Rum Glazed Sticky Chicken and the Kitchen Ninja’s Challenge

Picture this. It is fast forward to the second week of June 2014. The summer heat shows no mercy and the rain gods have planned a delayed arrival. You pray for rain. Then one day suddenly, as you travel to work; you see a small black cloud strolling across the skies. ‘ I hope it rains’, you silently wish. As the day progress, you see heavier, almost pregnant clouds. May be your wish could come true. As you make your way back home, a drop of rain falls on your head. The drop slowly grows to a drizzle and then a downpour. Much before you’ve realised it, you’re drenched… Yes, its the seasons first rains. As you reach home drenched to the bone, you quickly freshen up and grab a shot of rum (or your favorite tipple) to warm you up with some spicy snack (or chaakna as it is called in my native Konkani). That is it.. Sanity restored and life can go on now.

Cut back to May 31, 2014. I’m sure you are wondering why the flash forward, then a cut back to today, what is Kitchen Ninjas and where does this connect to the Rum Glazed Sticky Chicken. Let me tell you.

The story goes back to the first week of May 2014. A group of food bloggers connected on watsapp decided to do something different than regular cooking, clicking and blogging. A monthly cooking challenge was decided upon. It would work like this. Each month someone among those participating would decide a challenge. The rest then share what they will be making so as to avoid duplication and the post to be up on the last saturday of every month. The challenge we decided was to be christened ‘Kitchen Ninjas’. This month’s challenge (or theme rather) is ‘A date with Mumbai rains‘. So you get the drift now.

For the challenge I chose to make ‘Rum Glazed Sticky Chicken’. Now sticky chicken or stick baby back ribs are not a new concept. What I did different was give it the additional dash of rum. Nice Spicy chicken, glazed with rum, rainy days will never be the same. When I tried a test batch, i found it was good but lacked a certain killer punch. I realised had had left out rum’s best friend ginger. With a dash of dry ginger powder. All was good. Try it.. My word….

But before that, here’s what the other made.

Shanti Padukone from Riot of flavors

Samina Patel of Cup Cake Confessions

Mohit Chotrani of Hungry Bawarchi

Pushpa Morjaani of Papad Chai

Jahan Bloch of Toxic Baker

Amrutha Langs of Amruthas Cookbook

Antara Ray Antara’s Zouq

And here’s the recipe


Rum Glazed Sticky Chicken


  • 350 grams chicken on the bone, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon oil + some  more to sprikle on the chicken
  • 7-10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red chilli paste
  • 80 grams, brown sugar
  • 100 ml rum (or as much as you can take)
  • 1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
  • 2-3 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons, rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons, corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon, turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon, Italian herbs (I used thyme, organo, sage)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • Salt – to taste


  • Wash the chicken pieces and pat them dry. Then add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and re-frigerate for around 15-20 mins
  • Mix together the rice, corn flour, italian herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Coat the chicken pieces well with this mixture, sprinkle some oil and bake in a pre heated oven for 15 minutes at 180 C. One done, turn the chicken pieces over and cook for another 5-8 mins. So at this point you should have your chicken just slightly under cooked. Once done, remove from the  oven and let the pieces rest.
  • In a pan, heat oil and add the garlic. Saute till light brown.
  • Then add the chilli paste and cook till the raw smell is done away with.
  • Reduce flame to the lowest and add the sugar. Slowly let the sugar caramelise. Keep stirring continuously else the sugar will clump.
  • Once the sugar has melted, deglaze the pan with rum. Little by Little.
  • Once the rum has reduced, and the sauce is a thick consistency, add a bit more rum.
  • Add the chicken pieces, give it a nice stir making sure all the pieces are covered with the sauce.
  • Add salt, and the dry ginger powder and mix well.
  • Lastly add the vinegar and the parsley and give it one final mix an serve hot

A celebration of my fellow food bloggers!

I read somewhere that if it were not for the practice of sharing recipes, mankind may have long become extinct. Thank god then that someone thought of food-blogging; a forum where passionate home cooks could showcase themselves to the world at large.  In my journey as a food blogger, I have had the good fortune of interacting with you readers and cherishing the love you bestow on my blog. But today, I would like to bring to you a few of my fellow food bloggers who share my passion for food. You have probably already met a few of them in the ‘how to cook series’ and if you haven’t, I sincerely urge you, please take out time and savour each blog, feel the love for food as each of these will try and talk to you in his or her own inimitable way and experience the one thing that unites all of us- The love of food

Here they are:

Perinaaz Avari from Peris Spice Ladle: Each friday evening, as I am winding up my work for the week. I excitedly keep a watchful eye on my inbox. Why? Simply because every friday, I look forward to receiving a post from Perinaaz. Passionate about cooking Parsi food, there is enough on her site to keep you hooked. What I really like is Peri’s ability to take up a traditional Indian dish and give it a contemporary twist. I sincerely recommend the chicken farcha which i prepare almost every other week and yet cant have enough of 🙂

Stephane Gebart from My French Heaven: If French food is an art form, I must say Stephane is an artist.To call Stephane’s site only a recipe blog would be doing it gross injustice. This is a rare combination of superb pictography and truly rustic home style food.Through his blog, Stephane expresses his love for his native Bordeaux, France and the local produce from there. I cannot but help stare in amazement at the pictures he puts up and wishfully sigh. It may be difficult for me to pick one particular recipe but, I will want to try the Coq Aun Vin someday.

