Monday, 27 February 2012

Thai - The sensory high !

Exotic Thailand conjures up enigmatic visuals according to taste and temperament. To some the country is a fantasy of royalty in spirituality of gilded temples and palaces, to others a palm-fringed beach of snowy white sand, an exotic tribal village high in misty mountains or the brassy, cosmopolitan lure of Bangkok or even the exotic nightlife. All are valid enough as individual impressions, yet misleading in terms of the whole for Thailand, like the nation's food, is a complex mixture of flavors and the product of a unique history.

Thailand is not a very big nor a very rich country, but it is unique. It has a way of life that mixes ancient ritual with the ways of the modern world. Thailand is most fortunate, with both the land and surrounding seas yielding rich harvests. The staple, rice, is grown in abundance, as do the numerous varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices that enliven the Thai palate. Despite all the problems of the modern world Thailand still has much of old Siam.

The Thais are great eaters, not necessarily in quantity but in the way they relish their food, appreciating individual tastes and subtle combinations of dishes.

Thai cuisine as we know it today traces its history back into the far past and has undergone numerous changes and adaptations. It nevertheless retains its distinctiveness which makes Thai food highly popular among connoisseurs of fine dining the world over. Thai food will certainly bring an even wider appreciation of its many delights.

Welcome to one of the worlds great cuisines. This is food you can enjoy cooking as much as eating. Like the word 'Thai', which means 'free', Thai cooks are never rigid in their approach. So be flexible in your interpretation of the recipes, particularly when you are not always able to find every ingredient. Thai food combines the best of several eastern cuisines: the oriental bite of Sichuan Chinese, the tropical flavor of Malaysia, the creamy coconut sauces of southern Indian and the aromatic spices of Arabian food.

As Thai food is delicious, nutritious and easy to cook, it has become exponentially popular all over the world. The national style of cooking finds a well deserved place in global culinary culture due to its unique combination of spicy-salty-sweet-sour taste of this very special Asian cuisine. The present day cities throughout the world have more new Thai restaurants which skillfully combine and refine the available ingredients along with traditional ones resulting in dishes with exciting character.

The people of Thailand do not use knives and forks but forks and spoons, holding the fork in their left hand to help get the food onto the right-hand-held spoon. Each spoonful should be moderately filled to conform with accepted custom. Eating by stuffing the mouth full is considered impolite. There shouldn't be any sound of scraping the utensils on the plate nor should there be grains of rice on the lips. The Thais do not scoop portions onto their plates as home style serving in the west tends to do. They share from a common dish, taking only enough for a bite or two at a time. This way one avoids seeming too greedy and everyone has an ample share of each dish.

The ideal Thai meal aims at being a harmonious blend of the spicy, the sweet, and the sour and is meant to be satisfying to the eye, nose, and palate. Mouth-watering, different, Thai food is basically 'chilli hot' at times blended with subtle additions of locally grown roots, grasses, and aromatic herbs to lessen the 'bite'. The use of spices and aromatic plants such as sweet basil, mint and galangal which enhances the flavor of Thai dishes. Thai food appeals to more than taste alone, it is infact a sensory high !

A dish should appeal equally well to the eye and most as well as the taste buds. Thai food is an original and rich amalgamation of evocative aromas, subtle blends of herbs and spices and contrast in textures and tastes. A single-word summation of Thai food would not be 'heat' but 'harmony', a harmony of tastes, colors, and textures designed to appeal to both the eye and palate. Besides the qualities of pleasant appearance and excellent taste, Thai food is recognized as one of the most outstanding culinary creations in the world.

A few ingredients that cannot be substituted are: coriander root which is used both as an ingredient in the cooking and part of many marinades; coriander leaves which are used for cooking and garnishing. The 'Nam Pla', a fish sauce which adds saltiness and bring out the finer flavors of other ingredients. Coriander is an acquired taste and although parsley is sometimes suggested in recipes as an acceptable substitute, its use will certainly result in a great loss of 'Thai-ness' in the cooking.

The Thai prefer to eat polished rice, tending to look down on untreated rice as inferior. Long grain rice is cooked, usually steamed to a light and fluffy texture with out the use of additives such as salt, the seasonings and spicy sauces being served seperately and added according to individual taste.

A large container of rice is always the centerpiece. Surrounding the large central bowl of rice there will be several dishes offering a balanced selection of flavors and textures. In addition to the rice, a typical meal might include a soup; tom yum, a curry; gaeng, fresh vegetables; yam, a fried dish; phad, a spicy hot dipping sauce; nam prig and a steamed one. The soup is served together with the other dishes whereas western customs is to serve the soup to start.

A full composition of a typical Thai meal would be rice, curry, soup, fried dish, salad, dipping sauce with fresh vegetables, steamed or grilled dish, solid dessert, liquid dessert and mixed fruits.

