Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cauliflower-peas curry

Few days back I suddenly found out one of my childhood friend through Facebook. She is now a resident of Germany, and settled there with her family, happily. Though I knew that she is living in Germany, but somehow we were not connected. She is a great artist, and we started chatting about painting, and eventually we landed in our magic kingdom of Childhood. We grew up in the same neighborhood, and we were great playmate. In the course of conversation, we both remembered one funny incident of doll making with clay in the park. In that doll making group there were my friend, her family maid, me, and few other girls. I forgot about the other girls. Anyway, first we both started with our idea, then her maid came and became the leader of that very doll making journey on that very evening. Whether we could make the doll ultimately or not I forgot that, but I can remember vividly, that I came back home covered with mud from top to bottom, and the consequence was not good. 
Those were the days! Those days were only full of fun without any tension. Every time we used do any mischief, we always faced some consequences, but we never tried to control ourselves.  
Now, we are in the back seat, it's the time for our kids to do those kind of mischief. 
Why I’m writing this funny story, because while cooking a simple cauliflower recipe, I was remembering that very incident. 
So, here comes the recipe.

This simple cauliflower-peas curry I found in an Indian recipe book. I just changed a little bit in the original recipe. It is very good with hot rice. Though, we usually eat with roti. 
Cauliflower florets (4-5)
One cup of shelled peas ( I used frozen)
One medium sized tomato
One very small onion (approximately one fourth cup chopped onion)
One tsp. ginger paste
Half cup yogurt
One inch cinnamon stick
One bay leaves
One tsp. cumin seeds
One tsp coriander seeds
A bunch of fresh coriander leaves
Two-three green chills, depending on how spicy you want to eat
Salt to taste
One tbsp. of oil

Cut the cauliflower florets into medium. Cut the tomato into big chunks. Cut the onion. In a small saucepan, add a little water, and boil onion, tomato until onion becomes little translucent. Meanwhile in a mixer make a paste of coriander, and cumin seed with little water. Take out the onion, and tomato pieces, and mix with the cumin and coriander paste, and together again make a fine paste. Heat oil in a pan in medium. Add the florets,and fry until slightly brown, stirring continuously. Take out the florets, and keep aside. In the same oil,add bay leaves, and cinnamon stick. As soon as you smell fine aroma, add ginger paste. Stir a little. Then add the spice paste. Mix well, let cook for three-four minutes, covering the pan. Stir it occasionally, to avoid scorching in the bottom. When the raw smell of the spices stops coming , add the florets, and peas. Add salt. Mix everything well. Cover the pan and let cook. In the meantime, in a bowl take half cup yogurt, and half cup water. Mix it well. Add the yogurt mixture in the curry. Slit the green chills and add in it. Cook until the florets are soft and tender. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot.
Serving size: 3

Monday, March 12, 2018

Thai noodle soup

I won’t say this exactly Thai noodle soup, as few ingredients were missing, like lemon grass. However, I had been craving so much for Thai food, I couldn’t resist but cook noodles  with whatever ingredients I had in my refrigerator. On the top of that I bought a can of coconut milk for cooking Thai food, but I didn’t use that. When I checked the expiry date of that can, I found I must finish that very soon. So, here comes my recipe.

Four-Five uncooked sausages
One big carrot
Few  asparagus (optional, as I had few in my refrigerator )
Few french beans
Half can coconut milk (approximately one cup)
Two kaffir lime leaves
One tsp. coriander
Two dry red chili (optional, I used a little turmeric powder to get the color. A little hack, huh?)
One inch ginger
Two big cloves of garlic
One medium sized onion
One tomato
Two cup vegetable stock
Salt to taste
One tbsp. of oil
Rice noodles
Cut the onion into halves. Keep one half aside. Cut the other half into big chunks. Peel ginger and garlic. In a mixer put coriander and a little water. Grind well, then add the chunks of onion, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, dry chili, and make a fine paste. Wash all the vegetables. Peel the carrot, trim, and cut into thin slices. Trim the asparagus from the bottom, and cut into about three inch long pieces. Cut the bean into three inch long pieces. Cut the other half of the onion into cubes, and separate the layers.  Slice the sausages. Meanwhile boil the noodles according to the direction on the package.
In a pan heat oil in medium. Add the sausage slices, fry well. Add all the vegetables, sauté lightly, and add the curry paste. Mix well.  Add salt, and cook in high heat, stirring continuously. Cook for about three-four minutes. Add the noodles, coconut milk, and vegetable stock. Mix, and bring into boil.Cook for few minutes. The vegetables should remain crunchy. Serve steaming hot.
Serving size: 3 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The tea- Chai

Indians love tea. The love for tea came to India more than two hundreds years ago when the British started colonizing India. Although they left more  than seventy years back, but many of their colonial culture still remain in India, Tea is one of them. Making tea is different in parts of India. It depends on the culture, the environment, the weather, the quality of tea. Tea is grown in three parts of India, one in Darjeeling, one in Assam, and last one in Nilgiri, Southern Part of India. 

