Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kid's Lunch-Box -I

I am sure many of you like me also struggle in early morning ,to fix the daily lunch-box. In this post I have tried to share some tips and ideas that I generally follow ,to include in my daughter's lunch-box who is a toddler.
Arranging and preparing your kid’s lunch-box,I do think this is the most elaborate topic, it's difficult to choose and give in healthy nutritional supplements in tiffin when our kid's dont give us much options.I know it's pretty tempting for them to munch potato chips and kurkure but that is not what we want them to have ,right.
So we can give home-made potato fries instead of chips or store brought french fries , a much better option than those highly salted, saturated and preservative added stuff.
Like this ,here I have written about some easy and quick-fix tiffin ideas .Hope it helps you out to some extent.

This recipe goes to Monthly Mingle , this month's theme is Kid's lunch hosted by Srivalli , visit here for more details - Kid's lunch at cooking for all season
The event is the brainchild of Meeta of What's For lunch Honey , visit Here for complete details of the event.
Now to the recipe of Aloo Bhaja and Porotha

1 cup of whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
2-3 medium size potato for potato fry
Oil to fry the potatoes
Cut the potatoes into 1 inch long pieces and marinate them in turmeric powder and salt.
Meanwhile knead the dough for paratha making (you may knead the dough in night and store in refrigerator and make paratha in morning)
Roll them to rounds and with small katoris/bowls cut them to small rounds or you may use any of your cookie cutters to make different shapes.
Now after sometime ,little water will be coming out from potatoes , drain out the water and deep fry them in hot deep bottomed pan with little bit of oil.
Take out and cool.

Arranging your kid’s lunch-box.
I do think this is the most elaborate topic, how to prepare and fix kid’s lunch box.
To me I try to make things as per my daughter’s wish (that doesn’t mean I end up giving her potato chips or kurkure or things like that which we call junk food, which is every kid’s fantasy)
I pack her lunch –box in front of her, keep asking her what she wants to have.
Usually I give her three choices and ask her to pick one among these.That chosing gives her immense satisfaction makes her feel like grown up.
While packing lunch-box for toddlers it’s essential to understand, that they are small, so they need things which can be bite-size or they can hold on while eating like a roll.

Carbohydrate -Vitamins - Roll Recipes can be varied, I would like to draw attention towards rolls made in Indian way not the usual stuff like rolling in mayo or peanut butter, but then these are available now in India also and one can assemble these in lunch-box also .The stuffing can be any subzi much more healthy option than mayo or peanut butter .like a cauliflower-potato subzi, Recipe Link (with less spices), or Bhindi/okhra fry or even chole chaat ,Recipe Link .

Fruits -I also chop some apples /cucumber (bite size) and try to include in her lunch-box. Bananas Make the tiffin messy so avoid it , even they dont want to eat oxidised fruit pieces which turns little black due to this.Sprinkle some sugar and lemon juice over chopped pieces of fruits , it remains very much fresh and enhances the taste.
Cake pieces and wafers can also be given once in a while, that breaks the monotomy of daily lunch box.

Cereals-Flavored corn flakes can also be given; it can be a wonderful substitute for potato chips. I am sure your kid will love munching them. Spread some butter over high fiber biscuits like 7 grain biscuits and include it ,in your kid's lunch box.
There are innumerable varieties of corn flakes available out there like mango, honey almonds,bananas and of various shapes also; my little one is fond of having mango flavored corn flakes.
Minerals and Vitamins -Some dry nuts like cashews or walnuts can also be included .It will be great if the cashews are fried and salted.It will be even nice if you try making it at home .Just fry them in some oil at low and sprinkle salt over it.Store in air tight container, it stays fresh for 2-3 weeks.Include them as your kid wish to.
I will update more in next post with a home-made jam recipe, a perfect as a spread over toasted whole wheat Bread for toddlers.

Menwhile do drop in your two cents regarding this topic and it will be great to know how you fix your kid's lunch box.

Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, March 27, 2009

Click -Wood

Yesterday I made fresh batches of namkins and while making it I realized, this fits into the theme of Click this month i.e Wood ,visit this page for more details Click-Wood .We all know about this great pair of talented peoples who does this great Jugalbandi together. Visit them to know more about them.

