Saturday, 28 February 2015


Just was reading an article on how fast foods are taking over home cooked food, specially during lunch hours at school, offices, everywhere. Really liked and agree with the timely input. I will not go into any argument here, but this ancient mother has only one question for the new age mothers....if this trend is repeated every day over the years, will it be good for their health? Is time and effort more important than our loved one's health? I know that little bit of time management can solve this problem. Our family is our priority and keeping them in good health is our responsibility.

At my home, the wiser person gets silly when it comes to taking lunch from home. So many things I have to listen everyday....his bag gets heavier carrying the lunch box, he feels awkward taking out the lunch box in front of all, that I am treating him  in the same league as his son, I am not giving him his space. Well I give a deaf ear to all these and do what I feel is right. I remember my mom packing lunch for me while I was in college too. I used to get very less pocket money so that I cannot eat outside food much. That generation parents did not believe in giving too much money to their kids.

Since my men eat very light breakfast saying they cannot travel with full stomach, I pack heavy lunch for them. My love for rice leads me to try n test all kinds of rice recipes on them. This SWEET PULAO  is Bengal favourite, goes with all kinds of spicy curries.... vegetarian/non vegetarian. I served it with SPICED POTATO CURRY.

INGREDIENTS :[ for the pulao ]

Rice[Basmati/Gobinda Bhog] : 1 coffee mug
 Oil : 2tbsp
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1 tbsp + 1tsp
Cinnamon Sticks : 4 one inch
Green Cardamom : 4
Cloves : 3
Bay leaf : 3-4[if small]
Salt : As required
Sugar : 4 tbsp
Permitted Food Colour : 2pinches[optional]
Cashews : 7-8
Raisins : 7-8
Water : 3 coffee mug[of same size which measured the rice]

INGREDIENTS :[ for the potato curry ]

Potato : 4
Onion : 2
Garlic Paste : 1tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Cinnamon Stick : I one inch size
Green Cardamom : 2
Cloves : 2
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Bay leaf : 1
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Sugar : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Oil : 2 tbsp


Wash and soak the rice for one hour. Meanwhile wash, peel and boil the potatoes till 70% done. Cut each potato into 4 pieces and apply little salt and turmeric to it. Wash, peel and slice the onions and slit the green chillies.

Heat 2tbsp oil and 1 tsp ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel. Temper with bayleaf, cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves. Stir, as it gives a nice aroma, add the halved cashews and raisins. Fry till the cashews turn light brown. Strain the water from the rice and pour onto the vessel.

Stir continuously for 3-4 minutes at medium to low heat. They should not get brown but well coated with the ghee. Add the food colour if you wish.

Add 2 coffee mugs of water and cover. Keep the heat at medium to low. Check occasionally. After 8-10 minutes, when the rice is almost done, add 1 table spoon of ghee. Shake well the vessel with the cover on it and switch off. Do not uncover, keep as it is for at least 10 minutes.

In a wok heat oil. Fry the potato pieces till light brown. Keep aside. Temper the same oil with bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cumin seed, green cardamom and cloves.

Add the sliced onions and fry till light brown, add the ginger- garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes. Add salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder and the slitted green chillies. Saute well till the spices separate from the oil.

Add the fried potatoes. Coat well with the spices. Add 1 small cup water. Stir and let boil covered for 6-8 minutes. Add the sugar, mix well and switch off. Its done.

Serve sweet pulao and spiced potato with salad and pickle of your choice!! The spiced potatoes goes very well with any type of South Asian breads too!!

Thursday, 26 February 2015


Just back from Cameron Highlands, there ought to be strawberries...and more strawberries in my cooking. A typical mango eating Bengali that I am, its a bit difficult to fall in love with the tartness of strawberries, however healthy it is. I rather  enjoy its is so passionately red. If you are at Cameron Highlands, you cannot resist buying few boxes....standing right in the middle of the strawberry farms. So fresh, juicy red they are.....On the lap of the nature, amidst the greens, little red mermaids peeping through as if. There are quite a few strawberry farms who allow strawberries to be plucked as you wish, put into boxes, weigh and then sell. The senior at home was too excited and bought two full boxes saying he will have them with cream. Back to Singapore, he totally forgot all about it. Back from office, he is more happy with his little doze of wine and nuts. If wifey tries to remind, she is nagging. Junior eats no fruit other than apples and grapes. So what to do?

In this scenario I thought of an alternative use of the red beauties...paying due respect to its beauty, quality, health benefits and off course its price tag. Why not prepare some sweetmeats Bengal is famous for....I thought! I perhaps had seen or heard somewhere about STRAWBERRY SANDESH. So zeroed in on this recipe in the morning. Health is not in a friendly mood with thought this quick n easy recipe should be fine with me. It took 45 minutes to 1 hour to prepare them.

Milk[fresh] : 2litre
Vinegar : 1 tbsp
Strawberry : 6-7
Sugar : 1/3 small cup
Cardamom Powder : 1/2 tsp
Refined Flour : 1tsp
Red Food Colouring : A Pinch
Condensed Milk : 2tbsp
Water : 1/2 cup
Ice Cubes : 4-5

It is recommended to use fresh milk to make chena/paneer. Pour 2 litre of milk in a deep bottomed vessel and put for boil. Once the milk comes to boil, lower the heat. Add the vinegar.

As soon as the milk curdles, add the ice cubes. This is done to prevent the chena/paneer to  harden further. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Now strain the whey water through a thin, white cloth. Tie and hang the cloth for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile let us prepare the strawberry glaze. Cut the pre washed strawberries into small pieces. Put 1/3 rd of them in a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water. Put for boil.

Once it comes to boil, add  the sugar leaving 3 tbsp. Stir continuously. As it gets sticky, its done. Let it cool.

