Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bengali Chicken Stew

These days, I am busy with two things. Other than admiring the weather, that is.
One, completing all my half done knitting projects. I just completed a baby blanket for a cousin's newborn. And am almost done with another poncho .... just the final sewing and finishing is to be done.
You can check out both on my handiwork blog .... soon.
Two, wading through the few thousands of photos to select, edit and put up along with my writings on my travel blog.
A mammoth task ... I tell you. What with three phone devices and one camera, it is not an easy job.
I just hope I will be able to round up and start writing before the feel of the trip wears out.
And I lose my mojo to write about it.

As far as the weather goes, it is getting beautiful by the day. We are getting a good winter this year.
Pune has seen temperatures as low as 10 and 9 degrees already.
And we are getting beautiful sunsets too.
I can smell the lovely smell of winter when I step out into the balcony after dusk.
Clear skies; bright, warm sun make the day. And the sudden cool just after sunset, mixed with the smell of leaves and dry air and earth and smoke from afar .... all make up that nostalgic, beautiful smell of winter.
I am planning some Bori and achar sessions soon. Let's hope the sun stays this warm for now.

Winter was setting in in the US of A too, when I was there recently.
As you step outdoors, the sharp, very clean air hits you and almost takes your breath away for the first few seconds. You breathe in and the sharp cold reaches the very insides of you.
Freshens you up like never before.
But you cannot smell winter.
Everything is sharp, clean, clear. And antiseptic kind of cold.
I am so glad to be back and take in our winter to the fullest .... complete with all kinds of fresh vegetable parathas and achars and stews and soups, et all.
Yes, I am a desi to the core.

Winter memories from my childhood come loaded with the smells and flavours of all kinds of food too.
While, at Dadu's (grandpa ) house it meant numerous kinds of pithe that Thamma (grandma ) made, at our house Ma had her own signature dishes.
Like the different kinds of soups and salads and mutton roast and her signature Russian salad. I hope to make a post on it this winter. On other days, there would be the Soru chakli pithe with a light potato curry. And the Luchi and ghugni at other times.

But my most favourite breakfast memory is of sitting outside in the lawn with a book, the sun on my back, along with my cousins visiting for the holidays. Ma would make poached eggs with lots of butter and crisp, toasted and buttered bread for breakfast. Along with would be a mug of hot chocolate.
How I loved that breakfast!
How I loved those mornings!

This light, Indianised chicken stew is another of Ma's creations that we loved. It has all the fresh root vegetables that are available in winters. And some fresh green peas too.
And while it does have the masalas like ginger and garlic and some garam masalas, this is not a jhol per se. Which means it goes better with bread than with rice.
But of course, you can try pairing it with some buttered and herbed rice and see how it goes.

The light, soupy gravy is redolent with the flavours of garlic and garam masala, perfect to keep you warm during the cold months of winter.
Works wonders for the months of rains too, as it turns pretty cold here.
Great to soothe the soul if you have a sore throat or the sniffles ... in which case do use big sized
bony pieces ... the juice from the bones are the real medicine.
Extremely warming, comforting with all the goodness and the healing properties of chicken, this stew is perfect to deal with the change in weather.

Need :

Chicken pieces with bones - 500 gms
Curd / Yoghurt - 1 cup
( if you do not have curd, use lemon juice or vinegar )
Black cardamom - 2 pieces
Cloves - 3 pieces
Cinnamon - a small piece
Whole black pepper - ½ tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger paste + garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Fresh vegetables - I used potatoes, carrots, french beans and green peas
Fresh green chillies - 2 pieces
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Cooking oil or Butter - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - enough to make a runny, soupy gravy

How to :

Marinate chicken with the curd ( or lemon juice or vinegar ).
Keep aside for 15 minutes.

 Heat a heavy bottomed pan or a deep wok / kadahi.

Lower heat and add the oil. Heat it well. 

Now add the black cardamom + cloves + cinnamon + whole black pepper + bay leaf.

Now add the chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent.

Next, add the ginger + garlic paste.
Fry on low heat till the raw smell goes away.

Now add the marinated chicken and stir well.

Add the vegetables

You can use tomatoes too ... I do not.

Add salt + sugar + turmeric and the fresh green chillies.

Give a good stir till everything mixes well together.
Add water.

Cover and cook till chicken is tender and well cooked.
Check for consistency of the gravy ... if it is too thin, dry it up by boiling it on high flame without covering.

You can make it in the pressure cooker too. But I prefer to make this on the stove ... slow cooked.

When done, remove cover and give a sprinkle of lemon juice.
And you are good to go.

