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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Bengali Vegetarian Thali / Durga Pooja Special Platter


Durga Puja also referred to as Durgotsava or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in south Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It is  particularly popular in Indian states of West Bengal , Odisha,Assam and Tripura. Durga puja festival marks the battle of goddess Durga with the powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura, and her emerging victorious over the evil. Thus the festival epitomizes the victory of Good over Evil, but it also is in part a harvest festival that marks the goddess as the motherly power behind all of life and creation. Source: Wikipedia

Durga Puja festival is celebrated from the sixth to the tenth day of bright lunar fortnight in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin . Bengali's celebrate it with dance , food , music , grandeur and community gatherings. While in Northern and Western India, people observe 9 days of fasting during Navratri, Bengali's (die hard foodies) enjoy scrumptious food during Durga Pooja. 

                             
#DurgaPuja  is the theme for our #111th week of  #FoodieMondayBlogHop and this Bengali vegetarian platter which is called as "bhog" as it is offered to Maa Durga and then distributed among devotes is my contribution towards the theme.  I have been browsing Google on the food prepared during Durga Pooja for last 2-3 days and what i understood is that there is a long list of food both vegetarian and non-vegetarian that can be served as different courses of the meal during the 5 day festivity. From lip smacking snack , starters and street food , to elaborate main course , from curries and dals to non ending list of Mishti (sweets) there is everything in Bengali Cuisine that a foodie can ask for. So far i have tried Sandesh , Rasgulla , Mishti Doiand Begun Bhaja at home from the Bengali Cuisine. This time for the theme i wanted to try something which is typically cooked during Durga Pooja . I read many articles on line for it and finally settled with this Durga pooja special platter. I referred My Tryst With Food And Travel by Piyali di and Peekncook blogs for the recipes. 


My Durga Puja special Vegetarian platter has 
  • Bhoger Khichuri - One pot meal where rice and lentils are cooked together with some vegetables and basic Indian spice.
  • Beguni - Begun Bhaja : Egg plant fritters
  • Tomato Dates Chutney : A lip smacking side dish made from ripe tomatoes, golden raisins, dates, Mango leather and panch phoran. 
  • Payesh : A classic Bengali dessert , basically a rice pudding made from milk , rice and palm jaggery.
  • Papad 
  • Mishti Doi : Fermented Sweetened yogurt.
  1. Nolen Gurer Payesh:

Nolen Gurer Payesh : This is a classic Bengali dessert . It is basically a rice pudding and uses three main ingredients. milk , rice and date jaggery. Now again this recipe also calls for use of gobind bhog variety of rice which is fragrant. I have used basmati rice . The pudding is fragrant as it has whole bay leaf. I have used jaggery powder as a sweetener in this kheer.

Preparation time: 10 mniutes
Cooking time: 20 mniutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 1/2 liter full cream milk
  • 1/4 cup powdered jaggery 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • Dried rose petals and pistachio slivers for garnishing (optional)
Method:
  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly under running water. Drain and keep aside.
  2. In a pan heat ghee, add bay leaf and fry for few seconds.
  3. Add the drained rice and coat it with ghee.
  4. Add half of the milk and allow the rice to cook in the milk.
  5. Heat the remaining milk in another vessel until it reduces to half. 
  6. When the rice is almost cooked , add in the reduced milk . 
  7. Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  8. Put off the flame. Now add the powdered jaggery followed by cardamom powder and give a quick stir. Keep stirring until all the jaggery melts completely.
  9. Garnish the payesh with dried rose petals and pistachio slivers and serve .
    2.  Bhoger Khichuri:


  • Khichuri :Bhoger Khichuri is quintessentially a part of the offerings made to Maa durga during Pujo. One pot meal where rice and lentils are cooked together with some vegetables and basic Indian spices. Traditionally this bhoger khichuri is made using a special type of rice variety found in West Bengal called Gobind bhog. I have used basmati rice instead. The moong dal is dry roasted until fragrant before washing and soaking. This steps adds in beautiful aroma to the khichuri. The consistency of khichuri is porridge like and is served piping hot with a generous amount of ghee.
Preapartion time: 15 minutes
Cooking time : 15 minutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Gobind Bhog or basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup Split and husked moong dal
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup Cauliflower florets
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot , chopped
  • 1 medium potato 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 green caradamom
  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • Salt to taste
Method:
  1. Rinse rice thoroughly under clear water. Soak the rice for 30 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile dry roast the moong dal on low flame until fragrant. Allow the lentil to cool down after which it is rinsed in water and allowed to soak for few minutes.
  3. In a pressure cooker or pan, heat ghee. Add the whole spices ( bay leaf, cardamom , cumin seeds, cinnamon , cloves). Saute the spices until they become aromatic.
  4. Add grated ginger and saute until the raw smell goes off. Now add the turmeric powder and red chili powder followed by the chopped tomatoes. Saute well.Now add rest of the vegetables and stir fry very well.
  5. Add the roasted moong dal and the drained rice and stir fry for another 1 -2 minutes.
  6. Add 3-4 cups of water . Season the khichuri with salt and sugar. Put the lid and cook the khichuri for 2 whistles. 
  7. Open the lid after all the pressure has been released. Mash the khichuri and serve it piping hot with generous amount of ghee and papad.
   3. Tomato and Dates Chutney


