Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chocolate chip Pecan Blondies

After having a hectic festival season, slowly I have started realizing that the year 2015 is coming to an end. It gave me lot of pleasure when I was looking back and rewinding happy moments of the year, mostly it was the year of having party on every weekend with our close friends J. Before the new year begins, we are planning to visit our home country. So I am very excited about the trip and nervous at the same time, because not ready yet with packing and shopping. But whenever I think that soon will meet my parents and relatives after a year, it makes my mind delighted.

Today I will share a recipe of rich sweet dessert bar, Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies. You can save this recipe for holiday baking. Blondies are like partly cookies, partly brownie made of  flour, brown sugar , butter , eggs  and baking powder. They are baked in a brownie pan and then they are cut into squares to serve. Though they are like cookies and brownies , but much more easier to make than those two. You don't have to roll the dough into balls like in cookies or there is no chocolate to melt like in Brownies.

The version, made with Chocolate chips and pecan is my favorite, but you can omit the pecan from recipe if you have a nut allergy. Though the traditional recipe is with egg, but unfortunately I didn't have enough eggs when I tried the recipe. I used plain yogurt in the place of eggs and came out darn good. So out of necessity an egg-less Blondies was born. I know many of you who don't like to eat eggs can try this recipe.

It has become a huge hit for my family and friends who have tasted it that day. So I will prepare again this recipe once I am back from my holiday season.

Recipe Of Egg-less Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies , makes 16  to 18 squares 


All purpose flour : 1 cup
Salt : 1/2 teaspoon 
Semisweet chocolate chips : 3/4 cup
Chopped pecans : 1/2 cup 
Baking powder : 1/2 teaspoon 

Unsalted Butter : 1 stick, at room temperature 
Light brown sugar : 1/2 cup
Granulated White sugar : 1/3 cup 
Plain Greek Yogurt : 1/4 cup
Vanilla Extract : 1 teaspoon 

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13-in. x 9-in pan then line the pan with parchment paper, again spray it with non-stick cooking spray. 

2. In a large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, sugar, yogurt and vanilla extract, just until blended. 

3 In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder, mix well. Now add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Gently mix it together. Stir in chocolate chips and pecan. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

4. Bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top becomes lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack completely. Cut into bars.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Elo Jhelo ( Bengali Fried Pastry Dipped in sugar syrup )

Happy festive season to all of my Indian friends. Hope you all had great time with friends and family, taken lots of pictures with them. My today’s recipe is a traditional Bengali sweet or snack, generally served during festivals like Durga Puja and Bijaya Dashami (the day when rest of the India celebrates Dussehra). It’s called Elo Jhelo which is very old school traditional Bengali sweet. It is a sweet pastry, made of all purpose flour, vegetable oil and ghee. I have seen my grandmother making this sweet for our joint family and used to greet her guests with this sweet. While I am thousands of miles away from my root and culture and miss home in the festive seasons, what else I can do other than recreating what we used to eat in our back home.

The good thing about Elo Jhelo is that they are not overly sweet but delicious in every bite. On the other hand, it’s a great fun making this dessert. The dough is first prepared, made into small balls. Then they are rolled like a luchi or puri. With a sharp knife, make 5-6 slits vertically across the surface of the rolled dough. Then fold over and over until it gets all overlapped. After this step, it is deep fried until it becomes crispy and then get dipped into the sugar syrup. When you read this process it may sound difficult, but don't hesitate to try it out. This was also my first attempt but the result exceeded my expectation J

Recipe of Elo Jhelo ( Fried Pastry ) : for 10 to 12 pieces 

Ingredients :

For Dough : 

All purpose Flour ( Moida ) : 4 cups ( approximately 500 g ) 
Salt : a pinch 
Nigella seeds : 1 teaspoon 
Vegetable oil or ghee : half cup 
Water : little less than 1 cup

For Sugar Syrup : 

Sugar : 1 cup 
Water : 1 and 1/2 cups 
Cardamoms : 4-5, crushed 
Lime juice or vinegar : 1 teaspoon 

Oil  : for deep frying 

Method :

1 : Take a big bowl, add flour, salt and nigella seeds. Mix it well, now add the oil or ghee to it. Again mix it well. Slowly add water to the flour very little at a time. Add water and knead it for about 5 to 6 minutes until it becomes smooth. The dough will be soft but firm. Once it is done, cover it with wet kitchen towel and set it aside for half an hour. 

