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Chicken Skewers/Grilled Chicken Skewers/ Grilled chicken




This is my fourth week into low carb diet. Well, I thought I would fail on the first week or just cheat my way. But I surprised myself. I didn’t cheat and I am not craving for my ‘Bhat’ (Boiled rice in Bengali) which is something to celebrate.
Although I love eating chicken a lot but chicken, fish and high fat is what I am able to eat in this diet: I need something new and easy, to avoid boredom.  I am experimenting and making something new almost all night. So far so good.


I often make Chicken Skewers -- we all love it and my daughter N loves it too. I tweak the marinate each time. This time I added sour cream and cheese to marinate the chicken to make it high fat. Hope this is complaint for someone following similar diet but I am not expert. Hence do not go by me. But hey, you are welcome to try the recipe anyway.


If you are looking for something easy and quick and can be made with whatever you have in pantry then you might want to try this one.
Enjoy !   



Ingredients:
500gms chicken thigh cut into small cubes
3 tablespoon sour cream or yoghurt  
2 table spoon of shredded cheddar (do not need if you don’t want to)
1 table to cut coriander leaf
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 table spoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon of red chilli powder
½ teaspoon English mustard paste
1 teaspoon of chat masala
2 table spoon avocado oil (or any oil you like, adjust the amount too)
Salt to taste
Green leaf salad to serve on side
Sliced red onion to serve on side
Skewers (I have iron ones, you can use bamboo too)



Method:
1.       Wash the chicken and drain water properly
2.       Mix all the ingredients  together with the chicken ( except of salad leaf  and onion of course)
3.       Marinate for 20mins maybe. By the way I didn’t marinate is at all. It still came very soft and nice
4.       Heat the grill or oven should do at 180c ( I have a fan oven )
5.       Arrange the chicken cubes on the skewers ( like the picture)
6.        Place the chicken skewers on grill pan and grill them. You can also roast them in oven
7.       Grill both sides by turning half way through. Mine is little over cooked as I forgot to take them out on time. But you can take them out when both side is nicely brown or caramelised  
8.       If you see the skewers the becoming dry or getting burnt, baste them with spices from the left over marinate as often as needed during the grilling process

9.       Serve with salad or pitta or as finger food in a party. 



Chicken Pakora/Tea time snacks-Chicken Pakora /Toddler snacks/ Bengali Chicken Pakora




It is a gloomy day in London. Sometime weather plays up with my mood and I get very emotional. N-my daughter did not want to go to her childminder’s this morning. She was busy playing with Pritha (a family friend) and I was getting late. At the same time I understood her not wanting to go at all: she hardly gets any one at home other than us. It is a lonely country. Again her friends are her only family beyond us I guess. Like yesterday she could not wait to go -she wanted to show off her sunglasses to Eva. I feel sad for my daughter sometime- leaving her alone, all day. Her staying away from me for so long in the day adds to the gloominess of my heart. Not always but some days-Today.
I get into the train after dropping N. Mind it once she reached the door, she was kin to go in and then didn’t look back to say me bye or wait for me to kiss her. It breaks my heart! She is already leaving the nest.

I get into the train with mix feeling. Gloominess, anticipated tiredness of 2 hour journey and the suffocation from overcrowding in train- I try to avoid everything and close my eye. I do that every day (my friend Archi thinks that I do not get to meet any handsome man to flirt on the train as I close my eyes. And that I should not do that. I keep that in mind always and promise to look around. So far badly unsuccessful in keeping my eyes open though)

I almost sleep walk through my station to train to Euston to Victoria line platform. I get to seat! Yes, I did get a seat. And I close my eyes again. When I open I see this face of a child on the billboard tears rolling down, and oxygen pipe from nose-staring at me, directly. It is an ad for an organisation appealing for donation for preventing childhood cancer. I could not hold myself. I tried to look away, tried to not think about it but all I can do is stare at the child. Almost ready to cry. I feel the pain in my heart, almost breathless. The feeling- I cannot express what it was- mixture of helplessness, pain-for the child and all children and the parents who has to go through so much of hardship every day. It is not just diseases but water, winter, snow, war, food, abuse, homelessness and abandonment and what not our children endure. Yes our children- I fail to differentiate my child with others. Do not know how I will react in reality but for now in my heart I cannot. I embrace my baby my N in my mind -no child or parents should ever have to  go through such pain.

