Media/MEntion

2014, What a year it had been

9:02 AM

2014  started with so much anticipation. We were awaiting the birth of our second kid and secretly hoping to have a daughter this time. Even on January 10th when they were taking me inside the OT I was praying to God to bless us with a daughter. and when my Doctor said those magical words 'It's a girl'...my joy knew know bound. Tears rolling down my cheek I just felt grateful...so did my family. We cheered, we celebrated her birth and I thanked God thousand time for making my dream come true...

But I did not know what he had in store for me. He just made me realise that "Sometimes the dreams that come true, are the dreams you never even knew you had." So true.

Bread Paratha etc

Wholegrain Pancake with Orange-honey Syrup

6:06 AM


We had very grown up talk with the five and half year old of the house this morning. Like every year he is ready with his letter to Santa. This year he not only have written down his lists but also has included his sister's wish.
While having breakfast we wanted to make sure that we have got the kids's wishes covered and ready for their morning surprise.
So I asked him, "so what do you want from Santa this year?"

The boy got all excited and said "Kinder joys, story book and a carbox".

Now a carbox is something very new to the parents. I mean we never have heard it. We looked at each other and asked him "What is a carbox?"

The visibly disappointed son at the ignorance of their parents, pouted his lips and said " you dont know the carbox!!! Remember the toy shop near our doctor's chamber they have that toy with plenty of mini cars in it".

Now the Hubby intervened, "But Santa does not know that shop, how could he get you that".
Letter to Santa, year 2013. This year the list is much bigger
"Santa knows everything" pat came the answer. 'He has a toy vending machine from where he gets all his toys".

Well thats something new. so it was my turn. "but you know if its very expensive then Santa cant get you that. Think how many gifts he needs to buy for all the kids all over the world." I tried to convince him.

"Then send him a Cheque Mummum. We all need to help him." Well this boy definitely knows his way and no wonder the conversation ended then and there.

So while we figure out the shop and the toy, you enjoy this simple Breakfast recipe which is one of the most favourite breakfast of the little boy. We are banking on this in case the husband cannot locate the gift he wished for.

Whole grain pancake with Orange syrup

Ingredients:
Wholegrain flour(Atta/Whole wheat flour): 1 cup
Oats: 2 tbsp (the quick cooking variety)
Baking powder: 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda: 1/3 tsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp (powder in your food processor)
Melted Butter/ white oil: 5 tsp
Egg: 1 large
Milk: 1 cup (or see notes)
Yogurt: 1/4 cup
Vanilla Essence: 1 tsp
For the orange syrup:
Oranges: 2
Honey: 1/4 cup or 4 tbsp

Method:
Make the syrup:
First put the syrup for the pancake on to boiling. Grate the rind of the oranges and collect the zest in a small heavy bottom pan. Add the honey and the juice from the two oranges. Add 2 tbsp water and put on to boil. Once they start to simmer reduce the flame and let it become syrupy for another 3-4 minutes. Take off heat and keep aside.
You can store this in a clean sterilised bottle in the fridge for a couple of days.

Make the Pancakes:
Sieve the flour with baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the Oats. Keep in a big bowl.

Whisk the yogurt and milk together and keep aside.
In a bowl whisk the egg with sugar till the sugar melts. Add the melted butter/oil, milk mixture and vanilla essence. Whisk to incorporate. 

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the liquid in it. Start whisking to incorporate. Do not over whisk and make the batter fall flat, which in turn will result in hard disks, not airy bubbly pancakes. Its better to under whisk in this case than to over whisk.

Heat a heavy bottom fry pan, tawa, or griddle. Grease with melted butter or oil and pour a small ladle full (3 tbsp or so) of batter in the center. Let it cook for a few seconds and once you see bubbles appearing on top, carefully flip it. Cook till the center becomes springy and set. 

Take out and serve out of the pan with the orange syrup poured on top.

A Homemaker's Notes:
You can make your own buttermilk if yogurt is not readily available. Pour 1 tsp white vinegar to 1 cup of warm milk. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes. Whisk and your buttermilk is ready.

