Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bollywood Balle Balle

Imagine this. Early Morning, am tuned in to NPR while trying to concentrate on the road instead of dozing off and what hits me but the song "Saawariya....blah, blah, blah". I was not particulalry fond of the movie or the song but it being on NPR at 7:15 in the morning, robbed sleep off my eyes

NPR discusses Hollywood forays into Mumbai, and says,

"And though Hollywood likes to think of itself as the world's biggest movie town, those billion-plus movie-mad Indians are served by a home-grown movie industry — the entertainment machine some refer to as Bollywood — that annually puts out more than twice as many movies as its U.S. competition. Hollywood, no surprise, is hungry for a piece of that market."

To make a place in the Indian market for themselves Hollywood is now trying to produce Hindi Movies. Ok they first tried to woo Indian audience by dubbing SpiderMan 3 in Bhojpuri but the Makad Manav didn't really charm the Indian audience it seems, so they thought ok let us just produce the next WXYZ by Karan Johar. Karan Johar was not in town or whatever and they got hold of Sanjay Bhansali.

"That's why Sony became the first major Hollywood studio to produce a Hindi-language film."

The film was "Sawariya" which failed miserably but,

"Sony executives say they plan on making more movies in Mumbai. There's even a sense that one of these days, movies from India may become as much of a force in the world as Hollywood pictures. " Amen to that

And now Disney is making an animation feature Roadside Romeo for the Indian Market.

And why is this on my food blog, because,

""Culturally, India is much more connected with our own movies and our own stars, much like our food," says Uday Singh, managing director of Sony Pictures in India

NPR Story here

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Yogurt Parfait with Dates

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Weekend is over, it is cold & drizzling out,

3 loads of laundry -- done,
3 dishes cooked for the week -- done,
tomorrows lunch -- done,
the bathroom scrubbed – partly done,

a dinner attended -- done,
Ma-in-laws birthday celebrated -- done,
3 rounds of grocery stores -- done,
Dump the daughter on the hubby – done kind of,

Indian Chinese Restaurant for lunch -- done,
Called up home – done
Found a 24” suitcase for a friend – done
Scour the hardware store to find the perfect color for basement wall – still searching

A single serving of yogurt parfait to be done for the blog -- done
Take the shot -- done
Shared the parfait with D and S (there was only a single serving remember) -- done
Blogging -- waiting

Yogurt parfait with dates and pomegranate

Get some thick yogurt

Drain the whey by doling out the yogurt on a sieve and letting it drain. If you don’t have a sieve use a colander lined with cheesecloth

Add figs and raisins on the bottom layer

Add half the yogurt

Drizzle some honey

Add rest of the yogurt

Add chopped dates, pomegranate seeds, honey and a sprinkle of flax seeds

Refrigerate and serve chilled after an hour

Use any other fruits and layer according to your choice

Blogging -- DONE !!!. This goes to Chandrika for AFAM -- Dates. Heard she is still accepting entries, is she...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fish Chops that were Baked

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“What is my color, Mummy”, she said, among all the prattling from the backseat.

The only things I love listening to while driving is NPR, Kishore, Rafi, Asha, Indranil and myself. But as fate has it, as soon as S is strapped into her car seat, she demands NPR to be switched off and the stereo volume cranked up blaring “Malish…tel malish…” or “baranday roddur…” at my eardrums.

On top of this she prattles, stating her opinion about life in general and throws questions at me now & then. I usually get by saying that I need to pay attention to my driving else I may bang onto someone and given my bang-bang history she leaves me alone and continues with her opinions.

This unassuming question caught me unprepared though. I was almost about to bump into the Ford Focus in front as words like racism, apartheid, mutiny, dowry deaths and what not crossed my mind. You know how I over react.

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She was not white and no it definitely didn't look brown.

Was it India, I like my Ma would have steadfastly stuck to fair while the neighbours, the milkman, the bai and everyone else insisted on medium or even dark. Now those are not colors, and I was a dumb child.

Given the L’Oreal swatches and half an hour I could maybe figure out that she might be dangling between Nude Beige and Sand Beige, but of course I couldn’t say that. Whoever says “Please my colour is Nude Beige….arrrrrgh”

And then she wanted a color that was in her Crayola box of twelve’s and not a shade in Benjamin Moore color palette. So I was at a loss and said what a clever, articulate, smart, loving, domestic diva and non-domestic smartass Mommy would do.

I said “What do you think?”

She said “Umm… orange”

Very carefully with fear in my heart I asked “And me…what is my color?”

She said “ You are orange too… baba is orange, thammi (paternal grandma) is orange”

Huh, United Colors Of Benetton, please take note while I have some nicely browned Fish Chops.

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These fish chops were baked instead of frying. Fish Chop or Macher Chop is something which every Bengali household holds a patent on. They are traditionally deep fried and also the actual macher chop has a spicy mashed potato casing stuffed with spicy fish stuffing.
I did not want to use to much potato so did not make the version with the casing this time. The fried ones taste better and if you want to you can deep fry them. I wanted to bake and not deep fry so I tried out the baked version over the weekend.


Fish Chop

Made 15 of them. sizes were on the smaller side though

What You Need

Onion Paste ~ 8 tbsp
Ginger & Garlic paste ~ 2 tbsp

Tuna ~ 2 cans of Light Tuna in Water. My Ma who does not get tuna uses fish filet , cooks them and mashes them to a kind of a paste !!!
Mashed Potato ~ 1 cup (I cooked 2 large size potatoes and mashed them up.)

Tomato Ketchup ~ 1 -2 tbsp. I used Maggi Hot & Sweet which is a spicy yet sweet tomato sauce
Red Chilli Powder ~ 1 tsp or more depending on your spice level
Bhaja Masala or Garam masala ~ 1 tsp loosely packed
Raisins ~ 1/3 cup

Green Chillies ~ 6-7 or less
Fresh Green Corriander ~ finely chopped about a handful

Sugar ~ 1/2 tsp heaped
Oil ~ 3 tbsp for making the stuffing + 1 tsp for greasing the tawa/griddle

How I Did It

Making of Mashed Potato (Yeah, as if you needed to know that)

Boil 2 Potatoes large sized. I used my Pressure Cooker. You can also microwave if you know how
Got rid of the skin
Mashed them with the back of a flat spatula till there were no more lumps and added a little salt and red chilli powder. Smooth it was. Used 1 cup of this. Leftovers if any, were had with rice with and a dash of mustard oil and green chillies


Make the Onion Paste
Make the fresh Ginger-Garlic Paste. You can always do this beforehand as I do. You can also use straight out of the jar.
Open the can of tuna and drain all the water . Best to dump it on a sieve and drain the last drop of water out.


Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan
Add the Onion Paste and about 1/2 tsp of sugar and fry till they turn pinkish brown
Add the Ginger-Garlic paste and the chopped Green Chillies and sauté till the masala looks done
Add the drained tuna and cook mixing the masala well with the tuna till fish is cooked
Add 1 tbsp of my all time favorite Magii Hot&Sweet. Go with your favorite if you have any
Add the 1 cup of mashed potato
Add Red chilli powder and salt
Fry till the masala mixes well with the whole stuff.
Sprinkle a little of the Dry Roasted Masala
Add about 1/2 cup of chopped corriander to get that fresh dhaniya smell
Add the raisins
Cool and keep aside

Make small flat round balls of this mixture. Not very flat they should have a 3rd dimension.
Dip in a batter of egg wash, roll in bread crumbs and refrigerate for half an hour or more

In a flat non-stick Tawa or griddle smear about 1 tsp of oil or grease with Pam spray.
Brown the fish balls on both sides.
Sprinkle semolina/sooji on a baking tray and arrange the browned flat balls on it. Alternately you can lightly grease the bake tray and put the balls on it.
Heat oven to 400F.
Bake for 30-40 minutes (this time may vary). They would be nicely browned by this time.
Enjoy with some home made chutney or my favorite Maggi Hot & Sweet

But seriously what do you say when your kid asks such questions, whatever part of the world you are from ? Do we just let them figure it out or do we really need to find the right color ?

