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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Estranged Discoveries ...

My love for Kolkata, or maybe Durga Puja is very melodramatic. I have this metamorphosis from a hard core punjabi into a bengali. The Kurtas come into the wardrobe, I tell myself every year that I will not buy any and yet again I bought three. Not to forget 3 dozen Plastic Kurta Buttons for the four days of Pujo, and the hangover that will last till Diwali. 

So, in pursuit of my Bengali split identity , I go back into the alleys of North Kolkata, Kumhartuli... Like ever year, I am hyperactive, jumping in joy, clicking pictures, going "oh wow" at every sight, splashing puddles, slipping on clay and yet being so happy like it is my first time ever there. This happens to the extent that people going with me are calling me over and over again because I am too busy trying to make my miserable attempt at photography with my point and shoot camera .  

First time I went to Kumhartuli, I discovered not only my bengali self but also a gem of a sweet shop, Nakur... Next was Bagbazaar and Golbari ... This time we decided to tread an unfamiliar path .We decided to drive down parallel to the river Hoogly and saw it get dark from dusk and how Gonga changes its appearance from a pale grey to dark with reflections if lights shimmering like a beautiful bride draped in a saree... 

There comes the nostalgia again, We drove down memory lane and the road at the same time, sharing anecdotes, stories of childhood, pujo memories and how we are vegetarian during puja.. So my hosts for the evening wanted to give us a surprise and took us to the Ahiritola Ghaat / Bhootnath Mandir and Explored the Bengal - Bihar Connection. With Discussions that were laced with songs from Bhanu Shigher Padabali and the Maithili connection, we were brought to this small dingy shack, bustling with crowd and asking for a very humble county cousin of the Marwadi Daal Baati Choorma. We  tasted it . The Litti Chokha. 

Ok now let me just simplify it. 
Chokha - Mashed Potato with spices / Makha in Bengali / Bharta for UP-ites/ Can also be mashed brinjols 
Litti - Dough dumplings stuffed with spiced roasted gram flour and the char grilled on glowing embers

This heavenly LITTI is the dunked in Ghee ( clarified butter)  and crushed and served with Chokha and a chutney that can be mind blowing. Notes of chili, ginger, sattu ( gram flour ) all just hit us like a blow. Whoa ! it was remarkable . The charred Litti , had some magical charcoal aromas. Smokey, crunchy and simple . This according to me is food at its honest, humble best . 

Sitting on wooden benches we hogged ourselves and were purely intoxicated. 

Puja, I am told, makes hearts grow fonder, and I have a new love in the city now, Litti Chokha ... 
Cant wait for the next visit. Will soon write and elaborate about the BANGAAL CONNECTION with durga puja. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Afternoon Indulgence - Mushroom Pot-pie

Mushrooms, are my happy vegetable . By "happy vegetable" I mean something can not only bring instant happiness to the taste buds but also something that goes really well for every course of the meal, every cuisine, every time of the day, low fat, high fat, EVERY SINGLE WAY. I just love mushrooms.

Be it the Italian Portobello topped with cheese, or delicate Inoki in a miso, Mushrooms just know hpw to find their way in every restaurant meal I order. And when at home, I am forever doing things with them, Satay, kebabs, biryani, tikkas, the works.

Well today I am bringing to you something that's a favorite family lunch/brunch recipe. Essentially, a POT PIE is a hearty vegetable or a meat ragout or maybe a stew or maybe a braise which is encased in a ceramic pot and sealed with puff pastry or a short crust pasty and baked till golden and often opened at the table, yielding some amazing aromas that would usually be missed while its cooked open.

Maida / flour  2 cups
Olive oil 4 tbsp
Butter 1 tsp
Sugar powdered 1 tsp
Butter 50g

  • Knead into a firm dough and roll thin 8 inch sheets (all ingredients except butter)
  • if u are unable to roll even rounds, make large ones and cut with a cutter 
  • butter each sheet on one side and make 2 sets of 5 layered 
  • make sure the sheets are paper thin 
Milk 3 tbsp
1tsp sugar
  • Dissolve together and use to brush the pot pie 

Assorted mushrooms 2 cups (sliced)
Onion chopped 1 nos
Grated carrot 1 nos
chopped celery 1  tbsp
Fried garlic  tsp
White sauce  2 tbsp
Grated cheese  50g
Tomato ketchup 3 tbsp
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Spring onion 2 nos

  • Heat oil and sauté onion and carrot
  • Add chopped celery  and mushrooms and sauté till they becomes soft and moisture almost evaporates
  • Add seasonings of salt pepper sugar and add white sauce
  • Add garlic and tomato ketchup and cheese
  • Fill in pots and cover with layered dough sheets 
  • blanch the spring onion greens and use them to tie the dough in place 
  • Tie with spring onion and top with milk brushing
  • bake at 200 degrees or till crust is golden ... 

