Thursday 17 January 2013


At the University entrance exam in a centre in the erstwhile Calcutta, the two girls on the same seat finished their papers and suddenly smiled in recognition. The addresses on both their admit card envelopes showed an LIC Colony destination. One Jamshedpur, another Durgapur. The bonding was immediate. 

After the results were declared, both these girls landed in BHU, and were thrilled at seeing each other there. Nothing like the comfort of a familiar face in a foreign setup. Aah, the same entrance exam girl, LIC colony! Bijaya Kar, became for me, an example of serendipity. An Economics honours as against my English, we did not share common subjects. That minimizes chances of  closeness, by default. But there was that thread of our parents belonging to the same workforce that never let us move away from radar. 

Bijaya taught me to knit in those days of Roja and Arvind Swamy(AS). I wanted to make a  AS-like pullover for bhaiyu. Hail sisterly love! Same design, different colour. (The handsome hero had worn a maroon in the movie :)) Not only did Bijaya guide me into buying the right pair of kaanta, she wowed me by teaching me that ribbed design. I was super-impressed. At a time when literature and masti-maraoing were the only two things I was interested in, it fascinated me that a young girl could be a master of an intricate art like knitting. And not just a stole, a full-blown pullover, big size! This was something only ma-mashis were capable of, never a uni-student! Bijaya has remained on the pedestal ever since....

Fb helped us reconnect after years of oblivion. A top-brass in a renowned multinational, Bijaya lives amidst peacocks and her home-grown flowers and vegetables. That, in the concrete jungle of urban India, is no mean feat. So when my guru compliments me on the Rosh Boda, you can tell, it means the warmest blanket to me. The smile stayed on my face even while making Patishapta next evening. Patishapta, a traditional Bengali sweet, is a makar sankranti speciality. Keeping the khejur gur flavour of the season alive, join me in savouring it. And this one has to be for my mentor and yours, that one person who taught us an art/a skill that we are ever grateful for, and whom, we may/may not have thanked enough.

We need:
For the Cover:
1. 3 cup maida
2. 2 cup rice flour
3. 1 cup sooji 
4. 1-2 tsp sugar
5. Water- to make into thin batter
For Stuffing:
1. 1 cup khoa
2. 1 cup dessicated coconut
3. Khejur gur - to taste
For Syrup:
1. 1 ltr full cream milk
2. Khejur gur - to taste

We need to:
1. Boil milk & reduce it to half. Take off flame, add khejur gur and leave aside for gur to mix well. Allow cooling. 
2. Mix the Cover ingredients well and keep batter aside for 10-15 mins.  
3. Mix the Stuffing contents well so no lumps remain. Divide them into finger-sized cylinders to get the cover-stuff ratio right.(see pic)    

4. Pour a laddle-full of batter into the pan, put the stuffing and roll like a dosa. Do not brown. Patishapta is whitish, doing justice to its contents. 

5. When all the patishaptas are done, pour the thickened milk over them. Serve mildly warm or cold, as desired.   

To be enthu and to be a foodie! No combo that spells delight better
                                                                                                Warmth to you, Bijaya. And, over a decade later, thank you again.                                                                                                                         

Saturday 12 January 2013

Rosh Boda

We ushered in the new year with hope and ma's refrain of this being the first time that there is still no khejur gur at home. There's a thing about ma. She can say the same thing so many times that the laziest of humans has to turn around and take notice. So we did. And we're not the laziest, mind you. We have seen worse in our lifetime!

Come winter and khejur gur, palm jaggery, is a must in every Bong household. You get it in both solid and liquid forms. The liquid, jhola gur, is relished with everything from the humble ruti to the more elevated chitui pithe. The dhela, or the solid, is used in payesh, puli, patishapta and other sankranti delicacies. The sugar jar is relegated to the background for the winter months and khejur gur rules the kitchen. Bomma, my taayi ji, even made tea with the fresh palm juice that the boys in Bhagalpur got from the palm trees!

P was saved the tree-climbing here in NCR. He got both dhela and jhola from Ananya, a Bong outlet in Noida. These guys do everything Bengali from mishti doi to narkol nadu to the Anandolok pujo shonkha, the special durga puja edition of the popular magazine. Little Bangla, another authentic Bong joint in my vicinity, has shut shop and we now depend on Ananya and Mishti Mukh, both farther away in Noida, to cater to our sweet-tooth. 

