Monday, July 30, 2012

Fish Chops


After a long and unbearable hot summer when the first rain drop hit the ground, we sigh of relief. Getting rid of scorching sun and feeling the first rain on the face brings an enormous joy in anybody’s mind. I always enjoy this very season. The pleasure of taking the smell of the earth when the first rain drop falls on the ground is amazing. The rain rejuvenates me along with the plants and trees. When I sit down to write something about the rainy season, the childhood memories of rainy season is down pouring in my mind.

 In my childhood, I had to go the park everyday to play with friends. Every rainy evening I felt very sad. I used to stare at the sky, and wait to stop the rain. As soon as the rain stopped I used to insist to my mother to give me permission to go the park. My mother always tried to convince me that the park would be deserted in the mud. Even I also knew that, but I had to go to the park. After making my mother to give me permission, I used to run to the park, nothing but to play in muddy water. Another funny thing was that I loved to paint during the rain rather to study. My father used to scold me for this behavior. Anyway, during my middle school or high school I obviously didn’t go to park. However, I love to go to school during the rainy days. Very few students used to turn up on those days leading to no study or declaration of rainy day. Both of these events were extremely enjoyable to be. Going to school and coming back from school with studying. The overcastted sky, the heavy rain, and the vast greenery, was really an amazing feeling. I couldn’t concentrate in my studies at that time. I just stared through the window to watch the torrent of rain and the agitating trees in the gusts of wind. Here I would love to mention my mother’s garden. She has green finger. Her full-bloom garden was envy to our neighbors. My sister and I were her assistants. We used to brought twigs of various plants from our friends’ gardens and plant them in our garden in rainy season. We had 7-8 types of hibiscus in our garden, most of them grew to big bushes from the twigs which we planted in rainy season.

I always love to remember the days of my childhood during rainy season. However, the office-life was totally different. Though the first rain was always welcome, I usually curse the rainy season, because going office was a great hassle on those days. Gone are those days. I last enjoyed the rain in India in 2007. After that I ‘m in the USA, where there is no rainy season. When it rains here during winter, I lost into my childhood memories.

As a Bengali, food will always take the front seat for no reason. Though I’m not a foodie, but I’m a Bengali. So, when I sit to write about rainy season, all kind of mouth-watering food especially for rainy season is coming into my mind. My father used to ask my mother to prepare piyaji (onion fritters) in the evenings on rainy days. Onion fritters and rice cereal in the evening must be there to complete a rainy day. Few days back I prepared fish-chops. I wished to rain outside to complete our evening snacks. However, though it is raining in India in July, but here it is summer. Sun shines here until 8:30 in the evening.

There were some reasons behind making the fish chops. First, 2-3 trout fish was left in my freezer, but I was not in the mood to cook normal curry, because of the unbearable smell. Second, I wanted to cook some lip smacking item to write in my blog, especially for rainy season. Third, I wanted to put a recipe in the event, “Mansoon of India”.

 

I used trout fish, but I think any kind of fish will work, except small fish.

Ingredient:

3 trout fish

2 medium sized potatoes

1 medium size onion

1 small tomato

2-3 eggs

½ cup chopped coriander leaves

2-3 tbsp bread crumb

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp curry powder

2 tsp garam mashala powder

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp sugar

Pinch of turmeric

Salt to taste

Oil to fry

Method:

Cut the potatoes into halves and boil till they are firm. Meanwhile boil the fish with a pinch of turmeric, and salt in one cup of water. If you feel the strong smell of fish, add ½ tsp vinegar. Boil the fish until it absorb all the water. Separate the flesh from the bone and keep aside. Chop onion and tomato. Grate the boiled potato. It’ll be little sticky. Heat one tbsp. of oil in a wok. Add onion and tomato. Fry until oil separates. Add the grated potato, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garam mashala, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp sugar, salt, and cook for several minute. Stir until all the ingredients mix up well. Put out of flame and let it cool down. Mash the fish with rest of spices and coriander leaves. Then mix well with the cooked potato well with hand. Take 2 golf ball size of the mixture at a time in hand and give the shape of chops. Roll in bread crumb and arrange in a plate. Keep the chops in refrigerator for one hour. This will make the chops firm and crispy. Whisk egg with little salt in bowl.  Heat oil in a wok . Dip the chops in egg batter and roll in bread crumb, and dip fry until the chops become red.  Arrange in a plate with tomato sauce and mustard sauce. Serve hot with tea or coffee.

 

 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Table cloth from old fabrics










All the fabrics from my skirts, hubby's shirt and baby's dress can be found here.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Upcycled table-mats


After coming back from India, I found that my four table-mats were missing. I couldn’t find them anywhere. Anyway, I had another four spare mats, and I had started using them. However, those mats, which were made of bamboo, didn’t last for long. I desperately needed another four. As a frugal person, I decided to make four mats out of old clothes. Here are the end products. Do you know what material I used here?

