Friday, November 5, 2010

Baby's Day out- A food fiction featuring Doi Macch

Doi Macch
Rishi loved my cooking. He never could find fault in any food his Mamma cooked. I enjoyed feeding my son every evening when he was young. When he was growing up, I looked forward to packing his lunch every morning. I loved making pastas for him and packing it with a hot pack. “You make the best pasta, Mamma”, he used to say when he came back from school. I still have his Mother’s Day card that said,” My Mom is a great cook.” 20 years later, I still liked looking at it once in a while.

This morning, I was busy making all his favorite food- dimer jhol, palak paneer, luchi and of course his favorite gulab jamun. He was bringing home Sudeshna, the special person in his life, to meet his parents. He has been talking about her over the phone for the past few months- how kind she was, how she loved animals, how well she cooked and how she made the most awesome Doi Maach( fish curry with yogurt). I had spoken to her over the phone a couple of times, “Mashi, I would like to make some doi maach for you when I come next week. Would you like that?” I had reluctantly said “Yes, of course.” To tell the truth, I was not looking forward to someone else cooking in my kitchen for my son. “Aami ki doi maach banate janina? Aar, tacchara Rishi oto maachh bhalobashe na. (Didn’t I know how to cook Doi Maachh? Rishi does not like fish that much anyway)”, I had told Snehomoy. My husband joked,” Are you jealous Chandra, now that someone else is cooking for your son?” “Why should I be jealous? I am not like those other mothers who still molly cuddle their son.” I walked out to the balcony of our Delhi flat and started contemplating. “Am I not happy for my son? My Rishi is not a Mamma’s boy. I have taught him how to cook and keep a house so that he doesn’t think its just a woman’s chore.” I picked up the tholi and sent Snehomoy off to get some fresh fish from the local market.
As noon approached, I asked the maid to clean the fish and apply some salt and turmeric to it. The bell rang, and Rishi walked in with Sudeshna. She was wearing beautiful green chiffon with such ease. ”Is it to impress me?” I wondered. She felt so much at home right on the first day. “Let’s go Mashi.We have got a Doi Maachh to cook.” she chirped. “Where is the doi (yogurt) Mashi? Have you whisked it yet?” I hadn’t as I did not like the doi to get watery before I poured it in the pan. I took a deep breath, handed her all she needed and decided to walk out of the kitchen.
I looked from the dining table as she expertly fried the fish and cooked the curry with such an ease. She felt so much at home that I felt like she was part of the family. She walked to the table and help me lay the table. The Doi Maachh really looked delicious. We all sat down for lunch. She complimented my palak paneer and called it the best she had ever eaten. I mixed the doi maaach gravy with the rice and tasted it. It was delicious. I started eating with gusto and realized that I was starving. I loved it. It was just like Ma’s Doi Maach. I looked up as Snehamoy shared a joke with Sudeshna. I saw Rishi finishing the Palak Paneer and taking a bite of the fish. He smiled at me. I felt the tension leaving my body as a bliss descended upon me. I guess this was time to let my son go. He was going out in the world, and was going to be a part of another’s woman life. He was going to love her food and was going to share a home with her. I guess it was the day for my baby’s day out.

Ingredients Rui Fish -8-10 pieces
Plain Yogurt -1 cup
Onion puree – 1 cup
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste- 1 tsp
Tomatao puree- ¼ cup
Chilli powder-1/2 tsp
Turmeric – 1tsp
Sugar- 1 tsp
Salt –to taste
Garam Masala Powder -1 tsp
Bay Leave -1 or 2
Whole cardamoms- 2-3
Oil – ¾ cup

• Clean the fish pieces and coat them with 1 tsp of salt and half the turmeric.
• In a shallow pan, pour ½ cup of oil. When the oil is hot, shallow fry the fish until its lightly browned on both sides. Don’t fry it too much as the fish turns too tough.
• Discard the oil and heat up the rest of the oil and add the cardamoms and bay leaves in the hot oil.
• When they splutter, add the onion puree and cook it on medium heat. When the onion turns light brown, add the garlic paste and cook for a minute.
• Add the ginger paste, salt, chili powder, turmeric and sugar and a few tablespoons of water and cook for 2 minutes.
• Add the tomato puree and cook till the oil seems to be leaving the sides of the pan.
• Meanwhile, whisk the yogurt with ½ cup of water.
• Add this to the pan and turn the heat to simmer.
• Cook for 5 minutes and then add the fish and let the curry come to a boil.
• Add the garam masala powder just before you turn off the stove.
• Serve it with plain rice.
Probably every Bangali who knows basic cooking knows how to cook a Doi Maach. My daughter loves it because of its tangy and sweet taste. The fish pieces mainly used are the softer part of the fish known as the peti.