Edited to Add: First of all maybe I should make it clear, S asked this question out of pure interest, more I think because she was wondering what she would paint her paper figurine ( a life size paper cut out of herself) with.
I don't think there were discussions as such in her school, those discussions will surely come later.

Trivia:Fresh tuna is an oily fish, high in fatty acids. But when it's canned, these fatty acids are reduced to levels similar to white fish. So, although canned tuna is a healthy choice for most people, it doesn't count as oily fish.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Fresh Snow

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Do you ever cry ? Not the kind of crying at the time of immense grief or sorrow. Not crying in happiness either. Crying when your pent up emotions need a release, the anger needs a way out, the stress needs to be busted. Yes counting from 1 to 10 and further and deep breaths might help. Hitting the source of anger with a slingshot works even better. But try getting into the shower, let the water flow over you in force, and let your tears down.
The warm water gushing over you, mingled with the fresh smell of your body wash and the tears just flowing. You don’t need a shoulder to cry on, a shower works better.

Snow does wonders to me as you can see even if I don’t have to clean the driveway or the car. Here’s to the first snow of the season.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Toor Dal Chutney

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Toor Dal Chutney

I love filching from hotels. No not towels, linens, curtains or furniture but soaps and sometimes shower caps. Guess it is in my “purani jeans” that I inherited from my great Indian Middle Class brethrens. I am however no cheapo filcher, I carry away body wash and cutesy soap bars only from good and reputed hotels and not from every Days Inn owned by the patel brothers. (The days Inn might have recycled my soap but the better ones definitely trash them and don't re-use them if the wrapper has been torn and the soap sniffed at, so though filching is morally wrong I think I am helping the economy by not letting them throw away tiny unused soaps. God please forgive me)

The little S who according to the in-laws is 60% like my dear sis-in-law and remaining 39.99% like her Dad, the darling Hubby, has inherited the last but not the least 0.01% from me and that is alas the love for Hotel Toileteries. She goes gaga over the little soap bars that the Hotel has, treasures them, brings them back home and uses them on special days.

Now, the hubby who has been travelling extensively the last few weeks, came back home around midnight yesterday. The way he keeps fleeting in and out of the house, you would think it was his in-laws and not mine, who are visiting. But why do I complain, I get peaceful nights to sleep in, without the high pitched snoring that jolts me every now and then, isn’t that what every female wants?

Anyway, knowing little S’s love for those soaps and also because he did not have the time to get her anything, he had filched two white and green soaps from the hotel and gave them to the little girl along with a small stress ball with a lot of hype and excitement. The little girl’s face lit up when she saw them, excited she ran around showing everyone in the household the two precious soaps and the ball. She became benevolent and offered to share one of them with me too. She literally danced around and hugged D for her lovely gifts.

She hadn’t been half as happy seeing the puzzle and the Melissa&Doug magnetic board I got for her from Amazon two weeks back.

It was so beautiful to see her contented and happy with those tiny things. May she remain the same always, happy with what she gets and not asking for more. Amen.

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Toor Dal Chutney added to Guacamole as a dip

India is an amazing country with 1.5 billion people, 28 different states, 7 Union Territories, and 1652 different languages.

In a country with such diversity it is not surprising to have a vast difference in cuisines from the North to South, The East to West and basically from each corner to the other.

So while Toor Dal is a must in the South Indian cuisine and hugely celebrated there, it is not often used in the cuisine from the eastern Region. The Moong and the Masoor are the dals which are favored over Toor here. So while my Ma will never ever run out of Moong or masoor, she will have to run out FOR toor if you wish her to cook it on a random day.

Both me & D have developed a love for sambhar however and I do stock Toor Dal in my pantry and also make sambhar often. The other way I make Toor dal is the way a friend from the UP belt taught me. The UP belt also love Toor Dal with dollops of ghee with their chapatti and I love their dal tempered with red-chillies, whole cumin seeds and garlic.

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Toor Dal Chutney with Idli

Since I have not tried Toor Dal any other way I wanted to give toor dal chutney a shot and googled thus “toor dal chutney blog”. I came up with this, this and this. So be it, I decided and made a mean toor dal chutney, combining everything I read and things I consider to be a stamp of South Indian Cuisine. Refer to these blogs for exact measurment. This is my entry for JFI-Toor dal hosted by Lovely Linda who blogs at Out Of The Garden


Toor Dal Chutney

This is what I did

Dry Roasted toor dal and dry red chillies till the toor dal was slightly browned and I could smell the warm aroma. Soaked them in water for 15 minutes.

Heated 1tsp oil and lightly sautéed a clove of garlic.

Put the roasted toor dal, dry red chilies and garlic in a grinder and made a fine wet paste.

Added salt and tasted. It still lacked what I felt was the south Indian flavor

In the 1 tsp of oil added some mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida and few curry leaves. Added the seasoning to the paste.

Mmmmmmmm…something still missing

Added a little tamarind paste and a little sugar.

Yes, yes, yes…loved it. Had it with mini rava idlis that I made out of MTR mix. But I loved the chutney by itself too.

Day 3

There was still Toor dal chutney left, no more Idlis and the household kept saying "the chutney was interesting" whatever that meant

Also I had some avocado and had made some guacamole with finely chopped red onions, lots of corriander leaves, green chillies, lime juice, salt and a little olive oil.

Since I was going to send this to the innovative Linda, I thought why not and added the guacamole to the toor dal chutney or vice versa, in 1:1 ratio.

I actually liked the result though the corriander leaves dominated the flavor.

Give it a try if you have both in hand as the next dip for your chip

Trivia: Toor dal or split Pigeon peas is also known as tuvar dal and arhar dal. They contain high levels of protein and the important amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan. The Indian subcontinent, Eastern Africa and Central America, in that order, are the world's three main pigeon pea producing regions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Marag and The Pulao

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What is this fishy looking dish”, random blog hopper aka RBH

“It is not fish, it is mutton, and a very tasty one at that”, my blog aka MB

“No, I meant it looks suspicious, what’s with this shadow play…Guru Dutt style”, RBH

“Oh this fantastic woman who writes my blog is very talented, she can shoot pictures at all angles…Kurosawa angle, Guru Dutt angle…anything…very talented”, MB with hint of pride

“Umm I think she needs more light, to light up her fishy dishes, ask her to adjust the white balance of her camera next time”, a not impressed RBH mumbling about how blogs will just put up anything and expect people to comment & such

“Oh she knows all about balance, you don’t have to worry, just eat it and move”..MB gruffly

And so I present to you the Marag as copied very diligently from Nabeela’s Blog.But if you notice I have multiplied all ingredients with 3 so it is technically not copying :D

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“But the title says it is Marag, why isn’t it soupy then and why is it served with a Pulao” connoisseur blog hopper aka CBH
“You know marag comes from Arabic maraq (marak or marag). Marga or marag in Iraq is a stew "of meat and vegetables simmered in tomato sauce". How did you make it look like this” CBH does not like this and is very flustered.

“Oh the woman who writes my blog is very talented, she can make a stew look like a gravy, a pulao look like a khichdi…anything…very talented”, MB with the hint of pride now faltering

Ok so I did make the Marag more thicker than it should be and hence served it with a Pulao instead of the traditional Arabic bread or Sheermal as is the norm in Hydereabdi weddings. But I made it thicker because I had to serve it with Pulao since it was D's birthday and the Bong friends preferred pulao, so it is not my fault. Also since Sra announced Grindless Gravies I had to send her something and I couldn't send her a stew so this is it. Blame it on her, on D or rice loving Bongs if you want to.

