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Sunday, August 13, 2017


It’s been a while, but I’m back. I try to eat healthy now and then, which is a little difficult when I’m cooking food for people. The tough life of a bawarchi on hire. I’ve also realized that the only way to lose those last 5 kgs is by cutting off a limb. Nothing else is going to help. But since that’s a little extreme, I’ve started trying out some oil-free steamed fish recipes, which have turned out to be quite delicious.

What I do is wrap the fish with its marinade and some vegetables in a foil envelope and place it in the oven for around 30 minutes at 180 degrees. And ta-dah!

So these are the three marinades I tried and they were quite lovely.

Honey marinade
This works really well with a slightly stronger tasting and saltier fish, like salmon. I had a nice fat slab of Norwegian salmon. Mix together honey-a generous pinch of red chili flakes-garlic paste-salt-pepper. Don’t make it too sweet, so measure out the honey carefully. Just marinade the fish in enough marinade to coat it, for around an hour or more.    
I then placed it on a layer of asparagus spears with chopped yellow peppers or any other vegetable you fancy which isn’t too soft, sprinkled some dried parsley and wrapped it in foil and steamed it.

I had really good quality Mandarins at home, so I squeezed the juice of a quarter of an orange and cut the other half into circles. You can now get tilapia filets in the market, which work really well for bakes and pies. The marinade was of orange juice-garlic-fresh parsley-freshly ground pepper-salt-chili flakes. Mix together, pour over the fish (again, just enough to coat the fish) and leave for an hour.

Then take a foil sheet, place mushrooms or zucchini on the base, drizzle some marinade over it, then place the fish with the marinade, place the sliced oranges on top of the fish, fold the foil into a parcel and steam.

Being a good Bengali, I get a craving for Oriental food every hour by the hour. So instead of making something “continental”, I decided to try my hand at one of the fancy steamed fish dishes you get in restaurants. The marinade was of 1 teaspoon light soy sauce-1 teaspoon oyster sauce-a dash of vinegar-a dash of fish sauce-1 teaspoon brown sugar-1 teaspoon ginger paste-chopped lemon grass-chopped bird’s eye chili. I had a handful of mixed mushrooms and bok choy, which I placed some marinade on as well.

On a sheet of foil, first place the bok choy and mushrooms and then top it with the fish and marinade. 

Wrap the foil into an air-tight parcel and steam. There’ll be a lovely light sauce with the fish, which you can eat with rice.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Achari Murgh - or how to pickle your chicken

I made this really delicious Achari Chicken using Mounika Gowardhan – Cookinacurry’s recipe. I tweaked the recipe slightly, adding green chilis and potatoes (because I’m Bong and must have alu in my curry). It’s an extremely simple recipe which gives such a fab result. Also, I think it would definitely taste better if you cook this a day or two earlier, so that the chicken actually pickles a little bit. Use mustard oil for sure.

  • 500 gms chicken with bone in pieces
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 large tablespoon panch phoron
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (shorshe)
  • 2 dried whole red chilies - broken
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 onion finely sliced
  • 1 tomato - pureed
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 green chilis slit
  • 100 mls water
  • 100mls lightly beaten yoghurt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 large potato – boiled and quartered (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander to garnish (which I didn’t have, so didn’t use)


1.  In a pan, heat the mustard oil. Add the panch phoron. Sauté until it starts to sizzle and pop for a min or so. Also add the whole red chillies, stirring to make sure they don’t burn.
2.  Add the sliced onion and fry until light brown in colour and have softened for about 8-10 mins. To the pan now add the ginger/ garlic paste. Mix well. Stir in the tomato puree, turmeric powder and chilli powder. Cook for a couple of minutes till the oil leaves the sides of the pan.
3.  Add the chicken pieces and the potato cooking on a medium heat to make sure the pieces are sealed and coated in the gravy for 5-7 mins. Add the water and bring the curry to a boil, then simmer covered on a low heat cooking for 20 mins until the chicken is cooked through and succulent, stirring a couple of times
4.  At this stage, add the yoghurt and stir, making sure not to let it split and continue cooking on a low heat with the lid on for 5-7 minutes. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. Garnished with coriander. 
5.  I served it with pulao.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicken Ceylon Curry

One of the best parts of catering food for a living is that I get to cook and eat a lot of delicacies, which I wouldn’t bother to make for myself on an ordinary basis. Last week, I got an order for Chicken Ceylon Curry and was thrilled to bits, because such few people order Anglo-Indian food. This is a wonderful change from the usual chicken curry. It’s tangy and coconut-y and delicious with rice and extremely easy to cook.


