Dec 30, 2009

Un-new years-- made festive with Chili chicken!

Years pass..and that is one good thing. I can look forward to another 365 days. I am not sure..but is there  *something* to the 31st of dec ? I feel as though we, as a human race, have consciously decided to fix a date and give it a meaning. A purpose. I find that highly unjust to the rest of the 364 days of the year. And honestly, the rest of the 364 days are when all the excitement happens! But on the 31st we kind of think a little less fondly of the fun days we had and hope that the next would be funner! isn't that a bit cruel? :)

What, for example, is so different between 29th March and 31st Dec? One thing it would do definitely is space out the festive foodie days! And that would have been great too! I definitely think that between Thanksgiving and new year there are way too many events in quick succession. And nothing almost for the next 10 months :( how unfortunate is that?

Like Lewis Carol would say...lets celebrate our unbirthdays ( or in our case un-new years!)...after all we can celebrate more :)

One such celebration we (I mean R and me) had was a weeknight is one of the now- forgotten-past-364 days. But I distinctly remember it to be real fun. And how did we do so?  Have dinner. For us dinner is a real fun event --everyday. And we do get upset if it gets side tracked for any reason.

So on this very unusually good usual day, we had something called chili chicken. I did mention how, chowmein and chili chicken is our all time favorite dish, right? I have written about a clever reconstruction of the ever illusive Indian chinese chowmein. But not about the lovelier counterpart. So here is a recipe of that gorgeous chili chicken!

And here is what it looks like. Droolworthy enough...for every single day of the 364 days!

And goes great with Sphagemein (my take on Chowmein) and sautéed prawn heads

To every gorgeous day of the year

Happy living and healthy eating!

Dec 27, 2009

Biriyani--what's with time?

Talk of holidays and festive food. Nothing tops the charts as much as the thing called Biriyani. Although it might have originated somewhere in the Western Himalayan countries, but with all the comings and goings of emperors and kings and dynasties, countries changing their boundaries all the time...I guess it is fair enough to say that the roots of this dish are lost in the sub surface of the oldest history books of the region comprising all of  south west and southeastern Asia. That closes all debates and lets us get on with the dish..which seriously is the most interesting thing about it :)

I am sure most of us are familiar with some variant of it. Basically rice, slow cooked in a delicate juice of marinated meat over lowest of low flames. But this one sentence does nothing but injustice to this incredible dish that has not only witnessed so much of history but have also adapted to so many changing palates over space and time...and still retains its aura. I mean Aurangzeb and I are equally enamoured by it. And for sure we have different taste buds :)

I am not going to write how one can make it. I can't. But I can tell you all, a few exceedingly fun stories attached to it that I have either borne witness to or had the good fortune of hearing from very close sources.  The basic idea is always the same. Slow cook rice in a deliciously marinated spicy meat juice. So here goes....itsy bitsy madness about Biriyani

1. One thing anybody wants to do with Biriyani is make it as perfect as possible. And it never is. And in the end all of them tastes as good as the perfect one. When you invest 20 hours in something it WILL taste great! My sister has a group of pretty crazy friends, who decided to add some spice to exam time gruel while living in the dorm. So they decided to make Biriyani. What started off as a three people endeavor, ended up being a 25 people party. So a big enough pot was gathered. But a big enough fire could not be gathered. So what ended up happening was  these guys heated different parts of the huge pot at a time...for as long as 24 hours. The end result was---

Awesome. That was slow cooked for 24 hours!

2. This one I bore witness to. A friend of mine wanted to try it out. Perfection being the buzz word. So he skipped all store bought spice mixture. Bought a coffee grinder. And all of the 30 spices (whole spices) and ground them in the coffee grinder and set of to make this Biriyani. Took him a good 15 hours in the oven and the stove.

The end result..still awesome!

3. This one I actually tried. Oh no. This was disaster. A fast- low key- healthy -experimental cook trying a Biriyani. What can you expect? Stay tuned. I decided to use store bought spice mixture. I also invited a few people over. I have courage, brother. So first I don't have a big enough pot to hold the whole thing. So I  used an oven tray on the stove to do the meat, and then made the rice in the oven...basically running back and forth between the stove and oven for 4 hours. The fire alarm sounded twice. I ran out of patience. And blackened all my pots. Finally after 4 hours I was ready with the Biriyani and ready to get super drunk! do you think it went?

Awesome :)..I even got asked for the recipe. I wowed never to make it again

4. Finally...Someone does it in 30 minutes. R. He is the best Biriyani cook. Can get you results that others die for. He marinades the chicken/ meat in the spice mixture, yoghurt and ginger garlic paste. Fries some garlic, shallots and potatoes, add the marinaded chicken and cooks for 15 minutes. Meanwhile he boils rice somewhere else. Once done he adds a part of it to the chicken  and the rest after the chicken has cooled a bit.

Tastes awesome! 

here is what it looks like

Moral of the story--- Its no fail with Biriyani. Time is just something like collateral damage. So save yourself the hassle and go to a restaurant will be as good as any :)

Enjoy !

