Monday, 21 August 2017

SPICY SHRIMP SALAD



"Ufffff chine badam, shosha, tomato, cucho lanka, bhutta... besh ektu lebur rosh aar dhonepata kuchono .... tar opor besh moshladar chingri chorano ..... wooooow slurp! Didi eto macher chaat hoye gelo .... dekhun bhaya .... didi obdi thik achey .... kaal jodi Ranvir Kapoor didima daakey.... ami heart fail kori apni tar dai neben moshai? tai bhaat takey nahoy ektu side korlam, mach takey ektu ebhabey rakhlam .... kolbalish aar mach.... e dui chara Bangalir mete ki aash" ..... I must translate it for you ..... after some shameless eating .... I have to go for some cleaning the system phenomena .... thats when my Bengali counterparts are questioning my integrity .... prawns on salad instead of rice .... are you a Bengali? My answer is clear ..... who will take the responsibility if Ranvir Kapoor calls me grandma and I suffer a severe heart attack? With 70% of grey hair I do force myself to the gym out of that fear .... I am yet seven kilo away from the right BMI, hence keeping aside all the invitations from our friends in Mumbai..... again ..... what if Ranvir calls me grandma ?..... haha these are healthy jokes just as healthy and yum is this spicy shrimp salad. The phrase in the beginning is quite influenced by Tanmoy Mukherjee who blogs at bongpen.net, he has few books to his credit too . He does not require my recommendation and this is not the right post to discuss him..... he is that typical Bengali who does his breakfast with Luchi .... Aloor Dum... jilipi.... golapjam and ends with Kosha Murgi / Mutton / Ilish and Mishti Doi ..... You see our whole community is hale .... hearty and alive after this kind of a diet ..... my question is what is so wrong if we adopt some healthier habits ...... I will always recommend that ..... given that I am a foodie since childhood who dumped her stomach with carbs beyond limit since ages and now paying hard for it ..... wearing a garland of quite a number of diseases . That should never make a good example to follow.... I cannot follow any hard rules in life but I try to keep the cheat days limited to two in a week..... yet I will never claim my blog to be one of a kind of healthy food share ..... it is more about what an average Indian or I / We eat everyday. Coming to the writer Tanmoy Mukherjee what I like about his writings is that they are on similar lines as that of Munna Bhai's philosophy ..... they help keep melancholic characters like me in high spirits ....  this guy has to say a lot about life and philosophy keeping the tone lighter .... hence the follow.

Coming to the food share today, I force myself to have salads, it is not a natural love for me. So I need to think of some yummy add ons .... life gets easier for me that way.... I have anyway sacrificed my love for few things in life ... take for example rice and luchi .... two tablespoon and one number is never enough for a greedy like me but I try to follow what the wise men say .... old Dr.Chang been one of them. I have never been too particular about my salads..... I do them with whatever is available in my kitchen .... legumes, greens, nuts, cucumber, tomato, sprouts .... to that I will add some spicy prawn / shrimp, or minced chicken or at times eggs too .... nonetheless to mention there will be some tofu or paneer too. If you think my men ate the salad happily just because there were spicy prawns atop it .... then you are not following my posts sincerely .... their girl has to prepare some fried rice kind of thing with the masala prawns. I am kind of indulgent about their diet. Salads are usually a part of my lunch spread, so that I can have two tablespoon of what I love sitting with my men at night ...... which is again a big no according to fitness experts.... but a Bong and a bongpen.net follower will take that liberty.This was a simplistic salad with some assorted greens, corn, green pea, onion, cucumber, tomato, peanut tossed with lemon juice and olive oil and atop it some grilled masala shrimps .... you got to love it. To prove that how tasty it was we need to cook it together which means assorting, tossing, light grill and done .... as simple as that.



INGREDIENTS : 
Shrimp : 150-200gm
Cucumber : 1 medium [peel, wash, chop]
Tomato : 1big [wash, cut half, deseed, chop further]
Assorted Greens : 1big cup [washed, chopped, alternatively use lettuce]
Corn : 1/4small cup
Green Pea : 1/4small cup
Onion : 1small [peel, wash, chop]
Carrot : 1small [peel, wash, chop]
Green Chilli : 2[chopped]
Peanut : 2-3tbsp [skinless and roasted]
Lemon Juice : 2-3tbsp + 1tbsp
Olive Oil : 1tbsp
Black Pepper Powder : 1tsp [coarsely ground]
Black Salt : As Required
Coriander Leaves : 2tbsp [washed, chopped]
Tandoori Masala Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1/2tsp
Mustard Oil or any other : 1tsp

METHOD :

Let us prepare the grilled masala prawns first. De shell, de vein all the shrimps and wash thoroughly. Marinate with 1tbsp lemon juice, 1tsp mustard oil, tandoori masala powder, garam masala powder and keep aside for 20 minutes. We will place them in a greased grill plate and grill one side for about 8 minutes, turn over and grill for another 5 minutes. They are ready to savoured either in salad or fried rice.





