Sunday, December 30, 2018

3 Easy and Fun Cocktails for your Year End Party

I am not much of an "alcohol-drinking" kind of person. I don't get the light-headed, happy feeling that usually a glass of drink should bring.

Instead I feel just plain sleepy after a glass of wine. My eyes get heavy and I doze off!! Plonk!
Clearly that is not what I want to do, as "dozing off" is something I can do easily even without a drink. What is the point then?

I however love cocktails -- Mojito, Margaritas, Mimosas-- good. Given a choice, I usually tell the bartender to go light on the alcohol part. Defeats the purpose you say? But works for me. I am not sleeping after that drink. And I think I might be feeling a teeny bit happier.

But it works best if the husband-man is mixing the drinks at home. He knows my limits and makes the best cocktails that I love.

Here are 3 that I am sure you will love too.

Singapore Sling

This Singapore Sling which the husband-man had made for my last book club meeting(it is his version of the drink), was a major hit.
Our town has a book club and the coordinators take great care to pair the potluck menu at those meetings with the book of the month.
So few months back we were reading #CrazyRichAsians and the menu was around Singapore. I took this cocktail and it was a major hit. It indeed is a lovely drink and heady enough to drown all sorrows!!😜
1 part Gin
2 part Pineapple Juice
Little lime juice.
1 tsp Grenadine
1 part Club Soda
Add a lime wedge

Mint Mojito

Mojito is a summer drink and since we have a huge bush of Mint growing in our backyard, we use all that fresh mint to make ours. If you can get fresh mint, it is a refreshing drink any time of the year.

10 fresh mint leaves

1/2 lime cut into 4 wedges

2 tablespoons white sugar or 2 tbsp of simple syrup.
*Make simple syrup by boiling 1 Cup of Sugar + 1 Cup of Water

1 cup ice cubes

1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum

1/2 cup club soda or Sprite


Place the mint leaves, lime wedges at the bottom of a tall glass or in a cocktail shaker. Add the sugar or simple syrup.

Muddle with a Pestle to release the mint oil and lime juice.

Fill the glass with ice.

Add the rum and top off with club soda or sprite.

Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Limoncello Mule

I had got a bottle of Limoncello on our trip to Italy earlier this year. I have been waiting for the right time to drink it and never found the "right-time". The husband-man used it to make another amazing cocktail which will be on the drink list tomorrow.

3 oz. limoncello
3 oz. good quality vodka
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. ginger beer

Lots of ice
lemon slices - for garnish

Fill a glass with ice.

Add the limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, to a cocktail shaker. Shake shake shake.

Pour into glass. Add Ginger Beer to the top of drinks and stir.

Garnish with Thin rinds of lime.

Here's to a happy looking back to 2018 and fizzy welcome to 2019!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Orange -- Phulkopi Komola Roast

I recently came to know about Phulkopi Komola, a Bengali dish where Cauliflower is cooked with oranges.

I had never ever heard of such a thing before. In our middle class family, we ate KomlaLebu with beet noon on winter afternoons, sitting on the terrace, our back to the sun and a book in front. My Ma, made a Komola Lebu'r kheer on occasions that deemed such extravaganza and that Kheer was so delicious that I cannot even explain in words. Other than that, oranges were had on their own.

Well, anyway, the pairing of Cauliflower with Oranges seemed like a brilliant idea, so I thought why not? But I didn't want to cook them the traditional Phulkopi dalna (cauliflower curry) way. I wanted to roast them. Cauliflowers I roast often. But this time, I wanted to add oranges (clementines to be precise) to the roast.

So Cauliflowers, tiny potatoes, oranges, and some carrots(optional) were chopped. Tossed with some tandoori masala, olive oil, chili powder and even garlic it was a pretty dish to look at and delicious to eat.The oranges gave a tiny kick of sweetness and flavor to the cauliflowers. I added some green peas to add color to the dish and it was an excellent idea. The whole dish is pretty simple to make and the cooking time is the time for you to relax and watch Netflix.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Bajri Pearl Millet Pancakes

The last week, I have been desperately trying to stay off carbs in my diet. Not an easy feat for aluseddho-bhaat loving Bengalis.

But I have been eating like a glutton and wanted to give the whole digestive system, a short break between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Add to that my recent woeful experience while clothes shopping in Kolkata.

I love going to stores like Pantaloons, Biba or Big Bazaar back home. Being used to departmental stores in the West, where store assistants hardly pay a glance, careful not to intrude my privacy by suggesting any opinion unless clearly asked for,  the overload of shopping assistants in the stores at the Kolkata Mall, makes me feel very special.

They are always asking "Madam, ki chai?";then suggesting designs that they profess will look good on me; if I am throwing a tantrum that nothing matches they are eager to hunt down the right color leggings for my Kurta. In general they are pretty good people, showering attention as if I am buying a 900 rupees kurta for the royal wedding.

But with every pro, comes a con. And in this case there is plenty. One of them, of course is the intrusion which I am now old enough to take in stride. I have bidden enough time standing in long queues for the public bus in my college days, with Aunties suggesting all kind of skin and hair care routine. From staying off "oily food" to some Baba's miracle ointment, I have heard it all. That has toughened my self confidence.

So we will not talk about intrusion. Instead I would like to ponder upon why size of clothes in Indian stores is a variable. It is not a constant and is always shifting. What is a M today is not a M tomorrow in the same brand. What used to be an XL is now non-existent.. Folks in Kolkata are slimming down at an alarming rate so that size S is becoming a smaller size every year.

