Thursday, December 15, 2016

Of This and That - Some Musings

This will be my last post for 2016… It’s raining heavily outside, sitting down with my laptop on our dining table, occasionally I glance through my balcony doors to look far ahead, but the visibility is zero. I made a glass of chilled iced lemon tea for myself...Music playing in the back ground, you know those ageless and soul-soothing old Hindi songs – like one from film ‘Anupama’. December makes me feel cold inside, although the temperatures outside will defy all things winter has to offer here. There is nothing as such a typical ‘winter’ in Malaysia – rain and sun-shine all through the year. How I longed for the coldness, winter has to offer and the white snow clad houses and streets, is a forlorn story here.

But even in those scarcity of true feelings for winter, we created a space in our heart which made us believe, yes believe, that these last few days of 2016, this festive spirit will linger on. We have put up a Christmas tree just like we used to do in UK. 

Warming up our cold hearts, this tree reminded us to believe in everything about life- whatever the challenges, obstacles one may face, believe in yourself – this will pass through. We have made it so far, hopefully we will keep doing so in future as well. In all those challenges, we should not forget about all the blessings which god has bestowed us all. Pause for a moment, take out time from your busy schedules and please count all those blessings. The true spirit of festivals lies there.

The shopping malls are all decked up and busy here with beautiful Christmas decorations and huge Christmas trees and people shopping for their near and dear ones. We usually sit down on those numerous benches inside shopping malls and watch the world go by leisurely. 

There will be people shopping on the likes of Gucci/Prada/MK / Miss Selfridge/ Topshop/Zara and what not, in those numerous shopping malls, during these last few days before Christmas. But to me Christmas, or for that matter any festival, is all about togetherness of family and friends. Gifts are just add-on like cherry on top of an assembled black-forest cake.

Couple of days back, we had a long weekend, so, dear daughter called up her few friends from our residential-complex and had a mini-Christmas snack party. 

The home was filled with the warmth of their girlie-chat, laughter and fun. Time flies and even before I realize, these girls all in pre-teen age are ready to create their own stories, just like we did decades ago.

Since these are holiday time, I thought instead of doing a recipe post, a proper menu post will be more helpful.
The snack- menu had chocolate cupcakes, cucumber and mozzarella cheese sandwich, baked chicken drumsticks and roasted spiced potato wedges with plenty of cold drinks.
There was another platter which we had on Sunday - roasted potato and orange sweet potato, tofu fried rice, baked spicy salmon steak and California rolls (this one is a type of  'Sushi'- store-brought though)…And there was plenty of litchi mock tail as refreshments.

Recipe for Oven- Baked Salmon Steak
Salmon steak pieces- 4-5
½ tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
 2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of cardamom powder
½ tsp of cinnamon powder
 1 tsp of black pepper powder
Salt as per taste
Take all the spices in a big bowl and mix in well.
Now rub spices all over the salmon steak pieces.
Cover and keep it in fridge for about half an hour.
Now preheat an oven at 175 deg C.
Place the salmon steak pieces over a baking tray and put that in the middle rack.
Bake for 30-35 mints. Take out serve hot. These are absolutely delicious.

Roasted spiced potato wedges have the same spices as listed above. The only addition was mustard oil and chili flakes to marinate them well.Bake the potato wedges at 180 Deg C for 40 mints.

Cucumber Mozzarella sandwich- Layer thinly sliced cucumber over buttered sandwich bread and then top it up with grated fresh mozzarella cheese or cheese slices. Press the sandwich and viola ready in jiffy.You can use tomato as well.Tomato and Mozzarella is another great combination.

Tofu Fried Rice
 3-4 cups of cooked rice- for 3-4 people
you can use brown rice as well
 200 Gms of extra firm tofu
2 tsp of thick soya sauce
1 tsp of oyster sauce
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of black pepper powder
 3 tsp of grated fresh ginger
 1 stick lemon grass
 3-4 tsp of soybean oil/ or sesame oil
In a big wok/fry pan, add in oil. Add in firm tofu pieces and fry them at high heat for about 3-4 mints.
Take out and keep in a separate plate.
Add in grated ginger, cut lemon grass  and any vegetables you would like to add- I have used carrots and tomato finely chopped. Toss well and cook at high heat for 3-4 mints.
Add in all the sauces and spices listed above. Adjust salt.
Add in fried tofu and coat well with spices and sauces.
Now add in cooked rice and mix well. Serve and enjoy.

These recipes can be found in archived posts here…

You all have a great festive time.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and have a Happy new year …….

See you all in new year 2017…Welcome 2017....bye –bye 2016…..

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fettuccini with Tofu and Vegetables

It’s December and this means an entire year is wrapping up soon. In 2016, we re-located to Malaysia and which meant whole lot of adjustments. New school and friends for dear daughter and us trying to get a grip of new place. Leaving behind the familiarity of everything in UK and starting all over fresh again, is never an easy task. But so far so good, and yes, it has been a great learning for us. We have slowly started enjoying our weekend outings and this brings us to understand the cultural differences we have over here. In spite of being in the centre of constant changes, we have managed to make few friends over here.
All I can say, a year has made me realize that nothing in this world is permanent, people will come to our lives, impacting us, teaching us valuable things about life and then leave, leaving behind their memories. Life itself is a collage of all great memories- Experience it and treasure it.

