Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin – woo the opposite sex

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This post describes how to cook an exotic dish, Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin, in easy steps. A perfect recipe to woo the opposite sex. But before the recipe, I’ll talk about why an amateur cook like me even dared such an elaborate preparation. Skip ahead 3 paras if you’re just interested in the recipe.

Preparing Cauliflower Broccoli gratin

Preparing Cauliflower Broccoli gratin

Newbie trying Exotic dish, and succeeding

Having a domestic help, for almost everything that is non-core to your life, is an amazing experience. Wake up in the morning, and ask – Bhaiya, chai pilao. Aur haan, do ande ubaal do aur ek glass dudh bournvita. [Get me some tea please. And yes, boil two eggs and a glass of milk bournvita]. Ask him/her to prepare Rajma chawal for lunch and kadhi, roti and Gakar ka Halwa for dinner. Heavenly!

My all rounder domestic help left for home (for Holi) 3 weeks ago. Life has never been this dude-you-have-to-cook. So, started with. No, its not Maggi or Chana Daal or Fried Rice. Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seat belts. Its Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin. An expert level dish prepared by a nube. Not exactly inspiring. But surprise! It turned out well.

So, have no fear. If I could do it, I’m pretty sure anyone else can too. I’ve also tried Egg Maggi Noodles and Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs with reasonable success. Amateurs, you can try these too.

Recipe in 10 words

Bake ingredients, crust to form a golden crust at top.

Gratin Ingredients

Gratin Ingredients

About Gratin

Hint: Grate means to scrape.

Gratin is a food preparation technique where you put a layer (of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and butter) above an ingredient mixture (of vegetables e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, potato, tomato, carrot etc), bake it till a golden crust forms at the top. You can try a meat based ingredient mix too.

Read on for how to prepare a vegetable based Gratin in easy steps.

Ingredients of Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin

  • Vegetables – I used Cauliflower, Broccoli, Potato, Tomato, Carrot
  • Cooking Oil (sunflower, Mustard, Olive whatever suits you)
  • Cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan whatever)
  • Milk
  • Maida
  • Bread crumbs
  • Onion
  • Pepper (optional)

Preparation steps

  1. Prepare the ingredients
  2. Prepare cheese sauce
  3. Pour over the ingredients alternating layers of cheese sauce and bread crumbs
  4. Bake it
Preparation for Gratin

Preparation for Gratin

Prepare the Ingredients

  • Separate small florets of cauliflower and wash it
  • Ditto for Broccoli
  • Cauliflower takes longer time to boil than Broccoli. So, first boil the cauliflower florets in water, and add some salt.
  • After 5 minutes, add Broccoli florets. Let them boil for another 7/8 min
  • Drain water and keep aside
  • Cut the other vegetables – tomato, carrot etc (you may grate the carrots if you want)

Prepare cheese sauce

  • Cut the onions into small pieces (doesn’t really matter whether you have arcs or random small pieces)
  • In a bowl, add 2 spoons of Maida
  • Add small quantity of milk and stir. Keep adding milk (total 1 cup) and stirring meanwhile.
  • Grate the cheese
  • Heat some cooking oil in a pan. Add the cut onions
  • Pour the milk maida mixture and add grated cheese
  • Heat and stir the mixture. Stop when it thickens. Keep aside.
  • Heat the oven at high temperature (I did it at 200 degrees C for 10 min)
Buttered Tray

Buttered Tray

Before being Oven-ed

Before being Oven-ed
Preparing before baking

Preparing before baking

Pour over the ingredients alternating layers to cheese sauce and bread crumbs

  • Apply butter on the oven tray
  • Spread the ingredients (vegetables) uniformly over the buttered tray
  • Pour a layer of cheese sauce
  • Add a layer of bread crumbs
  • Repeat the above two steps
  • Grate some cheese atop the mix

Bake it Baby

  • Open the oven door and insert the tray (be careful, the oven is too hot!)
  • Bake it for 20 min at 200 degrees C
Gratin is ready

Gratin is ready

Tada. Your exotic Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin is ready. Devour it with ketchup and Oregano (as a friend says, Everything tastes good with Oregano).

I used it as a Birthday base instead of a Cake. 🙂

Acknowledgements: Sudeshna (help over phone) and google (laptop was open with several links open in the browser while I prepared this dish)

Further Reading: Cook to Bang

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Egg Maggi Noodles in easy quick steps

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Recipe in 8 words

Prepare Egg Bhurji, prepare maggi and mix both.

Seriously, that’s Egg Maggi for you. If you want to learn the details, read on.

Egg and Maggi Noodles

Egg and Maggi Noodles

Maggi noodles – the Youth Icon

Over the years, several folks have enjoyed the status of being voted MTV Youth Icon – SRK, Rahul Dravid, Anil Ambani, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Orkut etc. These figures touch your life, but not a daily basis.

Maggi Noodles is undoubtedly the Youth Icon. Calories notwithstanding, Maggi comes to your help during late nights, rush breakfast, supper or when your cook hasn’t turned up.

Last was true in my case when I decided its time for Egg Maggi Noodles as a standalone dish.

