Friday, March 29, 2013

Roast Chicken with Foil baked Bacon Potatoes

Facebook throws up a number of interesting posts and the ones about food always catch my eye. Today I saw a picture of  sliced potatoes and crisp bacon that had been baked in a foil parcel with a few additional ingredients. It looked superb, I had all the ingredients and it was ridiculously easy to make.

The hubby also had a holiday today and he'd gone off to the market and retuned with a lot of goodies including a tray of plump chicken drumsticks and a tray of fresh white mushrooms. Lunch was looking good!

We had Lemon and Garlic roasted Chicken with Foil Baked Bacon and Potatoes, and Garlicky Mushrooms.

Here's how I made it all. It took me an hour including marinating time.

Roast Chicken

6 drumsticks, poked all over with a sharp knife
Mama Africa's Zulu Jalapeno Lemon Garlic Sauce

Marinate the chicken in a generous amount of the sauce and salt.

15 minutes before you're ready to serve grill the chicken on a non stick pan with a splash of any neutral oil.

If you don't have this particular sauce use any other barbecue or grilling sauce or a ready marinade. Or make up your own marinade. Just tweak as you go and make up the combinations as I did :)

Foil Grilled Bacon Potatoes

3 potatoes, sliced into thin discs
4-5 rashers bacon, lightly fried, drained and cut into pieces
2 onions thickly sliced, grilled in the bacon fat.
A generous dash of Cajun spice mix (optional)
olive oil
Thick Aluminium foil

Place the foil in a pyrex or metal baking dish. Put the sliced potatoes in a pile in the centre and add salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper. Sprinkle the spice mix if you're using it. A crumbled stock cube will also work wonders here. Put in the bacon pieces and the grilled onions and mix it all up.

Drizzle the oil over the potatoes and then seal the foil over to make a tightly closed parcel. Put it in a preheated oven and bake at 160- 180 degrees for around 40 minutes. You can parboil the potatoes and thus reduce the baking time significantly and also ensure that you get fully cooked potatoes. But I prefer to bake them from scratch.

Garlicky Mushrooms

1 tray/packet button mushrooms
4 -5 cloves garlic

Wash the mushrooms really well and then slice thickly. Heat oil in a pan and throw in the sliced mushrooms. Add a teaspoon or more of chopped garlic, add salt and give it a good stir. I cook it covered for a few minutes and then uncover it and let the water evaporate fully.

Once you've got all three elements cooked and ready just plate up and enjoy. We sure did!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A can of tuna, a bottle of pesto, a jar of spaghetti

It was one of those days when roti sabzi, daal chawal or any variations of these just didn't appeal. So I went through the fridge and the pantry cupboard to see what I could find. A can of tuna, a bottle of pesto and a jar of very old spaghetti is what I came up with. Just perfect for a simple dinner! Of course I added a few more ingredients, but barely.

1 can tuna chunks
enough spaghetti for 2
1 small jar pesto
olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
100 ml cream
A chunk of cheese. I used Aged Cheddar

Boil water and set the spaghetti to cook. Add salt to the boiling water, and add a good splash of olive oil and toss after you drain. reserve a bit of the water, about half a cup should do.

Heat a large saucepan and empty the jar of pesto. Add a couple of ladles of the pasta water. Stir quickly to mix. Dunk in the tuna chunks and the accompanying brine or oil. Break the chunks a bit. Add the cream and stir to make a nice sauce.

Take a plate. Put a heap of the spaghetti in the middle and then top with a generous amount of the pesto cream sauce. Crumble some cheese on top and drizzle some top quality full flavoured olive oil for extra zip. Mix the spaghetti and let the sauce coat all the strands.

Tuck in!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Bong feast at Hornby's Pavillion, ITC Grand Central

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the ITC Grand Central - they were having a Bengali food festival. Some months earlier I had been to one at the ITC Maratha and that hadn't impressed me at all. I was still curious to see how it would turn out this time so, along with a few blogger friends, I went.

Let me tell you right at the start I was very impressed. The choice of dishes, the presentation and of course the taste - all very very good indeed. We proceeded to stuff ourselves while Chef Somnath (from the ITC Sonar, Kolkata) made every effort to ensure that were enjoying the food.

The meal began with Vegetable chops. These were delicious, full of assorted vegetables and a ruby red inside because of beetroot.

We also had Cauliflower pakoras but those were not half as delicious as the veg chops.

Next came chicken cutlets. These were excellent! Not the usual frilly egg fried kobiraji cutlet which has a little bone sticking out of one end but escalopes of chicken breaded and fried to perfection.

The last starter we ate was bhetki kobiraji. These looked very promising and we all dived in but unfortunately there was not a speck of salt in the fish so it was quite a disappointment. The fish was fried perfectly and the egg coating had a soft crunch but the lack of salt just killed it.

The starters were accompanied by an array of sauces, chutneys and of course Kasundi.

Once the starters were done Chef Somnath unleashed a veritable flood of food upon us! The vegetarian fare included

Chholar Daal Narkel Diye - Chana daal cooked with coconut

Mulo Palonger Ghanto - Spinach and radish with daal vadi

Chhanar Dalna - Home made Cottage Cheese in a gravy

Aloo Posto - Potato with poppy seeds

Enchorer Dalna - Raw Jackfruit or Kathal

There was also a Phulkopir Tarkari - A Cauliflower Subzi. I forgot to take a photograph. As you can see there was s much food, you can't really blame me!

