Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mutton Goli Kebab Photoshoot















The recipe for Mutton Goli Kebab is here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Made in Shantiniketan, Bidisha Didi’r Chhana-Posto Bhaate

Chhana chai, didi? Chhana chai? Ek dom tatka.” The chhana wala would call out every morning. And Didi would invariably oblige. Chhana was her weakness, and so was helping all those street vendors who came hollering every morning. They knew Didi would always buy.

When Didi was done making Chhanar Dalna, some chhana would still remain. And with all that extra chhana, she’d make this bhaate. A steamed goody made by mixing equal quantities of poppy seed paste, fresh chhana, chopped red onions, chopped green chillies, and a generous dash of mustard oil. And if little sister Bipasha was visiting her in her Shantiniketan home, Didi would make sure she made a tiffin-boxful just for her!



Didi would serve her specially made Chhana-Posto Bhaate to little sister with plain white rice. She loved watching Bipasha mix little dollops of the bhaate into the shaada bhaat, deftly using her fingers to mix everything and eat with satisfaction writ large on her face. There were times little sister would give big sister’s maachher jhol a miss and finish all her rice with the delicate-tasting bhaate. That’s how much she liked it. And why not!

Ingredients for Bidisha Didir Chhana-Posto Bhaate are:

4-5 tablespoons poppy seeds/posto, made into a coarse paste
Equal quantity of fresh, homemade paneer/chhana, crumbled lightly
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
5-6 green chillies, finely chopped
Generous dash of mustard oil + extra while serving

In a steel tiffin box, mix everything together – the posto, chhana, onions, green chillies, salt and drizzle the mustard oil. Close the lid of the box and keep in a pressure cooker. Fill the pressure cooker with a cup or two of water. Make sure you don’t cover the tiffin box with water.


Close the pressure cooker and cook the chhana-posto mixture till two whistles go off.

037Remove the box as soon as you are able to open the pressure cooker.

Mix the bhaate, add an extra squirt of mustard oil if you want to and serve hot with plain white rice. The addition of the chhana to the posto adds a lot of creaminess to this bhaate. Its a great recipe for vegetarians who’d get protein from the paneer. We loved this new bhaate for its unique and simple flavours.

052(Bipasha and big sister Bidisha both live in the US. Little sister often visits Didi in Princeton, New Jersey just to eat her Chhana-Posto Bhaate. Thanks to the two sisters for sharing this recipe. Its for keeps.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Orange Sondesh from the Dummy Wife


012When P saw me getting some zest out of the oranges in the kitchen, he asked me what was I making. I told him – Sondesh. All he said was – I got a good deal. A wife who can make Sondesh!

Little does he know that I am a Sondesh dummy. Every Sondesh attempt of mine in the past have been scintillating failures. I have a feeling, if P was born 100 years ago, he would have fallen head over heels with Nani, my Mum’s Grandmother. The original Sondesh queen of our family.

For as long as I remember, Nani moved around her home on a wheelchair. She would even make Sondesh sitting on her wheelchair by the clay unoon/chulha in the courtyard. The servants would prep up the clay unoon with coal and fire and fan with a haathpakha till the embers would glow just right. She would then boil the milk slowly, taking ladlefuls of the hot milk and pouring it from a height to make it frothy. Half cut lemons would then be squeezed in the milk to curdle it. And then the hot, curdled cheese would be dunked in a clean cheesecloth, draining off the lemon-yellow liquid. The cheese, the cloth and Nani’s sari were all the same color. An awesome white.

Sadly, with age, the quantity of the Sondesh Nani made started to reduce. Those who are Sondesh connoisseurs know that Sondesh is all about timing and perfection. Her shaking hands at 90 something found it growingly difficult for her to knead the cheese. Which meant, her Sondesh became rarer and rarer. And only those who were in her inner circle would get that rare piece of Sondesh.

014When komla lebu (orange) was in season, Nani would sun dry its peels and grind, and keep to flavour her Sondesh in later days.

017And those Orange Sondesh were the most sought after. Fragrant, fresh, melt-in-the-mouth Komlalebur Sondesh. She would make them in the summers. A chilled piece of her Orange Sondesh would ensure atta’r total shanti (peace of the soul).

Since, I have neither Nani’s experience in Sondesh-making, nor her deftness in doling out little pieces of perfection, I took the short-cut route, a slight deviation and used the zest of orange to make Makha Sondesh. The very basic, very raw and absolutely dummy version of Sondesh! And this is how I did it.

Ingredients for Orange Sondesh are:

3 litres whole milk
250 ml heavy/whipping cream (optional)
2 tablespoons zest of orange
2-3 tablespoons white vinegar

023Bring the milk and cream to a rumbling boil. Add the vinegar and continue stirring till the milk curdles and you see the cheese and liquid separate. Turn the heat off. Add the orange zest and mix.


027Drain the chhana (cheese) in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Hang the cheese for about 30-40 minutes, or till all the liquid drains off. You can also do the press by weight process to do away with the remaining liquid.

Now with the heel of your hand, start rubbing the cheese to give it a smooth texture. It takes about 10-15 minutes of gentle, rhythmic rubbing to get the appropriate texture which looks smooth and supple, like a baby’s bottom. Do a test to check if your Sondesh dough is ready. Make a little ball with the cheese, if you see no cracks or fine lines, its done. Now add the sugar, little by little and keep mixing into the smooth cheese dough. Do a taste test and add more sugar if necessary.

033Make little round balls with the cheese and shape in Sondesh moulds, or leave them looking rustic as I did. Simply because I could not find my moulds after frantically looking for them for two minutes. That’s how deficit I am of attention (read sleep-deprived) these days.

036Chill the Orange Sondesh if you may, or eat them just as you shape them up. They are awesome any which way.