Tak Dal or Sour Lentil Soup with Green Mangoes

11:39 AM

Do you associate some memories with food, or exactly in the opposite way does certain food reminds you of some incidents from past? For me, there are some dish that always triggers some memories, some association from distant past. Mostly because then all fruits and vegetables were not available the year around, certain dishes appeared on the dining table only in specific seasons. No matter what or how much I loved sipping this hot out of the kadhai tongue tickling delight, but I could only relish tak-er dal during peak summer. As a result this dal always reminds me of the lazy hot summer vacations from schools.

Those silent scorching afternoons, with no one on the streets and nothing to do outdoors. When even the birds prefer to tuck themselves in the safe cool cocoons of their nests leaving behind a couple or two of pigeons gurgling in the shade of the water tank. The windows remained closed with neatly drawn curtains making the room dark and comfortable and the fan kept on stirring the soothing but humid air with a monotonous hum. In those days when computer games or cable TV were unheard of, we had very few options to entertain ourselves. Apart from waiting to hear for the faint ringing sound of Goplda’s  ‘Mitu’ ice cream cart, coming our way, we only had weekly magazines like Anandamela or Shuktara to spend our afternoons with…or chatting on the stairs, under the cool shades of that huge jackfruit tree. Chomping on freshly picked just ripe guavas smeared with salt and red chilli powder. Those were the good old days of summer, of simple fun and innocent joy without worries.
Lunch always comprised of very light dishes like this Mango Dal (Lentil), Shukto, Posto, very light fish curry and the inevitable mango chutney. Tak er dal in Bengali means a sour tasting dal cooked with green mangoes. The heat and humidity killed our desire to eat but this light soupy dal with its pungent aroma and sour-spicy taste helped to open our appetite. This has to be cooked with mustard oil to bring out the flavour of green mangoes and Panchforon.  This dal holds a unique place in Bengali cuisine as no dal is cooked with anything sour in it. be it the tamarind, tomato or any other acidic ingredients, we sweet loving Bengalis never prefer our dals tangy. Traditionally, this is cooked with mator dal (split peas) with a tempering of mustard seeds and dry red chillies but I prefer the red lentils as it gives the dish a light and soupy consistency. Sipping a bowlful of this tak dal helps me relive those moments of childhood, which is a cherished summer treat for me.

My Home and Garden

Buddha Scapes and More Awards

3:14 AM

Right now am daydreaming of a bright, sunny, breezy day. Its been raining here non stop and giving my domestic help enough excuses to bunk another knees are aching from the numerous times I have to mop the floor to get rid of that sticky humid feeling, ligaments are sore for climbing up and down the stairs with heaps of wet clothes. The baby is also sick of reciting 'rain rain go away' and now finally he has resorted to scare it away by saying (with a heavy voice)'Rain, Ja, chole ja bolchi, Akdom Ribhu'r barite dhukbina (Rain go away. dont dare to enter Ribhu's house).I guess I should join him too. 
The Auspicious Diwali Night
Well am really tired and this light will also not allow me to take good pictures of the 'Aamer Morobba (sweet Mango Chutney)' Ma made this season. So, let me shelve it for another day, a sunny warm day....yeah!am back to my reverie again.
My blogger buddies have showered me with their love and appreciation with these awards. Am really honoured to receive them but what touches me most is the fact that they remembered and chose me to share them with. Lots of love coming your way Deepa, Indrani, Ambreen and Babli. You made my day girls. 
On our Book shelf

Am also pleased to share them with every new bloggers who have started their journey in this beautiful blogosphere. Come and collect it for all the mouthwatering recipes you bring in here friends. 
On the corner rack of our Dining Space
Recently I saw this great theme of 'Buddha Scapes' at one of my favourite lifestyle and decor blog Colours Decor. we have few statues that we adore.
The Zen corner
Though, My house is not ready yet to be clicked and the light now is miserable but still here are some Buddha corners in our home, that bring peace and happiness to us.