I used my son’s baby blanket, my hubby’s old torn t-shirt, and my old dresses. 





Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My first ever mini album

It was the second Valentines’ day after my marriage. I had thinking of many things before I decided to create a mini album for him. At that time I had very, very limited supplies to make this. Still I tried to create something, out of nothing.

The box was made out of a gift bag

 

The heart-shaped paper was cut in free-hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Twelve hours at Singapore airport

Twelve hours sitting in a chair, doing nothing is an impossible job to me. I can’t sit idle even for a moment. If I don’t do anything I’ll go mad. Can you believe, that I’d to sit idle for almost 12 hours at Singapore airport, though there was opportunity to visit the country.

Anyway, I travelled by Singapore airlines exactly four times, and waited in Singapore airport each time during the layover. However, I’ve never been in the city, though, touring the city was not a problem. Singapore government provided facility for the same. First time when I travelled, I didn’t bother to see the city, because, at that time I was dreaming about the USA. Second time I wanted to visit, but, I faced some difficulties with my 4 months baby. Third time, I travelled alone with my seven month old son, so it was out of question to visit the place.  The last time I travelled by Singapore airlines was few months ago. This time my hubby was with me. I was determined, to visit the place this time. We got down in the middle of night at Singapore airport in local time. My hubby suggested that we would have some coffee at Starbucks’ and then to have some rest before going to the city-tour. I readily agreed with him. The Starbucks’ shop mesmerized such a way that I readily nodded my head in agreement with hubby. After five long month I Saw Starbucks’ and was dying to have a cup of coffee there. But, I was extremely tired, and I just settled down on a chair nearby the shop. My hubby dear went to buy coffee. Anyway, after having coffee we just sat idle for some time. 

Koi Fish pond in the middle of the airport

 

I didn’t understand that time passed very quickly. Anyway, after refreshing ourselves we went to the city-tour office. However, it was already ten past eight, and tourists were on their way to board the tour bus for 9 o’clock tour. So, there was no chance to board the 9 o’clock bus. My hubby insisted the officials to allow us to take the 9 o’clock bus. However, I didn’t want to do the same. I rather wanted to take the 11 o’clock bus. I told my husband that, we could have our breakfast before going to the tour. If we took the 9 o’clock bus, we would not be able to have breakfast. My hubby agreed with me. We went to the food court to have something. I wanted to sandwich, which I always liked to have. We went to the same restaurant, where we had coffee on our way to the USA for the very first time. 

Breakfast

 

The breakfast was really delicious. We had ample of time in our hand before going to the tour. It was a great opportunity to explore the whole airport, which I always loved to do, and do some window-shopping there, but the problem was with my little one. He was adamant to ride the sky-train.  Actually as we just enter the airport, he saw the train. The train-crazy little one could find train amid anything. For a long time we tried to divert him. My husband took him to the playground also, but all our efforts went in vain. He frantically wanted to ride train. My hubby restrained to anything, but to take him to the train. I was feeling too tried to go. So, I preferred to get rest on a chair. I tried not to sleep. For some time I kept myself awake, but very soon I dozed off. I didn’t know time passed by. I woke up in a vigorous shake.  I jumped on my feet, and saw that my hubby was shaking me and asking me to rush. We hurriedly went to the tour-office. Unfortunately, again we missed.  It was already 10:30, where we had to reach before 10. I just went mad. I wanted to yell and bang my head. I only knew how I hold back my anger. I asked my hubby about the cause of their delay. He told that, after reaching terminal three by sky-train, they had to wait for a long time to get the return train. I felt like pouncing on my little one. It was his fault. Only for him, the fourth time I couldn’t visit the city. My son started crying without any reason. I was so helpless to do anything. Everybody was staring at us. The situation was extremely embarrassing. Anyway, he fell asleep after some time; even hubby dear also went to slumberland. I was so furious, that didn’t feel sleepy at all. I sat beside them, couldn’t find anything to do. I took some photo of the airport. I already told that I couldn’t sit idle. So, I started writing, opening my laptop.

 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

College Street visit

College Street is the famous book market in north Kolkata, India, every Kolkata-student’s destination. If a book is not available there, probably that book doesn’t exist. In the name College Street, it comes into my mind, my college days. One funny thing I always remember. As a mathematics student I used to need so many papers to practice that in every month I had to go there to buy papers.  We, classmates used to go together to College Street to buy papers, where we used to get papers in lesser prices than from any other market. To avoid traffic congestion, government has restricted the traffic into one-way. So, while going to College Street only option is to ride trams, which eventually still ply on both-way. While going to College Street, we used to wait for few minutes to get a tram to come, before started walking towards College Street. When we used to reach College Street, we could see the tram from distant. In my college-days I never got a tram to go to College Street. Every time I had to walk.

