Monday, 29 February 2016

Chicken Kofta / Deep fried Chicken mince balls

Chicken kofta

Facebook has a way of making even the most routine and inane days seem interesting.
All kinds of reminders keep appearing on my home page ....  so and so's birthday, you have been friends with so and so for so long, you had posted this photo on this day last year/two/three/four  years ago, ... and so on.

Today, it reminded me that it is 29th of February ... the next one will come only after 4 long years ... so I  should be doing something to make this day special.
I saw this around mid day but was nonetheless inspired.
These little pushes are indeed needed in life ... even if it comes from a cold machine running some code some where.

Mondays are hectic, no chaotic would be a more appropriate word, for me.
After the lull of Saturday and Sunday, the body and the mind, both vehemently refuse to come back into working mode. One look at the kitchen is enough to send me into depression.
The over loaded laundry basket and the empty dishwasher both mock at me.
Not to mention the big question "what to cook" looming.
Especially after a good weekend lunch and dinner ... and Sunday's dinner of Biryani.
Any meal of bhaat dal or roti sabzi seemed too pale to match the hangover with.

Chicken kofta

So decided to make some Kadhi pakoda for lunch. I do not usually make kadhi pakodas due to all that deep frying involved.And B does not like the pakodas made in the Appe pan.
But today is different.
Not only because it is 29th of Feb., but also because it is one of the quickest and easiest of dishes to make. Also because I could see the corner of the sky turn cloudy ... and as I type this I can hear thunder rumbling.
Because we will be getting the first rain of the season right on 29th of Feb.

Because this post is not about the kadhi pakoda but about  the Chicken Koftas that I make very regularly, but have not posted ever.
Chicken kofta

Chicken koftas are meat balls made from minced chicken. Most of the time I make minced chicken or Chicken keema this way to be eaten with parathas, but at times I do make these meat balls too.
I had made a batch of these right before our kitchen renovation started.
Survived on them for a good stretch of time ... they stay very well when refrigerated.

I often add them to noodles or spaghetti or just make a gravy and dunk them in.
But they are excellent finger food as well. Make for great snacks when you have guests.
 Just marinate everything and let it sit in the fridge.
All you have to do is to deep fry them when the guests have arrived.

I have a few pending posts on these coming up, hence posting the recipe for Chicken Koftas first.
Most of the time, I use pastes of ginger, garlic and green chilles.
Tried using the chopped ones here and found the texture great when eaten hot.

Chicken kofta

Need :

Chicken mince
Finely chopped onions
Finely chopped garlic
Finely chopped green chillies
Ginger - grated
Garam masala powder - very little
Corn flour - just enough to bind
1 egg - (optional )
Lemon juice
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Oil - to deep fry

How to :

Mix everything together.
Heat oil.
Make small balls and deep fry them.

You can shallow fry them too. Just make sure you use a heavy, flat bottomed pan.

If planning to use for later, keep them in the coldest shelf of your refrigerator.
And if planning to use after a longish time, then do freeze them.

Chicken kofta

They go great with some ketchup or kasundi.
Perfect accompaniment for tea.

You can serve them with some salsa or chutney.
Or you may try this Peanut dip ... takes the meat balls to a different level.

A closer look.

Chicken kofta

I can already see big droplets on my window.
Got to run and get that whiff of wet earth when they hit the ground.

So what did you do to make this 29th February memorable?


Friday, 19 February 2016

Aloo Begun ar Amchur diye Tyangra macher Shorshe jhal
It has been a crazy week since my last post. Traveling and exploring new places can be tiring.
But what drains you most is the aftermath.
Setting the house and the kitchen back to normal, replenishing the fridge and the pantry, buy green groceries, wash and dry them, then load the fridge .... it is a never ending job.
And to top all this is the unpacking part and worse, the laundry.

I hardly got the time to rest even for a while ... the whole days and evenings were spent on all this as well as thinking of whatever light food I can rustle up for the man ... Kolkata street food had played its role well. So I had to cook soft boiled rice and all kinds of boiled vegetables, mash them up and tried my best to make them look edible.
Mind you ... boiled veggies are our favourite ... all those makhas .... potatoes, brinjals, okras, sweet potatoes, ridge gourd .... all boiled and mashed up with a littler salt and either ghee or mustard oil and sometimes a good dose of lemon juice .... pure bliss on a plate. 
But the real task lies in making it look good.

