Monday, September 26, 2011

Besan Cake

Besan cake (Bengal gram flour cake):
One day I was browsing the Internet to find a recipe for cake which I could bake in microwave oven. I found numerous recipes and methods of cakes which could be baked in microwave oven. Anyway, after trying hand in baking cake in microwave, I was thinking to bake something else apart from cake in microwave. One fine morning suddenly it came into my mind to bake a cake with besan. With besan I wanted to bake something spicy. I added chili-powder, cumin-powder and salt in the beasn- batter. After baking it in the microwave, when I tasted the cake, it was really tasty. Then only I decided to bake the same thing with little extra things for my hubby. That day we went to market after his office and we came back home after 8 in the evening. Though he was extremely hungry, he insisted me not cook anything. I asked him to wait and watch. Then I baked this cake with many more ingredients. I liked that taste, but he wanted something extra. So, he cut the cake into pieces and fried the pieces a little. Then the taste of the cake became really yummy.

Now I want to share the recipe with you.
3 tbsp. besan of Bengal gram flour
1 egg
1 tbsp. shopped onion
I tsp. chopped coriander leaves
Pinch of chili powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. oil divided
½ tsp. nigella seeds
Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a pan. When the oil becomes hot, add nigella seeds into it. Fry chopped onion for few minutes. Then mix everything except the one tbsp. oil. Whip all ingredients to make a fine batter. Add water as required. Then oil a microwave oven proof bowl and add the batter, cook for 2 minutes. Then check whether the cake in ready or not. If require cook for few more seconds. If you want, then cut the cake into pieces and fry for 1-2 minutes in 1 tbsp. oil. Otherwise, garnish with chopped coriander leaves and tomato slices.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Food with parents

I love to cook. I can’t claim myself as a very good cook, but I love to treat my near and dear ones with new and delicious dishes. Anyway, when my parents planned to come to our place for few months, I thought to treat them with new dishes. However, the main problem was that, they are not at all foodie, like my husband. Moreover, my mother can’t eat any spicy food. So, I had to think some simple, yet delicious dishes. First week I didn’t cook any special dishes, because I was very much concerned about their health. Anyway, on the first week my husband and I decided to show them all the shops we use to visit for essential commodities. One day, when we went to one such shop to buy some groceries we bought a chocolate cake mix. Both of my parents were very happy, when they tasted the cake I baked with the mix. To my relief, they didn’t have any health problem after eating it. In Kolkata, I saw my mother to suffer from acute indigestion, whenever she ate any food apart from daily ones, even just one bite. I was really worried about their health, especially of my mother. When they didn’t face any health problem I decided to treat them with many delicious dishes, which they didn’t dare to taste in Kolkata. On one afternoon my little one requested me to bake a cake for him, I readily agreed with him, and I made the same. However, unfortunately the cake didn’t taste good. Anyway, few days later we went to Monterey Bay, that was the first place my parents visited in the USA. I baked another cake to carry with us, and that was a good one. Everybody enjoyed the cake on that trip. From that day I decided to carry home-baked cakes with us on any outing with my parents. Since then I had cooked many dishes for everybody at home, before my parents left for Kolkata. My foodie-husband enjoyed those days very much. I always cook very simple food, so, not very often my hubby gets chance to satisfy his taste buds. My mother became very happy, and surprise at the same time, to see her youngest daughter’s cooking skill. My mother barely saw me in the kitchen before my marriage. It was difficult to me to cook the dishes, which I wanted to share with them, because they were with us for only one and a half months. By the way I started with pizza. They were overwhelmed when they eat it, and my enthusiasm increased astronomically. From Italian to Arabic many kinds of dishes I cooked with success. It was a great satisfaction to me, when I saw them to enjoy the dishes. The day before they left, my mother wanted to have only light food. However, I couldn’t help me to cook at least one mouthwatering item for them for the last time. I knew that both of my parents love to eat chops, but due to health problem they stopped eating chops. I thought that, when they didn’t have any health problem in my place why didn’t I treat them with chops? So, I cooked chops in the last evening they spent with us. When they waved at us at the airport, I prayed to get back this happy time once again.

