Monday, June 30, 2014

Mashed Fish salad

Mashed Fish salad 

I dedicate this recipe to my friend Surupa. Strange thing is you never know when you meet a beautiful human being.  This dear lady is someone who has encouraged me ever since I became an active member of a culinary group and to be fair there was something in the way she would write her sentences which made me look forward to her encouragement. After a while we quite obviously became friends and that is when I actually was glad to know someone as elegant as this lady. From the few photographs of hers I did see she was a lady who was gorgeously beautiful but behind that beautiful face and amazingly volumnious hair there is a witty, charming , compassionate person and one who sees beauty. I didn't ever tell her but those posts of Claude Monet's work always puts a smile on my face. So she posts a few pictures of some gorgeous dishes she has had from a newly opened cafe this morning and just by looking at them I suddenly was struck with my idea for lunch .

I knew it had to be something creamy and fishy but the only fish I had was the humble 'Pona' a fresh water fish with tiny needle like bones all over. I have always hated this fish with a passion because it neither has that exotic taste of some varieties of fish we get in this Eastern part of the country such as 'Tangra' 'Parshe' 'Gule' etc nor is it boneless but I suddenly knew what I wanted so begun the hanging, the chopping, the pounding, the boiling the mashing and I must say the result was quite nice. And the best part is it is 100% healthy and completely low calorie in nature.

So here is what you need for 2 servings :-

150gm to 200gm fish with bones or boneless
6 to 7 garlic cloves
 1 inch ginger
4 green chilies
1 large tomato and 1 small tomato
1 medium sized potato
1 onion
Chives 1 tsp
1 tsp xtra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp vinegar (any kind will do , I used Apple cider vinegar)
Juice of lemon (About 2 tsp)
200gm curd hung
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Hand the curd in a muslin cloth. Boil the potato. Cool it down and dice it in small pieces. Dice the tomatoes and onion and then chill them  .

Meanwhile skin the garlic and ginger and make a smooth paste of ginger garlic and green chilies and then boil the fish with as little water as possible along with the ginger garlic paste and 1 tsp vinegar . Boil the fish till all the water evaporates and the ginger garlic and chili stick to the fish . Now spread it out , discard the fat and mash it well with a fork and when cool enough to handle pick out the bones carefully. It will take a bit of time owing to the fine bones . Once the bones are taken out chill this as well. before serving simply add a squeeze of lemon juice to the fish and mash again and add it to the diced salad  and add salt, freshly ground pepper, extra virgin olive oil , chives and the hung curd and mix well and serve. It does taste quite nice.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Guilt Free mango Dessert

Guilt free Mango dessert

There are times when you simply want to have a sweet delight and if you have chosen a healthy track for sometime there is no need to worry. This all natural and healthy dessert is delicious and so healthy that you can enjoy it without throwing caution to the wind . And if you are worried about the dates know that each date contains a mere 23 calorie 

70gm plain chilled curd whipped well
1 mango pureed
1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp Charmagaaz
6 almonds not skinned
10 raisins and 3 pitted dates soaked in 4 tbsp toned milk and pureed

Its simple just soak the dates and raisins in milk for 1 hour and puree them to a smooth paste and then keep it aside, puree mangoes in the same blender and then whip chilled curd . Now simply layer the whipped curd, date paste and mango and chill for 2 hours or more. Before serving simply take the almonds, charmagaz and sesame seeds and toast them on a girdle and drizzle with the honey and top the layered dessert with this. Dig away Guilt free

No Oil East Meets West Chicken Stew

No Oil East Meets West Chicken Stew 

This is my no oil week well to be more precise its a no fry no saute  week so when I wanted to have this chicken stew I remembered a chicken stew my father had made a few weeks ago which was scrumptious and which used no garlic ginger or any spice whatsoever and no oil as well but that turmeric chicken oil and I am guessing tomatoes, he did not give me the recipe :) Well when you decide to follow a healthy diet , know this that you have to be very smart. So you hear everyone around you saying , 'Rice is evil it fattens you up' well that bit is not true. Like any other food if taken in large quantities it is but a single serving of cooked rice which equals to 1 cup contains about 242 calories and lets say you have a big bowl of soup and you cut down your rice intake to 1/2  a cup of cooked rice then you only have 121 calories.

