Posted on June 29, 2016
Summer evening is falling. A sapphire night is about to flare into fullness. An amber full moon is rising across the azure sky. The chirping and tweeting of birds are fading away. The rhythm of the clean, crisp evening breeze is meditative, an unhurried one. Euphoria of an evening meal is about to waltz in Bengali homes and hearts with a simple yet full of charm, delightfully spiced, luscious, velvet-textured dessert: Carrot Halwa.
Carrot Halwa is Bengalis’ usual way to whip up delight and a sense of luxury. A homage to purity, to pure sweets ripe with romanticism and infused with love.
- 6 medium tender juicy carrots
- 3 cups full fat milk (whole milk)
- 10 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 6 tbsp sugar or as required
- ⅓ tsp cardamom powder
- handful of golden raisins (optional)
- 20-25 toasted crushed nuts. e.g cashews, almonds, peanuts, pistachios etc (optional)
- Rinse, peel the carrots. Cut them in small chunks.
- In a non-stick pan/pot combine milk and carrots. Simmer on medium heat . Keep on stirring in between.
- Carrot chunks will cook in the milk and the milk will start to reduce and evaporate.
- With a masher or wooden spoon mash the boiled chunks well.
- Now add ghee, sugar and powdered cardamom to the mixture. Stir well and continue to simmer and cook on a low flame till all the milk is evaporated and the Halwa looks/feels sticky, smooth, silky.
- Towards the end, add the nuts and raisins.
- Serve it hot, warm or cold. Refrigerate.
- Before adding nuts, raisins etc, if you wish, you can give the Halwa various shapes by using molds/cookie cutters.
Carrot Halwas are as soft and snowy as the fondest dreams; an elixir, a cure for all ailment, like an answer to prayers. They are compelling in their plainness; fancy words don’t come into play.
Posted on May 23, 2016
When whispering rainy days spill beauty like crystal confetti, rural people of beautiful Bangladesh dance tippy-toes between raindrops. To catch fish from seven hundred shimmering, sparkling, rigorous rivers. To pan-fry glistening, freshly caught fish; tender, gently spiced, gorgeously rich timeless taste.
They worship a happy dish like fried fish in their cold, blue, lonely, chilly days. Their damsels make this deliriously euphoric soul-food while dancing barefoot in the moonlit nights.
Your choice of fish fillets/cutlets: 4 pieces. I used a small size whole Pomfret.
Fresh or dried herbs: a handful. I used Cilantro & Parsley
Salt + crushed Pepper to taste
Lemon juice. 1 tbsp
Red chili flakes. 1 pinch (optional)
Vegetable/soybean oil for frying
Make the pieces of the fish individual serving size. Wash gently and pat dry.
Marinate fish with all the ingredients for 15 minutes.
Fry each side on medium high heat for 4 minutes until they look golden brown.
Serve with steamed rice or as is with fresh garden salad.
Rural Bengalis wear color, beauty and happiness: smooth black skin, Ruby Red Hibiscus tucked in the hair. Saffron shirts. Peacock Blue sarees. White hearts. They do not spend their income on war and guns. Only harvesting, hunting and survival tactics they practice which they inherited from their ancestors. They labor hard for peace and happy dishes. They are beautiful, mythical; straight out of a novel.
Posted on February 15, 2016
When outside burdened world gets too much to take, to take a break, may your attacks withstood, storms endured knocked-off, pale, weary, fragile self celebrate the joy your heart yearns for; respond to the holiest, purest call what your soul has longs for, quenches the thirst that your throat has been carrying around for years:
Strawberry Lemonade; luxurious with clean, crisp, clear and bright flavors.
- 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 liter sparkling water. Regular water would do too
- Sugar/honey to your taste
- Ice cubes
- Thinly sliced lemon/lime & Sliced fresh strawberries (optional)
In a blender combine first four ingredients and blend until smooth. Strain and transfer to a pitcher.
Add lemon slices in pitcher. Chill for 4 to 24 hours or until very cold. Give the flavors some time to relax into each other.
Serve over ice. If desired, garnish with strawberry slices.
May this drink see, hear, touch and feel the unchained melody coming deep down from your soul. May this drink paint your senses all over with joyful ruby red hue.
Posted on January 24, 2016
Winter evening shadows are creeping and deepening around your solitary soul. But baking a cake takes no time to unfold your soul.
This quietly beautiful cake, maintains a relaxed warmth whilst keeping in it satisfyingly minimalist ingredients. It makes an unbeatable visual impression ♥
The cake is so fluffy, improbably airy that it looks like it’s ready to levitate.
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degree for metal/glass pans. 325 degree for dark/coated pans.
Grease sides and bottoms of the pan using softened unsalted butter.
Blend above ingredients at low-speed first and then at medium speed for 2 minutes using an electric hand-mixer.
Pour batter in the pan and bake for about 40 minutes (more or less).
Cake is done when it fluffs-up, shows a few cracks in the center of the surface and when inserted in the center a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to allow the cake to cool completely. Remove cake from pan.
Sprinkle sweet and glossy flurries of powdered sugar.