It tastes heavenly and so don't go by its looks here. Look at Nabeela's for how gorgeous it can be.
Also check Manisha's slow cooker version here (oops she too multiplied by 3 but god promise I did not copy from her, I really had 3lb of mutton)


Hyderabadi Marag

What you Need

Mutton (I used Goat meat you can use lamb) ~ 3 lb
Onion ~ 3 medium onion blend to a smooth paste. I DID NOT use the blender. I grated them in the grater just like my MOM used to. But whoever makes this PLEASE use the blender unless you are sending it to Sra.
Corriander leaves ~ 2 bunches of leaves
Green Chillies ~ 5-6 finely chopped. Again the original recipe does not use green chillies, they use serrano chillies in water and then use the water. I like it hot so added Indian green chillies

Yogurt ~ 2 cups
Ginger paste ~ 2 Tbsp
Garlic Paste ~ 2 Tbsp

Cumin seed ~ 3 tsp
Cinnamon Sticks ~ 3 sticks (length 1 finger )
Bay Leaf ~ 3
Cardamom Pods ~ 6
Cloves ~ 9
Peppercorns ~ 30

Black pepper powder ~ 1 tsp or more
Garam masala ~ 2 tsp
Sugar ~ 1tsp (optional)

Ghee ~ 2tbsp (nabeela says you should never skip this)
Olive Oil/Canola Oil ~ 3 tbsp

How I Did It


Though Nabeela’s recipe does not ask for it, I marinated the mutton overnight in 1 cup yogurt mixed with ½ tbsp Ginger paste, ½ tbsp garlic paste and a pinch of turmeric.
I took it out from the refrigerator an hour or two before cooking and sprinkled a little salt on it and let it rest.

The corriander leaves should be finely chopped and mixed with about 2 cups of water and microwave for 2 mins. Though only the water should have been used in the recipe I used the entire thing


Heat the Ghee + Oil in a pressure cooker and add all the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, pepper corns and cumin. You may or may not follow this order but do add them.

When the spices start browning add the onion paste along with the sugar and sauté till the onion takes on a pinkish hue. Nabbela says to fry for 2 mins and ideally that should be it.

Add the Ginger Paste and the Garlic Paste and I also added the green chillies at this point. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the mutton and the yogurt. In my case this was 1 cup of fresh yogurt plus the marinade. Keep frying for some more minutes till the masala mixes nicely with the mutton.

Add the corrinader water(I also added the finely chopped leaves in there), black pepper powder, garam masala, salt and mix well.

I added only very little water at this point as I did not want t it soupy. You can add 1 cup of water or more if you want to have it as a stew.

Put the lid on the pressure cooker. I then lowered the heat and kept it on the flame to slow cook for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes I raised the heat and cooked till I could hear the “Phisssssssssh” of the cooker. In all it took me 50-55 minutes from closing the lid. After opening the lid I kep it on heat for few more minutes to thicken the gravy

Plain Pulao

What you Need

Basmati Rice ~ 4 cups

Whole Garam Masala

Bay Leaves ~ 6 small ones
Cinnamon stick ~ 2 the size of my finger, ok less thick
Cloves ~ 11-12
Elaichi ~ 8

Onion ~ 1 medium chopped very very fine and small
Ginger paste ~ 1 tbsp

Kaju/Cashew ~ ½ cup
Kishmish/raisins ~ ¼ cup
Milk ~ 1 cup
Saffron ~ a few strands (mine were pretty old and so did not give much color)

Water ~ 7 cups (idea is, rice:liquid = 1:2)
Salt ~ according to taste, ususally a little less since the Pualo will be served with a gravy
Sugar ~ ½ tsp
Oil ~ You can use Oil + Ghee or just Oil
Ghee ~ ½ tbsp (you can use more)

How I did It

Soak the rice for 30 mins, wash it and then let it to dry on a paper plate. You can also put it on a newspaper to dry like my ma used to

When the rice is almost dry smear the grains uniformly with the ghee and mix the cashew and the raisisns with it.

Heat Oil + Ghee or just Oil in a heavy bottomed cooking pan

Add the whole garam masala and wait a minute till they brown

Add the onions and sugar and fry till they take a pinkish-brown hue.

Add the ginger paste and fry for a few seconds.

Add the rice and sauté mixing the rice uniformly with the masala.

Soak saffron strands in milk, warm it and add the warm milk.

Add salt & water. Instead of adding all 7 cups of water together, I added 4 cups of water, covered and let the rice cook. When the water was almost dry and the rice was still uncooked, I gave it a light stir and added the 3 remaining cups of water. Cover and keep a close watch till rice is cooked.

Serve with anything you wish

Trivia: In Scotland oatmeal is mixed with fat, water, onions and seasoning, and boiled in a sheep's intestine to make "marag geal"' Outer Hebridean white pudding, served sliced with fried eggs at breakfast. So if you google for marag this what you will get other than Manisha and Nabeela's recipe

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Perun Bhaji or Bell peppers with besan

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Fate and the fact that Fall is almost over gave me a cold, dreary day. To be kind it also gave me colourful red, yellow and green bell peppers. Not that you don’t get them other time of the year but it is always nice to associate winter with colourful veggies and you need to thank Fate once in a while.

And then Fate conspired with Farah Khan to give the likes of me, (which might go up to millions) “Om Shanti Om”. It also put me in a spot where I can act like a true NRI and show my love for “Desh ki Dharti” and contribute towards upping my country’s economy by watching Bollywood Blockbusters on big screens with 100 other Desi Uncles and Aunties who were as mesmerized by SRK’s six packs as was Moi.

Truth be told I loved the movie. Ok, given that I get to watch hardly 2 movies a year, I love any movie, but this I loved the "bestest".

My sense of humor being fed on MTV stalwarts like Cyrus, Udham Singh, Quick Gun Murugan, MTV Bakra and such is definitely not very refined. I love gags and spoofs and more brainless they are the better. I do not do smiles where you just curl up the end of your lips, I want laughs that are on high octane, where you can slap your buddy on the back and throw your head back, sideways and do everything short of ROTFL (Rolling on the thanks that I can’t do). This movie let me do most of that and the lines were replete with my kind of pun which the D does not get. He understood all the humor in this movie though…strange…maybe he is just ageing and getting hang of Bollywood.

And if you have low esteem for all things Bollywood and SRK, I forgive you. You are a young Indian with a fad for all things Intellectual or an older one like the D who still wants to hold on to the previous image, we have all been through that phase and turned up our snooty noses and watched Bergman over Barjatiya, before long you will be on this side of the camp.

The fact that my Dad who tagged everything beyond Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Amitabh Bachchan as “baje cinema” (baje = bad) is a fan of Govinda at his current age (no, he is NOT senile, only in his early sixties) proves the above theory.

Let me add in fine prints though, I am not a blind follower of Bollywood and do not like anything they dish out. So do not put Bollywood related Google Ads on my page and please don't ask me to watch "Sawariya" and such

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Not to forget the Red, Yellow & Green Bell Peppers in this ensuing Bollywood drama.

With them I made Perun Bhaji or Bell Peppers with Besan. I know it is a Maharashtrian dish but I don’t know if this is the actual name, but I loved the feel of the name on my tongue so much that I now call it this. Actually I just utter the name even if I am not cooking it.
I first saw it at SJ’s and then at Lakshmi’s. Combined the two recipes and made the third.

As is the norm, I do not have measures. The ones I give here are very very approximate.


