Thursday, October 31, 2019

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate chips and Chai Streussel Topping

Pumpkin Bread with Streusel Topping, Chai spices

I had never thought this day would come. The day we would make Kumro r Cake or Pumpkin Bread. Well, I had tried making one last year too but it had turned into a kumro r shinni. No Godmother could save it.

This year I decided to be prudent.

Instead of shifting through the million search results that Google throws up, the moment you type "pumpkin bakes", I decided to go with a recipe in one of the very trusted and authentic blogs "Smitten Kitchen". I have been  a fan of Deb Perelman's very un-staged kinda photos and delicious blog from way back, though I have hardly made anything as I am not a dessert person. But if I have to bake anything and she has a recipe for it, I will take hers above anyone else's.

I took her recipe of pumpkin bread but then I wanted a coffee cake like streusel topping. A spiced streusel topping in keeping with the season. So I made a streusel topping with some "chai masala" and it was so very good. Mmmm...good. Also please note, I had no idea that topping was called "steusel topping" until two weeks back!

Then LilSis, took over the recipe and became the chief baker in charge. She  also wanted chocolate chips. Now, if the chief-baker wants chocolate chips in her pumpkin bread, she will add it no matter what the recipe says.

LS's interest in baking reminds me of a story when she was 3 or 4 years old.

One day driving her back from her pre-school I had asked
"LS, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Bekaar," she had said confidently.

Assuming it was "baker" and have had seen her not interested in any baking so far, I was a little surprised.

"So what things do you want to bake? Bread, Cookies, cupcakes?" I wanted to get into the details.

LS had rolled her eyes and said, "Not that English Baker, I want to be the Bangla bekar*, the one who does nothing!!!"

* In Bengali, "the word "bekaar", means someone or something who is of no good.

That said, for this pumpkin bread mostly LilSis did the job, I helped. We baked 1 big loaf and 3 mini loaves of Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Chai Streusel Topping. You could do two 9x5 loaf pans with this measure. We shared some of our cake with friends and everyone loved it.

Halloween at our home is bit toned down this year. The High School junior has given up on Halloween and doesn't want to go trick or treating any more. The new middle schooler has a very basic costume, which her sister helped put together. She is going to be a blue M&M! But Halloween Day forecast shows rain all day so I don't know what we will do.

This Pumpkin Bread is our proshaad for Kumro Pujo aka Halloween this year.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Portuguese-Style Fish Stew -- on hump day

Portuguese-Style Fish Stew, Weeknight Dinners, Fish Curry Recipes
Portuguese-Style Fish 
There was a recent @nytimes article which asked 18 families around the world what they were having for a typical weeknight dinner. Almost all the families in that article were eating a dinner cooked at home!! Other than India and Peru (where there was a cook), in all other countries, the dinner was cooked by members of the family. I really found it very interesting as did Li'l Sis. i love to learn about other cultures and seeing what a family is eating gives me a peek into their world.
Yesterday on my FB page I asked a similar question -- Are you cooking dinner tonight?
82% of readers said, they were cooking dinner at home.
Though a small sample size, it gives me so much hope.💕
Inspired by the families around the world, I decided to cook something different last night and settled on a Portuguese style fish stew. I had Tilapia loins that were waiting in the sink, already defrosted. The Fish stew required just the basic ingredients and little effort. Right up alley on a Wednesday.

I followed a couple of recipes, one of which was from Washington post. Interestingly this tomato based stew has a Portugese + New England influence from the Portuguese immigrants. To it I added some of my own Bengali influence with Bhaja Moshla and lots of green chilies and coriander leaves.🤣

I cooked in a cast iron skillet and finished it in the oven, this reduced my active cooking time to about 20 mins. I loved this part about the dish, that it was so quick.

The dish came out really very good and I am adding it to my favorite weeknight fish curries recipes.

Portuguese-Style Fish Stew

Inspired by Washington Post -- Portugese Style Fish-Stew

What You Need

Tilapia Loins -- 4 Tilapia filet, each about 4oz, from Costco. Cut each into 3 pieces. Pat dry and then dust with salt-pepper.

