Mum's end to tiffin box tantrums......

Friday, 26 August 2011

Chilly mushroom- the amazing recipe

Mushroom is a amazing vegetarian source of protein. The use of button mushroom has been famous in the 17th century in Europe and later spread to USA, Canada , S.E. Asia and India. Mushrooms can be easily cultivated and produced in large scales to meet the food demand of developed and developing countries. Chilly mushroom is a wonderful combination of mushroom with tasty ingredients to attain a tantalizing taste and flavor that will enthrall any food lover. Quite easy a preparation, and filled with essential nutrients , it's ideal for the nourishment of growing children. Let's see the method of preparation.

Ingredients: ( for 4 people)
Button Mushroom (400 gms.),
Onions ( 2 medium sized grated),
Tomatoes ( 2 medium sized grated),
Garlic ( 4 cloves chopped into pieces),
Green chilies ( 3-4 pcs. immersed in vinegar for 30 mins.),
Capsicum ( 2 medium sized 
White vinegar ( 2 teaspoons),
Dark soya sauce ( 4 teaspoons),
Corn flour (1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon of black pepper powder.
Mixture of tomato and green chilly sauce( 2 teaspoons)
Spring onions (2 pcs. , chopped from the white part only)
Salt as per taste.

Procedure:  Wash the button mushrooms with water and boil in water for 5 minutes and remove the water. This will neutralize the effect of germs and harmful bacteria in it. Cut the button mushrooms into equal slices. Heat oil in a container and dash the vegetables - onions, tomatoes, capsicum , garlic pieces into it. Cook till the vegetables becomes soft. Add the chopped button mushrooms into it. Mix well with the help of a spatula . When the mushrooms mixes well with other ingredients and the essence  of garlic dominates , it's time to add soya sauce to it. The addition of soya sauce contributes a nice color to the dish. The mixture of sauces  (tomato and chilly)can be added next. 1/2 cup of water could be added so that the mushroom becomes soft and a gravy is prepared. Corn flour in required amount should be mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and added with the dish. This will give the dish a thick, glossy appearance and the gravy will be prepared. Garnish with chopped spring onions (cut in a rounded fashion) and black pepper . Remove in a serving bowl and it's ready to romance with your tongue. 

Chilly mushroom can be enjoyed with Thai rice sticks, chowmein , vegetable rice. In a time span of 30 minutes this amazing , mouth watering dish will be prepared and it's high time to enjoy with your family and friends. Enjoy this excellent magic item and cherish each and every moment of  life.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Kisumu- a beautiful Kenyan destination

Kisumu  is a port town situated in Western Kenya. Having a population of around 300K , it's the third largest city of Kenya and the biggest city of Western Kenya. It took me about 3 1/2 hrs. to reach Kisumu from Nakuru by road. From Nairobi it could be about  5 hrs. by road. This city was founded in the year 1901 , as the main inland terminal of the Uganda railway. The word Kisumu is derived from a word 'sumo' which means a place of barter trade.  The way to Kisumu from Nakuru was really ideal for car transport , with lots of greenery around, local restaurants and stops where local vendors were selling farm fresh vegetables. The journey was a comfortable one.
Kisumu town
The most commonly available modes of transport in Kisumu town is the  boda boda or a motorized vehicle. This is the most economic means of travel.  The places of interest in Kisumu includes- the Kibuyu market,  Kisumu Museum , Impala sanctuary , bird sanctuary , Hippo point , Kit Mikaye rock and Ndere Island National Park. This town was identified by the British explorers in the early 1898 as an alternative railway terminus and port for the Uganda  railway.

Kit Mikaye  rock

The famous Kit Makayi Rock is situated on the Kisumu Bondo road towards Bondo. The word mit Mikayi means 'stones of the first wife' in Luo langauge. Local stories say that it is the depiction of weeping of the first wife 'Miyaki' , whose husband took a second one. This rock site is popularly called the 'weeping rock' and is a very famous place of pilgrimage for the adherents of Legio Mara sect.

The importance of Kisumu lies in the fact that it's a port town and a trade route between Southampton and Cape town. The famous lake Victoria is the fishing ground and the bread earning basket of fishermen. The most easily available fish is the Tilapia.   Kisumu has got amazing accomodations ,  4 star hotels with all sort of  amenities are present here. Starting from 5,000 -15, 000 KSH per  person /night , Kisumu has got good accomodations and arrangements for visitors.

Shore line of Kisumu
Sunset in Kisumu

After the East African break up in the 1980's  and the late 1990's Kisumu port was practically dormant with little or no merchandising passing through it.