Dec 22, 2009

(W)holistic Chicken- a flavorful twist to the holiday season

I am one happy person when I realize that I am a part of the best community ever. The foodie community. It is virtual. Right. But how much better is it, than all other virtual communities. In fact I will go so far to say that it is one place where bickering and harsh criticisms almost never happen! It is amaing if you ask me! It is quite the wonderland in my opinion. And I (and I think most of us) feel like Alice. All the time. And if language is a barrier (e.g I follow this awesome blog in French by Chapot. I do not understand her recipes. But then the pictures. Just tell me almost all that I have to know!).  How many communities can boast that?

I did mention that I feel like Alice. Awestruck and ready to change my ideas  (after a little chit chat with Dina) at the drop of a post. I chanced upon a recipe for  sweet and spicy chicken by Denufood. I love this blog. Reminds me of all the good food of home. And I guess I have started to appreciate how much goes into those dishes that to me, for a long time was just request away! I made a few changes with this recipe, so that it cannot be called sweet anymore.Although it is very inspired by Deepa's blog, I will write the recipe alright. Just because while making this dish, I realized that whole spices can be used with chicken and they turn out quite amazing..with awesome flavors.

Thanks SE. I learnt more with one post of yours that I would, doing a whole book!

So here is to whole spices and chicken


Chicken- with bones with or without skin. I used 6 chicken drumsticks.

Whole spices: Okay for this, I used whole spices. You can mix up any different varieties of whole spices and use half a tsp of that mixture. I made mine with the following and named it 'I spice'. 
Allspice, nigella, cloves, cinnamon, aniseed, poppy, cardamom, whole pepper, cumin, coriander.
I can assure you it goes well with any dish you make. Veggies, fishes ..anything. This just gives everything a (w)holistic flavor :)

6-8 spring onions. Cut the whites from the green parts. Chop them up and preserve without mixing.
Never knew how different white and green parts tasted!
2 tomatoes- chopped up
2 green chilis. Chopped.  De seed to take out the heat.
3-4 cloves of garlic. Grated
2 tbsf grated ginger
2-3 tbsf chopped Dill. I feel this almost substitutes Curry leaves. But you can use curry leaves, if you can find some :)

A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of cayenne pepper
2-3 tbsf oil
1.5 cups of hot water or chicken stock (take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 mins before using. Will bring it up to room temperature so that when you use it will lock in the flavors of the dish)
Salt to taste.

A few strands of cilantro or parsley for garnish

Okay here is what you do!

Wash those drumsticks and slash em up. Allows juices to flow easily :) Combine chicken with ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, salt and turmeric and let marinate for 5 – 10 minutes or more. Heat oil in a pan, add in the Dill and/or curry leaves, green chilli, whites of spring onions and half a tbsf of the spice mixture. Fry for a few seconds or till you smell the aroma. Add the  marinated chicken and sauté for few minutes. Add in the tomatoes and and remaining spring onions and sauté for few mins. This was so gorgeous, I tell ya, you will fall in love with it :)

Add the stock or warm water. Cook covered on low heat for 10 minutes. Saute once in a while to prevent sticking of the chicken at the bottom.
Season with salt . Garnish with Cilantro or parsley.
Serve warm...

It is one great and simple dish..bringing out the essence of so many spices. You will love it. A healthy and (w)holistic twist to your holiday evenings :)

Happy eating, healthy living and lovely is beautiful :)

Dec 18, 2009

San Francisco Diaries-- the end and highlights

Okay everyone! back and recovered from the San Francisco trip. So this is my last post about foodie adventures in San Fran.  So far I have mentioned about Post street and the lovely sword steak. However that was just the beginning of many more to come. Some highlights from one foodie to another :)

1. I discovered the beauty of green tea with a wedge of lime. I got addicted to green tea a few months back. Thanks to my friend Celli, in the lab. Earlier I used to think, in not so good terms about it. Now I cannot go a day without a cup or two of it. But lemon infused? That is a different level of bliss :) :)

Moving on to more solidarity :)

2. Chinese delight:- Well it is always a delight. But in San Fran, it is more than a delight. It is pure nirvana. Good quality dim sum, lovely ambience and pretty ladies to serve you. Even a presentation later in the afternoon couldn't be a spoiler. Tray and trays of goodies. The best one though was fried Tofu topped with fried garlic, green pepper and cilantro. The colors just says it all. The name is Siam Ting. If you were in the neighborhood..:) in case.

3. Sushi in a boat. That is the name. Sushi boat. The freshest and best Sushi on this side of the Pacific. They come to you in little boats. That adds to the existing novelty. You pluck em' up and goble em' up. As good and as lovely as it sounds. It is the Sushi Boat in the Union Square. Never miss a boat!

