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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fresh Basket Potlis ( The perfect morning after snack for New Year )

Wishing all my readers and subscribers a Very Happy and Blessed New Year 2016 !!!

What's an morning after snack ?? Something that is light and easy on the stomach while being delicious at the same time while not being too 'hatke' for the occasion. I am of course referring to the first day of the New Year when a steady stream of friends and relative will trickle down your doorsteps for offering their New Year Wishes. Most of them would still be reeling under the after effects of the partying and not in the mood for anything too heavy or spicy.

These fresh basket potlis are the perfect solution to your dilemma. The 'fresh basket' of course refers to the fresh winter produce. The whole imagery is that of the freshest winter vegetables stuffed into a basket. One finds the seasonal variety of green peas, cauliflower, french beans, carrots, corn and peppers in abundance in the local farmers market and this is just the right occasion to leverage nature's bounty. While I have deep fried the potlis keeping my traditional guests in mind, one can also bake them to cut down on the calories. Serve a few of these bundles of goodness with some freshly squeezed orange juice and watch them disappear.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

For the potlis -
  • 2/3 cup maida
  • 1/3 cup atta
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi
  • 1 1/2 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste
  • cold water for kneading into a tight dough

For the stuffing -
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup french beans
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers
  • 2-3 pinch amchoor
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander leaves
  • 2 tsp oil 
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Take all the ingredients for dough into a mixing bowl. Rub together. Then add water little by little to make a tight dough. Smear it with a little oil and cover with a moist kitchen towel. Keep aside for 30 mins.

Take all the veggies into a blender and give a quick buzz. We need a coarse mix of veggies not unlike what we use for stuffing into paratha.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the veggie and saute on high for 2-3 mins. Add all the seasoning, mix in and remove from flame after 30 seconds. Keep aside till it is cool.

Divide the dough into 10 portions. Roll out each one into a circle. Put some stuffing in the center. Draw a smaller circle with wet fingers about 1 cm inside the diameter of the circle. Gather the sides,making pleats as you do it, and finally give a twist to close the potli or bundle. 

Repeat the same procedure with the remaining dough and stuffing.

Heat sufficient oil in a wok /pan for deep frying the potlis. Add a few at a time to the hot oil, making sure that they not getting clumped together. Drizzle hot oil over the potlis with a slotted spatula for even cooking. Once they turn brown, remove and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot with some pudina and ajwain chutney.

Note - One can also make the potlis a few hours in advance and keep it under a slightly moist towel.

For the baked version, brush the potlis with egg (preferred) or oil . Place on a baking tray lined with butter paper and pop into the preheated oven set at 180 degree Celsius. Takes about 30 mins or so. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sticky Chicken Bites ( New year Special Collaboration with ADollpofthat and Potpourri)

It's new year eve and friends have gathered at your place for a drink. Since everyone is in a mood to party and chill, the focus is generally not on the food. Thus while one can say goodbye to an elaborate menu which can actually prove obstructive to all that partying, finger foods are definitely high on everyone's list. Providing something to munch on along with the drinks and in between while shaking a leg to some peppy chart-busters is what a host should be doing.

But since it is that time of the year when everyone wants a break and long hours in the kitchen seem irksome even for most of the hosts, I am sharing this simple chicken starters recipe that is easy, quick and definitely lick-worthy. Got this recipe from rasamalaysia.com and give it a simple twist. Read on for my version -

(Don't forget to scroll down and check the White Sauce - Chick-o-cheese Croquettes with Tandoori Dipping Sauce and Orange and honey chicken recipes from my very talented blogger friends Parinaaz and Saswati for the New Year's Collaboration !)

Preparation Time - 25 -30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup chicken cubes
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1 tsp chili flakes 
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp demerara sugar

For batter -

  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tbsp maida
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 pinch baking powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup cold water to add to the batter
For the sticky sauce -

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp honey

Preparation - Take all the ingredients mentioned under 'for batter' into a mixing bowl. Beat it lightly to get a smooth batter without lumps.

Wash and dry the chicken pieces using a paper towel. 

Take all the ingredients mentioned under sticky sauce (except for garlic) into a cup. Mix well.

Cooking - Heat sufficient oil for deep frying small batches of chicken.

