Monday, April 21, 2014

Rasogolla / Rasgulla ( Cottage Cheese Dumplings in Sugar Syrup )

Last week most of the Indian communities celebrated their new year. Generally it comes in the mid of April, around 14th or 15th. In both parts of Bengal, it’s called Poila Baishakh which means 1st day of the Boishakh which is the very first month of the calendar year. People greet each other by saying “Shubho Naboborsho” meaning happy New Year. The celebration of Bengali New Year doesn’t get complete without having its traditional sweets. For a Bengali what can be better indulgence than some soft spongy Rasogollas? So in this festive season, let me share the recipe of our signature sweet called Rasogolla. In abroad we feel nostalgic and homesick when these special days come and we can’t celebrate the way we used to do in our childhoods. The Poila Boishakh always reminds me the smell of those new cloths, the Bengali Calendars with the Pictures of Gods or places and box of sweets and savory. Since it’s the beginning of financial year, every shop celebrates this day with Pujas and offers. In childhood, we used to visit each shop in the locality to get a new calendar and a box of sweets as gift.  

Though Rasogolla / Rasgulla is most popular in Odisha and West Bengal (two major eastern states in India), its fame has spread all over the Indian subcontinent. It’s a cheese-based syrupy dessert, made from ball shaped dumplings of Indian cottage cheese. It’s cooked in light syrup which is made of sugar. Generally it’s better to serve hot but bit colder also equally good. There is a big fight between Odisha and Bengal about who invented Rasogolla. There are proofs that it might have come from Odisha. Later in the mid- 19th century, a Kolkata-based confectioner named Nobin Chandra Das modified the recipe to produce the whitish spongy variant of Rasogolla, the form which became hugely popular in Bengal. Later his son K.C. Das made the chain of sweet stores all over India.

The process of making this sweet is not really difficult, once you get the hang of it. True that it takes time and you must give little patience and effort behind it. But I can ensure it will be really satisfying at the end. This will be real surprise to your guests in the lunch or dinner menu. Bengalis can start their meal with couple of Rasogolla and end it with a few more. I have said enough about Bengal’s love for Rasogolla and so let’s come to the recipe. I had no plan to share this recipe of Rasogolla.  But thanks to my hubby who insisted me to post it on this occasion of Bengali New Year. This is not my first attempt because I learnt it long back and make the same once in a year.

Recipe of White Sponge Rasogolla / Rasgulla : for 12 to 15 pieces medium sized Rasogolla 

Prep time : 20 minutes, cook time : 10 +30 = 40 minutes, Total time : 60 minutes 

Ingredients :

Whole milk : 1 and half liters
White vinegar : 2 tablespoon or as needed

Flour : 1 tablespoon 
Semolina / Sooji : 1/2 teaspoon
Sugar : 1 tablespoon 
Cardamom powder : a pinch 

For syrup :

Water : 6 cups 
Sugar : 2 and 1/2 cups 
Green Cardamoms : 3-4 ( crushed ) 

Seeds of Black Cardamon : 12 to 15 

Method :

1. Boil the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium to low heat, stir occasionally. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame. Pour the white vinegar and stir in. Milk will start cuddling and change into chhana ( cottage cheese ) and greenish water. 

2. Remove the pan from heat and leave the chhana in this condition for 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Pour the chhana - water mixture over a cheese cloth or a soft cotton cloth and let the water drain away. 

4. Put this cloth with the chhana under cold running water for 2 to 3 minutes. Then hang the chhana along with cloth on the kitchen faucet for around 45 minutes. 

5. Now once again squeeze the cloth, if there is any extra water. But note that the chhana should not get too dry. 

6. Put the lump of chhana over flat surface and knead it. Add sooji, flour, sugar and green cardamom powder to it. Mix it nicely with the chhana and knead it. Press the dough with your palm continuously for about 3 to 4 minutes until you feel your palm is oily. 

7. Divide the dough into 12 to 15 equal portions. Put a cardamom seed in the middle of each and  make a perfect smooth surfaced round ball. 

8. Take a big deep- bottomed pan with lid.  Add water and sugar, once it starts to boil add the crushed green cardamom. After 5 minutes, gently add the chhana balls into the syrup. Cover it and turn down the heat to medium high.  Let it cook. 

9. After 25 minutes, open the lid to check. The Rasogolla will be about one and half times of their original sizes and become spongy too. 

