Bread Paratha etc

Garlic Knots

10:59 PM


Every night I try hard to make my two kids fall asleep peacefully. It has always been a difficult task but now with the husband being away it has become an herculean one. Every night a lot of effort and time is wasted to make them sleep. In my desperate attempts I start by reading them a bed time story, then I sing all the lullaby I know, I cradle the lil one till my back starts to hurt and then I move to the bed with the toddler on my lap and the first grader by my side. while I frantically move my legs up and down, up and down to rock the baby my right hand tugs and pulls the hair of the sonny boy to give them the comfort they need to fall asleep. and the worst part is till date even after 6 years of being a mother I could not establish a sure shot method to do this. 

Every night I make a fresh start...trying all my ways to soothe their over active nerves...some days I fail and some days are just a tad better.

But this journey of motherhood is not about failure or success. 


Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Chocolate Frangipane Galette with Mosambi Orangette Syrup

11:39 PM


I love to bake and there are hardly any week goes by without me baking something or the other. But ever since I started taking baking orders under the name Homemade I have been busy baking varieties of cakes. Days are spent in whipping up Ganache or Italian meringue buttercream and smoothening the fondant on layers and layers of cake. and to tell you the truth I love doing that. Nothing gives me more pleasure in the kitchen than a pretty cake all made from scratch.
Cakes Baked by me more HERE

Bengali

Shapla Chingri Ghanto (Water lily stems and shrimp with mustard paste) with vegetarian option

4:20 AM


I have written about my foraging and eating wildly grown food experiences here. No point repeating the same but with broken heart I am watching that with the rapidly growing urbanisation and increasing use of pesticides foraging in India is dying a slow death. Also in India foraging is something associated with people with lesser fortunes. The general notion is people who find it difficult to meet the both ends meet go for foraging and well off people do not eat those indigenous greens. 

I also see a lot of wild greens growing profusely around where I live in Kolkata but I know most probably they are seasoned with Dog .... and sewerage water. I for myself dont feel like eating them and rather watch the maids picking them on their way home from work. The same greens are available in my local market where I eagerly buy them with a pestering thought at the back of my mind, whether they are gatherd from similar places. But then I reason that when I cant see there is no point thinking about it. Even the cultivated ones are sprayed with so much pesticide and God only knows how they are grown. If the newspaper reports are to be believed they might as well be inedible by now.

Bengali

Shapla'r Bhyala or a fritter of Water Lily stems in the shape of rafts.

11:09 AM

forage
verb
  1. 1.
    (of a person or animal) search widely for food or provisions.
    "the birds forage for aquatic invertebrates, insects, and seeds"
noun
  1. 1.
    food such as grass or hay for horses and cattle; fodder.
    synonyms:fodderfeedfoodfoodstuffherbagepasturageMore

  2. 2.
    a wide search over an area in order to obtain something, especially food or provisions.
    synonyms:scavengehuntsearchlookexplorationquestscoutprobe
    "a nightly forage for food"
Foraging, the search for wild organic food is definitely an ancient method of arranging a meal. Earlier it was the way of life but now a days it's an activity undertook only by a handful of people.  Though for some it's a way to have some fun in the Sun but most of them are serious gatherers and the knowledge they posses is really really astonishing. I right now am kicking myself everyday for not looking up for local forage club while I was in USA, where it is practised quite extensively by the like minded people.

The world of foraging is very fascinating in itself. Going out to the woods in search for something edible is very exciting. At the same time it's an wonderful way to bring your kids back to nature and showing them where their foods come from. But like everything else in life you need to be responsible about it. Responsible in the sense of knowledge of whats edible and not and also responsible in the sense of respecting the nature, opting for sustainable gathering which will allow the plants to regrow and the wild animals to have their food. Knowledge of right identification of plants is very important if you undertake foraging. With time we have lost touch with nature and much of our ancient knowledge of identifying edible greens have faded away. So getting a few tips from the expert before you start is very very important for your well being. 


Bengali

Patol Charchari (Mishmash of veggies with Pointed gourd)

10:50 AM


No other part of India has such big a love affair with patol/parwal/ pointed gourd as Bengalis do. So much so that when away from home, they can walk a mile, early in the morning in search of this vegetable. Yes I did that every Saturday morning. Woke up at 5.30 to drag myself to the Madiwala market in Bangalore to happily pick my share from a big bucketful of water. No, not the freshest ones, but who cares when you at least is getting it.

