Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Bye 2008 .... Welcome 2009 !

Here's looking forward to a fresh new day .... new hopes ... new dreams ... a brand New year. :-)

May this year bring more joy, warmth, love ... a hand when needed .... a friend when lonely ... a shoulder for a tear ... a face for a smile ... a hug when cold .... some music for the soul ... sunlight when dreary ... a life very worthy ...

Here's wishing all my blogger friends a beautiful and joyous New Year !! :-)

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Tomato Chatni / Tomato Chutney

The Bengali chatni is quite different from the usual other chutneys. It is usually sweet ... and whatever sour tang it has, it gets from its main ingredients like mango or tomato.
Very simple to make, this chatni can be had as a spread with bread / hot rotis. Also goes great with stuffed parathas.
Need : Chopped tomatoes, sugar, a pinch of salt, curry leaves, whole red chillies, mustard seeds, sliced ginger and a little cooking oil.
How to : Heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Now add the tomatoes and salt. Cook till tomatoes turn mushy.
Now add the sliced ginger and sugar. Cook till all water has dried up.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Cakes & Rose Cookies .... Merry Christmas !

Studying in a Catholic school has, amongst a lot of other things, instilled this love for X'mas in me. Of course, the day has always been celebrated as an excuse for a feast at home too.
But what I still remember about school is doing up our chapel with the Nativity scene .... the wonderful smell of baking wafting from the Convent where the sisters stayed ... and if ever we went there on an errand (it was out of bounds for students except boarders), we would definitely get a piece of cake / pie/ some goodies .... visiting school for Mass in the chilling hilly area cold.... the setting of long winter holidays ...
So many memories. :-)

At home Ma would set about making an awesome lunch ... chicken, slightly sweet fried rice, her famous Russian salad, .... so many things .... not to mention a cake.

Then Mamata Mashi would come for lunch ... and bring with her Rose Cookies ( we used to call them Rose Cakes). This lady was our saviour whenever we felt like having Rose cookies. Nobody else made them. We just had to mention once .... and in a couple of days a huge box would reach us. :-)

I had bought a mould once I started started cooking on my own .... pined for these cookies. But these are such tricky things .... could never make them properly.

This time I followed Aparna's tips and measurements ... am so glad I found her blog ... and treaded this dangerous route. Made a decent few ...

..... before the batter / oil temperature / the mould started acting up.

So made these small pancakes out of the rest of the batter.

Merry Christmas all !!
Here's asking Santa for some peace and happiness for this world. :-)

Monday, 22 December 2008

Crispy Chole / Crispy Fried Chickpeas

This version of Chole is spicy and tangy... and slightly dryish too.
It is fast to make, especially if you have the Chole boiled and stored beforehand.
I used a masala tea bag while cooking the Chole .... no .. I do not use any cooking soda / baking powder while boiling them .... and miraculously that distinct smell of boiled chole disappeared.
I served it with Aloo tikkis ... which I can make real fast these days ... thanks to my aloo mix.

Need : Kabuli chana/ chickpeas ( cooked in a pressure cooker with a little salt & drained of all water ),
lots of chopped onions,
chopped ginger,
chopped garlic,
chopped green chillies,
dhania powder,
amchur powder,
red chilli powder,
chana masala powder,
a little oil,
a little rice flour powder,
salt and sugar to taste.

How to
: Heat a little oil in an open heavy bottomed pan. ( Do not use a kadhai ... the chole need to dry up fast).

Add the chopped onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies. Fry well.

Add the boiled chole and stir well. Add salt and sugar.

Add all the powder masalas and keep frying till dry.

Just before removing from flame add a little rice flour .... the flame should be high ... and keep stirring.

