Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chili chicken...

Chinese food is extremely popular world over. And  I am sure many of you must have noticed that it tastes different in different parts of the world. Keeping the basic essence in place, Chinese restaurants all over the world modify their dishes blending it with locally available ingredients and  make it suited to palate of the local populace.

Chinese restaurants in my home town Kolkata, India is no different. One of the most popular dishes in Chinese restaurants in India is Chili Chicken. You can't find 'Chili Chicken' any where else other than India and  Indian restaurants outside the sub-continent. Chili Chicken is stir fried chicken pieces cooked in a spicy soy sauce based  gravy and is the most popular Chinese dish in India.

And Chinese food in India comes with something special, a bowl full of green chilies soaked in vinegar. I personally think my Chinese dinner or lunch is incomplete without that bowl of vinegar soaked chilies. It is very easy to make, chop fresh green chilies and soak them in white vinegar for 6-8 hrs. You can store that in an air tight glass jar for months.

I often make Chili chicken and other Chinese dishes at home. Not only we all love it,  they need very little cooking time too. The 'wok to plate' time being small for Chinese dishes,  makes it very convenient when you want to treat your family with something other than the usual fare but do not want to break too much sweat.

Things needed to make Chili Chicken:

  • Chicken breasts: 2
  • Onion: 1/2
  • Bell peppers: 1 small
  • Green part of the spring onion: to garnish
  • Oil to cook

For Marination:
  • Corn starch: 3-4 tbsp
  • Egg white: of 1 large egg
  • Vinegar: 1 tbsp
  • Garlic (paste): 1 clove
  • Light soy sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste (freshly ground)

For the gravy:
  • Green chilies: 6-8
  • Dry red chilies: 3-4
  • Garlic (sliced): 2-3 cloves
  • White part of the spring onion (finely chopped): 4 tbsp
  • Sesame oil: 1 tbsp
  • Rice wine (or sherry): 2 tbsp
  • Chicken stock (or water): 1/4 cup
  • Corn starch: 1 tbsp
  • Dark soy sauce: 2-3 tbsp

Steps of making Chili Chicken:

1. Cut onion and bell peppers into triangles, keep aside.

2. Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts. Cut into bite size pieces.

3. In a bowl mix all the ingredients for marination. Careful while adding the salt, as soy sauce itself is very salty. Marinate the chicken pieces in the mix for 15-20 min.

4. In a wok or deep pan, heat 2 tablespoon of oil, preferably peanut oil, or any vegetable oil is good. When the oil is hot fry the onion and bell peppers. Keep the heat high, cook till the surface turns brown and blisters appear on them. Do not overcook, the onion and bell peppers should remain crunchy. Take out and keep aside.

5. In the same wok add more oil if needed, when the oil is hot fry the marinated chicken pieces in batches. Do not overcrowd the wok or pan, keep the heat to high. Cook for 3 min. Take out and keep aside. Repeat till all the chicken is done.

6. In the same wok add a tablespoon of oil, when the oil is hot, reduce the heat and add dry red chilies and sliced garlic, cook till the garlic turns brown, take out the red chilies and garlic with a slotted spoon. In that oil add the white part of the onion and cook over high heat for 2 min. Add the fried chicken, reduce heat to medium and cook for 2-3 min. Add green chilies, mix well and cook for another 1 min. Add rice wine (or sherry), dark soy sauce, sesame oil, mix well. Add the fried onion and bell peppers. 

The chili chicken can be served like this, the dry version. Garnish with chopped spring onion and enjoy dry chili chicken.

If you like to have gravy in your chili chicken, then add chicken stock after step 6, and let it boil. Mix corn starch with some water. As the chicken boils add corn starch mix and switch off the heat. Garnish with chopped spring onion (scallion), only the green part, serve immediately.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicken tikka masala....

So it's over, all the festive mood has evaporated, no more puja planning, no more discussions about whose wearing what....yes I need to wait a year for the next Durga Puja. For a change, after quite a long time, this year I had a great time during the puja. It had become a yearly ritual for me to complain and to be depressed during these five days. Asking every single minute to myself why I'm thousands and thousands miles away from the city of joy.  I know I can never ever compare Kolkata durga puja to our Austin durga puja but still this year I enjoyed every single moment, laughed and above all didn't cry alone being not in Kolkata during the puja. Thanks to my Austin friends, who have become my extended family now, without whom life would have been dull.

I thought I would post something special for this puja, even I made some narkel narus i.e. coconut laddoos. But didn't find time to write and post, may be some other time.

And for this special post my friend Sayantan gave me a beautiful image of Goddess Durga to share with you all. I got so busy with the Durga puja preparation this year that I could not share it on time. Thanks Sayantan for this beautiful image.

You can visit Sayantan's facebook page The Glamor Factory to view some more of his breathtaking photography. 

So here I'm after a small little break, posting a recipe, which is popular world wide, Chicken Tikka Masala, the so-called national dish of the British. There are many theories and stories regarding the origin of this dish. I do not plan to add to it but would rather jump directly to the recipe.