Until 2017, I was a size M with Kurtas that I bought in India. With most US brands, I can still get into a size S! But this time back in Kolkata, I could barely breathe in even M sized Kurtas.

At the Big Bazaar, which is close to my parent's home, and so a favorite haunt, I asked one of the young nymph like store assistants, "Are you guys just becoming more thin, or why does a M not fit me anymore?"

The young girl gave me a once over and without a smile said, "Didi, try a L, that will fit you!"

And of course it did. But that is when I made up my mind to stay off carbs for a week. But only after I had polished off all the Norom paak mishti and Nolen Gur er Ice cream of course!!!

Bajri Flour or Pearl Millet flour is a very common flour in some regions of India. It is high in complex carbohydrates and a rich source of protein and dietary fiber. I therefore cheerfully bought a small pack of Bajri flour while planning the low-carb week's menu. 

However I have never had Bajri flour while growing up and I doubt if my Mother has used it even once. All I knew is this nutty coarse flour is used to make a type of thick flat bread called Bakhri, which I was not keen to make. My neighbor then suggested making a Chilla with bajri flour as it is easier to make than a Bakhri.

I took it a step further, added eggs, spices, onion, green chilies and made savory crepes instead. I had these crepes with a ground chicken keema and avocados. I really loved the robust flavor of the crepes. The kids thought it was "meh" but then they are kids, so we will ignore them. For now, I am hooked to Bajri Crepes!!!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Tomato Kashundi Salmon -- salmon baked with mustard and tomato

Kashundi Salmon Bhapa
After oven

ince I have come back, from my short trip to India, I have been super jetlagged. The lethargy has seeped into my bones as has the cold, and so every day, I strive to find easy recipes to make for dinner.

Easy, Easier, Easiest -- has become my motto.

You might look at me with pity and cook your own very difficult chotol maach er muithya from scratch but that is not going to deter me. I will stick to my easy and quick recipes for now. My eldest daughter who takes baking very seriously thinks baking a cake from a box is blasphemy. She doesn't know about me. Yet!

So this recipe is an upgrade of my old recipe called Shorshe Salmon Jhaal. I mean it's an easier oven baked version.
And I don't know if Tomato Kashundi is a thing, given that Tomato is not a native of Bengal. I just made a mustard paste with tomato, garlic, green chili and called it Tomato Kashundi. It is a pretty good mustard paste but I don't think it has shelf life like regular Kashundi

We all love salmon and we love it more when it is bangla-fied. If you don't get salmon, don't fret, use any other fish that you use in a Bhapa recipe (steamed fish). No, leave Ilish alone. Use something like Bhetki, Basa or even Arh fish I think.

Before going in oven

Tomato Kashundi Salmon

When I buy salmon fillet I ask the skin to be removed. Then I cut each fillet in 3"x 3" squares. Okay, maybe some other dimension but small squares or rectangles. Toss the pieces with turmeric powder, and salt and keep aside. I had about 8 pieces of salmon fillet, each 3" x 3"

Tomato Kashundi is not really a thing but we will make it like this
2 tbsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Poppy seeds
in a tbsp water for 30 mins -- to 1 hr

Make a paste of
the mustard + poppy seeds
2-4 fat clove of garlic (depending on how potent your garlic is)
1 medium tomato
2 green chilli
1 tbsp Mustard Oil
salt to taste
with a splash of water if needed

Pre-heat oven to 275 F. I have used a counter-top toaster oven for this dish so cooking time may vary with regular oven at same temp.

Grease an oven safe baking dish with few drops of olive oil (or any oil).

Arrange the pieces of salmon in a single layer

Next add the Tomato-Kashundi paste you made. Gently toss all of the fish pieces with the paste.

Chop a small tomato and arrange it on top of the fish. Add some slit green chili for color.

Drizzle 1tbsp more Mustard Oil if you want it more delicious.

Now cover the baking dish and put it in the oven. Set the timer to 30 mins.

After 30mins, the fish will be definitely cooked but the mustard paste will look little watery. If you are ok with it that is fine.
I want a clingy sauce. So I open the cover on the baking dish and put it back in the oven (lowered at 250 F) for 10-15 more minutes.

While serving add some fresh coriander leaves and few drops of Mustard Oil. So delicious.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kashundi Narkol Mocha -- Banana Blossoms with Kashundi and Coconut

Last week my Mother, who was visiting us over summer, left for India. Just before she left, I brought home a mocha as I wanted to practically see how it is prepped. Yes, I had never chopped a Mocha before this. Blasphemy!

Mocha in Hawaii

Mocha, banana blossoms is a favorite vegetable in Bengal. In fact in Bengal, a banana plant is much revered. During DurgaPujo, she is the designated wife of Ganesha and lovingly addressed as "KolaBou". The raw banana is another favorite in Bengali cuisine and kaachakolar kofta is high up in culinary ladders jostling with the likes of kosha mangsho. The tender core of the banana stems, the apparent trunk, is another nutritious vegetable favorite in Bengali cuisine. It is is called "Thor", not the Nordic God, but as impressive.The flowers of the Banana tree, Mocha, often served as Mochar Ghonto or Mochar Chop represent the very pinnacle of niramish Bengali ranna.

I had always shied away from cooking Mocha as I thought the chopping would be a difficult task. You see, chopping Mocha (banana blossom) in the seclusion of your own home, in isolation does not make sense. It needs a community to efficiently peel, remove stamen, and chop Mocha with efficiency and speed.

After this effort, I have realized that chopping 1 or 2 mocha is not that big of a hurdle and that amount of blossoms is enough to serve a family of 4. So take heart and go ahead.

