Friday, April 27, 2012

Let me take you far away

Let me take you far away on a virtual holiday.....

                                                        ( Swansea, Wales )

While it was Easter holiday we were out holidaying in Swansea, Wales for couple of days. Wales is a very picturesque and lovely place. I don’t know what captivated us there, may be the mountains and sea shore or the vision of serenity whatever but one thing for sure, and provided with another opportunity we would further like to explore it even more. We were mostly visiting the Gower peninsula which is the South of Wales, and is considered one amongst the most outstanding place of beauty in Britain.

                                                           ( Near Swansea Marina )

We were on foot most of the time except for the bus rides which was necessary but hey! No complains the short bus trips were very captivating and mesmerizing .We took bus to visit Mumbles Pier, Mumbles beach, Rosselli bay, Langland bay and Caswell bay. Local bus service by First Cymru has excellent links, and every other hour buses run from Swansea bus station to every part of the city and to extent outskirts of the city. But on weekend the frequency is less. I would say plan accordingly or better take along your car if you are confident of driving off in unknown places at odd hours.

                                                                  ( Rhossili Bay )

The bus trip towards Rosselli Bay is an hour long trip and is breath-taking passing through the country side, farming lands, meadows, valleys, mountains and of course you can gaze through the sea shore from the bus. We were tired after this short bus trip, but what greeted us on arrival at Rosselli Bay was well worth of all these efforts...Magnificent is just a word to say things about that experience.

                                                     ( View from Cliff Near Worm's Head )
Then after reaching there, we were just roaming there. There is a 2 hr walk from this end of Rosselli bay towards the Worms head. It was low tide time so most of the sea shore was devoid of sea water.

                                                                   ( Worm's Head )

Visitors were told to return from Worm’s head before 3 in the evening because after that it is supposed to be high tide time, and which incidentally makes Worms’ head a remote and isolated rock and land part.Most of the sea shores in Swansea Bay and Gower Peninsula are greatly influenced by tides, so check the tide timings before planning to stay  near the sea shore or if you wish to do sea surfing or sea boating.
 Life guards were keeping a watch for visitors out there. If you fancy a quiet date with your loved one; I would say it would have been one perfect place of interest out there. Oh! Hold on, well nothing to get excited much as for the time being it’s not allowed yet!

                                   ( View of Swansea from the Cliff near Rhossili Bay )

We sat there at the cliff near the Rhossili Bay area for about half an hour aimlessly, just overlooking the Worm’s head and the bay area on our right side, and the stretched unlimited ocean in front. It was windy and cold for us, but still there was something which was holding us captivated there. We were feeding our souls with fresh air and the serenity of that place.

                           ( A View of Caswell Bay from the cliff nearby before tidal waves hit the shore)

If you are looking to unwind and put on your holiday cap or slippers, away from the maddening crowd of the main city’s sea beaches as compared to these maiden and unexplored sea shores. I would say go nowhere, head towards Swansea Bay or Cardiff bay .Grab your favorite books on the way or may be a Note-book and pen, sit there and spend time endlessly, aimlessly writing, reading, and sketching while soaking the relaxed and calmed atmosphere there.

                                             ( Caswell Bay at sunset and then tidal waves hit the sea shore)

We also took the long walk, was quite a work for me, climbing and then walking along the narrow, rough and edgy pathway from Caswell bay to Langland bay. I gave up after 1 hr of walk, even our daughter was tired, it was quite a walk for her tiny feet, but she really takes thing sportingly. We were in the middle of that walk, which had narrow turns, had we were left with more steam, we would have crossed another half may be. This circular walk is more like a milder version of hiking especially to do with a narrow very steep climbing in the middle of the walk. But trust me the view was breath-taking along probably whole of the walk or trail. I am running short of words here what we felt while we were up there walking...…

                          (View of Mumbles from the walking pathway that goes straight to Mumbles Pier )

If you are lucky, then going towards or may be when you are about to reach the Langland bay, kids can be overwhelmed to see sea seals and porcupines, smashing and swimming in the shallow sea shore water as that is what one of the locals told us while we were walking on that trail. People there are friendly and helpful, all you need is just ask them and they return answers with lots of smile, and help you take family pictures which makes you feel relaxed and welcomed.

                                       ( Crystal Clear Sea Water )

One thing which we noticed is the pace of life is relaxed there, most of them are there on a holiday mood but obvious and are quite laidback. Welsh people speak a different language and the script is even more complex. The history of Wales is very rich, making it even more mysterious. There are many old castles and museums to explore the history of Wales, but our inclination was more to enjoy the relaxed moments and what better than sitting and spending time near the sea shores and beaches.

