Kumror chokka or কুমড়োর ছক্কা

Kumror chokka ar Luchi is a lovely vegetarian combo any Bong would love to have on any day of the week. If it is on a Sunday then it is a bonus with few more additions of luchi followed by some misti! Ah...Pure Bliss...While I am writing this post I am salivating who wouldn't do that if s/he tasted this combo once.

Bengali style Kumror Chokka


Kumror chokka along with luchi (maida puri) is served on the day of Durgastomi or ostomi puja (8th day of Navaratri). The people who celebrate Navaratri offers puri and no onion no garlic  kala chana or black chickpeas curry (which is considered as a tradition) to Devi Durga. Kumror chokka also contains black chickpeas which is offered to Goddess Durga as prasad. If we see the cultures across India, we found similarities in them. Kumror chokka is a no onion no garlic traditional recipe from Bengal.

While you cook a vegetarian dish, spices play an important role. Onion & garlic give a distinct aroma to a non-vegetarian dish and makes the dish flavourful. In a vegetarian dish, asafoetida or hing provides a distinct flavour to the dish. Hing and Bengali five spices or panchphoron are used for tempering kumror chokka. You can also replace panchphoron with methi or fenugreek seeds.

Chola die Kumror Chokka


Apart from luchi, kumror chokka is also paired good with our humble 'muri' (puffed rice). Being a summer vegetable in India, this traditional Bengali style pumpkin curry is part of many Bengali marriage's morning breakfast menu (read: biebarir jol khabare). This is perfect comfortable breakfast menu on hot and humid days, so that you can enjoy the heavy lunch and dinner menu later. Try this no onion no garlic pumpkin curry aka Kumror chokka with 'phulko luchi' (Indian fried puffed bread or poori).

Kumror chokka or কুমড়োর ছক্কা

Ingredients

Yellow Pumpkin - 250 to 300 gms, cut into cubes
Potato - 2 medium, cut into cubes
Black chickpeas - 1/2 cup
Bengali Five Spice (Panch phoron) - 1 teaspoon (cumin seeds, nigella seeds, radhuni, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds)
Asafoetida - a pinch
Cumin Powder - 1 teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 1 teaspoon
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Dry Red Chilli - 1
Bay leaf - 1
Green Red Chilli - 1
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard Oil - 3 to 4 tablespoon

Procedure

1. Soak the black chickpeas overnight and next day discard the water and pressure cook with little salt upto three whistles.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add dry red chilli, bay leaf and Bengali five spice.
3. Next add a pinch of asafoetida into the oil.
4. Now add potatoes and cook under slow flame covering with a lid for few minutes.
5. Next add pumpkin pieces and boiled chickpeas and cook under low flame covering with a lid. Stir in between.
6. Add salt and Turmeric and mix well.
7. Next add cumin powder, coriander powder, sugar, green chilli and chopped tomatoes.
8. Cook for sometime until the tomatoes are soft.
9. Now add 1/2 cup of water and allow to boil.
10. When vegetables are almost cooked and water is dried up, switch off the gas and serve hot with luchi or muri.

Luchi ar Kumror Chokka


Gajar ka Halwa or Carrot Halwa

Gajar ka halwa is a traditional Indian sweet dish. Gajar ka halwa or carrot halwa is prepare by cooking fresh grated carrots in ghee and milk with the addition of khoya and sugar. Gajar ka halwa tastes the best when it is cooked by mom. I remember in my childhood every winter we used have gajar ka halwa quite often. Even in my college days when I used to come home, my mother used to prepare this dish especially for me.



Now following my mother's tradition, I prepare gajar ka halwa at least once during Winter months. I was craving for gajar ka halwa recently, especially looking at all the food posts in different social media. I could have it in a restaurant but frankly speaking my taste buds do not satiate with them. I feel they cook grated carrots in sugar syrup instead of milk (cost cutting idea I guess😆) and later sprinkle grated khoya on top which is quite awful.

So I prefer preparing my own version at home. As it takes a bit time (grating, slow cooking) and also loaded with calories, I try to cook at least once to balance by taste buds as well as my weighing scale. Here I am answering few questions which will help a novice while cooking gajar a halwa.

Which types of carrots should be used for gajar ka halwa recipe?

Normally, fresh red juicy carrots which are available during Winter months are the best to prepare gajar ka halwa as they are sweet in nature. However, you can prepare carrot halwa using regular orange carrots. This time I have used orange carrots as I got them in nearby market.

How to make gajar ka halwa using condensed milk (Milkmaid)?

