Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bites Morsels and Reflections 2013 and Welcome 2014 !!


2013 had been very kind to me..albeit busy enough to keep me on toes and prevent me from visiting this little food space...but if you were to go by this  catalogue raisonnĂ©e,you will know of the  raisons (reasons) that kept me away from Eastern Aroma for too-many-days-to-count.


Yes, it was a year of travel and yumminess....and there are far too many reasons to keep me away from  you. Each and every place visited had its own distinct flavor that has taught me a thing or two about experimenting with the traditional Bengali palate.



Like who would have known that me and my 2 year something would be so smitten by the Japanese flavours..Sushi Sashimi Inari...or for that matter with Wasabi coated bites ...its just amazing to see and experience how the texture and technique varies with distance yet there is a faint resemblance of flavors with  identical staples of fish and rice between Japanese and the Bengali cuisine. 

The food journey does not end at this...it begins.Think sharing a tropical fruit and ice cream platter with mom and bro in India to savoring a coveted dish of Tasmanian freshly harvested oysters with a dash of lime in Hobart  to having warm pancakes with farm-fresh raspberry compote , in Deloraine, a small Tasmanian village...Yes, life's all about stories of little morsels from all over...

Here's hoping the good times keep rolling for you and me, and our life be full of these luscious morsels.

Right now taking a pause just to recollect and connect ...ramble about the days gone by and be starry eyed about the days to come. All I want to do is spend time with family and friends,kick up a notch at work and do some real de-toxing of my mind body and soul...

But that's another day..for now let's say Cheers to a bright new year..Welcome 2014.
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!! Let's say it with some Kalakand.

Here's Wishing all a Very Happy New Year ...hope the new year comes knocking at your door with heaps of happiness, truckloads of love....and all that you've ever wished and dreamed of.


Kalakand/Milk Dessert

 
Agree, Its been my longest hiatus--- ever since this little food nook of mine came into being.
A lot has happened since my last post, and those of you who have been reading me here and wondering whether I really disparaged into the great amazons to look for the perfect bride for my brother, will be relived to know that the answer is a very non-adventurous NO :P...In reality I did move continents...packed...unpacked...and now slowly inching towards a 'settled' mode.

I have practically cooked non-stop in these past few months...ate at perhaps even more athletic speed. My newly acquired double digit dress size is perhaps the lone witness..Nevertheless, there are diets and there are these new year resolutions. Arent't they??

In-line with the diet resolutions and the fact that we always begin a new year with a sweet something, let me present a famous Kalakand recipe...This easy peasy microwave Kalakand recipe happens to be my mashi's specialty and I'm just so proud to attempt and share.




Microwave Kalakand recipe : 

 
Ingredients for the KalaKand : 

2 cups full cream milk powder
I cup heavy cream
1 can condensed milk
1/2 cup grated or chopped skinless pistachios

Method : 

Mix all the ingredients for the Kalakand (omit pistachios here) in a microwave safe bowl and keep whisking till the consistency is very smooth. 

Now set the microwave on high (this High setting suggestion is for a 900-watt microwave) for about 7 minutes and run it, but remember to keep an hawk’s eye on the dish to keep the milk from boiling over. If you see the mixture rising then stop, whisk and start again.

Once the 7 minutes are over in the oven, whisk the Kalakand briskly to break all lumps and set in the microwave for 7 more minutes. Break lumps, but by now the milk solids will be little soft and grainy in texture. Spread on a deep dish or plate and sprinkle with pistachios. Cut to shape when cooled.
Serve at room temperature.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do...

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Great Indian Bride Hunt – with a Side of Sponge Cake.



No don’t get me wrong. A sponge cake has almost nothing to do with a bride hunt of any kind whatsoever. Although I must add that it does have a HUGE role in keeping my senses intact and energy levels up and running while I’m participating in this bride hunting circus quite actively.

So the bride in question is my brother’s significant other – and I’m assigned a rather huge responsibility to sniff that right match out from a bevy of matrimonial portals. The groom to be is totally in sync, but completely perplexed by the complexity of the internet diaspora and rather confused of with the manner the online marriage psyche goes.

