Monday, April 30, 2012

Lal Shak Diye Chingri - Prawns with Red Amaranth Leaves

This is an exotic recipe of prawns cooked with lal shak or red amaranth leaves. After an extensive search made throughout Ohio, we finally have traced a market that not only sells fishes but also the greens and vegetables not easily available in US.

Red shak or red amaranth leaves are potent source of vitamins and minerals. It is also very low in cholesterol and saturated fat. The mushy eggplants combined with red amaranth leaves with a fine addition of prawns make it a compact package of nutrition which simultaneously pleases your taste bud. One of the many health benefits of eating prawns is it is a powerful source of selenium which is believed to impede the growth of malignant cancer cells.

Also, the fact that prawns are low in calories as opposed to meat and beefs makes it a popular and tastier option for many over other food choices.

Puti Mach Tok Jhal Mishti

I still find it hard to believe that I have had puti fishes here in a foreign land whereas during the two years stay in Bangalore in my own country, any tiny fish, say puti or morola were untraceable. So you can imagine the overwhelming joy we felt upon discovering the fish market that sells a big range of fishes from katla to shor puti, from boyal to loita. It is almost synonymous with the feeling of hitting a jackpot. Seriously!!

It might have been over three years that I didn’t eat puti. Just as my eyes read the tag 'puti' written on the shelve I could not suppress the mixed emotions of surprise and delight at catching hold of something very extraordinary, unthinkable. Unexpected things always invoke a great amount of pleasure and I was enraptured with pure joy. The next day of our fish shopping, I made a call to my mother and enquired about the possible ways to cook puti. This recipe that I extracted from my mother upon implementation at home drew couple of rare veritable words of appreciation from my worst critic, my husband.

Chicken Red Lentil Soup

It makes you feel very depressed when you are away from your hometown and your loved ones fall sick. The helplessness of not being able to be physically present by their side grows a subtle guilt inside your mind. My father is not well. He is suffering from acute sinus problem which has caused cataract in his both eyes. He has been advised to go for an immediate cataract operation or else he might develop glaucoma. Fortunately, my elder bro and sis live in Kolkata. I know they will take good care of him. But still, you cannot stop worrying.

Red lentil is highly nutritious, as we all know. It aids to control blood sugar disorder, lower bad cholesterol and provides a host of minerals, vitamins and proteins to your body. What more is it is less in calorie, so undoubtedly good for people struggling on their weight. A cup of soup before a meal functions as a good appetizer and also helps you keep your appetite in check as soup makes you feel filled.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mango Flavored Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

There was a time when while eating in a restaurant, I used to follow the four course meal - appetizer, starter, main course and dessert. But these days, I totally exclude the dessert section. Because by the time I finish with soup and starter, my tummy is left with hardly any space to accommodate main course, forget dessert. So in restaurants I barely go for desserts these days.

However, at home it's a different story altogether. I make pudding, mousse, trifle and everything is consumed before even the main course of lunch or dinner is served. My hubby would come back from office and scour the refrigerator for some eatable and mousse, cake or pudding whatever there falls to his notice, he grabs and crams into his mouth. So at home the order of the four course meal goes total upside down with dessert coming first, main course in the middle and soup, if I prepare, comes at the last.

The most disgusting part of all is when while watching TV at night; my hubby sits with a packet of potato chips even after a heavy fulfilling dinner. So many a time I have asked, warned and pleaded him not to bring chips at home. It's not that I don't like them, but since I know my own limitations and weakness, I rather prefer not to carry fast food home than fighting with the temptation later and feel guilty afterwards for consuming more calories than necessary. But all my words go in his one ear and then out with the other.

Okay, now about the croissant pudding, if you have croissants (small or big ones) staling in your home for couple of days and you are at your wits' end as what to do with them, round up the ingredients mentioned below and set about baking the pudding. It's worth the effort, truly.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Masoor Chingrir Dum : Red Lentil with Prawns

Red lentil in Bengali is called 'masoor dal' and 'chingri' means prawns. Dum means slow-cooking or cooking something covered on low or medium heat so that the ingredients get cooked in the steam built inside. This account explains the name "Masoor Chingrir Dum" for people not familiar with Bengali language. Also, it sets an undertone for the dish going to be detailed and discussed below.

