Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Baked Prawns in Creamy Garlic Sauce

I've been making a lot of in-and-out dishes lately. That is, dishes that require you to zoom into the kitchen, do some quick stirring, and zap back out. This is One Such. Here's the how-to:

Take ten or twelve shelled and be-headed (and de-tailed, if you like) prawns. Not enormous ones. If they are large, cut them along the vein to make one into two. Wash and clean then, then leave them alone to dry. No marinade! Now, prep the other ingredients thus: mince about six cloves of garlic. Aww, no no, stick to three if that's all you can handle. Chicken. Yes. Anyway. Take six cloves of garlic. Peel and mince them. Now, either make a paste of dry red chilies (with a green thrown in to take the edge off), or, if you're sensible and avoid dry red chilies, just wash and chop about three green chilies (unless, that is, you're all delicate like. In which case you'd best abandon this ship now. It's going to get worse). Finally, chop a couple of shallots/green onions, stalk and all.

So, after you're all prepped, heat a tablespoon of butter in a wok.

Aww, I kid! Sunflower oil will do just fine.

No, really. One tablespoon of butter. In this, when warm and liquid, add the minced garlic. When fragrant, add the chilly paste, or the chopped green chilies. Stir quickly for about a minute. Add the chopped green onions. Just the onion parts, mind. Show some more wristwork. Then, stir in the prawns and if you're flame wasn't already on simmer, do it ASAP or the prawns will harden. After lightly tossing the prawns in the garlicky, warm butter and watching their juices mix with it for a minute or so, add a cup of fresh or heavy cream. If using fresh cream, whisk it lightly before adding to the wok. Stir this well. When it's been folded in well, add the green stalks of the green onion, toss, taste for salt and heat, add chili flakes if you want, and take it off the flame.

NOTE: this sauce can stand the addition of a lot of mild-flavoured cheese, but I'm watching out for my poor ole heart these days, so I skip it. No reason why you should, though :-)

This sauce is ready to eat straight off the wok, with a baked potato on the side or a small bowl of rice. It goes wonderfully well with pasta of most descriptions, too. However, I prefer it best baked. You can either bake it on a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, topped with cheese or breadcrumbs (or both), or you could bake the sauce-mixed-pasta, with a similar topping. I've even had it baked on top of a layer of mashed potatoes. It was divine.

Go on then, try it. And tell me how it was. Utterly delicious, or merely very good? ;-)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chicken with Red Chilies and Coconut Milk

This is a very quick update of a very quick recipe, perfect for this damp, chilly weather. It's a steaming, aromatic pot of fiery red chicken curry, tempered delightfully by the light tangy sweetness of coconut milk.

First, wash the chicken and marinate in salt, minced garlic, lemon juice and holud/turmeric. My greataunt has converted me to an ardent turmeric user this winter (I never did before). According to her, it practically cures cancer. Anyway. So you marinate the chicken, and let it steep for half an hour or so.

In the meanwhile, prep the spices. It's tres simple: take a handful of dry red chilies, depending on your personal threshold. You should use at least five, in my opinion. Personally, I use about twelve, plus a couple of green chilies to temper the flavour (dried red chilies have a harsh undercurrent that I don't enjoy). To this, add a level teaspoon of sugar (a little more if you prefer); three or four pinches of salt; about an inch of ginger, peeled; five or six gloves of garlic; three-fourths a large or one medium onion. Grind them together in a thick paste.

Now, the cooking. Lightly saute the chicken and then keep it aside. In the same wok, add a little more oil if you need it -- I'd prefer sunflower/canola for this dish -- and pour in the paste. There really shouldn't be more than a teaspoon of oil in the wok when the paste goes on, so you'll have to cook it on a simmering flame. Once the paste becomes lightly fried and fragrant, add almost a whole teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powders, or half a teaspoon each of their homemade paste. Cook the entire paste till the oil separates from it, and then add four or so tablespoons of coconut milk. Scrape up the sides of the wok. Taste the simmering mixture for salt/sugar balance. Make adjustments. (Some say dark soya sauce is wonderful in this mix as well, but I've never tried it.)

