Meat n Poultry

MAlaysian Spiral Curry Puff

7:50 PM


As a food enthusiast, I love to explore a country through its cuisine. So every time we plan a travel I do extensive research on what to eat and where to eat. So my joy knew no bound when my husband took up a new job in Singapore.

Singapore can by no means be defined by its tiny size. Rather its the melting pot of various cultures with people coming from all over the World. But the four prominent culture that could be seen in its culture, food and art are the Chinese, Indian (Tamil), Malay and Peranakan or Baba Nyonya.

Curry

Mutton Do Pyaja (Goat meat with two types of onions)

9:01 AM


Now that winter is here t and we find reasons to veer towards the richer spicier gravies, let me present to you this rich, spicy, soul satisfying dish called Mutton Dopiyaja or dopyaja. Do piyaja literally means with two types of onions. Traditionally fried onion or birista and fresh onion are used to create a thick brownish gravy. But in my recipe, I have used onions thrice. The third variant is those whole small purple onions, which I cook along with the mutton and by the time the dish is ready the whole onion becomes soft and jammy, a delightful addition to the succulent meat and spicy gravy.

Bengali

Amra Chutney two ways (hog plum recipe)

7:55 AM


“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” 
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Every day when the huge Grandfather clock over the dining table will strike 9 and will make the ringing sound exactly 18 times I knew it was time. The time that I was waiting since morning. Ready with my hair combed and a belly full of Breakfast made by Dida. Which was funny because the thing that I waited for was food.

Congee with Chinekamini rice with a quick chili-scallion sauce

6:58 PM



Most of us associate the food congee to China but if you look closely then you would find that similar food is available all through the world, albeit in different names.  The basic dish is called gruel where some kind of cereal is cooked with water or milk and depending on the thickness and grains used in the dish, it changes it's name.

Going back in history reveals that Gruel came into existance as a baby food once human learnt farming. Before that in the time of hunting and gathering when the group were mobile the mother had to breastfeed the infants till he or she was able enough to eat foraged food or meat. but the process made the mother stay away from conceiving again and hence the tribe wasn't growing much. After farming came into existence, the mush cooked with grains and cereals were easier to feed the babies and made the mother to conceive again and increasing the size of the tribe much faster.

But hardly anybody knew of it rather it had always been considered as the food of the have not. It was much easier to imagine hungry peasants or as Charles dickens vividly portrayed in his Classic -Oliver Twist, famished orphans eating this very basic mush of grains and water. More so because even broken damaged grains worked better in such concoctions, cooked in the most simplest of form for sustenance and keep one full for long.

This made Gruel popular all over the world.  Depending on the region and its climate the grain changed from pinhead or ground Scottish oats to cheap variety of rice, maize meals, broken corn kernels, millets and even broken wheat, wheat flour and stale bread.  Literally everything that the riches would turn their nose down on were fit to be cooked down with water to a big bowlful of gruel for sustenance. It's that part of the history that no one ever wanted to take notice as not until recently we ever wanted to explore what was on table for the under privileged.

Breakfast

Kalabhat-yogurt-mango breakfast parfait

8:08 PM


Though as a grown up I dread summer but when I look back, Summer evokes such fond memories of childhood vacations spent at grandma's. Those were the simplest times with pure joy found in everything.
My Mama bari or maternal home is in a very remote village of Midnapore near the Coast did not even have electricity back then but we never missed it. we had friends and cousins to play with, pure unadulterated nature to explore and loving family and home to come back to. Everything was pure in what they offered. We had the most basic food foraged, caught and collected from our own farms, cooked by Dida. Even the breakfasts were simple affairs.

Bengali food has always been based on the principles of Ayurveda following which we not only include each of the six tastes to our meals for a more nourishing and fulfilling experience we also base our diet on easily digestible rice based products. Apart from various types of rice that contributes as the main carbohydrate to a Bengali diet there are numerous other rice based products like Muri (puffed rice), Chire (beaten rice), Khoi (puffed rice in it's husk), Chalbhaja (Another type of puffed rice but not as puffed and little spicy), khud (broken rice)  etc that makes our breakfast and snacks wholesome and filling.

