Sunday, November 30, 2014

Milk Poached Chicken

Milk Poached Chicken 

My experience with poaching chicken breast was quite a culinary effort and so when I finally learnt to make perfectly poached chicken I was simply elated. All this while I was using water with bay leaf and other flavouring and now that I got that part right I decided it was time to move on to this recipe I had read a long time ago. It was poaching the chicken in milk which the article promised would give super soft results.

Before we move on here are the few points to remember when poaching chicken

  1. Use a pan which just about fits the chicken breasts. 
  2. Never ever let the liquid in which you are poaching the chicken come to a boil.
  3. Simmer the breasts for 3 minutes to 5 minutes and let it rest in the liquid with the stove off and the pan covered well for 8 minutes to 10 minutes. This is a crucial step in keeping the chicken moist and juicy.  

So here goes the recipe :- 

Serves 2 

400gm chicken breasts 
Enough milk to cover the breasts 1/2 inch above the chicken when placed in the pan 
1 clove of sliced garlic
Salt as per taste 

1 cup of peas 
1.5 cups of shredded cabbage 
1 cup of mushrooms 

Place the chicken with the sliced garlic in a small pan and pour enough milk so that the level reaches 1/2 inch above the chicken and then gently simmer this for 3 minutes to 4 minutes. Make sure that you don't let the milk come to a boil else it might curdle. 

After 3 minutes of simmering cover the pan with a lid and let it rest for  8 to 10 minutes. Now take out the chicken and add your vegetables and simmer for 4 minutes and drain the vegetables. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and slice it and add salt and freshly ground pepper and enjoy a healthy juicy meal.   

Friday, November 28, 2014

Chicken Aubergine Stew

Chicken Aubergine Stew

So the idea of this stew stems from the fact that stews were an integral part of my entire childhood . Basically my father would make this lip smacking stew with a host of vegetables , chicken and a few spices. Later on when I read about Tagines from Morocoo I found a lot many to be using spices which were known to me and even though the flavours are not really Indian because Indian food is more spicy it does remind me of the stews made by my father which would use the spices sparingly to simply add a touch of flavour.

The other reason why I made up this stew was to use up Aubergines. Here is the difficult part about aubergines, they taste great but take up too much oil when they are cooked. The other healthy option is to make Baba Ghanoush and so here is a recipe which uses them but doesn't require too much frying.

3 slim aubergines
400gm chicken Leg + thigh
1 tsp Homemade Harissa Paste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 plump tomatoes blanched , skinned and chopped
550ml water
Salt as per taste
Chopped parsley
2 to 3 tbsp black currant (dried black grapes)
1 tbsp olive oil

For the harissa substitute

50gm dried chilies
1/4th  tsp Caraway seeds (in case you don't have Caraway seeds use Shah Jeera which isn't really caraway but gives a nice flavour )
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp Olive Oil

Soak the chilies in luke warm water for 1 hour 30 minutes and then de-seed them . (I advice using gloves else your hands will have a painful sensation) reserve some of the water for blending.

Now blend it  with the spices after dry roasting the spices , salt and add the oil. Add the reserved water bit by bit till you get a smooth paste. Let it sit in your jar for 1 day and its ready to use. Beware, this stuff is hot so use sparingly. The flavours develop more and more with passing time.

Now for the stew start by blanching the tomatoes, skinning them and chopping them. Now simply heat the oil and add the chicken and seal its juices on high heat for a minute on both the sides and add the chopped aubergine and cover and cook on low heat for 7 minutes to 8 minutes and add the chopped tomatoes and mix well and the spices , currant and then the water and simmer it on low heat for 20 minutes. Check and add salt as per taste, garnish with parsley and serve with some flatbread or couscous or brown rice.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Junglee Murgh (Priyadarshini's recipe)

Junglee Murgh (Priyadarshini's recipe) 

I thought November would be a month I shall relax. Well what you anticipate and what actually  happens in life can sometimes differ greatly. Its not always bad , in fact here are some great bits of news.

