December 11, 2011

Dhania chicken (chicken in coriander gravy)

Seeing the fresh bunch of coriander leaves in the fresh market, I couldn’t but buy it. I absolutely love the smell of coriander leaves and it always reminds me of winter, a fresh enticing smell. I decided to blend this freshness with the spiciness of green chilies and ginger into a gravy. This is a typical Indian dish with chicken in this vibrant green gravy, cooked slowly to incorporate all the flavors together. Varying the amount of curd, the gravy can be made thicker or lighter. I prefer a gravy to be just enough to nicely cover the chicken pieces. The Indian flavors made my dinner delicious.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE
(Serves 3)

500g chicken pieces
1 big bunch coriander leaves (~2.5 cups)
1.2inch ginger
4-5 green chilies (according to taste and hotness of the chilies)
1 big onion
1sp coriander powder
3tbsp yogurt
Salt, sugar, oil


1.      Coarsely chop the coriander leaves (including the stems) and ginger. Add the chilies. Blend it into a paste.
2.      Finely dice the onion.
3.      Heat oil in a pan, and add the onion. Fry until golden brown.
4.      Add the chicken pieces and fry on medium heat until starting to get color.
5.      Add the coriander paste, coriander powder. Cook on low heat for 10 mins.
6.      Add the yogurt. Season with salt and a pinch of sugar.
7.      Cook on low-medium heat until chicken is cooked.
8.      Serve with steaming basmati rice.

December 4, 2011

Dal paturi

Paturi is the Bengali style of wrapping food in banana leaves and steaming it. Needless to say, it is a delicacy with the recipes handed over through generations. The delicate flavor that the banana leaves impart into the steaming food is simply matchless. It is prepared with fishes, vegetables, lentils and all other possible combinations. One such is dal paturi. It is a paste of yellow split peas (matar dal) and coconut steamed to form a delicate ‘cake’. Dal paturi is one of my favorite foods. I love the subtle flavors and the spiciness of chilies. I can just keep on eating it. Unfortunately, the last time I had it was at least 8 years ago, if not more. So, this weekend, I was determined to make it. I cannot get banana leaves here and first thought of using some other leaves. But, then decided against it. Some other leaves cannot replace the delicate flavor of banana leaves, and I did not want some different new flavor in it. I wished and craved for the original taste. I remember once I had the ‘dal paturi’ baked in oven instead of steaming in banana leaves. It actually tasted almost like the authentic recipe. Therefore, I decided to try it. I called my mother for the recipe, in case I do not remember any particular ingredient. And finally was all set to cook. Even though, I used a complete different cooking method, it did not disappoint me. Of course it wasn’t same as steaming in banana leaf, but well, I cannot help that. However, except that, everything tasted exactly the same. And I went back to the delicious flavors of childhood.

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

(Serves 5)

1cup yellow split peas (soaked overnight)
1cup coconut
2tbsp mustard oil
3 green chilies
1/4cup chopped fresh coriander
Salt, Sugar


1.      Grind the soaked split peas with little water possible (4-5tbsp). The texture of the paste should be a bit rough.
2.      Mix together split pea paste, grated coconut, chopped chilies and coriander, mustard oil, salt and a pinch of sugar. Mix well for around 5 minutes.
3.      Spread it on a greased baking dish in a 1-1.5cm uniform layer.
4.      Bake for 15 minutes in a oven preheated at 180°C (bottom heating only).
5.      Serve hot or room temperature as a starter/side.

Bhaja masala crusted salmon

Bhaja masla, literally translated to toasted spices, is my favorite Bengali spice mix. I love its salty savory aroma and taste, and almost like to try it with everything. So, this time it was the turn for salmon. I decided to crust the nice salmon piece with bhaja masala, however, I decided to increase the amount of mustard seeds. I very much love the flavor of fried fresh coriander leaves. Therefore, added them while pan-frying my salmon. And wow, it worked. The spices and the fish worked so well. One of my favorite fishes with my favorite spice mix created a dish that I can call one of my favorites!! I loved it.

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

(Serves 2)

2 steaks of salmon
2 small zucchini (bio)
1/2cup chopped coriander

For the crust:
1tbsp mustard seeds
1sp fennel seeds
2 dried red chilies
1/2sp cumin seeds
1/2sp nigella seeds
1/2sp fenugreek seeds


1.      Toast the seeds for the crust in a pan. Let it cool and then grind it coarsely.
2.      Cut the zucchini into 1inch slices (with skin).
3.      Lightly coat with oil. Season with 1/2sp spice mix and salt.
4.      Bake for 40 mins at 180°C.
5.      Pat dry the salmon steaks and season with salt.
6.      Press the salmon in the spice mix to give it a nice coat.
7.      In a heated greased pan, fry the salmon with skin side down until almost done. Add chopped coriander leaves while frying.
8.      Flip over and fry the crusted side until brown.
9.      Serve with baked zucchini slices.

