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

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Party with Luchi-Alu Charchari

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Luchi-AlurDom pic from my previous post

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Luchi-Alu Charchari from today

I never thought I will make Luchi again and that too in such rapid succession. But with all the deep-frying going on in Blogosphere I was really very hungry. Still, I restrained myself until Coffee came and commented (on my last post) that she thought the Puri I was talking about was Poori.

What Blasphemy!!!

Here I was being all devotional and reminiscing Jagannatha Puri and here comes this Gujju girl and mixes up not only Lord Jagannatha but a big chunk of geographical land called Puri for a flat deep fried 4 inch diameter bread called Poori

This got on my nerves and I thought I better join the gang and chant “Jai Poori-Bhaji” than chant “Jai Jagannatha” before I am relegated to the dungeons or to Blog Hell or something like that

The fact that a 3 year old would be thrilled by my decision helped.

So I made Luchi again, this time with Alu Charchari.

Here's my Luchi-Alu Charchari joining the Independence Day party at Anita’s.

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Luchi with Maple Syrup for little S

Though the Luchi with Alu-Charchari was absolutely yum and the 3 year old had hers with some Maple Syrup too (instead of khejur gur ?), I tell you I am not going to do this again in the near future (which means next month and hope D doesn't read this). Not because it’s going to clog my arteries (What Rubbish!!!) nor for the deep frying smell (which I love) but simply because it’s too much work for me. Really it is.

There is no limit to the number of Luchis I make, they simply disappear as soon as I take them out of the oil. So I go on making them endlessly all the time eyeing them hungrily hoping to get this task over and hog on them, this wait totally stresses me out.
Also the Luchi dough has a considerable amount of shortening so rolling out the luchi is not a very easy thing for me. Next, rolling out the luchi and then frying them at the same time calls for a certain amount of finesse which I woefully lack. So I roll some and then heat the oil and due to my lack of patience half of my luchis don’t puff up well.

Though I am all in favor of making Poori/Luchi the national and even international dish, by if not making it every week at least by voting for it million times.

Here is some Luchi Guide I have come up with which might help the future generation.

Luchi should always be a joint venture. Get someone to fry while you roll or vice versa. Else try to achieve the pinnacle of luchi making and do it all by yourself

For 3 cups of flour 3 tbsp of oil is suggested as mayan or shortening. 2 tbsp works fine though. However if the mayan or shortening is very less the luchi is not soft as it is supposed to be.

The Luchi dough needs to be worked well, this is called “thasha” in Bengali. You need to knead the dough for sometime till you get the smooth end result. The best time to knead the dough is when you are very very angry, kneading vents your anger, therapeutic I tell you.

After making the dough, cover with a lightly dampened cloth or kitchen tissue and let it sit. After half an hour or so proceed to make the balls. (If I refrigerate the dough, after taking out from the refrigerator I just knead it once more with a light sprinkle of flour) Rolling out luchis now is easier.

Use oil and NOT flour to roll out luchis.

The heat of the oil is very essential in the luchi puffing up. Dip a corner of the rolled out dough in the oil, if you see a major bubbly reaction, you know the oil is ready for the luchi

Don't forget to press the luchi with the back of your slotted spatula/chalni. It helps in the luchi puffing up

Eat it hot, don't ever have a cold luchi. Ok you can, when it is part of Pujor Bhog or leftover from your friend's wedding party or leftover from any party if you are a grad student.

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The Alu-Charchari is the quickest, tastiest aloo ever, it is very very simple.
All you have to do is this,

Heat the Oil. You can use Olive Oil since there's not much frying but since I was sending this to Anita's I didn't,
Temper with Kalonji/Nigella Seeds and freshly grated ginger.
Add potatoes and sauté, You are not going to fry the potatoes so sprinkle a little water as necessary and cover and cook. Remember to stir in between
Add the green chillies when you are half way and continue, cover, stir, cook routine till potatoes are done.
When done add salt and pepper powder

Friday, August 17, 2007

Doi Ilish and Machha Besara

Doi Ilish, Hilsa in Yogurt Mustard sauce

Ek Phul…Do MaliOne Spice, two Different Fish….bad joke, agreed

But this is really a tale of One Spice, the all famous Mustard and not only two different fish but two very different fish recipes, one from my own state Bengal and the other from the neighboring state Orissa.

