November 23, 2015

Lau diye machher matha (Fish head with Bottle gourd)

I was a fussy eater and completely made my mother's life miserable with my crabby food habit. Every day I would want some tasty and new dishes (Read -the options were though very less). Most of the healthy fortified foods were exscinded from my comestible list. But there were two fixings that my mother used to apply as her weapons to tame down my choices. Those were coconut and fish head. I used to eat anything that was cooked with coconut or fish head. So my mum used to feed me green leafy vegetables, Bottle gourd, pumpkin or mixed vegetables cooked with fish head. Or papaya, raw banana, ladies finger etc cooked with coconut. Thinking of - my mum is a magician who can make any dish sumptuous, I didn't realise then that these were the common Bengali household recipes. You must have understood that I used to dislike all the above-mentioned vegetables. But the fish head or the coconut used to work as the catalyst for me to make the dish edible and of course, tasty to me. In this respect, my daughter is showing some of the reflections of her mother. Though I must appreciate, she is much better than me as she hardly makes her mama's life miserable. But she does have some restricted food habits hidden in her mind too.
                           After becoming a mother and a Food Blogger, my mindset towards food got changed. The anxious mum started to understand the value of healthy food in our life and the curious and creative soul started experimenting different dishes from different cuisines. My sole concentration turned to provide the proper diet that should supply soundly nourishment to my girls. I often travel back to the memory line and envision the stubborn little girl throwing tantrums to the food was served to her and the mother trying her best to plead her. I feel sorry at times realising the trouble I caused to my mother. It was so well said that ' food escorts us back in time and shapes our memory'. With this Lau diye machher matha I had a fond memory attached to it. This  is one such dish that my mother used to cook for me and I happily used to devour it without any second thought. Same as for my daughter she likes it very much and every time demands to make it often. Maturity making me inclined more towards cooking Bengali dishes, and to experience the root more significantly. I realised that food typifies everything that is different about another culture and gives the most authentic insight into how people live. Ask a Fish lover Bengali like us who will answer back that except scales and the bones we eat almost the whole fish. Now let us move to the dish and enjoy:
Lau or Bottle gourd - 1 medium size
Fish Head - 1 big ( Rohu or Katla) {See note 1}
Ginger paste - 1 tspn
Tomato - 1 small
Fenugreek Seed - 1/2 tspn
Turmeric Powder - 1/2tspn + 1/2 tspn
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tspn
Coriander Powder - 1/2 tspn
Red Chilli Powder - As per taste
Mustard Oil - 2 tbspn + whatever needed
Green Chilli as per taste
Ghee - few drops
Salt & Sugar As per taste
1. Skin the Bottle gourd. Roughly chop the Lau or Bottle gourd into small pieces. Keep aside.
2. Add 1/2 tspn Turmeric powder and salt to taste to the fish head. Rub thoroughly.
3. Heat 2 tbspn oil in  a Kadai or deep dense pan. Add the fish head and fry both sides till it turns brown. Take out from the fish head from the Kadai leaving behind the excess oil.
4. Now if you have enough oil (approx 1 tbspn) then no need to add more oil. If required then please add more. Heat the oil and then add the fenugreek seeds.
5. Soon after add the chopped lau and cook for 5 minutes on high flame. Add chopped tomato. Cover it up and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on high flame.
6. The bottle gourd tends to leave a lot of juice (See Note). Take the lid off. Add all the other spices (Not the green chillies and ghee) including  the fish head. Mix nicely and keep on cooking until the juice gets completely evaporated. Keep on stirring in intervals breaking the fish head into as many small pieces as you can with the ladle.
7. The dish will look done when the lau or the Bottle gourd is soft and tender, the juice is totally dried up and the dish is coming out clean from the Kadai. Add ghee and green chillies and serve hot with rice.
1. When you wil buy the fish head, tell the seller to cut in to small pieces. It will be easier for you to cook. 
2. The bottle gourd tends to leave a lot of juice. So always be cautious not to turn the dish soggy. Keep on controlling the levels of the flame.