Namrata from My Food Tapestry: Receiving a post from Namrata is like receiving a call from a close friend. Her  relaxed writing style, coupled with tidbits from everyday and of course, backed with some eye catching food pictures make hers a blog to love. I have confessed to being a meat lover time and again on this blog, but Namrata has managed to getting me to try some of her recipes. Do try the Paneer Makhani, but don’t blame me if you’re addicted to it 🙂

Renita Mascarenhas from Culinary Zeal: You will remember I had introduced Renita as the Female Aamir Khan when she wrote the post on Food Blogging 101. Though she’s a passionate baker, I like the variety that shes maintained on her blog. So while you will see a post on baking the perfect red velvet, there is also a post on her Mangalore trip and another gadget review and my favorite how to bake the pavlova in 7 steps. If I am ever able to bake one 😦  is what remains to be seen.

Riddhi Sharma from Cook By Book: To me, the true test of a food blogger is when someone tries out the recipes and they turn out well. Despite being a hesitant baker myself, i have tried a few of her recipes and they came out well. It is amazing to watch her churn out cakes, cookies, brownies and breads with the ease similar to Rahul Dravid’s cover drive. And oh, the title of bake queen? Alas, she hasn’t accepted it as yet.

Vanya from Skinny Chef De Cuisine: Whenever someone says, home cooked or traditional flavours, it instantly piques my interest. Vanya manages to instill flavors that are robust and sturdy and yet manage to come in sync with each other like a marriage destined in the heavens. Check the post on Sayadiah or the Dry Shrimp and Okhra and you’ll know what I mean. Needless to say, once again, the pictures pack a punch too.

These my dear readers are my friends in the blogging world. Like I said before, they share my passion for food and from whom I learn so much. There are many others, who i would have liked to include. May be at another time, and another day. I’m sure you will enjoy the blogs I’ve shared. Do write back and tell me how you liked it.

Salt and Pepper Prawns

Sometimes, just out of nowhere comes a moment that makes you smile. A moment that makes you feel its all worth the effort. One such moment came in recently when Mina from The United States wrote me this wonderful email and i was delirious.

Dear Elson,

My Name is Mina and I’m from the United States. I’ve been following your blog for a while now, silently hoping to be able to re-create the wonderful Indian dishes you post. But, I’m writing for an other reason. I had a few of my husbands Italian friends come over for dinner the other day and I decided to prepare the Sicilian Style Fish in White wine.. (I used tilapia fish though) and the Alio E Olio. I must say, my guest were very impressed with my Italian cooking. It all came together like the wonderful notes in a music sheet. But, all thanks to you.

Thank you so much for your wonderful posts and the wonderful stories you tell through them.. I have spoken about your blog to my friends at work and their hooked as well.. Much like the Pied Piper of Hamelin (or India) must I say..

Do keep writing more often

Reader emails like these, my dear friends, are food for the recipe bloggers soul. In blogging, what we usually consider a solitary affair; mails (or calls or texts) like these make you want to do more and keep challenging your limits. I wanted to celebrate this with a post on fish. But, over the past couple of days, for some strange reason; there was no fish in the market. I felt like what Sachin Tendulkar must have felt in the long wait between his 99th and 100th hundred. Each walk from the pavilion to the crease heightened expectations of his team-mates, media and scores of fans, each trip to the fish market result in a crestfallen return trip back home and whatever little was available, was not worth digging into your pockets. After many to and fro trips, I seen some fabulous looking prawns. Being unable to resist, I checked the price. My fears came true. Too steep an amount. This, I felt, was going to be another wasted market trip. I walked a few steps away, the fish monger called out and asked if I was willing to buy all she was willing to give it away. I fell for it. Within a blink, I marched back home with my prized catch with an expression of having won the world cup.

The prawns were medium sized, bit large to be dunked into a curry and small enough to stay away from a Asian stir fry. But what I knew for sure was that they just needed very simple flavours and that would be it. I decided to make the Vietnamese style Salt and Pepper. Don’t be surprised if you’ve seen them in Chinese restaurants. This salt and pepper style stir fry actually originated in Vietnam and moved northward to the Chinese Mainland. Simple flavors that make the prawns the hero of the dish.

