Monday, March 29, 2010

Murghi Ka Salan -- Murgir Jhol by any other name

Murgir Jhol

Has anyone seen Maya, the Indian Princess. The cute rounded Indian kid who goes around saying "I am an Indian Princess, in a pr-e-t-t-y sarri", with the right inflection on the t's in pretty. I was thrilled to see her some months ago on Nick Jr.

Yes, I am the bad Mom, who not only has cable but also watches television as in Nick Jr. with her kids. A couple years back, I thought Nickelodeon was the root to all evil, had no cable, only allowed the singleton kiddo to watch PBS kids. Two years and one more kid later, I have changed. I Love Moose A. Moose and wait for their summer song.

But the pros and cons of Nick Jr. will be debated later, today it is about Maya. Hers is not a show, hers is just a filler in between the regular shows (and she is been around since 2005, only I didn't know). It is about this little Indian girl who goes around trying to drape a sari and be a princess until her Mom comes and helps her out. Why does that thrill me so ? Umm, maybe because a brown Indian cartoon girl who looks just like any little non-cartoon girl is on mainstream cartoon TV. Yeah that is how I gauge Equal Opportunity( or is it Affirmative Action) these days, by who is on cartoon TV even if they are sharing the spot with a Moose.

By Kavita Ramchandran
Watch the clip if you haven't already. BS freaks out if I ask her to wear a sari, she will wear a salwar kamiz, a lehenga but not a sari, but then everyone is not BS.There are kids like Maya who will want to drape everything on them and pretend being a princess or being a teacher like BS's mom used to do eons ago.
When I saw the Murghi Ka Salan at Mona's and then Shayma's two things happened (1) it made me immensely hungry (2) it very much reminded me of Murgi'r Jhol. The Murgi'r Jhol was another Sunday lunch thing like the Patha'r Mangsho.

As the Bengali got more heart healthy, they gradually moved from their Sunday goat meat lunches to chicken. In those times chicken did not feature prolifically in the Bong menu, non-veg meant more of fish and chicken or mutton was usually once a week affair. The Sunday Murgi'r Jhol was the basic simple jhol with onion, ginger, garlic and garam masala. They would not have cashew paste or mint or any such brou-ha-ha. It was a simplistic chicken curry and could be be looking red and rich one day due to use of more oil and red chili powder or pale and yellowy on another Sunday when the frying and bhuno-ing was less. Both ways it tasted great. It would be served with white rice, dal, a bhaja and a salad of onion-cucumber-tomato.

So I made Murgi'r Jhol but adapted all extra things that Murgi ka Salan required which meant whole peppercorns and lots of chili powder. I also fried the onions golden and then made a paste of them as I think that gives a wonderful flavor to the dish. As the chicken cooked on the stove, last Saturday, I could feel the happy smell permeating the walls and spreading through my home. I had a hunch, this would be the chicken curry which makes you want to smell your fingers long after lunch. And when I served this delicious dish as Murghi ka Salan , because that sounds oh so much more poetic than Murgi'r Jhol, D rolled his eyes(ok not rolled, because he can't do the rolling right), and said "Eta to amader Murgi'r Jhol"(This is our Murgi'r Jhol).

Inspiration: Murghi ka Salan @Zaiqa, Murghi ka Salan @The Spice Spoon and my Mom

Murghi Ka Salan ~ Murgir Jhol
Serves about 5-6 grown ups

 What You Need

Chicken-- skinned and cut into medium size pieces, mine had bones.
About 2&1/2-3lb of chicken

For marinade:
2 tbsp of lime juice,
1 tsp of garlic paste,
1 tsp of ginger paste,
turmeric powder

Red Onion ~ 3 cups of chopped onion
Garlic ~ 7-8 fat cloves of garlic
Ginger ~ 2" knob of ginger
Tomato ~ 3 peeled and canned tomatoes. Instead use 2-3 juicy tomatoes finely chopped

Elaichi/Cardamom ~ 5
Laung/Cloves ~ 5
Dalchini/Cinnamon ~ 1&1/2" thin stick
Whole Pepercorns ~ 10-15