Bengali style tomato and dates chutney is a lip smacking side dish made from ripe tomatoes, golden raisins , dates , mango leather and panch phoran. It is sweet, spicy tangy all at the same time. The chutney is thick , sticky and blood red in color. This chutney is a part of the vegetarian Bengali bhog. I did not get mango leather bar , so skipped usingit. have replaced the sugar with jaggery powder in this recipe.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time : 15 minutes.
Serves : 4

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes
  • 4-5 dates
  • 2 tablespoon golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon of panch phoran 
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilly powder
  • 1/4 cup jaggery powder or more as per taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
Method:
  1. In a non stick pan heat oil. Add the panch phoran and fry until aromatic.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes to the pan stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add turmeric powder followed by salt and mix well. Cover cook the tomatoes until mushy.
  3. Open the lid and add the jaggery powder and mix well. Higher the flame and cook the chutney until all the water from the tomatoes evaporate.
  4. Add chopped dates and raisins and mix with the pulpy tomatoes.Cook the chutney for another 2-3 minutes. Now add the red chill powder and cumin powder. Mix well cook for 1 more minute and put off the flame. 

  • Begun Bhaja : Baingan Bhaja or Begun Bhaja is a tasty appetizer made from Brinjal or Aubergine. A dish from Bengali cuisine in which Aubergine slices are marinated in spices and then pan / shallow fried to golden crispy on outside and remain soft from inside. Click here for the step wise recipe.


  • Mishti Doi : Sweetened yogurt or Mishti doi or Mithi Dahi is a fermented sweet yogurt and is famous sweet dish  in the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha . In this recipe the milk is condensed and then sweetened with either caramelized sugar or Jaggery and then allowed to ferment overnight . Mishti doi has a very rich and exotic taste. Traditionally it is prepared in earthen pots as the gradual evaporation of  water through the earthen pot leads  to further thickening of the yogurt.  Click here for the detailed recipe.


  I hope i have done justice to the traditional Bengali vegetarian bhog. Would love to hear from you.

   Wishing a happy and blessed Durga Pooja festivity to all those who celebrate !

  For more Bengali recipes, check my blog posts on

Sponge Rasgulla



Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Shradh Naivedyam Thali - Sarva Pitru Amavasya Special


Pitru Paksha (fortnight of the ancestors) is a 16-lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (pitrs), especially through food offerings. In southern and western India, it falls in the 2nd paksha (fortnight) Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September) and follows the fortnight immediately after the Ganesh Festival. It begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as Sarvapitri Amavasya. Source : Wikipedia

Pitru Paksha is designated for karmic cleansing and for performing rituals and prayers for the ancestors. It is believed that souls of our ancestors are closest to the Mother Earth during these days. Our ancestors leave behind their good and bad karmas. We enjoy happiness, success, peace and prosperity because of their good karmas and face obstacles, hindrances and illness in life due to some of their bad karmas that keeps reflecting in our lives. When we perform rituals for their peace, they bless us in return as we have helped them in releasing their negative karmic ties.

Normally the shraddh or the other rituals are performed  in the name of a particular ancestor on the tithi when he or she left the physical body. But at times, one is not aware of the lunar dates , the ancestors left their mortal body. In such cases, "Sarve Pitru Amavasya" comes as a rescue. As the name suggest, sarva means all, pitru means ancestors and Amavasya is the dark night- which means a day designated for all ancestors irrespective of the day they have died on. Source:https://www.religionworld.in/mahalaya-amavasya-significance-rituals/

On this day devotees remember their ancestors and pay homage to them and offer, food, clothes and sweets to the Brahmins. The  belief of offering food to the dead ancestors is said to free their souls from the circle of life so that they can attain salvation. The food offerings made for the ancestors are cooked at home and offered typically on plate and cups made of dried leaves. I have grown up seeing my parents doing all these rituals very religiously every year. The food offered during shradh varies from place to place in India. The thali i have shown here is what we cook in our family on the shradh tithi and on Sarva Pitru Amavasya as an offering to God , ancestors and then all the family members have this as prasad. The food is satvik ( no onion -garlic food).