The Darjeeling tea is famous for fruity flavor, whereas the Assam tea is for liquor. You can put milk and sugar in Darjeeling tea, but milk and sugar usually destroy the flavor of actual tea. So, usually Darjeeling tea is drunk as black, whereas Assam tea is drunk with milk and sugar.

I don’t know from when I started drinking tea. I think I had started drinking tea from a very tender age. When I was young I used to put a whole lot of milk, and sugar in my tea. My mom used to tell me, whether it is tea or sherbet. As I grow up taste has changed, tea making has also changed. Now my tea type has changed from sherbet to proper tea, without sugar and milk. However habit of drinking tea twice a day is still there, rather it has increased. 

In our home, both of us is great tea drinker. Our type of tea changes in the course of time. We used to drink tea with milk and sugar, before switching to liquor Darjeeling tea. In the morning we drink the pure Darjeeling liquor tea, and evening is for typical Indian Chai. 

As we both love pure Darjeeling tea, we had been searching for good quality tea for our morning time. A cup of good quality Darjeeling tea really boost up mind and energy in the morning. He had been searching for premium quality tea in the stores, as well as online, but he failed to get good quality within normal price range. Either the quality was not satisfactory, or the price was exorbitant. After getting tired of searching Mr. Man and one his close friend decided to launch a business of good quality tea from Darjeeling tea estates. Living for ten years with a headstrong person, I knew that it would be better to join the band wagon than to pursue him to refrain his mind. 

So, we started studying about tea, and searching how to import Darjeeling tea. Last time when went to India, we visited many places for this very reason. After working almost for one year Mr. Man and his friend has finally launched a tea company in 2018. Currently they are selling both organic and conventional/regular Darjeeling Tea online.  I request to all my tea lover friends to visit their website or, Facebook page. Currently they are selling within US only. Please check, and you will know more about types of tea, brewing of tea and their business. Above all you can get fine quality of Darjeeling tea if you purchase from their online store. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Runny Chicken Curry

Sunday was not a day for me. Actually, all started from Friday, and Saturday, was the busiest , craziest, and funniest day ever. My son went to participate Odyssey of the Mind. It was long day. Early in the morning I took him to swim class. Just after coming back, within no time we got ready, and gulped down our breakfast. In the meantime one of his teammates mom came to my place to pick us. Then, we four headed towards the high school where the competition was going to take place. On Friday the team practiced for the last time. The weather was not all in our favor. On the top of the that they were didn’t want to rehearse anymore. They were exhausted. We, the volunteer, and our coaches were also exhausted. On the top of that those little kids were arguing so much, that it was really difficult for us to keep patience. I was not at all hopeful for the competition. I think in this age, the kids are very rigid, they don’t want to listen to others. However, surprisingly they did excellent in their long term problem. We were very hopeful that would make it to state level. Unfortunately they came in 4th position. All of us were little disappointed. Anyway, they can compete again in next year. After all competitions, and award ceremony we came back home at night, tired like a dog. I thought of sleeping late in the morning, but to my utter disappointment I woke up early in the morning. I thought of having rest with a cup of tea, but that plan also failed, as my son woke just after me. I felt a sharp pain in my back, due to all exhaustion, and I was not in the mood to cook. My luck again betrayed me, as there was no leftover in the fridge. So, I decided to cook something easy and quick, and I came up with this recipe. Believe me, it was no good with steaming rice.


One pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh
One medium sized onion
One medium sized tomato
Three-four garlic cloves
One big potato
One cinnamon stick
One bay leaves
One tbsp. oil
Salt to taste
A pinch of turmeric powder

Wash and peel the potato.Cut the potato into cubes. Wash and cut the onion into thin slices. Chop the tomato. Peel the garlic cloves, and make a coarse paste in a mortar and pestle. Heat oil in a pan in medium. Add the potato. Sprinkle little salt, turmeric powder. Fry the potato cube until they are slightly brown. Take out the potato. Keep aside. In the same oil, add cinnamon stick, and bay leave. When fine aroma starts coming, add garlic and onion.Mix well.Fry for few minutes stirring occasionally. Cover the pan, and let the pinion cook. Keep an eye on it, to avoid scorching at the bottom. Then add chopped tomato. Mix well. Let it cook, until tomato become mushy. Cut the chicken thigh into small pieces. Add the chicken pieces. Sprinkle salt, and turmeric powder. Mix everything well. Cook for 10 minutes, covering the pan. Add the fried potato pieces. Add one and half cup of water. Cook until both chicken ,and potato are tender. 
Serving size: 3

