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CHINESE STYLE SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS

Mondays have become synonymous with Baking and Pasta. I am so dog tired, by the time, I get home from school, I can only whip up something easy peasy.  Pasta seems to be an ideal choice for such days. One pan/pot dinner,which we can both gobble up, while our minds continue to fight with the last few potent blows of Monday Blues.

During the drive back home, from class, I was trying to figure out what it would be,which would be on our plates. The man had been suggesting that we do a Chinese Take-Out, as we were both so tired. Somehow, my guilt did not let me do that. I knew the next day,we would be out for our anniversary Dinner, and wanted to avoid two straight nights of eating out. How people change, I said to myself !  I was actually taking on cooking from scratch, even at the offer from an evening off from the kitchen. So much for being a bit health conscious for the new phase for life. With the offer of Chinese dangling around my mind, I decided on something, which I had seen on television a few months back. An adaptation of Chinese Spaghetti with Meatballs by Rachael Ray  it had to be for the weekday dinner. 

Why suddenly meatballs in a Chinese avatar ?! Well, I knew I had some frozen meatballs stashed away in the freezer, and also the man's idea of Chinese was looming large. So I knew I could cheat my way through and reduce prep work. I adapted Rachael's original recipe, to work around the ingredients I had in my freezer and pantry. I had some chopped frozen veggies, which I could substitute for the fresh mushrooms and bok choy,which Rachael had suggested. I knew I had to cook fast, so anything, which cut short the cooking process, was on my mind. Green Beans and broccoli would be taking the place of the suggested mushrooms. I had to be careful about the pasta being al dente, timing the cooking process at exactly 6 minutes. I was almost mentally set, by the time, I unlocked the front door.



CHINESE SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS : 

Recipe Adapted from Rachael Ray

Ingredients: 
Spaghetti: 1/2 lb
Meatballs: Frozen: Around 10-12(you can make you own, I used the ready made variety)
Ginger : Grated: 2 tbsp
Onion: 1 medium sized: Sliced finely.
Canola Oil
Chopped Frozen Veggies: Broccoli,Tomatoes, Green Beans: 2 cups : Feel free to use fresh veggies
Soy Sauce
Sriracha : According to heat preferences
Tomato ketchup: 1 tbsp
Salt: To taste
Paprika: 1/2 to 1 tsp/according to heat preferences
Green Chilies: Chopped: 2-3
Black Pepper:
Chicken Stock: 1 1/2 cup

Procedure: 

Cook the frozen meatballs in the oven at 350F till they are cooked through. Discard the grease and drain the meatballs on paper towels.

In a large non stick pan, add in the canola oil. Once its hot enough, add in the sliced onion.


Once the onion slices get translucent, add in the grated ginger and chopped green chilies. Fry them around a bit, so that the ginger gets cooked, but not burnt.


Add in the frozen/fresh veggies, and stir fry them for a few minutes.


Once the veggies have thawed, add in the sauces, salt, black pepper, paprika, and chicken stock and mix well. Cook for around a couple of minutes.


Add in the cooked meatballs and simmer for around 2-3 minutes. Keep stirring frequently.


Cook the pasta according to package instructions. The pasta should be al dente(should have a bite) and not get soggy. Drain in a colander. Reserve some of the pasta water.

Cook the veggies  uncovered till the sauces have thickened and the veggies are cooked but retain a crunch.

Add in the cooked pasta to the pan and mix well, with a pair of tongs. If you feel that the sauces have dried up a bit, then add in some of the reserved pasta water, to mix things better. The pasta water is starchy so it helps in thickening the sauce.



Check for seasonings, and serve hot.


Bon Appetit !!!










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ICE ICE BABY: FROSTING CUPCAKES !!!

Thank you so much for all the appreciation for the Cupcakes I baked yesterday. It surely made my day, when so many of you'll wrote in, asking how did I frost these babies. Well, they were for a class assignment, but they turned out so well, that I decided to send them as gifts. Holidays are all about spreading some sweet cheer all around. And who doesn't like Cupcakes. The man could not stop gushing over them, as I finished frosting the last few ones. I think I need to bake a bit more often.


