Monday, 16 September 2019


Okay, this was long due. I felt let me do it before Bengal dives totally into the "pujo" fervour. I had four cakes in hand, felt let me stay strong with our loving island and it's neighbours today. You see, I try to keep a Bengal connection in all my posts. Nonetheless to say, Pandan leaves / Fragrant Screwpines are called "payesh pata" there in West Bengal, if I am not too wrong. They were used to be packed in rice grain sacks to enhance the flavour of a poor quality rice there. Yes, food adulteration is a big problem in my country of origin. I think Pandan Leaves is not considered this important an edible stuff there as it is considered here. When we shifted to Barrackpore, our garden had a couple of this plant until that lady plucked them all from the roots and planted her series of flowering plants and "patabahars." Who will tell her that the Almighty's less fortunate children too need toilet areas to excrete. Even our pomerarian Jenny was strictly told to excrete in the terrace and finish off with her day's "hagoo+hishu" by 2pm.... on days of exception, mani had to take shower even at 9-10pm after the cleaning job. My job was to shampoo her, get her good showers two- three days a week. The cleanliness freak us got her cough and cold quite a number of times. It is our ignorance about pet life and care that took away her life so early. Thereafter, we did not get one, its lot of an emotional drain.... mani performed all the rituals we do for a dead family member including eleven days of penance. The father took her body wrapped in a "dhoti" and "tulsi pata" to the holy Ganges with assistance from my husband. The half and full atheist complied to our mother's wish. The brother was not in his senses for quite sometime, I was because I had an eleven month old on my lap to look after. When I see pets around, Jenny's beautiful eyes come alive. Love has so many manifestations, who are you and me to make it rule bound? Set it free, only then it is real.... else it is only in "khatai kolomey" and in "Facebook status".. Love is not a mathematical Calculus Theory that you limit it to a society set formulae. Come, set your minds free and have this vegetarian, sugar free  EGG FREE PANDAN CAKE using fragrant screwpine extract.

The senior is back home and went to office within half an hour. I anticipated this would happen, so asked Cristine to prepare a multigrain atta flour dough. You remember we had the Aloor Dum in hand? The reason why I cook and keep food stuffed in the refrigerator. The son is at home today and that breakfast of mine is the proof why the living room is so dark early morning. Cristine does my "pooris" while I do it for the men and Cristine too though not always. You know South Asian women lack the ability to consider themselves as an individual, to do something to please their own selves. It is a pleasure to fry "pooris" for my men.... but I have to have the freedom to think in my terms and live my own life. When the mother-in-law tried to impose her laws on me, I made it very clear that its my life.... your friends, your relatives, your set of rules cannot define my life..... I will live my life my way, I will have my own set of friends and acquaintances who may not necessarily be in your list. You lived your life in your own terms, let me be me. The thankful wife did fry them happily within a few minutes of notice after failed pleads that he needs some rest. He is flying since last evening coming via Delhi.

Anyway, I do not mind if he visits his parents often which is his sacred duty, provided I am given to live life my way without any set rules. Just that I had to be economically independent to be in a firmer position. The question is  are all working girls "independent?"..... Can they think beyond some set rules? When did they last think about their own selves? Do not tell me you never wished to be a humming butterfly flying beyond a set boundary. Leave that, my fresh batch of "shona monger dal" has arrived, courtesy the sister like brother's wife who got it from mani's prescribed shop and handed over to "T" dada. Then, if you have a brother travelling to Delhi in the same evening, he would definitely make it a point to meet his brother like "T" dada, send "didibhai" selfies of the duo, even the pictures of his bed and the rest room where he will stay put & pee for the next few days. When anyone travels, I cannot sleep well. I need a good swim after this post and sleep until 6:30pm.... or should I go for a long walk with my headphones on playing old Bollywood numbers?.... where they take me is none of your business.... but the thing is if mumma has fried Babai's multigrain "atta pooris," she would want to fry them for him too instead of Cristine didi before settling out for a very long walk in an unstipulated path than normally prescribed humming "Chandni Raat Mein Ekbar Tujhe Dekha Hai". Thats a promise we must make .... to give our best for our own before spreading our wings for some me time with the unknown. I think I should not care for my lunch time and set out for the Punggol seaside, must do some 10ks, its about 2 years now I did not go for a running event, must sign up for the big December event.... the daddy is getting angry. My baby may be weird but two days back when all of a sudden I decided to record live the procedure of cleaning a "pabda maach" .... he silently switched off the television and retired to his room without any request from us. Mumma should not go out for her own pleasure without settling his lunch spread. Yesterday, it was only a 5:6km walk to the old neighbourhood and thereafter a very sweet plum+lime juice spoilt the effort. Today, I need to be careful.

