Monday, 15 October 2012



Yes, this is the TIME OF THE YEAR!!! The festive time ..hoi hullour ( Extreme excitement- may not be the proper translation but I know you will understand my feelings)..the celebrations, the clothes, the food, the ....I can keep adding and I know my bengali friends will love to read them as much as I would love to describe them.

Yes, DURGA MA ki JAI!!! Today is Mahalaya and each one of us have a bundle of deep rooted childhood memories. I would love to engrave such precious memories in my son's life too. Yes, I did play the Mahalaya shloka  in the morning and welcomed all the questions from R, even before he could get up from the bed to do his daily chores before going to school. Yes, tried to answer as much as I could before I stepped out of the house and promised him something special in the evening. 

And it was his wish list Gajar er halwa ( carrot pudding). R's wish list and my top priority of course. My close friends would understand the obvious reasons. OK not a big secret, but R generally is not a big eater, hence he proposing something is like so IMPORTANT for me !! All mums would now go..oh yes, there you go.

Ok I will keep it short today.. I tried a different kind of luchi today - Went for Aloo Puri ..something I used to love when I was a kid..but kind of forgotten this particular dish somehow.

Inspired by Sanjeev Kapoor ( one of my Gurus in this field), I fabricated the recipe and poured the oil can onto the kadai to start pumping my puris. I just cannot stop story telling ..have to share these stories with you my friends..This was when I was a kiddo, and my dad had some Russian colleagues for dinner at our home. Mum fried some Luchis with chicken curry. They were super impressed with the phulko luchis ( nicely puffed up), and their main query was - Where is the hole on the Luchi? How did you pump the air in to balloon it up to this lovely round shape? Yes, thats the secret of Luchi!!

For the Aloo Puris, its just a simple twist to add in Grated boiled Potato and some spices to make it more interesting along with the flour in the dough.

 I just mixed the following-

  • 1 cup Atta ( wholemeal flour)
  • 1 cup Maida ( Plain flour)
  • 2 Boiled potatoes- grated ( make sure it is dry and not watery, otherwise the dough will be too watery and make your life difficult while rolling them)
  • A mixture of spices- Salt, Chat Masala, Cumin Powder, Garam Masala, chilli powder ( all about 1 tsp each )
  • A pinch of Ajwain(Carom Seeds) and Kalo Jeera ( Nigella seeds or Black Cumin)

I added some oil while making the dough and used hot water. Please do not make the dough too soft. The mashed potato will make the dough soft after resting. And then just roll out small Luchis after resting the dough for a while and fry them in hot oil.

You can actually eat them as it is as they have the lovely spices in them. But I served with a mixed vegetable and Halwa to have a complete meal. Also my offerings to the GOD was Luchi and Halwa.

For the CARROT HALWA, I used the traditional and original recipie which has coming over many many years. There are many versions like pressure cooker or microwave versions for today's technic modern lifestyle. But I do trust the authentic ones in these tastes.

So I grated 3 large carrots. For my preparations, I also blanched some almonds and raisins to make them softer which would compliment my carrot texture too. Mind you, the health freak side of me, I added one and half tablespoon of Ghee (clarified butter) to a pan and sauteed the grated carrots for a while. Now what does "for a while" mean, to be more specific, till the colour is a tiny bit darker. Then I added around a cup of milk and cooked the carrots.  I generally warm the milk and add. Made the milk bubble up to give the rich colour to the dish. Now a good twist is adding some Khoya or Kalakand to this dish at this stage to give some body, but unfortunately, this was an unplanned menu today, hence no stock of those lovely sweet compliments. I had some milk powder, and made the most use of it. I threw a generous amount of the milk powder, around 3/4th cup and another 3/4th cup raw sugar to the cooked carrots. Continuous stirring does the magic and the texture starts to come up. I threw in the chopped and blanched almonds and raisins at this stage and finished with cardomon. 

Mahalaya Bhog 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Malay Roasted Chicken


This is a roasted chicken marinated in fresh spices. Very similar ingredients used in Indian cooking, except the diary component- yoghurt.  This goes really well with the Nasi Lemak. It would actually go well with our very own pulao etc. The trick is also to use a very nice juicy tender part of the chicken, so I went ahead and bought the boneless chicken legs. I just went a bit towards more yummy..let the skin cling on to the chicken meat. The logic here I can give..with the experience from cooking the Indian kebabs, even though they are all lean meat ( without the skin), we have yoghurt which acts as the moisturizer to the meat, hence it doesn't end up dry and meaty roasted chicken. But in this case, I don't have my yoghurt buddy, so I listen to the locals here, and let the drape on the chicken meat..The photograph here is obvious of what I mean the crispy yet succulent skin draped on the juicy chicken. YUMMY!!! yes, its just not the words here but it tasted the same.

