Tuesday 21 January 2014


Soup is my all time favourite. It is the most frequently cooked meal in my kitchen. And why not, it is quick, easy, healthy and appetizing. What more reason would you need for a bowl full of creamy indulgence. A perfect comfort food for chilly nights served with some crusty bread or croutons!! Some pan grilled garlic breads are my personal favourite. With the wholesome goodness of pumpkin alongside the flavour of smoky and lusciously sweet roasted red capsicum this hearty and filling soup will soon be your family favourite. Serve as a main or just an entrĂ©e.
Today's post is specially for all my readers in the northern hemisphere who has been battling the madness of winter. Enjoy a cuppa or a bowl full of this roasted bell pepper and butternut soup and warm up your souls. This soup is also great when served chilled. For me a bowl full is perfect for every season.

A complete Vegan's Delight, just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. You may also use stock cubes and add plain water.
To make Roasted Red Capsicum and Butternut Soup you will need :
1kg Pumpkin (washed, peeled and cubed)
1large Spanish (Red) Onion
1large Red capsicum
2-3 tablespoon of Butter or Olive Oil.
2-3 clove of Garlic ( no need to peel)
Handful of Basil Leaves
4-5 cups of Chicken/Vegetable stock
1cup milk or single pouring Cream
Chopped Spring Onions for garnish
OR chopped Chives for garnish
Sour Cream for serving
Salt to Season (if needed)
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg Powder   
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
Freshly ground Black Pepper to season
Step 1:  Preheat Oven to 200 degrees.
Step 2: Coat 1 whole capsicum with olive oil and place in a baking dish. Throw in the garlic cloves in the same dish and roast for about 20 mins. Do not over roast or else the garlic will burn and taste bitter. 
Once the skin starts to blacken and u see blisters on the skin your capsicum is ready. Carefully remove from the oven  using oven gloves cover with aluminium foil and let it rest until cool. Remove foil and peel skin off .Remove all seeds if any from inside. Set aside in the same dish. Do not discard the valuable juice and oil in the dish from the roasted capsicum. This is your flavour booster. Also gently squeeze the garlic cloves to extract the flesh and set aside with the capsicum in the same dish. Discard all peels.
Step 4: In a saucepan heat butter or olive oil. Once the butter is hot quickly add the onions. Fry until light brown .
Step 5: Add the Pumpkins. Cook for 5-10 mins on medium heat.
Step 6: Throw in Basil Leaves, nutmeg powder, white pepper powder, and add the roasted capsicum and garlic along with the juice from roasting.
Step 7: Add Chicken stock cubes and water or pour in ready chicken stock.
Step 8:  Bring it to boil. Cover and cook until the pumpkins are tender. This should take approximately 25-30 mins on medium heat.
Step 9: Check Seasoning.  
U may even cook this in a pressure pan. Cook until 4-5 whistles go off. This recipe is good to yield 4 servings.

Step 8 Use a blender and blend to a smooth puree. Add milk or cream and blend until combined on low speed. 
Spoon into bowls and season with some black pepper , garnish with spring onions and dollop of sour cream. If you do not wish to use dairy such as milk or cream try using coconut cream or coconut milk for a delicious twist. You may even use some chopped chives for garnish along with some grated parmesan cheese.

My Kid's are just crazy about soup. That is another reason why cook this so often. Ahhhhhh!! That makes my job sooo much easier. Excellent for those tired nights. Quick and easy dinner with no fuss at all. So don't have any doubts at all. Print this recipe and enjoy this delish for your dinner tonight!!


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With deep care


Thursday 9 January 2014


Hello again!! I am finally back on track after almost over 2 weeks of slumber. We had a fabulous holiday.. a little hectic with a bit of relaxation. Thankfully the weather was nice and we enjoyed our time mostly outdoors in the beach, park and then finally a fantastic welcome to the New Year with some jaw dropping fireworks in the city. Holidays always make me sad … they just go in a whiz, don’t they? How did you enjoy your holidays? We would love to know about it?
In today's post we will be talking about some real comfort food. The Legendary Chicken Curry, almost everyone's favourite. This is my first post on a Bengali cuisine. Back home in Kolkata, West Bengal (the eastern part of the sub continent) this simple yet delicious curry is a comfort food usually enjoyed with steamed rice and salad in almost every Bengali household as a special Sunday afternoon lunch.It would come second in preference to Mutton (Goat Meat) Curry. 
In Bengali we call it “murgir jhol” where “murgi” is the humble chicken skinned and cut into medium pieces and “jhol” is a thin light gravy flavoured with mild spices, mustard oil and loaded with lots of coriander. Oh yes that's my version of "Jhol", I mean curry! In a way both these curries are a delicacy in an average household and is a way to celebrate an entire week's hard work with an elaborate meal with the family. When I say “elaborate", I don’t mean a king's feast but it is no way less than that with a simple spread of some hot steaming rice, ghee, koraishuti hing diye dal ( soupy lentil cooked with asafoetida and green peas) with a good measure of coriander leaves thrown in them, aloo bhate (mashed potatoes flavoured with spices, chopped onion, chilli and coriander leaves), the legendary chicken or mutton curry followed by some mango or tomato chutney to end the meal.  My kind a Sunday lunch..Oh and some lemon wedges and salad too would be on the side. Burpp!! Ooops, I beg to be excused.And truth be told there was only one person who would multitask and yet cook such a multi course meal in just a matter of few hours.

A 5 course meal !!! In my home, a delicacy indeed.