You can see I have used bottled pandan extract and very few other ingredients for my vegetarian, fragrant screwpine flavoured EGG FREE PANDAN CAKE, beyond that is not in my capacity which I always admit. It was done in the month of June when my visiting family was here, all of us liked it though it was dense and moist in texture unlike the very fluffy ones we get island wide. Because it was decent, I decided to share the recipe with all of you. Oh finally I could write my post. From that dark and noisy living room, I shifted to the guest room with my morning cuppa, we need to concentrate on whatever we are doing.

This happens when the monkey is at home! Its easy to handle a girl child I think.




Besides the refined flour, I have used these few ingredients for the pandan cake.

Take the refined flour, baking powder and baking soda together and sieve well. Mix it well.

Take the milk, oil, stevia powder or sugar, pandan / screw pine extract in a clean blender. Blend it for 2 minutes at intervals.

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mix. Beat it with a whisk or spoon for sometime. I do it clockwise and cut through the middle. Is it ok to?

We will do this for 4-5 minutes before we add the vanilla essence. We will beat again for 2-3 minutes and pour into greased cake tins or aluminium foiled containers.

I do my bakes in a convection mode microwave. I placed the low stool inside the oven and preheated it at 180*C for 10 minutes.

Thereafter I placed one container filled with the pandan leaf / fragrant screw pine cake batter on top of the low stool.

Finally, I baked it for 30-35 minutes at 180*C. Each oven differs, so you must check the temperature and cook time of yours through a series of trial and error.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019


Yes, at times I create recipes according to the events happening around. There was no requirement to cook yesterday evening but I did to say a "thank you" to the people of the island. I lost my diamond studded gold earring while swimming and the cleaning supervisor got it back to me after three days.... can you imagine? At times I do shout at the husband that we should have moved to Europe or some other bigger country, whats the point staying here in cringed, rented apartments, sending kids to other countries for higher studies? That is when such incidents happen.... I have lost my cell phone a few number of times and got it back, here girls are seen running outdoor around 3am in the morning..... there is not a bit of exaggeration in it. Okay, there is a negligible amount of crime rate, back in 2012.. the husband's laptop was stolen from near the lift at our then condo's ground floor. A state cannot really assess the psychology of it's people but the crime rate can be controlled and here they do it beautifully. Like in Mumbai, no one would touch a middle class like us... why? There if you do not have crores of "khokas"... "bhailog" do not touch you. I really wished to go back and settle in "Mumbai .. meri jaan"... it has something that attracts me.... whatever we have saved here would have helped us own a decent flat in Kandivli or Borivli or somewhere in Navi Mumbai but what thereafter? Now we cannot given the family expenses.... you cannot deny responsibilities, the husband is not to get respite any sooner. So, when he drives to office everyday for 40 minutes instead of taking a metro from the opposite of our condo gate which takes him merely 20 minutes to reach his office, I allow. Life at the sea is rough, these people earned and sent home resources we all used, they spent 3-4 months per year on land years after years..... they are not money making machines, they must enjoy the rest of their lives. For this reason, I allowed him to stay in a hotel paying from his pocket, that too in his hometown. How many wine bottles comes to his room is my concern actually. As of my life, I find out new ways for my entertainment, I am happy that people at home let me be but I am gradually knowing my fate. The rest of some people have fun scaring me with "shap, byang, chucho, tiktiki, konkal" and I know I am going to breathe my last sooner of those nightmarish thoughts. Anyway, before that I wish to cook at lot, talk a lot. It was fun cooking this vegetarian rice bowl TOFU MUSHROOM RICE for the family and serve it with "mota aloo bhaja o Bangali scrambled egg".. Really cannot have it the way westerners have their scrambled egg as.... the husband does.

