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Friday, 10 August 2012

Guest Post - Alu Borir Jhol by Rani

Sayantan and Rani of The Glamor Factory fame have been very dear friends. They are not only passionate about photography they are very passionate about what they eat too and that gives two common things that we all share! I am a huge fan of Sayantan's photography and he takes me back to Kolkata a bit by bit everyday through his food photography. Sayantan and Rani have been working on a food album called '365 days of Food' which has got the most amazing photos of almost all our beloved foods from every corner of this world. This is where I saw the picture of Rani's Borir Jhol and I wanted to have a plate of that with steaming rice instantly. I made the Borir Jhol for Baba and it was delicious! Bodi or Vadi is one of the most important ingredients of Indian cuisine and Borir Jhol/Jhal being a very quintessential dish in traditional Bong meal. This is a dish that we all have seen our Didu(Grandmom) making for lunch and the smell of the Bodis simmering in the lightly spiced gravy will bring back the most amazing childhood memories one can ever have! I would let you read what Rani has to say now. :)


Sohini, initially was just someone I met in Facebook through a common friend, the usual story. But what attracted me to her was the wonderful photos she posted on her profile of different food items from all over the world, not to say the presentation which was of course, quite beautiful. I was instantly drawn to the colorful album and kept track of it regularly, still do, in fact. I am a ardent fan of her dessert skills nowadays and just love to see the various cakes and the decorations that flows so smoothly off her magical hands.

By profession I am a graphic designer but food is the true passion in my life, especially when it comes to eating. My partner in crime is my husband, Sayantan and all yummiest things edible occupy a large part of our lives. Apart from eating, he is a specialized food photographer which is just an added bonus, I must say!

Alu Borir Jhol

Ingredients :
10-12 Bodi (or moong wadi if available)
3tbsp vegetable oil (preferable mustard)
2 potatoes, cut lengthwise in thin segments
1/4sp onion seeds (kalonji or kalo jeera) for tempering
1sp ginger paste
1sp cumin
1/2sp coriander
1/3sp turmeric
1sp chilli / paprika powder
1 whole tomato diced or pureed
2/3 cup water
1-2 green chillies for garnishing
Salt as per taste

Method :

Fry the boris in 1 tbsp oil until brown and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil, put in the onion seeds and then the sliced potatoes. Fry the potatoes for a few seconds and then put in the tomato dice/puree. 

After about 2 min throw in all the other masalas and saute for further 2-3 min on low flame until you see oil on the sides. 

Then pour water on it, season it according to your taste and simmer it covered over a low flame until the potatoes are almost cooked through. 

Then put in the fried bodis and simmer for another 3 min. Take off the heat, garnish with slit green chillis and serve hot with rice.


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Guest Post - Dark Rosy Kisses by Ananda of A Pinch of Love

What can I say about Ananda of the ‘A Pinch of Love’ fame? She is an amazing lady with outstanding skills. Her blog is one of the few blogs that I regularly follow and love. She is based in beautiful Finland and she shows us around that gorgeous place and it's food through her amazing space. She used to take time out for a perfect blog post even when she was doing her PhD and trust me when I say that it’s not easy. Not only I admire her enthusiasm for blogging, I simply love the way she uses her props and clicks those gorgeous photos. Whenever I am in the middle of a baking or a blogging disaster (and that happens a lot of times!) I send Ananda a SOS message and she is always there to help me out! Reading this post will make you realise how much time and effort she puts in each post of hers!

I bugged her a lot for this guest post as I have been tied down with the holidays and the little one at home and my dad's visit and like always Ananda didn't take a second to agree to do this post even when she's busy herself as she's taking a break in India with her family. Thank you girl for this post and everything else.

I have known Sohini’s blog from our initial days of blogging; her sweet and encouraging comments drove me to her blog where I felt warmth through her words. Very soon we befriended each other through facebook and now there is no looking back. I’m a great admirer of her sugar art for cakes and cupcakes, different versions of the princess cake and her eastern Indian food makes me drool. Not forgetting to mention the pictures of her little edible princess, which makes me want  big bite of her :), but I go aww! Thank you dear girl for having me over to your lovely space, it’s an honor to be here.