Last evening finally saw khejur gur at home. Ma has to look for a new lament soon! Rosh Boda, urad dal dumplings in jaggery syrup, was the first sankranti mithai that we made with the gur. Easy to make and delicious to eat, rosh(ras, sweet syrup) boda(vada, lentil dumpling) is an item that can make you dance to the tune of faevicol! Be dabangg and give this a shot. Emanating from a region and spreading its fragrance to the universe, this khejur gur rosh boda will make you feel good about 2013. 

For Boda(Vada/Dumpling)
1. 1/2 cup Urad dal- soaked overnight
2. 1 tsp saunf - whole/ground
3. 1 tsp pepper powder
4. Salt- to taste
5. 1/2 kadai mustard oil- to deep fry boda
For Rosh(Jaggery Syrup)
1. 1 cup jhola gur
2. 1 cup water 

Method: Boda
1. Grind the soaked urad dal to a smooth paste. Add the other ingredients to the batter and mix well with your hand. 
Variation- I grind the saunf with the dal bcz my family wants the flavour but not the whole aniseed! Normally, it is added to the dal paste, whole. Suit your palate. 
2. Deep fry as roundish balls till slight golden.

1. As the bodas are frying, add jhola gur and water and 
bring to boil. Keep the syrup thin.
You can use dhela gur too, if you have the time.
Rosh Boda
Drop the dumplings in the syrup right away, when both are hot. Let them soak for 30 mins before serving. 

The lightly savoury dumplings makes an amazing combo with the jaggery syrup. The subtle taste of pepper and the unique saunf flavour gives the vadas a distinct oomph. When they soak in the ras for a suitable time, the succulence is out of the world.

A sunny Saturday morning, a good book to read, a bowl full of rosh boda to relish, a mind free of clutter, what else is happiness...

Happy Sankranti, folks! Happy Lohri, Happy Tusu, Happy Bihu, Happy Everything!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Kasa Kasa Payasam

OMG Amitabh Bachchan called ! And before I could even grasp that I was the ghar baithe vijeyta of 1 lakh, the IVR droned on, main aapka dost Amit bol raha hun etc :( There goes my dream, kaput! Just the month some extra cash would have served in good stead what with puja and diwali and other tyohar round the corner. Sigh!
                                                                                            Nothing like my neighbourhood nani's Kasa Kasa Payasam to rev me up on a day like this. Kasa Kasa is khus khus, posto, poppy seeds, in Tamil. I'd flipped for it the first time I'd had it in nani's house. Made it in my own kitchen only lately. Try this yum dessert folks, less fattening than many other sweet dishes we love ;)

1. 1/2 cup kasa kasa(poppy seeds/posto)
2. 1/4 cup rice
3. 1/2 cup desiccated/fresh grated coconut
4. 3-4 cups water
5. 1-2 cup milk
6. Jaggery to taste
7. 1/2 tsp cardamom powder- for flavour

1. Soak kasa kasa & rice, separately, for at least 30 mins.
2. Grind the kasa kasa with 2-3 tbsp water till it is smooth paste.
3. Add the soaked rice & grated/desiccated coconut and grind till all three ingredients turn smooth.
4. Boil water, add the ingredients paste and stir continuously, so no lumps are formed. 
Cook on medium heat. 
5. When the raw smell of kasa kasa goes, add jaggery & stir till payasam turns a light brown.
6. Add milk and stir for another 5-6 mins.
7. Mix elaichi powder & remove from flame.


Allow payasam to cool & see the thick layer settle on top. YUMMMM! Serve at whatever temperature your family likes. 

Happy Navaratri, friends. May this payasam sweeten up your life. No, no, you cannot make this if you are fasting. Rice is anna & hence prohibited during fasts. OH MY GOD! 

