Chirer Pulao – Flattened Rice Pilaf

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Flattened rice or chindé is one of the most common evening snacks in Bengal. Whether its chindé bhaja (fried flattened rice) with roasted nuts or grated coconut or the chindé doi (sweet yogurt with flattened rice) – chindé has its own special place as the evening cha-er sathe ta. Chindé is so popular in Bengal that even grocery stores sale packed chindé bhaja.

Other than being such a hyped snacks dish, chindé is one of the many homemade remedies for keeping you cool during the summer months. Eating chindé doi for breakfast during the summer months is one of the many things which make a Bengali a true Bong. Probably because of its cooling effect you get to eat chindé doi on the very dawn of your wedding day. I remember y wedding day, my mom calling me at the crack of dawn and before I could understand anything she had wrapped a saree over my pj’s and t-shirt. And, there I was sitting in front of all relatives eating a bowl full of chindé doi.

The other very popular dish made with flattened rice is chirer pulao. This is almost similar to what rest of India calls poha or pohé. But, just like what happens when you say golgappa is better than Kolkata phuchka, the same thing happens here too. Ask any Bengali and he’ll surely say chirer pulao is far better than pohay. This is probably because a simple reason, the size and texture of the flattened rice that is available. Chira that we generally get in Bengal is a little smaller, softer and whiter than what the rest of India calls poha. While poha is made with roasted chillies, onions, mustard and cumin seeds and curry leaves, chirer pulao contains peas, cauliflower and the Bong favorite potatoes.

Chirer Pulao - Flattened Rice Pilaf

Snack, Indian, Authentic bengali recipe, Chirer pulao, Pilaf, Chinda recipe, Bengali poha, Poha recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 3cups chira
  • 1 medium size potato, chopped to tiny pieces
  • 1 floret of cauliflower, chopped to tiny pieces
  • ¼ cup of peas, fresh or frozen
  • A handful of peanuts, roasted
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions
  • Heat the oil in a wok and throw in the onions, potatoes and cauliflower, stir fry till the vegetables are half cooked. Season with green chillies, salt and sugar if using.
  • Add the peas and cook till the vegetables are properly cooked. Add the chira and stir fry to mix the vegetables and chira together.
  • If you want the chira to be crispy, take it out of flame garnish with the roasted peanuts and lemon juice and serve. If you like the softer version, sprinkle some water and let cook for a minute or two and then serve.

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Announcing Christmas Event

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I studied in a convent school, so Christmas was a big thing. I remember the whole week before the school closed for winter vacation we had to give gifts to the slums nearby. The gifts included food, soaps and also our old clothes. We decorated the entire school with streamers, light bulbs and there was the big manger decorated in front of the chapel. And, at the end of all these work there was the big piece of cake waiting.
So many years have passed, but I still miss school during this time of the year. So, this year I thought of celebrating along with you guys. Here I am announcing the Christmas event 2012. The theme for this event is as you have already guessed is Christmas. You can send any recipe that you would want to share with us, preferably a baked recipe – cakes, pies, breads.

There is no limit to the number of recipes you can send  for the event. Just send the recipes along with a photo of the preparation (the photo should not be more than 100Kb).  Send in your entries to bengalicuisine[at]gmail[dot]com with the subject  “Entry for Christmas Event 2012” along with the following details:

Name of author:
Name of the recipe:
Name of the blog:
URL of the blog:
Attach the picture with the mail

You can add the logo in your post or also on your sidebar. Send in new recipes or archived recipes. If you are sending any old recipes please update the post with the link to this event announcement.

Those who don’t have a blog please send in your recipe in word document format.
You can send in your entries from today till December 15, 12 midnight PST. I will post the round-up before Christmas.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas in advance. 

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Sandesh Pudding

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Subho Bijaya to all of you. The travelling, spending time with family and flying back to the US had its own toll. 4 days after we came back from our India trip and we are still unpacking things, the worst part being I just can’t remember where I kept what. So, posting a nice recipe for the special occasion was almost impossible for me.

Ishita Saha of IshitaUnblogged came to my rescue.  Ishita is just one year into the blogging world and she has marked her path in the cooking world. Ishita was very kind to be our guest blogger and share the wonderful fusion recipe of Sandesh Pudding with us. Read more to learn about Ishita, her love for cooking, her blogging world and her recipe in her own words.

My Blog just turned one! Not a very long journey but it has definitely been a momentous one – from making some good bloggers friends down the way, getting featured in BBC Good Food Magazine, making my favourite Rasgulla for a Ramadan special episode in the local TV channel to having loads of love from a lot of foodies the world over – the blogging journey of this Bong blogger has been quite fulfilling. And throughout the journey there has been a lot of introspection – how can I transcend myself from being a regional blogger to being an international one? Well, I haven’t. Everybody still knows me as the Bong Blogger and the biggest hit that my posts have had are when I have written aboutPhuchka or traditional Bangla Khabar!

