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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Murg Shahi Korma- Chicken Shahi Korma



This recipe is adapted from a cookbook by Julie Sahni titled “Indian regional Classics”. Julie Sahni has been widely acclaimed author of many cookbooks and her articles have been published in New York Times and Gourmet also. And her New York cooking school is widely acclaimed as one of nation’s best.
If you like, you can catch up with her in these three part question and answer series in NY Times food blog -Diner's Journal - Click here for part-1 here for Part-2 and and last for Part-3.

Have I mentioned that our recipe for Beet Rice Pulao - Click here for the recipe ,also got mentioned in NY Times Food blog by one of the readers there-- Click here to go to the post .

Anyways, I have found this particular cookbook worth a mentioning in this post (I generally don’t like to cook from cookbook, but this one is sure a special one) I picked this from our local library this time, and liked many recipes listed there. There are no tantalizing, eye popping pictures of any recipes, but the directions are more accurate and easy to understand. This cookbook has a very distinct introductory page on the spices and herbs used in Indian cooking and also the Indian way of eating/dining.
I thought the recipes reflect the real regional cooking, but somehow I do feel the spice content or hotness is kept at low, perhaps to satisfy the taste palate of those people, who are still new to Indian Cooking.
I have almost doubled the spice content to satisfy our Indian palate. If you are not sure about the correct amount of hotness then I would suggest sticking to the book guidelines.
Now to the preparing directions

Recipe requirements for Murg Shahi korma
1 Cornish hen or 1 chicken made into quarters
2 onions
4-5 garlic
1 inch ginger
Seasoning
5-6 tsp of grounded coriander
2-3 tsp of grounded red pepper
1/2 tsp of  grounded turmeric
3-4 green chilies slit in between
Salt as per taste
¼ cup of cooking oil and some more to fry the chicken
1 cup plain yogurt lightly beaten
15-18 almonds


Method
Wash chicken/Cornish hen with warm water, pat dry with kitchen towel. Smear some salt and red pepper powder all over well. Keep refrigerated for 1 hr.
I do personally think it’s easy to handle chicken quarters for this recipe, however if you feel you may use Cornish hen or baby chicken (both are same)
First method
Chop 2 onions, reserve half for making paste and half for the frying/browning purpose.
4 cloves garlic, 1 inch ginger, chop finely and crush them over a cutting board with a rolling pin. This is just like preparing fresh garlic/ginger paste over sheel nora or mortar and pestle.
2 tsp of garam masala or cardamom powder.
5-6 heaped tsp of coriander powder/grounded coriander
Soak about 15-16 almonds in some water for 4-5 hrs. Peel the skin and prepare to make a paste with the fried onions.
Heat up a saucepan, add about 3-4 tbs of cooking oil, fry the Cornish hen or the big chicken leg quarters till they loose their pink colour and are evenly but lightly browned.It will take some5-6 mints at medium flame.Never hurry the process at high , the outer portions will get browned soon or may end up burnt.
Take out with a big spoon/ladle and drain on tissue paper.
Now prepare the paste of blanched almonds and half chopped onions with some oil and water.
Add some more oil, add in chopped onion first.Fry it till turns light brown at medium high.Depending on the pan , it will take approx 10-12 mints.
Now add the fresh crushed ginger/garlic or the paste.Fry well for 2-3 mints.
Now add in all the seasonings-turmeric powder, red pepper powder,coriander powder and salt.
If you wish you may add in paprika and red pepper powder in equal proportions.This reduces the heat of the recipe. How ever I do added only red pepper powder and 3 green chills slit in between for extra heat.
Now add in the onion-almond paste with some half cup of water. Mix well with the spices.
Now it’s the turn of adding yogurt. Fold in about 2-3 tbs of heaped yogurt at a time, stirring continuously, until well incorporated. TIP-This way the yogurt won’t curdle in the gravy.
Add the fried chicken quarters. Tastes the seasoning, if required add some salt or red pepper powder as well. Add in about half a cup of warm water.
Now cover the lid and cook for 30-35 mints at medium low flame or till the chicken is soft and gravy /sauce is thick.
Transfer to serving bowl and serve with romali roti or simple steamed basmati rice.
Second method