Continue reading: Baby's Day out- A food fiction featuring Doi Macch...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Shukto- Just like Picasso ,a simplistic dish with many interpretations

In the olden days, when the grooms’ families were choosing a bride for their son, they would test her culinary and housekeeping skills by asking weird questions like “If you have rice cooking on the stove , you son is wailing at the top of his lungs and someone is knocking at the door, what will you take care of first?” or “If you had three potatoes and a cup of rice at home, how would you feed two unexpected guests?” You see, the Bengali household always revolves around food- what are we making for breakfast, how will we cook the fish today, should I make a cooked or raw chutney with lunch, what should I serve my guests with tea etc etc. We will also criticize every wedding dinner we have been to- be it a five course or twenty course meal. There is a famous story that goes around -Once a man decided that he would not let his guests complain about his daughter’s wedding reception. He had made every arrangement for their comfort and the food was fabulous. He had made many dishes both for his vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests. When the reception ended, he asked few of his close friends their opinion about the wedding. One of his friends complained “Oto bhalo o bhalo noi.( Too much good is not good either.” See, you can never make Bangalis happy about the food. A typical Bengali meal starts off with something bitter, followed by greens, then some hearty vegetables, followed by a bowl of lentils, accompanied by fritters. Then comes the non vegetarian course followed by sweet or sour chutney and ends with dessert. The variety gets more outlandish as we move away from a daily meal towards a big party.

When it comes to the beginning of the meal, its either a fry of bitter gourd with other vegetables or it’s a mixed vegetable dish called Shukto. Shukto is cooked in many ways – with or without turmeric, with different blend of spices. But it will always contain bitter gourd. The traditional way is to use a paste of mustard, poppy seed and ginger to thicken the gravy. People use sun dried lentil fritters called bodi with the vegetables to add texture. I learnt Shukto from my mom and she learnt it from both my Grandmas. I prefer the spices that my Dad’s Ma used and I like the way Ma incorporated it in her recipe, My MIL’s recipe contains a garnishing of grated coconut. Shukto is an acquired taste and I have not acquired the taste of my MIL’s Shukto yet. So here is a lowdown on my Dida’s recipe.

Radish ½
Chinese eggplant (long ones) 1
Green Plantain 2
Potatoes -1
Bitter ground (korola) -1

Bodi( sun dried lentil fritters) -7-8
Bay leaf -1
Ghee( clarified butter) -1 tsp
Panch Phoran- 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Canola Oil- to cook

To be ground into paste:
Mustard 2 tsp
Poppy seeds( Posto) 2tsp
Ginger 1 inch piece
Fennel seeds( Mouri) 1 tsp

• Soak the paste ingredients in a bowl and grind it into a smooth paste.
• Chop the bitter gourd into small pieces.
• Peel and chop the remaining vegetables lengthwise.
• In a pan add a little oil and fry the bitter gourd with a little bit of salt till it is cooked.
• In a separate wok add a little oil and fry the lentils fritters till they are brown and set aside.
• Add a little more oil and add the panch phoran and bay leaf for tempering.
• Add all the raw vegetables in the tempered oil and stir fry for 2 minutes.
• Add water to cover all the vegetables and salt to taste.
• Bring the vegetables to a boil and cook them covered till they are half cooked.
• Add the fried fritters and bitter gourd.
• Once the vegetables are almost cooked, add the paste and stir it till it forms a thick gravy.
• Just before it comes down from the stove , add the ghee and mix.
• Serve it with hot rice at the beginning of a meal.