10. After 5 minutes turn off the gas. Enjoy hot or chilled with some extra syrup. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Couscous with Shrimp and Feta cheese

It's been a very inconsistent and unpredictable climate here in San Diego for last one month. Sometimes it is cold crisp windy; the other day is warm and sunny. Today if you need a warm bowl of soup, the next day you may need some summer salads. This is typical here before the peak summer eventually arrives and summer fruits will bid good bye to winter.

Today what I am going to share is one of my favorite summer salads, called Mediterranean salad,  Couscous with shrimp and feta cheese. You can serve this as a side dish or serve it as a meal. The dish is made of couscous, granules of durum wheat and very popular staple food throughout North African cuisines. It is quick, easy and got a fresh look. Couscous has a mild flavor that makes it extremely versatile. And it works so well with different flavors, both sweet and savory. The texture looks like grainy, though it is technically not a grain. It tastes like a combination of pasta and semolina. It goes well with Greek spices and flavors. If you are from southern or eastern part of India and want to reduce your daily rice intake, then this dish is one of the healthiest substitutes. 

At this point, you may be thinking that it will be very complex process to cook Couscous and it’s not for the beginners. But that’s not true. It takes only 5-10 minutes to cook and came out perfect on my very first attempt! It’s difficult to go wrong in making nice fluffy couscous if you follow all the steps correctly. The old traditional method of cooking couscous used metal steamer first but nowadays you get ready-made pre-steamed and dried version.  So it got rid of at least one hard step :) 

There are several types of couscous. Most common one is the large Israeli one, which is pearled like couscous. Then there is Moroccan couscous that looks 3 times the size of cornmeal. What I cooked today is the second one. Just like any other salad, you can add any ingredient of your choice to this dish. Specifically I added grape tomatoes, garlic, shrimp, feta cheese and used light lemon dressing. That'sall! It came out not only very colorful but tasty too!

Couscous Salad with Shrimp and Feta Cheese : Serves 3
Prep time : 10 minutes, Cook time : 20 minutes, Total time : 30 minutes 

Ingredients :

Whole wheat Couscous : 1 cup

Extra-virgin Olive Oil : 2 tablespoon
Shrimp ( peeled and deveined ) : 1 lb
Red pepper flakes : a pinch
Grape or cherry tomatoes : 1/2 pint 
Garlic ( finely chopped ) : 2 cloves
Chick peas ( no salt added ) : 15 oz can , drained and rinsed 
Scallions / spring onion : ( 2 chopped )
Salt : 
Fresh dill / parsley / cilantro : 2 tablespoon ( finely chopped )
Lemon juice : 1 tablespoon 
Crumbled feta cheese : 1/2 cup

Method :

1. Cook the couscous as per package direction. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and sprinkle salt and red pepper flakes. Stir it occasionally, until the shrimp are pink. Once it is done, transfer the shrimp to a plate. 

3. Add the the remaining oil to the pan, and heat it up. Add garlic and tomatoes to the oil and stir it occasionally and cook until tomatoes are tender.  Add the chickpeas and keep stirring. 

4. Return the shrimp to the pan, add the scallions and 1 tablespoon dill.  Give some stirs. 

5. Fluff the couscous with a fork and add to pan. Add feta and mix it well. Check seasoning and add salt or red pepper flakes if needed. Add the lemon juice and again mix it. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon dill and serve. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pistachio Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Today I am very glad and excited that my site is no longer a newbie. It’s bit difficult for me to digest the fact that I have been blogging for a year now. It feels like yesterday when I recall the excitement of initial days when I was wondering if I am right for this job and would be able to continue. Thanks to all of my friends who insisted me to start this food blog and still inspiring me. It’s been a nice journey with new learning experiences every day. Now I am totally hooked on food blogging, styling and photography, though it takes good amount of time from everyday life. I have lots of pending works to make this space beautiful, which I will hopefully finish soon. Let me sincerely thank all of you who visits, reads,  pins, tweets my post and regularly follow me and to my friends who still encourage me through their good words.  Finally big thanks to my hubby and my little one whose appreciation is my inspirations and help me to keep my passion alive.