Remove and serve hot. Do not cover or keep for a long time ... else the crispiness won't last.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Onion & Chilli Corn Bread

Bharti has tagged me for a good cause and I have never been happier with a tag .... and am so glad I have it ready for my 100th post. Thank you Bharti! :-)

But first things first.
A big round of heartfelt thanks to everybody !!
To everybody who has visited my blog .. some of you I know ... some new to me.
To everybody who cared to leave encouraging comments.
To everybody who has encouraged me on, guiding & passing awards.
More importantly, to everybody who has stuck by .... I am not on any aggregator .... so all of you who keep visiting my blog/s regularly mean a lot to me. :-)

And to all of you who have found my blog worthy of being added to your lists / to follow. :-)

Thank you all for being such wonderful people !!

Now to my baking for this good cause .... Breadline Africa.

Breadline Africa is a charity based in South Africa works towards ending poverty in Africa by helping communities achieve long-term self-sustainability.
Breadline Africa was founded in 1993 by a group of community and social workers in South Africa and like-minded colleagues in Europe. Together they have raised funds in Europe and identified small, ground-level projects in Africa that are most likely to succeed with a financial boost.If you would like to join The Blogger Bake-Off, details can be found at their site. These are some of the ways in which you could be a part of the campaign.

* Join the campaign.
* Submit your bread baking recipe.
* Make a donation to Breadline Africa.
* Vote for your favorite recipe.
* Bake a loaf of bread and blog about it.
* Bake many loaves of bread and host a bake sale.
Bloggers who would like to bake for this cause may use the widget on their blogs and tag 5 other bloggers to Bake Bread, Give Dough and Feed Africa.
The rules for bloggers are outlined below:
1. If you are tagged, copy and paste the rules into your post.
2. Bake bread, do something you wouldn’t normally do, and blog about it. Upload your picture and recipe.
3. Give dough, donate to Breadline Africa and help us end poverty.
4. Tag five bloggers, and ping us so we know you’ve done so.
The person who raises the most funds will get to name a Breadline Africa community kitchen and win $500 Amazon Vouchers. There are also three minor prizes of $250 Amazon vouchers for people who receive the most votes in the following categories: Most Unusual Recipe; Most Nutritious Recipe and Most Traditional Recipe.

Since I do not know too many people ... and since the few I know are already tagged .... I'm taging the following for this worthy cause. Am short of one .... so anyone who wants to do this is most welcome. Do let me know ... I'll declare your name here.

Now to my baking bread. Inspite of having baked cakes, I have always shied away from baking bread. The thing that deters me most is the time needed .... not to mention my aversion to yeast ( I do not know why).
But for this I did get yeast .... but did not end up using it. It is still waiting on my kitchen shelf.
I wanted to bake a corn bread ... having seeing Shibani's Corn bread. I just can't get that beautiful piece of bread out of my mind still. :-) And I do always have cornmeal at home for hubby's favorite snack/breakfast.
Searched a lot on cornbread recipes and finally settled on an Old Fashioned Corn Bread ...... by Cyndi Allison. Looked easy ... and yes, no yeast. I followed the recipe as it is .... complete with the measurements. Only added a few other stuff on my own.
I had no idea how plain corn bread would taste ... so wanted to make it a little spicy. So added fried onions and green chillies to the batter. Picked up the idea of adding herbs from Shibani again. So the mixed herbs that I use for making pizza went into it.
And it tasted good. :-) Sorry Bharti ... for adding the egg ... but will make an eggless one the next time. And with yeast. :-)
As I was busy arranging and clicking, the morning sun shifted on my window ... and gave me a great snap.

We had it for breakfast on Sunday morning, with tea.
Here's hoping that every plate has enough food on it ... so that in this world of many pains ... at least the pain of hunger is not felt by anybody .... especially .... children.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Gajar Ka Halwa

Winter is still eluding us ... but then ... "dil ko khush rakhne ko .... " ... I am making all the dishes / snacks that we usually enjoy in winter .... and keep imagining it is cold outside while we dig into that paratha or sip that flavoured milk/tea.
The fog in the early mornings and evenings does assist us in our imagination ... and for a while I would love to forget that it is more of smog.

