Monday, 28 September 2009

A little Durga Puja fervour for all .... Part III ... Shubho Bijoya !!

The highlight of Dashami is the Debi Boron and Sindur Utsav ... of course after the morning puja, pushpanjali and the visharjan pujas.

Debi Boron is a kind of send off ... the daughter is leaving for her home back in the Kailash Parvat. So she is sent off with a lot of affection and "mishti mukh" ... married women offer her sweets and paan/betelnut leaf.

Sindur Utsav is the offering of sindur / vermillion by married ladies to Durga ... and then to each other ... it is considered auspicious. Back home everybody would be smearing everybody with sindur. ... it would be like another holi all over with only the colour red. Faces and dresses and sarees would smeared. Out here people are pretty sedate .... so only a few indulge in the game.

And then .... it is time to go.

I clicked this by zooming in from afar ... had no idea what I was clicking. Turned out as this .... my favourite in the whole lot ! :-)

It was night by the time we returned from the immersion. I cooked a very simple yet flavourful meal of Mishti Ghee Bhaath, Cholar Dal and an Aloo Peanuts in Lemon juice.

I'll post the recipes later.

Am so tired right now I have no idea if I am even typing correctly ... I'll update this post tomorrow with some very beautiful movie clips of the immersion.

Want to hear a little dhaak and lots of people talking all at once in Bengali? Then stay with me friends.

Tomorrow. Same place. Promise. :-)

Till then ... Here's wishing you all a Shubho Bijoya and Dusserra !!

May the good always prevail. :-)

Updated :

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A little Durga Puja fervour for all .... Part II

We had an unexpected guest in the morning ... as a result were late in leaving for the puja pandal. And in the hurry ... forgot to take the camera along. :-(

So managed these few snaps with my mobile phone camera.

It was way too crowded ... today being the last day of puja. And a Sunday. So the line for prasad / bhog was very very long .... snaking its way from the main gate .... making 2 'U' turns and then a straight line up to where the food was being served.

We got to see the Kumari Puja today .... small girls are worshipped as the goddess. And then collected our bhog parcels.

There was no place to sit .... so we went to our car. We had parked it under a neem tree .... and there was a cool breeze blowing. The sun was scorching hot in the late afternoon.

We were hungry .... so sat in the car under the neem tree .... and had the prasad there .... with the AC running ... balancing the parcels ..... with the sounds of mantra from the loudspeakers. ( In case you are wondering ... I always keep a few spoons and other paraphernalia with us in the car ;-p).

The food was as usual ... heavenly! There was khichuri, mixed vegetables torkari, payesh and tomato chaatni. But don't even think that the same menu is boring .... we would happily give away our right arm to have a little of that any time during the rest of the year. :-)

We had a wonderful afternoon!

I could somehow manage this click .... the food was balanced precariously on the dashboard of the car. :-)

Have a great Nabami evening friends!!
I'll try to get good snaps of the Bhasan / Visarjan of the goddess tomorrow.

The very thought makes me feel sad ... but for now I'll rush .... got to enjoy the whole evening and night .... enjoying cultural programs and chomping on lots of food. And oh yes ... we will be pandal hopping tonight too.

C'ya all!! :-)

Updated with these snaps from the evening :
Kalyani Nagar Durgotsav.

The lighting was very different and the decorations in white looked very beautiful ... does not look the same in this snap.

The lawn for dining and the seating arrangement for the audience in the background.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A little Durga Puja fervour for all ....

I have been having a great time ... rushing around the puja pandals ... offering Pushpanjali ... having prasad or bhog ... being at the evening aarti .... and of course sampling out the artery clogging delicacies at the food stalls ... :-) ( of course rushing home in between to cook for the hubby and carry his food ... he is still not allowed to have food from outside ).

Today is Maha Ashtami. After offering Pushpanjali ( offering flowers to the the diety amid mantras and shlokas ) early in the morning, I thought of clicking some snaps and posting them here .... so many of my Bengali friends abroad are pining for Puja back home.

I know this is not the same .... still ... am trying to give you all a glimpse of the puja pandals here.

For now ... just the snaps.

I'll post details later in my other blog.

Kali Bari.

Congress Bhavan.

The line for Khichuri Bhog.

Today's lunch was Khichuri, Beguni ( batter fried brinjal/eggplant slices ), Payesh ( don't miss the pantua / gulab jamun in it ) , Labra torkari, Tomato chaatni and Papor bhaja ( papad fry ).

Shubho Ashtamir Shondhya bondhugon !! :-)

Have a great Ashtami evening dear friends. :-)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Coffee Cookies

"Didi, do you go for mendikur pendikur?"
"Mendi what?"
"Mendi kur."

That was my maid.
Of course, who waits on whom is a very debatable topic. She has been with me for a very long time and has at some point decided that she is indispensable. Worse ... that she is my guardian.

So I have to listen to her constant chatter. And constant comparision with every single lady she comes across or works for.
I have to put up with her. Why? I don't know.

Maybe am not too adventurous when it comes to judging people ... I have my scars ... so the very thought of interviewing a new one and getting used to a new person in the house gives me cold feet.

Besides, this one won't leave me.
And when I need her, she is nowhere around.

On this particualr day, I am angry. I yell at her for being late. So she is sweet talking.

"Bolo na didi ... aap ko mendikur pendikur nahi accha lagta?"

I am exasperated.
"What on earth is mendikur pendikur ?!!"

"Arey! You don't know?!! Mendikur pendikur karo toh nakhun saaf karke dete hain. Nakhun acche dikhte hain! Aur nail palish bhi laga kar dete hain!"

I look at my nakhun ... nails. They seem pretty clean to me. And 'acche' too.

"Nail polish?!"

And then she says .... so and so didi went to have mendikur pendikur ... keeping the kid with her. So she was late.

I had already started laughing by then. And could not stop. I knew what she was trying to tell.

Mendikur pendikur .... manicure and pedicure!!!!
So there. A new word that is already doing the rounds amongst my cousins and friends. :-)

This recipe is long overdue. I had posted a snap in this post ... but for lack of time could not post the recipe sooner.

Right after I made the Onion Cookies, I was so taken by the easy procedure that Iwanted to make some sweet cookies.

Did not give much thought and went ahead with ... horror ... my coffee cake recipe. Only this time I did not add milk and just made a dough with the egg.

And they turned out just great! I had added baking powder, so they puffed up a little and were slightly crumbly .... and the coffee gave the much loved slightly strong flavour.

For the recipe
..... just follow this. But skip the milk. I added eggs to give the necessary moisture ... but not too much. Just enough to make a dough.

For the cookies : Take medium sized balls from the dough and roll them out like a thick roti.

I used a little oil and dry flour alternately to roll out. Prick with a fork all over. Cut into small pieces with a cookie cutter or any small sized round thing ...

I used a small jam bottle cover. Preheat oven and bake at 160 degrees C.
Or check out the process here.

And so my cookie jar holds cookies now. Finally! :-)

Wish you all a very happy and enjoyable Durga Puja & Navaratri dear friends !! :-)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Roti ke Laddoo

I woke up three days back with a sore throat. And sneezed once. Fear gripped me. Spent some time thinking.
"I think I have got the swine flu" ... I said aloud. No reply from the only other person in the house. I went about with my chores.

Around noon I sneezed ... again.
"I really think I've got the swine flu". The hubby did what he does best ... minding his own bussiness.

I looked around. Every other thing in the house had a look of sympathy on it.

Spent the whole day wondering ... trying to gauge the extent of my 'illness'. It was around late evening when I sneezed again. Three times in one day!! Oh no, no ...

Started to wallow in self pity. "I know I am ill ... but who cares?" " I know I have the swine flu ... I wish I was at home ... at least somebody would know what to do" ... etc. etc.

The husband decided to do something. Asked me to get ready.

"But where are we going?"
"To the hospi".
"Well ... you are ill ... and we need to do something about it."
"But ....".
"Now, no buts ... get ready".
"But, it is evening!"
"So? ... all the hospitals work 24/7".
"But ... ".
"Let's pack some clothes too ... they may want to keep you in isolation".
"What?!!! But don't we need to get the tests done first?"
"Well ... they'll see to everything".
"I don't think my throat hurts thaaaat bad".
"But you are sneezing?"
"No ... nah ... I haven't sneezed since noon".
"Good. It is late anyway ... let's decide tomorrow".

I haven't sneezed since. I think I don't have the swine flu after all.

For those of you wondering about my sensibility, lemme tell you am not foolish. The current state of the city is real bad with the swine flu still very much in action. Every single day there is a report on at least one death here.
Any sane person would be scared.
Now to this simple and easy to make sweet ... the Roti ke Laddoo is a great way to use leftover rotis. Quick to make, it is very tasty. And is a hit with kids.

My mom-in-law makes this for the kids at home. She breaks the roti into small pieces ... but that way too much of ghee is needed to help bind the laddoos. My way spreads the moisture equally and so needs less ghee ... just for the flavour.

Need : Leftover rotis, ghee/ clarified butter, choti elaichi / green cardamom, sugar to taste, dry fruits like cashew, almonds, raisins,etc.

How to : Mix everything together and run through a mixer.

Take out the soggy mix and shape into laddoos.

Done! :-)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Ilisher Matha Diye Ambol / Hilsa Head in a Sweet and Sour Gravy

This is a hurried post ... so not too much of rambling today.

In my hurry to get over with my Ilish / Hilsa recipe series, I overlooked one recipe. The very favourite ambol / tauk / tok with ilish head.

And I got three requests ... two mails and one comment ... all in one day. So leaving aside a half done post, I am posting this for my readers. :-)

This recipe with ilisher matha / hilsa head, was a regular in my home .... my ma used tamarind while Thamma (grandmom) used dried mangoes ( there we call it amchur ... but now I know the powdered dry mango is actually called amchur) for the sourness.

And Thamma used to add a little diluted mustard paste to any ambol she cooked. I love the flavour ... but have not used it in my recipes.

In fact, since I was cooking for myself, I made the ambol for both the ilish roe and the head at one shot. ( You cannot miss the roe in the gravy). ;-)

Need : Ilisher matha bhaja / Hilsa head ... marinated with a little turmeric powder and salt and fried in mustard oil,
some fresh curry leaves,
whole dry red chillies, mustard seeds, a little cooking oil,
tamarind pulp diluted with water, salt and sugar to taste.

How to : Break the fried fish head into medium sized pieces.

Heat a little oil in a kadhai / wok / pan. Add the mustard seeds.

When they start to splutter, add the red chillies and then the tamarind water.

If you want to add a little mustard paste, add now. Bring to a boil.

Adjust salt and sugar. It is entirely up to you to decide how you like it ... a little too sour ... or a little more sweet ... or salty and sour ...

Add the ilish maccher matha / fish head pieces and boil for some more time.
The consistency of the gravy for an ambol / tok / tauk is very thin ... almost watery. So keep that in mind when boiling it.

The ilish head has a very unique taste and after soaking up the gravy, it gets even more tastier and flavorful. Goes great with plain rice.

Scrunch on, dear all. Enjoy !! :-)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Yes ... Bori / Badi / Vadi / Lentil Dumplings can be made ... without the sun .... in an Oven !!

When I posted how to make Sun Dried Bori / Badi / Bodi / Vadi / Mungaudi / Lentil Dumplings at home, I got an overwhelming response. What I had done on a whim was appreciated by so many people! Those sun dried boris / bodi / badi last me a good part of the year ... at least till I make them again.

But a lot of people mentioned that they do not get enough sun in the parts of the world they stay ... and dear Yasmeen of Health Nut asked if we can bake them.

The idea stayed at the back of my mind ... but I was waiting for the rains ... a perfect excuse to try making them in an oven. After all, whoever thought of making bori during the monsoons? The elders of the family would just laugh the idea away.

But I decided to give it a try. Thanks to blogging we get to share such wonderful ideas!

