Friday 3 March 2017

French Vanilla Soufflé

Soufflé – the sound from the lip and tongue is  so classically romantic, like everything French. An Indian woman (that’s me ), trying to type a French letter é in the US keyboard of a laptop made in China. And if I intend to write a book, seriously I need to be as perfect as I can.  My only known French literate person is my son who studies French as a second language.  So, an opportunity for me to test his knowledge and increase mine.  The word soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler which means "to blow up" or  "puff up".  And seriously, the magic puff up will last only 1-2 minutes, the time gap from the oven to the table.  As  French says: Le soufflé n’attend pas, on attend le soufflé. Meaning le soufflé doesn’t wait, we (the guests) wait.  The real secret of soufflé-making is it's not that hard. Trust me, and follow the recipe, you will get the same sweet results. Lets not wait for le soufflé, but make the soufflé.

Ingredients : For 4 servings
Flour  – 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter  – 1 tbsp 
Warm milk - ½ cup 
Vanilla extract – ½ tbsp
Caster sugar -  2 tbsp 
Eggs -  2 nos 
Salt – pinch 
Icing sugar  to serve
Butter and sugar to prepare the Ramekins


1. Take melted unsalted butter to brush the inside of ramekins well from bottom upwards. This helps an even rise of the soufflé. Sprinkle sugar to coat the ramekins with sugar. Shake out any excess and then keep in refrigerator to chill.
2. Preheat a pan in medium heat. Add butter and melt it. Add in the flour and cook for 1 minute stirring with a wooden spoon.
3. Remove the pan from oven, add warm milk, and keep stirring  until homogenous and smooth. Put the pan to medium heat, stir continuously till it boil. The sauce should form ribbons. Pour the mixture onto a pan at normal temperature to prevent dehydration. 
Take egg yolks, add caster sugar and vanilla extracts. Start beating till it becomes a thick paste. This is white sauce.
4. Take the egg white in a dry bowl, add sugar gradually and whisk slowly till it looks foamy, creamy and peaks form. Be careful not to crush this. This is French Meringue. 
( set the oven to preheat at 200° C.)
5. Then, pour about half of white sauce into meringue and mix by fold inside with a spoon while rotating the bowl. Add balance of white sauce. Keep lifting with a spoon to mix and combined. Be careful not to crush the delicate meringue.
6. Pour the mixture into ramekins using a laddle. Run thumb around inside of rim to help the soufflé to rise straight. 
7. Put the ramekins in the oven preheated at 200° C and allow to bake  for 12 to 15 minutes, or until well risen.
Imagine when it emerges from the oven puffed up like a pillow with a golden surface and soft, yielding middle 
8. Sprinkle icing  sugar and serve immediately out of oven.

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Thursday 2 February 2017

Nargisi Kofta

There are several versions of Nargisi kofta. Sometimes raw grounded keema/ mince is used. Sometimes the keema is boiled with split pea or chick pea and then grounded again to use the kofta. Sometimes the kofta is cooked in gravy, while sometimes it is served dry, without gravy.

Among these various versions, I would love to share the raw mince version where Koftas and gravy are made separately and then Koftas can be put into gravy.  

Ingredients for the Koftas 

Minced meat ( chicken) – 500 gm
White oil for deep fry – 200 ml 
Hard boiled eggs – 4-5 nos
fried onion  - 1 cup
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp. 
Chopped mint or pudina – 1/4th cup 
Red chili powder – 1 tbsp. or as per taste
Finely chopped green chili – 1 tbsp.
Cinnamon powder- ½ tbsp.
Nutmeg powder – ¼ tbsp.
Mace/ javetri powder – ¼ tbsp.
Cumin powder – ½ tbsp.
Gram masala or kabab masala – ¾ tbsp.
Beaten eggs – 3-4
Powder of roasted peanuts, or bread crumbs
Salt to taste
Beaten egg white 

Ingredients for the Gravy

White oil – 4 tbsp.
Ginger-garlic paste – 4 tbsp.
Chopped Onion – 4 tbsp.
Almond – 4-5 no’s
Chopped tomatoes – 1 no
Yoghurt – 4 tbsp.
Cilantro – to garnish
Salt – 1 tbsp.
Red chili powder – 1 tbsp. 
Gram Masala powder – 1 tbsp.

Procedure to make Kofta 

1. Now mix the minced meat with bereshta, ginger-garlic paste, pudina, green chili, chili powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg-mace powder, garam masala powder, and cumin powder, salt. 
2. Add roasted peanut powder and again mix well with the above mixture.  
3. Now take each egg and cover with good amount of keema/ mince to create a shell around it. Coat in beaten egg and roll it over bread crumb. Repeat the process of coating it again in beaten egg and give another coat of bread crumb. This double coating helps to make it crispy. Now, keep the coated eggs in the refrigerator for about 1-2 hours which helps the mince coating bind well.
4. Now, deep fry on medium- low flame until golden brown and done.
5. Let the Kofta cool down and then cut in halves lengthwise with a very sharp knife or using a thread.  

