Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year That Was

The year that was, all filled with high emotions, ups and downs is preparing to leave now.
We have seen for the first time how a simple next to door guy can show us to be a winner at olympics.
Then the somersaulting of economy, recession, jobs cut down and many more.
We have seen how many lives changed post 26/11 in Mumbai , a haunting trauma and politicians making mockery of our sentiments.
And there was a history in making ,Barack Obama elected President of USA.

As a food blog, my journey completed two years Here .
Then I tried making some good Bengali fish dishes Bhetki fish curry and Hilsa fish recipes and Pabda fish curry and Mochar Ghonto to name a few.
And then the vegetarian dishes also like a typical UP dish Nimona and Chorchori which is so fondly eaten in Bengal ,and Notey Posto labra , and also Handi Paneer and Paneer manpasand .
And then some funny moments as well Chicken Biryani post .
Well even I liked making Steamed cakes , and then Hubby Dears contribution Hearty fish curry which was a sweet surprise.

It was yesterday, the incidents that are part of past now, but the memories are still fresh.

Good thing is that I discovered many new blogs, many of them kindly thought to stop by; I followed the link and found out so many new recipes, cultures to explore.
This gives immense pleasure to post recipes, cook food and take snaps.

So,lets now hope for the best in coming year, may the new year brings us more success, peace and prosperity.
Let’s hope for the change this coming year, as hope gives faith, faith leads to directions and directions leads to goals.Goals that needs to be reached and wishes that lay still unfulfilled.
On this positive note.

Let’s hope the coming year is peaceful and prosperous.

Wish everybody a Happy New Year

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dates Tomato Chutney and Happy Christmas

Let me first wish everybody a happy Christmas .May God Bless everybody and let there be peace and prosperity in earth.
Well we were busy decorating our small Christmas tree.My little one was more than happy to help me out decorating the tree.Her little wish was fulfilled by Santa this year .When she woke up it was a cute, lovely doll that was waiting for her. Her granparents were the real Santa this time!!

Now to the recipe, this is tomato chutney, made with dates, raisins and mango candies, called aamsatto in Bengali.
Bengali’s love this tomatorer Chutney and it stays fresh for 3-4 days and even taste better the other day.

Dates Raisin Tomato Chutney
3-4 tomatooes chopped

1 cup of dates ,seeds should be taken out for better.
½ cup of raisins, and Aamsatto
½ cup of sugar or as per taste
Some water

In a large pan/kadhai, add chopped tomatoes, dates and raisins(Kish-mish)
Add in sugar+ some water+aamsatto
Now lower the flame and cover
Cook for 7-10 mints at low

Take out and let it cool.
Store in refrigerator, stays fresh for 3-4 days.

Wish Everybody a Very Happy Christmas .Let there be peace and prosperity on earth.
Happy cooking friends


Mango candie or mango leather is a dried and sweetened mango pulp.
Generally the pulp is taken out after peeling the skin,pureed and it’s sweetened either by jaggery or cane sugar, and then its smeared on a gresed plate .This is then sun-dried for 6-8 days depending on the availability of sunlight.
On the other hand, its possible to make it in a conventional oven just like some people make sun-dried tomato, or roasting of vegetables .One thing that should be kept in mind is the temperature and duration of drying .Its always good to make it at low temperatures kind of very slow process.
Or any fruit pectin can be used for making mango candie also.

This chutney is most flavorful if made with sundried mango leather or aamsotto.I am sure mango leather is available in Indian Grocery Stores as aam papri .

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Celebrating Two Years of Blogging with Kalakand

One fine Morning, a little sparrow was woken up by the soft, yellowish, sun-ray shining through its nest, her home. Her mother had gone out,to get food for her.
She was curious, her eyes blinking to the vast blue sky. She decided to explore the world all by herself. It was difficult to fly through those spiky branches of mango tree.She did spread her wings and tried to soar off from the branch, but couldn’t. Another try, she tried to run few steps and then glided her wings against the winds, but she again failed. She tried it for several times this way, but was unable to fly.
Next day, she asked her Mother, how she was able to fly and cover so long distances.
Her mother replied,” My child, it’s your sheer will power, that guides you to rise against the winds and of course a little practice also."
She asked in amusement,” Will you help me to fly.”
Her Mother replied,” I will be there for you always, and will definitely help you to fly.”
That day, after few hours of trial and error, some bruises and some hugs, the little sparrow took her first flight of fantasy. Her flight was very short lived from one branch of mango tree to another branch, little away, but that gave her immense pleasure and satisfaction, that she was able to fly finally.
Little steps now taken will help her to fly high many miles. A little assurance from her mother will make her strong and ready to face the wind.

We all need that much of inspiration and help in our difficult situations. I must thank my Mother also for helping me out whenever I was clueless about certain things in my life.
Her valuable feedback while I was trying out dishes in my kitchen, separated many miles away.

This Blog was started as a hobby first .Here is My First Post , just to keep records of what I was cooking at that time and also to recollect the tips and technique my Mother and Mother-in-law gave to me unconditionally. Slowly it took some serious turns; I started experimenting with new ingredients, techniques, and also was juggling around to retain the Traditional Bengali cooking.
I have found it only helped me to grow as a cook, as a person.

Over the period of time, I have also come to know many good blogger friends, and some good blogs with treasure of good recipes.
On completing two years in blogging, I must extend my heartfelt warm wishes to everybody who loves coming to here.Read my post, give valuable comments or suggestion, or just drop by to say a simple “Hi”, have subscribed and check my posts even by e-mails.Thanks to all of you for standing besides me and trying out recipes from here.

I am still learning and it says learning is a continuous process, it never stops.”
So, let’s now move to the recipe,

Kalakand is a sweet, which is so fondly eaten by elders and young ones in our home.
This is made entirely of milk and its product Paneer (Cottage Cheese), the mixture is slowly cooked, stiring continuously on a deep bottomed pan/wok/kadhai to get a dry crumbly mixture which is then cooled and cut into cubes.The main point that should be noted while making this sweet is the thickening of milk called as Kheer in Bengali and Khoya in Hindi.Now For this method one has to be little patient, as this involves a little working up, stirring milk in Pan.The thickened milk is the key to a good kalakand.I have added condensed milk also ,which imparts a nice flavor and since the sugar is already high in condensed milk, the need to add extra sugar is very less.
I hope you all try making it once.