The pizza at home- My father enjoyed it lot. My mother didn't get any health problem after eating it. Thanks to the weather and drinking water here.

I hate to cook on weekends. Usually I cook Friday morning for the rest of the weekend. However, when my parents came, I couldn't exactly calculate how much I need to cook. First week, I thought, what I cooked, that would be enough for the weekend, but I needed to cook on Sunday again. I didn't allow my mother to cook, because I wanted to get her rest. So, next Friday morning I cooked all the dishes for the weekend. I delighted when I found that, it was more than sufficient.
 Aachari Paneer- It wasn't enough for the whole family. So, only my hubby could enjoy it
Mango sweet-Inspired by one of friends, who showed me a snap of mango sweet which she prepared, I prepared the same. I didn't use any food-color, so, I didn't get the beautiful orange color. When my father told me that he didn't like the taste, I became little angry on him.  However, my mother and my husband liked it, so did my little one.
Strawberry cake-When we planned to go to Sonoma with my parents, I decided to bake a cake with little difference. Till date I always baked simple vanilla cake. However, this time I decided to bake a strawberry cake. This time I used only egg white instead of whole egg. The taste was good. Everybody enjoyed it in the tour.

28th of August was Sunday. I didn't want to cook anything for dinner. I had Dosa flour in my pantry, and dal (lentil) in my refrigerator. I decided to prepare Dosa for dinner. We had our dinner with Dosa and dal.We wanted to eat out one day. Just to let them experience a restaurant here. We went to a Thai restaurant. Both of them wanted to have vegetarian food. They don't have any prior experience of Thai Food. So, my husband and I decided to order a light vegetable curry for them. We ordered Thai tofu curry, and they loved the taste a lot, so do we. On that very evening I bought tofu, and after 2 days I cooked it in my own style.Mango Phirni-My father is very fond of fruits. So, I used to buy many fruits when my parents were with me. Once I bought a dozen of mangoes. However, the mangoes were not very good in taste. I thought to use the mangoes in Phirni, an Indian sweet dish.

Baked Tomato- One day I read the recipe in San Jose Mercury news. The recipe was very simple. I decided to prepare as a side dish with pasta for dinner. On that same evening we went to Costco wholesale market. Our main reason to go there was to show the market to my parents. After tasting complementary food there, my father lost his appetite, so, he couldn't enjoy the dinner. However, I first time prepared this dish, which was really tasty.
Pasta- It was a real feast on that night. Everybody enjoyed the dinner. After dinner I scared little bit, because it was a heavy dinner to my mother. I suggested her taking Tums. She was fine on the next morning. It was a great relief to me.

When my parents were with me, I had plenty of time for myself, because my mother was taking care of her grandson. So, I get time to nurture my hobbies and experiment in kitchen. Oneday ,when I was going through one of my friend's blog I got the recipe of Basboosa. I wanted to bake that Arabian cake that time only. I baked the on tea time. Everybody enjoyed that. That was a Friday, and my hubby came back home earliar than his usual time. So, he could also enjoy the cake with tea.Luchi and chholar dal (Kind of Indian bread and Bengal gram curry) - It was the third weekend we enjoyed luchi in breakfast. My father loves to eat luchi, but he is too afraid to suffer from health problem. I assured him that nothing would happen. Then both of my parents enjoyed a lot.
Semiya(vermicelli) Poha-My parents used to have rice cereal during snacks-time in the evening. My mother knew before to cook sweet dish with vermicelli. I told her that poha (an Indian snack) could be prepared with it. I had shortage of vermicelli in my kitchen, so, unfortunately everybody couldn't enjoy. Naturally my mother and I left our share.Aloo Paratha(paratha with stuffed potato)- I had left-over dough when I prepared luchi last time. I thought of preparing paratha instead of luchi again. This time the preparation was perfect. I was completely satisfied.After a long time, I prepared Chili-Chicken. Because it takes long time to cook, I use to avoid cooking it.

