Tuesday, 28 December 2010

I came back ....

... to say "Thank you."

A humble, grateful and sincere "Thank you."

... to say that I'm overwhelmed.
With the love that you have given me.
The support that you have always been.

For your constant presence in my darkest hours.
For your kind words and gestures during my most painful times.

For every email, every comment here, every message on FB.
For every heart warming word.
For every line that made me a little more stronger.

For trying your best to make me laugh.
For every effort to shift my focus away from the bad to the good to come.

Even when you have been caught up with busy days with jobs,
family, your blogs and a thousand other things,
you have not let go of my hand.

You have taken time to mail me, to leave lines here, to keep in touch constantly,
knowing full well I could not even reply back.

Am touched at your selflessness.
And very, very grateful.

It is your encouragement that has made me decide that I cannot let this year go by
with silence on Kichu Khon.

I came back ...
.... to say how much you and your friendship mean to me.
And how much your efforts are appreciated.

... to say that I'll start blogging again.

I do not know what you see in me, my writings or my blog.
I do not understand why you trust me and my recipes so much.

And I'll henceforth never try to.

You want me to blog.
I'll blog.
I'll write, I'll post.

Thank you again, everyone.
My blog friends & my readers.
Thank you for everything.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Au Revoir

Sorry for the abrupt post dear folks.
And the abrupt good bye.

I may not post again in the near future.
I do hope to be back someday ... but am hoping against hope.

So many things left unsaid.
So many things left unshared.
So many thanks not said.

Before I disappear I want to thank everybody who has one time or the other mentioned Kichu Khon and me on their blogs.
Who have trusted me and my recipes and tried them.
And have written warm and glowing words about them, me and my blog.

I do not want any one of you to worry unnecessarily ... so am explaining that it is not due to any bad comments or anything else that am stopping.
The reasons are purely personal.

Take care dear friends.
This blog has been heaven to me ... letting me be myself.

And all of you have been life to me ... each one a breath of pure air.
Loving me, accepting me, allowing me to be myself.

I'll miss everyone of you and your wonderful spaces and hearts.

Do take care.
Life can be very untrue to us.
I just wish all of you love and happiness.

Warm hugs

Monday, 19 July 2010

Kumror Chokka / Pumpkin with Potatoes

( Vegans can skip the ghee. )

Too many things on my mind these days ... and too many things to get done.
So in no mood to ramble ... yeah, can hear that sigh of relief from you guys. :-)
So straight to my recipe today.

But before that can't resist mentioning that I did get the first Ilish or Hilsa of the season
and had a great leisurely lunch last afternoon ...
... read had enough time on my hands to sit back and
pick through the fine bones
and munch on some great Ilish maach bhaja ...
and lick my plate clean while savouring the Ilish maacher ambol.

Also made some Chorchori with the maatha and
my very own home grown pui ...
yes I did chop off a few stems and leaves.
Was great! :-)

Still have a few pieces left ... am trying out all my Ilish recipes that I posted last year.

Today's recipe is a simple veggie dish that I make very often.

This is my way of making the Kumro (pumpkin) r Chokka or Kumror Chakka ...
... fuss free and not too much of spices.
I do not know why it is known by this name ... so do not ask me.

I like to throw in some kala chana / bengal gram ... so soak a few if am planning to do this dish.
If you are making it impromptu and do not have them ... no problem at all.
And this is one of those rare Bengali dishes in which I use Hing ... am not too fond of the thing ... so usually use it only in the Rajasthani dishes.
But it does give a wonderful flavour to this otherwise simple dish.

You can use coriander and jeera powder with this too ...
I did not.
And I did not use the bay leaf / tej patta to as I had
run out of it.

Need :

Kumro / Kaddu / Pumpkin - cut into medium biggish cubes
Potatoes - cut into a little smaller size than the pumpkin
( can use boiled ones too )
Kala chana / Whole Bengal gram - soaked overnight
( better if you can boil them with a pinch of salt ... just run it in the MW at 60% for 10 mins )
Whole Jeera / Cumin seeds
Grated or paste of fresh ginger
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Hing / Asafeotida
Whole dry red chillies
Oil to cook ( I use mustard oil )
Salt to taste

How to

Heat oil in a deep kadahi / wok.

Add the jeera, hing and the dry red chillies.

Add the ginger paste and stir for just a little while.

Add the potatoes and stir well ... till the sides turn brownish.

Now add the pumpkin, haldi and salt.

Cover and cook till the vegetables are well done.
If needed add a little water so they do not burn.

When the vegetables are done, remove cover and throw in the boiled kala chana.