I had fettuccini pasta, and thought of using it up with tofu and other vegetables. We like to add lots of veggies to our pasta dishes which gives nice colours and texture.  This can also be made ahead and can be served as cold salad.
Now to the recipe

 Fettuccini with tofu and vegetables 

Recipe requirements
400 gms of Fettuccini pasta
 400 gms of extra firm tofu
Vegetables of your choice
 2-3 tbs of pasta sauce
4 tbs of butter
¼ cup of sour cream
 ¼ cup of parmesan cheese
Salt as per taste
Black pepper as per taste


Take a large pot with ample water. Add in salt to it. Let it come to one boil. Add in dried fettuccini and cook al dente (cooked but still firm).
In a separate fry pan, big enough to hold all the pasta and with vegetables. Add in butter, let it melt and then add chopped vegetables- like onion, carrots and tomato. Add in tofu pieces. Add in pasta sauce.
Stir/fry all for about 4-5 mints. Add in cooked fettuccini with the cooking water. Add in parmesan cheese and sour cream. Mix all the ingredients very well and coat well with sauce. Adjust salt and seasonings- black pepper etc.

Sprinkle some chilli flakes and enjoy.

Happy Cooking Friends and have lovely weekend

Friday, December 2, 2016

No- Bake Chocolate and Lemon cheesecake

I was never a fan of classical orchestra music, but don’t know what happens with Hans Zimmer, and I do really like what he creates- these past couple of days I have been listening to his masterpieces- and one is the sound-track of Inception- Time. The tune is so haunting and keeps lingering on. It gives you motivation and sadness at the same time. Another one is ‘A Way of life’. Those are real masterpieces. Any way music is to soul and so is the food. There are many soul satisfying foods as well.

We were carving for some cheesecake and my daughter was asking for a cheesecake for a long time. I was having some left-over crumbs from this recipe of – Chocolate mice, so wanted to use it and it ended up as the crust of the no-bake cheesecake. The slight hint of lemon was also an added bonus. So, the no bake cheesecake with lemon and chocolate flavour was born. The end product was very appetising and soul satisfying just like music by Hans Zimmer.
Now to the recipe

No-bake chocolate and lemon cheesecake

Recipe requirements
For the top

  • 1 and half cup of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 and half cup of cream cheese
  • ½ can of condensed milk (optional)
  • Roughly about 3-4 tbs of lemon juice
  • ½ cup of chocolate powder
  • For the base/crust
  • 5-6 tbs of butter at room temperature
  •  20-25 Chocolate biscuits -
Crush chocolate biscuits in a mixer or you can use rolling pin as well. I have used oats and chocolate biscuit for this recipe (available here as Oats crunch biscuits). You can use crackers as well. The crust was delicious with chocolate flavour and sweet.
Now in a big mixing bowl, mix together biscuits crumbs and butter with your hands. The mixture will be like a moist crumbs.
Take a  round 9'' inch cake tin and put the mixture in to it and press gently to make it firm. This will be the base/crust of no-bake cheesecake.
In a separate mixing bowl mix in mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and condensed milk with lemon juice and about 1 tsp of fresh lemon zest. (You can skip condensed milk if you wish but then you have to increase the cream cheese and mascarpone content and also will have to add castor sugar to make it sweet.)
Now pour this mixture over the base. Tap the corner of the cake tin so that it evens out.
Now sprinkle chocolate powder all over it.I have used Caotina drinking chocolate powder. You can use any other brands as well. But for me it’s Caotina for sure.

Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight. Serve it next day.
Tip- You can use Oreo biscuits as crust as well.

Happy Cooking Friends and have a relaxing weekend

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Instant Rava Idli - super easy

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a very wrong world. The world where views are biased, people have no morals to fall back and where people take things for granted. They mock or doubt you, if you wear your emotions on your sleeves. And then, even if you happen to tell your true inner feelings, people ridicule you for being over-sensitive. I really don’t know when caring or showing concern to fellow humans became being over sensitive. But this is a modern world we are talking about, someone told me and you should also act modern. I am like if these acts mean modernisation, then probably I am well off, without it.

Well this recipe has nothing to do with being over-sensitive, but yes it’s a very quick way of making idlis, when you are running short of time and patience.
 We were craving for some idlis but I had no time for doing the whole procedure of soaking, grinding and then fermenting. There are plenty of recipes for instant idlis out here in net.But all of them use ENO, I didn’t have at the time of making these idlis, so used baking soda and it still came out fine.