Take each chicken piece, dip into the batter coating it on all sides and add to the hot oil. Fry on medium high flame for 3 mins max till a golden color develops. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Take 2 tsp oil in another skillet. Add the chopped garlic and chili flakes. Fry till garlic is golden. 

Add the sauce and allow it to thicken. Drop in the fried chicken bits. Toss on high for a minute or two.

Finally drizzle with sesame seeds and demerara sugar.

Serve immediately.

Note - One can also opt for coarsely ground peppercorn instead of chili flakes.

Some more fabulous recipes -

White Sauce - Chick-o-cheese Croquettes with Tandoori Dipping Sauce

Click here for recipe link !!

Orange and Honey Chicken

Blog link Here . Recipe link to be updated in a while !!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Coconut Cucumber And Radish Raita

During the winter months when tons of radish floods the local markets, most folks find a way to include this wonderful vegetable into their everyday menu. Be it the North Indian Muli ka paratha or the spicy stir fried version in South India, every state has its own special radish dish. Folks in Odisha like to add it to their Kanji ( a light soup ), have it crushed and mixed with lime juice as a salad and also as a glorious raita with coconut added to mellow down the strong radish flavour. I have simply modified this recipe by adding some cucumber and also a hint of mustard. The end result is a very light and refreshing recipe that is the perfect complement to any meal ( especially ones that feature a rich gravy dish ).

Read on -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup grated radish
  • 1 cup grated cucumber
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2/3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 1 tsp mustard paste ( use less if you are not used to the pungency or use yellow instead of black mustard )
  • salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil

Preparation - Take the yogurt in a mixing bowl. Add salt and mustard paste. Beat it lightly to break the lumps.

Squeeze out water from the radish and cucumber. Add to the mixing bowl along with the coconut.

Cooking - Heat oil in a tempering pan. Add the mustard seeds, broken red chili and curry leaves. Once it starts spluttering, pour it over the contents of the mixing bowl.

Mix well. Add a little water if you want a thinner consistency.

Serve immediately or chill for 15 mins before serving.

Note - Consume on the same day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bajre Ki Khichdi ( Pearl millets Khichdi )

When I first heard of it, I was very much surprised that Bajra or pearl millet is also consumed as a Khichdi (Indian version of Risotto). Most of us assume that it is synonymous with rotis. But when I learnt of this Khichdi from my neighbour, I just had to try it out.

Her version includes a bit of rice in the khichdi along with the bajra and the split green moong dal, oodles of desi ghee and absolutely no tempering. And it is supposed to be eaten with a sweet and sour tomato chutney. However, I was a bit skeptical about omitting the tempering bit and hence I used my usual cumin-red chili-hing tempering with the khichdi. And it turned out to be quite nice and soothing, something that is a pleasure to dig in during the balmy winter months.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup bajra
  • 1/2 cup green moong
  • a handful of rice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 dry red chili
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 pinch hing
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of turmeric

Preparation - Wash the bajra and the green moong under running water. Spread on a plate. Put it under a fan to dry the surface. 

Once dried, give it a quick buzz in the mixer to break the grains. The texture should be that of a coarse mixture. 

Transfer to a mixing bowl . Add 2 cups water and give it a soak for 2 hours.

Cooking - Transfer the soaked grains to the cooker. Wash the rice and add to the cooker along with salt and turmeric.

Close lid and cook for 5-6 whistles on a low to medium flame. 

Keep aside till steam escapes.

Heat the ghee in a tempering pan. Add cumin seeds, broken red chili and hing. Once it starts spluttering, pour it into the cooker and give a good stir.

Bajre ki Khichdi is ready for serving. ( Do not forget to drizzle with desi ghee for that extra zing )

Note - Serve it with a simple tomato chutney .

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Panchmel Dal ( Rajasthani Lentils Recipe)

It is that time of the year when everyone is either partying or taking a vacation. But since I am doing neither, I have enough time to feel nostalgic about home and indulge about fifty grades of nostalgia. Looking though old photos, revisiting my early blog posts, calling up long forgotten friends/cousins/relatives, taking out and cleaning old stuff, cooking up my mom's dishes and so on, the list is almost endless. Hence, the craving for home cooked traditional food at a time when most of my blogger friends are dishing out cakes and party food by the dozen.

