Tuesday 26 April 2016

Bel Sherbet

I have never been a fan of experimenting with beverages hot or cold. In Summers I love my ready made sherbets and find comfort in adding them to my glass of water. The maximum I go is making a glass of lemonade. So you get the picture, it has never been beyond all that. No wonder I have almost no recipes under that section in my blog.
But this year, something happened and I do not know what but I am suddenly super interested in Summer coolers. I have been making a new one every day and am so enjoying it that I decided to do an Instagram series on the same. You may check by clicking on this link .
Frankly speaking, I have never liked the Bel sherbet much. I remember my Chachaji who I have always fondly called 'Uncleji' used to bring this fruit every Summers and make the sherbet at home. I must have tasted it but never liked it. As we grow old, a lot of things change. Our perspectives, our ideas, our tastes, they all keep evolving and so perhaps I had the desire to experiment with it. Both Vishal and me enjoyed the prominent woody flavor of the sherbet. While Vishal hates any salt in his juices/sherbet, I enjoyed mine with a sprinkle of rock salt.

Ingredients :
  • 1 Bel/bael/wood apple
  • 1 cup water or more
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar (adjust according to the sweetness of the fruit)
  • rock salt, optional

Procedure :
Crack open the hard shell of the bel fruit.
Scoop out the inside with a spoon and take it out in a bowl.
Put some water in it and let it sit or 5-10 minutes.
Squeeze the pulp with your hands or a spoon.
Strain the mixture.
Add sugar and adjust water, adding more if required.
Add rock salt and stir well.
Chill it before serving.

Happy Bel sherbet relishing

Sunday 24 April 2016

Gond Katira(गोंद कटीरा) -Summer Cooler

Summers have hit us with a big bang. Calcutta has never seen such scorching Summers with temperature soaring to 40 degrees almost everyday. Schools have changed their timings so that little ones do not have to bear the brunt of the harsh Summer wave. We are constantly hydrating ourselves with water and sherbets. AC has become inevitable and we are trying to spend maximum time indoors.
The Summers of my childhood wasn't so unbearable. Summers meant extra bath times, eating ice creams everyday, drinking water from the earthen ware called the  तौड़ा in Punjabi, stealing ice from the freezer, wearing those white malmal super soft frocks and  the one that I fondly remember-lying under the fan with mom's wet dupatta on top (coz we did not have or require AC then) The air that would pass the wet dupatta would become little cold and soothe us. Summers also meant travelling to Punjab for vacations where the heat was much more  and enjoying the cooler culture there. How I would love the smell of the wet khuskhus sheet behind the coolers.
Summers have changed now or perhaps we have become less tolerant. We are getting used to depending too much on gadgets and technology and forgetting the nature's way of dealing with things. Too much tampering with the nature is causing the present environmental crisis all over. We can only hope and pray that we are able to control it before it is all lost.
Coming back to Summers, this time I have been extra interested in the drinks that cool us. Come to think of it, every region has their specific drink to beat the heat. Punjab is a state which bears extreme Summers and Winters and therefore has food specific to beat it . For Summers, we have the Lassi's, both salty and sweet and an interesting drink called Gond Katira. In English it is called Tragacanth Gum which is basically a natural gum obtained from the dried sap of several species of Middle Eastern legumes. It has both cooling and heat producing properties to the body. When soaked in water, it is an excellent coolant whereas when fried in oil, it has heat producing characteristics. It is used extensively in Panjiri which is given to women post delivery for internal healing. In Summers it is soaked in water overnight which swells to three times its volume and is then used as a drink to cool down the body.


Ingredients : For individual serving

  • 1 tsp Gond katira/ Tragacanth gum 
  • a glass of chilled milk
  • 1-2 tbsp rose syrup
  • Sugar as required(optional)
Procedure : 
Soak gond katira in water overnight.
It will swell up to almost three times.
Wash it well with water and strain it. You may keep it in fridge till further use.
Take rose syrup in a non stick pan and reduce it on low flame for few minutes till it gets thick.
Dip the rim of the glass of choice on the thickened rose syrup.
Swirl the remaining rose syrup inside the glass on the edges all around.
Take 2 tbsp of soaked gond katira in the glass and pour cold milk over it.
Sugar can be added to the milk before pouring, in case you want it sweeter otherwise the sweetness from the rose syrup should be enough.
Garnish with some chopped rose petals.
Serve chilled.