Now take out the chena from the cloth, add a spoonful of sugar, two strawberries, refined flour and a pinch of red food colouring.

Blend to make a smooth paste. Transfer into a wide mouthed bowl. Mash with your right palm for about 10 minutes. Heat a wok with 1tsp ghee. Add the paneer paste and cook till the sides comes out. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.

Transfer the sandesh mix to a plate. Let cool a bit, add 2 tbsp condensed milk to the mix and knead well for 2-3 minutes. Grease your palms with a drop of ghee. Shape into round balls and then flatten slightly with your palms. Transfer the sandesh into a lightly greased tray / plate. Pour little strawberry glaze on top.

Eat it warm and fresh or serve chilled as you wish. Sweet lovers will love to have it anytime of the day!!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Chutneys are sort of sweet endings to our meals. In general, among Bengalis, a meal starts with fritters and lentil, ends with chutneys, of various types. Among us Chutneys are made with various ingredients like tomatoes, mangoes, raw papaya, ambarella [amra], Indian olives [jolpai], cranberry  [koromcha / karonda], elephant apple [chalta]. Of all these, Tomato chutney is the most common one.

Remembering the good old days of childhood, mom used to prepare chutneys, sweet n sour, to feed us few more morsels of rice. I remember, many a leisurely afternoon was jazzed up with "achars" n chutneys. She would prepare "achars" / pickle and store in glass jars. During holidays, my favourite pastime would be to sit with those jars in  the balcony of our two-roomed rented house along with my favourite book. I had that ability to concentrate on both. She still prepares them, but I no more can savour them. Many years later, I played the same trick with my son when he was young. I made chutneys to make my son finish his food little earlier, who usually took 1-2 hours to finish a meal.

Our chutneys are usually sweet given the sweet tooth Bengalis have. We prepare sweet n sour ones too. Tomato-Date Chutney is the most common of all the ingredients we use for chutney. Let us proceed with the recipe which requires ripe tomatoes, dates, raisins and lemon juice.


Ripe Tomatoes : 4
Dates : 3
Raisins : 7-8
Lemon : 1
Sugar : 1/4 small cup
Lemon : 1[the juice]
Black Mustard Seed : 2 pinches
Salt : 2pinches
Oil : 1tsp


Wash, cut and deseed the the tomato pieces. In a blender, blend them to a smooth paste.

Deseed the dates and cut into halves. Wash both dates and raisins. Get the juice from the lemon.

Heat the oil in a wok. Temper with mustard seeds. Add the tomato paste. Add 2 pinches of salt. Cover cook at lowest heat for 5-8 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the sugar. Stir nicely. Cover cook for 7-10 minutes at low heat stirring every 2 minutes.

Uncover and add the dates and raisins and stir. Cover cook for 2 minutes or until the chutney turns a little sticky.

Add the lemon juice. Stir well and switch off. Its done.

Enjoy and your meal on a sweeter note!!

Monday, 23 February 2015


This fish preparation is particular of the Comilla district of Bangladesh. Comilla is one of the major districts of Bangladesh located about 100 km southeast of Dhaka. Originally my forefathers belonged to this particular place, hence brought with them the cuisine typical of that place. This particular dish is not so popular amongst our community. I love this winter delight fish curry  which can be  extremely soothing during summers too. After I got married, I cooked this AAR DHONEPATA BATA JHOL at my in-law's place too which they likes. It should please my readers too!

I am just back from a 4 day relaxed holiday from a beautiful hill side in Malaysia....enjoyed the food, climate, picturesque nature, indulgent spa treatment.... everything. However the typical Bengali inside me was craving for home cooked food. Though I call myself cosmopolitan, I am deep inside a typical Bengali. I am a foodie, I love world cuisine, but at the end of the day I want my share of fish curry and.......filling this blank is easy... but I am not allowed to have  it to my heart's content. For a rice lover like me....its a curse sort of. So today, back from work, the tired me is happily cooking my favourite fish curry with coriander paste.

For this fish coriander need sweet water fish which must be fresh. Its mainly done with Aar[long whiskered cat fish], Pabda[butter fish], Tangra[ a type of catfish perhaps]. Its done with very little ingredients, mainly fresh green coriander leaves paste. Its a very light, aromatic curry. You can add broad beans and egg plants to this curry or prepare plain. I was lucky to get some small sized aar maach here which is a rare occasion though, so had to cook it this way!

Aar [long-whiskered cat fish] : 4 pieces
Dry Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Kalojirey [nigella seeds/kalonji] : 2pinches
Coriander Leaves : 50 gm
Oil : 1tbsp

Clean and wash the fish pieces. Add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and marinate well. Keep aside for 14 minutes.

Wash and chop the coriander leaves, grind into a paste along with the green chillies adding very little water. The mixture should not be watery but paste like.

Heat the oil in a wok. Temper with nigella seeds. Add the fish pieces along with the marinade. Cover cook at lowest heat for 2 minutes. Open cover and flip over the fish pieces very carefully. They should not break. Cover cook for another 2 minutes.

Open the cover. Add the chilli-coriander paste. Add some salt. Stir carefully and cover cook at lowest heat for 2 minutes.

Open cover and add 1/4 cup water. Cover cook for 2-3 minutes. Its done.

Enjoy with piping hot steamed rice!!

Thursday, 19 February 2015


Oh fish...dear fresh water love...I miss you all so much!! Singapore too is a fish loving nation but they eat sea fish mainly. Surrounded by sea, it is quite natural. As a contrast, Bangladesh and WestBengal are in the laps of rivers, we have grown eating a variety of fresh water fish. Once you visit a fish market in Kolkata, you will understand how much we are obsessed with fish. On saturdays and sundays, fish prices are skyrocketed, Bengali babus are not bothered. If the fish is fresh, it should be in my bag....all investment are done on food, this  community spends maximum on pleasing the tummy, lest everything else.