                                 ( Vision of divine somewhere in Swansea)
     Watch the sun go down sitting on a bench near Caswell bay or sit at Promenade in Mumbles. Whatever way you prefer, there is beauty in every single way you want to spend time in Wales especially in the Gower Peninsula or in and around Swansea.

                                                         ( Another view of sea shore but this time rocky!)

Food is quite similar like typical British cuisine is a mix of this and a mix of that. Fish and chips, Frankie and colonial cuisine or curry culture is very evident there. And no, I didn't take pictures of food for a change. My eyes, my heart and my soul were fed with these beautiful sights that I am sharing here. It was cloudy most of the time sans the rain , although it was predicted that it was going to rain, but thankfully it didn't.We wish we had some sun shine as well.

                         ( Mumbles Sea Beach , a leisure activity going on )

It was cold and windy too as the month of April can be cold as compared to parts of England. Probably best time to visit these beaches is summer peak time between May to July.

We didn’t mind much as most of the beaches or bay areas were not crowded at all, so we happened to spent quite a bit of relaxed time near Promenade in Mumbles.

We did get to eat one of the good fish and chips we have eaten so far in UK at the restaurant on Mumbles Pier...They even have ice-cream parlor there for kids, well even grown-ups can have a go too if they wish to....

                           ( Some Play time with various sea shells and  pebbles scattered)

All along the sea shore in Mumbles bay and near the Mumbles pier , different varieties of sea shells are dumped everyday by crashing and raving waves during the high tide time. My DD and I had a nice time collecting various sea shells and pebbles along the sea shore. We both even noticed a dead star fish, a crab and many different sea weeds and also a mini range of sedimentary rocks.We even had some fun time as you can see below.......

Ok Now it's time to wrap up for the day.

Enjoy your weekend Friends which ever part of the world you are in.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Haddock Mach'er Paturi and Shubho Nababorsho

Shobho nababorsho everyone out in Bengal sorry Paschim Bonga and to all  "probashi", living outside Bengal and even outside India.
Ideally it should have been some “mishti mukh” but this time I thought of slightly going off conventional path.So, presenting to you this paturi recipe with a phoren’er mach haddock. We have liked eating paturi with ilish, chingri and bhetki back home. But I guess I have to wait, wait for particular trip towards the other end of the city from where we live now, and then go extra mile to get back home, fresh catch of the day-read here imports from Bangladesh. Well it’s not even fresh here; all we get here is frozen fish.
Lucky me, we had a lovely fishmonger in our local supermarket here, who runs special deal offers to promote fish eating habits here in locals. Now when I do grocery shopping, I see rush in meat and poultry section, but I hardly notice any anticipated movements near the fish aisle. So, whenever I hop on towards the fishmonger, he knew he has a genuine customer who is really eager to try out many new fish, after all what Bengali if not eating fish.

It’s spring break here so my daughter accompanied me to shopping this time. That day he got in conversation with my daughter, what fish she likes to eat etc, and he praised her for trying out fish and liking it. I know there is nothing special about a fish eating Bengali kid, but is special for a kid here who is constantly adjusting in her new environment and where most of her school friends don’t like eating fish which is a big deal here; standing firm to the likings you believe in. Bless her for her courage. Even her school has some exciting fish recipes as school dinner cod bites, and fish fingers to promote healthy fish eating habits.

I got vine leaves packet from the middle-eastern grocery walah here which worked perfectly as a substitute for banana leaf. Now the only problem was the steamer part. I technically don’t have a steamer, so I created one just to steam the leaves with shorshe haddock. I put a strainer/colander over a large saucepan with water filled up to half. And let the water come to boiling. Then I placed the individual haddock leaves packet into the strainer/colander and covered the top with the saucepan lid. Steamed this way for about half an hour  to 40 mints and our paturi was ready.Paturi as such should be eaten with warm cooked rice.

