Burnt Aubergine Dip #cookfromacookbook series

Much before I became a food blogger, I have been a cookbook lover. I remember spending hours pouring over the many cookbooks that Maa possessed, even Sananda, a Bengali monthly which was a treasure trove of recipes, going through the ingredients, trying to imagine the dish in my head and then sometimes experimenting them in the kitchen. My favourite was a Bengali recipe book,more a bible, that had every possible recipe gifted by our Bangladeshi neighbour. The books is in tatters now, still very special. I am hoping Maa will pass it down to me one day! Thankfully this love for cookbook has remained and now I am myself a very proud owner of a worthy collection. Thanks to the many online portals, you can now own your favourite book with just a click! And I am a compulsive buyer when it comes to books – especially food memoirs. With a steady growing stash , I thought it only made sense that I share what I read and cook from it with my readers. So, hereby I start a #cookfromcookbook series that will have me sharing my favourite authors and their creations that I recreate in my kitchen.

Yotam Ottolenghi – a name resonant in the British culinary scene , a chef and cookbook writer with strong Mediterranean roots that reflects deeply in his recipes. I have been following him on the social media for a while now and only very recently got hold of his book ‘Plenty’ a collection of vegetarian recipes or “new vegetarianism” as he calls it. With every new test recipe that he Instagrams,I would go gushing over the use of everyday ingredients and how it is so doable in your very own kitchens. His book Plenty has plenty recipes that can be made a part of your everyday meals. He picks up one favourite ingredient and builds a recipe around it. Much like what we do too. I have been eyeing the Burnt Aubergine Dip with Tahini and finally ended up making it too. A very flavorful condiment that can be served with cut vegetables or even as a refreshing salad in summers.

aubergine salad 1I keep going back to the book looking for inspirations in my everyday cooking and I am sure I will cooking a lot more from this one. The recipe I am sharing today is broadly inspired from the original as I have replaced a few ingredients based on availabitiy. Instead of parsley I used fresh coriander and added some red chillies for the zing.

auergine salad

Ottolenghi and his Burnt Aubergine Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: Dips and Salads
Cuisine: Mediterranean
 
A summery dip made with roasted brinjals.
Ingredients
  • Aubergine/Brinjal - 1 large
  • Tahini paste - 2 tbsp.
  • Water - 1 tbsp.
  • Lemon juice - 1 tbsp.
  • Garlic cloves - 1 - crushed
  • Fresh coriander - a handful - chopped
  • Green chilies/ red chilies - 1 -2 finely chopped
  • Tomato - 1 large - chopped
  • Pomegranate seeds - 1 tbsp.
  • Oilve oil - for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. First, roast the brinjal, with the skin on the gas stove, like we do for Indian bhartas. This can be done in the oven too. But make sure to make deep gashes on the brinjal and smear with some oil, or else it will burst.
  2. Remove the charred skin from the brinjal, scoop out the flesh.
  3. Chop the flesh roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add the tahini paste, water,lemon juice,garlic, coriander , salt and pepper.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and chilies.
  7. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
  8. Serve with pita or crackers.
 

Pudine Wali Moong Dal

Sharing the recipe of a very easy but tasty lentil recipe that is perfect as a summer lunch dish. I have lost my appetite in this heat and all that I crave for is some simple dal-chawal and some light vegetable on the side. Fimish your lunch with a bowl of curd and you are good to go. Even after elaborate menu planning , I end up making a simple meal these days. The mint adds a freshness to your otherwise boring bowl of dal and green beans lentils is very easy to digest. moong dal You could use fresh coariander even along with mint, that would enhance the taste. Note the recipe below :