Chicken Tikka Masala is simply boneless chicken pieces marinated and cooked in tandoor, then cooked in a spicy creamy tomato based gravy. To marinate the chicken you can use homemade tandoori masala or store bought, whichever suits you. I didn't use any food color, used kashmiri red chili powder and turmeric powder to bring the bright orange color to the dish.

Things needed to make Chicken Tikka Masala:

For the tikkas:
  • Chicken breast: 2
  • Lime juice: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Black pepper: 1/4 tsp
  • Yogurt: 3 tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1 tsp
  • Ginger paste: 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 1 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder: 1/8 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves): 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard oil: 1 tbsp
  • Green bell pepper: 1 small
  • Onion: half

For the gravy:
  • Onion (chopped): 1 cup
  • Garlic (chopped): 1 tsp
  • Ginger (grated): 1 tsp
  • Tomato: 3 large
  • Cumin seed: 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 2 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1-2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Honey: 1 tbsp
  • Oil to cook
  • Fresh cream: 3-4 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Steps of making Chicken Tikka Masala:

1. Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts. Cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Cut the bell peppers into large cubes. Cut onions into triangles.

2. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients listed for tikkas. Mix them well. Marinate the chicken pieces, bell peppers and onions in that. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hrs.

3. Take out the marinated chicken from refrigerator 1 hour prior cooking. Preheat oven to 400F or 200C.

4. Put chicken pieces, bell peppers and onions alternately in skewers. If you are using wooden skewers then soak the wooden skewers for minimum 1 hrs in water before threading the meat. No need to do that for metal skewers.

5. Cook the chicken pieces for 10-12 mins at 400F, turning in between. Broil the chicken pieces for 2-3 min or till few charred black spots appear on them. Instead of using oven, you can use a griddle or tawa or thick pan to cook the chicken. Or an outdoor grill is also a good option for grilling the chicken.

6. Take out the chicken from oven and keep aside.

7. In a deep pan heat oil (2 tsp), when the oil is hot add chopped onion and cook till it turns red. Add chopped garlic and grated ginger, cook for 1-2 min. Add finely chopped tomatoes. Deseed and finely chop the tomatoes, make sure you are using fully ripe tomatoes. Cover and cook till tomatoes are done. Switch off heat, let it cool down. Make a smooth paste of this onion-tomato.

8. In a pan heat oil, when the oil is hot add the cumin seeds. As the cumin seeds turn brown and the freshly made onion-tomato paste. Add coriander powder, red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, cook for 5-6 min. Add the cooked chicken pieces and garam masala powder, cover and cook for 8-10 min over low heat. Stir in between. If you find the gravy is drying  up too much, then add few tablespoons of hot water. Add the bell peppers and onions, mix gently.

9. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add honey, garam masalam powder and mix well. Add fresh cream, mix well, switch off heat, serve hot with naan bread.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013


In my last post I told you all about posting another recipe inspired from my readers. Sorry for being so late. Last week was a little rough for me. My little one was not well. I feel miserable when my little one is sick. I didn't feel like taking out the camera and arrange some food and click them.  I lacked the motivation, was too worried about her. She is better now and I'm back to my regular routine.

This is a very simple, 'make in a jiffy' drink, thanks to Soma Basak for the idea. This is a traditional yogurt drink, called 'Borhani', served with pulao, biryani, kebabs during weddings and special occasions in Bangladesh. I have tasted this particular drink many times while having Biryani, but never made it at home. Borhani balances the spiciness of the main food and as it has ingredients like mint, cumin, yogurt, it also helps digestion.

Things needed to make Borhani:

  • Yogurt: 1 cup
  • Mint leaves: 1 tbsp
  • Coriander leaves: 1/2 tbsp
  • Cumin seed: 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder: 1 tsp
  • Green chili: 1
  • Black salt: 1 tsp
  • Sugar: 2-3 tsp
  • Water: 1 cup

How to make Borhani:

1. Dry roast the cumin seed and make powder.

2. Chop mint leaves, coriander leaves and green chilies.

3. In a blender add cumin powder, chopped leaves and all other ingredients, blend till smooth. Adjust salt and sugar as per taste. Serve cold with biryani, kebab or any spicy food.

Here is some suggestions that you can pair with Borhani:

If you like to get regular updates from me go to my Facebook page and click on the Like button. You can also follow my blog on NetworkBlogs. Thank you..!!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chandresta's Bahari begun posto and the secret what keeps me going

I started my blog to share my love and passion for cooking, the desire to learn and understand food photography came along the way. To share what you love, is like sharing a part of you. Every single recipe in my blog is close to my heart. The photographs I click during and after cooking, which is not  always as easy as it seems, are extremely precious to me. 

This more than a year of blogging, making connections with fellow foodies, blog readers and like minded bloggers has helped me to learn a lot of new things, both about cooking and  food photography, and there is still so much to learn and discover. 