For the recipe of namkins visit Here

Happy Cooking Friends

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fish Fritters

I can see the wind is changing its course.The colour of sunlight is slowly turning crimson yellow depicting spring has arrived.With this ,the chirping of birds has risen as if they are whispering to each other “Elo Basanto elo re!” meaning Look the spring has come.
Spring is the season of joy.Joy to see nature’s bounty in full bloom.

There is this mango tree near our small home, which we can see from our room’s window, it has started showing sign’s of new life, the small green mangoes are more prominent now, by the end of April or May, may be we will be able to see fully ripened mangoes (and that will be a real treat).We are now waiting for some delicious ripened mango (if they are any more left!!)
Even the entire neighbourhood is keeping a strict eye on every movement around it.So; you know this mango tree has suddenly become the centre of attraction or an apple err a mango of every eye …
With growing interest, it is now also regularly being watered, till few days ago many would park their car under this tree’s shade, not anymore now …..They have overwhelmedly given that space to the care-takers to water and clean it regularly…….
Such is the importance of this tree now, elders would yell at every neighbourhood children who would end up playing cricket under its shade or even near it (this means for the time being my AC and windows are shock –proof now!!)
One fine morning I was awaken to the noise outside, a group of morning walkers gathered under its shade and were looking upwards at it very enthusiastically …
I peeked in and saw Mrs B in white tracksuits and in white /peach walking shoes which she had purchased from a sale near-by a big shoe-retail house (how I know it, I was there doing the same!!) She was talking to Mrs M, “onek golo dekhte parchi” (Yeah! I can see many of them)
Mrs M ”Daraon dekho amader agey E shobayi pere kheye nebe, kitcho ekta beboshta korte hobe” (wait before we can get any, there are many who would eat it right there) Then she gave a very crossed look at my window as if she can sense I was there and my heart went pounding with the sound of dub-dub ,can almost hear it in my ears.
Ahh! One mango tree and so many stake holders, uff!!

So friends I have leaved my stake over it .It is very saddening because I am depriving myself of eating fresh mangoes from our fav mango tree,which I am sure you all know is the most precious fruit mother nature has given.
It feels little peaceful also sometimes , just to see it every fine morning with cozy breeze blowing , birds chirping and leaves synchronizing with the rythum and little green mangoes dancing to the tune of life . To me these are indeed small joys of life, isn’t?

May this tree gets its real due and is not butchered for the sale and allotment of parking slots in our residential area!!

Coming to the recipe now, we had some fried fish left which we did not want to eat like a normal fish curry.I thought why not try making it as fritters.This is very simple and quick recipe , any one without much experience in kitchen can make it , but trust me the result is very delicious. Here is the recipe for fish fritters

Fish Fritters
2-3 fried fish pieces (rui /katla mach)
½ cup of besan/chick pea flour
1 -2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1tsp of garam masala

4-5 tsp of onion/garlic/ginger paste
Salt as per taste
Oil for frying the fritters

Dig out the small bones out of fried fish pieces, take out the skin also (it will splatter oil while frying the fritters)
Now mix in with besan/chick pea flour, red pepper powder, cumin, coriander powder,onion/garlic/ginger paste and salt as per taste.
Heat up heavy bottomed pan, add oil and drop in some mixture into the oil, fry the fritters at low to deep fry.Take out and drain out the excess oil in tissue paper.
Serve with coriander chutney or any chunky salsa (I used to eat it with Ragu pasta sauce even!!)

Happy Cooking Friends

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shoro Chakhali -Another Dosa Variation

I thought quiz is entirely based on the general awareness about your surroundings and politics, sports and cultural activities, until recently I noticed these question/answer series depicting how successful you are in any particular relationship, be it mom-daughter, husband-wife, girlfriend-boyfriend or with your dog even!!
Here you are given some questions and multiple choice answers based on the possible reactions/activity one may come across.You start doing the questions,for every score you are given some points ,these will add upto your final appraisal.
Now my friends, I must tell you , there are Four types of people regarding this-
One –they will straight jump to attempt these, as if this is their last day; I am being one of them!!
Second- they will see others doing it, so they will attempt doing it for the sake of their peers.
Third-these are the real ones, they will not attempt it anyhow, but deep down somewhere, their mind will be scolding them, why on earth they haven’t attempted it ,but no trace of such reactions/emotions on their face , and when the final score will come out they will be giving you a glance ,I-Told-You-So-That’s-Why-I-Don’t –Attempt-It.
Fourth-gem of gems, they will walk out straight from there without further wasting anymore time there.
Now why I am saying all these, because I have given four choices to the basic question of “attempting these quizs” and you my friend, tried to fit into these categories (You don’t, well you are then very special) ….so you know what I mean …again a quiz! How infectious it is!!

Shoro Chakhali -another type of dosa

Anyways now to cooking , I am going to share a wonderful recipe for Shoro Chakhali, It’s quite like the dosa, but the lentil here is yellow moong dal.The lentil paste is mixed with rice powder just like a normal dosa would do but the fermentation process is entirely skipped,so you prepare the batter and start cooking right from there.

Shoro Chakhali is prepared in poush-paban in Bengal or during”sankranti”, yeah this was prepared during that period but I am sharing it with you now (I know I am a latelatif ,but cant help it when real life calls ,virtual life takes back seat sometimes,hope you my friend understand that ……)
This is usually accompanied with noton gur/Jaggery syrup, and this tastes just perfect with that only…May be for jaggery syrup substitute, maple syrup can be used, because this indeed is a variation of pancakes or rather vegetarian pancakes, isn’t??
Now to the recipe ---
Shoro Chakali
2 cups of mong dal( yellow small lentil)
2 cups of rice powder (chal gurun) or you may go the entire process of soaking /sona masoori/gobind bhog or any other rice for 2-3 hrs ,then grinding to a smooth paste..
Pinch of salt

Soak the dal for 2-3 hrs.Wash the dal with water for 2-3 times.
Grind it in mixer to a smooth paste.
Mix in with rice powder (chal gurun, available in packets of half kg or 1kg, so no need to soak the rice and then grind it)
Add little bit of water to make a smooth batter just like dosa, add pinch of salt.
Now make shoro chakali just like dosa rounds.
Have it with noton gur.Make syrup with noton gur.Just dissole the solid gur/jaggery in water and cook at low to form sweet syrup.
This brings a good change in our usual night meal.
You can make this savoury too, just stuff in with aloo-peas subzi or paneer bhurji.
Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chicken Soup

It feels great to see your little kids take some giant step towards life.
Today I got a letter from my daughter's Pre- school for the orientation programme.She will be soon joining this big school.Some more days and my duty to drop her to her Play- school and then pick up will be over .She will be traveling thro school bus, but no more holding my hand or resting her head over my lap.
It gives me sheer chill down the spine , don’t know if this is me or my extra cautious motherly feeling.I am kind of having, sweats in my hands whenever I am thinking about that which haven’t happened yet.
Anyways lets get back to cooking and for that I would like to share a recipe for chicken soup .Now we all know how much soup is healthy and nutritious.
It says have chicken soup when suffering from cold and cough, and it is just so true in our case.

This remains my daughter's fav soup.....

Chicken soup
1 drumstick or you may add any other chicken portions..
1 onion
Few tsp of ginger paste
Few tsp of garlic paste
1 tomato,1 bay leaf
1 tsp of cumin powder (fresh grounded is must for that earthy flavour)
1 egg
Vegetables as per your taste and preference

Clean the drumstick well.
Add oil in a pressure cooker, let it heat up, add 1bay leaf.
Now add the onions,garlic ,ginger ,vegetables and drumstick, fry well for 2-3 mints
Add cumin powder, coat well.
Add water approx 2-3 cups.
Add in tomato pieces, salt and little black pepper powder ,as I was making this soup for my lil one.grown ups can add more spice if they wish to ...
Now lock the pressure cooker, let it whistle once and then lower the flame cook for 20 mints at low.
Open the pressure cooker when the pressure subsides.
You may add in one egg at this time, stir well. Cooking tip from a wonderful recipe of soup Chicken Soup at Recipeswap .
Also at this time if you feel that the soup needs to be thickened a little , add in 1 tbs of corn starch/flour in 1 cup of this chicken broth and mix in well with the entire soup.Just heat it enough before serving.
Serve with 1 tsp of butter and some coriander leaves.
Happy Cooking Friends

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chingri Macher Pakoda-Prawn Lentil Fritters