Perun Bhaji

What You Need

Bell Peppers/ capsicum ~ 4 chopped in small pieces
Besan/Chickpea Flour ~ 1 cup
Red Chilli Powder ~ 1 loosely packed tsp (adjust according to your heat level)
Dhania/Corriander powder ~ 1 tsp heaped
Amchur Powder ~ ½ tsp

For tempering

Kalonji/Kalo jeera/ Nigella Seeds ~ 1 loosely packed tsp
Hing/Asafoetida ~ ½ tsp

Oil ~ for cooking. I have used Olive Oil and also Canola at times
Salt ~ to taste
Sugar ~ 1 loosely packed tsp (totally optional)

How I Did It


Chop the bell peppers in small pieces
In a bowl add besan/chickpea flour and to it add the r.chilli, coriander, amchur powder and make a dry mix. No water


Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan

Temper with Kalonji and Hing

Add the Bell Pepper Pieces and sauté. Cover and cook till they are soft

Add the besan (mixed with the spices) to the capsicum cooking in the Kadhai.

Stir pretty vigorously to mix the besan with the veggie

Sprinkle a little water if necessary or add a little oil on the sides of the Kadhai. This is only if you think the besan is sticking to the sides of the Kadhai.

Add salt & sugar

Do the stir, cook routine till the besan takes on a crumbly texture and the bell peppers are cooked

Trivia: Bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C. Green bell peppers have two times the vitamin C by weight than citrus fruits (oranges, lemons etc.) and Red bell peppers have three times what the green bell varieties have

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Who Am I ?

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I am tart, sweet, spicy. I was not cooked or prepared by this blog's owner or her family but she and the rest sure enjoyed me. Who am I ?

Ok, as much as I would have liked to go with "madhuri dixit shrivelled up after dancing in the heat and with a hangover." (courtesy Bee), I have to say I enjoyed these much more than Madhuri Dixit with or without hangover

Indo was correct and Nupur hit the nail right on the head...THWACK !!!

These are indeed Chile Spiced Mango from Trader Joe's. Now I don't have a Trader Joe's in my vicinity but had heard so much about the store in the blogs I visit, that I simply had to make a stop on our recent DC trip. This is what happens when you Food Blog, you skip the President to meet Trader Joe, good decision any day.

Now I need to venture out to see if I can get them at the Wegman or Whole Foods, near my home and don't have to do the 198 miles each way to procure a packet of these luscious beauties.

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Trivia: Trader Joe's , the chain began in 1958 as a Greater Los Angeles area chain of "Pronto Market" convenience stores.In response to strong competition from 7-Eleven, the chain differentiated its stores' offerings and doubled the floor space in 1967

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Diwali and...

One more inane post from me with colorful pics which might not interest anyone and in fact has nothing to do with the writings. To keep the interest alive even without food, you have to do the unthinkable.

The fact is I am not cooking much these days. The sweet ma-in-law who is visiting has been delegated the task to feed the family. Now she cooks delectable delights and had I been the ideal Indian Bahu with virtues like patience, docility, ghunghat…blah blah I would have patiently stood by her side and jotted down recipes in neat cursive writing in my recipe book with expensive monogrammed pages(Do they make those by the way)

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At The Capitol on a crisp cold November morning

But as luck would have it I have neither patience nor cursive writing and in fact not even a decent recipe book. So I don’t write, I just come back home, lay the table for dinner and eat the sumptuous meals, all the time doing my bit by praising her culinary skills. In fact I sometimes even suggest the menu and throw in my ideas about how it should be done (ok no one what), and then cook the Dal of the day while I let Ma-in-law wallow in the pleasure of cooking rest of the meal. The only thing I can't get her to do is measure which no decent cook worth their Indian Spices does, so the blog suffers.

Had I done that, Ekta Kapoor would surely feature me in her next multistarrer "Kkabhi Bahu bhi Saas Banegi"

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The Washington Monument standing tall

So you see, that is though you do not see food on my blog I am enjoying good food, family and life. That is I have proved that I actually have a life now outside the Blog. Wow I actually proved something… incredible.

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Can we decide on the next President

Now to keep the Mom part of the Blog alive a short update on lil’ S who in fact refuses to grow up and doesn’t even want her Birth Day anymore. Given that I have not read Peter Pan to her yet, I don’t know how she got this idea.

She however started showing an increased interest in dancing after we plugged in to 4 Indian Channels who showcase dance and music like there is no tomorrow. In the fear that she could bring shame err fame to the family by becoming the next Rakhi Sawant and dancing to tunes of Himesh, I signed her up for a Indian classical dance lessons. She did not really take to it much initially and even made me hold her hands and do some steps with her. Me with my two left feet holding a 3and ½ year olds hand and dancing Kathak was a sight to behold, but I would do anything, really anything to keep my child safe from Himesh and gang.

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Fall colors in the woods across my backyard

Also had much fun at Halloween. I like Halloween because of two primary reasons besides the candy.

The burgeoning cost of costumes have not hit me yet as the lil’ one is really good and wants to be princess and nothing but the Princess and does not want any costume per se. So while last year I dressed her up as the Indian princess in her ghagra-choli with a crown, pearly beads and wand this year she was a Princess in a hand-me down pretty Cinderella dress. So whatever the costume as long as there is a crown she is happy.

The second reason might evoke sniggers but I really like this one time chance I get to take a sneak peek at the unknown neighbor’s. The unknown always holds enchantment for me and instead of using that curiosity to discover the new planet in the galaxy with intelligent beings, I take sneak peek at the neighbor’s (don't get wrong ideas ok ?). The daughter however turned to be too propah and refused to ring doorbells at unknown houses so we did the rounds of familiar boring homes and collected limited candy

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And now there is Diwali. Staying in a different land has its advantages. You get to celebrate all your own festivals, adopt the ones that the new country has to offer and also celebrate some which others like you have brought into the culture. The result is nothing but celebrations year round. And even then I pine for Durga Puja back home which actually might turn out something like this (Do read this hilarious post by Anamika)

And that brings me to the actual reason why I wrote this post. To wish all of you A VERY HAPPY DIWALI .

And please do pardon me if you don't see me around that much, I try to and then life happens.

* Pics are from our recent DC pilgrimage
* For all who wanted to know the make of my camera , I mostly use my Canon SD700 IS. The first 2 pics in this post have been taken by the Nikon D80, which is a recent gift from D and which I have not used that much yet.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Durga Pujo Isspecial -- Shubho Bijoya

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Narkel Naru & Kucho Nimki on Bijoya

Shubho Bijoya’r Priti o Shubhechcha or Greetings and Good Wishes on Bijoya

So Pujo is over and even Lakshmi Pujo is over and I am late to wish everyone Shubho Bijoya but then technically I get time till Diwali to finish my Bijoya so it is fine.

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For a short update, the Pujo was good fun with me managing to land up at the Mandap all 4 days starting Saptami (Seventh day of Navratri) with the family in tow. I even managed to drape myself in nine yards of silk on 3 of those days and the pallu stayed without pins and the pleats did not give way, no mean feat if you know me. I also queued up for Anjali and offered Anjali at 8:30 PM every evening having feasted on breakfast, lunch, snack and everything else instead of the usual fasting that should have been propah, again no mean feat if you know my Ma.

The daughter initially did not show much interest in Durga or the Durga Puja and claimed she did not much like Durga Thakur because Durga Thakur did not give her anything. I tried to get philosophical and told her it is Durga Thakur who had given her Mommy & Baba, but that did not impress her as she did not think these were creatures important enough to be actually gifted to anyone. Finally when I told her the Lego Bucket, which she incidentally had since last year, was actually brought by Durga, she got very excited and was also visibly pleased. The fact that she got a chocolate bar as Prashad from Durga Thakur clinched the deal and she became a major devotee and even offered Anjali with two flowers.

Dashami (tenth day of Navratri) was good too with Sindoor khela (married women applying Sindoor/vermillion to the Goddess and also each other) and there was some dancing at the Mandap , narkel naru (coconut laddu) and then nimki, followed by Biryani and kabab at night for dinner. I did not feel the immense sadness, guess I am getting used to real life deals.

