"A couple which cooks together, stays together." Every couple have their go to line, and for us, this seems to work perfectly. We both love to eat, and we both love to eat. One of the best ways, to de-stress, is to cook up something nice, and the lows of the day, suddenly seem a lot insignificant.But sometimes, this saying manifests itself in the most unplanned of ways. On days, when hubby volunteers to cook, and suddenly proposes, I cook up a complimentary dish. Especially on days, when I have  just about stretched myself  on the couch with a book. The Pineapple Fried Rice experiment was a result of one such day.

The Pineapple was lying around in the fruit basket for a few days. Its one of the rare fruits which hubby picks up himself. One of the few times, when he sticks to our trainer's repeated requests of having his share of fruit for the day. So its very natural that he came up with the idea of Pineapple Fried Rice. It was a subtle suggestion to me. "Have you ever made Pineapple Fried Rice? I have not had it since the Hawaii visit!" It was his way of saying,"Could we have it for dinner tonight!" The man knows how to drop hints, with his signature smile. And he knows, that the smile is hard to resist. So the tropical fruit was prepped and I was all set to make some fried rice with it. Well, the problem, was that I had never made it before. I was having doubts, whether I should make it like the one I had gobbled up at the local Thai restaurant, or whether I should play up hubby's Hawaiian nostalgia. As the Hawaii trip was hubby's Bachelor Party of sorts, I decided not to tread on that path. Lets not stir those memories. The Asian connection won ! I was more at home, making some Thai inspired Pineapple Fried Rice, to go with the Ginger-Lemon Prawn Skewers, hubby had already started to grill. The flavour profile of the night was surely Tangy ! The tang of the Lemony Prawns had to be complimented with a subtle tang of the fried rice. Though, I must add, that the fried rice itself, is a one-pot dinner, and does not necessarily need a side dish.

Being a Television Journalist, I have the bad habit of writing to pictures, rather than following the route of my Print Colleagues. By the time, I had finished cubing the pineapple and grilling them, my DSLR's battery died on me. Hence all that I was left with, for this post, were some hurried IPhone shots, managed in between the stir frying I was doing.That is something which I am not too happy about. But the food itself turned out to be so tasty, that hubby urged me to write about it, even though, I am almost a fortnight late. Better late than never. I did not have much of veggies at home, so basically purged my refrigerator.There were no scallions, or bell peppers, so made do with what I had. Threw in peas, mushrooms and a heady dose of ginger and garlic. Not to forget the onion slivers. To bring in the Asian touch, it was Soy and Sriracha. Yes, its obvious, by now, that I have a weakness for Sriracha, for which I am often frowned upon by hubby. One cannot deny the fact, that it is quite a potent sauce.Especially for Asian style noodles or rice, it does work better than the host of available hot sauces. Off late, I have switched my loyalties to Dark Soy, and really loving the bolder notes. Lastly, I made the fried rice, with our regular Basmati rice, as I did not have any short grain rice, or the recommended Jasmine Rice. I know, I will be frowned upon by many foodies, but somehow I was just feeling lazy to go and pick up some Jasmine Rice at 10 pm. As I have already received requests from the man, to re-create it, I can safely say that the experiment did work well for us. Here's hoping it spices up all your date night dinners too, as it did for us. 


Pineapple: 1 whole pineapple cubed. 
Cooking Spray
Canola Oil
Cooked Basmati Rice: 3 cups
Eggs: 3: Scrambled
Frozen Peas: 1/2 cup
Sliced Button Mushrooms: 1/2 cup
Red Onion: 1 large: cut into slivers
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Sriracha: 3-4 tbsp(adjust according to heat preferences) 
Dark Soy Sauce: 3-4 tbsp
Aji-no-moto: A pinch 
Salt: According to taste
Black Pepper: 1 tsp
Garlic Flavored Red wine Vinegar: 1 1/2 tbsp
Thai Green Chillies: 3-4: chopped finely 


Grease a baking dish with some cooking spray. Add in the cubed fresh pineapples and spray some more on the fruits. Grill at around 350F, till you start to see char marks on the fruits. Keep aside. If you do not have cooking spray, simply use any vegetable oil or canola oil, as an alternative. In case, you want to skip the grill altogether, then just add in the fruit pieces to a slightly oiled skillet, and caramelise them a bit. The idea is to slightly cook the fruit, yet retaining its crunch and juices. 

