Monday, December 31, 2012

Mutton curry..

Goat meat curry with rice is a regular item for every Bengali household during Sunday lunch. This time I wanted to something different form the usual affair. I used home made spices instead of using store bought  powdered spices and slow cooked the meat. The flavor of freshly made spices infused with the slow cooked meat so well. And the melt in mouth soft meat pieces were good both with a traditional sweet yellow pulao or rotis.

Things needed to make Mutton curry:

  • Mutton (goat meat/lamb): 1 kg/2.2 lb
  • Papaya (grated): 4-5 tbsp
  • Yogurt: 1 cup
  • Onion (sliced): 1 cup
  • Garlic (paste): 2 tbsp
  • Ginger (paste): 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seed: 1 tsp
  • Coriander seed: 1 tsp
  • Black peppercorn: 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon (1 inch stick): 2-3
  • Green cardamom: 4-5
  • Black cardamom: 2
  • Cloves: 6-7
  • Dry red chili: 5-6
  • Bay leaves: 3
  • Red chili powder: 2 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1 tbsp
  • Mustard oil: 1/2 cup

Steps of making Mutton curry:

1. Clean and wash the mutton pieces and pat dry with paper towel. Squeeze out the juice from grated papaya and marinate the mutton with that juice, for 40-45 min. If you do not get papaya either use kiwi fruit paste or any commercial meat tenderizer.

2. Next marinate the mutton pieces with yogurt, half of the ginger and garlic paste, for 1 hr.

3. As the mutton pieces are marinating, dry roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorn on a flat pan. Let the spices cool down, then ground to powder. Cover and keep the ground spice aside.

4. Similar way dry roast cinnamon, green cardamom, black cardamom and cloves. Let them cool down and ground to powder. Cover and keep aside.

5. In a heavy bottom pan heat mustard oil. I used mustard oil to bring better color and flavor to the dish. If mustard oil is not available to you, use any other oil or ghee(clarified butter). When the oil is hot, add dry red chilies and bay leaves. As the spices release a nice aroma, add thinly sliced onions and sugar. Cook the onions over medium heat till nicely brown. Add the marinated mutton and cook over high heat for 12-15 min. Keep stirring.

6. Add the rest of the ginger and garlic paste. Add salt. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30-40 min. Stir in between. Add Turmeric powder, red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder and the cumin-coriander-peppercorn powder. Mix well. Cover and cook over low-medium heat till the mutton is done. It will take almost 3 hrs. Check in between, if enough water is in the pan. If needed add hot water.You can use a pressure cooker in this point, but slow-cooking will give the extra special taste and flavor to the dish.

7. When the mutton is cooked, check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add the cinnamon-cardamom-clove powder, mix well.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Butter Chicken..

Butter chicken is one of the most frequently ordered dish in an Indian restaurant. This tomato-based butter-flavored gravy is favorite among many of us. It  is said that this dish originated in the famous restaurant 'Moti Mahal', in Delhi, India.  A chef in that restaurant used left over tandoori chicken  to make a quick curry  using a tomato and butter based gravy and the butter chicken was born.

I always  have been an avid fan of butter chicken. The creamy smooth gravy with buttery flavor is my all time favorite. But I never found a satisfactory recipe to make that at home. Moreover,  most of the recipes I came across, suggested use of food color to bring that restaurant like bright orange color of the gravy and I am  usually not very keen about using artificial color in my food.

The other day I stumbled across a Khana Khazana  recipe video in You Tube and my problem  was solved. It was a video by Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi. He explained all the steps they follow while they make this  dish  in their own restaurant kitchen and the history behind this legendary dish  very lucidly. He also shared  the secret to  get that amazing color without  using any artificial color. I was hooked and wasted no time to decide to make Butter Chicken for our special Christmas dinner. I have posted the link of the video from You Tube below.

This recipe is very simple and involves few easy steps. The first step is to make the tandoori chicken. next step is all about preparing the gravy and finally cooking the tandoori chicken in that gravy. Do not get deceived by the long list of ingredients, just try once and I am sure you will say it is so easy .