Sorry, the greedy girl was in a hurry to eat and forgot to take stepwise pictures.

Now we will assort all ingredients for the salad. Take the chopped assorted greens, green chilli, onion, tomato, cucumber, coriander leaves, corn, carrot, green pea, peanuts in a bowl. Add the remaining lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper powder, black salt and toss very well.

Add the grilled, spicy shrimps atop .... keep the big prawns for some chingrir malaikari... haha... thats the Bong way.





Sunday, 20 August 2017

INSTANT DATES FIGS N MIXED NUT LADOO



After a Saturday late night bash, how do we feel actually? I do not know about you all but I wish to be treated as a queen, get even more lazier... throw myself in the cosy corner of the couch and do what we usually do on Sundays ... watch movies one after another on either You Tube or Netflix or listen to music. I very much need to go out for a warm up jog and then to the gym after having two rounds of desserts last night shamelessly and I am too tired and unwilling to.... on such occasions I really get jealous of my chopsticks with high metabolic rate. As I recall last night, I find myself eating a weird combination of food.... cheese poppers, chilli prawn, papri chaat to start with... then some tahini with pita, mixed green salad, Russian salad and mutton Stroganoff. I skipped Sarson Saag, Jeera Rice, Makhni Dal, Chicken Tikka Masala .... I do them pretty well.Then came the real killers.... melt in the mouth cakes with mango cream layers and jalebi with rabri. The shameless me had three jalebi.... aww I turned into jalebi bai out of joy... each spoonful of the cake .... each bite on the crisp jalebi were as pleasureful as... as .... as... well anything from watching a butterfly sipping honey from a flower to looking deep into dark, doe eyes of a deer off course... haha or sitting alone in the woods with a book and some music... these are the things I loved / love doing then, today, tomorrow and always..... yet such crowded, jazzy parties are welcome at times. The funny thing last night was the varied combination of food .... off course keeping in mind the fact that the mariner's come from different communities there with different taste buds. Ain't that is exactly what we are doing in the food world .... we cater to so many kinds of readers within and beyond boundaries. We cannot get regional at all times. It feels good to see some of us who practice what they or their blog aimed for .... maximum of their readers identifying themselves with what they share. All said and done a macher jhol is long due and it should be there soon .... if back there the movie 'Macher Jhol' is doing the rounds.

Sunday is a no cook day for me, however angry the mother gets, I will not cook everyday. Today I will neither cook nor share an elaborate recipe .... people are already in a festive mood. If they are as lazy as me, they must be looking for some quick to do handmade goodies. I remember grandma preparing naru, nimki, goja and lot more for Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Bijoya Dashami along with other ladies at home ..... this was the picture in the entire community and beyond in a larger India .... no wonder the super excited, still primitive at heart grand daughter will call and say.... 'didu... mani jano shakkarpara aar amader mishti nimki aki jinish prai' .... even the locals in the island eat a kind of sweetened twister fries which I find similar to our goza in taste.... if not in looks. This sweet share is the resultant of some hired idea / inspiration drawn from friends around. Fig is not something common among us Bengalis, in my tireless effort to get my men rid of this under weight tag I keep on adding dried fruits, nuts, generous amount of ghee, butter in their food..... I feel the urge to do some constructive reading on food nutrition too. Before that, I bet you will love my 'INSTANT DATES FIGS N MIXED NUT LADOO' .... that has that unique flavour of our desi ghee and oh so quick to make without any fire to lit.... I am aging, I do not have 1/4 of energy of my mother and I do love quick and easy recipes..... with a heart that treasure and respect the tireless effort the yesteryear ladies have given for their family and also them who do the same following tradition ..... Each one of us have something good in us as an offer to the world .... we should applaud each other for that. This 'INSTANT DATES FIGS N MIXED NUT LADOO' of mine is done without any cooking, one we can do quickly and give a sweet treat to even sudden guests.... isn't that a cool idea? Let us do it together with help of few stepwise pictures this festive season or anytime.




INGREDIENTS :
Date / Khajur / Khejur : 8-10
Dried Fig / Anjeer : 6-8
Peanut : 1small cup
Pistachio : 8-10
Almond : 1-2tbsp
Sugar : 1/4small cup [optional]
Milk Powder : 1/2small cup
Cardamom Powder : 1tsp
Ghee / Clarified Butter : 2tbsp or little more
Garnish as you wish...

METHOD :
We will take the skinless peanut, pistachios and almonds in a glass bowl and microwave for 1-11/2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds.

We will take it out and put the mixed nuts in a blender.



We will blend them in to a coarse powder and keep it in a plate. Add the sugar and cardamom powder and fold in well.



We will wash and pat dry the dried figs or anjeer and the dates. It is better to soak the dried figs in warm water for 15-20 minutes before chopping. We will chop both the dates and figs roughly.



We will add both of them to the blender.



We will pulse it for 1-2 minutes at intervals. Add the mixture to the mixed nut powder.



Fold the whole thing well. We will now add the ghee and milk powder and fold in well further.



