Friday, August 12, 2016

Radhaballabhi / Radhaballavi ( Bengali Stuffed Poori with Spiced Urad Dal )

Once upon a time, when my mother used to make Luchi (similar to famous Indian dish Puri) I used to wonder how she can make every one of them puff so nicely. Couldn’t imagine that one day I will also be popular as master of this expertise among my friend circle. Most of my friends in San Diego can die for Luchi with mangsher jhol (chicken or mutton gravy) or Aloo Dum and I feel very happy if I can prepare the same for them in my party.

In Bengali Cuisine there are many version of this dish, where it’s stuffed differently. Some popular names from the list are Dal Puri, Hinger Kachori, Radha Ballavi.  A very thin line of difference exists among these variants and each one carries its own discernible features. Making stuffed Puri was not a cup of my tea, though I can comfortably make simple Puri. Recently I have mastered this skill too :-)

Today I have got a stuffed Puri recipe, called Radha Ballavi. It’s deep fried like a Luchi or Puri but stuffed with spicy urad daal filling. Often they are bigger than normal Puris in size and served with Dum Aloo or Cholar Dal.  This is a very traditional Bengali dish, commonly available in sweet shops, served as breakfast or snack. When north-Indian Naan or Kulcha didn’t become a status symbol in the Bengali wedding, this dish used to be served along with Pulao in most of the weddings. Generally, Radha Ballavis are not made at home and left to the professionals of the sweet shop or the Chef appointed to cook for a wedding. However, neither we can go to a sweet shop nor can attend a wedding in abroad, so only way to enjoy this tasty delicious item is making it at home.

Steps of making RadhaBallabhi 

Recipe of Radhaballabhi, serves : 2

Ingredients :

For dough

Maida / all purpose Flour : 2 cups
Ghee or white oil : 2 tablespoons 
Salt :  a pinch 
Luke-warm water : for kneading 

For Stuffing

Urad dal : 1/2 cup, washed and soaked for overnight 
Grated Ginger /Ginger paste : 1/2 tablespoon 
Green chillies : 1 
Hing ( asafoetida ) : a generous pinch 
Bhaja Masala : 1 tablespoon ( Take one dry whole red chili , two teaspoons of whole cumin seeds, and a half teaspoon of whole coriander seeds in a small pan, dry roast them till aroma comes up.Turn off the gas. Let it cool down and then dry grind to a fine powder. )
Whole fennel seeds : 1/2 teaspoon 
Salt : to taste 

Oil : for deep frying 

Method :

1. In a wet mixer grinder add the urad dal, ginger, fennel seeds and green chili. Make a paste. 

2. Heat one or two tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan. Add hing , then add the Urad dal paste to it. Add salt and keep stirring the paste and cook it until a thick dough is formed. Once done, add bhaja masala and allow it to cool. Stuffing is ready. 

3. In a big bowl, take maida, salt, and oil and mix them well. Now gradually add water and knead it for at least 7 to 8 minutes and make it a dough. The dough should be soft enough but still firm. Once it is done, keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel. 

4. Make some big lemon sized balls from the dough. 

5. Flatten a ball into a disc of about 2 inches by using your palms.

6. Place one big teaspoon of stuffing in the center of the flatten dough, cover the stuffing by bringing all the sides of the disc together and make a ball again. 

7. Slowly press down with the help of a rolling pin to roll out the ball and get a small circle like puris. Prepare all the puris in the same way. 

8. Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Once the oil is hot, keep the flame on medium high, put the Radhaballabhi in the oil one at a  time. Toss it carefully and fry it with the spatula, till it becomes golden on both the sides.

9. To puff it up, you should lightly press down the sides of the Radhaballavi with the spatula and always control the heat of the oil by increasing or decreasing the flame.

10.  Remove the fried RadhaBallabhi with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Serve hot with Dum aloo / Aloor dom or Cholar dal. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cookie Cups

Summer is the perfect time for me to experiment new food in the kitchen. Since I don’t need to prepare my son in the morning for school, there is no hurry to have dinner early and go to bed. There is no fixed routine in our day to day life during this couple of months. On top of that, I spend more quality time with my son, even though he gets bored sometimes without his school friends. But the good times don’t last forever. Only ten more days and it’s coming to an end. Hope will be able to post my recipes regularly even after the school restarts.

