Yellow Split Peas Halwa/Fudge

Making this rich, velvety, amber hued Halwa/Fudge will require your utmost patience. It will ask you to stir until your hands get numb. But the end result is worth the pain. If you’ve tried just one bite, the pain will hide, deep inside. And the sweet aftertaste will leave you somewhere, swinging in the spring air.

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বুটের ডালের হালুয়া. Split Yellow Peas Halwa. Sweeeeeet :)

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Ingredients:

Split yellow lentil/peas 2 cups ( Available in Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Shrilankan groceries)
Whole milk or full cream milk 4 cup
Bay leaves 2 pieces
Cinnamon 1 stick
Sugar 1 cup
Ghee 1 cup and some more for frying ( Available in Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani groceries)
Ground cardamom 2 generous pinches

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Method:

* Wash lentils until water runs clean. Soak for a few hours.
* Boil lentil with milk. liquid will evaporate leaving the lentils soft and moist.
*Blend lentil in a blender or food processor. If it feels too tight, keep on adding milk little by little as you go.
* In a large, wide nonstick pan, on medium-low heat, add Ghee, bay leaves and cinnamon. In a minute ghee will smell fantastic. Now add lentil paste and sugar.
*Keep stirring continuously for about 45 minutes to an hour. Add 1 tbsp Ghee when you reach half time.  In the end, the mixture will look and feel silky, smooth. It will leave the sides of the pan.

*Sprinkle ground cardamom now. Discard bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
*Spread the Halwa in a flat, greased platter. Garnish with toasted chopped nuts, raisins if you want.
* You may use a cookie cutter to give the Halwa various shapes and sizes while its still warm.
* Can be refrigerated for 10 days.

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Yellow Split Pea Halwa...বুটের হালুয়া

For Her

সন্দেশ। Ricotta Fudge

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Now it’s your turn to let her sleep under your wings and warmth for she turned your dark, doomed days into an unthreatened, unchained kaleidoscopic rainbow.
Now it’s your turn to make her feel loved, cared, cured, appreciated for she gave you  wings and made you fly and lifted you all the way up to the sky.
Now it’s your turn,  with your soul uncovered, face unmasked to tell her, “Thank You”.

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Some soft and snowy Ricotta Fudge to the kindest and most BEAUTIFUL person ever: my Mom and your Mom.

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Ingredients:

  1. Home made fresh and moist Ricotta cheese. Also known as Paneer/chhana – 1 cup
  2. Powdered sugar 1/3 cup
  3. Ghee (clarified butter) – 2 tbsp
  4. Cardamom powder – couple of pinch
  5. Chopped nuts (optional) – A handful

Method:

1. Knead cheese for 5 minutes to make it nice and loose. Add powdered sugar and cardamom powder. Knead for 2 more minutes to mix the flavors.
2. In a nonstick pan, over  low heat, cook the cheese and ghee for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat, knead slightly for a minute when it cools down a bit. Make desired shapes using greasy molds while the mixture is slightly warm. Or simply make small balls and flatten them lightly.  Stick chopped nuts onto the sweets, if you wish. Serve as is or cold.

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Ricotta Fudge. Shondesh. Bangladeshi sweets.

 

 

Fish Stew

With her grief, loss, failure, resentment, disappointment, defeat, death, imperfection, heartache, scars and empty cups from the previous year,  Bangladesh greets the first day of Bengali year (14th April) with festivity and day long feasts.

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Devastating floods, lurking droughts, looming tidal bores, famine, oddities, hidden fears, riots, leaders pocketing relief money… still oblivion people of this emerald island would forgive the sacrilegious rulers every year and cook plethora of ancient, mythical, majestic as well as humble, peasant-like dishes on this auspicious day.

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ইলিশ fish Korma: deeply, essentially Bangladeshi ....

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Rural Bengalis do not belong to a world full of urban sleepwalkers where nobody was actually awake; a world full of churning hatred, human heart like verbal firing squad, bitter suspicions; a world busy with mocking, angry talk, spreading vicious debate, heated conversations. They do not spend their income on war and guns. Only hunting and survival tactics they practice which they Inherited from their ancestors.

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A small scoop of rice and couple of those tiny little fried fish (may be) ... that is what the poor peasants in Bangladesh live on. Everyday.