Roasted Coriander Powder ~ 2 tsp. (Dry roast corriander seeds and grind to a powder. You can store it for later use)
Red Chili Powder ~ 1-1&1/2 tsp
Salt ~ to taste
Water ~ 1-2 cup
Lime zest ~ 1/4 tsp

Corriander Leaves ~ a handful of chopped leaves
Oil ~ for cooking. I use White Oil like Canola for this dish. Do not scrimp on the oil and you will need about 5-6tbsp of it at the least. Think of this like, you will make this once in two weeks and so it is ok to indulge. Also this 5tbsp will be distributed among 5 adults, so it is only 1tbsp per adult  

How I Did It  

Prep Marinade the chicken pieces for an hour with  
2 tbsp of lime juice,  
1 tsp of garlic paste,  
1 tsp of ginger paste,  
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder  

Start Cooking

Heat White Oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan.

Add 3 cups of roughly chopped red onion and fry till the onions turn deep maroon & golden with deep brown edges.

Add about 7-8 cloves of chopped garlic and a 2" knob of ginger peeled and chopped. Saute for a couple more minutes till they caramelize. Cool and then grind onion+garlic+ginger to a fine smooth paste with aid of little water.

Heat some more White oil for cooking in the same pan.

Temper the oil with
5 whole Cardamom  
5 Clove  
1&1/2"stick of cinnamon  
10-15 whole peppercorns

Add the onion+garlic+ginger paste from the blender and fry for a minute Add about 3 whole peeled tomatoes from a can or 2 medium juicy tomatoes chopped fine. Fry till the tomato is mushed up and you see the oil separating from the edges

Add 2 tsp of Roasted Coriander powder and 1-2 tsp of Red Chili Powder. If you want add a pinch of turmeric. Fry the spices with a sprinkle of water for 2-3 minutes.Note: When I am making this, I will add red chili powder only towards the end, after taking out a serving for the 6 year old.

Add the chicken pieces shaking off any excess liquid and fry the chicken pieces till they are well coated with the masala. Let it cook uncovered for the next 15-20 mins or so, with frequent stirring. This process is actually called "bhuno" in Hindi or "kashano" in Bengali. At the end of this process you will see the oil separating , that indicates good things are in the making.

When you see the chicken pieces takes on a golden coloring and the oil separating from the masala, add about 1-2 cups of warm water, mix everything well, add salt to taste and cook covered at medium-low heat till chicken is done. You should let the gravy simmer till you see a thin layer of oil floating on the top.

Add about 1/4 tsp of lime zest or a lime leaf if you have one, couple of minutes before you turn off the heat. This really lends a beautiful flavor to the rich curry. Garnish with loads of chopped corriander leaves

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chai Time

How was your weekend ?

Here it was cold again and brought along lots of sniffles and little stuffy noses.

A cup of chai along with some rusks brightened up the day.

I have added a page to chronicle the recipes that I try from other blogs but don't post because they are so perfect that either I have made no alterations or are so good that I couldn't take a pic. They will be updated here. Link will be on the sidebar.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What or Who is a Bong ?

Today, I did not want to write this post. I did not want to steal the light from The President's Health Care bill or from Apple who intend to end economic woes by bumping iPhones with the rich & famous. But then I am pro choice and if my readers choose to know "What is a Bong", or "Why I am a Bong", so be it.

In my 3& 1/2 years of blogging I have got several spam comments asking the same question, I have got e-mails which I have already answered and I have seen this blog being mentioned with "not what you are thinking" within quotes. I had decided to lie low and not come up with a clarification as to Why a "Bong Mom's Cookbook". But I think the time has come for you to know that I am NOT a hookah smoking, dopey Mom who cooks when she is not high and writes when she is. You might be disappointed by the truth but I can't help it.

To satisfy your curiosity my readers, this is a sketchy guide to a Bong, as known in the Indian parlance

Scientific Definition

Bong commonly refers to the Bengali Homo Sapiens (Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man"), the only extant member of the Homo genus of bipedal primates in Hominidae, the great ape family, native to the historic region of Bengal (now divided between Bangladesh and India) in South Asia.