Give a good stir to mix everything well.

Cover for some more time ( take care not to burn ).

Serve hot.
Top it with a little ghee just before serving.

This dish should be slightly mushy, which the pumpkin will turn to anyway and will get the natural sweetness of the pumpkin.

Goes great with luchi/puri, rotis or parathas.
Or even with dal and rice too.

If you do want some spices in it, you can sprinkle some garam masala or roasted jeera powder on the top before serving.

Enjoy !!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Posto diye Pui / Malabar spinach with Poppy seeds

Do not steal
I was pleasantly surprised to see a big bunch of Pui / Poi / the Malabar spinach at my favourite Bengali store here last weekend.
Though the stems were already very thick and the leaves were a little too big for my taste, I picked up the whole bunch nonetheless ... dreaming of a thousand ... ok ... around five to six different dishes that I'll enjoy these in.

The Pui shaak is common in Bengali meals or dishes ... usually prepared with fish or vegetables or both.
But for people like me who stay away from home and do not have an easy or no access to this leafy vegetable ... it is a delicacy. A very precious delicacy.

Unfortunately am still off fish ... ( I do have every intention of getting
Ilish at least once this season ) ... so made two dishes out of my loot.
One ... the very common and much loved Chorchori.
And the other ... this.

Do not steal

I remember my Ma made a dish with Posto paste and other vegetables ... that used to have pumpkin / kumdo leaves and jackfruit / kathal seeds in it.

So tried to recreate it.

I had some Posto paste after making a few Posto Boras... so used it with the leaves and very chewable stems of the Pui.

I do not get kathal seeds here.
Also I did not use too many vegetables in this as I used them with the Chorchori.

Kept it simple ... just threw in some Turai / ridge gourd to give the dish some body. Of course, you can use potatoes in it too ... I did not.
I had never tasted this combi of posto and pui before ...
must say that I
loved this experiment of mine.

Do not steal

Need :

Posto / Poppy seeds paste - soak the posto seeds for an hour and grind in a mixer
Chopped onion
Pui / Malabar spinach leaves and stems - cleaned and cut into smallish pieces
Chopped Turai / Ridge gourd
Broken green chillies
Oil to cook
Salt to taste
A little sugar ( optional)
A little water to cook

How to :

Heat a little oil in a wok / kadahi.

Add the chopped onions and fry till they turn pink.

Add the turai pieces and the pui leaves and the stem pieces and give a good stir for a while.

Add the green chillies and the posto paste and mix well.

Add some water, salt, sugar and cover.

Cook till the vegetables are well done. Make sure the stems are well cooked. Add water if necessary in between.

Remove cover, dry up any extra water.

Serve hot.

Do not steal

This dish will be slightly sweetish and soft textured ...
... not too watery, not too dry.

Goes great on the side with steamed rice and dal.

An update on Mr.Shalik's family ....
baby number two ... much more beautiful in its downy feathers than its sibling ... left nest,
spent two days fluttering about in my balcony and on the third
day is down on terra firma ...
amongst the plants in the garden.

The parents are with it all the while ... and all is well with them.

And my balcony is empty.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Lau diye Mushur Dal / Bottle gourd cooked with Red lentils

My blog is slowly turning into more of a bird zoo.
And my life is turning more haphazard, out of tune and out of my hands than I ever wanted it to be.

Nose deep into work, maid absconding ... so nose deep into house work too , DH down with the sniffles now ... read needs more attention than an infant ... , beautiful weather mocking, ... so all I do now is crib, work, crib, crib, work, crib, crib .... .

And on the top of it, the little fellows on my balcony are driving me insane.

This morning started with screeches of alarm from Mr. & Mrs. Shalik. Hurriedly step out into the balcony.
This sight greeted me.

Ever since the birds made their home here, I have dreaded this day. It had fallen from the nest that is about 9 feet high, but was ok. A strong breeze kept blowing it away ... it desperately trying to hold on to the floor.

The parents keep screaming. DH puts on gloves ( they should not have the smell of human beings on them ) and picks it up.

Puts it back firmly in the nest with the rest of the babies.

Quiet and normal noises made by the birds assure us everything is fine.

Half an hour later screeching starts.
Baby is down again. This time not moving but breathing. Again put back.

Half an hour later baby down again.

Something is wrong. We try to think of possibilities. Maybe they are too crowded and the weakest is getting the boot. Maybe they have rejected it due to the smell of the rubber gloves.

Any other animal ... pups, kittens, anything else .... I would have confidently dealt with. But have no idea what to do with so small baby birds.