Orissa is close to Bengal, not only in miles but also to people’s heart, the main reason being Puri of course, which is not only a place but an integral part of the Bengali culture. Every Bengali director has a tear jerking Bengali movie to his credit, with visuals shot in Puri, every Bengali Writer has characters in their work of fiction who go and visit Puri at least once in the span of the entire book, every newly married Bengali couple had their honeymoon in Puri before Mauritius came into picture. A Maestro like Satyajit Ray too had many of his short stories set in Puri which surely proves something.

I have been to Orissa once (not honeymooning though) and done the usual touristy stuff but to an average Bengali, Puri in Orissa is as close to heart as is Darjeeling. Maybe Puri holds a higher place because it not only has the sea(Bay of Bengal) but also a temple (Jaganatha temple) and who can avoid such a divine combination

In fact you are a true blue Bengali only if you have done the following:

1.You have to love fish. There might be phases in your life where you refused to eat them but you must be in love with your fish for 90% of your lifetime
2. You have to see the sunrise at Tiger Hill, Darjeeling clad in your mittens, scarves, all other woolens that you have accumulated in your life time not forgetting the Monkey Cap with pom-pom (a typical woolen cap that covers your head and face leaving a window for your eyes alone, have seen it only among Bengalis till date)
3. You have to see the sunrise at Puri Beach sans the woolens, finding your place in a beach teeming with million other true Bengalis in their Dhonekhali and Kurta-Pajama
Though I love fish, I absolutely refused to see the sunrise at any of these places. Vacation for me does not mean getting up in the crack of dawn to see a star rise because a planet is rotating. I was duly chastised for my impudent behavior I remember and my parents were forced to go to the beach without me budging an inch.

Though it has been really long and I don’t remember any specific food from that time, I do remember the Mishti Wala (the sweet seller) who would come to the Puri beach with a pole balanced on his shoulder and two huge aluminium pans hanging on the two ends. These aluminium dekchis(deep round pans) had sweets which we used to gorge on every evening sitting on the beach. Again I cannot recall what those sweets were (chanapoda ?) but I remember him going “Dhai Kiri Kiri” as he rushed catering delicious sweets to his sweet loving customers.

I think “Dhai Kiri Kiri” meant “move fast” or some such thing, but it has been a favorite adopted term in our house since and we use the term often.

While looking for an Oriya recipe I found that there is a lot of similarity between Bengali and Oriya cuisines. I wanted to try an Oriya dish which is not typical of Bengali cuisine yet had a bond with it. So I had to choose something which guessed it right...Mustard.

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Now the first recipe of Doi Ilish today is the Bengali one with Hilsa in a Yogurt based Mustard Sauce. Hilsa or Ilish Mach is such a great tasting fish that cook it any way you want it will taste nothing but great. I got this recipe from my Bengali Recipe book. I added more mustard paste than the recipe called for but I am putting up the recipes as in the book. Also since I get frozen Hilsa here I fried the fish lightly. The original recipe does not ask for fish to be fried.

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And then I came across Machha Besara, an Oriya dish of fish in mustard sauce. What interested me was the recipe had asked for mustard to be ground with garlic and green chillies to make a paste. Now in a Bengali recipe, mustard paste or shorshe bata is a wet paste of mustard with green chillies and no one can even imagine adding garlic to the paste.
Second was the use of potatoes in a mustard paste based fish dish, another thing very different from a Bengali Recipe.
I decided to give it a try and was pleasantly thrilled and even D (not a fishy bong) liked it. I used Tilapia (fresh Tilapia cut in steak size pieces) for this dish and I would implore all Bengalis to try Machha Besaara at least once, it would be a very different albeit beautiful mustard experience.

Machha Besara is my contribution to RCI-Oriya hosted by Swapna of Swad and created by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine


What You Need
Hilsa/Ilish ~ 2 lb of fish cut in Bengali style pieces. (Yes this what you need to say outside of bengal else you can also get it cut in steak pieces) Usually a small Hilsa weighs around 2 lbs.

This recipe is for 5 pieces of Hilsa or Ilish

Mustard paste

To make Mustard Paste soak 2 Tbsp of mustard seeds in water for an hour.
In a wet spice grinder or Magic bullet, strain and add the mustard seeds + 2 Green Chilies
With a few splashes of water make a thick mustard paste.

