Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Posto Bora/Poppy Seed Fritters -- to save the soul

Friday was her Ma's Puja day. A day of thorough cleaning, sparse vegetarian eating, smoky incense sticks and hour long prayers.

She didn't like Fridays much. Ma would not let her sleep in late. Early morning the swoosh of the water across the courtyard followed by the broom would wake her up. Thwack-thwack it would go clearing the dirt, chalk dust from yesterday's hop scotch and dry leaves from the Neem tree.That was a signal for her to get out of the bed and take an early bath to avoid Ma's ire.

Before the morning newspaper hit the front veranda Ma would be in the kitchen trying to remove the turmeric stains from last night's maacher jhol. All those sounds of scraping and scrubbing would trouble her innards as she hurriedly dressed to catch the early bus. She wanted to be out before Ma started cleaning the green slightly rusted gas stove and soaping the red gas cylinder. Ma was never one to enjoy such tasks and the rituals she thrust on herself visibly irked her.

Outside she would breath and laugh and discuss Ma's rituals as ridiculous. She would take a bite of her best friend's egg roll ignoring the rule of being vegetarian on Fridays. It never occurred to her to question Ma's belief, to defy Fridays with any more stronger rebellion than this.

Some Fridays would be different though. Manu'r Ma, the maid would arrive early and amidst the clanking and scrubbing, she would hear the harsh monotonous sound of stone grating on stone. Manu'r Ma sitting on the floor would grind posto on the sheel, a pock marked slab of stone, turmeric stained by use and age. The red and green glass bangles on her thin, rough wrists would make a sweet tinkling sound while she rolled the smooth black nora, grating the poppy seeds by rhythmic regular pressure of her hands.

This is the shee-nora/sheel-batta the flat stone used to grind spices back home. Pic Courtesy my Dad

Those days she rushed home early. There was posto waiting at home. Earthy posto bata mixed with a liberal dose of pungent mustard oil and kancha lonka, the lightly crisp, flat posto bora and then aloo posto. Those Fridays she spent five whole minutes in the Puja room, muttering the only shloka she knew and promising to eat only vegetarian on all subsequent Fridays.

She smiled as she thought of those Fridays. How long has it been ? 20? or maybe more ? Her coffee grinder made a soft purring noise as it pulverized the white poppy seeds to a fine Powder. The Merry Maids scrubbed the upstairs bathroom. As soon as the Posto Bora would be done, she would light an incense in the Prayer room. Today was Friday.


Though this is fiction with heavy dosage of writer's imagination, Fridays were and are days we eat vegetarian and back home almost always my Mom would make posto on Fridays. She wasn't one to stick to rituals though. This goes to Chalks and Chopsticks -- 3 hosted by Sra and created by Aqua. I am not sure if this fits but this IS a very basic recipe/ingred/method in the Bong Kitchen so this post also goes to Jaya's B2B -- Back to Basics, if accepted, basically.

I am sure every self respecting middle aged Bong has made posto bora and know how to.

So this recipes is not really for them.

It is for those young bespectacled Bong grad students on their meager stipends and heavy work loads. Those who have used up all the minutes on their calling card for today is the 27th and pay day is not until end of the week. For those whose emotional balance is so skewed that desire of posto bora with mususrir dal and bhaat sits high up just next to an appreciative nod from the advisor.To give them some pleasure on a scorching hot Tuesday I will tell them how to make posto bora.


Posto Bora/Poppy Seed Fritters

Today I will not use my Magic Bullet which will make a better paste of Posto or Poppy Seeds. Instead the Coffee Grinder will be brought out, it is an inexpensive and a familiar feature in a sambar smelling, begun bhaja greasing grad student apartment (I hope!).

Put 1/2 cup of Posto/Poppy Seeds in the coffee grinder and make a fine powder, as fine as the machine can without burning up that is. This will make 4-5 posto bora.

Transfer the powder to a bowl. It might be grainy, you can't help it.

Add approx 4-5 tbsp of water to this powder and try to make a paste. Throw is some finely chopped onion, 2 green chili chopped real fine, salt and few drops of Mustard Oil. You don't have Mustard Oil ? Ok forget it and weep.

The paste will look runny. There is no way you can make bora(fritters) with them. So add a little Maida/AP Flour. I think 2-3 tsp should be ok. Add a tsp of flour, mix well and see if the consistency is still very watery. If yes --> add a half tsp more.
Note: If you happen to have a Magic Bullet or a sheel or anything where you can wet grind the posto to a fine thick paste, you might not need the flour.

