Monday, February 4, 2013

The Invention Test with Prawn Bharta

I love Masterchef. In all forms, age groups, formats and versions. In fact the Indian format comes across as very endearing (albeit a little melodramatic at times!). Maybe because I am Indian and I love melodrama myself. Or maybe I have exaggerated emotion overflow (I really don't know whether the term exists but you get the point). Well anyway, coming back. One thing that I really like there is the Invention Test. This is where a box of ingredients (sometimes with odd combinations) is given to each of the contestants, which they then transform into something truly magical. This one really pushes you to the edge and brings out the true innovator in you.

I have had quite a few inventions up my sleeve, some of which have often questioned my ability to cook. Or the lack of it. This delightful, super spicy Prawn Bharta is incidentally one of the better ones. 

Prawn Bharta (Ground prawns cooked in a spicy red chilli paste)

100 gms medium sized prawns

1 onion (1/2 onion finely chopped + 1/2 onion ground to a paste along with 3-4 garlic cloves.)
1 heaped tsp of red chilli paste/ sambal (reduce if you want it less spicy)
1/2 red chilli powder
1/2 tsp tomato ketchup (optional)
1/2 turmeric
1/2 tsp Chopped coriander

Here's How:
Grind the prawns to a paste. Heat oil in a pan. Add the onion + garlic paste and saute.Then add the chopped onion and sauté till a little browned. Add red chilli paste/sambal, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, ketchup(optional) and fry the masala. Then add the ground prawns. Stir till the prawns begin to get a little opaque. Finish with coriander. Serve with piping hot rice. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Back in business with Murgh Labaabdaar

Okay, confession time. If I had to give an award for the Laziest Person on the Planet, I without much consideration would give it to none but myself. That is what explains my long absence from Let’s Pakao! While I could write some ten blogs on the number of excuses for neglecting this one, I think I’ll just stick to the plain old truth. I have been simply lazy.

I also have been moving houses (Okay, that would be one of THE excuses). Now if you ask me, there’s nothing more exhilarating than moving to a new place, getting familiar with it, doing it up the way you want. Of course at the cost of packing and unpacking never ending number of boxes, which seem to magically multiply by the dozen, every time I think I am done with sorting them out! I was practically beginning to see boxes and cartons flying  in my sleep, while I was sitting at a corner howling my lungs out. It was truly a trying time for me and the husband. If you have had similar experiences, you’ll know what I mean

Now that I am done with all the boxes and my rant, I’ll come back to the blog. I saw this deliciously creamy chicken recipe on TV the other day and decided to reprise it in my kitchen. Now technically, Murg Labaabdaar translates as Chicken That Makes You Want to Lick Your Lips, but I guess that’s too long a name to remember or even refer to for that matter. You just can’t go around saying, “I cooked Chicken That Makes You Want to Lick Your Lips yesterday..”. That would be downright absurd. What you can do is make some at home to enjoy with family and friends.

Murgh Labaabdaar (Chicken cooked in a rich gravy with a hint of cream and cheese)
250 gms boneless chicken (cut into thin strips)
3 medium sized tomatoes chopped
2 finely chopped onions
½ cup tomato ketchup
½ cup tomato puree
½ cup cream
1 tablespoon grated cheese
1 tbsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp elaichi powder (ground cardamom)
1 tsp kasoori methi
1 tsp honey
Corn flour
Ground pepper
Sugar and Salt to taste

Here's How:
Marinate the chicken with some cornflour, ground pepper, salt and an egg.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the chopped onions and sauté till they get a little browned. Add all the masala, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, ketchup and sauté well.  Meanwhile lightly cook the marinated chicken pieces (do not deep fry them) in a separate pan and add them in your gravy. Then add the cream and grated cheese (you can also use your regular cheese spread) to the gravy and stir well for the chicken to get cooked in the masala. Add  honey, cardamom powder and kasoori methi to finish. If you want your Murg Labaabdaar to look pretty on your dining table, you can garnish it with grated cheese and some swirls of cream. Serve hot with rotis or parathas. You can also serve it with some peas pulao if you are making it for a fancy dinner.
Note: I haven’t used any ginger-garlic in this.    

Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting streetwise with Mee Goreng

Noodles were the first thing I'd ever learnt to make.  Needless to say, it was a disaster and had to be scraped off the pan because I had overboiled everything in sight. The second time I tried, it wasn't so bad if you don't count the fact that I had emptied nearly half a bottle of vinegar into it. It took me quite a number of trial and error methods to earn it an 'edible' status. Of course, there is one little thing I still wish to learn, for which I could give my left arm and right leg for.