Not too many ingredients but very simple and straight forward recipe leading to a great compliment to Nasi Lemak. In my recipe, I have used not too much chillies , obvious reason R being the centre of attraction, S and I just add more chillies while can go more friendly towards a more spicy version.

What  I used-

Boneless Chicken Leg- 3 pieces ( wash and clean, leave it whole, do not cut) - it is always advisable to roast a bigger piece and then cut or trim the final product- a tip from a local chef.

Onions- 2

Ginger - 1 inch or a bit more ( as I used more ginger than the original recipe, as I went low on chillies)

Garlic- 6-7 cloves

Lemongrass- 3

Chillies- as much hot as u want

Galangal- 1 inch

Turmeric- 2 tsp

Cumin- 3 tsp

Coriander- 3 tsp

Salt to taste

How I cooked-

1. Blend Onion , Ginger, Garlic, Lemongrass, Galangal, chillies into a crunchy paste. Now this is a weird description I have used here - crunchy paste. What I mean is not a smooth paste but coarse one. It gives a good texture when roasted.

2. Marinate the chicken pieces with the blend and the dry powders and salt. Remember to massage the chicken nicely and let some of the marinade peep underneath the skin too. I marinated the chicken for 12 hours. It can be kept for a day too.

3. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius.

4.Take a baking dish and line a aluminium foil. Season the foil with oil. Place the marinated chicken skin side up. Sprinkle some oil on the chicken and massage it again. This would prevent drying skin.

5. Once you are satisfied with the your tray full of lovely bright yellow chicken..pass on the magic words and put them in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes. Now you need to keep an eye on the chicken, if required, baste some oil in between and go for another 5 minutes may be.

6. Once the chicken is cooked to your liking, take them out and allow to rest. A new term I have been introduced- Carry over cooking- this is very important for a good roast.

7. After resting, now slice the chicken. It could be a bit tricky to gather the everything together as the skin is nice and crispy and would like to come off easily with the knife, but the skill here is to manage to hold the skin with the meat and not leave the chicken meat naked on the plate.

8. Go ahead with your imaginations and plate it with any garnish. We were just too hungry and my boys could not wait to they had been waiting patiently even after being appetized with the Nasi Lemak flavours around the kitchen.

Entry to Malay Cuisine

Nasi Lemak 

This is my first trial with Malay Cuisine and yes it was quite successful and welcomed into my family's dinning table palate. I must mention that there is lot of resemblance with Indian spices. There are lot of new flavoured veggies which I got introduced too, like the Galangal ( called Blue Ginger in Singapore), Pandan Leaves etc. 
This dish Nasi Lemak is a lovely flavoured rice infused with coconut milk mainly and other flavours like Pandan Leaves, Ginger, Galangal, Lemongrass. Though all of them are probably optional and the main ingredient is Coconut milk and the Pandan leaves commercially, but I have used other flavours too. But we need to be careful with our Indian instinct not to overpower with too many flavours and transform the Nasi Lemak to Biriyani or pulao. Also another catch here is the high cholesterol coconut milk ..yes once in a while its ok. traditionally, this is served with fried peanuts, Ikan Bilis(salted fried small fish) and fried egg and of course fried chicken. I have omitted the Ikan Bilis and the fried chicken. Instead I served this with another Malay Chicken dish Ayam Pangaang and also some healthy salad and stir fried veggies. After all I am trying to role model my son R , a right balanced diet. 

Ingredients I used-

Rice- 2 cups ( wash thoroughly)
Coconut Milk- 1 small cartoon
Pandan Leaves - about 5 ( wash them nicely and make a knot as shown in my garnish or even tearing them will do)
Galangal- 1 inch and chopped roughly big chunks
Ginger - crush with the back of a big knife..this will help to marry the juice with the rice while boiling.
Lemongrass Stalk- 2 - crushed again...remember to take out the outer skin.
Cinnamon stick- 1 whole
Nutmeg Powder- 1 tsp (to give the magic fragrant).
Water- 3 and half cup
Fried Peanuts - a handful.
Some sugar and salt to do the Tender Love and Care to the Nasi Lemak, which would go according to your taste.

How I made it-

1. Add water to the washed rice in a pot. Pour the coconut Milk and mix.
2. Throw the knotted Pandan Leaves, smashed ginger, Galangal and Lemongrass and the cinnamon stick.
3. Now add the salt and sugar and sprinkle the nutmeg powder and stir.
4. Now let the rice cook on low fire. Soon the whole house and kitchen will wear the lovely aromas of coconut milk, pandan leaves and lemongrass.