4. My birthday dinner. An old friend, the beautifully lit  Pier market in the fisherman Warf. The table overlooking the sea. And food wise:- started off with fried calamari, crispy french fries sprinkled with tons of garlic and blueberry Martini. Followed by Grilled trout and wine. There is more to come.  Followed by a small bite of strawberry cheesecake and Vanilla ice-cream. I sauntered into a chocolatier to get something for R. That final smell was all it took to make it a foodie heaven :)

5. Vietnamese ---redefined:-You would think that the last one just could not be topped. Well it is San Fran. And the sky is the absolute limit. Just before flying back, stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant. Hoping for a Pho. Well, that is what I would get in any other vietnamese restaurant. But when the name of the place is Green papaya and the menu features things like Tiger prawns in tamarind don't say ' pho please'. I loved it so much..I even packed some lemongrass chicken and garlic noodles for R. They even let me into the flight with it too :)

So that is really all the highlights...from Italy to Japan...all in 48 hours. Not bad :)

More of me in the kitchen in the following days...and thanks for keeping up with me...even though I could not!

love and cheers

Dec 15, 2009

A bag full of cool stuff

Returning from San Francisco...with a box of lemongrass chicken, garlic noodles (this was a lovely Vietnamese restaurant on Mission street), tons of hand made nut filled chocolates ( R loves it like crazy) ...and this is the best part....I am writing this post from inflight..internet in the flight!! how cool is that..
Virgin america rocks rocks and rocks!

more tomorrow

Happy eating and healthy living!

Dec 13, 2009

The San Francisco Diaries-- Post Street Lunch

So I am in San francisco...and finally on my own (in many ways). Some of which I don't like and some which I absolutely adore. I hate being lonely..but I adore being alone, walking through a newish cities and poking my ponity nose (I coined this word to describe my nose)  into things which grab my attention. Have you any idea how you are to be alone without being lonely? I do..but this time it wasn't quite the case. Anyways, for a tired and hungry self like me, Post Street was a dream destination. Lined by numerous, cute eateries -- each featuring a different cuisine. Though a couple of them were Japanese. A extraordinary thing to me. Cos all of them were different from each other :) And the best part is...that Post street is right behind that place that I will call 'home' for the next 48 hours. I did not have anything in mind as I walked out. A vague sushi sense in me. And it was every bit the adventure I like. New faces, new shops, new localities, new eateries, new...and yet with a sense of being tangible in a nostalgic sort of of way.

And as I looked around I walked into this lovely and cosy Italian place. Had the sweetest attendant ever. Quite fell in love with her.  So I got the best place in the restaurant-- a small table by the window at the farthest corner of the small restaurant, Ivy's all over the window sill and finding my way all  across the city -- over a piece of trashy map. Believe it or not, this is my one favorite activity. And seeing that I was poring over this city map (devising plans to take a long walk...the longest possible to the conference) and waiting for my food..she actually came and chatted with me. Which was sweet of her. But, truthfully, a bit of disturbance for me :)

Anyway I ordered a sword fish (of course) with no dressing with a side of greens. The lovely lady also offered garlic olive oil to go with the fish. Ahh..the smell was dressing enough. A glass of house red. Yes, I am rustic enough for that :). Spent time looking and deciding on my evening walk..through chinatown where I  see another part of the city...

So that was lunch...and see you at dinner time

meanwhile...happy cooking and healthy living

Dec 11, 2009

Lime- garlic chicken-- A dinner to hurry to!

There is a definite connection between the dish I make and the state of mind I am in. I have not seen a study like this...but my gut feeling is it would be a fun thing to think about. Okay, let me see. German food, for example is mostly baked stuff and without frills. Now, that may reflect the general taste of the german population..but on the flip side it just maybe that because German people are generally fast paced, elaborate cooking may just not have been their thing! Same for chinese food. And my chinese blog friends might correct me on this (as this is solely my hypothesis--one that came to my mind just now). The paradise of stir fry. A population on the move. Where as if I take middle eastern, Iranian, Indian food. It is slow cooked. With mind blowing variations. A cuisine reflective of a population who takes things easy.

To come up with this hypothesis, I have used-- one sample. Myself. I mean I am now completely overwhelmed with my presentation at the upcoming conference and I do not find myself fancying making something even remotely involved. But I like home cooked warm food. But quick, delish and non-involved food does not have to be terrible. I just mentioned the chinese and German food, as an example. How good are those and how quick too!

I take the concepts and some ingredients that I adore (another theory-- if you make something using lovely ingredients, you  cannot go wrong, ever) and voila...I have this awesome dish..actually two. I will mention that later.  Lime, garlic and olive oil. whats not to like? :)

Here is to hurrying to a delish dinner. I hope we all make it tonight and have it. Thoughts? :)


1 lb ( or you can use 5-6 thighs) of chicken. Best is boneless and skinless. But you can use pretty much what you like.
1 big lemon.
4-5 cloves of garlic grated. You can use as many or as few.
3-4 tbsf of olive oil. Light and extra virgin is what I use.
1/4 cup of chicken stock or warm water. This makes the marinade lighter and adds a layer of flavor :)
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Notice, that my ingredients do the trick for me

How to do it.