This method is straight cut process.
Quick blanching of almonds
Soak about 15-16 almonds in some hot water. After about 20 mints, peel the skin and then transfer to the food processor jar.
Make a smooth paste in a heavy duty processor with the following ingredients
Blanched almonds, onions, ginger and garlic, grounded coriander powder, red pepper powder and some water + some oil.
Heat up a saucepan, add in 4-5 cloves, and add in this paste. Fry it well for 7-8 mints.
Add in fried chicken quarters, mix well. TIP-Adding yogurt in batches to the sauce reduces the chances of curdling the sauce; gently fold in yogurt about 2-3 tbs one at a time, stirring continuously so that it gets all incorporated to the sauce.
Add about 1 and half cup of lukewarm water.
Cover it and cook it at low for 40-45 mints. Make sure to check in between so that the gravy/sauce doesn’t get stick at the bottom of the pan.
Serve with some cooked basmati rice.


Note-
If you wish you can use ready made onion, ginger/garlic paste.
You may use bite size chicken pieces, quail, and rabbit also with the same recipe.
By the time this dish was cooked, our entire apartment smelled of some exquisite home full of rich aroma. We served over some garam bhaat/steamed Basmati rice.Next time we will be having this with romali roti or naan.

Thanks for visiting Spice and Curry, Happy Cooking Friends

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cherry Banana Pancakes-Bideshi Influence on Shakal'er Jol Khabar


Thanks to modern discoveries/technologies like Boeing-747,these days time required for visiting New York or London for work or for leisure for that matter is equal to visiting your grandparent’s native village or perhaps may be less. With these rapid changes in our lifestyle, our food habits also gets somewhat accustomed to the influence of the local , international food cuisine. As Indian’s are traveling much more these days for career or for holidays, we are much more aware about the local food habits as compared to our fore-fathers. And rest whatever is left,which is still undiscovered,unknown comes to be alive with many different TV cooking shows or travel and food series, that are featured in many different TV channels now. Slowly the unknown world is coming close to your drawing rooms without much effort. We, the children of 70’s and 80’s for that matter are more aware about many different cuisines or food habits as compared to our fore-fathers.


I can’t imagine my father or my father-in-law having croissants for breakfast some 20 years ago. But even if I insist on trying them now, perhaps they would still dismiss this as ridiculous. For them, a staple traditional Bengali breakfast meant something like this –Click Here. This traditional breakfast would be good any day as compared to what those “Bideshi Jol Khabar” would be.

And when we talk about Bideshi/phoren influence on our lifstyle, isn’t having toasted bread and drinking tea is all but a part of a proper English breakfast? If I can presume-for 21st century children having a pre-packaged muffins,cakes,croissants,donuts,brioche and French bread would be a daily affair and an easy option .Pop it in M/W –count to 10 and viola you are ready with your breakfast. And who want to sweat it out in kitchen and make aloor torkari and paratha from scratch on a busy working weekday when things can be so easy and instant.

Hope in that new era, our children should at least know little bit of , if not all about our traditional food habits as compared to knowing every bit about international cuisines.

This post is very much influenced by Bideshi culture. Pancakes or crepes make their way to our breakfast table many a times now. However, if you do not see a point in making them from scratch then go ahead to the supermarkets, get premade/frozen-packaged pancakes, POP in M/W and count to 10 , and you will be all ready with your breakfast.

And in case you decide otherwise, that you want to make it all by yourself and want your 21st century children to be aware that this can be made in home and can be served with the warmth of your love ,then I would say go ahead what are you waiting for.

There has been a past post on blueberry banana pancake –Click Here for detailed recipe. This time its Cherry Banana pancakes with a surprise addition of custard powder.

Recipe requirements for Banana Cherry Pancakes



1 and half cup of self raising flour

1 medium egg

About quarter cup of milk

3-4 tbs of custard powder

2-3 banana made into puree

About half cup of cherries pitted and chopped

Method

Mash bananas with the help of fork or spoon in a large mixing bowl.

