Sunday, February 28, 2010

Apartment 408 Reprise

I have been re-decorating my home, arranging knick-knacks while it was snowing all week. Nothing decadent, but enough to keep me busy and bruise-free. Those who know me know how dipsy I am. Eh-oh! *Giggle*
IMG_5860 IMG_5859 IMG_5999 IMG_6001IMG_5807 IMG_5808IMG_5810   IMG_5770IMG_5752     agarbatti bw

IMG_5839And while I was “preeoccupied” with taking pictures, I clicked this! IMG_5866Even Hollywood could not resist the taste of my Mum’s homemade Gond ke Laddu!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Whole Hara Kukkad

I like fussing around in the kitchen making elaborate meals. I don’t mind dicing, slicing, chopping. But today was all about blending flavors and with absolutely no effort!

This is a variation of the Hariyali kebab we are so used to having in Dilli, except that I have not added crème fraiche and sneaked in some spinach. Also instead of using boneless chicken pieces, I have used a small Cornish hen, cut into half.

Ingredients for the Hara Kukkad are:

1 Cornish hen
2-3 tablespoon hung yogurt
100 grams spinach
50 grams coriander leaves
50 grams mint leaves (I got away by using some which I had frozen last week)
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger
2-3 green chilies (or more if you like the heat)
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
Ghee for basting

mint spinach moMake a smooth chutney with the spinach, coriander, mint, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Add drops of vinegar or lemon juice to smoothen it, do not add water.

Cut the chicken into half and score on both sides. Rub some red chili powder, salt and lemon juice to the chicken. Add all the dry spices and the green chutney along with the yogurt. Use your hands to mix them well on on the chicken. Make sure the marinade is rubbed well on both sides of the chicken. Marinade for 3-4 hours. If you are making this in the summers, please refrigerate.
IMG_5937IMG_5938Preheat oven. Smear the chicken with ghee (or vegetable oil) on both sides. (I poked the two chicken halves on skewers.) Broil for 15 minutes on each side. I like the meat on my kebabs to char a bit on the edges. So I cook for a couple of minutes more.
IMG_5947You can also make this in a gas tandoor or on an Indian tava.
IMG_5949 IMG_5952Squeeze some lemon juice on the chicken. Serve the Hara (Green in Hindi) Kukkad (Punjabi for Chicken) with some salad greens. IMG_5953That’s a whole lot of fresh flavors and healthy spinach on your plate. I have a feeling your little Popeye is going to love this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ek Plate Alu Tikki Chaat

Nobody has the right to mess with my Alu Tikki Chaat, not even the fat lady at the famous chaat shop in Little India. All I wanted was a plate of warm tikki chaat which would remind me of home. What I got instead was a plate of hardboiled chickpeas floating along ONE small, soggy potato pattie. Yes just one. And a tag of a whopping $8 for that plate of *beep*.

The desi chokri (that’s my husband’s nick for me) that I am, I wanted value for money. And all the love and care that goes into making a plate of chaat back home. This is not acceptable. I decided then to take matters in my own hands, and in my own kitchen.

Here is how I transformed potatoes and chickpeas into a mouth watering plate of heavenly, homemade Alu Tikki Chaat.

The ingredients are:

For the chickpea/ chhole:
2 cups chickpeas soaked overnight
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Boil the chickpeas in enough water with all the ingredients. Let them get mushy before you stop cooking. Breaking the chickpeas down with a ladle is also a good idea.
For the patties:
4-5 boiled potatoes
Half tablespoon corn starch
2 teaspoon chopped coriander
2 teaspoon chopped green chilies
Vegetable oil
Peel the boiled potatoes, mash and add all the ingredients and mix well. Make balls (golf ball-size), flatten to make patties. Heat a non stick skillet/ frying pan and place the patties on it. Let both sides get nicely browned. I like my patties crispy, so I brown for a few more minutes. Add a few drops of oil around the patties. Let it brown nicely on low-medium heat. Keep aside.
IMG_5926 IMG_5928
For the garnish:
Half cup beaten plain yogurt
1 small red onion very finely chopped
2-3 green chilies finely chopped
2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
Few drops of lemon juice
Tamarind-jaggery chutney (I make it at home)
2 teaspoon Bhaja Moshla (equal quantities of cumin and coriander seeds dry roasted and coarsely ground)
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon chaat masala
1/4 teaspoon black salt

For plating:
First go the potato patties on a small dish. Drench them with the boiled chickpeas. Drizzle some beaten yogurt and the tamarind-jaggery chutney. Add the chopped coriander, onions, and green chilies. Top the chaat with all the dry spices and a few drops of lemon juice.
IMG_5930 IMG_5931IMG_5934If you can handle all the spices and the heat, do not be skimpy with the garnish.