I don’t know the origin of paturi, but my grandmother used to make paturi who happened to be from Dhaka, if that points towards Bangal , so it be.Paturi is derived from “pata”  which is a Bengali word for leaves, as the fish portions with all the “moshla” is wrapped neatly with banana leaves and then steamed. There is vegetarian paturi recipe as well. I have heard of potol paturi and mochar paturi, but I have never tried making it, so can’t get into those details (wish I had my grandmother with me to tell about these recipes, as she used to mention about these unusual recipes quite often.May be it's tale of the past now ! )

But for the time being here is Haddock Mach'er Paturi

Haddock Mach’er Paturi
Recipe Requirements
2 haddock fillet  or 350 gms of fish , cut into 2 inch long pieces
8-10 vine leaves
Thread to tie the packets
For the mustard paste
4-5 heaped tbs of shorshe/black mustard seeds or yellow mustard seeds
2-4 heaped posto/ white poppy seeds
1 tbs of yogurt
4-5 cashews
3-4 green chilies
½ cup of fresh coconut or desiccated coconut (optional)
½ tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
Salt as per taste
Pinch of sugar
mustard oil- 2-3 tbs

Wash the haddock fillet and pat them dry with kitchen towel.And removes fish scales if any rubbing potato peeler over the fish skin, make sure you do the strokes gently. Or better ask your fishmonger to remove the scales.
Rub holod (turmeric powder), salt (noon) generously over the fillet.
Now prepare the mustard paste
It would be better to soak- mustard seeds, cashews and white poppy seeds in enough water at least 1 hr before you start making the shorshe Bata ( mustard paste )
Many a times, poppy seeds or coconut  are not added.
Blend all very well in mixer – mustard seeds, white poppy seeds, green chilies, and cashews
Adjust with salt, turmeric powder, red pepper powder and about 2 tbs of mustard oil. Mix all very well.
Now take the vine leaves. Place the marinated haddock fillet and then smear about a 1-2 tsp of mustard paste over it, place half of a green chilly. Now tie thread along the vine leaves to make a parcel or small packet.
Use other fillet to make parcels in similar way. This much of quantity made about 4 parcels.
Steam the parcels for about half an hour to 40 mints.
Serve hot with warm cooked rice.


Paturi is a preparation where fish is steamed all wrapped in leaves preferably banana leaves as banana leaves are readily available in rural Bengal. In fact every house has two or four banana plants in their backyard or courtyard. Here in foreign land, I don’t have that liberty so used vine leaves as substitute.
Even these parcels can be baked in oven but in water bath just like Mishti Doi , is prepared in oven.
Salmon fillet/Cod fillet/tilapia fillet/kipper fillet/sea bass fillet can be used in place of haddock fish fillet if you wish to experiment in foreign land.And traditionally chingri  ( shrimp) or golda/bagda chingri ( jumbo prawn) , bhetki ( similar to sea bass ) and ilish ( Hilsa ) can be used in India.

And now you can connect with me at this blog's  FB Page also - http://www.facebook.com/SpiceAndCurry ..so be there with your suggestions and liking.

Shubho Naba Borsho'er Onek Priti O Shubecha , happy cooking friends..

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Round-Up of Healthy Diet Food Event- Healthy and Easy Lunch

Here it is friends the round-up of healthy diet food event for the month of March.The theme was “healthy and easy lunch”.

Surabhi who blogs at  Best of my Kitchen  has sent an easy and famous Rice Preparation of 

                                                          Curd Rice

then is delicious Pan Fried Fish Recipe, from one talented food blogger Akhila who blogs at  Torview .

There comes a Vegetable fried rice , from Swetha who blogs at Our Cherished World.

In Swetha's own word  about the recipe "A healthy way to use up left over rice and vegetables. A perfect way to make the children eat the veggies too."

Another rice preparation and with healthy spinach and Kidney  beans.Spinach and Rajma Biryani by Hema who blogs at Aromatic Cooking.

And in one go three rice preparations - 1.Mixed Fried Rice 2.Bell Pepper Fried Rice 3. Mushroom Fried Rice by Asiya Omar who blogs at My Healthy Happy Kitchen

                                                    Mushroom Fried Rice

Bell Pepper Fried Rice 

Mixed Fried Rice 

Here comes another rice preparation By Madhu who blogs at The Melting Pot

Follow Foodie, has send this rice preparation just in time..

And the Brain behind this healthy Event Priya who blogs at  Easy and Tasty Recipes, has 5 healthy recipes to share with us .

                                                  Drumsticks Leaves Chutney Rice

                                          Ajwain Tomato Rice

Now two recipes by yours truly 

                                               Baby Spinach Bean Sprouts Cherry Tomato Couscous Salad

Thank you Priya for giving this oppurtunity to host a food event.

Happy Cooking Friends

Monday, April 9, 2012

Masala Kala Channa and Vegetable Pulao- Healthy Lunch Idea

I started making this Kala Channa Masala and Vegetable Pulao as part of our healthy lunch ideas many years ago. There are possibly many different ways of making vegetable pulao and with different vegetables, but if I have to zero down the vegetables I would always pick green beans, carrots and green peas as these are easily available and I always stock them up in my pantry.

