Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Strawberry Mousse Cake.........It's his Birthday



Yes, I know since last few posts I have been playing around Strawberries a lot. Strawberry Swiss Roll, Strawberry Shortcake Shoooters and now Strawberry Mousse Cake - they all have Strawberries in common. It's my husband's birthday and he loves strawberry flavor so I was treating him with desserts made with it.

I baked this cake for his birthday party but you don't need any special occasion to bake a cake. As we all know it must be someone's birthday somewhere so have a slice :) Moreover it's holiday season what else we need to dig into a slice of cake!

So, without any further ado let's begin with the recipe:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Shooters......A complete party pleaser



These days my home is filled with gorgeous smell of baking. The nice aroma of freshly baked cakes, cupcakes and cookies is so alluring. I'm not a big fan of cookies and cakes but I do enjoy them during this time of the year to celebrate Christmas and the knocking New Year.

I always feel desserts should be a star of the party because life without sweetness is unthinkable. Having a dessert after appetizer and main course sometimes become challenging so it should be light as much as possible but at the same time no comprise with its taste and looks.



Whenever I have any get-together at my place after preparing the appetizer and main course I hardly have any energy left to work on my dessert. So I usually pick the ones which are instant and hassle free yet gorgeous looking.

There are few things I believe should be kept handy:
  • Whipping Cream
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Any fresh or frozen fruits
Always have these things handy

If you have these things available in your pantry you can make endless number of desserts. Today I'm sharing "Strawberry Shortcake Shooters" a gorgeous looking, easy to make and hassle free dessert. 

Let's get started:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Strawberry Swiss Roll


Christmas is just around the corner. Decors and fairy lights are widely visible, people sing carols everywhere and everything looks festive and charismatic.

During this time of the year everybody is joyful, delighted and full of life. When everything is happy and merry all around how can food be aloof form these festivity. Since my childhood I have seen my Mom baking cakes throughout December to celebrate Christmas and New Year. I used to love that soft and fluffy vanilla cake.

To embark the festive season I decided to bake that vanilla cake and turn it into a "Strawberry Swiss Roll". No, this cake has nothing to do with "Switzerland" as the name suggests but I have seen these in our local Asian grocery stores.

Swiss Roll also known as Jelly roll or Roulade is a sponge cake layered with jelly or cream, rolled up and served in cross sectional slices. It tastes delicious and divine. Even if you don't get the swirls perfect or your cake gets cracked while rolling it's okay. You will still love the tasty and heavenly Swiss Roll.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Kashmili Pulao....A Fusion of Kashmiri and Bengali Cuisine


You might be wondering there's a typo in my recipe name but no there isn't and today's recipe name is "Kashmili Pulao". In India we have lot of diversity in art, culture, literature, religion and this so the food.

Indian food is also diversified not only by taste and look but also how it is cooked. In India each new wave of civilization have brought their own culinary practices. Like Indian culture our food is also influenced by various civilizations and each one of them has their equal contribution in making Indian food at its best and renowned.

India has 29 states and each state has its own culinary practices. Today I'm going to present a very interesting fusion of Kashmiri and Bengali Cuisine. Kashmir aka "Heaven on Earth" forms the crown of India on the other hand Bengal aka "Cultural Capital of India" is located in the eastern part. Kashmiri Cuisine has a strong reflection of flavors from Central Asia. The staple diet of every Kashmiri includes rice which can be found abundantly in the beautiful valley and their main course revolves around  it. Whereas people living in the eastern part of India particularly West Bengal loves to eat fish and rice.




Today I decided to combine two very popular dishes: Kashmiri Yakhni Pulao (a very popular dish of Kashmiri cuisine prepared with rice and meat stock) and Bengali Mishti Pulao (a flavorful, sweet and aromatic rice dish).

I adopted the recipe of Bengali Mishti Pulao from my Mother-In-Law who is one of the finest cooks I know. She can do number of variations in a simple pulao and each time it tastes different. This is my take on her recipe but with a twist.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Khaman Dhokla in Microwave



Few days back my Sister-In-Law who happens to be the first follower on my Facebook page requested me for the recipe of Dhokla. Since we are in the mid of winter so I did not get chance to make the batter and ferment it. So I came up with this no ferment and instant recipe which can be made with just a blink of your eye. 

Dhokla is a soft, fluffy melt in mouth savory cake made from Gram flour (Besan). It is a very popular snack which originated in the western state of India i.e. Gujarat. However these days it can be found across India.