Anyway .... to cut a long story short ... that is what I have been doing all through this week. And also cooking for myself. Makha and all is all very good ... but I needed normal food too. Read fish.
Even though I was in Kolkata, I hardly got to eat much fish.
Just prawns one day and some other fish another day. That's all.
I needed simple, home cooked maacher jhol badly.

So among all the above mentioned chores and more, I gave my fish wala  a call one evening. Asked him if he had Tyangra and prawns. Rohu and Katla he will have anyway. He said yes and we left for his shop immediately ... he sets up his stall at a place that is at least 20 kms or more from our place.
Had asked him to keep aside some Tyangra and prawns for me.
It is another thing that he had some very good Mourala too. I got half a kilo of big sized Rohu too.
So, my freezer is packed to the gills right now.

I had made this jhaal in a slightly confused mode. Just threw in a little of this and that ... had no idea where I was going. Opened the freezer and saw some frozen mustard paste ... added that too.
And a handful of my home made boris ( you must have seen the photos on my blog page on FB ).
Also ... I have this thing about Amchur ... or dried mango pieces.
If I am making anything with mustard paste, I tend to add some. Absolutely love that taste.
My Thamma used to do that ... so maybe I got it from her.
Turned out pretty good. Good enough to make a post on it.
I had been trying to make some time to write this post, unsuccessfully.
Till now.
B wanted to cook dinner tonight. And I got this much needed time.
The big lot of books that I have got from the Book Fair have been tempting me.
But right now I am ignoring them well and good.
Not for long, I know, though.

So while B is rustling up some Aloo baingan and rotis, I am ensconced in my favourite sofa, typing away.
I have made some Dahi vadas in the afternoon. So looking forward to dinner time as the smell of hot rotis waft through the house right now.

But the recipe first.

Need :

Fresh Tyangra fish - 6 pieces, cleaned and marinated with salt + turmeric powder
Potatoes - 1 medium sized, sliced lengthwise
Brinjal - 1 medium sized, sliced lengthwise
Mustard paste - 2 tbsp
Amchur pieces - 2, or depending on how tart you like your food
Bori - 6 pieces, lightly fried in mustard oil
Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds - a pinch
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Dry red chillies - 2, broken
Oil to cook - I use mustard oil
Salt - to taste
Sugar - a pinch

How to :

Heat mustard oil in a heavy kadahi.
Lightly fry the fish and keep aside.

If needed add some more oil. Add the nigella seeds and the chillies.
Add the potatoes and fry on high heat for a while.
Now add the brinjals and turmeric powder. Fry well.

Add salt and a little water.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
Remove cover and add some more water. Check for salt.

Add the mustard paste, the bories, the amchur pieces and the fish.
Add the sugar.
Pour around a tbsp of mustard oil all over.

Cover and bring to a boil.
Simmer for a while.
Remove from heat and let it stand for around five minutes.

Sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with plain rice.
The tauk, jhaal combined with the pungent mustard paste is to die for. If you are a Bengali, you will know what I mean. :-)


One another note, I have been busy with some more handiworks.
I made this skirt yesterday.
You will find the details here, on my other blog.

C'ya around folks!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Bhindi ki Kadhi ... and a small appeal

On our visit to Kolkata this time, we stayed at and explored around old Kolkata .... the Park circus area.
The narrow lanes are crowded with old dilapidated buildings, dingy old shops, open gutters, street dogs, taxis making way through and jostling with the hand drawn rickshaws, people going about with their lives like washing on the roadside, hanging clothes on a precarious make shift balcony, while the world moves past.
There is an old world charm all over.

And among all these, the thing that catches your eye is the line of eateries on the foot paths.
Either holes in the walls or just a small stand to hold their wares on, the lanes are filled with street food shops to their gills ... or limits.
Every second shop or even a few shops in a line sell eatables. Either the Phuchka, ghugni, jhal muri or frying hot tele bhajas like begunis, vegetable chops and shingara (samosa).
We spotted quite a few hand carts selling the moong dal pakode too.
There are roll shops at every corner as are the chai shops too.

We loved walking on the Russel street the most. B had discovered a gem of a dhaba ... right there in the heart of the city. A small, non descript shop with a Sadarji sitting at the counter near the entrance. At first I was a little hesitant to try it. But the food made me fall in love with the place. And slowly I noticed that very few people went inside to eat ... the area in front of the dhaba was filled with big sized cars all the way towards Park street. And people ordered their food and ate it inside the cars.
The place is famous for its singaras too. And the chai. The tea, served in earthen cups, is to die for.
We went to this dhaba for the singara and tea, almost every evening, if we were around that place.

