Wednesday, March 26, 2008

5 Spice - essential in Bengal kitchen...aka Panch phoron/Paach Puran

Paanch Phoron

This mix of 5 spice is a MUST HAVE for a Bengali kitchen! Its a flavor explosion when added to any dish at the end of the cooking process or to fry veggies and fish with. When these are tempered, it will fill you with a strong earthy and spicy aroma thats just beautiful. What exactly is in this fantastic spice mix?

It is a mix of 5 whole spices, usually consisting of the following. Substitutions are sometimes made based on region...

Jeera (Cumin): 2 tsp.
Kalojeera (Nigella): 1/2 tsp.
Methi (Fenugreek): 1 tsp.
Radhuni* (Ajwain): 2 tsp.
Sorshe (Mustard seeds): 1 tsp.
[Most popular and typically use Mouri (Fennel seed)]

Most recipes say to use equal portions of all but, this recipe of proportions is from the Bengali cookbook Khado, Ranna and Pusti by Siddiqua Kabir first published in 1978. So, thats what I am going by. The use of mustard seed in place of fennel is my personal choice, the book and typical Panch Phoron uses fennel. I don't really like the taste of fennel seeds in different foods so I use mustard instead.

I was working this post I wondered, that there must be some ancient wisdom at work as to why these particular 5 spices are put together. Whether medicinal value or religious or I have been asking around and doing some research online. So far, people around me don't seem to have the vaguest idea except to point out the traditional spices, perhaps I am just asking the wrong persons. I have found different medicinal uses for each spice, perhaps that's all there was to it!

Well, I am going to continue with the research of these very ancient of spices and its uses in Bengali cooking. The posts will be individual and a link back from this one. I am excited to do this research and bring to you a somewhat comprehensive understanding of the histories and uses of each of the spices.

For now, enjoy cooking with Paanch Phoron. It remains in whole form and tempered or as a Tadka.

**Heat a tsp. or 2 of oil (most typically mustard oil) and add a tsp. of Paanch Phoron. Gently roast it - be careful because it will splutter! About 30 seconds is enough to release the aromas and oils. This can be added in the end of cooking a daal or just throw in some potatoes with onions and stir fry.

I will be sure to link back with recipes as I post them :)

Dal - Masoor (Lentil Soup)

My sister in law asked for a dal recipe. In our house we eat Masoor dal - they are orange round lentils - are the most popular. I can't have a meal without them but with the rising prices of food and especially staples in Bangaldesh - Masoor dal is getting expensive =(

Anyway, there are many different ways to make the dal. Each family or individual has their own methods. Like in my kitchen - I cook it totally different than Alom, our personal manager cum cook. So, below is my version which my friend Niyati learned recently and enjoys quite a bit =) The key to this is the balance of turmeric and salt - so give it a shot and you will learn what amounts you prefer!


1 cup - Masoor dal
2 1/2 chopped - med. Garlic cloves
1 chopped - med. Onion
1 tsp. - Turmeric powder
1 split - Green chili
Cilantro for garnish
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. - Oil (adjust to your need)
about 3 cups of Water (adjust to your need)

1 chopped - Tomato
1 tsp. - Paach foron

1) Wash and soak the daal in water for about an hour or two.

2) Heat oil in a pot, add the onions then garlic. Fry them till the onions are about transparent.

3) Drain the water from the lentils. Add them to the pot, add the turmeric and salt - leave on med-high heat. Fry it in the oil mix for about a minute. Add the water.

4) Once the water starts to boil heavily, lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 15-20 mins. Check in once in a while and stir. Check for salt balance. The water evaporates, so of you want it very liquidy, add more water. I like mine a little thick so I leave it as is. Adjust per your need and taste.

5) Once you are satisfied with the consistency - you can do 1 of two things.

- Add the green chili and cilantro and serve -or -
- Do a tadka (see optional below).


Tadka: Heat another small pan with about 1-2 tsp. of oil. Add the paach foron. Once it starts to splutter add a tiny bit of onion and garlic. Once the onions are transparent - take a spoonful of the dal into the tadka. Then pour the whole tadka into the dal. Stir and mix well. Add green chili and cilantro and serve!

At about middle way through the cooking - like at 8 mins or so - if you want you can add chopped tomatoes or green mangoes. It gives it a sour tangy taste and a different consistency.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tilapia in coconut milk - Royal Foodie Joust entry!