We are observing women's day today, and there are still many miles to go.The scene haven’t changed yet.For we are still beaten, and reason can be as small as for going to pubs and the irony is that we have a woman president today.
Do you think the world around women is biased?
Women still needs permission to go out in night and can’t walk past lonely after 9 at night safely. She is constantly harassed in bus, office and even in homes, reasons well understood.
Women in villages still live their lives as they used to live in pre-Independence era.She cooks at home (mind you many villages still don’t have gas ovens, electricity), take care of children and even help her better halves in farming.I have seen so many women folks working in paddy fields at a stretch in hot climate without complaining instead singing the folk songs, the songs which life put on their rather closed-shut mouths otherwise.
Few of us who got that golden opportunity to study, flourished, but there are many, who still remained in four brick walls of home (Ghar Ki Chaar Diwari) their voices were deep buried by then.The voices which can speak for themselves, their needs,dreams and wishes.

Today’s women in metroes, I do think their lives have changed a little, why I am saying “little” because, still they have to balance their family and professional life and this is a very tough call.For this balancing act requires a lot of hard work and sacrifices.

Now there is more to being a woman, she is a mother, wife, sister and daughter.
So many different roles but time, time is very less to potray them, it needs a lot of multitasking and the expectations are also very high.We have this inner strength which comes from within us to serve and take care of wishes of our loved ones before thinking about self.But that’s what women is born with,the nature to give and support, nurture and take care.
Whenever I see little girls selling flowers at traffic signals, I am enlightened by their warmth of smile and twinkling in their eyes.For those are the eyes of hope and hope never dies.

On this positive note I am calling all to celebrate being woman and also if a girl child is born.That will make, a lot of difference and may be then the world around us will not be biased anymore!!

Now to the recipe for the chingri macher pakoda or Prawn Fritters

How would you like to eat Chingri ala Prawn.In a very spicy Indian stir/fry, Chinese sauted,shrimp Manchurian, lemon prawn or in a coconut milk based gravy?
Or how about about eating it as fritters.
This is a very common side-dish that we like to gorge on special occasion.
My MIL loves these fritters(You know how hard is,to please Mil) and so is everybody in my family.

Prawn Lentil Fritters

Recipe requirements
Shrimp 8-10, cleaned, deveined and let the tail remain intact.
1 cup of Masoor dal /red lentil
½ tsp of salt
1 tsp of red pepper powder (add less for hotness)
2green chilly or Serrano pepper chopped
You may omit it if you don’t want the hotness in fritters
For frying the shrimp
1 tsp of turmeric powder
½ tsp of salt
2 heaped tbs of oil
Some more oil for deep frying the fritters
Soak the lentils for 5-6 hrs prior to making fritters.
If you want to make it as an evening snack, soak them in the morning.
Now clean the shrimps and marinate them with salt, turmeric powder for ½ hour.
Heat up a frying pan, add oil and fry the shrimps on both sides , it will take around 3-4 mintues roughly.TIP- always fry the shrimp at high for few mintues and immediately take out , this way the shrimps will retain the colour and crunch.
Now sprinkle some red pepper powder over them (you may substitute it with black pepper powder also)
Meanwhile wash the soaked lentils for 2- 3times.
Grind the lentils to a coarse paste in grinder or mixer.
Take out the paste and sprinkle salt, red pepper powder and add in green chilly .you may also add in coriander leaves for a variation.
Now gently fold the lentil paste with all the ingredients for couple of mintues.
In a deep bottom pan, add oil.
Now coat well one shrimp with this paste.
Drop the coated shrimp in hot oil gently.
Keep a bowl of water along to clean your hand of that extra lentil paste.
Wash your hand with little water before dipping the prawns in the lentil paste.
Deep fry the fritters and drain them in tissue paper.
Serving suggestion-
Serve with some spicy coriander chutney or salsas.

this is going to Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska , for MLLA-Ninth Helping , and for details of who is hosting for next months ,visit Host Line-up .MLLA is a well known food event started by Susan of Well Seasoned Cook.

Wish everybody a very Happy Holi .

