Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Happy Diwali with "Kheer Chomchom"

History repeats itself.
I have used this sentence many times. Usually accompanied by a wisely nodding head.
Last evening I felt like using it again.
Hear me out. Tell me if the situation sounds familiar to you.
Be honest.

Son returned from school . Mother got busy preparing his lunch in the kitchen. It is the exam month. Each week  there is an exam and the declaration of marks of the previous week's exam.

Mom: How was the Maths test today?
Son: Good, I think.
Mom: What do you mean, "I think"?
Son: I can only know for sure when the teacher corrects my answers.
[A bit of a struggle for the Mom to digest the logic]
Mom:  OK, OK. Did you get the marks for some subject today?
Son: Yes, Geography.
Mom; How much did you get?
Son: The whole class got bad marks!
Mom: Oh? But how much did you get?
Son: You know Mom, most students got 6 out of 10.
Mom: And you?
Son: The teacher said he was very strict in his correction method this time.
Mom: Hmm, how much did you get?
Son: Only two girls got 8 but they are in the plus-class.
Mom: Fine but tell me how much YOU got!!!
Son: 6.

History repeats itself.
Same exams, same mothers, same questions, same kids, same answers!!

The good news is that Diwali is here. I do not need to dwell on this "history repeating itself" thing too much for the time being. I can focus on other sweet things in my life now and come back to the "sweetest thing of my life" later!

Happy Diwali- Let the light shine

Kheer Chomchom

This is a typical Bengali sweet. Very sweet, very juicy, very tasty!!
I am not very fond of sweets myself! The men in the house love sweets!!
I am actively into this sweet making business only because of the reaction I received from both the A's in my life (junior and senior) after they tasted "Nolen gur-er sandesh".
This time it is  "Chomchom".  Let the magic begin.......

If Chomchom is a cake then Kheer Chomchom is like the icing on the cake...only makes it better!

I used:
  • Full fat milk: 2 liters
  • Lemon juice : 2 lemons (you can also use vinegar)
  • Sugar: 2 cups
  • Water :5 cups
  • Saffron:  Few strands
  • Milk powder : 5-6 spoons or home made kheer/khowa
  • Pistachio/Raisins/Saffron for decoration (optional)

Ready steady cook:

  • First bring the milk to a boil.
  • Switch  the flame to low and gradually add the lemon juice little at a time while stirring with a spoon.Cheese (chhana) is formed.
  • Strain it in a light muslin cloth.
  • Hang the cheese for about 2 hrs so that the water drains away.
  • Let some cold water run on the hanging cheese. This will reduce the smell of the lemon (or vinegar) used to curdle the milk.
  • Once cool, knead it properly so that there are no lumps at all. 
  • The end product should be smooth and melt-in-the-mouth soft.
  • Make small balls with the chhana and flatten then between your palms to give the  flat traditional Chomchom looks. 

  • In a pan add the sugar and water and let it come to a boil (Thin consistency) 
  • Reduce the heat and slowly drop the chomchoms in the sugar syrup one by one. 
  • This is a delicate step, be careful not to break the sweets but adding too many in one bowl. 
  • Let it boil for 20 mins. 
  • Add a few strands f saffron in the boiling water. This imparts a nice colour and flavour to the sweets.
  • Allow them to cool. 

   1. Lengthy authentic option is to boil milk and sugar to a very thick consistency called Kheer.
   2. Shortcut option can be to warm some milk powder and sugar with little bit of water/milk in the microwave to make a thick granular mixture.
   3. Even shorter cut can be to use condensed milk from the can.

Choice is yours.
  • I took the second option because I love short cuts. (I did not use the third because I did not have condensed milk can at home)
  • Spread this thick granulated sweet milk (kheer) on the chomchoms for decoration and added taste.
  • Garnish with strands of saffron or pistachios or raisins.