Got some fresh, juicy carrots of the season. And after a round of carrot pulao, carrot poha and carrot upma each ... not to mention the salads, I made the first Gajar Ka Halwa of the season.
My version is again easy and healthy. I always prefer the Bengalis' way of adding ghee to a dish after it has been cooked. Just a little on the top gives the required flavour and saves us from using huge amounts that is needed if cooked in.
Need : Grated carrots, sugar, a little ghee, half a pinch of salt, milk and elaichi powder.
How to : Heat a heavy bottomed non stick pan / kadhai. Add the grated carrots and fry for a little while.
When the carrots turn a bright orange, add a little salt and keep frying till all the released water has dried up.
Now add milk and let it cook on its own ... yes ... if you are using a non stick vessel you won't even need to stir it.
After it starts to thicken add sugar and elaichi powder and cook till done.

Spread a little ghee on the top and cover and let it stand for a while. You can garnish it with dry fruits too.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Crispy Bhindi

This is great as a starter if your menu is Indian. No deep frying ... and is done in minutes.

Need : Bhindis, cut down the middle lengthwise, besan, lemon juice, red chilli powder, ajwain, salt and a little cooking oil.
How to : Mix everything well. The besan should not be too much ... just enough to coat the bhindis.

Heat a little oil in a flat pan / tawa.

Shallow fry the bhindis till golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Fish Kheema Stuffed Bread Roll

Whenever I make Fish Kheema ( I make it to use up the parts that have too many bones to pick ), I make some snacks out of it. Of course, other than having it by itself.

This Bread roll can be done with any vegetarian stuffing too ... the commonest being the aloo or paneer. If you want to get the above look for the vegetarian stuffing .... use besan. Fry it well and add whatever masalas you want to. :-) 


Fish Kheema, bread slices, cooking oil for deep frying, a little water.

How to :

 Soak bread slices in water till completely soft. Squeeze out the water well.
Hold the soaked slice in your palm in the shape of a small bowl.
Fill in the stuffing and close your palm to make a ball.
Press well so that any water left would get squeezed out.
Heat oil. Slowly drop the balls into the oil and fry till golden brown .... like the ones below.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Jhaal Muri / Moshla Muri

(Updated photograph) 
One of Kolkata's very favourite street snack is the Jahl muri or the Moshla muri. You can see a man  standing every hundred feet or so ... with a stand that holds all the secrets to that beautiful thing that he hands you in a cone made from old newspapers.

One mouthful and you come across every kind of flavours dancing on your taste buds at one go. Crispness of the muri / puffed rice, moistness of the cucumbers and boiled potatoes, a few boiled chola or chickpeas thrown in, chopped coconut lending that required bite and of course green chillies for that eye watering spice.
Everything is coated with a generous amount of mustard oil ... no, most of them use oil from old achars , bhaja or roasted masala, red chilli powder and a mixed masala whose ingredients remain a secret as none of the moshla muri walas would talk about it.
Anyway, I suspect that is a way of creating intrigue and that masala has nothing more than rock salt+black pepper powder.

Anyway, every jhal muriwala has his own masala.

And so do I. :-)
Here is my recipe for the Kolkata Jhal muri.

Need :

Puffed rice,
chopped onion,
chopped green chilli,
chopped cucumber,
chopped fresh coconut,
finely sliced ginger,
moong sprouts,
boiled  kala chana,
roasted jeera + red chilli powder,
mustard oil or achar oil, some spicy namkeen
rock salt
lemon juice
black pepper powder
red chilli powder

How to :

I sometimes dry roast the muri/murmura in a kadhai ... for that extra crispiness .... and cool it and store.

In a big bowl, add everything .... the muri last .... or it will turn soggy.

Stir vigorously to mix well.

Moshla muri

Serve quickly.

Goes great with a cup of hot tea.

It is healthy as well as filling too.
Doubles up as my lunch on most days ... especially during the rains.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

Thieves are on the prowl :-(

I've just found out that a number of my snaps are being downloaded and used. Makes me mad. Real mad.