I was introduced to this recipe by my Mom. Unlike the mom in that Freecharge advert who refuses to go beyond Urad dal, she enjoys watching cooking shows and then replicating the same in her kitchen. Thanks to her I have developed a taste for all types of cuisine and my definition of comfort food is not limited to just Odia cuisine. For me, comfort food, irrespective of the place off its origin, has a very magical quality that immediately infuses my entire being with a warm glow. And I guess it is the same for most foodies who have been able to transcend the cultural barriers that seek to create ghettos around certain types of cuisine.

But enough of that introspection and analyzing. Moving on to this recipe, it is a simple, aromatic and delicious preparation that does without the usage of onion and garlic. While the traditional version uses lentils with skin on them, I have cooked it with the split and skinless version that was readily available in my pantry.

Here is the recipe -

Preparation Time - 45 mins ( Plus soaking for 4 hours)

Ingredients -

  • a fistful of Toor dal
  • a fistful of Urad dal
  • a fistful of Moong dal
  • a fistful of Masoor dal
  • a fistful of Channa dal
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 3 dry red chilis
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch hing
  • 2 pinch garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Preparation - Wash and soak the lentils for 4-5 hours.

Chop the tomato into fine bits. Lightly crush the ginger and green chili.

Cooking - Take the lentils in a pressure cooker along with 3-4 cups water, turmeric and salt to taste.
Cook for 3-4 whistles on medium flame.

Keep aside till steam escapes. Open the lid and slightly mash dal with a heavy spoon. Add some hot water to adjust consistency and put it back on a low flame.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, asafoetida and broken red chilis. Once it starts spluttering, add the crushed ginger and green chili. Fry for a minute.

Then add chopped tomatoes, salt and garam  masala. Cook till tomatoes turn pulpy.

Pour this mixture into the pressure cooker and mix with the dal. Let it simmer for 15 mins.

Finally garnish with cilantro and remove from the flame.

Serve it hot with phulkas or rice. ( I have served it with a simple vegetable pilaf and some radish salad. )

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Dalma-niac Soup !! ( Traditional Dalma gets a mad makeover )

There are certain days when the 'makeover' madness takes hold of me and just refuses to let go. I try giving a makeover to everything, either living or non-living, that comes within a few feet radius of me. Not everything that is affected by my Midas touch turns out to be gold and I often end up deleting/discarding/reverting my genius stroke. And in the unfortunate event of there being a certain kind of permanency to my spur-of-the-moment actions, I learn to live with the taunts that come my ways for a not so inconsiderable period.

However, this is one of my more successful experiments which helped me banish ( or to be more honest, just reduce ) rice from my diet to a certain extent. For the uninitiated, Dalma is lentils cooked with a medley of veggies, and tempered with red chilis, ghee, cumin and coconut. I have turned this into a full bodied soup that is guaranteed to banish all hunger pangs.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup split yellow moong dal
  • 1 tsp arwa/jeera/gobindoghog/basmati rice
  • 2 cups mixed veggies ( raw papaya, pumpkin, potato, carrot, tomato/green mango )
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin-chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp coconut milk / freshly grated coconut for the garnish
  • 1/2 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 2 dry red chili

Preparation - Dry roast lentil and rice till they turn fragrant.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Add the broken red chili and spices.

Wash the rice and lentils . Transfer to the same pressure cooker with 2 1/2 cup water. Add the washed veggies, salt and turmeric. Close lid and cook for 2-3 whistles.

Keep aside till steam escapes. Open lid and puree the contents with the help of a hand blender.

Put it back on the flame and add the coconut milk. Let it simmer for 3 mins.

Remove from flame and pour into soup bowls. Garnish with the roasted cumin-chili  powder.

Serve immediately.

Note - Dalma, ghee and arwa chawal is like one sacrosanct trinity and hence I have included all the there elements in the soup. However the other two, i.e., the coconut (sweetness) and cumin-chili powder (pungency) can be omitted (though not recommended) or adjusted as per one's preference.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Review : The Bestseller She Wrote (by Ravi Subramanian)

This book reads like the fantasies of a middle aged man. Nothing of the sort that Ravi Subramanian has attempted before. Even someone like me who has read all his previous works finds it tough to get used to the sudden change of genre.

Authors are a hedonistic and self centered lot. And this book aptly demonstrates the workings of the publishing industry and the marketing blitz that goes with a book launch. The story weaves it way through campus placement, office romance, adultery, heartbreak and finally a climax that seems to have forced its way into the narration.

