Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rui Lau Exotica

For last few days I have been packing and packing only and still there is so much yet to pack. I tell you, you should not waste money after buying clothes. They are useless. They don't have any resale value and after few years, they lie abandoned, buried under piles of other clothes. If you are to shift houses or places, the big headache apart from furniture are the clothes. Just buy clothes as per your need and wear them out before spending money on new ones. 

I was a bit shopaholic by nature, specially immediately after my marriage, the way I went into a shopping frenzy often, the money spent would have bought me another new car. Last time when we packed our stuff and shifted to Bangalore, I left behind at my home two big trunks full of clothes. I received tongue-lashing from my mother but since I have always been an unruly child, I hardly paid any heed to her years of wisdom. As they say few people learn by peeing on the electric fence, same goes for me. I don't take any lesson to my heart until I make mistakes and forcefully learn.

Now that am again shifting, packing clothes and segregating them - for use, for dumping at home and for donating to an NGO are a herculean task. I wish I would have known that shopping under the influence of madness entails a side effect of this measure :(

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Semolina Dhokla

I have never tried the original dhokla so far, but the semolina dhokla that I recently attempted came out successfully. Feeling really encouraged to try some other variations of dhokla. I plan to make some time out for it once this hurly burly over packing luggage and shifting get over.

Chicken Corn Soup

Today is Saraswati Pujo. Even few years back before shifting to Bangalore, I used to actively partake in the celebration and merriment surrounding the pujo. Saraswati being a goddess of education and academics, many schools and colleges in West Bengal observe this pujo religiously every year amid a lot of pomp and splendour. Since I was serving as a teacher in a school then, I had to stay involved with a host of things starting from decoration to catering food to students. Besides academics, Saraswati pujo holds its attraction among students and youngsters for another reason. All the women and young girls, on this auspicious occasion, drape the 12 yards of sarees looking their prettiest selves. Naturally, romance takes on the air with lot of young people choosing this occasion to express love for their beloved.

When I was young, I used to start pleading to my mother for allowing me to wear one of her gorgeous sarees months before the pujo as we all girls wanted to look our best on this special day. With all the books and papers amassed in a heap in front of the idol, we after offering our prayers used to indulge in the mighty 'pet puja' that followed with khichuri, labda, narkel nadu and many such traditional delicacies.

Now in Karnataka, hardly any trace of pujo is felt anywhere. The noise created by the loud music in different pandals heralding the arrival of yet another occasion to celebrate, the clamour of young boys and girls, an array of delectable cuisines on offering to the deity, getting together with friends and family in rejoicing the feast...all are missing here. On special moments like this, I miss being in Kolkata a lot.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mooli Paratha - Radish Paratha

Why the hell wherever you go these days for shopping clothes or cosmetics, a host of sales girls or boys throng around you to shove a product of exorbitant price into your hand. Three or four years back when I was younger and naive, I used to buy their words and influenced by them would end up buying things I was not actually looking for. Fallen in the trap of their sugar-coated coaxing words, I had squandered some precious hard-earned money after things I didn't use later or was not willing to buy in the first place.
Now that I have become smarter than before, whenever I see a sales girl or boy trying to cajole me into buying things against my wish, I listen to them patiently, sometimes, and then refuse saying "out of my budget," or else I smilingly brush them off saying “I can choose my things on my own. Thank you."
But what will you do when you join a slimming centre to reduce weight within a limited time and you feel hackled within less than a month by a group of marketing managers who arrange a session of 'talk' with you and bore you for hours trying to sell this and that slimming package. Interestingly, they would not give any hint of these mandatory additional packages at the time of your purchasing a membership there. It's after you become a member and thus show your genuine interest in shedding weight that they try to impose extra packages on your sleeve. So irritating.

I enrolled myself in a so-called famous slimming centre some years back. After few sessions with them, they started arranging a couple of meetings for me with their manager, almost every week, who would literally force me to buy this and that package saying my body won't show any improvement unless I take the additional package along with the original one. Buckling under pressure, I bought one or two additional packages also, but still found no improvement in the result. Besides the slimming centre they also had a beauty parlour under their name and one day I don't know what went wrong with me, I visited their parlour for doing my eyebrow. Seconds later I realized my mistake when the boy started to show more interest in criticising my skin than doing my eyebrows and tried to sell some beauty packages. I don't want to sound boastful but yes I always have received praises for my skin from my friends, relatives and from my hubby for it being flawless and without blemishes. Someone picking flaws in my skin was a new experience and that it was done intentionally to shove some products down my throat annoyed me most. Afterwards I felt so disgusted by their coaxing and overall money-fleecing ambience of the centre that I stopped visiting there.