November 9, 2015

Shim Bata or Runner beans Paste

Life is getting too busy with the two princesses day by day. The elder one can't lift her head from the extended study pressure and the lil one is totally depended on me which makes me dance around her most of the time. To be honest, life has taken a different turn which is sweeter than anything. The two bundles of joy keep away the glumness from the home and give us the strength to move on with a fighting spirit. This year has shown us lot of ups and downs in our life. Here is hoping the new year will begin on a sweeter note. 
Let me wish you all Happy Dipabali and move on the recipe.. May the festive season brings you happiness and prosperity.
Shim or Runner Beans - 100 gm (Preferably the baby ones)
Coriander leaves- 100 gm
Garlic Cloves - 5- 6 (Optional)
Green Chilli - 1 -2
Oil - 2 tspn
Salt & Sugar - As per taste
Kalonji/ nigella seeds - 1/4 tspn
Ghee - a pinch
1. Grind the Shim/ Runner beans along with the green chilli and garlic into fine paste. If it needs water then please add.
2. Grind the coriander leaves separately into a fine paste.
3. Heat Oil in a Kadai or pan and add the Nigella seeds. Add the Shim Paste or the Runner Beans paste and keep on sauteing until it gets almost cooked. Add the Coriander leaves paste and salt and sugar and cook till it turns into a dough and comes out easily from the pan. add a pinch of ghee and serve with hot rice.
1. I have learnt this dish from my cook. What she has told that the quantity of the Shim/ runner beans and the Coriander leaves should be same. and it should be slow cooked and after getting totally dry the taste enhances.
2. Another thing she has told that choosing the right age Shim or Runner Beans are very important. As much baby beans we cook, the taste comes out better.

September 22, 2015

Product Review: Assam 1860 Tea

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” 

To be honest, I am not a tea lover. I love Iced Tea though, that is also very rare. Then you must be wondering why I am reviewing a product which I didn't taste or experience. On a different note, apart from me all my family members are ardent Tea Lovers. Or more or less I can say I have 'Tea-addicted' people all around me. I grow up seeing my Mom and Dad, if they do not get their morning tea on time the whole world will turn topsy-turvy and a bad headache will clumsily off their mood. I have seen my husband spending hours in the isle of the Tea sections of the Hypermarkets choosing the right flavour that could match his taste bud, and keep on trying and tasting them. He is very particular about the tastes and flavours and it is very difficult to satisfy his taste bud. 

So when I got a mail from Team Assam 1860 to sample their tea, I reverted back with a confession that I don't drink tea. I should appreciate their gentle approach for sending me a well packed tea leaves for my family with a congratulations note. What melts down my heart is, the first two lines from the letter they sent me. Thanks for the Lovely lines Assam 1860 tea.

Now let us come to the Tea. I created a tea Tasting session at my home where my parents, my parent-in-laws and my sister-in-law were invited over a tea party. Before I approach what they said and how much they liked the tea, let me say few words about Assam1860 Tea:
The first thing they ensure that will please your senses is the flavour of the CTC black tea. Now, what exactly the CTC means? (I learnt it too)-

“Crush, Tear, and Curl is a method of processing black tea, similar to that of orthodox tea manufacturer. Instead of the leaves being rolled as a final stage, like Oolongs, they are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of small sharp "teeth" that crush, tear, and curl the tea.” 
And this is what Assam 1860 Tea ensures:
“Assam 1860 is a black tea that celebrates tea itself. It is made only from leaves plucked in the picturesque Thowra Estate, a Chai Bagan set up in 1860. We ensure that the phrase ‘garden fresh’ lives up to its every promise.

The leaves are plucked, processed and packed in the estate itself, ensuring quality and freshness that is unparalleled. So wherever you are, you might as well be drinking your cup of Assam 1860 on the verdant verandah of the Thowra Bungalow, overlooking graceful rolling greens on our lush terraces.

We can’t wait for you to try our new offering. The plucking of tea leaves has begun in earnest!”

Now let me share the experiences of Assam 1860 that my family had. 

