Kitchen Faux Pas and the case of Spinach and Cauliflower Uttapam

Dear Didi and Daibi,

So it has been a year or more that we have touched this blog. Niloy says, google must have archived it because we have not updated it for a while…but I still found it on the first page of google which is not bad, right?!

So to start things again on this blog I thought I will share a simple recipe, which is a healthy take on a traditional recipe. Although I must say in my relentless efforts to cook healthy stuff I have ended up in quiet a few Faux Pas moments!  For instance, once I made apple muffins with super tiny amount of sugar. Once they were done and we tasted them, Niloy and I thought it needed more sweetness. So I decided to sprinkle them with some sugar granules. In Australia, the sugar and salt look very similar as they have almost the same size of granules. And at that time I had both sugar and salt in identical jars. So instead of sugar, I sprinkled the muffins with salt!! Niloy was to take them to office and I, with all my pride told him, “here are my lovely sugar kissed apple muffins for your colleagues!!” Later he called and told me that although everyone loved the muffins, some people commented, did your wife use salted butter?😛 And I realised my mistake!!! hahhahahahha…super funny!!

Then there was another time when I added parsnips and carrot in a sabudana khichdi. Some friends said that was sacrilege! Niloy has still not forgiven me for that!! Be it poha or maggi, I keep adding peas, corn, beans and carrots to everything possible and get kolkata style ‘cholbe na’ type protests from Niloy too! But I continue my journey of healthy cooking.

So this morning I made Spinach and Cauliflower uttapam from an Adai batter. 2015-09-03 14.53.01

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Plump Yellow Peppers stuffed with Ricotta & Potato

Plumpy peppers…a really old but all time favourite with all categories of people…I, for instance love to cut it into half and see all the juices and stuffing ooze out..it is a big favourite among Europeans and Latin Americans who use a variety of ingredients to make the stuffing. Different countries have different names for it…like Bharva Mirch (India), Pimiento Rellenos (Spain), Dolmah (Balkan Countries), Punjena (Croatia), Yemista (Greek), and so on and so forth…The common fillings used are ground meat, fish, cheese, potatoes, corn, rice and herbs. At times I stuff them with boiled eggs too.
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Oh and don’t you just love the colors??!!
Today am not posting a recipe…but just the pics of a very simple yet amazingly delicious dish..its my kinda comfort food🙂

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Shikampuri Kebab (stuffed meat tikki/patties)

As usual…..I did the vanishing act, again🙂 but have a good reason for that this time…Ma and Baba were here to stay with us in Melbourne…Oh! What a wonderful time we had together…visiting Tasmania where we went to Hobart, the 2nd oldest settlement of Australia and New Norfolk (a rusty old town rich in Antique shops dating back to World War II). We traveled a lot in the last few months, but in between I did cook..Baba and Ma, as you guys know, love variety and I wanted them to taste everything that isn’t easily available in India…from quails to new fish varieties like salmon, snapper, etc.., from veggies and fruits like fennel, butternut pumpkin, celery, persimmon,   to ‘strange’ foods like raw oysters and mussels. In the next few posts I will share some of the recipes I that I made for them.

To start with lemme write about Shikampuri Kebab. Now the Mughals are praised for bringing in the concept of kebab to India.  But it seems making kebab in different forms was a well-established tradition in India. The Rajputs made ‘Suley’ or smoked kebabs with the game meat they brought in from their hunting expeditions. To preserve the meat they would spice & pickle it and then cook it the next day over an open fire in the forest.  When the Mughals came, they brought in their version of the kebabs and introduced the use of dried fruit, fragrances such as rose and kewda and nuts with the meat.

Interesting eh?! Anyways, going back to the post, here is the recipe.

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No-Bake Sinful Dark Chocolate and Brandy Butter Pecan Tart

Didi, Daibi, where have you guys vanished??? Our dear blog and I are really sad and missing you two..your comments, your posts and your photographs!!😦😦 Please take out some time from your busy schedules and write to me…please…

Last week my in-laws left for Kolkata…they stayed with us for 2.5 months and we really had a ball with them!! Did you guys know, that my Mother-in-law is also an awesome cook?!? Kya mast mast things she made!! Gobhi samosa (that we baked), Shakkar Paarey or as the Bongs say, Goja; Tamatar ka Achar (Tomato Pickle); Bengali Style Mutton er Chop (Cutlets) and Fish Fry; Chocolate Pudding;  and numerous Bengali style veggies and curries!! For these last 2.5 months, really loads of cooking happened in my kitchen…I seldom do the Bengali regular meal of rice, daal (lentils), 1-2 veggies and a fish or chicken curry with some chutney or papod/bhaja/fritters. This is because, I think (and have successfully convinced Niloy too) that we have eaten this food all our lives and we will continue eating it once we are back in India. So it is better to try the veggies, fish, fruits and meats that are available here….cook world recipes from ingredients available here and try making Indian stuff from them too! What say?🙂

Anyways, today am putting up a recipe of a biscuit tart. Its really easy and it is fabulous in every way..I made it for my in-laws and they loved it! I have tried out many variations of this, so feel free to tweak the recipe as per your likes…

Sinful Dark Chocolate and Brandy Butter Pecan Tart

Sinful Dark Chocolate and Brandy Butter Pecan Tart

Strawberry Custard Tart

Strawberry Custard Tart

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Pan-seared Salmon, Fennel & Baby Potatoes with Orange Cheese Sauce

Dear Didi and Daibi,

Firstly I wish Happy New Year to you all and our readers. May 2014 be a fruitful and joyful year for each one of you. How are things that side? All well this side…a lot has happened since I last wrote to you two and yes, a lot of time has elapsed too since our last post….the reason simply being, all three of us got tied up…so tied up that we abandoned our blog…”Sorry dear blog that we left you again..will not give any lame excuse, but simply say sorry”.