This fish curry I made on my last visit to Kolkata. Took picture then and posting now. But I cannot stop myself from sharing a story. The day before Shivratri, I went to the Indian market to buy flowers and holy basils and bael leaves. Crossing by the fish market, I suddenly saw fresh Pabda[pink bellied Butter fish] and Aar[long-whiskered catfish]....and I stuck there in front of the expression was as if my son topped at the board examination. Had a long conversation with the stall owner....I said why do not you get it on  regular basis, I immediately took responsibility on behalf of the Bengali community in Singapore and said I will get you customers. She was skeptical whether she would get to sell them or not. She gets them from Burma. The true Bong in me was so happy, back home called my mom and said, "Maa, got fresh Pabda today." She started giving the recipes. I said, mommy dear, you are forgetting...I can cook too. Indian moms can never think that their kids are grown up.

So the fish you can see is Pabda [pink bellied Indian butter fish]. It has very less bones. A very light fish, we cook light curry with it using minimal spices. The dumplings you can see are called Boris. They are dry lentil dumplings made mainly of urad dal. We use them in different curries. I doubt if they are found outside Bengal or not, so you may skip using it. 

Pabda Fish[ butter fish] : 4
Bori : 6
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Green Chilli Paste : 1tsp
Kalojirey[nigella seeds/kalonji] : 2 pinches
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1tsp
Coriander Leaves : 1 sprig
Mustard Oil : 3tbsp + 1tsp

At first, we have to clean the stomach of the fish. This fish does not have scales. So you are at an advantage. This is a very soft and delicate fish. So you need to handle it carefully just like a newly wed bride.You can clean the stomach using two fingers. Just insert your fingers from the sides of head and pull out the stomach dirt. Please do not cut the belly to clean. Also tear the two long whiskers from the head. Wash thoroughly. Drain excess water.

Add half tsp turmeric powder, salt and 1tsp oil to the fish and rub well. Heat oil in a wok till smoking point. Fry the fish  lightly in batches at medium to low heat. Be very careful to avoid breaking. Fry the boris till light brown and keep aside.

Temper the same oil with nigella seeds. Take a bowl and mix together ginger and chilli paste, salt and half tsp turmeric. Add the spice mix to the oil. Fry till the spices separate from the oil. Add 1 cup water. Let boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the fish pieces and boris. Boil for another 1 minute. Add pre-washed chopped coriander leaves.Switch off.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Tomorrow is Chinese New Year and this island is in a celebration mode which goes on for 15 days. It is defined to be the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. The Chinese New Year is based on traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year.

Me too as if have become a part of the celebration. I love studying different cultures..... observing their rituals, their traditions. I see them completely cleaning the house and decorating them. For them, it is the time for family reunion. People normally visit relatives and friends, watch traditional Chinese shows, of which Lion Dance I enjoy the most. They launch fireworks too, which is a beautiful thing to watch. The celebration sometimes highlight a religious ceremony given in honour of heaven, earth, the family ancestors and other Gods.

Tangerines and Oranges are one of these auspicious Chinese New Year symbols. Tangerines in Chinese sounds similar to the word 'luck' and Orange sounds for the Chinese word for 'wealth'. So the Chinese associate the gift of Orange and Tangerine as having an abundance of happiness and prosperity. Gifting and buying them is perhaps an auspicious mean to bring in good luck and wealth.

Hence, I thought of sharing a recipe  today where oranges are used, my humble way to wish Chinese New Year to all. I prepared a simple orange sponge cake, a light fluffy eggless cake to be had with your favourite tea, may be on the very first day of the Chinese New Year.

Sourced : WIKI


All Purpose flour : 11/4 cup
Baking Powder : 1tsp
Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp
Oil / Butter : 1/2 cup[ I used oil] + 2drops for greasing take tin
Condensed Milk : 150 ml
Orange Zest : 1tsp
Orange Juice : 1/2 cup
Vinegar : 1tsp
Vanilla Extract /Essence : 1tsp
Sugar[powdered] : 1 tsp


Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Take the flour in a big bowl. Add the baking powder and baking soda. Mix well and then sieve.

Take oil and condensed milk in a separate bowl and beat well. Add the vinegar and orange juice and mix well.

Dig a well in the middle of the flour mix. Add a little of the liquid mix at a time and beat well. At the end add the orange zest and mix well. You can see bubbles forming at the top. Your mix is ready to be baked. It will look like the picture below.

Grease a cake tin with 2 drops of oil and dust with flour. Pour the cake mixture.  If you are doing in aluminium foil containers, not need of greasing. Bake at 180 deg C for 35-40 minutes. Insert a knife at the middle to check whether done or not. If done it will come out clean.

Cool and carefully take out.

Enjoy with your favourite tea!!

Monday, 16 February 2015


Ajwain Parathas are parathas where carom seeds are added to the wheat flour and made into a dough. In many a parts of South Asia, flat breads are a staple. Hence we are used to  using various types of ingredients while making chapati or paratha to give them a different touch, making them even tastier and flavourful. Carom seeds have digestive properties, so using them in various recipes is quite common in many parts of South Asia. In India, it is more common in Northern India. In line with perfect cultural harmony it is prepared  in other states too. Food has no boundaries. Its acceptance depends upon our taste buds. One of my very known person is expecting and a punjabi. I get for her various Bengali curries and she happily eats them. I just have to take care of few things, suppose I omit using sugar, make it spicier to suit her taste buds.

