While They Nap

While He Naps…

7:28 AM

That's his gesture to show that he is sleepy. 
Though almost everyday we work on designs but creating something for someone close always brings joy. I love to design and gift handmade stuffs., but with the super active kid hardly get time to do so. All my passion now comes to reality when he naps. Made the following products with some of the scrap fabrics that were lying in the closet for a long time. Thought of sharing the pictures with you.

I wanted a traditional Kurta for my one and half year old gentleman for the Durga Puja. My trusted tailor ‘S’ dada obliged me with his amazing craftsmanship. The white malmal material was a little more than 1 meter, which I combined with some strips of Kantha worked borders (after using the broder on a saree) and some wooden buttons.

I made this with some unused fabric (remains of a salwar suit) combined with a strip of hand worked piece.

The remains of two-salwar material went on to making this for the sonny boy.
If you ever carefully measure you would be amazed at how much fabric remains unused when you make a salwar suit. The entire bag (16”X12”X4”) was made from the leftover fabric of a salwar suit. The printed lining was used from another one. I made this for my Sis in law to carry the stuffs of my niece.
And this cutesy doll was made long back. She is very good and always keeps my bindis in her pocket.



I promised on my very first post to share some of my craft work but it took a long time. but am glad that am finally able to do so. hope you like it.

Bengali

Mulo shaak-er Charchari and another shak charchari repost (Bengali Style Raddish Green dish and one Leafy Green recipe repost)

12:44 PM





Produce of my Garden.
Form yesterday I have started a weeklong detoxification and weight loss program. Its quite strict and this is the first time I am following one such regimen. Everyone in the family think that I should have started this long ago but the procrastinating me have been avoiding this for 6 months. But now as the biggest festival of Durga puja is approaching I cant deny it any more…atleast if I wish to look presentable during puja, this is high time to kick start the weight loss program. Yesterday I resisted to blog hop as your mouth watering pictures will make me loose patience. But today am more stable and with a strong mind  am going to visit all you lovelies to see your yummilicious dishes. 

The dishes that I am sharing today are the everyday dishes that you will find in all Bengali families. One is the mulo shaker charchari (raddish greens in mustard paste) and another is the ….which I shared on my very first post. But reposting it, as I believe hardly anybody might have seen that. Both these recipes are very versatile, you can replace the vadis with prawns or fish oil or small fishes or can give it a miss altogether. This is how my Maa cooks it.
Am giving the old recipe first as that is more detailed.





Shaaker tarkari (shaag/ leafy vegetable medley)

Ingredients:
Note shaak (sorry as I don’t know the English name of this) these are sold in a bunches (as we call it ‘aanti’.) Am not sure about its weight but guess it would be 150 gms or so. 
Jhinge (ridged gourd): 1 small, piece as in picture 
Potato: 1 small 
Brinjal: 1 small 



Bori (wadi): 6 pieces 
Onion: 1 small sized 
Paanch foron: ½ teaspoon 
[I have seen many a Bengali argue on what acyually are the five ingredients of Paanch forn. I checked in my paanch foron they are methi (fenugreek), mouri (fennel seeds), jeera (cumin seeds), kalojeere (kalounji or onion seeds) and randhuni(I don’t know its English name sorry.)
Dry red chilly: 1 piece 
Oil: 1 teaspoon 
Turmeric 
Salt: as per taste 
Mustard paste: 2 teaspoon Mix in a cup of water and keep aside.
(In Bengal to make our masala paste we mostly use shil nora or shil batta in Hindi (mortar and pestle). but here I use my Mixie for all the dry and wet grinds. Though I have a chutney jar in the set still it’s difficult to make finer paste with less amount. So I just store the excess in an airtight container in the fridge.

When I got married and came to Bangalore for the first time Maa gave me some mustard powder to use in cooking till I get my mixie. Though the taste is not as good as freshly ground mustard paste but still could be a good option if you don’t have any tool for grinding and is very convenient as well. She generally sundry the mustard seeds for a whole day and then makes fine powder in the mixie. Once you have this all you need to do is add water and make a paste.