Rare are those recipes when an unexpected combination turns out surprising well. This dark rosy kisses is an outcome after spending hours in flea markets and organic shops looting alluring brown tableware and some organic rose buds. After a series of imagination all I dreamt was the combination of brown and pink. Cherry on top was when my colleague gave me this organic honey, creative instincts worked magic thus these dark rosy kisses were created.

The recipe is the combination of dark chocolate, honey, rosewater and dry rose buds. Honey gives these kisses a dense and moist feel. Rosewater in the desserts and sweets are more of an acquired taste for those tasting it for the first time; let me warn you for you might feel them to be like a scented dessert! Give it an elegant touch by serving the individual pieces on rose petals with a little ribbon tied, an eye appealing treat.

Dark Rosy Kisses

 Ingredients :

125 gram Butter
130 gram Dark Chocolate (70%)
200 - 225 ml Honey (Organic)
2 Eggs
30 gram Cocoa powder (Organic)
50 gram All purpose flour
3 tbsp Rosewater (Reduce if you find the flavor too strong)
7 – 8 Organic dry rose buds crushed
¼ tsp baking power


Preheat the oven to 175 C. Grease the cake pan with butter and dust with dry flour.

In a double boiler melt the dark chocolate and butter. Let it aside to cool.

Sieve and mix the dry powder (all purpose flour, cocoa powder and baking powder)

In another bowl beat the egg until light and frothy. Mix the dry flour to beaten eggs.

Gradually fold in honey and melted chocolate to the egg mixture. Add rose water and
crushed rose petals to the batter and gently fold in. 

Pour the batter to cake pan and bake them for 35 minutes till the inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Centre

Finally she's here in the UK. Yes I'm talking about Lady Summer. Though there are still a few down pours here and there and some heavy floods up North but the temperature is soaring, the gardens are blooming and people are having an amazing time under the hot sun. My garden is a cornucopia of colour this year. Even though I did not manage to do much in the garden this year, the little ones that I did manage to plant yielded blooms that I never thought was possible in such a short span of time.And my little strawberry plant has given about a hundred of fruits already and I'm hoping to get a few more. 


My little girl is excited to see her Dadu (my dad) who is coming to stay with us for 3 whole months! We are so looking forward to all the small vacations and outings and family meals we're going to have and we are busy planning for them everyday!So hopefully this space will have all the ''authentic'' bong dishes that I tend to avoid cooking because we don't really eat them much at home. Also because I don't really know how to make them and will probably go over to Sandeepa's or Sudeshna's for most of the recipes! Yes I am hopeless when it comes to recipes like Khosha bhaja or Sheem bata or Shukto etc etc.

Little T has had all her settling in sessions at the ''Big'' school and she is all set to start a new chapter of her life this September. She is very happy and excited to meet new friends and new teachers but her Mamma is very sad already. The very thought that my precious little one is going to stay away from me for so long everyday makes me feel like weeping. Must be one of those crazy-mother-only things. But I will cross that bridge when it comes. Before that it's almost time for the summer vacations and we are too excited to bring the spirit down.

We had a charity gala night the other day in the memory of a very special girl called Supatra.Supatra bravely fought cancer for the past 1 1/2 years till early this month when her body finally couldn't take the pain anymore and she took her last breath in her daddy's arms on 5th of June. It was my honour to make a few cupcakes for the gala dinner which was held in the memory of this amazing little fighter. May she rest in peace and her family get the strength to cope with this unimaginable loss. I pray to Almighty that no parent has to suffer this kind of loss ever in their lives. Supatra loved fairies and anything pink and purple so I decided to make some dainty Vanilla cupcakes with strawberry jam centres and pink buttercream icing. 

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes -12
Prep time - 5 mins
Baking time - 20-25 mins

I have adapted the recipe from my Hummingbird Bakery Book just for the reason that they are superbly delicious, moist and virtually butter less...well almost!


