Drumsticks in November

It is awfully silent in here, isn’t it?

I do not want to start off with an apology, considering the numerous times I have in the past following months of shamelessly ignoring my blog. Instead, let me start off with a happy ‘Hi!’ and ‘How have you been?!’

I took this picture below a day before I was leaving Nottingham. It was a quiet day, even when I was silently rushing through the empty three-storey house trying to gather my things and pack for India. I hadn’t had any sleep for about 48 hours at the time and my head was buzzing with thoughts of caffeine and home. I couldn’t wait to be home. I’ve gifted that scarf to a friend of mine and I don’t think I’ll ever forgot how my room looked at dusk and the loud whirr of the oven in the kitchen downstairs.

I, in a matter of speaking, have been great. In spite of a few ups and downs, loss of a friend and a family member, in spite of emotions hurtling through the roof and dropping to rocky depths, I have been well. Through food.

I’ve eaten and eaten away happily through the last two months. And yes, I admit to a few pounds that I’ve gained which are, to my despair, extremely visible.

But am I going to give up a chocolate-pistachio cube from Flurys’ glass box of pastries that looks like it was dropped off a delivery truck headed straight from some Pastry Paradise? Not till my teeth rot and die.

The last two months were that time of the year, when there’s a whiff of nostalgia in the air and a rush of festivities that keep you in a constant state of intoxication. It’s almost winter, but autumn is holding on for dear life and its still sweltering hot. You cannot keep off eating Bengali sweats (and we’re GOOD at it), you cannot stop yourself from splurging on that gorgeous pair of wedges or the Burberry bag, and God save you if you said ‘no’ to any of your Girls’ Day Outs. I caught up with a couple of old friends, one of whom shares my passion for multiplex chicken sandwiches (yes, sometimes I have unbelievably cheap taste). I also made a new friend, blissfully someone who knows all the yummy eateries in Kolkata (that’s right, I’ve spent 18 years in the city and can only come up with five or six good places…not anymore though). It is also that time of the year, when you very quickly start feeling guilty about your work and how you’ve been indulging yourself too much, which automatically leads to a nagging little voice at the back of your head that bombards you with questions like “Shouldn’t you be looking for a job now that you’re done with masters?” or something like “Umm…will you be taking care of that ungainly paunch anytime soon?” And all that, my love, is not good for your appetite.

However, I’m going to be honest and say that I missed all of it last year, busy with course work and have been thanking all my Gods that I got to spend the last couple of months with my family this year. Happy Autumn everyone!

No, I haven’t come empty-handed today. I have been doing a wee bit of cooking, although I am ashamed to admit that it hasn’t really been the all-pots-and-pans-on-the-counter-and-sink kind of cooking that I did back in Nottingham. That is because, things here are civilized under my mother’s watchful eyes as I work in her precious kitchen. I do have spicy drumsticks on a grill pan with extra juices to mop up with some seed-studded bread or a bowl of lemony cous-cous. All the delight is in the caramelized skin balanced by some parsley. There is a crunch factor provided by toasted sesame seeds which offers a pleasantly different texture that is offset by the nuttiness of sesame seed oil. It’s definitely Asian, but also has a healthy touch of that quintessentially English Worcestershire sauce.

The chicken is marinated in a mixture of vegetable oil, sesame seeds, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, coriander powder, red chilli powder, rice wine vinegar, minced ginger and minced garlic. Marinating time can vary from anywhere between an hour to overnight. The drumsticks are grilled till the juices run clear; the marinade is added in the end to make a sticky, sweet and sour sauce. To add a bit of punch, lemon juice or dry mango powder can also be delightful in the marinade. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and hand-cracked black pepper before serving.

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Fish : a new one

 

I grew up Bengali.

Having fish for lunch and dinner, prefering rice over roti, fond of monsoon and very unlike a Bengali, running at the mention of sweets packed in khoya or paneer and deep-fried in ghee. Bengalis love their sweets. Period.

I’m still fond of monsoon…especially the extra-stormy ones. And I’d choose rice over roti anyday.

I still run at the mention of “ghee”.

And I’m still totally fishy.

Uh, ok….that didn’t come out right. What I mean is, I still slobber at the thought of fish (or any kind of seafood for that matter)…any kind. Salmon, Hilsa, Cod, Pomfret especially.

I reached the Sunday market early to get a load of fresh fish. Wasn’t disappointed.

Continue reading “Fish : a new one”

My Get-Well Food

Its been a long week. The flu did not worsen like I had thought it would, thankfully. The cold is still giving me a hard time though. The good thing that has come out of all this is, I have had about 16 cups of yellow lentil soup soup with two dozen pieces of mini-naan over the span of the last seven days. No, seriously.

I remember, Amanda’s (from Konosur) comment on the stuffed peppers, about an Indian flat bread or naan recipe. I guess I was waiting for a bout of influenza to finally get off my bum to blog about it.

The naan has Central Asian origins, resembles a pita but softer, in India its a North Indian staple.

Naan (makes one large or 4 bite-sized ones):

Half cup plain white flour

– Half a teaspoon baking powder

– 1 teaspoon of sugar (naan is more sweet than savory)

– A pinch of salt

– 1 tablespoon white oil

– 2 tablespoons of milk

– 1 egg, beaten

– Chopped parsley, or chopped coriander, or sesame seeds or nigella seeds

Pre-heat the oven to maximum heat. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Mix the oil, milk and half the beaten egg well and add this to the flour mixture. Pour this into the center of the flour and knead adding water if necessary to form soft dough. Grease a bowl with a few drops of oil and roll the dough around in it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rest in a cool corner for about half an hour. Roll out the dough in an elliptical shape. Stud the surface with the coriander/parsley/nigella seeds/sesame seeds. Brush the top lightly with the remaining egg. Prepare the baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes or till the naan’s puffed up and golden brown. Serve with a hot lentil soup.