Method:
Pick and wash the shaag thoroughly and then finely chop them as finely as you can.Without peeling cut the potatoes in small pieces lengthwise.Lengthwise cut the jhinge and egg plant in small pieces.Slice the onion.keep everything separate.

Fry the bori and crumble a lil bit. (bori soaks a lot of oil to avoid that first dry roast the bori and then add lil oil to make it crispy)

Heat oil in a pan. (With time I have learnt that when cooking with mustard paste its best to use mustard oil. If you don’t want to do so just mix a few drops of mustard oil in you regular cooking oil to get the best flavor). Temper with paanch foron and dry chilly. Once crackle add the sliced onions. Sauté till the onions are lightly browned.

Add all the vegetables, salt and turmeric. Mix well on a low flame and cover. It will take some time, as a lot of juice will come out from the vegetables. Check from time to time and stir well to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.

When the veggies are tender and there is very little or no water in the pan add the mustard mix. Mix well, cover and cook on medium flame.

When it starts to boil add the fried wadi. Give it a good stir.

When all the veggies are coated with the gravy, mix a few drops of mustard oil and serve with steamed white rice.


For the Raddish greens take the tender leaves of the vegetable. I cooked this dish with the crop from my garden. I sowed the seeds too close and some radishes dint grow that big like the others. So I chopped the small radishes with the greens…I believe this has enhanced the taste.


Mulo Shaak-er Charchari

Ingredients:
Raddish greens 1 bunch (finely chopped 3 cups)
Egg Palnt: ¼ of a medium sized
Potato: 1 medium
Onion: 1 small
Green chillies: 2
Panch Foron: ½ tsp
Mustard aste: 11/3 tsp
Oil: 1 tsp (+ 1 tsp if using bori or shrimp)
Mustard oil: ½ tsp (optional)
Turmeric
salt

Method:
Chop the raddish greens finely and soak in water for 10 minutes.

Chop the onion and set aside.

Wash and cut the potato (don’t remove the skin) and eggplant in thin long wedges.

If you are using the prawns then smear some salt and turmeric and keep aside.
Heat the oil and fry the bori or shrimp till golden. Keep aside. (I prefer to either chop the shrimps in small pieces or grind it with the mustard. You can also add it as it is.)

In the same oil add the panchforon and chillies. Once they splutter add the onion and fry till light brown.

To this add the chopped greens along with the veggies. Mix well with salt and turmeric. Cover and let it cook in its own juice. Keep the flame on low.

Once the water from the vegetables dries up add the mustard paste mixed with 2/3 cup water. Mix well and check the seasoning.

When it boils add the boris, it will soak a lot of water so keep an eye on it.

Once the water dries and the veggies are cooked pour the ½ tsp mustard oil from top. Mix and serve with hot steamed rice.

A Homemaker’s Note:
The consistency for both these dishes would be coating gravy or what we call ‘makha makha’ in Bengali. So please adjust the amount of water accordingly.

Also adjust the amount of mustard paste as per your taste. 



Events:
These bowls of green Charcharis are off to Ayeesha's CWS: Nigella Seeds started by the very creative Priya.


Tags:

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Desserts and Sweets

Basboosa (Arabian Semolina Based Baked Dessert)

11:41 AM


This Semolina based, curd soaked, coconut sprinkled, syrup drenched, rose flavoured dessert belongs to the land of saffron and mystery called Arabia. The best part of this cake is its light texture which when combined with the true Mediterranean flavour of rose syrup surely will transport to the era of Arabian Nights.

This baked semolina dessert is available throughout the Mediterranean countries in different names. In Greece they call it ‘Ravani’ where as in North it is known as ‘Revani’. In levantine Arabic countries this is also called as ‘Hareesa’. In Ezypt they call it Basbousa.

