Sunday, April 26, 2020

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta -- made by Big Sis

Homemade whole wheat pasta

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

This was the 16 year old's first attempt at making homemade pasta from a recipe following allrecipes. It turned out to be delicious and if we had time, we would not go back to buying boxes of pasta again

Yesterday, someone in my neighborhood came back home, recovered from Covid-19. I didn't know him and so was even unaware that he was in the hospital. We only came to know when yesterday we saw there were balloons in his lawn and signs with "Welcome Home". There were car parades and honking, probably from his friends and colleagues.

Today as a neighborhood community, we all went in our cars with "Welcome Home" signs and drove in front of his house, honking and welcoming him back home.I don't know them but it felt very nice to be part of it. However it was scary too hear his wife's first-hand account of her husband's illness. And here he was a very fit person in his 40s, who had to fight for 3-weeks in the hospital and has to still use a walker when we waved to him today. I cannot imagine what it must be doing to at-risk individuals.
Sometimes I feel guilty sharing food and what we are cooking at home while a pandemic rages through our state, taking lives, making thousands of people sick.
Here is the thing, there are 2-sides to this story.
On one side there are the heroic frontline workers facing the pandemic, their families, the patients and their families.
On the other side, there are people depressed staying home, some not understanding the importance of social distancing, some not happy with online school, some in fear of losing income, some unable to travel to their loved one, some just wanting to get out and go shopping.

When I share stories from my kitchen, I hope someone in the second category will read and find some joy in staying home today. Maybe they will find a reason to get up and make a meal for themselves. Someone will see that the schools are doing a lot, that's enough education and it's good that kids have little more time on hand now.
Ours is not a story about great master-chef style cooking. It's more of finding joy in staying at home and cooking a meal for family. It does not have to be perfect to be delicious.
Today BigSis made pasta from scratch. She has been wanting to do this for a long time. Homemade Pasta just like the one we had in Tuscany. However her school workload leaves no time for such stuff usually. As a fallout of the pandemic the kids did get a little break and today she could spend cooking one of the things she loves.
Our first issue was we did not have enough AP Flour or Maida. So she had to look for a whole wheat Pasta recipes and she found one in AllRecipes which she followed.

She made the dough. We don't have a pasta making machine, so she rolled the dough by hand and cut her shapes. It was truly delicious 😋😋 .

She then used some of the dough to make ravioli. It was very impromptu ravioli with cheese+pesto filling. I loved the ravioli a lot. The kids thought the pasta was better than the ravioli.

I am sharing the pasta recipe that we did at home as well as videos. Hope this will help you make your own pasta at home

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Vegetable Fried Rice with leftover rice -- By Little Sis

Vegetable Fried Rice | Stir Fried Rice with Vegetables and Egg

Left over rice is stir fried with vegetables and eggs in this easiest one pot-meal to make a delicious fried rice

This Veg fried rice was a staple in our home with left over rice. I don't know how my Mother made the exact amount of rice for each meal but there were some of those rare days when she overestimated or we ate less and there was left over rice. Usually she would eat the left over rice herself the next day and serve us freshly cooked rice, a practice I vehemently protested against.

But then on some days when she had excess left over rice, she stir fried it with eggs and vegetables like carrots and peas to pack a fried rice for school lunch. How I loved that stir fried rice. I think it was one of the best school lunches in my childhood memory.

During this Quarantine, LS, the 11-year old has developed a sudden interest in cooking. It is usually her sister, the 16 year old who is the cook if me or the Dad are MIA and LS is the sous chef helping with chopping vegetables. She is a good vegetable chopper and often chops vegetables for me too.

But in the last few weeks, it is LS who has taken over lunch duties. Her online classes get over earlier than her sister's and so she keeps asking me if she can make lunch. She started with baking, then mac and cheese and today she made this fried rice with the leftover rice that we had. I took a video of her cooking to remember these precious memories.

