Friday, June 28, 2013

Prawn Paturi for Elephants and the coconut trees...

I have made a bunch of new friends during last one year while blogging. The like-minded foodie friends, who thinks about how to plate the dish while they cut the vegetables and spend hours to click a simple homemade cake and are always looking for some new props to enhance the food photo. But above all encouraging each other all the time. Meena from elephants and the coconut trees is one of them. Though I have not met her personally, but she is always there to support me. So when she asked for a guest post on her space I said yes without any hesitation. She has wonderful recipes in her blog from day to day regular simple dishes to exotic biryani.

I wanted to make something traditional for this special post. So here is a Bengali speciality, Paturi for you all. Paturi is a palate tantalizing dish, where the fish is marinated with mustard-green chili paste and wrapped in banana leaf and cooked. The banana leaf imparts an exotic flavor to the fish, and the pungency of mustard paste and mustard oil give it a different dimension.

I used fresh large prawns. I kept the head and tail intact for more flavor. I added coconut paste along with mustard and poppy paste to accompany the sweet taste of prawn. Paturi can be made from different fishes, Bhetki or Bekti is the first choice for the Bongs while making paturi. But one can use hilsa, rohu, prawns, or other small fishes as well to make paturi. For vegetarian option one can try fresh paneer and vegetables. Whatever you are using do make sure to add Mustard oil to the marination, a must ingredient for any paturi.

Now it over to Meena's blog Elephants and the coconut trees for this must do prawn recipe. You will need some steaming hot rice to enjoy this Bong delicacy. Meena has sent this cute little thank you card to me. Thank you Meena.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chicken marsala...

Whenever we visit Olive garden, the Italian restaurant, the man always orders Marsala for himself. So I was thinking to try my hand on that. I searched for the recipe of chicken marsala in the Internet, and to my surprise it is a very quick and easy dish one can make. Marsala is a simple Italian dish where sauteed chicken cutlets are served with mushroom and Marsala wine reduction sauce. In the restaurant they served it along with some potato wedges, I went for the potato wedges as well as some freshly made angel hair pasta. It was our last night dinner and we enjoyed it so much.

This button mushroom image is going to be my entry for "Color Me Photography Challenge Series". The month of June is for 'Color Me White Month'. I'm really excited to join this event. This wonderful event is hosted by Priya Elias of The Humpty Dumpty Kitchen.

Now back to the Chicken Marsala recipe.

Things needed to make Chicken Marsala:

(Recipe adapted from

For the chicken cutlet:

  • Chicken breast: 1
  • All purpose flour: 1/4 cup
  • Dried parsley: 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Black pepper powder
  • Butter: 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp

For the Marsala sauce:

  • Button Mushrooms: 100gm
  • Shallots/red onion (very finely chopped): 1/4 cup
  • Butter: 2 tbsp
  • Marsala wine: 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
  • Chicken broth: 1 cup
  • Heavy cream: 2-3 tbsp
  • Dried parsley: 1 tsp

For pasta and potato wedges:

  • Angel hair pasta
  • EVOO: 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper powder
  • Green pea (blanched): 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Fresh parsley chopped to garnish
  • Potato cut into cubes with skin
  • Oil to fry potato

Steps of making Chicken Marsala:

1. Wash and pat dry the chicken breast. Cut the chicken breast into two equal halves. From a single breast piece you can make 2 servings.

2. Cover the chicken breast pieces with cling film and gently pound with the flat side of a meat mallet or rolling pin.

3. Season the chicken pieces with salt, black pepper and dried parsley, on both sides.

4. Take all purpose flour on a flat tray or plate, dredge the chicken pieces with the flour.

5. In a flat pan heat butter and olive oil, shallow fry the chicken pieces to red-brown color. Drain excess oil and keep it on paper towel lined plate.

6. Keep the cooked chicken on a hot oven to keep it warm.

7. On the same pan add more butter and oil, add chopped onion. Cook till the onion turn red-brown in color. Add sliced mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 min. Add chicken broth and cook over high heat for 3-4 min. Add wine and heavy cream and cook till the sauce reduces to thick. Switch off heat, add extra 1 tbsp Marsala wine to the sauce and mix well.

8. While the sauce is getting ready, cook pasta according to the directions on packet. But never wash the cooked pasta. Toss the pasta with EVOO, salt and black pepper powder. Add blanched green pea, if using.