Add in one egg.

Add in custard powder and self raising flour /cake flour. I have started using custard powder in our pancakes recently and was amazed by the new flavour it imparts to a mundane banana pancakes.

Now gently start mixing with the help of milk. Make a runny batter of the above.Gently fold in chopped cherries.

Prepare heavy cast iron skillet or tava.

Heat up it well, drop some water if it sizzles then the tava is ready for making pancakes.

At medium flame or gas mark 4 or better 3, add some oil just to smear it well over the skillet.

Scoop out one ladle full of the runny batter; gently smear it over the skillet.

If the bubble starts appearing, flip the side and fry it for 2-3 mints.

Take out in serving platter and serve it with some sweetened condensed milk or with some cream or maple syrup.

Enjoy with your loved ones

Thanks for visiting Spice and Curry

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shakal'er Jol Khabar-Paratha and Aloor Torkari




Its being quite a while that I have updated my breakfast label, isn’t. May be due to my focus was entirely shifted towards meals specifically for lunch and dinner. Just in case you are wondering why there is a sudden urge to update breakfast recipes. The reason for this was reading this article by Vir Sanghvi about breakfast and the customs associated with it. If you wish you may go right ahead and Read It Here .

I do feel there are really good but if not great food writers in our country like Jiggs KalraVir Sanghvi and Rahul Verma.In case you are wondering who Rahul Verma is, then you should perhaps read the Sunday Graphiti from Kolkata Telegraph. I do personally think, he has been writing some good food articles and from which I have fondly collected some of paper clipping as well. Later I realized I can now catch up with the on-line edition of graphitti also Click here.

Breakfast has been quite an important affair of our culture or should I say our food culture. In northern India, ladies would start their day frying puris in hot oil and making halvah for breakfast for their loved ones. Sometimes they would be having aloo ka paratha with a bowl of yogurt. Down south when I talk about homely breakfast food, I start picturing –vadas , idlis ,dosas, upma, uttapam and delicious appams as part of a wholesome breakfast .And then in west India  –all the pohas, theplas and khandvis and dhoklas , do you still need some more description.
A milk and cereal/corn flake still is a very “Angrezi Nashta” for many of them and people do not consider this as their breakfast. People still are reluctant of some foreign intrusion and when it comes to daily food habits, it’s still a quite contentious issue.
But if you compare the pace of life now and with our fore-fathers, you do feel there is not enough time for a proper planned elaborate breakfast these days. Even being a homemaker myself, I still find it difficult to prepare paratha or roti with torkari/subzi everyday and then again packing lunch box for DH and daughter and that too before 7.30 in the morning (we do not have any supporting systems or helping hands here as some of you have back home called as “maids”) So, I can imagine the plight of a working woman here, even if she wishes she cant get along well with all the demands a typical busy weekday morning brings with it.
So usually what it used to be a daily affair is now a weekend affair or may be once a week now. I do like to make paratha and aloor torkari/sabzi usually on weekends or may be once a week which is what this post is all about.
All other day is it’s usually a bowl of milk and cereal, 2 toast preferably whole meal bread, 3-4 toasted cashews or almonds or dates and some fruit slices. There are some more breakfast ideas if you wish to see then -Go Here
Debate over the benefits of having cereal and milk over aloo paratha with a bowl of yogurt will go on and let people decide what suits for themselves.
Bottom line or catch point is –Eat all but in moderately and wisely and always remember you are what you eat or think.

Now to the recipes-


Aloor Chechki

Potatoes 3-4 cut into cubes

3-4 green chilies

Salt as per taste

1/2  tsp of turmeric powder

For tempering

2-3 tbs of cooking oil

1 tsp of kalaunji/nigella seeds/ kalo jeerey

Or 1 tsp of panch phoron

Method

Cut potatoes in small cubes.

Now heat up a saucepan, add oil.

Temper the oil when hot but not smoky, with panch phoron and green chilies slit in between.

