Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mango Cheddar Salad

Mango Cheddar Salad 

So in keeping with my promise of celebrating Salad week here is another favourite of mine. I love mangoes but here I have to mention I love my 'Gulab Khas' mangoes the most. They are  a variant from the eastern state of Bihar in India and is  famous for its rosy aroma, sharp sweet intermixed with a tart taste and its that beautiful aroma and the tangy sweet taste  that which gives me sheer joy.

Well so the point is this salad combines fresh greens, cubes of firm but ripe mangoes and shavings of Mild Cheddar with a Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing.

Serves 1

1 mango cut up in small pieces
20gm to 30gm cheddar shavings
1 cup of torn red leaf lettuce

For the dressing :-

1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
Salt as per taste
Freshly crushed pepper as per taste
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Assemble your ingredients for the salad and chill it in the refrigerator but remember not to use the dressing when chilling it else your salad becomes a soggy mess.

Right when you want to have a delightful plate of salad whisk together the ingredients of the dressing and pour it over your salad and enjoy a beautiful meal.

This is part of my ongoing celebration of Salads. You might want to check out the previous entry to this event. Bacon Parmesan Rocket Salad

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chocolate Fondants

Chocolate Fondants 

Taste for everything is subjective as is your taste for food. What is perfect for me might not seem perfect for you. Take the example of this world famous dessert which goes by many names such as Chocolate fondants, Moelleux au Chocolat, Molten Lava Cake etc etc . I like mine airy,  light with soft molten chocolate which clings to the insides and is like molten lava and not too liquid in nature.

To be honest this is one of the easiest desserts to make and when I saw the recipe in a World Famous paper I knew I must make it but even after having mastered an airy light soft sponge cake which involves mastering the technique  of folding I failed miserably with this easy peasy recipe. After 3 failed attempts I decided to look around a bit reading other recipes. My failure was unmoulding the little fondants I thought perhaps I should look up a few recipes. Quite honestly I did not follow one  single recipe but took a few tips from a few French blogs and finally voila. This was the best chocolate fondant that I have ever had. Light airy and the liquid chocolate is thick enough like lava and not too thin. I personally hate it when the molten chocolate comes out too liquid in nature.

Anyway for me this is the perfect chocolate fondant, light airy , chocolaty with that molten chocolate clinging to its insides.

This being a chocolate based dessert I would suggest using the best cooking chocolate you can get your hands on for the best of taste . I used Callebaut.

The best part is that one tip I gathered from one of the blogs  included freezing the batter in a ramekin and using it later and for me that is perfect as someone who often cooks for one.

Makes 2 servings

70gm chocolate chopped well. I used chocolate chips so  no chopping was involved (I used 70% dark chocolate )
50gm soft unsalted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 heaped tbsp all purpose flour
1 whole egg
A bit of extra butter and cocoa powder  for preparing the ramekins

Start by first preheating your oven at 200C. While the oven preheats cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and keep whisking. Melt the chocolate on a double boiler and add this to the creamed butter with eggs and whisk well. Fold in the flour and pour it 2 buttered and floured (here we use cocoa powder instead of flour) ramekins. Place the ramekins on a tray and put them in the oven.

Bake for 8 minutes to 10 minutes and voila these amazing individual desserts are ready. Wait for 1 minute and use your clean dry fingers to loosen the edge and invert it on a plate and serve them with whipped cream or just by itself. Eat em fast else the molten chocolate solidifies.

If you freeze moulds bake at 200C for 8 minutes and then turn down the temperature to 180C and bake for another 4 minutes or 5 minutes 

Bacon Parmesan Rocket salad to Kick start my Salad Week

Bacon Parmesan Rocket salad 

to Kick start my Salad Week 

When it comes to  blogging I follow my heart more than anything else. While there are weeks when I might blog everyday of the week there might be days on the end when I would cook and even click photographs for documentation but not blog about it at all.

Just the other day I was talking with a friend and a blogger about how its our passion for cooking which is actually what keeps us going even on those days when we would just want to drop dead or are tired and then comes the blog for documentation.

Anyway when I met Pritha who blogs from Guilt-Free I remember exactly what had impressed me about her blog and firstly it was this coffee cake. I am a complete coffee lover not an addict though. Well I do need my one cup per day but that's only after waking up otherwise I am good. Anyway so a coffee flavoured cake immediately caught my attention and then when I took out time to read some of her earlier posts. I usually have this habit of going back to a blog's posts when it had taken its baby steps. Anyway the moment I did that what impressed me most was this discipline that she follows when it comes to her blog at times. Her blog itself started on a dessert a week note which impressed me to no end.

