Friday, September 2, 2016

Bolognese sauce

Bolognese Sauce 

There are some ordinary days which become really special with just about some ordinary activities. Sometimes its a long walk among the oak trees, sometimes its meeting a girlfriend over coffee which turns into a 4 hour chat session and then there are days when you make a classic roasted chicken or make bolognese sauce from scratch like today.

I followed 's recipe and boy oh boy do I  recommend it. You do need a good 3 hours to make the sauce but its totally worth it.

Ingredients required

500gm beef mince (I used extra lean beef because I am kind of trying to eat healthy but I recommend the normal mince since a bit of fat adds a lot more flavour)
1 kg ripe tomatoes blanced and made into a paste
1 small carrot
1 stick of celery
1 small onion
1 leaf of fresh rosemary
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt as per taste
Freshly ground black pepper as per taste
100ml red wine

Start by making sure your meat is absolutely defrosted if you have frozen the mincemeat from before. Its best to buy fresh mince the day you make the sauce.
Finely mince the carrot , onion and celery
Heat the oil and saute the finely minced carrot, celery and onion on low heat till its golden brown. Add the beef mince and saute till it browns and then add salt, freshly crushed pepper and the wine. Cook till the wine evaporates and then add the tomatoes and cook on low heat for 2.5 hours to 3 hours.

This sauce can be used for a number of dishes. Enjoy over some freshly cooked spaghetti or make a lasagna.

With a vegetarian husband I used a portion for myself to enjoy with wholewheat spaghetti and froze the rest to make a lasagna in the future.

P.S. When searching for recipes I found that most Italian ones use bacon fat along with olive oil but I skipped it to make it healthy but I would highly recommend using it since we all know a little fat adds a lot of flavour. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mincemeat Samosas aka Mangsher Singara

Mincemeat Samosas aka Mangsher Singara 

I remember the first time I had read about Mincemeat samosas. This was before I read about how samosas the beloved triangular deep fried snack had originally been an import from Turkey. Anyway it was in one of the short stories I was reading where the protagonist tried making a living out of selling meat filled samosas. Frankly speaking I was never a fan of the potato filled samosas. I didnt mind the winter time delight of cauliflower and potato filled ones but yes I would much prefer some other snack.

The first time I tried my hands on it was when I first met my friend P. I do have a lot of friends whose names begin with P but this was the first time I invited someone over and our sole initial connection had been food blogging.

Anyway that was what like 2 years ago. So much has changed since then . Well anyway P got married last year and moved to Bangalore and I went to Stellenbosch , came back and am going again. Frankly I miss P in our city.

Anyway one fine day I realized I have just over a month left in Calcutta and so I wanted to cook. Initially it was going to be roasted chicken and then I thought that it was a day for some meat filled deep fried samosas.

Now I know most people steer clear from ghee all in favour of refined oil. I dont get it. If its deep fried its anyway junk so to me the point of frying in refined oil over clarified butter or a more flavourful oil such as peanut oil , sesame oil or mustard oil seems quite pointless. You want to eat healthy have some salad, smoothie, limited quantity of rice with vegetables and fish or steamed chicken but when you are indulging perhaps indulging the right way is the best way.

Look I know in the world of blogging most people go crazy over measurements but I say go with your own flow. And believe me if the old bengali cookbooks are any indication then you would do the same. I mean we all have different taste buds. I will give a rough estimate of what I used but I say believe in your instinct.

This makes about 8 large samosas or 12 to 14 medium sized one

For the filling :-

400-gm mincemeat (lamb or goat and I dont see why you cant use beef. here is a tip , ask your butcher to make a mince is such a way that it includes both meat and fat)
Approximately 2 tsp thick garlic paste
Approximately 2 tsp thick ginger paste
1 medium onion minced
7 to 8 green chilies minced well
Dash of lemon juice

For the spice mixture
2 to 3 green cardamom
1 inch cinnamon
3 to 4 cloves
1 blade of mace
1 large bay leaf

2 tbsp clarified butter

For the dough :-
Roughly 2.5 cups of all purpose flour
2 tbsp solid clarified butter
1 cup cold water

4 tbsp solid clarified butter
Mustard Oil

Green chutney
A handful of mint leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
2 to 3 green chili
Lemon juice
Rock salt
Pinch of roasted ground cumin powder

Heat the 2 tbsp ghee and add the minced onion and fry till its lightly browned and then add the ginger paste and garlic paste and then the mincemeat and fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes and add the ground spice and cook will the oil leaves the side of the pan, add the lemon juice and keep aside.