Why can't people do their own stuff? What fun is it when you get credit for something that is not yours? Aren't such people ashamed of themselves at the end of the day?

I have been reading how fellow bloggers have been traumatised at seeing their own stuff adorning somebody else's page ... and have always felt very strongly against it.
Today I know how it actually feels.

I wish such people knew that nobody is going to criticise them for a bad snap that they click ... or that they are not here to excel and get awards if they can post a recipe. There is no competition going on in blogosphere, for crying out loud.
There is enough place for originality.

We are all here to share ... recipes, moments, thoughts ... get a feel of togetherness amongst women all over the world who spend so much of time in their kitchens with so much love. If you are not a genuine person, sooner or later you are going to be found out.

So why steal in the first place?
If they do not know how to cook ... why at all are they interested in having a food blog? And who is going to keep patting their backs forever?

And if they do not know how to click a snap ... well ... I really do not know what to make of this.

Do be careful dear friends ... and all you food bloggers who put in so much of time and efforts into your blogs.

I really wish there was a way to protect our photographs. For text at least there is Copyscape.

I am going to warn the people who have stolen my stuff .... and after giving them a few days ... will publish them here.

And to wind up, I think the people who steal find the word Plagiarism a little adorning or maybe they confuse it with a Title. Or worse ... may have never heard of it.

So... to make things clearer for them .... I'll call them Thieves.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Palak & Dal Soup / Spinach and Lentil soup

It is December. It is supposed to be winter. It is supposed to be cold outside ... and you are supposed to cosy up in the evenings with some great, hot soup.
But the picture is very different. How can we enjoy soup when it is 31 degrees outside? Maybe I'll have to resort to cold soups for a while.

A nip in the morning air in the middle of Nov. saw me all excited and looking forward to some cold days. And I set off with my first soup of the season ... the palak soup.
My version of this soup keeps up with my basic rule in cooking ... simple and fast to make. No spending more than a required minute.

I did not fry the veggies .... just dunked them into the cooker with water .... and later blended the cooked stuff in the cooker directly.

I did not use any cornflour/maida to thicken. Instead I added a little moong dal .... it acts as a thickening agent ... and is healthy too. :-)
I did not use any garam masala or any other flavour that might overwhelm the natural flavours of the veggies.
And this version is completely fat free . If you want, you can add a dollop of butter while serving. If not ... makes no difference to the taste at all.

Need : Fresh palak leaves, trimmed and washed, a little soaked yellow moong dal, tomatoes, carrots, sliced onion, whole green chilli (optional), garlic cloves, salt and sugar to taste.

How to : Put in everything into a pressure cooker with enough water. Wait for 3 to 4 whistles.
Remove cover when steam is released completely and wait for a while to cool a little.
Blend everything .... if you have a hand blender, you can blend without removing from the cooker.
Reheat again till it starts to boil. Adjust thickness with water and check seasoning.
Serve with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.

Great as is. Or serve with croutons / hot rotis / herb bread and salad for a full meal. :-)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Lau Bori or Bodi / Lauki & Bottle Gourd with Sun dried Lentil Dumplings

Even though I make lauki in a number of ways, I like this version for two reasons.
First, it is purely veggie and hubby likes it.
Second, it is made the Bengali way ... read ... it has the flavour of Paanch Phoron ( a mix of equal quantities of methi, mustard, jeera, saunf and kalaunji seeds) and also the boris / bodi / vadi.

Bori / Bodi / Vadi is nothing but sun dried lentil dumplings ... that are called Mungaudi in Hindi ... the name coz they are made usually from moong dal.

While peeling the Lau / lauki / gourd, if you keep the peels a little thick you can make a fry from them .... the Lau Khosa Bhaja. :-)

This dish is easy and fast to make ... and has a distinct flavour that goes great with steamed rice and dal.

