Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cheese Free Basil Pesto

    Basil leaf is a wonderful herb, also known as Great basil or King of the herbs or Royal Herbs, because it has many uses not only in cooking, but also in natural medicine and many more. Basil is native to India and many South Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Malayasia, Vietnam, Taiwan, etc. Depending on the species, the leaves may vary in taste from strong, pungent till sweet. Basil is also prominently used in Italian cuisine which is more sweet in taste than pungent. 

    In my locality, it is very unlikely to get Sweet Basil but I was so lucky to have few packs of fresh basil few days back in a newly opened supermarket. My blogger buddy Chandrima of Not out of the Box has posted a Basil Pesto recipe at the same time, too. So, I was sure that I am going to try her recipe as it was quite tempting and super healthy too of addition of nut in there and without any cheese. Usually, most recipes available for basil pesto is with cheese, I loved her cheese free version and followed the recipe as it is. But I couldn't control my temptation over cheese and made a cheesy basil pesto pasta with my cheese-free pesto. I'm going to post the pasta recipe soon just after this. Head over to her page for many wonderful recipes and tempting food photos. 

Now to the recipe................

You Need ::    [ Yields 1 cup of pesto ]

Basil leaves : 2 cups
Almond : 1/4 cup
Garlic cloves : 2-3 (big)
Extra virgin Olive Oil : 2-3 tblsp.
Salt to taste

How To :
  • Tear out the leaves from the stalks. Wash in cold water first and then dip the leaves in a pot full of boiling water for 5 minutes. This way you can disinfect the leaves. 
  • Now, take a food processor or blender. Add almonds first and pulse until a coarse powder forms. Now, add basil leaves and garlic pods and pulse till they are blended well. Add oil and salt and blend till a smooth paste forms. 
  • Basil pesto is ready to savour.
You can have this with crackers, on toasts or make pasta with it. Choice is yours. 

Caution ::
1. You can refrigerate the fresh basil leaves but it doesn't stay fresh not more than a day or max. two.
2. Do not use the wilted leaves in pesto. It may alter the taste of pesto.

I'll post the pasta recipe visit this page again soon for a yummy cheesy pasta recipe.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kashmiri Wazwan Festival in Hyatt Regency Kolkata

One of the finest 5-star business hotels in Salt Lake, Kolkata, Hyatt Regency has organised a Kashmiri Food Festival or Specifically saying a Wazwan Food festival from 2nd of this month till 15th of this month. The beforesaid festival is happening at their Indian restaurant, Guchhi, under the supervision of Executive Chef of Guchhi, Uttam Dey and his team.

      Kashmiri Cuisine is very unique and very different from rest of the North Indian Cuisine. Kashmiri cuisine which uses mostly exotic spices like, Nutmeg, Jaitri, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Ratan jot, Saffron and many more, distinguishes itself from rest of the Indian Cuisine. These spices makes the Kashmiri food very mild but tremendously fragnant. The chefs of Hyatt follows the authentic way of making the dishes and brings exotic spices from Kashmir itself to bring out the authenticity of those dishes.

        Chef Uttam Dey
    My group, Kolkata Food Bloggers got invitation to preview some of the Dishes they are going to serve for the festival and I was there to represent my group. I am very much satisfied after tasting these delicacies. All of them were equally good. Chef and his team need a big round of applause for such an elaborate and varied menu and serving such an unique Cuisine of India to the people of Kolkata.
     They have designed the menu for both Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian eaters. All the dishes will be from a-la-carte(from the menu, not any buffet), but they have set a Veg and Non-veg. thali menu too for the festival.

 A Non-veg. Thali consists of seekh kabab, Gustaba, Rogan josh and many more with a naan and Kashmiri Pulao/rice.

Now, at first in the appetizers, they served us a Non-veg and a veg Seekh Kabab. Both were good but as a non-vegetarian, I liked the Non-veg seekh Kabab or Waza Seekh Kabab more. It was juicy and crunchy and just as spicy it should be.

 Non-veg Seekh Kabab

Veg. Seekh Kabab

     In the side dishes we're served, Kashmiri Dum Aloo and Rajma Masala, both were extremely well-prepared. Dum Aloo is a must-try for both veg and non-veg eaters. Tomato Paneer was a bit spicier side for me but tasted really good, a must try for vegetarians. All the vegetarian side dishes tasted really good with both Naan and Kashmiri Pulao they served.

      In Non-veg., Kashmiri cuisine's famous Gushtaba is there. Gushtaba is a dish of minced mutton balls cooked in curd and spices. This traditional Kashmiri dish is prepared in important ceremonies and functions. Minced mutton balls were soft, juicy and velvety and tasted quite good. Tabaak Maaz or the fried mutton ribs which needs a special mention as a non-veg. side dish. It was really nice and I'm totally recommending this to all. Not to forget Kashmiri speciality, Mutton Ragan Josh which is a must if you're trying Kashmiri Cuisine and they have a delicious Rogan Josh in the menu.

     All the dishes were accompanied by a very simple tomato-onion salad in Kashmiri style.

     After veg and non-veg side dishes, the jewel of Kashmiri Cuisine, Kashmiri Mutton Biriyani came to the stage. The biriyani was mild but pretty fragnant and mutton pieces were succulent, allover a great dish and recommendable. They also served a Gucchi Biriyani, cooked with a mushroom named Guchhi, it was quite tasty and it is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant(even restaurant named after this biriyni). Both the biriyanis were good.

        In dessert, they have served us a very famous dry fruits Dessert of Kashmir - Shufta. Though quite heavy as it is loaded with dry fruits but quite tasty and finally loved the peach flavoured frozen dessert which has ice-cream like texture. Totally in love with the dessert, served on a bed of sweet vermicelli.

Who doesn't know about the famous Kashmiri Kahwa tea and Hyatt is serving that too in this festival. Kahwa tea, is nothing but green tea infused with a range of spices including cinnamon and cardamom, and served with a touch of saffron. After a heart-warming meal like this, you need a sip of this soul-soothing drink for sure, which will make your meal a memorable one, I guarantee.

Verdict :: Overall a very good experience and totally recommending everyone who love to try authentic cuisines. It is an event which should not be missed. This Wazwan Food festival is only for dinner and prices of each dish ranges from 250-900 rs.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Grilled Veg Masala Sandwich

  Posting a breakfast recipe after long time here. Grilled Veg Masala Sandwich it is.......................

Sandwich has become staple in every Indian households long ago because they take relatively less time to prepare and also very filling and could be very healthy if you can use whole-wheat bread. But it sometimes get boring, eating everyday the same type of sandwich. The key is to make it versatile by using different ingredients everyday to make it interesting for each day. Kids get bored quite easily but the Masala Sandwich I'm going to share today, it's never get boring. You need boiled potato, few cucumber and tomato slices and off course few slices of bread.
You can use any type of bread for this sandwich, but healthier option always will be whole-wheat breads.You can grill them on an electric sandwich maker or you can toast it on a flat tawa.

You Need :
Breads : 4 slices
Tomato : 1, medium, cut into round slices
Cucumber : few round slices

For Aloo/potato masala or filling :
Potato : 2, medium, boiled
Onion : 1, small, thinly sliced
Tomato : 1, small
Green chilli : 1, chopped
Ginger : 1/2", grated
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
Red chilli powder : 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves : a little, chopped

How To :
  • Cut cucumber and tomatoes in thin rounds. Keep aside. Now let's make the potato masala. For that, take oil in a pan, add sliced onions and saute them. When they change color, add chopped tomatoes, green chillies and ginger. Saute again till everything mashed up well. Now add turmeric and chilli powder, mix. Now add boiled and mashed potato in the pan. Mix with the masala well. Season with salt. Add some chopped fresh coriander leaves, mix well and saute for a minute further. Remove from pan and let the potato masala cool a bit before we put inside the sandwich.
  • Take 2 bread slices, add butter/margarine on one side of each bread. If you are making the sandwich on electric sandwich maker, first put one slice of bread with butter side down. Spread 2 big spoonful of potato masala evenly on that bread. Arrange cucumber and tomato slices on top of potato masala. Now cover it with another slice of bread with the butter side facing up. Grill for 1-2 minutes till bread turns slightly brown. Cut diagonally from the center and serve.
  • If you are making the sandwich on tawa, them put one slice of bread butter side down, spread 2 big spoonful of potato masala evenly on that bread. Arrange cucumber and tomato slices on top of potato masala. Now cover it with another slice of bread with the butter side facing up. Toast the lower side first, then flip to the other side and toast till bread turn golden brown. 
  • Your sandwich is ready....have it with tea or coffee or serve it with some tomato Ketchup.

 So, try it you friends and let me know how it is.............................

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Potato-Brinjal Sabji with Capsicum (Aloo-baingan Sabji with capsicum)

Eggplant/Brinjal and Capsicum goes hand in hand....I love both veggies and try to combine these two in many ways and it goes very well as a side dish with rice or roti for dinner. I tried adding some potato in this eggplant-capsicum curry. Without potato also, it tastes well. Everybody at home liked it, too. Even I make Baigan Bharta with bell pepper some time.


Ingredients :
Eggplant/Baingan/Brinjal : 2 (medium)
Capsicum/simla mirch/bell pepper : 1 (chopped)
Potato : 1 or 2, (medium-cubed)
Onion : 1 (medium-chopped)
Ginger : 1 piece (1"), minced
Tomato : 1 (medium-chopped)
Green chilli : 1 or 2 chopped)
Cumin seeds(jeera) : 1/2 tsp.
Mustard seed : 1/2 tsp. 
Curry leaves : 5-6 nos.
Turmeric powder : 2 tsp.
Red Chilli Powder : 2 tsp.
Coriander powder : 2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 2 tblsp.
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing

Method :
  • Cut eggplant and bell peppers in medium size pieces. Fry eggplant in little oil until brown. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, temper with cumin and mustard seeds, when the seeds begin to crackle, add curry leaves and green chillies, stir few times. Then add onions and saute until it is transparent. Add turmeric, chilli and coriander powder and add little water into the spices. Stir for few seconds.
  • Then add chopped tomatoes, stir and allow to cook until tomatoes get soft and mushy. Add bell pepper, fried eggplant and potato. Add salt to taste and mix well. Add very little water(about 1/3 cup). Put a lid on the pan and allow the veggies to cook on a medium low heat.
  • When veggies are cooked and water evaporates, mix well and remove from heat. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with roti/rice, anything of your choice.............

Try this sometime and let me know if you have liked it !!!!!!!!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kurkure Kakrol Bhaja (Crispy Teasel Gourd Fry) ~ A Monsoon Delicacy

Teasle gourd or Kantola or spiny Gourd is available across most parts of India during monsoons. It has tiny spines all over its body and that is why it has got its name as “Spiny Gourd”. Some may know it as kekrol, kakrol, bhat korola, kartoli or some other names, but one cannot deny the health benefits of this vegetable. It belongs to the bitter gourd family but is not as bitter in taste even with the skin on. It keeps your stomach in good shape during the monsoons.

Kantola is a great health food as it is rich in proteins and iron and is low on calorie. It contains only 17cal/100g. It’s high in fiber and anti-oxidants and thus very useful for easy digestion. It keeps your stomach in good shape during the monsoons by reducing the infections caused and controlling constipation. The phytochemicals present in Kantola or teasle gourd help in promoting the health. The high phenolic content of Kantola makes it a very good antioxidant and promotes cleansing of the body. Carotenoids like Lutein present in this vegetable helps in prevention of various eye diseases, cardiovascular diseases and even cancers.