I first tasted this dessert at the ‘Mezze’ counter in the Polynation food court. They serve some amazing Middle Eastern dishes and we love to eat at their place after our weekend veggie shopping. One such day after stuffing ourseleves with their amazing array of pita bread, Baba ganoush, kebbeh, falafel and tzatziki  we still wanted some dessert. They had only two desserts at that time, Baklava and this Basboosa. Hubby is not very fond of Baklava so thought of giving it a try. The first spoonful was enough to make us crave some more and finally we ended up eating two plates of this divine dessert. Recently when we were again there we wanted to have this dessert but to our utter dismay it was so bad that after having a single bite we wanted to throw it to the bin. Though the other dishes are still very good but don’t know why the dessert became that bad.

Now, the kind of food-o-holic I am, it meant I had to try it myself. Then on the day of ID when a childhood friend of mine planned to visit us for evening tea I knew the time had arrived. So, After some googling and youtube videos I finalized on this recipe from Yasmeen’s. She didn’t use any nuts in the batter but I wanted to recreate it exactly the way I loved it so decided to add some roasted almonds to it. The whole preparation, baking and soaking is as easy as 1-2-3 and finally when I served the first piece to Hubby he ate, smiled and patted my back. My friends and another collegue who visited us that day all loved it. And I love it so much that after that I again have baked it yesterday…as this beautifully aromatic dessert is something am going to make again and again.

Basboosa
(Makes 16 squares)


Ingredients:
For the cake:
Semolina: 11/2 cups (don’t use the fine variety, little coarse semolina gives it the best texture)
Curd: ¾ cup
Sugar: 6 tbsp (better to use powdered sugar as it dissolves quickly)
Grated coconut: ½ cup
Chopped roasted almonds: 4 tbsp
Ghee/butter: 2 tbsp
Baking powder: ¾ tsp
Rose water or rose essence
Some almonds for decoration
For the syrup:
Sugar: ¼ cup
Lemon: ½
Water: ½ cup
Rose essence

Method:
Preheat the oven at 175 C.

In a big bowl beat the yogurt till smooth. Add 1/3-cup water to it. In this add the semolina, coconut, sugar and ghee. If needed add more water. The batter would be very thick. Mix it properly and keep covered for 10 minutes.

Then add the chopped almonds, baking powder and rose essence. Give it a good mix and pour in a greased baking dish. (I used a square bowl).

Spread the thick batter evenly and then decorate with whole almonds.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

In the mean time make the syrup by mixing all ingredients in a bowl and boiling it for 4-5 minutes or till the syrup is little thick.

When the Basboosa is done and still in the pan, cut the cake in squares. Pour the warm syrup on top and let it soak the flavored syrup at-least for an hour.

Serve with tea, coffee or rose drink.

A Homemaker’s Note:
I first made it with little coarse semolina then second time baked it with fine variety. We liked the first one more than the second.

Though the original recipe does not call for soaking of the semolina but I did to make the grains a little soft. Also added the almonds just before baking to keep the crunch.

You can substitute almond with any other nuts like cashews or pista.

Event:








This heavenly dessert is off to AWED: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This month hosted at Kitchen Samraj.


and also to Champa's Bake off event at Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen.


to DMBLGIT this month hosted at Cafe Lynnulu.


Tags:
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Bengali

Robibarer Murgir Jhol (Sunday Special Chicken Curry)

2:08 AM


Is it a shame that in spite of being Bengali I only have one chicken recipe so far in my blog? I never realized this unless my brother (yes, again that notorious little soul) pointed it out.  He said that am actually ruining the reputation of Bengali cuisine, as anyone visiting my pampered little space would think that Bengalis are very health conscious and survive only on vegetables and sometimes fish. He even told me to look around in other Bengali blogs where non-vegetarian dishes rule at least half of the total recipes. I wanted to retort but he didn’t give me any chance. Being a non-meat eater in a family of serious carnivores, I have always been bullied like this by my two brothers. The situation was worse before, when I didn’t even eat fish and often was called ‘a Big Bong Joke’.

