Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mocha Cupcakes with Whipped Cream

Tea or coffee is a part of our social being. It is customary to offer a cup of tea or coffee to guests when they visit your home. Offering tea as refreshment is a common practice in my maternal place also. In our family, everyone except me is habitual to drinking tea. My elder sister and elder brother both had started drinking tea from a tender age. But somehow I remained impervious to the habit. Neither tea nor coffee ever appealed to me. Rather I prefer juice or shakes.

My husband loves drinking tea but he quenches his tea desire only at office. So in our home, there is no jar of tea on the kitchen shelf which surprises many especially people into the habit of having tea timely at home. Infact, when guests visit our home for the first time, many unknown to the fact that I don't drink tea find it rude when I don't offer them any. The thought of offering someone a cup of tea or coffee skips my mind due to my being unused to it. However, after coming down to US, I now store a jar of instant coffee powder at home primarily out of the need to mix it with henna to boost the color while applying the same on my hair and secondarily, to prepare luscious mocha cakes and muffins.

The second purpose seems to have more practical use than the first one as these days I am up to experimenting with a lot of mocha recipes. A few recipes are in the pipeline to be uploaded in my blog. Once I return from our New York trip starting from tomorrow, I will surely upload them one after another at leisure. 

Chanar Pudding - Curdled Milk or Paneer Pudding

Yesterday I was in a mood to put together a glass of mango shake, when out of my dismay I noticed the milk carton resting in the refrigerator for couple of weeks had curdled. It threw me into confusion as what I should I do with the curdled milk of that considerable amount. My mind raced around the thought of preparing Chanar Dalna, but owing to the painstaking process involved in frying chana dumplings finally I dropped the idea. I wanted to make something quick that is less time taking and dead easy. So after a moment of thoughts flickering here and there, finally I came to rest upon the idea of chanar pudding which could be finished in a jiffy, yet with a mouth-watering turnout.

For people not familiar with Bengali, let me inform that "Chana" in Bengali means curdled milk. I am a bit opposed to the idea of addressing chana as paneer because as per my knowledge paneer is little more processed than chana is. Chana though easily available in Bengal may not be so easily accessible outside. So I will recommend anyone intending to try out this dish to make your own chana at home as it is more pure in form or if the milk accidentally curdles just as mine did, you may resort to this dish to save yourself from unnecessary wastage of food.

By the way my hubby commented on having a mouthful of this decadent pudding that it is one of the best puddings he ever had.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kadai Paneer

Kadai Paneer reminds me of the occasion when I first paid a visit to my now sister in law's (my brother in law's wife) home to meet her. In India, bridegroom's family members are treated nothing short of VIPs at the potential bride's home. So we too received a warm welcome by the would-be bride's family who took utmost care not to leave out anything in their hospitality. A huge platter heaped with delicacies like a selection of gourmet sweets, luchi, Kosha mangsho and Kadai Paneer were served to us. Since besides my mother in law, everyone accompanying the groom was young in age, pressure was huge in the air from the bride's side to polish off the platter without a crumb left. I ate like a horse going beyond my usual eating capacity but couldn't sweep clean of all the things arranged on the plate.

I recall, of all the delicacies, the one that left an impression on my mind was kadai paneer. I never have had any paneer preparation as tasty as that one. It was scrumptious to say the least. The soft cubes of paneer immersed in a tomato based gravy just melts in your mouth. It tastes best with puri, luchi, paratha and chapati but can be a good supplement to rice too.

Tel Koi

While in Bangalore, my hubby once bought a pack of koi fishes from the nearby Bengali Hal Market. I don't know what blocked his sense of smell that he failed to sniff the stench descending from the fishes and bought them unmindfully. The same thing that temporarily incapacitated his olfactory organ seemed to have its way with me too because until I began to cook, I didn't find anything amiss with the fishes. I presume the fish seller coated the fishes with something to suppress the stink and hence the smell didn't strike us strong enough. As I went about frying them, a strong foul odor hit my nose sharply and I started wondering where the smell was coming from, hopeful that the fishes were fresh. I cooked Sorshe Koi, appetizing to look at with a layer of raw mustard oil floating nicely on top.

