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MANGO LASSI

Summer is GONE. Its time for those chilly mornings and even chillier evenings.I am already, 'Missing the Sunshine on my Shoulders.' Luckily I stay in a place which has equally Sunny Summers and Cold Winters.So I should not be cribbing much.  Time for FALL. The play of colors on the foliage all around is a treat for sure, but I am a Summer baby. I would prefer the colors of Fresh mangoes. The red or green skin, the golden yellow flesh is a better alternative than red and yellow leaves all around.With Summer gone, with it, are gone all the Summer Coolers. I try to remind myself that with Falls and Winter, comes in the season of Mulled Wine. But then I remember, in my condition, am alcohol free. So I lust a bit more about the Virgin Summer Coolers more so now. The desi me shouts out for MANGO LASSI. A yogurt based cooler infused with fresh mangoes and a dash of honey and milk. Thick and decadent. Slurp-i-licious !!


Lassi is a very popular North Indian beverage, which has a Pan-Indian presence. Most corners in India will serve up their version of Lassi. Road trips in India, meant stopping at roadside Dhabas(small shacks along the highways, selling food)  and digging into Kaali daal and Tandoori rotis,washing it all down with  a tall glass of sweet and salty lassi. The Mango Lassi is a fancier version of the simple lassi, and is a common feature at the more urbane eateries. Kansas City's Indian restaurants serve a disgusting version of Mango Lassi. Even the grocery stores, with a chat counter, serve it up. The craze is here for sure, but the taste is not. Dont know what exactly do they put in it. I am sure that they never use fresh mangoes in their version of Mango Lassi. Or not even Frozen ones. I guess they just use a cheap Mango Pulp or Mango extract, which has lived out its Expiry Date. Why would it taste so card-boardy otherwise. I have ordered Mango Lassi at all the desi restaurants here, and could not go beyond the first sip. So during the Mango season, I try and whip up some for the evenings, quite so often. Recently walked into the local grocery store, and found a batch of late Mangoes, from Mexico. Voila. Some more Mango Lassi days. Mango Lassi is a cooler which does not require much of bartending skills. No juggling needed, no hoops to jump through. Plain Yoghurt, along with diced and peeled fresh mangoes, creates magic, when pulsed with a dash of milk. Always take a bit of the mango, before you start pulsing it down. More often than not, you will need a sweetener. I go fancy and add in some honey and just a little bit of sea salt. It just acts a kicker. I am tempted to even add in some cayenne Pepper next time I churn some. Its all about using all the cocktail making skills, to jazz up a traditional drink.Always serve it on the rocks.  Now when you look at the picture below, don't you think that itsa nice play of colors on the plate?! I would prefer it to Fall Colors any day.



MANGO LASSI: 

Ingredients: 
Mango: 1 or 2(depending on the size): Peeled, de-seeded and chopped
Plain Yogurt: 1 cup . Try and use cold yogurt.
Honey: 1 tbsp or less, depending on the sweetness of the mangoes.
Milk: to thin out the lassi, if it gets too thick. Usually adding a few drops, when the food processor is pulsing, is a good idea.
Sea Salt: A pinch

For the Garnish: 
A Sprig of Fresh Mint(which I did not have)
or some fresh Fruit slices(I used some grapes)

Procedure: 
In a blender/juicer/food processor, add in the yogurt, honey, and chopped mangoes. Give it a few pulses.

Check the density of the lassi and its sweetness. If its too thick to be poured out, then add in some cold milk, and pulse it again.

Serve it on the rocks in some Champagne Flutes. Add in  half a pinch of sea salt in each glass. Garnish with fresh fruits or mint and serve.

You can also make it in advance and chill it for a party. Do not add the ice, if you do not mean to have it just after you have churned it up, as that might dilute the Lassi.

Bon Appetit !!



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Uchhe Bhaja: Crispy Fried Bitter Gourd

Summer in India brings forth many memories of growing up years. A not too happy memory revolves around eating Uchhe Bhaja(Crispy Fried Bitter Gourd) and Neem Pata Bhaja with bhaat, as a first course for lunch.  Ma was absoloutely insistent that we have some bitter fry every alternate day almost. No kid ever likes their greens, and when that green is bitter, that is a big pain for that kid. To think of it, now I pick up bitter gourds myself, when I am out vegetable shopping, and make that quite often, as a first course for weekend lunches. How we change from our childhood years. Making and enjoying food, we somehow could not even tolerate as kids.  Hubby has a similar story with bitter gourd, and even he asks for bitter gourd, if it has not been made for some time. His only point, is that the bitter gourd should be thinly sliced and crispy fried. The man feels, that bitter gourd loses some of its Bitter-ness when its crispy fried like this. I never thought of that. I just happen to like it, hence I make it for both of us. Today when I shared some pictures of Uchhe Bhaja, on my page, my blogger friend Progna, told me , that her husband also loves crispy fried Uchhe Bhaja and calls them ,"Uchhe Chips !" Now that is a catchy name for something as mundane as Uchhe. Need to keep this in mind if ever I plan to market my food professionally.


