Thursday, October 11, 2012

Murgi-r Jhol - Bengali Chicken Curry

With all the hubbub of going home in 2 days it was impossible to make something impressive & post it too. I thought of making the evergreen ‘Murgi-r Jhol’ (Bengali Chicken Curry) which will survive us for the next 2 days in a jiffy; but with all the pending packing and 9 hours of slogging daily at work, taking out the DSLR and clicking delectable pictures of the process seemed unattainable. I resorted to the phone camera and clicked only the final dish.

As mentioned earlier, I made this in a jiffy, literally. My ‘Sheila Mausi’ came in the morning and sliced up the Onions, Tomatoes, Green Chillies & left it in the Refrigerator. I went home, marinated the Chicken for 30 minutes, blended the Tomatoes, Onions and Green Chillies, grated the Ginger & Garlic, cut some medium Potatoes into halves and fried them & finally Pressure Cooked all this with the required Spices. The result is here.

‘A’ (Hubby) finished his plate of ‘Murgi-r Jhol’ with some plain white Rice & said it was splendid; I told him, “I will put this up on the blog, make it whenever I am not home & you are hungry”.

Here is what you will need to make Murgi-r Jhol:

For the Marinade:

Chicken – 750 gms cut into medium pieces
Curd – 2 tsp
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp (I grated the Ginger)
Garlic paste – 1 tbsp (I grated this too)
Onion – 1 small or half of a medium – I grated this into the Chicken
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Mustard Oil – 1 tsp
Mix all this together and let them sit for 20 minutes. As I said, I was running out of time. You can easily keep this for 1 hour, the longer the better.

Other Ingredients for the Curry:

Mustard Oil – 2 tbsp
Bay Leaves – 2
Whole Dry Red Chillies – 2 – broken from the centre
Cinnamon – 1” stick
Green Cardamoms – 4
Black Cardamoms – 2
Cloves - 5
Onions – 3 medium, made into a paste in the blender
Tomatoes – 2 small, puréed
Green Chillies – 4-5 – I blended these with the Onions and added
Potatoes – 3 – halved and tossed around in some Mustard Oil for a few minutes
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder – ½ tsp
Handful of Coriander leaves for garnishing
Sugar – 1 tsp
Salt to taste


·         In some Mustard Oil,  toss the halved Potatoes around for a few minutes and keep. I do not prefer to put them in raw
·         Heat Mustard Oil in a Pressure Cooker
·         Add the Bay Leaves, Dry Red Chillies, Cinnamon, Green and Black Cardamoms, Cloves and let them sizzle for a minute
·         Add 1 tsp of Sugar
·         Add the Onion and Green Chilli paste – wait till the color changes to a mild golden
·         Add the puréed Tomatoes, cook for a few more minutes
·         Add the dry spices in now, Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder, Red Chilli Powder & Garam Masala Powder and cook till the spices are cooked through
·         Add the marinated Chicken pieces into this, DO NOT add the marinade; keep it for adding later
·         Add the fried Potato halves
·         Cook for a few minutes and see the texture of the Chicken pieces changing
·         Add Salt to taste
·         Add 3/4th cup of water to the remaining marinade, mix and add to the Chicken
·         Close the lid of the Pressure Cooker, set the flame to high and let it whistle 5 times.
·         Let the pressure go down on its own
·         Open the lid and pour it out into a serving bowl
·         Garnish with some chopped Coriander leaves
·         Eat with plain white Rice

You enjoy your ‘Murgi-r Jhol’ while I finish my packing & head home! It is Durga Pujo folks !!

This picture was taken at 'Nabapalli Sangha', Tollygunge Circular Road, Kolkata last year, 2011. 

& my Calcutta is calling me :D

Will be back on the day of Laxmi Pujo, 29th

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

French Toast

According to me, the best breakfast combination in the world is good Bread and some Eggs. Sometimes I scramble the Eggs, sometimes I make an Omelette, sometimes make boiled Eggs & sometimes make French Toast. French Toast is Bread dipped in beaten Eggs & then fried. Many people top it with Cheese, Butter, Syrup, Mayonnaise, Ketchup etc. I have always had Mom-made French toasts where she sliced Onions thinly and chopped some Green Chillies and added to the Egg, then beat it and she dipped the Bread pieces in this mix and fried them, the result was always a finger-licking-good breakfast or even snack.  

There are some days where I have the energy of a Blue Whale and make Biryani and Rezala from scratch and sometimes that of a Turtle, when I do not feel like even slicing Onions. Not to forget the morning rush before going to work. On these days I make the simplest of French Toast I have discovered. I even skip the sliced Onions and Green Chillies; nevertheless, this still tastes very good and we both love it. This can easily be called French Toast for Dummies. Hubby took some to work for Lunch today and said even his Colleagues enjoyed them. Hence I decided to post the recipe for this simple French Toast that I make pretty often.