To celebrate my blog's anniversary I made one simple and but bit uncommon cakePistachio Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze.  I got the idea of making this cake from Pinterest. This is a basic pound cake flavored with pistachios; the ground pistachios give the batter a very distinct flavor and nice green tinge.  I have glazed the cake with cream cheese that makes the cake wonderfully moist. You can use the glaze as per your choice. Chocolate ganache or whipping fresh cream will also go well with this cake. I have tried those options too but it would more delicious when it is drizzled with cream cheese icing and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. My sister always complains that it’s so difficult to make any yummy cake from my blog, like the Black Forest Cake that I made last month. So I had a plan to post the recipe of something simple and no-fuss cake. I had some pistachios in my pantry since the Diwali time which I well utilized by making this cake 

Recipe of Pistachio Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze : (for an 8 or 9 inch round cake)

Ingredients :

Flour : 3 cups
Salt : 1/2 teaspoon 
Baking powder : 2 teaspoon 

Butter : 2 sticks 
Sugar : 1 cup + 1/2 cup 
Egg : 4 large 
Vanilla extract : 1.5 teaspoon 
(Unsalted ) Pistachios : 1 cup (soaked and grounded into a paste )
Whole Milk : 1 cup 

For Glaze : 

Cream Cheese : 4 ounces, room temperature 
Powdered Sugar : 1/2 cup or little less 
Vanilla extract : 1 teaspoon 
Milk : 3-4 tablespoon 

For decoration :

Unsalted Pistachios : a handful ( chopped ) 

Method :

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F / 190 degrees C. Grease an eight or nine inch round pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment, spray the parchment and dust with flour. 

2. Shift flour, baking powder and salt and set it aside. 

3. In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 2 minutes or until creamy. Add sugar and continue to mix it at medium to high speed.

4. Add vanilla extract to the sugar- butter mixture. Add eggs one at a time and mix it at medium speed until well combined. 

5. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions and alternately add the the milk. Mix it well and scrape down the sides if needed. 

6. Mix the pistachios paste and mix to combine. 

7. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread it evenly and bake it for 60 to 70 minutes or until the skewer or a tooth pick inserted in the center of the cake, comes out clean.

8. Let it cool in pan for around 20 minutes. Once it is completely cool, take it off from the pan and remove the parchment.  

9. For Cream cheese glaze : Beat cream cheese until very creamy, add the powdered sugar and mix it well until well combined. Stir in vanilla extract. Add the milk and mix it well. Check the desired consistency. If glaze is too thick, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time. 

10. Transfer the cake on a cake stand or a serving plate, drizzle the glaze over the cake. Let it run over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios and serve. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Butter Chicken ( Murgh Makhani )

Today I am going to post the very well-known but classic Indian Dish called Butter chicken. This rich, buttery and creamy sauce based chicken curry needs no introduction but deserves its worldwide fame. It has become synonymous to Indian curry and to many foreigners, this is the first and safest choice in any Indian restaurants. The original name of the Butter Chicken is Murgh Makhani. While studying the history of this dish, found some interesting information. It was originated in a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Peshawar of undivided India. The person who innovated this moved to India after partition and started his food chain in Delhi. Slowly this group became an Industry and you would find many packaged food with this brand name.

Though every Indian restaurant serves Butter Chicken, there are many versions of this recipe. The process is more or less same though in all versions. First, boneless or with-bone chicken pieces are marinated in a yogurt and spice mixture. Then the chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor. If your modern-day Indian kitchen doesn’t have Tandoor, then you can grill, roast or pan-fry the chickens. Finally the chicken is cooked in tomato based thick, rich and creamy gravy. Cashew paste is generally used to thicken the gravy. The Butter Chicken is usually garnished with fresh cream, white butter or with chopped cilantro. It goes well with Naan, Roti, Parathas or with steamed Basmati rice.

Butter Chicken is often mistaken as Chicken Tikka Masala, but these two are not same. In some countries like UK where good number of Indian migrants is there, Chicken Tikka Masala is claimed as a national dish. Though both the recipes look similar, they are quite different. I think, butter is the main difference and it makes the dish bit slick and creamy. After my last post of the recipe for Naan, I was planning to make this Chicken dish, but it took a while to get the authentic taste. I tried 3 to 4 different recipes, but finally this is the one which came very close to the richness of original taste.

Recipe of Butter Chicken : Serves ( 4 to 6 )

Ingredients :

Chicken ( with bone or boneless ) : 2 lbs, washed, and cut into small pieces, preferably thigh or breast pieces. 