With two roti lovers at home, I have to keep on experimenting with the ingredients I use in the flatbreads. They should not get bored of eating the same thing day after day, neither should I be a victim of monotony while cooking. A variety in recipes with a touch of difference leaves me happier at my den. Ajwain parathas are usually made with adding it to wheat flour and fried in ghee. But I made it with mixing besan[gram flour] and wheat flour in 1:2 ratio. As an healthier option, I used oil instead of ghee[clarified butter] while frying them.

Whole Wheat Flour : 2 cups
Gram Flour : 1 cup
Onion : 1 big
Green Chilli : 3
Ajwain [Carom Seeds] : 2tbsp
Salt : 1/4 tsp
Oil : 1 tbsp + 11/2 tsp for each paratha to fry.
Warm Water : As required

 Slice the onion and chop the green chillies and wash them.Take both the flours in a wide mouthed vessel. Add the sliced onions and chopped green chillies. Add the carom seeds and salt. Pour in 1 tbsp of oil. Rub very well with your palm for about 2 minutes.

Now add warm water little by little and keep on rubbing until a soft but firm dough is formed. This will take about 15 minutes. Keep covered with a squeezed wet cloth for 1 hour. After the standing period, prepare balls in size of tennis balls.

Roll out parathas with help of rolling pins in your desired shapes, square, round or triangular. Make the griddle hot. Fry each with 11/2 tsp oil. You have to constantly keep on changing the temparature. If the griddle gets cooler, the parathas will harden, if too hot, they burn. So we need to be cautious.

I served them with   red chilli pickle!!

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Bengalis are religiously non-vegetarians, yet we prepare a wide variety of vegetables with perhaps anything available....from colocasia roots to bottle gourd or raw banana skin. Before you say a big 'NO', I would like to invite you at my place, taste them and then say a yes or a no. We need to have at least one serving of vegetable everyday. A regular Bengali meal consist of  a fish curry, a veggie, a dal[lentil], some pakoras and chutney to end with.

Going back to olden days and our custom, girls were married off at a tender age of say 8/10 with grooms aged 60/65. The resultant factor, they were widowed as early as say 12-15 and denied of all joys for the rest of their life. No question of remarriage, they were forced to have vegetarian for the rest of their life. There were separate vegetarian kitchens for the widows of the family who had to  bathe if they saw the shadow of fish. To  know more about the plight of our women you need to go through certain books/journals/articles. Things started changing when some enlightened souls interfered and so we are here today...get to study....get the right exposure. Conditions are still worse in remote areas though but improving.

It was from these widow's kitchens that exotic dishes made with simplest things came up. I so much feel an urge to revive those lost recipes, irrespective how many likes/pluses  I get. JHINGE ALOO POSTO  is made of ridge gourd, potato and poppyseed paste. Believe me these three things are mainly required to prepare this recipe. Poppy seed is banned in Singapore, so I prepare them when I visit Kolkata. Pair it with Beulir Dal [Split Urad Dal] , Rice n my favourite Kanchalonka .... aka green chilli .... uff you do not need anything else.

Ridge Gourd[jhinge] : 3
Potato : 2
Poppy Seed : 3 tbsp[use white sesame seeds if you r in Dubai or Singapore]
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric : 1/4 tsp
Sugar : 1/4 spoon[optional]
Oil[preferably mustard] : 2 tbsp

 Wash the poppy seeds through a strainer and soak in hot water for 1 hour. Make a paste in the blender. Transfer into  a small bowl and add little salt.

Peel and wash both ridge gourds and potatoes. Cut them separately into cubes. Add salt and turmeric powder and mix well.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the potato pieces till light brown. Keep aside.

Add halved dry chillies to the oil. Put in the poppy seed paste. Fry till golden brown.

Add the ridge gourd pieces to the tempered oil. Stir for 1 minute at medium heat and cover.

Open the cover after 2-3 minutes and add the potatoes. Stir well and cover cook at medium to low heat for 4-5 minutes or till all the water dries up. Add the sugar and switch off.

Please note, its a cooling dish, so generally we do not use chillies in it.

Goes extremely well with steamed rice and dal/lentils!!

Friday, 13 February 2015


To all Valentines....when you fall in not forget the wisdom....  remember... "The course of true love never did run smooth." If one love someone keeping this in mind, they can accept anything that comes their way and confidently say, "I love thee, I love thee with a love that shall not die. Till the sun grows cold and the stars grow old."

This is a subject I can write a thesis on. The very practical mind at home jokingly calls his wife a relationship expert. Now how a practical mind built a nest with an impractical love bird is an entirely different story....there definitely has some common personality traits. Its a movie material I can say.

I personally believe Love is a life...long celebration...even if there is pain....of circumstantial thorns...
As the old bard of England said, " Let no one who loves be unhappy....even love unreturned has its rainbow."

Do we really need a 14th February to celebrate love? Isn't it so that in Love, every moment is special? It can be made special even over a humble cup of tea. It is in trusting each other, in sharing and caring. Its not being "with" each other but being "in" each other, neither should we be the cause of pain for our love but share it and face it together. 

Being silly in love is permissible/advisable. Calculations and love cannot really walk together. To all young a little silly in love. I vividly remember a silly little girl who waited tirelessly for her "Highwayman"....she used to mutter,"I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way." But he did not come actually, neither in the dawning, nor at noon. Yet the poor little girl waited..." Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair."

I sincerely hope this generation Valentines do not need to wait for each other, they hold each other tight, hug tighter and walk along together enjoying every bit of the journey called Life.

In all these emotional bouts, I may forget the recipe of the cake I prepared for the Valentines. Every time I post a recipe on baked goods I seek your mercy, given I am poor at baking. I hope when Valentines are together and love is in the air, they hardly bother about how perfect is the cake. Thinking of that I feel relaxed.