With lot of diversities in demographies , Kenya seems to be a combination of business, natural beauty , wild life , tourism centre. The strong British dominance is still felt over here and the development done by the British dwellers over here in the pre-independence era , and the attempt to improvise Kenya from all angles really deserve mention.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Pav bhaji [Spicy vegetable mix n bread] -simply ' wow' !

Spicy Pav n Bhaji- the 'dream snacks'.
Pav Bhaji is the specialty item of Maharashtra. Somewhere Mumbai, the dream city of India has an inherent connection with Pav bhaji and the famous Vada pav. Pav bhaji is a popular item which is available not only in Maharashtra but also other metro cities as well. Pav bhaji can be proudly called one of the specialty items of India, and one of the most popular street food items. The common Indian loves Pav bhaji and likes to treat his friends with this simple wonder. Simple combination, tantalizing taste, wholesome nutrition are the few characteristics that differentiates Pav bhaji and hence it's the 'dream snacks ' of  Indians. I believe that every one yard distance in Mumbai possesses one Pav bhaji stall atleast. It's the easiest business meant for a simple Indian who wants to survive. Let's see the method of preparation of this magic wonder.

Ingredients: Preparation for 4 people
Potato ( medium sized 4 nos.),
Carrot ( medium sized 2 nos.),
Green peas( 50 gms.),
Tomatoes( medium sized 3 nos., grated),
Onions ( medium sized 3 nos, grated),
Capsicum ( 1 medium sized grated ),
Cauliflower ( 1 medium sized grated),
Ginger-garlic paste,
Pav bhaji masala [a special blend of chilly, coriander, black pepper, dry mango, cloves, taj, black salt, salt, cardamom, fennel seeds, cumin, curry leaves ] available in standard brands in the market.
Butter ( 50 gms.)
Coriander leaves for garnishing,
Lime juice for garnishing,
Green chillies for garnishing,
Salt as per taste.

Procedure: The procedure is very simple and quite easy if followed meticulously.

Boil vegetables

Step1: All the vegetables potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, green peas should be boiled . Tomatoes, onions, capsicum should be grated into smaller pieces as shown in the picture. Keep the vegetables aside.

Mash the boiled potatoes

Step 2: The potatoes should be boiled and mashed as shown in the picture.

Cook all the vegetables 

Step3: Heat oil in a container. Dash the onions, tomatoes, capsicum , ginger-garlic paste in it and cook till the vegetables becomes soft. Add the mashed potatoes and also the other vegetables- cauliflower, green peas, carrots in it. Mix well with the help of a spatula and mix 4 teaspoons of the Pav bhaji masala in it. Cook till the entire content becomes an even mixture and the color of the pav bhaji masala should dominate. You will enjoy a mind boggling flavor which will emit from the mixture prepared. The combined essence of all the vegetables will really enhance your appetite. Add 1/2 cup of water in the content and cook well so that the mixture should have a nice gravy appearance. Texture of Pav bhaji should be of thick gravy type. The boiled potatoes will  dominate the texture of the gravy.

After the bhaji is cooked, you may remove it to a serving bowl. Chop coriander leaves, onions and extract lime juice for the final garnishing and nice presentation. It's always advisable to add a dollop of butter on the  bhaji before serving it with hot bread ( pav bread which is commonly available in all food stores). Enjoy this dish with your family and friends and experience  the taste which makes India crazy. Pav bhaji , the simple Indian snacks - simply irresistible!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Dahi vada [fried lentil dumplings in yoghurt]- a yummy treat for summer

Dahi Vada is a dish which has it's origin from the southern part of India. A wonderful combination of lentils n yoghurt -this dish is a wholesome item and quite popular dish available in all the nooks and corners of southern, western and eastern parts of India . Vendors selling dahi vada near the office buildings are a common sight in all the metropolitan cities of India. A common Indian loves to have dahi vada for lunch and the housewives find it easy to prepare , compared to any other dishes. Dahi vada finds a special place an all food festivals organised in India, which means to promote Indian food. Let see the method of preparation of this simple yet mouth-watering dish.

Black lentils ( 100gms. soaked in water overnight)
Cumin seeds ( 3 teaspoons roasted and powdered)
Tamarind paste (prepared with tamarind extract and water)
Coriander leaves for garnishing
Red chilly powder
Curd (100gms beaten)
Sugar ( 2 teaspoons)

Procedure: Grind the soaked black lentils in a mixer grinder till it becomes an even paste. Remove and keep aside. Heat oil in a container. Take little amount of the battered paste and release in the oil. Deep fry the battered lentils. When the battered doughs are fried and takes the color of golden brownish tinge, then it's time to remove them from the oil and keep aside. Now , it's time to soak the fried rounded doughs in water , so that may increase in volume. Take the battered curd and add sugar in it. Toss the cumin seeds in frying pan and grind it to a powder. Make a blend with cumin powder, red chilly powder and keep the mixture aside. Make a paste with tamarind ( by mixing tamarind with water , and then extracting the liquid content). Now take  a serving bowl and place the  fried doughs or the vadas in it. Add the battered curd to it ,  the blended  cumin powder, chilly powder and tamarind extract to it. Chop coriander leaves and spread over the dish for the ultimate look and tantalizing flavor.

