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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

We started the year with a resolution of eating well and eating at home. No compromise on the taste but reduce eating out. I also wanted to expose our little one to our traditional cuisine thousands of miles away from home. To show her that food is not just Pizza and Pasta and that you actually cook food and not just heat stuff taken out of a cardboard box.

Looking back I think we have more than succeeded. It has been a fun journey as well. Some of my greatest hits are listed below.

My Favorite

  1. Ghee Bhat
  2. Mutton Rezala
  3. Mircha Gosht (Mutton with Green Chilies)
  4. Kolkata Mutton Biriyani (Biryani)
  5. Shukto
  6. Kung Pao Lobster
  7. Mutton Stew
  8. Peas or Koraishutir Kochuri

My families favorite

  1. Kolkata Chili Chicken
  2. Nolen Gurer Sandesh With Ricotta Cheese
  3. Labanga Latika (Lavang Latika)
  4. Purir Goja
  5. Chicken Chaap
  6. Ilisher (Hilsa) Patla Jhol
  7. Chicken Roll
  8. Brownie

Most Visited

  1. Apollo Fish
  2. Note Saager Charchari
  3. Mircha Gosht
  4. Eggcellent Toast
  5. Kolkata Mutton Biriyani

Wishing you all Happy and Healthy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kolkata Chili Chicken


There is a strong Chinese immigrant community in Kolkata. A lot of the so called indo-Chinese food available in India like Hakka Noodles, Chicken Manchurian, Chicken Schezwan were actually brought in by them many generations back and then customized for local palate. These food then slowly spread across India. The Tangra region in Kolkata is filled with Chinese restaurants serving these delicacies.

Kolkata Chili Chicken is one of those dishes. You find them being served in 5 star restaurants to roadside shacks. I first had it in a ship docked at the Kolkata port. The ships chef cooked it for the visiting guests of my brother-in-law who worked in the ship. After that I had chili chicken maybe a thousand times, but each time I am reminded of that great evening in that ship Viswa Ava.


  1. Marinade
    1. 1 lb. boneless chicken cut into strips ( I used boneless thigh pieces)
    2. 1 tsp. ginger paste
    3. 1 tsp. garlic paste
    4. 1 egg
    5. 1 tbsp Dark soya sauce
    6. 1 tbsp green chili sauce
    7. 1 tbsp corn starch
    8. Salt to taste
  2. 10 cloves of garlic minced
  3. 1 medium sized red onion sliced
  4. 1 green bell pepper sliced
  5. 5, 6 green chilies
  6. Few spring onions chopped
  7. 1 tbsp green chili sauce
  8. 1 tbsp dark soya sauce
  9. 2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in half cup water
  10. 1/2 tbsp crushed black pepper corn
  11. Salt to taste
  12. Canola / sunflower oil


Mix all ingredients under the marinade list above and marinate the chicken in refrigerator for 30 mins.

In a wok heat enough oil and deep fry the marinated chicken pieces till they are done and crispy.


In a separate wok heat 2 tbsp. of oil and add chopped garlic; sauté for a while. Add onion and bell pepper slices to it. You’d want the onions and green bell pepper crispy and hence fry them on high heat for a minute.


Add dark soya sauce and green chili sauce. Add about 3-4 tbsp of corn starch mixture to it. Soon it will start bubbling, then add the fried chicken pieces. Toss them well so that all the chicken pieces are nicely coated with the sauce mixture. 

Add chopped green chilies and freshly crushed black pepper powder to it. Check the seasoning and adjust it. I like to add a pinch of sugar at this point. Mix everything well and finish it by sprinkling some chopped spring onions.


I love my chili chicken with hot phulkas. You can serve with fried rice, chowmein or paranthas as well. Or like my husband wash it down with some great single-malt scotch.


Nolen Gurer Sondesh/Sandesh With Ricotta Cheese


My food scout came back and reported to me of his finding of some great home made Sondesh at his office. It was made by his colleague’s husband Somnath and he apparently used Ricotta cheese instead of chhena. It made a lot of sense to me because Ricotta is very much like chhena with the added advantage that you don’t have to work hard to get all the water out of chhena while making sandesh (a process call jaak).

