Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bengali Misti/Sweet Pulao (বাঙালী মিষ্টি পোলাও) and a reminiscence of Kalipujo

Another Diwali/Kalipujo (কালীপূজো) has gone by. I was planning to share some of my memories with you, but it took longer to pen down my thoughts.

I come from a middle class family and for us Diwali was never about shahi food or crazy partying, rather it was more about the celebration of light. Diwali was a busy-busy day for my brother and me. On this day, we were solely responsible to decorate every corner of our house with prodeep (প্রদীপ)/diya. We used to soak clay lamps in water, sun-dry them on the terrace. We also hand-rolled cotton wicks (সলতে) with our little palms! On Deepavali evening, prodeep were filled with mustard oil, lit and placed all around the house, on every doorway, at the terrace corners and also at the Tulsi-tola (তুলসীতলা). In addition, small white candles were lit along the terrace and balcony walls. I fondly remember this as a day full of fun, frolic and happiness with my family, specially because it was a no study day. Every male member of our household used to lit a bundle of "patkathi"(পাটকাঠি /jute sticks) and visit the nearest temple. When they came back, they would gather all the patkathis at one place and jump across this small fire thrice each and say loudly "poka re puki re, poka re makore dur jah". This symbolizes end of all evils. Then my grandma would put kohl on everyone, even the men were not spared. My father don't like fire crackers and he never bought me any. My mom was the one who would buy crackers for me. I loved phuljhuris, rangmashal, tubri, charki and kalipotka!

I feel blessed that we experienced such joyous colorful festivities in our childhood. Now away from home, I miss those days so much! Every year, around this time, I yearn to go back home, to enjoy these festivals in those same old ways. Even though life has moved on, I still cling on to those old memories, if only we could live the same way again!

This year we visited a local temple for Kalipujo. Last year for pujo, I had made Bhoger Khichuri (ভোগের খিচুড়ি). This year I prepared Bengali Misti Pulao (বাঙালী মিষ্টি পোলাও), panch rokomer bhaja, Labra, Tomato Chutney and Khejur Gur-er Sondesh. I did not take photo of all the items, but here I am sharing the Bengali Misti Pulao recipe. I bet that this recipe is the simplest yet tastiest pulao you have ever had, and it takes only about 20 minutes to cook.

On any day, this pulao pairs really well with kosha mangso! And Bengali Misti Pulao with kosha mangso is a killer duo :)

Basmati Rice - 1 & 1/2 Cup
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Sugar - 6 Tbsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Ginger Paste - 2 Tbsp
Cashew - 2 Tbsp (Halved)
Raisins - 1 Tbsp
Bayleaf - 1
Green Cardamom - 4
Clove - 4
Cinnamon - 1" Stick
Ghee - 2 Tbsp
Water - 3 & 1/4 Cup (Warm/Hot)

Wash the rice, drain and spread evenly on a plate/tray and leave it to dry.
Next mix together salt, sugar, turmeric powder, ginger paste and rice gently until the sugar grains melt and evenly coats the rice.
Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.
Add bayleaf, cardamom, clove and cinnamon in it. Fry it for about 10 seconds.
Next add cashew and fry till golden in color.
Add the raisins. Stir briskly and take care not to burn it.
Now add the rice mixture and mix everything well.
Fry on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Then add warm/hot water and give the mixture a good stir.
Finally close the pressure cooker lid and cook the rice.
Open the cooker lid only after all the pressure has relesed.

I have used Basmati rice for this post, but you can use any variety of rice. Personally I prefer Gobindobhog rice.
Instead of using only ghee, you can use oil with some ghee for the flavor.
Adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste. Bengalees like their misti pulao sweeter!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - Birthday Cake for D

My husband absolutely loves carrot cake, but I will admit that I do not like it that much. He has been asking me for sometime to try bake one at home. So for his birthday this year, I finally made a carrot cake for him. He was delighted and almost ate the entire cake himself. It came off really well.