They are considered an Indo-Aryan people although they are also descended from Mongolo-Dravidians, closely related to Austro-Asiatic, Dravidian, Assamese, Sinhalese and Munda peoples. As such, Bengalis are a homogeneous but considerably diverse ethnic group with heterogeneous origins.

Yeah, that helps a lot. If still interested please read this.

Why Bong and Not Bangali or Bengali ?

A Bangali used to be proud of being a Bangali and called himself thus in the times of Satyajit Ray, Chuni Goswami and even Tapas Pal.

With the Dot Com boom and bust, call center gimmick, Dadagiri and Bipasha Basu, The Bangali got westernized and decided to call themselves Bongs. This I think happened only with the people native to West Bengal. The people of Bangladesh still prefer to call themselves Bangali.

What do Bongs eat ?

Anything and everything as long as it is being followed up by Gelusil, Pudin Hara, Joan er Aarak or Nux Vom 30.

To know more about a Bong's staple diet you should visit a traditional Bong home on weekday morning between 7:00AM to 9:00AM. The Bong Male is forced to eat garam bhaat, dal, alu seddho, uchche bhaja and maach er jhol all hot off the stove before he leaves for opish. That is supposed to be the Bong's staple diet and it is a sacrilege if the earning member of the house leaves home without being fortified with this diet.

At all other times you can see this species grazing on phuchka, alu kabli, egg roll and tele bhaja.

How would I know if the middle aged Homo Sapien male I met today morning is a Bong (or a Bangali if you so prefer) ?

If any of the following is true, you have met The Bong

(a)This species was at your local fish market where he was very carefully analyzing the anatomy of various fishes through thick rimmed glasses

(b)The species on his first encounter regaled you with stories about his ambol(acid reflux) and choan dhekur( more reflux) all the while munching on the greasy egg roll that he just bought from a roadside cart.

(c) After being done with the fish or the egg roll as the case maybe, the species proceeds to enlighten you about the current state of Politiks in his state and discusses how Obama's healthcare bill is going to solve water problem in Midnapore. He might also point out how Mamata is going to protest against this with a Bangla Bandh.

How would I know if the middle aged Homo Sapien female I met at my daughter's school is a Bong (or a Bangali if you so prefer) ?

If any of the following is true, you have met The Bong Moms

(a)On first day of the kid's school and even later, this species was at the school an hour early for pickup or rather she was standing there from morning, waiting for school to get over looking harried, worried and visibly distressed.

(b)The species on her first encounter regaled you with stories about how her daughter/son refuses every morsel of food that is offered and how hard it is to feed her/him.

(c) The species then proceeds to inquire whether your child learns Robindro Shongeet and takes Math tuition, both being high up in the Bong parenting realm.

How would I know a Bong Blog if I read one ?

If any of the following is true, you have met The Bong Blogs

(a) The blog will usually be about food, if not a food blog it will mention food, adda, politiks, phootboll , cricket and food in that order

(b) The blog will have a lot of bh-a-a-t, which means lots of talk in thin air, none of which is of any use to anyone

(c) It might look like this

For a more detailed explanation read this Complete Guide by Dhoomketu.

This post will be up there on the Right side bar and so please refer to it when ever you wish. For now satisfy yourselves that I am a regular Bengali Mom from India who lives and blogs from the US.

Update on 03/24/2010: I did not know about the fire at Park Street, Kolkata until late last night. My deepest condolences to those who lost their lives in the Stephen Court Fire.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

How was your weekend ? I wish I could say mine was as tranquil as above.

The weekend was gorgeous after a long line of cold, snowy and rainy weekends. So I went to the park with a book and tea, thinking I could plonk LS in a swing, let BS fend for herself and sit down and read this wonderful book under the shiny blue sky.

I didn't realize that everyone else in the state(?) had the exact same brilliant plan.

The park was spilling over with kids of all ages and sizes, Moms & Dads of all ages and sizes, Grandparents of all ages...ok you get the drift. So though I could drink my cups of tea, I couldn't read a single page of the book.