Instant Rava  idli  recipe

Recipe requirements

 2 large cups of semolina/rava
3/4  cup of yogurt
¾ tsp of baking soda
For tempering
2 tbs of chana dal
2 tbs of urid dal
 1 -2 twigs of curry patta
3-4 dry red pepper powder
1-2 tsp of brown mustard seeds
2 tbs of cooking oil


Dry roast rava/semolina in a fry pan. Do not let it burn.
Now take the slightly roasted rava in a separate bowl.
Add in cooking oil to the fry pan.
Now add mustard seeds, urid dal, chana dal, dry red peppers and curry leaves.Let it splutter.
Add in the roasted rava to it and mix well.
Transfer the entire content in a big bowl.
Let it cool.
Now add in yogurt and mix well. Add about a cup of water to it. Adjust salt in the above. Leave it for about an hour.
Add in baking soda just before you will make instant idlis.
Prepare idli stand and scoop the rava mixture in to the slotted space for the idli in idli-stand.
Steam about 20-25 mints or till the idlis are cooked well in a pressure cooker.
take out once they are all done.

Serve with coconut chutney.These are always well recieved by my family whenever we feel like having it for breakfast or quick dinner with sambhar.Here is Lauki and bean sprouts sambhar.

Happy Cooking Friends

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Langkawi- a hidden paradise

Langkawi is cluster of 99- 104 islands on Malaysia’s west coast. This is a great destination for beach lovers and the ones who wants to relax in nature’s lap. The very essence of Langkawi is its blue sea-water and paddy fields with some hilly region.

Our 4 days visit was a much relief from busy Kuala Lumpur life.
Although there are many things to see and do as per activity wise, for active people there is snorkelling, sea-sports etc. but we were more into spending time on beaches. The island is blessed to have three conservation areas Machincang Cambrian Geoforests park, Kilim Karst Geoforest park and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest park (which is island of Pregnant Maiden lake).One can take ferry transport from Penang, Kuala Kedah or by domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur.The touristy population is confided into southern part and the north-east is more secluded with little tourist. We based our selves in Kuah Town.

The views from our apartment balcony were breath-taking- each morning and every evening there was a different view to greet us.
Most popular beach is Chenang beach or Pantai Cenang.This white-sand beach is the most frequently visited place. 

The main road which lead to the beach is lined by street-side hawkers selling beach activities things and also clothes and accessories. Do visit them when you are in this area and buy couple of things from them. 

Although, I would say avoid the shopping malls, but if you are into chocolates and alcohol then you can try out duty-free shopping malls as well.
Langkawi cable car takes visitors up to the peak of Gunung Mat Chingchang. The entry is through Oriental village that includes various fast-food joints, fish spa and a 3-dimensional art museum known as Art in Paradise. We went for a quick fish spa session which was tickling and entertaining as well.
It’s better to have your own vehicle to roam around in the island. But we hired local taxi-drivers on two days and it was well worth it.Day 1 Hakkim- drove us around in the island, very cultured and experienced driver. He took us to Eagle square

and also to
Tanjug Rhu beach

 and Black sand beach

and dropped us at Cable car site in the afternoon.
We were mesmerized by the top view, the journey time from bottom of hill to the top is roughly 15 mints. 

The cable car takes to the top station and from there, is an inclined lift which takes people to the sky bridge. 

Although, there is another passage through steps which took us to the sky bridge. We were tired climbing up and down the steps, but we finally made it to the sky bridge. We started walking on the open sky bridge, once we reached the other end, weather started to deteriorate and wind started howling at us, and soon we were trapped in a heavy thunderstorm. 

While we waited holding our breath, the loud rumblings continued and then the outcome, heavy and lashing rain, and we were trapped in a sort of a trench. A care-taker luckily was there with us, guiding us through the whole situations. We waited there for about 15 -20 mints till the ferocity of the rain subsided. While still it was raining, we made our way back to the origin of Sky Bridge. And what an experience it was. We were planning a relaxed action-free holiday, lo behold we were facing a thrilling adventure of sort. So, when life gets tough have 'snickers', yes we snicked  snacked on snickers while waiting for the thunderstorm to subside, entrapped with fellow tourists under a sort of trench.
When Hakim came to pick us up, he seemed worried about us, and asked if we are fine or not. He dropped us back to our hotel. 
And this is how our day one was spent with an unplanned adventure.

Day two and three, we went to Pantai Cenang and spent entire days there, relaxing on beach. I was hooked on to reading book for a change, and yes I did finish ‘The Girl on the Train’ during this holiday, and what a good read this turned out to be.

We got nicely tanned even though we were siting under these large umbrellas.

We are blessed with more skin pigment melatonin and so you would know how things are for us.
 Last day we were not sure what to do, so, we picked up a local driver Abu and he showed us rest of the interesting places in Langkawi. 

He seemed very keen in sharing local stories or legends about Langkawi. The legend of pregnant maiden lake is based on a lady. The whole day he kept telling us very interesting facts about Langkawi and he told us, he preferred life over here rather than in Kuala Lumpur, and I couldn’t agree more.

The splendid waterfall of Telaga Tujuh or seven wells waterfall kept us feeling relaxed and mesmerized. 

Abu also happened to tell us stories about fairies who visit this place frequently (hmmm never meant to feel haunted, but he told us they are good spirits who take care of the waterfall area).We saw many tourists diving into the fresh waterfall water. Although, we didn’t make it up to the top of waterfall, but enthusiasts do that. We spent more time sitting there, soaking up the positive energy. Another pit-stop was Temuran waterfall , we had a quick visit there.

We called the day at Pantai Kok Beach and this is how our visit ended in Langkawi. We were returning back to the real life now- life at Kuala Lumpur.