 This recipe should yield 2  pot pies enough for 4 people 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mihidana Cheese Cake - Durga Puja Delights

On the onset of Durga puja, Kolkata becoms sheerly festive. Every year Kolkata celebrated this festival like a carnival, Pujor Khabar forms an integral part of the entire Parikrama. Going to restaurants and smapling new fare, as almost every restaurants serve some Puja specials. 

Pujo, as I correct myself, comes with really wild memories, all nigh long panadal hopping session, the smell of dhuno, the ecoes of conch early in the morning, the dhaak beating at a tempo that would render anyone dancing. The Giant wheels, the adda at Maddox Square all keep me waiting every year for durga puja . They say you always meet lost friends at Maddox Square in the pujas. 

The biryani, kosha stalls at puja pandals, those paara pandaal cultural functions, Shayama, Chandalika, Chitrangada, all coming to life in local pandals. And not to forget the early Morning breakfasts at Terhatti bazaar. 

Well before I get carried away, Let me tell you what I have in Store. I am taking a Present day hit Cheese Cake and giving it a traditional Bengali twist. Taking the quintessential Bangali MIHIDANA and paring it with a cheese cake .  Had Shared this recipe with RJ Arvind on Radio One .... In his show Arvind's Kitchen. 

Gelatin 50 g
1/2 cup water 
Whipped cream 200g
Cream Cheese 100g 
Marie biscuits 75g
ginger biscuts 50 g
Butter 50g
Powdered sugar 50g + 50g
Mihidna (motichoor ) 250 g 
2 tsp badam syrup 

  • Whip the cream and set aside
  • Beat in powdered sugar 50g in to the cream with some chopped fresh fruit or crush
  • Crush the biscuits and mix 50g sugar and butter into the biscuits for the base
  • Set the crust and chill
  • Dissolve and melt gelatin in water 
  • Add the gelatin to the cream mixture
  • mix in 200 g of the mihidana and badam syrup 
  • Pour over the crust and chill
  • Finally top with remaining mihidana and set 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Patishaptas

Cuisines all over the world, share many common aspects with each other. All Cuisines share many common cooking techniques, they have common food groups, some even have very similar dishes. Most cuisines have custards, dumplings, fritters, Wraps, pancakes etc.

Crepes are also there in most cultures and in Bengali Cuisine, the make a sweet crepe made with rice flour and its called PATISHAPTA.

I am taking a modern take on this traditional recipe and making Apple Cinnamon Patishaptas. Had recently shared this recipe with RJ Arvind on air on 94.3 Radio One one his show Arvind's Kitchen

For Patishapta 

1/4 tin condensed milk
1 cup flour
2 tbsp rice flour
125 ml water
 2 tsp Butter for frying

Mix all ingredients into a batter with coating consistency and whisk well to remove lumps 

apply butter on a non stick pan with some tissue and make 10 crepes with the above batter of 6 inch diameter 

For filling 

2 diced apples
3/4 cup grated khoya / mawa / dehydrated milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon powder

heat apples and sugar till apples go soft and moisture evaporated making a semi chutney

switch off and add khoya and cinnamon powder and mix well

cool the mixture and roll the crepes with this mixture

Serve at room temperature or a little warm with vanilla ice cream  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For the Love of Food

I am sharing the summery of teachings from my two favorite chefs in the world

Chef Ramesh Chaturvedi, God if I may call him ..... Chef Gerard D'souza ... Godfather if I may call him

they taught me to trust my instinct and here is what I learn

I always tell people bring honesty into your food...

Good cooking starts with the heart...

Use all ur senses... good food should not only taste good .... It should look good, smell good, feel good(texture crunch etc) , sound good (sizzle, crispness , crunch ) and then taste...
The food that satiates all the sense buds is way better digested..

Besides cooking savor all your food ... eat in small bites.... chew each bite well so flavors are released...

In cooking, use different textures.... sometimes even different temperatures... add variety to the palette .... If you are combining colorful ingredients .. plan it in a way that your cooking looks like a bouquet of delights .

In all love what u do to your food....  cause it will talk ... some times more than words 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chatpati Amrood Ki Sabzi ...

Navratras are approaching real soon .... and i would like to share a childhood favorite and a wonderfully delicious dish to  eat during navratri...