For the cakes :

Plain Flour - 120 gm
Caster Sugar - 140 gm
Butter - 40 gm unsalted 
Baking Powder - 1 1/2 tsp 
Whole Milk - 120 ml
Eggs - 1
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
Strawberry Jam - 1/2 tsp for each cupcake 
Cupcake Cases - 12
12 hole cupcake tray

For the Icing : 

Icing Sugar - 250 gm sifted
Unsalted Butter at room temperature - 100 gm
Whole Milk - 25 ml
Vanilla Extract - 1/4 tsp
Red Food Colour - a few drops ( can use any other colour)


For the cakes :

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and like the cupcake tray with the cases.
Put all the ingredients in the freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and whisk for 2 minutes or until all the ingredients are nicely incorporated.  Or blend the egg, milk and vanilla extract together with a hand held whisk and add it to the dry ingredients and mix well till it forms a smooth batter.

Spoon a tablespoon of batter in the cases. Add 1/2 a tsp of jam in each of the case and top it up with another tbsp of batter. Place the tray in the middle of the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. It should be quite soft and springy to touch.

Place the cupcakes on a wire rack and let them cool completely.

For the Icing : 

Beat the sugar and butter in the freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment or use a handheld electric mixer on slow-medium speed until everything is nicely mixed. 

Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and add it to the butter mix one tsp at a time  on slow speed. Once everything has been added increase the speed and continue beating for 5-6 minutes or until light and fluffy. 

Add the food colour at the end and beat for another few seconds till the icing is nicely coloured. 

Assembling :

Make sure the cakes have completely cooled down before you start icing them. Scoop the icing into a piping bag and with a star nozzle pipe the icing in spiral motion covering each cupcake. Add a few sprinkles or stars. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Alu Jhinge Posto - A Gourdious Dish

 We have changed supermarket and switched to Morrisons. Tesco might sulk but we couldn't help it. Whoever has seen the recent make-over on Morrisons will understand my decision. The are A-M-A-zing! Especially the array and display of vegetables and fruits has completely blown us off. I have never seen so many different kinds of lettuces under the same roof. The herbs are so fresh that you have to resist yourself from pouncing on them. Everything is vibrant and fresh. And wait..the best part is yet to come. They keep our beloved Indian vegetables in bulk and don't ask for a hand and foot for them. I behaved like a girl in Disney store when I went there. You can't blame me for that. First time in this country I've seen whole, fresh and green Lau/Lauki (Bottle Gourds), Jhinge (Ridge Gourds), Uchchey (Bitter Gourd), Ol Kopi (Kholrabi) and Pepe (Raw Green Papaya). For the past 7 years we are so used to seeing the same in horrible forms, mutated shapes and scratches and scars all over them that seeing these beauties almost brought tears into my eyes. Yes that was going too far but trust me when I say that my heart started dancing in joy and I looked at the husband to see the same pleasure in his eyes.

I remember my Shejo Mama (Maternal Uncle) used to be in charge of doing vegetable and fish/meat shopping on Sundays or whenever there was any get together or occasion at my Mamarbari (Uncle's House). He used to take it upon himself to wake up early in the morning and take the 'Mashkabari Parar Rickshaw(local rental pulled cart) to Kali Babur Bajar in Howrah, West Bengal. He was a man of military discipline and we kids were all very scared of him though now when I think back I don't see him like that anymore.He was very particular about Sunday lunches, probably because that was the only meal he could have with his family. He was a connoisseur in Bengali food and made sure that we eat each and every course of a four or five course meal. So Sunday lunches at Mamarbari wasn't a very pleasurable experience, especially when you cannot jump to Mangsho Bhat (Meat & Rice - The main course) instead of having Uchchey or Dal Torkari (Lentil soup and Vegetable curry) first. He didn't understand that we were kids and we were not supposed to love Jhinge Posto or Uchchey Bhaate, just like we didn't understand the sweetness and emotion involved in a traditional Bengali family meal. 

Coming back to the recipe, Alu-Jheenge Posto (Potatoes and Ridge Gourd cooked in Poppy Paste) accompanied by any kind of Dal (Lentil soup) is one of the ultimate Bong comfort foods. Served with steaming hot boiled rice and a dash of mustard oil or Ghee, it can make any Bong sing Dhinka Chika at any given time of the day!