There are loads and loads of references to one of his contemporaries. Things like his 'first book about an engineering student', 'the paperback king of India' and 'judging a dance reality show' are too much direct for anyone to miss them. Sadly, this taking potshots does not work in Ravi Subramanian's favour as one misses the crisp narration style that has become his signature. His last book 'God is a Gamer', had been one of his best works till date and had set a very high benchmark in my mind.

Coming back to the story, the author leads a nice cushy life with a devoted wife and a child till his dalliance begins with a manipulative IIM graduate who seeks to use her relationship with him to launch her dreams. This aspiring author uses all her charms and plays on the guys ego to make him stray from his family. At this point, one has to hand it to Ravi Subramanian for the very well executed moments of physical intimacy. One usually finds that most Indian authors turn shy when it comes to sex and this uneasiness with the topic translates in some cringe-worthy stuff that has become the bane of Indian fiction. But Ravi has no such qualms.

The portrayal of the author's wife is also somewhat sad but reflective of today's society where some very talented women find themselves without the kind of support system that is required to pursue a career. And the climax bit where she forgives her husband even after his betrayal and callous behavior is just so cliched. Sorry but the typical 'Bharatiya nari' portrayal does not strike any chords in my heart and I would have much preferred a different kind of ending where she would have shown the guts to walk out of a sham marriage.

There is the mandatory twist in the tale towards the end. But it is a case of too little and too late. I had lost interest in the book by that time and just browsed though the last few pages. With not much substance to tickle your grey cells and making you pause at certain junctures, this book actually turns out to be a quick read.

If one have a couple of hours at disposal and wants a quick read, this book might interest them. For folks who are not familiar with Ravi's earlier works, this might hold better appeal. This book kind of had me confused till I realized that it is written for the sole purpose of being turned into a movie script. At that point, all the irrational and convoluted bits fell into place and everything made sense.

Rating - 3/5 ( I hope the movie is better than the book) .

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

There is more to an Hug than meets the Eye !!

Remember that hug that your best friends gave you when the board results were out and all of you had passed with flying colors. Or the huddle into which you guys went when one of you landed plum job on the first day of placement season. Whatever the occasion, to 'Share a hug' was a way of making it even more special. And the bond of friendship stronger than ever before.

image credits - www.liveinstyle.com

On the other hand, visualize a time when you were heartbroken. When the cute hunk/girl had turned down your proposal and broken your heart, it was a hug from a close friend that kept you from going into pieces. Or when your grades had not met your expectations and your parent had held you in their arms and explained that it is not the end of the world. During those stressful times, the hugs had acted as a miracle cure and made one feel better.

That is the best thing about hugs. It makes one feel warm and loved irrespective of one's mental state. The feeling is akin to a fuzz that envelopes one's brain and cushions it from all the evils that surround us. But wait before you discard the theory as a figment of imagination. Studies have found that this simple act results in the release of a hormone, Oxytocin,which makes us feel loved and makes us more social. Now that you the secret behind it, make it a habit to greet your friends with a hug instead of wishing them with a plain 'hello'.

But that is not just all. Hugs have a way of relieving stress by lowering blood pressure and alleviating our fears. No wonder soccer player and cricket players love going into a huddle every now and then. It helps them beat stress before and during an important match. Make it a point to hug a friend who is feeling particularly stressed out and help him beat the blues. After all, that is what friends are for.

Unlike other relationships which come with their share of expectations, friends are the people who make you feel good irrespective of what you are. One maybe a super achiever or a guy next door, it does not matter as long as one is with friends. While we do not have the option of choosing our family, we are fortunate to have the freedom of choice when it comes to picking our friends. Hence it is important to keep our friends close to our heart. And what better way of doing it than to 'Share a hug' !! But even as the clock races closer to midnight and it is time to pop the bubbly, do not forget to celebrate responsibly.

Disclaimer - This blog is meant for people above 25 years of age.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tarana ( A festive recipe for Bada Osa )

Women folk are unusually resourceful. Who else would have thought of coming up with a dish from what can be described as a side-effect of preparing another dish. The other dish that I have mentioned is the Gaja or manda pitha that is prepared for Bada Osa. The 'khali' or cooked batter that remains sticking to the walls of the container is made into a somewhat watery kheer called the 'Tarana'.