In Navratri we cannot consume the following items as a fast

Any Cereal ( wheat / rice / pulses)
Common salt - replaced by pink salt (sendha namak )
Any garam masalas 

I will be sharing more Navratra recipes on and off for next few days and I hope you will like it.

I shared this recipe on Radio One 94.3 FM with RJ Arvind in his show Arvind's Kitchen.


2 large guavas ( less ripe) diced
1 tsp ghee 
1 tsp grated ginger 
2 green chilies chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 tbsp coriander powder
2 tsp kashmiri chili powder 
1 tsp Raw Mango Powder ( amchoor
1/2 cup yogurt 
Chopped coriander leaves (optional ) 
Salt to taste 
Pepper to taste 
1 tsp Sugar 
1 cup water 

Heat Ghee in a pan and temper with ginger and green chilies and saute till golden 

Add the dry ingredients namely chili, coriander, raw mango powder, turmeric, salt, sugar, pepper 
saute for a few seconds 

Add guava dices and water and saute for a few mins and cook covered for 15 mins

The guavas will go soft and the water with thicken ad evaporate. make sure that the skin of the guava isn't green any more 

Add yogurt and turn off the gas for some time ... switch on again after 5 mins and simmer till oil appears on the edges. This will prevent the yogurt from curdling. 

Please leave your feedback in the comments 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bon Appetit The Cafe

Dear Friends,

Besides writing this blog, I run two cafes by the name of Bon Appetit - The Cafe and we have introduced a few new dishes on the menu just uploading the pictures here

Special thankyou to Poorna for giving her expert advice and critiquing our new dishes.... the link to her review is given below.  She has a fantastic blog and I recommend her for her knowledge of food and her eye for detail.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Banoffee - The Diet Killer

There are few things that are good for health, and few that are not... and some that should not be classified. Just cheat on your diet for heavens sake. Banoffee for a layman is BANANA + TOFFEE. and to make it more sinful i put these in my Rich Chocolate Cake and Guess what .... the entire thing takes only twenty-five minutes to make.

Eggless cake ( microwave )

Condensed milk ½ tin
Milk ½ cup
½ cup oil
4 tbsp powdered sugar
100g maida
25 g Cocoa Powder 
½ tsp soda bi card
1 tsp baking powder
Vanilla essence few drops

  • Sift dry ingredients together
  • Blend sugar , condensed milk and oil together till thick
  • Blend in the milk and vanilla essence
  • Slowly mix in the dry ingredients
  • Bake in a microwave proof dish  for 5 -6 min that has been lined with butter and dusted with flour 
  • Let is rest for 5 min 

4 bananas sliced 
Butter 1 tbs
honey 2 tbsp 
chocolate sauce 1/2 cup
butterscotch sauce 1/2 cup
cinnamon powder 1 tsp 
Whipped cream 100 g 

  • cut the sponge cake into two 
  • leave to cool under a fan 
  • heat butter in a pan and add honey and saute for 1 min till it begins to caramelize
  • add bananas and saute for a few seconds and add cinnamon powder
  • cool for a few mins and start layering as follows  
1. bottom half of the chocolate cake
2. half the whipped cream 
3. bananas 
4. half the chocolate sauce 
5. half the butter scotch sauce 
6. second half of the cake 
7. remaining cream 
8. remaining chocolate sauce and butterscotch sauce 

Chill the cake for a few hours before serving 

P.s. Layering can be done in a Pie crust and be called a banoffee pie 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Five Spice... The Magic Powder

Most People who use five spice powder know it as a flavoring that masks that meaty flavor of pork and duck. The origins of five spice come from the southern China where the roasts and braises are very popular. mostly used as a dry rub but it can also be used for some amazing stir fries.

The main ingredients of a 5 spice powder are as follows:
Fennel Seeds 
Star Anise 

For braises one can also add some dried mandarin orange peel as well 

I usually like to pair it with bean sprouts as it really compliments the wild grassy flavor of bean sprouts. Sharing a recipe that has always been a hit for all my health conscious friends 

 Stir fried Bean Sprouts with five Spice

Bean Sprouts 2 cups
Sliced onions 1 nos
Spring onion ½ cup
Fried garlic 1 tsp
5 spice powder 1 tsp
Assorted bell peppers 1 cup
Lemon 1 nos juice and rind
Chili oil 1 tsp
Oyster mushroom sauce 1 tsp

  • Heat chili oil and sauté onion and bell pepper
  • Add the seasonings and the sauce and 5 spice
  • Toss the bean sprouts finish with few drops of lemon juice and lemon rind
Hope all the people on a diet will not have any complains now... Some diet food can even make people jealous.