So called up Blue Cross Society. They directed us to the city zoo. Thankfully they took us seriously and sent us their volunteer nearest to our place of stay.

I was initially sceptical. But the way gentle and deft way the man dealt with the baby bird put my fears to rest.
He said the baby has an infection ... so is being rejected by the parents lest the others catch the same.

He treated and carried it away to the zoo where special doctors for birds will take care of it.


This dal has been sitting in my drafts for a long time. A quick, healthy, light and simple dal, this is very good on the tummy ... especially if you have been ill and returning to normal food ... or if you want a light meal.

I use the tempering of Paanch Phoron here as I love the slightly achaari flavour it gives when paired with mustard oil and Mushur dal.

Need :
Musur dal / Masoor dal / Red lentils
Lau / Lauki / Bottle gourd - peeled and cut into small cubes
Paanch phoron ( a mix of mustard + fennel + fenugreek + cumin + nigella seeds )
Mustard oil - to temper
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Sliced onions
Whole dry red chillies
Salt to taste
Water to cook

How to :
Wash the dal and keep aside.

Heat mustard oil in a pressure cooker.
Add the Panch phoron and the dry chilles.

When they start to splutter add onion and fry for a while.

Now add the bottle gourd and stir for some time.

Then add the dal and keep stirring.
Then add the turmeric powder, salt and water.

Close cooker and cook for 2 whistles on low heat.

Remove cover when cooker has cooled.

Give the dal a stir ... check for seasoning.

If needed add some more water and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Serve hot.

Goes great with plain rice or rotis and a dry dish on the side.

Blogger is going bonkers. Many of you have not been able to leave comments.
I have not been able to view comments ... I see 5 comments and get to read 1 ... that way.
And I have no idea what's going on.
So please bear with me ... if not with Blogspot.
C' ya all soon folks !!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Biri Bora / Biri Bada / Lentil Fritters

Ok ... after that hard hitting post am back to normal. Those of you who have stuck by Kichu Khon for some time now would know that am not into tough talking much ... but one can take only so much. Hence that post came to be.
Back to routine.

It rained all last night. I sat up a long while ... listening to the rain and to some of my favorite ghazals ... chatting up a good friend ... with the sniffles and a little fever it feels good to have a friend talk to. She makes the right noises of sympathy ... felt good. :-)

The day is very cloudy. Fog. Light rain. Cold breeze. Boring afternoon.
A whole bunch of work pending. The weekend looming. Don't feel like doing anything. Step out into the balcony.

Far on the hills it is raining. Can see a light drizzle there ... slowly making its way here.

Two kingfishers, caught up with chasing each other on high speed ... fly into a building ... realising at the last moment .... give out a long screech of surprise and alarm ... and dive away.

Down in the narrow lane a young boy cycling in rounds ... very slowly.
Round and round and round.
Quiet afternoon.
Light spray of rain.
Boy still engrossed in cycling ... round and round and round.
I watch.

Mr. Shalik flies in ... swoops down on my railing. Sees me standing.
Waits. He has to go up to his nest to check on the babies ... who have start chirping loudly as soon as they sense his presence.

I do not move.
Boy still going round and round and round.
Disgusted ... Mr. Shalik leaves.

Boy tires.
Leans against a wall ... with bicycle ... deep in thought.

Mrs. Shalik comes. A huge insect struggling in her mouth.
Screeches at me through closed beak. Nah ... these birds have no manners.

I step away. No point in depriving the kiddos from food.

Come over and start to think of writing a post. Hmm ... nothing interesting to write.
Let me move on to my recipe.

These deep fried pakodas / vadas are made from the Urad dal. Only, they are much smaller and irregular in shape than the usual Medu Vadas / Urad dal vadas.

This is the way they are made in Orissa. Come evening, the street sides would fill with hand pushed temporary stalls selling all kinds of hot deep fried delicacies ... among which will be the Biri Bora ( Urad dal vada / Biuli Daler Bora ).

This is one of the many street foods that we never miss on our trips home ... almost every evening standing on the streets in the evening breeze ... not having the patience to wait till it cools ... biting into a piping hot bora ... and then opening the mouth with "oooh" "haaah" ... to cool it. :-)

I love the small pieces of fried onions and green chilies that come with every bite.

Fuss free ... not too many ingredients ... quick to make ... great to snack on.
Especially on rainy evenings.

Need :

Urad dal - soaked overnight and ground into a paste
Thinly sliced onions
Chopped green chillies
Chopped coconut pieces ( optional ... if you have it or like it, then use )
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry ( preferably mustard oil )

How to :

Mix everything well ... except the oil.