I entered this into the Royal Foodie Joust at The Leftover Queen forum. There are wonderful dishes over there so I am a little intimidated! Stop by and pic your fav. - don't forget to vote! My pic came out terrible and didn't do any justice to the taste. It was fun to make this dish and my husband loved it! I am making it again but with shrimp this time...

Tilapia in Coconut Milk

I used 1 fish - Tilapia fillets
1 tsp - Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp - Coriander powder

6 cloves - Garlic
1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds (coarsely ground)

1 - Dry red chili

handful - French beans
1/2 handful - Sprouts
4 tbsp - Elachi lime or reg lime juice

1/2 cup - Lite coconut milk
1/2 cup - Oil to fry

Salt to tatse

3-4 cups - Water

1) Wash filet and cut into 1 inch strips. Leave the skin on.

2) Marinate the filets in 2 tbsp of lime juice, lime zest, salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric. Mix well and set aside.

3) While the fish marinates, cut garlic into small pieces, clean french beans and cut off ends and coarsely grind whole yellow mustard seeds. ( I use the spice grinder on the blender, another option is a mortar pestle).

4) On a med-low fire, heat oil in a wok or any deep pan. Add the garlic and mustard. Cook it for 1-3 mins. Th mustard seeds will splutter, so be careful!

5) Turn up the heat to med-high and add the fillets. Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric and 1/2 tsp coriander powder. Gently stir to turn the fillets. Turn up the heat and add the water.

6) Add the french beans and sprouts. Take one whole dry chili and break it in half over the pan than drop the pieces in.

7) Add the coconut milk and salt to taste. Let it simmer on med-high for 3-4 mins. Taste test the curry for salt and flavor. Lastly squeeze a bit of lime juice on top and serve!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Foodie Blogroll

Being online and checking out so many blogs and finally starting a cooking blog of my own - I have taken the next step and become a part of the foodie world! This blog is listed on the Foddie Blogroll - a community of food lovers and cooks. Its a such a wonderful experience to be able to interact with other food lovers! Want to give out a special thanks and an "awesome job" award to Jenn aka The Leftover Queen who initiated this whole community! Check out her blog: and don't forget to check out the blogroll (top left on this page).


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Prawn Coconut malai

My mother sent this recipe when she read my blog...haven't had a chance to try it yet but sounds delicious.

10-12 Prawn
2 Bay leaves
2 tsp Onion paste
1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
2 tsp Tomato Puree
halfcup coconut milk
1 tsp ghee
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
few corriander leaves
3 tsp oil
1. Wash the prawn. Sprinkle salt and turmerice powder on them. Keep aside
2. Heat the oil, fry the prwan till the golden brown. Keep them aside.
3. Add the bay leaves in the remaining oil, add onion, ginger garlic paste and stir well. Add tomato puree turmeric powder, chilli powder, sugar and salt and stir till oils gets seperated from the mixture.
4. Add prawn now and mix it well.
5. Slowly add the coconut milk and then add half a cup of water and bring it to boil in low heat.
6. When the curry thickens, spread the ghee & garam masala powder evenly all round the pan.
7. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice and Naan.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Veg. Noodles

Another concoction from Ishy's kitchen... we were expecting some evening guests for tea and I wanted to serve some warm noodles. also had bits of veggies in fridge that was in dire need of being cooked up - so in it all went with the noodles.


Noodles (any type)
Chicken stock: 2 bouillon cubes
Carrots: in thin slices
Cauliflower: 1 cup
Cabbage: 1 cup
Spinach: 1-2 bunches
Onion: 1 med in chunks
Garlic: 4 cloves in slices
Lite Soy sauce: 1/4 cup
Coriander powder: 2 tsp.
Red chili powder: 1 tsp.
Green chili: 2 split
Salt to taste
Mint leaves: 1 bunch

1) Bring the bouillon cubes to boil in 4-cups of water. Add the noodles and carrots. I add a 1 tsp of oil, 1 garlic and pinch of salt to the water.

2) Cut all veggies , onion and garlic into chunks.

3) Heat about 3 tbsp. of oil in a large pan or pot. Sautee the onions and garlic for 1 min or until onions are transparent.

4) Add the cauliflower and cabbage. Add salt to taste and coriander powder. Add soy sauce and stir fry. Let cook 2-3 mins in low heat.

5) Pour the the stock and noodles into the pan. Toss all together. Add the spinach, mint leaves, green chilis and red chili powder.

6) Pour some ketchup on top- abt 1/4 cup. Stir and cover. Let cook on low heatfor 4-5 mins or until stock dries out.

7) Sprinkle some tasting salt on the top and serve! Garnish with some mint leaves.


Eggplant, Pumpkin & Tomatoes

I have to really remember to take pics. i don't own a digi cam - but my camera on my phone works well...just not as beautiful as I see it up close =(

This is one of those "make it in the spot from whatever is in the fridge" dishes. It was getting late and I wanted veggies with dinner, so here goes my concoction. Cal and I really enjoyed it, hope you will too!


Purple eggplant: cut in chunks 2 cups
Sweet pumpkin: cut in same size chunks 2 cups
Tomatoes: again - chunks 2 cups
Garlic: about 4 big cloves in slices
Onion: 2 med size in chunks
Bay leaf: 1 big leaf
Sugar: 2 tsp.
Salt: to taste
Lime juice: 1 tsp
Fresh coriander for garnish
Oil: 3 tbsp.

1) Cut the veggies and onions in bite size chunks. Garlic in slices.

2) Heat oil in a wok or frying pan. Add garlic and onions and sautée.

3) Add the pumpkin and eggplant and stir fry for a 1 min. Add salt to taste.

4) add bay leaf and sugar, mix well. Cover and simmer for 3-5 mins on low heat.

5) Add lime juice and tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes are tender. Mix one last time. Remove from heat and ready to serve. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves.


Chicken and Mushroom

Thursday, April 5, 2007: from I cooked this dish when I was staying at my mothers' house in NJ and my lil brother was craving some non-desi meals. I was feeling particularly proud of my culinary skills with left overs so this blog was originally titled: i am an amazing cook! ;P

last night, i came home at 10p and Ryan wanted dinner but american/european meal. so the chicken was defrosting and i had picked up some mushrooms on the way home as well as this green eggplant shaped squash...just wanted to try it. anyway..i had no clue what to make! i ransacked my mother's cabinets and came across soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, maggie seasonings and chicken abode marinade. Had fresh limes, tomatoes and broccoli. and put some potatoes to boil.

i marinaded the chicken in a mixture of all the liquids w dash of lime. cut up 1 and half purple onions. I sauteed half the onions in some oil and put the chicken in. let it cook a little bit then poured in all the marinade into the pan and covered to let it simmer. next i had to fig out what to do w mushrooms. ryan wanted a gravy. meanwhile i boiled broccoli and the squash and Ryan made the mashed potatoes with too much salt!

to make mushroom gravy i boiled a half cup of water and mixed in 1 heaping table spoon of all purpose flour and made a thick concoction. the chicken was done on 1 side and flipped to brown the other. Pulled it out and put in serving plate. the pan had oil, marinade and the remainder onions cooked in. i poured in the flour concoction and stirred w a whisk to get a nice consistency then put in the mushrooms and cooked for a bit. added a bit of lime juice to give a bit of tangy flavor. once that was thoroughly mixed and cooked, poured over the chicken. served the broccoli, squash and tomatoes suateed in olive oil and garlic -and mashed potatoes on the side.

my goodness. the chicken and mushrooms came out fantastic! i should just open a restaurant!!! seriously make my best meals unplanned n from bare fridge and cabinets!

Sweet, Spicy, Sour Chicken Curry

Thursday, September 6, 2007: form - my personal blog

I saw this recipe on TV the other night and tried out last night. Cal loved it. It gives a really unique taste to chicken curry... here goes the recipe.

You will need
Chicken - cut into pieces
Oil - for deep frying
Onion - chopped
Garlic - chopped
Ginger - chopped
Sour yogurt
Black Pepper
Chili Powder - adjust to your taste
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Bay leaf - 1 big
Cardamom - 2-3 pods
Cinnamon stick - half of 1
fresh chili and coriander

Clean chicken and cut to desired pieces. Marinate in salt and black pepper for abt 1/2 hr. Deep fry in oil just until it puffs up - it doesn't have to fully cook. Put aside for later. In the oil cook the onion, garlic and ginger till onions are transparent. Put in all the spices - adjust to your taste. Stir and cook the spices for a bit then put in the chicken and mix in with the spices. Pour water or chicken stock to cook the chicken in - cover and let simmer. Mix in sugar and salt into yogurt to your taste of how sour you want. Pour in the yogurt once the water is boiling. Stir well and cover and let simmer. Once the yogurt is cooked (it starts really soaked in the chicken) you have few options. You can adjust the sweet (add a bit more sugar), spicy (add a bit more chili powder) and sour (by adding sour yogurt).

option 1: mix in some green chili (split in half) and top it off with fresh coriander
option 2: mix in some almonds and cook for 2 more mins and serve with some almond slivers on top.
option 3: fry some onions till crispy and serve with it sprinkled on top.

