Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: Ramayana, The Game of Life, Shattered Dreams, Book 2

I have been an avid reader from very beginning of my life. And I totally owe this to my great story teller grandfather who seeded the love of reading within me. My many childhood afternoons were spend listening to the great epic stories of our country from him. He used to modulate his voice and narrate with such a passion that one could vividly see the scenes in front of the eyes. Ramayana was one of such stories that he repeatedly used to tell and I knew the stories even before I knew my alphabets.  And even my toddler daughter have her own Ramayana both in English and Bengali. So I was pleasantly thrilled when I got this wonderful book by Shubha Villas to review. One quiet evening I sat with the book with a mug of coffee and could not put it down.


                                

Ramayana in general plays an important role not only in Indian literature but also in Indian society. It depicts the story of an ideal kingdom with perfect relationships, and talks about ideal characters like the ideal father, son, brother and wife. Ramayana has been translated in various languages all over India and the one we had at our home is Krittibasi Ramayana, written in medieval Bengal by a Bengali poet. In this form of Ramayana, Rama is more of an ideal village boy, rather than a Lord.


Moment she knew that I was reading my Ramayana, she quickly brought her and demanded to put it by mine

Shattered Dreams is the sequel to the bestseller, Rise of the Sun Prince, and starts from the point where King Dasaratha wants to coronate Rama, his elder son, as the King of Ayodhya and how fate takes its own turns and shatter the dreams of this old father. I came to learn about many new things of Ramayana, like Ravana was known as Dasagriva and how he became Ravana. Also, that Urmila was an artist in herself and her own way to help her husband during the long years of exile. The book is written in a very lucid language and has a very nice flow that keeps the reader enchanted. It very gently described the pain of Dasaratha as he had to succumb to his wife's demands, Rama's sense of duties to his father, Lakshman's strong love for his brother and Sita's love and sacrifice for her husband. I liked the part where the writer narrates the scene between Bharata and his mother, the pain that his mind and body goes through on hearing what his mother had done to his beloved Rama. What I like about the book, is the analogy the writer brings with the modern day life situations and explains it in todays perception. Also, I felt the book dealt with the characters in a more humanly manner and thus one can relate to the emotions and pain of the characters. Even Ravana's character is explained in sort of light of a human being rather than a demon. The writer truly did a wonderful job in depicting this thrilling and complicated family drama.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program from Blogadda. Participate to get free books today!






Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Green Bean and Carrot Curry

I love winter, for a long list of reasons. Winters bring riots of colors in the kitchen, the everyday orange carrots are replaced by this bright red color ones. The mundane green beans become a little more greener.I love them all. I made this vegetable dish just in a whim, with no definite recipe in mind, just getting allured by the fresh produce. And it turned out good and tasty, and of course healthy.

Ingredients

Green beans - 2 cups, cut in 1 inch pieces
Carrots - 2 large, diced
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Ginger paste- 1 teaspoon
Nigella seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Green chillies - 1
Oil- 1/2 tablespoon
Salt to taste


Cut the vegetables, you can also add whatever you have, wash and drain.



Heat oil in a pan, add nigella seeds, and add the vegetables. Saute them for few minutes till they get soft.

Add the grated coconuts to it and mix them well.


Add ginger paste and salt, mix them well and cover with lid till cooked completely. The veggies will release water and get cooked by it, but you can add few tablespoons of water if required.

And, here you go, ready to be eaten with warm white rice or roti. I told, you, its that super easy.


And you feel good about feeding your loved ones healthy.



Enjoy!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Flourless Brownies-Less than 50 Calories

Friends, no more starving yourself from brownies. On the contrary, you can have as many you like. More than 3, no problem. Because, these beauties are flour less, and, hold your breath, less than 50 calories! Heard me right, less.than.fifty.calories.

As if not these are enough reasons for indulgence, they are super easy to make, almost one pot, soft, gooey and yummy. And, healthy. That's it, my new year resolution is to eat as many  brownies I like, these brownies. I have starved myself for enough time from brownies.

Perfect dessert to ring in New Year.Am I too late to wish you a happy new year?

Never mind, Happy New Year friends!

Ingredients

Yogurt - 3/4 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Oats - 1/2 cup
Sugar or sugar substitute - 1/4 cup
Egg - 1, medium
Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - A pinch
Walnuts - 1/4 cup, chopped (optional)


Put all the ingredients except egg into your blender jar. Beat egg separately and add to the mix. Give a pulse or two to the mix in blender.



Pour the entire mix into a 8x8 inch baking dish. Remember to grease the dish well. I know, it kind of looks suspicious, but have faith my friends.


Preheat oven at 200C or 400F. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until fork when inserted comes out clean.

Leave them to cool. I just learned this trick of leaving brownies just a wee bit undercooked.