Now, add the sauted chicken back into the wok. If the flavour of coconut milk in large quantities is too overpowering for you, add water enough to immerse the chicken. Cover and cook till tender. If you're not averse to the flavour, add more coconut milk and just a little water. Cover and etc. When the chicken's done and you still have too much gravy left -- unlikely -- then boil it off at medium flame. When it's reached the consistency you want, turn off the heat, sprinkle half a teaspoon of garam masala powder (slightly less if home-ground and potent), mix it in, and cover. Let it infuse for a few minutes. Serve with steaming rice :-)

It. is. deee. licious.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Winter Vegetable Stir-fry

Apparently, men cook briefly during courtship, and women cook forever thereafter. *I* cook whenever I want something that isn't deeply and completely Bengalil, because for the d. and c.-ly B we have a cook, and no one else in Chez Rimi is remotely interested in anything else. Which is why I cook during sleepy afternoons and late evenings, when the rest of the household is safely away from the kitchen-zone and probably snoozing.

And then I have to chew the cud, figuratively speaking, till the bowls of my culinary production have been polished off.

In other words, there's an excellent reason this blog hasn't been updated since September; I can eat the same bloody thing for only so many bloody meals.

However, winter is such a wonderfully tempting time to wander into the kitchen, that I haven't been able to resist a bit of stirring and boiling lately. This is an astonishingly simple recipe that I resort to often. It needs vegetables, salt, a touch of sugar, and half a teaspoon of soya sauce. It's a miracle!

Here's the picturebook:

First, decide what vegetables you want, and chop them up. I have broccoli, baby corn, carrots, mushrooms and green beans.

Blanch the 'hard' vegetables -- carrots and corn for about seven minutes, broccoli for about a minute and a half.

Then drain them.

Now heat a little oil. Fry minced garlic really well. You may even add about 1cm of peeled and minced ginger, if you like that sort of flavour. When the garlic (and ginger) is fragrant, add the hard veggies -- carrots, beans, corn.

Toss them gently for about four minutes. Then add the sliced capsicum (bell pepper).

When the capsicum smells sweet and lightly friend, add the chopped mushrooms. Stir in. Now add half a teaspoon of salt, two pinches of sugar, and a quarter teaspoon soya sauce. Fold in very well.

Add three teacups of water.

Toss occasionally for about half a minute on high, then cover and simmer. Cook till the vegetables are tender. Taste the broth to see if you'd like more salt or a touch more sugar (or soya, or any other sauce -- but I'd say keep it simple).

This dish is about decisions. Once the vegetables are tender and you lift the lid off, you have to decide: do I eat this as an incredibly lovely soup with tender yet firm vegetables, or do I let the hot, delicious broth dry in the pot and turn this into a light stir-fry to go with boiled rice?

I leave that decision up to you. I ate it, yesterday, as a steaming bowl of nutritious, yummy soup, and today as stir-fried vegetables with rice :-)  I can tell you this, though: whichever way you eat, you'll love it. And it's SO easy. So get cracking, people. It'll take you fifteen minutes, but you'll remember the almost unbelievably light-yet-rich flavour for a long, long time :-)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Rimi's Special Kosha Mangsho

I made killer kosha mangsho today. And in the process, I created a wonderful secret ingredient.

Unlike my usual posts, this recipe is not illustrated, but I hope the flavour of this yummy dish will be a more than adequate recompense.You *must* try it.

You'll need an inch of ginger and four or five cloves of garlic, minced or ground together. A whole medium onion, three green chilies, and a small, firm tomato, pasted. Half a small onion, diced. 1.5 teaspoons each of cumin and coriander powder or paste, preferably made at home from whole seeds. Quarter teaspoon of turmeric paste. 5 or 6 tablespoons of curd/yogurt/doi. Whole garam masala (cinnamon sticks, cloves, green cardamom). Mustard oil, sugar, salt.

