Category Archives: Food

Absinthe, a Tale of the Green Fairy!!

By Antara Roy

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Let’s start this post with a quirky food fact…Did you know a certain green fairy (read as absinthe) was banned for a century after a European Highness decided that crime evolved from this bottle of alcohol!!! Arguably the most delusional drinking spirit, it came back into productions only in 90s, and see, how our world decided to break free.

But drinking this spirit is a bit of a science in itself, I admit. Absinthe is one the most alcoholic distilled spirit found in the world, with a total alcoholic volume of 65% to 75%.  And so having it the right way is most crucial and important. It cannot be treated as a shot of tequila. Because of the simple reason, that it isn’t tequila. It is not a drink for a round of “bottoms-up” in a party!! Moreover it should never be consumed like that. Take your time to make it right. It’s an expensive bottle with a delicate flavour which has to be savoured, rather than gulped down the throat! In this post, I have mentioned a way I tend to use this green magic, which is quite appealing to our Indian taste and never-ever, will propel your minds criminally!!

Absinthe portrays a strong flavour of fennel (saunf), something that we Indians don’t consider a cocktail flavour. Our tastes compel us to associate fennel with mouth fresheners. After a hearty Indian meal, that paan walla’s paan (betel leaf laden with a sweet cocktail of fennel seeds, betel nuts and sweetened dry fruits) is what we grab out for. So for me, my first thought while having absinthe was, Paan!! And so I introduced my friends to an after meal liqueur, which is just about right for our matured, yet hearty Indian Tastes!!!

So if you are having a cocktail party, indulge your guests to a small helping of absinthe to end the party. Making a perfect glass of the green fairy is laborious, never-the-less very satisfying. One helping is good enough for 6 shot glasses and tends to be a well deserved end to a beautiful meal, the Indian way!!

Ingredients:

  • 30 ml absinthe
  • Ice (optional)
  • Cold water
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Absinthe strainer, comes with the bottle
  • 6 chilled shot glasses
  • 1 tall water tumbler

Method:

The first step is to make the apparatus required. Assemble the absinthe strainer and the sugar cube on tall water tumbler as shown here.

IMG_0011-004 Now pour in 30 ml of absinthe, passing it through the sugar cube.

IMG_0003-001 Slowly drip in cold water (drop-by-drop), and let it slowly dissolve in the sugar cube.

IMG_0005-001 Once the sugar dissolves in, adjust water to suit your taste. Remember, it is at least 60 % alcohol, so filling up the glass with a bit more water will be a good idea.

IMG_0016 Divide it equally between half a dozen shot glasses and enjoy!!

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For any further clarification, feel free to write in. Cheers!!

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Spicy Crab Curry – True Indian Style

By Tahira

crabs-11 Seafood, considered a delicacy worldwide has to be included in my diet especially during winters. Though I have never tried having the squeaky octopus (which I want to, of course), edibles, like pomfrets, squids, snails, crabs have never missed my culinary palette.

Last winter, I went home to spend Christmas with my family. Holidays make me crave for more such delicacies. This time I was determined to have crabs. Winters are the best time to have these crustaceans as they are full of meat – juicy and succulent. So, without wasting one Saturday morning I rushed to the local fish market and bought 1 kilo crabs (yes you can buy crabs from a fish market.

Cleaning these crustaceans can be a daunting task if you are doing it for the first time. Nonetheless, after achieving the feat I finally ended up concocting this seafood delicacy in the kitchen. Here’s the recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

Crab-Curry-IndianIngredients

  • 6 nos big size crabs
  • ¼ cup ginger-garlic paste
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • ¼ cup curd
  • ¼ cup onion paste
  • few whole garam masala
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp whole jeera
  • 4 nos bay leaf
  • Salt according to taste
  • ½ cup fresh coriander chop
  • ½ cup oil

Method

Wash and clean crabs thoroughly. Boil them in a heavy bottomed pan and keep aside. Heat cooking oil in a pan. Now put whole jeera, bay leaf and whole garam masala. Also, put all other masalas and fry it for few minutes until oil removes from pan. Now put crab and mix with all masalas. Add water and allow it to boil. Keep it covered for 10 minutes on a slow flame.