My parents – in – law and my Husband:
They drink black tea without sugar. So I prefer to experience them the tea bags, came along with the pack. My parents- in – law shared one tea bag and my Husband one full. According to them, the flavour of the tea is a perfect blend of taste and aroma that can brighten up the lazy mornings and the moods.
To my husband who first inhales the aroma. If the aroma touches his heart then he will next go for the colour. The colour of the tea should be faint brown. So when he senses the aroma of Assam 1860 I saw a pleasing smile brushed his face. After tasting it, he nodded his head and just smiled. That means the tea passed the sensory tasting journey. He asked me more detail about the tea. :)
My Parents and my sister-in-law:
They love their tea most of the time with milk, brewing for a longer time with some extra tea leaves than the moderate portion. It should have sugar and served piping hot when sipped. This time, I used the loose tea leaves sent along. To them, the taste gives a flush to gain all the lost energy and one goes back to a time to play with his/her old memories. That was what my dad said.

To my sister-in-law after tasting few she found it a perfect one which she can enjoy sitting on a lazy couch with a book to experience the aromatic flavour. She would love to add some ginger in it or few drops of lemon. A perfect “Kadak ” masala tea could be justified the tea as well.
So what I have learnt from them that when someone is tasting a tea one should know it is a sensory journey where the aroma plays one of the important roles. The aroma gives a peace in your mind and then the taste that should beatify your sensory buds and drove you down to the memory lanes to regain the energy and to lighten up your days. And no need to say Assam 1860 tea passed all these to prove – “Let us try it again”….

September 5, 2015

Quick Party Dessert {"Say Cheese to Chocolate"}

“Anything is good if it's made of chocolate.” 
― Jo Brand
 #Quick post- As promised to a reader to give her this recipe ( or rather no recipe just an idea).
If you have a bunch of kids invited in your party then I guess the first thing will strike up in your mind is to make something out of Chocolate. Even I have seen, give the kids anything they dislike - for example some fruits, they will surely gobble it up if you present it with chocolate. Why only the kids, adults turns on to a kid when it comes to Chocolate. Like as Dave Barry said: Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain”, no wonder chocolate drifts with the same penchant without considering any age. So today I am sharing a perfect chocolaty dessert which is not only a party winner or perfectly pairs a satisfying meal,, it is made in  no time and needs a very less time for preperation. Lets move on to the recipe:
{This is time I have not given any measurement, it is too easy to make and needs just the way like. Please check the Notes #2 for more variations.}
Left over Chocolate Ganache (See Note #1)
Cheese-lings (See Note #3)
Grated Chocolate  
Chocolate syrup/sauce  
1. It is too easy to make. Take some small serving glass/container (Transparent preferable) and assemble all the ingredients in layers, like put a layer of ganache, then a layer of cheese-lings. You can repeat this twice and on the top just drizzle some Chocolate syrup/sauce and some grated chocolate. Your dish is ready.
1. You must be knowing how to make Ganache. If not then check Here and Here. I have mentioned left over Ganache as I made out of it. You can always make fresh one. Just make sure to give it a rest for a couple of hours in the refrigerator before serving it.

2. It can be made under many more variations. 
i] You can use dry fruits or chopped fresh fruits. 
ii] To make it a little boozy, soak some dry fruits in rum overnight and then strain the fruits and add in it. 
iii] Some chunks of chocolate biscuit or Oreo pairs well too. 
iv] You can add layer of Ice cream, fresh fruits and some nuts and top with ganache and chocolate syrup with some choco chips.
There are so many options to make it drool-worthy, just go wild with your creativity and imagination.

3.  If you are giving a layer of cheese- lings, then make sure to arrange it just before serving. Otherwise the cheese-lings will become soggy and the ganache will toss off totally the crispy and crunchiness of the cheese-lings.

