Bannock: Bread of the First Nation’s people



I did not have to check the menu, as I knew, no matter what, I would be ordering bannocks ,  I was working in a Dene Settlement  up in the territories, the Friday menu always had freshly baked bannocks. Although this bread was very new to me, as I cut the still warm bannock  in half to slather the butter and jam, I was totally convinced that  the main ingredient in this recipe was “Love”………..


This delicious and easy bread stores well, can be cooked on a campfire or even fried.


Navigating these difficult times, I take comfort from food.

Salute to our ‘Home and native land’. Happy Canada day!

Recipe: Makes a dozen, depending on the size.


All purpose flour                          3 cups

Baking powder                            11/2 Tbsps

Salt                                             1/4 tsp

Cold butter                                  1/4 cup

Milk                                            11/2 cups


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Take a bowl with the all purpose flour, salt, baking powder and butter. Mix them together. Use both hands to mix the butter pieces and flour together, until it looks like wet sand.

Make a well in the middle, add the milk, Gently bring these two together using a fork . Do not knead.Just aim to bring it together as a loose dough. Now bring this on a lightly floured flat surface. Use all the fingers to spread it on all sides. Turn it over and use your fingers to extend again. Take a fork and pierce it all around. Take a round cookie cutter and cut into rounds.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Put the round pieces on the sheet. bake for 30-35 minutes. Take the cookie sheet out, turn each of the bannocks.

Enjoy them with a good slather of butter and jam of your choice.

These store well in a airtight container.

Sweet Pilaf : Mishti Pulao



Rice is intertwined with human life as a thread in a fabric. Any important event in ones life is celebrated with either cooked rice or uncooked grains.

Take for example ” Annaprashan”, an event to celebrate a child’s first solid food eating event. This is as big an event as a wedding. Rice is the main course along with other supporting dishes. A new bride is welcomed in her  husband’s family with a potful of rice grain, signifying prosperity for the whole family. “Serving rice” to the extended family is the first ‘token’ chore for a new bride. Blessings from the elders involve a few grains of rice. Puffed paddy grains are sometimes offered to mourner’s during a man’s last journey to the crematorium.

Pilaf or Pulao recipe changes with every geographic location. We in Bengal love it on the sweeter note. This dish goes very well with any main dish. It is a bit heavy on the oil and butter, but celebrations don’t happen every day, does it?

Here is the recipe.

Recipe: Serves 6.


Basmati Rice                                         3 cups

Cashews                                              1/3 cup

Raisins                                                 1/3 cup

Butter                                                   1/2 stick ( 1/4 cup )

Canola oil                                              1/3 cup

Bay leaves                                            4-5

Cumin seeds                                        1 tsp

Saffron                                                  big pinch

Milk                                                      1/3 cup

Cardamoms                                          5-6 pods

Cloves                                                  6-7

Cinnamon                                             2, 2 inch pieces

Ginger paste                                           2 tbsps

Salt to taste

Sugar                                                    2 Tbsps


Preheat gas to 400 degrees F.

Soak the saffron in warmed milk. Make a paste from the fresh ginger.

Wash the rice in two changes of water. Take a big saucepan with boiling water. Put the rice in, as soon as it is half done, take it out drain the water.

In another pan take the canola oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the bay leaf, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. Saute gently, as soon as the cumin seeds get a bit of colour add the raisins, wait till they get plump. Add the cashews next, fry till lightly coloured. Add the ginger paste and fry a few minutes. Make sure the spices do not burn, a sprinkle of water can be added now and then. Put the gas off when the raw smell of ginger is gone.

Take an ovenproof casserole. Pour the rice and the above spice mix, spread evenly. Sprinkle the butter on this mixture, add the salt and sugar, cover and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Take the casserole out, add the milk with saffron. We want some grains to remain white. Gently fluff it with a fork. Keep covered in the oven again for another 30 minutes with the gas off.

Give another mix and serve.

The rice grains should be separate. Check the salt and sugar to your liking. Enjoy!

