Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Dugga Dugga -- 2

"Ma, o Ma", a pretty young girl, with beautiful doe eyes, and shiny black hair stands in front of the bathroom vanity mirror with a worried look on her face. She is intently studying the labels on two identical jars, each containing some gooey black and green stuff that looks like face cream.
"Ma," the girl repeats again anxiously. "What do you think is better for my face? Dead sea mud and volcanic ash or Ashwagandha* and Ghritakumari?"
In absence of any reply, the girl hesitantly assures herself, "Ghritakumari* sounds so beautiful. I think this will be better for my complexion. After all, it is made in India. There is no other way to go with this product than fair and more fair."
She then carefully applies the greenish gooey, substance on her face, making sure that every inch of her face and neck is coated with the product.
"Ma, can we meet Ghritakumari, when we go to India this time? I think am her fan. I want to follow her. Is she on Insta? Does she do Tik-Tok?," Lokkhi makes a pouty face and takes a selfie.

The mother, bent double over her phone, her eyebrows furrowed, her ten hands flying across ten different apps, does not even look up.
"Didi, grow up. Think beyond your piggy bank and face mask. There is a whole Universe out there to explore before global warming destroys our Kailash," a fair and bespectacled young girl, marches in with a tall glass of emerald green juice, the color of the juice only a shade lighter that the green mask on Lokkhi's face.

She does not drink the juice however, holding it aloft like a statue instead, and keeps checking her phone every few seconds.
"Why do you keep checking your phone? Is your boyfriend going to call you?" Lokkhi suppresses a giggle beneath her masked face.
"Not BF idiot, IF" the fair girl murmurs, letting go off a very audible sigh.
"IF?" Lokkhi squeaks.

The Mother keeps tapping, her bifocals hanging off  the tip of her nose, beads of perspiration shining like drops of pearls right atop her upper lips.
"Intermittent Fasting re baba. Instead of only taking selfies, you should start reading your FB and WhatsApp forwards, Didi. IF is the range in US and India. Everyone is doing the 16:8".

"16:8 ?" Lokkhi squeaks again, just when the phone in Saro's hand starts beeping urgently.

"It's time, it's time. I did it, I fasted for 16 hours, " Saro jumps up, gulps her juice hungrily and quickly snaps into a squat position.
"Dhurr no weight loss with IF. What everyone needs to do is Keto instead. Good food. Lots of fat. Eat as much mutton kosha you want. And still have a figure like me," Kartik walks in with a smirk, pushes Lokkhi aside and flexes his muscles in front of the mirror.

Well, he deserves to be narcissistic.He does indeed look good -- tight muscles, gelled hair, trim mustache. Looks like that Keto or whatever he keeps doing works. Now, only if he tried a little and stopped looking at the mirror so much, he could have a job, even get some role in Bollywood.

While the two of them argue about IF and Keto and Lokkhi keeps taking selfies of her green face, their pleasantly obese, fat bellied brother strolls in with a Krispy Kreme donut-laddoo in hand. He doesn't look into the mirror and focusing on his donut says,  "If I do Keto, can I eat as much mutton kosha as I like? With Luchi or Mishti Pulao?"

Kartik shakes his head in disbelief and looks disdainfully at Ganesh's protruding belly. Ganesh ignores him and takes a bigger bite of his cream filled donut laddoo.

Tension brews in  #12 Kailash Drive. It's always tense and chaotic around here. You couldn't expect anything else with four adult kids living at home.


"Gonshaaa," the Mother's shrill voice pierces through all the arguments, "Eta ki sottiy? Is this true?" For a Goddess, she has a real shrill voice -- years of shouting at he worthless husband, her four kids and that Mahishasur has permanently raised her voice to a high pitch.

"What is true Ma?"

"That now back in my home, that "Bhuter Raaja dilo Bor" is a reality? Only instead of clap, you have to tap your phone and food arrives like magic?"

"Ahh, are you talking of Swiggy Ma? Or Uber eats?" Gonsha smiles benevolently at his Mother.

He loved them. Not mothers. The apps. They were the only reason he could survive all those la-re-lappa songs and intense arguments over Ganapati Visarjan for those 10 days in September. Biryani for dinner, Idli with gun powder for breakfast, Vada Pav or Khao Suey for lunch, and even his favorite Krispy Kreme donut-laddoo for midnight snack...it was pure magic.

"Sottiy tahole? Mandap e delivery korbe?**" Mother's face lights up with a 1000 watt smile. Finally there was something to look forward to after all that standing around in that weird pose for five whole days. She wasn't getting any younger and all that standing with a bent knee was taking its toll.

"No more of that Khichuri, labra everyday! Uff such a blessing." Dugga murmurs to herself.

Now she could have her favorite chilli chicken from Tyangra while posing at that ludicrously expensive pandal in Sreebhumi. She could order Beguni and Muri from Baagbazaar, waiting at Maddox square pujo pandal where no one seems to have heard of North Calcutta. The possibilities seemed endless. She should not forget the pack of Gelusil and Joan er Arok though, her digestion is not as good as it was ten years back

"And Gonsha, what is this? All these food bloggers are taking our recipes and posting them on Facebook, why re? Our Oshur doesn't even cook that well, why are they going crazy?" Dugga peers closer into the phone screen.

"Ei, don't complain about my cooking, free te ranna tar abar oto kotha," Oshur groans from the dining room.

"Plagiarism? Ke koreche? Let me get a internet lawyer. did they use our photos?" Saro jumps in and snatches the phone from her Mom.

"Thakurbari'r mangsho , Thakurbari'r Chholar' Dal, Thakurbari'r aloor chop, Thakurbari'r maggi..." she murmurs scrolling down the list.

"Thakurbari'r Maggi? That is my recipe. Mine. Totally mine" Lokkhi shrieks. "OMG, I am famous. They are copying my recipe".

"Uff Ma, you are too much. This is not us, not Durga Thakur. This is Robi Thakur, Rabindranath Tagore", Saro shakes her head in disbelief. How did she land up in this family of idiots? How?

"Ohh Robi? He rote such good songs, aha. He cooked too? I always knew he was multi talented," Dugga smiles fondly thinking of her favorite bard.

"Achcha Gonsha make me a list of what food to order in the Mandap. There are so many reviews of where to eat for Pujo that I am getting confused now. We have only five days and I am getting older, can't eat that much anymore," Dugga hands over the phone to Ganesh and finally sits back, relaxed and smiling..

"Dada, I kintu want phuchka with jhaal-mishti-tok water," says Lokkhi sliding up to Ganesh.

"I want momos Dada, and Hakka Noodles, but ask them to deliver before 5:30. I have IF", Saro picks up her books and stands behind Ganesh's shoulder.

Kartik shuffles his feet and meekly says, " Dada oi Shiraz er Biriyani ar Rezala, 2 plates, we can share. Biryani is allowed in my Keto."

"Ami vegan. For me, Dosa with coconut chutney only," groans Mahishashur from the kitchen.

Shib finally stirs up from the recliner and says, "Duto shingara, bonde ar ek cup cha".

*Ghritakumari -- Aloe Vera
*Ashwagandha -- Indian ginseng
**Sottiy taholeMandap e delivery korbe? -- So it's true! They'll deliver at the Puja pandal.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Bati Charchari 2 -- with cauliflower stalks et al, pumpkin and eggplant

Bengali Bati Charchari
Our Lunch plate today

engali Cuisine has so many different varieties of vegetarian dishes that it is hard to keep a count. Charchari, Ghonto, Chechki, Jhol, Jhaal, the permutations and combinations are endless.

Even within each of these genres -- there are hundred different varieties.

Charchari is a dish which is usually made with multiple of vegetables. However there are exceptions and individual charcharis also rule the genre, like "Aloo Charchari" with only potatoes or "Dharosh Charchari" with only okra. But most charcharis involve a  myriad of vegetables with a lot of sauteing and thus generous amount of oil. I had read somewhere the name "charchari" came phonetically from the "char char" or charring sound that happened while sauteing vigorously in an iron kadhai.

The Bati Charchari is a little different from usual charcharis as it does not involve any tempering or  sauteing at all. In fact the bati charchari that I have grown up with was made with only potatoes, chopped in long  thin slices, cooked in a steel container with mustard oil drizzled oil from the top.

Today's Bati Charchari which I am calling Bati Charchari 2 is a variation of the typical charchari. It has mustard paste and a tempering of Paanchphoron , Hing and Green Chili. I love the flavor of Hing in my vegetarian dishes and often add them to charcharis. Instead of Mustard paste, I have used Kashundi from a bottle because my Mother sent me  a large stock of Kashundi recently.