Heat oil in a deep kadahi.

Gently let in small balls of the dal paste.

Deep fry till golden brown.

Serve hot.

These vadas are great to munch on as is ... but you can have them with any chutney or sauce of your choice. And a hot cup of tea.

And oh ... if you have any left overs ... which I very much doubt you will ... do try mashing them up roughly with some chopped onions, green chillies, salt and a little mustard oil ... and have it cold ... with very hot rice or curd rice.
Too good!

Have a great weekend all !

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Chanaa Dal with Lauki / Lentils with Bottle Gourd

Recently , on FB, came across Plagiarism related to food blogs and was once again touched at how close knit a circle food bloggers are. ( Am no longer on FB ).

And this was just a couple of days after I helpfully instructed a new blogger on how one should not be copying text from other blogs ... it is always good to write your own stuff since you are anyway cooking the whole thing.

I was also prudent enough to mail her and not write anything publicly on her comment form ... she had been trying out my recipes but was picking up my whole text of the recipes.

I know most new bloggers have no idea of this thing and are indignant that they have no intention of 'stealing'. They do not realise a lot of things ... just assume that since something is available on the net ... it is for everybody.

They do not realise it is for everybody to see ... not to use.

So new blogger takes offence. Does not realise what would happen if somebody starts to make a hue and cry.
But I know ... if she sticks around for a while in the Food blogging world, she will soon learn.

Moving on, I'll rant some more. Do note ... this is not for you if you have left a line here even once.

This is for those who visit my blog numerous times a day ... well ... what do you think of 138 returning visits to one particular recipe? ... yet have never left a line.

I see people coming here ... moving from one page to another ... taking just enough time needed to read a post ... leaving through a number of posts, blogs and even widgets.
Yet ... not a line. Not a good word ... or for that matter am ready to take bad words too.
They come here with recipe as well as "Kichu Khon" or " Sharmila Kichu Khon" or "Sharmila food blog" etc. etc. searches ... and still do not leave a line.

And if they get stuck somewhere ... they'll mail me. Why not write on my comment section? This is where I have posted ... other people will also benefit from your doubts. But no.

I guess they think since this is a free for all space, why bother giving a thought ( I seriously doubt if they are capable of thoughts too ) or go to the comment section and type out a few lines.
So I have decided to ignore all those irresponsible, lazy, free stuff hoggers.

Yes, am very angry.

Today's recipe has been sitting in the drafts ... notice the wonderful sunshine and shadows ... I must have clicked it sometime during winter. But don't know why never posted it.

There was a search for "Chana dal with Lauki" ... or was it " Lau diye Chana dal" ... on my blog recently. I felt bad that someone must have been disappointed.

So decided to post this first .... and then post the other delicacies that am making this monsoon. :-)

This is a very simple and quick to make dryish dish. The only time taken is by the Chana Dal to soak ... the rest can be done in a jiffy.

Need :
Chana Dal / Bengal gram lentils
Lauki / Bottle gourd - cut into small cubes
Onion - chopped into medium sized pieces
Garlic - chopped finely ( optional )
Tomatoes - chopped into medium sized pieces
Cooking oil
Jeera / Cumin seeds
Hing / Asafeotida
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Red chilli powder
Garam masala powder
Some Black Peppercorns
Salt to taste
Sugar - a small pinch
Water to cook

How to :

Soak the dal in enough water for around 3-4 hours. If you preplan ... then preferable over night.

Heat oil in a kadahi / wok.
Add the jeera, peppercorns and the hing.

Add the chopped onions (and garlic, if using ) and fry till the onions lose the raw flavour.
Now add the dal, the lauki pieces, haldi and salt.
Stir fry well for a while.
Add water till it skims the surface.

Cover and cook till the dal and the lauki is done.
If needed, add a little water at a time.

Add the tomatoes and the chilli powder, cover and cook for some more time.

When done, add some garam masala, give a final stir and remove from heat.

Serve hot.
Goes great with hot rotis or parathas.
Have a great week all !!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Savoury Lentil Cake / Handvo

My balcony is no longer mine.

Well ... it has never been mine for that matter. The small ledge is the bane of all good in my life ... read a little time spent on the balcony every evening ... or stand a while to enjoy the rains spray.

But no ... there are other important living beings who have laid claims on my property long back. They are our feathered 'friends'. Honestly .. am in a good mind to refer to them as foes henceforth.