Dahi vada is a very popular evening snacks in India. Enjoy dahi vada with your family and friends.Enjoy this delicacy of Southern India to your heart's content. Discover the joys of experiencing the tantalizing taste, mind boggling flavor of this typical dish.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Paneer Schezwan - simply delicious 'chinese wonder'

Paneer schezwan is a dish of chinese origin. India is a country , which is open to all sorts of chinese preparation. The culinary art of China has been spread widely all over the world due to it's easy yet amazing cooking techniques. Paneer schezwan is commonly available in almost all Chinese restaurants. The popularity of chinese food has been so wide that almost seventy percent of the urban population in India prefer to have chinese dinner once a week. Lets see the amazing preparation of this magic chinese recipe.

Paneer [cottage cheese] ( 350 gms. cubed into smaller chunks),
Spring onions (3-4 pieces grated),
1 cup schezwan sauce,
3 table spoon dark soya sauce,
Corn flour (3 teaspoons , battered in water),
salt as per taste.

For schezwan sauce preparation:
1 cup oil,
1/2 cup chopped ginger,
1/2 cup chopped garlic,
1/2 cup celery (ajmoda),
1/2 cup chopped peppercorns,
1/2 cup chopped spring onions green,
1/2 cup chopped spring onions white,
1 tablespoon vinegar,
1 tablespoon chilli powder,
1 cup chilli sauce.

For the chilly sauce:
7-8 dried whole kashmiri red chillies,
1/4 cup roughly chopped garlic,
1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin seeds,
1/4 cup vinegar,
1 1/2 cup of sugar,
1 1/2 cup of salt,
1/4 cup tomato sauce.

Procedure: The procedure is a step wise procedure which needs to be followed methodically.

For the chilly sauce:
Take all the ingredients- red chillies, garlic, cumin powder, vinegar, sugar , salt in a mix well with the help of a blender. Keep aside. Mix tomato sauce in it.

For the schezwan sauce:
Heat oil in a container. Add all the ingredients-ginger, garlic , pepper corns, celery , spring onions (white and green) , aji no moto , monosodium glutamate, vinegar, chilly powder , chilly sauce ( as per the recipe). Cook in  slow fire for 5-7 minutes. It will emit a typical flavor very similar to a chinese cuisine. Keep aside the prepared schezwan sauce.


Heat oil in a container and add the paneer(cottage cheese) chunks in it. Stir fry slightly and keep aside. Add schezwan sauce , dark soya sauce in it and cook well. Add the already cooked paneer chunks in it . Make a batter of corn flour (with water) and add it with the mixture. The mixture takes nice, glossy texture. Add salt according to taste. Garnish with chopped spring onions.

Remove the prepared dish in a serving bowl and it's ready to romance with your tongue. Schezwan paneer is best served with vegetable fried rice. The schezwan sauce hence prepared can be kept in refrigerated condition for 3 days. It can be reused again. So, say goodbye to expensive restaurants and enjoy this chinese delicacy along with your family/friends. It's good to try out challenges and claim yourself to be an 'all square' and enjoy every moment of your life.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A trip around Menangai Crater- the mystery of Africa

View of Menangai crater

Menangai crater is a magnificent sight , located 6 miles North East of Nakuru in Kenya. The massive crater , which is 12 kms. in width and 500mts. in depth is one of the largest calderas of the world. It took me 1 hr. by road from Nakuru while from Nairobi it will take almost 3 hrs. in a car. Menangai crater is said to be an extinct volcano , and said to be still emitting flames(acc. to the locals). Nobody could give a definite information on when this volcano last erupted

Way to Menanagi
The scenario on both sides of the way to Menangai is really picturesque and the lush of greenery did attract my attention. Presence of table top mountains are really enthusiastic as on proceeds the way towards the crater.  I stopped on the way and took some pictures and was overwhelmed by the presence of beautiful attractive flowers that will catch anybody's attention.

Enthralling greenery
The crater is a place which is 8 kms. from main road and is accessible either by car or by foot. Every year there comes thousands of trekkers who love to have the magnificent experience of climbing this historic crater. It's a popular saying that the Menangai crater has many 'spine chilling stories' of agitated spirits and warriors hanging on the area and is called 'Kirima kia ngoma' or the place of spirits. Not to discourage the visitors , but it's been heard that there  are stories  of people disappearing without trace or loosing way all for a sudden.