Today I’ve got a really fun and simple recipe to share with you. It’s called Edible Cookie Cups , a  kid-friendly recipe which is the perfect one to make together with your kids during the summer vacation.  These little edible cups are made with cookie dough. They are not only very cute looking but totally irresistible. 

Though initially, I thought it must be a very complex process to make these cups, but later it turned out to be much easier. Only things you need are the cookie dough and a muffin tin. These cookie cups are perfect for snack or dessert during the evening after work hours. You can customize them to your personal tastes and fill with the different variety of toppings. If you want to be creative with the filling too, you can serve yogurt, fruit, ice cream or chocolate with it. So far in this hot summer season, it has been a really nice treat to enjoy and I am sure you will also like it.

Recipe of Cookie Cups or bowls ( for about 12 to 15 cups ) 

Ingredients :

All purpose flour : 1  and 1/2 cups 
Salt : a pinch 
Baking soda : 1/2  teaspoon 
Unsalted Butter : 1 stick 

Sugar : 1/2 cup 
Eggs : 1 
Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 tablespoon 

Method :

1. Take a bowl and add flour, salt and baking soda to it. Whisk it together and set it aside. 

2. Now take sugar and butter in another bowl, beat it using the hand mixer or electric mixture until light and fluffy. Add egg, and beat it. Add vanilla extract and mix it until well combined.

3. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Divide the dough into two parts. Wrap each part in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for overnight or at least 3 to 4 hours. 

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F ( 170 C ). Turn over the muffin tin, and grease it thoroughly. 

5. Roll out dough on the generously-floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut 4 1/2 inch circles from the rolled dough. 

6. Drape one circle over each bowl cavity of the pan. Press it to form a smooth surface. 

7. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are firm and golden brown. Once it is done. Take it out of the oven and cool it on the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan and cool completely. Clean the pan and spray again and repeat with remaining dough. 

8. Fill cookie cups as desired. 

For Cheesecake Filling and Topping 


Cream Cheese ( at room temperature ) : 12 oz
Powdered sugar : 1 and 1/2 cups 
Vanilla : 1 teaspoon 
Assorted Chopped Fresh Fruit  : 

Method :

1. Blend the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar together until smooth. 

2. Pipe or scoop cream cheese filling into cookie cups.

3. Top with fresh fruit. 

you can also serve yogurt and fruit mixture, ice cream or hot chocolate into it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stuffed Mushrooms

Most of us like Mushrooms as a vegetable and have been cooking different Indian style dishes with Mushroom. But probably never thought that we can make a great appetizer using Mushrooms. Off late while searching for something new that would be good starter for parties, I found an awesome recipe called “stuffed mushroom”. When I first time made during one lazy evening, it became instantly hit in my family. 

Stuffed Mushroom is so delicious that you would continue to pop them in your mouth till you are full. The recipe is very simple, where a mushroom cap is stuffed with the mixture and baked until it becomes golden brown. You can get as creative as you like with the filling.  Very basic one would contain breadcrumbs, cheese but you can experiment with some non-veg stuff too like crab cake mix.

The recipe is actually very simple and short. First wash the mushrooms and remove the stems. Then keep the stems in a food processor and pulse it until they are minced. Now put one tablespoon of olive oil into pan and stir-fry minced stems with garlic. If you like, can add spices too and then stir it again. When it cools down slightly, add mixture of cream cheese. Then fill the mushrooms caps with the mixture and sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake it. Try them next time when you have friends over! 

Recipe of Stuffed Mushrooms : Serves 4 

Ingredients :

Fresh Button Mushrooms : 12 - 16 
Vegetable Oil : 1 tablespoon 
Garlic ( minced ) : 1 tablespoon 
Cream cheese ( at room temperature ) : 1 package ( 8 ounce ) 
Parmesan Cheese : 1/2 cup
Italian Bread Crumbs : 1/2 cup 
Black pepper powder : 1/4 teaspoon 
Cayenne pepper : a big pinch 

Method : 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F . Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. 