All Purpose Flour : 2 1/4 cup
Baking Soda : 1 tsp
Unsalted Butter [softened] : 1stick
Sugar : 1cup
Cocoa Powder : 1/4 cup
Eggs : 2
Banana : 3[medium]
Plain Yogurt : 2/3 cup
Vanilla Extract : 1tsp
Bitter-Sweet Chocolate : 1bar
Cinnamon : 1/2tsp

Fresh Strawberries : 4
Choco- nutty bar : 150 gm
Butter : 2 tbsp[softened]

Preheat oven to 375degree F. Mash the bananas and keep aside. Beat the eggs.

Sieve together flour, baking soda and cocoa powder.

Beat together the softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the beaten eggs. Mix well.

Add the mashed bananas, yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix well.

Add the flour mixture little by little. Mix well.

Grease the cake tin with oil and then dust with flour. Pour in the cake batter till half of the cake tin.

Bake at 375 deg F for 35-40 minutes.

Once done, cool the cake on a plate.

I prepared a basic topping. Had a cadbury fruit and nut bar. I microwaved it breaking into small pieces for 1 minute with intervals of 20 seconds. Then I mixed it with 2tbsp of softened butter. Mixed well and applied over the cake. Washed and cut the strawberries into halves and arranged over the cake.

Hi Valentines, enjoy the cake with your favourite tea or coffee or as a dessert and get lost in each other!!


There are some days when we do not like our regular curries and rice/roti. Our taste buds seek variety. On a relaxed friday/ week end evenings we crave for some nice finger foods to go with wines. What we wish now, should be fulfilled now, because life is too short. It has no guarantee actually. Back from the hospital morgue yesterday, I am believing it more.

All these fights, taking a dig at each other, hard feelings...what for? Anyway we are not taking along all these on our final journey. We have come alone, we will go alone. In between whoever we meet, whatever happens is a learning experience. If I hurt someone, I  apologise, if someone hurts me, I take is with a pinch of salt. There should be only one philosophy to follow in life..."Live and Let Live." What is to be done should be done at earliest, who knows whether we get to see tomorrow morning or not.

When all these goes on inside or something knocks me down, I love locking myself inside the kitchen, prepare something quick fix which has to be tongue tickling at the same time. Once done, I would ask my companion to treat his lady with some wine. The wine connoisseur does full justice to lighten me up. We can talk about companionship and its value on Valentine's Day may be, lets proceed with the recipe. For my convenience I keep few sauces at home, to be used as required. In this fish I have used two/three sauces and was done within 1 hour.

Fish Fillets : 500 gm
Thai Fish Sauce : 1tbsp
Sweet n Sour Sauce : 2tbsp
Soya Sauce : 1tbsp
Lemon Juice : 1/4cup
Salt : As required
Corn Flour : 50 gm
Egg White : of one egg
Onion : 2 medium
Ginger[minced] : 1tsp
Garlic [minced] : 1tbsp
Bell Pepper : 1 small [ red preferably, I did not have that particular day, so used green ]
Green Chilli : 4
Dry Red Chilli : 2-3
Spring Onion : 25 gm
Oil : 50 ml

Wash the fish fillets and cut into desired shapes. Marinate with lemon juice and little salt. Prepare a batter with the cornflour and egg white along with little salt and 1tbsp water, if only required. The fish needs to be marinated for 1 hour at least.

Chop and wash the spring onions. Cut into cubes the onions and bell pepper, wash and keep separately. Slit and wash the green chillies. Tear into halves the dry red chillies. Wash the minced garlic and ginger.

Heat oil in a wok. Discard the excess water released from the fish marinade, coat the pieces well in the batter and fry till golden brown in batches. This is to be done at medium heat.

Once the frying part is done, remove excess oil from the wok keeping back only 1 tbsp. Add the minced ginger and garlic to the oil. Fry till fragrant, add the cubed onions. Saute till translucent.

Add the fish sauce, sweet n sour sauce and soya sauce, very little salt. Add the cubed bell pepper and slitted green chillies. Saute at high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the fish pieces and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Garnish with dry red chillies and spring onions. Have as an appetiser or serve with fried rice/ noodles of your choice!!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


Dhokar Dalna is a Bengali vegetarian delight. Dhoka in Hindi means cheating and this dish has nothing to do with it. It is in fact too much of a pleasure to have, usually a part of an elaborate vegetarian meal. The fish loving Bengalis are so averse to a vegetarian meal that the women at home had to sweat a lot planning the same. Usually it was a norm to have all vegetarian once a week.

At our home we used to have an all vegetarian meal on Thursdays. Me and my brother hated the idea so fish at can we survive. We behaved so awkwardly that my daddy used to tell my mother...forget the custom/ritual....make some fish curry for them. I do not know why mom was so unwilling to break the rule. Strictly she declared....Thursday should be an  all vegetarian day. At the same time she would bribe us with crispy fried potatoes, different types of pakoras and such delicate curries like Dhokar Dalna among others.

I close my eyes and can see a Wednesday night, mom soaking a bowl full of Bengal gram dal. We did not have a mixer grinder then. She would make a paste of them in "shil nora"...a form of mortar and pestle. I can see her sweating. That generation believed that there cannot be any shortcut to good cooking. I respect their belief very much. There are ready made dhoka mix available in stores but they never will taste the same, I can guarantee. So, we can go a little further and take the liberty to prepare the paste in an electric grinder. Here is a made easy for you curried lentil cakes ...which we fondly call Dhokar Dalna.