Summer for Bengalis means the big arrival of Mangoes and Patol. If you ask me Patol is the saving grace of spending summer in Bengal. The heat and humidity some days soar so high that it becomes almost impossible to have an appetite and on those days this light watery vegetable saves us. A runny ginger-cumin laced Alu patoler jhol will boost your energy and you will feel alive after having your afternoon siesta following that. And on not so hot days you can do a not so light curry like Chal patol, patoler dolma or shahi patol. 

Breakfast

Chirer Polao (Beaten rice with veggies) and Bengali Breakfast

8:19 PM

I am often asked about recipes for Bengali breakfasts and miserably fail to give a satisfactory answer. Though Luchi-alur torkari or Prota-Alur dom could pass as the epitome of Bengal's most favoured dishes for the morning but they are definitely reserved for special occasions. Unlike the Punjabi's or people from Delhi we Bengalis do not have a culture to go out as a family even on weekdays or order in Kulcha chana, Alu Paratha or puri sabzi from the local Halwais (sweet shops). We do have our versions of Kachori and cholar dal but no one absolutely no one orders or eats them on a regular basis.
Kachori Potato Curry. Picture Courtesy Somnath Roychowdhury. You must Follow him on Instagram(streetgobbler) for more information about street food around Kolkata and much more.
So the question remains the same. What does a Bengali eat for breakfast? And I believe the answer must be divided in two parts. What a Bengali eat at home on a regular basis and what a Bengali can eat if he/she wishes to have the breakfast from shops.
From Left to Right: Quarter pound bread with Malai, Omlette-Toast, Toast-butter-sugar
Picture Courtesy Somnath Roychowdhury. You must Follow him on Instagram(streetgobbler)
 for more information about street food around Kolkata and much more.
As a result of the long Colonial era we have pretty well adopted the style of an English Breakfast. The toasts, Eggs in many forms, Jam or Butter and fruits along with a glass of milk or tea mostly are found on the breakfast table across the middle as well as upper class families early in the morning. People who cannot afford it or have the power to digest gluten in the morning solely relies on Puffed rice or Muri. Yes across Bengal this is one thing that features on the breakfast menu. Sometimes with Ghugni (yellow peas curry), sometimes with chanachur (Bombay mix) or sometimes with plain milk and sugar. This is ubiquitous breakfast staple across all strata of people. The Muri Telebhaja or deep fried goodies like Peyanji, Beguni, Singara or Alur chop is another option mostly available in newspaper packets with a few shake of black salt and a free piece of green chilies at the roadside cha er dokan (tea shops).
Petai parota, Telebhaja Picture Courtesy Somnath Roychowdhury. You must Follow him on Instagram(streetgobbler) for more information about street food around Kolkata and much more.
The same shops will also offer quarter pound white breads, cut in half and toasted on charcoal fire. Which often is paired with a plate of runny ghugni sprinkled with chopped onion and green chilies or the malai (skin of milk) freshly gathered from boiling the milk. Some sweet shops even offer Pita  or Petai parota, a soft flaky form of paratha/ flat bread prepared by slapping the flattened dough on a slab of stone for quite sometime. Which in turn activates the gluten so much that one can roll and stretch it thinner than a high quality paper. The resultant paratha which is almost like a dying art is soft, light and little chewy. The best accompaniment to these parathas is the leftover chasni or sugar syrup from the Rasgullas or spicy potato curry. 
                        

At home the stories are different though. Like any thoughtful mother Bengali moms also want their kids start their day on a healthy note. So it's mostly toasts-milk or Muri dudh kala (puffed rice, milk and banana). Also after the green revolution Rotis (Indian unleavened flat bread) has grabbed a permanent place in some family's breakfast table. In summer with Alu bhaja or leftover torkari from last night's dinner and in Winter with steaming hot Kumro chenchki or bati torkari is something which even I look forward to some days. Tearing soft pieces of rotis and rolling them with just out of the pan curries is quite satisfying on a lazy morning.

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