What you need:

Eggs : 4
Bread slices : 5, cut diagonally = 10 pieces
Red Chilli Powder : ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Cooking Oil


·         Break the Eggs and beat them with Salt and Red Chilli Powder.
·         Cut the regular Bread sliced diagonally into halves.
·         Heat Oil in a Pan.
·         Dip the Bread pieces into this Egg mixture and drop them into hot Oil.
·         It should take about 90 seconds on each side and they should be done.
·         Serve with Ketchup or any dip of your choice.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bihari Aloo Chokha - Mashed Potatoes - The Indian Way

Dadu’ (My Maternal Grand Father) always tells my Mother, “Tor Chhele taa Ohomiya aar Meye taa Bihari” (Your Son is an Assamese & Daughter is a Bihari). The reason being my Father had what they call a ‘transferable job’ & travelled across the Country & we followed. My Brother’s babyhood was spent in Guwahati, Assam & mine in Patna, Bihar.

On the other side, the Bihari in me fell for a greater Bihari from Asansol (on the Bengal-Bihar border), who speaks 'Bhanga Bhanga Bangla' (broken Bengali) & has a very good influence of Bihar in him (including a stockpile of the filthiest Bhojpuri numbers: P). Hence, our Bihari-ness continues.

Aloo Chokha, the recipe I am going to share today is essentially a Bihari recipe of Mashed Potatoes with fried Onions & Chillies, spices and a generous dash of Mustard Oil. My Father always says when Aloo Chokha is served to him, “eta diye du thala bhaat khawa jaaye” (I can eat 2 platefuls of Rice with this).

Here is what you will need to make the simplest Aloo Chokha:

Potatoes – 4 medium sized – boiled and peeled
Onion – 1 medium – chopped
Green Chillies – 2 – chopped
Whole Dry Red Chillies – 2
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – ½ tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Ginger – ½ “– grated
Garlic - 2 medium cloves – grated
Mustard Oil – 2 tbsps
Salt to taste

Here is the method to make it:

·         Cut Potatoes into quarters and boil them.
·         Once boiled, peel them and mash with Salt and keep.

·         Heat Mustard Oil in a Pan.
·         Add Whole Dry Red Chillies and let them sizzle.

·         Add the chopped Onions and Green Chillies and sauté them till transparent.

·         Add the dry spices, Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder & Red Chilli Powder & fry till the dry spices are cooked.

·         Add the mashed Potatoes & mix thoroughly.

·         Plate it with a couple of Green Chillies, broken n sautéed in a few drops of Mustard Oil under a minute.

Best eaten with a plate full of Rice with Clarified Butter / Ghee.

My Mystery Prawns & the Gangnam Dance ;)

It was Sunday, 7th Oct 2012, - ICC World Twenty20 Finals West Indies v/s Sri Lanka. I thanked God that India did not qualify; as I, for the first time was able to support the Jamaican wholeheartedly. I mean, the Icon, Christopher Henry Gayle. I completely adore him. I was mad when he was dropped from the West Indian side and he was not the Skipper any more & am super happy now that he is back, with a bang!

Remember this? My heart broke seeing him amongst the spectators and not in the ground. But just look at him, remarkable spirit !!

Loved every bit of the Semi-Finals before this v/s Australia where Pollard & Gayle sent the Aussies back home on the next flight. Was all keyed up about the grand finale on Sunday, was back home on time and turned on the Television. I still shudder to think what I was seeing, a much talked about West Indian side was being crushed by the Lankan bowling attack; there was no Gayle storm, there was no Pollard either. However, Marlon Samuels with his 78 off 56 balls let the Caribbean’s breathe again. Then it was Sri Lanka out to bat and Sunil Narine, the blessing in disguise had a mind-blowing spell of 3/9. After a lot of speculation and confusion, the pendulum (read : the Cup) swinging from Sri Lanka to West Indies & vice versa every now and then; after a little bit of drizzle that puzzled the players and spectators all the more of the unfathomable Duckworth-Lewis, ultimately it was West Indies. I cannot express how happy I was seeing the entire team do the Gangnam dance!! It is indeed true, no one can celebrate like them.

Another loss in the Finals for Sri Lanka, my heart goes out to Sangakkara. Nevertheless, super happy for West Indies.

Amidst all this hullabaloo, I had to make dinner for the two of us & almost forgot about the Prawns sitting on my Kitchen table. No particular recipe in mind. I was not in the mood to make anything else either, only plain white Rice. Hence threw whatever I had in my stockpile in, combined a few sauces & the result was excellent. We enjoyed a sumptuous dinner as the T20 World Cup came to a close and the Player of the tournament went to Shane Watson. I hate it when such an important recognition is given only based on Stats, huh! In my eyes, it is you ... Gayle!!

Had to give this preparation a name, hence after some random thoughts, decided to name it Mystery Prawns, after the Mystery Bowler, Sunil Narine. After all the win would have been impossible without him on the D Day. I wish him all the very best for the upcoming Champions League where he represents my City, Calcutta. Go KKR!

Here is what you will need to make my Mystery Prawns

Prawns – medium sized – cleaned and de-veined – 400 gms. Tails on or off is up to you to decide. I did not have them on.