 Anyway, on reaching the place only books come into vision, nothing else. Both sides of the street are full of books. Many bigwigs of the Bengali publication industry are situated here. Numerous small book-stalls, one after another, who sell both new and old books, dot the footpaths of both sides of the street. There is no space to move. Walking through the footpaths is really a cumbersome task. Every now and then jostling with others to move and that is the charm of College Street. All friendly shopkeepers call everybody to buy books. Every shopkeeper tells that he can give the best possible discount on any book. Yet you have to find out among them who can give you the best possible discount. In my student life some time I didn’t have much money to buy new book in the time of dire need, then I usually opted to buy old ones. Still my graduation from college I studied many old books. The street is not only famous for books, but also famous for the educational institutions like Calcutta University, Presidency College, Hindu School, and many more. Those hundred years old institutions are still continuing their legacy. My hubby himself is an ex-student of Hindu School.

Anyway, reminiscing part is over. We went to College Street to buy some books for my hubby dear. We knew that, those books we could get in much cheaper price there than in the USA. So, before leaving Kolkata for the US we went there. My hubby spent there from his childhood to first year of his college life. He always fondly remembers those ‘good old days’. Apart from buying books he wanted just stroll around his old locality. I also wanted to go around the place, as many fond memories had started floating in my mind. So, after lunch we started from home. We decided to travel by bus instead of cab, because we wanted to feel our college days again. Now we don’t want to board any over-crowded bus, rather we are scared to board. However, in those days we used to board the buses without caring about the crowd. The only thing we used to keep in our mind that, we had to reach college before time. Anyway, as the bus started entering College Street from Sealdah I looked through the bus-window. I found my good old College Street with same look and same charm as I last saw it fourteen years ago. All the shops were same as they were before. It really felt elated, because at least one place in Kolkata which didn’t change at all. After browsing some of the book-stalls my hubby got his desired books in reasonable price. After that I asked whether he would like go back. He looked at me with a face full of questions and disbelief. He asked me that, how I could utter such a question? Visiting the place after a long, long time it was not an easy task for him to go back home just after buying books. He told that, he wanted to walk along sideways. We started walking along the pavement. Meanwhile he started telling all his childhood stories. He told me from where they used to buy sweets, from where they used buy kachoris etc. as a great foodie since childhood he knows all the restaurants and eateries in North Kolkata. He told me which eatery was famous for which dish. When he was a child, his whole family used to eat out on regular basis at all the restaurants there. One of the features of Kolkata, specially North Kolkata, and all the restaurants are luster-less. All of them were some-what dingy. May be any outsider will feel uneasy to enter there. However, the food can make anybody drooling. I was not much familiar with those eateries, though I tasted some of those places here earlier. 

The age old restaurants like ‘Dilkhusha’, ‘Basanta Cabin’, are still there, and they are serving same food with same quality which they used to serve years ago. Apart from those is the most famous Coffee house, it is the place of hangout for the students and the intellectuals.

Kachori n Jalebi


Tea in terracotta pot

He took me to a small and somewhat dingy eatery near Thanthania Kalibari, where he used to have ‘Kachori” in his childhood.  I was little skeptical, but when I tasted the kachori , I couldn’t help myself licking my fingers again and again. Without a cup of tea after kachori, the eating couldn’t be completed. So we started walking. After 2-3 shops we stopped by to have a cup of tea. The tea just filled my heart. The most important thing was that, the price was lower than the rest of Kolkata. Then we walked towards the Pasteur Laboratory. We walked past the Mitra mansion. Then he wanted to by patties from Koplia’s. Without knowing the actual position of the shop, nobody could find out it. It was a smaller than anybody’s imagination. Actually the shop was famous for sherbet. He insisted me to taste that, but my stomach was full after eating kachori. It was started getting dark and we decided to go back. We took the tram from College street to wellington, from there we took cab to go back home. This chaotic, unorganized, yet charming place always makes me nostalgic. 

Thanthania Kalibari

 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Simple salad for evening snacks



Every day I struggle to find out a good and health snack in the evening for hubby dear. Finding healthy and tasty snack is a real difficult task. Salad is always the best. However, making salad tastier is a tough job to me. On the top of that my hubby doesn’t like all the leaves. So, lettuce, spinach, arugula should not be there. So, apart from cucumber and tomato what ingredients I can use to make the salad tasty? One day I bought black-eyed beans from market and I thought to use in salad. I love the taste of black-eyed beans, but I didn’t know about my hubby. One day, I prepared salad with that, and my hubby liked that very mach. From that day I prepare black-eyed bean salad very often.

Ingredients:

½ cup black eyed beans

1 /2 tomato

1-2 cucumbers

1 avocado

Salt and black pepper powder to taste

1 tsp. olive oil (optional)

Tortilla chips (optional)

Method:

Soak the beans in water for six hours. Pressure cooked the bean with salt up to one whistle. Do not overcook the beans. Let it cool down. Meanwhile cut avocado, cucumber, tomato into small pieces. Mix all the ingredients. Sever with tortilla chips or the simple salad.