You will hardly find a Bengali who have grew up in the 80's or before not have had Doi-chire-Aam as summer breakfast. Doi here refers to homemade yogurt and mostly chinipata doi where sugar is added to the milk before adding the culture. This Chinipata Doi often were our desserts during summer days even in our family this was served as a part of wedding meal. 

This Kalabhat parfait is born from that memory of my summer vacations and Doi-chire-aam. IF you know me then you know I do not suggest or recommend anything unless am very sure of it. And this Kalabhat parfait is a delicious thing to start your day. Kalabhat or black rice is naturally high in anti oxidant and contains anthocyanin that fights cancer and helps in reducing inflammations. Naturally gluten free, full of fiber and rich in protein content and so very versatile too. You can use them as steamed rice to pair with your curries, add in stir fries or salads, make desserts and even add them in your soup. Trust me this chewy slightly glutinous grain is a delight to have.

Mixed grain rice and pan seared Gandhoraj chicken Buddha Bowl

8:24 PM


Buddha Bowl is a wonderful concept where you pile up a bowl with your choice of grain, veggies and other accompaniments resembling the tummy of a laughing Buddha. The idea definitely is to include more ingredients from each food group with minimal processing to make it quick, balanced and nutritious. If you are someone  who wants her weekday meal sorted under 30 minutes then Buddha bowls are definitely for you. Depending on your choices you can change it to suit your requirements, like if you have more time or you want a fancy bowl of goodness then add more items to your bowl, if you are on specific kind of diet then you can make it grain free by adding cauliflower rice/ spiralised zuchhini or carrots or sweet potato, you can make it vegan by replacing the protein with tofu or lentils etc.

Review

Amar Khamar and some lost varieties of Bengal's own rice variety.

10:33 PM

I found Amar Khamar through Insta and could not help but appreciate the way they are trying to celebrate one of Bengal's most important crop- The Rice. Which obviously for us Bengalis is not only a crop but a whole range of products that had sustained us from time immemorial.
So when a few weeks back Sarah from the organisation reached out to me I was keen to know more. Over a cup of coffee we discussed how they are trying to revive the Bengali indigenous rice varieties by working closely with farmers, Self help groups and the specific weather and present soil condition of 24 parganas. which took a worng turn when in 2009 the cyclone Aila hit the area and the inflow of saline water made the land unfit for agriculture . Add to that the growing need of polished high yielding quick cooking variety that made the indigenous rice grains vanishing from the Bengali map.
Though they try to connect the world to some unheard of rice varieties through the help of world wide web and social media but their faith in food and food security goes beyond that. They try to educate the farmers to grow sustainably and using environment-friendly methods of organic farming. As a result indigenous local seasonal food lovers like me are over joyous to see products that we have heard only in story books or in fables.
If you think am exaggerating then hear the name of the varieties they are brinigning to the market right now. Khejur chori, Kalo Nunia, Chinakamini, Talmugur, rani akanda, Chamormoni, Kalabhat-some of the most fascinating names and each grain is different in taste, texture and mouthfeel.
Apart from Rice they also are offering Mung or yellow lentil and turmeric powder.
I would be posting a few recipes with their rice varieties in my next posts. Recipes with which I tried to do justice to these unique grains and recipes that are easy and nutritious.
In the mean time why dont you go and meet the amazing farmers at Amarkhamar page and their youtube link in the below links
Website where you can order: https://amarkhamar.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSWb7UPEMop4b43n7zx7QNw
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amarkhamar/?hl=en

Disclimer: This is not a sponsored post. 



Bengali

Patpatar Bora (Jute Leaf Fritter)

9:00 PM


Yes, One more jute leaf recipe is here as I could not finish the big bunch that my brother sent from home.