While the Tarana is rather thin in consistency, it packs in quite a punch with a combination of flavours like black pepper, green cardamom and bay leaf. As it is cooked twice, once in the form of a khali and another time as a kheer, it is very light and easy to digest.

But it can also be made with fresh arwa pithau too. This takes a little longer to cook but is equally delicious. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 3 tsp thick rice paste (jeera rice/ gobindobhog rice)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp crushed peppercorn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ghee
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp sugar

Preparation - Wash and soak the rice for 5-6 hours. Grind into a smooth paste.

Cooking - Bring the water to a boil. Add the batter little by little and mix continuously to thicken the mixture.

Cook for 10 mins on a medium flame. Add the milk and season with bay leaf, crushed peppercorn and cardamom.

Boil for another 10 mins. Finally add the salt, sugar and just a drizzle of ghee. Stir a little to dissolve the sugar.

Remove from the flame.

Serve at room temperature. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bhubaneshwar - Driven by Design to Connect with Success!!

Little known fact about Bhubaneshwar ? It was designed by Otto Konigsberger in 1948. Otto Konigsberger ? Who ? He is the same dude who built what is supposed to be one of the best planned cities of modern India. In case you still do not know your history or rather geography, I am referring to Chandigarh. That itself speaks volumes about the planning and design that went into Odisha's capital city.

Well managed traffic in BBSR . Image courtesy - orissapost.com

the city at night . Image courtesy - indiamike.com

Don't get me wrong. I am just referring to the modern city that stands today. The erstwhile princely state of Kalinga on which the city stands today has paralleled historical significance and is well documented in the annals of history. But let us just focus on the thriving and bustling city has been ranked as the best place to do business by the World Bank in 2014 and now is on its way to become one of the first smart cities of India. Another feather in it's cap is that it is also being talked about as the education hub of eastern India what with a plethora engineering colleges,  an IIT, a top notch B-school like XIMB and recently, even AIIMS making this city their base. How is that for some credibility ?

AIIMS Bhubaneshwar . Image courtesy - orissapost.com

As one enters the city via the Biju Pattanaik International Airport, well planned wide roads flanked on both sides by walls that are beautifully decorated with murals give the impression of a city that holds progress close to its heart. But it's culture, even closer. Something about Bhubaneshwar tingles your senses whether it be your first visit to the city or the 100th one. And no, it is not only the aroma of its glorious but unsung cuisine. A whiff of history, a touch of devotion, glimpses of globalization, impeccable infrastructure, the right backing of technology and the willingness to embrace change are some of the factors that define this city.  And it is the amalgamation of everything that makes this city so special.

Blessed by the reigning deity, Lord Jagannaath, this is one city that has immense potential and is one of the next growth hubs. Apart from the thriving education industry, it can launch the next tourism and IT growth waves. TCS recently announced its expansion plan in BBSR with 3000 seats being added to its existing IT workforce. Already a couple of multinationals brands have set up their wares in the city over the last few years and new ones are in the pipeline.

This is one city that offers a great work life balance. The roads are wide and well maintained which ensures minimum traffic woes and since the city is well planned with a centrally located IT hub, it offers one of the shortest commutes among the Indian cities. Weekends are equally refreshing with a couple of great weekend destinations near the city. Puri, Chilika, Konark, Chandrabhaga beach and Deras dam are refreshing options and all of them can be reached in a few hours. And the great roads flanked by a stunning landscape make the drive a truly pleasant experience. I cannot do without mentioning the Puri Konark Marine drive which has been featured among the best drives in India.

Marine Drive . Image courtesy - mayfairhotels.com

For those with a love for history, this 'Temple city' as it popularly known, offers enormous options. The Udaygiri-Khandgiri caves, Dhauligiri, Mukteshwar temple, Lingaraj temple, Rajarani temple, the ruins of Sisupalgarh and the lesser known Yogini temples at Hirapur are example of splendid architecture and the immense historical significance of Kalinga. The government has taken an active interest in maintaining and preserving these sites.

Mukteshwara Temple . Image courtesy - dhrupadetcetera.blogspot.in

The city also offers some great eats and especially famous are the various Chenna sweets which are hard to find in other parts of the country.With so such at one's disposal, it is little wonder that an increasing number of young people are willing to settle in this fast developing city. For now, Bhubaneshwar may lack the glamour of a few other cities but it more than makes up for it by offering a great living environment.