First it were the pigeons. Amongst the fast paced real estate boom ... read numerous flats and buildings coming up ... they zero in on my balcony! After a good number of days spent fighting among themselves .. the most able and fittest get hold of the ledge. I wonder if this should give me some consolation regarding free security.

And then comes a longish time of having a baby ... nurturing it ... teaching it to fly. All through this ... dare I step into the balcony, the parents flutter about ... if I sit on the swing ... one of them will sit right across me on the railing and stare pointedly ... till I give up and go in.

Now this corner of mine has been taken up by two Shaliks ( in Bengali ). I had tried sealing the ledge with newspapers and thermocol boxes .. the enterprising pair scraped away part of the thermocol with their beaks and made a door ... and got a home!

The eggs have hatched and I can already hear the faint chirps and the parents are busy throughout the day carrying strugging insects in their beaks to feed the babies.

I love to be with my greens ... with the monsoon clouds and rain all over ... ok .. I have exactly three pots and 9 plants among them ... so what? I still love to be among my greens.

But no ... the moment I step there ... am shooed off with the best expletives in birdie language ... punctuated with screeches that go zzzzzzinggg .... right thru one ear and out the other. No ... they are not afraid of me or fly away ... it is I who has to give in ... always.

But at least they do not dirty the balcony as the horrid pigeons do.

I had planted exactly 15 saplings of Pui / Poi / Malabar spinach ... out of which only this many survived. DH sniggers everytime I water them or fuss around them ... mentioning something about a butcher taking care of a kid ... waiting.
Well ... I hope I get enough leaves on these so as not to feel guilty even if I do chop off a few for my Chorchori.

A few days back I had made the Dal Panchmela, and since I never measure stuff I am using for cooking I got some soaked dals left.

I usually grind them to a batter and make dosas or adai. But was in no mood to stand in the kitchen and fry one dosa after the other for a long long time.
So threw in a few things that came to my mind while grinding the batter and set it in the oven to bake.

Out came a savoury cake that we relished with tea that rainy evening. It is something close to a Handvo ... but I did check out the recipes for it ... and decided not to call this a Handvo for purists' sake.

This Savoury Lentil Cake came out very fluffy and spicy. Loved every bit of it.

Need :
A mix of 5 dals (Tuvar, Urad, Masoor, Chana, Moong ) soaked together
Fresh Coconut ( optional )
Fresh green chillies
Jeera / Cumin seeds
A pinch of Hing / Asafoetida
Baking Powder
Salt to taste
Lemon juice
A little water
A little cooking oil

Feel free to use whatever spices you want to ... I could not think of much.

How to :
Grind the dals with the coconut, jeera and the green chillies.

Add the hing, lemon juice, salt and baking powder to the batter.

Line a baking bowl with a little cooking oil.
Pour in the batter and bake at 150 degrees C for around 20 minutes.

Remove and cool.

Cut to pieces and serve hot or warm.

I had both my Peanut chutney and our very favourite Onion Chutney in the fridge ... enjoyed with both. And a hot mugga. :-)

Enjoy all !

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Bhaja Muger Dal & Crispy Fried Parwal

The Bhaja Muger dal ( Dry roasted and cooked mung / moong lentils ) has been a request from an old reader of my blog ... Vaishnavi ... from a considerable long time back. I know I have been very late in posting this ... but then ... well ... here it is ... a very flavourful yet very simple dal that tastes awesome with plain steamed rice.

This dal tastes very different from what raw moong dal tastes when cooked. Try the tempering used here with raw moong dal once ... which is also wonderful in taste and flavour ... and you will know.
Just one mouthful of this dal with rice takes you to heaven ... and back ... for another mouthful.

I recommend cooking this in ghee. If cooking in oil, top it with a spoonful of ghee after it is done.

Bhaja Muger Dal

Need :

1 cup Moong / Mung dal
2 Green chillies - chopped
1 inch Ginger - chopped very finely
1/2 tsp Jeera / Cumin seeds
A little Haldi / Turmeric powder
1 tsp Ghee / Clarified butter or 1 tsp Mustard oil
2 Tej pata / Bay leaves
Salt to taste
Water to cook ( around 3 cups )

How to :

Take a thick bottomed pan .. preferably cast iron kadahi / wok ... or a non stick utensil would do too ... but it has to be a heavy one.

Tip in the cupful of mung dal into it and put it on low flame.

Keep stirring continiously ... the dal will slowly get roasted and turn golden in colour and let out an aroma. Do not leave the place even for a moment .. it burns real quick.

As soon as the dal turns golden ... turn off heat and remove pan ... keep stirring for some more time till the pan / kadahi cools.

