Wednesday 30 October 2013

Besan aur Sattu ki barfi

Kolkata Food Bloggers is a group that is enriched with not only some amazing food bloggers but moreover some really amazing people. One such person that enriches this group is Sarani Tarafder. A very beautiful person inside out, Sarani is an ex-banker by profession and has an amazing knack of taking wonderful pictures besides being a fabulous writer. She blogs from Cocawind and has a collection of some very easy and impressive dishes.
I personally got the opportunity to interact with her one to one on our Gourmet Indulgence in The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata experience and cherish each moment of the fun we had there. A very selfless and dedicated person, Sarani is a true example of 'A friend in need is a friend indeed'. 
With the festivity in the air, I naturally had no choice but to jump onto her Besan Ladoo recipe. It so reminded me of my childhood when mummy would fondly make all sweets at home. One of my favourite used to be these big Besan ladoo. I have tweaked the recipe and added some sattu to it and have followed my mother's tried and tested method of making it. Check out Sarani's very cute bite size Besan ladoo's adorned with almonds here

Ingredients : For 9 pieces of square shaped barfi
  • 1/4 cup besan/gram flour
  • 1/4 cup sattu
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ghee/clarified butter
  • 2-3 green cardamoms, powdered
  • 4-5 almonds, sliced
  • 4-5 pista, sliced
  • silver warq/edible silver sheets
Procedure :
Take a deep pan/kadhai and add ghee. Add besan and let it cook on low heat. Keep stirring constantly to avoid burning. After 2 minutes add sattu and cook both till the colour of besan and sattu changes to a deeper brown. 
Meanwhile  take sugar and water in another pan and get it to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and add cardamom powder. 
When the besan and sattu mixture gets cooked, add this sugar mixture to it and stir constantly till the mixture thickens on medium flame. 
Prepare a square tray by greasing it lightly.
Spread the mixture on it evenly. 
Allow to cool.
Sprinkle the sliced pista and almonds and gently press on the mixture.
Garnish further by pressing silver warq on it.
Cut in squares and serve.

  • You may substitute sattu with besan for a more authentic recipe which also will give you a little light coloured barfi. 
  • You may also try and use only sattu for an even more interesting variation. Remember not to cook sattu for too long in the ghee as it may brown early. 
  • You may shape them as balls when slightly cool instead of the barfi shape.
Happy Barfi eating

Saturday 26 October 2013

Kakori kebab

Food cooked in charcoal and wood fire has an unreserved allure universally that draws its roots since the ancient of days. Being the most primitive form of cooking since the stone age, when man discovered the wonder of creating fire from sparks by striking two stones together, it has been ingrained into the genes of humankind and forms a part of the DNA of the Food-logy of our being. Even today, after centuries of existence, evolution and technological advancement, coal and wood fire continue to serve mankind with both, the exquisite range of grilled and barbecued spreads and provision in the form of the cheapest cooking alternative for countless folks worldwide struggling to make ends meet.  
Amongst the endless list of techniques and recipes from the wood fire nothing perhaps is more illustrious, loved and accepted than the middle eastern range of  kebabs and grills.
The English phrase 'all dark clouds have a silver lining' and William Shakespeare's widely quoted line from the play 'As You Like It' (Act 2 Scene 1) "Sweet are the uses of Adversity" couldn't be more true than its significance with regard to the invention of the legendary Kakori Kebabs when the adversities of the old and toothless Nawab of Awadh made his khansamas grind their teeth in order to create the kebab that literally melts and evaporates like a wafer. 
My quest, in addition to the natural attraction towards charcoal grilled food, was to replicate the Kakori Kebabs that had blown away the imagination of my mind and left me spell bound with its dramatic melting texture and softness and the subtle exquisite flavours that translates into pampered royalty incensed with the most exuberant spices and the aromatic smell of the charcoal grill. After much attempts, and a recipe, I did manage to achieve something I would categorize the likes of Kakori Kebab. 
There are many steps in the process. The key in creating the Kakori Kebab is doing those small steps right. Choosing the meat is the most vital step as that determines the ultimate outcome of the kebab even if you have got the other steps right. 