Soak kala channa overnight and then pressure cook them the other day. If you are in hurry, use the canned kala channa otherwise, anyway it works fine. During Navaratra kala channa, puri and suji ka halva is offered to Devi Maiya.But again that is made without onions/garlic as only “satvik” food is offered.However, I have made them with onions and garlic this time, well that makes it hmm.."rajsik”.And talking about navaratra, our next door neighbor Lady gave us Prasad on ashtmi as they did the “Kanjaka/ Kanya Puja”. Whenever they happened to meet us while passing through the common pathway, they have always admired how the entire pathway smells so nice of various foods. Now, on other hand it would have meant different had it been coming from locals here which would mean “you- better -keep -your –windows- open- while –cooking- in- kitchen”, but this time it meant can we taste some samples as this is what we liked to assume. I, deep down felt, should reciprocate and gave them back some home-baked chocolate chip muffins and mishti Doi .Lady of the house was overwhelmed, and from that point of time a new friendship blossomed in a foreign land. This sweet interaction reminded me of our growing up years in a small town where people really cared about each other and the pace of life was slow. And where these small food items exchange were common and was never taken as something offending.

Now to the recipe-

Masala kala channa
1 can of kala channa
2 medium size onions
3 garlic
½ inch ginger root
1 large tomato
½ tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of hot red pepper powder
2 tsp of dhania/coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
Salt as per taste
2 tbs of cooking oil
Chop onion, garlic and ginger finely
Now discard the water in the can, and then wash kala channa very well in water. Or you may soak the dry channa and then pressure cook it for two whistles.
Now heat up a saucepan, add chopped onion, garlic and ginger. Fry them well for 4-5 mints.
Now add the dry seasonings- turmeric, red pepper, and coriander and cumin powder. Adjust salt.
Now add in kala channa and fry all for 4-5 mints more. Add in chopped tomatoes.
Add in about a cup of water, cover it and let it simmer at med-low flame till the entire gravy turns out mushy.
Sprinkle freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Vegetable Pulao in saucepan
1 cup of basmati rice
2-3 cups of chopped mixed vegetables- green beans, carrots and green peas
1 medium size tomato
2 tbs of yogurt
2 tsp of sugar
1/2 cup of raisins/cashews
1 tsp of salt
2-3 tbs of cooking oil/sada tel
Heat up saucepan, add cooking oil.
Add chopped vegetables; stir/fry them at med-high till they just turn crunchy or partially cooked.
Now add in tomato and the rice. Fry it all, till rice turns shinning and the water dries up.Do not fry the rice vigorously as it may break the grains, once in a while stroke of spatula works fine.
Now adjust with salt and sugar.
Add in yogurt. Mix all of them very well.Add in cashews and raisins and stir them well with the rice and vegetable mixture.
Add about a cup and quarter cup of water to it. Cover the saucepan and let it cook at medium flame. When all the water dries up, take it off from the flame, even if the rice seems to be undercooked. Keep it covered further. At the time of serving just mix in well, if you wish, add saffron scented milk at the end, and cover it again.
Enjoy warm masala kala channa and vegetable pulao.

This goes to the event Healthy Food - Easy and Healthy Lunch, guest hosted by yours truly and originated by  Priya at Easy n Tasty Recipes. Last two days left, send in your entries soon.

And I have finally managed to create a page in FB for this blog. If you have liked recipes from here, could you also support the page as well.Thank you.

And Happy Cooking Friends

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dhokar Dalna

 This recipe invokes mixed feeling for me. One part of my heart feel elated just mentioning about it and other part becomes sad, a kind of void inside me. When I recall a sweet memory, I saw an old fragile figure earnestly grinding the lentil paste over sheel nora and then making/frying dhoka (lentil cake squares) over hot skillet or tava. And then again making the ada bata  ( ginger paste ) on Sheel nora.She would then ask us to taste the freshly fried dhokas, hot and soft straight from that tava.If you would ask me about that old fragile lady, I would say that was my grand mother “thamma” for you. Though she had helping hands or maids to do daily chores even then it comes to making this recipe, she would end up making it,all by herself from scratch. As this is what her beloved husband, her children and her grandchildren liked to eat. And believe me if I have half of the energy level she had, I would have gone to make dhokar dalna every once in a fortnight. We as modern generation are lagging way behind if we end up comparing the enthusiasm and dedication our old generations have for life and its nitty-gritty.

