Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kancha Lonka Murgi II

Kancha Lonka Murgi II 

I rarely cook a special dish without following a recipe from an old cookbook or a cookbook by a chef I trust and I mostly stick to a recipe when I follow it which is why on that rare occasion when I make a recipe without following any recipe and go with my flow it instantly becomes special to me especially if I love the taste and more so if the people who taste it like it.

Now if you cannot stand heat and I meat hot and spicy food where the heat comes from chili then this particular recipe is not for you. It is called Green chili chicken for a reason.

What I most like about the dishes from my roots that is Bengal is how many of its recipes especially when meat is concerned is cooked sans garlic and onion and it yet turns out delicious.

Last year I made this 'Kacha Lonka Murgi' kancha lonka = green chili and Murgi = chicken following my friend Priyadarshini's recipe which used garlic and ginger paste and green chili.

This time I created my own recipe sans the garlic and I have to say I absolutely loved it. One other factor which is crucial is the use of mustard oil. This dish just simply cannot come out well without that strong flavour of mustard oil.

You must serve it with hot piping rice for a beautiful experience.

Makes approximately 4 to 5 servings :

1 kilogram chicken
40 green chilies made into a smooth paste using water. (The number of chilies depends largely on their strength of heat so start with 30 green chilies and if it doesn't taste hot enough use 40. I used 40 of them)
1 tbsp smooth ginger paste
3/4 tsp nigella seeds
1/2 tsp radhuni (optional)
4 tbsp mustard oil
Salt as per taste

Marinate the chicken with the ginger paste and some salt for 1 hour to 1.5 hours. Now heat the mustard oil and when its smoky turn down the heat and add the nigella seeds and radhuni if available and when it splutters add the chicken and sear it on high heat for 1 minute and stir and then simmer on the lowest heat possible covering the pan and let it cook on low heat for 7 minutes and add half the green chili paste and 1/4th cup of water  and keep cooking on low heat for another 10 minutes or so and add the rest of the green chili and cook for another 5 minutes and let it rest for 7 minutes to 10 minutes and serve with piping hot rice.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Irish House, Kolkata , Quest Mall

The Irish House, Kolkata , Quest Mall 

When The Irish House had opened its wooden doors to Kolkata at Quest Mall , park Circus  I was mostly excited because of the name in anticipation of good cocktails and my presumptions did not disappoint me .


The first trip sealed my fate since not only did they have a happy hours which they still do have from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. where you pay for one drink but get 2 the Caprioska on offer was refreshing and a perfect soothing drink for our hot humid Calcutta.

The interiors will remind you of a rustic European pub with the wooden beams and then there are those witty eye catching one liners one of which is sure to put a smile on your face.

I am one of those people who would judge a place by the food that they serve and we had ordered the beef nachos which has become a staple order every time I visit this lovely place. The nachos are in house made and thin crispy and a complete delight , the dips are fresh and a perfect accompaniment to the cheese grilled nachos with tender juicy beef as the icing of the cake.

The beef pot pie is another delight.

The music which starts slow does unfortunately get a bit too loud for comfort.

When Akriti invited us for over for a tasting of the menu from Irish House I needed no persuasion.

I was perfectly satisfied with the Mojito which had the right amount of alcohol to make me happy without overpowering the taste.

The chicken which was served was juicy and moist with that perfect crumb coat to make it crunchy and this is a lovely accompaniment to any drink.

For vegetarians they have a fantastic pesto pasta which I quite liked due to the creamy cheesy flavour but then again a bit of Parmesan cheese  goes a long way in transforming even the most mundane dishes to something which gives you a kick.

I had perhaps underestimated the section for desserts but the cointreau cheesecake which was baked and served warm made me extremely happy which means I am definitely going back for more. The cointreau gives it that special touch which makes it even more delicious.

 In comparison the dark bottomed kahlua verrine was a bit of a let down mostly because I prefer to to chocolate and coffee together since I feel it does some injustice to two beautiful flavours . I would have much preferred a strong coffee flavoured mousse.

Pesto Pasta 

Then again I would simply go back for those amazing cocktails , nachos and to explore the entire menu. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Good Food and the New Year

Good Food and the New Year 


As we all know in Bengal The Bengali New year 'Poila Baisakh' is knocking on our doors but so is the Punjabi new year 'Baisakhi'

When the lovely Supreeta invited me over for a tasting of the menu which is on offer at Saffron , The Park I was expecting some delicious Bengali dishes.