Ingredients : Serves 4-5

  • Minced Mutton (Goat) Meat - 500 gms (The meat should be chosen from the raan, or the leg, without any fat or ligaments. 
  • Raw Papaya - 50 gms
  • Kidney fat - 50 gms
  • Salt to Taste 
(A) Kakori Masala (Roast and Make Powder)
  • Green Cardamom 5 pcs
  • Black Cardamom Seeds 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cloves - 3 Nos
  • Nutmeg - a Pinch
  • Mace/Javatri - 1 Small Blade
  • Shahi Jeera- 1/2 Teaspoon
  • Rose Petal - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kebab Chini - 5 Nos
  • White Pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kashmiri Mirch powder- 1/2 tablespoon
  • Roasted Gram Powder - 3 tbsp

(B) Kakori Masala (Make Paste)
  • Dessicated Coconut - 3 tbsp
  • Khuskhus (Poppy Seeds) - 1 tsp
  • Khoya - 1 tbsp
  • Onions (to be sliced and fried) - 4 medium sized
  • Cashew nuts - 1 tbsp
  • Fresh Malai - 1 tbsp
  • Saffron - a pinch
  • Rosewater - 1 tablespoon
  • Kewda Water - 1 Tablespoon

  • Mince Meat and Fat thrice to a very fine consistency in  a grinder.
  • Add papaya paste, salt and Kakori Powder (A), mix well
  • Add Kakori Masala (B) along with Rose water, Kewda and Saffron.
  • Mix thoroughly and keep for half an hour.
  • Take a portion of the meat (about 100 gms) and put it on skewers and shape it like a seekh kebab (the skewer type should be fat square shaped since they hold the minced meat the best).
  • Roast on charcoal grill. Be careful to turn the seekh constantly to avoid over grilling from a particular side. Alternatively preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius and grill kebab for 15-20 mins or till browned from all sides. Remember to oil the kebabs in between for better and uniform grilling.
  • Remove Carefully from the skewer on a plate. 
  • Serve with green chutney and sliced onions (although it was loved without any chutney)
(Recipe Credit: Gautam Mehrish : Corporate Executive Chef at Sun-n-Sand Hotels, Mumbai)

The same recipe when experimented with minced chicken was not exactly the 'melt-in-mouth' texture but was equally appreciated.

The same recipe experimented with chicken

Happy Kebab Dishing

Thursday 24 October 2013

Komla-lebur Chenna Payesh/Orange Kheer

Just the other day, I suddenly remembered that we are approaching that wonderful time of the year when the markets are flooded with some amazing and fresh fruits and vegetables. The first fruit that came in my mind was Oranges and I had a sudden strong craving for it.
Today being the 'Sweet day' on our blog, I just had to sync the two-Oranges and Sweet. Now, normally that should not be too difficult for the crazy Baker mind of mine. After all, I can put my hands on anything from Orange cake/cupcakes/cookies...But somehow I wanted to try something more easy, something more different and perhaps something more traditional. 
A quick search on the net led me to the perfect answer. I found a super easy and fast method of the very famous Bengali Kheer-Chenna Payesh. The interesting bit was the addition of oranges in it and the super easy method was making it in the Microwave. Though I made all the ingredient myself and used the stove top for it, I have added the easy microwave method too at the end.
Vishal, my husband, helped me buy the best Oranges available and I decided to serve the sweet in the orange itself which I shaped as a basket. The kheer/Chenna payesh was such a hit and everyone in the family admired my idea of serving in the orange basket. My father declared it 'Darun' (Wonderful in Bengali)

Stove top method
Ingredients: For 3-4 servings
  • 500 ml milk (I used Amul Tazaa)
  • 1/4 tsp citric acid/1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • Orange segments
  • 1 tsp Orange rind
Procedure :
Chenna-Take 1 1/2 cup milk in a pan and bring it to a boil. Add citric acid/lemon juice and stir well till the milk curdles and the whey separates. Line a bowl with muslin cloth and drain all the chenna with the whey into it. Collect the muslin cloth by its all four sides and tie it to allow the whey to drain completely(I normally tie it to my kitchen basin Tap) for 20-30 mins. 
Kheer-Take 1 cup milk in a pan and add sugar. Bring it to a boil, allow it to simmer on low heat till it reduces to half. This should take around 15-20 mins. 
Add 1 cup milk and the drained chenna(crumble it with your hands) and mix well. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Orange Basket-Make knife marks on the orange top in the shape of a basket with a handle. Carefully remove the marked segments with the help of a knife. Loosen the white part covering the orange segments to the skin with a knife and then cut the orange through half. With the help of a spoon remove the other half of the orange to make the basket. Reserve orange segments for use in the kheer/payesh.

