Sayantani’s Chingri Macher Malaikari

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Pic Courtesy: NDTV Food

Sayantani is my beautiful colleague from Kolkata. I met her last year and was overjoyed this year when this year she moved to Mumbai. With her she not only brought to office her famed Bengali accent, the unique manner in which she dressed but also her Bengali cuisine. This was when i felt, its always good to know one more ‘bong’ in your life. Here is her post of the best chingri macher malaikari that i have ever eaten. Trust me it was even better than the one that they serve at Oh! Calcutta.

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I have a fond relationship with this exquisite prawn delicacy that brings back innocent childhood memories every time I make this. As a child, like many of you, I had this habit of associating words with certain pictures (I still do that very often and laugh my lungs out caring little about my surrounding! It is my ‘zone out’ guise.) So, Chingri Macher Malaikari was associated with regality in my child mind. I cannot say now, after so many years, why I had created such an association. Perhaps, looking at how delicately the milk of coconut was pressed out to prepare this heavenly prawn curry or looking at the jumbo prawns in golden yellow sauce or may be simply because I liked the dish so much that I had made it regal!

Nonetheless, the fact remains that the dish can change the dimension of a meal whenever it is placed on the table! I have made this dish many times. Whenever I have cooked a quick meal for two or twenty, I end up turning to my favourite ‘Chingri Macher Malaikari’. Here is the recipe of my grandmother, which I learnt from my mother.

Ingredients:

–          1 kg Jumbo prawns

Make sure you clean the heads without losing the yellow gooey stuff. Remove the veins from back. After draining all the water, smear the prawns with salt and turmeric powder and keep it aside

–          3.5-inch cinnamon stick

–          7-8 green cardamom

–          2 bay leaves

–          6-7 cloves

Pestle the garam masalas very roughly and keep it aside.

–          Oil & ghee to fry

–          Turmeric powder

–          Red Chili powder

–          Salt and Sugar to taste

–          Garlic paste 2 pinches

–          Ginger paste – 1 table spoon

–          Onion paste – of 4 big onions

–          Green chilies – slit 3-4

–          Coconut Milk (400 gms of powder made into a thick gravy)

Preparation:

Step 1

  • Shallow fry the prawns in mustered oil or white oil and keep them aside

Step 2

  • Heat 2-3 tbsps. of ghee in a pan and shallow fry the garlic paste. Make sure you do not burn it.
  • Add the bay leaves and garam masala and fry them on sim till they start sputtering
  • Add the ginger paste to the pan
  • Add 1 tbsp. of sugar to the pan and then add the onion paste
  • Give a very good stir to the mixture, without over frying it.
  • The oil will start separating when your masala is cooked. Add the coconut milk to this mixture and give it a nice stir
  • Add 2 tbsps. of turmeric powder and few pinches of red chili powder and also add the green chilies to the mixture
  • After adding the coconut milk the texture will start thickening. Keep stirring to make it even
  • Add the prawns now and add little water and give it a good stir
  • Cook it on medium flame for 10 minutes
  • Adjust the salt and sugar

Serve the ‘Chingri Macher Malaikari’ with steamed basmati and enjoy a simple yet regal Bengali meal!

Bon Appetit.

love

Sayantani Banerjee

Sayantani

F(e)asting during Ramzan: A Bohri meal experience 

img_2654Did you know you eat lesser when you sit on the floor cross-legged to eat versus sitting at a dining table? Did you know that roasted garlic and chillies help you digest mutton and other heavy meals? Did you know that no morsel of food goes waste at a Bohri wedding and that the thaal is considered sacred, treated with reverence? Did you know that Ramzan fasts at a Bohri home are broken with a pinch of salt and Gol paani? Did you know that every Bohri home has their own signature dish?

I came to know all of this and more in my first elaborate experience of Bohri Iftaar by Farida of The Big Spread and organised by Authenticook.

Community eating at a Bohri home is a concept. The thaal or thaala as they refer to, comes in various sizes to serve a minimum of three eaters to a maximum of eight. Organised by Authenticook, we diners got a taste of how eating at a Bohri home would be – where the food is served in a thaal, to be eaten while being seated on the floor and eaten like the family eats – literally together. Fun fact: The thaal has its own birthday – celebrated during the new year.

Farida Kutianawala and her daughter Fatima hosts for the evening welcomed us with Gol Paani. This is essentially chilled jaggery water with a dash of lime and soaked chia seeds (sabja) – this is first thing Bohris drink after breaking their fast with salt. And this year’s Ramzan is longer since it has come about is summer – longer days, hotter days. A sip of the water can refresh you in seconds.

