Sunday, July 31, 2011

Have You Tried a the Unique Curry made out of Banana Bark?

Bengali Banana Stem Curry (Thor Ghonto)

I am preparing the banana stem. It tastes similar to a bottle gourd; the texture is somewhat crispy and way more fibrous than the bottle gourd. I was very excited about preparing and trying out this curry. Just the day before, Mrs. Basu my mother’s friend had taught me the recipe and the intricacies of cleaning and preparing the banana stem recipe. Fortunately, the following day, our ten foot banana tree had to be cut down. The fruit was too heavy for the tree but I was ready to rescue the stem and add it to my delicious Bengali curry.

The Banana flower and the banana stem are both delicacies in Bengali culture. If you are new to these ingredients and recipes, like me, it may take a little time to adapt to the flavours and textures of this recipe. I must warn you it is not an easy job to get to that flavourful banana stem. Layers of the bark are peeled and right at the core is an off white, spine of the tree which is used in this curry. 
The Banana Stem or flower, whichever you choose, is first chopped and dipped in water with salt and a pinch of turmeric. For the banana stem, once it is chopped and dipped in the salt and turmeric water, it releases thread like fibres from its surface. These fibres must be removed before cooking the stem.

Banana Bark Curry – Serves 2


Banana bark (Kele ke ped ka tana)    200g piece, chopped 
Salt (namak)  to taste
Turmeric (Haldi)   1 teaspoon
Ginger (adrak)     1 ½ inch piece
Corinader Greens (Hara Dhaniya)    1 cup
Green Chilli ( Hari Mirch)     2
Cumin (Jeera), roasted    1 teaspoon
Bengal Gram/ Black Chickpeas (Kala Chana), soaked overnight     ½ cup
Clarified Butter (Ghee)   2 tablespoon
Green Cardomom (Chhoti Elaichi)      2 pods
Cloves (laung)  3
Cinnamon (Dal Chinni)   ½ inch piece
Bay Leaf (Tej Patta)  1
Whole Wheat Flour (Atta)   1 tablespoon
Milk (Doodh)    3 tablespoons


Cut the banana bark and dip it in salt and turmeric water for thirty minutes.

Remove the fibres of the banana bark with your hands.

Steam the banana bark in steaming vessel or on a strainer placed over boiling water. Allow it to cook for fifteen to twenty minutes, until it is half done. Set Aside.

Make a smooth paste with Coriander, green chilli, Cumin and ginger. Marinate the banana bark along with the soaked Bengal gram in the mixture for an hour.

Heat clarified butter in a pan. Add in the whole spices, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf. Once the whole spices turn a shade darker, add in the marinated banana stem and the Bengal gram to the pan.

Cook for fifteen minutes on medium heat. Stir. Put the lid on and cook for fifteen minutes on a low flame. Sprinkle a few drops of water if necessary.

Mix the flour and milk together in a bowl. Add this mixture in the curry and stir it in. Allow the curry to cook for five minutes on low heat, until the flour in the curry is cooked completely.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Note: There is a lot of iron in the banana bark. It goes black if it is not dipped in turmeric water immediately. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Night.. Time to Get the Good Stuff Out: Long Island Iced tea

It is Saturday night and it is time for lots of alcohol. Tequila with salt and lime? Nope, that's not it. How about white rum with Cola, gin and tonic or some Vodka with orange juice? How about put them all together. I am not up for just a tequila or white rum tonight. I will drink up the entire distillery. To redefine 'drinking like a fish!'.
So, there I am going to pour in tequila and the gin with vodka, white rum and some Cointreau. I am going for some Long island Iced Tea.

Long Island Iced Tea


6 Ice Cubes
1/2 measure Gin
1/2 measure Vodka
1/2 measure White Rum
1/2 measure Tequila
1/2 measure Cointreau
1 measure fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Sugar Syrup
Cola, to top up
Slice of lemon to Decorate


In a mixing glass, put the ice cubes, add in gin, vodka, tequila, white, Cointreau, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Stir well and strain into a glass. Top it up with Cola and decorate with a slice of lemon.

Four of those for me please!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moist Dark Chocolate Mousse with Orange and Vodka: Irresistible

I call this a seduction recipe. It can seduce anyone, your man or your woman, your boss or your colleagues. It is the perfect bribe. I mean don’t get me wrong, chocolate mousse is a great bribe in itself but this just adds that extra X factor that will seal the deal for you. So go ahead because winning has never been simpler.

Layered Dark Chocolate and Orange Vodka Mousse – Serves 2


Dark Cooking Chocolate    2 cups, chopped
Butter      1 tablespoon
Gelatine      1 ½ teaspoon + 1 ½ teaspoon (soaked separately in 3 teaspoons of water each)
Whipped Cream     1 cup
Egg, separated            2
Water    2 tablespoon
Orange, peeled            6 to 8 segments, de-skinned, cut into half
Orange marmalade    1 ½  tablespoon
Vodka     2 tablespoon


For the Dark Chocolate Mousse

In a pan, add Dark cooking chocolate + Butter. Melt this mixture with a tablespoon of milk in the microwave OR
In another wider and deeper pan, add water 1 ½ inch high and allow it to come to a boil.
Place the pan with the chocolate and butter over the boiling water and allow the chocolate and butter to melt in the double boiler.
Once, the chocolate is warm, take the pan off the heat and add in 1 ½ teaspoon of soaked gelatine (that is half the quantity that was soaked in water) in the melted chocolate. Allow the gelatine to melt, mix well.
Allow this mixture to set in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.
Just before layering the mousse, add in ½ cup whipped cream and fold it in the chocolate mousse.