To begin the great Indian bride hunt, we (me and my brother) made his matrimonial profile, ceremoniously loaded it with all the indispensable details, added our parental blessings to it and put it up online for the prospective brides to view. All well so far, just that there were no real matches (like from girls who might be interested in us) to choose from! Disappointed with the results, I relied on the Web’s creativity to bail me out, and there I hit upon a facial feature search, in which if I like a girl (perhaps purely for her looks) I can ask the web to do a similar search and if will hunt all the similarly looking girls and line up for us to choose. I tried, and I had five 25 year old with a dimpled chin gazing at me from my computer screen. Whoa, it can’t get more hilarious that this!

 Now if you are thinking that by now the match is already fixed and my brother is gleefully exchanging numbers and meeting women, you can’t be far from wrong.


Why Not? You ask. SO, as far as the online matrimonial dynamics go (or what I understand of it), the bride and the groom come in the second round of screening.   My brother is mightily miffed, but has grudgingly accepted the fact that if he were to start calling the prospective brides, he will run the risk of being seen as a ’no values’ guy. As it’s not really a US speed dating in an Indian Avatar. It’s truly an ‘ancient traditions weds Web 2.0’ circus come alive. 

The current modus operandi for us is that the elders of my family (even I fall into this category now as I have been assigned the task-remember?) do the first round, where the ideal matches are sorted out, spoken with and moved to the second round only after getting the affirmative nods.

Interestingly, most of these searches are done on a weekend, which is why I’m here talking about it. So today our entire family gathered online, communally wracked their brains on the perfect matches and participated in the exercise of mailing the doe eyed brides. Now, we practically have nothing to do expect for to wait and watch.

And what I do during these in between times on a semi –idle weekend is bake a cake, And nothing' better than  a light and airy Sponge Cake to lift the spirits up.  I certainly can’t do it better than Smitten Kitchen.  My only adaptation was to to leave out the cognac and lemon combination for the lack of both in my pantry.

Airy Sponge Cake

Ingredients: 

1 3/4th cups (226 gms) butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder
Salt
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar

Method : 
Do the usual cake dance, like the dry together and wet together. The only trick is to fluff the eggs like feather and sifts the flour fine. Once done, Mix it and bake it.

The sweeter side of the bride hunting madness.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Got Guilt Mommy? Pause.Have some Chocolate Truffles.


Yesterday I got a frantic call from a friend; her toddler is my daughter’s classmate at the playgroup.  We all met up at the time of admission and bonded well while our kids were adjusting to the new school environs.
Now If I have to sum up the purpose of the call in a word then I’d call it GUILT. C’mon let’s admit which one of us has not faced it, especially the working moms. Gosh we are smothered with it.

Going back to her call –This friend of mine quit work when she had a baby and now (after a good two and a half years later) thinking of joining the workforce back. That’s HUGEE, so I congratulated her and then I hear her whimpered voice, asking if she is making the right decision. She wanted to know if the daycare my daughter goes, is good enough for her child too. Will they love her and feed her milk the way she is used to having at home. I wish I could answer  a loud Yes, but I guess no establishment in the world can replace the mommy care. Right? I wish I could sum up my experiences in one single phone call and somehow explain that inspite of all odds it’s still all right to go back to work.

I have experienced it first-hand that being a working mom of a young kid is the hardest thing ever. I wish I could convince this harried and hesitant mom who is being so hard on herself that it’s all going to be okay, and that someday we would laugh about it all, even the tough days. There are no yardsticks  and no measuring tape …just like there is NO perfect mother . We are one of those moms who come home late. We work really hard, and like everyone else come home to put away the scattered toys and cook the family favorite and inspite of all odds we will read that bedtime story  and kiss the bruises goodbye. We will sometimes wear an unmatched earrings or an un-ironed shirt to work, just to trade off that time for baking every little ones favorite chocolate balls.  

Now scoot mom. Enjoy the mommy time. Bake this with your little one and bite. Since our world is so covered with guilt , at least these chocolate truffles make you forget abstinence and denial for once. And I promise that these Chocolate Truffles have half the calories and 75 percent less fat compared to regular truffles. Hallejullah!
Guilt Free Chocolate Truffles 

Ingredients

½ can black beans- rinsed and drained
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup cocoa powder 
1/2 cup mixed nuts
3 tbsp honey
½ cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white flour 
2 tbs chia seeds (optional)

To Coat
2 tbsp cocoa and 1tbs powdered sugar.