But this post is about something else. Or someone else.
Just beside this dhaba, with a small stand of aloo chaat, is an old man.
He is so old, bone thin and frail that he cannot stand up, so he sits down on the pavement beside his stand. Near him sits his equally aged and frail wife. The man raises and folds his hands at every passerby ... offering some aloo chaat.
Nobody stops.
Both of them sit quietly and watch as people throng the dhaba and the other food stalls all around.
I was watching them as we sipped on the tea from the dhaba one evening. Their plight slowly seeped into me. While one part of my mind wanted to walk up to them and offer some tea and samosa, another part held me back for fear of offending him.
Finally, I gathered the courage and walked up to them. The old lady sat immobile, but the man hurried to stand up.

There was a burst of all the energy he could gather, on seeing a customer, finally.
I  asked for two plates of aloo chaat. His wares were not in the best of conditions but at least that gave me a chance to talk to him.
He appeared busy, trying to cut the boiled potatoes with shaking hands. But hearing my voice, he looked up.
Those eyes! Shining with pain on his bony face, they bore the reflection of a hard life.
 I chatted with him without being intrusive and came to know that he is 80 years old, comes all the way from Khidirpore every evening to set up his chaat stall here.
On asking about his family or children, he justs waved his hand away and muttered "Sab chale gaye, sab chale gaye, sab kha kar chale gaye."
He obviuosly did not want to bad mouth them, but could not hold back the pain of abandonment in his words.

I chatted with him for some more time, took the plates of chaats and paid him.
While we were talking, a gentleman, who had come to the dhaba, walked up to him and offered him two cups tea. He took with a look of gratefulness. We were about to leave.
And then I saw what he did .... he slowly walked and got another earthen cup, poured half of the tea into it and then walked up to the jhal muri wala sitting a few feet away .... and gave it to him.
That did it for me. I was just short of crying.

So much of pain, so much hunger and yet the man shares his precious cup of tea with his competitor!

I asked him if they would like to eat something. He very politely refused, saying that they were vegetarians and could not eat anything from that dhaba.
On asking, he said they will buy some milk on their way home and have it with some muri / puffed rice. Since both of them did not have any teeth, they found it difficult to eat any food.

We said goodbye and walked on.
But I could not eat anything after that. All I wanted was to give whatever money we were to spend on our food to that man so that he could rest and eat for a few days.
On our walk back, we packed some vegetarian cheela and some sweets for them. And slipped in some money too.
We stopped and chatted with them again and handed him the bag. I was fearful of offending him. But he took the food with gratefulness and grace. His eyes showed much surprise but he was composed.
Blessed us and asked us to come back again.
Said he will make sure that we did not pay for the aloo chaat the next day.

I did not have the courage to tell him that we were leaving the next day.

If you have read so far, then allow me place a request ... an appeal.
If you are in Kolkata, (or if you know anyone in Kolkata willing to help) , if you are near Park street or Little Russel street area, please do look up this old couple.
And do buy a plate of chaat ... not to eat or enjoy ... but to help them.
Please do something so that they do have to go sleep hungry that night.
And please, please do let me know if you see them and tell me how they are doing.
I will be eternally grateful to you.

They stand just beside Russel Dhaba or on the pavement bang opposite it, in front of Handloom Cottage and beside the Roll shop.
That is Russel dhaba, on Russel street, ... clicked from the other side of the road.

I had made this Bhindi ki kadhi for lunch one busy week day.
Quick to make, this one is a life saver. All you have to do is to make sure you have some rice to go with it.
I had left over rice in the fridge. Set this to cook and went about my rest of the chores.
I do not add any garlic to this, so it is different from my Lahsooni kadhi.
This kadhi has the temperings that I use when I make Kadhi pakoda ( I know I have to make a post on that one too).
I fry the Bhindi / Okra and make the kadhi together. You can fry and keep them aside and add later too.

Need :

Bhindi / Okra / Ladies finger - 250 gms, chopped
Whole Dhaniya / Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Whole Red chillies (or you can use fresh green chillies too ) - 2, broken
Hing / Asafoetida - a pinch
Curd - 1 cup
Besan / Gram flour - 1 tbsp
Haldi /  Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Water - to make kadhi
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

How to :

Mix the besan + curd + haldi + red chilli powder + salt + water.

Heat oil in a heavy kadahi.
Add hing, red chillies and whole dhaniya.
Next add the chopped okra.
Add a pinch of salt. Cover and cook till the bhindi is done.

Now remove cover and add the kadhi mix.
Add enough water.
Set it to boil on low flame.