It was delicious and though she made it for only the two of them, I couldn't stop eating. It is really a very quick, one-pot meal to make if you have leftover rice ready.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Quick Recipes for Covid-19 Lockdown and after

We have been in quarantine for just over a month now. And while some people have used this time to hone new skills, take masterclass, learn yoga, train for marathon, and become the next best chef, there are others like us.

Us as in me.

The ones who had dream in their eyes, a long list of things to do and learn and run and watch, at the start of quarantine but..... And there is huge BUT. But all that I have managed to achieve is multiple zoom calls and putting meals on the table. Oh also tweezing away a part of my eyebrow. I think I need at least 2 years worth of quarantine to learn anything. This past month was just spent thinking of the possibilities.

So, if you are the one who has been bogged down with work and lockdown and don't want to spend hours in the kitchen anymore, here are some easy recipes to tide you over. They are mostly quick and simple and  easy to make.

Quick Recipes for Quarantine and after

Bengali Khichuri -- Khichdi or Khichuri is the quickest one-pot meal of rice, lentils and vegetables to make. You can pair it with an egg or a papad and pickle or some fries and no meal is easier than this.

Quinoa and Samo Khichdi -- This one pot meal has Quinoa, Millets, Lentils and is protein packed as well as delicious

Bengali Congee or Phenaa Bhaat -- This is another very easy one-pot complete meal where rice and vegetables are cooked together and mashed. Top with some ghee or butter and serve with an egg or fried fish, and you have a winner

Kolkata Egg-Chicken Roll -- These are super quick to make if you have frozen parathas in the freezer. For healthier option, try these with Tortilla or Rotis.

Stir Fried Noodles - this is another favorite and easy meal to cook. You can add vegetables, eggs, shrimp or chicken of your choice.

Bread Pulao or Paurutir Pulao -- This is another of those dishes which can be a complete meal with your choice of vegetables and eggs

Doi Salmon in Oven -- This is our favorite Doi Salmon but this time done in the oven. This one is quicker and saves time. Some rice with this and you are set.

Coriander-Green Chili Fish in Oven -- Another easy and delicious fish in the oven.

Soy Sauce-Sriracha-Honey Salmon in Oven

Mixed all of these until it tasted just right
Sriracha +.
Chilli Paste +.
soy sauce +.
garlic paste +.
honey glaze.
 a drizzle of Olive Oil.
Basically just mixed all together until it tasted yum and then poured over the salmon and baked it at 275F for 25 mins. It came out really good. #salmonwithsrirachahoneychilli

Image may contain: food

Busy Day's Egg Masala -- This post tells you to make an all purpose-masala that will really help you on most working days. the egg masala that follows is a delicious one too.


Savory Crepes or Dim er Parota _- You can make these and then use any stuffing of your choice. We like it with a dosa aloo stuffing or a keema stuffing

Boiled Dal with Lime Leaves -- If all else fails there is always a big pot of Dal. A boiled Dal like this one is super simple and fragrant with Lime leaves. All we need is some rice to go with.

Phuchka -- And then of course if you can make a meal out of Phuchka what else would you need


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Monday, April 20, 2020

Doma Wang's Prawn Toast -- easy, quick delicious

Doma wang's prawn toast
Prawn Toast

I didn't know Doma Wang until last year. I knew she was from Kalimpong and her restaurant Blue Poppy was famous for its momos and chilli pork, but I didn't "know" know her.

Then last year on Mother's Day, I wanted to send my Mom some food from a restaurant in Kolkata. She was not able to venture out much due to her knee pain and I thought it would be a nice surprise. I also thought it would be easy with these apps like Swiggy, Zomato etc.

Guess what? I couldn't use any of them in India with my US ph#. At this brink of frustration came a very kind restaurateur from Kolkata. Doma Wang who owns a restaurant called Blue Poppy in Middleton row.