So I sent my scout back to get the recipe, which he did. I cycled through the process couple of times and here is my adaptation of that recipe.


  1. 4 cups ricotta cheese
  2. 2 cups heavy cream
  3. 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  4. Sugar ( quantity depends according to your sweet tooth)
  5. 6 tbsp. of notun guur (date palm jaggery)
  6. 1 tsp. cardamom powder
  7. Ghee (clarified butter). Optional


IMG_0201In a mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients other than jaggery and cardamom powder. Mix them really well to make a smooth batter.

Microwave it for about 6 mins, stirring once or twice in between. Then transfer the batter to a nonstick pan and stir till the mixture thickens to the consistency shown in the photograph. The mixture will not stick to the bottom of the pan instead it will form a lump together.

Sprinkle cardamom powder and add jaggery to it. Cook on very low flame for one more min. This intermediate form is called Makha Sondesh and is sold as it is. You might want to keep some of it aside and claim you made two types of sondesh.

Allow it to cool down a little so that you can touch it. If you have a mould then grease it with ghee (clarified butter) now. Take a small portion of the mixture and press it down on the mould with a wet hand, smooth the edges and carefully take it out. If you don't want to use moulds, you can use your hands and fingers to shape them as you like. I used the stone mould which my grandma passed down to me (in the picture below).


Let the sondesh to cool down. They will harden once cooled.IMG_0217

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prawn pasta with mushroom sauce


In my birthday my husband took us to an Italian restaurant. We had some very nice prawn pasta there. The pasta had a ton of cheese and other forms of grease in it. Our daughter loved it so much that she keeps on asking us to go back. As an healthier alternative I made this lighter version of the same pasta. Tastes as good but is better for you :)


  1. Half packet bow tie pasta
  2. 10 - 15 medium sized prawns ( peeled and deveined )
  3. 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella which I had,  parmesan or romano works best)
  4. 1 tbsp. oil
  5. For Sauce
    1. 1 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
    2. 1 tbsp butter
    3. 1 tbsp all purpose flour
    4. 1 medium sized onion finely chopped
    5. 2 cloves garlic minced
    6. 2 cups of milk
    7. Salt
    8. Pepper


Wash prawns and pat them dry. Smear with  little salt and keep for about 15 mins.

Heat oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the prawns over medium heat till they are cooked. Remove and keep them aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile in a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and onion and sauté for a while. Add mushroom and cook for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Sprinkle flour over it and fry on medium heat for 30 secs. Add milk and heat almost to boiling while stirring continuously to  avoid the formation of lumps. Milk will start thickening and reach a sauce like consistency by this time. Season with salt and pepper. Add prawns and heat through; toss with hot pasta and cheese.

Transfer the contents in a baking dish. Sprinkle some grated cheese over it. I kept some fried prawns for garnishing which I arranged over it. Bake in a preheat oven for 10 mins at 350F.




Monday, December 26, 2011

Labanga Latika (Lavang Latika)


Bongs are known across India (and outside) for their sweets. While the most exported is Rosogolla and Sondesh, we make other excellent sweets as well. Labanga Latika is one of those. Generally made after Durga puja for celebrating Bijoya Dasami where folks visit the house of neighbors and family to seek blessings from the elders. The elders (generally grandmas) greet them with sweet dish, which often includes Labanga Latika.

Labanga Latika gets its name from Labanga or clove. It’s crispy and has a stuffing of grated coconut. It’s not that hard to make either.


