Thursday, July 31, 2008

Savory Liver Curry with Yellow Lentil and Rice

I happen to really enjoy the taste of well prepared liver! When my mother makes her chicken curry she always leaves the liver and gizzards and I am always the one to savor it! My aunt used to make liver curry on rare days and I still remember just eating so slowly making it last. I haven't had much of an opportunity to cook liver in the States but here in Dhaka, where there are streets of butchers, a whole liver is easily picked up in any corner. This recipe, however is not mine - its my cook, Alom's concoction. Its delicious, especially with some nice thick lentil curry and white rice with freshly squeezed lime on top! Its just...well, you give it a shot and let me know! Just to Note-Alom does not cook with specific measurements, just eyeballs the ingredients and feels his way through. So, the proportions may not be exact - he just says - 1/2tsp of all spices - but with any good cook - one should experiment with the flavors and settle on what amount of spices are right for your palate!


1/2 kg of liver from beef cut into bite size pcs.
Onion - 1 whole - half paste, half sliced thin
Garlic - 1 tsp paste - 2-3 cloves sliced/chopped
Ginger - 1 tsp paste
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp powder
Chili - 1/2 tsp powder
Coriander - 1/2 tsp powder
Cumin - 1/2 tsp powder
Fennugreek - 1/2 tsp powder
Bay leaf - 1 dried
Salt & sugar to taste
Oil to fry


1. Heat in a pan or pot or wok about 2-3 tbsp of oil, sautee up sliced garlic and onion till well done. About 2-3 mins.

2. Add in all the spices one by one. Start with the pastes (onion, garlic, ginger), then the bay leaf, lastly the powders. Add salt. Fry well, add a little bit of oil if too dried out and scorching or 2-3 tbsp of water.

3. Add the liver pcs and fry and mix well with the paste formed. When well mixed, add about 1-2 cups of water, depending on how much curry you want. More water for thinner curry, less for thicker.

4. Cook covered until livers are well done. Takes about 10-15mins. Taste check - add salt and little sugar if needed.

Serve with some Lentil and rice and Enjoy!

Tips: you can increase the cumin powder to 1tsp. for a bolder taste. Too much fenugreek may turn the curry bitter. Everything else can be adjusted to preference.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kochu Dal Curry (Colocasia Leaves & Lentil)

I haven't ever cooked "kochu pata" (colocasia leaves)., nor did I know what the looked like because they came bundled in rolls when I picked them at the store. All I knew was an old folklore that said something along the lines - ones who's throat itch after eating kochu pata must be a liar - the idea that these leaves itch your throat - never mind whether we tell lie or not - who among hasn't said a white lie now and then - the idea has always deterred me in any consumption of this vegetable! So, i don't know what promted me or inspired me to pick up these leaves - a man next to me just happed to pick up two bundles and I just happened to follow suite! Once I brought them home, I was struck with a dilemma - I had no idea how to prepare them! So, I called my ready source, my aunt and picked her brain. It sounded so yummy that I immediately set out to cook begins my tiny adventure.

For a little bit of back ground on kochu or colcasia :

When I went to prepare the leaves, I first washed them, tore them into small pieces then put them boiling water. Within a few seconds on putting the water to boil, my hands started itching and burning uncontrollably!! It died away after few mins - i had put some anti-histamine just in case. Now, I started to worry what would be the effects if I actually consumed it! But, my aunt had told me to boil it before cooking, so it should be ok. I finished preparing the dish as she instructed and as soon I had a few mouthfuls - my throat started painful itching!! Almost having a hard time breathing!! But, that too died away with 15-20 mins. So, now I was on a mission to figure out why this occurred even after boiling.

Colocasia, in its raw form, has a presence of calcium oxalate. This chemical compound can be broken down by boiling the vegetable but it has to be a prolonged period - 1 hour - depending on size of leaves - the bigger the leaves - boiling time increases. Another trick I came upon - an important element my aunt had forgotten to mention - it can be equalized with citric acid! Meaning, while cooking add tamarind juice or lime juice or while eating squeeze a helluva lot of lime! And if your throat still itches - suck on some lime or lemon!

Thus is my tiny adventure of making this dish, I hope you won't be deterred, just apy extra attention to detail while cooking it!


1 bundle - about 2 small leaves
Lentils - 1 cup (masoor - orange whole or split)
Onion - 1 med chopped small
Garlic - 2-3 cloves finely chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Dry red chili - 2
Green chili - 1
Tamarind juice or lime/lemon - 1 tbsp. (approx.)
Oil to fry


1. Wash the leaves carefully. Wear gloves or avoid direct contact in some way (i.e.: using tongs). Place them in appropriate pot of water - I used 6 cups of water. Boil for min. 1 hour.

2. Wash the lentils well. Soak the lentils in a bowl to soften to reduce cooking time.

3 . Once the leaves are ready, prepare the lentils. Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a pot/wok. Add the red chili and let roast few seconds, sautee the onion and garlic till 'mushy'.

4. Add the powder spices and salt, green chili, stir and mix well. Add a little bit of water and mix again.

5. Drain the lentils and add it to the spice mixture. Coat and fry well. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and let it cook uncovered. We want a thick mush.

6. Once the lentils ready, add the leaves and cook well, add the tamarind or lime/lemon juice.

7. Cook for few mins so all spices mix well, check salt and spicy-ness. If too much of anything - try adding a little bit of sugar.

Serve with rice or roti.

Traditional Gujrati Toor Daal

My dear friend, Mital, recently got married and left us all for Sunny California. Now that she has to cook for her keep, she has been trying out her mom's recipes. Turns out, her hubby loves daal (or dahl) and so dear Mital has to go on a quest to perfect her technique. She passed on her recipe to share. It sounds delicious and can't wait to visit her to try it out!