Things needed to make Butter Chicken or Chicken Makhani:

  • Chicken (cut into 10-12 pieces): 700 gm

For tandoori:

For the first marinade:
  • Salt: 1tsp
  • Lime juice: 1/2tbsp
  • Black pepper powder: 1tsp

For the second marinade:
  • Hung curd: 4 tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1/2 tbsp
  • Ginger paste: 1/2 tbsp
  • Cumin powder:1/2 tbsp
  • Corriander powder: 1/2 tbsp
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 2tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder: a pinch
  • Kasuri methi powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard oil: 1/2 tbsp
  • Lime juice: 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Red food color: 2-3 drops(optional)
  • Butter(melted): for basting

For the Makhani gravy:
  • Tomato (large): 5-6
  • Garlic (chopped): 2 tbsp
  • Ginger (julienned): 1 tbsp
  • Green chilies (deseeded and julienned): 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 3 tbsp
  • Green cardamom: 6-7
  • Green cardamom powder (only the seeds): 1/2 tsp
  • Mace/Javitri: 1 blade
  • Honey: 2-3 tbsp
  • Kasuri methi: 1-2 tbsp
  • Fresh cream: 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Butter

Steps for making Butter Chicken or Chicken makhani:

1. Clean the wash the chicken pieces and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Marinate the chicken pieces with all the ingredients under 'the first marinade'. Cover and keep it for 20 min.

2. In a bowl mix all the ingredients under 'the second marinade'. Marinate the chicken pieces in this, cover and keep it in fridge for 6-8 hrs or overnight.

3. Pre-heat oven to 400F/ 200C/ Gas mark 6. And cook the chicken. For detailed process of making chicken tandoori please go this link

4. After the chicken is done, keep aside.

5. Preparing the gravy: Cut tomatoes into quarters. In a pan add 1-2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil. As the butter melts add whole green cardamom and mace. As the spices release nice aroma add the tomatoes. Cook over medium heat till the tomatoes are mushy. Let it cool down. Make a smooth paste of the tomato.

6. In a pan add butter(3-4 tbsp), as the butter melts add julienned ginger and green chilies. Strain the tomato paste and add to pan. Discard the seeds of tomatoes, cardamom, mace etc. Reduce flame to low-medium and cook for 12-15 min. Add kashmiri red chili powder and cook for another 5 min.

7. Add the chicken tandoori pieces and salt. Mix well. Cook for 10 min. Add honey and mix well. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

8. Add green cardamom powder, kasuri methi and mix well.

9. Add fresh cream, mix well. Switch off the heat.

Serve with nan or roti or rice.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mutton Rezala...

Rezala is a yogurt based meat curry, flavored with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, dry red chilies. It originated in Bengal and is an influence from  the Mughlai cuisine.

Mutton Rezala (Goat Meat) has always been one of my favorite dish. Thanks to my friend Swagata who shared this wonderful recipe. It was finger-licking good. The taste evoked my memories of eating out in the restaurants at Kolkata.

Rezala is generally made with the ribs or chop portion of the meat in the restaurants. Do not worry if you can not manage to get ribs or chop, you can make it with leg portion too. I did that. Though rezala  is synonymous with mutton, some also prepare it with chicken. But I feel red meat brings out the real taste of rezala.

Things needed to make Mutton Rezala:

  • Mutton: 1 kilo/ 2.2 lb
  • Grated papaya/ meat tenderiser
  • Curd/plain yogurt: 500 gm/ 1.1 lb
  • Onion paste: 1/2 cup
  • Fried onion paste: 3 tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
  • Cashew nut paste: 3 tbsp
  • Poppy seed paste: 3 tbsp
  • Bay Leaves: 3
  • Cinnamon stick (1 inch): 3
  • Green cardamom: 4-5
  • Cloves: 6-7
  • Black peppercorn: 10-12
  • Dry red chilies: 7-8
  • Nutmeg powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Mace powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Rose water: 1 tbsp
  • Kewra essence: 7-8 drops
  • Ghee: 1/4 cup

Steps of making Mutton Rezala:

1. Clean and wash mutton pieces. Use ribs or leg portions of the goat. Marinate the mutton pieces with the juice of grated papaya or any meat tenderizer for 30 min.

