Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chicken Fritters ( Chicken Pakora )

My today’s post is also a snack like the last one but not exactly a street food. It’s the classic Indian finger food called PakoraIn some parts of India, this fried snack is also known as Bajii. Pakora has many variations in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian categories. Depending on the type, sliced vegetables or meat/fish is wrapped in gram flour batter or rolled into small balls. Then they are deep-fried in hot oil till the time outside surface becomes crisp. Among all the versions, chicken Pakora is very common and popular among all the non-vegetarians. Pakoras can be served as a snack or as a party appetizer. Generally people love to have this snack with a cup of tea on a regular evening after returning from office or during a lazy afternoon on a rainy day.

Today I will share a recipe of chicken Pakora, bit different from the traditional one. Normally small pieces of chicken are dipped in a batter and deep-fried in hot oil. The process I followed is little different, where shredded cooked chicken is mixed with chopped onions, ginger, chilies, cilantro and then rolled into small balls before it’s fried. 

I found this new process somewhere in facebook and seemed very interesting to me. I have tried this new recipe couple of times but was never happy with the pictures I captured. The opportunity came again when my friends planned for a potluck party to watch Copa America final together. Hope you would like both the recipe and pictures this time. Though it was not great match for my husband and few others who were Messi fan, but all the delicious food could compensate their loss to some extent.

Recipe of Chicken Fritters ( Chicken Pakora )

Ingredients :

Chicken : around 250 g, Boneless 
Salt :
Red Chili powder : 1 teaspoon
Ginger paste : 1 teaspoon 
Garlic Paste : 1 tablespoon 

Onion : 1, thinly sliced 
Ginger : finely chopped, 1 tablespoon
Green Hot chilies : chopped , 2 tablespoons 
Cilantro / coriander : chopped, 1 cup
Salt : 
Gram Flour : 4 tablespoons
Rice Flour : 3 to 4 tablespoons

Oil : for deep frying 

Method :

1. Add salt, red chili powder and ginger - garlic paste to boneless chicken pieces and rub it gently.

2. Now take a pressure cooker, place the marinated chicken pieces and add 1 cup of water ( enough water ) . Let it cook over medium flame. wait for 2 whistles, turn off the gas and let the steam release on its own, then open the lid. ( if you don't want to use pressure cooker, boil the chicken in a saucepan until chicken pieces are no longer pink and well cooked. ) 

3. Transfer chicken pieces to a bowl, allow to cool and shred the chicken meat. 

4. Now add the sliced onion, chopped ginger, chilies, cilantro and salt. Mix it well. Add gram four and rice powder. Again mix it nicely and make a dough. 

5. Heat oil in a deep-frying pan. Once oil is hot, drop the chicken mixture gently into hot oil and deep-fry it until they are crispy. ( you can roll the chicken mixture into round balls and fry it, that is what I have done in the pictures. ) 

Serve hot with a dipping sauce. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ghugni ( Yellow Peas Curry )

Today I will share the recipe of a street food from Calcutta. Known as the cultural capital of India, Kolkata can also be named as capital of street foods in India. Life in Kolkata would be quite boring if you don’t indulge yourself into its street food. You will miss that extra flavor to life added by these delicious foods like Jhal Muri, Kathi Roll, Mughlai Paratha and many others. I am sure these names itself made your mouth water.

The one I will present today is called Ghugni, one of the best street foods in Kolkata and rest of the Bengal. It would be difficult to find a school in Bengal with no temporary shop selling Ghugni during the lunch break. Students gathered around the shopkeeper desperately trying to get a plate of Ghugni is a very common picture outside the schools. I think all of us can still smell the taste of Ghugni from that particular shop and have interesting stories centered around  that shop. Even though it’s popular as street food, this recipe can easily be replicated at home. Every Bengali home enjoys their own home-made Ghugni as an evening snack or during breakfast on a special weekend. Most of the times it’s served with Poori, Luchi or puffed rice. But sometimes people like just a bowl of Ghugni sprinkled with finely chopped onions, green chilies with lime juice.

For my non-Bengali friends, you can think Ghugni as yellow chickpeas curry. Dried white or yellow peas is cooked with a spicy gravy. Ghugni has different versions, some include meat such as lamb and goat. In Bengali we call that “Mangsher Ghugni”.  Today what I made is vegetarian version but has onion and garlic in it.  Sometimes it is cooked without onion and garlic too. Whether it’s vegetarian or non-vegetarian , Ghugni is yummy both way . Making Ghugni is not a huge deal, but tricky part is boiling the peas. You shouldn’t over-boil it so that thin skin of the peas floats over. Cooking the yellow peas to perfection is the main key of making Ghugni. So when you make Ghugni follow my instructions religiously :) 

Recipe of Bengali Ghugni , serves 4

Ingredients :

