Monday, December 31, 2012

Chocolate Kaju Barfi

Another year is soon going to end, just few more hours left, and at this cross junction, with mixed bag of emotions, some good and some bad- well yes without emotions , human is a machine- what else. I can only wish and pray that may this New Year brings loads of happiness, peace and well being to all of you.
I happened to make these Chocolate Kaju Katli or Barfi during Christmas, and I was about to publish it last week itself, but felt otherwise. As I was quite shaken with whatever was happening around us in last couple of weeks.

Anyhow with this New Year – all I can wish and pray that our children should go on flying high, uninterrupted with wings of ambition and wishes. May God fulfill all their dreams….
My dear daughter like all other kids out there likes chocolate. So, I happened to tweak the traditional kaju katli recipe a little bit and incorporated chocolate flavor – Two layers of katlis- one plain kaju katli and the other one chocolate kaju katli were added to form a nice textured barfi.
Believe me, the amount of work that goes in stirring while making kaju katli, it all makes up for when you see the contented, smiling faces at the eating table.
While I am not specific of any measurements as the parameters of sweetness is different for everyone. This is how I made it; please adjust the amount according to your taste-buds. One thing a must for katli/barfi – is that we should make thick sugar syrup – multiple strands sugar syrup as we need to bind the grounded cashews well. Add in ghee as it enhances the flavor and leaves a nice aroma, moreover it will prevent the damp dough going dry. But all said and done we need to be quick as the dough becomes hard quickly as sugar gets crystallized when made into multiple strands.

Now to the recipe

Chocolate Cashew Barfi
Recipe requirements (measurements are approx)
Makes- small 20-22 barfi
  • 2-3 cups of grounded cashews
  • 2-3 tbs of premium chocolate powder
  • 1 or 1 and half cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • Few saffron strands
  • 2-3 tbs of ghee

  • In a heavy duty grinder – grind toasted cashews and make a smooth powder.
  • Divide this powder into two portions. With one portion mix in chocolate powder and reserve the other portion in a separate bowl.
  • Now to the making of sugar syrup.
  • Dissolve sugar in water and keep on boiling for about 10-15 mints. Add in saffron strands.
  • We will make thick sugar syrup for kaju barfi/katlis.So, when press in between tip of fingers multiple strands can be seen.
  • Now divide this sugar syrup into two portions – one for the plain kaju katli and other one for chocolate katli.
  • Mix in the grounded cashew and chocolate cashew powder with the sugar syrup and keep on stirring till it forms a semi dry mixture. Add in ghee also; take it off from the heat. Let it cool off a little bit and then knead gently with clean hands to make damp dough.
  • Now quickly roll both the dough into large rounds. Now lift the chocolate round and place it on the normal cashew round ones.

  • Press it gently and cut into diamond shapes with a sharp knife. Store in air tight containers. These barfi stays fresh for 4-5 days in normal room temperature.

Here are some of the recipes- Kind of recap for 2012.Although like every year I should have done a full detailed post with links to each recipes-I will leave it for some other day.

There are still many other recipes which haven't got mentioned here , but were equally delicious and relished by us.Hope to catch up some breathe after this.

See you all in a brand new year.....Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cheesecake Recipe - A Healthy way and Merry Christmas

As promised here I am with a baked goodies recipe, a cheesecake recipe for this Christmas season. I always try to tweak little bit traditional recipes to adjust our own taste-buds, if it involves cooking some high-calorie recipes. However in contrast, many puritans like my Ma abide by the rules of making any recipe, that may include cheesecake recipes as well,if she wish to make it someday.
Anyhow what should matter is the outcome of the recipe weather it was edible or not, and rest is well sorted out then.Actually this healthy version of traditional cheesecake recipe, got mentioned here as our dear daughter has asked me to make it again and when I assemble this cheesecake, she also wants to help me out.With schools closed for this holiday season, we need more these easy recipes to channelize their energy.

Chocolate lemon cheesecake, now who doesn’t like cheesecakes, everybody does. It’s the urge to have that delicious bite of cheesecake which makes me go round and round the desert aisle of super-markets. Many times I do pick them up and then again, put it back to the shelf reading the food label and the calories that comes with it. No, I am against crash –dieting and in fact dieting as such, a practice I am totally against of. I believe and have seen that the impact of crash-dieting is worse. Eat all, but in moderation, and in many servings or portions that is divided along the entire day. And which should have a healthy addition of some sweetness as well.
Actually when it comes to reading the food label, it has been my curiosity forever, what goes into the making of the food or the method it followed weather it’s baked or fried etc. So, as a practice I always read the food label, if I do happen to pick any ready-made desert or chocolates from supermarkets. So many times even if the green sign is there- indicating suitable for vegetarian, it does have pasteurized free-range egg/egg yolk/whites or related things. This I have understood that may be this is due to the cultural ideology differences, as we don’t count egg to be vegetarian, but here people don’t consider egg to be non-vegetarian. That’s another topic; we will have a discussion some other day, today we will try to make a healthy alternative to high-calorie cheesecake recipe and that too eggless.
Coming to various cheesecakes, there are chocolate cheesecakes, then strawberry cheesecake and what not, with so many choices, one tends to get confused. But when it comes to making that famous cheesecake in comfort of my home, I always tweak in the content for the filling and the base. After all home-cooking is what one should prefer to eat, and ones own preference for ingredients.