 Cut your chicken to pieces. I like to make them medium and thin. Season with salt and pepper. In a mixing bowl, zest your lemon. Squeeze the juice of half and a little more of the lemon. Add the grated garlic, stock (or water) and olive oil. A pinch of salt and black pepper. Whisk together. Thats the marinade. Pour it all over the chicken. Let stand for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken once while you are marinading.

heat the oven to 420F for 10 mins. Stick the chicken in there and let it sit for 40-45 minutes. To add a crunch to the chicken, you can also top it off by broiling for 2 minutes on high.

How good and easy is it??

Also here is the other dish I promised. If you have leftovers, you can piece them up and along with some shredded lettuce you can make into a delish wrap, a salad or a sammy! That is actually 4 dishes :)

Picture by evening..I plan to make this again :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Dec 8, 2009

Colors..colors and more colors. A veg hotch potch! seems like forever that I have not posted. Part of the reason being that I am truly busy with and upcoming conference next week in San Francisco. It is my favorite city in USA!  And guess what is the most exciting part of this conference?  This should be easy :)

guesses...guesses? :)

It is the Food.. and here comes another fun part...Blogging. I will be posting about the foodie delights here, but I have started another blog, about communicating science and I am going to blog about ocean- climate-environment related presentations which I plan to attend. I am interested in presenting results and so on...but really so much blogging and lots of food explorations! This is what I am really looking forward to :) And all of this around my birthday too!

Moving past updates (read excuses), I have to say that my Tiffany's has not seen much action. But that doesn't mean, there have been no jewels :) I had an Yam and some tofu. I bought them with the intent of making something with them (can you believe I have never used these in my cooking?). I never got around to them. So this sunday I decided to clean my refrigerator of veggies and I cannot even start to tell this clean yo ended being one of the best recipes I ever invented! 

Let me show you how good this looks and we can yak later.


1 pack of Tofu. Firm and organic works best. 
1 chinese eggplant. Chopped into bite size pieces
1 Yam. Chopped into bite size pieces
1 Red bell pepper. Chopped into bite size pieces
A handful of green beans.Chopped into bite size pieces

half a tsp of all spice. You can also use whole cumin or nigella. Or a combine all three or any two and use half a tsp of the mixture. Would be grand!
1 tsp of freshly grated ginger
A pinch of turmeric. Optional. Use it if you like some color and would like to use its many health benefits
A pinch of Paprika. Optional. For color.
A wedge of lime.

3-4 tbsf olive oil.
2 cup of veg stock or warm water. take the stock out of the refrigerator half an hour before using. will add to the flavor as the edge goes off the cold stock.

Salt and black pepper for seasoning

This is real simple. Stir- cover- cook.

Okay, with the tofu. You have two choices.

a) you can shallow fry the tofu cubes. This makes them a bit firmer and adds crunch. Also some calories.
b) you just use the raw cubes. Will work real fine too.

Anyway, with the rest. Heat oil in a pot. Make sure pot is big enough to hold all the ingredients. When oil is hot, add the allspice and ginger. Wait a few secs for things to crackle and release aroma. Add the yams and stir. Cover and cook for ~ 2 mins with constant stirring.

Before I add anything else. let me just show you how awesome it looks even in the pot!

Okay now, back to the adding-stirring :)
Add the eggplants. Stir, over and cook for ~  2 mins. Add the beans. Do the same process for another 2 mins. Keep stirring guys. Finally add the bell pepper. Repeat the process for ~1 minute. Squeeze the lime all over. Add the turmeric and paprika if you are using them. One BIG stir. Add the stock or water.  Add the tofu cubes (fried or raw) Cover. Lower heat and let cook through. ~ 10 minutes. Keep checking to make sure that bottom is not burning.
Season with salt and pepper.

Voila! you have the prettiest, and healthiest (if I may) dish ever. Just look at the colors!  A mix of veges from Africa and where not and spices from Middle east and India.  Experimenting is fun :) :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Dec 5, 2009

Mustard chicken-- spice that lures :)

The captain had lost his ship and almost all his crew in the storm that washed him ashore sometime yesterday night. A crew of 300  navigators, sailors, merchants and salves who set sail with him from Portugal to trade for coveted spices from India.  He lay on the beach and ss far as his eyes could see there was the tireless ocean on one side and a vast..vast endless desert on the other. Suddenly, his weary eyes caught sight of a shining thing in the beach sand. He crawled closer and for the love of god, it was a shining  glass cube. He lifted the cube to the sun and heaven sparkled like a real diamond. He looked ahead..and in that midday sun the deserted beach shone with sparkles of diamonds..big ones..small one...

