Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas fruit cake..


Every festivity brings a wonderful feeling of merriment, joy and happiness and above all a feeling of togetherness which is beyond any religious faith and belief. Christmas is no exception. Everything feels so special during this time.  The little one writing a list for Santa without showing it to me and I'm trying my best to sneak around to know what's in the list. Decorating the Christmas tree, buying new decorations are so much fun.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Homemade Sprinkles...



Making something at home instead of buying it from store gives me immense satisfaction. It may sound pointless to many, why do I need to make something which is easily available at stores. But the creative satisfaction that I derive motivates me to take that challenge. This time I made colorful sprinkles, that we use to decorate cakes, cupcakes and cookies. During this festive season, when baking is almost a daily activity, sprinkles are a common requisite. So I thought to make some myself. And thankfully got some wonderful ideas. I tried and adjusted the recipes to suit me. The little one is the house was super excited and volunteered to be my hand model, all she asked for was to lick the bowl of the chocolate. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Coffee cake with coffee glaze..


Christmas and the holiday season brings joy and happiness. The crisp chill in the air adds to the feeling. Shops are now stocked with cakes & Christmas decorations. Streets are getting decked up with lights. It's great to see how we all overcome the barrier of religion to celebrate every single occasion in Kolkata. The parks, zoo, museum and gardens in and around the city gets the highest foot fall during this time. The most common sight during this season is of course the picnickers enjoying the winter sun and food with friends and family.  As we celebrate Christmas, we also celebrate winter in Kolkata. People of Kolkata enjoy relief from the hot and humid weather during this brief period of 2 months.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Honey n oats whole wheat bread


If you are regular to my blog you know how much I enjoy baking, specially breads. Proofing, mixing, rising, baking, the entire process makes me feel relaxed. This time I baked a whole wheat bread. You may have heard baking a whole wheat bread is tougher than a baking white flour bread. What's so different about whole wheat flour and white flour. The answer lies in a single word 'gluten', to understand the flour one should understand what gluten is.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pressure cooker chicken curry...


I prefer to spend the weekends either relaxing with my family or just to have some precious me time. Doing nothing and sitting with a cup of coffee or tea is such a bliss, a rare thing that happens but I look for those priceless moments. Throughout the week following a routine is so tedious, and repeating the mandatory chores is so irksome. So I make it point to switch off the alarm on my phone for the weekends,though the body clock always betrays me and I end up tossing and turning on my bed at 5 in the morning while the man and the kid sleep peacefully. I mostly tip toe around the house and sip the hot cup of tea alone and enjoy the perfect me time. Yes we do go out, meet family members, party with friends but also enjoy the rejuvenating lazy weekends.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How do I plan my food shots...

Many a times I have been asked how do I plan my food shots and about the technical details of the shots. Before I talk about these,  I must confess that I have no training in photography. I have always loved the idea of taking pictures, as pictures are the only way to freeze a moment forever. My first inspiration is my father.
Baba had a Konica film SLR camera. He used to take it out for special occasions and during our annual travels. I used to nag to let him give the camera to me so I can take pictures just like him. Those were days when there were only analog cameras,  there was no way to check the image or delete an image once you have taken it. Good or bad you have to take it. And you would only come to know whether it's good or bad after you develop the films,  both buying and developing the film was quite costly. Still Baba used to let me hold his camera. He used to prompt me how should I check the metering through the view finder before I click, and I still remember how he used to warn me not to touch the circular knob to adjust ISO. 'Keep to 100, do not move it', that used his strict instruction. And now when I show him a night shot using my Nikon which permits an ISO high as 12800, he nods his head with surprise.

With the new age digital photography, it has now become so easy to take a picture, everybody can take a picture. Even my 5 year old niece is taking pictures with her mother's phone. You click, you check, if you do not like it delete it, click again, things are so simple.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Postor Bora..


What is food? something we take when we feel hungry? or something we can't resist even if we are full? or as my nine year old is prompting me " Ma, food is something we need to take for growth and energy" (her science class influence of course).

I think food is beyond and above all these definitions. It's not only calms down the hungry rat rumbling inside our stomach but much more than that. Food is something that satisfies our soul, it's a memory that lingers throughout our life, a taste from childhood, an aroma that triggers thousands emotions, that evokes the memory of someone very close to you, making them and the moment immortal.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Narkel Naru...


If you have read my last post you know how late I was while posting something that was meant for the occasion of Bijoya Dashami and finally ended up posting just before Diwali. The last post was about salty crackers great for serving with tea or coffee. While making those diamond shaped crispy crackers I felt the need for something sweet to balance it. What else would be perfect but the Bengali special Narkel Naru or coconut laddu as the traditional counter part of nimki. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Nimki...


