Friday, August 31, 2012

Zucchini Pancake



I love zucchini mainly because of the fact that it is low in calorie content and hence eating it in spadesful does not add to my guilty quotient. Usually 6-8 inches long zucchinis are most flavorful. So be little careful while choosing the zucchinis. Avoid the large ones because they tend to be bitter in taste.
 
 

These zucchini pancakes are my favourite. The good thing about these pancakes is they can be prepared at any time in a jiffy with a variety of ingredients put together. If guests drop in your home, unannounced and you rack your brain over what food to be served, these pancakes come to your rescue. The preparation is dead easy and the vegetables are flexible. Most importantly, they are delectable in taste, fulfilling and healthy and guests just love them.
 
 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beetroot Paste



Beetroot is a very healthy vegetable. Research has found that beetroot helps reduce blood pressure to a great degree if consumed daily. In my family, my mother is suffering from high pressure and hence she has been advised by the doctors to include beetroots in her regular diet.
 

 
The below recipe of beetroot is an interesting one. Served with steamed rice, it tastes amazing. Hope you guys will like it.

Mooli Bhaji - Radish Stir-Fry




This Mooli Bhaji or Radish stir-fry is one of my favourites that I relish with parathas and chapatis. If you don't like the smell of curry leaves then you may omit it out from your recipe. For pure vegans, onion is not an essential item to be added for making this curry.

My mother used to make this awesome Mooli bhaji at home and though I was very picky about vegetables at that time, I relished this one item without qualms. It tastes great with roti, chapati and even parathas, but can be a good accompaniment to rice too.
 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Koi Macher Jhal



Yesterday I watched the film that has created a buzz in tinsel down due to some bold scenes having been performed by its lead actress Paoli Dam. Truly speaking, I didn't have much expectation out of the movie when I started watching it. It's simply to satiate the curiosity roused by the controversy circling round the lead heroine Paoli who, it is reported, has given a nude screening to acquire the role, that I thought of viewing it.



Well, though Paoli is nothing remarkable acting and look wise, I must admit that she has a modicum of sensuality in her voice that suited the role she was essaying. Furthermore, the story was gripping and well-built. I fast forwarded the songs sequence though, not supporting the idea of interrupting the flow of a serious movie with unnecessary songs. Overall, the movie is watchable and I liked it better than recent Akshay starrer Rowdy Rathore.


 

Anyway, getting back to the recipe, just a week ago, I chanced upon some Koi fishes in our favourite Bangladeshi grocery store and with a thought to cook it slightly different than the normal fish curry, I had it prepared the following way. Hope you all will like it.
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Palak Paneer Paratha




I was thinking of posting this Palak Paneer recipe for last few days but somehow couldn't manage time for doing so. Anyway, better late than never, this Palak Paneer recipe is suitable for consumption on breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Personally, I always prefer parathas over dinner. I just put a variety of ingredients together, sometimes leftover vegetables from previous meal, to concoct a nice innovative albeit appetizing dinner.
 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Butterscotch Eclairs



Our social circle in Bangalore had a friend I used to address as 'baking queen' because of her being enormously gifted in the art of baking. Indeed, she was the one to have first evoked an interest in me towards baking. Prior to I met her and had her baked goodies to the satisfaction of my gastronomy, I never ever gave baking any thought, neither serious nor casual. So our 'baking queen' often would throw cake parties just to indulge us, a group of ravenous foodies, with an impressive range of her baked goodies, from cake rolls to tootie fruities, from cinnamon rolls to three tier cakes.


It was almost a ritual for her to invite us over to her place in celebration of any momentous or inconsequential event that would evidently end in with our feasting upon a huge two to three tier cake frosted with a super soft creamy icing that melted the very moment it went into mouths. Each of the cake parties organized by her only left me craving more for her baked goodies. She was so good.

In one such cake party, she baked éclairs which were the first of its kind experience to me. I never had éclairs before. I had a strong urge brewing inside me at the very first mouthful of éclairs to try my hand upon baking and finally through a long series of trials and errors, I have mustered the art to a decent degree.