For the Orange Layer

Soak the de-skinned, cut up segments of orange in Vodka for about an hour.
Separate the eggs. Take two egg yolks in a heavy bottom pan, add in 2 tablespoon full of water and stir.
Now, place this pan on a double boiler or very low heat. Whisk the mixture. Do not allow the pan to become too hot. As soon as you see fumes coming out, take the pan of the heat and whisk vigorously. Allow it cool a little and then cook it again. This egg mixture should become thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Take the pan off the heat. Add in the remaining half of soaked gelatine and allow it to melt and mix well. Now, add in the soaked oranges along with the vodka, grate a little of the orange side of the peel in the mixture (orange zest), soften the marmalade and add it in the mixture. Whisk the mixture well, so the marmalade does not form lumps.
Allow this mixture to set for thirty minutes in the refrigerator.
Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks. Remove the mixture, whisk it and then incorporate the beaten egg whites by gently folding them into the mixture. Do not over mix or the mousse will loose its volume.
Fold in the remaining half cup of whipped cream in the orange mousse.

For the Layering

Add a spoon full of the orange mousse in a dessert glass so the layer visible on the side is thick. Set it for twenty minutes.(if the mixture is thick enough you can set it for ten minutes so that the next layer does not sink)
Alternate it with a spoonful of chocolate mousse and set it for twenty minutes.
Similarly, add on two more alternating layers of orange and chocolate mousse. Set it for ten minutes before garnishing it.
While setting the mousse, if you tilt the glass to one side in the refrigerator, you can form diagonal layers of mousse in the glass.

For the Garnish

Orange Mousse on top: with Chocolate Buttons and Orange Wedge on the side.
Chocolate Mousse on top: with a layer of melted chocolate and a curly peel of orange on it.

No Need for Bigger Jeans Mousse; Layered Eggless Mango Mousse

I love eating something special every single day of my life. I look forward to my dessert; it is like rewarding yourself at the end of a perfect day, cheering you up when the day hasn’t been so perfect. I even love to begin my day with something sweet, a little sweetness in the morning to wish you a great day! Obviously, I don’t like to buy a bigger pair of jeans, so, to prevent that I made this. It is fruit and broken wheat get rid of the whipped cream to garnish and it can be served as breakfast.

Layered Eggless Mango Mousse - Serves 2


Mango, large         3 nos.
Gelatin powder    2 teaspoon soaked in 4 teaspoon water
Hung Curd     1 cup
Broken wheat  (Dalia)   ¼ cup
Cardomom Powder     ½ teaspoon
Powdered Sugar   1 tablespoon  (Alternative for the healthy version, use Sugar free)
Whipped Cream   4 tablespoon +  for garnish  (Alternative: use beaten egg whites or hung curd instead for the healthy version)


For the Mango Mousse Layer

Peel and cut mango into thick slices. Keep aside a few slices for garnish.
Grind the mango into a pulp. The pulp will have the fruit fibres and will not be a smooth, mousse like consistency. Strain the pulp to remove the fibres and make the pulp smooth. Do not use a fine mesh strainer.
Soak the gelatine in a glass or metal bowl. To melt the gelatine place this bowl in a vessel filled with some hot water. Once the gelatine melts, add it into the mango pulp and blend it in, mix well.
Allow the mixture to set, in the refrigerator for thirty to forty minutes.

  1. Once the mousse is partially set, add in four tablespoons of whipped cream for EGGLESS MANGO MOUSSE. Fold in the cream gently for volume, do not over mix.

  1. Alternatively, you can also skip the cream and instead use two egg whites with ½ teaspoon on vanilla essence, beaten to form soft peak, to add volume to the mango mousse.

  1. For EGGLESS, MANGO Mousse you can use 4 tablespoon of hung curd and blend it together. The version with the hung curd will add flavour, bulk and volume but it is not as light as mango mousse with whipped cream or egg white.

The Mango Mousse Mixture for the layered mousse is ready.

For the Second Layer

Cook the ½ cup broken wheat in ½ cup water. Bring it to a boil, the broken wheat swells up. Allow the water to get absorbed. Once the broken wheat is cooked and tender, strain it and drain out the excess water. Place the cooked broken wheat in the centre of a muslin cloth, hold the cloth by the ends and squeeze all the excess moisture out of the cooked broken wheat. Be sure to remove all the extra moisture and dry the broken wheat completely.
Flavour the Hung Curd with Cardamom powder and blend in the powdered sugar properly into the hung curd.
Add in the dry, cooked broken wheat to the flavoured, sweet hung curd. Fold it in and do not over mix.

For the Layering

In a small glass with a broad mouth and one that is shallow enough to fit a dessert spoon, add in one layer of the mango mousse with the help of a spoon or a piping bag. Make sure the layer is thick and visible from the sides. Allow it to set in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.
On top of it, add in a layer of the broken wheat and hung curd mixture. Allow this to set for thirty minutes in the refrigerator.
Add in another layer of mango mousse. Allow it to set again.
Add in the last layer of hung curd and allow it to set.

You can interchange the layers by starting with the layer of hung curd.
Top it up with whipped cream OR a dollop of smooth sweetened hung curd and chopped mangoes.
Variation: If you are in the mood to indulge, get rid of the hung curd and broken wheat use Condensed Milk with cardamom or Rabdi in place of the hung curd.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken Roulade, Like a Piece of Art, is Easy But Looks Difficult

I had first seen my teacher, Chef Iyer prepare a similar dish in catering school. Chef Iyer can simplify any recipe in the world. On this occasion, he was preparing Chicken galantine for which he had deboned an entire chicken without separating a single piece. It was like a magic trick one minute there was a whole chicken with legs and wings and the next minute they were gone! There was just a large, juicy boneless piece, ready to be stuffed and rolled. Instead of the wand we will use a knife and instead of the whole chicken we will be using the breast. I like the simple life and I like to be proud of my work. De-boning an entire chicken? I will choose another day to laugh at myself, on a day when I am missing a challenge, a hilarious disaster.

Supreme is a thin, delicate strip of flesh attached to the underside on the chicken breast. It is what we use to make chicken satay. In this recipe this delicate, inner-side of the chicken breast is removed before proceeding, to help flatten the chicken properly.