I initially wanted to make Mochar Ghonto but I love some of those "kaala chana" in my mocha and I didn't have those. So I decided to make shorshe narkol mocha but was too lazy to grind the shorshe aka mustard paste. So use the bottle of Kashundi instead.


It is time for my Mother to leave for India and now I realize that I haven't done any of the things I had planned to do with her.
I did not jot down recipes or make videos of her cooking.
Instead I just ate the variety of food she cooked without thinking of a recipe, cooked for her, sat down with her every evening drinking copious amounts of tea, joined her in her hangout with her friends(my neighbors) ,watched movies and saregamapa on Zee Bangla with her, took a vacation together, argued, disagreed and restrained myself from interfering when she spoiled my daughters😜
And then I panicked!! Hey where are those videos I wanted to shoot? Where are the step by step photos of recipes?
My mom balked at me "Oi shob ami parbo na"( I am not doing any of those things).
Really Ma? You can cook kochuri for your granddaughters and not tell me how much turmeric you put in your Maacher Jhol? You know how important it is to measure a piece of ginger before you chop!!
My mom rolled her eyes 🙄 and walked away.
The only thing I achieved is getting her to demo -- HOW TO PREP A MOCHA ( Banana Blossoms )
This I needed for myself. Or Lord help me, if I ever buy a pretty looking #bananablossom and know nothing to do with it except put it in a vase or shove it up somewhere!!!
So here's the one and only video of my Mom instructing on #howtoprepmocha.
Statuatory Warning: Wear one of those plastic gloves unlike her and make sure you have lots of time to spare. 😅

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Easy Garlicky Chingri -- for Dugga Pujo

Durga Pujo is not a time to cook your own food. I mean ideally Ma Durga does not cook on these five days. Neither does Lokkhi, Saraswati, Ganesh or that Karthik? Maybe Baba Shib does, but then again I am not sure.So why should you , tell me?

And then if you do cook, who is going to eat it? I mean after eating bhoger khichuri at the pujo pandal, tons of phuchka just outside the pandal, egg roll on the left of the pandal, mutton biriyani only a few steps away from the pandal, fish kobiraji ordered by phone from the pandal, how will you eat the food cooked at home?
Thus it has been logically proven that there is ABSOLUTELY NO-NEED to cook during the Pujo days. QED!

But for us mere mortals, living away from such overdose of pandals, life is difficult.

Durga too understands our problem and mostly visits us only during weekends. During the week she is "chakki pishing and cooking dinner". Our relatives back home smirk at our plight and thank their stars that they did not go and get a visa stamped. They rustle their heavy silks, bite on their kashundi smeared fish kobiraji, pat their heavily powdered nose and lament, "Aha, ki koshto, Ashtami teo ranna korte hochche re?"

We look away from their kashundi-fied selfie, take deep breaths, think how claustrophobic the crowd in the pandals would make us feel and how all that phuchka can end in nothing good but gelusil and choan dhekur. "Jak baba, eikahnei bhalo achi", we reassure ourselves and contemplate on ways to make a mid-week Saptami dinner more interesting.

And then when the fall air carries with it a fragrance of wood smoke, we carelessly let our minds wander away to the pujo pandals of our childhood where amidst the heavy fragrant smoke of Dhuno, Ma Durga's face came alive with gorjon oil and after hours of fasting for anjali, steaming hot Khichuri in shaal pata doled out at the back of the mandap tasted no less than amrito.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What a Bittergourd Kismur -- on Independence Day

Tomorrow is India's Independence Day and all I can think of is I am in 3rd grade dressed in bottle green or khaki or some patriotic color safari suit kind of uniform, apparently like Subhas Bose, and standing on a stage with few more freedom fighters and not been given a single word to speak as per the script. I look almost like Jeetendra in a safari suit except that I also had to wear circular steel rimmed glasses like Bose and my hair was tucked under a cap.

And then came the calamity. Nope, nothing to do with Netjaji's politics. It was all to do with our Dhobiji actually.

That shirt had 5 medals pinned on it by my teacher, decorations like the INA military uniform. I thought they were gold. The Dhobiji cared neither for Netaji nor for his uniform.

Don't think his lot had improved in any significant way after independence. This was the early eighties.

Everyone in our neighborhood considered him as several caste lower and though they wore the clothes washed and pressed by him, they were acutely conscious of not indulging in any other touchy-feely relation with him. So much so, that my very staunch grandmother would instruct him to air drop the stack of freshly washed, ironed and folded clothes on the sofa, in fear that he did not touch any animate or in-animate object in our home.
Sigh!If I had someone delivering washed and folded clothes to my doorstep I would hug, kiss and even marry him right away.

So anyway, when that Jetetendra, oops sorry Subhas Bose uniform was sent to him to be washed and pressed so that I could return it in its pristine condition to the teacher, he did not pay as much attention to the medals and such. He was clever enough to know they weren't gold. The result of his nonchalance was that of those five medals one went missing. And my heart stopped in tracks right there. My heart was gripped with a cold, dismal fear just thinking what my very Catholic teacher in my very catholic convent school would have to say on this. The British were long gone but I was terribly afraid of my crisp English speaking teachers, with names like Mary and Bridgette, and who I was sure came from some foreign country.

I don't remember what exactly happened thereafter except that my father had to go and meet the teacher and blame the Dhobiji, who thankfully knew no English and so wasn't summoned to school. For the next few months my position as the teacher's favorite was upended by my other classmates and I moped and lived in fear and never looked forward to Independence day celebrations ever. I rather stayed in and watched the flag hoisting on TV.