I'm late, horribly late. A post that I wanted to share with you all during Bijoya Dahsami or Dushera, I'm writing it now, a day before Diwali. Sometimes I get busy with so many other things in life that blogging takes a back seat. All other priorities, family, friends and health always come first. But this time it was me and my laziness. May be it was the Pujo hangover. I'm still reeling with all the fun and gossip we did.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Rice pudding with date palm jaggery...


'Durga Puja' is the biggest festival for us Bengalis around the world. The idol of Goddess Durga defeating the demon 'Mahisasura' which is worshiped during the five day long celebration is the true representation of feminine power where the divine mother is saving everyone from the evil demon. The Goddess is also worshiped all over India and the celebration is famously known as Navaratri, where nine days of fasting and swatwik food is taken as ritual.

In Bengal Goddess Durga is more like a daughter, who visits her father's place along with her children. During the five days of the festival Goddess Durga is worshiped along with her children, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Karthik and Saraswati. And this is the reason all the daughters till date long to go to her father's place during this time and most of them do so. Goddess Durga is more than a deity here, she is like the daughter in the family who stays away with her husband and gets a chance to meet her parents for these five days.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Everyday Bread...


Baking bread at home is easy and simple. Flour, water, salt and a leavening agent are the ingredients needed to make a bread and are easily available, The most commonly used leavening agent is yeast. I use active dry yeast, that's the easiest option for any home baker.

I love freshly baked bread and hence I bake often at home. I thoroughly enjoy the process of bread making, from mixing, kneading, rising to baking and serving it to my family. Previously I used to knead the dough by hand, which is of course time consuming and laborious. Last year I got a gift from my husband, a KitchenAid stand mixer, and my bread making ventures are thus more frequent and with ease.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nolen gurer ice cream...



I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream. When it comes to ice cream age is no bar, we all love it. I have been trying my hand on ice cream making for last few months, but never got satisfactory result till now. The texture, the smoothness, that I was looking for wasn't really there. Lot of research to find the reason took me to a detailed discussion on ice cream making on thekitchn.com and I tried the eggless version. It came out really good. So here it is, my two cents on ice cream making from all the trial and errors that I went through.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How to make a simple vanilla cake...


Today I'm going to share a simple basic recipe for making a vanilla cake. A recipe that can be followed by anyone. For a long time I have been requested to post this but haven't done it till date. Though I bake this cake at least thrice a month as a snack for my kid. It is so easy and simple that my nine year old knows how to do it. 

This is the recipe I have seen my mother and aunts use while baking cakes in winter. It was like a ritual in our house to bake at least one cake during our winter break. I remember it was such a exciting day for us. It was more of an event. We used to announce with pride to our friends "today Ma's going to bake a cake, so we can't join you to play badminton this morning". Badminton, oranges and cake were such integral part of our winter days.

Coming back to the cake, there was an electric oven to bake the cake, a small round shaped aluminium  oven with flat top and bottom with a glass top from where you can see the cake rising. It was my father's duty to take out the oven from its box. Yes, it used to be kept in its original box throughout the year waiting to be used during winter for our family celebration of Christmas and new year.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Chapor ghonto...


Few days back I saw a meme that stated 'Vegetarian Bengali is a Myth'. My reaction was "are you kidding me!!!!". Really.. have you ever heard about aloo posto (Potato cooked with poppy seed), sukto (a bitter sweet vegetable stew), ghonto (vegetable mishmash), chochori (stir fried vegetables), the list is endless.
Unfortunately, Bengalis are universally labeled with mach-bhat (fish and rice) along with few cliche sweets like rosogolla and misti doi. Ask any celebrity outside Bengal they will try to say 'ami misti doi khete bhalobasi' (I love having sweet yogurt) in an obnoxious accent. I can ignore these useless attempt to win hearts by saying something that's written  either by their PR agencies or else said to increase their fan following. But when one call himself a 'Bong' and states that there is no such Bengali who follows vegetarian diet makes me think how much knowledge this new generation have about our rich food culture, and what makes them so irresponsible to make a comment in public forum and which gives a complete wrong conception about Bengali food.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Soba noodle bowl and passion of photography...

This post is going to be a bit different than my other posts. This will be more about my passion for food photography than the usual recipe posts I share. Don't worry, there is a recipe at the end,but I would like to call this one 'The monologue of a self taught food photographer'.

For last few weeks I was planning to add some movement, action and human touch to my food photos. But planning and execution are two different things, specially for a self taught photographer like me.