Chicken spinach roll

I was planning for long to make this spinach chicken roll. I had this idea of using spicy spinach stuffing and glazing the roll with honey, and was eager to see how both would work. I love using ginger, tomato and shallots with spinach, so decided to make the stuffing like that. Then I selected blue cheese because I love its flavor. The stuffing was spicy. And I loved how the blue cheese imparted its flavor without making the roll cheesy. The lemon in the glaze gave a perfect hint of tartness. As the sweetness with the first bite melted into savory flavors, I loved my creation.

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

(Serves 6)

500g chicken breast
500g spinach
1cup chopped tomato
1tbsp ginger paste
2 green chilies
1/2cup chopped shallots
100g blue cheese (bleu cheese) crumbled
2tbsp breadcrumbs
1tbsp honey
2tbsp lemon juice
4tbsp sour cream
Cayenne pepper


1.      Heat butter in a wok, add the chopped shallots, tomato, chopped green chilies, and ginger paste. Cook on moderate heat for 5 minutes.
2.      Coarsely chop the spinach and add it in the wok. Season with salt.
3.      Cook on low-moderate heat till the water from the spinach dries. Set aside.
4.      In a pan, heat butter and add the breadcrumbs. Do until golden brown.
5.      Flatten the chicken breast to 1/2cm thickness.
6.      Smear the flattened breast with butter and then sour cream.
7.      Add the spinach mixture in a layer.
8.      Sprinkle breadcrumbs and blue cheese crumbles.
9.      Roll the chicken breast tightly.
10.   Mix the honey and lemon juice.
11.   Smear the outside of chicken with it. Season with cayenne pepper.
12.   Bake at 200°C for 40 minutes.
13.   Let it stay for 5 minutes and then cut into slices.
14.   Serve with roasted veggies.

Sorshe sim (Flat beans with mustard paste)

In winter, my mother cooks this dish often for lunch. It is dish with a kind of flat beans called sim and uses the fresh mustard paste that is so often used in Bengali kitchen. The coriander gives a freshness that reminds me of winters. I love it. And today for a simple Sunday lunch, I decided to make it. And aw, how it reminded me of the colorful and flavorful afternoons in winter Kolkata.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE
(Serves 2)

200g flat beans
1/2sp nigella seeds
2tbsp fresh mustard paste
1/2cup chopped fresh coriander
Green chili
Salt, sugar


1.      Cut the beans into 1 inch pieces.
2.      Heat oil in wok. Rub the nigella seeds on palm and add in the oil. Let it crackle.
3.      Add the beans and chili. Season with salt. Cook on low heat covered.
4.      When the beans are almost done, add the mustard paste and chopped coriander. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar.
5.      Cook uncovered on moderate heat until the beans are well done.
6.      Serve with steaming rice.

Dijon mustard cannot substitute the mustard paste. In case fresh mustard paste is not available, make a paste out of ground mustard with little water. Let it stay for 10 minutes before adding to the food.
The fresh mustard paste should be made quickly as too much grinding tends to make it bitter and the mustard starts loosing flavor.

Zucchini pear soup

What is better than a hot soup in a cold winter evening? Specially when I am wishing to cook and eat something simple. I had a zucchini and pear left in my refrigerator and I decided to use it in a soup. The hot soup with the hint of sweetness and hint of pepper was delicious!

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

(Serves 2)

1 medium zucchini
1 medium pear
500ml hot water
1/2cup chopped shallots
Olive oil
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt, pepper


1.      Peel and chop the zucchini and pear into bite size pieces.
2.      Lightly coat the pieces with oil and roast for 30 minutes at 180°C.
3.      Heat oil in a pot.
4.      Add the shallots and cook until translucent.
5.      Add water, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and bring it to boil.
6.      Add the pear and zucchini pieces.
7.      Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
8.      Using a hand blender, blend the zucchini and pear pieces. Bring it to boil.
9.      Serve hot.

December 3, 2011

Five-spiced salmon with lightly caramelized fig

Whenever I go to the fish market, I am sure to buy a piece of this brightly colored fish. I find it one of the most tasty and flavorful fishes. And of course I am talking about salmon. I like crispy-skinned salmon dusted with different spices and paired up with some simple vegetables or fruits. The rich flavor of salmon and the subtlety of vegetables/ fruits are just the perfect combination for me. It makes me Saturday lunch happy. So this time it was these soft ripe figs that I lightly caramelized and served beside the succulent and crispy salmon seasoned with Chinese five-spice.

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

(Serves 2)

2 pieces of salmon (~200g each)
4 big figs
1tbsp five-spice powder
Brown sugar


1.      Pat dry the fish and dust it with five-spice and salt.
2.      Grease a pan and make it hot.
3.      Put the fish skin side down and hold it down gently for a minute. Fry the fish on medium flame.
4.      In the meantime, half the figs and coat the face with brown sugar.
5.      In a heated pan, put the figs face down and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize.
6.      Switch off the heat, but the keep the figs in the pan so it continues to caramelize slowly.
7.      When the fish is almost cooked, flip over and lightly brown the other side.
8.      Plate each salmon piece with 4 pieces of lightly caramelized figs.

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