Tzatziki with a twist. Instead of cucumber I used capers in my Tzatziki sauce.  Now Souvlaki is a Greek Classic, succulent pieces of grilled meat on skewers, sometimes had on their own at others rolled in pita bread with vegetables and sauces and I am a souvlaki aficionado.  And Tzatziki is my favourite dip. But I had a brand new bottle of capers lying in the fridge and I was dying to use them. So, I used them in my Tzatziki sauce.  

And though it was originally an original idea I realized other great minds like mine had conceived it too. Nonetheless this is my version and I guarantee a superlative culinary experience.

Prawn souvlaki


Prawns (cleaned and heads removed) – 1kg
Crushed garlic – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 4-5 tbsp
Red wine vinegar – 2 tbsp
Oregano – 2 tbsp
Chili flakes – 2 tbsp (or to taste)
Salt to taste 

In a bowl mix all the ingredients to form a marinade and toss in the prawns. Toss well so that the prawns are evenly coated with the marinade.
Preheat oven at 170 degree centigrade. Grill the prawns on skewers for 10-12 minutes, turning ones in between.

Capers Tzatziki


Hung curd – 200 g
Garlic paste – ¼ tsp
Capers (rinsed and drained) – 2 tbsp
Dill – ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Chili flakes (optional)
Heavy cream – 2 tbsp
Olive oil – 4tbsp 

In a bowl cream the curd and olive oil together and then stir in all the other ingredients. Store it in the fridge. Serve chilled with piping hot prawn souvlaki.

PS. The Kolkata Food Bloggers (KFB) is celebrating their first birthday on the 27th of January and I am sending this in for the online party!!!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Catalan Spinach

One reason why Popeye was one of my favourite cartoon characters was…well spinach. Yes spinach is by far, my favourite vegetable. I crave spinach all year long and come winter I eat spinach every day, well almost. I like it best chopped fine and stir fried in mustard oil, with a little mustard seeds for tempering. It’s a winter staple at my place and I end up having double my usual rice serving. It is usually not a pleasant scene on those rare days when palong shaak bhaja goes missing from the menu. Sometimes, I like it with a generous sprinkling of posto (khus khus). Another delicious dish made in Bengali homes is palong shaker ghonto, a mixed vegetable dish of sorts with spinach playing the protagonist complemented by the liked of potatoes, radish, pumpkin etc. But I am partial towards the simple palong shaak bhaja.
It goes without saying that spinach enjoys a glory spot in Indian cuisine, but today I thought of sharing something different, something from another country and since my Spanish fever is still on, I am sharing a simple and delicious dish from Spain Catalonia region — Catalan spinach. 
Last Sunday, at our Spanish pop up event, while we were busy with our Serrano ham and chorizo and prawns and squid, our hostess for the day, Ria (the friend who was kind enough to lend us her home to turn it into a restaurant for a day), tossed up a beautiful vegetarian dish for a friend who had decided to drop in last minute and he was a vegetarian. And though I was busy making my pan con jamon, my eyes wandered off to her stove top quite a few times because she was making something with…well spinach.
There was olive oil, garlic, raisins, pine nuts and spinach and I knew this was going to be a hit. Catalan Spinach is what she was making and that’s the recipe I’ll share today. The recipe is authentic but with my signature twist.   Now I like to play with textures and that's what I have done. For instance, I have used munakka instead of regular raisins and dollop of butter to romance the olive oil and finally a final addition, to add some more scrunch to the dish, croutons.

By the way, this post is especially for those of you who have asked me to post some vegetarian dishes. In fact, I am sorry that I have not posted too many vegetarian dishes in these months but I promise to balance it out now on. Hope you guys enjoy this dish.


Spinach leaves - 30-35
Chopped garlic - 1 tbsp
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Butter - 1/2 tbsp
Munakka or regular raisins - a handful
Pine nuts - a handful
Salt to taste
Sugar- a pinch
Croutons  (deep fried bred cubes)



 Blanch the spinach leaves in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Drain well and keep aside.
Heat olive oil and butter together and add chopped garlic. 
Once the garlic turns golden add the raisins/munakka and pine nuts and saute for a minute. 
Finally add the spinach and stir fry for a few minutes. Add salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. 
Garnish with croutons and serve.  

