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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lady Kenny /Lady Canning : A Bengali Sweetdish

Dol or Holi made me dish up few of our very old ritual sweets /savoury items. Today’s sweet dish has a peculiar name called as Lady Kenny . Legend has it that during the beginning of 19th century in Bengal, wife of the Viceroy Lord Canning had visited a suburb of Calcutta where elaborate arrangements were made to welcome her to the local Zamindar ( Landlord’s) house. Amongst many lavishly laid food items the Lady Canning liked a particular sweet very much. This sweet resembled a Gulab Jamun in its  stretched Avatar. So pleased was the Lady with the sweet that she asked for more of it and as a tribute to her , it was named after Her Excellency Lady Canning ( Lady Kenny pronounced in Bengali).
NOTE:- The Pantua and Lady Kenny are very similar, except that the latter has a raisin inside it and coated in castor sugar.

 Recipe Source: Minakshie DasGupta's The Bengal Cookbook
500 gms Channa /chenna
150 gms sooji /semolina
1 tsp Ghee 
3/4 cup Sugar
12 Raisins 
Pinch of Cardamom powder

Oil/ghee for frying

For Sugar Syrup
2 cups Sugar 
1 cup Water
2-3 Green cardamoms

In my next post I will show how to make Chenna/ chana for full cream milk. Here I have used homemade chenna. 

To proceed knead the channa, suji well with your fingertips till it turns into pliable state. Add ghee to make the dough smooth and soft. Add sugar and knead lightly for next 10 minutes. Divide the channa into approximately 12 equal portions. Roll them to form smooth round balls.

In between make sugar syrup by adding sugar and water and put the vessel on low flame. Stir constantly till the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Check the consistency of the syrup, once you get single thread consistency, remove from fire. Keep aside.
Sugar syrup....
Stuff each ball with a raisin and roll in the palms of the hands until round or oval shapes. Take a heavy wok and heat oil/ ghee. Drop 2-3 balls into the hot oil and flip in between for even frying. When they turn light brown remove from wok and place them on kitchen paper. 
Check the center's coated with castor sugar....I don't like the extra sweetness so beside applying it on 2-3 I skipped the process
 Immerse in prepared syrup and leave it for an hour to soak it fully. Now remove Lady Kenny from syrup. Sprinkle castor sugar on a piece of waxed paper and roll each one to get the white sugar coating. You can decorate these with varak, fresh grated coconut. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Kucho Nimki /Salty Diamond Fritters for HOLI Festival

The countdown to Holi ( festival of colors ) has begun in earnest in India. Already my child is stocking colors and readying the pichkaris ( water gun ) to soak all and sundry during Holi festival. This reminds me of childhood days where me and friends used to ambush behind our compound walls with water color filled balloons and pichkaris to target any passerby or any family friends visiting our home to play holi. Their surprised look when they used to get drenched with water was priceless but all of them took it in the spirit of holi. 

Also, my mom used to prepare Gujiyas, Methi Mathri, Urad Dal ke pakore, Mutton Keema, Dahi Vade and Kucho nimkis ( diamond shaped nimkis) which we used to savor during playing with colored hands or after completing the holi and taking a through shower. 

Today I am posting the nimkis as they are best tea time snack. This is must for Bijoyas get togethers.
2 cups All purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Carom seeds
1 tsp Nigella seeds (kalongi)
1 1/2 tsp Chilli powder
1/2 Baking soda
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Water to knead the dough (warm)
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Sift flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center to add oil. One by one add all the dry ingredients (not oil) and mix well with fingers. Once you have mixed oil and flour well, pour warm water a little at a time and knead the flour into a stiff dough. Knead it for 2-3 minutes more. Cover it with a moist cloth and let it rest for 1/2 hour.

Divide the dough into 2-3 equal parts. Take one portion and shape the dough into a ball and roll into a big roti /chapati.

 I prefer my set of nimkis very thin so rolled them really thin. Take a sharp knife and make crisscross cuts to make little diamonds. 

Heat oil in frying pan and ensure that oil temp is really hot. To check drop one diamond into hot oil, if it sizzles and comes up slowly it means temp is ok. Drop few diamonds into the hot oil and fry them on low temp. Flip them frequently for evenly fried nimkis or until they turn light golden in color.

 Drain thoroughly and let them cool properly. Repeat until you finish the dough. Once cool transfer these nimkis to an air tight container as they have life shell of 2-3 weeks. Whenever you want to enjoy these nimkis just sprinkle some black salt and enjoy !