Finally when the cooking was over and lunch time approached, I set the bowls and plates on table gearing myself up for a wonderful Sunday afternoon meal with Sorshe Koi, Butter Masoor Dal, Begun Bhaja and rice. Just as I served the fishes in our respective plates and my hubby took a mouthful of rice with a tiny morsel of fish mixed into it, he spit it off immediately saying the fish tasted awful. Eventually, it dawned on us that my hubby was deceived with a shoal of rotten stale fishes. It has been a year since that incident that we didn't try buying Koi from anywhere, fearful that we may be duped again.

This time when I visited the Bangladeshi Grocery Store and laid eyes on a packet of frozen kois lying upon the shelf of a giant refrigerator, I couldn't repress my appetite and grabbed them at once. A single bad incident cannot spoil our eternal bond with Koi, a fish so lovingly cooked by my mother and delightfully savoured by all in our family. Oh yes, this time the fishes were well-preserved and in good condition. Here is a Tel Koi for you:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rui Macher Chochchori

Chochchori is a medley of an assortment of things like fish, potato, onion and vegetables. It takes
 less preparation time as opposed to the regular way of cooking fish which involves two
 mandatory steps of frying fishes and then preparing the gravy. To conjure up chochchori, you just
 need to toss together a variety of ingredients in a cooking vessel and cook that on a stove top on
 medium to low heat for few minutes till the ingredients combine into a flavorsome dish.

 Rui Macher Chochchori is my favourite of all fish chochchoris. I consider Rohu to be a versatile
 fish used in cooking an array of Bengali delicacies other than normal fish curries. Hope the recipe
 below will win your heart just as it did mine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mutton Yakhni

The yogurt and saffron based stock cooked with either mutton or chicken is known as yakhni
 Yakhni, a popular Kashmiri cuisine has its origin dating back to Persia until inculcated into
 Indian culinary culture during the reign of Akbar towards the end of 16th century. The traditional
 yakhni, devoid of onion and garlic, looks nondescript with a pale color ascribed to yogurt and

However, in my preparation, I have used both onion and garlic and albeit my interest, I had to rule
 out saffron from my dish due to its absence at home

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bhapa Chingri - Steamed Prawn Curry

Steaming is an ancient and healthy technique in practice from time immemorial to cook food. The
 benefit of steaming results not only in lowering fat content, but also helps retain the effective
 functional nutrients that usually go flushed out of the food when cooked on high heat or boiled.

The benefit of nutrient preservation makes steaming a popular cooking method amongst health
 conscious people. Steaming is done through a number of ways, using pressure cooker, a steamer or
 simply by placing a closed tiffin box inside a larger container with little amount of water around to
 create steam covered with a lid. Whatever means you choose for steaming rest assured that the
 turnout would be a healthy treat, yet tasty one, giving competition to your regular meals.

Steaming is popular in Bengali cooking. A selection of traditional authentic Bengali dishes including
the sought-after and lip-smacking Bhapa Elish, Dab Chingri are adored and savoured delightfully
 by Bengalis and Non-Bengalis alike all over the world.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prawn Scallop Capellini with Chilli Garlic Sauce

Pasta is my all-time favourite meal for dinner. I have cooked and posted recipes of a variety of
pastas since the very inception of my blog with Chicken Fettuccine in Creamy Vodka Sauce and
 Spaghetti Ala Norma topping the chart in terms of page views. Yesterday night my palate desired

for something different departing from my usual norm of pastas. It's strange that the thought of
combining scallops and prawns never entered my mind until very recently when out of desperation
 to gratify my husband's craving for scallop, I thought to incorporate them in pasta cuisines.

I combed the cyber world for some effective prawn scallop concoction but none stuck in my
 mind, so I came up with my own recipe. It was scrumptious to say the least. The creamy sauce
 bursting with garlic flavour gives you a wholesome experience.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chilli Garlic Sauce

Chilli Garlic Sauce is often required in the preparation of many dishes from poultry to soups. It's readily available in the market of US. But I didn't find readymade chilli garlic sauce sold anywhere in Bangalore. So I always rely on making it at home.

