Friday, 31 October 2014

Poha Based Multi-Grain Cookie!!!

Poha/Chire in a cookie, who would have thought that?? I am sure a lot of you would be reading this recipe just for that name of it. For all my non-desi friends, let me translate and elucidate. Poha is the Indian name to beaten rice. It’s a favourite breakfast item, eaten everywhere in India, with veggies or dairy products. 

"Flattened rice contains no cholesterol and saturated fat at all. Also, the sodium content is very less and thus the calories in the beaten rice are not harmful. Moreover, it contains nutrients like iron, vitamin C, vitamin A and calcium too." Source- foodlve

I personally have never come across a cookie made with thus, or rather any sweet dish made with it. But, I had to do something crazy, and hence added my beloved poha in a multigrain cookie I was making for my little guy.

My little guy is in a very weird stage right now. He loves to eat, but prefers eating porridges over biting food. He is just too lazy to chew, a practice I am really keen that starts soon. So I took the longer route of introducing him to biscuits/cookies that excites him enough for him to start chewing like a pro. The road is long, but my thoughts are focused. And this recipe is an outcome to it.

Nutritionally, this recipe is quite well rounded, but if you prefer sweeter cookies, replace the brown sugar with its whiter counterpart. For us, it was perfect as we can’t eat things too sweet. Don’t cringe on butter, as that is what will bind the dough and bake it to crisp perfection. The beaten rice, though used only a half cup, will impart a great texture to the cookie. Feel free to load it with chocolate chips, dry fruits and nuts; I didn’t as my 1.5 year old will not be comfortable chewing on such hard things.

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup Poha/Chire/beaten rice
1 ½ cup oats
1 cup refined flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons salted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A handful of dried cranberries to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, Poha, baking powder and baking soda. Set it aside.

In large bowl, use whisk to cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add an egg and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until mixed to form a rather sticky cookie dough. Mix in the nuts or chocolate chips, if using.

Use a 2-tablespoon scoop to drop rounded portions of cookie dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (If you don't have a scoop, roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball with your hands.) Space cookie dough about 2-1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Flatten them slightly and bake in a pre-heated oven for 14 minutes until its brown and crispy around the edges. It will remain still slightly soft in the middle. Cool completely on pans before removing.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Holiday In Style- Nikko Bali Resort and Spa

Living in style is for a select few, but holidaying in style is for everyone.

Living in style is decided by your bank balance, but holidaying in style is decided by your will power.

So here I go with a series of “perfect holiday of style” reviews and/or ideas… Very important to note that the views captured here are of a foodie traveler, always in search of a perfectly romantic setting; in a comfortable, yet restrained budget of an upper- Middle class couple. Hope you enjoy the journey here in…
Place: Bali is wonderfully touristy! It’s got sea, greenery, an active volcano and a vibrant culture full of all kinds of performing arts. The Balinese paintings and dance are obviously something not to be missed in this island.

Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua
Bali, Indonesia

Overall: To find the lap of luxury, I feel privacy is a must. And that’s what you will get in abundance in Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua. Located a little distance away from a strip containing all the rest of hotels in Nusa Dua, it’s got a serene beach exclusive to the guests of the hotel. The hotel stands on a cliff, wherein, you enter from top and travel down to your room, a unique design I say!! The maze of rooms in every wing of the “cliff construction” can be a bit difficult to fathom, and so getting lost in the search of your own room may be packaged along with your trip.

Dining experience: I don’t think a luxury resort is a good place to dine and boast. And Nikko Hotel was not any different than that. The breakfast spread and service was good. It catered to all sorts of popular oriental and occidental dishes. For the meals, ‘Benkay’ and ‘The Shore’ have great options. The Japanese dominated Benkay offers a lot of oriental fares along with sushi and sashimi. We had the pecking duck and loved the fact that the host gave us a bit of info about the dish and the way to eat it traditionally. But again, we went in a time when the crowds were gone, the host had a lot of time on his hand to make us understand their food!!

‘The Shore’, is the perfect place to plan a romantic dinner on the beach. The wooden plank with lounging couches, which goes on the beach overlooking the sea… Sigh!! Heaven!! Its designed perfectly for a romantic time away from the crowd. Though the food is unimpressive, the extensive wine list is the best on the menu.
Nikko bali doesn’t specialise in local favourites, so I highly recommend going out for a meal or two. All the big restaurants and spa facilities do pick-ups and drops and so staying away from the city doesn’t really pinch that much.