The man asked me more than twice, as to why there was an abundance of Green. Whether I was trying to be Gender Neutral even to my cupcake frosting. Well,its nothing like that. I simply got a bit lazy with the colors and but I surely promise that I will get a bit more colorful next time. Maybe next time, it will just be Pink, Pink and some more Pink. Ahh the moody me is snapping again !!!

In case, I forgot to mention, I have recently gone back to school. Its all about sweet things, in school. Even the teacher is a sweetheart. I am attending Wilton Cake Decorating classes, at a local crafts store for the past few weeks.  I am still in the first level, but enjoying it thoroughly. I have challenged myself to complete all four levels.I need all your good wishes, to provide me strength for that. Trust me, its a great de-stresser. Venting your pent up feelings, all your angst, on colored frosting is actually a very creative exercise. I had been planning on joining these classes, for the past few years. But I guess, it had to happen now. Just as its said about babies, that they arrive, only when its their time, giving due dates, an absolute disregard. Similarly with my going back to school. I pulled myself to join classes, only when I am at my moodiest best.My Mommma is super happy, as she feels that getting involved in something creative, during this current phase of mine, is a pretty good idea. Sometimes, I even forget about back aches, when I am practising all that I learnt in class.  So much for creative distraction,eh !

So if you wanna go and Ice Ice Baby, here's the basic Butter Cream icing, we learnt the first day in class. Butter cream is surely the most versatile icing. From my experience and those of my classmates, this icing comes out thinner than promised in the recipe.So feel free to add in more confectioner's sugar to get it into the right consistency, or thin it down with water, if you need to. The idea about frosting is that, its usually used in three different consistencies: Stiff, Medium and Thin. The basic butter cream recipe, claims to be that of a stiff one, but as I said earlier, its actually not. Its more of a Medium consistency or sometimes a tad bit thinner.

How do you judge the consistency of your icing??? Place a cup of icing in a 9oz cup, 3 3/4 inches tall and about 2 1/4 inches in diameter. Insert a straight spatula into the centerof the icing and jiggle the cup. When the icing is Stiff, the spatula will not move. Stiff consistency icing is used for decorations such as Flowers with upright petals, like the rose. To convert Stiff icing into Medium consistency, add 1tsp of water for each cup of stiff consistency icing. Use the same test as for stiff consistency. When the icing is medium consistency, the spatula will move slightly and start to lean when you jiggle the cup. Medium consistency icing is used to create stars, dimensional decorating, borders and flowers with petals which lie flat. To convert Stiff icing into Thin consistency, add 2 tsp of water for each cup of Stiff consistency icing. Mix until well blended. Use the same test as for Stiff Consistency icing. When the icing is a Thin consistency one, the spatula will fall over when you jiggle the cup. Thin consistency Icing is used for icing a cake, writing ,printing and leaves. When making Thin consistency icing for writing and printing, add 1/2 tsp of piping gel per cup of thin consistency icing. It will add stretch to the icing to make writing and printing easier. This icing can be frozen for almost a month in the freezer. Bring it to room temperature before your plan to ice, and mix everything once again.


WILTON'S BUTTER CREAM ICING :  

Claims to be Stiff consistency, but test it for yourself: Me and my classmates, did not quite agree to the claims. Makes about 2 1/2 cups. 

Ingredients: 
Solid White Vegetable Shortening: 1 cup
Vanilla, Almond or Butter Extract: 1 tsp
Milk or water: 7-8 tsp
Confectioner's Sugar/Icing Sugar: 1 lb/4 cups
Meringue Powder: 1 tbsp (avoid it for a vegetarian version)
Pinch of Salt

Procedure: 

Cream shortening, flavoring and water. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy. Icing can be colored by using icing gel colors or even food colors. Add in colors with a toothpick, as a little goes a long way. Mix it well with a spatula, to get the color uniformly mixed. You can use disposable cups, to mix in small batches of colored icing for decorating a batch of cupcakes.