Wash the dal and keep aside.

Take a pressure cooker. Put in the dal, water, salt and haldi. Close and cook till 2 whistles on low heat.

Or you can soak the dal for around an hour and then run it in the MW oven at 60% for 10 minutes.

Heat ghee ( or mustard oil ) in another pan or kadahi.

Add the jeera. When it starts to splutter ( do not burn it ), add the tej patta and the ginger.

Stir a little and add the green chillies.

Add the dal and stir well.

Adjust salt and water to get desired consistency.

Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for around 5 minutes.

Serve very hot with steamed rice.

Preferably with some vegetable fry on the side.

I had some Parwal / Potol / Pointed gourd ... so here's my crispy fried Parwal or muchmuche Potol bhaja.

Crispy Fried Parwal / Pointed Gourd

It is Parwal / Padwal / Potol / Pointed Gourd season.
Bengalis make a whole variety of dishes with this vegetable.
But I love it crispy fried ... like this. Crispy yet retaining the sweetness of the vegetable.

This way of coating with rice flour and frying the vegetables is more common in Odisha ... which is very different from the usual Bengali way of frying vegetables.

While I am used to this way due to our Oriya cook, DH fell in love with this kind of fries on our trip to Chilika ... and later many other places in Orissa that we have visited.
For a vegetarian, this is like manna from heaven ... if you are not into those heavy paneer masala, etc. types of food.

The crispiness comes from the rice flour. So this is known as Pithau bhaja in Odiya.
And since it is shallow fried, no too much of oil into you ... as opposed to the usual Bengali way of bhajas / fries that are most of the time deep fried.

You can fry other vegetables like the Karela / Bitter gourd, Potatoes, Onions, Cauliflower, etc. this way too.
And this is a great hit with kids too .. an easy way to get some veggies into them.

This is quick to make and tastes best when eaten hot. So prepare everything and fry just before serving a meal.

So here is the Potola pithau bhaja for you.

Need :

Parwal / Pointed gourd - peeled and cut into very thin slices
Rice flour - a few spoonfuls to to coat the slices well
Chopped green chillies ( optional )
Salt to taste
Oil to shallow fry

How to :

Toss everything except the oil together in a bowl.

Take a flat bottomed heavy or non stick pan and heat some oil ... spreading the oil all over properly.

Put in the sliced and coated parwal and spread them so that they do not stick to form a lump.

Fry till golden brown.

Serve hot

Here's another look of this simple yet very tasty and flavourful lunch.

Have a great weekend all!!

Do check out Sandeepa's and Mandira's versions of the Bhaja muger dal.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Chicken Kheema / Spiced Chicken Mince

(Vegetarians & Vegans can make this with soy granules ... just soak them in hot water before using ... tastes just as wonderful).

The monsoons are here. And on time. Like a quiet and obedient child, they crept in along with the humdrum of busy days.

The skies filled up with dark, heavy clouds. No wind to disturb or blow them away. Nobody noticed when the rains started. The rains here are not the usual heavy pelting downpours. They are a quiet steady drizzle. Sometimes very strong, sometimes light. Yet so quiet you won't even know it has been raining awhile unless you look out.

Or unless your windows dull over with the fog.
I love the fresh smells the rains bring. Clean washed air and the fresh smell of green that come from the slightly bruised grass or leaves.

And when the rain stops for a while ... the chill ... and the smell of fog.
Yes ... it almost feels like you are somewhere up in the hills ... the air so sharp and clean and cold.
I recently read the big B's blog ... he drove down all the way to Pune with his car windows rolled down ... so get the idea. :-)

The perfect season for hot hot food.
I'll be coming up with a whole lot of stuff ... right from my own soups to deep fried crispies.
I'll so miss the abundant sunshine for my snaps. But then ... can't have everything at the same time.
Might as well enjoy the rains and pray they don't overstay till Durga puja. :-)

My recipe today is the basic and very quick Chicken Keema. The snaps have been sitting in my drafts for a longish time.
Saved me the horror of clicking Karela ( my lunch today ) in dull light.

I often make this kheema beforehand and freeze it. Later just have to take it out ... add what ever is needed for a particular dish I plan to make and use it.
Of course you can have it as is too.
I especially love to add some green peas to it ... unfortunately had run out of them when making this. Just adding the green peas would make this the dish of Keema Matar.

I do make a number of things from this version of the keema ... so decided to post this basic kheema first ... and then refer to it in later posts of different dishes.

