Saturday, April 30, 2016

Old Fashioned Bread and Butter Pudding

I had some white bread left over in my refrigerator from last week and was wondering what I should do with the same. Then the thought of making Bread and Butter Pudding came to my mind. It brought some nice memories from my childhood. At that time my mom didn't know how to prepare modern cuisines , but I still recall that she used to make pudding pretty often. Not sure how she became interested and mastered making this dessert. This was one of the special dishes in the winter time for us and a pleasant change from ordinary day to day meals. Though didn’t have this mom’s recipe for long time, the taste remained unforgettable. It became my favorite pudding due to its soft, moist taste and yet have a texture of bread. 

Bread and Butter Pudding is a traditional type of bread pudding . It’s believed that around early seventeenth century this great British dessert was originated. This is made with sliced white bread, butter, egg custard and seasoned with nutmeg , vanilla or cinnamon. It is often served with custard or cream but it is good enough without any sauce too. 

The recipe is very easy to make, in a word you can call it a kid-friendly recipe. Cracking eggs, measuring, whisking and cutting breads are all very doable to the beginners. Not only easy to make but this dish is inexpensive too. From some leftover breads, suddenly a delicious dessert comes up with very little effort. You can use any type of bread for this recipe, croissants, loafs, buns or old bread should be fine.  
 So here is the simple recipe that I hope you would like.

Recipe of Bread and Butter Pudding : Serves 6 

Ingredients :

White Bread : 12 to 14 thin slices, around 6 cups, cut into bite sized pieces
Half and half  : 4 cups ( you can use cream or milk in the place of Half and Half ) 
Large Eggs : 4  
Powdered Sugar : 1 cup 
Vanilla Extract : 1 teaspoon 
Cinnamon powder : 1 pinch 
Raisins : 2 tablespoons 
Chopped Walnuts : 4 tablespoons 
Butter : 3 tablespoons, melted 

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F ( 180 degrees C ) . Grease an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan with butter.

2. Put the bread pieces into the baking dish. Sprinkle the nuts and raisins over the bread pieces.

3. Take a large mixing bowl and the eggs, one at a time and whisk it. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon powder. Add sugar and mix it. Add the half and half and the butter. Mix it nicely until well combined.

4. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Press down the bread pieces slightly so that all the bread cubes are covered with the mixture.

5. Set the baking dish inside a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or roasting pan. Add hot water until it reaches 1/2 of the way up the sides of baking dish. Cover the whole thing with aluminium foil and bake it for about 60 minutes or until the custard has set.

6. Remove the pudding from water bath and let it cool. Serve warm or cold. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baked Gulab Jamuns in Rabri

Today I have come here with a delicious dessert recipe. I couldn’t do justice to this incredibly tasty dessert with the pictures. It’s much more delicious in reality than it looks in the pictures. As you can guess from the pictures, name of today’s recipe is Baked Gulab Jamun. I heard about this dish couple of years back while searching for fusion sweet recipes. 

Bengali sweet no longer means only syrupy rosogollas. Over the last decade, Calcutta’s renowned shops experimented with traditional taste, mixed with western concepts and introduced several fusion sweets to attract younger generation. Today's recipe is one of them. 

By now you must be very curious about how to make Baked Gulab Jamun in Rabri. Actually it’s very simple to make. To make this dessert you need some Rabri, obviously along with Gulab Jamuns. Then Gulab Jamuns are baked in conventional oven with spread of Rabri. It has got the touch burnt flavor but tastes delicious at the same time.
You can use ready-made canned Jamuns or make it fresh from scratch for this recipe. I made this dessert for a large crowd and didn’t have time for making fresh Gulab Jamuns. So I used the canned one but the outcome was equally good and didn’t fail to impress my guests. 
So if you are searching for a new dessert recipe with Gulab Jamuns, here you have one . 

Recipe of Baked Gulab Jamuns with Rabri , Serves : 6

Ingredients :

Gullab Jamuns : 20 pieces
Milk : 2 litres
Sugar : 1/3 cup or to taste 

Cardamom : 3-4 , crushed 
Khoya : 2-3 tbsp (optional )

Method :

1. Gently drain the syrup as much as possible from Gulab Jamuns and place it on a baking dish. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of water to it. Put it in the microwave and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Once done, again carefully drain the water. Keep the Jamuns aside.  

2. Heat 2 liters milk in a heavy bottom pan on medium to low flame. Stir continuously to prevent it from burning at the bottom. The milk will start to thicken. Continue to stir till it becomes thick and creamy. Add sugar and crushed cardamoms and stir it to mix. Once the milk is thick and the quantity becomes little less than half of actual quantity of milk, turn off the stove. Rabri is ready. 

3.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees For 200 degrees C. Take a baking dish, arrange the Gulab Jamuns and spread the Rabri /  milk mixture over it. Sprinkle crumbled Khoya over the mixture ( if you are using Khoya )  and bake it until the top starts to brown. Baked Gulab Jamuns are ready to serve. Serve it warm. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Raw Mango Chutney / Kancha Aamer Chutney

In the month of April, the people of Bengal celebrate their New Year.  As we all know, food in Bengal is synonymous with all events and festivals. Specially for occasions like  the new year, Bengalis can go all out to prepare their favorite dishes. With my family and friends, we celebrated this festival last weekend and after a while, it was a great excuse for us to make an elaborate full course Bengali meal. 

A common traditional Bengali lunch would start with some rice and fried stuffs, followed by Dal (lentils) and vegetables and non-vegetarian dishes. Most of the times it serves sweet and sour “Chutney” at the end along with dessert. 
“Chutney” is a side in the Indian cuisines that is most commonly prepared with tomato, mango or ground peanut.  In most parts of India, ‘Pudina Ki chutney” is the most common one, made out of Pudina or Mint and eaten with Tandoori Chicken or Sheekh kebabs. But in Bengal, among all the different types, the chutney with raw mango (“Kancha aamer chutney”) is the most popular one in Bengali community, especially during the scorching hot summer season the Bengal is currently going through.

Today I will share the recipe of this chutney that I made on Bengali new year last week. The chutney with raw mango is also known as " Kancha Aamer Tok " in Bengali Kitchen. The dish is sweet, sticky, tangy with a little touch of spice. Raw Mangoes are peeled and cooked with water, sugar and some spices until the mango becomes soft. It’s very appetizing  and can add flavor even to the bland meals. As Mango is a summer fruit , Kancha Aam er Chutney / Tok is very seasonal. From the beginning of summer, it’s served every single day in most of the Bengali families till the time raw mango is available in the local market.

Kancha Aamer Chutney / Raw Mango Chutney : Serves 6 to 8 people 

Ingredients :

Raw Mango / Unripe Green Mango : 1 
Oil : 1 teaspoon 
Mustard seeds : 1/2 teaspoon 
Dry Red Chili : 1 , halved 
Turmeric : a pinch 
Salt : 1/4 teaspoon 
Water : 2 cups 
Sugar : 1 cup or to taste 

Method :

1. Wash and cut the mango into pieces. Discard the seed. 

2. Heat the oil, add the dry red chili and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter and the color of red chili turns blackish add the mango pieces. Stir it. 

3. Add turmeric and salt and mix it. When the mango pieces become soft, add water. Once it starts to boil add sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes till the mango pieces are tender. 

4. Check the sweetness and add more sugar, if it is needed. Chill completely before serving.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Zucchini and Potato with White Poppy Seed Paste ( Zucchini Alu-Posto )

I will share a recipe of “Posto” today. Posto is the name in Bengali for white poppy seeds and also known as Khus Khus in Hindi. Poppy seed is a form of oilseed and derived from Opium Poppy. It’s very popular as an ingredient in different foods across the world. Sometimes it’s used as spice and other times as decoration on top of baked foods. In the western world, foods like muffins, buns and bagels often use these seeds. 

But in Bengal, especially in the western part, “Posto” is so popular, it goes with many different vegetables, mainly in the form of paste. I have seen many people in my family who loves this dish as much as fish or chicken. 

It’s undoubtedly the favorite vegetarian dish in West Bengal. The most common version is the Alu Posto, made of Potatoes with poppy seed paste). In other variants, Potatoes will be replaced by different vegetables like Ridge Gourd (Jhinge Posto) or onions (Pinyaj Posto). Sometimes even non-veg items like prawns (chingri posto), fish, chicken are used as ingredients. There is another form of this dish where raw paste of poppy seeds is cooked with mustard oil, chopped onion and green chilies without any vegetables. Along with hot bowl of rice and daal, this dish can be most delicious meal to many of the Bengalis. Though Posto is very common in Bengali household, every family uses their own tempering and consistency of the dish may vary based on household tradition.

Today I will share the recipe of Zucchini-Alu Posto.  It may sound new to you. But If you already tried Jhinge posto, it would taste similar to you. I tried zucchini in many other Bengali dishes replacing Potol( pointed gourd ), jhinge (ridge gourd) or Kumro ( pumpkin ) but never tried this vegetable with posto before. And wouldn’t have tried if one of my friends prepared this dish only for me, the day I returned from India last month. The taste was simply awesome and within a week I bought the vegetable to try it out on my own. Like other posto dishes it was simple to cook, so try it out and I hope this dish will become your favorite too.

