Thursday, October 28, 2010

Combo Festive Menu : Tricolor Pulao and Potatoes with roasted poppy seed

Today I'm posting a popular and easy-to-make Vegetable Pulao recipe which fits any occassion. You can entertain any unexpected guests with this or can serve on any festive occassion or family celebration. This Pulao is called "Tricolor pulao" because three different colored vegetables are used here. It's really very easy to make and takes very little time to prepare. I made this for one of the festive day's dinner during Durga puja time along with a side dish of Potato, Potatoes with roasted poppy seeds and a chicken curry, Balti chicken. It was a nice combo, today I'll share the pulao and potato recipe, but the Balti chicken in next post.

Ingredients :
Basmati Rice : 1 cup
Bay leaves : 2
Cardamom pods(green) : 4-5
Cloves : 4-5
Cumin seeds : 1/2 tsp.
Carrot : 1(diced)
Green beans : 1/2 cup(cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
Green Peas : 1/3 cup
Corn(frozen/fresh) : 1/3 cup
Onion : 1(finely chopped)
Cashew Nut : 10-12 nos. (lightly fried)
Paneer(Indian cottage cheese) Cubes : 1/2 cup(lightly fried from all sides)
Water : 2 cups
Ground Cumin/cumin powder : 1/4 tsp.
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 2 tblsp.
Ghee/clarified butter : 2 tblsp.
Fresh Coriander leaves to garnish

Method :
  • Wash the rice and soak in cold water for about 1/2 an hour.
  • Heat little oil in a pan, lightly fry cashew nuts and then paneer cubes. Set aside.
  • In the same pan, add rest of the oil, when hot, add bay leaves, cardamoms and cloves and cumin seeds, wait till dry spices start to crackle, then add chopped onions and fry until lightly browned. Then add diced carrots, chopped green beans and cook, stirring for few minutes.
  • Drain the soaked rice and add to the pan. Stir well to mix. Then add peas, corn and cashew nuts. Add ground cumin now and stir to mix everything. Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Then add measured water and add salt.
  • Bring it to boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes over a low heat until all water is absorbed.
  • When all water is fully absorbed, add fried paneer cubes, mix well and then add ghee on the top and fluff the rice very gently to mix the ghee with whole rice.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.
Potatoes with Roasted Poppy Seeds
It's a dry dish, goes very well with Pulao, Biriyani or even with Puris or Parathas.

Ingredients :
Potatoes : 3-4(peeled and cubed)
White poppy seed : 3 tblsp.
Black mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp.
Onion/kalonji/black cumin seed : 1/2 tsp.
White Cumin seed : 1/2 tsp.
Fennel seed : 1/2 tsp.

Dried red chillies : 1-2(chopped into small pieces)
Turmeric powder : 1/2-1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 3 tblsp.
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Method :
  • Peel the potatoes and then cut into small cubes.
  • Heat a tawa or a flat bottomed pan over a medium flame. When it is hot, reduce the flame and add poppy seeds. Stir them around the pan until they are one shade darker, should not blacken. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
  • Heat oil in a pan, fry the cubes of potatoes until they are light brown in color. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  • To the same oil, add mustard seeds. When they begin to crackle, add fennel, white cumin, black cumin and chopped up dried red chillies. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until chillies turn little dark, then add fried potaoes. Add turmeric powder and salt now. Stir well and add enough warm water to cook the potatoes until tender but not overcooked. Cover with lid and cook.
  • Grind the cooled poppy seeds in a dry grinder until they are half ground, not into powder. When potatoes are tender, add ground poppy seed paste. Stir well in low flame until all potatoes are nicely coated with poppy seed paste.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot immediately.

Sending Tricolor Pulao to Complete My Thali- Rice,
event hosted by Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes, and created by Jagruti of Joy Of Cooking

And To Only' Festive Food event, hosted by Khaugiri and started by Pari of Foodelicious

Friday, October 22, 2010

Penne all'arabiata/Pasta in simple tomato sauce, tried and tasted from Chef In You

Pasta is one such food, that I cook at least once a week, sometimes more than once. And I don't bother at all as this is very healthy for kids, too. Almost all Pastas are low in fat and is good source of daily Fiber and protein. Pasta is very low in sodium and cholesterol-free. Pasta is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates which provide a slow release of energy. Unlike simple sugars that offer a quick, yet fleeting boost of energy, pasta helps sustain energy.But try to choose those pastas which are made of Whole Wheat Pasta. Whole wheat pasta can provide up to 25% of daily fiber requirements in every one cup portion.