INGREDIENTS : [for the dhoka / lentil cakes]
Bengal Gram Dal[chana dal] : 250 gm
Asafoetida : 2 pinches
Ginger Paste : 1/2 tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Sugar : 1/3 tsp
Oil : 1tsp + 5 tbsp[for frying]

INGREDIENTS : [for the gravy]
Ginger Paste : 1 tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1 tsp
Dry Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 2pinches
Cardamom Powder : 2pinches
Cloves Powder : A pinch
Cumin Seeds : 2-3 pinches
Bay leaf : 1
Sugar : 1/4 tsp
Ghee : 1tsp
Oil : 2 tbsp


Wash the dal and soak overnight in a covered bowl. Next morning grind it to a bit coarse paste adding salt as required.  Chop the green chillies.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds. Add 2 pinches of asafoetida. Pour the dal mix to the wok.

Add the ginger paste, turmeric powder, chopped green chillies and sugar. Mix well and keep on stirring till the dal mix tend to come out from the sides of the wok. Switch off gas.

Take a little deep square container and grease with few drops of oil. Transfer the dal mix to the greased plate and spread to all sides with your palms.

Let it rest for 15 minutes. Now turn the cooked dal mix onto a plate.

Now cut into diamond or square shapes or as you wish!

Heat 5 tbsp oil in a clean wok. Fry the lentil cakes in batches till light brown. Take care, they should not break.

If there is some amount of oil left in the wok after frying, you will prepare the curry in it. Better if we strain the oil and reheat it. Once the oil is hot again, temper with cumin seeds and a bayleaf.

Add the ginger paste. Fry till the raw smell goes. Add salt, turmeric powder, cumin powder and dry red chilli powder. Saute well till the oil separates from spices.

Now add 1 coffee mug of water. Cover and let boil for 5 minutes at low heat. Add the fried lentil cakes. Bring to a boil, add the sugar, ghee, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves powder, stir and switch off.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with piping hot steamed rice.

Please note, you can also have the fried lentil cakes as a starter and omit the curry!!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


'Kulfiii Malai...malai kulfi...thanda malai...keu nebe naki...kulfi malai'.....this was how the vendor used to say in our neighbourhood... some 35 years back. It meant...anybody wants cold creamy kulfis? He would start coming every evening around 7-7.30 pm with the onset of spring. My mother along with other aunties in the neighbourhood would get annoyed because he always would come during our study time. He was as if the Pied Piper of call....and all the kids were in their respective balconies. My brother in just two jumps from study table to the following him and mom shouting....come back....come back. That was when the vendor would stand still....raise his voice and describe the kulfis using finest adjectives. It was not his fault, he had to sell. Neither was it our fault....kulfi malai had always been more attractive than studies....moms forget their own childhood....Finally mom used to give in because she knew unless she buys us kulfis, not a single word will go into our head. These were the small pleasures I still remember. I have to stop, otherwise it may turn into an epic. Every page of history has an interesting story to say...better we unfold slowly....

Kulfi Malai is an Indian, creamy, frozen, hence served chilled. You need very less ingredients to prepare it. Boiling the milk till it reaches a creamy consistency is the only thing where we need patience. You need to have kulfi moulds to prepare kulfi malai at home. They  look as below.

Milk[full cream] : 1kg
Condensed Milk : 200 ml
Sugar : 1tbsp
Cardamom Powder : 1tsp
Pistachios : 8-10
Strawberries : 5

Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel. Put onto the gas at medium heat and bring to boil. Keep on stirring to avoid the milk from being spilling. Reduce the heat.

In another burner put 1tbsp sugar in a pan, add 1tbsp water and caramelise it. Add it to the milk.

Once the milk is reduced to half, add the condensed milk. Stir well. Add the cardamom powder. Bring to a boil and switch off. The milk should reach a creamy consistency. Let it cool.

Now crush the pistachios. Wash and cut the strawberries into small pieces. Add both to the already cold milk mixture. Mix well.

Pour the milk mixture into each mould and tighten the lid properly. Now put in the freezer for at least  8-10 hours.

When you wish to serve, take out, open the lid and slightly loosen the boarder with a knife. They will come out easily.

Serve frozen!!


This was a recipe highly recommended by a friend about 15 years back. In this particular dish onion is replaced by shredded  papaya. Initially I was skeptical about how it will taste without onion and never tried actually. One day we were at their house and got to taste it. I never did really understand the chicken preparation did not have onions in it. It tasted so good. It was not the wine effect at all, it really tasted different from the regular chicken curry. My friend is known for innovative and experimental cooking in our circle which I appreciate very much..... it is none other than the very innovative cook Sanak Chottopadhay. We should do experimental cooking, we may go wrong initially but one day we end up inventing a new dish. The pleasure of that is uncomparable.

With my son so mad about chicken, I am compiling old memories, assorting new chicken recipes, trying and testing each one. This Papaya Chicken is done without onion, so the marination part is very important. What we get at the end is a thick, mildly hot n tangy gravy which goes equally well with both steamed rice / Indian or South Asian Bread / any kind of bread in fact.


Chicken : 500 gm
Tomato : 2 medium
Raw Papaya : 1 small
Garlic Paste : 2 tbsp
Ginger Paste : 2 tsp
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp[only adds colour]
Green Chilli : 4
Garam Masala Powder : 1/4tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Oil : 4tbsp


Wash the chicken, keep aside. Wash, peel and shred the papaya. Add to the chicken. Add salt, half of turmeric and chilli powder. Mix well. Marinate for 1-2 hours, not more than that.

Wash and chop the tomatoes. Slit the green chillies. Heat oil in a wok. Temper with a bay leaf. Add the ginger garlic paste. Fry till the spices separate from the oil. Add the remaining salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Stir well. Add the marinated chicken with all the marinade.

Stir at high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Cover cook for 10 minutes. Open cover and add the chopped tomatoes and slitted green chillies. Stir and cover again. Remove cover and stir every 3-4 minutes.

