While They Nap

Shubho Bijoya and a Small DIY Project

11:07 AM

Thanks friends for all your nice comments. Slowly but surely we are coming out of the distress. Now all we want is to move on and get back to life. As they say each cloud has a silver lining this incident too have made us atrong and matured. Has taught us that life doesn’t quite run the way you want but some unnecessary hurdles come along…we have to keep our eyes open to see them and face them bravely.
We Bengalis exchange bijaya greeting till the end of Kalipujo or Diwali so am not very late in wishing all of you Shubho Bijaya. May The Goddess bless all your families with her choicest blessings and fill your homes with happiness. On a good note we are leaving for a pre planned Kerala trip tomorrow. My Father has also come to join us on that. As you can well assume this is the perfect trip to help us unwind…we are truly looking forward to this.

No recipe today rather a picture of my recent DIY project. This one is very easy but apt for our very own festival of lights, the Diwali. Hubby loved it, as it creates a magical atmosphere with a flickering tea light inside. If you are interested in doing this, just get hold of some broken glass bangles, a small shot glass or small baby food jars and a small tube of feviquick. start sticking on broken glass pieces and completely cover the outside of the glass surface. Easy isn't it?

Enjoy and have a great time friends. Hope to be back soon.



12:17 AM

This is the first time when am looking blankly at the screen and trying to think of the opening line for this post. This never happened to me, but today is different. Still am in shock, yet to believe the incidents that took place in the last week. I don’t understand how could people go to such extent for their own good. At the same time am raged, am puzzled, am relieved and yet am scared of getting back to normal life. Whenever am alone am thinking, am analyzing am shivering and then thanking God for all his blessings. Yes we are out of that Crisis but the incidents have shaken us…. Pardon me friends but still I can’t think clearly and I need some more time to regain my composure. This post is to thank all you lovely bunch of friends for being with me, for supporting me with your prayers.  Am grateful to all those who stood by us and helped us to reestablish our faith in goodness…

Thanks a bunch!



5:31 AM

We are in the middle of a huge crisis. By God's Grace now we see some ray of hope. Pray for us friends, we need your good wishes badly.


Sorshe Ilish and an Award (Hilsa in hot Mustard Sauce)

7:49 AM

The last couple of days have been very busy (especially the weekend) with the puja preparations. It’s a customary ritual in all Indian households to clean the house before any big festival. This is not only to welcome the God or Goddess associated with the festival but also for the guests who come over to share the happiness. Along with that I had to go for a little puja shopping for the kid. the little one badly needed some warm clothes to accompany us on the late night pandal hopping. Also when the festivities would be over winter will be knocking at our doors with all its gorgeous colours. So the whole weekend went in a blur with all the scrubbing, wiping, cleaning and washing and left me exhausted (am not done yet). The little bit of shopping was really therapeutic but left my legs desperately looking for a hot soak.

In between all these I received a beautiful award from Kamini. She is one of those bloggers whom I love to visit everyday. Her beautiful cheery space with all its warmth inspires me and I dream of decorating my house like hers. If you haven’t visit her yet then trust me you are missing something.

The idea of this award is you have to spill atleast seven things about you. I have already done this before which you can find out HERE. But there is one more thing that I would like to share. Now a day I don’t know why but I have become very impatient. I cant relax unless I finish the work in hand…be it the craft project, the DIY schemes, the food photography for my blog, whatever I do unless its done I feel tensed. Even these days once I sow the seeds I feel impatient and check everyday wishing it had flowered overnight. Don’t know whom to blame my hectic schedule or the whole day running after the baby but am annoyed all the time.

Now the tagging part. Here I go
Kamalika of Silence Sings
Soma of Ecurry

Let the number be 9, allow me that friends…I am curious to see what they have to say about themselves.

Now to the recipe. This is the most common Hilsa recipe and is cooked most in all Bengali households. I have posted a very lighter version (Hilsa with veggies in a light mustard gravy) of this recipe before and today am posting the dish with all its glory where big chunky Hilsa stakes are cooked in a hot chili and nigella seed flavoured thick mustard gravy. Again Baba managed to send a big fish to us through a friend, Before the Hilsa season is over. This time the fish was not pre fried rather was smeared generously with salt, turmeric and mustard oil. The fish weighed almost 1.5 Kgs and tasted heavenly and this time I dint invite friends to share this (with an evil grin) with us.

