Confessionally Yours

My first ever novel -- Confessionally Yours -- published by Penguin (India), coming to a book store near you. Very soon. 
Oh wow. Oh well. 
What do you think?


Recipe: JB's butter chicken

Now I've loved butter chicken for as long as I've loved chicken. But I've had two problems with the restaurant butter chicken -- whether in India or in Melbourne -- I've had. 1) It always leaves me feeling really bloated 2) all the ghee/butter and cream gives me nasty gas.
Forced by my gastronomic disabilities -- love butter chicken, don't want to fart (!) -- I experimented... successfully. Now there are at least five different ways of making butter chicken and a basic e-search will give you those recipes. After trying most of them, this is a version of the butter chicken I've come up with.
What's so special about it? It uses roughly 2 tablespoons of oil, has the authentic taste and does not use any milk products -- butter, cream or yoghurt -- in it. I can hear the puritans yelling, "That's not butter chicken." But hey, try my version, you won't regret it. However, I cannot call it completely fat-free since the cashew nut paste is somewhat fatty. But bloody tasty. :)

JB special Butter Chicken
Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 20 minutes (includes marination)
Cooking time: 30 minutes, on low heat, covered
Try this with: Steamed rice, bread or roti/ chapati


For marinade:
Breast or thigh fillets 500 g (cut into cubes)
Salt 1 TSP, heaped
Chilli powder 1 TSP
Ginger paste 1/2 TSP
Garlic paste 1/2 TSP
Vegetable/Canola oil 1 TSP (of 2 TBS)
Turmeric powder 1 TSP, heaped
Coriander powder 1 TSP, heaped
For the sauce:
Onions 2 medium or 1 large, blended
Tomatoes 2-3 medium, blended
Ginger paste 1/2 TSP
Garlic paste 1/2 TSP
Coriander powder 1/2 TSP
Turmeric 1/2 TSP
Fresh coriander 2 TBS, blended
Tomato ketchup 1 TBS
Cashew nuts 100 gms, blended
Water (if needed)


Recipe: Ghugni

This dish used to be a Thursday ‘fast’ special. Papa used to (still does) fast on Thursdays, which means he skipped breakfast and a proper lunch. Mamma used to make ghoogni for him and we joined in as well. I think most families from Bengal and Bihar – neighbouring states, they have a lot of food and cooking in common – have fond memories of ghoogni.
The other day a college mate in New York – we were ‘speaking’ after nearly eight years! – mentioned reading my post on sandwiches in Australia. I had mentioned the ghoogni in passing in that post. “I wanted you to know this,” she said and proceeded to tell me that reading the post reminded her how much she loved ghooghni. She had called her mom back in India for the recipe and has since made the dish a number of times. I was quite touched. Ghoogni in New York and now ghoogni in Melbourne. Hah, culinary conquests I say!

Ghoogni/ ghugni (Sautéed green peas salad with Bengali five spices)
Serves: 2
Cooked on: Low heat
Accompanimen: A dash of lime juice along with a steaming cup of tea or soup!
Try this with: Soft, white bread or puris

INGREDIENTSVegetable/canola/olive oil: 1 TBS
Peas: 2 cups, fresh or frozen (thawed)
Onion: 1 big, finely chopped
Ginger: 1 TBS, skin removed and finely grated
Tomato: 2 medium, finely diced
Fennel: 2 TSP (optional)
Red chilli ground: 1 TSP (optional)
Dry mango powder/ amchoor: ½ TSP (optional) OR
Sugar: 1 TSP
Salt: to taste
Black pepper: 1 TSP
Garam masala: 1 TSP (optional)
Lemon juice: 1 TBS (optional)
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