Pudine Wali Moong Dal
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
 
Ingredients
  • Split green moong dal/lentils - 1 cup - washed and soaked in water for 10 mins
  • Onion - 1 small - finely chopped
  • Ginger - 1 tsp- grated
  • Tomato puree - 2 tbsp
  • Mint leaves - a handful- finely chopped
  • Water - 2½ cups
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Dry red chilies - 2-3 whole
  • Ghee - 1 tbsp.
  • Salt - to taste
  • Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
  • Green chilies - 1-2 as per taste
Instructions
  1. In a pressure cooker, add the soaked lentils, onion, tomato puree, ginger, mint leaves, tomato puree ,salt and turmeric powder.
  2. Coom for 4-5 whistles, till the dal is cooked.
  3. Mash the dal with the back of a spoon and keep aside.
  4. In a pan , heat the ghee. Temper with cumin seeds and dry red chilies.
  5. Add the dal mixture and let it simmer for a min.
  6. Garnish with green chilis and some more fresh mint.
  7. Serve with irce .
 

Kerala Style Chicken Curry

Once in a while when you want to do something different to your regular Chicken curry, this recipe of Kerala Style Chicken curry could come very handy. While I wouldn’t claim that this is the most authentic version and more inspired by the robust flavours of kerala cuisine, it tastes very good nonetheless.

Kerala style chicken curry

Most of the ingredients used are a part of our everyday cooking, apart from curry leaves maybe but that too is easily available now. I use curry leaves in a lot of things like poha , kadhi and even in my simple aloo sabzi that goes so well with luchis! 7 years back when I moved into my house, I was most kicked about having this little garden to myself where I would grow my organic veggies. Curry leaf plant was one of the firsts I had bought and today its turned into a beautiful little tree. Well, more on my vegetable garden later, you go note the recipe!

Kerala Style Chicken Curry
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Kerala
 
Flavourful chicken curry that pairs very well with rice.
Ingredients
  • Chicken - 500 gms - cut into medium sized pieces
  • Onion - 1 medium - finely sliced
  • Tomato - 1 medium - finely sliced
  • Ginger - 1 tbsp. -grated
  • Garlic paste - 1 tsp
  • Green/ red chillies - 2-3 - finely sliced - as per taste
  • Turmeric powder - 1 tsp+1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp+1 tsp
  • Coconut milk - 1 cup
  • Salt - to taste
  • Refined oil - 1 tbsp
  • For tempering:
  • Ghee - 1 tbsp.
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Dry red chili - 2-3
  • Black pepper corns - 1 tsp
Instructions
  1. In a bowl take the chicken pieces, marinate with 1 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp red chilli powder and some salt.
  2. Keep aside for 10 mins.
  3. In a pan , heat 1 tbsp. oil and shallow fry the chicken pieces till golden brown in colour.
  4. Drain and keep aside.
  5. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp. ghee.
  6. Add the mustard seeds, black peppercorns, dry chili and the curry leaves.
  7. Let the spices splutter and release its aromas.
  8. Now add the finely sliced onions , grated ginger and the garlic paste.
  9. Cook till transluscent.
  10. Now add the chicken pieces.
  11. Add another tsp of turmeric and chili pwder each and some salt to taste.
  12. Mix everything well, add half a cup of warm water and let it simmer.
  13. Once the water dries up and the chicen is almost cooked, add the coconut milk and the green chilies.
  14. Let the curry simmer for 2-3 mins.
  15. Remove from heat and garnish with some more grated ginger and chopped chilies.
  16. Serve hot with rice.
 

Lemon Blast Popsicles

This terrible terrible summer. I cant even begin to explain the pain.Especially little kids who have to get back from school in this scorching heat. My worries as a mother that they will fall sick. I am eagerly eagerly waiting for the summer holidays to begin so it provides some respite to everyone.

Everyday when I go to pick up my 8 yr old from school, his only request is to buy him a popsicle from the school icecream vendor. My answer is always in the negative as I feel that would sure shot trigger a cold or a cough. Poor thing, he listens to his mama. But mama has to make sure that he gets a treat once in a while, maybe later in the afternoon when the sun has beaten down. So I made these easy popsicles at home, which my kid can enjoy to his hearts content.

popsicles

There is no recipe to this as such, use any flavour you wish too. The only thing you need to get are some popsicle moulds that are easily available online. You could even use a mix of quash – orange or even pineapple to make these.