Marinate 500 to 700 gms of well-cleaned mutton in the doi, salt, and turmeric powder. If you like, you may also add the onion and tomato paste, plus the ginger-garlic mince here. Let this stand, covered, for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.

In a pressure cooker, heat and then cool a tablespoon of mustard oil. Saute four peeled and halved potatoes in it till the spuds take on a lightly golden colour. Drain and keep 'em aside.

To the same oil, now add lightly-malleted cinnamon sticks, green cardamom and cloves. When you can smell the spices frying -- and it's a heavenly smell -- add a teaspoon of sugar. Keep tossing till the sugar begins to melt (but not caramelise -- you don't want your kosha mangsho to taste like the upside of a burnt caramel custard). Once the sugar dissolves a little, add half a small onion, diced. Stir gently but constantly, till it's all nicely golden/brown. Scoop the spices, sugar and onions up from the oil, grind them to a paste, and keep it aside.

In the same pot, heat two more tablespoons of oil, and then let it cool for a minute. Lift the mutton off its marinade, shaking off as much of it as you can. Lay them carefully into the oil, and when its all in, begin tossing gently to fry all sides of each piece. This will take a while because you must do it on a low flame. A high flame will harden the meat.

Once the meat is browned, add the marinade. If you hadn't added the ginger-garlic and onion-tomato pastes to the marinade, add them to the pot now. Stir thoroughly for the first five minutes, making sure the paste doesn't remain raw and coats the meat well. Now add the cumin and coriander powder or paste (if it is a powder, mix it with a little oil to make a thick paste), with a teaspoon of sugar and quarter a level teaspoon of salt. Over the next ten minutes, stir occasionally, letting the spices roast and separate from the oil.

When it does separate, add the potatoes, toss the entire pot about till it mixes well with the spices, juices, and richly-flavoured oil, then add three cups of water. Use your spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan, and whirl them into the water you just added. When that's done, add the sugar, onion and garam masala paste you made. Stir well, dissolving it.

Now put the lid of the pressure cooker on, and let it simmer for about an hour. The whistle will probably go off twice or thrice in between, but don't turn the flame up just to make it sound. The more pressure the mutton is under, the more tender it will be. Patience is a virtue ;-)

Serve the wonderful final conoction with steaming white rice, or pulao, or parathas, or rooti. Bon apetit!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Banana Chocolate Biscuits


I've had some dark chocolate lying in the fridge for a deeeeliciously long time. Call it laziness, call it the comfort of nibbling a magically unending bar of chocolate, but I kept that bar in the fridge for almost a month. Till guests with ickle children came along, and my mother promptly said, right in front of them, "Isn't there some chocolate in the fridge? Maybe you can finally do something with it!"


Anyway, I'm not a big fan of bananas myself, and I definitely don't want them in my lovely chocolate. But the moment the children saw the bananas in the fruit bowl, they had to have banana-chocolate mousse.

Well. All right then. Good chocolate gone to waste. Or so I thought, while I set about making the mousse. However, in the middle I changed my mind, and started making fruity chocolate biscuits, because I've had the recipe in my mind for a while, and wanted to see if the pracs matched up to the theory. And when I was done, I must say, they turned out radically different from the sickly-sweet mess I expect all banana desserts to be.

So, here goes the picture book :-)

 Peel a frozen banana.

 Chop it up. Then mash it with a fork.

Now, in a wok, melt two teaspoon of butter on the lowest stovetop heat. Swirl the melted butter all around the wok, then gently slide in three teaspoons of flour (I used whole wheat) and stir with a spatula till it begins to turn golden brown. Then, whisk in half a cup of milk. If you like a smoother texture, you can use half heavy cream instead of all milk.