All this was relished with a simple Ghee Bhaat - Rice with ghee and cashew nuts

At that time I thought luchis or Radhabollobis would have made this menu more complete. In hind sight, considering the sheer amount of food that we were presented with, maybe it was a good thing that there was none! My favourite among these was the Mulo Palonger Ghanto and of course the Aloo Posto.

Moving on to the non vegetarian selection, it was another endless stream of delicious well cooked, perfectly flavoured  food.

There was a Doi Ilish which I also missed taking a picture of. A Tangra Machher Rasa followed

Kosha Mangsho, one of the most well known Bengali mutton preparations

Rewaji Khasir Polao - A pulao made with kid goat, this is a Bangladeshi dish not to be confused with biryani.

And a fabulous Sorse Ilish - Hilsa in Mustard sauce. Here is Chef Somnath with the platter of Sorse Ilish, ready to serve us one of the best preparations of the evening.

And here I am enjoying my Ilish!

There was a mishti doi and an array of Bengali mishti to round off the meal. I'm one of those freak Bengalis who totally ignores mishti, I don't like mishti at all. But judging by the reactions around the table, the mishtis were quite a hit!

Keep an eye out for the next Bengali festival the ITC has. If Chef Somnath is in charge make sure you come. And in case you are in Kolkata, go over to the ITC Sonar and let him treat you to a truly delicious Bengali meal.

I hope the ITC Grand Central brings Chef Somnath back to Mumbai soon!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Yazdani Bakery - a peep inside

I signed up to join The Fort Food Walk that Kalyan of Finely Chopped fame had organised and duly set off on Saturday morning for our meeting point - The Bombay Store on Pherozeshah Mehta road, Fort, Mumbai.

After an hour of a friendly session of getting to know each other we set off to our first food destination of the day, Yazdani Bakery. This place is not new to me. I've been here quite often with the hubby to buy bread for ourselves and even for our catering orders. We sourced our bread from Yazdani for many of the years we catered at the different clubs and gymkhanas in South Bombay. The older generation was in charge those days and now the next generation is in the hot seat. Nothing else has changed though.

As we approached the bakery that wonderful familiar smell of fresh baked bread and the sweet smell of yeast hit me. Oh the memories! Quick dashes on the scooter with the hubby to grab sandwich loaves before the evening rush at the PVM Gymkhana, or sometimes just dropping by to see the new varieties that they were adding to their menu, sitting for a cup of tea and a bun maska and catching a 15 minute break in the middle of a crazy day, or just driving past the bakery and yelling hello to them as we passed by.

Here I was at Yazdani again! We all trooped in to the bakery and made ourselves comfortable at the tables. Bun maska, brun maska, chai and biscuits were ordered. And we waited in anticipation.

Well, not quite! Many of us whipped out the cameras and began to take photographs of the goodies that were all around. breads, cookies, the slicing machine, a tray of beautifully browned bread pudding, the tea pantry, another tray that had slabs of butter neatly arranged, waiting to be slathered on to the buns and bruns that would be dished out.. there was a delightful picture wherever you looked.

Once the appetite for carbs and fats were satisfied, we were taken to the inner sanctum for the ultimate treat - a peep into the the actual bakery where all the real magic happens.

It was unexpectedly large, much larger than I expected. One doesn't realise quite how large this building is considering its relatively small facade. There were piles and piles of baking rays and loaf tins. In the centre of the room was a table that is probably as large as your bedroom. Weathered, scarred and even broken at a few places, it was beautiful. I couldn't resist.. I reached out and ran my hand over the surface. Smooth as silk, I could feel all those mounds of dough that had been kneaded and worked on it. I felt happy.

The entire group of fellow walkers were clustered around the tiny door of the main oven - that massive wood fired beauty that is fired up at 3am every morning and doused only at night. That oven bakes as many as 150 trays of bread at one go! Trays of pau were being loaded in to bake as were clustered around to watch. There was a massive gleaming stainless steel clad very modern electric oven just next to the wood fired one. No one seemed particularly interested in it. I guess it just couldn't compete with the cavernous monster that seemed to have an insatiable appetite for the trays of bread that were passed into its mouth!

Once we'd finished gawping we trooped out and geared up to go to the next food stop on the itinerary. I stopped to take a few pictures. The best part of my Yazdani experience was to follow.

Now the Iranis who run these bakeries are legendary for the excellent quality of their products and their total lack of manners or grace towards the clients. I was in the shop clicking away when an old gent walked in to buy some bread.

Old Man - Arrey, the soft buns are not available on Sundays!
Owner - No. They're not.


Old Man - But why not?
Owner - Because they aren't! (irritated already)


Old Man (ruefully) - I guess all good things must come to an end
Owner - (snarls) - Yes! Everything comes to an end! (points to the shop) This will end. I will end. YOU will end. So what am I to do?!

Old Man slinks off quietly.

My Yazdani experience was complete!