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

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bengali style ghugni and a nutritious nostalgia

Yesterday being Sunday was the day when I was supposed to wrap up my pending job from the week. In spite all  my effort to extend the sleep time, I woke up at seven in the morning. Life is so strange -
on working days I struggle to wake up in the morning but on holidays my eyes are wide open at the wee hours of dawn!

So, I woke up around five in the morning, lazed on the bed till seven and when I finally found myself sipping the first tea of the day it was already eight. It was around this time my mother found out that 'mashi', our cook, would not be able to come since she has to attend a mourning in the family. Such days are a gift! When she is on leave, mom is at her best delivering some extra ordinary moments with some lovely, delicious food. So, I was quite elated but on the second thought I decided to take up the cudgel in my own hand and proudly declared that I would cook myself.

We decided on a simple Bengali platter - teto dal (lentil with bitter gourd), kochur loti (a typical bengali vegetable), mach bhaja (fish fry), mutton curry and ghugni. Today, I will only talk about ghugni though. Ghugni is a delicious, easy to prepare, nutritious food made from white peas or matar seasoned with some enigmatic Indian spices. It's nutritious, filling, cheap and is extremely popular with the students and the office goers.

For me ghugni is more than just a food. It's a nostalgia! One of the fond remembrances was the times when we were served yellow matar ghugni, with chopped onions and fresh lime juice, in a friend's house. After a sprightly play session when our hunger pangs used to be at the top, we found ourselves delving in it like we had not eaten for days. This is not an exaggeration of any sort. We did not miss any opportunity to visit that friend in anticipation of having to eat it. On retrospect, it was more of a camaraderie than real likeness for the food. This is probably because it was not cherished in our home as much. We were always eating either poha or bread or parantha. It was much later, when we were all grown up and had developed our own tastes, that we started to like it. Meanwhile my mother also whetted her culinary skills and mastered her own recipe of ghugni.

Ghugni was extremely popular back then. The easy availability of the not so expensive ingredients had made it a household favourite. What is more interesting - it used to attain a ritualistic significance during the Bijoya Dashami day when we were suitably contained in the food. After the idol immersion of Durga, there used to be a surge in eating ghugni. As a part of Bengal's most revered ritual we visited the elders and touched their feet. They, in turn, would bless us with all their heart and give us money as a token of love. And then the most exciting part - they would serve us with bountiful nimki, nakel naru (coconut laddu) and ghugni! Although, most of us no longer engage in such sweet little things nowadays but remember those beautiful moments with much fondness. Now coming to the recipe:

What you will need for ghugni

White peas (matar)Ginger (chopped)
Garlic (chopped)
Onion (cut into cubes)
Green chili (chopped)
Tamarind pulp
Coriander leaves (chopped)
Potato (cut into half inches cubes) (optional)
Tomatoes (chopped) (optional)
Coconut slices (optional)
Turmeric powder

For ground spices (masala)

Cumin seeds whole
Coriander seeds whole
Dry red chili whole
Bay leaves
Garam masala powder (optional)

Soak the white peas over night or at least 5-6 hours. You may add a pinch of baking soda to help the peas swell nicely. In a pressure cooker add the soaked peas, the potato cubes, cut onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric powder and salt. Add double the water of the matar. Close the lid and wait for one whistle and keep it aside till the pressure releases.

In a wok put mustard oil. Add cumin seeds, bay leaves and allow it to sizzle. Pour the seasoning into the pressure cooker. Cook for 7-8 minutes more. The consistency should not be very thick or too loose.

Meanwhile heat the cumin, coriander seeds and the whole red chilies. Grind them nicely and store in an air tight container to retain as much flavour as you can. (You may add garam masala powder as well.)

Sprinkle 1 tea spoon of ground masala and 1 teaspoon of tamarind pulp in the ghugni, bring to boil and close the lid. Here, you can add garam masala powder.

Serve this delicious ghugni with some finely chopped onion and coriander leaves. Sprinkle a dash of masala and tamarind pulp on the top and enjoy it guilt free. I eat it with bread toast with generous spread of butter (The Big Fat Surprise) on it or just simple hand made roti (phulka). This is mostly the case, when I am very hungry and want to eat some sumptuous comfort food. It definitely suits my needs, fills my tummy and calms me down in times of cranky hungry moments. Some other times, you will find me eating it outside, with friends, along with some nicely done aloo tikka. So, do look out when you come across a ghugni stall in front of Vardaan Market in Camac street in Kolkata. Trust me, that place sells the most amazing ghugni in the city.

Thank you for visiting. Do try and let me know and also, share your own recipe.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A date with a rainy day

Today has been a non yielding day in more ways than one. No work (pre decided holiday which had nothing to do with the forecast), no chores, no writing and nothing at all precisely. All through the day I found myself utterly silly doing nothing but jibing on the long to do list that I was supposed to tick off by this weekend.

It all started in a happy note when I woke up to a beautiful toned down sun. My nephew turned twelve today and we were overwhelmed by the fact is he is already there. The sky gotten absolutely dark by seven in the morning. The wind was rapturous and almost swept the palm trees to the ground and sometimes on the other side to the wall.

I couldn't hold myself back and started musing as I used to as a child. 'Mashi', our cook, passed me the second cup of steaming black tea which I found still holding after many minutes. I was completely contained in the scene. An euphoria that failed me in recent times. I have developed this crafty little thing recently that helps me barter all the liberating things (very conveniently) with erratic work hours, back logs, inundations and other ilks. But on other occasions I find myself procrastinating on the same stuffs! It's funny how I have become an ace on making excuses these days.

So, several minutes later I decided to do something productive. This was when the phone rang and I indulged in an engaging chat session with my sister. Much recharging that was, I decided to clear off the remnants of the recent repair work and discovered a wee leak on the staircase faucet from the recent drilling of the electric work. This discovery (although it was actually 'mashi's') was the only tangible achievement of the day.

Around this time, the lovely little girl showed up. She is the daughter of our house help who accompanies her mother and sits through as her mother helps us with the chores. I fondled the little one for a while. Meanwhile the rain almost flooded the balcony and the plants were cleansed of all the grime. Loved the green color on them today. So supple, full and so green.

Rain never quite stopped today and I had to come inside as it started to get really dark by six in the evening. And to my surprise, my mom decided to prepare khichuri (a mix of rice and lentils in equal portion in mostly running consistency) - the ultimate rain food for the bengalis. What better end could have been to a perfect rainy day! Khichuri, dim bhaja (omlette), ghee (clarified butter), achar (pickles) and papad (poppadam)! Heaven!

To end this memoir I would like to share an open birthday note that I wrote to my nephew earlier in the day hoping that he would understand what I meant many years later when he actually grows up.

Dearest Golubabu,

Happy 12th birthday from all of us here. Did we tell that we love you so so much and will do so no matter what! (you are giggling, right?) 

The day you learn to forego minecraft, morse code, roblox etc. and understand that life is as good otherwise we will cherish your growing up more. You have such big heart. Aka and you are appreciative of nature and animals more than any of us in the family. Be kind, be curious. Grow your own plants at home, nourish them, touch them, see them grow each day. Kindness is beautiful and sharing your little acts will attract more such. Do share whenever and wherever and inspire us with your brilliant ideas.

Meanwhile here we are going to cherish your growing up like never before. 

Much love, 

Photo copyright: MouD

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Khichuri - the ultimate rain food for the bengalis

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.


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.


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.


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