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Love from friends

The gray colored uniform, the white ribbons on the braid, the black school shoes, suddenly find themselves resting on a corner of the few homes on a fine afternoon. The owners of them don’t need them anymore. Their service is no longer needed. The owners of them are leaving behind, and going to join the outer world. They are not little kids anymore. The running around in the huge playground of the school don’t attract them anymore. They are going to build their career.  Their extended childhood is giving them a farewell, with a smile ,but tears in eyes. The childhood knows that in future they will search me , ponder over and ever in life to get me back. As of now they have colorful dreams in their eyes. They desperately want to get their grown-up life. However, the childhood knows they want me back after twenty years, when they will totally involve in their grown up life. 

This is done by my friend R


One more gift

Yes, I’m talking about our last day of grade 10, when we were leaving school and going for higher studies. Some of us stayed back in the same school, for their grade 11 and 12. Some joined different school, and some of them joined in different colleges. Now the system has changed , no college offers 11-12 grade course. Anyway, that was almost twenty five years ago. 

Now all of us have family, responsibility, jobs, and no time to think about ourselves. We are just too much preoccupied with life. Still, when we sit back a little in the middle of piles of tasks, we all, for sure wish to go back to those days. Here comes the good side of social media, when slowly, we got back most of our school friend. We are really blessed that we could connect almost all the friends with whom we can share our everyday life, our joy and sorrow, our ups and downs. 

After social media did its magic, we try to meet together anytime to reminisce our old days. For few hours we can go back to our childhood. We can get back those joy, those laughter for few hours. Though I cannot join all the meet, but I surely join them once a year. Usually all of them try to come to meet me, and we call it mega-meet. So, past few years we usually meet when I visit India. I think that meeting every year is the most exciting part of my annual visit. Almost through out the year we make plans, then abandon plans, then re-plan for my much awaited visit. 


Isn’t it amazing to meet the friends who we last saw in school uniforms , again now seeing in there adulthood? Before going in last summer I asked them what they want from, and I got only one answer, “Your presence”. That unconditional love always overwhelms me. The love which I got 25 years back from free those willed kids, the love remained unchanged till now. There is no doubt in it. That very love always drives to create some small gifts for them. It is really beyond any description how much I feel happy and blessed  when I can see the those faces lit up like a child with little gifts from me. So, last year I made some pouches for them, and in return they showered me with so many gifts, just unimaginable. One day jokingly I asked one of my friends to give me a beautiful neckpiece she was wearing , and she gave when we meet for the fist time during my visit to India.

When I went to India last year, that was the pick of the summer, and was unbearably hot. Still, we didn’t change our plan. When we meet, we usually meet in  our traditional attire, sari. In hot summer days it is really difficult to wear 5 yard long sari, but they didn’t say no to me, as it was my wish.
The meeting was extremely fun-filled and refreshing. We talk about our schooldays, how we used to spend those, the funny things happen in those days. When the two hours passed by, we didn’t realize. The clocked ticked 6 in the evening, and again we came to the present adulthood, and went back to do the responsibilities we had. 

These ar from me..

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Chicken curry

The evenings always make me happy. After finishing all chores I sit down on the carpet of the living room with a big mug of tea, the Indian Chai in the early evening. It always gives me some inner peace. If somedays when I cannot do the same, I feel restless from inside. 
It was not exception few days back, when I sat on the carpet with the big mug, and the papers which my son brought back from school. I could hear the howling wind for inside. As I already drew the curtain, I didn’t know what exactly mother nature had been doing at that time. In the meantime I went to bed room, and looked outside through the bay window. I just stood there for few minutes, the picturesque view of the sky completely captivated me. It was just like huge blue-black umbrella had been covering the entire neighborhood. I was standing there, and thinking the childhood days when we used to enjoy the “Kalboishakhi”. 
“Kalboishkahi” is a type of sudden storm, usually comes in the April in Bengal, India. It always happens before the onset of summer, when the temperature starts soaring, and people feel restless. It always happens in the evening. All of a sudden the sky becomes dark, the cold wind starts blow, and then comes the rain, which usually stays for few minutes to half an hour , sometimes more. That sudden rain always make the weather cool, and let people sleep peacefully in the night. Now time has changed, we snick into air-conditioned room to get peaceful sleep. 
In the month of April, when sun starts showing no mercy, the mercury starts soaring up, we used to stare at the sky in the afternoon, whether the cloud had been accumulating on the Northeast direction (Ishan Kon, Ishan=northeast, Kon=angle or direction). Cloud is accumulating in that particular direction in the afternoon means, rain is certain.