2. In a bowl mix half of the curd/plain yogurt, onion paste, garlic paste, ginger paste, salt and 2 cups of water. Keep aside.

3. In a pressure cooker add ghee. When the ghee is hot add bay leaves, whole garam masala, black peppercorns and dry red chilies. Cook for 1 min, add the mutton pieces and cook for 2-3 min. Add the yogurt mix. Let it boil, as it starts boiling reduce the heat cover the pressure cooker and cook till 2 whistles. Wait till pressure releases.

4. As the mutton is cooking, add ghee or oil in a pan. When the oil is hot fry sliced onions till the onions starts changing color to red. Let the onion cool down, make a smooth paste. I used white onion to make sure the color of rezala become white.

5. In a pan add ghee, add the onion paste, cashew nut paste and poppy paste, cook over low medium heat for 5-6 min. Add the mutton and all the juices, and the rest of the curd/plain yogurt. Mix well. Cover and cook the meat till it is fully cooked.

6. When the mutton is done, add nutmeg powder, mace powder and mix well. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. The gravy will have a thin soup like consistency. 

7. Add rose water and kewra essence, mix well. Switch off heat. Serve with nan-roti, biryani or saffron rice.

Note: If you want to make rezala with chicken, then do not use any meat tenderizer. Follow the same process, but avoid pressure cooking. Cook the chicken with the yogurt and spices in a large pan and do the rest as same.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Stuffed Jalapeno..

Jalapeno(pronounced as halapeno) is a Mexican chili. It's green in color, becomes red when ripe. Mature jalapenos are super-hot. One can use it as pickle, or as topping for pizza, over nachos, with fajita, or grill and have it as a side, options are endless. I like to have them in a very desi-way. I stuff the jalapenos with boiled mashed potato and dip them in gram flour batter and fry them. I serve these potato-stuffed jalapeno with steamed rice and dal. You can use any stuffing of your choice. Be it cheese or chicken it taste equally good.

Things needed to make Stuffed Jalapeno:

  • Jalapeno: 5-6
  • Potato: 1 large
  • Roasted Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Chat masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Gram flour/Besan: 1 cup
  • Rice flour: 2 tbsp
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Ginger (grated): 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
  • Oil for deep frying

How to make Stuffed Jalapeno:

1. Wash and peel the potato. Cut potato into quarters and cook till soft. I used a pressure cooker to save time.

2. Let the potatoes cool down. Mash the potato and add roasted cumin powder, garam masala powder, chat masala, salt to the mashed potato, mix well.

3. As the potato is being ready, wash the jalapeno and pat dry with kitchen towel. Make a vertical slit on one side and take out the seeds with the help of a spoon. Either you can retain the stalk of the jalapeno or cut it off, as per your choice.

4. Sprinkle salt on the jalapenos and let it stand for 15-20 min. It will release some water discard that. Stuff the jalapenos with the potato.

5. In a bowl take gram flour (besan), rice flour, juice from the grated ginger, garlic paste, salt and make a paste by adding water. Make a smooth paste, without any lumps. If like you can add some kalonji(black seeds) in the batter, too. The thickness of the batter should be like the picture below.

6. In a deep pan or kadai heat enough oil to deep fry the jalapenos. When the oil is hot reduce the temperature, dip the stuffed jalapenos in the batter and fry till evenly golden brown. Keep the temperature to medium to medium high.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Panna Italian dessert

Panna cotta literally means cooked cream in Italian. It is a dessert made from milk, cream, sugar and gelatin. The gelatin gives it a pudding or custard like texture. 

Panna cotta is one of tastiest and easiest dessert I have come across. It requires very few ingredients and can be prepared quickly. The only time it takes is, inside the refrigerator while it is setting.  

Panna cotta can be flavored in various ways and can also be served in different ways, with fruits or caramel sauce or chocolate sauce or any fruit syrup. Moreover It tastes equally good as it is, without any fruits or anything. just spoon up your silky smooth panna cotta and enjoy the creamy indulgence. Today, I made vanilla flavored panna cotta, you can make a strawberry panna cotta by adding strawberry extract to the mix, or chocolate panna cotta or a caramel panna cotta or coconut....the options are endless.

