Sunday, August 17, 2014

Janmashtami with Bengal's favorite Tal-er Bora/Asian Palm sweet Fritters

       Today marks another important festival in Indian calender, i.e., Janmashtami, is an annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Lord Krishna. Thisfestival is celebrated throughout India in various manners. Janmaashtami or Gokulashtami, popularly known in Mumbai and Pune as Dahi Handi, is an event which involves making a human pyramid and breaking an earthen pot (handi) filled with buttermilk (dahi), which is tied at a convenient height. The topmost person of teh human pyramid tries to break the handi by hitting it with a heavy object. When the handi breaks, the buttermilk is spilled over the entire group. This event is based on the legend of the child-god Krishna stealing butter. A participant in this festival is called a govinda or govinda pathak. in my state, West Bengal and other states, devotees celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and staying up until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. Images of Krishna's infancy are placed in swings and cradles in temples and homes. The next day is called "Nanda Utsav" or the joyous celebration of Krishna's foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. On this day, people break their fast and offer various cooked sweets to Lord Krishna during the early hours, as he was very fond of sweets.

      The most important sweet without which Janmashtami is not complete in Bengal is "Tal-er bora", where tal is Asian Palm and Bora menas fritters. This Asian Palm fritters are made from fresh ripe and juicy palm fruit, which are abundant and best in taste during this month of August and September. It is believed to be said that this fritters were very favorite to Lord Krishna. That's why this fritters are amde and offered to Lord Krishna first in every home of Bengal on this auspicious day and then devoured by everyone.

    The process of making this fritters are not very easy. It is quite time consuming but the end products are something, that you cannot have enough of it once you tasted. I can guarantee that. Sugar Palm is very fibrous fruit. the process of collecting the pulp is quite tricky.

You need :
Asian Palm fruit/Tal : 1(makes about 2 cups of pulp)
Grated coconut(fresh) : 1 cup
Flour or whole wheat flour : 1 cup(approx.)
Suji/Semolina : 1/2 cup
Sugar : 3/4 cup
Vegetable oil/any white oil for deep frying the fritters

How To :
Process of taking out the pulp ::
At first, you take out the outer skin, then you can see two to three fibrous palm kernels inside it. On a hand grater, rub the kernels until all the pulp has come out. Collect it in a bowl. Follow the pics to better understand the process.

The remaining process :
  • When the pulp is collected, mixed all the other ingredients except flour, i.e., suji, coconut and sugar and mix well. Lastly, add flour as much as needed to thicken the batter. the batter should be neither too thick nor runny. See the pic for the batter consistency
  • Heat enough oil in a pan, take 1 tblsp. batter and drop slowly into the oil. Do not over crowd the oil. once you drop the batter, lower the flame and fry the fritters in medium heat, so that fritters are cooked from inside. This way, fritters will be cooked from inside and crispy from the outside.
  • When fritters are golden brown in colour, remove them on a kitchen tissue. Then serve them in room temperature. You can store them in air-tight container and keep them for few days.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quick and easy Pear Streusel Cake

I bought some juicy, ripe pears that day from market, but kids refused to eat them totally. Then it was lying on the table for 3-4 days and I was thinking and thinking what to do with them before they start to rotten. I wanted to make something that they won't realize they are eating pears. After lot of research, I decided to try out this recipe which can be made in very less time and also needs very less ingredients. I tried kind of similar recipe with apple once, Apple Crumble Pie. This recipe is little bit different and easier than Apple crumble Pie. To my surprise, kids loved the cake.

What is Streusel? 
   In baking and pastry making, Streusel is a crumbly topping made of flour, butter, and sugar that is baked on top of muffins, breads, pies, and cakes (e.g. Streuselkuchen). Some modern recipes add spices and chopped nuts, too. the origin of streusel cake is German. You can make this streusel topping on any kind of cake. The fruits can also be replaced with pineapple, apple, peach, apricots, strawberry etc. The possibilities are endless.
   The pears are used in this cake should not be too ripe nor too green or unripe. Peel and then core the middle part properly, use only the flesh. Then dice them into bite size pieces. To make this cake more healthy, I used brown sugar instead of regular sugar. Brown sugar combines with pears, cinnamon and nutmeg very well.