And then many years later, I went and got married on Independence day as it was the last wedding day with the last wedding muhurta for the season as per the Hindu wedding calendar!!!

I am sure that no-caste Dhobiji had something to do with this. Or my Anglican teacher. 😜

The only word to describe this whole situation is KISMUR. Yep, "what a Kismur", sums it all up.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Nandini's Nolen Gur er Ice Cream -- No Ice Cream Maker needed

Nolen Gur Ice Cream

Over the weekend, we had some deep discussion with friends, who are trying to learn the intricacies of Vedanta.
They shared pearls of wisdom like

"we have to accept that we have no control over our or anyone else's destiny"

"that we need to identify with our atman as we ourselves are Brahman"

Needless to say, I did not understand any of it. I mean I do understand but I cannot really internalize yet. For that, I need to meditate, my friends told me.

And then we watched the Russia-Croatia match. Since the teams I was supporting with all my atman had already bid adieu from the World Cup, I had nothing at stake in this particular match. Even when the winner was to be decided by penalty shots, I kept calm, which is very unusual of me. I get riled by penalty shots and at the Russia-Spain penalty shoot out, I was literally hyperventilating. In contrast, during the Russia-Croatia penalty shoot outs, I was far more relaxed and gently rooting for Croatia. It helped me enjoy the game better as I had little expectation.

And that is when my friend said, that I should watch life like a "Russia-Croatia" match instead of "Belgium-Brazil" match. I should detach myself from the process, accept whatever is to happen and merely hover over life without having too much at stake.

This I kind of understood-- at least soon after the match. To detach myself from the process, not expect anything and go with the flow of life. I can strive to do the best but I have no control on the results

Nandini making Nolen Gurer Ice Cream

Like say, my friend Nandini. I have written about my friend Nandini, many times in this blog and also in my book. I guess I have never mentioned her by her name and always referred to her as N, but she has been omnipresent throughout the blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Salmon Posto -- Salmon in Poppy Seed paste

Salmon was not a fish I loved when I first set foot on the shores of this country. I liked neither the taste nor the smell. The very thought of ordering a salmon sent me into bottomless despair. "What is this country where the fish does not taste like Ilish or Rui", I would often cry, my patriotic heart wailing for fish from my motherland. It is always about the food and the fish, isn't it?

I was convinced that my husband's Bong colleague who had gone about the office inviting folks in what sounded like "Plish come to my house, I make pish for you" was actually referring to salmon.

But then the only salmon dishes that we had were in the restaurants, which then were very bland for my taste buds. I was also not fond of the skin-on-salmon and had no idea that I could request the fishmonger to take the skin off.

But we live and learn. We adapt. We love new things and then cannot live without them

Learning from friends, improvising and experimenting, searching the web. we have now found many delicious ways to eat Salmon. It is one of the few fish which adapts itself well to Bengali style dishes like "Shorshe diye Salmon", "Doi Salmon", "Salmon er paaturior even a Salmon kalia. Our Salmon experience improved for the better when a friend suggested to bake salmon at a lower heat than other fish. It keeps the fish juicy, he said. And by God, it did. It was so much better and moist when baked at 275F.

Salmon is one of our favorite fish these days and we have it often

A couple of days back I made a Salmon Posto. Rui Posto is something that my Mother makes. I love anything with Posto and so to give salmon a makeover, I made Salmon Posto or salmon in Poppy Seed Curry. You can use any other fish like Rui, Kaatla, Bhetki, Swai or Tilapia in this recipe too. The traditional way is to fry the fish before adding to the posto gravy but of course I baked my salmon.

Also do remember, anything with Posto tastes best with white rice, so though the photo has red rice on the plate, if you have white rice stick to it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Moumita'r Kochu Paata Chingri -- Colocasia Leaves with Shrimp

Moumita making her Kochu Pata Chingri
Today I will bring you a dish that  I had never had it growing up and my Mother never made it. Nor did my grandmother. 
But it is a Bengali delicacy and I have heard a lot about it mostly heard of  this dish as a speciality in a restaurant called Kasturi in Kolkata! Next time I am visiting india, I have to make sure I land up at Kasturi.

If you are still clueless as tow hat I am blabbering about , it is the famous #KochupaataBaataChingri or #KochupaatabhaapeChingri . We were on a scientific mission to nail down this dish which none of our Mothers had ever made and a couple of us had tasted it only once or maybe twice in their life. This project was very different from re-creating a dish from nostalgia. There was no recipe to follow either. Here we were re-creating something only from heresay. At least the cuisine was same and we had certain benchmarks to guide us like "shorshe baata" (mustard paste) or "narkol baata" (grated coconut). It would have been way harder if the ingredients had unknown tastes of "Yuzu" or "Katsuobushi"!

Our first imediment was our very little knowledge as to how to get Kochu Paata  I mean back home was I ever interested in Kocu? Err never ! The husband-man who is usually a "know-all" in these circumstances, said "kochu'r loti" is okay but no one ever uses "Kochu Paata" in  a Bengali dish!! We didn't pay much heed to him and the Kochu Paata problem was solved by Gujarati folks in town who use Colocassia leaves aka Kochu Paata to make Paatra. They guided us to the aisle in Patel Brothers which carries those leaves. 
Next it was my chef-de-extraordinaire friend Moumita who led the experiment. Now, she is the one who was making complex kheer kodomboss when I was barely getting my rice and egg curry right, so I knew the experiment was in able hands. "Chokh bondo kore bhorsha kora jaay" type. As in English, -- "Have full faith"
A few days back, one Thursday evening she called me to say that she had finally made "Kochu Pata Chingri" and  the result looked like a success, so she would drop off some for me to taste. Now by Thursday I have hardly anything interesting to eat at home and was planning to go out for dinner after Child 2's science fair. But Moumita's message was music to my ears and I shelved all plans, cooked a pot of rice and waited for dinner time. .
Her Kochupaata Chingri was delicious to say the least. Since I do not have the Kosturi benchmark to test against, I do not know how theirs taste but this one was awesome.

