Sunday, January 30, 2011

On home turf...

I quite like the geographical diversity in the last three posts( this one included). One from Far East, Thai Green Curry, one from the West, Pizza so this one had to be from my homeland. A dish prepared quite regularly in my household and relished especially by the adults.

In the East we often combine fish with other green vegetables. The typical Macha Jhola/Fish curry( that is staple diet in most Odiya households) has vegetables like potato, bhindi, brinjal, cauliflower etc. This makes the dish balanced in terms of nutrients, flavorsome in terms of taste and economical on the purse strings(prawns are going at Rs.400/ a kilo and a family of four could happily eat about half a kilo at one go).

Adding fish to lesser mortals like "lau/bottle gourd"(that is the standard perception about vegetables in most non-veg consuming households, a quick disclaimer I love vegetables and eat all of them without exception) gives it a face/place lift and ensures a wider appeal. Most people I know do not like Lau/Bottle gourd but absolutely love the Lau- Chingudi(prawn) combo. The sweet taste of Lau is balanced by the spicier Chingudi/prawn.

Lau Chingudi(Bottle Gourd with prawns)


Prawns/Chingudi: 200 grams(ideally the really small ones though I have used the larger sized ones here by default)
Bottle Gourd/Lau: One medium sized, chopped into cubes
Jeera/Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Tej Pata/Bay leaves: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric/Haldi powder:1/2 tsp
Green chillies:1/2, slit on top
Jeera/cumin powder: 1 tsp
Dhania/Corriander powder: 1 tsp
Green Corriander/Dhania patta: 2/3 tbsps
Oil: 1/2 tsp, ideally mustard oil


This is a dish with very few ingredients. The seasoning needs to be subtle and should not overpower the flavor/taste of the main ingredients namely Lau and Chingudi. Given that prawns are very high in cholesterol try and use it more like a flavoring for the dish.

Add a little bit of salt and turmeric to the prawns and shallow fry them in a Kadai. This should take you only a couple of minutes as prawns cook very quickly. Do not overcook the prawns as they would then turn rubbery. Remove.

Into the same kadai add some jeera, bay leaves, green chillies and saute for a few minutes. Then add the Lau and the rest of the seasoning(salt, sugar, turmeric powder, jeera and dhania powder).

Cover and cook for a few minutes till the Lau softens. Lau will release a lot of water as it cooks so you will need to keep opening the lid a couple of times as it cooks.

Add the cooked prawns, mix well. Cook for a few more minutes.

Garnish with the green corriander.

While making Lau Chingudi try and keep the rest of your menu simple. Maybe plain rice and a moong daal. Provided warmth, coziness and comfort.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Breakfast like a King......

My children could not believe their luck when they woke up this Sunday morning. Breakfast menu was Pizza. The younger one circled around the kitchen counter a couple of times to make sure that it was Pizza indeed!!! Mom agreeing to Pizzas and that too for breakfast. "unbelievable". Then he sat down and watched me layer the Pizzas.

Each one got customized, lots of mushroom for the older one, chilli flakes and olives for my husband, more corn and less mushroom for the younger one and of course some, 'all of the above' kind of Pizzas too. The biggest advantage of making the Pizzas at home, made to order so as sinful or as healthy as you want it to be.

The challenge was to try and minimize the wait time between each round. Started baking only after I had finished layering all the Pizzas. Next placed one Pizza on the hot plate(top of the oven) while another one baked. Then the ready to eat Pizza made it way to the table while the one waiting on top got shoved into the oven. And so it went on till the men declared that they were done. And could I please save the leftovers for their mid meal snack

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and so if you feel like having a Pizza the best time to have it would be in the morning. That way you have the entire day to burn the calories(sorry, if this bit sounds a little preachy, all for a good cause :-))

