Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rasmalai /Pujor Charte Din - Nostalgia

rasmalai durga puja
Pujo is a time that screams HOME , nothing like the smell of notun jama (new clothes) , the cacophony of the honking cars, claustophobic mad queues and accidental meeting of the 'unknown' inquisitive dada boudi (acquaintances)gang...the stuff that I had been complaining for years at my ma baba's place is what I'm crazily longing for now in my phoren land .

 The Pujo days are almost identical. .as far as my memory goes. ..they have always been the same  ..just feels so out of reach now.

durga ma
Ma would scream at me for dipping my hand in the cookie jar before the Anjali, almost bully me to get inside the bathroom with my crisp new clothes so that I can hurry up and go to the pandal with her. By the time I managed to pull my that dressed up look together,  Ma would've had set with the breakfast table with Luchi Alur Chorchori and Payesh.Something to look forward to right after the Anjali. ..I know the food nostalgia is sweeping me away I wish I could be a part of the chaos and cacophony , and now if the fate allows, I promise to be right on time for Anjali, albeit in my notun jama and make up dabbed avatar totally set for the Instragram selfies. Wishful thinking!
durga pujo

Oh well I know I cant replicate the pujor gondho and alhad , or compete with the talent and aromas of my mom's kitchen , I can certainly make an humble attempt to recreate the rasmalai . The family favorite dish we cook year on year...

There are maestros who have posted step by step recipes with techniques, so I have lazily skipped that step. You can take a look at Garima's blog here

 Rasmalai : 

Ras Malai consists of two main steps , First : make the sponge cheese patty and then second step is to prepare the the saffron-and-cardamom-infused sweet creamy milk to soak the patty.

Step 1:  Prepare paneer by curdling the milk with lime juice, once curdled, remove from heat immediately . know knead till it leaves the fat. Now prepare the sugar syrup with a ratio of 4:1 water:sugar.

Then b) divide into 10-12 portions. and now roll each portion into a ball and flatten it gently between your palms.  Your patty will increase in its size after cooking.

Now once your sugar syrup is boiling , drop the patty one by one. I make in a pressure cooker. I pressure cook on high for one whistle. Then 7 minutes on medium heat and 2 minutes without heat. Then open the lip by pouring cold water on cooker. Now take the patty out and drop them one by one in water. 
Step 2 is preparing the Saffron and Cardamom infused milk . I used 1 litre milk and boiled it in a saucepan on medium heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reduced to half . Now add the 1 cup of saffron soaked warm and crushed cardamoms and pistachios. Finally add 1/4 cup sugar . Cook for 5 more minutes. You are set , adjust to taste. Once cooled add the water soaked patty (after draining out the water) and chill for a few hours.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Buckwheat or Kuutu ka Atta Cookies for the Navrat Fasting Community

buckwheat cookies
Cookies are indeed an indulgence. Something which needs to be abstained during the fasting days . Isn't that what fasts are all about ? but then there are folks like me , secretly (and unashamedly ) salivating for a bite to to dip into their morning cuppa. For those who are wondering why am I talking about all the feasting permutations and combinations during the fast days  - well its the Indian way of rewarding the gods and goddesses (and oneself if I may add ) with all the purest ingredients in all its grandeur. 
So how come Cookies were never mentioned in our fasting Navratra platter? Well you see our grandmas were too busy creating the most delicate and intricate dishes with the most holistic ingredients to bother about dipping their cookies in chai (tea). The westernization of the Indian fasting platter was frowned upon, but the times are changing, with the Five Star restaurants like Sheraton introducing a Chinese fasting platter replete with Buckwheat noodles and Fried wontons made of Chestnut flour, why should I be ashamed of salivating for a humble cookie.   So here's how this humble cookie came into being .. not great pics as I repeat , I'm not a photographer. I manage to click whatever the iphone allows. But hey! don't be bothered with all that. Just mix and bake, its gluten free cookie nirvana on a plate. 
kuttu ka atta cookies

Buckwheat Cookies (Fasting,Vegan, Gluten free)

These Buckwheat Cookies are grain-free, egg-free, naturally sweet and vegan-friendly!

1 cup buckwheat or Kuttu Ka Atta
1cup Almond flour
1 cup butter or coconut oil for vegans
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250 C
In a baking bowl cream the honey and butter. Now add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Once the batter is ready , you can drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet.  l
Bake at 170C for around 9 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.The allow to cool on the pan. Bite when you can wait no longer!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The 'Whittle the Middle' Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake
For those of you who have been reading me (not that I’m claiming to be a superstar blogger in any case!)  Know that I have also been battling with some sort of weighty issues on and off. Whenever the anxiety gets better of me, I resort to diet, and on good days stick to what I do best- cook and eat.  