Many people use condensed milk in gajar ka halwa preparation. The recipe of carrot halwa I have shared does not contain condensed milk. However, if you want to use condensed milk, you have to reduce the quality of milk, khoya and sugar to balance the taste. Use of milkmaid reduces the cooking time of the halwa.

Can I store gajar ka halwa?

Yes you can store gajar ka halwa or carrot halwa in refrigerator in an airtight container for 10 to 12 days. You can take out the required portion in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for few seconds before consuming it and keep the remaining portion in the refrigerator to consume later.

How can I serve gajar ka halwa?

 Gajar ka halwa is served at the end of the meal as a dessert. Some prefer to have it as  warm and some prefer chilled. It is also served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Here I have shared my version of gajar ka halwa learnt from my mother. Grating the carrots is the most difficult part of this recipe 😀. Have little patience and grate the carrots. You can do this task on previous day and once the grated carrot leaves water, squeeze them and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use on the next day. If you see the ingredient list I have used a good quantity of milk as I like my gajar ka halwa to be prepared under low flame as slow cooking of this dish gives an excellent taste. I know slow cooking increases the cook time however it enhances the taste too. It just gives melt in mouth silky smooth gajar ka halwa.


Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours (Approximately)
Servings: 10

Gajar Ka Halwa /Carrot Halwa

Ingredients

Carrot - 1/2 kg (500 gm)
Milk - 750 ml 
Khoya/Mawa- 50 gms, grated
Sugar - 2/3 cup (adjust as per your taste bud)

Raisins - 8-10
Cashew nuts - 8-10
Ghee - 2 to 3 tablespoon

Procedure

1. Peel the carrots and grate them. Leave the grated carrot for 30 minutes. 

2. Dry roast the cashew nuts in ghee and keep them aside. If you want can also add almonds. 

3. Now heat ghee in a wok and add the grated carrots. Fry them for 5-8 minutes and put the cardamom powder. 

4. Then add the milk and cook under slow flame until the milk evaporates. 

5. Now add the khoya (grated) and sugar. Allow it to mix them properly stirring it continuously. 

6. Switch off the gas before it dries up completely. Add the raisins and roasted cashew nuts. Serve it either hot or cool.




Kancha Peper Plastic Chutney or Bengali Plastic Chutney

The taste of a Bengali Platter's Chutney is quite different from the other types of chutneys. Whenever we Bengali's say chutney we relate the taste with sweet and sour tongue tickling combination. During my hostel days in Chennai, I came to know about the other varieties of chutneys such as coconut chutney, dhania-pudina chutney, spicy tomato chutney etc. and interestingly none of them has the taste of sweetness. Then I realized Bengali Platter's Chutney has the extra addition of sugar with a tangy taste.

Peper Plastic Chutney


What is Plastic chutney and why the name?

In any occasion, you will find chutney along with papad followed by sweets to finish a Bengali meal. Bengali plastic chutney is famous in any special occasion including wedding day lunch, birthday meal, first rice ceremony meal or any other special days. You must be wondering how could a person prepare chutney with plastic!

Let me tell you why raw papaya chutney or kancha peper chutney is called plastic chutney. Bengali plastic chutney is nothing but candied raw papaya chutney. Thinly sliced raw papaya (পেঁপে) pieces are cooked in sugar syrup until they turn transparent like plastic sheet. Hence it is known as plastic chutney. (Is there any other explanation for this name? if yes please do let me know).

How does the papaya plastic chutney taste?

As I told you Bengali chutneys are sweet and tangy in taste. Similarly, the papaya plastic chutney tastes sweet and tangy. Though papaya is neutral in taste, we add lemon juice to give the tangy taste.

What are the other plastic chutneys?


Other than papaya, we can use Summer fruits like raw mango or pineapple to make this chutney. You can follow the similar procedure except the addition of lemon juice as these fruits are sour in nature. Each of these plastic chutneys has their own flavour as the main ingredient is different in each type. However, the plastic chutney prepare with raw papaya is the most popular one.

How to serve the plastic chutneys?
Bengali plastic chutneys are part of a Bengali meal. It is served almost at the end of meal along with fried papad. You can also enjoy them just like that with papad.

Can I store the plastic chutney? If yes, then how long?
Yes, you can store the plastic chutney in the refrigerator up to 5 to 7 days.

You can cook plastic chutney in a large batch and cool it properly. Later you can store it in a clean and sterile covered glass container up to 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator. Whenever required, take out the jar from the refrigerator and use a clean spoon to take out required amount of chutney and again keep the bowl back in the refrigerator.


