“The smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us….”
Marcel Proust

I ran a fun giveaway for CSN Stores a short while ago and on offer was a Delonghi Grill or a CuisineArt Ice Cream Maker. The other day Jess from the CSN Promo Team wrote in to say they selected me as a CSN Preferred Blogger. What that meant was another chance to either review a product or give one away to readers of Passionate About Baking from their store Just Vanities or any of their other 200+online stores. I chose to host the giveaway, and you choose how you would like to spend the gift certificate.

On offer is a one-time-use $80 gift certificate for one lucky winner to use as they wish on any of the CSN websites.
All you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what you would pick from any of the CSN Stores if you win the $80 gift certificate. Tweet about this giveaway for an extra entry leaving a comment for each entry. Comments close on Sunday June 27th, and I will pick a winner thereafter.
The giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada for shipping reasons. {Yes, US / Canada addresses work} Please leave a contact in your comment or email it to me if you wish to be included in the giveaway.

Whether bathroom vanity is what you are looking for, or stuff for the kitchen, CSN has one of the best selections on the web! With over 40,000 products to choose from that store or stores such as All Modern or Cookware, you can spend all day looking for the perfect product.

While on the topic of food blogging and the charming benefits of being a food blogger, I was happy to receive a copy of Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice, a new version of the book for the Indian subcontinent, a short while before we left for our vacation. I’ve reviewed the US version of Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen here. The nice folk from Random House offered me a sneak peek into Modern Spices new recipes, and then mailed me a copy which for some reason never did reach me. They arranged for another one, and I was happy to leaf through the pages a few days later!
I loved the look of the book. The cover is colourful, vibrant, ‘spicy’ and screams to the reader to pick up the book. It’s a beautiful shot of spices and reflects everything India is all about. It reminded me of the canvas of colours and character we encountered on our recent vacation. Here are a ‘few’ pictures that I took on a day trip up into the Himalayas. The colours of India, the people, the beauty … all take your breath away. On this particular instance, we were a group of 24 folk who trekked up a steep 3 hours to a monastery perched on top of a hill . Each muscle screamed in agony, but the climb was all worth it.

Tibetan monasteries are usually located at the very top of a hill, away from civilization and amidst beautiful peaceful surroundings. They are self sufficient in nature. This particular monastery had hostel like rooms for the young, and was surrounded by independent ramshackle cottages for the very elderly.

Everyone and everything exists here is harmony. You can feel and literally ‘hear‘ the gentle breeze embrace you amidst the soothing sounds of prayer bells and Buddhist chants. The setting is as rustic and removed from the real world as can be. Each monastery has its own distinctive character and style and ambiance that surrounds it. The architecture too is exclusive to each. I have pictures of four to five different monasteries .. wish I could share it all here!

Back to Modern Spice … The book itself is divided into handy, colour coded sections and what I liked especially were the thoughtful pages for notes included at the end of each section. Neat idea! The only downside of the book, IMHO, is the lack of pictures. Maybe it’s just a personal thing, but I do like to see a picture of how a dish would look, or have a general idea of what to expect. Otherwise, I like some of the ideas Monica offers that break away from traditional Indian flavour combinations, tempting the cook to step out of his / her comfort zone. Another intriguing aspect is the inclusion of recipes like fennel and chilli-crusted tilapia and basmati rice with pine nuts and mint, accompanied by a guava bellini... global influences that make you want to think out of the box!

The day the book arrived, I was en route to making a chicken curry, and had just marinated thigh tenders in lime juice, salt and paprika. Leafing through Monica’s book made me add a few bits and bobs to the ‘recipe in progress‘, and it was a bit like my Indian Summer Chicken Curry I posted last summer. The recipe I’ve posted today is inspired by the Green Chutney Chicken in Modern Spice. It was a wonderful, light, flavourful and lovely curry for the summer, and so quick to make! I served it with dried mint lachchedar/multi-layered parathas! The meal disappeared very fast!!