Recently the only two dals being used in my home are the toor dal and the masoor dal. So everytime I reached beyond the urad dal bottle to get either of the two, the urad would give me a forlon ... and sometimes a withering ... look.

I was wondering how to use it up without making vadas or idlis or dosas when one day I noticed my Boris are over ... except for a few crumbs lying at the bottom of the bottle.

That's when I decided I'll make them ..... in the oven this time. :-)

And it worked! I actually made these in the oven! I found absolutely no difference between these and the sun dried ones. They were equally crisp and very, very good. :-)

You can make boris / bodi / vadi without the sun! Yay!!

Need : Urad dal , grated ginger, a pinch of salt, a little cooking oil, oven / baking tray.

A variety of spices like jeera/cumin, crushed black pepper, fresh coriander leaves, red chilli powder, etc. can also be added to the basic dal mixture to get spicy bori / vadi / badi / bodi.

How to : Wash the dal and soak it overnight.

Grind it into a paste with very little water.

Add the grated ginger and salt to it and mix very well. 

Beat it well with your fingers till the batter is light and fluffy. 

Apply cooking oil on a baking tray evenly.

Scoop out very small ball of the dal mixture with your hand and place it on the plate.

Repeat till the plate is full ... do remember to leave a little gap between two boris / badis / bodi.

Place the tray in the oven and bake at the lowest temperature ... between 25 - 40 degrees ... will depend on your kind of oven ... for around 4 to 5 hours. The time will vary for different ovens and also the consistency of the paste. 

Do keep checking on them at times.
They should not turn brown. 

When done they'll come out loose when you shake the tray. 
Cool well before storing ... or frying. 

These boris will be slightly robust and very good for adding to curries as they retain their shape in the gravy. 

If your batter is really fluffy, then they can be enjoyed fried too ... as bhaja bori. 


My camera and I went bonkers trying to adjust with the sun playing hide and seek.
I'll post better snaps when I make another batch.

So all you folks ... who have been missing out on boris / badis / bodi and its recipes ... go ahead and give this a try.


Here are a few recipes where you can enjoy your Bori in : -

Lau Bori


Aloo Bori

Aloo Borir jhaal

Laal shaak bhaja

Monday, 7 September 2009

Shorshe Baata diye Shim / Hyacinth Beans cooked in Mustard Paste

Shorshe - Mustard
Baata - ground paste of anything ( mustard here )
Shim - Hyacinth beans


Right now I have a typing block.

What? Well ... ok ... I did so want to write 'a writer's block'. But one round around blogosphere overflowing with perfect writings complete with humour, tragedy and recipe to the boot ... and I shrink to a size smaller than the shrunk kids in HISTK.

Well .... this is a food blog. I am doling out recipes. So what if I can't give food for the soul? Food for the tummy is enough ... na? ;-) So spake the cook in me.

And so revelling in this thought, here comes a recipe right away.

I knew my Ilish series were getting on everybody's ... including mine ... nerves. So when dear Rush requested some Bong veggie dish with such a 'puhlllleeeaseeee' , I could not ignore her. :-)
So here is one.

The vegetable Shim / Hyacinth bean, which has always been on my much hated list is now tolerated moderately. I like it in a mixed veggie dish ... where it gets squished to oblivion and I get no trace of it ... or sometimes cooked in mustard paste ... with potatoes of course. ( I pair one piece of bean with one piece of potato. ;-) )

Jokes apart, this vegetable tastes very good when it is cooked fresh. The skin should be shiny green and the peas inside should not have grown too much.

If you are not too familiar with the strong taste of mustard , you can add a little posto / poppy seeds and coconut to it when making the paste. Gives a wonderful taste as well as flavour.
I use white mustard seeds along with the black ones when making the paste ... ratio 2:1 ... makes it less pungent.

Need : Fresh hyacinth beans ( remove the string and cut into 2 or 3 pieces),
mustard paste, sliced onions, sliced potatoes,
1 or 2 fresh green chillies, turmeric powder,
salt and sugar to taste, a little cooking oil.