  1. 8 cloves
  2. Oil for deep frying
  3. For Dough
    1. 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
    2. 2 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
    3. 1 pinch salt
    4. 1 pinch sugar
  4. For Stuffing
    1. 4 tbsp. grated coconut
    2. 6 tbsp milk powder
    3. 10 raisins
    4. Half cup sugar
    5. 1 tsp. cardamom powder
  5. For Syrup
  6. 1 1/2 cup sugar
  7. 1 cup water


In a mixing bowl take together flour, ghee, salt and sugar and  using your finger tips mix them till the flour takes the texture of bread crumb. Now slowly add warm water and knead well to form a stiff dough. Keep it covered for half an hour. Knead once more and make around eight ping - pong size balls.

In a microwave safe bowl mix all ingredients listed under stuffing and cook in microwave for about 4-6 mins stirring intermittently. Allow it to cool and divide into eight portions.


In a pan take water and sugar and boil it on medium heat till the sugar completely dissolves and the syrup reaches medium consistency. Remove from heat and keep it warm. The consistency is important. When the sugar solidifies later on the labanga latika it should give it a glossy finish and not a caked white finish.


Now lets start making labanga latika

Take each ball made out of Maida and roll them out into a  small puri like disc. Put one portion of stuffing at the centre. Now take two ends of puri and cover the stuffing by overlapping each other at the centre. Turn it on the other side. Take the two ends and  bring them together at the centre by overlapping each other. Steps shown in the photograph.

Now this will look like a envelope. Secure each envelope by inserting 1 clove into the center.

Deep fry each envelope on medium high heat till both the sides turn golden brown. Drain the excess oil on a paper towel and dip them in sugar syrup. Take it out when the next batch of fried latikas are ready.


Serve hot or cold.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ghee bhat or Bengali Mishti Pulao


2006_1030_183117My dad has 11 brothers and 2 sisters. So along with them, their cousins and family we have a very large extended family. Every year most of this extended family from around the globe descends in Santipur to celebrate Jagadhatri puja in our ancestral home.

In this puja my mom used to make this Pualo as bhog (to be served in the puja). She didn’t have the strength to cook for all the hundred people in the house and she just made enough for the puja itself (with around 2KG of rice). After puja she used to get requests to make the pualo again for the close relatives.

This pulao needs Gobindobhog rice which I started getting at the local Bangladeshi store. If you can't get it, you can use Basmati rice. Typical Bengali pulao is on the sweeter side, so intentionally sugar is used more than the salt.


  1. 500 gm. Gobindobhog / kalajeera rice / Basmati rice
  2. 100 gm Ghee (clarified butter)
  3. Half cup green peas
  4. 1 tbsp. Bengali garam masala powder (Make your own)
  5. 5,6 green chilies
  6. 3,4 tejpatta (bay leaves)
  7. 1/2" ginger grated
  8. 1 tbsp. salt
  9. 4 tbsp sugar
  10. Turmeric powder
  11. Handful of cashew and raisins
  12. 1,2 small pieces of cinnamon
  13. 2,3 green cardamom
  14. 4,5 cloves


Wash rice and drain it. In a flat dish take the washed rice and add turmeric powder, garam masala powder, grated ginger, green chilies, salt and sugar to it. Mix all these ingredients well with rice and allow it to dry in open air for an hour. By this time the excess water attached to the grains of rice will evaporate.

In a pan, heat ghee and add tejpatta, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. The moment the nice aroma of garam masala starts coming out, add cashew and raisins and fry them on low heat till they are light golden brown.

Add the rice mixture to the pan and fry on low heat for about 5-7 mins. By this time all grains of rice will be separated and coated by ghee.Throw some green peas into it.


The rest of the cooking can be done either in a pressure cooker or in a saucepan.

In A Pressure Cooker

Transfer the fried rice mixture into a pressure cooker and add 750 ml of water to it. Bring it to a boil on high heat. Once it starts boiling close the pressure cooker lid and cook till you hear the hissing sound (note: note the whistle, just the hissing sound of pressure being built up). Turn off the heat and wait till the pressure releases on its own. Open the pressure cooker and transfer the contents immediately on a flat serving dish.

In A Saucepan

In a saucepan take 1 lit of water and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling add the fried rice mixture to it and cook it covered on medium heat till rice is done. Fluff it with a fork. 

