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

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Home made doughnut- best for tea time

Doughnut has it's origin in England in the 18th century and it was considered a rich man's delight to have it with tea /during breakfast in mornings. Other theory says that it was introduced by the Dutch people in America where doughnut was getting popular as a snack besides apple pies, chocolate rolls. It's  wonderful filling , wholesome food and taste simply delicious with tea/coffee or other beverages. Presently it's a popular item around the world and quite easily available. It's available in any confectionery store/pattissiere. But if you can prepare at home , you will enjoy a lot with your family. Let's see the method of preparation of doughnuts at home.

Ingredients: ( for 12 pieces)

White flour( 500gms.),
Eggs ( 2 pcs.),
Milk ( 1/2 ltr.),
Essence of vanilla( 1 teaspoon),
Sugar ( 2 tablespoons),
Dry yeast ( 2 teaspoons),
Baking soda ( 2 teaspoons),
White flour for sprinkle,
Icing sugar for glazing,
Oil for frying.

Equipments used for this preparation
Small cutter,
Big cutter,
Rolling pin.

Procedure: The procedure is a bit lengthy. It's schematically depicted in a stepwise pictorical representation.

Step 1: Warm the milk in a container for 3-4 minutes and add the dry yeast, baking soda , eggs(battered), sugar , essence of vanilla and the flour to it. Keep mixing either with your hands or an automatic mixer to make an even dough.

Step 2: Cover the dough with a moist cloth and keep it standing for 2 hrs. After two hours you will see the flour to rise. Use your hands to press and make the dough even smoother.

Step 3: Sprinkle a little flour on rolling board. Roll the dough to make a chappati like structure.

Step 4: Use two cutter, big and small to make a hole structre like the above representation.

Step 5: Heat oil in a container and release the doughs in it. Watch it rise, get a fluffy appearance and then remove the same. When it cools down the sprinkle some icing sugar on it to obtain  a glazed appearance.

Place it on a tray to serve your friends, relatives. You may even store it in the fridge for a day or two , then pack  it for your child's tiffin. It's a wonderful snacks item and tastes the best with coffee/tea. Feel proud to prepare such lip smacking dishes at home.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Paneer masala khichdi- simple n delicious meal

Khichdi is a simple meal with all necessary ingredients. It's said that to be the most wholesome Indian food, easiest method of preparation and the least time consuming of all possible dishes. If you want you may bring about a difference to this meal by adding ingredients of your choice. Making it a little spicy and adding tasty ingredients , you will definitely observe a taste which differs from the normal daily meals. Let's see the method of preparing paneer masala khichdi.

Ingredients: (for 4-6 people):

Pishari Basmati rice ( 200 gms.)
Mung dal ( 50 gms.) [ a typical type of Indian lentil ]
Chana dal ( 50 gms.) [ a typical type of Indian lentil ]
Carrot ( 2 medium sized grated into smaller pieces)
Green peas ( 30 gms.)
Cauliflower ( half portion of a medium sized one cut into medium pieces)
Paneer chunks ( 100 gms. cut into medium pieces)
Ginger paste ( 1 teaspoon)
Jeera powder ( 1 teaspoon)
Bay leaf ( 2 nos.)
Cinnamom ( 2-3 pcs.)
Cardamom ( 2-3 sticks)
Coriander powder ( 1 teaspoon)
Black pepper ( 10 gms.)
Turmeric powder ( 1/2 teaspoon)
Ghee ( 7-8 tablespoons)
Salt as per taste.

Procedure: Take the rice and 2 types of dal in a conatiner and wash it, then keep it to dry. Heat ghee in a container and dash all the vegetables( carrot, green peas, cauliflower) into it. Add all the spices( jeera, coriander, turmeric powder,black pepper) to it. Add the ginger paste to it. Cook for 5 minutes till the spice emits a typical smell of the bay leaf. Add the cinnamom and cardamom to the mixture. Add the already washed dal and rice to the fried masala. Add the paneer chunks to it. Add 2 cups of water and allow it to simmer. Keep adding water as required by the mixture, but you must see that it does not get any burns. Slowly you will observe that all the vegetables, lentils take an even shape and it turns a nice color. Just use a spoon to test the softness of the rice and lentil. When you feel that the grains are soft and ready to eat then sprinkle some salt according to your choice. You may switch off the fire. For an ultimate taste you may add one dollop of butter on the top of the prepared khichdi.