Post on the highest point

There is a presence of a post at the highest point of the crater which symbolically shows the directions of various cities of the world. Menangai crater offers beautiful hiking spots, geysers, waterfalls , mud holes and the magnificent rays of the sun that glimpses at the center of the crater with the rays glittering away , in one word a 'heavenly beauty'.

While returning from the crater I observed some souvenir shops , some travel agents busy with deal of the day and some beautiful flowers which I will remember ever.  For people who are interested for trekking , hiking and experience the mysteric adventure, Menangai crater is the best spot. For visitors, it's advisable to have a night stay at Naivasha , then tour Menangai crater and back on the same day. Kenya is full of adventures, mysteries, extinct volcanoes and age old 'spine chilling stories'. In one word it's a land of wide diversities.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Cottage Cheese dumpling curry (Chanar Dalna) -the awesome veg. treat

Cottage cheese is the source of energy, protein and a favorite food item for many. Various combinations of cottage cheese can be worked out to get delicious dishes. Chanar dalna (cottage cheese dumplings curry) is a typical dish of Bengali origin. Purely vegetarian preparation by nature, Chanar dalna is a very popular dish and an inherent culture in the age old Bengali cuisine. During any festival /puja , chanar dalna is a must item. Lets see the method of preparation.

Full cream milk ( 2lts.),
Lime juice /Vinegar( 3-4 teaspoons),
Bay Leaf ( 2 nos. ),
Ghee ( 3 teaspoons)[ an extract out of milk used in Indian cooking],
Garam masala powder [ a blend of black pepper, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves] ( 1 teaspoon),
Cumin seeds ( a pinch),
Tomatoes ( 2 medium sized grated),
Potatoes ( 2 medium sized grated),
Turmeric powder ( 1 teaspoon),
Ginger paste ( 2 teaspoons),
Coriander powder ( 2 teaspoons),
Chilly powder ( 1 teaspoon),
Green chillies ( 3 pieces),
Salt as per taste.

Procedure: The procedure is a slightly lengthy one and is directed in a synchronous way. Kindly follow the steps given in a pictorial representation.

Extract the cheese from milk

Boil 2 lts. milk in a container and during the process of boiling add lime juice so that the cheese separates from the milk . You may separate the cheese with the help of a strainer. Follow the figure to understand how to separate the cheese. Allow the strainer to stand for a while so that the cheese solidifies.

Make a dough out of the cheese
Add salt in the solidified cottage cheese and make a dough with the help of your hands. Care should be taken that the dough becomes manageable and soft. The water content should be less in order to make the dough an effective one.

Make rounded doughs from the cheese

Use your hand to make rounded dumplings. The texture of the dumplings should be firm.

Fry the cheese in oil
Heat oil in a container and release the dumplings in it. Fry till the dumplings turn golden brownish in color.

cottage cheese dumplings prepared
Fry the rest of the dumplings in the same process. Care should be taken while frying the dumplings , so that it doesn't break in between.

Now its time to heat ghee  in a container and dash the already chopped tomatoes, potatoes in it. Dash bay leaves, garm masala, cumin seeds , coriander powder, chilly powder in the container. Cook till the vegetables cook well and it becomes soft enough . It will emit a mind boggling essence , which is a typical characteristic of Bengali cuisine. Add turmeric powder and add 2 cups of water to make a soup. Add turmeric powder to it. Add salt as per taste. Cook for 5 minutes and the release the fried cottage cheese dumplings in it. The dumplings are very delicate and should not be boiled for a longer time in order to avoid breakage. Garnish with green chillies and remove the content in a serving bowl. It's time to enjoy this traditional delicacy of Bengal.

Chanar dalna is mainly served during religious occasions . It makes a very good combination with steaming rice or pulao.  If you are a Bengali , don't forget to prepare in the next religious occasion. For all my food lover friend other than a Bengalee , please give it a try and understand why the Bengalis   love this dish madly. I must say that before paneer was popularized in Bengal ,this was very popular and a 'tongue licking affair' with many. Try something different , try chanar dalna on an auspicious moment. 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Prawns in cabbage saute

Cabbage is an item known for it's nutritious values. It's rich  in vitamins, this green vegetable is a very tasty item. There are various ways to consume cabbage. One of the most available items in any part of the world, cabbage was originated in the Mediterranean region from a leafy part called wild mustard. Cabbage has got wide medicinal importance and used to cure acute inflammation , peptic ulcers. Besides cabbage is a very good item for people who are on restricted diet, as cabbage is a low calorie item. Prawns in cabbage saute makes a wonderful combination . Lets see the method of preparation.

