Friday, August 8, 2014

Using the harvest from the garden for a perfect appetizer- Caprese Salad Bruschetta

We have a small kitchen garden in our backyard - a few small patches in fact. The husband takes great care of the garden and we have a standing joke in the house that he takes better care of them than he does about the other family members. In short, they are his "babies". We have had some great harvest over the years including tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, zucchini and beetroot. Over the last years he has grown cauliflower , cabbage, eggplant, water melon, pui saag and even had a great crop   of bottle gourd last year. Based on my request, he has grown some potted herbs that have included curry leaves, basil, rosemary , chives, thyme and dill. This year, we had some rogue plants that we hadn't planted but still grew on their own based on last year's planting. The cherry tomatoes and basil came out on their own and they were crying to be harvested and used in something delicious. So I decided to turn it into a Caprese Salad Bruschetta. A bruschetta can be topped with many different options and I wanted to use the perfect Italian salad called the Caprese salad due to the easily available ingredients.


  •  Cherry tomatoes - a handful
  • Basil leaves- 1 small branch
  • Mozzarella cheese balls- 15-20
  • Olive oil- 1/2 cup
  • French baguette bread- 1
  • Garlic- 1 clove
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To make the bruschetta
  • Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Apply olive oil to the bread and place it on a baking sheet.
  • Bake the bread for 5 minutes till it turns a bit crisp.
  • Meanwhile chop the basil, slice the tomatoes and mozzarella balls into halves.
  • Combine the rest of the olive oil, basil , mozzarella, tomatoes , salt and pepper.
  • Take the bread out of the oven and rub them with the garlic clove on both sides.
  • Top the bread with the salad.
  • Put the bread back in the oven for 10 minutes or till the cheese melts.
The harvest from the garden has yielded some great cooking, including pui sager ghonto( a mixed vegetable curry with egg plants, squash and greens) and bandhakofi diye chingri maach ( cabbage curry with shrimp). I have a cauliflower sitting in the fridge with Gobi Manchurian written all over it. When I was a kid , I had seen my dad and grandfather tending to flower and vegetable gardens and now we have a farmer in the family too. Happy cooking folks! It's even more fun with fresh ingredients.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chicken Samosas- A great addition to the office potluck

A couple of weeks back, the office potluck showcased a very diverse range of food from my coworkers. While there was the usual store bought sloppie joes. banana cream pie and ice cream, there was also  roasted beetroot hummus , pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and spanakopitas ( Greek spinach pies). My contribution was the Chicken Samosa. The Indian snack that is usually made with a stuffing of potatoes and vegetables was instead a minced chicken and peas recipe.
        For the uninitiated, a samosa is a fried pastry dough usually filled with potatoes and peas. It is also called singara in Bengali. I learned making singara from my dad who was very particular about the consistency of the dough and the various folds that went into making one. And using store bought pastry dough is a big no no in my opinion. It doesn't taste the same.The filling is a mix of ground chicken with onions, ginger, garlic and tomato along with sweet peas. 

Ingredients for the filling
  • Ground chicken -1 lb
  • Onions -1 finely chopped
  • Garlic paste1 tbsp.
  • Ginger paste-1tbsp
  • Green peas-1 cup
  • Tomato-1 chopped
  • Chilli powder- 1tbsp
  • Turmeric- 1tsp
  • Garam Masala- 1 tsp
  • Salt-to taste
  • Raisins- 1/2 cup
  • Oil-2 tbsp
Ingredients for the dough
  • All purpose flour(maida)- 4 cups
  • Canola or vegetable oil -1/2 cup
  • Salt- to taste
  • Oil for Frying
To make the samosas
  • Soak the raisins in a cup of water.
  • In a wok, fry the onions till they are translucent.
  • Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for another minute.
  • Add the chilli powder, salt and turmeric and tomatoes and fry for another minute.
  • Add the ground chicken and cook till the chicken is completely cooked.
  • Add the garam masala and the green peas and cook till the peas are soft.
  • Fold in the raisins and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, mix the ingredients of the dough and add water and make it into a stiff pastry like dough.
  • Divide the dough into half the size of golf balls.
  • Roll the dough and follow the steps below to construct the samosa. 

  • In another wok heat the oil for frying. Drop 2 or 3 samosas and fry them till they are golden brown.
  • Serve with spicy ketchup or a date and tamarind chutney.
My dad has taught me making various street food like jilepi, chop and nimki. And I can only say, I have learnt it very well. I had taken about 35 samosas to share amongst 5-6 people. I didn't come back with any leftovers.
 Note:This post was written last year. The context at the beginning was the spring of 2013.

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