                          Koong phad kraphaw; shell lobster with chilli and holy basil

                                                         Tom yum soup

                                        Phad phak ruam mit; stir fried vegetables

                                    Kaenu khieuwan kai, chicken in thai green curry

                                               Mee krob; crispy thai glass noodles

                       Phad thai; aromatic thai rice-stick noodles with roasted peanuts

         Sang khaya fak thong; fresh pumpkin and coconut custard in lemon grass cannoli

By : Devraj Halder

The Health Revolution

Health issues and healthy eating habits have been climbing up our priority list at a feverish pace.  The awareness of the issue has never been so remarkable. A person may be at 60 or at 16, this one priority is common atleast and that is to keep in shape. This infact is good news to us chefs too, as the recognition of our jobs have increased multifold. We are no longer forced to cook oil-laden food, heavy gravies and kill the food in the name of cooking.  We can do subtle things and still keep the cash register ringing.  

Chefs now can also do different things and do them differently. The discerning clients know their food, which make the job even more interesting as well as challenging. It is also a huge responsibility to keep the health food healthy, as it is quite simple to turn the subject into a marketing jargon.

The health revolution is here to stay and it better be for the good. When you encounter or look for health food, it is my earnest request to all you intelligent folks to ask questions, please don’t get carried away but read between the lines. Pry whether the health product suits your specific need, look at the list of contents in detail, check whether the cooking medium or cooking process negates the health benefit of the ingredients in a restaurant menu or not. Read more about the ingredients, dissect fad diets to know your-specific advantage in them. Don't just get way led by Organic, Natural, GM and other labels. It is good to be aware, that way you get more value for your money.

It is also heartening to see that the palette makeover has given us Indians a pivotal advantage. Sandwiched between Asian gourmet cuisines and that of rest of the world and with our very own deep-rooted cuisine/s, we are at an envious position, no wonder the upsurge in global reverence and all the signs of emergence of an increasingly elite status for our country, our food and the way we eat. We surely are poised, poised  to embrace a healthier lifestyle and derive much more fulfillment, that way we do squeeze out more from life. After all that is exactly why we live ! …to eat !!

By : Devraj Halder

Friday, 17 February 2012

Yin & Yang ; Holistic balance of food and body

The essentials of Yin-Yang school of thought are divided into two opposite principles, which oppose one another in their actions. Yin-Yang and the five material agents can explain all changes in the universe. Yin-Yang denotes the sense of continual, cyclic and constant movements of these two energies; yin to yang and yang to yin causing everything to happen and no one principle dominates the other or determines the other: just as things expand and contract, temperatures change from hot to cold. Since no principle dominates eternally, this means that all conditions are subject to change into their opposites which also means that all phenomenon have within them the seeds of their opposite state, i.e., sickness has the seed of health and health has the seeds of sickness. This is called “presence in absence”.

The traditional symbol of the forces of Yin and Yang, sometimes describe as two fish swimming head to tail. The concept of Yin-Yang relates to food as food always have a sense of balance in colour, flavour and textures. Certain foods are believed to be Yin or cooling properties while others have warm, Yang properties. The challenge is to consume a diet that has a healthy balance between the two. When treating illness, an oriental physician will frequently advise dietary changes in order to restore a healthy balance between the Yin and Yang in the body. In traditional Chinese, food is used to treat the body as diet, tonic, medicine and abstention.

The concept is exemplified in cooking methods as well, while Yin denotes boiling, poaching, braising and steaming, Yang exists in deep-frying, roasting, grilling and stir-frying. Certain foods like bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots, crab, tofu, duck are Yin foods while meat, eggs, ginger, mushrooms, wine, sesame oil is Yang foods.

The Yin-Yang concept can be thought of as simply a way to keep life in balance with healthier fare, which compliments each other to connect the opposing forces. It is like the law of averages, all detours need to culminate and neutralize each other, that is the only way to achieve harmony, balance and health. 

By : Devraj Halder

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Tribal Cuisines of Uttrakhand

Tribal Cuisines of Uttrakhand bring you some never before experienced flavours from the lap of nature, abode of the great Himalayas and the holy beaches of Ganga. This is food of the 'Dev Bhoomi', the unexplored cuisines of Uttrakhand. It is like an auspicious expedition to explore the land of the gods, a cuisine so appealing that it makes it a heavenly experience.

The land belongs mostly to the Pahari, Garhwal and Kumaon regions of Uttrakhand. The food is extremely nutritious to suit the high energy requirements of the hilly and cold climes. The food is cooked traditionally with love and affection over charcoal or wood fire.