Grease a flat pan with oil and put on the hob. Very little oil is needed to make these, 2 tsp at most.Mustard oil is the oil of choice here. If you don't have that again weep and use Canola.

Shape a flat fritter/tikki/bora kind of structure with your bare hands, it will be irregular and just hold its shape. Put it on the pan and let it cook at medium heat. Once the edges have browned flip. Now it will be flippable.Do the other side till both sides are nicely browned.

You can have these just by themselves or with rice. Tastes awesome. Ok, you already know that.

Similar Recipes:

Alu Posto

Kundru Posto

Jhinge Chingri Posto

Sharmila's Posto Bora -- one of my fav bloggers and I hope she comes back soon

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Everyday Chicken Biryani -- Version 1.0

Once upon a time there was a young girl newly married and her husband who too was newly married and they did not cook much.To simplify life they would often make a very easy chicken biryani. It would start of as a chicken curry and then they would add rice to it, put everything in the pressure cooker, close the lid and then wait expectantly for the pressure to go whoosh 3 times. Their little house smelled nice with the rich spices and promises of a better tomorrow hung limply in the fragrant air. They would each have a plateful and think that was the best biryani ever.

Slowly they made friends, friend who introduced them to authentic Biryani places, the hole in the wall meat shops, who also served delicious Biryani. Sometimes they would travel 40 miles on the weekend to some such place for a plate of goat biryani and that taste would linger for the entire week. The everyday chicken biryani seemed too rustic, too homely compared to such exotic tastes. They did not feel the urge to cook it as often anymore.

Then they acquired a friend whose cooking was legendary and whose Mutton Biryani was the closest you could get to paradise. They would wait and wait for lunch or a dinner invite at her place, for a taste of that Biryani. The husband frustrated with all the waiting finally managed to wrangle the treasured recipe and cooked the legendary Mutton Biryani at home. It took half a day, half a bottle of ghee and tasted like heaven. The taste was so exotic that Every Day Chicken Biryani rarely got made again. The half bottle of ghee ensured that the Legendary Biryani never got made again except on rare occasions.

When the Biryani craving struck they just ordered out from the numerous respectable Biryani places that had now sprung up in the neighborhood.

And then I chanced upon Indosungod's Chicken Biryani. It sounded familiar, comforting and brought back the rich smell that hung in that small house years ago. So I made it. I adapted it to my old style but applied the new techniques and addition of new spices that I learned from her. I also applied the tips that I had learned from all of you in my Egg Pulao post.

I was extra happy with this dish because it had tomatoes, mint and coriander from the garden. I served this Biryani with a simple raita and I added some of the cherry tomatoes to the raita. I also added oven baked spicy potatoes to the Biryani to satisfy my Bong craving for potatoes in a Biryani.

The Everyday Chicken Biryani turned out delicious and comforting. Everyone including BS and LS loved it. Now that is a rare feat.

I say this is version 1.0 because there are many other variations to this delightful one pot meal that I might try in future. For now this=bliss.

Update: This goes to BB#6 at Nupur's delightful One Hot Stove


Everyday Chicken Biryani

Marinate about 2 lb Chicken with 1/4th Cup yogurt, 1 tsp Biryani Masala, 1 tsp Ginger Paste, 1 tsp Garlic Paste salt and little oil for an an hour or more. Note: Use your own or store bought Biryani Masala

Heat Vegetable Oil in a deep heavy bottomed bottomed pan or in a pressure cooker

Lightly fry 6 cloves of garlic and 2" piece of ginger. Remove and make a paste once it is cooled.

Temper the Oil with
1 Bay Leaf
2" stick of Cinnamon
4 whole clove
4 whole green cardamom
1 black cardamom (optional)
1/2 tsp of Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp Corriander seeds

When the spices sizzle add 1 Cup of chopped red onion. Add 1/2 tsp of sugar and fry the onion till it is soft and translucent and lightly browned at the edges.

Next add the ginger-garlic paste that you made and saute for a couple more minutes

Add 1 Cup of chopped carrots and green beans finely chopped and saute for 2-3 minutes. (This is optional)

Add 1 large potato chopped in quarters and saute for a minute. (This is NOT optional)

Now add the marinated chicken pieces and fry them till they turn a light golden.