Thick Yogurt ~ 1/2 Cup

Green Chillies ~ 4 or more
Kalo Jeera/Kalonji/Nigella Seeds(for tempering) ~ 1/4 tsp loosely packed

Turmeric powder ~ 1 tsp
Mustard Oil ~ preferred for a fish like Hilsa

How It is Done

Wash the fish well, pat dry and rub the pieces with about ½ tsp of turmeric powder a little salt and keep aside

Heat oil in a Kadhai/Deep Frying Pan/Wok. When the oil is piping hot reduce the heat and slowly slide the fish pieces into the oil. There is going to be a lot of sputtering so be careful. The fish pieces should not be on top of each other, they should remain side by side in the hot oil. So do not add all fish at the same time. Once you have slid the fishes, raise the heat

Once the fish is fried to a light golden yellow (with hilsa very little frying is needed, be careful that the fish does not get fried too much) take it out and drain on a paper towel

In a bowl beat the yogurt well and then mix in the mustard paste. Add 1/2 tsp of Turmeric powder and mix.

Discard the fishy oil if you wish and heat some fresh oil. With hilsa however the mustard oil in which the fish is fried holds a special value for most Bengalis and we dare not throw it out.

Heat oil now, for tempering. Temper with kalonji and green chilies and wait for the spices to pop.

Lower the heat and the yogurt-mustard sauce.

Add salt and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. 
Add the fish pieces.

Then add water(about 1 cup) and let the gravy simmer and reduce to desired consistency

Cook till you get a gravy of the right thickness, not watery mind you, add a little mustard oil on top and serve with white rice

Machha Besara

Recipe adapted from OriyaKitchen

What You Need

Rohu (or other fresh water fish) ~ 1 cut into pieces. I used fresh Tilapia cut into steak size peices
Potato ~ 1 , peeled and chopped in longitudinal pieces
Yogurt/Curd ~ 1/2 cup
Green chilies ~ 5/6 slit
Mustard-Garlic paste ~ Soak 2 tbsp of mustard in water for 15 mins. Then make a paste with juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 green chilies and 2 cloves of garlic.
Turmeric Powder ~ 1 tsp loosely packed

Panch Phutana/Panch Phoron ~ ¾ tsp loosely packed
Mustard Oil or any other oil

How It Is Done


Wash the fish well, pat dry and mix it with about ½ tsp of turmeric powder a little salt and keep aside
Grind the mustard ,3 green chilies & garlic along with the yogurt to make a mustard paste
Then peel the potato & cut in to any shape you like . I chopped in longitudinal pieces


Heat Mustard oil in a Kadhai. When the oil is piping hot reduce the heat and slowly slide the fish pieces into the oil. There is going to be a lot of sputtering so be careful. The fish pieces should not be on top of the other, they should remain side by side in the hot oil. So do not add all fish at the same time. Once you have slid the fishes, raise the heat
Once the fish is fried to a golden yellow take it out and drain on a paper towel
Again add some more oil in the heated pan & add pancha phutan & green chilies.
When it starts crackling add the sliced potato & fry for 2 mins
Add the mustard paste, turmeric and salt. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of water for the gravy and let it simmer. Add little sugar to taste.
Add fried fish in to the curry & again cook it for 2 more mins
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves
Serve hot with plain rice

Trivia: The Hilsa or Ilish as we call it is kind of a National fish for Bengal & Bengalis (can there be such a thing ?).The river Padma in Bangladesh and the Ganges in India are the prime source of this fish. Every part of the Hilsa from the Roe to the delicate flesh is exquisite in taste and flavor. With its fine bones it might be a tad difficult to eat for someone who is not used to such delicacies though

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On Independence Day

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Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free

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Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth

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Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

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Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
--Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.

-- Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

Update: Photos taken by me at the beach at Spring Lake, NJ. My camera Canon SD750 Digital Elph. And yes that is indeed lil' S :)

And now comes the award, no not the Bharat Ratna Award silly, the Rocking Award.