Traditional cheesecakes as we all know are high calorie deserts. As its Christmas season, everybody likes having baked goodies as sweet treats and I am not an exception. Although I have tried to cut back some calories in traditional cheesecake recipe. This recipe is adapted version that I happened to read many eons ago in a cookbook by American Heart association. If you can have a look, then perhaps you may find some copies in Amazon. That book had many other tweaked recipes with healthy alternatives for many high-calorie recipes.Over a period of time, I have tweaked , reduced the content for filling and the base as well.
I made it ,but with what-ever was available in my pantry. More it ended like a chocolate cheesecake recipe as I had put generous amount of chocolate shavings as topping.
Few months back made honey lemon cheesecake as well with the same recipe but instead of chocolate as topping, I happened to drizzle, honey generously over the cheesecake and decorated with lemon julienne  Here is a slice of that cheesecake.Will post the detailed recipe some -other day-

Now coming to the recipe for the day,when I checked my pantry, I had whole-meal bread, quick Scottish oats and some tea-time Marie biscuits which formed the base of this cheesecake, a great healthy alternative to shortbread or butter biscuits.
Then when it came to the filling, I had about ¾ tubs of 300 g of low-fat soft cheese from Kraft. And had some plain set yogurt. Again I reduced the soft cheese content, and mixed in with some yogurt with icing sugar which formed the filling, and rest of the sweetness came from honey not from sugar.
When the cheesecake was setting in the refrigerator, I had no idea how it was going to taste as with so many healthy alternatives, it was heading for a totally new recipe, don’t even know if I can call this cheesecake recipe anymore.
Here is how I did make it-the famous cheesecake.
To the recipe now

Cheesecake Recipe 
Recipe requirements(measurements are approx) 

  • 200 gms of low fat soft cheese 
  • 2-4 tbs of honey
  • 300 gms of yogurt
  • 3 tbs of icing sugar
  • 50 g fresh whole meal bread crumbs or 2 whole meal bread well toasted
  • 25 g of rolled oats or quick oats or about 1 cup of  Oats Granola Cereal)
  • 6-7 marie tea-time biscuits
  • 25 g of butter
  • 25 g of almonds or 6-7 almonds
  • lemon juice from a half lemon
  • chocolate squares for decorations 


  • For the base
  • Toast fresh whole meal bread very well and then grind them in mixer to get fresh whole meal bread crumbs.
  • Now make a uniform crumble mixture in grinder/mixer with well toasted whole meal bread , quick oats- (for the better option use some cereal oats as they are well toasted.There is this home-made cereal recipe which I had used in place of quick oats this time- here), Marie tea time biscuits and almonds.
  • TIP- Sometimes I do add in flax seed crushed or many times in powdered form.
  • Rub butter evenly over this mixture- it will become a crumbly mixture now- more like a damp dough.Or melt butter and mix in butter when grinding the base mixture in mixer/grinder.
  • Prepare a small sandwich tin , spray some cooking oil, now put this crumble mixture over it.With the help of your clean hands, pat and press them evenly all over , so that the crumble mixture becomes a firm base.
  • Preheat an oven at 175 deg C.Bake this base for the cheesecake, for about 15-20 mints or till the entire base is set properly. Since we want to make low-calorie desert, whole meal bread, oats and digestive biscuits are great alternative to traditional cheesecake base.Take out after 15 mints, let it cool off completely.
  • Chill and refrigerate for about 4-5 hrs or the base is set hard.
  • For the filling
  • After many attempts, I do use low-fat soft cheese by Kraft with plain yogurt mixed in. Many times Mascarpone cheese is used for the filling as this gives the richness to the cheesecakes.
  • Make a smooth paste- of low-fat cheese, yogurt, and lemon juice. Add in honey to adjust the sweetness and  icing sugar if you wish to add in. Tip- yogurt further reduces the calorie content of low-fat soft cheese, but then if you are more keen in putting up the entire tub of low-fat cheese, then don’t hesitate as cheesecake without cheese is something unimaginable.
  • Scoop the filling out over the baked base and spread it evenly. Then chill and refrigerate overnight.
  • Other day drizzle some honey and decorate with lemon julienne or with generous amount of chocolate shavings..

This recipe is a low-calorie take on traditional lemon cheesecake. If you want to make little bit rich cheesecake then stick to full fat soft cheese or Mascarpone cheese  for the filling and high quality shortbread /butter biscuits for the base.
And for more top tiers , double the measurements for the filling ingredients.

Leaving you with some pictures of festive season. 

First a corner of our house with bokeh effect, coming from the lights of Christmas tree. 

And another one, glowing in dark, making us all believe  and cherish....

And a Christmas reef our dear daughter made this year ...

Then some decorations on Christmas tree.Last year we made this Christmas cake- Here

Although past couple of weeks, there have been many shocking incidents happening in the world, which have shaken my faith in humanity, but still I want to believe in, as if trying to cling on to a thin thread. So, when we will celebrate Christmas and new year this time, lets not forget those families who have lost their tender , loved ones and the innocent ones whose life changed in just, one horrific night, possibly with deep permanent emotional scars lingering throughout their life. It won’t be easy for them to be able to live life, as they would have normally used to do earlier.

But despite all this, I still want to believe, believe in humanity. As Christmas and all festive celebrations-Eid, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Holi, Deepawali and Durga Puja, are all about believing and faith in humanity is part of that belief!

I believe, that there is one supreme power up there, who is guiding and watching all of us and taking care of us in every moment of our life.Amen!!

