Monday, January 14, 2019

Moumita's Nolen Gur er Cake -- eggless Date Palm Jaggery cake for Sankranti

Nolen Gur Cake
Photo Credit: Moumita

Khejur Gur (liquid date palm jaggery -- made from boiling the sap from date palms) is very popular in Bengal during the winter months. It is also commonly called "Notun Gur" ( literally, "new jaggery") or "Nolen Gur".

During the cold season from December to February, the sap of the date palms is best harvested and that is the reason we get this gur or jaggery around this time. If you are in rural Bengal during the winter months, and you happen to stroll across the damp fields on a foggy morning, you will see palm trees with a afro-top hair rising like sentinels across the mist. And if you hear closely, you will hear the tip-tip of the sweet sap dripping into the earthen pots hanging just below the palm fronds. The night before, tappers have scaled the thorny trunk of the tree, to tie those pots there.

That sap is pure nectar and when boiled for hours over a wooden fire, it changes color and form to shape into our favorite Nolen Gur or Khejur Gur -- a jaggery synonymous with every Bengali's winter.

The liquid Khejur Gur is delicious, tastes better than Maple Syrup and we used to have it poured on our Luchi (Puri) or Roti for dinner or breakfast. In solid form it is sold in the shape of oval discs and is also known as "Patali Gur" or "Notun Gur". This new jaggery harvested only in the winter months is used to make a variety of sweets in Bengal like "notun gur er sondesh" or "khejur gur er roshogolla".  Ahh, the nolen gur er sondesh is so divine that if you taste it even once, the memory lingers on your tongue forever.

The whole sweet thing, reaches a crescendo during Poush Sankranti when Date Palm jaggery, Coconut and rice flour is used to make a variety of pulis and pithes across the breadth and width of the state

Some of the most popular ones being Gokul Pithe, Khejur Gur er Paayesh, and Pati Shapta.

Now since I was not too keen on making any of the above, this year I decided to celebrate sankranti with Nolen Gur er Cake. It has Khejur Gur plus coconut, that is 75% of Sankranti requirements being met. So, why not, new traditions?

The cake recipe comes from my friend Moumita (of the Kochu Paata Chingri fame), who had made this last month. Her cake was fantastic and we had devoured it in no time.

I took her recipe and added my little nuances which is my habit. However, her cake had more of the Date Palm jaggery flavor. In my recipe, I also added some dates, which made the cake very fluffy and moist but the dates  kind of masked the  delicate flavor of the Date Palm jaggery.

Sharing both versions here

Sunday, December 30, 2018

3 Easy and Fun Cocktails for your Year End Party

I am not much of an "alcohol-drinking" kind of person. I don't get the light-headed, happy feeling that usually a glass of drink should bring.

Instead I feel just plain sleepy after a glass of wine. My eyes get heavy and I doze off!! Plonk!
Clearly that is not what I want to do, as "dozing off" is something I can do easily even without a drink. What is the point then?

I however love cocktails -- Mojito, Margaritas, Mimosas-- good. Given a choice, I usually tell the bartender to go light on the alcohol part. Defeats the purpose you say? But works for me. I am not sleeping after that drink. And I think I might be feeling a teeny bit happier.

But it works best if the husband-man is mixing the drinks at home. He knows my limits and makes the best cocktails that I love.

Here are 3 that I am sure you will love too.

Singapore Sling

This Singapore Sling which the husband-man had made for my last book club meeting(it is his version of the drink), was a major hit.
Our town has a book club and the coordinators take great care to pair the potluck menu at those meetings with the book of the month.
So few months back we were reading #CrazyRichAsians and the menu was around Singapore. I took this cocktail and it was a major hit. It indeed is a lovely drink and heady enough to drown all sorrows!!😜
1 part Gin
2 part Pineapple Juice
Little lime juice.
1 tsp Grenadine
1 part Club Soda
Add a lime wedge

Mint Mojito

Mojito is a summer drink and since we have a huge bush of Mint growing in our backyard, we use all that fresh mint to make ours. If you can get fresh mint, it is a refreshing drink any time of the year.

10 fresh mint leaves

1/2 lime cut into 4 wedges

2 tablespoons white sugar or 2 tbsp of simple syrup.
*Make simple syrup by boiling 1 Cup of Sugar + 1 Cup of Water

1 cup ice cubes

1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum

1/2 cup club soda or Sprite


Place the mint leaves, lime wedges at the bottom of a tall glass or in a cocktail shaker. Add the sugar or simple syrup.

Muddle with a Pestle to release the mint oil and lime juice.

Fill the glass with ice.

Add the rum and top off with club soda or sprite.

Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Limoncello Mule

I had got a bottle of Limoncello on our trip to Italy earlier this year. I have been waiting for the right time to drink it and never found the "right-time". The husband-man used it to make another amazing cocktail which will be on the drink list tomorrow.

3 oz. limoncello
3 oz. good quality vodka
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. ginger beer

Lots of ice
lemon slices - for garnish

Fill a glass with ice.

Add the limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, to a cocktail shaker. Shake shake shake.

Pour into glass. Add Ginger Beer to the top of drinks and stir.

Garnish with Thin rinds of lime.

Here's to a happy looking back to 2018 and fizzy welcome to 2019!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Orange -- Phulkopi Komola Roast

I recently came to know about Phulkopi Komola, a Bengali dish where Cauliflower is cooked with oranges.

I had never ever heard of such a thing before. In our middle class family, we ate KomlaLebu with beet noon on winter afternoons, sitting on the terrace, our back to the sun and a book in front. My Ma, made a Komola Lebu'r kheer on occasions that deemed such extravaganza and that Kheer was so delicious that I cannot even explain in words. Other than that, oranges were had on their own.

Well, anyway, the pairing of Cauliflower with Oranges seemed like a brilliant idea, so I thought why not? But I didn't want to cook them the traditional Phulkopi dalna (cauliflower curry) way. I wanted to roast them. Cauliflowers I roast often. But this time, I wanted to add oranges (clementines to be precise) to the roast.

So Cauliflowers, tiny potatoes, oranges, and some carrots(optional) were chopped. Tossed with some tandoori masala, olive oil, chili powder and even garlic it was a pretty dish to look at and delicious to eat.The oranges gave a tiny kick of sweetness and flavor to the cauliflowers. I added some green peas to add color to the dish and it was an excellent idea. The whole dish is pretty simple to make and the cooking time is the time for you to relax and watch Netflix.