As the name implicates, masoor is given 'dum' through slow-cooking with prawns laid side by side. The spices incorporated in uniform measure give birth to an innovative dal concoction. The aroma of whole spices and the final taste booster called 'ghee' makes it a heavenly experience for those privileged to consume it.

I have adapted the recipe from a cookery program. But as I said 'adapted', the original dish was cooked with a hint of sweetness with sugar and raisins. I parted with the raisins part and adapted it according to what my family would like and 'loved' they indeed as my husband has given his verdict with 'it is one of the best dishes' I cooked out of the 170 something recipes posted in my blog.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vegetable Korma

If you like to have vegetables cooked in a spicy way, you may try the recipe below. It is something I picked up from a cookery show hosted by Aditya Bal and it turned out good. It has that southern touch of cooking with tamarind, coconut and a host of spices creating a concoction of robust flavour.

Personally, I like cooking vegetables in a number of ways each time with a different variety. I liked the turnout the recipe below produced. If you don't like vegetables spicy, you may not end up liking this, but yes keeping an open mind to a different sort of flavour than your own, you might discover a new taste bud for fine cuisines like this.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zucchini Banana Bread

As you might know that zucchini is very good for health. It is low in calories and rich in dietary fibers which aids in digestion and prevents constipation. Besides, zucchini also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Hence, it is very important to incorporate zucchini in your diet.

The recipe below is made from a combination of banana and zucchini. Banana is an instant source of energy and unless you are dieting to reduce weight, inclusion of banana in your daily meal contributes to solve a lot of your health problems. For details, please go through the following link:

Without any doubt, Zucchini Banana Bread serves you a healthy way to begin your day. One slice of this bread with tea or coffee or milk makes a happening breakfast, ideal for busy couples.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chicken Tadka Dal - Dhaba Style

After the Bengali Egg tadka dal turned out to be the most viewed recipe in my blog, among all, I decided to post a few more variations of tadka dal, the kind which is very popular across Kolkata, especially in dhabas of West Bengal.

Chicken tadka dal is one of my favourite items whenever I dine in dhaba. It has that rustic flavour which is very soul-touching. In fact, whenever I visit Kolkata, among all the foods listed to be had during my stay, chicken tadka dal is one of the must-haves. It is one of those items you cannot avail anywhere else other than Kolkata.

Note: In case if anyone does not know what dhaba is, dhaba is that small shack or local restaurant across the highways of Indian states, very popular for serving local cuisines with typical rustic flavour. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vegetable Sevai

Sevai is one kind of rice noodles, very popular in southern part of India. It is cooked in different flavours like, lemon, tamarind, cashew nuts, and curd. It serves as a fulfilling breakfast or tiffin that can be made in few minutes. Since I complete my breakfast with biscuits and 1 glass of juice or soya milk, the luxury of having sevai in breakfast is out of option. So I chose it as dinner yesterday and it was really fulsome.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spiral Rotelle Pasta with Creamy Spinach

Last few days have been really great, movie wise. I finally watched some movies I have been longing to watch for years. All of them were honored with oscars. 'Amadeus', 'Kramer Vs Kramer', 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' are to name a few that I have finished watching. A long list is awaiting in my kitty still. I am a complete movie buff. Nothing gives me more pleasure than watching a couple of my favorite movies while digging into a tub of popcorn or a packet of potato chips.

Pasta is my all-time favorite item for dinner. Whenever I find nothing solid cooked in the refrigerator and I feel lazy to make an elaborate preparation for dinner, I go for pasta. They are yummy and easy to be made. Just toss a few things together and they are ready :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Soya Chunks Mixed Veg Curry

Soya chunks are good substitutes for protein derived from animal meat. So veggies can compensate their protein deficiency by eating more pulses, soya beans and soya nuggets. I particularly love soya chunks because of the meaty taste. If cooked properly, it tastes really mouth-watering.