2. Now divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Make it a perfect smooth surfaced round ball. Roll out each ball with rolling pin into a thin circle of about 3 inches like puri or luchi. With a sharp knife make 4 to 5 slits vertically on it by leaving about 1/2 inch space at the ends. Hold the end parts together and start rolling the pastry carefully until it gets all overlapped. Slightly twist the ends . Do the same process for the remaining balls.

3. Take a deep frying pan and heat oil on medium high heat. When smoke comes up, lower the flame and fry the Elo Jhelo in small batches till they are golden brown on both sides. Take out from oil and let it cool down first. 

4. Now  take a pan, add sugar and water and boil it. Add crushed cardamoms and vinegar to the syrup. Let it boil for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the fried Elo Jhelo in the sugar syrup. Mix them to coat with syrup. Take it out from the syrup and place it on serving plate. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Yakhni Pulao

It’s that time of the year, the month of October when the Bengali hearts across the world start to beat in excitement . Yes, our long wait for one year is over, it’s now the time to celebrate Durga Puja. From the very first day of October I can feel the festive mood in the air, smell the flowers of the season even though sitting far away from the land of Durgoutsav. Since we can’t wake up in the early morning and tune to radio any more, played the “Agamoni” song so many times in YouTube. The sound of “Dhak” is still so fresh and can bring back the childhood joy to our minds.

Like every year, San Diego Bengali community started its preparation to celebrate Durga Puja from the beginning of the month. Last couple of weeks we were so busy preparing for kids drama. In the midst of this busy schedule, I got to manage some time to share this recipe that you can try in this festive month. Before introduction of the recipe, wish you all my Bengali readers a very Happy Durja Puja. 

Chicken Yakhni Pulao is my today's recipe. It’s a  simple rice based preparation, a classic and popular North Indian dish. Yakhni means broth or stock , the particular type of pulao is cooked in meat stock so it gets the name. Originally Yakhni Pulao is made with mutton broth, but here I am making this dish with chicken. Preparing this dish is not as complex as it sounds. Not only simple, it takes only 30 minutes to complete. People would love to have Yakhni Pulao with just salad or raita but you can add a curry dish too with it, if you wish.

Recipe of Chicken Yakhni Pulao : Serves 3 to 4 people 

Ingredients :

Chicken : 2 lbs ( around 1 kg ), cut into medium-big pieces 
Yogurt half cup 
Garlic paste : 2 tablespoons
Ginger paste : 1 and half tablespoons 
Ghee or white oil : 4 to 6 tablespoons 
Cloves : 3-4 
Cinnamon stick : 2 inch 
Green Cardamom : 3-4 
Black peppercorns : 2-3 
Bay leaf : 1
Caraway seeds ( sahi jeera ) : 1 teaspoon 
Green chilies : 3 , slit in half 
Turmeric powder : 1/2 teaspoon 
Salt :
Basmati rice : 2 cups 
water : 4 cups 
Red onion  : one big, thinly sliced 
Cashew nuts : halved , a handful 

Method :

1. Take a bowl, add chicken pieces. Add ginger paste,garlic paste and yogurt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 to 2 hrs. 

2. Soak the rice in water for half an hour. Drain and set it aside. 

3. Take a big pan, add oil / ghee and heat it up. Add onion to the hot oil / ghee and stir it util it is crispy fried. Once it is done, take it off from the oil and keep it aside.

4. In the same oil, add the cashew nuts. Fry it until they are golden in color. Remove it from oil and set it aside. 

5. Add one or two tablespoons oil or ghee in the pan and again heat it up. Add green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon stick, black pepper corns, bay leaf and caraway seeds. 

6. Once it sizzles, lower the flame add the chicken and marinade. Add the turmeric and green chilies. Saute the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes. Add salt and stir it again until oil separates from the spices. 