Whatever knowledge I have gathered about food photography is because of my food blog. During the course of shooting the food I cook, I have managed to understand and learn different aspects of food photography and there is so much yet to learn.

For me experimenting with the camera is the best way to learn. And I enjoy it immensely. I feel super enthusiastic about trying anything new, it gives me a rush, it is like a quest to do something I haven't done earlier.

While looking at a food photo, I  am always intrigued to get a feel of the story in it. Being a hardcore foodie and food lover, I think incorporating sense of movements like mixing the batter, or pouring sauce or holding a bowl of soup in a food photo brings out an emotion, it tells a story and that is what I love and want to share. I have shot a few like that previously, but all were very amateurish and I find them awful when I see those images now.

I am my worse critic, and I compare myself with the past me. The images I have taken earlier and now shows me it is an evolving process for a self taught food photographer. Photography in general needs planning and lots of trial. Sometimes it's frustrating but "never give up" is the mantra and above all enjoying your work is the fuel to keep on going. So I placed the camera on tripod, arranged a glass, a bottle and some orange juice and started. I tried a pouring shot. If you follow me on Instagram or like my Facebook page you have already seen the following image.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lentil with lime leaves...


Yesterday I prepared a simple dal for lunch, a typical Bengali lentil soup, but something that turned it special. The dal was flavored with the leaves of Gondhoraaj lebu. Gondhoraaj literally means king of aroma and it is native to Bengal. These are somewhat similar to kaffir lime. From a welcome drink to main course to desserts, these elongated thick skinned large limes work wonder. Usually these limes are cut lengthwise into wedges and served along with Bengali meals, either a simple dal or a spicy bowl of mutton curry, it uplifts every single dish.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sandesh...


I'm not an expert when it comes to cook in microwave, I mean solely using the micro feature. Grilling and the convection mode are frequently used but the microwave mode is only used for re-heating food in my house. It works wonder when I need to dehydrate herbs or to blanch almonds.

So when Indrani a co-blogger and a member of Kolkata food blogger announced an event to cook something using microwave and solely microwave not the grilling or convection option, my first thought was  that I need to pass this. But before saying 'quit' I gave it a little thought and came up with this very simple easy idea of making sandesh in microwave. I make sandesh very often to lure my kid to eat homemade cottage cheese or chana, which is  usually  falls in her "reject" category.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thai red curry noodle soup..


What to cook? is a more difficult question for me than who landed  a rover on Mars, specially for weekday dinner. Someday you do not feel like picking up the knife, pots and pans and to cook. Eating out may be a solution, but I avoid that on weekdays as much as possible and try my best to prepare something fresh and healthy for my kid.

To do this, I usually plan ahead. During weekend, I plan for the weekdays meal, and it really helps. I buy things accordingly on  the weekend and stick to my plan. Yes, at times I  do slip,  may be due to health issues or just lack of energy. But mostly I  try to follow my laid out plan.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Lauki kofta...


Koftas generally refer to meatballs made of minced meat of beef, lamb or chicken are mixed with spices shaped to round balls and are fried. Unlike middle eastern and central asian cuisine,  you can find many vegetarian varieties of kofta too in Indian cuisine. Potato, paneer, banana, bottle gourd etc are mashed or grated to make koftas. These koftas are then dunked in a  flavourful and spicy gravy to prepare a delicious curry. Kofta curries are very popular in India, be it veg or non-veg.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Harissa grilled prawns...


I love seafood, specially prawns and crabs. So when I saw fresh tiger prawns in the market, happily bought a bagful of those beauties. I usually prepare prawns in traditional Bengali way or try to do something very simple. This time, I marinated the prawns in some freshly made harissa paste and grilled them.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Chicken pulao...


Last week was a difficult one for me. The minor surgery I had to undergo resulted in restrictions in movement and thus my daily routine. Never mind the associated pain, missing a planned dine out with my friends due to this was more agonizing. But as the saying goes - everything has it's silver lining, I managed to get an uninterrupted break with the support of pain killers and other meds. The man was in charge of the kitchen and other household works. I enjoyed the egg curry for lunch and some not so round paratha for dinner. Yes, being sick now and then is not so bad after all. So this Sunday it was my turn to treat him and of course my little one who relentlessly tried her best to help me and comfort me in her small little ways.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Fish in mustard sauce...


Fishes are an integral part of the daily diet of people of Bengal. The geographical attributes of Bengal is the reason behind fish being the part of the cuisine. Being a state with many rivers running through it, multiple fresh water ponds and lakes along with a  long coastal region, fishes are available in abundance. So from ages we Bengalis' are eating various kind of fishes and now it's a  part of tradition and most of us can't think about a meal without fish. Today I'm sharing a quintessential Bengali dish and an all time favorite in my family, Sorse bata diye pabda mach, which translates to Pabda fish in mustard sauce.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dal and Achari bhindi...