2. Wash the mushrooms and pat it dry with a paper towel. Carefully break off stems. Chop the stems very fine.

3. Heat oil in a pan and add garlic. Once garlic becomes lightly brown, add the finely chopped stems to the pan. Cook the mixture until the stems are tender and most of the liquid has cooked out. Once it is done, remove mixture to a plate to cool.

4. Once the mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese,black pepper, cayenne pepper. 

5. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the filling and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. 

6. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated trough and become golden on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot. 

* If you don't get Cream Cheese handy, you can skip it. So that time double the amount of Parmesan Cheese and bread Crumbs. 

* You can add cooked minced Chicken or other meat too to the filling. 

* For vegetarian option, you can add spinach.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mishti Doi ( Quick way )

Summer in San Diego is slowly but surely picking up speed and at the same pace, our number of parties is also going up. Nowadays it’s very difficult to get date from any friend, we are busy from Friday to Sunday night. Before every party I am seeing a common trend. We are all set to host a party and ready with the menu of the main courses, but take time to decide which dessert to prepare. Probably most of us fear to make a dessert compared to starter or main courses. 

Today I will share the recipe of a Bengali sweet that will make your life easy before any party. It is the most easiest dessert that you can make at home.  When The word Mishti Doi comes to our mind, all Bengali would immediately start thinking of a small earthen pot filled with rich and creamy sweet yogurt. It's so famous that I have seen people outside Bengal are so fond of this sweet. I can still recall that in the Bangalore K C Dash shop, people from all places used to love Mishti Doi as much as Rosogolla or Rasmalai.  

I have shared the recipe of Misti Doi last year but that was the authentic way of making Mishti Doi . The procedure was also undoubtedly easy but it takes relatively longer time. At that time, some of my readers asked if there is any short-cut. So I thought it would be perfect to share the quickest and easiest one in the middle of summer.  You just need to mix three ingredients and put it in the oven. This process is nothing original but very common to the Bengalis who stay outside of India and doesn’t have much patience. To make this yogurt you don't need any earthen pot but a baking dish. When I made this recipe first time I was surprised and never thought I could make it so fast. And you are wondering about taste ? I can assure that you won’t miss the Mishti Doi from Kolkata anymore. 

Recipe of Mishti Doi ( quick way  ) 

Ingredients :

Plain Yogurt : 1 cup 
Sweetened Condensed Milk : 1/2 cup 
Evaporated Milk : 1 can / 12 oz  evaporated milk is made by heating milk until about 60 percent of its water content has evaporated ) 

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Whisk the yogurt till smooth and set it aside. 
3. Take a mixing bowl, add evaporated milk and condensed milk, mix it well. Warm the mixture at low heat. Let it cool down to lukewarm temperature.  
4. Add the yogurt to the lukewarm mixture. Mix it again till there is no lump. 
5. Pour the mixture into a glass or ceramic baking dish. 
6. Now set the oven temperature to 200 degrees F. 
7. Bake the mixture at 200 degrees for one hour or until it is almost set. Once it is set, turn off the oven. Let the yogurt rest for at least another 2 to 3 hours or overnight in the oven. 
8. Once it is cool down completely, put it into the refrigerate for another couple of hours and serve cold. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cookie n Cream Ice-Cream ( no ice cream maker needed )

Good news is that I already finished taking snaps for my next three upcoming dessert posts. So this time I had a different problem – which one to select for this week’s post.  Finally the ice cream recipe wins. So today I will share the recipe of homemade Cookie n Cream Ice cream. It’s one of the silkiest and creamiest ice cream made with no ice cream maker and no extra stirring.  Only three ingredients are used and  packed with Oreo cookie crumbs.

Every year in the beginning of the summer, I wonder if I need to buy an ice cream maker to make the perfect ice cream at home. But I change my mind every time thinking it’s not worth to buy the machine for making ice-cream only once or twice in a year. So I again started looking for some easy homemade ice-cream recipe that wouldn’t need any ice-cream maker. And I found it what I was looking for after searching a bit in the net. 

Before I made this delicious dessert, didn’t know that a little amount of cream and a can of sweetened condensed milk can be whipped up quickly to form delicious easy ice cream base.  Once you are done with the base,  just stir in whatever flavor you like and create your favorite ice-cream. Though it’s hard to believe, yes, making homemade ice-cream is that easy and it tastes exactly like the ice cream bought from the popular store. I felt it was fully worth the effort when my 9 years old boy says mom, it’s exactly like Baskin Robbins, which is his favorite ice-cream shop.

