Apr 18, 2008

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Friends ,I have had my first taste of rude anonymous comments,unfortunately it is not about my cooking or recipes but concerns my personal life.This person has so much time that he/she has created a new account under a new name(as anonymous comments are prohibited in my blog) and left an insolent ,abusive comment for me...see how important I am for this person:)I had read about these pranksters in other blogs...so was mentally prepared.I had a good laugh at the enlightening comment and I feel that people who do not have the guts to come out in the open do these cowardly acts and get immense satisfaction,basically psychos who have had a bad day at work or might be one of those guys whom I had ditched in my college days :P

My post today is lentil shepherd's pie...brown lentils with cottage cheese layered with creamy potato mixture and baked to perfection.I served steamed broccoli sauteed with olive oil and carom seeds(ajwain) with it and garlic bread which made it a perfect continental dinner with an indian touch.The recipe is adapted from my favourite Nita Mehta's continental collection.
You need:
To be pressure cooked:
1 cup brown lentils(saboot masoor)
1 tbsp oil
1" pc ginger
3 cups water
salt to taste
For filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch asofoetida(hing)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot,cut into tiny pcs
1/2 cup boiled peas
100 gm cottagecheese(paneer) crumbled
1/2 tsp soya sauce
For topping:
4 potatoes boiled,peeled,grated and mashed till smooth
2-3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup hot milk
2 tbsp cream
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste Method:
1.Pressure cook the lentils with all the other ingredients under to be pressure cooked to give 1 whistle,simmer on low heat for 12 mins.If there is any water dry on fire.
2.Add all the ingredients under topping to the mashed potatoes and mix well.
3.To prepare the filling,heat oil,add asofoetida and pepper and saute for 3-4 secs.Add the carrots and stir for 1 min.Cover and cook on low heat for 2-3 mins till soft.Add peas and salt and mix.
4.Mix salt and soya sauce to the crumbled cottage cheese and mix well.
5.Combine the cottage cheese,lentils and the cooked carrots and peas.
6.Spread this pie filling evenly at the bottom of a greased oven proof dish.

7.Cover the mixture with the potatoes,level the potatoes with a knife.Ripple or score the potato mixture with a fork in a decorative design,by making lines on the topping as shown in the picture.
8.Preheat oven to 200 deg C.Bake for 25-30 mins till the potato topping turns golden.Serve hot.

Apr 15, 2008

Entries for RCI Bengal

West Bengal is one of the Eastern states of India, the land of Ramakrishna Paramahansa,Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore,Amartya Sen...the list is endless, a state rich in cultural heritage, state teeming with people who are literary intellectuals, sports lovers, a place where India's quest for freedom began, a place which gave birth to number of modern movements in literature, painting, theatre, cinema, politics.

I always had this strange fascination for speaking bangla whenI was a kid as I found the language too sweet:)As I grew up I had lots of bengali friends and I made sure I talked to them in Bangla.Lady luck endowed her choicest blessings on me when I got married to Biplab, though he belonged to an oriya family but were settled in Bengal since generations.My joy knew no bounds when I found out that the whole household not only spoke bangla at home but the style of living, cooking,customs and traditions was a lot like bengalis.Since then it has been a beautiful experience learning and getting accustomed to bangla ranna and traditions....my dream come true:)

West bengal not only shares borders with Orissa but has cultural ,linguistic and culinary similarities too.The culinary similarities are the ingredients , the style of cooking , the same recipes with a little twist here and there.The common ingredients in cooking being Sorshe tel( mustard oil),paanch phoron( five spice mix),Poshto baata(poppyseed paste),Sorshe baata(mustard paste),extensive use of fish and prawns with different kinds of veggies and the different kinds of drool worthy sweet dishes which are unique to only these two states.My mom inlaw is an amazing cook and the credit goes to her in teaching me a few of the bengali dishes.

My entries for RCI Bengal hosted By Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cook Book are Rui aloo phulkopi(carp fish cooked with cauliflower potao and peas),Moog Dal(split green gram cooked and tempered with cumin,bayleaf and red chillies) and Nikhuti Payesh(Cottage cheese Oblongs deep fried and served dipped in flavoured condensed milk.

Rui aloo phulkopi:
5-6 pcs of Carpor rui mach (normally red snapper or bhetki is used for this curry)
2 potatoes diced
1/4 cup green peas
1 small cauliflower cut into medium florets
1 large onion..ground to a paste
1 tomato diced or pureed
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp whole garam masala( 2 green cardamoms,2 -3 cloves,1"stick cinnamon)2-3 Bay leaves
1 tsp coriander pwdr,1 tsp garam masala,1/2 tsp cumin pwdr,1 tsp turmeric,1 tsp chilli pwdr
salt to aste
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp mustard oil
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 green chilli
1.Marinate the fish with turmeric(1/2 tsp),salt ,chilli pwdr( apinch) and lemon juice for 15- 20 mins.Shallow fry with 2 tbsp mustard oil till light brown.
2.Fry cauliflower and potatoes till half cooked,keep aside.
3.In the same pan add the rest of the oil add the sugar, caramelise on low heat, add the bay leaves and whole garam masala .
4. Add the onion and ginger paste ,fry till slightly brown.
5.Add all the masalas or spices except garam masala with little water and add with the tomatoes to the frying paste.Fry until the oil seperates from the masala.
6.Add the fried cauliflower and potatoes and1 cup water and salt.Cook covered for 10 mins or till the veggies are tender.
7.Add the fried fish and peas to the gravy and simmer for 5-8 mins.
8.Add the garam masala pwdr and garnish with coriander leaves and green chillies.
Moog Dal
  • 100 g split green gram (moog dal)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 dry chilli
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp mustard oil
  • 1.Dry fry green gram in a pan. Wash and boil the
  • fried green gram.
  • 2.Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin, dry red chilli and bay leaf.
  • 3.Saute till it splutters.
  • 4.Add boiled green gram, turmeric powder,
  • salt,sugar and water.
  • 5.Boil for a few mins.
  • 6.Add ghee and remove from heat.
  • 7.Serve with hot rice.

Nikuti Payesh:
500 gms Cottage Cheese(Channa)
1 lt milk
1 kg sugar
100gm flour
1/2 tsp soda bi carbonate
1 tsp ghee
2-3 black cardamom
4-5 sticks cinnamon
oil for deep frying
1.Knead well the cheese,flour,soda bicarb,cardamom and the ghee together.
2.Make small elongated balls out of the mixture and deep fry them till dark brown.
3.Boil the milk seperately with cinnamon and 4-5 tbsp sugar till it condenses.
4. Make a sugar syrup of one thread consistency from boiling water and the remaining sugar.
5.Immerse the fried oblong balls or nikhuties in the sugar syrup for 2 hrs.
6. Remove the balls with a strainer and dip in the boiled condensed milk.Serve after cooling.