Next add the spice powders
a little Turmeric Powder
1 Tbsp Biryani Masala
Note: I did not add any red chili powder as the kids were going to eat it too but add according to your taste.

Mix the masala with chicken and saute for 3-4 minutes. If needed sprinkle a little water while frying.

Add 2 Tbsp of chopped mint and 2 Tbsp of coriander leaves. 1 Tbsp of Dried mint works great too.

Add salt to taste and cook the chicken till they are 3/4th done

Meanwhile wash 2 cups of Basmati rice and drain all the water. Smear the rice grains with ghee so that the rice grains are nicely coated. Also bring about 5 cups of water to boil in a separate pot. Mostly the ratio of rice :water suggested is 1:2 but do what works best with the rice you use.

Once the chicken is almost done, add the rice and mix lightly. Do not stir vigorously. Adjust for salt and other seasonings. At this point I added 2 whole green chili chopped. Add the boiling water to this pan . Bring it to a simmer, then keep gas heat at medium low and cover the pan with lid. Cook till rice is almost done and the water has been absorbed. Now remove from heat, fluff the rice with a fork and open the lid in part.

If at this point some of the rice grains were not fully cooked, put a big griddle/tawa on medium flame and put this pan with biryani on the griddle/tawa. I sprinkled some fried onion on the rice, covered the lid in part and let it cook for 5-6 minutes. By this time all the grains were nicely done.


If you are doing in a pressure cooker hassle is less. Close the pressure cooker lid and cook till rice is done.

Serving Options 1: Now the Biryani popular in Bengal is always served with potatoes and so I love potatoes in my Biryani. This time instead of adding potato directly to the biryani this is what I did. I sliced thickly two red potatoes and tossed them with olive oil, sea salt and little roasted cumin powder. I then baked them in the oven at 400F for 25-30 mins. I then garnished the Biryani with these potato slices and fried onions.

Serve with a raita. To make raita put thick yogurt in a bowl and stir with a whisk or fork to have a uniform thick consistency. Add little milk to get the right consistency. Add chopped cucumber, chopped onion and tomatoes. Add little sugar, chaat masala and little salt. Mix well. Serve cold

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Giada's Grilled chicken with Basil Dressing

Soon after I have had some deep fried goodness I go on a guilt mode. Isn't that sad ? I mean if life has come to a stage where I have to feel guilty of eating deep fried stuff, is that life even worth anything ? And hello, I am not in my seventies or something. My Hajmola eating, ever burping grandma did better than this.

Also when I am on the guilt mode, I eat crap.Not.

So on one of my such modes and on a weekday with very little time I decided to do a grilled chicken. Now there is nothing wrong with grilled chicken and we do a lot of that during the summer months. It is easy, less mess, I do the marinade, D stands on the deck, far from the madding crowd aka the family and turns chicken on the gas grill enjoying the light summer breeze and the peace that loneliness on the deck can bring.

But this time I wanted to use my Basil infused Olive Oil and more Basil with the chicken. A few Google clicks later I settled on Giada's Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing. Now I love Giada. Ok, not exactly love, because I have seen her only maybe four times on Food Network. But I like her. She is very pretty. In fact I liked her enough to suggest that D start watching pretty Giada instead of brainy Alton Brown.

But he likes brainy guys and I like pretty girls.We have a happy marriage.

So I kind of followed her recipe, altering only a little bit. I used Basil Infused Olive Oil instead of just Olive Oil. And I must tell you, my infused Olive Oil wasn't smelling very great after a week in the refrigerator. I have no clue what happened.

I also reduced the lime juice and added a little honey and red chili powder.

The basil dressing was very good I must say. A little on the bland side for folks like us so should have added more chili but it was very refreshing. I served the chicken with grilled veggies.
The next day I added some Corriander Chutney from a bottle to the same marinade and used it for salmon. That made it totally delicious though.

While on the Grilling topic, I have updated the page Blog Hopped Recipes with two delicious recipes of grilled chicken that I tried from Malluspice and Aayis Recipes. Do check them out.


Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing

Original Recipe

1/3 cup of oil(I used less),
2 tablespoons of lemon juice,
1 tsp garlic paste,
1 & 1/2 tsp of powdered fennel seeds,
1 teaspoon pepper in a heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag. Add 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts and seal the bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day, turning the chicken occasionally.

