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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sweet Dish for the occasion of Saraswati Puja

Today is Saraswati Puja, the ritual worship of the goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge). Saraswati Puja is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the Magha month of the Indian calendar, on the day called 'Vasant Panchami'.
The most significant aspect of this day is that Hindu Children are taught writing their first words on this day (known as “Haathe Khori”, meaning writing with chalk in hand) - as it is considered an auspicious day to begin a Child's Education.
Traditionally, priests make Children write the word as per customs like for Bengali People, it’s the Bengali Alphabets and for Non-Bengali People, it’s ‘Om’.
This year it was a special celebration for our family as my child was taught to write the Bengali Alphabets for the first time.

The recipe for Saraswati Puja is strictly vegetarian consisting of Puri, Aloo Dum, Fried Brinjal (Begun Bhaja), Payesh and a sweet dish. Thought of writing the recipe for Malpua.

  • 150 gms Plain Flour, shifted
  • 100 gms Milk Powder
  • 2 tbsp Aniseed (Saunf / Mouri)
  • 2 Black Cardamoms (Badi Elaichi), finely crushed
  • 3-4 Black Pepper, finely crushed
  • Water
  • Milk (optional)
  • White Oil, for frying

Sugar Syrup

  • 500 grams Sugar
  • 625 ml Water
  • 3-4 Green Cardamoms (Chhoti Elaichi)


1) Combine flour and milk powder in a mixing bowl. Add water and mix slowly to form a smooth batter of a pouring consistency (Add a little milk, if necessary to thin the batter).
2) Add aniseed, crushed black cardamoms and black pepper in the batter and mix well. Keep aside for 30 mins.
3) For the Sugar Syrup, put sugar and water in a saucepan (if 1 cup of sugar is used then use 1 ½ cups of water).
4) Bring to boil. Stir for 8-10 minutes till a thick stringy syrup is formed. Split and add the green cardamoms in the syrup. Remove from fire and keep the syrup in 2 separate bowls.
5) Heat oil in a non-stick flat bottomed frying pan, carefully spoon out a small amount of batter into the pan to form a circular pancake.

6) Let it stand for a few moments and then flip the malpua over. Let it stand for another few moments and fry until golden brown. Remove from fire.
7) Drain the excess oil and transfer the malpua into the sugar syrup.

8) Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
9) From time to time, the remaining sugar syrup can be heated a little and poured over the malpuas. Serve hot.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lamb and Aubergine Moussaka

During a night out with a family friend & her family, my husband suggested Continental Cuisine so we decided to have our dinner in Comics, a new Restaurant in South Kolkata, known for authentic Continental & Italian Cuisine.
My husband just returned from an official trip to Austria, said he had a couple of traditional dishes and that we should try Moussaka. We had Moussaka and Goulash with buttered Rice.

Returning home, decided to search the net on Moussaka and came to know that it is a traditional Eggplant (Aubergine) based dish in the Balkans and the Middle East, but most closely associated with Greece and Turkey.

The Greek version, which is the best-known outside the region, traditionally consists of layers of ground (minced) lamb or red meat, sliced eggplant and tomato, topped with white sauce and baked.
The Turkish Mousakka, unlike the Greek version, is not layered but is prepared with sautéed and fried eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, onions and minced meat.

In the standard (3-layer) Greek Recipe: the bottom layer consists of eggplant slices sautéed in olive oil; the middle layer is ground lamb precooked with onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, herbs (bay leaf, oregano, thyme and basil) and spices (cinnamon, allspice and black pepper) and the top layer is a cheese-flavored sauce.
The three layers are arranged on in a lightly greased oven proof dish and baked until the top layer turns golden brown. No further baking is required as the bottom two layers gets half cooked beforehand. Grated cheese or bread crumbs are often sprinkled on top.

Here’s the recipe for Lamb and Aubergine Moussaka:
  • 2 (900 gms / 2 lb) aubergines (brinjals), medium sized, thinly sliced
  • 350 gms (12 oz) lean lamb (mutton), minced
  • 2 onions, skinned, finely chopped
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) tomato puree
  • 225 gms (8 oz) tomatoes, sliced
  • 150 ml dry white / red wine
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) dried oregano
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) dried basil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) plain flour
  • ½ cup (75 gms / 3 oz) breadcrumbs
  • 25 gms (1 oz) cheddar cheese, grated
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil / white oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)


  • 15 gms (1/2 oz) butter
  • 300 ml milk
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) plain flour
  • 50 gms (2 oz) cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 egg yolk


  1. Sprinkle the aubergines liberally with salt (to remove bitterness and absorb some of the natural liquids) and leave in a colander (strainer with holes) to drain for 30 mins.
  2. Rinse the aubergines, squeeze the excess water and pat dry.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergines until brown. Remove from fire, drain excess oil and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a saucepan and saute the minced meat till light brown.
  5. Add the onion & tomato slices, tomato puree, herbs, flour, salt and pepper and mix well.
  6. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 30 mins.