Enjoy today, live the moment to fullest and rest will be taken care of ...Happy Cooking Friends...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mutton Curry

I am often being questioned by my hubby about my certain old clothes which I don’t wear now.Whenever he is up to clear the clutter that I have kept so safely in cupboards,I end up giving many excuse for this or that .
Certain clothes which are old, like my first jean which doesn’t fit me now is still there.
And the sweater that my mother made with her old knitting needles for the first time for me, it’s also there in cupboard.
Many of them haven’t seen the daylight, yet they managed to survive in a steel almirah for these past years and with this pace ,they will do so in coming years also.
My hubby being fed up of all these, told me yesterday “you are suffering form Hay Stock Syndrome
I said,”What is that?” rolling my eyes .
He told as usual with great command and calmness ” Its keeping things in safe place, which in practical life has no use, or for years haven’t been used but take some important space of our life or "cupboard" in my case.This is an analysis made by some management Guru and it’s really applicable to you now.” and then he left the room leaving me there wondering what hay stock is !!
That made me thinking as if the pot is being stirred while cooking , you know what I mean.

Seriously friends ,In Feng Shui also, Zen masters says to declutter life, defuse the clutter, and create more positive energies for a new beginning.

Somehow I am unable to think beyond that, certain things remained my precious savings till date and may be, they will continue to do so, irrespective of my hubby questioning me about it many times and having small fight on that also .

Do you think I can declutter these things now and move on in life.Is it possible to take out emotions attached to certain things ………
And in the meantime do let me know do you also declutter things in your life for betterment, but how?
well I shall leave it there now, and this is nothing to do with mutton curry which my hubby ate fondly without questioning or giving any funda !!

You all must be wondering what, why again, are ise kya hoya? Same old recipe and posting it again.But-but, old is gold and when oldie is Mutton Curry, do you think I should go back now, Nah! Never!! :))
I just thought that let me assemble some more facts before posting it and even more pictures.recipe remains same with few ingredient swap.

Mutton curry
Recipe Requirements
Serves for 4-5
1kg of mutton
3-4 medium size potato cut into half
1-2 tbs of mustard oil for frying potato
5-6 onions
Garlic 10- 1ginger-1 ½ inch
2 tsp of turmeric powder
4 tsp of red pepper powder
4 green chilly/Serrano pepper
1 ½ tsp of salt
4 heaped tbs of yogurt
3 bay leaves
4 whole cardamoms (Gota elaich)
5 cloves (long)
1 inch long cinnamon sticks (dalchini)
Few starnds of mace ( Jwaitri )
Pinch of nutmeg (Jaiphal) from the nut/kernel
1 tsp of sugar
½ cup of mustard oil and 2tbs more to add at the time of frying
How To ProceedMarinating the mutton
Fisrt make a smooth paste of Garlic and Ginger by grinding in Mixer; add little bit of water also.Make a smooth paste of onion also.
Marinate the mutton with salt, Red pepper powder , Yogurt and 1-2 tbs of mustard oil and the garlic /ginger paste and half of onion paste .Let it sit there for 1-2 hrs.

Heat up a kadai/ heavy bottom Pan, add 1-2 tbs of mustard oil and fry the potatoes till brown on every side .Take out and keep aside.

Add rest of mustard oil and add sugar .Caramelization of sugar gives a nice color to the Mutton gravy .Fry at low for ½ mints .Add the onion paste, fry till the rawness is gone. Add bay leaves.
Add in turmeric powder, red pepper powder.
Add the marinated mutton at this point , deep fry  actually it is kashano or bhunao part , like stir/fry at medium flame  for 15-25 mints, TIP-.If the oil comes out by the side of kadai , Mutton is deep fried well . Also if the mutton is pink in colour this shows the mutton is baby or kochi in Bengali and it may require little less time for deep fry.

Add fried potatoes and 2 cups of water ( it depends on the gravy you want , if you want a thick gravy don’t add much water)

Add in 4 green chilly slit in between. If required you may add some more raw mustard oil at this point of time , it adds upto the flavor.
Now roast the garam masala on Tava/skillet at low slowly.(Below is my old iron skillet that I use still for making roti and roasting garam masala.

TIP-Now at this point in time let me share you with a tip of cleaning brunt Tava, rub in half cut lemon while the Tava is still warm after you finish your job .keep it as it is for few minutes and then wash it throughly with the liquid soap , the job is much more easier and less time consuming.

crush them on cutting board with rolling pin. thats is how I always do for the fresh flavour of garam masala.
Add in to the mutton gravy cooking at low.
Now cover the gravy and cook at low slowly for 1 hr or till the mutton is soft and juicy.
Sprinkle fresh chopped coriander leaves.
Now this mutton curry is very hot, and If you are ready to handle that much of hotness, then just go for it!!
One more look at mutton curry

Enjoy good food in good company of your friends.