So few days back in a potluck dinner, I surprised my friends with my baked éclairs which with their melt in a mouth texture won the hearts of all leaving them crave for more. Needless to mention, it was only a matter of few moments when the plate heaped with éclairs was swept clean without a crumb. Such is the eating frenzy that éclairs trigger in a party. So be sure to make them in bulk. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Puti Macher Chochori


There was a time when getting hands upon the pdf versions of latest books was dead easy, which, needless to say, helped a great deal to students who with their meagre amount of pocket money barely could afford an expensive read. So the free pirated copies of books served a great measure to those hapless students. I know piracy is unethical but let’s not get on to all that serious stuff. But those days are behind us now. With the strict vigil set upon the cyber world by cyber crime police, it has become an impossibility to download any book for free. Anyway, as long as books are allowed to be borrowed and shared among peers, I have nothing to complain about since I finished off n' number of popular books by borrowing only from a constant source, a coaching class buddy whose passion was to collect books of her favourite authors; her taste coincidentally matching mine, I never had to think of buying the same book that she had in her trove.

 
I really admire the way she used to lend books. There was a diary my friend used to maintain for writing the dates and names of the people she had lent her books to so that she could always keep track on them. I finished the entire Harry Potter saga to her credit only.
But unfortunately, in the course of some uncalled for events of silliest nature, I lost touch with her. Infact, due to my callousness, I ended up losing her contact number. Though I have been searching my friend for last five years in the cyber world but her name, frequently used for naming girls in India, a fact I can affirm with certainty that at least one in every ten households has one inmate with her name, spews search results of thousands of her namesakes on Facebook alone and after all these years of not being in touch, not knowing anything about her whereabouts, whether or not after marriage she has retained her maiden name or changed it to her husband's, it is an uphill task to locate her amid the crowd.


Though I took the utmost effort to make a comprehensive search by handpicking a few of her namesakes on the basis of the teeny weeny profile snaps displayed on the search results and visited their profiles, even enquiring to some if they are the friend I am looking for, considering that my friend might have put on or reduced weight or changed into a persona beyond my recognition after all these years in between, but all my endeavors at finding her went down the drain. She was never a very net savvy person, but in an age of social networking when my most net averse friends, batch mates and classmates are all over the place making their mark in the internet world, I can only wonder what hinders my friend from stepping into the virtual realm.

 
About the recipe, Puti Macher Chochchori is a versatile recipe with respect to the fact that you may add any of your favourite vegetables into the curry. The original recipe had potol or parwal or pointed gourd used among others but due to the unavailability of potols of good quality, I relied on okra. So according to your preference, you may switch around. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paneer Fried Rice




I hate wasting food and I don't like to see anyone tossing away food that is in completely eatable state into the dustbin. In our home we were always taught not to waste food keeping in mind that so many people and children are in empty stomach because of their inability to meet the basic necessities of life. Before we got up from the dining table my mother always made sure that we polished off every crumb left on the platter. But not everyone is brought up the same away. Hence in a party or function when I see plates heaped with uneaten left overs are thrown into the garbage; it makes my heart cringe a bit. I wonder why some people love filling their plates with edibles beyond their eating capacity and then waste them. At least if they would have been discreet enough to take only the amount they could eat, lots of unnecessary wastage could be averted and the residue from the party could be used to feed some hungry mouths.




Recently in a party held at my home, I cooked this Paneer Fried Rice which won me brownie points from the guests. I love paneer and it often comes to my rescue when I need to entertain a group of people who are vegetarian. Any paneer preparation, say Paneer LaJabab, Shahi Paneer, Kadai Paneer or Matar Paneer are instantaneous hits among the invitees.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rui Kofta Curry



Few days back, I met a lady who though loves Indian cuisines does not know how to prepare them. While explaining to her some recipes of Indian curries, I frequently mentioned the word 'sautéing' and 'bhunao' which elicited a natural query from her whether or not bhunao is similar to sautéing. Now, as per my knowledge, bhunao and sauté both refer to the same technique of frying ingredients on high to medium heat in oil with small quantity of water added every now and then to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The taste of Indian curries depends a lot on this bhunao as the spices and other taste boosting agents like onion, tomato and green chillies combine into a robust flavour through this process.