Need : Lauki cut into small pieces, chopped onion, paanch phoron, chopped tomatoes, whole green chillies, tumeric powder, dried lentil dumplings / bori or bodi or vadi , grated ginger, sugar and salt to taste and a little cooking oil.

How to : Heat a little oil. Fry the bori / bodi / vadi / mungaudis till they turn brown in colour. Keep aside.

Heat a little more oil in the same pan. Add the paanch phoron and the green chillies.
Then add the onions and fry for some time.
Add the lauki and stir. Add tumeric, salt and a little sugar. Cover and cook for some time.

Remove cover and add the tomatoes , the fried bori / bodi / vadi and the grated ginger. Cover and cook till lauki is done.
Serve hot.

Non veggies can add shrimp or medium sized prawns to this dish instead of the bori.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Posto Bora / Khus Khus Vada

Posto / Khus khus / Poppy seeds is an absolute favourite among Bengalis. More than using it as an addition to gravies, it is used as a dish by itself. Inspite of being on the dining table, if not every day of the week ... at least 3 to 4 days in a week .... no one tires of it.

In fact, you may come across a Bengali who may not like fish .... but chances are you will never find a Bengali who not only 'likes' posto .... but absolutely loves it.

And if they have moved to a new place, the second thing they will look for is a place where they can get 'good posto' ... the first being , of course, a place where they will get 'good fish'. :-)

I depend on my visits home .... or someone visiting from home .... for my supply of 'good posto'. I had run out of it quite a while back and was craving some when our S said he was going home for a few days and asked what would I want from there. And I shamelessly jumped at the offer and asked for some Posto. :-)

So here's my first post on Posto ... Posto Bora .... or Vadas made from khus khus paste. These are shallow fried ... well not exactly ... just browned on both sides ..... with the minimun of oil and have very few ingredients.

Just two things to keep in mind .....

If the posto is not good, you will get a bitter taste. Good posto always tastes sweet and fresh.

Always add salt in small amounts to posto. Due to its mild flavour, it tends to get salty very fast. So always taste and then add salt.

: Poppy seeds / posto (soaked for at least 2-3 hours and ground into a thick paste), chopped onions, chopped green chillies, salt to taste and a little cooking oil ( preferrably mustard oil).

How to : Mix everything together except the oil.

BTW .... if you mix the oil too .... you can have just like that ... like a salad .... no frying. Tastes awesome. :-)

Shape into tikkis. Heat a non stick tawa. Spray a little oil and place the tikkis.
Wait till one side turns brown.

Then flip them over and spray a little more oil and wait till the side turns brown.

Crispy posto boras are ready. :-)

Great with steamed rice and dal!
Joyeeta had tagged me long back. It is here where I usually speak my mind. :-)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Creamy Arbi

Once upon a time I was completely unaware that the vegetable Arbi existed. And later, found out that it not only existed but also is hubby's favourite. God knows what I went through after I held the boiled, slimy thing in my hands the first time.

Today it is a different story. I can make at least 4 kinds of Arbi preparations. And am told they are very good.
As for me ... there are a lot of things that I make and yet never even taste ... and Arbi is one of them.

Once, when I had some fresh whey at hand, I had added it to this dish for the gravy ... instead of water as usual. The dish got such a creamy flavour that I have stuck to this recipe whenever I am making Arbi with gravy.

If there is no whey at home, a little milk can be added to the gravy too ... but then that distinct flavour won't be there.

Need : Arbi ( boiled, peeled and cut into pieces), whey, sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, jeera, haldi powder, red chilli powder, a pinch of garam masala, a little cooking oil and salt to taste.
How to : Heat oil in a kadhai. Add the jeera and the onions. Fry for a while.
Add the tomatoes and fry some more.
Now add the cut Arbi pieces. Add haldi, red chilli and salt.
Add the whey, cover and bring to a boil.
Sprinkle garam masala powder and simmer for some more time.
Serve hot with rotis / parathas.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Muthiya Pulao

(Vegans can skip the ghee . )

This is another fast and full meal dish.
The word 'muthiya' comes from the word 'mutthi' or 'fist'. The small balls of kneaded besan are pressed with the fist to form the muthiyas.
Of course, the round besan balls can be used too .... but this shape gives a kind of novelty to this dish.