While preparing the stew I realized this has a very nice East meets West connection. So there is turmeric, chopped chilies , ginger , raw papaya from the East and then there is Chives, White wine vinegar from the West and then there are some ingredients which are global be it the chicken itself, cabbage , garlic . This can be enjoyed with both rice and bread or even chapatis

This is kind of perfect for the Indian summers when the heat becomes unbearable. Its light and easy on the stomach yet very nutritious

So anyway this stew is hearty and delicious and is extremely healthy

What you need for 4 servings :-

300gm skinless chicken with bone
3 to 4 small onions
2 cups of diced papaya (You can replace it with carrots and beans or a combination of papaya , carrots , beans and other vegetables)
2 cups of shredded cabbage
6 cups of water
Salt as per taste
1 tsp chives
1.5 tsp White wine vinegar
2 tsp finely chopped green chilies (you can increase of decrease the amount of green chilies as per your taste buds)
Paste made from 3 large cloves of garlic and 1 inch ginger
Pinch of turmeric

The recipe is the simplest one ever. Just boil everything together and then simmer for 20 minutes or so and its ready.

P.S. You can always make the stew more wholesome by adding wholewheat noodles or rice noodles

If you want it to be extra hot you can always make a paste of the garlic ginger and chilies together.

You can always add 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil when serving because Extra Virgin Olive Oil is healthy and it adds a wonderful flavour

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Low Calorie Red Kidney Bean dip

Low Calorie Red Kidney Bean dip 

There are times when you thank the Creator for giving you so many culinary options. You want to not fry have low calorie healthy food well its all out there all you need to do is try a little bit.

I often read articles on healthy dip. You see I love snacking especially when reading a book or watching a movie and these two hobbies take up all my free time so when I went on a low calorie healthy diet it was difficult to snack. There is always that apple you can munch on or the almonds but I am sure many of you would relate to that want to dip something in a delicious dip for complete satisfaction.

I remembered having seen Red Kidney Bean dip as a healthy dip. I checked again and that is where it posed a problem. I live in Calcutta in India and Avocado is not one of the local fruits you get here and my principle is to go as local as possible - saves money and its readily available. So I created a very basic recipe and well I would say I am all happy because I did not really create a scientific machine. I just used the usual basic ingredients but in a very healthy way.

Before I give the recipe I have to say that 1 serving of kidney beans equals to half a cup of cooked beans and that has 86 calories even when cooked with salt. I added tomatoes and onions and so that makes it a low calorie dip.

So here you go with the recipe :-

1 small cup (which holds 200ml liquid) of dry red kidney beans soaked overnight
3 cups of water
Salt as per taste
2 to 3 medium sized tomatoes
3 medium sized onions
4 cloves of garlic (the big cloves ) else use  use 6 to 7 cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or as hot as you want it to be
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Simply soak the kidney beans overnight. Now cook them in a pressure cooker to save fuel  and quickening the process . Put the pressure cooker on low heat and let the whistle build up very slowly. This makes sure you cook it well without wasting fuel . Now peel chop drizzle olive oil and bake the tomatoes, onion and garlic at 220 C preheated oven for 60 minutes.

Once the bans are well cooked spread them out to cool them and then once you have baked the vegetables simply cool everything add them to the blender with the kidney beans, oregano, salt , cayenne pepper and blend away . Add 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil and the squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy 1/2 cup of this deliciousness without feeling guilty. 1/2 cup = 1 serving = approximately 116 calorie. Serve it with baked tortillas or baked papads (dried lentil discs) or if you have stale chapati dry roast it till its crisp and it makes for a healthy snack.

P.S. I have to mention a very special lady who runs this beautiful blog which gives you plenty of ideas on healthy food. Do check her blog Simply Vegetarian

Friday, June 27, 2014

Egg Potato Salad

Egg Potato Salad 

The best part about being part of some amazing virtual platforms is that you can never run out of inspiration when it comes to recipes . So Claudia , a wonderful chef posted about this boiled potato based Italian salad and I knew it had to be my lunch today. Its really simple and well I did adapt the recipe, so I substituted capers with stuffed olives and replaced the herbs with what I had at home  but the end result was delicious indeed.

