May 29, 2008



We are traveling for the next two weeks and will not have a chance to post. But we're sure we will come back with new recipes and lots of pictures.

May 28, 2008

Labra-esque aloo begun aar sajne data tarkari

bengali tarkari2

Recently one of the readers left a comment asking for Labra tarkari recipe. Labra by definition is a mix of vegetables that are in season (although potatoes, eggplants or pumpkin usually make an appearance) cooked with panch phoron and little bit of mustard and green chilli paste. This combination of the masalas brings out the flavor of the vegetables cooked together. It is also a favorite in the Durga pujo menu where it is served with khichudi.

But my favorite way of eating labra is with plain rice where I savor each morsel usually discovering flavors of vegetables as I eat.

Even though this recipe replicates the steps of labra, this is not a labra as it is not a melange of vegetables, rather a combination of potatoes, eggplants and drumsticks cooked like labra. It was mildly flavored and the mustard and green chillies surprise you just when you are getting to know the taste. Here is how I made it.

Ingredients: (serves 2-3 if accompanied with other dishes)
3 medium red potatoes - chopped in cubes
1 big eggplant - chopped in cubes
8-9 drumsticks (I used frozen pack)
1 small tomato - chopped
2-3 green chillies - slit
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tspoon cumin seed powder
1 tspoon panch phoron
2/3 tbspoon mustard paste
1/2 - 2/3 tspoon sugar
2 tbspoon oil
1/2 tspoon mustard oil (optional)

Mustard Paste - Grind mustard seeds (after soaking in luke-warm water for 30 min) with 2-3 green chillies and little salt (less than 1/4 tspoon) to a fine paste. Set it aside.

Heat oil in a deep pan and temper it with panch phoron and green chillies. Then add the potatoes and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the eggplants and saute for another 2 minutes.

After the raw smell has disappeared add the drumsticks, tomato, turmeric powder, cumin seeds powder about 1/4 - 1/3 cup water and let it cook for 5-7 minutes till they are semi-cooked.

At this point add salt, the mustard paste and sugar and let it cook for another 8-10 minutes till they cooked and there is a thick sauce.

bengali tarkari

Take it off the heat and pour the mustard oil to intensify the mustard oil. Or you can garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or roti.

May 24, 2008

A-2 Farmer's Market # 2

The weather was perfect today as I walked to the Farmer's Market for quick shopping before meeting my friends for lunch.

a-2 week2

Along with fresh greens ( I got fresh lettuce), I saw a vendor selling black walnuts and couldn't resist buying some. While I was thinking what to do with the walnuts, I saw a man selling Michigan maple syrup and maple butter. I bought some pure Michigan maple syrup and as I was walking back, I got the idea of putting the ingredients together.

How about some walnut pancakes for breakfast?

May 23, 2008

Murgh Jalfrezie (Chicken curry with peppers)

Pepper Chicken

If you look at the last few posts, you will probably think that we are surviving on chicken. :) That is not true, the truth is that I am far behind in my posts. I have been cooking old and new recipes, but somehow the posts are still in draft mode.

I like paneer jalfrezi, you can see my recipe here. I used the similar recipe to make chicken jalfrezi adding garlic to the mix this time. I really liked the combination of the peppers with the chicken, it kept the curry light and gave it a nice flavor and color too. Here is how I made it.

1lb chicken (I used chicken breasts this time)
2 medium onion – chopped thinly
1 green pepper – chopped in thin long strips
½ red pepper - chopped in thin long strips
½ yellow pepper – chopped in thin long strips
2 tbspoons tomato puree
1 green chilli
1 dry red chilli
1/2 tspoon ginger paste
1/2 tspoon garlic paste
1/2 tspoon cumin powder
½ tspoon coriander powder
½ tspoon turmeric powder
½ tspoon red chilli powder
½ tspoon garam masala powder
½ tspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 green cardomoms
2 tbspoon oil
½ cup water
Salt to taste

For chicken marinade:
½ tspoon ginger paste
½ tspoon garlic paste
½ tspoon turmeric powder
½ tspoon red chilli powder
½ tspoon garam masala powder
½ tspoon salt
1 tspoon oil

Mix the chicken pieces in the marinade masala for 2-3 hours. Then heat 1 tbspoon oil in a non stick pan and fry the chicken pieces till then start turning brown. Set it aside.

Heat rest of the oil in a deep bottomed pan and temper it with cumin seeds, green and red chilli. Add the bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon. Now add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté for another couple of minutes.

Then add the onions and all the peppers and sauté for a couple of minutes till the onions turn translucent, but not brown. Once this is complete take the peppers and onions out. We will add them once the chicken is semi cooked or else they will turn into mush.

Now add the chicken pieces, tomato puree, and all the masalas. Let the chicken cook in low flame without cover with all the masalas till they coat the chicken well. Add about ½ cup water and salt and cook it covered on medium flame for 8- 10 minutes till the chicken is semi-cooked.

Then reintroduce all the peppers and onions in the gravy and let it all cook together for 7-8 minutes till chicken is done and the excess water has evaporated.


Garnish with cilantro and serve with naan or pulao. I had mine with yellow peas pulao.

This is going to Pooja of My Creative Ideas who is hosting VoW-JFI: Bell Peppers this month. JFI was started by Indira of Mahanandi and turns two this month.