It is a dish which has undergone many disasters in my kitchen. But soon I realized making a perfect dhokla is not a rocket science. All you need to have is the right proportions of the ingredients and VOILA you are ready with one of the softest food items ever.




My Mom makes the best dhokla I have ever had. She's also known as "Dhokla Aunty" in her neighborhood. The texture and flavors she gets every time is  just incredible. 

There are many variations of dhokla. The traditional recipe calls for rice and urad daal (lentil). But here I'm going to share an instant version made with gram flour (besan). It is perfect for your tea time or when you have unexpected guests at your home.

So let's get started:


Friday, December 5, 2014

Kadhai Paneer


Kadhai Paneer.......one of the simplest Paneer recipes. The name itself is self-explanatory Kadhai means "Wok" in English (not the Chinese one) which is thick, round, deep cooking pan used in Indian kitchens and Paneer is "Cottage Cheese". It is very quick and easy stir fried dish which is made in "Kadhai" and that's how the name is derived. 



Kadhai preparations are generally tomato based dry curries flavored with various spices and kasuri methi. This mild spicy and crunchy dish is full of flavors. Roasted and coarsely ground spices gives a nice aroma and bell peppers (capsicum) gives the crunchiness.

Here's the recipe:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chicken Shami Kebab


Mughlai Cuisine - It's a cuisine which all Indians are die hard fans. Whether its Biryani, Kebab, Kofta or Rezala we all enjoy them equally. Thanks to the royal Mughal kitchens who taught us to cook these palatable dishes.

The taste of Mughlai dishes varies from mild to spicy and flavored with whole or ground spices. My home gets aromatic whenever I cook something from this cuisine. Last Sunday it was Thanksgiving weekend and I made Chicken Biryani and Shami Kebab for our lunch. Yes, as I mentioned in my Chicken Biryani post that I cook Biryani on every Sunday but this time I wanted it to be accompanied with Shami Kebab.



Shami Kebab are small paties made from minced meat, chana dal (lentil), flavored with spices and served with chutney. The process of making these kebabs is little lengthy but trust me it's worth the effort. The hypnotic aroma of these kebabs and clean licked plates gives you a sense of contentment. 

So let's get started:


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nankhatai....Cardamom Flavored Eggless Cookies



Holiday Season is here.......I just love this time of the year when you can see decorations everywhere. Everything is in the festive mood. Everything becomes bright colored and sparkling. You can see decorations and fairy lights all around. Even if you don't celebrate this festive season its very hard not to get enticed from these lights and decorations.

A light breeze of cold air, foggy mornings, warmth of the woolen clothes, fragrance of hot coffee are the things which we can enjoy at this time of the year. 

Baking is my way of celebrating festive season. The aroma of freshly baked cookies and cakes embarks holidays. This time I was very eager to bake a very basic cardamom flavored cookie which is also known as "Nankhatai" in India.

These cookies are very simple to make and require very few ingredients which we always have at our home. So, whenever you crave for some homemade cookies try them out. I can assure once you make and store it you can't keep yourself away from these goodies.

Here's the recipe:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Garlic Naan......Garlic Flavored Yeast Free Indian Flat Bread


Naan.......A flat Indian Bread which doesn't need much introduction. It is appreciated all over the world. A meal in an Indian restaurant is incomplete without having "Naan" in it. A Naan is an oval-shaped, soft, pillow-like bread which is brushed with butter and pairs well with every Veg and Non-Veg curries . 

Traditionally, Naans are prepared in Tandoor (Clay Oven) on extremely high temperature. Since I don't have that kind of oven I make it in my conventional oven. It can also be made on a stove-top or skillet. There are many variations of Naan. You can flavor it with whatever herb you want and stuff it with your choice of vegetable or meat.  

I always thought making Naan at home is impossible. The texture and taste we get in the restaurant is impossible to replicate. But then one fine day I made "Paneer Makhani" and was thinking it would taste great with "Garlic Naan". It was then I experimented with the recipe of Naan and was quite amazed with the result. 

So let's dig deep into the recipe:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Achari Aaloo.....Pickle Flavored Potatoes


Achari Aaloo.........Aaloo or Potato is very versatile root vegetable which fits into any curry you make. When it comes to Indian cuisine you can see generous use of potatoes. That's why there are so many recipes made with Aaloo whether its Dum Aaloo, Jeera Aaloo, Aaloo Paratha, Samosa and the list is never ending. There's a secret about Bengali's.....they can't imagine their Chicken or Mutton Curries without potatoes........Sssshhhhh

Somehow, I don't like potatoes because it adds lots of extra pounds. So I try to use them as minimum as possible in my daily diet. But, when it comes to Aaloo Paratha or Achari Aaloo I can't resist myself.