I guess if you really want to reduce weight, go for gym or aerobic classes rather than joining a slimming centre which makes mouthful promises in the beginning but later sucks you into a vortex of sinister hard sell.


Croutons are small cubes of rebaked breads that are seasoned with spices and used as an accompaniment to different salads and soups. I love my croutons with choco mousse too. In fact, whenever I make a jar of croutons, me and my hubby both taking our turns eat them while watching TV and it all gets polished off within a day. We are one greedy pair!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Alu Gobi Paratha - Potato Cauliflower Paratha

I watched an interesting programme on TV today. It made a statement that "happy thoughts lead to a healthy body." and "Depressed and angry thoughts lead to an unhealthy body and reduced immunity." So anyone suffering from any chronic illness or some sort of physical pain has been advised to keep a check on their thought pattern as thoughts generate certain chemical reactions within our body which consequently lead to either serenity, peace, energy or high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
Unfortunately, happiness or unhappiness rests on circumstances. We mortals don't have any power to control circumstances in our favour. Unconsciously, in times of unhappiness, rage or depression, thoughts relating to the goodness of health take a backseat and we tend to ignore our health. I doubt if anyone suffering from any toxic feeling like depression, anger prioritise health over their misfortunes or not. But I believe when we cannot change our circumstances, we can at least make an effort to channelize our negative thoughts into a positive act of creativity or doing something we get pleasure from. This way our mind will remain engaged and will have less time to brood on failures or emotional baggage.
As far as myself is concerned, whenever I feel a heavy feeling bogging down my spirit, I try and try my best to get over the feeling by occupying myself with something I really enjoy doing, like cooking, stitching and beading. I tell you hobby is so important a thing to cherish in life.

Back to the recipe, parathas are my all-time favourite snack items. Contrary to the convention, I don't take parathas at the breakfast cause I find them heavy for breakfast. I rather prefer them on dinner, simply because they are easy to make and I hate going to bed feeling heavy in stomach. Parathas, for me, are ideal for dinner.

So whenever my hubby, drool-eyed, asks me to cook something of his favourite, I prepare parathas cause he relishes them delightfully. In case if you have read and enjoyed the recipe of aloo paratha, you must try out the following paratha too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Begun Methi - Eggplant with Fenugreek Leaves

My mom in law being a heart patient follows a strictly regulated diet. She used to weigh over 80 kg when she developed the heart ailment, with work and home related tension & anxiety playing havoc with her health. In a bid to reduce weight she cut down on her food intake alongside compromising with her craving for non-veg dishes. She cooks an array of delectable vegetarian dishes and every time we visit Kolkata, she makes the effort to treat me with a variety of veg cuisines. Needless to mention, all are on a healthier side with less oil and spices. But keeping our tastebud in mind, she cooks them, going beyond her usual way, adding spices and oil required to make a dish tasty. I managed to learn a few of veg dishes from her.

The one written below I first tasted in her hand only. It is an awesome dish to start your meal with. Interestingly, Begun Methi has its Gujrati variation also the recipe of which I picked up recently from a cookery show, but that I will describe later. Meanwhile, enjoy Begun Methi cooked in a Bengali way.

Prawn Crab Toasts

During our Yercaud trip, the resort we stayed in regaled us with a string of lip-smacking dishes. The prawn toast was one of the culinary delights we savoured there to our hearts content. Inspired by the delicious prawn toasts, once we returned home, I tried emulating the same mixing prawns with crab meat to add my special touch. Needless to mention, my first attempt turned out to be a hit.

The recipe below is of a great dish to serve guests. No wonder it will win you scores of appreciation.

Rui Macher Do Piyaza - Rohu Fish Do Piyaza

Shifting places involves a hell lot of task. Packing the essentials, discarding the superfluous, selling or moving furniture....the list is endless. Being busy with doing the last minute packing and wrapping things up, I hardly get time to make an entry in my blog, but since lots are due and before my memory fails to remember the ingredients used in each preparation, I am trying to keep everything in record simultaneously.

Without wasting many words, let’s get straight with the recipe. You might have read through the entry on Mutton Dopiyaza in my blog, but Rohu Do Piyaza is a unique dish, competing neck to neck with its counterpart in terms of taste and quality. Definitely a must try for all fish lovers.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Penne Pasta With Crab Meat

I am not very good in giving names to my dishes. This task I usually assign to my hubby who comes up with catchy sobriquets to call someone's attention to a very simple concoction. After all, we first buy names before setting our tongue on it. So a good name is mandatory to attract people towards your culinary creations. However, the recipe that I am going to describe now does not require any strikingly bombastic name as the dish itself cooked with mellow crab meat infused with the flavours of assorted vegetables and some exquisite spices make it one of a kind.