Wish you all a very happy Christmas, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Soya Nugget Red Bell Pepper Raisin pulao with Soya Methi Sweet Corn Sabzi/curry

Past couple of days, are cold here, well what can you expect in winter other than cold days, perhaps some snow, we are not that privileged group of people yet, while it snowed in many parts of London and in UK, we are still waiting.
This soya nugget pulao cooked with Red Bell pepper, Sweet corn, raisin and a side-dish of soya nuggets methi sweet corn sabzi can be enjoyed anticipating some snow and if you are tired of Christmas shopping and want to deviate doing something else, then perhaps you can give it a try someday. This Pulao is very delicately flavored, a mild one-in fact the spices that goes in it, are obviously the daily spices that you all add in making everyday cooking. Mix and Match the vegetables to develop new recipe and can include sausages in place of soya nuggets to make non-veggie pulao as well. Now I would really  like to know how it goes if you add sausages or in fact meatballs in pulao. Couple of months back I did made a pulao with left-over chicken kabab or roast chicken pieces -Here and the outcome was very surprising as it all blended so well.Oh! But this post is a vegetarian affair and let it remain that way; let’s not complicate the topic here.
Actually for making pulao, I do feel there are no set rules, although stove –top method works best, but then sometimes I do bake it in oven, all wrapped with aluminum foil. 

This recipe is about stove-top method of making pulao. Over these years I have realized that many times the rice that goes into making pulao or even biryani do make some difference. Many times the temperature the rice is cooked, how much water is added and the duration of cooking. But please don’t ask me to be specific, as I do things mostly by my instinct here in my kitchen. So I really don’t like to get into technical details much, well I am not a technical person either.
If you need any more clarifications, do ask in comment section, I will try to answer as per my skill level and to be honest I am not an expert, just learning, all these and many more other things day by day. Well that includes, knowing about Snow-Leopard and Clouded Leopard, and that Romans also ruled in many parts of Britain many centuries ago, and that Cleopatra liked wearing red lipstick which were extracted from bugs and red ants!!, this courtesy my daughter.
In a nutshell the recipe has been written for you with a picture to validate that it has been made in my kitchen.

Now to the recipe part

                        (Soya nugget bell pepper raisin pulao/ rice pilaf and soya methi sweet corn rasa sabzi/curry)

Soya Nugget Methi/fenugreek Sweet Corn sabzi/curry
Recipe requirements(serves- 3-4 )
  • About a large cup of cooked soya nuggets
  •  1 bunch methi/fresh fenugreek leaves
  • 1-2 cups of sweet corn 
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 2-3 large garlic
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger
  • ½ tomato
  • Seasonings and phoron/tempering/
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 tej patta or bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 2 tsp of coriander powder
  • ¾ tsp of turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder
  • ¼ tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 4-5 heaped tbs of cooking oil
  • 2-3 tbs of cream
  • 4-5 heaped tbs of cooking oil

  • Wash methi/fenugreek bunch and separate leaves from shoots. Blanch them for couple of mints, till they shrink and release water.
  • Cook soya nuggets according to package directions. Or you may put soya nuggets in microwave safe bowl with enough water, and microwave it for 2 mints. Leave aside for 10-15 mints they will turn out soft.
  • Now chop onions, garlic and grate ginger. Chop tomato as well.
  • If you are using frozen sweet corn, then put them with ample water and microwave it at high for 2-3 mints or till they turn out soft.
  • Now to the making of soya nuggets methi sweet corn curry
  • Heat up a saucepan/Kadai, add in cooking oil, add in cumin seeds, tej patta.Let it crackle a little bit after 1 mint.Add in finely chopped onions/ginger/garlic. Fry them for 3-4 mints at med-high or till they turn nice brown.
  • Now add in dry masala- turmeric, red pepper, coriander, salt, sugar, and cinnamon and cardamom powder. Add in about quarter cup of water. Add in chopped tomato. Keep on stir/fry for about 6-8 mints or till the oil starts to come by sides.
  • Now add in cooked soya nuggets, sweet corn and blanched methi leaves. Add the water which comes after blanching methi to the above. Taste and adjust everything.
  • Keep the lid on, cover and let it simmer at medium flame for about 10-15 mints and if required then add in 1/2 cup of warm water if the curry tends to become dry, although tomato will be adding it's share to the gravy as well.
  • Add cream at the end and mix well. Sometimes I also add 1 tsp of ghee at the end of making this sabzi/curry. Reserve little bit of cream to decorate later on.

Soya nuggets Red Bell Pepper and Raisin Pulao/Pilaf
Recipe requirements(serves 3-4)
  • 1 large cup of basmati rice/jasmine rice/sona masoori/gobindo bhog
  • 1 large cup of cooked soya nuggets
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 cup of cooked sweet corn
  • 1 cup of raisin
  • ½ cup of yogurt
  • Seasoning
  • ½ tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder
  • 2-3 tej patta
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • Few strands of mace
  • 3-4 tbs of cooking oil

  • Wash the rice and soak it for 10-15 mints while you chop red bell pepper and cook soya nuggets and sweet corn in microwave.
  • Heat up a saucepan; add in tej patta, cloves, cardamom and mace.Fry about 2 mints.
  • Then add in chopped red bell pepper, soya nuggets, raisins and sweet corn. Keep on stir/fry them for 3-4 mints.
  • Now add in rice and add in dry ingredients-red pepper powder, cardamom powder, salt and sugar.
  • Now add in yogurt. Mix well - do not stir vigoursly otherwise the rice grains will tend to break.
  • Add in 2 cups of water to the above. Or check this pulao post for detailed method of baking in oven , but the recipe is with yakhni and is a Chicken Yakhni Pulao - Here.
  • Cover it and let it cook at medium flame. When the water is absorbed; shift the saucepan covered and let it cool on dining table.Squeeze in 1/2 tsp of lemon juice and add in a dab of butter at the end.Cover` it.