For the gravy

Heat oil in a deep pan/pot. Add ginger and garlic. Fry till onions turn golden brown. 
Add all spices, salt, and almonds mix well then add chopped tomatoes and cook it for 2 minutes. Add water and cook it for further 10 minutes on simmer. Add yoghurt and let it heat through. Add garam masala and stir. Remember to make the gravy thick. Transfer the hot gravy to the serving dish. Place the koftas carefully  into the hot gravy with the yolk side up. Garnish with chopped cilantro.  

You can serve the Koftas as a snack or use gravy to use it as the main dish serving with Naan. 


1. Do not wash the minced meat too much. If you wash, then squeeze out the water completely to retain the flavor, texture and binding agent. If keema is washed too much, you will need more binding agent so that it does not fall apart while frying. But more you add binding agents like bread, flour, besan (gram flour), corn flour; it loses softness.

2. Coat the eggs with good amount of mince because after adding the kofta to the oil, the meat will shrink down. If there is not enough mince around the eggs, the minced meat will fall apart.

3. Use egg whites for coating which also keeps the frying oil clean. If you use egg yolks, frying oil will get dark.

4. If you have left over and unused minced meat preparations like Keema Matar, then you can use the same also to make Nargisi Kofta. Just blend  the keema Matar with a blender and use it. I have done that many times, and it  is tastier. 

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Tuesday 8 November 2016

Mango Kheer

Mango Kheer is a traditional Indian dessert which is popular during summer time when fresh aromatic sweet mangoes are available in abundance.

Milk -1 liter
Mango Pulp -1 cup
Green cardamom powder -1/2 tsp
Pistachios (grated) -1tsp
Almonds (grated) -1tsp
Sugar – 1 cup


Pour milk into a heated nonstick pan on fire. You will have to boil it for 12-15 mins till the milk thickens through evaporation.  Keep stirring the milk with a spatula at frequent intervals so that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  Once the milk thickens, put the sugar and stir well. Boil the milk for another 5 mins and then remove it from the heat. Let it cool for some time. Once it comes to normal room temperature, pour mango pulp and mix it well with the milk. Sprinkle grated almond and pistachios on the mixture and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours till it becomes cold. Mango Kheer tastes best when served chilled. 

Tips: The quantity of sugar to be used depends on sweetness of the mango. If you get ripened sweet mango, use less sugar according to taste. And it is better to choose fibreless mangoes like alphonso. If there is fiber in mango, then sieve through the pulp to separate out the fibers. Lesser the fiber, smoother the texture of the kheer. 


Monday 3 October 2016

Chicken Rezala

Chicken Rezala is a very popular dish in Bengal and a signature dish for few old restaurants of Kolkata. Chicken Rezala has become a part of Bengali dish though one can’t ignore the Islamic touch in this. As it is said, descendants of Tipu Sultan and Nawabs of Avadh fled to Bengal during British regime. And they brought their cooks who rendered delicious food which mixed best of both Bengal and Awadh. Like Bengal. Awadhi style also liberally uses Kewra water.

When I went to India this summer, I was invited to my very close friend (may I call soul-sister), who is an accomplished cook herself. She had served Chicken Rezala with Basanti Pulao (yellow colored Pulao in Bengali style). It also goes well with Paratha, Naan or Biryani. Same thing can be cooked with mutton also to make Mutton Rezala.  


Chicken – 1 kg
Green Chilly – 7 to 8 no’s
Ginger paste – 1and1/2 tsp
Garlic paste -1and ½ tsp
Salt – as per taste
White pepper powder -2 and ½ tsp
Oil -2tbsp
Cashew nut paste -1tbsp
Poppy seed paste -1tbsp
Curd -1 cup
Garam masala powder -1/2 tsp
Cardamom – 5 no’s
Cinnamon sticks – 3 no’s
Cloves -5 no’s
Bay leaves -2 no’s
Red chili -5 no’s
Saffron -1/2 gm
Kewra -1/2 tsp
Almond – 4 no’s
Clarified butter or Ghee -2 tbsp


1. Cover the chicken with salt, white pepper powder, ginger garlic paste, onion paste, curd. Let it marinate for 3 hours.
2. Heat clarified butter in a pan. Add garam masala (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves).Now add onion paste, ginger garlic paste (1/2 of the quantity)and cook till raw flavor is gone and oil starts separating from the mixture. Now add white pepper powder, salt, chopped green chili, cashew nut, poppy seed paste and curd.
3. Add marinated chicken to the above mixture. After sometime, it will start releasing water. When water comes to boil, put the lid on and let it cook for 30 mins in a low flame.
4. Once chicken is done and some water evaporates, add garam masala powder and cook till chicken is tender.
5. In parallel, heat oil in another pan. Now add red chili, onion rings and sprinkle some salt. Cook till onions are brown and pour this on the top of the chicken and cook it for 2 to 3 mins .Now add saffron and kewra water and switch off the flame.
6. Grate Almond in thin slices and garnish the Rezala with that before serving.