But while discussing Pujo, memories, food etc I forgot to tell you the most important thing, the one thing I liked most about Durga Pujo since I was a little girl of six.

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Anandamela and AnandaBazaar Patrika this year

It is the Pujo Shankhya or the Annual Puja Numbers. Now Bengal being the literary state that it is, it has a very rich history of art & literature. So during Durga Pujo, the publishing houses like Ananada Publishers, Deb Sahitya Kutir etc. bring out special editions of the monthly magazines published by them.
These special editions are thick volumes with literary gems from all renowned Bengali authors. Packed with writings by the best authors, these Puja Numbers are something I and every Bengali child in their right mind would look forward to.

When I was a kid, my Ma in her effort to teach me Bangla would get me monthly subscriptions of the very popular Bengali children’s magazine Anandamela. During Durga Pujo this AnandaMela would come out in its special edition with colorful, glossy jacket and stories & articles in different flavors from all famous, almost famous, trying to get famous authors. It was the biggest treat a child could ever have.

Those days these were published and available in the market around Mahalaya and in our small town we would book our copy with the local paper wallah days in advance, in fact right after summer. So while Mahalaya meant getting up at 4 AM to listen to Birendra Krishna Bhadra, it also meant pestering the Paper wallah every day to see if the coveted book had arrived. I cannot quiet explain the excitement, the waiting, the longing for the book to arrive. Days were spent thinking what “Gogol”* might do and where “Santu”** might land up with “kakababu”**. The book would finally arrive along with My Ma’s copy of Desh or Anandabazaar patrika and many blissful hours would be spent in its magical pages.

Even now Durga Pujo for me is incomplete without Pujo Shankhya and I either buy them here or get my Ma to send them. With the Sharadiya being published way in advance these days, my ma easily finds someone to send me the copies and their arrival heralds the onset of Durga Pujo.

Along with shiuli and kashful, the Sharadiya Pujo Shankhya means Durga Pujo to me.

I do not think I will get around teaching my daughter to read Bengali or maybe I would, but if I didn't, I know she will miss out on the wait for these special editions which with their glossy jackets and mesmerizing tales carried the fragrance of Durga Pujo.

Do you have any Pujo Shankhya favorites or if you are from another Indian state do you have a similar concept of Special editions which are extremely popular ?

*Gogol -- fictional character by Samaresh Babu, another legendary author
Santu & kakababu -- fictional characters by Sunil Gangopadhyay, a very famous Bengali author

Some other lovely Durga Pujo posts from fellow Bloggers

Durga Pujo --- at The Shadowy Waters
Durga Pujo '06 -- at The Recurring Decimals
Ma Durga...Ashche Bochor abar Esho -- Bong working Mom
Amader Pujo -- Eves Lungs aka Mallika

(This post is shared with Desi Momz Club where the Theme for October is Traditions )

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Durga Pujo Isspecial

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Durga Puja at Bharat Sevashram, NJ, 2005

Aaj Shosthi, the Sixth Day of Navratri and the first Day of Durga Pujo.

As I pulled the car out of the driveway, I rolled down the windows and sniffed the air. It was crisp, clean and yet I could faintly smell the shiuli, the tiny white flowers with their deep yellow stalks which carpeted the back garden at my grandma’s house. This was the season they bloomed in abundance, pristine white, heady fragrance offering them for the Pujo.

It was still dark and I listened intently. It was quiet except for the cars whooshing past, and I strained my ear to catch the faint sound of the drum, maybe the dhaaki would be playing a playful practice beat at this time of the day.

As the day dawned, the sky was overcast but the forecast predicted a clear blue with cotton clouds hanging around, just like Sharat er Akaash (autumn sky) and my heart skipped a beat. For a fleeting moment I thought of the crowds at the Puja Pandal back home, the Priest announcing the Anjali* over the microphone, the jostling for the flowers for Anjali, waiting in queue for the prashad and Durga Thakur’s face smiling down benevolently at me.

But strangely I didn’t feel a tug at my heart as I used to in my initial years away from home. Even in the absence of these, I could feel the rush in my heart because it was the first day of Durga Pujo. Maybe because more than anything Puja for me has meant being home with the family and this year I have family here, ok half the family.

Durga Pujo always meant going back to my Baba’s home town in Bihar, to the address I had to write as “Permanent Address” in all my school forms. It meant days of waiting for the Puja Holidays to begin, of buying clothes and sarees for the family, of My Baba’s very happy face and my Ma’s not so happy one(she would be away from her folks). The essence of Pujo would begin with Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s voice on Mahalaya at 4 AM over the air waves. The excitement would mount until a day before Shoshthi when we would pile up two rickshaws with suitcases and head for the Station, to board the Tinsukhia** at an ungodly hour.

The five days of Pujo would pass with two trips to the Thakur Bari every morning and evening.

The tempo which was subdued at Shoshthi would gather a momentum by Ashtami the “Eighth Day of Navratri” and the most important Day of Durga Pujo. The Mandap would be charged with frenzied beats of the Dhak, Durga Thakur’s face would be glowing with Garjon Tel, her dark beautiful eyes would take a life of their own, the crowds would be at their peak and you felt a part of a huge celebration. Above the chanting of “Ya devi Sarvabhooteshu ”*** you could hear the announcer yelling “Guddu ki ma, aap jahan kahi hain, …” and you put in a prayer for the unknown little boy who was missing his mother.

It was heady, invigorating and you did not have to a believer to be with the crowd.

And then came Dashami and you felt a deluge of sadness. As my Ma and my Aunts bade farewell to Durga, by offering her sweets and sindoor, I felt a pain. There was this immense sadness of a dear one leaving for a far off land. A sadness which could only be healed with the prospect of the sweets & savories earmarked for Bijoya Dashami.

Thus ended Pujo, but the effect lingered as we went around visiting relatives for Bijoya and sampling Nimki, Narkel Naru and ghugni at the umpteenth house. By the time we were tired of the detoriating conditions of the Ghugni and the increasing hardness of the Narkel narus, it was Lakshmi Pujo and then time to go back home, to routine, to books, to exams.

More than any mythology associated with Durga Pujo, I loved the folk lore which talks about Durga visiting her Mother’s home, the Earth, with her 4 children for a 5 day vacation every year. She felt like my Mother who too went back to her parents home once a year. I look forward to welcoming the daughter back to her Mother’s home every year in autumn and pamper her before bidding her a tearful farewell on dashami, when she goes back to her husband.

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Though Pujo here is not same as back home, I am still excited about going to Pujo tomorrow, to take out my silks and to see Ma Durga who is more like family who visits once a year than any Goddess. I shall offer my Anjali in the evening and reuse my flowers which I shall not throw at the Goddess' feet, see Sondhi Pujo on Friday evening and wait for the 108 lamps to be lit albeit by electricity, wait for the Arati and seek blessings from those flames for myself, my daughter, my family, have Bhog on Styrofoam plates balanced on my knees, catch up with friends and overhear elderly Bengali ladies displaying their expensive saree and jewellery subtly.

Amidst the crowds and the haze of the incense, I will look up to Durga’s face and see her still smiling kindly and I shall hope that smile gives my daughter belief in her own strength and reassure her as it always did for me, that “all is well with the world and goodness still wins over evil” . That for me is Durga Pujo.

Anjali* -- Offering of flowers to the deity
Tinsukhia** -- A train running from Delhi to Guwahati
Ya Devi Shorbobhooteshu*** -- Start of a
sloka in praise of Goddess Durga
dhaaki -- The drum players, who came from the many smaller villages to the city to play the dhak, the drum, for the Puja.

Update: This goes to Jihva Special Edition: JFS Dassera at Past, Present & Me. Thanks Vee & Lakshmi for reminding.