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Bengali Style Fish Stew:

The fish caught from sweet water lake shores or thunderous tumult oceans or rigorous rivers, would mesmerize your senses with its own aroma. And the spices would gently waltz in the amber broth. Spices must not shackle the fish.

Ingredients:

2 pounds fish fillets/cutlets. Bite sized pieces. ( I cooked Hilsa slices)

2 tbsp Mustard oil

1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

2 cups Water

Green Chillies/Peppers 4-5 pcs

Salt to taste

 

Method:

In a big enough pot, lightly fry pat-dried fish chunks for a couple of minutes in hot oil on medium heat. Set aside.

In the same pot, add water-turmeric-salt. Let the water come to a boil.

Add fish. Cut Chillies into half and throw them in the pot. Cook for 5 minutes on medium high heat with the lid on. Or, until fish is boiled properly.

Serve with steamed rice.

 

ইলিশের ঝোল। Fish stew: Bengali way

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To my ancestors, to the rural people of Bangladesh, God always appears in the form of rice and fish. These beautiful, straight-out-of-a-novel people never exhibit the savage practice of killing each other off; they labor hard for peace and catching fish.

 

The grave of dreams

You are spinning and wondering in the wilderness. Emptiness spreads through seven heavens. Silence howling. Icebergs crackling behind.

Standing at the red cliff of the mountain, your heart is breathing faint and fast. Dead sky crumbles into cloudbursts.

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A nightmare.

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Resurrected from the nightmare you grasp your dear one’s hand with a tight clasp. And you weep over the near ones buried under nameless graves in the fierce waves.

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Roast Chicken on a bed of Chive blossoms

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Vegetables

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Chicken wings ... hot!

 

P.S. Marinate the whole or cut-up  skin-on chicken with only four ingredients: tomato ketchup, olive oil, salt and red chilli powder. Measurement depends on your taste buds, kitchen and common sense. Let it rest in the fridge for a few hours. Then roast at 400 degree fahrenheit for about an hour. Roasting time may slightly vary based on the size of the bird and your oven. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds or fresh herbs.

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Hot legs!

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“Which is the true nightmare, the horrific dream that you have in your sleep or the dissatisfied reality that awaits you when you awake?”
― Justin Alcala

 

Being Dead

It took you light years to spit the pieces of your bad and broken luck.

………….Along came the King…………….

He stones you and crushes your soul and spits you in the eye.

Then he leaves you in the middle of nowhere to die.

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Pumpkin Soup

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Roasted Eggplants

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Fish fritters and pasta ... lunch :)

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Uzbekistani Lamb Pilaf

Uzbekistani Lamb Plov

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
1 pound boneless lamb meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
2 teaspoons each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds ( Toasted and crushed)
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
2 cups boiling water (pinch of saffron threads goes into it)
1 whole unpeeled garlic head, washed
1 big bunch of scallion, Cilantro or Parsley
1 cup fresh/frozen green peas

Method:

* Place rice in a large bowl, wash with hot water and cover with warm water. Set aside.
* Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until smoking, and then add lamb. Cook, turning occasionally, until the lamb is evenly browned, 10 minutes.
* Add onion; cook, stirring, until the onion has softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Mix in cumin, coriander and peppercorns. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. If you find the meat is sticking, add 1 teaspoon or so of water before covering the pot.
* Pour cleaned rice over the lamb mixture in an even layer. Add carrots. Place the raw garlic head on top of the rice and squeeze it into the center.
* Slowly pour in the saffron-infused hot water over a large spoon or wooden spatula. This will ensure even distribution of water over the rice. Do not stir. Season with salt, and reduce heat to medium-low.
* Cover until the liquid starts boiling. Now remove the cover to let the stock almost evaporate. Then tightly cover again and cook on very low heat until rice is ready, about 20 minutes.
* When the rice is ready, open the lid, remove the garlic head, sprinkle in scallion green tops, herbs, and peas, cover and let stand for about 10 minutes. Then fluff and carefully mix everything together and serve.

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Dig a tunnel. Hide away. Bury your fragile hopes. Grow some Roses and save them for your own funeral. Because the King’s ghastly white earth does not bear Roses anymore.

