Some new posts and a big hello!!

Hi Didi and Daibi,

This last one year we haven’t posted anything on our Blog. But obviously that doesn’t mean we haven’t cooked or enjoyed experimenting new foods or recipes! We all have just been a bit lazy…ok very lazy and have been posting things directly on Facebook instead of writing here. As we are getting busier by the day in our lives, none of us had the time to cook or do elaborate things. So many of our recent recipes are simple to cook dishes with hacks to simplify complicated processes.

I am consolidating all those posts from Facebook, here to continue the tryst we made with this blog.

  1. Chicken and Cheese Quiche – click here 
  2. Burgundy Lamb Cutlets with a Wine Reduction Sauce, Creamy Pea Mash and Grilled Sweet Potatoes – click here 
  3. Raw Mango, Peanut and Mint Chutney; Quick Raw Mango Pickle; Sweet and Tangy Pickle with Raw Mango & Raisins – click here 
  4. 5 Spice Poached Chicken and Rice Noodles in a Spicy Broth garnished with a Tangy Wombok Salad – click here 
  5. Beetroot and Vodka cured Salmon with Avocado and Spring Onion Salad – click here 
  6. Dates, Figs and Nuts Log – click here 
  7. Mirin and Sake Chicken Balls in a Red Miso broth made with Shitake mushrooms and Kombu, served with Pickled Carrots and Nori Strips – click here 
  8. Blue Cheese and Mushroom Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower – click here 
  9. Bangladeshi Dum Illish (Slow-cooked Hilsa Fish) – click here 

Now that’s called a recap of the lovely dishes we made in the last months 🙂

Enjoy and let’s start again!!

Lots of love to you two,

Dakhina

 

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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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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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A Bengali lunch with Moong Dal, Vegetable Charchari,Chicken Curry & Pineapple Chutney

Dear Dakhina,

Now that you live so far away and rarely get the typical Bengali summer vegetables like potol (butter gourd)or jhinge (ridge gourd), do you crave our traditional dishes? If I were in your position I know I would. World cuisine is great but when it comes to comfort food, nothing beats the kind of food our mums make. There was a time right after I got married, when I didn’t know even the basics of Bengali cooking. I knew how to cook non Indian food, while ma had always been in charge of the traditional stuff. Hence, after marriage, most days, come cooking time, I could be found calling up ma long distance, asking for help! It took me years to learn how to make traditional dishes. Meanwhile, Prasanta had to endure watery, tasteless, sometimes burnt, and many times simply inedible food. Innumerable times I have put the rice pan on to boil and simply forgot all about it, till the whole house reeking of charred rice acted a s a rude reminder!
I think I have come a long way since then, although I still burn food quite regularly. That is, I guess my Achilles heel 🙂
Today I wish to share with you a typical regular Bengali lunch menu, which usually starts with a bitter dish called Shukto, lentil dish (dal), a vegetable dish and a non vegetarian dish, which could be fish, meat or eggs in curry form. There are usually accompaniments like fried aubergines. But as we were expecting guests I didn’t make bitter or deep-fried stuff, because it isn’t to everyone’s taste. And to finish the meal we serve a sweet-sour chutney, I made pineapple chutney, which acts as a palate cleanser before the sweet dish without which no Bengali meal is complete. (Today the sweet dish was store bought so it doesn’t feature in this post).

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Bengali Soru Chokli (Rice Flour Pancakes with Zucchini or Calabash/Bottle Gourd) & PatiShapta Pitha

Dear Cousins,

(I am a bit late in writing this post coz Makar Sankranti has long gone..but nevertheless, please read it :D)

As you know mid of January is the time for celebrations all over India.  Between 13th Jan to 16th Jan, numerous festivals like Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Pongal, Magh Bihu, Uttarayan, etc. are celebrated all over India by various communities. Since India is primarily an agricultural country, many of its festivals coincide with important dates of sowing and harvesting.  Mid of Jan marks the end of winter and beginning of spring in most of the Indian calendars (different from the Gregorian Calender).  Now like all festivals around the world which mean food, family and more food, these festivals too are heavy of food and emphasise family unions.  For 2 consecutive years, I have had the privilege of being in Purulia, Ma and Baba’s hometown, during Makar Sankranti which enabled me to gorge on loads and loads of different varieties of Pithas, the traditional dish for this festival and understand the family rituals around it!! In Indian states like Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand, sweet and savory versions of Pithas are a common sight in most households on this day.