Positives: the pool is one of the cleanest that I have seen, complete with a water slide and a bar. They also offer a jacuzzi kind of pool which is an amazing place to relax. The rooms are spacious with all amenities, and the in room service is great too.

Negatives: I found the spa and the food to be really unimpressive. Balinese massage is a must, so I recommend going to other places for a couple or single massages.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

I-Can-Cook Workshops

They say, ‘to the world you may be just a teacher, but to your students, you are a hero!’ Starting on such a spiritual mode has never been me. But I am emotional this time. For this coming week I would be holding a workshop for the little kids of our neighbourhood, trying to make them learn and love the magic of cooking. It’s a magic that happens in a pan, when hot oil meets masala. It’s a magic when milk curdles to form paneer. It’s a magic when solid sugar melts in heat. And it is this magic that I want to ILLUMINATE these kids with! 

The curriculum is simple and easy to grasp. I want to go back to the roots of our Indian culture with the kids, and tell them how we thrive in our day to day life. I am excited!! It’s a fun-learn module and I will finally be a hero in some little sparkly eye! So if you reside anywhere close to Chembur area, Mumbai; come and enrol your kid to these super workshops conducted by Miryaa- the centre! I will be handling the I-can-cook module while other colleagues of mine would be handling the rest of the awesome modules planned. It’s a weeklong workshop, with all required details below!

Cheers and hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Pre Diwali Party!!!

Are you looking for that perfect snack for your Pre-Diwali Cocktail Party? Perhaps, the full meal? Depending on how many guests you are hosting, keeping it simple and fresh is the only suggestion I can give you. Below, I mention all my favourites, the recipes I have developed for you over the years, which is so perfect and so simple to put together. Some have great drama involved too, which might be a wonderful party activity to involve your guests in it. So here goes the list of all my favourites-


Perfected Chicken 'Booby' Kababs on a Stove Flame!!! 

Sometimes I like to burn things in my kitchen. Yes, and deliciously so… this is a wonderful activity to involve your guests in as well. Fun and frolic in the kitchen, with cool drinks flowing in; heaven, don't u think? Same recipe could be used for prawns or baby-corn, and can be barbecued as well on an open terrace. Be creative and plan your party with your individual tastes.

The Crispy Masala Carp!

I like to include a star dish in every course surrounded with easy to put snack or side dishes. For appetizers, this is my star dish, which I surround with various dips and chutneys and serve it along with pop corn, chips and a finger salad. Perfect start to a great party.

Atta-Go Cheese Bites!!!

Another of my dish that can be prepared earlier and served cold or luke warm to the guests. It’s a carb filled appetizer, which will fill your guests enough to let u linger on the party till late.

Masala Nuts on a Plate! 

This is definitely my favourite thing to serve, and for my guests to munch on. Trust me, the tag home-made adds a beautiful twist to it as well.


The Art of Layers: Lasagne 

For the time when you feel party should be all about indulgent gourmet food, which is rather easy to put together, but is a wow dish altogether.

Summery Delight – Pesto Pasta and Preserved Lemon Salad 

When keeping it gormet, and yet healthy is what you desire. This simple spread would be perfect for it.

Weekday Dinner with Paneer Gravy-ed and Sumac-ed Cous-cous!! 

What if you desire a fusion vegetarian spread for your guests? This particular recipe is a desi-videsi mix of balance, and pretty healthy at it too.

The Biryani Express!! 

I always love dishes that can be prepped earlier for me to get time to mingle with my guests during a party at home. And this is one of my favourite things to do, one pot dish but yet so light and festive. I keep everything half cooked and layered, but finish off just before serving. This recipe is best if steamed in a proper steamer, but the pressure cooker method works wonders too.

              Pudina Subz Biryani


Labourious Love: Fresh Strawberry and Orange Ice-cream 

Diwali this year seems really hot for many places in the country. And hence an easy semi freddo styled ice cream would be a great option. Opt for packaged strawberry crush instead of fresh strawberries or flavour with other fruits! Give it your twist, but follow the recipe and technique to the T. No need for an ice cream machine in your kitchen, I guarantee!

Nutella Mugsy!!! 

Oh what an indulgent little thing, and it can be adapted in many ways as well. Make it hot, right before serving and offer a dollop of cold vanilla ice cream along! Heaven in each bite!!

My Rustic self: Baked Apples!! 

And if you are hosting a healthy fresh spread this Diwali, the dessert too has to sing out a fitting reply. These rustic little bites of soft fresh cooked apples would be perfect for the occasion.