DECORATING CUPCAKES: 

I had baked a batch of  Vanilla Cupcakes with a dash of Lemon . While decorating cupcakes, I used Medium consistency icing for all the decorations.

BASIC CUPCAKE SWIRLS: 



  • For this Green Swirly decoration, attach the Wilton Tip 1M, without a coupler to a disposable piping bag. Fill it with Medium consistency green butter cream  icing. 
  • While attaching a Tip to a bag without a coupler, the Tip is placed inside the bag, while otherwise, its placed outside and attached with a coupler. 
  • Hold the bag at 90 degree angle over the cupcake. You could place your cupcake on a cupcake nail, or just keep it on your other hand. 
  • With tip slightly above the surface, turn the cupcake as you pipe a spiral of icing. 
  • Begin at the outer edge and work toward the center. 
  • Stop pressure and pull tip away. 

SHELLS: 



  • Attach the Wilton Tip 21 with coupler to a disposable icing bag filled with medium consistency butter cream icing. 
  • Hold the bag at a 45 degree angle, with your wrist bending towards you, or at 6 pm as in a clock. 
  • With tip slightly above the surface, squeeze hard. 
  • Let the icing fan out generously as it forces the tip up. 
  • Gradually relax pressure as you lower tip. Pull the bag toward you until the tip reaches the surface. 
  • Relax pressure and pull tip along the surface to form a point. A shell border is a series of shells in a  row. 
  • Start the second shell about 1/4 inches away from the tail of a previous shell. Fanned end just covers the tail of the preceding shell. 

ROSETTE: 




  • Attach a disposable piping bag with coupler and Wilton Tip 18 and filled it with medium consistency butter cream icing. 
  • Hold the piping bag at 90 degree angle over the cupcake. 
  • With tip slightly above the surface, squeeze out icing to form a star. 
  • Without releasing pressure, raise tip slightly as you drop a line of icing on top of a star in a tight complete rotation. 
  • Pull tip away, continuing the circular motion so that the tail maintains the circular shape of the rosette. 

POM POM FLOWER:



  • Attach a Pom Pom template to a flower Nail. Stick a parchment paper square over the template with some icing. 
  • Attach Wilton Tip 12 with a coupler to a disposable piping bag, filled with medium consistency butter cream icing. Hold the bag at 90 degree angle over the cupcake. Use Tip 12 to pipe a dot, the size of the larger circle of the template to form the base. 
  • Replace the tip with a Wilton  Tip 16 to pipe a cluster of pull-out stars about 1/4 inch long, in the center of the dot.The bag should be held at 90 degree angle. 
  • Replace the tip with Wilton Tip 18 to pipe a row of pull-out stars about 3/8 inches long around the base. The bag should be held at 45 degree angle, with the right wrist bending toward 3 pm, as in a clock. 
  • Pipe rows of Wilton Tip 18 pull-out stars working up from the base. Stars should be placed between the stars of the previous row. Each row should angle upward a little more than the row below it. 
  • Remove the parchment paper square from the flower nail. Pom Pom Flowers can be air dried. They can be placed on an iced cupcake with the help of the spatula. Clean the flower nail with a damp cloth. 



Phew, that was long !!!

So go ahead, and start decorating your cupcakes. You could first practice the frosting techniques on some aluminum foil before you start off on the cupcakes.

Bon Appetit !!!






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VANILLA CUPCAKE WITH A DASH OF LEMON: MONDAY MORNING BAKING

Going back to school has been a great experience so far. For the last few years, I had been procrastinating it, but finally when I am physically not 100 percent perfect, I pushed myself to it. I have always admired confection and the art of decorating it. While I continued to bake, my decorating skills had been always pretty rudimentary. I have always admired cupcakes at the baker's window or marvelled at a multi-tiered cake iced in myriad colors. YouTube tutorials are there and shall be there, but I wanted a hands down experience of learning from a teacher in class. And so the saga began. It started with cookies. How exactly does one decorate cookies was my first back to school experience. My teacher Mindy Badgley is an absolute doll with patience personified. She inspires you at every step, even when you are doing the simplest of decorating exercises.