Bengali Style Papaya Chutney / Raw Papaya Chutney

Ingredients

Raw Papaya - 1 medium size
Sugar - 200 gm (Approx , according to your taste bud)
Salt - a pinch
Lemon Juice - 1 tablespoon
Raisins - 12-15 nos
Refined Oil - 11/2 teaspoon
Mustard Seeds/ Bengali five spice - 1/2 teaspoon
Dry red chilli - 1




Procedure

1. Take a pan and add 2 cups cup water. Dissolve sugar and switch on the gas.

2. Add the sliced papaya, salt and boil in sugar-water mixture.Boil them on medium heat until the papayas are soft and transparent in nature. Add raisins while boiling this mixture.

3. Now when the water almost dries up, reduce the flame and add lemon juice and mix well.

4. Take another small pan and heat oil. Add dry red chilli and mustard seeds/Bengali five spice and  in it. When seeds starts crackling add this on the papaya chutney. Mix well. Allow it to cool and serve it with rice or khichuri.

Bengali style raw papaya plastic chutney


Zucchini Thepla

Just the new year started and we are already towards the end of the first month. Time is just flying! The other I was thinking last year at this time I was thinking about my daughter's new school and timings. I am night owl so how will get up early in the morning and prepare 2 boxes for her! But see I have sailed through this and she is going to complete her academic year in just two months.

Now you might ask a question how do I manage to do this. Actually little planning ahead can help you a lot. Half of the preparations I do previous night for example cutting vegetables, kneading dough, etc. So next day morning it becomes really handy if at all I am late for 10 minutes or so. My daughter loves Thepla, so often I give her Methi Thepla (I prepare it so often still not on the blog, surprisingly) and she really enjoys it. I also prepare lauki thepla and she likes it too. Actually thepla remains soft for longer time and I came to know this during a train journey. Read the story here.



The day I was writing the post about lauki thepla, I also visited supermarket and when I saw zucchini I thought this is another vegetable which I can use to make the thepla. Immediately I picked zucchini and when I prepared thepla with zucchini it really turned out great. Zucchini has lot of health benefits which includes improvement in digestion, slowing down aging, lowering blood sugar levels, good for heart and blood circulation, improving eye sight, boosting energy and helping in weight loss. However, we often think what can we prepare using zucchini other than adding it to pizza or salad, so zucchini thepla is a perfect Indian recipe of zucchini which can solve your problem. I used green zucchini to prepare thepla however you can use yellow zucchini too.



You can prepare the dough for thepla previous night and keep it in the refrigerator. This really saves the time, that's what I do for the early morning lunch box preparation. Like bottle gourd or lauki, zucchini's water content is high approximately 94% so while kneading the dough for thepla you may not require any addition of water.

So next time you get zucchini from the market, you have an Indian recipe of zucchini in kind. I have planned to explore more Indian recipes using zucchini. Till then scroll down the blog and check the recipe and prepare it in your kitchen and do share your feedback which motivates me.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10 nos approximately

Zucchini Thepla 

Ingredients

Zucchini - grated, 1 cup
Whole Wheat Flour - 1.5 cups
Besan/ Gram flour - 2 to 3 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Curd - 2 tablespoon ( you can add little more if required during kneading the dough)
Red Chilli Powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Cumin Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger - grated, 1/2 teaspoon
Refined oil - 1 tablespoon + for frying the thepla ( approx. 4 to5 tablespoons)
Green Chilli Paste - 1/2 teaspoon (optional/ I have not added it)


Procedure

1. Wash and pat dry zucchini. Then peel it and grate it in a large plate. Keep aside.
2. Take whole wheat flour, besan, dry spices (cumin, coriander, red chilli, turmeric powder) and salt in a big bowl. Mix them with your fingers.
3. Now add grated zucchini along with its juices. Mix it well.
4. Add 1 tablespoon oil and curd and knead a smooth dough. I did not add any extra water. Zucchini juices and water from curd was enough to bind all of them together. If required you can add 1 or 2 tablespoon of water.
5. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow to rest it for 15 minutes.
6. Now make lemon size balls from the dough.
7. Dust your kitchen platform and roll each ball into round shape like roti (5 to 6 inches of diameter).
8. Keep the rolled thepla on a hot skillet and when brown spot appears, flip it.
9. Apply oil on both sides and cook it. Serve hot with chutney or pickle or any dip.

Zucchini Thepla for Lunch box


Achari Aloo

How is Winter treating you? News Flash showed it's snowing in some parts of India and the places are attracting lot of tourists. However, most of the parents of school going kids are busy with their kids on-going exam, can't enjoy vacation at this moment. This year winter is consistent in Bangalore it's not too hot or too cold within a short period of time. We are taking the fun of Winter days with varieties of food prepared from winter goodies. 