Breakfast Pizza

Pizza bases: 4(one per person). Make one or two extras which you could microwave later and eat.
Tomatoes: 4/5
Oregano: 4/5 tsp( about 1 tsp per pizza)
Olive oil: 2 tsps
Mushroom: 200 grams, finely sliced
Onions: 2 finely chopped
American sweet corn: About 1 cup, boiled
Sausages: 3/4, cut into thin roundels
Cheddar Cheese: You decide the quantity. My kids sometimes ask for a double cheese Pizza. Grate evenly over each Pizza and watch it melt and bubble all over.
Tobasco sauce: 1 tsp
Tomato Ketchup: 1 tsp

For the base sauce

Blanch and puree about 3/4 tomatoes( chop one tomato fine and save that for the topping).
Heat some olive oil in a kadai, add some garlic to it. Saute for a few minutes(I like the garlic flavoring in my base sauce, you could make it without the garlic too). Then add some seasoning( try the Roopak Oregano seasoning), the pureed tomatoes and simmer. Let the sauce thicken. Then add some Cilantro/Dhania patta. Add about a teaspoon full of tobasco and another teaspoon of regular tomato ketchup. Check the seasoning. You may need to add 1/2 tsp of sugar.

Now to assemble
Spread about 1 tbsp of tomato sauce over the Pizza base. Then add some/all of the toppings. Mushroom, corn, sausage/salami, onion, tomatoes, chilli flakes, sliced olives, dhania patta, chopped garlic, oregano. Final topping of grated cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes.
Serve hot.

Slice each Pizza into four/two(depending on the number of members in your household) so that all of you can enjoy eating it together. That way you also get to sample a little bit of the other one's Pizza. Then wait till the next one arrives.

Playing for Pizza, anyone?

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's for dinner, darling?

Salad/stir fry for the day? What should I cook today?

The eternal question. Ideally something new, something I have not made in a while. The key to make salads interesting is to keep changing most of the ingredients everyday.

As I was going through the motions of deciding on what to cook( this is harder than the actual cooking) I remembered a Sanjeev Kapoor, ' Egg and Lettuce' salad recipe. As a meal accompaniment that would have worked fine but a main meal salad would need to have more "body" and so more ingredients( you cannot possibly have more than one egg per person in your salad). But the combination sounded appetising and I decided to use that as the base and add more ingredients. Some veggies( beans and carrots are always stocked in my refrigerator), some boiled pasta(a handful, should not overpower the veggies, veggies add volume to the salad without adding too many calories) and some sausages( for that wee bit of indulgence).

Now for the dressing. Did not want to use mayonnaise or the olive oil and lime juice combo( think new, think different has to be the mantra). So decided to make a cooked tomato sauce dressing with garlic, fresh basil and Tobasco. In all the combination that I quite hurriedly put together seemed to look good and worked well.

My Thursday Salad
(In the absence of a better name I have decided to name the salads by the day of the week)


Boiled Pasta: About 1 cup
Beans: 4/5 beans cut into two inch long pieces and blanched
Eggs: 2/3 boiled and cut into quartets
Carrots: 1, cut them two inch long pieces( had not initially planned on the carrots but they seemed to contrast so well with the rest of the ingredients, just could not miss out on the photo opportunity- sis would be proud of me)
Tomatoes: 2/3, blanched and pureed
Olive oil: 2 tsp
Oregano seasoning: 1 tsp
Basil leaves: 4/5
Lettuce: 4/5 leaves
Garlic: 4/5 cloves, sliced into thin slivers
Sugar: 1 tsp
Sausage: 2/3 cut into roundels
Tobasco sauce: 1 tsp


For the dressing:Heat some olive oil, saute the garlic. Add the tomato puree, basil leaves, sugar, Tabasco, oregano. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce. Remove from the stove.

Add the boiled pasta, beans and carrots to the tomato sauce. Mix well.

Layer a dish with some lettuce leaves. Add the pasta with vegetables layer. Top with the sausage, boiled eggs and some shredded lettuce. Serve.

