Guest Post – Achari Murgh

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Debjani is a very active contributor to our Cook Like a Bong Facebook page. She has also contributed to the recently published authentic Bengali recipe cookbook, Sharadiyar Rannabati. Debjani posted about her signature dish, Achari Murgh in the Facebook page. I have heard and tasted alu achari before, but achari murg was an absolute different preparation. So, I tried it out at home and it was marvelous. So, I thought of sharing this wonderful recipe as a guest post from Debjani Chaudhuri.

Bengali chicken or mutton curries are mostly include potatoes with a thick and spicy gravy. Whether it’s chicken-do-peyaja or the kasha mutton potatoes are a must. But, unlike the age old dishes, this special chicken curry from Debjani’s kitchen didn’t have those potatoes neither does it have that pinch of garam masala to add the extra flavor. According to Debjani, as garam masala as its own smell and taste it would have killed the scent and tangy taste of the pickle oil.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken , cut into small pieces
  • 8 whole dry red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • ½  teaspoon Fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • ½  teaspoon  Cumin seeds / jeere
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds (saunf / mouri)
  • 1 teaspoon Onion seeds (kalonji)
  • 1 teaspoon Thymol/ carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 2- 3 Bay leaves
  • Mustard oil (must to use shorshe tel)
  • 4 medium Onions, chopped
  • 2 inch piece Ginger, chopped
  • 15-20 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Red chilli powder
  • 4 medium Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped ( for garnishing – optional)
  • 3 – 4 tablespoon of pickle oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Heat oil in a wok (kadai) and add all the seeds ( paanch phoron n ajwain) for tempering
  • Let the seeds splutter a bit, add bay leaves and whole red chilies
  • Add onion and garlic, ginger and tomatoes
  • Put in the turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt
  • Add the chicken pieces and fry with the spices a bit
  • When the oil separates, pour in little water and cook covered
  • Cook it on a slow fire and let the chicken become tender and cooked in its own juice, without adding too much water
  • When nearly done add lemon juice and ad pickle oil, mix and cover
  • Put off the flame, and serve with chapatis and salad.

Hot Tips – Debjani did not use garam masala for the preparation as it will spoil the taste of pickle. She used garlic pickle oil for this preparation, but you can also use pickle oil of chili pickle or mixed pickle, for added punch.

Panch Phoron is a concoction of 5 different spices – fenugreek, mustard, cumin, fennel and onion seeds/ nigella.

Don’t forget to have a copy of our Festive recipe e-book and the October calendar. And do send in your entries to the ongoing event Cooking with Seeds – Poppy, a brain child of Priya from Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes, just 2 more days to go before the event ends.

Preeti of ISing Cakes was kind enough to share the “One Lovely Blog” award with us. Thanks a lot Preeti.

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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Mowa & Murki on Lakshmi Puja

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Sarat kal” – does that ring any bell? Of course it does. Other than the brilliant blue sky dotted with soft white clouds it’s that time of the year when you let go of all worries and enjoy the four days of Durga Puja. For our non-Bong friends, Sarat kal is the autumn season according to the Bengali calendar. Durga Puja, doesn’t only mean worshipping the goddess of feminine power, but a lot more – shopping before the puja, pandal hopping during the four days, and of course eating and eating and more eating.

I’m sure you all have left your health conscious souls at home and gorged on the wonderful street foods. I just can’t think about passing a puja without gulping on some phuchkas (fuchka) and biting on egg rolls. What’s your Puja special dish, do let us know?

Just after Durga Puja is Lakshmi puja. The goddess of wealth and well being is ushered to almost every Bengali household (though some people worship the goddess on Kali Puja day). This year Lakshmi Puja will be celebrated tomorrow.

After numerous calls, e-mails, wall posts and scraps from friends from all over the globe, I decided on posting something which is specially made for this occasion – murki and mowa (pronounced as moa).

Murki is made from a special variety of puffed rice called Khoi in Bengali and is mixed with molasses or gur. Mowa on the other hand can be prepared with Khoi, mudi or even chidde. Here’s how my mom prepares both these two sweet ambrosia. The basic method of preparation is the same.