Pulao goes very well with chicken or mutton korma.


Saturday, December 24, 2011



Traditionally everyday Bengali meal comprises of five to six courses. In contrast to other parts of India we just don’t manage on Roti and a sabji. Every meal is a kings dawat :). The meal starts off with something bitter like Neem begun, shukto, ucche alu bhate followed by dal (lentil soup), fries, fish curry, chutney and sweets. The first bitter course is supposed to cleanse your system and reset the taste buds to receive the tasty food that follows.

Of these Shukto is really hard to make and has taken a permanent position in the lunch menu of most Bengali functions. Once I was told by a professional cook that the aroma of Biyebarir (Wedding lunch) shukto predominantly comes from Radhuni.

Radhuni is a dried fruit and is a first cousin of Ajwain (carom seed). Radhuni is rarely available outside Bengal. I used to get it during my yearly Kolkata visits. In US, I make Shukto without radhuni. Some folks suggest to use wild celery seeds instead of Radhuni. But they are really different things and I don’t use it.


  1. 1 bitter gourd (Karela) cut into thin slices
  2. 2 plantain (kacha kola) cut into medium sized wedges
  3. 2 eggplants cut into wedges (skin removed and then cut)
  4. 2 drumsticks cut into 1.5" pieces .( I used frozen precut drumsticks.)
  5. Few sheem (flat beans)
  6. Few sundried lentil dumplings (bori)
  7. 1 cup of milk
  8. Salt
  9. Sugar
  10. Mustard oil
  11. Make a fine paste of the following ingredients
    1. 1" Ginger
    2. 1 tsp. Fennel seeds
    3. 1 tsp. Mustard seeds
    4. 1 tsp. Poppy seeds
  12. For Tempering
    1. 1 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
    2. Dry roast and coarse grind the following spices. I make in a little larger quantity and keep in a air tight container for further use.
      1. 1 tbsp. paanch phoron
      2. 1 tbsp. mustard seeds



Heat oil in a wok (kadai) and fry Bori till they are brown. Remove from oil and drain it. Add the karela slices to the oil and fry till they are crispy. Remove and drain it on a paper towel. Discard the oil.

Heat oil in a kadai and add plantain (kacha kola), egg plants and flat beans to it. Sauté for a while. Now add 2 cups of water to it and bring it to a boil. **Once it starts boiling add drumstick pieces. Season with salt and sugar. Cook it covered on medium heat till the vegetables are just done and the water thickens.

Add 1 cup of milk followed by the fried bori and the spice paste you made before. Mix it well and check the seasoning. Now cook it for another 3-4 mins till the gravy reaches your desired consistency. Add the fried karela pieces and keep this aside.


In a separate pan heat ghee on medium heat and temper with the dry roasted ground spices. Once they start to splutter, pour on to the vegetables.

Serve with hot rice.

**Note: Drumsticks generally disintegrate if you add them before the water boils.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mete Chorchori (Liver Curry)

IMG_9925Liver (especially goat liver) is a common health food given in Bengal for people with depleted red blood count (e.g. anemia). Since I am going through a blood disorder, I cooked this for myself.


  1. image500gm liver cut into cubes as shown in the photograph
  2. 2 medium sized potato cut into cubes
  3. 1 large onion finely chopped
  4. 1 medium tomato coarsely chopped
  5. 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  6. 1 tsp. garlic paste
  7. 2,3 bay leaves / tej-patta
  8. Turmeric powder
  9. 1tsp. chili powder
  10. 1tsp. garam masala powder (as shown here)
  11. Few green chilies


Heat oil in a pan. Fry the potato cubes till they turn golden brown and remove. Now temper the oil with bay leaf and add chopped onions. Fry till the edges become brown.

Now throw the liver cubes in it and fry them along with the onion on high heat for a minute or two. Once the liver changes its color into dark brown lower the heat and add tomato, ginger garlic paste followed by turmeric and chili powder. 