Things needed to make Vanilla Panna cotta:

  • Whole milk: 1 cup (250 ml)
  • Full cream: 1 cup (250 ml)
  • Unflavored Gelatin: 1 envelope
  • Sugar (granulated): 1/2 cup
  • Pure vanilla extract: 2 teaspoons
  • Water

How to make Vanilla Panna cotta:

1. For making Panna cotta you will need unflavored gelatin. It is easily available in any grocery store. I used Knox unflavored gelatin. Take 1/4 cup cold water and sprinkle one sachet of unflavored gelatin on the water. Cover and wait for 5 min.

2. The gelatin will dissolve in water and will look like jelly.

The gelatin will look like this after dissolved in water

3. In a heavy bottom pan take the whole milk and let it boil, keep stirring in between so it does not stick to the bottom. Keep the heat to low-medium and add the heavy cream. Mix well. Add sugar and cook for 5 min, keep stirring continuously. Add the vanilla extract. Use pure vanilla extract for better flavor. We can use any other flavor of your choice.

Make sure the gelatin is dissolved completely

4. Switch off the heat. Add the dissolved gelatin to the hot milk-cream mixture. Mix well, so the gelatin dissolves completely.

5. Make sure the gelatin is dissolved completely. Pour the mixture into individual ramekins or in a bowl, as you like.

6. Cover the ramekins with cling film and keep them inside the refrigerator for 6-8 hrs.

7. It will be set by this time. Take out and serve cold. You can serve it in the ramekins, or you can take out the panna cotta from the ramekins and serve with fruits or chocolate. To take it out from the ramekins, run a knife around the panna cotta. Put the the ramekins into a hot water bath for 10 sec.

Cover the ramekins with the serving plate turn it upside down, tap the back of the ramekins and the panna cotta will come out on the plate.

You can serve it with strawberry syrup and some fruits.

Or serve with some chocolate and dry fruits.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012


Aloo-paratha (potato stuffed flat bread) is a popular dish from North India. The main ingredients are potato and flour. Pre-cooked potatoes are mixed with various ingredients and spices to make the stuffing and then the flour dough is stuffed with this specially made potato stuffing and rolled into flat bread and  then shallow fried in a tawa(flat pan). It is  usually served with a dollop of butter, yogurt and pickle.

Aloo ke paranthe as the North Indian's call it or aloor porota as the Bongs call it, is one of my favorite breakfast. I usually make these for leisurely weekend mornings.

Things needed to make Aloo Paratha:

For the dough:

  • Flour: 2 cups
  • Wheat flour: 1cup
  • Oil: 3-4 tsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar: 1 tsp

For the stuffing:

  • Potato: 2 medium
  • Onion (finely chopped): 1 small 
  • Garlic (minced): 2 cloves
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Chat masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Black salt: 1 tsp
  • Fresh coriander
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp
  • Green chilies(chopped): 2 tsp
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
And oil to fry the parathas.

How to make Aloo Paratha:

1. Wash the potato and cut into half. Cook the potato in a pressure cooker or in a large pan. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and let them cool down. Peel the potatoes and mash them.

2. In a kadai or pan add oil, when the oil is hot add chopped onions, cook till transparent. Add the minced garlic. Cook for 2-3 min. Add mashed potato, cumin powder, red chili powder and black salt. Mix well. Keep stirring so all the ingredients mix well and no lumps are left in the potato.

3. Add green chilies, chat masala, lime juice and mix well. Check the salt, if needed add some salt. Add handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves. Mix well. Cook for 2 min. Switch off the heat and let the stuffing cool down.

4. For the dough mix all the ingredients well. Gradually add lukewarm water to make a soft smooth dough. Knead the dough well. Cover the dough and let it stand for 20-30 min. Uncover and knead again for 3-4 min. Make equal size balls from the dough.

