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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Creamy Chicken Stroganoff

I must say this recipe is a bliss for people who do not want to spend much time in the kitchen. It's also perfect for those young men who want to impress their partners with something nice and home made. It's super easy to make yet looks quite exotic because of the things that go in it! It goes with anything your heart wants....pennes, spaghettis, rice or just a plain bun to dunk in the awesome gravy!

This photo goes to Susan's Black and White Wednesday


1lb/450gm skinless chicken breat fillets
4tbsp dry sherry (optional)
15gm pack of dried porcini mushrooms
300gm chestnut mushrooms
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 tsp freshly chopped thyme/1/2 tsp of dried thyme
125ml  Chicken stock
150ml Crème fraîche
1tbsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Coarsely ground pepper to taste
2tbsp Sunflower Oil
25gm unsalted Butter

To Serve:

Crème fraîche
Freshly cooked Rice/Pasta


1. Cut the chicken into finger length strips. Gently warm the sherry in a small saucepan and keep aside. Wash the Porcini mushrooms in hot water (this is important as some of them contain soil) and soak in the warm sherry. If you are not using the sherry then just soak the mushrooms in hot water with a little vinegar in it.

2. Heat half of the oil in a wok. Add the chicken strips and stir-fry over high heat for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper. Keep aside.

3. Heat the remaining oil and butter and cook the onion slices till they turn translucent. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes or until soft. Add the paprika and cook for another minute.

4. Add the Porcini mushrooms along with the soaking liquid(sherry/water), stir in the stock and the chicken pieces. Cook for 2 minutes till the chicken is cooked.

5. Stir in the Crème fraîche and bring the sauce to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a spoonfull of Crème fraîche and rice or pasta.

I forgot to take pictures of the porcini mushrooms Next time will click them and add them here. :)

*Trivia* : One portabella mushroom has more potassium than a banana! 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Rasmalai, The Ultimate Pleasure for my Sweet Tooth...what's yours?

Okay I am not ashamed to say that I took another holiday. Actually it's more of a family fun time than a real holiday. What's the difference? The difference is you have fun with your family and cousins but you still end up spending hours in the kitchen or shouting at the children asking them to behave. While, on a holiday, you don't care even if your house is burnt down by a handful of toddlers!!! But we are having an absolutely gorgeous time with my Sister-In-Law's family and Little T is loving every minute of it as her cousin brother is only 4 months younger to her. 

So you can imagine the state of my home right now which is packed with two adrenaline rushed toddlers, a super bored Nintendo playing adolescent, a fat lazy cat and 4 adults all trying to do ''stuff' in the kitchen! In one word - Mayhem!!! So what made me decide to add another mayhem of making Rasmalais to this already existing utter chaos? I made it coz I was on a high after cooking day and night to feed 8 mouths 3 times a day.  And this time I did not forget to take the pictures of all the steps as I wanted to do this tutorial since the day I made Rosogollas for the very first time. There are a thousand websites and blogs offering almost the same recipe and I'm no different. But hopefully the step by step pictorial recipe will guide you better :).

Ras Malai/Rosho Malai (Originated in Orissa but got her true identity in Kolkata) 
Soft Cheese Dumplings in Sweetened Milk 


For the Gollas/Dumplings: 

Full Fat Cow's Milk - 2lt (will make about 24 Rosogollas)
Juice of 2 limes
Muslin Cloth/Fine strainer

For the Sugar Syrup:

Water - 5 cups
Granulated Sugar - 3-4 cups...or more(depending on whether u have a sweet tooth or not!)
Rose water - 2 tsp
Saffron - 1 small pinch

For the Sweetened Milk:

Full Fat/Whole Milk - 1 lt
Cardamom Powder - 1 tsp
Chopped Pistacchios - 3tsp
Saffron Strands - a pinch


For the Gollas:

1. Heat the milk in a deep bottomed sauce pan and bring to boil.Add the lemon juice slowly to curdle the milk. 

2. Once the milk is fully curdled and the green whey has been released, place the muslin cloth on a strainer and slowly drain the whey out. 

3. Keep the paneer(cheese) under cool running water for a few seconds (this will remove any smell of lime). 

4. Tie the ends of the cloth and hang for an hour.In a large bowl or plate start kneading the paneer. Knead for about 5-10 mins or more till the dough is soft and smooth. This is the main part of the recipe as it will decide your and your Roshogolla's fate! The more you knead the better and softer treats you simple as that! 

5. Divide into equall sized round smooth balls(flattened balls for Ras Malai). Keep an eye on the size of the balls as they will get bigger-about double the original size!!. Make sure the balls are crack free. 