The star of this dish was of course the cauliflower stalks which were tender and tasted delicious. I was delighted to see again a cauliflower with such lovely stalks and used the stalks and green in this dish as well as in a dal. Yep, I am officially that age when I get excited by cauliflower stalks.
Instead of going "Oooh, Farhan Akhtar", I am like "Oooh, such lovely green, firm, kopi'r daanta (cauli stalks)"🥰. My heart races seeing such stuff.
Here is a video to give you an idea about making this dish.

Bati Charchari 2 -- with cauliflower stalks et al, pumpkin and eggplant

Chop in equal proportions all of the following vegetables.

Cauliflower stalks and leaves

*I have chopped everything in cubes but you can chop them longitudinally

Heat Mustard Oil for cooking

Temper the hot oil with
1 tsp Paanchphoron
3-4 Green Chili
a pinch of Hing

Now add the vegetables, one after the another.
So add pumpkin, quick saute, then add cauliflower stalks.
Next, goes in cauliflower florets, saute for a minute.
Next eggplant

Sprinkle some Turmeric powder and saute everything for a couple of minutes.

1 Cup of water
1 tsp of Mustard paste (OR 1 tsp Kashundi mixed with some water)
Salt to taste

Mix well.

Cover and cook at low medium until vegetables are tender.

Finish off with a tsp of kashundi and few green chilies for best taste

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Tumi'r Chicken Malai Kabab

Today is Bishawakarma Pujo.

And guess what ? I do not have a single food memory of this festival.

Tomato? Potato? Khichuri? Biriyani? Potol Posto? Neem Begun? Bishwakarma ki kheten🤔

Nothing. Zilch. Nada. My brain throws up a 404 Error at "Bishwakarma Pujo Food". Ki blasphemy!!

There are several for Durga Pujo, a couple for Lokkhi Pujo, a nice number for Saraswati Pujo, even one for Ma Mongol Chondi'r Pujo.

But Biswakarma? Nothing. My mother never made anything special for this guy. Neither did my Thama, paternal grandmother.

Even Dida, my maternal grandmother, who usually was the one with all the rituals and related food, did observe something called "Arandhan", on the day before Bishwakarma Pujo but that was for another goddess Ma Manasa.

Actually I don't remember my Mother making anything special on Ganesh Pujo or Karthik Pujo either.

Do you see the trend here ? I guess these Bengali females were more feminist than any. They made special dishes only for the Goddesses!

But I believe in equal opportunity. If Durga, Lokkhi can have their bhog er khichuri and narkel naru then Baba Biswakarma can have my Kababs.

So what if the women in my family never cooked anything for him! I have other resources.

These tender, soft, juicy malai kababs are my friend's sister's recipe. She lives in UK and she shared this recipe with me almost 4 years back. I have made it umpteen times since then and everytime I make it I remember her saying that she uses "Crème fraîche" for this dish, for that is what they get in Europe and not just some blah "sour cream".

There are many recipes of Chicken Kabbas out there but I always, always stick to Tumi'r recipes. And every freaking time I make these kababs with hung yogurt, some cream cheese, a little sour cream -- I say to myself I should have used "Crème fraîche"!!!

That is how recipes are for me, they are always about who told you about it, whom you learned from, where you heard about it, whose home you tasted it, who gave you those small to  and what you remember it by.

Chicken tenderloins cut in kabab sized cubes -- 1.5 lb

Marinade Ingredients

Thick Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt strained of whey) -- 1/2 cup
Sour Cream -- 1/4th Cup (I usually don't have sour cream at home so skip this)
Cream Cheese -- 3-4 Tbsp
Olive Oil -- 2 tsp

Spices for marinade

Garlic Paste -- 1 Tbsp
Tandoori Masala -- 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder -- 1 tsp
Chat Masala -- a sprinkle
Dried Mint -- 1/2 tsp
Green Chili -- 2 minced
Lemon Juice -- from 1/2 lemon
Salt -- to taste

Marinate the Chicken pieces with all the ingredients listed under "Marinade Ingredients"

Then add all ingredients under "Spices for marinade"

Toss the chicken pieces well making sure all pieces are well coated. Now refrigerate for 1 hr to overnight.

When you are ready to cook, put the pieces on a skewer. put the skewers on a grill rack with a dripping tray below. Into the oven at 375 F for 20 mins.

Then take out and turn the skewers. Drizzle a little bit more of olive oil and put to broil for 6-8 minutes

Serve it right away with salad or roti.

School Lunch ideas: You can also cool and freeze in portions and add these to noodles or fried rice or even make a chicken tikka gravy with these kababs

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