  1. Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a pan by stirring continuously, add flour and cook in low flame for 1 min.
  2. Remove the pan from fire and slowly add milk with continuous stirring so that no lumps are formed.
  3. Return to the heat, bring to boil and continue cooking until the sauce thickens.
  4. Remove from the heat, stir in cheese and the egg yolk.


  1. Lightly grease a shallow ovenproof dish and sprinkle a little bread crumb and make a layer of aubergines and minced lamb mixture.
  2. Put a layer of the sauce and repeat the process with another layer of aubergines and meat.
  3. Put the remaining sauce over the moussaka with bread crumbs and half of the grated cheese.
  4. Bake in the oven at 180 degree Centigrade (350 degree Fahrenheit) for 30 mins. Sprinkle remaining cheese and continue to bake for 15-20 more mins until golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little and serve with bread slices.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Christmas Cake

A must have menu while celebrating Christmas and New Year. Here's the recipe of Christmas Cake / Rich Fruit Cake.
Happy Baking!!!!!

  • 11oz (310 gms) self raising flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 10oz (280 gms) white butter (unsalted butter)
  • 10 oz (280 gms) soft brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 5 oz (140 gms) glace cherries
  • 5 oz (140 gms) glace pineapples
  • 3 oz (85gms) chopped almonds
  • 3 tbsp brandy / rum
  • 1½ level tsp mixed spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Mace and ground Cloves)
  • 2½ lb (1 kg) mixed dried fruits (Dates, Sultanas, Currants, Raisins)

Let’s start:

  1. Prepare a 9" (inch) round cake tin, well greased with little flour on the surface and lined with a double thickness (two layers) of greaseproof paper. Keep aside.
  2. Sift self raising powder flour (flour mixed with a pinch of baking powder), salt and mixed spices.
  3. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  4. Blend eggs with black treacle and vanilla essence.
  5. Beat in egg mixture a little at a time, sifting in one rounded tbsp flour with each addition.
  6. Add dried fruit, glace cherries, glace pineapple and almonds and mix thoroughly.
  7. Stir in remaining flour and transfer mixture into the prepared tin and hollow out the centre.
  8. Bake in micro oven at 335 degree Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes.
  9. Test the cake by inserting a clean knife in the centre of the cake, if the knife comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  10. If the cake is not done, reduce the heat to 250 degree F and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes or until done.
  11. Cover the cake with kitchen paper when it is nicely colored.
  12. Leave at least 15 minutes before turning out on to a wire tray to cool.
  13. Wrap in greaseproof paper on aluminium foil and store in cool place / airtight tin till required.

Note: The brandy / rum may be added to the mixture with the eggs, but it gives more flavour to the cake if the top is lightly pricked with a skewer and the spirit is poured carefully over the cake.

Pictures courtesy: google

Stuffed Chicken Roast

Let me share the recipe of Stuffed Chicken Roast, a must have dish for New Year’s Eve, if you are having a continental dinner............
I learnt the techniques from my mom-in-law while celebrating Christmas for the first time after marriage.

  • 1.8 - 2.3 kg (4-5 lb)
  • Stuffing (mentioned below)
  • 1 onion, skinend
  • 1 lemon wedge (optional)
  • 40 gms (1½ oz) buter (for stuffing and roasting)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

    Serves 4-6


  1. If the chicken is frozen, allow it to thaw out completely. Wash the bird and dry thoroughly.
  2. Stuff with the requisite stuffing at the neck before folding the neck skin over. (For added flavour put the onion, lemon wedge together with a knob of butter into the body of the bird).
  3. Place the chicken on a deep roasting plate, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Roast in the oven at 200 degree C (400 degree F), basting from time to time with butter, allowing 20 minutes per 450 gm (1 lb) plus 20 minutes.
  5. Put a piece of greaseproof paper over the breast if it shows signs of overbrowning.
  6. Alternatively wrap the chicken in foil before roasting. Allow the same cooking time, but open the foil for the final 15-20 minutes to allow the chicken to brown.
  7. Bacon rolls, sausages, bread sauce and gravy are the usual accompaniments with thin potato slices, boiled peas and broccoli (green cauliflower).