In a wok, scramble the eggs first and then keep them aside. 

Add in canola oil to the wok, and let it heat up a bit. Add the onion slivers to the wok, and cook them till they start turning translucent. 

Add in the minced garlic and chopped green chilies and stir fry for a few minutes. 

Fry them, but do not let the garlic get burnt. Next add in the minced ginger or ginger paste,the Sriracha, Vinegar and Dark Soy. Mix it around, and cook the sauces for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Once you notice a slight bubbling in the sauces, add in the sliced mushrooms and the frozen peas. Stir fry them for a few minutes, mixing them well with the sauces. 

Add in the cooked rice and the scrambled eggs and add in a pinch of aji-no-moto. Mix well. Add in some more of the sauces, if you feel that it is not enough. The idea is to get the rice to be a bit wet ,sticky and spicy. 

Do a taste test. Adjust seasoning accordingly. Once you cannot taste the raw sauces, that means the fried rice is done. Make sure that the veggies are not over cooked, and retain some crunch.Turn off the heat and add the grilled pineapple on top. Mix in the grilled fruit just before serving.  

As I had earlier mentioned, it is a one pot dinner ! Garnish with some more chopped green chilies. The tang and sweetness of the pineapple, is complimented by the heat of the chilies and Sriracha.

Bon Appetit ! 


Blogosphere Inspired CHICKEN BIRIYANI

Biriyani: In our household, that simply equates to Magic On a Plate.Somehow, the local eateries in Kansas City do not seem to be serve the kind of Biriyani which we have grown up loving. The drier, Awadhi style of cooking rice and meat on 'Dum' has its own charm. But alas ! What we get served here, is usually the South Indian style of cooking Biriyani, which is not that great compared to its North Indian counterpart. So its always a better option, trying to replicate the Awadhi style of Biriyani at home. Its a trial and error method, and I am still on the path of trialling out the right Biriyani recipe. The search is always on for the perfect one.

It was a night of Biriyani last night at my Mashi's place, and again I had the pangs of replicating it at home. Trying to better my Biriyani Cooking skills at home. Hence I took a tour of Blogosphere, to see what everyone else has to say. While the basics were same, there were some tips and suggestions, which really stood out. The idea of adding drops of food colour to the rice, rather than saffron, was indeed a great one. A huge Thank You to Preeoccupied for that.

My Mashi had told me that she did not marinate the meat in her Biriyani. Yet, the meat was so juicy. My friend Srijita, had mentioned that she adds lemon juice to the rice while its getting cooked, and that helps in keeping the grains of rice separate. But after I started cooking today,I realised that I had run out of lemon juice. So tried to incorporate all the ideas I came across, tonight. The result was one delicious plate. Though I must add, that I had overcooked my rice, I feel. Should have been more careful about that. I guess, its a motivation to better it next time.

 Adapted from : Preeoccupied 

Basmati Rice: 3 cups(soaked for half an hour) 
Chicken: 1 whole: cut into medium sized pieces
Garlic Paste: 1 tbsp
Ginger Paste: 1 tbsp
Onion: 2 large: for the chicken, and 1 for the garnish
Yoghurt: 1/2 cup: whipped
Canola Oil: 4-5 tbsp
Ghee: 2-3 tbsp
Salt: To taste
Coriander Powder: 2 tsp
Cumin Powder: 2 tsp
Garam Masala Powder: A pinch
Red Chili Powder: 1/2 tsp
Whole Garam Masala: 
Cloves: 4-5
Cinnamon Stick: 4-5 small pieces
Green Cardamom: 4-5 
Mace/Jayatri: 2-3 pieces
Food Colour: Red and Yellow : a few drops each
Bay Leaf: 2
Lemon Juice: 1 tsp
Kewra Essence: A few drops

Soak the rice in water for half an hour. 

In a pan, add some canola oil and some ghee and add two chopped onion slivers. Fry them till the onion slivers start changing colour. 

Add in the chicken pieces, and the garlic paste and fry for around ten minutes, by stirring frequently. 

