Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tom Yum Goong & My 100th Post

I had not believed I will make it this far,something that had started as a whim has now become a passion. Thanks to all my lovely followers and all my loyal readers,who have been a constant source of inspiration on this journey that I embarked  upon on 13th of October 2010. It has already been over 6 months and 6 days-WOW :)!!! . This has truly been the most rewarding experience for me and I eagerly look forward to creating some exciting recipes ,taking pictures, publishing the posts and waiting for the final verdict which lies in the feedback which I constantly get from each one of you:) THANKS to all !!! *takes a bow*

Today's post reminds me of my trip to Bangkok, when I was first introduced to Tom Yum Goong soup. This is a hot & fiery soup which has a medley of herbs which give this soup its distinct flavor which cannot be replicated without the quintessential Thai herbs,viz: lemon grass,galanghal which belongs to the rooty knotty ginger family and is a cross between ginger & pepper, kaffir leaves-which impart a citrucy flavor. We were at chatuchak weekend market which  I think  is not only the largest market in Thailand but also the largest in the world. You will find everything from clothes,artifacts,electronics to food here. Most of the stalls here open only on Saturdays and Sundays and stay open all day and  through the night.

 It was interesting to watch people savor the exotic dishes being served from even more exotic traditional pots. I was intrigued by so many different aromas and  could not stop but drool at the sight and smell of the food,we had come to the market on a full stomach but surprisingly after walking and shopping and bargaining for some time ,I was ready to indulge my taste buds to some of the exotic stuff I had been  feasting my eyes on . Mahir was ready too-So we found this very interesting sit-out restaurant which seemed to be buzzing with people around 1:00 A.M in the morning, when in a new place always judge the restaurant by the number of people in there. We had a strong hunch about this restaurant's popularity and sat down on one of the tables and took some time looking at the menu, all the local names  for the dishes were somewhat overwhelming and honestly we were stumped by it all. We watched the waiter who was bringing the orders to other tables and figured out that there was one dish which was being ordered more frequently than others. We closed in on that and asked the waiter to get us what he had just served on the other table,he was a smart waiter and excitedly explained what we should anticipate,he could also talk a little English so we felt confident with our order which was Thailand's most popular and the yummiest soup-tom Yum Goong.

I found this picture on the net - I want everyone to see how Tom Yum Goong is authentically served in Thailand and this is how me & Mahir enjoyed this hot and flavorful soup from this  traditional Chinese hot-pot , which keeps the soup piping hot till you have savored the last tiny sip. Tom Yum Goong is typically the soup with prawns and some straw mushrooms and large pieces of galanghal which is tender and is not as pungent as ginger.This soup is fiery hot and distinctly sour with so many refreshing flavors from the different herbs.

The rest of our stay in Bangkok was a culinary delight, but Tom Yum Goong remains my favorite till date . I craved this soup more often than I imagined I would and that was around the time I had just relocated to  the US and I had no clue where I could find all the herbs,so on one of Mahir's business trips to Bangkok,I asked him to get some lemon grass,galanghal and kaffir lime leaves . My friend Sunita in Bangkok offered to shop for all this and packed it nicely for Mahir to carry it on the flight back. It has now been  a little over 6 years here and I have found my way to all the exotic ingredients.You should look for all these in an Asian store/oriental food market  or sometimes the street vendors in China town also carry these.  I was excited to make this soup at home with all the fantastic herbs Mahir managed to sneak in  on the flight for me :0

Here is the picture of the soup I made and continue to make till date:)

Prawns: 10
Kaffir  Lime leaves: 4-6
Lime juice: 2 tbsp
Water : 6 cups
Straw mushrooms or oyster mushrooms: 8-10
Red Chilli Paste: 1 tsp or 1 tbsp depends on your tolerance for spices (nam prig pow)
Lemon grass: 1 long stem
Fish sauce: 2 tsp or to taste
Galanghal: 2 inch piece cut into medium sized rounds
Cilantro: to garnish

Notes: Crush the lemon grass  with the back of a pestle  to release its flavors,  kaffir lime leaves can unfortunately not be substitued by any other ingredient as these impart a very distinct flavor to the soup . I have also used celery,and wanted you to know it is optional.

Method: Take the water  in a pan and add galanghal,lemon grass , kaffir lime leaves and  mushrooms and let it boil for 5 minutes .When all the flavors from the herbs have released ,take it off the flame and add the cleaned and deveined prawns and cover the pan. Do not boil the prawns lest they  become hard and rubbery. After a couple minutes add the fish sauce,chilli paste and lime juice  and garnish it with lots of  chopped cilantro. You can add more or less fish sauce,chilli paste depending on your taste . This soup tastes good when it is hot and sour :)                                                                                                

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chicken Badami/Chicken Cooked With Almond Meal

Last couple weeks have been very busy for the Bhagia household. We were down south last week visiting Manasi's prospective school as she had to appear for an interview and orientation. She has yet to decide on the one school she really wants to go,but it will still have to wait till she has heard on the the regular decisions in April.

The snow has finally stopped here on the east coast,and the weather has also started to warm up just a little :) It has been a very long and harsh winter this year and I bet everyone here is more than eager to welcome the spring:) BUT we cannot be complaining ,there is so much worse happening in the world. The earthquake in Japan is so devastating and even though we cannot do much it is still some solace to see so many countries rise to the occasion in times like these. I hope the help that is being extended does reach out to those who really are in their hour of need & help. God bless everyone with courage and hope ,Amen !!!

I have not been blogging as regularly as I would wish to but I most certainly have been cooking and saving all the pictures,hopefully I will reach the 100th post very soon.

This recipe I am posting today is very simple to make but tastes absolutely delicious,for those of you who are partial to red curries this one does not have the red color but has all the flavors and just the right amount of spices to keep your taste buds engrossed with its luscious creamy texture infused with kewra and cardamom and Cinnamon. This goes very well with plain phulkas/rotis and also with jeera rice. It will taste even better if you leave it overnight in the fridge and enjoy it the next day.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Chicken cut into small pieces: 1 pound
Onion: 1 medium size chopped or sliced
Green chilli: 2 or 3 depending on your spice tolerance
Tomato: 2 medium sized
Ginger grated or paste: 1 tbsp
Almond meal: 2tbsp
Cinnamon: 1 piece (1 inch)
Green Cardamom seeds: 3 cardamoms
Cloves: 3
Olive oil: 3 tbsp
Kasoori methi: 2 tsp
Kewra water: 3 drops
Honey: 2 tsp


Take a pan and add 2 tbsp oil and let it heat. When hot add the cardamoms,Cinnamon & cloves.Now add the sliced onions and saute till golden brown.

To this add ginger,green chilli and chopped tomato's  along with salt and cook for 10 -15 minutes,till the tomato's are cooked well and do not smell raw.

Take this entire mixture and run it in the mixer till it turns into a smooth paste.

Now take a pan and the remaining 1 tbsp oil and saute the chicken pieces in this,till they turn white on the outside and the chicken is partially cooked. Now add the pureed onion mix to this chicken add 1 cup water and the almond meal. Give it a good mix and leave it on low flame covered till the chicken is fully cooked. Now add 2 tsp honey and mix it well.

Finish it with  3 -4 drops of kewra water and garnish with 2 tsp kasoori methi roasted and crushed. Enjoy this hot with roti,phulka,naan or tandoori roti :)