Archive for February, 2011

Craft | Mural Art

Learnt this at a workshop in Chennai. It’s made with stone powder, cement powder and fevicol. It took a day to dry and then painted it with black colour and dusted with bronze powder.

Craft | Mehndi Art 1

My dear readers,
I’m taking a small break from blogging as I have injured my right wrist. Doc says its due to inflammation of tendons around wrist bones. Phew! I’m prescribed immobility of right hand. Abbas played a movie to help me fight boredom and he couldn’t have chosen a better movie apt for my condition. I could absolutely understand Hrithik’s sufferings in ‘Guzarish’. Keeping one hand immobile for a day was like a nightmare. Uploading some pics of the art work created by my right hand. Hope it will recover soon…

A short visit to supermarket on Friday evening on the way back home… The store was decorated with bright red strawberry posters. And signboards reading “Strawberries at rock bottom price!!!” Am I to be blamed if these were temptations enough for me to swiftly load my shopping cart with a box of these berries? I also quickly dumped some fresh cream packets thinking “Just in case”… Friday night, I was madly looking for something special to make with strawberries over the internet. I was spoiled for options too. Encountered numerous recipes but then I had a stringent criterion which none of them satisfied. I wanted my strawberries either in the form of a paste or cooked in some kind of a solution coz none at home would like its pieces on their own. I only like them in ice creams or milk shakes. Well, I made mascarpone cheese out of the fresh cream and let it set in the refrigerator Friday night. I went to bed undecided about what to make with strawberries. Next day when Abbas reminded of the hoards of tomatoes which we had bought with plans of making the infamous Bengali Chutney, “Ding Dong”, yes the Bell finally rang! I knew the fate of those red beauties!
Strawberries – 12-15, (cut into 4-6 pieces each)
Dates – 6-7 (soak in warm water and cut into halves or quarters) – optional
Golden raisins – 20-30 – optional
Sugar – 2-3 tbsp (need to adjust as per taste)
Salt – ½ tsp
Ginger juice – ½ tsp
Tamarind pulp – 1 tbsp
Water – ½ cup
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Red chillies – 1-2
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add broken red chillies and chopped strawberries.
  2. Cover the pan with lid and simmer it. Strawberries will leave their own juice.
  3. Once they are cooked, add dates, raisins, salt and ginger juice and combine. Cook on low flame for a minute.
  4. Add Sugar, water and tamarind pulp. Adjust sugar according to your taste. (Ma and Abbas like their Chutney very tangy and spicy. So I add less sugar.)
  5. Cook till the chutney is slightly thick and not runny.
  6. Best served chilled with some papads. Dip papads in the chutney and enjoy.
1. If using tomatoes, use about 3-4 medium sized tomatoes.
2. We can also add Ambe Saat (in Amchigele) or Aam Satto (in Bengali) by chopping them.

Masoor dal – 1 cup sprouted (soak masoor dal in water over night, remove from water and keep for another 12 hours till it gets sprouts)
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp (optional)
Onion – 1/2 cup finely chopped
Salt to taste
Grind together:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Tamarind – 1 small piece
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp roasted in 1 tbsp heated oil till it turns brown
1. Cook the sprouted masoor dal in pressure cooker till 1 whistle.
2. Add ground masala in the cooked masoor dal adding garam masala, salt and little water according to ur consistency.
3. Simmer for few minutes
4. Season with chopped onion and serve with rice or roties .
The garlic pull apart rolls have been such a super duprt hit in the blogosphere lately. Most bloggers have tried this and it has received accolades from each one of them. My first attempt at these was a super duper flop. I cursed the yeast and was about to trash the whole packet. Exactly then I saw Srivalli beginning her Marathon with these rolls. I wanted to give it another try. If everybody could get it right, why couldn’t I? I wanted to check if the fault was with me or the yeast??? Valli had mentioned a separate step of proofing the yeast to check if it is still active or not. I followed her recipe to the T except that I used half the quantity of all ingreients listed. My yeast was active but perhaps not as active as it is supposed to be (puzzled). It took about an hour and a half to increase in quantity. Well the outcome was worth the wait coz the rolls turned out warm and delicious, specially with the garlic, butter and coriander spread… These rolls along with a hot bowl of soup would make for a filling and comforting meal… I will try these with different filling next time…
For the Dough All purpose flour / Maida – 3 cups

