A Lean Dinner For Two; Thukpa

For those of us who love to eat, Thukpa is for a fitter you. The best part of this meal is that it fills you up without too much fuss and you get to everything you love in one bowl, literally. Enjoy my very first step towards a single chin, Thukpa.

Thukpa – Spicy Chicken, Vegetable and Noodle Soup

Thukpa is an East Indian soup, made with meat, vegetables and noodles or dumplings for thickening. It is a meal in itself, complete with proteins and carbs. In this recipe I have used chicken and some bacon for flavouring. You can use pork belly, lamb, seafood or a combination of meats to suit your preference. For vegetarian Thukpa, simply skip the meat or chicken and add in a combination of vegetables that you fancy. 
Serves – 2


Chicken, boneless, cut into chunks 2 cups
Lemon, juice 2 tbspn
Red chilli 2
Salt to taste
Vegetable Oil few drops
Bacon 2 rashers (Optional)
Spring onion, chopped 1 cup
Ginger 1 ½ inch, chopped
Garlic, peeled 5 cloves
Carrot, chopped  ½ cup
Beans (any green beans), chopped ½ cup
Tomatoes, chopped 1 cup
Spinach, cleaned ½ bunch
Mushroom 5, quartered
Chicken Stock 3 cups
Noodles 1 cup
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Soy Sauce 1 tbspn
Vinegar 1 tbspn (use lemon juice)
Basil a few leaves
Coriander Leaves, roughly chopped ¼ cup
Scrambled Egg on top (optional)


Crush the red chillies. Rub in salt, half the crushed red chilli and lemon juice to the chicken chunks.

Heat oil in a deep pan, and then add in ginger, garlic and the chopped white bulbs of spring onion. Stir in and allow it to cook until the onion turns translucent.

Now, add in carrots, beans and cook on a high flame for two minutes. Add in the chicken, then the spinach, mushrooms, tomato, salt and crushed red chilli. Stir and cook on medium heat.

Add in the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Now, add in noodles or dumplings, allow the thukpa to thicken. Add in sugar, soy sauce, basil, coriander leaves and lemon juice or vinegar. Top the Thukpa with scrambled egg for garnish.

Enjoy the flavour riot!

Hidden Secrets of TV Cooking; How Practical are TV recipes?

Would you say your recipes turn out exactly the same as they are on TV? Two years ago, I had gone to visit a friend during the shoot of a Television cookery show. I was surprised to see that the producers had ordered dishes from a restaurant for the final presentation. Recipes that were being prepared on the show did not always looked perfect and so they would cheat a little. I was very disappointed. Some of our Television hosts are experts with immense knowledge about food and how it should be prepared. Then there are those who are great hosts but may or may not be trained chefs. I wanted to find out whether or not my favourite lifestyle channel recipes are practical and feasible.
So, I watched a show and noted down the recipe with the exact proportions from the official channel website. I prepared the almond based chicken as per the TV recipe.  There was a little problem. Many of the cookery show producers assume that their viewers know the basics. The recipe was feasible but I realised that the proportions given on the channel website were vague. For example, the recipe called for one ginger. It is hard to assume whether that is one 4 inch piece of ginger or a 2 inch piece of ginger. Similarly, it said grated nutmeg but the quantity was not mentioned. How to prevent the yogurt from curdling? The cooking time and how do you test whether the chicken is cooked was not specified. So, using my favourite lifestyle channel as a guide to cooking involves a lot of guess work, especially for an amateur chef. The recipe was gorgeous, with a little more detail, it will turn out perfect.

Badami Murgi (Chicken in Almond Gravy)- Serves 4

Chicken Joints, halved (murgi) 6 pieces
Salt (namak)to taste
Yogurt (Dahi)1 cup
Red Chilli Flakes(Kutti Lal Mirch) ½ teaspoon
Garlic (Lehsun), 4 cloves, minced
Ginger(Adrak), 1 inch, minced
Unsalted, clarified Butter (Ghee) 2 +1 tablespoon
Onion(Pyaz), large 1, minced
Cinnamon (Dal Chini)½ inch piece
Coriander seeds (Sabut Dhaniya) 1 teaspoon
Black cardamom (Badi Elaichi)2
Green Cardamom(Chhoti Elaichi) 4 + 4
Cloves(laung) 6
Nutmeg(jaiphal), grated ¼ teaspoon
Almond Paste (badam paste) Dip 20 almonds in boiling water, remove the skin and grind it into a fine paste
Dried Red Chilli (Sukhi Lal Mirch) 2

