Sunday, December 21, 2014

Easy Kosha Mangsho - Simmered Lamb Curry

Kosha Mangso
Kosha (stirred & simmered) Mangsho (meat) produces a lamb curry that is bathed in a thick gravy. Note that no water or watery ingredients are added during cooking in order to ensure a thick sauce or gravy. Tomato ketchup or paste is used, not pureed tomatoes, for this reason. Why call this recipe easy? Because it takes a couple of hours to cook this on the stove top. By using a pressure cooker, the cooking time is reduced drastically and the meat falls off the bones.

Bone-in leg of baby lamb works best for this recipe and purchasing from a halal meat store ensures tenderness and good quality meat. I ask the butcher to cut the leg into pieces suitable for stewing and to pack it in 3-4 separate portions. That cuts down on work once I get it home, so all I have to do is freeze it until ready to be cooked.

We generally don't eat lamb unless company's coming, so that makes it an extra-special meal. Most of the fat is removed during the butchering process, but a sufficient amount remains which gives the lamb its familiar flavor. 

It's a family tradition to add potatoes to meat dishes and I've used one large russet potato chopped into pieces similar in size to the pieces of lamb. For an added festive touch, this dish can be garnished with deep fried onions just prior to serving.

2 lbs. lamb, cut in big chunks & washed
2 tsp. Kashmiri mirch or paprika
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 Tbsp. garlic paste
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. cumin-coriander powder
2 Tbsp. tomato ketchup or paste (not pureed)
salt to taste

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
3 large black cardamom
1 star anise
2 large onions, halved & sliced in crescents

1 russet potato, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 tsp. Bengali garam masala (ground cinnamon, cardamom & cloves)
salt to taste

  1. Marinate lamb in next 7 ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
  2. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
  3. Take lamb out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
  4. Heat pressure cooker over medium-high heat and add oil.
  5. When oil is hot, sputter next 4 ingredients until aromatic.
  6. Stir-fry onions until translucent and add lamb.
  7. Stir well and simmer until juices are released.
  8. Cover pressure cooker & bring to full pressure.
  9. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes & remove from heat.
  10. Allow pressure to dissipate completely before removing cover.
  11. Add potatoes, stir well and place over medium-low heat.
  12. Simmer for half an hour or until potatoes are tender.
  13. Adjust salt to taste and stir in garam masala.
  14. Serve with Indian bread or steamed Basmati rice.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Burmese Stir-Fried Garlicky Shrimp

Pazun Hsipyan
These shrimp (pazun) are stir-fried until the "oil resurfaces" (hsipyan). Most of the effort in preparing this dish is spent in shelling and deveining the shrimp, which take no time at all to cook. Keep this recipe in your repertoire of dishes that can be prepared in a hurry. The shrimp can be cleaned and marinated in advance and then cooked just before serving.

1 lb. shrimp, shelled & deveined
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8-10 cloves garlic, peeled & diced
1 large onion, peeled, halved & sliced in thin crescents
1 large tomato, diced
1 serrano pepper, diced
1 bunch cilantro stems, diced
1/2 tsp. Kashmiri mirch or paprika
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste

  1. Marinate shrimp with turmeric & fish sauce for 15 minutes or longer.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet/wok over medium-high heat and add paprika.
  3. Stir-fry onions, peppers & garlic until onions are translucent.
  4. Lower heat to medium, add tomatoes & simmer until oil resurfaces.
  5. Add shrimp & cilantro stems and stir-fry until shrimp are no longer pink.
  6. Adjust salt to taste & serve immediately over steamed long-grain rice.
Note: No water is used in cooking this dish. The gravy/sauce is the light olive oil (white & odorless) that I used which turned red from Kashmiri mirch and tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Baked Mushroom Pilaf

Baked Mushroom Pilaf
Did you know you can bake rice from scratch in the oven? It works really well and combined with a couple of cans of soup and mushrooms, it tastes amazing! Oh, I almost forgot to mention that most of the taste comes from the butter which is the fifth ingredient! No need to add salt because the soups have plenty.