Have and serve soya nuggets pulao with soya methi.sweet corn sabzi/curry.

Happy Cooking Friends and have lovely weekdays........

Monday, December 3, 2012

Phulkopir Data and Runner Beans Charchari

December starts with a bang and before we will realize a new year will usher in. All shops, shopping malls are well decorated and people are getting busy Christmas shopping, even gifting each other. Some even decorating their home with Christmas tree. We still haven’t decided when we will be putting up our Christmas tree compared to that, many already are giving finishing touch to their home and tree decorations. I  do like the festive season and the spirit with which it brings, but it always makes me little afraid of shopping  particularly in shopping malls , over crowded and long queue to toilets, makes it even more cranky expedition.

This weekend we were out in Oxford streets (actually most of the weekend we just love to hang out there for some time) and what rush and maddening crowd there. That sums up my assumption of Christmas shopping. And at night time when we were walking around in the street ,it all started to lit up with glowing, glittering lights and Christmas characters, that reminded us of Durga Puja Pandal decorations and huge portraits of light glowing God and Goddess.But next week, to avoid this maddening rush we would stay in home, have a cup of hot tea in comfy of our home and then probably watch a movie.
And then on Sunday will try to cook a full course Bengali meal as always.This Bengali charchari recipe was long due, just that it slipped away from my mind. I really doubt that it will suit the festive spirit as per cooking is concerned, as you all will be expecting cakes, biscuits, tarts, muffin recipes from me, little deviating from the festive spirit here..But whatever you cook, and where ever you eat that, it’s the people and their good intention, pleasant interaction, makes it worthy of memories.

I will try to do baking recipes when it will be Christmas Eve, for the time being let’s feed our souls and body with some vegetables and this Charchari recipe is one such great way of incorporating nutritional value to our food. I had some tender cauliflower stalks very fresh and green, just couldn’t throw in bin this time, and then freshest of runner beans, and a full bag of carrots, my folks are not much eager to eat gajar ka halva, so that needed to be used also and with all those fresh vegetables - a Charchari recipe was made in jiffy.

Now to the recipe

Phulkopir danta(cauliflower stalks) and Runner beans'er Niramish Charchari
Recipe requirements(serves-3-4)
  • Tender stalks of cauliflower/phulkopir danta
  • 1 Carrot
  • 3-4 Runner beans
  • Small red radish about 1-2 cups chopped or half large muli/white radish
  • 1 medium size potato
  • Seasoning and for phoron
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 2 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of panch phoron
  • 2 tej patta
  • 2 dry red pepper
  • 3-4 tbs of mustard oil
  • ¾ tsp of salt
  • Two pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp of ghee

  • Clean, wash and chop all vegetables in equal size of about 1 to 2 inch in length.
  • Now heat up a saucepan/kadai.Add in mustard oil, now temper/phoron it with panch phoron, tej patta and red dry pepper.
  • When the panch phoron starts spluttering, add in all the chopped vegetables- cauliflower stalks, carrots, radish, potato.Keep on stir/fry for 4-5 mints at medium high flame.
  • Now add in all the seasonings- turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder, salt and sugar.Coat the seasonings well all over the fried vegetables.
  • Add in about half a cup of water and cover the saucepan with lid. Let it cook for 7-10 mints at medium flame or till the potatoes are cooked well and you can mix and mash the vegetables easily.
  • At the end add in ghee. Enjoy it with warm cooked rice or Roti/ruti/phulka.
  • Many other vegetables like-Snow peas, Baby corn, Brinjal, Butter-nut squash, can also be added to this Charchari recipe.
  • Add in fried Fish head and fish bones to make it Amish Charchari.

Happy Cooking a have lovely week days ahead...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rui Mach'er Kalia- Another Spicy Rui Fish Curry

We do get frozen whole Rui Fish here from Bangladeshi food stores but many times the incidents that were associated with fish buying in India is missing. Actually I do really miss the whole process of buying fish from local fish markets in Kolkata. Even bargaining with them and then checking on various parameters for freshness of the fish body. I mean the whole chaotic process of buying fresh fish from fish vendors in India.
In UP, where I have spent my entire life except after marriage, our grandparents had fixed “machwali”, who would turn up every alternate day in the morning with her fresh supply of fish, which she and her husband would be catching up daily, in early wee morning hours, from river Ganges. Our grandparents were so accustomed of her presence that if she would not turn up any day, they seemed to get worried for her a lot. We even used to pass on our old clothes, books and many other gifts to her kids. Over a period of time, these and many more such people had become part of our more or less, family. Recalling back, her typical fish smelling body, was enticed even more with her betel leaves/ pan-chewing habit or rather the “Gutkas”, but I as a kid , would never liked that and it used to put me off always .

When-ever, she would try to get friendly with me, her betel stained teeth created a long barricade. She would grin occasionally and seeing that I would run away, and she would always burst into laughter. But every holiday time, she would anticipate our presence and would get excited and happy to see us.
I was even skeptical of eating the fish she would be selling to us. After much persuasion by my grandparents, I would eat the fish made that day. 
But my Ma is an excellent cook, so whenever she would be making this Rui -Kalia recipe, which she herself mastered cooking over these years after her marriage to Baba, the entire home would get filled with the smell of “koshano moshla”.That heavenly feeling, aroma coming out from kitchen and cooking with the fresh catch for the day, whether it’s “Rui” or “Katla” was much appreciated, eaten and cherished by our family. 
Trying to re-create that old recipe with frozen Rui fish and with limited means, is like asking for “jeera - unth ke muh mein.” Anyways (I am not camel) and jokes apart, cumin powder is essential, so is coriander powder and if possible freshly churned spices or paste made over sheel-nora is the key to fragrant and scrumptious Rui Mach’er Kalia.