Bengali

Bhapa Ilish (Steamed Hilsa in Mustard based Gravy)

9:43 AM


I wrote the below post last night and when editing the HTML something dangerous happened. I was all alone in the house with the baby but luckily a couple of friends came in to rescue. Now everything is fine and the hubby is also back. Am posting the same with a little change.

Yesterday was Biswakarma Puja. On this day we worship the God Biswakarma, the God of architecture and engineering and the creator of the whole Universe. Remember the architectural marvel and beauty of Indraprastha that Biswakarma built for the Pandava in Mahabharata? It is said that the floors of the palace was so shiny that it gave an illusion of water while the pools were so well made that it looked like flat surfaces. It is also believed that Biswakarma has introduced the idea of industry and science to mankind and thus is regarded as the very essence of creation and craftsmanship. All over Bengal workers from all sorts of life using any kind of tools celebrate this day with great zeal and enthusiasm. Big and small Industrial houses declares holiday and workers get together to clean and decorate the factory spaces to welcome and worship the God with puja, prasad (offerings) and a afternoon feast. For kids this day bears another significance as they get to fly kites the whole day and many elders also enjoy this ritual. The evening sky on this day looks spectacular with colourful kites dotting the sky till the horizon.
Lord Biswakarma

Apart from this puja many Bengali houses also observe ‘Arandhan’ or no cooking day. The day before after praying to the unun(chula/ modern gas oven?) a feast is cooked consisting of rice, assortment of fries, Kochu Shaag (arbi greens) and various Hilsa dishes the day before. I have heard that the cook who prepares this meal cannot talk during the entire time of cooking. Then on the day of the puja (the Sankranti day of the Bengali month Bhadra) this cold preserved meal is served to family and friends.

In Santiniketan, Tagore celebrated this day as Shilpo Utsab or Shilpotsab or the celebration of industry and craftsmanship. In Sriniketan, (a place 3 kms away from Santiniketan Ashrama where Tagore started vocational training schools for the local villagers) this day is celebrated with Tagore’s songs and dance.

In our family this ritual has never been observed but I enjoyed cold rice (panta bhat) meals at friend’s places. But Maa and my elder brother organize a small puja at our place to treat all their collegues and employees. Yesterday morning when Maa called up to say that the puja was over and they were enjoying the prasad, I felt a bit homesick. Hubby was again away on an official trip to another country and I hardly had any enthusiasm to cook anything special. I cooked this Bhapa Ilish a few days back with the fresh Bangladeshi Hilsa that Baba managed to send with a friend. According to me this is the easiest and most flavourful Hilsa preparation. The steam cooking process keeps the aroma of all the ingredients intact and the curd, coconut milk, mustard paste and green chillies nicely balance all the sour, sweet and spicy taste. Many people cook it with mustard-poppy seeds paste (sorshe-posto bata) but I prefer to give poppy seeds a miss. For me the sweetness of the freshly squeezed coconut milk is enough to balance the pungency and heat of the mustard paste. Maa always cooked this on stovetop either in pressure cooker or in a covered stainless steel Tiffin box in steam. But a friend taught me to cook this in microwave. That way it’s very easy and takes only 15 minutes from start to finish.

Bhapa Ilish 
(serves 2)

Ingredients:
Hilsa pieces: 4 pieces cut in thick pieces
Mustard paste: 2 tbsp
Curd: 4 tbsp
Freshly grated coconut: 3 tbsp
Mustard oil: 2-3 tbsp
Green chillies: 4
Salt
Turmeric

Method:
Clean the Hilsa pieces and keep aside.

Beat the curd till smooth. To this add mustard oil, Mustad paste. slit green chillies, salt, turmeric and the grated coconut. I prefer to squeeze the milk in the curd mixture from the coconut before adding it to the same.

To this add the hilsa pieces and 1/3 cup of water. Keep aside for 15 minutes.

Now take a wide mocrowave safe bowl that has enough space to contain the hilsa pieces in a single layer. Spread the pieces and pour the curd mixture on top. Cover this with a cling film. Make a small cut on the top and microwave this for 2 minutes.