September 3, 2015

World Cuisine In a Bengali Kitchen: Mexican Pumpkin Flower Soup (Sopa Mexicana de flor de Calabaza)

"Squash flowers such as pumpkin and courgette are found in many recipes across South America. They are delicious, particularly when lightly cooked, in Spain, France and Italy, they crop up in all sorts of recipes." (P:100)
Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Pie, various curries out of Pumpkins so on and so forth - there are endless dishes that can be made out of Pumpkin. We all know, being a very versatile, most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. But I never thought in my dreams (Yes, not exaggerating) that one could make such a piquantly pungent soup out of Pumpkin Flowers. I am always in love introducing the flavours of world cuisine in my little Bengali kitchen. When it comes to Pumpkin Flowers, being a Bengali I was brought up tasting only the batter fried pumpkin flowers, most often plucked from our garden. Even after shifting to Kolkata we bought Pumpkin flowers, fried it, dipping in a batter made out of a proportionate mixture of gram flour, all purpose flour and rice flour, till it was crispy and get a coat of a shiny golden hue. We, Bengalis, always need something to pair perfectly while having rice with dal. Say it a tarkari/chochori/dry curry or some oily fritters, a satisfactory meal will not be completed without this. Likewise our daily vegetable routine shopping, the Man bought a bunch of Pumpkin Flowers the other day. This time the Pumpkin Flowers were cooked with an exception. If we talk about the nutritional values of the Pumpkin Flowers, they do have some important vitamins like vitamin A and C and minerals.
From my recent collection of cook books, I was brought in with this recipe. From last few months I was reading on the flares of street food from all over the world with the meticulous accordance. I got acquainted with so many dishes that not only    astounded me but I loved the way the history and stories enfolded them. This Pumpkin Flower soup is basically a famous street food summer soup that widely gets sold in Mexico and its periphery at the street food counters and little cafes. According to Tom Kime, this is a traditional recipe that is fluxing through generation to generation for over almost hundreds of years without any changes in the recipe. The little cafes or the street food stalls would quickly whip up this saporous spicy soup, spiking up with the flavours of Green chilies and the lemon Juice. While cooking this easy dish I found that the main taste dwelt in the tanginess of the lemon juice with the commixture of the pepperiness of the chilies. I read few more articles stating this recipe and found many variations were made. Potato, zucchini, corn can also be used to make this soup. Even I found that there are many recipes on Pumpkin Flower, like stuffing it with cheese or prawns and then battered fried,  etc. So here is the recipe of Mexican Pumpkin Flower Soup (Sopa Mexicana de flor de Calabaza). Hope you will enjoy it.

{Recipe adapted from the book: Street Food by Tom Kime }
(Yields 2 soup bowls)
Pumpkin Flowers or Courgette (Zucchini) Flowers - 12-14 (small)
Chicken/vegetable Stock - 3 cups (Less or more - See Notes)
Onion - 1 medium
Garlic - 1 tspn (finely Chopped)
Green Chilies - 2-3 (More or less)
Tomato - 2 small
Olive oil - 1 tspn + 1/2 tspn
Lemon Juice - out of 1 lemon
Salt & Balck Pepper as per taste
1. Discard the stems and the pistils of the Pumpkin Flowers finely chop, except 2-3 flower. Reserve.
2. Finely chop the onion. Grate the Tomato using a grater to get a nice pulp. Reserve.
3. Finely chop the green chilies.
4. Heat 1 tspn oil in a pan. Add the garlic and the chopped green chilies, keeping some for garnishing later.
5. Wait till the garlic turns brown, add the onion and fry till the onions are pale and golden brown. 
6. Add the tomato pulp and cook till it is well cooked.
7. Add the chopped pumpkin flowers and cook for 2 minutes. Cool it and then make puree of it in mixer grinder.
8. Now heat the remaining oil and fry the remaining whole pumpkin flowers till they are wilted and the parts are golden brown. Reserve.
9. Now Bring in to boil the chicken stock. Add the pumpkin flower puree, lemon juice and stir well. Add salt and Black pepper powder as per taste. Pour it in the soup bowls and garnish them with the whole pumpkin flowers and chopped green chilies.

1. Make sure the soup tastes better when is semi-thick. Therefore add the chicken stock as per consistency. If it has become too runny then add some corn starch.

I have started this series of "World Cuisine in a Bengali Kitchen". Where I will share different recipes from the different part of the world, tried and tasted in my kitchen. The main goal will be keeping it healthy as much as possible.