The recipe that I am sharing here is her way of making dhokar dalna.However, if she would have seen me adding arhar dal; she would have yelled at me- “No, you don’t add arhar dal to dhokar dalna”. My grandpa “Dadu” was very fond of this vegetarian preparation. I now recall their sweet and mock fighting over being Bangal and Ghoti. Yeah, my thamma was Bangal and Dadu was pure Ghoti.And we inherited both the traits. If you ask me to separate out Bangal traits and Ghoti traits, I can’t as it’s not possible for me; it’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite kid.
Many would say dhokar dalna is a Bangal preparation or may be vice verse. But if you really ask me, it really doesn’t matter which is what or may be what not. What matters is the end product which of course is just divine, rustic and flavorful, bursting with loads of flavor and core traditional food at your dinning table.

Dhokar Dalna 
Recipe Requirements ( Serves- 5-6 )
2 cups of cholar dal/chana dal
1 cup of toor dal/arhar dal
2-3 medium size onions
3-4 garlic
1 inch ginger root
2 medium tomatoes
3-4 green chilies
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of hing (asfoetida)
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of sugar
 1tsp of cumin seeds
2-3 tej pata
½ cup of oil for frying the dhokas and for making the gravy
2 medim size potato cut into cubes

Wash the lentils-cholar dal,toor daal with several changes of water.Soak the lentils in ample water for about 4-5 hrs or overnight.
Now possibly you can grind the soaked dal with few tsp of grated ginger (ada) and few green chilies (kancha lonka).But I have done this time a different way. I happen to grind the lentils first and then grinded the onion (peyanj), garlic ( loshon) and ginger root( ada)  with of course 3-4 green chilies (kancha lonka).When the onion/garlic/ginger paste was done, added half of the paste to the grinded lentil paste and reserved other half for the gravy.
If you feel blender is stuck and is not rotating smoothly, add little bit of water to rotate the blades, but make sure you don’t add much water. We want a thick lentil paste. Adjust it with salt later on.
Now either way you can fry this lentil paste in a kadhai with loads of oil or what I did like frying them over a skillet/tava with less oil as this is how my grandmother used to do. Spread the paste evenly over skillet/tava.Drop oil at the sides of the lentil cake with small spoon. Cover the lentil cake with a bigger vessel and let it cook for 10-15 mints.
Now cut the lentil cakes in diamond or square shape whatever way you prefer. Drop some more oil over the lentil squares and fry them well slowly on med-high heat over skillet. When they are easily released from the skillet and can slide over it, take them off from the skillet and let it cool over a separate plate.
In a big saucepan or kadhai, add cooking oil,evenly fry the potato cubes.Take them out.
Add some more oil , and temper the cooking oil with cumin seeds and tej patta. Now add in the reserved moshla paste of onions, garlic and ginger. If you want to make niramish Dhokar dalna then add only ginger paste or ada bata and avoid onion and garlic.
Fry them well for 4-5 mints at med-high flame, now add all the dry seasonings-
Turmeric powder (holod), red pepper powder (laal lonka goron), coriander powder (dhone goron), cumin powder (jeerey goron) and asafetida (hing).
Add about half cup of water so that dry ingredients don’t get burnt. Keep on frying till the moshla gets properly distributed. Now add in finely chopped tomatoes. Fry well till tomatoes are mashed and well cooked. Add in fried potato cubes; coat the fried potatoes cubes well with this fried moshla/masala.
Add about 2 cups of water, depending on the gravy you want. If you want a makha-mkaha gravy or semi dry gravy adding this much of water is sufficient. Or if you want patla gravy then add more water. Cover the pan and let it cook or till the potato cubes are cooked.
Slowly release fried dhoka (lentil cake squares) in to the gravy and let it cook for 2-3 mints. Take it off from the flame and keep it covered.Dhokas will absorb all the gravy so at this time add little bit more warm water. Keep it covered for few mints more. The lentil cakes will turn out soft. Serve with garam bhaat or with roti, whatever way you prefer.

Traditionally dhokar dalna is made with cholar dal, as I was running short of this dal so end up using arhar dal.More arhar dal helped in binding the dhokas well.
To make niramish preparation of dhokar dalna avoid, using peyanj ( onion)  and roshon (garlic) .However ada  bata ( ginger paste ) can be used and all moshla can be added.
Add 2 tsp of ghee and 1 tsp of garam moshla at the end to enhance the flavor.

Happy Cooking Friends and wish all of you a very Happy Ramnabami.