So Mondays became Baking Days at the household. Well, that seems to have become the norm for the past few weeks. I have baked and I have iced, and I must say, I have enjoyed myself. Now that my cake decorating classes are quite on a  roll, I finally took out some time, to pen down.


It was Cupcake Time at the class!!!  After a few weeks of baking quite big chocolate cakes, I decided on vanilla cupcakes. It was time to give chocolate a miss for some time.  I have been binging on chocolates in general, so thought that Vanilla Cupcakes with a dash of lemon, would be perky.

I have never baked with cake flour and mostly all cupcake recipes I came across today, used cake flour. Till I decided to go back to my baking Godmother: Stephanie Jaworski. She always has a solution to my baking dilemmas, and she did so, even today. Loved the simplicity of her Vanilla Cupcakes and yes, it did have the hint of lemon, I was looking for. A big virtual hug goes to Stephanie ! With the holidays round the corner, I thought of sending a batch of cupcakes to Hubby's workmates. All of the boys have been under loads of work pressure, so though of sweetening their day a bit, with some treats. Here's hoping that they like the lil Thanksgiving cheer, which I shall be sending along with Hubby. 



VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH A DASH OF LEMON: 

Recipe Courtesy: Vanilla Cupcakes by Stephanie Jaworski(Joy of Baking) 

Ingredients:
Butter(Unsalted): 1/2 cup (1 stick) at room temperature
Granulated White Sugar: 2/3 cup
Eggs: 3 large
Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp
Lemon Zest(outer yellow skin of a lemon): Zest of 1 large Lemon
All Purpose Flour: 1 1/2 cup
Baking powder: 1 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp (Skip the salt, if you are using salted butter)
Milk: 1/4 cup

Procedure: 

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C and line a 12 cup muffin pan, with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. If you have a stand mixer, then use the bowl of the stand mixer, with the paddle attachment.




Add in the eggs one a time, beating after every addition. Ensure that the eggs are at room temperature.



Add in the Vanilla extract and mix it well.


In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. With a dry whisk, mix in the lemon zest and whisk everything well.

Alternately in the flour and milk, to the butter mixture, in three batches, beginning and ending with flour.Ensure that the mixer is on low speed, or else you will land up with flour all over you, rather than in the batter. You might have to scrape down the sides of the bowl, while your are mixing it. Do not over beat the flour mixture, or you will land up with tough cupcakes.




Use an ice-cream scoop or two spoons to evenly spoon out the batter onto the muffin pan.



Bake for around 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Check at the 15 minute mark. Do not over bake.

Cool them on a wore rack, after your remove them from the oven.



Frost the cupcakes only when they have totally cooled.

Here's how I frosted the Cupcakes !!  

Dig into some soft velvety cupcakes.

Bon Appetit !!! 

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CHERRY COBBLER: Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye !!!!

Its Diwali again !! The festival of lights which truly lights up our spirits. No matter how tired we are, we make sure we squeeze in some sort of Diwali celebration, wherever we are. Our apartments get a bit of festive decking up, along with us, as we doll up. More importantly, every year, Diwali is a trip down memory lane. Shopping for fireworks a few days prior to Diwali and getting them all toasty before the main day.The customary lighting of the Choddo Pradeep(14 lamps), on Bhoot Chaturdashi(the eve of Kali Puja/Diwali), along with Bhai. It was always many more lamps and candles than the customary 14. We are always a family who lives life a bit larger than life. Finally the D-day came, and we had to wear cotton clothes. A strict directive from my grand parents, as they wanted us to be safe, while we went crazy with the fireworks. Bhai liked his share of fireworks, which were loads of sound, and I preferred the ones, which had more of a light show. So we both complimented each other, and Diwali was never marked with sibling rivalry. Cut to the years, when Diwali meant, donning up in sarees, and reporting till late night, while the world enjoyed. And almost every year, for almost five years in a  row, every Diwali might, when we had decided to pack up, there would be a fire in some part of Delhi or Kolkata(the two cities I worked in). That just meant, that Diwali night would be a bad bad night of loads of work. I recently heard from some of my former colleagues, that the trend is still on. They still have to spend Diwali night co-ordinating on fire updates. And to think, now  I spend a pretty quiet Diwali for the last few years, with Hubby. Kali Pujo and Diwali parties take place with full gutso, and we do participate. But the main day, is usually a homely affair with lights, food and usually a movie marathon with the man.

