Friday, 30 December 2016

Chingri macher Malaikari / Prawns cooked in coconut milk

 Chingri macher malaikari
The year went by at the blink of an eye. Or so it seems.
It has been a quiet year for me. And good too ... in some ways.
I have been able to get back into normal routine after the tremendous loss of the earlier year.
And I have learnt that whatever time we have, we need to make full use of it.
We need to stay happy, do what we want to, follow our heart and accept the fact that life can be a bitch at times.
And can love you at others too.

I do not have this habit of making resolutions.
I have never tried to, ever since I was a young girl.
All that I have done is stay focussed and do what I have to do.
I do not bind myself inside a grid of promises ... even to myself.
All I do is to follow life and deal with whatever it gives me to deal with.

I may have had to make compromises .... and I still have to. But then, there are times when you have to do what you have to do.
There are times when you will not like what you have to do. And it will be very easy to just take another road that will take you away from it.
But again, there is this thing called the need of the hour.
And you know you must do it, in spite of not wanting to do it.
That is called the sense of duty.
That is called maturity ... or the right way to take on life.

So when I have to give up something I like to do, to be able to do something that I don't like to, I tell myself that there will be another day, when I will have all the time to myself.
And I go ahead and do what is the right thing to do. Even if I don't like it.
And believe in my heart that everything is for a good.

Like the last few days have gone not exactly like I wanted to.
The one thing that I find  very difficult to accept is being taken for granted.
And ungratefulness.
Those are things I have had to deal with, from people who go by the name of 'friends'.
So maybe, henceforth, I will do something different ... just so that I do not have to go through this hurt in my heart again.

This year, I had my trip to the US of A ... which was a wonderful thing to happen.
I saw nature's most wonderous creation ... the gorgeous Niagara falls ... and was overwhelmed.
And was thankful to fate for making me so happy in a long time.
prawn malaikari
I do not know what the new year will bring for me.
And neither do I want to.
All I pray for is health and a little happiness.
And a little more understanding and accepting in my life. That I will have the strength not to be affected by negativity ... like I always have.
I can do with a little more emotional security. And some me time.
That's all.
Books, music, knitting, travelling ... I can fit in myself.

A few days back, I had bought some very good prawns as we were having guests over.
But they stayed inside the freezer as the guests preferred to eat out most of the time.
So, yesterday, I took them out, wondering what to cook.
I knew I had do at least one more post before the year ended and wanted it to be a good recipe.
Going through my drafts, I found the same old daily food that my blog is famous for.
So decided to make something really good and celebratory.
Peeked into the fridge and saw a can of coconut milk and voila! I knew what it would be.
Quickly made a coconut and peas pulao for B and then set about cooking this lovely, creamy malaikari ... more for you and the blog than for myself.

My Ma makes a malaikari that used to be very, very subtle in flavours ... the coconut milk played a dominant part. I went through a few recipes on the net and saw they were slightly more richer and wanted to try that way. After tasting this, I can say I love both versions now.
Will post Ma's recipe later someday.

This recipe uses onion paste as well as ginger and garlic paste. I could not make a paste so grated the onion ... you can see the tiny bits in the gravy. Did not make much difference to the flavours.
I use ginger + garlic paste and was worried but the coconut milk immediately resolved all doubts ... imparting that beautiful sweetness and rich, smooth creaminess to the gravy.
Chingri malaikari
So here is the recipe.
Do let me know if you give it a try this new year.

 Need :

Fresh water prawns - 250 gms
Onion paste - 2 tbsp ( I used grated onions but do you the paste )
Ginger + garlic paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Whole dry chillies - 2, broken
Whole garam masala - cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom - 2 each, crushed
Bay leaf - 1
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp (I use mustard oil )
Coconut milk - 1 cupful ( I used the thick canned one )
Sugar - to taste
Salt - to taste
Water - half cup
Malaikari ingredients

How to :

Clean, devein and marinate the prawns with turmeric powder and salt.
Chingri macher malaikari

 Heat mustard oil in a kadahi or wok.
Lightly fry the prawns and remove and keep aside.
Do not overcook them.
 Chingri malaikari

In the same oil, add the bay leaf, dry red chillies and the crushed garam masalas.
Then add the onion paste and a little sugar.
Fry well till the rawness goes away.
Then add the ginger garlic paste and fry till oil starts to separate from the sides.
 Now add the fried prawns and mix everything together.
How to make chingri malaikari
 Raise heat, add a little water and bring to a simmer.
Check for salt and adjust according to taste.

Then lower heat and add the coconut milk.
Adjust seasoning again ... the gravy will be a little on the sweeter side,
Cover and simmer for five minutes.
Prawns malaikari recipe
 Remove cover and check for gravy consistency. 
Serve hot.
Chingri macher malaikari
This malaikari goes very well with plain rice or the Bengali mishti polau.


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Mutton Kheema or Minced mutton curry

Mutton kheema
It has been around more than a month that I had fish last. I did not buy any and cleaned out my freezer just before my trip to the Big Apple. Neither did I buy or make any mutton ... which I eat very little anyway. So I was practically on a little chicken here and there.
And now, with being ill with a bad throat, fever and all the other accessories that come along with, I was craving some non vegetarian food.
I longed for spicy, throat tingling food that would rattle my taste buds back to their senses.
Everything seems to taste bland and smell of nothing right now.

But cooking non vegetarian food, especially when you are ill, is no mean feat.
The very thought of washing the stuff under running water made me cringe and I would bundle myself up even more. Not to mention the lack of strength to actually stand and cook.
B was handling the cooking part initially and was doing pretty well when it came to putting some soft, steaming hot khichuri on my plate both times.
But then just one week into my illness, he came down with the same too.
And then, it was milk, bread, biscuits and some bread again ... all the way.

