Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gourmet food made Easy

After some serious cooking over the weekend I decided that Monday is going to be one easy day for me. So I did not bother much about lunch and made do with some leftovers from last night. But by evening I started getting restless and once again landed up in the kitchen. Most of you would find this crazy but the kind of solace i find in the kitchen i find nowhere else. I raided the fridge and found some lovely chicken breasts lying around.I don't like making any gravy dish with chicken breast as they tend to get very hard and chewy as u cook them. So last night i decided to go the conti (nental) way!! And what turned out what something truly gourmet in taste and presentation. I made " Pan fried chicken breast in a white wine sauce" with some creamed potatoes and grilled tomatoes by the side.

Ingredients :

For Pan fried Chicken:

Chicken breast - 2 pieces

Salt - to taste

Crushed pepper - to taste

Olive oil - 2 tbsp

White wine - half cup

Butter - 2 tbsp

Whipped cream - 1 tbsp

For Grilled Tomatoes :

Tomatoes - 2 large

Dried  oregano - 1 tsp

Olive oil - 1tsp

For Creamed Potatoes :

Boiled potatoes - 2 large

Milk - half cup

Salt - to taste

Pepper - to taste

Grated cheddar cheese - 1 cube

Butter - 1 tsp

Olive oil - 1 tsp

Parsley - for garnish


Lets first start with the creamed potatoes.

Mash the boiled potatoes so that there are no lumps. I usually grate the boiled potatoes for a smooth finish.

Heat butter and olive oil in a pan , add the mashed potatoes , add the milk and mix well so that it gets a creamy texture. U could adjust the quantity of milk accordingly.

Toss in the grated cheese , salt( keep a note that cheese is salty too ) and pepper . Mix well and keep aside.

Now lets get to the chicken.

Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts. Make slits all over and marinate with salt , pepper and olive oil. Let it rest for half an hour.

Heat up a pan till its smoking hot, put in the chicken breasts ( i did not use any more oil as the marinade had olive oil already ). Fry on each sides for 5-7 mins each. You could also toss in the tomatoes along side the chicken like i did or grill them separately in the oven.

Once the chicken starts getting a light brown colour, take them off the pan and keep aside. Same with the tomatoes.

Now in the same pan , put in the white wine. Once it starts simmering, add the butter , some crushed pepper and finish with the cream. This is your sauce.

Take a plate . Put a few spoonfuls of the creamed potato sprinkled with parsley on the side. Arrange the chicken pieces, pour the sauce on top. Serve hot along with the grilled tomatoes.

I served this with some fresh home made buns ( more on that later ) and needless to say made the husband super duper happy!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Healthy Chicken

The other day I was wondering what new can I do with the boneless chicken lying in the freezer. I figured that I also had some fresh veggies – carrots and French beans lying around. So I decided to tweak the recipe of the classic chicken stew and converted it into a healthy "Chicken with Veggies in a spicy broth!! Used the everyday spices but the result was simply awesome.

Ingredients :
Boneless chicken – 300 gms
Carrots – half cup diced
French beans – half cup diced
Potato – half cup diced
Tomato – 1 diced
Onions – 1 medium chopped
Garlic – 2 pods crushed
Ginger – 1 tbsp chopped
Pepper corns – 8-10 nos
Bay leaves -  2 nos
Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1tsp
Coriander powder – 1tsp
Chicken stock  - 2 cups or just use warm water
Salt – to taste
Butter -  1 tbsp

In a pressure cooker , add the butter, next add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Put in the chopped onion, crushed garlic and chopped ginger. Saute till the onions get a light brown colour.
Next add the chicken pieces and the chopped vegetables. Saute the veg and chicken for 5-10 mins till they turn a light brown in colour. Add in the dry spices – coriander powder and kashmiri chilli powder and salt.
Cook the masala for 2 mins and add the chicken stock or warm water. Once the gravy starts simmering put on the lid of the cooker and cook till 2 whistles.
Serve this with buns or just plain white rice – tastes yummy with anything.  If you like ur curry very spicy can add a few green chillies too!

Char Grilled Pomfret

Pomfret is a fish that i haven't eaten ever but cook it a lot coz this is one of husbands favourite fish. You could just give him a pomfret fry and dal-rice and he would be a happy soul. But the creative bug in me dosent let me do so. I like to marinate the fish in some simple spices and then grill it most of the times. Here is the recipe for "Char grilled Pomfret " - ideally should be done on a coal grill but since that's not possible always i just bake it in an oven or you could simply shallow fry in a pan as i did today as i was super pressed for time.

Ingredients :

Pomfret fish - 2 whole fish

Spring onions - a handful chopped

Coriander leaves - a handful chopped

Tamarind paste - 1 tsp

Dry red chili - 2 nos

Garlic - 2-3 pods

Turmeric powder - 1tsp

Olive oil - 2 tbsp

Salt - to taste

Method :

Clean the fish ,make slits on both sides of the fish, rub salt and turmeric and keep aside for 5 mins.