Each day I think of wrapping up quick but see how I keep talking endlessly and irrelevant. I overlook or miss many a posts in social media even of my friends most of the time, I am so busy speaking for myself. However, I chanced upon a post by another blogger that there are word limits for a blog post as part of SEO rules. I know less, I have so many tales in my kitty to carry on uninterrupted. Anyway, if someone is trying to put through an important message, we must listen to it. Social Media forums may provide you space to express yourself but your ultimate pride lies in being an published author.... that is independent working. A couple of fellow bloggers asked me to join and blog in groups in the past few years, I refused. Whats the point in few people visiting each other's blog posts and commenting as part of their routine exercise. I get no high from such ideas, I would work independently.  I cannot work on an instructed script at this age. In my last school at work I was entrusted with jobs that my colleagues refused, because I cannot say a no so I did. Then I felt why  am I wasting my time here teaching something I do not enjoy, repeated requests to give me few History and English classes went in vein. Ask me why?... because I never did visit the administrative head unnecessarily to get in to the good book.... I am a teacher, not an informer. I have always believed that my work should be the only proof of my sincerity. Okay, one sitting in the admin chair has to be a little less of "principled" but the person I hinted at is totally a puppet with no backbone.... liked only the teachers who went and sat in that room for hours, irrespective of the fact how they taught.... Indian Education System requires to get rid of this kind of malices.... the reason I do not pester the husband to gift me gold every year, if the son has wished to be a part of a better system of education, we must try to get him that. If a cleaning supervisor has got my expensive jewelry back, I must not have lots of dry fruits today on my food plate. Life has taught me to be this little humble. Hope my readers will enjoy this platter of  a vegetarian main with TOFU MUSHROOM RICE and sides of spicy Bengali style scrambled eggs and store bought French Fries... but yes our homes do make better "mota aloo bhaja." You know someone who is travelling at the moment loves the son way too much, each night I have a lot to complain against the millennial, he keeps silent in solidarity with the teen.... does not listen to me.




We have cubed the tofu, washed, drained and marinated it with very little amount of salt and 2tbsp light soya sauce. We have washed the mushrooms, drained and marinated it with very little amount of salt and 2tbsp of light soya sauce. We would keep them at rest for 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile we have cooked the rice in enough water until 60-70% done and kept to strain for an hour.

We have cubed the onion, chopped the coriander, slitted the green chillies, minced the garlic and washed them separately.

Cristine helps with this part.

Now we will take the cornflour in a bowl, take the tofu cubes out of the marinade and coat well with the cornflour. Heat the frying oil and lightly fry the cornflour coated tofu cubes. Take out.

Heat the sesame oil taken on a clean pan or wok. Add and stir the minced garlic just until light brown.

Add the cubed onion and stir until translucent.

Add the slitted green chillies now and stir for a minute.

Now we will add the sliced mushrooms along with the marinade and stir at high heat until the marinade gets semi dry.

You can see me adding some freshly ground black pepper. Thereafter we will add the fried tofu pieces and stir.

We will add the cooked and strained rice and chopped coriander now. We will fold in well and stir the entire thing at high heat for 2 minutes.

Adjust the salt if only required. Come taste, your mother is not watching.

We so enjoyed it with French Fries and a Bengali way of scrambled egg.

Monday, 9 September 2019


I am starting late this morning, I again discovered dust inside the remote  holes at the backside of the stand fans, caught hold of the poor girl and told her that within two hours from now I want a thorough cleaning. This girl never argues and not really is a lazy bun... just that her cleaning services is not at par with my expectations. I know to maintain my standard at home, I have to work, instructions alone are not fruitful.... why I have become such a lazy I do not know. Perhaps so the husband may be staying in a hotel on his this visit to Kolkata. He is on work in Delhi and thereafter he is to visit his parents. We both love our privacy end of the day, so he is unwilling to stay at his parent's home during the night time and how can he? There are two sick elderlies and four helps in a 750sq.ft. apartment. I think on his last visit, I monitored him so much that he is unwilling to stay in his own home. I told him let me or mani ask Zahida to come for cleaning. This girl Zahida does too dirty work unless me or my mother monitor.... I had been reported that while Zahida's dada was sleeping on his couch, she did "fakibazi" as much as possible. Her dada told me on return that she did everything he asked her to, but I am pretty sure have I had taken the next flight after his return to the island last time, I would have been into tears looking at the condition of my home. Unless our mother goes after Diwali and does some job along with Zahida, it would not look decent. The husband perhaps got fed up with my enquiries last month "Bidisha sofa-bichana jherey tarpor dhekechey to?" "ashar agey bathroom duto khokon ke diye porishkar koriye ashtey partey" ... So this time he told me " ami thakboi na tomar bari, hotel e thakbo"... I got softer and pleaded "aha thakbena keno, ami ki tai bolechi... Zahida dusting-cleaning ta thikmoto korlo kina dekhlei hoy".... I do not know why he does not wish to spend the night time with his parents... Though he says he needs a relaxing night sleep after a long day, I may ask the brother & his wife or his sister to appoint a "Feluda or Mitin Mashi" to keep a watch on him. Okay okay lah, its my fault that I am too much of a cleanliness freak but yes, age is taking over, moreover in a smaller flat you cannot get exactly that level of clean corners as you wish. However, no one would remember how sparkling white my commode looked because the rest of the girls would reach the moon soon. Be them, not me or my mother. I told her, keep her telling "Mani tumi bhul korecho, amio.... eei prithibitey amra nishproyojoniyo".... How this short statured lady ran from this door to that door to get her kids admitted to a Loreto, Auxilium, St.James or Calcutta Boys without any help or botheration from her "bindas" husband that I remember. Her kids thanklessly did not fulfil her dreams but it is okay... she may not have met a weird son-in-law had I not being in that school I went, neither would you get spiced up stories laced with half truth from this lady today, a series of. You see, the source of a story is always in a skeletal form, a story teller adds flesh and blood to it... gives it life.... do not ask me why I love fictions.... its obvious for me. Okay, I do bond with my "rosh kosh heen mejaji" husband over few things, of which ilish / hilsa is one. If I have started the talk with family today, let us share a recipe with a family favourite fish ilish / hilsa. This cooking of hilsa  with okra, pointed gourd, pumpkin in thin coconut milk BHINDI KUMRO POTOL DIYE NARKOL ILISH is definitely not a common Bengali way of doing it. I just wished to get a variation in the curry base, we may have it once or twice a year, love would always be a "kalojeerey kanchalanka diye ilish... begun diley aro bhalo, shorshe bata diye paturi ba bhapa"...