The distinct flavor in my Shukto comes from the fennel seeds and I still love it that way. I also like that it is not overly bitter as I add the fried bitter gourd at the end. The slight addition of ghee at the end gives it a special smell. It might be one of the oldest Bangali dishes, but the one above is what I called distinctly mine which I have inherited from generations. I hope you enjoy the flavor and cook it in your kitchen.

Continue reading: Shukto- Just like Picasso ,a simplistic dish with many interpretations...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dal Puri and World Cup- A complete meal

This post has been long due as it has been busy for the last few months combined with summer camps, swim meets and the World Cup. I am not an ardent sports watcher but the rest of the family is. My only stints with sports on TV are the Olympics, an occasional game on World Cup Soccer and Cricket and of course the Super Bowl for the ads. We have a Super Bowl party every year and to keep up with the tradition of food with spectatorship, we had to do something special for the match between UK and USA on a weekend. So I decided to make Dal Puri ( Pan fried bread stuffed with split chickpeas) .

Since I was born in Lalu’s state, Dal Puri and Malpua are pretty popular food for any occasion. Dal Puri is not deep fried like other Indian fried breads , but instead pan fried like a paratha. It can be enjoyed with a potato curry, a bowl of yogurt or simply an Indian pickle on the side. It was a hit with my 8 year old who loves dunking everything in ketchup including dosas, idlis and any stuffed paratha. I enjoyed mine with some pickle with the annoying noise of vuvuzelas in the background.

Chana Dal- 1 cup
Wheat Flour 3 cups
Cumin 1 tsp
Red chilli -1
Sugar – 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Canola or vegetable oil – 1 tsp for the dough and some to fry
• Pressure cook the chana dal with very little water.
• Once the dal is cooked and can be mashed with your fingers, grind the dal to a fine consistency with a food processor or a grinder.
• In a pan dry roast the cumin and the red chilli.
• Using a rolling pin, grind the toasted cumin and red chilli into a fine powder.
• Mix the toasted powder, sugar and salt to taste into the ground chana dal. It should not be too spicy neither too sweet.
• Add a tsp of oil to the flour and add water and mix the dough to the consistency of a tight bread dough
• Cut the dough into 10-12 large balls the size of golf balls.
• Spread each ball in your hand and add a tbsp of the ground chana dal mixture inside. Pinch together the top so that it forms a clean stuffed ball.
• Roll the stuffed ball into a 4-5 inch flat bread.
• In a pan add a little oil and cook the dal puri until brown spots form on each side.
• Serve hot with pickle , ketchup, potato curry or a bowl of plain yogurt.
It works very well for an evening meal as it contains both protein and whole grain carbs. You can serve it with a mixed vegetable curry and forms a full meal, But the best time this can be enjoyed is a late morning brunch when you have spend the morning cooking it sipping a hot cup of tea.

Continue reading: Dal Puri and World Cup- A complete meal...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blue Gill Maccher Tok-If you teach a man how to fish... should teach him how to gut it too. It should not be upon the spouse to clean and cook it too. A few weeks back we were invited to friend's place. Their backyard faces a lake which is swarming with blue gill.After an evening of fishing at the lake behind our friend's house , my dear husband decided to bring it home and eat it too. We have had such fishing related adventures in the past, but the fish involved was slimy in this case. After a thorough scrub and gutting , the fish looked pretty appetizing.

I decided to make a tok with the fish. Tok is a sweet tamarind sauce and people from a certain part of West Bengal can make tok from fruits, vegetables and even fish. When I was newly married my MIL talked about how her MIL used to cook Fish Tok on a daily basis. I have cooked tok from Rohu, Hilsa but never a Blue Gill. So I decided to try it out considering everything has a first time. The fish being small, I cooked them whole and the Blue Gill Tok was delicious at the end of the meal. Ingredients:
Blue Gill Fish 9-10
Turmeric 1 and 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Tamarind paste 1 tbsp
Sugar 2 tbsp

  • Wash and clean the blue gill and apply a tsp of turmeric and a tsp of salt and keep them aside.
  • In a shallow fan fry the blue gill in some vegetable or canola oil until they are brown on both sides. Please do not use olive oil as that might overwhelm the flavor of other seasonings.
  • In the same pan add a tsp of oil and add panch phoran and let them splutter.
  • Add the remaining turmeric and salt and add 2 cups of water.
  • In the water add turmeric paste and stir it till the paste dissolves.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil and add the sugar.
  • When the sugar dissolves add the fish and cook till the sauce is to a sticky consistency.
  • Add a tsp of mustard oil at the end( optional).
  • Serve this at the end of a meal with boiled white rice.