We had to cancel our trip home twice .... and now have given up trying booking tickets again.
Right now, we are focusing on getting well first ....  even before we start to think of making a trip to the cold, cold North India right now.
I have started to cook and have fallen back on my cooking in bulk plans ... which is helping hugely and ensuring that we are getting home cooked meals at least.
When the paracetamol is working, I make dal in bulk and knead atta too.
Also cook rice in bulk and make some vegetable bhaja.So all we have to do during mealtimes is load the plate and warm it in the microwave for a minute.
And we have a plateful of hot, homecooked food in a jiffy.

Now that winter is here in full swing, I am getting desperate to go out and buy fresh vegetables.
This is the time for hot, fresh vegetable parathas ... be it the methi paratha, aloo paratha, gobhi paratha or mooli paratha. Winter dinners have to have the parathas on the plate. Along with home made fresh achars.
But I will wait for a few more days.

Mangshor keema

Last evening, B said "Let's go out for a small drive. "
It was indeed getting suffocating at home ... staying put all these days while the outside rejoiced in the beautiful weather.
So we went out.
It was early evening and the sun was mellow. The trees were turning dark against the orange sun.
The air was crisp when I rolled own the windows for a while.
But the traffic was bad and we decided to turn back. Both of us mentioned at the same time that we ahve seen Pune in the best of times .... when there was almost no four wheeler traffic and zero pollution.
And especially when the outskirts of the city still had those rolling jowar fields and we could see a sunset just by standing on the banks of a river.
All of these are a dream these days .... the way the city has grown into a jungle in just 7 to 10 years.

We turned back and were heading home when B said "Would you like to buy some fish?" I was about to say yes then did not feel like eating fish. So we drove on.
And then, just around the corner, I spied the old mutton shop and immediately felt like eating some hot, soupy mutton jhol and bhaat.
I felt like eating something in a long time, given my taste buds have gone for a long vacation.
So, I went in and bought some good mutton.
And then, visions of the very soothing, warming and soft Mutton Pishpash swam before my eyes.
And I knew that was what I want.
The jhol can wait.

So today I will be having some steaming hot mutton Pish pash for lunch.
And I have this beautiful, spicy Mutton kheema recipe for you.
Beautifully cooked, creamy and spicy, this mutton kheema is the perfect dish for a winter dinner.
Or a lunch too.

I have made it the traditional Bengali way ... with lots of garlic, ginger and whole garam masala.
If you want to make it slightly dryish and pair it with Luchis, you can follow the recipe here.

Mutton keema
Need :

Mutton kheema or minced mutton - 250 gms
Curd - 1 teacup
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Onion paste - 1 tbsp
Ginger + Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Turmeric / Haldi powder - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Whole garam masala - 2 cloves, 1 small piece cinnamon, 1 black cardamom, 1 bay leaf
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Coriander / Dhania powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Water - for gravy

How  to :

Wash the minced mutton and marinate it with the curd for at least half an hour.
( You can marinate it and then go about preparing the masalas and other things in that time. )

Heat oil in a heavy pan or kadahi.
I use a well seasoned  iron kadahi / wok.

Add the sugar and wait till it changes colour to brown, on low heat.
Add the haldi powder + red chilli powder + the whole garam masalas very quickly.

Add the chopped onion and fry till it turns brown.
Now add the pastes and fry well till dry and oil starts to leave the sides.

Now add the minced mutton and stir and mix well.
Keep stirring and mixing on low heat till everything comes together.

Add salt and a little water and cover.
Cook on low heat till mutton is cooked.
Do check for water in between.

Once the mutton is done, remove cover and cook till all water evaporates.
Add the garam masala powder and cover for around 5 minutes.

Remove cover and serve hot.
Mutton kheema

This goes best with rotis or parathas.
But you can pair it with some crisp, toasted bread too.

A sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and some chopped onions on it, and you are good to go.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Moong dal cooked with fresh, seasonal vegetables

( Vegans just skip the ghee )

"Tumi ki ekhono eka bikele, anmoney, amake bhabo ..."

It is almost quarter past one in the night and that is Rupankar singing on shuffle mode into my ears.
There is a quiet all over ... the winter night has settled inside different coloured blankets; snug and warm.
The sky is unusually bright and the stars twinkle brighter than ever.
As I glance out into the night, I see a white layer of smoke on the trees. It is not fog.
Someone, maybe some of the night security guards of the buildings,  must have lit a fire on the streets, to stay warm.

"Akash e shona rong ..."
The song has a summery feel to it.
Reminds me of long gone summer evenings spent at home. I used to love staying up at night, either knitting or embroidering. And almost always, it would be Jagjit Singh crooning away.
Irony .... especially when it is the middle of winter right now.
That is the magic of music I guess ... can easily take you to back to summer evenings filled with balmy, heady breeze or to dark, rainy nights of thunder and storm, when it is actually cold and chilly outside.

Now, I have grown up and ventured into other aspects of music too. Like Bengali music is no longer limited to Rabindra sangeet for me. Or Bengali modern songs do not mean only those albums released during Durga puja.
I do listen to a plethora of other singers and their experiments with different genres.
And have learnt to love all of them.
That is how we grow up I guess. Learn to be patient. Learn to like and love.

Like, I like this very simple vegetarian dish made with just a few vegetables and some lentils.
Fresh, healthy and light on the stomach.

This is actually a cross between the very common Dalma and Moong dal with vegetables.
And it entirely depends on what masalas I have at hand .... as in dry masala powders.
I mostly use just the roasted jeera/cumin powder with a dollop of ghee to dress this. You can go ahead and use garam masala too ... but that might take away the fresh flavours of the roasted dal and the vegetables .... let me warn you.

