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. :-)