Monday, March 05, 2012

My Mother's Bhaja Masla


Every Monday, ok most, I wake up all anew, striving to be a "Good" Mother. Not "Very Good". Not Excellent. And definitely "Not Bad". Just plain, simple "good" Like I have all along wanted to be. Good girl, good student, good uncanny desire for goodness.

Only this time it is harder than most. How do I decide how much I need to nag for Piano Practice without it falling into the category called "pushing" ? How can I make sure that I am mentally stimulating without "helicoptering"? How do I ascertain that my exasperation when a long division is messed up is not going to cause some negative setback in late fifties of my offspring ? How do I teach to be competitive without being aggressive ?What are the fine lines ? Darn there are so many that I wish someone would have highlighted them with a fluorescent marker. And then comes real incidents like this only miles away from home and I wonder what went wrong with both the kids ? The Mothers must have stayed up nights, fed vegetables, told stories, ferried to a violin class or spent hours by the hot pool. The Fathers must have done whatever he did. The schools were excellent, the Teachers good. And yet.

No wonder by Thursday or even Wednesday I want to hand over the remote, a bag of chips and say "Que sera, sera".

In spite of this it is a fun ride. An exciting one. I would not say I learn as the years of my parenting grows  because I am not sure of that. The only thing I realize is no two child are same and there is not set rule that applies to all.


Now many a Mondays when I am striving hard, I usually go on Amazon and order books for the girls. On these days I deviate from the standard fiction series that is bought otherwise. Recently I bought three books which I found so wonderful that I thought I would share with other Moms here.


The first one "Children Just Like Me" was suggested by the wonderful blog of Choxbox who sadly does not blog anymore. This is a beautiful book with gorgeous pictures about children all over the world and how they live, eat, go to school etc. Very engaging way to learn about the different cultures. The second one "Feel the Force" is a popup book explaining basic Physics stuff like gravity, friction, force, pressure etc. It is much fun and an excellent review is here. BTW, the Mom who writes that blog is very inspiring. I love her reviews and am totally awed by the activities she does with her kids. The third book "Bedtime Bugs" is a popup book for younger kids. This one I had to buy forced by Little A and it really was a good thing. If your child loves to pull tabs and pop-ups they will love this one..

Back to regular programming, lets talk food now. Today though it is just spices without which food wouldn't be what it is. Bhaja Masla or Roasted Masala is a unique Bengali spice blend. What makes it furthermore unique is that there are several kinds of it. Some I know of. Some I have heard of. Some I have no clue about.

Bhaja Masla 1 -- Dry roast cumin seeds and Dry Red chili. Cool and grind to a powder. Used in Alu Kabli

Bhaja Masla 2 -- Dry roast Paanch Phoron and Dry Red Chili. Cool and grind to powder. I use it on chutneys.


And then there is my Mother's Bhaja Masla. Her staple in her pantry. My home roasts with this flavor during her visits. Strong, Robust, Smoky--- this masala speaks of mystery and adventure and dark chambers with hidden specters. My Ma uses it to sprinkle on chutneys, to make vegetable chops, to use in lieu of Garam Masala and to revel in it. She also makes a fabulous niramish alur dom with it which will come up next.

The spices for Bhaja Masla

Cumin Seeds -- 2 tsp
Corriander Seeds -- 2 tsp
Fennel Seeds -- 2 tsp
Cardamom -- 6
Clove -- 8
Whole black Peppercorn -- 1 tsp (Use 3-4 Dry red chilies instead if you wish)
Tej Patta - 1 small
Dalchini -- a thin 1" stick

Roast for 8-10 minutes at very low heat till you get a strong spice smell. Cool and grind to a fine powder.

This measure makes a large amount of powder which can be stored for later use. You can make smaller amounts by using quarter of the measure.


  1. This post gives me a sense of de ja vu. I'd read the same story when it was published & had the same chain of thoughts.. I have a 2 year old and I can absolutely relate to this story...

    1. At 2 just enjoy, don't think too much about parenting yet :)

  2. Bhaja maslar flavorta darun lage . Amar ma o chutney te r kichu kichu dish e use kore. Lovely post.

    Cuisine Delights
    My First Event - "COLOURFUL HOLI".

  3. Goodness, what a delight to come here... Your opening lines had me feeling like I'd found a kindred spirit. Then the line "Now many a Mondays when I am striving hard, I usually go on Amazon and order books for the girls" had me nodding animatedly. I'm touched by your kind words, and I'm eager to get into our spice cupboard. I've had to look up Paanch Phoron (don't have this in my cupboard so will look out for it on my next spice run), Tej Patta (bay leaf) and Dalchini (cinammon).

  4. Children just Like me sounds like a good one. I have to look into in. Ami bhabchilam Bhaja Moshla post korbo LOL even though I do not add it in the niramish dum aloo.. I am into making and posting spice powders right now.