The tok turned out to be delicious even though the fish was too bony and didn't have much flesh on it. You can also cook it with other fish but remember it needs to have some bones and skin on it. Otherwise the fish will fall apart.

Continue reading: Blue Gill Maccher Tok-If you teach a man how to fish......

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vegetable gardening and a baked potato salad

For the long weekend, I did something I have never done before-planting a vegetable garden. I plant the flowers every year. Usually the onus of planting a vegetable garden falls upon my dear husband(DH), who loves to garden. This year with him falling sick on Saturday, I ventured out in the hot sun and went to Home Depot and bought bags of garden soil. The vegetables were already bought a few days before from the nearby nursery. I decided to get more adeventurous this year and bought lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage plants on top of the usual tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers we plant every year. After planting for a couple of hours, I completed the task on Sunday morning by working straight for three hours. Needless to say, I gave a pat on my back for a job well done. I even planted some seeds for herbs in various pots on the decks. I will keep you updating on my garden adventure as soon as I get a good harvest.
June being the end of spring soccer, we had a potluck pool party at the coach's place. I decided to take some chicken burgers and wanted to experiment with something new- a staple summerbarbecue side. Instead of boiling potatoes I used baked red potatoes with Italian seasoning to make a Potato Salad. I also wanted to pack in some flavors. So I opened my bottle of Kasundi(Indian Mustard) that I had saved from the stuff DH had brought from back home last winter. I was apprehensive that people might not like the spicy nature, but it was appreciated by the ones who like spicy food.
Ingredients for the Potato Salad dressing:
1 cup of cilantro
1 bunch of spring onions.
2 tablespoons of Kasundi or Mustard
1/2 cup of mayonnise
2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Chop the cilantro and the spring onions finely.
  • In a large bowl add the mustard and mayonnise.
  • Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk the dressing.
  • Add the cilantro and spring onions and mix well
  • Add the baked potatoes which should be at room temperature to the dressing and coat them using the spatula.

I used about 10-12 medium sized red potatoes for the salad. Don't worry if it turns out a bit salty as potatoes tend to absorb the salty flavor pretty soon.

Finally here is a picture of a strawberry from the garden. The plants were planted three years back, but every year the rabbit ate them.This year they were saved by the chicken fence and they are delicious. The small fruits are mulberries from a tree in the yard. So when you are reminded of the nursery rhyme "Here we go around the mulberry bush", please don't be fooled. Mulberry trees can grow quite tall.

Continue reading: Vegetable gardening and a baked potato salad...

Monday, May 31, 2010

The tiffin box- A food fiction featuring a deli egg salad

"Rice again? I don't like taking goopy and lumpy rice in my lunch." said her ten year old.
"Its good for you.The fried rice has chicken and vegetables in it." Sharmila retorted back.
"What's so good about it? It makes me feel sleepy. I am tired of Indian food. Why can't you make sandwiches like Christina's mom?" "What's wrong in porota and alur dom( pan fried flatbread and curried potatoes)? I used to love it in my tiffin box when my Ma packed my lunch." "Stop calling it a tiffin box! Everyone calls it a lunch bag. Why can't you buy me a good thermos from the store? Why do I have to carry that big box you got from India? It is so embarrassing! I hate opening it during lunchtime." "What can I do?I don't know how to drive around yet. I will buy you one when I go out during the weekend shona(sweetheart).I promise!" Her daughter wiped her tears and reluctantly carried the tiffin box with her backpack to walk to school with her.