Tips:  Do not use any red-chili powder or Kashmiri Mirch in this recipe or else Chicken Rezala will lose its color.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Cheesy Keema Litti with Arrabiata Alu Chokha & Pesto chutney.

ChakumChukum, has quietly completed one year on 15th Aug, with blessings of all its wellwishers. 

Belated Happy Birthday to my baby ChakumChukum. 

While you were growing, I could bring out my first book #Spices of Life#. It took away considerable amount of my time but the time was worth spending. The book has got rave reviews and the first printed  lot has been sold off. What people liked the most was the fusion of my own real life stories with the recipes. It happens almost in every Indian girl's life and my female readers could identify themselves while reading my book.

Today, my recipe is another blend of Indian and European (Italian) taste. Hope you would like it - "Cheesy Keema Litti with Arrabiata Alu Chokha & Pesto chutney."

Ingredients  for Litti dough: 
Atta -250 gm 
Besan (Gram Flour)- 100gm 
Ajwain -5 gm 
Salt –(According to taste)
Grated cheese – ½ cup
Water – as required

Ingredients for keema :
Chicken mince (keema) – ½ kg
Onion -2 finely chopped
Chilli -2
Ginger paste  - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste -1 tbsp
Chilli powder -1 tsp
Coriander powder -1tsp
Turmeric- ½ tsp
Cloves -2
Cardamom -2
Salt –as per taste
Oil -3 tbsp

Method :
How to make Keema filling :
1. Fry the onions in heated oil in a pan till translucent. Add slit green chilli ,cloves cardamom stir for sometime. Add ginger garlic paste and stir till the raw smell disappears.
2. Now add turmeric and chicken mince. Fry till all it dries up and the keema looks golden brown in color. Now add red chilli powder , coriander powder, salt and cook for sometime. After sometime pour a cup of water and cook till the keema is tender and dry.

How to make Litti 
1. Mix atta and besan thoroughly. Add ajwain, salt and water . Knead into a soft dough and keep aside.
2. Divide dough into medium size balls. 
3. Press with the thumb to make a hole and put a little keema  mixture inside, put some cheese, close the hole and make a round balls .
4. Bake these balls /Litti in Tandoor or Oven at 180 deg C for 10-12 mins. But turn over after every 3 mins to ensure all sides are well-baked.

Ingredients for Alu (Potato)  chokha with Arrabbiata sauce
Olive oil- 3 tbsp
Chopped Garlic  -1tbsp
Chopped Celery -2tbsp
Chopped  Onions – ¼ cup
Salt – to taste 
Chilli flakes – 2tbsp
Tomato puree -1/2 cup
Fresh tomato puree – ½ cup
Potato  – 400 gm

Pour  olive  oil in a preheated pan and heat it for some time. Add chopped garlic , chopped celery, chopped onions and salt to taste. Keep stirring for 2-3 minutes and add red chili flakes , tomato puree and fresh tomato puree . Cook for a while, check the desired consistency and mix the mashed potato. Alu chokha with  Arrabbiata sauce is ready to be enjoyed.
Ingredients for pesto 
Basil -1and ½ cup
Pine nuts – ¼  cup ( very lightly roasted)
Parmesan Cheese – ½ cup ( grated)
Salt – as per taste 
Lemon juice – 2 tsp
Garlic – 4 cloves

Pour the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a food processor. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and mix again .Turn out into a bowl and add half parmesan .Stir gently and add olive oil.

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Monday 18 April 2016

Garlic Cheese Spread


Butter – 2 tbsp
Garlic Powder  - ¼ cup
White pepper powder – 1 tsp
Vegetable oil – 3-4 tbsp
Grated Cheese – 1 cup
Chopped Garlic – 2tbsp
Salt – as per taste


Take a blender bowl and put the butter, garlic powder, white pepper, salt, vegetable oil, grated cheese and blend it into a fine paste. Now, add chopped garlic 2 tbsp and mix it well . Your  cheese spread is ready.


You can make it without a blender too. Melt the butter before adding anything else. After adding all ingredients to the molten butter,  mix it fast with a spoon. The cheese will also melt in the heat of the butter.

Monday 11 April 2016

Homemade Butter


Heavy whipping cream or home made malai -1cup
Salt  -1/4 tsp to taste
Turmeric – a pinch
Ice cold Water – 3-4 tsp


Take 1 cup cream or malai and pour entire quantity into a blender. Now start blending for about 45 seconds to 1 minute, check it if it has thickened or else blend it for some more time. Now it will look like icing cream.

Now, blend it for another minute or so. You will notice that the mixture starts to separate. Now you can add salt, a pinch of turmeric (for colour) and 3 tsp of ice-cold water. You have to blend it well again for 15 seconds. You will see that all the liquid has come out. Pour the content into a strainer, drain all liquid by mashing. The drained liquid is butter milk. And  you have got fresh butter in your strainer.

Important is to have a blender and a strainer to make it real fast. I have not added salt as I wanted unsalted butter. But you can add salt to taste and/or different types of herbs as per preference. Turmeric is used for slightly yellowish colour. But you can make without salt and turmeric to get plain white butter.