Nimbu chawal: Lemon rice


By  Ratna,

untitled-4 The  white  butterfly  flew  aimlessly,  sitting  on  the  Prairie  crocus  once  and  on  the  Anemones  next,  going  back  to  the  crocuses  again. The  Robins  and  the  Blackbirds  are  tree  hopping.  It  is  spring  here  in  the  Prairies.  The  season  of  budding  and  blooming,  of  nesting  and  nursing.  The  season  of  a  new  beginning.


“Chawlo  garite  ghure  ashi”  let’s  go  for  a  drive,  offered  my  husband  N.  That  seemed  just  the  right  thing  to  do.  I  packed  some  snacks  and  my  camera  before  we  took  to  the  roads.


It  felt  like  the  nature  just  woke  up.  The  sky  so  clear  and  blue,  as  if  reassuring  the  surroundings,  everything  is  going  to  be  fine.  The  bent  bud  taking  that  clue  to  straighten  itself  first  then  opening  up  one  petal  at  a  time,  ever  so  slowly.


Lemon  rice  is  a  dish  that  requires  very  little  work.  It  is  an  excellent  way  to  use  up  left  over  rice  too.  Its  versatility  doesn’t  stop  there.  If  you  are  wondering  what    it  pairs  with?   It  is  as  comfortable  with  an  elaborate  vegetable  dish  at  its  side,  as  it  is  with  a  few  dollops  of  yoghurt  and  some  crispy  Poppadums.


The  wooden  bench  by  the  side  of  the  water  seemed  the  perfect  site  to  enjoy  our  snacks.  The  crunch  from  the  nuts,  the  tangy  taste  of  the  lemon  rice  complemented  each  other  just  right.

We  drove  aimlessly  on  the  country  roads.  ” Weren’t  we  here  a  few  minutes  back”  sometimes  we  said  in  unison.

It  didn’t  matter.

I  thought  of  the  white  butterfly…


Recipe:  Serves  3-4  as  snacks.


Cooked  rice                                                           1  cup

Ghee                                                                        1  Tbsp

Mustard  seeds                                                        1/4  tsp

Chana  dal                                                               1/2  Tbsp

Urad  dal                                                                  1/2  Tbsp

Peanuts                                                                     1  Tbsp

Cashew  nuts                                                            1  Tbsp

Curry  leaves                                                             5-6

Dry  red  chillies                                                         1-2

Coriander  leaves  chopped                                       1  Tsp

Turmeric  powder                                                     1/2  tsp

Salt  to  taste

Juice  of one  lemon


Take  the  ghee  in  a  saucepan  on  high  heat.  Fry  the  peanuts  till  golden  brown,  collect  them  on  paper  towels.  Add  the  mustard  seeds,  wait  till  it  pops,  then  add  the  chana  dal.  Fry  a  bit  till  it  changes  colour,  add  the  turmeric  powder,  cashews  red  chillies,  salt  and  curry  leaves.  Use  the  spatula  to  give  it  a  stir,  make  sure  they  don’t  stick  to  the  bottom  of  the  pan.  Put  the  gas  off  as  soon  as  cashews  brown  a  bit.

Add  the  rice,  mix  very  gently  so  the  grains  remain  intact.  Sprinkle  the  lemon  juice  on  top  and  give  one  more  stir.  Garnish  with  the  fried  peanuts  and  chopped  coriander  leaves.

You  are  done.

Inside  Scoop;

Curry  leaves  are  available  in  Indian  supermarkets.  Fresh  ones  are  the  first  choice,  dried  ones  are  available  too.

Urad  dal  is  Skinned  Black  lentil.

Chana  dal  is  Split  Desi  chick  peas.

Ghee  can  be  store  bought  or  made  at  home  too. Here  is  how  to.

Moong Pakon pitha: Yellow Moong bean and rice flour cake: A modern take: Gluten free.


By Ratna


Buy  her  a  gift  or  give  her  an  experience?  It  was  a  hard decision  for  mother’s  day  over  the  weekend.