My shradh naivedyam thali for Sarva Pitru Amavasya has

  •  Rice Kheer : Chawal ki kheer a traditional Indian dessert holds an important place in the shradh thali.. A creamy rich sweet preparation where in rice is cooked and simmered in milk. Click here for detailed recipe.
Rice Kheer
  • Kadhi - A simple yet delicious dish made by tempered butter milk with fragrant Indian spices. This Maharashtrian kadhi is very different from the North Indian kadhi , it is thin , slightly sweet in taste and is served steaming hot with rice.
  • Cluster Beans- Gavar phali ki subji : A simple onion garlic free curry which gets a characteristic nutty flavor and thickness from the added roasted peanut powder. Click here for the detailed recipe.
Cluster Beans Curry
  • Pumpkin Stir Fry : Lal Bhopalaychi Bhaji as called in Marathi is a lip smacking dry vegetable curry in which pumpkin pieces are stir fried along with basic tempering spices and curry leaves. The dish gets a mild sweet taste which comes from the added jaggery powder.
  • Bhindi / Okra stir fry. : A simple okra stir fry which goes well with chapati. 
  • Kurdai / Papadum is a typical Maharashtrian snack which comes under papad category but is made from wheat. Kurdai is made during summer time, sun dried and used whole year round. No festive Maharashtrian thali is complete without this snack. It is deep fried and served with meals. 

  • Bitter melon Stir Fry / Karele Ki Subji  : A flavorful dry curry in which thin bitter melon roundels are stir fried with spices. It is mildly tangy because of amchur powder and slightly sweet because of the added jaggery powder. Click here for the detailed recipe. 

Bitter Melon Stir Fry / Karele ki subji
  • Aluchya Vadya / Patra : Alu vadi is a popular stuffed taro leaf (Colocasia) starter dish in west region of India. It is known as Patra in Gujarati and Aluchya Vadya in Marathi. In this savoury steamed leaf roll recipe , a spicy, tangy and slightly sweet gram flour batter is applied on the arbi (Taro)leaves. This smeared leaves are then stacked upon each other , rolled and then steamed. The steamed multi-layered taro leaf roll is then cut into slices and tempered or deep fried.  Click here for the detailed recipe.
  • Aluchya Vadya / Patra
  •  Split Black Lentil Fritters : A deep fried urad dal fritter also known as medu vada. Medu vada is a popular South Indian snack. Click here for detailed recipe.
  • Udadache Vade / Split Black Lentil Fritter                       
  • Sponge Gourd Fritters : In this the sponge gourd roundels are dipped in a spicy chickpea flour batter and deep fried until golden brown from both the sides.
  • Dhirde : Spicy chickpea flour pan cakes are made and here they are cut into long strips and served.

  • Apart from this Panchamrut   and a banana raita (Kelichi Koshimbir) is also a part of shradh Thali. 
  • Panchamrut


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Red Lentil Oats Muffins


Lentils are a low calorie , protein and fiber rich member of legume family. They come in red, brown , black and green varieties. They are relatively easy and quick to cook compared with the dried beans and are a cheap substitute for meat. #Lentils is the theme of our #110th #FoodieMondayBloghop. This wonderful theme is chosen by Alka di ( a very talented blogger who blogs at CulinaryXpress) Red lentil oats muffins is my contribution towards this theme. Do check out my fellow bloggers for some lovely recipes and innovative ideas on this theme.


You all must be wondering ,what has lentil to do with muffins ? When i was thinking about this theme, i thought of making a creamy soup or cutlets using lentils. But then luckily i recalled how effortlessly my dear friend Ravneet used lentils and millet in her bakes. Ravneet is a talented blogger and blogs at Mercury Information (Healthwellbeinghappiness). So without giving a second thought i settled upon making muffins using lentils. 


I have used red lentils (Masoor dal) in this recipe, as this variety is mildly sweet and cooks fast into a mushy consistency which is ideal for making puree. It is added to soups , curries and dals to make them creamy and thick. Along with the red lentil puree, i have used oats and little whole wheat flour as a base to the muffin batter.  


Red Lentil Oats Muffins are scrumptious sweet treats that are rich in protein and fiber. They are easy to make and are loaded with healthy goodness of lentils and oats. These beauties are egg-less , butter-less and refined sugar free. Jaggery powder acts as a sweetener. Have added cocoa powder to give them a chocolaty flavor. Over ripen banana acts as an egg substitute in this recipe. Though the muffins have large quantity of red lentil puree, one can hardly make out the taste of the lentil. Added almonds give the muffins a bite and nutty flavor. The muffins are sweet and nutritious and can be served as a healthy filling breakfast along with milk and some fruits. They can be packed in kids snacks box or be served as an after school or tea time snack. 