I continue to be what I was, yesterday had a very late lunch.... so once Cristine was back from her Sunday outdoor tour, I told her let P and me not have fish, dal and rice for dinner. The son had "ruti butter chini roll" and me that "ruti-butter" with fine Darjeeling around 10:30 pm. I was hungry this morning and had "muri badam makha" with fine Darjeeling again. Now shall have a cup of chamomile, tea infusions help you if you are having headaches, mild nausea.

Yesterday around 2pm, I asked the son to get food from the mall which is at the other side of the road. He usually gets happy when mumma allows him outside food, somedays he takes an MRT to somewhere and comes home late. It was past 3:45pm, I called him and told mumma is hungry, she wants to go to the mall and have a Bento Meal. He came back and I went out. No point asking who he was with.... a boy, a girl or just alone like his mother. Oh! I love the 5.50$ Bento Meal with chicken terriyaki & fish fry. Anyway, because the son was served store bought "ruti" yesterday night, I may be doing some "porota" and serve him with the "bandhakopir ghonto" once he is back from the school, if I go for a lone trip to the China Town which I may if I feel better after sipping the chamomile .... Cristine didi would do the "porotas"... I enjoy my trips to the China Town, have not visited the Buddhist Temple nearby for ages. A very good thing about it is that it allows a woman all 30-31 days of a month and gives you "noodles proshad".... they have a beautiful terrace where we can sit and get lost in some kind of a thought process, I love whoever or whatever let me be. Damn it, I am so prejudiced.... As of now, I feel I need to go out wandering alone today, desperately willing, before that I must share with you this non vegetarian hilsa fish curry with light coconut milk, pumpkin, okra and pointed gourd BHINDI KUMRO POTOL DIYE NARKOL ILISH. We do have a millennial at home who to my surprise enjoys fish eggs, of hilsa specially but does not eat raisin.... it boils down to the same point  ... that it is a millennial. You can use Chinese Gizzard Shad for the curry or with any fish but we would stick to a good quality hilsa to show our love always! Remember, a fish with egg compromises with the taste but for us fish egg is a bonus.


OKRA : 6-7


We would always use the pieces from the mid portion of hilsa for a curry. "gada o koler tukro".. We would wash them well but not too many times... yes it's blood adds to the taste of the curry. But discard the blood laden water you see in the bowl.

Bengalis do not usually add the head and tail ends of a hilsa to curries. We add them to mixed veg medleys or eat deep fried.

Now rub little salt and turmeric to the hilsa pieces and keep aside for 5-6 minutes.

Cut the two ends of the pointed gourds, peel off the skin keeping a gap, cut half. Wash and rub with little salt and turmeric.

Peel off the pumpkin and discard the inner layer. Now cut into cubes, wash and rub with salt and turmeric.

Wash and cut the stem end of the okras, rub with little salt.

Heat oil in a wok and lightly fry the pointed gourds, take out. Repeat the same with the pumpkin cubes, take out. 

In the same oil, lightly fry the fish pieces. Take out. 

Meanwhile we have prepared a paste with the ginger and green chilli paste, turmeric + cumin powders, salt as required adding a little water.