Now to the recipe
Rui Mach'er Kalia-(A Spicy, gravy based preparation of Rui /Rohu Fish) 
Recipe requirements( serves 3-4 )
  • 5-6 Rui/Rohu fish pieces
  • 2 medium size onions
  • 5 large grated garlic
  • 4 tsp of grated ginger
  • 2 medium size tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of peanuts or cashews
  • Seasoning and tempering/phoron
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • 3-4 tej patta
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder and little bit more to marinate fish pieces
  • 2 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 2 green chilies (adjust hotness according to personal taste)
  • 2 -3 heaped tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of salt and little bit more to marinate fish pieces
  • 1 tsp of freshly churned garam masala
  • ½ cup of mustard oil
  • Two pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup of finely chopped coriander

  • De-scale fish pieces( no need to do if you are based in India, you already do get de-scaled fish pieces from your fish mongers).Wash them very well in water and discard water , pat them dry if possible otherwise not compulsory. Sprinkle turmeric powder and salt, rub all it over the fish pieces, leave aside for half an hour.
  • Meanwhile fish is marinating, make a smooth paste of onions and cashews or peanuts (soak them in water for half an hour so that they go soft and easily can be made into paste with onions), then again make smooth puree of tomatoes separately. Peel and grate garlic and ginger.
  • Heat up a saucepan or Kadai /wok; add in mustard oil, fry fish pieces each side for 5-6 mints, till they turn nicely brown in color.
  • Now in that oil left after frying fish pieces, add in cumin seeds, tej patta, cloves, and crushed cardamom.
  • Add in grated garlic and ginger, fry it for 2-3 mints or till the rawness is gone.
  • Now add in onion paste, keep on frying for 3-4 mints. Add in all the dry ingredients- turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt and sugar. Add in tomato puree to this with ½ cup of water.Add in slit green chilies now.
  • Let it all cook and fry for 5-6 mints at medium-high flame or the entire masala becomes somewhat dry. When the oil start to appear at the sides of the fried masala or “rang dhorano koshanor por “ in Bengali  , about after 10-12 mints, then add in 2 cups of water. Let the gravy come to one strong boil.
  • Add in fried fish pieces and garam masala.Cover the saucepan and let it simmer for 10 -15 mints at medium-low flame. Add in mustard oil at last when the entire gravy turns somewhat deep in colour and semi-dry, “makha-makha” in Bengali. Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves.

Note- Salmon, pomfret, bhetki,Carp, sea bass all the firm fish can be replaced with Rui/Rohu fish.Many times I tend to add small cherry tomatoes in place of plum tomatoes. And make this fish curry in mustard oil for that authentic Bengali touch.

Happy Cooking and Have nice weekend Everybody!

Monday, November 26, 2012

M'ete'er Amish Khichuri- Lamb Kaleji/Liver Khichari

We anticipate each weekend so to unwind our self little bit during that period; And who does not, right? So, many plans are chalked out for the outings, get together etc, which we will be perhaps doing during a particular weekend. And then when finally you reach that end, everything goes kaput with severe weather conditions and rain lashing all over,disappointment strikes hard. This weekend it was rainy, cold and gray most of the time and coming to think of it, it doesn't put a nice picture unless one is tuned to the weather, which over a period of time we do have become, but a warm sunny day is far better than gray,cold and rainy day.”Rain –Rain go away, come another day” is all that is now playing in my mind.

Anyhow whenever gray weather retorts to our vicinity, we like to make warm and comforting one pot meals to slightly jazz up our rather mundane day. And this maete’r Amish khichuri- liver khichari  was perfect way to warm up our rather cold,rainy and gray afternoon that day.

Lamb liver or chicken liver or mutton liver is one nice addition in this khichuri recipe and also is a great source of iron . Although we know khichuri ranna is a "niramish" affair, but whenever we tend to add onions and garlic the equation do get changed. And even more change is observed when one tends to make it with meat/mutton or chicken.

Lamb liver or mutton liver ,needs little extra time to cook as compared to chicken liver; whatever is available,it can be used in this recipe.Many a times I do like to add cooked chicken pieces as well. Now over these years I am little skeptical of eating lamb meat here in abroad, but someday will definitely try cooking "Amish khichuri" with lamb meat, for the time being its lamb liver khichuri or M’aete’r Amish khichuri for all of you.