Enough of nostalgia ! Time to indulge in everything sweet without a single ounce of guilt. All the Gujias, Kalakands, Barfis and Ladooos and even the chocolates. Something sweet has to be on the menu on this day. I have happily taken a few days off from gym, as I really want to indulge myself. Did I mention, that I even convinced Hubby to do the same. Needed my partner for all my sweet cravings.Just a few days before Diwali, Garbita, a very sweet neighbor of mine, presented me with quite a stash of lovely homemade Kalakands and Laddus. Needless to say, I polished them off so fast, that I broke my own record. Yet yeh dil maange more. So why not something which can be whipped up pretty quickly. Cobblers came to my mind, when I thought of writing on something sweet for Diwali.


Cobblers can be made with a variety of fruits, from peaches to cherries.The best part of a making a cobbler is that it has so less prep work. And one usually never goes wrong while churning up this beauty. Everyone was so excited(including me), when I was about to serve dessert, that I forgot to take pictures of how decadent a slice of Cherry Cobbler looked like, on the plate. As I got requested to re-create it again, I knew, that sometimes the easiest of recipes, pack in the biggest of punches.

I used Rainier Cherries, when I made this Cherry Cobbler. I must say, that they work the best. I used Fresh cherries, but feel free to use pitted or preserved ones, if you do not have access to fresh cherries. The preserved ones, will also save you a step, in the recipe, though the taste might be a tad different. But overall, the dish is so decadent, that no one will bother, in the end. As I had used fresh cherries, I did have to sit and pit each one. Not a great idea, for days, when I want to rush through things, but somehow I did manage. I macerated the cherries a bit, but made sure that they did not turn totally mushy. The idea is to get them a bit soft. You can even add a dash of dry red wine, while you are macerating the cherries, or if you are using peaches.

Its so easy, that you will all love to whip up some Cobbler for yourself. I must say,that this sugary pick-me- up, also works wonders for me, on days, when I am down and gloomy.


CHERRY COBBLER: 
Recipe adapted from : A Decade of Cooking: The Costco Way by Tim Talevich 

Ingredients: 
Fresh Rainier Cherries: 2 1/4 cups
Golden Raisins: 1/4 cups
Powdered Sugar: 3/4 cup
Warm water: 3/4 cup

Batter:
Powdered Sugar:  1 cup
Butter: 6 tbsp
All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Powder: 1 tsp
Milk: 1 cup

Ice-Cream(Optional) : For Serving

Procedure: 
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Soak the raisins in some water for at least an hour, so that they plump up. Discard the water, and keep the raisins aside.

If you are using fresh cherries, then make sure you pit them carefully  using a small paring knife.


In a microwave safe bowl, mix cherries, sugar and water. Microwave on high heat for around 3 minutes, so that the cherries are macerated a bit. You can also do this on the stove top, and can also add a dash of dry red wine, at this time. Remove from heat and keep aside. Do not discard the liquid.


To prepare the batter, melt butter and swirl in the bottom of 9 inch by 9 inch round spring form pan. If you do not have a  spring form pan, then you can use any oven proof pan.



In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and milk and mix well.



Pour this batter over the molten butter. Spread the macerated cherries with their liquid  and the plumped up raisins, evenly over the batter.