Ingredients:

For murki:

½ kg of Puffed Rice (Khoi)

250gms of Molasses/ Jaggery (Gur)

Preparation:

  • Start stirring the jaggery over low heat.
  • As it turns sticky and sticks to the back of the ladle, take out of flame
  • Pour of the khoi and mix well
  • Keep aside in air tight container

For mowa:

  • Take about 350gms of jaggery
  • Mix the jaggery and khoi/muri/chidde together
  • With the help of your palm make big balls
  • Store in air tight containers

Mowa is still in the making, will put up the photo as soon as its done.

Don’t forget to have a copy of our Festive recipe e-book and the October calendar. And do send in your entries to the ongoing event Cooking with Seeds – Poppy, a brain child of Priya from Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes.

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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Subho Bijaya

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Subho Bijaya to all of you. Wish you all had a wonderful Puja break this time. Starting tomorrow we at Cook Like a Bong will be posting various recipes custom made for the Bijaya season, so stay tuned and have fun till then.

Don’t forget to have a copy of our Festive recipe e-book and the October calendar. And do send in your entries to the ongoing event Cooking with Seeds – Poppy, a brain child of Priya from Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes.

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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Bodhon: The starting of Puja

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The sixth day of the Navaratri (9 nights) is celebrated as the starting of Durga Puja, the Maha Shasthi day. This is the day that marks the unveiling of the Durga idols in various Puja pandals along with the starting of the 5 day long worship of the Goddess of power, Ma Durga.

Bodhon or the invocation of the deity is done during the evening of Shasthi and as myth says, the deities thereafter comes alive. It was yesterday that we started with the Maha Shasthi puja. Just in Kolkata there are more than a thousand places where the goddess is worshipped in community pujas leave aside the ones worshipped at indivudual homes. My house too comes under one of the places where the goddess is worshipped for these 5 days.

Along with the goddess comes her four children – Laxmi, Ganesh, Saraswati and Karthik. They all are indivudually worshipped as Gods, but this time of the year they remain as the offspring of the Mother Goddess. In this platoon of Gods and Goddess the demon Mahishasur is also worshipped. As it is said, that when Durga killed the demon kind, Mahishashura he was booned by the Goddess and was promised to be worshipped along with her.

 

These thousands of pandals are decked gorgeously with lights and with various other decoration items. This time the only pandal I visited till now is the Babubagan Community Puja. There theme for this year is to get rid of the mechanical world and bring back the greenery. The pandal is made of worn out machine parts, while the idols signifying the almost lost Santhal community and their love for nature .

In between all these glories and worships, something good happened to me. My photos from Kumortuli, Kolkata got featured in Bhorer Kagoj, a newspaper in Bangaladesh.  

It was only Shasthi and there are four more days for the Puja. Stay tuned and will update you with more stories and photos from Kolkata Puja. Till then have a happy and safe Puja.

Don’t forget to have a copy of our Festive recipe e-book and the October calendar. And do send in your entries to the ongoing event Cooking with Seeds – Poppy, a brain child of Priya from Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes.

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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Shubho Mahalaya – A tale of two cities

Mahalaya at daybreak

Waking up at daybreak (well, its more like 4am) on Mahalaya has been, and still is, an annual ritual for most of Bengali households. When you are in Bengal, or say in states adjacent to Bengal (Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam), the (ei-4te-baje-uthe-ja) must-wake-up-at-4am is probably implemented more strictly than elsewhere. Predictably, if you don’t have strict enforcement of this widely practiced rule at your home, your Mahalaya would be way different.

The approach to celebrate Mahalaya at Bangalore (or say, Delhi, Mumbai or Hyderabad) is way different than that at Kolkata (or even Jamshedpur, Guwahati, Bhuwaneshwar or Patna). This post is a short account of how an immigrant Bong spent his Mahalaya in the IT City vis-a-vis how a pakka Bongo Tanaya spent hers in the Bengali heartland (Kolkata, where else?).

The Immigrant Bong

Went to bed at 2 am, so waking up at daybreak was obviously out of question. Other flatmates also wanted to enjoy Mahalaya chants, but Kalyan banging their doors at 6 in the morning was a strict no no. So we agreed on a protocol. After 8am, whoever wakes up first will SMS the other flatties (Don’t Bang my door please, just ping me ok!). At 8:30, the dont-bang-my-door-or-I’ll-shred-you warning would be called off and people then may start celebrating Mahalaya. So, instead of 4am, it was 8:30 am.

Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu

“Morning! Time for Mahalaya number?”

Received an SMS saying this at 8am. Startled, I woke up. I smiled at the changed times. Birendra Kishore Bhadra’s Chandipath is a number now. 🙂 Much like Dhanno in Housefull or Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance (please, I can’t name that Bieber fellow in the same breath). I found it a fresh and contemporary approach to complementing the goose bumps inducing Agomoni songs. What better a tribute to the traditional than to acknowledge that it is still ‘hip’. The guy would be proud in his afterlife.

Not sure if he ever imagined people born eight decades later (he was born way back in 1905) in weird places would be listening to his Mahishasurmardini songs at 10am over not a radio or television, but something weird as a website on a laptop. Not even sure if Akashvani (AIR) would have thought that what started as a tradition way back in 1930 would even continue 80 yrs later, albeit in several other formats.

A hair raising experience followed when we played the predictable two songs and a bonus– Birendra Kishore Bhadra’s Mahishasurmardini, Supriti Ghosh’s Bajlo tomar alor benu and its guitar’d rendition, on youtube. Check out the new age Agomoni, with guitars and a hint of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters:

The Immigrant Bongs and the I-have-many-Bengali-friends junta then followed it up with Phuchka-meets-Dahi-Bhalla. A slightly different version of the quintessential Bengali Phuchka. Boil the potataoes, mash it with some powdered spices, salt, Tamarind water (Imli ka paani) and boiled Mung Daal. Mix curd with whatever spices suits you and fill in each Phuchka (golgappa, pani puri) with the curd mix, mashed potato mix and Tamarind water. East meets West baby!

Followed it up with Mughlai Paratha for lunch at Calcutta Tiffins at a nearby Spencers. Was okayish, but nothing close to the Mughlai Paratha Sudeshna made. Its not without reason that the post is one of the most popular posts ever at Cook Like a Bong.

How was your Mahalaya?

Now, coming to the other end of the Spectrum.

The Banglar buke Bongo Santan (Bong in Bengali heartland)

Went to bed at 1am excited that Devi is finally arriving ina few hours. Wanted to do something more than the regular Ishh-ki-bhalo-Chandipath-cholchhe-radio-te (whoa! Awesome hymns on radio). Mom woke me up at 4 am. Mahishasurmardini was already loud on TV. Bengali Agamani songs were playing aloud in my mind.

While people elsewhere (Probashi Bengali) rely on Google etc for Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s Mahalaya Songs free download link, I feel lucky to watch/listen to Jago, Tumi Jago at daybreak by just switching on the TV (which is otherwise just an idiot box). Even better, having a father who breaks into a song at just the slightest provocation helps.

Finally decided to visit Gwalior Ghat (wonder why is it called so) with Baba. Morning ride to Gwalior Ghat was exciting. For the uninitiated, Ghats are embankments where man meets the river. Ghats of Kolkata preserve an interesting piece of history, be it Princep Ghat, Babu Ghat or Gwalior Ghat. It, like any other important Ghat, ends with a deep drop to the river bed. Interestingly, there is a Gwalior Ghat in Varanasi too.

Gwalior Ghat looked splendid in the early hours. Hundreds of people gathered to offer Tarpan to their deceased ancestors. Interestingly, Tarpan is performed in an empty stomach while you offer food and sweets to your departed ancestors. Several priests, as usual, made hay even in the early hours of sunshine. My dad performed Tarpan too.

Devipaksha (fortnight of the Godess) had a splendid start. Armed with a Nikon D60 and several lenses (lets leave the lenses specs to a separate post), I took some pictures while almost knee deep in mud. Was lucky not to soil my clothes. Shubho Mahalaya everyone!

Please comment and let us know how did your Mahalaya go?


We are sending this post as an entry to a wonderful event hosted by Pree – Beyond Five days of Durga Puja.

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Event Announcement: Cooking with Seeds – Poppy

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Poppy: The Gastronomic King

Poppy is one of the most widely used spices or rather seeds in any cuisine. The seeds though tiny have a huge influence in art of the gastronomy. As the wiki page on poppy rightly claims poppy had been essentially grown for medicinal purposes as a sedative, but more for its famous counterpart, the cuisine delights.