This year the summer is showing it's rage to the people of Kolkata. It was officially spring when it started feeling like mid of summer here. I don't remember when was the last time I experienced this kind of terrible heat for such a long stretch of time, without any rain or the usual respite of 'Kalboishakhi' (the nor'wester). Many schools have declared holiday due to this adverse weather.

Due to this weather kitchen is one place I dread to step in. I'm relying  more on fruits, yogurt, juices to avoid working in the kitchen for long duration. For lunch or dinner I am sticking to simple and quick to cook dishes.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Chanar dalna...


Chanar dalna is a popular Bengali delicacy. It is made from homemade cottage cheese or Chana. This delicious curry is prepared without using any onion and garlic, for that this is often made during auspicious occasions like puja when eating non-vegetarian food including onion garlic is prohibited. I do not need any special occasion to make this curry. My daughter loves this and I often make this for her. While making this for regular family lunch or dinner I keep the curry simple, but to celebrate a special occasions and entertaining guests I add almond and cashew nut paste to the curry and that makes the gravy extra special, thick, creamy and finger licking good. I also add cubed potatoes to the curry, as no curry is complete for a Bong sans the potato. When fresh green peas are in season I also like to add a handful of green peas to the chanar dalna.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Tandoori spiced grilled whole fish...


Bhetki is a popular fish in Bengal, which is commonly known worldwide as barramundi or Asian sea bass. The white flaky flavorful fish is cooked in many different ways in a Bengali kitchen. Sorse bhetki (bhetki fish cooked in mustard gravy), kalia (spicy fish curry), bhetki with cauliflower are few common dishes conjured up in Bengali households. Special dishes like Bengali style fish fry, paturi (fish cooked in mustard paste wrapped in banana leaf) are very popular and frequently served in specialty restaurants and during special occasions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Red lentil with Bengali five spice...


Today I'm sharing a simple everyday dish from my kitchen. Lentil or dal is a staple in every Indian kitchen. We Indians eat various kind of lentils and legumes. I personally like red lentil a lot. Apart from red lentil takes very little time to cook, it is tasty, high in nutrition and low in calorie.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cheese n herb bread...


Whenever I want to unwind or relax, I bake. Measuring all the ingredients, mixing them and finally when the aroma of the freshly baked bread or cake or cookies fills the room it feels magical. Research says baking satisfies our creative needs as well as all the processes involved in baking soothes our senses and releases some of our tension. For me baking a loaf of bread is the best cure for my blues.

Many are intimidated by baking bread at home. But in fact baking bread at home is much cheaper and very easy. Like anything you haven't tried before baking bread may sound daunting. But once you overcome the first barrier there is no looking back. I started 5 years ago and I bake at least one bread a week.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Guacamole...


Now a days avocado is very popular among health conscious people. I was first introduced to this nutritious fruit during my stay in Texas. I still remember how unimpressive the green mash looked, when the restaurant guy placed a bowl of guacamole, but the taste was exactly the opposite. After coming back home I read a lot about avocado and came to know how good it is for our health.

Avocado can be consumed in many different ways, the easiest one is to make a bowl of guacamole. Those who are frequent to Mexican restaurants must be familiar with guacamole. It is nothing but mashed ripe avocado with seasonings. The best part of guacamole is one does not need to cook anything. This no cook super food can be ready in a jiffy. I use tabasco sauce to bring the heat to the guacamole, but green chilies or jalapenos can be also added instead. Guacamole can be served with tortilla chips as dip, or as sandwich spread. It is advisable to make guacamole fresh, as avocado when comes in contact to air turns dull brown in color. If you need to store excess guacamole, cover the surface with a cling film and store in the refrigerator.

The most difficult thing about avocado is to buy a good one.  I guess you know what I'm saying, standing in front of the avocado filled basket in a market and judging which one is perfectly ripe is not easy. The other problem one may face is during cutting this fruit, but that will be only for the first time. And in this age of google and youtube you can search and do almost anything by yourself without asking for help. After all cooking is not rocket science, all you need is a little love.

Unfortunately I do not get good quality avocado in Kolkata. Even if they are available,  the price is exorbitantly high. I really miss avocados. The images here are from a long pending draft that I prepared years back. 


Things needed to make guacamole:


  • Avocado (preferably hass avocado): 2
  • Onion (finely chopped): 2 tbsp
  • Garlic powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Honey: 1-2 tbsp
  • Tabasco: 1-2 tsp
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp
  • Fresh coriander: 2-3 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper powder: a pinch

Steps of making guacamole:

1. Cut the avocado lengthwise, twist to open the fruit. Discard the brown seed. With the help of a spoon take out the flesh. Mash the green flesh with a forck.