In the meantime make your dough and rest.

Once the mincemeat filling cools down, take little balls from the dough roll them out a bit fill with mincemeat and join with your fingers.

Heat up mustard oil and ghee and fry on medium heat to low heat. The trick to making good samosas is controlling the temperature. So when the samosa goes in the oil it must be really hot and then you have to lower the temperature and increase it and adjust the heat.

Tip - When rolling out the balls of dough for filling wiht the mincemeat try making them a bit thin but not too thin. If its too thick the insides remain uncooked and if its too thin chances are the mincemeat might poke through.

Serve hot with the chutney

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Chili Mustard Chicken

Chili Mustard Chicken 

Meeting the right kind of people makes you confident, it makes you strive for betterment and you learn so much more than you had expected to. Meeting the wrong kind of people can have the exact opposite effect. The right kind of people have indirectly inspired me to start my own sourdough starter , open up my mind, experiment and be happy.

I blog because thats the way I express myself. I try to hold on to the fleeting moments of joy and pen them down, most of the times I fail but the strange thing is every time I haphazardly look up a post written long ago I remember every moment of the day, my feelings what led me to write the post.

During my initial days of blogging I was stunned with what I had experienced. A world where photographs rule over the very essence of food. Dont get me wrong I love good photographs but this insane obsession with photographing over learning about food made me feel alone till I met the right group of people whose interest in food transcends beyond fabulous photographs. Some of them take beautiful photographs but the main subject is all about food.

I had , well I still have a basic point and shoot camera which my husband forced me to buy and recently I cannot even find its chord to download the photographs to my computer.

Anyway the joys of seeing that my 2 month old neglected starter is alive completely makes up for the loss of the cord.

So I made a caramelized onion and black pepper sourdough bread. I am  a novice when it comes to sourdough bread so if you want to make your own sourdough bread I suggest you look up the internet. There are plenty of posts which would guide you in the right direction.

Then I thought I needed something to go with my bread. Ideally I would have preferred a dry spicy mutton dish but since we had mutton just last Saturday I went with what I call a mild fiery mustard chili chicken.

Its one of the most basic recipes, minimum ingredients and a quick fix. Where did I learn it, ah well nowhere it draws heavily from the Bengali style of cooking

Anyway it serves 2

You need :-
450gm chicken chopped in medium sized pieces  (preferably thing and leg pieces )
2 to 3 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
10 to 12 green chili (the hot variant is what I used)
A pinch of black cumin seeds aka nigella seeds
Salt as per taste
2 tbsp mustard oil

Make a smooth paste of mustard and green chili with water  .Heat the mustard oil, when the foam appears add the nigella seeds and when they splutter add the chicken and seal the juices and lower heat. Strain the mustard and chili mixture and add it tot he chicken. The best way is to add a bit of water and extract all of it . Straining is a must else the gravy turns bitter. Simmer on lowest heat possible for 10 minutes and serve with hot steaming rice or in my case some rustic homemade sourdough caramelized sourdough bread.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake 

In the past few months every time I sit down to write a post I inevitably end up questioning myself if its worth it to blog than do something else. The last time I sat down I was in one of the most beautiful towns that I have ever been in my life. A quaint little University town in the Western Cape of South Africa but then I looked out the glass window and I wanted to take a long walk and I did exactly that.

Frankly speaking in a world where photograph trumps everything else in the world of blogging at times I feel a bit discouraged to blog. Truth is I cook and bake. I cannot feign interest in photography plus honestly I enjoy the part where I plan, shop , cook and serve. 

Freshly brewed coffee, long walks , a well made pastry and by that I mean a filling of fresh cream (not the non dairy nonsene) have always been sources of constant joy for me and recently a pack of Dunhill or Marlboro makes my day with some strong coffee. 