For the Syrup and the Rosogollas:

6. Heat water and sugar in a wide mouth stock pot. Add the rose water.

7. Lower the heat and add the balls one at a time. Cover the pot and cook on lowest flame for about 40-45 mins. 

8. Remove lid and add the saffron strands (If you want to make only Roshogollas)  Take the pan off heat and let it sit for 5 mins. Garnish with roughly chooped pistachios and serve warm. (Can be refridgerated upto 5 days in an airtight container. )

For the Sweetened Milk : 

9. Boil the milk kept for dunking the dumplings. Add the saffron strands and cardamom powder and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring continuously until the Milk is reduced to half.

10. Add 5-6 tbsp of the sugar syrup, one spoon at a time, and mix well. Keep on tasting for the sweetness. Add more if needed (DONOT make it too sweet as the Roshogollas/Dumplings will be sweet already).

11. Once the milk is done add the Roshogollas to the milk and dunk well. Take off heat and let it stand for 10 minutes. Remove the Roshogollas carefully with a serving spoon as they tend to break easily. Place them in a shallow bottomed wide serving dish in order to avoid overlapping. Pour the milk on top. Add pistacchios and serve warm. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Deemer Devil (Devilled Eggs with a Bong twist)

My family can be called an Egg Family because we all love eggs. Little T, DH, our cat Tom and myself are all ardent devotees of this versatile form of protein! DH claims that he used to eat 12 eggs at one go on his little motor racing trips to small village railway stations on the outskirts of Kolkata. I have personally seen him devouring 4-6 at one go. I cannot be that brave and can only risk 2 at one single time. But never the less we both love eggs and fight over it every time I cook a curry or a quorma or even any types of omlettes. 

DH has his typical habit of suddenly calling me on his way back from work and demanding a ''special'' kind of snacks. Normally he would say ''make something quick and easy'' and then on the contrary, upon asked what he would like. he would name something quite difficult and exotic! Sticking true to his nature he demanded ''Deemer Devil'' the other day, out of no where! So I searched for the recipe on the internet as I've never made them before, though ate them a thousand times. Wikipedia came up with the definition of Devilled Eggs : ''Deviled eggs or eggs mimosa are hard-boiled eggs cut in half and filled with the hard-boiled egg's yolk mixed usually with mayonnaise and mustard. Deviled eggs are usually served cold. They are served as a side dish, appetizer or a main course, and are a common holiday or party food.''

Hmmm....but unfortunately we Bengalis do not know simple food like the Wikipedia's version of Devilled Eggs. Our Deemer Devils are deep fried balls of delight with half an egg inside stuffed with spicy yolk mixture. So I went through a few recipes and came up with a version of my own. I was surprised at how quickly this can be made, provided you have all the ingredients handy. 

Deemer Devil - Devilled Eggs with a Bong Twist

Ingredients : 

Hard boiled Eggs - 3 halved (this will make 6 devils...use more if you are feeding a herd)
Boiled and peeled potatoes - 2 medium
Onions - 1 large thinly sliced
Garlic Paste - 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies - 2 chopped (optional)
Corriander Leaves - 2 tbsp chopped
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil for deep frying

For the Coating : 

Whisk one egg, 2 tbsp plain flour and a pinch of salt. 

Method : 

Separate the egg yolks from the hard boiled egg whites. Mash them in a large bowl along with the potatoes. Heat little oil in a pan and fry the onions and the green chillies. Add them to the mashed potato-yolk mixture. 

Add all the spices and the salt to the stuffing and mix well. Now make 6 equal balls out of the stuffing mixture and add them to the egg halves in a way that they look like full eggs. Another method is to cover a whole halved egg with the mixture(that way it will be easier to coat the ball evenly with the batter). 

Now dip each devil in the egg-flour batter and roll them on a plate of bread crumbs. Make sure the devils are covered evenly on all sides. At this point you can freeze a batch for future use or refrigerate if making a day in advance.

Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the devils. Soak excess oil on kitchen towels. Serve hot with tomato ketchup and thinly sliced cucumber and onion salad. 

Will be off blogging for a week now as sis-in-law and her family is coming to visit. Happy times again for us and especially Little T as she will get to play with her cousin brothers. See you all after a week and happy blogging :). xxx

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Robibarer Mangshor Jhol (Sunday special Bong style Mutton curry)

One of my favourite childhood memories include my mother, sunday lunches with my cousin brothers and sisters, old bengali film records played on the gramophone and the smell of bengali garam masala(a special spice blend) in every nook and corner of the house. Sundays when I was a kid used to be grand affairs at home. A huge sumptuous lunch of Uchchey Bhaja(fried bitter gourds), Dal, Alu Posto(potato in poppy seed paste), Mutton Curry and Chutney(mostly tomato) followed by a forceful afternoon siesta by the elders and the eager anticipation for the old bengali Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen films shown on Doordarshan.

Anyway, going back to the mutton curry now, the best part was the eagerness we had to be the first taster and often we had to fight among ourselves to be the privileged one. The worst part being chosen as the little helper by my mother to peel the onions when the maid did not turn up or ''forgot'' to do it before leaving which happened frequently! But at the end the pain and hard work did pay off in the form of half a fried potato kept aside for the curry. The kitchen used to be a mess with vegetable peels kept in piles, freshly ground spices kept in bowls , large bowls full of sliced onions and tomatoes and amidst all this mess stood my Ma in her sweat damped saree which I loved to dig my face into.