Lemon Blast Popsicles
Author: 
Recipe type: Icecream
 
Easy peasy lemony popsicles made at home
Ingredients
  • Water - 4 cups
  • Sugar - 4 tbsp.
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • Lemon/lime - 2 whole - squeeze out the juice
  • Some lemon or grapefruit slices
Instructions
  1. In a bowl first make a lemonade with water, sugar, salt and the lemon juice.
  2. Fill the popsicle moulds with slices of lemon or any other fruit.
  3. Pour the lemon water into the moulds.
  4. Close the lid and stick it in the freezer overnight.
  5. Enjoy with your little ones!
 

Poila Boisakh – A time to celebrate, reflect and eat some Kacchi Biryani

Festivals to many people entail many things, but for a true blue Bengali girl like me, festivals are synonymous with family, traditions and food. Growing up, my family ensured that each festival or parbon as we call them is celebrated with dedicated fervour. Noboborsho, or the Bengali New year, holds a special place in every Bengalis heart, it is yet another opportunity to enjoy, usher in the good times with family and friends over new clothes, elaborate meals and lots of adda. Bengalis and their bhuri bhoj is world famous and we don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to merrymaking.

Just like every year, our plans for Poila Boisakh revolve around food and festivities. As a mother to a 8 year old, I have to ensure that these occasions are celebrated with much fanfare so it creates lifelong memories, which he can carry along in his heart forvever. A typical Poila Boisakh morning, would entail a visit to the temple, donned in new traditional attires, cooking up delicacies in my kitchen, gorging on mishtis and being with family and friends.

Now, coming to food. While quintessentially, dishes like Chingri Malaikari, Kosha Mangsho, Pulao would be a part of the Poila Boisakh menu, one cannot ignore the the perennial love we Bengalis have for Biryanis! Give us a plate of Biryani along with the meat and the potato, we are set and elated. There is this particular Kacchi Biryani – the Dhakai version that Maa makes and I can never get enough of it. With time , I have also struggled to kind of master the art of making this dish and is very happy to share it with my readers here.

A Dhakai Kacchi Biryani is different from the rest of the lot as the here the raw marinated meat is cooked along with the rice in a concoction of flavours. The key is to get the right balance of spices, not too spicy, not to bland, just right with succulent pieces of meat and potatoes. A perfect recipe to bond over with friends and family.

However, no celebration is perfect without a clean home and kitchen. Since the kitchen is the humdrum of activities  during Poila Boisakh, hygiene is of utmost importance. With a young kid at home, I cant help but being hyper when it comes to cleanliness. The advent of summers mean pests and cockroaches and the only sure shot way to get rid of it is to use Godrej Lal Hit.  A premium product from Godrej to keep cockroaches at bay. Its long nozzle ensures that it reaches every nook and corner of your kitchen. Personally, I have been using this product for a while now and I seriously cant complain.

So there! Have the happiest Poila Boisakh, cook up a storm, enjoy the mishtis and have a great time with friends and family without compromising on cleanliness and hygiene. Cherish old memories, call up your loved ones and make some new traditions.

kacchi biryani 1

 