Sra passed me this and I first thought may be she meant my blog had hit rock bottom and so she wanted to throw rocks at me. But the logo looked nice in pink & had a star, now anything in pink can't be bad, can it ? Also Sra is one of the few early bloggers whom I bonded with over comment space and I have seen her go from greenish-yellow to pristine white, I know "When" her soup came alive, I know that she is a conscious and innovative foodie and that she rocks, if she is passing on something it's got to be good.

Thanks to her and passing this on to some of the more rocking bloggers who haven't been rocked yet (or have they ? and is there a rule of passing ?)

Anh of Food Lovers Journey
Indosungod of DailyMusings
Inji of Ginger & Mango
Jyothsna of Currybazaar
Mystic of ChatpatFood
Mandira of Ahaar
Padma of Padma's Kitchen
Pragyan of Cooking at Pragyan's
SJ of A Pinch Of Spice
Seema of Recipe Junction
Sher of What Did You Eat
Shilpa of Aayis Recipes
Vani of Mysoorean
Swapna of Tastes from My Kitchen
Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook

and two non-foodie rocking girls

Anamika of Thinking Cramps
Moi of Not By a Long Shot

There are more but I am not sure if I am allowed to tag the entire blogosphere, so I better stop

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Daliya Pulao in 30 minutes

Daliya Pulao

I saw my blog mentioned at the CHOW. It was funny as I never thought of the "other bong" and also made me proud. Thank you all for having me here, your words make my day and Thanks Kara for finding me. Thanks to Mandira too and she knows for what !!!

I got to tell you this, grumble as you might of mixing up little S in my recipes and stopping only from eating her as a sidekick (ahem side dish) to my recipes.

Now as you all know “Reading” is sold highly as a virtue and all that among kids and so like all good mothers I started the routine too. But more than reading to her I would make up stories and tell her, even change the story in hand if the situation so demanded.

As she learns to read small words I try to induce her to read books herself.Reading by itself opens up a whole new world as it did for me when I was a 5 year old. I still remember the Red hard bound "Everyday Stories" by Enid Blyton which Baba got me once I started reading english and thus had me hooked for ever. That and the Bengali Kids magazine Anandamela which I used to get every month showed me a way to a world of everlasting enchantment.

So that S gets a hang of reading, we got her the “Dr.Seuss” which is brilliant if you think ease of reading but not really interesting when seen through the eyes of a 3 year old or her X year old Mom. So “Hop on Pop” does rhyme and also can be read but then what….nothing really happens…no story is spun…and so the 3 year old girl and the X year olds interest wane.

The 3 year old however seems to be more interested in picking up a book and spinning her own story. She does not really read the lines, but makes up a story on her own through the pictures and that enchants her.

In all this she got hold of a thick pink Disney Princess Story Book Collection. This was a hand me down from a friend’s older daughter and I had slipped it away at the bottom of the chest which holds her books. Why did I do that? Because what if she asked questions like this I thought.

“Why did Cinderella have a step mother?” – because her own mother is dead and gone…tell that and hear her wail…. Can’t be done
“Why is the step mother angry?” -- because she loves her own daughters more and does not love Cinderella… more wailing…. Can’t be done
“Why does the prince want to kiss Cinderella?” --- because she is very beautiful and also very good….Yikes.

I figured once she can read on her own, she could do it. I am a psyched mother I tell you.

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Anyhow this little girl of mine found the glossy pink Disney Book one day and enamored by its prettiness strutted away with it before I could say NO.
So I asked her read to me instead and this is what she came up with in the sing song voice a 3 year old usually has. Mind you S is perfect in her Bengali but her English is far from so and it’s really funny to hear.

“Cinderella”… she started off, making up the story from the pictures in the pages.
“Once upon the Time, Cinderella is very busy. She do all her work. She want to go to dance party so her mom scold her. Then her Grandma (the fairy Godmother in the book) gave her “sparkly-sprinkly” dress and a star clip.

In the party she see her Daddy. Her Daddy say, Now we have to go home, Tomorrow is school.

Cinderella break her shoe so her Daddy buy her new shoe.
She is very happy and tells Thank You Daddy and so Daddy kiss her”

I wanted to roll on the floor laughing but obviously I had to show great interest and be sober so that is what Cinderella's story is for me now on.

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With such a 3 year old wrapped around my leg most of the time that I am home, I never get to finish my cooking in express time. I cook in bits and pieces, doing hazaar things in between. So maybe I will come home and put the Dal in the cooker, and then I will sit and paint with S and so though the Dal could have been ideally done in 20 minutes flat, I get back to do it only after an hour maybe.