The food of this Dev Bhoomi is highly influenced by the topography and lifestyle of the people. The culture of the people can be found extravagantly in their festive food. People of Uttaranchal are fond of both vegetarian a well as non vegetarian food. The characteristic feature of tribal cuisines of Uttrakhand is the sparing use of milk and milk products. This is due to the fact that in most regions of Garhwal and Kumaon the cows do not yield good quantity of milk. Rice is the staple food of the people, but the favorites are the lentils. The most famous dish is Bhatt (a variety of soya bean) and the rust brown Gahat also called Kulath. Among other lentils delight are large dried balls of urad dal, called badis and their smaller version prepared from moong dal called mangodi. These delights are consumed mostly during the winter seasons.
One of the common culinary delight of Uttrakhand comprise Munduva (buckwheat), which is a coarse grain with high fibre content. The use of tomato is minimal and food is essentially cooked in mustard oil or pure ghee. Very interestingly, hash seeds, locally known as Bhanga are used as spices.

The popular sip is Jaya; a salted tea, Chaans Dunghar; butter milk tempered with chives is great to start a meal with. Appetizers include Birude; a tangy preparation of black channa and peas, Panchola; a tender lamb in local spices is quite an experience. Bhutwa are lamb intestines cooked in local spices on charcoal heat.
Bhatt ki chatkaney is soybean tempered in ghee along with onions and garlic in a gravy, served with rice. Pahadi karele ki subji are from thorny karelas cooked dry in tangy masala preparation, Haalang ki subji is local green vegetable cooked in buttermilk, Dhare ki subji is colocasia roots cooked in a traditional recipe, Toopki; whole spinach leaves cooked in iron wok and stirred continuously until smooth in texture. Palyoo is a delicious local curry made out of buttermilk. Other vegetarian repertoire also includes; Aloo ke Gutke, Sani hui Muli and Nimbu, Singodi, Kumaoni Raita, Kandalee ka Saag, Kaafli and Kulath Phanu.

Rice preparations include Bhaat a steamed red rice, Zaula; Rice cooked in buttermilk and Khaza which is a sweetened rice. Breads include Seeyal; made out of ground rice, Madé; a bread made out of rice flour batter, Puwa of rice flour. Roté is a bread made out of wheat flour, jaggery, milk and deep fried. Quaraal ka raita are flowers of a local tree blanched and mixed in sour buttermilk.
The popular Bhang ki chutney is a dip made with hash seeds. Til ki chutney is a flavourful sesame seed chutney, Kumouni raita is made with cucumber and tempered with mustard. Desserts include; Bal Mithai; a local sweet from the region, Arsa and Gulgul; Jhangora Ki Kheer.

What makes the food of Uttrakhand such a delight is the way the people of the state present it and the sincere hospitality with which they treat their guests.

The majestic himalayascapes of Uttrakhand bring you these rather aromatic and earthy delicacies from the simple abode of the tribes who live here. 

By : Devraj Halder
N.B. : I thank my friends Sukhangad and Sunil for their contributions.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Horoscope Cuisine - Food for the person in you !

Just as your date of birth has destined you to be under the influence of one(or more) of the sun signs, similarly it is very interesting to note that certain food ingredients are destined to be suitable and good for the person in you or the personality in you, as influenced by your governing sun sign.
These are foods, preparations and eating habits which your personality can easily relate to or connect with.  The sign of zodiac you are born determines not only the character but also the taste. Every sign prefers certain food. The choice of right nutrition assures the health and long life.

Horoscope menus connect your traits and habits to the food which is meant for you. Sun sign food is best absorbed by the respective individuals. One's astrological chart describes his/her unique constitutional makeup. The Sun is our most powerful luminary which governs your individuality, distinctive style and the drive to fulfill your goals in life. It is your essence, the person you know yourself to be. The Sun Sign outlines the first broad strokes as the artist's brush. Take a look at the prelude:

Arians.. stress induced eating adds unwanted pounds for you.. so relax and eat. Also having invited Aries, you should better cook juicy meat with hot spices. Don’t forget about vegetables! As to dessert, serve outlandish sweets and fruits. Taurus.. must know when to stop while eating, as gluttony is a major sin. You may frequently find yourself fighting the battle of the bulge. Geminis.. are not interested in quantity, but in variety. You eat meals on the run and love junk food rather than eating one large meal, try eating several smaller meals a day.  Cancerians.. by nature, are the slaves of the stomach. Stay away from spicy, highly seasoned foods because of a tendency towards stomach inflammation. Leos.. love luxury. So, having invited them over for dinner, you should be ready to pay up for the dainties and complete the feast with classical music and extend a hearty welcome. Eating well is part of enjoying a good life for Leos and you love great meals and fine wine. Virgos.. are not gourmets; they are indifferent to the table groaning with delicacies. For Librans.. the meal does not matter, but the ambiance and the feeling of harmony does. Balance is the key to a Libran’s health: balanced diet, balanced work with recreation, balanced relationships. Moderation is essential for your health.  They like different salads and exquisite sauces. Scorpions..your emotions have a powerful impact on your health and past emotional issues may be affecting you now. Scorpios like spicy dishes with pronounced taste. Sagittarians.. are considered veritable gourmet. They are fond of any dish, and love to make a journey across different cuisines of the world. Capricorn.. has only one demand: food must be tasty. Overall, you are strong and enduring. Your health improves as you age. Aquarians.. prefer the natural party to the official dinner. They are unpretentious in their culinary passions. Aquarians belong to the category of people who should exclude all sweets from their menu. Pisceans.. get food poisoning most of all. Pisceans function best with a high protein diet that is low in fat and sugar.
The fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, and are considered to possess the most energy and vitality of all the signs. The air signs, Gemini, Libra  and Aquarius, are considered the second most vital, though more reactive to external stimuli. The water signs, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, are more changeable and emotionally reactive. The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, and possess great steadiness and endurance, though not the vital spark of fire or air.
The maintenance of health is a process of constant readjustment to change. All of us tend to experience periods of excess or deficiency of our constitutional element, which require adjustment of diet, lifestyle or even supplementation.

HOROSCOPE CUISINE addresses the issue with variety, exciting and tasty food. Your-specific menu by no means is a binding.  After a horoscope meal you definitely feel the extra dose of pride, self esteem and poise !

By : Devraj Halder

Delhi Delights

Delhi, Dilli or Dehli , the national capital gets its name from the Persian word Dahleez meaning frontier or threshold. Over the centuries, Delhi has changed hands, and served as a frontier or threshold of India to Rajputs, Arabs, Afghans, Mughals, English and not to forget the immigrants from Punjab and Sindh Districts.

The history of Delhi has given the city a transient personality which is observed in the culture, people, places and the food. Delhi is also arguably the food capital of India. The city is crawling with restaurants of all variety and vintage.

Mughlai cuisine is unsurpassed in Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s city, now called the Old Delhi. Karim’s, Babu Khan’s near Jama Masjid, Kallu’s Haleem, Nalli Nahari, Stews, Korma, Chicken Fry and offcourse the Biryani’s. They take fierce pride in having successfully preserved the culture of the Mughlai cuisine in face of the Tandoori onslaught.

Delhi brings you traditional preparations from Chandini Chowk which is still revered as the best place to sample foods from the Mughlai cuisine, be it main course, sweets or snacks. Chandini Chowk has also managed to hang on tenaciously and determinedly to that unique charm from another era. Most of the shops here date from the previous century. Chaat, the quintessential appetizers need no introduction and we would have the bhalla papdis along with tikkis and chilas also with exotic fares like palak patta, stuffed fruits, shakarkandi ki chaat, raj kachori, lacha tokri, dal moth so on and so forth. It is also the right kind of weather for the Chole Bhature and Aloo Bedwins. The Indian masala corn on the cob or bhutta and Delhi’s very own stuffed bread pakodas is something you surely will relish.

There is Paranthewali Gali which is said to have been officially brought to Delhi by the Punjabis, but unofficially it had been eaten in Delhi for ages. For Punjabi food like the ones in Pandara Road and Karol Bagh there is fare to greet.

Sweets of Delhi at Ghantewala Halwai, you can relish the sohan halwa, shahi halwai, karachi halwa, barfis and namkeens. Also need to mention the Desi Ghee Ka Jaleba, Daulat Ka Chaat, Rabdi Falooda. More Punjabi fare of sweets would include Gajar Halwa, Moong Dal Halwa, Kesar Doodh, Dodha, Pinni, Atte Ka Laddoo, Malpua, Imarti. the list is long and the sweets on offer are truly heritage.

The traditional cuisine of Delhi takes you through a nostalgic journey of food, aroma, culture and heritage.

By : Devraj Halder

Friday, 10 February 2012

Khad - The Earth Cuisine !

Khad or ‘earth’ cuisine developed in one of the hottest corners of India in Rajasthan. It is a type of dessert cuisine also practiced by the nomadic tribes of  Rann of Kutch. There is evidence that the cuisine was also practiced in the Multan region which is now in Pakistan. The name also originates from the 'pit method of preparation'. In times when cows were plentiful but refrigerators not invented,  milk and its products had to be used up quickly. Khad cuisine use limited water and natural resources. Instead of water which is scarce, sweet buttermilk is used to make gravies and sauces in many of the dishes.
The cuisine is nutritious and filling. Besides onion and tomato, spices like cardamom, mace, bayleaf and cloves as masala are used. This cuisine is unique in aesthetic appeal and tastes are different and unusual. The dishes are cooked and served in mud pots.
The winters are here and it is a great opportunity to enjoy some earthy food. The spices, rich flavours and aroma make it a unique experience.