Preparing Egg Bhurji

Preparing Egg Bhurji

Preparing Egg Bhurji

Preparing Egg Bhurji

How to prepare Egg Maggi Noodles

Serves – 1; Prep time – 12 min

  1. Beat the eggs, salt and pepper (if you like) – I usually do it in a steel glass, just like your neighborhood anda wala
  2. In the frying pan, add some oil and let it heat
  3. Pour the mixture from step 1 on the pan
  4. Make egg bhurji i.e. use a spoon to mix the egg mixture so that it mashes well
  5. In another pan, add two cups water and boil
  6. Add Maggi tastemaker to water and stir
  7. Break the Maggi noodles into 4 and add broken Maggi noodles to the boiling mix. Mix well.
  8. 3 minutes later (rather when the Maggi noodles have soaked enough water – but don’t worry about this too much), add the egg bhurji to boiling Maggi noodles. Mix well.
Boiling Maggi Noodles

Boiling Maggi Noodles

Egg Maggi Noodles

Egg Maggi Noodles

Voila! Your Egg Maggie Noodles (Anda Maggi) in front of you. Enjoy with ketchup.

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Aamer Dal – Bengali Mango Dal Recipe

 

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ও শিব কবে হবে কাল, নিম দিয়ে ছেচকি আম দিয়ে ডাল

Kolkata has started observing the heat waves for this year. The temperature is going way above the 30°C. To beat the heat and keep the body cool having something bitter or sour is best. By definition though summer is a little away but the markets are flooded with raw mangoes. These sour tasting mangoes are a wonderful ingredient for varieties of Bengali recipes. Starting from the simple dal to chatni and even achar green mangoes are a favorite.

Enlightment

Enlightenment

The green mango dal is a must have in most Bengali families during the summer time. Green mango has some very good health benefits too. The raw mango contains more Vitamin C than the half-ripe or ripe mangoes. It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B1 and B2. To know more about the health benefits of raw mangoes have a look at this article “Eating Mango is Really Beneficial for Health”.

So, Beat the Heat with Raw Mango Daal (Bengali Mango Daal, aamer dal, mango dhal):

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 15min
Serves 4

Aamer Dal - Bengali Mango Daal

Aamer Dal - Bengali Mango Daal

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentil (Masur dal): ½ cup
  • Split Husked Mung Bean (Mung/Moog dal): ½ cup
  • Raw Mango (Kancha aam): 1
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds (Sarse dana): 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Mix the two lentils together and boil with 2 cups of water and salt
  • As the lentils get half cooked add the mango pieces and cook till the lentils are fully cooked
  • Add the turmeric powder and with a wired balloon whisk stir the cooked lentils once or twice
  • Heat the oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds and dried chilies
  • As the mustard seeds starts popping pour in the lentils and cook for a minute or two
  • Serve hot with rice for lunch

Further Reading: Chholar Daal, Dal Shukno, Masur Dal – Musurir Daal, Roadside Tadka

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Dimer Malpua

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When you wake up late in the morning the last thing you can think of is what to have for breakfast and what to pack for lunch. I face this problem quite often. Right now mom’s here so don’t need to worry about that, but when I am all alone this is a big deal. I am sure this troubles you too.

My mom gave me a great idea, and the result turned out awesome. It’s the simplest of egg preparation with gravy one can think of. It took me just 10mins from getting inside the kitchen to serving the dimer malpua.

Dimer malpua sounds a little crazy though, but I looked at my plate this is what came out of my mind. The fried poaches looked almost like malpua (Bengali style pan cakes) dipped in spicy gravy. You can have this as a brunch or can carry for your lunch.

Here are some more option for breakfast with eggs.

Preparation time: 2-3min
Cooking time: 5-7min
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • Eggs (Dim): 2
  • Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Garlic (Rasun): 4-5 cloves
  • Ginger-garlic paste (Ada-rasun bata): 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Lal lankar guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 3 tablespoon

Preparation:

  • Make two fried poaches like this
  • Heat one tablespoon of oil in an wok and sauté the onions, and garlic
  • As the onions turn pinkish add the other spices and salt, toss and pour in ½ cup of water
  • Let the gravy thicken
  • Pour this gravy over the fried poaches and dimer malpua is ready
  • Serve with chapatti or rice

Hot Tips – If you have any left out gravy from last night you can also heat that and pour it over the fried poaches. If left for 5  to 10mins the gravy soaks inside the poaches making it spicier and tastier.

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Blogger Interview Series Part 5 – Sharmistha

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Sharmistha is one of the Top 7 Bengali Food Bloggers in the blogging arena. Sharmistha is an engineer by profession and of coursehas a lot to do to maintain her career and personal life. She started writing a cookery blog to keep track of all the lovely recipes she prepares at home. Today we bring to you the other side of Sharmistha, the lady behind Cook-a-doodle-do.

To know more about the authors of the other Top 7 Bengali food blogs, click on the links below:

  1. Jayashree Mandal of Spice and Curry
  2. Bong Mom of Bong Mom’s CookBook
  3. Indrani of Appayan
  4. Sharmila of Kichukhon

What inspires you to write a food blog?