Achari Aloo Recipe with babby potatoes

Apart from peas, carrots and other fresh vegetables, winter also gives us baby potatoes and potatoes. Potatoes are grown during winter months and later stored in the cold storage as the stock for the whole year. While baby potatoes are available during this time of the year. I remember my maternal grandmother was fond of these baby potatoes and she used to prepare stir fry with these baby potatoes.

In Bengali, we call 'kucho aloo' to these baby potatoes. Normally when dida used to make the stir fry she never used to peel the potatoes. There are two-three reasons behind this. First of all she used to prepare in a big batch so peeling was avoid to save time. Secondly, new potatoes have very thin skin and difficulty in peeling. If you peel the potatoes and over cook them, stir fry will be mushy. Lastly, stir fried baby potatoes were paired with a cup of hot tea in the evening. While peeling and eating is a kind of fun and time pass with all your family members. Even if you don't peel and chew the peel you can get the mild sweetness which gives a different flavour and can take out the remaining part. 

These baby potatoes are good for aloo dum too. Normally, I prepare Aloo Dum or baby potato stir fry using baby potatoes. This time I tried making achari aloo which also an easy and tasty dish. Achari aloo goes very well with roti, naan or paratha. I have not used onion or garlic here. However, if you want can use onion to make thicker gravy. You can also make achari aloo as a vegetarian starter and people will enjoy it. This is a good recipe for kitty parties or kids parties.

In Northern part of India, people prepare pickles with winter vegetables and enjoy through out the year. Earlier winter vegetables were only available during winters and excess produce of winter vegetables were converted to pickle or achar and relished for the remaining year. However, advanced techniques in Agriculture has changed the scenario and we get all the vegetable through out the year. But Winter produces taste best at their own season. People still follow the tradition of making achar. So I thought why not give these baby potatoes an achari make over. 

I used all types of spices including fennel, fenugreek, nigella, mustard, cumin,used for the preparation of pickle to give the aroma and the taste of the pickle. You should use mustard oil to cook this dish as the main ingredient of pickle is mustard oil. The oil content of this dish is bit excess otherwise it won't taste like an achar. I have used dry mango powder and curd for the tanginess of the pickle. Achari aloo is a dish which has the right balance of sweet, sour and spice just like the pickle. This is a very easy and tasty dish and learn here how to make achari aloo or achari alu.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Serving: 2

Achari Aloo


Ingredients


Baby Potatoes - 400 gms

Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Dry Red Chilli - 1
Hung Curd - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Cumin Seeds - ½ teaspoon
Nigella/Onion Seeds - ½ teaspoon
Mustard Seeds - ½ teaspoon
Fenugreek Seeds Powder - ½ teaspoon
Fennel Seeds Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - ½ teaspoon
Green chilli - 2 to 3 finely chopped
Ginger Paste -2 teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder - ¼ teaspoon
Aamchur(Dry Mango) Powder - ½ teaspoon
Garam Masala Powder- ½ teaspoon
Mustard Oil - 1/2 cup

Procedure


1. Wash the potatoes and peel them. Later put them in pressure cooker and allow 1 to 2 whistles. 

2. Once the pressure releases, drain the water. 
3. Now heat oil in a pan and fry the boiled potatoes with turmeric powder and salt. Take them out and keep aside. 
4. In the same oil add a pinch of asafoetida (hing) followed by dry red chilli, cumin seeds, nigella seeds and mustard seeds. 
5. Once they started spattering, add ginger paste and fenugreek seeds powder, fennel seeds powder, turmeric powder. Mix them well and add fried potatoes. 
6. Next add red chilli powder, dry mango powder, chopped green chilli and coriander powder. 
7. Once the masalas are well cooked, beat the curd adding garam masala powder and add into the pan. 
8. Cover the pan and reduce the flame. 
9. Adjust the salt and when gravy becomes dry  you can switch off gas and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. 


Achari Aloo Recipe using baby potatoes



Ranga Alur Puli Pithe

Ranga alur puli or sweet potato dumpling stuffed with coconut khoya filling and dunk into sugar syrup is a traditional recipe from bong's kitchen. Nowadays sweet potatoes are available almost throughout the year however, earlier it was available only during winter days. Hence Ranga alur puli was also prepared during Winter days mostly during pithe puli utsav.



Ranga alur bhaja pithe is also prepared during this time. There are different ways to prepare it. The outer shell of ranga alur puli or pithe contains ranga alu or sweet potato. Outer shell of bhaja pithe also contains yellow moong dal which I prepared earlier. You can view the recipe of ranga alur bhaja pithe here. Recently I prepared the ranga alur puli. The outer shell of the puli is made of ranga alu and all purpose flour or maida. Both ingredients gives a wonderful texture and taste to the outer shell. Sweetness of ranga alu makes the shell slightly sweet in taste no need of adding sugar, this is natural sweetness.

Let's talk about the stuffing now. Normally it is stuffed with coconut khoya filling which gives Jamun (Gulab Jamun) like taste when dunk in sugar syrup. In bhaja pithe you can give the similar filling or you can give coconut jaggery filling.


Ranga Alur Bhaja Pithe before dropping in sugar syrup

The recipe of ranga alur puli I have learnt from my mother. I remember my grandmother used to prepare ranga alur puli, ranga alur pantua and later the legacy is passed to my mother followed by me. This kind of traditional recipes are almost going to be extinct as they are time consuming. I would suggest you can prepare the filling couple of days before then the whole process you can do quickly and enjoy this traditional sweet during winter.

Ranga alur puli taste the best when you serve it with warm sugar syrup. If you prepare the sugar syrup before hand it might become cold so when you fry the dumplings and about to dunk them in syrup just warm up the syrup.  If you wish you can store in the refrigerator and next you can warm up and have them however I would suggest to eat them fresh. After frying the pulis you can also enjoy them as bhaja pithe if you don't dunk them in sugar syrup. Many people use nolen gur syrup (date palm jaggery) to dunk the dumplings instead of sugar syrup.

Check out the recipe here and prepare ranga alur puli this Sankranti. Wish all my readers Happy Poush/Makar Sankranti.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hrs
Yields: 16 approx


Ranga Alur Puli Pithe

Ingredients

For the Shell
Ranga alu/ Sweet Potato - 300 gms (Approx)
Maida/ All Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup (use as required)

For the Stuffing

Khoya - 50 gms, grated
Coconut - scrapped, 11/2 to 2 cups
Milk - 11/2 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup

For the Syrup

Sugar - 2/3 cup
Water - 2 cups

Refined Oil for deep frying - 2 to 3 cups

Procedure

1. Wash the sweet potatoes and peel them. Cut into pieces and boil them in a pressure cooker 2 whistle or until they are soft and tender. However, sweet potatoes should not be overcooked.
2. After slightly cooling down, knead the sweet potato pieces when they are slightly warm. While kneading them if you get any uncooked pieces, discard them.
3. Now add flour to it little by little and make a smooth dough.
4. Cover the dough and keep it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
5. On the other hand, take scrap coconut in a blender and add 2 tablespoon of milk and make a smooth paste.
6. Heat remaining milk in a pan, once the quantity of the milk is reduced 3/4 th add the coconut paste and stir continuously under slow flame.
7. After 5 to 7 minutes, add the grated khoya and mix it.
8. Finally add sugar and dissolve it properly and allow the mixture to let dry completely. Keep aside.
9. In a wok take sugar and water  to prepare sugar syrup. Boil it for few minutes to make the syrup slightly thick.
10. Now take out the dough from the fridge and take a small portion (similar to big marble) and make a round shape with your greased palm.
11. Put little stuffing in the centre and seal the edges giving a shape of semi circle or crescent.
12. Follow the similar procedure for the remaining dough.
13. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry those stuffed sweet potato dumplings until they are light reddish brown in colour. Fry all the sides carefully under low flame.
14. Now take out the fried dumplings from the oil and drop them into the warm sugar syrup.
15. Allow them to soak the sugar syrup for some time (say 5 to 10 minutes) and serve either hot or cold.


Masala Makhana or Spicy Foxnuts

Spicy Foxnuts or as we call it masala makhana is a quick snacks which you can pair with your evening cup of tea or coffee. After indulging for a month of cakes, cookies and high calorie food now you may want to put a control on your indulgence. Does that mean you have to have blunt and tasteless food? Because if you want to have some chatpata snacks, most of them are deep fried stuffs which is completely 'no-no' at this stage. Here I am sharing a recipe of low calorie snack, masala makhana or spicy foxnuts which are yummy bites coated with spices.



What is fox nuts or makhana?

Foxnuts or makhana are louts flower seeds availed from the water plant named Euryale ferox. It is also known as phool makhana, gorgon nuts and lotus seeds.

Does fox nuts have health benefits?

Foxnuts contain high amount of magnesium and less amount of sodium. Therefore, it is good for heart diseases and obesity. Foxnuts are rich in fibre and helps in bowel movement and improves constipation and indigestion. It is good for weight loss as it is very low in calorie. Foxnuts re packed with antioxidants helps to manage early aging process and stress.

Are foxnuts gluten free?

Yes foxnuts or makhanas are gluten-free, vegan, cholesterol-free, protein rich and has high content carbohydrate.

How to use foxnuts?