I also add grated coconut to this for both nutrition as well as the flavour factor.
The fresh coconut adds a sweetness to this ... so no added sugar needed to balance the salt.
I almost never use tomatoes in my cooking ... very rarely if I do ... mainly because I do not like the hybrid fleshy ones that impart no taste at all.

Winter with its bounty of fresh vegetables is the perfect time to make this dal with vegetables.
Full of fibre and nutrition, it is great as a breakfast if paired with Soru Chakli pithe, as a lunch if paired with rice and some papad and achar, and dinner if paired with rotis or parathas.
Not to mention that it takes just a few moments to cook.

Need :

Yellow moong dal - 1 cup
Fresh vegetables - cut into cubes
I used potatoes + cauliflowers + drumsticks + okra + beans
Grated coconut -  ½ cup
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2, broken
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Roasted jeera/cumin powder - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - to cook ... around 4 cups
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp , I use mustard oil
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped. for garnish

How to :

In a heavy bottomed pan or kadahi, dry roast the moong dal till it turns aromatic and very slightly brown.
Remove from heat, cool and wash well.

Heat a pressure cooker.

Add the oil.
When smoking hot, lower heat and add the jeera + dry red chillies.

Add the ginger  + the vegetables and stir well.

Add the haldi + red chilli powder + salt + the dal.

Stir and fry well on low heat.

Add the coconut and enough water to cover everything .

Cover and cook for two whistles on low heat.

Remove from heat and cool.
Remove cover and check for consistency. If needed add some more water and bring to a boil.

Check for seasoning and add the ghee.
Cover and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of  roasted jeera powder and fresh coriander leaves.


PS: I am trying my best to compile and write about my trip to the USA in my travel blog, Country Roads,  as regularly as I can. 
I am almost always logged in there ... but it is a huge task shifting through all those photos and going back in memory ... especially when I am down with the sniffles and a sore throat and all the accessories that come along with them, right now.
They have kept me bed bound; but I will be posting my third post very soon.
Till then, do bear with me my friends.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Phulkopi Aloo Matar er Ghugni or Cauliflower and Potatoes cooked with dry Peas
Hello! Hello all!!
Hope all of you are doing very well and having a beautiful winter.
I am fine and doing very well, thank you.
And the reason I am sounding so bright is the line I came across on Indiblogger this morning.
"No comments? Every blog has its day. Keep blogging."

I am also smiling because of another trip looming in the horizon. It is still in a slightly swinging phase ... swinging between now or a little later,  ... but I am looking forward to it nonetheless.
I am still very much in zombie zone after that hectic trip to the USA and would have liked to savour some more 'me time' and rest.
But the call of kachoris and jalebis with hot milk on winter mornings, gobhi ke pakode in the evenings and homemade, delicious food and the loving pampering  and a little shopping thrown in, is too tempting to resist.
So I think I am ready to travel. Again. 😋

On another note, I hope you are following me on my travel blog ... Country Roads. I have been trying my best to sit down for a few minutes everyday to rummage through the uncountable photographs to select a few proper ones and edit them so that I can make a post regularly.
Not an easy job, given the loads of pending laundry and getting the house back into shape and resetting the kitchen routine again.
Still, I managed to put up my second post on my trip to New York City in November.
Do hop over to see some wonderful colours of Fall in Central Park.

Today's recipe is one easy jugaadu or 'put together in a hurry' recipe.

I had soaked some dry, white peas to make my usual Ghugni.
I usually cook them in the pressure cooker, where they turn very soft and get that perfect just mushy texture for the Ghugni or to be used as a filling for Phuchka or the Pani Puri.

Yes, I sometimes have Phuchka for dinner.
Home made.
But this time, I had boiled them in an open pot. This way, you can keep an eye on them and can take them out when just done.
I use the just done and firm ones in a lot of vegetable curries or thin jhols.
I was in a hurry the other night as I was knitting something and did not want to stay away from the pattern for too long ... the calculations go all haywire then .
But had to get up to make dinner. And I saw this beautiful cauliflower in the fridge, along with the bowlful of peas, I knew what I was going to do.
Just throw in everything together and voila! a simple, light vegetable dish comes to form.

This dish tastes best when made with fresh cauliflowers during winter.

Need :

Dry white peas - soaked and cooked in water with turmeric and salt
Cauliflower florets - cut into medium sized pieces
Potato - 2, cut into cubes
Grated ginger - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste ( optional ) - 1 tsp
Jeera or Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2, broken
Roasted jeera/cumin powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric or Haldi powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp ( I used mustard oil )
Water - depending on the amount of gravy you want
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
How to :

Heat oil in a heavy kadahi / wok / pan.

Add the jeera + dry red chillies,

On low heat, add the ginger + garlic paste and fry a little.

Add the potatoes + cauliflower pieces.

Mix well and add the turmeric powder + salt.

Give another good mix, raise heat and add the water.

Cover and cook till the potatoes are half done.

Remove cover and check for water.
If needed, add a little more.

Add the boiled peas and the red chilli powder.

Cover and cook till everything is cooked well.

Remove cover and check for water ... cook till it reaches the desired consistency.

Add the jeera powder and sugar.
Cover and cook for some more time.

Remove cover and  sprinkle fresh coriander leaves.
Serve hot.

I kept it a little dryish this time as we were having it with Luchis.
If you are having it with parathas or rotis, then do keep some gravy.

This makes for a wonderful winter dinner.
Pair it with Methi parathas  and some achar for a warm, wintery, weekend tv time dinner.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bengali Chicken Stew

These days, I am busy with two things. Other than admiring the weather, that is.
One, completing all my half done knitting projects. I just completed a baby blanket for a cousin's newborn. And am almost done with another poncho .... just the final sewing and finishing is to be done.
You can check out both on my handiwork blog .... soon.
Two, wading through the few thousands of photos to select, edit and put up along with my writings on my travel blog.
A mammoth task ... I tell you. What with three phone devices and one camera, it is not an easy job.
I just hope I will be able to round up and start writing before the feel of the trip wears out.
And I lose my mojo to write about it.