If you have special Durga Pujo Memories please leave a comment with your Durga Pujo Isspecial. Would love to hear from you and have a virtual Adda.
(To be Continued if time permits...)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bhapa Sandesh and A Year...

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Yes, this blog is ONE. Bong Mom has now been officially around for a Year with her Cook Book and the 3 year old (not the blog, the daughter) now turning almost 4.
It has been an eventful year if you consider all the events I have sent my posts to.

The journey has been memorable and so Thank You.

All joyous occasions in India is celebrated with something sweet and so here is “Bhapa Sandesh” or Steamed Sandesh for all of you on the Blog turning One.Kuch Meetha to Hona Hi tha...

And the Surprise...

Drumrolls, Trumpets, bugles and the works....

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My Mommy’s blog is One in spite of my “Know all” Dad’s predictions that it would die a sure death in 3 months time like my Mommmy’s numerous other hobbies. My Mommy Did it, she Did it, she Did it, yeehhhhhhh. And this is my art work for her.

I love how she keeps typing and editing pictures on the computer and keeps telling me it is office work. I feel so happy that she is sometimes so busy with her blog, she even forgets to serve me dinner and my “Know all” Dad lets me have Chicken Nuggets, how fun is that.

Thank You Mommy and I am telling you I am not going to cook all that stuff up there in your blog, so don’t con yourself that you are doing this for me. But if it makes you happy and you want to prove my “Know All” Dad wrong again…go ahead…have fun for one more year

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The Bhapa Sandesh recipe is a trial and error recipe. I tried it the very first time in my life with all new fangled stuff like Ricotta (not traditional Paneer) and then the Oven(not the Pressure Cooker) and what not. The result was very delicious. The procedure I followed made it very easy too. I frame worked my recipe on these two -- here and here

I added Mango Pulp to add Mango flavor to the Sandesh however the amount I added did not do anything except to introduce a faint flavor. I would suggest using Mango essence or Rose essence instead. Also layering the sandesh with fresh Mangoes or more of the Mango Pulp might have helped. Next time maybe.

If you do not want to use the oven you can also do it in the Pressure Cooker as mentioned here

Bhapa Sandesh

What you Need

The recipe I was following said Ricotta, Condensed Milk and Milk Powder in 4:1:1 ratio. However since I had added Mango Pulp I had to increase the amount of C. Milk and Milk Powder a little

Ricotta Cheese ~ Whole Milk Ricotta about 2 cups
Condensed Milk ~ ½ cup. I later added about 1/6 cup more to increase the sweetness a little after adding Mango Pulp
Milk Powder ~ ½ cup + 1/6 cup later after adding mango pulp. I bought Milk Powder/Mava from Indian store

Mango Pulp ~ I used about 1/3 cup. However this did not add much of a mango flavor to the sandesh

Golden raisins ~ to decorate

How I did It

Mix Ricotta, C. Milk and Milk Powder in a bowl to a smooth consistency. I added Mango Pulp to it too. Instead you can add some essence like Rose, Mango etc.

Next I Greased an oven proof bowl with about 1/4th tsp of ghee and poured the mixture in it. While pouring the mixture I topped the first layer with little mango pulp and then covered it with second layer of the Mix. If you have fresh ripe mangoes, cut it in thin layers and use for layering. Cover the bowl with an aluminum foil, cover else it will get dry.

Pre-heat Oven to 400F

In the bottom rack of the oven I kept a oven proof dish filled with almost 2 -3 cups of water

In the top tray put in the bowl with Mix and let it cook for 40-45 minutes.

At the end of 40 minutes take it out to check if it has set. Run a knife to chcek. It might take a little more time, I usually switch off the oven and let it sit in the oven for 10 more minutes.. If yes, put it to cool in the fridge.

Cut out in squares when it has cooled and garnish with raisins. Serve chilled

* The sandesh in the pic is served on a plate made of Sal leaves which my Baba sent from Kolkata for the blog. This is the the kind of plates that is used or was used in bengali wedding etc. along with earthen glasses. They have an aroma that reminds you of the trees in the forest after a fresh rain. The fact that they are bio-degradable helps.

Come on bring on the presents :D

Friday, October 05, 2007

MySpice -- Kalonji

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Kalonji in my glass spice bottles, jet black, like the hair I always wanted before the era of streaks and highlights.

Kalonji in my hand, tiny, coarse to the touch, crowding and jostling, waiting to flavor my food.

Kalonji in hot oil, tempering, dancing around merrily, haunting me with the aromatic flavor, I cannot put a word to. I see it described as acrid, smoky....but I am not sure.

Kalonji... Kalo Jeera... Nigella Seeds...a part of my cuisine

Nigella seeds are small, matte-black grains with a rough surface and an oily white interior. They are seeds of a plant Nigella Sativa, of the buttercup family and are often confused with Onion seeds. Nigella probably originated in western Asia but today is cultivated from Egypt to India.

Cultivation of these black seeds has been traced back more than 3,000 years to the kingdom of the Assyrians and ancient Egyptians. A bottle of black cumin oil was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, perhaps to protect the ruler in the afterlife.

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Known as Kalonji in Hindi and Kalo jeera in Bengali, Nigella is used in India and the Middle East as a spice and condiment and occasionally in Europe as both a pepper substitute and a spice. It is widely used in Indian cuisines for its smoky, pungent aroma.

In Bengali cuisine it is almost as popular as Paanch Phoron and used for tempering, vegetable dishes, Dals, fish curries and some chutneys. It is one of the five ingredients of Paanch Phoron. It is also added to the dough while making Nimki a savoury fried dough. The flavor within the seed is enhances after it is baked, toasted or fried in a small amount of oil or juices of foods.

The seeds are always used whole, never as a powder and very rarely as a part of a paste

Nigella is used in Indian medicine as a carminative and stimulant and is used against indigestion and bowel complaints. In India it is used to induce post-natal uterine contraction and promote lactation. The seed yields a volatile oil containing melanthin, nigilline, damascene and tannin. Melanthin is toxic in large dosages and Niugelline is paralytic, so this spice must be used in moderation.( Source: here)
In Islam, it is regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available. Muhammad once stated that the black seed can heal every disease – except death.
Black cumin and its oil have also been used to purge parasites and worms, detoxify.

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A very simple recipe with Nigella seeds is the Alu-Charchari, a quick stir fry of potatoes.

Some of the recipes I have blogged where Kalonji is used for tempering are:

Piyajkolir Tarkari

Fish Curry on a Winter Noon

Musuri'r Dal with Kalonji

Shorshe Dharosh or Okra in Mustard Sauce


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Check out other spices in this series in the left hand column

Trivia: The many uses of nigella has earned for this ancient herb the Arabic approbation 'Habbatul barakah' meaning the seed of blessing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kanchakala'r Khosa Bata

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Here is my entry for JFI-Banana for Mandira -- Kanchakalar Khosha Bata or Paste of Plantain Peels. Can I say Plantain Peel Pâté, to make it sound French ?

Long back when Mandira announced plantains for JFI, I very generously offered to bring Mocha to the party. Not Mocha from Starbucks, that would have been easy, M-O-CH(as in chair)-A the Bengali name for banana flower which is used to make a delicious dish with grated coconut known as Mochar Ghonto. I knew not, so pardon me O Food Blogging Lord. It is no easy task to make Mocha, you need enough time and patience both of which I lack so there went Mocha out…

Next seeing that two overripe bananas in my fruit bowl were dying a slow death, I thought I would make Kalar Bora or Banana Friiters, another Bengali dish where ripe banana is mashed and deep fried in batter. But as I waited, the skins of the bananas shriveled, flies started buzzing around them, my home was on the verge of failing a sanitary inspection test and then D chucked out those two lone bananas and so there went Kalar Bora out…

And then a friend had a baby, another one had a baby shower, little S had soccer and friend’s birthday parties, the husband had travel, the Ma-in-law had an aching knee, the boss had deliverables, the class had assignments and I had No Time…

So yesterday when I was gloomily chopping up a kancha kola aka green plantain, for shukto and was on the verge of throwing out the plantain peels my Ma-in-law said…”Waiiiiiiiit” !!!