So I am still going on at the pace of reading only a couple of pages at night every day though I am itching to know how Greg Mortenson managed to open all 50 schools in Baltistan

Currently Reading: Three Cups of Tea

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spicy Egg Muffins -- chasing Monday Blues with Egg White

Forbes published its billionaires list last week. Of the 1011 in the list, 89 are women and a very few of them are self made billionaires. Why do you think there are so few rich women as compared to men ? Do women think it is not worthwhile to amass so much money and there are better things to do in life (that I agree to) ? Is it because they get paid less than the men ? Or is it because the Forbes list is stupid ? What do you think ?

While you ponder over that, lets make some hearty, heart healthy egg muffins to cheer up a dull Monday.

I have loved Kalyn's Egg Muffins from the day I have seen them. Strangely I did not make them until early last week and then once I started I could not stop, for the next 3 days I kept making them. They are super easy and super delicious. I used only Egg White and kicked up the spiciness by several notches.

Due to health reasons, we had hugely reduced our egg intake and did not eat more than 1 or 2 a week. D did not like Egg whites enough unless he made a Frittata. So when ever we are on the low carb diet week, breakfast is a challenge or was, because now I have found these egg muffins which I make with only Egg Whites and still they turn out to be incredibly delicious.

And did I say they were super easy. I did ? Ok then go ahead and follow these steps to make them


Original Recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen

Makes about 12 Muffins

Pour out 2 cups of Egg White in a bowl and spice it up with
Red Chilli Powder,
Black Pepper Powder,
a Little Garam Masala
and salt
. Give a good stir or two to blend in the spices. I used egg whites out of a carton.
If using whole eggs, beat eggs lightly. You will need about one egg per muffin

Preheat oven to 375F

Grease the silicone cups lightly with oil or non-stick spray. Kalyn says if using regular muffin pan, use two paper liners in each slot and grease inside of the liner.

Layer the bottom of the muffin cups with shredded cheese. I used a pack of shredded Taco cheese. Top it with chopped green scallion(this is important). I have also used some carrots but you can use other veggies like red pepper or mushroom. If you like meat add some sausage. To spice it up I add chopped green chili

Sprinkle some more cheese on top so that almost 1/2 the muffin cup is full. Kalyn says 3/4th full but I went with 1/2

Pour the spiced up egg white so that the muffin cups are now almost 3/4 full and stir gently with a fork . If you have not added green chili add a drop of hot Tabasco in each cup.

Bake them for 20-30 minutes or until the muffins rise like a mushroom cloud. Put in a knife or fork to see if it comes out clean. If yes you are done.

Since I used only egg whites, my muffins went "phichik" and sunk once cooled. At least I think it was the only Egg white formula that did it, Kalyn's muffins did not sink and I think if you are using whole eggs, don't beat all that much and they will not sink. That didn't really matter, they were very very good to eat.

These muffins stay well when frozen. I have refrigerated them for 2 days but have not frozen them yet. But you can put them in Ziploc bags and freeze them too. Warm them up in the Microwave and they are as good as new

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sweet Malpua -- sugar uninterrupted

Sweet, soft, layers off goodness. That is what Malpuas are.

I finally gave in and made Malpua this past weekend. How could I let a festival pass by without the food ? And how could just a condensed Milk Cake compensate for "syrup dribbling down your elbows" sweets. Don't you get a kick of licking sugary syrup dribbling down your elbows ? You don't ? Ok I understand, it does get messy and tricky and you need to know the right technique to let it dribble only on the inside and not on the hairy side.

I remember the time I got Rasgullas to work and my inept German boss trying to blend in with the Indian culture (this was way back in India), picked up a rasgulla with his fingers and while trying to pop it in, dribbled syrup all over himself. I left the job soon after.

So anyway, I had this intense feeling of guilt and all because I didn't eat sugary sweets after being doused in color. And that's when I don't even like being doused in color. A large part of my bygone Holi days were spent miserably hiding under the bed and so I really don't want to do that again, the whole color thing that is.

But Malpuas are good, they make you happy, the very thought of eating them makes you happy.So I made some Malpuas, the main excuse being I wanted to carry some for a friend we were visiting after a long time. But you all know that wasn't the real reason, right ?