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Love At First Bite @ Mad Over Donuts

 Kuch Meetha Chahiye? To phir Donuts try karo na. Well this was Mad Over Donuts advertising statergy to promote their product last year during Diwali celebrations. Yes the donut fever has caught attention in India also. 

As per Wikipedia “A doughnut or donut is a type of fried dough confectionery or dessert food. Doughnuts are popular in many countries and prepared in various forms as a sweet snack that can be homemade or purchased in bakeries, supermarkets, food stalls, and franchised specialty outlets. They are usually deep-fried from a flour dough, and shaped in rings or flattened spheres that sometimes contain fillings. Other types of batters can also be used, and various toppings and flavorings are used for different types. “ 
Why have I quoted Wikipedia is because way back in 2000 I wasn't aware of it's existence even, so I was not too much familiar with the way how donuts are prepared as in India it’s only in recent times that this snack has caught the imagination of metropolitan cities of India. Thanks to many Hollywood movies viewed in cable channels, where donuts with coffee is a regular feature, the trend to hang out in donut joints is catching up fast. 
Here Jayashree is trying her hand at DIY donut decoration
 One of the largest and well established gourmet donut producing Singapore based company in India is Mad About Donuts ( MOD) which has created a niche for itself in the F&B segment being the first concept of its kind to enter India. It’s vibrant & youthful customer friendly experience has found a strong connect with its target audience and the brand has evolved into a lifestyle choice for many, especially since they cater eggless gourmet donut is a blessing for vegetarians.

Mr Tarak Bhattacharya, Chief Operating Officer, Mad Over Donuts, during the opening of their Phoenix Market City, Bangalore, said in the release that the strategy was to focus on the ‘Love at First Bite!’ experience, which also includes the fun experience that one gets whenever the customer walked into a Mad Over Donuts’ store.  Mad Over Donuts caters to guests with an array of scrumptious Donuts and freshly brewed Coffees. The company already has more than 46 stores all over India in a span of 5 years, with expansion plans of more than double store count by the end of 2013.  

I too have recently visited this joint at Koramangala branch, Bangalore where the energy was vibrant and it’s always was buzzing with activities. Not to mention that the taste of the donuts were awesome. Their selling figures are astonishing, they sell 21,000 donuts across India per day and in Bangalore Koramangla fetches the highest number of customers and sell around 800 donuts per day ! Mr. Tarak told us that in each outlet there are 6 chefs who work round the clock and the main supply comes twice a day. First batch in the morning and the second in the evening. Depending upon the sale of first half of the day next batch comes. Since the shell life is less so each outlet tries to deliver only fresh items on the counter. Enclosing some of the pics showing the place and the vibrant donuts being served to us.
Some happy faces of customers....
 Apparently they are celebrating 5 Years in India and they are giving some attractive offers to their customers. As part of the celebrations, Mad Over Donuts has a line-up of exciting Anniversary Special Deals and activities in-store for its guests. This week-long celebration across Mad Over Donuts stores is from the 20th to the 26th of March 2013. So don't miss the opportunity to enjoy your favorite flavour of donuts. rhey have few savoury donuts too like Mama Mia to pamper your taste buds.

Date                            Anniversary Special Deals

21st March 2013     1 Donut + 1 Cappuccino @ Rs. 80/- (Save Rs. 25)
22nd March 2013    1 Donut + 1 Iced coffee @ Rs. 85/- (Save Rs. 45)
23rd March 2013     3 Donuts @ Rs. 100/- (Save Rs. 50)
24th March 2013     Buy a box of 3, 6 or 12 donuts @ half the cost (50% off)
25th March 2013     Avail 20% off on Minimum billing of Rs. 200
26th March 2013     Avail 15% off on Minimum billing of Rs. 200


We bloggers were given some goodie bags where we were spoiled for choices :-)
 Now you can go Mad over Donuts !

For more updates go and visit their site :Website:

DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid review. I visited Mad Over Donuts Koramangala store and tasted the above mentioned items I reviewed in this post.
read more.. "Love At First Bite @ Mad Over Donuts"

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shorshe Murgi: Indian Chicken Curry With Mustard Paste

Shorshe Murgi is not for weak hearts.....Yes  a gentle reminder that mustard oil is known for it's pungency, strong smell and flavour and we Bengalis can't live without it !! There are some particular dishes in which we use only mustard oil. One word of caution though, people who are averse to mustard may find it too hot to handle, you can replace with vegetable oil but taste would not be the same . But no harm in taking the challenge and once you are used to the taste then enjoy this spicy hot chicken curry.
1 kg Chicken Boneless (I have used here 750 gms)
3 tbsp Mustard oil / vegetable oil
2-3 Onions, ground to paste
4-5 Green chilies, slit
1/4 cup Mustard seeds paste (I used both black and white)
2 tbsp Curd
1 big Tomato, ground to paste
1 tbsp Ginger
2 tbsp Garlic
2 Black cardamons
4 Green cardamoms
4 Cloves
1/2 " Cinnamon stick
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2tsp Red chilly powder 
1 1/2 cups of Water
 Salt to taste

Wash chicken pieces and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Apply half of onion paste, curd, red chilli powder, salt, ginger and garlic, mix it thoroughly. 