So after a crazed work schedule till the first week of November the parents visited us in Mumbai since the husband will be off to South Africa for research work for a good 2 years. So sooner had I finished this massive Project there was celebration with the parents and sightseeing in Bombay can be beautiful if you enjoy classic architecture but the travel can wring you of all your energy. Well once they were gone I thought I would relax a bit but then there is back to back work and I am not really complaining because to be honest I love work. In between all this work I met my good friend Claudia and then a week later it was a gathering of friends . I finally met Gungun from Sinfully Your's and what a lovely day it was.

On top of all of this Kolkata Food Bloggers' is conducting its ongoing Project of 'Know Your Blogger Part II' where each week we choose a member and each participating members, recreates the member's recipe.

This week the star is my good friend and the most creative food blogger I know, Priyadarshini from 'Lets Talk Food' What you need to know about this gorgeous lady is that she is a creative rebel. I mean she puts her own creative touch in every dish that she posts about and this is not the first time that I have followed her recipe. Previously I tried out her 'Kancha Lanka Murgi', this lip smacking Chicken dish from Bengal cooked with loads of Green chilies and it was out of this world.

So when it comes to selecting a recipe I usually try and find one which suits my needs of the time. So this time I was in Bombay with a husband who follows the green diet and I am personally on a high protein, extremely low carbohydrate with lots of vegetables diet but the good news is since I exercise I can have fat in controlled portions.

I'l be honest I mostly chose her Junglee Murgh which literally translates to Wild chicken due to the reigning flavour of garlic and chilies two of my favourite ingredients and the fact that its cooked in pure clarified butter. Here is the thing with Most North Indian food and clarified butter. Ghee makes every dish better which is why these days I cook these recipes rarely but when I do so I use what was originally intended for it and the results are just unbelievably good.

 I must say that since this recipe uses very few ingredients modifying it would simply ruin the taste. The best part is that it being dry it makes the perfect appetizer and if you are on a diet you can just team it with some salad on the side or a spicy spinach paste like I did.

Now here is a crucial part, working with chicken breasts can be very tricky so read on to make sure you never again end up with dry chicken. If you follow the steps I guarantee that you will always get soft succulent chicken breasts.

Now here is another good news before I finally share the recipe with my good readers,We The Kolkata Food Bloggers proudly present a Bake Sale on the 13th of December 2014 and I would have a small stall which I am sharing with Pritha from 'Guilt-Free' and it gives me great pleasure to invite all of you to drop in.

So here comes the recipe

Serves 1 to 2

380gm of Boneless cubed  Chicken
2 tsp minced garlic
7 to8 Dried red chilies (preferably the ones from Rajasthan'
2 tbsp unmelted ghee
Salt as per taste
3 Fenugreek seeds
2 to 3 Black peppercorn

Simply heat the ghee and garlic together. This step ensures that your garlic doesn't burn at all in the end.

Once you get the aroma of garlic filling your kitchen add the chilies, peppercorn and fenugreek and finally the chicken , add some salt and seal  its juices on high heat for a few seconds on each side. Now is the tricky part. You see chicken breasts are very delicate and if cooked for too long it turns dry and stringy. So now your lower the heat and cover and cook for 5 minutes to 7 minutes. Open the cover and cook for another minute or 2 till it becomes dry.

Now is a very crucial part to end up with moist juicy chicken. Cover and let it rest for a good 15 minutes before you dig in.

Enjoy this lip-smacking dish.

This is part of : -

Penette E Pomodorini D'O Piennulo (Pasta with Tomatoes and basil)

Penette E Pomodorini D'O Piennulo 

(Pasta with Tomatoes and basil)

I used to think I make a decent Tomato based pasta be it the Arrabbiata or just a normal Tomato based Pasta . Well in my defense the sauce would mostly turn out flavourful and ever since I discovered al dente pasta I would in fact think I was creating quite the Italian dish in my kitchen.

Then one day I finally invested in La Cucina one of the best Classic Italian cookbooks of all times. You see I started cooking from a very tender age and to be able to afford a good book it does take a bit time. Your mid 20s are very different from your late teens. Anyway the point is I somehow believe that the mark of any good restaurant, cookbook or for that matter a cook lies in how he or she makes the most basic of dishes. Which is why I chose one of the simplest dishes of all times,

Now in these modern times when cooks can't seem to find their way around the kitchen with step by step photographs this classic book is quite the opposite. It has tons of exquisite recipes but not even one photograph which is quite fine by me. In fact you won't even find most of these recipes over the internet.