Anyway, with that beautiful sky, we need some scrumptious food inside. So here comes the chicken curry in milk.

Two pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I used boneless breast), skinned and cut into medium sized pieces
Three fourth cup milk
One medium sized onion
One big tomato
Two-three cloves of garlic
One tsp. ginger paste
One tsp. cumin powder
One tsp. coriander powder
One tsp. garam masala powder
One tsp. paprika 
Salt to taste
Pinch of turmeric
One tbsp. , and half tsp. of oil
coriander leaves for garnishing
Cut the onion into big chunks. Peel the garlic cloves. Make a smooth paste of one-fourth cup milk, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander powder. Wash the chicken pieces. Take big bowl. Marinate the chicken with the paste, and salt. Keep aside for two hours. In the meantime cut the tomato into big chunks and make a smooth paste.
Take a pan. Heat one tbsp. of oil in medium. Fry the chicken pieces, and keep aside. Do not throw away the extra marination paste which is left in the bowl. In the same pan, heat another tsp of oil. Add garam masala powder, paprika, and just mix it. Add the tomato puree, and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add the left over marination, and again for two three minutes. Stir well, to avoid scorching at bottom of the pan. Then add the chicken pieces, add slat and turmeric powder. Mix everything well, and let it cook covering the pan. If you need add half cup or more water. Cook in medium heat until chicken pieces are tender, stirring occasionally. When the chicken is done, add rest of the milk, stir a little, and switch of the stove. Serve hot with steaming rice.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Mixed vegetables curry in butter

Rrrriinngg!!! The alarm went off! Ugh!!! Time to wake up. I peeked from inside the blanket, it was still pitch dark outside. However, it was Monday morning, so, on way to stay in the bed. When I woke up, I tried to peek outside through the curtain, but couldn’t see anything. At least the roofs were not white with frost. I sighed in relief, at least the out side was not that much cold. In the mean time Mr. Man woke up, and declared it is not a cold day. I was delighted, thinking that I need not to shiver while dropping kiddie to school. As Sun God started showing his soft light I draw back the curtains, and reluctantly put my gaze outside. It had been raining. Ugh! 
The rain couldn’t delight me in the morning, though we need rain. Actually I had to shop some essential items. Anyway, after dropping him I went shopping. The shopping cart, bags, then umbrella, how many things I can handle? But, this is life. I did all the jobs, and came back home. As soon as I stopped my car in the driveway sun gave me toothy grin! 
It was my today’s morning. On the positive note I finished all the scheduled job today. Now it is the time for a delicious recipe. *smile*
This mixed vegetable with gravy is a very tasty Indian curry  cooked in butter which tastes the beast with fried flat bread.  However, it also tastes good with rice. I changed a little bit from the original recipe which I read in an Indian cookbook, as everything was not available in my kitchen. I’m writing my version of the curry.

Four-Five medium Cauliflower florets 
Two medium sized carrots
A bunch of french beans
Half green bell pepper
One medium sized onion
One cup shelled green peas 
Two-three cloves of garlic
One large tomato
Pinch of turmeric powder
Half tsp. cumin powder
One tsp. garam masala powder (you can get it in any Indian Store)
Half cup milk (full cream preferred, but I generally use 2% reduced fat milk)
One tbsp. butter
One tbsp. oil
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish
Wash the onion, and tomato. Cut into big chunks. Peel the garlic cloves. Take a small saucepan, add a little water, approximately the three tablespoon. Heat the water into medium, add tomato, onion, and garlic cloves. Boil until the onion becomes translucent. Let the mixture cool down. Meanwhile , trim and peel the carrots, trim the brand, and cut into two inch long pieces. Make a smooth paste of tomato, onion, and garlic. Heat oil in a pan in medium. When the oil becomes hot, add butter. In the oil-butter mixture add cumin seeds.  When the seeds start crackle, add carrots, beans, and mix well. Cover the pan, and let cook. After five minutes, add the cauliflower florets, and green peas. Mix well, and cook for another five minutes. Keep the heat in medium. Then add the puree, mix well, cover the pan, and let cook for another five minutes. Then add cumin powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, salt. Mix very well, and cook for few minutes, covering the lid. Add one cup of water, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add milk, and cook in low heat, until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. The gravy should be thick, not runny. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.  Serve hot with paratha (fried Indian fly bread) or rice.

Serving size: 3