Truly enjoyable, the crab mixture goes so well with the pasta that it will leave you licking your fingers.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bengali Aloo Curry

This is a very typical Bengali potato curry staple in almost all Bengali households. With a dash of minimum ingredients, this potato curry exudes an exquisite flavour that combined with luchi, puri or karashuti kachuri makes a fulfilling meal.

You might have read my post on karaishuti kauchri, if so; you might have noticed the curry featured along with it. Yes, this is the tastiest yet simplest of all potato curries I have ever eaten. Needless to mention, one of my favourite.

Karaishuti Kachuri

Karaishuti or motorshuti as we call it in Bengali is 'peas' in English. Traditionally, karaishuti kachuri is a very popular breakfast item in Bengal, but nowadays it has made its way into the evening snack menu. Some sweet shops in Kolkata sell this kachuri with a complementary mouth-watering potato curry. We have a string of famous confectionaries in our locality in Kolkata where items like hing kachuri, karaishuti kachuri, shingara are staple and hordes of customers delightfully throng the shops in the morning and evening to take a mouthful of those lovely snacks.

In Bangalore, we don't have the luxury of getting these delicacies available at our beck and call. Hence, a Bengali food enthusiast, fond of Bengali snacks in a bid to satisfy her snack craving takes the herculean task on her shoulder to prepare these at home :D.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Aloo Paratha

I literally drool over aloo parathas. They are my all-time favourite snack item. But as no good food is without its drawback and side effect, aloo paratha too is quite high in calorie albeit mouth-watering.  Nevertheless, once in a while definitely we may allow ourselves the indulgence to fulfill our cravings, keeping every health related thought at bay.

Garlic Nimki

Garlic Nimki is an interesting variation of nimkis and garlic being the base ingredient, it has a health value. From time immemorial garlic has been used as an effective antidote to a number of ailments including asthma, digestive disorder, diphtheria, whopping cough, high blood pressure, skin disorder and rheumatism. Naturally, inclusion of garlic in one's daily diet keeps one in good health.

In addition to being healthy, garlic nimki is also a very tasty affair. Preparing it in spadesful I think every time to have it last at least for few days, but it takes merely few minutes for my hubby to clean it all out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kheer Poya

If you have referred to my earlier post about Pati Shapta, you might be well-versed about Poush Sankranti now. Lots of sweet goodies are prepared at home during this festival and we Bengalis indulge ourselves in myriad kinds of pithe preparation, one competing with the other in taste and delicacy.

Poush Sankranti is originally a hindu festival celebrated widely throughout India. Known by different names in different regions within India, the essence of the festival holds same for everyone - prosperity, peace, happiness and enlightenment. Though by religion I am Buddhist but being born and raised amid hindu culture has essentially instilled in me an admiration for the grandiose way every festival is celebrated in Bengal. While growing up in Calcutta, I never felt like belonging to another religion. The very ambiance there has that warmth to bring everyone, irrespective of religion and cultures, to a single unit.

My mother makes a variety of pithes or sweet dumplings during the season of Poush Sankranti and this kheer poya is one of her many creations. The good thing about this pithe is you can store it in a jar for a week or two and it will not spoil.

Chicken Keema Palak

Really tied up these days. Lots of things to pack before I go to Kolkata. It's been about a year when I last visited my home and have seen my parents. I just can't wait to see them. Wish the remaining days to visit Kolkata pass soon. With hardly 12 days left in my hand to finish off embroidering the bed cover I started last year for my mother, I am one busy being. Only few motifs are awaiting stitches. Hopefully it will be done on time.

In the hurry of bringing my project of bed cover to a close, I have little time for putting a recipe in my blog. Lots are due though. This Chicken Keema Palak recipe is very tasty and hardly time consuming preparation as minced chicken or keema gets cooked quickly. So without drivelling further, let me sum up the recipe for you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Moong Lentil with Bitter and Bottle Gourd - Moong Lau Uchche Dal

The recipe featured below is of a very unique lentil preparation. I tasted it first at the hands of my mom in law who concocted this flavoursome dal with bitter gourd and bottle gourd. Yes, you heard right...it has bitter gourd in it and yet it tastes awesome. Personally, I don't like anything tasting bitter. But the exquisite flavour of ginger and the sweetness of sugar mixed together overrides the bitter taste making it a pleasure to relish.

I have stuck to bottle gourd like my mom in law, but you may substitute bottle gourd with raw papaya. Needless to mention, this dal is a healthy kick. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Coriander Chicken

There are umpteen reasons why you should incorporate coriander or cilantro leaves in your diet. Besides adding a robust flavour to your dish, coriander leaves have some health benefits. Three of them include -
1. It helps in digestion and prevents flatulence.
2. Lowers blood sugar, bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.
3. A potent source of minerals and dietary fibers.