For marination :

Lemon juice : 1 tablespoon
Red Chili powder : 1 tablespoon
Salt : 
Plain yogurt ( hung ) or Greek yogurt : 1/2 cup
Garam masala : 1 teaspoon 
Oil ( white oil or mustard oil ) : 2 tablespoon 
Ginger paste : 1 tablespoon 
Garlic paste : 1/2 tablespoon 
Oil / butter / ghee : for basting 

For the Sauce : 

Butter : 4 to 5 tablespoon 
Black Cardamom : 1 
Green Cardamom : 3
Cinnamon stick : 1.5 inch 
Cloves : 3 
Methi / Fenugreek seeds : 1 teaspoon 
Ginger paste : 1 tablespoon 
Garlic paste : 1 tablespoon 
Fresh green chilli pepper : 2 to 3 ( as per tolerance ), slit 
Fresh Tomato puree : 3 to 4 cup 
Red chili powder / paprika / cayenne powder : 1 teaspoon or to taste 
Turmeric powder : a pinch or ( optional )
Cashew nuts : 10, soaked and grounded into a paste
Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves ) : 1 teaspoon 
Sugar : 1/2 tablespoon 
Garam Masala : 1 teaspoon 
Salt :
Heavy Cream : 1/2 cup 

Method :

1. Add the red chili powder, lemon juice and salt to the chicken, mix it well and let it rest for 15 minutes. 

2. In a bowl, whisk yogurt, garam masala, ginger paste, garlic paste and oil. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub it well. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

3. Take a thick bottomed pan, add the butter and heat it up. Add black cardamom, green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and saute for a couple of minutes or until they get aromatic. 

4. Add the fenugreek seeds, once they sizzle add green chillies, and ginger-garlic paste. Saute until they get browned and fragrant. 

5. Add the tomato puree, red chili powder and salt. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and oil starts separating from the all sides of the pan. 

6. While tomatoes are becoming thick, grill the chicken. You can use either an outdoor grill or broiler. Put the chicken on skewers and cook on a grill or a preheated oven at 400 degrees F. Do not overcook, it will take about 10 minutes for each side. Baste with butter or oil while cooking. The chicken may be grilled on a skillet or grill pan on the stove top too. For that, heat the skillet and spray or grease with oil. Place the skewers and cook. Turn them and baste with butter or oil until they are cooked.

7. Once tomato mixture is done caramelizing, lower the flame and add the cashew paste. Mix it well together. Add two cups of warm water and bring it to a boil. 

8. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes and add crushed kasuri methi ( dry fenugreek leaves ) and sugar. 

9. Add the grilled chicken pieces and stir it. Cover the pan and simmer it for about 7 to 8 minutes until the chicken pieces are well coated with the sauce. 

10. Add the heavy cream, add garam masala. Stir it well together and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat. 

11. Check the consistency, check seasoning and add salt or sugar if needed. Turn off the gas, Butter Chicken is ready. Garnish with fresh cilantro and drizzle a little extra cream on top and serve. 

Related Post :  Home-made Naan

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fish Curry with Eggplant ( Flavored with Nigella seeds )

Hi there, spring is finally here, nice little break for the parents like me who has one-week off from their kid’s regular school routine. Most of the parents must be going on a trip. My friends already started posting their vacation pictures in social networking sites. In San Diego though, we can’t make much difference in weather during spring. But it’s good relief for my east-coast friends from those snow and wind chill days. Last week I was wondering what I will share next. My hands were itching to bake something and share its recipe. But before sharing those, I thought it would be better to post this comfort food that was long due in my draft. Fish curry with Eggplant is one of the regular dishes in my kitchen as well as very favorite to all of us. It’s a bowl, full of deliciousness and takes very little time to prepare. The curry is very thin and light, more like a soup or stew, loaded with fresh flavors. The key ingredients to create this magic are the nigella seeds, green chilies and fresh chopped cilantro apart from fish and eggplant. 

You should serve this dish with some hot steamed rice, because “Mach” (fish) goes well only with “Bhat” (rice) as we Bengali know. We grew up in a community where fish and rice are served twice a day, both in lunch and dinner. So since my childhood I am seeing my mom trying so many dishes with fish, be it some regular curry or some special one with some vegetables mixed.  The most favorite one of these dishes was “begun diye ilish mach” or Hilsh fish with eggplant. Every Bengali is diehard fan of Hilsha or Ilish fish. But unfortunately we don’t get fresh Ilish or Hilsha on regular basis in the place where we live now. So we try the same recipe with sea fishes like Salmon. It’s the best substitute of Hilsha in most of the preparations including this one. Both the fishes are oily, soft and very similar smoothness in taste.  A special note for my Bengali readers is that if you cook this dish with Hilsha then you don’t need to add cilantro. But when I make it with Salmon I would love to cook the following way.