Cheese Cake - This was my first attempt to bake cheesecake. For a long time I was thinking to bake it. After eating it everybody said one word,WOW". I was extremely happy to get success at the very first time.
I used to prepare vanilla cake always. I never tried to bake a lemon cake. I also never tasted it before, but I knew about the cake. One day, my husband and I went to Costco, where he tasted a sample of lemon cake. He just fell in love with the cake. The very next day I baked lemon cake at home.Poha- The easiest yet tasty snacks I cooked many times during their stay, at breakfast and evening snacks time.Muri Ghonto( fish head curry with rice)- One day we bought two big White Bass fish. Before, when we bought the same fish, I cooked simple curry with the heads of the fish. Next, I just gave a try to prepare famous Bengali Muri-Ghonto. Before, I cooked Muri-Ghonto with the head of Rohu fish only. I always thought that it could be tasty with Rohu fish only. However, the curry with White Bass head was not at all bad.
Chops- The last dish my parents enjoyed at my place in the last evening of their stay was chops. It is a very popular Bengali evening snack, chops with rice cereal.

Monday, September 12, 2011

San Francisco revisited

During the Christmas time in the year 2009, we had a great time with my sister-in-law and her family. At that time both the families decided to meet again on the next year during Christmas. However, due to some unavoidable circumstances, the plan wasn’t realized. At last, they managed to visit us in the month of April in 2011. During their four days visit we went to San Francisco one day, which was as usual for the people who visited their relatives in Bay Area.
On 3rd April, which was eventually a Sunday, we went to visit SFO. Our plan was to depart from home at 8 o’clock in the morning.  We were a little late, though it was negligible. As per our planning we went to Millbrae station to reach SFO by BART train. We got down at Market Street station and caught F tram to reach Fisherman’s Warf. For the first time when my brother-in-law saw the SFO trams he wanted to ride on the same after the tour. By the way, when we reached Fisherman’s Warf the tour was about to start. So,we rushed to the office, and the lady at the counter managed to provide us 5 tickets for the tour. To my family, it was our second visit to SFO. We visited the same place in 2008, when my son was only 2 months old. 

China Town

City Hall - Decorated with real gold

Starting from the Fisherman’s Warf, we first crossed the Italian town. The tour guide jokingly said that three words one should know to survive there: Tiramisu, Saluda, and cappuccino. After that we crossed China Town, the largest Chinese community outside China. China Town was established in the year 1840. Once, my family and I went to China Town before. It was very scary to drive there, so also in in whole SFO. Actually, the city was built on steep hills. It was very frightful to drive on such slanted road for a driver who is unfamiliar with such roads.  Every moment I feared of mishap. Anyway, this time we had no problem as we were in a tour bus. Crossing China Town we reached the financial district of SFO overlooking the Union Square. The main two banks of the USA, Wells Fargo bank and Bank of America originated here. During the California Gold rush they boomed rapidly.

On way to the Twin Peaks

The financial district was marked by cluster of high-rises in California Street. Out tour guide told us that West Coast’s first skyscrapers were built in Market Street. However, when everything was utterly destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fire in the year of 1906, miraculously those skyscrapers escaped unhurt. From there we passed Lotta Carbtree fountains. In the aftermath of the 1906 fire, on April 18, 5:13 A.M. the living survivors of the quake gathered there for remembrance. Then we crossed City Hall in Civic Center Plaza. That historic landmark was rebuilt after it was destroyed in that fateful quake. That centrally located massive plaza was the scene of huge political rallies. From anti-war protests to gay movement, the plaza stood tall as a witness. Beautifully decorated by sycamore trees, Civic Center was planned by Daniel Burnham. One of the interesting facts was that only 12,000 Victorian houses survived in the massive earthquake in 1906. Anyway, we crossed a beautiful building, which was once a large twelve bedroom mansion.

