Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chicken Chaap ( Chicken in a rich-aromatic gravy)

Today I am going to share again a recipe of chicken preparation called "Chicken Chanp or Chaap". Let me first say thanks to my friend Swagata, whom I received the base recipe from. It was the picture of her wonderful preparation which attracted me towards this dish and later I modified or added a few things on my own. In Bengali, another meaning of “chaap” is pressure and there is a common phrase called “chaap nis na” or don’t take pressure. But trust me, this dish won’t be a “chaap” to you. It’s actually very easy to make, though it has some specific steps for preparation, they are pretty simple.  

Chicken Chap is a Mughlai dish and this Awadhi cuisine introduced to Bengali by the Nawabs of Bengal in the early eighteenth century. It didn’t take long to become very popular to the foodie Bengali. Several Mughlai restaurants in Kolkata like Arsalan, Aminia and Shiraz are very famous for their Chicken Chaap. If you and your family love Mughlai taste, it’s an absolutely must-try recipe.

Chicken chap is the spicy and juicy chicken preparation, where chicken leg quarters or large pieces of chicken are marinated with hung curd and some spices. Then they are fried and cooked. This is a very rich, aromatic dish which has creamy-thick gravy.  As per original recipe, you are supposed to cook the Chicken with ghee (clarified butter) but I just added little ghee with the oil, only for flavor. If you want richer version, you may add more ghee. The first part is marinating chicken and then cooking slowly in a covered pan. In this process, oil would release a lot and start floating over the gravy. Other most important ingredients for this dish are poppy seeds, cashew paste, Kewra water and a special type of “garam masala”. The kewra water has a powerful aroma, so don't use much. Chicken Chaap is generally served or best enjoyed with some Biryani or Naan or tandoori rotis.

Recipe of Chicken Chaap or ChaaNp ( Chicken cooked in rich aromatic gravy) Serves - 4 

Ingredients : 

Chicken - 2.5 lb / around 1 kg cut into big pieces, preferably 4 leg quarters 

Hung curd / Greek Yogurt - 1 cup
Onion - 1 big sliced 
Garlic paste - 1 1/2 tbsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder - 2 tbsp
Red Chili powder - 1/2 tsp or as per your tolerance 
Coriander powder - 1 tsp

Poppy seeds - 2 tbsp

Whole Cashew - 15 pieces

Cardamom - 4 
Cinnamon - 1 inch 
Clove - 4 
Javitri (Mace ) - 3-4 blades 
Star anise - 1 

Oil + Ghee (clarified butter ) - 4 + 2
Kewra water - few drops

Method :

1.. Take cardamom, cinnamon, clove, mace and star anise, dry roast them. Let it cool down first, then grind it to a fine powder. Set it aside the spice powder.

2. Take a big pan, add oil and heat it up. Once oil is ready, add the sliced onion and saute the onion till it changes color to light brown. Turn off the gas and let it cool down. Once it is at room temperature, put it in the blender and make a paste.

3. Soak the poppy seeds and cashew  in half cup of water for 10 to 15 minute and make a paste.

4. Take the chicken pieces, wash and pat dry with kitchen towel. Take a big bowl add the chicken to it then add the yogurt, salt, sugar, the onion paste, garlic paste, ginger paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, the poppy seeds and cashew paste ( and a pinch of corn flour or plain flour to avoid curdling from yogurt)  and mix them well. Let it rest for 4 to 6 hrs. 

5. Add oil and ghee to the pan and heat it up, once it is ready, add the chicken pieces from the marinade. Saute the chicken piece for couple of minutes, then add the marinade also. Stir it occasionally and let it cook over medium to high flame and cover it with a lid. Check it in few minutes and again give some stirs until oil comes up from the sides of pan and chicken gets soft and tender.

6. Check the seasoning, add 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of the spice powder ( garam masala), add few drops of kewra water. Give some stirs and mix it well. Chicken Chaap is ready, serve hot with Biryani or Naan or tandoori rotis. Enjoy!!

Note : You can make 'Mutton Chaap' following the same recipe, add one cup of grated raw papaya while marinating mutton. 