We will wash and pat dry our hands. We will apply little ghee on the palms, take out small portions of a tennis size ball and smoothen between two palms. Our instant, no cook dates figs n mixed nut ladoo is ready. We will refrigerate for an hour or two before serving. It has to be always served straight from the refrigerator.


Friday, 18 August 2017

COCONUT CURRYPATTA TEMPERED GOBI



There are days when we wish to breakthrough from our regular 'fulkopi aloor dalna' or 'fulkopir rosha' and get a bit experimental. I usually pack vegetarian lunch box for my boys, hence I keep on trying my hands on some mix and matches, else both cooking and eating tends to be a boring affair. This was a day when I thought I will not use aloo / potato with the cauliflower and I had some store bought shredded coconut that required to be used up. Matar / motorshuti / green pea goes very well with cauliflower, so I added some green peas too ..... take a scissor, cut the packet and use.... as simple as that. Had the mother been here she would have definitely said .... 'motorshuti kiney eney chariye tatka khete parish na?.... eeijonyo cheledutor shorire mangsho lagena'..... can't you buy fresh ones and use them in cooking.... the reason why your men do not put on weight. Just because I continue to see the amount of effort she gives for her family, I accept that I am more of a casual homemaker compared to her.... I would not have taken it from her had she been sitting idle all day long and trying to dictate her terms on me .... I have already proved it to someone that I am a far better homemaker.... how much one had tried to prove and project it otherwise. Coming to the mother..... I keep on telling her move ahead towards a smart kitchen mani .... who listens to whom? we both are not in the habit of taking dictates when it concerns managing home. I would really tell her about this quick to make, regular dish of COCONUT CURRYPATTA TEMPERED GOBI.... all of us .... me, my men, Cristine loved this vegetarian sides bursting with flavours of curry leaves. After all the incidents that took place in the recent months and given her age .... I / We want the mother to go slow and relax...... I always talk about my mother .... the only one I have in this world..... but I have never spoken of one lady who gave me the feel of a mother ever since I stepped out of the comfort of my parent's home. She is my senior's eldest maternal uncle's wife ..... our very own 'boromami'..... each one of us should be like her who preaches and practise that there can only be one expression that suits your face 'smile'.... at any given situation. She is the one who gave a damn to any kind of protocol and embraced me with love on my first day in a strange home.... later too while the husband sailed for 6-8 months at a stretch and my prince was not born and till date. Unfortunately we did not stay in the same house and I am not jealous of her only daughter-in-law with whom she shares a wonderful, hearty relationship..... she has not much formal education but is wise enough to know the importance of building strong relationship bonds. When it comes to love and respect .... I hardly maintain protocol and give as I receive in most cases ..... for some it comes naturally though. This old lady called 'boromami'.... my eldest aunt-in-law lives in a township about 25-30 km away from Kolkata.... primitive in attire.... uber cool and modern in her thought process who made me believe formal education is not essential to learn wisdom.... the day she leaves .... her home that happens to be a joint family will turn into dark dome from an illuminated one.

I went for a get together yesterday and savoured an all Bengali scrumptious lunch fair at an elder sister like's  home. I ate too much and is unable to get over the food and adda..... yet I will not go Bengali today to commemorate it. I wish to go beyond region today with ingredients that can be identified beyond boundaries .... the essence has to be desi. A non-vegetarian dish is due for a long time though ..... before Ganesh ji arrives we have too ..... the regular non-vegetarian affair at home continues else my return ticket to Kolkata is confirmed you all know. Jokes apart, this quick and easy vegetarian side dish of shredded coconut, green pea and cauliflower tempered with cumin and mustard seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves goes very well with paratha topped with some ghee or if paired with some dal / lentil curry and rice. Keep faith on me and try preparing it on an all vegetarian day or keep it as a vegetarian delight besides your non-vegetarian exotics..... both ways you are going to love it. The entire preparation and cooking process takes 40-45 minutes.



INGREDIENTS :
Cauliflower : 1medium
Green Pea : 1/4small cup
Shredded Coconut : 1small cup
Curry Leaves : 8-10
Dry Red Chilli : 2 [halved]
Green Chilli - 2-3 [slitted]
Mustard Seed : 1/4tsp
Cumin Seed : 2-3pinches
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp [optional]
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Oil : 2-tbsp
Ghee : 1tbsp

METHOD :

Cut the cauliflower into medium florets, wash thoroughly. Rub with some salt. Take a microwave bowl and fill it with water. Add the cauliflower florets. Microwave at high for 5-7 minutes. Let cool and discard the water.

Apply salt, turmeric powder and coriander powder to the par boiled cauliflower florets. Keep aside for 5 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok or pan. Temper with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies and give a stir. Add the shredded coconut and keep stirring till it turns golden brown.

Add the spice mixed cauliflower florets, stir and sprinkle some water. Stir again and cover. Let cook for 2 minutes. Open cover, sprinkle some more water and cover cook for another 2 minutes.

Open cover and add the slitted green chillies and green peas. Fold in well and let cook uncovered further for 2 minutes. Switch off gas.

Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy with handmade breads topped with butter or as an accompaniment with dal and rice.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

TOMATO POORI N CHUTNEY ALOO



When some of my friends are already saying this is an innovative idea, I decide not to take all the credits and admit that I have seen a couple of Tomato Poori recipes earlier.... perhaps in that largest food group of India last year or so ..... I really do not remember who it was .... there were a couple of such posts I remember but I forgot all about the ingredients ..... The chutney aloo has been done with a mixture of yogurt, garlic paste and a generous amount of fresh coriander leaves .... this perhaps I also have come across or I may not have .... I do not remember .... I prepare fish curries with green coriander chutney paste. I have not Google searched also as I was in such a hurry to prepare the combo meal and feed my hungry men a scrumptious Indian vegetarian meal. They will have a vegetarian meal without any noise if only there are hand made breads. Though a bit of hired idea, I prepared this meal of Tomato Poori and Chutney Aloo following my own recipe. At times forgetting is a boon, we get to know we too can do more than what we think we may. You can call it a forgetful mind's self-defence mechanism too. Enjoying the platter together I was just telling the senior .... you see I have never tried to raise my level of performance... so laid back I am.... I do not want the son to be like me. So when I praise my fellow bloggers or friends or family members on their achievement, I do it from the bottom of my heart. Would anyone believe if I say how scary I find this box called Computer till date .... and there was one mother who tried all kinds of therapy on the daughter to sharpen her grey matter from "Brahmi Shaak to Brahmi Amla Tel.".... hahaha my actions proves it all .... whimsical, stubborn to the core.... that one little girl of six who came down from the dance stage and never went back .... over a silly, trivial issue. Then she grew up on the lap of one Sister Merilyn, felt that touch of love in the arms of one Bengali teacher Iva Dutta Miss.... who told this fat old lady last month... can you arrange a get together with us S .... I wish to see some people.... then someone who said .... you can have a blog of your own .... and then a sister like native of this island .... can you teach me some Indian cooking .... finally the love and support of so many people .... irrespective of caste, creed, religion, nation and beyond that.

Isn't that what was taught to us .... sovereign , democratic, secular, republic nation. I still stick to the belief that whatever violence happens are mere stray incidents, yet that should not happen too. Let me take the example of Kolkata as I was born and brought up there. Every weekend you will see people heading towards China Town for a taste of Indo-Chinese, they will get their Biryani packets only from Arsalan or Aalia or Shiraz, for fairly good cakes and bakes, an average middle class like me still prefers the neighbourhood Kathleen... We die to have Sharma's Lassi .... or Balaram Mullick's roshogolla, doi, sandesh..... wherein lies the problem then? the power monger's aim holding onto power through divide and rule .... letting us commoners stay in harmony do not serve their purpose. Having religious beliefs or practicing it is not a crime, been overpowered by it like an addiction for opium is definitely not getting us anywhere near good .... in all cases. I specially love this island not because it provides us a five star comfort but because it is uber cosmopolitan, people of so many nationalities stay here .... no one is bothered who follows what religion .... people work and sweat hard the whole week and let their hair down in the weekend. Back there, when we are fighting over who are majority and who are minority.... kids die of lack of oxygen in the hospital, men and women of all ages needs to go out in an unearthly hour of the night to defecate with threats of snake bites, wells full of female foetus are discovered..... how come religion top them all? I definitely shall watch Toilet Ek Prem Katha to support the issue. Saffron and Green stand only for peace and thats how it should be. I remember just a few days before my delivery, the doctor doing an ultrasound could not believe me enough to tell the sex of the child.... it is illegal in India though.  I could not convince the doctor that we both were fighting over the name of the girl... he said it should be after his favourite character Sabrina.... while I said nooooooo it has to be Roopkatha... God sensed severe war at home front.... the boy made an early arrival in December while the due date was in first week of January.

There off course is a Janmashtami celebration at home today, just that the date is coinciding with a bigger event called Independence Day of secular India .... I am highlighting that for this year. I do not have any problem with my friends doing otherwise .... some of them are very intelligent and will understand me ..... some of them are quite indulgent about this dull, silly, stubborn me and love the way I am. Even our laddu Gopal's favourite food is sugar and butter, hahaha.... I am extremely busy today as Laddu Gopal is our family deity.... from the husband's side. The mother-in-law said you will not prepare anything salty, our family norm is to offer mishti and pithe - puli..... sweets, desserts, sweet meats? You all know how much time it takes to prepare luchi / poori, halwa, naru, patishapta, malpua, ladoo .... I am going for the common ones only while enjoying both the fusion and traditional  shares of my friends. I have Cristine to help as the men are only interested in the food. I mentioned her as she does it with so much of love and care. Since I have an agenda today and I will stick to that, I wish to share with you this vegetarian platter of Tomato Poori and Chutney Aloo served with a carrot raita. Come let us prepare them together and bring some colour to the plate on an all vegetarian day.