And then suddenly my mind goes off to mother’s day. And I think about my mother and think about calling her. Maybe I never give her enough credit for what she has contributed to my life. And then I think about me. As a mother I have become a better person. I will give that to myself. I was never a bad person. I have always been generous and a giver. Yes I like me.  But motherhood also made me patience, rational, calm, tolerant and open as a person. I am able to look outside and see the beauty in every small thing around like a Lego house which reaches till sky, pink cloud, time out to the birdy for not listening to come to the balcony for breakfast or the mama cat and daddy dog family whose child is a pig!

And I smile and I look up to see a good looking man staring at me -smiling. Nah…. I lied! It would be too dramatic for my standard too (Archi, I can see her rolling eyes reading this and of course those moral police might think of me as such a character)  

I smile and look up to see that I reached Brixton. Well the alternative is not too bad actually. I do not feel that gloomy anymore.

Mother’s day is on Sunday in this part of world.  I love these days of celebration as long as they do not involve spending huge amount on gifts. But just a tiny bit   of pampering doesn’t hurt, doesn’t it.
Happy mother’s day to every one: to a mother, all those who feel like a mother and those who doesn’t. I will celebrate the day and will make some cake for myself. I always call my ma, almost every day. But will of course call her on Sunday –she loves all these special days. I like what makes her happy.

I know many of you will like to celebrate the day with your mother and your child’s mother or anyone actually. Hence an easy and Laid-back recipe for the day so that you can you easily cook up something special to go with a cuppa without really spending a lot of time in kitchen.

Recipe for chicken Pakora




Ingredients
500 Boneless chickens, I used chicken thighs
2 finely chopped red onion (large)
 Finely chopped green chillies (as per your taste)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon Chaat masala
2 tablespoon gram flour (Besan, use more if you feel that the pakora mix is not binding well. Binding will depend on hydration level of the mixture)
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry


Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients together except the oil with chicken.
2. Heat oil and deep fry on medium heat. The colour should be a light golden brown.
3. Serve hot.

Tips: you can fry a few to check for level of salt and spice and add more salt/ spice/chilli depending on your taste


Orange Cake/ Tea cake-Orange cake



I love the smell of fresh orange and the sweetness of the fruit.  But with work and grind of life I never get a chance to eat them as much as would like to. Some of them are sitting on my dining table right now.  A friend is visiting us today: my daughter’s play dates to be precise – making the cake for them to serve with a cuppa.




Now my friend asked me a very interesting question “is the cake healthy?”  Well it is a homemade cake and I know I have not used any chemicals or preservative to it- that’s as healthier as it could get!
I actually get a lot of question on healthy cake. Do you make healthy cake? So I ask back “what are you looking for in a healthy cake?”

Mostly the answer is no butter, whole wheat, less sugar or do you use yoghurt to make it healthy?

Everyone who asks for a healthy cake seems to have their own take on the subject!!!!  Some bakers in fact advertise for healthy cake and add that cakes made with oil and yoghurt and whole wheat are healthy cake. Or we use cane sugar not white sugar to make healthier cake.
I am no expert on the matter. But as a mother to a three year old and a perpetual over weight person myself and partner of another in the same category,  I am careful  of what I eat and what I bake.  And I have my own theory on healthy cake.