Monday 15 October 2012

Kadhai Chicken

Pitri Paksha ends and Devi Paksha starts today. This day, Mahalaya, symbolises Maa Durga's ascent from Kailash parwat to come to her parental home. She takes five days to travel, no matter what her waahan. (This year she is taking the elephant to arrive & the boat to leave). On the 6th, shoshti, Maa is ready to be received by her folks. That is the day from which Bengalis all over the world celebrate Durga Puja. The festivities start from shoshti evening and continue till doshumi, the tenth day. 
                                                                                                  Today as Pitri Paksha ends, we also remember our ancestors and pray for their souls. Paradoxically, austerity and festivity go hand in hand this day. As a section of society starts its Navaratra fasts, the Bengali gears up for his share of food & more maach mangsho. Same days of the month, equal sense of festivity and yet such diverse food habits. Incredible Indiaindeed
                                                                                                Whichever school you belong to, savour this Kadhai Chicken. Make it whenever your faith permits you to go non-vegetarian. But banana zaroor. It is finger-licking tasty and makes you forget the restaurant fare.
                                                                                                                                     Ingredients: [serves 4-6] 
1. 1kg chicken 
2. 3 large onions- finely chopped
3. 3/4 cup cashewnut- soaked & ground
4.  1-2 tbsp- fresh cream
5. 1/2 tsp egg yellow food colour
6. Oil to cook
7. Salt to taste
For Masala Paste
1. 3 large tomato- diced
2. 1 tbsp whole garam masala
3. 1- 11/2 tbsp chopped ginger
4. 1- 11/2 tbsp garlic pods
For Dry Masala
1. 1 tsp zeera
2. 1 tsp dhania
3. 1 tsp peppercorn
4. Red chilli powder- as preferred

1. In 3-4 tbsp oil, fry the chopped onion.

2. Grind ingredients of Masala Paste by adding a little water and fry well with the chopped onion. 
3. When masala is well-fried (the raw smell goes), add the chicken pieces, salt and food colour and fry for 3-5 mins.
Add 2.5-3 cups water, cover wok and let chicken cook on medium heat for 10-12 mins. 

4. As chicken cooks, dry roast the Dry Masala ingredients and grind into powder. 

5. When chicken is tender, add the kaju paste and let simmer on medium flame till raw kaju smell goes. 
6. Add the ground dry masala and let simmer for 2-3 mins.

7. As oil leaves the sides of the pan, add fresh cream and take off flame. 
                                                                                                                                               Serve hot with fried/plain rice. 

                                                                                                        Remember: As many onions, so many tomatoes. 

May this lip-smacking dish give you the impetus to live life large!
                                                                                                  Thank you for the recipe, Lalo. Happy Pujo, friends.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Gharelu Mughlai Parantha

Ideally this post should be for Big B if it is published on his birthday but this one is for Lavanyaa. While Debolina had her nonta-mukh on her bday, it was Lavanyaa who reminded me that the recipe has still not been shared :) So this moch-mochey(crisp)  parantha is at the behest of a friend I have still not met. Lavanyaa Suresh.

Lavanyaa and I work on common projects, discuss home decor and commercials and like each other's Fb pics. All via satellite. In this virtual world, tie-ups happen online and nobody is any worse for it. If anything, in a subtle way, technology has brought back that on-the-verge-of-extinction element in society-Trust. You have never met the person, yet you commit to a contract and plunge whole-heartedly into it. All basis this one core value. Isn't that a beautiful thing?

A technical expert who evolved into a producer for a leading Cloud-based entity, our girl manages her family and work with equal élan. Amidst deciding between blinds or curtains for her new home, Lavanyaa also finds time for Mata Vaishnodevi and reminding truants when they forget their promise :)

This poor cousin of the Mughlai Parantha is a homely version of its flamboyant sibling. Ma saw this recipe in her favourite  magazine & shared it with me. Whenever you are tired of the same old roti/parantha, try this Gharelu Mughlai Parantha. It is so yum, you may not even want an accompaniment with it! Try this today and taste for yourself. 

Ingredients: [makes 4-5 paranthas]]
1. 2 cups aata/maida(wheatflour/ flour)
2. 1 tbsp saunf (aniseed)
3. 1 tbsp peppercorn
4. 1 tbsp sugar
5. 3/4 tbsp salt- or as preferred
6. 1 1/2- 2 cups milk
7. While oil/ghee - to fry parantha

1. Dry grind ingredients 2-5 to a fine powder. 

2. Sieve ground masala with aata and knead with milk.

3.Keep aside dough for 20-30 mins. 

4. Roll out like a chapati, brush a coat of oil & sprinkle some dry aata. Follow pics for a square parantha. 

You know you've got the plot right when your parantha pufffs up(pic right) as you shallow fry it. 

                      Serve paranthas hot with any curry you want to. No, please don't eye the Bengal gram in the pic. I'm not posting that any time soon! Time constraints, you see ;)

Enjoy Lavanyaa. Happy Birthday Mr. Bachchan.