Friday, September 26, 2014

Mangshe'r Chop - Goat Mince and Potato Chops

Durga pujo for most Probashi Bangalis (migrant Bengalis) means visits to the pujo pandals, not just to admire the goddess and participate in the usual rituals but frequent visits to the multitude of snack shops and caterers that serve all those Bengali favourites - rolls, fish fry, fish chop, mangshe'r chop, varieties of porota, aloo'r dom... the list is endless!

Unlike most other communities, the Bengali doesn't believe in abstinence during the pujas. We do have ritual fasting but it's for just a few hours of the day. Some observe the fast strictly and don't even have a sip of water, but as this lasts from the time you wake up till noon at the most, it's not too hard to do. Even youngsters do it with enthusiasm - after all it's for just a few days every year. A bit of fasting to kick off each day followed by serious feasting to make up for the morning's penance!

Whether you're feasting at home or are pigging out at the pandals, good food and lots of it is always on the menu. One thing I always look forward to are fish fry - a microfilm thin slice of fish that's crumb fried to perfection, served with a tangy and potent kasundi and sliced onions.

Another favourite is the mangshe'r chop. My grandmother would make this at least once whenever we visited her in Kolkata when we were little. I have strong memories of her scolding my aunt or the maid (whoever happened to be helping her) to mash the potatoes properly, not to be stingy while pouring oil into the kadai,  or to leave the chops alone as they fried.

There she would be perched on her tall wooden stool hunching over the low table on which the gas burner was kept, supervising to ensure that each chop was perfectly shaped, was uniformly covered with the potato, that they didn't break while frying, that the burned crumbs were not left behind in the oil or the next chop would invariably have ugly black flecks on it. She would fry one or at the most two at a time, nudging them gently, giving them the time to fry properly till that perfect even golden colour was achieved. Of course we would be waiting impatiently so we could gobble those beauties in a matter of minutes!

Someone asked me for a recipe for mutton chops and I thought it would be nice to have it on the blog. It's a fairly simple recipe though it can be fiddly because you have to form the chops properly and fry them carefuly so they don't break. Here's my recipe for mangshe'r chop as I remember it from my Didin's kitchen.

Mangshe'r Chop

200gms mutton kheema
1 onion finely sliced
1 green chilli, minced
Half tsp each turmeric, chilli powder, jeera powder and garam masala powder
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Half tsp sugar
20 raisins, stems removed
Salt to taste
2 tbsp mustard oil

3 potatoes, boiled and mashed

2 eggs, beaten

Bread crumbs

Oil for frying


Marinate the kheema for some time with salt, the dry spices and the ginger garlic paste. 

Heat a little mustard oil in a pan or wok and fry the onions. Add the sugar and let the onions only turn pale brown. Don’t caramelise too much. Chuck in the minced green chillies, fry for a minute and then add the marinated kheema. Stir well and cook for 10 to 15 minutes breaking up the lumps till the kheema is cooked through. Add the raisins and cook covered for a couple of minutes. Dry out whatever water has been released to make a dry kheema stuffing for the chops. Taste and check that the salt is enough.

In a bowl mash the kheema as much as you can with your fingers to break up any lumps. Add half a boiled potato and mix in well. This helps bind the kheema and keep it together while shaping the chops.

Mash the potatoes with a little salt. Make sure you have a smooth lump free mash. 

Now set up your production line with the mashed potatoes, the kheema filling, eggs, and bread crumbs. 

Beat the eggs and put them in a bowl. I should have set up this shot after doing that! 

Form a ball of potato in your hand and flatten it out. Put a little log shaped bit of kheema on the potato and cover it from all sides to form a squat drum shaped ‘chop’. Make all the chops in this shape and set out on a plate. 

Put your kadai on to heat and pour in a generous quantity of any neutral oil – sunflower, peanut, whatever you use to fry stuff.

Dip a chop in the egg and coat it well. Then roll in the breadcrumbs pressing the crumbs lightly so they stick. Remember to coat the two ends of the chop too. 

Fry in hot oil till it’s a beautiful golden colour.

Serve hot with kasundi (mustard sauce), chopped onions and a fresh green chilli.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chicken Casserole with Pork Sausages

There are some days when nothing seems appealing from what's on the dinner menu and cooking seems tedious. Today was one such day that was spent largely catching up with sundry chores and dealing with a few things from the larger picture that is life. I was tired. I needed comfort. I wanted it easy for a little while. And I wanted to eat something nice. I press ganged the hubby and the mother into helping and cooked a simple casserole that was warm and comforting, just what I needed.

I had rooted through the freezer and removed the remaining fat and juicy pork sausages that a friend brought for us all the way from Bangalore. (Another friend has since brought us more, and that is waiting to be collected) These sausages are great in a stew or casserole and that's what I planned to make. However there were just 5 sausages left and on their own they wouldn't be enough. The hubby went out and bought chicken, and some lovely fresh ladi pav from the local bakery.