You may serve it with fried brinjals ( egg plants), potatoes or bhindi's ( lady's finger). It's a wholesome meal and you are sure to give your family the right nutrition in the minimum time involved.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Paneer Mawa barfi- some more dhamaka for diwali

Diwali is a time when you consume loads of sweets. Various types of sweet, various colors, self prepared or bought from the market but sweet is a must. When it comes a question of mawa with paneer it's really sounds awesome. Let me share my recent experience of preparing this delicious sweet dish  at home.

Ingredients: ( for preparation of 30 pcs.)
Milk ( 4 lts.).
Sugar ( 1 and 1/4 th cup).
Food color ( yellow/orangish yellow).
Grated solidifies condensed milk(mawa)
Grated cashew nuts for garnishing.

Procedure: The procedure is depicted in a stepwise schematic fashion with the help of pictures. It has to be followed meticulously.

Step 1: Boil 4 lts. of milk in a container. When the milk is about to split in the high temperature then apply 2 tablespoons of vinegar/lime juice. The creme will be separated. You may take away the creme with a filter to separate from the water.

Step2: Prepare a sugar syrup in a container by mixing 1 and 1/4 th cup of sugar in half cup of water. Then heat on an oven till it becomes a thick syrup.

Step 3:  Mix the grated solidifies condensed milk or mawa with freshly prepared cottage cheese(shown in step 1) with the sugar syrup. Heat the entire mixture till it becomes a thick solidified substance.

Step 4: Spread the solidified substance on a tray coated with oil and butter paper. Spread it evenly till it takes a nice flattened surface. Allow it to solidify for 5mintes.

Step 5: Remove about 1/8th part of the mixture in a bowl. Mix well with 2 teaspoons food color ( ornage/orange yellowish ) and leave.

Step 6: Spread the colored part of the mixture on the already spread portion. See that they solidify in two layers. Try to spread the colored portion evenly on the white part.

Step 8: Sprinkle grated cashew nuts on the evenly spread dough. Keep it in refrigerated condition for 4 hours. Remove it and cut into pieces.

After cutting it into pieces you may serve it in a beautiful well decorated tray. Your visitors will be spell bound. So, this diwali enhance your savings by preparing home made sweets.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Visit to the Masai village

Masai Mara is a land of natural wonders including the typical tribal life .Till day these tribals imbibe the culture of hunting, making weapons, lighting fire and living like the primitive men. The present generation of this tribe has undergone certains improvisations with the help of the Kenya Govt. but most of the people still practise their old occupation and the life style their forefathers used to follow.  They live in small rounded huts in  villages near the forest land. They strictly abide community rules and marriage is done within the community and the village. On the last day of our trip to Masai Mara we had planned to visit a Masai village.

We were charged 20$ per person as an entry fee to the village. We were welcome by the village chief and other members who greeted us with their traditional dance. We were told that this dance is performed when they hunt a lion. We were amazed by the spectacle and observe them jump so high in the air. the chief told us that it's an unsaid competition amongst the boys of the tribe.

We were shown how they light fire which is used for cooking and other works. Moreover fire is very important as it keeps the wild animals away from their locality. There were around 50 members.  The boys of the tribe showed us the typical Masai dance.

You may see the glipmses captured in my camera how high they try to jump.This is to celebrtae the killing of a lion. It's said that an eligible bachelor in a Masai community  must know how to hunt and jump high.

They showed us a typical wood which was rubbed against another long rod for fire. This action was repeated against the direction of fire and we could see the smokes comimg up.When that was used aginst dry leaves and wood , a fire came out and they used for boiling water, cooking and other works.

I captured the moment when they were trying to create fire with the help of wood by the process of friction. It was a wonderful sight  to see and imagine how the neolithic men created fire for their daily activities.

We saw them preparing a day's meal which was nothing but a goat whose skin was peeled off and roasted in the traditional way. Seems like the entire village was going to have a great feast.

The Masais rear cattle for farm. They take special care of the milk producing animals like cow, sheep, goat. They sell the milk to the market outside the village. A Masai's status is known form the number of cattle he rears. The day we went for a visit was a market day. The Masai women engage themselves in making artifacts and handicrafts which they sell in the market. Even they tried to sell some stuff to me. The minimum price of the souvenirs were 1000 KES.

It was tuesday and a typical market day in the village. They make necklace out of typical beads. Moreover they cover themselves with a typical cloth called sheets. They tie the sheets around their neck. They love to ware sheets of various bright colors.

The women and the children were selling typical ornaments like bangles, braclets, necklaces , sheets and puppets. The Govt. and various NGO's come forward to help them by selling these stuffs to the visitors. You may find them on either sides of the highway, typical roadside counters or Govt. Emporiums.

The female members of the tribe performed a typical dance which was meant to welcome any guest at their premises.

