Food Diaries| Bong Connection: Nolen Gur Rice Kheer & traditional delicacies in Kolkata #Indiancuisine #fooddiary

“Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

Nolen Gur Rice KheerNolen Gur Rice Kheer meant yet another trip down memory lane! Our trip to Kolkata some time ago was delicious. For a non fish lover, I was a little iffy. I needn’t have been. There is so much, and so much more Bong food has to offer, that Kolkata grows on you. There is good food everywhere. Since it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s quite easy to over eat as well! From Ballygunge Place to Bengali sweets galore, to the best streetfood {puchkas forever}, to nostalgic ancient Jewish bakeries {Nahoum & Sons}, and then to good old Flurry’s, the city has it all and more!

Kolkata, IndiaBengalis and food go hand in hand. They are a passionate community. Tight knit, artistic, energetic…and food obsessed. You just need to begin talking about Bengali delicacies in Kolkata on any social media channel, and the response is absolutely amazing!  Bongs from across the globe will come and join with gusto, large heartedly share ever little Bong food detail, discuss recipes, the origins, how they make it at home … and if you are lucky, even invite you over for a meal!Kolkata, India Just recently the husband was in Kolkata and I mentioned Nolen Gur to him. The ‘foodie habit of asking for ingredients are specific‘  now runs quite deep, and I can take the credit for some good training. Each time Mr PAB goes anywhere I just have to mutter a few edibles that would be nice to have. Literally a million phone calls later, I know he’s coming back with his bags full of things to cook!

Nolen Gur Rice Kheer 3Winter is THE season for Nolen Gur as it is available for a very short window through the cold weather. A number of Bengali Sweets in Kolkata during this season find Nolen Gur featured within –  nolengurer shandesh, korapaaker sandesh, kanchagollas, gurer rosogolla, nolen gurer payesh. So I was really excited to receive my stash of Patali Gur {the solidified version of Nolen Gur}. Nolen Gur Rice Kheer I had my research done before hand, and the simple yet flavourful Nolen Gur Rice Kheer was being stirred the next morning. The flavours were subtle, teasing the palette very gently yet so characteristic of this jaggery! They shined through!

Nolen Gur Rice Kheer Authentic Bengali cuisine in Kolkata is easy to find, and posts a formidable list! This list is infinite, both sweet and savoury. I asked a very sweet Bong friend to list her favourites. Here we go in no particular order … Chingri malaikari {prawn curry with coconut}, Ilish bhapa {hilsa fish}, Shukto {mixed veg}, Doi maach {fish curry in yogurt}, Mishti doi {sweet curd}, Nolengurer shandesh {sandesh made with jaggery}, Aloo posto {potato with poppy seed}, Paatishapta.

Kolkata, IndiaSo you know what to order next time you visit Kolkata. Do make sure you drive around the city too. Iconic yellow ambassadors, Victoria Memorial, the flower market which begins at dawn. The colonial architecture is jaw dropping. Roads and roads of ancient classic European style buildings, roads well planned … yet sadly all but forgotten. It’s almost like you are in Europe until you wake up to the traffic and cacophony around you. If only the buildings were well maintained, if only!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

 

Soup | Quick Tomato Coconut Soup … #comfortfood #healthy #PhilipsSoupMaker

“But since soup mainly involves tossing everything in a pot and waiting, it’s one of my better dishes.”
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Quick tomato coconut soup 800Quick Tomato Coconut Soup really QUICK! This is one of my fastest soups to make, and it became insanely quicker and fuss free thanks to the Philips SoupMaker. I am not an all and out fussy soup maker. Give me a quick way home, and yes I’d love me a quick soup. This soup recipe was a happy accident while developing recipes for Saffola Fit Foodie. It became an even happier one once I got the SoupMaker which is a dream machine. Have made this soups several times over in this gadget. And happily enough, I just throw everything in and 22 minutes later piping soup is served.

Quick tomato coconut soup Fuss free yes. Fat free? Yes that too. With no added fat to the recipe, this tomato soup is earthy thanks to the robust flavours the humble winter turnip lends it. The silkiness comes with coconut milk. Coconut anything is now my friend ever since I used it in a coconut rice pudding, coconut flecked Butterscotch Blondies…and what not.

Wholewheat & Oat Butterscotch BlondiesHere in this soup, coconut milk balances the tart edginess of tomatoes, balancing this simple yet flavourful soup in perfect harmony. Ask me which my favourite soup is, and chances are that this is the one. With the ease of the SoupMaker, you never know which experiment might uncrown it though. It takes the work out of soup making. With summer approaching, the SoupMaker is all set to churn up smoothies and compotes. It does that too!!

Mustard vinaigretteThe mustard vinaigrette that topped the Baby Mustard Greens Soup is also now a firm and very versatile favourite. This quick tomato soup takes a leap to another level with a drizzle of this beautiful vinaigrette. Mustard or kasundi in the vinaigrette brings it together quite beautifully with the earthy turnip undertones. Whats not to love about flavours? This one is a hands down winner!

Philips Rice CookerSo much soup talk, and it’s time to announce the winner of the Philips Rice Cooker giveaway that Philips was sweet enough to sponsor for a reader of this blog. Congratulations Meena Kumar @ Elephants & The Coconut Trees , you are the winner of the rice cooker. I hope you enjoy it.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers, and a quick Hummus #comfortfood #simple #savoury

“Comfort food….food that reassures. Is different things to different people.”
David Tanis

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & HummusOat & Wheat Cheese Crackers, and a quick Hummus…for one of those days when you are tired, feeling under the weather and craving comforting food. For days like this only quick, simple and flavourful seriously works. For days like these, a food processor is your best friend. Nothing to beat a workhorse that does everything, takes the work out of the cooking or baking, pampers you unknowingly, and delivers like nothing else!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus I had a bunch of chickpeas left over as I boiled extra the other day while stirring up a quick chickpea curry. I always boil extra chickpeas as having some on hand offers plenty of quick rustle up food ideas. Salads for one. I made this layered savoury chickpea parfait often. Doubles up as a healthy, filling and quite delicious tiffin too!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus But I was in a mood for crackers. Just one of those strange days where I craved baking something savoury, and had an idea in my head. Working as a fit foodie makes me constantly strive for fun wholegrain alternatives to things. They got to be yum too. I used butter in these crackers, but I think you could easily use olive oil. I might throw in some ground nut meal too the next time to substitute some of the flour. Just a thought…and more ideas to work on!Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus The hummus happened as I was inspired by a quick hummus recipe that popped into my inbox not so long ago. I recall it having sesame paste as optional and it stayed in my head. There is nothing much to a hummus or chickpea dip. Just throw a bunch of ingredients into the faithful food processor, give them a whir. Balance flavours as you so desire.

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus More garlic if you are like us, more lime juice too. Plenty of extra virgin olive oil, maybe fresh herbs. Skip the smoked  paprika if you don’t have some on hand, degi mirch {kashmiri mirch} or red chili flakes. I have to say though that smoked paprika adds some fine earthy, moorish flavours to the dip…

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara There are other dips you could try. A Quark, Garlic and Chives Dip, Baba Ghanoush or Muhamarra would be wonderful here too. Else if nothing else, some nice cheese, fruit and wine will complete your cheese board.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India