M'eate ‘r Amish khichuri- Lamb Liver Khichuri 
Recipe requirements (Serves 3-4)

  • ¾ cup of mong dal
  • ¼ cup of rice
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cup of frozen green peas
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger
  • For seasoning and phoron/tempering
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 3 cloves
  • Few strands of mace
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 2 star anise
  • 2-3 tej patta or bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2-3 dry red pepper
  • 3-4 tbs of mustad oil
  • For the preparation of kaleji/m’aete/liver
  • About 200 Gms of kaleji/liver/m’aete-mutton or lamb or chicken liver whichever is available
  • 1 purple onion chopped finely
  • 2-3 garlics finely chopped
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • ¾ tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp of garam masala
  •  2 -3 tbs of Mustard oil
  •  2 tbs of ghee at the time of serving


  • Put a saucepan on medium heat, fry mong dal for 5-6 mints or till they turn golden to light brown in colour. Wash them well in water. Wash and soak the rice in water.
  • Add about 4-5 large cups of water in a big cooking pot/dekchi/handi/or big flat bottom saucepan. Add in bhaja mong dal. Let it come to a boil; discard the white froth forming now. Let it simmer at medium flame/gas/hob mark 6 or 7.Add in rice half way through. Personally I tend to add just after 5-6 mints mong dal is cooked.
  • Now add in turmeric powder, red pepper powder, salt and sugar. Let it cook at medium flame for 7- 8 mints.
  • Meanwhile we will prepare the lamb/mutton or chicken  kaleji/liver/m'aete.
  • Heat up a saucepan, add in mustard oil, and temper/phoron  it with chopped onions, ginger and garlic. Add in chopped tomato- add in turmeric powder, red pepper powder, cumin powder and coriander powder,cardamom powder, garam masala and salt.Add in liver pieces.
  • Let it cook covered for 7-8 mints or the liver has just turned soft, overcooking liver may turn it out rubbery, so check in between.
  • Now to temper/phoron the khichuri/khichdi.
  • In a heated saucepan, add in mustard oil, 1 tsp of cumin seeds,dry red pepper, tej patta, cloves, mace, cardamom,star anise and grated ginger. Fry them at medium-high flame for 3-4 mints. Now add in chopped tomato. Cook till tomatoes turn mash able and oil coming out by sides.
  • Add this tempering to the simmering pot of khichuri.Add in frozen green peas.
  • Cover it and let it cook further for 8-10 mints. Check if the dal-rice can be mashed well by taking few tsp of khichuri in a bowl. Stop the flame and let it remain covered. Adjust the seasoning by tasting, if required salt or sugar then add in now.
  • Now if you like little runny khichuri or with gravy,then you may like to add in lukewarm 1 or 2 cups of water also.
  • Many a times I do like to add in half cut potatoes in to the pot of simmering khichuri, this way they turn out soft and then take them out and mash it well with ghee and red chilly flakes or green chilies.This way, our side-dish is ready as well.
  • Add cooked m'aete/liver to the cooked khichuri and mix well. Keep it covered and let it simmer for 3-4 mints.Serve and enjoy.

Note-Vegetarians can use cauliflower and green peas or sweet corn.And many times I do tend to add in cooked chicken pieces as well.If you like lamb meat, then cooked lamb meat can also added in place of lamb liver or chicken liver pieces.

Happy Cooking 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chicken Chick Pea and Sweet Corn Pulao

The onset of autumn invokes a sudden gush of chill inside, kind of making you awake from your slumber and prepares you for the winter ahead. Couple of weeks ago, I took out our winter clothes. I had seen my parents how earnestly every autumn, they would take out all woolies, blankets and quilts/rajai/lep, from store room or attic and then they would sun-bathed them for the entire day out on the terrace of our home.
We would say that “ro-od poano” in Bengali and in the night we would then snuggle up, with the warmth of that sun-bathed quilt or blanket. Trying to relive those moments, I did put the winter coats and jackets on hangers and placed them on drying lines and put them near the balcony window of our apartment. Now as a small knit society building, we are not allowed to hang clothes outside in our balcony. But thankfully there are couple of windows in our apartment and the one giant balcony door from where sun-rays stream in, striking beautifully against the wooden floor. All this winter season provided if it's sunny and shiny,I have decided whenever I will see the opportunity to do this, will do it again.

Anyhow, and no matter how hard I try layering up myself with warm clothes and clinging on to the old monkey cap I have, whenever I see barren trees and branches, I start to feel the cold even more. Oh it’s the Bengali in side me who is afraid of winter nothing else!! Jokes apart but to be honest winter is the most glamorous season also. You know when you see a lady or a gentleman wearing classic coat with matching scarf and gloves, you know it will fathom a lot of attention. All eyes glued to it, gives you kind of a Casa Blanca moment, blown away. Anyhow glamorize or to de-glamorize yourself is a personal choice and one should always follow ones heart even if the outside world feels the other way, but at the same time maintaining a sense of decency.
Somebody told me couple of years ago “Cooking is also an art” just like dressing up oneself !! The way you choose the freshest of all ingredients, carefully chop and cut it, then stir/fry it at appropriate temperature and then choosing the cutlery to serve it...It all conjour upto the grand finale or the product that you are making or cooking for.”

And sometimes when you want to quickly finish doing your “piece of art” and also do not want to compromise on creating healthy meal, which should also satisfy the artist inside you, then one-pot meals are the best. Don’t know about you, but for an everyday cook like me “pieces of art” means edible food or a normal meal you can cook in comfy of your home with the freshest ingredients available in your panty. I wouldn’t say I don’t like to explore, making exotic cuisine but to me a one pot meal or a dal with warm cooked rice is far better than those exotic ingredients which creates a dish never heard of.
I have always liked one-pot meal , once made then served quickly and ready to be eaten, from saucepan direct to serving bowl or plate. This chicken, chick peas and sweet corn pulao is one such one-pot meal.
Now to the recipe