Dhakai Kacchi Biryani
Author: 
Recipe type: Biryani
Cuisine: Bangladeshi
 
A flourful one pot dhakai biryani.
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • For the biryani masala:
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Dry red chillies - 5-6 nos ( adjust according to taste)
  • Nutmeg ( Jaiphal) - half a piece
  • Mace (Javitri) - 2 pieces
  • Green Cardamom - 3-4 nos
  • Cinnamon - 2 small sticks
  • Cloves - 5-6 nos
  • Other ingredients required:
  • Basmati Rice - 2 cups
  • Mutton - half kg ( good quality and fresh. Can use boneless cubes too )
  • Brown onion slices - 4 tbsp + 1 tbsp ( for this just slice up two big onions and fry till golden brown in refined oil or ghee) Also ensure that you keep the leftover oil or ghee.
  • Yogurt - 1 cup
  • Garlic paste - 1tbsp
  • Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
  • Potatoes - 2 medium sized ( parboiled and fried till light brown in colour)
  • Kewra essence (screwpine) - 1 tsp
  • Salt - for marinating the mutton and while boiling the rice.
  • Atta dough - a small ball of dough made of wheat required for sealing the handi/pan in which the biryani will be cooked.
Instructions
  1. Method:
  2. STEP ONE
  3. Dry roast all the ingredients listed under 'Biryani Masala' and grind into a fine powder.
  4. Please be careful not to burn the spices. This 'is 'the most important ingredients of the biryani.
  5. STEP TWO
  6. Wash and clean the mutton. Marinate with 2 tbsp salt and keep aside for half an hour.
  7. After half and hour wash the mutton once more and keep.
  8. Now add the yogurt , ginger paste, garlic paste , 4 tbsp brown onion slices and the biryani masala. Mix it very well and gently too.
  9. Cover this mixture with a cling film and let it marinate overnight.
  10. STEP THREE
  11. Take 2 cups of good quality basmati rice. Wash it under running water , drain and keep aside.
  12. In a big saucepan add water. Once the water starts to boil add 2 tbsp salt and few whole cardamom , cloves and cinnamon.
  13. Next add the rice and let it boil till the rice is almost half done.
  14. Strain the rice and spread it out on a flat surface.
  15. STEP FOUR
  16. Now is probably the easiest part and the last step' assembling' before you can devour this sinful biryani.
  17. Take a handi or a saucepan (make sure it has a proper lid) and brush it with a little ghee.
  18. We will make the first layer with rice and then the mutton.
  19. First rice,then the marinated mutton and fried potatoes , then rice and then mutton again. Finally top it up with the remaining rice. Sprinkle the remaining brown onion slices and the kewra essence on top. Close the lid tightly of the handi and seal it with the dough
  20. Now the final task is to put this on dum or slow cooking as we say. For the mutton to be fully cooked this has to be put on heat for at least an hour. So to prevent it from burning I always put the handi on a tawa/skillet and not directly.
  21. Now forget about it for an hour and then when you break open that seal - simply divine!!
 

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Godrej Lal Hit – The sure ‘hit’ to keep hygiene in your kitchen this Naboborsho

Nababorsho or Poila Boisakh – a quintessential Bengali celebration, of ringing in the New Year with fun, frolic and food. While growing up, Poila Boisakh meant new clothes and a table laden with food. As I grew up, I started understanding the true essence of the festival, which meant starting the new year on a brand new note, where we forgive and forget anything that bogged us down and usher in a fun filled year. Getting new clothes still mattered, but what mattered more was the spirit of the family bondings. Getting together with family over elaborate meals, non stop chatters and mindless giggles. Those were the days.

A lot changes over time but traditions have a habit of tagging along. Now married and with a family of my own, I  too want to welcome the new year with open arms, love and lots of food! For a food blogger, that’s of utmost importance.

As per traditions, a day before Poila Boisakh, I cook up an elaborate vegetarian menu, a family tradition I carry from my paternal side. The idea is to cleanse your palate and your system, before gorging into the non vegetarian meaty fishy delights the next day. And also to have the first taste of seasonal vegetables like kancha aam( raw mango), Enchor ( raw jackfruit ) and Sojne Danta ( drumsticks)

New clothes still hold a very special place! Naboborsho is incomplete if you don’t don a dhakai or a taant – the exquisite sarees without which no Bengali woman is complete. I ensure that I dress my 8 yr old in a kurta – pajama and get one for the husband too. Sending a parcel full of new clothes to my family – ma baba , my little neice ,my sister is so much a part of my celebrations.

New age also means new age traditions. Living in a metro, we are flooded with options of dining out on Naboborsho, if cooking up an elaborate meal is not your thing , there is one waiting for you in every possible eatery in the city! I also take up the offer and do indulge in one authentic Bengali meal and make it a part of my celebrations.