Green Chutney Chicken
Inspired by recipe on Modern Spice, page 137
750gms chicken thigh tenders, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2-3 green chillies, as per taste
juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste
1 bunch fresh coriander
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1/2 small red onion
1/4 thick hung yogurt

Wash and pat chicken tenders dry.

Make a paste of the ginger, garlic and green chillies with juice of 2 limes and salt. Marinade tenders in this for 4-6 hours/overnight
Heat oil in a wok. Add the marinated tenders and cook on high heat until lightly browned, stirring on and off.
In the meantime, grind the fresh coriander, fresh mint and onion to a paste with 1 tbsp of yogurt. Stir this into the thickened hung yogurt.
Add the hung yogurt mixture to the chicken in the wok, stir well, add 1/4 cup water and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasoning, and add a slit green chili if desired. Garnish with fresh coriander and mint leaves.
Serve hot with naans, parathas or boiled rice.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

Getting on twitter earlier this evening got me a happy tweet from the lovely Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey, who had retweeted this …

MeetaWFLH: top 100 culinary blogs also my friends @lucullian & @cooksister & @vindee {The 100 Top Culinary Blogs}

Jennifer Grossi wrote in yesterday to say PAB was chosen as the Food Blog of the Day @ The Lemonade Connection

THANK YOU … I do feel very honoured and touched!
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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“I’ve been fascinated by Indian cookery since my mum took me for a curry when I was a child. It wasn’t me running away. It was doing something that excited me.”
Gordon Ramsay
There’s some thing homey and comforting in butter chicken, the curry that put India on the global culinary map. A quick Google for Butter Chicken throws up 7,220,000 results in 0.20 seconds! Phew, such is the popularity for this sumptuous curry from India that has won hearts over across the globe. Suman Bolar has delved deep into the origins of the dish … As a post-partition dish, butter chicken is a relative newcomer to the Indian culinary repertoire, and owes its existence to a man named Kundan Lal Gujral. In his book, The Moti Mahal Cookbook: On The Butter Chicken Trail, Monish Gujral, Kundan Lal’s grandson, shares the original butter chicken recipe. You can find the recipe here on Bolar’s blog. I’ve tried it and I have to say it is excellent, but the one I’ve posted today is very good too, and simpler {IMHO}. 
Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is an Indian dish from Punjab, popular in countries all over the world. The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to Delhi, during the period of Mughal Empire. Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice. It is often confused with Chicken tikka masala.
Butter chicken is our most famous dish, and embodies everything Indian. It is vibrant, colourful, robust, rich, comforting … in one word finger-licking good! In a sense, it’s got a bit of something to offer everyone. It’s adaptable as well. The richness can be stretched as you like it, or curtailed to a large extent, as I’ve done in the recipe posted below; it still delivers the punch! Immensely popular in Britain, where in the 1980’s, one would see it offered as the recommended dish on all menus at Asian foodie joints. At that time, one found it often lacked the punch and flavour, and was often just grilled chicken floating in a tomato cream sauce; very bland. That of course has changed now …
This celebrated dish find mention in British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s book Great Escape, a book about his escape to India which he thanks for bringing back his zest for life. His visit here wasn’t free from controversy though, with Christopher Hart’s article in the Daily MailWhat HAS India done to deserve Gordon Ramsay” making for an interesting read. Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani also finds mention in the book 1,001 Foods to Die For authored by Andrews McMeel; another good indicator of the international appeal the curry holds. The cuisine of India has been largely influenced by the rulers of her past – the Moghuls, the Arabs, the Rajputs and the Afghans, all significantly contributing to India’s rich culinary traditions.

Here’s a recipe I was introduced to by Monica Bhide, the author of Modern Spice. The recipe is adapted from the way her Dad cooked it, posted here. As she mentions there, and I agree, fresh ingredients hold the key to this recipe. With summer here, and a bounty of vine ripened red tomatoes painting the food markets red, this couldn’t be a better time to try it. As Mr PAB commented on eating this dish , “What shall I say? This is the best one ever!“… and this after I trimmed the fatquite a bit!!