Cover and keep it aside for half an hour. In a pressure cooker heat mustard oil on high flame, when smoky reduce the heat and add cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon stick. Let them crackle and then add remaining onion paste.

 Fry on low heat till it changes to light pink color. Add marinated chicken fry on low flame for next 10 minutes. By now the water will tend to dry up from the curd. Add green chillies, turmeric and red chilly powder and fry a little. Cover and cook on low flame and keep stirring from time to time to avoid getting it burnt from the bottom. Ideally this should take 15 minutes. When it leaves oil add tomato paste and cook on medium flame. 

When the oil floats and the chicken looks golden brown add water and boil on high flame till first boil. Close the lid of cooker and simmer on low flame for 10-12 minutes or till first whistle comes. Switch off the burner and let the steam pass off. Add mustard paste and stir well to mix thoroughly and simmer 5 more minutes. Just remember after adding mustard paste if you cook it for longer time you may get the bitter taste later. So remove from flame and garnish with green chillies. Serve hot with steamed rice.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Meeting To Remember :Kate Bracks at Whitefield Baking Company, Marriott, Whitefield

Kate Bracks
To meet Kate Bracks, the winner of 2011 season of MasterChef Australia was a dream come true. Her first visit to India, Bangalore for the launch of Whitefeild Baking Co. at Marriott
 I was elated with joy to receive the invite to attend the press meet and come face to face with my favorite contestant of season 3 in person. We  hardly missed any show of all the seasons, remote used to be kept aside for an hour as no channel hopping was allowed !
Mr. Mathew Cooper sharing a candid moment with Kate
 So the Whitefeild Baking co. was up to welcome Kate the much acclaimed 'Dessert Specialist' to showcase some of her signature dishes and some fun baking event with kids. A very elated Mr. Mathew Cooper, General Manager, Bengaluru Marriott said " It is a matter of great pride and honour for us to have Ms. Kate Bracks with us. Apart from the ambiance which is sure to win your heart, we are on a mission to capture and retain a world class flavour to everything we offer, thereby ensuring our guests savour nothing but the best".

The show began with a round applause upon seeing Kate running and waving to us. With an energetic voice she addressed the crowd. Initially for 5 minutes I found my jaw dropping seeing my favorite contestant's persona, then gathered myself :-).

Kate on her way to make muffins
 She gave us a chance to show her baking skills in front of us. It consisted of "Chocolate Hazelnut & Raspberry Muffins", which is her on her favorite dessert. While doing this she talked about a host of her own experiences, journey to become Master Chef winner, life of a Mom of 3 kids, supporting husband and her love for cooking. And we got to taste one of the softest muffins but with a light texture.
Demo with Q&A
 Later I got the opportunity to ask her some questions which she did with a smile on her face. Below are some questions that I asked her.

How is life after "The Sweet Life" ?
Kate: Sweeter than I thought. The journey itself was so beautiful. When I started writing , I never thought that the number of dessert recipes would be close to sixty four. Then I started the book with the basic dessert recipes in the beginning and gradually level up till the preparations like tarts, pies etc. for expert cooks.

What was your way to handle pressure during Master Chef Australia?
Kate: Although I had felt pressure and there was some nervous energy, I kept reminding myself that it was all about food and it's just a contest and not about life and death. As a Mom of three kids I could not sleep one night and next day I had to be up and running. It was no different in Master Chef Australia, so my being a Mom really helped.

Tell us more about your B&B ( Bed and Breakfast ) project started in your hometown Orange in Australia?
Kate: We have a small Farm in the outskirts of my hometown , Orange where I hope to start B&B one day. This is a project I would to see materialize.However to start it now and make it do well I need to stay away from my kids for a longer period, which I am not able to sacrifice right now. As of now B&B can wait right now since my top priority is to be with my kids.

After Master Chef win every time you cook has the expectation been raised to such a level that your day to day home cooking seems to be affected?
Kate: As far as my husband and kids are concerned, they still love the same way that I used to cook before Masterchef. However, within myself I do feel a little awkward if the food I cook for may family is not up to my expectations.So not to a great extent.