Update: I didn't realise that VoW-JFI:Bell Peppers is a vegetarian event, so this is going to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted by Cate at Sweetnicks. WHB is a weekly event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

May 22, 2008

A-2 Farmer's Market # 1

One of the first things I looked for when we moved to Ann Arbor last year was Farmer's Market and was delighted to find one not too far from home. Located in the historic Kerrytown District in an open air atmosphere, it is the perfect place to browse the wide selection of locally grown vegetables, fruits, flowers, vegetable plants, herbs, jams, honey, baked goods, eggs, various meats like chicken, lamb, beef, jewelry, furniture, dried flowers, pottery and candles.

I didn't go to the Farmers market during winter, but went back this past week inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life. In one of the chapters she mentions that the first things to come in Farmers Market after a long hard winter are greens of all kinds and asparagus. So imagine my surprise when I went to Farmers Market and see vendors with different kinds of greens and fresh asparagus.

Farmer's Market

From now on, I am hoping to visit the Farmers Market every week and will document everything that I buy. This week I bought a bunch of mixed greens, fresh asparagus along with locally grown, antibiotic free chicken and small cilantro and basil plants.

I grilled the asparagus and made a fresh salad with the greens. I used the chicken for chicken tikka masala. Everything was gone in a couple of days. It was fresh and absolutely delicious. I am ready for week 2.

May 13, 2008

Extending Spring with Cake and Compote


I went for a walk near the Huron River to make the most of the gorgeous weather before the rain comes our way. As I headed over the little bridge I saw a geese family with several small babies huddling near their mother. They seemed to be enjoying the beautiful weather too with a late lunch :)


I snapped my camera out, ready to take their photos. But they were to far away for the lens. So I inched closer. Instantly, I realized it was a bad move.

The geese were possessive, keeping a watchful eye on me. Every time I took a step, they would cock their head towards me with a warning look "keep away". I knew I wasn't going to get any closer. So, I decided to call it a day.


I wasn't ready to go home yet, so I focussed my attention on the trees which were hastily giving up their spring decor for luscious green leaves and the tiny flowers littering the grass.

I came back with spring on my mind. At the end, I decided on a simple cake with blackberry and strawberry compote. I have been using mostly whole wheat for for my cake for some time now. It turns out a little more denser than regular cake, but still has all the taste of the cake.


For Cake:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tspoon baking powder
1/2 tspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick softened butter
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Compote:
1 cup strawberries sliced thinly
1 cup blackberries sliced thinly (I reserved a few for decoration)
3 tbspoons orange juice
½ cup sugar

For Cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degF. Butter and flour the cake pan and keep aside.

Sift together the flour and 1/2 cup of sugar. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Then add the butter and salt and keep beating till it all mixes well together. Be careful to not let any lumps.

Add the rest of the sugar to the egg mixture, a little at a time, and then beating so that it mixes well. Then add the vanilla extract. Now add the flour mixture into the egg mixture folding it in a little at a time like the sugar. Mix well till it forms a thick cake batter with no lumps.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake it for 45 to 50 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake, and take it out of the pan.

For Compote:
In a medium bowl, combine the berries, orange juice, and sugar. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for atleast 3-4 hours. Stir the mixture just before serving.


Compote is usually served separately with a slice of cake. I put some on the cake for decoration and reserved the rest for serving.

It looked and tasted delicious, the perfect combination of light and tart taste of spring.

May 09, 2008

Black Beans Chicken Chili


After making Kadai chicken, I had some chicken left over. Not enough to try another chicken curry so I got thinking on how I could use it. After browsing, I decided on Black Bean Chicken Chili. The recipe was easy and I tweaked it a bit adding some green peppers and carrots to the chili to make it thick and chunky. Serve it with warm tortilla and you will be licking the bowl clean :)

can crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans

1 med. red onion - finely chopped
1 clove garlic- finely chopped
chicken - I had thigh and breast piece left
1 tspoon cumin seeds
1 tspoon oregano
1 dry red chilli
1 tspoon chili powder
1/2 tspoon coriander powder
1 1/2 green pepper - finely chopped
2 tbspoon chopped cilantro
2 tbspoon shredded cheese
1 tbspoon + 1 tspoon oil
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a thick bottomed saucepan. Then add chicken and saute till they brown. Then cook the chicken on closed lid (about 9-10 minutes) till they are cooked. Remove the chicken pieces and let it cool. I cut it to small pieces and set it aside.

Heat the rest of the oil and temper it with cumin seeds, oregano and red chilli. Saute garlic and onions, till the onions starts turning brown. Then add the green peppers and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and let it cook together for 4-5 minutes.

Add chili powder, coriander powder, black beans and chicken and cook till it all mixes well together. Once it is all cooked, add the cheese and cilantro. Serve warm with tortillas.


This is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and is being hosted by Laurie at Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

May 08, 2008

Arusuvai Friendship Chain- Special Teatime!

The best part of ahaar has being part of this vibrant foodie community, being part of food-related discussion, trying new recipes, and sharing tried and tested ones. But all this wouldn't exist without the people who form the community.

You know where I am going with this, right? Arusuvai Friendship Chain, a cool event started by The Yum Blog and Bhags and Bharati where bloggers send "mystery" ingredients to each other. This exciting offer to taste new ingredients and cook with it, has caught the imagination of the food bloggers over the past few months. Read about my previous Arsuvai Friendship Ingredient recipe here.

Indira's goodies

When I came home today after a long day work, a delicious goodie bag from Indira of Mahanandi was waiting for me . As I opened the package, packets and dabbas filled with different goodies came out. There's Pappula Podi, Muruku, Mamouls, Karachi Halwa, Soan Papadi, Moong Dal, and a beautiful card. Thank you Indira!


Impromptu, I decided to upgrade the evening to a special teatime with Indira's goodies and tea in a pretty cup I usually reserve for special occasions. :) It was perfect end to the day!


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