Now potatoes are highly misunderstood. You see they are widely known as the reason for obesity but wake up and see the truth people. Its not the potato that is unhealthy but the method of cooking. So fry it and you pile on the pounds roast it or boil and you have a perfectly healthy food item. Of course it is a source of carbohydrate so ideally if you are taking potatoes you need not worry about extra intake of bread or rice or pasta etc 1 medium sized boiled potato contains about 211 calories. I used two small sized potatoes but they were not baby potatoes

So here goes a healthy salad which serves 1

2 small sized potatoes boiled and chilled
1 medium sized tomato
1 small sized onion
5 to 6 stuffed olives halved
1 tsp fresh onion green chopped finely
1 hard boiled egg cooled sliced and chilled
Sprinkle of paprika - I used 1/4th tsp you can use 1/2 tsp as well
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp chives - I used dried ones
Fat pinch of oregano
Salt as per required

Simply slice them in circular patterns and chill but do not mix the salt, balsamic vinegar and oil from before. Before serving toss the chilled salad with the Extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle salt and serve. You have a healthy meal ready to be enjoyed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rubi's Grill - A promising new menu

Rubi's Grill - A promising new menu

Here is good news for people. There was once a time when the area around Calcutta's Park Street was the hub of Western cuisine. Well things have changed and today no matter where you are in this City of Joy delightful Western cuisine is at your well not fingertips but menu.

I was invited to attend the relaunch of Rubi's Grill located at Dover Lane. Now its a tiny little place with a menu which looks good enough to woo you.

Amid the laughter, clicking etc I was delighted with their Mozzarella sticks which were cheesy inside with a delightful coating. The Buffalo wings are a perfect accompaniment to chit chatting and with an energetic chef an impressive menu this tiny little place does indeed seem very promising.

Please note that I have not tasted any other dish from this promising joint and so I cannot recommend the dishes  but your culinary journey is mostly all about exploring new places. Here is a look at their Impressive spread, courtesy Zomato 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Coffee Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Coffee Chocolate Chiffon Cake 

Sometimes one has crazy needs. Lets take my last 1 month. I was overworked and tired and somehow craved chocolates at all hours. So after a simple chocolate gateau I wanted to make a cake with whatever ingredients there was at home and as it turns out it meant, I had coffee, chocolate, refined oil and flour. And I challenged myself to make a cake where I do not go out to buy any new ingredient.

Now I did read about this one cake where you use oil instead of butter and it is neither a batter cake nor a foam cake but somewhere in-between. So with a holiday to enjoy, 10 hours of work this is what was in store.

Now to be honest after having made it I would not really recommend this with my whole heart because I would rather recommend a foam cake but then again this can be made as a good option for layered cakes.

So here is what I made , a coffee chiffon layered cake with ganache frosting

Recipe adapted from SmittenKitchen

Serves 6

1/4th cup oil
6 eggs separated
6 tbsp strongly brewed coffee
170gm all purpose flour sifted
200gm castor sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Lemon juice

For the coffee syrup

1 cup of strongly brewed coffee
1 cup sugar

For the ganache

125gm chocolate
200ml cream

Prepare a 6 inch to 7 inch baking pan by buttering it and using flour all over the buttered pan.

Start by sifting the all purpose flour and baking powder together. Now separate the eggs and beat the egg whites after adding the lemon juice till it forms stiff peaks.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Now sift the flour and baking powder for a second time and whisk the egg yolks with sugar till you form a ribbon like consistency and add the coffee and beat well and then slowly add the oil and fold in the flour. lastly fold in the egg whites and bake at preheated oven at 180 C for 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

Once baked let the cakes cool down completely. While the cake is cooling down make your coffee syrup by boiling the coffee and sugar till it forms a thin syrup. Let it cool down completely. For the ganache simply chop the chocolate as finely as possible and then heat the cream on a double boiler and then add chopped chocolate and mix well till it forms a silky smooth consistency.

 Once the cake has cooled down completely cut them in half so that you have flour tyres. Now use a brush to soak each tyre of cake with coffee syrup and be generous with the syrup. Spread the ganache and then use it to cover the entire cake.

Enjoy it after chilling it well.


  1. The Lemon juice added to egg whites makes sure that the stiff peaks do not collapse once you have whisked the egg whites to stiff peaks 
  2. Once you have heated the cream on double boiler and added the chopped chocolates keep stirring and if you find a few lumps put the bowl on the double boiler and it will yield the smooth consistency you are looking for, 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Aloor Dom (bengali Dum Aloo)

Aloor Dom (Bengali Dum Aloo) 

The truth is the same dish is prepared in a number of ways across this vast country called. India. Take the simple Dum Aloo. A dry potato gravy which is served across North India. Now Bengal is in the East of India but when The Nawab of Awadh relocated to our lovely state he brought along with him the delightful cuisine that is Awadhi cuisine and so the influence of North India can be seen in many of the dishes from this Lush green state yet it has its own distinct taste. For one, our dishes are much more subtle . Now to be fair even among families in Bengal there are different recipes followed for a dish . So while my paternal Grandmother puts in curry leaves , my Mimi (the perfect culinary wizardess) from whom I learnt msot of my Bengali dishes keeps it rather traditional using her mother's recipe.