And yes, they are ready. Super soft, gooey delight. And did I say they are less than 50 calories!


This makes 9 large pieces. Just double the batch and make more.

And eat one or two of this cuties, or maybe three. No guilt required.


I had to make a second batch instantly. Because I ate too many of the first batch.


Approved by my super picky eater toddler too. Bonus points!


Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Vegetable Chop


Ending the year with a very popular snack, vegetable chop. So 2014 is ending within less than 24 hours, its already time for me to look back and forward simultaneously. 2014 was a bit busy on work front, so I took a lil break from this space, but I am trying my best to have my regular presence here, as I love it so much.

My lil munchkin is growing up! She claims herself as a "big girl" and I keep saying, please do not grow this fast, my dear. Please Slow down!

I made many new friends this year, and also rekindled friendship with friends whom I have not met for last 15 years, probably.

So, now to this snack. Its a sort of vegetable croquette and this is the perfect time to make it for a afternoon snack with tea or coffee. Or just for it.

Ingredients: (Makes 10 chops)

Beetroot - 2 medium
Carrot - 1 large or 2 medium
Potato - 1 medium or 2 small
Green Peas - Fistful
Cauliflower - 1/2 cup florets (I did not have any this time)
Green Chilli-1, chop it fine
Breadcrumbs- 1 cup (I made mine, but you can use store bought)
Egg - 1 large
Oil- 1 tablespoon to saute the veggies, and 1/2 cup to fry them

Spice Blend
Cardamom - 3-4
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch stick
Cloves-3-4
Fennel seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli - 1 or according to the taste
Dry roast all the spices in medium heat, take care that it does not burn. Blend them to fine powder.


Cut all the vegetables in small pieces and boil them till tender but not too mushy. Boil them for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and keep them in hot water for another 5 minutes. Drain them well.



While the vegetables are boiling, you can dry roast the spices and blend it. If you are using homemade bread crumbs, you can make it now. Here is what I did. I toasted 2/3 breads (day or two old), tore them and blended them with a pinch of salt.





Here is how it looks. Seriously, you can feel the difference in the taste. If you want you can add any dry herbs of your choice to the crumbs and mix well.



Once the vegetables have cooled down, smash it with a spoon. Heat oil in the pan, add the smashed veggies, and saute it for a while, 4-5 minutes. Add salt and the roasted and blended spice mix to it, add chopped chilies, and saute it for a minute or two more.




Arrange your breadcrumbs and a beaten egg in two different bowls. Make croquettes of any shape, dip in egg and then coat evenly in the breadcrumbs. Dip in the egg mix again and coat once more with the bread crumbs.





Put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.





Heat 1/2 cup oil in a deep pan and fry the croquettes until golden. Take care not to heat up the oil too much, that will burn these beauties.



They taste so good! Have them with tea or serve them with chopped onions and a splash of mustard or any sauce of your choice.



Enjoy!

Wishing all my friends and who stops by this space a very happy and prosperous year 2015. Stay happy and blessed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookie

Hey friends! I hope you are done with your holiday shopping, baking, buying gifts, wrapping gifts and thousand and one activities that this season demands. I know, I know, its too much of work loaded in few days. And then you remember that you have not done the cookies for Santa! No worries, this year I will make these no bake cookies for the jolly ol man to snack. They are super easy, sugar free and yes they are no bake. These are perfect for that tiny 3 o'clock hunger, or post workout snack. 

And did I tell that they are less than 5 ingredients? You cannot go wrong with these.

Ingredients

Peanut - 1/4 cup, roasted
Peanut butter - 1/4 cup, (I used creamy one)
Dates - 10-12, pitted
Sea salt - A pinch



I roasted the peanuts on dry pan and skinned them, mostly.



Pulse the peanuts in your food processor,  2-3 minutes, till they are smooth but chunky. 

Add the dates to it and pulse for a minute or two. You might need to scrap of the sides. It can be too sticky, so you can add a tablespoon or two of warm water.

Add the peanut butter and give a pulse. Mix all well and pulse once more.

Word of caution, do not put all three together and pulse. It gets very difficult and sticky. yes, I did that first time and learned my lesson.


Take a tablespoon of this mix, roll in a ball in between palms and press it flat in form of cookie. Keep in refrigerator for 1-2 h to harden a bit.


This usually makes about 10-12 cookies of the size shown, but I may have ate almost half of it.

 Its delicious!


 Serve it with warm milk for yourself or for friends and family and yes of course for this old man too.

Happy Holidays to all my friends! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Aditi's Aloor Dum or Spicy Potato Curry

What a wonder technology can do! Recently few of us friends from school grouped up in Whats app and got connected after long 10-15 years. We are separated from one another by cities, countries and even continents. But that does not stop us from sharing our minds, happiness and frustrations from each other. We are picking up from where we left 15 years back. We are getting introduced to each others kids, better halves and to our many hidden and new talents.

One such friend in the group is Aditi. She is beautiful, homemaker and mother to a gorgeous 10 year old girl. She also runs a small business of home cooked food from her home. How then can I resist to ask her to write a guest post for me? She presented a recipe for aloor dum, spicy Indian potato curry. Being cooked so often at our household, I have been planning to share for so long in my blog but somehow could not make it. Thanks to Aditi, here I have a recipe for Aloor Dum now in my space.

Here is Aditi and her experiences of cooking, 




In her own words....

I was born and brought up in a small family with my brother, parents and grandparents in Calcutta, India. My parents and my grandmother were fabulous cooks and their's specialty was vegetarian dishes that to NO ONION GARLIC. Born in a Bengali household I was brought up on a hearty dose of fish curries, shondesh and rasogolla. My cooking started when I was just 9 years old when my father had a heart surgery. As a little helper to my granny, always used to be next to her with an inquisitive eye. Later part of my life i learnt making them from my own ideas.

My life changes after my grandparents and my father’s death and my mother illness. So me and my brother end up to take care of the family and studies together. Cooking was an on and off business.


I got married but my in-laws were in a different city.With great shock I came to know that my hubby is a wonderful cook and love to experiment with food.  So I compelled to start cooking again and slowly revived all my memories and also started gaining interest. I moved to Dubai around 12 years back got my little angel  who is now 10 years is too a big time foodie. My life adventures took me to different corners of India and then to lot of places around the world. In this journey I met different people and my inner instinct force me to learn lot of their dishes. I combine all these disparate learning's to bring a variety to the table.

I believe cooking is not a chore but a form of art and off course a stress busters. It satiates all of our senses and not just of our taste buds.


Ingredients


Potatoes - 1 kg or 12-15 baby potatoes
    Oil - 3 to 4 tbsp (mustard oil preferably)
    Bay leaf/tej patta -1
    Whole garam Masala - 1 inch  cinnamon, 2/3 cardamom, 2/3 cloves
    Asafoetida - ¼ teaspoon 
    Garam masala powder - 1 teaspoon 
    Red chilli  -   
    Kashmiri red chili powder - 1/2 teaspoon (or according to taste)
    Cumin -      2 teaspoon
    Cumin powder - 1 teaspoon
    Ginger paste -  2 Tablespoon 
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
    Yogurt - 2 Tablespoon
   Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
    Cilantro - 4 tablespoon, chopped fine
    Sugar and salt as per taste
    Water - 2-4 tablespoon, warm




Rinse the potatoes very well and parboil the potatoes in a steamer or pressure cooker with salt. Drain out the water and let it cool down for a while. Peel off the skin and dab turmeric powder to it.

Heat 1 and 1/2 tablespoon oil and add whole cumin seeds and asafoetida. When cumin seeds starts cracking, add the potatoes. Fry well till it becomes golden brown.

Heat remaining oil in a kadai, add dry red chilli, whole jeera, tej patta, asafoetida and whole garam masala. Let it cracks well add chopped tomatoes and sauté well.

Add ginger paste and sauté till oil started leaving.
Now add all dry masalas - red chilli powder, haldi cumin powder salt sugar and sauté well.

Add yogurt and sauté till it starts leaving oil.

Add potatoes, little green chillis, coriander leaf, garam masala powder and little water. Cover it with a lid and let it boil for 5 mins.

Remove the lid and put off the gas when it becomes semi thick gravy.

Garnish with Garam masala powder and coriander leaf.

Enjoy!

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Thanks Aditi, for the yummy recipe.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Black And White Wednesday 151

Hello, friends. Hope you all are doing great. This will be the first gallery since BWW went biweekly. As always, I am so very happy to host this gallery of lovely photos!



New bww logo big

 So, relax, put your feet up and enjoy the gallery!  


                                   
English Tea and Bengali adda at Mrs. Magpie from Balaka of Wanderful
(Balaka is my childhood school friend).





Easy French Bread Loaf from Lynne of Cafe Lynnulu.
(I love breads and this seems tempting enough for me to try soon).





Sicilian Cannoli  from Cinzia of Cindystar.
(Cinzia, seriously, I am drooling right now! This is my one of most "frequent buy" from Little Italy). 




Grapes Before The Harvest from Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums.
(I always love all of Rosa's beautiful clicks, so no exception for this).


and



Treats for Goddess Lakshmi from your's truly of Pocketfull Of Spices.


I hope you enjoy this nice medley of black and white images. The next edition of BWW will be up on December 3 and will be hosted by Aparna of Stories from the Mahe Coast. See you all there.