‘’ It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.’’

 ---------------Ursula K Lee Guin.

See you all next week with a new blogpost ...till then take care and enjoy life....

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chocolate mice and Happy Diwali

Today is Diwali or should I say Deepawali. And Diwali invokes lots of good old memories- Rangoli decorations, bursting crackers, and eating ‘kheel’ and ‘khilona’ (you know those sugary things moulded into various shapes of animals).Stocking up fire-crackers and drying them in the sun, in case they were still wet somehow (god knows how many times we used to go upstairs to our terrace to check them in between). Putting up light bulbs on terrace or balcony, checking with a tester and feeling elated to become an electrician for the time being, gorging on home-made sweets that our mothers would churn out for these past couple of days. When I look back (yes, I do like to do from time to time. Everyone has their own share of memories. I would say treasure them and re-visit them from time to time, but be ready to make new and fresh memories.) And I have stacks of all those memories, and that includes memories associated with Diwali as well.

Here wishing everyone a very happy Diwali.

Shubh Deepawali everyone.May festival of light brings you loads of happiness, peace and prosperity.

Our residential complex had a Halloween potluck get –together couple of days ago. I happened to make these chocolate mice which was well received by the crowd. Little ones specifically adored these cute, tiny chocolate mice. 
I made about 60 of them and not a single mice was left. So you can imagine how delicious these can be.

Now to the recipe for chocolate mice

 Chocolate mice

Recipe requirements – makes 60 small mice

adapted from here
500 Gms of oats chocolate biscuit crumbs
4 chocolate bars 100 Gms each
5-6 tbs of sour cream (can use thick yogurt as well)
For decorations
  1 cup of chocolate biscuit crumble
Almond flakes about 1 cup for ears or 120 almond flakes
Dragees for eyes – 120
 Carrot thin juliennes for tails- 60

Crush chocolate biscuits in a mixer or with rolling pin. I have used oats and chocolate biscuit to make it healthy. But you can use any other chocolate biscuits.
Melt chocolate bars in microwave for about a mint.
In a big mixing bowl – mix together oats chocolate crumble with melted chocolate. Add in sour cream and bind them well. Check with a tsp of sample and try to roll, if they stick together the mixture is ready to be shaped in like little mice.
Store it in fridge for about an hour. This will help it to help in shaping of mice.
Now take out about a table spoon of the mixture and start shaping in to rounds. Now at one end slightly, mould to a point (the nose) to form mice.
Roll each mice over the biscuit crumble to coat it evenly. 
Now put dragees for eyes. Almond flakes for ears and carrot thin juliennes for the tail. 
You can use strawberry juliennes as well for tails.

Chill at least for about 2-3 hrs or until they are all firm.

Happy Cooking 

Wish you all a very happy Diwali and a happy Halloween 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chingri diye Chal kumro - ash-gourd with shrimp stir/fry - and it's 10 years of food-blogging

This blog turned 10 years old. Yes that’s a long time. I have planned to write a big senti-post with elaborate made-ups, emojis and what-not. But here I am, with my flaws, loss with words and ………

When I started taking baby steps, I never knew this could be shaping up something like this today. I needed to write, needed to write down my experiments in my small apartment kitchen like a mad scientist working endlessly, in their laboratory, except those laboratory products were being tasted by and tested on real people – aka my dear Husband and my dear daughter. Well what else can they do?

  I think (or rather I pretend to think- whatever is the case), they have also accepted this mad scientist/aka cook with her flaws and that she will continue experimenting things with them. Now, even they have started giving me instructions, ways to improve a recipe. We have healthy discussions about recipes on our dining table and the conversation even revolves around the spice –level and the levels at which vegetables are stir/fried/charred/burnt. We sometimes even discuss the need of ‘jeerey phoron’ over ‘panch phoron’ and vice-versa. Sorry politics and ‘gyan –wardhak- batein ‘, please find some other dinner table.
One fine day, dear daughter was calling me fanatically, and I thought it must be those days, where she has to vent out her feelings. ‘Ma you should see this!!  …..And I asked what? …..Hey! Your blog is on google search and that too on first page. Do you really know what it means…..and I was rolling my eyes, what it meant, trying to recall – and I gave a blank stare to her.…..probably she understood (after that day, she is on a reading spree- reading all those old posts from the beginning. I wonder how she feels, where she is mentioned or I have written about her. I need to ask her someday that too…….)
10 years can do that too (can make you go blank sometimes) ……it’s a long time …..Well food –blogging, is now a profession these days, as this is what I last heard about. I have seen a paradigm shift in this field- from hobby to making it a profession. I don’t know what should I say about that- but if that makes a difference to you. I now do tell, 'real –life' people or friends that I have a food-blog which some 3-4 years ago I couldn’t think or speak-out.

But yes, there are people, who still visit this food-blog, spend time accessing recipes and perhaps do make them in their kitchen. Some even find time to write me back and appreciate for sharing recipes with them,or drop a comment. Some even ask questions about recipes, some even criticize, and some are silent readers-they come, they read and I do think they try making recipes from here as well. 