Warm Water- 1 cup
Yeast- 1 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Sugar- 2 tbps
Extra Virgin Olive Oil- 3 tbps

For the Garlic Coriander Butter Spread
Butter- 50 grams
Garlic- 3- 4 grated
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste


To make the Garlic Coriander Butter spread
1. Bring butter to room temperature. Grate and pound the garlic well.
2. Finely chop the coriander.
3. Beat the butter well, mix everything together. Continue beating for couple of mins for thorough mix.

Proofing the Yeast:
In a bowl, take the yeast, add lurk warm water, sugar. Cover it and set it aside for 10 mins. Once done you will see a creamy foam formed on the top. This means the yeast is still active. If not please get another batch of yeast else your bread will never rise.

To make the dough
1. In a wide bowl, take the flour, add salt. Then add the yeast mixture and slowly add water to mix in. Knead till the flour forms a dough. At this stage it will be very sticky.

2. Add olive oil and knead well. Continue doing it till it forms a smooth dough. Punch it down couple of times. When you press the dough, it should spring back. 

3. Grease a large bowl with olive oil. Apply the dough with oil by turning the dough in the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp muslin cloth or a cling film and let the dough double. (It took around 90 mins for my dough to double.) Remove the cover, punch the dough to remove the air from the dough and divide it into two.

4. On a well floured surface, roll out one ball into a rectangle about 1 cm thick.On the rolled out dough, spread the garlic spread (keep a little aside to smear on top) evenly over it and roll it into a log. Cut into small pieces.

5. In well greased baking tray, place the rolls cut side up and brush the top with some milk.
6. Keep the baking tray aside for about 20 minutes for the rolls to rise. Meantime, pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.

7. Bake for about 30 – 35 mins till the top of the rolls turns golden brown.

8. Once done, brush with a blob of butter over the top of the freshly baked rolls. This gives the rolls a lovely shine.

Chicken Vindaloo

I have quite a handsome number of items in my “Non-exhaustive To-do” list at any given point of time. How I wish there were more than 24 hours a day or perhaps only 6 hours at work and a mandatory holiday on Wednesdays. No, I don’t wish for weekends to be longer than 2 days. Coz I’m terrified at the thought of spending more than 2 days at home at a stretch. A Monday is always looked forward to as the Sun sets on Sunday. It marks the beginning of a new week and anticipation for Friday’s arrival.
This cycle came to a halt when I was carrying and my doc strictly enforced maternity leave on me about a month and a half before my due date. I was supposed to be on complete bed rest coz any more stress didn’t mean good to my twins. I was frustrated to the core with nothing to do… I started this blog to pen down my experience of this new found journey called ‘Motherhood’. I also would watch TV and note down recipes that fascinated me. Here is one of them. I don’t remember who or which programme it was. I have prepared this 3-4 times now and it turns out good, although the pics are not that appealing.
Chicken – ¼ kg
Onion – 1 cup, sliced
Ginger paste – ½ tsp
Garlic paste – ½ tsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Coriander seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Vinegar – 1 tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – 3-4 strands
1.      Grind together ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, red chillies, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds to a smooth paste. Apply this paste and salt to chicken and keep aside.
2.      Heat oil and fry onions on a low heat till the onions turn dark and crispy. Take them out on a clean kitchen towel to remove all the extra oil. Grind to a paste along with vinegar.
3.      This is the dark paste that gives the color to the dish. Add this to the chicken and leave aside for 30 mins.
4.      Heat a little oil in thick bottomed pan/ Add the chicken with the marinade. Cook till chicken is tender and gravy is thickened.
5.      Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with Indian bread.