Initially I started a food blog to keep track of the various recipes I follow. Gradually I realized I enjoyed the process of sharing recipes, exchanging ideas, participating in the various events. The whole process of cooking, photographing the process and receiving feedback from people I have never met was/is really exciting…though I am off blogging for the past month or so, I know I’ll be back sooon….

Who had been your inspiration for cooking?

My Mom has been my guru in cooking….though when I actually started cooking, I have been away from home. So it’s been more of telephonic tutorials and instructions that I had to be content with. I call myself a reluctant cook…my love for good food is stronger than my lack of passion for cooking! 😉

Who was and is your greatest support(s) for this blog?

My husband Saptarsi. Not only is he extremely supportive and encouraging, he tolerates his hunger pangs and humours me and indulges me while I go click, click click…..

What was the first dish that you prepared and when?

First dish I prepared?…mmmm…..I guess it was a cake I’d baked. During the long break before joining college and after Higher Secondary exam . Of course Maggi, Omelette and tea were stuff I could do a couple of years prior to that!!

What are the 3 food blogs that you would recommend our readers to read?

There are many more I really enjoy reading….but since I have been asked to name three, I am reluctantly restricting myself!

How many cook books do you have?

5-6 I guess….i’m not good at following instructions to the T. And hence dont use them too often

What’s your favorite cookbook?

I normally jot down ingredients and procedure from my Mom and use them later.And whenever I eat something delicious at friends & relatives’ places, I ask them for the recipes (or ingredients/procedure) and try them out myself

Tell us something about food from your part of the world?

I have a blogpost on that……http://cookadoodledo.blogspot.com/2009/03/bengali-cuisinea-closer-look.html

What would you eat for your last supper?

Oh dear ….that’s a tough one….my favourite keeps changing all the time.

Which other food blogs do you read regularly?

That’s my blogroll copied and pasted and hence not in any preferential sequence

Your fondest food memory?

Oh several…..sitting on the terrace with my sister and eating kawth bel makha/kaancha aam/tetuler achaar.….

The suspense while opening my tiffin box during school days….to find out what ma had packed for my lunch box

Sunday afternoon lunch during childhood ….when each item would be a special treat

Your most trusty kitchen companion?

My kadai (wok), microwave & blender

What made you call your blog “Cook-a-doodle-do”?

When I was on the verge of starting a cooking blog, much much before I actually started posting, my daughter’s favourite nursery rhyme was Cock-a-doodle-do. At that point of time, whenever I would think of naming my blog, Cook-a-doodle-do would come to mind….then the poem (read it here) came to mind and COOK-A-DOODLE-DO was the name I zeroed as my blog name!!

Name three dishes (along with their links) from your blog that you like preparing often

Which cookbook can you not do without and which chef is your hero/heroine?

As I said I dont follow any cookbook regularly. And I love the way my Ma cooks….fast and finger licking good.

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Cholar Dal

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There is almost a 50 page report waiting for me to be completed by tonight and submitted tomorrow morning. So, it seems to be a long night. In all these lab reports – proteins, DNAs, RNAs and whatever molecules you can name of, I just thought of publishing this post tonight. Cholar dal is one of my favorite lentils. Cholar dal or chana dal is prepared in different ways throughout India. This preparation is very specific to Bengal. This authentic Bengali recipe has an affluence of sweet taste in it, and the charming yellow color will drive any foodoholic crazy. Cholar dal is best had with kachuri, luchi or chapattis.

As the wiki link says, Chana dal is produced by removing the outer layer of Kala chana (black chickpeas) and then splitting the kernel. Although machines can do this, it can be done at home by soaking the whole chickpeas and removing the loose skins by placing the chickpeas between two towels and rubbing with a rolling pin.

Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 25min
Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

  • Bengal gram (Cholar Dal): 1 cup
  • Coconut (Narkel): ½ cup, cut into very small pieces
  • Ginger paste (Ada bata): 2 tablespoon
  • Turmeric Powder (Halud guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Lal lankar guro): 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander powder (Dhane guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar (Chini): 1 teaspoon
  • Red chili (Lal lanka): 3 /4
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel) : 3 tablespoon
  • Clarified butter (Ghee): 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Soak the pulses for half-an-hour before preparing
  • Put the soaked pulses along with salt in a pressure cooker with ample water so that the dhal remains 1cm below the water level, cook till three whistles of the pressure cooker
  • Take out of flame, let the pressure cooker cool
  • Open the lid, add ginger paste, cumin, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, sugar – mix well with the cholar dal
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom wok and fry the coconut pieces till brownish, take out and keep aside
  • In the same heated oil add the chilies and fry till then turn a darker shade of red, pour in the boiled dal, pour in little more water if required
  • Cook till the dal attains the desired consistency, pour in the ghee if using
  • Garnish with the fried coconut pieces, serve warm with puri or luchi

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Natun Alur Niramish Dum – Baby Potato Curry

This is a guest post by Soma Chowdhury. She is pursuing her MS from Louisiana State University. This post talks about a Bengali recipe, albeit with a twist from Soma. We thank her for the contributing here. Today being International Women’s Day, we dedicate today’s post to all our women readers.