The cuisine showcases earthy preparations like ; Zamin Doz Machli ( exotic preparation of fish cooked in the earth ), Mutton Khad Keema (slow cooked meat in the traditional way served dry and spicy), Jungli Murgh (spring chicken flavored with cardamom, mace and saffron cooked in its own juice), Sondhi Subzi (earth fragrant melange of vegetables ), Multani Aloo (stuffed potatoes roasted in a clay oven), Kaer Sangri (desert berries and pods ), Matki Dal (math dal;  in a distinct taste and flavor), Bajre Ki Roti ( millet bread ), Pathar Ki Makki Roti ( corn bread cooked on a stone ), Lapsi ( broken wheat pudding )

Sondhi Subzi (Earth fragrant melange of vegetables )

By : Devraj Halder

Flavours from Karaikudi

Karaikudi is the largest city in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu known as the capital of Chettinad because of the predominance of ‘nattu kottai chettiars’ who have  ventured far and wide to set up their businesses since the turn of the 20th century.

Chettinad also translates to ‘chetti land’, the ancestral abode of the chettiyars.

Their type of cooking is also called as ‘Achi Samayal’. The foods are cooked with special masalas using a unique processes.
Karaikudi specialities are; Masala Cheeyam, Kozhi Varuval, Attu Kari Milaku, Karaikudi Meen, Adhirasam, Mochai Kulambu, Mutdai Kosh Poriyal, Keerai Vathakkal, Vengaya Thiyal, Kandharappam, Thalicha Idiyappam, Veechu Parotta, Paladai Dosai, Paniyaram, Chettinadu Kapi, just to name a few.  

Earthenware, curries, poultry, seafood, grills, vegetarian delights, local breads, rustic preparations, sweets and coffee are part of a fabulous dining experience called Karaikudi.  
Spice blends are skillfully orchestrated to bring you the aromas which are worth remembering and takes you through another culinary quest and nostalgic journey of the heritage cuisines of India 

Vazhakkai Vada ( Serves  10 )

Skinned Raw Banana ( small pcs )                    01 kg
Soaked Dhuli Urad Dal ( paste )                          400  gms
Coconut Oil                                                                     to temper
Mustard Seeds                                                              01 tbsp
Fresh Curry Leaves                                                     02 tbsp
Dry Red Chilli ( small pcs )                                      01 tbsp
Cashewnut broken                                                     04 tbsp
Turmeric Powder                                                         01 tsp
Salt                                                                                       to taste
Lemon Juice                                                                    half lemon
Refined Oil                                                                       to deep fry


Take the coconut oil in a thick bottomed kadhai, add mustard, curry leaf, red chilli, cashewnut and turmeric. Add the banana and salt. Cover and cook till the banana is soft. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Cool the sautéed banana, mash it lightly with a fork and mix it with the dal paste nicely . Make nice round dumplings and deep fry in refined oil. Serve immediately with a chutney of your choice.

By : Devraj Halder

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Murshidabad Cuisine - From the Kingdom of Murshid Quli Khan !

The heroics of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan and how in 1704 the nawab changed the seat of power from Dhaka to this district on the banks of the river Ganges is a tale etched in history. Even after the fall off Bengal to the British, Murshidabad still held on.

Murshad Quli Khan aide to  Emperor Aurangzeb is the true founder of this ancient district. The Murshidabad Palace among many other royal buildings from this era still stand tall and is a magnificient piece of Italian architecture known from its times.

The cuisine of Murshidabad is distinct. The royal cuisine of the nawabs and the delicacies of Bengal have amalgamated over the centuries to a truly rich heritage cuisine with amazing earthy flavors. The influence of the Mughals can be distinctly seen in the preparation of mutton in Murshidabad. The cuisine also show glimpses how the expensive and rich ingredients used by the Mughals were toned down and improvised by the natives of this land in a cost effective fashion resulting in what surfaced as the delectable Murshidabadi cuisine. We see succulent potatoes in the meat curries, there is abundant milk used in sweets, the nuts have got replaced at places with poppy seeds and all this without diminishing the heavenly taste and aromas of the food. Traditional desserts were basically prepared with the pastes of jaggery and sugar. The usage of milk has been gradually increased along with cream sugar and expensive spices like saffron and cardamom. Murshidabad is also known for its mangoes, litchis and silk. 