Friday, 10 October 2014

"Keys" to Fish-Mustard special

I gave the keys of the house in his hands and uttered a silent prayer.
"Please please please don't lose the keys!"
I prayed, "Let him grow up into a responsible man and a good human being"
Kidding again. 
I was too tense to pray for anything at all.
Getting the keys was indeed a big thing for the boy, but giving the keys to the 10 yr old was also a big thing for the parents. Oops, sorry, for the mother.
The father had his usual "no-problem-I-am cool" looks on.
The idea was that he will come home from school, open the door, enter the house and stay at home for a few hours . Till we return from work.
All on his own. 
(A-junior refuses to go to the after school day care anymore). 
The boy took the keys, hung it around his neck and left for school on his bicycle.
I left for work. I checked my phone. I parked my car. I checked my phone. I started my computer, had a coffee and checked my phone again.
So far so good.
Throughout the day, I kept on checking my phone many times. Honestly I don't know what I was expecting.
The phone finally rang at 15:30.
School ends at 15:00. A few mins to come out of the class, get the cycle, 15 mins of cycling back, opening the door, putting the cycle in the shed...so 15:30... made sense!
A relieved mother!
Mom: Hey, how was everything? You first day with the keys? No problem opening the door?
A-junior: Yup..all ok Ma. No problem at all.
Mom: Very good. Eat something first and then play. I will be back home at 17:30.
A-junior: Wellllllllll, I actually may not be home at that time. I made an appointment with a friend to play football in front of their house. So I need to go out. But don't worry Ma , I have the keys!!!
Mom:  What??? WHAT??? Stay home, no going out till I am hack home.
(In an open office, my voice must have gone a few decibels higher than normal. Some heads turned. I pronounced "All ok" soundlessly to my colleagues and walked towards the corridor to continue the conversation)
A-junior: But... Maaa..I have the keys...If I can open the door once, I can open it again..... .
Mom:  (lowering the voice a bit and trying to beat his logicI know you have the keys but let us take one step at a time.You got the keys today, we must all get used to this fact first. Few days later, you can go out to play...few more days later you will be able to do more things on your own..but let us wait...One thing at a time, ok?
Not a very happy boy at the end of the conversation but I must admit he did understand my dilemma and agreed at the end. Phew.....
The boy turned 10 today. Double digits, double responsibilities, more freedom??

Fish-Mustard special

The reason to put the word "special" in the name of the dish is because this is the first time I cooked fish with white/yellow mustard in place of the regular black ones.

I used:

  • Fish fillet : 6  (cut them  up into smaller pieces as per need) This is roughly 1 kg fish.
  • I used a white fish called Panga
  • Mustard (yellow grains): 4-5 spoons (paste)
  • Tomato: 1  (chopped)
  • Onion: 2 large (chopped)
  • Yogurt: 2 tbsp.
  • Kalaunji (Kalo jeere): 1 tsp
  • Green chili: 2  (slit)
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt, turmeric.
Ready steady cook:
  • Clean the fish and add salt and turmeric. Add one/two spoon of oil and mix it all nicely. 
  • Grill the fish in the one till light brown. (You can also fry them)

Grilled fish
  • In a separate pan, heat the oil.
  • Add the chilies and the kalaunji.
  • Let them sizzle and and then add the onions.
  • Saute for a while till onions change colour and add the tomatoes.
  • Fry for a while till tomatoes are no more raw.Add salt and turmeric.
  • Mix the mustard paste and the yogurt separatelywithout any lumps.
  • Lower heat and add this mix.
  • Cook for only 2-3 mins and add half a up of water.
  • Arrange the grilled fish on a serving dish and pour this curry on top so that the fishes are immersed.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves (optional)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The "KICK" with "Kochu-Keramoti"