My mother at home makes an awesome soya curry which tastes even better than chicken curry, but no matter how many times I try emulating it, it always lacks the zing in taste. Perhaps it would take one or two decade more for me to come close to my mother's culinary skill. Interestingly, though my mother is a very good cook, she does not have the patience to teach one how to cook. Hence, both me and my elder sister have learned cooking on our own through trial and tests. Curiously enough, my mother for past 5-6 years has kept an amateur cook who at the time of her recruitment could not concoct a simple egg curry decently. I owe large part of my weight gain to that new hire's obsession of cooking with excess oil. I recall the shock on one of my colleagues' face when during recess I offered her a luchi with oil dripping from it. All my complaints and my mother's ensuing reaction fell on deaf ears. Our new hire hardly used to take anything into her ears and kept on doing things her way. She believed that cooking with excessive oil and spices add to the taste. It took quite a few years for my mother to make her understand the basics of cooking and now thankfully, she conjures up fine cuisines, at least taste wise.

Okay, no more diversion from the main topic….here goes the recipe for you. It’s yummy and healthy. Enjoy !

Cottage Cheese Fritters

If you are preparing a veg curry and you wish to add some extra zing, you may achieve your goal by simply garnishing the dish with cottage cheese fritters. It also boosts the health quotient of your dish.

Ingredients:                                        Cooking time: 10 minutes
ü  1 cup cottage cheese (minced)
ü  3 tbsp all-purpose flour
ü  1 tbsp cornflour
ü  Salt to taste
ü  1 tsp red chilli powder
Note: Use a blender to mince the cottage cheese into tiny particles.
1) In a mixing bowl, mix in all the ingredients together and in case the mixture seems gooey still, add some more all-purpose flour and balance that out by adding cornflour too in 3:1 proportion. Knead them into a smooth mixture so that you can make balls out of them for deep frying.
2) Once the mixture is kneaded, make small balls out of them and deep fry.
3) You can have them on their own with sauce or chutney or you may use them in curries.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cholar Dal

Perhaps no other statement suggests the rivalry shared by Mozart and Salieri better than this one as written by Carrie Fisher “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Indeed, Salieri did not take respite from his devilish plans to sabotage Mozart and his career and got peace, supposedly, only when Mozart dead at a tender age of 35 was buried in the mass grave, a pauper's grave rather - an unmarked grave....come to think of it, it's so shocking that the genius and the child prodigy we have grown up admiring died like a pauper and buried with no respect. The greatest musician of all time met such a shocking fate because his rival Salieri taking full advantage of his position and power exploited every means possible to stop Mozart from rising above.

I was watching the movie "Amadeus" last night and towards the end, I got so overwhelmed by the depiction of Salieri plotting and sending Mozart to his grave that for one moment I sure felt like stabbing Salieri to his death for snatching Mozart of his life so young and thus depriving the devotees of Mozart's music of some precious valuable masterpieces that could have been created had Mozart lived long. Seriously, jealousy is like poison. It eats you from inside and makes you vulnerable to commit a crime, some times, against someone you might worship or look up to. It tears relationship apart and breaks friendship. I remember I read a news sometime back when an angry elder brother seething with envy at his younger brother's success killed him mercilessly.

If you have seen London Dreams, you might like to know that London Dreams starring Salmon Khan and Ajay Devgan was actually based on the theme of Amadeus, at least partially. The climax is different though.