September 1, 2015

Minced Chicken with Mixed Daal

"I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain; 
What a wonderful feeling, I'm happy again."
 It was raining heavily outside, splashing and pelting down the window panes. I was vacuously staring through it. Trying hard to feel and be loved with the rain. But I failed. 
Rain doesn't entice me anymore. 
I don't know. 
I flashed back to my student life…..
The rainwater streaming down through the grit and grime Lal matir rasta (the red muddy lanes) aimlessly making its way to unite with the inundated paddy fields by the road. Ignoring the alarming overcast sky a group of 5 to 6 jubilant children of 8 to 12 years, were splashing and jumping in the water and catching fish with some strainers collected from their houses. Some empty glass jars were arrayed safely with some alive fish. In celebration of an off day from school that declared a rainy day from a sudden down pour we were coddling the free spirit of childhood.
                                        Being an incurably romantic rain lover, I had never missed a single rain. Even if it was in the midnight, you would find me by the window trying to hold the rain drops. The charm of the rain at night was spellbound for me. The reflection of the street lamps on the closed window glass, I could see melting down with the slushing rain. The darkness of the room and the pitter-patter music from the pour used to create an enchanting and mystic atmosphere. Stealthy, I used to elude from my bed so that my parents should not object my date with the rain at the oddest hour of the dark night. I used to open the window with an expert hand making sure not to make any noise and sneaked my hand to touch the rain. In no time the rain drops were dancing on my palm and a shiver flowing down through my body. I used to try hard to hold the rain drops and store it forever. The joy of the tiny little enthralled soul was different and beyond explanation. 
                                                         We used to have a wide view of a vacant land, yards after yards. And that view became like a blessing for us during the Monsoon. At night I loved to watch the drama of the lightning in interval, sparking and cracking the whole sky and tearing down the silence of the pitch-dark night with its roaring mighty rage. Moreover a nagging croaking sound of the frogs would bewitch an eerie sensation. In the day time the entrance of the dark cloud sprang us to rush and sit in the covered balcony to watch the bleary rain racing to us from the distance. The thrumming sound and the brumous view, the wild wind happily swaying the trees, were so enchanting that the feet used to tap with the rhythm and I hypnotically used to go out to drench myself ignoring my parents. My Parents kept on shouting behind me, but their voices never reached to my ear or I was then the most arrogant girl who didn't pay attention to her parents’ commands. I dared not to think what would happen next and how much scold was waiting for me. I just had the moment which I wanted to enliven it forever and ever. I slopped and dirt myself. Or sometimes I would take a ride on my cycle and speed behind the floating cloud and the pouring rain, singing aloud one of Kabiguru's (Rabindranath Tagore) Monsoon songs. I would hear my parents' voices slowly fainting, calling my name to return back home. But I was then totally in a different world. Yes for me the life was like this, basking in the free spirit of childhood with the nature. 
                                                                                  Rain then was for me everything, my love, my passion, my play-mate, my soul-mate et al. My tears poured down and coalesced in the rain so many times. I danced in the rain, I laughed aloud in the rain. It was only the rain who had witnessed my joy and my sometimes the sad spirit of mine. My mother had locked me so many times to shun the rain. But every time I took out a chance to touch the rain at least for a second. RAIN WAS FOR ME NOTHING BUT LOVE FOR WHOM I WAS THE CRAZIEST GIRL OF THE WORLD.