Yellow Peas : 1 cup 
Potato : 1 potato, diced in cubes 
Onion : 1, medium sized, finely chopped 
Ginger paste : 1 teaspoon 
Garlic : 1 tablespoon 
Tomato : 1, chopped 

Oil : 2 + 3 tablespoons
Dry Red Chili : 1 
Green Cardamoms : 3
Cinnamon Stick : 1 inch 
Cloves : 3 
Turmeric powder : 1 teaspoon 
Cumin powder : 1 teaspoon 
Coriander powder : 1 teaspoon 
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder : 1 teaspoon 
Red chili powder : 1 teaspoon 
Salt : 

For Bhaja Masla :

Dry Red Chili : 1
Whole cumin seeds : 1 tablespoon 

For garnishing :
Chopped Onion- chopped green chilies- chopped cilantro, wedges of lemon and bhaja masla ( optional ) 

Method :

To make Bhaja Masla (roasted spice powder) : Take a pan, heat it up, add 1 tbsp of whole cumin seeds and a whole dry red chili and dry roast them until they are fragrant. Let it cool down at room-temperature, then grind them to a powder. 

1. Wash the yellow peas and soak it for at least 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight. Then pressure cook the peas with salt and turmeric powder on medium flame, wait for 2 whistles, turn off the gas and let the steam release automatically on its own, then Open the lid. The peas should be well cooked but not mushy.

2. In a big pan put 2 tbsp oil, once oil is hot, add the potato pieces. When the color of potato starts to change into golden yellow, remove it from the heat and set it aside. 

 3. In the same pan, add oil. When oil is ready, put whole dry garam masala (cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves) and add the whole dry red chili.

4. Once they are aromatic and start to spatter, add the chopped onions. Stir it and add little salt. In few minutes, onion changes its color to golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger paste.

5. Stir and cook it, until the raw smell goes off. In a small bowl, take turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, 1/2 tsp sugar add 2 -3 tbsp water into it and make a paste.

6. Add the mixture into the pan. Keep stirring until the oil starts to come out from the side of the pan. Add the tomato pieces and little salt. 

7. Once the tomato gets soft, Add the potato and peas, again give some stirs and mix it well at medium flame.

 8. Add salt and one or two cups of water ( in which the peas are boiled ). Cover it with lid and let it simmer. Once everything is well cooked (yet peas and potato cubes hold their shape ), check the seasoning, check consistency, adjust accordingly. Add 1 tablespoon of bhaja Masla and mix it well.

9. The consistency of Ghugni should not be too dry or too runny. Turn off the gas, pour it on a serving bowl, sprinkle some chopped onions, chopped green chilies, chopped cilantro and few drops of lemon juice or Tentul jol ( tamarind water ) and bhajamasla.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mango Sandesh ( Mango and Cottage Cheese Fudge )

It's that time of the year when we’ll have plenty of seasonal fruits in the market. But I love that yellow colored most juicy one, yes I am talking about mangoes. In India, for fruit lovers summer means mango. Each state produces different kind of mangoes but all are equally delicious. Though mostly they are eaten ripe, who can forget the taste of green, raw mango with salt and chilly in the childhood. Whatever type of mango it is, you can prepare them as seasonal delicacies. To name a few of them, mango shrikand, mango lassi, mango chutney, mango milkshake are most popular one.

In last couple of years I already shared some of my favorite mango dessert recipes such as Mango Yogurt, Mango Flavored Kalakand, Mango Popsicles . All these recipes were truly appreciated by the readers. So I was thinking why not try another dessert recipe with the king of fruits. Last month I made Mango Sandesh and it was a big hit among friends. Today I will share the recipe of the same. 

My mango sandesh recipe is nothing innovative, it’s been very popular in Calcutta for long time. Normally sandesh is a sweet dish made of fresh cottage cheese, sugar and cardamom. In this variation of the Sandesh, fresh mango pulp is added to the Cottage Cheese and it makes the sandesh more creamy and more delicious. There are few different type of moulds that can shape the sandesh and decorate it with different nuts like almonds, pistachios and cashews. I am sure you won’t stop at one or two. Sit back relaxed, forget about the calorie part and soak in the mango season. Otherwise you may regret after a few weeks when the season will be over.

Recipe of Mango Sandesh , about 15 pieces 

Ingredients :

Whole Milk : 1 and 1/2 liters 
Lemon juice : 3 tablespoons 
Sugar : 1/2 cup or to taste 
Mango Pulp : 1/2 cup 
Khoya : 1/4 cup 
Cardamom : 1 or 2, crushed 

Saffron : for garnishing 

Method :

1. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, stir occasionally. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame. Pour the lemon juice and stir in. Milk will start cuddling and change into chenna ( cottage cheese ) and greenish water. Remove the pan from heat and leave the chenna in this condition for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the chenna and water mixture over a cheese cloth or a soft cotton cloth and let the water drain away. 