Cabbage ( 1 big sized, chopped nicely)
Turmeric powder ( 1 teaspoon)
Ginger-garlic paste ( 1 teaspoon)
Cumin seeds ( 1 pinch)
Prawns ( 250 gms., shells removed and cleaned nicely)
Green chillies ( 2-3 pieces)
Garam masala [ a blend of cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper, cloves] ( 2 teaspoons)
Oil for frying (mustard oil is preferable)

Procedure: The prawns procured should be fresh. While cleaning, care should be taken that shells and excretory duct are removed. Marinate the prawns in turmeric powder , salt , ginger-garlic paste for 15 minutes. Heat oil in a container and release the marinated prawns in it. The prawns should be cooked till they are soft. Remove the prawns and keep aside. The cabbage should be chopped finely and into smaller parts. Heat oil in a conatiner. Dash cumin seeds, garam masala , ginger garlic paste into it. Add the cabbage into the container.Cook the cabbage in low flame for 15 minutes till the vegetable releases water and reduces in volume. Add turmeric powder and salt as per taste. Add the already cooked prawns to it and mix well with the help of a spatula.Add 1/2 cup of water to the mixture and cook for 5 minutes till the water dries up and the flavor of the prawns mix well with the cabbage. Garnish with green chillies slit in between. It's now ready to be served.

This dish is a wonderful combination of cabage with a non vegetarian item. I must say that prawns when cooked with vegetables makes a very good fusion dish and the taste is really mention worthy. Make this dish and serve it to your family , I guarantee they will love it to a great extent. You are sure that your family members will enjoy this 'finger licking ' dish.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Chilly fish -a hot fishy deal

Chilly fish is a dish Chinese origin, but we will see the Indian version of it. Since the last five decades Chinese food has gained enormous popularity due to it's easy cooking technique and wide availability all over the world. The Chinese people are very aggressive when it comes to popularizing their food culture.  Since Chinese food is available in every nooks and corners in India, it had become a culture for most of the urban Indians to enjoy Chinese food  at least once a week. 'A yummy , mouth watering , tantalizing dish'  is what I will describe chilly fish to be. Lets see the method of preparing this item.

The choice of fish can be bhetki, tilapia , catla or any sort of carp fish.
Boneless fish ( 400 gms.),
Tomatoes (2 big sized grated),
Onions ( 2 big sized grated),
Capsicum ( 2 medium sized grated),
Garlic ( 1/2 teaspoon in the form of paste and 4 cloves grated),
Corn flour ( 3 teaspoon battered in water mix.),
Eggs ( 2 battered),
Dark Soya sauce ( 5 teaspoons),
Vinegar ( 5 teaspoons),
Aji no moto ( or monosodium glutamate),
Green chillies ( 4 big sized , cut slit and immersed in vinegar),
Black Pepper ( 3/4 teaspoons powdered),
Salt as per taste.

Procedure: The fish procured should be fresh and chopped into medium pieces. The entire amount of fish should be marinated with garlic paste, aji no moto, vinegar and salt  for 15 minutes. Keep it aside. Make a batter of eggs and corn flour. Heat oil in a container. Take the fish pieces , dip in the batter and release them in the frying pan. Cook both sides of the fish till it takes a golden-brownish color. Keep them aside. Heat oil in a container and dash onions, tomatoes, capsicum, chopped garlic  to it. Cook well till the vegetables get soft. Add dark soya sauce, 2 teaspoons of vinegar to it. Sprinkle a pinch of Aji-no moto ( monosodium glutamate should always be in minute quantity). Add the already cooked fish to it. Mix well with the help of a spatula. Add the chillis ( which were slit open and immersed in vinegar ) over the content.  Make a batter with corn flour and eggs and add it over the fish mixture. Mix well with the help of a spatula. The dish takes a very nice, glossy appearance due to the addition of corn flour batter. Sprinkle black pepper all over. Allow to cook for just 5 minutes till the gravy thickens and dries ( 70 %) . In this preparation, the gravy amount is lesser and more or less on the dry side. Remove the content to a serving bowl .

Chilly fish can be enjoyed with fried rice/ hakka chowmein.  Preparing Chinese dish at home is an easy affair. So, be the chef yourself and prepare world class chinese at home. Enjoy with your friends, relatives and family members.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Kericho - the tea city of Kenya


Forest in Kericho

Kericho is a county located in the south western part of Kenya. Kericho, the capital town is located to the west of the Great Rift Valley. Being the tea plantation estate , Kericho is of high importance from the economic point of view. Well connected by roadways , the town is at the juncture of Nakuru, Kisumu and Kissi highways. From Nairobi it will be a two hour journey approximately by road. While moving from the dust of Nakuru , the changing landscape, the dominant lush of greenery, the picturesque beauty will definitely fight to catch your attention. Kericho is the home to the biggest water catchment areas of the country called the Mau Forest.