I have not experimented much with bakery so took suggestion from one of my colleague. She is very good at baking and even takes custom cake orders. She referred me to a carrot cake recipe by Ina Garten (you can find the original recipe here). I followed the recipe with some changes of mine and I have listed those here. I am not a great cake decorator, but the final cake design was pretty (if I can say so)!

For Cake:
All-Purpose Flour, divided - 2 & 1/2 Cup, 1 Tbsp
Sugar - 2 Cups
Vegetable Oil - 1 & 1/3 Cup
Eggs (at room temperature) - 3 (Large)
Vanilla Extract - 1 Tsp
Cinnamon - 1 Tsp (Ground)
Nutmeg Powder - 1 Tsp
Cardamom Powder - 1 Tsp
Baking Soda - 2 Tsp
Kosher Salt - 1 & 1/2 Tsp
Raisins - 1 Cup
Walnuts - 1 Cup (Chopped)
Carrots - 2 Cup (Grated)
Pineapple (Optional) - 1/2 Cup (Diced)

For Frosting:
Cream Cheese (at room temperature) - 3/4 lb
Unsalted Butter (at room temperature) - 8 oz
Vanilla Extract - 1 Tsp
Confectioners' Sugar - 1 lb

For Decoration:
Unsalted Butter (at room temperature) - 8 oz
Confectioners' Sugar - 2 Cup
Vanilla Extract - 1 Tsp

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
We will need two 8-inch round cake pans. Butter these pans.
Next line the pan bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and flour the pans.

Beat sugar, oil and eggs together in a bowl until the mixture turns light yellow in color. (I used electric hand mixer for beating).
Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
In another bowl, sift together 2 & 1/2 cups flour, ground cinnamon, nutmeg powder, cardamom powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix them well.
Slowly add the flour mix (in small portions) into the wet mixture and fold well. (Do not use mixer for this step as it will make the cake hard).

Next add the carrots and pineapple into the batter and fold well.

In a bowl toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 Tbsp flour and add into the batter.

Divide the batter equally into the 2 cake pans.
Bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool down completely.
Next remove the cakes from the pan and cool them further over a wire rack.

Ensure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature.
Beat the cream cheese well with an electric hand mixer.
Next mix the butter and vanilla into it and beat again. Add sugar and beat until mixed well.
Place one layer of cake (flat-side up) and spread the frosting on top with a spatula.
Next place the second cake layer on top (round side up) and spread the frosting evenly over and around the entire cake.

Ensure the butter is at room temperature.
Beat the butter and vanilla extract together with an electric hand mixer.
Add sugar to the butter and beat well.
You can add more sugar until you get the desired consistency for piping.
I used 2 variants of Wilton icing color for decorating the cake.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chow-let / Chow-lette – My Submission for Bawi Bride's Best Kept Secrets-Eedu Edition

This recipe featured on Bawi Bride's Best Kept Secret 2nd e-Book, Eedu edition. Eedu, in Parsi, means egg. Bawi Bride is a well-known blogger in Parsi culinary world and this 2nd e-book edition is a collection of fascinating Eedu recipes from India. I am absolutely thrilled that my recipe was amongst the 15 recipes published in her e-book. I am fairly new to the blogging world, and this achievement makes me immensely proud and happy that I am getting to share space with some of most renowned Indian food bloggers. Please visit Bawi Bride to know more and download the Eedu edition.

