Sunday, March 29, 2009

Goan Escapades (Part 1) - Prawn Balchao

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My trip to Goa last month was my first there. Many find it hard to believe, especially after knowing that I spent 3 years in Mumbai and 2 years in Pune. The fact remains that there are so many great destinations short of goa along the Konkan coast that you just cannot reach goa. They hijack you with their charm and virgin beaches.
Apart from one of the best training interventions in the last few years, the trip to goa was a great culinary adventure. The hotel we stayed in, Park Hyatt Resort & Spa, is a fantastic property. The hotel beach is amazing and their food is lip smacking. I would though give their Italian restaurant a pass.
One of the restaurants that I made a beeline to almost everytime was Casa Sarita. It is named after Chef Sarita who heads the restaurant and literally translated means "House of Sarita". Chef Sarita is an amazing cook and has designed all the dishes on the menu. She has been featured on various food shows on NDTV, IBN and has even had Karen Anand take recipes from her (You can hear that in the video). What is even more interesting is to note that she is self taught and has not been to a cookery course or college. What came as a pleasant surprise was the fact that Casa Sarita has been featured in the Conde Nast Hot List Tables 2008 in Indian category. This annual list names the best in the global dining scene and this is one of the four Indan restaurants featured. One bite of the food and you wonder why not ...the food is great, the staff fantastic and the chef great.
Chef Sarita was extremely obliging in letting me record her while she cooked and let me post those signature dishes on this blog. This recipe for Prawn Balchao is the first one in the series. Since it was not a planned event, the videos have been recorded on various digicams available to the group that was along with me. I am still sourcing out various other videos containing recipes and pardon the noise in the background (you can hear my irritating voice trying to make small talk with chef Sarita) and me trying to capture every little nuance of this cuisine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ticking for these Tikki's

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Sticking to the theme of party snacks from my last post, this time I cater to the vegetarian crowd. Almost everytime, I put in so much effort planning on the meat and chicken part that the vegetarian folks tend to get missed out. They usually get the normal fare like paneer, potatoes and cauliflower for starters. Surprisingly there are so many options of giving the a new something, and it doesn't take too much time too.
Tikkis (Patties) are my favorite snack. The regular visit to the chaatwala are not complete without aloo tikki. This time however, I have totally avoided potatoes in this particular recipe and combined rice and yogurt. Summers are here, as I have been screaming every other post and what better than Yogurt.
Dahi Chawal Ki Tikki (Rice and Hung Curd Patties)


Rice, boiled - 100 gm
Yogurt, Hung - 75 gm
Red Chili Powder - 1 Tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) - 1 Tsp
Cumin, roasted and crushed - 1 Tsp
Green Chilli, finely chopped -2
Coriander, finely chopped - 2
Ginger, finely chopped - 1 Tsp
Salt - To Taste
Oil- For Frying

1. Add all masalas, ginger and green chillies to the boiled rice. Mix well.
2. Add hung yogurt to this and mix well again. Add seasoning and mix again.
3. Divide the mixture into equal portions and shape into patties.
4. Heat oil in a flat pan or tava. Fry patties till golden brown.
5. Take out on absorbent kitchen paper to drain excess oil.
6. Serve hot with mint chutney, onion rings and a slice of lemon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tangdi Kabab (Grilled Chicken Legs)

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The biggest worry one has while inviting people over is what to keep for snacks. It gets compounded when the invitees are foodies or have been over many a time at your place. having a relatively smaller friend circle I face this dilema many a times. So much so that, my wife and kids enjoy seeing me staring at a chicken (one of the things) wondering what to do with it.

A few weeks back was a classic example. I had two of my friends coming over. One of them has just come back from Hong Kong where he was the executive chef of a successful Indian Restaurant, and the other who used to be a chef with the Taj Group and is still in the food industry. I knew it was going to be difficult to please the guys.

And then it struck me ...Tandoori Chicken Legs !!! The fastest mover in snacks and the easiest to make ( not too easy...underdone and it is a bloody affair ... literally). The photos do not do justice as I hardly had time to click any ...they just flew from the grill :)

Tangdi Kabab


Chicken legs (Tangdi) - 10
Ginger Garlic Paste - 4 Tsp
Gramflour (Besan), roasted - 1 Tblsp
Onion Paste - 4 Tblsp
Amchoor - 2 Tsp
Black Cumin Seeds (Shah Zeera) - 1 Tsp
Mustard Seeds (Rai), powdered - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder (Haldi) - 1 Tsp
Red Chili Powder - 2 Tsp
Coriander Powder (Dhania Powder) - 1 Tsp
Kasoori Methi - 1 Tsp
Vinegar - 2 Tbslp
Cream - 1/2 Cup
Yogurt - 4 Tblsp
Salt - To taste
Oil - For Basting

1. Wash & Clean the Chicken Legs. Make two cuts (1 inch wide) on each leg.
2. Mix all the other ingredients except oil. Marinate the chicken legs in this mixture.
3. Keep the marinated chicken aside for 5 hours in a cool place.
4. Heat the grill.
5. Place the chicken legs on the hot grill and cook turning over and basting with oil atleast 3-4 times.
6. Serve hot with onion rings and mint chutney.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bisi Bele Huli Anna - The all-in-one meal

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In recent times (last 4 months), this is the fastest that I have followed up on my posts. It is by no way an indication of me getting any spare time from work and other engagements. It is in fact far from it. If I told you sometime back that I was busy, I lied. Busy is what I am now, and going by the way things look, I'll probably make another similar statement in the next few months.

