Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sondesh– Bengali’s favourite


Bengalis are gastronomes and are obsessed with fish and sweets. No Bengali meal would complete without either one of these not being present in the menu. I am a Bengali too but my obsession is limited to sweets only. In Bengal every neighbourhood has one or more sweet shop. Almost every street has one. I guess because there were plenty, I strangely enough didn’t used to like sweets, especially sondesh. Its only when I came out of Bengal, I started missing it. And now I miss it more than ever, mainly because it’s not so easily available here.



In Bengal very few people will actually think of making sondesh at home, simply because it is so easily available in the shops. they are freshly made every day and with lots of different variety. We get Indian sweets in UK too but my personal experience is not so good unless I am in Southall, London. I remember my first visit to Southhall, I had proper 3D samosa, chole bature and jalebee, all freshly made. Can’t express in words what that meal meant to me, as I was having that combination after a long time.


Anyway', back to sondesh, I am yet to find a place where I can find this particular variety in UK and this particular one is a legend on its own. Just to give an example, if you mention the name “Nole-Gur er Sondesh” to any Bengali living outside Bengal, it will make them homesick almost instantly. Within no time you will know all the stories/childhood memories related to this he/she had. In fact writing this post is actually making me homesick. Anyway you get the point, I am homesick, addicted to sweets and there is no good Indian sweet shop nearby where I live, let alone Bengali delicacies. So I made an attempt to make some at home and I am proud to say it was a success.



(Makes 20 small sondesh)

1.5 Litters of full fat milk

Juice of 1 big lemon

175-200 gms of Date Molasses / Nolen (Khejur) Gur (I didn’t measure exactly, also it depends on how much sweetness you can take!) If you can’t get hold of Nolen/ Khejur/Date Gur then you can use dark Muscovado sugar.

1 tbsp butter

Oil for shaping the sondesh



Take a deep, thick bottom vessel and heat the full fat milk in it. Keep a close eye on the milk as it can boil over anytime. To avoid that, keep stirring the milk and keep the flame to  medium. Bring it to boil and pour the lemon juice in it. Continue to stir and keep the heat in medium to low so that it doesn't boil over. Wait till the lumps of paneer forms and the liquid becomes light green in colour.



Take it off the heat. In a sieve place a cheese cloth (big enough to cover the sieve) and pour the content of the vessel. Now take the cheese cloth out of the sieve and squeeze it so that the water in the paneer comes out. Drain as much water as possible then place it back on the seive. Now place something heavy on the paneer so that it continues to drain water from it. At this point you can do two thing, either wait for couple of hrs till the paneer is ready or keep the whole arrangement in the fridge for over night (Dont forget to take the heavy weight out before placing it in the fridge). I did the later. Next morning take the cheese cloth off and place the paneer in a bowl and heat in the microwave for a minute. This will soften the paneer and it will also be easy to kneed.


In a wide base bowl take the paneer, first break it into pieces and then start kneading. Continue to kneed till the paneer becomes smooth and no big lumps remaining (5-7 minutes) then add the Molasses to the paneer and keep kneading. At this point the mix will be little softer than before. Now in a non-stick pan melt the butter and pour the mix into it and start stirring with an wooden spoon. Cook for 3-4 minutes on low heat, stirring continuously. At one point you will see the mix is not sticking to the sides of the pan and has become even smoother and softer, take it off the heat. Oil a plate and pour the sondesh mix on the plate. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes.



Last time when my mum visited me I had asked her to get me some moulds for making the sondesh. I have used them to give them this shape but if you don't have one, then just apply some oil on your palm take a spoon full of sondesh mix each time and make small balls by rolling between your palms. Press them a little so that they take small peda shape. Place them on a oiled plate and keep them couple of hours in the fridge to harden a bit. If you have the moulds then press those pedas on the mould and press hard. Now when I say hard I mean hard enough to get the impression on the sondesh but not to break it into pieces!! Just kidding, you will know once you stat! Enjoy!! 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Eat Your Veg–Book Review



Until last week I was thinking that I going to review a cook book for vegetarians, but on Saturday morning when I received the book by post, I realized I was wrong. Eat Your Veg published by Octopus publishing group is for everyone. Especially, if you have small kids at home, who are not so much into their veg then this book will be a good fit to your cookbook collection.