And then as the story goes like minds met over an event. We had a potluck . We talked and talked for hours. I went to Mumbai and yet we would talk endlessly about food and in-between she actually took a one month Bengali food marathon project and low and behold she stuck to her promise.

I for one do not have that kind of discipline . In fact when I joined her for her Christmas event I was the one who actually lagged behind. And she is the one who holds a full time job and there I was well working of course and as a freelancer I was swamped with work but still the point is I got inspired by my friend. Do take a look at her blog for possible exciting events this June and there is also a possibility of a joint venture Event by 2 insane girls who love to cook and eat and click .

Anyway so inspired by my friend I decided I should do an event one that is close to me and quite honestly I love salads. My point is salads can be beautiful. They are just not part of diet food projects, In fact a hearty salad can actually fill your stomach and emotions so that you actually do not end up eating a lot of unhealthy food.

So let's kick start my Salad Week with a Bacon Parmesan Rocket salad. The beauty of this dish is that the 3 ingredients used in the dish is all that you need for this beautiful salad. Personally speaking I don't use a dressing for the salad because otherwise the beauty is lost. Its the peppery taste of rocket leaves along with the crisp bacon a bit of crisp fatty portion and a hint of that glorious Parmesan cheese that makes it one of the best salads ever. In fact I don't even use salt since I get all the salt that I require from the bacon and I leave out freshly crushed pepper because the peppery taste of the rockets provides that superb bite to my salad.

Salad that serves 1 person

1 cup to 1.5 cups rocket leaves removed from the stem
100gm bacon cut into bite sized pieces
Parmesan shavings as much as you need

Here is an important tip to make sure your rocket leaves are absolutely crisp and fresh if they seem a bit wilted due to the heat. Plunge them in ice cold water with a few ice cubes and let it soak while you fry the bacon its on absolute low heat turning them once one side has become golden brown. In my experience if you start frying the bacon on low heat it becomes crisp without any burnt parts. Once the bacon is fried drain it well and then assemble the salad.

Simply drain the rocket leaves, arrange them in a salad bowl top it with bacon and Parmesan shavings and voila its that easy to whip up this gorgeous salad.

If you want you may drizzle the salad with a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil  but I would steer clear of vinegar or any wet ingredients which would hamper the crisp characteristics of the bacon.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Park Plaza and the Glorious Steak , Kolkata

Park Plaza and the Glorious Steak , Kolkata 

Sometime in April when Park Plaza had invited a few of the city's bloggers for tasting of their menu at K19. I really did not know what to expect. I did hear from a friend that its quite a happening place in the Southern part of Kolkata but frankly speaking I had not been to this place but a bite into their steak and I was a convert.

In-between there was too much going on in my life and at times I would go back to that juicy succulent steak done exactly how I had wanted it which was rare to medium. The vegetables which accompanied the steak retained their crunch and I would definitely recommend this place to all steak lovers. I am a potato lover and I must say the creamy smooth mash is the added attraction to the steak.

Now coming to the rest of the platter which had been presented to us the cocktails are well made , the Kebbab platter for non vegetarians is quite delicious but there is nothing extraordinary about the kebabs but judging by how fast a platter was shared between 4 food diners I would say its a lovely accompaniment to conversations and good times. 

If you love pork I would suggest you steer clear of their offer. The pork chop was swimming in fat and for me if a pork chop has 70% fat in it the delight is almost completely lost. 

On being asked about their specialty the chef had recommended their offer of pizzas but by then we were only too well fed and were unable to eat another bite. 

So here is wishing all you steak lovers the best of steak and health at Park Plaza. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A real taste of Italy at Serafina Kolkata

A real taste of Italy at Serafina Kolkata 

Kolkata has  long been introduced to wood oven pizzas and it has also been exposed to a variety of flavours from Italy for quite sometime but if you are thinking that another Italian place in Kolkata is not too exciting I would just simply recommend that you visit Serfina once , have their truffle pizza and get back to me unless you do not like delightful cheesy pizzas with that slight hint of truffles all imported from Italy and France.

When Sharmili from Communication 2.0 invited us for a tasting of the extensive spread at Serafina I was not sure what to expect. We were 6 or 7 excited bloggers and we decided to ask the restaurant for their specialty. They said it was their pastas and pizzas. Well as cliched as that might sound from a restaurant serving Italian cuisine read along to know why this place is worth its pizzas pastas and much more.

On the manager's recommendation I tried the Kaffir Lime Margharita which unfortunately failed to strike a chord with me because it wasn't chilled well enough but was nevertheless tasty yet on a hot summer day I would have personally preferred it well chilled.

The carpaccio which followed the drink more than made up for the drink. This is quite frankly the perfect start to a lovely hearty Italian meal.