1 cup of basil leaves,
2-3 cloves of garlic,
1 tsp lemon zest,
1/8 cup lemon juice,
1 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth. Gradually blend in 1/3 cup oil. Season the basil sauce, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired. I added honey and some red chili powder to this dressing

Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to plates. Drizzle the basil sauce over and serve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chingri Pakoda -- Shrimp Pakoda

BS lost her very first tooth last week, last Wednesday to be precise. Major excitement ensued.More than the tooth, it was about the Tooth Fairy and the cash she would bring.

I had no clue that Tooth Fairies brought wads of dollar bills.

A shiny quarter was all I knew. Apparently I am wrong, as suggested by little neighbor girl.

The little neighbor girl has raised the bar pretty high saying Tooth Fairy got her thirty dollars. T-HIRT-Y DOLLARS for a baby tooth !!! What was TTF(The Tooth Fairy) thinking. I am guessing there is a scam going on and it might involve Goldman but really T-HIRT-Y Dollars ?

Since this was BS's very first tooth, I did not want her psychologically snubbed by TTF's bias and so she got Fifteen dollars from TTF next morning, crisp 5 dollar bills under her pillow.

Later I learned that little neighbor girl might have duped me. Tooth Fairy still gives out single dollar bills so there I am the stupid adult.

To quickly retract my sin of giving too much cash to a 6 year old I made BS buy ten dollar worth of craft supplies with that money and now BS is left with 5 dollars which she has promised to give to her Mom when the need arises. In fact BS thinks her Mom can become rich herself if she loses her own tooth too.

Before that happens her Mom decided to celebrate the occasion by making Chingri Pakora or Shrimp Pakoda. It did not matter that BS did not even want to take a bite, everyone else enjoyed it to the bits.

Update for Indo: The toothless girl did not fancy pakodas on that particular day. She has her very own independent food ideas that change each day !!!

Fry some up, they are perfect on a rainy day with a steaming cuppa. Ok, they are good on any day and we will also serve it as a bhaja (something fried) to go with rice and dal. If you don't eat shrimp, don't lose heart, you can use sliced paneer or mushroom and they will taste as good.


Chingri Pakoda -- Shrimp Pakoda

This recipe makes about 15-16 pakodis with 15-16 shrimp

Clean and de-vein shrimp. If using frozen defrost them. Remove shell and the tail. Toss the shrimp with 1/4 tsp of lime juice, 1/4 tsp of Roasted Cumin powder and salt. You can also add a little garlic paste and Red Chili powder, I usually don't. Keep the shrimp marinated for 10-15 minutes. If shrimp is large in size, chop in bite size pieces and then marinate.

In a mixing bowl add

1 cup of Besan/Chickpea flour
a pinch of Baking Powder
1/4 tsp of Red Chili Powder
salt to taste
Add 3/4 cup--1 cup of water gradually to above, mixing with a fork to make a smooth batter.

Note 1: You can add a tsp of rice flour to the batter to make it more crispy
Note 2: Sometimes I will add an egg to the batter. If you do that add less water.

To the batter add about 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions and 2 green chili finely chopped(optional) and mix well
This time I added 2 tbsp of crispy fried onions(the kind you can put in biryani etc.) to the batter and it tasted heavenly

Heat enough Oil for deep frying in a kadhai. Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a little batter into it.

Dip a shrimp in the batter so that it is well coated. With a tablespoon scoop the shrimp along with some batter and gently drop it in hot oil. At this point heat should be high-medium. After a minute reduce the heat to medium. When the pakoda starts turning golden at edges flip and fry the other side. Approx. it will take 2-3 mins on each side. This is enough for the shrimp to get cooked.
Note: When you are doing several at a time, carefully separate each pakodis in the hot oil so that they do not lump together.

Once the pakoda looks brown and crunchy, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel

Sprinkle Amchoor or Chaat masala on the pakodis and serve with a Hot & Sweet Ketchup

Monday, July 19, 2010

Miss Masala by Mallika

A very dear blogger friend has written a book.

She is funny, witty, charming, chic and a terrific cook. Oh, wait and she is a fellow bong.

Can you guess who she is ?

Ok, she is already famous and you all probably know about her book. She is Mallika from Quick Indian Cooking, who blogs here at Quick Indian Cooking. Of course.

Book: Miss Masala
Author: Mallika Basu
Hardcover: 248 pages
Publisher: Collins (April 29, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0007306121
ISBN-13: 978-0007306121
Buy from Amazon

She had very kindly sent me some copies l--o--o--n--g back. But they got lost in transit and after much travel only two of her gorgeous books landed at my door.