Chutney Pickle n Preserves

Gur Aam (Sweet -Sour-n-Spicy Mango Pickle with Jaggery)

12:46 PM

We the people of eastern India are caught in the midst of a depression and for the last few days Its been raining here cats n dogs. Unrelenting downpours with strong winds have made our lives miserable. The canals and drains are overflown, the roads are waterlogged and many a trees are uprooted resulting in traffic congestion in key crossing areas,there's power failure to add to this crisis and the humidity level is killing. With all the dirt and puddle on the streets, its a nightmare to go out of the house. Even if you succeed to make your way through that knee high ripples on the road but you could never assume when the whirling wind will caught your umbrella unguarded and will turn it inside out or the bigger than ice cubes rain drops will drench you thoroughly. The situation was worst on Friday when the city experienced an average rainfall of more than 100 mm and the lives on the roads almost came to a hault. Whoever had options chose to stay inside and enjoy the rain with hot cup of tea.

Hubby being the Hubby wanted to go to office but the little one tried to scare him  by saying there's lots of cockroaches and owls and tiktik (lizard) in that dirty water. I tried to bribe him with a promise of hot khichuri, Ilish mach bhaja (fried hilsa fish), beguni (batter fried eggplant sices), papor (pappadum) and steaming cups of hot filter coffee in between. But he was a hard nut to crack so we also had to take oath that we would let him work in the first half. We agreed to that but the rain God was on our side. After an hour of heavy rain fishes started to appear from the nearby fields. Which by then was totally immersed in water. with all those excited shouts from the road it was difficult for him to stick to that. 

Can you spot the small fish in the water?

It was an incredible sight from our 3rd floor balcony. Herds of fish mostly Koi ( Climbing Gouramie) and Magur (Walking catfish) were there swimming slowly against the stream. We were as excited as the little one, who kept on shouting oi je oi je (There, There!). After a few calls after, my father and younger brother who is in the town on work also dropped in. by that time there were few people on the road to catch the fishes. we enjoyed the view from our balcony and tried to help them by pointing out at the fishes. after sometime the super excited Hubby could not sit back and went downstairs to catch a few for the little one. We really dint expect but he caught 8 small ones. The baby enjoyed watching them swimming in the bucket and when after all this maddening excitement he was off to sleep Hubby gave the fishes to the building watchman.
All in all it was a nice day and we enjoyed our simple meal of Khichuri and fish fry with a sweet, sour n spicy mango pickle. This pickle is a staple in the Rural areas of South Bengal. Every summer the housewives make enough of this simple pickle to last through the year. What makes it most desirable apart from its tongue tickling sweet-sour-spicy taste is the very few ingredients it calls for. In our house we make several batches of this pickle for friends and family but the maximum share goes to my elder brother as both my brother and sis-in law simply cant have any of their meal without this pickle.
Gur or gud in Bengali means jaggery and Aam is Mango. This sweet n spicy Gur aam is always made with sugarcane jaggery. This jaggery is available both in slabs and in liquid form. I have always used the slabs while in Bangalore as that was the only option I had. But this time I used a very good quality fresh liquid jaggery ( like treacle) acquired from my in laws place. It was almost black which explains for the dark colour of this pickle. If you prefer a light colour use the slabs, the taste doesnot differ either way. And even if we dont manage to get jaggery make it with sugar. That taste great too.

Desserts and Sweets

I am back with Some Serious Mango Mania : Easy Mango Sorbet Recipe

10:47 AM

Ask me how great does it feel to say these most awaited words 'Am back'? Oh! How I longed to say this...and finally am hope to be back on my blogging track. For all of you who have started wondering if I have just vanished from the face of the Earth or have gone to another planet to check the living conditions there, I have moved to Kolkata and We are slowly settling down in our new house and soaking up the love and affections coming our way from friends and family. It was a long, hectic, incidentful break for me. The task of moving to another city with two truck loads of furnitures and luggage was huge, but opening those cartons and arranging everything in a tiny little apartment (compared to our Bangalore house which was HUGE) was a nightmare. Especially when the rented place comes with 4 bare walls without any woodwork, fixtures or even electric points. It took us a whole month to work on everything from scratch. Midst of all these chaos and madness the baby as seriously ill with some stomach infection. By God's grace he is fine now but struggling to withstand his first encounter with the deadly Kolkata summer. The heat and humidity on some days are killing and even the little one begs 'A.C Chalao na' (please switch on the A.C).

