From my kitchen

(my most significant contributions to mankind…thus far!)

 

This is a tribute to my MOM who happens to be the only woman in my life who cooks for me whenever I am around (I cook for the rest!!)


Listen, what I have to say…

For me, cooking is a way of relaxation and a source of immense satisfaction. I do not eat much (hey I have to watch my weight), nor do I support or encourage gluttony. My philosophy is that if one is healthy - that is, hasn't already damaged one's health to the extent that the diet is restricted - one should eat everything (that is why I do not try diet stuff), of course not in excessive quantity and should do physical exercise, even if it is for half an hour a day, to live a healthy and spirited life.

Having been raised in a culture in which cooking and eating take considerable time and effort in a typical household (I wonder if there is a way to measure the extent of this household production by how much India's GDP would go up every year!), I understand and appreciate the importance of good food for survival. As a kid, I had hardly paid any attention to food so much so that if I were the first to eat a meal my mom would not be sure about the quality and the taste of food until somebody else tried it. As I left home - supposedly for bigger and better purposes in life, I barely improved. It was my younger brother - who often relieves my mom and my sister-in-law from cooking - who, when he had to live with me for a stint of two years away from home, empathetically criticized my disinterest in food and taught me how to cook 'somewhat decent' food.

It was only after I moved to the U.S. I gained confidence in cooking when my Bengali friends (Bengalis - people from the Indian state of West Bengal, are known to be connoisseurs of food… I needed endorsement from Indians and they happened to be these Bengali friends of mine) tried and liked my cooking. Over the years I have taken cooking more seriously than ever and friends and acquaintances who have tasted my food are from countries across the globe: Albania, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Germany, India, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, U.S.A.

My expertise - if I may say so - is in Indian cooking though I try other stuff. I do not strictly follow a recipe and over the years I have come up with my own recipes. Sometimes it is the consideration for my friends' non-Indian palate and sometimes it is the non-availability of ingredients that have almost forced me to develop these recipes. Also, I have tasted cuisine from all over the world, and knowingly or unknowingly have tried to blend those tastes into my cooking. But I guess you will find overwhelming presence of Indian ingredients and tastes in the dishes that I prepare for you.

Try these recipes and e-mail me to let me know what you think. If you happen to be in Houston, TX area, and wish to taste my food let me know at least two days in advance. The food is free, buying drinks (the ones that I recommend with the dish) is optional…good deal hah!


3 C's (Chah-Chicken-Churuha)

Ingredients

1 medium chicken
2 large onions
3 tomatoes
2 tablespoons tea leaves (best if you have Orthodox Assam Tea)
2 tablespoon ghee
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 large or 2 medium potatoes (optional)
salt to taste

Joint the chicken and boil it with tea in a saucepan for 20 minutes.

Slice the onions finely. Chop the tomatoes. Cut the potatoes into four pieces. Heat the ghee in a heavy saucepan and fry the onions golden brown. Add tomatoes, coriander powder, and the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes stirring well. Take out the chicken pieces from the other saucepan and put them into the mixture and fry, turning, for 5 minutes.

Pour in 1 pint water (in which you boiled the chicken), add salt and place in an ovenproof dish. Bake at 400 F for 37 minutes or until the chicken is tender and the gravy is reduced to about half.


Recommended Wine: Pinot Grigio/ Riesling

(If you are all by yourself, it goes well even with any light American beer)


Caring Cabbage

Ingredients

1 medium cabbage
8 oz green peas
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon ghee or hydrogenated oil
salt to taste

Chop the cabbage finely. Heat ghee in a pan and fry the cabbage, add green peas and stir for about 7 minutes. Add salt and sprinkle coriander powder before taking out from the stove. The cabbage should remain crisp and crunchy. Serve hot.


Masor Tenga (Texas style)

Ingredients

1 lb Buffalo Fillets
3 medium tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
3/4th of an inch of ginger
1 or 2 green chillies
4 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil



Boil the tomatoes for 15 minutes. Peel the boiled tomatoes and mash them. Cut the fillet into pieces of desired size and glaze them with vegetable oil. Sprinkle salt slightly around the pieces and keep them aside for about 15 minutes. Grind ginger, garlic and green chillies into a paste. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the mashed tomatoes for about 2 minutes. Add peppercorns, cloves, the paste of garlic, ginger and chillies, and turmeric and coriander powder. Add salt and stir for about 5 minutes. Place the pieces of fish in an oven-safe dish/tray and pour the gravy on the top of them. Add one (or more depending on how thick you would like the gravy to be) cup of water. Bake at 375 F for 50 minutes or until the fish is tender. If you do not cover the tray place the pieces of fish up side down half way through cooking.

(Instead of boiling the tomatoes, you may chop them and fry before adding the spices. Also, you may cut a large potato (peeled) into four pieces and add to the gravy)

Serve with steamed rice.

Recommended Wine: Chardonnay


A Glossary of Indian Spices

Ada/Adrak : Ginger

Bara Elaichi : Black cardamom

Dalchini : Cinnamon

Dhania : Coriander/ Cilantro

Elaichi : Cardamom

Halodhi (Haldi) : Turmeric

Hing : Asafoetida

Jaluk (Kali Mirch): Peppercorn

Jolokiya (Mirch) : Chili

Khorisa : Dried ground bambooshoot

Lavang : Cloves

Methi: Fenugreek

Nohoru (Lausen): Garlic

Simla Mirch : Capsicum

Sonf : Aniseed

Tejpat/Tejpatta : Bay leaf

Copyright© 2003, by Hiranya K Nath