Chicken Chick peas and Sweet corn pulao
Recipe requirements( Serves 4-5 )
  • 1 and half cup of basmati rice/gobindo bhog chal/sona masoori
  •  2 cups of Roasted chicken breast or niblets pieces- Recipe here
  • 1 can of chick peas or 2 cups of pre-cooked chick peas
  • 1 cup of sweet corn
  • 1 medium size tomato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic
  • 1 tsp of ginger grated
  • For seasonings and tempering
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2-3 dry red pepper
  • 2 tej patta or bay leaf
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms whole
  • 2 star anise (optional)
  • 2-3 tbs of cooking oil/sada tel

  • Soak the rice in water for 10 mints then wash it properly with water about two to three times. Drain the excess water.
  • Chop tomato, onion, garlic and ginger. Pre- cook chick peas in pressure cooker for two whistles or you may use chick pea from cans. Put the sweet-corn kernels with enough water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at high for 2 mints or till they turn soft.
  • Now heat up a saucepan, add in cooking oil, add in dry red pepper and tej patta, cloves and cardamom and star anise.
  • Add in chopped onions, garlic and ginger.Fry till the rawness is gone about 4-5 mints at med-high flame.
  • Now add in chick peas, chicken roast pieces – (For the recipe of roast chicken, you can find details Heree ) and sweet corn. Add all the seasonings- red pepper powder, cardamom, cinnamon powder, salt and sugar.
  • Now add in tomato and keep on frying till tomatoes turn soft and pulpable.If required splash some water over it.
  • Now add in rice and coat well this mixture over rice. Do not stir/fry vigorously, use a gentle hand and try to stir just few times otherwise rice grains will tend to break.
  • When the rice grains become shiny and all the masala is coated well. Add in about 2 cups of water or put the level of water at least two fingers high above the rice mixture level.
  • Let it cook for about 10-12 mints or till the water is absorbed. When the rice has swelled up absorbing the flavor and water, switch off the gas/turn off the hob and transfer the saucepan to cool off. Let it sit there for half an hour and then open the saucepan lid. Sprinkle a tsp of lemon juice now and mix well.
  • Transfer this saucepan to the dinning table now. You can even make this pulao beforehand and reserve it to serve later on. Just reheat this in oven at 175 deg for 10 mints, covered or microwave it for 3-4 mints. I would suggest oven reheat method is better than microwave reheat method for pulao.
  • Any raita or a gravy based curry like Shahi Korma , makes it even more filling and great meal accompaniments.
Hope you all had a lovely Thanks Giving Day and today hopefully you all in US are gearing up for the "Black Friday".Enjoy this weekend...

And thank you all for being part of my small world and encouraging me to write more with your kind words here.

Happy Cooking 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pineapple Sandesh - Microwable Recipe

It looks like this week here it’s all about sugary things. First it was Jibe-Goja, then Balushahi and now these scrumptious pineapple sandesh.Anyhow festive season brings many excuses for the cravings that we have for sweet things, to me it adds up to the festive spirit.

Made some Pineapple sandesh on Diwali day and shared with a friend who stood beside me when I was sick. M stood beside me like a rock; I can reckon and hold on. Bless her. Don’t know what I would have done without her. And come to think of it, we were complete strangers couple of months ago.
Couple of days ago it was “Bhai phonta” or “Bhai Duj”.This year and like many years, I am far away from home and from my brother also. This festival or rather custom I would like to say, means nostalgia in sepia tune, no jokes apart but this makes me miss home even more. I start recalling all the wonderful childhood memories that I have grown up experiencing and sharing with him and my sister, kind of sudden chain reaction- one leads to another. Anyhow we brother and sisters caught on where we left last time and chatted lot , a lot on that day after many months. I think it’s the feeling which counts and even if you are separated miles away from each-other, well wishes stays forever. Any relationship needs three basic things- understanding, trust and friendship. You would say even brother-and sister relationship. I would say, yes even this relationship needs these three basic things.

Anyways how I wish I can make these pineapple sandesh for him someday. For the time being I am sure if you try making it for your loved ones, you know you have a keeper recipe and a recipe you can always depend on when everything else seems impossible to make. This recipe is as simple as that.

Pineapple Sandesh-Microwable Recipe
Recipe requirements
( Makes-small 8-12 Sandesh - measurements are approx)
  • 2 and half cups of paneer/chana
  • ¾ cup of sugar (or as per taste)
  • Few strands of kesar/saffron
  • 2 pineapple rings from the ready-made pineapple cans

  • To make paneer- boil 1 litre of  milk or more to get at least 2 cups of paneer/chena/cottage cheese.Add in lemon juice from one lemon and let it curdle. Drain the whey and put the paneer in a cotton tea towel or if you have muslin cloth. You may use your old but clean chiffon duppatta/chiffon cloth pieces  also (recycle and reuse).Tie it and hang it on a kitchen tap. Let it hang in for 3-4 hrs.After 3-4 hrs squeeze out excess whey if any.
  • Soak few strands of saffron in very little milk, just 2-3 tbs.
  • Now untie the cloth, take out the paneer crumble.in a big mixing bowl,add in sugar and saffron with milk and start kneading it with your clean hands. This kneading helps in mixing of sugar with paneer evenly.Knead paneer for 5-8 mints.Or you may grind sugar to get powdery sugar in a food processor or grinder for quick mixing with paneer.
  • Now put the kneaded paneer – we call this paneer “makha- sondesh” in Bengali in a microwave safe bowl.
  • Put this mixture to microwave for 30 sec on full power .Take it out and then stir and mix well. Again put this mixture to microwave for another 30 secs.Take out and stir. Repeat this again for 1 mint breaking it in between 30 secs.
  • Now squeeze the juice from the pineapple ring and mash it very well.Add this pineapple to the above mixture and mix well.
  • Again put this to microwave for 30 secs and take out, stir and put the last cycle to 30 secs.The paneer crumble will be little dry at this time. When pressed with a spoon, it will be give a nice layered texture.
  • (Many microwaves may take more time or may be even less time - Please refer your microwave manual for further assistance)
  • Take out and divide into equal portions and then roll into small balls, press gently and put them over muffin cases. Note- muffin cases tends to absorb the extra moisture, and due course of time the Sandesh tends to dry even more.
  • Decorate with pistachio  and pineapple pieces.

