December 4, 2018

Book review : Saudade by Shreen Vaid


“ There’s a word that we Brazilians love to use to convey raw emotions, feelings such as those that resonate in the depths of my being right now – Saudade, english doesn’t actually have a correct interpretation of it. And before anyone misinterprets it as a simple ‘ miss you’, let me tell you that it’s much more than that. It is a bitter-sweet feeling – bitter for missing someone and sweet for the happiness and gratitude for having experienced their love. It describes your experience of Sahir’s absence in every moment of your life since his demise. Saudade is a recognition of all the emotions he brought out in you, calling you to live by his example. The closet explanation in English is perhaps ‘ the love that remains. ‘ “
                                                                                         Saudade By Shreen Vaid (Page : 141)

The novel Saudade is a portrayal of an intense feeling of loss and then how the protagonists win over the purgatory feeling to celebrate the bond of love. It is a story of intensified love and bonding between the siblings and the exultation of true friendship. The book starts with a strong emotional upheaval of Samarah who is trying to keep a balance between the upbringing of an almost 4 years old Dhiraj and her afflictive process of coping with her sorrow. Saudade is a gripping story that slowly unfolds the relationships in-between the characters. The relationship between Samarah, Ahil, Sahir and Dhiraj opens up with synchronisation. Every page will keep you baffled with the sentimental ups and downs that might tear one’s heart with a deep hollow of melancholy.  The main harmony of the book is the suspense to know more about the characters, the relationship they share with each other and the facts which lead to endless speculations. It actually works as a wonder to engage the readers to flip through the pages. Love, hate, anger can all build up from a feeling of loss, can make people shattered from the every corner of life and can push to an edge from where one can’t find out a way to return back. Unless one day, an angel appears in a disguise of a friend from the pages of past memory and works as a catalyst to show the true faces and a streak of hope that makes one to regain the strength to live and to live for others. The real hero of the novel is actually Thiago Dantas who is a very well balanced, sensitive, matured person who knows how to tackle a worst situation. He is the one who has changed the meandering way of the story to an enlightened way. Someone might not like the too much emotionally shattered character of Samarah the protagonist or the agony of Ahil that turned him into a heartless giant. But to be more in life this actually happens and people wait for miracles to step back to the normal life that they urge for ages.

Shreen Vaid’s valiant writing skill will touch the heart of the readers. The novel is actually a portrayal of the psychological melancholy with its negative and positive sides. It is a story about loss and gain. It is a story of dispersing and then uniting again. Strong and a well gripped writing skill of the writer made it a successful debut novel.

November 20, 2018

Book Review : Ambling Indian diaries by Aina Rao



Two main things attract book lovers before delving deep in a book. The first impression catches one's eyes is the cover and the other is the blurb. The “Ambling Indian Diaries” on the first go will give an impressive sight and insight after looking at the cover and reading the blurb as well. The cover itself tells the story or rather the elements that worked as the fundamental growth to weave the story. The book is a phenomenally consideration of modern India that is satirically projected through the experiences of an ‘aam aurat’ with  the tinge of humour and wit. 

The book doesn’t have a proper story that starts with this or end with that, rather it is a verbally picturesque scenario that India is recently more vocal and rich with the facts and the factuals. The book started with a hue of hilarious political glimpse through an interview between the protagonist Aina, who is a reporter in Chunga Times and Chand TV and the Railway Spokesperson Mr. Chugga. The interview is on the launch of Wedding on Wheels (WOWs). The interview session will sheerly give one a bout of laughter and one can so well visualise the perspective that the author ironically  portrayed. Very wittily the author picked up the names, the terms and the incidents that added the sarcastic components well blended. Bollywood plays a very dominating role in the present prospective India. And Aina Rao skilfully depicted the pomp and glory of the society and none the less how ‘Shila ki Jawani’  or ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ actually regulate the lane culture. The book takes a lift more from the views of  an ‘Aam Aurat who ambles the nook and corner of India. While reading the book I felt like reading a news paper that actually covers everything but it has the sense of humour, sarcasm, satire and the irony that will lead you to find out the dual meanings that the parts of the book carry. What interested me more is how well the author picked up the most common topics - ‘can’t leave without’ glares that actually building up the present India. A very minute observation and the precision make the book more versatile.

