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Friday, June 6, 2014

From the time I have seen the listing of this outlet on Zomato, I have been after all my friends to pay a visit . Essentially , Fifth element is an oriental food joint,  ( which Kolkata is saturated with ) but it has some things that keep it apart from the others, The restaurant is beautifully planned and i love the stairs that lead to the restaurant .

Exactly speaking, this is on the juncture of suburban hospital road and Ashutosh Mukherjee Road.

As our group hit the place we fell in love with the interiors, although the lighting was dim the place had delicate interiors and designated areas for the elements of FIRE, WATER, WIND, and EARTH... The Fifth element being the food on the plate . We received a very warm welcome from ARIJIT, who was on his toes all evening to keep our large group satisfied .

We sat in the earth room and on request the lights were brightened, I loved the aquarium in water section, the bamboo ceiling in the fire section and the wood paneling in the earth section . Although I feel that place would look much better during the day in natural night.

Coming to the food .....

Som Tam Salad : Simply brilliant in terms of texture , I think we  were served a vegetarian version , as missed the hit of fish sauce in it . The beans , cherry tomato , and nut were not overshadowing the papaya salad and it tasted delicious .

Crab-Meat Asparagus Soup : Well, it tasted divine .... The crab didn't overpower the asparagus one bit and yet had its individual presence in the soup, the meat was sweet and the overall soup was very smooth . I think it was one of the better soups i have had in the city .

The  Chicken Wantons:  were delicious and crunchy and came with a hot garlic dip, they were crunchy even after 15 - 20 mins of service .

Pan fried Chili Fish: Decent not brilliant, i think the fish they use is basa , for dry tarted it was a tad bit less flavorful. A better fish choice will improve this dish.

Corn Fritters: They were very average, flavored with kaffir lime they were quite oily and didn't please me much . It was too ordinary to be on a restaurant menu .

The Cracking spinach: This dish had always surprised me and their rendition as better than its counterparts in many other restaurant , The occasional chili in the bite was lovely .

Sweet Soya Chicken : Simply Stunning ! This was a show stopper . The juicy thigh pieces were out of the world. The charred chicken had a brilliant smoky flavor and made us go quiet .

Chili Pork: As I don't eat pork I took feedback from friends who do and they said it was tad bit over crooked but tasty.

Thai Vegetable Green Curry: This came as another blessing . Finally a green curry that did not taste desi ! I ADORED IT !

Black Pepper Corn n Broccoli: Was disappointing and I mention it to he management as well

Ginger Capsicum Fried Rice and Vegetable Hakka noodles  : Lightly Seasoned and perfect Accompaniment  to the food .

Caramel Custard : the second disappointment on the table : One of the easiest things to make in the dessert world and all one needs is correct proportion and temperature . The custard was over cooked and lacked caramel flavor .

South Indian Filter Coffee Ice-cream : HATS OFF ! one of the best frozen flavors I have had in the city , outstanding .

Well , fifth element is fairly new and has the potential of setting some brilliant trends  and breaking the monotony of the regular Chinese food we eat here in kolkata


Friday, May 9, 2014

Mutton Rezala - A Recipe to Comfort the Soul .

If you are born in Kolkata and have been a mutton fan, this recipe is sure to be a favorite . There are very few people in the world who don't like mutton rezala. If you have have Muslim friends ( I have some who are brilliant cooks ) you have always eaten this at their parties as this is a sure shot hit .

Although very nawabi , the white rezala in a native to Bengal itself and the rezala i have had in Hyderabad is brown

A rezala, essentially means REAL . and the beauty of this dish is that every recipe claims to be authentic, whereas most aren't.  few pointers of a good rezala are as follows:

  • A rezala should not be too thick, 
  • must have distinct flavor of yogurt,
  • the yogurt should never curdle or get gritty 
  • there must be a meaty flavor 
  • the kewra or rose should be only an afterthought 
  • should be cooked in ghee 
  • the should not fall off the bone
  • should not be over cooked 

I am sharing my version of the recipe . Most rezala recipes will call for nut pastes or poppy seed paste, I don't like using it .