If at any point you think the wok is getting too hot and the mixture might char, take it straight off the flames and do the next few mixings by putting the wok on a cool table-top or stone slab.

 Then, add the mashed banana. Mix well. 

 Pour in a tablespoon of the chocolate sauce. Whisk.

 When it is evenly mixed in, add another two tablespoons (or three!), and mix it in.

The chocolate sauce:
Is tres simple. You take small pieces of dark, semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, top with milk, and heat for about thirty seconds. Given it twenty seconds to stand, then make an even sauce by whisking it.



The biscuits:
No dough required. That's the best part about these biscuits. You just coarsely grind some Marie biscuits, mix in a teaspoon of water to hold it together, then pour tiny, equally spaced heaps on a well greased baking tray. Then, you flatten each heap, so you get a tray full of this:

Bake this at 170/180C for five to ten minutes, till they take on a lovely chocolately shade. Or, you could leave them as-is. I like the slightly toasty flavour of baking ready-to-eat biscuits :-)

Then, you add a generous dollop of the banana-chocolate mousse on each flattened heap. Even it with the back of a spoon, if you have to. Then, pour another tiny heap on each biscuit, and flatten it again. Bake for another ten minutes. Voila! Heavenly banana chocolate biscuits are ready!

You can eat them as-is, or doused in chocolate sauce, or doused in chocolate and then frozen. I love the last option the best :-)


Go on, then. Such an amazingly easy chocolate recipe, aren't you going to give it a try? :-)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Whole Wheat Mushroom/Chicken Pie

Much too late in the season to help farmers, we've been having a spell of cold breezes and rain. Almost overnight, the weather has changed from the daal-bhat-lemon juice kind to the hearty soup type. Which is why I made a version of my savoury chicken pie, much a quicker, much less elaborate one, in a whole wheat crust (recipe for crust here).

It was very very yum.

Now, very quickly, this is what went into the pie, sharp enough to counter the chilly, wet weather. Skinned, cleaned chicken cut into small chunks. You can use meat-on-bone -- it gives the filling a better flavour, I think -- but before putting it into the pie, you'll have to pick out and chuck the bones. The chicken's substitutable with chopped mushrooms, by the way. Now, in a wok, heat a teaspoon of butter or white oil (sunflower, canola/rape seed) over a low heat. When it melts/warms, stir in half an onion, diced; one green chilli, chopped fine; and half an ich of ginger, peeled and minced (two cloves of garlic minced, optional). Keep stirring till fragrant.

Add the chicken, with a little salt, and stir like mad. When the meat changes colour from pink to white to golden-brown, add water (or chicken stock), cover the wok, and simmer till the meat is tender. Add enough water or stock so that when you're done, there's still quite a bit of gravy.

 A small greased earthenware bowl, lined with the crust. Make incisions in it.

 Pour in the filling. See the chilies? And how much gravy there is?

 Now, cover it with another piece of the crust, seal, and make incisions.

 Just baked! The perfect chicken pot-pie in twenty-five minutes!

 With thickened, delicious, savoruy gravy inside. Just the way pies should be, and not the way pies usually are these days, all dried meat pieces within.

Make this quick, people! The weather will not last :-) :-) 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Cambodian-style Chicken in Coconut-milk Curry

I can never ever be a food-blogger, unlike our resident Rimilet, because I have not the patience to take and upload pictures et al, especially where cooking is concerned. I'm more of an impulse cook, relying on improvisations above all else -- sometimes these kitchen experiments turn out well, and at other times, heh. :)

Tonight, at about 10 pm, I decided to cook a chicken curry with a coconut-milk broth base, vaguely inspired by Cambodian style fresh ground-spice-mixture cooking. The recipe here is totally improvised, based on my cooking common sense, and I used what I have in my kitchen for the most part. This one was decidedly a success, yess. For a change, I had my camera around, and so, voila!