Onion – 1 medium, cut out in small petals like shown in the picture.
Dried Red Chilli – 2 - chopped
Green Bell Pepper – 1 medium – thinly sliced
Tomato – 1 medium – deseeded – thinly sliced
Garlic – 8 small to medium cloves – grated or minced
Butter (I used Salted) – 1 tsp
Olive Oil – 1 tsp
Chilli Oil – 1 tsp
Red Chilli Sauce – 1 tsp
Green Chilli Sauce – 1 tsp
Dark Soy Sauce – ½ tsp
Salt to taste (I did not use any as I uses salted Butter + all the sauces had some amount of Salt in them)
Pepper to taste
Egg - 1 - scrambled - (optional) - for Plating

How to make Mystery Prawns

·         Heat Butter, Olive Oil & Chilli Oil in a Wok.
·         Add the grated garlic, sauté till fragrant.

·         Add the Onion petals & the chopped dried Red Chillies, keep sautéing. Keep the heat on medium high to high depending on your stove. Do not burn them but the heat needs to be pretty high.

·         After about 2-3 minutes, add the sliced Tomatoes and the sliced Green Bell Peppers.

·         Keep stirring for another minute or two.
·         Add the Red Chilli Sauce, Green Chilli Sauce and the Dark Soy Sauce and keep stirring.

·         After a couple of minutes, add the washed and de-veined Prawns.

·         Keep stirring, the Prawns will take a maximum of 4 minutes to cook on high. Turn off the stove after a taste test & checking if the Prawns have turned a nice pink.

·         I plated it with some Chilli Flakes.

·         Later I also scrambled an Egg and added. Yes, I know I am mad! Nevertheless, it tasted delicious with fragrant Basmati Rice. Hence ‘hail madness!’ :D 

Shami Kebabs

All thanks to the Mughal Dynasty’s colonization in India, along with them also migrated Mughal cuisine & their various types of Kebabs. Amongst the n number of Kebabs one is Shami Kebabs which is minced meat (Mutton or Beef) with ground Chickpeas (Bengal Gram) & other spices made into small patties & shallow fried. So Shami Kebabs is what I will be sharing today. I pretty much made it like PreeOccupied and referred to this. However, I did change the measurements a little & added a couple of ingredients too and here is what I exactly did.

Here is what you will need:

The recipe I am sharing makes about 30 medium Shami Kebabs

Minced Meat – 400 gms (I used Goat, Beef or Lamb can be used too)
Garlic cloves – 6
Bengal Gram / Chana Dal – 100 gms
Whole Black Peppercorns – 10
Black Cardamoms – 4
Cinnamon – 1” long piece (broken)

·         In a Pressure Cooker add all the above ingredients with enough water and cook for 5 whistles.

·         Let the pressure go down on its own.
·         Drain in a Colander and let it rest for sometime so that all the water is drained out.
·         Once done grind this mixture in a blender in parts. It should be a coarse mixture. Make sure the Chana Dal is well blended.
·         Once done put all the mixture in a large bowl and add the following

Onion – 1 medium, chopped fine
Green Chillies – 5-6, chopped fine
Handful of Coriander leaves – chopped fine
Garlic Cloves – 6 – grated
Ginger – 2” – grated
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Eggs – 2
Red Chilli Powder -   1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sattu : 4 tbsp (Optional, however, if possible do add)

·         Mix well using your hands.
·         Make small Patty out of these as shown in the picture and flatten them out and keep.

·         Heat Cooking Oil in a Pan to smoking
·         Slide the Kebabs in. Once one side is done, turn and fry the other side.

·         It takes about 3 minutes on each side as Pree says on high heat.

·         Once fried, take them out and drain them on Paper towels.

·         Serve with Salad and Coriander Chutney.

The Quintessential Bengali 'Begun Bhaja' - Fried Eggplant / Aubergine

The quintessential Bengali ‘Begun Bhaja’ is extremely easy to make and a Bengali’s favorite to be eaten with Luchi / Puri  or Ruti / Roti. My personal favorite is with Ruti. Though it is an effortless, trouble-free & easy thing to make, it is not very popular amongst Non-Bongs. I have heard many of my Marwari friends say, “Oh, I love the Bengali Begun Bhaja that you make with Khichudi”. This is so simple that I shouldn’t call it a recipe. It is just fried Egg Plant after all.
Here is what you need:
Eggplant – 1 medium, cut into rounds, you can also make halves of the rounds. I         like the round ones more.
Salt – to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Mustard Oil – 4 tsp / use any other cooking Oil if you do not prefer Mustard (Mustard is recommended though)

How to make the Bengali Begun Bhaja:

·         Cut the Eggplant into rounds.

·         Smear Salt & Turmeric Powder on them and keep aside for 10 minutes.

·         Heat Oil in an Indian Wok till smoking.
·         Sprinkle some Salt in the hot Oil.
·         Slide the Eggplant pieces in.

·         Once the color is like that is shown in the picture, turn and fry the other side. I generally poke it very lightly with my Turner to see if it is cooked. Refer to the small punctures on the Eggplant pieces on my picture.

·         Once done, drain on Paper towels as Eggplant absorb too much Oil.
·         Serve with Ruti / Luchi / Khichudi or whatever you like. I fried some broken Green Chillies in the same Oil and added it for plating.