In India, foxnuts or makhanas are used to make different types of food by Hindu community during Navaratri. Foxnuts are used for making different sweet and savoury recipes. These are very good option for snacks during your 4 pm hunger pangs.

Until few years back I had no clue about foxnuts or phool makhana. It was a thing about which I read in biology books but never thought I of cooking or eating. Actually, in Bengal we don't do fasting during Navaratri hence we were not aware about foxnuts. However, it is not the same case now due to the knowledge sharing in various media people know about foxnuts and included them in their diets.

I first had makhana as a prasadam given in a temple and I really liked the taste of it. Recently when I purchased a batch of makhana I thought of preparing some snack option and I created Masala Makhana or Spicy Foxnuts. After I tasted the first one I was totally hooked to it and even my family members also liked it very much. I have decided to experiment with various flavours in coming future.

Here I am sharing the easy and quick recipe of masala foxnuts which you can prepare anytime when you are craving for. This is a recipe which you can cook under 15 minutes or even lesser than that if you are making a small batch. You can carry them to your office in a small container and munch during your hunger pangs. Even you can pack them to your kiddos snack box to keep them away from the junk foods. Nowadays you get Readymade makhana snacks available in the market however I would suggest you to make your own as it is completely hassle free and you can make flavours of your own choice.



Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Servings: 6

Masala Makhana or Spicy Foxnuts
Ingredients

Makhana / Foxnuts - 3 cups
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Chaat Masala Powder - 1 teaspoon
Ghee - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Refined Oil - 2 teaspoon

Procedure

1. Heat a pan or wok and dry roast the phool makhanas or foxnuts for 5 to 8 minutes until they turn crunchy and makes crisp sound when you bite them. The process should be carried out under low flame. Keep them aside.
2. Now heat ghee and oil together and add all the spices and salt together and mix them quickly. Turn off the gas.
3. Immediately transfer the roasted makhanas into the pan and stir well to coat each makhana with spices. You have to do this process real quick otherwise the spices will be coating only the makhanas came in contact with it.
4. Serve them or cool them and store in a airtight container for a week or so.

Dudh Pithe/ Dudh Puli

Poush Sankranti is denoted as the last day of the Bengali month Poush and it is like Makar Sankranti festival. Poush sankranti is also known as Poush parbon. It is celebrated as a harvest festival with sweet and savoury dishes made out of rice flour and date palm jaggery. We also call it as Pithe Parob. I have seen both my grandmothers (paternal and maternal) making Pithe Pulis on this auspicious occasion.
 My paternal grandmother was culinary genius and she used prepare a wide varieties of pitha pulis. Though my memories are very fade (as she left us for peace heaven when I was in school) but I could remember I used sit with grandma and keep on chatting like a chatter box and used to eat stuffing of coconut jaggery little by little. She used to make dal pithe, bhapa pithe, rangalur pithe, Gokul pithe, patishapta and many more.

My maternal grandmother used to prepare dudh puli predominantly and bhaja pithe on the next day with the left over bhapa pithe. I also remember, on the night of Poush Sankranti Dida used to chant some songs in front of Goddess Lakshmi. It is called Poush daka.


Happy Poush Sankranti





Dudh Pithe or Dudh Puli is a traditional recipe especially prepared during Sankranti which is known as Poush Parbon. Dudh pithe is nothing but rice dumpling with coconut & jaggery stuffing and dipped in reduced milk (kheer). These dumplings are made in crescent shape. In my childhood, whenever I tried making them, never did justice with their shape :(. Not only childhood, even after my marriage I could not do justice with their shape. However, Avijit (Read My Husband) used give a proper shape :P. Last 2 - 3 years I am really doing good, that's why I can say practice makes a person perfect! Instead of coconut, I prefer the stuffing of Makha Sandesh. You can also stuff them with store bought sondesh/kalakand if you are running out of time.

You can prepare the stuffing a day before and keep it in the refrigerator and use it on the next day to make the whole process less time consuming and hassle free. Earlier these occasions are celebrated in joint families and each member used to contribute so work was divided but today's nuclear family does not have any help so we have found our own way of doing to save our tradition and culture. 