Infusion in process-all the flavours and aroma

5. Just before the rice gets well cooked, uncover the pot and take out the whole herbs and ginger etc. Stir the rice well and let it cook till done.

6. Serve the rice in a pot and garnish with the Pandan leaf and lemongrass stalk.

I fried a egg and served with some cucumber slices, red onion slices, chopped chillies and a swirl of dark soy sauce.

Friday, 5 October 2012

My weekend Breakkie..Pohe

Yes, I think I just should be blogging more frequently than this..took a long break..yes I can use the excuse for joining my new journey of the culinary art skills. But no, honestly, this should be make me pen down or rather type away more regularly. There are so many ideas and cuisines bubbling in the foodie mind of mine, but probably just too many. OK now is the time to bring on to my home kitchen one by one and then straight to the screen for my blog.

But this is not from the ones I am being trained at the school, but a very traditional Maharashtrian snack or breakfast. Actually I should confess I never liked Poha (in Hindi) or Cheerer Pulao ( in Bengali) when I was a kid. But as we all mature and our tongue matures too...Poha became one of my "Yum" dishes and of course the best part is also that it is not very oily or spicy too..(Of course depending on individual taste). I just tend to bend towards the healthier version for the family..having said that, when I was younger, I always thought ..Why don't ma add more oil and spice and just make it like of those roadside eatery's yum dishes...nice and bright colour and the zing too? But again as my hair greys out, I now know why she didn't listen to my logic of adding more and more oil. Any one can make the food tasty and look nice with dripping oil and spices ( mind you the word "Tasty" here is objective again- the grey toned hair ones will be probably on my side and of course with Generation Y, things have changed too with healthy eating habits). It takes lot of patience and infusing TLC on the pan to make the food bright and colourful yet tasty with less oil and spice.

I think I had enough blabbering about healthy for the ones who do not understand the Poha and Cheerer Pulao- this is Flattened Rice ( also called beatened rice) is deshusked rice which is flattened into flat dry rice flakes. If you want to understand more you may read .

Here goes how I made it..

Poha or Cheere- 1 and 1/2 cup 
Boiled Potato- 2 medium ( I boiled it in the microwave ..super fast for my sudden breakfast ideas)
Onion- 1 chopped very fine
Ginger - Young 1 inch- chopped fine- cut juliennes and fine chop
Curry Leaves- a handful ( I just plucked them fresh from balcony garden)
Green chillies- As much as you want , I used chopped chopped.
Hing ( Asaefotida)- a pinch
White Urad dal and mustard seeds mix - 1 tsp for tempering
Sugar- 2 tsp
Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Peanuts- 1/4th cup
Peas- Frozen- 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves - to garnish. ( I did not have any in the fridge)

Pohe with Potato crisps and the sugary watermelon

How I made-

1. Wash the Poha in a bowl and drain it in a colander and squeeze out the water . Let it dry and then add 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and mix with your hand. Make sure all the flakes are seasoned well.

2. Fry the Peanuts brown in oil and keep aside. Be alert, they burn very easily.

3.To the hot oil, add the hing, Mustard and urad daal mix and curry leaves. Let the flavour infuse the oil and the seeds crackle. The kitchen just smell heavenly, I throw in the chillies and ginger.

4. To this fragrant oil with so many flavours zinging together, throw the chopped onion and fry till translucent.

5. Now goes the powdered spices- not too many- just turmeric, chilli, some sugar and salt. Wait for the lovely colour. Keep stirring, remember its not simmering but similar to chinese stir frying.

6. Chop the boiled potaotes into small cubes and add to this. Also add the peas and mix nicely.

7. Now goes the main ingredient - the Poha , now its the time to show your hand skills on the ladle and mix the onion mixture well with the poha flakes and see how beautifully the white dull flakes get the lovely bright colour. Mind you , all this I did with quite a less amount of oil and not too many spice. I am sure everyone can do it too. 

8. Add the fried peanuts and adjust the seasoning if you need to. 

9. Last but not the least , squeeze some fresh lemon juice to bring the tang on to taste. Sprinkle the fresh chopped coriander and serve on a light coloured plate to highlight the bright colour. 

10. I like to have some potato crisps, or we bongs say Jhuri bhaja on the top , to give that crunchy. Of course the peanuts make it quite crunchy too.

11. And yes, passed my son's tasting buds too. 

P.S. You can go more on the veggies like carrots, but as much of veggies you use, the traditional poha concept will transform to the Upma concept. So I would suggest try to keep it as basic to preserve the authenticity.