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February 17, 2013

Rabbit in mustard sauce (Lapin à la moutarde)

I cooked it long back, on New Year’s Eve. I had never really tried French cuisine. It was the first time I was going to cook rabbit. What better way to welcome the New Year than with exploring into a new side of the culinary world. (Even though, I can hardly pronounce the name of the dish correctly). Lapin à la moutarde (Rabbit in mustard sauce) is a classic French country dish. To the delicate flavor of the rabbit meat, the spicy grainy mustard adds a layer of rustic goodness. The dish is prepared by either baking or slowly braising it in a white wine sauce. I used the later technique. The wild mushrooms add to the country flavors, and the crème fraiche gives a rich creamy smoothness. I served it with fingerling potatoes roasted with and flavored with thyme.

 
You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:
(Serves 4)

1 rabbit (cut into serving pieces)

Rub:
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp Dijon mustard

2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
100g wild mushroom
4-5 sage leaves
1 spring of thyme
5-6 black peppercorns
1 spring of tarragon
2 bay leaves
2tbsp white wine vinegar
200ml dry white wine
150ml water
2tbsp Dijon mustard
4tbsp old fashioned mustard
4tbsp crème fraiche
Salt
Butter

METHOD:
  1. Rub the rabbit pieces with salt, black pepper and Dijon mustard. Keep aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the shallots, garlic. Chop the mushrooms in halves (or as necessary). Coarsely chop the herbs.
  3. Heat butter in a casserole. Add the rabbit pieces in a single layer and fry on low-medium heat until colored (6-7 minutes for each side). Do not stir, except when turning the pieces once in between. Let the juices ooze out and start caramelizing.
  4. In the meantime, heat butter in a fry pan. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, peppercorns, and herbs. On low heat, fry for a couple of minutes. Add seasoning. Fry until onions turn pale golden.
  5. When the rabbit pieces are fried, add the vinegar to the rabbit. Reduce to a syrup consistency.
  6. Boil the water. Also, boil the wine for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the fried onion, mushrooms, and herbs to the rabbit. Add the boiled water and wine. Bring to boil.
  8. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.
  9. Combine the crème fraiche, Djion mustard, and old fashioned mustard. Add to the rabbit. Mix well such that the sauce is homogenous.
  10. When the rabbit is cooked, gently take them out and keep them in a warm place.
  11. Turn the heat up and cook until the sauce is reduced to half.
  12. Return the rabbit into the casserole. Stir and coat well with the sauce. Serve with seasonal vegetables or fingerling potatoes.

January 29, 2013

Chingri Malaikari (Scampi in a creamy coconut milk gravy)

The bangals (people originally from erstwhile East Bengal) say nothing can match the heavenly and exquisite taste Bhapa Illish and Shorshe Illish (Hilsha in coconut mustard gravy). The ghatis (people originally from West Bengal) want Chingri macher malaikari (scampi in a coconut gravy) to celebrate every occasion. Is it the fragrant flavorful Hilsha fish or the meaty scampi, which one is the best? This question has given rise to many friendly-heated debates. Yet it remains without an answer. As for me, give me a plate of any of the dishes, and I am a happy Bengali. The delicate fragrant oily Hilsha nestled in coconut-mustard gravy, steamed, a slender green chili adding to its flavor – it is truly the queen of fishes and dishes. The succulent scampi in the thick creamy coconut milk with the delicate flavor of fresh young coconut – it is the majestic king. Who cares which one is best, I am lucky to enjoy both of them. Hilsha is almost next to impossible to get here, so it was time for celebrating the scampi. Malai meaning cream, chingri malaikari is a creamy curry in coconut milk. This is what I cooked a while back for some festive occasion. And wow, is that what is as called ‘heaven on plate’. It was delicate. It was rich and yet with subtle play of flavors. It was savory with just a hint of sweetness. It was there, enticing, in its creamy richness. And I am quite a bit proud to say that it was the best ever chingri malaikari I have cooked or even tasted. What a royal and delicious way of celebrating!