Serve with fluffy white rice or parothas.

Tomato Chicken with Bell Peppers and Raw Bananas

Monday, September 24, 2007 : from my other blog:

We had a serious surplus of small green raw bananas after C's aunt sent over 2 batches over 1 week! I had never cooked or had raw bananas and it sat for another week till I was forced to figure out what to do with it. Our cook/servant only knew of using them in fish curries and I am not fond of buying fish (a lil scared!) so - we had to get creative. So one night we cooked it with beef curry and replaced potatoes with the bananas. The next day we boiled it a bit and then cut them like fries and cooked them like fries as a snack - realized it can be cooked like potatoes! Apparently 1 raw banana is equivalent to 1 potato in starch/carbs.

We had a half a big bell pepper left over and before it spoiled I wanted to use it up. But when he went to cut it - it was already half spoiled! So we had only a few pieces of bell peppers - hardly enough for even 1/4 of a chicken! Looked around - and aha! the dang raw bananas!! Cut them into little pieces and added them to the pile - wallah! Enough base for a good curry.

So here goes me experiment - brahahaha! It started off as a recipe I saw online but by the time I was cooking it - it became something quite different!

You need...
Chicken - cut into bite size marinate in 1 tsp salt
Bell pepper - 1 is enough for 1/2 chicken
Raw Banana - I used about 4 - these are small
2 Tomatoes or canned tomato puree will work
Onion, Garlic, ginger pastes (mixed about 3-4 table spoons)
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Red Chili powder
Fresh green chili - split lengthwise on top
Fresh Coriander leaves
Bay leaf
Cinnamon stick
Tomato Ketchup 1-2 tsp (optional for a sweet/sour taste)

Prep time: efficient kitchen and quick chopping will take no time at all =)
Cook time: 15-20mins

Heat some oil in pan. Fry the banana, green chili and bell pepper. Take out and put aside - try not to overcook it.

In a blender, make a tomato puree. Take tomato or tomato puree, 2-3 cloves of garlic, pinch of salt, red chili powder and ketchup. Put aside.

In same oil put the pastes (onion, garlic, ginger) and fry till the oil rises to top. Put in the cleaned chicken pieces and fry for a bit. Pour in the puree and toss. Add the garam masala, a bit of salt, sugar. Let it boil for a few minutes. Put in the bananas and let it simmer. In 5 minutes put in the peppers and green chili so its still a bit crunchy.

Taste to see if it needs more sugar or salt. If its strong taste - add sugar to tone down and even the taste. It should be spicy, little sour and a little sweet and will smell and taste like chinese =)

Serve with fresh coriander sprinkled on top. It will look a nice reddish curry with green peppers/coriander and white-ish chicken.

Its a crazy concoction but it tasted surprisingly good with some rice! Btw - it isn't necessary to add the bananas - I added them cause I had so much to get rid off!

Peanut Butter Balls

C wanted something sweet after dinner the other night and for once there was nothing in the house-- being it was 11pm - no stores to go buy smth either - so the next day i went hunting for some recipes and came across this easy yummy recipe and decided to make a batch and always have in the fridge for that sudden sweet tooth craving!

You need...
Peanut butter
Sugar or icing sugar works better
powdered milk (optional)
Chocolate shavings of ur choice (optional)

In a bowl mix all ingredients to form a firm dough ball of the peanut butter. Taste along the way for sweetness that you like. Then take tiny bits and form little balls - I make little bite size about size of malt balls. Then roll them in some powdered sugar and cinnamon mix to seal and stick them in a box and into the fridge. Pop one whenever you feel like one =)

Note of Caution: pop sparingly - unless you want to start looking like a ball!