She messaged me on FB and took upon herself to deliver food from her restaurant all the way to my Mom's for Mother's Day Lunch..And the food was so delicious. My parents loved the garlic prawn balls, noodles, chili chicken and the momos.

Then last year when I visited Kolkata, on my wish list was to eat at her restaurant. However it did not work out. So I called her to ask if she delivered food. I was desperate to eat her famous momos. The day before I was to leave for the US, she sent me her famous momos and pork sapata. They were so delicious. The pork sapata flew across oceans with me, and the husband-man as well as the girls wre blown away by this dish.

When I saw her and her daughters cooking Prawn Toast during this Quarantine, I knew I had to make this dish. It seemed to be very easy and if it was her recipe I was sure it would be delicious. So last weekend, I made these delicious Prawn Toasts at home. The perfect snack with a cup of tea. I am definitely going to make this as starters for parties too.

It was super easy to make. Just my kind of dish.

Easy, Quick and Delicious

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Kolkata Mishti Doi -- Bengali sweet yogurt

Mishti Doi | Misti Doi | Mishti Doi Recipe

Kolkata's Mishti Doi | Laal Doi

Mishti Doi is a sweet yogurt that is very popular in Bengal. The yogurt has a reddish tinge due to simmering milk for a long time and caramelizing sugar. This recipe gives both an oven as well as a non-oven version to set the doi.

In my childhood, Kolkata was the land of two kinds of "doi" or yogurt.

Tok doi -- the regular tart yogurt, white in color, which we always had with a sprinkle of sugar and the only kind available where we lived.
Mishti Doi -- a reddish tinged, sweet and creamy yogurt served in small earthenware cups. This was only available in Kolkata in those days and was high on the list of our things-to-eat during our annual visits.
Some people called this "laal doi" or red yogurt because of the reddish tinge. Some stores went all fancy and branded it as "Payodhi". My Baba was a huge fan of this one and since we didn't get mishti doi where we lived, he had it almost every day during our Kolkata visits.
But still basically two types of yogurt.
Last year, when I went to Balaram's outlet in MishtiHub, I was confronted with myriad varieties of yogurt. There was "Kheer doi" , "Aam or Mango Doi", "Baked Doi" (which seemed to be bhapa doi) and then our "Mishti Doi".
This was all very good but the "Mishti Doi" was white. I mean no reddish tinge ar all. White as if it was washed in Surf Excel!! I squinted and looked at it from all angles but it looked nothing like that "laal mishti doi" of my childhood 😩😩. (It tasted very good though).
I even asked the servers at the store about the color, and the young men gave me weird looks and said "Mishti Doi has always been white".

Now for me Mishti Doi is always reddish with a caramel tinged color. It is said that the original Laal Doi attributes its origin  to Nabadwip's Phasitala, and Kali Ghosh. Kali Ghosh and Hari Ghosh were two brothers, who used to make curd and whey. They would boil buffalo milk and let it simmer in a gentle fire for a long time, to thicken and condense it. The milk took on a reddish tinge as it simmered and thickened. This milk was then sweetened and used to set Yogurt. Later the store bought Mishti Doi always had a layer of dalda or some kind of fat reddish in color on the top. It was really delicious!!

When I saw this reddish colored Misthi Doi made by a friend last week, I knew I had to make it. However I got the red color by caramelizing the sugar.
I basically used the same recipe as I have for my Bhapa Doi but I used caramelized sugar instead of Condensed milk. Also this was not bhapa so there was no steaming. I did not do the water bath in the oven that I do for my bhapa doi. Instead I kept the oven temperature low at 200F and kept this yogurt to set in the oven for 2 hrs. A lower temperature and longer time is better.