Rice Stuffing:

  • 50 gms (2 oz) rice
  • 25 gms (1 oz) peas, shelled
  • 2 chicken livers, chopped
  • 1 small onion, skinned & chopped
  • 50 gms (2 oz) seedless raisins
  • 50 gms (2 oz) blanched almonds
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 25 gms (1 oz) melted butter
  • salt & freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 egg, beaten: 1


  1. Bring a pan of salted water to boil and cook the rice for about 45 minutes until tender. Drain well and cool.
  2. Mix the cooled rice with all the other ingredients, binding them well with the egg.

Herb Stuffing:

  • 40 gms (1½ oz) butter
  • 1 large onion, skinned & chopped
  • 75 gms (3 oz) breadcrumbs
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • salt & freshly ground pepper (to taste)


  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the onion until softened.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Mushroom Stuffing:

  • 25 gms (1 oz) butter
  • 100 gms (4 oz) mushrooms, wiped & chopped
  • 1 small onion, skinned and chopped: 1
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 100 gms (4 oz) breadcrumbs
  • salt & freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and lightly sauté the mushrooms and onion for 2-3 minutes until soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the parsley, seasoning, breadcrumbs and bind with the beaten egg.

Picture courtesy: google

Mein Chow Soup

Here's another recipe of a popular Chinese Soup, Mein Chow Soup, a thick, hot and spicy soup enhanced with mint and coriander.


  • 6 cups clear vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp capsicum, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cauliflower florets, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger, chopped
  • 3 tsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Topping:

  • coriander (finely chopped) and chilli oil


  1. Heat the oil on a high flame in a wok / frying pan.
  2. Add the mint leaves, garlic, ginger & vegetables and stir fry over a high flame for 2-3 mins.
  3. Add the stock, vinegar, soya sauce, chilli sauce, pepper powder and salt and cook for another 2 mins.
  4. Add the stock, soya sauce, salt and pepper powder.
  5. Make a mixture of cornflour in 1 cup of water and slowly add to the soup.
  6. Cook for another 2 mins while stirring continuously.
  7. Mix a little chilli oil.
  8. Serve hot with chopped coriander, chillies in vinegar, soya sauce and chilli sauce.

Pictures courtesy: google

Tum Yum Soup

Recipe for Tum Yum Soup, basically a Thai Soup with the distinct flavour of lemon grass


  • 6 cups clear vegetable stock
  • 10-12 cauliflower florets, finely chopped
  • 10-15 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp lemon grass, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 green chilli, sliced lengthwise
  • 2-3 drops oil
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat the wok / pan and put the stock to boil.
  2. Add all the ingredients with lemon grass and salt and boil for 2-3 mins.
  3. Add lemon juice just before serving and serve hot with chillies in vinegar, soya sauce and chilli sauce.

Pictures courtesy: Google

Hot and Sour Soup

Recipe for Hot and Sour Soup, a filing dish for those who like their soup hot and spicy…You can have this soup with spring rolls and chicken drumsticks.


  • ½ cup cabbage, shredded
  • ½ cup carrot, grated
  • ½ cup cauliflower florets, small
  • ½ cup spring onions with leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried mushrooms, chopped
  • 7 baby corn, small, cut diagonally
  • 6 cups clear vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp brown vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli sauce
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste

For the Topping:

  • Chopped coriander & spring onion and thin strips of carrot


  1. Heat the oil on a high flame in a wok / frying pan.
  2. Add the vegetables and stir fry over a high flame for 2 mins.
  3. Add the stock, vinegar, soya sauce, chilli sauce, pepper powder and salt and cook for another 2 mins.
  4. Make a mixture of cornflour in ½ cup of water and slowly add to the soup.
  5. Cook for another 2 mins while stirring continuously.
  6. Serve hot with chopped coriander, chillies in vinegar, soya sauce and chilli sauce.

Spinach Soup

Recipe for Spinach Soup, a very light hot soup for spinach lovers.


