Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oven Baked-Chicken Kalmi Kabab in my kitchen

There was a lovely post I happen to come across at Mandira’s blog – in my kitchen . And I really liked what was there being shared with us. So, inspired by that post here I am in my kitchen.  
As we move and relocate a lot and with it, actually I have lost the count how many times, we keep on changing home and with it kitchen as well over these past years. It’s the same feeling every time, when ever I set up the kitchen in our new apartment. It hits me hard when I unpack my stuff and then start sorting them out one by one. Many times I panic, imagining the amount of work that needs to be done to fill in the empty kitchen and empty cup-boards. And perhaps, I am petrified even more when it’s time to do packing again and relocate. What needs to be thrown away or needs to be tagged along- major brain-storming session for us. But then life is just like that when you think everything is going on a routine there comes a drastic surprise that catches you unaware. And many times I have to throw away or give away, new saucepans or some new ceramic plates or bone-china plates as I can’t carry them everywhere. One thing on my list is to carry “sheel-nora” with us, but I know it’s not possible, a total elusive stuff as of now. So, when ever I go back home for a break, I am happy, happy to see my mother churning fresh spices on sheel-nora .And yes she still believes in, that this brings out best flavor in any Bengali food preparations.

But somehow what ever remains with us or what ever goes away from us, the urge to create and make heart-warming food remain always on top-list,a kind of priority, even with very few ingredients or any luxurious surroundings or with any electronic gadgets one can possibly think of.
In my kitchen is this heart which says to live, laugh and love. Three “L “may be this sums up our life.

Then there are couples of sketches by my daughter just stacked over the exhaust hood, this pile goes on increasing, many have been changed and taken over or thrown out, but what ever little I have are these. Those are always kept here.
Then this autumn leave which we collected while walking together one fine day and it’s nearly two years.Dear daughter has pasted it over a round thermocol, and it has stayed ever since in my kitchen.Somehow it reminds us that nothing is immortal here, so always count the blessings one can possibly have.

Then are these two cute Chinese dolls-Yini and Yani, actually these are dear daughter’s penny bank where she earns her share by helping in doing some of the easy chores –like tidying her room and keeping her books neatly.And she likes collecting coins.Some of the old hobbies like coin collection or postal stamp collections,which are these days taken over with crazy electronic gadgets.Some how we still are trying to revive interest in some of the lost hobbies in our daughter.Those old hobbies, where we didn't depend too much on electronic gadgets.

Then there is a breakfast table just adjacent to the open plan kitchen, which is versatile as it serves many other purposes. Sometimes it becomes a breakfast table or at other times a study table or an iron table as well when I have piles of clothes to iron. I don’t know why I am writing this but she really doesn't like all bookish things or the usual mundane study tasks. I have to think about other innovative methods to make her concentrate. I have embraced the fact that what ever happens-will happen for good and that she will find her way, so no rush or hurry in this case.

In my kitchen is this plate of  dry red chilies which I have planed today to dry grind to make home-made red pepper powder, as these brings out the perfect heat one requires in gravies.

When the cooking is done, I put them over the serving table or the breakfast table.This was a special dinner arrangement.Now usually I don't feel like taking pictures after all these time-consuming cooking,in fact I rarely do that.But that day it was different and more over I had some relaxing time before the guest arrived for dinner.So, just thought of utilizing the time clicking some pictures.

And then is this eating spread on that breakfast table- starting from begun bhaja- eggplant –brinjal fry, narkol diye cholar dal- yellow split-pea lentils,matar-paneer korma, chicken kalmi kabab,matar ghee bhaat , mishti doi and bonden and not in picture there was strawberry dessert as a special “farmaiish “ by my daughter. We were doing this special “ranna-banna” for my better half’s friend who was then leaving back to India.

Ok now that you all have peeked into my kitchen – let me share this recipe for chicken kalmi kabab that we made that day.Personally we like to make kalmi  kababs this way, it may be little different than the real kalmi kabab becasue I rarely did the special cuts meant for kalmi kababs.Please use this recipe as mere guidelines.

Chicken kalmi kababour way

Recipe requirements
Chicken leg quarters- 3-4 pieces cut into half - drumsticks and thigh or 10-11 chicken thigh pieces 
1/2 cup of besan-chick pea flour
4-5 heaped tbs of cream or crème fraiche or malai
2 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of ginger powder

To be toasted and dry grounded
3 tsp of coriander seeds
1 tsp of cumin seeds
3 dry red pepper
3 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
3-4 cloves
½ inch cinnamon stick
1 Strand mace- jwaitri
4-5 whole black pepper or white pepper

For the marinating part
½ cup of Greek style thick yogurt or hung curd
1 egg
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of salt or as taste
Coriander leaves
Some mint leaves
Salt as per taste
Saffron milk (optional)
Mitha ittar (optional)

