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Monday, November 5, 2012

Three-minute chocolate coffee cake

So I just read a recipe posted by Jaya Nair and I had to try it out because it looked so yum and quick. A cake which can be microwaved in 2 minutes. This was too good to be true. But no, Jaya seems to be a messiah of sweet cravings which can be sated in minutes. May the dessert gods bless her. I no longer have to crave a hot chocolate fudge sundae from Nirula's at an unearthly hour. I can just whip this up. It's also a super-easy dessert to make if guests arrive suddenly. It took me 10 minutes from taking out the ingredients to taking the cake out of the microwave. I did tweak her recipe just slightly, because I'm a coffee and alcohol fiend. 

4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp sugar (white or brown)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp dark rum
3 tablespoons cooking butter (I used 2 tbsps butter and 1 tbsp saffola veggie oil)
2 drops of vanilla extract (optional)

How I made it:

Mixed the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add egg, milk, butter/oil, vanilla essence and rum. Fold well. Pour into a microwavable dish. Remember it will rise because of the baking powder, so your dish should be at least 1.5 inches above the level of the batter. Microwave for 3 mins. And it’s done. And was delicious. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Khao Suey (Burmese noodle and soup dish)

One of my favourite comfort foods and pick-me-ups of the non-sexual kind is a big bowl of Khao Suey. In Calcutta, every home has its own recipe for khao suey. Some use more coconut, others less, some have 20 accompaniments, some have 5. Some put bhujia on their khao suey, some would rather die than do that.

So since I was feeling particularly whiney, utterly unappreciated and like nobody’s child, I of course decided that it was high time I made myself a bowl of Khao Suey.

So here it is. All measurements are approximations. So tweak it to your taste. My friends and family lick the bowl clean every time I’ve made this, so I think if you stuck to the recipe you wouldn’t fare too badly. Enjoy.


1 packet egg noodles
2 tbsps garlic paste
2tbsps ginger paste
2 onions (paste)
2 tomatoes (skinned and pureed)
2 tsp red chili powder
500 ml coconut milk
250 gms boneless chicken chopped into small pieces

For vegetarians, replace the chicken with chopped mushrooms, brinjals and paneer

1 tsp freshly ground Garam masala (equal portions cinnamon, cardamom and clove)
1 small bowl chopped spring onions
1 small bowl chopped lemon
1 small bowl chili flakes
1 small bowl roasted garlic
1 small bowl crisply fried baby prawns
1 small bowl sliced boiled egg
1 small bowl chopped coriander

Take a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add the onion and ginger and garlic pastes. Saute till it changes colour. Then add the chili powder. Keep sautéing. Then add the chicken pieces. If making the vegetarian version, add the vegetables now. Keep sautéing till the chicken changes colour and is coated with the pastes. Then add the tomato puree and salt to taste. Once again, sauté till the tomato puree is cooked through. Then pour in the coconut milk, bring to a boil once and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the garam masala powder at the end, stir and take off the flame. 

In the meantime, boil the noodles.

To serve: 
Each person should have a large soup bowl, in which they take one serving of noodles. Top it with as much soup as they want and the accompaniments of their choice. The lime should be squeezed on the individual soup servings. 
We usually serve this at home with spring rolls and steamed momos.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chingri Malai Curry or The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

So I finally got over my laziness to write and decide to carpe the diem and the prawn. This is a staple in any Bengali home and the most bastardised dish in almost every restaurant, especially in good old Delhi.  But this is how we make it at home, and I’ve at least never got any complaints.
The recipe I’ve given is for prawns with their heads on. But if you’re using headless prawns, then skip the first step of smearing the prawn with haldi and salt and frying them. This is done with prawns with head, because the head takes a while to cook. Also two tricks to remember are, use fresh home-made garam masala. Not that rubbish you get in the market. And cook the prawns just till they turn opaque. No more. Or you’ll get some rubbery crustaceans to chew on. This is absolute comfort food and really luxe.  Enjoy.
Take 500 gms prawns.
If they have their heads on, smear them with turmeric and salt. And in hot oil, fry the prawns for barely 2-3 minutes till they turn pink. Remove prawns.
If they’re headless prawns, skip the earlier step.

In the same pan, add whole garam masala (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom). Once the garam masala stops spluttering, add onion paste of 1 large onion. Saute till it changes colour. Then add a tbsp of ginger paste and 4-5 slit green chilis and 1 tsp of chili powder. Keep sautéing. Then add the prawns, sauté till slightly pink.  Add a tsp of sugar and salt. 

Then add one tin coconut milk. Stir, let come to a boil. 
Cover and cook on low flame for 3 to 4 minutes. Add a tsp of garam masala at the end.  Stir, remove from fire. It should be a lovely pale yellowy cream colour. 