Well, to all of you, thanks a lot for making ‘spice and curry’ a part for your life, a tiny place where you like to hang around and feel like it’s your home. Well that is what this food-blog is all about. Thank you for visiting and checking recipes here, making it a million-hits- food-blog.

Without you reader(s) this blog is incomplete. Hopefully, I will keep writing more recipes, but you have to promise me as well, that you will keep visiting us as well. 

Thank you for being with me all these 10 years of food-blogging!!!

Today I am sharing a very Bengali recipe- Chingri diye chal kumro- ash gourd with shrimp and coconut stir/fry. After all those blabbering above, I think I will spare you from more torture, and will write the recipe.

Here is how I made it 

Chingri diye chal kumro r torkari/ Shrimp and potato with coconut stir/fry

Recipe requirements- ( serves3-4 people)

1 medium size ash gourds
 300 Gms of shrimps- cleaned and deveined
2 medium size potatoes
 1 medium tomatoes chopped or 8-10 ripened cherry tomatoes slit in between
3-4 red bird eye chilies/Thai chilies
 1 and ½ tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of turmeric powder
Salt as per taste
For tempering
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies
5-6 tbs of cooking oil/mustard oil


Clean and cut ash gourd, potatoes in to long juliennes, little bit thicker.
Clean shrimps- deshell them and devein them. Marinate with turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside for 10 mints.
Heat up a fry pan, add 1tbs of mustard oil, and stir fry the shrimps for 4-5 mints. Take out and reserve to use up later in the stir/fry preparation.
Heat up a fry pan/wok/kadai, Add in rest of the cooking oil to it, add cumin seeds, dry red pepper, and let it splutter.
Stir/fry it for 1-2 mints at med-high flame.
Add in ash gourd and potatoes pieces/juliennes.
Add in red chilly slit in between and finely chopped tomato pieces.( you can add grated coconut as well.)
Add in all the dry spices- turmeric powder+red pepper powder+salt in a cup of water, mix it well.
Add this spices mixture to the above fried mix and keep on stir/fry for about 3-4 mints.
Let it cook for 10-12 mints at medium-low flame or till the potatoes turn soft. At this time add in fried spicy shrimp to above and mix it well. Take out and it’s ready to be eaten.

Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice.

Happy Cooking friends and 

Thanks you for stopping by here and spending time with me all these 10 years of food-blogging !!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Shorshe Bhapa Bhetki/Siakap- Steamed Siakap with mustard seeds paste and Shubho Bijoya

How time is slowly slipping away from our hands like sand, the more I try to hold it tightly, it starts slipping away harder. Well this is time for you, and it never stops for anyone, it moves because it has to move, for that is what it's purpose is.
Past couple of days were spent in euphoria. Well after moving here in KL, I thought maybe, I will miss Durga Ma ‘darshon’, but here, I am again put wrong. Bengalis are everywhere, even in Kuala Lumpur. So, there is Malaysia Bengali association as well. I went, I saw and I was conquered. I was conquered with the ageless beauty of Ma Durga, her divine face and her aura.

We have now some great memories of Durga Puja in KL. We did our ‘pushpanjali’, had bhog, and saw ‘Sandhi Puja’, heard ‘Dhaak’ and saw ‘Dhunuchi’ dance as well. All things which makes Durga Puja so beautiful and festive. And, we were mesmerised with the ambience. OH! And not to forget – tried food made by local Bengali ladies as well in ‘Anando Mela’.

And since yesterday was Bijoya Dashami, the culmination of 9 days Navaratri festival, specifically last 4-5 days. Here wishing everyone shubho Vijayadashami, shubho Bijoya.

I have a fish recipe post today, and no sweet recipe this time.Shorshe bhapa Bhetki/Siakap/Barramundi, and this remains one of our favourite ways of making bhapa Mach aka steamed fish. Here is how we made it

Shorshe bhapa Bhetki /Siakap – Steamed Siakap with mustard seed paste

Recipe requirements- serves 3 people

 1 whole bhetki/siakap –cleaned and gutted – cut into 3 pieces
2 garlic cloves
6-8 red bird eye chilies/Thai chilies
2-4 tbs of brown mustard seeds
 1 tbs of cumin seeds
 1 tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder
 For marinating fish
¾ tsp of turmeric powder
Salt as per taste
3-4 tbs of mustard oil
  1 tsp of Salt or as per taste

Clean siakap/bhetki fish pieces well in water. Marinate them with turmeric powder and salt and keep aside for about half an hour.
Fry the fish pieces lightly, just to get rid of the raw smell.
Soak mustard seeds for 1-2 hrs in water. After that grind them to make a paste with salt, cumin seeds, garlic and 3-4 Thai red chillies. You can use any other chilies as well.
Add in all the dry spices- turmeric powder+red pepper powder+salt in a cup of water, mix it well.
Add in mustard oil to the above spices mixture. Mix mustard paste with this spice mixture.
Prepare steel box which you will be using for steaming. Pour spice mixture with mustard paste and place fish pieces inside it.Cover it and put the box for steaming in a vessel filled with water. Steam cook it for 45-50 mints at medium flame.
Otherwise you can use electrical steamer. Steam cook the above for about 40-45 mints. I have used electrical steamer for the purpose. The timing can vary, please check your brand’s manual for fish cooking time.

Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice.

Shubho Bijoya everyone.
Wish you all a very happy Dusehrah.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chorchori and Sharodiya Shubecha

Autumn, this is that time of the year again. Every Bengali knows what it means, and how much importance it has in their respective lives. Some have nostalgic memories associated with it and some will continue making fresh memories with each passing autumn season. ‘Sharadoutsav’ is again reckoning from tomorrow with Shashti, the onset of Sharad kalin or Ashwin month Durga Puja according to Hindu calender. And with Durga Puja , a series of other festivals lining up now.

Puja invokes mixed feeling for me, makes me feel home-sick and happy as well. Although where ever we go, we find many places where we can get a glimpse of Ma Durga and absorb in Puja atmosphere. 
We do hope we can do this year as well. These 4-5 days, means – eating, cooking and more eating, get-together, outings and celebrating.
I have prepared a list of recipes for these special occasion.Yes most of them are Bengali recipes.You can have a look - here and an old post about Puja ramblings.

You all enjoy and have a wonderful Durga Puja holidays.

Today I have a chorchori recipe post with Ranga Aloo.Chorchori as it says, need no introduction. All you need is vegetables and stir/fry them and the vegetable medley is ready. This is eaten as first course. Here is how we made it ……..

Chorchori with Ranga aloo
Recipe requirements (serves 2-3 people)
2-3 sweet potato
2 medium size carrots
1-2 Cauliflower stalks
 2-3 medium size round brinjals
 1 medium size bitter gourd
1 medium size potatoes
 ½ tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
 1tsp of freshly grounded coriander powder
Salt as per taste
 2 pinches of sugar
For tempering
1 tsp of panch phoron
2 dry red chillies
5-6 tbs of cooking oil/mustard oil

Clean and cut potatoes, sweet potato, brinjals and carrots in to cubes.
Cut bitter gourd into cubes and marinate them with turmeric powder+ salt. Set aside in a separate plate.
If you are using vegetables stalks, like cauliflower, scrape the outer layer and then chop it into cubes. You can use other vegetable stalks as well cabbage, spinach or other green leafy vegetable stalks.
Heat up a fry pan/wok/kadai, Add in few tsp of cooking oil to it, stir/fry bitter gourd pieces for 3-4 mints at med-high flame, take out and keep aside.
Add in more oil and add panch phoron , dry red pepper, let it splutter.
Stir/fry it for 1-2 mints at med-high flame.
Add in carrots, vegetable stalks, sweet potatoes and potatoes pieces. Add brinjals pieces at the end.
In a small bowl  mix in all the dry spices- turmeric powder+red pepper powder+coriander powder +salt with bit of water and  mix it well.
Add this spices mixture to the above fried mix and keep on stir/fry for about 3-4 mints.
Now add in fried bitter gourd pieces and mix well. Splash some water over the stir/fried vegetables so that it doesn’t stick at the bottom.
Cover and let it cook further for about 8-12 mints or till the vegetables turn soft.
Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice.

Happy Cooking Friends 

Shobayi ke Sharodiya Shubecha and Preeti .....Happy Durga Puja

Friday, September 30, 2016

Singapore style Beehun/Bihun/Angel hair rice Vermicelli - Fried rice vermicelli with Tofu and Bok Choy

When we were kids, we sometimes used to lie down on green grass and watched the clouds floats by. We still do like it, even we are way past our childhood days, but with time crunch, it’s not something very frequent these days. Some will say huh! Who does that, kids not grown-ups like us, to that I would say it’s good to be a kid sometimes, to recall back all the innocence that we have lost in this maddening world of materialistic values.

When I see kids these days, hooked on to social media, and connecting with friends through smart-phones, I feel, as if we are somehow losing it out to technology, where is that innocence these days? And the problem is either you are in, or completely out, and with tremendous amount of peer pressure to fit in. Not all diagrams point to circles, some can be square as well. Then why put things into symmetric pigeon –holes.
Not all silly things makes us silly, you silly! …That’s what, my Ma told me once. And I couldn’t apprehend what she meant with that. Now that, I am myself a mother, I know what she meant.
We still catch up our cloud floating sessions sometimes, in spite of hectic schedules. Let’s see how long we will be able to do things like this in coming future as well.

Fried bihun, I happened to taste it for first time when one of my Malaysian friend in London made it for me, and with shrimps, we really liked the taste. The thin rice vermicelli soaked the flavours of soya sauce well and prawns were juicy, and soft. The noodles were light and flavourful.
Bihun/beehun is rice vermicelli in Malaysia, so when I tasted Singapore style Bihun in one of our local restaurant here, I thought to make it again in comfy of my home. As of now, I don’t think Singapore style noodles is popular in Singapore itself. But there, most of them know it as Fried Bihun/Beehun or fried rice vermicelli.
Well this is a great accompaniment with all sorts of curries and other sautéed vegetables. This is how we like to make it.
Singapore style Beehun/Bihun – Fried rice vermicelli with Tofu and Bok Choy