On the first day of the year, however I ensure I cook up a few family favourites at home and make sure my friends are invited and made to taste the delicacies. A typical Naboborsho menu would include Chingri Malai kari , Kosha Mangsho, Polao and some Tomato chutney, to be rounded off with Mishti doi and rosogolla. To avoid sky rocketed prices of fish and meat, ensure you have your freezer stocked couple of days in advance.

With the extended family, scattterd all around the world, the wish to get everyone together on Poila Boisakh ,remains a distant dream. However, the cutting edge technology make it a bit easier. The true spirit of Nababorsho is too make sure you tell your loved ones that you miss them and wish them well always. So a phone call to all the mashis, pishis, kakus, mamas, channa – ponas is a must! That’s what I do every year.

However, celebrations can only be perfect when you need not worry about hygiene,cleanliness of your home. The advent of summers, mean arrival of cockroaches and ants which lead to rampant diseases like food poisoning and diarhhea. The kitchen is attacked by these pests and you as a homemaker are at a loss. Say hello to “Godrej Lal Hit” in such situations. The only effective solution to keep your kitchen sparkly clean and germ free. The deep reach nozzle is just perfect to reach any difficult corner, drain pipes, sink areas and keep cockroaches and other pests at bay.

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Wishing everyone Shubho Naboborsho filled with happiness, good luck and great times.

Disclaimer – This post is in association with Godrej Lal Hit.

 

Chef’s Basket – Chunky Arabbiata Pasta – Product Review

Ready to cook meals – sent to you in a box – with ingredients measured out as required is taking the world by storm. It is still in a nascent stage in India, but in countries like America, people swear by them and these meals are what they eat on a daily basis. I, being  a homemaker, might not be too fascinated by them, but there is no denying the fact that ready to cook meal boxes is the order of the day. And honestly speaking, a decade ago , when I was into a full time corporate job, this would have been ideal for me too. It makes a lot of sense , for people who don’t really have the time and (knack) for cooking a full course meal from scratch but would still want to cook at home, afterall, how much can one eat out or order in! Also there is money involved. Even for someone like me, who loves to cook from scratch, there are days when I don’t want to slog it out in the kitchen. So I was quite kicked to try out Chef’s Basket – Pasta in my kitchen. In their words “ We belive in the art of cooking. And we believe that with a little help anybody can cook. We put our all to create freshest and most authentic recipes from around the world. Our food is natural with no artificial preservatives or added color”

pastaI was sent a box of Chunky Arabbiata Pasta , that came along with packets of durum wheat pasta, pasta sauce and some herbs and salt. The process mentioned clearly and ingredients measured out exactly that would be required to create the dish. Making it is a child’s play if u ask me! Just follow the instructions and you are done!

pasta ingredients

chefs basket pasta

#Taste Quotient – The chunky tomato sauce is quite flavourful without being overtly tangy. The accompaniments like the herb mix and the chilli flakes add to the taste. I kept it simple with just a dash of parmesan on top.

#Quantity Quotient – I would say it would be enough for an adult if eating as a meal. For small eaters, two people could easily share!

#Price Quotient – Competitive and affordable pricing at below INR 100 per box. Also have a good range of variants in pasta and noodles.

#Availablity Quotient –  Easily available in  supermarkets and also online.

Disclaimer – The product was sent me by Chef’s Basket for review and the views are completely my own. No monetary compensation was involved.