Facebook is my #1 go-to source for recipes these days. A couple of days ago, I came across a recipe called Stick of Butter Rice which I vowed to try as soon as possible. It sounded divine. Today was the perfect time to experiment because I have to take something for a Christmas potluck tomorrow. 

Normally I would just point your to the original recipe, but because I used Basmati rice, baking times were a little different and I added fresh shiitake mushrooms. The umami from the mushrooms and butter make this a winner!

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed in several changes of water & drained
1 (10 oz.) can Campbell's Cream of French Onion soup
1 (10 oz.) can Campbell's Beef Broth
1 (1/2 cup) stick of butter, sliced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425*F.
  2. Place drained rice in a 9X9 inch glass baking dish.
  3. Pour both cans of soup over rice.
  4. Layer mushrooms over top and dot with sliced butter.
  5. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 452*F for 30 minutes.
  6. Take foil off & bake for another 20 minutes just until edges crisp & brown.
  7. Turn oven off and take baking pan out of oven.
  8. Cover dish with foil and leave at room temperature for 10-20 minutes.
Serve with a salad or raita such as Fuji Apple Raita. It tastes yummy!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Baked Tandoori Cauliflower & Potato Casserole

Tandoori Cauliflower & Potato Casserole
One of my favorite food blogs is The English Kitchen, which inspired this dish. I've switched out and added several ingredients to favor my Indian palate and it turned out to be perfect!

Take it easy with the salt because grated cheese has plenty. Serve as a side dish with grilled meats, chicken, fish or shrimp.

1 large russet potatoes, peeled, sliced & blanched
1 large cauliflower, trimmed, sliced & blanched
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 oz. Greek/hung yogurt
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 (8 oz.) cups grated Mexican blend cheese 
2 tsp. tandoori masala powder
1 tsp. Kashmiri mirch/paprika
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
butter to dot the top
salt to taste

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350*F.
  2. Heat oil, and stir-fry onions, cauliflower & potatoes, cover and simmer until cooked.
  3. Season with tandoori powder, paprika and pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in yogurt, mixing it into gravy.
  5. Spray a baking dish with Pam non-stick butter spray.
  6. Layer onions, potatoes, cauliflower and cheese twice.
  7. Pour chicken broth around edges and dot top with butter.
  8. Bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes until bubbling & golden brown.
Serve hot as a side dish with grilled meat, fish or shrimp.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chicken Razala with Mint

Chicken Razaila with Mint
Legend has it that Chicken Razala was born in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) by bawarchis (cooks) in the kitchen of the Nawab of Lucknow. It is an elaborate preparation involving the paste of poppy seeds & nuts, yogurt & ghee, among other ingredients.

Here is a simplified version of the same, taken up a notch with the addition of mint chutney, that is light, delicious and perfect for lunch with loochis (puffed bread) or hot Basmati rice. If mint chutney is not available, make your own by blending a bunch of mint leaves with cilantro stems, lime juice, salt to taste and a smidgen of sugar. This chutney goes well with Indian appetizers such as samosas or pakoras.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cauliflower Stir-Fried with Yogurt

Doi Kopi
Whipped Greek yogurt adds a creaminess to simple stir-fries. Here cauliflower has been sliced in bite-sized pieces and stir-fried until it's cooked, but still crunchy. The secret is to soak the cut cauliflower in hot water and leave it to cool. This also saves cooking time, so this dish comes together quickly. 

I like to keep the ingredients simple, so the only spices used are fennel powder & Bengali garam masala powder comprising ground cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Black cardamoms are big cardamom pods that are easily removed from the dish prior to serving. Squeeze the tip of each pod to crack it so that the flavor penetrates the gravy without releasing the seeds. The small green cardamom pods are an irritant when they unexpectedly lodge in the teeth and are better served ground into a powder.