I had made the besan dough spicy and kept the rice plain flavoured.

The combination worked perfectly.

Need :
For the Muthiyas : Besan, haldi powder, red chilli powder, kasuri methi, a little cooking oil, amchur powder, hing and salt to taste.

For the pulao : Rice, sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, biryani masala, haldi powder, a little ghee, cooking oil, a little sugar and salt and sugar to taste.

How to : Knead the besan and all the ingredients with water. Make small balls and press them in the fist to make muthiyas.

Heat oil in a kadhai. Add the sliced onions and fry till they start to turn a little brown.

Add the rice and fry for some more time. Add the chopped tomatoes, haldi powder, salt and sugar.
Fry some more.

Now spread the rice and place the muthiyas on it.

Add water, just as you would to cook rice. Sprinkle a little ghee and biryani masala. Cover and cook till rice is almost done.

Turn off heat and let it stand for a while.

A piece of muthiya anyone? :-)

I had made a salad with it ... but it goes great with plain dahi or raita. :-)
This goes to dear Srivalli who is hosting Rice Mela till 30th Nov.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Gatte ki sabzi

This is another Rajasthani dish that I have learnt not only to make but also relish. It may be common to a lot of people, but for me it took time to get the hang of it. And I realised it does not take much time. Not to mention being minimalistic.

This dish is a big help when you want that one curry dinner or when you have run out of green veggies. The only thing you will need to have at home is sour curd. And of course besan. :-)

Here's the recipe for Rajasthani Gatte ki sabzi.

Need : Besan, sour curd, red chilli powder, haldi powder, jeera, a pinch of hing, a little cooking oil, salt, water.

How to : Knead the besan with a little oil, salt, red chilli powder and water to make a dough.

Divide into balls and roll them on a flat surface to make long strips of gatte like so.

Heat enough water in a deep vessel. Add a little salt and oil to the water to prevent the gatte from sticking to each other.

Add the rolled strips into the water when it starts boiling. When the gatte get cooked, they will float to the surface (notice the small one).

You can check by cutting a gatta with a spoon to see if it is done.
Drain the gatte and cut them into small pieces. These can be stored in the fridge and used later too.

Heat oil in a kadhai and add jeera and a little hing. Now add the gatta pieces and fry. Add haldi powder , red chilli powder and salt.
Beat curd with a little besan ( to prevent curdling ). Add to the fried gatte and keep simmering till you get desired consistency.

Great with hot rotis. I love it with plain hot rice as it complements the spicyness of the dish.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Aloo Tikki Sandwich

Much as I stay away from canned / preserved food, I came across this dehydrated aloo mash in the stores that is a real boon.
All you have to do is add water to rehydrate it and you have mashed aloo in minutes. Make stuffed parathas,tikkis, .... whatever.

Made some tikkis and and a fast breakfast sandwich. There was nothing else that I could add .... if you want to, you can add mayonnaise / ketchup or a little mustard sauce too.
I had grated in some carrot too.

Need : Mashed aloo, frozen / parboiled green peas, grated ginger, grated carrot, chopped green chillies, onion sliced in rounds, cucumber slices, tomato slices, salt and freshly ground black pepper, a little cooking oil / butter, bread slices.

How to : Add the chopped green chillies, ginger, salt and the peas to the aloo and mix well. Shape into small tikkis.

Heat a non stick tawa and roast the tikkis with just a little spray of oil.

Toast the bread slices till brown. You can apply butter on them if you want to.

Arrange a tikki and some onion, tomato and cucumber slices on a bread and sprinkle salt and black pepper.

Cover with another bread.

Done! Great with a hot cup of tea . :-)