Apr 9, 2008

Mixed dal or protein dosa

Dosa I am sure is an universal favourite, an authentic, south indian crepe or pancake which is served either plain or with a variety of delicious fillings.Its normally served with a bowl of tart sambhar and spicy chutneys.

During the initial years of my cooking experimentations I had a huge mental block for making dosas.All the processes involved like soaking,grinding,fermenting made it look like an uphill task for me.But my family's love for dosas won and today after all these years the dosa making process seems a miniscule project :)

There was a time when continuously for two months dosa was not made in my kitchen...can you guess the reason why?I forgot to soak the dal and rice every single night for two months :P can you believe this?That is when i felt the need to maintain a to-do list and started scheduling errands and tasks....that was the most productive way to complete them.This forgetfulness bug entered my mind when Mishti was few months old and I had to deal with a cluttered house, a never ending sleep deprivation,the e mails I needed to write,the phone calls I needed to return and top of that my hubby was out sailing in deep seas.I could barely remember the date or day,felt as if my brains were turning to mush,something which was entirely out of my control.During those hard times the simplicity of to- do lists made a tremendous difference in my upside down life.Oops! where is this leading to....from dosas to to-do list!

Back to those yummy crispy dosas.....this protein packed mixed dal dosa is one of my friend Chitraa's recipe who belongs to Kerala.Since the day I had it at her place it has been a regular in my kitchen too.This dosa is more or less like Adai ,the only difference is that this recipe has more rice and needs fermenting.

This mixed dal dosa goes to Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons for her Dosa mela.

You need:
1/4 cup tuvar dal or toor dal( pigeon peas)
1/4 cup urad dal(split black gram)
1/4 cup yellow moong dal(split green gram)
1/4 cup channa dal(yellow gram)
1 cup raw rice
1 cup boiled rice
5-6 black pepper
2-3 dry red chillies
a pinch hing(asofoetida)
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
1/4 cup oil or ghee(clarified butter)
salt to taste


1.Soak the dals (pulses) and rice in 2 seperate vessels for 5-6 hrs or overnight.Soak the red chillies and the whole black pepper with the dals.
2.Grind the soaked dal and rice the next day,add salt ,mix thoroughly and keep it in a warm place for 4-5 hrs so that the mixture ferments nicely.
3.Before making dosas add the asofoetida and turmeric pwdr and mix nicely. The hing or asofoetida helps in avoiding gases which normally attack because of the dals.
4. For making dosas the step by step recipe is here.
5.Serve the dosas with a chutney of your choice.
The chutneys in the plate have been adapted from the talented Sailu's kitchen.... tomato chutney and coriander curd chutney. She has a plethora of delicious Andhra delights in her blog.

Apr 6, 2008

Okras in tomato mustard gravy .... Bhendi besara khatta

I normally prepare oriya meals when there is plenty of time at hand and the meal can be savoured with leisure and nostalgic memories.Every bite transports me back in time ,the delicate flavours tingling my tastebuds and reminding me of home.There is already a list of sweets and savouries ready in my mind to be hogged once I go back home.My Bappa's (father) constant leg pulling that I come from a drought stricken land doesn't at all deter me from my voracious gorging :)
The month of march just flew past and suddenly I realised that I didn't post a single oriya recipe.So here I am with my humble dish......a simple curry devoid of any frills and fuss but amazingly tasty.Bhendi Besara Khatta is Okras cooked in mustard and tomato gravy.Besara is a genre of oriya curry where mustard paste is the main ingredient.The tomato in the gravy imparts the required sourness and that's why the term Khatta meaning sour.This is my Bappa's favourite and I grew up eating and cooking this authentic delicacy.
The other ingredient which lends an unique flavour to the curry is Pancha Phutana.....a mix of cumin ,mustard, aniseed, fenugreek and nigella seeds and which literally means five spices.Oriya and Bengali cuisine is incomplete without the ubiquitous tempering of pancha phutana or panch phoran.

 Pancha Phutana

The actual flavour of the mustard paste gets enhanced when it is grinded on a Shila Bataa ,a flattened ,pitted stone on which the spices are ground with a smaller stone.Every oriya kitchen possesses the shila bataa and each and every spice and masala is ground to perfection and that too patiently!Lot of people complain about the mustard paste turning bitter if ground in a mixer and fortunatelyI have never faced this problem though mine gets ground in a coffee grinder.
You Need:
1 pkt frozen okraas or 250 gms fresh ones
1 tomato( sour variety) or equivalent amt of tomato paste
1-2 tbsp whisked curd
3 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chillies
2-3 flakes garlic
1 tsp pancha phutana(mix of cumin,mustard,aniseed,fenugreek,nigella seeds)
5-6 curry leaves
1 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 cup water
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
salt to taste
1.Make a paste out of the mustard seeds,green chillies and garlic with little water.You can add the tomato in the mixer after the paste is half made.
2.Cut the okraas into 1" pieces.
3.Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and half cook the okra and keep it aside.
4.Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same pan and add the pancha phutana and curry leaves,add the ground paste after the tempering starts spluttering.Add the turmeric.
5.Cook the paste for 3-4 mins and then add the okras and water.Add the salt.
6.Cook the okras in the gravy till fully cooked ,lastly add the curd,give one boil and switch off the heat and garnish with coriander leaves.Serve with steamed rice.

P.S You can add more water if you want a thin consistency and remember to use a tomato of sour variety as its a sour dish.I used a tinned one,so the vinegar in it imparted a nice amount of sourness.Tomato can be put while cooking the paste if you like slushy chunks in the gravy.

Apr 3, 2008

Stuffed Chicken Minced Steak with Mushroom Sauce

When I decided to make this dish I had thought it would be extremely time consuming but the whole meal was ready within an hour... the meal comprised of chicken steak with herbed cheese filling ,doused with mushroom sauce and steamed vegetables with rice.This recipe is adapted from Nita Mehta's Non veg Continental collection.90% of cookery books that I own are of Nita Mehta and till date none of her recipes have gone wrong.I learnt Continental cooking from her books and her recipes are modified to suit Indian conditions....keeping in mind the climate,taste and most important easy availability of ingredients.Her recipes have always evoked admiration and praises in my cocktail and dinner parties and I started enjoying continental cooking with confidence.So here's a delicious and hearty meal for chicken lovers!

You need: For Mince Steaks
300 gm boneless chicken breasts or chicken mince
1/2 onion chopped very finely
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
some fresh bread crumbs(remove sides and grind 1 slice of bread in a mixer)
1tsp worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
For filling:
4-5 tbsp mozzarella Cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh parsley or 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
For Mushroom sauce:
1 tbsp butter
3-4 mushrooms finely chopped
1 and 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 cups hot water mixed with 1 stock cube( I used mushroom seasoning cube)
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp tomato sauce
pepper to taste
Method:1.Grind the chicken to a mince in a food processor for a few seconds...grind the mince if you have ready made mince .
2. Combine everything under steaks and mix well.
3.Mix all ingredients of the filling.
4. Form 6 balls from the mince mixture,flatten each ball and put a tbsp of herbed cheese and shape into a ball and flatten to form 6 steaks.Refrigerate till the time of serving.

5.To prepare the sauce,fry the mushrooms in butter until golden brown,add the flour and fry on low heat until brown.remove from heat and mix the hot water with the stock cube and add to the mushrooms.Add tomato puree and sauce. Return to fire,boil,cook stirring continuously for 3 mins or till thick.Add pepper to taste.
6.To serve heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and cook the steaks in low heat for 8-10 minutes.Keep turning sides and press the steaks occasionally so that steaks get cooked from inside and also turn brown on both the sides.Transfer the steaks to a serving platter.Pour hot mushroom sauce over them.

Accompany the steaks with steamed veggies and some rice.
I loaded the steamer with veggies and rice while I cooked the steaks and served the veggies with lemon juice ,salt and pepper sprinkled on them.

I loved the sight of herbed cheese oozing out from the steak

Mar 29, 2008

Cold Cranberry punch for MBP

I have been really busy these last few days with the coffee morning(the Indian navy ladies meetings) happening at one of my friends place as the CNS( Chief of Naval Staff) was in Moscow with his other half,the first lady of Indian Navy.When Sig extended the deadline for MBP, I heaved a sigh of relief but still submitting my entry at the last moment.
This Cranberry punch is from one of my favourites Asha's blog,Foodie's hope ...she is a great inspiration to all of us, a Super woman who wears the red 'S' all the time.....yes I do consider her that.She has a wonderful blog with mouthwatering,sumptuous recipes and has a kind word for every blogger and we all love her a lot:)

You need:
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup orange juice
2-3 strawberries hulled and sliced
1 lime thinly sliced
1 cup ginger ale or club soda
ice cubes
Combine all the juices,strawberries and lime and chill thoroughly.Just before serving add chilled ginger ale or club soda and ice cubes.Serve in a tall glass.

This goes to Sig of Live to eat who is guest hosting Monthly Blog Patrol.The event is a brainchild of Coffee of Spice cafe.

My naval friend Jaya who had hosted the coffee morning had an appetizing spread for the ladies meet and I could not stop myself from clicking pictures of the delectable fare to blog about.The NWWA(naval wives welfare association) had organized a traditional welcome for the first lady...after a long time we all ladies had draped ourselves in heavy silk sarees for the formal occasion.We all had a gala time interacting with each other and enjoyed the delicious
assortment.Jaya's pudding was somewhat like cheese cake and she had an anchor (symbol of Indian navy) made on it with pomegranates and pineapple and named it the Anchor pudding.Here are some food pictures of the event.

the table all laid out

Mar 26, 2008

Pear and Rum Souffle Omelette for WBB and AFAM

Nowadays my lunch and dinner menus are mostly based on the blog events.I had been warned by people that blogging is addictive and time consuming but no complaints ...I am enjoying every bit of it.Suddenly I discovered that there are so many facts about cooking that I am unaware of and wont forget to mention the excitement of finding a plethora of delectable delights so immaculately presented in the blogs and of course all the new faceless friends with a common passion of cooking with whom I have already started feeling connected:) Nowadays its a bliss to have my morning cup of tea logged onto Taste of India and checking out all the posts after Mishti and hubby leave for their respective destinations.
Today's post is about the entries for the fast approaching WBB -Healthy Breakfast and AFAM Pears .The common dish is Pear and rum souffle omlette where the rum is optional if you are making for children but with the rum its got a typical taste which I love.The dish is basically a well beaten sweet omelette with pears sauteed in rum as topping yummm.....the taste is divine the melt in the mouth kinds.
For Mansi of Fun and Food who is hosting WBB Balanced Breakfast this month I am sending this omelette with toast and a bowl of four cereal(wheat,oats ,barley,wholegrain rye) flakes cooked in milk and sugar and sprinkled with slivered almonds and a glass of fruit juice.I have included whole grains with milk, eggs, fruits in my breakfast , the whole grains being a source of dietary fiber,vitamins and minerals,eggs supplying the protein needed by your body and the pears which are full of strong health benefits.

This omelette also goes to Raaga of The Singing Chef who is hosting AFAM Pears this month.
Pears make good energy boosting snacks, a low calorie alternative and have vitamin C and copper which helps them to act as antioxidants.They are loaded with fiber and cancer preventing phytochemicals making them one of the best fruit choices.

For making Omelette:1 fresh pear of soft variety,peeled ,cored and sliced
2 tbsp rum
3 tsp sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp water
10 g butter
caster sugar, to finish
1. Put the sliced pears in a saucepan with 1tbsp of rum and cook over low heat for 2 mins and then stir in 2 tsp of sugar and remove from fire.
2.Seperate the eggs and whisk the yolks with rest of the sugar until creamy.Add the water and remaining rum and beat again.
3.Whisk the egg whites and fold them into the yolk mixture.
4.Pour in the mixture in a heated pan coated with butter and cook over moderate heat until the underside is golden brown.
5.Place the pan under a preheated grill to brown the top of the omelette.Spoon the pear and rum mixture over one half of the omelette and flip the other half with a palette knife.Carefully turn out onto a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar.
You can alternatively use peaches instead of pears or spread the cooked omelette with a jam of your choice and fold and sprinkle with sugar.I normally make the second variation for my daughter omitting the rum part.....saute the fruit for a minute with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
The four cereal flakes are the quick cook variety, 1/2 a cup of flakes has been cooked with 1 cup of water , 1/2 a cup milk and 1 tsp sugar for 3 minutes on medium flame and served with a sprinkling of slivered almonds.

I turned 32 last saturday (22nd) ....well I am a little insecure about growing old,don't want to let go off the present..what I consider the golden years, I dread the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of respect, the psychological torture of uselessness and burdensomeness and most of all health aspects related to ageing .I am already talking like a 50 yr old but I feel once I accept the fact that life not only has a beginning, a middle but also an end would eliminate all my insecurities.
This beautiful birthday cake was Mishti's choice and the whole day my hubby made me shop:) That made my day:)

Mar 21, 2008

A meme and Happy Holi

I had been tagged nearly a month back by Sra to write a meme and before I could write it Meera tagged me again.So finally I am gingerly taking a step forward to jot down some revelations or character assassination of my own self( I am being ridiculous,i know that) so that you get a picture of me in your mind's eye.I personally feel meme is a wonderful oppurtunity to tell friends whom you have never met who you are and let them conjure up an image of me.Meera I will surely write down a second meme but let me first do justice to my first one.

Well, I am a 31 yr old ,5 ft 6",average looking girl( thats what I consider myself,am dead scared of calling myself a lady!) with shoulder length hair,slim built and love to keep myself fit and well groomed.Nature wise I am an absolutely home and family loving person who loves to take care, organize and run the house like a perfectly well oiled machine.
My world revolves around my most prized possession....my 6 yr old daughter Mishti ,my honey bear who gave me the most magical moments of my life....the joys of motherhood ,with an unspoken promise to love her absolutely and the vow to protect her forever,don't care about the terrible twos that has gone or the teenage tantrums that comes my way.
I am married to a defence officer,a naval fighter pilot by profession ,an incredibly understanding, encouraging individual with a truckload of patience and an amazing father.His fearless,daring, never say die attitude and his gentlemanly spirit had swept me off my feet and captivates my heart.
Places I have stayed.....
1.Rourkela,the steel city of Orissa,the place where I was born and brought up,always dear to my heart.
2.Chabua air Force stn,Assam,my first place after marriage where my hubby was posted ,will always treasure those beautiful memories with the scenic,naive,untouched beauty of the land of the one horned rhinoceros.I have never seen such clear blue skies and the pure sparkling water of the winding streams.
3.Goa,planning to settle there as the laid back place is more like home now with 6 yrs of being posted there.
4.Mumbai...though a short posting but was enough for me to scour the city for my shopping expeditions:)
5.Bangalore,2 yrs and I wanted to run back to Goa,was saddened the way population and pollution is overpowering the garden city.
6.Vizag,though a small city has something very welcoming about it...has a plethora of eating joints with a crowd pleasing and appetizing menu.
7.Moscow...the awe inspiring capital...still discovering .....
Jobs I have done.....
1.Have worked as an english news reader for the rourkela TV channel f0r 4 years during my college days.My mom had persuasively urged me into it as she wanted me to be more extrovert and outgoing and that did help me to shed my inhibitions and become more camera friendly.
2.My second job was as a travel consultant...took up this job to put to use my air ticketing career skills.With my hubby sailing out constantly ,the tension of my significant half flying somewhere over the deep seas, the work pressure and my little one getting neglected kept nagging until the guilty working mother's heart couldn't take it anymore.
Foods I love...
I love all kinds of cuisines but no comparison to an authentic oriya thali that i have been brought up eating.Apart from that, chocolates makes me go weak in the knees,and then comes the ubiquitous Pani puri or the puchka or Gupchup..yes in orissa it's called gupchup.the actual joy of eating panipuri is with friends all standing with a dried palm leaf bowl surrounding the panipuri wallah and coaxing him to put more salt or chilli in the mixture and not forgetting the streak of sour tamarind water escaping from your mouth when you try to put the whole thing inside.oh what pleasure!sigh!
I have hydrophobia...noooo please don't think otherwise...I do take a bath everyday:)Just a look at the sea soothes and calms me but somewhere deep inside the fear of drowning does lurk so much that putting the head under the shower also chokes me out of breath.Well ,so now you know..I cannot swim:(
Love doing embroidery basically more of cross stitch...my creations adorn most walls of my house,specially Mishti's room.I had started making panels for her room and had embroidered her name on it two years before she was born...strange isn't it...well I was so sure I would have a daughter:)
Both my parents being science professors had always aspired for their children to become future engineers or doctors.My inclination for Shakespeare and Jane Austen never made me excel in science and I landed up as a literature student and till date the thought of not fulfilling my parents' dreams haunts me to the core.
I think I have talked a lot about myself,thanks a bunch for bearing with me and reading about me.Hope you enjoyed the meme.I would like to tag Shibani of Any one can cook,Rachel of Tangerine's kitchen,TBC of The budding cook,Dhivya of Dhivya's Kitchen.Its all up to them to accept it or not.
A very happy Holi to all of you!!


Mar 17, 2008

Kidney Bean Pasta Soup

Soups have the power to comfort. When the weather turns brisk there is nothing cozier than a big bowl of soup made with the season's harvest.A piping hot bowl of soup filled with goodness satisfies my soul.In fact mostly dinner at our place is a filling low calorie soup with a salad.It satisfies both the taste buds and the desire for optimal health.

There is no doubt that the taste of homemade soups beats out the commercial ones.But sometimes when I don't want to make a soup from scratch I do opt for convenience,I combine my own ingredients with soup from packets or tins.I add some zing to it with finely chopped or grated veggies with a sprinkling of fresh herbs and serve it with a slice of whole grain bread and lo and behold..... you have a nourishing meal that can make you feel better anytime.
My post today is an immensely satisfying vegetarian or vegan soup which I had come across while surfing the net .This spicy, tangy soup has kidney beans,pasta and veggies which makes it a full meal in itself.You can play around with the veggies and omit and substitute according to your tastes.
This spicy soup goes off as an entry for the event No Croutons Required-spicy soups started by Lisa of Lisa's kitchen and Holler Of Tinned Tomatoes.

You Need:
1cup cooked kidney beans
1cup penne or rigatoni pasta cooked al dente
1 big carrot sliced thin diagonally
1 potato peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1cup sliced green beans
1/2 cup green or red pepper chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch hing or asofoetida
1 tiny pinch cayenne
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp dried basil or fresh minced
1 tsp dried thyme or fresh minced
1/2 tsp dried marjoram or fresh minced
1 cup any spicy or zesty basil tomato sauce or can substitute bland one with cayenne,black pepper and grated ginger
salt to taste
4-6 cups water
1 tbsp grated cheese (optional)
1. Cook the pasta in salted water,drain ,rinse with cold water and keep aside.
2.Heat the oil in a pan,add hing or asofoetida then the veggies and saute for 5 mins on med/high heat.
3.Add the herbs and spices and saute briefly.
4.Add the cooked kidney beans to the veggies.If using tinned beans then drain and rinse them,then add to the veggies.
5.Bring to boil and cover and simmer the veggie and beans.
6.Then add the tomato sauce and the cooked pasta and as much more water as you like.Cook for 5-10 mins more.
7. Serve hot with grated cheese on top.
If you are using a slow cooker or crockpot put everything in the pot including the tomato sauce,add 4 cups boiling water,cover and simmer until veggies are tender i.e 1-2 hours.When the veggies are tender add pasta ,tomato sauce and salt and simmer for 15-20 mins more.


I joined the Foodie Blogroll

I finally joined the Foodie Blogroll.You can browse my right side bar template to check it out and join the community.The foodie blogroll is a huge list of links and a great oppurtunity for networking.
Don't forget to join the foodie blogroll forum! It is your place to interact with all the other members! http://www.leftoverqueen.com/forum/index.php.

Mar 13, 2008

Eggplant Parmigiana

My last post talked about spring butI can hardly see any traces of spring in the city.This morning when I woke up I was surprised to see a thick shroud of snow everywhere.Where is the sun....its ages since I have seen and felt its warm golden rays and miss the warmth of the room as the rays filter through the french windows and create those dancing shadows on the wall.There are so many amazing and wonderful things that go unnoticed in our lives,it's the small things that we sometime take for granted without giving a second thought to appreciate their presence.
The weather out here has been very unpredictable these past few days and as I was reading Sia's post and came across the term global warming the first thing that came to my mind was a documentary film in National geographic that I was watching a few days back.The documentary was on global warming and its frightening repercussions.With global warming taking its toll the worst hit country would be India they claim,according to them within a span of 200 years all the glaciers in Himalayas would melt and the Ganges would transform into a desert.With so many people relying on the Ganga for their daily requirement of water,the consequence is horrifying.
I have been having this terrible stinging sensation in my throat since last night and my sixth sense says I am going to be down with a bad bout of cough and cold.My only concern is Mishti, my little one who is bound to pick up an infection from me....and with the mom and the child both sick and hubby dear tending to us, it's utter chaos in the house.I am just not looking forward to this:(

My post today is Eggplant Parmigiana,sliced eggplants fried,layered with creamy red and white sauce and baked with a sprinkling of cheese.The recipe is again a Nita Mehta's Italian collection, I specially
prepared it to send an entry for Creative Pooja's Vow Brinjal.

Eggplants is not a great favourite in my house but this delectable version with garlic bread and a greek salad was an immensely enjoyable meal.One more brinjal dish that we relish is "Baigana Bhaja" an oriya dish ,sliced brinjals marinated in turmeric,salt and chilli pwdr and deep fried or shallow fried in mustard oil.....this tastes ultimate with puris.You can check out the recipe Here.

you need:
1 big eggplant of round,oblong variety
2 cubes cheddar cheese(i used a russian cheese )
2 tbsp grated parmesan
oil for frying
tomato sauce:
2 large tomatoes,pureed
3 flakes garlic,crushed
8-10 basil leaves,chopped
1 tsp oregano,dried
1/2 tsp chilli pwdr
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp thick cream
1 tsp olive oil
white sauce:
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion,chopped
2 cups milk
1 tbsp thick cream
salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice the eggplants and sprinkle some salt and keep aside for 15 mins.Pat dry on akitchen towel and deep fry them in oil to a light brown colour.( I shallow fried them in olive oil)
2. For the tomato sauce,heat oil and fry the onions and garlic till it slightly changes colour.Add the rest of the ingredients except the cream and boil for 10 mins till the juice from the tomatoes evaporates and turns slightly thick.Remove from fire and add cream.
3. To prepare the white sauce melt the butter,add onion and stir till light pink.Sprinkle flour and cook on low heat for 2 mins,stirring throughout.Remove from heat and gradually add milk,mix until well blended.Return to heat and keep stirring until the sauce thickens.Remove from fire,add cream ,salt and pepper and mix well.
4. To assemble,spread 1/3 of the white sauce in a baking dish.
5. Place 1/2 of the eggplant slices on it,spread tomato sauce over the eggplants,sprinkle some parmesan cheese.
6. Repeat another layer of eggplants,top with the remaining white sauce and sprinkle both the cheddar and parmesan cheese.
7.Bake for 10 mins at 200 deg C till the cheese melts.

Mar 11, 2008

Maslenitsa and Russian Blini

Last to last weekend we were invited to take part in the celebrations of one of the most celebrated Russian holidays,Maslenitsa.It is a week long festival and is based on the pagan tradition of bidding farewell to the cold and gloomy winter and welcoming the fresh and sunny spring.Russians believe that spring is a season of celebrations and festivities where the old is washed away.The first day is related to greetings,the second to singing and dancing, the third is sweet tooth's day, the fourth is the lavish day,the fifth day is when the son in-laws invite their mother in-laws for a treat,the sixth day sees the daughter in-laws inviting her in laws for a party and finally the last day is the day of forgiveness.....a day where people ask for forgiveness and forgive each other.The last day a straw doll dressed up in colourful scarves and skirts is burnt symbolizing the winter .This is an ancient tradition,dating back to before the beginning of russian orthodox church.
During these seven days the russians eat blini,a russian pancake or thin crepes which is enjoyed with honey,cream,jam or caviar.Those delightful round, warm, golden blinis represent the sun,the symbol of spring."Maslo" in russian means butter....that's why the name Maslenitsa.This festival comes just before the Lent starts which involves 40 days of intense fasting by the russian orthodox church believers.I think the weeklong spree of gorging blinis cooked with lots of butter must be giving them the strength to go on a such religious fast:)
Our visit to the Russian cultural and crafts centre started with our welcoming by beautiful russian girls and goodlooking tall men attired in colourful russian traditional clothes singing and dancing followed by our stuffing ourselves till our eyeballs with thin,baked blinies layered with cheese, mushrooms and chicken.Though outside I could not find a trace of the much awaited spring and neither taking part in the Lent preparation but still enjoyed the afternoon gorging on blinies smothered with cream.The afternoon of fun and merrymaking culminated with us buying some exquisite russian crystal and handicrafts.Just getting to know a little about an alien tradition and culture gave immense satisfaction which resonated deep inside me.

blini served with caviar and smoked salmon

chicken and mushroom layered blini

tea served in traditional lacquered cups and saucers

To make Blini you need:
1 cup flour
3 cups milk
2 eggs
salt and sugar to taste
2tbsp butter or veg oil
1/2 tsp soda
1.Mix eggs with the milk.
2.Add the flour ,sugar and salt and mix thoroughly so that no lumps remain.
3.Grease a hot pan (non stick) with oil or butter.Use a half onion stuck with a fork for greasing.
4.Pour and spread a thin layer of batter evenly.
5.Cook until light brown,about 2 mins on each side.

Blini can be served with butter, sour cream,honey,jam,black or red caviar,fillet of sturgeon or salmon.Most popular blinies are made from buckwheat flour.Good blini is very thin, the thinner the blini the perfect the skill is.


Mar 8, 2008

Corn footlong and Happy IWD

A Happy International Women's Day(IWD) to you all!!
A saying goes...."A women's place in society marks the level of civilization of that society".
March 8th is celebrated across the globe as International Women's Day.This day is a portrayal of the power of women in the modern world and their crucial role in the society.It is a day to recognize that we as women have made and continue to make a difference, it is a day to acknowledge what we women have done, are doing and can do.Do I sound like a staunch feminist?Well, I am a feminist and I am sure most of you share my feelings.
In Russia and some neighbouring countries this day is celebrated as a national holiday.All the ladies receive gifts,flowers,chocolates,kind wishes basically positive emotions are felt everywhere. The focus is on traditional chivalrous acts by men,including taking ladies out to dinner and doing the house chores.
Being in Russia right now I think I am also going to celebrate the same way and expect my hubby to do the same :P
On this day let us all join hands to celebrate all the roles we play as being women and nurture ourselves and celebrate our achievements.
My food post today is dedicated to this day and to my sis Sonali who 's b'day is today .
The Corn Footlong goes as an entry to Zorra of Kochtopf for her event International Women's day.
She beckons everybody to bake or cook something in yellow for this special day for her event.
My recipe today is Corn Footlong , corn cheese mixture spread on a halved french loaf and baked till crisp.

before baking

after baking

You need:
1 french loaf or a baguette-cut into half horizontally
2 tsp mustard paste
For Flavoured butter:
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp black pepper(crushed)
2-3 flakes garlic chopped and crushed
2 tbsp finely chopped Parsley or dried parsley
for Topping:
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cheese spread
1 cup tinned or cooked corn(kernel)
1/2 green pepper finely chopped
1/2 red pepper finely chopped
1large onion finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 tbsp mozzarella cheese grated
1 tsp oregano and red chilly flakes

1.Mix all the stuff given under flavoured butter and beat well to soften it.
2.Cut the baguette horizontally to get 2 long pcs.
3. Butter one piece with half of the flavoured butter,spread some mustard paste on it.
4.Heat 1 tbsp oil ,add onion.fry till soft.Add corn , bell peppers ,salt and pepper.Stir well to mix . Remove from fire.
5.Add cheese spread to the hot mixture and mix well.
6.Spread corn filling on the buttered footlong ,grate the cheese over it and sprinkle oregano and chilli flakes.
7.At serving time grill in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 10-12 mins or till the cheese melts and the bread turns crisp.
8.To serve cut into 1 and 1/2 " thick slices,repeat with the other pc of loaf.

Mar 4, 2008

Banana and Walnut Loaf and .....an award

Before my marriageI knew how to rustle up a basic meal,thanks to my mom who being a career woman had made sure of the fact that we know how to take care of ourselves when she wasn't available.My experience of baking cakes during those times was just limited to a plain vanilla cake made in the round oven which evoked admiration from the uncles and aunties who visited our house and gave me a sense of confidence and achievement.
When I embarked on the amazing journey of marriage ,I had the oppurtunity to learn lessons and gain areas of expertise and one of these was cooking.These ten years in the defence forces where socialising and parties, with an array of mouthwatering and appetizing spreads play an important role,where I met those incredible ladies apt at burning the candle at both the ends and I knew I had to perform to thrive here.With the passing years these cooking expeditions have become pleasurable and satisfying and the kitchen has become an integral part of me, my domain, my personal space.Baking and icing is still an area that I haven't ventured to a great deal except for the occasional cakes ,pies and tarts thatI have tried my hand at.Now that I have a nice big oven and blog friends who are experts in baking I am going to experiment with the complicated and intricate stuff.
Today I am going to post an easy ,moist and aromatic banana walnut loaf which I normally bake for my tea parties and my daughter's lunch box. This recipe is adapted from the well known chef Sanjeev Kapoor's TV show "Khana khazana".
Bananas are a rich source of vitamin c, potassium and iron and low in sodium,cholesterol and fats.Each banana is packed with minerals which are necessary for bones and great for the development of growing children.
Walnuts are a delicious way to add nutrition ,crunch and flavor to a dish.They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and help in lowering the LDL( bad cholesterol).

You need:
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 eggs
1 cup butter
2 bananas mashed
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
1 cup sugar powdered
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch nutmeg(optional)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp baking pwdr

1.Cream butter and sugar till the mixture is fluffy.
2.Sift all the dry ingredients together.
3.Add the eggs one at a time,beating well with each addition.
4. Add the mashed bananas and stir gently.
5.Now add the sifted ingredients portion by portionwith the gentle cut and fold method.
6.Lastly add the vanilla essence and walnuts and stir gently.
7.Pour the mixture into a greased and lined loaf pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 30-40 mins,or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I have been passed on the Excellent award by DK of Culinary bazaar.Thanks a lot Dk for considering me,I am overwhelmed...a second award within 4-5 days:).Isn't this an achievement?I pass on this award to these blog friends for their talent,their friendly demeanor and their excellent recipes and beautiful presentation.
Sunita of Sunita's world
Shn of Mishmash
TBC of The Budding Cook
I know you all have these awards already but it would mean a lot to me if you accept this from my side.

Feb 27, 2008

Healthy eating-Spinach and Sprouts Upma-WBB

Few days back I was going through an article in a magazine and the title loomed large" Eat well and stay slim forever".Sounds so wonderful and perfect ...isn't it?? It needs so much of will power and effort not to over indulge in artery clogging fast food and less nutritious stuff.Sometimes we just opt for convenience over quality.Our eating habits are so ingrained that we are not aware of them.Health problems like indigestion,obesity,blood pressure clogged arteries are all because of increasing stress,imbalance in our lives and an unhealthy eating pattern.In today's world individuals juggling busy schedules and convenience foods is a common occurrence.

There are times when I just ignore the smell, the look , the taste and just wolf down the food without paying any attention.I have been trying to make a conscious effort from my side not to repeat these and have dinners and weekend meals together...no watching TV, no phone calls basically a distraction free meal so that we pay attention to what we eat, eat less and enjoy more.The eat less part is definitely for me:)).

Healthy eating requires planning and effort to include variety of food in your meals and following a perfect diet plan which I have been trying my best to inculcate in my household for the benefit of my 6 yr old growing up daughter and my hubby whose profession as a fighter pilot demands it.It is crucial for a fighter pilot to be fighting fit and in an excellent heart condition to be able to withstand the high and low gravitational forces when piloting a jet at high speed. He needs to have a perfect eyesight,quick reflexes and the ability to stay cool under pressure.

For my hubby who nurtures the passion and fascination of scudding through the sky with the ability to defy gravity with a multi -million dollar piece of machinery , the patriotic fervor, the hard work he has put to make his dream come true would be emotionally tormenting if he is scooped out of the profession because of any health problems . A mere weight gain and they are ordered to stop flying till they get back to shape!! For me it's a constant challenge everyday to rustle up a healthy meal and mentally rehearse" Healthy Eating"!!:)

Well thanks to WBB-Weekend Breakfast Blogging I ended up with a really long writeup.WBB is the brainchild of Nandita of Saffron Trail and is hosted by Suganya of Tasty Palettes this month.I am sending my spinach and sprouts upma as my entry to this event.
Breakfast is the most important and energy enhancing meal of the day.Eating breakfast everyday makes a big positive difference in your health.This nutrition packed upma is a hit in my household and I am sure you all will enjoy it.

You need:
1 cup sooji( semolina)
2 cups water
1 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
5-6 curry leaves
1 green chilli chopped
a pinch hing(asofoetida)
1 cup green mung sprouts
1 cup chopped or minced spinach
1 small onion chopped
2 tomatoes (blanched and chopped)
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
salt to taste,juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Dry roast the Suji( semolina) till it becomes brown and fragrant, keep it aside.
2. In a wok heat oil,add hing ,rai green chillies and curry leaves.
3. When it starts spluttering add onion,fry till it looks transparent and then add tomatoes.Saute
for 2 mins.
4.To this add sprouts and cook for 2-3 mins.
5. Add the spinach,salt,pepper and cook for 5 more mins stirring on low heat.
6.Add water and bring to a boil.Add lemon juice.
7. Add suji,stirring continuously and cook till dry.Serve hot with ketchup or chutney.

This recipe is from Nita Mehta 's Low Fat Recipes but lot of ingredients have been added by me according to our tastes.Enjoy the healthy breakfast !!

Feb 26, 2008

Nice matters award .....for me !!

“Nice Matters Award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world.”

Hey every body I am so thrilled today!I haven't completed one month of blogging and this Nice matters award comes my way surprisingly.Thanks to the lovely Jaya @Spice and curry who has passed on this award to me and given a real hard boost.I am on top of the moon today:))

Now its my chance to pass on this award andI would like to pass this on to three of my blog friends who have been an inspiration to me .
Eskay@Bon Vivant's Chow Chronicles is a very warm and helpful girl.Thank you eskay for the constant support and the help you extended to me when I needed it the most.Eskay has a great blog with wonderful and very different recipes.
Pragyan@ Pragyan's Cooking has amazing oriya recipes which take me back to my motherland and her humble approach towards life in her writings makes me a great fan of hers.
Sra @ When The Soup Came Alive is one more person whose write ups are worth reading ...they bring a smile and lighten up your day:)
I would love to pass this on to everybody in blogosphere as the effort and the passion for cooking is so evident in their blogs.My heartfelt thanks goes to everybody who has taken out their valuable time to leave a comment in my new born blog.
Love you all.

Feb 22, 2008

Aloo Chop - a favourite oriya snack

Born and brought up in Orissa makes me an Oriya by origin and a true oriya at heart. Unfortunately most of the people I have met know Orissa because of the natural calamities and not because of the rich cultural heritage it possesses. It saddens my heart when people show their ignorance about my state saying "oh is it the same place where the cyclone happened?" It's quite depressing to know that there are lot of people in India who are unaware of the fact that Orissa is famous for its magnificent temples, for its pristine beaches and lakes, for Lord Jagannath and Rath Yatra, for its gorgeous filigiree work and lovely handloom sarees and a vibrant cuisine and.....i can go on and on :)
Now that i have let it out from my system, I would love to introduce Oriya cuisine and my motherland to all of you in my blog posts. The fresh vegetable produce in Moscow doesn't allow me to cook much of Oriya food but then once in a while I indulge my nostalgic senses and try to create an Oriya specialty the way my mom makes back home but never get the "perfect" satisfaction. There is no comparison with mom's food as hers is the best. The smell of pancha phutan (a mix of cumin, mustard seeds, aniseed, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds) in hot mustard oil, the pungent taste of mustard paste and the creamy poshto ( poppy seeds paste) in vegetables and fish, the melt in the mouth feel of Rasagulla and Chenna poda (baked cottage cheese cake) evokes delectable memories and transports me back in time. Right now I can just dream and drool!!

My post this time is Aloo chop, boiled potatoes cooked with ginger and onions, made into roundels, dipped in gram flour (Besan) batter and deep fried. This is a very common snack time specialty in Orissa.There are a variety of chops (I still don't know the reason behind calling them chops) vegetable chop, chinguri ( prawns) chop, egg chop, fish chop though all these are fried with coated breadcrumbs and not besan. Every eatery joint stocks up with these snacks specially singada (samosa) and Aloo chop which are freshly made during the evening and you find people flocking to buy them for their evening snacks. Oriya people love to eat and evening snacking is very common. I learnt to make these after I left Orissa and after umpteen number of trials and errors I have found a taste very similar to what I get back home:). These chops are perfect with bowl of mudhi (puffed rice) mixed with chopped raw onion ,mixture and mustard oil.Divine to the core!!
I finally found a guy selling them in Konkan express as Aloo Bonda.
This simple yet delicious snack is my entry for DK's Potato feast.
This also is an entry for Sia's Ode to potato.

For making Aloo chop
You need:

For the stuffing:
3 medium potatoes boiled and mashed
1 medium onion chopped finely or grated
1" pc grated ginger
1 green chili chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander pwdr
1/4 tsp turmeric pwdr
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves chopped finely
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

for the batter:
3 tbsp gram flour ( besan)
1 1/2 tbsp rice flour
1/2 tsp carrom seeds (ajwain)
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
1/2 tsp red chili pwdr
salt to taste
1/2 cup water
a pinch of soda bicarbonate
Oil for deep frying

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick pan (I prefer mustard oil to get the authentic taste). Add cumin and mustard seeds, let it brown and splutter, add the grated onion and ginger and chopped green chili and fry till the raw smell goes off.
  2. Add the mashed potato and all the spices mentioned in stuffing and the salt. Mix on low flame and finally add the lemon juice and chopped coriander. Keep aside and let it cool.
  3. Prepare the batter by adding all the ingredients under batter and mix well so that no lumps remain.
  4. Add 1 tsp of hot oil while making the batter and be sure to make the batter a little thick so that it coats the stuffing nicely.
  5. Heat the oil for deep frying. Divide the potato mixture into equal lemon sized balls and flatten them with your palm.
  6. Dip each flattened piece in the batter and deep fry till golden brown. Make sure you have 1 inch of oil for deep frying in the pan. Serve hot with chutney or ketchup

Feb 17, 2008

Turkey pomegranate salad

The memories of Aai's (my maternal grandmother) backyard filled with trees laden with green and red fruits and Aai seperating the fruits' arils from the skin and serving us for breakfast, the red shiny arils resembling small glistening rubies are still fresh in my mind. Her trick of separating the arils from the skin was to dip in a bowl of water while separating them. You guessed right....I am talking about Pomegranate.

Pomegranate juice is a great thirst quencher and has a refreshing and soothing taste. It is widely used as a table fruit, in salads, to marinate meat, as a garnish and toppings, as juice and also used to make high quality wine. This fruit represents fertility and marriage in the middle east countries and considered as auspicious by the Chinese as they believe it wards off evil. Pomegranate is also called the heart's tonic and is held in high esteem for its medicinal properties. More information regarding this delicious fruit can be known from here.

Today I am posting an exotic turkey pomegranate salad and this is my entry for AFAM-Pomegranate hosted by Sra of When my soup came alive and started by Maheshwari of Beyond the Usual.This is my first participation in a food event in the blogosphere. The recipe is adapted from The Thanksgiving book by Jerome agel and Jason shulman and is also available here.

Feb 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day to you all !!

No food blogging today!Just a message of love to all you beautiful people.Love....its a gift from the almighty ,an expression that touches us all,it cannot be seen nor touched but is felt within us.Today is Valentine's day,a festival that cherishes love and celebrated by all ages and races.
So let's celebrate love,receive love and bestow love on everyone around us irrespective of caste , creed and colour.I take this oppurtunity of Valentine's day to express my heartfelt love and gratitude to my family, near and dear ones,friends and all my co- bloggers.Love you all.Have a wonderful day with your loved ones.

A Happy Valentines Day to you all !!!

Feb 12, 2008

Cannelloni stuffed with cottage cheese and spinach

So we meet again!!

This weekend was quite boring as we were restricted to the confines of our apartment.With the temperatures rising and the snow melting there was slush everywhere and with me paranoid about mud and slush there was no chance that i would step out.So finally we languished in front of the TV in our night suits, played scrabble ,completed my daughter's environmental science project, made a waste paper bin for my daughter's room, did some blog hopping and admiring the creativity and made cannelloni for lunch:)). Phew!!
Back in India it was a tedious task for me to go hunting for Cannelloni in the stores,here its a joy to shop for continental stuff, you name it and its there.
Cannelloni is a big pipe shaped pasta or basically large stuffable tubes( courtesy wikipedia).The basic idea is from Nita Mehta's chicken cannelloni but the stuffing has been incorporated by me.The stuffed pasta is layered with tomato sauce and bechamel sauce(white sauce) and baked with a generous sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.Yuummmmmm!!!!Every mouthful leading to sheer bliss.

You need:
5 ready made cannelloni tubes
1 tbsp oil and1tsp salt to cook the pasta
60 gms cheese (mozzarella) grated

For the stuffing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 small onion chopped
3/4 cup chopped spinach(i used frozen minced spinach)
1 cup crumbled cottage cheese(paneer)
1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped finely
1/4 cup corn kernels( i used tinned sweet corn kernels)
1 large tomato pureed or equivalent tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion finely chopped
3 flakes garlic crushed
2 medium tomatoes pureed
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste

For the bechamel sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 cup milk
2 tbsp grated cheese(i use cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil ready made cannelloni tubes in boiling water with the salt and oil for 7-8 minutes or till done.Read the packet instructions.
  2. To prepare the stuffing, heat oil, add the onion and garlic, fry till onion is soft.Add the bell peppers ,corn and spinach and saute for 2-3 minutes.Add the crumbled cottage cheese, herbs,tomato puree, salt and pepper.Cook till the mixture is dry.
  3. To prepare the tomato sauce,heat oil ,add garlic,fry till light brown.Add onion and fry till transparent.Add all the other ingredients and boil till slightly thick pouring consistency(not dry).
  4. To prepare the bechamel sauce heat butter, add the flour and cook till it has a light brown tinge.Reduce heat and add milk stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed.Add seasonings and cook till the sauce starts coating the back of the spoon.Remove from heat,add cheese and mix well.
  5. Stuff cannelloni tubes with the prepared stuffing.
  6. To assemble, spread some tomato sauce at the base of the baking dish.Arrange the stuffed cannelloni on it in a single layer.Spread rest of the tomato sauce on it.Then spread the bechamel sauce on it to cover completely.
  7. Top it up with grated mozzarella cheese and bake at 180 deg C for 20 mins or till cheese is golden in colour.
Just forget being health conscious for a while and pamper your taste buds!

Feb 7, 2008

Russian winter and Borsch

Zdrastwiche!! (Hello! in Russian)

Russia the land of vast landscapes, of dynamic Tsars, soaring golden domed cathedrals, ballet beauties and figure skaters, of frozen rivers and lakes, a land rich in culture and heritage and how can I forget the legendary Lenin and Stalin.Yes! that's the image you conjure in your mind when you try to imagine about this mesmerising country.

The severity of Russian winter is not unknown to people. Winter brings the Russia of imagination to life, the snow makes everything picturesque and harshly beautiful. My stay in Moscow, the awe inspiring capital is just eight months old. Moscow, where the mercury dips down to -30 deg C is a huge, drastic change from Goa the land of sun, sand and sea where we were posted for six long years. It's a devastatingly new experience and I am loving every bit of it.
I keep on watching spell bound for hours together from my apartment window the snow falling......tiny flakes of snow floating all around, the cars, rooftops, the nude branches of the trees all covered with a shroud of pristine white carpet, children in blue, pink, red winter attire (they look like little astronauts) darting across the snow filled park of the detski sad(children's kindergarten) creating small indentations of their shoes on the snow. Mothers in fur coats strolling with their infants in well protected prams, dogs with their masters doing walk the talk, people hurrying across the snow filled streets to the tram and monorail stop, a flurry of daily life activities going on but for me time just stands still. I savour each and every moment and capture the scene in my mind's eye and in the camera to cherish it forever. I get this urge of opening the window and collect the snowflakes in my palm. They are beautiful, each flake shaped like a small flower...they melt in my palm inside. The feeling of dejection is evident from my face, it would be so nice to just store it as it is and take it back home.....ridiculous thought though.
During the long cold winters, it's easy to imagine that we will never see the sun again. The warm golden days of July and August when the sun sets at midnight here fade as if only a distant memory and I fear that I will be forever consigned to woolly hats and the heavy fur coats.

View from our apartment window

Experimenting with our camera

My blog's posts wouldn't be complete if I do not write about food. You guessed right! I will blog about a Russian dish today. Russia has a glorious culinary heritage....from the Baltic to the far east, the variety is immense. As with any cold climate country there's a great love for fat loaded dishes- Russia is no place to go on a diet. I can just go on and on about Russian delicacies, so I will talk about it in a later post. As the post revolves around winter a winter warmer would be wonderful, a popular soup called Borsch. Borsch is basically of Ukrainian origin that got its name from the most important ingredient beet called "borsch" in old slavic. It can be served hot or cold usually with sour cream (smetana) poured on top of it. Some Borsch is vegetarian but mostly its made with beef stock. There are numerous ways of making this soup, after trials and errors I found this way to be the easiest and tasty. I prepare Borsch with chicken stock and lots of fresh herbs. The beetroot in the soup imparts a beautiful red colour to it.

The Borsch soup

You need:

1 big beet cut into thin strips
1 medium carrot cut into thin strips
1 small potato cut into thin strips (some prefer cubes)
You can also shred the veggies and cube the potatoes according to your preference
1 small onion diced
1/2 cup cabbage shredded
3-4 flakes garlic
1/2 stalk celery or to taste
2 canned tomatoes or fresh diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or dried
1 tbsp fresh dill or dried
1/2 cup bell peppers chopped(optional)
1 chicken stock cube
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar(less if using canned tomatoes)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp sour cream
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large stir fry pan. Add the garlic and chopped onions and saute till the onions turn transparent. Alternately you can add the garlic when you leave the soup to boil.
  2. Now add the potatoes, carrots and celery and stir fry. Add the beetroots after 3-4 mins. Cook until veggies are done.
  3. Add the cabbage and tomatoes. In the meantime boil 2 and a1/2 cups water with the chicken stock cube.
  4. Add the stock to the veggies and bring to a boil. Lastly add the parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Add the bell peppers if you are using them.
  5. Reduce heat and cover. The longer you cook the stronger the flavour. I put it on low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Boil more if you are making in large quantity.
  6. Check throughout to add spices and herbs.
  7. Lastly add vinegar ( less if you are using canned tomatoes) and serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.

Cheers to health and pleasure!! I will sign out with some breathtaking shots of Russian nature in winter by Mikhail Tkachev.
Dusvidaniya!!!(till we meet again in Russian)

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