Ideally when I am happy and cook a dish I mostly forget to click pictures but in Kolkata there is hardly anything else to do than work, read and click pictures of the dishes which I make. Long walks are out of the question what with the terrible heat, overpopulated streets and the high level of pollution. There are no mountains to drive off to and the orange red autumn leaves make me miss Stellenbosch pretty bad. 

Then I remembered this chocolate cake and a promise made to myself and I cheered up a bit. Frankly its one of my favourite chocolate cakes. A pure chocolaty cake for which I follow Larousse's recipe along with some ganache makes it the chocolate cake of my dreams 

To begin with you need a 7 to 8  inch round pan no more no less 

For the cake :-
3 eggs 
125gm caster sugar 
125gm all purpose flour 
150gm dark chocolate (I use 70% dark) 
4 tbsp milk 
125gm butter at room temperature 

For the ganache :-
100gm dark chocolate 
200ml double cream or single cream (In India you dont get double dairy cream so I usually use the one we get with 25% fat) 

Preheat the oven to 180C for 10 minutes. 

Grease and dust your pan with flour. 

Separate the eggs. Heat the milk and chopped chocolate together to form a smooth mixture. Take the yolks and the sugar in a steel bowl and use the bain marie method to gentle heat the yolks and sugar but make sure you dont scramble the eggs all the while whipping them vigorously. It will become pale , light and fluffy. 

Whip the softened butter and chocolate and quickly add the yolk sugar mixture and fold in the flour. Pour it in your prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes to 40 minutes.
Depending on the oven it can even take you upto 60 minutes. So take the cake out at 40 minutes and do the toothpick test. If the toothpick comes out clean you are done else it needs to bake a bit more but keep a sharp eye on the oven so that you dont over-bake the cake. 

Let the cake cool down overnight. 

Using the bain marie method heat the cream, add chopped chocolate and whip till fluffy . Cut the cake horizontally and fill it some of the ganache and then top the cake with the rest of the ganache and serve with coffee. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pistachio Rose Biscuits

Pistachio Rose Biscuits 

I like my biscuits crumbly, crisp and buttery. Period. So I took sometime writing this recipe down because I was wasn't quite satisfied till my third batch. Thats right, turns out I was using more sugar than required. So if you had these cookies right after they cool down they seemed fine but with extra sugar it was becoming moist enough to loose that crisp texture that I prefer.

I had somehow mixed up the ingredients and so I finally consulted my Larouuse (my go to book at all times) and realized my mistake.

The first batch of cookies 

Makes 10 biscuits

50-gram chilled butter
100 gram all purpose flour
25 gram caster sugar
30-gram whole pistachios to 50-gram pistachios
1 whole green cardamom
Fat pinch of dried rose leaves

Its actually very simple. Blanch the pistachios and skin them and drain and chop.
Then you chill the butter and chop it up. Mix it with the flour and  sugar along with 3/4th of the chopped pistachios, the green cardamom dry roasted and pounded till powdery and the dried rose petals. Make your dough and shape it in a cylindrical shape. Chill for an hour and then make 10 balls from the cylindrical dough and flatten them a little bit and decorate with the remaining chopped pistachios and then take your baking sheet and use a parchment paper on it and line the biscuits and chill for another half an hour.

Preheat oven at 160C for 10 minutes. Bake for 40 minutes to 60 minutes at 160C. Check after 40 minutes and if you see that they are starting to brown too much they should be immediately taken out. Ideally they should have a golden colour. Cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Double chocolate chip cake

Double chocolate chip cake 

Sometimes a simple conversation gets me all excited about writing a blog post. Well frankly speaking,when I made this cake last year I had firmly decided that I was not going to make yet another post on perfect chocolate cake since I had blatantly announced in the past about how I had found my perfect chocolate cake way back in 2014 and then a different recipe in the beginning of 2015, another recipe mid 2015 and so no so forth.

Anyway like I said the most unexpected experiences ,whether a simple conversation or a sudden meeting or just reminiscence of certain feelings can change my want to write about my experience.