I usually go to the veg market and pick up things I find interesting. Some times I end up wondering what to do with some of them. I think now that this book is going to rescue me when I am stuck with a boring vegetable and would like to use it for making nice dish! Beetroot is one good example!  The book starts with beetroot recipes under root veg. The recipes are easy to follow and most ingredients are usually available in in your cupboards or fridge. Most of the recipes are accompanied with beautiful photos.


The author Arthur Potts Dawson has done a very claver job of presenting the regular vegetables in an attractive and inspiring manner. He categorised the vegetables among five main groups like root and tubers, bulbs and stems, leaves and flowers, fruits and fungi and finally beans and pods.



Each of these categories then has a list of vegetables followed by the recipes with these vegetables as the main ingredients. I love the part where the author writes about mash. There are several pictures of making the mash step by step and then taking mash is your base and flavouring it with lots of other veg like saffron and shallot mash or parsley and dill mash.





The book contains recipes that uses egg, fish and meat but as the name of the book suggests these are not the most prominent ingredient in the dish. Vegetables are still the star of the dish and the meats or fish are there to only to enhance the flavour. There are some not so common recipes as well, like roasted sweet potato with Marshmallow and maple syrup. but the book also contains some familiar recipes like butternut squash ravioli.



The best way to test this book is to go to the farmer's market and do a bucket load of veg shopping, then come home and find recipes from the book and try it out.



Initially I thought that the down side of this book is that it’s not easy to find a particular recipe in this book as the recipes are not listed with page numbers. The Quickest way to find a recipe will be looking through the index. But then, that itself is a good thing because that will make you glance through the other recipes and inspire you to experiment with different vegetables which until recently you didn't think were interesting enough!


This book will be available in the market in early May this year but you can pre order the book in amazone at a lesser price!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Aloo Chaat


Who doesn’t love chaat? I love it! Although its meant to be an evening snack that people have between tea breaks but I am a huge fan of chaat and I can have it as dinner. In fact I did that once. I was in India and at home only me and my sis-in-law was there and both of us are chaat addicts. Everyone else were out and going to have dinner outside. So both of us decided on chaat dinner! It was a lovely one! Today when I was making the chaat I was reliving those memories. We had long chats over those lovely chaats she prepared.




2 boiled and pealed potato cut in to small cubes

quarter of  a medium red onion, chopped finely

1-2 green chillies finely chopped

handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped

salt to taste

1 tsp dry roasted cumin powder

1 tsp of red chilly powder (optional)

Sev / Bombay mix

Sweet chilli tamarind sauce



Now this is real simple. Just mix everything together, check the seasoning and serve. I am sure you are going to love it.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Twinings Royal Wedding Blend Tea


Royal wedding anniversary is coming up this month and Twinings has come up with this new Earl Grey tea called Twinings Royal Wedding Blend Tea. So, when I was being asked to sample it, I didn't say no! I was reading about it and apparently the master blenders of the Twining Tea made this with rose petal. I though may be it is best if I make some traditional combination of sandwiches to go with the cuppa!


I made three different types od sandwiches.The first one was smoked salmon and cream cheese and chive sandwich, second one a simple ham sandwich and the third one was just a cucumber sandwich


I must say the box is very very cute, I simply loved it. Each tea bag is individually packed in black envelopes. The box contains 20 such envelopes. Don’t keep the tea bag in the tea water for more than a minute, and it is best without milk. I also didn't add any sugar.  I liked it. It’s nice and the flavour is very different from simple Earl Grey. You can really feel the difference. Certainly this is not an everyday tea for me, but I will probably have it once in a while when I would really seek for a change of taste and flavour in tea.


If you are interested you can buy this tea online or you can visit Twinings Facebook Page to find out more.



Saturday, April 14, 2012

Giveaway Winners Announced!!

Ok Guys! First of all, thank you very much to each and every one who took part in this giveaway and made this a successful event on NuttyCook. Thank you everyone who liked my FB page and followed me on Twitter and some of you even tweeted the giveaway details.

So last night I sat down to list all the entries and was wondering how do I do the draw. There are several random widget /tools available over the internet but I wanted some thing different and exciting. While I was doing this work and thinking about how should I do the draw, my little one woke up from his sleep and gave me a sweet smile. At that point I just knew I have a solution and without a doubt it is going to be a true random selection.. You see my little one has now began to grab things and give them a good shake. He hasn't learn to throw them yet but I am guessing he is not too far away form that step!