I also rooted around in my pantry cupboard and fished out a packet of casserole seasoning that my friend had sent from London. The hubby and the mother peeled and chopped potatoes, sliced onions, peeled garlic, and chopped celery. Once the prep was done it was super easy.

Chicken Casserole with Pork Sausages 

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
5 or 6 fat spiced pork sausages, like English breakfast sausages
2 large onions, thickly sliced
2 -3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
8-10 cloves of garlic
2 tablesoons chopped fresh celery, stem and leaves
1 sachet Colman's Season and Shake Pork Casserole spice mix
olive oil

Heat a stove top casserole dish and pour in a slug of olive oil. Place the sausages and cook for a few minutes till they turn brown. Don't worry if the sausages split. Remove to a dish leaving the oil and juices in the pan. Now in the same pan put in the chicken pieces. Drop in the leg pieces and the bony bits first. Braise for a bit till the chicken starts to brown.

Add in the onions, celery and the garlic. Stir for a few minutes and then add the remaining chicken pieces (mainly the meaty breast pieces). Braise further till the chicken turns opaque. Open the seasoning sachet and sprinkle it all over the chicken and onions. Stir and mix well. Now add the potatoes and cook for a further few minutes.

Pour in enough water to cover the chicken pieces completely. Add the sausages and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook covered till the potatoes are cooked through. The spice mix will also thicken the resulting gravy. Add a little salt only if required.

The casserole is ready once the chicken and the potatoes are cooked. Serve hot with fresh bread.

If you don't have the spice sachet you can still make a very good casserole. Use a tablespoon or so of mixed dried herbs instead, along with a stock cube. Add pepper too. Thicken the gravy with some flour.

Use more veggies if you like. Root vegetables will work very well here, as will mushrooms. Make a pot full and enjoy it with fresh dinner rolls, ladi pav, or even regular sliced white bread.

We sat at the table, all three of us, and ate a family dinner - a rarity in my house! 

Chicken Sandwiches with Homemade Mayonnaise

A simple sandwich can occasionally become a religious experience, it can be so good! This chicken sandwich was just that and I am so eager to write about it, I haven't finished eating it as yet! I have spent the morning running from the kitchen to the dining table and from there to my little 'studio window' where I now take most of the photos for this blog, just so I could capture everything in glorious detail. Of course the hubby contributed to the circus with his creative inputs and also cut the sandwiches for me so I could take that droolworthy photo you see above :)

The hubby made a fresh batch of mayonnaise, and there were leftovers of a wonderful Lebanese style roast chicken that he'd brought home yesterday as a treat for me.

We also had fresh crunchy celery in the veggie basket. Sandwiches were on the menu, no question!

The chicken was duly shredded and the celery washed thoroughly and then cut into tiny pieces, but large enough to give crunch and texture to the filling. A fresh loaf of regular white bread was bought and the mayonnaise made.

All you do is slather on the mayo onto a slice of bread, sprinkle a good pinch of that fresh crunchy celery, arrange your shredded chicken and slap on the top slice, duly slathered with mayo of course.

Here's how you can make mayonnaise at home

2 eggs
2 tbsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
2 heaped tsp sugar
neutral oil as required, in an oil can or jug so you can pour it easily.
a pinch of salt

In your blender jar crack the two eggs. Add all the other ingredients apart from the oil. Give it a whizz.  Now slowly pour in the oil in a steady thin stream, keeping the blender running,  till the emulsion comes together and you get the thick wobbly consistency of  mayonnaise.

You can also make this in a stand mixer with the whisking blade. Mayonnaise is traditionally whisked by hand, but why that when there are beautiful machines to do the hard work for you?

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Monday, September 8, 2014

Euphorhea - The Blog. On Facebook and Why

Recently a bunch of bloggers in Mumbai got together just to connect with each other, to see the faces behind familiar blogs , and to discuss ways to improve and grow as bloggers. Many issues, some basic and some complicated were discussed and the interactions encouraged and invigorated the participants into doing blog related stuff that were not getting done.

Some went home and wrote new posts and I pondered about the pros and cons of creating a Facebook page for my blog. I was already sharing links to my posts on Twitter and on Facebook on my personal page, and on a couple of selected food-centric groups there. I wondered if I would be overdoing it by creating a page, yet another space to post links. So I posted my question on the Mumbai Food Bloggers group to ask what the other bloggers thought.

The response was singular - go for it! There was not a single con, it seemed to be just a long list of pros. And they all made sense. The biggest advantage was that the page gave the blogger a platform to connect with readers.  All of us bloggers have realized that we don't get much of a chance to connect or interact with readers on the blog itself. On Facebook you can have a full conversation. Keeping in mind the fact that I spend so many hours plugged in to Facebook anyway, it seemed to me that a page for this blog was just logical.

So, here it is!

I hold the comments left on the blog itself closest to my heart. I still feel that little thrill every time I see a new one. But, it's time to move with the times so whether you want to connect here (hit the Join this Site button) or through Facebook, I'll be waiting to hear from you :)

Marathon Bloggers Project 52