“Mooch  Moochey  hoyecchhe”.  It’s  nice  and  crispy,  she  said  after a  bite  in  the  Pitha,  the  deep  creases  on  the  back  of  her  hands  almost  matching  the  design  on  the  Pithas.  She  looked  into  my  eyes  and  she  didn’t.  I  could  see  Ma  was  transported  to  a  different  time,  a  different  land.


A  land  with  many  rivers.  As  a  little  girl  she  remembers  those  carefree  days.  Taking  off  with  her  siblings  to  explore  the  neighbourhood  while  the  elders  in  the  family  were  busy  in  the  kitchen.  “Nodir  dhare  ekta  mishti  gondho  beroto”,  There  used  to  be  a  sweet  smell  on  the  river  bank,  she  is  not  sure  if  that  was  from  an  unfamiliar  flower  or  the  paddy  fields  nearby.  It  used  to  be  East  Bengal  then,  it  is  Bangladesh  now.

I  have  heard  these  stories  many  times.  My  octogenarian  mother  sometimes  mistakenly  calls  me  by  my  sisters  name  and  cannot  remember  what  she  had  for  breakfast  that  day.  But  the  stories  always  remain  consistent.


Osteoporosis  is  rapidly  claiming  her  four  feet  eleven  frame.  Arthritis  causing  her  knuckles  to  swell  and  fingers  to  twist,  as  if  daring  her  to  carry  on  the  daily  chores.  These  are  the  same  hands  that  tended  to  our  sore  knees  after  a  game,  embroidered  fine  designs  on  our  dresses  or  even  disciplined  us  when  needed.

Ki  korey  banali?   Khub  shundor  hoyeche.”    How  did  you  make  it?  They are  beautiful,  she  said,  overlooking  the  imperfections.

I  could  see  the  memories  that  were  coming  back  to  her.  Memories  of  the  land  that  she  will  not  be  visiting  again  but  live  only  through  these  experiences..

Gift  or  experience?   Glad  I  chose  to  bring  her  an  experience  for  Mother’s  day.


Recipe:  Number  of  yield  depends  on  the  size  of  the  design  you  choose.  About  18-20  on  average.


Yellow  Moong  beans                                       1/2  cup

Rice  powder                                                    1  cup

Cardamom  powder                                        1/2  tsp

Cinnamon  stick                                             1  inch  long  2  pcs

Sugar                                                              1  cup

Canola  oil                                                     1  Tbsp  plus  more  for  frying

Salt                                                                1/4  tsp


Dry  roast  the  yellow  moong   bean  in  a  sauce  pan  on  high  heat.  Keep  stirring  to make  sure  it  doesn’t  burn.  It  is  done  as  soon  as  it  gets  a  bit  of  colour.  Wash  with  running  water.

Take  this  roasted  moong  in  a  saucepan.  Add  about  four  glasses  of  water,  salt,  one  Tbsp of  oil,  cardamom  powder,  cinnamon  sticks  and  boil  until  mushy,  about  an  hour,  faster  if  using  a  pressure  cooker.  Discard  the  cinnamon  sticks.  Add  the  rice  powder  and  stir  with  a  whisk  to  mix  thoroughly.  Put  the  gas  off  and  cover  the  mixture  till  it  cools  a  bit.

Transfer  this  mixture  to  a  bowl.  Knead  with  oil  dipped  palm  to  form  a  smooth  dough.  Add  a  sprinkle  of  rice  powder  if  sticky.

Cut  out  small  balls,  the  size  of  a  lime.  Roll  it  such  it  stays  about  1/4th  inch  thick.  Refer  to  the  picture  above  and  this  video.  Draw  a  design  of  your  choice.  Use  a  tooth  pick  to  accentuate  the  edges  of  the  design.  Using  a  spatula  carefully  lift  these  and  collect  on  a  plate.  Keep  them  covered.

Take   canola  oil,  an  inch  deep  in  a  non  stick  frying  pan  on  medium  heat.  Carefully  fry  the  Pithas  till  golden  brown,  gently  turning  once.  Collect  them  on  a  kitchen  towel.