But long before my blogging journey began my association with Cook Like a Bong started just like any other Bengali who’s starting their lives outside the comfort zones of their parents’ home… either because of work or because of marriage. Most Bengali girls (most) grow up with not much knowledge of cooking and the Porashuno or studying becoming the sole objective. ‘Jao to porashuno koro giye, rannaghor-e aar shomoy noshto korte obe na/Go and study, don’t have to waste time in the kitchen’ being the constant reminders from quintessentially Bong parents. So what do these cooking-illiterate people do once they have to set up their own homes and make their own meals? They make sites like Sudeshna’s their sole reference point!

Funnily when I made the Rasgullas for the local TV channel, I was almost mugging up the Rasgulla Recipe from where else? But, Cook Like a Bong! The least I can do for all the meals that I have cooked successfully following these recipes apart from saying A BIG THANK YOU is to give back one recipe to Sudeshna!

But what kind of recipe shall I contribute to? Drinks, Curries, Chutneys, Sweets – everything seems to be here anyway. Before the summer hit us, Sudeshna suggested that I could perhaps do a cool summer drink. But whatever I thought of seems to have been here. Summer turned into Monsoons and now the Autumns too seem to be turning into Winter. Bengalis are still greeting each other Subho Bijoya – probably the exchange of festive greetings can continue till Kali Pujo and Diwali. This is also the time to visit family & friends with a box of sweets. Hence my virtual treat of a fusion Bengali Sweet – the Shondesh Pudding to all those who aspire to Cook Like A Bong!

Shondesh is perhaps one of the most popular and unique of Bengali Sweets made with channa/paneer/Indian cottage cheese. Most Bengali sweet shops outside Bengal have managed to dole out a wide variety of Bengali Sweets, but Shondesh! What could be the probable reason, I’m not too sure. It’s probably the simplicity of the recipe of Shondesh – mixing pure sweetened Channa with other aromatic garnishing – that makes it difficult to replicate!

Again, Caramel Pudding though originally transported from the European shores has entered the Indian kitchens in many parts of India and has become popular among the ParsisMangaloreans and Anglo-Indians. There are many regional variations of the Caramel Pudding in many parts of the world (read here).

Pudding for me has many memories associated with it. Every-time my brother and I, we wanted something fancy, our Mum would stir up a Caramel Pudding in a jiffy. And we would be so thrilled and happy with our special treat. Unfortunately, my girls don’t enjoy the simple Caramel Pudding so much as we did in our childhood. Neither do they like the dry taste of Shondesh. But when I conjure the two of them together in this so called Shondesh Pudding with hundreds-and-thousands sprinkled on top, I see the same thrill and excitement in their eyes as we had in ours – many decades back.

This is perhaps the very essence of cooking – everything comes in a full circle. recipes are passed on from one generation to another and modified and modernized in the way, incorporating the trendy bits and skimming the non-trendy ones… so pudding from one continent gets fused with Shondesh from another continent and becomes a Bengali fusion dessert – Shondesh Pudding for the new generation of Bongs!

Sandesh Pudding

Dessert, Indian, Pudding, Bengali dessert, Sandesh
Cooks in    Serves 8-10
Ingredients
  • Ingredients for Pudding
  • Milk, full cream - 1lt
  • Eggs - 5
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Channa/Paneer, crumbled - 300gm
  • Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
  • Cardamom, crushed into powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon, crushed into powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Ingredients for Caramel Sauce
  • Sugar - 1/4 Cup
Directions
  • Heat 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 tsp of water in a pan to melt it. Pour the caramelized sugar into a flat round mold and let it cool. Mix the Eggs, Sugar in a bowl and blend it till the sugar dissolves. Add the milk, cardamom powder, cinnamon powder and vanilla essence to the mixture and blend it further till the mixture is smooth
  • Add half the crumbled channa/ paneer into the mixture and stir it in softly so that the paneer crumbles don\'t turn into fine pieces
  • Pour the mixture onto the glass bowl containing the caramelized sugar
  • Pour the remaining half of the crumbled chenna/ paneer on top of the mixture so that the chenna layer can form a base once the pudding is turned upside down
  • Steam it either by baking or using a pressure cooker (it should take about 30 minutes in the latter)
  • If you are baking
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C
  • Place the mold with the mixture in a large, deep baking pan. Pour hot water into the baking pan till it is about 1\" below the rim of the mold
  • Bake it for 45 minutes (you can test whether the pudding is done by inserting a toothpick in the center of the pudding. If it comes out clean it means that the pudding is done)
  • Serving
  • Place a plate over the mold and turn the pudding gently onto the plate. The caramel side should be up. Sprinkle the hundreds-and-thousands
  • Serve the sandesh pudding chilled as you cut them into individual pieces. Savor the caramel sauce pouring out!

 

Sprinkles (also called jimmies) are very small pieces of sugar strands used as a decoration on cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and puddings. Hundreds-and-thousands pep up a dessert in a very novel way – it adds lot of childish spunk! These sugar-loaded pieces could be a subject by itself as you can read here.

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