Achari Aaloo.....Achar means Pickle in English. But we don't use pickle in this recipe. Instead we use the spices which are used to make pickle to infuse the flavor of pickle. This dish gets its tanginess from Amchur Powder (Dry Mango Powder). You can replace it with vinegar or lime juice. There are many variations of this dish. You can replace potatoes with chicken, mutton, paneer, cauliflower or any other vegetable of your choice.

So, let's start with our finger licking piquant recipe:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Eggless Mango Mousse....No Cook No Bake Mango Mousse



Mango Mousse.......Yes, I know this is not the season of Mangoes but last week when I went out for grocery I saw a can of mango puree which caught my attention. Immediately, chain of "Dessert-full" thoughts ran through my mind because when it comes to Dessert my imaginations get wings and they fly randomly. I have a sweet tooth so does every Bengali and I love to try desserts from every cuisine.

These days fruits and vegetables don't have any season constraints. We can get all our favorite fruits and vegetables all year round but mangoes. We can get them in puree form tough and enjoy its taste throughout the year.


Mango is considered as the king of all fruits and it deserves too. It is also known as national fruit of India where summers are incomplete without them. 

There are endless recipes made from mangoes starting from pickles to sweets. The recipe I am going to share today is Eggless Mango Mousse. It's hassle free and requires very few ingredients.  A Mousse may be sweet or savory. Dessert Mousses are typically made from whipped egg whites or whipped cream and flavored with chocolate or fruit puree. I used Mangoes but you can use any fruit of your choice.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Paneer Butter Masala.....Cottage Cheese in a rich creamy gravy




Paneer Butter Masala.......Whenever I hear this name a clear view of Paneer cooked in bright orange colored rich creamy gravy runs through my mind which looks so inviting.  Anyway let me stop my day-dreaming and return to the post.

I am a great fan of North Indian cuisine may be that's because I have spent 7 years of my life in Punjab, India. So ask me anything vegetarian, I would say it's Paneer Butter Masala. A very popular North Indian dish which has now secured its place in the menu card of most of the Indian restaurants around the globe. As the name is self explanatory Paneer (Cheese) cooked in Butter and flavored with various spices. The gravy is thickened by using cream and cashew nut paste (though optional) which serve as the base of the gravy.

I love each and every preparation of Paneer whether its Palak Paneer, Matar Paneer, Paneer Paratha, Paneer Bhurji and the list goes on......

I don't find much difference between "Paneer Butter Masala", "Paneer Makhani" and "Shahi Paneer" where all these dishes are made with onions, tomatoes, butter, cream and nuts. It solely depends upon the preference of the cook to add or subtract the ingredients. Whatever the case is, the end result is scrumptious and mouth watering dish served on your plate.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Garlicky Egg Curry....A simple recipe to satisfy any Garlic-a-holic


"Sunday Ho Ya Monday Roj Khao Ande"..............we all have seen that advertisement in our childhood. Me and my husband both are egg lovers. Whenever I don't like to cook anything I reach out for the eggs in our refrigerator and yes, they never disappoint me. 

Egg is a very versatile cooking ingredient. You can cook it the way you like and it tastes good in any form you cook either its poached, scrambled, omelette, boiled, or in a curry . Yesterday it was a very dull day for me and I wasn't feeling to cook anything and suddenly this Egg Curry struck in my mind which wouldn't take much time to cook and pairs well with anything starting from naan, paratha, chapati, fried rice or simply a bowl of steamed rice.

For this recipe you need hard boiled eggs. You would have noticed, usually eggs get cracked while boiling or at times even after boiling you have hard time to peel them off. It's due to the temperature. When you take out eggs from the refrigerator and put it in boiling water it tends to crack. So here is the trick which I learnt. Take a pan with cold water, dip the eggs in it and add a teaspoon of salt (this will prevent the eggs from cracking). Place the pan on low heat. After 5-6 mins increase the heat to medium and let it boil for 7-8 mins. Remove the pan and run the eggs under cold tap water. So, here you are with the easily peeled hard boiled eggs.