Tea Estate in Kericho

Kericho is the centre of tea growing industry in Kenya and known as the Chai Square. It has almost a population of 500K. Some of the biggest tea brands like Unilever Kenya, James Finlay and Williamson tea are based over here. We got down from the moving car to snap this picturesque beauty. To observe the tea plantation activity closely was a great experience. Miles of stretch of greenery and the fresh , unpolluted air had  definitely soothened my eyes and refreshed my mind. Felt like I was at heaven's door.

A lawn at a lodge

 Kericho has got hotels, lodges where one can get all sort of amenities and feel at home. Starting from (350-5,000) KSH , one can get accommodation and enjoy to the heart's content. The best part of Kericho is that whichever places of interest you visit, you are sure to get good accomodation and variety of choices so that it fits exactly to one's budget. There is a famous Fish Resort which is located just 20 minutes walking distance from the main town. Customers can enjoy fishing at that spot.

Kericho is the home of world famous sports personalities who have represented Kenya at the Olympic Games and won world class standards in athletics. Kipchoge Keino deserve mention amongst those people who made Kenya proud.The locals over here are named as Kipsigis and Kalengis people. They are known to be famous for their hospitality and cultural values. Maizemeal and Mursik( a kind of sour drink) are the staple food for the locals.  The presence of hospitals, schools and industries pointed out the fact the the Britishers gave a hard try to improvise the infrastructure and standard of life for the people of Kericho and for the then Britishers who dominated Kenya. The essence of tea garden, the unpolluted air, the hospitable people, the beautiful lodges is what characterizes Kericho from other places and I would like to visit this place once again. I am happy to discover the unleashed beauty of Africa.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Fish in curd gravy (Doi mach)

Doi Mach is a simple recipe of Bengali origin. Almost in all occasions and religious festivals, this dish finds enormous importance. The Bengali New Year and Jamai Sasthi ( an occasion dedicated to the son-in laws) are the dates of the calender year when Doi Mach has to be prepared at any cost in every Bengali's  home. I must say the this dish has been an inevitable culture in Bengali cuisine. Lets see the method of preparation of this delicious yet easy recipe.

Ingredient: Any carp fish might be used in this dish like- Rohu, Catla, Bhetki or any other combination. I had used tilapia fillet as thats the most available fish in Kenya.

Fish ( 350 gms., scaled and chopped into medium pieces)
Onions ( 2 medium sized grated)
Cinnamon ( 3 cloves)
Cardamon ( 2/3 sticks)
Ghee (2-3 teaspoons)
Turmeric powder (2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup of battered curd.
Ginger (1/2 teaspoon)
Green chillies( 2-3 pieces)
Bay leaf ( 2 pieces)
Mustard oil for frying.

The fish procured from the market should be very fresh and of good quality. The cleaning of the fish should be done carefully. Then it should be chopped to medium pieces. These pieces should be marinated with turmeric powder and salt and kept in this condition for 10 minutes. Keep them aside. Heat mustard oil in a container and deep fry the fishes. See to it that the both sides should be fried but too much heat will leave one side burnt which is not desirable. Heat ghee in a container and dash the chopped onions. Cook till the onions becomes soft.  Add bay leaves, cinnamon , cardamon and ginger paste in the mixture. You will enjoy the flavor emitted that will characterize this dish. Add the battered curd and then release the fish pieces in the gravy. Release the already fried fishes into the curd gravy. Add some 1/2 cup water till the fish mixes well with other spices and takes a delicious taste. Add salt according to taste and in case you love the sweet taste in dishes, may add 1 spoon sugar to it. Addition of sugar is totally optional , as it depends completely on one's taste buds. Garnish it with green chillies slit from between. Remove it to a serving bowl and it's ready to be served.

Doi Mach should be served with steaming rice. The usage of spice is considerably lesser in this dish. This item is an easily digestible one as the usage of curd makes it simple. Enjoy Doi mach in hot afternoons, to beat the heat. Innovate recipes, innovate new varieties in culinary technique and enjoy life to a great extent.

Friday, 5 August 2011

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Prawns in bottle gourd saute (Lau chingri) - a refreshing treat in summer

Bottle gourd is a vegetable which is widely available in India, Africa and European countries. Characterized by it's sweet taste , juicy content and nutritious values bottle gourd is a favorite item of many. Lau chingri is a dish which is very popular in Eastern India and is a typical home made dish. Bottle gourd is widely famous for it's water content and is quite refreshing and an ideal dish for summer . Prawns combined with bottle gourd gives an awesome taste makes a very good blend and soothes your appetite. The use of bottle gourd in Bengali cuisine has been mentioned in age old stories also. Lets see the method of preparation of this famous dish.