Few points to Note:
1. I used Evaporated Milk in this recipe so my process was fairly quick and easy. If you are using Whole Milk, you have to reduce the milk.
2. My sugar got caramelized a little bit more. I should have stopped a few secs early.
3. I think adding 2-3 Tbsp of Condensed Milk would be more to my taste for this Mishti Doi.
4. This tastes best chilled for 3-4 hours.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Shubho Naboborsho -- শুভ নববর্ষ 1427

Poila Baishakh or the First Day of the Month of Baishakh is the first day of the Bangla Calendar. This is the Bengali New Year and is celebrated amongst Bengalis in a much festive manner. According to the Gregorian calendar it falls on April 14th or April 15th, this year it is April 15th. This is the New Year for both BanglaDesh and West Bengal.

The Bengalis usher in the New Year with a lot of festivities importance being given to cultural functions, and food. The day is started off with visiting the temples to seek blessings for the New Year but this is not a religious festival and Puja is not the mainstay of this day. Though for businesses this is the day to begin their new accounting year and so this group of people offer Puja and seek blessings to begin the year with a new accounting book called halkhata. With all the new accounting software I don't know what they do, maybe open a new fresh account or something.

Surprisingly as far back as I go, I remember Poila Boishakh as always a school day. It usually fell bang in the middle of a week with school, the same uniform and homework as usual. Naboborsho evenings however were different. They stood out from other school days.

This is how it usually went. We came home from school and something extra special was always cooked for jolkhabar. We had to quickly finish homework to shower and then put on the new summer dress that was bought for Poila Boishakh. And then we would visit the temple and the local Bengali community program for the cultural program that our town had to offer. That was important for my parents. My Ma in her fresh new Tanter Shari with that crisp smell that only such saris can have and my Baba in his starched Pajama and Punjabi would sit there engrossed in the Rabindra Sangeet being sung. I would be thoroughly bored and look around for familiar faces of my friends who would be equally bored.

We would then stop at the shops where my parents were loyal customers and this part was more fun because it involved gorging on great food. Almost always we were offered a bottle of cold drinks, a much coveted affair in those days, a rolled up calendar and a cardboard box tied with a string and filled with sweets and shingara. By the end of the evening, we had collected at least 4-5 boxes from the stores we stopped at. Though dinner was definitely something special cooked by Ma, I don't remember having any. I would focus more on those boxes we had brought back from haalkhata.

As I grew older, April was a month of final exams and so there was less time to accompany my parents to any program or stores. That is when I remember staying home and gorging on the  Pulao, Doi Maach and  Mutton Kosha that my Mother made.

That's how our Notun Bochor celebration was, with a simple new dress for the summer, some Rabindra Sangeet and delicious Bengali food. And of course the postcards we had to write and send out to all our relatives, wishing them "Shubho Naboborsho".

If I had to pick some food that I would love to have for Poila Boishakh, I would stick to the basic, no-nonsense Bengali dishes from my Mother and which I can make in my kitchen easily.

Start with one of these as a jolkhabar or snack

Vegetable Chop

Fish Chop -- Maacher Chop


Cleanse your palate with something bitter, something other than Shukto. Like this Uchche Begun

For our greens we will either  some Radish greens sauteed with Kalonji and green chilies or the Great Bengali Paata Baata which my girls love

Mulo Shaak -- Radish greens

The Great Bengali Paata Bata

We will then have some Tetor Dal with Lauki and bitter gourd because it seems perfect for these times
Tetor Dal

With a side of Potol Posto because what can be better than Posto for New year

Potol Posto

We will then straight go onto the Fish and pick two or all of these.

I have chosen Muri Ghonto, if you have a spare fish head in your freezer; the Kaanchalonka Dhonepata Fish with lots of green chilli and coriander because its so easy and delicious;a Maacher Jhuri -- an easy dish that can be done with any little fish that you have; a spicy Tyangra Maacher Jhal Charchari; a Doi Salmon because its so easy to make; and a Chingri Malaikari because you can always make this with frozen shrimp too.