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Refreshing Gol paani pic courtesy: @ninadism (instagram)

Most meals end with a sweet dish. Bohri meals start with a sweet dish, followed by the savoury, interspersed with sweet and then savoury again, ending with a sweet dish.

The first course started with sweet malpuas and jalebis accompanied by fresh cream with a generous sprinkling of dry fruits. The malpuas were just right – not too sweet and definitely not dripping with oil – this is where home cooking takes it away and takes this dining experience to a whole new level. Did you know it is traditional to make the youngest member among the diners to serve salt before a meal to the rest?

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Malpuas and jalebis gave way to a plate of starters – bheja (goat brain) cutlets, chicken baida (egg) roti and mutton bhuma egg rolls. The bheja cutlets were my favourite – they literally melted in my mouth and tasted best among the three starters when eaten with the mint chutney (with a hint of sweetness). Didn’t ask for more for fear of not being able to eat the dishes that were to follow.

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Bheja cutlets, mutton rolls and chicken baida roti

When we were just about finishing this off, we got the only remotely vegetarian dish on the menu i.e salad which was essentially boondi and crispy patra raita with a topping of what faintly looked like pumpkin. I have only a fleeting memory of tasting this – as you can see i don’t care much for vegetables..


Sweet followed savoury – mango phirni which wasn’t in the menu that was shared with us but was welcome anyway. Served in earthen matkas this cut down the spice in the starters and prepared us for the next item on the menu which was Raan (leg of lamb)!


And what a lovely lovely dish that was. It made me want to go to their kitchen to ask how they make this wonderfully delicious leg of lamb. Truly the star of the meal, it got polished off in less than five minutes. The leg of lamb is marinated overnight in smoked spice paste, grilled in an oven, roasted on an open flame, further spiced and then slow cooked on steam in another special thaal.

By this time most of us diners were sprawled on the floor, spreading themselves out to expand their tummies because this didn’t end just yet.


Bir Soda came soon after together with Nalli Nihari and khamiri roti. Bir soda is essentially masala soda which is manufactured by Sosyo – which makes the original Sosyo drink. Bir soda is marketed exclusively in Bohri Mohalla and the sole purpose of the drink is to take down the Nalli Nihari neatly into your already bursting tummy. Khamiri roti and pao usually is served with paya in Bohri mohalla as a standalone meal but was included in the meal to give the diners a taste of iftaar while actually having to walk the streets of Mohammed Ali road in the sweltering heat.

Most thaals end with a Daal Chawal Palidu (commonly known as DCP in Bohri parlance) on normal days which is essentially rice cooked with daal and accompanied with palidu made of gram flour. I ate this sometime back at my Bohri friends’ home who i stayed with last night. In this thaal however, we got some nice lightly spiced jeera rice which helped us polish the delicious Nalli Nihari. The nihari was outstanding, and despite bursting at the seams, all the diners asked for a second helping!

Nalli Nihari was followed by Sheer Khurma. Warm and served in colourful jars this occupied even the tiniest portion that remained in our bursting tummies.

No Bohri meal is complete without Meetha paan. But most of the diners took it for the road. All of them needed a small walk to be able to even accommodate the paan in their stomachs. Those who had shoes with laces could barely bend over to tie them.  I needed a brisk walk to be able to clear my head – too much good food is like an intoxicant – you can’t think straight soon after.

Ambience: NA
Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5

Authenticook offers unique culinary experiences at the homes of its home-chefs. Experience India’s cultural diversity one meal at a time! The next meal in their schedule is a Kashmiri meal in Goregaon and a Parsi Bhonu in Bandra. Which one are you going to?

Papa’s Pork Sorpotel: My long impending post on..pork..again

My papa with his beautiful wife 🙂

When most people look for comfort food, they would cite maggi, pasta, pizza, ‘bhate-bhat’ for the bengalis, daal-bhat for most of the others. My comfort food for all seasons and for all the right reasons is pork sorpotel. And just the way my papa makes it. Though i have tried several versions of this dish, my papa’s version has a special place in my heart. So i thought i should document this dish for my son, who could probably then make it for his children. Recipe typed out by my papa.
Also this is probably my fifth post on pork so you probably know that is the one thing I ‘pig out’ on the most.
Papa’s Pork Sorpotel 
Ingredients:
1 kg of pork innards with liver, heart etc cleaned and partially boiled OR a kg pork partially boiled and cut in small pieces.
A tbspoon pigs blood crystlline. ( if not available do not worry)
A piece of cinnamon.
For grinding:
20 dry chillies
2 tsp coriander
half tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
half tsp pepper
half tsp turmeric grind with little vinegar or tamarind water.com
For chopping
3 medium sized onions chopped small (say 16 pieces)
3 green chillies
10 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger
  • Add the meat,chopped items and ground masala with little bit of salt and tamarind water till cooked.
  • When cooked add salt,tamarind water or vinegar and the crystalline blood.
  • Sourness must be adjusted to your taste
  • Finally add little sugar
  • Soak tamarind in water and remove waste
  • Use only just enough vinegar and  tamarind water.
  • If lot of liquid fat is floating around remove it.

