Oct 31, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin and sweet potato soup with toasted Almonds.

Its just raining Pumpkins everywhere in blogosphere.And the pumpkin bug has bit me too...though we Indians don't celebrate the American Thanksgiving .But here it's become kind of cool to celebrate Halloween,better known as the day of Dead.Every hotel and restaurant is throwing a Halloween themed party and even the shops have started stocking up on Halloween gear.

In fact my elder one had a Halloween themed birthday party ....well now everyone is thinking and going global.In the U.S. pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of thanksgiving and
Halloween.This time I also experimented  with lots of pumpkin recipes from around the world and
every single recipe is a keeper for sure.

From savoury soups to sweet treats the humble pumpkin is so versatile it reaches new heights with these ultimate ,mouthwatering recipes.

My soup is a traditional thanksgiving soup made of pumpkins,sweet potato,carrots and apple.This sweet,vibrant ,orange coloured soup is flavoured with spices and vanilla which goes very well with the creamy texture of potatoes and pumpkins.

3-4 servings
You Require

200 gms Pumpkin Peeled and chopped
1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped
1 large carrot,chopped
1 medium apple,peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
3-4 pods Garlic,chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon,powdered
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp dry ginger powdered
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 C vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
15 gms butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Cream and toasted almonds to garnish


  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Add the sliced onion and garlic and fry till transparent.
  • Add the cinnamon,ginger and all spice and fry until fragrant.
  • Add the pumpkin,sweet potatoes,carrots and apples,fry for a few minutes and add the vanilla.
  • Add the Veg stock and cover and let it cook for 15-20 mins.
  • After the veggies are soft and mushy add the salt ,pepper and butter.
  • Let it cool for a few minutes and then blitz with a hand blender or whisk it to a silky smooth consistency in a food processor .
  • Add more water or stock if you want a thin consistency and check the seasonings.
  • Warm and serve with cream swirled on it and a sprinkling of toasted almonds.

A perfect soup to keep you warm during the long winter nights!

Oct 27, 2015

Fried Eggplant roundels/Baigana Bhajaa

With the festival season in full swing all Indian kitchens are busy churning out new delicacies every day.Odiya delicacies dominate my kitchen on festivals and holidays.With sweets and delectable desserts in abundance everywhere the craving for simple, comfort food rises.

Last week during the Durga Puja I was into lot of traditional cooking and had made these golden fried eggplant slices with some Mung Dal Khichdi.These eggplant fry is called Baigana Bhaja in Odisha.The eggplant is cut into half inch roundels ,marinated in turmeric,salt and chilli powder and deep fried or shallow fried in mustard oil .

Bhaja in Odiya means fry and it's an integral part of a traditional Oriya meal.Its an accompaniment with rice,dal and curries.Have seen cooks deep frying the roundels in marriages and functions but I prefer to shallow fry in a wok with 2-3 tbsp of Mustard oil which imparts a unique flavour to the dishes.

You Require
2 round variety eggplants / brinjals
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt or according to taste
3-4 tbsp mustard oil for shallow frying


  • Wash and wipe dry the eggplants ,cut into 1/2 inch thick roundels.
  • Marinate with the turmeric,chilli powder and salt.
  • Smear it uniformly on the slices and keep it marinated for 15 mins.
  • Heat the mustard oil in a wok till smoke emanates from it .
  • Lessen the heat and fry the marinated slices in batches of 2 or 3 in a medium flame.
  • Cook both the sides till nice and brown.
  • Serve with a proper Oriya meal or with just plain ghee smeared Khichdi .

Divinely nostalgic!

Oct 23, 2015

Nolen Gur er Paayesh...Rice pudding with date palm jaggery

My better half with his Bengali roots is a true Bong at heart...thank god for the similarities in both the cultures and a truckload of Fatafati bong friends from whom I adopted their ways,I survived our marriage.To satiate our Bong Babu Moshai's hunger and as an offering to Maa Durga on the auspicious day of Dusshera I cooked this delicious Paayesh/ Kheer.For him it was a trip down memory Lane.

Nolen Gur basically means Notun Gur or New Gur and the Gur mentioned here is not the usual cane jaggery but date palm Jaggery which has a distinct flavour and aroma.This jaggery is typical of Bengal and Bangladesh and is available during the winter months.The sap of the date palm tree is collected and cooked on fire to make this Gur.

My stock of Khejur ( Date Palm) Gur comes from my Ma in law from Bengal.This time she sent me the Gur in Liquid form,Nolen Gur as well as the solidified version, Patali Gur.I am hanging on to the stock like prized possession till my next stock lands up.