Next day, I sent the husband-man to scour aisles of Patel brothers and get "Kochu Paata". Then on a fine Saturday, I made the dish, following Moumita's recipe and tweaking on what she had created. She did the entire thing on stove top but after the initial few steps,  I put it in the oven bwhere I cooked it the same way I make "Chingri Bhaape".  The end result tasted very good though honestly we were yet to distinguish the taste of Kochu paata in it. But I am so glad that we did it and I don't have to wait a whole year to taste what Kochupata Chingri tatses like.

A big thanks of course goes to Moumita. And I hope we can get some time to bring a video of her famous Biriyani for you too.

And since I love to drool over kitchens and such, here is Moumita's gourmet kitchen. isn't it lovely?

And Ta-Da, here is the pretty Master Chef herself...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Robibar er Murgir Jhol -- Sunday Chicken Curry

Bengali Chicken Curry, Murgi r Jhol

Bengali Chicken Curry | Murgir Jhol

The Bengali Chicken Curry is the most simplest of Chicken Curries popular in Bengali homes. While the Goalondo Steamer Curry or Railway Chicken Curry has now gained popularity, those were not how chicken was cooked in most Bengali homes. This chicken curry recipe is the curry that millions of Bengalis in the 70's and 80's grew up with, their Mothers cooking this dish for lunch on lazy Sunday afternoons

A few months back I got an email.

This is exactly what it said


Apnake Jodi Bengali Sunday dupurer chicken curry ranna Korte hoy , family r jonno . Apni ki bhabe ranna korben ?

What is the best recipe apnar kache ? Kindly ektu information dile khub Khushi hobo .
(Didi, If you have to cook the Bengali Chicken Curry for Sunday lunch, how would you do it?)

At first I was a bit irked by this email. Not by the reader as I guessed he was a much younger guy and yet had not called me "Didi" and not Mashima !!. But you know how this "Robibar er Mangsho" has been done to death and restaurants now have it on the menu and folks who have no idea what "Robibar er Mangsho" means order it on a Wednesday night and eat it with naan and a bottle of chilled beer while watching "Didi No.1" on the telly.

It totally sucks the joy out of the whole thing. Honestly it doesn't really make much sense if you are cooking it on a non-Sunday or eating it at a restaurant or using your "food delivery" app like Swiggy to order "ek plate Robibar er Murgi dena".

As chicken slowly started replacing goat meat/mutton in the Bengali household's shopping list, due to affordability or being a leaner choice of meat, the Sunday Mutton Curry was replaced with a rustic Chicken Curry instead.

MurgirJhol, Bengali Chicken Curry, Indian Chicken Curry

Murgir Jhol | Bengali Chicken Curry

Tell me, what is a Robibar er Mangsho aka Sunday mutton Curry if not followed by hours of bhaat ghoom (siesta), bangla natok on Kolkata "Ka", and lingering turmeric colored aroma of a jhol on the tip of your fingers until Monday morning ? And most importantly, what is a Robibar er Manghso if not Goat meat!!!!

So this is what I replied

Eita trick question kina bujhlam na !!! Sunday to Sunday to exactly same hobe na. Eikhane ekta mutton er dilam. Chicken diye mostly ei rokom i kori, konodin moshla beshi, konodin jhaal beshi, konodin duto gajor instead of aloo, je rokom Sunday sei rokom jhol :-D
(I don't know if you are asking me a trick question. Whichever way you cook your chicken on a Sunday that will be your Sunday Chicken Curry!)

Bengali Chicken Curry, Murgi r Jhol

But then I cooled down. I realized the world has changed a whole lot since the times when we used to have meat only on Sundays. In the late 70's,  in most middle class Bengali families like ours, everyday lunch and dinner would be dominated by fish. And when I say fish, I don't mean Malaikari or Kaalia for dinner everyday. Simple fish curries with mustard paste or vegetables in season were the usual norm.

Now Sunday was a red-letter day as that was the only day that offices and schools were closed and so lunch would be a family affair. That was also the day when goat meat was cooked for lunch in most Bengali homes. Meat, in particular Goat meat, was not something we ate every day. It was both expensive and also considered a food rich for daily consumption. Chicken or Murgi was not cooked in most Bengali homes that had matriarch like my Grandmother's. She allowed goat meat but considered "murgi" foreign and so it was banned from her kitchen.

So mutton curry aka "pa(n)thar mangsho" on some Sundays(usually the Sundays earlier in the month soon after payday) was something we lived in anticipation for. By the sheer magic of being a rare and thus much awaited occasion, the Sunday Lunch of Meat Curry and rice took a special position in our heart.

Things changed a fair bit after "chicken" started being used widely in Bengali kitchens. Chicken was cheaper than goat meat, cooked faster, and so it could be cooked on any other day too instead of fish. Often on Sundays, goat meat was getting swapped with "murgi", making it a "Robibar er Murgi'r Jhol". It was not a recipe with unique ingredients, nor was it a heirloom one. It was just a chicken curry, cooked fresh with freshly ground spices, that was had with rice for lunch and led to long hours of siesta afterwards. Yes, the siesta part stayed the same.