9. Fry the cubed potato till evenly browned. Keep the skin of the potato.

10. Place the pasta and the chicken cutlet on the serving plate. Pour the Marsala sauce over the chicken cutlet. Put some potato wedges, garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Grapes for BWW#88

This is my contribution to edition #88 of Black and White Wednesday -  A Culinary Photography Event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, now managed by Cinzia of Cindystar, and hosted by Sreevalli of Ammaji Recipes.

This is an image of simple humble grapes, they were patiently lying on the fruit bowl. I took a shot specially for this black and white Wednesday event. The original Image I took was a color image I converted it to a black and white image using Photoshop.

On this page you can find who are hosting the current and future editions of the event.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chicken tandoori pizza..

It is easier to pick up the phone and order a pizza from a pizza outlet than making a pizza at home from scratch. We all are used to with pre-packaged, convenience food available in the store. If you think deep and look at the preservative-filled, chemically enhanced, sugar-filled foods, you will understand they do more harm than good. 

Other than the health hazard, store bought foods are much more expensive than homemade one. A homemade pizza crust and sauce can hardly cost you $2. The topping may cost between $5-6, but again if you use all the possible toppings those pizza outlets offer you. 

And I'm sure you have noticed how a delivery pizza leaves a big greasy spot on a paper napkin, where as a homemade one can be made absolutely oil free and you can choose the best quality healthy ingredients for you and your family. Moreover the options for toppings becomes so wide, anything of your choice can be the pizza topping.

It is not that I don't have those store bought food once in a while, but they are not  part of my daily diet. I always enjoy making everyday food at home, from jam to juice, bread to curries as well as special occasion sweets or fancy cake. Today it was a pizza for dinner, topped with my favorite tandoori chicken. I already had a pizza recipe in my blog, but this time the crust I made came out so good I wanted to share it with you all. As a self taught cook, with frequent baking I did learn the finer details.

For the chicken tandoori recipe please go to this link

Things needed to make Pizza Crust:

(This will yield 2 large, 14 inch pizza crusts)
  • Bread flour: 3 cups
  • Warm water: 1 cup
  • Active dry yeast: 2 and 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Olive oil: 1/4 cup (divided)
  • Garlic powder: 1 tsp
  • Extra flour to dust

Steps of making Pizza Crust:

1. Proof yeast. In a deep bowl add water (just warm to touch), yeast and sugar, mix well. Cover the bowl and wait for 10 min or till the yeast bubbles up.

2. In a deep large container or the bowl of a standing mixer add 2 cups of flour, salt, garlic powder, olive oil and mix well with a spatula for 2-3 min or till well incorporated. Make a well at the center, add the proofed yeast and mix. Gradually add the rest of the flour and keep mixing till all the flour comes together and no longer sticks to the wall of the bowl. You can use a stand mixer, I used a spatula and worked the dough with my hand.

3. Dust the working surface, drop the dough on the floured surface. Knead the dough for 10 min with hand (you can use a standing mixer). Dust the working surface as needed but do not use too much of flour. I generally use 3-4 tablespoons.

4. As the dough becomes pliable, grease a large deep container, put the dough in that container, roll the dough to coat with oil from all sides. Cover the container and keep in a warm corner in the kitchen. The dough will rise to double by 1-2 hrs.

Punch down the dough, divide the dough into two equal halves. Work with one part at a time. You can keep one half wrapped in cling film for future use. Dough can be refrigerated for 2-3 days, take it out from the refrigerator 2 hrs prior cooking.

5. Take a round 14 inch pizza pan or a large baking sheet, dust with flour or corn meal, I used whole wheat flour. Stretch the dough on the pizza pan or on the tray. Use finger tips to stretch it evenly. Brush the dough well with olive oil. Cover with a cling film and let it rise for 30 min at room temperature.

6. As the dough is rising prepare the sauce and toppings and pre-heat oven at 475 F. For the sauce recipe check this link To compliment the flavors of chicken tandoori, I added honey and freshly chopped coriander leaves to the sauce.

7. After the dough rise for 30 min, spread sauce (of your choice) on the dough. Arrange topping and cheese. I used the tandoori chicken I made specially for this pizza, along with some bell peppers, red onion and few black olives(due to popular demand from the little one at home).