Just as we were raving about the crapaccio we were presented with the Goat cheese salad which frankly interested me even more not just because I personally love rocket leaves and goat cheese but the presentation seemed rustic and beautiful. As I took a bite into creamy goat cheese spread out on small slices of well toasted bread and try a bit of caramelized walnuts with rocket and apples all the flavours together made me extremely happy.

All their pastas are in house made with imported flour which gives it that extra flavour no wonder they take pride in their pastas and pizzas. The Ravioli al Porcini is the best ravioli I have had in Kolkata. The flavour of Parmesan and porcini makes for a superb combination and the ravioli is done exactly the way I would want it to be neither overcooked nor undercooked.

The Alio e Olio is probably what I would personally try on an ordinary day at home but when I am out for fine dining I would want something slightly more complex.

The chicken breast paillard is again a breast of chicken which is pounded into a thin sheet and makes up for quite an interesting dish but the Baby lamp chops are what I would personally recommend. Rosemary works beautifully with red meat and the perfectly done lamb pink inside , soft juicy yet meaty is exactly how lamb chops should be in my opinion.

By this time we were overly full and the sight of any other dish while hard to resist tasting seemed quite a task but nevertheless one cannot leave without a sweet ending and when we asked the chef for his recommendation he had at first recommended chocolate mousse but I personally feel chocolate desserts are rather overused everywhere and so I gladly tasted the tiramisu which is probably the perfect ending to a beautiful meal and the panna cota was creamy well set and not overly wobbly. What also did catch my eye was the inclusion of a few desserts which Kolkata is usually not used to such as the Ricotta cheesecake. While we love our baked cheesecake till now I have mostly tasted cheesecake from Cream cheese and this classic Italian cheesecake would be quite interesting.

The creamy panna cotta

I am extremely happy that Serafina has opened its doors to Kolkata and would recommend it for a true blue experience.

Approximate cost for 2 : Rs2500 to Rs3000

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tandoori Chicken in the Oven

Tandoori Chicken in the Oven 

I have till date avoided making kebabs because I do not own a charcoal grill and while my oven makes delicious grilled chicken I somehow cannot fathom the idea of kebabs without the smoky taste. In the past I have tried using the method where you take a piece of charcoal and heat it up and then put that in a bowl add a few drops of oil or clarified butter and put this with the food you want to smoke covering it. Well to be fair that is nowhere close to a charcoal grill.

Anyway its wonderful to have friends who know exactly what would make you happy and so when Pritha who blogs from Guilt Free gifted me the book , 'On the Butter Chicken Trail' by Monish Gujral from the house of 'Moti Mahal Deluxe' the very restaurant which has supposedly created butter chicken I was ready with my ladle , spoon and spices.

Anyway point is I am quite neurotic when it comes to spice blends. I make my own and do not recall having ever bought garam masala or spcie mix for any dish ever. Sowhen I saw the recipe for Tandoori masala it somehow clicked and then I saw the recipe for Tandoori chicken and I must say that I immediately wanted to make it.

I had all the ingredients at home and so there I was dry roasting the spices so Tandoori chicken to be cooked the next day. Not just that I do not use colour in food on principle and since the recipe did not use any food colour that was just an added excitement for me.

Now I did have to adjust the oven time quite a bit since the original recipe calls for a clay tandoor and even though the book has a method given for oven having made grilled chicken a lot of times the time given seemed way too little and so I adjusted the time and in the end it was juicy succulent spicy tandoori which I made 3 times in the span of a week and I have to say this recipe is for keeps. I did cut down the recipe for tandoori masala quite a bit and even then I have a small jar full of tandoori masala.

The Tandoori garam masala

50gm cumin seeds
50gm coriander seeds
15gm rose petals
8gm mace
8gm cinnamon
10gm black pepper powder
1 tsp green cardamom
2 whole black cardamom
1.5 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Dry roast all the spices on low heat making sure it doesn't burn and then cool and grind to a fine powder. Store in an air-tight jar.

Recipe adapted from On the Butter Chicken Trail

For the tandoori chicken

Serves 4

800gm whole skinless chicken

For the first marination

1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder

For the second marination :-

200gm curd made into hung curd
2.1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder
1 heaped tsp tandoori garam masala
3/4th tsp kasoori methi

Melted butter or Clarified butter or mustard oil for basting

Joint the chicken making 4 pieces. Two legs + thigh and cut the breast in half  bone in . Wash , pat dry make 3 deep slits on the breasts and 2 slits on each side of the legs and 3 little cuts at the joint of the leg. Marinate with the ingredients mentioned in the list of ingredients for first marination and let the chicken marinate for 1 hour. In the meantime make hung curd from the 200gm curd by tying it up in a muslin cloth and removing the watery bit.