You can add either chocolate chips or raisins to the batter.

If you get good quality Maple syrup buy and enjoy your pancakes with that.




Bengali

Mulo Bata (Spicy Radish Paste Relish)

6:25 AM


No this is not one dish that I grew up eating rather it never existed in my recipe book until a few months ago. This spicy, zesty and pungent radish paste is a new found gem for me. I made it on one fine winter afternoon and was sold for life. Under its creamy appearnce it hides several layers of taste and the sweetness of the coconut, the zest of the raw radish and the pungency of mustard is all so balanced well with the heat of the green chilies. When mixed with rice this very humble looking dish has the potential to turn a somewhat dull day to a spunky one.

Curry

Shahi Dum Alu (New potatoes simmered in spicy gravy)

9:40 AM


There is something about Winter that ignites the nesting instinct in me. After all its the season to snuggle under the duvet and cherish life at a slow pace. Though we dont get to experience snow here still the chill in the air makes us comfortable enough to increase our appetite for all things good. 

Afterall its the season to enjoy things that we generally don't get to. Think of outdoors, think of picnics, think of all the shawl and carpet sellers flocking in the neighbourhood ground and their exquisite offerings, Think of the riot of colours in the garden and the delicate flowers, think of those foggy smoky mornings and taking a long walk in search of a glass of Date palm sap, think of all the fairs and catching up with your old friend in the ground, Think of all the colourful produce in the market and having a great meal out of them, think of soaking in the afternoon sun and preparing a big batch of boris for the year ahead, Think of putting up the Christmas tree and your house smelling of orangy-cinnamony with all your Christmas bakes, think of the smell of khejur gur during Sankranti...Winter definitely makes me dizzy with all its promise for a good life.

Bread Paratha etc

Animal and fruit shaped dinner rolls (pictorial)

11:43 AM


This is going to be a picture heavy post and absolute favourite of mine and your little ones. You gotta trust me on this.
Yes am talking of animal shaped dinner rolls today. If that's not enough how about stuffing them with yummy cheesy veggies to make it a meal in itself. 
What not yet ....
Then look at the above picture... 
The Hot dogs in all its true senses, Just out of the oevn with a sausage roll in his mouh and cheesey tongue.

or these super cute pumpkins that smell like cinnamon. 
How about this fluffy eared suffed Bunny? Doesn't that melt your heart?

Or these plain cotton soft pillowy dinner rolls to go with your soup or to munch on with your evening cuppa with a big dollop of butter?

Hope that's enough to convert you to try them at least once. Not only these are super cute to look at but super fun to make. Provided you have a some time to knead, shape and proof them, the rest is taken care by the oven.
The best part is they are so very versatile. you can stuff them with anything, make them sweet or savory, shape them whatever way you want and still they will look pretty and taste awesome.
Think of the surprised giggling face of your kid. That awe in their eyes while you present these as an after school treat...Or think of Christmas gift, Kids party menu...the possibilities are endless.

So here they are my super easy, most versatile Dinner rolls recipe.

Shaped dinner rolls and buns
Stuffed bun, caterpillar Nutella roll and stuffed bunny roll

Bengali

Dhonepata Mach (Fish in Fresh Coriander Sauce)

2:01 AM


Have you ever tried going silent for sometime? I mean a deliberate choice to go soundless...to hear nothing, to do nothing that creates any sound or at least to try to minimize all voices as much as possible.  We do it quite often.Intentionally. Dropping sounds one by one to make everything go silent. 
At least for some time to make the little girl in the house sleep in peace.

She is very active yet sleeps very less, say for 20 minutes at a stretch and if that need is not met. She turns into a babyzilla. fussing about everything, shaking her head vigorously, saying na nna nna. So we understand and try to buy us some peace by keeping the world go mute around her. We try to do things, everything in silence and 
when we must need, we talk in whispers.  
If we must need to reach for things... we tiptoe around. 
The phone goes on vibration.
The gas goes off, so is all other kitchen appliances.
God bless the man who said 'silence is golden".

Events Awards Interview

Cooking for Twist of Taste; a dream come true opportunity

4:02 AM


"Sometimes the dreams that come true, are the dreams you never even knew you had."