Now add fried potato cubes and keep frying it all together. If you see the spices are getting stuck to the bottom of your pan, drizzle some water over it.  Add salt and a little sugar to it. Give a nice mix. Add green chilies now. Cook it covered till liver and potatoes are done.

It should not take more than 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle garam masala powder and finish it off.

Serve with hot chapattis or phulkas. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baked Salmon with Spinach


Law of taste: Taste is inversely proportional to the health-value of a food.

They say exceptions prove a law, this is one of those exceptions. I frequently make this as dinner for my husband, who is striving hard to loose some extra pounds.

One of the benefits of living in Washington state is that we live in the Salmon capital of the world. The waters around Washington yields the freshest and tastiest salmon ensuring copious supply to our household.


  1. 1lb salmon fillet
  2. 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  3. 2-3 tbsp of mayonnaise (low-fat)
  4. 1 tsp. black pepper powder
  5. 2 tsp. lime juice
  6. Half cup of spinach leaves finely chopped
  7. Oil (preferably cooking spray to reduce usage of oil)
  8. 1 tbsp. olive oil
  9. Salt


Preheat the oven at 350F.

Wash the fish fillet and pat it dry.

In a mixing bowl add all other ingredients and mix  well. Take a baking dish coated with cooking spray (this further reduces fat). I use Pam cannola Spray.

Place the fish fillet on the tray, skin side down. Spread the mayonnaise and spinach mixture over it. Drizzle one spoon of olive oil and bake it for about 20-25 mins or till the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serving Tip: Today I baked thick slices of onion, yellow bell pepper and cabbage smeared with salt and black pepper powder along with the fish to serve as an accompaniment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mircha Gosht (Mutton with Green Chilies)

I had asked one of my college friends who was particularly known to be a foodie, what she liked to eat the most. She told me it was Mircha Gosht made by her mom. I was i ntrigued because I never even heard about this name. I ensured next time I met her mom, to get the recipe.
When I cooked it for the first time for my mom, she loved it. Then she turned it around and used to make it for me each time I asked her for a homemade treat.
I hope you’d enjoy it as well. It is not necessarily as spicy as it’s name sounds and it needs only one spoon of ghee to make.


  1. 2 lb. mutton (lamb/goat meat)
  2. 1 cup greek plain yogurt or hung curd (Strain plain curd in a muslin cloth for atleast 2 hrs to drain the whey) 
  3. 1 medium onion
  4. 2" ginger
  5. 5,6 cloves of garlic
  6. 16-20 green chilies
  7. 1 tbsp shah jeera (Caraway)
  8. A handful of almond blanched
  9. Salt
  10. Sugar
  11. 1 tbsp of ghee


Dry roast and grind shah jeera. Make a smooth paste of onion, ginger, garlic and half of the green chilies. Unlike most Indians my spice tolerance level is pretty low, so half the chilies I have used are moderately hot and the rest are really hot. You can choose to use only hot chilies.
Marinate the meat pieces with curd, half of the dry roasted shah jeera powder and the paste you have made along with salt and sugar. Let it rest for 4-5 hrs.
Transfer the marinated mutton along with its marinade into a heavy bottom pan or pressure cooker and cook it on medium low heat till the meat is just done. Yes, you are not using any oil in this process. 
If you are not using pressure cooker, cook it for about 45-50 mins on medium low heat.  By this time meat will be done and you will see a lot of water has been released. Add almond paste to it and allow it to cook on high flame and stir intermittently till most of the water evaporates and the meat pieces are well coated with all spices. Remove it from heat.
Heat ghee in a small pan and temper it with roasted shah-jeera powder and slit green chilies. Fry for a while on low heat and pour it over the cooked mutton. Keep it covered to incorporate the flavor of shah jeera and green chilies into the mutton.
You are all set to serve it with pulao or parantha.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chicken Chaap


Chaap along with Biriyani easily finds it’s place in the top 5 favorite foods of a lot of bongs. My husband counts it in his top 3, though he is more favorable to mutton chaap.