The original recipe involves a mandatory step of using fish sauce for robust flavour, but despite scouring every nook and crannies, I didn't find fish sauce sold at Wal-Mart, Meyer and World Churchill Market. So forced by the condition of unavailability, I chose to substitute fish sauce with an amalgam of oyster sauce and soya sauce. Actually, Worcestershire sauce would be a better replacement but I didn't have any at home. Sorry that I couldnot post a pic of Chilli Garlic Sauce this time but promise to do so when I'll prepare it next time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cabbage Chicken

Cabbage is extremely a healthy vegetable rich with vitamin C which adds to the glow of your skin. However, eating cabbage should be avoided at night to steer clear of digestion problem. My mother used to make one tasty conventional cabbage curry cooked with Rohu fish head and potato. It was so lip-smacking that an entire meal could be finished off with that as accompaniment. Someday I would definitely post the recipe.

As for today I am posting rather an unconventional cabbage concoction. It’s cabbage cooked with chicken. I almost hewed to the recipe followed in preparing cabbage with rohu fish head, but midway through I twisted the ingredients a bit driven by my culinary whims.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Okra Made Simple

Of all Okra preparations, this simple okra curry is my favourite of all time. It tastes best when cooked with fresh okras.

Chicken Prawn Stir Fried Noodles with Vegetables and Mushroom

It's been days; years to be specific when I last tasted the scrumptious plate of noodles sold at a local fast food corner near to our locality in Kolkata. Noodles remind me of the tiffin my mother regularly packed for me while I went to work. Post marriage, when a new life with my hubby coerced both of us into juggling work and home, we hired a cook, who although knew very little about cooking at the time she joined us, grasped very quickly the skill of cooking noodles perfectly with a tad help from me. Later on she started preparing noodles even better than me. They were yummier than the ones I had eaten in restaurants.

In Bangalore, rice noodles were somehow not easily available and so during our stay there for 2 years, we were forced to deprive ourselves of the pleasure of indulging in noodles. Anyway, recently I got this really fine quality rice noodles from an Asian store here. I tried to cook with it the first thing I have missed all these years after marriage, the stir fried noodles cooked by my mother. I twisted the ingredients a little here and there according to convenience, but the end result turned out to be similar in taste: Scrumptious.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Egg Prawn Mini Omelettes

This is an interesting Egg Prawn Mini Omelette recipe I picked up from a Bengali magazine. Undoubtedly, it is one of my favourite omelettes now. I like these omelettes especially in breakfast served with a toast. When guests are invited, I keep the egg-prawn mixture ready in advance so while the guests ensconce themselves comfortably at our home, I quickly prepare the omelettes and serve with tea. I just love the bewildered expression on their faces after they discover prawns in the omelettes.

Prawn Kofta Curry

My husband has been telling me since the time I arrived at US to go for a driving test. Before I sit behind the steering wheels, I need to obtain a learners' license requiring me to pass a written test. While in Bangalore, I once made a massive damage to our car only by driving it at 10 km/hr speed. The bonnet of the car came off and the chassis bent out of shape by the impact after I rammed the car straight into a divider. It was a dreadful incident that psychologically planted a seed of fear in my mind towards driving. Especially in a country where normally cars run at high speed, I am scared how I would cope. Without knowing how to drive in US is synonymous with the feeling of being handicapped. I am a kind of person who doesn't like depending on people for anything and unless I learn driving, I will never overcome my dependency.

One worthy advice shared by a friend is never to learn driving with husband sitting by your side. Tendencies of husbands bombarding wives who are learning to drive with nonstop dos and don'ts leave them keyed up with unnecessary worries. To an extent, it is true because when I made the accident in Bangalore, my hubby was sitting beside me and he yelled at me to bring the car to a stop as I was heading towards a divider. His holler pressed a panic button in me and I froze forgetting to leash the brake. The car bulldozed into the divider damaging it badly.

Whenever I point the finger of blame at him for that accident I made in Bangalore, he keeps saying that I always lay the blame on him for everything bad happening around me. But I feel that if he had not shouted freaking the hell out of me, I would have steadily brought the car to a stop in good time. Many a time while cooking when he helps me with cutting the vegetables, he contributes his suggestions about what ingredients to add or give a miss etc and whenever I have paid an iota of heed to his advice, my cooked meal has turned out to be either bland or something very miserable in taste. Still, he never refrains from offering suggestions with an aplomb that would make a seasoned chef doubt himself.