For your second marination marinate the chicken and leave it aside for 3 hours. In the original recipe a bit of rock salt is added but I hadn't used it for the second marination.

Preheat oven to 180C in grill mode heating both the rods .

While the oven gets preheated boil some water. Once the oven is preheated place the rack on which you are grilling the meat on the top most part of the oven and place a tray beneath is with a bowl of water on the tray. This creates steam and ensures that your chicken is thoroughly cooked. Grill for 10 minutes turning the chicken midway and then take the bowl out and increase the temperature to 230C and grill for another 15 minutes basting with the clarified butter or melted butter or mustard oil every 8 minutes and turning the chicken.

If you want a smoky flavour just heat a piece of coal and place it in a bowl , add a few drops of clarified butter or mustard oil or melted butter and put it on the tray for the last five minutes of grilling.

Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes and then serve juicy succulent delicious chicken. What I loved was how juicy and moist the chicken breast was since chicken breast is notorious for turning out too dry if overcooked.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Shortbread Biscuits

Shortbread Biscuits 

The first time I had made shortbread biscuits it was as a tribute to this one bakery on Dr.Cawasji Hormusji Street which was an integral part of my romancing Bombay.

It was a Sunny day when I had boarded the local train just like I did twice every week to go to the fort area of Mumbai to walk about aimlessly basking in the architecture of by gone areas romancing just romance . I would usually get out of my house by 11 a.m. reach Victoria terminus which is now known as CST within an hour and then walk around  Fort discovering teeny tiny obscure places to have a hearty meal at.

On one such day after a delicious meal of Chicken Farcha and some watermelon juice at Kyani and Co opposite  Metro Cinema I just kept on walking aimlessly when I happened to suddenly see this teeny tiny bakery. Well a little hole in the wall actually and I saw the stacked baked goodies and suddenly remembered having read about it on this food guide book on Mumbai. This was 2013 when there was't any proper information about what turned out to be my favourite bakery.

Well don't expect to find either pastries or layered frosting filled cakes for this shop shall remain the tea time snack shop to me unless of course they have changed their menu by now.

The first time I went in I thought I would pick up one or two packets  . All I remember is the smell of baked goodies with an addictive hint of butter which drew me closer and closer to the shop.

As I patiently waited for the old lady to finish with her shopping the old gentleman behind the counter asked me what I wanted. I was dilly dallying when he actually got what I would call a spread out for me for tasting . 1 piece each of 6 different kinds of biscuits. The moment I sank my teeth into the Jam biscuits  I was suddenly unreasonably happy. It was buttery, crisp, crumbly  yet not hard and the most delicious biscuit I have ever had. A proper shortbread to be more apt with a  jam filled center . I blurted out that those were the best biscuits I have had when the owner informed me that it was because they used Amul butter all the way through. Needless to say I bought 8 different kinds of biscuits and had the hardest time getting it back home in Mumbai .

Yes in my romance with Mumbai Paris Baker was an important suitor. And for the period of time I would stay in Mumbai I would visit this tiny obscure bakery once every 2 weeks and each and every time I was first well fed by the bakery in the name of tasting a kind of customer service I have not seen being offered with so much of enthusiasm by any other establishment  and then I would go on to purchase the biscuits.

I saw the change in the menu and found my favourite almond biscuit missing from it and in my last 2 visits I found that the gentle face who always smiled and insisted I taste before buying missing from behind the counters.

Anyway soon enough the husband went overseas to further study Solar Energy and I came back to Kolkata and so I made shortbread biscuits.

I believe this is the easiest biscuit to make.  If you google information on shortbread biscuits you will find the definition of shortbread as the biscuit which uses 1 part sugar, 2 part butter and 3 part flour baked at low temperature . If the portions are changed it still remains delicious but ceases to be shortbread biscuits.

For a long time I had used one of the recipes for shortbread given on BBC Food's site  which uses 180C temperature.

Ever since I have bought a copy of Larousse Gastronomique's collected recipes I have become quite a Larousse fanatic after some of its recipe gave me what I consider perfect results.