Now let's start with our recipe:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Rui Macher Jhal......Rohu Fish in Mustard Sauce (My go-to Fish Curry)


Maach-Bhaat (Fish and Rice) is every Bengali's comfort food. A Bengali's love for fish is endless. There is a popular saying too "Mache Bhate Bangali" i.e. Fish and Rice makes a Bengali. We eat so many different fishes starting from fresh water ones like Rohu, Katla, Pabda to salt water fishes like Hilsa, Pomfret etc. But to be very frank I like only specific fishes maybe because I grew up mainly in Central India where we would get only 2-3 varieties. Whatever the reason is, the varieties I eat I just love them.

Here in Portland, Oregon we get Rohu, Hilsa, Pabda, Tangra etc in a Middle-Eastern shop but all in frozen form. Thanks to an Asian store out here where we get fresh fishes like Shrimp (Prawn), Pomfret, Bhetki and Tilapia (lately I started eating that). 

The recipe which I am going to share today is generally prepared with Hilsa or Ilish but I have seen my Mom to make it with Rohu too but with a slight twist. She adds cumin seeds along with the mustard seeds which not only reduces the pungency of mustard seeds but also gives a nice flavor to the dish. I like to make it the way she does. So, let's dig into the recipe:



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

B for Biryani......Kolkata Style Chicken Dum Biryani


Biryani.......Naam toh suna hi hoga :) 

The name is enough to make anybody drool and especially the Indians. The origin of Biryani is still debatable. Few says that it was originated in Persia and then brought to India by the Mughal Emperors. However, some also say that the dish was known in South Asia even before Babur came to India.

Biryani is a medley of basmati rice, meat(chicken, mutton or lamb), potatoes, various spices and condiments. In India every house hold have their own version of Biryani. It is generally made in two ways:
1. Kachhi (Raw) Biryani: where marinated raw meat and partially cooked rice are layered and cooked on dum (steam) over low heat.
2. Pakki(Cooked) Biryani: where cooked meat and partially cooked rice are layered and cooked on dum (steam) over low heat.

For us, Sundays are always special not only because its a holiday but also because its on Sundays that our home is filled with rich, aromatic fragrance of Chicken Biryani. Yes, I love making Biryani on Sundays without it our Sunday is just incomplete. 

I learnt making this royal dish from my then colleague and friend Farina Sheikh. She's one of the finest cooks I have ever met. I still have the recipe in my diary that she had shared with me but I made slight changes to it to adjust our taste buds. 

Making Biryani is a lengthy process it needs lot of TLC (Tender, Love and Care) and the exact spices, you can't skip any step nor you can replace any spice with the other. But at the end when you serve it on your plate its a pleasure seeing the beautiful Chicken Biryani cooked with the aromatic spices and condiments. Your home even your neighborhood gets filled with its fragrance.

I firmly believe a person first eats with his eyes and then tastes with his tongue. So the look of the Biryani (or any thing you cook) is very important. There's no meaning of cooking a Biryani which doesn't even look like one. So few things to keep in mind while cooking it:
1. Use the best quality long grain Basmati Rice
2. Marinate the Chicken for at least 2-3 hours. Overnight is preferable.
3. Be cautious not to overcook the rice. So always keep an eye while boiling the rice.

Let me take you through the beautiful journey of preparing this royal dish.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Mochar Chop......Banana Blossom Croquette


We all are familiar with Banana: nature's own energy rich food but did you know you can eat its flower too? You might be wondering how, right? This question is very obvious for the one who hasn't tasted it. The flower of Banana is known as Mocha(in Bengali) or Banana Blossom(in English).

Mocha or Banana Blossom is used as a nutritious food item in Southeast Asia. It has a lot of medicinal values like blood purification, curing stomach ulcers, constipation, menstrual disorders etc. Since they are rich in fiber content they help in increasing the hemoglobin level of our blood.

Banana trees are very common in India and especially in West Bengal. We Bengalis utilize each and every part of Banana tree. The stem a.k.a "Thor", the leaves are used to serve food or used in wrapping and cooking, the flower a.k.a "Mocha" and of course the fruit "Banana". These trees also have religious values. They are used in pooja and wedding ceremonies.

Enough of rambling now coming back to our "Mochar Chop". 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rasgulla/Rosogolla


Rasgulla or Rosogolla.....Do I need to tell you what it is? Rosogolla and Bengalis are synonyms. You cannot imagine one without the other. It doesn't need any introduction in the Indian subcontinent. But for those who don't know what it is then let me introduce them with this signature Bengali sweet. Rosogollas are homemade cheese balls cooked and soaked in sugar syrup.