Chicken Roulade  - Serves 2


Chicken Breast (Boneless)      2
Salt    to taste
Pepper   to taste
Red Bell Pepper    1, cut into long, thin strips (or Julienne)
Garlic     5 cloves
Processed Cheese (Preferably Mozzarella), grated     ½ cup
String/ Thread      1 metre
Aluminium Foil      to wrap the roulades
Butter                     3 tablespoon
Lemon, Juice          1
Coriander Leaves, Chopped   3 tablespoons


Remove the supreme from the chicken breast. Add about an inch high water in a pan and allow it to simmer. Add in the chicken supreme and cook it for 2 to three minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, grind it into a fine paste with a little salt and cloves of garlic.

Slit each of the chicken breasts sideways, cutting through the thickness of the breast and open it up like a butterfly from the centre. Now use the back side of a round spoon and flatten the cut up, opened butterfly breast piece and flatten it evenly. Make sure that you don’t make it too thin, so that it does not tear.

Rub in the salt and pepper. Line the strips of red bell pepper along the length of the flattened chicken breast, apply the chicken and garlic paste, make sure to leave a margin along the sides. Now, place the grated cheese along the length of the breast piece, parallel to the red bell pepper, in one long, thick straight line.

Tuck in the flattened piece along the side margin by folding it inside and begin rolling from one end, parallel to the cheese and red pepper strips and roll the flattened piece completely, like a swiss roll.

Once both the pieces are stuffed and rolled, secure the roulade with the help of a string. Tie one end to form a loop, insert the head of the roulade into the loop, tighten it, then  at a half inch distance, make another loop and insert the roulade securing it further, tighten it. Keep making loops at half inch differences until the entire roulade is secure. Then wrap the string along the length of the roulade and tie a knot on one end.

NOTE:  You can also secure it by simply wrapping the thread around the roulade, along the length OR skip the step mentioned above and directly wrap the roulade in aluminium foil, secure it by wrapping tightly. Refrigerate it for two hours.

Tightly roll up the roulades in aluminium foil and refrigerate it for thirty to sixty minutes.

To Cook the roulade, take a pan and fill it with water enough to dip the entire roulade in it. Heat this water, once the water begins to simmer, add in the roulade with the foil and let it cook on a low heat. Let it simmer in water for seven to ten minutes. Take the roulades out of the water.

Open the aluminium foil, then cut the string and remove it. Roll the roulade in chopped coriander.

Heat Butter in a pan place the roulades and cook it on one side until it turns a golden brown colour on one side. Squeeze lemon juice on top of the chicken and add some to the butter in the pan.

Remove the roulade and cut it into thick slices, pour the lemon butter from the pan on top of the chicken.
Serve warm or chilled with salad and potatoes.

Variation: Instead of the lemon butter, you can pour warm cream and chilli flakes mixed. Serve this with salad and potatoes or butter rice as main course or serve chilled, on its own with crunchy lettuce as an appetiser or party snack. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Four Shrimp Salads; Simple, Straightforward and Refreshing

I love shrimps and you tend to go an extra mile for true love. So, I don’t pick up peeled shrimps, to keep their freshness intact, I prefer to go for the ones with the shell. I love rewarding myself with a cool and uplifting mini-meal after I have put in a little effort in cleaning it. It feels good to work to fulfil your desires, doesn’t it?

Baby Steps To Clean Shrimps

First Rub them with salt and wash them under running, cold water.
Remove the head and legs with your fingers.
Remove the tail or leave it for presentation.
Peel out the shell by loosening it with your fingers from the sides.
With the help of a sharp, small knife make an incision straight down the back of the shrimp, cut through in a straight line using the tip of the knife. Remove the vein by pulling it out or by running it under cold water.
It is preferable to remove the vein since it may affect the flavour of the shrimp to a certain extent.

To get rid of the fishy smell off your fingers, utensils and clothes rinse them in a little vinegar or lime juice. You can just rub a squeezed lemon on your fingers and rinse them.

Note: All the ingredients should be chilled.

No Fuss Shrimp Salad


Shrimps               1 cup
Red Bell Pepper        1, ½ paste + ½ chopped finely
Cucumber           ½ cup, diced, small, without the core
Scallion (Spring Onion Green)    2 tablespoons, chopped finely
Sesame Seeds    1teaspoon, white, toasted
Iceberg Lettuce     2 cups, broken into bite size pieces
Olive Oil        2 tablespoon
Salt    to taste


Clean, peel and devein shrimps.
In a pan, add in two tablespoons of water and the cleaned shrimps with a pinch of salt and simmer the shrimps for 2 minutes, until it turns white and is cooked. Drain out the excess liquid and set aside to cool.

Grind ½ the red pepper with 1 tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt. Make a fine paste.

In a bowl, mix the dressing with the shrimps.

Mix the remaining oil with cucumber, cut up red bell pepper and chopped scallions.

To assemble the salad, in a small plate make a bed of lettuce, place the shrimps with the red pepper sauce over the lettuce, sprinkle the cucumber dices, bell pepper and scallions from the top.

After placing the seasoned shrimps on the lettuce do not keep the salad standing for long since the greens will release their juices and loose the crunchy texture.

Refreshing Shrimp Salad


Shrimps    1 cup, peeled and deveined
Sweet Lime   1 cut into wedges with peels and few cut into dices without peels + grated rind of sweetlime
Cream       2 tablespoon
Salt   to taste
Sugar    a pinch (optional)
Dill leaves   a few
Iceberg Lettuce     1 cup, broken into bite size pieces


In a pan, add in two tablespoons of water and the cleaned shrimps with a pinch of salt and simmer the shrimps for 2 minutes, until it turns white and is cooked. Drain out the excess liquid and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, mix in the shrimps with some cream, sugar and salt.

On the presentation plate, decorate the sweet lime with peel around the edges.

Make a bed of lettuce, place the shrimps in cream over it, place a couple of peeled, sweet lime dices on the salad and sprinkle the dill leaves on top of it.

Serve Chilled.