2013 was a year of few, but very meaningful achievements for me…I have spent last year baking some really awesome cakes, launching my side-business of bespoke cakes called Cake-A-Two; visited a UNESCO World Heritage site in Tasmania that included the Cradle Mountain and Gordon River Wilderness; touched the edge of Southern Ocean in a 12.5 mtr speed boat (seeing water waves higher than the boat!); learning swimming & then snorkeling in the middle of the big blue Pacific Ocean; visiting India and spending some quality time with Ma and Baba; and then bringing my in-laws here with me to Melbourne. The snorkeling however was the best experience of 2013 for me!! You guys know about my water-phobia but the swimming classes and the Great Barrier Reef made me forget everything!! What a symphony of colors awaited us there….its truly unimaginable…we saw clown fish in the anemones, held some hard live corals in hand, did eeeeeeeee after touching sea cucumbers and swam with a green sea turtle! Aaah…I wish to go again🙂 Niloy Dutta, are you listening?😀

In terms of Food, I tried some new things last year…like Kangaroo, Crocodile, Emu, Quail and Blood Pudding ….but the Croc meat was the most surprising…you would think it would be chewy and rubbery considering its HARD SKIN…but no, quite the opposite…its a very tender white meat!!! Today I am writing this year’s first post with a fish recipe in keeping with the Bengali tradition to start good things with pheesh! I am hoping that this year brings happier moments for the blog and for each one of us. I used Florence fennel which has a mild fennel flavour as an accompaniment to the fish. You might not get it in Indian markets, so you can just flavour some green beans or broccoli with fennel seeds too or just do away with the fennel part of it.

Pan-fried Salmon, caramelised Fennel & Onion, butter-tossed Baby Potatoes with a Orange Cheese Sauce

Pan-seared Salmon, caramelised Fennel & Onion, butter-tossed Baby Potatoes with a Orange Cheese Sauce

Here is how I made it:

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Quick Fruit Cream Trifle with Blueberry and Kiwi

Woooooow Didi!! This is called coming back with a BANG!!! That No-bake Cheesecake looks as divine as the freshly made plate of Tagliatelle.  Am glad that you realised how easy pasta-making was…now-a-days I even make whole-wheat pasta and sometimes add boiled spinach or tomato puree for healthy & colorful versions! Last time I added few pinches of dried herbs and 1 tbsp of garlic juice to the dough…it tasted divine even in a simple white sauce😀

My dearest Rizimon’s kitchen interests are evidently increasing….Ma saw the post and remarked, ‘Seldom you see such a small kid engrossed in a kitchen activity!’  We are all very proud of him….Didi, you must post the B’day cake that he made for you too!! Oh and the Bengali Lunch spread that you put….its just marvelous!! The post immediately transported me back to Shantiniketan into your lavish kitchen and I imagined am sitting right there waiting to be served on that dining table!!! We do get most of the Indian veggies/spices in fresh or frozen forms….so I must replicate this for Niloy as he really misses such Bong spreads due to my year-round experimental cooking🙂😛

As you asked, I am finally sharing the Fruit Cream Trifle recipe that we were talking about a few days back. This is again a real simple recipe that you can make well in advance for your guests!

Fruit Cream Trifle with Blueberry and Kiwi

Fruit Cream Trifle with Blueberry and Kiwi

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Quick Mango Pancakes for a school-day breakfast

Dearest Dakhina,

Yesterday it rained so much that we were confined to the house in the evening and Riz couldn’t play football, so we whiled away some time by watching a food programme. In a diner somewhere in the American hinterland, a portly chef was turning out fluffy pancakes literally swimming in butter. And Riz, being a true gourmand in the making, ordered his personal chef, obviously me, to make some for him right away. It was with difficulty I convinced him that pancakes always tasted better in the morning . A fact which I thoroughly rued come breakfast time, early next morning. Since when did evasion tactics turn into a “promise”! Six thirty in the morning, there I was armed with an egg whisk and ladle. Images of the butter drenched pancakes from last evening churning my stomach. I dared not emulate that, even with Riz continually trying to convince me that pancakes couldn’t be made without loads of butter. So after a quick think I decided to cut the fat and add some fruit to turn up a healthier and tasty version. “Yummy” was what my son pronounced between mouthfuls. Quick, easy, with no butter at all, my version turned out just as I wanted them…. delicious, flavourful and soft soft soft.

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