  • 1 kg chicken on the bone (do not use boneless chicken because the bones will impart their own flavour, I tend to use chicken legs and thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 4 slit green chilis
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 8 to 10 curry leaves
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon methi/ fenugreek seeds
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground garam masala powder


  • Place a pan on the gas. Add the chicken, ginger, garlic, green chilis, sliced onion, curry leaves, coconut milk, pepper, coriander-chili-cumin-turmeric powders, salt and tamarind paste. Stir, cover and cook on low heat. No oil is to be added at this stage.
  • After the chicken is almost fully cooked, say for 15-20 minutes, check seasoning.
  • Then take a smaller pan, add the vegetable oil and add the chopped onion and the methi seeds. And cook till the onion is brown. Then add the oil and the onions and the methi into the pan with the chicken and stir well.
  • Cook for 3 to 5 more minutes.  Add the garam masala, stir well and take off the gas.
  • Eat. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Keema Chops and eating well

If there’s one thing Bengalis love – especially my family – it’s eating and feeding others. This keema chop is usually made in homes in Calcutta, I've never seen it in a restaurant, and is usually served at parties. I learnt the recipe from my grandmother and it’s a hybrid of a Bengali and Anglo-Indian recipe. It’s a little tedious to make, but well worth the effort. You can serve it as a starter or as a main course. Hindustan Times Brunch did a special on three starters you must make this Diwali and asked me to share the recipe. 

For the filling
400 gms mutton mince
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
100 gms chopped coriander elaves
4 green chilies chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon freshly ground garam masala powder - equal portions of clove, cinnamon and cardamom
2 onions chopped

For the potato covering
5 large potatoes – peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
50 gms butter
For frying:
2 eggs – beaten

To make the filling:
Take a pan and pour 2 tbsps vegetable oil in it and heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and sauté. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and keep sautéing.  
Once the onion has browned slightly, add the mince and brown well. Then add the sauces – soy and Worcestershire. Keep stirring.
Then add the coriander leaves, sugar, chilis and salt to taste. Then add the lime juice and garam masala powder. The mixture should be very fragrant by now.
Add some water and keep on simmer till the mince is cooked through. There should be no water in the pan.
Remove the mince mixture and allow to cool. You can make this a day in advance.
To make the potato covering:
Boil the potatoes till cooked totally. Drain all the water and mash the potatoes while hot with salt, pepper and butter. Leave the mashed potatoes to cool.
To form the chop:
Flatten the mashed potato on your palm and form a base of around ¼ inch thickness. In the centre of the flattened potato base, place 1 round ball of mince. Close the potato mixture around it to form an egg shape – keeping the mince in the centre as the filling.
To fry:
Roll the egg shaped chops in beaten egg and then cover with breadcrumbs.
Deep fry till golden brown.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fancy a Cheesecake Brownie?

Do you like cheesecake? And brownies? Here’s the perfect recipe to marry the two and give yourself a sugar high in the process. But a delicious sugar high at that. I’d heard about cheesecake brownies for ages, but never eaten or made one. Since I seem to have a lot of free time on hand nowadays, I found myself a recipe and decided to try it. End result, everyone who ate it seems to be utterly enamoured by it. I still prefer my brownies and cheesecake separate. But hey, we must give the people what they want. And if cheesecake brownie is what they want, then cheesecake brownie is what they’ll get.
Don’t skip any of the steps, or take shortcuts. You absolutely must let the cake cool in the fridge for 3-4 hours, if not overnight. Otherwise the cheesecake layer won’t set. Also, this is best eaten chilled. The brownie layer is more fudge-like, than cake-like.
Here goes.