Method
Combine all ingredients in preferably a processor and give it a whirr till it forms a smooth dough. The dough will be moist and sticky so chill it for a few hours before forming the balls. 

Once its chilled, roll it into small balls and generously dust  the balls in cocoa powder and refined sugar mixture.  Freeze for a firmer truffle. Enjoy!



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weight Watching with Sabu'r Paayesh/Tapioca Pudding with Mangoes


I have a confession to make.

I have a serious problem. Seasonal ? yes, you can say that.

The season is SPRING. It’s upon me, and of course, I have to look the part. So I started this week by ceremoniously showing some sun to all my pretty, girlie, flowery and short wearable’s, which had been put away for the winter and stacked them back into my regular wardrobe. With only a step short of stepping into them and hop scotching my way into the market, with a bright tote dangling from my shoulder…I realized that the’ only step’  is the pigheaded winter weight.

It’s not that I did not try (err shedding it) before pouring it all out here. I religiously clicked on ALL the health newsletters that popped into my mailbox , with their eye catching headers ranging anything from ‘be bikini ready in 10 days’ to ‘get ready for the summer shorts’, but somehow all this reading up did nothing for my winter waistline. 

I was about to try the detox juice diet for the navratras , started and gave it up by the evening. I convinced myself that I’m a mother and need more calories than Miranda Kerr to sustain herself. Low carb makes me feel dizzy and high protein plays with my entire digestive system (how else could I delicately frame pukish).

If by now you are thinking about shaking the booty, you are right. Gym’s a great option for people my shape.  So finally ,today I  rubbed clean my dusty membership card along with chiding my willpower and  decided to run a few kilometers on the treadmill. After huffing and puffing for a few minutes I felt that my legs have started resembling toothpicks, and I needed some food. I started thinking of all the healthy post workout meals and rushed to the attached food court. There the salad looked stale and way too less for the growling stomach .

I return home (in a listless state!) to a cup full of soaked tapioca seeds and some mangoes in my refrigerator. Fully aware that my spring wardrobe is still waiting.I turn on my thinking cap.What do I do with my oh-so healthy tapioca and fruits , in a precarious self-induced fasting mode? Of course turn it to a feast.

The delicious part is that Sabu'r Paayesh or Tapioca Pudding with Mangoes is the best post workout meal one can have, high on carbs with added nutrients in the form of mango; it almost makes it feel like a plate of warm yellow gold. It’s great for kids and is a go-to meal during the fasting days. I'm so In love with this new mango infusion.

Sabu'r Paayesh/Tapioca Pudding with Mangoes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup tapioca/Sabu/sabudana
1 cup hot water
1 large fresh mangoes ( cut to bite size pieces)
1 large mango puree
3 cups milk (you can substitute with coconut, soy  or almond milk)
Sugar to taste (I substituted with 2 tbsp splenda)

Method:
Soak the tapioca/sabudana in hot water for an hour. One they are swollen and springy in texture, wash then with running cold water and set aside.

Heat the milk till its reduced to 11/2 cups, now add the tapioca, and mix well. Add sugar and cook till its of a desired consistency. Add the mango puree and let it cool. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve chilled, topped with a few slices of mangoes.

You can also serve in a glass by  adding one scoop of cooked tapioca in milk , then add a scoop of mango puree in glass and serve..

Friday, April 19, 2013

A tale of warm Friday Fries


Daily life is boring. In so many years of togetherness, I have learnt that it’s me who is the undisputed kitchen and grocery minister of the house. A post which I have to accept with abandon, and to keep up I have to earn the 'good votes' on a daily basis. Not easy to keep up - I warn you.To survive the position, I get off from work early and set the kitchen fire, of course I have to make it up by working late into the nights (ah well somedays I blog at this hour with a side of red), so I can’t really be complaining, and to top it – I like cooking, so this mumbo jumbo just comes from a lack of direction and plan.