INGREDIENTS : [ for the Tomato Poori]
Ripe Tomato : 2big
Refined Flour : 2 Coffee Mug
Asafoetida : 2pinches
Nigella Seed : 1/4tsp
Salt : 2pinches
Red Chilli Powder : 1/4tsp
Oil : 2tbsp +150gm-200gm to deep fry the pooris individually

INGREDIENTS : [ for the Chutney Aloo]
Medium sized Potato : 6-8
Fresh Coriander Paste : 1small cup
Garlic Paste : 1tsp
Plain Yogurt : 1/2small cup
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp[can skip]
Green Chilli : 4-5
Bayleaf : 1
Fenugreek Seed : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Oil : 3-4 tbsp 

METHOD :
Let us prepare the dough for the tomato poori first. Take refined flour in a wide mouthed bowl, add the asafoetida, nigella seeds, red chilli powder and salt, fold in well. Wash and cut half the tomatoes. Discard the seeds and chop further. Prepare a paste of them in a blender and add to the flour mix. Fold in well and keep kneading for 3-4 minutes without using water. Add the oil and knead further for 4-5 minutes. It is done and we will keep it to rest for 1/2 an hour covered with a moist cotton cloth.



For the very easy, tasty with fresh flavour of coriander chutney aloo, we will wash, cut half the potatoes first. We will par boil them in enough water. It may take 5-6 minutes. Be careful enough not to over boil them. Let cool.

Once cool discard the water and peel the skin of the boiled potatoes. Rub with salt and turmeric. Heat oil in a wok and lightly fry the potato pieces in batches till golden brown. Take them out and let them rest on a tissue paper for sometime.

Temper same oil with some fenugreek seeds, as you get a nice aroma take out all of them or you may keep. Add a bay leaf to the oil.

Add the garlic paste and stir for 1-2 minutes. Beat the plain yogurt and add to the garlic paste. Fold in well. The pre washed coriander leaves with stem and the green chillies are to be made into a paste in the blender. Discard the roots of the coriander.

Now add the potato pieces to the garlic and yogurt paste and fold in well. Add a small cup of water, stir gently and cover cook for 2-3 minutes at low heat.

Add the chilli coriander paste now and fold in well. We will cook the whole thing for another minute uncovered. Once done we will transfer the chutney aloo to a serving bowl.

Remove cover from the tomato poori dough. Tear out small portions and smoothen each one between your palms.

Dust each ball with some flour and roll out on your base with help of your rolling pin.



Simultaneously, we will heat oil in a wok and gently place an uncooked poori.



Sprinkle little oil from the sides atop the poori. We need to be very careful about the temperature, once burnt we cease to get the right colour for the tomato poori.


Once done we will serve the fresh, hot tomato poori with chutney aloo with a carrot and coriander raita alongside. Its that very common raita.... beating the plain yogurt with some black salt, ginger extract, little sugar and adding some grated carrot, chopped green chillies and coriander leaves to it.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

KHEJUR GUREY KHEER POTOL



From "Pabnar Bikhyato Kheer Potol"... that is from Pabna district of Bangladesh to Neha Mathur of Whiskaffair's or NishaMadhulika ji's kitchen...... "Kheer Potol" or "Meetha Parwal" did find a place I can see. So far as I am concerned, I tasted it back in the 90's from a shop in my T's neighbourhood. The already existing famous sweet shops in the locality we both lived in did not sell this particular sweet come dessert. I remember on my way back from his home, I stopped at this shop one day just to buy a few of these.... out of curiosity to try a new thing you can say.... ahh... now I remember the name of the shop... Madhuban .... the men at home do not even peep into my blog, otherwise the senior would have agreed and write a nice comment down below the post and say.... wifey yours meetha parwal / kheer potol / khoya stuffed pointed gourd tastes better than the Madhuban one ..... well have I started day dreaming?.... nothing new in that .... I am so at all times ..... with a kheer potol in my hand I was reading Rujuta Diwekar's post which says she would share with us some home exercises for weight loss and over all well being... I am already in a weight loss programme but so much unable to resist the sweet temptations specially when I prepare them.... I have to because my men love having them,  and the senior does tell his colleagues about my food blog. Yesterday, I had some  caramel custard and ilish-bhaat / hilsa and rice at Debarathi and Sounak's place.... the very sweet couple of Shaukh Creations Photography.Art.Designs. The lady owns a saree boutique in the island... my latest from her is a pink n ash combination  Khadi-Linen saree .... I had to grab it because I saw Vidya Balan doning a similar combination ... ahh what an epitome of grace she is. Coming to this boy Sounak Chaterjee .... he is multi talented.... excellent photographer, painter, designer.... in a word he has got an eye for art in general. This is a Sunday, instead of taking some lessons from him.... I am doing this but I love sharing with you all my food tales. You see I am not so bad .... this guy takes picture of his glammy and beautiful wife and our beautiful Nibedita or others..... not of this fat old lady..... yet I am all praises of him ..... he deserves that..... you know when you work with him and so many in the island indeed work with him. I am more happy with this boy these days because he got my man get up from his couch and walk into the tennis court .... I am waiting to see how long. After a scrumptious lunch at their home, I went to meet a lady ..... to a very health conscious, sincere to the core Noopur Somani with whom I am doing a 12km night run end of this month. We were to collect our race pack yesterday and with her I cannot have anything else but a cup of yogurt ..... I love that though. Running with her is not a matter of joke given how much effort she puts in her work. She is not Kanti Bakshi who will pat my back and say do not worry... take your time. With a very bad record last time and daddy's sudden departure, I was not willing to do a run sooner, then this sister like former colleague Noopur said I wish to do it together with you this time.... I loved the way she approached and complied. I have given immense importance to this thing in life .... treatment.