This amazing cuisine from a glorious era includes; Tikia, Jhal Tengra, Dar Chini Gosht, Dhuki Haser Gosht, Tok Murgi, Murgir Korma, Shiraji Murgir Goleya, Oal Korma, Tostori Mocha, Lal Bagh Mushur Dal, Murshidabad Murgir Biryani, Seekh Kebab, Badi Pholodi, Kolayar Dal, Chitua, Shiraj Porota, Chana Boda, Chanar Polao, Poshto Halwa. Some recipes are as below :

Tok Murgi (  Serves Four )

Chicken ( Cut into small pcs.)  01 kg.
Onion Sliced                           300 gms
Mustard Oil                            50 ml
Jeera Powder                         20 gms
Dhaniya Powder                     20 gms
Haldi Powder                          10 gms
Red Chilli Powder                  10 gms
Green Chilli Slit                     04 nos.
Tamarind Pulp                        100 gms
Ginger Garlic Paste               50 gms
Salt                                          To taste
Whole Garam Masala           25 gms

Preparation :

In a thick bottomed vessel, pour the mustard oil, garam masala add onion, sauté till golden brown.
Add the chicken and sear for 05 mins. Add ginger garlic paste and powdered spices along with the pulp. Cover with lid and allow to cook till tender. Put green chilli slice and salt to taste. Sprinkle with chopped coriander before serving.

Postor Halwa ( Serves Four )

Khus Khus                              01 kg
Khoya                                     100 gms
Milk                                        150 gms
Sugar                                      250 gms
Cardamom                              04 nos.
Saffron                                    01 gm
Ghee                                       200 gms
Preparation :

Take a vessel, put the ghee, add green cardamom. Now add khus khus paste. Saute it till the raw smell of khus khus disappears. Gradually add milk and khoya along with the sugar syrup. Cook till the ghee leaves the sides of the vessel. Garnish with saffron.

Tikia ( Serves Four ) 

Lamb Minced                                       500 gms
Ginger & Garlic Paste                           50 gms
Chopped Onion                                    100 gms
Matar Dal ( Dried Peas); Soaked and Ground   100 gms
Chopped Green Chillies                        25 gms
Raw Papaya Paste                                50 gms
Salt                                                      to taste
Ghee                                                    To Shallow Fry

Preparation :

Mix all the ingredients and keep it aside for atleast 02 hrs.
Divide the mixture into 20 roundels. Flatten them with wet hands and shallow fry in desi ghee.

Murshidabad Murgir Korma ( Serves Four )

Chicken ( Cut into small pcs.)               01 kg.
Tamarind Pulp                                      200 ml
Brown Onion Paste                              200 gms
Cashewnut Paste                                  100 gms
Poppy Seed Paste                                50 gms
Ginger & Garlic Paste                           50 gms
Salt                                                      To taste
Ghee                                                     200 ml
Whole Garam Masala                           30 gms
Saffron                                                 01 gm

Preparation :

Heat desi ghee in a pan, add the garam masala. Add the tamarind pulp and the four pastes. Cook on medium flame. Add the chicken and little water. Add salt. Cook till the chicken is tender and the gravy is aromatic. Add saffron to finish. Serve with steamed Gobindo Bhog Rice.

                                                                       Tok Murgi

By : Devraj Halder

Anglo-Indian Cuisine

The Anglo Indians, off springs of a confluence between the British soldiers during the early day of East India Company in India and the native Indian women, were till 1911, universally known as Eurasians. For occupational purposes and as a point of differentiation from the Europeans and the Indians, they were designated Statutory Natives of India; while for the defence of Empire purposes, they were called European British Subjects.
The Anglo-Indians were more "Anglo" than "Indian". They spoke English and followed Christianity. There was a visible influence of Christianity in their customs and traditions. While most of them married within their own Anglo-Indian circle, there were many who continued to marry expatriate Englishmen. Very few, if any, married Indians. The same rigid social barriers that the British erected between themselves and the Anglo-Indians, also existed to isolate the Anglo-Indians from the vast majority of Indians.
Their so called supremacy over the native Indians however, took a jolt when India finally broke the shackles of slavery and walked into freedom on 15 August 1947. The British packed their bags and their memories—and went home to "Blighty".
There were however, some 300,000 odd people of European and Indian descent, who were not happy to see the back of the British. These were the Anglo Indians, left in a twilight zone of uncertainty, with the British Empire making no effort to offer its swarthier sons any hospitality in the land where their forefathers had been born.
Many Anglo-Indians, apprehensive of changes that would surely come with India’s independence, chose to leave India. The 1950s and 1960s saw a steady stream of departures as about 150,000 Anglo-Indians, seeking wider horizons and better job prospects, emigrated to Australia, Britain, Canada, the US and New Zealand.
Those who decided against migrating, did not have a choice, but to merge with the socio-cultural fabric of the developing India. And some of the most glorious results of this assimilation took shape in the kitchen, the territory of the memsahib (Lady of the house) and her trusted Khansamah (cook).
The Anglo-Indian Cuisine is an amalgamation of the tastes and spices of the region. The recipes take the best of both European and Indian cuisine with some alteration by adding or substituting some of the ingredients so that a completely different cuisine evolved over hundreds of years. The very popular Vindaloo, Bebinca and Dodol are legacies of the Portugese, while the Roasts, Bakes, Bacon and Eggs are typically British.
The very nomenclature of the dishes is unique and synonymous with the Anglo-Indian Community's vocabulary. The normally bland western cuisine was given a dash of exotic Indian flavour. Thus a completely new contemporary cuisine came into existence making it truly “Anglo” and “Indian” in nature, which was neither too bland nor too spicy, but with a distinctive flavour of its own. It became a direct reflection of the multi-cultural and hybrid heritage of the new colonial population. Many of the dishes have a unique history. The very popular and familiar curry dish “Vindaloo” is derived from the Portugese word Vinha De Alhos, i.e. from the two main ingredients in it, which were "Vinho", meaning wine or wine vinegar and "Alhos", meaning garlic. It was originally a vinegar and garlic-based watery stew made with pork or meat in Portugal. However after the Portugese introduced it in India, it was completely revamped with the addition of spices and chilies and over the years it has become one of the spiciest and most popular curry dishes all over the world.
Grandma's Country Captain Chicken was a very popular dish during Colonial times since it was very easy to prepare. In those days, the poultry used in its preparation were authentic well-fed, homegrown country chickens, which would take at least two hours to cook over a firewood oven, but the curry when done, would be rich and delicious. Mulligatawny Soup was also very popular during the Raj Era. It was the anglicised version of the Tamil “Melligu-Thani”- Melligu meaning pepper and “Thani” meaning water. As the name suggests, it was originally Pepper Water. However in course of time a lot of other ingredients, such coconut, meat and other spices were added to give it a completely different flavour. The dish quickly became popular throughout the colonies of the Common Wealth.
However, over a period of time, the authentic Anglo Indian dishes are hard to find and the rich variety of the cuisine threatens to disappear into oblivion.