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Meat and Egg Cake

Yesterday I walked home with some baguette and realised what a mistake it was the moment I walked in with it. "What are you making...whatever it is, it should be ready in an hour, I am hungry" my brother shot at me, in the most nonchalant manner possible. I told him I wasn't making anything and it was for breakfast the next day. And then all hell broke loose. He insisted I make him something or he will change the wifi password. Now that's a threat you can't help but take seriously. I told him some cheesy garlic baguette perhaps but he said he meant something elaborate to go with the baguette. 'Don't tamper with the baguette he said. TAMPER? ME? This is a boy, by the way, who doesn't even know how to boil water.
Anyway at this point my mother walks in and says she was hoping I would cook dinner cause our cook had a wedding to attend. GREAT. 
Now there was some minced chicken in the fridge, a red bell pepper, loads of eggs too and yes a brand new block of cheddar cheese I had brought home on Sunday. I wanted to use them all and so I decided to whip up a cake, only of a different kind. An egg and meat cake. Well it's a quiche basically, only without a crust. A filling dinner and very tasty.

For the chicken:

Minced chicken - 500g
Finely chopped onions - 3/4 cup
Finely chopped garlic - 1 tbsp
Finely chopped ginger - 1 tbsp
Red Bell pepper (diced small) - 1 medium
Tomatoes (diced) - 2 medium
Salt and pepper - To taste
Butter - 30g

For the egg mixture:

Eggs - 5
Fresh cream - 100ml
Salt and pepper - To taste
Butter - 5g (melted)
Dried Oregano - 1 tbsp

Cheddar cheese flakes  


Making the chicken :
In a pan heat the butter. Add the chopped onions till its turns translucent.
Now toss the in the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute. Add the bellpeppers and stir for some more time. Sprinkle some salt at this point, this'll make the bellpeppers soften faster.
Add tomatoes, stir for a minute and add the minced chicken. Season well and fry the meat on high heat untill the juiced have dried and the chicekn cooked. Remove from heat and keep.

For the eggs:
Beat the eggs in a bowl and lightly whisk in the fresh cream and melted butter. Add oregano, salt and pepper. 

Putting it together: 

Preheat oven at 180 degree centigrade. 
Pour the chicken into a baking dish to make an even layer. Now pour the egg mixture on top.Finally top it with the cheddar flakes. 
Bake it in the oven at 180 for 30-35 minutes. Or until eggs are firm to ur liking. Serve piping hot with bread or have it on its own. Quite nice on a cold evening.  

Monday, 20 January 2014

Gambas Pil pil - Savour Spanish

Gambas pil pil - Sizzling prawns in olive oil
Yesterday was utter madness. So, the second episode of the foodie adventures of the PHAT Mamas was underway. This time it was Spanish and the excitement was soaring.

For those who came in late, my friend and I so these pop up restaurants once in a while where basically we bully another of our friends to lend us their homes, for a day, which we turn into a restaurant, for a day. We go by the name Phat Mamas.

Anyway, so my friend vacationed in Spain a couple of months ago and returned with authentic Spanish recipes. My exposure to Spanish cuisine has been limited but I love it anyway. So we spent weeks discussing the cuisine, practicing in our own kitchens, experimenting with recipes of a few dishes which we had introduced in the menu but were not among the ones she learnt in Spain. It was crazy but finally we had decided upon the menu, venue and everything else.

So, on yesterday's menu we served Tortilla loaded with the goodness of Spanish Iberico chorizo straight from Girona, Spain and topped with Pamesan and Rocket, Pan Con Tomate y Jamon, bread with a tomato rub topped with Serrano Ham and Gambad Pil pil, the star of the show and this post, of course,. For the main course there was a delectable seafood paella and for desserts churros and chocolate sauce.

I am soon going to write about churros. All I would say now is that they are some of the tastiest bites but all the most dangerous fritters.