Serves 10-12 pieces

Ingredients 500 ml or 4 cups of milk
750 ml of milk to make paneer or 2 cups of home-made paneer
Half tin of condensed milk
3-4 heaped tbs of sugar
1tsp of cardamom powder

Making of Paneer (home-made cottage cheese)

Bring the milk to boil, add some –leftover sour Curd/yogurt or lemon juice or citric acid.
Stir and let the milk curdle up.Let it cool.
Take out the paneer in a muslin cloth; hang in to discard the water/whey.
Making of kalakand
Tip-Use a deep bottomed pan/Kadhai
Bring to boil half liter of whole milk, now reduce the heat, let it simmer till it reduces to half.Stir in while the milk is thickening.
At this time add condensed milk, sugar TIP- as condensed milk is sweet itself, its better to add less sugar.Taste it and if you feel ,then only add more sugar.
Mix in well and stir it continuously.
In a separate bowl, crumble the Paneer with spoon or thoroughly washed hands.
Add crumbled paneer to the above mix and stir well so that it doesn't stick to base.
At this time the mixture in pan will be little watery, cook it at low to medium flame so that the paneer/milk mixture dries up.
Grease a plate with ghee/oil and gently take out the mixture over it.
Let it cool and then refrigerate till it gets firm.
Take out and cut into cubes.Serve with chopped pistachio or almonds or raisins which ever way you prefer.
This is going to meet fellow recipes at Happy Cook's home event ,please visit here for more details ~ ~ Home-Event .This is a nice event Happy has come up with to celebrate her Blog anniversary.

and to Yummy Food , visit here for more details ~~ FIC . Food-in-Color is a very well known food event started originally by Sunshinemom, now her baby is being adopted by Kitchen Flavors for this month....
Check out both the food events for more details.

Happy Cooking Friends

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Amaranth Leaves Stir/Fry(Notey Posto Labra)

Green leafy vegetables play an important role in our overall diet. Amaranth or Amaranthus is one of them. It has many sub-species of red, green, pinkish, deep brown etc…
But popularly it’s the green small leaves that are eaten fondly in northern part and Andhra Pradesh as Thota Kura in India. In eastern UP, India; it is known as Chaulai in local/regional language.Amaranthus leaves are packed with goodness of nutritional component, but other than the leaves, it’s the seeds /grains that are also eaten.
More info about Amaranth, Visit Here

This is a very Traditional way of preparing Notey or Amaranthus leaves in Bengal an eastern region in India with poppy seeds paste. Bengalis love to eat it with warm cooked rice. Here is how we prepare Notey Posto Labra.

Posto diye Notey shaker Labra

1 bunch Amaranth
1 medium size potato
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1tsp of red pepper powder (add more for more hotness)
1 -2 tsp of panch phoron(or can add kalounji/nigella seeds)
1 tsp of sugar
2-3 tbs of mustard oil


Prepare the Poppy seed Paste

In a grinder add the Poppy seeds, little bit of water and little bit of butter, to make a smooth paste. You may add liitle bit of roasted Peanuts with it also to make it even creamier.

Prepare the stir/Fry

Clean the green leaves of Amaranth, discard torn or wilted leaves. Clean the chopped leaves thoroughly in water 2-3 times to get rid of mud /sand if any.
Heat up kadhai or any heavy bottom Pan/Wok ,add mustard oil , add the panch phoron mix , let it splutter.
Now add diced, cubed potatoes .Fry it for 1-2 mints at high.
Add turmeric powder, red pepper powder, salt, sugar.
Add the cleaned leaves of green Amaranth.
Cook at high for 2-3 mints, lower the flames and cover the kadhai/Pan.
Cook the leaves till soft and deep-green in color. Now add the pre –prepared poppy seed paste. stir/fry and cover, cook another 4-5 mints.
Mash it well to evenly consistency to have the Labra Texture,or you can leave it that way.
Take out in a bowl and have it with rice or roti.

This is going to Ivy at ~ Kopiaste... ,visit here to see more ~Weekend Herb Blogging #161 / and do visit Halo at ~ Cook Almost Anything for further details .

Happy Cooking Friends

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Roasted Brinjal (Begun Pora)

Aubergine is a great vegetable in UK, this is our very own brinjal in India and if you are living in US then its eggplant. One vegetable and three different name.
Then there are other names in regional languages like Begun in Bengali, What you call Brinjal in your mother tongue. Do let me know it will be great to know.

There are some very famous proverbs in Hindi which talks about color change. And that color change depicts the human psyche and estranged human nature.
Main gosse se lal ho gayi as if the color is a great way to depict the bad mood.

Or have you seen an angry Hero in a Hindi film shouting at the Villain and the color changing in the back ground. White –red-green-white-red-green.
Now at this point, I wonder do people also changes color?

Or have you seen the color change during a magnificent sunset or sunrise.
Or when a normal curry is flavored with turmeric powder, the color changes immediately to vibrant hue of yellow.
Or when you roast a usual vegetable, chicken or meat, the color also changes.
This is true in case of Brinjal also, Like the Purple Brinjal Change its color to Black when it’s roasted slowly on open flame placed on a wire rack .People way back even used to roast it over hot Charcoals when they have no other options or means.
Basting (rubbing with sauces or oil) it with oil or butter is preferred but not mandatory.
Roasting imparts a deep brown to black color to the vegetables. It results in caramelization of the skin which gives this distinct smoky flavor.Chemically it’s the reaction of a amino group and the reducing sugar , well I leave it up to that only.

Now, there is one such great event which talks about colors in cooking FIC being hosted by a colorful and vivacious host SunShinemom.

I personally think roasted brinjal taste good by itself, with a dash of salt and mustard oil( a must for Bharta) only.There is no need to add much spices or herbs to enhance the flavor.This is how we prepare roasted Brinjal in our home.

Roasted Brinjal( Begun Pora)
1 large Brinjal/Aubergine/Eggplant
2-4 tsp of mustard oil
Salt as per taste
1 onion chopped
4-5 tsp of fresh coriander leaves
Wash and Pat dry the Brinjal, Prick with a knitting needle in the middle to and fro in the middle.
Now at medium flame, roast the brinjal, see the steaming brinjal on stove top.Its fun to see it fuming.
After few minutes rotate the side and see the juices coming out. Ok ,It gave up its challange.
When it's completely burnt .Cool out and remove the burnt skin of brinjal carefully with knife or spoon.
Mash it with mustard oil, onion, salt and coriander leaves.
It’s ready to be eaten with roti. Quick and Easy.

You can add ginger, garlic, tomato and other herbs like Parsley or cumin powder etc, depends on the variation you are looking for.

Happy Cooking Friends
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bharvaan Karela(Stuffed Bitter Gourd)

I was kind of reluctant to include Bitter gourd /Karela in our usual meals. Bengali meal however, always starts with Teto or bitter, that includes korola/kumro Bhaja or shukto which is a medley of vegatbles prominently Bitter gourd.
Now, with passage of time, I discovered the medicinal value of bitter gourd, thanks to in-laws and parents. I now make it a point to include it at least twice a week.
It’s generally easy for me to mash together boiled bitter gourd and potatoes or pumpkin. One whistle in pressure cooker that’s all is needed.
Bitter gourd fry on the other hand, takes a little bit of time and oil, but it taste great with fried onions or pumpkin pieces.

Now there is this another way of preparing bitter gourd in UP, which I really like eating .It tastes exactly just like a pickle, spicy and savory and surprisingly no trace of bitterness.
I really liked the way my childhood friend once told me about this preparation long time back which I tasted in her place while doing joint-study for our exams.