So here it uses 160C which I found better suited since the definiton included the biscuits baked at low temperature. To be fair this ensured that the biscuits stay palish yellow but the taste is as good when one uses 180C


Recipe source : Larousse Gastronomique

Makes 27 biscuits

100gm caster sugar
200gm butter ( I used Salted Amul Butter as a tribute to Paris bakery in Mumbai )
300gm All Purpose Flour
In case you are using unsalted butter add a fat pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar and then add the flour to make a dough and use a cling film to wrap it and keep it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Divide it into 27 parts or 28 parts and make round balls out of them and line them on a baking sheet with  some gap between each biscuit. Now refrigerate the entire sheet with the raw dough balls for 1 hour . Preheat oven to 160C and then bake for 50 minutes. Let the biscuits cool down on the sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer on to a rack and wait till they completely cool down and then enjoy these buttery crumbly delights.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Perfect Iced Coffee

My Perfect Iced Coffee 

I believe as with every other subject in this world cooking is most definitely an ever learning process where you not only learn new dishes , techniques ways , sometimes you get to improve upon that what you previously know and sometimes you hit upon the exact note and then stick to it.

Like I keep on saying taste cannot be anything but subjective and with the firm notion of the importance of the subjective nature of palate sometimes we find people with a similar taste and then does the merriment begin.

I have a few close friends and I always feel extremely happy and lucky that one of my closest friend , Tori and I have taste which is quite similar when it comes to food. We both like seasonal food which is apt for the seasons, we have this palate and appetite for a variety of cheese, we both love meaty treats and we both love love love strong coffee I mean really strong which sadly very few cafes make in India (Mumbai or Kolkata)

Anyway point is just like I try my hands on every dish that I eat outside which catches my fancy for years I had tried making iced coffee at home and it always missed this mark. No matter how lovingly I ground the coffee or how generously I used the coffee it was just not what I would have wanted.

Finally somewhere in the beginning of the season of heat and dust in 2013 I chanced upon The Pioneer Woman's post on Iced coffee.

What caught my attention was the method of brewing and I thought there was no harm in trying out this new technique. It was a bit time consuming but after a good 12 hours the fruit of the labour was so beautiful and sweet that I knew this was it.

Of course Tori approved of it with all her heart and quite honestly though it might sound pompous (though all the steps I follow are collected from all over the internet including Pioneer Woman's brewing mwthod which she has herself admitted to have collected from somewhere. isn't it great when good information is passed on this way) this coffee is for those who like the  strong flavour of coffee than the watery mild flavoured coffee that one purchases in the cafes in India.

Anyway last year when I had invited my  friend Pritha who blogs  from Guilt Free I had made this coffee for her and she seemed quite pleased with it.

Well months went by and the hot season hit us hard again when The Shirazaine shared this article from The Huffington which basically was a gist of everything I do with my iced coffee and so I decided to make a tall cooling glass of this magic potion for the summers and as usual when two food bloggers are friends except them to whatsapp each other at any given point of the day about food tirelessly and passionately. So Pritha told me I should make a post about it and so here it is.

This one I dedicate to Tori and Pritha. I have jotted down the steps which are crucial for the taste. Perhaps you would be interested in giving it a shot.

This process needs a bit of planning but I feel it is worth it. Hurrying the method does just not give the required results.

The Coffee 

All you need are good coffee beans. I live in India and the ones from Nilgiri in South India work beautifully for me. Now you would ask me where I procure it from. In  Kolkata  you get it at good Tea shops which sell loose tea. They keep coffee beans as well. And where there is a will there is always a way. When I had gotten married and my husband was in Mumbai I would frequently visit the city and found amazing beans at The Philips Coffee Shop. So basically every city will have a place which sells coffee beans . All you have to do is search a bit and you won't end up paying a fortune for coffee if you don;t want to. In case you want to use the beans from the exotic Costa Rica or Ethiopia its completely your choice and it probably might just give you better quality coffee which I cannot talk about since I have not used coffee from any exotic place for coffee. Instant coffee just does not give the required flavour and yes I have tried that as well.

The Grinding 

I use a normal coffee grinder and in my experience the powder needs to be finely ground for good flavour. 

The Brewing 

Now comes the important part and yes I believe this is a very important part. Its cold brewing all the way. So basically you soak the ground coffee with water and let the flavour infuse for a minimum of 18 hours to 24 hours and then you basically use a muslin cloth to strain the coffee and its flavour is what the iced coffee is all about.  The coffee to water ratio is 1:8 as per Jamie Oliver's site. I usually use about 120gm ground coffee per litre of water. Then you put this in the refrigerator to cold brew. Then you do the needful of straining.

The Coffee Cubes 

Now this part is again crucial for my coffee. Have you ever had a well made iced coffee and you love the first few sips and slowly and steadily the coffee gets diluted and you feel meh. Well here is the answer. Again this is also a method I chanced upon some article over the internet. Once your coffee has been cold brewed take some of the coffee add sugar as required. I usually need about 8gm to 10 gm per 250ml brewed coffee and then freeze it in a ice cube tray. 