Here is MY take on so called HEALTHY cake:
·        No cake is healthy cake. It is a treat for once in a while eating hence not to be confused with REAL food.  Not an alternative to vegetables, fruits, meat, rice,pasta, legumes etc
·         No child/ adult should not be given a treat  of cake just for eating/finishing  lunch or dinner or doing a job- good or bad
·         Treats are for birthdays, Christmas, holidays or any special day. Or just like day (which basically means it doesn’t or isn’t  happening 7 days in a week right!!!! )
·         Sugar is sugar: cane sugar, jaggery , brown sugar, unrefined sugar , palm sugar, coconut sugar : at the end of the day  all are sugar and works almost in the same way once in the blood with slight variation in breaking time in blood stream. White sugar is more refined and doesn’t have any minerals left, cane sugar, jaggery or any other form of unrefined sugar will have some minerals in them. But is the health benefit of amount of mineral found in unrefined sugar surpasses the real issue with having too much sugar. I do not think so!
·         Butter or oil based cakes: Now an oil based cake is much softer than a butter cake just because in cold weather butter in the cake solidifies making the cake harder. Oil doesn’t do that hence the cake remains moist even after being in the fridge for a long time.  Other than that butter is actually healthier option than vegetable fat. There are huge researches on them on internet. Read up if you’re really interested.
·         Butter cream alternative: lot of bakers proclaim they make butter less buttercream. My question is if there is no butter how you are making buttercream. That’s not buttercream that’s just any other frosting.  Come on get real! And if one is not using butter for butter cream what are they using: vegetable fat! Way more unhealthy then butter. Coconut cream is a good alternative for using ganache  if one is vegan
·         Using yoghurt in cake to make it healthy: hell ya! No! Yoghurt is and has been in use to make eggless and/or to make really moist cake. One can  also use aquafaba (water from chickpea) which  is a great alternative to eggs or yoghurt for vegan option. I am very fond of egg and yoghurt combination is a cake. But nothing new about the use really!
·         Use of alternative grains like whole wheat, ragi, semolina or almond flour. Any day better option than refined flour.  Almond cake taste wonderful. But the most important thing:  it is in the mind. The taste of ragi cake or any alternative flour takes time. They are actually very lovely. I make a ragi cake for my daughter which she hates but I love! It takes time to get used to it. But when you will eat cake only maybe once in a month or maybe twice then why bother with a ragi cake? And then when you constantly buy cake from Tesco or any supermarket or from high street shop which are full of chemical, vegetable fat, hydrogenated fat :  why bother about a ragi/or alternative flour? Why bother going healthy just on the birthday? What is the rational? Fashion statement? To hell with it! by the way ragi pan cakes are awesome too but takes time getting used to it and sometime gives tummy problem so use carefully. And why bother about goodness of ragi while eating so much sugar! Instead why not get used to eating ragi porridge as family. It is a great source of fibre and iron!
Well that’s my theory. Eat cake once in a while not as regular food: it is full of sugar and empty calorie. It fills up a child’s tummy leaving so space for real food. As long as one is eating cakes biscuits etc as treats you can have just as they are; this is what I call: having your cake and eat it too!

Enough gyan for a day! Now the real matter. The recipe for the orange cake. I have taken the recipe from a fellow baker Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kicthen. I followed the recipe without any change. When I made the second time I changed the recipe but didn’t take note. I will update the changes soon.


It is a delicious cake and very nice with tea. It  taste almost like a pound cake with smell of fresh orange and the zest of orange adds a texture to the cake.

Hope you like it!


Ingredients
300g granulated sugar
4 eggs
240ml olive oil ( vegetable oil)
Zest of 2 oranges
240ml orange juice
350g all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoon (10g) baking powder
For finishing the cake
120ml orange juice
20g Powdered sugar



Method:
  • ·         Preheat oven to 160⁰Grease a bund pan. You can use loaf tin as well or any 9 inch cake pan
  • ·         In a bowl, whisk together, eggs, granulated sugar, oil, orange zest and orange juice until incorporated.
  • ·         In another bowl mix flour, baking powder and mix well
  • ·         then add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients  mixture until combined.
  • ·         Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is golden in color and tooth picks comes out clean when it is inserted.
  • ·          To finish the cake boil orange juice with sugar till they reach a thick consistency.
  • ·         Pour the orange drizzle on the cake to keep it moist.
  • ·         Serve with a cuppa