Once the chicken pieces start getting caramelised, add in the ginger paste and the whipped yogurt. You can whip up the yoghurt with just a fork, before introducing it in the pan with the caramelised chicken. Mix it well, and add in the dry spices, and and salt fry for around 5-7 minutes. 

Cover and cook on medium low heat, till the chicken is cooked through, by stirring infrequently.

Open the cover of the pan, and dry out the gravy completely.

Keep it off the flame. Meanwhile in another deep pan, add some ghee and add in the whole garam masala and two bay leaves. Fry them for around a minute to release the aroma.

Add in the soaked rice, and fry it around for a couple of minutes.

Add in a teaspoon of salt and double the amount of water and a teaspoon of lemon juice. If you have added 3 cups of rice, then add in 6 cups of hot water. Cook the rice till about they are almost done. The grains of rice should be a little hard, when you stop cooking them. Mix in a few drops of Kewra Essence and keep the rice covered, till you start the final assembly.
My rice was a bit over cooked. I should have been a bit careful about that, rather than indulging in the Saturday evening adda which was on in full swing. 

Meanwhile, fry the remaining onion slivers till about they are golden brown. Drain them on paper towels and keep them aside. 

For the final assembly, arrange the cooked chicken, in a large baking tray, as the first layer. 

Add in the cooked rice over the layer of chicken. Ideally the amount of rice should be double the amount of chicken. 

I added in a few drops of yellow and red food colour inspired by PreeOccupied's Biriyani Recipe. Well, I had run out of saffron. Reminded me of Craft Class in school. 

I covered the baking tray with  two layers of  heavy duty aluminuim foil and baked it 350F for around 10-12  minutes. Just before serving I garnished the biriyani with some fried onions. 

 Mix it up before serving. So some grains of rice will be colored while the others shall remain white.

Bon Appetit ! 



When in doubt, cook fish ! On days when I get super confused about dinner ideas, I reach out for a packet of fish from the freezer.No, I am not talking of the rainbow trouts, the salmons or the groupers, but the Desi(Indian) varieties. I had been taking the easier route for the last few days, and so today, I thought, why not, cook up some Fishy Goodness.This time around, I had boycotted the bigger fishes, and loaded up on my supply of chhoto maachh per se. So Ilish(Hilsa), Rui-Katla(Rohu) and Boyal took a backseat while the shopping bags were filled with Pabda, Parshe, Tengra and not to forget, Bata. Chhoto Maachher Jhaal has a different appeal to the tastebuds. To think there was a time, when I used to not like the idea, of picking out the fish, from the bones, during my childhood days. And as I grew up, my love story, with chhoto maachh just got stronger. When I first moved to Delhi, my mom was shocked that I was cooking chhoto maachh for my super lazy room mate and myself. Every second week or so, during my weekly offs,I made it a point to visit the fish market at the Bong locality, Chittaranjan Park.I remember, when my parents were visiting me once, they were amazed to see the stock of fish in the freezer. Mom's query was, "When did I learn to buy Fish?" Well, when you lust for something, then survival tactics teach you how to get it. So which fish monger in C. R Park, specialised in which type of fishes, was totally up my alley, by then.

While my mom usually makes Bata Maachher Jhaal with onions and tomatoes, I decided to skip that, and opt for a spicy Shorshe Bata Jhaal(mustard paste).Well, Bata Maachh is not one of hubby's super favorite fishes, but Shorshe Bata diye Maachher Jhaal floors the man every time. So decided to do a li'l bit of healthy cheating in this regard.The tomato -onion gravy can wait for the Tengra, whose turn is next on this week's menu.Hopefully the man, won't mind it much.The best part of the deal, was that the fish was already prepped. Usually the problem with the smaller variety of desi fishes is that, one has to thaw them, and then clean them up thoroughly. From the guts to the dorsal and pelvic fins, everything needs to be prepped well. Or else, we would land up with bitter fishes at the table, if the guts are not cleared.Often its the prep work, which deters me, but today was, I guess, my day. I just had to grind a fresh batch of shorshe bata(mustard paste), and roll on. Speaking of shorshe bata,I often hear from many friends and readers, that their mustard paste turns out bitter. Well, my two cents to this issue, has not failed me in the last few years. I soak black mustard seeds in some luke warm water for a few hours. Then along with the water, I add a few green chillies and a pinch of salt to the mustard seeds and wet grind it, in the blender. I usually make a slightly larger batch of shorshe bata, as it can be frozen in the freezer, in an airtight container for almost a month.Its the green chilies and the pinch of salt which prevent it from getting bitter. Moreover I make sure that I do not over grind it. While grinding it, I keep checking the texture of the paste intermittently. The point at which I cannot feel the coarseness of the husks, I stop right there. As often if mustard is over ground, it also tends to get bitter. Since I am not too much of a fan of using mustard powder for Bong gravies, I try and stick to this routine.