Now to the recipe, a traditional Bengali breakfast comprises cholar dal, luchi and begun bhaja. I recall when we were young, luchi and cholar dal or luchi and alur dum were sacrosanct in the breakfast menu. Each of us, me, didi and dada would at least have 10-12 luchis at one go. Curiously, even after such heavy breakfasts, there was space enough in our tummies for a sumptuous afternoon meal and yet, we were as thin as sticks. In fact, 'hanger' is the appropriate term to describe my shape in those days.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vegetable Dal - Sabji Dal

Do you believe in the adage that says "First impression is the last impression"? I find this proverb quite impractical to follow in real life because human mind is constituted of variegated kaleidoscope of complexities and one's actions are regulated by a dozen of factors. For example, suppose you had a fight with your spouse at home and your mood is overpowered by a sudden rise in hormonal change, very common to women during a monthly cycle. If someone meets you for the first time when you are in worst frame of mind and you behave not in your best self, the first impression formed by that person will be absolutely wrong about you. You might be an easy-going cheerful person but you cannot remain in your best spirit always. C'mon. We are all human beings at the end.

However, despite your second and third meeting, if you find a person disagreeable and not suiting to your nature, then I believe you should come to a conclusion that we all are different and not everyone is made for everyone. In that case, both of you may choose to go on your individual ways. If suppose, you find someone extremely distasteful in nature and completely opposite to you every way so much so that even tolerating that person's very presence becomes a pain, but you are in an unavoidable circumstance where in spite of your hating the person from the bottom of your heart, you do need to see his/her face every day and even talk to him/her politely and amicably so as to maintain peace at 'work'. Yes, at 'work'. In personal life, sometimes, we may avoid the person we hate or we don't like but in professional life, doing that very thing becomes a hell of a difficult task. Anyone having been through such an experience knows about the stress I am talking about.

Back to the recipe, vegetable dal or sabji dal is a flexible dish that can be concocted with seasonal vegetables. The selection of vegetables to be used in cooking this dal is up to your discretion. I used what I my palate desired at that moment.

Papad ki Sabji - Papad Curry

Today am not in a mood to write. I hate to be sick, but on rare occasions your body gives up yelling for some rest. Same has happened to my body which wants to relax, for couple of days, to rejuvenate itself before setting on to the daily grind again.

This papad curry is one of my favourite vegetable curries. The recipe is quite flexible. You may prepare the gravy my way or in any different way as deems fit to you. My hubby, for instance, was telling me that during his school days in Purulia Ram Krishna Mission, papad curry made with papads dropped in plain masoor dal was frequently served in the hostels and they all used to slurp it with relish.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mango Cup Cakes

I was reading some very interesting discussion on the war waged between muffins and cupcakes. According to some, muffins with icing are called cupcakes and muffins without icing are muffins, meant for breakfast, whereas cupcakes are served in a party to celebrate something. Some opine that the terms attached with muffins and cupcakes usually derive from the quantity of flour and sugar that go into their making. Well, I don’t exactly understand the technicality of the terms but must I say, it does not matter whether you are consuming cupcakes or muffins as long as both are delightful and give pleasure to the one eating them.
I absolutely adore muffins and whenever I get some spare time in hand, I set on to baking muffins. They are useful for breakfast and worth having to satisfy that untimely hunger pinch at any time of the day. Cupcakes tend to be a bit more on calorie side because of the icing, so I prepare them less at home unless of course there is a party.

Few days before during our periodical visit to Wal-Mart, I felt tempted by some ripe-looking yellow and red mangoes which at the time of buying I thought to be of sweet texture just like the mangoes we get back home. But once I took a single bite, I knew I could not eat them raw as the taste was pretty bland. Since I don’t like wasting food, I came up with an idea to bake some cupcakes using the mangoes and the idea turned out to be a hit as my hubby and his colleagues relished them with pleasure. (I packed some in a tiffin box for my hubby’s colleagues.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Toor Dal with Kokum

Few days back as I was cooking dinner, my hubby's colleague who stays in the same housing complex as we called up and invited us for an impromptu potluck dinner. I was cooking a vegetable curry when his call came and I told him to give me 40 minutes to prepare something appropriate for the occasion and there we went getting ready for a sumptuous potluck dinner. I love such unplanned pleasures where everyone contributes a food which is shared by all in the group. It kind of also tests your presence of mind in choosing a dish that would take less time for preparation yet would turn out tasty. I chose to cook egg devil curry which is a staple item in my parents' home and which I cook quite often for the guests and without fail, it always earns me brownie points.