A-junior will turn ten this month. Double digits..big deal indeed!
It is amazing how time flies. I remember him crawling all over the place with a two-words-rich-vocabulary of "Gu gu  ga ga". The fact that the same "gu gu  ga ga " baby can turn back and reply to me in full sentences with full logical sense (at times a bit too logical for a mother to digest) still amazes me. I think all mothers go through this experience.
This time in India, one morning he said, "Mama lets go for a movie"!
Off course we have been to movies here many times, but this time the way he said it was so "grown up"-ish that it made me smile.I think he was also a bit bored with the warm weather in India and the constant in-house-playing-with-the-ipad situation. So we decided to go for a movie. Mother son on our first movie date in India!
First we looked through the pages of the newspaper to check which movies were on.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) none of the theaters were running an animation film. So after some "shall we, shall we not?", I decided to go for one of the masala movies with him.
We chose "KICK".
You heard it correct. I went to watch Salman Khan starrer "KICK" with my 9-yr old.
A 9 yr old who does not understand Hindi at all. 
I feel, "One does not need a language to understand a Salman Khan movie".
Since the theater was inside a big shopping mall, I promised him that in case..in case he did not like it,we will still have many other things to do. ( I am not a Salman Khan fan myself, so I too needed a plan B)
Fully equipped with the Cola and the popcorn, Mother Son duo entered the hall. It was a Tuesday 2:45 show.

The theater was deserted (as expected on a weekday afternoon) except for the few "usual suspects".
Jatin and Lalita happily settled down at the extreme corner seats of the last row. Obviously, watching Kick was not their first priority.
Ramesh, Jitesh, Lokesh, Mukesh were seated at the front close to the screen. It was their day off from their fly-over construction job. They were already muttering the Salman Khan dialogues and were very keen to see the item number which Nilesh could not stop talking about.
Sharma Uncle and Aunty prefers this afternoon show. Less crowded, more peace. Aunty loves Salman, Sharma uncle makes it a point to bring her to a Salman movie during its first week of release.Their children always joke about it.
Ranu and Debi had bunked their afternoon classes. The new History professor is as old and uninteresting as the subject itself. Sitting in his class is both a physical and a mental torture.
..and amidst all this, me and A-junior., the "unusual suspects"!

The movie started. Like I said, a language is too small a barrier in a Salman Khan movie. He breaks much bigger unrealistic barriers without dropping an eyelid!A-junior loved all the action. However, he wanted to understand certain scenes which made the ten people in the hall laugh. So I started explaining the funny dialogues to him. This resulted in A-junior laughing at the same joke alone AFTER the whole hall was done with their laughing! Some heads turned in our direction. I smiled in the darkness!
A-junior also asked me " Why is Salman khan not taking the stairs in the building to go down?"
He is new to Bollywood movies. Pardon him.
He does not know that Salman Khan movies are not supposed to answer questions. 
You are just supposed to watch and get the "Kick"!!

Now the "kick " from Kochu Keramoti .

Kochu is Taro. Kochu Keramoti is a name I just made up.
Taro is a root vegetable that is eaten in many different cultures around the world. The leaves of the taro plant are also used as a vegetable. Taro root is easily digestible and the leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C.

I used:
  • Kochu(Taro):  500 gms (chopped in cubes)
  • Potato:  1 (cubed)     This is optional. 
  • Black grams:  1 can (boiled)
  • Tomato: 2 large (chopped)
  • Green chilli: 2
  • Mustard seeds (whole) : 1 tbsp
  • Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
  • Ginger: 1 tbsp (grated)
  • Ghee: 1 tbsp
  • cooking oil
  • Salt & turmeric
Ready steady cook:
  • In a pan, heat 2tbsp of cooking oil. Add the whole mustard seeds and the chopped chillies. 
  • Fry for a while (till the mustard splutters) and add the cubed potato and the taro.
  • Saute for 3-4 mins.
  • Add the tomato and the grated ginger. 

  • Add salt and turmeric.
  • Mix well and then add the boiled black grams. Add the coriander powder.
  • Mix well and add 1/2 cup of water.(enough to get the vegetables cooked but not to make a curry. The final looks should be a thick gravy.("makha makha" as we call in Bengali.)
  • Cover and cook in medium heat so that the vegetables get cooked. 
  • Switch off the heat and add the ghee.
  • Serve with hot chapatis or white rice.