Few important things to be kept in mind before we start cooking the kheer or Paayesh.The Paayesh is cooked on low heat and needs to be stirred continuously at regular intervals as it has a tendency to scald the bottom and however little burnt it is the taste and the look gets spoilt.Secondly the Gur has to be added to the Paayesh only after it is taken off the heat and just stirred into it till it incorporates with the Paayesh....otherwise the  Gur curdles.Lastly the amount of Gur you add is according to the taste of each individual .I add few tbsps of sugar and the Gur,some use more sugar and less Gur and some use only Gur.

You Require
1 l full fat milk
1/3 C Gobindobhog Rice or the Tukda Basmati Rice,washed and drained
2-3 tbsp of Sugar
2 bay leaves or 1/2 tsp of Cardamom powder
Khejur Gur,according to your taste( I used 1/2 C of Nolen Gur)
2 tbsp chopped cashews and small raisins sautéed in 1 tsp of Pure Ghee

  • Method
  • Heat the milk and bay leaves( if you are adding) in a heavy bottomed pan till it boils.
  • Add the washed rice to the milk and let it cook..keep stirring in between to avoid the kheer burning as it thickens.Add the cardamom powder now if you are not adding bay leaves.
  • Keep checking for the rice to get cooked.
  • After the rice is cooked add the sugar and let it boil stirring continuously in low heat.
  • When the Paayesh has thickened enough for the consistency you require take it off the heat.
  • After few mins add the Nolen Gur and stir to incorporate properly.By this time your house will be smelling divine.
  • Add the cashews and raisins sautéed in a little ghee to the Paayesh.
  • Serve it warm or cold according to choice.

Oct 22, 2015

Tomato Khajur Khatta...Tomatoes and dates sweet chutney

The festive, celebratory mood in my house is still on. Delicacies being churned out in my favourite haunt is being gobbled up by the chipmunks before they can be clicked for my blog. Durga Puja will culminate in a day but celebrations will continue till the Festival of Lights, Diwali ...stretched till the magical, joyful Christmas and finally coming to an abrupt halt after the New Year leaving us a little sad and forlorn .

Last few days there has been an honest and deliberate attempt from my side to make a traditional lunch at home.Food is a great way to keep ourselves closer to our roots, traditions and our culture. What we eat, how we prepare it,how we serve it and how we eat it is all related to our cultural inheritance.

And this sweet chutney made from tomatoes ,jaggery and dates is one of the delicious,authentic and simple dishes of Odisha mostly served with rice and accompaniments or with a khichadi and its a hit with puri and curry too.It's common in every household and is served in every marriage,festival or a function, a ubiquitous accompaniment.A sweet as well as tangy chutney is a hit in our household
too.This is one of the dishes whose memory, taste and smell evokes lovely pangs of nostalgia This chutney can be bottled and refrigerated for 7-8 days.

Pancha Phutana

The quintessential Pancha phutana or the five spice mix is used in this Khatta.Its a mix of equal amount of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds,fennel seeds and onion seeds .This spice mix is an important ingredient in an Odiya Kitchen.

You Require
5-6 medium Tomatoes,chopped
3-4 tbsp grated Jaggery
1 tsp pancha phutana
1 tsp grated Ginger
2 dry red chillies
1 tsp roasted cumin and chilli powder(Bhajaa  jeera Lanka powder)
1 tbsp Mustard oil
Salt to taste or 1/2 tsp
5-6 de seeded dates
Few raisins(optional)


  • Heat the mustard oil to smoking point in a wok and lessen the heat.
  • Add panchaphutana and red chillies and when it splutters add the tomatoes and ginger...cover and cook till the tomatoes are slushy and nearly cooked.At this point 1/2 C hot water can be added.
  • Add the salt and jaggery and the dates ,raisins and cook till the jaggery melts and the chutney attains a nice red colour.Sugar can be used instead of jaggery but jaggery gives a nice colour to the chutney.
  • Lastly add the Jeera Lanka powder and switch off after one boil.
  • Serve with Rice, Puris or Parathas.

Oct 20, 2015

Anjeer and Gulkand stuffed Malai Ladoo

  Fun,frolic and food and that is what Durga Puja is all about in Odisha and the eastern part of the country.Born and brought up as an Odiya and marrying an Odiya settled in Bengal the  puja festivities and food is an integral part of our lives.

  But away from home,your native land makes you crave for the festive vibrant air, the colours, the food fiesta, the laughter and adda sessions with friends and cousins, the never ending pandal hopping, the chanting of the mantras and the beat of the drums from the pandals.How much I yearn for those autumn skies filled with the smell of an eclectic mix of camphor and smoke from the pandals and the Shiuli ( Night jasmine) flower.

