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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanking the turkey and digging into some Chicken in Orange Sauce

It’s Thanksgiving and the perfect time to be cooking up a delicious duck l’orange. Now this is a Calcutta favourite – and one of mine as well. And no other dish looks as lovely as a whole roasted duck, hot out of the oven, glistening in a rich orange sauce. The mixture of bitter-sweetness of the orange sauce and the ginger juliennes adds a unique taste to the dish. It’s also the perfect season for juicy sweet oranges, which helps make it as organic a dish as you can possibly whip up -- of course for most of us the fruits will come from the neighbourhood vegetable vendor and not a tree, but at least we know our intentions are good.

But since we can’t get our hands on a good duck usually or won’t eat duck –here’s a recipe for Chicken in Orange Sauce, which is almost as nice to eat and definitely much easier to cook.

Chicken in orange sauce

1 chicken – around 1.5 kg, cut into 12 pieces

1/2 tsp salt, to tase

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup flour

1/3 cup oil

½ cup chilli sauce/ any spicy sweet sauce (I sometimes use a dash of chili flakes and a 1/2 cup of white wine instead of chili sauce)

2 capsicums (chopped)

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp prepared mustard (Colman’s mustard powder is the best)

1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed)

1 tbsp dark brown sugar

2 tbsp soya sauce

2 oranges, sliced into rings

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.

In a bowl mix the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken parts in the mixture. Place a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Pour in the oil and lightly brown the chicken pieces. Then arrange the chicken in a baking dish – which you can also serve it in, like a casserole.

In a separate pan, place the remaining ingredients other than the orange slices and allow to simmer over low heat for about five to seven minutes – you’ll figure out it’s done as all the ingredients look well-blended. Keep stirring now and then. Taste and adjust the salt, keeping in mind that the chicken has already been salted.

Pour this sauce over the chicken pieces, cover with foil – if using a casserole then with a lid -- and place in the oven. Bake the chicken until it is tender, usually takes around an hour. Keep checking the chicken, you could inset a knife in it and to see hwo tender it is. The juices running out of it should be white and not pink. After an hour, place the orange slices on the chicken, remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. There should be a fair amount of sauce in the pan by now.

Remove from the oven and serve with either rice or thick bread, buttered potatoes and a green salad.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Viva o Viva - where the crabs are the way God intended them to be

Well it's been ages since I left a post, and there's no other excuse other than the fact that I've been lazy and a little too busy at the restaurant. But a fabulous meal, just yesterday, at someone else's restaurant has give me the much needed kick on the rear to write a new post.

I love Goan food, especially sorpotel and vindaloo and a nice fish curry, but sadly for me there are NO Goan restaurants worth their salt in Delhi. Till now, that is. I'd read a lovely article about this new chef-led restaurant in the recently opened Goa Niwas. The review was written by Rahul Verma, who I have high regard for because he loves my restaurant also.

A friend of mine, Radha and I made the trek to Chanakyapuri and found Goa Niwas, which has a strange deserted air about it. Like a ghost motel -- only a very fancy one, littered with beautiful installation pieces and horrible chintz covered furniture.

I'd called up the chef the day before and asked whether we needed a reservation, to which he tut-tuted and said no. So here we were in a large airy room with neon green plastic chairs and Mario Miranda placemats and a menu written on those fancy new blackboards on which you can write with a marker. A table of foreigners were already seated at a table and then there was us. Orders were only taken once the Chef had entered the restaurant, after visiting the fish market. And then what a spread we had.

Prawn peri peri (unlike what I've ever had even in Goa, this was dry and fried), Goan fish curry, rawa fried fish and the most humungous sized and delicious crab rechad I have ever seen or tasted. Both the fish dishes and the prawn were exteremly well flavoured and the prawn especially was really fresh. Like bona fide Bengalis we chewed up the heads you see, and they were just lovely and fresh and full of eggs and brain. (I'm sure I've made a few people hurl while reading this sentence, but seafood lovers will understand our joy). With streaming nostrils and no hankies, Radha and I could not have been happier.

The chef looked a little scared by our order though, but I think I noticed a glint of admiration in his eyes when he saw we'd polished off almost everything. The best part was the bill - a grand total of Rs 900. I still can't figure out how the crab was just 300 bucks though, but ours' was not to question why. Ours' was but to eat and die, very happily.