Wash and cut the chicken joints into half.
In a mixing bowl, whisk yogurt, salt, red chilli flakes and two cloves of garlic, minced and half the minced ginger.
Add the chicken to the yogurt mixture. Allow it to stand till the other ingredients are prepared.
In a pan, dry roast cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, coriander seeds, cloves and nutmeg on medium heat. Till they turn a shade darker. Grind or crush them together into a coarse powder.
In a pan, heat two tablespoons of ghee. Add in the minced onion, stir and cook till it turns light pink. Do not brown.
Now, add in the remaining ginger and garlic mince, stir and allow it to cook for a minutes.
Add in the mixture of the roasted spices, stir.
Strain the chicken and keep aside. Whisk the flavoured yogurt. Lower the heat and add in the yogurt to the pan. Make sure the pan is not too hot.
Allow the curry to simmer, do not increase the heat, this could cause the yogurt to curdle. Stir and allow the yogurt to simmer for three to four minutes.
Now, add in the almond paste. Stir and allow the gravy to cook on low heat for ten minutes. The gravy should become thick and creamy.
Now, add in the chicken. Add the leg pieces first and allow it to cook on medium heat for five minutes.
Now, add in the chicken breast pieces, stir and cook for five minutes on medium heat.
To check if the leg pieces are cooked, see if the flesh begins to separate from the bone. If you break the chicken the pinkish flesh should have turned completely white from the inside.
Turn off the heat. The chicken will release its own juices in the thick gravy, making the consistency right, so there is no need to add in extra water.
The chicken will cook a little more even after you turn off the heat.
Take a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of ghee once the ghee is hot then add in the dried red chilli and green cardamom pods. When they turn a shade darker, add them on top of the chicken curry for garnish and flavour.
Note: You can add dried apricots when the gravy is cooking to add in a sweetish tinge.
You can strain the gravy for presentation, however, this will thin down your gravy.

Simple, Subtle, Homemade Fish Curry; Macher Jhol

This is the simplest form of Bengali fish curry which can be made with any fresh water fish. It is frequently prepared in Bengali homes. Rohu is a fresh water fish that is cut into to Bengali style pieces which means the slices of the round fish are halved. In most Bengali fish curry recipes, the fish is first cleaned and then turmeric and salt are rubbed on to it. This process is necessary since turmeric has antiseptic properties and it nullifies the affect of impurities clinging on to the fish. Salt is for seasoning and a preservative, to keep the freashness intact.
Macher Jhol

Bengali Fish Curry – Serves 2


Rohu  4 to 5 pieces (400g)
Cauliflower (Phool Gobi) ½ cup, cut into florets
Potato (Aloo) ½ cup, cut into quarters
Turmeric (Haldi) ½ + ½ teaspoon
Salt (Namak) to taste
Tomato Puree (Pisaa Tamatar) ½ cup
Green Chilli (hari mirch) 1
Ginger (Adrak) ½ inch piece
Onion Seeds (Kalonji) ½ teaspoon
Mustard seeds (Rai) ½ teaspoon
Cumin (Jeera) ½ teaspoon
Mustard Oil (sarson ka tel) 1 tablespoon

Rub turmeric and salt to Bengali style, cut pieces of Rohu. Keep it aside.
Heat mustard oil in a pan, once it starts smoking, shallow fry the fish. Remove the fish and set aside.
In the same pan, shallow fry the cauliflower and potato with some turmeric and set aside.
Make a fine paste with tomato puree, ginger, green chilli, onion seeds, cumin, mustard seeds.
In a pan, add in the tomato paste and cook for five minutes on medium heat. The tomato puree should be fully cooked and the mixture should leave the sides and separate from the oil after five minutes.
Now, add in the cauliflower and the potato, stir and cook for three minutes on medium flame. Keep stirring.
Finally add in the fish that was shallow fried and kept aside earlier.
Add in ¾ cup water and allow the fish to simmer on low heat for five minutes, until the fish turns white and 
starts separating from the bone.
Be careful while stirring the curry, so that the pieces of fish do not break. Cook for another two or three minutes on low flame. Turn off the heat.
Serve hot with luchis or steamed rice.