You need :
For the cake ::
All purpose Flour : 1 1/4 cup
Pears : 2, peeled, cored and chopped
Eggs : 2
Butter/margarine : 3 tblsp. [in room temperature]
Milk : 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar : 1 cup, powdered
Baking Powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : a pinch
Cinnamon powder : 1 tsp.
Nutmeg powder : 1 tsp.
For the crumb(streusel topping) ::
Flour : 1/2 cup
Sugar(regular white ones) : 1/3 cup
Butter : 2 tblsp.
Cinnamon powder : 1/2 tsp.(optional)

                                                                  The ingredients
How To :
  • Prepare the pears as I mentioned above. Preheat oven to 180 degreeC or 375 degreeF.
  • In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients e.g. flour, baking powder, powdered sugar and salt. Mix well together and keep aside.
  • In another bowl, mix eggs, butter and milk. This is your wet ingredients. Beat with an electric beater till smooth. Then add the dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients bowl and mix till smooth. When done with all dry ingredients, mix the chopped pears and add cinnamon powder into the bowl. Give it a mix and your batter is ready.
  • Now prepare the crumb : take all the ingredients into a bowl, just mix with your fingers until crumbs form. Keep aside.
                                                                        The crumb
  • Grease your baking pan with little butter, then pour the batter into the pan, then sprinkle the crumb allover the batter uniformly. 
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the topping gets a nice brown color and dries up. Insert a toothpick in the center, that should also come clean. Then your cake is ready.
  • Cool on wire rack and then cut into squares.

Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee, my kids had them on their breakfast, wholesome and healthy


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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pasta in Roasted Tomato, Onion & Garlic Sauce

Pasta meal is very regular at my home. My daughter, who is an exceptional pasta lover, for her I need to make pastas at least 3-4 times a day and every time she pokes me to try out something new. She says like this," Mom, you try out some new recipe today and post on your blog". Kids nowadays are so smart. So few weeks back, I tried this recipe which was on my to-try list for long time but couldn't get any time to experiment that.

  Tomato, onion and garlic, the three main ingredients slowly roasted in oven with Italian herbs and olive oil dressing and then pureed and cooked along with pastas. Doesn't it sound so yummy? It is absolute yummy at taste, off course it consume some time but all worth it after you taste the sweet at the same time tangy sauce. Once your sauce is ready, just mix it with cooked pasta and you are all set to devour.

You need ::
vegetables of your choice(optional)
Chicken(cooked) : optional [I used chicken sausages]
Oil : 1 tblsp.
Salt to taste
For roasting------
Tomato : 5-6, quartered
Onion : 2, quartered
Garlic : 10-12 cloves(big)
Fresh Thyme/oregano/Basil : a handful, finely chopped
Olive oil : 1-2 tblsp.
Salt and black pepper to taste

How To :
Preparing the roasted sauce :
  • In a big oven-proof dish, arrange cut tomatoes, onions and garlic cubes in single layer for even roasting. Do not overload the dish. Drizzle olive oil evenly over them, sprinkle finely chopped herbs(basil/oregano/thyme), season with salt and black pepper. Stir a little to mix everything well.
  • Preheat your oven to 200 degreeC/400 degreeF and roast for 60-75 minutes or until the edges of tomatoes, onions and garlics have begun to char and all the liquids have dried off. Remove from oven, cool a little and then puree the sauce in a blender.

Cooking Pasta : 
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of water. Drain and set aside when done. Heat 1tblsp. oil in a pan, stir fry the vegetables if you are adding anything, I added some bell peppers and chicken sausages. Add cooked pasta and finally add pureed sauce. Mix everything well. Season with salt and black pepper if necessary. 
  • Serve hot.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cake Lollipops or Cake pops

 This cake lollipops are so hot favorite among children in birthday parties. These lollipops can bring smile to any kids' face. I tried them for first time on my son's birthday to treat them and their school friends. They are very easy to make. yes, its true, there are some specific method to make them, if you follow them, then they are not so tough. Off course, it takes some time when you're making them in bulk(like me), as I have made for 20 kids, 2 for each. I had even no time to click them properly for my blog. The kids on my kid's school were overjoyed seeing them and devoured them so happily, I just forgot all the pain.