Sorry the picture of the fully finished product was not taken. My mistake. The picture above is just before adding the water.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Gitanjali Express and some other Kolkata Highlights

"Gitanjali Express,  train number 12859 from Mumbai to Kolkata will be arriving at platform number 4 shortly.
Jatrigan kripaya dhyan de....Mumbai se kalkatta jaanewali Gitanjanli express......"
It was difficult to hear anything clearly over the cacophony of people talking, tea vendors selling, porters shouting and thousands of other things.
The train slowly rumbled into the platform.
"S5", my father shouted .
We gathered our baggage and walked towards the compartment S5. A few tired faces got down from the train, a few tearful faces said good bye, a few happy smiling faces could be seen through the windows. We boarded the train.
"58, 59, 60, 61"...I heard my father shout from the back trying to maneuver the trolley suitcase in his hand. A young man was sitting at the window seat 60 and showed no signs of moving even after hearing our ticket numbers. Thankfully the seats around him were empty, so we happily settled down without any uncomfortable conversation. A junior jumped to the other window seat and settled down happily.
After years of travel in non-AC compartments, at some point in life, we had shifted to AC travel. Comfortable, hassle-free, vendor free and cool. However, this time, due to some last minute changes, S5 was the only sleeper class non-AC ticket available.
Nostalgia. Food. Fun. Action.
Loved it! ....Am not going back to the cold, dull, lifeless AC compartments anymore!
As the train gathered speed, I looked out of the window and breathed in. A long breath.The "smell" of India...took me back to my childhood travelling days. Ma used to always make puri-sabji to take on the train. I longed for that taste. I remembered my yellow sabji-stained nails, the water bottle, trying to wash my hands through the window, ma saying "shabdhane! hath bar korish na" and so many other things.....
It was also very exciting for the 9-yr old boy. Travelling in a train where windows were open! With grandparents! Enough space to sit, stand, lie down, walk! He loved it!He loved it in more ways than I imagined he would!

My father always loved the train vendors as much as I did. Ma's protests were usually wiped out by father-daughter duo's love for vendor food. Most of the vendors had to stop at our seat side. The tea, the coconut, the samosa, the ......
My trance was broken. One quick glance at my father. Our eyes met for a brief second. 
YES!Thankfully nothing has changed. He still loves the vendors!
The Jhalmuriwala was stopped. Jhalmuri was served.
This taste can beat any Michelin star taste. Crisp muri mixed with the rest of the tasty ingredients, a sprinkling of mustard oil and a coconut slice on the top. Heaven in a packet!

Telepathy! Just when my parched throat wished for some tea with the jhalmuri, a tea vendor walked by. A-junior asked if he could have some tea. Grandparents looked towards me for approval.  As I nodded my head, the little boy's eyes shone with happiness. He took a sip from the steaming cup in his hands and said  "the best tea I have tasted in my whole life"! Something in his genes? The weather? Jhalmuri? the ambience? Whatever it was, I loved the way he enjoyed the journey!

Now for some Kolkata highlights (and low lights):
1. I am not from Kolkata.  So I stare a bit blankly when people discuss College street, or Birla planetorium or Chelo kebab of Peter Cat .....They too, stare at me with disbelief!
"Really? You have never tasted the Chelo Kebab of Peter Cat?"..the shock is so evident in their eyes that I start feeling guilty.This time I was lucky enough to break this reputation and successfully walk out of the Peter Cat restaurant with a full plate of chelo kebab in my stomach. The fact that I shared this experience with two of my closest friends made it even more unique.
What can I say? How can I best describe the juicy kebabs lying on a bed of fragrant white butter rice topped with a poached egg? How can I explain to you the melting of the kebabs inside my mouth tickling the taste buds with a taste beyond imagination? How is this feeling of eyes closing on their own after the first bite different from attaining Nirvana? You were right friends, going to Kolkata and not having the Peter Cat chelo kebabs is no less than committing a crime!