Take this out and stir the sauce very carefully. Again cover and cook for 3-4 minutes and repeat the same. Finally cook it for another 3-4 minutes and serve hot with some additional slit green chillies.

For the traditional method on stovetop please see my Chingri Bati Tarkari recipe HERE.

Enjoy this with hot steamed rice.

Tags:
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One Pot meals

Quick Coriander and vegetable Pulao

11:14 AM

Some of our bachelor friends and even a few reader have asked me to post some quick vegetarian recipes that they can cook without hours laboring in the kitchen, especially after a hard days work. I have been planning to cook and post a few of my go to recipes but the bad health of the whole family kept me away from the kitchen. I will definitely post some good side dishes later that one can enjoy with rice or roti, but today am posting a very easy one-dish rice recipe that can be cooked in a jiffy. Yes, you can prepare a full meal with this under 30 minutes. It’s that easy and suits those moments when you crave a good home cooked meal without any effort.



For weekend dinners I like to prepare one-pot meals be it soup, Pasta or rice dishes. These preparations are perfect to have from a bowl while watching your favourite program or movie. I first started cooking these when I was in Delhi. Our hostel often served Tahri or the peasant rice dish from UP. For variations they added various veggies and sometimes soy nuggets. That was my easy soothing meal after a hard days work. Then when my brother came to Delhi for his Industrial Training I started experimenting more with such dishes and one day cooked this coriander pulao with lots of vegetables. That was an instant hit and thereafter became a staple in my kitchen. 

Then recently I saw sandeepa cooking her egg pulao with almost this same spice blend but then she added a few mint leaves. I was intrigued by that idea and this time has also added a handful of mint leaves from my garden. It gives a very mild minty kick to the dish, which we loved.  And now hubby calls this green chutney pulao. This dish needs a raita at the sides to cut the spice and to make a perfect meal.

You can cook this dish in a big pan or even in microwave but I prefer my pressure cooker. As the minimum stirring keeps the rice grains whole and separate. Now cooking perfect pulao in pressure cooker is a bit tricky. The ratio of rice to water has to be perfect and also the number of whistles you should allow. This time I am giving you exact measurement and in the pictures you can see the results yourselves. Here is the step-by-step recipe.

Quick Coriander and Vegetable Pualo
(serves 2)
Ingredients:
Basmati or any other long grain rice: 11/2 cups
Assorted vegetables like cauliflower, peas, potato, carrots, beans etc. cut into cubes: 21/2 cups
Oil: 2 tbsp+1tsp

To be ground together
Onion: 1 big
Ginger: 1.5” piece
Garlic: 5-6 fat cloves
Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp
Dry red chilies: 4 pieces
Fresh coriander: 1 cup tightly packed
Mint leaves: ¼ cup loosely packed
Tomato: 1 small

For tempering
Cloves: 5-6
Black pepper: 8-9
Cinnamon: 1 small stick
Salt
Warm water: 23/4 cups
Lemon juice: few drops


Method:
First prepare the rice. Wash it properly, drain the excess water and then spread on absorbing paper. Let it completely dry before use.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pressure cooker. Add the vegetables and salt, fry on low for 3-4 minutes.

Add the rest of the oil and temper with clove, cinnamon and pepper. Once they start to splutter add the spice paste. Add salt and fry on low till oil separates at the sides (approx 6-7 minutes).

Add the rice and fry for a minute. Pour the warm water and lemon juice.

Add the vegetables. Give a stir to mix everything. Check the salt.

Cover and let it cook till one whistle on low flame. Once done switch off the gas and let the steam escape in itself.






Uncover and fluff the pulao with fork and serve hot with Raita.

Both of us were having cold so this time we had ours with garlic-mango pickle and hard boiled eggs fried with salt and turmeric (thanks for the idea Bongmom). If you are not having cold then don’t give a miss to the raita. That makes the meal perfect.

Sandeepa has a similar egg pulao here.