Wash and clean chicken pieces well. Now cut the leg quarters in to half and with the help of knife slightly tear along the flesh so that it can open up and spread.Ok, I tried my level best but then just thought I am no good at doing this. So, I end up making deep incisions in every piece so that the marinating juices can be well soaked. Perhaps if you need to have a proper look about how the cuts of each pieces should be done as this is important , because from this the name – “kalmi kabab” then do according to this video.
Now dry roast the spices listed above-coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dry red pepper,whole black pepper, cardamoms,mace, cloves and cinnamon for 1-2 mints at medium flame. Now dry grind them in coffee grinder or food processor.You can even use ready-made cinnamon+cardamom powder.
On a medium flame, slowly roast the besan or chick pea flour, so that the raw smell fades away, about 4-5 mints. You may use plain flour as well. I prefer besan-chick pea flour in kababs.
Now just like any kabab recipes, marination is the key. In a big mixing bowl- mix and whisk –besan-chick pea flour, curd,creme and the dry grounded powder that you made earlier.Add salt as per taste. Break in one egg and use the egg white whisking very well.Add in lemon juice and mix slowly.
Coat the chicken pieces very well in the above marinade and keep it in the fridge for about 1-2 hrs.It would be nice if you can do it overnight marination because that way marinating sauce gets in to the chicken flesh well.
Preset an oven at 180 deg C .Place aluminum foil over a flat baking tray; place the marinated chicken pieces with some spaces in between each other pieces. Now put this tray in the middle shelf/rack. Bake the chicken pieces for about 15-20 mints. Take out the tray; baste it with some melted butter or ghee and then flip the sides. Transfer this again to the oven and bake further 20 -25 mints. Check if the chicken pieces are done by pricking with a knife.

Traditionally kalmi kabab are always made in iron- tandoor. This video ,tells you more about the  preparation---You can even check how Kakori kabab is being prepared.

These were relished and enjoyed.

However, if you believe in luxury just like Nawab’s , then sprinkle some saffron infused milk+mitha ittar  just before serving these kalmi kababs or may use while it's marinating.Kalmi kababs and kakori kababs both are traditional Luckhnawi kababs.Now anybody  making these kababs , if you happen to find some missing ingredients in the list or the method , then please share your recipe here.To increase spice level double the quantity of freshly grounded powder.

 I  believe that it should be served with lemon and onion wedges so that squeezing lemon juice on freshly baked Kalmi kababs will enlighten your taste bud following with the crunchiness of onion.
I would say that is what people like us “aam admi”/mango man, I mean common man likes to do .Enjoy.

Happy Cooking Friends

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lamb Curry

I guess it happens with most of you, when you are on a self proclaimed break from food blogging and even though you cook full time, you don’t really feel to update the blog here. And it has been the same story here,as I am fumbling with words here to start up a simple blog post about a gem of a recipe-lamb curry.

Although the everyday cook, yeah that’s me was not resting, for her it was just like any other normal day puttering  around in the kitchen, cooking food and sharing them. Sometimes was doing alteration work on some of the clothes or was working on an unfinished knitting project. Here I made a cool and funky jhola bag out of my old jeans, now my daughter likes it very much. When ever we go out in park, she likes carrying it. I don’t yet have a sewing machine as we frequently move and travel, so I did the alteration then sewing all by hand which was little tiring but it gave me great satisfaction. You can even make these types of “jhola bag” with your old saree or silk clothes as well. You can even stitch some patch-work over each side, or put some bead work, just like the ones I put in a straight line or some decorating accessories- like the single flower over each small pouch on each side.

There are plenty of ways one can possibly think to re-cycle old clothes. One way is to make kitchen towels and coasters as well.Now to cooking.

This lamb curry that you see now was made about two-three weeks ago. Then, again made it yesterday, so thought of sharing the recipe here. One interesting fact I just wanted to share here, in our traditional joint family, there were separate saucepan /kadai for cooking non veg items and veg items even the cutting knife or the traditional Bengali “bonti” were also separate and kept separate at a distance, if accidentally someone put them together, they have to clean it again. Once the vegetarian items were cooked first, then it was the turn of non-veg items to be cooked. Over a period of time, this practice is lost some where, I don’t really notice this practice in every nuclear family that we have today especially in metroes. But as per rule I still have separate cutting knives for vegetables and non –vegetables and I strictly don’t inter-change them. After cutting and chopping the meat, fish or chicken, I wash them with warm water, dry them up and then store. These are some basic rules but it is good for hygiene purpose etc.
I have never cooked lamb meat here in abroad, perhaps was due to the fact it has an overpowering smell, but we were really craving mutton the goat ones, so I gave up my inhibitions about lamb. So, the recipe has been made with mint leaves and for the first time used kewda essence just to over-power the lamb smell, but I tell you even if you don’t add two of these ingredients, lamb meat when cooked with all the spice on slow heat gives excellent result, almost just like the ones I made back home with goat mutton.