While I was busy with my responsibilities as a daughter, wife and mother and trying to squeeze out as much time as possible for my passion for food and blogging I never thought what plans God had for me. It started with a mail, not a regular one but a mail where someone asked me if I was interested to cook with Michelline starred Chef Vikas Khanna for an upcoming show. Initially I was sceptical. Is someone joking with me? was my response but after a few phone calls later I was sure it was genuine...then after some more discussions, exchange of ideas, some changes of plans one evening I got a call from the team. Can we shoot tomorrow, is all they asked. I was clearly not prepared but the humble Chef himself talked to me and assured of his guidance to help me out.

The day was very cloudy and inbetween incessant rain I set out for the proposed venue. The location was on a boat on River Hoogly with Kolkata's most iconic bridge in the background. The most picturesque venue one could think of in whole of Kolkata. and there I cooked, not alone but with my most favourite chef, my Food Hero Vikas Khanna. 

It was a dream come true moment for me to meet this uber talented yet so very down to Earth person. He has such infectious energy and passion for food. With that warm smile he makes you believe in yourself, makes you do things that you could never imagine you could. spending just a few hours with him and listening to his stories that he believes tells something about life made me change my outlook towards World.  

The show Twist of Taste with Vikas Khanna is being aired every Monday and Tuesday at 9.30 PM. I am so very proud to be a small part of this show, their Kolkata episode. but more than that am grateful for this opportunity to meet this unique person with a heart of gold.


do watch me and the show and accept y gratitude for reading my posts, for trying my recipes, for writing to me, for loving me and Thanks for being there. 
Thank you my readers. I owe you big times.

Bengali

Doi Fulkopi and tips to stop food wastage

10:36 PM


Enough has been said about minimising your carbon footprint, eating local, cooking seasonal and going for fresh ingredients. if you haven't understood the fact yet after all these years...here's the bottom line for you. Eating and cooking fresh local and seasonal produce is the best that you can gift your body, not only it's nurturing in all it's true senses but its very very comforting.

Our ancestors dint have access to ingredients grown beyond their vicinity yet the food they plated up day after day, meals after meals were the best. They valued what they had and used till the last grain. unlike today when we buy exotic ingredients, cook a meal out of it and then forget all about it. A plum shrivelling into the size of a date or expensive breads getting stale in some forgotten corner of the fridge is a reality in many houses. I myself have learnt the hard way and now have my own rules to stop food wastage.
Here is one more Crochet Cap that I knitted for the Sonny boy.

Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Spiced Whole grain Apple cake with streusel topping

8:48 PM

Sometimes the things you do on a whim turns out to be the best. for this very special reason I value my whim a lot. Its not everyday that it nudges my senses and makes me do something but when it does I know am in for a surprise.

If you look closely you will see a close association between whim and being inspired. You see, feel, remember or experience some form of beauty that inspires your inner self to act, to perform to create something that brings in joy. Its a special kind of itch that makes you restless. Something that does not let you be in peace unless and untill you get your lazy bum off the couch and act.

Personally I get inspired a lot by my friends and am lucky to have really talented kind hearted people around me. Its good to be surrounded by them and get a source of inspiration. They create, they donate, they send gifts and makes my little heart content with joy. 

and now that the temperature has dropped quite a few degrees the promise of a cooler weather makes me happy. So happy that I crochetted this little neck warmer for a loving sister of mine. I made the same thing last year for another very pretty girl who is a new mom right now. My sis liked it so much that she wanted the same color. So I made it and with the leftover wools I have plans to make little booties for my daughter. She needs some pretty things for her aunt's wedding this month.

Meat n Poultry

Chicken Sukka and Diwali Warmth

7:29 AM


I have a thing for colour. despite of how much I drool at magazine pictures of pristine white houses with pastel highlights, does not matter how many times I promise to myself that I will deck my place just like that next time. but when its time to decorate I cant help but deviate towards colour. I mean some seriously bold colours, not the muted tones but brighters always work better for me.