You can also use fish like Cod or Bassa

Onion -- 1 medium or half of a large one. Chopped
Garlic -- 6 fat cloves minced
Tomato -- 2 large tomatoes chopped OR 1/2 Cup of canned organic no-salt added crushed tomato
Green Chili -- 4 slit and 2 chopped

Cumin powder (I used Bhaja Moshla) -- 1/2 tsp
Thyme -- a pinch of dried Thyme
Rosemary -- a pinch of dried rosemary
Red Chili Powder -- 1/2 tsp
Salt -- to taste

You can add some vegetables to this dish like I added diced carrots
Andouille sausage -- 2 cooked sausages chopped
White Wine -- a splash

Start Cooking

Preheat Oven to 350 F.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil a cast iron skillet.

Add the garlic and green chilies.

Once the garlic starts sizzling add the onion. Saute until onion is soft. 2-3 minutes.

Next goes in the tomatoes and carrots. Saute and then cover and cook for 10 minutes at medium heat. Tomatoes should not have any more raw smell.

Add the sausages and saute for a minute. You can add a splash of  white wine at this point.

Next add all the dry spices
Bhaja Moshla
Red Chili Powder
Salt to taste

Add the fish pieces, moving them around gently so that both sides are coated with the sauce and they are touching the bottom of the pan

Add round sliced lime, some more green chilies if you like it hot.

Now put the skillet in the pre-heated oven. Cook for 15 minutes. At the end of this, fish should be flaky and cooked.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with salad and brown rice.

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Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Dugga Dugga -- 2

"Ma, o Ma", a pretty young girl, with beautiful doe eyes, and shiny black hair stands in front of the bathroom vanity mirror with a worried look on her face. She is intently studying the labels on two identical jars, each containing some gooey black and green stuff that looks like face cream.
"Ma," the girl repeats again anxiously. "What do you think is better for my face? Dead sea mud and volcanic ash or Ashwagandha* and Ghritakumari?"
In absence of any reply, the girl hesitantly assures herself, "Ghritakumari* sounds so beautiful. I think this will be better for my complexion. After all, it is made in India. There is no other way to go with this product than fair and more fair."
She then carefully applies the greenish gooey, substance on her face, making sure that every inch of her face and neck is coated with the product.
"Ma, can we meet Ghritakumari, when we go to India this time? I think am her fan. I want to follow her. Is she on Insta? Does she do Tik-Tok?," Lokkhi makes a pouty face and takes a selfie.

The mother, bent double over her phone, her eyebrows furrowed, her ten hands flying across ten different apps, does not even look up.
"Didi, grow up. Think beyond your piggy bank and face mask. There is a whole Universe out there to explore before global warming destroys our Kailash," a fair and bespectacled young girl, marches in with a tall glass of emerald green juice, the color of the juice only a shade lighter that the green mask on Lokkhi's face.

She does not drink the juice however, holding it aloft like a statue instead, and keeps checking her phone every few seconds.
"Why do you keep checking your phone? Is your boyfriend going to call you?" Lokkhi suppresses a giggle beneath her masked face.
"Not BF idiot, IF" the fair girl murmurs, letting go off a very audible sigh.
"IF?" Lokkhi squeaks.

The Mother keeps tapping, her bifocals hanging off  the tip of her nose, beads of perspiration shining like drops of pearls right atop her upper lips.
"Intermittent Fasting re baba. Instead of only taking selfies, you should start reading your FB and WhatsApp forwards, Didi. IF is the range in US and India. Everyone is doing the 16:8".

"16:8 ?" Lokkhi squeaks again, just when the phone in Saro's hand starts beeping urgently.

"It's time, it's time. I did it, I fasted for 16 hours, " Saro jumps up, gulps her juice hungrily and quickly snaps into a squat position.
"Dhurr no weight loss with IF. What everyone needs to do is Keto instead. Good food. Lots of fat. Eat as much mutton kosha you want. And still have a figure like me," Kartik walks in with a smirk, pushes Lokkhi aside and flexes his muscles in front of the mirror.

Well, he deserves to be narcissistic.He does indeed look good -- tight muscles, gelled hair, trim mustache. Looks like that Keto or whatever he keeps doing works. Now, only if he tried a little and stopped looking at the mirror so much, he could have a job, even get some role in Bollywood.

While the two of them argue about IF and Keto and Lokkhi keeps taking selfies of her green face, their pleasantly obese, fat bellied brother strolls in with a Krispy Kreme donut-laddoo in hand. He doesn't look into the mirror and focusing on his donut says,  "If I do Keto, can I eat as much mutton kosha as I like? With Luchi or Mishti Pulao?"

