Monday, December 20, 2010

Idli Dosa

Hmmm. Tuesday afternoon. 12 pm. Surviving on a meager breakfast of omelette and buttermilk. Hmmm. Both me and my husband have heard of ID at Sathyam Theatre for a while now, and everytime we landed up there at the weekend meant no place to sit and long queues. Tuesday was perfect. It was tough to choose between Sathyam's ID and Blur, but my tongue wanted to taste some lovely Sambar Rice.

SO, although the decor is all black, white and grey and the menu card is something that fits in your palm, it does disappoint with the fact that it does not serve Sambhar Rice or meals. However, it is definitely a place to check out since their chutneys are amazing. Though I had only the Appam Kurma, it was accompanied by Sambar. And IT WAS YUMM!

So while you can keep your elaborate meals to Saravana Bhavan, you can go and enjoy the Idli and Dosa which is what ID stands for. The kitchen is right in the centre and its open, so if you like you can go and look :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conquering the Mudighonto!

Having expressed my love for fish, I am down to business - and that is "I have conquered Mudighonto!!" For all those who are clueless it is somewhat like a biriyani cooked with the head of a fish.

This feat is very simple. It is something I have relished for many years and my mom knew this was a quick fix to any rotten mood that I might have. This magic however might not work on everybody.

STEP 1 - Fry the fish head
1 Fish head cut up and cleaned
2 Turmeric powder
3 Chilly powder
4 Salt

Mix 2,3 and 4 with the head and leave aside for a while. Then deep fry in hot oil. Note: There will be a lot of hot oil sputtering, so fry with lid on.

STEP 2 - Soak the rice
Take about 1 cup of rice and pre soak it for at least 10 minutes before cooking. Wash and drain the water while adding it.

STEP 3 - Make the dish
You will need:
1 - Garlic crushed
2 - 3 onions chopped
3 - 2 tomatoes
4 - 1/2 Green chillies
5 - Ginger Garlic paste - 2 tsps
6 - Turmeric powder
7 - Chilly Powder
8 - Salt
9 - Oil to fry
10 - Pinch of sugar
11 - Curd - 2tbsps
12 - Garam Masala powder

1. You can use the oil used to fry the fish. To it add the pinch of salt, the crushed garlic, onions and fry. After a while add the ginger garlic paste and fry longer. Finally add the tomatoes. Fry further. This whole process would take about 5 minutes.
2. Now add the rice(uncooked) and gently fry the entire mix together. Add the turmeric and chilly powder. To this add the fried fish and fry for about 2 -5 minutes. At this point add the curd and about 2 cups of water.
Add half a teaspoon of garam masala, close the lid and pressure cook it.
3. Let it whistle once and keep it on sim for about 5 minutes. Do not force the pressure cooker to open.
Your Mudighonto is ready to be gobbled.

NOTE: Fish head is very good for the human species. Fish is good, even fish oil. Imagine we love frying the fat and eating it. If you do not believe me, just Google it. Arthritis, blood pressure, heart problems-- so many things can be taken care of with the consumption of fish! Here's to us fishy people!

Love thy fish, love thee life

If there is one thing I love, as would any self respecting Bengali, it is fish! Rui, Katla, Pomfret, Prawn and their various forms which include Jhol, Jhal, Kalia, Tel bhaja, fry, cutlets, Moilee, Macher Tok, Doi Mach and the lesser known Mudighonto!

Till date I haven't been able to decide what I love most - but if I had to choose, it would be fish! And the fattier the fish, the better. Atleast that is exactly how it works for me. Of the many reasons I said Yes to my husband was that he and me both love fish, but when it comes to the piece of the fish as such, I love the fattier bits, and he just loves the meat (and trust me, thats a boring piece). Then of course, I love the fish head of Rohu/Katla prepared in only 2 forms - Jhal or Mudighonto. If you try to feed me the head of any other fish in any other form, I am probably gonna poke your eyes out. After that comes a piece that is reserved only for me in the Bose household - and that is the tail.  To know how much I love fish, read the next post!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quick prawn fry with mint chutney

What do you do when you have a lazy Sunday evening to spend at home and it is pouring outside? Well, you make sure you have a freezer stocked with prawns of course. And you can make a quick mint chutney to go with Prawn fry.