2. Birla Planetorium:  I had neven been to Birla Planetorium before. Again not being from Kolkata, the opportunity did not arise. This time we thought it may be a good thing to do with the son. So we went. The building was impressive.

It was an extremely hot and humid day.  The gates opened and we were welcomed by a gust of refreshing cold air as we walked into the air conditioned building.
Darkness. Cool. Nice.I felt sleepy already. 
The show started.
After 2 mins, A-junior asked me, "mama, is the REAL show going to start after this?"
After 5 mins, same question.
After 10, same question.
I had to tell him..."THIS is the real show".
Jokes apart, I was genuinely disappointed with the show. Other that the star-filled dark sky there was nothing interesting at all. The photos were from 1960's, no updates. I think the photo of Mars was taken by a click3 camera from the Earth! The narration material was just being read out from the pages of a geography book. On top of that the narrator had a very strong accent. He kept on saying "WONLY Saturn has rings". At some point of time the accent became so strong that my son asked me, "which language is it now Mom?".
In today's world of computers and google maps, how can such a show survive? The more important question is WHY should such a show survive? For whom? and for what?
When I compared notes with my father later, I realized that he had seen EXACTLY the same show in 1969!! At that point of time he LOVED the star filled sky. So did I! In 2014!

The list of holiday highlights is quite long....but so much for the time being....

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Phuchka (Golgappa) with the teenagers

I had teenage girls at home for the last few days. Summer vacation, nieces visiting.
With three kids at home I realized,
Girls add colour to the house, Boys bring life.
Girls bring finesse, Boys create noise.
Girls follow routines, Boys question them.
Girls help out, Boys do too.
We need both!!! Both are a blessing!!!
We had a lovely time with our nieces C and A. A-junior had a blast.
The only small "issue" we had was the fact that the teenage cousins slept till late and A-junior being a morning person did not like that at all. It was a "waste of time" according to him. So every 15 mins , he came and asked me,
"Shall I wake them up?"
My answer was, "No, they slept late at night, so let them sleep .."
15 mins.
Question repeat. Same answer from me.
After a while,
A-junior: But WHY do they sleep so late at night?
Me: They talk to friends, whats app, Facebook. etc. They are TEENAGERS, they are allowed to do that.
A-junior: Oh ok!!I will be a teenager soon.
Me: I don't think so....you are nine, ok, almost ten, you still have three years to be a teenager.
A-junior: But I will be "Tien"  in a month. A boy who becomes "Tien" is a "Tien-er". Simple.
 (In Dutch, Ten is "Tien",  Teenager is "Tiener")
He smiled naughtily.
I made some kind of a poor answer how Dutch and English are different languages and how "teen" in English has to have a number infront of it to make it into a teenager....bla bla bla....
A-junior: Can I wake them up?
I loved the way the girls slept till noon, woke up and ate lunch directly. The relaxed summer vacation feeling was so visible. If only their 9-yr old cousin did not bother them so much, they could have easily squeezed in a few hours more. I am sure in a few years my 9-yr old will go into such a routine himself.My childhood was completely deprived of "sleeping late".My mom had very strict rules on that. Vacation or no vacation, I had to wake up before my father left for work. Opening the gate for my father (when he took out his Lambretta scooter from the garage and walked it out of the gate) was a daily duty. My mom packed his lunch box and gave it to me. I sleepily stood outside the gate with it while he tried to kick start his scooter. Once started, he would take the tiffin bag from me, hang it on a small hook on the scooter carefully and drive away. Ma stood by the door till his scooter disappeared around the street corner. Coming back into the house and going back to bed was not offered as an option. 
Schools in Holland do not give homework for summer vacation. Super !!This was not the case when I grew up. Homework was plenty. On top of that Ma insisted on a page handwriting everyday. The first time I (being the indian mother) asked A-junior to do a page handwriting he asked, "write for WHAT? just like that? for NOTHING?"
Kids of this generation do not write, they type. If they DO write it has to be for a very specific purpose, not just write for the sake of writing.
Zamana badal gaya..................