As we became global and more connected, that humble chicken or mutton curry was pushed aside for what seemed more fancy names like "karahi gosht" or "chicken rezala" or "coq au voin". Meat wasn't special enough to be cooked only on Sundays any more. You could have it any time. If not at home then outside. And since we all know that familiarity breeds contempt, we didn't really bother about "Sunday Dupur er Mutton Curry" any more. Until that is we grew older and nostalgia struck big time. We didn't want to eat mutton curry whenever we could, we wanted to wait, to build up that excitement for we finally understood that
Happiness is not in getting something but in the waiting.

In my home here, we eat chicken a couple times a week. Strangely we eat mutton maybe once in a couple of months. On a Saturday or a Sunday, when I cook chicken or mutton I usually stick to that same age old recipe my Mother followed on her Sundays.Nothing extraordinary, no special ingredients. I also cook with a lot of jhol. My daughters call this "Weekend er mangsho'r jhol". For them, it is a curry that has potatoes and enough gravy to be mixed with rice.

Here's the recipe of Sunday Dupur er Chicken Curry for the next gen. After wading many waters and making onion paste, grating onion, blah, blah, I have realized the easiest and simplest recipe works best. After all, who wants to waste all of Sunday making Chicken Curry for lunch ?

I also use a Radhuni Meat masala, which my friend had got for me from a Bangladeshi store. It is really good. In its absence use any other Meat masala.

To read about the Sunday tradition and goat meat curry click here - Bengali Pa(n)thar Mangshor Jhol
Another simpler recipe from my Ma-in-law of a mutton curry -- Robibar er Mangsho'r Jhol

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bangla-fied Kashmiri Fish Curry -- that is how we roll

Bengalis eat a lot of fish. Growing up, I think we ate fish almost every day of the week. Not Fridays, because that is my Mother's Puja Day and not Sunday because that was the National Bengali Mutton Curry Day. But all other days there was fish for lunch and dinner. And not just one kind of fish. We could go a month without repeating the same fish actually -- mourala, magur, shingi, chara pona, tyangra, pabda, parshe, rui, katla, bhetki, ilish, chingri, the variety was endless. With each kind of fish the fish curry too varied. Crispy fried mourala, a dry dish of tyangra with eggplants, a soupy curry of shingi, pabda in a mustard sauce, fried fish with bhetki, malaikari with chingri --- ahh just the names make my mouth water.

In my home here, we eat a lot of fish too. Not always the fish that I would actually love to eat but mostly the fish that my girls love. I had never thought being a mother would involve so much of "Mother India" martyrdom but that is what has happened. I cook what the girls will eat rather than I want to eat, just because it is difficult to cook 3 different dishes. This means though we eat a lot of fish, it always hovers between -- salmon, bassa, tilapia or prawns. To add variety I try to cook these fish in different ways, grabbing recipes from far east, unknown west and anything in between.

When I saw a fish curry posted by Anita @ A Mad Tea Party on insta, a few months back, I knew I had to make it. Her photo was so alluring that I wanted that fish curry right then. I pinged her for the recipe and the true blue Kashmiri that she is, she shared her home recipe with details as to what to do when and what to substitute. The recipe was not on her blog yet and so there was no measurement.

When it comes to recipes, I trust a "home-cooked" recipe above everything else and so I took her recipe of Kashmiri Fish Curry as the guide and then "Bangala-fied" it. Which means, I added all those ingredients that a Kashmiri wouldn't but a Bengali would when she doesn't have Kashmiri suggested ingredients.

So instead of thinned tamarind water --I had lime juice, Ginger powder --was subbed with grated Ginger, and the Ver Masala -- was replaced with Garam Masala but Anita had suggested this. And then i added some fried boris or vadis as we do in a maacher jhol often.

The gravy had no onion, tomatoes and was a thin, runny gravy just like our Bengali jhol. But what made it taste different was the fennel. What a lovely flavor it added and the mild sour punch of the lemon juice was so very refreshing. We all loved this curry and I have been making it often.
I dare not call it Kashmiri as I respect an authentic recipe and I think I deviated quite a bit from the original. We will just call this Bangla-fied Kashmiri Fish Curry and rest our case.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Garlicky Tilapia with Milk and Lime

This is my friend K's recipe. I am not sure if he would like his whole name here so we will just leave it at K. This is a Tilapia with loads of garlic and bit of milk which he thinks he learned from a Italian Cooking show. When I saw the original video however I realized that this dish is more his creation than any Italian grandmother's. The addition of milk gives the dish a texture like my Mother's Dudh Maach, which the kids love, and then the garlic and green chilies take it to another level.

This dish can be served just by itself with some bread or with rice. We love it with rice like everything else.

Both K and I, have come a long way when it comes to honing culinary skills. There was a time 20 years back, when I had a reputation for frying cauliflowers by throwing them at the kadhai from a distance. Ahem, a considerable distance. Given that I was non-athletic and had hardly every netted a basket, the cauliflower throwing was a hit and miss affair. That I ever managed to make a "aloo-phulkopi" with cauliflowers in it, seems like a complex probability problem to me now.

K, has his own stories from the similar time period. His culinary experiments ranged from pressure cooking rice in milk to make "dooddh-bhaat" and making a dal-gosht that even the stray dog in their neighborhood refused to touch. None of that deterred him though and that is a good thing.