The recipe here is approximate in terms of amounts of ingredients, etc. Go by your general cooking instincts, people. It works well.

Disclaimer: this was done in an American kitchen, plus I sourced a lot of the ingredients from my friendly neighbourhood pan-Asian grocery store (thank you Chun Ching!), so I have a bunch of ingredients not readily available in the usual Calcutta rannaghor. Just substitute them as you see fit :)


1) Marinating the chicken:

I used skinless, boneless chicken thigh pieces, roughly cubed. I have about 830gms (1.8 lbs) of chicken in here.

Then added salt, ground black pepper, 3 tablespoons (approx) of rice wine vinegar, and some Korean red chilly paste.

Note: You can substitute plain vinegar/lime juice for the rice wine vinegar, or even use an unripe papaya for this -- the idea is to tenderise and flavour the meat. And you can substitute red chilly powder for the Korean chilly paste.

All mixed together, now :)

2) Making the spice paste/chopping veggies:

Garlic, ginger (chopped into long, thin, julienned strips), onions -- the base to any good curry, mamah. I chanced upon a giant mutant conjoined-twin onion, and it made pretty patterns when cut, yess.

Next, making the spice-paste! It should be uber-simple for anyone with a mixie/grinder/food processor. But I had only a grater available, so grated everything by hand -- ah well.

Zesting a lemon -- the tangy smell is bloody heavenly.

PS Lime (i.e., paati lebu) is better, folks, but I had only lemons handy. If you have lime leaves/lebu pata too, nothing like it --- just add it to the mixie!

Adding citrusy leaves to ground-spice-mixtures is a hallmark of Cambodian cooking, I learnt last summer. (As is adding galangal and chopped bamboo shoot, but alas, I didn't have these on me.)

To the lemon zest, add a paste of basil leaves (tulshi pata).

Shilnora works for this. Rimi assures me, however, that tulshi in a mixie/grinder becomes bitter, so maybe paste the tulshi by hand, even if you have a grinder?

(The smell brought back memories of my granddad, who used to have tulshi pata paste with Chawan Prash every single evening. )

Next, add lemongrass paste. I added approx 2 tablespoons. Fresh trumps out-of-a-tube any day, but the problem with impulse-cooking at 10pm is that stores are closed by then :(

Above, you see the lemongrass paste added to the basil-lemon zest mixture.

Grated ginger and 3 green chillies join the fray! Aaand the spice-paste is done :)


I used sesame seed oil (about 2 tablespoons), because I love the smell and the flavour it brings, but any vegetable oil should do, really.

PS that is Honu in the background, playing my swing music Pandora station while I cook <3

Fry the onions, adding a bit of turmeric and a shake of dried ground basil leaves.

After the onions have become somewhat translucent, add the chopped ginger and garlic, saute a bit, and then add the spice-paste.

Saute, like so :)

Depending on how hot you like your curry, now is the time to ponder adding some split dried red chillies to the saute-mix in the pan. I put them in, because the wee smidgen of Korean red chilly paste (called gochujung, as Panu informs me) and 3 chilles pasted into the spice mixture isn't hot enough for me. 

The chicken goes into the pan next.

Fold it in prettily, so that the onions-spicemixture-garlicky-gingery heavenliness coats the chicken pieces thoroughly. Fry this for a few minutes until the chicken pieces get browned.

Add the coconut milk once the chicken is somewhat koshaofied.

PS Lookit me sneakily promoting brand of coconut milk in this shot, heh :P I am clever like that.

Check the salt/sugar balance (I added a pinch of sugar to the broth at this point), stir the whole mixture, and bring to a boil.

Once the gravy starts bubbling, turn flame to the lowest setting, cover pan with a lid and let simmer until chicken is done.

Just before taking off the heat, garnish with fresh basil leaves to prettify and also to add a burst of full-bodied flavour to the already delicious broth.

Serve over steamed rice (I have jeera rice in here), and enjoy :)