Cook till you get the desired consistency.
Serve hot with steaming hot rice.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Gobhi ke Parathe / Fresh Cauliflower stuffed flatbreads

 I am just back from a whirlwind tour of Calcutta ... or Kolkata, if you insist.
This trip was not sudden. I was desperate to get away from everything and go on a break for a long time now but B was too caught up with work.
I seriously browsed the web, looking up places, even hotels, that would give me the much needed respite I was looking for.
I virtually toured Agra, Delhi, Rajasthan (or whatever places are left of it for us to explore), Kerala and even Kanyakumari.
Looked up flights. Planned for days.
But when it came to sitting down with B and draw a final blueprint, everything fell away.
And I was back to where I was .... looking forlonly at the open pages on my laptop while going about with my chores.

Until one fine January day ... nay, evening I guess, or maybe it was at lunchtime , that B asked "When is the book fair being held this year?"
My heart skipped a beat.
And so that is how our plan for the whole trip was made. Bit by important bits came together, days and evenings planned. Shopping lists drawn up. Writers' and books' names were listed.
Restaurants searched for. Street food corners zeroed in on.
Zomato reviews read and re read.
And so on.

My aim, very much like Arjun, was clear . But it was not a bird or even the eye of a fish.
It was the book fair. The Boi mela.
I wanted to spend as much time as I could there .... in leisure.
Soak it up ... the place, the feel, the look and smell of books ... everything.

And roam the streets of old Calcutta. And gorge on street food.
And do nothing else.
And that is what I exactly did.

B, despite being very apprehensive about the street food part, indulged me. Anything to take some of the ghastly time that I had gone through, off my mind.
Even for a few days.
Later, we can always get back to life and its pains.

And what a time I had! Books, books and books everywhere.
A book lover's dream come true ... that is what the Boi mela is.
I was like a child let loose in a candy store. Threw all caution of limited baggage weight in flights and picked up books to my heart's fill.
Since I cannot pick up heavy, hard bound books to read anymore, I picked up the smaller lighter copies when ever available.
I was dizzy with happiness.

I will have my detailed posts up on my travelogue very soon. Do stay tuned.

Before leaving for the trip, I had made this Gobhi paratha as there were fresh cauliflowers in the market in abundance.

For us, winter dinners or breakfasts have to have some kind of paratha, usually the stuffed ones, on the table.
May it be the Mooli ka parathaparathas made with left over stuff, the Methi ka paratha,
the Aloo parantha , the Bedai or Moong dal paratha, the Egg stuffed paratha, 
the Pyaaz ka paratha or this Gobhi ka parantha.

I hope I am not too late in posting this and winter is still providing the freshest of cauliflowers on your side of the world.
If it is the season of the vegetable being used, like cauliflowers and radishes in winter, I use them fresh.
Nothing like the fresh and moist flavours of the Gobhi mixed with the fried paratha and some green chillies in every bite.
During other seasons, like in the monsoons, , I lightly saute them with spices first.

 Need :

Fresh Cauliflower
Fresh Coriander leaves
Fresh green chillies
Cumin / Jeera seeds
Carrom / Ajwain seeds
Cooking oil to fry

Whole wheat flour or Atta - for the dough
Water - for the dough
A little salt - for the dough
1 tbsp oil - for the dough

I do not use any other spices and keep the taste simple. You can use coriander powder, some amchur powder and red chilli powder too.

How to :

Knead the atta with the salt + oil + water to make a soft, pliable dough.
Keep it covered and let it rest while you prepare the stuffing.

First, wash and dry the cauliflower florets well. There should be no water in them at all.
Grate them.
Add the spices, the green chillies and coriander leaves to it.
Add salt last ... just before you are about to stuff and roll them.
Never before that.
Take a small ball of the kneaded dough and lightly roll and flatten it with your hand.
Use some dry flour to make handling it easier.
Stuff it with some of the filling.
Cover it from all sides, gently pressing the joining part so that the filling does not come out when rolling it.
Very gently, roll out a paratha. Use a lot of dry flour so that it moves around on the rolling platform easily.

Heat a tawa.
Gently put the paratha on it. Let it cook on low heat for around a minute.
Then flip it over.

Brush some oil on both sides and fry it, flipping all the while, till the sides are golden brown in colour.
Serve hot.