The Final Product 

Well here is where you taste is yours and so how you make it depends on how you like it. Personally speaking I reduce milk not to the consistency of condensed milk but say if I take 250ml milk I would reduce it for 15 minutes , cool it chill it and use about 125ml of milk per 500ml brewed coffee. I like it really strong. I just blend the coffee and milk with some brown sugar and voila its done. 
The Pioneer woman uses condensed milk following some Vietnamese coffee recipe. 

Finally fill a tall glass or jar with the coffee ice cubes and add the blend and sip away my friend. 

While making the final product you can always experiment by using dairy cream, chocolate if you like that or some other flavour . P.s. Sometimes I make alcohol based coffee essence at home and 1 tsp of that takes the coffee to a whole new level. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gondhoraj Ghol

Gondhoraj Ghol 

There are very few things I like about the Indian summers. Its not just the oppressive heat which drives everyone crazy on top of that I have one of the most strange allergies. I am allergic to extreme hot temperature which means throughout the 3 or 4 months of  oppressive heat my eyes become red if I am out in the heat for more than half an hour and my skin starts itching terribly.

Yes life is tough but as it so happens that I am lucky enough to work from home and even with the problem with my eyes one of the few things I love about the summers is plenty of sunshine actually strong sunlight which leads to plenty of sun dried tomatoes which disappear within half the time of drying it and then there are the pickles that I make and then of course mangoes.

The last few days have been terribly hot and that had led to a complete loss of appetite and all I wanted was something refreshing.

Lately my obsession are these Bengal limes called 'Gondhoraj lebu'. All the fragrance which it is famous for is in its skin.

A few weeks back I had bought a couple of these limes and then had forgotten about them for a few days and then one fine day out of no proper reason I used a thin slice of the lime in plain water and the refreshing taste and beautiful aroma was what led to this complete obsession. Since then I have been experimenting with different types of dishes where I might use it. I had started off with a fish poached with gondhoraj slices and even though I used it right at the end there was a mild bitterness.

My friend from France, a trained chef advised me to use the zest alone and then I remembered how most of the bitterness comes from the pith.

My next experiment, Spatchcock Gondhoraj Chicken was cause of complete and utter delight. It was one of those beautiful dishes that I would look back in the future and be proud to have made.

So the bottom line is that I am buying these limes every now and then and then I happened to remember this fantastic cooling and refreshing drink I have had at one of Kolkata's beloved restaurants which serves traditional Bengali food, 6, Ballygunge Place .

Nowadays the mere thought of the aroma of Gondhoraj makes me happy and making a ghol 'a yogurt based thin drink is one of the msot easy things to do'

To me ghol is to Bengal what Lassi is to Punjab except that Lassi is thick creamy and delicious while ghol from the East is absolutely thin so that its consistency is like buttermilk.

Needless to say this was loved by one and all

Makes 2 servings

200ml thick plain curd
300ml ice cold water (as chilled as possible)
Sugar as per taste (I needed 2 tbsp)
Zest of 1 gondhoraj lebu
Tiny pinch of salt

Start by grinding the sugar in a coffee grinder. I have seen that this step makes it easy for the sugar to dissolve in the drink.

Just blend everything together and serve immediately.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Spatchcock 'Gondhoraj' Chicken

Spatchcock 'Gondhoraj' Chicken 

I love chicken roasts for many reasons but my favourite reason is the crisp chicken skin and the soft meat. Of course it is given that I am talking about the legs here. The biggest problem with chicken is cooking its breasts. After numerous and I really mean numerous errors and trials I finally know how to poach a chicken breast keeping it juicy moist and delicious. When it comes to grilling I still haven't mastered the technique where the breast meat stays ultra juicy other than when flattened completely which I believe leads to soft juicy chicken alright but alters the texture a bit.

When it comes to whole roasts or grills you don't have the option but to use the entire chicken. Problem is the breasts again.

Well while each family member demands the legs or wings someone has to eat the breasts. The easiest way to ensure that the breasts stay somewhat juicy is to of course truss the chicken and as is always extremely important and I cannot stress on it enough , resting the chicken breast side up is again very very very useful.

The only roasted chicken where the breasts stayed ultra juicy was when I used Jamie Oliver's Milk roast chicken : Milk Roasted chicken where the chicken is roasted submerged in milk and before that it is seared in hot oil and butter but then I am always looking for a variety of techniques.

Spatchcock chicken is one such technique which had caught my fancy.

Here is a video which had helped me spatchcock my chicken : How to Spatchcock Chicken

Now I seldom use flavours on my own without using a recipe as a base for my dishes but this time I tried it with a few local ingredients and boy was this one of the best flavours for grilled chicken that I have had. I used a particular type of lime we get here in Bengal called 'Gondhoraj Lebu' which is mostly used for its aroma and it added a delightful flavour indeed.