Let us take a quick look at some heritage menu selections :


By : Devraj Halder              

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Coffee Experience

Coffee seems to be such an indispensable companion and occupies such a pivotal role in society. Some say, a lot can happen over coffee and some say, a cup of coffee and I can rule the world. Even in ancient Greece the man had to keep the coffee pot full or the woman would walk out on him !

Be it a business rendezvous or the wake up call for a fresh new morning, an intimate date or reverie in solitude, meaningful reading or serious brain storming or just to recharge your batteries, coffee’s the call… 
The very aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans have paved success stories from Starbucks to now-so-many coffee chains just next door. The humble coffee houses of yester years have now transformed into flashy coffee joints which make that cool-style-statement.

From Illy coffees, cappuccinos, café au lait, frappuccinos, you don’t just see the creamy-frothy peak you actually follow it all the way down to the bottom of the mug ! Short macchiatto or espresso or even exclusive ranges of iced coffees feel different.  Speciality coffees?.. look for flavors like madagascar vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, liqueur-chocolate, hazelnut or special blends for the season like Citrus Hints, Monsoon Blends or Date-out.
Premium biscottis, mandazi, beignets, croissants, french hearts, bagels, cinnabons give great company to your coffee. Afterall we are still talking about the experience !

By : Devraj Halder

Love Food - The Aphrodisiacs Quotient !

Love food or aphrodisiacs have a firm scientific basis. Spices have aromas which ensure invigorating romantic encounters.  Arabs had their Perfumed Gardens and Indians their Kama Sutra, each of which extolled favored spices such as nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and ginger, Romans favored cinnamon and pepper, Chinese, their ginger.
The essential oils and terpenoid alcohols of spices contribute to their smell, taste and tactile sensation, hence their love potency. Eugenol in cinnamon, clove and pimento has anesthetic effect. Menthol from mints have a cooling effect. Anise contains anethole, cinnamon produces cinnamaldehyde, ginger contains gingerols, mace contains myristin, pepper contains piperine, vanilla contains the widely loved vanillin, saffron contains picrocrocin. Other aphros include garlic, rosemary and thyme,basil, carrot, salvia, gladiolus root, orchid bulbs, pistachio, arugula, sage, turnips, skink flesh (a type of lizard) and river snails
Food was not so readily available as it is today. Undernourishment creates a loss of libido as well as reduces fertility rates.   Substances that by nature represent seed or semen such as bulbs, eggs, snails were considered inherently to have sexual powers. Other types of foods were considered stimulating by their physical resemblance to genitalia.
Phallic shaped, eating asparagus for three days is said to give  the most powerful affect.
Symbol of fertility throughout the ages.  The aroma is thought to induce passion in a female.
Sexual stimulant used in Ayurvedic medicine.
The Aztecs called the avocado tree Ahuacuatl which translated means testicle tree, due to their resemblance to the male testicles.  This is a delicious fruit with a sensuous texture.
Phallic shaped banana flower, rich in potassium and B vitamins,necessities for sex hormone.
Sweet Basil
Stimulates sex drive, boost fertility and a general sense of well being for body and mind.