2. Put this cloth with the chenna under cold running water for 2 to 3 minutes to remove the lemony smell. Then hang the chenna along with cloth on the kitchen faucet for around 30 to 35 minutes. 

3. Now once again squeeze the cloth, if there is any extra water. But note that the chenna should not get too dry. Put the lump of chenna over flat surface and knead it. Start kneading with the heal of your palm for about 4 to 5 minutes, until you get a smooth dough. 

4. Soak the Khoya in 3 tablespoons of milk and pulse it to a smooth paste. 

5. Take a non-stick pan, add chenna, sugar, mango pulp, khoya paste and cardamoms. Now on a medium low heat cook the mixture by stirring it continuously with a spatula. Check the sweetness add sugar if needed. Keep stirring it until the mixture becomes thick , leaves from the sides of the pan and form a shape of dough. It will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove it from heat. Mango Sandesh is ready. 

6.Brush the inside of the molds with little ghee ( clarified butter ).Take out the warm Sandesh and shape with molds. If you don't have any molds just toss into balls. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chicken Rezala : Mildly Spiced Yogurt Based Chicken Curry

It’s been a long time that I haven’t shared any recipes of Chicken curry. It’s not that I have stopped trying new chicken recipes these days. Almost on every weekend, I experiment with new kind of chicken preparation for our dinner. Since my family including my son is big fan of chicken dishes, most of the time it gets finished very fast and doesn’t have sufficient leftover that I can take good pictures. This week I planned it in advance and could take the pictures for the blog so that I can share a new recipe with you. 

The name Rezala wouldn’t sound new to you, if you are from Bengal.  It’s very famous dish in Calcutta. I have seen many of friends talking fondly of weekend evenings spent in Shiraz with their signature Rezala. There are other restaurants in Calcutta like Nizam, Sabir’s, where this dish is the favorite for all food lovers. It’s commonly made with mutton but since Bengalis never stop experimenting with food, they came up with the same version of Chicken. I know many of my friends including my family don’t eat red meat. So today I am going to share the recipe of Chicken Rezala.

Chicken Rezala is a thick and mildly spiced Chicken Curry. The gravy is slightly thicker than stew and based off yogurt. The white gravy is made with cashew nuts, paste of poppy seeds and curd. The chicken is cooked in this gravy with a blend of aromatic spices like Cardamom, Cinnamon and Cloves. It also uses subtle spices like white pepper powder (Shah Morich) and rose water. Use of these subtle spices makes the taste and flavor of this dish very different from other Mughlai preparations and makes it royal. This silky-gravy chicken dish goes well with nan and parathas.

Recipe of Chicken Rezala : Serves  3 to 4 

Ingredients :

Chicken : 1 lb ( around 500 g )  ( cut into big pieces ) 
Onion : 2 medium or 1 big ( make it a fine paste )
Ginger paste : 1 + 1 teaspoons 
Garlic paste : 1/2 + 1/2 tablespoon 
Yogurt : 1 cup 
Sugar : 1/2 teaspoon
Cashew : 6 to 7 ( whole )
Poppy seeds : 1 teaspoon 
White pepper powder : as per taste 

Oil : 4 tablespoons
Ghee ( clarified butter ) : 2 tablespoons 

Whole dry red chilies : 4 
Green Cardamoms : 3 
Cinnamon stick : 2 inch 
Cloves : 3
peppercorns : 5 
Mace : little 
Nutmeg powder : a pinch 

Keora water : few drops. 

Method :

1. Wash and pat dry chicken pieces with kitchen towel. Add 1/2 of the onion paste, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, 1 tablespoon garlic paste ( fine paste ) and 3 tablespoons of beaten yogurt to chicken. Mix it well. Add white pepper powder, nutmeg powder and salt to it. Marinate the chicken for about 2 to 3 hours.

2. Soak the cashew and poppy seeds and make a smooth paste. 

3. Take a non-stick pan, and add oil and ghee and heat it up. Lightly pound the whole spices ( cardamoms, cinnamon stick, cloves, mace ) and add it to the pan. Add red chilies. 

4. Once aroma comes up, add the remaining onion paste. Stir it for couple of minutes. Then add the remaining ginger and garlic paste. Cook it until raw smell goes off. But don't make it brown. 

5. Add 2 tablespoons of cashew - poppy seeds paste to it and keep stirring. Lower the flame. Add half teaspoon of sugar to the remaining yogurt and whisk it. Add the yogurt mixture to the pan. Cook for couple of minutes. 

6. Add the marinated chicken to the pan. Stir and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes on medium heat. Add 3/4 cup of warm water, add salt and cover the pan. Let it simmer on low heat until oil starts to float on the top and chicken pieces are fully cooked. 

7. Check seasoning, add salt and white pepper powder if needed. Add Keora water and mix it well. Switch off the gas and serve hot with Naan or any kind of Paratha or Indian Flat Breads. 

** This recipe works well with Paneer, eggs and some vegetables like cauliflowers.