Take  the  sugar  with  with  3/4th  cup  water  on  high  heat.  Work  to  make  a  syrup  with  one  string  consistency.  Follow  this  instruction.  Dip  the  Pithas  carefully,  turn  once  and  remove.


Inside  Scoop;

Cooking  the  Pithas  is  a  folk  tradition,  hence  all  the  design  is  done  by  hand.  This  takes  a  lot  of  practise  and  patience.

Being  a  novice  with  this  Pitha,  I  took  help  from  cookie  cutters,  giving  it  a  modern  take.


Chana dal cheela: Savoury Husked split desi chick peas pancake. GF


 By  Ratna


Ki  Shundor,  How  beautiful.  Ki  Shundor  we  kept  repeating  these  two  words.

N,  my  husband  and  I  took  a  break  from  the  harsh  Prairie  winter  and  travelled  to  India  last  month.  We  had  a  fantastic  time  with  our  family.  We  also  managed  a  few  days  in  the  Pink  city,  Jaipur.  More  about  the  trip  later.

Shundor  rong,  beautiful  colour.  That’s  what  it  was.  There  was  colour  everywhere.  Having  spent  the  last  four  months  in  the  great  white  Northern  Alberta,  our  eyes  were  taking  in  the  surroundings,  as  parched  throat  takes  to  water.

I  think  it  was  the  walls  that  were  painted  pink  throughout  the  city  and  the  brightly  coloured  saris  and  turbans  of  the  locals  that  stood  out.  Or  was  it  the   resident  peacock  with  his   iridescent  blue  neck  roaming  around  the  property  unabashedly?


No,  No.  It  was  the  brilliant  colour  of  the  flowers  carpeting  the  walls  with  the  playful  Hummingbirds  busy  gathering  nectar.

I  am  confused.  You  see  what  I  mean?  After  all  it  isn’t  called  pink  city  for  no  reason.

We  did  the  Palaces  and  Museums  which  were  breathtaking.  The  food  blogger  in  me  always  longs  for  local  food  and  produce  markets.  I  don’t  mean  the  big  supermarkets,  but  the  village  lady  hawking  fresh  vegetables  in  her  big  wicker  basket  or  the  basic  kitchen  gadgets  from  the  weathered  hands  of  the  Iron smith.


There  was  a  lazy  day  when  we  had  breakfast  in  the  hotel  lawn.  The  white  wrought  iron  chairs  neatly  arranged  in  the  well  tendered  garden.  We  had  these  Cheelas  served  with  a  spicy  potato  curry.


The  hot  masala  chai  took  care  of  the  early  morning  nip  in  the  air.

There  was  something  else  in  the  air.  The  Pergola  in  the  middle  of  the  lawn  housed  the  flutist.  Adjusting  the  big  turban  on  his  head  he  blew  air  in  the  little  piece  of  wood.  Out  came  the  notes.  Exhilarating  in  one,  melancholy  with  the  other.  It  felt  like  he  held  the  strings  to  my  soul.


I  had  to  pinch  myself….



Made  16  small  pancakes.


Chana dal                                                                       1  cup

Shallot  cut  in  small  pcs                                                1

Cilantro                                                                            1/4 th  cup

Green  chillies                                                                  2  ( optional )

Turmeric powder                                                             1/2  tsp

Baking  powder                                                                1/4  tsp

Ajwain / Carom  seeds                                                       1/2  tsp

Salt                                                                                    To  taste

Water                                                                               As  required

Canola  oil                                                                        For  frying


Soak  the  chana  dal  in  water  for  about  couple  hours  and  grind  it  to  a  paste with  little  water.  Cut  the  shallot,  green  chillies  and  Cilantro  in  small  pieces.

In  a  bowl  mix  the  ground  dal,  shallot,  green  chillies  (  if  using  ),  cilantro  pieces,  turmeric,  baking  powder  and  carom  seeds.  Add  salt  to  taste.  Add  water  to  form  a  crepe  batter  consistency.