From 'Kheer Potol' to running... I am a poor story teller indeed .... one who looses track every now and then. Anyways, back there are a series of celebration and festival and at my home too..... so a sweet share was a natural choice. I would say try Kheer Potol or Meetha Parwal at home... it tastes better than the store bought ones. My personal experience say the store bought ones are overly sweet.... at least the ones I tasted from few of the Kolkata sweet shops. I found it to be very convenient and easy recipe as was told by my friend Tanushree.... so I got a rough idea from her about the recipe of kheer potol last year. Earlier she used to read my posts and say these are the mistakes I found, edit them. She is busy now may be stitching a quilt or a dress. Though I peeped into Neha Mathur of whiskaffair.com and Nisha ji of nishamadhulika.com, I did it my own way, using date palm jaggery instead of sugar for the khoya / kheer. I do not have the energy or patience of boiling milk for hours for the khoya kheer neither do I buy khoya blocks from the store. I prepare that same old instant khoya following a You Tube video.... it is soft in texture than the normal khoya that tastes awesome. The pointed gourd is required to be cooked properly in this recipe to get rid of the raw smell and the feel of a vegetable.... the stuffing can be done by your little girls or boys ..... not all of them see Google Map to find the way to the kitchen. At my home the junior visits kitchen to see what is new for him there in the refrigerator and the senior for beer cans.... they both love their girl's cooking. So, here is a make ahead festive sweet for you with khoya and pointed gourd which is done in an hour or little more than that.



INGREDIENTS : [for the instant khoya]
Milk Powder : 1/3medium cup
Milk : 1/2medium cup
Ghee : 4-5 tbsp
Cardamom Powder : 1tsp
Jaggery : 1/2small cup [I used Date Palm Jaggery] [usually sugar is used in this]

INGREDIENTS : [for the finished product]
Pointed Gourd : 6-8
Sugar : 1/3 Coffee Mug
Water : 11/2-2 Coffee Mug
Green Cardamom : 2-3
The jaggery khoya kheer as we get
Chopped Pistachio and almond for garnish... or of your choice

METHOD :
I had some date palm jaggery left in the refrigerator, so preferred using it instead of sugar. Take the mashed jaggery, milk, milk powder and ghee in a bowl and fold in well. Do not worry about the tiny pieces of jaggery if using, they melt once microwaved.



Micro wave at high for 3 minutes, stirring every 1 minute. What we get is this which also tastes great atop a pao or bread... try..


Let it cool, it thickens a bit. We will take about 2 big cups of water in a deep bottommed vessel and bring to boil. Meanwhile we will, peel, half and scoop out the flesh and seeds of the pointed gourds. We will wash them thoroughly.



As the water starts boiling, drop the halved potol / parwal / pointed gourds gently. Let boil for about 7-8 minutes, we need to get rid of the raw smell, it should not feel like a vegetable at all inside the mouth.



Once done, take them out and discard the water.



In a deep bottomed vessel, take 11/2 -2 coffee mug and 1/3 coffee mug water and set to boil.


Boil for 7-8 minutes and add the pointed gourds and green cardamoms.



Let boil for 5-6 minutes further. Switch off gas oven and let the pointed gourds remain soaked in the sugar syrup for 8-10 minutes.



Gently take out the pointed gourds and place in a plate. We can reserve the sugar syrup for other purpose.



We will stuff each potol / parwal / pointed gourd with the instant khoya we already prepared.



We will garnish them with chopped pistachios and almond and enjoy fresh or refrigerate to be had chilled. Enjoy with your family and friends.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