Dudh Pithe/ Dudh Puli

Ingredients
For Stuffing
Chena (Homemade Cottage Cheese) - 300 gms
Date Palm Jaggery - 1/2 cup (adjust the sweet according to your taste buds)

For Coating

Rice Flour - 400 gms
Salt to taste
Hot Water as required

For Kheer

Milk - 1 litre 250 ml
Date Palm Jaggery - 11/2 cup

Procedure


1. Take chena  (chena should not contain water) and jaggery together in a vessel and knead properly for 5 minutes. 
2. Now heat this on gas flame and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Mixture will leave water, when 90% of water dries up, switch off gas and allow it to cool.
3. Mix rice flour and salt together. Now add hot water as required to make a soft and smooth dough.  Here cold water will not work. 
4. After kneading the dough cover it with a damp cloth. Now take marble size dough, press the middle of it and make a pocket using your fingers. Stuff it with makha sandesh or coconut filling (See Ranga Alur Bhaja Pithe). Fold it like a half moon. 
5. Similarly, follow the procedure for the remaining dough. While making these dumpling you should cover the dough and the prepared dumplings with a damp cloth to avoid cracks on the outer shell.




6. Now heat the milk and reduce it to almost half the quantity. Add the dumplings and boil it for 10 minutes or until the pithas are cooked. Next add date palm jaggery and a pinch of salt. Boil it for another 5 to 7 minutes. Serve it hot and next day you can serve cold too.  




Bring #SmartHomeRevolution and Ease Your Life




Last visit to my native town was fruitful and satisfying. It feels so good to sit and chat with your parents and discuss old and modern life, childhood memories and many more things. One such fine evening I was chatting with my beloved mother and I found that mother was a bit anxious. When I asked what is the matter, she immediately started telling that my tech savvy father is planning some new gadgets at home. Now let me give you a clear picture in detail. My mother is technophobic person and who is not very comfortable using any gadgets. Even a smart phone makes her worrisome. On the other hand, my father is totally opposite. At the age of 71 he is ready to learn every new technology and want to make them part of his daily life.
The conversation between me and my mother started like this...

A Picture from our last Kerala Trip (Ma, Baba, Me & Gurguri)

'Why do we need smart devices in our lives? We are quite happy in our own space at this age. I don't see any need of smart device to spoil the peace of our live".

I understood my mother is boiling like hot lava, so now forcing to buy new things won't work. Now only thing if I explain her well and change her perspective. I thought it would be best to make her understand if I give her examples.

I said ' Ma you remember those days when there was no telephone and then landline telephone came to our home for the first time.'

Ma said 'Yes how can I forget that day. Telephone was one good thing that happened to our life. I could talk to my parents and when you father used to travel so far, at least he used STD booths to call and inform that he is coming late. Later when you went to hostel and your sis got married we could talk to you. Otherwise if we would have waited for the letters, my blood pressure would have been very high by now.'

I was thinking so many memories and again came back to the point and said 'yes you are right. But sometimes it was difficult to get my hostel lines and baba (I call my father) used to try the line for hours. That was really pathetic! Isn't it?'

Ma said ' Oh yes! Sometimes it was difficult to inform urgent news to you and good that at the last year of college you already had a mobile. But it was okay till simple mobile and smart phone came into picture and making all problems.'

I said ' Wait! wait! wait!  Ma.. Nothing like that. You know it helps me and many other including you in different way. Ma, you both are so far from us and yearly visit doesn't satisfy our soul and through smart phone we do video calling and can see you. You can see your grand daughters so frequently. Isn't that true? Google map! How can I not mention that...I totally treasure it. Most importantly banking, buying, selling and many other things in your finger tips. Isn't it? What would you say now.'

Ma said ' yeah... I agree with you."

By that time my father came into our discussion and mother wanted to change the topic.

Ma said ' Let's talk about you. We could not come to your place for long vacation because so urgent house renovation. So how is your work and how are you managing home and work together? Don't forget to take care of your health, you know the saying 'Health is wealth'.

I replied 'Every thing is going very smooth Ma which I ever imagined. Thanks to the evolution of technology.'

Ma questioned ' Now from where technology came in to picture behind your peaceful life?'

Baba was smiling.

I calmly said 'Smart devices are the key behind my smart home solution.' I pointed towards my Smart wearable and said ' This watch takes care of my health. It helps to track my activity and fitness. It helps to monitor heart rate, calorie and even sleep monitoring.'

smart watch Stock Photo - 42121442

Ma said 'Interesting! tell you what are the other Smart devices that helps you. When gurguri (they call our daughter) at home and you have to go shop how do you manage then. Is your smart device help you that time?

I said ' yes of course! Recently we have installed a Smart Camera to monitor your gurguri's activity when she is alone at home. Even if I am away for half an hour I am satisfied that someone is keeping track of her activity and I can see it from remote place in my smart phone.'

Ma said ' I agree you smart devices are has brought #SmartHomeRevolution in your life. But your father is planning to buy Smart lights. What are those and how they will help us?'

I replied 'Smarts lights are results of cool innovative technology which controls the home's lighting system. Using your smart device you can control the lights at home and save energy. It uses automatic light dimming and saves energy consumption. Some of the smart lights also change colour and set the ambience of your home according to your need.'