Coming to this post, Bisi Bele Bhat or Bisi Bele Huli Anna (as is called in Kannada) is the unrivaled king (or gender on food is muddled) of all Kannada dishes. Literal translation of this name means "hot rice cooked in sauce". It started out as a royal invention in the palace of Mysore and after finding its way out of the royal walls, it found its way into the stomachs and hearts of the common man or say the farmer. Its a complete meal in itself and with the addition of vegetables (and dry fruits) also very nutritious. Different versions of this dish exist, but most homes prefer to make the instant version by adding the MTR mix or Priya mix that you find easily in the supermarket. They are pretty close to the real thing and I like their taste too. Though as you can see from the pictures I do not make it too watery.


Tur Dal (Red Gram Lentil) - 1/2 Cup
Rice - 1.5 Cup
Shallots, peeled & diced - 8
Tamarind - Size of a lime
Eggplants, small, diced, - 2
Carrot, diced - 1
Potatoes, diced - 2
Green Bell Pepper, diced - 1
Dried Red Chillies - 4
Fenugreek Seeds - 1 Tsp
Mustard Seeds - 2 Tsp
Corriander Seeds - 2 Tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) - A Pinch
Curry Leaves - 6
Cashewnuts - 20 gms
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon- 1 Small Piece
Cardamom - 4
Aniseed - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 Tsp
Poppy Seeds - 1 Tsp
Coconut, grated- 2 Tblsp
Sambar Powder - 2 Tsp
Gingelly Oil - For frying
Salt - To Taste
Ghee - 2 Tsp

1. Par boil carrots and potatoes. Soak tamarind for 20 minutes in warm water.
2. Half cook tur dal and rice together.
3. Grind together slightly roasted Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Aniseed, poppy seeds, coriander seeds & grated coconut with a little water. Keep this masala aside.
4. In a large wok add gingelly oil. When it is hot, add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Add the red chillies, curry leaves and hing.
5. Now add shallots. Once shallots become transparent, add egg plants and green peppers.
6. Add turmeric powder, salt, ground masala paste and sambar powder when the peppers become slightly soft.
7. Now add the tamarind water and the carrots and potatoes.
8. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the tur dal and rice.
9. Add a little water and keep stirring to avoid it from sticking to the bottom.
10. Once cooked you can add cashewnuts fried in ghee.
11. Serve hot.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Murg Dahi Dhania Korma

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The summers are here ...the summers are here !!! Its getting so bloody hot, that I fear to think how May and June is going to be. Summers in Delhi and most of India are bad,in a way, that you burn in the heat or get steamed. You lose your appetite for eating, especially those rich foods prepared. It is essential we go with having a lot of food prepared with cool ingredients. Ingredients that cool you rather than make you hot. Yogurt is one such thing. I have loved to use yogurt in my cooking and try out stuff with it. The below mentioned recipe is one such thing. Go easy on the spices and it is a refreshing dish.

Murg Dahi Dhania Korma

Chicken, boneless,cut into dices - 500 gm
Yogurt - 500 gm
Coriander Seeds - 3 Tsp
Onions, sliced - 3
Green Chillies, chopped - 1
Fresh Ginger, chopped - 2 Tblsp
Coriander Powder - 2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Red Chili Powder - 2 Tsp
Fresh Coriander, chopped - 20 gm
Cashewnut paste - 100 gm
Ginger Paste - 2 Tbslp
Garlic Paste - 4 Tblsp
Salt - To Taste
Oil - 200 ml

1. Marinate Chicken with salt, ginger paste, garlic paste & 4 Tblsp of yogurt.
2. Heat oil in a wok. Saute chicken till almost done. Keep aside.
3. Heat the same oil again. Add coriander seeds, sliced onions, freshly chopped ginger and green chillies. Saute.
4. Add in the coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, chopped coriander and remaining yogurt. Cook for 1 minute and cool.
5. Blend the mixture till smooth.
6. Heat oil in same wok and add this blended mixture back alongwith cashew paste, chicken and remaining marinade. Mix & Cook well.
7. Adjust the seasoning and cook till the gravy starts to bubble. Do not let it boil.
8 Serve hot.

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