Here are some health benefits you can get from pasta :
  • Pasta meals help lower the glycemic index of a meal.
  • Pasta can be beneficial for those with diabetes.
  • Pasta may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Pasta may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Pasta meals with tomato-based sauces may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Pasta meals can help people maintain or lose weight.
  • Pasta does not lead to abdominal obesity. 
So, those are enough reasons, one can include pasta in their diet. I just love pasta for some anytime quick lunch/dinner or for Kid's Lunchbox or for quick afternoon snack. Moreover, I like it because, pasta cooked with some vegetables can be a great filling one-pot meal, which you can execute in very less time.

I tried this Penne all'arabiata from Dhivya's(DK) blog, Chef In You, few months back but couldn't publish it before. Now, This is best time to publish it, as we are trying and showcasing her recipes for this month's Tried & Tasted event. Thank you Dhivya, for this wonderful recipe. I followed her recipe as it is, but added some vegetables in it....
Here goes my recipe ...................
Ingredients :
Penne Pasta : about 1 and 1/2 cup
Vegetables: carrot, Green, yellow and red bell peppers(capsicum), broccoli & corn ( I added some fried chicken sausages, too)
Onion (big) : 1 (finely chopped)
Garlic cloves : 3-4 (minced)
Tomatoes : 3-4(medium), finely chopped
Fresh Red chilli : 1-2, finely chopped (can use dried red chilli flakes)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil/canola oil : 2-3 tblsp.
Parmesan cheese : little (to garnish)
Fresh parsley : to garnish

Method :
  • Cook pasta as per package direction until al dante with 1 tsp. oil and a pinch of salt. Drain and set aside.
  • Cut vegetables in thin and small pieces.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan, stir fry the veges until tender. Set aside. In the same pan, add onions and stir fry until onions turn brown. Then add minced garlic and chillies. 
  • Now add the tomatoes and turn up the heat. Once the tomatoes start to get soft and ooze liquid, turn the heat into a simmer for about 5-6 minutes so that it forms into a sauce.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Season with salt and black pepper. Mix well with pastas. Add veges and mix them too. 
  • Serve pasta in a wide plate. Garnish with grated parmesan and parsley.
  • Serve hot or in room temperature.

Sending this to this month's Tried & Tasted Event, hosted by Priya of Priya's easy N tasty Recipes, this event is started by Lakshmi of kitchen Chronicles
And to Blog Bites# 8 : One dish Meals, hosted & created by Nupur of One hot Stove

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rituals of Durga puja days and Kalakand, A Beloved Bengali Sweet

I'm writing this post with heavy heart as, the Durga puja is over now and we have to wait for another year for this glorious time, I want to put a little bit of glimpse on the significance/rituals of Maha Ashtami, Navami and Dashami/bisharjan day, for my Non-bengali friends/blogger friends who are interested to know about it. After, I posted the significance of maha Saptami puja, I got engaged with the Puja preperations and I just wanted to enjoy these special days. So, here in this post, I want to put some emphasis on other puja day's rituals.
Significance of Maha Ashtami Puja :
As the second day of puja starts with the hymns and slokas at the community Puja pandals, almost every person in Bengal get ready to offer flowers to the goddess with empty stomach, which we call Anjali/Pushpanjali(offering flowers to the goddess). If not all days, but on this day, everyone will offer anjali to the goddess, as it it one of the main puja days. Another main significance
or feature of Ashtami puja, is Kumari Puja
or to worship Mother Durga in her virgin form/worshipping a girl child. A small girl, aged between 4-13 years, symbolising the Kumari form of  Devi, is worshipped in front of the idol of Goddess Durga. This is particularly done to evolve the purity and divinity of the women of the society.
As the day wore on, it's time for another important ritual, Sandhi Puja, which marks the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami.    During this juncture (the"Sandhikhan"), Durga is worshipped in her Chamunda form. Devi Durga killed, Chando and Mundo, the two asuras at "Sandhikhan" and thus got the name of "Chamunda". Sandhi puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami till the first 24 minutes of Nabami. Thousands of diyas/earthen lamps are illuminated, hom-yajna is perfomed as it marks the sacrifice of the buffalo demon king, Mahishasura.
Significance of Maha Navami Puja :
This is the concluding day of Durga Puja. The main Navami puja begins after the end of Sandhi Puja.Bengalis enjoy this last day of puja with fullest enthusiasm, by inviting freinds and relatives and cook an elaborate menu with bengali specialities for them and off course with pandal hopping.
Significance of Dashami Puja :
This is the last day of puja. On this day, Mother starts her journey back to her Husband's place from her mother's place. Everybody bid Farewell to Mother with tearful eyes and heavy heart and eagerly wait for her to come again next year. In a grand procession with lots of dhaks, drums and trumpets, the idols of Durga and her children are brought to a riverside to immerse it in the water. This immersion ceremony is known as Visanjan. Before Ma leaves,