I am learning to think beyond the regular garden salad and making some amazing discoveries in the process.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

P.S: I did not get to sample any of it. I ate the leftover Thai Green Curry but then I am not complaining.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ban Thai.....

I am so very excited today. I am uploading the post minutes after making the dish.

My first attempt at making Thai green curry and it has turned out well. I love Thai food. Love the riot of flavors, the texture of the curries, the sweet taste of coconut milk being balanced out by the green/red chillies and lime juice/lemon grass. It also comes very close to Indian coastal food. I am from the Eastern coast of the country where coconut milk/grated coconut is used quite regularly to flavor dishes. I also like the strong sour taste in curries. Thai food makes me feel like it was a cuisine created especially for me.

Last week I watched a cookery show where the host was making a Thai Green curry. I had also read a detailed account of Knife(fellow blogger) making the Thai Green Curry. So, this dish has been on my mind for a while.

My success with Tom Yam soup has also encouraged me to get more experimentative with my cooking. And finally the easy access to ingredients like lemon grass( I now grow it in my garden), galangal, kafir lime leaves etc. And where ingredients were not available some creativity/innovation to the rescue.

I had always thought that the green paste would have some really exotic ingredients and would be difficult to prepare at home. Must be to do with the name. Some internet search, sms exchanges with Knife, encouragement from sis and voila the Thai green curry appeared.

I really enjoyed this one taking shape. As it got close to what was familiar, I started breathing easy. So from feeling terribly nervous at the start of my cooking to becoming almost ecstatic after tasting it. And immense satisfaction after my family had eaten and certified the dish.

Thai Green Curry

Ingredients( a long list but most of the ingredients are easily available at home)

For the green curry paste
Corriander seeds: 1 tsp
Green chillies: 4/5, deseeded. This gives the curry paste a fiery green color and pungent smell. But don't worry the coconut milk and lime juice balances this out. Also the gravy in combination with some rice or boiled noodles tastes just right.
Green corriander:1/2 cup, chopped fine
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Fresh Basil: 2 tbsps
Shallots: 4/5 or about 4/5 tbsps of finely chopped regular onion
Galangal/Thai Ginger: 1 inch piece, chopped fine(you could substitute with regular ginger)
Lemon grass: 2/3 stalks, chopped fine. Save some for the garnish
Kafir lime leaves:4/5

Other ingredients
Soya sauce: 2/3 tsps( or some fish sauce)
Shrimp paste: 2 tbsps( I roasted some dried shrimps and ground them coarsely on my mortar and pestle and added it to the gravy).
Sugar: 1 tsp
Coconut milk: Thin coconut milk about two cups( If using powdered coconut milk, dissolve about 2 tbsps of coconut milk powder in two cups of warm water)
Lime juice: 3/4 tbsps
Chicken: Cut into small pieces( would cook faster and together with the vegetables), about 200 grams
Brinjal: I used a combination of green and purple brinjals(the long ones), so about half of each
Baby corn: 4/5 , cut them into 1 inch long pieces
Mushrooms: 200 grams, quartered.
Oil: 1 tsp


Grind together all the ingredients for the green curry paste.

Heat a wok/kadai. Add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the green curry paste and saute for a few minutes.

Then add the coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, soya sauce, shrimp paste and mix well.

And the chicken and all the vegetables. I love my thai curry with a lot of vegetables but you could halve the quantity if you prefer to have more chicken in your gravy.

Allow the vegetables to cook in the gravy, simmer for about 10 minutes.

Do check the seasoning. Like most Thai food there is a fusion of flavors but it is very important that they balance out. So add sugar/salt, lime juice as necessary.

Serve with some boiled rice or boiled noodles.

Yumm! This one is sure to make an appearance at meal times with regular frequency. Eyes down for Thai red and yellow curries.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

P.S: Thanks Knife for patiently answering all my queries.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weaving magic around the table......