  • 15-20 spinach leaves, cut into big pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 6 teacups clear vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp dried mushrooms
  • 1 tsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame oil: 1 tsp (topping)


  1. Remove the stalks from the dried mushrooms and soak the mushrooms in ½ cup of boiling water for 30 minutes and strain the mushrooms. Cut in small pieces. Keep aside.
  2. Blanch the spinach in hot water, drain the water, put spinach in a blender and strain to form a smooth puree.
  3. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and mushrooms and fry for 1 minute.
  4. Add the spinach puree and cook over high flame for 1 minute.
  5. Add the stock, soya sauce and boil for 2 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle sesame oil on top and serve hot with chillies in vinegar, soya sauce and chilli sauce.

Green Peas Soup

Recipe for Green Peas Soup . A very light and nutritious soup, just right to have before any Chinese meal.


  • 6 teacups clear vegetable stock
  • 1 teacup tender green peas, shelled
  • ½ teacup cauliflower florets, small
  • ½ teacup carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 pinches sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp soya sauce
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil on a high flame in a wok / frying pan.
  2. Add the vegetables and stir fry over a high flame for 3-4 mins.
  3. Add the stock, sugar, pepper powder and salt.
  4. Make a mixture of soya sauce and cornflour in ½ cup of water and slowly add to the soup.
  5. Cook for another 3-4 mins while stirring continuously.
  6. Serve hot with chillies in vinegar, soya sauce and chilli sauce.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mousse au Chocolat

I am back with a new recipe, this time a cold dessert, Chocolate Mousse. Its really easy to make and the home made mousse do taste good as the ones in any good Cake and Confectionery Shop!!!
Believe me I had the opportunity of convincing my kid in having a home-made ice-cream. So this one specially goes to all the kids……..

  • 225 gms plain chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) water
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) rum (optional)
  • 125 gms (4 oz) butter
  • 125 gms (4 oz) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 142 ml (5 fl oz) double cream, decorate
  • chocolate curls, to decorate


  1. Put the chocolate into a bowl with the water and rum. Place the bowl over simmering water and stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
  2. Whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time.
  3. Add the chocolate to the butter mixture and beat for 5 minutes until light.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff in another bowl and fold into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Pour into a serving dish or individual glasses and chill until set.
  6. Whip the cream until stiff and decorate the mousse while serving and top the mousse with chocolate curls.

Measurement Conversion Table

Let us start with the very basic of cooking knowledge, I mean measurements for ingredients.
Basically we follow the following calculations:

1 oz = 28.35 gms = 1 fl. oz = 29.57 ml = 1/8 cup = 6 tsp. = 2 tbsp.1 tbsp = 3 tsp
cup measure can be rounded as 200 gms

But don't you think a tabular format will be easier for everyone to calculate...

So here is a handy conversion table to help preparing a meal (including calculation) easy and pleasant.


Here the Cooking Measurement Abbreviations are stated in a tabular format...


Introducing Malini

Dear readers,

Writing my first blog, something I intended to do for a long time by utilizing my free me-time (read nap time).
I love drawing & painting, cooking, art & crafts, reading (not necessary in that order). Also love to eat & cook food.

I used to collect recipes from around the world since my college days. You can say I was more of a recipe collector at that time.
Learnt various tips on Bengali cooking from my mom (she was born & brought up in Bihar) and Non-Bengali (read Maharashtrian) cuisine from my dad as he grew up in Nagpur (Believe me, he is a great cook and still can prepare a whole course if any guests are coming for lunch / dinner)

Married to a family of foodies, I was expected to take charge of the kitchen immediately after marriage. Both my husband and father-in-law love to eat new dishes (my mom-in-law is a great cook, always trying out & experimenting new recipes besides Bengali cuisine and I learnt several Continental, Chinese and Italian recipes from her).

The most important thing one should remember while cooking is that one should cook food with love (the most important ingredient of all).

There is a popular saying “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, which is literally established in my in-law’s place.
Only I would like to modify it by saying “A way to everyone’s heart (be it your near & dear ones, friends & relatives and acquaintances who happen to cross your life) is through their appreciation”.

Basically a homemaker, a work-from-home mom and a glass designer artefacts designer (hobby), trying to balance all the ongoing activities in my life and trying to enjoy life as it unfolds.

So here I pen down the various recipes I learnt from my mom, my maternal grandmother and my mom-in-law (the process is still going on……)

Greetings to everyone who happen to visit this blog of mine. Hope you visit again.

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