Have you heard of the term 'Sperrgebiet'. It means the 'forbidden zone'. Here along the cursed coast of the Namibia, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the vast Namib desert on the other is a beach strewn with diamonds washed down by the Orange river of Namibia. A beach which has been the graveyard for merchants and sailors lost in the ocean near the tip of South Africa. A beach which brought people to the brink of ecstasy at the hope of riches...that could be acquired but  'forbid' possession. 
Centuries of mariners have had the misfortune to be guided to this beach as they lost control of their ships in storms as they tried round the cape of good hope to continue onto India, the land of riches and spices. But it was cursed.  The winds and waves were such that landing a ship onto these shores back in those days was impossible. It had to be fierce storms that would wash ships ashore and ultimately sink them.  And once stranded here, mariners did find armfuls of riches..Riches that they never thought existed..but no one made it back. The Namibi desert engulfed them all.  Ironically, it is these waves and winds wich prevent the diamonds  from being washed into the sea. And it is these waves that protected the riches from being stolen...
Till De beers established diamond mining monopoly here. 
I have to say,  that ancient mariners went through such fantastic horrors to get something which we can now find right across the in our regular groceries. Spices. Of course we won't ever have the fortune of being so rich and also not the misfortune of losing it all so quickly. But of course, we can get a hold of those ill-coveted spices and make incredible dishes that brings to us the spice of life :)
And this recipe is a tribute to the bliss of these spices that brought shipwrecks, storms , diamonds and deaths to so may sailors. Mustard Chicken. A recipe that was invented by me and R independently. And enjoyed together
To lost souls..!
Chicken : 1 lb. Easiest with skinless and boneless. But you can use any varaity
2 tbsf Garlic. Grated
1 tbsf ginger. Grated
3-4 green chiles. Take the seeds out and slice them.
1 big onion. Chopped

1 tbsf  chopped Dill. For a more authentic flavor, you can substitute with curry leaves
2-3 tsp whole mustard seeds. You can also add in 1/2 tsp of cumin and/ or nigella.
half a cup of white vinegar
1/2 tsp of sugar
3 tbsf oil
1/2 cup of water or chicken stock. Use warm water or chicken stock that has been out of the refrigerator for at least half an hour. This helps to seal in the flavorful vapors while cooking
Salt and pepper to season
A wedge of lime
1/2 cup of Cilantro or Parsley. Chopped. Use the stem as well. Adds more flavor and heartiness.
Lets spice it up!
Chop up the chicken into bite size pieces. Marinade with 1/4 th cup of vinegar and 1/2 tsp of grated garlic. Soak the chopped onion in 1/4th cup of white vinegar. Leave for 10 minutes. In a skillet, heat oil. When hot, add the remaining garlic, ginger, Dill (or curry leaves), sliced green chiles, whole mustard ( cumin and nigella if you are using them) and  fry for 15 secs. The aroma is awesome. 
Squeeze the vinegar off the onions and add the onions to the skillet. Fry for 5-6 minutes till it is nicely browns. Squeeze the vinegar off the chicken and add them to the skillet. Saute, saute and saute for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, lime juice from the wedge of lime, salt  pepper and water/ stock. Lower heat. And cook for another 5 minutes, till chicken is cooked through. Saute. Make sure that the bottom is not sticking. Add the cilantro and parsley. Saute for a minute. 

Serve warm :) The dish is  just too good to be true. Simple and elegant and brings to you  the flavors of all the spices. In fact you can add whole cumin and nigella to it as well. And it will be even better! No wonder ancient mariners risked their life for this :) :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Dec 2, 2009

Maach bhaja-- Fried Fish

I feel ecstatic when I can make something very traditional (read high calorie and labor intensive) using simple, yet effective techniques. And it is even better if that 'something' is my favorite food. I have done it many a times with several recipes, but today's one just tops it all. Now, one thing I have to tell you is, Indian food, irrespective of where you are in India, is not baked. It is mostly cooked. I will go to the extreme to say that it always cooked. In fact, I feel most oriental food is cooked.

Although I love cooking, I do not find it really interesting to make dishes which require either long hours of babysitting in the kitchen or a lot of effort. And that is why I bake. Oh yeah..I bake a lot. And with baking I have been able to recreate a whole lot of very authentic and traditional Indian dishes. And tell you the truth, you cannot tell the any difference between these baked and cooked versions... .not in any major way.

For example, this simple dish. Maach Bhaja, literally translating to Fried Fish. Now, I am fish lover. And anything involving fish is a favorite with me. But this one makes me go weak in my knees. And it is basically nothing. It is not even a dish in its own right. Shallow or deep fried fish steaks. Salted.  These
'fried' fish stakes are used along with lovely sauces to make dishes. But I can eat pounds and pounds of  just these fried fishes. The only thing which bothers me though is the high calorie content and how the nutritional value of fish reduces with such frying.

But there is something..actually a lot to this old saying. ' If there is a will, there is a way' :)

I have often made oven baked fries and they get a ' fried' flavor. That is what gave me the idea. I 'oven baked' fish steaks. Mind you, steaks. Not fillets. And the effect was just like I wanted. Fried. Only with 2 tsp of oil and without destroying the good qualities of fish! How how how cool is that!

So here is to  wills and ways

3-4 fish steaks. Or fillets. Any fish is good. Snapper. Trout, Tuna, Halibut, Salmon. I used Rohu, an fresh water fish of India. I obtained it from an Indian grocery. But I have tried this technique with all of the above and works like a charm

2 tbsf Turmeric powder
1 tbsf Cayenne pepper. Optional. For heat.

