Showing posts with label celebrations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label celebrations. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Of Janmashtami, Malpuas, family tradition and more

Janmashtami (Janmashtomi) is one festival that we look forward to ever since the childhood days. It was the time we would have our house wrapped in some undefined joy of festivity. Janmashtami is celebrated all over India in the month of August/September and on the eighth day of the Hindu calendar. The birthday of lord Krishna is a very special occasion for the Hindus. They consider Him as their savior, philosopher, friend, lover and everything that is human, everything that is Godly.

The festival has transcended beautifully over the years and today I see it with much love since that is the time we are fondly reminded of our Dida (grandmother). She was a lady of strong integrity and was revered by one and all. She never forced the ritualistic regime. That probably is the reason that we have learned to imbibe the true fervor of the festivals in their entirety. It was never forced, it was never too much of something that we would have detested later in lives. We never detested it nor did we regret later. It was probably because of the values that were instilled upon us very subtly.  

We have grown up seeing the grandeur of family tradition while celebrating Janmashtami. At the wake of dawn, my grandma would immerse the idols of lord Krishna and Radha (his muse) a lavish milk and ghee bath, deck them with new clothes and ornaments and start the puja (religious rituals). The food offerings included assortments of seasonal fruits, our own home made sweets made for this occasion alone, Bhog – a special rice and pulses mixed food, rice polao, luchis (puris), kheer (condensed milk with rice), 8 different types of fries made from 8 different vegetables, other special vegetables side dishes, sweet and sour chutnis/ pickles and whole savory of sweets. Having said that, Janmashtami is never complete without Taler Bora and Malpua for these are supposedly lord Krishna's favorite sweets.

Our role was not more than just hopping around eating all the goodies. I particularly liked the occasion since I was not told to study that day, something that happened very very seldom. Things have changed since. We have grown up, my sisters have relocated to different countries, and my grandma is no more. But some things never change, I still live in the same old house and we still have the more than a century old Krishna and Radha idols along with the legacy that my grandma has left behind. Today i see my mother doing everything that she has grown up seeing her mother do, and I on my part still enjoy the Bhog, Malpua, Sweets etc. 


Coming to the special Janmashtami Bengali sweet savory, Malpua needs special mention. It is one savory that every other household celebrating the festival will prepare and needless to say every household has its own Malpua recipe. My mother has hers and I have mine. I have streamlined on the ingredients and made the recipe much easier and faster to cater to my taste and time.


What is Malpua

Malpua is an Indian delectable dessert much similar to sweet round pancake dipped in sugar syrup. It’s a gourmet’s delight. To prepare them you will need easily available kitchen ingredients. The ingredients will be available in almost every store round the corner.

Ingredients

Milk (8 cups)
Condensed milk (2 cups)
Water (2 cups)
Sugar (3 cups)
Fennel seeds (1 tablespoon)
Refined flour (3 cups)
Rose essence (1 teaspoon) - my addition
Clarified butter/ Ghee/ white oil (1 cups)
½ teaspoon of cardamom powder (optional)
Few strands of saffron strands (optional)
Silvered almonds and pistachios to garnish (optional)


Preparing the sugar syrup

Prepare a sugar syrup of single thread consistency. Add 1 tsp of rose essence and a few strand of saffron. Set aside to cool.


Preparing the batter for the Malpua

Bring the milk to boil and keep boiling till it reduces to half. Set aside and wait till it cools down.
Sieve the refined flour and add it slowly to the reduced milk. Keep stirring to avoid the lump formation. Stir well and stir continuously.

Add sweetened condensed milk. Stir to attain a smooth consistency of pancake.
Add fennel seeds and cardamom powder to the batter.


Process

Heat the ghee (clarified butter) on thick bottomed frying pan and pour the batter in a blob in the center to form small pancakes. Wait till the sides turn golden brown. Turn over and wait for the side to cook till it gets golden brown.

Dip the Malpuas in the rose sugar syrup and let it sip the juice.

Serving

Remove the Malpuas before serving and drain on a wire rack to drip the excess syrup. Dish them out delicately on a flat platter, garnish with chopped dry fruits.

And that's Malpua for you!

Note to yourself

With all those goodies, Malpua is, no doubt, a guilt food. Nonetheless you can indulge in it once in a while since it's irresistible. 