7. Add four cups of water. Once it starts boiling add the drained rice, mix it well. Cover the pan with lid. 

8. Reduce the heat and let it cook until both chicken and rice are done. 

9. Garnish the Pulao fried onion and fired cashew nuts and serve hot. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Brownie Ice Cream Cake

My east coast friends might find it strange that I’m posting a frozen treats in the month of October. Here in San Diego, summer is still there in its peak form and sometimes very close to scoring a century. So it’s great time for ice cream lovers to try out different experiments. But I see no reason for my other friends not to like this recipe because true ice cream lovers enjoy it round the year.

Today I am sharing a delicious cake recipe that I recently made for my son and his friends. It  is a decadent dessert, truly a chocolate-lover's dream . It’s pretty simple to assemble and surely will satisfy of anyone's chocolate and ice-cream craving both at the same time.

The cake has three layers. At the bottom it has a layer of brownie, topped with ice cream. Then it has some chocolate ganache over the ice-cream layer and finally decorated with some oreo cookies. You need to first bake the brownie. Once it is done, let it cool down and pour the soft ice-cream over it. Then freeze it and finally pour the chocolate ganache over it. You are all set to indulge yourself. 

Recipe of Brownie Ice Cream Cake : 9 inch round Cake : Serves : 15 to 20 people. 

Ingredients :

Fudge Brownie mix : 1 box
Water :1/3 cup 
Vegetable Oil : 3 tablespoons 
Plain Yogurt : 1/4 cup ( to substitute for egg )
Vanilla Extract : 1 teaspoon
Ice Cream ( any flavor as per your choice , here I used Chocolate Chip Cookie dough Ice Cream ) : 1/2 gallon 

For Chocolate Ganache :

Semi sweet chocolate chips : 2 cups 
Heavy Whipping Cream : 1 cup

For Decoration : 

Oreo Cookies 

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (170 C ) Grease a 9 inch springform pan with nonstick spray.

2. Combine the water, vegetable oil, Plain yogurt, vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients with a fork.

3. Add the mixture to brownie mix. Mix it well. 

4. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until it is set or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

5. Once brownie is cool, remove the ice cream from freezer and allow it to soften for about 8 to 10 minutes. 

6.  Now evenly spread the ice cream in a layer over the brownie layer. Wrap the cake pan tightly in plastic wrap and freeze at least 2 hours or until ice cream is firm.  

7.  Take a heatproof bowl, put the chocolate chips and keep it aside. Take a saucepan, place cream in it and heat it over medium heat, bring it to a boil. 

8. When it just starts to a boil, immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate chips. Let it rest for couple of minutes, then stir until the mixture gets smooth, beat it with a wire whisk till it becomes soft and fluffy.

9. Remove the cake from freezer, remove the wrap. Drizzle it with chocolate ganache, decorate with oreo cookies and serve immediately. 

Note: If you eat eggs,  you can bake the brownie as per package direction.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Lebu Pata Diye Dal r KurKure Alu Bhaja ( Lentils with Lime leaves and Crispy Fried Potatoes ) - Bengali Comfort food for a Hot summer Day

Today I am going to present some Bengali comfort foods. Sorry for my non-bengali followers that I have to use some pure Bengali terms today. The list of traditional Bengali food that often makes you nostalgic is really long. But these two recipes are perfect for San Diego’s current scorching hot weather.

Today’s recipe is  Lebu pata diye Daall and Kurkure Alu bhaja When we visit our parents after a long gap, we love to have only traditional Bengali meals, the food we grew up on A traditional Bengali meal starts with Rice, Daal, fries and then filled up with a veg or non-veg dish, which could be fish, meat or egg. It will be complete only with Chutney and some sweets at the end 

So let me start with Kurkure Aloo bhaja whose English translation is crispy deep-fried potatoes.  It’s usually made by deep-fried julienne potatoes. Kur kur e Aloo bhaja bears similarity to the “French Fries” of the western world. Only difference is the sizes. Our Aloo bhaja is thin and small whereas french fries are thick and big. Kur kure aloo bhaja / Jhuri Aloo bhaja is served with a bowl of hot steamed rice and a bowl of lentils. 

The second recipe is Lebu pata diye Daal, soupy red lentils tempered with lemon leaves. Last month when I shared the recipe of Lebu Lanka Murgi, I had some fresh lemon leaves in my refrigerator from that time. So thought let it try with some lentils and so from then onwards we got hooked on it. The taste is so refreshing that I am sure you would love it. You can try this recipe with various types of daal but I preferred to use musur (red lentil). Let me share the recipe now.