Men, your turn will come too. 🙂

Women's Day

Women's Day

In the United States, almost everything is available throughout the year. Very few things are seasonal. I remember my Mom waiting for winter when she had a greater choice of vegetables to cook.

Back in India, winter is so colorful with lots of greens, oranges, reds and many more. The cauliflowers, cabbages, new baby potatoes, carrots, ripe-juicy oranges used to taste extra good during winter. During my childhood all these were only ones available during winter in my small town (though you can find them in the vegetable market anytime of the year now but they don’t taste as fresh as the winter time).

I cooked new baby potatoes as a winter vegetable for the monthly mingle as I love these potatoes. They taste so good, even you can eat them boiled with only salt and pepper sprinkled on them. There are many recipes on dum aloo in India; I think every household has their own recipe.

My Mom cooks several kinds too. In Bengali culture, anything cooked with onion or garlic becomes “non-veg”, so there are a lot of recipes without them and they are considered to be “complete veg” or “niramish”. It might sound a little strange, but that’s how it is.

This is my own recipe, modified from my mom’s recipes. My mother used to cook “niramish alur dom” (vegetarian potato curry) on Saturdays (as we ate veg on every Saturday) or during some religious festivals. Hope you will like the humble yet tasty recipe. The spices are approximate, you can modify them according to your taste.

What you need:

  1. 2 lbs baby potato, boiled and peeled
  2. One big, ripe tomato chopped
  3. One/two tablespoon of yogurt (depending on how sour you want it)
  4. Ginger/cumin/coriander (GCC) paste two tablespoon
  5. Red chili powder (add according to taste)
  6. Salt
  7. Green peas (half a cup)
  8. Few green chilies
  9. Oil
  10. One teaspoon turmeric
  11. One teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  12. A pinch of garam masala (optional)
  13. A handful of cilantro leaves
  14. One cup of water

Natun Alur Dom

Natun Alur Dom

How to cook Natun Alur Dom

  1. Apply salt and turmeric powder to the cooked potatoes. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes until the outside is a little brownish. Don’t overcook them, they will start breaking. Remove them from the oil.
  2. In the remaining oil, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  3. Add the GCC paste, turmeric and chili powder, sauté for few minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes are completely mushy and the spice paste starts coming out of the pan.
  4. Add luke-warm water and salt and boil until the tomato loses its raw taste.
  5. Let the gravy thicken and then add the potatoes. Mix the potato with the gravy. Again, do not mix them vigorously, then might break.
  6. Add the green peas, garam masala and chopped cilantro.
  7. Cover for few minutes and serve hot with puri or chapattis. It tastes better the next day as the potatoes absorb the flavor from the gravy.

Further Reading: Potato recipes at Cook Like a Bong – Chal diye Alur Dom, Alu Posto, Alu Bhindi Bhaja

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Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs Recipe

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Update: Removing Vegan word from the post. Since it uses eggs even for the filling, how can it be vegan, argued Soma. And I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for pointing that out.

What is Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs recipe

The eggs are boiled and the yolks are removed, and re-stuffed with a mixture prepared from the yolk, boiled potato and some vegetables. The re-stuffed egg is then dipped in besan, then in bread crumbs and fried in oil.

Who can cook Dimer Devil

This is for intermediate skilled cooks, or mere amateurs who want to prove that given adequate instructions, they can cook (I fall in this category). You can have Dimer Devil for an exotic evening snack. I had this at lunch with steamed rice, musuri daal and ketchup.

You can learn about more Egg Recipes here.

Ingredients of Deviled egg recipe

Ingredients of Deviled egg recipe

About the devil (why such name)

Deviling means seasoning the food heavily (This link gives an elaborate explanation). I tried this egg recipe only because of its name. Never had it, so gave it a shot. And it turned out well.

Though this isn’t an authentic Bengali recipe, Bengalis sure love it. And you would too.

Recipe in 10 words

Boil Eggs, cut in half, fill with stuffing, oil fry

Ingredients of Dimer Devil (Deviled Eggs recipe)

  • 3 eggs (2 for cooking + 1 for dip)
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • Carrot (gajar, gajor) or Beet
  • Other vegetables as per availability/taste (matar – green peas, beans etc.)
  • Ginger and garlic (or ginger garlic paste)
  • Green chilies
  • Hing (asafoetida), Jeera (Cumin)
  • Garam Masala Powder
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Maida or Besan

Preparing Dimer Devil (Deviled Eggs recipe)

  • Boil the Eggs and potato for 15 min [in Bangalore, the potatoes don’t soften easily. In such a case, its best to cut the potato into several small pieces and then boil]. Cover the eggs with at least an inch of water.