Butter Chicken
Adapted from The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide
Serves 4–5
For the chicken {Marinade}:
1 cup low fat hung curd / yogurt
1 tablespoon peeled, grated ginger
1 tablespoon peeled, minced garlic
2 tablespoons Indian tandoori masala {I used Shaan brand}
¼ cup tomato puree
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons ghee, {or melted butter}
750 gms boneless thigh pieces, cut up into 2″ bits
Salt to taste
For the gravy / sauce:
2 tbsp clarified butter/ghee {or unsalted butter}
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic {I use my microplaner for both ginger and garlic}
5 medium tomatoes {about 250gms}, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, slit {deseed to decrease heat}
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
1/4 cup low fat cream
Salt to taste
Method for chicken:
In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, ginger, garlic, Indian tandoori masala, tomato puree, salt, lemon juice, and clarified butter. Add the chicken and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. {I marinated it overnight}.
Preheat the oven to 400Cº. Place the chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan. Pour all remaining marinade over the chicken. Roast 15 minutes, then turn the pieces over and roast for another 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven, pick out the pieces  and place in a bowl. Reserve the cooked marinade separately.
In a large skillet, heat the clarified butter for the gravy/sauce over medium heat. Add the ginger and the garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes and green chilies and cook, stirring constantly. Use the back of your spatula to mash the tomatoes as you go. Continue until the tomatoes are completely mashed and soft. {I simmered this covered for about 20 minutes}
Add the reserved marinade, salt, pepper, fenugreek leaves, and chicken, and mix well. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for another minute.
Serve hot with naan, tandoori parathas, lachcha pudina parathas or basmati rice.
 ♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Laurie Colwin

On twitter a few days ago, I had a conversation with Eleanor @ WokStar and we discussed woks we use for curries. For foodies like me interested in Asian cooking, woks, steamers, rice pots etc hold an endless charm. I LOVE my pots and pans and was happy to be introduced to a new Asian Cuisine resource at For those interested in Asian cuisine, this place is loaded with interesting information about equipment, supplies, photos, and educational articles, and includes topics such as food pairings, wok buying guides, and more.

I spent a couple of hours browsing Asian Kitchen and Dining Supplies where you can find everything you need to cook authentic-tasting Asian food in your home (or restaurant); shop for Asian woks, steamers, sushi mats and other numerous other products. I loved their quote –  ‘Unique cuisine requires unique serving dishes‘, and they have an array to gladden the heart. Interestingly, they also include a Asian Restaurant Education section which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The amount of information on offer is amazing … sushi, Asian knives, seasoning a wok, top 10 Asian ingredients, sushi etiquette, Asian utensils, spices, vegetables, pairing Asian beer with Asian food … the list is endless! Do you want to know the difference between Cast Iron and Carbon Steel Woks? You can find it here! I also enjoyed perusing the Food Service Education centre where there are 45 articles on Going Green. In addition you can follow new trends in becoming environmentally conscious. Other interesting food bites include a Guide to Thai Curries, Curries From Around The World, and Indian Curries: A Guide by Region.

My curry today is a curry in a hurry, and is ready in next to no time. It’s from one of my fave Indian cooking sites, Quick Indian Cooking written by the glamorous & oh-so-fun Mallika, or Miss Masala as she is called, and I will tell you a little more about that in a moment. If I need to make something different from my everyday cooking, find a new flavour, I need to get to Mallikas. Just being there rejuvenates me, and makes me want to get the quick Indian curry on the simmer! Have you been there? She and me have a strong curry connect. I’ve made a finger licking good Fenugreek Chicken Curry and Gosht Kali Mirch (Spicy Lamb in Black Pepper) from her blog in the past.