Phuchla (Golgappa)
With the teenagers around, I thought of making something which I loved as a teenager, love it now and will continue loving  for ever.
Phuchka-Golgappa-Gulgulle....whatever you call it. It is a street food which tastes best on the street. No matter how carefully you cook it at home, it is difficult to reproduce that exact taste. My cousins (the boys) used to tease us (the girls) saying that most of the taste came from the dirty hands of the phuchkawala (how he blew his nose and did not wash his hands after that). We shrieked  "eeeuwwww" but still continued eating it whenever we got the chance.
The kids loved it.

I used:

  • Phuchka papad: This is a clear winner. I got these from India. Deep frying them yield beautiful phuchka! You can also make them from scratch...but beware it is lot of hard work.
  • Potato: 1 large boiled
  • Chick peas : 1 cup
  • Fresh coriander: 1 cup (chopped)
  • Green chilli: 2 chopped.
  • Tamarind paste:  acc to taste
  • Chat masala: 2 tbsp

Ready steady cook:

  • Deep fry the phuchka papad. Keep aside.
  • In a bowl , semi-mash the boiled potato.
  • Add the boiled chick peas , 1 tbsp tamarind paste, 1 tbsp chat masala, salt, coriander. Mix and mash together.
  • In a separate bowl add the rest of the tamarind paste, water, chat masala, green chillies and salt to taste. This is called the imli paani(tamarind water)
  • Now is the execution time.
  • Action!
  • Take one phuchka, carefully punch a hole in its center with your thumb, put a spoonful of the potato-pea mash inside it, dip it in the impli pani and put it in your mouth!
  • The first bite as you break the water filled phuchka inside your mouth.....ummm....nothing less than heavenly!!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

"Jhaar" and Bhapa(steamed) Ilish

I have boasted about the mother's patience many times on the blog. Most of those claims were true. 
But things are changing. With time, I have started seeing a decay in that patience level. Almost an exponential one.
Some not-so-good friends call it AGE!
I hate to call it that. The reason is not because I am uncomfortable with THAT number (which keeps on increasing every year no matter which cream you use), but because of the fact that once I say it is age, I do not feel like doing anything about it anymore. It feels like I have blamed "someone else" and the problem is pushed away. Honestly this decline in patience bothers me more than the wrinkles on my eyelids. I know it is inevitable, but maybe I can slow it down? a little bit? Experiment continues...
The good news is, even though the decay of patience is clearly visible, there is no such noticeable change in the  "trying-to-find-humour-in-everyday-situations-in-life" atitude. Not yet!
One of these days when I entered A-juniors room, I suddenly lost total control of my voice. A witch-like-high-pitch voice started screaming from within me. No commas, fullstops, punctuation marks, pause to breathe....nothing, just pure screaming.
This did not happen before. The general trend till date was to start cool...observe the mess first....a few low pitch sentences in a composed manner...a few sentences coming BACK...instigating gradual increase in the decibels....some more lines BACK and FORTH...finally voice reaching a higher pitch and amplitude. I could breathe through all this and I still had control.
THAT is changing. I was INSTANTLY screaming at the top of my voice this time!!I told you it was decaying!
Mom:  (very high decibel)What is this? Is this a room or a garbage bin?
Ami kintu shob phele debo. (I will throw away everything).
A-junior: (not even looking up from his Ipad) I will clean it later.  
(is he using ear plugs or what? How can he not be bothered with this screaming?)
Mom: Ekhuni koro. Noyto amar kache emon jhaar khabe!!
(Do it now or you will get such a thrashing...)
"Jhaar" in my language can mean a lot of things. In this context it meant a pure thrashing/scolding/spanking...something on those lines!
No, (for all those parents who are shocked about the "thrashing"), I never do that. But I do use the term from time to time to let him know that "I CAN if I WANT to".
A-junior made a sulky face and started to clean his room.
I cooled down.
I was still shocked with my own screams.(Really? Age?)
I cooled down even more.
I even gave him a hand. 
I started wondering if he really understood the meaning of "jhaar". The word did have an effect though!
I was also curious to hear from him how he felt about this.
So I asked,
Mom: Do you know what "jhaar" means?
A-junior: [not even looking up from his toys] No , I don't. I  only know JHARKHAND , the name of the state where dadu-dida lives.
JHAAR? JHARKHAND? (Yes, my parents live in Jamshedpur in Jharkhand!)
Poor mother. All this time she thought that the word "Jhaar" made all the difference!!!!