Alu Jhinge Posto

Prep time - 10 minutes
Cooking time - 20 minutes
Makes enough for 4

Ingredients : 

Potatoes - 2 large, peeled, washed and cubed
Ridge Gourd/Jhinge - 2 large, peeled, washed and cubed
Green Chillies - 2-3 split
Salt  - 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Nigella Seeds/Kalo Jeere/Kalonji - 1/2 tsp
Posto/KhasKhas/Poppy Seed Paste - 4-5 tbsp *
Mustard Oil - 2 tbsp (you can use Sunflower oil if you want)

Method : 

Heat oil in a pan/wok and add the Nigella seeds. Let them splutter.  Add 1 chilli and the vegetables and fry on high heat for a few minutes. Add the salt and turmeric and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done. 

Remove the cover and add the poppy paste. Mix well and cook on high heat till all the water has been absorbed. Add the rest of the chillies and a dash of mustard oil(optional). Serve hot with rice and a dal of your choice. 

(*Note - Poppy paste is normally made using a Sheel Noda/speciality stone Mortar and Pestle. It can also be made using the small Chutney attachment of your food processor)

Musurir Dal/Masoor Dal

Prep Time - 2 minutes
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Makes for 4

Ingredients : For the Dal

Musurir Dal/Masoor Dal/Red Lentils - 1 cup
Water - 3-4 cups
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - A Pinch

For tempering

Nigella Seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 1 clove, chopped(optional)
Tomato - 1 small, chopped 
Green Chillies - 2-3
Corriander Leaves - a few stalks, chopped
Sunflower Oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tsp (optional)

Method : 

Pressure cook the Dal alond with all the ingredients listed under 'For the Dal'. Bengali style Masoor Dal shouldn't be too mushy so cook accordingly (I wait till 1 whistle and then take the pressure out). 

Heat oil in a wok and add the nigella seeds, garlic and chillies and temper for 2 minutes. Add the onions and fry till they start changing colour. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the dal and incorporate everything nicely. Add the corriander leaves and the Ghee if using.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Kolkata style Chilli Fish

Yes. As all of you've already guessed, I'm a huge fan of Chinese food! I love the Indianised Chinese food that we all grew up eating. All those MSG loaded Hakka Noodles, Fried Rices and our very own Kolkata special Chilli Chicken and Chilli Fish dishes. We Bongs have very peculiar food habits. When it comes to street food there's an amazing unity amongst all the communities. We claim that we like fish and rice but the truth is that we eat anything and everything and we simply love to eat. Period. Maybe that's the reason why Kolkata is considered to be food lover's paradise by many. No matter what kind of cuisine you are looking for you will find it there. It's because of this reason, one of the most favourite places on a food lover's 'must visit' list in Kolkata is the China Town or more popularly known as Tangra.

I'm not sure whether there is indeed any authentic Chinese dish called Chilli Chicken/Fish or even Manchurian. I asked a few Chinese friends and colleagues and everybody seemed to be at loss after hearing these names! But then why the heck should I care or even complain! We are talking about one the most popular street food in Kolkata remember? This particular dish is not only available in the Chinese restaurants but also at all the little roadside stalls and even five stars. So you can guess how much this preparation is loved by all us Bongs...well not only Bongs but all the Kolkatans as a matter of fact! 

So suddenly with the KKR winning and all, I decided to make this dish as a tribute to Kolkata. It's a pretty simple dish to make, though a bit time consuming. But the end result is definitely worth the try. My 4 year old loved the fried Fish and we couldn't stop munching on them too. Perfect as starters on their own too. 