Seven sisters- Many films had been shot here till date, the most notable was Full House

View from Twin Peaks
Though the outside of the building remained same, inside of the building was converted into apartments. Then we got a chance to view the Twin sister’s house on Scott Street between Waller and Haight, the exactly alike houses were built for twin daughters of a gentleman, whose name I can’t recollect. On the way we passed the famous seven sisters’ house, a cluster of seven houses of six are almost same, except the last one. Here I keen to mention about the house which our tour guide showed was a tiny purple house. The house was built with couple of thousand dollars in the mid 20th century. The astonishing fact about the house was that,when it was sold in the year 2006, the price was nearly a million and half, which was really unimaginable. We also passed the Castro District, famous for gay rights movement, had started under the leadership of Harvey Milk. The rainbow flag was the symbol of gay movement. Anyway, from the top of the Twin Peaks we got a view of Candle Stick Park, an outdoor stadium in the Bay view area. Clock Tower of the Ferry building of SFO looked like the Big Ben in London. Anyway we got down from the bus at the top of the peaks. The vibrant colorful houses on the both sides of the serpentine roads, in the bright cloudless day made the city looking splendid from there. When I came to SFO last time, the weather was very unfavorable. It was very cold, on the top of that it was drizzling compared to this time tranquil and cool weather. Twin peaks, surrounded by green grass and beautiful Lupine flowers, was a place of passing times without boredom. We got an amazing information that, Lupine flower could be two feet long, but we were not lucky enough to see that in our own eye. On the bright day the famous Golden Gate Bridge of SFO was looking truly golden from Twin Peaks. Meanwhile, we were very hungry when we reached there. We literally jumped to the mobile restaurant there to have some hotdogs. While coming back, before reaching Golden gate national park, we passed SFO national Cemetery, which included many famous people’s grave. We again got down from the bus at Golden gate national park, which was one of the world’s largest man-made parks. An art exhibition happened to be going on in the park during that time. My sister-in-law, who is a sculptor, viewed the exhibit with great interest. Lack of time barred us to visit the Japanese garden in the park, despite of my great interest. Moreover my son was sleeping at that time. Again we boarded the bus to reach Golden Gate Bridge. We were fortunate enough to get the entire view of the bridge, which usually remained hidden behind the cloud throughout the year, independent of weather.

Golden Gate Bridge

The bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was opened in 1937, which was built on Pacific Ocean. We didn’t have any plan to go to Alcatraz Prison. I personally didn’t like to visit as it was depressing to me. We got a chance to view two beaches from Golden Gate Bridge, Baker’s beach, and China beach, while we were coming back. China beach named after the history of Chinese fishermen, who camped there in past. Though our tour-guide showed us the Russian Consulate and Danielle Steel’s fifty-five bedroom mansion, but we couldn’t locate them from the bus. Before getting down at fisherman’s Warf we saw an old cannery which was converted into a shopping mall.

The Cannery converted into Shopping mall


Ghirardelli Square

After getting down we decided to go to Ghirardelli Square, and Crooked Street, which were not included in our bus tour. Ghirardelli Square, a landmark with shops and restaurants, was established by Domigo Ghirardelli in the year 1893. He purchased the block and developed famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

Famous Crooked Street

 We spent some time there with coffee, ice-cream, and chocolates. We also received customary free chocolates. Then we started walking towards Lombard Street which was eventually known as Crooked Street. I was very enthusiast this time, as I didn’t get chance to see the street last time. We walked all the way uphill, which was very exhausting.
My little son agreed to sit in his stroller, so we were able to walk. Otherwise it was an impossible job to carry him in arms. Our toil was not in vein, we got a spellbound view of the street. I was really amazed to think, how the residents there drive and park their cars. Then again we went back to Fisherman’s Warf to taste crab-cakes from the street side seafood stalls. My brother-in-law desperately wanted to take ride in famous SFO trams. He was very disappointed, as everybody was exhausted enough to fall asleep there at that time, so we decided to come back home.