Happy Summer beating with Coolers

Saturday 23 April 2016

Product Review~Snalthy

One fine afternoon, I received a mail from Snalthy asking me if I would like to sample their products and review them. The name intrigued me and a visit to their website revealed that Snalthy is short for Snacks made healthy. I checked their list and found quite an impressive array of products. My affirmation led to the products getting delivered within few days. 
One of the prime reasons why I jumped into reviewing their products is the fact that at one point of my life I was struggling hard to lose all the baby fat I had accumulated over the years and was experimenting the eat-healthy, frequent snacking formula. I was in hostel then, midway through my Physiotherapy course, that the enlightenment occurred. I decided I had lived the fat-girl life enough and started on a religious exercise regime. I eliminated all sorts of junk food and started to make the right choice in eating. It was a little tough journey as I had to constantly struggle through but I happily achieved it with my perseverance. 
The product made me remember those days and I was wishing if only someone had come with it way back then. 
Snalthy was the brainchild of three friends who came up with the idea of providing a product which has a threefold property of :
a) Using no Refined / Bleached flour (Maida), White sugar, Hydrogenated fat (Vanaspati), Baking powder, Baking soda, Emulsifiers, Artificial colours, Artificial flavors, etc.
b) Providing snacks in limited calorie single serve pack ensuring freshness in every bite
c) Using baking, roasting, toasting methods rather than the frying method. 

Snalthy offers wide varieties of healthy, tasty, nutritious with all natural ingredients and zero added chemicals snacks ranging from cookies, bars, Indian snacks, sweets, rusk, baked fruit chips & fruit sticks, bread sticks, breakfast, dry fruits and nuts. Snalthy also have snacks for special needs like obesity, low sugar, grandparents, sports etc. Snalthy packs can fit in kids snack box, backpacks, car dashboards, travel pack, office worktables and lots more.

I received 12 packs of their products which was an assortment from their huge list. 
The first one that I opened was from their Rusk section called the Mixed nuts rusk. Mini bite sized rusks with no apparent taste or texture of the nuts disappointed me a bit. 

The products from their Baked chips section had five varieties of Salted potato chips, an interesting Orange banana sticks, salted apple sticks, garlic breadsticks and my favourite amongst the entire lot crispy Mexican chips. 

Their chips are crisp and a yummy baked alternative to the regular fried ones. I particularly loved the Mexican ones because of their perfect flavouring and the orange banana ones for their newness. 

Under the cookies section, I received 2 , Cocoa almond and almond cookies.  
Both are yummy and flavourful and the best part is that you can taste the cane sugar added instead of the refined one. 

Their crackers section had 2 varieties, the spinach and methi crackers.
I found them both a little bland for my taste buds but yes they are crisp and you can make out the usage of wheat flour in their ingredients. 

In their Bars section, I found their sesame and raisin bar delicious but their caramel toffee is a bit chewy and sticks to your teeth

Snalthy has an all over India free delivery and to my experience they are very prompt in their customer relations. The products have a little steep price tag with everything at a Rs 189 figure. Therefore for the consumer to buy a pack of cookies which has just about 4 tiny pieces or baked chips which are just about a handful is a little alarming. 
But the thing to remember is that you will be paying for product which uses only whole wheat flour and cane sugar which are healthier substitutes and even their mode of cooking is healthier. And you have to remember this while tasting most of their products otherwise you will find them not upto the mark. 

I wish Snalthy all the best for their endeavor and may they continue to bring in healthier and safer snack options to people.  
Visit their website to know more details : http://www.snalthy.com

Happy Snacking

Friday 8 April 2016


April heralds the welcoming of new year all over India. It is amazing to see a true example of unity in diversity through the new year celebrations all over. The essence of the celebrations are more or less the same everywhere. 
Celebrated with different names, it basically marks the beginning of the harvest season and arrival of Spring.