Bharvaan Karela (Stuffed Bitter Gourd)Ingredients 
Long Bitter Gourd - 4
2 medium size onion
2-3 tsp of fresh ginger paste
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of salt for frying and 2 tsp of salt for marinating the bitter gourd
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
2-3 green chilly slit in between
2 tbs of fresh curd or yogurt
1 lemon ,for lemon juice , makes 3-4 tsp of juice or you can add amchur powder also

.Marinating the Bitter Gourd Peel the outer serrated parts of bitter gourd with a peeler.
Make an incision in between and take out the seeds and pith ,now wash the Bitter Gourd thoroughly in water, sprinkle salt generously and rub them inside also with salt ,refrigerate the salted bitter gourd.
TIP- If you are making this dish, its better to marinate them in salt the day before you are going to prepare, this way they do not turn out bitter.

Preparing the Filling for Bitter Gourd
Heat up a kadai, add oil, sauté some fresh ginger paste, chopped onion, and add coriander powder, green chilly, red powder, garam masala, salt , fry for 4-5mints till onions become little brown , add lemon juice and yogurt , fry till yogurt dries out in the fried masala.
Take out in a vessel and cool the masala for stuffing

Stuffing the Bitter Gourd

Clean the Bitter Gourd in water 2-3 times thoroughly.
Now with the help of a spoon or even hands , fill in the masala .
TIP-Tie it with thread so that the masala don’t get out while frying them.

Frying the Bitter Gourd

Heat up the Kadai again, add 2-3 tbs of oil , now place the bitter Gourd gently , and cook covered at low for 7-8 mints , Turn the sides and repeat the cooking process for the other side .Take out and drain in paper towels .Eat with rice or roti of your choice. 

If refrigerated it remains fresh for 3-4 days.

Happy Cooking Friends

I would like to submit this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging , a well known food event ,originally started by Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen
Now Being maintained By Halo Of Cook Almost Anything .
This week host is Scott of RealEpicurean .
Please visit these lovely sites for more details.

other recipes for WHB~
~Cauliflower Potato Curry
~Zucchini capsicum Curry

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chicken Biryani For Rice-mela

What happens when you are tired after a hectic morning work schedules and you are preparing yourself for afternoon siesta, so that you can charge up the batteries for life.

You hear a commotion and you start cursing the things around you and with a tired look you roll over the curtain and see huge lighting equipments and professional cameras like these

And then you hear lights camera rolling and action …
You pinch yourself and wonder you are day dreaming while still awake or what?
This is what exactly happened on Monday and I was and am mesmerized by this experience, kind of awe of it.
Can you imagine my plight, all happening just in front of me; I can see clearly the whole unit of this Bengali Film, from director to cameraman to the upcoming actor and actress.
And hold your breath The dancing King, the Disco Dancer Mithun da Aai!
I was left little disappointed as his get-up was very unusual, couldn’t get the real image but then ,I had no other option also .

These are real hard working people, for one shot they gave 7-8 retakes, people behind these stars are the real heroes, they hold the camera, give the finishing touch, the light men, spot boys, junior artists and some unsung names also. Yes, I now exactly the ABCD of film making …Hurray!
Shooting of the movie, later I came to know, was made the entire day, exploiting the damn every corner of our housing society.
I heard a loud sound of “pack-up” and the park was all clear within 1 hour except for some “white plastic cups and plates” …ahhh! What a great evening it was.

Let’s just go to the Biryani recipe now.

Chicken Biryani
Serves for 4-5 people
Chicken 500-750 gms
Rice- 4cups ( I used Govind Bhog Rice ,little less long than the usual basmati Rice)

Masala For Chicken Gravy
5 onions chopped
5 garlic pods
½ inch ginger
1 ½ tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 cup of fresh home-made yogurt
¼ cup of cream (optional, but if added it gives the richness to Biryani)
4 tbs of mustard oil
1-2 tsp of salt or as desired
1 tsp of sugar

Masala for Rice
2 onions chopped finely
4garlic pods chopped finely
2-4 tsp of ginger paste
½ tsp of red pepper powder
1 tomato chopped
2-3 tej patta
½ cup of cashews
½ cup of raisins
2-3 potaoes fried whole (optional to add in Biryani)

Wash the rice thoroughly in water and soak it for half an hour.
Meanwhile chop all the ingredients for chicken Gravy and make a smooth paste.
Make paste for ginger/garlic separately and the onion paste separately.
This would help fry the ginger and garlic well.

Now heat up a Kadhai, add mustard oil,add sugar and the smooth masala paste of ginger/garlic first fry at high for 1-2 mints.

Add the onion paste and continue frying at high for 2-3 mints.
Add the dry ingredients like turmeric, red pepper and coriander powder and salt.
Fry at high for 5-7 mints till the rawness of paste is gone.
Now add the chicken pieces. Add ½ cup of water and stir/fry for 5 mints.

Continue cooking at medium flame with out covering and sometimes adding little bit of water when the gravy dries out. Stop when the chicken is teneder, this generally takes about 30 mints without cover at medium flame.

Note-If the chicken is marinated before cooking,it tastes great even more.I didin't had that much of time ,so I skipped this step.But I would highly recommend to follow marinating the chicken pieces before cooking.
Making of rice or biryani
Heat up the kadhai, add refined oil, cumin seeds, tej patta
Now add chopped ginger/garlic and onions, stir/fry them till the raw smell fades away.
Add the rice and chopped tomatoes, fry at medium-high, stiring continuously and when the rice becomes translucent and shinning . Add cashews and raisins.

Transfer the entire fried masala rice to pressure cooker.I have cooked the biryani in pressure cooker(this gives the real space to rice grains and chicken pieces with bones to cook evenly) without locking the lid. You can use any big heavy bottom saucepan/dekchi for cooking the birayni.
Add water, it should be for 4 cups 5 cups of water. Cover the pressure cooker .You can add medium size fried potatoes to the cooking rice also.

Cook covered and check the rice when its half or ¾ done, this generally takes approx 10 mints.
Now transfer the cooked chicken gravy with chicken to the rice that’s being cooked.
Mix in well or you can layer the rice and then chicken gravy alternately,I generally prefer to slightly mix in with gentle touch.

Check if the rice is cooked, if not add little bit of more water, this time a little warm water to the cooking Biryani. Please cook at low.
Cover and place a weight over the saucepan. I had seen placing the Nora over it ,when my Father used to cook the Dum Ka Birayani .Since I didn’t had Sheel Nora , I didn’t put that .
This generally takes another 10 mints or depends on the rice you are using.

It’s better to prepare the Dum Ka Birayni 2 -3 hrs before serving ,as the cooked rice grains starts to dry up when it’s cooked, making it easily fluffy.Accompanied by lauki raita(will post later about it) ,it was a welcome change to our mundane menu.

This is going to Sri's Place at Cooking For All Season visit here for more details Rice Mela .