Kartik shakes his head in disbelief and looks disdainfully at Ganesh's protruding belly. Ganesh ignores him and takes a bigger bite of his cream filled donut laddoo.

Tension brews in  #12 Kailash Drive. It's always tense and chaotic around here. You couldn't expect anything else with four adult kids living at home.


"Gonshaaa," the Mother's shrill voice pierces through all the arguments, "Eta ki sottiy? Is this true?" For a Goddess, she has a real shrill voice -- years of shouting at he worthless husband, her four kids and that Mahishasur has permanently raised her voice to a high pitch.

"What is true Ma?"

"That now back in my home, that "Bhuter Raaja dilo Bor" is a reality? Only instead of clap, you have to tap your phone and food arrives like magic?"

"Ahh, are you talking of Swiggy Ma? Or Uber eats?" Gonsha smiles benevolently at his Mother.

He loved them. Not mothers. The apps. They were the only reason he could survive all those la-re-lappa songs and intense arguments over Ganapati Visarjan for those 10 days in September. Biryani for dinner, Idli with gun powder for breakfast, Vada Pav or Khao Suey for lunch, and even his favorite Krispy Kreme donut-laddoo for midnight was pure magic.

"Sottiy tahole? Mandap e delivery korbe?**" Mother's face lights up with a 1000 watt smile. Finally there was something to look forward to after all that standing around in that weird pose for five whole days. She wasn't getting any younger and all that standing with a bent knee was taking its toll.

"No more of that Khichuri, labra everyday! Uff such a blessing." Dugga murmurs to herself.

Now she could have her favorite chilli chicken from Tyangra while posing at that ludicrously expensive pandal in Sreebhumi. She could order Beguni and Muri from Baagbazaar, waiting at Maddox square pujo pandal where no one seems to have heard of North Calcutta. The possibilities seemed endless. She should not forget the pack of Gelusil and Joan er Arok though, her digestion is not as good as it was ten years back

"And Gonsha, what is this? All these food bloggers are taking our recipes and posting them on Facebook, why re? Our Oshur doesn't even cook that well, why are they going crazy?" Dugga peers closer into the phone screen.

"Ei, don't complain about my cooking, free te ranna tar abar oto kotha," Oshur groans from the dining room.

"Plagiarism? Ke koreche? Let me get a internet lawyer. did they use our photos?" Saro jumps in and snatches the phone from her Mom.

"Thakurbari'r mangsho , Thakurbari'r Chholar' Dal, Thakurbari'r aloor chop, Thakurbari'r maggi..." she murmurs scrolling down the list.

"Thakurbari'r Maggi? That is my recipe. Mine. Totally mine" Lokkhi shrieks. "OMG, I am famous. They are copying my recipe".

"Uff Ma, you are too much. This is not us, not Durga Thakur. This is Robi Thakur, Rabindranath Tagore", Saro shakes her head in disbelief. How did she land up in this family of idiots? How?

"Ohh Robi? He rote such good songs, aha. He cooked too? I always knew he was multi talented," Dugga smiles fondly thinking of her favorite bard.

"Achcha Gonsha make me a list of what food to order in the Mandap. There are so many reviews of where to eat for Pujo that I am getting confused now. We have only five days and I am getting older, can't eat that much anymore," Dugga hands over the phone to Ganesh and finally sits back, relaxed and smiling..

"Dada, I kintu want phuchka with jhaal-mishti-tok water," says Lokkhi sliding up to Ganesh.

"I want momos Dada, and Hakka Noodles, but ask them to deliver before 5:30. I have IF", Saro picks up her books and stands behind Ganesh's shoulder.

Kartik shuffles his feet and meekly says, " Dada oi Shiraz er Biriyani ar Rezala, 2 plates, we can share. Biryani is allowed in my Keto."

"Ami vegan. For me, Dosa with coconut chutney only," groans Mahishashur from the kitchen.

Shib finally stirs up from the recliner and says, "Duto shingara, bonde ar ek cup cha".

*Ghritakumari -- Aloe Vera
*Ashwagandha -- Indian ginseng
**Sottiy taholeMandap e delivery korbe? -- So it's true! They'll deliver at the Puja pandal.

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