But interestingly, when I did a bit of research on these two synonyms in our cyber world to get a broader perspective, sautéing was explained as a technique of searing or browning food on high heat. Not a mention of adding water or other ingredient like yogurt as preventive measure to hinder sticking was touched upon; whereas, bhunao was referred to as the same technique of frying food on high heat in oil with small amount of water or yogurt added to prevent over frying or burning of food.


The literary definitions of the words made me realize that the word to word explanation of sautéing does not conform to our idea of the same in Indian cooking. Sautéing in Indian cooking is not limited to only searing or browning food, rather it's a rudimentary step to incorporate different flavours by frying the key ingredients like onion, tomato, ginger-garlic and spices with a repetitive addition of water in small measure to prevent burning, sticking or over frying. Sautéing creates the base of any Indian dish whereas sautéing as defined in wikihow refers only to stir-frying. Bhunao might be a better alternative for sautéing, but doubtful whether or not all the people are aware of Indian lingo, I usually adhere to 'sautéing' while explaining a cooking process. Assuming that the visitors of my blog are well aware of Indian sautéing technique, I give this discussion a rest here moving on to the recipe I am making this entry for.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chicken Tom Yum Soup


One staple order whenever we visited any Thai restaurant in Mumbai used to be Chicken Tom Yum Soup or simple Tom Yum Soup.  My taste for Thai food took its shape in Mumbai only. Then when we visited Bangkok and Pattaya, we relished to the utmost satisfaction of our heart various Thai delicacies among which Egg Fu Yong or Chicken Fu Yong, stir fried Thai noodles caught my fancy.
 

Yesterday night for dinner I was in a mood to concoct a Thai dish. It's been years precisely when I last had Tom Yum Soup anywhere. So I combed the cyber world vigorously in search of an authentic Tom Yum Soup. Some of the ingredients mentioned in the recipes were to be found only in exclusive Thai retail stores, like galangal, a sort of Thai ginger which is not easily available in World Churchill Market or Wal-Mart. So I had to list such ingredients off my list due to the difficulty in availability and finally I came up with my own recipe putting together whatever I managed to get in hand. Nevertheless, even with limited ingredients, the taste of the soup was not compromised and the turnout was really delectable and savoury. Me and my hubby thoroughly relished it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Aloo Methi Paratha



Yesterday when we went for our periodical check up to our family physician, while sitting in the cabin waiting for the doctor to examine me, I was fiddling with a copy of Readers' Digest, the book which has a slew of memories connected with my girlhood days. Everyone must have some sort of memories associated with some specific books or songs or movies that string them to a a series of events of their life. Same was true for me with Readers' Digest.

 
In my growing up days, subscriptions of some monthly magazines were regularly purchased in our home including Anandamela and Readers' Digest. We three siblings would engage in petty fights over our turn to get to read the books. I was the youngest and hence I was always the last to get my turn. Those days Anandamela used to be pretty informative with lots of curious and interesting facts explained in detail with fascinating snapshots riveting out attention. We all used to remain glued to it till we reached the last page. Same was with Readers' Digest. Through RD only, I came to know of a woman who was so possessive of her husband that she refused to share him with her children even. She suffocated about 7 of her children to death before they entered toddlerhood. Many such gripping stories and interesting phenomena that will bowl someone over filled the pages of RD.




So yesterday while flipping through the copy of RD, I was in search for some intriguing piece of news that would leave a lasting impression on my mind or would at least provide me with a food for thought. I was not disappointed. Before long I came across a story about a man who found a wallet walking on a street. Out of the thought to get some information about the person the wallet belonged to, he opened the wallet and besides coins and bills, he came upon a letter written some 60 years back addressed to some 'Michael' from 'Hanna'. Hannah wrote the letter informing Michael about her mother's strong objection to their match because of which Hannah would not be able to keep in touch. There was an address written on the back of the letter which led the man to Hannah, now aged 76, bedridden in a hospital. At the sight of the letter, flood of memories rushed through her mind and she told the man how she never got over with Michael completely and never married. Upon meeting Hannah, the man came downstairs to the lobby and chanced upon a receptionist who identified the wallet as belonging to a patient called 'Michael' staying in the same hospital as Hannah. The man then met Michael who told him that Hannah and he were in love when he was 18 years old and she 16, but due to her mother's disapproval, they severed ties. However, unable to drive Hannah completely out of his mind, he too never married. The man then played the role of Cupid and united the estranged lovers who soon tied the knot and spent the remaining life with each other.