LEMONY NUTMEG BANANA EGGLESS CUPS



I perhaps have mentioned earlier that once I left school, the mother got me a round shaped baking gadget in which we could bake basic cakes and some basic biscuits. I remember besides some easy to make cakes, I  used to prepare some semolina biscuits with nigella seeds.... the famous 'cha er dokan er biskut' of Kolkata .... famous roadside stall biscuits of Kolkata ..... I do not know why I stopped doing them, perhaps after marriage. Then struggling with a little boy all alone for ten long years.... I cooked only that much as was required for the well being of my boy.... Eating out and travelling were what we waited for the father to come and take us to. Life was not so tough either with support from both sides of the family.... they were just a phone call away. I do wish to go back in that life when day and life revolved around my son, if only the senior stayed with us. I / We could not sail as much as compared to other mariner's wives.... for various reasons. My only concern was to take care of my son .... to get him all kinds of happiness so that he does not miss his father. Yesterday.... we were going out to meet a visiting friend and his daughter. They were in a short trip e route Kolkata from HongKong and said we wish to explore the place better we meet outside..... however I insisted them to come over at our place. I was gazing at the son once he was dressed up .... he grew up so fast .... that boy who knew nothing except for the mother's lap. I asked why do you have to wear black and white always?.... the son told his maternal uncle [ the only one he talks to] that his favourite colour is black .... perhaps so the mother too has developed a liking for black and white.... or it may date back further..... Anushree [Rumni] and Gargi if only you are reading this.... do you remember how your parents used to make fun of mani for her madness for black sarees..... and that particular incident at Nalli's, Chennai...... good old memories. My mother perhaps know only of two colours... black and red.... she wears white perhaps because she has to.

That son who grew up so fast and his father both love homemade basic cakes, what to do their girl fears to go beyond her limit. When it comes to baking.... oh I have made / make so many mistakes.... but I love baking small goodies for my men..... I pack them along with their lunch boxes.... the junior has something like short break in their school, while the senior refuses to eat any breakfast .... I do pack his breakfast too though there are severe fights on this issue. You cannot give in either if the waist size remains same for 35 years.... So the miser wife does not do any misery on feeding them ghee, butter or cheese.... I do tell the senior if you have followed the diet plan I made for you in the past years you would not have to lament for not having a girl friend. As usual the answer is get lost. I do not mind, rather get myself engaged in preparing this lemon and nutmeg flavoured banana cup cakes which they liked very much. There was a time when my brother, mom and father loved the cakes I made.... that is the only thing the mother allowed me to do.... at least I could do something for them. For the LEMONY NUTMEG BANANA EGGLESS CUPS we need very less ingredients. Come let us follow the easy steps carefully and prepare these basic cup cakes full of natural flavours together for our loved ones. These cup cakes goes very well as a tea time goodie or to be packed in your kid's snack box.

INGREDIENTS :
Cake Flour : 1 coffee mug [If you use plain flour, amount is same]
Baking Soda : 1/4 tsp [ If you use plain flour, baking soda should be 1/2tsp, baking powder 1/3tsp]
Nutmeg Powder : 1/2-1/3tsp
Lemon Zest / shredded skin : 2tsp
Banana : 1[ripened enough]
Plain Yogurt : 1/2 medium cup
Condensed Milk : 1/2 small cup
Sugar : 1/4 medium cup
Milk : 1/2 small cup
Vinegar : 1tsp
Oil : 1/2 small cup
Butter [melted] : 4-5 tbsp [ if not increase the amount of oil to 1/3 small cup]

METHOD :
Take the flour, baking soda and nutmeg powder and mix well.

In another bowl, take the sugar, oil, butter and beat well for 3-4 minutes. Add condensed milk, milk, vinegar, a mashed banana, plain vinegar and fold in well. Beat for about 3-4 minutes until we see bubbles forming atop and the texture is lighter. Add the mixture to the flour mix. Add the lemon zest too. Fold in just roughly and not to a smooth batter. Our batter for the LEMONY NUTMEG BANANA EGGLESS CUPS is ready.



Pre heat oven to 180*C. Fill some muffin cups with the batter until half or little less than that. Arrange them on a baking tray.



Place the rack inside the microwave and atop it the baking tray with cake cups. Bake at 180* for 15-18 minutes or adjust according to your machine. They should be done. Once cool they look as below.



I am as novice a baker as a child who is learning to speak, so my cakes may not look as perfect as that, but they taste well. Enjoy them as your tea time goodies or pack your kid's school box with these quick to make cup cakes.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

TIL BADAMBATA ALOO




Sesame seed or Til is quite in use among us Bengalis though not so much in our family except for during the period between Bijoya Dashami to Lokkhi Pujo .... Grandma, maa, aunties preparing 'Tiler Naru'... Sesame Ladoos.... and a greedy little girl trying to steal some at once. I use the word steal because we were not supposed to have before offering them to the Goddess. I am yet not successful with tiler naru... though it is just a two ingredient sweet with roasted sesame seed and jaggery.... the trick is in properly cooking the jaggery mix.... with Janmashtami approaching I am so much willing to prepare them. Then I land in this island and see both varieties of sesame seed is so much in use here. To add more joy to the soul.... so good quality tiler naru is available in the shops here. These are the little things that helps me feel connected. I am not saying this because the island celebrates its National Day tomorrow, its a gut feeling for sure. I should have gone for an authentic dish of this place today, but you know though I have adapted a taste for couple of their dishes, I rarely try them at home. You need to buy a couple of ingredients for that.... and the confused me gets more confused standing in front of the sauce section of NTUC or Cold Storage or Giant .... you will always see me taking a lazy afternoon stroll in these stores after a healthy lunch of Yong Tau Foo or a dumpling soup or a fish soup.  One major reason of identifying myself with this place quickly is that their staple [if I can take the liberty to say that] and ours is rice and fish. This may not be an authentic Bengali dish but I have given a Bengali touch to it.