Eight Baby-Steps to Get the Bengali Yogurt Fish Curry Right. Doi Macch

Doi Machh is a yogurt based, mildly spiced fish curry from Bengal. It is prepared with a fresh water fish called Rohu or Greas carp Fish. If Rohu or Greas carp Fish is unavailable, this curry can be prepared with any other fresh water fish. The fish is cut into Bengali style pieces which means it is cleaned, the scales are removed, it is cut lengthwise and then cut into regular slices, which gives you thick triangular slices(Half of a darne).
The best thing about this recipe is that it is simple and delicious. Bengali moms will tell you that the head of the fish is the most flavourful part. Even if you don’t want to eat the head of the fish, add it to the curry while cooking and discard it later.

Doi Machh – Serves 4


Fresh Water Fish (Rohu)     600g, cut into Bengali Style Pieces
Turmeric (Haldi)    1 ½ teaspoon + ½ teaspoon
Salt (Namak)   to taste
Unsalted, Clarified Butter (Ghee)   2 tablespoons
Dried Red Chilli (Sukhi Lal Mirch)   2
Bay Leaf (tej patta)  1
Green Cardomom (Chhoti Elaichi)  5 pods
Clove  (laung)   3 cloves
Cinnamon (Dal Chini)  ½ piece
Onion (Pyaz)  2, small, quartered
Ginger (Adrak)  1 inch piece
Yogurt (Dahi)  1 cup
Refined Flour (Maida)  1 tablespoon
Almonds     6, blanched, peeled and grind into a fine paste

Rub salt and turmeric to the cut pieces of fish. Set aside and let it stand for thirty minutes.
In a pan, heat clarified butter (ghee), once the ghee is hot, add in dried red chilli and the whole spices, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon.
Once the spices turn a shade darker, add in the onion, add in ½ teaspoon of turmeric and stir, allow the onion to brown.
Add in the fish and stir. Add in ½ cup water, stir and allow the fish to cook on a low flame for five minutes.
In a bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of refined flour with 1 cup yogurt. Whisk the mixture well.
Add in this yogurt mixture to the fish and stir well.
Allow the curry to simmer for three minutes.
Add in the almond paste, stir it in and allow it cook for another two minutes.
Put the fish pieces in the serving bowl.  Strain the curry before adding it to the fish in the serving bowl.
Serve hot with Luchi (Bengali Bread).

Five Things You Must Know To Get Your Tandoori Chicken Right

First: The reddish orange colour of Tandoori chicken is due to tandoori colouring that is frequently used to give tandoori chicken a more appetising appearance. The tandoori colouring does not affect the flavour of the tandoori chicken.
 Second: For the spice mixture to seep inside the chicken meat and flavour the chicken joint on the insides. Mix the marinade ingredients in a zip-lock plastic bag. Seal and shake until the ingredients are well mixed. Make deep incisions in the chicken joint. Rub in the marinade properly into the chicken pieces. Zip-lock the bag, remove all the excess air so the pieces are in contact with the marinade. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate from four to twenty four hours.

Third: Remove the excess marinade from the chicken by shaking it just before skewering it and placing it in the tandoor or the oven. This will prevent the excess marinade clinging on to the chicken from getting charred while cooking.
Fourth: While cooking, baste the chicken with butter or cooked mustard oil and the remaining marinade from time to time. This will keep the chicken moist on the inside. 
Fifth: To test if the tandoori chicken is done, insert a fork into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. It should go in with ease and the juices should run clear. Do not check before twelve minutes, inserting the fork several times in the chicken will make the chicken tough and dry.