Now if you ask me, there’s nothing in the world more exciting than watching noodles tossing on a wok. Better still, if it’s happening in a food cart on the road.  Call it the man’s expert wielding of the wok or the soya tinged noodles flying in the air and neatly falling in a pile below, it never ceases to amaze me how he possibly does it. What if the noodles flew out of control to land on an unsuspecting customer’s head?  Or even worse, his own.  My cook Hori does a neat noodle toss in my very humble non stick pan, something he claims to have learnt from a Chinese restaurant in Mumbai. Of course he does grumble about not getting a wok big enough to ‘make the noodles dance’. (That reminds me to blackmail the husband into buying me one of those babies)
Last evening it was pouring like mad and I had this sudden craving for some spicy noodles. While I had some daal, fish curry and a dead looking soya bean curry lying in the fridge, I decided to give it a miss and dig out a Malaysian stir fried noodle recipe that was lying unattended for long.
Now, Mee Goreng is a very popular spicy noodle dish sold along the streets of Singapore and Malaysia by street-hawkers to high end restaurants.  You can add as many vegetables and meat of your choice. The original recipe included squid, barbecued pork and chinese sausages. You can also add mushroom, baby corn and bean sprouts for veggies. I skipped those since I didn’t have any. The red chilli paste gives this dish a unique flavor and the much needed zest. You need to cook it on a high flame to retain all the wonderful flavors.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Abracadabra! Kanchkolar Kofta

I love magic. In every form. There’s something about it which gives me joy, wonderment and hope. As a child, I found nothing more entertaining than watching rabbits crawling out of empty hats, things appearing from nowhere, money falling  out of people’s ears, noses and whatsoever.

As I grew up, I found tales of flying carpets, magic faraway trees, obliging genies and angelic fairy godmothers more pleasing than man landing on the moon and mountains. They transported me away from my world of exams, homework, evil Math teachers, more evil Math problems and many such woeful entities. With time, films and books did their bit, adding more fuel to the fire – and I was possessed. From Gupi Gyne to Gargantua, I grew wide eyed about everything which did things out of the ordinary. 

Like this neat bunch of raw bananas for example, which the next-door aunty lovingly gave me just a  few days back.

Now bananas I like but for the life of me couldn’t imagine how people possibly liked to eat them raw! Now no offense to those who like it, it's just that I have too many tragic childhood memories to let go off. As a kid I hated them, but somehow they always found a place in my mother’s kitchen under some pretext. Worse if someone had a tummy upset, this unpalatable vegetable would feature in almost everything that was on the menu for that day. I myself nursed horrific memories of it literally being shoved down my throat whenever I complained of a tummy upset. To cut a long story short, I never found them delectable enough to feature on my Most Wanted food list.

Now these bananas were plucked from her tree (“You can make yummy thoran with these, you know?”) and were lying in my refrigerator for long. They would have eventually found their way to the dustbin, had they not known magic. They turned into these beautiful koftas (dumplings) yesterday morning which did not look, feel or taste like anything that reminded me of my tragic childhood. Sometimes we all could do with a bit of magic in our lives, don’t you think?  


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dum Aloo in a Jiffy and My Blog

I was a very fussy child.

Maa can vouch for all the days of turmoil she went through where I was the resident terror throwing all kinds of food tantrums. Veggies were a strict no-no, save for potatoes. Fish was only restricted to Chingri (Prawns) and the occasional Ilish (Hilsa). My protein intake was never a problem though, 'coz I was a die hard carnivore since I can remember (Eggs strictly limited to omlettes). Maa therefore had a very tough time making me eat.

To make matters worse, people who invited us to their homes always went  'tomar meye toh kicchhui khaye na' (translated: your daughter doesn't eat anything). Dad would describe this as 'playing carrom’, flicking the occasional Kumro (Pumpkin), Jhhingey (Ridge Gourd), Lau (Bottle Gourd) and the likes out of my plate. At times, I also resorted to stuff my pockets with things I didn’t find palatable. Maa of course didn’t find this very amusing. Bottom line was - I wasn’t the typical kid every parent would die to have.

With passing time and peer influence (rather pressure), I began to explore my taste buds and discover food in all its glory. Fish and vegetables no longer made me squirm, though I maintained some very strict reservations and distance against few things (another day, another post)

I gradually noticed people no longer giving me that strange look of disgust when they invited me to their homes. They now went, “O baba tomar meye toh onek khawa shikhey gecchey!!.” (Oh my goodness! Your daughter has finally learnt to eat). This feat was regarded something as close to having climbed Mount Everest. Yes, we Bongs are pretty touchy about our food in general.

It’s amazing how realization always fails the punctuality test. It was at this phase of my life, where I was a good 1987 kms away from home, I realized what all I had missed. I started taking food much more seriously. So much that it gradually led something close to a passionate love affair, which l can shamelessly admit to. I saw myself spending more time fantasizing about food than Johnny Depp. Yes, that serious.

I began exploring food not only on my plate but also in my kitchen. Results were varied – from good, bad to ugly. But I discovered my true love for cooking. It became my own little space where I could celebrate the highs and get over the lows, amost like an instant catharsis! With this blog, I intend to do all of that and much more. So, Lets Pakao!

This is probably one of the easiest, simplest and fastest way of making Dum Aloo or Aloor Dom (Potatoes cooked/baked in a spicy masala). It is a tad spicy but you can adjust the heat according to taste.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Featured Posts