Easy bread Pizza/ Baked Cheese ring/ Finger food for kids party/Kids tiffin




Ever since my daughter started to go to preschool, I am making these snacks more often. N is not a good eater but whenever she eats she eats healthy food. She loves broccoli and carrot and loves cheese. Hence bread pizza is something I make very often. But I just spread all the toppings on a slice of bread (mainly homemade whole wheat) and bake it. She gets her needed carb, protein and veggies

Harini Mukundan, I hope I am writing her name correctly, I came across her recipe of cheese wheels recently in one of the Facebook groups (wish I remembered as would love to follow her). I loved her idea of making the pizza in round shape. They looked so beautiful. She is also a great photographer.

I kept my recipe and changed the shape. Loved the outcome. Most importantly it was a big hit with both my children: the really big one and the really small one.

I made them child friendly just as most of the food in my home. But you can add chilli flakes, boiled egg, scrambled eggs, strips of chicken or even boneless fried fish. Let your imagination fly.

Please give this easy recipe a try, try as snack, party finger food or kids school snacks. I would love to know how it turned. Please tag me, share on my facebook page or share here.

Hope you enjoy making these Breas pizza.



Ingredients

1 pack of brown bread (I had 16 slices)
1 bowl chopped vegetable (I used capsicum, carrot, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet corn and onion)
½ small bowl shredded cheddar (or any cheese or even paneer)
4 tablespoons grated cheese
¼ tsp black paper power
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
Salt as per taste
Enough butter for spreading on the bread

  
Instructions


·        Take the bread slices in even number as they will have to be joined together
·        Using a big round cookie cutter or a sharp lid cut out circles from each bread slice
·        Now take half the big round slices and cut out little bit smaller circles using a small cookie cutter. Like making bread ring
·        For each pizza we need a big bread disk and a ring of same size
·        Set aside the cut breads
·         Now take all the chopped vegetables in a mixing bowl
·         Add cheese, ketchup, paper, paneer if using   and mix well
·         Now spread enough butter on the big round bread disk and the ring
·         Preheat oven at 180C. Take a baking tray and arrange the big bread discs
·         Place the bread ring on each disc. buttered side down so that they stick to one another
·         Now fill the centre with the prepared vegetable cheese filling

·         


Bake in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes. If you want very crispy cheese rings you can bake them for little longer. Yu can also brush them with little more butter in case they are not turning brown. But careful not to burn them
·        Serve them as snacks, weekend breakfast or school tiffin for chanapona ( kids)



Hot Milk Cake/ Vanilla Cake/Sponge Cake / Cake for kids/ School tiffin Idea




This is one of the yummies cake I have had in a long time. Usually I do not share my cake recipes as they are ‘really mine’ which I come up after many trials and errors. I keep them for ‘Magic in the oven’

But this recipe is not my. This is the recipe of one of my baker friends Moumita Kundu Malla who shared the recipe with all of us. I have tried many hot milk cake and I also have my own recipe but this one IS the perfect one. This is a keeper and I will endlessly now make it. By the way you can also make cupcakes out of the batter.

We all learn from each and it is a great honour to be able to learn and make a cake/recipe made by someone whom you look up to. But it is also important to acknowledge the original source of inspiration. It is lovely to be followed, it is almost flattering actually. But it is also great source of discomfort and irritation when someone tail you, taking away every creativity, originality without any acknowledgement.

I wish I could tag Moumita Kundu Malla here but I do not know how to do it.

I made little changes like reduced the sugar mixed whole wheat with All-purpose flour but the result was still extremely good.  But I will suggest that you try the original recipe below first before making adjustment.

