Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jhal Muri/Tel Muri Cheena Badam aar Kancha Lankar Saad/Swaad – Call it Snack or Name it Time- Pass…

Jhal Muri

Always thoughts splash the mind while writing something. At times the write-up can be under the literary category, sometimes a short story can pop-up, maybe a political or social article or something under the category of FOOD, which is the one I’m concentrating on for now.

When writing about food the area is so vast, and, this area has caught up with people who love to eat, cook and invite people to their home to eat, (of course relish) their home-cooked food. This is not for the fancy of getting heaps of praises on the back (maybe so heavy to carry, just joking), but all for the sake of love for Food.

Jhal Muri is such a common preparation. Jhal Muri eaten from the filled-up paper cone sold out by the hawkers mostly in places that attract a lot of people, has a taste and smell of its own. The man, why did I say The Man, for till now I’ve not seen women selling Jhal Muri, maybe I’m wrong…

The Jhal Muriwala is mostly found carrying his ware from one place to another like a bird perching from one tree-top to the next destination.

For a Jhal Muri preparation it’s so simple that as the thought crosses the mind, spend a couple of minutes and there you have it for self and others at home.

Jhal Muri Snack/Time Pass
Jhal Muri

Muri/Musmus/Puffed rice is the main ingredient
Mustard oil few drops, the pungent smell of the mustard oil wraps in the entire flavour.
Roasted peanuts
Green chillies chopped
Ginger finely chopped
Onion chopped finely
Potato chips or even some mixture added will enhance the taste.
When all are mixed, aha, what a taste!

Such a simple thing yet the evening cup of tea and jhal muri can make a good pair.

© gouri guha

Friday, February 15, 2013

Khichuri aar Saraswati pujo

Khichudi Bhog  on Saraswati Puja

I can still recall those childhood days when Saraswati Pujo was celebrated annually at home. I feel life during my early days were different – not different in the sense that the sun did not rise in the morning, the sunset is very much here, seasons change with time, schools and students exist – but there was something so very sweet in life that is missing now.

Years have passed bringing with it many changes and I have also handled the change. Technology has brought about so many changes in our life.

Whatever may happen, the almanac will be bought to find out the dates and time of various occasions. Today is Saraswati Pujo. As a child I loved this day firstly because on this day no one at home told us to study, more so because this day is the day of goddess Saraswati the Goddess of Wisdom for the Hindus.

I think there is more Bengali fervor in this puja day. I remember how we got up early, bathed in warm water after applying haldi paste (mixed with oil), on the face, legs and hands. The previous day saw late night with all the preparations going on. We made colourful paper chains, paper flowers and shaped other paper designs to decorate the room where the puja was performed. Ma’s zari lined sari also was used for decorating the wall where the clay idol of the goddess was placed. The platform was made by joining two stools and then covering it with some brightly coloured table cloth. Flowers were there in plenty in our garden – marigold, tagor, joba – while tulsi, the thorny berry twig, and amer pallv was there at home, bel patta was brought from the neighbourhood tree. Sweets and fruits brought from the market the day before were all ready for the puja in the morning. There were many hands to help – some big and some small and tiny ones.

The purohit/pandit came to perform the puja rites. Incense sticks and the lamp were lit, and then the sound of the conch shell and the mantras filled the room - what an atmosphere it was! We siblings placed some of our books and note books near the goddess along with our pen and pencils. So it was a day off from studies. As I reminiscence those days, I cooked khichudi, begun bhaja, mixed vegetable curry and tomato chutney for this special day.

For the khichudi took 1 small cup bhaja (dry roasted) mung dal, I cup rice. Poured some ghee, about 1 tsp. to the cooking vessel. Once the ghee started to release heat added the dal and rice that had been washed earlier. Gave it a stir for a minute and a half and then added some haldi powder, dhania powder, red chilli powder, jeera powder, and stirred again. Then added some chopped tomatoes, potatoes and cauliflower florets which I had fried earlier and after a minute added salt and again a stir. Having completed the process in about 5 minute’s time, added 4 cups of water. After the first boil came added some sugar (optional), covered it and lowered the flame. In between removed the lid to mix…a little bit of opor neeche (up and down). By the time the water dried up, Khichudi was ready.