 
You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:
(Serves 2)

350g scampi
1 large onion
1-2 clove garlic
1 inch ginger
2-3 green chilies
1-2 bay leaves
4-5 green cardamom
4-5 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1sp sugar
4tbsp freshly grated coconut
400ml coconut milk
1/2sp red chili powder
Turmeric powder
Salt
Ghee

INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Shell and devein the scampi and clean them well. Rub the scampi with a pinch of turmeric and salt.
  2. Heat ghee in a wok. Fry the scampi in batches until golden.
  3. In the meantime, coarsely chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chilies. In a separate wok, heat a 1tbsp of ghee. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and chili. Fry until the onion is translucent and golden. Remove from pan and blend everything into a smooth paste.
  4. In the same wok used for frying scampi, add a bit more ghee and heat. Add the bay leaves, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon stick.
  5. When the nice fragrance comes out, add a spoon of sugar. Let it caramelize.
  6. Add the coconut powder. Fry until golden.
  7. Add the onion-ginger-garlic-chili paste. Add red chili powder and a pinch of turmeric. Fry on medium heat stirring well until it starts leaving oil at sides.
  8. Remove from heat and let it cool for a minute. Add the coconut milk. (Do not add the coconut milk in very hot wok).
  9. Put the wok back on medium heat. Bring the coconut milk to boil and reduce it to a creamy consistency. Cook until the oil from the coconut milk starts floating on top.
  10. Add the fried scampi and give a stir. Cook for a couple of minutes more. Serve with steaming rice.

January 20, 2013

Malaysian mango chicken

We (actually me, who always wants new/good food for every occasion) wanted to have something good (again celebrations!). However, my evening was a bit pre-occupied and I did not want to order food from the restaurant. Hence, I requested Blaž to cook, or at least start cooking the dinner, and I would help him after coming back home. We chose ‘Malaysian mango chicken’, a simple and yummy dish celebrating Asian flavors. I wrote the recipe and all other associated instructions in details for him, and convinced Blaž, who was a bit hesitant, that he would manage it. The next day when I came home, he had just finished chopping the veggies. ‘I did not know it would take so much time’. The chicken was marinating and the ingredients for the sauce were in a bowl nicely mixed. Although home, I told Blaž to carry on with the cooking. With Blaž asking a few questions in between and me giving it a couple of stirs, he cooked it perfectly. We loved the awesome blend of sweet, sour, salt and the stickiness from the mango and its juices. As we devoured it with fragrant rice, Blaž added one more item in his ‘what I can cook’ list!


You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:
(Serves 2)

400g chicken pieces (skinless and boneless)
1 small red onion
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium ripe green mango
Oil

Marinade:
1sp  sugar
1/2sp salt
1/2sp black pepper
3sp cornstarch
1sp chili powder

Sauce:
5tbsp fresh tomato puree
2tbsp oyster sauce
2sp honey
4-5tbsp mango juice
2sp balsamic vinegar
1sp sugar

METHOD:
  1. Dice the onion. Cut the red and green pepper into big chunks. Peel and pit the mango, cut it into strips.
  2. Mix the chicken with the marinade ingredients and marinate for around 20 minutes. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a wok. Add the onion and peppers. Stir-fry the onions until they are translucent and the peppers are a bit soft. Let the vegetables char a bit. Remove from the wok and keep aside.
  4. Heat a bit more oil in the same wok. Add the marinated chicken pieces along with the marinade. Add the mango strips. Cook on medium-high heat, with frequent stirring, until the chicken slightly browns and the mango becomes soft and sticky. The oil will start coming out.
  5. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes on low-medium heat to let the oil and juices out.
  6. Add the sauce and stir well to coat the chicken with the sauce. Cook on medium heat until the chicken is well cooked.
  7. Add the stir-fried peppers and onion. Give a good toss to mix everything well. Check the seasoning and serve with steaming rice.

January 6, 2013

Teriyaki salmon

When it comes to different Asian cuisines, I have many favorites. One of them is the Japanese teriyaki chicken or fish. Learning how simple it is to make the teriyaki sauce, I definitely wished to try my hand at it. I wish to cook something ‘new’, try new recipes and techniques for holidays and special occasions, and making the teriyaki salmon seemed perfectly fitted for one such. What is a better way to celebrate than trying something new with my favorite fish? The pan-fried salmon basted with the salty-sweetish teriyaki sauce was yummy. With a simple side of shredded carrot, it was delicious and refreshing lunch.