The blurb speaks: “ This unusually take on India offers a never-seen-before view of the country through the eyes of the Ambling Indian – a new generation aam aurat. This delicious mix of laughter, spice and nuggets of reflection to savour, delights the mind. We meet people just like us and experience hilarious happenings through just like us and experience hilarious happenings through the 31 stories woven together with one common thread – India’s journey.” These few lines narrate and  give one the vivid glimpse what the book is all about. But before reading the book one has to be well versed about India. Writing skill of the author will surely won the heart of the readers. To be more precise the author has painstakingly achieved a daunting task in portraying the true faces of present India by satirically leaving few inherent notes to discover.





October 27, 2016

Besan ka Ladoo

Hello All.. Wish you Happy Dipabali. I am blogging after a long time on this space. Hope you all have celebrated grandly Durga Puja this year. The year is all most coming to an end and the festivals for this year are also almost over. This year past in a wink and we are ready to welcome another year. This year I experimented a lot with Indian sweets. For the first time, I made those at home. I have always avoided making sweets at home after coming to India. Because of the availability of so many varieties of delectable sweets around. But now I am becoming more incline to provide mostly homemade foods to my family. Today will share the recipe of Basan ka Ladoo. It came out so tasty which I actually didn't expect. I have adapted the recipe from Amrita's Blog Sweet 'n' Savoury
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup Besan/gram flour
1/2 cup Powdered sugar 
3 tbsp melted Ghee (or a little more if the mixture does not bind)
2 pinches Elaichi/cardamom powder

Method:
1. Take a Kadai and dry roast the besan on low heat till the raw smell goes away. It will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Continuously stir it otherwise it will get burnt.
2. Add melted ghee little by little and keep on stirring. Keep a check that it should not turn into a liquid. So when you see that it has turned into a dough kind of consistency then stop adding ghee. Even if you feel more ghee needed then add. Remember to add always melted ghee. (Please see Note))
3.  Keep stirring and cooking on low heat till you see the mixture binding well and leaving ghee. 
3. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and cardamom powder and mix well.
4. When it is almost cool shape them in round balls and place them in an individual wrapper or place them on a greased plate. 
5. Decorated them as per your creativity and enjoy.
Notes:
After adding ghee if you feel the mixture turned into a semi-liquid mixture, don't worry add more besan little by little to come to the right texture. I have done the same mistake first time. But it came out very tasty.
Happy Diwali


October 7, 2016

Durga Puja never ends without a sweet treat

After shifting over to Kolkata, I have seen a different kind of excitement steaming in the heart of Kolkatans. But for me, though being a Bengali, the craze of Durga Puja was only to visit Mumbai during my student life, as my father used to work there. My sister and I would cross the dates on the calendar and wished to God everyday that the travel date should come in a wink. There was only one excitement - to meet our father, not of the new dresses to buy. And Durga Puja vacation means not only visiting Mumbai but to visit some other places too, as every year our father would plan a surprise trip for us to visit some tourist spots. If we were not travelling anywhere out of Mumbai, and then we would be seen dancing till late night to celebrate Navaratri with the Garva and Dandiya. After moving to USA, Durga Puja turned in to an one/ two days affair. And within this short span of time I had witnessed all the ritual to be done to the T and we, all the Bengalis from that particular place, would enjoy Durga Puja to the brim.  I found a different enthralling experience when we shifted our base to Kolkata. The first thing that came to my notice is buying new clothes long before two to three months from Durga Puja. The detail plan to wear which dress on which day with which ornaments, are something pretty exciting to me. Then the enormous herculean task of making creative Pandals are another side of Durga Puja that attracted me more. 

I often felt awestruck during the Pandal hopping watching and witnessing where the creative minds have reached and how talented people can be. The artisan, the skilled crafts are beyond any description till one witnesses those by his/her own eyes. But any festival can’t be ended without Food and mainly when it is a Bengali Festival the spread has to be an elaborate and royal one. Now a day one can get to see most of the restaurants are offering a flare of traditional Bengali spread during the festive season. Just forget the kitchen and the dining table of your sweet home and enjoy the gluttonous experience of indulging some delectable foods around.