Malpuas make the world seem perfect though reality might be far from it. So it is really important that you make it. Make it for Ugadi next week or for the Marathi, Kasmiri New Year, come on I insist.

This would be a very typical way a Bong celebrates Holi. Less play, more eat.

There are these delta variations in which you can make Malpuas. I myself had made Pineapple Malpuas long back which was quiet a new twist. But trust me, the original Malpuas with no such fancy addition taste the best. The way my Mom makes it she lets the Malpuas soak in the syrup till they are soft and pillowy. Me, I either brush syrup on them or do a quick dip, because I like the crispiness better. Then again there are the dry kinds called Puas which are not dunked in syrup at all.
This time I added evaporated milk and condensed milk to the batter, but you can just use plain old whole milk and I am quiet certain it will turn out just as good.


Original Malpuas

Serving Size: This measure makes about 10-12 malpuas
Time taken: Prep time: 15-20 mins minimum; Cook time: 20 mins;
Level of Difficulty: Medium

Make the sugar syrup:

Boil 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water till you get a syrup of one single string consistency. You can flavor the syrup with strands of saffron or with drops of rose water

Make the Malpua:

Make a batter with

1/2 cup All Purpose Flour/Maida,
1/4 cup Semolina/Sooji/Rawa
1 cup of evaporated Milk(almost)
5 tbsp of Condensed Milk
2 tbsp of Sugar
1 tsp of Fennel seeds/saunf/Mouri
Note: Instead of Condensed Milk & Evaporated Milk you can use Whole Milk but then adjust sugar for sweetness

Throw in some golden raisins in the batter and mix.

Let the batter sit for 2-3 hours for best results. At least 20 mins if you are in a rush.

Heat Oil for deep frying in a Kadhai. Note: Shallow frying might work but I have never tried

Give the batter a good mix and pour a little less than 1/4 cup of batter in the hot oil to form a circular disc. When the edges turn golden brown, flip and fry till both sides are golden.

Remove with a slotted spoon. Either dunk in sugar syrup or brush both sides generously with the syrup. Note: If you intend to dunk in sugar syrup till malpuas are soaked with the syrup, lessen the sweetness in the batter. I prefer a  quick dunk in the syrup(this is easier). That makes it not very soft but sweet and lightly crisp.

Garnish with slivers of almonds and serve hot. They stay ok for a couple of days when refrigerated but remember to warm before serving.

Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates. 

Yes, I am on Twitter. I really don't know what worldly wisdom I can impart in 140 characters but follow me will you ? "Followers" makes me think I am like the Osho or something and does boost up my otherwise low self esteem. So humor me.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Palang Shaak er Ghonto -- spinach 'n' veggies

Palang Shaak er Ghonto
Palang Shaak er Ghonto

Bengali Cuisine is very subtle, understated and not really very popular outside Bengal. Most Indians outside of Bengal think Bengali food is all about fish and sweets. The moment you are introduced as a Bengali to any one who is not, they will tell you "Oh, we love Bengali sweets" and they will wax about "how much they like Roshugulla" with what they think is a Bengali accent but is so not.

I am sure the same thing happens about food from any other region too. All we know globally about Indian food is Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka and Palak Paneer. Extend it a little more and it may include Masala Dosa and Idli. Even we as Indians know very little about food from other regions of our own country. My Indian colleague's will often ask me, so what is it that you Bengalis eat other than Fish ? Yeah, nothing actually, we eat fish and then sweets and then just keep repeating the pattern until we are full or in a state of malnutrition.

Growing up as a Bong kid, I paid little attention to Bengali Food. At that time Bengali food wasn't glamorized, no restaurants except the roadside ones, served a decent Bengali meal. It was solely home food and as a kid you pay little attention to home food.

Truth be told, I became aware and more conscious about Bengali Food only after stepping away from home and the bond grew stronger, the further I went. My friends here in the US are very diligent cooks, the ones who are Bong cook authentic Bengali food and they cook it very well. Their love for the cuisine kind of pushed me to cook more and more of the Bengali Home Food. It wasn't complex, a mix of spices here, a subtle pinch of cumin-coriander there, a dash of mustard oil as a secret ingredient and voila you have a subtly spiced dish with all the taste of all the vegetables in full flavor.