Which is what happened with this chicken too. Back from the meat shop, I marinated the chicken in lime juice, paprika and salt, and left it for a bit, and stopped over at  Mallikas to grab a recipe. Found this one, and I knew it was the perfect one for now, in the midst of my Follow Friday fury on Twitter. Had it on the simmer in next to no time, and once made, left it to rest for dinner.

Before we get to the recipe, I am thrilled to share with you that this super talented Mallika Basu, who is based in London, has cut a book deal with Harper Collins. Her book, Miss Masala: Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living, is soon to be released.  It’s a lifestyle and narrative cookbook with lots of quirky, no nonsense tips that no one ever tells beginner Indian cooks. In her words,  “I started my quickindiancooking blog some four years ago to dispel the myth that Indian cooking is unhealthy, time consuming, difficult and uses hard to source ingredients. I just got sick and tired of seeing how people loved the food but didn’t really take to cooking it at home. The idea was to show through my life working, juggling all those social and family commitments, that anyone could take to it if I could.”

Cookery goddess and girl about town Mallika Basu reveals her secrets for cooking gorgeous Indian food in this highly covetable book, inspired by her blog. Her no-nonsense kitchen advice demystifies all those glorious, exotic ingredients and spices, and shows just how easy and rewarding it is to cook Indian cuisine at home. Miss Masala has done the hard work in the kitchen so that you don’t have to. So much more than just a cookbook, this beautiful, handbag-sized journal fuses irresistible Indian recipes with Mallika’s quirky and hilarious tales – it will make ethnic cooking an effortless part of your goddess lifestyle. Alongside easy instructions for making aromatic Kerala Chicken or the best Seekh Kebabs, Mallika shares witty anecdotes about her high-flying city life, and gives handy hints on how to cook a jalfrezi and still head to the bar an hour later without reeking of eau de curry. Bollywood finally meets Sex and the City, and anyone who wants to whip up a meal for friends will be basking in the glory. This is real Indian cooking for busy city living! There’s even Vodka Chilli Cocktails (For those who dare!)”

Adapted from Quick Indian Cooking
1 small chicken, bone in , cut into 8-12 pieces
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
3 small red onions, sliced fine
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1″ piece of ginger, minced
5-6 medium tomatoes, 2 chopped, rest pureed
4 small green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
1-2 green chillies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp fresh roasted cumin powder
Salt to taste
3-4 tbsps oil
Salt to taste

Slice the onions finely and sauté in a large pot with the oil over a high flame. If you stir viciously they should go the perfect shade of pale gold in about 15 minutes.
In between stirring, puree or finely mince the ginger and garlic. (I microplane zester it!). Add this to the onions along with the chopped green chili and fry for another five minutes. If at any stage the ingredients start getting stuck to the bottom of the pot, just add a bit of hot water and scrape off.
Next, chuck in the cardamoms stirring for two minutes and then mix in the turmeric and chili powders.
Now add the chicken and fry for a few minutes until it goes white all over. Add in the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of water and leave to cook on a simmer, covered, stirring once in a while. The gravy will turn pulpy and dark red while the chicken softens in all those beautiful spices.
In about 30 minutes, the chicken will start separating from the bone. Open a piece to make sure it is cooked through. If it is, stick the cumin seeds under a medium grill for 10 seconds until you can smell it. Then grind it and stir in the roasted cumin powder and chopped fresh coriander into the curry to finish.
Serve with hot, freshly made Basmati rice. It doesn’t need anything else.
Note: As Mallika notes ...Maninas makes an important point here. The curry will taste much better if you leave it for a few hours and preferably overnight. That goes for most curries. I made enough to feed a friend and then my sister the next day. And boy, is this one recipe that’s going to be a firm favourite in my home.” I agree completely. Curry needs some rest in the pan, and the flavours mature beautifully, and the gravy thickens luxuriously. Reheat on simmer and you have the perfect dish before you! 
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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