on the first few days I had to struggle without a domestic help as everyone in this new locality kept asking for a hopping sum (at which you will easily get full time maid everywhere else, including Bangalore) only for washing and cleaning, merely an hour's job in the morning. Am still struggling and looking for a good help as my son will soon join school and that way my whole morning would be gone in commuting. Well the silver lining could have been me losing all the extra kilos by doing the house work But that seems like a distant dream as every other day we get lunch or dinner invites. Everyone wants to feed their long lost Jamai (son-in-law) with an elaborate Bengali meal. In the last 3 months we have had 5 wedding invites, 2 birthday parties, 6 lunch invites and to top it all the most awaited Jamai soshti that my parents dreamed for the last five years. They went overboard with everything and fed the poor IT guy lavish spread for all 4 meals on that day. Yes! Thats Kolkata and Bengalis for you!!!
The best part of coming back to Kolkata apart from being close to family (thats the only reason we came back) are the fresh and rarest produce we get to see in the market. Am happy to cook with the fresh, juicy bottle gourds that gets cooked in its own juice (which was never the case in Bangalore) and to eat rare greens like Gima, Sushuni and Kulekhara (read THIS post). My only concern was the baking supplies, but thank fully I have explored the shops in the by-lanes of New market that stores almost everything (a post on that coming soon). Then we have this uber cool South city mall which will cater to all your needs of ingredints related to reginal or world cuisine. So all in all am happy but really miss the Bangalore weather and the serene surrounding of our locality in HSR layout.

Now that after a maddening situation every article in the household has got its own place and am also hoping to get my inner zen back soon. I want to get back to my blogging world. Trust me I missed you all, my beloved friends. I missed your comments, your wishes, our discussions on food and books and crafts and babies and interiors and everything under the sun. Thanks to all you dear friends, to all those unknown faces who have been a constant support and avid reader of all my blabbering. Lotsa hugs coming your way girls.

(by now you must have realised that I never cooked or entered the kitchen before marriage and was unaware of the availability or prices of anything and everything. Otherwise I would not have been in a position of exploring this city like a new comer and by that I mean for domestic supplies only. Ask for art and craft supplies, best restaurants, outing options or good shops with great bargains I would enlighten you like a pro. All thanks to Mr. Hubby and our 5 yrs old marriage for turning a denim claded fasionista to a domestic Goddess).

Now back to today's recipe. The best perks of Kolkata summer are the huge variety of luscious mangoes that appear in the markets. It would be an understatement to say that Bengalis are mango lovers, no meal is complete without a few slices of the juiciest mangoes at the end of it. But by birth am strange (or how will you explain the possibility of a non fish eating Bengali?) and was never very fond of it. I preferred it in other forms like in mango milkshakes, sandesh, ice creams and kulfis. This year too when finally Hubby allowed me to touch the mangoes to cook with I wanted to make something easy and cooling. So Mango sorbet it is this time. Hope you will enjoy it like my lil one did. We enjoyed this immensely on a sultry weekend evening.

Mango Sorbet
Ingredients: (serves 4)
Ripe Mangoes: 4, medium sized
lemon: 1; juice and zest
sugar: 5 tbsp
water: ½ cup

boil the water with the sugar till the sugar dissolves. Add the zest and the juice and simmer for a few minutes. Take off from heat and let it cool completely.

In the meantime chill one covered container in the freezer.

Peel and cube the mangoes and squize out as many pulp as possible.

Puree it with the syrup till very smooth.

Pour in the chilled container, cover and freeze.

After one hour beat the slightly frozen mixture till smooth. Cover and freeze.

Continue doing this 5-6 times at the end of every one hour. Chill overnight.

Scoop and serve with fresh mango pieces.
1. please adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of the mangoes. Mine were very sweet so I used less. But remember the sweetness reduces in the frozen form, keep that in mind while using the sugar.

2. I dont have an ice cream maker and I dont know how to operate one, but the google God says its a dream making soft luscious ice creams in such machines. So, if you have one, figure out how to operate that, put the mango mixture in this and enjoy a great siesta to enjoy the mango heaven later on and let us continue with the upper arm exercise.  

sending this to
Serve It: Chilled at 'Oh!Taste n see'.
Kids Delight: cool comforts originally started by Srivalli and this time hosted at Seduce your tastebuds

Quick and Easy Recipe Mela hosted by Nithu of Spicy Tasty.


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