5. Take one flour dough ball and flatten it with hand and put potato stuffing in it, close the dough.

6. Gently roll the stuffed dough ball with a rolling pin. For ease, either dust the base with flour or grease with some oil before rolling. I prefer to use oil to grease the surface before I roll the dough. Make sure not to press to hard or the stuffing may burst out of the dough.

7. Heat a tawa or flat pan, when the pan is hot put the rolled paratha and cook over medium heat till red-brown spots appear. Turn sides to ensure even cooking. As the red brown spots appear and the paratha tends to puff increase heat to high. Add 1 teaspoon oil and fry both sides over high heat for 1 min.

Serve hot parathas with yogurt and pickle or some fresh homemade butter.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Phoolkopi diye bhetki mach...Bekti fish with cauliflower

Bhetki maach (Bekti fish) is one of my favorite for many reasons.  Apart from it's melt in your mouth texture and  a unique flavor, the fact that it has very few fish bones  gets  it a thumbs up from me. . I know...I know being a Bong, we are used to having fish with bones, but I feel lack of or less of fish bones does allow one to enjoy a hassle-free meal  sometimes and which you can have with Bhetki maach .

In Austin, Bhetki mach is not readily available apart from the frozen ones that you might get in  the  local Bangladeshi store. But the other day while walking through the fish section of my local Vietnamese Supermarket I  saw a fish which looked like the Bhetki we know of. It was labeled as Perch. A quick help from google helped  confirm my suspicion that Perch is of the same species as our Bhetki mach and I did not waste any time.

I remember my mother used to cook Bhetki maach for me when I was a kid. I still remember the taste and today I made the fish exactly the same way my mother does. Yes, of course that  invariable  event "phone your mother for the recipe" did happen.

My mother used to make it during  the winter with fresh cauliflowers of the season. It is fish curry with potato and cauliflower. The fried cauliflower adds extra flavor and taste to the dish.  If you wish you can make it without cauliflower also.

Things needed to make Phoolkopi diye Bhetki maach/Bekti with cauliflower:

  • Bhetki maach/ Bekti fish: 6-8 pcs
  • Potato(cut into large cubes): 1 cup
  • Cauliflower(cut into large florets): 2 cups 
  • Onion (grated): 1 small 
  • Garlic paste: 1 tsp
  • Ginger paste: 2 tsp
  • Tomato (chopped): 1 small
  • Bay leaf: 1-2
  • Shah jeera/black cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon (1 inch stick): 2-3
  • Cardamom (green): 3
  • Cloves: 4
  • Turmeric powder: 2 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Garam masala Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar
  • Ghee: 1-2tsp
  • Mustard oil

How to make Phoolkopi diye Bhetki mach/Bekti with cauliflower:

1. Clean and wash the fish. Smear salt and turmeric powder to the fish and keep it for 30 min.

2. Peel the potato and cut into large cubes. Cut cauliflower into large florets. Boil a pot full of water. As the water rolls to boil, switch off heat and add the cauliflower florets. Cover the pot and wait for 2 min. Drain out the water and wash the cauliflower with tap water.

3. In a pan or kadai, heat oil. I used mustard oil to cook the dish, as it adds a nice flavor and color to the dish and also all Bengali dishes are cooked in mustard oil. You can use any other oil to cook this dish.

4. When the oil is hot fry the fish pieces to nice golden color, keep aside. In the same oil fry the potato and cauliflower to golden brown, keep aside.

5. In the same pan, add some more oil if needed, when the oil is hot add bay leaves, whole garam masala, shah jeera. Cook for 1 min. Add the grated onion and cook till it takes nice red-brown color.

6. Add ginger paste and garlic paste, cook for 2-3 min. Add chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle salt and cover the pan and cook till the tomatoes are done.

7. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder and cook till oil separates. Add sugar and ghee, mix well.

8. Add hot water and let it boil. Amount of water depends on the amount of gravy you want to be on the dish. As the water boils add the fried potatoes. Cover and cook for 5-6 min. Add the fried fish pieces. Cook for 3-4 min. Potatoes must be cooked by this time, add fried cauliflower. I added the cauliflower at the end to retain its crunch. Let it cook for 2 min. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

9. Add garam masala powder and serve hot with steamed rice.

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