every married woman of all age group go to nearby pandal and apply sindoor to the goddess and each other. This ritual is known as Sindoor Khela. Woman greet mother by washing off her face with a Paan leaves, put sweets on the lips of the idols and apply sindoor on her forehead as we take her blessings for the last time. This event is called "Devi Baran". Then women apply sindoor to other married women present there, not only apply, smear thier faces, hair and saris with vermilion/sindoor and offer sweets to each other. Men follow the customary 'Kolakuli' (embrace each other). The younger members do pranam (touching the feet) to the elders. Different kinds of sweets and savouries are prepared at home to greet friends and relatives and  wish best for their lives.

Without sweet, bengalis cannot think of Bijoya dashami and I'm not an exception. Thought to make some bengali sweet at home for my family and friends. So, I made this Kalakand, a very beloved Bengali Sweet for Bijoya Dashami for my family and friends and with this I want to wish everyone a Very Happy Bijaya Dashami/Dusshera...May God bless you all

Ingredients :
Paneer/Indian Cottage cheese : 500 gm.
Milk powder : 2 tbsp. (heaped)
Low-fat Condensed milk : 1 tin. (~15 oz./450 gm.)
Green Cardamom powder : 2-3 tsp.
Ghee/butter : 2 tblsp.
Food Color(Orange) : 1/2 tsp.(optional)

Method : 
  • Mash paneer coarsely. Add milk powder to it and mix well and again mash the mixture for some time, until the texture is not only mushy, but kind of grainy.
  • Heat a wide pan, add ghee to it, leave a little to grease a plate. When ghee is totally melted, add paneer mixture to the pan. Stir for a minute. 
  • Then add 2/3 of condensed milk and mix with paneer well. Don't forget to stir the mixture all the time, otherwise it'll stick to the pan and burn and lower the heat to medium. Adding color to it, isn't necessary, as Kalakand is normally White in color. If you want to add the color, add it now and stir immediately to mix it evenly in the paneer mixture. 
  • Cook the mixture, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Then taste the sweet level, if you think it is well as per your taste, then add rest of the condensed milk accordingly. Mix the milk well. Cook the mixture until it dries up and the texture look like this, as in the below image.........

  • Remove from heat and add cardamom powder and mix well.
  • Grease a plate with rest of the ghee and pour the cooked paneer mixture on the plate and spread evenly.
  • Cool for 1/2 an hour and then cut into desired shapes, square or diamond shape.


    Don't forget to sign in for $45 CSN giveaway for the residents of US & Canada, going on here, which is going to end in 10 days, for details click here

    Reposting some recipes for these two following events :

    1. Rawa Kesari/Orange colored Suji Halwa
    2. Kaju or Cashewnut Peda in MW

    Sending this to Only' Festive food event,
    hosted by Khaugiri and started by Pari of Foodelicious

    And To CFK : Festive Food, hosted by Suma of Veggie Platter and started by Sharmi of Neivedyam

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Significance of Saptami Durga puja and Doi Maach(a bengali fish preperation)

    Finally that auspicious time of the year or the most awaited time of the year has come. It's bengali's most beloved festival, Durga Puja time. Once the puja is over, we start to wait for this nicest time of the year again to come. This eagerness is something different, we wait for these days more than our birthdays. Isn't it, it is for me at least. Today is Maha Saptami of Durga Puja and seventh day of Navratri. Saptami is the first day of Durga puja.

    Significance of Maha Saptami Durga Puja :

    Kola Bow or Nabapatrika is given a pre-dawn bath. This is an ancient ritual of worshiping nine types of plants. Nine plants collectively signify Navadurga Goddesses, nine aspects of Goddess Durga. Nabapatrika being an important part of Durga Puja, is worshipped during Bodhon. The nine plants of Nabapatrika represent the nine Goddesses.The Banana plant or the "Kola Gaach" represents Goddess Brahmani, Colacassia plant represents Goddess Kalika, Turmeric plant symbolises Devi Durga, Jayanti denotes Kartiki, Bel or wood apple Goddess Shiva, Pomegranate (Dalim Gaach) Raktadantika, Ashoka tree symbolises Sokrahita and Arum plant ("Maankochu") represents Chamunda and the Rice plant Goddess Lakshmi. These Goddesses are the nine forms of Devi Durga.