For the marinade :

Grind together - spring onion, coriander leaves, dry red chillies, garlic, tamarind paste and 1 tbsp olive oil together into a coarse paste.

Marinate the fish in this mixture for half an hour.

Take a non stick pan , add 1 tbsp olive oil , once the oil heats up properly add the fish along with the marinade and fry evenly on both sides till the masala mixture gets a charred ( not burnt )texture.

Alternatively, grease a baking tray with olive oil and bake the fish at 250 C for half and hour.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blockbuster Prawns

Last two days was pretty frenzied so could not really produce anything spectacular in the kitchen. We did ok with simple dal - rice routine but today being Saturday something special had to be done. Husband was already looking forward to some sumptuous food and what better and easier than cooking a prawn dish. I decided to go back to a basic dish which uses minimalist ingredients but tastes simply WOW. Presenting here the recipe of the classic " Chingri Malai Curry " - my way!!

Ingredients :

Medium sized prawns  - 500 gms ( shelled and deveined )

Onion juice - 1 cup ( now this is nothing fancy, just grind 2 large onions in the mixie and strain the juice through a sieve )

Ginger paste - 1 tbsp

Whole garam masala - 2 each of cardamom,cloves and a stick of cinnamon

Bay leaves - 2 nos

Coconut milk - half cup ( i used the ready made tetra pack ones )

Turmeric - 1tsp

Kashmiri red chilli powder - 1 tsp

Ghee - 2 tbsp

Sugar - 1 tsp

Salt  - to taste

Green chillies - 4-5 for garnishing

Method :

Wash and clean the prawns. Marinate with salt and turmeric and saute in refined oil. Keep aside.

In a pan, add the ghee, then add the bay leaves and the whole garam masala. Once they splutter add the onion juice and the ginger paste.

Let this cook for 10- 12 mins, till the water of the juice dries up. Next add the turmeric powder, kashmiri red chilli powder, sugar and salt. Mix well and cook for another 5 mins or until the masala starts leaving oil on the sides.

Add half a cup of warm water so that it prevents the masala from burning.Once the gravy starts simmering add the coconut milk ( pls keep stirring while u add this to prevent curdling ) and cook for 2 mins.

Next add the sauteed prawns . Mix well, cook for 2 more mins and remove from heat.Garnish with slit green chillies and serve hot  with plain rice - simply yummy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chicken Delight

Honestly speaking by Wednesday i get into this mid week groove and don’t really like getting into cooking elaborate dishes and stuffs.But after the Tuesday veg day dedication the family looks forward to digging into some non veg stuffs!! So today i stuck by with chicken and made a dish thats so easy to make( using the everyday onion –ginger-garlic paste)  but gives the feel of a party dish. This is also one dish i have cooked many a times for friends and family and they have immensely enjoyed it ( even if i may say so myself !!! ) Hope many of you will try out this easy recipe of “Methi Chicken” that am sharing today.

Ingredients :
Boneless chicken – 300 gms ( use could also use the ones with bones, turns out just fine )
Onion paste – 6 tbsps
Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
Curd – 3 tbsp
Kasuri methi – 1 tbsp  ( keep it soaked in some warm water so that the re is no bitterness of the methi)
Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Whole garam masala – 2 each of green cardamom , cloves and cinnamon stick
Salt  - to taste
Fried onion slice – 1 onion deep fried in a tbsp of oil
Refined oil – 2 tbsps
Warm water – 1 cup for cooking

Method :

Marinate the chicken  with curd,kashmiri red chilli powder and coriander powder. Keep aside.
In a pan, splutter the whole garam masala and add the onion – ginger – garlic paste.Fry this mixture well on low flame till the paste turns nice golden brown in color. ( its very imp to fry on low flame or it will burn or not cook properly and leave a taste of raw onion later )
Next add the chicken along with the marinade and cook for  10-12 mins adding water every time it dries out.The chicken also gets cooked easily in the process.
Once the water dries out and the gravy becomes thick, add the salt, kasuri methi and half of the brown onion slices.Mix well and remove from heat.
Garnish with slit green chillies and the remaining brown onion slices.

Do try this and find the compliments pouring in!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Crispy Bites

Fish is an essential part of everyday Bengali cuisine and there are times when you are just so tired of making the same old gravy style dishes. Bhetki is one such fish that is enjoyed in my household both by my husband and surprising also my four yr old son and what better way to cook it but the crispy way.The recipe of "Crumb fried Bhetki" that i have here is super simple and the end result simply superb!!

Ingredients :

Bhetki fillets - 8 -10 pieces
Ground pepper - 1 tbsp
Parsley (chopped or i used the dried version ) - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice - 3 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Egg - 2 nos
Bread crumbs - 1 cup ( I just grind rusks or toasts into a powder)
Refined oil - for frying

Method :

Wash and clean the fish fillets and pat them dry.

Marinate the fillets with lime juice,salt,pepper,parsley,ginger paste.Mix well and keep aside for half an hour.

Beat the eggs in one flat dish, season with salt and pepper.