Tandoori Chicken – Serves 4


Chicken (Murga)    1, cut into four joints: 2 leg and 2 Breast pieces
Ginger  (Adrak)     1 inch piece, grind into a thick paste
Garlic (Lehsun)       5 cloves, grind into a thick paste
Lemon (nimboo)     1, juice
Salt  (Namak)         to taste
Hung Curd (or Chakka)  ¼ cup, hang yogurt in a muslin cloth for an hour, to get rid of the excess                                               moisture.
Red Chilli Paste (lal Mirch)   1 Teaspoon, soak dried or fresh red chilli in some oil and then grind into a fine paste.
Mustard Oil  (Sarson Ka Tel)   2 tablespoons + for basting during cooking (cooked i.e. heat it until it smoke rises up from the surface)
Garam Masala powder         ½ teaspoon
Roasted Cumin powder (Bhuna Jeera powder)    ¼ teaspoon
Tomato      1, grind into a fine paste (Optional)

Take the chicken joints and make deep incisions with a sharp knife across the chicken joints for the marinade to seep inside the pieces.
1st Marination
 In a bowl, mix some lemon juice, salt, half the ginger-garlic paste. Rub in this mixture properly into the chicken joints so that the inside on the pieces are fully flavoured. Let the chicken marinate in this mixture for a half hour.
2nd Marination
In a bowl, mix the hung curd, the remaining ginger-garlic paste, red chilli paste, mustard oil, garam masala powder, roasted cumin powder and mix well to prepare the 2nd marinade.
To make the dish look more appetising, you can cut up one tomato, grind it into a paste and add to the marinade. I tried this, one tomato will not dominate the flavour of the spices, it helps in giving a nice reddish colour. This step is optional since it only affect colour of the cooked chicken.
Allow the chicken to marinate in this mixture for three to four hours or overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the more the flavours of the marinade will seep in. For better results, use freshly ground garam masala powder in the marinade.
Skewer the chicken pieces and cook it in a moderately hot tandoor or in a pre-heated oven at 200 Degree Celsius for twelve to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of the joints.
While cooking, baste the chicken with butter or cooked mustard oil and the remaining marinade from time to time. This will keep the chicken moist on the inside.
To check whether the chicken is fully cooked on the inside, insert a fork into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. It should go in with ease and the juices should run clear. However, the meat and juices nearest the bones might still be a little pink even though the chicken is cooked thoroughly.

When fully cooked, serve hot with onion rings and lime wedges.

Note: Chaat Masala may be added in the 2nd marinade along with the other spice mixtures.

If Only I knew How to Drive Unwanted Guests Away, I Wouldn’t Have Tried this Yummy Recipe

In my defence, I really wanted to have some yummy chicken for dinner and I did not know that people can be this annoying. You know those people who know that they are unwanted, you haven’t been in touch for long, you don’t have anything in common anymore and basically you just have to smile and nod while they go on about, well, I would know if I had been listening. I had never heard about this childhood friend from my father and after the dinner last night, I was pretty sure that I will not hear about him ever again. He had come to visit us with his son since the son had enrolled himself in the University in Pune. Honestly, from the moment I had heard about these popped out of the blue – don’t care about other people’s time visitors, I was not happy.  But, you know the miseries of a social being, I had to smile, be nice and cook up a delicious dinner.
My mother and I divided responsibilities, to avoid the third world war in our kitchen. My mother is a religious vegetarian so I was responsible for the chicken recipe. I wish I had cooked up a lousy dinner than try a recipe trying to ape the  utterly, butterly delicious chicken from Paramount, a reasonable joint in Mahim which serves the best butter chicken with butter rotis I have ever eaten in Mumbai. Even though I put up with hours of I am too good to be in this place talk from the duo that visited my house, I compensated by stuffing myself  the chicken I had cooked, I think we all did. So here is the recipe. Statutory Warning: This recipe makes stay longer and are likely to come back again. To drive them away you could try Bitter gourd kebabs or Kali Mirch Ladoos.
Utterly Butterly Delicious Chicken; The trick is lots of Butter (Serves 6)


Chicken, Boneless             600g, cut into cubes
Yogurt                               60g
Garlic-ginger paste             40g, fresh
Lime                                  1, juice
Red Chilli paste                  1 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder       1 teaspoon
Mustard Oil                        10ml, Cooked (Heated till it emits smoke)
Onion                                 2 large, thinly sliced
Tomato                              2 large
Tomato Puree                    60 ml
Black cardamom                2, roasted
Cinnamon                          ½ inch, roasted
Cashewnuts                       8, finely grind into a paste
Cream                                  20ml
Red Chilli powder              ½ teaspoon
Kasoori methi powder       1 teaspoon, roasted
Salt                                     to taste
Butter                                 100g
Oil for frying