Bengali

Kumro Patay Ilish (Steamed Hilsa in Pumpkin leaves)

10:47 PM


We hardly go out to eat Bengali food. provided a chance I would say I hate eating the same old same old food that we eat everyday at home. for me eating out is a break from monotony...a respite from routine and I need a good spread at a great place that will present itself with much promise. a promise to ignite my senses and provide something new in terms of flavour and taste. 

Review

Care 4 food initiative by Tupperware

11:54 AM


Take care of Food at every stage. Save, use and minimise food wastage.

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” 

and that probably is the reason behind the age old saying 'Annaparabramha'... Food is supreme...Food is God. While most of us look at food as an appetite satisfier that tantalises and satiates our tastebuds but Food has the supreme power to create, sustain or destroy life. but very unfortuantely not many of us treat food responsibly as a result of which the amount of food wastage is increasing day by day.

Bengali

Narkel Naru Truffle and Pop: Perfect last minute dessert recipe for Diwali

12:06 PM


Today is Diwali, The festival of lights...the day when Hindus all over the World celebrate the victory of good over evil...light over darkness. Spiritually its all about celebrating togetherness, celebrating everything good with your family. Be it new clothes, good food, decorated house, sparkling new gifts, fun frolic and laughter or prayers for good health and better days...Diwali signifies nothing if its not shared.

Growing up we never called this day Diwali, it was the day of Kalipujo for us Bengalis or 'Deepaboli'. As Kalipujo is never performed before midnight it never attracted the kids. What kept them busy the whole day is the preparation for the evening. We would buy, wash, dry and prepare the clay deep or diya (lamps) and pester the elders to roll the cotton wicks. In the evening the diyas would sit in a neat row around the edges of the balcony or the parapet filled with mustard oil. After the sun goes down they would be lit up one by one. Those flickering flames against the haze of the Autumn nights never failed to create an ethereal beauty.   

Bengali

Rasmalai and my very innovative take on it

7:49 AM


In more ways than one Bengalis and mishti are synonymous. This is Bengal's most prized gift to the World. So much so that now a days sweet shops all over India proudly highlight the fact that they also make Bengali sweets. I can bet if you look around in your locality you will at least find a shop which has that quintessential banner saying 'Bengali Sweets are available here'.

While growing up I never took sweets seriously. I mean it was available every where, whenever I had a craving I could go to the corner mishti'r dokan (sweet shop) and can have my share from numerous types of offerings in every possible size, shape, colour, taste. It was later, much later when I moved to Delhi and found how crazy people are about Bengali mishti. no matter how everyone love making fun of our Bengali pronounciation with excessive stress on the 'O' sound people take Bengali mishtis seriously, very very seriously. and why not this art of sweet making dates back a long long time and needs a lot of patience, skill and finnesse.

As per Dr. K.T. Achaya Bengalis appear to have possess a sweet tooth since time immemorial. It evolved as part of the plentiful availability of fresh milk. The fact that cheese making were never practiced in this part of the world, eventually it led to sweet making either by curdling the milk to get chhana (homemade cottage cheese) or by reducing the milk to prepare khoa or khoya (milk solids). Though initially curdling milk was not considered auspicious. Mainly because Ayurveda never encourages Hindus to take any spoilt food and splitting milk was considered the same.

Bengali

Mochar Chop (Banana Flower Patty, no onion-garlic)

12:44 PM


So I am back after what seems like a long long time. Well a month is a big enough time to miss someone...and you did, I know from all your mails and messages. Thank you. No not all were rosy here. first a nasty throat infection followed by a viral drained away all my energy but what got us zapped was when the same viral attacked the daughter. She is only 9 months and had to put on heavy antibiotics. But by God's grace things are better now. a fortnight long holiday at mother's does wonder to a tired drained soul. That familiar smells, things, textures definitely triggers the release of happy-feel good hormones. and After what seemed like the longest period of my life finally I could spend some time with myself. Read a few books after ages and slept like a baby.