Well I am kind of an old fashioned world. People often ask me why a 25 year old (almost 26) would want to spend hours in the kitchen for a dish . Here is the thing I want to learn the characters of the dishes I cook and a dish's character can be traced back to its cuisine.

So if you really want to learn Italian cuisine a good old classic book is essential.

Anyway coming back to our recipe I was quite startled for a the technique used was completely different than not only what I usually use but what is mostly shared far and wide from across continents and chefs.

Now I somehow tend to be passionate and so I passionately believe that a cookbook brought by by the Culinary Acedemy of Italy will not leave any scope for mistakes. Period.

So I went about doing exactly what they had asked to. In the end I was dumbstruck. I have been to some of the fine dine restaurants of India in both Calcutta , Mumbai and Delhi and never have I tasted a tomato based pasta which had so much of flavour and the colour was the colour of passion, a deep red that I could romance with romance in my head  just by looking at it.

So here is what you need :-

Recipe :from La Cucina . Before I begin I must admit that for when I cooked the tomato sauce I halved the recipe and used half the time for cooking and being on an extreme low carb diet I used very little pasta and kept most of the sauce for later use. I am sharing the original recipe exactly as was given and I suggest you don't alter it.

1 lb Penne Pasta
1/2 lb ripe plump tomatoes blanced and skinned
1 large clove of garlic , minced
Pinch of chili flakes / Half a ripe red chili
Several Basil leaves chopped
Salt for taste
2/3rd cup EXtra Virgin Olive Oil

Chop the skinned tomatoes. Place the minced garlic and finely chopped chili with the oil and let it slowly brown . Once its browned take out the garlic and chili and add the chopped tomatoes and add salt and cook on high heat for 15 minutes stirring it and pressing it down with a masher or back of a big spatula from time time time.

While the sauce is cooking bring a pot of  water to a boil on another stove with a pinch of salt and add the pasta and cook till al dente and once done add it to the sauce and mix well and add some basil and serve.

I can promise you this is the most flavourful tomato based pasta ever.

The reserved Tomato 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hearty Tomato Soup

Hearty Tomato Soup 

Soups and I have a strong connection from as long as I can remember. When I was young we would mostly have Chicken stew at home, which is basically a warm hearty soup with lots of winter vegetables thrown in with chicken in bones. My old man would cook it once every week and the entire family enjoyed it. He would say that bones have a crucial job in adding flavour. Once I grew up and discovered the maestros of cooking I realized how well my father knows about food since a good stock is crucial for good soups as suggested by all good cooks from all over the world.

The other kind of soup we would relish were those delicious Chinese soups. Calcutta has an old Chinatown. In fact some good folks from China settled in the 1700s and have ever since been serving exquisite Chinese food . Sadly most of these eating joints are closing down.

Anyway coming back to the soup of the day, the first time I tasted this tangy throat warming soup was on the Rajdhani Express Train when I was 10 years old. Rajdhani is one of the best rains in India connecting different cities to the capital. I loved it.

My mother wasn't much of a cook , rather she didn't like spending her time in the kitchen so she would constantly buy these packaged Knorr soups which I quite honestly relished till I realized how much more healthy and delicious it is to make these soups the traditional way.

The first time I tried my hands on Tomato soup was somewhere in the winters of 2003. I was 14 years old going on 15 and the year was coming to an end and I decided to make it. Well it was not the best one and over the years I have tried various recipes of this one humble and lip smacking soup, sometimes with carrots and beetroots added in , sometimes with leek and carrot , sometimes with celery and I finally decided to try a recipe where I mostly stay true to this plump and delicious fruit.

Now before I begin I have to say what stays constant and is a major flavour giver is the stock. It just wouldn't taste the same without it.