Spoil Yourself Shrimp Salad


Shrimps   1 cup, peeled and deveined
Mayonnaise    2 tablespoons
Hot Chilli Sauce 1 tablespoon (You can use Tabasco Sauce)
Tomatoes,   ¼ cup, cut into small dices, without the core
Whipping Cream      2 tablespoons (Whipped)
Iceberg Lettuce      a couple of leaves, in the form of cups, chilled
Coriander leaves    a couple of leaves

In a pan, add in two tablespoons of water and the cleaned shrimps with a pinch of salt and simmer the shrimps for 2 minutes, until it turns white and is cooked. Drain out the excess liquid and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, cream, hot chilli sauce with the shrimps.

In a plate, lay the iceberg lettuce cups, place the shrimp mixture in the centre of the cups. Put some dices of tomatoes and coriander leaves from the top.

Serve right away before the lettuce looses its crunchy texture.

Sweet Shrimp Mayo

This recipe is inspired by a Chinese appetiser, which is eaten as an appetiser and a salad at times.


Shrimps     1 cup, peeled, deveined
Cornflour and Egg White in equal quantities, mixed into a sticky mixture
Oil for frying
Mayonnaise        4 tablepoons
Lemon     1, juice
Condensed Milk    1 tablespoon
Walnuts      ¼ cup
Honey    enough to coat the walnuts


Coat the shrimps in the cornflour and egg white mixture and deep fry them.

Coat the walnuts in honey or caramel and set them aside.

In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, Lemon Juice, condensed milk with the fried shrimps.

Decorate it with the walnuts coated in honey.
Serve Chilled.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Little Cheese and Chilli Poppers; A Fun Dish Dedicated to the Love of Swings and See-Saws

My earliest memory of food and the fondest memory of my childhood is the Sunday cheese cutlet. When I was growing up, every Sunday, my parents would take my little sister and me to a little place on top of a hill. My sister and I would play on the swings and the see-saw and then run to our parents when the cheese cutlets had arrived at our table. I can never forget the flavour of those cheese cutlets, with a little green chilli, the satiation and the cool breeze outside the city. Cheers to cheese cutlets and the sweet memories of childhood.

Little Cheese and Chilli Poppers – 15 to 20 pieces


Processed Cheese (preferably Cheddar), grated      1 ½ cup
Potato (Aloo), boiled and grated   ½ cup
Green Chilli (Hari Mirch)     1, chopped
Refined Flour (maida)     2 tablespoons
Baking Powder    ¼ teaspoon
Salt (namak)    to taste
Black Pepper Powder (Kali Mirch Powder)
Egg , lightly beaten       1 in no. , for egg wash (cornflour mixed with a little water can be used in place of egg)
Breadcrumbs        1 cup, to coat
Oil    for frying


In a mixing bowl, take grated cheese, chopped green chilli, boiled and grated potato, flour and baking powder sieved together, salt, pepper and mix all these ingredients together.

Knead this mixture well.
Divide it into 16 to 20 equal portions. Round them up into lemon size balls.

Lightly beat the egg and coat these cheese poppers in the egg.
Now roll them in breadcrumbs to form a coating.

Heat oil in a deep pan, once the oil is hot , fry the cheese poppers until they are golden brown.

Once all the cheese chilli Poppers are fried, serve hot with tomato sauce.
You can also serve it on toothpicks as a party snack.


ü  Once the mixture is kneaded, insert an jalapeno pepper in the centre of the cheese poppers. Round it up and seal on all sides before frying.
ü  You can also insert a piece of fresh Red chilli or pickled Red Chilli in the centre of the cheese poppers and round them up again before frying.
ü  In place of the chopped green chilli you can also use chopped green bell pepper, to make the chilli n cheese poppers less spicy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rasta Pao Bhaji; A Street Vendor’s Secret Finally Revealed

I was overjoyed when after months of asking several Pao Bhaji vendors; ‘How do they make their Pao Bhaji so special?’ one kind, old man finally revealed the Secret of the Rasta Pao Bhaji. You will not believe what that secret is. It is the most obvious ingredient and yet, you and I have never thought of it. It is the Pao Bhaji Masala. We conveniently buy branded Pao Bhaji Masalas never thinking why it does not turn out the same as the Rasta style Bhaji.  So, today I am going to make Pao bhaji without the branded  Pao Bhaji Masala, Rasta-style.

Rasta Pao Bhaji – Serves 4


For the Pao Bhaji Masala (Spice Mixture)

Dried red Chilli (Sukhi lal Mirch)   1
Coriander seeds (Dhaniya Sabut)   2 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds (Jeera)  ½ teaspoon
Black pepper (Kali Mirch), whole   4
Cinnamon  (Dal chini)  ½ inch piece
Cardomom (Elaichi)   2, without the pod
Fennel (Saunf)  1 teaspoon
Clove (Laung)  5
Star Anise   half a piece

For the Bhaji

Vegetable Oil (Tel)    2 tablespoons
Garlic (Lehsun)   5 cloves, chopped
Ginger (Adrak)  1 inch piece, grated
Onion (Pyaz), chopped finely    1 ½ cup
French Beans (haricot verts), chopped    ½ cup
Tomatoes (Tamatar), chopped   2 cups
Capsicum (Shimla Mirch), chopped   1 cup
Green peas (Hari matar), shelled     ¾ cup
Turmeric (Haldi)  ½ teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder (Lal Mirch powder)  ½ teaspoon
Dried Mango Powder (Amchur)  1 teaspoon
Tomato Puree  ½ cup
Salt    to taste
Potatoes, boiled, grated        2 cups


Roast all the spices listed under the spice mixture ingredients and grind them into a dry powder. A little water may be added to aid in mixing well.

Heat oil in a pan and add in garlic, ginger, onions and stir, allow it to turn golden brown.

Once the onion is golden brown add in the chopped french beans and allow it to cook on medium heat for three to four minutes, until it changes colour and is partially cooked.

Now, add in the chopped tomatoes and stir, allow it to cook for five minutes on medium heat until the tomatoes are squishy and cooked.

Stir in the capsicum and the green peas and allow it to cook for two minutes on medium heat.

Add turmeric, the Pao Bhaji Spice mixture that was roasted and ground earlier, red chilli powder, dried mango powder and stir.