Coming back to til or sesame seed... it is quite in use at my home these days as an alternative to posto or poppyseed. Wish I / we could convince the higher authorities here that 'postor moto mahargo bostu hoyna, bhalo ghumo hoy'.... poppyseed is good to have and I hear it helps to sleep well.... if it has come out from the mouth of a 'Bangal'.... there is truth in it. That very good quality Tiler Naru is I think a Southern Indian influence in the culture. I do not wish to emphasise such things as that requires a good amount of research..... but there can always be such telephonic conversations with the mom .... 'mani jano South Indian der sangey amader khabarer mil achey.... narkel dudh diye mach bolo ba onno besh kichu... oder pithe-pulir sangey amader mil achey'..... there are similarities between South Indian and Bengali cooking.... their Kozhukattai and our doilla pithe is almost same. Anyway, if I cannot prepare a local dish for the occasion, I will at least use some ingredients that are common here and understandable to a majority. Whether the dish is suitable to symbolise an Indian living happily in the island or not is for the readers to decide. It was 8pm yesterday when I told Cristine... let us prepare a quick fix vegetarian dish... so that in the next morning I need to prepare only the parathas.... So this TIL BADAMBATA ALOO with Paratha went into their lunch boxes today. I need to write more about Cristine soon... last Saturday I went to attend a programme... she prepared a  dessert for us with cornflour, coconut milk, sugar and sweetcorn kernels and calls it Maja Blanca... I really liked it.... I think I have to recreate it using dry fruits for my men..... my chopsticks are naughty enough to consider sweetcorn as an ingredient for salad unless it is used for some corn and cheese fritters. So at 8 pm on a weekday, you or rather a lazy me will not go for any elaborate cooking but for a quick, simple one as this TIL BADAMBATA ALOO. I am not happy with the pictures either but the taste is guaranteed. For that you need to cook together with me TIL BADAMBATA ALOO. If poppyseed is not banned at your place, you can use a bit of it's paste too. A fish curry and rice  dish was so much apt for the occasion but then what about the friends and readers who are keeping fast for the rest of the month or thereafter?

A Happy National Day to all who are celebrating, we stay or not... this island will continue to be one of the safest, cleanliest, disciplined country in the world map.... how will we spend the day tomorrow?... I will cook a jirey-kancha lanka bata diye Ilish beguner jhol - Hilsa with eggplants with a simple spice mix of cumin and green chilli paste.... authentically we use only slitted green chilli and nigella seeds for tempering if the fish is fresh and will not fry the fish too..... the brothersome store helps in the Asian stores say Apa, 'borofer hoileo maccc ta bhalo khaiben'... though frozen, you will enjoy it.... overjoyed at the sight of some gondhoraj lebu and jolpai too, their Apa uses the dialect of her forefathers.... ' jjjalpai diya cccchadni ki bhalo khaitam maa... didur haatey kon bhaijjan.... shidol / hidol shutki / hudki nimu ektun, kobey aaibo janayen'.... their Apa also takes pride in saying publicly that some of her and her senior's closest relatives live under moderate to extreme financial limitations and yet smile at any untimely visitors or guests and say 'ektu macccc bhaat na khaile jaitei dimuna'.... if you have come, you have to have some fish and rice before leaving.... and in the evening we are due to meet some special guests.






INGREDIENTS :
Potato : 6 to 8 medium [ I used Brastagi variety]
Onion : 1 big
Green Chilli : 3-4
Til / Sesame Seed : 1tbsp [roasted]
Cashew nut : 4-5 [raw]
Plain Yogurt : 2tbsp
Fennel Seed : 1/4tsp
Bay Leaf : 1
Turmeric Powder : 2-3 pinches
Salt : As Required
Oil : 4 tbsp

METHOD :

Wash the potatoes and take in a microwave proof dish, make holes in each one with a fork. Microwave for 3-31/2 minutes.... we do not want them to over boil. Take out and hold under running water to cool if you are in a hurry.

Peel off the skin carefully and cut half. Add salt and turmeric.




Peel and wash the onion, cut into smaller pieces. Dry roast the sesame seeds till golden brown. Take the onion pieces, sesame seed, plain yogurt, green chillies and cashew nuts in a blender.



Blend to a smooth paste, use water if only required.



Heat the oil in a wok and fry the potato pieces till little brown.




Take out and keep aside. Temper same oil with with the bay leaf and fennel seeds. Add the paste and little salt. Stir for not more than a minute, now add the fried potatoes and fold in well.




Add a medium cup of water and fold in well again.



We will cover cook for 3-4 minutes.


Open cover and see.... it should be done.



Ingredients like sesame seed or poppyseed pastes have a tendency to soak the gravy.... do not worry, it enhances the taste of the potatoes. Transfer the entire thing in a serving bowl and enjoy with either fried rice or paratha, poori, chapati or even bread.