    Bathing Ritual :
    In the early hours of Saptami, the twigs of white "aparajita" plant  along with  nine bunches of yellow threads are used to tie the Nabapatrika. It is then bathed. In our scriptures the elaborate bathing ritual of nabapatrika is compared with the coronation of a King. Just like the King is bathed with waters from holy places and oceans, bathing nabapatrika too requires the same. All the nine Goddesses representing nabapatrika are bathed with waters from 8 different holy places. This bathing ritual is accompanied with varied mantras and diverse musical instruments for different goddesses.
    Popularly known as Lord Ganesh's wife, Kolabou in reality has no relationship with Ganesh. Our scriptures call her Nabapatrika. Interestingly enough, Nabapatrika was actually a popular ritual performed by the peasant folks for prosperous harvest. As idol worship was not common then, people worshipped Mother nature.  
    This year the Goddess Durga arrives on an Palanquin and departs on Elephant. Goddess Durga's arrival on an Palanquin signifies an outbreak of epidemic while her departure on Elephant signifies good harvest. (information courtesy:

    Tremendously, missing my hometown, Kolkata's Durga puja. It's not only a festival for us, the feeling is like, when a daughter comes to her mother's place after one year. Maa Durga, who is the daughter of this Earth coming her mother's home, to us, after one year. So, the happiness within people is spellbounding. For most of us, it's time to wear new clothes, Pratima darshan, pandal hopping and spending quality times with fun and laughter with friends, family and relatives and off course with good food. Me too, miles apart from my home, celebrating Durga puja by eating Bengali delicacies at home. Yesterday, I made DOI MAACH or fish cooked with yogurt/dahi, a popular/beloved fish preperation. It's a very simple but flavourful dish. Mostly made with Rohu/rui fish. I'll share my joy with you by sharing the recipe with you all................

    Ingredients : 
    Fresh water carp(I used rohu/rui, Seabass/Salmon/any kind of carp can be used for this recipe) : medium sized pieces
    Onion(medium) : 2 
    Ginger : ~ 1" size
    Garlic : 2-3 cloves(small)
    Yogurt : 1/2 cup
    Turmeric powder : 2 tsp.
    Red chilli powder : 1/2 tsp.
    Green chillies : 3-4 
    Bay leaves : 1 or 2
    Cardamom : 3-4
    Cloves : 4-5
    Cinnamon stick : 1-2(1")
    Oil : 2 tblsp.(for cooking) + oil for frying fish
    salt to taste 
    Sugar : 1 tsp.
    Fresh Coriander leaves for garnishing

    Method :
    Preperation : 
    • Marinate fish pieces with little turmeric powder and salt and keep aside for at least 1/2 an hour.
    • Meantime, Make two pastes, one of onion and green chillies, and one of ginger and garlic
    • Take yogurt in a bowl, add 1/3 of onion paste, 1/2 of ginger-garlic paste, turmeric and chilli powder, little salt and sugar. Beat to mix well.   
    Cooking : 
    • Heat enough oil in a pan to deep fry the fish(preferably mustard oil), fry the fish pieces in medium heat until they are brown from both sides, apprx. 2-3 minutes on each side. Keep aside.
    • Take another pan for making the gravy. Heat the cooking oil, when hot, throw bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks, wait for a while, when they turn slightly dark and start spluttering, add remaining onion paste. Add a pinch of sugar right now, as it gives a nice color to the gravy.
    • Stir fry continuously until onion turns slightly brown, add remaining ginger-garlic paste and stir again to mix well. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Now lower the heat completely, and add beaten yogurt mix and mix well with onion-ginger-garlic paste.[If you don't turn the heat to low, the yogurt can curdle due to excessive heat.]
    • Stir fry for 2 minutes in medium heat, then add about 2/3 cup of water. Add the fried fish pieces. Wait for the gravy to boil and cover with a lid. Let it simmer till excess water dried off and gravy becomes thick and creamy. This dish is not totally dry, there gravy should be thick and should coat the fish pieces well. 
    • Remove from heat and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
    Serve hot with plain white rice and enjoy...............


    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Creamy Dal Palak with a twist ( Creamy Lentil soup with fresh spinach leaves)

    After the success of my recent Spotlight event, I was taking break from my own blogging, just checking what other friends are cooking. I am very happy with the enthusiasm participation from my blogger friends. Thanks, everyone..I'm now going to try those awesome recipes one by one. Few days back, when I was looking for some dal(lentil soup) recipe for making dinner, I found out this recipe of Creamy Dal Palak from Sailu's Kitchen by Sailaja, who is well-known in blogging world. This is not the first time, I tried other recipes also from her blog. The recipe became very interesting just her clever idea of adding coconut milk in original Dal palak(lentil cooked with fresh Spinach leaves) recipe.
    Dal Palak or Spinach dal is a recipe where lentil(mostly Yellow Moong dal, but many use also Red lentil or Toor dal for this recipe) is cooked with fresh spinach leaves, is very healthy and iron-rich for the whole family. I've tried this recipe with both Yellow Moong dal and Green Moong dal, both came out very tasty.

