Sunday, February 27, 2011

Craft | Mural Art

Learnt this at a workshop in Chennai. It's made with stone powder, cement powder and fevicol. It took a day to dry and then painted it with black colour and dusted with bronze powder.

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Craft | Mehndi Art 1

My dear readers,

I'm taking a small break from blogging as I have injured my right wrist. Doc says its due to inflammation of tendons around wrist bones. Phew! I'm prescribed immobility of right hand. Abbas played a movie to help me fight boredom and he couldn't have chosen a better movie apt for my condition. I could absolutely understand Hrithik's sufferings in 'Guzarish'. Keeping one hand immobile for a day was like a nightmare. Uploading some pics of the art work created by my right hand. Hope it will recover soon...

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

When the Bengali Chutney fired Tomatoes and Hired Strawberries...

A short visit to supermarket on Friday evening on the way back home… The store was decorated with bright red strawberry posters. And signboards reading "Strawberries at rock bottom price!!!" Am I to be blamed if these were temptations enough for me to swiftly load my shopping cart with a box of these berries? I also quickly dumped some fresh cream packets thinking “Just in case”… Friday night, I was madly looking for something special to make with strawberries over the internet. I was spoiled for options too. Encountered numerous recipes but then I had a stringent criterion which none of them satisfied. I wanted my strawberries either in the form of a paste or cooked in some kind of a solution coz none at home would like its pieces on their own. I only like them in ice creams or milk shakes. Well, I made mascarpone cheese out of the fresh cream and let it set in the refrigerator Friday night. I went to bed undecided about what to make with strawberries. Next day when Abbas reminded of the hoards of tomatoes which we had bought with plans of making the infamous Bengali Chutney, “Ding Dong”, yes the Bell finally rang! I knew the fate of those red beauties!

Strawberries – 12-15, (cut into 4-6 pieces each)
Dates – 6-7 (soak in warm water and cut into halves or quarters) - optional
Golden raisins – 20-30 - optional
Sugar – 2-3 tbsp (need to adjust as per taste)
Salt – ½ tsp
Ginger juice – ½ tsp
Tamarind pulp – 1 tbsp
Water – ½ cup
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Red chillies – 1-2

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add broken red chillies and chopped strawberries.
  2. Cover the pan with lid and simmer it. Strawberries will leave their own juice.
  3. Once they are cooked, add dates, raisins, salt and ginger juice and combine. Cook on low flame for a minute.
  4. Add Sugar, water and tamarind pulp. Adjust sugar according to your taste. (Ma and Abbas like their Chutney very tangy and spicy. So I add less sugar.)
  5. Cook till the chutney is slightly thick and not runny.
  6. Best served chilled with some papads. Dip papads in the chutney and enjoy.

1. If using tomatoes, use about 3-4 medium sized tomatoes.
2. We can also add Ambe Saat (in Amchigele) or Aam Satto (in Bengali) by chopping them.

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Geeta Baliga | Amchi Food | Sprouted Masoor Dal Ambati

Masoor dal - 1 cup sprouted (soak masoor dal in water over night, remove from water and keep for another 12 hours till it gets sprouts)
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp (optional)
Onion - 1/2 cup finely chopped
Salt to taste

Grind together:
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Tamarind - 1 small piece
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp roasted in 1 tbsp heated oil till it turns brown
1. Cook the sprouted masoor dal in pressure cooker till 1 whistle.
2. Add ground masala in the cooked masoor dal adding garam masala, salt and little water according to ur consistency.
3. Simmer for few minutes
4. Season with chopped onion and serve with rice or roties .
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Garlic Butter Rolls

The garlic pull apart rolls have been such a super duprt hit in the blogosphere lately. Most bloggers have tried this and it has received accolades from each one of them. My first attempt at these was a super duper flop. I cursed the yeast and was about to trash the whole packet. Exactly then I saw Srivalli beginning her Marathon with these rolls. I wanted to give it another try. If everybody could get it right, why couldn't I? I wanted to check if the fault was with me or the yeast??? Valli had mentioned a separate step of proofing the yeast to check if it is still active or not. I followed her recipe to the T except that I used half the quantity of all ingreients listed. My yeast was active but perhaps not as active as it is supposed to be (puzzled). It took about an hour and a half to increase in quantity. Well the outcome was worth the wait coz the rolls turned out warm and delicious, specially with the garlic, butter and coriander spread... These rolls along with a hot bowl of soup would make for a filling and comforting meal... I will try these with different filling next time...