Here is the recipe:
Sorshe Ilish
(serves 2)

Hilsa stakes: 4 pieces
Mustard Paste: 2 tbsp
Nigella seeds: 1/3 tsp
Hot Green chilies: 3 (or more as per taste)
mustard oil: 2-3 tbsp+1 tbsp

The Hilsa fish is always washed first and then cut into pieces. This is done so that no aroma is lost. So take the 4 pieces and rub them with salt and turmeric. Keep aside for 10 minutes.

Mix the mustard paste to ¾ cup water and set side.

(to make mustard paste use your mixie or a morter and pestle. Just pour the desired amount of seeds with little water (to cover) and make paste. Don’t over mix or it will turn slight bitter. If using a mixer-grinder you will have to make bigger quantity, say 6-7 tbsp. I generally make that and store the remaining in an airtight container. It stays good for upto 2 weeks)

Heat the mustard oil in a pan or kadhai and lightly fry the fish pieces (1-2 minutes). Drain and keep aside.
In the same oil add the slit green chillies and nigella seeds. Once they splutter carefully pour the mustard mix. Be careful not to add the black husk of the seeds. Add salt and turmeric and let it come to a boil.

Carefully place the Hilsa pieces so that the gravy covers them. Cover with a lid and let it simmer on medium flame.

Turn after 3-4 minutes and let the gravy thicken. Check the seasoning and if needed add more slit green chillies. (here the green chilies I get are not very hot so sometimes I also have to add little red chili powder. If you face the same problem add chili powder but traditionally this is meant to be cooked only with fresh green chilies. This literally brings out the delicate flavour of Hilsa combined with the mustard paste. Alternatively if the chilies are very hot then don’t cut them rather with a heavy knife smash the chilies and add to the gravy. This gives a very good flavour without making it hot).

Once the water is absorbed and you have very thick gravy pour the 1 tsp oil over it. Mix well and serve hot over a bed of steamed white rice.
For a change we enjoyed our meal on banana leaf that day.

A Homemaker's Note:
1. this dish could be cooked with rohu, carp, sardine or any other big fish steaks. in case of other fishes fry them till brown. 

2. Vegetarians can make a similar dish with egg plant and bori (wadi/sundried lentil dumplings). In Bengali this dish is called bori-begune'r jhal.  

Wish you all very happy puja! 

Events: Sending this to DMBLGIT;November'10 at Aparna's My Diverse Kitchen.

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Shubho Mahalaya with Luchi and Alu Charchari