All plants of the Momordica or bitter gourd family are very effective in controlling diabetes. Hence, this vegetable helps in lowering blood sugar and controlling diabetes.  Since Kantola is mostly available during monsoons, it must be used regularly to keep seasonal cough, cold and other allergies away. It exhibits anti-allergen and analgesic properties that provide relief from cough and cold and also prevent it.   [Info. source :]

In Bengal, Kakrol as we call it, is a beloved vegetable by all because it is very delicious in taste. There are many delicacies which are prepared with this vegetable. Today I'm sharing the simplest one. I'll share more in future. Today's recipe is called, " Kurkure Kalrol Bhaja" where kurkure means crispy and Bhaja means fried, so it is crispy fried teasel gourd with a tempering of poppy seed and dry red chilli, which gives it the awesome taste. Let's move on to the recipe....

You Need :
Kakrol/Kantola : 6-7 pcs.
Poppy seeds : 1 heaped tblsp.
Dry red Chilli(whole) : 1
Green Chilli : 2, slitted from middle
Besan/chickpea flour : 1 tblsp.
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.Oil : 1-2 tblsp. (depends on the quantity of the vegetable)
Salt to taste

How To ::
  • Wash the gourds, well. Do not scrape out the skin. First cut into thin slices in circular shape and then cut from the middle. Try to cut as thin as possible to make it crispy. 
  • Heat 1 tblsp. oil in a pan, temper with dry red chilli. When red chilli turns dark, add the poppy seeds, wait for a few seconds. When they start to crackle and turns a shade darker, add the sliced teasel gourd slices. 
  • Add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. Lower the flame to medium and saute the vegetable. Cover with lid and let it cook, stir time to time. It doesn't take much time.
  • When vegetables are cooked, take the lid off, add 1/2 tblsp. more oil and increase the flame. Keep stirring. The veges will start to turn brown and crunchy. Add chickpea flour, all your excess oil will be absorbed and veges will also turn crispy and crunchy. 
  • Keep stirring them till you feel it is done. 
  • It tastes yummy with rice and dal(lentil) combo. 

Try it !!! Let me know !!! 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My 500 th post :: Plum Tart with Ricotta Cheese Filling and Topped with fresh Plum and almonds

This is the 500th post on my blog and it has to be special something. wow, what a milestone., I am feeling really happy that I could share 500 recipes on this blog. And wish to continue and reach to another milestone sometime soon. Thanks for all the support and love from all of my visitors, readers and blogger friends who were always by my side showing their support someway or other.

       So, today's recipe is a baking recipe as I love to bake. I love tarts and I make quite often at home but this time I have baked with Plums, a not so common fruit in India but nowadays readily available in all the supermarkets.

Plums, also known as Stone fruits, are juicy and delicious fruits that belong to the genus Prunus of the Rosaceae family which also includes peaches, apricots, and nectarines. They exist in diverse colors and shapes with over 2000 different varieties. Plums contain an assortment of healthy components, vitamins and minerals. They have no saturated fats and an excellent source of vitamins such as vitamin A, C, folate and vitamin K.  They are also a good source of vitamin B1(thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B-6 and vitamin E. The minerals present in them include potassium, fluoride, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc. They also supply dietary fiber and offer very low calories without any harmful fats. In Short, Plums are beneficial for
  • Maintaining healthy skin
  • Beneficial during pregnancy 
  • Effective in treating digestive disorders
  • Boosts immunity, heart health and bone health
  • Improves sleeps, concentration and appetite
  • Helps treat obesity and diabetes
  • Prevents Cancer
This tart recipe I found in a baking book and was really easy-to-make and taste delicious with a up of coffee or tea.