After dropping her child at school, she walked to the nearby grocery store.She had heard from her neighbor that she usually bought lunch meat from the store deli and made sandwiches for her children.She hesitantly headed to the deli section. She saw a variety of beef, ham and turkey in big ovals.The person at the counter was asking what the shopper wanted and packing them in plastic bags for the customer. Sometimes, she was asking if someone wanted a sample. She walked to the counter and saw big mounds of salads.But this was not the salad that she had seen before. They mostly looked white and yellow and were called "potato salad", "chicken salad" or "tuna salad". "How can they make salad out of fish? Maybe it is like an achar(pickle).", she thought.She smiled at the deli person and asked ,"Can I have some sample of the egg salad please?" She was handed some in a small cup with a tiny spoon. It was pretty delicious. She could not ask for the recipe. "What is the white and green thing in the salad?" "Its parsely and mayo." She had heard about mayo.It was mainly made from eggs and vinegar. She thanked the person and bought some ingredients for the Egg Salad and headed home.
That night she boiled some eggs, shelled them and put them in the refrigerator for the next day.She woke up early next morning and started making the egg salad. She packed it in the tiffin box. Mou came down for breakfast and looked glumly at the tiffin box."What did you pack today?Some rice again!" She smiled conspirationally at Mou."Its a surprise!Let me know how you like it." She patiently waited for Mou to come back from school in the afternoon. Her daughter had a huge smile on her face "It was very tasty Mamma.Even my friends loved it! Christina was asking for the recipe for her mom to make. Can you write it down for her?" Sharmila smiled satisfactorily looking at her daughter's face.
2 eggs hard boiled
3 tablespoon Miracle Whip
2 chilli peppers
Few sprigs of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chop the eggs including the yolk into big chunks. The eggs have to be at room temperature.The yolks turn into a big mush otherwise.
  • Finely chop the chilli peppers and cilantro.
  • Combine the eggs, cilantro, chilli pepper and the rest of the ingredients and slowly mix them together with a spatula or a spoon.Be careful not to break the eggs too much.
  • Serve it on its own or as a filling in a egg salad sandwich.

I have tasted many egg salads and finally came up with one of my own.I don't add any mustard as the flavor seems to overwhelm the eggs. This is a submission for the second edition "Of Chalks and Chopsticks" hosted by BongMom this month.Hope you enjoy it!

Continue reading: The tiffin box- A food fiction featuring a deli egg salad...

Friday, May 28, 2010

An ode to Lassi- An all time favorite in our home

Some like it salty, some like it sweet
Anyway you like it , its a real treat
We love it in the summer evenings
When there's some backyard grilling
So how do I make this , you may ask
Will tell you, its such an easy task

What you do is take a handy mixer
Get some ice from the refrigerator
To that add two cups of plain yogurt
Cut some lime and add a few juicy squirts
Add a few tablespoons of sugar to the mix
And a final teaspoon of salt will do the trick

Turn the mixer into a spinning motion
You will soon have a frothy concoction
The resulting drink that is too thick
Will need some water to do the trick
Froth this up with just two cups of water
You finally have a hit drink for four to cater.
We enjoy the lassi every summer from the days my daughter would just call it "latsi". According to my family, I make the best lassi in the world. Since this was such a simple drink, I wanted to showcase another passion of mine -writing limericks.

Continue reading: An ode to Lassi- An all time favorite in our home...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grilling Italian on a hot summer evening

When I was in Italy last year, I decided to do some shopping. You must think I am crazy, but I did not buy shoes in Milan.Instead I bought rosemary and tomato paste and of course a bottle of Chianti.:) I still use my rosemary and its potent with flavor even after a year.

I love baking potatoes instead of frying them as french fries. I also enjoyed a vegetable skewer at a nearby restaurant and got the basic recipe from them. I used it with my vegetables and salmon steak this week and it was AWWWWESOME! The salmon was well seasoned and juicy and the potatoes were crunchy on the outside and well cooked inside. So it was a well rounded dinner with rosemary baked potatoes, grilled salmon steaks and vegetable skewers.
For the potatoes:
4 red potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Italian Marinade:
1/2 cup Italian dressing
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup olive oil
Vegetable skewers and salmon:
1 yellow pepper
5-6 broccoli flowerets
1 tomato
1/2 onion
3 salmon steaks
  • Soak two or three bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven at 450 F.
  • Wash the potatoes and cube them with their skin on.
  • Add salt, pepper , olive oil and rosemary to the potatoes and coat them.
  • Put the potatoes in an oven proof dish and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Cut the vegetables to medium size.
  • Mix the ingredients for the marinade.
  • Coat the vegetables and the salmon with the marinade in separate bowls for 15 minutes.
  • Skewer the vegetable on the bamboo skewers.
  • Grill until vegetables are cooked.
  • Wrap the salmon steaks in aluminum foil and grill it for 10 minutes on each side.