Add the tomato puree, stir and cook for five minutes on medium heat until the tomato puree is fully cooked and the raw tomato flavour is completely gone.

Add in salt and potatoes and stir them into the mixture.

With the help of a round spoon or pao bhaji masher, mash the entire mixture to mix it well and get a uniform consistency.

Serve hot with lots of butter, chopped onion, lime wedges and toasted pao with butter. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Five Things You Must Know To Get Your Tandoori Chicken Right

First: The reddish orange colour of Tandoori chicken is due to tandoori colouring that is frequently used to give tandoori chicken a more appetising appearance. The tandoori colouring does not affect the flavour of the tandoori chicken.

 Second: For the spice mixture to seep inside the chicken meat and flavour the chicken joint on the insides. Mix the marinade ingredients in a zip-lock plastic bag. Seal and shake until the ingredients are well mixed. Make deep incisions in the chicken joint. Rub in the marinade properly into the chicken pieces. Zip-lock the bag, remove all the excess air so the pieces are in contact with the marinade. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate from four to twenty four hours.

Third: Remove the excess marinade from the chicken by shaking it just before skewering it and placing it in the tandoor or the oven. This will prevent the excess marinade clinging on to the chicken from getting charred while cooking.

Fourth: While cooking, baste the chicken with butter or cooked mustard oil and the remaining marinade from time to time. This will keep the chicken moist on the inside. 

Fifth: To test if the tandoori chicken is done, insert a fork into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. It should go in with ease and the juices should run clear. Do not check before twelve minutes, inserting the fork several times in the chicken will make the chicken tough and dry.

Tandoori Chicken – Serves 4


Chicken (Murga)    1, cut into four joints: 2 leg and 2 Breast pieces

Ginger  (Adrak)     1 inch piece, grind into a thick paste

Garlic (Lehsun)       5 cloves, grind into a thick paste

Lemon (nimboo)     1, juice

Salt  (Namak)         to taste

Hung Curd (or Chakka)  ¼ cup, hang yogurt in a muslin cloth for an hour, to get rid of the excess                                               moisture.

Red Chilli Paste (lal Mirch)   1 Teaspoon, soak dried or fresh red chilli in some oil and then grind into a fine paste.

Mustard Oil  (Sarson Ka Tel)   2 tablespoons + for basting during cooking (cooked i.e. heat it until it smoke rises up from the surface)

Garam Masala powder         ½ teaspoon

Roasted Cumin powder (Bhuna Jeera powder)    ¼ teaspoon

Tomato      1, grind into a fine paste (Optional)


Take the chicken joints and make deep incisions with a sharp knife across the chicken joints for the marinade to seep inside the pieces.

1st Marination
 In a bowl, mix some lemon juice, salt, half the ginger-garlic paste. Rub in this mixture properly into the chicken joints so that the inside on the pieces are fully flavoured. Let the chicken marinate in this mixture for a half hour.

2nd Marination
In a bowl, mix the hung curd, the remaining ginger-garlic paste, red chilli paste, mustard oil, garam masala powder, roasted cumin powder and mix well to prepare the 2nd marinade.

To make the dish look more appetising, you can cut up one tomato, grind it into a paste and add to the marinade. I tried this, one tomato will not dominate the flavour of the spices, it helps in giving a nice reddish colour. This step is optional since it only affect colour of the cooked chicken.

Allow the chicken to marinate in this mixture for three to four hours or overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the more the flavours of the marinade will seep in. For better results, use freshly ground garam masala powder in the marinade.

Skewer the chicken pieces and cook it in a moderately hot tandoor or in a pre-heated oven at 200 Degree Celsius for twelve to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of the joints.

While cooking, baste the chicken with butter or cooked mustard oil and the remaining marinade from time to time. This will keep the chicken moist on the inside.

To check whether the chicken is fully cooked on the inside, insert a fork into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. It should go in with ease and the juices should run clear. However, the meat and juices nearest the bones might still be a little pink even though the chicken is cooked thoroughly.

When fully cooked, serve hot with onion rings and lime wedges.

Note: Chaat Masala may be added in the 2nd marinade along with the other spice mixtures.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Longing for the European Experience of Drinking Freshly Brewed Beer Right Out of the Tap? Pune’s First Brew House is your Answer to the Indian Beer Revolution

Name : Smokies The First BrewHouse

Location: The Corinthians Boutique Hotel, Nyati County, NIBM Annexe, Pune

Phone No. : +91 9922429000020, +91 020 26952226

Opening Times:  Sunday to Thursday 06:30pm to 12:30pm
                                        Friday and Saturday 06:30pm to 01:30pm

The community of beer lovers in the city have a reason to celebrate. Put your hands together for the Beer Lovers that cared enough to brew us some fresh, handcrafted beers being served at the Corinthian Boutique Hotel. Now, we all can enjoy and drink beer the way it was meant to be drank. I love Beer and you cannot imagine my excitement when I first heard the first Micro Brewery in my city. It was Friday night and since I know a whole lot of Punekar’s love beer, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I made a reservation for 08:00pm, yet we got there at 09:20pm. Want to know why?

Balraj, my friend was visiting from Mumbai for the weekend and I am not very familiar with this neighbourhood. The cherry op top was that someone has tagged The Corinthian Hotel twice on Google maps, the right one and the wrong tag. This place is tricky to find and it took us very long to get there. Luckily they had saved us a table even an hour late. There was a cover charge against which we were given food and alcohol coupons.

The inside seating area is done up in a very ‘British Pub’ style, dimly lit with wooden furniture, well spaced out but if I hadn’t already booked a table inside, I would have preferred to be seated in the outer area. The outer area is a far better option to spend a Friday evening. Ah! The sweet smell of yeast as we entered the bar area and were seated at our table.

This is the best part, as he handed us the menu, the waiter told us that there was free beer from the tap for the next five minutes. Who wouldn’t love a glass of free beer? So, Balraj and I grabbed our glasses and head straight to the tap at the bar. They were serving a beer named ‘Bob Barley’ on the house. It was a dark beer, obviously freshly brewed, with a strong flavour, full of character. For those of you who are used to bottled beer, fresh beer is usually less fizzy than bottled beer; some prefer that because it makes the flavour of the beer more pronounced. In this case, I was thoroughly enjoying the full flavour of Bob Barley.