Vanilla-Milk Jelly with Chocolat-Shaves 

But if you wanna keep it indulgent healthy, like I always do (lord Buddha’s Middle path) then these little wiggly guys are gonna be your friends for life. They are indulgent and luscious, while remaining very healthy indeed.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

My Fish Head Biryani- Muri-Ghonto!!

Today I wrote a 1-picture post, as I don’t know how to beautify this wonderfully tasty fish and rice dish for a picture. It’s no secret that I am a rustic food lover and photographer, and care absolutely no damn for props to beautify a dish. This post is an ode to my belief, and hence I restrict myself to just one, but a real picture of how this special dish should look and be served.

Muri-Ghanto on the right served here with plain dal and mishti alu sheddo (boiled sweet potatoes, onion slices spiced with mustard oil and seasoned).
But that’s not all, I have many more believes that I wanna count on, in this post. Wastage being one of the primary ones, I would want to know out of curiosity; what do u do with fish heads? Before Masterchef Australia glorified this rustic cut, what did you do with it? Discard it? Or just about make a stock with it? Or cooked it, to be left on the plate uneaten? This ancient cut somehow always meets this fate in this cosmopolitan era of eating-what-appeals-to-the-eye concept. But we bongs are pagan enough to love our fish quite that much to not waste out any edible part. And the tasty fish heads are a priced component of our food. We make a dhansak styled dal with fish heads, or make mixed vegetable styled chchori. But my most favourite way to use these little nuggets of deliciousness is to make Muri-Ghanto; which can be loosely translated into a fish head biryani. This messy curry-rice is a one pot meal, with the right amount of spicyness and flavour! For me, it deems the position of being the showstopper dish on the table very easily, and I love to serve it to my experimental guests too.

Now, it’s a no onion and garlic recipe, like many other Bengali dishes. Bengal doesn’t grow 
onions or garlic, and hence it’s hardly used in any authentic curries from our region. So we derive flavour from rather unusual ingredients and spices. Today’s dish uses 1 such ingredient, Gobindo Bhog Chal, a specific rice variety. These small kernels of rice pack quite a punch when it comes to flavour, and we use this variety of rice in everything ranging from baby food to the holy meal- Bhog. Though this is one of the most important ingredients of the dish, it’s not available quite easily awy from bengal. And hence, it can be substituted with basmati rice, but the flavour of the dish will vary.
Gobindo Bhog Chal

Head of an Indian Carp- Rohu
Salt and turmeric to taste
2 tbsp Mustard oil
¼ tsp whole cumin
2 dried bay leaves
2 dried red chillies
½ an inch long cinnamon stick
½ cup fresh tomato puree
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp red chilly powder
1 potato cubed
½ tsp grated ginger
2 fistful of Washed and soaked gobindo bhog rice
½ tsp ghee (optional)


Wash and dry the fish head well. Then coat it with salt and turmeric to marinate for an hour. You can even leave it overnight or stash the fish head smeared in turmeric in the freezer to be had few days later. Turmeric is a great thing to add to marinades, due to its antiseptic properties.

Heat a tbsp. of mustard oil in a non-stick pan. Upon smoking, add the head pieces and fry on medium heat till it changes colour to deep brown all over. Keep it aside once done.

In the remaining oil, add the cubed potatoes and fry till golden. The non stick pan should not ask for more oil, but if need be, do add some to ensure unbroken chunks of potatoes. Once done, keep it aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, add the whole spices- whole cumin, cinnamon, red chillies and bay leaf to temper. Once aromatic, add the tomato paste mixed with the dry spice powders of turmeric, red chilly, cumin and coriander; and cook till it is fragrant and leaves out oil from the masala mix.

Now add the rice and fry it in the masala for a few minutes. The rice should turn a glorious golden, and start being quite fragrant. Once there, tip in the potatoes, and after a quick mix in the masala, add the fish heads. Sauté all the flavourful elements in the wok well, till the pieces are well coated in the masala mix.

Add water to the wok, till everything is submerged in the water, and still an inch more. The rice and potatoes will cook and soak up the water. Salt the dish well now, and let it simmer covered till the rice is cooked.

Traditionally, this dish is made a tag bit runny and eaten mixed with rice. If you want to do that, then salt the dish generously.

Once the water comes to your desired consistency, and the rice is cooked well, grate the ginger on top and sprinkle on cinnamon powder. Mix well and let the ginger cook down for 2 minutes. Before removing from heat, splash the ghee and stir well. Its best eaten fresh, but keeps very well frozen or refrigerated in an airtight container.  
Muri-Ghanto on the right served here with plain dal and mishti alu sheddo (boiled sweet potatoes, onion slices spiced with mustard oil and seasoned).


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