Add the orange segments and the orange rind to the now cool kheer/payesh. Refrigerate.
Just before serving, remove from the fridge and serve in the orange baskets. 

Microwave method : Adapted from Tarla Dalal

Ingredients : For 3-4 servings
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup grated paneer
  • orange segments
  • 1 tsp orange rind
Method :
In a microwave safe bowl, combine milk and condensed milk and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring in between after every 1 minute. Add the paneer and mix well. Microwave again for 1 minute. Cool completely and add the orange rind and segments. Refrigerate.

  • You may add some chopped nuts like Pista or Almonds to get a nutty taste.
  • You may add cardamom powder to the milk to add in the flavour. 
  • Do not leave the kheer/payesh in the orange skin baskets for too long as it might make the kheer bitter. For better results, refrigerate the kheer separately and add to the orange baskets just before serving.
Happy Orange Kheer/Payesh eating

Monday 21 October 2013

Owl Cupcakes

'Know your Kolkata Food Blogger' event was on a hold as all of us were busy in the festivity last week. We are back introducing our very sweet, polite and extremely helpful member, Archita Chanda Ray, who blogs from My Food My Life.  Archita, having left her Banker job, now enjoys running a playschool together with her husband. Her blog reflects her ideology about food and is a treasure of some easy to cook and impressive recipes. As much as I tried to look away from her baked goodies, I finally gave in to the sweet temptation and tried her super easy, super soft and very yummy Choco vanilla Mini Cupcakes
Once the recipe was decided, I realized that my OTG(oven-toaster-griller) was at my mother's house. We had a Paath (puja) at home where I had baked some stuffed buns and hence my oven was required there. My Microwave oven is a simple one without the grill feature and I am a very partial OTG baker. That's when I remembered the Electric Tandoor gifted by my Amma(mother-in-law) which I have successfully used to make Pizza, Naan and all sorts of grilled meat. It does not have a temperature control and thus needs high level of supervision while making anything in it. The Tandoor is an amazing appliance which cooks food in a jiffy. It melts the cheese on my pizza in 2 minutes flat! However, baking had never been attempted in it. 
I decided to try half the recipe and see how my Tandoor bakes my cupcakes. The Tandoor needs a preheating time of 3-4 min after which I placed my cupcakes in it. It took less than 5 minutes for my cupcakes to get completely cooked and to perfection with beautiful crumbs. I was shocked and very pleasantly surprised with my results. Though next time, I will consider covering my cupcakes with aluminium foil before baking as the high temperature makes the crust go brown faster.
I had some leftover Pumpkin puree from my last bake (Pumpkin shaped dinner rolls) which I added in my cupcakes to add to the Halloween effect which I created with Oreo biscuits and Gems. The idea was taken from Pinterest, the source of which I could not locate.