This is one of the most common recipe of jute leaf prepared all through Bengal.The Slimy texture of the leaves are best dealt by deep/ pan frying. Everyone at home love this recipe with the regular dal-bhat-mach (Rice-lentil-fish). Often when my father is home I have to add very finely sliced onion to the batter as he is averse to any fritters made with leaves, (some people never grow up I tell you ).

Bengali

Pat shaker jhol (Mulukhiyah)

8:37 PM


I am not sure if I could interchangeably use the term Mulukhiyah for Pat shaker jhol, but the ingredients, cooking process and taste is so uncannily similar that after some serious thought I decided to do so.

Mulukhiyah is an Egyptian dish which I first saw on a beautiful program on BBC called a Cook Abroad. It was one of those off the beaten path food shows where real food of different countries were showcased with the history behind it. On the Egypt episode the presenter Dave Myers (Hairy bikers fame) travelled to the Nile valley and prepared this dish at a farmer's place. I was truly taken aback to see the cooking process. Exactly how maa cooked Nalte shaker jhol. In Egypt they call it 'Asharifa' meaning the noble one. This nutrient rich dish was even mentioned in ancient Egyptian cuisine that dates back to thousands of years. 

Now if you have ever eaten or dealt with Nalte or Paat Shaak (scientific name Corchorus olitorius) then you know how slimy this is. For this reason this green is mostly cooked as a bawra or fritter or is just stir fried with spices. My Mother who was an artist and was running her own handicraft business discovered and learnt this from the many rural women worked in her workshop. In rural parts of Birbhum district these are always cooked as a green soupy dish. We were told that the Muslims of this region prefered to cook it with meat but the Hindu families cooked it just by boiling and tempering it with lots of garlic and chilies...just the way it is done in Egypt.

Bengali

Aam Sorshe Ilish -Hilsa with raw mango and mustard

11:23 PM


It's that time again.

It's that time again to smell the petrichor, to forget umbrellas and then chase the rain with your hair flying in all directions, to snuggle on the bed when the thunder storm roars outside, to splash in the muddy puddle with the kids and not feeling guilty about it, To feel melancholic under the overcast sky, to have moods wings and follow the rainbow for happiness, to walk aimlessly drenching in the untimely drizzle, to make paper boats and see it whirl down the drain,  to gulp endless cup of masala tea and still feel thirsty...
And if you are a Bengali then to put a potful of bubbling khichuri on the stove and scour the market for the best Hilsa available.

Yes! It's monsoon again and we have a lot of catching up with our lives. It's time to slow down and smell the fresh moist air and follow our hearts-even only for a day.

Bengali

Mashla Alu bhaja (Bengali style spicy potato dry dish)

8:34 PM


Every morning around 5.30 I would wake with a gentle nudge on my leg. It's Dida gently calling my name for the morning tea session in their second floor room. Though the huge kitchen was in the first floor but in the morning she and Dadu loved to make tea on their kerosene stove and drink it quietly. The veranda adjacent to the bed room had beautiful filigree and the morning sun loved to play hide and seek their creating pretty patterns on the deep red oxide floor. The pond beyond that had almost apple green water and the favourite place for morning birds to flock on the coconut trees and chirp incessantly. While I sleepily will take the stairs, Dadu will wake up the little sister only 4 or 5 back then. We would sit cross legged on the floor in a tight circle, dida facing us with her kerosene stove. She quietly will go about her morning tea ceremony. Steeping the Darjeeling tea till it turns dark amber in colour, stirring little sugar and then pouring milk. We will watch in awe how beautifully the amber turns into a milky caramely hue. Then she would sprinkle some water on the stove and we eventually would bend down to smell that smoke coming off the kerosene soaked wick. when the tea would be served we would first dunk our biscuit in them and then will drink the lukewarm tea in long slurpy sips. While Dida and dadu will go about their work afterwards, we eventually will go back to sleep again, this time in Dadu's bed. 