You Need : {Makes 12-15 servings}
For Pastry :
All-purpose Flour(APF) : 1 and 1/4 cup
Sugar : 1/3 cup(powdered)
Baking Powder : 11/4 tsp.
Butter : 75 gms./1/2 cup
Egg : 1, slightly beaten

For Filling :
Butter/margarine : 3 tblsp.
Sugar :1/2 cup, powdered
Ricotta Cheese/Paneer : 1 cup
Cornstarch : 1 tblsp.
Egg : 1
Milk : 2 tblsp.
Lemon extract : 1 tsp.
Plum : halved and pitted(deseeded)
Almonds(whole) : 12-15

For Topping :
Butter : 2 tblsp.(melted)
Sugar(powdered) : 2 tblsp.
Cinnamon(ground) : 1/4 tsp.
Blanched almonds : 1/3 cup

How To :
  • Preperation :: 1) Soak Almonds in hot water for about 1/2 an hour. Then you can easily peel out the skin of it. 2) Cut Plums into halves, take out the seeds and keep aside.
  • To make pastry :: In a medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder and sugar. Add butter in it and mix with flour mixture till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the egg slightly and add in the flour crumbs and toss until mixture binds together and form a dough. Pat or press dough into an ungreased tart pan(dough is enough for a 7" tart pan). Prick pastry with tines of a fork. Preheat your oven to 180 degree C and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
  • To make filling :: In a medium bowl, beat butter or margarine and sugar until creamy. Beat in cornstarch and milk. add ricotta cheese/paneer, egg and lemon extract. Here I have used Paneer instead of ricotta cheese. Just crumble the paneer and add in the bowl. Beat until blended. When baked pastry is cool, Spread filling over it. Arrange plums, skin-side down, in a floral pattern over the filling. You can arrange any way you want. Then place a whole almond over each plums. Slice rest of the almonds in thin slices. in preheated oven (in 180 degree C, bake the tart for 30 minutes or till browned. 
  • To make topping ::  Remove the tart from oven, drizzle butter over plums. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon and sliced almonds. Sprinkle over the plums.

  Serve with a cup of Coffee or tea and enjoy the deliciousness 

Sending this Plum tart  to Kolkata Food Bloggers' ongoing event, "Summer Fruit" 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Litchi n Papaya Popsicle to beat the heat

    Summer being pick right now around me, I am always feeling thirsty and always looking for something cool. During summer, I don't feel like eating anything, but just to drink something cool. Litchi being my one of the favorite fruit in summer, I always bring a big bunch whenever I go for shopping, even my kids love them. After plucking and eating them from the branches, I decided to make some popsicle. To add some color to my popsicle, I decided to make them bi-color, by including papaya in my popsicle. Both the fruits are very healthy and tasty and a must have during summer. Now let's see how you can make this Litchi n papaya popsicle in no time.
       You can make popsicle from any fruit juice during summer season, specially which fruit your kid don't like, make it in popsicle form and they'll love it. 

Ingredients : (Yields 7-8 popsicles)
Litchi : 10-12, peeled and de-seeded
Papaya : 1, small, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
Sugar : 2-3 tblsp.
Lemon juice : 2 tsp.
also Need a popsicle mold

How To :
  • First, take cubed papaya, 1 and 1/2 tblsp. sugar and 1 tsp. lemon juice in a blender and blend till smooth without adding any water. when done, remove in a bowl and mix a little water (~1/2 cup) into it just to thin up the papaya pulp.
  • Next, wash the same blender and add litchi pieces in there. Add 1/2 to 1 tblsp. sugar and 1 tsp. lemon juice in it and adding a little amount of water, blend till smooth. For Litchi, you have to strain the juice. Collect the juice and keep aside. You can liquidise the juice a bit, if you want.
  • How to prepare the popsicle mould :: Take your popsicle mould, first add the Litchi juice upto 1/2 of the mould and put the mould into freezer for 1/2 an hour to 1 hour till the litchi juice sets a bit. Then pour the papaya juice over the litchi juice and put the popsicle stick over it and put in the freezer to set it completely.It may take 6 to 8 hours to set completely.

Sending this summer treat to Kolkata Food Bloggers' ongoing event," Summer Fruit" .

