Saturday, January 24, 2009

Duck in Orange Sauce

Once upon a time there was a restaurant in Dhaka called Le Saigon. Unobtrusive and select. Never hit the radar. So different from most restaurants in Dhaka.

Anyway, I am getting ahead. This post is dedicated to this quaint romantic restaurant and to Shammubhai who runs the restaurant in his own unique way.

Borrowed from Shammubhai, here's Duck in Orange Sauce.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Duck- 1 (Skinned, cut into bite sized pieces)
Orange- 1
Fresh Orange Juice- 2 cups
Red chilli-3
Sugar- 2 tbsp
Oil- for frying


Fish Sauce- 2 tsp

Ginger- 1/2 in shredded

Red chilli- 2 Shredded

Salt- To taste
Pepper- 2 tsp


Marinate the duck for 2 hours. Deep fry marinated duck pieces till golden brown. Add sugar to caramelize. Add orange juice. Simmer over low flame. Reduce sauce till thick. Add red chillis and orange segments. Serve hot with with rice.


In case you are in Dhaka and are looking for a different dining experience, I would heartily recommend Le Saigon (You can find recipes from Chef Que here.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bengali Sona Muger Dal

One of the evergreen favourites at any Bengali meal- Moong Dal cooked in ghee. Somehow, despite trying so many times, never could recreate either the aroma or the taste that Mom used to get. Maybe it was some secret ingredient she never told us, or maybe it was just her. Who knows, here’s a recipe from the time I got closest to that old flavour.

Ingredients (Servers 2):

Moong Dal -½ cup (Would be best if you could get the variety we call ‘Sona Mung’ in Bengal)
Ghee- 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds (jeera)- ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste


Wash dal and dry. Put a pan on low heat and add dal. Keep stirring constantly till dal starts emitting a sweet aroma. Take care not to burn dal to brown. Now add salt and water and boil dal till soft. If you are using a pressure cooker, you should boil till two whistles.

Heat ghee in frying pan, and add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to pop add the strained dal and cook for five minutes. Add the water leftover from boiling the dal, salt sugar to taste and a pinch of turmeric powder. Cook till an even consistency. Add 1 tsp of ghee, cover and take off flame.

Serve hot with rice. This aromatic and creamy dal can be had with rice as a complete meal. The best part is that not only does it taste great, but between dal and rice, they have all the amino acids required by the body. So you have a meal which covers all food groups- complete protein, carbohydrates and fat.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Suran ala Crème

No cream in this one. But picked up the name just because of the consistency of the final dish (plus I had created a dish called ….ala Crème). The inspiration behind this dish came while thinking of what could we have with poached fish. Was looking for something, that would be spicy, mashed like potato or tapioca and was different from your run of the mill flavours. Chancing upon yam at the supermarket, gave it a try.

Bon appetite.

[Incidentally, the fire extinguisher that you see in the picture has no specific relation to my confidence on pulling this dish off. It’s standard issue on all my cooking adventures. ;) ]


Suran (Yam; a.k.a. ‘Ol’ in Bengali) - 400 gm

Onions- 5 large
Garlic- 3 large cloves
Ginger- ¼ inch stick (shredded)
Cinnamon – ¼ cm stick (coarsely crushed)
Turmeric- 1 ½ tsp
Red chilli- 6
Sugar- ½ tbsp
Cooking oil- 2 tbsp
Salt to taste


De-skin the yam and cut into ½ inch cubes, the smaller the better. Boil with turmeric and salt till macerated. Take off from flame and let cool. Julienne the onions and garlic. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add onions, garlic and ginger. Fry on low heat till the onions start losing their colour. Strain the yam pieces and add to the pan. Keep cooking over low flame for five minutes.

Slowly add the turmeric-water-yam stock. By now the yam pieces would have really become soft. Now, mash the yams while still in the pan. Add the sugar and salt for taste. Break the red chillis’ into small pieces and mash into the yam paste. Keep adding water and cooking over low flame till the yam becomes a paste with the consistency of thick yogurt. Mix in cinnamon powder, cover and let cook for five minutes.

Serve hot with pancakes or rice or as an accompaniment to poached or fried fish with steamed fish. Warning!!!- Because of the large amount of chilli in the dish, this dish will bring tears (of joy I hope) to all but the most die-hard hot food aficionado.


  • Sometimes, if not cooked properly, yam causes an itchy feeling on lips and throat. Nothing serious, but in case you fall prey, just suck on a slice of lemon.

Pineapple Chicken

‘Something about how they cook chicken with pineapples in the Philippines’- The vaguest recollection about this was that I had read an article in Reader’s Digest when I was in junior school, and yet this memory kept coming back. So finally on this New Year’s Day, based on the vaguest of ideas of how it will taste, I tried to put this idea to test

Ingredients (Serves two):

Chicken breast – 600 gm (diced into bite sized pieces)
Pineapple- 250 gm can conserved
Ginger- 2 inch stick (coarsely chopped)
Pepper- 3 tsp (Whole)
Lime- 1 whole
Red chilli- 2 whole
Oil- for cooking
Salt –To taste
Optional: Lemon grass- Half a stick (in ½ inch pieces)


Make small incisions in chicken cubes to speed up cooking. Bruise ginger lightly and add to chicken pieces. Toss in the pineapple along with the syrup and squeeze in half a lemon. Mix thoroughly and let it marinate for 2 hours. The enzymes in the pineapple, along with the lemon will tenderize the chicken.

Heat oil in a pan and fry chicken till tender. Once the chicken is cooked, add a little more oil and throw in the pineapple pieces. Let it simmer for five minutes. Coarsely crush the pepper corns with the flat knife side. Now add pepper and garlic from the marinade along with the red chillis (for flavour). Add remaining marinade and salt to taste. Cover and reduce flame to low. For those willing to experiment, you could add the lemon grass now. However, lemon grass with its overpowering flavour can unbalance the gingery sweet taste of the dish. Some like it some don’t. I leave the choice to you.

Leave on simmer till sauce is reduced to a consistency of a thick soup. Before serving sprinkle a little lime juice on chicken. Serve hot with rice.

This dish is simple to cook. Estimated cooking time is ½ - ¾ of an hour and is a combination of many flavours. The first impression is the sweet pineapple taste which combines well with the chicken. As you munch along, the other flavours that you chance upon, the tart lime juice sprinkled in the end, the piquant taste of ginger and hot bite from the coarsely crushed pepper refreshes the palette and reawakens the sense of smell as you move along.


Being a sweetish dish, I would recommend a side dish of a spice vegetable (dominant flavour being hot) so that the palette does not get jaded. I tried it with a side dish of mashed yam (Suran ala crème) and pancakes.

Dessert suggestion- With a main course whose dominant flavour is sweet, it’s extremely difficult to find a dessert. An alternative could be a tart fruit like Kiwi. Peel Kiwi, slice into thin chunks and chill in freezer. Just when your guests are done, serve in martini glasses topping off each serving with a ripe cherry. Accompany with whole wheat crackers and a dry ripe cheese.