Those who like the flavor of pina colada or pineapple, you know you have got a keeper recipe.

This sandesh should be consumed within 2-3 days to retain the freshness. Once made put them in refrigerator. Paneer replacement can be ricotta cheese, not very authentic but if paneer is not available to you and you are leading a busy life-style, then ricotta cheese comes handy in making sandesh a Bengali sweet.

And some flowers to brighten your day ..have a lovely day Everybody....

What Sunshine is to Flowers, Smiles is to humanity.
These are but trifles,to be sure, but scattered along life's pathway,
The Good they do is inconceivable..
              -Joesph Addison ..

Happy Cooking 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Balushahi and Happy Diwali

Deepawali, a festival of light invokes many memories. Rangoli making, fireworks and bursting fire-crackers with siblings and neighborhood friends, and also helping Ma in some of her chores. And then doing the lakshmi puja with family.Although these days I generally do not like to burst crackers but my little one likes sparklers and fountains a lot, well so is every kid I guess.

Yesterday was choto deepawali as we would like to call in Bengali .Lighting 14 diyas is customary to remember 14 generations of one’s family, no I cant even recall the names of my forefathers beyond my dadubhai and his father. And so is eating 14 shak/green leafy vegetables. Now I really cant count 14 shak even , I pity myself sometimes, my count always stops at 9.But these days small ready-made packets of 14 shak is available in Kolkata. Many vegetable vendors do keep them. And also if you happen to tell them beforehand, they do keep them  for you even if you come to collect late in the evening .Life is easier now as we don’t have to go out hunting 14 shak in our para/neighborhood anymore. But hardly these days’ people eat shak so leave alone eating 14 shak all at one go.That's another story, and I leave it for some other day.

This year got some decorated diyas from Indian grocery store .Now, I was wondering to switch off the lights for half an hour so that the candles and diyas glow in dark eradicating all the darkness around us and inside us also. Let’s see how things turn out in the evening.

But since today is festival of light, it calls for another sweet recipe.

I have never imagined myself making balushahi/badusha some day. Ten years ago if anybody would have asked me about balushahi, I would have said go, get it from the sweet shop!! But living here in abroad has taught me many things; one is trying out innumerable times till you can make it perfect.
Although this is my first attempt of making balushahi and even I was pleasantly surprised that I could pull it off well. The first thing S asked me after coming from office, how you managed the shape of balushahi; it looks more or less the store-brought. Now my feeble memory says this does look like balushahi otherwise you know how husband can be, when they come home late from office and are in a maneuvering mood.

Here is how I made it, got the recipe from Here.

Recipe requirements (measurements are approx)
Makes 14-15 medium size balushahi

  • 250 Gms or roughly 2 and half cups of Maida/all purpose flour
  • 60 Gms of butter melted
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • ¼ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • For the sugar syrup
  • Sugar -2 cups
  • Water – 1cup

  • Sift the flour; add in baking powder and baking soda.
  • Now make a well in the flour mixture, add in melted butter .Rub the butter well with flour.
  • Add in yogurt, just mixing through, do not knead. Leave aside for 30 mints. Kneading the dough much results in gluten which we don’t want. Remember we are making pastry not bread.
  • After 30 mints, come back to the dough and gently mix in and form dough.
  • Meanwhile prepare the sugar syrup.
  • Add in water to sugar, and add in cardamom powder. Let it simmers.After the syrup is ready , take it off from the flame.Note- I would say prepare the sugar syrup when you are frying the balushahi so that balushahi can soak the sugar syrup when it's still warm, it will help to absorb syrup well.
  • Now divide the dough in equal balls. Make a dent in the middle and keep them aside for half an hour.do no worry about cracks, we do need it to absorb the sugar syrup.It would be better if you keep them for 1-2 hr and then deep fry them.
  • Now heat up frying pan, add in cooking oil. Deep fry balushahi  for 15 mints at medium –low flame or till they turn nice brown in colour. Do not hurry this frying process, we want to cook the inside portions also.
  • Take out and then dunk them in sugar syrup. Let it sit there for 7-8 mints or till the balushahi absorb the sugar syrup.Note- add in 4-5 drops of lemon juice to the sugar syrup.
  • Take out from the syrup and decorate as you wish.
  • Store them in air tight containers, stays fresh for 1 week in cold climate.
  • The Indian donut is ready to be relished.

Leaving with you some of the pictures clicked yesterday.We lighted 14 tealight candles on Choto Deepawali.

Somebody forwarded this message to me ..so sharing here ...

"As the candle light flame,
Your life may always be happiness's claim....

As the mountain high,
You move without sigh...
Like the white linen flair........
Purity is always an affair;

As sunshine creates morning glory ,
Fragrance fills years with flurry..

With the immaculate eternal smile,
attached to you mile after mile;

All the darkness is far away,
as the light is on it's way.............

Wish you all a very very happy and safe Deepawali.... Shubho Deepawali  everybody.........