Now is the time to prepare the filling. I used a vegetarian filling. You pick whatever suits you.

vegetable cut

vegetable cut

Potato and egg boiled

Potato and egg boiled

Mashed up

Mashed up

Fried mashed up mixture

Fried mashed up mixture

  • Meanwhile, cut onion, chilies, beans and grate the carrot/beet
  • Drain hot water, pour cold water (makes peeling off easier) and crack the egg shells
  • Cut the boiled eggs length wise and pop out the egg yolk in a separate container.
  • Add peeled off potato and the vegetable mixture to the container. Add salt, pepper to taste. Mash them well.
  • Heat a frying pan, put some cooking oil (mustard oil for the quintessential jhanjh, or sunflower oil for the calorie savvy) and then the onion pieces. Heat till the color changes to brown. Add the mashed potato-yolk-vegetable mixture.
Stuffed Eggs

Stuffed Eggs

Preparing for the fry

Preparing for the fry

Next, need to stuff egg white with the filling and fry

  • Fill the egg halves with the mixture. Make it tightly fit since we need to fry this later. Let us call this stuffed egg half
  • In a separate bowl, break an egg carefully and add a spoon of Besan. Add salt, pepper to taste and blend it well. Let us call this egg besan
  • On a pan (I used a newspaper J), pour some bread crumbs.
  • Heat a frying pan and add oil.
  • Now do this in sequence – roll the stuffed egg half in egg besan, then in bread crumbs and then lower carefully on the heated oil. Fry well. Do this for each stuffed egg half.
Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs

Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs

Tada. Your Dimer Devil (Deviled Eggs recipe) is complete. Serve with ketchup.

If some egg besan is left, fry it on the pan to make Egg Bhurji. It tastes good.

Dimer Devil with Rice and Dal

Dimer Devil with Rice and Dal

Further Reading

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Potpourri: The Carnival of Bengali Cuisine Part 2

After the good response (800 views and counting) to Part 1 of Potpourri, we’re here with the second edition. Read on for interesting articles on several aspects of Bengali Food – food in literature and its critique, memoirs, influences, popular culture, restaurants and the bong connection.

Just Eat it

Popular Culture

Sreyashi Dastidar argues that the time around Durga Puja is the ‘sweet season of Bengal’. What else will explain a 20-something, with gelled and spiked hair, shouting “কাকু আমায় আরও দুটো সন্দেশ  [Uncle, 2 more Sandesh please] at a community lunch in a housing complex. Or, crowd noisily demanding “তিরিশটা ছানার গজা” [30 … please] She also outlines the demands of ‘new kids’ and ‘GeNext’ that has forced the sweets entrepreneurs to innovate.

Sample these – a mix of Bengali mishti and north Indian mithai, Kiwifruit Chhanar Payesh, Carrot Rasogolla, Sitaphal Kanchagolla and the likes. A tasty read indeed.

City Bites

4 years back, Shrabonti Bagchi wrote about how several Bengali Restaurants have opened up in cities across India. 6 Ballygunj Place, Oh Calcutta and K C Das in Bangalore, Chowringhee in New Delhi, Howrah in Mumbai and 4 more in Kolkata. Well, since then, more bong eateries have mushroomed outside Bengal. I can count at least 8 in Bangalore, 10 in Mumbai and 4 in New Delhi. This is both due to immigrant bongs and increased awareness of Bengali platter among other communities. I would say probably a third of the clientele of these eateries doesn’t speak Bengali but want to check what Bengalis eat other than Maach (মাছ – Fish) and Rosogolla (রসগোল্লা – Rasgulla). As Shrabonti says, let’s raise our aam porar shorbots (আম পোড়ার শর্বত) to that!

Bengali Groom

Bengali Groom (Model: Jaydev)

Bong Connection

Radheshyam Sharma explains the pains of a vegetarian while eating out in Kolkata. Now imagine hating anything that ‘smells fishy’ (literally) but any restaurant you go to serves fish. Or, has written ‘pure veg’ on its signboard, but essentially doesn’t use separate utensils for meat and fish dishes. Nasty indeed. He gets ‘especially bothered’ if he is invited to Bengali Weddings even though he likes Mishti Doi and other sweets. And all because he can’t stand smell the fish. Smelly Cat must be smiling. 🙂 Another version of the video.

Well, if you know any good Pure Vegetarian restaurant in Kolkata please let him know. I’m sure you would be thanked.

Impact

Venu Madhav Govindu presents India’s enduring love affair with food in this Outlook article. He argues that like every other cuisine, Bengali food is also affected by both mindless imitation and the simple expedient of convenience. Well, do you agree with his version?

Critical Eye

Chitrita Banerji (চিত্রিতা ব্যানার্জী  – read her interview with Timeout) is a celebrated author on Bengali food. Three of her popular works are Life and Food in Bengal (released in 1990), Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals (released in 1997) and Hour of the Goddess: Memories of Women, Food, and Ritual in Bengal (released in 2007). In the first book, the author ‘invites the reader to enter, observe, feel and absorb Bengal-the Indian state of West Bengal and the sovereign country of Bangladesh’ [source].

Chitrita Banerji

Chitrita Banerji (Source: TimeOut Dubai)

Evolving Tastes says that the second book talks about the differences and contrasts in food between the various regions in Bengal, of Ghotis and Bangals, of Hindus and Muslims, of rich and poor, of the past and the present, along with plenty of recipes interspersed within the narrative. [Interestingly, if you Google search for ‘Cooking: Seasons and Festivals’, Srivalli’s blog comes right after this book’s Amazon link. :)]

The third book takes you on an idiosyncratic journey through the intricate backlanes of Bengali food, argues Amitabha Mukherjee in an elaborate critique of the book. Here’re two more reviews –  Anuradha Roy’s in Outlook and Arundhati Ray’s in Hindu.