Now let me cook something very tasty to forget the small troubles of life.
Let me be happy that the screaming ended and I can still smile.

 Bhapa Ilish

I love monsoons in India for two reasons.
First, memories of childhood.A rainy day --Unforgettable.
The heavily clouded dark skies...the lightning and the thunder..the "mon kharap kora " feeling....schools declaring rainy day...
getting wet in the rain intentionally "forgetting" the raincoat...making paper boats for the small water streams in the garden....the indoor board games...Baba invariably cheating in Ludo...bhai getting extremely upset about it...the smell of Ma making pakoras and crispy fries(what calories?) from the kitchen...ropes crisscrossing across the rooms with wet clothes hanging on them....fans at top speed trying to dry them....ma grumbling about the "damp" smell....dinner of khichuri and omelette..the constant pitter patter on the window panes ...eyelids closing with nature's lullaby.

Second is Ilish. This fish is the king of all fishes. My love for it is like..like...ummm....like...my love for Amitabh Bachhchan! My all time favourite!! Ilish be it fried, steamed or curried just like AB, be in comedy, romance or  thriller...All Super like!!!just DOES NOT MATTER!
(I hope he is not upset with this comparison...it is meant as a huge compliment!...)
This recipe specially suits my needs here in Holland. The fish is extremely smelly and the husband does not eat fish at all. I know your looks, " A no-fish-eating Bong? Really? Exists?"
If packed and cooked in this manner, there is no fishy smell in the house. That is what I think. I have not checked with him in so much details.

I used :
  • Ilish : 5-6 pieces
  • Mustard paste: 4 heaped tbsp
  • Mustard oil: 4 tbsp
  • Green chillies: 4 (slit)
  • Turmeric, salt
Ready steady cook:
  • Make a paste of mustard seeds with little bit of salt and 2 chillies.
  • Add salt, turmeric, slit chillies and mustard oil to the paste.
  • Tip: At this point check if salt is good. Once you put the raw fishes in, you will not be able to taste it anymore.
  • Nicely coat the fish pieces with this paste.
  • Put it all in a steel tiffin box, close lid tightly and  immerse the box in boiling water in a bigger pan (with lid).
  • Let the water boil for 15-20 mins. The fish gets cooked in the steam.
  • Take it out of water-filled pan, open lid, sprinkle another spoonful of mustard oil on the top and serve with steaming white rice.
  • I had plans to take a photo with the finished product on my plate but honestly could  leave the plate and get the camera. Too hungry. Sorry. 

If you make it for me, my eyes may show signs of moisture.... tears of happiness and gratitude can roll down too....

Friday, 4 July 2014

"THEY DO" and Mango masti

Bicycles are all over Holland, in big numbers. Special cycle roads connect almost every place in Holland. The general motto is, "if you can cycle to some place, do it". No wonder the dutch are such super fit people. They enjoy a very high priority on the roads too. Other vehicles stop now and then to allow them to pass.
The son has started cycling to school now, on his own. The mother was initially bothered by the "on his own" bit but has gradually come to accept this fact. However, she never loses any opportunity to give some sort of advice to the son on this topic. She also "innocently" quizzes the son from time to time to check if he knows all the rules and are following them. Some questions get answered "innocently" while some get fired back with,
The mother does not give up. Mothers- You know how they are!
Then comes the helmet.
She insists that the son wear a helmet to school. This is off course  extremely "uncool" for the 9-yr old, specially when most of his friends don't.
As the son protests against such forced "uncoolness", Mother cleverly (she thinks so) asks,
"What is more important? Your head or being cool?"
Son replies with a wink, "Being cool".
There you go....Mom winks back only to keep the situation under control.
When God made mothers, he emptied jars of patience into each of us. This is when it comes handy. The mother continues with a straight face as if the above conversation did not happen at all. She goes on to explain how, even though the bicycles have priority, since all car drivers are not always kind to let them pass..he has to wait, look and ONLY cross the road when the car comes to a full stop.
Kid nods. (I am sure he is saying, "Ma , I knoooowwww!!" under his breath) .
Mission accomplished.(Thats what the mother thinks!)