You know, its fun when I have an inspiration and ingredients, and absolute agony when I have the office laptop on the kitchen counter, where an undone presentation is open, and I have a demanding toddler sitting beside it while I’m wiping off the onion tears!  Even though I cover the basics by asking the ' what do ya for dinner' question routinely ,but  its almost always answered by blank stares like I've asked a life philosophy and on days when I get an answer, it’s the ‘fries/pakoras on the side’ please. So much for inspiration, but that’s how it is.

You now where it’s all going. Don’t you?

When you cook keeping the moods and days of the week in mind, it not only increases the happiness quotient of the house, it benefits the wallet, shaves off the restaurant trans-fat & in general creates a festive mood . Fresh and simple ingredients force your skin to say thank you too. This simple selection of summer fries or the more popularly known term pakoras, is usually a stable for long and elaborate bong  lunches, add a side of salad and dip and you have introduced it to the evening bar gang. Tastes best when the vegetables are picked fresh from the market  and the oil is fresh, pungent and mustardy.  Very sophisticated , yet so rustic.

The Friday Fries/Pakoras (Assorted Vegetables Fried in Chickpea Batter)

Ingredients :
1 cup Chickpea flour (besan/garbanzo bean flour)

1 medium Cauliflower (cut into florets) 3/4 cup water

1 Potato (thickly cut lengthwise)

1 Bell Pepper (de-seeded and cut lengthwise)

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp choice of seasoning (Garlic, Onion, roasted cumin, Parsley, garam masala) or other spices of choice)

Chat masala to taste

Mustard oil to deep fry (or any other vegetable oil of choice)

Method:
In a bowl mix all ingredients (except vegetables and mix well till its turns into a smooth and thick batter).
Dip the vegetable florets in the batter and deep fry.

You can also choose to grill/bake. All you need to do is brush a little oil on batter dipped vegetables and the baking pan.

Bake for 25 minutes at 175 C.

If frying , deep fry till the vegetables are cooked well.

Serve hot  and sprinkle some chat masala before serving.



Monday, April 15, 2013

Shubho Nobo Borsho with Gurer Sondesh.




Traditions are nostalgic, and nostalgia makes us want to relive those moments’ real bad, making us do things which turns the plain vanilla days --Festive.


That feeling is infectious indeed.  It comes in all forms, sometimes it’s a religious rite, a certain aroma you wake up to on a given day every year, It even comes in the form of some awkward family ritual that you are forced to perform every year, no matter how much you cringe and groan silently, all these bits and pieces of traditions bind us and makes us feel like a family.

We miss it, when it’s gone.

And then perhaps comes the cycle of recreating it for our next generation, so that once they are as grow up as us , they feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about it. Just the way I’m musing over it all today.

My fuzzy feeling nuzzles peacefully in the form of this freshly made Gurer Sondesh. Using up all the last bits of patali gur (palm jaggery ) preserved carefully for the nobo borsho celebration, before we bid adieu to the patali till the onset of winters. During my childhood days, all we had to do was to touch the feet of all the elders around we were rewarded with this family favorite (did I mention home cooked?) sweet.

For me , It’s time again  to relive those memories.No feets nearby, but blessing are much awaited.Ma are you reading?

Gurer Sondesh 

Ingredients 
2 litres full cream milk
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup Patali gur (palm jaggery ) or ¾ cup Sugar
Moulds

How to’s 

Bring the milk to boil and while it’s boiling add the lime juice. Lower the heat. The milk will curdle and separate from the whey (a greenish coloured liquid ). Let it sit  for a bit and then strain the whey . Rinse the channa /cottage cheese under running water to get rid of the lemony taste. Now tie the channa /cottage cheese in a fine cloth and weigh it down with a heavy substance (like the mortar and pestle) for a few hours. This will drain out any excess liquid.

After a few hours , you should knead the  chhana with the gur , till it mixes well. You can heat the jaggery in a microwave for a few seconds so that it’s soft enough to knead. The heel of your hand is your best kneading bet here! Once you are done, the channa with start to resemble like a smooth ball of dough in pale brown or white, depending on your choice of sweetener.

Take the dough and cook on a very low heat. Say 5-6 minutes is enough. Once done, switch off the heat and straightaway contour the chana with molds or just toss into balls. They are ready for the celebration.


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