At home in Delhi, Baba and Ma try to make some every year but in small quantities; so when I was at my relatives’ the sheer amount of stuff being made startled me!! Choto Mamima (Ma’s younger brother’s wife) says that on an average in a family of four, 4-5 kgs of Parboiled and Normal Rice is used along with 3-4 kgs of Jaggery, 3-4 fresh Coconuts and 1-2 kgs of Sesame Seeds for making sweet pithas during this time.  There are also savory pithas made of Lau (bottle gourd), Seem (flat beans) and cabbage.  In joint-families the amounts simply double as there are more hands for moulding the pithas.  Sometimes, if relatives are not around, friends and neighbours extend helping hands to each other to create massive mounds of Pithas!!  Hence in every way the festival is an opportunity to meet, gossip and bond over food.

The sweet varieties like Sheddo Pitha, Puli Pitha, Gokul Pitha, Moong Puli are awesome but I have never tried making them (maybe next year!); so I made the most easy one – the Pati Shapta. For savories, I made the Lau Soru Chokli and I tell you, they were yuuummm!!

Pati Shapta

Pati Shapta

Zucchini Soru Chokli

Zucchini Soru Chokli

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Healthy Street Foods & Snacks of India!

Dear Cousins! Happy New Year!! Well I know its a bit late for New Year wishes..but well it is the new year & so no harm if I wish all of our readers a very prosperous 2013…

All three of us had some amazing moments in the last few weeks of the year 2012 which were loaded with relaxing holidays, including my stay with you didi(Ushmita) at Shantiniketan in Bengal, the post on my ‘Shantiniketan Poush Mela Visit’ will follow soon (if you guys get my meaning of soon!!), non-stop chatter with family & friends, celebrations, lots of photography and of course, gorgeous, lovely food!!

2013 then began with all of us devising new year resolutions. The first one, as it is every year is, that we will eat healthy and stay healthy (18 days have gone by and no exercise regimes have started yet!!).  So instead of writing about the amazing array of foods I have already had in this new year, I am starting with a post on origins and health benefits of Indian spices and food.

Over the past 3-4 weeks during my travels personally and as part of DelhiByFoot across Western & Eastern parts of India, I have been wondering on some fundamentals of food, especially, the question of ‘Why we eat, what we eat’?

Pyaaz Kachori and Aloo Subzee, is a favourite snack of North and West India and reflects a perfect blend of digestive spices and good carbs

Pyaaz Kachori and Aloo Subzee, is a favourite snack of North and West India and reflects a perfect blend of digestive spices and good carbs

So definitely nature has a role to play in that, as our food habits are governed by the topography, vegetation and climatic conditions of a region. For example coastal areas like South-East Asian countries or the various island countries like Mauritius or the Caribbeans  have abundant rice, sea-food and coconut dishes.  Or in colder regions like Europe or Canada where there is a dearth of cultivable land for producing grains or certain variety of fruits, cured or preserved meat and vegetables are eaten. The Americas, have abundance of big game like bison, caribou and wild ox, so they love their chunks of fresh or preserved meats.

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My Nine Year Old’s Superfast Rava Uttapam (Savory Semolina Pancakes)

Dear Cousins,

Yesterday was Sunday and my baby ( he will be mad at me for calling him that he is after all nine!) son, Riz Rishi made us breakfast…all on his own!

How terribly proud I felt as I hovered around like a clucking mother hen, while my boy shooed me away. He chopped onions and tomatoes on his own, even mixed the batter and adjusting the seasoning like a pro. It was so immensely satisfying to watch those small fingers wield the knife, as he told me how to chop tomatoes the best way…and how he loved to eat tortillas better than omelettes.  Tell me did we ever know the difference till a few years back! As I clicked away at him cooking, he even had the time to pose and smile…nothing harrowed about Mr. Suave.

Uttapam by my lil 9 yr old!

Uttapam by my lil 9 yr old!

He made us the fluffiest, tastiest Uttapam’s that we have ever eaten. and I am not saying that because I am the Proudest Mama in the world!

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