Now she does not know about my blog or JFI, but being the Quintessential “Bangal” she knows what to do with vegetable peels all right. "Bangals" as I had explained earlier is the colloquial term for people from East Bengal now a separate country called Bangladesh. "Ghoti" is the local term for people from West Bengal. These terms are mostly used in jocular fashion and indicates the ancestral roots of a family as to whether it went back to East Bengal or West Bengal.

There is a subtle difference between the two cuisines and while the “Bangals” know to put vegetable peels to good use the “Ghotis” know how to apply those to their faces, still better use.

So me being the “Ghoti”, stared blankly at those greenish, and now turning black plantain peels and racked my brains to think what good could come of such…ahem disgusting looking stuff.

When my Ma-in-law said that to make a paste out of it with Garlic, Kalonji and green chilies I thought maybe her knee pain had travelled further up North and maybe she has lost it… But then I complied without retorts just because I thought this was my last chance to send some plantains for JFI, even if only the peel.

The smooth paste was made and then sautéed in mustard oil, till the raw smell left, the paste dried up and the “ugly duckling” turned to a beautiful tasting pate. It tasted real good but still did not look enticing when clicked. So the hubby came in and suggested to make a round with rice because the only way that this paste could be eaten and appreciated was with rice.

So here is the joint effort from our family for Mandira….KanchaKalar Khosha Bata or Paste of Plantain Peel

Make a paste of Peel from one Green Plantain with half a tea spoon of Nigella Seeds/Kalonji, one fat clove of Garlic and 4-5 hot Indian Green Chillies.
Add little water to make the smooth paste. Real smooth, ok ?
Next heat mustard oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan and sauté the paste at medium heat with little salt, till the raw smell leaves, the paste is dry yet moist and tastes great.

I wanted to add some fresh grated coconut to it, to make it look better but my Ma-in-law said that is not how it is done. Maybe one of you cocnut lovers can try that.

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Mandira is a special blogger and I am at last at peace that I could send something to rush...rush

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Uppittu for Bangalore

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For Bangalore…
For the Bangali Mashima in Malleshwaram who would drag me along to get Fish from Yeshwantpura
For the Coorgi Aunty in Indiranagar who fed me delectable chicken biryani
For the cafeteria workers who very kindly served me sugar with my curd after laughing at my request for the first few days
For the same cafeteria, where I had delicious breakfasts of Uppittu and idli, if I managed to reach early enough.
For the 3’o clock tea time with madur vadas that helped me stay awake
For the house in Koramangala, where I first set up home after marriage and munched on idlis while sipping tea and perusing the Page 3 of Bangalore Times
For the Darshini right beside home in Koramangala, which provided steaming idlis and chutney wrapped in banana leaf for Saturday morning breakfasts
For Taj West End where D gave me the first ever decent birthday treat and where I in my search for exotic yet low priced appetizers had a dish which turned out to be tiny sabudana wafers with a crab dipping.
For Koshy’s where I loved eating appams and everything else
For Queens where we waited patiently for the warm, soft phulkas and baingan bharta
For Ebony where we had Balti cuisine at a height
For the Corner Café and its ice cream
For Lakeview on MG Road and more ice cream
For Karavalli where the ambience was splendid and the rasam hot
For Nagarjuna Savoy and its tomato soup followed by the tastiest Hyderabadi biryani
For MTR near Lalbagh and the Upma with huge dollops of ghee
For KC Dass and my Sunday fixes of Bangali Shingara and Kachuri
For Krishna Chinnai, a small place in Koramangala, a very spicy biryani and a minimal price
For Casa Picola and my first and best Pasta
For Sukhsagar and tiny orange Gobi Manchurians
For the Auntie across the street who fed us idlis and chutney on the morning we packed and left…
For Bangalore…

Uppittu Recipe from here. Sending to Asha for RCI-Karnatka, an event created by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine and hosted by Asha of FoodiesHope

I know Karnataka is much more beyond B'lore but this is just reliving my memories of my happy days there. This list is from many moons ago and things and menu might have changed, so swalpa adjust maadi

Trivia: I heard about a band called AutoRickshaw with roots in South India who fuse Indian rhythms with North American pop. I heard the feature on PRI. I loved the music and thought of sharing with you all. Click to visit the "Global Hit" Page here and download the mp3

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vacation, Food and a Thanks

Life was going to get pretty hectic from September so a relaxed vacation in the State of Blueberries, Lobsters and the beautiful Acadia National Park was thought as the perfect rejuvenator. It however was so intoxicating that it left us longing for more. Does this happen to you? You go on a vacation thinking of coming back all refreshed instead you are left pining for more

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The trip re-instilled my faith in my little daughter, she is now a confirmed foodie. I had my doubts when she used to pick on her lunches at school or when I had to run around her making she sure she drinks her milk. However in this trip I saw her face light up on the mere mention of food when she visibly was not getting any enjoyment while we waited for hours perched on an overlook waiting for the sun to set.
It is another thing that in that hour she made me go to & fro between the car and where her dad was sitting numerous times but discussing the menu helped.
However I must also give it to her that she very eagerly complied when we couldn’t make up our mind on where to eat and what to eat and switched ever so often.

Bar Harbor, Maine has a quaint but very thriving downtown and a wide choice of restaurants. A stroll along its streets every evening was a pleasure in itself. There are many fun places to eat at.
No Indian place though, any takers? The Asian places are not good either, The Thai place "Nakrom Thai" was dilapidated, we just packed Satay & white Rice for S who was pining for some and fled. The only Chinese place wasn’t much to talk about either.

Some of the good restaurants that we thoroughly enjoyed were,

Jeannie’s – For Breakfast. Open only till 1:00PM in the noon, this cheerful, bright place serves only breakfast. The sunny interiors surely brightens ones day. Breakfast choices are typical Omlettes, Toast, Sausages, French Toast, Pancakes the works. I tried a spicy salsa omlette, definitely not spicy but hearty altogether.
Toasts are served with their home made rhubarb jam.

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Morning Star Bakery – A small quaint bakery in one of the by lanes. Very Hippy style. Loved the Lemon Tart with fresh blueberries though never found it again on day two or three. They bake their own bread and the bread is good. They also offer boxed lunches which are a good option if you want to have a quiet lunch on top of the Cadillac Mountain or any of the picnic areas in Acadia. I liked the Curried Chicken sandwich and also a certain cilantro cheese spread. The scones were a bit dry though

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Maggie’s Classic Scales – Excellent place for dinner. The food was so good that I do not have a pic to vouch for. I had Lobster crepes smothered in some French wine sauce. It was phenomenal. D had a salmon paired with basmati and he loved it. The atmosphere was very good too, very homely and full of life.

Rupununi – I fell in love with the name, the name of ariver that runs through British Guyana in South America. Again the outside sitting was very pleasant on a summer evening. I had Lobster sautéed in parsley & Butter. I didn’t want to hammer out my Lobster so I chose the Lazyman’s Lobster where they shell it and serve. It was pretty good.

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We also went to some more places, a Mexican one and another Fish Place but they were ok. The Mexican one was good enough and served very good Mojito which I couldn’t even finish, so I asked if I could take it back to the hotel. Of course they didn’t allow :D but I loved their mango salsa and the creamy mango sauce.