Finally the clock struck 2pm and by God's grace if everybody managed to shower, be presentable at the table and some of us still did not faint after smelling the heavenly fragrance all morning, we got what we waited to eagerly all mom's mutton curry! And no Michelin Star restaurant or even Golbari (famous for the named curry) can ever come close to that heavenly taste! One of my biggest regrets in life is I never got a chance to learn cooking from my mother. Through many experiments I've finally managed to get a flavour and taste like her curry in mine. Though when I made it for my Chhotomama(mom's youngest brother) he complained ''Chhordi-r moton hoini kintu khub bhalo hoyechhey''(not like my sister's curry but still very good). I guess I'll have to live with that. :)

Sunday Treat - PNathar Jhol (Mutton Curry)

Ingredients : 

Goat Meat - 1 kg
White Potatoes - 2-3 large halved
Onion Paste - Made of 3 large onions or 4 medium ones
Ginger Paste - 2 tsp
Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
Skinned plum tomatoes - 2 medium (I use the canned ones)
Yogurt - 3-4tbsp
Mustard Oil - 1tsp
Vegetable/Sunflower Oil accordinly
Bay Leaves - 2

Make a paste with the following ingredients : 

Tamarind Paste - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 2tsp
MDH Meat Masala (Optional) - 2tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder - 1tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1tsp
2-3 tsp water

Dry roast and grind the following to make the perfect Bengali Garam Masala :

3-4 Green Cardamoms
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
5-6 Cloves

Method : 

Marinate the meat with the yogurt and mustard oil and keep refrigerated for a few hours, preferably overnight.

Heat cooking oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I use pressure cooker). Fry the potatoes and keep aside. Add the bay leaves and saute for a few seconds. Add the onion paste and fry well till golden in colour. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and mix well. Cook on moderately high flame till the masala is cooked well and the raw smell is gone. 

At this point add the tomatoes and cook till they are soft. In the meantime boil some water separately and make the wet masala paste. 

Once the tomatoes are cooked well and oil separates add the masala paste and cook on medium flame for sometime. Add splashes of hot water so that it doesn't burn. Now add the marinated meat to the masala and cover the meat pieces with the masala. 

Now comes the tedious but main task of mixing and cooking on moderately high flame. This procedure is called ''Koshano''(that's where the name Kosha Mangsho is derived from). You have to do this thing for atleast 30 minutes to get rid of the raw smell of meat and the flavours of the spices in. 

Add hot water (this has to be done since this is a ''Jhol''-spicy stew). If you are cooking in a pan/kadhai then add the potatoes near to the time when the meat is almost done. If you are cooking in a pressure cooker then put everything in and cook till 6-7 whistles (or according to your pressure cooker's guidelines).

Once the meat is tender sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the dry Garam Masala powder. Serve it with plain white rice and onions, lime and green chillies on the side. It also goes well with Luchi/Puri (deep fried puffed Indian bread).

A Blissful Holiday :)

Finally I got the much deserved holiday in one of the best places in the UK, Dalton Forest in Lake District. Everything about this holiday was perfect. The destination, the drive, the company, the food and the cottage we stayed in! The Cottage was a self serviced luxury cottage and the owners were very friendly and helpful. The place was quiet with only stretches of green fields at the back and forest and hills in the front! It was quiet that we could hear crickets and frogs all night. It was an out of this world experience! :)

Our Cottage

 I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
- William Wordsworth
                                Inside Wordsworth House, Cockermouth
We were a bit worried about Little T's reaction to such a grown up vacation but she loved every bit of it. Being a super friendly child, she was just happy to go out with our friends. We did a little detour after the Wordsworth House to see an Ostrich Farm nearby and she absolutely loved it! 
It rained cats and dogs through out our holiday but I didn't mind as the place looked gorgeous in the rains. The green stood out and it gave a natural HDR-ish rustic look. Our next stop was Ambleside Falls which was again on top of a hill inside a forest and the view was breathtaking! We followed the trail through the jungle to the top and then climbed down a dirt path. 
                                                              The walk to the falls
Tried my hand at HDR editing for the first time :). I am quite happy with the results :).
Ambleside Falls
We ended our trip with a ferry ride at the Ulswater Lake. Little T created lots of tension after getting into a small accident and ending up with a dislocated elbow. So had to include the Penrith Hospital's A&E in the itinerary as well. Luckily there wasn't much rush and she was attended to quite fast. She enjoyed all the pampering by 5 nurses and the wonderful doctor, you can tell! They spoilt her with a PINK(!!!) teddy bear called Millie and candies. Later on she kept on asking me if she can go back to the hospital again as she has got an ''Ouch'' on her hand! :)
For more photos of the gorgeous Lake District click here.