Recipe of Zucchini and Potato with White Poppy Seed Paste ( Zucchini Alu Posto ) : serves -4


Potato : 2 large, cut into small cubes ( 1/2 inch cubes )  
Zucchini : 2, chopped
Oil : 4 tablespoons 
Whole Cumin seeds : 1/2 teaspoon 
Whole Red chili : 1 or 2
Turmeric powder : a pinch ( optional ) 
White Poppy Seeds : 4 to 5 tablespoons 
Green Chilies : 2 
Salt :
Mustard Oil : 2 to 3 tablespoons ( optional ) 

Method :

1. Peel the potatoes, cut into cubes. Chop the zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces. Set it aside. 

2. Take a blender or wet grinder, ( I use the Magic Bullet with flat blade to make poppy seeds paste ) add the poppy seeds, green chilies and 1/2 cup of warm water. After 10 minutes, make a fine paste. 

3. Take a non-stick pan, add oil and heat it up. Add whole cumin and the red chili, once it starts to splatter and nice aroma comes up add the potato cubes. Sauté till potatoes are golden brown about 5 minutes. Add salt and keep stirring. When potatoes are half cooked, add zucchini. Let it cook together for another couple of minutes. Add turmeric. ( if you are using ) 

4. Lower the flame and add the poppy seeds paste. Can add few tablespoons of water. Mix it nicely. Cover the pan and simmer it for about 6 to 7 minutes until everything is well cooked. Check the seasoning, add salt or more green chilies if you need. Now add mustard oil and switched off the gas. Zucchini Alu Posto is ready to serve. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Gujiya: Pastry filled with Khoya and Nuts

Hi everyone, hope you all are doing well. I really feel sorry for taking a long break from blogging . We went to India for a month in February and it took couple of weeks to settle down after returning back to San Diego. I promise that you will see more regular posts from me now onwards. 
Last week Indians all over the world celebrated the festival of colors called Holi. We too followed the tradition in our neighborhood park and I had the responsibility of bringing sweets for all. So I started looking for recipes that are appropriate in this occasion and generally prepared in northern part of India where Holy is the most popular festival. I could find one such sweet dish called Gujiya that made all my neighbors delighted, including some non-Indians. Today I will share the recipe of this sweet snacks.

Gujiya is a deep fried pastry with the shape of a half-moon. In this golden brown colored sweet, crust is filled with a mixture of khoya, coconut, nuts and roasted dry fruits. Khoya in Hindi means milk solids. After returning from India, I was bit lazy to visit the Indian grocery store. But to my surprise, all the ingredients were available in my pantry. Though the preparation of Gujiya requires little time and efforts, it’s not that hard as I initially thought and the taste of this delicious dish is worth the effort. It’s interesting that Gujiya is not only popular in Hindi speaking belt of India, but equally favorite to the people in other parts of India. Only difference is the filling and the name. It’s called Karanji in Maharashtra and Karjikayi in Karnataka, both are similar deep dumplings made of flour and stuffed with dry coconut.

So if you are in search of making something special for your loved ones and ready to put some effort, go for this recipe without any hesitation.

Recipe of Gujiya ( Pastry filled with Khoya and nuts ) 

Ingredients :

For the Pastry :

All purpose Flour : 2 cups 
Ghee or Cold butter : 6 tablespoons 
Powdered Sugar : 1 tablespoon 
Cold Water :

For the Filling : 

Khoya / Mawa / Milk Soid : 1 and half cups, crumbled 
Almonds : 1/2 cup 
Walnuts : 1/2 cup 
Powdered Sugar : 2 to 3 tablespoons or to taste 
Other nuts or dry fruits as per your choice : (optional)

For deep frying 

Oil : 


1. Take a big mixing bowl add the flour to it. Add ghee to flour and mix it nicely with your hand. Add sugar and mix it again. Add cold water to the flour mixture, add little at a time and knead it into a stiff dough. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and keep it into the refrigerator for an hour. 

2. Take a non-stick pan, add the nuts and heat it up. Stir it until they are slightly roasted. Take it off from the heat and coarsely chop the nuts. Now add the khoya in the pan and saute for couple of minutes. Add the roasted, chopped nuts and add the powdered sugar. Mix it nicely. Now filling is ready, set it aside. 

3. Divide the dough into 20 equal portions and shape them into balls. Now roll out the balls into small circle. ( like a puri ) 

4. Place about 1 tablespoon Khoya filling in the middle of the circle, keeping the edges empty. Now carefully bring the edges together and gently press the edges to seal. Pinch the edges to make a design or use a fork to make an easy design. 

5. Heat oil in a deep-frying pan, once oil is hot turn off the gas and let it cool down. When oil is not too hot. carefully add a few gujiyas and fry it on low medium temperature until they become golden brown on both sides. ( Don't fry them on high heat, the crust will not be crispy. Before fry other batch of Gujias, turn the heat down,then add them to oil. ) 

6. Drain gujias on kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil. Once they are completely cold, serve it or store it in an airtight container.