Sunday, March 30, 2008



A few day’s back , I just happened to find a Thai sauce ( looked like a sweet & sour sauce from ingredients ) in a store. Instantenously, I started salivating – it reminded me of the delicious starters that I usually order when we dine out at Sanghai Express ( that’s a small but authentic Chinese restaurant here in Bhubaneswar). I love Chicken Taipei - dry sweet & sour boneless grilled ( or fried, I don’t know exactly) chicken pieces . Once I had tried it out with prawns – with a mix of vinegar, honey, garlic paste & red chillie flakes . Tasted nice, but not what I was exactly looking for .

When I got this sauce, I could not wait to experiment. So, my experiment started – and look at the photo ( mobiles are these days amazing – with camera & blue tooth for transferring to comps ) !! Is it not exotic !! Tastes as delicious .

How I made it : Slice boneless chicken – wash, put a little bit ( a drop or two – very little indeed) of soya sauce, salt ( on a lower side than needed) and just a dash of cornflour powder. Grill it in Microwave (till cooked and very slightly brown).

Cut Capsicum in to cubes and Onions to cubes ( so that after cooking, layers of Onions will remain nicely – neither too soft, nor too hard) . Heat refined oil in a non-stick pan, add the onions and capsicum – fry on high flame . Sprinkle a bit of salt to taste & a bit of black pepper powder. Add the microwaved chicken – add Thai sauce ( two/three table spoonfuls depending on quantity – ladies can make amazing guess work as to the measure of ingredients !! If u err on either side, try the second time – u will make it perfectly , I swear ! Already happened with me many a time, ha, ha. ) . Cover & Cook till done- stiring in between . Towards the end, a little bit of water will start separating – sprinkle some cornflour ( do not put much at all – just enough to soak up the water to make the consistency as it looks in the picture ) – mix it well while frying . Lo..o - It’s done . Looks so tempting !! Tastes yummy – sweet n sour n chilly !! Great combination.

Want to try it out by grilling the chicken in an OTG – Micro wave makes everything moist . Next time, I will also try cooking the chicken first on low fire on stove top .

I had prepared this when my daughter came back from a three weeks project with some NGO in Rajastan and had no chicken ( for that matter, no proper food , as they were staying in real villages for first hand feedback from grass root level ) and she loved it. My day was made!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Diet Delight ( series - 1)

DIET DELIGHT ( Series – 1)

My father was a heart patient ( passed away recently ). He was a very simple, honest person, without any costly habits or other obsessions. Perhaps the only thing he relished was food – but as a heart patient, he had to keep away from too oily or rich spicy food during the last four years after he got the heart attack. So , during the last couple of years, when he used to stay with us, I was trying out various recipes – without oil altogether, or very little oil and masala .

Actually, I never think that only richly cooked dishes are usually delicious !! But somehow, we Indians usually market only our spicy dishes to the world ? Do n’t we –in every nook and corner of India – cook nice simple stuff as our daily food ? I swear - there are so many ways to cook simple dishes – without much oil or spices – yet very tasty & healthy . Giving below a few of them . Do try out …


Nothing fishie about it …. , no onion or other spices, no excess oil , no elaborate process of cooking . Just try it out . I will give credit for this to my Aunt “ Baby Maain “ ( wife of my maternal uncle , who is a really terrific cook !!) . I have made some changes to the original recipe in my own way .

For 4 pieces of fish, take about one & half inch piece of ginger, ½ of a small green chilly ( or else, it will be too hot ) and one medium sized tomato - grind all together with a bit of water in a mixie.

Sprinkle salt & turmeric powder over fish pieces, mix well and fry in oil. Keep aside. Heat the remaining oil, add fenugreek seeds ( only ! ) for seasoning ( about ¼ teaspoonful) – add haldi ( turmeric powder) , salt to taste, bit of red chilly powder.

- add the fried fish pieces - just toss a little and add the paste with water generously and after bringing it to a boil , leave it covered on low fire for quite sometime – about 15 mins , so that the jhola( gravy) does not taste watery although it remains very thin.

Tastes lovely with that great flavour of ginger . Goes well with plain rice .

The original recipe had only ginger for paste without tomato/chilly and there was not much gravy– just enough to leave the fishes with a little bit of gravy for rolly-polly . I had done this way the first time , and it was nice . But as we like a bit of watery gravy with tinge of sourness , I modified it a bit and l.o.o., behold – it became a big favourite of my father and daughters !! You may like it the rolly-polly type with just a bit of gravy .

I will continue posting more simple recipes in days to come - both veg & non-veg – as we cook ; original and/or improvised . Bye for now .