You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:
(Serves 2)

2 skinned salmon fillets (~180g each)
Marinade:
1/3cup Japanese soy sauce
1/3cup mirin
2tbsp sake
1/2tbsp sugar

Side:
1/2cup shredded carrot
2tbsp sushi vinegar
1sp lemon rind
1sp black sesame seed

METHOD:

1.      Mix together the soy sauce, mirin, and sake to prepare the teriyaki marinade. Marinate the salmon fillets in the sauce for 10 minutes, turning over the fillets once in between so that both sides are soaked in the sauce.
2.      Remove the fillets from the marinade. Set the marinade aside for later use.
3.      Heat a greased pan. Put the salmon fillets and hold them down gently. Pan-fry the salmon fillets on medium heat, brushing with the marinade occasionally. When the fish is fried to almost desired doneness, flip over and fry a minute more.
4.      In the meantime, bring the reserve marinade to boil. Then simmer until the sauce thickens.
5.      Serve the salmon drizzled with sauce.

Shredded carrot:

1.      Shred the carrot. Soak it in iced water for 15 minutes. Drain well.
2.      Add the black sesame seed, lemon rind, and vinegar. Give it a toss and serve with the teriyaki salmon.

NOTE:
If you are using store bought teriyaki sauce, dilute it with mirin, sake, or water, as the store bought sauce is a bit thicker than the homemade one.

November 23, 2012

Luchi - A fried Bengali bread

Now a food blog by a Bengali without Luchi is incomplete. These deep fried puffed little breads are weakness for all us Bengalese. A related cousin of puri, it differs from the same in only the type of flour used. While puri is made from whole-wheat flour (atta), luchi is made from refined all-purpose flour (maida). Every Sunday morning, these puffed ‘breadlets’ adorn the breakfast plates in any Bengali household hand in hand with alu-r torkari (mild potato curry) or any other side dish of choice. Sometimes it is a special treat along with the glorious kasha mangsho ( a spicy dry mutton preparation). Traditionally they are deep-fried in ghee. However, many houses these days use refined oil to fry them. As the air puffs the flat dough discs into perfect balls and an enticing smell fills the air, the simple dough transforms into its light whitish-golden avatar. Luchi has been such a part of my everyday life that I had taken it for somewhat granted. It was only when I moved away from home during my college years, looking at the luchi-less breakfast plates on Sunday mornings, that I realized how much a place it held in my food world. Making luchis on my own went through a couple of trials until I could make them all perfectly round. The right amount of oil for making the dough, the ideal temperature of the heated oil for deep-frying, the gentle pressure and whirling motion to let them puff in perfect rounds, it took some practice to master those. And therefore, when I recently took pictures of the luchis for the blog and decided to finally write down the recipe, I realized the description to be inadequate. Anf hence, there was this bit more wait until I made luchis again and requested Blaž to take a video while I fry them. Read carefully the instructions and watch the short video. Don’t be disheartened if the first try doesn’t give the perfect results, one just needs a little bit of practice to have these delicate Bengali breads on the table.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:
(Makes 10 [or 12 small])

1cup refined flour
1pinch salt
1tbsp oil
Warm water
Oil for deep-frying

INSTRUCTIONS:
1.      Put the flour in a big bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 1tbsp of oil to the flour. Rub the flour and oil between fingers to mix well and make the flour lighter and fluffier. Rub for a minute or so. This is a crucial step as over-rubbing or adding too much oil will make the luchi crispier and difficult to puff.
2.      Make a hole in middle. Slowly add warm water and knead into a smooth tight dough. Divide the dough into 10 (or 12 for smaller luchis) balls.
3.      In a small deep wok heat oil for deep-frying. The oil should be hot (not smoking) but fry the luchi on medium heat so that they do not brown too much before puffing and cooking well. (Test the oil with a tiny pinch of dough pressed flat between fingers. It should fry and float immediately but not turn brown.)
4.      Roll each dough ball into a thin circle of around 5 inch. Use a bit of oil while rolling to prevent sticking.
5.      Gently add the rolled luchi into the hot oil. With a round-slotted spoon keep the luchi under hot oil and keep on pressing gently in a whirling motion until the luchi puffs into a circle. [Check the video below.]
6.      Flip and let the other side fry for a few more seconds. This time, do not press down the luchi inside the oil but instead let it float. Each luchi will take about 20-30 seconds to fry.
7.      Repeat the steps 4-6 for the other dough balls. Roll and fry the luchis simultaneously. (Do not keep them waiting for long after rolling as it will make the rolled luchi dry.)

NOTE:
Do not make the dough long before frying the luchis. If you need to keep the dough standing, keep it covered under a moist cloth.

How to fry Luchi:

video

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