It is called Vaisakhi in Punjab, Vishu in Kerala, Ugadi in Karnataka and Andhra pradeshChaitti in Himachal Pradesh, Mahavishuva Sankrant in Orissa, Navreh in Kashmir, Cheiraoba in Manipur, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Rongali Bihu in Assam.
Poila Boishakh is celebrated in West Bengal which literally means first day of the first month. An auspicious time for marriages and beginning of all business activities, it is celebrated with traditional dressing and food. 
Born and brought up in Kolkata, I have had a mixture of celebrations with each festival. To me, Poila Boisakh means the rustle and bustle at Chaitra sales, cleaning up the house spic and span, throwing away old unwanted things and bringing in new stuff. No Bengali festival is complete without their elaborate meals and it is the perfect time of the year to visit eateries serving traditional Bengali thali's-the amish and niramish ones. People are seen jostling in their favourite sweet shops to buy the most coveted mishti for the celebrations. Each shop burns the midnight oil to create sweet delicacies which are devoured with much fun and fervour.
Poila Boisakh is also incomplete without the traditional dressing. It is so wonderful to see the passionate and artistic community of Bengalis stick to their roots and wear traditional dresses. So while women don their favourite sarees, the men are seen with their Panjabi or dhoti. Even the little ones are seen donning traditional dresses. 
Bengali is one of the sweetest known language and throughout the day it is lovely to hear people wishing each other in the melodious 'Shubho Noboborsho'. 
An important part of new year is the cleaning of the house. It is Spring cleaning time of the year where old unwanted things are thrown away, houses are painted, nook and corners cleaned of dirt and pests. This is time of the year when the Summer has just entered the city and humidity is also a bit high hence cockroaches sneak out from their hiding and make their way into our homes, crawling in through the dirty drain pipes bringing in all the disease causing bacteria with them. The most easiest and sure shot way to get complete rid of them is Godrej LAL HIT, with its deep reach nozzle, it is able to get rid of the cockroaches hiding in your kitchen sink outlet, under the gas cylinder or under your fridge. This ensures a hygienic environment for the family which is of utmost importance, esp during Poila Boisakh where we are eager to cook the quintessential and delicious Payesh. From this Poila Boisakh onwards, make it a point while cleaning your kitchen to use Godrej LAL HIT in the places where cockroaches hide frequently-like sink outlets, under the fridge and gas cylinder and around the dustbin. 
I planned to try my hands on a mishti for this new year and have come up with Rasmadhuri where a rasagulla log is sandwiched with a saffron infused sandesh and then covered with the same. In the essence of the traditional festivity, I have placed the mishti in banana leaf wrappers. 

Ingredients : Yields about 6 in number
  • 500 ml cow's milk (or full cream milk)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice/a pinch of citric acid
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • a tsp each of chopped almonds, pista and raisins
  • few strands of saffron in little warm milk
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
Procedure : 
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. 
Hang the muslin cloth to drain excess water for half an hour. 
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 cylindrical shapes out of 1/3 rd of the kneaded chenna and keep remaining aside.

Make sugar syrup by boiling 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cup water in a wide mouthed pan. 
Lower the log shaped chenna very gently in the sugar syrup.
Let them simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or till they begin floating on the surface. 
Strain out the chenna cylinders and reserve for further use.

Alternatively, take sugar and water in a pressure cooker and as the syrup comes to a rolling boil, lower the chenna cylinders. Put the lid on and cook on medium heat for 2 whistles. Allow the heat to dissipate naturally and take out the cooked chenna cylinders.

Divide the remaining kneaded chenna again into two. To one part add  1 tbsp powdered sugar, chopped nuts and saffron infused milk. 
Cut the chenna cylinders into half and sandwich with the nuts and saffron milk added chenna.

Place these sandwiched logs in Banana leaf wrappers.

Add 1 tbsp of milk and 1 tbsp powdered sugar to the 1/3rd remaining chenna and mix it well. Add more milk if required to get a diluted consistency. Fill the banana leaf wrappers with this diluted chenna. 
Refrigerate for it to set.
Garnish with  saffron coloured streaks on top and a pista. 

Banana leaf wrapper can be made very easily at home. Here is a picture tutorial. 

Disclaimer : This post is in association with Godrej LAL HIT.

Shubho Noboborsho

Poila Boisakh and some must haves to complete the celebration

It is time of the year to usher in merrymaking and welcome the first day of the new year in Bengali calendar, celebrated as Poila Boisakh. The passionate and artistic community of Bengalis celebrate this day with lots of élan-energy, style and enthusiasm. This new day of the new year is celebrated with a mix of old traditions and modern energy. 
Here are my 5 pointers to make your Poila Boisakh a memorable one

Decorating home
Perfect time of the year to get rid of old unwanted things and make space for new stuff. 
Go traditional with white Alpona/Alpana motifs on the floor using a paste of rice instead of colours. Create a traditional design to welcome all auspicious things to your home.
Adorn your vase with some fragrant flowers like Rajnigandha.
Jazz up your home decor with some kantha/batik cushion covers/ mats. 