Now I really don't know whether or not the above story has any kernel of truth but nevertheless, it aroused me emotionally and I couldn't help sharing the story with you all.
Back to the recipe, Aloo Methi Paratha is my favourite of all parathas. I love fenugreek leaves cooked with eggplant in Begun Methi, a few cluster of leaves used in making MethiParathas, a dash of methi seeds to conjure up Chicken Methi and finally mixed with aloo, it boosts the flavour of parathas to the maximum.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ilish Macher Dimer Tok Mishti Ambol - Hilsa Roe in Sweet and Sour Gravy



Monsoon in India is going on in full swing. The name 'Monsoon' brings about a host of delicacies in our minds, the most coveted one is Hilsa. Everyone knows about Bengalis' fascination with Hilsa, but very few might be aware that we love only Monsoon Hilsas. Now what's so special in Monsoon that we Bengalis are so picky about consuming hilsas only during this season, one might think. The fact is during monsoon a shoal of hilsas cluster together from the sea into the sweet water of the Bay of Bengal for laying eggs. The otherwise salty hilsa coming into the touch of fresh water of the river metamorphoses itself into a culinary delight.


Once eggs are laid, hilsas swim back to the sea. Before they could sail on their return journey, they are caught aplenty in numbers all across the deltas of Padma, Meghna and Jamuna rivers in Bangladesh by the fishermen who then preserve them in a freezer, pack and send them to all over the world. However, though hilsas are abundantly available in US in the Bangladeshi grocery shops, tracking down the right store nearby your place is a challenge. Not all the people are so lucky to have their work project based in the heart of New York where right from the Indian restaurants to grocers everything is available right at your door step.



In the place called Perrysburg which is our sojourn for the moment, not a single Bangladeshi grocery store is to be found in close vicinity. So forced by the circumstances and our longing for a morsel of hilsa, we made a recce of our nearby neighborhoods and counties in search of a Bangladeshi grocer that sells hilsas. Unfortunately, the store in Detroit we usually buy fishes from don't sell hilsas, rui or katlas because of which we were forced into looking out again for a better grocery shop that have our favourite fishes on the counter. Indeed, we spotted one in a nearby county few weeks back. You ought to have seen the glow in our faces at the sight of the hilsas to believe the magnanimity of our craving. It was stupendous!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lau with Moong Dal - Bottle Gourd with Moong Lentil



Bottle Gourd is yet another effective vegetable very good for people watching on their weight. 96% of Lauki or Bottle Gourd is plain water and hence it is very low in calorie. 100 gm serving of bottle gourd adds up to only 12 calories.



I was a member of a cooking forum in orkut and although I didn't know cooking at that time, I loved to take note of the recipes detailed there. Lau with Moong Dal is one such recipe posted by a member in the forum. This is the first time I tried my hand on it and needless to say, the turnout was scrumptious and healthy as bonus. Oh yes, you may omit the potatoes if you are extra health conscious, but for me and my hubby, potatoes just increase the flavour of this dish manifold.


Alur Dum with Khoya and Cumin



Years ago when I was really slim and trim gifted with a figure that drew admiration from my friends, I never gave it any value or serious thought. Instead, I used to always dream of gaining weight as I thought myself to be on skinnier side. Soon after I joined work, I started binging on fast food hungry as bear oblivious and unmindful to the results. I gained over 10 kgs over the course of few months. Then after marriage when I moved to Pune happy as lark, one day I noticed feeling pain on my knees while climbing down the stairs of our apartment. That was the first time I realized that in my attempt to get rid of skinniness I have become heavier than I planned of. This knee problem is common at my home with my mother and sister both of who are corpulent.