Uchhe as a vegetable has a tendency to get spoilt very easily. So if I pick up some Uchhe, and decide to make it after a few days, then I pack the Uchhe in a Ziplock bag, and freeze it. When I need to cook, I just take it out, and slice it thinly. There is no need to thaw it even. Go ahead and cook it as you like to cook it. Freezing Uchhe ensures that they stay fresh for a few more days. After slicing the Uchhe, marinate them with some salt and turmeric, and let them sit around for half an hour. The salt helps a lot in the thawing process. Before you fry the bitter gourd slices, ensure that you discard any liquid that may be accumulated in the bowl. My grandmother used to dunk these thinly sliced Uchhe, in some besan (chick-pea) batter and then fry them. They were simply delicious. But I have never brought myself to batter frying Uchhe. Maybe some day, I will do it, and let all of you know, how it turned out. As for now, I am happy with my Crispy Fried Bitter Gourd. Maybe Hubby is right, they somehow don't taste as bitter when you fry them so crispy. Uchhe Bhaja goes very well, with some Patla Mushur Daal(Red Lentil Soup), or by itself as a first course with some Gorom Bhaat. So here's to a slightly bitter appetizer or as my grandmom said, a palate cleanser, before
the main course !

UCHHE BHAJA: CRSIPY FRIED BITTER GOURD :

Ingredients: 
Uchhe/Bitter Gourd: 2
Turmeric Powder: 1 tsp
Salt
Canola Oil: for frying

Procedure: 

Cut the Uchhe thinly/finely  into small rounds. Coat them with turmeric powder and salt and let them rest for half an hour to an hour.


Squeeze out the liquid from the Uchhe pieces and discard it. Excess water in the veggies can lead to splutters in the hot oil. Meanwhile, add enough oil to a non stick pan to deep fry the Uchhe pieces, and heat the oil very well. You can also use a deep fryer if you have one. Add in the Uchhe pieces so that they do not crowd the pan totally. You might have to do two batches of frying. Fry the Uchhe pieces, till you can see them changing color,on both sides.



Using a slotted spoon, take out the fried Uchhe pieces onto a bowl lined iwth paper towel. Fry the next batch, if you have.

Serve hot with some Mushur Daal and some steamed Rice.

Bon Appetit !!
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LUCHI r MANGSHO :

Luchi r Mangsho: Many a conversations can start when this duo is simply mentioned.And when this becomes a meal, any Bong soul will be on food heaven. Iconic would be a better term when describing this culinary combo. Luchi are small fried Indian bread, which swell up, once they hit the oil. Its a common saying that the culinary worth of the chef is often judged, as to how many of the luchis made by them are soft and fluffy. In that category, I guess, I would be scoring a mediocre score,as not all my luchis swell up the way I want them to. I get a 50 percent success rate,when it comes to Luchis fluffing up in the oil, and I am never too happy about it. When many of my blogger friends assured me, that they have all been there, and some still have a similar success rate, I felt courageous, and decided on Luchi being a part of all the feasting we were doing for the Labor Day Weekend. Hubby decided to take care of the combo: He whipped up a Kosha Mangsho, loaded with flavors.


I am considered as a Luchi snob by all those who know me. And I am proud of it. I want my Luchi to be white, soft and fluffy. Sorry MIL, your Ata luchis do not work for me.If you use Ata, to make Luchi, then that is not Luchi, that becomes the Non-Bengali Puri.When I have Luchi or I make some, its always Maida which works for me. I will eat less, but when I eat, I will give calorie count a miss. I can surely work out a bit more the next few days, to shed all that Maida flab, but I cannot compromise with my Luchi.  I am in Luchi heaven when Mom or my childhood governess Koiya, (She is now a part of the family and spends her days at my parent's house: I love her to bits) makes them. One can never compare the Luchis they make, to anyone making them anywhere. Every Luchi seems like a work of art, now that I think about it. Its simply perfect. Whether paired with some sugar, or a runny potato curry with nigella seeds or even curried goat meat, Luchi from Mom or Koiya's kitchen is simply like first love. A taste which you can never forget and which you can never replicate or replace. Nostalgia !

Coming back to the latest Luchi episode. Labor Day weekend was supposed to be a potluck dinner, but then it turned out to be a dinner, where everyone decided to help in the prep work somehow, rather than making separate dishes themselves. A potluck with a difference. As long as the menu was not changed, it did not matter to me. Last minute phone calls to Ma and Koiya in Kolkata, and loads of help from my blogger friends, and Luchi was done. Deb had cooked the most decadent Kosha Mangsho(Goat Meat Curry). We could not wait to dig in. The Long weekend ended on the tastiest possible note. All our Bong souls were smiling the most beaming smiles.

LUCHI r MANGSHO: 



MANGSHO: Debashish re-created his Golbarir Mangsho to be paired with the Luchi. It was lip smacking !

LUCHI: 
Recipe courtesy: BongMom
serves 4 

Ingredients: 
Maida/All purpose flour: 2cups
Canola Oil(for shortening): 1 1/2 tbsp
Luke warm water
Salt
Canola Oil: for frying the Luchi

Procedure: 

In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, the salt, and the canola oil(shortening) and mix well, till the oil is well incorporated.

Add in the water and make a dough. Knead the dough for some time, till its smooth to the touch.

Make some balls of the dough, slightly smaller than a ping pong ball, and keep them aside. Smaller Luchis are always tastier.

Oil the rolling pin and the rolling board and roll out the luchis from the small dough balls and kee them on a few plates. Make sure that you do not keep the rolled out luchis one on top of another or else they will stick to each other.

Heat the Canola Oil in a deep pan. If the oil is not hot, then then Luchi will not fluff up. Add in the Luchis one at a time, and fry them. Turn them once, but don't let them get brown in the Oil. Remove from Oil, to a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve hot with Kosha Mangsho(or anything that you love to pair your luchi with.)

Bon appetit !!

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