Here Goes


Mutton 500g 
onion 3 large 
ginger 1 cm piece 
green chilies 3 nos 
ghee 1/2 cup 
cream 3 tbsp 
curd 3/4 cup 
cinnamon 2 sticks 
cardamom 5 nos 
whole black peppers 1/2 tsp 
bay leaves 2 nos 
dry red chili 1 nos 
rose water 1/2 tsp 
kewra water 1/2 tsp 
cardamom powder 1/2 tsp 
salt to taste 
pepper 1 tsp 
coriander powder 1 tbsp 
garam masala 1 pinch 
sugar 1 tbsp 

  • heat ghee and temper with bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, dry chili and pepper corn 
  • blend onion ginger and green chili in to a fine paste and add to the ghee 
  • make sure it is a heavy bottom pan 
  • add the mutton pieces and sear the meat 
  • add some sugar and cook till it starts to give out a caramel smell 
  • add the dry spices and seasoning and cook for a few seconds 
  • add the cream and a little water a cook till oil leaves the sides 
  • switch off the gas and add yogurt , let it stay untouched for a few mins ... 
  • as the yogurt adjusts to the temperature stir it in gently
  • then rest again for few minutes 
  • pressure cook or cook covered till the meat is tender 
  • finish with rose water and cardamom powder 
If cooked properly, a rezala speaks to you and talks to you , 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mirch Ki Meethi Chutney - Red Chili Relish

Chili ..... Remains my all time favorite ingredient. The bright red chilies just set my mood right . Red being my all time favorite color and I love hot food in general . Winters bring to Kolkata an array of chilies that one can make into a million things. Be it Mirch ka Saalan, or Mirchi Wadas, or Chili and Mozzarella Pops.

My love affair with chilies began when I saw "Mistress of Spices".  I had always loved the book and then was an ardent Aishwarya Rai fan. There was this poster of "Amrican Beauty" which all teenagers were dancing over and here I was looking at the posters of "Mistress of Spices" in awe.

When I began cooking in general, I know "Spice" and "Heat" were my things and chilies always have been my obedient ingredient. Be it lacing my garlic oil with a red chili or maybe making a Stir fry of chili and water-chestnuts .

 One of my all time favorite dishes is this jaggery and red chili relish. I make a large batch every year and we eat it with rice preparations and it also serves as a really nice dip with fried seafood snacks .
The recipe for it is as follows:


Red Chilis ( non spicy variety ) 500 g
Jaggery (Gur) 200 g 
Sugar 1/2 cup 
Vinegar 1/2 cup 
Mustard oil 1/2 cup 
Nigella Seeds 1 tsp 
Chopped Ginger 2 tbsp 
Kashmiri chili powder 1 tsp 
Amchoor ( raw mango powder ) 2 tbsp 
Coriander Powder 2 tbsp 
Water 1 cup 
Asaphoetida 1 pinch 

  • Divide the chilies into 3 parts . Chop one, puree the second and the third, slit in half 
  • Heat mustard oil and temper with asaphoetida and nigella seed and add ginger 
  • Saute for a few minutes and add the chopped chilies and the halved chilies 
  • add the chili puree and the dry spices and seasonings and saute till the mixture releases oil 
  • Add the jaggery, sugar and cook till they melt 
  • Add the water and simmer for 10 minutes 
  • as the oil is released again , cool and bottle 
  • keep refrigerated stays good for months 
p.s. If you like it hot , keep seeds intact, if you like it mild remove chili seeds before cooking 

Pictorial description is shown below, for any questions please feel free to ask in comments and I will respond 

Cheers to Chilies !! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Aar Maacher Jhaal - Catfish in a spicy mustard gravy

When a Punjabi comes up with Bengali food the taste of it can be quite a few speculators . The authenticity,the stature, the quality of oil to be used and then lastly Authenticity . NO my food isn't always authentic, but i make sure it is delicious and I do take the liberty of making my changes here and there not only to make my life easier but also to jive it better texture or taste .

One of the simple but delightful gems of Bengali cooking is the Maachher Jhaal ... Jhaal ideally means Hot / Spicy ! and it is nothing but a delicious Mustard based sauce to slather fried fish with . A jhaal is usually made with Rohu, Katla , Bekti, or Hilsa but I prefer it with AAR, which is a fresh water catfish.

Here is the simple and delightful recipe:

Mustard oil 1/2 cup 
Darne of Aar 4 nos 
Kashondi /mustard paste  - 1/2 cup 
Onion Paste 1 nos 
Lemon juice 1 tsp 
Chili powder 1 tbsp 
Coriander powder 1 tbsp 
Nigella Seeds 1 tsp 
Slit green chili 2 nos 
Water as and when required 

  • Apply salt pepper and lemon juice to fish and keep aside for 10 mins 
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the fish till golden on both sides 
  • Be careful aar always splutters with mini explosions in the pan so keep a lid handy 
  • Now drain the fish and in the same pan heat the oil and temper with nigella and chilies 
  • Add the mustard baste and saute for a while 
  • Add the dry spices and seasonings and saute for a few seconds 
  • add water (sat 1/4 cup) and cook it down for the masalas to soften 
  • Add the fish and cook covered for a few minutes 
  • Take out on a serving dish and serve hot 
p.s. I always replace the nigella seeds with panch -phoran which is a heavenly combination of 5 tempering ( mustard , fennel, cumin , nigella , fenugreek)
p.s. If u don't have kashondi, take mustard seeds and grind with a little water , oil and vinegar, add salt and a green chili make into a paste and use