For the topping I pulled small pieces from the tandoori chicken, and added some chopped fresh coriander leaves to the tomato sauce for a different flavor. I used mozzarella cheese, you can always use cheese of your choice.

8. Cook the pizza on the middle rack on the oven, for 12-15 min, or till the cheese melts and turns brown on the side. Take the pizza out from oven, let it rest for 5 min, cut with a pizza cutter and enjoy your pizza.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pita and roasted red pepper hummus...

Pita and hummus, a Mediterranean food combo that has turned global now. As I'm already tardy on posting this particular post I don't want to discuss about the history and details of pita and hummus. If you are interested please go through this link below, it has a nice discussion both on pita and hummus. 

When I started baking bread at home, pita was the first bread I began my journey into the world of bread baking addiction. Thanks to Subrata da, who explained the process of pita making to me and provided endless encouragement to bake the first one. 

One can bake pita using an oven or on stove-top, I have explained both the options. I found the stove-top pitas retain their softness much longer and better than the oven made pitas.

Things needed to make Pita:

  • Bread flour: 2 cups
  • Active dry yeast: 2 tsp
  • Warm water: 1 cup
  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: 3/4 tsp
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Extra flour to dust

Steps of making Pita:

1. Proof yeast. Add yeast and sugar to the warm water, mix well and cover for 10 min. It will turn frothy and will bubble up. Use a deep bowl to prevent spilling.

2. In a large deep container, add flour, salt and olive oil, mix well with a spatula. 

3. Make a well at the center, add yeast and mix.

5. Turn the dough to a floured surface. Knead dough, dust flour as you knead. But do not use too much of flour. Knead for 10 min.

6. Grease a large deep container, put the dough in the container. Turn dough to grease from all side. Cover and let the dough rise for 1-2 hrs or till it doubles. After the dough rises to double punch it down.

7. For the oven method: Divide the dough into 8-10 equal portions. Keep the dough in a greased container, cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough rise for 30-40 min. As the dough is rising pre-heat oven to 400F. It is preferable to use a pizza stone to bake pita, but a baking tray is also good enough. Put the baking tray or the pizza stone inside the oven while it is heating up.  Dust working surface with flour, roll each dough into round flat disk of 1/4 inch thickness. Put the rolled dough on the hot baking tray or pizza stone. Bake for 3-4 min, it will puff like a football. If you want brown spots on the pita, broil for 1-2 min.

8. For the stove-top method: Divide the dough into 12-14 equal portions. Keep the dough in a greased container, cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough rise for 30-40 min. Dust working surface with flour, roll each dough into round flat disk of 1/8 inch thickness. Heat a heavy bottom pan, a cast iron skillet works best. Put the rolled dough on the hot pan, it will start to bubble, turn the bread and wait it puffs up to a round football.

I made roasted red pepper hummus to go with the pita breads. You can make a plain hummus also. the process in same. Adding extra flavor like roasted red peppers, or jalapeno, or sun-dried tomato, chipotle, artichoke makes the hummus more versatile. Flavoring options are endless, try different flavors each time you make them.

Things needed to make Roasted Red Pepper Hummus:

  • Canned chickpea/garbanzo beans: 1 can
  • Tahini: 2 tbsp*
  • Lime juice: 3 tbsp
  • Garlic: 1 clove (chopped)
  • Olive oil: 2 tbsp
  • Red bell pepper: 1
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper powder to taste
(*Tahini is a paste made from toasted white sesame seeds and olive oil, I have added the recipe for your reference)

Steps of making Roasted Red Pepper Hummus:

1. If you are using canned chickpea, strain the chickpea and reserve half of the liquid.

2. If you are using dry chickpea, soak the chickpea overnight, wash them well, cook till soft (preferable using a pressure cooker). Strain the chickpea and let it cool down and reserve the liquid.

3. Roasting a red pepper. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Wash a large red pepper, wipe it dry with a kitchen towel. Grease the pepper with olive oil. Cook the pepper in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 min, turning once or twice. Broil for 5-7 min, till black spots appear on the pepper.

Take it out of the oven, keep it in a paper bag for 15 min. Cut off the stem, peel the skin, discard seeds and membrane from inside. Chop the roasted pepper into small pieces.