 

A little LOVE can change it all

The old king with a cold heart, with his raven-black voodoo presence, turned every single Summer into dust.
His kingdom was covered all over with rust. “Adjust!” kingsmen ordered the people.
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“Fear chokes me, makes me feel like I’m dead, as dead as one can be”, cried a wretched fellow. He was one among hundreds of hungry, scared, nearly-dead people fleeing from a far-away-land and trying to reach this rich kingdom.
In the middle of the ocean they are stuck, froze-up in a dingy dungeon-like boat. Their lives are caught in a spider web. Their souls are trapped  in an unknown bottomless pit where there was no swimming forward or backward. The boat is sinking, people are drowning, dying of thirst but did not get a drop to drink.

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The wealthy treacherous king, like a chunk of cloud that does not let the sun rays in, shuts the door in their face. He abandoned them.
Every other morning folks find a few lifeless bodies washed up on the shore … lying face-down.

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When Rome was burning, Nero the king was playing Lyre. But we, the people, choose to stand by each other. We let others light off their candles from ours. Our light won’t glow any dimmer. Then like Fireflies in the night, twinkling love surrounds us all.
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Lightly fried fish. Marinated with salt-pepper-olive oil-Dill.

P.S. Succulent, crisp-skinned and faintly perfumed with salt-pepper-olive oil-Dill, this piece is to be enjoyed slowly, mindfully in a winter noon. Taste and joy will increase should you choose to SHARE your little piece of fish with those who go to bed hungry everyday and die an unthinkable death every day.

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Fried fish and fried eggplants

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Fish Pilaf

Smell of Death and Darkness hangs all around. Limbs and bones of Life and Light are wrinkled, crippled, thin and heavy with the burden of an avalanche of hatred. Love tottered and fell.

But still hope remains afloat instead of sinking. Peace decided to live.

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Carrots

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With burning sands of the endless Sahara in our eyes, fear as heavy as the Himalayas in our heart, we live on and cook Fish Pilaf. We choose ‘sharing and caring’ over THE Wall.

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Give a whisper of spice to the cheerful fillets; and your Pilaf will be heightened with the touch and smell and smoke of ginger and bay leaves – warm and moist, the Pilaf-pot will  sing the song through your kitchen chimney which you  have been trying to sing for years.

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Fish Pilaf. ইলিশ পোলাও

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Ingredients: for fish curry
Ghee ( vegetable Oil or olive oil is good too)
2 tbsp onion paste
2 tbsp juice of Ginger paste ( take a handful of ginger paste and squeeze out the juice)
4 tbsp yogurt
Half cup Coconut milk (  regular milk will do too)
Salt to taste
Whole Green chilies (Handful)
6 pieces Hilsha fish ( your choice of fish fillets cut into bite sized pieces. 10-12 pieces)

Ingredients for Pilaf:
3 cups Basmati/Kalijeera or any fragrant rice
6 cups water
2 Bay leaves , 2 Cardamoms , 1 stick Cinnamon
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Handful of Green peppers
Ghee/oil
Fried onions ( from one large onion)

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Method: for fish curry
* In hot oil/ghee put first five ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes in medium low heat.
* When spice-mix separates from oil, add fish and green peppers. Make sure the gravy is not dry. Add a tbsp water, if needed. Cover. * In low heat cook for 15 minutes max or until fish looks cooked- trough, tender.

Method: for Pilaf
* In high heat, boil water. Add ghee/oil, salt and the whole spices. Let it come to a bubbling boil. Add rice.
* Add some gravy from the fish curry. Gently stir so that ghee and gravy can coat every grain of rice.
* When rice looks almost cooked, whitish and water mostly evaporates, put the lid on. Turn the heat low. Very low. Cook for 20 minutes undisturbed.
* Gently add fish along with the rest of the gravy. Sprinkle sugar, green peppers and fried onion. Cover. Cook for another 10 minutes in low heat.
* Serve hot.

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Note: Whole Green peppers in the curry as well as in the pilaf are for adding flavor. Not heat. You must use peppers for this dish.

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Red Hot Peppers

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Despair is thick as a brick that hits hard right in the heart. But we must be singing the soothing, somber hymn when the days grow dim. We must inhale a lungful of breaths of  hope, light and life. We must love each other or die.