Related recipes, you may like :

Easy Yogurt Chicken

Murgh Badami ( Chicken in Almond Sauce )

Chicken Korma ( Chicken in a Rich Aromatic Yogurt - Nut Based Sauce )

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice-cream Cake

I was not sure if I would post this recipe on my blog! Originally the purpose was to celebrate father’s day last weekend with a home-made ice-cream cake to pleasantly surprise my husband. Generally it is hard to take food photos if I cook over the weekend. Because I feel bad when I ask somebody to wait and stop from eating before I take a good snap! The same happened on Father’s day. I had to cut and serve it to two boys, even before the cake firmed up properly. The entire cake got gobbled up in few minutes except few small pieces. So I planned to make another one in couple of days for my blog. Since the pieces were in freeze, I wondered why don’t I take some pictures of them and share it in the Facebook page. This pushed me to write up the recipe because my friends were excited after seeing the snaps and requested for the recipe.

Ice-cream Cake is a cake, combined with ice cream and generally comes with two or three layers of cake, with a single layer of ice cream. Sometimes the ice cream itself presented in the form of a cake or a combination of ice cream and cookie. I had never made an ice cream before and had a wish to experiment with it. I had this in my mind for the last one year but sometimes it takes time to execute. Recently I came across a nice recipe of Ice cream cake and felt it is not that difficult what I thought. Only thing you need a major test of self-restraint, not finishing the cake before setting it firmly J 

Instead of a traditional cake layer, I made a chocolate chip cookie base that made the cake more appealing. On the other way it would taste the same like the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Basically I baked a giant, cake sized cookie. While the cookie cooling down, let your favorite brand and flavor of ice cream sit out at room temperature. Once cookie has cooled down, evenly spread the ice cream. Cover the whole pan with foil or plastic wrap, and then freeze for at least 1-2 hours to allow the ice cream to firm up! Your Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice-cream cake is ready, give a chocolate drizzle and enjoy! Is not your mouth watering by reading this description! So go for it as it’s not as difficult as rocket science. Thanks to Mangoes and palm tree for this wonderful recipe idea!

Recipe of Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice-Cream Cake : for 8 inch Springform pan :


For Cookie Layer : 

Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup at room temperature 
Dark Brown Sugar - 1 cup
Egg - 1 large 
Pure Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp 
All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Baking Powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/8 tsp
Salt - 1/8 tsp 
Semi-sweet Mini Chocolate Chips

For Ice-cream Topping :

Ice cream (softened ) - 1 pint (around 500 g) ( as per your choice, recommended any caramel or chocolate or coffee flavor )

For Decoration :  Chocolate Ganache or Chocolate Sauce and chocolate chips 

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 177 degrees C and grease an 8 inch round springform pan.

2. In a bowl, add the butter and brown sugar and whisk together. Add the egg, beat until it becomes fluffy, add the vanilla extract and mix it well.

3. In a separate bowl, take the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix them well. Fold the dry ingredients mixture into the wet ingredients, until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

4. Spread the dough into an even layer in the greased pan. Bake the cookie at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cookie comes out clean.

5. Once the cookie is done, allow it to cool down completely.

6. Finally, spread the pint of ice cream into an even layer on the top of the cooled cookie. Cover the pan with foil or plastic wrap, and freeze until the ice cream is firm. ( it would take at least 2 hrs )

7. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to take it out from the pan, then unlatch the springform pan.

8. Drizzle Chocolate Ganache or Chocolate sauce on the top and sprinkle some chocolate chips and serve. Enjoy!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta

Today I am going to share a dinner recipe that will surely bring smiles to many faces in the dinner table, especially if they love pasta. Formally it’s named creamy chicken Alfredo Pasta. There is always an interesting story behind every food.

The name 'Alfredo' came from Alfredo di Lelio, who operated a restaurant in Rome, fancied up basic pasta with butter and cheese to serve something different and appealing to his wife who was suffering from morning sickness. He later served the same dish at his restaurant which became a great hit. In most of the restaurants in US, what you get by the name of Alfredo Pasta is not made by following original recipe. Actual Alfredo sauce didn't use cream; it is just made of butter, Parmesan and black pepper. But most of us know this dish for its cream-based form, which was a better customization of the original one.

I am not a big pasta fan, but my son is and he loves this dish like crazy. I would recommend you to make this dish with homemade Alfredo sauce. It makes huge difference in taste! Sometimes I add thawed frozen peas or roasted cherry tomatoes to it. You may use cooked shrimp or sausage in the place of roasted chicken. You can make it veg dish too, just skip the chicken part. The original Alfredo pasta recipe preferred fettuccine pasta but I used rotelle which I had in my pantry. It doesn’t make any difference. 