Growing up in small town India was a lot of fun. You walked to school, your school friends were also your neighbors, you cycled on high streets(read main roads) without a care in the World, you created your own games, your dolls had names other than Barbie and the doll's wardrobe was courtesy your Mom. You also had lots and lots of unexpected guests. This was the pre- mobile phone era where even the penetration of landlines/STD booths was abysmally low. Guests would many a times drop in out of the blue and close to meal times. But Mom had a way of tackling these situations. She stayed calm and before we knew almost like a magician she would have added several more dishes to the daal- chawal menu. Her invisible wand produced the most delicious papads, pickles, chutneys, salads and raitas. Some/all of this on the table made it appear a lot more elaborate than it was initially intended to be.

When it came to raitas, the cucumber with tomato and onion was most common. However if there was less time or Mom decided to use the cucumber- tomato combo for the salad, then it would be dahi boondi as raita.

Accompaniments do play a big part in Indian cuisine. They help spice up the food, break the monotony of everyday menus and add immensely in terms of taste/flavor. All of this without too much additional time/effort.

Dahi Baigan(Brinjal in yoghurt) is a traditional Odiya dish, classified as raita/relish. It is a regular meal accompaniment in most Odiya households especially in the hot summer months. The brinjal and yoghurt combination gives it a really unusual taste and flavor.

Dahi Baigan

Brinjal: 2 medium sized brinjal( choose the bharta baigans as these do not have too many seeds)
Curd: 400 grams
Curry leaves: 10
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Corriander leaves: 1 tbsp
Sugar:1/4 tsp
Salt: To taste
Oil: 2 tsps


Cut the brinjal into length wise quarters (2 inch long pieces). Leave the skin on. Smear some salt and turmeric over it. Leave for a few minutes.

Heat the oil and shallow fry the brinjals till done. Keep them aside and allow them to cool.

Next, whip the curd with sugar and salt. Add the fried brinjal pieces to it.

Heat the kadai( use the same one on which you have fried the brinjals), fry curry leaves, mustard seeds and green chillies. Season the curd with the same.

Garnish with chopper corriander.

Note: It is important to keep the proportion of Brinjal to less than half of the quantity of curd.

You can make an easy dip with the leftover dahi baigan. Remove the baigan pieces, mash it in a blender/mixie. Add it back to the whipped curd. Sprinkle some chat masala. Use this to top plain crackers or serve it along with some potato chips.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things.......

My initiation into the movie 'Sound of music' was through its songs. We had a record player back home and listened to the songs/heard the movie story, years before we actually got to see the movie.

I have watched the movie at least a dozen times since, at various life-stages. Love all the songs. They do bring back a lot of childhood memories..sixth floor apartment( in small town India we referred to them as flats) facing the sea, lovely sea breeze, curtains billowing and happy "us".

My favorites have changed over the years though. "Doe re me" when I was a little girl, " I am sixteen" during my teen aged years, " I have confidence in sunshine" sang this one in the shower before every exam, Edeilweiss when I felt pensive/melancholic. The only exception has been the song "Girls in white favorite things" which has made me happy each time I have listened to it. Julie Andrew's enthusiasm is definitely infectious. You just can't listen to this song and remain sad.

Now that I am into serious cooking and active blogging. Here are some of my favorite "food things":
  • Home cooked meals:warm, nourishing, comfort food
  • Cooking with leftovers. Half your job is already done when you start cooking. Rehashing last night's Moussaka into Spaghetti bolognese, Chicken curry into a Sandwich stuffing or Rajma into a saucy dip gives me an instant high.
  • One dish meals: Quick, easy and nutritious. From everyday khichdis to exotic khao suey
  • The smell of baking: rich warm smell of vanilla and chocolate combined, uplifts the mood
  • Using soups to thicken gravies: good way to reuse soups. This one probably qualifies as cooking with leftovers
  • Fresh green salads: They look so colourful and appetising. Red( Bell pepper and cherry tomatoes), yellow(corn), shades of green( bell pepper, beans, cucumber, lettuce), orange(carrots)
  • No oil cooking: that is some guilt free indulgence
  • Pizzas: watching my children wait eagerly for the Pizza to bake and then devouring them, priceless
  • Food disguises that help you sneak a lot of veggies in: burgers, sandwiches
  • Dishes with exotic names: instant appeal
  • Soups on a cold winter day
When it comes to soups, Tom Yam is my favorite. The soup is characterized by its distinctive hot and sour taste and the fragrant smell of lemon grass. Until recently I used to either have this soup at restaurants or use a ready mix to prepare. This winter after a few attempts I seem to have come close to perfecting the taste( or so say my family who are very generous with their compliments).