Whats that n How to

Following Ayurveda in everyday life-Guest post by Sharmistha

8:44 PM

Light summer meal
Ayurveda, that age old system of medicine and general wellness is our very own. Though Indian food has always been guided by the Ayurvedic principles but with time we are losing touch with it's healing properties. So when my friend Sharmistha started posting very useful tips on her Instagram account I wanted her to write this article in a easy manner, for everyone to understand and incorporate these easy steps in our daily life. 
Here is her beautiful article. Do comment all your questions and she will try to answer as much as possible.

Author Bio: Sharmistha can be contacted for free consultations, writing collaborations and workshops at sharmis.majumdar@gmail.com. She is currently studying Ayurveda along with Modern Nutrition Science.
Facebook handle: facebook.com/ancientfoodwisdom
Instagram handle: Ancientfoodwisdom


When my dear friend Sayantani enthused me to write a post on Ayurvedic Diet and Nutrition, I felt deeply encouraged yet very nervous. The 5000 years old healing science of India is so detailed and vivid, that it is difficult to decide where to begin and where to end.  Well, I attempted this article from the perspective of a layman.Every reasonable human being desires for health and well-being. 

Ayurveda has laid a strong foundation for knowledge of one’s Prakriti or physical-mental-emotional constitution for maintaining health, understating cause of diseases with management and prevention of future ailments. Knowledge of one’s Prakriti can guide us to follow the appropriate lifestyle, diet, and regimen suitable for the particular environmental condition.Ancient vaidyas or healers had enumerated several factors which influence our constitutional, temperamental, psychological and spiritual makeup; they are:Matrija- Pitraja Bhava (Hereditary Factors) - It refers to the genes transferred to the offspring from both the parents.

Bengali

Sabur Khichuri the Bengali way

7:27 PM


Shubho Nababarsho to every one. Though Belated but like everyone else's they mean the best for you.

Big changes are taking place at home and with a fragile health am finding it difficult to cope up with the stress. but among all these chaos my recipes got published again on Ananda Bazar Patrika for their Nababarsho special issue on 14th April, 2018. Many have requested for the recipes as they were published in Bengali. Hopefully can update them one by one.

Review

Poila Boisakh-Lets usher in the new year with tradition, hygiene and Chingri Bhape

6:23 AM



April is the busiest month for us Bengali mothers. While on one hand schools reopens after a long session break then on the other April Means our second biggest festival of Nababarsho or Bengali new year is just around the corner. No matter how people joke about the many Parbons (festivals) us Bengalis celebrate but we never shy away from it as for us festivities are always synonymous to family time, following tradition, enjoying good food and having overall good time with lots of adda.

As kids we loved Nababarsho for the new clothes that parents will buy for us. Bachhorkar prothom dine sob bhalo korte hoy (You need to be and do good on the first day of the year) was what Maa tought us. So on every new year without fail we took ritualistic bath in neem and turmeric water, wore new clothes, visited shops for their new ledger opening puja, exchanged handmade cards with New year wishes and in the afternoon feasted on a huge spread of Bengali traditional recipes by Maa.

Bengali

Jukti phool er shukto

10:05 PM


Jukti phool or Sneeze wort flower is a comparatively new ingredient in my kitchen. I first discovered it in my local vegetable market 3 years back. To be honest I was fascinated with how pretty these green flowers were but the vegetable vendor warned me about it's bitterness. Following his suggestion I cooked a simple stir fry of it with Potatoes and simple seasoning at that time and loved every morsel of it mixed with steamed rice. The flower though look delicate has quite a bite to it and holds their shpe well even after cooking.

Cut to today's time, just last week I found them again and the seller told me to make Shukto with it. Which is a classic example of using any bitter vegetable in a Bengali household. Shukto, the iconic bitter gourd curry is a perfect example of balance. It's salty, sweet, bitter, pungent and slightly spicy yet mellow at the same time. It is eaten as the first course in a proper Bengali sit down lunch.