1:51 PM

Mahalaya is the invitation to Goddess Durga to descend on earth, Mahalaya is the first day of Navaratri, Mahalaya marks the end of Pitri pokkho and is the beginning of the auspicious fortnight called Devi Pokkho, Mahalaya is the day of paying homage by our offerings of Pitri Tarpan to our departed ancestors, Mahalaya is the day of Devi Durga’s Bodhon or the drawing of her third eye,  Mahalaya is the day of Ananda mela in Santiniketan, Mahalaya is the day when schools close for puja'r chuti (puja holiday), Mahalaya is the beginning of Bengal’s biggest madness and frenzy around Durga puja and Mahalaya is my Birthday.
Banaras and other pilgrim places in India, this morning get up with the humbum of pilgrims gathered from allover India to offer homage to their ancestors. If we go by the legend of the Mahabharat then we will see that Karna (the eldest son of Mata Kunti) was known as data or Danveer (generous donor) he used to offer gold, money, property but no food. So after his death in heaven he was not given any food and finally was allowed to return to earth to do Annadan (offering of food). He did this for a period of 14 days, which is known as Mahalaya Paksha. It is said that any offerings during this time is known to be very auspicious.
photo credit:commons.wikimedi.org
For Bengalis this is the day of their biggest festivities. At the crack of dawn they wake up to the magical sound of chanting by BirendraKrishna Bhadra. While his reverberating voice fills each and every corner of the auspicious morning, the tup tap hum of falling siuli flowers on the grass tries to accompany it. The smell of soft ray of morning sun falling on the tiny drops of dew gathered whole night on the grass along with the delicate scent of siuli flower hangs heavy in the air. Bengalis wrap themselves in a light stole and looks at the clear morning sky, at the white cotton candy like clouds and thinks to himself Pujo ese gelo (the Puja has arrived).
photo credit: Debarshi Duttagupta @ushwaia.dpphoto.com (amazing photography, go and check his album)
In Kumartuli, the hub of Potters in Kolkata will wake up early to take bath and were shuddha Bastro (washed cloth) then after offering a puja they will bring life to the clay idol by drawing the third eye on the forehead. This is the most auspicious part of making the idol and while doing so amidst the aroma and smoke of dhup and dhuno (incense stick) they reach a subconscious stage. I have seen them crying uncontrollably after drawing the eyes on the idol.
photo credit: bankura.org.in
In Santiniketan the students will wake up to a sweet melodious tune of Rabindra Sangeet. They would be over joyous as this day mark the end of a school session and a beautiful gathering on the Gour Prangon(ground adjacent to the university) called Anandamela. Students start preparing for this eve many days before hand. Whatever skills they have from stitching, embroidery, clay modeling, cooking would be put in a good use with a cause. Mothers would be haunted after, by their little and not so little ones to prepare big bowls of ghugni or other savory items. Teacher will call student home the night before to grate coconut or rolling narus. Craft teachers will gather and set the prices for the handicraft products created by students and on the evening of Mahalaya all will gather in the ground in their tiny handmade shops to sell whatever they have prepared. The whole evening the kids will chase prospective customers to buy a handmade wall hanging or a plate of alur dom (curries potatoes). And at the end of the day teachers will count all the money and send it to the student’s union to help the needy students with books.
Puja at my ancestral house
In my house the night before Baba would take out the old radio from the cupboard and will clean the dust. Even before the sun sends his first ray Maa will wake us all up. With hot tea and horlicks we will sit close to each other to share our warmth on the pleasantly nippy morning and will listen the Sanskrit recitation from Mahisasur Mardini (The Annihilation of the Demon.). While BirendraKrishna Bhadra’s reverberating voice filled every nook and corner of our house with the chant of 'Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namah', Maa would bring out the gifts for my birthday. The ecstatic I, and my brothers will then gather around to see what book and dresses I got this time. By the time I wear my new dress to show them the fitting it would be time for our special breakfast with luchi, alu’r charchari and Payes.
This mahalaya am here in Bangalore and not going home, but still the feeling of puja with the clear autumn sky, with a sole shiuli plant at my neighbour’s have caught me, have wrapped me in its arm. I yearn to go back and touch those times for one more time. I want to wake up early and check my Idli batter that I with a group of friends wanted to sell at Anandamela, I want to cherish the moments when teachers patted our back for selling the whole quantity for a hopping sum of RS.700.I want to go and sit beside my MIL while Hubby did the tarpan in morning, I want to take my Maa in my arms when she came to wake me up and planted a sweet aromatic birthday kiss me on my forehead, I want to see that smile in my elder brother’s face when he said my sister looks best in red, I want to run and go back there to make my son a part of this beautiful community feeling …and as I write this post, with teary eyes I tell myself that’s not possible.
So, I tried to create new memories and recreate Bengali’s most cherished breakfast of luchi, Alu’r charchari this morning. After offering Puja I set out in the kitchen to roll out perfect luchis. My heart filled with joy when my kiddo came running to me in the kitchen shouting ‘Uchi, Uchi’. He loved his first taste of this fried flatbread and finished his share by savoring bits by bits. This enthusiasm on his part comforted me, made me look forward to the bright days, a lifetime journey of creating beautiful memories together. So, this Mahalaya is special to me, as with the abahon (invitation) of Devi Durga we also embarked on a new journey together to cherish each and every moment  and touch each and every milestone of our lives shared together.

Shubho Mahalaya!!!

I wanted to post it yesterday but due to the bad bad internet connection could not finish and post. So am posting it as it is today.

Luchi ar alu’r charchari (fried small flatbread and simple potato curry)

(makes 12-15)

All purpose flour: 2 cups
Sunflower or any white oil: 2 tbsp+1tbsp
Salt: 1/3 tsp
Warm Water
Oil for deep frying

Sieve the all purpose flour with salt and make a well in the center. Pour the oil(2 tbsp) in the well and mix with fingertips. Add adequate water to make the dough, add water little at a time, if it becomes sticky add more flour. if hard, sprinkle little water and knead again.

Luchi dough is needed to be very soft n smooth and this texture is only obtained by kneading the dough (or thasa as we call in Bengali) on an oiled surface. Do the kneading with the heel of your palm. When its done pour another tbsp of oil over it, cover and let it rest for half an hour. This will make the luchis soft and puffed up. Trust me by following this method you will never go wrong with the final outcome.

Then make small balls of pinching golf ball sized dough. Roll it tightly between your palm to make it smooth. Press with both hands to make it flat. Cover and set aside.

Oil a clean flat surface or the belni and with a rolling pin make small even circles. Keep covered.

Heat oil in a deep pan or kadai. The heat of the oil plays very crucial role in frying luchi. It should not be very hot or cold. If you get the right heat the luchi will puff up easily. To check if the oil is hot enough place a small piece of the dough, if the oil bubbles up and the dough comes direct to the surface, your oil is ready.
Very carefully release the luchi in the oil and with a slotted spatula (chanta) press the luchi gently. This will puff up the luchi instantly. Once one side turns golden turn it and fry for some time. Using the chanta drain and take it out.
Repeat for the other balls.