If you like your pasta with a crispy top, before placing in the oven spread some panko bread crumbs on the top; otherwise you can skip this stage. Cook the pasta and chicken, cover with sauce, sprinkle some grated cheese on top and put it in the oven. Wait for the cheese to bubble up. And a fabulous dinner is ready to serve! The full process takes less than 30 minutes. Thanks to Jamie cooks it up for the source of the recipe! 

Recipe of Creamy Chicken Alfredo : Serves  4

Ingredients :

Package Pasta : 8 ounce ( 1/2 of a 16 ounce packet ) around 250 g
Butter - 3 tbsp
Whipping cream - 2 cups
Whole milk - 1 cup
Parmesan Cheese ( grated )- 2 cups
Roasted Chicken : 2 and 1/2 cups 
Granulated Garlic - 1/8
Thyme - 1/2 tsp
Oregano - 1/2 tsp
Salt -
Pepper -
Mozzarella cheese (grated) - 1/2 cup
Panko Bread crumbs - 1/2 cup (optional)

Method :

1.For Roasted Chicken : Marinate the chicken breast pieces with salt, pepper and minced garlic and let it rest for an hour. Take a skillet, put 1 or 2 tbsp of butter and heat it up, then cook it over medium heat till it is soft and tender.

2. Boil some water, add salt and cook pasta as per package direction. Once it is done, strain the excess water and set it aside.

3. Take a large skillet, add 3 tbsp butter, melt it down over medium high heat. Add two cups whipping cream and 1 cup whole milk to it.

4.  Sprinkle two cups of shredded Parmesan cheese and stir it in with a nice whisk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. The sauce will start to thicken.

5. Turn on your oven to the broil setting. Chop the roasted chicken into medium sized chunks. Add the chicken to the sauce, add the granulated garlic, thyme and oregano. Give it all a nice stir, check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to your liking. 

6. Let the sauce come to a simmer again and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken becomes hot, get a nice coat and the sauce starts to thicken. 

7. Take a 4-Qt casserole or a deep (9 by 9 ) baking pan and grease with cooking spray. Place the cooked pasta into it then pour the sauce over the top.

8. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese all over the top and if you like your pasta with a crispy top spread the bread crumbs over the top of the cheese. 

9. Once the oven is hot, put the dish inside and watch it carefully. When the cheese becomes bubbly and the bread crumbs get toasted remove the pan form the oven. It should take 4 to 5 minutes to be done. You should be very careful here, otherwise bread crumbs get burnt. Serve the pasta hot and enjoy!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blueberry Pie Yogurt Parfaits

Finally it’s the time for the long summer vacation and big relief from daily routine of preparing my son in the very early morning for school. So I wanted to relax this month and share something easy and simple to make and I will have more time to spend with my little one. This one is something from his favorite snacks or breakfast. Blueberry Pie Yogurt Parfait is the one I am talking about today, an impressive yet healthy snack that is perfect for summer.

Parfait is a French word that means perfect. It’s a frozen dessert, served in a tall and clear glass, by using cream or yogurt and layered with nuts or fresh fruits. The specialty of this dessert is both its beauty and taste. Parfait is a kind of that 'art meets food'.

There is no specific method to make this parfait. To make this dish, you need some fresh blueberries, some frozen, fat free yogurt, some organic Honey Graham Crackers and some sweetener. Just get some blueberry sauce out of the frozen blueberries and then take half of the yogurt. Mix it with the sauce and mix the other half of yogurt with some maple syrup or honey and carefully layer with everything on the top of each other.

It is a fun recipe to make with your kids too and it is a great after-school snacks which they would love to have. Serve cold or frozen.  If you are vegan, try with vegan yogurt or coconut whipped cream.  And If you want to indulge yourself, there are many options, you may use whipped cream or custard, or mascarpone cheese, or ricotta, or mousse, or other dairy product whatever you like in the place of yogurt, layer with crumbled biscuits, nuts, granola or crumbled cake and add fresh fruit on the top! Thanks 'Marla Family fresh cooking' for the recipe source! :)

Recipe of Blueberry Pie Yogurt Parfaits : Serves 3

Ingredients :

Fat free Greek Yogurt - 2 cups divided in half
Frozen Blueberries - 12 ounces ( 1 and 1/2 cups)
Fresh Blueberries - a handful
Honey or Maple syrup - to taste
Honey Graham Crackers - 4 sheets

Method :

1. Make Blueberry Sauce : Take the frozen blueberries in a saucepan and add 2 to 3 tbsp of water heat it up over medium to high heat. Once the berries start to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium, stir it and let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes more until they create a sauce, in between stir it occasionally. When sauce is ready, let it cool down and keep it in the refrigerator.