In my early days I was always a late riser and Sunday mornings needed no special excuses. I still remember waking up to a lazy Sunday morning to the whistle of the pressure cooker the mesmerizing aroma of the curry wafting down the street. Ma, my mom was almost about ready to serve lunch. In that little kitchen of ours  which was almost  a mini furnace by midday I could see her saree tucked into her waist, grinding, chopping with the kitchen smelling of all the fresh spices and herbs, working really hard to get the lunch ready on time for her family. Baba, my father slumping back on the couch almost snoozing in front of the TV with of course the Sunday newspaper almost falling off his chest, my sister also around in some nook and corner and me, in anticipation of a grand lunch would quickly hop in to the shower and get ready to hog in no time.

So food is all about wonderful and fond memories woven around them, happy, priceless and so close to heart. No matter what you do you can never get them back.

When it comes to cooking a Bengali cuisine be it a simple curry, the first thing I do is nag maa on the phone just to double check a recipe..as staying miles away you can only dream about your mum's special chicken curry.

"No one cooks a curry better than my mum does”. Ask every son or daughter they all believe in that. And so do I. I am a great devotee of curries or “jhol” all my life.Nothing can comfort me better than a simple curry ( a thin gravy) served with some steamed rice and a wedge of lemon. 

The exclusiveness of this dish are the cooked potatoes that are dunked into the gravy, adding a beautiful texture and body to this dish. I use steamed whole baby potatoes and slightly overcooked version is my personal favorite. You may fry the potatoes by all means though. I personally brown them in a non-stick pan. If pressed for time I just simply add the cooked potatoes in to the gravy just before adding water.

There are several ways of cooking this curry. No way is a perfect one. Depends how light or rich and spicy you want the gravy to be, how elaborate or simple you want to keep it. Whether you want to marinate the chicken or just add the chicken straight away, fry the potatoes or dunk in cooked potatoes in the gravy, it is absolutely your call. I make both version depending on the availability of time and convenience and trust me if you got your curry basics right at the end it is still “the Legendary Murgir Jhol” is what you enjoy.

Let’s take a look at the recipe;
You will need:
6 drumstick (skin off) rinsed under thin stream of running water. Pat dry with a kitchen towel , score with a sharp knife on the skin and keep aside.
5-6 tablespoon mustard oil to fry onions. Extra 2 tablespoon to coat the chicken. Mustard Oil is very extensively used in Bengali cuisine. It is a must to get that authentic flavour and colour to the curry. You can use sunflower or canola oil for sure. But any substitute is a compromise! 

3/4 tablespoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon red chilli powder (I use Kashmiri Red Chilli, it imparts a gorgeous colour to the gravy and is also not very hot)

1 tablespoon each garlic and ginger paste

1 teaspoon salt to coat chicken and extra to season

8-10 baby potatoes peeled and cooked (u can add 

more if u want)

1-2 medium red onion finely sliced

2-3 medium overripe tomatoes grated

2 green chillies, slit from the middle

3-4 green cardamom pods

1 medium-large cinnamon stick halved

2-3 cloves

2 small bay leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

1-2 cup of hot water (depending on the gravy you 

1/2 cup chopped coriander (stems included but not 

the roots). Extra for garnish.

For Cooking:

Firstly massage the drumsticks with that extra 2 tablespoon of mustard oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Marinate chicken with Turmeric, Red Chilli Powder, and Ginger Garlic paste and set aside. Atleast an hour before..more the better.

Step 1

In a thick bottomed wok or pan (big enough to fit 6 drumsticks) heat mustard oil on medium flame. Once the oil stops bubbling you know it is hot enough, reduce flame  and wait for a minute.

Now throw in 1 teaspoon sugar. The sugar will caramelize in no time and it will impart a rich reddish hue to the gravy. So quickly slide in the bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick followed by the onions. It is a good idea to organise all these ingredients on a plate so you can quickly slide them into the hot wok.

Step 2
Add a little salt to the onions. It will help the onions to soften and cook evenly.

Step 3 
Once the onion starts to brown and almost melted add the drumsticks (including marination). Do not overcrowd the pan. Stir  and Cook well to mix the marinated drumstick with the onion. Keep moving the chicken and spices to avoid burning on medium flame until you see oil seperating from the spices.

Step 4

Add grated tomatoes and mix well to coat the chicken and spices. (see notes)
Do a taste test. Season with salt if needed. Add the coriander leaves.You can also cover at this stage to accelerate the process of cooking. The chicken will cook in the juices released from the tomatoes and the other ingredients. Simmer the flame to avoid burning. 

Step 5

After about 3-4 mins add hot water depending  on how soupy you want the gravy to be. Cover and bring it to boil.

Step 6

Turn off heat. Garnish with loads of coriander leaves.

Notes: Now if you dare to experiment like me, you may add 1 teaspoon of mustard paste to the gravy at stage 4. The mustard adds an extra zing to the gravy.

Any left overs are best eaten with some Rotis or Parathas (Indian flatbread). We enjoyed our second round of the chicken curry for dinner with some Phulko  Luchi (hot puffed indian flat bread that is usually deep fried) and cucumber salad.

You can even cook this curry in the pressure cooker, in that case follow every step above but just add uncooked potatoes after you have added  the grated tomatoes to the gravy. You can brown these potatoes before hand. Some even deep fry them, which i avoid.

Hope you enjoy cooking and savoring this simplicity at the same time.

Belated Happy New Year Wishes to all my readers !!


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With deep care

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