Bata Maachh: 6-8 prepped and cleaned.
Mustard Paste: 2 tbsp
Potato: 2 large, cut into longish pieces
Nigella Seeds/Kalo Jeere/Kalonji: A pinch
Green Chili: 6-8 (Adjust according to heat preferences)
Mustard Oil: 5-6 tbsp
Red Chili Powder: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Salt: To taste
Turmeric Powder: 2 tsp

Pat dry the fish with some paper towels to remove moisture and marinate them in some turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside.

Heat mustard oil in a non stick frying pan. Add the fishes one by one to the oil, just before it starts to smoke. If the oil is not sufficiently hot, then the skin of the fish will peel off. Be careful while doing this, as fishes tend to spurt oil. Don't crowd the pan, and fry then fishes in two batches if necessary. Fry on High, for around 2-3 minutes per side. As we use frozen fishes here, I tend to fry them a bit longer. If you are using fresh fish, then do not fry them for long. Remove the fried fishes from oil and keep aside.

Reduce the temperature of the oil, and add the longish cut potatoes. Fry on medium heat for around 3 minutes or so, till the potatoes start to caramelise around the edges. Remove from oil and keep aside.

Meanwhile make a mixture of mustard paste, red chili powder, turmeric, salt and sugar with a cup of hot water. 

Temper the oil( in which you fried the fishes and potatoes) with a pinch of nigella seeds and a few longitudinally slit green chilies.

As the nigella

Well, I had added a bit too much water, while making the mix, so had to reduce it for a few extra minutes.
 The gravy is on the drier side, and should be thick in consistency. Do a quick taste test. Garnish with a few more green chilies, cut longitudinally.

I am gonna serve it some steamed Basmati rice and some Mushur Daal.

Bon Appetit !



The recent cold front has somehow brought back a lot of memories associated with my childhood winters. Although winter is over for us in the Midwest, somehow memories of the winters in our homeland, were on my mind for the past few days. The season when the markets were flooded with an onslaught of seasonal vegetables. During our growing up years, veggies like cabbage and cauliflower, were primarily Winter staples. Somehow they tasted much better than the hybrid ones which we get all the year round nowadays.Winters which meant a few signature vegetarian dishes by Momma. It was the warm vegetable soups which Ma whipped up, for us, to slurp on , while watching 'Great Expectations,' on the National Network. Not to forget the vast array of Torkari and Chorchori which dominated the weekend lunches in the Chatterjee household. 

However,Torkari is not something, which is the ideal fare for a Friday night for the Dasgupta household here.Veggies are not exactly up the man's alley, and he is the one who is the de-facto chef for Friday nights. But since the man spilled some hot oil on his hand a couple days back, so he is off his kitchen duty.The man is nursing the burnt finger and getting sulky by the minute. The  grey weather is lending loads of gloom to our household. Its the weather which spoilt all our plans for the special  weekend. Barbecue plans, driving forth to the Tulip festival in Wamego, Kansas, have all been scrapped, for the Weather Gods. It all had to happen on the weekend, when we had celebrations lined up.The man and me complete another year of being hitched.Time seems to be flying !

What's for Dinner?  The man loses his smile when I mention that its gonna a vegetarian fare for dinner.But the moment I add in, Chingri Maaach diye Torkari (veggies with prawns), the vanished smile is back with a bang.Anything is good with Chingri Maachh.A touch of crustacean delight, and dinner suddenly becomes happening, from boring, for the man. It took me some time, to understand this trick.So tonight I played the same game. It is Turnips with Prawns or Chingri Maach diye Shalgam-er Torkari. The trick in this  dish is the rendered fat , which is released while frying the prawns. When the shrimps are fried with a  little bit of turmeric powder and salt, they leave behind some drippings in the pan. The idea is to add the onion paste,to the same oil with the drippings, from the prawns.Its this rendered fat helps in building the flavours of this torkari. So make sure you use the same oil.