2. Take the Graham Cracker in a food processor or a blender, pulse it until you get a fine crumb.

3. Take half of the yogurt, add honey or maple syrup and check the sweetness. Take the other half of the yogurt add few tbsp of blueberry sauce, mix it nicely until get a nice color.

4. Assemble : Take a tall clear glass, layer the sauce, two types of yogurt and graham cracker crumbs. Sprinkle some fresh blueberries on the top. Blueberry Yogurt Pie Parfaits are ready! Serve cold or frozen!

Note : You may use raspberries, strawberries or other fruit such as bananas, peaches, mangoes in the place of blueberries. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Easy Yogurt chicken

My sister always says, Didi posts something simple, easy, but yummy! She neither has patience to be at kitchen for long time, nor has enough time. Today’s recipe is for her and for those people who love their family and want to present something new and delicious every day, but don’t want to spend much effort. :-)

This one is very easy and fast chicken preparation with minimum ingredients. I learnt this dish in my initial days of experiments with cooking and it’s the second chicken recipe that I learnt after the regular chicken curry. The main ingredients are yogurt and garlic other than chicken, flavored with dry fenugreek seeds, and seasoned with salt and red chili powder. The dish is simply awesome, with minimum gravy and chicken pieces would get a nice coat of oily yogurt sauce. When you are done with cooking, oil comes out from all sides of the pan, which is the special attraction and goes well with some rice :)

I don't know what to name this dish; it can be called yogurt chicken or garlic chicken, because either of them is a key ingredient of this dish! It can also be called Korma Chicken, as the chicken is cooked in yogurt sauce. But what is there in the name, anyway it would be the most popular dish at your home.

Recipe of Easy Yogurt Chicken : ( Serves - 4 )

Ingredients :

Boneless Chicken pieces ( medium sized) - 1 and 1/2 lb (around 700 g) 
yogurt - 1/2 cup
Garlic paste -  2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana) - 1 tsp
Red chili powder - 1 tsp or as per the taste
Dry Red chili - 1
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch
Oil - 2-3 tbsp

Method :

1. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towel. Add salt and red chili powder, mix them well. and let it rest for half an hour. Then add the yogurt and 2 tbsp of garlic paste.

2. Mix it well with the chicken pieces, and again leave it for marination for minimum 2 hrs.

3. Take a big pan, add oil and heat it up. Once oil is ready, add fenugreek seeds. When it gets aromatic, discard them from the oil. Add cinnamon stick and the dry red chili. Once it starts to spatter, add 1 tbsp garlic paste, saute it till it changes color to light brown. Lower the flame and add the marinated chicken.

4. Give some stirs, mix it well and cover it with lid. The chicken will release some water, and it will be cooked by its own water. In between check it occasionally, stir it well and cover it again, until chicken pieces are soft and tender.

5. Once Chicken is almost cooked, open the lid, and stir it and let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. Once water is completely evaporated and chicken pieces get a nice coat of gravy and oil starts to come out from all the sides of pan, check the seasoning, and desired consistency. Turn off the gas and serve hot with rice or any kind of bread.

Note: when you will add chicken to the pan, you should be careful that pan is not too hot and the chicken is at room temperature, to stop the yogurt from curdling. Add half tsp of flour or a pinch of cornflour to the yogurt, it also helps to avoid curdling. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prawn Biryani ( Spiced Rice with Prawns )

Biryani, a very popular Indian dish, is based off rice, generally made with spices, flavored rice and any one of the following items - chicken, mutton, beef, eggs, fish/ seafood or vegetables. It’s served with dahi chutney or raita (yogurt based chutney), salad and with some curry. The word Biryani is derived from the Persian word Berya (n) that means fried or roasted. It is considered to have been invented in the kitchen of Mughlai. The special spices used in Biryani are ghee, nutmeg, mace, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions and garlic. It has got endless variety of style and process. I cooked this version with Prawn and in Malabar style, inspired by a Malayali cooking site.