The recipe is just like Kosha-mangsho,I guess with mangsho/meat nothing can go wrong even with few spices.
Without adding much to the intro here, let me write the recipe now
Lamb curry
Recipe requirements (serves2-3)
About half a kg of portions from lamb leg bones off
5-6 cloves
1-2 cardamoms
2 heaped tsp of coriander powder
¾ tsp of cumin powder
2-3 tsp of extra hot red pepper powder
1 heaped tsp of meat masala
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 twig mint leaves or about 8-9 leaves chopped roughly
8-10 whole black pepper
½ inch cinnamon stick
1 flower of mace-outer covering of nutmeg
3-4 tej patta
4-6 heaped tbs of yogurt
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
3-4 medium size purple onions
5-7 garlic pods
½ inch ginger root
½ cup of cooking oil/sada tel or mustard oil
½ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
2-3 heaped tsp of grounded or dried pomegranate seeds/anar dana
1 tsp of sugar or to taste
Few tsp of kewda essence (optional)

  • Cut the lamb leg portions into small pieces. Wash and clean the knife well and store. (Small pre-cut pieces are already available in supermarkets or from the neighborhood butcher shop)
  • Now if required trim off the fat layer otherwise keep them if you like.
  • Marinate lamb pieces with yogurt, half of red pepper powder, turmeric powder and salt. Keep it aside for 1-2 hrs.
  • Now chop onions, garlic and ginger finely...If you like then you may make a masala paste of onion, ginger and garlic to be used to fry it with marinated lamb pieces.
  • Heat up a deep bottomed pan/kadai/dekchi.Add in mustard oil; let it come to smoking point.
  • Add in whole garam masala- cloves, crushed cardamoms, mace, whole black pepper and tej patta.Stir it for 1 mint till they start to crackle up. Now add in 1 tsp of sugar. Let it caramelize well.
  • Now add in finely chopped garlic, ginger. Fry them well till they reach well charred stage or until a nice garlic smell hits your nose.
  • Now add in finely chopped onions. Keep on frying the onions, about 6-7 mints at med-high flame or till they turn nice little brownish in colour.
  • Add in all the dry powder ingredients- turmeric, red pepper, coriander-cumin, meat masala.Add in about 2-3 tbs of water. Mix and stir well so that all gets well incorporated.
  • Add in marinated pieces of lamb with all the left-over marinade sauce. Keep on frying this for 6-7 mints or till they are well coated with the spices.
  • Add in finely chopped mint and coriander leaves.
  • Now keep on stir/frying or–“koshano” in Bengali for 15-20 mints at medium to medium-high flame, sprinkling little bit of warm water when ever you feel the spices is sticking to the base of the pan.
  • This process of stir/fry should be done at medium flame to medium-low flame, to avoid rush in as this stir/fry process/”koshano” imparts that flavor which is required for these types of rich gravies especially mutton and lamb preparation.
  • If the oil starts to separate out and the lamb gravy with all those aromatic spices turns dark in colour and little bit dry-about further 10-15 mints , transfer this entire gravy with lamb pieces to the pressure cooker.
  • Add in grounded anar dana as well.If you have dried anar dana that will also work out fine.This is a new ingredient that I have used for making lamb curry and liked it very much because this gives a nice touch of sourness not over-powering the exact texture of the gravy.
  • Add about 1 to 1 and half small teacup of water to it for thick gravy. If you wish to have a little runny gravy more like a “jhol”– then add in 3-4 large teacups of water. We like gravy which is not that runny, “makha-makha” in Bengali. Put the lid on, and at high flame let it go for one whistle. Put it to simmer for about 10-12 mints at low flame. Stop the flame and let it sit there for a while. Open the cover, once the pressure subsides.
  • Open the lid-sprinkle half tsp of kewda essence and some cardamom powder. Stir and mix well and transfer the entire content to a serving bowl.(Most of you who do not like the essence, there is no need to add it, in fact when I made it again I skipped adding mint leaves and kewda essence, and I hardly can notice the aroma,-lamb meat all gelled quite well with other spices)
  • Serve garnished with coriander leaves.


  • I have added fried potato pieces as well as to us mangsho with out potato is unimaginable, however I have left to mention in the recipe procedure as some of you may not like it.
  • Again used Shaan brand meat-masala.Any other meat masala can also work. Just thought of pairing meat masala along with home –made grounded coriander –cumin powder, and that worked very well, taking the levels high and I was not all disappointed.Please adjust the spice level according to your taste-bud.
  • Personally I don’t use Kashmiri red powder in any of our meat preparations, which is only used for the colour, whatever the colour you see up there is due to the koshano process-stir/fry which requires little patience as well and the caramelisation of sugar.
  • The recipe can well be adjusted with chicken or turkey. If you have any left-over gravy, then use this base gravy to make a quick rajma-or chick pea curry or cook rice in this gravy. They turn out absolutely delicious, or a biryani recipe can never go wrong with it.
  • A quick tip- Use this left-over gravy with the cooked pasta – any paste shape goes well- we prefer spaghetti - giving the pasta a nice aromatic spicy Indian blend. Trust me this has worked great as pasta sauce as well on many weekend night dinner for us.

And recently liked a series on BBC by Rick Stein on India and the food that people generally like to eat.You can now even catch up with the series if you wish on Youtube. We have been to north Cornwall, so I can understand when he tries to remember everything with his hometown Padstow's fishing community and to that of Mumbai fish market or a Chennai fish village.A great series to understand that curry is just a tag , just to generalize but in reality, varieties are countless.

Wish you all a blissful period of Ramadan.

Happy Cooking Friends