As you can well imagine, our friends still make fun of our amazing skills. But believe me, all that is a thing of the past. I have come a long way from those disasters. And same with K. Actually he is far a more adventurous cook than me and tries his hands at new technique and recipes all the time. He goes well beyond his comfort zone and every time we visit, there is a new dish waiting for us.

I pick up the ones, that my girls oooh and aah over. I know those are the ones I can pass off on weeknight dinners. I also make sure that I pick only the simple ones to try at home.

This Fish dish with loads of garlic, a touch of lime and then milk was what he made on our last visit. It was a simple dish, taking 30 mins max from start to finish.  The perfectly done fish in a pale daffodil gravy was as pretty to look at as it was to eat. You could have it with some bread or white rice. My girls loved it so much that I had to make it once we were back and since then it has become a fixed dish on the menu every week (until they tire of it).


Buy Tilapia Fillet. If You have got the bigger ones, I would suggest to cut it into two. I got the Tilapia Loins and they were slimmer than the filet.

This recipe serves 4 and I cooked with 4 Tilapia loins

Get a whole head of garlic, about say 12 pods. Either use a garlic press to press them or mince all that garlic. Garlic plays a important role in this dish so don't skimp.

We are going to make this Bengali hot, so grab a bunch(4-5) of green chili and chop them fine. If this scares you just use 2.

Start Cooking

1. Rinse and pat dry the fillet. Dust the filet with flour.

2. Season with salt and generous helping of fresh crushed black pepper on both sides

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Warm 2 tablespoon of olive oil and then add the tilapia fillets. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until pale golden and cooked through.

4. Stir in the minced or pressed garlic and the green chilies. I needed add little more Olive Oil. Move the garlic-chili around so that they cook in oil and become soft.

5. Add 1/2 Cup of water at this point. You are supposed to add white wine or broth, but we all just make do with water and it tastes fine.

6. Next goes in 1 tsp of lime juice, zest of a lemon and salt to taste. If you have added wine just check if you need the lime juice.

7. When the water bubbles and reduces to half, add 3/4 Cup of Milk.

8. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Add some parsley or dhonepata (I had neither). Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Serve with the sauce but we love it as a jhol with rice.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Sheem Posto with Kasundi -- Snow Peas with Poppy seeds and Mustard

I have this habit of switching veggies, concocting recipes, substituting one ingredient with another. So it is no surprise that I hardly ever buy sheem, which we never find fresh at our Indian grocers anyway. Instead I buy the fresh, tender, translucent green snow peas from the Asian Market and substitute it for sheem!

With those fresh, tender, translucent green snow peas...ahem, I mostly make Dhonepata Bata Sheem. That dish is so freaking good that I cannot even begin telling you.

The one time that I actually cooked with sheem, and made a Tel Sheem, was when a blogger friend Soma, who grows amazing vegetables, sent me a box of tender sheem from her own garden. Those were soft and buttery and one look at them and you would fall in love.

Recently a friend had made Shorshe Sheem and the husband-man loved it. With snow peas in my refrigerator I thought of making a "shorshe sheem" today. Only, I felt extremely lazy and did not want to soak mustard seeds and then make a paste of it. I also don't have the smaller Magic Bullet jar anymore and to make a paste in the bigger jar, I would have to make a larger quantity. Instead, I decided to make a "Posto Sheem with Kasundi". So there would be posto and kasundi from a bottle and it would taste as wonderful.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Salsa Fish -- when Mexican meets Bengali

I don't have a lot of time to write today. I had promised to post this last week but then last week was super busy like any other. So if I start writing, this recipe will never see the light of the published blog!!

A quick note to say, that this Salsa Fish is my recipe, mine and mine alone. So don't compare it to salsa fish of a mom from Tijuana or to your neighborhood TexMex restaurant. Maybe she makes it this way or maybe the restaurant makes it better, I don't know. I have never had it at any Mexican restaurant here either. The inspiration came from our very own tomato fish and of course salsa.

So I make a mean salsa and my salsa has tomatoes, garlic, cumin, jalapenos, coriander leaves, sugar and salt. And then a couple of weeks back I thought since I am already making this why don't I use this to make a fish. That is what I did and called it Salsa fish. It had gravy and tasted like maacher jhol that a mom in Tijuana would make.

I served it with rice, and loads chopped onions, tomatoes and some jalapenos.

Then again few days back I made a similar fish, but not much gravy. I also added green peppers. Same salsa as the base. This was a drier salsa fish.

This is when I saw my housecleaning lady had put up her dinner photo on her WhatsApp status and there were tacos and guac and salsa and all very authentic as the mother in Tijuana would make. Not the American tacos that on the border makes.

Inspired I assembled a similar dinner. Multigrain tortillas made the base. Rest all were already there, how we served it, changed the scene and country!! So if you want, you can serve the salsa fish that way too.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Nolen Gur Shooters -- for Ma Saraswati

So all this shooter-wooter was initiated by a single text. A text from a friend's little sister living in London.

Last month she sent me a message "BMdi, do you have a Nolen Gur er souffle recipe?"

Until that very moment I had no idea of any existence of "Nolen Gur er Souffle". A souffle as I know it is this --"A soufflé is a baked egg-based dish which originated in early eighteenth century France. It is made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert."

So would a Nolen Gur er souffle be an egg based dessert sweetened by Nolen gur or would it be a faux eggless version? I didn't know!

"How do they make it I asked?".
This particular young lady had earlier shared her secret malai kabab recipe with me and they were the very best, and so I hoped she would know this one too. (Will post that kabab recipe sometime).