Tom Yam Soup


Chicken stock: 4/5 cups(Prepare the chicken stock by pressure cooking 4/5 boney pieces of chicken with a quartered onion and some whole pepper. Strain.)
Lemon grass: 2/3 stalks( I now have a lemon grass plant and the fresh lemon grass gives the soup its characteristic smell/taste)
Lime juice: 2/3 tablespoons
Mushrooms: 5/6, sliced really thin
Galangal( Thai ginger): 1 inch, cut into small pieces( was thrilled to find it in a store, you could also substitute with regular ginger which is more pungent)
Boiled Shredded chicken or boiled prawns: 1/2 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
Chilli flakes: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/4 tsp


Put the stock back on the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients to it and let it boil. Then simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve hot.

The soup has a hot and sour taste with citrus overtones. It is simply Yumm!

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

He is a growing boy....look how he is shooting up.....

Cooking for 'growing boys' is challenging(to put it mildly). They are forever hungry and want something interesting to eat. Unless you can match their pace you will have them reaching for junk.

While Burgers get classified as junk food, it is quite simple to convert that into a healthy, wholesome anytime meal. Buy good quality wholewheat buns, stuff with vegetable cutlets( tons of veggies, a little bit of oil) and there you go.

It works as a one dish meal and you could team it with a soup/fresh juice depending on the time of the day and season of the year.

Veggie Burger

Ingredients(Makes four burgers)

Burger Buns: 2 per person ( if you have boys budget for a few more)
Potatoes: 2/3 large sized, boiled
Mixed vegetables: 1 cup( finely chop carrots, beans and boil them along with some green peas)
Paneer: 100 grams, grated
Bread: 1/2 slices
Pepper: 1 tsp
Jeera powder: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Cheese slice(optional): One per burger
Mayonnaise(optional): 1 tsp per burger


To make the cutlet

Mash the potatoes, add the boiled vegetables, grated paneer, salt, pepper, jeera powder, bread slices and mix well to make a firm dough.

Shape the dough into big, round balls and then flatten them. They need to be the size( in terms of their diameter, pardon the technical jargon) of the buns that you plan to use.

Putting it all together

Halve the burger buns( horizontally). The ones I bought today had already been halved( some clever thinking I must say). Toast them lightly. You could spread some mayo on them(optional), layer a slice of cheese over the lower half(again optional, most kids love it), place the cutlet over it. Cover with the other half of the bun.

Serve with some tomato ketchup.

We had ours for dinner along with a salad and some soup.

Burger also makes a good lunch box option. Kids are quite happy eating it cold. My suggestion would be to skip the cheese slice else you would end up with a gooey mess. Make the cutlet from the night before so that all of you have to do is assemble the burger in the morning.

A good way to sneak a lot of vegetables in. Looks delicious and easy finger food( even your five year old can polish it in a jiffy).

You could keep varying the filling: aloo tikki( potato cutlets) one day, chicken nuggets on another, mince chops the third time etc.

Just about anything can be mashed into a cutlet( even leftover rajma mixed with some boiled potatoes) and turned into a burger. As long as you stay with the burger disguise, kids are sure to love it.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

P.S: The ketchup art is courtesy my older son. Cooking with kids is even more fun than cooking for kids. Cheers!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Et tu Brutus.....