I know just as I have learnt after repeated incidents of miserable meals that my hubby is not the best person I should listen to in terms of cooking, similarly he is not the best person to accompany me on practice drives.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spiced Apple Cake

Yesterday in a frenzy of sweeping all the invisible dirt and impurities from the nooks and corners of our 5 months old dwelling, I was putting everything disarrayed in place disposing simultaneously the unwanted items into the garbage bin. While cleaning the interior of the refrigerator, my eyes suddenly caught hold of three apples which presumably have been resting in a safe corner of the refrigerator for over a month. Yes, over a month or two possibly because as far as my memory goes, I have not bought any apple very recently. The good thing is the apples were in perfect condition without being anywhere near to sorry looking state, which by the way surprised me a bit.

Anyway, I love fruit cakes. The discovery of the hidden apples gave me a cause to grace the occasion by baking a wonderful apple cake. Yummmm, the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg filling every space of your home near the end of baking suddenly makes you ravenous.

Khichuri - Khichdi

Khichuri also renowned as Khichdi is a gourmet delicacy in West Bengal unlike northern and western parts of India where khichuri, a mishmash of rice and lentils is prepared to feed the sick. Any festivity in Bengal remains incomplete without the lip-smacking ‘Bhoger Khichuri’ (Khichdi that is offered as obeisance to the deities) with beguni and labra as mouth-watering accompaniments.

Infact, during Durga Puja and Kali Puja, it was the most sought-after moment of the entire festival that we used to look forward to, when the local boys associated with the organizing of the local puja visited every home, within the locality, serving a bowl of steaming freshly cooked khichdis in return for the contributions that everyone pitched in for the successful consummation of the festival. The taste, fragrance and deliciousness of the bhoger khichuri are difficult to be surpassed by the home-made ones in every standard. The smell and euphoria connected with the festivals elevate the gastronomic pleasure to a different level of enjoyment that no other occasion is potent enough to encompass.

The khichdi that I am posting today is a medley of rice, lentil and vegetables attempted, more or less, in a similar fashion of Bhoger Khichuri with the exception of onion which is religiously avoided in the latter preparation. Usually, potato, green peas and cauliflower are combined together in Bhoger Khichuri but at home yesterday when I was concocting the dish; cauliflower was sadly absent at home. So I had to make do with whatever was available at that moment.

Khichdis taste best when cooked with Gobindo Bhog rice which is also popularly used for cooking payesh, a well-craved sweet dish of Bengal. Gobindo Bhog rice is a type of short-grained glutinous rice that takes less time to be cooked in comparison with its long grained counterparts. Though Gobindo Bhog is very specific to Bengal in terms of its availability, it is available in other states of India as well. One just needs to check out the Bengali market of that region for the purpose.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Baingan with Soya Nuggets

One of my friends recently told me to upload more Soya recipes. In fact, I myself was thinking to go innovative with soya chunks as soya beans and soya nuggets are extremely good for health. Usually, while cooking mixed vegetables, I never forget to add a handful of soya nuggets, but sometimes your palate desires for a change. As I went about scouring the cyber world in search of some good ingenious soya recipes, I came across this exotic post made by Sanjeev Kapoor. It's the same old Baingan Bharta with a twist.

If you have liked my SoyaChunks Mixed Veg Curry and Soya Malwani, you will definitely love this one too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Aam Doi Bata

The passing of summer month renewed the pain of another mango season going by without me getting an opportunity to bite into the mellow juicy flesh of the ripe mangoes. It's been years, precisely, when I have been compensating my mango craving with the ripe-looking but sour-tasting inferior quality of mangoes available in the places outside Bengal. The mangoes that we used to get in Bangalore and the ones we get here in USA look very appealing. The combination of crimson and yellow hue, very typical texture of ripe mangoes, is aplenty in sight, but the taste does not match anywhere near to the lip-smacking Fazli, Himsagar or Langra of West Bengal. Bengal with its soaring temperature, high humidity and moist climate is perhaps ideal for mango cultivation. Though mangoes are fertile under various weather conditions upon a wide range of soils, the best qualities, however, are determined by certain factors including temperature, humidity and rainfall in exact amount.