  5. The bhaja masla sounds incredibly aromatic!

    Lila got "Children Just Like Me" as a gift and I was so thrilled- such a lovely book.

    The New Yorker article about the Clementi case was really sobering. Two things struck me: The parents took out an ad saying "we are proud of you, son" which immediately raised red flags for me. And both boys were so full of negative stereotypes about each other- we have to teach kids to be more accepting of diversity.

    1. Nupur

      That book is a treasure.

      About the ad, I think it might be more of a "note" what a lot of parents do in the school yearbook. I have never got one so don't know for sure. The school district mentioned is also highly competitive and apparently there is lot of peer pressure. I really cannot fathom how one thing led to another but these are all young kids, fresh in college, some trying to fit in and others trying to impress. A lot of things these kids Text/tweet may not be even what they think or feel.The univ. is my alma mater, the town close to home --- it feels very disturbing.

  6. So many masala recipes together,will try them sometime,wish ya happy festival,.:)

  7. excellent post. agreed with all the sentences!!

  8. The masala is very aromatic.
    Got to look for "Just like me", usually the school send a flyer to buy books for the age group. He just picks whatever he likes and the school gets credits and we pay little lesser than store. Now, we have a mini library.
    About Rutgers news- the news got so much national attention. Both out of High school (kids) at that time- he did really a stupid action.

  9. Wow what a hot and spicy dishes.I like it.Can you more share with me.I have many ideas for you.

    Thanks for more sharing..........

    Gourmet Secrets

  10. As I was reading the first half our your post, it was almost like a reassurance to myself. I am not alone. I am not the only one who does that. Good to hear that most moms think the same way.

    My Bhaja Masala is strictly - Cardamom, Cloves, Cinnamon, Peppercorns and Tejpata. Should try your way now. I do the Bhaja Jeere separately.

  11. I can so well relate to your concerns... they are my concerns too... in fact I think they are concerns of all the moms like us! Motherhood is a new chapter and one cannot learn it prior to the stage is reached. Each human being is a different individual, so as each child. For my 5 yr old son, so far I have noticed, the best way of parenting is to boost his confidence from my end. That's what I am doing these days. Thank u for sharing about the books, I shall check them out in flipcart. And off course thank u for ur mom's bhaja masla recipe.

  12. ...And I forgot to tell u Sandeepa, my mastooto bon got recently married. she is an young girl and did almost no cooking before marriage. Her husband is fond of cooking and surfs net for recipes. I suggested my sis to look at ur blog to learn whatever she needs. :)

  13. Helicoptering is a nice phrase, your invention? first time I'm coming across it, the phrase, that is, am very familiar with the act itself :)

  14. Sandeepa, I fret over such things and my kid is not yet reading. Thanks for the list. I am going to get the bed bugs book, sounds like fun.

  15. Thank you for another relate-able well written post, Sandeepa. It reinforces my own feelings about parenting. I don't think there is ever any right or wrong way of parenting (we just follow our instincts) and the results are mostly unpredictable. It surprises me sometimes how the successes or failures of my daughter affect me and even though i don't want to heap my dreams and aspirations on her, i think at some level i am doing exactly that.
    The whole Tyler Clementi case has haunted me for a while and just goes to show how a few thoughtless and impulsive words/actions can ruin perfectly decent lives with so much potential for good things.

  16. No not mine. It is widely used these days in the context

  17. It did sound like I was reading about myself! Helicoptering...yes, I don't know where to draw a fine line!! I would love to get those books for my lil one....are they suitable for an almost 3 year old? My daughter enjoys reading books and it's been fiction so far...other than books on animals etc.

    1. J

      Yes, I think they should be ok. The Physics one, they might not grasp but my 3 yr. old liked it because of all the pop-up. She loves the Bugs book

  18. Bhaja Moshla sounds so useful recipe..and I am sure it will add tons of flavour to the gravies..and I do feel the same way you feel about your kids Sandeepa.. I know it is difficult to draw lines between "pushing" and "persuading" .We do go once in a week to our local library..where my DD choose what she likes to read..she herself gets them issued for her..reading should be considered as a fun task not a mandatory task..

  19. Sandeepa, do you roast the cardamom with the peel on, or just the seeds? Do you include the peel when you grind the spices? Planning to make your Alu Dom, but first need to make a batch of the masla. TIA!

    1. For this small green cardamom, I roast them whole and grind along with the peel. The final spice powder should be fine though.

  20. hi
    after reading ur post i remembered a movie julie and julia i guess that was the name newe nice pictures and recipies im gonna learn them soon coz they seem lipsmacking

  21. Hi,

    Today my spouse is using your recipe for alu dom. her cooking is still half way and the smell of it is so tempting that I couldn't wait to have it when finished. Thank you for posting such detailed recipes we have fallen in love with your blog.


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