4. For the hummus grind all the ingredients in a food processor, till creamy and smooth. Add the reserved liquid as required while grinding, but not in excess.
Tahini recipe:

(Recipe courtesy
Sesame seed: 5 cup
Olive oil: 1 and 1/2 cup

Toast sesame seeds for 5-10 min, take care not to brown the seeds. Cool down and make a paste with olive oil. Make thick but pour-able paste. The above mentioned measurement will yield 4 cups of tahini. Store tahini in an air tight container in the refrigerator. It will stay good for 3 months. 
You can cut the pita bread into small pieces and serve along with hummus or other dips. Or you can cut the pita bread into two halves, put filling of your choice inside the pockets and enjoy your pita pockets.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pull apart bread...the second

By now many of you must be acquainted with my bread baking addiction. Once you are in the world of yeast, flour, measuring cups and baking tools, it is difficult to resist to bake the next one. 

This time it was a pull apart bread.

I like pull apart breads, as it is fun making and is a snack in itself. Various different fillings between the layers add flavors to the bread, making the bread versatile and individual pieces of the bread can be pulled apart rather than cutting it.

Generally pull apart breads are shaped like a loaf or a round, but you can give it any shape and use numerous combination of filling to your pull apart. The first pull apart I posted was with roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato. This one was flavored with roasted red bell peppers, cheese and fresh parsley. I added beer to the dough to make the dough softer and flavorful. The addition of beer was a great success. The bread was fluffier, softer and the dough took less time to rise. Though adding beer to the dough was a success, can't say the same for the choice of cheese this time. The cheese I used for the filling was store bought cottage cheese and I feel it is not a good choice for pull apart bread. First of all it does not impart any extra flavor and secondly the pieces of cheese exposed on the top turned very hard after baking.

So my inference is- grabbing a bottle of beer from the man's stock was a good choice, but using store bought cottage cheese (just because it's going to expire within three days) was not at all good. I will recommend using  mozzarella or cheddar or monterey jack or goat cheese etc as the filling.

Here I have tried my best to explain the baking procedure with step by step pictures. You can also check the other pull apart bread recipe.

Things needed to make Pull Apart Bread:

  • Flour: 3 cups
  • Active dry yeast: 2.5 tsp
  • Warm water: 3/4 cup
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 2 tsp
  • Butter: 5 tbsp (divided)
  • Beer: 1/4 cup
  • Garlic powder: 1 tsp
  • Red bell pepper: 1 large
  • Cheese of your choice 
  • Fresh parsley (finely chopped): 3-4 tbsp
  • Honey: 1 tbsp
  • Freshly ground black pepper: to taste
  • Extra flour to dust

Steps of making Pull Apart Bread:

1. Proof yeast. Mix yeast, warm water and sugar, cover and wait for 10 min, till it bubbles up.

2. In a cup or pan warm beer and 3 tablespoon butter, cool down and bring it to room temperature.

3. In a large bowl add 1 cup flour, salt, garlic powder, beer and butter mixture, mix well. Add the proofed yeast. Mix well. Gradually add the rest of the flour till the mixture comes together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Drop the dough on a lightly floured working surface. Knead for 10 min. Dust flour as you work, so the dough does not stick to your hand.

4. Grease a large container, put the dough in the container. Turn the dough to coat oil from all sides. Cover and let it rise to double in size, about 1-2 hrs depending on the room temperature.

5. As the dough rising prepare the filling. I roasted a red bell pepper. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Clean and wash the bell pepper. Pat dry the pepper and coat well with EVOO. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 min in the pre-heated oven. Turn the pepper in between. Broil for 5-7 min. Switch off oven and keep the bell peppers in a paper bag. Let the peppers cool down. Peel the skin off, discard seeds and pulp. Chop into small pieces.

6. Mix roasted peppers, cheese, honey, chopped parsley, black pepper powder. You can always use some other filling for your pull apart bread.

7. After the dough doubles in size, punch down the dough. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface.

8. Melt rest of the butter and brush melted butter on the rolled dough.

9. Spread filling on the dough.

10. Cut the dough into thin long strips.

11. Stack the strips one above the other.

12. Cut into the stacked dough into pieces.

13. Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan. Arrange the cut dough pieces in the pan, cut side down.

14. Cover the pan with a wet towel and let the dough rise for 30 min.

15. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Bake for 30-35 min on the middle rack. Let cool down on a wire rack. Enjoy your pull apart.

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