It is no surprise that our glasses were empty in a matter of minutes, not because we were parched and beer hungry but also because we were way more excited to taste all the beers they served in little shot glasses. There was Apple Cider, Premium 36, German Wheat and Bob Barley. Apple Cider was smooth and it tasted a little like wine. Premium 36 was very light, German Wheat beer was a little stronger than Premium 36 but the strongest beer with strongest flavour in their selection was Bob Barley. I loved Bob barley and ordered a glass at the bar, Balraj on the other hand asked for a premium 36 and a pint of Bob barley later.

If you are visiting place for beer and some tit bits, it is a good choice. If you are here for the food, I would not recommend this place. We tried two appetisers to go with the beer peri peri chicken which was little dry, spicy and tasted, well, bordering on average I would say. The rosali chicken kebabs were not good, Chicken wrapped around minced chicken, both dry and both recommended to us by the waiter, the starters did not taste good. 

Peri Peri Chicken
The main course on the other hand, we tried a Thai dish, Khaosuey, not a common listing on the menus around the food joints in the city, again the Kahoswe was only average in taste and presentation and they served it with steamed rice rather than crispy noodles which took all the fun away from this dish. Food-wise I was not satisfied.

Khao Suey

Then again, there was good beer; the Dj playing was some decent music and in the company of a good ‘Beer Lover’ friend made up for the average food and I spent a fine Friday evening at the Smokies; First Brewhouse. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rajasthani Thali

Rajasthani Cuisine

Rajasthan, is a colourful state in Western India with warm people and hot food. Colourful, not only because of the blue city and the pink city but if you also look at the clothing of the people and the food of Rajasthan you will find brilliant, bright colours all around. The variety of dishes and recipes that come from this Princely State, with its arid climate and limited vegetation, is remarkable. It has a rich culinary heritage that Indians are proud of and that foodies from all around the world patronise.

The distinguishing factor about Rajasthani food is that due to limited vegetation, the food from Rajasthan is dominated by lentils and grains rather than vegetables. In most of the curries you will notice the use of grains and lentils in different forms. Rajasthani food also uses a lot of ghee (clarified butter) and chilli, making the food very hot yet satisfying. The great thing about cooking Rajasthani food at home is that you can alter the quantity of chilli as per you preference, I wouldn’t alter the quantity of ghee in the food though, that would just take all the fun out of Rajasthani food.

Rajasthani Thali

Yesterday I decided to cook up a Rajasthani thali, it took me all day to try, taste and improve to make it taste how it should taste. I faced a lot of practical challenges in some recipes which seemed so easy at first. I will discuss these challenges and how to overcome them as we go along my trail of recipes. So here is the rajasthani thali. I hope you will enjoy it!

Rajasthani Crisp Cake Curry

Papad Ki Sabzi

I loved the papad ki sabzi and so did my family. It is really simple to make and great to taste. You can use your favourite papad and just cook up something yummy in a matter of minutes. The best part about this recipe is that I did not face any challenges in making it, it is surprisingly simple and really boosted my confidence in cooking up an authentic Rajasthani meal. So, be fearless and take your first, baby step to Rajasthani cooking with Papad Ki Sabzi.

Papad Ki Sabzi – Serves 2


Papads (Pick your favourite)     2
Unsalted, Clarified Butter (Ghee)        1 tablespoon
Asafoetida (Hing)        a pinch
Cumin (Jeera)          ½ teaspoon
Coriander Seeds (Sabut Dhaniya ke dane)   ½ teaspoon
Dried Red Chilli (Sukhi Lal Mirch)  1
Yogurt (Dahi)        2 tablespoons
Turmeric (Haldi) ¼ teaspoon
Red Chilli powder (Lal Mirch Powder)   ¼ teaspoon
Roasted Cumin powder (Bhuna Jeera Powder)        ¼ teaspoon
Garam Masala powder  ¼ teaspoon
Salt       to taste

Toast or deep fry the papads and break them into bite size pieces. They can be broken in uneven shapes, be sure not the crush them or break them into very tiny pieces. Keep them aside.

In a pan heat ghee, once ghee is hot, add in asafoetida (hing), Cumin (Jeera) and stir, allow the cumin to change into a darker colour. Now, add in the coriander seeds and fry them in ghee for a minutes.

In a bowl, mix in the yogurt (dahi) with four tablespoons of water and all the dry masalas, turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and salt. Mix them well.

Add the flavoured yogurt to the pan with the rest of the masalas.

Allow this mixture to cook on a low flame for three to four minutes. Stir from time to time.

Add in the broken pieces of papad and stir them in the curry. The papad tends to absorb some of the moisture.

Cook the sabzi for two minutes on a low flame. Stir from time to time.

Serve hot with Missi Roti or any other Indian bread.

Rajasthani Kadhi
Nearly every community in India prepares kadhi with a distinct signature mixture of spices; Gujarati Kadhi, Punjabi Kadhi, Sindhi Kadhi to mention a few in the wide array of the Kadhis. Some kadhis are eaten on their own and some have pakoris or gatte added to them.  Rajasthani Kadhi has a distinct flavour due to its unique spice mixture with the fenugreek seeds(methi) and fennel (saunf), methi pakoris or gatte may be added to the rajasthani kadhi.  

Rajasthani Kadhi – Serves 2


Bengal Gram Flour (Besan)  1 tablespoon
Yogurt (Dahi)  3 tablespoons
Turmeric (Haldi)  ½ teaspoon
Red Chilli powder (Lal Mirch Powder)  ½ teaspoon
Salt  (namak)  to taste
Unsalted, Clarified Butter (Ghee)   1 tablespoon
Asafoetida (Hing)  a pinch
Cumin (Jeera)  ¼ teaspoon
Fenugreek Seeds (Methi ke daane) ¼ teaspoon
Bay Leaf (tej patta)  1 no.
Fennel seeds (Saunf)  ¼ teaspoon
Coriander seeds (Dhaniya sabut) ½ teaspoon


In a bowl, add the Bengal gram flour, yogurt, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt and mix well. Add in the ¾ cup of water to this mixture and mix well.