How to : Heat a little oil in a kadhai / wok.
Add the onions and green chillies and fry for a while.

Then add the potatoes and the beans. Fry a while and add the turmeric powder ( just a pinch), mustard paste, salt and sugar.

Add some water and cover.

Cook till the vegetables are tender.

Remove cover and cook till all water dries up.

Serve hot with plain rice.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Ilisher Dim Makha / Fried Hilsa Roe tossed with onions and chillies

I know, I know. This Hilsa thing is getting way too much. My comments section too is reflecting this monotony.
Haven't heard from my veggie friends at all ( Updated : oooooops ... some of them ... not all :-) ) . And I don't blame them. But what can I do?

I have got this fish ... am cooking it ... am trying to eat it. Trying? Yes ... am done now ... no more Ilish for me the whole year now. But when I am cooking it after all, how can I not post the recipes?

It has been ages since I posted a recipe a day ... but I really want to get this over with now.

Unfortunately I have no vegetarian substitute to give for these recipes. So please bear with me ... there will be only a couple more posts on this ... promise. :-)

This time, since I got a huge bulk of Ilish roe, I made good use of it. After enjoying the plain fried roe, I still had some more left. So decided to make a makha (mix) with some fresh onions and mustard oil.

Makha is very common in Bengali cuisine .... rather ... daily meals. The raw mustard oil gives a perfect flavour and turns any bland and boring stuff to simply exotic to taste.
This is called the Ilisher dimer jhura too.

I really wish I had some fresh green chillies ... but I had run out of them. Instead I dry roasted some whole dry chillies and broke them on the makha. That turned out great too. But if you are trying this ... do make it with fresh green chillies.

Need : Ilisher dim / Hilsa roe, marinated with salt and turmeric, chopped onions[ and green chillies], whole dry red chillies, some mustard oil.

How to : Heat a little mustard oil in a kadhai / wok and fry the marinated roe.
Remove and cool.
Dry roast (or fry with a little oil) the red chillies.

Break the roe ... it will crumble easily. Now add the chopped onions [and the green chillies]. Crush the red chillies on it.
Pour a spoonful of raw mustard oil. Mix well.

Done!! :-)
Great on the side with plain rice.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Ilish Maacher Dim diye Ambol / Hilsa Roe in a Sweet and Sour Gravy

Ambol or Tauk/Tawk is a sour dish that is usually served at the end of a proper Bengali meal. The aim is to create enough salivation to aid in digestion and also to clean the palate for the final round ... i.e. the sweet dish.

Ambol usually has tamarind for the sourness ... but is sometimes made with pieces of dried mango too. Usually different types of small fish like Chuno punti or Mourala is used.

Sometimes vegetables like the bhindi / okra and brinjal/eggplant can be used too to make a vegetarian ambol.

This time I had some good Ilish roe. So like the ambol made with the Ilish head back home ( recipe coming up next ) , I made it with the Ilish roe/dim.

The Ilish roe/dim itself is so flavourful that just frying it is enough to chomp on and enjoy.But when in the sour gravy, it turns even more flavourful. Too good!

Need : Ilisher bhaja dim / Hilsa roe marinated with a little turmeric powder and salt and fried in mustard oil,
some fresh curry leaves, whole dry red chillies, mustard seeds,
a little cooking oil, tamarind pulp diluted with water, salt and sugar to taste.

How to : Cut the fried fish roe into bite sized pieces.

Heat a little oil in a kadhai / wok / pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add the red chillies and then the tamarind water.

Bring to a boil. Adjust salt and sugar. It is entirely up to you to decide how you like it ... a little too sour ... or a little more sweet ... or salty and sour ...

Add the ilish maccher dim / fish roe pieces carefully and keep boiling.
Do not stir too much ... the roe might break.

The consistency of the gravy for an ambol / tok / tauk is very thin ... almost watery. So keep that in mind when boiling it.

Serve cool or cold with rice.
I personally like it after keeping it in the fridge for a while ... with plain rice and some fresh green chillies.

All you fish loving folks ... enjoy!! :-)