Poppy in Cuisine

Uses of poppy seeds find its preliminary element as a classic add-on to buttered egg noodles, fruit salad dressings and fragrant yeast breads. Poppy seeds lend a nutty flavor and texture to cookies, cakes, breads, strudels, pastry crusts and pancake, including even waffle batters. The seeds of the poppy plant are used extensively in and on umpteen food delights such as bagels, bialys, muffins or cakes and not to forget the famous alu posto (patato in poppy paste). The seeds can be crushed to manufacture poppy seed oil, which can vastly be employed in cooking. The primary flavor compound for poppy is 2-pentylfuran.

Poppy  – The healthy seed

Poppy seeds add a distinct flavor and taste to food. But that is not the only reason why they are consumed; poppy seeds provide quite a number of health benefits too. Poppy seeds are considered to be an excellent source of vital minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, etc. that are needed for the smooth functioning of all human organs. As they provide the body with a good source of carbohydrates, they add loads of energy in the body. The fatty acids aid in digestion as well as supplying other important acids required to break down food in the stomach. Poppy seeds contain linoleic acid and oleic acid. Linoleic acid protects the heart from many heart diseases and conditions, while oleic acid is known to help in prevention of breast cancer. Calories in poppy seeds is also comparatively less than other spices and herbs.

As it does not contain a lot of alkaloids, one of the poppy seeds nutrition facts is that it is used to treat all kinds of nervous disorders. It is given in minimum quantities to treat insomnia. It also helps to alleviate asthma and whooping cough symptoms. It is also used to treat diarrhea and other stomach related conditions. Its use in medicinal products and medicines is highly regulated though. Oil extracted from poppy seeds is also used to make drugs and medicines.

Poppy – The Event

With all these benefits in mind and also for its wonderful taste, when I thought of being a part of Priya’s Cooking with Seeds series, I instantly chose poppy to be the theme for this month. All through this month we’ll be hosting the Cooking with Seeds event, the brain child of Priyasuresh of Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes.

Send in your entries to bengalicuisine [at] gmail [dot] com with the following details and “Cooking with Seeds – Poppy” in the subject line:

  • Name:
  • Prepared dish:
  • URL of the recipe:
  • Name of website/blog:
  • URL of your site:
  • Image of the prepared recipe:

Entries will be accepted throughout this month till 31st October, 2010 12 midnight IST.

The entries can be recently posted during this month or can also be archived posts, but please update your posts with a link to Cook Like a Bong and Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes. We’ll love if you can add this logo to your posts.

Those of who don’t have a blog please send in your entries to the above email-id along with your details and the recipes. We’ll put up the recipe as a guest post in our site and include those on the round-up to be published in the first week of November.

We would love to know your suggestions and comments. Don’t forget to have a copy of our Festive recipe e-book and the October calendar.

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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Monthly Calendar: October

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The countdown has become, it’s a matter of just 13 days now before the festival of the year starts. The bright shiny sun in the blue sky with the white clouds marks the onset of autumn. And with autumn comes Durga Puja followed by Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja. This month we at Cook Like a Bong thought of doing something new to mark the largest festival of the Bengalis.

Saradiya Calendar

We are publishing the first monthly Calendar starting from this month. Those of who are already subscribed to the mailing list will get the Calendar delivered to their inbox. Subscribe to Cook Like a Bong and get an awesome collection of 26 authentic Bengali recipe e-book. You’ll also get a high resolution calendar delivered to your mail.

You can also download the image from below and save it as your desktop calendar for October 2010.

Download Durga Puja Wallpaper

Click on your choice from these options:

Durga Puja 2010 Timings

Here’s the date and timings (according to IST) of Durga Puja for 2010:

26th Ashwin (13th October) Shashthi till 5.06pm
27th Ashwin (14th October) Saptami till 5.24pm
28th Ashwin (15th October) Ashtami till 6.13pm

[Sandhi Puja between 5.49pm and 6.37pm]

29th Ashwin (16th October) Nabami till 7.31pm
30th Ashwin (17th October) Dashami till 9.11pm

Please let us know your comments and suggestions. You can write a comment here or mail us at bengalicuisine[at]gmail[dot]com.

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