Mix Yogurt, ginger garlic paste, red chilli paste, garam masala powder, salt, lime juice and mustard oil in a big bowl, whisk and add boneless chunks of chicken and marinate until you prepare the other ingredients.
Heat water in a deep, heavy bottom pan until it is boiling. While the water is getting heated, wash the tomatoes thoroughly, remove the eye and make a cross incision at the bottom of all five tomatoes. Once the water is boiling, pop in the tomatoes into the boiling water and allow them to cook for two minutes. Once the skin of the tomatoes separates from the flesh, remove the tomatoes, run them under cold water and peel out the skins. This process is called blanching the tomatoes. Now remove the seeds and chop the tomatoes finely.
Heat Oil for frying in a heavy bottom pan, check the oil by putting one slice of onion in, if it comes up instantly the oil is ready. Remove this slice of onion and add in the rest of the sliced onion and deep fry until golden brown. The onion should be evenly sliced, don’t over crowd the vessel for even frying. After the onion is golden brown, remove it, cool it and grind it with black cardamom and cinnamon.
In a pan, add butter and allow it to melt. Now, add in the onion mixture, add in the chopped tomatoes and allow it to cook on medium heat for three minutes. Now add in the tomato puree, red chilli powder and allow it to simmer for five to seven minutes. Once the onion tomato mixture leaves the sides, add in cashew paste, stir and simmer for another three minutes.
To cook the chicken pieces, melt butter in a pan and add the marinated cubes of chicken. Do not over crowd the pan, if required divide the chicken into two batches. Allow the chicken to brown, cook for three minutes and set aside. Chicken can also be grilled or cooked over burning charcoal for a smoky flavour.
Add the chicken to the curry, stir and for two minutes. Turn off the heat. Then add in the cream, sprinkle kasoori methi and add in the remaining butter, stir in and serve hot with Rotis or steamed rice.

This Dish reminds Me of a Very Special Friend

Like me, do you have that one friend with who you have laughed and cried? One who knows everything about you, well, almost everything! That friend who knows you and knows what is best for you and scolds when you have strayed. That friend who is still you partner in crime, the one with who you share your little secrets, your favourite shopping buddy. Well, Rachel to me is all that and more. There were some added advantages to this little friendship that began in our girl’s hostel in college, since Rachel is a Kerala girl she knew age ayurvedic remedies that would heal my black and blue bruises (the details of how I got them is our little secret), she would oil my hair and she makes the world’s best Prawn Moilee. We are both tied up now, we make sure to catch up a couple of times over the phone or internet but are work has taken us to different cities and really miss her yummy prawn moilee. So, as a dedication to my friend and the good times we have spent together and the our bond and friendship in the years to come, today I am cooking Rachel’s prawn moilee. The tangy tomatoes, the sweetness of coconut milk and the fragrance of curry leaves , I was mesmerised and I got a compliment from my sister, which, believe me is like getting a Grammy for Cooking in my world. I hope this recipe will earn you great taste and great compliments.

Rachel’s Prawn Moilee

Prawns              600g, cleaned and deveined
Onion              1 large and chopped
Tomato          2, chopped
Ginger           15g, grated
Curry leaves     6-8 nos.
Mustard Seeds     5g
Green Chilli       2, slit
Turmeric         5g
Salt                to taste
Black Pepper                 5g
Coriander powder       5g
Coconut Milk         100ml
Ghee                       10ml
Marinate prawns with salt, turmeric and ginger for half hour.
Steam prawns in a strainer placed over boiling water for three minutes until they turn white, set aside and do not overcook. Make sure the prawns are properly spread out.
Heat ghee in a pan, add mustard seeds, once the mustard seeds start crackling add curry leaves, add the slit green chilli, fry for one minute.
Add in the finely chopped onion, fry until light golden in colour. Then, add in the tomatoes, cook for about three to four minutes until the tomatoes are cooked.
Add in the prawns cook for one minute. Add the coconut milk, simmer for two minutes.
Serve hot with steamed rice.