We wanted to see their huts and a typical lifestyle lead by the Masais. They live in huts made of mud, cowdung, straw and thatches. It takes almost 3 months to construct a typical hut where they live for about 7 years and then isolate the house. The greatest problem is that it gets infected with termites. A typical hut has a very low door so as to prevent any animals from entering the house. The inside of a hut has three typical rooms where 6-7 persons may stay. The cooking area is separate form the bedroom area. They use typical mud ovens to prepare their daily meals.

A typical Masai man may have 2-3 women as his wife. They live harmoniously and share the household jobs among themselves. They cook food, raise kids and engage in handicraft activities while the men go for rearing cows and sometimes in the market to sell the milk products. They obtain daily necessities form the market in  a barter system of trade. They recieve cash from the visitors and they use to get daily necessities form the nearby market.

Nowadays the Govt. has taken special initiatives to set up primary schools in the areas near Masai village so that the children may get education in English, Kswahili and mathematics. They have improvised their communication so that they can deal with the traders and visitors much easily than before.

It was ncie to see the children get enlightened with modern day education besides cattle rearing and handicrafts taught at home. They realize their importance and undertsand how to deal with the visitors who come to see them around the world.

It was a wonderful day. I realized the pain, struggle, joys of the life of a typical Masai. It was nice to see the modern Masais speak english with the visitors. I could imagine what Kenya was 400 years back form now when they used to hunt animals for food. It's a combination of present along with the glorious past, a fusion of modern knowledge with the primitive lessons of hunting. Great , I felt I have seen the present as well as imagined the past. Long live Masai Mara and her typical wonderful resources!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Yummy chocolate mawa barfi - a diwali special dhamaka

Chocolate mawa barfi is a specialty sweet item in India. It's a preparation out of selected creme of milk (mawa) and chocolate flavour. Perhaps anybody will find this item in any confectionery store or traditional sweet counter in India. Well , during diwali there is a culture that evey Indian woman prepares something sweet at her house to treat her guests and well wishers. Let's see this easy method of preparing chocolate mawa barfi. This will be a special item for celebrationg this diwali along with your friends and relatives.

Ingredients: (For preparation of 20 pieces)
or solidified condensed creme of milk ( 250 gms.),
Cocoa powder or chocolate chunks ( 2 teaspoons/ 4 cubes),
Grated cashewnuts ( 10 gms.),
Sugar ( 1 and 1/2 cup). 

Procedure: Dilute sugar with water in a container and heat it till it becomes a thick syrup.Then mix the following ingredients in the manner shown below in the diagram arranged schematically.

Step 1: Grate the solidified condensed milk and mix it with the sugar syrup. Use a spatula to make an even mixture and it will appera like a smooth dough. Divide the dough into  3/4 th part and keep the 1/4 th part separately. 

Step 2: Apply  3 teaspoons of cocoa powder on the 1/4 th part of the dough and mix properly. If you are using chocolate chunks then its advisable to melt it and use along with the dough.

Step 3: Keep the dough on a tray. The tray should be coated with a butter paper in order to avoid sticking of the dough with it. If you dont have butter paper you can apply oil over ordinary paper and use it for arranging the dough.


Step 4: Apply the 1/4th part of the dough which was chocolated over the non chocolate coated one. Use a spatula so that the layer can be applied evenly without disturbing the texture of any of them.

Step 5: Grate cashewnuts and sprinkle over the dough prepared thereby. It will look nicely garnished and bear a total commercial appearance. Now cover the dough with butter paper and keep in refrigerated condition for 2-3 hrs. When it is prepared then cut into equal cubes with the help of knife. Arrange on a tray and it is ready to romance with your tongue.

It's ready and you will really love the 'melt in mouth' taste of mawa barfi. This is so soft and delicious that simply want to cherish the taste on a reguar basis. so, be prepared this diwali and surprise your near and dear ones with your excellent skills and hidden talent.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Vegetable cutlet- an easy veggy deal

Vegetable cutlet is an awesome dish. Prepared with  vegetable this dish proves to be very wholesome for fussy children who denies healthy food. This easily preparable dish is a wonder delight for any guest who  comes to your house uninformed. Morever, home made snacks are always heathier as you use the best quality edible oil for frying. Let's see the method of preparation of this wonderful delicious snacks.

Ingredients: (For preparation of 20 pieces)

Beet root (4 pieces medium sized)
Potato ( 5 pieces medium sized)
Carrot ( 2 pieces medium sized)
Green Peas ( 20 gms.)
Ginger- garlic paste ( 1 teaspoon)
Cumin powder ( 2 teaspoons)
Corn flour (2 teaspoons diluted in water)
Powdered salted biscuit ( 50 gms.)