Myth#1: "Despite its uniqueness, Bengali food failed to grow beyond connoisseurs. Short-cuts are frowned upon by purists and innovative improvisations dismissed as unacceptable compromises. Traditional Bengali cuisine is gradually becoming a dying art, kept alive only by Anjan Chatterjee’s chain of restaurants such as Oh! Calcutta, a few other eateries aimed at the diaspora, and caterers who still serve a complete traditional meal at wedding receptions." -- Chandan Mitra in Outlook

Though I agree in parts with the above article in Outlook, I think it is far fetched to say "Traditional Bengali Cuisine" is a dying art. Chandan Mitra wouldn't have said that if he saw my friend here who makes the authentic Chapor Ghonto with Motor dal er Bara or the one who insists her Sundays are not right if she doesn't make Luchi-Begun Bhaja. There is this whole category of modern, educated Bengali women, managing kids, home and work, and yet finding time to cook and serve a Bengali meal to her family, miles away from their own country. So while "Oh!Calcutta" is definitely trying to make Bengali cuisine popular as no other restaurant has done, it is these women who are keeping the cuisine alive.

Myth #2: Bengali cuisine is time-consuming, involves a complex blend of spices, is much more than just fish.-- same article as above

It is much more than fish but every day Bengali food is neither complex nor time consuming, unless all you cook is Maggi 2 minute noodles. It can get elaborate if you intend to go the whole nine yards and prepare a full traditional Bengali meal but you need not do that every day. With a little bit of planning and delegation, cooking everyday Bengali Food is simpler than making Pizza from scratch. If you can just ignore the purists and make your own adaptations, you will have a delicious, balanced meal ready which will serve you far better than the frozen box of Paneer Butter Masala.

This Palang Shaak er Ghonto or Spinach with a medley of vegetables is cooked a little different from my Mom's. Every home has its own little tradition of cooking the exact same dish and so taste of the same dish varies from one home to other.

While my Mom uses dhone-jire-ada bata, this one solely relies on Paanch Phoron and Roasted Cumin powder(Bhaja Jire Guro) to create magic. I had it at a friend's place and liked it very much. D says this tastes more like what was made at his home.

Spinach with other winter vegetables like radish and pumpkin makes it the perfect side for Dal and Rice on a winter afternoon. To make life easier I have used chopped frozen spinach and that doesn't mar the taste any way at all. But I would insist that you use Mustard Oil because that lends a magic touch to this simple preparation


Palang Shaak er Ghonto


Peel and chop two potatoes in cubes.

Chop red radish in half about 1/2 cup

Peel and chop pumpkin about 2 cup

Defrost 2-3 cups of frozen chopped spinach.I just microwave it for a minute. If using fresh spinach, wash --> chop fine

Dry Roast and grind cumin seeds/jeera to make the roasted cumin powder. I usually make this in a large quantity and store.

Start Cooking

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a Kadhai/Saute pan. I use Mustard Oil to cook this dish.

Temper the oil with 1 tsp of Paanch Phoron and 2 cracked Dry Red Chili. You can add 1 small clove of garlic finely minced but sometimes I won't.

When the spices sputter add the potatoes and radish. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of turmeric on them and saute. Cover and saute so that the veggies cook faster. retaining their flavor and form.

When the potatoes turn a little golden add the chopped pumpkin. Cover and saute till pumpkin softens.

Add the chopped spinach and mix well. Saute everything for a minute. Sprinkle
1 tsp of roasted cumin powder,
salt to taste,
add 2-3 slit green chili/or red chili powder
to taste.
Cover and let the vegetables cook.

When almost done add a little sugar(usually if pumpkin is sweet you can skip sugar) and adjust for seasonings. If needed add a little more of the roasted cumin powder. Add about 1/2 tsp of mustard oil, drizzled from top to bring out the best flavor.

Serve with Rice or just have a bowl of this vegetable medley.