Chow-let or Chow-lette is my mom's original recipe, one ideal for snack or brunch. This is a very simple dish but everytime I make it, it reminds me of so many old memories from my childhood, my hostel days and days spent with my sister. I come from a very small town in West Bengal. In the early 90's, "cornflex"/"muffins" were not that commonly available in my hometown. Breakfast was usually bread-butter or Indian "French" toast and evening snack was muri-makha (মুড়িমাখা / spiced puffed rice), maggie or onion fritters (pNeyaji/pakora). My mom loved to cook and took extra care of every dish she made. Chow-let was her idea, a mix of chowmein and omelet / omelette batter. Needless to mention that we loved it! Later she improvised by adding more veggie's into it. Chow-let is still one of my favorite and easy to cook recipe.
During my hostel stay at Kolkata, days when canteen food was not palatable, I cooked chow-let for myself. My hostel-mates also loved it. Even now after so many years, when we reminisce our good old days, chow-let is an inevitable topic, the fun we had making it on Sunday mornings and the lovely time we spent together. One more person who loves chow-let is my cousin sister. First time I made it for her was when I visited my aunt's home in Jamshedpur. She loved it so much that I ended up making it everyday I stayed with her. Recently she visited me in US for a vacation and the first thing she said is I that she definitely wants me to make chow-let for her. This time too she relished it. Chow-let may be a very simple dish but there are lot of priceless memories I relate it with.

(To make one Chow-let)
Egg - 2
Chowmein (Thin) - 1/2 Cup
Onion - 1 & 1/2 Tbsp (Finely chopped/grated)
Green Chili - Acording to your taste (Chopped)
Ginger - 1/4 Tsp (Chopped)
Carrot - 1 Tsp (Grated)
Bell Pepper/Capsicum - 1 Tsp (Finely Chopped)
Tomato - 1 Tbsp (Finely chopped)
Cilantro - 1 Tbsp (Chopped)
Milk - 2 Tbsp
Turmeric -1 Pinch
Black Pepper

Boil water in a pan. Add some salt and oil into it.
Once it comes to a boil, add the chowmein. Boil it till al dante, drain it.
Whisk the eggs. Add all other ingredients into it.
Heat oil in a nonstick pan / tawa.
Add the egg mixture and spread it evenly on the tawa. Cover it and let it cook on low heat.
Once the egg batter solidifies, check the bottom part of the omlet.
When it gets a nice brown color, spray little oil on the top portion and flip the omlet onto the other side.
Fry on medium heat, until the bottom side gets the desired brown color. And it's done!
Serve it with a sauce of your choice. I like my "Maggie hot and sweet tomato chili sauce" with it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ilish Muro-r Tok (ইলিশ মুড়োর টক) / Hilsa Fish-Head Chutney

My mother-in-law prepared this (ইলিশ মুড়োর টক) few days ago and shared this delicious recipe with me. I had tasted fish chutney / মাছের টক before, but have never made with Hilsa fish. So I decided to give it a try. It tasted really well and had a distinct Hilsa flavor. It is a simple recipe too!

Hilsa Fish-Head - 1
Mustard Seed - 1/4 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Tamarind Pulp - 1 Tbsp
Sugar - According to taste
Water - 1 Cup (Lukewarm/Hot)

Marinate the fish-head with salt and half of the turmeric powder and keep it aside for 5 minutes.
Mix the tamarind pulp with 1/4 cup water and make a paste.
Heat oil.
First fry the fish-head well on medium flame. Drain the excess oil on a tissue paper.

Break the fish-head into pieces.
Now add mustard seed to the hot oil and fry until it crackles.
Add the tamarind paste, rest of the turmeric powder, salt, sugar and water. Mix well and let it come to a boil.
Next add the cooked fish-head pieces in to it and let it cook on a low flame until you get the desired consistency.
Check salt and sugar. You can add more sugar as per your taste.

Tips: You can replace sugar with jaggery as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lau-er Kofta Curry / Bottle Gourd Kofta Curry / Lauki Kofta

This is one of my favorite recipes and its always been a super impresser with guests. Whenever we have friends coming over who are vegetarian, we do prepare this dish. It takes some time to prepare the koftas, but the curry takes much less time. I have adapted this recipe from Suchismita Aunty. I know her through social media and have not had a chance yet to meet her personally. She is a great cook and all her recipes are really good! I hope to meet her some day and share our common love for food.