I woke up in the morning and went to the Balcony. I saw the narrow lane by my house was half merged in water. A glance of the clogged water made me giddy in no time and a shiver with the thought how I would go out to do my daily chores!! Storming my brain with the morning blues I tried to remember when did it rain so heavily? A sarcastic smile brushed my face. Ah, I was then snuggled peacefully in my bed with the full on AC. How come the sound of rain would reach my ears? And if it was then it would not make me happy any more. My daughter has to go to school where Rainy Day is an obsolete word, My Husband has his office. Where would I hang the piled up clothes resting in the washing machine. I wondered - Am I not in love with rain any more? The other day I was travelling on my car to my daughter’s school. It was raining heavily and splashing down on the car. I tried to feel it from the core of my heart. I tried to avoid all the honking, the rustling bustling of the busy city life. But I failed. I just found a worried mother's heart who was desperate and tensed to reach to her daughter’s school on time. I wondered - Am I not in love with rain any more? The other day the sudden rain made me race and climb the three storied house to the roof top to fetch the wet clothes lined up for drying. My maid was out for some work. I tried to rescue the almost dry clothes from the rain. I achieved to a certain extend. At the same time I found myself totally drenched. I didn't find myself happy. An utter disappointment started to hover my mind. Where I would hang the wet clothes now!! I wondered - Am I not in love with rain any more? The other day my daughter wanted to experience the rain and drench herself. The worried mother inside me burst out and restricted her instantly. I dared what if she would catch cold and fall sick and would miss the school (missing a day means every day a shout out for low attendance). At the same time the city pollution has given my daughter a gift of suffering from a nagging cold and cough what makes the Mamma's heart always overprotective. That day I found my eyes welled up. I was failed to bring back my childhood to her. The free spirit to grow up embracing the nature. I found I was not in love with rain any more. Or maybe I am, my love for rain now floats through the stories of my childhood to my daughters that my parents tell them. Because the city life has caged my heart, petrified the soul and buried them under the mechanical city life that I am leading now.

Now let us move on to the recipe that today I am going to share. Its very tasty and healthy. You can have it with rice but it matches perfectly with roti. So here is the recipe:
Mixed Dal - 1 cup 
(Black lentil, Chana Daal/ Bengal Gram split, Arhar Daal/ Split Pigeon Pea, See Notes)

Minced Chicken - 200grm
Onion - 1 large
 Tomato - 1 large
Garlic - 6-7 cloves (Whole)
Ginger Paste - 1 tspn + 1/2 tspn

Turmeric Powder - 1/ 4 tspn + 1/2 tspn
Cumin Powder - 1 tspn
Coriander Powder - 1 tspn
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tspn

Cumin seed - 1/2 tspn
Whole red chili - 1 -2
Bay leaves - 1- 2
White Oil - 2 tbspn (or less)

Garam Masala Powder - 1/4 tspn
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup (Chopped)

Cream - 2 tspn (optional)

Salt and Sugar as per taste
1. Put the Pulses/ Daal in a pressure cooker. Add 2 cups water, 1/4 tspn turmeric powder, 1/2 tspn ginger paste, 1/4 tspn red chili powder and salt to taste. Cook till 4 - 5 whistles blow. Reserve.
2. Finely chop the onion and tomato separately. Reserve.
3. Take a small bowl. Add all the powdered spices except the garam masala powder. Add sufficient water to make a semi - thick paste.
4. Now take a deep dense pan or a Kadai. Heat the oil. 
5. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaves and whole red chili. Add the whole garlic cloves when the cumin seeds start to splutter.
6. Wait till the garlic turns light brown. Then add the chopped onion. Cook till the onion turns brown and looks perfectly caramelised.
7. Add the tomato and cook till the it starts to loose oil. Then add the minced chicken and the masala paste.
8. Mix all together nicely by giving good stir. Cook on high flame for 3 - 4 minutes. Now add the Cooked Daal to it and cook till the juice evaporates and gives a dry texture to the dish. Check if Salt or sugar is needed to be added.
9. Add the Garam Masala Powder and the Coriander Leaves. Fold nicely and cook for a minute. Add the cream (Otional) and then serve hot with roti or rice.
1. You can more varieties of pulses in it to make it more healthy.
2. It tastes great with with-bone chicken too. But then the recipe is a bit different, which I share soon.