Procedure: Let's see the method of preparation. You need to follow the steps meticulously in order to prepare this delicious snack.

Step 1: Boil all the vegetables( potato, beet root, carrot, green peas) and mash with the help of a spatula. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a container and dash ginger-garlic paste to it. Dash 1 teaspoon of cumin powder and add the boiled vegetables. Make a dough of it as shown in the picture. Make sure that it contains no dumplings of any vegetables, it should be a smooth dough.

Step 2: Prepare rounded ball like structure flattened on both sides. Apply white flour coating so that they do not stick to each other. Now prepare a semi dituted liquid with white flour and water , and dip the rounded doughs in it . Keep them on the plate.

Step 3: Take powdered biscuit in a plate and coat the rounded structures with it on both sides.

Step 4: Heat oil in a container and deep fry the rounded doughs. When it's ready place them on a tray and serve it to your guests.

This is a wonderful combination with tea. So, invite your friends for an evening snacks ,enjoy this awesome dish and earn some appreciation.

Chicken grill lababdaar- simply mouthwatering home made chicken

You can prepare chicken grilled at home and get the wonderful  Chicken grill lababdaar which will exactly suit your tastebud if you  are an ardent fan of non vegetarian dish and a chicken lover. This spicy, tasty, tangy, tantalizing chicken delight will undoubtedly make you feel 'wow' once you get to experience it. For people having grill, microwave or even country oven at home, this dish will prove to be an awesome delight. Let's see the method of preparation of this wonderful chicken item.

Ingredients: (for a whole chicken)

Whole chicken ( big sized breast and leg pieces)
Yoghurt ( 300 gms.)
Coriander powder( 4-5 teaspoons)
Cumin powder( 4-5 teaspoons)
Red chilli powder( 4 teaspoons)
Turmeric powder( 4-5 teaspoons)
Ginger garlic paste (  teaspoons)
Garam masala powder ( 2 teaspoons)[ blend of black pepper, cinnamom, cardamom and clove ]
Salt as per taste.

Procedure:  The procedure in simple but time taking method. I have depicted schematically the stepwise process in a simple manner.

Step 1: Marinate the chicken pieces( breast and leg pieces) with youghurt/curd , cumin powder, coriander powder , turmeric powder, ginger- garlic paste, red chilli powder , garam masala and salt. Keep the chicken in marinated condition for about 6 hrs. It's advisable to marinate it overnight and keep in refrigertated condition in case you want to make it the following morning.  

Step 2: Put the marinated chicken pieces on the grill of your oven . Carefully place it side by side and apply oil on the pieces so that the chicken should not stick to each other.Apply oil over it  with the help of spoon or brush.

Step 3: Place the chicken in grill and put in the oven. Apply temperature 220 degress celsius and 20 minutes in grill mode. When one side is done turn on the other side with the help of tongs and apply the same conditions of the oven once more. 

Step 4: When it is done the chicken will get a golden  brownish color and a typical smoked smell will be emitted. You can grill vegetab;es like onions, capsicum, tomatoes at the same time in the oven and serve with the chicken. Apply a few drops of lime to make the taste tantalizing.

Serve it along with grilled veggies on a plate. Your guests will be spell bound. This will make a very good combination with drinks. So, no more hesitation and restaurant bills, enjoy your evenings by making grilled chicken at home. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Masai Mara - search for the wild bosses of Africa ![day 2]

After having a nice day at the jungle it was time for us to get ready for the second day. That was a great day for us. We were to meet the king of the jungle and all other carnivores. Till date I just kept imagining in my mind how does these wild carnivores roam about in the vast stretches of land along with the homo sapiens? We were staying at Mara sopa Lodge in Masai Mara . After having a  wholesome continental breakfast  we were set ready for the next phase of our adventure trip.

Our journey started at 7:00 am , we were hoping to see the lions and other carnivores today.

After going for a stretch of 50 yards we saw carcass of herbivores lying on the ground. I just stopped our jeep and took snaps of the sae. Well, I could not see any hunting but seeing  the carcass I could imagine how dreadful attack it must have been on this poor animal. It was found near the lion's den which was near a hill. The very sight of the kion's den was a fear ful one with skeletons and bones found lying here and there. We saw a family of lions playing behind the trees trying to avoid eye contact with us. There were at least 50 visitors gathered near the wild beauty taking photographs of them. 'These carnivores were no less than VIP's , you see.' that was what our guide told us. I was getting excited and waiting to see all the big cats of Masai Mara before I leave the place.