This cake is for days when I feel sad and  lonely or days when I feel happy. This was made on a day when I felt confused and I dont know if it was the cake but I finally decided that I need a solo trip outside the country. I mean I did take my first solo trip last year but a) it was in India b) Not to mention it was probably the safest place I could go to where I have gone a thousand times. c) I loved that solo trip hence this year it shall be my first solo trip. Note to self ;Stop buying MAC lipsticks , stop browsing those clothes on Jabong and Myntra, stop wanting that dutch oven . Ok I need that  dutch oven but I have got to stop buying clothes and makeup.

I made this cake yet again last week and the bestie and I enjoyed the slices.

Its simple its fluffy, light yet firm enough to qualify as a coffee cake and is dark , not too sweet and is tender and yes it has butter , not vegetable oil or olive oil but good old butter and some milk thrown in for good measure. The thing is I do not like frosting with these butter based coffee cakes or tea cakes it makes the entire cake way too heavy but then I didn't want the cake to be completely plain so in went some chocolate chips and I had my rich dark double chocolate chip cake.

So basically here is how you make this basic cake :-

Makes 6 servings (Approximately 350 calories per slice )

120 gram sifted all purpose flour
40-gram Dutch cocoa powder (I use the brand Hintz) you can use anything you want
130-gram caster sugar
100-gram butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50-ml Full cream milk
80-gram dark chocolate chips (I used one with 70% cocoa content)
2 medium sized eggs

Extra butter and flour for preparing the pan

Before you start off make sure the butter is at room temperature and I mean at room temperature. If you have forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge the only option is to wait till it becomes soft at room temperature. Please do not try to microwave it to soften the butter.

Preheat the oven to 170C for 10 minutes to 12 minutes.

Prepare your 6 inch pan by greasing it and then using flour to coat the surface tap out any extra flour.

Cream the butter with the sugar till its light and fluffy. I use a hand held non electronic whisk and it works beautifully. Hardly takes 3 minutes to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one by one whisking the mixture vigorously each time you add an egg.

Now sift the flour, cocoa powder , baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Use a wooden spoon to gently fold in about 1/2 the dry mixture with the wet mixture and then slowly fold in the rest of the dry mixture. In the end add the milk bit by bit and fold it in quickly. Add  3/4th of the chocolate chips and fold that in and sprinkle the remaining on top once you transfer the mixture to the pan. It is crucial that you fold in the flour and not whisk it in if you want the cake to be fluffy and soft.

Pour it in the pan and bake for 45 minutes to about an hour. I use a 52 litre  OTG by Morphy Richards and it took me about 50 minutes. Once a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean your cake is done.

  1. Important points if you want a fluffy light moist cake as opposed to dense and gummy 1. Always fold in your dry ingredients with a light yet firm hand . Use a wooden spoon with a broad head.
  2. The size of your pan plays a crucial factor in how much the cake rises. Here is an easy tip which I picked up quite a long time ago. The batter must reach 3/4h the length of the pan. Any less and your cake will be flat anymore and it spills over the edges dirtying not to mention wasting batter. 
  3. The batter must go in as soon as it is done. So preheat the oven and quickly make the batter. This isnt the time for multitasking so concentrate and plan ahead. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Treat for your Taste Buds from Down South at Park Plaza's K-19

A Treat for your Taste Buds from Down South 

at Park Plaza's K-19 

As I browsed through the menus of multiple restaurants of Kolkata one fine Saturday, all I could think was it was the 'same old, same old' food.

Just as I was about to give up on going out for the same old offerings Debapriya from Candid communications informed me about a delightful festival being hosted at Park Plaza's K-19.

My first reaction to the South Indian Food Festival was a mixture of apprehension and inquisitiveness at the same time. You see as a food enthusiast in today's world it is probably a culinary sin to not know that the cuisine beyond the Vindhyas has much more to offer than the usual 'Idli. Dosa, Rasam' Besides there are 4 states with distinctive dishes and I wondered what Park Plaza was offering its guests.