Anyway, I wrote each and every valid contestant's name and the book they wanted on small similar sized paper, like little chits and made three groups for three books. I took him on my lap and shuffled the chits and held those in front of him. After half an hour of play and persuasion I managed to get 3 winners for the 3 books! So its him who choose the winner not me! Now without any further delay here are the 3 winners for the first giveaway on NuttyCook!

Drum roll please…………

Winner of Book #1 Pasta is  Suchi of Kitchen Karma

Winner of Book #2 Entertaining At Home is Nisha  of Look Who’s Cooking Too

Winner of Book #3 Easy food for Utter Indulgence is Corina of Searching for Spice

CONGRATULATIONS!! To all the winners Please DM/email me your address so that I can send you guys your win!

And people who didn’t win please don't be up set one more book giveaway is coming soon on NuttyCook! So watch this space! And last but not the least, thank you all for taking part! Really appreciate your time and effort! 

Happy New Year to all Indians who are celebrating the first day of the Indian calendar today!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Honey Glazed Sweet Filo Parcels


During my trip to Marrakech, I found a very interesting dish called Briouat. Traditionally they are made as savoury dishes and has lots of different types of filling in them. My sweet filo parcels are inspired by this versatile dish. I have been thinking of making some thing lavish and luxurious for some time. This time I wanted to do something different from cake or brownie, also my better half challenged me that I can only do these or some chocolate dessert! Can you believe that! So I thought of facing that and bake some thing which is not cakes or cake-like or has chocolate in it.  When I finished making these I felt so temped to drizzle some dark chocolate sauce on them but because I had to show him that I can work without chocolate, I didn’t!


While making these parcels I couldn’t resists thinking how similar are they to the samosas. Especially the ones made with filo pastry. Traditionally they are filled with minced meat or any other savoury filling, which is again very similar to samosas only difference is most samosas are deep fried and these are baked. I decided to make one more change and that is to keep one side of the parcel open and looks more like a cone filled with sweet filling than a closed two dimensional triangle. Anyway here goes the recipe, I made my own version of this Moroccan dessert, hope you like it! 


This recipe makes 20 parcels.


For the filling:

1.5 oz semolina

3 green cardamom whole (use seeds only)

1 oz butter

1 oz ground almond

4 oz milk

1.5 oz sugar


For the wrapping:

5 sheets of filo pastry

4 oz melted butter


For the honey glaze:

6 oz honey

3 oz water

2 tbsp rose water

2 cloves 



Place a heavy bottom saucepan on the hob on medium/low heat and dry roast the semolina and the ground almond until the sweet aroma comes out and the colour turns light brown. Be careful not to burn it because at this point if you don’t keep an eye on it, the semolina will burn very fast. Now add the butter, sugar and the crushed seeds of the green cardamom and continue to mix over a low flame. When mixed well add the lukewarm milk in to it and stir continuously so that no lumps are formed and the mix is uniform.


Thaw frozen filo pastry for 2 hours outside fridge. On a cutting board take one filo pastry sheet at a time and brush the melted butter on one half of the sheet. Fold the other half on the buttered side. Repeat the step one more time and then cut it into four equal pieces. Now place a tea spoon full of filling on one corner to the centre of a filo pastry. Take one corner and fold over the filling in such a way that it looks like a cone cut in half. brush a little butter on the sides and bring the opposite corner on top of the half cone and complete the cone shape. Push the filling inside the cone so that the cone is filled but cone shape is not broken. if require add some more filling on top to fill the cone. Place the cone on a baking sheet and brush it with melted butter all around. Repeat the procedure for rest of the cones.

Pre heat the oven at 180 degree C/ Gas mark 4 and bake these cone pastries  for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden.


In a saucepan start making the honey syrup by boiling water with cloves in it. After 2-3 minutes when the water is reduced a bit add the honey and reduce the flame. Mix well, wait till the honey syrup is warm evenly then take it off the heat. Let it cool for 5 minutes or so. Dip the hot cones in the syrup and keep them there for 10 sec and remove from the syrup. let them rest on a plate for some time then serve.