Recipe of Kur Kur e Aloo Bhaja / Jhuri Jhuri Aloo Bhaja : Serves - 4 

Ingredients : 

Potatoes : 2 large potatoes ( preferably russet potatoes ) 
Oil : for deep-frying 
Salt : 

Method : 

1. Peel the potatoes and cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch-thick julienne in food processor or with a sharp knife. 

2. Wash thoroughly and transfer the potatoes into a bowl of ice and cold water. Let it chill into the refrigerator at least for 30 minutes. 

3. Heat Oil in a heavy pot over moderately high heat. Once oil heats up, drain potatoes and pat completely dry using paper towels. 

4. Fry them in batches. Stir gently with a slotted spoon until golden and crisp. Transfer potatoes to paper towels and season with salt. Serve hot with steamed rice. 

Note : Use a big pot for frying the potatoes and fry them in two or three batches otherwise the oil could bubble up and overflow. 

Recipe of Lebu Pata diye Dal ( Lentils Tempered with Lime Leaves ) serves : 4 

Ingredients :

Masur Daal ( Red Lentils ) : 1 cup 
Lemon leaves : 4-5 ( kaffir lime / Gandhoraj Lime leaves )
Nigella seeds : 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric : 1/4 teaspoon 
Green chili pepper or Dry red chili : 1 or 2 
Oil : 2 tablespoons 
Salt : to taste 

Method :

1. Wash the lentils and boil it with 2 cups of  water, turmeric, salt and two lime leaves.  To boil lentils you can use microwave or do it using stove. Generally to boil red lentils I do not use pressure cooker, as it do not take much time to cook. If you want you can use pressure-cooker too. Once done, mix thoroughly and set it aside. 

2. Take a pan, add oil and heat it up. Add the chilies and nigella seeds and wait until it starts splattering. Add the other lime leaves and wait for couple of minutes. Now pour in the boiled lentil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning. If you like add one teaspoon of lemon juice too. Switch off the gas and serve hot with steamed rice. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Keema Curry

My follower friends must have been wondering where did I disappear again for last few weeks. This has become a regular trend :-) .  Sep 1st is the birthday of my first love and was busy with preparing for his 8th birthday. This time we didn’t celebrate in large scale but had a small fun party at home on the same night. New school session has also started and so trying to cope with new routine. 

Today I will share the recipe of a traditional but simple meat dish called Mutton Keema curry. The name keema means finely chopped or minced meat. The dish is typically a spicy minced mutton curry with potatoes and flavored with Indian spices. It can be served either with Indian Flat bread or any kind of rice dishes. In our family, we don't eat mutton frequently because neither my son nor my husband is big meat lover. Once in three months, when we like to have goat meat, we stick to our few old favorite dishes rather than experimenting with new dishes

This Keema curry is one of those favorite dishes in my family. Also I prepared this dish for several of the parties at my home and my friends loved it every time. I would prefer to use regular goal meat for this recipe. You can use other meat too like chicken, turkey or lamb. Though the dish is very common, but every household uses different recipes for the same. Come and let's see how I cook Keema Curry.

Recipe of Keema Curry : Serves 5 

Ingredients : 

Goat meat : 500 g (with bone)
Potatoes : 2 , medium size, cut into cubes 
Oil : 2 tablespoons + 3 tablespoons
Green cardamoms : 3 
Cinnamon stick : 1 inch 
Cloves : 3 
Dry Red chili : 1 
Onion : a big one, finely chopped
Ginger paste : 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste : 1 and half tablespoons 
Turmeric powder : half teaspoon 
Coriander powder : 1 tablespoon 
Red chili powder : 1/2 teaspoon 
Kashmiri Red Chili powder : 1 teaspoon 
Sugar : 1/2 teaspoon
Tomato : 1, medium size, chopped 
Salt : 

Garam Masala ( Take 3 Green cardamoms, 1 inch Cinnamon stick, 3 Cloves and grind it to a powder) : 1/2 teaspoon 

Green Chili peppers : 1 or 2, chopped 

Method :

1. First boil the the goat meat, I use pressure cooker to cook the meat. Take a pressure cooker, add meat and one or one and half cup water and let it boil over medium flame. Wait until 3 whistles come. Switch off the gas, and let the steam release automatically on its own. Open the lid, take the meat pieces out of the cooker and preserve the stock. 