Now Mimi herself is a young 65 year old and this recipe handed down from her mother would definitely make it a heritage one. Taste as we all know is subjective. So for some this might seem too subtle while some would find it delightful. I myself quite obviously love it enough to make it my one and only Bengali Aloor Dom. What gives this its distinct taste is the absence of onions and garlic.

Serves 3 to 4

6 medium sized Potatoes halved

The wet spices

Ginger chili cumin paste (made with 5 green chilies , 1 inch ginger and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds)
5 tbsp Tomato paste (I required 1 large tomato)
1/4th cup whisked curd

The dry spices

Pinch of asafoetida aka hing
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green cardamom given a light pounding
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
Salt as per taste
Pinch of turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
1 cup water (200ml)

1/4th cup mustard oil for frying the potatoes
2 tbsp ghee

For garnishing

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
2 slit green chilies

Start by making the green chili ginger cumin paste, then make your tomato paste and parboil the potatoes with their skin on. Once cool enough to handle peel them and heat the mustard oil and fry the potatoes on medium heat till they turn a lovely golden colour but do not brown them. Drain them and keep aside. You will be left with the mustard oil which you can use for other dishes. Now heat the ghee and add the asafoetida and then add the cumin seeds and when they splutter immediately add the ginger green chili cumin paste and saute for 2 minutes and add the tomato paste and saute till the oil separates and add the whisked curd and keep stirring on high heat. This constant stirring prevents the curd from splitting. Now add the water and bring to a boil stirring constantly and then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes and add the potatoes and bring to a boil again and then simmer for another 10 minutes to 15 minutes till you get a thick gravy. Now many people like ti completely dry but since we usually pair Aloor Dom with Luchi ( a special fried puffed up flatbread from Bengal)  , it helps to have a bit of gravy to dip the puffed up fried poori in. And then again taste is subjective. So do what would best suit you. Garnish and serve


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dum Biryani

Dum Biryani 

 Biryani is a cousin of the middle eastern Pilaf and the variety of Biryani which is available across South Asia (India , Pakistan and Bangladesh) is sure to amaze any culinary enthusiast. If you have grown up with a particular type of Biryani you will always have that funny little story when you tasted the other variety. So I grew up in Calcutta, the City of Joy, the City of Culture but also the city where the Nawab of Awadh had settled at one point of time bringing with him the glorious cuisine of Awadh. While there had to be certain economic changes made in the kitchen with the Nawab's glorious days behind him the basic of the recipe remains the same and so I grew up knowing the Calcuttan Biryani which is very similar to the Awadhi Biryani except that it has the additional potatoes and in some cases you can even add eggs but then again I was never really that fond of Biryani from the eateries in Calcutta because of the high amount of ittar and kewra water and oil . Well originally it is supposed to be ghee all the way but one of the reasons why Biryani is very famous in Calcutta is its affordable price and as we all know 'you can't eat your cake and have it too'. Nevertheless it was not until I had the tasted the Lucknowi Biryani available in only one eatery of Calcutta that I fell in love with Biryani all over again. Well I say all over again because while I was growing up I might not have liked the Biryani from eateries but that was only because come every Sunday and my father would make Biryani at home. It was of course not oily and had the balanced proportion of flavoured water which suited my taste buds and this Lucknowi Biryani brought back strong memories.

Now I am particularly fond of Awadhi cuisine but getting hold of recipes from Awadhi cuisine can prove to be quite difficult. While a few are found all over the place one should understand that more that the ingredients its the numerous methods of cooking that makes this cuisine so exquisite.

Well anyway going back to that time when I had Biryani from Bombay I was well completely taken aback and to be fair very disappointed . You see Biryani from Bombay has its own distinct taste which is completely different from your Awadhi Biryani with a curry like taste and it took me a while to appreciate it.

