Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alu Chorchori Memories

My Mother was brought up by her Grandmother. Mum called her “Didumoni”. The next generation of kids called her “Nani”. The rest of the world called her “Maiji”.

Nani always wore a white tanter sari with black or navy blue border, a thick gold chain around her wrinkled neck, two gold bangles, one in each blissfully fair arm, the blue veins of which had started showing by the time I was a pre-teen, and the house keys in a silver keychain tightly gripped in her trembling but strong hands. I remember Nani always on her wheelchair. She passed on when she was 94.

Having a great grand mother living in the same city as we did meant I got to see a lot of Bengali traditions growing up. Like this Alu Chorchori which when literally translated means a potato mishmash! The Alu Chorchori was always cooked in an aluminum karahi (wok) in Nani’s home, and served in a Kansa bowl. I don’t have a Kansa bowl here, but what I do have is a virgin aluminum kodai which is good for any slow cooking because of its heavy base.

My Mum carried forward a lot of traditional recipes she learnt from her Grandmother, and since then passed them on to my little sister and me. Though I cannot vouch for my sister’s cooking! Last I know, she had ordered pizza for dinner.

IMG_1950 This Alu Chorchori was made in our home on a lazy Sunday morning when all of us had the time and the tummy to eat it with Phulko Luchi and some Sandesh. By the time we finished breakfast, Mum would already be prepping up for a Mishti Pulao and Mangsho lunch. Those were the days…

And this is a night. When the husband and I return from work, and I am left to wonder what’d be for dinner. He has more important things to worry about - like why Pepe got the red card in yesterday’s Real Madrid Vs. Barca game.

Ingredients for Shada Alur Chorchori with Koraishuti are:

4-5 medium size white potatoes
1 cup green peas
3-4 green chilies
1 teaspoon Nigella seeds
3-4 tablespoons mustard oil

Halve the potatoes and cut them into thick slices. Slit the green chilies.IMG_1945 Heat the mustard oil in a thick bottom pan. Add the Nigella seeds and the green chilies in no particular order. Let them sauté for a minute before you add the sliced potatoes.

IMG_1946 Mix everything well, cooking on medium-high all the time for about 3-4 minutes.

I used frozen peas tonight, but if you can get fresh green peas, please use that.
Add the green peas to the sautéing potatoes and give it a good stir. Season with salt, reduce the heat and cover for 2-3 minutes.


Uncover and add a cup of water. Crank up the heat and cook the potatoes till they are done. Its okay to overcook a chorchori.


Enjoy Nani’s Shada Alu and Green Peas Chorchori with some hot, fluffy Luchi and Mishti any time of the day. Or night.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kancha Lonka Murgi, Green Chili Chicken Curry

This had to be documented as a blog post since so many of you have already liked it on Facebook. There is no childhood memory or a hand-me-down tale to be narrated today. It was the Poila Boishakh lunch pictures from Finely Chopped and my own greed which led to the re-creation of an experimental recipe which sure is for keeps.

IMG_1924 Ingredients for Kancha Lonka Murgi are:

6-8 medium size skinless chicken pieces, bone in
1 large red onion, finely chopped
8-10 green chilies, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon green chili paste
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 black cardamoms
2 bay
4-5 tablespoons mustard oil /use canola or vegetable if you don't have mustard

IMG_1914 Heat the oil until almost smoking and add the onions, bay and black cardamom to sauté till the onions are lightly browned. (I used a pressure pan to make this dish. You can use a thick-bottom pan or karahi / kodai to do so.)

IMG_1915 Now add the slit green chilies and mix well with the onions. Keep the heat on medium lest you burn the onions. Give the chilies about 4-5 minutes to release their deep zingy flavor.

IMG_1916 Add the cleaned chicken pieces and coat them well with the onions and chilies. Make sure you lightly brown the chicken on medium heat.

IMG_1917 Now add the wet and dry spices except the salt, cover and cook the chicken on medium heat. Scrape off any spices/masala which stick to the bottom of the pan. This should take about 10-12 minutes.

IMG_1918 You will notice the chicken and spices releasing oil at the sides of your pan/karahi, lower the heat and check if the chicken is done. Now add the salt and cover again for 8-10 minutes on low heat. Do a taste test and garnish with a couple of more green chilies. Take the Kancha Lonka Chicken off the heat. The dish should not have a runny gravy. In Bengali we say - makha makha. (Or is it makho makho?)

IMG_1919 Serve this chicken dish with ruti/chapati/phulka or parathas.

IMG_1920Kancha Lonka in Bengali means "green chilies" and Murgi is "chicken".

