Friday, August 31, 2007

Dak Bungalow style Chicken Jhol.

Remember those hurried meals put together at the end of a hard day's travel at dim ly lit circuit houses or government dak-bungalows. Thrown together by the chowkidar-caretaker-cook, the taste still lingers on. Probably the wonder of childhood, when things were so much more mysterious and the whole world was waiting to be discovered was the magic of the dish. Here's my attempt to recreate that magic.


Chicken -1kg, cut into small pieces
Onions- 3 large chopped
Garlic- 2 large cloves, finely chopped
Ginger- 1/2 inch shredded
Oil-1 tbsp
Corriander powder.
Chilli powder
Turmeric powder
Salt, sugar to taste


Boil chicken with salt and keep the stock separately. Heat oil in pan, add onions, ginger, garlic. Add a little sugar to the onions to caramalize it and for colour. Once the onions are white, add chicken, and fry over high flame till tender. Add turmeric powder and chilli powder to taste. Lower flame, add chicken stock and simmer for 15 mins.
Add a tsp of corriander powder, cover and cook for 10 mins. Serve hot with rice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Doi Maach"

One of the traditional "must haves" at all Bengali weddingsis the "Doi Maach". Rain or shine, summer or winter, no wedding would be complete without the doi-maach. Slightly sweet, fragrant from mysterious spics, served on steaming white rice on green banana plates. Oh, I wish were back home in Calcutta.
Here's an adaptation that can be whipped up in a jiffy.
Ingrediants (Serves 2):
4 x 100 gm pieces of rohu ( or any other fresh water carp).
1/ 2 cup of whipped plain curd or yogurt
Mustard oil ( Somehow, when it comes to fish, nothing else seems to substitute for the pungency of mustard oil)
4 large onions diced coarsely
1 large clove of garlic
3 small pods of cardamom
1 quarter inch stick of cinnammon
3 sun dried red chillis
2 bay leaves
Red chilli powder, turmeric, salt, sugar to taste
Clean fish, sprinlke a teaspoon each of turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Mix evenly and set aside for half an hour. Heat 4 tbsps of mustard oil on a high flame till smoking. Carefully add the fish and fry till they are an even golden red (be careful as the oil tends to spurt, if you are not very confident, you can fry the fish two pieces at a time). Remove fish from pan and turn down the flame. Now sautee the onions and garlic till they become translucnt. Add bay leaves and red chillis.
Now slowly stir in the yougurt adding a little water from time to time to get the consistency that you want for the final gravy. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and sugar to taste. Add fish followed by the cardamoms and cinnammon. Cover and let simmer for twenty minutes.
Serve hot with steaming rice and whole green chillis as garnish.
  • Suggestions for a complete meal- Rice, "sukto" (the Bengali equivalent of 'avial'), moong dal with peas, doi-maach and ice-cream sandesh for dessert.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mutton Rezalla- The original Mughlai lamb stew.

Maybe, those of you who grew up in Calcutta, will be familiar with the Delhi Durbar off Park Street. It was a ginghy place with dirty ceramic tiles, flies and eternally playing “Sun saga sun, Pyare ke dhun”. The place served great Biriyani & Chicken Chap but its claim to fame was the Mutton Rezalla. No winter morning excursions, whether to the zoo, or the museum or the Birla Industrial Museum would be complete without lunch at Delhi Durbar. Even so many years later, every time I hear Mutton Rezalla, I can almost taste the milky creaminess of that Rezalla

All this was before our dear friend Mr. Rashid Khan, who owned the place got hauled up for blowing up a whole building on Chowrungee Avenue in 1993. Here’s my attempt to conjure up that Rezalla.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

400 gms mutton or lamb in small pieces

200 gms beaten curd or plain yogurt

3 tbsp butter or white oil

2 large cloves of garlic shredded

2 inch cinnamon sticks

3 small cardamom pods

4 roasted peppercorns.

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste if you prefer a slightly sweet taste


Boil the lamb/ mutton till tender with the garlic and salt (Normally it takes three whistles in my pressure cooker). Once the meat is tender, heat the butter in a pan at low heat and add cinnamon, pepper and cardamoms. Stir till light brown and then add the mutton. Once the fats left the sides add the stock in small portions.

Cover and let it stew in its own juices for fifteen odd minutes before turning down the flame to simmer. Add the beaten curd while stirring continuously otherwise the curd tends to coagulate. Add a small stick of cinnamon for aroma and cover for ten minutes. Before taking down add salt and sugar to taste.


  • Best enjoyed hot with roomali roti’s or naan. The whole taste of the Rezalla is very light and sweet with the smell of the whole roasted spices being the key to the experience. Hence would recommend that you do not serve a highly spicy dish containing a lot of garlic/ onion as in the same meal.
  • Ideally, Mutton Rezalla was originally cooked by frying the mutton directly in ghee. However, cut short time and due to my initial mishaps in trying to cook Mutton Rezalla in the traditional manner has necessitated this approach.
  • Best accompanied by Ghulam Ali and maybe a red wine.