Garnish it with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Culinary Histories – The Seafood

By Tahira

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The culinary enthusiast that I am, my life almost revolves around food. Even if I am not concocting up yet another delicacy in the kitchen, I either end up reading recipes or books on the history of food. Since I am a hard-core non-vegetarian, nothing really misses out from my platter. So this time, I thought of indulging in some research work about Seafood (I love crabs by the way). The resultant effect is this ‘juicy’ post on seafood.

Any form of sea life that is regarded as food by humankind is termed as Seafood. Seafood mainly comprises shellfish and fish. Shellfish on the other hand includes the sub-categories of molluscs, echinoderms and crustaceans. Certain sea mammals such as dolphins and whales have also been consumed; but consumption of such meats is rarely prevalent in present times. On the other hand, certain edible sea plants, such as micro algae and seaweed are widely consumed all across the world. The cultivation and farming of seafood is known as mariculture or acquaculture or sometimes simply fish farming. From the dietary and nutritional point of view, seafood is a rich source of protein.

Seafood in the Ancient Era

dreamstime_7335859Archaeological studies have found that the harvesting and consumption of seafood can be traced back to the Palaeolithic Age. Going forward a little, cultivation and extensive consumption of sea food was extremely prevalent among the ancient Egyptians. This is not where it ends; from Japan in the Far East to Israel in Middle East to the north Americas – fishing has had its history since a long-long time.

seafood 1Evidences show that seafood was not only consumed in ancient Greece or Rome, but fishing was in vogue. Though, fishing as an activity or practice was considered somewhat lowly among the ancient Greeks, nonetheless consumption of seafood was definitely prevalent. Types of sea fishes, like anchovies and sardines were commonly sold in the market of Athens.

On the other hand, fish trade was a common activity in Israel. Merchants were actively involved in the import and export of fish across boundaries with Jerusalem as the hub. Fish and seafood trade was so prevalent, that one of the gates of Jerusalem was called Fish Gate.

Seafood and the Far East
In the Far East, China scores over its neighbour Japan over fish cultivation and trading. Acquaculture in China can be traced back to 3500 BC with the extensive farming of the common carp. Live fish trade was encourages by the Chinese emperors during the 1300s AD.

seafood 2Japan, on the other hand, started with fish trading much later only until the 8th century. Fish was mainly consumed along with rice. Fish was usually salted and then wrapped in fermented rice. This practice later gave birth to the delicacy known as sushi today. By the early 1800s food stalls selling sushi became quite popular in Tokyo.

Today, seafood is considered a delicacy and it available is most parts of the world, especially coastal regions and islands. Culinary enthusiasts can enjoy anything – from Octopus to Crabs – from Squids to Oysters.  Bon Appetite!

 

Simple Grilled Pomfret

By Tahira

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Bengalis love fish. True. So being a true blue bong, there was no reason as to why should I not drool over this aquatic creature. I love all kinds of fish – be it the royal hilsa, or the humble rui or pomfret – direct from the sea. Back home for my holidays (that stretched for nearly 3 months) I would often concoct up fishy delicacies in the kitchen.

Most of the time, I cooked pomfret. One of my favourites. So, just thought of sharing the recipe of this delicacy with my readers. Its simple, easy and definitely lip-smacking.

pomfret 2Ingredients

  • ŸPomfret – 2 medium-sized
  • ŸGinger paste
  • ŸGarlic paste
  • ŸRed chilli powder
  • ŸTurmeric
  • ŸYogurt
  • ŸLemon juice
  • ŸSalt to taste
  • ŸCooking oil 1 tablespoon

Method

Wash and pat dry the fish. Make deep slits on each side. Rub lemon juice and ginger-garlic paste on the fish and keep aside for at least minutes. In a bowl make a smooth paste with yogurt, turmeric, red chilli powder, oil and some salt. Apply this paste evenly over the fish. Marinate it for at least two hours. Pre-heat oven and place the marinated fish. Cook for around 20 minutes at 180 degrees. You may apply some butter for basting while cooking. Serve hot with onion slices and lemon wedges.