Referred as ‘nourishment of the Gods’. Contains theobromine  to effect neurotransmitters in the brain. Chocolate contains more antioxidant than does red wine.
Phallus shaped, stimulant to male, high in vitamins and beta-carotene, aids seduction.
Caffeine is a well-know stimulant but too much becomes a depressant. 
Source of natural plant estrogens.
Open fig emulates the female sex organs and is a sexual stimulant.  A man breaking open a fig and eating it in front of his lover is a powerful erotic act.
The 'heat' in garlic stirs sexual desire.Cures everything from common cold to heart ailment.
Ginger root raw, cooked or crystallized is a stimulant to the circulatory system.
Egyptian cures for sterility and impotence.
Mustard and Mustard Greens
Stimulates the sexual glands and increase desire.
Chinese women prize it as an aphrodisiac.  Can produce hallucinogenic effect.
Aphrodisiac of Romans. Oyster resembles the female genitals, are very nutritious and high in protein.
Pine Nuts
Zinc is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency and pine nuts are rich in zinc.
Rich in vitamin C and and is used in the homeopathic treatment for impotence.
Raspberries and Strawberries
Perfect foods for hand feeding your lover. Both invite love and are described in erotic literature as ‘fruit nipples’ Both are high in vitamin C.
The Greeks and the Romans considered the rare Truffle to be an aphrodisiac.  The musky scent is said to stimulate and sensitize the skin to touch.
The scent and flavor of vanilla is believed to increase lust.
A glass or two of wine can greatly enhance a romantic interlude.  Wine relaxes and helps to stimulate senses.  A moderate amount of wine has been said to ‘arouse’ but much more than that amount with have the reverse affect.

Aphrodisiacs Menu 

Double Consomme with Winter Truffles and Cognac 

                Mutton Paya Yakhni                    

Fragant Vegetable Broth with Ginseng  and Ashwagandha 

Silken Soup with Asparagus Spears and Roasted Almonds 

Hearty Fried Garlic and Tomato Soup with Fresh Sprigs of Basil 

Forest Mushroom Soup with Warm Truffle Oil  

Cold starters

Fresh Oysters with Lime and Dutch Caviar

Sashimi of Selected Red Tuna, White Scallops, Salmon and Crab Stick   

Aphro-Caesar Salad served with Pancette, Cognac-Roasted Garlic Dressing
and Kalamata Olive Biscotti

Avocado, Cherry Mozzarella and Plum Tomato Salad in Tangerine Dressing

Hot Starters

Charcoal Roasted Prawns with Grilled Asparagus and Fennel Balsamico

Turkey Benedict
-topped with poached eggs, grilled Asparagus and Truffle Hollandaise and caviar

Pinenut Filled Mutton Kibbeh seved with Pita Bread and Lebneh

Skillet Grilled Almond Kebabs     

Asafoetida Fragrant Black Soybean Falafel filled with Sultana

Fig Filled Tandoori Mushrooms  

Main Course

Lobster and Mushroom Casserole in Champagne Sauce

Basa Fish Almendrado served with Fresh Fennel   

Sorshe Illish
-celebrity Indian salmon from the eastern coast in a spicy mustard gravy

Garlic Fragrant Eel Fish with Fresh Vegetables   

Feta and Spinach Filled Poached Chicken Breast
served with Citrus fruits and Fresh Strawberry Veloute     

Gucchi Bhara Tandoori Murgh
-chicken drumsticks filled with morel mushrooms, served with khurmi naan        

Zaffrani Mutton Nalli Ki Nahari
- lamb shanks in a saffron infused gravy   

Tian of Winter Carrots served with Gorgonzola Cheese Risotto and Saffron Sauce 

Rotolo of Vegetables served on Creamed Palm Hearts     

Sarson Ka Saag
- mustard greens tempered with garlic served with unleavened corn bread 

Shakahari Sangam
-combination of five potent vegetables in an Indian preparation


Cold Buckwheat noodles with Sweet Miso Salmon and Wakame  

Arabic Bariyani with Apricot and Pinenuts and Tender Chicken  

Mutton Sweet Bread Yakhni Pulao 

Guchi Badam Adraki Pulao     

Kesari Bhath
-hearty saffron rice with dried fruit


Melting Hot Chocolate Pudding Topped with Fresh Strawberries 

Champagne Zabaglioni served with Raspberries   

Homemade Tiramisu served with Cinnamon Fingers    

Honey Glazed Banana with Caramelized Ginger and Light Vanilla Gelato 

Red Wine Steeped Fresh Figs with Light Vanilla Gelato 

Aphro Sundae
with honey glazed pineapple, fresh strawberries, almond brownie,
black currant gelato, saffron and pistachio gelato       

 By : Devraj Halder