Fruit Desserts

Below post is another one from my bohemian bongo blog...figured should move the recipes over to here! This one is from a Eid party my husband I had hosted last October...

For Eid I ended up making 3 fruit dishes. Why? I over estimated and had a surplus of fruits so had to do something with it.

Main - Leche de Fruit (ok - i made it up-- have a better idea?)

Combination of soft and hard fruits cut to bite size pieces.
I used: red apples, bananas, starfruit, guava, pineapple

fresh grated coconut shavings
Can of sweetened condensed milk

In a large decorative platter make a thin layer of coconut shavings. Dunk all the fruit in the condensed milk and make layers of fruits and top it all with coconut shavings. The starfruits looked so pretty that I had small toothpicks inserted and the pieces standing like stars around the dish. The kids loved it =)

Fruits 2:

Mix of fruits sprinkled with sugar, garam masala and black salt. I had put it inside a emptied watermelon turned into a bowl.

Fruits 3:

Mix of fruits with salt and kasondi. Kasondi is a mustard seed concoction. It was a nice kick of spicy and and sweet. Kasondi is like a preserve so it keeps if fresh hard fruits.

Twister & Doctor’s Rx

Below is a post from my personal blog: I spent some time in Bangalore, India and had some fun nights out with friends and very interesting local cocktails...enjoy the recipes!

Sunday, woke up at 1PM after getting back from the pub at the unholy hour of 5AM. Luckily, no hangover. Had very yummy drink: Twister.

What is a Twister?

Shot of vodka
Lime juice – fresh squeezed
Sprite or 7-Up
Splash of cranberry juice

Sounds good, right? For my Luvlies that are abstaining from Alcohol this year—I think it would make a pretty good virgin drink too!

Another good drink—Doctor’s Rx

Learnt it from a friend in NYC but this is what it is:

Warm water
Mixed with Brandy

Its actually very tasty.

Also learned—eating bananas is a great help with hangovers. Also helps, LOTS of water before passing out! And of course, cold pizza. Dominoes pizza here is so good! The cheese is different and gives it a whole diff flavor!

India has McDonalds (no beef though), KFC, Pizza Hut and Dominoes (guaranteed delivery in 30 mins!) Waiting to see if a Starbucks, Krispy Kreme & Dunkin’Donuts pop up!!

Golden Fried Tofu

I am by no means a health foodie but sometimes you have a craving for something light. This recipe just hits the spot for a perfect tea time or afternoon/evening snack. I have to remember to take pics the next time I make these tid-bits.Its silky and smooth and cruchy and just..yumm..


Tofu - Medium to firm
Oil for deep frying

1) Drain and dry the tofu. Cut into bite size cubes

2) Carefully roll them in the cornstarch. Be gentle, they are soft and may fall apart.

3) Heat oil for deep frying. Place the tofu cubes in the oil. It makes a wonderful noise as it fries up the cornstarch. It will be a light to medium golden color. Turn them over till all sides are done.

4) Place them in a paper towel to drain excess oil.

Sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper on top if desired. The tofu I get in Dhaka is a bit salty so i leave as is. You can serve them with a sauce but i really enjoy them on its own.

Great appetizer for a party as well!


Aloo Chop {Potato Cutlet}

Aloo Chop or Potato cutlet is a specialty of my grandmother's. Now I make them with my own twist and it is delicious, if I do say so myself! Its so simple! I hardly cook with measurements - unless I have to tell someone else what to this is one of those without exact measurements and purely based on your own personal taste.


Potato (any is good but a starchier potato holds together better)
Black pepper
Coriander Powder
Bread crumbs (I use 'toast biscuits' all mashed into crumbs)
Oil to fry

1) Boil potatoes. Once soft, drain and let cool.

2) Smash 'em up (I am hands on so I dif in with my fist and fingers to mash those babies down!) and start adding the spices. Add salt, sugar and black pepper. Start with adding just little bit and taste along the way to get a perfect balance suitable for your palate.

3) Next, dab a little oil in your palms and place table spoon worth of potato in it. Now roll 'em up like playdough into a ball and them lightly press palms together to flatten it out just a little bit.

4) Once all the cutlets are ready, break an egg into a bowl and mix. Don't whip, just break yolk and mix with the whites. Add a lil bit of salt and 1/2 tsp. of coriander power. Mix well.

5) Dip the cutlets in the egg, cover them well in bread crumbs and set aside till all done.