Monday, June 5, 2017

Chingri Mach diye Lau Shak-er Charchari ( Bottle Gourd Greens with Pawns ~ a Bengali Delicacy)

         The nutritional  value of Bottle Gourd is known to us all. The fruit is a store-house of Vitamin C, Thiamin, Niacin (vitamin B-3), vitamin B-5, vitamin B-6 and many other nutrients. It also contains minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, sodium, manganese and magnesium. Bottle gourd is one of the lowest calorie vegetables and contains 95% water. Therefore, it  keeps your body cool in summer. Bottle gourd tender leaves and stems are also edible and contain higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals than its fruit.

           Because of the richness in terms of vitamins and minerals, in Bengali Cuisine, we have recipes for every part of the plant - fruit, the green part of the plant - leaves and tender stems and with skin of the fruit, too. I have shared many recipes with the fruit or bottle gourd and even two recipes with the skin of the bottle gourd(check below). But never shared any recipe with the bottle gourd greens.
          So today is the day when I will share a delicacy with bottle gourd greens, i.e., leaves and tender stems. This dish is called " Lau Shaker Chorhori". The word ‘ Chorchori’ in Bengali means almost fried or dry vegetable dish made with just a tempering and minimal spice added. We, Bengalis  make Chorchoris from all all the vegetables like ‘Kumro chorchori’(Pumpkin fry) , Aloo chochori (Potato fry) or ‘Dharos chorchori’(Lady’s finger fry) and many more but sometimes prawn or tiny fish is added to enhance the taste.

            In Lau Shaker Chorchori, few selective vegetables goes into this with bottle gourd leaves and tender stems and a little mustard and poppy seed paste added at the end of the dish, to make this dish taste finger-licking good with hot rice. If you are non-vegetarian, try adding medium or small sized prawns into this dish. You can make this dish without prawns too.

You Need :
Bottle gourd leaves and stems : 2 stems with leaves, chopped
Prawns(medium) : 9-10
Potato : 2, medium, cubed
Pumpkin : few, medium sized cubes
Pointed gourd/patol : 1/2 cup, cut into circles
PanchPhoton(Bengali five-spice mix) : 1 tsp. [mix fennel seed, mustard seed, cumin seed, black cumin seed and fenugreek seed-mix into equal quantity and USE]
Dry red Chilli : 1, whole
Turmeric powder : 1-2 tsp.
Green chilli : 2-3, slitted
Mustard  seed : 1 tsp.
Poppy seed : 2 tsp.
Sugar : 1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil(preferably mustard oil) : 1 tblsp.(oil for frying prawns ) + 1 tsp. (for cooking)

How To :
  • Preperation : Cut bottle gourd stems into 2 inch long pieces, and chop the leaves into big pieces. Separate the stems and leaves as we are going to add them in different times in the dish. Also because stem needs more time to cook than leaves. Wash carefully in a big bowl of water.
  • Cube all the other vegetables. Make a smooth paste of mustard and poppy seed, adding a pinch of salt in there. Keep aside. Smear little salt and turmeric powder over prawns and keep them marinated for at least 15-30 minutes.
  • Cooking : Heat 1 tblsp. oil in a pan, fry the prawns in medium heat on both sides till they turn slightly brown. Remove and keep aside. If you're not using prawns, skip this step.
  • In the same oil, all 1 tsp. oil and heat again(if you are using mustard oil, you have to wait till smoke comes out from the oil). Temper with dry red chilli and 1 tsp. panchPhoron, when seeds crackle, add potato, patol(pointed gourd), pumpkin cubes and bottle gourd stems. Saute adding little salt for about 2-3 minutes. Then add turmeric powder and slitted green chillies at least 2 or more if you want. Add fried prawns also at this moment.
  • Saute everything together in medium flame for another 2 minutes. Now add another 1 cup of water to cook the vegetables. Cover with a lid and let them cook. After 4-5 minutes, when there is little water left, add leaves and mustard-poppy seed paste. Mix the paste well with everything. Add sugar and salt to taste. 
  • When all the water eveporates and veggies are cooked, remove from heat. Serve with warm freshly made rice and enjoy the deliciousness.................
  • Try it to believe me. :)