Muri Ghonto 

Kaanchalonka Dhonepaata Baked Fish

Maacher Jhuri

Tyangra r Jhaal Charchari

Doi Maach with Salmon

Chingri Maacher Malaikari

We will skip the meat and finish off with a Mango Chaatni or a Pineapple Chutney

Kaancha Aaamer Chaatni

Pineapple Chaatni

And go straight to Dessert where you pick any one of these depending on what you have in your pantry

Bhapa Doi

Paurutir Rasmalai -- Shahi Tukda

Nolen Gur er IceCream

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Narkel Posto Bora -- inspired by Mitan Ghosh

Narkel Posto Bora, Postor Bora
Narkel Postor Bora

esterday I got a delivery slot from Costco on Instacart. Yessss!! Never thought things like this will give me so much joy.

If a month ago to this day, you would have asked me what was the greatest accomplishment in life? I would have fumbled. Now I know the answer. Getting a delivery slot on Instacart after trying for a whole week! That is my major accomplishment.

The husband-man is kind of the nonchalant types and is ready to go to Costco once a week at least. During this quarantine he misses Costco the most I think. More when he is stuck at home with all of us all the time. However I don't want to go out in the next two weeks since our Governor keeps saying that cases will peak in our state in these two weeks. Honestly, I don't think anyone knows the correct model that predicts the peak but given that we have been in lockdown for 3 weeks now and the curve hasn't flattened, this better be the peak!

So I am trying to get essential grocery items home delivered and it has not been easy. Delivery slots are never ever available and harder to get than winning a lottery.

However I am not going to complain about this lockdown at all. It has given me time to relax a little both mentally and physically. We are also connecting with friends a lot over Zoom and Hangouts. We even celebrated our favorite twins' 14th birthday over Zoom.

We have had  Virtual chai time with the neighborhood ladies on Zoom, each with our own cup of chai in our own favorite corner.
No one had to make 8 cups of chai or wash all those cups or clean house before guests were coming😂😛
We have even had Zoom morning meetup with college friends from different parts of the world which has not happened before because weekends are always busy.🤩
Every day now, I have the time to video chat with my parents 2-3 times a day. 💕
LS's Bharatanatyam class with 14 others girls and teacher is via Webex. I don't have to drive her to class and I can now watch her dance😍

We had enough time to watch movies like Tootsie, Murder on the Orient Express, Wajda  so far🎬. Not many but this is a rare occasion in my home. The four of us hardly have time together or if we do, each wants to spend that little free time doing their own thing.
The girls are baking and even cooking a lot, making lunch for themselves almost every weekday. Lil Sis has become quite the baker with her steady supply of banana muffins for our breakfast and is often seen making pasta for lunch during the week.
I have never had better weekends!! And never as connected as with social distancing in place!
This is a difficult time indeed and my prayers for all who are suffering. But for others, whose only fallout of the pandemic so far, is quarantine, we really have NOTHING to complain about.

Now today I made these Narkel Posto Bora aka Coconut Poppy seeds fritters after drooling over my friend Mitan's photo of the same. Mitan is a talented designer and also an amazing cook. Every day of this quarantine she has been luring us with her food.

Since Posto is nothing but Xanax for us Bengalis, I finally gave in and made these following her recipe. Since I am running low on Posto, the addition of coconut was a very welcome idea. These are so good and makes you feel so happy, that you will exude positvity when you make them

What You Need

Grated Coconut -- 1 Cup (we get frozen grated coconut. I have defrosted and used that)
Poppy seeds -- 1/2 Cup

Green Chilies -- 2-3 chopped fine
Kalonji/Nigella seeds -- 1/2 tsp

Maida/AP Flour  -- 2 Tbsp

Mustard Oil -- 2-3 tsp

How To make the Paste when you have a good mixer

Soak the Poppy seeds in little water for 10-15 minutes. Strain the poppy seeds

In the mixer jar add
1/2 Cup of Poppy seeds with a little water
Make a paste

Add grated coconut to the above. Now blitz to make a fine coconut+ poppy seeds paste

How to make the Paste when you only have Magic Bullet which is not working at its best

Bring out the Coffee Grinder, 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.