However to make things go faster I also do a lot of chopping etc. over the weekend or whenever I get time to ease the weekday. I usually have a cup of coarsely chopped onion, some fresh onion paste, and some chopped ginger & garlic in the refrigerator for impromptu weekday meals. If I am planning to make fish, I usually fry the fish pieces (we Bengalis fry the fish and then put them in the gravy) and then use them in a day or two in different gravies.

Yesterday I was determined to time my cooking though for Mallugirl's Summer Express Cooking and asked D to entertain S while I just cooked. It was a very simple thing I made, simple but healthy, Daliya Pualo. My Ma makes this pretty often to pack as lunch, I do both for lunch and quick dinners.

Daliya is Cracked Wheat that you can find in Indian stores. It is not same as bulghur but you can use bulghur too.

Bulghur ~ Partially hulled whole wheat kernels that are soaked, then steamed (hence pre-cooked if you will), dried and then crushed are called bulghur
Daliya or Cracked Wheat ~ Raw whole wheat berries that are crushed to varying qualities of texture are called cracked wheat


What I already had

Onion Paste ~ Red Onion ground to a coarse paste
Ground Chicken ~ I had some ground chicken which I had marinated with a little yogurt, ginger paste, cumin & coriander powder. I often do this with ground chicken, it stays well for couple of days and can be used to make quick kabobs or to be added to pasta or stuffing for wrap or sandwiches
Pureed Tomato ~ remember the cherry tomatoes from my garden, well there were more so I pureed them and stored

Note: You can skip the ground chicken or substitute with scrambled eggs, soy granules, crumbled panner

And The Time Starts Now...


Wash 1 cup of Daliya and put it in pressure cooker with almost twice the amount of water, a little oil and 2 elaichi/cardamom


Heat a small Frying Pan
Add Olive Oil
Add onion paste about 1 tbsp
Once it starts browning add the minced chicken, maybe ¾ cup of it, add salt and cook


While the chicken & Daliya is cooking chop the veggies
Chop long hot peppers, I chopped 2-3
I had a quarter of a cauliflower, I chopped the florets into small pieces. Smaller means will cook fast
I also thawed about ½ cup of frozen peas.
I chopped half a cucumber to make a raita
While chopping, remember to stir the chicken too.
Note: use your choice of veggies here


Heat a Kadhai
Add Olive Oil
Add 2-3 Bay Leaves, 4 cloves/laung, 4 elaichi/cardamom (all whole)
Add about 1 & ½ tbsp of onion paste and fry with 1/2 tsp of sugar
Meanwhile the ground chicken will be done and the Daliya too.

Add the chopped veggies, 1 tbsp of pureed tomato, sauté a little and cover and cook. Since I used fresh veggies this took a little while to get done


The veggies should be done by now.
Add the cooked ground chicken and mix well. Throw in some golden raisins. Add salt.
Now is the time to add the Daliya. If the pressure lid refuses to budge, put it under running cold water, this will release the steam.
If the Daliya has excess water, drain
Add the Daliya to the Kadai gradually and then mix well.
Add salt, a little sugar if you wish and stir till the Daliya is dry and has mixed well with the veggies


Quickly make a raita with yogurt and some cucumber
Everything done in 29 minutes and now you have one minute to reflect on what Douglas Adams said "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so"

Trivia:Because cracked wheat is made from whole wheat berries, it carries a great deal of nutrition and fiber since it includes the fiber and nutrient rich outer bran and germ of the wheat.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Kalai Dal ar Alu Posto

Kalai er Dal | Biulir Dal | Aloo Posto

Kolai er dal | Biuli r Dal with Alu Posto

Kalai Dal or Biulir Dal (Bengali Urad Dal) with Aloo Posto(Potatoes in a poppy seed paste) or Alu Seddho (mashed potatoes with a dash of mustard oil) is the best thing that can happen to a Bengali during a lulled summer afternoon lunch. This dal is made with white Urad and flavored with a sweet ginger-fennel paste. In the original avatar, this dal has a slimy texture, a characteristic which some love while others hate. In my recipe of Kolai er Dal I suggest lightly roasting the dal and then cooking it for the ones who don't eat Biulir Dal because of the texture. 