I continued 'I would recommend you to get a Google Home, so that you can control your Smart Home with your voice.'

man sitting on a sofa and holding a tablet computer with smart home on the screen Stock Photo - 53553969

I did not see any oppose and anxiousness in my mother's face but she asked 'But how do we get them here in a small town. Those smart devices are mostly available in the mega cities. Isn't it?'

Yes I could make her understand why Smart Devices are part of our life now. I told her 'Flipkart has envisioned #SmartHomeRevolution, so you can order it from Flipkart easily and they do deliver at small towns.'

End of the day I made my parents happy and we continued with our chat followed by some garam samosa.

Readers who are reading my post right now I would recommend Smart Home to ease your life and don't forget to add a Smart Watch and #GetFitWithFlipkart.





Broccoli Baby Corn Chicken in Soya Sauce

Cold has increased since the start of a new year and morning newspaper has the evidence as the news said mercury was dropped to 12.4 degree C. I know many of you are staying in the freezing zone might laugh. But then people adapt the weather where they belong to. Bangalore always have a moderate temperature throughout the year hence we enjoy this climate. 

I am not complaining about cold because this is the season we get lot of fresh produce and varieties of Winter veggies. Do you love veggies too? Being a pure non-vegetarian, I have grown up in a family who relish vegetarian meals. My mother has more affinity towards a vegetarian meal than a non-vegetarian and the reason we grew up in a similar manner. 



Due to moderate climate condition, we get almost all the vegetables throughout the year. However, the price of the vegetables definitely vary depending on the season. But if you wish to have something at any point of year, your wish will be full filled and this is another reason Bangaloreans are lucky. 


When I see colourful vegetables in the market I end up buying all the varieties including broccoli, baby corn, three colour bell peppers, spring onions and many more . After putting them into fridge I start thinking about some recipes using those vegetables. There are some usual recipes using these veggies however, I am a food blogger and my hands itch to try something new every time. I had some chicken breast pieces which we normally use in fried rice, noodles, pizza or soup as we prefer bony pieces in our curry.



Immediately I thought of creating a Chinese style chicken recipe with loads of vegetables. I named the dish Broccoli Baby Corn Chicken in Soya Sauce which is a medley between chicken and vegetables. Chicken breasts are apt for this recipe and it goes very well with fried rice or noodles. People like me who are non-vegetarian and love eating vegetables this is the perfect dish for them. So if you have bought all varieties of vegetables like me and don't know how to use them up, try this broccoli baby corn chicken in soya sauce and you will repeat it. People who are purely vegetarian can replace chicken with tofu or Paneer or even soya chunks.


Broccoli Baby Corn Chicken in Soya Sauce

Ingredients


Chicken - 400 gms, boneless medium pieces

Broccoli - 1 cup florets, blanched
Baby Corn - 6 to 7, cut into halves
Capsicum - cut into cubes, 1/2 cup
Red Bell Pepper -cut into cubes, 1/2 cup
Yellow Bell Pepper - cut into cubes, 1/2 cup
Onion - 2 medium, cut into cubes
Garlic pods - chopped, 1 teaspoon
Spring Onion - 3 tablespoon, chopped
Green Chilli -  2 to 3, sliced
Soya Sauce - 2 teaspoon
Tomato Ketchup - 1 tablespoon
Dry Red Chilli - 2 to 3, cut into pieces
Black Pepper Powder - 2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon
Corn Flour - 1- 2 tablespoon (use as required)
Lime Juice - 2 teaspoon
Refined Oil - 1/2 cup or as required for deep frying


Procedure

1. Marinate the chicken pieces with lime juice, black pepper powder and salt for 30 minutes. 

2. Now heat oil in a wok and sprinkle corn flour on the chicken pieces and deep fry them. Drain the oil and keep them on kitchen towel to soak the extra oil. 
3. Reduce the oil on the wok and keep 2 to 3 tablespoon of oil and add the chopped dried red chillies.
4. Next add chopped garlic and once they are golden add the onion cubes.
5. Add a pinch of sugar and cook under medium flame.
6. Once the onions are translucent add all three bell peppers, baby corn and broccoli and cook under high heat. Add salt at this stage.
7. Next add spring onion, green chilli and black pepper powder. Toss them well. 
8. Now add fried chicken pieces and mix well. 
9. Next add tomato ketchup sauté for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes add soya sauce. 
10. Now dissolve 2 teaspoon of corn flour in chicken stock or water and add in the pan. Allow to boil and taste the salt. 
11. After 3 to 4 minutes switch off the flame and sprinkle some chopped spring onion on top and serve hot.






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