Have you read any of Chitrita Banerji’s books?

You can find the assortment of all these links in StumbleUpon profile of bengalicuisine. Check it out. If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too. You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or  Subscribe in a reader

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Blogger Interview Series Part 4 – Sharmila

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After an wonderful response to the Top 7 Bengali Food Blogs post, we decided on interviewing the authors of these very popular blogs. This post is the fourth in Blogger Interview Series. If you have missed the first three interviews, click on the following links:

  1. Jayashree Mandal of Spice and Curry
  2. Bong Mom of Bong Mom’s CookBook
  3. Indrani of Appayan

About Sharmila

Sharmila started her blog, Kichukhon in December 2006, though she started blogging regularly since 2008. Her blog is an ode to her father, who as she says in her own words “loves good food”. In her blog, Sharmila writes about recipes without sticking to any particular type of cuisine, but also blogs about traditional Bengali food. Here’s an insight of the maker of the wonderful Bengali food blog, Kichukhon.

What inspires you to write a food blog?

Initially it was all those wonderful food blogs on the web.

Later I started to get requests for particular recipes or guidance regarding a recipe, from sincere readers.
That inspires me to keep going.

Who had been your inspiration for cooking?

Actually nobody.
Cooking, for me, was a necessity after I got married. It is only after a lot of disasters that I can say I enjoy cooking today. 🙂

Who was and is your greatest support(s) for this blog?

This blog is entirely my effort … with a lot of trials and errors. Of course am grateful to a few blogger friends who encouraged me during my early days of blogging.

What was the first dish that you prepared and when?

I really don’t remember, maybe some chicken preparation. Back home, during Sundays, I would sometimes try my hand at making a dish with chicken.

CLB Note: Her blog has 10+ chicken recipes. Check them out. And if you need more, here’re our bengali chicken recipes.

What are the 3 food blogs that you would recommend our readers to read?

1. http://aht.seriouseats.com/
2. http://sutapa.com/
3. http://www.marthastewart.com/

How many cook books do you have?

None.

What’s your favorite cookbook?

I don’t read cookbooks.

What would you eat for your last supper?

Steaming hot dal, plain rice and aloo bhaaja with a little ghee and lemon. 🙂

Which other food blogs do you read regularly?

There are some very good food blogs out there … naming all of them is going to be difficult.

Your fondest food memory?

That would be of the food cooked in open air improvised chulhas when we used to go for ‘choruibhati’s or picnics.
The khichuri (rice and lentils cooked together)  or mangsho (mutton or chicken curry) cooked that way used to be so flavourful.

Your most trusty kitchen companion?

My pair of kitchen scissors.

What made you to call your blog “Kichu Khon”?

“Kichu Khon” in Bengali means “A Few Moments”.

Like my blog description says, since I was logging about the few moments I spend in my kitchen, I decided on the name “Kichu Khon”.

Name three dishes (along with their links) from your blog that you like preparing often.

The Coffee Cake
Chingri Malai Rice :
Jhaal Muri / Masala Muri

Which cookbook can you not do without and which chef is your hero/heroine?

I do not follow any cook books. But I like Kylie Kwong‘s recipes, very similar to my way of cooking – quick, flavourful yet simple.

Well, thank you Sharmila, for taking out time to share your personal side for our readers. We wish you good luck with your food blogging experience. Cheers!

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Ful Kopir Achar – Cauliflower Pickle

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Grandma’s Secret

Winter has left Kolkata, fans are on all day long. But, there are some left out winter vegetables in the market, being sold at quite a low price. My Didu (maternal grandmother) used to buy a good number of cauliflowers from the market during this time of the year, cut those into small florets, treated with salt and some other spices (which I can’t remember now) and dry them up in the sun.

These cauliflowers remained intact for more than 3-4months, retaining the same color and texture. Those days have gone passed a long time back; you can get any kind of vegetable at any time of the year. Though my mom insists that seasonal vegetables should be had at that particular season, leaving out the good exception of potato, though harvested in winter its eaten all year round. [Potatoes and Bengali cuisine are closely related; there are so many authentic bengali recipes that feature potato that it seems there had been a marriage between these two].

Steal the Pickle (Achar churi)

Remember the jars of pickles lined up on the roof, a little hands approaching to steal a handful? And there came the bigger hand in between the little hand and the jar of tangy pickle. The fear coated adventure of stealing pickle in the summer afternoon is one of the best memories I have of my childhood. Mom never allowed to have pickles and so stealing and having pickles had an extra feeling of happiness, if not I got caught.

Love thy Neighbor

Coming back to cauliflowers, my neighbor knocked the door this morning with a plate full of lovely looking cauliflowers. When asked she said that it’s the cauliflower pickle she made. It looked so lovely and I just couldn’t resist but pick up a small floret and put it straight into my mouth. I have never tasted such an awesome pickle.

I asked for the recipe and she was kind enough to share the recipe of Cauliflower Pickle (Gobi Achar, in Hindi). And, I thought of sharing this bengali pickle recipe with you. Prepare it and let me know how you fared.