Recipe requirements (Serves 2-3)
150-200 g of thin rice vermicelli /Beehun/Bihun/angel hair vermicelli
3-4 tbs of cooking oil
2-3 garlic pods
1 medium size onion
300 gms of firm tofu cut into cubes
2-3 Bok choy bundles or about 8-10 small Bok Choy
1 medium size carrots
 3-4 Thai red chillies slit in between
2 free range eggs (optional)
6-7 fried shrimps (optional)
For the sauce
2-3 tsp of thick soya sauce
 1tsp of light soya sauce
2-3 tsp of hot chilli sauce
Salt as per taste
Soak rice vermicelli or also known as bee hun/ bihun in water for about 20 mints or till they turn soft.
Chop and cut all the vegetables finely preferably in thin juliennes.
Now add in 2 tbs of cooking oil in a fry pan, add in eggs and fry well. Take them out in a separate plate.
Now add in reserved bit of cooking oil and stir/fry garlic and then onions.
Now add rest of the chopped vegetables- carrots,chilies,  bok choy etc.
In a mixing bowl- mix in hot chilies sauce and soya sauce and salt.
Now add this sauce to the above fried mixture of vegetables.
Add in soaked  and soft bihun/rice vermicelli.
Mix in with a spatula gently and garnish with fried eggs or shrimps.You can substitute Tofu with paneer cubes.
Singapore style bihun is ready to be served.

Today is Shubh Mahalaya , after this Navaratri starts.

Wish you all Shubh Mahalaya and Festive greetings.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ash Gourd and potato Stir/fry with freshly grated coconut

Hi friends, I haven’t updated the blog for the past couple of weeks, after I wrote our Penang travelogue here, so thought of updating it with a vegetarian recipe this time. After all travel or no travel, cooking is integral part of my life, even though I may or may not update this blog.
I happened to pick ash gourd this time and wanted to make this with coconut- freshly grated coconut.Ash gourd has many health benefits. And this turned out a very flavourful dry stir/fry preparation and it reminded me of our very own ‘narkol diye chal kumro’.

Now I am not sure if 'chal kumro' is called ash gourd in English or not. As the ash gourds that are available here are different looking than the varieties, we find in Bengal. So as of now I am calling this recipe as ash gourd vegetable stir/fry with coconut. However, if you want to make chal kumro with narkol, the instructions are almost same. Ash gourd is high on water content. The dry stir/fry is slightly on a sweeter note due to the addition of coconut, however if you want a spicier version you can include green chillies as well or increase the hotness level.
Here is how I made it 
Ash gourd and Potato stir/fry with coconut
Recipe requirements-
1 medium size ash gourds
2 medium size potatoes
 1 medium tomatoes chopped or 8-10 ripened cherry tomatoes slit in between
1 cup of freshly grated coconut
¼ cup of coconut milk
3-4 red bird eye chilies/Thai chilies
 1 tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder
Salt as per taste
For tempering
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies
5-6 tbs of cooking oil/mustard oil
Clean and cut ash gourd, potatoes in to long juliennes, little bit thicker.
Heat up a fry pan/wok/kadai, Add in cooking oil to it, add cumin seeds, dry red pepper, let it splutter
Stir/fry it for 1-2 mints at med-high flame.
Add in ash gourd and potatoes pieces/juliennes.
Add in red chilly slit in between and finely chopped tomato pieces.
Add in grated coconut.
Add in all the dry spices- turmeric powder+red pepper powder+salt in a cup of water, mix it well.
Add this spices mixture to the above fried mix and keep on stir/fry for about 3-4 mints.
Add in coconut milk and cover. Let it cook for 10-12 mints at medium-low flame or till the potatoes turn soft.

Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice.

Happy cooking friends

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Penang Diary - Part-2

While we were still in awe of street arts of Penang in George Town, here is Penang diary part-1, we decided next day we would have a spiritual journey day.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple- Penang

We went to Sri Mahamariamman temple in the morning. We offered our prayers and the deities over there were nicely decorated.  Sri Mahamariamman   temple is one of the oldest (200 years) Hindu temple in Penang. The main entrance is colourful and has all the Gods and goddesses. 

When we were still deciding which temple we should visit next, there we met a group of enthusiasts. They were part of a game-hunt organised by Penang heritage centres. And what a pleasant interaction that was, it was pouring and yet they were out, seeking out clues and solving a puzzle on the go. They even clicked some pictures with us. Yes life is full of surprises.

We then went to visit Wat Chaiyamangakalram Thai Buddhist temple or the temple of reclining Buddha of Penang. The temple is famous for its giant sleeping Buddha idol which is 33 m in length. 

Reclining Buddha in Wat Chaiyamangkalaram

And then also Buddha images in various postures according to year of Chinese birth year. The walls are painted with Gautama Buddha’s life-inspiring stories. 

We even spotted the story of ‘Angulimaal’ and enlightenment of Buddha under Bodhisattva tree. 
The temple was built by a Thai Buddhist monk who followed Theravada sect of Buddhism. There is another small temple just adjacent to the main temple, where Buddha is seated. If you are not in rush, you can sit here meditate and pray.