Alu charchari

Potaoes: 3 big
Tomato: 1 small
Green chilies: 2-3 pieces
Nigella seeds: ½ tsp
Oil: 1 tbsp

Peel, wash and cut the potatoes in small cubes. Slit the chilies lengthwise.

Heat the oil and temper with nigella seeds and green chilies. This will splutter a lot so please be careful.

Once the aroma of fried spice comes through add the potatoes, salt and turmeric. Mix and fry on medium. Cover and let it cook but stir in between.

When the potatoes are half cooked add water and place the tomato at the center. Don’t cut the tomato as this will result in lengthening the boiling time. Also add water as per your choice. We like it with little gravy to dip our luchis in. if you want it dry don’t add much water.

Once the potato pieces are soft and little mushy mix the tomato in the gravy. Check seasoning and serve hot with luchis.

A Homemaker’s Note:
1.       Its better to get someone to roll out the luchis while you can do the frying. If you roll them beforehand you always run the danger of getting hard and crisp flatbreads.
2.       Don’t compromise on the shortening or you will get hard luchis.
3.       The kneading of the dough is very important to get the right texture of velvety smooth and soft dough.
4.       smear the prepared dough with oil and let it rest for at-least 15 minutes. This will result in perfect soft yet puffed up luchis.
5.       Always use oil to roll out the luchi.
   6. I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of right heat for the deep-frying. This is most important to get puffed up flatbreads that resemble a round ball.
   7.  Sometimes I add chopped onion to the alu charchari. for that after tempering the oil with nigella and green chilies add chopped onion. Once they turn transparent add potato and proceed there after.

this mindless blabbering goes to Pree's beyond five days of Durga Puja.

to Ayeesha's anyone can cook at Taste of Pearl city.

to CFK: festive foods this month hosted at Veggie Platter, an event started by Sharmi of Neivedyam.

Only series: festive food this month hosted at Khaugiri and originally conceived by dear Pari of foodelicious.

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Kara Kuzhambu and Tomato Daal: to Tickle sore Tastebuds

4:25 AM

Last month after coming back from Calcutta we all fell sick. First it was the baby who suffered from viral fever and infections for almost a month, then it was hubby and finally me. I spotted the sick feeling in the beginning and swallowed my trusted medicine with green tea, which helped me to recover fast. But the problem with fever and cold is, it leaves you with a loss of appetite…whatever you eat feels like grass in the mouth. The only respite is something sour that tingles the sore taste buds and make you feel like having a full meal. But the weak me with a nagging baby in tow hardly had any time to cook something exquisite. Then I remembered this recipe called Kara Kuzhambu from a very talented Blogger Prema. This recipe has all the ingredients to nurture depressed soul and tasteless tongue. But the most important promise is the ‘maa ke haat ka khana’ or the taste of mother’s recipes. It bowled me over and I went on making this.

Kara kuzhambu means spicy gravy in Tamil and mostly it is cooked with drumsticks and brinjals. But I didn’t have drumsticks at home and on a laidback weekend nothing would make hubby to go out and buy vegetables. So I decided to give it a miss. Finally with the brinjals from my veggie patch and some pearl onions, I was all set to make my spicy tangy Kara Kuzhambu. After half an hour of pressure cooker hissing, mixie churning and tung tang of spatula touching kadhai the meal was ready.  The final outcome is not as drool worthy as Prema’s and I don’t blame her if she finally decides to disown my dish…but trust me that was a fabulous meal. The colour is black as I cooked with my 2 years old tamarind. We loved the sweet-sour-hot gravy with a very appetizing aroma lent by sambar powder. Combined with my trusted tomato dal, roasted papad and salad it brought our taste buds to life and we enjoyed our meal immensely.

Here are the recipes:

Kara Kuzhambu (vegetables in spicy gravy)

Brinjal: ½ cup; cut in legth wise pieces
Pumpkin: ½ cup; cut in cubes
Potato: 1 medium; cut in cubes
Pearl onion: 8-10; pealed
Tomato: 1 medium; chopped
urry leaves: 1 sprig
Oil: 1 tbsp
For tempring: Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds: 1/2 tsp
For Kuzhambu spices:
Thick tamarid extract: 1/3 cup
sambar powder: 2 tsp
coriander powder: 4 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
salt as needed

In a mixing bowl add all the kuzhambu spices and mix them well using hand, make it smooth without any lump, if it’s very thick add 1/2 cup of water. Mix and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a kadai and temper with mustard and fenugreek seeds. Once it crackles, add curry leaves.