Sometime back I had to go to the city every day during the work week. Now unlike Bee and like Nabeela, I am not a city girl. Though we live a commutable distance away we hardly drop in to be a part of the city crowd. We are happy with our quiet green neighborhood and the proximity to the “Big Apple” has not rubbed the city life on us.

However I do not grudge the rare trips I need to make. I like to wait for the bus on a crisp morning and also love the fact that I can get an hour & half sleep while in it. I think I sleep a pretty deep sleep on the bus with my mouth open and even softly snoring. It leaves me pretty refreshed, and I don’t think anyone minds because most of the bus is doing the same.

Ok but this not about my sleeping habits so let’s not digress. The one thing I like about these early morning occasional ventures is the stores in the city. No, I am not talking of Saks 5th Avenue. I am talking of the small ineffable stores wedged between the tall structures, keeping a brave front, trying to hold on to their uniqueness of not being a part of a chain. I wonder what they sell. I see a sign saying “Lotto” and I try to peer through the thick bus window. I think I see a counter running through the length of the stores and I remember….

Yes, it reminds me of “Maulbi Saab ki Dukan”* just opposite to my school bus stop, my one stop shop for all my stationery needs for most of my school years. I remember Maulbi Saab in his checked blue-green lungi , white fez cap and almost luminescent white beard standing behind a counter that ran across the center of his shop. The counter kept the customers far removed from the merchandise and in turn gave Maulbi Saab an all encompassing power. I had to wait patiently for my turn for the Maulbi Saab or his grandson to be free and then I would ask for the Royal Blue Chelpark ink that I needed. I could not sample the Sulekha Violet ink if I wanted to or rummage through the crisp notebooks on display far from me.

The limitations of these choices mad me satisfied with what I needed alone and taught me not to go looking for stuff beyond my needs.

A lesson long forgotten when I hoard unknown boxes of spices and trifles, I don’t intend to use, just because I have an easy access to them.

It's not that I don’t love the choices a departmental store gives me, I do love the independence. But when I madly rummage through the aisles of Wal-Mart looking for a particular Dora kiddie water bottle, a part of me still yearns for the green shuttered Maulbi Saab’s Dukan and the polite Maulbi Saab in his blue-green checked lungi and white fez and I wish I could just go up and say “Ek Dora Purple & Pink Water Bottle dijiyega”** and come back home happy.

* a store run by the Maulbi** Give me a Dora Pink & Purple water bottle

Aloo Posto with Kalai Dal, Aloo Posto, Kalai Dal

But lets go back to the Dal I made today. Kalai er Dal is a dal made of split white (skin removed) Urad Dal, very typically Bengali and also a favorite in many Bengali homes.

Kalai er Dal with Alu Posto or Alu Seddho (mashed potatoes with a dash of mustard oil) is the best thing that can happen to you during a lulled summer afternoon lunch. Flavored with Ada-Mouri bata (a paste of ginger and fennel seeds) this sweet smelling dal can take two different avtaars. If you do not roast the urad dal and cook this Dal, it tends to get a bit slimy. Many people do not like the slippery texture though I loved it.

If you dry roast the dal before you cook it though, the slimy texture is gone and you get the flavorful dal without the slippery feeling.
This dal is best enjoyed with white rice. In a Bengali home it is served with alu posto or alu seddho and is typically served during a quiet lunch for the family. Usually not part of a menu for a larger audience it is for a quiet meal with the close family.

Alu Posto - is a dish made with potato and a paste of poppy seeds. Recipe is here. It can be found in both Bengali & Oriya cuisine
Alu Seddho - is a Bengali style mashed potato to which finely chopped onion, green chillies and a dash of mustard oil is added


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Strange Stories, Amazing Facts

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Amazing Fact

Fact 1: I did not, repeat DID NOT plant any cherry tomatoes this year. I did plant regular sized tomatoes

Fact 2: I GOT a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes from my tomato plants this year. I DID NOT get any regual sized tomatoes this year

Strange Story

I did plant a lot of cherry tomatoes in 2005, and a row of them in 2006, NONE in 2007

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Note: Since my little daughter has been under the weather, blogging has been disruptinve. She is doing fine now and normal programming will resume soon. Normal might not mean frequent though.