6) Heat about 1/2 cup of oil in a deep frying pan. Once the oil is hot - if smoky its too hot - place the cutlets carefully in the oil. You want it a dark nutty color so watch and be careful not to get splattered by oil. Turn it over to cook well on other side.

I use a paper towel on a plate to dry off excess oil. Its great warm and cool. Sometimes I give a side of chutney or just plain tomato ketchup - but this recipe - friends just enjoy as is!


Watermelon Juice

Its such a cool refreshing juice to have on hand on a warm day...its a very warm day in Dhaka today!

Fresh watermelon, pick/scoop out the seeds.
Put it through a blender and puree, add sugar to taste and blend again.

Serve chilled, add a little bubble to the drink with some sprite or 7-up

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Honey Cardamom Chicken

This is my husband's absolute favorite dish at the moment. I was getting tired of all the curries so I went searching online for some interesting chicken recipes. I came across this but have modified it for our palates. Make sure make enough, cause Cal is usually licking the honey off the plate!!


Honey: 1/4-1/2 cup.
Cardamom - ground: 1 tsp.
Cloves - ground: 1 tsp.
Whole Black pepper: 1 tsp.
Red Chili powder: 1 tsp.
Olive oil: 3-4 tbsp.
Onion: 1 roughly chopped
Chicken: 1 cut into 4 or 8 pcs

1) Heat the honey slightly to make it easier to work with. I just microwave it for 10 sec.

2) Mix in all the spices except the onion. Place the chicken pcs in the marinade and mix well. I like to use my hands, so I really massage the honey mix into the meat. Also take a fork and pierce the skin to help the marinade seep in. Cover and set aside for at least 1/2 hour. If you have more time, leave it in the fridge on warm day for at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3) Heat some olive oil in pan, throw in the chopped onions and let it sautee for 1 min. Places chicken pieces in the oil and pan fry. Once well fried on both sides, pour the reamaining marinade into the pan and simmer until ready to take off stove. Cook the chicken well - for at least 15-20mins.

I find that I have to cook the chicken a little bit longer here than I did in the states...oh well, better to have well cooked meat than under cooked!

Let me know how your family or you enjoy this recipe. I serve it, of course, with some fluffy white rice. Its also good on its own with some veggie sides and roasted potatoes.


Eat This Not That

I was watching Ellen this afternoon - yes, we get american syndication in Dhaka via satellite! - and she talked about this great book called "Eat This Not That".

It breaks down what foods to order when you go out to eat...learning to make healthier choices. You will be surprised, some foods that you would think are unhealthy are actually the healthier choices!

For example: Dunkin' Donuts
Ordering the ham, egg and cheese muffin sandwich is healthier for you than the multigrain bagel with cream cheese! I knew I like the muffin sandwiches for a reason....slrrp-i miss 'em

Here is a link to the online site:

Begun Bhaji {Fried Eggplant}

I LOVE fried eggplants. If there is nothing else and you give me some fried eggplanta nd rice... i am perfectly happy. My default Menu for any meal is this. my husbands is Alloo Bharta (mashed potatoes), Daal (lentils) and rice. Here is my fav. recipe for eggplant or aubergine as some know it.


Eggplant: 1
Turmeric: 2 tsp.
Chili Powder: 1 tsp.
Salt to tase

(Optional - it gives a deeper flavor)
Ginger paste: 1 tsp.
Garilc paste: 1 tsp.
Onion paste: 1 tsp.

1) Wash the eggplant well. Do not peel, only cut off the stem. Then cut into round circles - about 1/4" thick.

2) Make a paste of the turmeric, chili powder and salt by adding a little bit of water. Too much will just make it a watery thin mess, you want to have a thick pasts like cake batter consistency.

3) Now dip and roll the eggplant slices in paste. Make sure to get a thick coat.

4) Add about 2-3 tbsp. of oil - depending on your pan. Heat the oil make sure it doesn't get smoky. Once the oil is ready, place the eggplant slices with the paste in the pan. Don't over crowd the pan!.

5) Cook each side for about 3-4 mins. Keep on medium heat so it cooks evenly inside and not char the outside. You know its done when the inside becomes soft. If its falling apart, its over done...but not a problem, still delicious!

Serve with some Roti or plain rice. We bengalis Love our rice and some have it 3 times a day even!!