Bake for about an hour, or until slightly browned. Check once, at the 45 minute mark, as ovens vary in their strength.


Serve warm !! You can serve Cherry Cobbler with some Ice-cream, if you want some extra decadence.

Bon Appetit !!!








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HARYALI CHICKEN NUGGETS by MIL

I LOVE this time of the year and I also HATE this time of the year. Why so, you might ask ? Come September and I am on a spinning spree socially. It begins with Hubby's Birthday, Pujo, Halloween, Kailpujo, Diwali, loads of other Pujo and parties and parties, rolls on to the Holiday season. Every weekend is booked, tied and we are on an endless rush. I am a party animal so why should I hate this time of the year? Well, these days, I get tired faster. Moreover some of these parties also happen at my residence. And playing host, is also a tiring job, when I cannot sit for long at one place. So I really want time to rush and run by. I start looking at the watch when I go for a party these days. I feel exceptionally drowsy after Bhog has been served at the Pujo. And poor Deb has to tag along, keeping up with the uber hormonal me, trying to fathom my feelings at every step. He had suggested quite coyly that we can skip Kali Pujo, as I am so tired. But I would not even hear that. I have to attend all the social dos.

Parties mean a lot of hors d'oeuvres. One actually gets exposed to a lot of creativity from the kitchen where appetizers are concerned in this festive season. Kebabs, twice baked potatoes, grilled shrimps, stuffed mushrooms continue to be the favorites. I always binge on kebabs so much, that by the time, either I am serving dinner or someone else is, I am already full. I am a  self confessed Kebabo-holic. Often during my Delhi days, I dined on Kebabs and rotis days at a stretch, ordered from the neighborhood Kebab Corner, or picked up from the Jama Masjid area, after work. Needless to say, whenever someone serves up one variation or the other of a Kebab, I am a happy woman. 

It was a party this Summer and my ILs were in town. Lunch was a lengthy affair and MIL wanted to contribute to all that was being cooked by Deb and Moi. She suggested that she would take care of hors d'oeuvres along with her son. Her suggestion: Haryali Chicken Nuggets. A close cousin of Haryali Kebabs, but these were fried, or could even be baked for a healthier version. Interesting. Deb took care of some grapes he was turning into a tasty hors d'oeuvre, to pair with the Chardonnay we were about to serve.Both kinds of hors d'oeuvres flew off the plates even before the wine was over. Being the hostess, I was controlling myself, as to how much I lapped up. The Nuggets  had a very fresh taste. Mint and Cilantro and along with Yogurt, is always such a great combination, for any kind of meat. MIL added some Thai Chilies, Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice to the party. Kicker, absolutely !!!  As MIL was doing the prep work, for the Nuggets, she coyly(not her usual tone, at all) asked me, whether  I would like this recipe, to be featured on my blog. I got the hint. So amidst all the cooking I was doing, I made sure that I documented the steps. She seemed happy and I smiled a smile to myself. Not all was bad at the household that day.



HARYALI CHICKEN NUGGETS : 

Ingredients: 
Boneless Skinless Chicken: 1 lb: cubed into 2 inch pieces.
Canola Oil for Frying
Marinade: 
Plain Yogurt: 1/2 cup
Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp
Lemon Zest: 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves/Cilantro: 1 1/2  big bunches (which would yield around 1/2 cup of paste)
Mint leaves: 1/2  small bunch
Salt: To taste
Thai Chilies: 2 (according to heat preferences)

Procedure: 
Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a blender or food processor, adding little or no water. You might have to scrape the sides of the blender and then blend again. The marinade should be a bright green. The proportion of cilantro to mint leaves should be 1: 3, so adjust it to your convenience.


Marinate the chicken, in this mixture, at least for a few hours, or overnight, if possible, in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


If you are planning to fry them, then heat oil, in a pan for deep frying. Let the nuggets come to room temperature, before you start to fry or bake them. That ensures that they are cooked evenly. Fry the nuggets in batches, till they start  changing color to a light golden, on both sides. Over frying them, might make them bitter.