No pork came our way because he hadn't bought any pork that day. Another good sign -- all the produce is fresh. So, another visit is in the offing - just so we can catch the piggy who came back from the market. When you visit just make sure the chef is in, or you won't get any food. I'm still wondering what the table of tourists ate though, because they kept repeating loudly that they wanted the vegetarian thali. Poor buggers.

The crab picture given below is of the Brown Sahib Kankrar Dalna/ crab curry.

Cooking a lovely pomegranate chicken now -- will post the recipe if it turns out well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Inspiring blogs and korma kravings

I just read a fabulous blog post in The Guardian, about HP sauce and felt inspired to write immediately. It’s been a while, I know that. But I must claim that I’ve been awfully busy dealing with the restaurant, changing the menu and testing out the results. Ad it’s all been good as of now.

The last couple of weeks because I’ve had guests over, I’ve also managed to eat at a number of restaurants, other than my own. Learnt that while a number of them are serving absolutely fabulous food, others are sprinkling my food with hair every time I visit (is it a vendetta against me?). All in all though, I have to say the food scene in Delhi has changed for the better. Whether you want to eat authentic Cantonese food, Spanish food, Pakistani fare – Delhi seems to be serving it all up in dollops, without messing with the authenticity.

While I’ve been eating out lots, I’ve also started cooking at home again. And this week, I made my version of Shaada Korma (or white korma) with mutton. Here’s how it goes:

1 kg mutton

2 tbsps of ginger-garlic paste

250 gms of curd

1 tsp sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

8 dried red chilis

1 large bayleaf

3 cardamoms and 3 cloves and a six inch piece of cinnamon

1 tsp of nutmeg

3 tsps of kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

1 tsp garam masala powder

2 tbsp ghee (preferably made form cow’s milk and buffalo milk)

Marinate the mutton with the first 4 ingredients for as many hours as preferable, in the fridge. I marinated it for nearly 8 hours. Then heat the ghee, put in the bay leaf and the whole garam masala and wait for it to stop spluttering. Then pour in the mutton with its marinade (swill a little water in the marinade bowl and pour this in as well). Break the dried chilis into half and tumble into the pan and keep sautéing for a while till the mutton and its marinade changes colour. Add a cup of water, bring to a boil. Now turn down the heat to medium intensity, add the nutmeg, kasoori methi, garam masala powder, cover and let cook till the mutton is tender – this usually takes around 45 minutes on low flame. The gravy is usually thick and coats the mutton. If there’s too much gravy, dry it up slightly.

Once done, take it off the burner, take out a plate, put some hot rice on it and ladle the mutton on this and eat away.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Swimming upstream

So, I’m back – after a really long break from the blog. I’d like to blame it all on the stress of running a restaurant, dealing with unreliable vendors and duplicitous consultants et al – but the truth of the matter is, that I’ve just been plain lazy.

The onset of old age, a week or two of celebrating my birthday, accumulation of fat over the decades and metabolism which is even lazier than I am, has pitched me headfirst into getting myself into shape. Come death or disaster.

As a result, I’ve been trying to cook various things – which while supposedly healthy, are quite scrumptious. The other day, when I’d stopped by Modern Bazaar in Vasant Vihar to pick up some beef for the dogs --- and for myself – I spotted some fresh whole trout . So how could the Bengali in me resist picking it up. Here’s what I made. Hope you like it as much as I did.


Pre-heat your over to 200 degrees C.

Take the trout, and rub it all over with a spoon of olive oil first, then squeeze half a lime on either side of the fish. Then rub the fish with 1 tsp of freshly ground ginger-garlic paste, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of paprika. Make sure to spread the marinade in the centre of the fish as well – which had been cleaned and de-boned for me.

Take a glass/ ceramic baking dish large enough to hold the fish and drizzle some olive oil in it. Then coat the dish with chopped onions, sliced mushrooms and sprinkle some parsley on top.

Place the marinated fish on top of this base. Sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs over the fish – enough to coat it. Top with some chopped parsley. Most importantly, in the cavity of the fish, place some of the sliced mushrooms and parsley you scattered over the base of the baking dish. For an added tang, I also added some lemon slices int eh cavity. The juices tend to seep through the fish while it’s baking.

Place the baking dish in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Test that the fish is done. Then dig in. I had some mustard mayonnaise which I also dolloped on the fish.