Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spice-Roasted Chicken

[For my darling Beeksies]

A good roast chicken is the perfect emblem of home and hearth. My spice-roasted version looks ingredient-heavy, but is just as simple as any other roast chicken. The toasted and hand-ground spices instill the bird with a smoky warmth and golden hue that is irresistible, and, by rotating the bird while it cooks (a trick I picked-up from Julia Child), you ensure perfect browning and heavenly, crisp skin on all sides.

3 tbsp whole Coriander
1 tbsp whole Cumin
2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
2 tsp Fennel seeds
2 whole Cardamom pods
2 whole Cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Star Anise
1 tsp whole Black Pepper
1 tsp whole White Pepper
1 tsp Turmeric powder
3-4 tsp Chilli powder (to taste)
1 tbsp fresh ground Ginger
2 tbsp fresh ground Garlic
3 tbsp Mustard oil
2 tbsp plain Yogurt
Salt (to taste)
One 4lb (2 kgs) Whole Chicken
2 tbsp Ghee (or Butter), melted
  1. In a large, flat-bottomed pot, dry-roast the whole spices together over high heat for 3-4 mins until golden brown. Remove spices from pot and grind them with a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl, mix ground spices with turmeric, chilli powder, ginger, garlic, mustard oil, yogurt and salt, and set aside.
  2. Wash chicken, discard giblets and pat dry thoroughly. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken and inside the cavity. Carefully loosen the skin from the breast meat and rub spice mixture under the skin. Truss the chicken with butcher’s twine, place on a large platter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hrs. About 30 minutes before cooking, remove chicken from fridge and bring down to room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 450ºF (230ºC). Place chicken in a roasting pan with the breast up, and set it on the middle rack of the oven. Allow chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, baste with ghee, then reduce the temperate to 350ºF (175ºC) and cook for another 1 hour. Turn the bird twice during the cooking so each wing side is up in turn. Baste with ghee after each turn.
  4. To check if the chicken is done, prick the thickest part of the leg with a fork. The juices should clear. Remove chicken from pan and rest on a cutting board, covered in foil, for 15-20 mins before carving.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mementos from Bar Harbor and Halifax

During lunch in Bar Harbor, I spied what looked like a surprisingly chic collection of rugs in a handicrafts store across the street. While hubby settled the bill, I decided to investigate the rugs further, and found doormats made from reclaimed fishing rope by a small Maine company called Custom Cordage. They were a perfect marriage of form and function—rugged and utilitarian, and beautifully gnarly and graphic as well. If the ropes had survived the cold, rough waters of the north Atlantic, then they could definitely withstand whatever traffic my own front door had to offer! I scooped up this dark grey one with celadon flecks and a bold yellow stripe down the middle. It picks up perfectly on the tones in the hallway carpet outside the apartment door.

This tag was attached to the doormat and explains the story behind “The Right Mat.” Watch the video below for a little insight into how the doormats came about. [Video courtesy Daily Grommet.]

In Halifax, I visited a fibre and yarn store called Loop Craft Café and bought these adorable handmade needlework notions—wooden buttons which are cross-sections of old, fallen tree branches, and a beautiful mini pincushion made from emerald green velvet and local yellow cedar burl.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A matinée on the QM2

On our last afternoon at sea, hubby and I took in a matinée performance of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Royal Court Theatre in the QM2. The cast was a group of recent RADA graduates and while the acting wasn't anything to write home about, Oscar Wilde's sparkling wit inevitably generated plenty of laughs.

Inside the Royal Court Theatre.

Lady Bracknell walks-in on Mr. Worthing proposing to Gwendolen.

Gwendolen and Cecily meet.

The two couples happily unite—Mr. Worthing & Gwendolen, Algernon & Cecily.

The final bow, with a hilarious Miss Prism (second from left) in drag.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Inside the QM2

Here you go, a look inside the majestic QM2 in all her art deco magnificence. She really is everything that she's touted to be—grand, opulent and above all BIG.

The bow of the QM2.

The 2-storey-tall grand lobby.

The stairs winding up the lobby.

The giant bronze mural above the lobby.

One of the innumerable gilded elevators.

Afternoon tango lessons in the ballroom.

"Courtside" seats in the ballroom.

The stained-glass ceiling in the Britannia dining room.

The Canyon Ranch Spa.

The intimate and luxurious Queens Grill dining room where we feasted every night.

Look, they really do polish all the silver!

The incredible staff at the Queens Grill who were at our constant beck and call, and for whom no demand was unreasonable, even lamb consommé at only 4 hours notice!
Standing from left to right: sommelier Bruno, junior waiter George, senior maître d'hôtel Beniamino, waiters Cristian and Dinesh, head waiter Damian.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar