+ Homemade Awadhi Biryani

Perfecting the legendary Kolkata Biryani at home

The potato in Kolkata Biryani is my favourite part of the dish. In this Awadhi style of cooking, the dum pukht technique allows the the aromatic juices from the mutton to ooze into the fine grains of rice.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It’s certainly true in my case, but if I were to be specific about the kind of food, it would be Biryani and Mughlai food. Not any Biryani, but the Awadhi/Lucknowy style Mutton Biryani that we grew up eating in Kolkata. The Bearded Biker’s love for Awadhi Biryani made us hop into Lucknow for an evening, only to eat. His Biryani love has now been transmitted to the Z-sisters and myself too in a big way… so much so that Big Z wanted us to take the first flight out to Lucknow, once her GCSEs got over!

Kolkata Mutton Biryani

If I may coyly declare, I think have perfected the art of cooking the Biryani in the style of Shiraz Golden Restaurant. To celebrate the Bearded Biker’s birthday, we had a chef who used to work in Shiraz Golden Restaurant, come home and cook. The menu was as per his liking – Mutton Biryani, Chicken Chaanp, Galawati Kababs and Lachha Parathas. While the chef cooked everything at home, we ordered the Lachha Parathas from Arsalan (located in Karama), another popular Mughlai restaurant from Kolkata. I learnt from the chef as he cooked, while noting down every single ingredient and technique that went into making each dish. This was a Pakki Biryani where the rice and meat are semi cooked separately and then arranged in layers in a pot and cooked in the Dum Pukht style. As I had expected from Mughlai cooking, the process was elaborate and time consuming. But if you are a keen cook, making the Kolkata Biryani at home would be quite engaging and stimulating. Before this Biryani hangover is over, I promise you that homemade Lachha Parathas and Galawatis are coming your way!

Shiraz Golden Restaurant style Awadhi Biryani

Kolkata Biryani can spark a huge debate – who serves the best Biryani in Kolkata? Did the addition of aloo, potato in the Awadhi Biryani downgrade its status? The Nawabs were known for their culinary indulgence and some argue that they certainly wouldn’t have approved of the humble aloo and attribute it to the financial difficulties of the Nawab in his later years. However, the great-great-grandson of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (Kolkata’s Mughlai food heritage is attributed to the Nawab), thinks otherwise. As this article indicate, in those days potatoes were considered exotic and addition of potatoes in the Biryani was a result of one of the many kitchen experiments that the Nawab indulged in. The addition of aloo was approved heartily by the Nawab and has since then become Kolkata Biryani’s culinary heritage.

Kolkata Mutton Biryani

Royal Indian Restaurant in Kolkata (set up as early as in 1905) always considered aloo in the Biryani, a culinary blasphemy. I remember meeting Gulam Nabi, the head chef of Royal, a descendent of the direct lineage of the khansama of Wajid Ali Shah in my Ramadan food trail with Kolkata Walks. I was told that ‘Royal would die out rather than introduce aloo and deem in their Biryani. A total no no!’. Well, it seems that Royal too had to succumb to the Bengalis’ love for aloo… and introduced the versatile ingredient in their legendary Biryani for the first time when they opened a branch in Park Circus in 2015.

Kolkata Mutton Biryani

Although the Awadhi cuisine has travelled far and wide, nowhere has it settled down strongly as it has in Kolkata. Mohammed Wajid Ali Shah Bahadur (1822 AD-1887 AD), the Nawab of the princely Indian state of Awadh or Oudh (which is modern day Lucknow), was a well-known food aficionado. Kolkata Biryani is cooked in the Dum Pukht style, where the meat, rice or vegetables are covered and sealed in a copper or an earthen pot with a dough of flour. Everything is then let to cook in its own juices on a very slow flame. This Dum Pukht style of cooking can be traced to the Nawabi kitchens of Awadh. Exotic nuts, herbs and aphrodisiacs went into the Dum Pukht meals that were cooked for the Nawabs.

Kolkata Mutton Biryani

In 1857 AD, when the Awadh kingdom was annexed by the British, Nawab Mohammed Wajid Ali Shah Bahadur was exiled to Calcutta (today’s Kolkata). His passion for gourmet food travelled from Lucknow to Kolkata and was nurtured, garnished and fuelled by his special Bawarchis – the Chefs of the Nawab. It is believed that only a handful of chefs with royal khansama or lineage knew the secrets to the authentic Awadhi Cuisine. Each Mughlai restaurant in Kolkata today, however, claims to have one such gem working in their kitchen. While the meat to rice ratio in their Biryani varies, so does the secret ingredients that go into making their Biryani special and unique!

Homemade Awadhi Biryani

Our Biryani nostalgia mostly centres around Shiraz Golden restaurant in Park Circus. The budget for our parties during my college days would allow a packet of Special Mutton Biryani (special would mean an egg in the Biryani), a plate of Chicken Chaanp and a Firni for each person. The menu was always the same – budget was limited but our love for Biryani was unlimited.

Serving the Biryani is an art too. In the restaurant, the Biryani is scooped along the sides of the pan with a quarter plate, digging deep into the bottom layer and bringing up pieces of mutton and aloo with the fragrant Biryani rice. The Biryani rice sporadically erupts into the yellow and white rice, much like fine poetry.

The potato in Kolkata Biryani is my favourite part of the dish. In this Awadhi style of cooking, the dum pukht technique allows the the aromatic juices from the mutton to ooze into the fine grains of rice. Needless to say, it has to be Mutton Biryani and it has to be special… meaning there has to be a stark white egg staring back at me!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Dessert recipes that will complement your Biryani:
Semaiya Kheer or Vermicelli Pudding
Firni or Ferni - The broken rice pudding

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

Kolkata Biryani

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: elaborate
  • Print
Category=rice and meat one-pot dish; Cuisine=Mughlai

basmati rice

Ingredients

4 cups basmati rice, extra-long grained ones (I use the sella basmati, a parboiled variety used to make Biryani in specialised restaurants)
2 kg mutton (10 pieces/kg of meat with bones, as that leave a unique flavour than the boneless ones)
6 medium sized onions, sliced thinly
8 big potatoes cut into halves
8 eggs, hardboiled and deshelled

Whole spices
6 star anise
4 pieces 1-inch cinnamon sticks
6 black cardamoms

2 tsp white pepper, powdered
2 tbsp ginger-garlic powder
4 tbsp special homemade Biryani masala*

100 ml rose water
100 ml kewra water
½ cup alu bukhara or prunes, dried
2 cups white oil
500 gms ghee
salt – to taste
2 tsp sugar
½ cup milk
1 tsp saffron
2 tsp yellow food colouring (This is optional. You may use saffron soaked in milk)
1 tsp Meetha attar or Biryani flavouring

For marination of mutton
500 gms yoghurt
4 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
4 tsp red chilli powder
½ papaya, finely grated
½ cup cashews, grinded into a fine paste
4 tbsp Biryani masala*

*Biryani masala
For 100 gms of Biryani masala, grind together the following:
30gms javitri or mace
30gms cinnamon powder
5 gms chhoti elaichi or green cardamom
25 gms gulab patti or rose petals, dried and crushed
5 gms jaiphal or nutmeg
5 gms cloves

3 cups flour to make the dough for the dum
1 muslin cloth (optional)

For garnish
Dried fruits like cashews and raisins, pan-roasted in slight ghee (this is optional. However, I avoid any garnishing with dried fruits as the Bearded Biker isn’t too fond of it and feels it likens his Biryani into a Pulao)

Method

  • Wash the rice in cold water, drain and spread over newspaper/kitchen towel for 15-20 minutes or until absolutely dry.
  • Marinate the mutton with yoghurt, grated papaya, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, cashew paste and the Biryani masala.
  • Soak the saffron in milk in a bowl. Keep aside.
  • Soak yellow colouring in ½ cup water. Keep aside.
  • Heat ghee in a pan. Add ½ tsp of sugar. Add the sliced onions and fry them till they are golden brown. Set them aside on tissue paper so that the excess oil is absorbed and they turn crispy. Keep aside ¼ of the fried onions for cooking the meat and the rest for using while layering the rice and for garnishing.

For the Mutton

  • In a deep bottomed pan, heat 1 cup of white oil. Add the whole spices. Once the aroma starts drifting out, set them aside and put them in a muslin cloth (this is for those who do not like the whole spices coming into their mouth, while making sure that the aroma is intact.
  • Add fried onions and ginger-garlic, taking care that you don’t burn them.
  • Add the marinated meat, salt and sugar. Cook in high flame for ten minutes until all the spices in the marination gather themselves up.
  • Cover up the meat pieces with enough water. Add the meetha attar, rose water, kewra water and prunes. Let it cook in slow flame until the meat is three-fourth cooked. Try to maintain enough gravy that can be used later while layering of the Biryani.

For the Rice

  • Heat some ghee in a deep bottomed pan. Stir in the rice lightly. Add water till the level of water is more than double the height of the level of rice. Drain off the excess water while the rice is three-fourth cooked.
  • Settle the rice by shaking the pan. Dig in holes into the layer of rice with a back of a spoon. Pour the yellow colouring or saffron soaked milk into the holes.

Layering of the Biryani

  • In the deep bottomed pan (pot or a handi) in which the meat has been cooked, keep the gravy up to the level that covers the meat. Keep aside the rest of the gravy for serving with the Biryani. Layer with a portion of rice and lather generously with ghee. Sprinkle some fried onions and spread some saffron soaked milk and strands of saffron over the layer of rice. Repeat the process of layering twice or until it fills up your pan.
  • Once the layering is done, pour over the remaining of saffron soaked in milk along with a bit of rose water. Add ghee generously around the sides of the pan, so that the Biryani rice doesn’t stick to the pan. Add fried cashew nuts and raisins if you are using them. Sprinkle a bit of Biryani Masala on top.
  • Make a dough with flour and a bit of sugar. Flatten it  and cover the cooking vessel. Seal the top of the vessel with this dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the Biryani pan in the oven and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  • If you aren’t using an oven, cook this over a stove top over a slow flame and cook for 15 minutes.
The chef was very adamant that the Biryani had to be served it with a simple light raita made with yoghurt, grated cucumber, carrots and a pinch of salt. Keep the focus on the Biryani and open the seal just before serving. Don’t forget to add the plain boiled eggs.

Kolkata Mutton Biryani

+ Homemade Lachha ParathaLachha

Lachha Paratha – Love and ghee in every layer

We made Lachha Parathas at home the other day. They turned out to be smoky, crispy and slightly flaky, just like they should be – only a bit less oily and slightly thicker.

Homemade Lachha Paratha

Making the multi layered Lachha Paratha at home was another feat. Much like making Acharuli, the boat-shaped Georgian cheese bread at home. Or perfecting the Awadhi style Kolkata Mutton Biryani. The first time we made the Lachha Parathas at home, they turned out to be smoky, crispy and slightly flaky, just like they should be – only a bit less oily and slightly thicker. No matter how much ghee we poured (or love, for that matter) onto the Lachhas, the layers seem to gulp up all the ghee.

Beef Mughlai

Laccha Paratha with beef Mughlai

We complimented the Lachha Parathas with a pistachio encrusted Mughlai preparation of beef (above), the aroma of which reminded us immediately of Galawati Kababs. Naturally, there had to be a next time for the Lachhas… this time with Galawatis (below)!

Lachha paratha with Galawati Kababs

Paratha – the popular flatbread from the subcontinent, can be compared to fine jewellery. Like jewellery, there are different types of parathas originating in different regions and they come in different shapes, textures, forms and intricacies in design. The basic technique of paratha making remains the same…  unleavened flatbreads made by cooking flour dough on a tawa or the cast-iron griddle, or baking inside a tandoor and mostly followed by shallow frying. The nitty-gritties of making each type, make the parathas distinctively different from each other.

Homemade Lachha Paratha

Homemade Lachha and other Parathas

I love parathas of all kinds. Apart from stuffed parathas, I also love plain parathas – specially when they are fresh out of the tawa, with a dollop of ghee or butter. There are some parathas which are absolute indulgences, namely the Lachha paratha, Mughlai paratha, Dhakai paratha and the soft fluffy ones that go into the making of Kolkata Kati Rolls.

Nothing beats these pleated multi-layered Lachha Parathas though, where the drama unfolds as you rip the flaky ghee-laden concentric layers and dip into your desired curry or a simple hot garlic pickle!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Bread recipes that you might enjoy:
Homemade Bread with Sprinkled Sesame
Cinnamon Rolls

Making Laccha Paratha at home

Making Laccha Paratha at home

Making Laccha Paratha at home

Making Laccha Paratha at home

Making Laccha Paratha at home

Making Laccha Paratha at home

Making Laccha Paratha at home

Laccha Paratha

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
Category=Flatbread; Cuisine=Punjabi, IndianHomemade Lachha Paratha

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour (you can also use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups all purpose flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp milk
½ cup ghee or white oil

Method

  • In a bowl, combine well-sifted flour and salt. Dissolve the sugar in warm water and add into the flour. Stir and mix well. Add 2 tbsp of ghee. Start kneading the dough by adding a bit of water and 1 tbsp of ghee. Knead until the dough is soft.
  • Take palmfuls of dough to roll into smooth balls, with slightly greased hands.. With a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a rectangular shape, spreading it as thinly as you can. Brush the surface of the flattened out dough generously with ghee.
  • Make thin strips onto the flattened out dough with a knife. (You can also make pleats)
  • Gather the strips longitudinally and holding onto one end with your palm, make a spiral like a Swiss roll. Gently flatten the spiral roll into a paratha by pressing onto the with your fingers. Apply some more ghee continuously.
  • Heat a tawa or a pan, pour ghee and shallow fry the Paratha on both sides until it turns crispy and golden brown. Serve hot.

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

+ Chicken machboos at the cultural lunch at SMCCU

Dubai Creekside, Al Fahidi and a cultural lunch at SMCCU

Despite Dubai’s changing landscape, the historic district of Al Shidagha, the traditional Textile Souq along the Bur Dubai side of the creek, the continuing Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (formerly Bastakiya), the Spice Souq and Gold Souq across the creek in the Deira side… all these places have managed to retained their original charm and sanctity.

Bukhoor or Bakhoor, scented bricks soaked in fragrant oils Bukhoor or Bakhoor, scented bricks soaked in fragrant oils

Today’s post is in celebration of my brother’s birthday. A designer by profession, he’s an artist, a creative soul and capable of capturing the eclectic in things that others would find most ordinary and random. This is a creative and a foodie day out in my favourite places of Dubai, along with two of my most creative buddies with whom I have shared many a creative travel moments – long before lockdown and travel bans. Here’s to Neil, my little brother (not so little anymore) and Rupa, my artist friend and a talented amateur photographer!

Ishita B Saha, Rupa Dutt Chowdhury, Aveek Bhattacharya

Dubai is a city where the landscape is changing by the minute. Despite all the changes, reconstructions and restorations that I have witnessed in almost two decades of living here, there are still a few places which retain their original charm and sanctity. These are the select places in Dubai that I would love any creative person (or any person) to visit… Al Shidagha, the traditional Textile Souq along the Bur Dubai side of the creek, the continuing Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood or (formerly Bastakiya), the Spice Souq and Gold Souq across the creek in the Deira side. All these places can be traced to the 1890s, reflecting the humble beginning of Dubai making the evolution of the city even more breathtaking.

We’ve spent almost two decades in Dubai – the Z-Sisters have been born and brought up here. For me, the kaleidoscopic charm of traditional souqs of Dubai supersede the impressive shopping malls, so does the traditional houses with its’ alluring wind-towers over the glitzy skyscrapers. Hoping that it’s the same for you too!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. We paid for all our meals at Blue Barjeel, XVA Cafe while SMCCU kindly hosted us our FoodeMag team. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

Bin Zayed Mosque in Shindagha historical districtBin Zayed Mosque in Al Shindagha constructed in 1964

Historic district of Al Shidagha

I always like to start my itinerary by parking near the Al Ghudaiba Metro station before exploring the traditional houses of Al Shindagha. Some of these houses are converted into museums and spaces for special exhibits – for example, the Architecture Museum (read in my Hidden Gems column) or the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, the historic building and former residential quarters of former ruler of Dubai. For me, the kaleidoscopic charm of traditional souqs supersede the impressive shopping malls any day. The mishmash of items sold at small kiosks or established retail outlets in the old Textile Souq range from expensive regional antiques and artefacts to embroidered cushions, clothing and footwear from the subcontinent, attars or aromatic Arabic perfumes to bukhour or oudhs, incenses and scented bricks soaked in fragrant natural oils, local spices and many such interesting things. Added impetus are always the fresh coconut water or freshly squeezed sugar cane juices to keep one hydrated during the mini breaks! The original plan was to stop at Barjeel Guest House for breakfast but it wasn’t open. Instead, we halted at Blue Barjeel Restaurant by the creek side – another casual eatery that I like to take our guests to. A masala omelette with parathas, a plate of crispy fried falafels and fresh coconut water fuelled us up adequately until our next meal halt – lunch at SMCCU.

Intricately designed traditional doors in Sheikh Saeed Al Makhtoum House, est. in 1896

Sheikh Saeed Al Makhtoum House Traditional wooden windows in Sheikh Saeed Al Makhtoum House

Sheikh Saeed Al Makhtoum House is vast and occupies around 3600 sqm and now a houses a museum

Inside Saeed Al Maktoum HouseThe rooms inside Sheikh Saeed Al Makhtoum House are decorated in a traditional way

Inside Saeed Al Maktoum HouseApart from artefacts, the museum also has many images of old Dubai from the 1940s and 1950s

Traditional Architecture Museum in the historical district in ShindaghaAnother intricate wooden door in the Traditional Architecture Museum

Traditional Architecture Museum in Al Fahidi Historical District in ShindaghaA typical of a traditional Emirati house in the historical districts of Al Shindagha and Al Fahidi

Dubai CreeksideDubai creek, the focal point in Dubai’s trading history. It is a natural sea-water inlet that cuts the city into two parts – Deira and Bur Dubai

Blue Barjeel restaurant by Dubai creekside in Bur DubaiBlue Barjeel restaurant offers a spectacular view of Dubai creekside

Masala omelette at Blue Barjeel restaurant by Dubai creekside in Bur DubaiMasala omelette

Breakfast at Blue Barjeel restaurant by Dubai creekside in Bur DubaiBreakfast at Blue Barjeel – falafels, parathas and eggs

Vendors setting their shops in Textile souq in Bur DubaiVendors setting up their shops in Textile Souq

Juttis or Nagrais sold in the Textile souq in Bur DubaiJuttis or Nagrais, traditional embroidered footwear in the Textile Souq

A spice shop in Textile Souq in Bur DubaiA spice shop selling exotic spices, extracts and dried herbs

Emirati artefacts in Textile souqA window display with artefacts and antiques

A shop in the temple alley in Bur Dubai selling all puja ingredientsA shop in the temple alley in selling fresh flower garlands and other puja ingredients

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood or Bastakiya as it was known earlier

The Al Fahidi district, on the other hand is a riot of colours and a stimulation for any art lover. Galleries hidden in nooks and sikkas or alleys, traditional houses restored and transformed into cool cafes and eateries, museums showcasing specific interests – the options are far too many along the cobbled winding sikkas of Al Fahidi. After our lunch break with a cultural meal at SMCCU, we briefly visited the Coffee Museum, the Calligraphy House, Majlis Gallery, XVA Art Hotel and Café and a few other villas in this heritage quarter. The SMCCU or the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) offers a range of cultural and culinary activities and initiates both the expats and tourists into Emirati culture. Fathayah Younis, our lovely presenter at SMCCU welcomed us with Qahwa, the traditional Arabic coffee followed by an elaborate lunch spread that comprised of Chicken Biryani, Lamb Machboos, Lamb Margooba, Vegetable Saloona and the divine Leqaimat – the crispy fried golden dough balls coated with date syrup and sesame seeds!

Qahwa, the traditional Arabic coffee made from green coffee beans and cardamom | cultural meal at SMCCU

Chicken machboos at the cultural lunch at SMCCUChicken Machboos at our cultural lunch at SMCCU

Leqaimat, crispy fried golden dough balls coated with date syrup and sesame seeds. Fathayah Younis, our presenter at SMCCU pours date syrup over Leqaimats, the crispy fried golden dough balls

Fathayah Younis, presenter at SMCCU explains the local clothing etiquette and the use of ‘niqab’Fathayah explains the local clothing etiquette and the use of niqab

Fathayah Younis, presenter at SMCCU explains the local clothing etiquette

A display in SMCCU of an old type writer with Arabic fonts

A traditional majlis arrangement in front of Arabian tea HouseA traditional majlis arrangement in front of Arabian Tea House

A photo session in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in Bur DubaiAn impromptu photo session in progress in Al Fahidi

Artwork from Mawaheb from Beautiful People An exhibit in front of Mawaheb from Beautiful People, a Dubai-based art studio for ‘determined’ adults

Majlis Gallery in in Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood in Bur DubaiThe courtyard inside Majlis Gallery, set up in 1976 by expatriate Alison Collins who fell in love with the unique architecture of Al Fahidi houses

XVA Gallery Art Hotel & CafeThe legendary mint lemonade in XVA Gallery Art Hotel & Cafe

The interiors of XVA Café has art exhibits and specialises in contemporary art from the Arab world and the sub-continent

Make Art Cafe in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in Bur DubaiMAKE Art Cafe is in partnership with the creative Alserkal Cultural Foundation

Knickknacks in a souvenir shop in Al FahidiPretty knick knacks in a souvenir shop in Al Fahidi

Related links (none of the below are affiliated links):
www.cultures.ae
www.coffeemuseum.ae
www.mawaheb-dubai.com
www.themajlisgallery.com

 

+ Grilled eggplant in tempered spices

Grilled Eggplant in tempered spices | Big Z turned sixteen

This Grilled eggplant in tempered spices or Tadka Baigan was, as if a modern preparation with a desi soul, just like Big Z.

Turmeric in hand

Big Z turned sixteen… she was merely eight-year-old when my blog started! Today’s recipe is much like her, at least in temperament. Grilled Eggplant in tempered spices… baby eggplants in a spunky tadka of Indian spices. I used a mishmash of cooking techniques… grilling as well as a traditional chaunk or the tempering with whole spices roasted in pungent mustard oil and then poured onto the grilled eggplants. It was a burst of colours as well as flavours.

Grilled eggplant in tempered spices

I also tried out a variation of Doi Begun, the Bengali preparation of eggplant in yoghurt (below). This turned out to be equally amazing, so might keep it for another post. In Doi Begun, eggplants are fried and then cooked in a yoghurt gravy. In my version, I added some whipped yoghurt with spices to the eggplants and grilled them, before adding the tempered whole spices.

Doi Begun

The tadka baigan or grilled eggplant in tempered spices was, as if a modern preparation with a desi soul, just like Big Z. For her birthday lunch, however, she demanded to be surprised. We did manage to surprise her, which is a feat in itself considering that we are staying at home together all the time these days. We celebrated amidst screaming and screeching and zoom parties and cakes and surprises and hopefully everything that our young lady wished for. Do catch me on my instagram stories if you would like to see the feat and the feast!

Big Z - Shrishti Saha

Big Z - Shrishti Saha

Big Z - Shrishti Saha

Do keep safe, stay blessed and may you occasionally burst into colourful and flavourful surprises just like my Grilled Eggplant in tempered spices!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Some recipes that Big Z likes:
Homemade Nutty Spreads – Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

Stuffed Chilli Spring Rolls

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

Baby eggplants

Marinated Eggplant

Grilled eggplant

Grilled eggplant

Grilled eggplant in tempered spices

Grilled Eggplant in tempered spices

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category=Sidedish; Cuisine=Indian

Grilled eggplant in tempered spices

 

Ingredients

18 baby eggplants
6 green chillies, sliced longitudinally
3 dried whole red chillies
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp black mustard seeds
3 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp red chilli powder
3 tbsp cumin powder
3 tbsp coriander powder
½ cup mustard oil (stronger the better)
salt as per taste

Method

  • Make a slice in each eggplant longitudinally, keeping the stem intact.
  • Smear the eggplants with salt, turmeric and mustard oil.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Brush the baking tray with mustard oil (or the foiled baking tray if you are using a foil). Place the eggplants in one layer in the tray. Add some chillies in between the eggplants and grill for 10 minutes.
  • Take out the tray and pour a generous amount of mustard oil on top of the eggplants. Sprinkle coriander powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder over the eggplants. Put the tray back into the grill for another 30 minutes or until the eggplants are well cooked.
  • In the meantime, prepare the spice tempering. When the pan is hot, add the remaining mustard oil (leaving aside 1 tsp for a final sprinkle). When the oil is hot, add the whole spices. Start with the whole red chillies, bay leaves and green chillies. Then add the mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Stir in order not to burn the tempering as this will make your dish taste bitter.
  • Add the tempered spices over the grilled eggplants once they are done. Pour 1 tsp mustard oil over the eggplants one last time for a fresh burst of strong aroma of mustard oil.

+ Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines.

Celebrating Eid with Binangkal – the Filipino version of Middle Eastern Leqaimat

Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines. They are quite similar to the regional favourite Leqaimats which are traditionally consumed during Iftar in the holy month of Ramadan, but less sweet.

Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines.

Eid Mubarak! I am sharing Lady M’s recipe of binangkal that I recently shared with Khaleej Times. Binangkals, according to me, are the Filipino version of Middle Eastern Leqaimats. In the Philippines, binangkals are popular munchies with tea and coffee and sold at roadside stalls and regular bakeries. Lady M has been living with us for for more than 12 years now. Over the years she has learnt to cook Bengali and Indian food from the internet and my cookbooks and makes the most delicious dishes from all over the world. She has also introduced a lot of Filipino food in our Bengali kitchen. The recipe proportion she follows here is gathered over the internet and from her friend who works in a bakery. I felt that binagkal would be a fitting tribute to the essence of not only the holy month of Ramadan culminating with the Eid celebrations but also living in the UAE, a melting pot of so many different nationalities.

Binangkal recipe

Dubai and the UAE has been our adopted home for the last two decades and now the time has come for us to relocate. Lady M is also moving into another loving family. We are grateful to have her in our lives – she’s been an integral part of our family, another mother to the Z-Sisters, my partner in all our kitchen experiments. We once made a Bengali and Filipino fusion dessert, which is still one of our favourites of all times. No bidding goodbyes please … may we continue celebrating togetherness, cherished memories, inspired food stories, a mishmash of cultures and cuisines wherever we are – with leqaimats and binangkals!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Dessert recipes that you might like making for Eid: 
Semaiya Kheer or Vermicelli Pudding
Firni or Ferni - The broken rice pudding
Moong Daaler Payesh or Yellow Lentil Pudding

Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines.

Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines.

Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines.

Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines.

Binangkal

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category=Bread and Dessert; Cuisine=Filipino

Binangkals are deep-fried dough ball coated with sesame seeds and originates from the Philippines.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar, powdered
¼ cup corn starch
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
½ cup cream
1 egg
1 tbsp white oil
2 cups white sesame seeds, for coating
white oil, for deep frying (you will require generous amount)

Method

  • In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, corn starch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine cream, egg, oil and stir well.
  • Add the above mixture into the flour mixture and mix it until it forms a smooth dough.
  • Take palmfuls of dough to roll into smooth balls, with slightly greased hands.
  • Coat with sesame seeds.
  • Deep fry until golden. Drain the Binangkals on paper towel to soak the excess oil.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

+ Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread or Khachapuri

Acharuli – Making the boat shaped Georgian Khachapuri at home

The kitchen is the central focal point in our home around which all of us are orbiting eternally… much like the sun in our solar system!

Making of Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread at home

We cook everything at home – Bengali recipes picked up from my mother or mother-in-law, friends, various blogs and different social media platforms, the multiple cookbooks that I have collected over the years, much of which are signed from the authors and chefs who have penned them… and last but not the least, food inspired by our travels. Ever since we became evolved bakers (we imply the Z-Sisters and Lady M, while the Bearded Biker and I are mostly into hands-on cooking, however elaborate it may be), it was time to transcend beyond simple breads… and boundaries. Making of Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread at home

Making Acharuli, the stunning boat shaped Khachapuri or Georgian cheese-bread at home was highly thrilling. It was a collaborative project between Big Z and Lady M and the outcome was not only successful but soul-satisfying. Khachapuris are cheese-filled breads and are shaped in various ways. Traditionally, the cheese that is used is a regional cheese called sulguni. The acharuli khachapuris originated from the Adjaran region in Georgia. Over and above the generous cheese-filling in each bread-boat, a big blob of butter and an egg yolk sat right in the middle!

Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread or Khachapuri

You can find the Acharuli recipe in www.foodemag.com, the food and travel website that I am a co-founder of. The recipe has been shared by Alice Feiring, an American journalist and author who visited Georgia in 2011 and wrote the book ‘For the Love of Wine’. The recipe uses shredded haloumi as a substitute for the regional cheese sulguni (the author suggests that you could also try mozzarella) and crumbled feta cheese.

Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread or Khachapuri

My family tasted their first acharuli in Telavi, Georgia’s wine region Kakheti. It was my second visit to Georgia, hence already a self-proclaimed connoisseur of Georgian food. Our guide led us through the diverse cultural and culinary heritage of Georgia over lunch in a restaurant that overlooked the beautiful Caucasus range. We learnt about the Adjaran region from where the acharuli originated, lay in the coast of Black Sea and the ethnic group Lazis inhabiting the region were mainly sailors. The shape of the acharuli – the cheese filling and the egg yolk represented the boat, sea and the sun respectively!

Making of Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread at home

If you are confident with your dough-making skills, making acharuli at home shouldn’t be very difficult. Our acharulis turned out to be exactly how we had tasted in Georgia. They had to be eaten immediately out of the oven with the egg yolk staring bright yellow and still intact. The mission, as I had learnt in Georgia, was to make a gooey mess as you stirred the egg yolk in the piping hot filling of cheese. In our case, by the time the entire family assembled at the table, the egg seemed slightly cooked. This turned out to be quite a boon in disguise. As Big Z pointed out, it was better to avoid eating raw food at the moment.

Making of Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread at homeMaking of Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread at homeMaking of Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread at homeMaking Acharuli, the boat shaped Georgian cheese-bread at home

Tasting Acharuli in Georgia

There are many regional variations of khachapuris and one of our best food memories in Georgia are from a roadside family restaurant in Pasanauri, We didn’t taste acharuli there, instead, drooled over another type of khachapuri – Pkhlovana. Filled with salty Ossetian cheese and beetroot leaves, the pkhlovana khachapuris were fried crispy in sunflower oil. We visited Georgia during spring and what a sight to behold all around. Flowers bloomed everywhere, specially cherry blossoms. We randomly stopped to buy sweet cherries, plums, peaches and other fruits sold by the countryside. At Telavi, we made our wishes as we hugged a 900-year old plane tree. The Giant Plane Tree was the oldest plane tree in Georgia and amongst one of the many fauna wonders that the country flaunted during spring.

Saving the best for the last – in our last night in Georgia in Tbilisi, we came across a giant Acharuli in the popular Georgian fast-food chain called Samikitno. It had three egg yolks on top of the generous cheese-filling and had been appropriately named the ‘Titanic Acharuli’! The acharulis that we made at home may not have been as giant as the one in Tbilisi, they could be if we wanted them to be. The successful outcome, however, is in itself a giant step in our evolution in bread making at home!

Hope my food story inspires you to explore or revisit different countries through their cuisines, from your kitchen and home!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

You might like trying out what we've been cooking up at home recently: 
Thai Papaya Salad Recipe
Homemade Bread with Sprinkled Sesame
Stuffed Chilli Spring Rolls
Happy Cinnamon Rolls

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. Our Georgia vacation was self-paid. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

+ Homemade gurer shondesh

Shubho Noboborsho – Makha Gurer Shondesh and other homemade Bengali sweets

You can take a Bengali out of Bengal, but clearly not Mishti – sweets, out of a Bengali!

Homemade Bengali sweets for Noboborsho

Shubho Noboborsho to all of you! Today was a working day and since everybody is either working or studying from home these days, I thought of keeping the Noboborsho lunch menu simple, but special. Li’l Z loves the Bengali prawn delicacy – Chingri Maacher Malaikari and Big Z longed for Bhapa Mishti Doi – steamed sweet yoghurt. She makes me feel quite special every time she declares that I make the best mishti doi in the world, although I must admit that it’s not a traditional recipe but a tweaked one. I decided to make two different preparations for prawns – a malaikari, cooked in coconut milk and a spicy Shorshe Chingri Bhapa. In the latter preparation, the prawns are delicately steamed in mustard paste and green chillies, raw mustard oil poured on top. In addition to the above dishes, I felt it would be pretty fair to have another mishti since it was after all, the Bengali New Year. You can take a Bengali out of Bengal, but clearly not mishti out of a Bengali. On that note, I was pretty bemused with this news from back home – amidst the country wide lockdown, sweetshops have been given permission to keep open for four hours in West Bengal to cater to the Bengalis’ sweet cravings!

We decided on making Dudh Puli, rice flour dumplings with coconut-jaggery filling… all deliciously dunked in a thickened kheer. As it always does in our kitchen (#gratitude),  one sweet led to the other. There was extra filling for the pulis, so that led to some Narkel Narus, the coconut-jaggery truffles. There was extra Gur or jaggery, so I thought, well … why not make some Makha Gurer Shondesh too? I am sharing the recipe – it’s not too sweet and pretty easy to make. Made from fresh homemade chhena (cottage cheese), this shondesh is called makha because it is kneaded until it’s soft. If you have shondesh moulds at home, they make pretty shapes too. From my precious kitchen collectibles, I used a special wooden mould that is used in this part of the world (Middle East) for making Ma’amouls. Ma’amouls are very popular here – pastry with date fillings inside and are decorated by hand or shaped by wooden moulds. Well, isn’t that an inspiring take of my Makha Shondesh on Ma’amoul moulds?

May only good memories and amazing things spill out from the magic hat at all times to sweeten your lives, no matter what!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

You may like trying out some Bengali sweets: 
Moong Daaler Payesh or Yellow Lentil Pudding
Bhapa Mishti Doi
Notun Gurer Payesh
Shondesh/Sandesh Pudding
		

Gobindobhog riceHomemade Gurer ShondeshHomemade Mishti Doi Homemade Mishti DoiFreshly grated coconut with jaggery Homemade gurer naruWooden mould for making Ma'amoul

Homemade Gurer Shondesh

Makha Gurer Shondesh

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category=Dessert; Cuisine=Bengali

Ingredients

1 litre full fat cow’s milk
1 lime, squeezed into juice
100 gms date palm syrup (these are readily available in supermarkets here. Traditionally, however, season fresh nolen gur is used and I too prefer to use the latter if its available)
½ tsp of rice flour (you can use flour)
½ tsp of cardamom powdered, preferably crushed from fresh cardamoms
1 tsp ghee to brush the surface of the mould

Method

  • In a large dekchi or a thick bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil. Lower the heat and add the lime juice. The milk should separate into chhena and whey.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and pour the chhena into a big sieve (traditionally a muslin cloth is used). Run it under cold water to remove any lingering taste of lime. Squeeze out as much water from the chhena and let it rest in the sieve for a while.
  • Transfer the fresh chhena into a glass bowl. Knead the dough until becomes smooth and soft.
  • Add the date syrup or date jaggery to the chhena and mix it until it blends completely into the chhena.
  • Start making balls of soft makha shondesh by a slight brushing of rice flour in your palms to prevent the dough sticking to your fingers.
  • Brush the shondesh mould lightly with ghee. Place each ball into the shondesh mould (I used a Ma’amoul mould) and flatten them. Take out the shaped shondesh gently from the mould. You may just leave them as round balls.
  • Serve the makha shondesh at room temperature.

The internet today is overloaded with information on COVID-19, do read and absorb whatever is necessary and adhere to the tips and advices that the respective authorities of your country of residence are sharing with you.

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

+ Homemade Nutty Spreads - Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

Homemade Nutty Spreads – Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

I love my time in the kitchen, specially the feeling that comes with being brushed off by a teen daughter who knows what she’s doing and is completely in charge of the kitchen!

Homemade Nutty Spreads - Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

Go Nuts! Literally that’s what we did over this weekend – Big Z, in particular. She busied herself by making spreads from all the nuts she could find in our kitchen counter – almonds, cashews and hazelnuts. It was a conscious decision on her part not to put any extra add-ons like coconut oil or sea-salt, in spite of the constant temptation from our internet wisdom. While making homemade nutty spreads was mostly Big Z’s initiative, it was also partly this mama’s practical quest to chance upon substitutes to keep the Z-Sisters away from the Nutella and peanut butter jars that emptied as soon as they entered our home. Could homemade spreads actually turn out as good as they are made out to be? Oh, absolutely! All of them turned out rich, creamy and magnificently delicious. Specially, the cashew spread. I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow, to lather one of these joyful spreads on a piece of toast of our delicious homemade bread. Big Z plans to have a spoonful with her oatmeal. She spent a lot of time making these spreads (bless her!) because we don’t have a high-speed blender at home. I find most kitchen gadgets like food processor and others cumbersome and difficult to clean, preferring smaller gadgets like a mini dry grinder and a hand blender. But if you have one at home, making homemade nutty spreads should be like a cakewalk. Well, that could be an idea for a treat – a simple homemade vanilla cake with a hazelnut spread.

A simple homemade spread transformed itself into a spectacular treat – I’m sure love was the single-most important ingredient. Along with dollops of gratitude. Stay safe, have fun… and spread lots of joy!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

You might like trying out what we've been cooking up at home recently: 
Thai Papaya Salad Recipe
Homemade Bread with Sprinkled Sesame
Stuffed Chilli Spring Rolls
Happy Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cashew spreadHomemade Cashew spread

Homemade Almond spread

Making homemade nutty spreadsHomemade Nutty Spreads - Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

Nutty Spreads - Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category=Spread; 

Homemade Nutty Spreads - Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

Ingredients

2 cups raw cashews
2 cups raw hazelnuts
2 cups raw almonds

Additionally, for Hazelnut spread
2 tbsp cocoa powder unsweetened
1 tbsp sugar

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 180ºC and roast the nuts for 10 minutes, having arranged them on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Once cool, loosen the skins from the nuts by cupping a handful of nuts in the palms and gently brushing them against each other.
  • Add each type of nut separately in a blender and blend until creamy (it should take 8-10 minutes on low speed if it’s a high-speed blender). As you blend, pause occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spatula for smooth blending and the spread gives out a rich texture.
  • For the Hazelnut spread, add cocoa powder and sugar while blending.
  • Transfer each spread to it’s respective jar and store in the refrigerator. The homemade spreads can last for two to three weeks.

Homemade Nutty Spreads - Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut

The internet today is overloaded with information on COVID-19, do read and absorb whatever is necessary and adhere to the tips and advices that the respective authorities of your country of residence are sharing with you.

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

+ Thai Green Papaya Salad made at home

Thai Papaya Salad Recipe – Also reminiscing the Floating Market in Global Village

This is our favourite Som Tam or the Thai Green Papaya Salad … it’s a very easy recipe to stir up. I tweaked the recipe a bit from a fridge magnet that I had collected on my Thailand trip. Every time we make it at home, the familiar sights and sounds from the trip comes alive.

Thai Green Papaya Salad made at home

Travelling to places – far away or even as close as your neighbour’s house, seem to be a distant memory. So does tasting new cuisines at different restaurants or food events. Every day, I keep rearranging our collection of fridge magnets that hold so many beautiful memories of our travels – our family vacations and my press trips, or souvenirs gifted by our friends from their holidays. May we continue gathering all images collectively, associated with all our beautiful memories. That’s the only forward to positively impact every person, who’s ever been part of our travel experiences – street-side vendors, small cafes and restaurants, hotels etc. It doesn’t really matter who they are… vendors, suppliers, creators, planners, marketeers… we are all in this together.

Today, I’m sharing the recipe of our favourite Thai Green Papaya Salad, or Som Tam… it’s a very easy recipe to stir up. I tweaked the recipe a bit from a fridge magnet that I had collected on my Thailand trip (image further below). Every time we make it at home, the familiar sights and sounds from the trip is alive. Refresh your travel memories by cooking dishes from different cuisines from your travels. Just to emphasise on the importance of keeping your good memories alive, I used this old album as my canvas backdrop. It belongs to my father and hopefully, he doesn’t find it missing!

Thai Green Papaya Salad made at home

Thai Green Papaya Salad made at home

Thai Papaya Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category=Salad; Cuisine=Thai

Thai Green Papaya Salad made at home

Ingredients

4 cloves of garlic
2 red chillies, chopped
1 green chilli, thinly sliced
½ tsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
2 cups green papaya (400 gms), shredded or julienned
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 Thai basil leaves, for garnishing
¼” long yardlong, Chinese long-bean or green bean

Method

  • Grind garlic and red chillies in a mortar.
  • Add shrimp paste, fish sauce, lime juice and honey.
  • Add the shredded papaya, tomatoes, peanuts and mix lightly with a pestle while pounding lightly.
  • Garnish with sliced green chillies, chopped coriander, sweet Thai basil and pieces of raw Chinese long-beans or green beans
  • Serve fresh to enjoy this refreshing salad. We often refrigerate

Grilled seafood in Floating Market in Global Village

Sights & Sounds of Global Village

Floating Market in Global Village

Seafood fried rice at Floating Market in Global Village

Mussels in Floating Market in Global Village

Global Village had a premature closing this season as a precautionary measure, in accordance to the call of the hour. For those who aren’t initiated, Global Village is a brilliant venue that showcase culture and cuisine from more than 90 countries around the world. My occasional visits to the Global Village had always been accompanied by visiting guests. The Z-Sisters would often joke that they hoped to visit Global Village before the decade ended in December 2019! Thankfully, they did. We planned a family visit during the school break last winter. The girls were thrilled and I fell in love with the Floating Market that had been built. Modelled after traditional floating markets in Thailand, more than 30 floating stalls were housed in boats lined the canal canal by the Far East Asia pavilion. Thai food was prepared in a street style manner inside the kitchens of their respective boat kiosks. The Floating Market offered a huge variety – sizzling seafood grills, freshly cooked authentic Thai food, Thai desserts like coconut ice-cream, tofu in coconut milk, mango with sticky rice and many other Far East-Asian specialities. We overindulged ourselves on mussels, grilled and served in two of its variations – in a spicy Thai red chilli sauce and butter and herbs, grilled squids, deep-fried calamaris and prawns. Between two successive visits, we tasted the popular Thai Green Papaya Salad, a spicy Indomie with shrimps and Seafood Fried Rice. Everything about the Floating Market reminded me of my trip to Thailand, where I had been fortunate enough to learn to cook authentic Thai red curry in a fishermen’s village. The aroma of red chillies, tamarind, Thai basil, fish sauce, galangal … the taste still lingers on – both from my cooking class in Thailand as well the Floating market in Global Village. https://www.globalvillage.ae/en/

Shaved Ice at Floating Market in Global Village

One thing I’ve learnt from Lil Z… savour all your sweet memories in rainbow colours, like her shaved ice. Sweeter memories will be manifested, soon!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

The internet today is overloaded with information on COVID-19, do read and absorb whatever is necessary and adhere to the tips and advices that the respective authorities of your country of residence are sharing with you.

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey oPinterestInstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. We paid for all our meals at the Floating Market in Global Village. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

+ Homemade wheat flour bread

Homemade Bread with Sprinkled Sesame – an ever evolving romance

Amongst all the things baked at home, nothing fills my heart with more gratitude and love than a freshly baked bread loaf just out of the oven.

Homemade wheat flour bread with sesame

We love cooking different kinds of recipes – simple or elaborate. Inspiration in our kitchen comes from different cuisines, cultures, cookbooks and random recipe discoveries online. Sometimes the menu is influenced by our travels and at times, they are a result of conversation I strike up with people I come across or other foodie friends and of course, from instagram and blog posts of my blogger friends. For years, I have been nervous about making dough, specially for cakes. I guess it’s because there is no room for altering proportions or zany experiments in such baking. The Z-Sisters have used this ignorance of mine to their advantage. Accompanied by our dearest Lady M, they have transformed into expert bakers. They bake almost everything – cupcakes, cookies, a variety of cakes. We also bake meatloaves and regular breads at home. Amongst all the things are baked at home, nothing fills my heart with more gratitude and love than a freshly baked bread loaf just out of the oven. The act of making a simple recipe coming to such a meaningful fruition is soul satisfying.

In our initial days, we used the regular self-raising flour to make our breads (images towards the end of the blogpost captured this journey). For a baking pan, we used a steel serving container left behind by one of the caterers from some party at home! Now we have bought a non-stick loaf-baking pan. Also, we use mostly atta or whole wheat, occasionally throwing in chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds and other ingredients we fancy. And gosh, we do fancy our sesame seeds! The addition of sesame not only ups the glamour quotient of our bread loaf, but also makes the taste punchier.

Homemade atta bread with sesame

Homemade wheat flour bread with sesame

Homemade wheat flour bread with sesame

Homemade Bread with Sprinkled Sesame

  • Servings: 15 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category=Bread;

Homemade atta bread with sesame

Ingredients

3½ cups atta/wheat flour
1 tbsp honey (we also use brown sugar sometimes)
1 ½ tsp dry yeast
1 cup of milk, room temperature
2 tbsp white oil
1 tbsp butter – for greasing the pan and also to brush the loaf once its baked
½ tsp white sesame seeds
½ tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
½ cup warm water

1 bread loaf baking pan (27cms x 15cms stainless steel)

Method

  • In a big glass bowl, pour the atta/whole wheat. Add salt and stir the mixture well using a spatula. Keep aside.
  • In a small glass bowl, add honey and dry yeast to warm water. Stir well, keep aside for 10 minutes and let it rise.
  • Add the raised yeast to the atta and combine into it using a spatula. Add the milk gradually and keep stirring the mixture to make it a rough dough.
  • Once the dough is ready, add oil to it and mix. Cover the bowl with a cling film and set aside for an hour.
  • Grease a loaf-baking pan with butter. Transfer the dough from the glass bowl to the pan. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Cover the pan with a cling film and set aside for another hour. The dough will rise considerably, so while wrapping the cling film, keep it a bit loose, to accommodate the rise.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and bake the loaf for 20 minutes. Keep a check to see that the loaf is baked evenly.
  • Brush the loaf generously with butter once it comes out of the oven and while it’s still hot. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Turn the loaf over on a grill wrack. Brush butter all around the surface of the loaf. Keep aside until the loaf cools down. Air the loaf all around in an even manner (we keep the grill tray on top of a raised surface).
  • Cut the loaf into medium slices. Keep in mind that the slices from this loaf are quite soft, so slicing it very thin might result in crumbling.
You can make delicious French Toasts with this home made bread or simple buttered toasts with sugar sprinkled on top!

Homemade wheat flour bread

Homemade wheat flour breadHomemade wheat flour bread

Homemade wheat flour buns

With all the efforts that are taking place for self-isolation at this hour, I feel blessed and fortunate to be able to have both the meals together at home with family. Cooking or baking is not something that we have taken up suddenly as a new activity. We have always cooked at home. However, with everybody working and studying from home, while we plan the menu nowadays, we sometimes tend to tend to forget that weekdays are actual working days. It’s not a fancy weekend meal that can be elaborate to make my crew lethargic! Working or distant school learning from home may have their technical challenges for those who aren’t initiated into it. However, it’s doable if you adhere to a similar structure and routine that entailed earlier… yes, it’s easier said than done. It’s may be challenging for some give each other spaces to work or to study, even though we all might be in close physical proximity and a nudge’s distance.

I have to say though, I am inspired by how everyone is trying to make changes and adapting to their environments daily to meet the new challenges of the hour. Much like our ever-evolving bread story… ingredients may keep changing, but the binding, purpose and soul of the bread remains the same!

Keep your menu simple, keep it delicious, keep it homemade. Do share your daily personal food stories with me and stay tuned as I share mine.

Unblogging it all… Ishita

The internet today is overloaded with information on COVID-19, do read and absorb whatever is necessary and adhere to the tips and advices that the respective authorities of your country of residence are sharing with you.

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey on Pinterest, InstagramFacebook and Twitter

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. 

+ Stuffed Pepper Spring Rolls made at home

Stuffed Chilli Spring Rolls – because a little spiciness in life is sweet

Stuffed chilli spring rolls … because a little spiciness brings a lot of happiness in my own sweet little world!

Stuffed Chilli Spring Rolls

Chillies plays such a huge role in our lives. There are chilli plants in our gardens, each plant showing off a different variety of chilli. Friends gift us chilli pickles. Some also bring back chillies from their travels. Mom-in-law once brought chillies from Kolkata packed in her suitcase. Then she lovingly dried a few of them and planted them in small pots all over the garden. A few strong ones survived, some didn’t. The ones that don’t survive are regularly replaced by newly dried seeds of chillies brought from local supermarkets. Once, the bearded biker got bhut jhalokias from one of his travels across North-East India and planted them in our garden. Also known as ghost pepper, these chillies have been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest chilli pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce! While they didn’t survive in our Dubai garden, our love story with chillies continue in our lives – in our dinner table conversations and in our gardens. These crispy stuffed chilli spring rolls (above) were part of my special birthday menu recently, an extended version of Lady M’s regular spring rolls (below).

 

Speaking about our garden, we grow fresh basils, mint, coriander and chillies (obviously). We’ve grown watermelon successfully and attempted an ash gourd plant which delighted us only with its gorgeous flowers. We also tried our hands at growing strawberries which were mostly ransacked by birds. There’s an avocado tree planted from a seed of an avocado brought from Philippines that promises fruits this year. Or may be next year.

Expecting good things to bloom, ripen and taking us by surprise, is what keeps us ticking for the future. Specially love, isn’t it?

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Love

Stuffed Pepper Spring RollStuffed Pepper Spring Rolls made at home

Stuffed Chilli Spring Rolls

  • Servings: 15 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category=Snack;

Ingredients

15 long green chillies (you may use jalapeños), min 5″ long
1 tbsp all purpose flour
15 spring roll pastry sheets, 5”x5”
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

For the filling
100 gms minced meat (we used lamb mince)
4 pods garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp  garam masala
1 tsp coriander power
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
fresh coriander leaves, chopped

For deep frying
1 cup white oil

Method

  • Wash the chillies. Leave the stems on.
  • Slit the chillies longitudinally making sure not to tear apart the chillies. Scoop the seeds out.
  • For the filling, cook the minced meat. In a deep bottomed pan, heat oil. Add, chopped garlic, onions, tomatoes and the minced meat. Add all the spices. When the meat is cooked, added chopped coriander leaves.
  • Stuff the inside of each chilli with cooked minced meat. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Wrap the stuffed chilli in a puff pastry sheet. Dip your fingers into a light paste made with flour and water and delicately seal the edges of the puff pastry sheet.
  • Use a deep bottomed frying pan or a wok for deep frying the stuffed chilli spring rolls.
  • Serve hot to enjoy the crispiness of chilli spring rolls!

 

Chilli plants growing in our home gardenHome grown basil leavesBasil plantsFresh coriander in the gardenAsh Gourd PlantWatermelon tree

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+ Homemade cinnamon rolls following recipe of Tastes of Lizzy T

Happy Cinnamon Rolls that you can make at home

Homemade cinnamon rolls and a steaming hot coffee… I wish somewhere beyond the dark clouds, we could all see the rainbow that promises a life filled with simple pleasures of life, all over again!

Homemade cinnamon rolls adapting Lizzy T's recipe

The Z-Sisters are already one week into their remote school learning. The bearded biker also works from home currently. Our kitchen transforms into my occasional writing space, with the dear labradors snuggled at my feet. The words that are meant to form thoughts become muddled up by the aroma of Lady M’s delicious cooking. In an ideal world, this would been my ideal kind of a day. However, these days, I keep checking on the incessant whatsapp messages to reassure myself that our parents and others in our families back home and elsewhere are safe and sound. The same thought goes out for our friends, colleagues and everyone we know. While I pray for a safe world today and everyday, I’m ever grateful to all the forces ~ divine and human, that work in conjunction that are keeping us safe and alive. May our collective energy gear us towards love and hope, faith and positivity and a beautiful future ahead. Very very soon.

Until then, let us spread love and joy, hope and faith… specially over social media (that’s Instagram for me), with whatever makes our hearts dance to a {happy} beat. Enjoy your baking!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Butter, sugar and cinnamon powder

Happy Cinnamon Rolls

  • Servings: around 30 pieces
  • Difficulty: the process may be elaborate, but its fairly easy to make
  • Print
Category=Dessert;
Recipe adapted from Tastes of Lizzy T’s Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}. She also shares variations of cinnamon rolls in her website along with a lot of home baking tips that might help you to hone your baking skills. This is a tried and tested recipe at home and although we have retained the original recipe, we have tweaked it slightly.

 

Ingredients

For the dough
1 cup milk, warm
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the filling
1/2 cup butter, melted