Did I say they were gorgeous ? They were absolutely pretty and purple and pink and with the most charming pages(or settings or whatever the publishers call them). You know the kind of lined pages where you jot down your notes. Her book is like that, has that well thumbed feel of a recipe journal about it. And yet just like her it is witty, charming, chic and sexy.

It is filled with those terrific recipes which you must have got a glimpse in her blog and is filled with witty anecdotes. I have been enjoying reading it so much that I am yet to cook from it. In fact I had intended to do a review only after I cooked a couple (and it is hard to pick just a couple) of dishes from the book. But then I remembered she has a book tour all over India this week and I wanted to get the word out as quickly as possible.

Please,please check out her book tour and go visit if possible. Also buy your own personal copy. I was supposed to give out one but my Mom has taken over one copy and refuses to part with it. Me, I am not going to let go mine either. So go get your own and meet Mallika in her book tour if possible.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dal with Beet Greens

Little Sis aka LS is a funny creature. She is the kind you would like to have at the other table at the fancy restaurant. The kind who will stick her tongue out at you, climb up and down the high chair, throw forks around, throw folks around and make you silently gloat on your own parenting skills. When she starts yelling you can pay your tip and leave.

I cannot leave however. I am the Mother. I have to grab her by the nape while I shovel Pad Thai down mine. I have to constantly remind her that throwing a plate(thankfully it was a copper or some metallic kind) around is not acceptable behavior, that she cannot pull tablecloths or poke ac vents.

People@Home think I am too soft with her. But trust me I am not. Ok, maybe I have lost the steam to discipline since Big Sis aka BS but even then I am not soft. It is just that LS is like that, naughty and funny and always on her toes.

Now BS is the quieter one, she doesn't scold her little sis when LS shouts "My Turn" ever so often, doesn't utter a word when LS takes away her crayons, lets her lick her ice cream and only sometimes complains that LS scratched her arms.

LS never complains. If needed she throws herself on the floor albeit carefully and expresses her anger. She plays mostly with BS's friends and uses her limited English editions of "Hello", "How are You Doing", "No, don't" and "My Turn". After that she just continues in Bengali. She figures her way around them, relying totally on BS for help and ignoring any grown up interference.

A couple months back when we were at Orlando, she shook hands with Mickey and told him a lot of stuff including "Hello", "How are you doing". Unfortunately Mickey did not understand a word. Since then she has a Mickey fixation. So she is the kid you can hear yelling "Mickey", "Mickey" at the library or the mall or anywhere the familiar mouse is visible.

She is the one with parents sporting an embarrassed look.

Next time when you hear a kid in the flight protesting to wear the sea belt, when you see a kid who is practicing target with forks and peas at the restaurant, when you hear a kid whose excited voice drowns the silence in the library please, please DO NOT blame the parents.

Think of LS. Some kids are "like that wonly".

Now to the Dal cooked with a bunch of beet greens. This again is my Ma's dish. Since we usually get a bunch of beet for LS, Ma uses the greens in this Dal and it has become a family favorite. You can work around with the spices and the type of Dal. I have always, always cooked this with only Masoor--Red Lentils but I have a hunch that this will go beautifully with Toor too.


Dal with Beet Greens

Wash and cook Masoor Dal(Red Lentils) with enough water and little turmeric. I usually do it in the pressure cooker. I had about 4 cups of Cooked Dal. My dal was cooked rather thick, usually it should be more liquid.

Chop the Beet Greens. I had one bunch of it.

Heat 3-4 tsp of Oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Temper the oil with 1 small Bay Leaf, 4 cardamom, 4 clove and 1" thin stick of cinnamon

Add 2 cloves of garlic finely minced, followed soon by almost 1 &1/2 -- 2 cups of chopped onion. Fry the onion till it is soft and translucent.

Add the chopped Beet Greens. Fry the greens till there is no raw smell of the greens. If they tend to stick to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle water and scrape and fry.

Add about 1/4 tsp of Garam Masala powder if you wish and 1 more tsp of oil. Fry for couple more minutes

Now add the cooked dal. Do this gradually, sauteing the dal along with the greens so that they mix thoroughly

Now add water about 3-4 cups of it. Add salt and sugar to taste. Add chili powder to taste. Let the Dal simmer till it comes to a boil. Mix thoroughly. Switch off and squeeze a quarter lime juice into the Dal. Serve with rice or Roti or just by itself.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dudh diye Lau -- one more Gourd Dish

It has been almost a month since the summer vacations started for BS and as far as I can see it, she is having a blast. For one, she is doing NOTHING on most days. Half of her day is spent at the neighbor's place, the second half of the day little neighbor friend spends at our place. I have no clue what they do other than eating a lot of ice lollies and blowing bubbles.