Happy cooking Friends

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mochar Ghonto (Banana Blossom Stir/Fry)

We have made our life so busy that sometimes we don’t even stop and ponder for few mintutes, and think about the things which used to make us happy.
One happy moment for me was to visit my grandmother’s home or our ancestral home.
There were big papaya tree, neem tree, drumstick tree and some flower plants like shiuli,joba ,togore pholer gach ( shrub)etc.
One thing which used to give me immense pleasure was to see long queues of banana Plants and banana blossom. These remained as somewhat GolpoKotha (Bookish Tale),for me now. The hustle- bustle of urban life has made us, somewhat robotic living in Pigeon hole.

As I was passing the vegetable vender’s shop in an auto , across the road side (Yes that’s how vegetables are sold here every morning and evening) I saw fresh Banana Blossoms or Mocha being sold out there .Just wished it could be so wonderful if I try making them again.
And the next day, FIL came back after a session of morning walk with mocha (banana blossom)Mind you there are specific days when Mocha should be purchased, never on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Never ever occurred to me to post about it, as I was thinking Mochar Ghonto being so traditional dish; nobody would have that much of patience and even desire to cook it.
But there are few at my little one’s Preschool, who constantly asks me for this recipe.
Here Girls this is for you.

But before the recipe.
Something about banana blossom or Mocha.
Mocha pronounced as Mo Cha, Cha as in Chair in Bengali.

Flowers of banana also known as banana blossom grows at the end of stem holding many bananas.
The male flowers are enclosed in the layers called as bracts which are generally discarded while cooking the mochar Ghonto.
These Bracts can be used for serving any salads, or some decorating food articles.
Each Flower has a somewhat hard stigma which is enclosed in the flower, has a grayish to blackish round tip and it resembles quite like thin match sticks. This needs to be plucked out while cleaning and chopping the flowers. These flowers are in clusters of 10 enclosed in the each Bract.
While penetrating or taking out the layers of bracts, we will go towards the heart of banana blossom which would be little off-white or pale yellow in color. These are very dense as far as their outer flowers are concerned. This is chopped finely and there is no need to take out the stigma.
Please remember while Chopping Mocha
While chopping Mocha, its better to place near
1 large saucepan with water
1 news paper over which you can place the cutting board
1 bowl with few tsp of mustard oil,to grease the knife and hands.While cleaning and Chopping Mocha,sometimes hands gets black color which does fade within 1-2 days.But when greased with mustard oil, this can be prevented up to a great extent.
Sharmila says " rubbing with lemon juice also helps in "

Mochar Ghonto

(Banana blossom stir/fry)
Serves for 5-6 people
1 banana blossom
1 medium size potato cut into cubes
For Flavoring
4 cloves
2-3 pods cardamom
Half inch stick cinnamon
1-2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1tsp of salt
2 tsp of sugar

For tempering
2-3 bay leaf or Tej Patta crushed
1 tsp of cumin seeds
3-4 tbs of mustard oil
2 tbs of ghee
Its better to oil the hands, knife before chopping banana blossom.
Place a news paper, then place the cutting board, also you need a small bowl approx take 2-3tsp of mustard oil.Grease your hands and fingers with it.
Open the outer layer of banana blossom,take out the flowers and take out from it "the hard somewhat blackish at the top stalk" , and chop them finely.Follow the same pattern for the other layer of blossom, until you reach the central heart , which would be slightly pale yellow or off white in color .Chop it finely , you will see the sticky gum ,coming out while chopping the banana blossom, slightly oil the hands and knife again and cut carefully .

How to get rid of the Bitterness of Mocha

Wash them in water thoroughly 2-3 times , fill in a large pan with water, add the banana blossom(Mocha) to it , add 1tsp of turmeric powder , ½ tsp of salt and bring to boil .Cook for 5-7mints .
Cover and stop the flame, let it cool off well, now discard the remaining water and take out the Chopped banana Blossom, squeeze in the remaining water with hands (yes that’s how our aunts and Mothers have been doing it)Or better use the sieve.
Making of Mochar Ghonto
Heat up a Kadhai,add oil, temper it with cumin seeds ,tej patta
Add potatoes; fry them at high for sometimes.
Add turmeric powder,red pepper powder,coriander,cumin powder
Add salt and sugar.
Fry all the ingredients for 4-5 mints at high.
Add chopped banana blossom and fry them also.
Add all cloves,cardamom,cinnamon.
Slightly sprinkle some water with hands.
Cover and cook for 10 mints at low, or till the potatoes are cooked.
With the help of spatula, gently mash the entire gravy and mix in well
Add ghee over the top.
Serve with warm cooked rice.
Please add ghee and garam masala generously for the great flavor of Mochar Ghonto .
Sometimes to the above recipe, small shrimp or choto chingri mach or Bengal gram legumes (Kala Chana) is also added.

Please also read -
Paruppu Usili and Morkuzhambu at Suganya's Tasty Palettes
Banana Blossom Palya at Sia's Monsoon Spice
Banana Blossom Indonesian Style Tumis at Cynthia's Taste like Home
I would Like to mention,in recent days I have been forwarded many awards.Its Just that I haven't mentioned,doesn't mean I am being Rude to all of you.You all are special to me beacuse in this busy life with daily obligations you people come here and leave such nice responses.
Please remind me If I have forgotten to write your name in any case.
Thank You all for thinking about me,I am deeply touched.

Happy Cooking Friends
this recipe is going to Suganya's Place at Tasty palettes visit here for more details Vegan Ventures Round-2.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Vegetable Cutlets

Last Friday I opened the refrigerator and found out there were some beetroot and carrots that were still left. Now If I try making it in a simple Curry or Subzi , my folks would eat it without any complain but there sad and very oh-so-its-again-the-same-and-boring-stuff Look will haunt me while I would be again feeling Great-what-extra-You-want-me-to-cook.
I guess these are very common things in every household. Mine is not different and with two picky eaters, I have to keep experimenting with ingredients. They need something Mukhrochak(Appetizers/sizzlers) always. With sudden change in climate, the heart and mind both crave for more than the usual stuff .Something which would be deep fried and spicy, can well go with evening tea or can act as an appetizer before the full meal. Here it is presenting to you Vegetable cutlets.

Vegetable Cutlets
Makes 7-8 cutlets
1 beet root
1 orange carrot
1 medium onion
½ tsp of ginger paste
1 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
2-3 tbs of oil
For the Dough
2 boiled potatoes
2 bread slices
2 tbs of besan
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
Salt as per taste
oil for frying the cutlets
Wash the beet and carrot, peel them with peeler and then grate them finely.
Heat up a kadhai , add oil, fry the onions till they become translucent .
Add grated beetroot and carrot, and all the dry powders. Stir Fry at high for 4-5 mints.
Take out in a separate vessel.
Make the dough for cutlets

Make a soft dough out of 2 boiled potato, 2 slices of bread and little bit of besan or gram flour , add little more of coriander powder, cumin powder, red pepper powder and salt.Now make 7-8 small portions and roll into small balls
Grease your hand with oil, now take one rolled ball and slightly flatten in your palm, oil the flatten dough little bit and place the mixture in between , now cover the mixture with the dough evenly while working with both the palms and fingers. Make similar cutlets with the rest of the mixture and dough.
Refrigerate the cutlets for 2-3 hrs. TIP-Refrigerating the cutlets will help the cutlets to firm up the shape and also it will require little less of oil for deep fry.
Its better to deep fry the cutlets over a hot Griddle or tava , that requires little less oil.
Heat up a Tava, add oil and place the cutlets over the Tava, fry the cutlets on both the side, 2 cutlets at a time.
Take out and drain in paper towels. Enjoy them with evening tea or serve them as great appetizers in Parties.
There could be other options of making this dish Non-vegetarian by simply changing the stuffing with some cooked and shredded chicken pieces, minced meat (keema) or Fish fry that are still left in refrigerator.
Happy cooking Friends

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vegetable Rice Pulao and Raita

I was tagged by Joyeeta long back, but couldn’t fulfill the promise I made to her. Its time now to write about some interesting philosophies of life. I guess it gives suddenly a lot of opportunity to write.All said and done, I feel some questions looks good only on book but when implemented in real life ,it turns out to be ,other way round. I have stick to the basic humane nature while answering about them.