A little chit chat with the general manager, Mr. Avneesh K Mathur,  started off the afternoon on a very positive note. His idea of bringing cuisines from different states of our country to Kolkata sounded delightful.

Vasantha Neer

As I took a sip of the Vasantha Neer a delightful concoction of tender coconut water, mint and honey I could not but appreciate the soothing effect it had what with the temperature already on the rise in Kolkata.

We were soon served the Karuvembu Annasi, a pineapple based salad with a hint of curry leaves , spices and pomegranate which not only works wonderfully well as an appetizer but is the perfect salad to dig in on a hot summer's day.

Over the next hour or so we were served one course after the other and quite honestly it is immensely difficult to suggest one dish over the other.

For me, the Kohzi Varuval, a fiery hot chicken preparation stood out due to its spicy taste and succulent juicy texture. You see not many restaurants get the perfect texture of chicken breasts. Overcooked even slightly juicy succulent chicken breast can become dry and chewy . Well not here sir, here every piece was juicy and succulent. I wouldn't suggest it for people who do not enjoy hot fiery food.

Mr. Mathur had rightly said that a glass of Vodka is the perfect accompaniment with lunch. Well the Kohzi Varuval with a vodka based cocktail would work oh so perfectly for me on any given day of the year.

What I personally loved was how distinctive each dish tasted and a little chit chat with Chef Arokia Das and Janarthanam made me realize the dishes were selected in a way which covered each state from down South.

So while the outstanding tender coconut pudding, Elanner payasam was from Kerala ,the Kohzi Varuval is part of the Chettinad cuisine.

What I loved was how the festival offered Kolkatans a true blue taste of South India. While the diner would be be able to appreciate many many dishes a bit of 'podi' in this case gunpowder mixed with sesame oil and eaten with rice is something that is indeed exclusive and delicious.

The Erachi Thengai Vatthakal , a dry mutton preparation from Kerala with some plain white rice is hard to resist especially if you love mutton.

The lunch had been on offer on A- La-Carte basis from 12:30 p.m. till 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 7:30 p.m. till 10:45 p.m. The dinner buffet is what I would personally suggest was being offered at a reasonable price of Rs1299 plus taxes for adults and Rs799 plus taxes for children.

My only complaint is that this fantastic offering was in our city for a very short time . Well the good news is Park Plaza is planning  to host many more food festivals from different states of our country.

P.S. The rasam on offer was the best that I have had in this city and it would be a great shame to give it a miss in the name of cliche and as I was writing my experience of having had a delightful lunch at Park Plaza my mouth watered at the thought of the Kohzi Varuval.

Keep checking with Park Plaza for such delightful offerings.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Love for Food or Food for Love at Flury's Park Street

Love for Food or Food for Love 

Celebrating love immediately reminds me of a bouquet of red roses followed by some lovely dinner. And imagine sitting under the chandelier , looking at a pretty menu with some fantastic range of options for you and your loved one to choose from at one of Kolkata's much loved restaurant.

Chef Vikas Kumar from Flurys has carefully put together a three course meal for you and your beloved to choose from. Each course has some fantastic offerings and the hardest part is to choose.

I myself cannot decide whether the Roast Peking Duck stuffed in walnut crepes is the ideal start or the Fresh grilled asparagus with of poached eggs. Either way its a fantastic start to a lovely meal to follow.

You have a number of options from the main course to choose from. I went for the Maple glazed grilled Pork Chops and what I loved was how the cut of meat was well balanced when it came to fat and lean meat making the pork chop delicious. The pesto mash was an interesting side which paired wonderfully well with the maple glazed meat.

Of course there is the Spinach and Cottage Cheese 'Au Gratin' from their vegetarian section and then the Chicken ' A La Kiev' which I must say if quite a gigantic portion for one person.

Whats love without a bit of sweetness involved and when there is an optino to choose from it gets even more interesting.

Do drop by this iconic tea room at Park Street for a fantastic meal till the 17th of this month. Priced at Rs1900 for 2 all inclusive this is a superb deal.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Kebabs, Festivities, Fun and Kolkata

Kebabs, festivities , fun and Kolkata 

It was the weekend after the revelry of the weeks of indulgent eating over Christmas and New Year's when my best friend and I lay exhausted on our beds after a week of hard work post the holidays and were thinking of going out when I realized a bit of extra indulgent food and I would soon be like the couch at the corner of the room.

