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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cooking Hiatus!

Yay - mum's here! 
Which means, I get to binge on some authentic and seriously superb Bengali food for a few days.
It’s all totally jammy, I know!

On my list of 21st century Bengali must-eats are Phulkopir Shinghada (cauliflower samosas), Shorshe Bata Maach (fish cooked in mustard), Chingri Malai Curry (coconut curry shrimp), Mangshor Jhol (mutton curry), Daal Puri (puri’s stuffed with daal) and Pea Pulao (which is well, pea pulao)…

OK, hunger calls. Gotto go.
Just kidding.
But the merest thought of all of these delectable delicacies that will very shortly enter my cakehole, is making me positively giddy with anticipation. 
Round and round and round I go!!

Because, you know I’m a child when it comes to food. My mouth is a non-selective bottomless hole which will accept (pretty much) anything you give it. But this stuff? Ha! This stuff is like winning the gastronomic lottery. It's the best. It is almost too good to be true. 
But of course, happily for me, it is true.

Yay, yay and yay again!

I can't wait to get started. And when I get started, I may never stop. So I may just die eating. But at least I'll die happy. So that's good. Because as The Bard of Avon says, "All's well that end's well." I truly believe that. He was a wise old man, The Bard of Avon, who said wise old things. I'm a big fan of his, you know. He makes me go all soft in the knees.

Anyway, from Shakespeare to my sphere - the folks arrived last night, full of presents and glee and I’m just about waiting for them to settle down before I direct them to room that they will call home for the next few days (I mean the kitchen, of course) so, they can, fort with and post haste, start doing what they're here to do.

Which is to make me happy, of course. And food - as you know - makes me happy. 
(I’m terribly easy to please as you can tell)

The best part of all (just to end all potential speculation) is that they don’t mind at all (not that it would much matter if they did). But just to keep things nice and simple, they don't. In fact, to my mad, food-loving family, life isn’t complete without a good meal.  Or many. Which is really how it should be anyway.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, it's not just her. They both put themselves to good use – it’s a true partnership.
You see, he gets the groceries and she cooks.
It’s very cute.

So – very important – with the blog...I’m happy to announce that there’s going to be a slight departure form norm for a few days. I'm taking a hiatus.

Bad news – I’m not going to be doing ANY cooking.
Good news – I’m going to be eating some pretty spectacular food
Great news – I’m still going to be writing about it and you’re still going to get to read about it.

So, as you can see, this is no cause for concern. It all gets progressively better.

And once you have mum's recipes, you can create your own magic at home.
It will be amazing.
Your family will love you.
And if you’re cooking for yourself, you will love you.
Which is a very important thing to do: I love me.

But tonight, I am cooking for them.
Because they've just come and they're tired. And I'm exceedingly thoughtful and considerate like that.
And because – oh oh oh – they brought my hot sauce!
All one dozen bottles of it!
And the sauce (if you're wondering) tastes like heaven.
So now I have, in my humble kitchen, one dozen heavens.
Which I am hugely grateful for. It was no easy task, I’ll have you know – it was a veritable battle of wits between them and the formidable makers of said sauce.
(For the full scoop on this story, please check out Saucy!)

Anyhow, the bottom line is that the formidable makers of the said sauce were unable to detect the simple subterfuge contrived so ingeniously by Yours Truly and executed to brilliance by my worthy ancestors.

And brilliance must always be rewarded.  And so, I’m cooking them dinner tonight.
That, and the fact that from my own point of view, one must always ease gently into a life of leisure.

So before I embark on that wonderful life (if only for a few days) here’s what I make for dinner: honey mustard chicken and spinach salad.

It’s the absolute diametric opposite of the elaborate meals they will feed me starting tomorrow.
Easy and effortless, the whole thing takes me 45 minutes from start to finish (I’d marinated my chicken overnight though).

Still – it is received with much ooohing and aaahing. Which leaves me quite chuffed. After all, oaohs (and aaahs) are always the ultimate yardstick of culinary satisfaction.

Here’s what you need:

- 4 chicken thighs, skin off
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 4 tablespoons sharp mustard
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Here’s how you do it:

Add the honey, mustard, chilli powder and soy sauce in a bowl and mix well until it’s all one beautiful, smooth sauce. Place the chicken thighs in the bowl making sure they’re fully coated in the marinade. Now, cover the dish with foil and let marinate in the fridge for as long as possible (I left mine overnight).

When you’re ready to go, preheat the oven at 200C. Place the marinated chicken thighs into a large roasting dish, then cook in the hot oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway through cooking so that the thighs become lovely and sticky on all sides.

You’ll love the flavours in this dish – the sticky sweetness of the honey is a perfect foil to the sharpness of the mustard and the fire in the ground red chillies. Mmm…finger-licking good!

I usually have this chicken with a simple spinach salad. I don’t know why I do, I just do that’s all. I guess I always have. And it goes beautifully with it. So why touch a winning combination?

Here’s what you need:

- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 (200g) pack of fresh baby spinach
- 1 granny smith apple, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Here’s how you do it:

Melt the butter in a small frying pan over low heat. Add the pecans and brown sugar and stir until the pecans are caramelized and the aroma wafting over you is so lovely that you don't know what to do with yourself. That happens to me quite often.

Set aside to cool. And please – resist the urge to blitz through the entire lot. It’ll be hard, but I know you have it in you. You’re stronger than you know.

Anyway, in another bowl toss together spinach and the apple and the cooled pecans then add the oil and vinegar and toss again until everything is coated.

Enjoy guys.
And please miss my cooking.
But Ma’s is miles better – you’ll see!


  1. You said it right, its all about the food with mom and dad. I wish I could share in the culinary delights, sounds delicious!

    Enjoy the hot sauce, I know how much you love it!

    1. awwww, I MISS you. I cant wait to see you...youre too far away :( Do you like the blog?