The lion's den.
We waited in front of the lion's den  hoping to see some of the beauties. We could see some of them resting on the rock near the den . They were shying away from us and hiding behind the trees. Our driver took the off road so that we could photograph these wild creatures. The rangers were quite cautious of anybody trying to break the rules of visit.

The ground of the forest showed beautiful white flowers which made the grass really beautiful and soft. We were told that the lion loves to lie down , rest in these beautiful carpetted green lush.

We were really shocked to see the remains of the animals which was  mercilessly tore apart by the wild carnivores for their daily food. Imagine how forcefully must have these wild beasts attacked these grass

We saw jackals nearby these carcasses. The predators like the flesh of the grass eaters and they are in plentiful in Masai Mara.

 These jackals hiding behind the bushes are propably the cleverest of the animals. They were awakened by the sound of the jeep nearing them and probably got suspicious of some danger nearing them.

We saw vultures at the top of the trees. These creatures were waiting for the predators to hunt and leave the left overs for them to fulfill.

We saw spotted hyenas roamimg in the jungle . They like the savannah grass and were resting when we spotted them and our jeep approached it . The animal got cautious and was on the way to flee away .

We followed the way to the Masai river which was about 30 Kms distance form out hotel. It took about 2 hrs. to reach the spot near the river. It was a beautiful sight with the skyline touching the ground and we could get a glimpse of the magnificient horizon. Never is the earth so beautiful after watching Masai Mara.We were looking for animals near the river and it was already 5:15 pm. The animals are said to approach this side of the forest in order to drink water from the river and rest on the soft grass.

We were approcahing towards an area where we saw a family of lions. At least 50 lions were seen in natural pose either resting , lioness were minding their cubs and the king lion were observing the visitors of Masai land. Have a look at the video to observe the lions who were in a lathergic mood, observing themselves  being photographed.

We saw the family of lions. The king lion was keeping a bit of privacy as it was injured the previuos day fighting with fellow lions of the same land. We were told by the guide that lioness minds the cub, hunts and does other activities while the king lion minds kingship, fights for leadership and seldom hunts. In fact we were roaming amongst the lion family as if we were their guests.

We approached towards the other side of the Mara river where we spooted some brilliantly looking cheetas. These were seen playing by the bank of the river. We took some quick videos and were unable to stand for longer time as it was a restricted area.

The cheetas in africa have tremendous speed and very sharp vision. They are probably the fastest animal on the earth.

   We spotted the hippos in the river playing with water naturally. Each one was completely grown and weighing no lesser then 150 - 200 Kgs. each. I never saw such a beautiful sight of hippoos anywhere else.

Last but not the least we could see a leopard. It was trying to hide itself on a tree.

Quite happy and complesant we returned to the hotel for dinner. We had seen the big 5 animals in the past two days. To see the wild life so near is really a wonder, an oppurtunity and an experience to be cherished for a life time.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Patisapta- a sweet treat from Bengal

Patisapta is a typical Bengali sweet item very popular during the time of Bijoya(after the immersion of Goddess durga) or any festivals like Poush Parban (the celebration of the harvest). Filled with wholesome values , Patisapta is a ideal vegetarian sweet and wins the heart of many. Let’s see the method of preparation of this magic item.

Ingredients: (for the preparation of 20 pcs.)

1. Ground coconut( 1 whole)
2. Milk ( 1 lt.)
3. Coarse semolina [suji] (100 gms.)
4. Grounded rice blend( 50 gms.)
5. White flour[ maida]( 100gms.)
6. Sugar ( ½ kgs.)

Procedure: The procedure is a little time taking . I have represented schematically with pictures to support the step wise methods.

Step1: Ground the coconut with the help of a mixer grinder and put it on a frying pan , add little sugar and sprinkle water so that the coconut becomes solid and does not contain any traces of water.

Step 2: Now allow the coconut mixture to cool down and then prepare fillings in the shape of elongated beans.

Step 3: Make a mixture of milk, blended rice, semolina and white flour. Make sure that it is left as a thick liquid.

Step 4: Take exactly one spoon and spread it evenly on a frying pan. When it takes shape place the coconut filling on it and start rolling with the help of a wooden spoon.

Step 5: After you have rolled then it will get an elongated shape like a vegetable roll. Then you might remove it and place in a plate.

This way you may prepare many Patisapta or coconut filled pancakes and this will make a very delicious dish. Since it contains the goodness of coconut, milk, semolina and white flour it will fill your stomach for a long time. When it's festive season , you can sweeten up the relation with family members, friends, relatives with this specialty of Bengal. Try it today and get the authentic taste people relished for years.