Lal Mishti Doi

12:55 PM

My mother and mother in law are arriving tomorrow morning. I cooked some dishes beforehand today to save the time tomorrow. But whenever it’s my in laws and deserts am in a big dilemma. They don’t like sweets and for us no meal is complete without some sweet servings…be it chatney, mishti (sweets), payes (rice pudding/ kheer) or Doi (yogurt), we atleast need something. After much thought I decided on this baked lal mishti Doi that is Kolkata style red sweetened yogurt… easy to make, good for health and tastes heavenly.

I believe no account of our famous Bengali sweets is complete without a eulogy to its quintessential Lal Doi. Even one of my Customer’s husband used to enquire about where he could get some good mishti Doi in Bangalore to which I had no answer. I have tried several shops in Bangalore for a bowl full of this divine yogurt but none could match a fraction of its blissful taste from Bengal. In Bengal we generally never try to make them at home as almost each and every mishti’r Dokan (sweet shop) sells these in small-unglazed earthen pots. But what to do when you are desperate and away. So this desperate housewife this time tried her hand to make her own version of Lal Doi. This has come out so well that I had to lock my fridge tonight and now am thinking where to hide the keys away from my husband.

Baked Lal Mishti Doi

1/2 liter full cream milk

1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk, I used Milkmaid
1 small cup sugar
½-liter Yogurt.(preferably thick like Nestle)

First you can choose either to use canned yogurt like Nestle or can make your own at home. I used another 1/2-liter packet of full cream milk to make the yogurt at home.

Beat the yogurt till smooth. Keep it aside.
Boil the milk till it thickens a little bit. Mix in the milkmaid and 2/3 cup sugar. Let it boil on low heat.

In a heavy bottomed pan take the remaining 1/3-cup sugar and caramelize it. When the colour turns deep golden brown mix two big ladle full of boiling milk to it. Stir vigorously to avoid forming of any lump. Mix this to the milk mixture. Let it cool.

Mix the yogurt and the milk mixture together. Take them in an ovenproof dish and cover with aluminium foil.

Pre heat the oven and bake the mixture at the min temperature (100-120C) for about 1 hour or till its set. Let it sit in the oven whole night. In morning take it out and refrigerate.


Gujia or Paraki to Enjoy Holi.

8:11 AM

Added as on 09.082012

Wish you all a colourful and happy Holi!

As usual am missing my home in Santinikeatn where this festival is celebrated to welcome the season spring with songs and Dance of Tagore. We call it Basanta Utsav or Spring Festival. The function starts early in the morning with a procession dance with boys and girls wearing yellow dresses and flower ornaments and after the Function everyone celebrate the colours of spring with Abir/gulal.

Meat n Poultry

Celebrating women’s day with Kolhapuri Mutton.

3:25 AM

[I drafted this on woman’s day afternoon but as we had friends kept pouring in from morning to evening, didn’t get any time to post. So here I am wishing you all a very Happy Woman’s day!!! Hope if for nothing else your husband has pampered you at least because it fell on a Sunday :-)]

Its not that I am very fond of these special days. I always found it more market driven than actually doing something to the cause. But this year I really feel like going out and wish every Woman a very happy Woman’s day. I know some of you might point that being at my position having all the education I wished for or choosing the occupation I dreamed of empowers me to celebrate this day and write a cheerful piece of how lovely it feels to be a women. You might say there are plenty of women in India and all over the world who everyday curse God for making them women, there are women who struggle everyday just to live a decent life...I know it all, but this year am trying to find if there actually is any difference between us, the so called educated, empowered women and those living a deprived life in rural or urban India.

I know a person who after 8 years of courtship got married and emotionally gets tortured by her in laws almost everyday. Her husband is holding an important managerial position with an MNC but at home is a silent viewer. The girl herself is well educated and belongs to a well to do family. But she still cannot walk out of the marriage

My 18 years old maid left education 4 years back, because they are 4 sisters and her father cannot afford her education. She works at my place and spends all her earnings on quite expensive cosmetics and dresses. When I offered her to buy books so that she could read in her spare times she out rightly ignored that saying she would prefer to get married as soon as possible.

One of my female Karigar has been thrown out from her house just because her first-born was a girl.

Think of the seven attacks against educated women in the city of Bangalore and Mangalore in the name of morality, culture and “public decency– during the attacks, the girls were insulted for wearing jeans, sleeveless shirts and speaking English.