Kolkata Style Chilli Fish

Prep Time - 30 minutes plus marinating time
Cooking Time - 45 minutes (Fish needs to be fried in batches)
Makes enough for 4

Ingredients : 

 For the Battered Fish - 

Any kind of white fish like Cod/Haddock/Barramundi - 600 gms , skinned and cubed
Onion - 1 coarsely grated
Ginger Paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
Green Chillies - 2-3 minced
Salt according to taste
Cornflour - 1/4 cup
1 egg
Plain Flour - 1/4 cup
Sunflower oil to fry

For the gravy - 

Onion - 1 diced
Green Pepper - 1 cubed
Green Chillies - 10 halved (more if you want it hotter)
Ginger - 1/2 tsp minced
Garlic - 1 tsp minced
Rice Vinegar - 2-3 tbsp
Dark Soya Sauce - 3-4 tbsp
Green Chilli Sauce - 3-4 tbsp (use any other hot chilli sauce if this unavailable)
Tomato Sauce/Ketchup - 2-3 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Cornflour - 2 tbsp
Water - 1 cup + 1 tbsp
Oil - 3 tbsp

Method : 

For the Fish - 

Marinate the fish pieces with the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies for sometime, preferably 2-3 hours. Beat the egg separately and add it to the fish and mix well. Add salt and the flours and mix until all the fish pieces and coated nicely with the batter. Do not add water as the egg and water released by the fish and onion is enough for this batter. 

Heat oil in a wok and deep/shallow fry the fish pieces. Try to scoop a spoonful of battered marinated fish and add them to the oil. That way the fried fish will be flavourful. Fry in batches until golden brown and remove. Keep on paper towels to remove excess oil. (* These tiny fish bites are perfect as starters!)

For the Gravy - 

Heat oil in a wok and add the sugar. Let it turn dark and add the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the chillies and peppers and fry on high heat for a few minutes. Add all the sauces and Vinegar and mix well. 

Mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp of water and keep aside. Add 1 cup of water to the wok and bring to boil. Add the cornflour paste, season with salt and pepper boil till the gravy thickens. If needed add more cornflour paste to the gravy. Remove from heat and garnish with Julienned spring onions. Serve hot with your choice of noodles, fried rice or even chapatis. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mother's Day and Caribbean Chicken with Rice

It was the global Mother's Day this weekend gone. Though UK and a few other countries have different Mother Days but we still felt the love and mushiness on Sunday as everywhere on the internet I could see special messages, wall posts, photographs and fond memories.I was, hence, trying to remember what it was like when we were small. Did we celebrate Mother's Day, Father's Day or even more common ones like Valentine's Day or even Birthdays. I don't know about others but being from a middle class Bengali family, celebrating Birthdays or Christmas were joyous occasions that me and my brother used to look forward to all year round. Birthdays meant we got to eat our favourite meals cooked specially for us at home, new clothes, a home made cake, a few friends invited over for dinner and a few story books as presents. Christmas was special not only because we got a present each and  a tiny little bright sparkly Christmas Tree from the Hogg Market, but also because Ma used to make the best fruit cake in the world and me and Dada used to steal the chopped mixed dry fruits in the middle of the night. Yes that was the best part of our childhood Christmas Days. We didn't even know that days specially dedicated to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters or lovers existed. Maybe because Archie's Gallery or Hallmark Cards didn't exist either.

How I wish now that we were aware of Mother's Day or Father's Day when we were small kids. We loved our parents then as well. But I am sure they would have loved a special day too, a day when they would be treated like royalties, showered with presents and cards. Cards that are not shop bought, but hand made with clumsy drawings on them and tiny little prints of fingers and palms all over them.  Thinking back now I realise that we never thought of expressing our love to our parents very often. I hardly ever said 'I Love you' to Ma or Baba. I say that quite often now to Ma now. But you see talking to photos is not a very sane thing to do and fortunately or rather unfortunately photos cannot say 'I Love you too' back to you. But I am sure somewhere she is still there and she knows how much I love her or how much I used to love her when I was as small as Little T or a troublesome teenager or even a nervous bride desperate for the mom-daughter talk before the big day. Missing out on so many things have made me determined to not miss a single moment of my daughter's life. 

And there are times when I daydream. And....I have this really crazy wish! You know when you see a movie where somebody's wishes are granted by the Almighty posing as a janitor or even in those flicks where you can time travel and all that crazy stuff. So if I ever by some miracle see my Ma again, I will definitely tell her how much I love her and how much I miss her every waking second of my life. And I will give her a hand made Mother's Day card and see that beautiful heartwarming smile for one more time! 