My wonder Appliance-Electric Tandoor

Ingredients : Yields 4-5 cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, powdered
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin puree(boiled and ground to a paste. Check here)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda 
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
Garnish :
  • 1 tbsp grated chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cream, room temperature
  • Oreo biscuits/cookies
  • Gems/colourful round candies
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Line cupcake tins with liners.
In a bowl, cream together sugar and egg with a electric blender till fluffy. Alternately, use a hand whisk.
To the bowl add milk, vegetable oil and pumpkin puree. Mix well.
Sift together all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in another bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and fold in gently. 
Lastly add the boiling water and mix to incorporate.
Pour the batter divided in the prepared cupcake tins till 3/4. 
Bake for 15-20 mins or till a toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean.
Allow to cool.
Melt chocolate on a double boiler or microwave in 15 secs interval till melted.
Add cream and stir well. If this gets thick add little milk. 
Spread on the cupcakes.
Take two cream halves of the Oreo biscuits and put them as the owl's eyes.
Finish the look with Gems as in the eyes and beak.
Note  :
  • If using the electric Tandoor, preheat it for 3-4 minutes and then place your cupcakes
  • Always use metal tins in the Tandoor. (I had put my silicone cupcake which got slightly burnt)
  • Keep a vigilant eye on the tandoor and keep checking by taking the tray out. 
  • Cover your bakes with an aluminium foil to avoid the direct high heat burning tops. 
  • If using Tandoor, keep the batter a little more than half as it tends to rise very fast and high. I had to remove ugly overgrown tops from my cupcakes. 
Check out the Mummy Cupcakes I made last year for Halloween. 

Happy Halloween Baking

Saturday 19 October 2013

Pumpkin shaped dinner rolls

Baking Partner's challenge for this month was bread bake with pumpkin puree to celebrate the month of Halloween which falls on the 31st of October. 
A famous festival, primarily of the western world, Halloween is synonymous with the use of Pumpkin and is a day dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.
Last year we baked a batch of very yummy Pumpkin choco-chip muffins which to my surprise turned out a complete winner. I was very apprehensive to use puree of the pumpkin we get here in India but to my delight the muffins were soft and delicious.
Therefore, this year, I was very sure to go ahead and use homemade Pumpkin puree which is simply boiling some pieces and then making a paste of it in the grinder. I decided to make little dinner rolls out of it and keeping the spirit of Halloween in my mind, I shaped them as tiny pumpkins. 

Recipe suggested by Tamy of 3 sides Crazy from King Arthur flour
Ingredients: I reduced the recipe by 1/4 to get 7 dinner rolls
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp warm milk
  • 1/2 tbsp yeast (I used Instant yeast)
  • 1/2 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1/4 cup+2 tbsp pumpkin puree (Boil pumpkin pieces in the pressure cooker with 2-3 whistles and allow to cool. Squeeze out excess water and puree in the grinder)
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup+2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Procedure :
In a large bowl, stir in 1 cup all purpose flour, yeast, salt, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, egg, milk and water and mix well.
If using active dried yeast, stir in yeast into water and  allow to get rest for 10 mins or till it gets foamy.
Gradually add the remaining flour, a little at a time. Turn the dough on a floured surface and knead till you get a smooth and elastic dough for about 5 minutes. 
Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl and turn it in the bowl to coat all sides. Allow to double in volume for about 1 hour in a warm place. I usually cover the bowl with a damp muslin cloth and put the bowl in the microwave to allow to rise.
Divide dough into 7 equal portions and roll each to a round.
With a knife make 8 little cuts, not all the way through.
Shape with your hand to plump them up like a pumpkin.
Make an indentation in the middle with your little finger.
Place on an aluminium foil lined baking tray.
Cover with a damp muslin cloth and allow to rise for 20 mins.
Brush the tops with a milk-cream mixture. 
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. 
Bake for 20 minutes or till the tops brown well.
Apply some butter on top as soon as they are out of the oven.
To complete the pumpkin look, place a slice of almond on top.

Happy Pumkpin shaped dinner roll eating

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Aataa diye Phool Sondesh/Custard Apple flavoured Flower Sandesh