Transfer the powder to a bowl. Make sure it's not too grainy.

Add approx 2-3 Tbsp of water to this powder and try to make a paste.

Now in your Magic Bullet jar, add 1 Cup of grated Coconut. With a splash of water make a paste.

Add the Posto/Poppy seeds paste to the Magic Bullet Jar and blitz to make a Coconut-Poppy seed paste.

Now make the Bora aka Fritters

The paste will look a little runny. There is no way you can make bora(fritters) with them. So add a little Maida/AP Flour. Depending on how much water you added while making the paste, you might need Maida anywhere from 2 tsp to 2 Tbsp. Mix well.
Note: If you happen to have a good mixer or a sheel or anything where you can wet grind the posto to a fine thick paste, you might not need the flour.

Next add the chopped green chilies, kalonji and salt to the Coconut-Poppy seeds paste

Grease a flat pan with few drops of Mustard 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.

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Thursday, April 09, 2020

Quick Chili Paneer - by Big Sis

Chilli Paneer
Quick Chilli Paneer

ay before yesterday, the weather being very nice, I was out in the backyard in the evening, close to the flowering trees. And then I don't know what happened. Boom! my eyes started swelling up and before I could say, "Hold on", the skin around my eyes got all puffed up, making my eyes squished inwards and tiny!!  I could not recognize myself even if I knew I was the same person. Had I committed a murder, this would be the perfect alibi. But too late. I hadn't.
I was not bitten by an insect. Not even unknowingly. There was no pain. Just the swelling. I figured it was an allergic reaction and I do have pollen allergies which usually manifests itself in sneezing and sinus, but this eye thing was new. The husband-man and friends suggested I see a doctor but in these times, going out to a doctor's office is as much as an risky adventure as swimming across the Atlantic ocean. So I did neither.

Well, I could have opted for a televisit but then I really don't think the doc could do anything except suggest cold compress for my eyes and allergy medication, sitting remotely in the comfort of her own couch.

 So with my almost shut eyes, I looked up my symptoms on the internet and found that it could be something that could make me "DIE" in the next thirty years or it could be allergies. I went with the latter.

I have been on Zyrtec, a little of Children's Benadryl since then and putting ice on my eyes like a maniac. Yesterday I looked very Asian, not South-east Asian. My daughters said I was being racist but I am just trying to describe how I looked. I was also wearing sunglasses all the time and listening to NPR's moth hour instead of watching TV or reading books.

Today I look a cross between South-east Asian and Asian. So my eyes are coming back to normal, albeit slowly.

Since I was all  drowsy and almost blind, Big Sis made dinner yesterday. LS helped her with chopping. They both together made a Chilli Paneer and a Fried Rice which was so delicious that I wish they made dinner more often.

This is a Chili Paneer recipe we use often in our house. It's very quick and simple. I am not sure if BigSis followed it fully. Like any good cook she deviates from recipes and I am proud of that. Please take your liberty and do as you like. The result will be delicious.

What You Need

Onion - 1 medium chopped in thick slices
Green Pepper - 1 chopped in thick slices
Garlic - 4/5 minced
Green Chili - 2 chopped

Paneer - chopped into cubes

Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar -- 1/2 tsp
Corn Flour -- 1-2 tsp

Vegetable Oil (or Sesame Oil) -- 3 Tbsp for cooking

To make the Sauce

Soy Sauce -- 2 Tbsp
Hot Sauce (Sriracha or any other Red Chili Sauce) -- 1 Tbsp
Maggi Hot & Sweet - 1 Tbsp
Green Chilli Sauce -- 1 tsp
White Vinegar -- 2 Tbsp
Mix all of the above to make this sauce. Taste and adjust for anything you feel is missing.