Basically spatchocking it makes it easy to grill and gives it a lovely crispy exterior. I used the oven for grilling. It had a beautiful flavour and a delightful crispy exterior.

So here goes the recipe :

Serves 3 to 4

1 whole chicken with skin 1.3 kilogram to 1.5 kilogram

Zest from 1 lime (use the local one available) I used 'gondhoraj lebu'
2 heaped tsp hot sauce (This is one I make at home with equal amounts of garlic and dried red chili and enough apple cider vinegar or any other vinegar to make a smooth paste)
2 tbsp Olive Oil (Again I took full advantage of the oppressive summers of India and sun dried kilos of tomato and stored them in extra virgin olive oil and used 2 tbsp of that oil for extra flavour)
Salt as per taste (I needed around 1 tbsp)

Clean, wash dry and then Spatchcock the chicken . Rub the chicken with salt making sure you massage it under the wings and everywhere and then massage it with the oil. Add the zest from the lime and then the chili garlic paste . At this point if your skin is very sensitive or the thought of your hands burning for a while puts you off use disposable gloves.

Let the chicken marinate for a good 4 hours or more and then put it on a rack and preheat oven using grill mode and then grill the chicken for 40 minutes or so till the skin is browned well.

I would suggest using a grilling tray or an iron skillet.

Remember to turn it after 10 minutes and turn it back after 20 minutes of grilling. Keep basting with  the marinate every 7 minutes or so.

Its every bit juicy and succulent but remember to definitely let it rest for a good 20 minutes after its cooked.

I used a grilling tray for grilling which had some dripping left over and I used a bit of warm water to collect the delightful juices and it made an amazing jus to go with my roast.

 In case you are reheating the chicken put it in the microwave for a mere 2 minutes and you must let it rest for a good 16 minutes or more else the chicken breast will be dry chewy and disgusting

Monday, May 4, 2015

Strawberry Sorbet

Strawberry Sorbet

Everybody knows that Strawberry is not really a tropical fruit. To be fair 15 years ago it was quite unheard of in India expect for a few hilly areas. 15 years ago I was quite young as well. Anyway the point is ever since the craze of strawberries has hit India we enjoy these lovely tart fruits all throughout the winter season.

In Kolkata we mostly get out share of strawberries from Nepal for the ones which are of a better quality and then there are the ones from Maharasthra but its not during the summers that we enjoy these delicious red fruits but its the winter season when we enjoy them .

 It usually lasts from end of November till about the beginning of March but then when someone from the Western hemisphere asked for ideas to use up her freshly picked strawberries I suddenly remembered this delicious Strawberry sorbet I had made this February. To be fair the winters are just about pleasant in Calcutta and so during the winters sorbets and ice-creams are much loved in my house as it is during any other season.

I have tried making sorbet with different fruits following different recipes but never have they turned out this good. This was following Larousse's recipe and it was lip smacking good. Its easy to make and all you need is a whisk and the freezer compartment of your refrigerator along with an air-tight container.

Recipe Source : Adapted from Larousse Gastronomique

What you need :-

500gm of fresh juicy strawberry
150gm caster sugar
Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Wash and hull the strawberries and macerate with the sugar and lemon juice and wait overnight before you blend it to make a smooth mixture. Freeze it till just about frozen. it took me 2 hours or so and scoop out and enjoy this refreshing sorbet.

Important tip :-

To avoid ice crystals eat it just after it has frozen. it if over freezes you then get your ice crystals.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cheddar lamb brioche

Cheddar lamb brioche 

Some dishes are made simply because of leftovers and sometimes it so happens that the dish which is made as a result of leftovers turn out even better than the original dish.

Such is the case with this lamb cheddar brioche. I had a slumber party where Urni , Tori and I watched Bridget Jones Diary followed by a Wes Anderson movie while we enjoyed my homemade stuffed pasta  and then there was the roast leg of lamb which was full of flavour but it was too much of meat for all of us including my parents so I had a ton of leftover meat. The roast was amde with minimum flavouring so by the next day it had this amazing flavour of meat but there was little interference from any other flavouring so I had a number of options when I suddenly realized some rich brioche stuffed lamb with a bit of cheddar would work out really well to make a happy Sunday.

Basically I had made these chocolate filled brioche Brioche au Chocolat  last August and it was met with considerable appreciation hence I stuck tot he dough left out the sugar since these were savoury brioche and my Suunday started on a very very happy note.