Temper the same oil with the nigella seeds and dry red chillies. Add the spice paste and stir fry at low heat for 11/2-2 minutes. Add a coffee mug of water, stir and bring it to boil.

Add the salt marinated okra, lightly fried pointed gourds. 

Cover cook at low heat for 2 minutes. Open cover and add the lightly fried fish pieces and the pumpkin cubes. Cover cook at the lowest heat for a minute or 2.

Open cover, add the coconut milk and simmer at low heat, covered for 2-3 minutes.

We are done!

We enjoyed the hilsa curry with steamed rice, garlicky okra and mango dal.

Friday, 6 September 2019


This is something I always enjoy having with piping hot rice. Few decades back such kinds would have been my third option, keeping a fish curry or fry at forth or even a meat curry given meat was a weekly once affair.... hence we treated it as a weekend celebration. Now, I have crossed the prime phase of my life..... meat is no more the main interest although I am unwilling to quit it... fresh water fish still remains a love. We do not get the kind of fish I prefer here in this island on a regular basis, so I lean more on the vegetarian dishes that I have grown up eating. By God's grace, this island sells those vegetables that Bengali homes eat.... we even get packeted jackfruit and broad bean seeds. I saw the grandmother and mother roasting broad bean seeds in sand and then storing them for year long to be used in curries. It is not possible to follow every step of them in our modern homes, some I do... those which I can. This very rustic, humble vegetarian dish with cauliflower leaves & stem FULKOPIR PATA BATA is one of them. I can have it every week, the rest in the family would not mind to taste anything that may feel like "shutkir bhorta" but the problem is that this island sells "fulkopi in nyara form".... all leaves are thrown and then sold, even the stems are rarely kept.... they make a wonderful dish when cooked in chilli-mustard paste. No part of a cauliflower was been wasted in our family. I try to follow that. For a cauliflower with leaves, I have to go hunting for it in the Indian shops who gets their supply from India or say South Asia, even the Taiwan Gobi I love in curries comes without leaves. I had an existing picture of this dish stored in Google Photos but I was not keen on sharing that one, I felt I should do a better plating so that my family does not feel being left out. It was quite an exercise yesterday.... a single cauliflower gives you this little amount of leaves if ain't you are getting it from your family's farmland. So, I included the stems too, never mind we need to cook them too well to avoid bloating.

 This was the earlier one, the present one is definitely not a perfect one either. It was nine past at the night time, poor light, later I felt that the rice bowl should have been in the place of those batter fried Malabar Spinach because it seems to get focussed than the main dish for today. You can always excuse this part if what I serve you is good in taste. All these errors are due to poor observation power.

Actually we had a couple of dishes to have yesterday night, anything seems excess beyond 3-4 dishes at this home. We had "maacher jhol" too. So the boiled potato was refrigerated in good amount. I prepared an "aloo chokha" this morning and packed their lunch boxes with "ruti o aloo chokha"..... You can see I must have one "ruti" with my morning tea. The "chapatis / rutis" today were not good, perhaps I could not maintain the heat level of the oven well.

Food is my religion, the kind of food I like energises me. I am not an energetic person, not 1/10th of our mother but whatever little I cook, I try to do it with love like her and her kinds. By the word "authentic Bengali" I always refer to an era I have immense respect for because I have seen what hard work is, what doing it for the family is and I would continue to stick to my belief.... who ever says what. I do not know how authentic this vegetarian recipe with cauliflower stems FULKOPIR PATA BATA is, when it dates back to the history of Bengali Food, I am doing it the way our mother used to do. Among us, it is done with good amount of onion, a tempering of crushed garlic too is a must.




Tear off the leaves from the cauliflower and "do not rush to wash."

Switch on the gas, place a wok and add the unwashed cauliflower leaves. Keep stirring at low heat and after 3-4 minutes, it looks like this.

Transfer to a strainer and wash at least 4-5 times under running water.

Thereafter, soak the roasted leaves in a bowl full of hot water adding a little of salt to it for an hour.

Then strain the water, add the soaked leaves to a blender along with the green chillies. Blend it to a paste.

Now, get the rest of the ingredients ready on the kitchen top. The sliced onion, crushed garlic, dry red chillies, kalonji, the prepared paste.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with the nigella seeds, crushed garlic and the dry red chillies.

Give a stir and add the sliced onions. Fry until light brown and then add the leaf paste.

Add the rest of the turmeric and salt, fold in well and keep stirring for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to minimal and cover cook.

After 10-12 minutes, open cover and you can see that the water have dried up and the colour of the content turned darker.

We would stir cook for another 2-3 minutes and take down. 

Enjoy it with piping hot rice or chapati.