And there is this gang of girls in the commercial ads, who after using whitening cream feels confident…
Or the girls in the movie ‘Monalisa smiles’ who were educated for the ‘roles they were born to fill’…

Who you think is the face of modern Woman???

I don’t know the answer. But what I see around me or read in paper makes me believe that women in general don’t have the freedom of choice. Though all over the world the development strategists are targeting women to achieve a healthy, educated society and sustainable development but still we are marginalized and as Shobha De has rightly pointed out ‘unlike other minorities there is nobody to represent this target group’.

But after all these discussions just give this minority group a bit of love and show them you care… they will forget and forgive everything. I remember Mariam from ‘A thousand splendid suns’ who never had her right as daughter. Was married to a man double her age. Was beaten everyday in her life for not bearing his child and finally was killed by the Taliban just because she wanted to fight back her husband who had intended to kill them…but still before her death she was in peace, ‘as she has loved more deeply than she had imagined, and most surprising to her, that love has been returned.’
That is the power of a woman. We find solace in giving…and are happy to get a fraction of that in return.

As for me, I thank God everyday for making me who I am…and on woman’s day inspite of being an eggitarian myself, I cooked Kolhapuri mutton to feed a group of bachelor friends of Hubby and was satisfied when they licked their finger after the meal.
Kolhapuri Mutton

1 kg mutton: cut in medium sized pieces. Wash and drain all the water.
8 small potatoes. Peeled and washed.
For the dry spices:
1-teaspoon coriander seeds

1-teaspoon cumin seeds
1-teaspoon poppy seeds
1-teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1-teaspoon toor daal
4 whole red chilies
8 cloves
2 cardamoms
1 stick cinnamon
A pinch of ground mace
1 small cup of grated coconut

For the wet spices:
3 big onions, chopped
1and ½ teaspoon ginger paste
2-teaspoon garlic paste
2 medium tomatoes, chopped

For tempering:
1 star anise
4 cloves
1 stick cinnamon

1-teaspoon turmeric powder
1-teaspoon chili powder
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Heat oil and fry the chopped onions till lightly brown in colour. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till the water dries. Cool and grind it to a paste.
Marinade the chicken with this paste, chili powder and salt and keep covered for 2 hours.

Make the dry masala. Heat a teaspoon of oil and fry all the dry ingredients till the aroma rises. Add the coconut at the end and fry till light brown. Grind it to a smooth powder and keep covered.

Prick the potatoes and fry them with salt and turmeric and keep aside.

Heat oil and put the tempering spices and sauté until they turn color and release aroma. Add the ginger garlic paste and cook till brown.

Add the marinated mutton, salt and turmeric powder. Mix everything well and let it cook. This stage in Bengali is known as ‘Kashano’ that means stirring, covering and again cooking till the aroma of the spices arise from the pan and the oil separates at the side. This is known to be the most important part of cooking mutton.

When oil separates at the side add the dry spice powder and give it a good stir.

Take the whole thing in a pressure cooker; add the potatoes and 2 cups of warm water. Mix well and check the seasoning.

Cook till the mutton is tender. I had to cook it for 4 whistles.

After opening the lid I cooked for another couple of minutes to make it semi dry.
Sprinkle chopped coriander on top.
Serve with steamed rice or roti.


10:30 AM

Paneer Bhapa (Steamed cottage cheese with Spices)

There are days when you don’t feel like cooking and even on husband’s insistence you don’t feel like ordering those cream laden North Indian restaurant food. On those days you look for recipes those are easy to make and give you a taste of home cooked food. One such recipe is my mother’s Paneer Bhapa, which is nothing but steamed cottage cheese in some spices. The ingredients are few and don’t ask to devote much preparation time, the only pre requisite is, you need fresh paneer.

Usually this dish is steamed but maa and me both do it in Kadhai. In Bengali houses almost all dishes were usually cooked in mustard oil but now people are becoming health conscious and switching to other healthier options. At my place I generally use Saffola oil but for Non Vegetarian items I prefer to mix mustard oil and saffola in half half ratio. But use pure mustard oil for recipes that are cooked with mustard paste. I believe that way the taste and aroma of the dish intensifies. So for this recipe also I will request you to use Mustard oil only, if not fully then at least mix it with your regular oil.

The trick to cook with mustard oil is to heat the oil till it starts to smoke. That way you can get rid of the raw mustard smell.