A wish or urge, particularly a sudden one. Doing things in the spur of the moment.
A few days ago, on a very popular facebook foodie page, Chef at Large, a young girl, living in Mumbai, inquired if there was anyone from Kolkata who could make and deliver sweets to her parents, as a family tradition, on the auspicious occasion of Bijoya Dashami, which is the very last day of the popular festival in West Bengal, Durga Puja.
After I looked at her post, surprisingly, no one was able to help her out. 
I felt amused that in such a big metropolitan city, no one was able to offer help by making and delivering sweets to her parents which would really bring happiness and joy to both of them. 
On checking back the facebook page I saw the resignation on this young lady as she drew a sad smiley :( on her post. 
That was the moment when 'Impulse' got the better of me and I jumped, like a Daniel come to Judgement, to offer myself in the mission to make something and have it delivered to her parents.
I offered a range of cakes and cupcakes that I had baked many times over but she suggested preference to some Bengali traditional sweets over the bakes' series. The traditional Bengali sweets do not come under my domain and comfort zone and I wondered if I had bitten more than what I could chew by accepting her requisition. 
I made two samples out of which she chose the one with the rasagulla wrapped in rose petal shaped sandesh and flavoured in custard apple.     
It took me the whole day handcrafting these delicate sweets and help from literally everyone from my family. My mother very sweetly helped me in all the steps and most importantly kept my doting daughter, Vaanya, away from all this as she thought that the chenna was her play doh and wanted to play with it! It was 8:30 pm when I finally finished shaping all the petals. The basket was arranged by my mother and Masi and these delicate beauties were laid in Banana wrappers and into the basket. My husband drove me through a rainy and jam packed Puja night to deliver the baskets to the girls parents at 10:30 pm. 
The sheer surprise and the joy I saw on the faces of her parents made each second of my hard work worthwhile. There was a little lovely note from their daughter and I am sure they felt really proud of their doting daughter's gesture of keeping up the family tradition of offering sweets in Dashami.
It was a crazy day for me but the most memorable one as the incident not only brought joy to everyone around but also, through this divine intervention, kick started a long awaited desire to start a tiny business from home that has been on the cards, but procrastinated, for quite a while. 
This is my passion that now, through this incident, has ushered me into a new chapter and certainly this is what I would love to do for a living day in and day out.  

Ingredients : I made 50 pieces for the order. But here I am giving the proportion for 10 such pieces.
  • 1 litre milk
  • 1/4 tsp citric acid/1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Custard apple/Aata(Bengali)/Shareefa(Hindi)
  • Food colours-yellow and raspberry red
  • Chopped Pistachio for garnishing


Heat milk in a pan and let it come to a boil. Add citric acid/lemon juice and stir well. Soon you will see the milk curdling and whey separating. Wait till the whey separates well. Remove from heat and using a muslin cloth drain the chenna(curdled milk) from whey. (Do not throw whey, reserve it for using to make soft chapati dough or make yummy dal/gravy.)
Hang the muslin cloth to drain excess water for half an hours. Remove and put on a plate. Cover with another plate and put a heavy object to drain any remaining liquid for about half an hour.
Take out the chenna and knead with the heel of your palm till smooth and reaches dough consistency. This requires patience and strong arm muscles and can take around 10 minutes.
Make 10 round shaped balls out of the kneaded chenna. 
These were made for the order and hence are more in number
Take sugar and water in a pressure cooker and let it come to a rolling boil. Lower the chenna balls in it very carefully and close the lid with the whistle on. Wait for 2-3 whistles on medium heat and then switch off the gas. Let the heat dissipate naturally.
Open lid and take out the soft spongy chenna balls or rasagullas from the syrup and keep aside to cool.

Custard Apple flavoured chenna
Peel the custard apple and put the pulpy part surrounding the seeds through a strainer. With the help of a spoon, mash it well to get the custard apple pulp. This again requires patience and time. Keep aside.
In a non stick pan, add the custard apple pulp and mix in some sugar(optional).
Add the kneaded chenna to it and on low flame keep stirring continuously to avoid burning the chenna.
The chenna will gradually change colour and will become lumpy. This should take 10-15 mins of continuous stirring.
This is called 'Makha' or 'Ready to be moulded' stage.
Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle with hands.

Take the rasagullas and cover them with the custard apple flavoured makha/cooked chenna. 
With a toothpick dipped in the yellow food colour, mark on top of the chenna wrapped rasagullas.

Add little raspberry red food colour to the remaining custard flavoured cooked chenna to get a baby pink colour. 
Take small balls out of it and shape them as petals.

Attach to the sides of the chenna wrapped rasagullas.

Arrange 5 such petals on the sides giving it the shape of a flower.

Garnish with chopped pista.

I made 50 such pieces and arranged them in a basket for my maiden venture.

Wishing all readers a Shubho Bijoya and Happy Dusshera


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