1 -What have you realized recently ?
We have being given just one life by God and it’s up to us how we can make it better for ourselves and for others.
Life is too short; spend it spreading love and laughter .Smile and the world smiles with you.

2-Have you given first kiss?
Ahem! Yes

3-If you are stranded on a deserted island, who are the 11 blog buddies you would take
I think I would like to take with me Joyeeta,Sharmila,Mandira,Sandeepa,Sia,Vani,Pooja,Sra,Swati,Uma,Vijaya and My sis Tanu ,provided they are free from their daily obligations .

4-Where is the place, you want to go to the most
Its difficult to pick just one place, there are many places where I wish to go, one is Kashmir.
Other is Bhutan
Sea Beaches of Bali and the list will go on.

5-If you have one dream, what would it be?
Dreams are just an extension of our real life wishes and desires that needs serious consideration and execution .If one dream gets fulfilled ,start seeing another one, never stop dreaming , Often Big things starts with a small and tiny dream.
One dream is to see my hubby and daughter attain what they have wished to get in life.

6-Do you believe in seeing rainbow after the rain?
Yes, definitely and I have seen couple of them.
Life’s sorrow ,agony and pain is rain ,when it comes down it washes away everything , and the Dreams, happiness and zest is rainbow ,once comes up looks so beautiful and soothing to watch .Life is all about Ups and Downs , To every rain there is a little rainbow hidden ,its just that we have to look and find it .

7-What are you afraid of losing the most now?
My loved ones, they are very precious to me.

8-If you win $1 million, what would you do?
I am not a saint, so I cannot donate the entire sum to charity, will spend the maximum on family,would like to buy a big house,fix a big sum for the education of my little one and if left will donate to Ramkrishna Mission near our home.

9-If you meet someone that you love, would you confess to him/her?
Yes and I have already done it.

10-List out 3 points about the person who tagged you
Sensitive, self-confident and friendly

11-What are the requirements you wish from your other half
This is very difficult to answer honestly.
Requirements are very Human nature, If we bound ourselves with requirements, there would be expectations and if the frequency of expectation is not matched, there is bound to happen disharmony. Before thinking of my requirements, I would place myself in his shoes and ask myself what could be his requirements; I think this can greatly reduce the bar of requirements and expectations and hence the disharmony I was talking about.
I think I would love to spend little more time with him as ours is a very busy life, spending time qualitative rather than quantitative will fulfill all the requirements.

12-What type of people you hate most?
I think people who manage to live life in a dual way, what they pretend to be in public or in group ,usually don’t turn out when interacted on one-to one basis.

13-What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Music, if there is no music there is no melody and if you take melody out of life, life reaches the dead end.
14-If you have faults, would you rather the people around you point out to you or would you rather keep quite?
Realization is more important .If I realize it’s my fault, I will definitely check it otherwise I will leave it to other people to decide.
15-Now people has started stealing questions too?
What?I dont get that.
16-Are you a shopaholic or not
Of course! I am .
17-Find a word that best describes the person who tagged you.
Sensitive and Honest.

18-If you have a chance, which part of your character you would like to change
My short temperedness.

19-What’s the last shocking thing you have heard and seen
Each and every day innocent people are killed on streets in bomb blasts this is most shocking to me.
20-Would you have rather love and no money or money but no love
I will love to have both, can’t help it, I am very Greedy.

Now to the recipes we cooked last week.
Here is the recipe for Vegetable Rice Pulao and Raita

Vegetable Rice Pulao
Serves-4-5 people
4 cups of cooked rice ( I used seddu Chaal (Boiled rice or Parboiled Rice ) a great substitution for a normal Rice ,for this purpose )
2 onion chopped finely
4 tsp of ginger paste
4 cloves garlic minced
3-4 cloves
2-3 pods cardamom
Half inch stick cinnamon
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaf or tej Patta
½ tsp of red Pepper powder
1tsp of salt
1 tsp of sugar
3-4 tbs of ghee

In a hot Kadhai/heavy bottom pan ,add ghee/canola oil.add cumin seeds, tej patta let it splutter.
Add ginger paste,minced garlic,fry for 2-3 mints at high,add onions fry till they turn little brown.
Add cloves,cinnamon,cardamom and fry for 1-2 mints.
Add red pepper powder and salt-sugar, add the cooked rice and gently mix the fried spices with rice evenly so that rice is coated well with spices.
Transfer the entire content to a hot pot, take out before you serve.
Optional-If you wish you can add chopped beans,tomato,capsicum shredded carrots or some dry fruits like cashews ,raisins or dates.This Taste Great with bondi raita.
2-3 cup of fresh home-made yogurt
1 tsp of cumin powder
Salt as per taste
Dry Bondi (available at any sweet shop)
Whisk in yogurt, cumin powder and salt ,add dry bondi and enjoythe yummy raita. This is very healthy as it has no oil or any other tempering.
It just feels heaven , enjoy.
I am sending this rice dish to Sri's Place for Rice Mela ,visit her wonderful blog for more details. Cooking For All Season
Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, October 24, 2008

Celebrating Festival with JFI

I would like to carry on my report from the Previous Post, In this Post I have written about Ashtami,Navami and the D-day Vijayadashmi.Before you read further ,please visit this previous post for details about shashti and saptami.

Narkel naru and dal tadka
Ashtami is a special day , pushpanjali is the most important thing for every Bengali on this auspicious day ,people would get up very early , I would recall from my childhood days, my Grandmother would woke up all, early 4 o Clock in the morning to have the morning shower , get ready and go to a Kali temple near our home where we would wait for our turn to offer Pushpanjali .My Grandmother and Mom would have gone earlier than us to offer Phol Prasad to God with a small piece of paper on which the Gotra name and the name of the head of the family written. Puja would be performed and God would bless the family.
Trust me there would be thousand others to offer the same Puja.I sometimes really wonder How God would remember so many names and their Gotra’s name or weather is it important for him to know if the person is from shandilya gotra or alamyan gotra.This still is somewhat puzzling to me.
Over the period of time I have accepted the fact as I have realized, God is omnipresent, he knows everything in and out, things start from him and end on him.