Then there is the numerous park visits with Dadai, about three parties that involved water slide, sprinklers, pool and such, a New York visit and stay at Times Square, couple of visits to the beach, lots of book reading and football watching, staying up late until 10:30 at night. The days are packed to the brim with nothingness.

To bring some semblance to her day I made up a routine involving some study and stuff for an hour each day. When I call up from work to ask whether she has done her day's quota of writing or math or piano, she says she couldn't as she has been "off schedule". Does that even make sense ?

This whole NOTHINGNESS of summer is so addictive that I wish I had a long summer vacation, a real one where I would do nothing but lick ice lollies and read books and blow bubbles.

I wish...

When I think of summer vacation from those days of childhood long past, I can't remember any single one. My childhood summers have just merged into one another, blended into one colorful blob.

I remember....

...the swing that Baba had hung up on the guava tree, the swing fashioned from a wooden plank and hung on narkele dori(coconut choirs). The friend who got hurt when the wooden plank hit her nose when one of us had jumped off the swing midway. Two days later we continued swinging up high, the friend's nose healed.

...rummaging through the huge black storage trunk, digging up Anandamelas and Enid Blytons, to re read.

...the mustachioed ice cream man with his military hat and shorts shouting "Golden" on Sunday afternoon. We called him Bhagat Singh. The orange ice cream bar that I always bought while Ma insisted that I get a Milk bar.

...the couple of weeks at my Dida's place. The visits to Dakshineshwar Temple and the boat ride to Belur. The coolness at the Birla Planetarium and the happiness browsing books at College Street

...writing pages of Hindi in big letters, trying to fit not more than 3 words a line to finish the summer homework. Writing pages of English, cramming as much in a page to finish the same.

What do you remember from your summer vacation ?

Lauki/Lau or Bottle Gourd is a favorite summer vegetable with the Bengalis. It is supposed to have a cooling effect in the summer heat and so a light lauki sabzi or lau tarkari would pop up ever so often during the summer days. My Ma would cook the simple bottle gourd several ways, each lightly spiced, perfect as a summer side dish.

This particular one cooked with milk, the Dudh diye Lau is slightly on the sweet side and one I have never cooked before. I learned it from Ma while she is here and cooked it this Saturday. It is as I said, light, slightly sweet, perfect as a side dish with rice for a light Summer home lunch. Do not expect an explosion of taste when you eat it, it is humble and meek, perfect for your satwik senses.


Dudh diye Lau

Peel and Chop a decent sized Bottle Gourd in small cubes

Cook about 4 cups of cubed Bottle Gourd or Lauki without water and a little salt till done. No need to add water as the Bottle Gourd will release a lot of water while cooking.

Mix 1/4 cup of Milk with 1 tbsp of All Purpose Flour/Maida to make a smooth paste. Once the Lauki/Gourd is cooked, add the milk paste and mix gently

Heat 2 tsp of Ghee in a Kadhai

Temper with 1 Bay Leaf, 2 Green Cardamom, 1" thin stick of cinnamon, 2 cracked dry Red chili and 1/2 tsp of whole cumin seeds

When the spices pop, add the cooked gourd and saute for a few minutes. Add salt to taste, add about 1/4-1/2 tsp of sugar. We Bengalis like this dish light and sweet.

Keep cooking till the water has almost dried up and there is almost no gravy except the liquid clinging to the veggie

Now there are three ways to garnish
(a) Garnish with fresh grated coconut
(b) Fry vadi and crumble them on top
(c)Fry a papad and crumble on top just before serving -- This is what I have done

Similar Recipes:

Lau Chingri

Lau Bori

Tetor Dal -- Dal with Bitter Gourd and Bottle Gourd

Friday, July 09, 2010

Your Favorite Kitchen Gadget

I need your help. Honest. Cross my heart.

The very generous people from CSN stores who had sponsored a giveaway at my blog some months back, asked me to review one of their products. Anyone who has been to their site knows what gorgeous products they have.They sell everything from Housewares, Home Decor, vanity to Furniture. Check out their site for their amazing collection.

