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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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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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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No-Bake Vegetarian Cheesecake with Kiwi and Mango

Dear Dakhina,

Yes, it’s been a while since I visited the by-lanes of curry-cousin land, and how I have missed the heady aroma of recipes …. A strange mix of circumstances have prevented me from taking a more active part. Time has just flown, and in a blink of an eye, days have turned into weeks . Meanwhile my little sister has tackled her food demons and come out a winner. Iced cakes, jams, preserves, and even your own food business.. I couldn’t be more proud of you. Yes, I’m definitely trying to sweet talk you into forgiving me . And as an atonement for deserting you, I am making a comeback with a dessert! And not just any old dessert, but a deliciously divine vegetarian cheesecake with yummy fruit.

An interesting thing about this cheesecake is that it is made with home made ingredients that I have substituted for conventional store bought ones. You know here we don’t get cream cheese or mascarpone or just about anything! After this recipe you could call me the queen of substitutions ! Also instead of a large single cake I have made individual servings. You can divide or multiply the ingredients according to your need.

No-Bake Vegetarian Cheesecakes

No-Bake Vegetarian Cheesecakes

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Feta & Spinach Cannelloni in White beans and Veggie Sauce

Dear Cousins!!

How have you been?? I know you both are busy doing things like preparing for a “school final exams” or celebrating Home Alone with Old Monk Rum, Whiskey and Friends!! Didi, you must be working very hard with Rizimon coz according to you, he doesn’t know anything or rather he is totally unprepared for his exams, right? At times like these, I keep wondering why many parents (even ours were no better) think that only their own child is the biggest ‘phankibaaj’ (someone who willingly avoids regular work) in the world and all the other children are all-rounders!! To this you would say, ‘Ruk, tere bachche honey dey (wait till you get your kids)!!” And I would reply, “Abhi toh nahi hai, toh gyan baantne do 😛 (I don’t have any now, so lemme impart some wise lines)!!” hehehheehee! Anyways Didi, jokes apart, how are Rizimon’s exams going on?

Daibi, you were here with me for a month….we talked and ate so much and even had our fights! Together we watched in awe Serena Williams decimating Maria Kirilenko and Milos Raonic giving a tough time to God of Tennis, Roger Federer but loosing at the end! We visited an Australian farm where we spent hours scouring a 100 acres property to find Kangaroos and ate some awesome Australian style farm food!! We learnt about walnut and chestnut trees and watched a 72+ man doing hard labour for 15 hrs in the heat (gosh that heat…I will complain about it in my next letter)!! What an inspiration Phillip was for us! In India, most people mentally retire when they retire from work at 60.  They spend their time after that worrying about their children, dreaming of grandchildren and slowly become rusty.  Whereas here people seem to be young even at 85! I tell you, its all in the head and heart! Anyways, so what I wanted to say was that I had a great time with you and now that you are gone, I miss you…..I don’t feel like cooking so much either..hence today am writing about a recipe that I cooked for you – the Feta and Spinach Cannelloni in my version of the sauce!

Spinach and Feta Cannelloni in Lima beans and Veggie Sauce

Spinach and Feta Cannelloni in White beans and Veggie Sauce

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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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