Image copyright: Mimpi

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Of fun, food, festive flamboyance and oranges



The end of festive season is marked by the fantastically poignant Bhai Phonta (Bhai Dooj), the brother’s well being ceremony and some not so happy countenances. The white cotton clear culuminbinous clouds calling in the Mahalaya is followed by the 6 day long Durga Puja, the 9 day long Navratti, Dussehra – the 10th day, the immersion of Durga idol, the Laxmi Puja etc., and a wait of 364 days, a full cycle of life

Sooner than we plunge into the hollowness, left by the immersion of festive fervor, we usher in the festival of lights, hope and dream. Diwali and Kali Puja have a delightful charm that’s hard to beat. Two days of fun, frolic, food and rollick pass just like that and we finally reach the last leg of the festive flamboyance. Bhai Phonta or Bhai Dooj is celebrated for the well being of the brothers. It’s not just a ritual but a beautiful emotional belonging that the brothers and sisters cherish lifelong. 

 The passing of the Kali Puja brings in a much saddening sweet tone and with the eternal sibling love we come to the end of the Autumn bonanza. There is already a nip in the air and as I unpack the shrugs and the jackets, a typical dry fragrance reminds me of golden yellow sun, cold creams and oranges. Winter has just arrived.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Prepare bengali fish curry in just a few steps

Bengali fish curry is distinctively delicious and an awe to many. It has typical bengali spices that are different from northern or southern Indian cuisines. The lovely aroma of the spices and the ingredients make bengali fish curry very special indeed.

The easiest way to start off with bengali fish curry is to get a few common ingredients in your kitchen. This includes:

Freshly done onion, garlic, ginger paste
Coriander, cumin, turmeric and red chili powder
Whole cumin seeds and garam masala dust
Freshly chopped parsley/ coriander leaves, green chilies
Oil, preferably mustard oil

These are the very basic ingredients rich in authentic bengali flavor and are of immense health benefits.

Clean and cut the fish (rohu, katla, boyal, tangra, pabda etc.)under running water. Season the fish with turmeric powder and salt and set aside. Fry the fish in mustard oil, keep aside. Add 1 tsp of cumin seeds for 1/2 sec and allow it to exude flavor. Quickly add the onion, garlic and ginger paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, little sugar and salt. Keep stirring till the blend starts to give out the oil. Sugar is for caramilization and color. Add the fish and add little water. Sprinkle 1 tsp of garam masala powder. Cook for 5-8 minutes and remove from the flame. Add fresh coriander leaves and green chilies for flavor and cover the lid again to retain the flavor.


Serve with steamed rice and fresh lime cuts and lots of love. Eat it slowly, appreciate, relish the authentic flavors of the bengali fish curry and love it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tips to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday


BBB (Better Business Bureau) has laid down a detailed memorandum to shop during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As I was reading through the guide, I thought it is relevant for anytime shopping. Shopping would be a better experience if we could follow most of the guidelines.The BBB recommends the following tips for shopping online this holiday season to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:


Start planning now. Many retail stores are already promoting Black Friday deals in ads and on their websites. Take time to print out or clip ads for items you are interested in buying to help outline your shopping day in advance.

Read the fine print on gift cards. These can be found on the back of the card and will let you know the terms and conditions for using the card. There could be limitations to in-store purchases or exclusions on certain items.

Ask about return policies. While many stores offer a 30-day return policy, it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift. Be sure to request gift receipts for all gifts.

Ask for gift receipts. When buying gifts, it’s important to obtain and keep receipts for all purchases in case the recipient needs to return an item. Many stores will provide gift receipts upon request, which allow returns but don’t show the recipient how much you paid for an item.


Protect your personal information. Check to see how your information may be used online. When shopping at stores, keep your card out of sight and make sure you get it back and safely in your wallet before you leave the store.

Check the site’s security settings and privacy policy. If the site is secure, its address should start with https://. You also may see a picture of a small closed lock in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Know the company’s refund and return policies. Are there restocking fees? Do you have to pay shipping costs on returns?

Do not rely on pictures of a product. Read the description and check model numbers, if applicable.

Be cautious of free or low-price offers. Often, free offers are followed by an open-ended enrollment in a program that automatically bills your credit card account. Before ordering anything online, make sure you click on and read all terms and conditions.

Pay with a credit card.If you suspect fraud or don’t receive your order, you can challenge the charge in the event of a dispute.