Dig in.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Feeling Crabby

I teach a cooking class nowadays, which has led to me cooking dishes which I rarely cook at home unless I get an order. As a result of which, I’m also getting to partake of some of my favourite home delicacies.

And today, after ages I cooked Kankrar Chorchori or Dry Crab Curry-Bengali style. And yes, I know the North Indian phobia against eating seafood during months with the letter R in it and the rainy season. All nonsense. Pay no heed to it. Go to your market, buy a kg of crabs. And to make sure you don’t actually get some fell monsoon disease, make sure the crabs are alive when you buy them. Then turn your head while they’re killed by the fishmonger. It’s all for a good cause after all – yummy for your tummy.
The picture was taken by a very dear friend of mine when I cooked it the last time.

Here goes:
In hot oil, add a tsp of panch phoron. When the panch phoron starts spluttering, add the paste of one large onion and a tbsp of ginger paste and a tsp of garlic paste. Saute. Add 1 tsp of chili powder and a 1tsp of cumin powder. Saute. Add some split green chilis. Then add puree of 2 tomatoes. Saute for 5 to 10 mins. Then add the crab (1 kg) and around two sliced potatoes which have been fried. Stir the crab and potatoe till coated with the masalas. Add a cup of water. And 1tsp of salt and sugar.  Cover and allow to cook on low flame for 10-15 mins till crab is done. Then sprinkle with garam masala (freshly ground) and take off flame.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Luscious creamy tomato soup (minus the cream)

Well, the mother’s here and sadly my food consumption immediately gets curtailed because she thinks I eat way too much. I wonder why?!! And like all good mothers she feels that if you packed up a doggy bag at a restaurant at lunch, you should finish it for dinner. So in the afternoon we’d gone and eaten at the quite-lovely Café Delhi Heights and packed up some Scamorza pizza – which we couldn’t finish off. And for dinner I was told that we would have to finish said pizaa and a soup and salad would be nice. So I whipped up a lovely creamy tomato soup – without a smidgen of cream – and some salad greens with home-made honey mustard dressing. Made me feel quite virtuous and healthy – but only for tonight. Don’t want to make a bad habit out of eating well. This really is the perfect comfort food, very very sumptuous and ideal for the last few days of winter.

  • 5 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (I just add a Maggi vegetable stock cube)


  • Take a pan, add a tbsp of butter and a tbsp of oil. Heat it and add the bay leaf. Let it sauté for 2 minutes. Add the chopped onion, celery, garlic, ginger and carrot. Saute and turn the flame to low. Cover the pan and let the vegetables soften for 10 minutes.
  • Then add the tomatoes and salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir the tomatoes, turn the flame back on low and cover the pan and leave on the flame for close to 30 minutes.
  • Uncover the pan, remove the bayleaf and let the tomato pulp cool down a bit. Remove the bayleaf and place the tomatoes in the mixer and puree. You could add some water at this stage.
  • The return to the pan and add the milk till you get a creamier colour. Add the vegetable stock till you get it to the consistency you’d like. Tweak the seasoning and serve with croutons. It’s delicious, I promise you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Heating it up with some mulled wine

One of the best things about Christmas and New Year’s, other than of course the good cheer and the Grinch, is the tons of good food and cocktails you get to indulge in. Now I’m not a wine connoisseur, so drinking sangria and Lambrusco makes me most pleased, and in winter I just love mulled wine simply because you can drink glassfuls of it while freezing away in the Delhi winter at least, and it feels like you’re having a warm toddy.

Delicious, full of Christmasy flavours and packing a punch while keeping you nice and warm, my vote for best drink for winter always goes to mulled wine. So here’s my version of mulled wine.


 One bottle of Merlot or Shiraz, I sometimes use the Sula Satori if push comes to shove
 250 ml of brandy. If you don’t have brandy you can use dark or white rum
 200 gms of brown sugar – depends on how sweet the wine you’re using is
 A handful of cloves and cinnamon sticks, star anise and 2 bay leaves
 500 mls of orange juice – I use it to dilute the alcohol slightly
 Peeled and chopped oranges – 2

And this is how you do it:

 Take a pan. Heat it. Turn the flame to low.
 Pour in the wine. Then the brandy. Stir in the sugar till it dissolves into the wine.
 Add the spices and leaves. Keep simmering.
 Add the orange juice to taste. See how strong you want the mulled wine and add as much as you want.
 Then add the oranges, cover the pan and let the liquid simmer for at least five minutes more. At no point should you turn the flame up, because the alcohol will evaporate and you’ll be left with just red spiced grape and orange juice.

And that's it. Make sure to serve the mulled wine warm, if not hot.