This is one of the delicacies relished by Konkanis
How to make?
Ash gourd – 3 or 4 cups, thick skin peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
Jaggery powder – 2-3 tbsp
Curry leaves – 10-12 sprigs
Tamarind – marble sized ball (or 1tbsp tamarind pulp)
Salt to taste
Cook with ash gourd cubes very little water along with jaggery powder, curry leaves, tamarind and salt. (Do not cook fully )
For the masala:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Urad Dal / Black Gram Dal – 1 tabspoon roasted 1 tbsp oil ( it should b brown )
Grind in to coarse paste. Add this masala in the cooked ash gourd cubes and simmer for few minutes till the pieces are fully cooked. 
For tempering:
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Asafoetida / hing powder – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 10-12 sprigs
When the curry becomes thick, season this with oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida / hing powder and curry leaves.
Serve with rice and dal.
Whenever we visit restaurants, soups are ordered for 3 of my daughters. Well if you all are wondering who the third one is apart from my twin girls, it’s my MIL. She would sip the soup and each time ask me like a kid ‘Seemu, can’t you prepare this at home?’ Nowadays we have a wide array of ready-made packets available but I refrain from buying them at the thought of MSG being used in them. Although they taste absolutely delicious, I’ve never fed those soups to my kids. I made this Tomato Egg Drop Soup from Sanjeev Kapoor’s book and it turned out quite well. Children would certainly like it as its is not spicy and also gets made in a jiffy. Most inredients are readily available in an Indian kitchen. Here goes the recipe:

Tomatoes – 4 medium sized, chopped
Eggs – 2, lightly whisked
Oil – 2 tbsps
Ginger – 1″, chopped, optional (I used ginger paste)
Garlic cloves – 2-3, chopped
Onion – 1/2 medium, chopped
Tomato sauce – 4 tbsps
Vegetable stock – 4 cups
Salt to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
MSG / Ajinomoto – 1/4 tsp (optional)
White pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Cornflour – 2 tbsp
White vinegar – 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp, chopped

1. Heat oil in a pan, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for one minute. Add onion and continue to stir-fry for one minute more.
2. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook on high heat for two or three minutes. Stir in three and a half cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste, sugar, MSG and white pepper powder.
3. Mix cornflour and remaining vegetable stock. Add to the pan and cook for one minute, or until the soup thickens, stirring continuously.
4. Stir in the vinegar. Pour the whisked egg in a steady steam into the hot soup stirring gently to form egg threads. The egg will coagulate and float to the top.
5. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.

Come February and celebration of love begins… Newspapers, malls, TVs all hype this festival of love. Even those who find it silly can’t escape coz romance is in the air then. It was Feb 14th 2008, my second Valentine’s Day after marriage. Just as another normal day, we went to work. Heard each colleague’s plans for the evening. When I was intrigued of what I had lined up for the evening, I indifferently said ‘Each passing day is Valentine’s Day for us, we don’t explicitly celebrate it on 14th’. But somewhere down the bottom of my heart I too expected that perhaps Abbas would get something for me! Coz it was our first Valentine’s Day together as we were apart the previous year. I eagerly waited for him after reaching home laden with curiosity. My over-confident instincts were telling me that perhaps he was getting late as we buying something for me. The stressed out soul finally came home and got into the bathroom to freshen up. My lower lip popped out of disappointment as though a kid would react having denied something. Well, I quickly consoled myself and decided I would not let him know that I was expecting something. As usual, he started to tell the day’s events. “Seemu, you know Supratik gifted Smitha with the recent Harry Potter book. Smitha was so excited and happy.” I mildly said “Oh” and that was enough for my man to smell something fishy. Next moment he asked me, “Were you expecting that I would get something for you?” I blankly nodded (Never been able to lie to him, have hidden from him, but when confronted can’t manage to lie) The enlightened man said “I have matured from this age of being crazy over Valentine’s Day but I forgot that you are still young, I should’ve thought of it”. Next day a huge Teddy Bear came home as a compensation. We have named it Sunny and we celebrate Sunny’s birthday then on. Might sound insane to some, but yes we religiously observe his arrival on Feb 15th every year. This time I made this Apple Almond Cake and Ma made Payesh… Cool na?
This recipe is minimally adopted from Divya’s Apple Nut Muffin Cake. Would have followed her recipe to the ‘T’ but due to unavailability of ingredients and urge to have it that day itself led me to modify the recipe as per convenience. The cake turned out super soft and moist and we loved it.
Apple Nut Muffin Cake
Recipe – tweaked from Divya Kudua’s Easy Cooking