This post is written for Tata Motors's #madeofgreat campaign which focuses on the core values of the brand - Drive, Design and Connect.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Anar - The latest variant from Paper Boat Drinks (Product Review)

Just before Diwali, a parcel arrived one afternoon. As I eagerly unwrapped it, a cute pink box stared back at me. Now I don't have to go on and on about the connection between the female of the species and the color called pink. A smile had already lit up my face even without having a peek at the contents. A package from Paper Boat has that uncanny knack of unleashing a deluge of memories.

I could have continued in that idyllic state of mind for hours had it not been my hyper kid who wanted to have a go at the contents. "Open Mama, open the box". As I lifted the lid, two pouches embossed with the familiar paper boat logo and a yet unfamiliar image stared back at me. "Anar". I said it aloud only to have my son scurrying into the kitchen for his favorite tumbler. And he was back in a fraction of a second with another request. "Open, I drink juice". Now I have been drinking this brand for the last three years and that confidence led me to pour out a glass for him even without going though the ingredient list. Yay. They are all natural and filled with goodness.

The kid had finished one pouch even before I could click some decent pics. But I have no complaints since he loved it so much. I would blindly trade the colas that he dotes on for a eco-friendly pouch of all natural goodness.

Coming back to the pink box. It also contained 'besan ka laddoo', a cutey fridge magnet, a couple of picture postcards and a personalized note. Even more cuteness packed into an cute box which is already gracing my dresser as a handy container for all the junk jewelry that I adore. Thank you Paper Boat Drinks. It was one of the best Diwali gifts I got.

Verdict on the 'Anar' variant -

Yaay's -
1. Low on sugar ( just 4.5 g/100ml)
2. Fruit flavour which will be a big hit with kids.
3. Low on calories ( 47.2 kcal/100 mL)
4. No preservatives
5. No added colors
6. All natural ingredients (as listed on package) - water, pomegranate juice concentrate, sugar, iodized salt, spices and condiments, and black salt.
7. Priced at Rupees 35/250 ml.
8. Gluten free.

Naay's -


Rating - I would rate it a 4.75/5 based on taste/calorie content/pricing and health perspective.

[ Though product samples sent by the company, my opinion is unbiased and strictly personal.]

Find more reviews of the Paper Boat drinks -

Link 1 - here ( Aamras, Jaljeera, Kokum and jamun kala khatta )
Link 2 - here (Ginger Lemon tea and Tulsi Tea )
Link 3 - here (chilled rasam and sattu )

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Home made Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt is the new ice-cream ! Sounds cliched but is true. However what I cannot understand is the fact that people are ready to shell out big bucks for a tiny tub of what is essentially some Greek yogurt dunked in a whole lot of chemicals (???).

Simply going by the definition, frozen yogurt is super cooled yogurt with fruit in it ! And it is super easy to make some at home too. Without resorting to artificial flavors, gelatin and even a ice cream maker. You will just need a regular blender or super fit biceps. Yeah, you need the latter in case you have to beat the yogurt in a big bowl with a heavy metal/wooden spoon to get that creamy consistency.

But rest assured that you will be suitably rewarded for you efforts and patience. Read on for recipe -

Preparation Time - 4-5 hours ( dont worry a lot off it is just standby time)

Ingredients -
  • 2 cups hung yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 3 tsp milk
  • 4-5 tsp sugar (as per taste)
  • 1 cup frozen fruit of your choice

Preparation - Beat the yogurt, milk and sugar till the sugar dissolves. Pop it into the freezer in a freezer-safe bowl.

After 30 mins take it out and churn it in a blender to break the formation of crystals. Put it back into the freezer. This process needs to be repeated 6-7 times to get that creamy texture.

Just before serving, take out the frozen yogurt from the freezer and give it a good buzz with the frozen fruit.

Serve immediately or atleast within an hour ( keep refrigerated till you serve it ).

Note - Vary the sugar as per taste. Sugar free can be used as a substitute if you are ok with using gelatin. The cooled gelatin liquid needs to be stirred into the beaten yogurt.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Baghara Baingan ( An opulent Hyderabadi curry )

During my years in Hyderabad, one of the curries that remained my favorite was the 'baghara baingan'. It was one of those curries that was regularly served by at the office canteen and also in the PG. Rich and spicy, it is a great side dish with some flavored rice. While I personally prefer it with some Pudina rice, many folks find it great with some Vegetable pulao or even vegetable biryani ! It can even be served as a substitute for 'mirchi ka salan'.