Apart from the sweets what we mostly gorge on the fancy flavorsome Ice creams. Different companies offer different kind of ice creams with different flavours. Bengalis are mainly introduced as fish eaters and mishti lovers, and few ingredients are there that hold the pride of Bengal. One such thing is Nolen Gur. Say it used in sweet or savoury dishes, Nolen Gur has its own character. Nolen gur is a type of jaggery or palm sugar that features in several traditional Bengali desserts. The ice cream, therefore is authentically sweet.  Recently Mother Dairy -a milk and dairy products major, launched the Nolen Gur flavoured ice cream, one of the most loved eastern region speciality. This regional delicacy from the eastern region has been made available in the packaged branded format for the first time, offering consistent taste and flavour as loved by the consumers. The newly launched variant is available in both take home (tubs) and single serve (cups) pack sizes. 




It is easily available in the market in pack sizes of 750ml & 90ml and priced at Rs 150/- & Rs 20/- respectively. 

(This post is part of a campaign)

May 19, 2016

Taj Gateway bringing back the Rajbarir Khawa Dawa

What will be your reaction when you get to taste the season's first Ilish wrapped in banana leaf, steamed with milk, yogurt and mustard that is melting in your mouth or biting on a crispy Fish roll or Macher Kachuri with sada aloo hing morich, or a slow cooked melting in mouth mutton curry that brings back the essence of traditional Bengali cooking when the Mutton got to cook for hours on the faded flame of a Mud made stove!! It is nothing but a delectable journey where stories from the past enchant the atmosphere and unfold the sumptuous spread. Yes, you can experience the essence of  Raj Barir Khawa Dawa through the traditional Bengali dishes curated by Executive Chef Asish Kumar Roy of The Gateway Hotel (Taj). How three hours spent in a wink we (KFBians) hardly realized. Chef Asish patiently explained each and every dish how/why he curated, created and the story behind it. The dishes mostly in the menu are the dishes which are influenced by the foreign invaders and given the authentic Bengali dishes a twist. Attaching below more detail about the event.
"The Rajas or Nawabs were probably the original connoisseurs to wield major influence on Bengali society as well as their food. With their luxurious lifestyles, the rajas took immense interest not only in the foods they ate but also in the way food was prepared. Influenced by famous Rajbaris of West Bengal and in keeping with their culinary traditions, The Gateway Hotel, Kolkata, is set to celebrate “Raj Barir Khawa Dawa” from May 21st onwards.
Historical trends have always influenced food. The influence of Rajbaris at the Raj Barir Khawa Dawa is evident from the different delicacies planned for the festival. The “Gumo-aanch er mangsho” or  meat cooked in slow fire by putting the dying charcoals on top, originated from Murshidabad, and is a classic example of food influenced by the “Dum Cooking”. Bardhaman’s Rajbari has influenced the “Lyangcha”, which is a deep fried sweetmeat dipped in sugar syrup.
The impact of the two centuries of British Rule (1757–1947) over Bengali cuisine can never be overstated. Sovabazar Rajbari, a regular place for evening hang-outs of the British Officials back then, was famous for its “Fish Roll” that had a western touch to it. The Fish Roll features prominently in the Raj Barir Khawa Dawa fest. As do to the Safed Ilish and Lal-Mangsher Pulao from the Cooch-Bihar Rajbari that has Rajasthan leanings.
The Gateway Hotel, Kolkata, will take you back in time as you savour these and other Rajbari delicacies from times gone by. The Raj Barir Khawa Dawa culinary extravaganza will be hosted at the Buzz for Lunch (12:30PM-3:30PM) and Dinner (7:30PM-11:30PM) from May 21, 2016onwards."
Pocket Pinch:
The Dishes will be served as a set menu:
Nonveg: 650/- (INR) to 850/- (INR)
Veg: 550/- (INR) to 750/- (INR)
Fish Roll
Macher Kachuri with sada aloo hing morich

Begun Basanti

Potoler Dorma

Dudh Ilish

Lal Mangsher Polao

Gumo aanch er mangsho

Aam Sandesh
Thank You Kolkata Food Blogger  for the invitation.

May 3, 2016

Narkol Posto Rui (Rohu fish with coconut and poppyseeds)