When all the water dries up, add half coffee mug of warm water. Give a stir. No need to cover now. After 4 minutes, add the garam masala powder. Cook for another 2 minutes. Its done.

The gravy needs to be thick. Serve hot with peeping hot steamed rice/ South Asian flat bread!!

Sunday, 8 February 2015


It goes  that Biryani has its origin in PERSIA and might have reached India through various routes.  Derived fro the Farsi word 'Biriyan', meaning 'fried before cooking'. History says it could have reached India via Afghanistan to North India. It could have been brought by the Arab traders via Arabian Sea. Then it was a royal dish for the nawabs and nizams.

Legend say Timor,the lame brought it down from Kazakhastan via Afghanistan to Northern India. Another legend say Mumtaz Mahal conceived this dish as a complete meal to feed the army. Some other say it originated in West Asia where the nomads buried an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up and Biriyani was made.

Will not go further  beyond this discussion because that will need deeper research on history. What I know is that the Islamic restaurants in Kolkata make fabulous Biryani, mainly the Awadhi one as it originated when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was deposed in Kolkata by the British in 1856. Me and my brother's love for Biryani is in fact legendary. I am much in control now and he is not. I am so much in control now that I did not have it for a single day on my last visit to Kolkata in spite of the fact that we have 3 outlets of the famous Biryani makers in our neighbourhood. My brother is still going on. But I do prepare it at home, at times in the most authentic way and sometimes on the microwave..... depending on how much time I have in hand, how hungry my family is and my energy level on that particular day.

Today's version is a microwave one, hence not authentic. Authentically it is slow cooked in dum in a handi with its lid sealed with a dough made of flour. My recipe is dedicated to the working mothers. I always prepare a Biryani masala powder and store it. This really helps. We usually garnish with caramelised onions, I just skipped that day. Usually big pieces of meat are used in biryani but i do with small ones.

INGREDIENTS [for the biryani masala] :
Cinnamon : 25gm
Green Cardamom : 25gm
Black Cardamom : 10 gm
White Pepper Corn : 10 gm
Cloves : 10gm
Mace : 5 gm
Nutmeg : 5gm
Star anise : 5gm
Tailed Pepper/kabab chini : 10 gm
Shahi Jeera : 15 gm
Bay Leaf : 5gm

INGREDIENTS [for the biryani] :
Basmati Rice : 2 cups
Mutton : 500 gm
Ghee [clarified butter]:3 tbsp + 1/4small cup
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Onion : 2
Plain Yogurt : 250 gm
Salt : As required
Cinnamon : 1inch piece 3
Green Cardamom : 6
Cloves : 6
Bay leaf : 4
Shah Jeera : 1tsp
Biryani Masala : 2tsp
Rose water or Kewra : 3-4 drops
Saffron : 6-7 strands[alternatively 2 pinches of yellow food colour]
Milk : 1/2 small cup

Dry roast all the ingredients of the biryani masala and grind them together to get a powder. Store in an air tight container.

We have to marinate the mutton overnight. Wash the mutton nicely and marinate with beaten yogurt, salt and half of ginger and garlic paste. Refrigerate in a airtight container . Next morning take out 1 hour before cooking.

Peel, wash and slice the onions. Heat ghee in a wok. Temper with a bay leaf, 2 green cardamom, 2 cloves, 1inch cinnamon. Add the sliced onions and fry till brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste, fry till the spice mix separates from the ghee. Add the marinated mutton along with all the marinade, mix well and cover. We have to check very 5 minutes and stir. Put the heat at low.

While the mutton  is cooking, let us prepare the rice. Take a soft white cloth and put 4 green cardamoms and cloves, 3 bayleaf, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Tie a knot tightly.Put it in the vessel used for cooking rice. Cook the rice in enough water along with the tied  whole garam masalas and salt till 60% done. Drain the water and discard the garam masalas.

Check the mutton. When it is almost dried up, add 1tsp biryani masala and mix well. Cook for another 4-5 minutes. Once done, switch off. There has to be some gravy in it. Let rest for 1/2 an hour. Soak the saffron strands in warm milk.

Take a microwave proof big bowl . Put some rice. Add one tbsp ghee, one tsp saffron milk, 2drops of rose water and sprinkle 3 pinches of biryani masala. Lightly mix with a fork. Over it put few pieces of mutton with gravy. Repeat the process 3-4 times with rice at the topmost layer. Cover with a microwave proof plate and microwave at high for 5 minutes. Its done.

Serve with salads and raita!!

Friday, 6 February 2015


Whenever we get lethargic but wish to see our family happily eating the meal, which should be nutritious and tasty at the same time, we turn to this bird for help. Easy to make, easier to digest, I wonder how it became so popular with the kids. Whoever I talk to, say that their  son / daughter gets so happy when they see chicken on their plate. Same is at this home, may be 2 days I took off from cooking it, hits a dialogue in my ears.... mamma so many days I have not eaten chicken. I counted....  its only 2 days. When kids want something to eat on their own will, I feel no mother should say a no.... however tired she is. Rather, we should find out some easy to please them without shedding much sweat.

This was on such an evening when I was tired but the junior wished to have chicken with parathas, that I cooked this  semi dum chicken with potato. My senior never asks for anything, very flexible person but had two extra parathas with it that day. It does make me happy...immensely!! Lets proceed with the recipe which is easy and done with few spices.


Chicken : 1kg
Potato : 4 medium
Tomato : 2 medium
Onion : 2 medium
Lemon Juice : 4-5tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 1tbsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp[adds colour only]
Green Chilli : 2-3
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : I tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Oil : 2 tbsp

Wash the chicken and marinate with ginger-garlic paste, salt, turmeric, Kashmiri red pepper powder and juice of one lemon. Keep aside for 2 hours.