These paranthas go best with some achar / pickles. Or with dahi / curd too.
And if you are like me, you will douse your plate with some tomato ketchup first.
Tear a steaming hot piece off, blow on the steam, dunk it in the ketchup and tuck it into your mouth.
And sit back and savour the flavours of fresh cauliflower combined with a bite of ajwain here and green chilli there.
Maybe you can have a cup of adrak wali chai or ginger tea on the side too.

Enjoy winter!
Or whatever is left of it.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Tadkewali Masoor ki Dal,or.&bvm=bv.113943164,d.c2E&biw=1252&bih=602&dpr=1.09&ech=1&psi=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg.1455166037130.3&ei=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg&emsg=NCSR&noj=1
I was wondering what to post next while cooking lunch a few days back.
Words and sentences form and fade away.
I get ideas for writing during the most mundane of tasks and chores during the day. But cannot leave the job at hand and sit down to write pronto, for obvious reasons.
And by the time it is evening and I finally get to settle down, the mind is blank.
No ideas, no themes, no recipes either.

I had once started a series of my lunch or dinner plate on facebook. That idea had come from the fact that while I cook a whole lot of stuff for everyday meals, I do not always get the time to set up the table and click photographs properly. ( That too has been neglected for a while now.
So if at least I posted a photo of the whole lunch plate, there will be a compilation of my daily cooking for my readers.
And for me, it will be easier to decide later what to photograph and post on the blog.
Like for instance the numerous sabzis I make. Or the bhajas.
And especially the dals.

I cook different kinds of dals almost everyday, for every meal.
B cannot do without dals.
While I am not a big fan of dals, I do cook them in different ways ... read with different kinds of temperings, for him.
With time, I have learnt to differentiate between the different kinds and ways of cooking dal.
And it all depends upon the temperings, whether you will have a light, soupy dal or a thick and rich dal.
Or a one pot meal kind, like the dalma. Or just plain boiled and garnished with some plain, fragrant ghee.
I cook dal in almost every possible way and all of the above.,or.&bvm=bv.113943164,d.c2E&biw=1252&bih=602&dpr=1.09&ech=1&psi=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg.1455166037130.3&ei=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg&emsg=NCSR&noj=1

So, while chopping onions to temper a pre cooked masoor dal that day, I decided to make a post on it too. I know there is not much to cooking dal. But then again ... like I said ... no meal is complete without it too.
And who knows, like me, one can convert too.
And accept a bowlful by the side of a lunch or dinner plate with ease.

So I have decided to click and post every single kind and way of dal I cook in my kitchen, henceforth.

For this Masoor dal, I already had dal cooked with some salt + turmeric powder, sitting in the fridge.
So all I had to do was add some tadka or temper it.
Now, the problem I face is B does not like masoor dal.
Unless it is the Chilkewali massor dal ... i.e. the unskinned, black ones.
And I love masoor dal. It has such a light, beautiful flavour ... I can eat it just plain boiled.
Next, I love it with the typical Bengali temper of Paanch phoron + dry red chillies.
B does not like it that way too.
So, I have to add all kinds of stuff to jazz it up a little.,or.&bvm=bv.113943164,d.c2E&biw=1252&bih=602&dpr=1.09&ech=1&psi=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg.1455166037130.3&ei=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg&emsg=NCSR&noj=1

Need :

Red lentils - soaked and cooked with a pinch of salt + turmeric powder
Onion - chopped
Ginger - chopped
Garlic - chopped
Fresh green chillies - chopped
Tomatoes - chopped
Jeera / Cumin seeds - a little
Turmeric powder
Red chilli powder 
Sugar - a little
Salt - to taste
Ghee ( or cooking oil ) - a little
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
Hot water - to cook

How to :

Heat ghee or oil.
Add the jeera.
When it starts to splutter, add the onion + garlic + green chillies.
Fry well.
Next, add the ginger + tomatoes.

Fry well , on low heat, till the tomatoes soften.
Add a little turmeric powder + red chilli powder.

Now add the dal and hot water.
Check for salt and add the sugar too.

Cover and let it simmer till everything comes together.
Remove cover, check for consistency. Add water and boil some more, if needed.

Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves.
Remove from heat.,or.&bvm=bv.113943164,d.c2E&biw=1252&bih=602&dpr=1.09&ech=1&psi=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg.1455166037130.3&ei=QxC8Vs3jJdWJuATQ26LwAg&emsg=NCSR&noj=1
Serve hot with rotis. Or rice.
We had it with soft, fluffy rotis and Aloo Borboti fry.

As you can see, my writing is still a mess. But I do believe that I will be able to restrain and collect my thoughts with a little more time.
Till then ... stay around folks.
And take care.
And of course ...