For the Dough All purpose flour / Maida - 3 cups
Warm Water- 1 cup
Yeast- 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Sugar- 2 tbps
Extra Virgin Olive Oil- 3 tbps

For the Garlic Coriander Butter Spread
Butter- 50 grams
Garlic- 3- 4 grated
Coriander leaves, finely chopped - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste


To make the Garlic Coriander Butter spread
1. Bring butter to room temperature. Grate and pound the garlic well.
2. Finely chop the coriander.
3. Beat the butter well, mix everything together. Continue beating for couple of mins for thorough mix.

Proofing the Yeast:
In a bowl, take the yeast, add lurk warm water, sugar. Cover it and set it aside for 10 mins. Once done you will see a creamy foam formed on the top. This means the yeast is still active. If not please get another batch of yeast else your bread will never rise.

To make the dough
1. In a wide bowl, take the flour, add salt. Then add the yeast mixture and slowly add water to mix in. Knead till the flour forms a dough. At this stage it will be very sticky.

2. Add olive oil and knead well. Continue doing it till it forms a smooth dough. Punch it down couple of times. When you press the dough, it should spring back. 

3. Grease a large bowl with olive oil. Apply the dough with oil by turning the dough in the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp muslin cloth or a cling film and let the dough double. (It took around 90 mins for my dough to double.) Remove the cover, punch the dough to remove the air from the dough and divide it into two.

4. On a well floured surface, roll out one ball into a rectangle about 1 cm thick.On the rolled out dough, spread the garlic spread (keep a little aside to smear on top) evenly over it and roll it into a log. Cut into small pieces.
5. In well greased baking tray, place the rolls cut side up and brush the top with some milk.

6. Keep the baking tray aside for about 20 minutes for the rolls to rise. Meantime, pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.

7. Bake for about 30 - 35 mins till the top of the rolls turns golden brown.

8. Once done, brush with a blob of butter over the top of the freshly baked rolls. This gives the rolls a lovely shine.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Chicken Vindaloo

I have quite a handsome number of items in my “Non-exhaustive To-do” list at any given point of time. How I wish there were more than 24 hours a day or perhaps only 6 hours at work and a mandatory holiday on Wednesdays. No, I don’t wish for weekends to be longer than 2 days. Coz I’m terrified at the thought of spending more than 2 days at home at a stretch. A Monday is always looked forward to as the Sun sets on Sunday. It marks the beginning of a new week and anticipation for Friday’s arrival.

This cycle came to a halt when I was carrying and my doc strictly enforced maternity leave on me about a month and a half before my due date. I was supposed to be on complete bed rest coz any more stress didn’t mean good to my twins. I was frustrated to the core with nothing to do… I started this blog to pen down my experience of this new found journey called ‘Motherhood’. I also would watch TV and note down recipes that fascinated me. Here is one of them. I don’t remember who or which programme it was. I have prepared this 3-4 times now and it turns out good, although the pics are not that appealing.

Chicken – ¼ kg
Onion – 1 cup, sliced
Ginger paste – ½ tsp
Garlic paste – ½ tsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Coriander seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Vinegar – 1 tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – 3-4 strands

1.      Grind together ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, red chillies, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds to a smooth paste. Apply this paste and salt to chicken and keep aside.
2.      Heat oil and fry onions on a low heat till the onions turn dark and crispy. Take them out on a clean kitchen towel to remove all the extra oil. Grind to a paste along with vinegar.
3.      This is the dark paste that gives the color to the dish. Add this to the chicken and leave aside for 30 mins.
4.      Heat a little oil in thick bottomed pan/ Add the chicken with the marinade. Cook till chicken is tender and gravy is thickened.
5.      Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with Indian bread.