3 tbsf Oil. Any is good

Salt and pepper

Wash the steaks and carefully marinade each of them in the turmeric powder, cayenne pepper and oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place in a baking tray.
Preheat oven to 450F for 10 minutes. Bake the fish at high for 20-30 minutes at 450F. Longer you keep it, the ' fried' it is going to get :) Don't forget to turn once.
Serve with a wedge of lime.

Lovely and crunchy. Fried, yet not. Fish not stripped off fishiness :) My favorite dish.

Happy eating and healthy living!

Nov 30, 2009

Murg Massallam and Rogan Josh...Turning back time

Don't you sometimes watch old movies...and by old I neither mean oldies nor period films, but movies ..of a common man..about times, say of the last century or early part of this century, and think that  if you could just turn that clock back on time and go right back there, whence and where, things were seemingly less competitive, in a sense maybe, even less complicated than our times ?  I certainly do wish like that. And no matter how weird this sounds, I will say it nonetheless. At such moments, I intensely hate my life like it is now. I hate how I wear a particular item of clothing, I hate the way the sound, I hate myself for all things that has everything and nothing to do with me.

Till.. of course reason lays a cold hand on me and I look around.. to see traffic lights, cafes,  thoroughfare, cars, cribs, mommies and daddies..but most of all how peaceful everything looks on the outside. And how it would not be so great nor feel good to be an anachronism. And then my reflection  in the mirror looks fine and acceptable...okay, maybe I just really need is a new pair of shoes :) or at most a few more bangs :)

Talking of such moments and movies and times moving back...or even actually having stopped.. and what not impossibilities it is that we dwell on, there is one way to literally turn back time and loose really nothing. You got it food!  And that reminds me I haven't told you about my culinary adventures over the Thanksgiving break :)

Over the course of the entire 4 and half day holiday period, I made two dishes which transcends time and generations . I am not going to write about any of the two recipes, which has no contribution from me. On second thoughts, I couldn't contribute to something which was from another century! But I must tell you about them. For making them was so much fun. I did everything which I never do. These were both spicy, took so very long to make and ended up rich and delectable. It was like dressing up for a fancy dress party or Halloween. To be what what you are not!

One was Murg Massallam. This is one recipe, which I believe, was a speciality of British Indian period and was handed down from the Mughal period. So mind you. This dish, as heavy sounding as it is, is a direct connection between you and me- Lord Mountbatten et al- emperor Akbar and his progeny. A heavy lineage. Is it true that the longer the history with the dish, the heavier it is? :)

Anyway this is just a cornish hen basted with oil/butter and a savory mix of yoghurt and spices, cooked slowly in a tandir oven. I, of course did it with olive oil in a regular oven. Turned out quite a looker. But the cool part is, R suggested ( he tells me that his grandfather is one who actually told him so) that it is best to put in some boiled eggs inside the hen. I couldn't find any recipe which suggested that. But we went ahead and stuffed the eggs in.  Must was fun to do so :)

So here it is: An egg-stuffed cornish hen, basted in spice and yoghurt handed down across generations and centuries.  A thanksgiving feast :)

The next one is Rogan Josh. Posted by Nat loves baking. This one is lamb ribs, slow cooked in a lovely and rick gravy of red lentils and a plethora of spices and yoghurt. Apparently Rogan Josh literally translates into 'spicy oil'. And this one was handed down to the Mughals by the  transcends even longer times :)

Nat, it was brilliant. The smell took a while to wisp away. And I hear the taste never did :)

So here is Rogan Josh

Happy eating and happy reminiscing :)

Nov 27, 2009

Lemon- Chicken soup. A cure for weariness

So Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday madness is gone too (I managed to keep things under 20$ !). And now, most of us face overfilled bellies, sluggishness and the fact that half the holiday is gone. Sigh..sigh..sigh...:). Good thing is, now, I get to read about all the wonderful posts and treats. I have often said that eating is an anticlimax of food. It gets over so quick. But food stories make their rounds forever and that is-- to me-- much much more fulfilling. But yes, the mind does get tired, just like the belly, of all the fantastic gourmet ' stuff and ings'. And it starts to crave a bit of sanity..a bit of banality ...a bit of ' lack of' fantasticness ( I coined this word :))

That was me today evening. Craving for something light and warm. But not without flavor. Not bland. And what do I make ? A warm, light soup-- all from my imagination. With a bit of enthusiasm from my sister. She told me of this awesome sounding soup that she had while vacationing among the green green mountains of the eastern Himalayas in India. Shillong-- the place is called.

She told me how she walked miles and miles on these winding roads, through valleys amidst green mountains and huge waterfalls. And on one such day she stopped in some little eatery ( basically a household kitchen opened up to serve food for a little money) and had this soup. Lemon chicken soup.

Sounded so soothing and light and fragrant..that I started off making it (she did not know the recipe) from what she described. Added bits and pieces. And voila ..a soup that, I believe, is comforting not just to the tired belly and the weary leg...but also to the mind, so full of richly goodness :)

Lemon chicken soup-- as I understand it :)

Ingredients (makes for two)

3/4 th cup of chicken. Cubed.
1/2 cup of chicken stock
A  small bundle of rice noodle. Broken into small pieces.
Tip: You can also use thin pasta, or even ramen noodles.