Heat  one  tsp  oil  in  a  non  stick  pan  on  medium  heat.  When  hot  pour  a  ladle  of  the  batter  on  it.  With  the  back  of  the  ladle  spread  it  to  about  21/2  inches  in  diameter.  Cook  for  about  4  minutes  one  side.  Add  a  tsp  of  oil  on  top  and  sides. Flip  over  and  cook  for  another  4  minutes.

Collect  them  on  a  plate.  Serve  them  hot  with  chutney,  pickle  or  yoghurt  of  your  choice.

I  served  them  with  Gongura  chutney  which  I  made  recently.  Here  is  the  recipe  for  it.

If  you  are  wondering  whether  Maple  syrup  can  be  used.  You  betcha.

Inside  Scoop;

If  the  batter  thickens  towards  the  end,  sprinkle  a  bit  water  to  bring  the  desired  consistency  back.

These  pack  well  for  kid’s  lunches  and  camping  trips  too.

Make  it  into  a  wrap  with  the  filling  of  your  choice.



Bhaja Muger Dal: Roasted Yellow Mung bean soup


By  Ratna

It  is  middle  of  the  week,  the  grocery  shopping  didn’t  go  the  way  you  wanted  over  the  weekend. The  deadline  at  work  is  looming.  Just  a  few  extras  like  the  kid’s  activities  or  taking  your  elderly  parent  for  their  doctor’s  appointment.  If  this  sounds  familiar  then  read  on.


I  look  for  a  one  pot  meal  option  as  a  solution.  My  pantry  always  has  an  assortment  of  “Dals”.  This  easy  soup  is  a  breeze  to  make.   Any  veggies  of  your  choice  can  be  added.   Grab  some  chunky  bread  or  a  bowl  of  rice  to  go  with  this  soup.  Dinner  is  served.


Mung  bean  is  very  easily  digestible  hence  works  well  with  either  the  young  or  infirm.  Friends  I  hope  you  like  this  no  fuss,  unpretentious,  every  day  recipe  that  is  very  popular  in  my  household.




Husked  and  split  yellow  mung  beans  ( Dal )                       2  Cups

Ginger  grated  from                                                                One  inch

Tomatoes                                                                               2,  pureed

Onion                                                                                      1  small

Grated  coconut                                                                       1/3 rd  cup

Cumin  seeds                                                                            1/2  tsp

Ghee                                                                                           1  Tbsp

Turmeric                                                                                      1/4  tsp

Salt                                                                                              To  taste

Mixed  vegetables  ( I  used  frozen )                                             1/2  cup


Dry  roast  the  Mung  dal  on  medium  high  flame  until  very  lightly  coloured.  Put  the  flame  off.  Rinse  the  dal  with  water  now,  drain  the  water  off.  Add  4  cups  of  water  and  the  turmeric,  let  it  boil  on  high  heat.  Keep  checking  on  it  and  adjust  water  until  it  is  cooked  and  is  in  the  desired  (  soup  like  )  consistency.  Add  the  frozen  vegetables.  If  using  fresh  vegetables  then  add  them  earlier.  Turn  the  flame  off.

Cut  the  onions  in  very  thin  slices  and  fry  them  until  brown.  Collect  them  on  paper  towel  and  set  aside.

Dry  roast  the  grated  coconut  till  very  light  brown.  Set  aside.

Add  the  roasted  coconut,  pureed  tomato  in  the  boiled  dal.  Add  salt.

In  a  small  frying  pan  take  the  ghee  on  high  heat.  When  hot  add  the  Cumin  seeds,  let  it  sizzle  a  little  then  throw  in  the  grated  ginger.  Saute  for  a  few  minutes  till  lightly  coloured  and  very  fragrant.  Put  the  gas  off.

Sprinkle  this  on  top  of  the  Dal.  Garnish  with  the  browned  onions.  Enjoy  it  hot.

Inside  Scoop;

When  rinsing  the  roasted  dal,  careful  with  the  water  which  splutters  a  lot.