This might not be a traditional Italian dinner or an American one, but this is what might be called fusion cuisine. Hey , who knows you might open a fusion restaurant someday and sell this as eclectic food.Keep following and you will soon see some Indian food here when I have some time to cook on the long weekend.

Continue reading: Grilling Italian on a hot summer evening...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The dish I got hooked to in Cancun- Creamy Guacamole

As mentioned earlier, I love Mexican food. So when the trip to Cancun came up six years ago, I was thrilled that I would get to taste some Authentic Mexican cuisine. I was happy with the variety of food and the spices that were used in them. But after four days of spicy food and the hot sun , my stomach longed for something soothing and smooth. Most of my last 6 meals in Cancun consisted of some Guacamole on the side. Guacamole is made from the flesh of avocado which many people avoid because of its high calorific content. But all the health benefits in avocado overshadow its high calories. When picking an avocado choose a dark one as you can scoop the flesh out easily. Serve it as a side with some tacos or fajitas. You can even serve it as a dip with any chips.

2 avocados
Juice from 1 lime
2 green chilli peppers
A handful of cilantro leaves
2 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste

  • Slit the avocados along the middle and twist it to make it into two pieces.
  • Take the knife and hold the pith and twist it out.
  • Take a spoon and scoop out the avocado flesh.
  • Process the avocado flesh with all the other ingredients into a smooth paste.

Note: Store the guacamole covered with a plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Use it withing 48 hours and do not let it go black.

Continue reading: The dish I got hooked to in Cancun- Creamy Guacamole...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Potluck and Chocolate covered strawberries-A Happy combination.

We have a Father’s Day tradition of visiting a nearby farm to pick strawberries as it is the perfect time for harvest. We have also picked sweet peas for the last few years. It’s a great experience and gives a perspective to your child about how fruits and vegetables are grown. We wake up early on that Sunday, have a sumptuous breakfast (preferable choices are pancakes or an omlette with toast J ). The drive is about 20 -30 minutes. They give us a few cardboard trays to use, and give us directions to the right location in the farm. The next couple of hours are sheer fun searching for the most juicy and clean strawberry and picking it.

I have tried many recipes with freshly picked strawberries in the past. I have made jams and sent them to my Mom and MIL. Last few years I have made strawberry cakes for my summer parties mostly using this recipe. I have added a strawberry and whipped cream frosting on the top. I freeze the rest of them to make smoothies and milkshakes all throughout the year. Last summer , as I was home and watched many recipes on Food Network, I decided to try making chocolate covered strawberries. The trick is to find the right chocolate. Chocolate chips do not melt as smoothly as Lindt which are expensive. Hence a bakers chocolate bar is a happy middle. You can choose the type of chocolate you want- dark, semi sweet or white. The texture is very different when you melt these chocolates. The dark is very thick as it’s the most pure form of chocolate with the least amount of milk in it. The white is very dilute as it does not contain cocoa at all. I use the semi sweet variety as children do not like the bitter taste of dark chocolate.
1 bar of semi sweet bakers chocolate
Two pound of strawberries with stems

  • Take a serving dish and cover it with was paper.
  • Wash the strawberries and let them dry on a kitchen towel.
  • Bring half a saucepan of water to boil and let it simmer.
  • Place a glass bowl on top of the pot to create a double boiler.
  • Break the chocolate bar into pieces in the glass bowl.
  • Stir it with a fork to melt it.
  • When it reaches a thick consistency with all the chocolate melted , dip the
    strawberry in it holding it by the stem.
  • Swirl the strawberry in the chocolate so that 2/3 rds of the strawberry is coated with
  • Place the strawberry on the wax paper covered plate.
  • If the chocolate gets a little thick add a tablespoon of milk to it.
  • Let the strawberries cool and refrigerate them for 24 hours before serving them.
As many foodies know, you cannot melt the chocolate on top of a stove. It results in burnt chocolate which cannot be used. Either use a double boiler or a microwave. I prefer the double boiler as the chocolate tends to harden if there is not a constant source of heat. Kids love it as a dessert and so do the adults. I have taken them to summer parties and made this as a dessert when I hosted potlucks, including the one tonight.