1 big garlic clove. Minced
1/2 a big tomato. Cubed
1 green chili. Chopped. You can substitute with jalapeno

2 tsp of corn flour
1 tsp of coriander powder. If you hate coriander powder, I suggest substituting it with cumin powder. Will have a different flavor..but will be equally great.

A handful of dill.
1/3 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups of water.

What is to making a soup? Boiling :)

Wash the chicken and place in a big pot. Add 2.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add the stock, garlic, tomato, chili and bring everything to a boil (You will notice that once you drop additional ingredients in a boiling pot, the boiling stops. So the idea is to bring it back to a boil). Let boil for 5 minutes. Add the broken noodles. Let boil. Meanwhile add 3 tbsf water to the cornflour and whisk till no clumps remain. Add the cornflour to the soup. Add the coriander/ cumin powder, the dill and squeeze the juice of the lemon into the soup. And Keep on the boil for ~ 5 minutes. Remember to stir all the time. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

You have your soup ready...and is that not healthy and flavorful?

Happy eating and healthy living!

Nov 24, 2009

Another fabulous award- A 'fishy' celebration.

What good news don't I share with a 'fishy' celebration?

This opener sets the stage for two things:-

One, I have some good news
Two, I am going to write about my favorite food in the whole wide world. Fish.

First things, First. Awards. I know that everyone is soon going to get very very busy with their birdies. And I can't wait for all the posts. Including mine. It is not a Turkey. But will keep that a secret, for now :).  I was talking of fish. No, awards. Sorry. I keep mixing up the two. Btw, a good fish dish to me is no less droolworthy than an award.  Okay, I spilled the bean. I got another fantastic award! From this fantastic blogger, Mae of Peas love carrots.

I have got to admit that it was this name,' Peas love carrots', which got me to her blog. Kind of reminded me of this lovely movie, Forest Gump, where Forest and Jenny are like ' peas and carrots'. Anyway we have a few things in common ( I got to know this after reading seven random things about her) , besides food and chemistry. She is super creative. Go check out her 3- ingredient challenge. It was incredible. Great recipes, cute layout and fabulous pictures. And what's more. Just three ingredients. Neat and super neat!

Now this award has a few strings attached to it. One of them being not-something-I-like. Seven random things about me. I am pretty random. So its difficult to sort my randomness out. But I'll try for the Sun :)

1. I don't like to eat. I love to cook. I feel eating is the anticlimax to cooking.

you guys..sure you wanna read any further? :) well...

2. I want to turn old (naturally and gradually of course) so that I can wear pearls and chiffon.

3. I want to be a writer someday. But then i also want my own restaurant..I also want to be a traveller...a journalist....

4. As a child I never wanted to be a chemist or a geologist. I am a geochemist. As a kid I hated cooking and told everyone, ' I will never cook'. I want to be a chef. Follow the idea?

5. I hate parties. More than four people gathering leaves me tired. Even the thought.

6. I  believe in fairies and intelligent life to be a natural fall out of planetary evolution. And I think there are scores of planet out there with intelligent life. It is a matter of time before we find out or better.. get found out

7. I think the world would be dead without Disney. I want to be the creator of something like Winnie the pooh. I don't think I will ever be that.

Okay random enough..and now the best part of the award. I have to pass it on to 7 bloggers. I feel confused. I have more than seven people who I would love to give this award to. So its hard to pick. But then well..comes with the territory. So, it is my honor to pass on this award to

1. The seventh level of boredom:  I really make some of her recipes. He blog is a treasure house of easy to do- great food!. And she features so many bloggers too!

2. Murasaki of the Samurai Viking Cuisine: She has some of the most simple and amazing recipes up her sleeve and she knows exactly how to make them look as pretty as they really are. 

3. Olga of Mango and tomatoes: Again a interesting blog. Has some real good recipes. But mostly I like the updates from her blogs on the ' hip-hop- happening' in the foodie world. A very personable style to boot :)

4. Palidor of the Crazy Asian Girl: One of my favorite bloggers, she knows to make Indian sweet dishes! I always thought one can never make them. You rock, Palidor!

5. Lex eat: I love love love her blog. Neat posts. She is now attending cooking school. And her updates are what draws me to her blog.  Bees to honey pot :)

6. Girlchief: The lesser I talk about this one, the better it is. He blog features some of the best fusion recipes that I come across. Me, being a fan of fusion that is. You are the chief of good food!

7. Dick of Dick's rambling cafe: Dick has some of the best southern- comfort food. I totally drool over almost all his creations. You surely need to build a real cafe , Dick :)

There are so many more I want to give this to. So I will just special mention. Girls are made of, Fairy footprints, a full timed housefly, Mad chemist, Chow and chatter, My columbian recipe...and the list goes on.

