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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jawl - Bhaat

Steamed Rice soaked in Cold Water, with Lemon and Fritters

        This is a summer delight! "jawl" means water. "Bhat" means cooked rice. So, literally, it is 'water-rice'.

Jawl-Bhat ("Water Rice"?!!)
          Indian Summer can be deadly, especially if you are outside under the scorching sun for a long time. Even indoors it is not really comfortable. Our entire house is not air-conditioned. We have ceilings fans and we have comforting food! Jawl-Bhat is one example!

To make Jawl-Bhat. I cook steamed rice, drain the starch and then, leave it to cool. Then I add cold water and salt and squeeze a lemon to it and mix everything well. Usually a green chili is eaten with it, too, which I can do without. (My taste buds are rather d-e-l-i-c-a-t-e!)
          Common side dished to go with this are thinly cut and fried potato, lentil fritters and / or onion fritters. You can check my posts for recipes of fritters.

Onion Fritter:-

Cabbage Fritter:-
       
Plantain Balls:-
http://kayhavingfeasts.blogspot.in/2011/07/kanchkolar-kofta-curry.html

Jawl Bhat and Peaji and Lalshak (red leafy vegetable)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Stuffed Baby Aubergines (Bharali Vangi)

 Bharali Vangi (Stuffed Baby Aubergines): A Marathi Delicacy

           As I visited Mumbai about a month ago, I asked a friend there to recommend authentic Marathi(of the Indian state of Maharastra) vegetarian dishes. He did recommend this as we met, Bharali Vangi, and ordered many more famous Marathi dishes and did not let us pay, not even share the cost! 
           In Mumbai we had it with Bajri Roti ( handmade thin flat bread of millet) and I liked it very much. So, after my returned I searched for the recipe and watched a few videos on YouTube in order to learn how to prepare it. This is my first try.
Bharali Vangi
             "Vangi" means aubergine. "Bharali" literally means ''filled" i.e. stuffed. But believe me, the preparation is NOT simple.

Goda Masala

          This is a unique spice blend of stone flower, nagkeshar (mesua ferrea) coriander seeds, dry coconut, white sesame seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric, bay leaf,  cloves, and cotton seed oil, originally from the state of Maharashtra, in the western part of India different. The ingredients may slightly differ depending on different regions. 

M-- , who helps me learning Marathi language, gave this to me a few days ago as we met up to take a late afternoon walk in the British built part of Central Kolkata, where footpaths are wide and empty and clean, the areas are green and grand colonial buildings, some are of red bricks, proudly stand, and statues remind us the glorious sacrifices of our freedom fighters. It was a very rainy day, much to our relief. The sky was overcast and it was dark already in the late afternoon.  




          I was late to reach Esplanade where M-- was waiting for me. She felt sleepy and bought hot tea in a mud cup as I finally appeared before her. The first thing she did was dragging the Goda Masala packet out of her cotton fabric bag. She brought it for me from Mumbai. "Goda" means ''sweet". What do we say in Marathi when we meet a child? -- 'kiti god!' (with the 't' dental and the 'd', retroflex, literally, meaning "how sweet!"). Assuming the spice would taste something near sweet relying on this linguistic evidence, I, impatient with my curiosity, over-enthusiastically scooped out one teaspoon of Goda Masala as soon as I cut open the packet today and poured it into my mouth! And... uuuhhh.... no! I know... you are laughing LOUD at me now!

The Stuffing

The Ingredients of The Stuffing, and The Seasonin
         I chopped a medium sized onion, a large tomato, two small green chilies and a few cloves of garlic. I also chopped a small coconut. I sauteed all these in ground nut oil. I roasted about 75 grams of sesame seed and 50 grams of roasted ground nut that I ground coarsely. I also chopped half of a small onion thinly for seasoning which consists of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and a small green chilli, too. In the photo below you can see clockwise the tomato-onion-garlic-chilli mixed in the blender, sauteed coconut, the goda masala packet, roasted sesame seeds and coarsely ground ground nut in the tiny bowl.I blended all the ingredients in the photo above and the result is the paste below:
The Stuffing Ready
         Then I cut the aubergines (about 350 grams) as shown in the photo below. It is important to make sure that the head of the aubergine is intact. Then I stuffed  with the paste above. The second picture below shows the baby aubergines ready to get cooked. Don't they look beautiful? 

           Now I heated a little ground nut oil, added the seasoning and then the aubergines, let them cook for a little while and changed the sides slowly and carefully. I added now the paste left after stuffing, stirred very cautiously and cover the pan and let it cook for about 20 minutes. 
              I had it with steamed rice this time. But it goes very well with roti.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Delicious Loofah

Sponge Gourd with Nigella Seasoning



This is another quick recipe.
This is also very similar to my ridge gourd dish posted earlier.
Sponge Gourd
This is about 500 gm sponge gourd. If you want to have it as your main vegetable, you must buy more because the volume reduces considerably after cooking. This was only a side dish for two of us.

I rubbed the sharp side of the knife on its skin and the upper layer of the skin was off. 

Then I cut them into very thin slices.


Just like I did with the ridge gourds, now also I heated oil, added nigella seeds and sliced green chilies into it and then added the vegetable into it, added turmeric powder, stirred well to mix it, let it cook for a few minutes with occasional stirring and then added salt and let it cook till totally done by covering it. It there is a lot of juice even  after the vegetable is thoroughly cooked, let it cook unless the liquid dries without the cover. During this you have watch and stir occasionally to make sure it does not get burnt.

I had it with thin roti.

The Loofah 

Sponge Gourd, luffa aegyptiaca, eaten only when unripe, green and small, is not really a very popular vegetable and we won't cook it for our guests or for a feast. I belong to a community notoriously non-vegetarian in the otherwise lacto-vegetarian India and offering only green vegetable dishes to guests is quite uncommon. Our popular plant-based dishes are spicy green jackfruit curry or stuffed vegetables or pointed- or ridge gourd prepared with poppy seed paste along with at least one and usually more non-veg dishes. Sponge gourd is very commonly left in the plant to ripen and then get so dry that the hardened brown skin can easily be taken off and inside the pulpy part is dried out and vanished and only the very fibrous natural loofah inside is left.  But after becoming vegan, I try cooking more and more vegetables which we are very lucky to have easily available in our country.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fascinating Food in a Fascinating City 2 -- Street food and A Heritage Walk

         Our First Day in Mumbai

          Mumbai is strikingly similar to Kolkata in many ways, also in its food culture. In Mumbai too, food is available everywhere almost always and the price is reasonable. I noticed local people thronging street side food stalls for snacks which are mostly deep fried food items. The most popular, as per my perception, is definitely Vada Pav. Samosa and other fritters with pav are also very popular. And you will always spot a small crowd near the pani puri vendors.
          As soon as we landed in Mumbai, we started eating. We started very early from Bangalore, long before sunrise, when it was still dark and the city was still fast asleep because we had to catch an early morning flight. We were hungry by the time we got out of the airport after collecting baggage and refreshing ourselves a bit.
          Right in front of the departure gate of the domestic terminus there is a food court. During our previous visit we had food there which in my opinion was overpriced. Luckily I discovered that there was a canteen run by the airport employees union and we inquired if we could also buy food from there. This canteen was less costly than the food court. This time we had breakfast there. That's how my Mumbai food experience started.

Huge Dhosa at the Canteen of Airport Employees Union
          Dhosa is a pancake made of farmented batter of a type of rice and Urad dal (split black gram). It is originally from southern India but it is immensely popular all over India and even abroad. It can be of various types depending on the ingredients and region. We had masala dhosa; in this context "masala" means the stuffing of the dhosa which is mainly boiled and mashed potato seasoned mainly with mustard seeds.

           Interestingly there I discovered something else, too, a translation of a quotation by Rabindranath Tagore which says that work and rest are inseparable like the eye and eyelid:
           It is relevant and significant to have such words on the wall of an employee union's canteen since not always all employers remember it. And an overworked employee cannot be the most productive one, neither the most motivated one. A good work culture ensures that work life does not engulf personal life and that the workers are not exhausted. There are countries in the developed world where a manager cannot make a team member work beyond certain hours.
          After reaching our hotel, we had our much needed rest, a delicious slumber. Refreshed in the evening, we took a stroll in the neighbourhood. Our hotel was in Fort, a heritage area of Mumbai and so, we had a lot to see within the walking distance.
          Very close was a Persian agiary and within a short distance another. Out of respect, we did not click photos and of course, we saw the buildings from outside only.
          We walked along Dadabhai Nauroji Road and at the southern end on Hutatma Chowk (Martyrs' Square) stood the beautiful Flora Fountain.

 Our country is huge and full of great diversity and how little we know about each other! Before this visit I knew nothing about this fatal struggle of Marathi people leading to the creation of today's Maharastra state. In 1960,  here 105 members of United Maharashtra Committee were killed as police opened fire on their peaceful demonstration.

The Martyrs' Memorial Statue at Hutatma Chowk, Mumbai
At Hutatma Chowk on the other side of the road I had my first Vada Pav and made Mom have one, too!
Vada Pav
Vada Pav is a popular totally plant based Maharashtrian fast food. It is actually a big round potato fritter put inside a small loaf of bread slit open and spread in the middle with red hot spicy and a little tangy dry chutney (or thick paste like chutney, as we had it in Khandala). It may sound humble and may cost only 12 INR but it is really tasty and fun. It is a must have. Many times on the internet I have noticed that Vada Pav called "the Indian Burger". Why do we always have to compare our own cutural elements with Europe and rename it accordingly? For a change, how about calling a burger "the American non-veg Vada Pav"?

Then we walked till Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station which is a grand example of colonial architecture. It was originally named as Victoria Terminus.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
Just opposite was the building of BMC (Bombay Municipal Corporation, though I like the Marathi name "Brihanmumbai  Nagarpali ka" ) head quarter.

In this area beautiful old buildings are everywhere and the footpaths are wide and there are lot of trees, too. Compared to the centre of an Indian metropolis, it was relatively less crowded and calm; or do I feel so because I'm from one of the most populated cities of the wold?
There was a bus terminus adjacent to the gorgeous CST station where we took but to reach Gateway of India.
Boats on Arabian Sea, from Gateway of India, Mumbai
We spent the evening there till about 20:15 p.m. It was dark then and we set off for our temporary Mumbai-home and on the way I enjoyed my second Vada Pav and this time I spared Mom!



         

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cauliflower Curry

Alu-Phulkopir Torkari: Traditional Bengali Cauliflower Dish

       Cauliflower is mainly our winter vegetable. Nowadays, though, thanks to technology, we can find at least some small cauliflowers here and there in the market throughout the year. Of course, the off-season products are very costly. I cooked this dish a few months earlier but could not have the opportunity to post it. Cauliflower is one of my most favourite vegetables and I cook this dish quite often.
       I cut the potatoes into small and the flower in comparatively bigger pieces. The quantity of potato is much less than the flower and you can even prepare this dish without potato. I heat oil ( this time I used mustard oil) till the smoking point and sautee the potatoes and keep them at one side. I add the seasoning cumin seeds and chopped green chili to the oil and then add the cauliflower pieces. I stir and let it cook and after a while add cumin powder and turmeric powder and stir a few more times to mix everything. I cover it now and let it cook for a while on low flame, but not for long to make sure that it does not get burnt because I do not add water at this point. Now I add a little very thinly sliced tomato, usually a half of one big tomato if I cook a small flower and fresh green peas (we almost never use frozen peas), stir a little and now add water. I let it cook by covering the pot till everything is done and then add salt ( and ideally a little sugar which I didn't use), mix well and let it cook for may be one minute.
        I like it with thick gravy. If you prepare it often, you can guess how much water to add and when and how often you must start. I had it with steamed rice but it also goes very well with Roti or Luchi
Cauliflower and Potato Curry


Before Adding Water

Rigde Gourd With Potato and Nigella Seasoning

Jhinge Alu Kalo Jire Kancha Lonka Phorhon Diye

         This is a traditional, simple and quick recipe and totally vegan. We peel the ridge gourd and potato and cut them into small pieces. Then we heat up oil, (mustard oil traditionally but rice bran oil this time). We add nigella seeds and sliced fresh green chillies and add the vegetables and stir well. WE let it cook for a few minutes and stir as required. Then we add turmeric powder and stir and mix well. Then we cover it and lower the flame and let it cook. We don't need to add water since juice comes out of the gourd. 
         After the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, we add salt and we do not add sugar though traditionally at least a pinch of sugar is added to every dish.
          We mix the salt well and let it cook a little more especially a lot of juice is still there because we eat this with lentil soup and rice and we don't want it watery.

One can also take a little more time and after heating the oil, sautee the potato cubesm keep them separate and then after adding the seasoning add the gourd pieces and sautee well adding cumin powder in addition to turmeric powder. But I like it simple, and more importantly, quick.

Ridge Gourd, whole

Fascinating Food in a Fascinating City 1 -- at Dadar on Friday

     Ten years ago during my short stay in Pune, Maharastra, I didn't get much opportunity to taste Maharastrian delicacies. I was a student, poor, almost monolingual as far as speaking skill was concerned, and disgustingly shy and timid. My only Maharasteian food experiences were once an invitation to have a home-cooked meal from my ex-colleague and some from a dozen of the famous Puranpoli (a kind of thin sweet flat-bread) prepared at home as a gift for my European roommate by a street vendor whose tea-stall my flatmates frequented. So, when we were invited to have dinner by a Mumbaikar in Mumbai, I expressed the wish to test dishes that are typically and famously Maharastrian. And thanks to our host, we had a very memorable food experience.

ALu Vadi

I don't think any community other than Maharastrians makes this wonderful snack.
ALu is taro leaf. ALuvadi can be translated as taro leaf roll or the fritter of rolled taro leaves.

ALu Vadi

I had ALuvadi for the first time whem I visited Pune on the occassion of my ex-roommates wedding! Her Mom herself prepared ALuwadi for us.
After my return from Mumbai I have checked many blogs and read how these are made. Now I have to prepare them myself! This is my most favourite Marathi snack.

Kothimbir Vadi

This was a new experience. This one is basically a fritter of coriander leaves and chick pea flower.

Kothimbir Vadi with Coriander Chutney

Bharali Vangi with soft Roti of Bajri

I was so engaged in eating that I forgot to take photos. Vangi is eggplant. As the name implies, it is a stuffed eggplant dish of baby eggplants. Goda masala is used in this dish. My friend M_ introduced goda masala to me. She is going get me some, too. After that I will cook bharali vangi myself.
At home we usually eat rice for every meal. We are originally from East Bengal, now in Bangladesh. The people originally hailing from "western" part of undivided Bengal, regularly eat roti of atta (unrefined wheat flour") for dinner. So, roti from Bajri was something new for me. And I never knew that roti from Bajri atta could be so soft.

PaNas Biryani

PaNas is jackfruit. Green or unripe jackfruit is popular in many parts of India and the main ingredient of many famous vegetarian delicacies. It is called "mutton for the vegetarians".
This jackfruit biryani, though not a traditional Marathi dish ( that's what M_ said), was an excellent adaptation of the traditional non-veg item. We finished it before I remembered to take out my camera again.

Aam Ras

We ate on. The traditional Marathi Aamras (mango pulp) followed.

All these culinary delights were served to us by the Restaurant Gypsy at Dadar and chosen from their menu by our host whose taste, I must say, was excellent.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Potato-Rose

Savory Roses!

I have seen my vegan friends posting apple roses artistically prepared bycthemselves. I found them awesome always, and even though I am not fond of sweet dishes, I researched on it a little. I found the recipe in the internet and method on youtube. But instead of sweet, I decided to make it salty, and instead of apples, I used potato and here is the result. It can be an excellent party food!

Potato Roses


Roses Before Cooking
Roses Frying


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sabudana Khichdi

Popular Breakfast Dish of Tapioca Root Globules

         Sabudana Khichdi is my favourite Maharashtrian dish. It is very easy and quick to cook, too. Other Maharashtrian dishes I love are Sabudada Vada (Tapioca globule fritter) and ALuvadi (Taro leaf fritter) which I have not yet learnt to prepare. 
         This is my first attempt to make Sabudana Khichdi, a popular breakfast dish or a dish typical to break fast with, literally after a long day of fasting. I didn't find bigger globules in the the shops in my locality but I so felt like having this khichdi that I decided not to wait. I soaked the tiny pearls of sabu that we had at home for about two hours. In the meantime I boiled potato in the pressure cooker.I made sure that the potato did not cook two soft. I peeled the boiled potato (after it cooled down, of course) and cut into small cubes. I already had some roasted ground nuts ready, I just rubbed the peels off. 
         I used ground nut oil to cook this. I heated some oil and added chopped green chillies and whole cumin seeds. Unfortunately, I didn't have curry leaves. It is an essential ingredient in fact. I added the potato, sauteed it, added salt and red chili powder, stirred to mix every thing well and let it cook for a while. Since the potato was boiled already, it didn't take much time and the potato cubes started turning golden soon. I added the nuts and mixed everything thoroughly. Traditionally, roughly crushed ground nut is also added which I did not use. Last went in the sabu globules. I kept stirring carefully so that the sabu doesn't form lumps and also everything mixes well. It was ready to serve in a few minutes. It was our evening snack. Usually Sabudana Khichdi is served at breakfast but nowadays I don't have breakfast but I sleep the morning away! I must change this habit!


Alu-Uchchhe Bhaja

Uchchhe - a Type of Bitter Gourd

             Bitter gourd is commonly translated as Karela (Hindi) / Karala (Bengali, pronounced: kaw-ro-laa) but "uchchhe" is a much smaller and a little round as you can see in the picture below. 
Uchchhe Fresh from Market
      It is quite common in Bengal but I'm not sure if it is much available in other parts of India. Most commonly we shallow fry thinly chopped Uchchhe or boil it whole along with rice when we cook steamed rice.

Potato and Bitter Gourd Sauteed Together Ready to Serve
          To make this dish, we chop the vegetables thinly but not too thin. We heat oil and add "panch forhon", a seasoning consisting of five types of seeds (panch [a nasalised and n not pronounced] = five, and phorhon = seasoning in this context). We add the vegetables and add turmeric powder and stir and mix. We cover the lid and lower the flame and let it cook. Since we cook it this way, covering it on a low flame, we do not need to add a lot of oil. We cook it till tender. We need to check and stir in between. But if you cook regularly you know when to check. When it is almost done we add salt and mix it well and cover it again till done. It is served with steamed rice.
        Traditionally our meals start with something bitter and end with sweets though nowadays we eat neither sweets nor something bitter everyday. But if you cook Uchchhe, you have to eat it first, before putting anything else into your mouth.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Taler bora: Sweet Fritter from Ripe Sugar Palm Fruit

Taler Bora -- Sweet Fritter from Ripe Sugar Palm Fruit

Palmyra palm or sugar palm (Borassus flabellifer), is very common in our region and we make a delicious fragrant sweet dish from the ripened sugar palm fruit. We can call it sugar palm sweet fritter. My mother makes it every season and we help her.
We remove the outer black husk and get this. These are the fibrous kernels of the ripe fruit.

We rub this on a grater and this fragrant yellowish pulpy substance comes out. 


We add sugar or jaggery (non-centrifugal cane sugar from sugar cane or palm sap) and ripe and soft banana into it. Adding banana is optional and it has to be much less in quantity compared to “tal”. (You can also add grated coconut.) Then everything is mixed very well. Now this mixture is too soft to give it a shape. So, rice powder is slowly added and mixed until we get the required thickness. It is also quite common to add refined wheat flour (Maida) but my mother and grand-mother prefer rice powder to it.
Then we make flat and round shapes by hand and deep fry. You can also shape it like round balls. To fry, we usually use sun flower oil. 

Traditionally, Atap rice used to be soaked and then ground using “shil-norha” at home. "Shil - norha" are basically a set of grinding stones very similar to mortar and pestle. "Shil" is bigger, flat and not moved. The spices, or rice in this case, are placed on it and ground moving the "norha" on it, sprinkling water every now and then. The result is a thick paste. “Atap” is a Sanskrit word that means “sun (sunrays/sunlight)” or “heat”. We get “atap” rice by husking sun-dried paddy.  Nowadays we buy ready made rice powder from local shops. We eat less rice/ rice items nowadays and we no longer stock Atap rice at home. We still have shil-norha but it is rarely used. Mixer-grinder is the more efficient replacement for our generation. 

Taler bora is a must-have for the Hindu religious festival of “Janmashtami”, the birthday of God Krishna, celebrated in the month of Bhadra ( pronounced “bhaadro) of Bengali calendar.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Trying Raw Vegan

Salad, Without Dressing!

They said if you eat plant based, you will lose weight! Well, not me! I am a happy fat vegan! I am a master of fritters! I believe food is the biggest pleasure of life (and that is why I have named my blog "Total Foodgasm"!). I never lose weight! Ha ha ha! Who cares! But sometimes this happy fat vegan tries healthier food! Some of my family members eat chicken once in a while but they, also, love raw green vegetables.
So, sometimes, a big plate of mixed vegetables adorn our lunch table.

Just like they acquire loan words from each other's languages as two communities/races come close or interact for various reasons, e.g. political, business etc., they also learn from each other's food culture. But it is interesting how local flavours, ingredients and  food habits modify the original food and customize that for the local taste buds. "Salad" is a Russian loan word in our language but the salad that is available everywhere here has nothing to do with Russian salad; neither it is in any way similar to any type of salads we usually have in other parts of Europe. At every popular street snack stalls in Kolkata, you will get "salad" with your orderd food which is most commonly shredded cucumber and onion mixed together with or without some Kasundi, an age old popular mustard sauce. But, yes, day by day, variety is increasing and more and more shredded carrot and beetroot ate creeping into this "salad"!At home we always had thinly sliced cucumber, tomato and onion neatly placed on a plate. And if you asked for sauce, most commonly you will be served tomato ketchup. Or, I should rather say, if you want some ketchup, ask for tomato sauce. In most food joints you will also find, chilli sauce. 


My personal intention of not adding a dressing is to keep the salad lighter, of less calorie because I can't give up my fritters!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Soy-Nuggets Curry



I turn green with envy whenever I catch a glimpse of the variety of transition foods available to my vegan friends abroad. They have vegan cheese, tofurky (i.e vegan turkey), other vegan meats and even vegan fish. I have nothing!!! Not fair! Especially when it is not easy to become a vegan in India! Vegetarianism is common here but Veganism? What is it? Many people don’t even have the word in their lexicon.
I come from a piscetarian community. So, I never had meat as a part and parcel of my regular meals, unlike my friends in the West! And the only meat we sometimes ate at home was chicken. Therefore, giving up meat totally never seemed to me to be a difficult goal. But yes, like everybody else, I sometimes had a craving for non-veg food, though not very often. Soy nugget is the only plant based food, as per my knowledge, that has a meat like texture!
I do not know if soy nuggets are available in Europe or in North America but here it is pretty common.  I can buy them in cardboard cartons in every supermarket or at every local shop and with them, quite often, I make a spicy curry. Below is how I usually do it.
I soak the nuggets in very hot water for about 10 minutes. I add a little salt to that water, too but that is optional. I nuggets become soft and spongy and bigger.
As I let the nuggets stand in the hot water, I skin potatoes and cut them into big pieces, sautee them and keep them aside. I usually use sunflower oil to cook this. If you use mustard oil, it is mandatory to heat the oil up till its smoking point to get rid of the smell. I drain the water very carefully, as much as possible and then add them to the remaining oil and continuously stir and sautee. Soon I add some cumin seeds, two bay leaves, chopped green chili, finely chopped onion, a little turmeric powder, and a little cumin powder. I usually do not use red chilli powder but you can do, if you want it hot and spicy. And black pepper powder, too! “Some like it hot”! (Since the spongy nuggets are quick to soak the oil, you may skip sautéing them but I love oily preparations, especially when at home.) Then I add ginger- and onion paste and stir and mix everything well. It is important that the onion gets cooked very well! After that I add tomato puree and again stir and mix well. Then the potato and water has to be added. If you do not sautee the nuggets, you need to add them as the water starts boiling. Let everything cook for a few minutes. Depending on how thick the gravy you want, you can determine how long you should let it cook. You can also sprinkle some garam masala powder towards the end.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

Peajkoli

I am back to writing. I was busy for quite some time with two language courses. I passed my Russian exam with a pyateorka i.e. band 5, the highest band in the Russian evaluation system, which was not easy and I am continuing learning with the final exam ahead in a few months. In addition, I'm brushing up my German and also preparing for a difficult English language test to check whether I have native-like proficiency! So, I have enough on my plate, no doubt! Does that mean, that I didn't have time to cook and my "plate" in its literal sense, was not so full? Not at all! Whatever happens, I make sure that there is foodgasm in my life!
In this post I am going to introduce "Peajkoli", one of my favourite winter vegetables. "Peaj", pronounced with the 'e' nasalised, means onion and "koli" literally means "bud"! Here is how they look like:



I cut these into small pieces, about an inch long or a little shorter, and add potato cut in small cubes, as you can see in the picture and sautee in a little mustard oil. It is fine to use rice bran- or sun flower- or ground nut oil. But if you cook it in mustard oil, don't forget to to heat the oil up till its smoking point to get rid of the odour.
Here is the finished product to go with dal ( red lentil soup) and steamed rice:



My First Slider

In Kolkata, food is everywhere. And it is fresh and the price is reasonable.I am actually quite proud of the street food tradition of my city. but, if we want to have burgers, some foreign multinational food chains are, as far as I know, are the only options, which are in my personal opinion, unjustifiably expensive! So, I decided to prepare mini burgers for my sister and myself.
I made the burgers with a little potato and lentil paste. It is a good idea to add soy nuggets. I I added shredded onion, chopped green chilies, salt, a little pepper to it and mixed everything very well. I made it the way I make my fritters. That means, I made round flat shapes out of it and shallow fried them well, flipping sides.
I bought the breads from a local bakery. Since, I haven't yet learnt making vegan cheese, our slider wasn't "cheesy" but that did not lessen the fun!

Being Innovative with Soups

My First Spaghetti Soup 


I feel, cooking is like painting. You can be as creative as you want. Cooking is also a great stress-buster for me!

Though it is very easy even for a typical piscetarian Bengali to shift to a plant-based diet since hundreds of traditional veg recipes  exist in our cooking culture, handed down from generations to generations, I sometimes try to experiment with continental ingredients, partly because I terribly miss continental food, and partly because nobody can give me unsolicited instructions!

I picked some spaghetti, imported from Italy. My sister brought me some herbs from Germany and I used basil here. I chopped some carrots and onions and made this soup.
First I cooked the spaghetti until half done and kept it aside.
I heated very little oil and glazed the chopped onion in it. then I added chopped carrot and some fresh peas, added salt and pepper, stirred and mixed every thing well and then added water. I let it boil till the vegetables are half done and then added the spaghetti and boiled it a little longer. I don't like the vegetables overcooked. 

I sprinkled some dry basil on it after having removed it from fire.

Nonta pithe

I was always interested in baking but unfortunately I don't have a oven. I am always on the move. I am planning to relocate again. So, I am surely not going to invest in rebuilding my current kitchen. So, I tried to fix my microwave oven. It has the option for baking. This led to a loss of money and time and effort with no positive result. Well, then let's fry these. Back to square one!
I made the dough tomato puree little by little. Besides, I added the usual ingredients of my dough i.e. salt, pepper, a little cumin powder.
I made theses shapes stuffing them with spicy potato mash. You can be creative with the the filling and add vegetables as per your taste.
I got the idea from youtube. There are many videos available where passionate cooks from all over the share their creativity.
You can also make sweet
.