This on cooking tastes better over a few days if refrigerated and heated as per requirements.

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Sorpotel – Not the best looking pic but the best tasting comfort food in the WORLD! This one was made by my uncle. 

Pork Sorpotel tastes best with my mummy’s sanna (idlis), bread or steamed rice. This is a dish that a lot of wedding caterers make since it has a decent mix of curry and meat, doesn’t have to be spicy and suits a lot of palates. But every time i eat pork sorpotel, it just reminds me of home and my Papa.

Food across neighbours

Scoutmytrip.com’s Co-founder Deepak Ananth‘s trip to Nepal was such an appetizing journey. Deepak recounts his experiences with food for us. Be part of this exciting journey and feast on this droolworthy food photos!

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Deepak Ananth, Founder, Scoutmytrip.com

Plenty has been written and talked about Indian food and its immediate neighbor, the quintessential Chinese cuisine. During my travel, I was made aware of a cuisine that is stuck bang in the middle of these 2 culinary giants. Nepal.

Ask the Nepali gentleman what they eat , the answer is pat- Daal Bhat and tarkari. What is there to write about this. The common dal, rice and steamed vegetables! So when we went to Kathmandu on a 9 day road trip from Delhi, we decided to experience as much food as we could along the way- in Lucknow and other parts of UP and Delhi. We didn’t expect too much of Nepal. Am I glad to be proved wrong.

The simplicity on the Nepali plate shouldn’t be mistaken for its lack of taste. The typical meal consists of a heap of rice, dal ( black and yellow variety) – extremely watery and a portion of saag. Either the spinach or a mix of various vegetables stewed in its own broth. What can be simpler? What sets the food apart are the accompaniments. The pickles.

Thali at Nepal

I am a spice junkie. So when the spicy tangy pickles came out, I was more than happy to sample mine and eat up my neighbours share. Lime, mixed veg, bamboo, mango, carrot, chillies, basically anything that can be fermented , will be fermented. Amazing stuff.

Then we were introduced to Chow Mein.  A simple fried rice or noodles, cooked in Chinese sauces, and vegetables. The non vegetarian has the option of having shredded chicken and egg liberally mixed into the dish. Topped with coriander or parsley to give the freshness that you generally don’t expect with this dish, A touch of the ‘Indianness’ that seems to permeate in Nepal.  Again, the red chilly chutney that accompanies the rice ( and strangely not the noodles) is the hero. Spicy and tangy, similar to the schezwan chutney you get in most places in India, but different in treatment.

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When you are this close to Tibet, the influence of the hearty food of this region cannot be amiss.  The thukpa bowl is delicious here. Plenty of veggies, carrots to cauliflowers to potatoes and onions simmered in a broth that is spicy and burns your throat when you take that first sip. Non veggies have shredded boiled chicken added into the bowl.

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Nepal is also famous for its Buff momos. Momos stuffed with buffalo meat. There are chicken and vegetarian options also. But for me the taste just falls a bit short of the authentic Tibetian fare or the completely Indianised version.

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Buff momos

One thing to look for is the rice or mullet wine that is made in most houses here. Called Raksi, this clear liquid is surprisingly close in taste to the Japanese Sake. With the same burning sensation when drunk and the lovely after taste , sort of a buttery , velvety taste in your mouth. This is a must try, if not for any thing else, try to see the traditional way of serving the raksi for its entertainment value. It is usually drunk in a small mud container, shaped like a diya or lamp that we use at home. The drink is poured from a great height with pinpoint accuracy into this small receptacle from a jug with a small spout. The accuracy of pouring accentuates the taste-  me thinks!

 

One different and new learning for me in Nepal was the Jimbu or jamboo (wasn’t able to get the name exactly right). From the onion family, the jimbu doesn’t taste as pungent as the onion , but has the same flavor palate and the leaves are used to give a similar flavor to the broth and the thukpa. The Jimbu is generally dried and served as a condiment along with the meal. I loved its subtle taste.

We were also asked to try the Sekuwa – a kind of kabab, in Nepal. But weren’t able to find places to get this authentically prepared. Made from pork, mutton, chicken and many a times a mixture of all of them and liberally spiced with herbs, this skewer is then roasted over an open flame of charcoals to get a rich and aromatic flavor. Like I said, our loss!