Anyway so here is the perfect tomato soup for me :-

Makes 3 to 4 servings

600gm plump red tomatoes which you shall blanch
1.5 litre of homemade stock of your choice  (I usually use chicken)
Salt as per taste
1 tbsp butter
1/2 a large chopped leek
1 large clove of minced garlic
1 tsp freshly group white pepper
Cream for serving (optional)
If you want a spicy touch instead of the optional cream you may add chili oil

Blanch and skin the tomatoes and chop them well. Now heat the butter till it foams and add the leek and garlic  and saute till they fill your kitchen with their aroma but take care to not brown them. Now add the tomatoes and cook till it for 5 minutes and add 800ml of the stock and let it come to a boil and add salt and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Now simply let it cool down and blend to a smooth puree. Get the puree back to the pot and add the remaining stock and bring to a slow boil while stirring it constantly and simmer for 5 minutes and serve it if you are having this on a normal day with a drizzle of chili oil or some cream.

In case you are serving it for a formal dinner or for guests strain the tomato soup once done and bring toa  slow boil and immediately serve it with added cream.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chicken Yogurt Soup

Chicken Yogurt Soup

If you have read my previous post you would know that Kolkata Food Bloggers is hosting this amazing event called, Know Your Food Blogger Part 2. So basically the reason behind this initiative is interesting. So you see we are a group of cooking enthusiasts and we mostly cook, click , write and share but then again with so many recipes to be tried and tested we don't always get to explore each other's kitchens and with this event each week a blogger is chosen as the star of the week and we try out her recipes. This time our Star Blogger of the week is the lovely, Jayati Saha.

My interactions with Jayati has been virtual from the beginning. A doting mother, her blog was actually born due to her son's encouragement. She is a busy mother and holds a full time job and creates some mouthwatering dishes which she shares with us. You can find all her recipes at Jayati's Food Journal . Not only that when the very popular Calcutta based newspaper, 'The Telegraph' decided to write an article on Food Bloggers they did not forget to mention Jayati.

Since I am still on a high protein and vegetable and almost no carb diet I  chose her Chicken Stew with Curd . With a few changes here and there to suit my taste I created this dish which I am calling Chicken Yogurt Soup. Now I did have some homemade Harissa substitute which I had made the day prior to making this dish which I used in the soup and which added much flavour.

So here goes the recipe.

Makes 2 servings

400gm chicken ( leg + thigh)

For marination :-
4 heaped tsp plain yogurt
4 medium sized garlic cloves
1/2 inch ginger
1/4th tsp Harissa substitute paste (In case you don't have Harissa just use 1 dried red chili + small pinch of cumin seeds and a pinch of caraway seeds)
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt as per taste

Spices for the soup :-
1 bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon
1 green cardamom

2 cups of mixed vegetables (Broccoli, Red bell pepper, Yellow Bell Pepper, 1 medium sized leek)

Make a paste of the ingredients mentioned in the marination and marinate the chicken for 1/2 an hour to 1 hour. Now heat a pot and add the marinated chicken and the bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom  and let it brown a bit on both sides and add 1 litre water and boil for 7 minutes. Now take out the chicken and drop it in a bowl of cold water and separate the meat from the bones and shred it put the bones back in the pot and boil till the liquid is reduced to half its content and then take out the bones and add the broccoli and simmer for 5 minutes and add the rest of the vegetables and the shredded chicken and taste and add salt if required and simmer for another 5 minutes and turn off the stove and rest it for 15 minutes and have some hearty soup.

This is part of

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pan Seared Lemon Garlic Basa Salad

Pan Seared Lemon Garlic Basa Salad 

These days I am on a high protein, high on vegetable and extremely low on carbohydrate diet which I absolutely love and what also puts me in a good mood are salads especially a light fresh one.

So here is a simple Pan seared basa salad

Serves 1 :

200gm Basa fillet
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 fat clove of garlic
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Salt as per taste
1 ripe red chili sliced
1 tsp Olive oil + extra for spraying

For the salad

2 cups of assorted lettuce
5 to 6 cherry tomatoes
Half a red bell pepper chopped
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive oil

Thinly slice the garlic and chili and then marinate the fish for 1/2 an hour and then heat a pan and spray with a bit of oil add the fish and seal it juices on high heat for less than a minute on each side and cover and cook for about 5 minutes to 8 minutes on low heat .