2. Now discard the bone part from the meat pieces and cut or tear the meat pieces into smaller pieces. Set it aside. 

3. Take a big pan, add two tablespoons oil. Once oil is hot, add the potatoes. Fry it until they are golden brown in color. Once done, take it off from the pan and keep it aside. 

 4. In the same pan, add the remaining oil and heat it up. Add dry red chili, green cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. Wait until nice aroma comes up.

5. Add chopped onion, fry it until it is light pink. Add garlic and ginger paste. Cook for couple of minutes. Once raw smell goes off, add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder and kashmiri red chili powder. Add half teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir and cook it for couple of minutes until oil starts to release from the sides of the pan. Add chopped tomatoes and keep stirring. Add salt and let it cook until tomato has become soft. 

6. Add meat pieces, stir and mix it well. Let it cook for couple of minutes until the masala starts releasing oil. Add fried potatoes and stir it again for 5-6 minutes. Add salt. 

7. Add the stock and cover it. Once it starts boiling lower the flame and cook it until the meat and potatoes fully cooked. Check the seasoning. Add salt if needed. Add chopped green chilies ( optional ), add garam masala and switch off the gas. Keema Curry is ready, serve hot with rice or bread. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Kolkata r Lal Mishti Doi / Calcutta style Sweet Yogurt

The sweet dish that I am going to share today is the signature Bengali Yogurt called “misti doi”. Probably it’s the second well-known and popular in rest of the India, next to Rasogolla.  The word “misti doi” immediately reminds all of a clay pot filled with brownish sweet yogurt. Bengali wedding lunch is not complete without serving misti doi at the end. There are several sweet shops in Calcutta like Ganguram, where the quality of misti doi is simply awesome and you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to visit these shops, if you are travelling to the city of joy.

Since it is readily available in almost every local sweet shops, it’s rarely made at any Bengali’s kitchen. But the cravings for Misti Doi haunts me so much that I started searching recipes from net and tried making Misti Doi at home. The result was so good that I won’t miss Kolkata’s Misti Doi again. The process was not complex either, even a beginner should give a try. Though only 2 or 3 staple ingredients are required, you really need patience to make this scrumptious sweet because it’s a long process.

The process of preparing Mishti Doi starts with heating milk on the stove. As the milk gets thickened, sugar is added to give the dish its characteristic sweetness. Next, yogurt or curds must be added to the sweetened milk and mixed thoroughly. This mixture is placed in a traditional clay or earthen pot. The clay pot absorbs excess moisture, giving the mishti doi its dense texture.

Recipe of Authentic Kolkata style Mishti Doi : Serves : 6 

Ingredients :
Whole Milk : 1 and half liters 
Sugar : 250 g ( one and half cups ) or as per taste 
Plain Yogurt : half of a cup 
Sugar : 4 tablespoons ( for caramelizing ) 

Method :
1. Take a heavy bottomed big pan, add the milk and heat it up. Stir and simmer the milk until it gets thickened and it becomes less than half of its original volume. Add sugar and stir it. The texture of the milk will be kind of malai - rabri. Once it is done set it aside. 

2. In a separate pan add sugar. Caramelize the sugar by heating it up. Keep stirring and make sure it does not stick at the bottom or burn. 

3. Add the caramelized sugar to the reduced milk. 

4. Once the milk is not too hot, it is just warm, add the whisked yogurt to the milk. Mix it well.

5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F or 100 degrees C. 

6. Pour the mixture into a oven proof dish or earthen pots, cover it with aluminium foil and bake it until the top of the yogurt is set. It takes one and half hours to two hours to set. 

7. Switch off the oven and let the yogurt rest in the oven for couple of hours. 

8. Once it is cool down completely, put it into the refrigerate for another 4 to 5 hours or overnight. Serve cold. 

In Calcutta, they don't use oven to set the Mishti Doi. The thickened milk is let to ferment overnight in a warm place, once it has set put it into refrigerator to chill. 

" The recipe is adopted from Pinkii Sarkar' s Kolkata style Mishti Doi "