The food was quite the hit and people went home happy but then now I am getting to know that some of the guests even dreamt of the food. Prawnlicious dreams they've had, they say. And so we return to the Gambas Pil Pil, sizzling prawns in olive oil, flavoured with garlic and chillies. It is a typical Spanish tapas, usually cooked in terracotta pots and served with bread which you dip into the delicious oil and savour. Now, I didn't cook in terracotta pot, I served them in clay pots nonetheless.

It's strange that I was the one cooking the Gambas pil pil since I am allergic to prawns, I do not eat prawns at all. In fcat, yesterday I realised taht now I not only react to eating prawns but also to touching them. I had to deal with swollen, red, itchy fingertips aftre I had chopped some prawns for the paella. Anyway, I couldn't taste the gambas myself,but going by people's reaction it was spot on it seems. Thanks to my tasters though.

This is a realy simple dish and althouigh I have put in the measrements I used, you can make your own variation.

The tapas platter Gambas pil pil, Tortilla with Parmesan and Rocket and Pan con jamon (Bread topped with a tomato salsa and Serrano ham.

Prawns - 15-18
Olive oil - 3/4 cup
Butter - 100 gms
Garlic roughly ground - 21/2  tbsp
Chilli flakes - 2 tbsp (or to taste)
Parsley (chopped) - a handful
Salt to taste


Heat the olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts add the garlic.

Fry the garlic until it only just begins to catch colour and add the chilli flakes. Toss in the prawns and add salt. Remember the butter too has salt so, season carefully.

The flame will be on high on the time. Once the prawns curl up and turn opaque (that's once the prawns are done), the prawns will be sizzling by now,  turn off the heat and add the parsley. Serve in clay pots with bread.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Chicken with ginger and beans tossed in caramel sauce

Today was one eventful day! went live on air, the blog was featured on Radio One 94.3 FM, on the programme Arvind's kitchen. It was great feeling, exciting and humbling all at once. To have got this opportunity to reach out to so many people was much more than I could ask for. I have a long way to go and so does this blog but today will definitely be special, something to look back to and draw motivation from.
      And, today's episode was extra special because of another reason. So, RJ Arvind, the host of the show, chose to discuss my recipe of the Shepherd's Pie and the story behind my soft spot for this English classic. And he was very kind to agree to dedicate the episode to my grandfather, Dadun, about whom the story is.      
   My grandfather is an old man now. His once upright back is now bent with age, the glimmer in his eyes a tad dull and his health betraying him every second. He no longer remembers the stories he regaled me with, he sometimes cannot recognise me, his favourite grandchild and he talks very little, sometimes he even whimpers in his sleep. But today when he heard his story being narrated on the radio he laughed and clapped and cried like a little child. It broke my heart and made me happy like nothing else, all at once. 
      Anyway, over all it was a good day. By the way breakfast was at the newly opened Au Bon Pain on Park Street over some good conversation and that had quite set the mood for the day. And a day like this had to end on a foodie note too. So here's today's recipe.


Minced chicken - 500gms
Beans - 200 gms (cut into inch and a half pieces)
Sugar - 3tbsp
Water - 3/4 cup
Finely chopped onions - 1/2 cup
Finely chopped garlic - 1 tbsp
Ginger juliennes - 4-5 tbsp
Dark soy sauce - 1tbsp
Fish sauce - 1tsp
Chilli flakes - 1tsp
Salt to taste
Honey - 3/4tsp


In a pan add the sugar and let it caramelise, stir frequently and once the caramel is a beautiful golden brown and bubbling, remove from heat and add 3/4 cup water. If the caramel solidifies, return o heat and stir around for a minute or so. Once done keep the caramel sauce aside.

Now in a frsh pan, heat 4 tbsp oil. Add the chopped onions. Fry for a few minutes. Add the chopped garlic and ginger juliennes.

Now add the fish sauce and soy sauce.Stir around for a minute and add the minced chicken, salt and chili flakes. On high flame sti fry the chicken, adding the caramel sauce little by little every few minutes.

Mid way through, add the beans and stir fry along with the chicken.

Finally add a little honey, mix and take off heat.