"I don't know. Balaram Maullick has it," she replied back.

Since that day, I kept on thinking of Nolen gur er souffle. After a bit of research and since I wasn't sure if I should or should not add eggs, I finally decided on a mousse kind of recipe. After all a mousse -- a mousse is a soft prepared food that incorporates air bubbles to give it a light and airy texture-- is a close cousin of a souffle. The bonus point was mousse can get its foaminess from whipping cream and not always eggs. Perfect!

Now since I am a very lazy-bone, I found the simplest of all mousse recipes that needs only two ingredients. And then decided to jazz it up and serve them as shooters.

Now, Nolen gur or Khejur Gur is a very precious commodity for me. I don't get good ones here. My Ma buys them in winter and then saves some for me. She usually tries to send it through anyone who is flying to USA from DumDum Airport. Actually she did that more frequently earlier until folks stopped telling her that they are flying to USA. "Nope,  I am not flying to US. Jhumritalaiya has a new airport called JFK."

I use my limited stash very very judiciously. Birthday paayesh and such only gets to see my Khejur Gur. So I wasn't just going to make Nolen Gur shooters for my own pleasure. Nope. So I waited and waited for the right moment... and here its.

These Nolen Gur Shooters are Ma Saraswati's proshad tomorrow. I bet she will be very happy.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Poush Sankranti r Pithe

Pithe,is reminiscent of the times when paddy was harvested in the months of December-January and the new crop was celebrated by making dishes that used rice, date palm jaggery(khejur gur also collected in the winter months) and coconutPoush Parbon or Nabanno was a celebration of the new crop of rice, which was the mainstay for the then agrarian society. We have moved many years forward from those times where rice is now GMO and harvested multiple times and grated coconut can be found in the frozen aisles of grocery stores. Yet, we still take the effort to celebrate poush-parbon, in our home to honor those simpler times when we revered soil and its bounty, instead of taking it for granted like we do now.

Here is a collection of few sweets, desserts made around Poush Sankranti that I have blogged about in the past years. I have tweaked the recipes and modernized them for my own good. Ideally, the sweet stuffing for the pithes and patishaptas around this time makes use of coconut, khejur gur and milk. The crepes and outer coating of puli and pithe is usually made with rice flour.

Gokul Pithe -- My all time favorite among pithes!!!Small discs of kheer-narkol (kheer and coconut cooked together) are dipped in a batter and then deep fried. These fried discs are then dunked in sugar syrup. Mmmmm!!!

Pyarakia or Gujiya -- Not necessarily in the pithe category but when filled with a coconut and kheer stuffing these empanada style pyarakias do make the Makar Sankranti cut!

Nonta Pithe --  Dumplings made with rice flour and stuffed with sweet and savory stuffing of coconut or potato-peas for savory.

Rosh Bora -- small fritters made with Urad Dal and then soaked in a thin sugar syrup

Pati Shapta -- Crepes made of all purpose flour + rice flour filled with a kheer stuffing

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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Khichuri -- on a Snow Day

I would have never, ever thought that my first post on this New year would be a Khichuri.

Bengali Khichuri, Masoor Dal Khichdi

Bengali Khichuri | Khichri

There are many variations of Khichuri in Bengal, from the revered Bhog er Khichuri made with roasted moong dal and pure satwik ingredients to the Musur Dale er Khichuri which is made with red lentils and is flavored with onion and garlic to the Bhuni Khichuri which is a richer and drier version of Khichri

Yes, the Bong's rainy day picker-upper, their precious offering to Goddesses, their solution to all word problems, the heady mix of rice and lentils with spices and veggies -- the Khichuri.

The thing is I never got the whole brouhaha over this dish.
I mean, "Dude, it is just Dal and rice, why are you going so crazy 'bout it?"

It appears, not the Bongs alone, all of India is kind of crazy about Khichdi. In fact they are so crazy that they wanted to declare Khichdi as India's National food. Seriously? National Food? When you have so many better things like Ilish er Jhaal, Dim Kosha, Biriyani, Galouti Kababs, Aloo Paratha, Mysore Dosa to choose from, you choose Khichuri. Major eye roll!

But what can I say. My Baba is major Khichuri bhokto. He loves his Khichuri with dollops and dollops of Ghee and relishes it like no other. The husband-man is another big time Khichuri fan. Although unlike my Dad, who love his khichuris whether bland or rich, this guy loves a good khichuri.

Today we have been bombarded with what the meteorologists are calling the "bomb cyclone". It has been snowing since midnight, along with a lot of wind and it looks like we are in the middle of a snow desert. Schools have been closed and there is no way any one is venturing outside. So today I decided to make Khichuri for lunch. The only silver lining in that whole cloud of Khichuri was the omelette, yes the only thing that can redeem a Khichuri for me. I don't care for fries or labra. A nice Indian omelette with onion and green chilies is my only knight in shining armor when Khichuri is for lunch.

Unlike the Bhog er Khichuri which is made without onion and garlic and with roasted moong dal, this every day Khichuri is made with Musur aka Red Lentils and has its fair share of onion and garlic.

You can serve it with an omeltte, papad, some pickle like I did or with Beguni or Begun Bhaja

So, the thing is for a long time my Khichuri would never turn out right. You would think it is an easy-peasy thing to do but somehow mine always went wrong. Either the lentils were under-cooked or the veggies were over done or something. I eventually got it right but I figured there would be hapless souls out there who like me fail at making a Khichuri. For them, I even made a shaky video of this whole Khichuri making, holding my phone in one hand!