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These gorgeous beauties arrived yesterday evening. That they were delicious is to say the least, they were so very good that the whole family was floored. Thank You for the sweet treats !!! It was very touching to get these even though I couldn't be a part of the friendship bread chain, and should have actually got some mustard reeking bombs:D

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Easy Breezy Dessert

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Back from vacation but more about it later, first let me get the dessert out of the system

This was a dessert I learned early on after coming to this country. Those days my unending quest of befriending Bong people had got me a few friends (remember this) and a larger number of acquaintances. Now as is the custom among Bong people staying in far away land, a meeting as in getting together is synonymous with eating and that too in good measures. There was so much good eating and too many acquaintances that my very shallow foodie hubby would even weed out acquaintances based on their culinary skills.

So after months of eating excellent meals at several homes, I realized it was time that I did my part before people started gossiping about “How a you-know-who girl never invited us back and blah, blah, blah…”

I did not have very many culinary skills at that point and even fewer cookware so cooking a meal for about 18-20 odd people was a challenge. In fact even now with more cookware and somewhat better skills, cooking for that many people still plays havoc on my nerves. I always look around for good recipes that can be made in large quantity with ease and not too much preparation.

This is when I came across this easy breezy Fruity Mango Dessert recipe, posted by some Bengali on a Bengali website. It is quick, easy and definitely delicious (considering all the yummy things that go into it). Many thanks to the first person who created it and also to the person, whose name I don't remeber, who posted it.
I have made this several times and have moved the ingredients around. Here I will give my version and also specify the original recipe.


Mango Dessert

What You Need

Serves about 16-18 people if paired with ice cream or cake

Mango Pulp (available in Indian Grocery stores) ~ 1 can
Plain Yogurt ~ 12 oz (Recipe said 32oz)
Sour cream ~ 8 oz (Recipe said 16 oz)
Fruit Cocktail Can ~ drain the syrup and get the fruits from a can or use fresh cut bite size pieces of fruit
Raisins & Nuts ~ for garnish (optional)
Condensed Milk ~ 3/4th of a 14 oz can (Recipe used sugar)

How I Did It

In a blender whip together mango pulp, sour cream and yogurt to a smooth consistency.
Add condensed milk and whip again.
Drain all the juices from the fruit cocktail and add to the whipped dessert
Garnish with raisins and nuts.
Put it in the refrigerator to cool. Serve chilled.

Serving Suggestion

Though it tastes absolutely great if had on its own, I often serve it with Plain Vanilla ice cream if it is summer. Else I also serve with some home baked cake as seen in the pic.

Today is my 3 and ½ year old daughter's first day at Pre-K, it is not official school yet, it is still a pre-school. But I find it an important date in my calendar, as it is the start of a new class with new teacher and new faces for her. Thanks to her PreSchool-1 teachers, Miss A and another Miss A. We will miss you. But we also look forward to the new beginnings, the slightly more responsibility, more independence in the new class and of course loads of fun.

************ offers professional catering courses that can teach you how to cook in big batches and still maintain the quality of food.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Brown Rice Khichuri for JFI

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It was a Friday.

Friday the 13th, no not the 13th actually the 10th, Friday the 10th

The rains were lashing the mountains, the wind howled around the cliffs, the ominous dark clouds hung around low, a precursor of the unknown future.

As the evening drew closer, mists rose from the sea and engulfed the land. Across the sea sounded a shrill whistle and then…


...Nothing happened except for Brown Rice Khichdi in my pressure cooker.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Khichdi man of the house aka D was in charge of the kitchen.

So when he said he wanted to make “Khichuri”(there is a recipe of khichuri down in that post) I thought why not, could send this on to JFI. To add a twist to the tale, I asked him to use brown rice and of course he flatly refused, declaring that Brown Rice does not a Khichuri make and some such fundae.

After much cajoling I asked him to browse the blogs for inspiration.

Some amount of time pass and Googling later, he finally declared he DID have a brown rice khichdi recipe, blogged by some Punju Scientist girl. Of course I knew it was none other than our dear Musical and her Khichdi.

So brown rice Mothaan di Khichdi was transformed to the Bengali Khichuri with Brown rice and also loads of other veggies like cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes and what not. D followed Musicals' recipe (he says) but used green Moong and Red Masoor instead of Moth, he added veggies which is usually added to a bengali style khichuri, also he tempered it the bengali way. It was delicious to say the least.

There was no recipe though as Bong, non-scientist, guys do not note down measures while making Khichuri, such things are the domain of only Punju scientist girls

Next time he makes it, I will surely try to scribble and update this post for my own good.

This is my contribution for JFI-Rice hosted by my dear friend Sharmi of Neivedyam and of course created by Indira of Mahanadi

And now again Ta da...the Awards that have been raining like Poori-Bhaji in the blogosphere

Two of my dearest friends, Indosungod of Daily Musings and Sia of Spice Corner has sent two lovely awards my way. Thanks to both of you, you are the greatest. Thanks to Bharathy , I just saw she passed on one too. There is a downpour now it seems.

I would really like to pass this on to everyone who takes time to visit my blog, leave their comments, encourage me, discourage me and make me feel so much at home. But then most of you have already been awarded this for the wonderful bloggers that you are.

The Thoughtful Blogger Award is for “those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others’ feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping other bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.”

I would like to pass this on to (names are in a random order)

Sups of Spice Corner
Shn of KitchenMishmash
Coffee of The Spice Cafe
Sra of When my Soup Came Alive
Trupti of The Spice Who Loved Me
Mallika of Quick Indian Cooking
Prema of PremasCookBook
Sharmi of Neivedyam
Pilgrim of The Shadowy Waters
Sunita of Sunita's World
Sig of LiveToEat

I would like to pass on this to these awesome bloggers who left behind a friendly trail but have been busy lately. This is a gentle nudge for them

Shilpa of Flog&Rosbif
Hema of VegConcoctions
Maheshwari of Beyond The Usual
Chandrika of Akshyapatra
Shivapriya of MyCookBook
Lera of Myriad Tastes

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Now an award for bloggers who inspire, who make you cook when you don't want to, who force your hubbies to cook weird stuff, the Motivational Blogger award for Coffee and Musical (on the aside, I am doing this under duress). I would also pass this on to Jugalbandi because they really inspired me to blow up an egg in the MW today, I am doing it for sure.

Update: While I am online searching for good lobster places up North before I have even started the journey,and what do I do, but check Blogs.And so I see one more award comes my way from lovely Mandira whose blog was one of the few that inspired me into blogging last year.
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Thanks Mandira and yes I do Think a lot, as in "Think what I am going to eat next"
I pass this on to bloggers who I think, think too if not about what they will eat but what others will eat

Asha of Foodies Hope
IndoSungod of Daily Musings
Nandita of SaffronTrail
Indira of Mahanadi
Roopa of My ChowChow Bhath

Since these awards are only for bloggers alone I am not able to pass them on to many non-blogger readers of my blog, whose comments really encourage me, it makes me happy if I have touched their lives in some way and I would really like to say a warm Thank You. I am no great cook, but I find happiness in food and through my blog I try to present a snippet of a life, memories, hopes intermingled with cooking. I want my daughter to have a childhood embroidered with smell of home cooked food so that she can have memories like this when she is alone out there in the world. And so I Thank all of you who take precious time to come and visit and let me continue weaving memories fragrant with the smell of food.

This is for all of you who cook and find joy in it (don't kiss me, kiss all cooks ;-))

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Going away up North for a few days, see you once I am back with a easy breezy recipe for a dessert, and no it's not a custard

Trivia: Macrobiotics, meaning literally "big life," is a spiritual, nutritional, and therapeutic system that focuses on the interrelationship of mind, body, spirit, and society. Whole foods, such as brown rice, are central to a macrobiotic diet, and many of the first customers and owners of the alternative food stores were students of macrobiotics. Macrobiotic principles are Pan-Asian in origin, dating back several centuries