Quick post with a quick recipe. I love coconut so as anything out of Posto/poppy seeds. I was never a kind of fish lover. But as you grow old your taste buds change too. Now I love eating fish more than any-other non veg items at the same time love trying different kind of fish recipes. This one I made in a hurry but it really came out well. Do try it and let me know how much you liked it.
Ingredients:
Rohu Fish blocks - 5pcs
Poppy Seed - 2 tblsn
Coconut (Scrapped/grated) - 1 cup
Potato - 1 small cut in cubes (optional)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tspn
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tspn + 1/4 tspn
Salt & Sugar as per taste
Green Chillies - 2- 3
Mustard oil - To fry the fish
Method:
1. Rub 1/2 tspn turmeric and salt to the fish blocks.
2.  Paste the poppy seed and coconut in a smooth paste. You can green chilli to the paste too to enhance the taste more.
3. Heat oil in a Kadai. Fry the fish till it turns light brown. 
4. After taking off all the fish from the kadai, make sure there is only 3/4 tbspn oil is remaining. If you have more in the Kadai then take out the excess oil. If adding potot then you can fry the potota with that excess oil.
5. Add mustard seed in the remaining oil. then the potatoes if adding. fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the poppyeed paste. Add the remianing 1/4 tspn turmeric powder. Stir well for a while (2-3 minutes). Add water (1 cup - See notes). Bring in to boil then add the fish. Add salt and sugar as per taste. Once the pototo is boiled, take it off the gas. Add green chilies and serve with hot rice.
Notes:
1. If you are not adding potato then add 1/2 cup or more water just for cooking the fish and the gravy consistency you want. 
2. You can add curry leaves and coriendar leaves too to enhance the taste more.


April 13, 2016

Mumble's Lab - The 1st Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Parlour in Kolkata

“The odd coloured egg was shaking uncontrollably. Suddenly it cracked open and out came a cute baby penguin- Mumble! His parents fed him chocolates, oranges & strawberries mixed in milk. He tried all kinds of milk based items and at last stumbled upon ICE-CREAM. Ice Cream had found a permanent spot in his heart ever since.” - Mumble's Lab
I have only seen the usage of liquid nitrogen on screen when it comes to food. For that, I must thank the Master Chef series on television. When I first got an invitation to visit this place where they make ice cream with liquid nitrogen I was pretty excited. They assured that I am going to love every bite of the ice cream that has no cream, no egg. Ahem, No Egg, No Cream!! I puckered my brows for a while with a thought how it would taste? Should I visit? But the food blogger inside me doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to experience a different world of ice cream making. So here I am. 
Mumble’s Lab is the 1st Ice cream Parlour in Kolkata that is offering liquid nitrogen ice cream. The ambiance is that of a lab with various equipment and Pipes. There are flavours in the form of equations on the walls Inspired by the periodic table. Most of all there is a strong branding of their penguin mascot – Mumble and his story about the origin of Liquid Nitrogen ice cream (LN2). I met the owner Devina Parakh after reaching there and had a quite interesting chat over few flavours of Ice cream. Devina said: “Five years ago, we had our first go at a nitrogen ice cream parlour in London. Ever since we’ve been working on bringing this innovative culinary from back home”. A glimpse of our conversation:
Devina Parakh - the owner
Why the name mumble's lab?

We wanted to give our brand a mascot. We had three options - polar bear, reindeer and penguin, the three animals you generally associate with snow. We figured, a penguin would be cute and we could add colour to the penguin. We named it mumble - after the character mumble from Happy Feet so that it would be easier for people to associate with our mascot. 

What are the Signature flavours that Mumble’s Lab is proud of? 

Ginger honey basil, Orange caramel, Holi special – Thandai, Bournvita et al

Which flavour customers are enjoying?

Apart from our signature flavours the customers are in love with the Nutella with red Velvet / Hazelnut topping. In last two months ,we have sold over thousand scoops of Nutella. Customers are in love with the texture and freshness of the ice cream. We are providing a platform to try their own flavours (our caption - your ice your way) which have been highly appreciated. 
 
Holi special – Thandai. I tried this one and loved it.
What is your Future planning?

We are planning to open new outlets in different parts of the city. We are also moving into catering events and parties. We are also trying to incorporate liquid nitrogen in desserts. We are currently also trying to incorporate milkshakes in our menu. 

Do you run offers/discounts for the Customers?

We keep running offers every now and then. As of now, if a customer checks in on Facebook or likes our page on Instagram we are giving them a free topping. 
 
The signature orange caramel won my heart
Anything you would like to share the people of Kolkata?