If you do not have leftover lamb meat you can always use lamb mince

Makes 10 brioche buns

For the brioche dough :-

250gm all purpose flour
90gm unsalted butter
3 small eggs
5 gm salt (In case you use salted butter leave out the salt)
15gm fresh yeast

Proof your yeast with a pinch of sugar and 2 tsp lukewarm water. If it becomes frothy in 10 minutes it is good to be used. Make a dough with all the ingredients and leave it rise overnight in the refrigerator.

Filling :-

Cup holds 210ml liquid

140gm mild cheddar cheese (You can also use sharp cheddar cheese)
2.5 cups of lamb cubes which are minced well or 2.5 cups of raw lamb mince which would roughly be 100gm to 150gm meat
1 heaped tsp finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
Butter to saute the meat in
1 tsp black peppercorn crushed well to a powder

Yolk from 1 egg to brush the buns

The next day if using leftover meat mince it heat the butter till it foams but does not brown and add the meat and then the garlic and the vinegar keep stirring till the beautiful smell of garlic fills your kitchen and add the thyme and black pepper and then keep aside.

If you are using raw lamb mince. Heat the butter and add the meat and the garlic , vinegar and salt and then cook on low heat stirring every now and then and sprinkling a bit of water if required till it cooks through.

Take the risen brioche dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 10 equal parts and spread out each part gently with your fingers making sure you do not tear the dough on a floured work board and put some chopped cheddar and lamb in the center and seal from all sides and shape it into a round ball and let all these balls proof on a tray which will go straight in the oven and has been brushed with clarified butter and floured.

Your time for proofing will depend on the temperature where you stay. I stay in a tropical country and it being the summers it took me 1 hour.  Finally brush the buns with egg yolk which you have whisked with a fork.

Preheat oven to 180C and bake for 20 minutes and then turn down the heat to 160C and bake for another 10 minutes till the brioche reaches a brownish colour and then cool for 5 minutes in the tray and then transfer to a rack and cool down completely and enjoy these delightful buttery rich meaty cheesy buns.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Good Food Anywhere in Kolkata (Hungerz)

Good Food Anywhere in Kolkata (Hungerz) 

It was an evening when the winter rains drizzled all over Kolkata leaving it a muddy mess on a cold day and I was swamped with work with no time to enter the kitchen. I was craving a certain bowl of soup from a certain restaurant but knew that they would have never delivered to my place since it was 4 kilometers away from where I live and as far I know the restaurant does not deliver to any place at all. I was unwillingly thinking of ordering in from the nearby Chinese joint which I am not particularly fond of when I remembered a friend talking about her friend who ordered in from this same restaurant through some service and her house is a good 7 kilometers away from the restaurant in question.

Thanks to Google I got hold of Hungerz and gave them a call to clarify about their service. Here is what ensured . I got a bowl of the soup I was craving in less time than the service itself had promised, it was piping hot and  that day I came to know that from now on any food no minimum order applies is at the tip of a phone call to this service provider.

Over the last 5 months I have ordered in quite a number of times from any restaurant of my choice and each time I have loved the service more and more for little things. Let's take the last time I had ordered in . Even before I placed the order they had told me that they were in a bit of a packed situation and I would get by order within so and so time. Now not only was I impressed that they had warned me about the delay they delivered within the time they had promised.

So when Pallavi from their marketing team asked me if I would share my experience with my readers I was more than happy to do it.

Now nothing in life is for free so this fabulous service does come with a reasonable service charge. Now value for money is a subjective phrase but at the same time let's see why this should mostly be value for money.

Take a look at their website and you shall see a number of restaurants which have partnered with this service and if you order in from these restaurants you pay Rs100 and for any non partner restaurants you pay Rs199.

Why I feel its value for money is because firstly they deliver to you from any place within 8 kilometers of you house, no minimum costs apply which for me is what I look for. There are many hole in wall joints which makes some amazing food but let's say its neither within walking distance nor a place where you would ideally visit after dark and these guys get your chose of food right at your door step even if its 7 kilometers away. When you want all these luxuries surely this price is not a big deal. Not just that even if you do travel you do pay a price for traveling and here all you do is give them a call.

They operate within 10 kilometers on either side of Park Street and in the Salt area and like I have mentioned before the restaurant must be within 8 kilometers of where you want your piping hot to be delivered.

The point is you could be in your pajamas wanting ice-cream while watching that movie and would just not want to get your car out or worse face the ever naysayer taxi driver who does not want to take you to your choice of destination or call a car service provider all you have to do is contact Hungerz and within a tiem frame you have ice-cream right at your doorstep or for that matter Pizza from any restaurant within or Chinese food or rather any food that you crave from any restaurant.

Check out their website Hungerz