''If wishes were horses, beggars would ride!''
Happy Mother's Day Ma. 

Caribbean Chicken with Rice

This is an One-Pot dish and is ideal for mommies on the go. It's perfect for any kind of meal and is best served with some green salad on the side. 

Recipe by Sara Lewis
Serves - 4
Prep time - 30 mins
Cooking time - 7-9 hours
Cooking temperature - medium to high

Ingredients : 

Chicken thighs and drumsticks - 8, skinned
Jerk Marinade - 1 small jar *
Sunflower Oil - 2 tbsp
Onions - 2 large, chopped
Garlic - 2 large cloves, minced
Coconut milk - 400 ml, reduced fat
Chicken stock - 300 ml
Canned Kidney beans - 410 gm, drained
Long grain rice - 200 gm
Frozen peas - a couple of handfuls
Salt and pepper

* This is a fruity curry paste that is available on the shelves of all leading supermarkets.

Method : 

Slash each chicken drumstick and thigh two or three times. Rub the chicken pieces with half a jar of Jerk marinade and keep aside for 5 minutes. 

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan, add the chicken and fry over a high heat until browned on both sides. Lift out and transfer to a plate. Add the remaining oil, onion and garlic, reduce the hear and fry for 5 minutes or until lightly browned and softened. Add the remaining Jerk marinade and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and stock, season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to boil.

Transfer half of the mixture to the slow cooker pot, add half of the chicken pieces, all the beans and then the remaining chicken and onion and coconut milk mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the chicken is tender and cooked thoroughly.

Wash the rice the rice about 1 hour before adding to the pot and drain the water completely. Stir in the rice after the chicken is cooked completely, replace the lid and cook on high for 45 minutes. Add the frozen peas(no need to defrost) and cook for 15 minutes more. Spoon on to plate and serve with a green salad.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Butter Chicken - a slow cooked version

First of all I apologise to all my readers for not posting anything for over a month. But those of you who know the real me will know that it is not a new thing :/. But I swear this time the it was not my laziness that was the culprit. It's just that we were all feeling quite down under the weather. We had a glimpse of Spring before it got hidden behind the grey clouds again. The Easter Holidays were the worst ones ever this year with all of us being severely unwell because of a Viral infection. We even had to rush Little T to the A&E because of a tummy bug and it caused severe dehydration. She was poorly for 2 whole weeks and the time dragged. Sometimes, when our kids are unwell, we realise how helpless we can feel as parents. You can see your child in pain but still cannot do anything about it except for offering them even more unconditional love and a safe, secured lap to lie in. 

Anyway I guess that's the part of life nobody can avoid. We all get rough patches and we try and overcome them. That's what life is all about isn't it? Oh and yes our tiny little Cherry tree finally gave us the very first blossoms. We are getting lots and lots of rain this year and my back garden is happy. I can see luscious green lawn, an array of colourful blooms and the first batch of strawberries coming out too. All these small things along with the little one's laughter is more than enough to make me happy. :)

My second baby is not very happy about the rains though. Mostly because thousands of slugs are out and about when it's damp and they are quite dangerous for pets, in case they get stuck on their skin. So I don't allow her to be outside for long. Cats and water don't actually get along very well anyway. She will still try to brave the rains for her morning outdoor ritual  - pooing in my veg patch, eating grass, drinking the fresh rain water accumulated in various empty pots and of course her most favourite activity, bird spotting, and quite literally so. She is one of the most non-violent cats I've ever fact she is probably THE most non-violent cats on the face of earth! She would definitely get a place in the party if Gandhi Ji was still around. Tom hasn't killed a fly in her life. Sometimes I pet-sit my friend's hamsters and Tom would just sit outside their cages and look at them, quite affectionately! Similarly she would sit on the lawn and look at the birds, never trying once to catch them or even scare them away. I've had her for almost 6 years now and she hasn't even hissed at anybody, let alone scratching. She is my angel in disguise.

So since everybody at home is feeling a bit better after the ordeal, I decided to make something nice but healthy at the same time to lift up everybody's mood. Hence I made this Butter Chicken but with as little butter as possible. I slow cooked it and it turned out to be a light but tasty curry dish. Here's how I made it.