This recipe is one of our favourite ways of utilizing potatoes.

Add the cubed potatoes; add seasoning like salt, turmeric powder.

Fry them well for 5-7 mints.

Add about ¼ cup of water, and cover it with a lid and cook till potatoes turn soft.

Paratha

1 cup of Maida/Atta

Knead the dough with enough water to a pliable constituency.

Now take small portion from the dough, and roll over into small disc.

Apply generously cooking oil all over it, fold it in half and then again fold in as making a small triangle or cone.

Roll this small triangle into a large one and make parathas over hot griddle or heavy cast iron skillet/tava.

Serve with aloor chechki and one pantua.If you can make pantua/gulab jamun from scratch then probably you can make it from gitts ready made packets( I have made them from the packets this time) instructions are given how to make the gulab jamuns.Enjoy your weekend with traditional breakfast.

Thanks for visiting Spice and Curry

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baby Corn Red Bell pepper Diye Torkari/Sabzi





I have posted a baby Corn Chorchori type of recipe last, you may like to see then Click Here


This is another way we like to prepare Baby corn with Red bell peppers. Tanginess of tomatoes and sweetness of red bell peppers add a whole lot of flavor to this stir/fry or Torkari in Bengali. I often like to make this stir/fry to be a little more like a Rasa type of preparation. In Hindi rasa means “juice” but in culinary world -Rasaa is a Gravy with or of the curry, like the Aloo Matar rasa sabzi. In Northern Indian Cuisine especially the UP cuisine Aloo Matar Rasa sabzi is very popular eaten with Puris in as breakfast dishes.

Again I was not so sure of calling this stir/fry a rasa sabzi as traditionally baby corn and red bell peppers are not part of UP cuisine, so here to be on safe side I called this usual stir/fry as sabzi .Howver consider this to be a rasa type of preparation.

Baby corn Red Bell pepper torkari/sabzi

Serves3-4

Ingredients

10 baby corn cut into half

1 red bell pepper
1 Tomato Chopped

2 tsp of paprika/red pepper powder

1 tsp of turmeric powder

2 tsp of coriander powder

1 tsp of panch phoron/Cumin seeds

Salt as per taste

2-3 tbs of cooking oil

Coriander leaves for garnishing

Method

Heat up a saucepan, add oil, and temper it with panch phoron or cumin seeds.

Add all the chopped vegetables like –baby corn, red bell pepper beans and potatoes.

Fry it for 2-3 mints.

Add the seasonings-red pepper powder, turmeric powder, coriander and salt.Paprika if used adds a nice red colour to the recipe.

Mix in well and keep stirring for 2-3 mints more.

And then add in about ¼ cup of water.

Cover and cook the torkari/ rasa sabzi for about 8-10 mints at med-low or till potatoes turn soft and mash able. Serve garnished with coriander.


I would like to extend my warm wishes to my friends and readers on the eve of our 64th Independence day living in India and Abroad as well.Here wishing you all


Independence Day
DesiComments.com | Independence Day | Forward this Picture



Happy Independence day.


Baby Corn

Monday, August 9, 2010

Baby Corn Beans Brinjal Diye Torkari/Sabzi






It’s been quite a while I have posted a vegetarian recipe with local vegetables that are available here in plenty. When ever we go for shopping vegetables, my little girl reminds me to put baby corn, beans in our shopping cart. Well usually baby corn, beans are much popular ingredients in Chinese stir/fry or in Continental cuisine. But I have tried to incorporate them in our daily torkari that we make regularly.And I don’t need to add baby corn and beans are very much part of our weekday chicken soup recipe also, an ever versatile and adapting recipe. Basic recipe can be found Here.
I am sure any part of the world you go, vegetarians are always finding it difficult what to eat. But if you can just think about how you can adapt local vegetables in your day –to-day basis, then things becomes easy.