So, while we tuned in to some music and my husband was fixing some Bacardi and Coke, I quickly marinated the prawns with pepper, salt, lemon juice and turmeric powder. If you wish you could also use gram flour batter to fry the prawns.

I also deep fried some appalams while I dipped the mushrooms and brinjal in besan (gram flour) batter before doing the same.

For the besan batter:
Gram flour
Turmeric Powder

Method: Mix the above ingredients and make a thick batter. Salt would be about 1 tsp.

Needless to say, my Sunday was a very good one:p

Cafe Shiraz - Connect with Persia

Our second Sunday in Chennai as a married couple and we decide to have Persian food for lunch at this lovely little place called Cafe Shiraz. Located in the Cholamandal Artists Village. It has a lovely ambiance and we went on this rainy day and thus were made to wait for a while before they could make some space outdoors which would be the ideal place to sit at. However, it took longer and since hunger was eating away the insides of my stomach, we decided to sit inside (not at a table, but on two chairs). 

Green soup
The spread was more than just good and for starters we had an amazing green soup. Since I have forgotten what the soup was, I have photo proof. Needless to say, it was amazing! There was corn and I think Leek. 

Next we decided not to waste much time. There was excellent hummus with Pita bread. Unlike other Pita breads that I have had before, this seemed like it was either baked/fried a wee bit. It felt like the crust of a puff. And the fried chicken was out of this world. Simple, but unlike my hesitation with fried chicken I have had before, it wasn't chewy or chunky. This I had with two varieties of rice - one seemed like coriander/leek rice and the other was a mixed preparation. 

For the vegetarians, there was dall, potato with peas and brinjal. This was along with baked potatoes (seemed like a small version of hashbrowns), falafel and salad. Not to mention boiled seasoned beans. For the meat eaters, there was the fried chicken, chicken with okra, another Chicken korma and Mutton. Needless to say, I dumped my spoon and fork soon and dug at it with my fingers. 
1st helping - Potato, rice, chicken and brinjal curry

At the end of the meal, we had some falafel and those hashbrowny stuff. This we downed with some brilliant Guava pulp which was mixed with barley water. Also we had a piece of cake. 

Farhad, who owns this place shared with me a quick secret - that students from Iran seldom bring the batches of rose water extract which they use in some of their recipes. Also, Iran has the biggest Rose valley and one of the biggest exporters of many types of flowers. (And of Saffron!)

When we were leaving the place, we didn't know if we should say Thank You to Farhad, as one would normally to a host. At Cafe Shiraz, it doesn't feel like you are in a restaurant but very much feels like you have been invited to someone's home for lunch. We will definitely go back there again. You should too.

Cafe Shiraz, Cholamandal Artists Village, Injambakkam (long before toll, 2 mins after Food Village)
98405 72126
Meal for two - Rs 900
Open only for lunch on Sundays - 1 pm onwards

More pictures:
The meats
the spread
seating arrangement
seating arrangement outdoor

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Masoor Dal - As simple as it gets

Dal is lentils and is very much a part of an Indian meal, and in various forms. Not just is it used in proper dal form, but is used in making Sambar, Vada, and even in something as insane as mutton. And its oh so tasty!

I remember assuming it was inferior to meat as a kid.. but as I grew older, not only did I develop a fondness for it, it became almost mandatory on the dinner table. Moreover, my dad, brother and husband --all share their love for dal. So, though my first dal attempts were terrible to speak of, here is a very simple recipe to make Masoor Dal, and I am sure I will improvise in the future.

Masoor Dal - This was the second dal I ever made after Moong Dal. Recipe shall follow in the forthcoming blog posts as it is a Bengali's favourite dal. Mine is Toor Dal though!