Here is some great creative work on one of the pandals that we visited.

Sandhi Puja –this Puja is the most elaborate ceremony where the priest and people would gather around Mayer protima(Idol),amidst Dhaak(drums) Playing and priest would worship the goddess. Aaroti would be performed , a brass metal based joined 5 diya is lit up, cotton threads called Polte is dipped in oil and its placed on the prodeep (Brass Diya) then its lit up, making the Brass Diya glow bright amidst chanting.
Priest would rotate the diya in one hand in front of mayer protima and her Children Karthik Saraswati ,Lakshmi and Ganesh ,and in other hand a small brass bell is being shaken like a pendulum ,all happening in synchronization with the Dhaak playing in the back grounds .Dhaakis would often raise their bar of drum beats, roaring at high note and then suddenly striking on a lower note ,people would also fold their hands and some even closed their eyes ,shoulders little bowed down in respect of Goddess.
With the smell of Dhuno whole atmosphere is just like a trans and in twilight, It becomes somehow so magnificent and mesmerizing, Kind of a magic spell and people all hooked to such magic, the magic is the Maya of Mayer Puja .
A piece of kapoor (Camphor) is lit on another brass diya and this aroti is performed after the main aroti , people would run close to get a whiff of the aroti by smearing hands over the flame ,to get mayer ashirbaad (Blessings of Goddess Durga).Priest would also shower Shanti Jol(Holy water) over everybody to bless for the well being and peace.
Around 108 earthen Diyas are lighted at the same time.
This time the Lagna of sandhi Puja was late in midnight .Well,its said that sandhi puja is the bridge between ashtami and Navami .
Below is a handicraft made by village girls for a decorations in one of the pandals that we hoped in.

Navami- The main Puja on navami ends with a hom (holy Fire) –aroti in morning , a fire is lit up with wooden logs in front of the Protima .Where many offerings like ghee, honey,dahi or yogurt etc is offered to Hom amidst chanting of sholokas , priest generally perform this ritual with a cotton cloth called” Gamcha “ wrapped around his head. After the Hom , “hom Tika” (some thick paste made from the burnt ashes of hom and ghee) and charnamitra is offered to people as Mayer Blessings .
In the evening aroti is performed and the famous Dhunuchi dance is a great crowd puller, where people would gather and dance in front of the idol with dhunuchi in both the hands with dhaak beats.

Dashmi or VijayadashmiVijaya means Victory dashami means on tenth day , It’s the victory celebration of Mahishashurmardini over Buffalo headed demon Mahishashur , and also it’s the Victory of Shri Ram over evil Ravana .In present context it’s the victory of Goodness over evil,Brightness over darkness.
Sindhur Khela is the most attractive part of this day , when married ladies would offer sweets to Ma Durga and apply Sindoor (Vermillion) on her forehead and seek blessings by touching her sacred feet also. This way they seek blessings form Goddess for their and their family’s well being ,Later they would smear vermilion on each others face and forehead.They would first apply to the forehead and then smear it on Shanka and Pola ( a must for married ladies, shanka is a white bangle made from cutting rounds from high quality conch shells and Pola is generally a red bangle ).This way they exchange the goodness and warmth of togetherness and blessings.
Young ones then seek blessings form older ladies generally their mothers and mother-in-Laws (that includes all the Pishis, Mashis,Jethimaa and kakimaa) by touching the feet and the same age group ladies would hug each other.
In the evening ma Durga and her children would be given a warm hearted farewell amidst tears in eyes and somber looking faces in River Ganges. As Ma Durga is going back to Kailash where her husband Shiva resides.

It is said that “Mayer Gomon Hoye na, Tini sada amader Mone prosthito thaken “.
Goddess Durga always resides in our heart, her farewell is just a ritual.

Here is a small festival goodies we tried making on Durga Puja.
Luchi Begun Bhaja , Cholar Dal and Aloor Jhaal
Begun Bhaja
Cut Brinjals lengthwise, clean in water, marinate in turmeric and salt.
Heat up a Kadai , add 3 tbs of Mustard Oil , fry the marinated brinjals slowly at low , flipping sides in between .Take out in a vessel and drain in paper towels .

Cholar Dal
1 cup Cholar Dal
1tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of salt
2 tbs of ghee
1 tsp of cumin seeds /mustard seeds also can be used
1 Tej Pata
Soak the dal in water for 5mints and then wash it thoroughly.
Now transfer the dal in Pressure cooker , add 2 -3 cups of water, cook for 4 mints at high, discard the white froth with spatula, low the flame .
Add turmeric powder and salt, sugar.
Cover and cook at high, one whistle and lower the flame, cook for 7-8mints at low.
Let the Pressure subside and then open the cover.
Heat up a kadai , add ghee , add cumin seeds ,tej patta and fry for 1-2 mints at high , now carefully temper the cooked Dal with it , stir and cook for 2-3mints .
Take out in a vessel.
Aloor Jhaal (spicy Potato)
3-4 Potato
1 tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2-3 tbs of mustard oil
Cut potatoes in small cubes (Cutting in small helps in quick cooking and the spices also gets evenly coated), wash in water
Heat up kadai , add oil,temper it with cumin seeds , add potatoes ,fry at high for 2mints,
Add salt,turmeric powder,red pepper powder ,splash some water droplets with hands .
Cover and cook at low for 7-8mints or till potatoes are soft.
Take out in vessel.
3 cups of Maida or all purpose flour
3 heaped tbs of ghee
1 tsp of salt
Water as required
Knead all the above into a semi solid dough and cover the dough with any cloth.
Let it sit there for half an hour .
Now divide the dough into poertions , make small balls out of the portions ,
Roll each small balls into flat rounds of 3-4 inch diameters.
Heat up a kadai with refined oil upto half, check the oil if its ready for deep frying .
TIP- can add some cumin seeds , if it floats at top ,simmering the oil is heated enough for the deep frying .
Fry the luchis one by one .Once the oil is heated enough, fry the luchis at high ,and sometimes on med high .
Now assemble the Serving Plate .It all depends on the way you place the dishes known as courses.
It’s said that you start eating from your right to left,
So place some Begun Bhaja first ,as Bhaja(fry) is the first course ,
Then scoop some Cholar dal on the plate , Dal being the second course
Take out some Aloor Jhaal and place it as third course.
I had made some Payesh and Chatni also , which concluded the last course as sweets , but its not in picture. Recipes I have already posted here Payesh and Chutney
Luchis should be placed at left to all the courses.
We enjoyed our home Made meals thoroughly during this Puja .

This is going to Sri's Place at Cooking For All Season , who is hosting JFI this month.Visit here for more details JFI-Festival Treats .Originally started by Indira at Mahanandi

Enjoy festival Of Light -Diwali with loved ones and make it eco-friendly.
Happy Diwali

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Narkel Naru and Dal Tadka

Its great to be back again .
We had a great time during Durga Puja .Here is my five day report I tried writing for you all.
We hopped many Pandals and saw many mesmerizing Protima(Idol).