Arrange the lettuce , cherry tomatoes and bell pepper and drizzle with a little EVOO and add the fish and enjoy a healthy meal. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pasta Cooked in Ground Chicken Spinach Sauce

Pasta Cooked in Ground Chicken Spinach Sauce 

Kolkata Food Bloggers is presenting another fabulous event. This time its Know Your Food Blogger 2. For those of you who still do not know who we are. We are a bunch of mad hat food lovers who loves cooking, clicking , sharing and knowing. For this event we are dedicating a week each for our members who are participating in this fabulous event and recreating some wonderful dishes. This week's star is our very own Sarani Tarafder from Cocoawind: Back to Basics.

My entire interaction with Sarani has been virtual. Early on we realized that this bubbly enthusiastic lady and I have studied in the same school and my older cousin sister has been her former classmate and has in fact attended her wedding. Talk about it being a small world but then again that must have been years ago since our lovely lady in question has spent a large chunk of her married life in the USA.

What I love about Sarani is the balance she maintains between food which is indulgent and food which is mostly healthy yet delicious.

For quite some time have I eyed and marked her fabulous recipe for Pasta Cooked in Ground Chicken Spinach Sauce . What I love about this particular recipe is how well the lovely Sarani has camouflaged Spinach for her tiny tot. Now having become an aunt at quite an early age thanks to my older cousins,  struggling to make kiddies have veggies is something which is highly familiar to me and the way our lady in question has skilfully been successful in getting her lovely child to eat Spinach is proof enough of her expertise in the kitchen. Well I have always loved spinach and it doesn't need camouflaging for me but there is something about blend spinach which gets me very excited.

Anyway coming back to recipe,  after the week long indulgence during Diwali I had sadly ruined months of exercising and careful eating and this recipe couldn't have come at a better time. Since I am following a low on carb  high on protein and vegetable diet I did modify the recipe a little bit but it essentially remains the same. The original recipe asks you to use spices or herbs as per your choice which is what I did and to make it oil-free and even more healthy I chucked out the frying part altogether and added some Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the end which is optional. This dish was so fabulous and healthy that I know that it will be a staple in my ktichen.

So here goes the recipe which serves 1 :

1/4th cup wholewheat penne pasta
Half a large bunch of fresh spinach
200gm to 250gm ground chicken
1 extra large garlic
3 to 4 peppercorn
Salt as per taste
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)

Bring a pot of water to boil along with a pinch of salt and add the spinach when the water starts boiling and cook for exactly 2 minutes and take out the spinach and let it cool down and add the pasta and let it cook as per instructions on the packet. In the meantime once the spinach has cooled down blend it with salt, garlic and peppercorn and keep it aside. Once the pasta is cooked drain it but reserve the water and bring this water to a boil with the ground chicken and cook till its cooked all the way though. If there is extra water left drain it and keep aside the stock and now put the cooked ground chicken and blend spinach back in the pan and add the pasta and mix well and serve with a drizzle of 1 tsp EVOO. Enjoy a delicious healthy meal.

This is part of

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Potato Mushroom Soup

Potato Mushroom Soup 

I love soups especially a healthy one which is creamy. I was a complete mess during the past 3 days. With a terrible deadline I was working 10 hours a day and with little sleep, no exercise and bad food which meant I ate take out and  stir fried rice I was feeling very uneasy by the 3rd day which is when I decided that if not anything else I must eat healthy.

So I started my day with a filling potato frittata and went on to have a fresh smoothie and then decided I needed some comforting soup. For some reason I have always loved soups even though I was born and brought up in a hot country like India.

This is one of the easiest soups ever.

Makes 4 servings

4 medium sized potato
1 large onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt as per taste, I required about 2 tsp and a pinch
6 whole black pepper
3 cups of vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/2 cup of toned milk
1 tsp oil
200gm mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oil and add the garlic and onion and stir a bit and then add the potatoes and 1.5 cups of  stock and bring to a boil and then add the black pepper and half the thyme and simmer covered till the potatoes are cooked. Once cooked allow it to cool and blend to a smooth puree. Now transfer it back to the pot and add the remaining stock , milk and salt as per taste and bring it to a boil on low heat stirring frequently and then simmer for 2 minutes and before serving stir fry the mushrooms on high and serve the soup by transferring it in bowls and adding the mushroom from the top.

For a healthier version you may steam the mushrooms.