Kumra Phool Bhaji {Zucchini Flowers}

I love these flowers! They are tasty as they are colorful! First time I had them was at my grandmother's house. Their cook had them so light and crunchy so the light flavors really just melted in your mouth. Yum. I have tried to duplicate it but, it must take some amount of practice. This version we still enjoy in my household...

Bread crumbs
or Chick pea flour (besan)
Salt to taste

Wash the flowers well and pat dry. Beat the egg so its well mixed. Dip in egg, dip next in bread crumbs or besan. Fry up in some light oil - about 2 tbsp. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top.

Thats it!

Its a very versatile flower and I have found tons of ways to cook it - one I want to try is in a Mexican fajita. As I try different variations, will keep you posted...

I am curious to know if they are available in the States or in your neighborhood... would appreciate if you could let me know.


Garlic Spinach

Cal and I both love spinach. This is a healthy and easy dish to accompany any meal. If ever a crave hits, all I have to do is go downstairs to the open bazaar and pick up a few fresh bunches of leaves and walla! on the table in 10 mins!


Spinach Fresh works best (about 2 bunches)
Oil 2 Tbsp. (any oil of your choice - I use Olive oil or soybean oil)
Garlic 3-4 cloves , sliced
Salt to taste

1) Cut the stems off the spinach. Wash well by filling up your sink with water and soaking. This method loosens the dirt. Wash until clean - about 3 times. Drain and dry well.

2) Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic. Sauté for about 1-2 mins, until the garlic is just beginning to brown.

3) Add the spinach to the pan. Use a tong or two spatulas to turn the spinach and evenly distribute the garlic and oil. Turn a few times.

4) Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and turn the spinach over again. Cover the pan and cook for an additional minute.

5) After 2 minutes of covered cooking the spinach should be completely wilted. Remove from heat. Drain any excess moisture from the pan. Add a little more olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bangali Cookbook

When I first moved to Dhaka, I was delighted to finally cook old dishes my mom used to cook when we were kids. Especially, now I have 2 or 3 to cook for at any time instead of just moi while living in NY! I started cooking all the desi recipes I remembered and then started calling my grandmother and aunts to give me more ideas. One of the challenges were that I had very little idea of the types of veggies that were in the market and more importantly, no idea how to cook them! so, instead of driving my extended family crazy with my phone calls, I went out to New Market bookstores and started asking around for the classic Bangladeshi cook book. Its titled "Ranna, Khaddo, Pushti" by Siddiqui Kabir. The first publication was in 1978. The titled loosely translates into: Cooking, Food/Diet & Nutrition. My mother and her mother used to use the book as a guide! Mrs. kabir is like my grandmothers age and still continues to teach young'uns to cook through her english translated book and cooking show on local TV. There were Banglai and english versions but i opted for the bengali - thinking I should use it to improve my bengali reading skills.

Anyway, its been a great resource and there are so many traditional recipes and abundant tips and other helpful instructions that, really, a novice cook does not really need any other cookbook to learn HOW to cook! Its very thorough! So if any of you ever in Bangladesh - pick up the book!

Old cookbook

The other day, Cal and I had gone to buy some books and decided to check out the old bookstore alleys. The ins and outs of those alleys are like a maze! We both felt like rats trying to find our way out! But, I did find a great book. It was a big text book, frayed but in fairly good condition. It is the "Pan American's Complete Round-The-World Cookbook" by Myra Waldo. Its a book of recipes gathered by Pan American Airways from 81 countries they served back in 1962!! Its a wonderful collection of local cocktails and dishes with blurbs about the country and the culinary culture! I love the book and what a great find in such an unexpected place!!


Upma is a healthy south indian breakfast. It is made with suji or semolina or cream of wheat. It is very versatile and you can add any number of veggies you like. I like mine with only tomatoes and a nice dose of mustard seeds. I also enjoy it a little bit spicy and it has been a good alternative to a traditional breakfast.


Suji 1 cup
Onion ½ cup, finely chopped
Green chili 1 chopped coarsely
Tomato 1 small chopped
Cilantro 2 tbsp. chopped finely
Brown Mustard
Seeds 1 tsp.
Sugar 2 tsp.
Salt ¼ tsp. or to taste
Lime Juice ¼ tsp.
Hot Water 1 ¾ cup
Oil 3 tbsp.