Events:
Sending this to Akheela's Festive rice event at Torview.










Tags:
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Soup and Salad

Mushroom soup with Chili Oil

10:16 AM

This time am not going to start my post with the weather of Bangalore. My brother yesterday called up and said that my blog seems more like a weather report on Bangalore, all its missing is a picture of mine in a business suit with a stick in hand pointing to the map besides me. Ha, very funny but I realized may be a lot of you must have been thinking the same way. So rather today am going to give you a recipe that is very comforting to sustain such bad weathers. That’s my deliciously creamy mushroom soup with chili infused oil.

Though these days we drink a lot of soup but in the beginning I hated it like anything. I found all soups way too bland for my taste so to spice it up I started drizzling it with various types of oil, which I do till today. Any soup that I find is not red hot for me I drizzle a generous amount of tangy chili oil on top. Remember my 


This soup is no exception but this tastes equally good without the oil. I learnt this soup from a friend of mine who learnt it from her aunt. She knew I adore mushrooms so on a chilly Saturday afternoon in Delhi she invited me to her place to have this soup. She lived in a big-shared apartment with two of her sisters and other three girls. I always wanted to have sisters and envied her for the adorable sisters she had.  Those were the bachelorette days of our lives and had very few gadgets…so she used a hand chopper to mash the boiled mushrooms. But at the end I was bowled over by the rich taste of this soup. It was creamy, it was flavourful and it was lip smackingly delicious. I loved it so much that I kept on preparing this again again and especially during winters when curling on a couch with hot bowl of soup seems almost like nirvana. Hubby equally loves this one and whenever he sees good button mushrooms in the market he brings home at least 2 packets and requests me to make this. With time I changed the recipe to suit my taste and to make it simpler. I omitted the soy sauce part that she used for extra flavour and used whole-wheat flour (instead of corn flour) for a healthier option. After marriage I made this soup few times with unflavoured soymilk but in that case you need to use a wee bit more oregano to cover that soy smell. All in all it’s a great soup and perfect for the weather in Bangalore right now. Oops guess am again going on the same direction so here is how I way about it.

but before I start a big bunch of thanks to 'S' who taught me this.

Mushroom soup with Chili oil

Ingredients:
Button mushrooms: 11/2 packets
Garlic: 5-6 fat cloves
Onion: 1 small
Dry red chilies: 2 pieces
Milk: 11/2 cups
Water: 2 cups
Soup stock: ½ cube
Whole-wheat flour: 1 tbsp
Oregano: 1/3 tsp
Salt
Pepper powder
Olive oil: 1 tsp


Chili oil: recipe HERE

Method:
Clean the dirt on the mushrooms and quickly wash under running water. Chop in small pieces.

Chop the onion and garlic and keep separate.
Heat the oil in a big pan and splutter the red chilies. Add the garlic and fry till you get a nice aroma. Add onions, pepper powder and a pinch of salt. Fry till translucent. Add the whole-wheat flour and fry on low, till a nice nutty aroma comes through.

Add the chopped mushrooms and fry on medium high. A lot of juice will come out. Don’t worry keep on frying it would be soaked up in the process. Once the mushrooms are dry and fried take out 1/4th of the quantity to add little bites to your soup. Keep aside.
Add the water, crumble in the soup stock and check the seasoning. Stir and let it cook on low for a couple of minutes.

Then pour the warm milk and mix everything together. Cover and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes on low. Switch it off.

Now blend the whole mixture to a coarse puree. Put it back to the pan with the fried mushrooms before. Add little oregano, check the seasoning and let it come to a boil. Once the soup is thick serve immediately with toasts or sandwiches.




I had mine last night with some whole-wheat cheese toast and hubby with some leftover chicken tikka between two breads. That was perfect to warm our taste buds and souls. Try yourself to know…

Events:
sending this to Souper Soup Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen.

and to Pari's Only: low oil/low calorie event. this month hosted at Priya's Mahro Rajasthan's Recipes.

Tags:
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