Masor Tenga – Assameese Fish Curry

By Tahira

masor tenga

Being born and brought up in Bengal, my interaction with the other Indian communities had been quite limited. However, once I shifted to Delhi, my first roommates were an Assameese and a Punjabi. That was my first major stint with communities belonging to other parts of India. I was quite perplexed and excited at the same time. Wondering how would I gel with them and also looking forward to a newly learning experience – getting to know people from various cultures and regions.

So, it was from Sanchayita (S) that I got to know a lot about not only Assameese culture but also their food habits. Being a hardcore non-vegetarian she enjoyed almost every delicacy – from fish to chicken – and from pork to pigeons. Every time I wanted to have  non-veg she would be my partner-in-crime (the PG accommodation offered vegan food). So, one fine day she took me to Mukherjee Nagar where I tasted Assameese cuisine for the first time. Geographical closeness definitely has its impact on the cuisine. It reminded of my home especially the tangy taste of Masor Tenga.

Since then I have tasted many a dish peculiar to the north-eastern part of our country. But, the simple tangy Masor Tenga score above all.  This post is definitely dedicated to S and my other friends from Assam

PS: Natives from Assam, you may put in your signature touch to this recipe as most of it have been collected from memory.

Here’s the recipe.

rohuIngredients

  • Fish (rohu/carp) 500 grams cut into medium-sized pieces
  • ŸTomatoes 2 large, sliced
  • ŸMustard seeds, a handful
  • ŸGreen Chillies, 2-3 slit lengthwise
  • ŸLemon (juice of half or 1 full lemon)
  • ŸTurmeric
  • ŸSalt to taste
  • ŸMustard Oil, 4 tablespoons

Method

Marinate fish pieces with salt and turmeric for at least 30 minutes. In a wok heat 3 tablespoons of mustard oil and fry the marinated pieces. Keep aside. In the same wok, add the rest of the oil and throw in the mustard seeds. Once they began to splutter, add green chillies and the tomatoes. Stir for two-three minutes and then sprinkle some salt. Adding salt after the tomatoes will help the tomatoes to become tender thus enabling you to make a pulp. Add turmeric, stir for a minute and then add some water. You can add some salt at this stage depending upon your taste. Keep stirring for a few minutes and then add the pieces of fried fish. Cook for some time on low flame. Drizzle the required amount of lemon juice (depends how tangy you want it to be), bring to a boil.

The gravy should be a runny curry or jool as Assameese call it. So make sure the quantity of water you add. Remove from gas. Serve hot with boiled rice.

Simple Home-Cooked Garlic Chicken

By Tahira

garlic chicken

I love garlic. I love Chicken. So, this time I thought why not make a delectable delicacy out of the two.

A friend of mine had just shifted base to NCR after spending a decade in the Silicon Valley of India (Bangalore). Somewhat morose and trying to adjust to the idiosyncrasies of the Jat Land (Gurgaon), Amrita would often call me up. So, one fine day I just dropped in at her place impromptu to give her a surprise.

Well, indeed she was. We both ended up chatting for long when suddenly she came up with the idea, “ lets concoct up something in my kitchen.” So instead of placing an order for lunch, we immediately donned the chef’s hat. Amrita’s kitchen had almost everything. So, we dint have to worry much to make Garlic Chicken along with soy bean rice.