The sweets and desserts of Nepal are very similar to its indian cousins. The jerry is similar to the south Indian Jhangri, chocolate burfi and rosogolla is served everywhere. The other sweet that is saw being served at every meal was the pedha. Again very similar to the Indian version.

All in all, the simplicity of the ingredients in a land that is not known for its agricultural or culinary prowess surprised me no end. I will love to go back and see how different provinces have twisted the recipes to make it their own. Hopefully , I will get a chance to do this again. Till then —ramrari khanu hola” – Bon appetit!

 

One of those days…

When you want to only eat yummy food because you are feeling down. Food shouldn’t ideally be eaten to lift your spirits but what the heck! I think you can be pardoned if you are cooking up your lunch box at 6 am in the morning.

Today was one of those days.

I made myself egg muffins and sauteed some broccoli, mushrooms and sausages for lunch. Easy enough to make, healthy and does lift your spirit to an extent. Especially if you like broccoli – which not many people enjoy.

Egg Muffins: How to make them

  1. Beat 6 eggs up
  2. Pull out a baking tray for muffins
  3. Line it with cooking oil
  4. Line the baking cups with whatever is leftover from the night before – it could be shredded chicken, basil, bacon, brocooli, cherry tomatoes, babycorn and top it with some mozarella / cheddar cheese
  5. Pour the beaten eggs into the cups
  6. Bake at 180 deg C for 20 mins
  7. Tadaaaaa…16864266_10154148174956890_7247231442300426930_n

The best part of these egg muffins is that you can store them, reheat and eat.

This is my comfort food. And lunch for today.

What’s in your lunchbox today?

 

 

N for Never give up #AtoZchallenge

I am so behind in my challenge- so many days of writers block that I decided to challenge myself to atleast finishing this series and not compete​ with the other stalwarts in the #Blogchatter challenge. What Blogchatter’s #AtoZChallenge got me to do is 

  • Get some semblance of discipline in my blogging life 
  • Got me to take my blog and my love for food seriously so much so I made my instagram account a professional one, started a Facebook page for this blog 
  • Got me blogging more than I have ever done in all my years of blogging
  • Got me to start a new series on medium.com, read some more there so I can write better here or wherever I write 
  • Got me to connect with fellow foodies, food bloggers, instagrammers
  • Got me in touch with the core quality I have in life overall – never give up. 

So this post is all about me thanking Richa and Blogchatter for getting me to write and write some more and yes #nevergiveup

M for Madras Cafe #AtoZChallenge

You can never go wrong with South Indian breakfasts. American and English breakfasts have their own charm but South Indian breakfast ensure one thing – a full tummy and that too a healthy one. Am calling this post Madras Cafe not just because I love the cafe on Dadar East but also it signifies all things South India in breakfast.

Being a South Indian by birth predisposes you to have idli, dosas, neer dosas, upmas, puri bhaji etc. And this you will probably get at a Udupi restaurant. But what you do get is the stuff that South Indian households make. 

At my home spring hoppers or appams are quite popularly. While neer dosas are quite regularly made, we also make tuppa dosas which very few South Indian joints make. A lot of homes make ‘Mutlin’ which is basically tempered rice powder with shredded coconut and eaten with spicy chutney or with chicken curry! There was a similar version of these rice balls that I ate at Coorg. Called kodambattus these cute little balls of rice are served with sambar. If you are lucky you might even get to eat these with pork….for breakfast. 

JSome other interesting breakfast options are Bhakris which are rice pancakes roasted on iron tawas, on a naked flame sometimes too. Best eaten with piping hot tea for breakfast or for high tea! My mum spices this up with some mutton curry.  Just too divine to describe. 

My dad’s standard breakfast is ‘sajjike bajile’ which is upma topped with spiced beaten rice with a sprinkling of sugar at times. The beaten rice or poha is sometimes mixed with jaggery which then lends this dish a sweet salty flavour. 

When I had gone to Kerala I had rice noodles steamed and served with egg curry for non vegetarians and black gram curry. Heartiest breakfast ever. We also make something similar in mangalore called rice sev and serve it for breakfast with sweetened coconut milk. Kerala is also famous for rice puttus which is rice flour mixed with coconut.

What you might have noticed in most South Indian breakfasts is the strong presence of rice and coconut, against most popular diet recommendations. Rice is not considered as healthy and a lot of dieticians ask you to skip rice from your meals. But the people who live and work in the places where these breakfasts originate from are seldom overweight and unhealthy. Maybe it’s worth then to reconsider the way we city dewellers reconsider the way we lead the rest of out lives than skip healthy and wholesome breakfasts like these. 

I might have missed some of these rice based breakfasts while mentioning some of what I have experienced. Love to hear your favourites!