Now weight reduction is not as easy as gaining weight is. Especially for people fond of eating, it is distressing to avert food continually living on a meagre diet. After years of struggle with weight, finally through last few months I taste some amount of success in terms of weight loss. Earlier whenever I went on a diet, I tended to being strict with myself keeping all my favourite foods at bay and restricting myself to bland low calorie foods only. But every time within a few weeks, I used to grow weary of the self-imposed abstinence and gave up on my diet getting back to hogging more than ever.


 
I was on a lookout for some suitable alternatives which would allow me to eat my favourite foods yet would not make me suffer from guilt. As my physician says "the trick lies in moderation". Indeed, these days although I sweat off regularly in gym, I simultaneously enjoy all sorts of food that I love like cakes, pastries, ice creams and many more. But yes, when you are dieting, the best time to fulfill your desire for sweet tooth is early in the morning when your body requires a boost of sugar. You may enjoy a slice of cake or pastry in your breakfast. It will send sugar instantly to your system which would put the various mechanisms our body is consisted of into operation. Further, having food at the right time of the day is important. If you hog on a slice of the same cake and pastry at night, rest assured that the sugar and fat will deposit themselves in various corners of your body. Taking lunch within 1 o'clock and taking dinner by 8.30 to 9 o'clock at least 2-3 hours before you retire to bed is important. One more thing, eat as lightly as possible during night. Have the lunch heavy but have dinner like a pauper.


Another thing that has worked in my favour is the avoiding of junk foods and eating out in restaurants as less as possible. Homemade food is always a healthier option. You always know what exactly is going into your body and the ingredients that have been used in the preparation. Same cannot be vouched for the restaurant foods.

Our lunch today has been graced with this Alur Dum with Khoya and Cumin described below. I love potatoes but ever since I have started giving some serious consideration to weight loss, I have been trying to avoid potatoes as much as possible. Although eating one potato in a day is fine, but somehow unless a recipe really demands it or unless my hubby requests for his favourite alu dum, I give it a miss mostly. Anyway, if you have enjoyed my other alu dum recipes like Shahi Dum Alu and Kashmiri Dum Alu, I am sure this one too will win your heart.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chicken Chettinad

Chettinad is a small region in Tamilnadu located in Southern India. The cuisines that derived from Chettinad burst with a distinct flavour of curry leaves and an assortment of spices and are fast getting popular all across India for their aroma and intense piquancy.

Chettinad cuisines comprised of non-vegetarian delicacies are mainly accompanied by rice or rice based preparations such as uttampam or dosa. Chettinad cuisines also have a myriad of vegetarian delicacies to its name with idiyappam, paniyaram, vellai paniyaram, karuppatti paniyaram to name a few.

Of all the meat preparations belonging to Chettinad cuisines, Chicken Chettinad or Chettinad Chicken is listed as the most flavourful. It was a staple order we placed while dining in a Chettinad restaurant during our Bangalore days. I have adapted the recipe described below from a cookery show hosted by Aditya Bal. If you are regular in my blog, you must know by now that I am an ardent fan of Aditya and when I stayed in India, I never gave his shows a miss. But upon coming to US, unfortunately I am unable to keep track on all the episodes featured in his program. This is one of the many downsides of living away from your own country....you miss all your favourites shows and movies. There are avenues, however, of capturing the missing programs via You Tube or via a battery of websites that telecast the old episodes of television shows and pirate copies of recent Bollywood flicks but the experience is nowhere near to seeing the original. It is like 'dudher swad ghol e metano' (quenching the thirst of milk with buttermilk).