"Et tu?" my foodie friend asks. Her tone clearly accusing me of betrayal. Yes, me too I answer.

Her surprise/dismay was on being told that I too had joined the group of weight watchers/health watchers who ate a light dinner. And that my dinner these days( on most weekdays) typically comprised of salads/stir fry/soup. She of course assumed that by doing so I was going to miss out on all the excitement/fun centered around food. And that I had resigned myself to a 'ghaas-phoos'(read tomato and cucumber salad) existence. She couldn't have been farther from the truth. Dinner times are actually getting better. I rummage through recipe books/blogs for interesting salad recipes. I reproduce leaner and easier to make versions of the same. The salads are different, interesting and the dressing is usually light. Even when I use mayonnaise I make it thinner by adding some milk to it. Lime juice, olive oil and oregano makes for a nice flavoring.

I seem to have misplaced my Tarla Dala book of soups and salads. In this books she provides alternate dressing for the same salad. There are a total of about fifteen types of dressing and you can mix n match( go beyond her recommended set) to make different salads. In some ways I am glad I cannot locate the book, it is helping me discover new salads/dressings each day.

The other inspiration for the title of this post is the salad below. The chicken version is more popular. What I like about it is the mix of ingredients and flavors. But then isn't that true about most salads.

Tuna Caeser's Salad


Tuna: About 400 grams of Tuna. Choose the regular one in brine
Lettuce: A bundle( four to five big leaves)
Onions: 1/2 chopped fine
Tomatoes: De- seed and chop fine( You can always add the pulp to another gravy dish)
Bread: Toast and then chop into small pieces to make the croutons
Mayonnaise: 2 tbsps
Olive Oil: 2 tbsps
Lime juice: 2 tbsps
Oregano seasoning: 1 tsp( I use the Roopak brand which comes mixed with carway seeds and other seasoning)
Parmesean Cheese(optional): 1/2 tsps of grated cheese


Prepare a dressing of mayo, olive oil, lime juice and oregano. Toss in the tuna, onions, tomatoes and shredded lettuce. If using cheese add it at this stage. Add the bread croutons. Toss well.
Serve immediately.

This is a meal by itself. You could at best combine it with a clear soup.

Lettuce gives this salad a fresh, light feel and a crunchy taste. If using lettuce that has been stored in the refrigerator for a day, refresh in ice cold water to which a few drops of vinegar has been added.

You could also add some finely shredded cabbage and some boiled eggs to the salad.

"Breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a Pauper". Hope that works for me. Watch this space for more salad recipes. And as for my foodie friend hope I can get her to switch too.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Through the blogger's lens.......

"I blog therefore I cook", sums up my present mindset quite aptly. Ever since I started blogging, food has taken on an entirely new meaning.

I have always been a foodie. Am part of an extended family where most phone conversations begin with: what's cooking? It is not uncommon among us cousins to call each other up across states/countries/continents for recipes. Food talk dominates whenever we meet. We plan our menus/meals days ahead of each other's scheduled visits. Post the visit we quickly update the rest of the family on the outcome of our efforts- what worked/what did not, what was perceived to be new/interesting etc.

So how is it different now? It is not easy for me to articulate what has changed but kuch to hua hai. I remember having a chat on this with fellow blogger Raindrop. Both of us agreed that blogging had given us a 'seventh sense' /a sort of third eye. We were a lot more sensitized and receptive to the various sounds, smells, flavors around us. It was like wearing a blogger's lens when one looked at the world.

Thus Khichdi was no longer a bland, healthy dish but "comfort food", Caramel pudding transformed itself into "dizzy pazzy", Soups from being mere appetizers now symbolized warm, nourishing, winter food. It was almost as if another layer/dimension had been added on to food.