Feel  free  to  adjust  the  consistency of  the  soup  to  your  liking  by  adding  the  right  amount  of  water.





Subzi wale makki roti: Vegetables and cornflour flatbread. GF


By  Ratna


October  12th  was   Pitri  Paksha,  which  translates  to  The  fortnight  of  the  Ancestors.  This  new  moon  day  we  show  gratitude  to  our  ancestors.  Not  only  do  we  owe  our  existence  to  them,  it  is  due  to  their  contribution  that  we  enjoy  everything  else  in  this  world.  We  are  ourselves  because  of  the  gifts  that  we  have  received  from  them.  If  we  broaden  the  definition  of  the  term  ancestors,  from  our  parents  or  grandparents  to  the  whole  humanity,  then  we  have  even  more  reason  to  be  thankful.  The  clothes  we  wear,  the  food  we  enjoy,  the  technology  we  use,  the  way  we  entertain  ourselves,  have  all  come  down  from  ‘the  ancestors.’  It  is  only  natural  that  we  sometimes  pause  in  our  life,  bow  our  heads  in  gratitude  and  pay  our  debts  to  them


The  ritual  involves  offering  water  to  their  soul.  The  fresh  harvest,  a  symbolic  gesture  for  food,  is  also  offered.

We  celebrated  Thanksgiving  in  Canada  on  the  12th.  It  is  a  day  we  thank  the  almighty  God  for  the  bountiful  harvest  with  which  we  have  been  blessed.  Families  get  together  for  sumptuous  feasts,  parades  are  held  and  pumpkin  pies  are  baked  to  celebrate  the  day.

Two  faraway  countries,  India  and  Canada,  but  similar  traditions.


I  had  carrots  and  beets  freshly  harvested  from  the  garden.  Instead  of  pies  I  worked  them  into  flatbreads.  With  crunchy  radishes  or  smooth  yoghurt  and  some  fierce  pickles  for  a  side,  it  made  an  excellent  brunch  menu.

Recipe:  From  my  friend  Parul.

Made  4  pieces.


Grated  carrots                                                 1/4 th cup

Grated  beets                                                    1/4 th cup

Grated  Cauliflower                                            1/4 th  cup

Corn  flour  ( see  notes )                                    1  cup

Cream                                                               1/2  cup

Salt                                                                    To  taste

Pepper                                                              To  taste


Mix  all  the  dry  ingredients  together  in  a  bowl.  Pour  the  cream  to  make  it  into  a  soft  dough.  Divide  them  into  four  equal  parts  to  form  lemon  size  balls.  Line  the  countertop  with  a  piece  of  wax  paper.  Roll  the  ball  gently  in  a  circle,  3  inches  diameter  circle.  Take  care,  for  the  absence  of  gluten  makes  it  hard to  bind.

With  the  help  of  a  flat  spatula  transfer  this  on  to  a  greased  heated  frying  pan  on  medium  heat.  After  about  a  minute,  gently  flip  it  over.  Put  a  teaspoon  of  oil  on  it.  Gently  press  the  surface  with  the spatula  and  rotate  the  bread  on  the  pan.  Repeat  the  same  with  the  other  side  until  lightly  crispy,  about  8  minutes  total.

Serve  hot  with  a  dollop  of  butter on  top,

Inside  Scoop;

While  rolling  the  dough,  run  the  pin  to  one  side  ( say  north ),  lift  the  pin,  bring  it  to  the  middle,  now  roll  it  to  the  other  side  ( say  south ).  Rotate  the  wax  paper  and  repeat  the  above  procedure.

If  you  see  the  sides  are  not  as  smooth,  tuck  them  in  with  wet  finger.

Traditionally  it  is  served  with  Saag  (  leafy  greens  ).  However  potato  or  any  other  curry  goes  well  too.

It  could  be  done  just  plain  without  any  veggies  too.

I  have  used  this  brand  of  cornflour  “Punjabi  Makki de  Atta  PTI”.

I  have  referred  to  Wikipedia  and  Isha  foundation  blog  for  the  details  on  Pitri  paksha.