In a pan, heat clarified butter, add in asafoetida(Hing), cumin(Jeera), fenugreek(methi), fennel(saunf), bay leaf (Tej patta) and coriander seeds(dhaniya) to the ghee(clarified butter). Fry on a low flame until they change colour.

Slowly add the yogurt-spice mixture to the pan and stir well. Allow it cook on a low flame for fifteen to twenty minutes. If the Kadhi begins to become too thick, add in a little more water. The Rajasthani kadhi is a little thicker than runny.  

Serve with steamed rice or missi roti.

Note: You can add methi pakoris to this kadhi. Take one tablespoon Besan, add in a pinch of hing, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of methi greens chopped finely, 1 tablespoon dhaniya greens chopped finely, one cut up hari mirch(green chilli) and a pinch of haldi. Deep fry this mixture into fritters/ pakoris and add into the kadhi.

Methi Ke Gatte Ki Sabzi

This traditional Gatte Ki Sabzi is a signature dish on any Rajasthani menu. A Rajasthani thali is incomplete without gatte cooked in a yogurt curry.

Methi Gatte Ki Sabzi – Serves 2

Gram Flour (Besan)   ½ cup
Turmeric (Haldi) ¼ teaspoon
Salt (Namak) to taste
Fenugreek greens (Methi) 2 tablespoon
Carom Seeds (Ajwain) ½ teaspoon
Clarified butter (Ghee)  2 tablespoon
Cumin (Jeera)  ½ teaspoon
Dried Red Chilli 1
Yogurt (Dahi)  1 tablespoon
Coriander powder (Dhaniya powder)
Red chilli powder (Lal Mirch  powder)


For Methi Ke Gatte

In a bowl, mix gram flour, salt, turmeric, Carom seeds and chopped fenugreek greens (Methi). Mix well.
The fenugreek greens are raw and tend to release moisture in the mixture. Make dough with this mixture. If the moisture is less add in a teaspoon of yogurt , add little to avoid forming a sticky dough.

Divide this dough in three equal parts. Roll each part between your palms and make the dough a long cylindrical shape.

To cook the gatte, dip them in boiling water and allow them to cook for two to three minutes in boiling water.
[Some people add a pinch of Baking Soda in the dough to make the gatte softer, however, I avoid this for health reasons]

Remove the gatte from the boiling water. Allow them to cool, then cut them diagonally and set aside before adding them to the curry.

For the Curry

In a bowl, mix yogurt with a teaspoon full of gram flour and ¾ cup water with red chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder and salt. Stir and mix the ingredients well.

In a pan, heat clarified butter (ghee), once the ghee is hot add in cumin, once the cumin turns a shade darker. Now, add dried red chilli, lower the heat.

Now, add in the yogurt mixture and stir. Keep the heat low and keep stirring the curry for three minutes.

Add, in the methi gatte , stir and cook for another four minutes on low flame.

Serve hot with missi roti.

Dal, Bati and Churma

The Classic Rajasthani combination, soaked up in ghee. You will love this marriage!

Panchmel Dal –Serves 4


Toor Dal  ¼ cup
Moong Dal ¼ cup
Masoor Dal ¼ cup
Urad Dal  2 tablespoon
Chana Dal 2 tablespoon
Ginger (Adrak)  1 ½ inch, grated
Salt (Namak) to taste
Turmeric (Haldi)  ½  teaspoon
Clarified Butter (ghee)   ½ cup
Cumin (Jeera)  ½  teaspoon
Asafoetida (Hing)  ¼ teaspoon
Dried Red Chilli (Sukhi Lal Mirch)   2
Coriander seeds (Dhaniya Sabut), roasted  2 tablespoon
Cinnamon (Dal Chini) ½ inch
Bay Leaf (Tej Patta)  1
Cloves (Laung)  4
Peppercorns (Kali Mirch)   4
Tomatoes, large (Tamatar)   2 , chopped
Tamarind Pulp (Imli) 1 tablespoon
Cumin powder (Jeera Powder) ½ teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder (Sukhi Lal Mirch) ½ teaspoon
Dried Mango Powder (Amchur)  2 teaspoon
Garam Masala Powder  1 teaspoon
Coriander Greens (hara dhaniya), chopped 2 tablespoon


Mix toor dal, urad dal, moong dal, chana dal and masoor dal in a bowl. Soak them for thirty minutes or more.
In a deep pan add the soaked pulses and three cups of water with ½ inch piece of ginger, crushed, turmeric, salt and stir. Boil for thirty to forty minutes until the pulses are cooked completely OR cook the dal with ginger, turmeric and salt in a pressure cooker for one whistle, cook for another five minutes on low heat and then turn off the heat. Keep it aside.

In a clean pan, heat clarified butter, add cumin, asafoetida, allow the cumin to change colour. Add red chilli, coriander seeds, roast and allow them to change colour.

Now, add in the whole spices, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns and stir. Allow them to change colour, roast for two minutes on medium heat. Grind the spices into a coarse mixture.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and tamarind pulp along with the spices into a hot pan and stir. Allow them to cook on medium heat for three minutes, until the tomatoes are squishy and completely cooked.

Now, add in the boiled pulses that were boiled earlier, stir and cook for another two minutes. Check for salt, spice and the sour flavour of tamarind.

If necessary, mix red chilli powder for pungency and dried mango powder for sour flavour with a tablespoon of water and add it in to the pulses in the pan. Stir. Cook for three to four minutes on low heat.

Turn off the heat, then add chopped coriander greens and add it in to the cooked panchmel dal, stir well before serving.

For Garnish, add two red chillies to a tablespoon of hot clarified butter. Once it makes a splattering sound, add it in to the panchmel dal in the serving bowl as garnish. Enjoy this spicy panchmel dal with batis and churma.