I must say that we enjoyed the sumptuous lunch of Garlic Chicken and Soybean Rice accompanied by some red wine. Yes, though the latter part may sound a little westernized for Indian homes, nonetheless, since we both are gourmets, it goes without saying that the wine goblets exuded the essence of the entire activity – the grand lunch that we had. Here’s the recipe.

garlic 1Ingredients

  • ŸChicken 500 grams
  • ŸGarlic  15-17 cloves
  • ŸGinger  grated, 1 tea spoon
  • ŸGreen Chillies 2-3 (you can add more if you want)
  • ŸJulienned Onion 1 large
  • ŸYogurt ¼ cup
  • ŸLemon Juice 1 teaspoon
  • ŸWhole cloves 6-8
  • ŸWhole Cardamoms 5-7
  • ŸPinch of turmeric (optional)
  • ŸOlive Oil 3 tablespoons
  • ŸSalt to Taste

Method

Make a paste with ginger, 10 cloves of garlic, lemon juice, yogurt and a pinch of salt. Marinate the chicken in this paste for at least four hours. Now take a heavy-bottomed pan and heat olive oil in it. Keep the flame low. Smash the remaining garlic pods and throw in the oil along with cloves and cardamoms. Sauté for a few minutes. Believe me the aroma released from the spices were absolutely to die for.

Now add the onions and fry till they become translucent. Add the marinated chicken along with cloves and cardamoms and turmeric. Sprinkle some salt according to your taste. Add a little water and cover with a lid. Cook slowly on a low flame while stirring constantly for around 20 minutes. Remove from stove, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.

GO Cheese Bites

Antara Roy introduces a new style of bread making, which is simple, quick as well as tasty! Read on.

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Recently I got a flurry of requests to bake breads. While the health conscious non-kitchen folk wanted me to supply them steadily with home baked, 100% whole wheat bread, the kitchen-loving folk wanted to learn how to make these at home!! While all its frenzy lasts, I thought to introduce my readers to a completely new kind of bread making, which is fast, simple and delicious. This kind of baked bread uses baking powder instead of the traditional yeast and still, tastes and feels completely alike! This is my version of soda bread which is quite flavourful and rich, thanks to the incredible Go cheese (Gouda).

Go cheese is the closest I have got to a proper imported cheese, in Indian markets. Though I am eagerly waiting for them to start a range of hard cheese, in the likes of Parmigiano Reggiano, but the assortment of soft cheese (Montery Jack, Cheddar mild & strong, Gouda) that they offer now, are incredibly tasty and wholesome. Please readers and fellow bloggers, stop buying the synthetically made, chemically laden processed cheese, and go towards these healthier alternate options. These have a more wholesome flavour of dairy and are best to cook with as pizza topping, on toast, on lasagne, in white sauce and the list goes on…

I used Gouda for this recipe but feel free to try the same recipe in the flavour of cheese u like to eat. Let me know in a comment below how it turned out to be!!

IMG_4328Ingredients:

  • 2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated Go cheese Gouda
  • Dried Oregano to taste
  • Dried Parsley to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • Couple tbsp water (as per need)

For topping after 15 minutes of cooking:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp fresh garlic paste
  • Dried Oregano to taste
  • More cheese to top (optional)

Method

Mix all dry ingredients (first 6 in the list) together with the flour and whisk vigorously to combine evenly.

Now pour in the oil & milk and incorporate it well with the help of a spatula or spoon. The batter should resemble a cake batter and should be dropping easily from a spoon. If your batter is thick, add a few tbsp of extra water and mix it well to incorporate evenly.

Spread the batter evenly in a loaf tin and bake it for 15 minutes at 200 to 220 degrees c, preheated oven. 15 minutes is enough for the bread to rise and form a light brown crust on top, but not to cook these cheese bites fully.

While the bread is cooking, melt the butter, and whisk in the spices and garlic to combine. Let the flavours rest in the hot butter for a while.

After 15 minutes remove the pan from the oven and generously spread on the Butter and spice mixture on top of the light brown crust. Be as fast as possible so that the bread doesn’t flop down loose the puff it gained in the past 15 minutes.  Put it back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the crust is nicely browned!!

These are delicious hot out of oven. If you have a party to cater for, then bake it in the night and reheat it once before serving. Its soft supple texture is great and it can be paired with a nice dollop of garlic aoli, cheese spread or simply mayonnaise. The stale pieces can be packed and stored in refrigerator for days and toasted in the morning for a delicious breakfast treat. It’s such wonderfully adaptable dish, made the express way!!

Cheers!!

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