Labra, Bengali Ratatouille?

11:51 AM

This week proves to be very busy for me. We had 2 back-to-back birthdays, 1 anniversary and finally tomorrow is Saraswati puja. The puja this year is important for us as our son’s writing initiation or hatekhori would be done tomorrow. This is a Bengali tradition where in front of the goddess the priest will introduce the Bengali alphabets to the child. The parents offer flower and pray to the goddess for her blessings to be showered on the child. Our kid is extremely excited. Though not sure but he thinks something important is going to happen to him tomorrow.

After making 2 birth day and 1 anniversary cake and cooking full birthday dinner for my father on his birthday am too tired to get excited about this. But right now am an emotional mush, this happens to me every time he makes me realize that he is growing too fast.

Anyways here is a quick recipe that a reader of mine asked for. Labra is like an Bengali ratatouille or vegetable mishmash. Lots of varieties of vegetables are cooked together with ginger and Bengali five spices till they are soft and coated in their own juice. This is a very basic and simple dish but very rich in flavours. Mostly served on puja days with niramishkhichuri and roasted papad.


Undhiyu, a Gujarati winter delicacy with root vegetables and seasonal herbs

8:03 AM

I have this whimsical feeling of cooking or baking something as and when my heart desires for it. It does not have to something fancy or exotic. Sometimes even a rustic and everyday dish steals my heart and when it strikes I know I have to make it right away. Last week something similar happened when I saw undhiyoo on Arch’s blog.Then a video came up on Saee’s blog and the blogosphere seemed to have flooded with varieties of undhiyoo recipes. I wanted to make and taste it so badly but the recipe called for some very seasonal and regional products like garlic chives (garlic greens), Surti papdi and purple yam. I have never seen purple yam or garlic green in markets, well I never looked for it. But I was pleasantly surprised when on my weekly shopping trip to the haat (market) my trusted green grocer showed me some garlic greens and asked if I want to buy them. He knows am very curious of such uncommon products and I was happy to grab it. Pushed all other plans aside the whole time was then spent to shop for undhiyu ingredients. Surti papdi (broad beans), baby brinjals, yam, sweet potato and fresh fenugreek greens.

Finally got enough time to cook it today. Undhiyoo is a Gujarati winter delicacy where various types of root vegetables are cooked with beans and methi dumplings (methi ke muthia) in a green spice paste made of garlic chives, coriander leaves and coconut. The vegetables are stuffed with the green paste and then cooked in layers on a very slow flame. The end result is a very rustic dish cooked with hearty deshi vegetables to warm our hearts on a winter afternoon.

I read at a few blog that this dish calls for a lot of work or preparation but trust me I found it quite easy. Blame our Bengali elaborate holiday lunches which calls for a minimum of five side dishes with rice, it was a breeze for me to prepare and cook it. Though I never tasted this dish before but from the beautiful aroma of the methi muthias frying in the hot oil made me sure that I was on the right path. I loved the green spice paste so so much that ended up adding a whole lot of it. And even ended up stuffing some Mackerels fish with this to fry and accompany our meal later. We enjoyed it with hot steamed rice, roasted mackerel and Papad (sorry but that’s all what my Bong gene wanted). And now that I am writing this after such a satisfying meal all I can say is I was in Deshi winter heaven today.

Chutney Pickle n Preserves

Instant Chili Pickle; well almost

8:55 AM

Winter definitely calls for something fiery something spicy. Which will shake away the winter laziness and remind us of our very existence. If that is something you believe in then this chili pickle is for you. A hot, spicy, tangy almost instant chili pickle which pairs really well with out of the wok stuffed parathas and khichris.

