Sweetened flatttened rice: Mitha poha: Mishti Chirey; GF snack

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…. The big white butterfly sat on the golden marigold before hopping off to the pink bougenvillea vine. Behind which ran a bunch of kids of all ages between eleven and two. It was summer holidays and every year we visited our granpa’s house. With no electronic devices to entertain us we remained busy chasing butterflies, climbing the guava tree, playing tag, My mum would be busy with my aunties, giving a hand to my granma in the kitchen. They would catch up with the latest gossip, alternating between hushed whispers and bursts of loud laughter. With uncles and aunties and their families, the kitchen remained forever busy, ready to cater breakfast lunch, snacks, munchies, supper to toddlers and seniors alike.

….. Chirey or flattened rice makes this easy snack, which can be made ahead. It comes handy any time of the day, either with a cup of tea, or just by itself for the kids.

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… Fast forward a few decades, the cousins have their own families now. Face time, Whats app kept us connected. The conversation always drifted back to the good old days, our visits to our granpa’s. We always reminisced the same stories, enjoyed them now as if they were never old. Then came COVID 19 . My auntie and her husband passed away the same day. Before we finished mourning their loss, my cousin tested positive. Armed with the first dose of the vaccine he put up a brave fight for 31 days in ICU before succumbing to the virus. Just shy of his fiftieth  birthday, all he left behind, besides his family is a lot of memories…..

Stay safe dear friends.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a snack.

Ingredients;

Chirey ( Flattened rice).                      2 cups

Peanuts                                            1/2 cup

Ghee                                                2 Tbsps

Salt                                                   To taste

Sugar                                                2 tsps

Method;

Dry roast the peanuts on medium heat in a pan till slight change in colour, about 10 minutes. Collect them in a bowl. Take the Chirey on the pan on a medium low flame and dry roast for about 10 minutes, stirring all the time. Add one tablespoon of ghee and give a nice mix. Continue stirring. Throw in the peanuts, salt and the other table spoon of ghee and roast for another 10 minutes. Add the sugar and mix again. The colour of the Chirey will have changed and the sugar tends to stick on to the Chirey. Switch the gas off. Collect in a bowl, wait to cool down before you dig in.

This stores well in airtight container. Comes handy in camping. trips, long journeys or just as snack.

Note;

Chirey ( Flattened rice) is available at Indian grocery stores.

Eggless Raspberry Linzer cookies.

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…….What Zer? I asked in surprise.  Linzer , my friend replied quite matter of factly.

“Jam Bishcoot” I said firmly, and that’s  how I know these treats from way back when. They can also be “Cream Bishcoot”, with different flavoured creams sandwiched in between., I added, to prove my vast knowledge in the Bishcoot world.

…… “Ebarey petey betha hobey”, It will hurt your tomorrow, warned my Ma, and. hid the box on the very back of the top shelf in the pantry. The round blue box with pictures of cherub faces adorned with flowers on their heads had been our target ever since Baba brought it home.

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Afternoon was a time Ma had to herself, she sat on the veranda with the fleeting winter sun on her back either with a novel in hand or her knitting. We sisters decided that would be the perfect time for the heist.

The youngest sibling was directed to climb to the top of the pyramid formed by the older girls. She would hand over the box, which would be emptied  in lighting speed and kept back in place.

We held our breath as the tiniest hands grabbed the corner of the box. Just when I was deciding if I would lick the jam first or give a bite, Bam, my sister lost her concentration and fell. A bunch of red beaked parrots were fighting on the guava tree.

The rest went pretty fast. Ma came running, a tight slap on my face for putting my youngest sister through this traumatic event. The usual “I told you so”…

Recipe : Made 8.

Ingredients

All purpose flour                  1 cup

Almond flour                        1/4 cup

Unsalted butter                    1/2 cup

Icing sugar                           1/2 cup

Vanilla extract                      1/4 tsp

Salt                                     1/8 tsp

Raspberry jam                      1/4 cup

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl combine flour and almond flour and salt.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and icing sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat another minute.

Lower the speed and add the dry ingredients, mix till combined.

Gather the dough, flatten in two disc about an inch thick, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for about an hour. Roll the cookie dough between two layers of parchment to 1/4 inches thick. Use a 3 inches cookie cutter to cut the cookies, gather the scraps, roll again and cut.  I used a heart cookie cutter on half of the cookies to get the design  Chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies sit on a wire crack. When cool take spoonful of jam and put it on the cookie surface without the heart cutout. Seat the heart cut out cookie on top.

Enjoy.

Notes;

I added a couple table spoon of milk to the dough, as it appeared very dry to me.

The rolling pin was from @maria.leonova

Chakli : Murukku : Savoury rice flour swirls

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Festivities are intimately related with food. Sweet or savoury, crispy or syrup dunked, festivals always call for special treats.

Every household have their tradition of treat making. Kids and elders alike look forward to these.

The Chaklis are very famous in the southern part of India. A train journey over a few days calls for these snacks to be packed carefully and brought along. You never know when you feel like munching something.

These store very well in air tight container for several months.