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Geeta Baliga | Amchi Food | Kuvale Puli Kodhel - Ash Gourd Curry

This is one of the delicacies relished by Konkanis

How to make?
Ash gourd - 3 or 4 cups, thick skin peeled and cut into 1" cubes
Jaggery powder - 2-3 tbsp
Curry leaves - 10-12 sprigs
Tamarind - marble sized ball (or 1tbsp tamarind pulp)
Salt to taste

Cook with ash gourd cubes very little water along with jaggery powder, curry leaves, tamarind and salt. (Do not cook fully )
For the masala:
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Urad Dal / Black Gram Dal - 1 tabspoon roasted 1 tbsp oil ( it should b brown )

Grind in to coarse paste. Add this masala in the cooked ash gourd cubes and simmer for few minutes till the pieces are fully cooked. 

For tempering:
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida / hing powder - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 10-12 sprigs

When the curry becomes thick, season this with oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida / hing powder and curry leaves.
Serve with rice and dal.

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Tomato Egg Drop Soup

Whenever we visit restaurants, soups are ordered for 3 of my daughters. Well if you all are wondering who the third one is apart from my twin girls, it’s my MIL. She would sip the soup and each time ask me like a kid ‘Seemu, can’t you prepare this at home?’ Nowadays we have a wide array of ready-made packets available but I refrain from buying them at the thought of MSG being used in them. Although they taste absolutely delicious, I’ve never fed those soups to my kids. I made this Tomato Egg Drop Soup from Sanjeev Kapoor’s book and it turned out quite well. Children would certainly like it as its is not spicy and also gets made in a jiffy. Most inredients are readily available in an Indian kitchen. Here goes the recipe:

Tomatoes - 4 medium sized, chopped
Eggs - 2, lightly whisked
Oil - 2 tbsps
Ginger - 1", chopped, optional (I used ginger paste)
Garlic cloves - 2-3, chopped
Onion - 1/2 medium, chopped
Tomato sauce - 4 tbsps
Vegetable stock - 4 cups
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
MSG / Ajinomoto - 1/4 tsp (optional)
White pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Cornflour - 2 tbsp
White vinegar - 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp, chopped

1. Heat oil in a pan, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for one minute. Add onion and continue to stir-fry for one minute more.
2. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook on high heat for two or three minutes. Stir in three and a half cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste, sugar, MSG and white pepper powder.
3. Mix cornflour and remaining vegetable stock. Add to the pan and cook for one minute, or until the soup thickens, stirring continuously.
4. Stir in the vinegar. Pour the whisked egg in a steady steam into the hot soup stirring gently to form egg threads. The egg will coagulate and float to the top.
5. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Apple Almond Cake - for Sunny's Birthday

Come February and celebration of love begins… Newspapers, malls, TVs all hype this festival of love. Even those who find it silly can’t escape coz romance is in the air then. It was Feb 14th 2008, my second Valentine’s Day after marriage. Just as another normal day, we went to work. Heard each colleague’s plans for the evening. When I was intrigued of what I had lined up for the evening, I indifferently said ‘Each passing day is Valentine’s Day for us, we don’t explicitly celebrate it on 14th’. But somewhere down the bottom of my heart I too expected that perhaps Abbas would get something for me! Coz it was our first Valentine’s Day together as we were apart the previous year. I eagerly waited for him after reaching home laden with curiosity. My over-confident instincts were telling me that perhaps he was getting late as we buying something for me. The stressed out soul finally came home and got into the bathroom to freshen up. My lower lip popped out of disappointment as though a kid would react having denied something. Well, I quickly consoled myself and decided I would not let him know that I was expecting something. As usual, he started to tell the day’s events. “Seemu, you know Supratik gifted Smitha with the recent Harry Potter book. Smitha was so excited and happy.” I mildly said “Oh” and that was enough for my man to smell something fishy. Next moment he asked me, “Were you expecting that I would get something for you?” I blankly nodded (Never been able to lie to him, have hidden from him, but when confronted can’t manage to lie) The enlightened man said “I have matured from this age of being crazy over Valentine’s Day but I forgot that you are still young, I should’ve thought of it”. Next day a huge Teddy Bear came home as a compensation. We have named it Sunny and we celebrate Sunny’s birthday then on. Might sound insane to some, but yes we religiously observe his arrival on Feb 15th every year. This time I made this Apple Almond Cake and Ma made Payesh… Cool na?