It’s not hard and it doesn’t take long, so put your hesitation aside and get yourself some whipping cream , condensed milk and favorite flavor. Try to re-create this magic and you would love it. 

Recipe of Cookie n Cream Ice Cream 

Ingredients :

Cold heavy cream / whipping Cream : 2 cups
Condensed Milk : 1/2 cup 
Vanilla extract : 1 teaspoon 
Coarsely Crushed Oreo Cookies : 1/2 to 1 cup 

Method :

1. Chill a large or medium mixing bow and the beaters of electric hand blender in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and pour the whipping cream and vanilla extract into the chilled mixing bowl. Beat cream on high until stiff peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

2. Take a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into condensed milk. Gently fold in crushed oreos. Pour into a loaf pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours or overnight. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chicken Fritters ( Chicken Pakora )

My today’s post is also a snack like the last one but not exactly a street food. It’s the classic Indian finger food called PakoraIn some parts of India, this fried snack is also known as Bajii. Pakora has many variations in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian categories. Depending on the type, sliced vegetables or meat/fish is wrapped in gram flour batter or rolled into small balls. Then they are deep-fried in hot oil till the time outside surface becomes crisp. Among all the versions, chicken Pakora is very common and popular among all the non-vegetarians. Pakoras can be served as a snack or as a party appetizer. Generally people love to have this snack with a cup of tea on a regular evening after returning from office or during a lazy afternoon on a rainy day.

Today I will share a recipe of chicken Pakora, bit different from the traditional one. Normally small pieces of chicken are dipped in a batter and deep-fried in hot oil. The process I followed is little different, where shredded cooked chicken is mixed with chopped onions, ginger, chilies, cilantro and then rolled into small balls before it’s fried. 

I found this new process somewhere in facebook and seemed very interesting to me. I have tried this new recipe couple of times but was never happy with the pictures I captured. The opportunity came again when my friends planned for a potluck party to watch Copa America final together. Hope you would like both the recipe and pictures this time. Though it was not great match for my husband and few others who were Messi fan, but all the delicious food could compensate their loss to some extent.

Recipe of Chicken Fritters ( Chicken Pakora )

Ingredients :

Chicken : around 250 g, Boneless 
Salt :
Red Chili powder : 1 teaspoon
Ginger paste : 1 teaspoon 
Garlic Paste : 1 tablespoon 

Onion : 1, thinly sliced 
Ginger : finely chopped, 1 tablespoon
Green Hot chilies : chopped , 2 tablespoons 
Cilantro / coriander : chopped, 1 cup
Salt : 
Gram Flour : 4 tablespoons
Rice Flour : 3 to 4 tablespoons

Oil : for deep frying 

Method :

1. Add salt, red chili powder and ginger - garlic paste to boneless chicken pieces and rub it gently.

2. Now take a pressure cooker, place the marinated chicken pieces and add 1 cup of water ( enough water ) . Let it cook over medium flame. wait for 2 whistles, turn off the gas and let the steam release on its own, then open the lid. ( if you don't want to use pressure cooker, boil the chicken in a saucepan until chicken pieces are no longer pink and well cooked. ) 

3. Transfer chicken pieces to a bowl, allow to cool and shred the chicken meat. 

4. Now add the sliced onion, chopped ginger, chilies, cilantro and salt. Mix it well. Add gram four and rice powder. Again mix it nicely and make a dough. 

5. Heat oil in a deep-frying pan. Once oil is hot, drop the chicken mixture gently into hot oil and deep-fry it until they are crispy. ( you can roll the chicken mixture into round balls and fry it, that is what I have done in the pictures. ) 

Serve hot with a dipping sauce. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ghugni ( Yellow Peas Curry )

Today I will share the recipe of a street food from Calcutta. Known as the cultural capital of India, Kolkata can also be named as capital of street foods in India. Life in Kolkata would be quite boring if you don’t indulge yourself into its street food. You will miss that extra flavor to life added by these delicious foods like Jhal Muri, Kathi Roll, Mughlai Paratha and many others. I am sure these names itself made your mouth water.

The one I will present today is called Ghugni, one of the best street foods in Kolkata and rest of the Bengal. It would be difficult to find a school in Bengal with no temporary shop selling Ghugni during the lunch break. Students gathered around the shopkeeper desperately trying to get a plate of Ghugni is a very common picture outside the schools. I think all of us can still smell the taste of Ghugni from that particular shop and have interesting stories centered around  that shop. Even though it’s popular as street food, this recipe can easily be replicated at home. Every Bengali home enjoys their own home-made Ghugni as an evening snack or during breakfast on a special weekend. Most of the times it’s served with Poori, Luchi or puffed rice. But sometimes people like just a bowl of Ghugni sprinkled with finely chopped onions, green chilies with lime juice.

For my non-Bengali friends, you can think Ghugni as yellow chickpeas curry. Dried white or yellow peas is cooked with a spicy gravy. Ghugni has different versions, some include meat such as lamb and goat. In Bengali we call that “Mangsher Ghugni”.  Today what I made is vegetarian version but has onion and garlic in it.  Sometimes it is cooked without onion and garlic too. Whether it’s vegetarian or non-vegetarian , Ghugni is yummy both way . Making Ghugni is not a huge deal, but tricky part is boiling the peas. You shouldn’t over-boil it so that thin skin of the peas floats over. Cooking the yellow peas to perfection is the main key of making Ghugni. So when you make Ghugni follow my instructions religiously :) 

Recipe of Bengali Ghugni , serves 4

Ingredients :

Yellow Peas : 1 cup 
Potato : 1 potato, diced in cubes 
Onion : 1, medium sized, finely chopped 
Ginger paste : 1 teaspoon 
Garlic : 1 tablespoon 
Tomato : 1, chopped 

Oil : 2 + 3 tablespoons
Dry Red Chili : 1 
Green Cardamoms : 3
Cinnamon Stick : 1 inch 
Cloves : 3 
Turmeric powder : 1 teaspoon 
Cumin powder : 1 teaspoon 
Coriander powder : 1 teaspoon 
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder : 1 teaspoon 
Red chili powder : 1 teaspoon 
Salt : 

For Bhaja Masla :

Dry Red Chili : 1
Whole cumin seeds : 1 tablespoon 

For garnishing :
Chopped Onion- chopped green chilies- chopped cilantro, wedges of lemon and bhaja masla ( optional ) 

Method :

To make Bhaja Masla (roasted spice powder) : Take a pan, heat it up, add 1 tbsp of whole cumin seeds and a whole dry red chili and dry roast them until they are fragrant. Let it cool down at room-temperature, then grind them to a powder. 

1. Wash the yellow peas and soak it for at least 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight. Then pressure cook the peas with salt and turmeric powder on medium flame, wait for 2 whistles, turn off the gas and let the steam release automatically on its own, then Open the lid. The peas should be well cooked but not mushy.

2. In a big pan put 2 tbsp oil, once oil is hot, add the potato pieces. When the color of potato starts to change into golden yellow, remove it from the heat and set it aside. 

 3. In the same pan, add oil. When oil is ready, put whole dry garam masala (cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves) and add the whole dry red chili.

4. Once they are aromatic and start to spatter, add the chopped onions. Stir it and add little salt. In few minutes, onion changes its color to golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger paste.

5. Stir and cook it, until the raw smell goes off. In a small bowl, take turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, 1/2 tsp sugar add 2 -3 tbsp water into it and make a paste.

6. Add the mixture into the pan. Keep stirring until the oil starts to come out from the side of the pan. Add the tomato pieces and little salt. 

7. Once the tomato gets soft, Add the potato and peas, again give some stirs and mix it well at medium flame.

 8. Add salt and one or two cups of water ( in which the peas are boiled ). Cover it with lid and let it simmer. Once everything is well cooked (yet peas and potato cubes hold their shape ), check the seasoning, check consistency, adjust accordingly. Add 1 tablespoon of bhaja Masla and mix it well.

9. The consistency of Ghugni should not be too dry or too runny. Turn off the gas, pour it on a serving bowl, sprinkle some chopped onions, chopped green chilies, chopped cilantro and few drops of lemon juice or Tentul jol ( tamarind water ) and bhajamasla.