On the dinner table, among a host of different cuisines, there was a dal that involved minimal effort in making yet stood out in taste. The dal was prepared by the wife of my hubby's colleague who is a marathi. The base dal used was toor. Since in Bengali cuisines, usually masoor and mung lentils predominate, the use of toor dal is almost unheard of in the eastern part of India esp West Bengal. It's after we shifted to Bangalore that I tried to use toor dal in preparing sambar and rasam which by the way are my favourite. But toor dal cooked in a marathi way was new to me altogether and I wasted no time in noting down the recipe from her. The very next day I gave it a try and needless to say, the turnout was brilliant, exactly same in taste as when cooked by her. Here goes the recipe for you:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kashmiri Dum Aloo

One of my friends has his brilliant write-up on Khajuraho published in an online foreign journal. In his article he broached one very valid point for discussion with me sharing the same view that many of us are so callous not to think twice before defacing establishments of historical significance. In fact, it is really sad that our government does not charge any fine as punishment or take any measure, for that matter, to restrain unruly people from ruining or spoiling a monument or an architectural marvel by using them as a medium of declaring love in writing on the walls, or by treating them as spittoons or lavatory. 

Some of the precious sites of historical importance are in pretty bad shape, almost on the verge of breaking down into pieces and apart from a selective few sculptures now taken over by UNESCO for maintenance, others lie in wait for their turn to tumble and vanish into the soil of mother earth.

Anybody interested in going through the article may follow this link:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

In one previous post of mine I told you I would narrate a horror incident that my sister in law's friend went through. I don't know how many of you believe in ghosts or in the supernatural existence. My husband, for instance, is a complete non-believer and he laughs away everything that sends chill down my spine. Anyway, this anecdote that I am going to share is not for non-believers. It happened to one of the friends of my sis in law. Her friend recently then shifted to Hyderabad with her husband with a new job. They rented an apartment (3BHK) and they had been living there for three months before something untoward happened to toss all their rational thoughts into turmoil.

Since only husband and wife resided in the apartment and they were a working couple, they usually used to keep two of the rooms under lock and key, using only the master bed room as their room. Now, one day in the morning prior to going to office, the husband was taking shower in the attached bathroom of their bedroom when suddenly the wife felt the need to use a toilet. So she unbolted the door of one of the two rooms that were under lock and key with intent to use the attached toilet of that room. Meanwhile, her husband came out of the bathroom and started looking for his wife who was found to be nowhere. So he was wondering as to where did his wife go when all of a sudden he heard his wife knocking on the door from inside of the room she was using to avail the toilet. It was locked from outside. His wife thought that the husband had locked it from outside not knowing that the wife was inside. But the husband denied and said that he found the door locked from outside when he came searching for his wife. The wife or anyone for that matter couldn't possibly lock herself from outside of a room. Hence the question remained "who then locked the room from outside if apart from the husband and wife, no third person was present at the home during that time?" Together they could not come to any plausible answer to the question worrying them sick with unpleasant thoughts. Within a matter of a fortnight, they chose to pack their bags and leave the apartment.

I found the above bit of story quite frightening while my hubby found it an amusing one. Perspectives differ you know. Some people cannot be convinced of anything unless they themselves go through similar experiences. My hubby has the desire to explore some of the haunted houses of Chicago which again he is very skeptical about as he believes everything is sham and made up there to force people form a wrong idea.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Masala Prawns

The Easter week went amazingly with a trip down to a place well-known for its picturesque natural beauty - Mackinac Island. Located in Huron Lake, the island has a quaint appeal that soothes your mind. Living in an island like this amidst a breathtaking backdrop surely is a lot of fun. I was green with envy for those who have their houses and mansions there and live a life so close to nature, away from all the cacophony and humdrum of city life.