Another similar rice based dish is called Prawn Pullao. The main difference between Pullao and Biryani is, while Pullao is made by cooking the items together, Biryani means a dish where rice and a curry of meat/fish cooked separately, then brought together and layered. This gives the dish a contrast of flavored rice and intensely flavored meat/ vegetables.

I cooked chicken/mutton Biryani several times, but few months back I tried Biryani with prawns for the first time and liked it very much.  This single dish is enough for your lunch or dinner. The final dish comes up dry or minimally moist. I have used the home-made Biryani masala powder here. If you are in a hurry, replace it with ready-made Biryani Masala Powder that is available in all Sub-continent style grocery stores. Try to use Basmati Rice of best quality and the rice grains shouldn't be broken, rather be full cooked but not mushy.

The Recipe of Prawn Biryani : (Serves - 4)

Ingredients :

for making Biryani Masala powder :

Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Caraway seeds or shah jeera seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon - 2
Cardamom - 1 inch stick
Nutmeg (grated) - 1/4 tsp
Mace - 1 whole

for making Rice :

Basmati or any flavored Rice - 2 cups
Water - 4 cups
Red Onion - 1 medium sized ( thinly sliced)
Ghee ( clarified butter ) - 2-3 tbsp ( you can replace it with oil )

For making Prawns :

Shrimp / Prawns ( big sized) - 1 lb or 500 g ( approximately) shelled and cleaned
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Red Onion - 2 medium (thinly sliced)
Ginger (grated)- 1 and 1/2 tbsp
Garlic (paste or finely chopped) - 2 tsp
Green Chili peppers - as per tolerance
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Biryani Masala - 1 tbsp
Cilantro or coriander leaves (finely chopped) - a handful
Mint leaves ( chopped) - 1/4 cup
Lemon juice (Freshly squeezed) - 1 to 1 and 1/2 tbsp

Oil -  3 tbsp + 2 tbsp

for Layering :

Ghee (clarified butter) - 1-2 tbsp
Biryani Masala Powder - 1/2 tbsp
again Red Onion - 1 thinly sliced for Barista 

For garnishing :

Boiled egg - 1
Cilantro ( finely chopped ) - 1-2 tbsp

Method :

1. Grind all the ingredients for making Biryani Masala powder to a fine powder. You may skip this stage by using ready-made Biryani Masala powder, but home-made masala adds extra flavor.

2. Wash and drain the rice on a paper towel. Add Ghee in a big skillet, heat it up and add the thinly sliced onions to it. Saute the onion till it is transparent, add the rice to it and stir continuously for 2 to 3 minutes over  a low heat. In a heavy bottomed vessel add water, once it starts to boil, add the rice-onion mixture, add salt and cover it. Let it cook over low to medium heat until rice is fully done and water is completely absorbed. Using a fork gently separate the rice, so they don't get sticky.

3. Sprinkle salt and turmeric on cleaned prawns, mix it well with them and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Heat oil in a pan, add a thinly sliced onion and fry it til it get nice brown color over medium heat and set it aside.

5. In the same pan add oil, once oil is ready add the marinated prawns, shallow fry them till they get a nice pink color, then remove from oil and keep it aside.

6. Add sliced onions to the leftover oil and saute it, till they change color to light brown, add ginger, garlic and chopped green chili peppers and cook them until raw smell goes off.

7. Add coriander powder and 1 and 1/2 tbsp biryani masala powder, stir well and add few tablespoon water and let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt, stir well and cook the whole thing, til oil separates from the sides of pan.

8. Add the prawns, stir well for another 2 to 3 minutes, add the chopped cilantro and mint leaves. Stir again and let everything come together. Turn off the gas, add lemon juice, mix well and keep the pan aside.

9. Layering or final cooking : Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 176 degrees C. Take a oven-safe dish, put 1 tbsp ghee into the dish and spread half of the rice at the bottom, followed by prawns, sprinkle biryani masala then put rest of the rice. Sprinkle the fried onions on the top and cover it tightly with aluminum foil and  let it cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

10. Once it is done, let the dish covered for again 15 to 20 minutes on the kitchen counter then mix the rice and prawns gently together and decorate with boiled eggs, sprinkle some chopped cilantro and serve.