Continue reading: Potluck and Chocolate covered strawberries-A Happy combination....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Last Meal- A food fiction featuring my favorite dimer jhol

It had been six years since she had been home. Six years of stamping, finger printing and EADs and she longed for the smell of the mangoes in the backyard, the thorny lime tree just outside the kitchen window, and the warm smell of the custard apples floating in the air. She waited to hear the doorbell ring as she chopped the onions for the dimer jhol(egg curry) she was planning to cook for Kumar, her only sibling. He was coming home too to see her before she left for the States in the early morning flight. ‘It must be hard for him to live alone at the construction site in the jungles of Orissa.’, she thought. He was all grown up now. The last time she had seen him, he was a pimply teenager ready to leave home to conquer the world. He had always loved playing with empty matchboxes to build skyscrapers and bridges and was going to start college in a few months to be a civil engineer. While in the US , she worried about his food, who was cooking his favorite dimer jhol as Ma would never touch eggs. She had a separate stove to cook eggs and chicken and separate cooking utensils stored at the bottom of her pantry shelf. As she cooked for her family, she would have to process the onion, ginger and garlic together as her 5 year old daughter hated to chew onions. She longed to make the curry that Kumar relished every Saturday night for dinner.
This was a Saturday night too. Her plane was in a few hours. She still had to pack the chhena pora that Kumar was bringing for her. They both loved it and ate as much as they could when they visited Puri in their childhood years. She looked at the clock.” Ma, station e phone korle(Did you call the station?)” .She added the eggs into the boiling jhol and checked if the potatoes were almost done. She was browsing through the cookbook that Kumar had got her from his tutor’s income at the book fair 8 years back. She planned to make him a cauliflower pakoda too and was just mixing the batter when Ma shouted from the bedroom,.” Train du ghonta late, aattai pounchhobe.”(Train is 2 hours late, will reach at 8 pm.” She almost burst into tears as she switched off the stove. She had to leave for the airport at 11:30 pm. She sat down on the stool at the corner of the kitchen and wondered if she would get to share a meal with Kumar at all.

2 eggs
1 red onion chopped
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 small tomato chopped
2 small potatoes cubed
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon oil
Salt to taste
  • Boil the eggs and shell them.
  • In a wok heat the oil and fry the eggs till they are brown.
  • Remove the eggs and add the cubed potatoes.
  • When they turn brown , add the chopped onions and fry them with the potatoes.
  • When the onions turn translucent add the garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  • Add the turmeric and a little bit of water to coat the curry.
  • Then add ginger paste, chilli powder , salt and sugar and some more water.The sugar helps in bringing out all the flavors.
  • Cook till the gravy seems to leave the side of the wok.
  • Add tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.
  • Add a cup of water and let the mixture come to a boil.
  • Cook on medium heat till the potatoes are done.
  • Add the eggs and let it simmer for another minute.
  • Serve it with rice or roti.
This is my entry to the food fiction event 'Of Chalks and Chopsticks' hosted by Aquadaze. I was inspired by this post from Bong Mom This is the first recipe I learned to cook from my mom and as aptly titled -will be my last meal.

Continue reading: The Last Meal- A food fiction featuring my favorite dimer jhol...