Burmese Buddhist temple

We came out form this temple, and visited Burmese Buddhist temple just across the road. The Dhammikarma Buddhist temple is a Burmese temple. The temple is in a big complex – which consists of main shrine hall, a sima hall, dining hall, monk’s quarter, a library, a lodge, a lecture hall and a Sunday school. The entire complex is well maintained and the greenery all around it makes it a very pleasant and a calming landscape. The Buddha idol is large and looks breath-taking.

The Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas

After spending much time over here, we headed to Kek Lok Si temple in Air Itam in Penang, where we had a lovely meal at the restaurant in the temple complex of Kek Lok Si temple. The restaurant is big, but the atmosphere is relaxed and also the ladies who were managing the restaurant were polite and friendly. Although, they have a fabulous menu – ranging from traditional Chinese cuisine to local Penang style recipes, but we opted for vegetarian fried noodles and vegetarian spring rolls.

Kek Lok Si temple complex

We took the steps towards Kek Lok Si main temple, enjoying the view from above, taking breaks on steps. The way towards the temple, reminds me of our Kashi Vishawanth temple in Varanasi, as one ends up moving and manoeuvring many commercial small stores selling all sorts of things, souvenirs, dresses, T-shirts, toys and handicrafts. The passage way leads to a pond where many tortoises were kept.
The Kek Lok Si temple premise is set amidst the backdrop of hillside view and the city view. The temple first opened for public in 1905.We were amazed to see the giant statue of The Kuan Yin- the Goddess of mercy, which is a 30.2 m bronze statue. 

Kuan-Yin in Kek Lok Si temple

The temple is a major tourist hub and spread across consisting of many shrines and pavilions.
The temple is first approached by the three-tier pagoda at the ground level and then towards middle layer of main prayer hall, in between we also passed the Laughing Buddha, and horse headed shrine of Kuan Yin.
After taking another turn we went to the area towards Grand hall, but our eyes were set on the pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas.

The pagoda is differentiated into three tier and each tier is defined differently namely – Chinese, Thai and Burmese architecture. The crown of pagoda is called Chedi. In total there are 10,000 Buddhas and we climbed each level up to the top. The view from top was splendid, we can view the city, the entire Kek Lok Si temple complex and all the greenery scattered over hill top.

We came down and made our way to the Grand hall. There we also came across Buddha statues in Grand hall and where we lighted a candle and sat there for a while absorbing the tranquility of the atmosphere.

We took the inclined lift to reach the main prayer hall, where there is a zodiac garden and a place for prayer set amidst a beautiful pond and a miniature waterfall .

We did our prayers here and lighted some incense sticks as well. The prayer ribbons were also very vibrant and colourful.
We spend last leg of our visit in Kuan Yin pavilion, admiring the giant Statue. This remained one of our best memories of Penang. No visit in Penang is complete, if you haven’t been to Kek Lok Si temple.

Gurney Drive

After a day visiting temples and much like an inner spiritual journey, we decided to explore some shopping options next day. When you are in Malaysia, and if you haven’t done any shopping in big shopping malls, then something you are missing out. We went to Gurney drive where the Gurney drive plaza and Gurney Paragon are famous shopping malls.

Queensbay Mall

They have a good range of stores from designer brands to local stores selling lots of things. I don’t have to write about those famous international brands, if you think about them they all have stores over here. And then there are people shopping and doing more shopping, some even lost in the mall, what to buy and why we are here- ‘ like us ‘.

Queensbay Mall

Anyways, we went to the food court and tried the famous Penang Char Koey Teow and

Nasi kandar ayam.

Food was absolutely delicious, what is not to like in Penang cuisine.
The food-joint owner even posed for my camera-how gracious of her.

She even called me back to show me Char Mee.

While we went to the top floor, we saw an exhibition of Penang lifestyle, back in 70’s.

After all those shopping and temple visits, we finally decided to relax in a beach. The last day was a refreshing change for us with a beach day.

A question one always seeks out is, what does the mind wants. Sometimes it’s as simple as to listen to the waves and feel the cool breeze over face. And a serene feeling when you walk on the beach. Batu Ferringhi is the most famous beach in Penang.

The golden sands stretch as far as you can see. Although this has become a commercial hub recently with various water sports and activities- like parachuting, boating and biking but still if you can get a corner of peace somewhere, which I do hope you still can, the peace leaves you with harmonious sound of waves. Try to go early morning, the beach is rather not that occupied, but after lunch, the area is crowded with hordes of tourists. We had a lovely lunch in one of the eateries near the beach. The chicken curry and steamed rice was delicious. As we came to our last day in Penang, the beach day was fun and relaxing as well.

As Henry Davis Thoreau has said ‘Not until we are lost do we begin to understands ourselves.’ And Tolkien has also said something similar ‘Not all those who wander are lost.’ We were lost in Penang for couple of days- away from maddening rush of our daily lives  – exploring its natural beauty, landscape, culture and people. But when we arrived back in Kuala Lumpur, our vision and perception about the place has changed, perhaps we found something even though we were lost there. And this is what Travel does to you.
Penang has left us craving for more, next time if we visit again, we have plenty of other things to do and see. For the time being, we are calling it a day and taking out our traveller’s boots.

You all have a relaxing weekend.