Shopping fun -
Indulge in some shopping in the amazing Chaitra sales this time of the year which is the most awaited discount sale in the city.
Shop for new clothes for yourself and your family and also some home furnishings. 

Dress right -
The call of the day is to dress traditional. Don your pretty sarees and wear a beautiful neckpiece with long earrings.
Men must don a traditional attire too and therefore dress in batik or kantha Panjabi or a dhoti. 

Greetings -
The day is celebrated by touching feet of elders and getting their blessings for the new year. 
Exchange 'Shubho Noboborsho' wishes with near and dear ones along with a box of the quintessential Sandesh or your favourite Bengali sweet to complete the celebrations. 

Spic and span Kitchen - 
In the essence of the new year celebrations, ensure that your kitchen is clean and insect free. 
One of the biggest problems is complete riddance of cockroaches and nothing works better than Godrej HIT. With its deep reach nozzle, it ensures a no cockroach zone in every nook and corner. 

Nothing better than welcoming the new year with good health and high spirits. Shubho Noboborsho to everyone. 

Know more about the product :
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/HITkpkd/?fref=ts
Twitter : https://twitter.com/HITKPKD
Order online here : http://www.amazon.in/HIT-Crawling-Insect-Killer-CIK/dp/B00XORDU9E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459950917&sr=8-1&keywords=lal+hit

Disclaimer : This post was written in association with Godrej HIT.   

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Rajma 'Massi wale'

Memories of my childhood are flooded with those sleeper class train journey's to Kotkapura, Punjab and the non stop fun I had with my cousins. We were together from morning to night playing, fighting, irritating each other and making the most of those few days of togetherness. It repeated every single year for a long part of my childhood and then we all grew up and went different directions. 
I have lovely memories of meal times as getting together for the family meant some special indulgence. My mamaji would always insist on dal-chawal-chokha (Dal, rice and mashed potatoes) made by my mother which was a real treat for all of us. Surprisingly, even though we are Sikh's, I remember both sides of my families relishing more on everyday vegetarian meals. No wonder I still love a simple vegetarian meal than a non-veg one. 
One such must dish during the holidays used to be my Massi's Rajma. My mom grew up with 2 sisters and 2 brothers and my Jinder Massi was the eldest of all. Jinder Massi, as I remember her from my childhood was always full of patience, love and understanding. She is such a warm hearted person who is full of understanding and love. I remember, she would deal with crisis with such composure. She as my cousin would call is Ma jaisi and therefore our Massi. 
This particular recipe is a little unconventional as she likes to use a little turmeric which is otherwise not used in Rajma recipes. The masala is also cooked in a different way where you will not require a grinder. Unlike some traditional recipes where Rajma is cooked and then added to the masala, here the Rajma is cooked in the masala so that it seeps into the beans. 
I simply love to pair my bowl of Rajma with boiled rice and the sweet tomato chutney from Bengal.

Recipe courtsey : My adorable Jinder Massi

Ingredients : For 2-3 servings
  • 1 cup rajma (red kidney beans), preferably Jammu variety (soaked overnight) 
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5-6  whole cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 " ginger, grated
  • 2 tomatoes, grated
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • salt as required
  • 1 tsp garam masala 
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Procedure : 
Take a pressure cooker and put chopped onions, garlic cloves and grated ginger with a splash of little water. Close the lid and let it cook for 3-4 whistles.
Let the steam escape naturally. 
Open and mash them up with the back of a ladle.
Put it back on flame and let the water evaporate completely. 
Put oil in the pressure cooker and now cook the mixture till it separates oil (for about 8-10 minutes) on medium flame. 
Add grated tomatoes and let it cook for 5 more minutes. 
Add turmeric powder and salt and cook for 2 minutes.
Now add the drained Rajma and cook it for another 5 minutes. Stir in garam masala. 
Add 3 cups of water and close the lid. 
Let it cook on high flame for 2 whistles and then reduce the flame to low and cook for another 20-25 minutes. 
Let steam escape naturally. 
Remove the lid and adjust salt.
If gravy is too thin, put it back on flame and reduce to your requirement. 
Garnish with coriander leaves. 
Pair it with roti/parantha or rice.

Happy Rajma relishing


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