Another attraction of SFO-touring in the city in this taxi

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tofu Curry

Tofu Curry (Thai Style)
Few days ago my husband suggested that we eat out with my parents.  I suggested having Thai food. He told me name of two restaurants. He also told that he already ate at one of them. After much discussion we decided to go to that restaurant where he already had. Anyway, mu parents told that they didn’t want have any non-vegetarian item. We ordered Thai tofu curry for them. That curry was so tasty that not only my parents, we also enjoyed a lot. I was inspired that, while coming back home I bought tofu, to cook. However, I forgot to buy coconut milk. So, one morning, when I decided to cook, I thought to use coconut powder instead of coconut milk. To get the texture of coconut milk I made a fine paste of coconut powder with milk. I changed the original version of the recipe, which I found in the Internet. So, I couldn’t tell it Thai tofu curry, rather I liked to call it as Tofu Curry in Thai Style. My parents found the curry very delicious when they had it at lunch.

Wheat flour 4tbsp.
Rice flour 4tbsp.
Black pepper powder ¼ tsp.
Mushrooms 6-7
Capsicum 1
Tomato 1
Onion I medium size
Coconut milk ½ can (I didn’t have coconut milk. I made a paste of coconut powder with milk.)
Tofu 1 packet
Soy sauce 2 tbsp.
Tomato sauce 3 tbsp.
Ginger paste 1 tsp.
Curry powder 2 tsp. (I didn’t know about Thai curry powder, so I used Indian curry powder.)
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Drain the tofu and cut into cubes. Mix the flour, rice flour with salt and black pepper powder. Thinly coat the tofu cubes with the mixture and deep fry them. Finely slice the onion, capsicum, tomato and mushrooms. Heat one tablespoon of oil slightly fry the onion slices. Then put the sliced mushrooms, ginger paste and curry powder and fry in a low heat until mushroom and onion becomes tender. Then add the coconut paste and put 1 cup of water and salt. Add 2 tablespoon of soy sauce. When it starts boiling add the capsicum slices. When capsicum slices become tender, add the fried tofu cubes and spring onion slices. Boil until spring onion becomes tender.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Potato with mustard and sesame

Last year I went to visit with one of my friends and to stay for a few days.  One day while she was preparing the dinner and chatting with me she told me one of the famous Bengali dishes of potatoes with poppy seeds but in a very different way. Her recipe was very easy to cook with little effort and at the same time very tasty. After that I prepared the same dish for many times in her method.  Few days back I changed a little bit of her recipe. Instead of using poppy seeds I used mustard and sesame. In the morning I was in a hurry to pack up the lunch for my husband. I quickly prepared the same dish. After coming back from office he mentioned that the curry was very tasty and delicious.
Now I’m sharing my recipe with you.
2-3 medium sized potatoes
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 and ½ tsp. sesame seeds
1 and ½ tsp. oil
½ tsp. turmeric powder
1 green chili
1 tomato
2-3 clove of garlic
Salt to taste
Cut the potatoes into small cube and boil them in water in microwave oven for ten minutes. Make a paste of mustard and sesame seeds. Smash the garlic cloves. Heat the oil in a pan and put the garlic paste. Put the boiled potatoes in it. Cut a tomato and put in it. After sometime put salt, turmeric powder, the paste, and the silted chili into the curry. Add little water and cook in medium heat. Let it simmer to reduce the water for sometimes. Serve hot with roti.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Zucchini potato curry

I had no idea about zucchini, before I came to USA.  First, when I saw it in markets, a desire came into my mind to cook that. However, I had no idea how to cook it. One day I wanted to buy zucchini, my husband didn’t object. He told me that the vegetable had some similarity with an Indian vegetable which was common to us. I cooked zucchini in an Indian style, but the taste was not to our expectation. My husband doesn’t like the taste of zucchini at all. So, I stopped cooking it. One day I came to know from a TV program that, this cylindrical-shaped small green vegetable is a good antioxidant. Out of curiosity I searched on the Internet about it. I found some amazing facts about it.