Bottle gourd ( 1 big sized , peeled off the skin and nicely shopped)
Prawns ( 350 gms. )
Tomatoes ( 2 big sized grated )
Onions ( 1 big sized grated)
Cumin powder ( 2 teaspoons)
Corinader powder ( 1 teaspoons)
Turmeric powder ( 1 teaspoon)
Ginger-garlic paste ( 1 teaspoon)
Green chillies ( 3-4 pcs. slit from in between)
Salt as per taste,
Coriander leaves for garnishing

Procedure: The prawns procured should be fresh and washed nicely. The outer shell and the excretory duct should be removed with care. It's advisable to remove the heads. The prawns should be marinated with turmeric powder and salt. Heat oil in a container and add fry the prawns. The prawns should be cooked for 10 minutes  till they are soft. Remove and keep them aside. Heat oil in the container and dash vegetables -onions, tomatoes in it. Cook till they become soft . The bottle gourd should be peeled off the skin and chopped into medium pieces. Add the chopped bottle gourd to the container along with other vegetables. Mix with the help of a spatula and add the spices- cumin powder, coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste to it. Add the already cooked prawns to it. Add 1/2 cup water to the content and allow to stand for 5 minutes till the water gets absorbed and the vegetables cook well along with the prawns. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and green chillies ( slit from in between ) for the ultimate taste and flavor. Remove the content to a serving bowl and you are ready to enjoy the food.

This dish can be enjoyed with steaming rice/ chapatti . This is an ideal combination for lunch when the scorching summers bites and you are ready to beat the heat. Enjoy along with your family , and enjoy healthy dishes.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thompson falls, Nyahururu- the amazing destination

Thompson falls
Kenya is a place where nature appears at her best. I believe, the varieties of interesting destinations in this country makes it one of the most popular  tourist destinations of the world.  I am a nature lover and like to explore exotic spots on weekends along with my family. Nyahururu , is a small town in Kenya lying in the east of Nakuru, a part of Laikipia district in the Rift Valley Province. From Nairobi, its approximately a 3 hour journey by road. The place is known after the giant 70 meter Thompson falls on the nearby Ewaso Nyiaro river which drains from the Aberdare mountain range. The town grew in 1929 around a railway from Gilgil.  This falls get its name from Sir Joseph Thompson , who was a geologist and a naturalist from Scotland, discovered the wonder of nature in the year 1887 while travelling from Mombasa to Lake Victoria.

At the equator

On the way to the great Thompson falls , we came across a spot Subukia , which is  of great geographical importance,  as the Equator passes through it. Amazingly , I felt that I am standing at a place where the so called imaginary line divides the globe into two equal halves- Northern and Southern hemispheres.  Perhaps anybody can demand to stand at the 'middle of the earth'. The approach road is of picturesque scenic beauty, and perhaps an ideal 'painters paradise'. Travelling from the dust of Nakuru it was really enthralling to watch the changing scenario with coffee, tea plantation and the lush of greenery that fights to get one's attention.

Magnificient falls
 The way down the falls was very slippery and stiff. I found it a real challenge to cross the entire way down without once slipping off the feet. I was very conscious and followed the the right aligned way, unlike normal traffic rules, but only difference is that here I found  the rocks on the side which gave  me a great support and saved my dignity from falling down thereafter. That was a Sunday, and so many enthusiasts from the nearby places came down to enjoy amidst the nature's lap.

To climb down was an exciting task and more exciting was the way to climb up , which was a great calorie burning task I had ever faced in my whole life. I could see varieties of plants, rare flowers which paved my way all through and soothed my eyesight.

Surrounding of the falls
Nyahururu is a destination for many foreign tourists and travel writers. A nights stay in this place may vary from 150 -3,500 Kenyan shillings per day. Beautiful lodges with 3 star amenities and standard tour packages are available at very competitve rates and good service.Camping is a very common and popular sport here.  Camping tour for 2 days , 1 night is very convenient and exciting as well. One of the biggest hippo pools is located up the ravine stream.

I believe that its the picuresque scenic beauty and the cool atmosphere  of Kenya which underlies the main reason why Britishers chose this country to settle down years back and till day find it as one of the very popular holiday destinations.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Methi baingan [Eggplants in fenugreek leaves] -a wonder veggy treat

The use of fenugreek as a spice has been a culture since ages in the Indian cuisine.  Available in the Northern as well as Western India , fenugreek is also used as a medicinal component and relieves pains resulting from arthritis. Moreover, the consumption of methi leaves in lactating women has been a common practice. This dish Methi baingan is a very popular item and a very delicious vegetarian treat. This dish can be cooked in the minimum amount of edible oil and proves to be a very good healthy treat. Lets see the method of preparation.