2. Add all the other ingredients, mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, sweetness accordingly. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.


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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

No recipe chicken curry...


Chicken curry is the most frequently cooked dish in my kitchen. Mostly I follow the recipe I have learnt from my mom. Sometimes I try my hand on restaurant style dishes. But last Sunday I was not in a mood to follow any recipes, that's the reason I call it a 'no recipe' chicken curry. I just kept on cooking from my mind. I slow cooked the chicken and did not add any extra water. I let the chicken cook in it's own water and at the end added a handful of fresh coriander to give the dish a special touch. The end result was a scrumptious bowl of chicken curry, loved by all in my family. So before I forget what I put in that curry let me share it with you all.


Things needed to make the chicken curry:

  • Chicken on bones ( a whole chicken cut into 12-14 pieces)
  • Onion (very thinly sliced): 2 cups
  • Garlic: 7-8 cloves
  • Tomato: 1 (large)
  • Ginger (grated): 2 tbsp
  • Green chili: 2-3
  • Green cardamom: 2-3
  • Cinnamon: 1 stick
  • Cloves: 4-5
  • Shah jeera or Black Cumin: 1 tsp
  • Black peppercorns: 10-12
  • Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 1tsp
  • Cumin powder: 2tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1tsp
  • Coriander leaves: 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Potato: cubed and fried (optional)
  • Mustard oil or olive oil to cook

Steps of making the chicken curry:


1. Clean and wash the chicken pieces.

2. Make a paste of garlic, ginger, tomato and green chili, keep aside.

3. In a large heavy bottom pan or kadhai heat 3 table spoons of oil. I used mustard oil, that gives a different taste to the dish. Olive oil can also be used. When the oil is hot add the sugar and let it caramelize. This will give the curry a nice color.

4. Add the whole spices, as the cloves splutter add thinly sliced onion. Fry the onion till brown.

5. Add the chicken pieces, cook the chicken with the onion over high heat for 7-8 min. Keep turning the chicken pieces.

6. Reduce heat add the ginger-garlic-tomato paste. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 min.

7. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, kashmiri red chili powder, salt, mix well. Cover and cook over low medium heat for 40-45 min. Keep stirring in between. The chicken will cook in it's own water. I did not add any extra water. Check the salt, adjust accordingly. If you like your curry to be spicy add stilted green chilies. Add garam masala powder and chopped fresh coriander. Serve hot with rice or roti.

Note: If you want to add potato to this curry, peel and cube the potato and fry them. Add the fried potato pieces 10 min before the curry is done.


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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Gajar halwa...


Hope you all have started the new year with a bang. Though I know its  a week late, but it's never late to wish you all a very happy new year.

It's the first post of this year and I think it's apt to begin with a sweet note. Hope this year I will be more regular on  putting up blog updates and sharing delicious recipes with you all.

Today I'm sharing a very popular dessert recipe, gajar halwa or carrot halwa, a famous sweet dish from North India. I make this very often at home, specially during winter when juicy red carrots are in season. The recipe is simple and requires only few ingredients. I use milk powder or grated mawa (unsweetened solidified milk) whichever available with me at the end to give the halwa a rich texture, this step though is optional.



Things needed to make Gajar Halwa:

(serves 2-3)
  • Carrots (grated): 2 cups
  • Whole milk: 1 and 1/2 cup
  • Ghee: 1 tbsp
  • Green cardamom: 2-3
  • Sugar: 6-8 tbsp
  • Milk powder: 3 tbsp
  • Raisins: 15-20 (soaked in water)
  • Almonds blanched and thinly sliced: 2 tbsp
  • Pistachio blanched and thinly sliced: 1 tbsp


Steps of making Gajar Halwa:

1. Clean and wash the carrots. Peel the carrots and grate.

2. In a heavy bottom pan heat ghee, when hot add crushed green cardamoms. Cook for 1 min. Add the grated carrot. Mix well, cook over medium heat for 3-4 min, keep stirring.

3. Add warm milk and cook till the milk is almost dry. Keep stirring in between. Add sugar, start with 6 tablespoons of sugar, add more depending on your taste.

4. Add the milk powder. You can add unsweetened mawa (solidified milk) instead of milk powder. Mix well. Cook till the mixture dries, keep stirring. Add the sliced nuts and raisins.

5. Transfer to serving bowl, garnish with almonds and pistachio. This can be serve either hot or cold. I prefer mine hot.


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