August 21, 2015

Chicken Spaghetti with Lemon Butter Sauce

"With enough butter anything is good...."
-Julia Child
A short story I have written a while back.... 
Tactile Sensation
Her old aching limbs needed earnestly a fresh air walk. She locked the door and went out to relax in the fresh breeze for a while. She had a small shaded trail guarded by big green trees in her apartment complex, which she felt the only treasure remained in this concrete world. The air was no fresher to inhale, but still the trees worked as the catalysts to strain out the pollution and spread the freshness in the area. Burden of thoughts leaned down her head and her eyes aimlessly followed the path and suddenly got stuck on a feather. A feather with a colour of yellow and black and the length might be a palm long. She knew this bird, but didn’t know its name. She often saw it from her kitchen window, humming in the trees, flying from one branch to the other. Her heart suddenly felt with joy and the 9 year old child jumped out of her and picked up the feather in no time. Her life within a fraction of moment dated 50 years back when she was a desperate feather collector and was awarded the first prize in her school project for her feather collection. She rested her body on a lonely bench on the side of the trail and felt her pounding heart, which was though little bit exhausted with the brisk walk, much more excited about getting a suddenly found treasure. Her wrinkled and trembling fingers touched the soft surface of the feather. The delicate and smoothness of the feather just injected a weird kind of sensation in her whole body and it went straight and hit her heart. She felt a different kind of happiness and relaxation. A different kind of excitement started to run through her blood. She was holding the feather with the utmost care she could give it to. She didn’t want to distort the shape of the feather or any of its barbs. Her aged limbs were trying to gather all the power to give it the full comfort. The touch sensation of the feather infused new life in her senescent body. Again, it took her to the moment when she first held her daughter in her arms. The little bundle of joy made her whole life blessed. Though she was young enough at that time, her hands were trembling too then. Her heart was beating fast with a fear that might be her touch would hurt her little soft baby. Today she was feeling the same first time motherhood experience after so many years just after touching the feather. Her heart swelled with happiness and the joy flooded down her cheeks just alike what she felt that moment when she first had her baby in her arms. The two ages suddenly commixed with a new age and all her burdened soul, her burdened age energised with a new light of power to live life. She touched the feather in her cheek and closed her eyes, she felt like touching her newborn baby. She sensed the same joy and ecstasy. Her charged body headed towards home. Now her hands or limbs were not trembling nor were her limbs aching any more. She went straight to her room and grabbed for a secure place to keep the feather. The mere feather was not a mere feather to her anymore. It’s the source of power to live and sense the precious moments once again. Her excitement could not wait for a moment to share about her treasure and the tactile sensation with her husband, who would be back any moment from his job and her grown up married daughter who calls every day at night.

Now let us move to the recipe:
{Yields 3- 4 adults}
Spaghetti - a bunch that a fist can hold
Boneless Chicken - 200 grm
Garlic - 1 tbspn (chopped)
Butter - 3 tbspn heaped ( or less - See notes)
Lemon Juice - 2 tbspn
Salt, Sugar and black pepper as per taste
Spring onion (finely chopped) - 1/4 cup
1.  Boil the Spaghetti with salt till it's tender. Strain the excess water and reserve. 
2. Heat the butter in non-stick pan. Add garlic and cook till it is light brown. Add lemon juice ad give a quick stir.
3. Add the boneless chicken cut in cubes and saute for a while. Add salt, sugar and pepper as per your taste. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Add the spaghetti. Fold nicely with with chicken. Cook for a couple of minutes more and then add the chopped spring onion and serve.
I made this dish when I was expecting my second daughter. I was craving for only butter and lemon. I could eat chicken only if it was cooked with lots of butter, drizzle with lemon juice or cream. So when you will make this dish adjust the butter portion with olive oil (If you want to avoid too much butter). But to be honest the taste of the dish actually lies in the amount of butter gets used as Julia Child has said - "With enough butter, anything is good..."
PS. It is a simple adaptation of Lemon Butter sauce inspired from many recipes based on it.