For the uninitiated, I’ll let you know what the problem is - there’s this bong waistline sticking to me in its all glorified version for as long as I know myself. Now bong waistline is definitely not any other undistinguished thick waist you need to cry aloud about. It’s different.  It’s the ambrosial factors that contribute to its making. Think Rosogollas, Think Bhapa Mishti doi or even a plain jane Luchi can claim its share of fame in the making of a bong waist.

I said enough is enough, I give up the luxuries of a bong treat in an attempt to Un-bong the adage clinging to my cleavage. However the sweet tooth refuses to leave and the low carb sweet less avatar of me is least appealing especially to the onlookers or people on the receiving end of phone line (god save the souls of cold calling sales staff of Australia!).
 Heck! A bit of browsing and some scanning of the kitchen pantry post office and daycare pickup hours led me to this wonderful creation. Perfect for on its way-to-whittle the bong belly phase of my life. 

I’m not a claim to fame photographer and lil S’s patience came to a screeching halt as soon as the freshly baked , still warm from the oven ooey gooey chocolate cake was dusted with sugar. Need I say more on why I have only one lame picture sitting here?

Time to know what went into its making, its adapted from the iFood recipe : 

The 'whittle the middle' Chocolate Cake:


2 large eggs
3/4 cup applesauce/or any fruit puree/pumpkin puree  which you may have at hand
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your baking tray. 

In a bowl, whisk all the liquids including eggs.

In another medium bowl, mix the dry bits now carefully add the dry to the wet. Only mix til its non- lumpy .

Transfer to the baking dish. This is a moist and sticky cake, so a springform works best. You can also try a regular baking dish with a butter paper lined base

Bake 40-45 mins at 180, till a toothpick comes clean.

Skip the ganache or icing if you too dream skinny (like me:))

Monday, June 16, 2014

Aam Dal/Raw Mango Lentil Soup - Summer Comfort Food for the Bong Soul

Aam Dal/Raw Mango Lentil Soup
Well, I’m back!  It was nice to take a break from blogging and blog reading ..but WAIT…the world didn't pause itself to wait for me…so why am I apologising ..?

Anyways, I’ll catch you up on what’s new and exciting.  For starters the week has stated with a bang and also on a bit puzzling note. Big decisions have been raising the roof for my verdict and, as usual, my mind is facing the usual conflict situations. I like options. Cutting down the possibilities makes me panicky. So nervous that I find myself browsing the aisles of Target for sale options , rummaging through the local thrift store for exciting bits or reaching out for that last cookie in the jar and licking the chips packet clean. All done in an attempt to divert my floozy mind. Escapist, am I?  

The escapist in me has more than one form of venting out. Like? While window shopping or browsing the aisles of supermarket and speaking to my Lil  in a word or two in Bengali, I have often come across probashi Bengalis. The escapist in me starts a heart-to-heart almost instantly..

And Maybe I’m not the only one…this is perhaps how the story of Bengalis in a foreign land often starts:

 ‘bah Apnio bangali/Wow you too are Bengali’ and then ‘Kothay bari ? From where? At this point I’m probably trying to assess if they from India or Bangaladesh or perhaps a Ghoti or Bangal. Being Ghoti or Bangal, has no relevance whatsoever to a person thousand miles away from Bangal , but it does give a faint sort of relief to me looking for some familiarity.

Isn’t it true that familiarity is what we yearn when it comes to cooking home food. Otherwise why else would I want to cook an Aam Daal in winter. Yes its cold in my part of the continent, and aam daal is supposed to be a cooling dish, preferred with rice of hot summers of India.

Without digressing from the Recipe further, I shall start.
Aam Dal/Raw Mango Lentil Soup
Aam Dal/Raw Mango Lentil Soup
Aam Dal/Raw Mango Lentil Soup
Raw Mango (cut into small cubes) – 1
Onion– 1
Green Chillies – 2
Masoor Dal/Red Daal – 1/2 cup
Refined Oil – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
For Seasoning:
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Asafoetida – a pinch

Heat oil in the pressure cooker and add all the seasoning , green chillies, chopped onions and now add the mangoes here and sautee them for 2 minutes.
Then add the washed red dal and salt and sugar, and  add around 4 cups water.
Pressure cook for 4 whistles.

Maybe we Bengalis long for common things among the uncommon, and share a common palate which goes beyond the common songs and singers!!

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 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.

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


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
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.

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