When we were dating in college, he first introduced me to chaap. Before that I’d only stare with mild horror at the sight of road side stalls with chickens simmering on hot tawas the whole day exposed to all the dirt. However, once I tasted it, there was no turning back. It became our favorite food when we went out. Our place of choice was Gariahat Bedwin. We used to go there so often they all knew us. Many years later when we were living in Bangalore my husband found another local bong restaurant, Lazeez in commercial street serving the same delicious chaap. Suddenly the waiter there recognized us, he was the waiter from Bedwin. He was happy to see us married and as expected Lazeez became our favorite joint.


  1. 1 kg chicken cut into four pieces. (you can cut into regular  big pieces)
  2. 1 cup hung curd or yogurt
  3. Juice of one lime
  4. 50 mg. ginger paste
  5. 50 mg. garlic paste
  6. 1 tbsp. mace/jawitri powder
  7. 2 tbsp black pepper powder
  8. 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder/ Paprika powder
  9. Turmeric
  10. Salt
  11. Sugar
  12. 2-3 tbsp of poppy seed paste (posto bata)


Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry. Now with a sharp knife score the chicken on both the sides. In a mixing bowl mix all ingredients other than oil and poppy seed paste to make the marinade. Mix them well with your hand and rub on both the sides of the chicken pieces.  Let it rest for overnight in the refrigerator. Take out the marinated chicken at least an hour before you start cooking to bring them to room temperature. IMG_9739 IMG_9742

In a frying pan heat oil. Now take out each chicken pieces shaking off its marinade and shallow fry till both the sides turn golden brown.

When you are done with frying add the marinade to the oil and allow the chicken pieces to get cooked inside it. Once the oil starts separating out from the spice mixture, add poppy seed paste and mix well.

Fry chicken pieces along with the poppy seed paste on medium low heat till the oil completely gets separated from the chicken. By this time the chicken pieces should be well coated with poppy seed paste.

Serve with hot biriyani or laccha parantha.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Note saager charchari (Vegetable Medley with Amaranth)

IMG_9041The other day I published the recipe of Amaranth (note saag নটে শাক) with Poppy seed ( I had some left over amaranth and made a vegetable medley with it ( পাঁচ মেশালি চর্চরী panch mesali chorchori).

I used to have this as a kid when I visited our ancestral home. My boro-pishi (dad’s elder sister) used to make it. She never cooked it without shrimps. She’d let note-saag rot and feed them to the cattle in the house but still not make it, if there were no shrimps in the house. However, today recipe I have is a variant without shrimps, feel free to add it.


  1. Note saag - 500gms(only leaves and soft stems need to be taken)
  2. Pumpkin – 100 gm।
  3. Potato - 1 medium sized
  4. Eggplant - 1 medium
  5. Green chilie 3,4
  6. Paanch phoron - 2 tsp.
  7. Turmeric powder - 1 tsp.
  8. Coriander powder - 1 tsp.
  9. Cumin powder - 1 tsp.
  10. Dry red chilies – 2-3
  11. Garlic - 2,3 cloves crushed
  12. Salt
  13. Sugar



IMG_9079Heat oil in a wok and temper it with paanch phoron, dry red chilies and crushed garlic.

As soon as you start getting the aroma add the cut vegetables. The harder vegetables first followed by the softer ones, this ensures all the vegetables cook evenly.

Add turmeric powder, coriander powder and cumin powder to it. Mix it well. Now add the green leaves along with salt and sugar.

IMG_9080Give it a nice stir. Cover and cook in medium low heat. The vegetables and the greens will release enough water to get themselves cooked clip_image001clip_image001[1].

Stir occasionally. Once the vegetables are done, cook it uncovered on high heat till all the water dries up. By this time all the vegetables should be mushy. End it up with a spoon full of mustard oil and green chilies.

Enjoy with steaming hot rice.

NOTE: In case you want to add shrimps, fry them (use the oil for the rest of the cooking) and add the shrimps at the very end. Then cook for 5 more minutes.

Related Posts:

  1. Note-saag posto
  2. Labra