Bengali

Sorshe fuler bawra (Mustard flower fritters)

7:40 PM


I had no idea that mustard flowers were edible. Saw this first while strolling at the newly opened Patuli floating market in Kolkata. This was just when it all started in end of January. The seller told me you can make fritters out of them or just make a stir fry with potatoes and mustard greens. I could not buy it at that time mainly because fritters and deep fries never allure me but then even my organic vegetable home delivery person told me about it and I decided to give it a go.

Bengali

Tel Koi (Climbing Perch in a spicy mustard oil gravy)

9:30 AM


"Mamon taratari kor, khub khide peyeche''(Finish it fast, am very hungry)...were her words when I last cooked this dish. I was trying to focus on the oil floating on the fish while she not so patiently waited on the dining table with her steaming plate of rice.

This was a regular scene during winter, when she would be in Kolkata for her work and around late morning she will want me to cook and learn something new. While the husband would bring home all the ingredients he fancied we would choose and fuss over which recipe to cook that day. Then she will clean the veggies and fish and will sit on the adjoining dining table and watch over like a hawk while I cooked.

These last two winters  I avoided all the dishes that we cooked together. I haven't made boris, cooked shutki (dried fish) or made her famous dhonepatar pickle. But then the sonny boy just the other day reminded me how much he misses Didu's black sauce, his name for Maa's dhonepata pickle. And then again while doing our Sunday fish shopping he exclaimed with joy 'mumma oi dyakho Didur sei gache otha machgulo"...he is not yet 9 and lost her 2 years back still he remembers so much of her. This made me realise that I should keep doing the things she used to do with them or for them. That way she would live forever in their mind. so I have started doing gardening and painting projects with them like she did and also prepped for the black sauce and gache otha mach...while the pickle will be simmered tonight you note down maa's Tel Koi recipe. The way she cooked and loved it.

Review

Sizzler Festival Gateway, Kolkata; 2018

9:40 PM


Buzz @ Gateway Kolkata is Back with their Sizzler festival and I got an invitation as usual. This place is not only close to home but also close to my heart and we as a family love to go there again and again to dine.

Upon arrival I got to know that Chef Ashis has been transferred to other location but the menu and taste of food under the expert guidance of Chef Deep Mitra Thakur holds to it's true essence.

Bengali

Chiruni Pithe or Jhinuk Pithe

8:29 PM


This year I had big plans for Poush Sankrani. So I made sure that I have my supply of freshly milled rice flour from Dhenki (a traditional wooden rice mill), Asked the house help to scrape all the coconuts the previous evening and got a huge batch of fresh, pure Notun gur (date palm jaggery). 
I even washed and sun dried my precious earthen pithe moulds, combs and picks for creating textures on the pithe. 

But things dint turn out the way I envisioned. Some emergency took place and we were busy in taking care of the situation and a houseful of guests.

Bengali

Chushir Payes

5:44 AM


January is the most busy month for us. with way too many birthdays and anniversaries in the family I completely feel lost and depleted of energy. Add to that Poush Sankranti, Saraswati puja, New Year's eve celebration and now Sonny Boy's final exam pre runs...Guess you get the hang.

January also makes me think why all good things happen in such short span of time. Starting from Durga puja in October it's festivities and celebration time one after another. and in an Indian household no festive gathering is complete without good food. So by Sankranti am all bogged down and laden with guilt for indulging in sinful delicacies non stop. But then Sankranti is my favorite time and making pithe is something I cherish so much.

Ever since I started blogging my sole aim had been to document Bengali traditional recipes and then I discovered the beautiful world of Pithe making. Maa was an expert in it and together we experiemnted a lot in this.

Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Maa's Homestyle fruit and nut cake

10:56 AM


All of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's grew up eating two types of cakes, one, the small square shaped dense cake wrapped in butter paper, stored in big glass jars called Boyam in street side tea shops or grocery stores. Two, cakes baked at home in the pressure cooker or round aluminium table top oven, that our mothers learnt from someone in the neighborhood or from distant relatives. Which they baked again and again to achieve a recipe that worked like charm everytime. I have not much memory of the first one as I was never fond of that dry and cloyingly sweet cake but the second one is something I am very nostalgic about.

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