1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan or a wok. Add mustard seeds. Cook till they start to sputter, about 2 minutes. (be careful, they can hurt if they jump on you!)

2. Add onions and salt. Sauté the onion till the edges start to turn brown.

3. Add tomatoes and green chilis. Sauté about five minutes.

4. Add lime juice, sugar and mix well.

5. Add in the suji. Stir well. Add water and keep stirring. Bring to almost a boil.

6. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes or till all the water is absorbed. It shloud be soft and coming off the sides of the pan.

7. Turn off heat and stir in chopped cilantro.

Its done! Enjoy!!

Beef Vindaloo

I love this curry, but always have a hard time getting the meat to be tender enough. Could just be the meat in Dhaka. I puree green papaya and marinate the beef for about an hour to hour and half and wash it off before cooking it. I have made this curry several times and the longer its on stove the better the taste and even better the next day! Its delicious to sop up with some fluffy parothas or white rice.


Beef 1KG
Oil 1/4 cup
Onion, chopped 1 Tbl. sp.
Garlic, chopped 1 tsp.
Ginger, paste/powder 1 tsp.
Coriander, paste/powder 1 tsp.
Cumin, paste/powder 1 tsp.
Turmeric, paste/powder 1 tsp.
Mustard, paste/powder 1/2 tsp.
Chilly powder 2 tsp.
Black Pepper, powder 1/4 tsp.
Vinegar 2 Tbl.
Whole green Chillies 2
Salt 1 tsp.

1. In heated oil, fry the onion and garlic slightly.

2. Mix all the spices in the vinegar and pour into the pan. Fry for 3-4 mins then add the meat.

3. Cook covered for 20-3o mins. Once the meat in tender and cooked through, stir with spices that are now paste like.

4. Serve!

Note: You can add small bite size potatoes as well.

Tehari [Mutton/beef and Rice]

This is great for a group party and eaten with some fresh salad or sour yogurt. You can of course increase and decrease the amounts of spices depending on your own tastes.

Beef 2 kg. (4 Lbs.)
Onion paste 6 whole
Garlic paste 1 tsp.
Red chili paste 1 tbsp.
Coriander paste 1 tbsp.
Cumin paste 1 tbsp.
Ginger paste 2 tbsp.
Cinnamon 2c.m 3 pieces
Cardamom 4 pods
Cloves 5 pcs
Green chilies 9 whole
Oil 1-1/4 cup
Pulao rice* 1 kg (1 Lb.)
Salt 2 tbsp
Turmeric 1 tbsp (optional)

1. Cut the beef into medium sized cubes.

2. Heat oil in a big saucepan. Stir in all the pastes. Cook for about 2 mins.

3. Add beef, salt, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and bay leaf. Stir the beef
well with the paste mix and add 8 cups of water. Cook it in low heat till water dries.

4. Remove the meat from the spices.

5. Wash the rice and drain the water. Add rice to the spice mix and stir fry it for 3-4 mins.

6. Add 6-7 cups water. Once the water begins to boil, add the beef and green chilies.

7. Cook covered for 20 minutes in low heat.

When you take it out from the stove don’t open the cover for 20 minutes. Serve with a fresh salad.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Suji Halwa

1/4 cup (Gur) Jaggery
4 tbsp. Sugar
1 cup Suji or Semolina
1/3 cup Ghee
2 pods Cardamom pod
2 cm. Cinnamon stick
1 Bay Leaf
2 cups Water
raisins (optional and as desired)

(all can be adjusted to your own taste)

1) Boil a 1/4 cup of water to melt the jaggery and add sugar. Once melted, leave it on burner on very low heat.

2) On a non stick skillet, heat ghee and add cardamom pod/powder, cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
Fry for 1 min.

3) Add the semolina to the ghee mix. Keep on medium heat. Roast the semolina till it
is a brown nutty toasted color.

4) Once toasted, add the jaggery/sugar mix and remaining water. Let it cook and become like a paste. Keep stirring till it all sticks tightly together and leaves the sides of pan.

5) Grease a shallow dish and scoop out the mix and flatten with a buttered spoon. Let it cool and cut into desired shapes.

I usually cut into diamond shapes and place a raisin or nut in the center. You can also add raisins or nuts when you fry the spices in the ghee.

Note: ghee = clarified butter. Can be found in Indian grocery or specialty food shop. Or make your own by melting butter over heat!