One is also constantly on the lookout for new recipes, new food experiences etc. etc. Meal times at home are a lot more interesting. You try and make your everyday cooking 'blog worthy' either through a concept or execution. You cook, experiment, combine flavors and in the process hone your cooking skills. You attack recipe books with renewed vigor and more often than not find your own variations of the same.

Mustard chicken is the result of one such attempt. It has its origins somewhere in the South of France. What I present below is a leaner and easier version of the original. The sharp/pungent flavor of mustard is balanced by the combined flavors of honey, lime juice and olive oil. So a mustard based recipe without the 'bite' of mustard.

Mustard Chicken


Boneless Chicken: 400 grams( Breast pieces)
Mustard paste: 3/4 tbsps( soak about 3/4 tbsps of mustard seeds for 3/4 hours and then grind to a fine paste)
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Lime juice: 1 tbsp
Oregano seasoning: 1 tbsp
Honey: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp


Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry. Prick all over with a fork. Prepare a marinade with the mustard paste, lime juice, olive oil, honey, oregano seasoning and salt. Marinate the chicken pieces in it for 2/3 hours(Ideally place the container in the refrigerator). Take the container out about 30 minutes before you start cooking, to allow the chicken to thaw.

Heat a non- stick plan. Brush some olive oil on it. Once the pan heats up place the chicken pieces. Cook on high for a little while(pan sear the chicken), turn the pieces and continue to cook on high. Then reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 8/10 minutes. Open the cover, increase the heat and let the marinade completely coat the chicken.

Serve along with a tomato and celery salad.

Exotic to be part of a party menu AND easy to cook/healthy enough to eat everyday.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Soul Curry.....

It is the festive season. Almost all the food blogs that I have read over the past few days are full of party cooking. Elaborate meat dishes or exotic desserts.
I am however choosing to write about one of the more basic ones at this time- Khichdi. The feasting has been done with and so the focus needs to quickly turn to health. Also with the mercury dipping to 3 degrees and Delhi being colder than Shimla( if Times of India is to be believed) one needs warm, nourishing food.

As with soups, Khichdi tastes wonderful during winters. It is comfort food in most Indian homes. Yes, this is true across regions. Some version of the Khichdi exists in every home. In fact Khichdi has also the inspiration for the Anglo Indian dish Kedegree. There are ofcourse many adaptations of this basic dish including one with leftover keema.

In the East Khichdi is usually prepared as a main meal during festivals. I have happy memories of eating Khichdi with tomato chutney and baigan bhaja( shallow fried brinjal) during Ganesh puja and Saraswati puja. The same is also served as prasad at the puja pandals during Durga Puja. Despite the near absence of oil or spices the dish tastes delicious. As with all other comfort foods it is unpretentious in character, provide easy satisfaction and help us ease back into every day life.

It is a one pot meal. The rice provides the carbs, the daals provide the protein and the vegetables the vitamins/minerals etc. The tempering is subtle and no single ingredient dominates.



Rice: 1 cup
Moong Daal: 1/2 cup
Masoor Daal: 1/2 cup
Jeera: 1 tsp
Ghee: 1 tsp
Bay leaves: 2
Ginger: 1 inch, grated
Shelled Green Peas: 1/2 cup
Potatoes: 2, cubed
Salt: 1 tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Red Chillies: 2/3


Roast the moong daal for a few minutes( till you get a nice aroma, take care not to brown the daal). Next take about 3/4 cups of water in a pressure cooker and let it come to a boil, add the rice and allow it to cook for a few minutes. Then add the daal, vegetables, half the grated ginger, salt, turmeric. Mix well. Cover the pressure cooker and let it give out one whistle. Switch off the cooker and allow it to cool.

Separately heat oil in a small kadai, add the jeera, red chillies, bay leaves and the remaining ginger to it. Let the jeera sputter. Add the tadka to the Khichdi. Serve immediately.

Khichdi needs to be eaten as soon as it is cooked.

Khichdi is also the first solid food that is given to babies in India. So comforting childhood memories and a sense of security is what it also provides.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!