Serve the Alu Tikki Chaat, literally translated as Potato Patties Chaat, while its warm!
IMG_5936You will be surprised how you can completely turn some plain potatoes and chickpeas into a happy hour of homemade heartiness. (Strange fit of alliteration that!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sensational Cricket & Some Home Baked Cake

So, I was craving some homemade cake. And what better way to enjoy it than for a double celebration- B&P’s second wedding anniversary and Superman Sachin’s first double century in ODI cricket.
learning-sachinI had to celebrate it with the perfect ingredients for happiness: flour, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. The result: phenomenal! This cake tastes of vanilla and is studded with walnuts and raisins.

Here are the ingredients and the recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50 gms coarsely chopped walnuts
50 gms raisins

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs till they are fluffy. Add the flour and mix well. Alternate mixing dry and wet ingredients. Next to add is the vegetable oil followed by sugar. You can also use a regular blender or cake mixer. Add the vanilla extract. Mix well. IMG_5914Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan. Dust the walnuts and raisins with some dry flour. Top them on the cake batter. IMG_5915Bake for approximately one hour.

To check if its done, insert a knife or a toothpick in the cake. If the center comes out clean you know its done.
IMG_5916There is nothing better that the aroma of fresh baked cake filling up your kitchen and house…and your tummy!
IMG_5918IMG_5922 IMG_5919On that note, I hear a little voice inside me saying- Give me another slice! I guess that voice is only going to get louder and louder from here…

Dhokar Dalna

Bengalis are pretty divided between Ghoti|Bangal, Kancha Lonka|Shukno Lonka, Dalna|Jhaal, Mohun Bagan|East Bengal, and not to mention their use of sugar in everyday cooking.

If it makes any sense to you, I am a Ghoti with strong leanings towards Bangal cuisine. But I will keep it West Bengal here today with this traditional Dhoka’r Dalna. Essentially a curry made out of ground Bengal Gram/ Chana Dal fritters.
Chickpea-Pulse-Chana-Dal-This is a vegetarian recipe I grew up on. Its my first time and hopefully not the last. This recipe is pretty involved and needs three steps to reach to the final dish.

The ingredients for Dhoka’r Dalna are:

2 cups Bengal Gram/ Chana Dal/ Cholar Dal soaked overnight
1 large ripe tomato chopped
2 medium size potatoes skin off diced
4-5 green chilies slit
3-4 tablespoons ginger paste
1 teaspoon asafetida powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
2-3 teaspoons red chili powder
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons black pepper powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
Oil, vegetable or mustard

IMG_5868IMG_5871Grind the soaked dal to something in between a fine to coarse consistency, adding very little water.IMG_5872IMG_5873   IMG_5874In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoon oil and add the asafetida powder and then ground dal. Add 2 tablespoons ginger paste, 1 teaspoon each of red chili and turmeric powder. Season with salt and sugar. We do not need to fry this mixture, but just cook till the raw taste of the lentils disappear.
IMG_5875Spread this dal mixture on a clean dinner plate while its hot. Evenly spread it out with a flat wooden spoon. Let it cool down. Cut square shapes or diamonds with a knife on the flattened dal mixture.
IMG_5878IMG_5879IMG_5885Heat half cup oil in a wok and deep fry the dal squares/ diamonds till they are nice and crispy. Almost golden brown.
IMG_5886In the remaining oil, lightly fry the diced potatoes.
IMG_5897Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a wok. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf and let it temper for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes. Let them release all the juices, a little help with the back of a spoon will only do them good.
IMG_5889 IMG_5892Once the tomato is getting mushy, add the red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, black pepper powder and the garam masala powder. Add 2 tablespoon ginger paste and keep stirring. All this needs low heat and patience. When you see the spices all mixed up nice, add the slit green chilies. Add enough water which can later drench the dal badas and the already fried potatoes. IMG_5895Add the potato cubes once you see the gravy of tomato and spices boiling. Let them cook for till they get soft. Add the fried dal squares. Cook them till they soak some of the juices. Season with salt and sugar. The Dhoka’r Dalna is a balance of sweet and savory, so adjust the taste accordingly.
IMG_5898 IMG_5901The Dhoka’r Dalna is a part of a traditional Bengali spread, usually an all-vegetarian fare. Serve it with white rice and a smear of desi ghee.