    I followed her exact recipe and discovered an awesome and healthy recipe. I'm not giving here the recipe again, as I made exactly as she made it. The recipe is a keeper. Try out friends, you won't regret. Thanks Salilaja, for this awesome recipe. You'll find the recipe here.

    I'm sending this toPriya's Bookmarked recipe-Every Tuesday event

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Round up of Spotlight : Baking without Oven

    I'm proudly presenting the round-up of another successful Spotlight event, Baking without Oven, which I organized to help people who doesn't own a baking oven or when your oven is broken and you need to bake. When oven was not introduced then also people baked and in this round-up, you'll find such wonderful recipes. So, get inspired people and bake & surprise someone you love...........
    I've categorized this round-up by the way it's made..........
    Let me start this round-up with an awesome sweet sent to me by Vanessa of Sweet Artichoke, who is a mixture of French, Swiss and Italian, married to a Bengali. What a combination, Vanessa! But the advantage is all ours...the advantage is you'll find all sorts of recipes from those respective cuisines at her place, like from Bengali Khichdi to Olive, Feta & Almonds Cupcakes recipe & even this Iranian Date & Walnut Sweet: Ranginak
    No-bake, set in refrigerator recipes :
    The first ever entry I've received from Aipi of US Masala, she sent me a wonderful recipe of No bake Tiramisu Cheese Cake, which is gelatin free & eggless. To enjoy this cake, you don't need any apparatus or cooking gadget, it is just set in refrigerator. So, who needs an oven to enjoy a cake? Try her recipe...........

    Next, to the queue, is another No Bake No egg Strawberry Cheesecake, from Jagruti of Joy of cooking

    Another no bake recipe from Kamalika of Silence Sings, The Fumbling Little Chocolate Pie, which is just set in refrigerator. No only the recipe, she has an wonderful fiction story with this to share with us, which will relate to lot of us. Go to her place and enjoy her mouth watering pics and the story. 
    Steam baking Recipes : 
    Next on the line is an interesting cake, a low calorie butterless cake, which is made by steaming. Steamed banana pudding cake in Chocolate sauce, from Denise of Oh Taste N See
    Another Steam cooked Caramel Cake from Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes. I was just drooling just seeing the name of the cake and after you see it you have to try it soon. Isn't it just lip-smacking?
    From Sangeetha of Sangi's Food World, I got two yummy entries............
    Steamed Chocolate cake and Steamed Banana Cake, where both are eggless. Wonderful recipes, Sangi................
    Baking Using Pressure cooker : 
    Another mostly used gadget for making cake(before oven is introduced) is our good old kitchen friend pressure cooker...I received two entries
    And from Deepa of Hamaree Rasoi , Eggless Chocolate cake with praline and icing...looks sinfully gorgeous, Deepa
    Microwave baking:
    Is mostly used for baking after Oven, which has lots of potential if rightly or properly used.
    Niloufer Riyaz of Kitchen Samraj has sent this MW Zebra Cake, which she has made for some celebration in 10 min. while she was sick. This is the advantage of MW baking that the outcome(whatever it is) is very quick, don't need to wait for an hour.I'm sure going to try your recipe, next time I make a cake in MW. It looks so soft and spongy. 

    Next is mine entry, an Eggless Marble cake in MW...It was my first eggless experiment in MW, which I must say was really tasty, but next time I'll go for an eggplus version.
    My previous experiment was MW Ginger carrot cake(egg+), which I made for my other blog, Appyayan's 1st birthday.

    Mine experiment with Microwave made cookies was a really great experiment, try this cookies, won't regret....MW Honey Lemon Pistachio Cookie

    Lastly, few interesting recipes from Reshmi Ahmed of A Feast to the eyes and stomach
    Cornmeal Bread, which is made without an oven, right on a hot griddle, within less than an hour
    Tortillas and Wraps, also made on a hot griddle
    And an Turkish hand made pastry recipe, Gözleme, is a savoury traditional Turkish hand made and hand rolled pastry. Fresh pastry is rolled out, filled and sealed, then cooked over a griddle.

    So, That's it for now....
    I hope, I've done a favourable job to put all these wonderful recipes in one place..
    Please accept this Thank You Card from me...I thank all of you, wonderful bloggers from bottom of my heart for sharing such nice recipes and participating in my event...

    Link your Unconventional baking recipes here :

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