1 cauliflower, sliced in bite-sized pieces 
2 cups boiling water, flavored with salt and turmeric
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. hing/asafetida powder
1/4 tsp. shah jeera/cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 black cardamoms
2 onions, diced
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 tsp. garlic paste
1 tsp. fennel powder
1 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
1 cup Greek unflavored yogurt
1 green chili, diced
4 green chilies, slit & left whole
1 tsp. ghee
1/2 cup cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped
salt to taste


  1. Pour boiling water over cauliflower and leave to soak until cold.
  2. Heat oil, sputter hing, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cardamom.
  3. Add diced green chilies and onions & stir-fry until translucent.
  4. Scoop cauliflower out of soaking liquid and stir into skillet.
  5. Mix ginger & garlic pastes with fennel, garam masala powders and yogurt.
  6. Pour over cauliflower in skillet and stir well.
  7. Cover and simmer over medium heat until oil resurfaces.
  8. Adjust salt to taste and garnish with ghee, whole green chilies & fresh cilantro. 
Serve with hot Basmati rice or any Indian bread.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Burmese Squash with Salad Shrimp

Chayote Squash with Shrimp
Chayote squash is practically tasteless and takes on the flavor of whatever it's cooked with. Shrimp goes really well with this squash, especially when it's cooked in the Burmese way with a hint of shrimp sauce or ngapi.

This dish reminds me of Mum who made this often with fresh shrimp. To speed up the cooking process, I pressure cooked this dish which cooked the squash in ten minutes. The shrimp was added at the tail-end of the cooking process to prevent over-cooking.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spooky Orange Faces

Healthy & Easy Halloween 'Carvings'
We had a wee, four-year-old guest this last weekend, who was tickled pink by these spooky orange faces, inspired by a pin on Pinterest.

Once There Were Four Spooky Faces
I used a black washable marker to draw the faces on these California cuties.

A real sweetheart, cheerful and full of life, our tiny guest kept us entertained with her chatter, stories and songs. The house seems so quiet and empty without her.

The weather was perfect for a quick trip to Port Huron & the Blue Water Bridge.

The little girl had fun counting Canadian Geese.

We nicknamed her Miss Spotify because she's so good at spotting ships and yellow cars! This was taken at Freighters' restaurant which is located on the St. Clair river, overlooking Blue Water Bridge.  She spotted 2 ships that sailed right by the window.

Her hand turkey was added to our refrigerator art wall (bottom right corner), along with various and sundry other pieces of artwork. She's promised to return soon and we're looking forward to that!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Burmese Squash with Dried Shrimp

Squash with Dried Shrimp
Chayote squash is practically tasteless and takes on the flavor of whatever it's cooked with. Shrimp goes really well with this squash and dried shrimp even better! 

This reminds me of Mum who made this often, but she used fresh shrimp. Dried whole shrimp has intense flavor but is chewy, so I microwaved the package of shrimp in a cup of water. To speed up the cooking process, I also pressure cooked this dish which softened the shrimp and cooked the squash in ten minutes.

Be careful with the salt because there's plenty of it in the dried shrimp.

Pickled Habaneros In Mustard Oil

Pickled Habaneros In Mustard Oil
Over the summer my habanero plant produced a bumper crop of hot peppers. It was an orange habanero plant, identified as Oh (orange habanero) on the Scoville Scale with a rating of 150k-325k. In comparison, the jalapeno pepper has a Scoville rating of 2.5k-8k.

Home-grown Habanero Peppers
About a week ago, I harvested the last batch of peppers before the frost set in. I soaked them in a sink full of water for 2 days, to wash off the dust and grime. 

The Main Ingredients
My sister, Rene, gifted me a 'hamam dista' or mortar & pestle which I used to grind black mustard seeds with salt.

Pickling Spices
The ground mustard was combined with roasted chili powder, turmeric and poured onto the cut peppers in a sterilized glass jar. 

Peppers Covered with Mustard Oil
Mustard oil was poured to cover the peppers and spices. The bottle of pickled peppers was placed in the sun for a week and are now ready to be enjoyed with dinner.