Here is the simple, fast recipe of Fish Curry with Eggplant, hope you would like it :-) 

Fish Curry with Eggplant : ( Begun diye Ilish Mach ) Serves : 4

preparation time : 15 minutes , Cooking time : 25 minutes, Total time : 40 minutes

Ingredients :

Fish ( preferably Salmon or Hilsa ) : 1 lb ( cut into medium sized pieces )
Eggplant : Half of a big eggplant, cut into long wedges
Potato ( optional ) : 1 big ( cut into long wedges )
Salt :
Turmeric powder : 1/2 teaspoon
Oil : 3 + 2 tablespoon
Nigella seeds : 1 teaspoon
Slit Green chillies : 1 or 2
Red chili powder : 1/2 as per tolerance
Cilantro : a handful, chopped 

Method :

1. Wash the fish pieces, wash and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder and mix it well. Let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes. 

2. In a big pan, preferably nonstick pan, put oil. Heat it up till smoke comes up, lower the flame to medium high and now slightly fry the marinated fish pieces on the both sides. Do not fry it for long time, just 1 to 2 minutes for each side. . Take off the fried fish from oil and keep it aside. 

3.  In the same oil, add the eggplant, saute it. Add salt, stir and cook it until it is brown and soft. Once it is done, take it off from the pan and set it aside. 

4. Add the remaining oil to the same pan. Once oil is hot, add nigella and green chillies to the oil. Once it becomes aromatic and starts to spatter, add the potato wedges. Stir it, add salt and cook it until potato is half done. 

5. Take the red chili powder in a small bowl, add two tablespoon of water and make a paste. Now add the chili paste to the pan. Cook it for 2 to 3 minutes, until oil starts coming up from the sides of pan. 

6. Now add a cup of warm water to the pan and let it boil. Once it starts boiling, add salt and cover the pan with lid. Let it simmer until potato is cooked.  

7.  Add the fish pieces and eggplant to the pan. Cover it again and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro. Check seasoning, add salt or green chillies, if required. Check the consistency of the sauce. Fish Curry with Eggplant is ready, serve hot with hot steamed rice. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake which is also popular by the other name Black Forest Gateau, it's a German dessert, made with chocolate, cherries and whipped cream. A Classic German black forest cake is one of the easiest cakes to make and oh so impressive . Typically Black Forest Cake consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, cherries and chocolate shavings. If you want to make it in traditional way, Krischwasser, a liquor from cherries is must added to the cake. But you can make it without alcohol too, which is most often prepared in the Untied States. Same thing with in using the cherries, either you can use black cherries or maraschino cherries, both way I tried and it is equally good.

Last week it was my husband's birthday, I was thinking which cake I could make for him. Then it came to my mind, in our early married days it was the black forest cake, we used to bring from the cake shop to celebrate any occasion. :-) So to revive some good memories revisited the Black Forest. This is not the first one, couple of years ago I tried my first Black forest, so I had little confidence, that it could become a mess but will taste no doubt delicious. And the process of making this cake is not so difficult, rather you can say easier than any other decorative cakes. But you need little penitence and it is better to make it one or two days before you serve. and always chill the cake for 3 to 4 hrs before serving. It tastes better when you serve this way.  I love Cake decoration as well as baking, it is my favorite field, but sometimes, due to my health consciousness, avoid making this frosting stuff, but I am sure this one does have a quite high calorie as it contains no butter, this cake at least seems much lighter than other cakes.

Add caption

Recipe of Black Forest Cake : (for an 8 inch round cake)

Ingredients :

For the Chocolate cake :
1.     Dutch-processed Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
2.     Boiling hot water: 1 cup
3.     All-purpose flour - 1-1/3 cups
4.     Baking powder- 2 tsp
5.     Salt- 1/4 tsp
6.     Granulated White Sugar - 1 cup
7.     Unsalted Butter - 1 stick
8.     Eggs - 2 ( large)
9.     Vanilla extract - 2 tsp

For the filling : 

1/4 cup Kirsch ( cherry brandy )
Cherry pie filling : 1 can
Heavy Whipping cream : 16 oz.
Confectioners Sugar : 1/3 cup or to taste

 For garnishing :

Maraschino cherries : drained ( a handful )

Semi sweet chocolate : 4 oz  ( for curls or shavings ) 

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 176 degrees C. Grease an eight inch cake pan with nonstick vegetable spray.

2. In a small bowl, take the cocoa powder and the boiling water and stir them until it becomes smooth. Let it cool down to room temperature.