Before moving to the recipe, lets quickly have a look at the healthy benefits of adding red lentil to our diets. Red lentil is virtually fat free ( has no cholesterol) , is an excellent source of fiber, is high in protein , Vitamin B , iron and manganese . 


 Preparation Time : 15 minutes
 Cooking Time : 35 minutes
 Makes : 8 Muffins

Ingredients :
  • 1/2 cup Red Lentil
  • 1/2 cup Oats
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 cup jaggery powder
  • 1 large over ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds 
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
  • Pinch of Salt

                           

  Method:
  1. Wash the red lentil thoroughly and cook in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Puree the cooked lentil adding water as required to get a puree which is the consistency of a pumpkin puree.




  2.  Mean while line the muffin tray and preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.

                            

 3. In a large mixing bowl, mash the over rip banana and add jaggery powder to it. Blend well. 


  4. Add red lentil puree to it and mix well to get a lump free batter. Add oil followed by vanilla essence . Blend well. Our wet ingredients are ready.



  5.  In another bowl sift whole wheat flour , baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Add oats to it . Mix well. 

  6. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones and blend well with a spatula to get a lump free batter. Lastly add the chopped almonds and give a quick mix. 



  7. Spoon out equal quantity of batter into each lined muffin holder. Tap the muffin tray to release trapped air bubbles if any and bake the muffins in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes. Keep an eye after 20 minutes as time may vary slightly from oven to oven. Insert a toothpick to check the doneness of the  muffins. If it comes out clear the muffins are done.If you find any batter sticking to it, bake for another 4-5 minutes.


  8. Serve the muffins warm or cold and enjoy with your loved ones !


  Sending this recipe of red lentil oats muffins to #110th #FoodieMondayBloghop with #lentil theme. 
                                             

   For more healthy muffin recipes, do check my posts on


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sweet Corn Sundal / South Indian Sweet Corn Salad Recipe - Navratri Special


Sundal is a South Indian style salad usually prepared and served as prasadam during Navratri. Different varieties of Sundal can be made using different types of legumes. Commonest type of sundal is the Chana or Chickpea sundal. Sweet Corn sundal is delicious , healthy and filling and can be made very easily with corn and basic tempering ingredients. It is one of the simplest and quickest of all sundal varieties. 


  Sweet corn sundal is very delicious as it has sweetness from corn, it gets a mild tangy taste from lemon juice and has a characteristic nutty flavor from the fresh coconut. Curry leaves tempering makes it all the more tempting. I have added little grated carrots to add in to the nutrition of the sundal. Sweet corn sundal can be served as a snack to the kids anytime of the day as almost all kids love sweet corn. It makes a good kids lunch box accompaniment as well . I make this sweet corn sundal often , especially during the busy mornings as it just takes 10 minutes to make a filling and nutritious breakfast. Onions and tomatoes can also be added along with carrots in this sweet corn sundal for variation ( do not use onions if offering as naivedyam during festivals) 


Before moving to the recipe, just quickly look at the benefits of eating this sweet juicy and crunchy sweet corn. Sweet corn is a maize with high sugar content.It is gluten free, it is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. It contains good levels of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamin such as thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folates, riboflavin and pyridoxine . It contains healthy amounts of some essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. It lowers cholesterol, improves vision, boosts energy and prevents diabetes. 


Cooking Time: Under 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Sweet corn kernels
  • 1 small carrot, washed, peeled and grated. (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh coconut
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt to taste
For seasoning:
  • 1-2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chilli, broken into 2 pieces and deseeded
  • 1/2 teaspoon urad dal / skinned and split black gram
  • 1 teaspoon ghee / butter
Method:
  1. Wash the sweet corn kernels and boil them in less water with salt for 3-5 minutes. Drain off the excess water if any and keep them aside. You can also steam the kernels instead. 


  2.   Now for the tempering, heat butter or ghee in a pan. Add mustard seeds . Once the seeds splutter , add the curry leaves , red chilly and urad dal. I have not added the urad dal as my son does not like it. Saute until the dal turns golden brown. 


  3. Add the grated carrot and saute for a minute or so. Now add cooked sweet corn kernels and stir fry for 1-2 minutes more.



  4. Season the sundal with salt and lemon juice. Garnish with grated coconut , mix well and put off the flame.


  5. Serve the delicious sweet corn sundal warm or on cooling.


   For more South Indian festive dishes, do check my posts on 


Pulihora- Tamarind Rice

Pineapple Kesari

Thayir Sadam / Curd Rice


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