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yumm Yumm Carrot Cake .... With a Twist of health


Carrot cake is one of the simplest things in the world .... where most people go wrong is the simplicity bit... Keep it simple and it will will hearts ... complicate it ... and it goes bleh ! Wont say much more simply sharing a recipe that I learnt ages ago and now I make a health twist to it . One winter morning my father got me really sweet baby carrots from the market and I decided to make this timeless cake that everyone loves .

Carrot Cake

Carrots 180g (grated)
Eggs 2 nos
Olive Oil 75 ml
Sugar 120g ( powdered)
Whole Wheat Flour 100g
Cinnamon powder ½ tsp
Nutmeg powder ½ tsp
Baking powder ¼  tsp
Soda bicarb ¼  tsp
Salt – a pinch
Raisins 50 g
Almonds 15 pcs chopped

  • Mix in all dry ingredients
  • Add the egg and olive oil and blend into a smooth paste
  • Add the carrots and the dry  fruits
  • Baked for 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

 This too is super easy to make and low on cholesterol .... If there is a diabetic at home please use equivalent quantity of artificial sweetener

Ciao ! 

Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting ....

I seriously don't know what is the big deal about red velvet ! In fact I make red velvet with the drop of a hat . Red Velvet - also known as Devil's Food Cake is suddenly just spreading like a rage. Everyone seems to be wanting a slice . And most places are adding red color to basic pound cake and passing it off as red velvet !
For me, the red velvet is the moistest and softest cake I have ever made and I love the addition of buttermilk and the hints of cocoa, that just deliciously woos me over and over again . Again it is also one hell of a delight to click pictures of .

Unfortunately, since buttermilk is not that easily available in India thus I use yogurt to make my red velvet cake and I think its one of the simplest things I have ever made.

Will also be sharing the recipe of the simplest Cream Cheese Frosting ever. Believe me it doesn't get any easier!

Red Velvet Cake 

¾ cup oil
2 eggs
1 tbsp Raspberry Red Coloring 
1 cup yogurt
1¾ cups powdered sugar
2 cups refined flour
2 tsp cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Few drops Vanilla 

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius 
  • Mix eggs, yogurt, coloring, vanilla, sugar and oil with a whisk 
  • Add all the dry ingredients that have been sifted together and fold in
  • Bake in a dusted cake dish and cook for 25 mins

Cheese Frosting 

Cream Cheese 100g 
Icing Sugar 300g 

  • Microwave the cream cheese for 40 secs to 1 min (till it is runny ) 
  • Whist in icing sugar and rest for 5 min 
  • whisk again till light and fluffy 
Bon Appetit...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hot Favorite American Chopsuey

One of the comfort foods that was born out of the evolution of Chinese food as it traveled across the world and each community added some of their touches and many suck favorites were seen. Chopsuey takes crunch to a different level altogether by deep frying egg noodles and topping them with a Sweet and sour sauce with meat and vegetables.

My all time favorite chopsuey is from Food Inn in Colaba in Mumbai where I was introduced to this marvel. Chopsuey lovers swear by it and other hate it, such is the drastic reputation of this high calorie taste bud tickler

Sharing the recipe for a vegetarian version of this epic dish :

Freesh noodles 200g

Tomato puree ½ cup
Tomato ketchup ½ cup
Water 1 cup
Corn flour 1 tbsp
Worcestershire 1 tsp
Chili sauce 1 tsp

Assorted capsicum julienne ¼ cup
Baby corn juliennes ¼ cup
Zucchini Juliennes a hadful
sliced shitake mushrooms 6 nos 
Sliced onions 1 small
Tomato juliennes 1 nos
Shredded cabbage handful 

Garlic 1 clove
Ginger 1 cm piece
Celery chopped 1 tsp
Dry red chili 2 nos
Chili oil for cooking

  • Deep fry the noodles and keep aside
  • Mix together water.. corn flour ..Puree ketchup and Worcestershire.. Remove lumps
  • Cook an a high flame till thick and add seasonings and chili sauce
  • Heat chili oil and sauté garlic ginger and dry red chili
  • Sauté all vegetables and add the sauce
  • Top on the fried noodles
  • For non-veg add a  fried egg on top…..

The recipe is simple and yet it has charmed so many. For non vegetarians please add fried boneless chicken juliennes to the sauce and top with a sunny side up !

Cheers !