I had with with two of my good friends, a Mumbai Indians, IPL cricket match and a chilled can of beer to beat the heat. Doesn’t get better right.

Salt and Pepper Prawns

Salt and Pepper Prawns


  • 150 grams, medium sized prawns (Should be about 12-15)
  • 2 large tablespoons, cornflour
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon, Chinese five spice powder
  • Oil – sufficient for frying the prawns + 2 teaspoons extra
  • 1 teaspoon, Chinese rice wine.
  • Few sprigs of cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper(crushed), generous helpings


  • Clean, shell and de-vein the prawns and keep aside.
  • Mix the salt, pepper powder and the Chinese five spice powder and keep aside.
  • Make a semi dry mixture, using the corn flour, 1 teaspoon oil and two teaspoons water. Coat each prawn well with this batter.
  • Heat sufficient oil in a pan till it is nice and hot. Fry the prawns in the oil, for a minute till the colour of the batter changes. Take out from oil and drain on a paper towel.
  • Take out the oil from the pan and just retain a teaspoon of the oil.
  • Add the garlic and chilli. Fry till the garlic changes colour.
  • Add the prawns and give it a quick stir.
  • Now, add the rice wine and stir. Parallely, sprinkle the spice mix and stir well.
  • Add the chopped cilantro and mix.
  • Serve hot with a sprinkling of the spice mix.


Mangalore Memories and my take on the Mangalorean Fish Fry

They say when you travel, the journey ends; but the memories still remain.. Around this time, last year; I made a trip to Mangalore. Since this was a trip after quite some time; I had jotted down a few things to do and of secret recipes I wanted to learn. That decided, I began my Mangalore sojourn.

So while most of the items on my ‘to-do’ checklist got ticked off, one of the most difficult to pull off was trying to source authentic recipes. When it comes to recipes, we Mangaloreans are a thrifty lot. We find it very difficult to part with our recipes. Even if some kind aunt would share her secret recipes, it would be “illehse te ghaal re” (put a little bit of that, son) or “Don oondi yeh ghaal” (put in two fistfuls of this) leaving the poor apprentice with absolutely no choice but to assume what exact measures are ‘illehshe’ and ‘don oondi’. Nevertheless, I did source some authentic ones. Some of which I have already posted; some which I am yet to perfect and will then publish.

By now, I have told you numerous times, how much a Mangalorean loves his silverware, I mean fish and not the metal. Today’s recipe too is something I learnt and ate in Mangalore. The fish fry is a very common item on lunch menus across homes; usually accompanied by steamed rice and some kind of a vegetable gravy. Now, traditionally, fish fry is made by simply marinating the fish in spices along with vinegar and then frying it in oil. I had this version at a restaurant and pretty much liked the idea of enclosing the fish in a banana leaf. My take on this was to add a stuffing inside the fish and what better than the all time favorite, coconut.  Don’t be appaled by the picture and think the fish is burnt. Let me assure you its not. This kind of frying is popular across southern India. Only the skin, gets the dark tan, but the flesh inside is succulent and sweet with a cushion of spicy coconut filling.

On a hot summers day, fried fish and beer… “Anee kaleh zai” (what else would you want) as they say in Mangalore.


Mangalorean Styled Fish Fry


For the fish

  • 1 medium sized pomfret (or any firm fleshed fish)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon, red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon, turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil -sufficient enough to fry the fish
  • 1 banana leaf, sufficiently large to completely encase the fish

For the Filling

  • Half a coconut, grated
  • 2 green chillies (increase the quantity if you can take the heat)
  • 1 small bunch, corriander leaves
  • 2 sprigs, curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon, cummin
  • 1 teaspoon, corriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons, peppercorns
  • Water from the coconut.


  • Wash, clean the fish and carefully remove the insides taking care not to break the fish.
  • Then, using a sharp knife, make 2-3 incisions on the fish, using firm and decisive strokes.
  • Next, rub the salt, red chilli and turmeric powder on the fish and drizzle with lime juice.
  • Now grind to a paste all ingredients mentioned under the head ‘For the filling’ to a smooth paste. Use the water from the coconut to grind.
  • Rub this paste all over the fish making sure to ensure the paste is evenly distributed across the fish.
  • Wash the banana leaf well and rub it dry. Spread a little oil on the inside and place the fish in the center.
  • Enclose the fish securely with the leaf. If required tie it with a string.
  • Now heat oil in a pan till it reaches smoking point. Place the fish in the pan and cover the pan with a lid.
  • Turn the fish after 4 minutes, till the skin of the fish gets charred not burnt.
  • Once done, open the banana leaf and let the fish rest for a while.
  • Serve with whatever you like… I’m sure you’ll love it.