Am not quite aware of the varieties of chillies available around and not very fond of them either. All I like is the beautiful flavour of the green chilies and the round taste that it provides when added to curries. Never ever dared to touch that fiery red smashed potato that my in laws make with lots of fried dry red chillies. As a layman the thumb rule for me is, the shorter the chilies, higher the heat. That way I always keep away from the small round chillies that are found in Kolkata markets. Even for this green chili pickle I chose the longer variety of green chilies which has a beautiful aroma but less heat.
For obvious reason my family never ever believed that I like chili pickle unless one winter morning I made hot fluffy alu parathas, Delhi style and had them only with this chili pickle. After my years in Delhi am a true believer that stuffed parathas are best eaten with hot and spicy pickles especially chili pickle. Though I often make stuffed parathas at home during winters still I miss those small eateries around the colleges where they served out of the pan hot, greasy, enormous alu parathas. As much as I try am yet to infuse that smoky flavour in my parathas. But what I can make easily is this green chili pickle, which is almost instant. This is my own recipe and I prefer to make it in small quantity for that crunch.

Yes am hooked for life.


Mug Daler Bhaja Pithe or Muger Puli

8:45 AM

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back.  May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.  And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand. 
 ~Irish Blessing

Today I am not in a frame of mind to write about a recipe. Today is a kind of day when everything seems obsolete, every daily chore feels like a task. Still am making this post as I promised to many of my readers that I will help them making Muger Puli on Poush Sankranti. And to keep my promise I prepared it day before yesterday and clicked the pictures. So here it is. A traditional sweet made specially for Makar Sankranti or the Harvest festival. This is a stuffed sweet where the case is made with mashed yeallo lentil which is dry roasted and boiled with little water.the filling is made with scraped coconut, milk solids and date palm jaggery. The half moon shaped sweets are then deep fried and soaked in date palm jaggery syrup.
Enjoy the recipe and pardon me for not being able to write much.

Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Greek New Year Cake Errrr Mini cupcakes

3:58 AM

I wanted to do a lot of things and meant to post a lot of good recipes during the holiday break. To start with the clicks and write ups were all ready for a traditional Kerala Plum cake, Macher chop and a great sweet and sour Chinese soup. But everything went wrong and after a lot of deliberation I decided to keep mum. I was also tired, damn tired and the fatigue kept me away from the net.

First we went to Santitniketan for the yearly Poush mela. The baby went crazy over all the rides and I felt like spending most of the time around the dragon train and merry go round. When it was time to come back the maid dint show up and a week was gone doing everything by ourselves before a substitute was found. Then came the visit of my in laws. They went all around the city to visit places like Kolkata zoo, Science city, nicco park, 3D movies and mall hopping. If my legs were human they would have refused to stay with me after all these running. The weather here is acting weird again. Its all cloudy, rainy, foggy and cold all at the same time. Which has resulted into stuffed nose, difficult sleeps and irritated throat. Among all these running and hullabaloo all I could manage was that quick post to wish happy new year with a borrowed clip art and quote. All thanks to you lovely readers to acknowledge that small (almost no effort) effort and wish me back.
But now that I am back and have some time for myself I really cannot believe that the year has already gone. It was so eventful for us that I hardly could pay any attention as it went by. But a new year always is a great point to start on the things that are left in the midway. I plan to explore some new horizons out of my comfort zone, lets see what God has in mind for me. Hope you all had a wonderful start!
This cake again belongs to the book cakes and cakedecorating by Angela Nilsen and Sarah Maxwell. Traditionally this is baked as a big round cake to mark the beginning of a year. in Greece this is known as vassilopita where a gold coin is baked into the cake and the family member who gets the coin is said to have good luck for the rest of the year. mostly this is baked with lemon flavour but the sucker I am for everything orange I decided to follow the recipe given in the book and tweaked it a little. The decorative icing with Nutella was my son’s idea. Don’t know where he got this idea that orange and chocolate is a classic combination but when I offered him a cake he demanded something chocolate on this. I don’t have a mini cupcake tin and baking in such minuscule sizes is a difficulty. But am glad that I tried. My little one loved the mini cuppies and kept on asking me with elated voice ‘egulo amar jonyo baniecho? (/ have you made these for me?). all of us loved this cake and I already have baked them thrice since December.


A new beginning...A Brand New year

1:32 AM

“Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true”

Lord Tennyson.

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