One day, as the car slowly moved towards school , stopping frequently at the zebra crossings or the traffic lights or to let a cycle cross the road....
The mother stopped the car to let two children pass on the road on their bicycles. One of them just rode by. The other waved a hand to acknowledge this gesture.
Mom was impressed. She said to the son,
"Did you see that? Such a nice kid! did you see how she waved her hand to thank me? Do you guys learn this at school?"
[You note the innocent cool tone of her voice? All she wanted to know was if her son does that too!!] 
Son: Maaa... this is not Maths or Geography to be taught at school. Kids learn these things from their parents!!
The mother almost  braked to a halt. 
What a happy feeling! A few more seconds of thought on this topic could have brought tears to her eyes!(am exaggerating!)
Jokes apart, WE know our children learn from us..and THEY know that too ?? 
THEY DO! They may say aloud how "uncool" we are, but in reality they do. THEY DO!!
[Parents out there, this emotional discovery sure deserves holding hands and standing together in united celebration of this fact]

Now some really tasty and sweet stuff to continue the "awww..." emotion.

Mango masti

During the mango season in India, we used to eat mangoes everyday during dinner. I remember my mom used to slice each mango into three pieces. Two slices from each side and the central piece had the "anti" or the main seed. The middle piece (anti) consisted of 80% non edible part(the seed) and 20% of the edible mango flesh around. Inspite of knowing this , we (my brother and I) fought over who is going to get that piece. Thankfully, most days more than one mangoes were sliced, so we had enough middle pieces to satisfy both of us. Now when I look back, I feel it was not the shape or the size of that middle piece that made it so special. It was a certain way this piece was eaten, that made it so attractive. First, the peel had to be removed like a ribbon without breaking it. Then the main piece was kept aside and the focus was on trying to scrape off (with the teeth) the last bit of mango flesh clinging to the inside of the peel. Once satisfied with a thin peel devoid of all taste, then the main piece was attacked. Starting from the top, going along the sides to the bottom and back to the top. Depending on the juiciness, there were frequent occasions  when drops of the mango juice would trickle down in between the fingers towards the elbow, which were licked away when Ma was not looking. The end product was an almost-white mango seed devoid of colour, taste and looks.
Some of you , as you read are actually eating a mango with me while some (who ate peeled and cubed mango pieces with a fork) may say.."Ewwww".

This is a recipe tested and proved several times. The recipe is a "copy paste" from Bong Mom's cook book and is such that I can run it "blindfolded" now. This is a "must try" recipe. Do it once and it is going to add a feather to your culinary skills. I can vouch for that. 
Thanks S.

I used:
  • Condensed milk : 1 can
  • Mango Pulp (can) : 2 cans ( double the amount of condensed milk)
  • Eggs: 3 large
  • Some mango slices for decoration, I also use fresh basil leaves.

Ready steady cook:
  • Mix one can of condensed milk with 2 cans (same can) of the mango pulp.
  • Add three eggs.
  • Mix well. (you can use a electric mixer or even proper mixing with a fork is good enough)
  • Pour the mixture into a flat oven proof dish. ( a flat dish helps later for slicing into nice pieces)
  • Preheat the oven ( 220 degC)
  • Let the mix be baked for 40 mins. It should turn light brown at the edges.
  • Cool, decorate and serve.
  • Your guests will definitely ask for a second helping.....