Being a full time mother, I sometimes find it hard to manage time to click and post. Sometimes recipes pile up as drafts patiently waiting to be published. If you ask me what keeps me going, my answer would be 'my readers'. Their endless support and encouragement is the fuel that drives me. It's indeed rewarding when someone leaves a comment on my blog or on my Facebook page, telling me how much they have liked the recipe. I feel delighted every time when someone shares the  photograph of the food they have cooked following a recipe on my blog. It feels great to know that someone out there finds my recipes good enough to try for their friends and  family.

If you visit my Facebook page then you must have noticed I share all the pics my readers send to me. I have a special album  'Cooked By You' for this purpose. Last month I found that there were 99 pics in that album. So, eager to know who's going to be the 100th one, I announced I am one short of a century. To my surprise within 5 minutes I received three photos. I was so happy to see those. Today I'm going to specially mention about those three contributors-Krishnasharana, Chandresta and Soma. Again thanks to all my readers for your continuous support and encouragement.

First, I would love to mention about my friend and co-blogger Krishnasharana Jana of From a girl's mind. She always encourages me with her warm words and surprises me with her awesome creations. She has a great collection of crafts, jewelry, travel experiences and of course food on her blog. Here is a little introduction about Krishnasharana, in her own words......

"Who am I? It is very difficult question to me to answer. Currently, I can say that, I’m a stay at home mom with an over energized 5 year old son, who always keeps me on toe. Six long years back I was a software engineer, who only knew about career, nothing else. But a person can change her/ him along with time and situation. Now I cannot imagine to going back to corporate sector again leaving my little one. Though the corporate sector beacons me, still I’m not thinking about that.

I’m a person who cannot sit back idle. I always need something to do. So, my childhood hobby (crafting) has come to rescue me in my stay at home days. Sometimes, I when could sense that I’m getting overpowered by my hobbies, I try to stop me from doing anything for few days. Apart from my hobbies, I’ve found another interesting thing, cooking. I love to try to new dishes almost every day.

Now if you ask me why I’ve started a blog, the answer will make you laugh. It is really a funny. In the year 2010, suddenly I wanted to learn American English. My husband then took all the pain to find one institute to fulfill my wish. It was two months course; I really, really enjoyed that. I’m really blessed that I got Mr. J as my teacher. Throughout the course he encouraged me to write stories. He told me that I’m a good story teller. I know that he told me, only to encourage me in writing. However, his encouragement intrigued me to take writing. On fine afternoon while I was just writing a simple story about our Valentine’s Day celebration in 2011, I opened a blog, to write my feelings. First, I thought to write only my travel stories, but later I felt that through only travel stories I couldn’t express myself. So, one after another I've opened topics in my blog. This is the story how my blog was born." 

Here is a glimpse of her blog, do visit for great craft ideas and awesome baking stuff. I'm sure you all are going to like her space. Do visit

On this joyful note, for a change I thought of cooking a dish following recipe from my readers. So I asked Chandresta and Soma to send me their favorite recipe. Both of them sent me two great recipes. Today I will post the easy yet delicious recipe Chandresta Maity sent me. My next post will be Soma's recipe.

The recipe Chandresta sent me is very simple and quick but believe me it's finger licking good. She calls it 'Bahari Begun Posto' that is eggplant with poppy seed paste. She cooked the dish, clicked a photo and sent me the recipe. Thanks for all your effort Chandresta. I made just a few minor changes, instead of red chilies I used green chilies and garnished it with some fresh coriander.

Things needed to make Bahari Begun Posto:

  • Eggplant: 1 large
  • Onion (grated): 1/2 cup
  • Ginger paste: 1 tsp
  • Poppy seed paste: 1/4 cup
  • Green chilies: 2-3
  • Cumin powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Kashmiri red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Fresh coriander to garnish
  • Oil to cook (preferably mustard oil)

Steps of making Bahari Begun Posto:

1. Cut the eggplant lengthwise. You can keep the stem of the eggplant if you like to.

2. Smear turmeric powder and salt to the eggplant pieces and leave them on a colander for 20 min.

3. Heat oil in a pan or kadhai and fry the eggplant till done. Take out and keep aside. Make sure you are using a big enough pan to accommodate the eggplant pieces, do not break them while frying.

4. In the same pan add more oil, add grated onion and ginger paste, cook till brown.

5. In a small bowl mix, turmeric powder, red chili powder (if using), kashmiri red chili powder and cumin powder with little water. Add the spice mix to the pan. Add salt and sugar, mix well, cook for 4-5 min.

6. Add the poppy seed paste. I make a paste of green chili and poppy seed. If you are using red chili powder then you may not use green chilies. Or if you like you dish to be super hot use both.

7. Mix well, and let the gravy thickens. Switch off the heat.

8. Arrange the fried eggplants on a serving plate. Pour the gravy on the fried eggplant pieces. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander. Serve with steamed rice and dal.

If you like to get regular updates from me go to my Facebook page and click on the Like button. You can also follow my blog on NetworkBlogs. Thank you..!!!