Obtain a tracking number for shipments. If you need the product before the holidays, find out when the seller intends to ship it and if possible, how it will be shipped.

Print out the order. Make sure you have the documentation page for online orders and save it until the order arrives.

Be aware of phishing. Don’t respond to emails that ask for your credit card or bank account number or other personal information. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming there is a problem with an order or account to lure you into revealing financial information.

(C): BBB

Monday, October 24, 2011

Make this Diwali more special with home made besan ka ladoo

Ladoo. One word speaks enormously of its implications on Indian food and culture. A small rounded ball loaded with goodies (read calories) is conspicuously significant in our lives. No Diwali is complete without ladoos. It is of special significance and is considered auspicious. Though ladoo is of various types- the motichoor ha laddo, sounth ka ladoo, aate ka ladoo, til ki ladoo, dal ka ladoo, nariel ka laddo, the most loved and relishing of them is the ‘ Besan Ka Ladoo’. Here is the easy to make recipe and this Diwali you must try your hands at it.

Heat ghee in a non-stick pan or thick bottomed wok. Add the gram flour and fry it on a low flame stirring continuously till it turns golden brown.Once it is browned, let it cool. Add powdered cardamom and sugar. Add chopped almonds and raisins and more goodies to suit your taste buds. Shape into ladoos and serve.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sugary Coconut laddus (narkel naru, nariel ka ladu) - A must for festivals in Bengal

The festive fervor never dies here in Bengal and so does the food. The pujas has just passed. The remains of pandal structures almost cleared by the infamous KMC, the festive newness still lingering and will soon usher in the Kali puja with eye catching lights and crackers. It is around the same time, in fact the same day that we will celebrate Diwali - the festival of lights as well. The fervor of Durga puja never dies. it merges with another festival to yet another festival. The festive circle continues and before realizing it's puja time again.

The puja time is beautiful with all its customs, rituals and magnanimity. Food, perhaps, is one of the factors that makes it more alluring. Bengalis are known for their way with the food, and today I will share an age old Bengali custom festival food. It's called 'nadu', 'naru' in our part of the country. It's actually coconut laddus where variant proportion of grated coconut, sugar, jaggery are being mixed to give a lovely texture and taste.

Some use only sugar, which makes it white and some jaggery, which makes it dark brown and some mix both to attain a different texture.

First you have to grate the coconuts finely. Mix it with sugar/ jaggery and stir is continuously in a thick bottomed wok on slow flame. Keep stirring till you attain a sticky texture. Remove from flame and quickly make round circles by moving portions of the mixture between your palms.

Making 'narus' are not as simple as it sounds. You have to be careful to shape off the coconut mixture while the thing is still hot. Be careful not to burn your hands. The nicely shaped 'narus' look beautiful and they taste really good. Go ahead and try it out and keep me updated.


Photo copyright: Mimpi

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roadside Masala Chai as good as Saffron Tea

Everyday I see a man sipping steaming hot tea on the roadside stall. The bus in which I travel invariably stops there and I contemplate the moment as much as the man does. The tea is served in semi wet earthen pot. Lots of milk, lots of sugar and lots of love in no specific order and you are served with the cheapest yet the most recharging of roadside teas. The stall man is eternally old. Ever since I have seen him he has been like that - frail, half-bent in tattered clothes and eternally happy. His defunct glasses, among many, are the first thing that would catch your attention.

He literally boils the milk, sugar and little dust tea in a tumbler that's never been washed off the stains. The boiling continues as the office goers and the morning walkers gather to the lovely aroma of the secret masala that the man never shares. The flavor is somewhat gingerish, cardamomish and something more and something different. The passengers are glued to the shop till the signal turns green when they are forced to take their eyes off the morning saga.

And as I watch the man and his insipid tea stall, I am reminded of the saffron tea, expensive and exquisite, that I had on one of the five star tea joints, many years back.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Five brown eggs and Happy Easter

Five Brown Eggs

Five brown eggs in a nest of hay,
One yellow chick popped out to play.
Four brown eggs in a nest of hay,
Another yellow chick cheep-cheeped Good day.
Three brown eggs in a nest of hay,
Crack went another one, Hip hooray.
Two brown eggs in a nest of hay,
One more chick pecked his shell away.
One brown egg in a nest of hay,
The last yellow chick popped out to say,
Happy Easter!


Poem (C): .nurseryrhymes4u

Photo (C): MouD