After a lot of thinking we decided that we wanted something grilled and since Kebabs is your answer to the least unhealthy yet completely delicious meal we zeroed in on one of Kolkata's Kebab houses.

A week later when Supreeta invited us over to sample a Kebab festival at The Astor's Kebab- e -Que I knew I would be in for some delightful surprise.

For those of us who have been born and brought up in Kolkata visiting Kebab e Que has  probably been  part of our growing up years.

So its the weekend night yet again and you are feeling lazy and would like to simply sit back and relax over some cocktails and spicy finger food with an old friend or a new friend or a group of buddies or some friendly business . Well! well ! How does a wide range of kebabs with full course dinner all under Rs999 for 2 people sound?

That is exactly what the Great Kebab Theatre at the kebab - e -Que is all about. A whole range of unlimited kebabs with a main course to follow and all for Rs999 for 2 is a deal not to be missed.

If you are busy this weekend then do not worry at all for this festival is being hosted every weekend till the 31st of March.

I would especially recommend the Anarkali Mahi Tikka which  is not quite like the regular kebabs and with its unusual spices and soft flakiness from the fish it definitely is a kebab I would recommend. If some mildly spiced up kebab si what you are craving do try the Murgh Kalmi kebab.
If you are craving one of Kebab e Que's usual regular fare you have the Murgh Chakori kebab. I would say its kebab e Que's signature kebab and is like a old trustworthy friend.

For vegetarians there is the bankable Hara Bhara kebab and a host of other kebabs. The tandoori aloo was spicy and a perfect accompaniment to some much needed chatting over the weekend.

Head over to The Astor's Kebab -e -Que  at 15, Shakespeare Sarani Kolkata -71 on any evening during the weekends till 31st March and do enjoy yourself with some delicious food.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Classic Chocolate Brownie

Classic Chocolate Brownie 

I usually like trying out different recipes for one dish to make sure I hit upon the one which suits my taste buds the best. Once in a blue moon I do come across a recipe which is simply perfect for me. About a week and a half ago I was craving something chocolaty at 11 in the night. Since I anyway knew that my aunts would be coming over the following day I made my big batch of brownie.  While it was baking away to glory I realized that this has always been my go to brownie recipe no matter what and I adore it.

Ever since I followed Katherine Hepburn's recipe for chocolate brownies there has been no looking back. Not only is the lady a superstar on screen , going by her recipe for brownies I am sure she was a superstar in the kitchen as well.

When it comes to brownies there are several variants out there, cake like , fudge like  and even gooey ones. I like mine extra chocolaty, nutty and with a texture which is somewhere between a cross of fudge and cake.

Waiting a day post baking , brings out the best flavour but hey, unlike cake which needs complete cooling , here you might as well slice off a small square right after you take it out of the oven. Its not what is recommended but desperate  craving for chocolaty indulgence calls for desperate measures and that topped with some whipped cream and chocolate sauce can uplift my mood anytime , anywhere.

Adapted from Katherine Hepburn's recipe :-

120gm to 125 gm chocolate 70% dark
200gm butter
150gm sugar to 180gm sugar depending on percentage of chocolate (150gm for 50% dark chocolate)
64gm flour
3 tbsp dutch processed cocoa powder
4 eggs at room temperature
160gm chopped walnuts

Line a square pan with  butter paper. Preheat the oven to 160C

The method is as simple as it can get. Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler. While it is melting, whisk together the eggs and sugar till its fluffy. Once the chocolate butter mixture has melted well mix it and add it to the whisked eggs and sugar and whisk well again till its a homogeneous mixture.

Now mix in the flour, cocoa powder with your wooden spoon . Add the chopped walnuts and mix a bit more with your wooden spoon and then pour the mixture in your lined square pan and bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool it in the pan for 5 minutes and then take it out and cool it on a rack . Wait for it! I know its hard but still do wait and once cool make as many brownie squares as you want and enjoy.