Bengali's love for Rosogolla is endless. They can eat it at breakfast, at lunch and can even finish their dinner with it. My love for Rosogolla has a short story behind it. As a child I was not a big fan of sweets and needless to say I had never tasted Rosogolla. My parents used to tell me you are missing such a big thing in your life. But one day my Mesho (Maternal Uncle) insisted me much to have a bite of it but I was not ready and then he took one Rosogolla and put it in my mouth and I realized how delicious it is and what I was missing all that while. From that day onward I can eat Rosogolla at any time of the day.

This time I made Rosogolla on Diwali. I posted its picture even on my Facebook page:
 Since I was busy with Diwali chores I was unable to post its recipe before. So now here I am with its recipe. Hope you all will like it.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dahi Vada


The taste of Indian street food is so addictive that it's irresistible. It leaves your taste buds tingling even after the dish is finished. The spicy and tangy flavor of the food always ask you for "Thoda Aur"(little more). Dahi Vada or Dahi Bhalla is an Indian Chaat (snack) to be more precise a North Indian street food but now its taste has spread in the entire world and can be found easily in many Indian restaurants around the globe.

Dahi Vada is deep fried lentil dumplings made from Urad daal (split black gram), soaked in beaten yogurt and topped with flavored chutneys, spices and garnished with Sev or Boondi. It is making me drool even when I'm writing this post. It's taste is just inexplicable. So, without any further ado I'm sharing it's recipe:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Langcha


As Diwali is around the corner its time to indulge yourself into the sweetness of the sweets without having the guilt of those extra pounds gained from them. Diwali or Deepawali is a festival of lights. It signifies the victory of light over the darkness, good over the evil. On Diwali night people dress up their best and decorate their home with Diyas and workship Lakshmi: the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. The Puja is followed by fireworks and the grand feast including sweets. So, I thought of sharing a very popular Bengali sweet "Langcha" on this festive occasion.

Langcha is a Bengali dessert that originated in Shaktigarh in the Burdwan district of West Bengal, India. But now you can find it in any sweet shop of Kolkata. Moreover some of the well known brands also sell them in cans. 

Langcha is made up of sweetened cottage cheese (chena), khoa (reduced solidified milk), and flour. There is another form of Langcha which is known as Pantua. Basically the difference between Langcha and Pantua is in their shape. Langcha is cylindrical shaped while the other one is round.

Cottage cheese is widely used in many Indian sweets. You can use store-bought cottage cheese or make it very easily at home. However, I would suggest you to make cheese at home to ensure its purity. Any adulterated or inferior cheese can ruin your Langcha or Pantua.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Punjabi Chole/ Chana Masala


Nobody makes Chole the way Punjabis do. It is a very popular Punjabi dish. Chole is usually accompanied with Bhature (a fried bread made of flour). Chole-Bhature is a breakfast invented in Delhi after partition and now a days, it is a popular breakfast around Northern India and other parts of the country.

Chole-Bhature is one of my favorite dishes. I had spent 8 years of my childhood in Punjab. We were a family of three; me and my parents. Sundays used to be very special, we would go for an outing and eat those gigantic Bhature with Chole in restaurant. They usually serve them with a pickle made of carrots and cauliflower. 

I wish I could go back in time but you know no one really can. So, here is what I thought, I will give Chole-Bhature a try at home. But somewhere I was not sure whether I can recreate that flavor on my plate or not. After few trials I was able to do so and came up with a recipe which reminds me of my childhood days. Happy to share it with you.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Narkel Nadu/ Coconut Ladoo


Narkel Nadu or Coconut Ladoo don't need any introduction in Bengali households. But for the people who are wondering what it is then let me introduce you to this. Narkel Nadu or Coconut Ladoo is a sweet dish from West Bengal which are made during the festivals specially during the Durga Puja and Lokkhi Pujo/ Lakhmi Pujo. 

The Nadu or Ladoo are of two kinds "Gure'r Nadu" made with Jaggery and are deep brown in color and "Chini'r Nadu" made with Sugar and are pristine white in color. My personal liking is the Chini'r Nadu (the one made with Sugar) and that is what I am sharing with you all.

As the name suggests it is made up of Coconut, Whole Milk (you can also use Evaporated Milk to reduce the time and effort), Sugar and Cardamom to add some flavor to the Nadu (Ladoo).