3. In another bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt and whisk it. Take butter and sugar in another bowl, beat them with a hand mixer or with a spatula until they become light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one by one and beat until it becomes smooth. Beat in vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat nicely until incorporated.

5. Now add the cocoa mixture and mix the whole thing till it becomes well combined. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake it for about 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes clean.

6. But make sure don't over bake. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Once it is completely cool, remove it from the pan.

Assemble and Frosting : 

7. With a serrated knife, cut the top swelling part off and then cut the cake into half horizontally. To cut the cake into two even layers, use a ruler. Even layers help the cake to be steady. 

8. Drain cherry pie filling in a colander to remove most of the thickened juices. 

9. Sprinkle kirsch over both cake layers. Handle the layers with utmost care. 

10. Chill electric beater and a large mixing bowl. Beat the cream until it thickens slightly, gradually add the sugar and beat just until stiff peaks form. Immediately cover it and refrigerate it. 

11. Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate and refrigerate it until ready to serve. 

12. Place one layer on serving plate and spread its top with 1/2 inch thick layer of whipped cream and put the cherries over the cream, leave about 1/2 inch margin around border of cake with on cherries. 

13. Put other layer on top of cherries and spread the remaining cream on the top and sides of the cake. 

14. Make some decorative swirls on the top and gently press the chocolate curls on the sides of the cake.

15. Decorate the top with drained  maraschino cherries and remaining chocolate curls. Black Forest Cake is ready, serve chill. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore with a twist ( Chicken Curry with Pasta Sauce )

Chicken Cacciatore is a very popular dish in Italy where Cacciatore means hunter in Italian. It refers to a meal prepared in hunter-style with tomatoes, onions, herbs and bell pepper. The basic recipe usually begins with two tablespoons of oil, heated on a large frying pan. Then marinated chicken pieces are seared in the oil for couple of minutes on each side. Finally the chicken pieces are cooked in tomato based sauce. It is often served with a rustic bread or pasta on the side. 

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This is my second and last one of the recipes from the joint work with Ragu.  They were looking for new spins on their old recipes. They had some guidelines that I had to follow and the recipe should be simple, easy, quick but creative. But the timeline given to me to complete two recipes was very short and so didn’t have much time to think about being innovative. When I read the recipe of chicken Caccitore, immediate thought came to my mind was to make it like a curry! Though Cacciatore is always served with pasta or bread, my curry is perfect to serve with hot steamed rice. Earlier I heard from some of my friends that you can cook Indian chicken Curry with Pasta sauce. So this recipe should not sound too weird to my Indian readers. I am very happy that I tried out this recipe because the twist gave a new flavor to the dish and everyone in my family loved it.

Recipe of  Chicken Cacciatore with a Twist ( Chicken Curry with Pasta Sauce ) : serves 4 to 5 

Inspired by  Ragú's authentic Italian recipe collection 

Prep time : 20 mins  Cook time : 20 mins Total time : 40 mins 

Ingredients :

Chicken : 2 lb, medium sized pieces 
Lime juice : 2 tablespoon
Garlic Paste : 2 tablespoon 
Chili Powder : 1 teaspoon or as per tolerance 

Oil : 2 tablespoon + 2 tablespoon 

Red bell pepper : a small one or a half (sliced) 
Onion : a small one sliced 
Ragu® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce : 8 oz 
Salt : as per taste 

Method :

1. Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces.  Add the lime juice, salt, chili powder and garlic paste to the chicken. Toss it and mix it well, and let it sit for 15 minutes.

2. Take a big non-stick pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat it up. Once oil is ready add the chicken pieces to the pan. 

3. Brown the chicken pieces on each side over medium-high heat. 

4. Once done, remove it from the pan and set it aside. 

5. Clean the pan by scraping off the sticky part. Add two tablespoons oil. Once oil is hot, add the sliced onion and red bell pepper. Cook it for couple of minutes until they become tender and lightly brown. 

6. Stir in Pasta Sauce and bring to a boil over high heat. Add chicken to the pan, reduce heat to low and cover it with lid. Stir occasionally, and let it simmer for around 10 minutes or until chicken is soft and tender.

7. Check the consistency, (you can add half cup of warm water if it becomes too dry). Check the seasoning, add salt if required. Stir it well and switch off gas. Serve hot with steamed rice or bread. 

Note : You can try the same recipe with Tofu or with Panner ( Indian Cottage cheese ).

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