Please try this one. This is truly a keeper! The recipe is from taken from Moumita Kundu Malla to the t



Ingredient:  

1.5 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp Baking powder
1 pinch Baking soda
1 cup Granulated Sugar ( I changed and used ½ cup  but please try the original before changing then you will know what you want to change)
2 Eggs  (Vegetarians people can add 1/3 cup beaten yogurt or 100 ml condensed milk instead of using eggs )
3/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Butter (I used 50gm)
2 tsp Vanilla Essence 

Method:
·        Preheat the oven to 160 degree for 10 minutes.
·        Grease a medium sized cake pan with butter ( I used 6 inch hence which was small hence the dome size cake)
·        Start by combining the milk and butter in a small saucepan.
·        Heat this mixture on low flame until the butter has melted (make sure do not boil the milk butter mixture, just heat )
·        Add vanilla essence and mix.
·        Pour the mixture in a heatproof bowl.
·        Take another bowl, add eggs (beaten yogurt if using) and sugar mix them very well until become a creamy texture.
·        Add flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and mix well.
·        Add the milk butter mixture to the egg mixture slowly and beat them until combined.
·        Gradually add flour mixture slowly to the liquid mixture, then fold with spatula until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined.
·        Pour the batter in the greased pan,tap the pan a couple of times so the batter is spread evenly and there are no air bubbles.
·        Bake at 160 degree C for about 40 minutes, or insert a toothpick, if inserted toothpick comes out clean then your cake is ready.


Narkal- Doi- shorshe Ilish Bhapa/ Steamed Hilsa in Coconut -mustard-yogurt gravy/Ilish Bhape




I had a lot of thing in mind to write about. But my daughter is going to be home soon. And I want to be with her when she is back from her child minder. Dilemma of a working mother.
But hay! I am not leaving you high and dry . Here is the recipe for one of the best fish on earth. Ilish or Hisla. The fish no Bengali can resist. The silver shiny fish is the king of all. Taste, texture, and flavour nothing compares to it. So for today’s special dinner, I made a very simple but traditional hilsa recipe, Narkal- Doi- shorshe Ilish Bhapa/ Steamed Hilsa in Coconut -mustard-yogurt gravy

The ingredients are very simple and easily available. Fresher the fish, tastier will be the dish. but living in UK, i had to do with frozen one, which didn't taste bad either. The recipe calls for black and white mustard paste. To make black and white mustard paste, soak the mustard seeds for at least an hour in water and grind with a pinch of salt and green chilies.

Ingredients
6 pieces Ilish/Hilsa Fish
4 tbsp Mustard (mix yellow & black mustard seeds in equal proportion)
100 gm Fresh Yogurt
½ cup grated coconuts
4 table spoon Mustard oil (I was extra generous. I love the smell of mustard oil)
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Few slit green chilies (as per taste)
Method
1.     Soak the mustard seed for 1 hour ( 20 mins minimum)
2.     Mix green chilli, mustard seeds and coconut together
3.     Make a paste in the blender
4.     Immediately pour the mixture and add some salt (you can blend it with salt. I avoid adding salt in the machine )
5.     Beat the yogurt till smooth and mix it with the mustard mixture.
6.     Mix turmeric with the mustard and yoghurt mixture
7.     Add half the oil with the above spice paste
8.     Rub  little mustard oil and salt on the fish
9.     Pour the spice mix on the fish and marinate is well
10.  Rub little oil on a frying pan
11.   Arrange the fish and pour the entire Coconut -mustard-yogurt masala paste on them
12.   Sprinkle some more mustard oil and arrange some more green chilli for aroma
13.   Now cover the pan and cook it on very low flame
14.   Cook for 15/20 mins or till oil separates.