Now I am a dummy when it comes to Kitchen gadgets. It is my plain ignorance about things that can be bought for the Kitchen, makes me not buy them. All I buy is pretty kitchen things from HomeGoods but they are not gadgets.

I want something that can be plugged, that will whir, make a mean noise and output some amazing result. Actually I don't even know what that sentence means.

To educate myself and maybe some more souls like me, I need your help.

Please tell me in your comment Or on Facebook

What is your favorite kitchen gadget ? It has to be something you own and have used. Also tell me why do you like it so much. If you can remember the brand etc., it is better.

It can be anything from the mortar-pestle, to your favorite wok, to the Kitchen Aid mixer, to the spoon that you lick all day. Ok maybe not the spoon.

Please, pretty please help me here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Infused Olive Oil -- Basil & Sun Dried Tomato

Remember This ? The Basil in my Herb Pot.

Well every year I throw together herbs in a pot and grow them. I grow them because I love the thought of growing my own herbs. But do I do anything with them ? Ummm, ummm...gulp, gulp. Well... I use all of the coriander and the garlic chives which are very scraggy in my pot and are not much but the rest is left to flourish and grow and look green and pretty.

No one will believe me when I say this, I think it is blasphemous to even utter this, but I never really cared to use the pretty, fragrant basil or oregano(yes someone said it is oregano) the last two years. But all that changed yesterday and I started plucking basil like crazy.

This basil had a very lemony scent to it and this is NOT lemon basil. I am growing lemon basil from a friend in a separate pot but this one was supposed to be the regular basil. But it was not the lemony scent that inspired me. It was the book, "Under the Tuscan Sun" which I have just started reading. The book is so very charming that it will make you do things like that.

Once plucked I wanted to make an infused Olive Oil. The husband said that my attempt might kill everyone with "botulism".

I did not listen. I listened to Martha Stewart.

I blanched a few basil leaves,
patted them dry,
coarsely pounded them with a mortal-pestle
and then I remembered Happy Cook putting sun dried tomatoes in olive oil.

So I took a washed and dried jar. This one is the Bru Coffee jar if you are curious.

Put some Sun dried tomatoes, put the pounded basil, poured in the extra virgin olive oil and am keeping it in the refrigerator for a week.

At room temperature or more than a week is not advisable.

We will see how I use it. For now I will just spread it on slices of baguette and take a bite with my tea.


By now everyone I know must have read Joel Stein's article in The Times. Maybe his intention was humor, but the piece seemed to me much more rude than funny, kind of in bad taste. It also mattered that he was not saying it to a closed audience in his living room but on a media with a far more outreach.
It is these incidents which spark a fire of hatred somewhere, puts doubt in young minds and makes them justify their action. It is such hatred that leads them towards bigger crime. My condolences to Dr. Divyendu Sinha's family who lost his life in a tragic incident last week.

I am sorry but I have not been able to reply to comments or visit and comment on your blogs. I am hoping I will be up to it in a week

Friday, July 02, 2010

Off to the Garden

"Two years ago, I was saying as I planted seeds in the garden, "I must believe in these seeds, that they fall into the earth and grow into flowers and radishes and beans." It is a miracle to me because I do not understand it. The very fact that they use glib technical phrases does not make it any less a miracle, and a miracle we all accept. Then why not accept God's miracles?"

-Dorothy Day (1897-1980), From Union Square to Rome, 1938

This has been a very difficult week for us. A tragic incident close to home shook our belief in mankind, in humanity, in mortals.

I do not know how to vent my anger, my frustration. I do not know how to reinstate my faith. I do not understand why people do not understand parenting is a serious task and if a parent does not do his/her job well, they can raise humans who destroy society.

The greens in my garden consoles me. And though this year I can take no credit for them, I look to them to believe God is still there to work out miracles.

My Dad did everything for the garden this year from planting to taking care. He planted tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and beans. The tomatoes are growing happily. Zucchini flowers are in plenty. The bunnies ate the beans. The carrots are still growing.

He also planted hot peppers and I threw together all kinds of herbs in a herb pot.

Growing Mint is easy. I did not know that. My neighbors have loads of mint plants. On their suggestion I dug one stem of mint into the soil and it flourished.

The herb pot with herbs I can't even recognize

What are those ? Any idea ?

The Hot Peppers

Zucchini, all flowers and leaves. No fruit yet.