Paneer Bhapa
200 gms Paneer/ cottage cheese: cut in cubes; I used Amul Paneer.
1 teaspoon mustard paste

2-teaspoon poppy seed paste
3-teaspoon curd
3 green chilies: slited
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
A pinch of red chili powder for colour
4-teaspoon mustard oil
Salt to taste

Mix the mustard and poppy seed paste with 1/3 cup water and keep aside.

Beat the curd to smooth.

Heat the oil in a pan. When it starts to smoke add the green chilies. When it slightly changes colour add the masala paste, salt, chili and turmeric powder. Give it a good stir and cover for two minutes. Add the beaten curd and again mix well. Let it simmer for a minute and add the Paneer. Mix everything well so that the masala coats the paneer. Cover and let it cook till the gravy thickens. When the fat starts to separate at the sides stir it continuously and cook for another minute. The gravy would be thick and the oil will come out from the gravy.
Serve hot with steamed rice.
We had ours with rice and some cauliflower bhaji.

Paneer Bhapa with Sona Masuri Rice; our Dinner tonight.


11:17 AM

Enchor-er Tarkari (Raw Jackfruit Curry)

I like to cook with locally and seasonally available vegetables for which I prefer to visit the wholesale market near to our place. This market is known as Madiwala market and on weekends you will get very fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables at a cheaper rate. The kind of shopaholic I am any trip that include buying and bargaining attracts me. This Sunday I found this amazingly tender Raw Jackfruit there. Raw jackfruit or Enchor is a very famous and popular dish in Bengal. This is a summer delicacy as these are available only during February-March. After that the fruits start to ripen and we get a different variety of Delicious fruit called Kanthal (jackfruit). Kanthal has a very strong smell for which I believe this is something of an acquired taste whereas Enchor is more easily acceptable as a vegetable.

Kanthal is somewhat laxative, so have to be eaten in moderation. In our house a plate of Kanthal is always accompanied by a cup of milk, as it helps in digesting the kanthal. After eating Kanthal we don’t throw away the seeds, these also are used as vegetable, not in itself but with other vegetables like in chachori (vegetable medleys) or mixed vegetables etc. Even dry roasted and de-skinned seeds taste like nuts.

Enchor is quite a vegetarian delight as cooked with onion and garlic it almost taste like dry goat meat dish that is why this vegetable is also known as ‘Gaach Pantha’ or Tree Goat. During any summer party or get together Enchorer er Tarkari is a must have dish.

A fruit laden Jackfruit tree in the summer looks quite impressive. The tree itself is huge and the fruits are borne allover the tree from the trunk to the brunches. In Santiniketan we used the leaves, which are very thick and leathery in texture to make flower ornaments for our functions. For that we used to cut the leaves in different shapes and then stitched Tagar kuri (Frangipani buds), button flower and Rangan (Ixora flower) to make various pattern. I am attaching a cropped version of my old photograph just to give you some idea. Please don’t mind the low resolution.

Enough discussion about Enchor, now its time for the recipe.
Enchor-er Tarkari


One small Enchor: cut in small pieces
Cutting Enchor could be a pain. First you need to discard the skin and the inner spine and then cut them in chunks. Rub your knife and hands with some mustard oil to avoid the accumulation of its copious gummy latex.
2 medium potatoes: cut in cubes
1 big tomato

For the Masala:
1 big onion paste
1 and ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 and ½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
1 big bay leaf
1 piece cinnamon
1-teaspoon black pepper: coarsely ground
3 pieces cloves
Salt to taste
4-teaspoon oil

First boil the Enchor chunks in lightly salted water with ½ teaspoon turmeric until tender.

Heat 1-teaspoon oil in a kadhai and lightly fry the potatoes with salt till light brown in colour. Keep them aside.

Again heat 3-teaspoon oil and put the bay leaf, clove, Pepper and cinnamon. When they start to sputter add the onion paste, turmeric, salt and chili powder. Fry on a low heat. When the onion is half done add the ginger garlic paste and again fry on low flame till oil separates at the sides. Now put the chopped tomato, mix well and cover. After 5 minutes check if the tomato is cooked. Mix everything together with your spatula.

At this point add the boiled Enchor and potatoes. Give everything a good stir so that the veggies are coated with the fried spices. Cover and let it absorb the aroma for 2 minutes. Add hot water to it, check the seasoning, cover and let it cook till the Enchor is soft.

Once the water evaporates, sprinkle the garam masala powder and serve with steamed rice.