15.   Serve with boiled rice and Gondhoraj lebu! 

Bengali Gota Peyanj e Shada Mutton Korma/ Mutton Korma with whole Onion/ Mutton Korma/ Bangladeshi Mutton korma with shallot



It is 5 in the morning and I am wide awake. My body is still on Kolkata time zone. Not a bad thing actually. I get to have my morning cuppa peacefully before the little one is up and demands every second of my time. Some time I actually like it. A little time to myself. I work almost 24 hours. Yes, you read it correct! 24 hours. Even when I sleep I work as I still breastfeed my little one. Throughout the night I keep checking if her small body is covered properly, if she doesn’t stir for an hour I check if she is breathing alright, I touch her face to see that her log hairs which she refuges to cut are not covering her eyes and then I touch her to feel her body against mine, to smell her body! And then there is the older baby boy to look after who is always out of duvet. This is all while I am sleeping.

I went on a mental health training few months back. There was one section on ‘looking after self’. One exercise to start the section was to list the works/things/activities we have done from waking up till we came inside the training room at 9am. I listed 28 activities or work between 6am to 9am. Let’s not even go in to the work that I do rest of the day. You get the picture I assume about my day.
I work reduced hours on Thursday. I get two hours of free time to myself. I zealously keep that time to me, to spend just the way I want to. I don’t take calls, I don’t go online, I do not meet anyone, I hate R coming back from work early to spend that time with me and I do not pick my dotty early. That is my time to spend just the way I want with myself. And no, I have no guilt feeling about it. I love it. I deserve it. And I am worth it and more!

Is there any one like me? I am sure there are! Would love to know about your’ my time’?  What do you do with your ‘ my time’

I am using my morning ‘my time ‘to write this recipe which has been sitting on my hard drive for two months now. Again a recipe from my mother’s kitchen. Very easy to make, takes very few ingredients and I received some amazing review about the recipe from two people who ordered it from me.  I will recommend that you give this recipe a change -at least once. And if you are not too inclined to cooking I can always cook for you.



Here is the recipe for Gota Peyanj e  Shada Mutton Korma/ Mutton Korma with whole Onion/ Mutton Korma/ Bangladeshi Mutton korma with shallot. I used potato so that my dotty can eat. but it is not actually part of the recipe.


Ingredients:

1kg Mutton
1/2 cup white Onion paste (white onion is used to keep the colour white/creamish of the dish, but you can use red too. Should not change the taste really)
1 and ½ cup thinly sliced white onion
1 tbsp Garlic paste
1 tbsp Ginger paste
15/20 small onion whole (shallots can be used as well)
1/2 cup white oil
1/4 cup sour yoghurt
1/4 cup sweet yoghurt (I used homemade sweet yoghurt. Otherwise use sugar with yoghurt as per your taste)
6/7 cardamom
1 inch long cinnamon
1/2 tsp white pepper powder (use black if that’s what you have at home)
1 tsp rose water (optional)
1/4  cup ghee ( optional. I did not use it but my mother did and she thinks that it make a lot of difference in taste. I worry about my heart hence do not use ghee in my cooking. I am all for good food with less grease, well  as much as possible)
1 tbsp lemon juice
4/5 green chilli (I used but my mother recipe doesn’t have chilli)
Salt as per taste




Method:
1.       Wash the mutton and marinate it with ginger, garlic , salt and lemon juice
2.       Keep it aside in fridge for 4/5 hours, if possible over night
3.       Heat oil and ghee ( if using) in a heavy bottom pan
4.       Fry the sliced onion till they are brown
5.       Add the marinated mutton to the fried onion and slow cook till mutton is little tender. Make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. It should not be more that 10/15 mins
6.       Add the onion paste and slow cook the mutton. Sprinkle water ( very very little) in case the mutton is sticking at the bottom of the pan
7.       Add sour and sweet yoghurt, cinnamon and cardamom and slow cook ( kosha or bhuna process, if you know what I mean by slow cooking)
8.       Add little water and cook it till mutton is tender
9.       Add rose water ( optional) and green chillies (optional)
10.   Skin the white small onions and add to the mutton. Cook till they are tender yet retains shape
11.   Serve with white pulao or rice
12.   This dish compliments a dinner/lunch where the menu has a spicy item, as this is mild, aromatic and textured.  


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