Turnips: 2-3
Potatoes: 1 large
Onion: 1 large red onion, made into a paste.
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Tomato: 2 large: made into a paste in the blender
Red Chili Powder: 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Ghee: 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala: A pinch
Mustard Oil: 4-5 tbsp
Water: 1 cup
Cilantro/Coriander: A handful : chopped
Prawns: 1 cup : cleaned and de-veined.


Peel and cube and turnips and potatoes at about the same size. This ensures that they are cooked uniformly.

Heat mustard oil in a pan and add the cubed turnips. Well, I had run out of mustard oil, so I used Canola Oil.

Once they start to caramelise around the edges, add in the diced potatoes. The Turnips take alonger time to cook, hence they are added first.

Wait for the potatoes to start caramelising around the edges. Remove from the oil and keep aside. Add in the prawns, along with a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of turmeric. Cook the prawns till they have changed the colour. Remove and keep aside. 

You will notice some drippings in the pan, from the fried  prawns. Add in the onion and ginger paste in the same oil and fry them till the paste turns light golden brown.

Add in the tomato paste,the red chili powder,the turmeric powder and salt. Mix well. Fry this masala for around 3 minutes, till you see oil around the edges.

Add the fried turnips and potatoes to the fried masala. Mix well. Cover and cook for around 5-7 minutes.

Introduce the fried prawns and mix well. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or so.

Dunk the veggies in a cup of hot water. Continue to cover and cook. Care should be taken so that the veggies are cooked through, but do not turn mushy.

Check the consistency of the gravy, as this is supposed to be a dry dish. It should be thick and sticking to the veggies and prawns. Check for seasonings. Add in the chopped cilantro and ghee and garam masala. Mix well and turn off the heat. Keep covered to seal in the flavours.

Serve with hot steamed basmati rice or rotis.

Bon appetit !



If Kansas City is known to have the best of Barbecue in the world, then the city's best Barbecue joint, undoubtedly becomes the World's Best.Just to echo what Anthony Bourdain has to say of this famous Barbecue Joint. So when someone mentions Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City, they are referring to Barbecue Royalty.Tony lists Oklahoma Joe's as one of the 13 Places to Eat Before You Die, in an article in Men's Health. Not to forget all the episodes of No Reservations in the past 8 Seasons. As the promo of the 9th Season of No Reservations was aired, Kansas City found special mention in it.We can all guess very well, as to where Tony will head first,when he starts filming.

 For the uninitiated, Kansas City is home to a particular type of barbecue,which is very different from the Carolina style or the Memphis style of grilling meat. The KC style uses a particular type of wood to smoke the meat, which lends its signature flavour. Hickory seems to be the favorite for hardcore Kansas Citians. The next important element of any barbecued protein, is the Barbecue sauce with which it is slathered.Tomatoes and molasses are the key ingredients of the typical Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce, where local chefs add their signature special blend of spices.So when you are digging into Kansas City style Barbecue, make sure you roll up your sleeves a little bit, as it can get messy at times.

OJ's have two locations in Kansas City.While one is located closer to where we stay and is more contemporary in its decor and seating arrangements in general, its the older one, where the celebs head to. The older OJ's has limited seating, and is housed, in a gas station. Yes, you got that right ! People from all across, queue everyday, for a bite in this flavour haven. We decided to head to the older location, for our share of some meaty goodness. Just when you enter the location,the aroma of freshly grilled meat, hits you, and you just cannot wait, till you dig into your own plate.The walls are adorned either with awards and competition memorabilia or framed cutouts of newspaper and magazine articles. And as you wait for your turn to order at the service counter, you immerse yourself in simple awe, with the grilling aroma still playing teasing games with your senses.  As for the menu, we are supposed to pick up print outs of the menu, as we start off in the queue. So by the time, we reach the service counter, we know exactly what to order, with which sides. Since there was such a big choice, it was hard to decide what would be on our plates for that evening. The menu was a meat lover's delight ! Here's a peek :
 By the time, we had made it to the service counter, there was something I knew I had to try out, along with my choice of meat. It was the reference of Texas Chili which had caught my eye, at a few places around the restaurant. This particular side dish had an extra upfront payment, when one substituted it for the regular sides of fries or coleslaw. The reason being, this particular Chili had been a regular winner at competitions across the country, for years in a row. So I had decided on my side. Now to decide on the meat. Tony had recommended the brisket, burnt ends and the ribs, not necessarily in that order, though. We were a group of four, we decided to opt for all the favorites. So hubby decided on Brisket and Pulled Pork, and the two younger boys opted for Burnt Ends and Sausages.