Picture below is taken on Navami , This puja pandal was very near to our home .

Durga Puja is known as Sharodo Utsav here .The season is Sharad or Autumn ,so sharodo utsav or is also called as Autumn Festival. Akalbhodhon is the another name associated with Sharad kalin Durga Puja .Akal means untimely, Bodhon means invoking or invoking goddess Durga Untimely).
This is basically based on the mythology, when Shri Rama invoked Goddess Shakti to get her blessings prior in a battle to defeat mighty Ravana.
Goddess Shakti also takes the form of divine Mahishashurmardini according to Bengali belief, who beheaded the buffalo headed Demon Mahishashur after a long and violent battle. This victory is also victory of goodness over Evil, and Brightness over dark ness .

In Present day Context, there are many Mahishahsurs in our souls in the form of hatred, jealousy, evil and ill-will, by invoking Goddess Durga, we pray to her,to kill these pity issues that crop within us and purify our body and souls.

Navaratri- a Nine Day festival of rituals and custom.
Shashti – Durga Puja Starts with sixth Day or shashti. According to Bengali belief ,On shashti eyo ra(married and blessed with children) observe fast .There are other shashti Fast also like the Neel shashti on the Chaitra masher(April) and Ashok Shashti during Basanti Puja , which has the similar significance .After offering pushpanjali ( flowers and leaves of bel tree generally triplets of leaf, considered very sacred is offered to God, Pushp means flower and Anjali means offering to God through a folded hand).
This is the ritual which is performed under Bel Tolay (Bel Tree) break their fast with sweets and fruits. Priest who recites sholokas for the Pushpanjali, gives them Charnamitra( a yogurt ghee based liquid)and fhol Prasad (sweets and fruits).This was a wonderful experience for me.
In the evening Protima is unveiled amidst Dhaak(drums) playing in the back –ground called bhodhon and amontron to Goddess Durga and her Children.
Dhaakis from this day to the last day of Navaratri , would generally take rounds of our complex every morning and every evening with drum beats , calling all residents and letting us know that its time now for celebration. I would generally wake up early in morning with Drum beats.
That was a very wonderful, sweet experience, and a memory that still lingers on my mind.

On saptami - a ritual consisting of placing a small banana plant, wrapped in a yellow color saree ,this is called Kola Bou , and it is placed just besides God Ganesha is observed. It is considered that this plant has Mayer pran or Shakti ,but on a popular belief this plant is known as Kola Bou ,wife of Lord Ganesha.
Pushpanjali lagna was at around 11.30 a.m. and after offering pushpanjali we went to hop many more pandals and Protima.
Here are some of the Picture.

This Puja Pandal was a huge Pandal and crowd was always pouring in to watch and feel it .

here is a pattern carved on Puja Pandal ,made entirely by Plastic Pipes.

When we returned from Pandal Hopping , we were all tired and down , we got the opportunity of having Bhog(Prasadam) which included khichuri ,beguni(Brinjal slices coated with besan and deep fried),alu cabbage curry ,labra(medley of vegetables) ,chatni papad and bonde .It felt absolutely heavenly with that plate of bhog .
Sandhya aroti was a delight to watch with friends and family, and we all then bee lined to the Phuchka counter outside our Puja Pandal .
We also watched the magnificent cultural Program, that was so meticulously prepared by little children’s of our housing society over the last few days .After the cultural Program was over ,then it was the turn of Dandiya ,Dandiya is a raas dance where people would form circles and do the dancing with two wooden sticks in synchronization with the Orchestra playing music in back –ground. Often the best dancers and well dressed traditionally with Ghagra and Choli for Ladies and Cholis and churidaars for Gents , is picked form groups and awarded on the spot.
My Little one also enjoyed the Raas Nritya of Dandiya.
I will conclude the rest about the ashtami ,navami and Vijayadashmi in my next post , stay tuned.

Here are some recipes ,we cooked during one of those days .

Narkoler Naru


Fresh coconut meat grated 2 cups
½ cup of sugar or add less as per taste
4-5 tbs of ghee
MethodTake out the coconut from the shell and make small pieces, Grind it in Mixer with the half cup of sugar, make a smooth mixture, taste it, if needed add little more sugar.
Heat up ghee, now add coconut and sugar mixture and cook at med-high for 10 -15 mints stirring continuously .Make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to base to the base of pan.
Since the sugar and coconut meat is mixed evenly the cooking time is saved here.
When it starts to collect and comes out smoothly from the sides of Kadai or there is a slight change of color, this is ready.
Now grease a plate with ghee, and take out the mixture and gently flatten it .Let it cools.
Now make small portions and roll them into small rounds
Store it in air tight plastic or steel container, make sure the containers are not moist, it’s better to sun-dry them for sometimes before storing narkel naru in them.
This remains fresh for 1-2 weeks, provided it lasts.
Narkel naru is our childhood favorite sweet and we still find it so delectable and flavorful.
My Mom would make them in bunch and store it before the Puja Starts up.
Making them reminds me of my childhood memories of Durga Puja.Its kind of a connection I share with my mom; hope my little one picks it form here to carry on…

These Narus are made with sugar so white in color ,there is also more popular variety made with Jaggerey or Gur which imparts a little dark color .Narus made with Gur is more popular than the sugar based narus and the flavor also differs.

Dal Tadka

Lentils belongs to fabaceae which is included in Legume family , and is grown all over India. Pigeon pea is a split lentil known as Arhar or toor dal,is a good source of protein and iron .Dals are an integral part of a vegetarian cooking .
Here is the simple recipe for our home-made dal tadka.
Arhar and Moong dal ½ cup each

1 tsp of sugar
2 dry red pepper
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2-3 tbs of mustard oil
2 tej pata
2 tbs of ghee
MethodSoak the dal in water for 5mints and then wash it thoroughly.
Now transfer the dal in Pressure cooker , add 2 -3 cups of water, cook for 4 mints at high, discard the white froth with spatula, low the flame . Add more water ,if required .
Add turmeric powder and salt.
Cover and cook at high, one whistle and lower the flame, cook for 4 mints at low.
Let the Pressure subside and then open the cover. Add sugar now .
Heat up a kadai , add ghee , add cumin seeds ,tej patta ,dry red pepper split in between and fry for 1-2 mints at high , now carefully temper the cooked Dal with it , stir and cook for 2-3mints .This is tadka or in simple flavoring the dal , smoked and fried cumin seeds and Tej Patta gives a very earthy flavor .
Cooking Dal often depends on how you give a simple tadka to cooked dal.A simple Dal can have very flavorful taste with the correct flavoring and tempering or tadka .
Take out in a vessel and serve with Rice.

This recipe is going to Sra's Place When My Soup Came Alive who is hosting this month's My Legume-Love Affair .Originally started By Gracious Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook .Hope to see many more interesting Love Affairs .