What is your favourie food which you would like someone else to cook for you?
Kate : It would be lamb cutlets which I can't get past. Also,  I like to have roasted veggies with herbs.I like fresh herbs. So that's about it.

During Master Chef contest, how did your family support you as you were away from home for such a long time?
Kate: Me and my husband had closely watched Master Chef Season 1 & 2. So, he insisted that I participate in the third season and showcase my inherent passion that is cooking. Although, I was hesitant since I had small children and leaving them for such a long time was a tough ask. However , my husband reassured me that he would take care of them and asked me not to worry about them and the key word was even single parents can raise children on their own. This determination of his convinced me to participate in the contest with a free mind. Moreover , the rule provided us to call our families twice a week and families could visit you for a limited period within the seven months also helped a lot.

How's your experience during the launch of Whitefield Baking Company ( WBC ) in Marriott Bengaluru Whitefield?
Kate: Being an admirer of Marriott's excellent service to it's patrons in terms of luxury, comfort and exquisitely delicious food, it's my please to be present here today. I myself have spent a lot of time at WBC and I am amazed to see the the wide range of gourmet delights at the outlet where one can choose what suits their palate. It's the new one stop destination of India's "Silicon Valley".
Thank you Kate for being so patient and answering my questions.
Here are some pictures of the press meet held in Marriott Hotel.....
Kate's first book "The Sweet Life"

Freshly baked....
Wishing tons of good luck to Kate And Mathew for newly launched WBC. 

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Buttermilk Fried Onion Rings

Recently I got a reality check when a renowned school asked a five and a half year old child was asked to write a one and a half hours of exam consisting of 3 subjects( Math, English and Hindi to be specific). I said to myself what kind of future we are presenting to our children where from such a tender age a child is subjected to academics only and no sports and co-curricular activities? However, I am hopeful that considering the information age we live in which informs us about live cases about ill effects of over burdening the child with books , many parents have started to raise their voice and sooner or later schools would have no alternative but to focus on overall development of the children. It does not help it if all the children are forced to become either doctors or engineers , throttling their inherent talents. If a child is allowed to develop happily and in a free state in primary stage, only then he/she would harness his/her talent and grow as a responsible citizen.

Just wanted to let you know all about my perspective about Indian Education System in India. By the way , posting onion rings recipe just in case you have guests arriving in evening and want to keep them busy with these munchy onion rings. Buttermilk in this batter adds a unique flavor in these onion rings. Extremely addictive and very easy to prepare also.
Source: Tarla Dalal's Finger Foos for Kids
1 cups All purpose flour
4 Onions (almost of same size) and cut into rings
1 tsp Cornflour
1 cup Buttermilk*
A pinch of soda
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper powder
1 tsp Chat masala
2 tbsp finely chopped Coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

* To make buttermilk take a cup of milk and add 1 tbsp vinegar and let this sit for 5 minutes. Your homemade buttermilk is ready !!! Combine flour, cornflour, pepper powder, soda, salt in a large bowl and mix well to make smooth lump free batter. 

The batter should be of pouring consistency. Heat oil in a deep frying pan and test the oil temperature by first  dropping an onion ring into the hot oil, it should bubble straight away. Now dip the onion rings in the prepared batter and drop 5-6 onion rings at a time (don't over crowd the pan) and fry until golden. Drain on absorbant paper, sprinkle a little chaat masala over it and toss well. Serve immediately with tomato ketchup

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Pistachio Sandesh / Pista Sondesh : A Bengali Sweet

Sandesh/ Sondesh ( Sweet with cottage cheese) and a Bengali Foodie both complement each other.  There is not a single instance where you visit a Bengali’s house during evening and you are not offered a plate of shandesh. Moreover, we Bengalis are known for having a sweet tooth ( another reason why Bengali language is adjudged as the Sweetest language by UNESCO). So my dear friends indulge in a variety of sandeshes to your heart’s fill and you won’t at all regret it. I have added pistachio powder to chenna to make it flavored one.

2 Ltr Full cream Milk
2 tbsp Lemon juice
3/4 cup Sugar(powdered) {you can adjust the sweetness }
1/2 cup Pistachio powder
1 tsp Rose water
1 tsp Cardamom powder 
2-3 green Color drops is optional.(I added here nice color)
Few strands of Saffron for decoration
Few Pistachios for decoration

To make chenna first, take a pan and bring the milk to boil on low flame. Stir occasionally to avoid getting scorch from bottom. Then add lemon juice and milk will start to curdle. This is called cottage cheese or paneer / chenna. Once you see water turning slight green turn off the heat and drain the water through a cheese cloth. Now wash the chenna under running water to wash off the lemon flavor. Do not squeeze out the excess water with your hand just tie the sides of cheese cloth together and hang to enable the water to drain away.