While the original version invariably uses peanuts, I substituted it with cashews. The resulting curry was equally rich but somewhat different in flavour and equally tasty. Since quite a few adults and especially kids are prone to peanut allergy, I can vouch that you can make this delicious curry without using peanuts in it.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 7-8 small eggplants
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tsp GG paste
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • a lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • salt to taste
  • oil for shallow frying

For the paste -

  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 6-7 cashews
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 dry red chilis

Preparation - Put 3-4 slits along the length of the eggplants. Make sure that the cut is only till 3/4 of the length and not more.

Chop the onion into small pieces.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add the cinnamon, cloves, broken red chili and bay leaf. Once it gets fragrant, add cashews and poppy seeds. Once the cashew turns golden, add the sesame seeds. Fry for 1 min.

Add the coconut to the same pan. Fry for 30 seconds and switch off.

Allow it to cool down and then grind into a coarse paste.

Soak the tamarind in 1/4 cup hot water, Squeeze the juice and discard the pulp.

Cooking - Heat sufficient oil in a pan for shallow frying.

Add the aubergines and fry on medium flame till the outer skin is completely brown. Remove from pan and keep aside.

Drain off the excess oil from the pan.

Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Let it splutter before adding the chopped onion and curry leaves.

Once onion is translucent, add GG paste. Fry for 2-3 mins before adding the paste along with 1 cup water.

Once it gets to a boil, add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala. Add salt to taste. Gently put the fried eggplants into the gravy.

Let it simmer for 5-6 mins before adding the tamarind pulp. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for another 5-6 mins before removing from the flame.

Serve with any kind of pulav or even biryani !!

Note - This curry tastes best when warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chuda Crumble with Frozen Yogurt

Dahi Chuda. A mass of beaten rice dunked in yogurt and sweetened with some sugar or jaggery. Like most Odia dishes it is nectar for the tongue, knosh for the stomach and nirvana for the soul. And it comes with the promise of an afterglow. Yep, just like good sex, good food is supposed to give one an afterglow. Nah, I am not referring to that halo kind of thing around your head but the deliciously luminous feeling that lights up within oneself. Medically it has got something to do with release of endorphins. Go google it up if you want to find out more on this stuff!!!

While technically the dish is just supposed to be beaten rice mixed with some curd and sugar, it gets magically metamorphosed in my MIL's hands. Freshly grated coconut, some crumbled ricotta, mashed banana and even some sweetened boondi adds enough character to this dish to give the Bollywood actors a run for their money. But sadly, it lacks the kind of visual appeal that would send one's salivary glands into an overdrive. A common malady when it comes to Odia cuisine.

Hence, I picked on this yummy breakfast favorite for my next makeover. Taking inspiration from a no-bake crumble, I deconstructed the original recipe and served it as a layered treat. The bottom layer is sliced bananas and honey with a hint of cinnamon. The middle layer is beaten rice, ricotta, freshly grated coconut and sugar blended together to give it the appearance of a crumble. And the final icing on the cake or the top layer is frozen yogurt with cardamom.

While I had intended to make it like one of those 'dessert in a jar' kind of presentation, I realized at the last moment that I has already used the jar to store some pickle that I had prepared. Had to settle for a tall glass instead.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10 mins ( plus 10 mins standby assuming that the frozen yogurt is readily available )

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 of a ripe banana
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 cup beaten rice/chuda/chivda
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 2 tbsp ricotta/chenna
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup frozen yogurt ( cardamom flavour )

Preparation - Slice the banana and layer it at the bottom of the glass/jar. Drizzle with honey and a pinch of cinnamon.

Take the beaten rice, ricotta, grated coconut and sugar in a blender. Buzz to get a mixture that has the appearance of breadcrumbs. Pour into the glass/jar over the banana slices. Pop into the fridge for about 10 -15 mins.

Finally top it up with the frozen yogurt. Serve immediately.

Note - Frozen yogurt is quite easy to prepare at home if you have access to good quality yogurt or Greek yogurt and some amount of patience. And best part is that you get it at almost 1/8th the price that you would have to pay outside. Will the sharing my gelatin free frozen yogurt recipe in a day or two.

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