Monday, August 6, 2012

Koi Paturi



Paturi is a delicacy of fish wrapped in banana leaves and cooked through steaming. Two famous paturi dishes in Bengal are Bhetki Paturi and Hilsa Paturi. Koi Paturi is not so common a preparation as until I saw the recipe being covered in a cookery program, I had no idea that it existed. Since banana leaves are out of option here, I chose the normal means of steaming i.e. placing the ingredients inside a closed tiffin box and putting the same in a bowl bigger in size covered with a lid with sufficient amount of water to build steam for cooking. You may follow through on the steaming technique in pressure cooker also but somehow I feel more comfortable with the former means than the latter one as I cannot determine how many whistles would be apt to get the fishes cooked rightly without crumbling them. Besides, removing the tiffin box from inside the pressure cooker also tests my patience.



Whatever means of steaming you try your hand at, rest assured that the turnout would be one of a kind - flavourful and delicious.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mocha Crackle Cookies with Walnut and Pecan Chips


I am back from the New York trip. It was an amazing experience. The best part of the trip was that I got to meet a lot of new faces who are my hubby's close pals but whom I met for the first time in life. Besides socializing, what appealed to me about NY are its cultural diversity and the vibrant spirit. It has copious similarity with Mumbai, the financial hub of India. Like Mumbai, it is overpopulated throbbing round the clock with the hustle and bustle of people from all across the globe converging on the same location, some as tourists, some on business and some for earning livelihood. While taking a walk down the footpath of Manhattan, finding people brushing by in a hurried manner is very typical of the experience encountered in the busiest thoroughfares of Indian metros.

Another amusing thing to catch my notice was while waiting in a queue, be that for tickets to a ferry or for a climb up to the crown of Rockefeller Centre or the Empire State Building, the people standing in front and behind all were speaking different languages and not English. This multi-lingual multifarious aspect of NY allured me most. Then the presence of cycle rickshaws and horse carriages in downtown Manhattan was another characteristic redolent of Kolkata. A feeling of nostalgia gripped my mind momentarily then.
Aside from Manhattan, we visited Jackson Heights in Queens which is another enchanting city of New York. While dining with our Bengali friends at Jackson Heights, I felt that we were, as if, eating out in Kolkata with so many fellow diners cooing in my mother tongue, some even attired in kurta pajama and salwaar kameez. The footpaths along the heart of Jackson Heights were lined with apparel stores exclusive to saree and salwaar. We stayed there hardly for 5 days and within such a short span of time, New York cast its magic spell on me and I was feeling morose while returning back to our marooned sleepy town of Perrysburg where without the possession of a driving license, I feel handicapped with my eyes longing every minute for the mere sight of people in the lonely desolate streets where seeing a passerby is nothing short of a piece of good luck.


Okay, now coming back to the recipe, these gorgeous mocha crackle cookies served a great deal to us throughout our trip. We often forget to take our meal on time while travelling which sometimes sends the system our bodies are accustomed to in total disarray resulting in sickness or bowel complications. To avoid ailment of that nature which could spoil the fun of a trip, I baked these wonderful looking scrumptious mocha cookies that work a good deal in quickly quenching the hunger pinch. These cookies are very useful for long road trips when halting every now and then for food becomes troublesome.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Honey Glazed Almond Cake

I love honey. Who doesn't by the way? Some quick notes on honey before I share the recipe with you:

Honey is fat free and cholesterol free. According to report honey helps burn fats during sleep. Honey, a natural sweetener, sweeter than normal table sugar is a great substitute for sugar. Drinking a glass of lukewarm water mixed with 1 tbsp of honey and lemon juice early in the morning is a good way to start your day. It yields effective results to people working on weight reduction. Infact, taking a tablespoon or two honey at night either mixed with warm water or right out of the jar before retiring to bed accelerates the functioning of body metabolism and liver putting into operation the fat-burning process.

The unique composition of honey with low water content and high acidic level makes it impervious to the growth of microbes. Hence honey unless kept open in air remains in perfectly good condition for years.

I made the Honey Glazed Almond Cake to last us through the several hours long road trip to New York last week. My hubby while driving for long hours needs to fuel himself up with something sweet. Nothing but a piece of homemade cake or muffin works better for the purpose. Since I am bit cautious about his diet, I add as little sugar as possible compensating it with honey. I don't find artificial sugar reliable for daily use because of many long run health hazards involved with it.

Information accredited to: http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honey-facts.html
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