I don't have adequate words to describe the iconic beauty the island is blessed with. It's something that has to be seen and felt inside your heart. I wish I could post the snaps, my hubby has captured painstakingly, here but since I want my cooking blog to remain focused on cooking with pictures of home cooked food only, I will share the link once I update my other blog - Travelogue with a write-up on Mackinac Island.

Back to what my post is all about - Masala Prawns is a preparation my mother often makes at home. It is one of the most tasty prawn curries that I savor to the utmost delight and satisfaction of my tummy. It tastes best when cooked by my mother, however, in her absence I make do with what I end up cooking.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chicken Lababdar

Few days back I watched a fascinating movie called "Afterlife" starring Matt Demon. The story based on three characters had two undergo a near death experience after which one gained the power of a clairvoyant while another felt an epiphany. The story that touched me most was of the third character who lost his twin brother in an accident and how unable to cope up with the sudden loss, he went on a solo expedition to find a psyche reader who would help him communicate with his dead brother. It was interesting the way the story was built and developed.

First time the movie was telecast around midnight and the thought of having to watch a supernatural movie all alone while my hubby sleeps made me give up the idea of watching it then. Later on another day in the evening I caught it by chance while shuffling channels. I love horror movies and needless to say, I was quite fond of the Ghost Hunters series. Now as a side effect of watching too many horror movies over the last one decade, I have started imagining a lot and feeling scared. If a sudden gust of wind creaks a door open, I jump out of my bed. Slight rustling of leaves nearby sends a shiver down my spine. I feel scared at night to see myself standing in front of a mirror. It's funny I know but I know few people who, equally fond of horror movies, suffer from the same kind of delusional fear. We have never gone through any unearthly experience ourselves, but the baseless imagination, inspired by the movies, has instilled an irrational fright in our minds.

Just few days back, one of my friends told me that she has stopped watching horror movies after one day she got awakened by a dream of an old lady sitting at the end of her bed. I have my own way of dealing with such fears which I would describe later. Not today, but I will narrate one incident one friend of my own sister in law went through. It scared me stiff.

Back to the recipe, Chicken Lababdar is one of my favourite chicken preparations. Back home, I often used to place order for it in a restaurant. It goes heavenly with a platter of pilaf and naan.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mint Pilaf - Pudina Rice

The Game of Thrones – Season 2 is on air from yesterday onwards and I can’t hide my excitement about the same. The story is at its crucial phase when the stage for a battle and the ensuing bloodbath are under way, involving the ownership of the iron throne. It came to me as a shock when Ned Stark was executed. I thought that he would be held captive and tortured but would be alive till the end. But that following his beheading the story would take a new turn was out of my imagination. I am feeling lucky that I am in US now because last year after I went back to India upon catching first 4 episodes of the Season 1, I had to wait at least 5 months for the series to be aired on HBO India and finally when it was telecast, lots of scenes significant to the story were censored on the grounds of nudity and violence.

It’s only after coming down here, I watched all the episodes that I missed of Season 1 in the repeated telecast of the same one week prior to the beginning of the Season 2. I was fond of the morally upright character Ned Stark played but as all good human beings suffer misfortune at the hands of unscrupulous men; his fate too followed the same course. He was beheaded by the order of a boy king who didn’t have any right to the throne in the first place.

I would love to see Rob Stark usurping the throne from Joffrey and the latter suffering the same notorious execution that he subjects other people to. Well, I got little carried away with the excitement of my favourite mega series. I forgot that I am here to describe a recipe. The following recipe has its variations. I have seen people using lemon juice, garlic, ginger and even coriander leaves to cook mint rice. My version might not be an authentic one but according to my likes, I have used onion and raisins. Somehow I always feel raisins to be a better substitute for sugar in rice dishes. I wanted to use cream even, but changed my mind at the last moment remembering my resolution to shed few kilos in the coming months.