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I cooking! and honestly, I find it one of the most creative things under the sun. Ever tried to count how many recipes are prepared around the world out of a limited number of ingredients ! Just amazing !!

And of course , there is that saying – the way to one’s heart lies through one’s stomach . How true !! It feels like heaven when my kids tell – oh , Mama – the dish was yum.m.y !! And of course , a lot other admirers !!

I would add one more feather to the cap . Cooking is a real stress buster too ! And that’s the time when I sing to my heart’s glory , ha , ha !!

Clarification - I am neither a housewife nor a Chef . I m a senior executive in a bank and normally I have very little time for myself or my hobbies . So , as a matter of principle , I prepare the lunch for the family in the morning – have carved out that 1 to 1 &1/2 hrs time in the morning before I leave for office . Advantages of cooking the lunch myself in the morning before leaving for office at 9:

- End up managing my time and so , am never late for office

- Get to cook for the family and so, able to keep that emotional bond alive despite lack of time for being with the family

- Get to retain and sharpen cooking skills for ever, one of the skills most useful till the last breath

- Enjoy the creations

- Enjoy singing while cooking – so get to maintain my singing talent even without real practice

I think, those are quite enough to motivate anyone – at least me – to continue with my rendezvous with recipes !!!

So .. I thought I would start my blog with Ode to Cooking and to my utmost pleasure , I just read from Asha (foodieshope), Zorra has organized an event for them to cook or bake something "Yellow", to celebrate and support the economic, political and social achievements of women. She says color Yellow represents respect and an expression of solidarity with the women in their support for oppressed women worldwide.

Here I join hands with millions of women around the World in celebrating this great day by placing below a “ Yellow” item ., which I had cooked yesterday and just coincidentally , my daughter had taken a snap out of fun .

MACHHA BADI BESAR (Fish in Mustard Gravy)

It is a typical fish curry dish of Orissa state in India .

Ingredients : Fish pieces ( recommended fish : Rohu/Katla/ Hilsa) , oil ( recommended oil : Mustard Oil) mustard paste * , chopped onions, tomato, Panch Phutan **, Haldi ( turmeric powder), Red Chilly powder, Jeera powder ( cumin seeds powder), salt to taste and Badi #

* Mustard Paste : Heat some water and take out of stove; soak mustard seeds in warm water for 8 to 10 minutes – drain and grind together with garlic flakes, a little bit of Onion & a bit of turmeric powder ( Roughly 2 tablespoon of mustard with 7/8 garlic flakes , half of one medium onion for 4 to 5 pieces of fish).

** Panch Phutan ( seasoning of five ) : mustard seed, jeera ( cumin seed), black cumin seed, Saunf , Fenugreek seeds – mixed together . Usually we keep this mix in a large measure and use only 1 or half teaspoon for seasoning .

# badi : these are pre-prepared stuff stored in dry condition . Grind black grams( deskinned) - the gram used for batter of Dosa/Idli etc . Do not make it watery . On a plain loin cloth , put small small measures of this , and dry well in sun . Peel off from the cloth and store in air tight jars .

Wash the fish pieces – add salt & termuric powder . Heat a frying pan – add oil

( roughly 1 teaspoon per piece – I m very bad at giving measures for recipes – I am sure, anyone who cooks would have the knack for knowing the proportions - by eye estimate & tasting before finish). Fry the fish pieces well ; keep aside .

Heat some oil ( 2/3 teaspoons) in a Kadai ( or frying pan with space for gravy), add paanch phutan ( 1 teaspoon) . When they splutter fully, add chopped onion, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and a little bit of salt . Add cumin seed powder ( about 2 teaspoon) , chopped tomato ( about 2 medium sized). Stir fry for some time , add boiled potato pieces or raw patato slices ( may avoid potato also )- stir fry, then add the fried fish pieces – mix carefully without breaking the pieces. You may also add long pieces of Spring onions at this stage of frying ( as shown in the picture – I had put only this and no potato or coriander leaves) . Keep cooking on low fire for about 2 mins . Mix the mustard paste with water and pour into the Kadai. Add enough water ( about 1 tea cup per piece ) and salt to taste . Cover lid and bring to a boil on high flame – then leave simmering with the lid on for 15/20 minutes . Add chopped fresh coriander leaves ( avoid this if you have put spring onion stalks).

After switching off the stove, add fried “ Badi ” pieces and cover . The curry will taste as delicious even without badi.

This curry is also ideal for adding drumsticks .

This curry can also be prepared with thicker gravy ( but my kids love the “jhola” i.e the watery gravy , which goes very well with Rice ).

Trust , some readers would try this out and comment honestly !!