Ribhu, my son loves being there too. He got the whole garden to himself and played there for hours. occassionally came rushing to us with big eyes to show us his newest finds. sometimes it's as small as the velvet bug or as big as a fallen papaya leaf. He weaved stories and imagined things with them. and in the afternoon when Didu would feed him his favourite meal he shared his world with us. One day I cleaned my old rusty ladybird cycle and took him to my favourite places...who says you can not take a journey backward in real. 

The daughter enjoyed the fresh air and nature as much as his brother. Especially S the girl helping my mother is very fond of her and took her around. All in all a great break after a really long time and as usual it made me super lazy. Ever since I came back I have been procrastinating everything...including the unpacking. 

Review

5 Course Global Vegetarian Masterclass at The Corner Courtyard

7:14 AM


This was my third visit to this quaint little one of its kind property called 'The Corner Courtyard'. and I must confess I love coming here again and again for the old world charm it has to offer. With its beautifully curated 110 years old British architectural style building, It transposrts youback in time.  Right from the beginning the warm gracious smile of it's attendants, the luxurious colonial feel,  comfy and cosy sitting, an eye for detailed decor and beautifully laid out food will make a promise of a very very good and relaxed time.
from The Corner Courtyard FB page

Bengali

Lau Pata Bata (Spicy Bottle Gourd leaves Paste) and foraging

6:33 AM


Foraging, an ancient art to gather food from nature. Its an age old way to live off mother Earth by gathering or harvesting wild foods. From time immemorial people have depended on this process, either by hunting, fishing or collecting food which is not cultivated formally. Think of the beginning of Human civilisation, people depending on nature, living off a diet of the fruits they picked and the animals they hunted. They raiding the jungle and the fertile shores to look for edible grains, digging up the soil for sweet root vegetables and at the evening goes home and using minimal tool known to them creates a meal for their loved ones.

Desserts and Sweets

Ukadiche Modak with Nolen gur (step by step method)

9:42 AM


All my growing up years I had only three aspirations. To do well in studies so that I can land a good job in Mumbai, to learn Marathi and to marry Sachin Tendulkar. I was insanely in love with that man and was crazy to buy and collect each and every picture that appeared on newspaper or magazines. Thank God it was not this era of Internet or my pile of files would have known no bound. My friends form school and collage will vouch that they loved me for loving Sachin Tendulkar which only meant one more cake to be eaten on Sachin's birthday as well. In my quest to meet him one day, I wanted to learn or do any thing that he loved.

One day I read somewhere that he loves to eat Modak during Ganesh festival. I remember asking and searching around for a modak recipe almost everywhere. But could find nothing. When I look back to that time I find myself smiling at being so naive. Of course I knew how impossible my desire was yet I loved keeping on with it. When he got married, surprisingly my heart didn't feel shattered but I was happy for him and collected all his marriage pictures with his very graceful wife.    

Much later that love was revisited when my husband came to meet me for the first time. One look at him and I made a fool of myself by smiling impishly amidst a houseful of elderly relatives. I could not stop grinning ear to ear as he looked so similar to my Hero. Celebrity or not very soon I fell in love with him for the wonderful person he is. 

and much later in life learnt how to make Modak from my facebook friends Anjali and Preeti and could not wonder to realise how similar modaks are to our very own Puli Pithe. Same technique, same ingredients only the shape is different. I have used Nolen gur or Date palm jaggery for this. What else do you expect from a Bengali like me.

Ukadiche Modak with date palm jaggery
(Makes 10 big moulded ones)

Ingredients:
Rice flour: 11/2 cups
Coconut: 3/4 cup freshly scraped
Sesame seeds: 1 tbsp (lightly roasted)
Jagery: 4 tbsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Water: 11/2 cups
Oil to grease the moulds.

Method:
First make the filling by mixning coconut, sugar and jaggery in a heavy bottom pan. cook it on low flame for 5-6 minutes or till the jaggery is absorbed in the coconut and there is no extra moisture. mix in the sesame seeds and cook for another minutes. Take off heat and let it cool.

To make the exterior of the Modak heat the water with the ghee. Use a kadhai or heavy bottom pan to for this. Also keep a vegetable masher and a hardy spatula handy. Once the water comes to a boil add the rice flour and start stirring vigorously. Use all of your elbow grease as the more you knead the more softer, melt in the mouth consistency you will get.