  A overwhelming rush of memories and associations....and here in Goa am trying to create a home away from home for my children so that they also value our traditions,customs and culture.Trying to recreate the festive air at home by preparing some nostalgia filled Puja special dishes .The glitz and charm of Durga Puja still holds strong ..miles away from home.

The Malai Ladoo is an absolutely easy, quick and extremely tasty sweet recipe.I have tweaked it with some gulkand and anjeer(figs) stuffing which gave a nice rosy crunch in the middle and took the recipe to a different level.The main ingredient is Chenna or Paneer or Cottage Cheese.

You require (for 15-16 medium sized laddoos)
2 C Chenna / Paneer
1 C Condensed Milk
1 tbsp corn flour
1/2 tsp elaichi powder/ cardamom powder
2 tbsp ground Sugar ( If you like it Sweet)(optional)
5-6 Dry figs chopped
2 tbsp Gulkand
5-6 Almonds toasted and slivered
Few strands of saffron dipped in warm milk


  • Mash the Chenna Or paneer with hand  or alternately whisk it in a mixer.
  • Add the Chenna,condensed milk,and cornflour in a wok or pan in low heat and stir.Keep stirring till it dries up and thickens,approximately for 10 mins.Keep on stirring continuously as the mixture is prone to get burnt.
  • Switch off the flame and add the cardamom powder and leave it to cool.
  • Prepare the stuffing by mixing the gulkand and chopped anjeer or figs.
  • Shape the laddoos when the mixture is cool enough to handle.( do not let it cool too much as the mixture thickens )
  • Scoop out a tbsp of the paneer mix and shape it into a ball ,make a dent in the middle for the stuffing with your thumb and fill 1/2 a tsp of the stuffing and shape it back into a ball covering the stuffing uniformly.
  • Garnish with saffron strands or slivered ,toasted almonds.

A very Happy Durga Puja to you all!

Oct 16, 2015

A Lemon Bundt Cake with a lemon frosting

Well,when life throws you lemons...No! I didn't make lemonade ...I baked a cheery, fluffy, lemon Bundt cake instead.My bday and committee meeting of the NGO that I do voluntary work for coincided and I was expected to bake a cake for the members.And  tried and tested the perfect tea time cake was this Lemony cake apt for a summertime get together and a truly delicious recipe.

The double dose of lemon juice and zest in the cake and in the frosting makes it tart and zingy.Not to miss out the aroma of the cake baking which welcomed my kids back from school and the look on their faces when they realised it wasn't meant for them...for a second I thought I was the worst mom in the world. 

This recipe is an adaptation from my favourite baking site Joy of Baking and not a single recipe from this website has gone wrong till date.There's a list of lemon recipes in my to do list..a lemon blueberry cake and a key lime cheesecake are my next experiments.Afew things to remember before we start baking this cake.
  • Always buy lemons which are fragrant and have nice, oily, yellow skin without any blemishes and spots or are hard and wrinkly.Microwave the lemons for 10 secs if you have taken out straight from the fridge..this ensures enough juice from the lemons.
  • While removing or grating the zest do not remove the white membrane or the pith as it tastes bitter and will affect the taste of the cake.
  • Drizzle the frosting on the cake while the cake is a little bit warm...that helps the cake in soaking the frosting and gives a crusty glaze and nice crunch to the cake.

You Require
2 C all purpose Flour
1C  granulated Sugar
1C butter,room temperature and unsalted
04 large eggs,room temperature 
1/4 C lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt
 Zest of 1 large lemon,the outer yellow skin

For the Frosting
1C confectioners or icing sugar,sifted
2-4 tbsp lemon juice


  • Pre heat oven to 180 deg C,grease a 9 inch bundt pan or springform pan and line it with parchment paper.
  • Sift the flour ,baking powder,salt and whisk it with the lemon zest.
  • Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy for about 3-4 minutes with a electric mixer.
  • Add the eggs one by one..the mixture might curdle which is normal.add the vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Add the flour mixture with the lemon juice alternately ,flour in three additions and lemon juice in two additions mixing till you have a smooth batter
  • Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 mins or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.Do not over bake  otherwise the cake becomes dry.
  • Cool for 15 mins and unmould it to pour the frosting while the cake is still a little warm.
  • Add 2tbsp of lemon juice with the sifted icing sugar and mix to get a smooth and thick glaze.
  • Add more juice or sugar as needed.
  • Pour it on the cake and allow it to drip down the sides.
  • Let the frosting dry before you cut and store the cake.This cake can be stored for several days in an airtight container.

Enjoy the delightful,moist,zingy cake and remember me:)!
I am sending this Cake as an entry for Casa Costellos event Bake of the week.

Oct 14, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Chimichangas

My younger one has been blessed with a strong ,deep rooted sweet tooth genetically passed on to her from the father.To satisfy her sweet cravings becomes a Herculean task for me ..breakfast,lunchbox,post lunch and dinner,the TV time snacking every single meal needs to have a sugary sweet element in it.When the cravings had crossed limits and I could foresee future health problems I put my foot down and had stopped making anything sweet at home except some occasional knick knacks which I could successfully hide from her in the secret niches and corners only known to me.Never in my wildest dreams had I thought that I had to be creative regarding hiding places for the sugary sweet nothings.After one whole week of deprivation finally two days back I gave in and made these Mexican ,melt in the mouth sugar coated chimichangas as a sweet treat and reward for exceptionally matured behaviour which took me by surprise too.We can't expect impeccable manners and excellent behaviour from a six year old but sometimes she does start pushing my buttons.

Before the conversation meanders to a different path I will log off here with the recipe of those Chimichangas.My little one still cannot pronounce it...after a day they became " pichitankas "in her memory's dictionary.

Chimichanga is a burrito filled with your choice of fillings,sweet or savoury,and deep fried to a golden perfection.I had a small box of frozen apple pie filling peeking from my freezer which I used as filling for the flour tortillas,folded them into burritos and shallow fried them.The final step was to dust them with powdered cinnamon sugar.

You Require
For the Tortillas(8- 10)
2C flour
1/4 C veg shortening /veg oil/olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 - 3/4 C warm water
For the apple pie Filling
3 big Apples,peeled and chopped
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1 tbsp butter

1C oil for frying
2-3 tbsp powdered cinnamon sugar for dusting

For the tortillas

  • Sift the flour,baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix the shortening or oil with your fingertips to combine.
  • Add the warm water gradually and work into a soft dough,cover and keep for 30 mins.
  • Roll out 8 medium sized round tortillas with the dough and cook them on a griddle till brown spots appear.Cover the dough with a damp tea towel as you cook the tortillas.
  • Don't overcook as they will become dry and butter them and wrap them in a tea towel as you cook the other tortillas.
  • For the apple filling
  • Sauté the chopped apples in butter for few minutes till  they become little soft.
  • Add the sugar and cinnamon and let it cook for 3-4 minutes till the sugar is caramelised and the mixtures becomes little saucy.
  • For the Chimichangas
  • In a tortilla lay out enough filling so that you can fold it into a burrito easily.
  • Fold opposite sides over the filling and roll up from the bottom like a burrito.
  • Place with the seam side down in a fry pan with pre heated oil,fry in a low flame,turn the other side when golden brown.( I shallow fried it with 3-4 tbsp of oil)
  • Alternately brush with melted butter and bake at 200 deg C for 20 mins or till golden brown.
  • Dab the extra oil with a tissue from the fried chimichangas and dust with powdered cinnamon Sugar.
  • Cut into halves and serve hot with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream .
  • Enjoy the divine Pichitankas oops sorry Chimichangaswith the saucy apples oozing out.

Oct 10, 2015

Poached Peach and Vanilla Panna Cotta...a novel presentation of the Italian classic.

Panna Cotta, a Classic moulded Italian dessert is basically sweetened cream thickened with gelatine and flavoured with coffee,rum,vanilla and so on or by infusing spices.A creamy and luxurious dessert and a perfect crowd pleaser,it's a sure hit in a party.Had always prepared this dessert in individual glasses but this way of presentation did win me a few accolades:).All thanks to Donna Hay' s Modern Classics cookbook .An ardent fan of her cooking I make sure I don't miss out a single episode of her cookery show on TLC.
This lusciously smooth and creamy dessert has a layer of poached peaches with the poaching liquid set with gelatine in the bottom layer and cream infused with vanilla bean in the upper layer,set and de molded upside down.The peaches in the transparent layer give a gorgeous look to the subtly sweet dessert and gives a classy impression.Serve it in small dessert glasses,stem glasses,bowls or demold it,garnish with berries or a citrusy sauce or some diced peaches doused in Grand Marnier....tailor it to whatever occasion you have prepared it for.Nothing could be easier or more delicious!

You require
1 1/2 C(12 fl oz) water
1/2C sugar
3 peaches,halved and stoned
1 tbsp powdered gelatine

For the Panna cotta 
2 tbsp powdered gelatine
1/3 C (2 1/2 fl oz) water
3 3/4 C(30 fl oz) single or pouring cream
1 C icing or confectioners sugar
1 vanilla bean,split and scraped


  • Boil the water and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the peaches and simmer for 3-5 mins or until soft.
  • Remove the peaches and and slip off the skins reserving the poaching liquid.
  • Mix the gelatine with 1/4 of the peach liquid and add the mixture to the remaining liquid in the saucepan,stir and simmer for 2 mins or until dissolved.
  • Place the peach halves,cut side up in a well greased loaf tin and pour the liquid over the peaches.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hrs or until firm.
  • To make the Panna cotta mix the gelatine with warm water and set aside.
  • Place the cream ,icing sugar and scraped vanilla in a a saucepan over medium heat and stir.
  • Add the gelatine mixture and simmer over low heat for nearly 4 mins or until dissolved.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature then pour the mixture over the set jelly and refrigerate overnight.
  • To serve dip the tin in warm water and invert onto a plate.
  • Slice and serve.

Oct 7, 2015

Kadali Chakuli..eggless whole wheat banana pancakes...Odiya recipe with a contemporary touch.

I have very fond memories of these pancakes or mitha chakuli as known in Odisha ,my native state.A very common breakfast back home made with overripe bananas ,wheat flour ,milk and sugar.This is a simpler banana version of chakuli.My Aai( maternal grandmother) used to make loads of these when we visited her place.Her death was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with.This post takes me back to those sweet days of my childhood.She would delight in piling up a large plate with those delicious banana pancakes and the plate would get polished off within minutes.Now my children savour these healthy,moist,fluffy pancakes in their breakfast or in their lunchbox.The authentic recipe asks for aniseed as a taste enhancer but my kids love the cinnamon version.I give a twist to the pancakes by cooking in a panniyaram pan which gives a ball shape ,fluffy inside and nice and crispy outside.I am sending these pancakes to Srivalli's Breakfast Event.

You require
1C whole wheat flour
1 big overripe banana
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 C milk or enough to mix it to a thick flowing consistency
1/2 tsp aniseed (saunf)/ cinnamon powder(dalchini)/cardamom powder(elaichi)
2-3 tsp refined oil for shallow frying

Mash the banana in a bowl.
Add the sugar ,wheat flour and aniseed to the banana.
Now add the milk gradually while whisking till a thick flowing consistency.
Pour a ladle full of batter on a heated non stick pan with a little oil on medium heat .
Flip the pancake when it is browned on one side and cook till the other side has brown spots on it.
Serve with a pancake syrup or honey drizzled on it.

Oct 5, 2015

Mexican Chili Con Carne

From nachos ,tacos,burritos,salsas to margaritas traditional Mexican cuisine is bursting with flavours, texture and spice....a fiesta for the taste buds.We can never get enough of this cheesy, limy,zesty cuisine which is full of corn,beans,fresh herbs,meats and cheese.Garlic, cilantro,Cumin and chilli are the main spices which give a zesty flavour to their dishes.
The Mexican Chili Con Carne is a hit in my household.Its a spicy stew of Chilli peppers and meat and the other ingredients being tomato and kidney beans.The vegetarian version is known as Chili sin Carne and the white meat i.e chicken and turkey version with white beans sans tomatoes is known as White Chili.The Chili con carne is an one pot wonder mostly made with  storecupboard ingredients.A Mexican classic that goes well with a bowl of rice,guacamole,sour cream some lemon wedges and a nice green salad.

You require
500 gms minced lamb or mutton
3/4 C boiled kidney beans
1 big Onion ,chopped
8-10 flakes garlic ,crushed
2 C tomato purée
2 red peppers,chopped roughly
3-4 red chillies,preferably Mexican chilli peppers,chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt and pepper  to taste
4 tbsp olive oil
1 C water or lamb stock

Heat oil,add garlic and fry for a minute.
Add the onion and fry till translucent .
Add the mince and cook for 7-8 mins till brown .
Now add the tomato purée,the boiled beans ,the red pepper ,chillies and all the spices including the chopped coriander with stalks leaving a little aside for garnish.
Add a cup of water or lamb stock and give it a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer.
Cover it with the lid a little askew for about an hour,stirring in between.
Alternatively pour the mixture in a greased casserole and cover and bake at 150 deg C for nearly 2 hours.
Serve with lemon wedges and coriander sprinkled on the "Chili" as the Americans call this hearty and all time classic dish.
I like my Chili a little dry but the authentic dish is a saucier version and has more gravy.

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