Similar Recipes:

Pui Shaak er Ghonto

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Condensed Milk Pound Cake with Chocolate Swirls

Driving back home yesterday, I switched from my favorite Public Radio to a CD on the Player.A CD containing literally 100's of songs, Hindi Movie Songs from the late 80's and 90's compiled by someone for someone else. At a moment's whim I had copied them all and there it was playing on my car stereo while I maneuvered traffic on the highway.

While I listened mindlessly to most, this one (Aaye ho Mere Zindagi mein) caught my attention. I couldn't remember the movie or the actors playing out (and thank God for that) but I could faintly recall the song. I could hear it over the air waves, blaring from the loud speaker, seeping through the brick and cement walls and lashing over unsuspecting home stayers. These were days where the mornings started with potential signs that the day was going to be different. The loudspeaker, starting off with a crackling "Hello...Mike testing.. hello..1..2..3" just confirmed it.

It could be anything, religious festival ranging from ShivRatri to DurgaPujo, cultural ones like Rabindra Jayanti to Poila Baishakh or neighbor hood Chintu's Birthday if Chintu's bro or dad indirectly influenced the loudspeaker. The neighborhood youth, self appointed custodians of our cultural enrichment, pounced upon any opportunity to tie up a loudspeaker to the nearest tree and crank up the stereo, deluging the community with their choice of current hit Hindi(Bollywood) Songs and some Bengali ones.

My Dad not being a proponent of any Hindi Movie or it's song that had a release date in the 80's or 90's, the Hindi Songs busting the charts usually eluded us. The loudspeakers on festival days compensated for our lack of knowledge. As did Chitrahar on Wednesday evenings and Rangoli on Sunday mornings.

And then today this blog reminded me of Binaca Geetmala, what a coincidence, to be reminded of songs like "Dekha Hai Pehli Baar" and "Shayad Meri Shaadi ka Khayal", the kinds I would have never wanted to hear unless for the loudspeakers and yet whose beats reverberate deep somewhere.

I don't remember anything being played on Holi though or was it "Rang Barse" played whole day ? Did you have the neighborhood loudspeaker blaring on special days ?

Since I didn't consciously celebrate Holi this time, I forgot to wish anyone around here too. I am like 3 days late but so what, "Happy Holi"

Instead of the traditional Holi Sweets, I made this Condensed Milk Pound Cake from Nags last week. Her step-by-step recipes really helps me visualize what I am baking. The chocolate marbling idea is from here for a similar pound cake.

Everything was good about this cake except the timing which was way off for me & my oven. Since 180C does not convert to 325F I was a bit confused and I checked few more Condensed Milk Pound Cake recipe. Everyone said something different and I went with 325F. Forty minutes later, the cake top was turning golden but the inside was still very soft. So I raised to temp to 375, then 20 mins later the outside was getting very dark brown and inside was just a teeny soft. So I took it out and let it cool.

The cake turned out to be pretty good though and BSS enjoyed it the most. In fact she liked it enough to share her pretty tea set for my blog pictures. I should give this a try again but with that kind of butter and sugar I will wait a while.


Condensed Milk Pound Cake

What you Need

All purpose flour ~ 1&1/3 cups
Sweetened condensed milk ~ 1 cup
Sugar ~ 3/4 cup
Unsalted butter at room temperature ~ 1 cup
Eggs ~ 2
Baking powder ~ 3/4 tsp
Vanilla essence ~ 1 tsp
Salt ~ 1/2 tsp

For Chocolate swirls:

Cocoa powder ~ 2tbsp

How I Made It

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder until well combined.

Cream butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy with an electric mixer.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.

Then add the condensed milk and vanilla essence and repeat for the same time, until well combined.

Add the flour to the wet mixture gradually (in 2 or 3 additions) and mix until batter is smooth.

For the chocolate swirl, take 4 tablespoon of the batter and mix it with 2 tbsp of dark coco powder. Pour half white batter in a greased cake tin or loaf pan. Top with the chocolate batter and finish with remaining white batter. Take a knife and make a few swirls to the batter.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C/325F for 50-60 mins. Insert a toothpick at the center to test if the cake is done. Note: Nags says 30-35 mins but that didn't work for my oven so be sure to check at half an hour and prolong only if needed.

Cool and serve