Masoor Dal is a salmon-pink coloured dal which turns goldenish after cooking, so don't be fooled by its exterior.

Note: Pre soak the dal half hour before you pressure cook it.

Step 1

Ingredients for boiled dal

  1. Masoor Dal - 1 cup
  2. Heeng- Asafoetida (1 pinch powder)
  3. Salt - 1tsp
  4. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  5. Green Chilly - 1

Step 2For the tadka:

  1. Ghee - 2 tsps
  2. Kalo Jeera - 1 tsp
  3. Green Chilly
  4. Onion - 1 finely chopped
  5. Garlic - 2 cloves mashed or chopped. 
  6. You can even substitute it with Garlic paste

1 - To the 1 cup dal, add 3 cups water, 1 chilly, 2 pinches of Heeng, 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and 1 tsp Salt. Pressure cook it till you get the fragrance of dal.. Approximately 2 whistles on high flame and 10 minutes on low heat.
2 - Take a pan/kadai  and heat it. To it add the ghee and when its hot enough, add the Kalo Jeera (Black Cumin), another sliced green chilly,
the garlic and the onion.
3- After stirring it for a while on high flame (when the onion turns a crispy pink, add the boiled dal. Add salt to taste if required.
4 - Garnish with juice of half a lemon and fresh coriander.

Serve with rice or roti, preferably with some sabji or fry:)
All done:) 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Success follows- Chicken curry and Masoor Dal

The Bhindi post was a hit. I instantly had two guests come home last night - my husband's friends, one being Bengali and the other Malayalee, and both Bongs and Mallus love fish, did you know? (Note: Should feed them fish in the near future)

So, Parth accepts an invitation on chat, and thats the thing I love about Bengalis - their spontaneity and the shameless love for food. Having drifted from thoughts of Briyani and egg curry, my husband helped me settle for Chicken curry & Masoor Dal. To this I added some Chicken Keema Tikki, Pumpkin Curry and Appalams (Ambika brand), just to be on the safe side.

Chicken Curry
Cooking time - Approx 45 minutes

For the marinate:

  • 500 g cut chicken
  • Turmeric powder
  • Chilly powder
  • Ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cooking oil.
  • Curd to coat all the chicken 

Cooking instructions:
In a thick bottomed pressure cooker, heat 1 tbsp oil and add Garam Masalas (Bay leaf, cardamom - 6, Cinnamon sticks - 1, Cloves - 6). To that add 2 sliced green chillis. Adding a pinch of sugar is optional.
After about 10 seconds or so, add 3 onions (sliced). Cook on high flame for about 5 minutes before adding 2 tsps of Ginger garlic paste (again) and continue to fry. After a while, make sure that the mix doesnt burn, and add 1-2 cut tomatoes. Fry this paste well and add a tsp of salt. Fry further.

After this mix is ready, take it out of the heat and into a mixer. Make a puree.. You might have to add some water.

Once the paste is ready.. reheat your pressure cooker and add a dollop of ghee/ oil. The spicier the dish, so to your discretion you can add 2 more green chillies if you wish to. Add the mixed puree into the cooker and fry it for a few minutes and pay attention so that it doesnt get stuck or burnt, if need be add a little water. To this mix add the chicken and fry in high flame for 2 minutes. Add more turmeric powder and chilly powder and be at it. Add a dash of water again, mix well, cover the lid in low flame and forget about it for some good 10 minutes, checking occasionally.

One could add a few curry leaves to add a southern flavour to the dish and the juice of one lemon. After this add about 2 cups of water and add salt to taste. Simmer the mix until the gravy cooks and the chicken is done. To this what I did was add about half a cup of coconut milk (hommade brand) and bring it to a boil. This is optional. Garnish with garam masala powder (wee bit) and coriander leaves.

-- Note: This was purely experimental, but a wee bit how my mom makes it. Only she doesn't puree the initial masalas with onion, tomato. She proceeds to add the chicken and cook it. You can do the same if you do not have a mixie at your disposal :) Only hers is better though :(