Bon App├ętit

August 18, 2015

Kung Pao Chicken

Chili Chicken, Chicken Manchurian, Hakka Noodles, Sweet corn Soup, Hot and Sour soup, and Chicken lolly-pops or Drums of heaven, these were the ultimate dishes which used to comprise the whole Chinese Cuisine for us. My sister and I both die for the Chinese delicacies, make sure as told earlier, for us (To be true, as per our knowledge), mainly Chili Chicken and Hakka Noodles meant all for Chinese cuisine. Whenever we used to visit any Chinese restaurant with our parents, we would order only the items among those. Once for a change we ordered for a new dish called Chicken China Town. We were pretty excited and anxiously waiting to taste a new dish. What we were served, was a dish tasted same like Chicken Manchurian. Only it was covered with an egg poach. Huh, so whether there were 30 odd items listed on the menu of a Chinese restaurant in India, say about 20 years back, the dishes tasted more or less the same. The present scenario has now totally changed. People gained a good knowledge on different cuisine about the varieties and authenticity of the tastes. But at the time of our childhood authentic taste of a cuisine only limited with the high end Restaurants which were not always affordable for us. Spending 250/-INR for a dish was mere a luxury nothing else. So we used to choose our comfort zone where each dish costs 100 to 150/- or less. To be honest once or twice we have visited such places but those Chinese dishes didn't tickle our taste buds for the mildness in the tastes, as we were used to with the dash of Ajinamoto, spicy and full of soy sauce gravy dishes.
It had only opened the whole arena of the versatility of Chinese Cuisine then, when I visited USA. Though not the authentic one, I at least came out from a world where Chilli Chicken and Hakka Noodles were not available. Rather I was introduced with Honey crispy Chicken, Mince Chicken with eggplant, Kung Pao Chicken or Gong Bao Chicken, Hunan Chicken, Wantons, Dumplings, Peking Roasted ducks etc. The variety in taste and flavour in-fixed my mind to What actually Chinese Cuisine is. I was introduced with the varieties of Sauces and spice in the Chinese local stores. The taste of Soy Sauce was so different from the one available in India.  I had never heard about the Sauces like Hoisin sauce or Oyster Sauce. I had never seen so many different varieties of Chili Sauce. The different kind of vinegar and et al. Thankfully now at this age we almost get most the global continental food items in the market. So one can easily delve in luxury to make different types of international dishes at home. Only you have to find out the proper recipe and give a try. Now Kung Pao Chicken is one of the dishes that we love from the traditional Chinese Cuisine. The recipe I have shared is not entirely the authentic one, but a near to it. So enjoy Kung Pao Chicken... 

This Magazine look I created inspired by my very talented friend Chandrima. Check out her blog Not out of the box for delicious recipes and eye catching food photography.
{Recipe partially adapted from HERE}
Soy Sauce: 1tbspn
Chinese rice wine or dry sherry – 2 tspn (I used rice vinegar)
Cornflour – ½ tbspn
Boneless Chicken – 250 grams (Cut in to cubes)
 Chinese black vinegar or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar – 1 tspn (I used Balsamic vinegar)
Soy Sauce – 2 tspn
Hoisin sauce – 1 tbspn
Sesame oil – 1 tspn (I didn’t use)
Sugar – 1 tspn
Corn flour – 1 tspn
Ground Sichuan pepper – ½ tspn (See notes - #1)
For the final part:
White oil – 2tbspn + 2 tbspn
Dried red chilies – As per your taste
Spring onion – Finely sliced ¼ cup
Coloured bell pepper  diced -  1 & 1/2 cup
Garlic – finely chopped – 1 tbspn
Fresh ginger – grated 1 tspn
 Dry - roasted Peanuts – ¼ cup
1. Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients written under Marinade. Fold it nicely so that the cornflour gets mixed evenly.
2. Prepare the sauce, combine all the ingredients written under Sauce. Rest for a while so that the sugar gets dissolve.
3. Heat 2 tbspn oil a wok or a Kadai. Pour the chicken and fry for 4 - 5 minutes on high flame. Take them out and reserve in a bowl.
4.  Add the remaining 2 tbspn oil with the excess oil. Add garlic and let it turn light brown. Add the bell peppers and the chicken. Give a good stir on high flame for  2- 3 minutes. Then add the sauce and the dry red chilies (See notes - #2). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more then add the peanuts. Cook for couple of minutes more. Then take it off the stove sprinkling the spring onions. Serve hot with rice / fried rice / noodles.
1. I didn't have ground Sichuan pepper. So what I did, I cut the dry red chilies in strips and added it.
2. Basically the recipe asks for tempering with the Dry Red chilies. I avoided it because of my kid. If your hot tolerance appreciates a good amount of chilies then go for it. Make sure to put your exhaust fan on high and keep your kids away from the kitchen while tempering the chilies.
3. #Tips : Don't cook the chicken for longer time otherwise it will kill the softness of the chicken and will make it hard and rubbery.