 The vegetable is not only an antioxidant, but also, a good source of vitamin C. Apart from that, it is rich of many minerals, and can provide protection against cardiovascular disease. It is good for people who are on diet, because it contains 95% water. It also helps to control cholesterol. I tried to cook it in many ways, because of it food-value.

 However, I never got a good taste of the curry. One day I thought to cook zucchini and potato with garlic. Though it was a very simple curry, the taste was really good. Moreover, it is very easy to cook. From that day I’ve started cooking zucchini. Even my husband also likes the curry. So, I want to share the recipe with you.
Zucchini 2-3
Potato 1 large or 2 medium sized
Garlic 3 cloves
Tomato ½
Turmeric powder ½ tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil 1 tsp.
Cut the potato (es) into cube and half-boiled them in microwave oven or in a pan. Cut the zucchinis into cube. Smash the garlic cloves. Cut the tomato into small pieces. Heat oil in a pan and put the smashed garlic. When the fine aroma comes up put the zucchini and sauté. Then put the boiled potato with the water in it. Bring it to boil. If you need, put another cup of water. Put tomato, salt and turmeric powder. When all the ingredients become soft and the water content of the curry becomes half, put off the flame. Serve it with rice.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Omelet with little difference

A tasty snack after a tiring day at office always brings smile on my husband’s face. He always prefers to have non-vegetarian food. When I’m in good mood, feel like a free bird I try to make something special for him. Some days ago I was feeling the same in the evening. So, I thought to cook something special for him in the evening. Egg is the only thing which can be cooked easily. I thought to cook an omelet, but, a small omelet was not enough for a hungry person. My mood was too good that day to cook anything for him. I wanted to see a smile of satisfaction in his face. So, I thought to make the omelet in a bigger size. However, how could I make a big omelet with one egg? Then I thought to mix besan (Gram flour), chopped tomato, chopped onion, and chopped spinach with the egg batter. His face brightened when I served the dish with cucumber-salad to him. My effort gave me good result.

One egg
3 tbsp. Besan
2 tbsp. finely chopped spinach
I tbsp. finely chopped tomato
A pinch of red chili powder
2 tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)
Salt to taste
Make a fine batter by mixing all the ingredients. If the batter is too thick add some milk to make the batter thin. Heat oil in a skillet, add the batter evenly in the skillet, simmer, and cover it. After few minutes when the batter becomes fluffy on the top flip the other side. Cook for few minutes.
For salad:
I made a simple salad with cucumber.
Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Arrange the slices on a side of the serving plate, and sprinkle salt and ground black pepper over them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sunday Delicacy

Last Sunday I was in a mood to prepare something different for lunch. However, I didn’t want to give much effort to do that. I had cooked food in my refrigerator, but I didn’t want to have them for lunch. My mother suggested that we would take the food from refrigerator. Anyway, something else was in my mind. I told my mother that after coming back from the grocery store; if I had enough time in my hand I would cook biryani. I quickly finished my grocery shopping and came back home to prepare the biryani. I used a packet of spices from a very well-known company in India. The recipe was very easy, just to cook in microwave oven. I mixed the spices with the chicken then put the rice and water over the chicken according to the direction. It took 30 minutes to be ready. Actually, I made a mistake by not soaking the rice in water; otherwise it should be ready in 20 minutes. The taste was very good. Thanks to the spices, that I could make biryani within 30 minutes!!!!!