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-seared Salmon, caramelised Fennel & Onion, butter-tossed Baby Potatoes with a Orange Cheese Sauce
Here is how I made it:
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
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.
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).
I have been looking at the pictures of your Delhi by Foot walks, posted on Facebook. They show how Delhi is such a study in contrast, on one hand it is the epitome of the brash, unapologetically “in your face” new India and at the same time it is a continuity of a living tradition, a simultaneously co-existing palpable past. The upcoming Delhi By Nite: Ghost Tales & Shadows of Dilli on Saturday, 20th July, sounds so unusual and promises to give an out of the box experience . And I am sure “The City of Djinns” will provide ample spine-chilling material….how I wish I could be a part of this, you must give us a similar tour when we come there.
I may live far away, but I am a die hard Delhiite. It still is my go- to city for shopping, for food, for losing myself in history. It is the place where I have left behind my younger self. You may have come across her in your excursions, there I am, sketching at Feroze Shah Kotla, catching the bus to Delhi Art College, window shopping in Lajpat Nagar or making my way through Chandni Chowk. Frozen in time. Forever. The couplet of Zauq reverberating in my mind “Kaun jaye Zauq phir Dilli ki galiyan chhor kar” whoever in their right minds would desert the by-lanes of Delhi.
I even think that your love for exploring the city may have its seed in the many Sunday outings my father took us on. If you remember we would pack a brunch of boiled eggs and bread-butter, and then explore Humayun’s tomb,or Qutab Minar and many other historic sites. Now you have turned your passion into your profession, and can be seen eating your way through Delhi with single minded regularity! Talk about having the cake and eating it too.
My dear brother, today’s recipe is for you and in memoriam of the many wondrous street food that only a multi cultural melting pot like Delhi can provide, and which I miss like crazy.
Although this is an Indian snack, it can also be a side dish to any meal.
Dahi Vada with sweet- tangy tamarind chutney and hot-spicy mint chutney
It’s raining here! Now that Monsoon has finally decided to pay us a visit, humidity our permanent house guest might let us exist in peace for a few days at least. And I am rushing to make the most of this sudden drop in the hygrometer. My other cousin Pinaki, visited us last weekend and came bearing the best possible gifts…. mushrooms, baby corn and cheese. Now that I had the perfect ingredients for a wonderful Italian dinner, I decided to make my own pasta from scratch. You have told me often enough to try my hand at it. Well last night, I did. And wow what a revelation ! I doubt if I will be buying those packaged pastas any time soon . And it was pretty simple too. Making the dough was the same as kneading atta for chapattis, and the cooking time was a fraction of that of dry pasta. The only thing which took a little time was the rolling and cutting bit. But I involved Riz, who gladly cut the tagliatelle ribbons, while I rolled out the pasta sheet. It was fun and the flavour was simply amazing.
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