To go with it there was begun bhaja, a mixed vegetable curry and tomato chutney. What a meal it was, heavenly, maybe because it is thought to be a special bhog for a special day.

© gouri guha

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Masala Papad – Call it Appetizer or a Tasty Starter

During my recent visit to the beach-side I found people selling fried papads and saw how quickly their stuff was sold off. They carried the fried papads in huge baskets slung on their shoulder with the help of a cotton strap. Fried papads are so less in weight that they carried the jhu(d)ri (basket in Bengali) so effortlessly. 

Their stuff being sold off quickly, they ran and soon were back with another basket full of this stuff.

For me papad bhaja that’s sold in such places will get a big NO but some tele bhaja (different kinds of deep fried food) cholbe (can do with). “Fussy” some call me, but sometimes fuss is good.

Well that’s not what I’m to tell today. It’s all about the Masala Papad I make at home. It’s such a tasty starter that before the main food is served, this is also a good “Time Pass”.

For making this first fry the whole papad and if you don’t want the fried ones then can roast them. But for me the fried ones taste better.

Then the fried papad has to be garnished. For this:

Cut the onion into small pieces.

Tomatoes also need to be cut in size with the onion.
I didn’t have cucumber, so didn’t use, but you can if you have. The cucumber should be cut like the onion and tomato.
Chopped green chillies
Lemon juice
Salt to taste
Some chat masala.

On the fried papad spread the onion, tomato, chopped green chilli, cucumber if you have it, sprinkle salt and chat masala and then on top add lemon juice.

Serve immediately as the papad will become soggy once the spread is done.

Relish the appetizer and while relishing write and hum your own jingle starting with, “Tasty tasty Papad…”  

© gouri guha 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Aloo, Phulkopi, Karaisuti Kosha/Cauliflower, green peas and potatoes fried with spices

When the word “Kosha” comes up, I will prefer the list to be headed by Mangsho Kosha. Long time back I wrote about Kosha Mangsho here. That dish fell under the non-vegetarian category. But this one is totally vegetarian.

I have many vegetarian friends but they feel without adding onion and garlic a dish cannot be that tasty. Mr. S, a very close family friend, happens to be regular visitor. There is always discussion on various topics and when it comes to cooking and recipes he believes that without onion and garlic cooking a tasty dish is not possible. The best part is he always relishes my preparations without the thought that it is Satvik (sans onion and garlic). Last week when he visited us, for the first time, I was stunned to hear from him that he now prefers to eat satvik preparations.

“Why the sudden change”

No reply

I repeat and this time his mouth brings about a big smile.

This preparation is simple, easy and tasty.


1 Cauliflower: Separate the florets and put them in a bowl of water to which add some haldi powder.
2 medium size Potatoes: Peeled and cut into 8 pieces
1 cup green peas
1 Tomato cubed


Dhania powder 1 ½ tsp
Jeera powder ¾ tsp
Haldi powder 1 tsp
Red chilli powder ½ to 1 tsp as per your taste
Sugar 1 tsp (you may or may not add this)
Salt to taste
Put all the spices in a small bowl and add some water to make a thin paste
Oil for cooking.

Once everything is ready add some oil (about 2 tbsp) in a kadhai/wok/ pan. Once hot add the florets and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Remove the florets and keep them waiting for their next turn. Now add some more oil (about 1 tbsp) to the cooking vessel and once it is hot add the spices soaked earlier. Stir for about 2 to 3 minutes over a low flame. To this add the cubed tomatoes and stir fry, lessen and increase the flame as needed. By this time the tomatoes has left its juices and become soft and the masala/spices will separate from the oil.

Time to add the potatoes and stir for a minute. Put in the green peas and just give a stir. Now add a cup and half of water and cover and wait for the first boil to come. Time to add the half-fried cauliflower florets. Cover and let it cook till all the vegetables are cooked and the water has dried completely.

Easy to cook and good to taste.
Serve the dish with hot rotis, parathas or even with a plate of rice and dal (bhat and dal/dal chawal).

© gouriguha 2013