This recipe is minimally adopted from Divya’s Apple Nut Muffin Cake. Would have followed her recipe to the ‘T’ but due to unavailability of ingredients and urge to have it that day itself led me to modify the recipe as per convenience. The cake turned out super soft and moist and we loved it.

Apple Nut Muffin Cake
Recipe – tweaked from Divya Kudua’s Easy Cooking


Milk - ½ cup
Apple Cider – 1 cup (I used Appy)
Egg - 1, large
Rose extract - 1 tsp (Vanilla extract can be used, I had ran out of it so used rose)
Unsalted butter - 1 stick/8 tbsp/½ cup/100gms, softened
Flour - 1 ¾ cups
Sugar – ¾ cup
Baking powder - 1 tbsp
Baking soda - ½ tsp
Cardamom powder - ½ tsp
Salt - ¼ tsp
Oats - ¾ cup
Almonds - ½ cup,chopped

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. Use an 8-inch square pan, buttered and floured. (I used a flower shaped pan).
2. Whisk together milk, cider, egg, rose extract and butter in small bowl.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cardamom, oats and salt to combine thoroughly.
4. Switch to a large rubber spatula and stir in the liquid ingredients, stirring just until everything is moistened--as with muffins, less mixing is better than more. Gently stir in the almonds (keep some aside for garnishing the top and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for a couple of minutes before running a knife around the sides of the pan and unmolding the cake; invert and cool until warm or to room temperature.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Masala Dosa

Lazily lying on my bed, I could hear the rhythmic whistles of pressure cooker boiling potatoes. Chutney being grounded in the mixie added melody. My lazy ass shot up from the bed out of excitement coz it was ‘Masala Dosa’ today! Amma would juggle between two Dosa tawas coz she had to keep up with the pace at which they were being consumed. Yet she could hear arguments on whose plate the next Dosa should land up. Poor her was blamed each time for being exhibiting favoritism! She would say I think I must upgrade to another two Dosa Tawas to satisfy you people…

Masala Dosa is undisputedly the King of all Dosas. Don’t you agree? And I regret to have introduced my Bong family to Masala Dosa first. Now they demand for Bhaji and Chutney with any other Dosa that I prepare. My Amma used to make dry chutney which she smeared on the Dosa before adding Bhaji, but Bongs like the Coconut Chutney to be served as a side… So I make a liquid version of chutney that is tempered.

Well here is my version of Masala Dosa:

Green Chutney:

Grind together the following ingredient with water as per required consistency
Coconut grated – ½ cup
Green chillies – 7-8 or as per spice tolerance
Tamarind – marble sized ball
Ginger – ½” piece
Salt to taste

Temper the chutney with Coconut oil (1tbsp) + mustard seeds (1/2 tsp) + red chillies (1 or 2) + Curry leaves (10-12 sprigs)

Potato bhaji:

Potatoes – 4-5, medium sized, boiled, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
Onion – 3, medium sized, but into cubes
Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – ¼ tsp
Green chillies – 3-4 or as per spice tolerance, slit
Curry leaves – 10-15 sprigs
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – handful, finely chopped

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they start spluttering add slit green chillies and stir till they change colour.
  2. Add curry leaves and turmeric powder and combine.
  3. Add chopped onion and sauté till they turn translucent.
  4. Add potato cubes, salt and ½ cup of water and combine well. Cook till the onion and potatoes are blended well together.
  5. Switch off the flame and add lemon juice and coriander leaves on top. Mix well.
Dosa batter:
Soak together for 5-6 hours
Boiled Rice / Idli Rice – 1 cup
Raw Rice – 1 cup
Black gram Lentil / Urad Dal – ¾ cup
Fenugreek seeds / Methi – ¼ tsp

Grind to smooth paste with little water and keep aside for overnight. (Not in refrigerator)

Next morning, add salt as per taste and water as per required consistency. (Make a small dosa initially to check the salt, also you would if you need to add more water if the batter is not spreading properly.)

Making Dosa:
  1. Heat Dosa Tawa by sprinkling few drops of oil.
  2. Once the Tawa is piping hot, take a ladle of dosa batter, pour it in the centre and spread it in a circular motion uniformly. (This comes with practice)
  3. Drizzle some more oil, reduce flame to sim, cover with lid. After a minute remove the lid, increase the flame. Once the Dosa is fried as desired, add Bhaji in the centre, fold it and serve with Chutney

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Geeta Baliga | Amchi Food | Sungta Hinga Udka Randayi - Shrimp Asafoetida Curry

Sungta Hinga Udka Randayi literally transaltes to Prawn Asafoetida Water Curry which simply makes Amchi's mouth water... One of my favourites

Shrimp - 1/2 kg, deshelled, deveined and cleaned
Coconut gratings - 1 cup
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp or according to ur spice tolerance
Asafoetida/ Hing - 1tbsp (use LG Hing according to ur hing tolerance)
Tamarind - 1 small marble sized
Salt to taste
Coconut oil - 2 tbsp

1. Grind together coconut, red chilli powder and tamarind to a fine paste.
2. Simmer this masala for a few minutes .
3. Add the washed shrimps in the simmering masala adding very little water because the water leaves out as soon as the shrimps r added. Simmer till the shrimps are cooked.
4. Add salt to taste and asoefotida powder. Drizzle coconut oil in the simmering masala.

5. Stir well and serve withe rice. Yummy...
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Geeta Baliga | Amchi Food | Vison Doddak - Baked Sear Fish

This dish is a renowned dish of Geeta Pachhi's and the picture says it all!

Sear / mackarel fish - 4-5 big pieces wash and ,apply little salt and keep aside
Coconut gratings - 1 cup
Red chilli powder - 4 tbsp (according to ur spice taste can add more or less)

Tamarind - marble size ball
Salt to taste
Teppal / Sichuan pepper - 1 tbsp, deseeded

1. Grind coconut, red chilli powder,tamarind and salt into a paste adding little water (should not b watery)
2. While removing,  add the tepal  and grind for a few minutes till the teppals are crushed a little bit.
3. Apply this masala over the fish on both the sides. (If using mackarel, stuff the masala inside the fish)
4. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil or banana leaves applying little coconut oil on it.
5. Spread the stuffed fish layer by layer on this foil or banana leaves. Cover the fish again with foil or banana leaves.
6. Keep this in the oven at 450 degrees first and slowly reduce the heat as and how the fish gets cooked and the masala turns light brown in color.
7. Baking time will be one hour or more.

Some people may not be knowing teppal or sichuan pepper. In that case, instead of teppal, after the masala is done add the chopped onion + chopped ginger + chopped garlic +chopped green chillies (add less chilli powder to the masala ) to get the flavour for the masala and apply this masala over the fish and bake it.

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Palak Puri - Go Green

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” - How many of us get influenced by such inspiring quotes? Even if we are impressed, how many of us put extra efforts to reduce individual carbon foot prints?

I remember when I told everybody at home about the Earth Hour and expressed my desire to participate in it, I was ridiculed. Reactions seemed to be questioning my sanity. I remember a story which I had read as a child – “A king wanted to check the loyalty of his subjects towards him and declared that he would place a huge pot in front of his palace and asked each of his subjects to pour one cup of milk in it during mid night. The next morning, pot was found filled with water!” When we point a finger towards other people, we fail to notice that three fingers are pointing towards us. I don’t believe in preaching my ideas to folks coz it hardly works. After all you can only take the horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. I therefore, do my bit in everyday activities, which I’m glad my kids learn too.

I’m just expressing my thoughts and approach towards going green that I have imposed on myself. Coz I believe that even the smallest of actions can have lasting effects on the environment.
  1. When I open a chocolate for my kids at home, I don’t simply dump it on the floor. I ensure the wrapper is in the dustbin. Why don’t I take the same care to not litter when I am outside home? I have made it a practice to keep all the litter in a small packet in my bag and throw in dustbin after reaching home. I feel elated to see my kids too, taking so much care to either clutch the wrappers in their hands or preserve in their pockets and fill the dustbin back home.
  2. Recently saw a pic of electric bulb and a text besides it saying ‘How do you feel if someone turns you ON and leaves?’ This is a simple thing to do. Simply switch off the lights, fans or electric appliances if you don’t need them. At work, when we leave for the day harmonic motion of three fingers pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete is what most of us do. Why can’t we shut our system down? Ok, if that is so difficult to do, can we at least shut it down while leaving on Fridays? If that is also not possible, then what is possible is we could switch off the monitor. Trivia: Turning off a 75-watt monitor outside 40 hours a week saves $4.38 a month (42 kwh). This saves 750 lb. of CO2 (greenhouse gas emissions) by burning 450 fewer pounds of coal each year! This is motivation enough for me switch the monitor even when I go for breaks or lunch! It does make me feel good.
  3. I only take-print outs when it’s unavoidable. Even if I do, I use the ‘Print on both sides’ option. I also use Century Gothic font while printing coz this font in known as the Eco font as it consumes 30% less ink than Arial.
I religiously practice the above and am focusing on reducing polythene bag usage. They have become such an integral part of our lives that whether you like them or dislike them, you cannot avoid them. My dear readers please share with me your viewpoints and share ideas for going green, Also if a few people get inspired by this post and start practicing green habits, I would be even more content…

Here goes the recipe for Palak Puri:

Spinach or Palak leaves – 1 cup
Wheat Flour – 1 Cup
Salt to taste
Sugar – ½ tsp
Baking soda – a pinch (optional)
Nigella seeds – ½ tsp
Water – 2 cups
Oil – for deep frying

1.      Blanch palak leaves, strain from water and cool. Do not throw away the water.
2.      Grind the blanched palak leaves into a fine puree.
3.      Mix together flour, salt, sugar, baking sods, nigella seeds, palak puree in a wide bowl. Use the water in which palak was boiled for kneading. (Use quantity as required)
4.      The dough has to be soft but firm.
5.      Divide the dough into balls and roll using rolling pin as we do the normal Puri.
6.      Deep fry in oil and serve with any side dish of your choice.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Geeta Baliga | Sprouted Green Gram Curry

Geeta Pachhi received a lot of requests by her friends to post vegetarian posts and here is one dedicated to them

Sprouted Green Gram / Moong - 1 cup
Green chillies - 4, chopped
oil - 4 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp

Tomato - 1 big, chopped
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tbsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tbsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup chopped
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a pan and fry chopped onion, ginger garlic paste and green chillies.
2. When half brown add chopped tomatoes and fry till it becomes mushy.
3. Add garma masala powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chillii powder, turmeric powder, salt and 1/2 of the coriander leaves and stir for a while.
4. Add the sprouted moong to it, add some water to cook it. Cook till it is dry.
5. Add rest of the coriander leaves. Serve hot with chapaties
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Rennaisa e Gobi

I had only heard her sweet voice on phone till then. She would talk to me in Hindi addressing me as Aunty! When we met in person, we gelled along very well. Her company was very soothing and fun filled in an unknown place with strangers all around speaking in an alien language. She would be my interpreter whenever the need arose. In a couple of days, I was re-christened as ‘Pi’ coz Kakima or Chachi sounded Eeks!!! She became my Bangla teacher and I owe my first exposure to Bengali alphabets to her. She partially filled the void that Sindhu’s (my sis) absence had created in my life. We were the best of pals and would quarrel over trifle things too. She seldom forgot that I was her Aunt and treated me like her peer. She is not to be solely blamed for that, perhaps I have given her that much of space and privilege. I too become a kid with her and seamlessly enjoy myself in her company. She would keep a close watch on all my activities and criticize or compliment me on everything, be it accessories, apparels or even my ways of doing things. She always found my way of munching food funny and imitated it. (Well, that’s how my Dad ate and I have inherited it from him, can’t help it) We had common interests like crafts, drawing, painting, baking etc.

She is away now but memories of our good times together always linger. This post is dedicated to her coz whenever I cook Gobi, I remember an incident without fail. It was a Winter afternoon when we were having our lunch together. We were relishing Gobi and she took a big piece of Gobi from my plate and helped herself. (Somebody taking anything off my plate and/or putting something onto my plate while dining is one of the things that instantaneously gets on to my nerves. I have had so many quarrels with Sindhu due to this and madam would purposely do it to ignite my anger.) We had an argument over Gobi and I wanted that piece back on my plate. How kiddish I was!!! Each time I have Gobi on my plate now, makes me wish I had Ummi (her pet name) by my side.