Thanks Mital!!

She uses a pressure cooker. Now, I have never used one except for the one time at my friend Niyati's place and it scared the beejeez out of me! So - I think an alternative would be to soak the lentils overnight to get them soft enough to cook without needing a pressure cooker. The steps involve - cooking/boiling the lentils, mixing the spices in on the stove once lentils cooked then final step of tempering (Vagar) which is done at the end and can be done right before serving.

Toor Dahl Recipe:

1) Place 1 cup toor dahl in 4 cups of water or 1&1/2 vadkis with 6
vadkis water in a steel bowl. Place in pressure cooker. Don't forget
to add water to the pressure cooker. :)

2) After 4 whistles or 7-10 minutes after your cooker starts to make a whooshing sound, turn off the cooker and contents settle for about 10 minutes or when you feel comfortable taking off the lid.

3) Take out the pot containing the steamed dahl and transfer to a
bigger pot. Add 3 cups of water (eyeball this - this step depends on
how thin or thick you like it). I only put in 2 cups..and it came out
thick in the end but that's how sundeep likes it.

4) Once you add the water, use a hand blender to mush it all together
until smooth..if you skip this step, i think you end up getting
"punjabi dahl" so you see the lentils more visually..

Now comes the masala that you add to this pot of mushed lentils:

12 pieces of nimbru leaves (i didn't have these so i omitted them and
it still came out good)
3.5 tsp salt (I think I only put in 2, but you can always add later--
see I had only added 2 cups of water after so i decreased the salt)
1.5 tsp donna giru (coriander/cumin powder)
1/2 tsp red pepper (chile powder)
1/2 tsp pickle masala (the red methi masala)
1/2 tsp urdur powder (turmeric)
1 tsp garam masala
5 dates (soft) - I didn't have these so I omitted them
1/2 tsp ambli paste OR mango powder OR 2 capfuls of lemon juice
2.5 tbsp tomato paste
1 fresh tomato diced (I didn't have so i didnt' add)
1/4 cup guar or brown sugar (to your liking)
2-3 tbsp coriander leaves

Add all these ingredients and boil the dahl for ~40-45 minutes. Then
you are ready for the vagar.

Vagar Ingredients:
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 cloves
3 whole vagar red peppers
1/2 tsp methi seeds
3-4 nimbru leaves (i didn't have them so i omitted)
1/8 tsp hing (asafoetida powder) + tad bit of red pepper (chile
powder) on same spoon ( I don't know, my mom said when I had the hing,
make sure put a little bit of red pepper with it)

First put oil for the vagar (3-4 tbsp oil) in whatever little saucer
you use to vagar things ( i only had a vadki so i used that). let the
oil get warm. Then add in the following order:
- cloves
- whole red pepper
- methi seeds
- mustard seeds

When mustard seeds pop, add the nimbru leaves. Then add the hing+red
pepper. Cook for 2-3 seconds and put in the dahl right away. Continue
boiling the dahl for 5-10 minutes. And that's it. It can take upto 1 hour to make!
Can't believe my mom would make fresh dahl she makes enough for 2-3 days..this makes a big pot of dahl. I don't know how to scale it down...

Dessert Wrap

I had a major sweet tooth on this day. Needed a sweetness blast!! So, i whipped this up and its so simple so very YUMMY! its unbelievable!!

Start with a tortilla (roti) and place on a warm flat frying pan/grill. On one side add the following: banana in small pieces, chocolate bits and Fluff or marshmallows. Fold the other side over and grill on both sides till its toasty and then take off the pan and DEVOUR it!!!

It SOOO hits the spot!!!

Cupcakes & Cheesecakes!

For my sister-in-laws baby shower in May I had made a cupcakes and cheesecakes - oh - they came out sooo yummy!! Lemon Cupcakes and Carrot Cake in cupcake form - with of course my personal tweaks in them! I had added FLUFF to the bater when it went in - gave it a lil something extra that was just plain fun! The cheesecake - made them extra thick and topped off with chocolate frosting and cut in bite size. Yum yum yum!!

( I cheated - they were all from boxed mixes from Betty crocker - but with an extra twist!! LOL)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chicken Coconut Curry

Lately, I love coconut milk based curries. We were having our neighbors over and I thought I would try a new recipe. This recipe came out so delicious!! I really should get in the habit of writing down exactly what I put in things when cooking - end up making so many substitutions that I can't ever seem to duplicate a recipe!!! So here is the recipe with my tweaks:

Boneless Chicken Coconut Curry

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch dice
1 tsp. Turmeric powder
1 tsp. Coriander powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Ginger paste
2 tsp. Garlic paste
1 tbsp. Onion paste
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. hoisin sauce
Salt - less depending on soy sauce

Oil to fry
1 dry bay leaf
1/2 in. of cinnamon stick
1 medium sized onion thinly sliced
1 cup canned unsweetened or fresh coconut milk
1 green bell pepper sliced thinly
1 wedge of lime/lemon
cilantro to garnish

1. Marinate the chicken in for at least half hour.

2. Pour little oil in pan/pot and sautee the onions, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Add the chicken strips only and sautee and until golden.

3. Add the coconut milk and reminding marinade into the pot with a little bit of water to make a thinner rich consistency of curry.

4. Simmer on med heat until chicken is well cooked, add the green peppers in the last few mins and sprinkle a little bit on lime/lemon on top and add some cilantro.

Serve with some warm rice and enjoy!

***Taste throughout the cooking process to adjust to your taste.
If no flavor picked up - add salt or soy sauce.
If too salty - add a little bit of honey or sugar.
Want a little more kick - add more red pepper or add a spicy green chili while cooking.