Need :

500 gms Minced chicken / Chicken kheema
Around 4 tbsp curd / yoghurt
2 Chopped onions
5 tbsp Onion paste
2 tbsp Ginger paste
4 tbsp Garlic paste
1/2 tsp Haldi / Turmeric powder
1 tsp Lal Mirch / Red chilli powder
1 tbsp Dhania / Coriander powder
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Lemon juice
Garam masala powder
Cooking oil
Water to cook

How to :

Apply a little lemon juice to the chicken kheema and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan / wok / kadahi.

Add the chopped onion and fry well for a while.

Add the onion paste and again fry for some time ... till the raw flavour disappears completely.

Add the ginger and the garlic pastes. Raise heat.

Fry well till oil leaves the sides.

Add the haldi, mirchi, a little sugar and the coriander powder and stir well.

Add the chicken and mix well ... stirring continuiously. If needed add a little water.

Add salt and a little more water ... lower heat.

Add the curd, stir well and cover and cook for around 15 minutes.

Remove cover ... raise heat and dry up whatever water is left ... this dish should be dryish.

Add the garam masala and give one final stir.

Remove from heat, cover and let it stand for a while.

Serve hot.
Great with rotis or parathas or naan.

Enjoy all !!

Sunday, 13 June 2010


After the Jhaal Muri and the Phuchka / Pani puri / Golgappa, the next favourite Calcutta street food is the Churmur.

A wonderful combination of salty, spicy and a dash of tang thrown in with the soft of boiled potatoes and the crunch of the crispy puris in every mouthful ... along with the heat of chilles and sharp of onion bits ... it is like tasting a whole gamut of experiences in every spoonful.

My blog friend Aparna, who has a great blog and is a wonderful writer had requested some recipes long back. Among them was one for the Churmur. So here is the Churmur .. for her ... and all of you. Thanks for your patience A. :-)

You don't need too many things to make this at home. You can make the preparations in advance too ... like boiling the potatoes and the dried peas ( running them in the MW oven with a little water and salt is the quickest way ) , roasting and powdering the jeera / cumin, getting the puris, etc. All you have to do is put everything together and serve.

And if you are planning to have this for guests ... you can mix them all up ... just add the onions and the broken puris just before serving ( else the onions tend to smell ... and the puris will turn soggy ... and won't go chur mur chur mur when eating).

Need :

Dried White Peas - soaked for half an hour and pressure cooked with salt and water on low heat for 4 whistles

Roasted Jeera / Cumin powder - dry roast on a tawa or pan stirring constantly till you get an aroma ... cool ... and crush it in a mortar and pestle

Chilli powder - not Kashmiri mirch powder ... you need the spicy one ... either you dry roast some whole dry red chillies and crush them or use the chilli flakes with pizza takeouts

A little tamarind water ( add if you find the mix getting too dry )

Rock salt - a must

Black pepper powder

A little Mustard oil

Amchur / Dried mango powder 

A little tamarind water - just soak some tamarind and squeeze out after a little while

Fresh coriander leaves chopped ( I did not use as I don't eat them )

Fresh green chillies - give a thwack first to release the juices and then chop

How to

Put the diced potatoes, the boiled peas, chopped onions, green chillies together in a bowl.

Add the dry masalas with salt ( adjust the spice, sour and salt according to your taste ).

Add a dash of mustard oil and the tamarind water and stir very well.

Crush the papdis or the puris and add it to the mixture. 
Many like the mixture soggy ... I don't.
And I like the crispness of the papdis in a biteful, so have not crushed them completely.

Give another good stir to mix everything properly.

And your Churmur is ready!

Serve immediately.

I had some of my wonderful Saunth / Sonth that I usually make whenever I have left over Chaashni / sugar syrup from Rosogollas or Gulab Jamuns.
So served with it along too. Tasted great ... as always.

If you do not have chashni and still want to make the saunth, just boil equal amounts of water and sugar and add the other ingredients mentioned here.

Enjoy this spicy tangy plateful with friends or just indulge yourself while it is pouring outside! :-)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Rajasthani Dal Bati Churma / Baked Wheat Dumplings served with Mixed Lentils

An authentic meal of Dal Baati Churma is much loved in Rajasthan. Very simple and very rustic, this common man's food from rural India is very common to a Rajasthani or Marwari family. Not only is it easy to cook, but also is very filling and so makes a complete meal of grains, lentils and sweet at the end.