Bati – 10 to 12


Whole Wheat Flour(Atta) 1 cup
Gram Flour (besan) ¼ cup
Semolina (Sooji/ Rava) ¼ cup
Clarified Butter (ghee) 1 cup + 1 cup or for frying
Salt to taste
Milk of necessary


Mix Whole Wheat Flour, gram flour and semolina with ghee and salt in a bowl. Add mix if required and knead it into a hard dough.

Divide it into 10 equal parts and round it up into lemon size balls. (You could stuff them in the centre with cold butter)

You can deep fry the batis in hot ghee in a deep pan or bake the batis at 200 degree centigrade or 350 to 400 degree Fahrenheit and then dip the warm batis in a bowl full of warm ghee, until they are soaked in ghee.

For Churma

Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of green cardamom to one baked bati and grind it into a coarse mixture. Add ghee and serve.

Missi Roti

The Rajasthani generally includes Bajra roti or Missi Roti to accompany all the other rajasthani delicacies in the selection. Some prefer to include garlic, turmeric, coriander greens and onion in the missi roti recipe. I have written a recipe with some of the basic ingredients so that the flavour of the missi roti does not dominate the other dishes on the thali. Try this recipe with some onion, coriander and garlic served with lots of butter and you will be begging for more of this flavourful roti.

Missi Roti – for 10 missi rotis


Whole Wheat Flour (Atta)    ½ cup
Bengal Gram Flour (besan)  1 cup
Red Chilli powder (Lal Mirch Powder)  ¼ teaspoon
Cumin (Jeera)  ½ teaspoon
Carom Seeds (Ajwain) ½ teaspoon (Similar to Thyme)
Coriander Powder (Dhaniya Powder) ½ teaspoon
Onion Seed/ Black Caraway (Kalonji) ½ teaspoon (Smoky and pungent flavour you can use oregano or black pepper or both)
Salt to taste
Oil         10 ml


On a flat surface, take whole wheat flour and Bengal gram flour. Make a well in the centre of the dough.

Add in Red chilli powder, Coriander powder, cumin, Carom seeds, onion seeds in the centre of the well.

Now, add in ¼ cup of water and mix in the spices in the centre of the well. Slowly mix in the flour little by little with the water with the help of your fingers.

Make a dough and knead it well with the help of your knuckles for a couple of minutes.

Now rub in the salt and the oil and knead it again. Round it up and cover it with a moist cloth.
Allow the dough to rest for fifteen minutes.

Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and round them up.

Place one portion on a clean, flat surface and with the help of a rolling pin, roll out each of the rounded up portions into a round shape, the size of your palm, dust it with some flour if the dough sticks to the surface.

Bake these missi rotis over charcoal or bake them on a flat griddle (tava) until they are evenly baked on both sides. Serve hot with butter or ghee.

Moong Dal and Methi Vadi

An accompaniment with other items on the Rajasthani thali these lentil fritters with fenugreek leaves have the goodness of pulses and greens.

 Moong Dal and Methi Vadi – 8 to 10 pieces


Whole Green bean with covering (Sabut Moong dal)   ¼ cup, soaked for an hour
Fennel seeds (Saunf)  ¼ teaspoon
Fenugreek greens (Methi), finely chopped   ¼ cup
Green Chilli (hari mirch)    1, chopped
Corianders Seeds (Dhaniya sabut)   ½ teaspoon
Cumin (Jeera)   ¼ teaspoon
Salt   to taste
Oil     for frying


Drain out the excess water from the soaked lentils.
Grind all the ingredients, except for the oil, together into a coarse mixture.
Do not add any water while grinding since the methi leaves will release moisture when the salt is added to them.
Heat oil in a deep pan and once the oil if hot, add one spoon of the mixture at a time and deep fry the vadis.
Serve hot with any chutney.

Lehsun Ki Chutney

This chutney is an accompaniment to bajra rotis or missi rotis. It is eaten with other items on the thali such as the moong dal vadis. It is a spicy chutney native to Rajasthan.

Lehsun ki Chutney


Dried or fresh Red chilli (Lal Mirchi) 1 or 2, depending on how spicy you like it
 Garlic (Lehsun)   6 cloves
Fennel (Saunf)  ½ teaspoon
Cumin (Jeera)  ½ teaspoon
Tomato (tamatar)   1, quartered
Salt   to taste
Mustard Oil (sarson Ka tel), Cooked    1 tablespoon (You can use Vegetable oil instead to reduce the pungent flavour)

Grind all the ingredients together and serve.

Moong Dal Halwa

When I tried this recipe, I came up with a little trick, I soaked the moong dal, browned it in ghee and then ground it to a coarse paste, this method made my effort come down four folds. Moong Dal Halwa is usually made by soaking and grinding the moong dal and then browning it in ghee. This process is way too tedious because the moong dal paste goes on soaking up the ghee and takes very long to brown and often becomes very heavy. Use my trick and make the halwa in minutes. This sweet from the rajasthani thali is very rich, very sweet and very delicious.

Moong Dal Halwa – Serves 2


Spilt Yellow Lentils (Moong Dal- Dhuli)  ¼ cup, soaked for an hour
Unsalted, clarified butter (Ghee)  ½ cup
Sugar (Cheeni)  ¼ cup
Cardomom powder(Elaichi)  ¼ teaspoon
Pistachios  5, sliced
Almonds 5 – 6, sliced  
Silver Varq for garnish (optional)


Drain out the excess water from the soaked moong dal.

Heat Ghee in a pan, add in the moong dal, keep stirring and cook it till its brown.

Grind the dal into a coarse paste and blend it in with all the ghee. Set aside.

In a deep pan, mix sugar, cardamom powder and equal quantity of water and mix well.
Put the pan on medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve, stir well. Bring the sugar syrup to a boil. Turn the heat on low.

Add in the moong dal and stir well. Cook for two or three minutes on a low flame. Turn off the heat.
Mix in the pistachio and almonds.

Garnish with silver varq.