Kashmiri Butter Chicken

Serves - 4
Prep time - 15 mins
Slow Cooking time - 4-5hrs

Ingredients : 

Boneless Chicken Thighs - 500 gm
Onions - 2, blended into a course paste
Ginger Paste - 1 tsp
Garlic Paste - 1tsp
1 large red chilli, halved and seeds discarded
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp, roasted and crushed **
Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp, roasted and crushed  **
Cardamom Pods - 1, roasted and crushed **
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Ground Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Chicken Stock - 300 ml
Tomato Puree - 2 tbsp
Fresh Cream
Butter - 25 gm
Sunflower Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
Toasted Almond Flakes - 2 tbsp (Optional)

Method : 

Cut each thigh into 4-5 pieces. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the chicken pieces, a few pieces at a time. Cook on a high flame until evenly browned. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate.
 Add the butter to the wok and when it has melted add the onion paste. Cook over moderate heat until it has just started to colour. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook for a further 3-5 minutes till the raw smell is gone. Stir in all the crushed dry spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato pure and cook till oil separates.

Add the stock and season with salt and sugar. Bring to boil. 

Transfer the chicken pieces to the slow cooker pot and pour in the hot onion mixture. Press the chicken pieces down below the surface of the liquid. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-7 hours. 

Stir in the cream before serving and check seasoning. Garnish with the almond flakes and serve with naan or pulao.

**Notes - It's better if you can make large batches of these dry spices and store them in air tight jars. Makes life easier and the whole cooking process quicker too. Roast large quantities(about 50gms each) of the dry spices like cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon etc separately and grind them. **

Monday, 2 April 2012

Simple Oat Cookies

Spring is finally here! And so are all the garden tea parties, barbeques, colours, freshness, Spring Couture and of course my very old friend the Hay Fever!We cannot have everything good, now can we? I love spring in the UK though. I love everything about it. We never experience spring in India or at least in Kolkata. There it goes straight to 30 degrees after winter. Some, however, may argue that winter there is so mild and beautiful that one doesn't need Spring. But said that it is also true that no matter how beautiful the weather is the freshness in the air is absent and so are all the different colours! The bst part of Sopring in this country is the vibrant colours, especially the greens. 

One of life's simple joys is to sit in the sun with a cuppa and watch the children play. We are enjoying our Easter break now. While it's lovely to spend some quality time with kids, it's also painstakingly busy and hectic. They get bored very quickly and easily and hence expect you to be an entertainer 24/7. So it's a constant array of backyard picnics, movies, pizzas and sleep overs! 

I always keep cookies handy during the school holidays. They are easy to make, can be made in bulk and is mess free!!! The kids can just snack on a couple of cookies and a glass of milk and they are happy bunnies! I have been making this simple Lemon Oat Cookies for quite sometime now and they are perfect accompaniments with your tea and the little one's milk. 


Oat Cookies with a hint of Lemon

Ingredients :Makes 20

Butter - Unsalted, 270 gm
Caster Sugar - 160 gm
Soft Brown Sugar - 160 gm
Eggs - 2
Lemon Extract - 1/2 tsp
Plain Flour - 380 gm
Rolled Oats - 110 gm
Salt - 1 tsp
Bicarbonate of Soda - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - Ground, 1/2 tsp

Method : 

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/ Gas 3. Put the butter and sugars in a free standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment and cream until light and fluffy. You can use a normal blender too. In that case blend for 5-6 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scrapping any unmixed ingredient with a rubber spatula. Turn it to slow and beat in the lemon extract.

Sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Add the oats and mix well. Add this to the butter mixture and beat well until well mixed. 

Arrange equal amounts of cookie dough on the prepared baking trays. Make sure there is enough space between cookies to let them spread. Bake in the pre heated oven for about 12 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Leave to cool slightly in the trays before turning them out on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Prep Time - 15 minutes
Cooking time - 12 minutes

You can add raisins to the batter at the end of the mixing procedure for that ultimate Oat-Rasin Cookies experience. In that case ditch the Lemon extract and add Vanilla extract instead. **