Ingredients of Cauliflower Pickle:

  • Cauliflower (Ful kopi): 1 big size, cut into small florets
  • Potato (Alu); 2 medium size, cut into small pieces to complement the cauliflower florets
  • Green peas (Mator shuti): ½ cup
  • Green chili (Kancha lanka): 8-10
  • Raw tamarind pulp (Kancha tetul bata): 2 tablespoon
  • Mustard paste (Sarse bata): ½ cup
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): ½ cup
  • Asafoetida (Hing): ½ teaspoon
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare Cauliflower Pickle:

  • Steam the cauliflower florets, potatoes and green peas together, and drain out any excess water
  • Bring the steamed vegetables to normal temperature
  • Mix all the ingredients to the vegetables and pour in the oil
  • Store in glass container and keep under sun for 2-3 days before the first use

The cauliflower pickle tastes good with warm rice.

Hot Tips – Always use a dry spoon to take out pickle from the jar. The cauliflower pickle can be stored for more than a month.

Further Reading – Andhra Style Cauliflower Pickle, Cauliflower Pickle with onion

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Paneer Bhurji for Bachelors

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If you’re a bachelor, chances are that you like spending the minimum amount of time in the kitchen. If that’s the case, this paneer recipe is just for you. [Here’re some more quick Indian recipes – Microwave Fried rice and Breakfast with egg series].

For this preparation, I bought fresh paneer from sweet shop. You can also use the packaged paneer or even try making some paneer (chana, chenna) at home.

Easy way of making Paneer at home

Boil a liter of milk, and pour 4 tablespoons of lime juice in it. Separate the curd from the whey. Put the curd in a soft cloth, preferably muslin and drain out the excess water.

While the cheese is inside the cloth, place it over a perforated metal can or box and place a heavy weight over it so that the cheese gets firmer and any extra water gets drained out. The more you press it, the harder it becomes.

Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 10min
Serves: 3-4

How to make Paneer Bhurji (Paneer Jhuri Bhaja)

Ingredients:

  • Indian cheese (paneer): 300gms
  • Potato (Aalu): 2 medium sizes
  • Green peas (Matar, Mator shuti): ½ cup
  • Tomato (Tamatar): 1 small, coarsely chopped
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi Powder, Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Lal Mirch Powder, Lal lankar guro): ¾ teaspoon
  • Green chili (Hari Mirch, Kancha lanka): 2 -3 (optional)
  • Ginger paste (Adrakh paste, Ada bata): 1 tablespoon
  • Sunflower oil (Sada tel): 3 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Slice the potatoes into thin two inch long pieces, wash and drain out the water
  • Grate the paneer in a grater. Alternately if you are using fresh curd cheese then just press with your palm to make it fluffy
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan, and throw in the potatoes
  • As the potatoes get half cooked, add all the spices, tomato, peas and mix well
  • Cook for 2-3 mins more and pour in the grated paneer
  • Mix and cook for 2-3min more
  • Take out of flame and serve with roti, paratha or rice and dal

How to make Paneer Bhurji in Microwave

You can make the same paneer bhurji in microwave as well. Put in 2 tablespoons of oil and potatoes and cook covered for 4 min in microwave high (100%). Mix all the spices, tomato, peas and cook uncovered in microwave high for 2mins. Add the grated paneer and cook uncovered in microwave high for 3 more minutes.

Further Reading – Bengali Style Matar Paneer, How to make paneer

Personal Note: Kalyan had been doing a lot of cooking these days. Thanks to his cook, who has gone back to his native for a fortnight, or probably a little more. Office, cooking, phone calls from home and time for his girl friend – takes away a lot of time, leaving almost nothing for his own personal leisure. So, I thought of suggesting him a quick and easy recipe for dinner. I could have done it just by getting him a call or personal mail. But, I’m sure there are hundreds of bachelors or even spinsters who frantically search for some quick and easy recipes for beginners.

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Bengali Food Bloggers Interview Part 3 – Indrani

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Bengali Food Bloggers Interview

This series tries to bring the personal side of the blogger in the list of Top 7 Bengali Food Blogs. This is Part 3 and features Indrani of Appyayan. Earlier interviews:

  1. Jayashree Mandal of Spice and Curry
  2. Bong Mom of Bong Mom’s CookBook

About Indrani

Indrani started the blog in Apr 2008, and till date, it has around 130 posts in several categories. Indrani is based out of Singapore and calls herself a – busy full-time mom of a 10 year old girl and a set of twin boys (2 years old). The blog predominantly features Bengali recipes, and sometimes, other regional Indian and western recipes too. Samples – Patishapta Pitha, Badhakopir Tak Dom, Narkel Shorshe Patol, Bhapa Ilish, and Broccoli Brinjal fry. Incidentally, the blog started at same time as bengalicuisine and has the same number of recipes as of this date. Call it coincidence, huh. She maintained a recipe index of the blog till August 2009.

Without further ado, we give you Indrani.

What inspires you to write a food blog?

Food is an important part of our life. I absolutely love cooking. So my love of cooking and learning new recipes inspire me to write a food blog, so that I can share my love with the world.