This cake, like a Nightingale, would sit in darkness and sing to cheer your solitude with sweet sounds. Just one bite and suddenly moonbeams will splash and spill wildly in the fog; from the deepest wells of silence you’ll hear its bubble of sound,”Stay Warm” ♥
Posted on December 24, 2015
The rainbow will crush,crumble and sink in the quicksand. The amber full moon will be buried in deep darkness. The Eagles and Seagulls will be sun-struck and die high up in the sky. Scarlet-tailed Nightingales and Pelicans will stop clucking, paddling and flapping their wings in the pink Lotus lagoon. The wind will no longer shake the pink-petal Cherry blossoms like the wind chimes. The tower of stone that you built with your flesh and bone for stargazing will collapse.
– Because they will bombard, blow-up, wipe-out, gun-down, tear-apart, shoot, slay, search & destroy every happiness and heritage that we’ve inherited.
But today is not that day. Today we’re alive and we’ll thank God for one more sunrise. Today we will celebrate life with couple of light-bright-beautiful-healthful snacks.
Curried Chickpeas: It’s rustic, loosely knit yet fresh, balanced and full of vibrant flavors.
Fry one small onion till translucent, to that add handful of canned chickpeas along with a pinch of salt-pepper and turmeric. Fry for five minutes on medium high-heat. Savor with puffed rice or garden salad as an evening snack or brunch. You’ll feel light like a Hummingbird … like you can carry the entire sky on your one wing.
Crispy, tender vegetable noodle salad: With this noodle salad, your senses will know how lovely it is to witness the light summer wind stirred amidst the rich odor of Roses. The lighter the spices, the merrier, ethereal the Noodle gets which shows grace, finesse and precision along with savory and sweet flavors.
1 small Zucchini or 1 small cucumber
1 small yellow squash
1 small carrot
1 small red onion. Thinly sliced.
2 tbsp fresh Lemon juice
½ tsp grated fresh Ginger
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Your choice of herbs
1/2 pound thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta noodle
Boil noodle according to package instruction. While it’s boiling, prepare the veggies.
With a shredder or mandolin or spiralizer tool, cut first three ingredients.
In a bowl combine noodle, veggies and spices.
Note: You’re welcome to add more veggies like (boiled/blanched) cut-up Tomatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, Broccoli, Bell Peppers etc.
Instead of ground/crushed black pepper, try chopped fresh green chilies for more aroma, heat and warmth.
Soon the Army will parade with Rose-bouquets in their hands, not guns. Tanks, drones, rocket-launchers will cross boundaries and brush-fire loads of chocolates in our backyards. – a Utopian dream, I know. But how long can you live with the true and terrible fear of getting killed? How many times do we need to pull ourselves from life? – Let the fear go. Let it snow.
Cheers to a fear-free 2016. Cheers to Peace.
Posted on October 26, 2015
Your garden is the place where you find yourself when you need to lose yourself.
Growing peace-prosperity-serenity-tranquility and beauty in your garden will reach you towards God.
There’s this beautiful garden sprouted afresh on the scorching sands … on the burnt, blackened land of my backyard.
That garden is also a lush harbor of flowers, bees, birds, butterflies.
Gardening is an ancient act of art and independence indeed. And cooking is the most beautiful act of survival. Cooking a simple curry that tastes like the night sky dressed in midnight pearls and stars is like creating a majestic masterpiece.
A taste of sweetness mixed with heat, dirt, earth….
6 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion. Finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger. Grated
1 medium tomato. Chopped
4-5 green chilies/peppers
Salt to taste
In a heated pan, pour oil and sauté onions and ginger in medium heat for 5 minutes. Add eggs, tomato chunks and salt. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle whole peppers and chopped herbs. Put the lid back on. Turn off the stove. Let the caramelized onions waltz with the gentle, humble heat of the peppers and earthiness of the ginger. Serve with rice/roti.
Your eyes will admire the amber glow of the curry. Your ears will listen happily the subtle sizzling wind chime-like sound while it’s cooking. Your hypnotized heart will stretch skyward after savoring it.
Posted on August 23, 2015
Self Reminder 1:
In those pitch-black eclipse nights, darkness will fold your soul like a thick-as-a-brick, deep, dense, thorny blanket. Your misguided feet will step into the quicksands in some sandstormy nights. You will be lost in the saddest city lane. Tears will fall from your sand-soaked eyes like falling piercing rain droplets. But you must journey on. And pray to the ONE who rules the thunder. Soon you will see the star-studded sky and twinkling twilight. Pray hard.
Self Reminder 2:
Eat simple, clean and fresh for food in your plate has a marvelous, magical story to tell, a legacy to leave.
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 whole Lemon/Lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (you may use Thyme, Parsley or your choice of herbs instead)
Good pinch of salt
½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon tomato paste/sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Vegetable oil will work just fine
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into cubes
3 Capsicum aka Bell Peppers -red, yellow, green- seeded, cut into pieces (optional)
1 Red onion, cut into cubes
3-4 wooden skewers ( soaked in water for a while to prevent from burning while grilling)
Mix first seven ingredients in a bowl.
Rub the paste on chicken cubes and let them marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and allow the meat to come to room temperature; it will take about 15 minutes.
Thread the chicken and veggies onto wooden skewers, then cook on a griddle/grill pan for 7-8 minutes each side or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and golden brown. Turn the kebabs frequently and brush the marinade from time to time until evenly cooked.
Self Reminder 3:
If you have a candle, let others light off theirs from yours. Your light won’t glow any dimmer. Then like Fireflies in the night, twinkling love surrounds you.