120 grams butter
120 grams dark chocolate
200 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
65 grams flour

Cream Cheese/ cheesecake layer:
225 grams full fat cream cheese, at room temperature (I used Flanders Mascarpone)
65 grams castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tbsp dark rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Prepare a baking tin, around 8-9 inches with baking paper.
In a double boiler (take a glass bowl which won’t shatter with heat, and hold it over a pan of simmering water), melt the butter and chocolate.
Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract and rum. Then add the eggs,

one at a time. Keep whisking. Stir in the flour and keep whisking the batter. Remove 1/2 cup of this brownie batter and keep it aside. Pour the rest of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
For the cheesecake layer:
In another bowl, whisk the cream cheese/ mascarpone with a hand mixer till it is smooth. Then add the sugar, vanilla, and egg and beat till creamy and smooth. Now spread this batter over the brownie layer. Spoon little drops of the reserved brownie batter on top of the cream cheese batter. Run a wooden skewer through this top layer till it has a marble effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for about30 minutes or until the brownies are set. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Do NOT take it out of the tin. Then cover and refrigerate the brownies  for 3-4 hours or overnight. Once chilled, remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the baking paper and transfer to a flat surface. With a sharp knife cut into squares. Keep wiping the knife with a damp cloth between cuts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How To Make The Most Divine Mutton & Mince Korma Ever

Around a month back I read a recipe from Pamela Timm's book - Korma, Kheer and Kismet. It was a mutton korma recipe from Ashok and Ashok Meat Dhaba. Very few ingredients and the deadly combination of mince AND mutton. I finally got around to making it and it is simply delicious. I tweaked the recipe slightly, skipping the slow cooking process totally.  Here's how I made it.

3 tbsp ghee (I used cow ghee)
1 onions, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic 
1 tbsp garam masala 
1 brown cardamom 
3 green cardamoms 
3 cloves 
5 black peppercorns 
250 gms minced mutton (I got it put through the mincer twice) 
600 gms mixed shoulder and rack of mutton 
1 tsp turmeric 
1 heaped tsp red chilli powder 
2 tsp salt 
6 green chilis finely chopped
5 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped 
Grated ginger and chopped coriander to garnish
Melt the ghee in a large pan. Add the onions, ginger and garlic and cook until well browned, 10-15 minutes. Add the garam masala, brown and green cardamoms, cloves and peppercorns and stir well. Add the minced mutton and mutton pieces, coating well with the spices. Stir in the turmeric, chilli powder and salt.
Then cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes until everything is well browned. Add the chopped tomatoes, chilis and enough water to cover the meat. Pressure cook for 12 whistles.
Check seasoning and add more salt or chilli if required. Garnish with grated ginger and fresh coriander.
You should ideally eat it with roti. But being a good Bong, I ate it with rice. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Goalando Steamer Chicken Curry - Sharing The Joy

 The story goes that Goalando Steamer Chicken Curry is named after a curry which was served on a steamer which used to carry people across the Padma river. Goalando was the name of a tiny railway station on the Padma bank. From here passengers would cross the Padma on steamers to make their way to Narayanganj and then to Dhaka by train. The steamer ride was an overnight journey and the boatman would supposedly cook a chicken curry with the bare minimum of spices and ingredients. And it is this chicken curry which is the Goalando Steamer Chicken Curry.

I tried to make it for the first time tonight. And boy, was it wonderful. It is extremely easy, stunningly delicious and is perfect for a day when you realise that you forgot to restock your spice cupboard. I looked at a bunch of recipes and all of them had some constants. I did tweak the recipe slightly (and I’ll let you know where), but you can just stick to the original recipe.

This uses no water and has a lovely red gravy. The wonder is when you peep into the pan while the chicken cooks and watch what seems to be a dry chicken, slowly start swimming in gravy, and then watch the colour of the gravy change from yellow to a sunset red.

You can leave out one of the chilis used – red or green - if you’re spice averse. I used both and think they both add their unique flavours to the gravy and the specks of green and red look lovely in the gravy.

1 kg chicken pieces on the bone
6 onions - sliced 
2 tablespoons garlic - freshly minced
2 tablespoons ginger - freshly minced
4 dry red chillies - bashed into small pieces
8 green chillies - sliced 
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ cup mustard oil (do not scrimp on this)
1 teaspoon salt

Marinate the chicken in all the ingredients and keep it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Heat a pan and add the marinated chicken to it. First cook on high flame for 2 minutes, till the chicken starts boiling. Then turn the flame to medium and cook the chicken with a lid on. You can keep checking the chicken and stirring it. In about 20-30 minutes (depending on the quality of your chicken), you should be done. The pan will have a lovely reddish gravy from the onion. Do not add any water.

I also added a teaspoon of sugar in the marinade, which is pretty imperceptible in taste, but accentuates the spiciness of the dish. The onions will impart a sweet balance as it is, so you can skip the sugar if you’d like.

Serve it with hot rice. This is truly delicious. I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of the final dish, but I ate it up before I could take a picture.