This stir/fry resembles more of a chorchori type of preparation.But I cant really tell whether this qualify to be more traditional chorchori , so I thought perhaps it would be safe to call it “torkari” or “Sabzi” in Hindi for that matter .
So here is the recipe for Baby corn Beans Brinjal torkari/sabzi- My 3B torkari

Serves-3-4
Baby corn Beans Brinjal torkari/Sabzi



Ingredients
10-12 baby corn cut into half
10-14 beans cut into 1 inch pieces
About quarter of the long brinjal/Aubergine cut into 1 to half inch pieces
1 medium size potato cut into cubes or long pieces
(Usually in chorchori, you cut all the vegetables in equal sizes, a basic principle of making a chorchori)
1 onion
Seasonings
2 tsp of paprika/red pepper powder
1 tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 or half tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of panch phoron
Salt as per taste
Pinch of sugar
2-3 tbs of cooking oil
Coriander leaves for garnishing
Method
Heat up a saucepan, add oil, and temper it with panch phoron.Add in chopped onions.
Add all the chopped vegetables like –baby corn, beans and potatoes.
Fry it for 2-3 mints.
Add the seasonings-red pepper powder, turmeric powder, coriander-cumin and salt.
Mix in well and keep stirring for 2-3 mints more.
Add chopped brinjal/aubergine and then add in 2-3 tbs of water.
Cover and cook the torkari/ sabzi for about 8-10 mints at med-low or till potatoes turn soft and mash able. Serve garnished with coriander.

Thanks for visiting Spice and Curry

Friday, August 6, 2010

Around The World-Craft Ideas





This post has nothing to do with cooking and food but on a subject very close to my heart.Creating crafts with kids is what gives me immense satisfaction other than cooking foods for my family.

Summer vacation for kid’s means "mother's be prepared to do some extra job. I often find it difficult to engage my daughter with some tasks. I try to focus on developing her creativity. And also I wish her to develop a healthy approach to understand the world around us.

This summer vacation I choose the topic –“Around the World”. Although I was kind of thinking it from past spring break but due to our short trip back home, nothing materialized.

Basic target/approach of this project-“Around The world” - was to introduce her and of course myself to the varied culture of different countries .There are many customs or practices associated with a particular country. I, for that matter am very much interested in knowing how a child in a particular country likes to spend that special day.

I thought perhaps making some easy crafts with my daughter would be appropriate to relate to that particular custom or for that matter to that particular country/part of the world.

Like for example during Basantpanchami/Saraswati puja in Gujarat,Delhi and in UP, people like to fly kites. Making kites with ones’ parents, during our growing up days was really a fun way to co-relate to this tradtion. And who doesn’t like making kites?

We have made Kwanzaa necklace to start off our tour of the world. She had earlier tried making it in school also. Since then she was always telling me to make it again. Instructions for this craft can be found here-

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday celebrated in US mainly during 26th Dec to 1st of Jan every year.

Details can be found here - and here in wiki .

Children’s day is celebrated in Japan on perhaps 5th of May. This is a national holiday I guess.

This day is marked for boys who love to make fish kites or carp kites called as”Koinobori”. They would then hang this outside their home one for each son in the family. And they would then pray for their sons well being and progress.



(However, I personally do think sons and daughters are same and should not be treated differently)

We had some nice time making this project one whole afternoon. My daughter then also went on to pretend being a fisher woman with her Koinobori Carp Origami. Instruction on how to make this traditional origami can be found here .

Catch of the day - quite a big one!!

And if you wish you can make real carp Kites also.

Other Crafts Project that we did in past-

Creating Crafts with kids

Mango Collage


If you have some other ideas please share with me here, I am all eager to know them also.

There are other countries and their traditions which are yet to explore. Let’s see where our boots take us tomorrow :-)).....


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Steps in Making Rotis-a Beginner's Guide


Steps in making roti /Chappati



There was a request from one of the reader about roti making. Well I will try to be as basic as I can be, so some of you may think this is way too much in detail then please pardon me.

I have been making roti daily, but it never occurs to my mind to post about it until Shahlin asked me about it in this post of Hyderabadi Lukmi . So, Shahlin this is for you and others who are very much interested in making things from scratch and don’t want to make comprises when the quality of fresh ingredients and home cooking is concerned.