I dedicate this dish to my niece… She is a girl with a golden heart which mostly gets concealed and unnoticed due to her mischief. This dish is Ma’s signature dish and is simply mind blowing. I did not know what to name it. So named it after the person it reminds me most of – Rennaisa.

Here goes Rennaisa e Gobi:

Cauliflower / Gobi – 1 big head
Onions – 3, medium sized, finely chopped
Ginger paste – 11/2 tbsp
Tomato Ketchup – 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 3 tbsp

Coarsely pound:
Cloves – 3-4
Cardamoms – 3-4
Cinnamon – 1”stick

  1. Cut the Gobi into small florets (not more than 2 cm long) and soak in hot water. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and salt, mix well. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Drain the water and keep the florets aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add pounded garam masala. Add finely chopped onions and sauté till they turn light golden brown.
  3. Add ginger paste and sauté till raw smell goes off.
  4. Add the cauliflower florets, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and salt. Add half a cup of water and cover with a lid. Let it cook on low flame.
  5. After 8-10 mins, add tomato ketchup and combine. Remove the lid and cook until the gravy content evaporates and oil oozes out from sides.
  6. This is a dry dish and can be served with Indian bread or as a side with Rice.

As this dish has cauliflower alone as the key ingredient, a large head would yield a dish sufficient for 3-4 persons on an average. (For ardent Gobi lovers like me, its difficult to predict coz its simply yummilicious.)

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Currant Slices with Spiced Apple Syrup

It's 7th of the month and Sweet Punch time again. This time the hosts chose a challenge sans Chocolate (and honestly I missed Chocolate) as requested by a fellow participant. I'm not a huge fan of fruits in baking. Prepared this at the last moment as usual. Each time I bake something, I like taking my experiments to my office, or pack some and send through Abbas to his colleagues, or take some for my kids' caretakers at the Creche. Abbas doesn't like this habit of mine coz several times he is not left with any when he craves for baked goodies. He never eats anything unless and until he gets stuff plated in front of him. Co-incidentally he always asks for stuff only when they are over and never when they would be lying around waiting to be eaten. I don't like my food lying around for days together with no takers. So I love distributing them and enjoying accolades!!! Who doesn't?

This time, these slices vanished and I'm happy Abbas consumed several of them. I didn't have to serve it with apple syrup. They were good on their own. I am chalking out ways to use up the Apple Syrup.


Black Currants - 175 gms / 6 oz (I used raisins)
Cinnamon stick - 1' piece
Apple juice - 300 ml / 10 fl oz
Plain white flour - 175 gms / 6 oz
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Unsalted butter,softened - 175 gms / 6 oz
Caster sugar - 175 gms / 6 oz
Eggs - 3,beaten
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Oil or butter for greasing


1. Place the currants, cinnamon stick and apple juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil.Remove from heat and leave to stand for several hours or overnight.Drain the currants thoroughly,pressing the juices through a sieve,reserving the juices and cinnamon stick.Set both the sieved currants and juice aside.
2. Preheat oven to 180C/350F or gas mark 4.
3. Grease and line a 12/9' rectangular tray bake tin [you could use a 9' square tin as well if you don't have a tray , I used a loaf pan]
4. Sift together flour and baking powder,reserve.
5. In a large bowl,cream together the butter and sugar till fluffy.
6. Mix in beaten eggs and vanilla extract and beat well.
7. Add the flour mix little at a time and beat well till you get a smooth batter.
8. Stir half of the reserved currants into the mixture and spoon into the prepared tin.Spread the remaining currants over the top.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until risen,firm and golden brown.
10. Meanwhile,boil the reserved juice and cinnamon stick rapidly to reduce by about half, until slightly syrupy. Discard the cinnamon stick.
11. Cut the cake into slices and serve warm with the hot syrup spooned over.