As far as the weather goes, it is getting beautiful by the day. We are getting a good winter this year.
Pune has seen temperatures as low as 10 and 9 degrees already.
And we are getting beautiful sunsets too.
I can smell the lovely smell of winter when I step out into the balcony after dusk.
Clear skies; bright, warm sun make the day. And the sudden cool just after sunset, mixed with the smell of leaves and dry air and earth and smoke from afar .... all make up that nostalgic, beautiful smell of winter.
I am planning some Bori and achar sessions soon. Let's hope the sun stays this warm for now.

Winter was setting in in the US of A too, when I was there recently.
As you step outdoors, the sharp, very clean air hits you and almost takes your breath away for the first few seconds. You breathe in and the sharp cold reaches the very insides of you.
Freshens you up like never before.
But you cannot smell winter.
Everything is sharp, clean, clear. And antiseptic kind of cold.
I am so glad to be back and take in our winter to the fullest .... complete with all kinds of fresh vegetable parathas and achars and stews and soups, et all.
Yes, I am a desi to the core.

Winter memories from my childhood come loaded with the smells and flavours of all kinds of food too.
While, at Dadu's (grandpa ) house it meant numerous kinds of pithe that Thamma (grandma ) made, at our house Ma had her own signature dishes.
Like the different kinds of soups and salads and mutton roast and her signature Russian salad. I hope to make a post on it this winter. On other days, there would be the Soru chakli pithe with a light potato curry. And the Luchi and ghugni at other times.

But my most favourite breakfast memory is of sitting outside in the lawn with a book, the sun on my back, along with my cousins visiting for the holidays. Ma would make poached eggs with lots of butter and crisp, toasted and buttered bread for breakfast. Along with would be a mug of hot chocolate.
How I loved that breakfast!
How I loved those mornings!

This light, Indianised chicken stew is another of Ma's creations that we loved. It has all the fresh root vegetables that are available in winters. And some fresh green peas too.
And while it does have the masalas like ginger and garlic and some garam masalas, this is not a jhol per se. Which means it goes better with bread than with rice.
But of course, you can try pairing it with some buttered and herbed rice and see how it goes.

The light, soupy gravy is redolent with the flavours of garlic and garam masala, perfect to keep you warm during the cold months of winter.
Works wonders for the months of rains too, as it turns pretty cold here.
Great to soothe the soul if you have a sore throat or the sniffles ... in which case do use big sized
bony pieces ... the juice from the bones are the real medicine.
Extremely warming, comforting with all the goodness and the healing properties of chicken, this stew is perfect to deal with the change in weather.

Need :

Chicken pieces with bones - 500 gms
Curd / Yoghurt - 1 cup
( if you do not have curd, use lemon juice or vinegar )
Black cardamom - 2 pieces
Cloves - 3 pieces
Cinnamon - a small piece
Whole black pepper - ½ tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger paste + garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Fresh vegetables - I used potatoes, carrots, french beans and green peas
Fresh green chillies - 2 pieces
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Cooking oil or Butter - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - enough to make a runny, soupy gravy

How to :

Marinate chicken with the curd ( or lemon juice or vinegar ).
Keep aside for 15 minutes.

 Heat a heavy bottomed pan or a deep wok / kadahi.

Lower heat and add the oil. Heat it well. 

Now add the black cardamom + cloves + cinnamon + whole black pepper + bay leaf.

Now add the chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent.

Next, add the ginger + garlic paste.
Fry on low heat till the raw smell goes away.

Now add the marinated chicken and stir well.

Add the vegetables

You can use tomatoes too ... I do not.

Add salt + sugar + turmeric and the fresh green chillies.

Give a good stir till everything mixes well together.
Add water.

Cover and cook till chicken is tender and well cooked.
Check for consistency of the gravy ... if it is too thin, dry it up by boiling it on high flame without covering.

You can make it in the pressure cooker too. But I prefer to make this on the stove ... slow cooked.

When done, remove cover and give a sprinkle of lemon juice.
And you are good to go.

Pair this with chunky pieces of bread or rotis.
Makes a fulfilling meal .... either lunch or dinner.

And stay warm all!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Mooli ki kadhi with no fry pakodas ... a desi vegetable soup for a desi winter lunch

 Hello! Bonjour!!!

Yes, it is me alright.
You know me, so you can ignore the greetings and be just plain happy, like I am right now, to be back on Kitchen-e-Kichu Khonn again.
And that greetings is my hangover from my recent visit to the Big Apple, via France.
Yes, I am just back from a longish vacation, all rested and raring to cook, eat, click and post again.

I had sincerely wanted to make a post or two initially, but after landing in New York, I was so caught up with the sightseeing and eating out and of course sleeping in, when the weather did not permit ... which was a rare one day, I thought I would give myself a proper break.
That way I could focus on the present .... and what a lovely present it was.

The weather was gorgeous and everybody said that I was lucky winter was arriving late this year.
I caught the fall, the fall colours and fell in love a thousand times in one day.
I walked like I have never walked before, taking in the sights and smells and the people and the highrises.
I ate like I had never ate before.
Even though American cuisine is mostly limited to meat,cheese and deep fried stuff, and a lot of salads too, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of vegetarian things on the menus of almost all restaurants.
Feta cheese and spinach ruled the roost but at least there were vegetarian stuff available.
B said the scenario has changed only recently. Earlier he used to have a tough time surviving here as a vegetarian.

I ate at some very good Indian restaurants too.
And can happily say that the quality as well as the taste and flavours are far better than what we get here in India. The Sarson ka saag and makke ki roti that we had one night, prepared by a Punjabi lady, ( you will get the whole story on Country roads later ) belonged to another level altogether.
Even better than what we had eaten in Amritsar.

And no, this is not a glitzy eyed, impressed desi speaking.
The food quality is really good out there.
Maybe because of the standards set; maybe because of the high price. Whatever the reason, I loved eating Indian food in the US of A.
 You will, of course, get to hear all about my trip soon. On my travel blog.
As soon as I sort out my house, my sleep timings, my eating timings and the thousands of photographs too.
I am still jet lagged and am moving around like a zombie.
After sleeping non stop for two days, I dragged myself to the kitchen and made some Chicken jhol and roti ... just to tempt myself to eat.
Today, I made this super simple kadhi with some vegetables thrown and had it for lunch.
Right now, quick, simple one pot meals or one dish meals are my saviours.

So thought of sharing this with you, along with my come back hello!.
Spicy, tangy and extremely light, this kadhi is perfect to slurp on during the winter. Pair it with steaming hot rice and you have one of the most perfect comfort meals ready.

If you have made my Bhindi ki kadhi, you will know how easy this is to make.
I love pakodas or the lentil dumplings in a kadhi, since they are the classic combination.
But I do not deep fry them.
Instead, I just add the dumplings directly into the boiling kadhi.
Works great.
And healthy too.

Need :

 For the kadhi - you will find the ingredients and step by step photos here 

 Radish or Mooli - cut into thin cubes
Okra or Bhindi - cut into small pieces
Fresh green chilli - 2, broken
Whole coriander seeds - ¼ tsp
Whole methi seeds - ¼ tsp
Hing - ¼ tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch 
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp ( not Kashmiri chilli powder )
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

For the Pakodas -

Besan or Gram flour
Red chilli powder
Crushed black pepper
Jeera or cumin seeds
Turmeric powder

How to :

Prepare the kadhi mix.

Make the pakora mix by mixing everything together.

In a heavy bottom kadahi, heat oil.

Add the coriander seeds, methi seeds and the hing.
Add the green chillies.

Add the bhindi and fry well on high heat.
Add turmeric and fry till it is no longer slimy.

Add the radish and fry well.
Add salt.
Cover and cook for a while.

Remove cover and add the kadhi mixture.
Add a little more water and adjust salt.

Cover and bring to a simmer on low heat.

Remove cover, raise heat and when it starts to boil, make small dumplings from the pakoda mix and drop into the boiling kadhi.

Lower heat , cover and cook for a while.
Do remember to stir in between to help the pakodas to float up.

Cook till the kadhi thickens to desired consistency.

Sprinkle homemade red chilli powder and chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve hot with steaming hot rice.

A healthy, spicy, tangy and soul comforting meal is ready!!
I will leave you today with a first glimpse of the beautiful Fall colours of the USA that greeted me even before I landed there.
Beautiful!! .... na?!

C'ya all again ... soon!!

Monday, 31 October 2016

A stir fried warm salad with fresh vegetables and kidney beans .... perfect, healthy meal for cold winter days
 Hi all!!
Hope you are having a wonderful festive time.
I did not have the time to come here and greet you but here is wishing you a beautiful Diwali and a prosperous new year!
The festive season has started in India long back with Ganesh chaturthi and continues still. Now with Diwali and then with Christmas and then New year and so on.
We Indians have no dearth of festivities and festivals.
And may we continue to celebrate life thus ... always.

Diwali this year has been more boisterous than the last two years, all around.
Last night, we saw crackers bursting with gutso and the air was so filled with thick smoke that we could only see the lights of our immediate neighbourhood.
The rest of the city seemed to be plunged into darkness.
We, as usual, take pleasure in watching the fireworks from our bay windows. Both of us do not believe in buying and burning crackers.
Rather, we set deck the house with flowers and lights and offer puja, prasad and aarti to the gods in the evening after the customary call home.
Mummy tells us the muhurt of the puja and perform the aarti then.

This year I made the family tradition of kachoris, puris and aloo ki sabzi for dinner.
And gulab jamun for dessert.
I have not made gulab jamuns for ages and B loves them. So made them.
Offered the food as prasad to the gods and then had a quiet dinner while watching the fireworks.
And of course in between attending to the occassional phone calls to wish us.

I have been caught up with some work that has been eating into my time for the last few weeks.
And no matter how much I tried, it was extremely difficult for me  to sit down and pen something here.
This will go on for some more time.
And so I will be taking a break from posting here.

I will, however, try to come and write a post or two and update you with the happenings ... but cannot promise.

Today, I will leave you with this beautiful warm salad made with seasonal fresh, winter vegetables.
I throw in as many vegetables as I can . And add some legumes to give it some body as well as balance.
I do not add any extra carbs ... you can throw in some cooked rice or noodles too, in which
case you will need to increase the amount of your condiments or sauces , if you are using them.

This makes for a full meal on any winter day or night.
You can also add some croutons and some plain Tomato soup on the side of you are having this for dinner.
This is my favourite dinner and I often add pieces of boiled or stir fried chicken , boiled eggs or sausages to it too, for that extra kick of protein.
And, of course, taste. :-)

Need :

Fresh winter vegetables - cut into slices
I used carrots, capsicums, cabbage, cauliflower, purple cabbage, fresh corns , spring onions, green peas, etc.
Boiled kidney beans
Chopped garlic
Chopped ginger
Onions - cut into slices
Freshly ground black pepper
Mixed herbs (optional)
Olive oil or any white cooking oil
Fresh lemon juice
( You can add vinegar too but lemon juice is a better choice for winters )
You can add kind of sauce you love

How :

Heat the oil in an open pan or kadahi / wok.

Add the garlic + ginger.

Raise heat and add the vegetables one by one.

Quickly toss and add the rajma / kidney beans.

Mix well on high heat.

If using any protein, add now.

Add salt + herbs + lemon juice + black pepper and give a quick toss.

Remove from heat before the vegetables turn soggy.

This is best eaten hot or warm.

So settle back in your softest couch and draw your warmest throw around you.
Have your bowl of hot soup ready beside you and a plateful of this super salad in your hands.
And sit back and enjoy your dinner snug in warmth, with maybe a movie on the telly.
While the quiet, cold, winter night sets itself on the world.

Bye all for now.
Will catch you the soonest.

Till then ... take care.
And enjoy every moment of life with kindness and joy in your heart!!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Burnt garlic noodles with stir fried vegetables
( Non vegetarians can add slices of chicken, sausage or eggs to this too. )

Durga came and left.
Lokkhi came and left.
I was so caught up with a thousand things that I hardly opened the laptop. I was away from facebook too .... I did a small customary post for Bijoya, though.
And now, life is filled with numerous chores that need to be done before Diwali.

Pujo went well this time.
I was more relaxed, actually went out with B, visited pandals, offered pushpanjali and had bhog too.
Ate from the food stalls a couple of times ... would have loved to eat more but my tummy drew the line.
I did share a couple of photos on my Kitchen-e-Kichu Khonn's page on face book.

Anyway, here I am, when realisation struck that I have not wished you all, my readers a Subho Bijoya!
I know it is a little late in the day but do accept my good wishes on Bijoya.
May the good always prevail in your lives.

Amongst other things, which included a short trip out of town for a few days, I am also swamped with a lot of knitting projects right now.
Recently completed this top ... so sharing a shot with you. Do let me know what you think of it.
I will make a fresh post along with the pattern in my other blog in a few days.

Pink top

Coming to today's recipe, I had made this quick noodles stir fry on one of our busy, rainy days.

I usually make Chinese for dinner ... which is why I can never make a post on them.
But this was made for a light lunch and so got to see the light of the day.

Unless I am making Hakka noodles, I love a little garlic in my noodles. In this recipe, I tossed the noodles in burnt garlic. And the flavour that burnt garlic gives is awesome.
I love the slight hint of sweetness from them after they have caramelised well.

As for the vegetables on the side, they are not actually dry. I added a little sauce to give them some body and bring everything together in harmony.
Quick to make, light on the tummy.
This is a perfect one in all dish.
 Need :

Cooking oil
Vegetables - cut in slants
( I had baby corn, zucchini, yellow bell peppers, red bell peppers, cauliflower florets, purple cabbage ,mushrooms )
Onions - cut into thick rings
Garlic - minced well
Ginger - chopped well  
Green chillies - chopped
Chilli flakes
Chilli vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Corn flour

How to : 

Boil the noodles in enough salted water.
Drain just before they are completely cooked and hold under running water to cool completely.
This will give you the perfect al dente noodles .... not over cooked and mushy.
Mix in a spoonful of white oil and toss well.
Keep aside.

In a kadahi, heat oil on low heat.

Add ginger + garlic + green chillies + the rest of the vegetables and fry on high heat.
 Keep stirring all the while.
Add thickly sliced onions + crushed black pepper powder + salt.

Mix corn flour in a little water + a little sugar .
Pour over the vegetables and fry well till dryish.

In a kadahi, heat a little cooking oil.
Let in the minced garlic and a little sugar.
Fry well on low heat till they turn completely brown.

Add in the noodles, salt and chilli vinegar.
Raise heat and toss well vigourously.

Sprinkle the chilli flakes and remove from heat.
To serve, lay the noodles on a plate and pour the vegetables over it. 
This is best eaten hot off the wok.


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Kheema stuffed paratha for Panchami and the festive season
 ( Vegetarians can make this using Soya granules as the filling. )
I uploaded these photos at eight in the morning sharp, today. Right after my exercise session.
And right on my first and only cup of tea for the day.
But as soon as I was about to write the first word, the day stepped in.
Breakfast needed to be done ... which was the favourite Aloo paratha. I had prepared the filling last night and the atta was done too.
But they needed to be taken out, brought to room temperature, rolled out and fried.
And just after b'fast was done, I came back and had just sat down when the bell rang.
I knew it right then .... this post will not have today's date.

But I can be very thick headed when I want to.
And I decided that I will make this post before lunch. That's it.
Easier said than done .... especially when the day is 'make lunch for two days' day.
Besides, it is Puja too.
So evenings will be spent at the puja mandap.
Which will mean eating out for me. But not for B.
Since the food stalls have too much of non vegetarian stuff all over, B does not feel comfortable eating from them. There are a few vegetarian stalls too ... but too few and far between.
And they too have only singara / samosas or sweets.
One cannot spend five days or evenings only on them.
So I prepare food for B at home. Either he eats and goes, or packs and eats later with me.
And hence the flurry in the kitchen.
Not to mention the darned weather outside. It has been pouring like there is no tomorrow, for days at a stretch. On Mahalaya, I had played Mahisasurmardnini on Youtube and willed myself to feel that Durga Puja is just around the corner.
But it was so dark and gloomy and wet outside, with the rain dripping down the window panes and a persistent fog hung all around that I stopped at the first song.

But today, the sun has finally emerged and the clouds are passing by a little hesitantly. There is a crispness in the air and it is very, very cold suddenly.
I pray that the weather holds and decide to play the Mahisasur mardini after all. But just as I started to hum, I knew I may not be able to listen to it for a long time now.
Not without my throat constricting and my eyes filling up. Not without thinking of Bapi.
And my home .... that will no longer be the same again.

So, I immerse myself into this load of cooking.
And while I type this, I keep one eye on the pan of rajma simmering away, while the okra is frying in another kadahi for a kadhi.
The third burner holds a deep kadahi full of vegetables and white matar / vatana boiling vigourously.
I am making the very favourite Santula ... bit this time I am adding some matar too. The rest of the boiled matar will go into the making a spicy ghugni that I will pair with Luchis on Shaptami day.
I have just removed a pressure cooker full of spicy Punjabi chole too.
So I am all sorted for the coming days.
Both for lunch and dinner.
Ok .... here is a quick shot sharing with you.

(It is 4:00 now!)

I have been occasionally posting daily food from my kitchen in an album on my facebook page ... so if you are following me there, maybe you will get a glimpse of all these food in the coming days of Durga Puja.
And yes, I plan to make some good b'fasts too ... so will try to post them as well.
Fingers crossed.

I have a beautiful recipe of chicken mince stuffed flat breads today.
Inspite of posting a non vegetarian recipe on my last post, I thought I will put this up for you.
I have used chicken mince here for two reasons .... one, I eat it more often than the mutton kheema; and two ... well ... I get it more easily than the mutton kheema.
And more importantly, it cooks faster and is a breeze to make.

You can follow the recipe here.
Do cook the kheema very dry  ... otherwise, the moisture will make it very difficult to stuff the paratha.
Do not add the curd or onion paste ... they will only  release water.
Do use chopped onions and green chillies though.
If you find it still moist, do add a spoonful of corn flour to it.

Typically, Bengalis make parathas, especially stuffed ones, with maida or refined flour.
But I make them with atta.

Need :

For the dough:

Atta or wheat flour
A little oil
Warm water

For the stuffing :

Chicken keema .... cooked very dry

How to :

 Knead the atta into a soft, pliable dough.
Cover and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

Break off medium sized balls from it.

Use some dry flour and flatten the ball. Stuff it with some filling.
Cover carefully.

Roll out into a paratha.
Do use dry flour when rolling, so that the paratha does not break open.

You can refer to any of the stuffed parathas recipe here for the procedure, step by step

Heat a flat pan or a tawa.
Put in a paratha and dry roast on both sides first.
Apply oil and fry till brown and crisp on both sides.

Vegetarians can make this Soya kheema for stuffing.
 Serve hot.
You can make some raita on the side.
Or enjoy it with just plain ketchup ... like I do.

Wishing you all a very happy Durga puja and a beautiful Navaratri too!!

There! I did it finally!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Macher dimer jhuri bhaja .... Spicy, scrambled fish roe and the beautiful day of Mahalaya

"Baajlo tomar alor benu" ....
The night before Mahalaya, there would be much excitement about setting the alarm for early next morning, much discussions on the time to set it to and setting the radio to the perfect band width so that we do not miss even a single word when Akashbani starts with the melodious strains of Mahalaya the next day.
I would still need a nudge or two by Bapi to be fully awake. By then Mahalaya would have started and be on the song "Baajlo tomar alor benu ....", meaning "Your flute of light has started to play ... ".
Durga is coming .... and that is all that is needed for any Bengali child to look forward to.
I would snuggle in with Bapi, under a thick, soft kaantha that Ma would throw on us to ward off the crisp cold of the of early morning that brought the hint of winter with it.
And it wouldn't be long before I was fast asleep again, only to wake up and realise that it was already morning. And the radio has been silent for a long while.

This year, Mahalaya brought with it a new episode of my life. The time when we realise that there is much more to life than what we have been seeing for so long.
The day of Mahalaya is the last, and most important day of the Shraddh period, that is made of a fortnight. In Hinduism, it is believed that Parlok, or the land of the dead , comes nearest to Mrityulok, or Earth, during this time. And hence, it is easier for the spirits of our dead ancestors to come nearer to us.
So, everything that is needed to be done for their peaceful next life is to be done on this particular day.

People offer pujas and offerings are made to the poor, the old and the needy.
It is believed that whatever our nearest ones have left behind or need in their afterlife should be offered to the needy. That way it reaches them.

While, once upon a time, I would have never given a thought to such beliefs, right now I yearn from my heart to be able to do anything that will help my Bapi to be at peace, where ever he is.
After he left us, I had innumerable questions in my mind.
I read books, looked up writings and followed spiritual lectures. No, I was not crazy to follow anyone and everyone.
I did look for logic.
And was astonished how much knowledge our heritage and ancient Hinduism writings held.
Devdutt Pattnaik's books helped me learn a lot.

Another wonderful read was the Mahabharat series from 1 to 10 by Bibek Debroy. It opened up a whole new world of what the real and the next world hold.
This series is very unlike the actual story of Mahabharat ... it does not actually says the story in anyway.
Rather, it deciphers every character's actions and thoughts .... and along with that it gives a beautiful insight to what this world and the next world holds.
And what actions are needed to be taken by every human being to make his/her presence and actions/ karma worthwhile in this life or on Mrityulok.

I was totally fascinated by this series. Especially the 10th edition. It opens up the world of Karma or actions .... what should be done and why.
And with every single guideline, there is a logical explanation.

It took me the past one year to read through them. And helped me deal with my loss and bring a lot of faith back in me. I picked up numerous points from them and added them into my life.
One of them was giving out to the needy.
It may be the poor on the children, the ill, small children or destitute women.
Do everything you can for them.
Feed them. Cover them with clothes and blankets during the rains or in winter. Hand out small treats to the children in the streets.
Anything that is possible by you.

While I and B have always done small things like keeping biscuits and chocolates in the car and handing them out to the children begging on the streets, giving out old clothes and sheets and blankets before every rains and winter, I had never actually cooked and fed them.