We are a now family of three, but when we were living with my parent-in-laws I would generally double the contents.

Knead approx 1 and half large tea cup of Atta/whole wheat flour with approx 5-6 tbs of water. I always like to add pinch of salt to the flour before I start kneading the flour. Knead dough to semi-soft or pliable consistency. If you think you require more water then add more but make sure it DOES NOT turn out sticky. And if it turns out sticky then add more Atta to the dough and knead well.

And according to the Atta packet that I have –it should be for 100gms at least 75 ml of water. Now I don’t really care to measure that much accurately.i go with my instinct now.

Now before I go further I must add, every brand of Atta , has its gluten content and the rotis turn out different too. Check which brand suits your taste.

I generally don’t like to prepare rotis from maida or all purpose flour as they are heavily milled or refined. Whole wheat flour is far better for making rotis as they provide the essential fiber content as well.

Knead the dough for rotis at least ½ hr to 1 hr before you make rotis and keep it covered.

If you are making from the dough which was kept in refridgerator, make sure to take it out at least 2 hr before you start rolling the rotis.

You may add little oil or butter milk for extra soft rotis, but generally when I am making rotis on a regular basis I don’t add any of them. Kneading with lukewarm water also helps in making soft rotis.

Now, divide the dough into two portions. Roll the half dough into long slabs. Keep the rest iof the dough in refrigerator, to be used another day.

Cut the slabs in equal portions. This slab turns out in 3 equal parts, so that means total 6 rotis from approx 1 and half cup of whole wheat flour.



Turn the electric hob (stovetop in case you are living in US) on at mark 4 or medium high but not at high. Put the iron skillet on it. OR if you are using gas put the iron skillet on medium flame. It takes at least 2-4 mints to heat up the heavy cast iron skillet/tava well for making the rotis.

Now with the palm of your hand roll each into rounds of at least 2 inch discs.

I was told by my mother and my ma-in-law the less you dust the rounds with flour` while rolling to make large discs, the rotis will turn out soft. I tried to use minimal flour while rolling the dough. How ever I would leave this up to you to your comfort level of rolling the rounds.

At the start coat small discs generously with whole wheat flour, dust off extra flour by shaking the round.

Use your other side of wooden/plastic cutting board for rolling the dough if you don not get traditional board and rolling pin Belna –chakla in Bengali . See this post for the traditional Belna Chakla in Bengali or Belna -Chakli in Hindi -which I have back home.

You can use your kitchen counter also for rolling the rotis.If you think about hygiene etc ..Then may be before you start rolling the dough, clean it with a kitchen cleaning spray and then wipe it clean with tissue paper.Dust the surface with some extra flour.

This is a very neat idea to place the wooden cutting board over a kitchen towel, this way the working area remains clean and also this supports the wooden board while rolling the rotis.

Now start rolling the disc in a circular motion. Remember you are not wrestling with the atta discs/round, so be gentle with the dough and using less pressure on the whole wheat rounds. Few initial trials and I am sure you will be able to roll the rounds to perfect circle.

Now, place this over the hot skillet/tava.

Cook the roti for 2-3 mints at medium high but never on high. You will notice some areas getting small puffs; it’s time to flip to other side. Turn over.

Now with the help of other kitchen towel, start pressing the rotis and try to rotate the rotis while pressing it with kitchen towel. How, ever if you cant do this , then just press the rotis well and then turn the other side and repeat with kitchen towel. It may take another 2-3 mints to properly make rotis.


Take off from the heavy cast iron skillet/tava and transfer it into a hot pot or an oven proof dish and cover it.

If you like you may spread half a tsp of butter/ghee to the rotis.Serve hot and enjoy.

Now those of you who have gas hob or gas burners.

Put the rotis over medium high flame for just 1 mint or till they puff making delicious phulkas.



I do hope this may help those who are very much interested in Indian cooking and like to make things from scratch. There is absolutely no comparison of frozen rotis over home-made fresh rotis.Just one bite of fresh home-made rotis and the flavour burst in your mouth.