Pan Fried Chicken Tikkas

Nothing like quick fix recipes. Recipes that however do not compromise on taste and freshness! My endeavour is to share with my readers, recipes that don’t need you to slog it out in the kitchen. Well, of course there are some dishes that have no shortcut but for the rest if there is a way, then why not?! With the dreaded summers fast approaching, we all like to keep it simple and easy. This Pan Fried Chicken Tikka recipe is perfect to make. Only requires a good marination and quicky fry. They could even be made in the oven.

panfried chicken tikkas 1

A perfect accompaniment to go with drinks for an evening with friends. With the cricket season on, I am sure all of us are having  lot of sessions bonding with friends. Make this for you next adda and wow your guests. Serve with a simple green salad, a fresh raita, some green chutney and a squirt of lime!

panfried chicken

Pan Fried Chicken Tikkas
Author: 
Recipe type: Starters , Snacks
Cuisine: Indian
 
Super easy , chicken tikkas
Ingredients
  • Boneless chicken - 250 gms- cut into chunks - If possible use a mix of breast and thigh pieces.
  • Curd / Yogurt - 2 tbsp.
  • Ginger - Garlic paste - 1 tbsp.
  • Kashmiri red chili powder - 1tbsp
  • Besan/ chick pea flour - 1 tbsp
  • Garam Masala powder - 1 tbsp.
  • Salt - to taste
  • Lime juice - 1 tbsp.
  • Ghee - 1 tsp
  • Refined oil - 1 tsp
Instructions
  1. Mix the chicken cubes with all the above mentioned ingredients except the refined oil.
  2. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for atleast 4 hrs or even overnight.
  3. In a non stick pan, heat the refined oil.
  4. Add the chicken pieces along with the marinade.
  5. Cover and let it cook. This will take around 15-20 mins.
  6. Once the water has all dried up and chicken cooked through.
  7. Remove from heat and serve with salad and raita.
  8. You can also string the pieces on a wooden skewer before serving.
 

Paneer Pasanda

How much can you do with Paneer?! Well , you never know. Personally I find it very difficult to infuse flavours into paneer. Somehow my bhurjis always remain bland and tasteless. For gravies, most of the times I resort to a tomato based gravy so as to salvage the dish. This dish too, is a tomato – cashew infused gravy, with stuffed pan fried paneer triangles. It turned out nice , so I had to share it with you all.

paneer pasanda mainEveryday cooking can sometime get on to your nerves. Even for someone like me, who enjoys her time in the kitchen, it gets a tad overwhelming. With the onset of the dreaded summer, even more. What I like to do is make easy recipes , that doesn’t compromise on taste. This gravy can easily be frozen for few days, and used as and when required.

paneer pasanda 1

5.0 from 1 reviews
Paneer Pasanda
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
 
A rich gravy dish that goes well with rice/naan/roti
Ingredients
  • Paneer - 200 gms - cut into triangles and then halved
  • Tomato paste - 1 large - blanch tomatoes and make into a paste
  • Tomato puree - 2 tbsp.
  • Cashew paste - 2 tbsp. + 1 tbsp.
  • Raisin paste - 1 tsp - blend raisins into a paste
  • Garam masala - 1 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Sugar - a pinch
  • Ginger paste - 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder - 1 tsp
  • Warm water - 1 cup
  • Ghee - 1 tbsp.
  • Refined oil - 1 tbsp.
  • Fresh cream- for garnish
  • Fresh green/red chilies - for garnish
  • Fresh coriander - chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Cut the paneer into triangles and slit them into half lengthwise.
  2. Make a paste of 1 tbsp. cashew paste, raisin paste and a little salt.
  3. Stuff the mixture inside two slices of paneer.
  4. In a non stick pan , heat 1 tbsp. refined all.
  5. Shallow fry the paneer triangles, till gilden in colour.
  6. Drain and keep aside.
  7. In another pan, heat the ghee.
  8. Add the garam masala powder.
  9. Next add the tomato paste and fry till fragrant,
  10. Once the tomato paste has cooked through, add the tomato puree, cashew paste, red chili powder, salt and sugar.
  11. Give a good mix, cook the masalas for 3-5 mins. Add a cup of warm water and let the gravy simmer.
  12. Once it thickens up, turn off the heat.
  13. In a serving dish, lay the fried paneer traingles.
  14. Pour the hot gravy on top.
  15. Garnish with fresh cream, chilies and coriander.
  16. Your dish is ready to be served.