Recipe adapted from Suchismita Bandyopadhyay.

For Kofta:
Bottle Gourd - 1
Potato (Big) - 1 (Boiled and Mashed)
Ginger - 1 Tsp (Grated)
Green Chili - According to taste (Finely Chopped)
Gram Flour - 3 Tbsp
Rice Flour - 1 Tbsp
Garam Masala - 1/4 Tsp
Sugar - 1 Pinch

For Curry:
Ginger - 2 Tbsp (Paste/Grated)
Green Chili - According to taste (Paste/Finely Chopped)
Tomato Paste - 1 Tbsp
Coconut - 1 & 1/2 Tbsp (Grated)
Cashew - 5 Pieces
Milk - 2 Tbsp
Yogurt (Beaten) - 2 Tbsp
Heavy Cream - 2 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Bay Leaf - 1
Asfoetida / Hing - 1 Pinch
Water (Lukewarm/Hot)
Cilantro (Chopped) - For Garnish


Peel off the outer skin of bottle gourd. Discard the seeds. Cut the gourd in big slices.
Next grate the gourd. Sprinkle and mix some salt into the grated gourd, this will help the gourd to loose water. Keep aside for about 15 mins.

Squeeze out as much water as possible from the grated gourd. Save the stock for later use.
Knead the gourd, mashed potatoes and other kofta ingredients very well into a dough.

Make medium sized kofta balls from the dough. (With the above ingredients, you should have about 15 koftas)

Heat oil in a kadhai. Once the oil is hot, first lower the flame and then shallow fry the koftas. I prefer to fry koftas in small batches.
Cover the kadhai loosely while frying and allow enough time for the the koftas to cook thoroughly. Turn over the koftas in between.

Finally turn up the flame and fry the koftas for a nice brown crust.
Repeat this process for each batch of koftas.

Blend the coconut, cashew and milk into a smooth paste.
Mix turmeric, chili powder, cumin and coriander powder in warm water to make a thick paste. Keep aside.
Heat oil. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, hing and temper well.
Next add ginger paste, green chili and mix well.

Add the spice paste, salt and fry until oil oozes out. Take care not to burn the mixture.

Next add tomato paste and cook until the raw smell disappears.
Add the coconut/cashew paste and continue cooking.

Keep adding the gourd stock as you cook. The stock will add flavor to the dish.
Cook on a low flame until there is no more raw smell to it and the stock has cooked properly with the spices.
Add yogurt. Take care to mix this well or else it will curdle.
Add adequate water to keep the curry watery (as koftas will absorb most of it).
Reduce the flame and cook it covered for 5 minutes.
Now add the sugar, heavy cream and mix well. Simmer for another minute.
In a separate pan heat ghee and temper the garam masala in it.
Add the tempered masala to the curry, cover it and turn off the flame.

Add the koftas  in to the curry before serving and simmer it in low flame for couple of minutes. This will prevent koftas from getting soggy.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

For the koftas, you can add grated paneer, carrot and chopped raisins. If you add paneer, then use only 2 Tbsp Gram Flour for the dough.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mango Margarita

Last weekend we were in New Jersey for Arijit Singh's concert. I love almost all his songs, specially the Bengali ones. It is difficult to choose a favorite, but one of my favorite songs by Arijit is

I was very excited that finally we had a chance to see him perform live!
On our way back, we stopped at an Indian grocery store and picked up a crate of mangoes. These were not from India, but they had this sweet aroma, difficult to ignore. Today I used some of them to make Mango Margarita. This is a refreshing drink to end a sunny summer evening.
Hope you will enjoy this too!