When the beautiful aroma arises add the small onions and sauté for a minute.

Now add all the veggies, salt and tomato. cover and let it cook on low.

Once the veggies are soft and cooked cooked, add the kuzhambu spices. Mix well and again cover to let the veggies seep the taste and aroma.
once the raw smell of the spice powders are gone and the gravy becomes thick, transfer it into the serving bowl.

Tomato Daal

Red lentil: 1/2 cup
Tomatoes: 2 big
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Onion: ½ medium
Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
Red chilies: 2 pieces
Oil: 1 tsp

Wash and Pressure-cook the lentil with water (2 cups) the tomatoes and turmeric for 2 whistles.

Let the pressure dissipate in itself then open the lid. With a spatula mix the tomatoes to the lentil. The consistency would be smooth and soup like. So if needed add more water.

Heat the oil and temper with mustard seeds, torn chilies and curry leaves. Once it splutters add the onion and fry for a minute.

Add the lentil. Add salt and sugar to balance the tartness of the tomatoes.

Bring to boil and serve with rice and curry of your choice.


To Bookmarked Recipes - Every Tuesday Event - 5 October 2010 - Volume 10. this month hosted at Aipi’s US Masala.


MLLA#28 the event started by Susan of The well seasoned cook and this month hosted at Divya’s Sil se.

South Indian Spicy curry, chettinad curry, chettinad vegetable, spicy gravy, Indian gravy with sambar powder, Tomato lentil, tangy lentil with tomato. red lentil soup, red lentil cooked with tomato, curry leaves tempering, spicy gravy dish. side dish with rice, Bengali lentil, bangali dal, eggplant curry. Indian spict eggplants gravy, vegetables in tangy spicy gravy.


Shim Bata (Spicy Hyacinth beans paste)

11:49 AM

This Hyacinth vine of mine is in my backyard and in its 2 years of life it has totally acquired all the three mango trees. But I don’t complain as it gives a harvest that not only me but the families of my cousin and all the friends can’t finish. I have provided tem with so much of beans that they are almost scared of me and the other day I heard a friend telling his wife ‘Eire Boudi asche, abar shim debe”  (again Sis-in-law is coming to give us more beans). (Yes I heard you ‘S’). but trust me am not affended at all…am never with the produce of my garden, and especially when it offers a bounty so selflessly all year around. Also for me the added advantage is the vision of some pretty purple blooms from my kitchen window.
But the problem is what to cook. Almost every other day am cooking something with this vegetables like charchari, shim posto (hyacinth beans fried with poppy seeds paste), shim-er jhal (hyacinth beans in spicy mustard gravy) etc. Then last year my masimoni (aunt: Mother’s Sister) gave me this recipe. A very authentic Bengali recipe with our most favourite mustard paste. When she narrated this recipe to me I wasn’t excited much but my opinion changed once I tried this. Hubby loved it so much that when he feels like going out to the backyard in helping me picking the beans from the top most branches (which happens once in a blue moon) he demands this dish.  

Here is the recipe

Shim Bata

Hyacinth beans: 1 cup tightly packed
Potato: 1 medium
Mustard paste: 1 tbsp
Poppy seeds paste: 1 tbsp
Nigella seeds: 1/3 tsp
Green chillis: 2
Oil: 2 tbsp (I use saffola gold and mustard oil in 1:1 ratio, you can even cook with olive oil which tastes great too)
Bori/Wadi/ sundried lentil dumplings: handful

Boil the potato and mash when its still warm.

Chop off the two sides of the beans and cut in 2. Blanch it for 5-6 minutes in salted water. Drain and mash coarsely. Alternativel you can also microwave it and then grind it to a coarse paste.

Now heat the oil and fry the boris till light brown. Drain and crumble lightly. Set aside.

In the same oil add the nigella seeds and slit green chilies. Once they release the aroma add the mashed beans, potato, salt and turmeric. On low flame cook it by stirring continuously. This will take 3-4 minutes to become dry.

Add the mustard-poppy seeds paste and mix properly. Keep on frying this on low heat. Don’t stop stirring the whole mixture as that will result in burning at the bottom.

Once you see the mixture is dry and tiny drops of oil appear on the surface switch off the flame.

Spread it over a plate or shallow dish. Sprinkle the crumbled fried bori on top and serve hot with steamed rice.

we enjoy it with rice, Lentil and fish curry on weekends.

Here is another Begali style green vegetable paste recipe shared by our very talented Ushnishda.

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