Now to the second part of my post today. A Simple fish dish. This one is my mom's recipe. And she would make this whenever me or my sister would fall sick. In need of flavorful-but easy to digest-lean protein and veggie filled- soupy dish. She told me her mom made it for her when she was sick and in need of ...the above.

So, being flu-cold season, with people feeling cold and sick, an easy-peasy age old fish recipe, to perk up your congested day :)


1 trout fish. Clean the fish and divide it into three or four pieces. You can also use any fish you like. All is good.

2 medium size potatoes- sliced thickly

1 small eggplant. cubed
1 green chili pepper- optional

half a tsp of nigella. You can use whole allspice as well.
half a tsp of grated ginger
A pinch of turmeric

A pinch of cayenne pepper optional

3-4 tbsf of regular oil

2 cups of warm water

salt to season.

It is really quite simple to do.

Season both sides of fish with salt. Take a tsp of oil and rub it on both your palm and just lightly brush the fish in that oil. This should be enough for all the pieces of that one fish. Place the fish on a baking tray and broil it on high for 20 minutes or till fish is white.

Soften your potatoes and eggplant in a microwave  for 2 minutes.

In a shallow skillet, heat the remaining oil. When hot, pop  the nigella ( or allspice). Wait a couple of secs.  Add the ginger . Fry for another minute. Add the turmeric and the cayenne pepper ( if you are using them, I don't). Fry for half a minute. Add the water. Here is a tip.Use as warm a water as you can. This makes any dish tastier. The hot water prevents clumping of spices which is what happens if you pour cold water or stock. If you are using stock take it out of refrigerator an hour before using. Will take that chill off . Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. That is your curry sauce.

You can now do either of the following

 1. Place the broiled fish in a serving tray and pour the sauce all over it

 2. Put the fish back into the sauce for a couple of minutes. And take the whole thing of the stove.

The second option allows more penetration of the sauce into the fish.

 Serve it with jasmine rice. Or some crunchy bread. Its awesome, especially if you are feeling under the weather. Good for your palate and easy on your tummy.

Happy eating and healthy living. Well maybe not so healthy is good for this week! :) :)

Nov 23, 2009

A layered salad: A layer of green to a red salad

Continuing with my fascination of the Mediterranean...from the 'Desert  recipe' to a healthier ( read low calorie), but equally delightful, recipe.  Israeli Salads. I did write about a Mediterranean Israeli Salad recipe a few weeks back. But without any pictures. This time around I have added a 'layer' to it and with pictures to boot too :). It is the same red colored assortment of veggies and fruits.  The dressing is more flavorful this time. However, I have a feeling that a salad is not really a salad till there is an element of green to it. 'Elementary, my dear Watson(s)'. 

I have dared to twist this line, given that Mr, Holmes never really said this sentence, ever in his life. He has said, many a times, ' Elementary' and ' My dear Watson'. But never ' Elementary my dear Watson'. :)  It is true. A very catchy trivia, I find.

Anyway back to Salads. As I was saying, I decided to add a green layer to the salad. So I make a red salad. And then lay it in layers between fresh Romaine/ or regular lettuce. Looks terrific. And very salad-y. So here  is my contribution to a very very Israeli salad. Layering it with green. 

So here is 'Layered Salad'


Any veggie you can find that is a variant of red, orange or purple or at best yellow :)

2 bell pepper-- one red and the other yellow. No greens please. Remember its all red!

2 big carrots

half a head of red cabbage.

5-6 radish

7-8 small tomatoes halved. If you are using regular tomatoes, just a medium size would do.

1 big apple

1 orange-- peeled and chopped into chunks. This will help release some of the flavors of the orange into the salad.

A big handful of cranberries. You can also use raisins instead of or together with the crans
7- 8 olives optional.
Okay I can't remember anything else that might be red. But feel free to keep adding.

4-5 leaves of Lettuce. Chopped into big pieces. So that they can be used for layering.
For the dressing

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil.

juice of half lemon-- freshly squeezed

1/3 a cup orange juice. Best is freshly squeezed

1 tsf honey. You can use 2 tsp of sugar as well.

2 tbsf Brown mustard. Optional
salt and pepper for seasoning

This dressing is so citrus and light that it actually can boast of being healthy, over most other dressings which use sour cream and cheese.

Now there isn't really much to do other than cut and toss!

Chop up all your veggies and fruits to chunk sizes. Keep the cuts similar so that they look pretty. Here is a little tip:- Shred the carrots, preferably in a grater.  And with the tomatoes scoop out the seeds. Will keep your salad crispy. Place em' all in a big big salad bowl. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, orange juice and honey. Pour it all over the salad. Add the cranberries or raisins and the olives. Toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper. 

Now comes the neat part. The layering part. Place your salad in layers, between spread lettuce leaves. The more the number of layers, the prettier it is! Chill for  a few hours before serving.

Look at the colors! it is a riot of em' all. And you sure will get an ' Ah! how lovely and gorgeous' from your guests. Any nation. I can tell ya. In fact this salad is so good and healthy, it rivals all other goodies you may have on the dinner table. Even entrees. 

Happy eating and a very very healthy living.