Drain them on paper towels and serve hot.

If you are planning to bake them, then you could bake them on a greased baking tray at 350F in a pre-heated oven. Do not bread the nuggets, as that would mask the subtle notes of the cilantro and mint.

Goes very well with medium to full bodied White Wines.

Bon Appetit !!!







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PUI SHAKer GHONTO

I am not someone who always breathes and sleeps Bengali Literature. Yet, there are few references which my mind draws, even after years and years of reading them. My mind fails to locate a counterpart from English Literature for certain experiences. When someone mentions Pui Shaak to me, somehow my mind spins to my high school days. No, childhood memories, no references from Grandma's kitchen, but to a particular Bengali class where the teacher took great pains, in drilling in our uninterested minds, a short story.PUI MACHA by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. A story where the Pui Shaak remained as a strong imagery throughout the narrative, as the protagonist travelled along in her life, and even when the news of her death, reached her parents. I have read and re-read the story so so many times, yet every time, it inspires me, and strikes a chord. So whenever I cook Pui Shaak, I tend to stick to how the protagonist, Nanti, loved it. With Kumro(Pumpkin), Begun (Egg Plant) and Chingri(Shrimps/Prawns). For the unintitaed, Pui Shaak is a green, which kinda gets a bit slimy when you cook with it. But it lends itself to a lip smacking Bong delicacy.


Ahhh...enough of heaving and sighing by me. Lets get down to something lighter. My adventures with Pui Shaak, now how does that sound?! Not too great, I am sure. There are times when I get bored with the supply of vegetables at the neighbourhood grocery. So me and Hubby, take the extra effort, of rising early on a Saturday morning, and heading to the historic River Market. The catch is that the market closes by 12 noon, so we need to rush. Half of the times, we play with the snooze button on our cell phone alarms, and wake up, when the grocers have gone home, from the market. On the few Saturdays, that we are actually able to make it there, we surely are a happy lot. Among other things, I get to pick up a hefty supply of many kinds of Shaak, including Pui Shaak and Laal Shaak. As Shak freezes well, we tend to load up.

Moreover, going over to a Farmer's Market is always a great experience. I love the play of colors, the haggling with the sellers and finally settling down to a good lunch, beside the Missouri, with our shopping bags loaded with the freshest of veggies. Hubby also indulges in some Photography. Needless to say, we are both happy souls. But then we get so complacent after one such trip, that we again start playing with the snooze buttons on our cell phone alarms, next Saturday.



PUI SHAAK er GHONTO

Ingredients:
Pui Shaak: 2 bundles
Kumro(Pumpkin): Cubed: 1 1/2 cup
Begun (Egg Plant): 1 large: Cubed
Panchphoron: 1 tsp
Mustard Oil: 3 tbsp
Cumin Powder: 1tbsp
Red Chili Powder: 1tsp
Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Prawns: a Handful: Shelled and De-veined



Procedure: 

Rinse the Pui Shaak thoroughly under running water, to remove all traces of dirt. Chop off the roots, and discard any harder stems. Cut the rest of the stems to a few inches long, so they don't disintegrate totally once you are cooking.


In a deep pan, add mustard oil, and once it gets hot, temper it with the Panch Phoron.

Add in the diced pumpkin and turn the heat to medium.


After a couple of minutes, add in the diced egg plant  and mix everything well.


Once the veggies start getting a bit softer and also have some color around the edges, add in the greens and the dry spices. Mix everything well. Cover and cook till you can see the greens have started to wilt.



Add in the prawns , salt and sugar and add around a cup of water. Mix well, and let it cook, till the water is absorbed by the veggies, and they no longer taste raw. If you want to make it vegetarian, skip the prawns at this step



Uncover and cook for the last few minutes, if you feel your dish has turned too watery. Check for seasonings.

Serve with steamed Basmati Rice.



Bon Appetit !!!




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