It was refreshing  to see a menu which offered the best from the East of India and the West of India. Well to be fair this year you are in for a treat at the Saffron, The Park which has a very special menu featuring a few dishes passed down by grandmothers from Bengal and Punjab.

So you can mix and match and have a hearty thali or choose selective dishes and go A la carte between 10th April to 19th April.

The Bharwan Aloo 'stuffed potatoes' from Punjab is a spicy treat to begin with or you can also opt for the traditional Bengali fried Brinjal.

The Dahi Vada is perfect for this season of oppressive heat.

They have carefully selected their dishes from recipes handed down by two Bengali grandmothers. So there is a bit of history which is being brought to your table. The 'Posto chicken' does stand out quite well where the taste of poppy seeds dominates the flavour as I would have wanted .

The  mutton curry  has a familiar taste entwined with a bit of suspense which comes from a special technique used for the dish where a tadka is used right at the end which is quite unheard of in Bengali cuisine giving the dish an added kick.

A meal is probably incomplete without a sweet ending and the malpua with the dollop of rabri is exactly what one needs as the sweet ending. There is also the baked Mango chena which was quite an innovative twist to a traditional fare.

And all these delicacies are available at quite a reasonable price.

There is a special  lunch buffet on offer at The Bridge on 15th April 2015 at Rs1495 per person.

There is more reason to celebrate since Someplace Else has a live gig on the 15th of April 9:30 p.m. onward.

Flurrys has a speical Poila Baisakh menu from 11th to 19th April

There is enough to celebrate this April with the Park's fabulous events lined up for you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Buttermilk Grilled Chicken

Buttermilk Grilled Chicken 

One of the only diets which help me loose weight and stay fit is a high on protein with raw salad and fruit diet. Naturally I look out for recipes for grilled chicken or poached meat and poultry.

Now what I have realized is that flavours are very much subjective. You like ginger I like garlic you do not like thyme I love thyme etc etc. So unless you are recreating a classic recipe the flavour is your playground but the techniques are what matters the most.

I have previously posted about chicken breasts which are pretty hard to work with but once you know the right technique it can be juicy and moist.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Chicken Khirmich Pulao

Chicken Khirmich Pulao 

(Murgir Khirmich Pulao)

If one asks me about the exact moment when I got so interested in the kitchen I would not be able to give the person a straight answer. Part of it was because my mother who always stays away from the kitchen had taken up cooking delicious Chinese food when I was about 11 years old. It was more so delightful for me because I was usually an ostracized person in groups where people of my age group would brag about their mother's skill in the kitchen. What amazed was how close my mother's Chinese was to the food of old Chinatown from Calcutta. Unlike my friends who brought greasy Chinese which was doused in soya sauce or lacked the flavour my mother made balanced mild flavoured Chinese food which had amazed me. I had later learnt that she had learnt this from a friend who had studied hotel management. Then came a period when as with many teenagers I had a dramatic relationship with my ma and she stopped cooking and focused on her love of mountains. So perhaps it was to taste her delicious dishes that I started cooking Chinese food the ones she made at home. She had shared the recipes. That will be for another post.

If I close my eyes I see myself salivating while reading Enid Blytons books and the descriptions of picnic baskets and having this urge to taste all of them but the truth is I grew up among my maternal grandmother and aunt (mother's brother's wife) who left a deep impact on my mind about cooking. While my mother was the fiery no nonsense woman who was rough and tough I grew up in a world of drying lentil dumplings and making lip smacking Bengali dishes. My aunt's influence and an urge to imitate her filled me with an intense desire to learn the way she would render her magic to dishes. She is like a mother to me and taught me all that she knew about Bengali cooking encouraging me and appreciating my efforts.

What I learnt from her was mostly what had been passed down by her mother some 40 years ago hence I have the greatest regard for tradition when it comes to cooking.

Much later I realized that if I do really want to know about my Bengali culinary roots I must do what I believe if the only way to gather knowledge, that is read books.

What I discovered has left me brimming with pride for imagine this in Bengal women were publishing cookbooks at a time when emancipation for women was unheard of in most parts of the world.