Peel the potatoes, wash and cut into halves. Boil them upto 70% with little salt. Drain the water. Slit the green chillies. Wash and chop the tomatoes discarding the seeds. Peel, wash n slice the onions.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with bayleaf. Add the sliced onions and fry till brown. Add the marinated chicken with all the marinade. Mix well and fry for 3-4 minutes at high heat. Lower the heat to minimum and cover.

Open the cover every 3 minutes and stir. After about half n hour, add the semi boiled potatoes, slitted green chillies and tomatoes. Stir and cover cook for 10 minutes. Open cover add the coriander powder. Stir for 2-3 minutes, you can see all water dried up.

Add 1 cup warm water. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes at medium to low heat.

Goes well with roti / paratha / steamed rice!!

Thursday, 5 February 2015


Ladoos....any type is so welcome at my home. It has been a very versatile dry sweet, open to be made with so many kind of ingredients. When I explore through G+, I am just amazed to see even millet ladoos. Curiosity leads me to read every word of the recipes. Really like how people experiment with different ingredients, prepare new dishes or add life to old ones with a small twist. I enjoy watching all these, in the process learning more and more and yet more.

Besan Ladoos were not common in a Bengali household. I had a taste of it at a very young age from my non-Bengali friends. If I visited their homes, I would greedily wait when aunty will get me some from that big glass jar in a plate. I would finish one plateful in few minutes and would wait for those kind words, "Do you want more?" Obviously the answer was always yes!!

At our home, since childhood I have seen mom making ladoos with coconut, puffed rice, flattened rice, sesame seeds. So I had a basic idea about how ladoos are made. Yesterday evening I was just sitting idle back from work and not willing to go for my regular jogging session. That is when I felt like preparing something in a jiffy which will also be tasty. I had a fresh packet of gram flour bought a day before , hence the idea of BESAN LADOO / GRAM FLOUR LADOO popped up. You need very few ingredients to prepare it in about 45 minutes.

Besan [gram flour] : 1cup[big]
Sugar [fine grained] : 1/3 cup[big]
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1/4 cup + 1drop
Green Cardamom : 4
Cashews : 8-10

Melt ghee in a wok. Crush the green cardamoms with a rolling pin and put into the ghee.  Break the cashews with hand and add to the ghee, lightly fry. Add the besan. Keep on stirring the besan at medium to low heat for about 10-15 minutes. When the raw smell goes and the besan turns light brown, switch off gas.

Transfer the mixture in a plate. Add the sugar and mix well with help of a spoon. Now wait for 3-4 minutes. Grease your palms with a drop of ghee. Take desired amount on your right palm and press little hard to bind together to form a ball. Smoothen by rolling between two palms. You can store them in a jar for few days.

Enjoy anytime of the day or gift a jarful to your loved ones!!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


On my december visit to India, I had it in a traditional Bengali themed restaurant and loved it. Ever since I am planning to prepare it at home. A very loving sister took us out for lunch one day and wished to have a complete Bengali meal. This Fish Crepes were never made at home, hence I was too curious to have them and eventually ended up eating 2 big.

Kolkatans are foodies. There are quiet a number of speciality Bengali restaurants besides numerous other small eateries who serve regular Bengali meals. If, by any chance you happen to visit Kolkata, please do visit them to taste our local cuisine....both....exotic and regular. At some places they will serve you traditionally in banana leaves and earthern pots. Oh! how I love food to be served this way. Obviously, you will not miss eating our famous sweets. To taste the many varieties you need to stay for at least 15 days.

We are used to making coconut filled crepes. These fish filled crepes are not so common, in fact, they were quiet new to me. You need to prepare a fish filling and batter to make Fish Crepes/ Macher Patishapta.

INGREDIENTS[for the fish filling] :
Fish Fillets : 400gm
Onion : 2[medium]
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Green Chillies : 3
Bengali Garam Masala : 1/2tsp[cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves dry roasted and ground to a powder]
Lemon : 1
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Seeds : 1/4tsp
All purpose flour : 1tbsp
Oil : 3tbsp

INGREDIENTS[for the batter] :
All purpose flour : 2 cups[medium]
Corn flour : 1 cup[medium]
Egg : 1
Water : As required
Salt : As required
Oil : 2drops

You need 1/4 tsp oil for frying 3 crepes, then again 1/4 tsp for the 4th one.

Wash and marinate the fish fillets with the lemon juice and very little salt. Keep aside. Get the ginger and garlic paste, garam masala powder ready in hand. Chop the green chillies. Slice the onions.

Let us prepare the batter. Take the 2 kinds of flours in a bowl. Add salt. Add water little by little. It will be like a dosa batter. Add the egg n 2 drops oil now. Mix well.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the cumin seeds. As they splutter, add the sliced onions. When they turn brown, add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the raw smell goes. Add the salt and turmeric powder and the chopped green chillies. Fry for 1 minute at low heat. Add the marinated fish. Saute well and break the fish with your ladle. When the water is almost drying up, add the garam masala powder and all purpose flour. Cook till all the water dries up but it remains moist. Switch off. Let the filling cool down.

Now heat 1/4tsp oil in a pan. With a round big spoon, pour in a spoonful of batter on the greased pan. Spread with the back of the ladle. Put in some fish filling in the middle as seen in the picture below.

This should be done in medium to low heat. Let the inner part of the crepe cook well. Then fold in from both sides and transfer to a plate. With 1/4 tsp oil you can make upto 3 crepes. Idea is to keep the pan greased.

Serve with sauce of your choice. Goes best with kasundi[a specially made mustard sauce]!!