Anyway one fine day I decided to make Dum Pakki Biryani. Dum is a method of cooking on slow fire and the method I used for cooking was Dum Pukht where a curtain of dough seals the container and the food gets cooked in the steam. Now Biryani can not only be distinguished on the basis of the region it is from but also on whether it is made in the Pakki style or Kachchi style. While for the Kachchi style the meat is marinated and cooked together with the rice . The Pakki style Biryani cooks the rice and meat to an almost done state and then cooks them together.

Now here is the problem with 'authentic style' and why I am not calling my Biryani the Awadhi Biryani. I have never been to Lucknow and as I have said before there are not too many sources which gives you the recipe for Awadhi food and so I consulted two articles from the Times of India, recipes from two blogs and as much information as I could gather to make it as close to the original one as I can and here is why. While blogs are a great source for recipes some blogs are misleading. So I liked this blog very much and the blog talked a lot about certain details of what makes Awadhi Biryani so special and all the points to be kept in mind and then there are certain ingredients used which I immediately know makes it not  quite Awadhi and so I consult another blog and the article from The Times of India  and this is what I gather.

  1. The distinct flavour of the Biryani is imparted by cooking the rice in the 'Yakhni' or the meat stock
  2. The spices used are always kept whole and not ground.
  3. The rice grains are fluffy and the sign of a good Biryani is the grains remaining separate
  4. No oil of any kind should be used. Its cooked all the way in the mutton fat and ghee.       
  5. The quality of the Biryani will greatly depend on the quality of mutton. In India goat meat is also categorized under mutton and for this it is always goat meat that is used. 

Anyway  coming back to the recipe this one can easily feed 3 to 4
What you need :- 

500gm   of good quality meat with bones
2 cups of Basmati rice (cups which can hold 250ml of water) / Approximately 360gm of rice 

For the Yakhni 

7 cups of water (cups which hold 250ml of liquid)
1 black cardamom
5 green cardamom
5 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
4 blades of Mace
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp Shah Jeera
3/4th tsp black peppercorn
Salt as per taste (I required 1 heaped tsp)

To sear the meat

4 tbsp ghee
4 tbsp whisked curd
4 tbsp whole milk
1 black cardamom
3 green cardamom
4 to 5 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
2 blades of mace
1/4th tsp Nutmeg
Salt as per taste (I required 1/2 tsp)
Pinch of turmeric
20 black peppercorn
1 tsp chili powder

For layering

2 pinches of saffron soaked in 8 tbsp water
2 tsp rose water
7 tsp ghee

For the Birista (Optional) Usually not a part of the Awadhi Biryani
Birista means golden fried onions . If you desire to use it
Take 2 medium sized onions and chop them as finely as possible
50gm ghee for frying

For the seal to cover the mouth of your pot . Now this will largely depend on how big the mouth of the pot is :-

I needed 2 cups of flour
1 cup of water

Once the seal was opened 

Start by soaking the rice and then go no to make the Yakhni . Put all the spices for the yakhni in a muslin cloth and tie it up. Place everything together and bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for 1.5 hours. Take out the pieces of meat after 20 minutes when its done to a 3/4th stage.

After 1.5 hours start by searing the mat. Heat the ghee and add the meat and saute on high heat for 1 minute and add the spices and reduce to low heat and add whisked curd and milk and keep stirring till you get a dry consistency.

Bring 4 cups of broth to a boil and gently add the rice. Be careful because Basmati rice is very delicate and the soaking will make it more vulnerable to breaking. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and cover and cook for 3 minutes to 5 minutes till its 70% done. It should be soft yet not soft enough to eat. Once done drain the rice and spread it out if possible and leave it under the fan for 5 minutes.

Now for the final Dum take your pot and grease it with ghee. I needed about 2 tsp and then add a layer of rice and some meat and 2 tsp ghee , 1/2 tsp rosewater and some soaked saffron. Add another layer of rice and meat and repeat it with the ghee , rosewater and soaked saffron. And a third layer of rice and meat and then roll out the dough and seal the pot and place it over the lowest possible flame with a lid on top of the rolled out dough and a heavy object on top. I used a stone mortar and pestle and leave it to get Dum Pukht for the next 20 minutes to 30 minutes and switch off the gas stove.

She or  he who shall peel off that layer of dough once done will be hot with a delicious aroma which is intoxicating indeed. Serve with raita.

P.S. In case you want to use the Birista fry the onions on low heat till its golden brown and use it for layering but traditional Awadhi Biryani does not use it.