Here's how we Do It

Warm Vegetable Oil in a frying pan/saucier/Kadhai

Add the paneer pieces so that they are in one single layer. Sprinkle a little red chili powder, salt and sugar. Fry the paneer pieces so that one side is golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

To the same oil add the minced garlic.

Once you get the aroma of garlic add the onion and saute for a minute. Add the green pepper. Increase the heat to high and saute onion and green pepper until they are little soft.

Next add the sauce and mix. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the paneer pieces and toss with the sauce

In the bowl that you mixed the sauce add 1/4th Cup of water and 1-2 tsp of corn flour. Mix well. Add this to the frying pan and let it come to a simmer.

Adjust for any seasonings needed.

Serve with fried rice.

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Monday, April 06, 2020

Pasta Mexilian Bolognese -- or 3 ways to use the same dish

In the face of increasing number of deaths in New York and New Jersey, my lament about grocery stores sounds petty, There are many people getting very sick, there is an army of doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers tending to those that are very sick and getting sick themselves, there are the grocery line workers, the mailman, the garbage guy all risking their lives and out on the street while all I can complain about is going to a grocery store.

I am eternally grateful that we are able to stay home safe and so far doing okay. The little we can do to help flatten the curve is -- stay home and that is all we are doing. Thank you Google for this beautiful doodle thanking healthcare workers and researchers in the scientific community.

I had written this last week to remind me many years later how our day-to-day simple chores like grocery was impacted by the coronavirus.

It is now the 16th day that I have been home and except for groceries once in 8-10 days, or a quick walk around the neighborhood, we have not ventured out anywhere.

Grocery shopping itself has become a nightmare.

Before going to the store, we have to wear masks, gloves, sunglasses.

Then on reaching the store have to wipe the shopping cart down with a disinfectant wipe.

After hauling all the grocery home, is the biggest task!

For the fresh vegetables, I got 2 weeks back,I had washed them and left them out in the sun. I chose a particularly sunny day to do grocery. If I had a Benimadhab Shil er Panjika (a Panchang) I would have consulted that too! I don't intend to buy Vegetables again.
The non-perishables I keep in garage for 72 hrs.

The perishables like milk, meat etc has to be brought inside. Also the frozen stuff. This means more work.
I try to wipe down the bags and then when possible transfer the contents to another bag before putting in freezer finally.

At the end of this whole ordeal, I never want to go back to a grocery store again! Seriously.

Yesterday I went to Costco and it felt I was living in a dystopian novel. Costco has restricted access to only 30 members at a time inside the stores, so it was pretty empty, none of the usual rush. Every person was wearing a mask and gloves and moving around silently, picking up their groceries. No samples. No one peddling Vitamix. The check out persons were all behind a plexi glass shield and the usual happy faces were missing.
The employees were managing the social distancing very well though including the checkout lines. Pretty impressive.
Since we are all staying home, the kids do not have their after school activities and I do not have my grueling daily commute anymore, I do get more time to cook meals during the evenings. Even then it always helps if I can cook one dish and re-purpose it in different ways over the week. That way everyone gets to eat something new and yet I can ration pantry ingredients. Also my efforts in the kitchen are halved.

This dish is one of those which can be very easily serve many purposes. The primary purpose is of course the sauce base for one of our favorite Pasta dishes.
This pasta is my take on Bolognese. But it's Mexalian Bolognese 🤣, like Italian + Mexican!
First I make a chilli with ground chicken, canned tomatoes, garlic, onion, peppers and taco seasoning. Also some good old bhaja moshla and kashmiri mirch.

This chilli is then used used in 3 different ways.

1. First as a sauce base for Pasta. Our favorite Pasta Mexilian Bolognese

2. Second on a Roti or a Tortilla topped with avocados and onions. Or on a crepe made with millet and oat flour

3. Third you can make an empanada or a chicken patties like I did. I had puff pastry sheets and I used those