Many customers come to Mumble's thinking we are using dry ice and not liquid nitrogen. Most people are not aware of what LN2 is. Liquid nitrogen maintains a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius which is way lower than the coldest place on earth. It is only used to freeze the mixture instantly. The ice cream in itself does not have any liquid nitrogen since it all evaporates. LN2 is tasteless, odourless and colourless. It does not enhance or change the taste of the ice cream in any way. It is not harmful to consume liquid nitrogen ice creams. The liquid nitrogen which we are using is food graded. Also, many customers come to us asking us for fresh fruits in the ice cream. We would like to elaborate on this. Since every scoop is made to order and we cannot guarantee the taste of fresh fruits, hence we are not using fresh fruits in the ice cream. If we did, it would lead to a lot of inconsistency. The USP of our ice creams is:

- Fresh since every scoop is made to Order 
- No cream - we do not use any cream in our ice creams 
- No preservatives - we do not use any preservatives, hence, the ice creams do not have a very long shelf life.
- 100% vegetarian - most people assume that ice cream has egg. Our ice creams do not have any egg. 
- We do not add sugar in most of our ice creams 
- Customers can customise the ice cream the way they like. For instance - In ginger honey basil - if you want it less sweet, and more ginger. While placing the order the customer can request for the same and the ice cream can be customised accordingly. 
In the coming months, we will promote our tagline "your ice your way" where customers can get their ingredients and we can make the ice cream for them. We cannot guarantee the taste, but it would be the first of its kind giving the customers an avenue to try what they like. Also, we are planning to host a recipe competition in the coming month. Wherein, customers can bring their ingredients and try their desired flavours. If they are convinced with the taste, they can leave us the recipe. At the end of the competition, we will work on the flavours according to the recipe provided by the participants with our chef. The winners of the competition will have their recipes on our menu along with their names. And we would be awarding them with a prize. 

Instead of the traditional ice cream parlours which serve a variety of flavours, we decided to start with 9 flavours. We are and would be incorporating new flavours every now and then, giving the customers a reason to come back again and again to try the new exciting flavours or to even stick to their personal favourites. 

Is there any option to take away?

We have not started it yet. We are working on it. So we guess pretty soon we can offer the takeaway option to the customers.

My verdict:
If I am not satisfied enough then I never recommend to my readers to visit so and so eateries. I highly recommend Mumble's Lab. Mainly where you are getting an opportunity to enjoy almost calorie-free ice cream, a guilt-free indulgence. The prices of the ice creams are also very reasonable varies from 120 (INR) to 280 (INR). So go and visit and then please give me your feedback if you liked it or not.

(Disclaimer: I was invited by Thinkquisitive as a guest)

Shahi Garam Masala Chicken

Another new year stepped in. Wish you all good luck and happiness. All of you stay hearty and healthy. Eat well and a balanced diet. Drink gallons of water and juice to avoid dehydration from this scorching heat. This year summer is proving to be the hottest in regard to the past years. Any way, we never fail to celebrate any occassion that comes to our way whether it is too hot, or too cold. On this auspicious occasion of Bengali New year I wish you all Shubho Nababarsho. Hope this year will be a prosperous year for all of you. Enjoy the dish.
Ingredients:
Boneless Chicken - 200gm
Onion - 1 medium size
Ginger & Garlic paste - 1 tspn
Tomato - 1 small
Yogurt - 1 tspn
Turmeric Powder - 1/ tspn
Cumin Powder- 1/2 tspn
Coriander Powder - 1/2 tspn
Red chili powder - 1/4 tspn (More or less)
 Whole Shahi garam masala - (Cinnamon - 1 small stick, Black pepper - 1-2, All Spice 1-2, Mace, Green Cardamom 1, Black Cardamom seeds - 2-3, Clove - 1-2, Bay leaves - 1 )
Shahi Garam Masala Powder - 1/4 tspn
Ghee - 1 tspn
Oil - 1 tspn
Salt & Sugar as per taste.

Method:
1. Cut the boneless chicken into thin slices.Mix all the powdered spices and salt except the shahi garam masala with yogurt and make a smooth paste.  Marinate the chicken for a while.
2. Chop the onion and tomato separately.
3. Heat oil in a pan. Then add ghee. Add the whole garam masala. Once they splutter add the chopped onion. Saute till they turn semi brown.
4. Add the ginger garlic paste. Saute till turns brown. Add the Tomato. 
5. Once the tomato is cooked well and starts to loose oil add the chicken. Keep on cooking on medium flame till the chicken turns soft and tender.
6. Add the shahi garam masala and sugar (If needed). Blend nicely with the chicken. Once it is dry and well cooked, Take it off the stove and serve with rice or roti.
Note:
You can add potato if you want. 
For the veg version, the recipe works well with paneer and mixed vegetables.
**Shubho Nababarsho**