After Bapi's demise, I became obsessed with this one thing. Every weekend I would cook up a simple meal, make packs and hand them out to the needy as we roamed the streets of the city.
And the peace that settles our hearts at the sight of a huge smile, or if we are lucky to go through that same road and  get to see the children sitting down and eating that food, is huge.
And priceless.
We always look out for the very old and infirmed, pregnant women and small children.
And believe me, our country does not lack in them.

So this Mahalaya, I did just that.
Cooked all of Bapi's favourite dishes, packed them up and set off.
And finally, rounded the day off with ice creams to a big group of little children of construction workers nearby.

We were still smiling as we prepared for bed, the happy screech of a small voice shouting "Kulfi!!!!!!!" still echoing in our ears.

Shubho Mahalay all!!
Have a wonderful Durga Puja!! And happy Navaratri too!

And while you are munching on that delicious food, do think of the little children selling balloons or toys outside. Hand them some munchies and see your festivities light up even more with their smiles.
If you have been patient and reached here, you will be rewarded with a recipe that is awfully simple but is so flavourful, it will blow your mind away.
I had got a good amount of Rohu fish roe on one of my trips to my fish shop. And was tired of the same kind of Boras or even the ambols. I wanted to taste something different.
So, as usual, I turned to my friends and readers on my Facebook page.
And as usual, they were all very generous and shared some precious recipes with me.

The Macher dimer jhuri bhaja got the majority of votes and so I decided to keep the other recipes for another time and settle with the jhuri first.

Need :

Rohu fish roe
Turmeric powder
Lemon juice
Onions - chopped, use lots of them
Garlic - chopped, be generous with this too
Green chillies - chopped
Mustard oil
Fresh coriander leaves

How to :

Marinate the rohu fish roe with turmeric + salt + lemon juice ( this helps
hugely in taking away that fishy smell. )

Heat mustard oil and fry the onions + garlic + green chillies till they are nicely soft and golden brown.
Remove from the kadahi.

Add some more mustard oil and fry the marinated roe stirring constantly.

It will solidify quickly ... so break up the pieces and scramble well.
Add the fried onions etc and some red chilli powder.

Fry well for a while. ... till the roe starts to get slightly crispy brownish at the edges.
You will see the oil leaving on the sides.

Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and remove from heat.

This is one of the best things that I have eaten in my life.
Mix it with boiled rice and you are in food heaven. I needed nothing else on the side ... not even dal.

Some pointers :

* Do use a little more oil than usual ... that oil mixed with rice is awesome.
The sweetness of the garlic comes through as a surprise in every morsel.

* Do not heat the oil to smioking hot when fry the roe .... keep it slightly raw ... add the roe when just warm .... that flavour of the mustard oil comes through in the end and just blows you away. :-)


Monday, 26 September 2016

Tomato and Garlic chutney ... a spicy, tangy and peppy dip

Tomato garlic chutney

 Life is a mad rush right now. I had thought I could fit in two more posts this month easily but that is not to happen I guess. A hectic weekend and now a Monday that has passed by like a gust on a winter evening.
I know, I know I sound repetitive. But that is how it is .... almost every week.
Anyway .... with Durga Puja just around the corner and the rains playing spoilsport, my mind is not at all in the right place these days.
It has rained steadily for the last fortnight or more and the days and nights are extremely foggy, damp and cold.
I keep looking out for the slightest break in the clouds and a glimpse of sunlight ... no matter how thin.
But no such luck.

I am praying really hard that we get sunny days by Mahalaya.
Fingers crossed.

I do not have much to write tonight.
No, actually I do have but am real pressed for time. With loads  of things to do, I have added two more knitting projects to my daily schedule. And the only time I get to work on them is at night.

So have been sitting up late into nights and knitting, like there is no tomorrow.
And am loving it ... this change in my routine of going to sleep at ten in the night.

Tomato Garlic chutney

 Kind of takes me back to my long gone days when I was just a girl and loved to stay up late into the nights to read or to embroider or knit. I loved the quiet of the nights and the lovely breeze blowing in from our garden .... especially in the summers.

My little doggie would be fast asleep near my feet. And I would be so engrossed that I would have no idea how late it was.
Until Ma came and gave me a final warning to wind up and go to sleep.
Only then I would keep my things aside and go to my bedroom, the sleepy little one at my feet.
As I would climb in and lie down, I could hear her settle down under my bed with a sigh ... which I guess would be of relief.

There ... I am digressing.
Let me now quickly give you the recipe of this super quick Tomato and garlic chutney that I make and store very often.
Packs the punch of garlic and the tartness of the tomatoes.
Needs very less ingredients and is extremely good as a side or a dip.

I love garlic and have used a lot in this chutney. You can go easy on it if you are not much of a fan ... but let me tell you it is the garlic that makes this chutney so lovable.

Need :

Tomatoes - 6, big sized, chopped
Garlic - around 15 or 20 cloves
Onions - 1 medium, roughly chopped
Fresh green  chillies - around 4
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - a pinch 

Garlic chutney
How  to :

Heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a kadahi or wok.

Fry the onions till translucent.

Cool and grind in a mixie along with the garlic + green chilli + tomatoes.

In an open pan pour this mix and let it boil till the rawness goes away and it starts to thicken.

Add salt + sugar + a little red chilli powder and stir well.

In an other kadahi, heat 1 tbsp cooking oil.
Add the mustard seeds and once they start to splutter, add the curry leaves.

Pour this tempering on the tomato mix and let it boil till the chutney thickens well.

Remove from heat and cool.

Tomato garlic chutney
Store in an air tight glass bottle in the fridge.

This is great on the side with  handvo, idlis or vadas of any kind or any kind of parathas.
A spoonful on  hot rice is absolutely heavenly.
Spread it on a dosa or an uttapam and you won't need anything else for a meal.
And yes, I do spread it on bread too.