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Thursday, December 20, 2012


The Famous Bengali Pan-Cake

Main ingredients:
Kheer (one can use grated coconut instead)
Sun flower oil
Important Note: In Bangla (Bengali language) "kheer" does not mean rice pudding but the thickened and sweetend cow milk. The Beangali synonym for what the rest of India calls "Kheer" is "Payes".

Soak semolina in milk for about half an hour. Mix flour and sugar very well to this mixture and make semi-liquid dough so that you can spread it over the pan. The ratio of semolina and flour should be 3::2.
I added a little cinnamon and cardamom into it. (It is Chrismas time after all!)

Put very little oil on the hot pan and spread it uniformly all over it.
Now add some dough on it and spread in a way so that it takes a circular shape. Add some kheer at one corner of it.
Then roll it. Patisapta is ready!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Luchi and Mangsho

I can't remember when I experienced luchi after I left West Bengal.
Luchi is a deep fried flatbread made of bleached wheat or maida and much more, much more than just something delicious to eat! Luchi means a puja (worship), a birthday clebration; luchi means a Sunday breakfast! When luchi is there, we know we are going to have payesh or halua and/or alur dom or mangso or alubhaja or chholar dal! Luchi is closely associated to festivity, to happy occasions! That is why I used "experience" instead of "eat" or "have".

In Germany I never prepared luchi or roti although I cooked for my friends often but always chose something I could cook fast, even though the preparation before cooking was long sometimes. Every time I had such a party, I wished if my sister could be there! So, I decided to cook chicken curry which was popular among my friends in India and abroad and luchi for dinner because my sister loves chicken and I missed luchi.

                                             Murgir Mangsho: Chicken Curry
I bought sandesh and lal doi to have at the end. We, Bengalees, love sweets and our meals must end with some sweetness: madhureNa samapayet!
                                               Lal Mishti Doi and Sandesh
Not just in our food culture, the popular luchi has its well-desereved place in our literature as well.
Who among us doesn't feel nostalgic about the popular rhyme by Mohit Ghosh: "phulko luchi phulko luchi/ pet ta phule dhak/ phulko luchi phulko luchi/ peter bhitor phank!/ "?
But not all children can enjoy luchi since their parents cannot afford it. Examples are Apu and Durga, the young protagonists of "Panther Panchali" by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, another classic of Bangla (Bengali) literature: Apu felt happy seeing luchi on his plate as he accompanied his father to his disciples' house and sad too, at the same time, since he could not share it with her sister at home. Luchi is something they seldom had.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pasta with Vegetables

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Gesztenye means "chestnut" and püré is "puree".
This is my friend's favourite dessert. Even though I do not really have a sweet tooth, I too, had it.
It was good and not too sweet.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Indian Dishes in Our Indo-Hungarian Dinner

These were my additions to our Indo-Hungarian dinner:
1) The typical Bengali egg curry. I added some peas, too. Since I did not add even a pinch of pepper or chilies  it was good for my friend.

2) The Bengali chicken curry in thick onion gravy was, on the contrary, a bit hot for her.

And here are the drinks:
These were something new for me.
It was an amazing treat for our taste buds. 
Toltott Kaposzta

  This was another amazing experience in Budapest, thanks to my friend's Mom.
She put really a lot of effort to make our weekend so tasty.
  This is Hungarian stuffed cabbage made with minced meat and rice.
Hungarian Fish Soup

                    I consider my food experience in Hungary the most remarkable to that of any other trip in Europe since I had the privilege to taste authentic home made food in Budapest. This is the fish soup my friend's mom prepared for us. She used cat fish. The use of paprika gave me an additional feeling of familiarity. I am from India, after all! And I am a Bengali. So, fish is always something I crave for. When I discovered the fish egg in the soup, I was really surprised and very happy. I immediately felt at home!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gulyasleves: Hungarian Beef soup with Vegetables and Ground Paprika

I had the opportunity to taste this dish first in Germany and then in Hungary.
When I expressed my interest to learn how to cook this, my friend recommended this recipe:

I used all the ingredients mentioned in the recipe (beef, carrot, potato, wax peppers, paprika and vegeta seasoning) except caraway seeds and parsley roots since I did not find them in the supermarket.

I cooked this for the first time today and I am very happy with end product.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

French Fish with Indian Spices

A Bengali and a Malayali and........? What next? Fish naturally! Yeah, even when in Paris!
I went to the supermarket just to check if I could manage buying a few things in French. I did that after attending 6 sessions of French for beginners; so, please do not ask me the name of the fish. And it is not important. "What's in a name?" We fried it with turmeric, red chilly powder, salt, cumin powder. Ahhh...!
It tasted out of this world!

Indian Dinner in Paris

I decided to spend the weekend with my friend in Paris. I cooked this special egg curry and the spicy shrimps for dinner and she got wine for us:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Macrobrachium rosenbergii or Indian Scampi This is called "golda chingri" in Bangla (Bengali). WE typically cook it with the large head on. This was prepared by my mother!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rich mind, rich food-culture!

We are what we eat!
A good food-culture reflects a lot about a person.
A good dish is not just the result of hard work but it involves imagination, creativity and reflects hospitality. You cannot cook well if you do not love the person you cook for. Motivation plays an important role in cooking.
A good food tradition not only reflects the richness of the agricultural tradition of a land but also how rich the mind of the people also! It reflects through not just what but also how you offer food to others, guests, for example.

In Bengal, when one pays a visit to somebody, she usually brings some sweets as a gift for the host. It is a very old and popular tradition. And sweets and tea are almost always offered to a guest, and quite often something homemade, in addition, so much so that, as I was a child, I thought this exchange of food was the main purpose of visiting neighbours and friends.

Buying or rather selling drinking water is something new to our food-culture.
On the contrary, offering drinking water to travellers, wanderers, saints, anybody tired or even beggars were traditionally an expected good deed in India.
When I was small, sometimes, tired and thirsty in the middle of playing, which was our daily activity in the late afternoon, we asked for water from some neighbour, many times we were given small pieces of sweets in addition. And the lady of the house usually said, "We don't give just water, but we must give some sweets or at least some biscuits with it." I don't know if this mentality is still alive. I have been living in different big cities for the last fifteen years, almost.
Now we can buy bottled water everywhere.

In Kerala, whereever you go, they will offer you drinking water mixed with herbs. (No, you do not have to pay for it in the restaurants.). And I remember, that my friend's Mother packed homemade rose-cookies when I was returning to Bangalore after visiting them in a remote village of Thrissur!

I love the German tradition of saying "Guten Appetit!" to each other at the beginning of a meal or even when somebody comes across somebody else eating or snacking.
When sometimes, in the early evening, I snack in the pantry, whoever comes there to prepare tea or to take water, wishes me "Guten Appetit!"

In contrast, I remember the question some people in India often asked was "Hey, You are eating now! Why? Didn't you have lunch?"
-- "Yes! I had lunch!"
-- "Then?"
-- "Then what? I had lunch five hours ago!"
-- "So?" .... and so, sometimes, unbelievable though, the conversation went on quite long.

Those who eat well, in their house you may find a good garden, too -- even if they do not have a big enough piece of land-- like this, on the roof:

----- This is a mango tree in a small roof garden that belongs to an ordinary middle-class family in a tiny town in West Bengal.

----- Healthy mango flowers on that dwarf tree! :)
And below you can see some other products of the roof garden:

They learnt it from Babylon.

Cod Egg Curry!