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Egg Biryani for Ai Buro Bhaat

This post is dedicated to Devleena, my colleague and office bus mate! She is more a friend of my kids than mine. She is going to get married next month. We had her over for a traditional Bengali pre-wedding lunch during the weekend called Ai buro Bhaat! I like this custom coz it meant feast ;-D Did not know traditional values of it. Googling lead me to this site which says: Ai Buro Bhat is the ritual 'last meal' that is eaten by the bride / the groom before the actual wedding ceremony takes place. For the bride, it was traditionally the last meal she ate as a daughter in her own home. Since food is such a critical part of Bengali culture, the Ai Buro Bhat is nothing short of a feast that takes place seperately at the bride's house and the groom's. It consists of Bengali delicacies such as fish head curry, steamed prawn curry with coconut milk or mustard, shukto (a slightly bitter vegetable stew), five types of fried vegetables, an array of sweets and much much more.

Now she is an eggetarian and hence I got a chance to make this Biryani which was long ago jotted down in my recipe diary. Mostly I make Chicken / Mutton Biryani otherwise. This to-be bride is on a cooking spree and trying to hone all the culinary skills possible to impress her groom. She has been asking for the recipe coz perhaps this would be on the platter on V-day. Well girl, this recipe is dedicated to you! Wish you a great life ahead.


For Rice:
Rice 3 cups
Tejpatta – 2-3
Cloves – 3-4
Cinnamon – 1”inch piece broken into small pieces
Green Cardamom – 3-4
Black Cardamom - 1
Black pepper – 4-5
Jeera – 1 tsp
Red chilli – 1
Mace - 1
Star anise - 1
Vinegar - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Mint leaves - 10
Oil - 1 tsp

For Omelette:
Eggs - 3
Onion - 1 small, finely chopped
Green Chillies - 1 or 2, finely chopped
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt to taste
Milk - 1 tbsp
Oil - tbsp

For Masala:
Onion - 3 medium sized, finely chopped
Tomato - 2 small, finely chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 1/2 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Biriyani masala powder - 1 tsp ( I use store bought masala)
Coriander leaves - a handful
Mint leaves - a handful
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp

For fried eggs:
Hard boiled eggs - 6, deshelled, slight slits made and havled
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Biriyani masala powder - 1/2 tsp

For assembly:
Rose water - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves - a handful
Kesar – 1 pinch
Milk – 1 tbsp
Soak kesar in lukewarm milk. (If kesar is not available, you may use food color to give the rice yellow colour)


Prepare the flavourful rice:
1. Soak the rice in double the quantity of water for half an hour.
2. Boil water in a vessel along with the whole garam masalas and mint leaves.
3. When the water starts boiling, add the rice, vinegar, salt and 1 tsp of oil.
4. Keep checking the rice until it is almost done but not fully done.
5. Strain the water away.
6. Immediately spread the rice in 2-3 plates. This prevents the rice from being sticky or stops it from cooking further. Let it come to room temperature.

Prepare the omelette:
1. Beat eggs with all the ingredients except oil.
2. Heat oil in a pan and pour the egg mixture to make a think omelette.
3. Remove the omelette and cut into bite sized pieces.

Prepare fried eggs:
1. Sprinkle pepper powder, biriyani masala powder and salt on halved, boiled eggs and shallow fry in a pan till they turn golden brown.

Prepare the masala:
1. Heat oil in a pan and add handful of sliced onions. Fry them till golden brown. Remove from oil and keep aside for garnishing.
2. In the same oil add rest of the sliced onions.
3. When the onion turn transparent, add ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes.
4. Add chopped tomatoes and saute till the mixture turns mushy and oil starts oozing from sides.
5. Now add finely chopped coriander and mint leaves and the bite sized omelette pieces.
6. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, Biryani Masala powder, salt to it and cook for 2 mins. Keep aside.

1. Take a wide bottomed pan in which you would arrange the Biriyani in layers. (I used two different servivng bowls)
2. Grease the utensil with a little oil. (This may be omitted if you are using a microwave safe vessel)
3. Divide the rice into 3 parts and the masala into 2.
4. Arrange the first part of rice in the utensil first. Next put half of the masala. Repaeat the rice – masala – rice layer again.
5. Arrange fried eggs on top and garnish with the fried onions and coriander leaves on top.
6. Pour the kesar milk so that it is evenly spread across the utensil.
7. Pour the rose water similarly.
8. Put ghee on top evenly.
9. Heat the utensil on the lowest heat (on stove top) or in microwave if using microwave safe vessel. If the ghee on top melts, then you may know that the biriyani is ready to be served.

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