Enjoy…

Recipe: made a doz ( depends on the size )

Ingredient ;

Rice flour                                    1cup

Chickpea flour                              1/4 cup

Turmeric powder                         1/2 tsp

Paprika                                       1/2 tsp

Ajwain ( carrom seeds )               1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds                              1/4 tsp

Salt                                           1 tsp

canola oil                                 1 tbsp plus for frying

Hot water                                1 cup

Method;

Take the rice flour, chick pea flour, all  the spices, 1 tbsp oil and mix well. Add the hot water, use a spatula to bring things together. When warm use your hand to make it into a dough. Brush it with half tsp of oil, cover and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Take the Chakli maker, grease the inside. Take a portion of the dough , mold it to a cylinder and insert it into the maker, fitted with the star shaped, hole.

On a Sil pat or wax paper, press the maker and let the dough flow out through the star hole , move your hand to form a swirl. Do a few of these.

Take a deep bottomed wok, fill canola oil about an inch and half deep, Put the gas on high heat. Drop a tiny bit of the batter to see if it rises to the top of the oil. The oil is now ready. Carefully lift the chaklis from the wax paper and drop them in the oil. Crank the heat down to low medium. Flip these over only after the first side is done or has changed colour to light brown.

Collect them on kitchen towel.

Eggless sugar cookies for Halloween

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I had a pretty last minute request to bake some simple sugar cookies for a friend. “The kids are going to decorate them together for Halloween” he added. Being the novice baker that I am, this was huge. “But of course I can “, I replied in the same breath. Not for once taking into consideration it was a week day, I will barely have a few hours at the end of a hard working tuesday.

The rational part of my brain said, Ratna, you realize that all the star bakers are probably drowned with orders of cakes, cookies, muffins and other ghoulish treats, they have no time doing “just plain sugar cookies’. The other part of my brain said’ are you kidding me, maybe I am just too modest. Maybe I am much better than I consider myself to be!

At the end of a very long day, I measured the flour and sugar, reading and rereading the recipe, checking the labels of my vanilla bottle ( a very minor mishap happened when I poured coffee flavour instead of vanilla ). The stand mixer was put to work, which gave me back a perfect dough. Following the recipe to the T, I put the dough in the fridge to chill.

Looking for the plain round cookie cutter from the four shoe boxes full of all shapes from Christmas to easter, Linzer to zoo animals, flowers to ginger bread men, it dawned on me that I should put my Halloween cookie cutters to use too. Between the witch’s hat to smiling pumpkin face my hand went for the silicone cookie sheet with cavities. Just press the dough in it, and bake. Very smart move, I said to myself.

It was past midnight when the few dozen cookies were put on wire racks to cool down just as the recipe called for.

As I opened my eyes in the morning I ran to the kitchen to appreciate my handiwork. The plain rounds turned out perfect. What are these , weird faces from the silicone cavities? On a closer look I found that it were the little chicks hatching from the eggs, easter cookies which I mistook for smiley pumpkin faces. Hmmmm….

Plan B was launched, how can the little chicks be changed to a halloween theme? Cover the faces! Yup, just cover the faces. Make them into mummies. Phew! sometimes I am so proud of myself. Save the two eyes every bit of the face was covered, and here I present a bunch of totally spooky Halloween cookies just for you.

Recipe; Adapted from Mommy’s Home cooking.

Got 21/2 dozen cookies. Numbers may vary depending on size.

Ingredient,

All purpose flour                             3 cups

Granulated sugar                         1 cup

Softened cream cheese              8 oz

Unsalted butter softened            3/4 cup

Baking powder                         1/2 tsp

Vanilla extract                           2 tsps

Store bought icing, colours..

Instruction;

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the baking sheets with Silpat sheet or parchment paper.

Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.Add salt and sat aside. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer until mixed thoroughly and the butter is light coloured and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and vanilla, mix until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl too.

Add the flour mixture, I usually cover it with a tea towel, and mix on low speed till just combined. Take the towel off, run the machine a little more if needed. We only want to form a rough dough. Put the mixer off. Take the dough out on the counter top. Divide in two halves. Shape into two discs. Cover with saran wrap, let these sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Take one disc out, dust some flour on the counter top. Roll this flat till about 1/4 inches thick, Use flour if sticky, cut out your favourite shapes with a cookie cutter. Place them 1 inch apart, let them chill in the fridge one more time for another 15 minutes. Use the scraps and roll them again. Repeat this with the second dough disc.

Bake till the edges are light brown in colour about 12 minutes.

Let it sit on a wire rack to cool completely.. Decorate to your liking. I used store bought icing.

Enjoy!

Cilantro Fritters : Dhoney patar bora

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There is no denying of the fact that summer has departed us. The leaves are turning yellow, the ‘Pumpkin spice latte’ is back in stores, and to top it all off there was frost this morning. Flip flops, lawn mowers, barbeques will slowly give way to hats, mitts and snow shovels. This cool weather calls for hot beverages, soups and for me fried food! Ya I know….

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A hot cup of tea needs some crispy fried snacks by its side. This is a match made in heaven. These fritters are best enjoyed piping hot. It can also be made and frozen for later use. Just fry them when you need. I have some ketchup and mayo as dip, use any dip of your choice.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe: Made 13 pieces.