For the recipe below, a small raw mango will suffice as the taste demands it to be aligned towards sourness. Aside from Bata fish, I think this recipe will rightly fit in for Tangra or any fish medium to small in size.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Corn Chaat

When we were in Bangalore, after returning home from work, I used to feel very tired and hungry at the same time. Making arrangements for an elaborate cooking preparation would be the last thing hovering in my mind. Most of the time, I used to cook meal that would last up to the day after, giving me little respite from cooking dinner the next day. Lunches were mostly done in office. Often, especially during the rainy days when Bangalore traffic literally would come to a dead stop holding me up for home, dog-tired when dragging the body down the stairs to our flat posed a herculean task for me, I would conceive of cooking something quick involving effortless preparation. This Corn Chaat was my favourite dinner in those days. Served in a bowl with two hard-boiled eggs, it used to fit in rightly for the occasion.

However, nowadays while having it over dinner I deliberately avoid the eggs to save myself from allowing more calories into my body than necessary. (I love the egg yolks and without it eating eggs seems a bland affair.)

Oat Soup

Oats is rich with fibre content. Hence it works miraculously on people working on their weight. A cup of oats gives a feeling of fulfillment of a heavy meal curbing the desire to eat anything more. Hence it should be a mandatory item added to the menu of those considering weight loss, like me. After putting myself through an hour long grind of workouts, I feel very hungry in the evening. Oats seem very useful in satiating my hunger within minutes. This lovely mouth-watering oats soup makes dinner a heavenly experience. You can take breadstick as accompaniment or you may choose to have it on its own.

I usually prepare the oats soup very simply without any embellishment. But to boost up the taste, you may add shredded chicken to the soup.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prawns with Kasuri Methi

Last few days were the most scorching summer days here in this season with the temperature soaring higher than 100F. The gymnasium that I visit every day in our locality is facing west direction and hence, in the evening, it turns into a furnace heated by the direct penetration of sunlight. Yesterday just 10 minutes on the treadmill and epillectical cross trainer left me soaked in sweat from top to bottom robbing me of the desire to continue any longer. Nonetheless, ignoring all the jumble feelings about discomfort going around in my head, I persisted my ordeal for exact one and half hour at a stretch with a goal set in my mind to get the lost shape back. Gaining weight is so easy; I wish the reverse would have been easier too. But it seems there is no fast-track route available other than putting your body through a daily grind of work outs simultaneously following a healthy diet.

However, I am not in for crash diet. I had tried doing it umpteen times but halfway through I gave up every time. This time I have been following a diet that I would be able to adhere to till I succeed in my mission. Already it is showing results and I am not anywhere near to the verge of drifting away from my goal.

I always take heavy lunch in the afternoon up to the satisfaction of my tummy whether or not I am dieting. This prawn curry made a sumptuous meal for us and we had it with rice.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chicken Paach Misheli Dal - Assorted Lentils with Chicken

I am pretty impressed with the way my lentil recipes are earning brownie points from my readers. When I posted Egg Tadka Dal, I barely had any clue that it would make its place among the most viewed recipes occupying the first place for a considerable length of time. Next came along the Chicken Tadka Dal which also received a raging response from my readers. Infact, all my lentil recipes including the new entries such as Kokum Chana Masala, Lal Shak Diye Moong Dal and Cholar Dal Diye Lau are showing promise in terms of page views. I am happy.

'Pach' in Bengali means number five and 'misheli' means mixture. Since the recipe below is a medley of five different lentils concocted with chicken, I conceive the appellation "Chicken Paach Misheli Dal" to be accurate for this dish.

Lemon Chicken Fry

As promised that I would upload some low calorie recipes for people working on their weight, this lemon chicken fry is a fresh addition. It is a perfect supplement to a bowl of soup. Especially at night, when you are advised to eat like a beggar, these lemon chicken fries completely satisfy your appetite without making you feel fed up of your low calorie meals nevertheless.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cat's Eye Sandwich Cookies

I love cookies and these cat's eye sandwich cookies just make a perfect supplement to a cup of tea. The beautiful fragrance of vanilla essence warms up the environment of the evening get-togethers. That these goodies were baked at home will leave your guests in awe of your culinary skill.