Spread the bread crumbs on a plate. Dip the marinated bhetki fillets in the egg mixture, roll in the bread crumbs.

Pan fry the fillets on low flame till the fillets gets golden colour on each side.

Serve hot with kashundi ( Bengali version of the mustard sauce ) and fresh salad of cucumber and onions.

This fish will just melt in your mouth - trust me !

Monday, July 23, 2012

A pinch of Saffron

Every Tuesday morning I wake up wondering - God what should i cook today. The family being ardent Hanuman ji fan we dedicate this day to him by sticking to vegetarian food ( quite a task for us meat and fish lovers ). Having maxed out on dishes like Palak Paneer, Paneer masala and the likes today i decided to do something new to the Paneer! A pinch of saffron and the outcome i must say was wonderful. So here it is, my version of "Kesariya Paneer" - paneer gravy dish laced with the delicate flavours of saffron.

Ingredients :

Paneer  - 200 gms - cut into small rectangles
Boiled onion paste  - 5 tbsps
Cashew/Raisin/Almond  paste - 2 tbsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Curd - 1 tbsp
Cream - 1 tbsp
Whole garam masala ( green cardamom/cloves/cinnamon ) - 2 each
Refined oil - 1 tbsp
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
Saffron - a pinch ( soaked in warm milk )

Method :

Cut the paneer in small rectangles and keep aside. You could also lightly saute the paneer and keep it soaked in a bowl of warm water to keep it soft.

In a non stick pan , add oil , splutter the whole garam masala.

Next add the boiled onion paste and cook for 2 mins. Pls note the onion will not change color and we want a white gravy.

Then in goes the kaju - kishmish - almond paste, curd and salt.Cook for another 2-3 mins till oil starts appearing on the edges.Add the warm water and let the gravy simmer for another 2 mins.

Now add the paneer cubes and the cream. Mix well. Finish by adding the saffron infused milk.

Your beautiful "Kesariya Paneer" is ready to be served. Today am serving it with some palak paranthas - cheat way to feed the 4 yr old some green veggies!

Gourd Exotica!

Now who likes to eat bottle gourd ( Lauki )..very few votes there i guess! But honestly it is one of those vegetable that i cook a lot and mainly for this one dish. This recipe that i am sharing today is actually a very simple one but somehow transforms a mundane veg like lauki into something so exotic. "Lau Chingri" or bottle gourd with prawns is a dish so commonly made in all bengali kitchens...something i have grown up eating. So here it is..my version!

Ingredients :

Bottle gourd (lauki) - 1 medium sized finely chopped
Small sized prawns - 250 gms shelled and deveined
Paanch phoron - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2
Ginger - 1 tbsp finely chopped
Green chillies - 2 or 3
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - a pinch
Ghee - a dollop for garnishing
Mustard oil - for cooking

Method :

Clean the prawns and marinate with a bit of turmeric powder and salt. Fry this is hot mustard oil for 5 mins or till the prawns get a golden brown colour.

In a pan, add 1 tbsp mustard oil, once the oil is hot splutter the paanch phoron and red chillies.

Next add the finely chopped gourd and fry for 2 mins.Once the gourd starts to soften up and release water add the turmeric powder and chopped ginger.Cover and let it cook till all the water evaporates.

Now add the salt ,green chillies (slit into half) and sugar, mix well and let it cook for another minute.

Lastly add the fried prawns,mix well and finish with a dollop of ghee.

"Lau chingri" or Gourd exotica as i call it is ready to be served.

There is also a vegetarian version 'Lau Moong" where just substitute the prawns with dry roasted moong daal!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sweet nothing

For  a long long time now i have loved cooking. The inspiration here has been my Maa. She is definitely the most fantastic cook ever. Belonging to a foodie family helped too!! As i grew up and started my experiments in the kitchen i could sense that it would give me an immense sense of joy to accomplish cooking a dish. There have ofcourse been many hits and misses but i would continue with my experiments. Then love and marriage happened and thankfully i have ended up with a man who loves food and encourages  my stints in the kitchen! So now finally after all these years have mustered up my spirits to do something related to food and cooking that constitutes such an important part of my life in a focussed manner. Hence the idea of this blog.

Today i am sharing a recipe that has been a personal favourite coz this was one of the first dessert i learnt making as a schoolgirl .

The Caramel Pudding

Ingredients :

Eggs - 3
Condensed milk - half tin
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Sugar - 2 tbsp

Method :

Mix together the eggs ,condensed milk and vanilla essence. Whisk together with blender for 2 mins till it becomes airy and light.

In an aluminium cake tin,  put in the sugar and some water and put it on the stove for the sugar to caramelise. Once the sugar starts changing colour remove from heat.

Pour the egg mixture into the tin.

You can now steam bake the pudding in an oven for 40 mins or steam it in the pressure cooker for half an hr.

Once done ,let it cool and then serve chilled.

This is one of those easy breezy desserts that my 4 yr old son loves too just as i did as a kid!!!!