Milk – ½ cup
Apple Cider – 1 cup (I used Appy)
Egg – 1, large
Rose extract – 1 tsp (Vanilla extract can be used, I had ran out of it so used rose)
Unsalted butter – 1 stick/8 tbsp/½ cup/100gms, softened
Flour – 1 ¾ cups
Sugar – ¾ cup
Baking powder – 1 tbsp
Baking soda – ½ tsp
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Oats – ¾ cup
Almonds – ½ cup,chopped

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. Use an 8-inch square pan, buttered and floured. (I used a flower shaped pan).

2. Whisk together milk, cider, egg, rose extract and butter in small bowl.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cardamom, oats and salt to combine thoroughly.
4. Switch to a large rubber spatula and stir in the liquid ingredients, stirring just until everything is moistened–as with muffins, less mixing is better than more. Gently stir in the almonds (keep some aside for garnishing the top and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for a couple of minutes before running a knife around the sides of the pan and unmolding the cake; invert and cool until warm or to room temperature.

Masala Dosa

Lazily lying on my bed, I could hear the rhythmic whistles of pressure cooker boiling potatoes. Chutney being grounded in the mixie added melody. My lazy ass shot up from the bed out of excitement coz it was ‘Masala Dosa’ today! Amma would juggle between two Dosa tawas coz she had to keep up with the pace at which they were being consumed. Yet she could hear arguments on whose plate the next Dosa should land up. Poor her was blamed each time for being exhibiting favoritism! She would say I think I must upgrade to another two Dosa Tawas to satisfy you people…
Masala Dosa is undisputedly the King of all Dosas. Don’t you agree? And I regret to have introduced my Bong family to Masala Dosa first. Now they demand for Bhaji and Chutney with any other Dosa that I prepare. My Amma used to make dry chutney which she smeared on the Dosa before adding Bhaji, but Bongs like the Coconut Chutney to be served as a side… So I make a liquid version of chutney that is tempered.
Well here is my version of Masala Dosa:
Green Chutney:
Grind together the following ingredient with water as per required consistency
Coconut grated – ½ cup
Green chillies – 7-8 or as per spice tolerance
Tamarind – marble sized ball
Ginger – ½” piece
Salt to taste
Temper the chutney with Coconut oil (1tbsp) + mustard seeds (1/2 tsp) + red chillies (1 or 2) + Curry leaves (10-12 sprigs)
Potato bhaji:
Potatoes – 4-5, medium sized, boiled, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
Onion – 3, medium sized, but into cubes
Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – ¼ tsp
Green chillies – 3-4 or as per spice tolerance, slit
Curry leaves – 10-15 sprigs
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – handful, finely chopped
  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they start spluttering add slit green chillies and stir till they change colour.
  2. Add curry leaves and turmeric powder and combine.
  3. Add chopped onion and sauté till they turn translucent.
  4. Add potato cubes, salt and ½ cup of water and combine well. Cook till the onion and potatoes are blended well together.
  5. Switch off the flame and add lemon juice and coriander leaves on top. Mix well.
Dosa batter:
Soak together for 5-6 hours
Boiled Rice / Idli Rice – 1 cup
Raw Rice – 1 cup
Black gram Lentil / Urad Dal – ¾ cup
Fenugreek seeds / Methi – ¼ tsp
Grind to smooth paste with little water and keep aside for overnight. (Not in refrigerator)
Next morning, add salt as per taste and water as per required consistency. (Make a small dosa initially to check the salt, also you would if you need to add more water if the batter is not spreading properly.)
Making Dosa:
  1. Heat Dosa Tawa by sprinkling few drops of oil.
  2. Once the Tawa is piping hot, take a ladle of dosa batter, pour it in the centre and spread it in a circular motion uniformly. (This comes with practice)
  3. Drizzle some more oil, reduce flame to sim, cover with lid. After a minute remove the lid, increase the flame. Once the Dosa is fried as desired, add Bhaji in the centre, fold it and serve with Chutney