Monday, April 19, 2010

A trip down south with all the gulfside delicacies

This post is a little different. I decided to talk about the various foods that we had an opportunity to taste while on our vacation. As the experimental cook that I am, I ave already made one of them.
The week before spring break came with the great news that I was going back to work again.I looked forward to spending three days by the sea, enjoying the splendid weather and of course the food. Pensacola is a part of the Perdido Keys and the people were very friendly. It was typical southern hospitality with the restaurant serving a lot of typical southern favorites. The first night we tasted the food at Crabs We Got 'Em . The food was as delicious as the amazing view of the Bay from the table. I tried the fried okra and it was crunchy and delicious with the right amount of spice in it. Another new thing that I ate that night was hushpuppies. They were both savory and sweet and I loved to eat them whereever I ate as them seem to be a standard side dish with your food down south.
The next afternoon , after a leisurely afternoon around the beach, we went to Crabs again for lunch. I decided to try the crab soup with sherry on the side. The sherry gives an extra kick to the soup which is otherwise bland. The plates of food were huge and based on our experience from the night before we decided to share a plate of seafood along with the soup. Everything was batter fried and it was too greasy and heavy for a lunch.
That night we hopped on to a restaurant on the other side facing the Pensacola Bay called the Flounder's Chowder House. They had a great Flounder Chowder which seemed to be there prized dish. My husband tried the flounder stuffed with crab cake. I found the dish too bland. While we were there , the manager suggested that we tried the Fish House in downtown Pensacola. The chef there makes a lot of fusion cuisine where he adds an Asian flair to the Gulf cuisine.
So next evening we decided to visit the Fish House, which is a regular haunt for locals. We sat outside, which is a raised platform just beside the water.The view was not that great but the food was. We tried many southern favorites like grits with gouda cheese, jambalaya and again soem fried okra. The okra was too bland here but the grits were awesome( why not, they had a bunch of calories in them). The fish had a Asian ginger sauce coating and was delicious.
The food was great, the weather fabulous-but the most important thing that I personally experienced was the southern hospitality. The people were friendly whereever we went and this added an extra charm to the vacation. The next week I made the fried okra at a party at home and it was a huge hit.

Continue reading: A trip down south with all the gulfside delicacies...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Salmon Paturi on the grill-A Bengali recipe gone cosmopolitan

Its been a hectic two weeks and blogging has been in the back of my mind. I was busy vacationing and had to host a party for 50 people.Last week was back to work and hence its been a while I have posted anything here. Now that spring is here, grilling is back in session. We have enjoyed, chicken burgers, shrimp fajitas with guacamole and margaritas. But my favorite has been Salmon Paturi which my brother-in-law Nilay cooked for us when he came to visit us last year. Paturi is very much like tamales where the main ingredient is cooked with a mustard sauce in banana leaves. Its one of the delicacies served in marraige receptions and in most cases the main ingredient being fish(mainly Hilsa or Bhetki). The main reason Hilsa or Bhetki is used as it has a lot of flavor. Since salmon is readily available here, I have used salmon as it has the same incredible flavor. I have tried it in the past but the flavor always does not come out as expected and the mustard sauce seems uncooked. Nilay added another step to the process and it turned out perfect. So enjoy this with just a bowl of basmati and you would have enjoyed a delectabl but simple meal.
1 pound of salmon cut into 5 long pieces.
1/2 cup mustard oil
1/2 cup yellow mustard
6-7 hot chilli pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

  • Soak the mustard for 15 minutes in a cup of water.
  • Drain the mustard and grind it with a pinch of salt and two chilli peppers.
  • Add the rest of the salt, turmeric, 1/4 cup mustard oil and a tablespoon of water to the ground mustard.
  • Cook the mustard in the microwave for 30 seonds. This is an important step as salmon and mustard sauce do not take the same time to cook.
  • In an alumium foil 6 inches by 6 inches long add a little of the paste and them top with salmon.
  • Add some more paste on top of the salmon.
  • Top it with a teaspoon of mustard oil and a horizontally slit chilli pepper and a few cilantro leaves.
  • Seal the salmon by folding the alumium foil in a packet.
  • Repeat the process for the rest of the four salmon pieces.
  • Heat the grill on high and then press the packets on the grill.
  • Turn the grill to a medium heat and let the salmon cook for 7 minutes on each side.
  • Open the foil and serve the salmon with rice.

My next post will be about southern food that I enjoyed in and around Pensacola Florida. I am hoping to reproduce some of the food that I ate there in the coming months.

Continue reading: Salmon Paturi on the grill-A Bengali recipe gone cosmopolitan...