Knead chenna well with your finger tips and knead until the cracks on chena starts to disappear. And the chenna becomes smooth. Now add sugar, saffron strands, pista powder, rose water, cardamom powder and again knead well. The art lies in kneading, the more you knead the less grainy texture at the end.

Now take a non stick pan and add this mixture and fry on low heat. Stir continuously till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Leave this mixture for a minute to cool and then take a little mixture in your hand and roll it into a small ball or you can design them beautifully by Sandesh molds. Decorate the sandesh with some chopped pistanchios and saffron strands.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vegetable Pulao In Rice Cooker /How To Use a Rice Cooker

It is needless to say that rice is a permanent cereal for most people in the world. However, it's consumption is more in the Asian continent. Within the passage of time the variety of recipes and method of preparation of rice have evolved. However, one of the greatest innovation in cooking rice based dishes was done by Toshiba Corporation , Japan who introduced Rice Cookers. Later it was joined in the market by other competitors. It revolutionized the way the rice being cooked from conventional pots on gas or coal to electrified method. This not only reduced the time but also added to the convenience by doing away with disposing of the excess starch. Now, it also meant that you could include veggies, soyabean etc. in the cooker and prepare a pulao for added taste. It has been more than a decade since I started using rice cooker and trust me till date it always performed to my satisfaction. 

Today I am posting Vegetable Pulao in Rice Cooker with just 2 tbsp Ghee. For the best results I have found that when I cooked rice with the same soaking water it yields me the best aromatic grains of basmati rice ever to come out of my kitchen ! 
What else your rice cooker can do :- 
1) I prepare steamed dumplings, momos....Yes you heard me right in that same rice cooker  just put water into the bottom and place the dumplings in the steamer basket (it is a separate item so doesn't come with all rice cooker brands).

2)Steaming vegetables takes less effort, only thing is keep an eye on timer as rice cooker boils water faster than bringing water to a boil in a stove pot. Wghcih eventually saves time and provides good results. The rice cooker turns off the heat automatically to prevent burning the rice or anything  that may scorch inside the cooker.

3) You can also make soups in it.  If rice cooker have been given enough water and time it will create long simered dishes without scorching or boiling over. 

Today's Rice Cookers have a feature "keep warm" with the automatically shut off feature. To help you more most Rice Cookers come up with recipe books so you can know what else you can do except cooking rice in it !!  

2 cups Basmati rice
1 cup Green peas
3/4 cup chopped French Beans
3/4 cup chopped Carrot
1 " Cinnamon stick
5-6 Black pepper balls
3-4 Cloves
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp Biryani masala powder
2 tbsp Ghee
5 cups of Water (rice:water proportion should be double like here we have taken 2 cups rice so 4 +1 cup water)
Salt to taste

Pour the measured rice into a bowl and add plenty of water and stir the rice in circles with your fingers to loosen the starches. Pour the starchy water down the drain and rinse two more times with fresh water till the water is almost clear. Now soak the rice with double amount +1 cup extra water and let this sit for almost 20 minutes. For the precise measurement use measuring cups later when you become an expert you can reply on an eyeball measurement !

Keep ready your rice cooker by placing the separator plate at the bottom(see above pic where I am showing). Add rice (except water), all the vegetables, all the raw spices and bay leaves. 

Mix lightly with a long spatula. Add the water which was used for soaking, ghee, biryani masala powder and salt. 

Stir thoroughly. Close the lid of rice cooker (make sure the lid is firmly fitted) and switch on the button.

 Cooking time will depend on the rice quantity and quality. So try not to open the lid to see the progress in between. One or two times is ok to check. Again don't leave the lid open for too long while checking as it may bring down the inside temperature. 
The steamy rice after I opened the lid...
  Once the rice is cooked automatically it will turn "warm" mode from "cooking".Also a word of recommendation, if you watch closely you would notice that there is a keep warm light which automatically goes on once the rice is fully cooked ( pic below)

 It is required not to take out rice for immediate serving rather than to wait for 10-15 minutes in the keep warm  mode so that the excess steam is vented out. This would ensure that the rice is not sticky and soggy and the grains are distinctly separated from each other. Enjoy with your choice of curry.
So now with above explanation take up this challenge and hone your skills to make perfectly cooked rice in Electric Rice Cooker. Also there is a misconception that you could only prepare rice with the rice cooker. On the contrary there are a host of curries and pulses that could be cooked and I could vouch for the fact that it tastes as good as prepared in Wok or Pressure cookers. 

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