In a move which will probably impress some Docs(read: father- in- law) back in the homeland, hubby ordered for a serving of a Pig Salad. I am sure, that when those Docs see what was on that Salad, they would rather recommend eating meat. The Greens were there, but so was the warm  Pulled Pork, in quite a substantial helping.Our choice of Honey-Mustard dressing was given separately, so that the salad did not lose its crunch. Well, I did not quite understand that, till we dug in. What we thought to be as Tortilla Chips, was actually fried Pork Rind. Decadence is the right word. The sharp Cheddar and the smoked and chopped Jalapenos, completed the party. If I am served salads like this one everyday,then I don't mind my greens at all.

Given the fact, how biased I can get at times, I decided to stick to my all time favorite. I opted for a Rib Dinner, with a bowl of  fully loaded Texas Style Chili.Half a rack of Pork ribs grilled to perfection and then smothered in the quintessential Kansas City style, sweet and spicy Barbecue sauce.A couple of slices of thick Texas toast and not to forget some pickled cucumber to cut through the grease. Well, we had skipped breakfast and almost lunch, to dig into this mouthwatering goodness at almost very late into the afternoon.

I decided to down a few spoonfuls of  Chili, before I started on my meat. I had asked my Chili to be fully loaded, which meant that the minced beef and beans stew, was topped with chopped jalapenos, red onions and some sharp cheddar. It was a dish fit for the Tornado Alley, as it created a storm of flavours inside. I could just polish off the bowl, by sopping it all up with the bread,and forget about everything else on my plate. I was on a Flavour High almost. Who said, that food cannot be a Hallucinogenic ! But it is not possible to avoid Ribs for a long time. Did my Flavour High mind imagine a halo around the ribs ? ! Nahh, it was my senses playing tricks with me. The Ribs had a lovely char on them, yet the meat was still medium rare and   was fork tender. Just the way I love it. There is a different decadence to medium rare red meat. Something which cannot be  explained in words so well. So I will not even try. No wonder the burnt ends of the Briisket are such a popular dish at this eatery. The char on my ribs was a proof of that. Luckily the ribs did not have a crazy amount of barbecue sauce slathered on them, hence I got away without rolling my sleeves up to my elbows. It was just the right balance of smokiness and flavour and piggy goodness. The pickled cucumber slices were a nice texture to the plate, in between every couple of ribs. It was perfection on a plate, if I might say so.I was supposed to go for some shopping after this lavish meal. Little did I know, that by the time, I finished my plate, I would be too full to walk up to the car, leave alone walk around around in downtown to shop. I did manage to sample some of the fare, which the boys had ordered.The Brisket did come a close second. Next time, I am in OJ's, I have decided to sample their Brisket sandwich.One look around the room, and I knew why Tony had spoken so highly of the Ribs here. Around 80% of the folks who were digging in, had Ribs on their table. Mind you, they were not a small portion(like a half slab of mine), but bigger and meaner portions. Ahhhh..I was in meat heaven !!

A film becomes a hit, when people return to the theatre, to watch it again. Similarly, eateries, become favorites, when people keep going back to them, over and over again.Well, OJ's have become a family favorite of ours, now that we have finally decided to no longer listen to the banter of the Docs back in our homeland(read: father in law), and stick to our love for the reds! So we land up getting our hands greasy a bit too often. Though I must add, that hubby is beating me to it, as he lands up there, every Friday, for lunch with his office buddies ! Well, when something is so good, then its hard not to indulge! Bon Appetit !