Once the water is absorbed switch off the heat and start mashing the dough with a vegetable masher. Keep mashing for 5-6 minutes. Cover with a moist cloth and let it come down to room temperature. Then again knead for a brief time to make it luscious and soft. The dough should be soft, pliable and smooth.

Now grease your mould and your hands generously. Tighten the mould as shown in the picture. Take a big lemon size ball and press it inside the cavity of the mould. Carefully spread it out and spread against the walls of the mould to get the shape right. Spread all over the cavity and smoothen it. Now fill the cavity with the coconut filling. Be generous and make sure there is no air pocket left. Cover with another piece of dough. Press it to secure this last bit of dough.

Now carefully remove the screw from the side of the mould and carefully open it. Very gently peel the modak from the mould. If you have greased it properly it will come off very easily.

Place them on a sieve or your steamer pan. Repeat the process of preparing the modak and be very sure to clean the modak of any stuck dough and grease it before each use. Keep them covered till all are done and you are ready to steam them.

Steam the modaks for 15-20 minutes or till they are done.

Serve warm with more Jaggery syrup or ghee on them.

To store any leftover, use an air tight container. First bring them to room temperature and then store in fridge.

Hope you will enjoy these modaks as much as Ganapati Bappa does.

A Homemaker's Notes:
For better result use very fine rice flour. The coarser the grains are the imperfect results you will end up with. 

Kneading the dough is very very important. You might have to use more water depending on the quality of the rice flour. try to mash as much as you can while it's till hot and later when you can handle knead it to make it smooth.

You can also add fried nuts (chopped finely) to the filling.

Try to make the exterior as thin as possible for a better result. Mine are little thicker than I would like it to be.


Bengali

Ghugni (Dried Yellow peas curry)

10:31 AM


Its always difficult to fall back in routine after a break. Its pointless whether the break is a small one or big but it always make getting back to the grind difficult, very very difficult. Last week we went to our in law's place, somewhere in western Midnapore for a couple of days. Though I must admit that I was a little tensed as the son had high fever just the previous day yet I looked forward to the long drive.It was a long deserved break from the usual surrounding and same old same old routine life.

My Home and Garden

My Bengali Home...

12:11 PM


A home should have a character...this is something I have always believed and that faith got etched on stone when I joined the design school. The very first lesson was to find my own style...something that defines me...something that I believe in.

Much later when I got married and started setting up the house I had no set vision. All I wanted was to combine easy elegance with functionality. I was lucky to have got a blank canvas and buy everything that we needed.

When it started taking shape I wondered how my aesthetics lied in my Bengali root and Indian philosophy.The most important characteristic of Indian theory of beauty lies in the concept of 'Santarasa'...

where silence or quietness is not only the absence of sound but the silence of desires and thoughts.  A state of mental concentration that brings inner peace, a spiritual experience par excellence.
it was a blessing to have grown up in Santiniketan, where Tagore's idea of being surrounded by nature and beauty in the most basic and mundane form inspired and influenced my senses at very early years.
The various aspects and substance of art and culture were imbibed in me during my school years itself and later carved me as a person. That very essence of Tagore’s teaching was, to encourage a person to be what he is, was a big confidence booster for all of us. 
We learned to live with the nature and appreciate beauty in simplicity. Nature, its forms and Tagore’s ideologies are a big part of my designing aesthetics and it gets reflected in my home decor too. 
So my haat pakha (hand held palm leaf fan), Kansa'r Bason (metal utensils) or Dhama (cane baskets) are not only used as props in my food styling but they posses their own space throughout the house.
Every thing that are handmade lures me and I love to use all sorts of Indian handicraft in my house.
Overtime during our travel to other countries I have collected a few items that I keep close to me and display proudly.
Both me and my style are desi, Bengali to be precise and it's very nature lies in every things indigenous to my own country. 

Home truly for me is where my heart lies. It's the most sacred of them all...blessed by the almighty...
With this I believe to have found my calling. What's your style? Will you share...



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