(To make one drink)
Mango - 1/2 Cup (Fresh or Canned)
Tequila - 2 Oz
Grand Marnier (Orange flavored liqueur) - 1 Oz
Lime Juice - 1/2 Oz
Sugar Syrup - 1 Oz
Ice Cubes - 1 and 1/2 Cup

For Rimming:
Salt - 1 Tsp
Sugar - 2 Tsp
Chili Powder - 1 Tsp

Mix all the rimming ingredients and spread them thinly on a saucer.
Wet the outer rim of the margarita glass with a fresh lime wedge.
Dab the rim into the saucer.
Add all other ingredients into a blender and blend well.
Pour into the glass.

Type: Margaritas
Glass: Margarita Glass
Strength: Medium

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chicken Curry flavored with Kaffir Lime Leaves

Back in India, Kaffir lime tree was a prominent member of our terrace garden. In the sweltering summer heat, these lime leaves were a great condiment with Panta Bhat (পান্তা ভাত). I miss those days!
This July 4th weekend we went on a road trip to Niagara and after eating out for 3 consecutive days, I was craving for some simple, light home cooked food. On the way back, I picked up some chicken and lime leaves from the local grocery. Plan was to prepare chicken with simple spices, in a lightly flavored curry. The dish turned out to be awesome and I am sure you will love it too!

Chicken - 4 lb (Big pieces)
Onion - 1 (Grated)
Ginger - 2 Tbsp (Grated)
Garlic - 4 Cloves (Grated)
Green Chili - According to taste (Grated)
Kaffir Lime Leaves - 4 (sliced) + 2 (whole)
Lime Juice - 2 Tbsp
Coriander Powder - 1&1/2 Tsp
Cumin Powder -  1&1/2 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Bay Leaf - 1
Cardamom - 2
Clove - 2
Cinnamon - 1" Stick
Sugar - 1/4 Tsp
Water (lukewarm/hot)

Marinate chicken pieces with salt and 1/2 Tsp turmeric powder and keep aside.
Heat oil in pressure cooker.
Add sugar and let it caramalize.
Next add bay leaf, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and fry until it gives off a nice aroma.
Now add ginger, garlic, green chili and fry for about 30 seconds.
Add the grated onion with a little salt and fry until the raw smell goes away.
Now add the chicken pieces, coriander powder, cumin powder and rest of the turmeric powder. Fry it on high heat until color changes. (During this step, the chicken will start oozing out some liquid).
Add salt, sliced lime leaves and continue frying for another 10 minutes.
Next add 2 cups of warm/hot water. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook until the chicken is well done.
Finally add the garam masala powder, whole lime leaves and keep it covered for a while before serving.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Every time I go to Costco, their collection of berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry) amuses me. They keep them stacked in these cases together, their bright vibrant colors is sure enough to get anyone's attention. I have been thinking of using berries to make something sweet. Finally last week I bought raspberries and made muffins. The recipe is relatively easy, and the muffins are super tasty!

All-Purpose Flour - 3 Cup
Baking Powder - 4 Tsp
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Cinnamon - 1 Tsp (Ground)
Eggs - 2 (Large)
Granulated Sugar - 3/4 Cup
Brown Sugar - 1/4 Cup
Milk - 1 Cup
Vegetable Oil - 1/2 Cup
Vanilla Extract - 1 Tsp
Chocolate Chips - 2/3 Cup (I used Hershey's semi-sweet)
Fresh Raspberries - 1 and 1/2 Cup

Preheat oven to 425F.
Sieve the flour well and then add in baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix them well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract.

Next add the milk, oil and mix well.
Now add the dry ingredients into it and mix everything together.
At this point, the batter should be thick.
Carefully fold in the chocolate chips and raspberries to avoid mashing/leaking of the raspberries.

Spray muffin pan with non-stick oil spray.
Spoon the batter into the muffin pan cups.

Bake at 425F for 5 minutes and then at 375F for next 30 minutes or so until the crust turns light golden brown in color.

Check if the muffins are cooked properly. (Insert a toothpick and it should come out clean).
Allow the muffins to cool and they are ready to enjoy.