Calcutta Street Food 1: Phulkopi’r Singara (Cauliflower Samosa)

8:54 AM

I loved all the books of Jhumpa lahiri, especially the Namesake. I can very easily identify with the loneliness and longing for home of Ashima. Though am not as far like her but still I miss the warmth and friendliness of my neighbors, the loud adda (chat) from one window to the other and the familiar foods available in every lane in our town. Just like her I also sometimes try to recreate the taste and aroma of our very own street foods just to feel at home. But no matter how you try to recreate it, getting the same taste at home is never possible. You always miss on something. My father says it’s the dust on the roads and the low quality oil that gives it the unique taste. However, nothing could be compared with a plate of Mughlai Paratha or a trip to your local
Fuchka (Panipuri) vendor for that sweet n sour taste and bursting in mouth sensation.

Though every town has its unique collection of street foods but Calcutta’s street food variety knows no boundary. Ranging from their very own Chop, Singara, varieties of Roll, Mishti (sweets) to Chinese Chowmein, Chili chicken, Maharastrian Paobhaji, Southindian Idli, Dosa, Gujrati Dhokla, Mughlai Paratha, Tibetan momo with steaming hot soups, Western burgers and chips … it specializes in every genre of food available in the whole world. From full meals to simple snacks to quick refreshments, this city has an amazing diversity. A true Calcuttan can name all the specialized places of each and every street delicacy. Like best Phulkopi’r singara (cauliflower samosa) is available at Mrityunjoy in Lansdown, best kobiraji cutlet is only made at Regent in S N Banerjee road, Nizam serves one of the best double egg chicken roll, to eat best chicken rezala one has to head to Shabbir in C R avenue, Anadi cabin at S N banerjee road serves the best Mughlai paratha, Mishti Doi is best available at Ganguram and the list is endless. Bengal and Bengalis have a historical love affair with their street foods.
I was known as a chatori (who likes to eat
chaat) among friends. Cause I can have chaat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though in my opinion Delhi serves the best chaat in the whole world but Calcutta comes as a close contender. My chandni chowkwali (a place in Delhi) friend once told me that the word chaat has actually evolved from the Hindi word chaatna (licking) cause these have such a tangy, pungent and spicy mix of spices that it will leave you to ask for more.The saga of Calcutta street food does not end here. This is only the beginning.

Phulkopi’r Singara (Samosa with cauliflower stuffing).
This is a winter delicacy as formally Gobi or cauliflower is a winter vegetable. Though these days’ cauliflowers are available through out the year but still this snack is specially made during the winter months.

Ingredients: for 6 singara
For the shell: 1/2 small cup Flour (Maida)
1/3 cup: wheat flour (Atta)
1/2 teaspoon: Onion seed or kalounji
A pinch of soda bi carb
2 tablespoon: vegetable oil
Salt as per taste

For the filling: 2 cups of cauliflower florets, cut in small pieces
1 medium potato
1 medium onion: chopped
1 teaspoon ginger paste

A handful of dry roasted peanuts
2 green chilies: chopped
1 teaspoon: coriander powder
1 teaspoon: cumin seeds
½ teaspoon: turmeric powder
½ teaspoon: red chili powder
2-tablespoon oil
1/3 of a small lemon
Salt as per taste

For the shell: mix the salt, flour, wheat flour and soda bi carb in a big bowl or plate. Make a well in the center and add the oil. Using little bit water at a time make a firm dough. Knead the dough until smooth. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In the meantime make the filling. Boil the potato and steam the cauliflower. Heat oil in a pan and put the cumin seeds and chopped green chilies. Add the onion and ginger paste and fry till the aroma comes. Add in all the dry spices and fry for another couple of minutes. Finally mix the cauliflower and the cubed potatoes. Cover and let it absorb the entire spice aroma, put 2-tablespoon water, mix well and again cover. After 5 minutes add the peanuts and fry for some more time. Mix in the lemon juice and switch the heat off. The filling would be dry. Let it cool completely before stuffing.

Divide the dough in three equal pieces. Make each piece into a ball and roll out thinly. Divide this circle into two equal pieces with a knife. Brush the straight edge with water and fold so that a cone shape is made. Hold the cone in your hand and fill in the cauliflower mixture. Now using some more water again dampen the edges and press to seal the top of the cone.

Frying: Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Deep-fry the singara on a low flame until crisp and brown. Take out and drain the excess oil on tissue paper. Serve hot with sauce. We enjoyed our Singara with some hot masala tea.

Weekend Evening Snacks: Phulkopi'r Singara and Masala Tea

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