Happy cooking Friends.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Durga Puja

This is the best time of the year, Festivals, socializing and holidays.
Durga Puja , Bengalis one and only festival is just gearing up .
The last minute finishing touch has been given to the Idol and the pandal (worshipping venue) are all well decorated.
Today is Panchmi and people have gone to get the idols from Kumar Tuli , many who are more eager have already got it on Tritiya , well they are playing safe here , avoiding the last minute rush .
Carrying their Idols in trucks and small metadoors , blowing conchshells ,chanting, shouting “Durga Mai Ki Jai “and blowing whistle ,clapping and singing the songs that life has suddenly bestowed on them. These 5 days, they will be relieved with the burden of their livelihood and problems that they face in everyday life.
Their faces ,all lit up bright , and as we waved to them , they also responded with more chanting and shouting “Durga mai Ki jai “we also joined them in chanting !
Such is the magic of Maa Durga .

They are bringing maa Durga and her children(Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati , God Ganesha and God Karthikeyan) to home and in their parar pujo pandal.
These 5 days,worshipping the idol, going out late till night for pandal hopping, getting together , catching on some forgotten things ,little joys of life or even some friends and relatives is the only criteria .

With these festive mood, I will be taking a short break from blogging , Hope you all my well wishers , readers and friends ,have a good time during festival.
Cook some delicious food and enjoy the festival.

Sharodiya Shubecha
Puja Greetings
Happy Durga Puja and Dushehera

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cottage Cheese Pudding

Today is Mahalaya , after this day Navaratri will be celebrated throughout India and abroad also .Navaratri is a 9 day long sacred period, and people worship Goddess Durga ,observe fast during this period also .Blessings of mighty Goddess Durga is seeked for the well being of family and friends .
Mahalaya falls in the month of Ashwin (according to Hindu Samvat calendar) and its generally a amavasya day (new moon day), people often offers tarpan(sacred Offerings and a ritual in Hinduisms ) to their ancestors and forefathers so that they live happily and peacefully in heaven .
We Bengalis have grown up listening to devotional songs Mahishashurmardini by Virendra Krishna Bhadra.I really can’t recollect how this started, but over a period of time, this has become a ritual itself. Without listening to these devotional songs, the very essence of festivity and the spirit is never matched.
When asked about this to My FIL , he came up with the answer .It was first Bani Kumar who initially wrote the lyrics of these devotional songs with the help of known Purohits of that time .Then It was the turn of Virendra Krishna Bhadra , who with the help of renowned musicians of that era came up with these songs .He recited the sholakas from Chandi Path and the songs were then sung by other artists. It was first played in All India radio early in the morning.From that small beginning ,it has flourished even a gap of long 75 years .

Now to my usual stuff of Recipes .

Cottage Cheese Pudding

I Have posted few months back a recipe about cake being baked in Pressure Cooker .Here

Steamed Cupcake .

This time keeping in mind few of the queries made on that post , I have tried making Cheese Pudding in Pressure Cooker , it just came out so well and flavorful , I could not resist posting about it .
This recipe worked fine for me, as the amount of egg to cheese was very proportionate, with a dash of lemon zest; it has a lemony flavor also. It was one of the Moist, spongy and soft Cheese pudding and was liked very much by my family.
I am going to make it again during this Durga Puja.

2 -2 ½ cups of cottage Cheese
¾ cup of sugar (add according to preferable sweetness )
2 tbs of Brandy (optional if making for kids avoid it)
2 tbs of all purpose flour
1 tsp of vanilla essence
2 -3 tsp of grated orange zest or lemon zest
¼ cup of raisins
4 eggs
¼ tsp of baking powder
Pinch of salt

Separate egg white from egg yolks .Foam the egg white in mixer/blender for 5 mints at high speed.

Making Of Paneer(Cottage Cheese )

Bring ½ litre of whole milk to boil in a pot .
Add citric acid (easily available at the local grocer in India) or You can squeeze in Juice of 1 lemon .Or use the ready-made juice in small plastic lemon available in Wallmarts and Krogers.
Stir for few mints and let the milk curdle, Let it cool and then sieve the Paneer(Cottage Cheese ) and tie in Muslin cloth(If you have your old cotton saree or chiffon Duppatas , just cut out 6*6 inch piece from it and use instead of muslin cloth , It is much more handy for me in time of need , always Reuse and Recycle) Hung at a minimum height .I generally tie that in the Kitchen sink Tap .
After 1hrs, slowly take out the Cheese from the cloth.

Please Note -A great Substitute for Cottage Cheese would be Ricotta Cheese at room temperature.

Making of Pudding

Preheat the Pressure cooker for 3-4 mints at high, and then lower the flame.
Mix in the Cheese, All purpose flour, Sugar, vanilla essence and egg yolk in mixer for 1-2 mints,at low speed.
Take out in a vessel, Mix in baking Powder, Lemon Zest (Tip- you can use sweet lime zest also, this add a great fruity and lemony flavor) and egg whites, mix well.
Grease an aluminum vessel with refined oil or canola oil. (I didn’t had one so used steel vessel instead of aluminum one)
Shift the entire thing to the utensil. Decorate with raisins or cashews

Very carefully place the vessel inside the pressure cooker as it is now hot.

There are possibly two ways of making Pudding inside a Pressure Cooker.
One is use of water, so that the moisture is retained and the pudding in cooked slowly on steam.
Other way is just opposite, like making a cake, with out adding water, and cook according a cake is baked.
I followed both of them, and found out that while the first way round its more like a moistened and soft pudding ,but the second one , which was a real surprise tastes more like cake which is very spongy and flavorful and more like a bundt cake .My better half liked this way more flavorful than made with the first method.
I would suggest you to try making the dish both the way.

Well Of course there is the conventional way

Bake the pudding at 300 deg for 45 mints. Use eight 1cup ramekins or custard cups or a casserole for this purpose .
Bake till the wooden tester inserted in centre comes out clean.

All said and done, now cover the cooker with lid but without whistle or weight.
Seal it and then lower the flame, cook the pudding at low for 40- 45 mints.

Take out only when the cooker is cooled, do not open the cooker before it.
Now flip the vessel over a greased plate, Don’t worry if some of it get stuck at the base of vessel.( Just soak the vessel in water for 1 hrs , the stubborn left-over gets easily cleaned)
This one is packed with right content of protein, good for toddlers and growing children.

One More Close look.

Cooking From Passionate Cooks Links
I guess my taking Pics is not very Important as these recipes are it self completely well written with Pics , Please Visit their lovely sites for more detailed recipe and instruction.

Lemon Rice Lemon Rice By Indira at Mahanandi - Excellent recipe with easy to follow Guidelines, I made that for Dinner and It came out great , enjoyed by each and every member of my family .

Prawn Biryani Malabar Style Prawn Biryani By SHN at Mish-Mash – She makes it a point to write recipe in details , and with that much of clarity , nothing can go wrong .Biryani was a hit and we thoroughly enjoyed , Again a keeper recipe .
Thanks for sharing some good recipes.
Enjoy the festival Of Joy , navaratri and Durga Puja ,make loads of goodies for loved ones.
Happy cooking Friends .