Who had been your inspiration for cooking?

My mom had been my true inspiration, who is a great cook. She can create a good food out of anything.

Who was and is your greatest support(s) for this blog?

My husband

What was the first dish that you prepared and when?

The first dish I learnt to cook is Dharosh Posto (Okra / bhindi in poppy seed sauce), because this is my favorite Bengali dish. I learnt this at the age of 13.

What are the 3 food blogs that you would recommend our readers to read?

There are many good food blogs which I visit regularly, but if you ask me specifically, other than Cook Like a Bong, I would recommend, (a) Sailu’s Kitchen, as she has a collection of great recipes (b) eCurry, as she has introduced me with so many new food and I learned so much from her blog, (c) Foodie’s Hope, I just love to visit her blog.

How many cook books do you have?

I have 4 cookbooks – one Bengali cookbook, one on Indian Cuisine, one on baking and one on Chinese cuisine (my fav, just after Bengali cuisine).

What’s your favorite cookbook?

I have a collection of bookmarked recipes from cooking sites and other food blogs, if I put all of them together and make a book, that’ll be my most favorite cookbook.

Tell us something about food from your part of the world?

For the quintessential Bengalis, food is one of the most important aspects of daily life. As it’s said, “Bengalis do not eat to live, but live to eat”. But don’t take Bengalis as an over-eater. Fish and rice, are the most staple food in Bengal, but hardly a day goes by without a Bengali eating some form of dal (lentil). Bengali daily meal has a good proportion of everything we need in our food. A typical daily meal will include rice, dal, some fries with dal, one vegetable dish and a fish or egg or chicken dish. Lastly a chutney, not daily but often. I think, Bengali cuisine is the most sophisticated cuisine in India.

What would you eat for your last supper?

For last supper, I would love to eat some comfort food like dal-bhat-bhaja (lentil-rice and some fry) or khichudi

Which other food blogs do you read regularly?

There are many good food blogs, I try to read as many of them in my little spare time

Your fondest food memory?

I don’t recollect any food memory, but I’ve fondest cooking memory which I absolutely cherish. When my mom used to get sick, bapi (my father) and me used to cook that day. My bapi only knows to cook dharosh aloo posto (okra-potato in poppy seed sauce) and dal (lentil soup), as those are his favorite dishes and easy to cook, too. I used to cut the vegetables and bapi used to cook. He used to show me every step very carefully. We had such nice time together. Whatever I learned about cooking so far, all credit goes to my mom. If she hasn’t pushed me to learn to cook, I couldn’t have survived after marriage, as I am living abroad since my marriage.

Your most trusted kitchen companion?

My mixer-grinder/blender.

What made you to call your blog “Appayan”?

Appyayan” is a bengali word which means to serve your guests which I love to do. My intention to start this blog was to serve my visitors and readers with some authentic bengali recipes, which I learned from my mother, mil and grandmother and other healthy and tasty recipes I experiment in my kitchen daily and love. This is the reason behind the name of my blog.

Name three dishes (along with their links) from your blog that you like preparing often

  1. Garlic Flavoured Masoor Dal (Lahsooni dal)
  2. Paneer butter masala (my daughter’s favorite food)
  3. Chatpata Chicken

Which cookbook can you not do without and which chef is your hero/heroine?

The above mentioned favorite cookbook of mine, my bookmarked recipe collection, that I can’t do without and my favorite chef is Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, I just love to try his recipes.

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February Monthly Round Up

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9 new posts, Valentine’s week recipes, salad carnival and increased community engagement (both here and at Facebook page) made February 2010 pretty exciting at Cook Like a Bong. Valentine’s week, Holi and (unfortunately) sudden traffic drop due to hosting trouble marked the month.

Posts in February

  1. Strawberry SandeshA Bong can’t remain away from sweets for long. The strawberry sandesh is an ode to all those sweet lovers staying in a place far from sweet shops.
  2. Bengali Style Matar Paneer – Matar paneer is a favorite among North Indian communities, I tried putting in some Bengali twist to this very popular Indian recipe
  3. Chocolate Cake in Microwave – After many attempts, disasters and heart break, at last I succeeded in preparing a cake in microwave
  4. Bengali Food Bloggers Interview – Bong Mom: A series that plans to ‘bring out’ the personal side of your favourite Food Bloggers. Part 2 features Bong Mom of Bong Mom’s CookBook. Know her favourite food blogs, why she started cooking, what was her first dish and lots more.
  5. Paneer Pulao in Rice Cooker: Celebrating the Valentine’s week, paneer pulao was the recipe for Teddy Day. This preparation looked as lovely as your Teddy.
  6. Bread Chop Suey: This one is a must prepare for the kid at home, or even for the kid at heart.
  7. Gits Karaisutir Kachori Mix – Product Review – This was the first product review at Cook Like a Bong. Will be publishing the second one soon.
  8. Happy Holi – Celebrating the festival of colors at home. Here’s some more pics from my neighborhood. The kids went mad.

Awards:

Indrani was very kind to share two of her awards with me. Thanks a lot Indrani. Know more about the awards in our Awards Page.

Random: The luck arches the closing ozone.
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