Methi leaves [Fenugreek]( 4 bundles, normal size available in the market)
Tomatoes (2 big sized grated)
Ginger-garlic paste ( 1 teaspoon)
Turmeric powder ( 1/2 teaspoon)
Green chillies
Brinjal [Eggplants] (1 big sized chopped into medium pieces)
Salt as per taste
Oil for cooking.

Procedure:  The methi leaves procured from the market should be farm fresh. It should be washed properly under running water and then again with boiling water , so as to avoid the contamination with bacteria, virus and thereby any hindrance to further sickness. Chop the leaves into smaller pieces. Take 2 teaspoon oil in a container and add the methi leaves to it. Cook for 10 minutes till the leaves become soft and releases water. I should say that minimum amount of oil should be used in this dish. Remove the cooked leaves and keep aside. Heat oil in a container and dash tomatoes and the chopped eggplants in it. Cook for 5-7 minutes till they become soft. Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, salt to the content and mix well with the help of a spatula. Add the already cooked methi leaves and 1/2 cup water and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. You can add green chillies slit from in between for garnishing and to bring about your desired hot taste. I should say that the flavor and the green color is really mind boggling.

This dish can be served with chapatis/steaming rice. The application of small amount of mustard sauce will add a different level in the taste factor. For people who are struggling to shed those extra kilos, this dish is a must and nutritious. Consumption of green leaves are very good for the eye sight  and I will advice that growing kids should be given almost on a regular basis. Enjoy healthy food, enjoy shedding the extra kilos, look beautiful , feel good from inside.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Mughlai parantha- a yummy , crunchy treat.

India experienced various sorts of culinary art down the ages for the last 100 yrs. Various invaders came to India , ruled the country and have contributed towards art and culture. Mughals reigned India for quite a long period and inculcated the art of making food . Northern India ardently follows the Mughal culture in cuisine , and has created a number of signature dishes. Mughlai Parantha was invented during the time of the Badshahs and still today a very popular item. The advent of various sorts of fast food  has somewhat affected the popularity of this dish , but good preparation is always worth. Lets see the recipe for this magic item.

(Lets assume that we are preparing this for 4 people, ingredient-measurement done according to it)
White flour (300 gms.),
Egg (6 pcs. battered),
Yeast (1/2 teaspoon) [ alternatively can be done with curd]
Mutton keema [finely chopped into smaller pieces] (200 gms.),
Ginger-garlic paste ( 1 teaspoon),
Garm masala powder[ a blend of cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, black pepper] ( 2 teaspoon),
Onions ( 2 medium sized chopped),
Tomatoes ( 2 medium sized chopped),
Salt as per taste,
Oil for frying.

Procedure:  Make a dough of  white flour with yeast, salt ,3 teaspoon oil and 1 cup of water. Mix the ingredients well with the help of your hands and try to make an even texture. The dough should be elastic enough to be punched. You may even try the punch test to see if the dough is perfect . The reason behind applying yeast is to make the dough fluffy and soft enough. Keep it aside for 30 minutes and keep it covered with a lid.  Heat oil in a container and dash onions, tomatoes in it. Add the mutton keema  and cook till it becomes soft. Add the ginger garlic paste , garam masala powder , salt for a perfect taste. Allow the mixture to cool down for 20 minutes. Batter eggs in a container and add the cooked mutton keema in it. Now apply a spatula and see that the mixture becomes semi liquid.  You should be able to take a scoop with spatula and it should not scatter.  Now make perfect rounded shapes with the dough already prepared.

step 1

 Make a flat rounded structure with the dough.

step 2
Apply the mixture of mutton keema n eggs and place it in the middle.

step 3

Fold it from two sides so that it form a rectangular shape. Press slightly so that it flattens and takes the shape of a parantha.

final step

You have to fry the structure prepared in hot oil in a frying pan. The structure will take golden brownish color , when the process of frying is complete. You may remove it from the frying pan and serve it.

crunchy inside

The inside of the parantha should be crispy and the mutton keema along with the dough will make a delicious combination and will take awesome taste.

Garnish with chopped vegetables like- onions, tomatoes, carrot , capsicum or anyone of our choice. Mughlai parantha is serving with potato curry/ chicken curry or tomato sauce. A very popular street food , available in various corners of India. Myself a Kolkattan, I am really a die-hard fan of Mughlai parantha. Mughlai parantha is one of the popular street food items, Kolkata specializes in. A very popular snacks, Kolkattans are crazy for this special dish, specially during the festivals and other occasions. This article is a very special dedication to all my NRI Bengali friends staying out of the country. Experiment with  your culinary skills, enjoy food , get the real spice of life.