IMG_1923 That’s an absolutely stunning Kancha Lonka Murgi for you.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mete Chorchori, Quick Liver Stir-fry, the Bengali Way

I was a very thin kid. I have photographic evidence to prove it. Like most mother’s of the previous generation, mine too thought that a chubby kid is a healthy kid. Mine, a first-time mother at 25 took things in her own hands and started with a project of her own – liver juice for her toddler (me). She thought she could transform a scrawny kid and add blobs of protoplasm by feeding me spoonfuls of raw liver juice. Liver – a storehouse of nutrients is indeed good when it comes to  proteins, vitamins and also packed with saturated fat.

But then raw liver juice revolted with my highly developed palate (at three years), and I would vehemently refuse to have it. Not surprisingly, what did go down well with me was this spicier version of Mete Chorchori for adults.

IMG_1903This is the first time in many years that I have cooked liver. And mostly out of taste memory of how my Mother does it. It was too late to call India and wake Mum up. So I went ahead and did it sans her long-distance help.

Ingredients for Mete Chorchori are:

300 grams liver (I only use kid goat’s)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5-6 baby potatoes, peeled (use 1-2 regular, cubed if you don’t have them)
1 tablespoon green chili paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
Half tablespoon black pepper powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Half teaspoon garam masala, coarsely ground (I used cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg)
1-2 bay leaves
3-4 tablespoons mustard oil

Cut the liver into bite-size pieces. My butcher had thrown in a heart too, which you can see in this picture.
IMG_1887 IMG_1889 
In a bowl, mix together the liver pieces, green chili, ginger and garlic paste, turmeric, and a couple of tablespoons of mustard oil. Keep for an hour.
Heat the remaining oil in a thick pan and sauté the potatoes till they are lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon.
In the same oil, throw in the bay, coarsely ground garam masala and the chopped onions.
IMG_1893 IMG_1898On medium heat, sauté the onions till they are golden-brown. With the spatula you are cooking, line the onions to the sides and expose the pan’s base. Now add the marinated liver and turn the heat up to high.

IMG_1899 Its important you cook the liver on high heat so that it gets browned nicely. Keep stirring continuously so that the wet spices do not stick to the pan. Once the liver is lightly browned, introduce the potatoes.

IMG_1900 Add the black pepper powder and keep frying everything.
Towards the end, I did cover the pan to turned the heat on low to cook the potatoes. This should be done for about five minutes. Add salt and check the taste. Remove from heat.

IMG_1905 The Mete Chorchori is now ready to be eaten with phulko ruti or paratha.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Masala Lamb Chops or Chaanp as They Say it Back Home

This is version 1.1 of my recipe and I am sure it is the final cut. It was so good, I smacked my plate clean and bit and licked the rib bones, till my husband had to take them away from me. Albeit with some force. I know. I know, there is something very unattractive about calling your own recipe “perfect”. But there is no turning back from here.

And you will know why!

So the next time you are at your butcher shop or at the supermarket, make sure you get a rack of kid lamb or baby goat and ask your butcher to make you chops, equal slices of the ribs. Do not remove the fat.


The cooking time is shockingly short for this recipe if you have marinated your chops/chaanp for about 24 hours. IMG_1875 IMG_1863 The Masala Chaanp will make a great appetizer with a big pitcher of beer during the upcoming IPL season. Or you can remain sober and serve it for dinner with some sides and salads to spike up a boring evening.

Ingredients for Masala Lamb Chops/ Chaanp

500 grams lamb/ goat chops
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh green chili paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh coriander (leaves and stem)
Juice of one lemon
Half tablespoons coriander powder
Half teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
Quarter teaspoon clove powder
1 + 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Mix everything, except the oil, in a large bowl. If your hands are sensitive to green chilies, make your husband do all the mixing!

IMG_1848IMG_1849 Make sure the marinade covers the chops well. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Make sure you keep the bowl out on your kitchen counter at least an hour before you cook the chops. Drizzle one tablespoon of oil and coat the meat well.

Heat your grill pan till its smoking hot. Brush some oil on the pan. Give it a couple of minutes to heat up.

Line the chops on the grill pan and let them sizzle and seduce your senses. Little by little drizzle drops of oil on the chops.
IMG_1865 IMG_1864After about 5-6 minutes, turn the chops. By now you would have got nice char marks on the meat. Baste the chops with the leftover marinade and few more drops of oil. Keep the flame on high all this time.IMG_1866 IMG_1868 
Give the chops 7-8 minutes on medium heat on each side to cook them through. Poke a little fork into one of the chops to see if the juices run clear.

Squirt some lemon juice on the lamb chops and serve hot. Savor the taste of freshness on a bone. It doesn’t get better than this.

IMG_1872 IMG_1870 IMG_1869 Well, isn't that a welcome platter?