Ingredients;

Whole wheat flour                                     2 cups

Rice flour                                                   1 cup

Poppy seeds                                              1 cup

Chopped cilantro                                         2 cups

Salt to taste

Jaggery                                                         1 tsp

Chilly powder                                                   1 tsp

Asafoetida                                                       1 1/2 tsp

Water as needed

Oil to fry.

Chaat masala                                 1 tbsp

Method;

Mix  the first eight ingredients with water to form a dough. Let it rest for half hour.

Divide it into equal portions. Make a patty about one and half inch diameter.

Take a nonstick pan on medium heat. Shallow fry the patties until golden brown, flip and fry the other side.

Collect them on kitchen towel. Sprinkle some Chaat masala and enjoy.

 

 

Kumro Phul Bhaja : Squash blossom fritters

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Did I tell you Zucchini plants and I do not get along. I mean when my neighbours, friends, co workers are growing zucchinis, almost the size of a baseball, my plants have officially declared war against my efforts. Make sure you water them properly, are they getting enough sunlight, cut the bottom leaves off, maybe you have all male flowers, try pollinating them yourselves…. came the friendly advice. I left no stone unturned, armed with knowledge from google, I set out on a sex determination mission, is the back of the flower plump or flat? ….

I also had planted a few Squash plants, the stickers on them showed amber coloured beauties. A picture of beautifully carved squashes on the front door step during Halloween flashed in my mind. I dutifully watered them, counted the blossoms in my fingers. Alas that is where they stopped too. Not one matured into a respectable size.

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Accepting my defeat, I decided to consolidate my gains. If no veggies, I am going to use up the flowers. It is past mid August, the leaves will  change colour pretty soon.  I plucked the flowers and enjoyed these beautiful fritters with a hot cup of tea. With the thunderstorm  at the background, I felt like I won. What do you think friends?

Recipe; Made 11. 

Ingredients,

Squash / Zucchini blossoms         11

Besan ( Chickpea flour )                 1/2 cup

Poppy seeds                                  1/2 tbsp

Turmeric powder                             1/4 tsp

Nigella seeds                                   1/4 tsp

Baking soda                                    a very small pinch

Chaat masala                                 1 tsp

Canola oil for frying

Salt to taste

Method,

Wash the flowers nicely. Cut off the sepals from outside and pistil from inside the flower. Lay them on kitchen towel to dry.

Make a batter with the above ingredients and a table spoon of oil. Mix water slowly and whisk to get rid of lumps. The consistency should be that of a cake batter or a tad runnier. Let it stand for about 20 minutes.

Take canola oil in a deep pan about an inch deep on high heat. Dip the flower in the batter, coat it evenly. Gently drop this in the hot oil, crank the heat down to medium now, look for a change in colour to light brown , flip it over so both sides are cooked,

Collect them on kitchen towel. Sprinkle the Chaat masala on top.  Enjoy them with a cup of piping hot tea.

Inside Scoop,

Chaat masala available in Indian grocery store or online.

 

Murir Moa : Puffed rice balls : GF

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Back in the day when we did not have a variety of ready made snacks available for the kids, mothers and grandmothers used to spend many afternoons painstakingly prepare an assortment of snacks at home.

I specially remember our summer holidays , when we used to visit our grandparents.Our uncles landed with their families as well. For that one month the house used to be super busy with grandkids ranging from preteens to infant. Those were days before cell phones and television. We were busy playing with our cousins during the day. My grand dad was an excellent story teller. He had no problem mesmerizing us grand kids of different ages with his story telling. The youngest one would be on his lap, some sitting on the armrest of his ‘plantation style’ armchair. Few others around his feet. The one thing that was common was we were all wide eyed in rapt attention, trying to follow the ups and downs of the story.

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My grandmother on the other hand, used to be busy in the kitchen. With limited resources she never failed to surprise us with homemade snacks. Walking for days together, with only a few of her belongings to this land from the former “East Pakistan’, as a refugee, hard work came to her naturally. Savoury or sweet she could whip up either in no time.The “Moa” was always there. One by one she moulded the round shape on the palm of her hand, which used to be angry red from the heat.

Many years later, when I had my own family did I realize how much effort it takes, to come up with a big batch of these. “Love” was the main sweetener, no matter how much jaggery we add.

Recipe: Made 15

Ingredients;

Murmura ( Puffed rice )                            3 cups

Ghee                                                        1 Tbsp

Jaggery                                                     1 cup

Method,

Dry roast the Murmura on medium flame for a few minutes only to make it crunchier.

In another pan take the ghee and jaggery on slow flame. I have used powdered jaggery. Let it melt and be frothy, about 11 minutes. Take a drop of this in a bowl of water. If this sets right away, then the jaggery is ready.

Put the gas off. Pour the murmura in the molten jaggery. Mix it nicely such that the murmura is evenly coated.

Wait for this mixture to cool down a bit, so that it can be handled on the palm. I used a pair of silicone gloves, that definitely helped. Take a handful, press on all sides to give a round shape.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy for a couple of weeks.