I keep adding an array of herbs into my dishes like cilantro, parsleys, curry leaves, lemon grass simply because they always lend an extra zing. The sweet aroma emanating from different herbs just lifts up my mood and whets my appetite.

The below recipe of coriander chicken departs slightly from the traditional ways of making chicken with varieties of spices, onions, tomatoes as integral to the preparation. In fact, in this dish carefully some strong flavoured ingredients have been avoided to retain the sweet fragrance of coriander leaves.

Beetroot Potato Magic

Beetroot is a powerful source of minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Also rich in carbohydrates, proteins and dietary fibers, beetroot was essentially used in producing organic color before synthetic color was invented. In addition to being low in fat content and calories, beetroot helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

The following beetroot recipe is of a plain vegetable curry my mother made at home. Simple stir fry with a dash of water to keep the moist in is all that you have to do.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chermoula Chicken Skewer

If you think kebab can be prepared only in tandoor or oven, you are wrong. There are ways you can cook a kebab on gas oven itself with the result equally brilliant in taste. This Chermoula Chicken Skewer recipe I picked up from a cookery show telecast on a Bengali channel. I tried it for the first time and the turnout left us licking our fingers in pleasure. In fact, if this dish was served to me in a restaurant, I could not tell it apart from the ones roasted in tandoor.

Definitely a must try, this dish is surely going to win appraise from your guests. Just keep a good non-stick skillet handy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Indian Jumbo Prawn Curry

Today in the evening I watched a fascinating programme about piranhas on Animal Planet. Jeremy Wade, the dare devil wild life adventurer ventured into unfolding the truth behind the stories of deadly piranhas and their murderous streak. I was amazed at the way Jeremy calling himself frequently a 'human guinea pig' took peril on his life by jumping into the Amazon River brimming with piranhas and came out unscathed and alive. My heart skipped a few beats when he alighted into the swimming pool amid hungry piranhas awaiting a prey. To read more on this, please go through the following article: Deadly Piranha

Coming to the recipe now, these jumbo prawns in the picture were really huge in size. My husband first bought such jumbo prawns when in Pune I, a newly wed bride without any basic knowledge of cooking didn't know what to do with them. I remember me and my hubby spending the entire afternoon trying to prepare a prawn curry with decent taste, but the turnout was somewhat poor with uncooked spices. Nevertheless, we were very happy and relished the dish without qualms.

Thankfully, I am well past those amateurish cooking disasters, and now can prepare any dish without goofing up.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chicken in a light gravy with Potato

A traditional all-time favourite Bengali style of chicken is with light gravy and potato diced in medium sized cubes. The oil floating on the surface of the gravy exudes an extra richness that coupled with spices endows it with an authentic Bengali flavour. This dish is staple in almost all Bengali households.

My mother using very simple regular spices cooks this dish to a delicacy that I am still struggling to obtain. You may opt for white oil in cooking this curry, but the best taste would come if cooked in mustard oil.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oats Chicken Keema Uttapam

After preparing Chicken Kofta Curry, there were some keemas left over in the fridge which I used for cooking Chicken Keema Uttapam. Those of you, who don't know what uttapam is, allow me to give a short prelude. Uttapam is a thick pancake with toppings of various kinds cooked right into the batter. Its easily distinguishable familiarity with dosa confirms their sharing the same fraternity. But as opposed to the crispier and thinner texture of dosa, uttapam is thicker in breadth, somewhat resembling pizza albeit different in taste.

Chicken keema uttapam with its crunchy texture is a great dish to be served to guests or had as snack. The thickness of the topping depends on your liking, but as I like it thick, I have used heavy topping for my uttapam. You may choose to go light on topping if you prefer it that way.

To add some extra food values, I have used oats in the batter and that accounts for the unique name of this dish.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake

Ever wonder how nice it would be if we were able to make cakes without baking. No need to decide on the length of time to bake the cake in microwave and no hassle of mixing dry ingredients with wet ones. Yet the result is same, a lip-smacking cake for all parties to enjoy.

Well, the following recipe is going to make our dreams come true. The gorgeous strawberry cheesecake looking so appetizing in the pictures is actually a cake made without baking. The good thing is that even an amateur can concoct this wonder with ease.

No hidden tricks, just being mindful of the mixture to have a smooth consistency without lumps would bring about the desired result. So what are you waiting for? This is the time of the year when strawberries are available easily in the market. Just grab hold of them and enjoy your cheesecake.