Pair this with chunky pieces of bread or rotis.
Makes a fulfilling meal .... either lunch or dinner.

And stay warm all!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Mooli ki kadhi with no fry pakodas ... a desi vegetable soup for a desi winter lunch

 Hello! Bonjour!!!

Yes, it is me alright.
You know me, so you can ignore the greetings and be just plain happy, like I am right now, to be back on Kitchen-e-Kichu Khonn again.
And that greetings is my hangover from my recent visit to the Big Apple, via France.
Yes, I am just back from a longish vacation, all rested and raring to cook, eat, click and post again.

I had sincerely wanted to make a post or two initially, but after landing in New York, I was so caught up with the sightseeing and eating out and of course sleeping in, when the weather did not permit ... which was a rare one day, I thought I would give myself a proper break.
That way I could focus on the present .... and what a lovely present it was.

The weather was gorgeous and everybody said that I was lucky winter was arriving late this year.
I caught the fall, the fall colours and fell in love a thousand times in one day.
I walked like I have never walked before, taking in the sights and smells and the people and the highrises.
I ate like I had never ate before.
Even though American cuisine is mostly limited to meat,cheese and deep fried stuff, and a lot of salads too, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of vegetarian things on the menus of almost all restaurants.
Feta cheese and spinach ruled the roost but at least there were vegetarian stuff available.
B said the scenario has changed only recently. Earlier he used to have a tough time surviving here as a vegetarian.

I ate at some very good Indian restaurants too.
And can happily say that the quality as well as the taste and flavours are far better than what we get here in India. The Sarson ka saag and makke ki roti that we had one night, prepared by a Punjabi lady, ( you will get the whole story on Country roads later ) belonged to another level altogether.
Even better than what we had eaten in Amritsar.

And no, this is not a glitzy eyed, impressed desi speaking.
The food quality is really good out there.
Maybe because of the standards set; maybe because of the high price. Whatever the reason, I loved eating Indian food in the US of A.
 You will, of course, get to hear all about my trip soon. On my travel blog.
As soon as I sort out my house, my sleep timings, my eating timings and the thousands of photographs too.
I am still jet lagged and am moving around like a zombie.
After sleeping non stop for two days, I dragged myself to the kitchen and made some Chicken jhol and roti ... just to tempt myself to eat.
Today, I made this super simple kadhi with some vegetables thrown and had it for lunch.
Right now, quick, simple one pot meals or one dish meals are my saviours.

So thought of sharing this with you, along with my come back hello!.
Spicy, tangy and extremely light, this kadhi is perfect to slurp on during the winter. Pair it with steaming hot rice and you have one of the most perfect comfort meals ready.

If you have made my Bhindi ki kadhi, you will know how easy this is to make.
I love pakodas or the lentil dumplings in a kadhi, since they are the classic combination.
But I do not deep fry them.
Instead, I just add the dumplings directly into the boiling kadhi.
Works great.
And healthy too.

Need :

 For the kadhi - you will find the ingredients and step by step photos here 

 Radish or Mooli - cut into thin cubes
Okra or Bhindi - cut into small pieces
Fresh green chilli - 2, broken
Whole coriander seeds - ¼ tsp
Whole methi seeds - ¼ tsp
Hing - ¼ tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch 
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp ( not Kashmiri chilli powder )
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

For the Pakodas -

Besan or Gram flour
Red chilli powder
Crushed black pepper
Jeera or cumin seeds
Turmeric powder

How to :

Prepare the kadhi mix.

Make the pakora mix by mixing everything together.

In a heavy bottom kadahi, heat oil.

Add the coriander seeds, methi seeds and the hing.
Add the green chillies.

Add the bhindi and fry well on high heat.
Add turmeric and fry till it is no longer slimy.

Add the radish and fry well.
Add salt.
Cover and cook for a while.

Remove cover and add the kadhi mixture.
Add a little more water and adjust salt.

Cover and bring to a simmer on low heat.

Remove cover, raise heat and when it starts to boil, make small dumplings from the pakoda mix and drop into the boiling kadhi.

Lower heat , cover and cook for a while.
Do remember to stir in between to help the pakodas to float up.

Cook till the kadhi thickens to desired consistency.

Sprinkle homemade red chilli powder and chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve hot with steaming hot rice.

A healthy, spicy, tangy and soul comforting meal is ready!!
I will leave you today with a first glimpse of the beautiful Fall colours of the USA that greeted me even before I landed there.
Beautiful!! .... na?!

C'ya all again ... soon!!