Actually, there are millions of varieties of cake pops recipe available, but I made the simplest one and the most tastiest one. Chocolate cake balls dunked into decadent melted chocolate and picked into a stick, i.e., Cake pops/lollipops.

You Need :
One chocolate cake(I made with eggless chocolate cake I shared few days back)
Melted butter : 2 tblsp.
Icing Sugar : 4-5 tblsp.
Dark chocolate/Milk Chocolate/White chocolate : 3-4 pcs. or as required
Some straws 
Color Sprinklers or any decoratives

One big block of Sponge/styrofoam to hold the cake pops

How To : I could not take step-by-step pics, I found one tutorial which will help you understand the process. I followed it, too : Thanks a lot,

  • 1. At first, we need to make a cake, it can be a cake of any flavour. 
  • 2. Then we have to crumble the whole cake or as much we need. Crumble the whole cake nicely without any lumps. Add melted butter and icing sugar or if you have any ready-made icing, add that now and again mix everything well. It will be a sticky dough, check if you can make small balls from the dough. if not, add some more icing sugar or ready-made icing. 
  • 3. Make as many round balls you need form the dough. Then Chill them in the refrigerator covered with a cling wrap for about 45 minutes to 1 hr. 
  • 4. While they are getting chilled, melt chocolate using double broiler. 
I took few pics, so here is one pictorial of how I made them :

  • 5. Take them out of the refrigerator. Cake balls would be quite firm. Now it's time to cover them in chocolates and decorate them. It's the most trickiest part. First, dip the straws in the melted chocolate and immediately insert them till half of the cake balls very carefully. Let them stand on a plate for 1/2 and hour to set(like pic. 9).
  • 6. When the sticks are set, pick one pops at a time and dip the whole cake balls or just the tops as I did into the chocolate. Immediately sprinkle colored sprinklers or any decoratives you are using so that the sprinklers fixes on chocolate.
  • 7. Rest the ready cake pops on styrofoam or sponge blocks if you have one or just keep inside a small glass so that chocolate can set well. You can chill them or keep in room temperature
  • 8. After the chocolate cover has set, I wrapped them individually and served the kids.

So, give your kids a pleasant surprise on their next birthday and see the shine on their eyes..........

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Lau-er khosha Charchari ( Bottle Gourd Peel Dry Dish)

Today I'll share a simple recipe but not so common. This belongs to bengali cuisine. In Bengali cuisine, we use peels from many vegetables and make a new dish which tastes just divine. Because the peels of vegetable and fruits has the most of goodness in them so no point throwing them out. Like, potato skin has far more fiber, iron, potassium and B vitamins than the flesh. It’s also rich in antioxidants. If the potato has a greenish tinge on the skin, then please discard it.Vegetable peels or skins are particularly good sources of insoluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation. The pigments in vegetable and fruits are healthful, and the peels or skins of fruits and vegetables are often the most colorful part. Colorful peels can be a concentrated source of potentially beneficial phytochemicals.

Today, I'll share a very quick and simple recipe where you can use the peel of bottle gourd. There are many such dishes with peels of vegetable, I'll try to post.

You Need :
Peel of bottle gourd : 1 cup or more, chopped (see the How To section)
Dry red Chilli : 1
Black Cumin seed : 1/2 tsp.
Green Chilli : 1 or 2
Poppy seed paste : 2 tblsp.(make into paste)
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 1 tblsp.

How To :
  • How to cut the peel : Peel bottle gourd with little flesh on, not just the peel. Then chop as you like. 
  • Cooking : First blanch the peels in boiling water with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, temper with dry red chilli and black cumin seeds. Now add the peels, saute with turmeric powder and green chillies for 2-3 minutes. Then add poppy seed paste and mix well with peels. Saute for another 2-3 minutes, check for seasoning. When peels are thoroughly cooked, remove from heat.
  • Serve hot with warm rice, tastes the best. 

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