On our many trips to Rajasthan, we have eaten at numerous simple roadside eateries or highway side dhabas on our lookout for simple local cuisine.
Even though Dal Bati is readily available everywhere, I could not get myself to eat them outside just because they are prepared right there on the side of the road ... in slow embers of cow dung cakes. No, not even the heady aroma of the baked wheat could shake me.
Maybe that's because am not a Rajasthani ... so am not used to it. My Rajasthani other half enjoys them without any qualms. :-)

Back home, it is cooked under more 'sanitised' conditions ... plain baked in my good ol' oven.
And when do I make this meal? When am too lazy to go the kitchen to rustle up something ... or for a late Sunday meal ... or anytime when I want easy cooking as well as a quick home cooked meal.

To the recipes now.

Do not be daunted by the long post .. it takes just a while in the kitchen for the prep work. After that set the pressure cooker to cook and the oven to bake. And go laze. :-)

The Dal :

The Dal is commonly known as Dal Panchmela or Dal Panchmel. The reason being it is a mix of five dals.
Very simple with no masalas at all, this dal tastes the best when kept for a day and then eaten.
Many people add garam masala powder to it ... I do not. I love the taste of the each dal seperately, accentuated by a bite of ginger here or a green chilli there.

Just keep the quantity of the moong and chana dal less than the other three dals as they tend to soak up water more ... resulting in too a thick dal.
Check out the snap for an idea of the quantities.

Need :

Moong dal ( around 2 tbsp )
Tuvar dal ( 1/2 cup )
Chana dal ( around 3 tbsp )
Masoor dal ( 1/3 cup )
Urid dal ( 1/3 cup )
Onion sliced lengthwise
Ginger sliced lengthwise
Green chillies chopped
Jeera / Cumin seeds
Hing / Asafoetida
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Lal Mirch / Red Chilli powder
Lemon juice or Amchur/Dried mango powder
Salt to taste
Ghee / Clarified butter ( Can use any white oil too )

How to :

Wash the dals and soak in a bowl.

Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.

Add the jeera, when it starts to splutter add the hing.

Add the onions immediately and stir fry for a while.

Now add the ginger and stir.

Add the dal, haldi, mirchi, salt and enough water.

Add the lemon juice or Amchur powder ... whichever you are using.

Close cooker and set on low heat for around 5 to 6 whistles.

Remove cover when cooker has cooled.

Give a stir ... add more water if necessary ... the dal should be thickish and not watery ... and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Serve hot.
Btw ... this dal goes great with rotis or steamed rice too.

The Baati.

Traditionally, Batis are roasted on open fire .... that is kept on low by not disturbing the ashes as they form.
Later, after the baking is done, the batis  are dunked to hot ghee so that they soak it up well ... and stay moist.
But I skip that part.
Instead I use the ghee while preparing them for baking ... so only the minimum of ghee is used ... and the aroma stays the same.

Need :

Whole Wheat flour - 2 cups
Salt - to taste
Ghee / clarified butter - 2 tbsp for the kneading and 1 tsp for rolling
Water to knead dough

A lot of people add suji or rawa to get that crumbly feel .... but it is not traditional.
I never use it. If baked properly, the batis will get their texture well.

How to :

Knead the dough as you would for chapatis/ rotis. It should be firm and not too soft.

Line a baking tray liberally with ghee.

Apply a little ghee on you palms, break off a medium sized ball from the wheat dough and roll it between your palms to give roughly roundish shape.

Do not roll them into very smooth balls .. let the surface stay uneven and broken ... helps it to cook well, lets in the ghee and gets some wonderfully crispy sides that taste heavenly when eaten with the dal.

Pre heat oven at 150 degrees C.

After keeping the baking tray in, set the temeprature to 120 degrees C.
Bake for 15 minutes and then flip the batis over.

Bake for another 20 minutes.

If you want them slightly brown, then grill them on high for around 5 minutes.

How to assemble :

Break or crumble the baati into pieces ... like so.

Douse it with the Panchmela Dal generously.

Mix well with your fingers ... what?! ... this is Indian food ... you have to use your hand and fingers.

At this point you can add a small dollop of ghee on it too.
And savour! :-)

Am giving the Churma recipe here ... no snaps as we ate up every single grain. Will post later.
For an idea you can refer to the Roti ke Laddoo.

The Churma

Need :

A few Batis
Sugar to taste ( it is a sweet dish )
Elaichi / cardamom ( optional )
Ghee ( yes, yes, I know ... optional )

How to :

Break the baatis (and the ghee + elachi , if using ) and run in a mixer for a coarse powder.

Remove and mix the sugar well.

Serve with the Dal and Baati.

Here's another look!

Enjoy all !

( I had promised in this post that I'll post this recipe soon. Just realiseed that inspite of making this very regularly at home, it took me two whole years to make a post. )