Oats & Dates Squares / Bars

When I was asked to participate in the A to Z recipe challenge, a challenge initiated on Facebook Group, I was wondering what could be my recipe, that too starting with the letter ‘D’? Date was something, that I thought about right from the beginning, but was not sure of something interesting with dates. Then, all of a sudden, I got reminded of this recipe, of bars or blocks, made of dates and oats.

These days, oats is a common feature in the breakfast, having a high nutritious and health value. And I could use it in a completely new avatar in this recipe; this thought made me super excited. Luckily the oats and dates bar came out pretty nicely, quite like the way I thought. Now, I am pretty pleased to live up to the challenge. I hope you will love this crunchy bites with the falvaour of dates.

“Oats & Dates Squares / Bars” is my contribution to the A to Z recipe challenge for the month of November. Letter “D” is the challenge for this month and I choose Dates as the key ingredient of my recipe.

Oats & Dates Squares / Bars

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Cheeni Adhirasam (a Tamil Sweet for Diwali) – Guest Post by Swapna Karthik of Swapna’s Kitchen

Me and Swapna came to know each other through food blogging. This acquaintance quickly turned into friendship  which grew only stronger over time. I feel blessed to know such an wonderful person like Swapna with whom my bond expanded beyond the boundary of blogging.

As my dear friend hails from Chennai, her blog Swapna’s Kitchen is full of amazing traditional Tamil recipes. Also one will be surprised to find a bouquet of recipes consisting of sweets, baked goods, snacks and what not. I am bit indulged to know many nice non-veg dishes from her blog. Do check her blog which is a must visit.

Just a few days back I asked her to do a guest post for me. In return she shared with me the recipe of a traditional Tamilian sweet dish, Cheeni Adhirasam.

As I get to know from her ‘Adhirasam’ is a traditional deep fried sweet specially made during Diwali with rice flour and jaggery or sugar. Those who don’t like the taste of jaggery can try this authentic recipe with sugar. In that case one need to take care of the sugar consistency. If the sugar consistency turns hard then the adhirasams would also turn hard. Try to use ponni pacharisi (raw rice) for perfect adhirasams. Always fry the adhirasam in low flame, it does take time to get cooked.

Swapna’s guest post for my blog is one of my sweetest gifts for Diwali ever. Do try this sweet at home this Diwali and have a fun filled celebrations with your loved ones. Thank you so much Swapna and Happy Diwali to all my friends and fellow bloggers.

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Bread Pizza on Tawa

Bread is perhaps the most common item for breakfast around the world. Even in India, a slice of bread has replaced the traditional regional foods for breakfast. I cannot think of my busy weekdays mornings without bread, which you can just bake and have it with a spoon of butter or jam. I must admit that since my childhood I have been a big fan of a crunchy toast with lots of butter and sugar on top of it and the love affair continues till date.  However, with growing age I am trying to cut  down the amount of consumable butter and sugar. 🙂

Sometimes I also get bored with bread toasts. Luckily, plenty of options for cheeses are available in the market which tempts me to carry out experiments with mundane breakfasts with breads. And here I am with a quick, easy and delicious ‘Bread Pizza’ recipe with capsicum, tomato, herbs like oregano and basil and grated cheese . I am pretty sure that kids will love it too. It can also be served as snacks anytime in the day.

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Chicken Lababdar

After trying my hands on so many different chicken recipes, I have come to the conclusion that this exploration is a never exhaustive process and one can not really run out of the recipes which offer flavour, taste and challenge, nevertheless. The present one, known as Chicken Lababdar, which is basically a Mughlai Khana, adds variety to the existing palate of chicken delicay. And as the name perhaps indicates to a spicy, rich and high calorimetric non-veg genre, indeed ‘lababdar’ lives up to the expectation with dose of fresh cream and cheese. Ideal to enhance the mood of festivity, Chicken Lababdar although bearing some similarity to Butter Chicken, is much easier to prepare and surprise.

Chicken Lababdar

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Chocolate Kalakand with Condensed Milk (Milkmaid)

We all wait round the year for the festive season which sets off with Durga Puja and Navaratri and continues till Deepavali. While soaking in the joy of festivity, as Durga Puja is just over, on the occasion of Bijoya Dashami or Dusshera, I believe it is great to share a recipe of a favourite sweet dish called Kalakand, to be precise chocolate Kalakand

If one recalls, I shared Kalakand recipe once, but this time it is slightly different in terms of preparation and content. Kalakand with a chocloate flavour is new and rocking. And it is much quick and easy this time coz I used condensed milk bypassing the lengthy churning procedure adopted last time.

I feel happy and content sharing sweets with you, my fellow bloggers and patrons and wish Ma Durga showers blessings on you and your family.

Chocolate Kalakand

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Ol Chingri r Dalna (Elephant Foot Yam Curry with Prawn)

For some reason unknown, these days my husband got so enthusiastic about ‘ol’, a seasonal vegetable of highly moderate status; not even much well known either, that he buys it every other day and I am compelled to prepare curry out of it. As this story is recurring much too often, I am prompted to try different dishes with ol to make it a bit more interesting. Thus I arrive at the present dish, where I make diced ol marry with prawns in a spicy curry. The presence of potato pieces make it even more delightful, as usual though. To be noted here that this dish is not at all invented by me, but collected from a old popular recipe. To people, who are aware about ol, this dish might seem interesting. And for the rest, here comes a dose of GK on ol. Falling in the category of ‘Yam’ (sweet potato etc.), ol is basically a tropical ‘tuber’ crop which is nothing but a much thickened underground part of stem. It has an interesting English name ‘Elephant Foot Yam’ probably due to its jumbo size.

Ol Chingri r Dalna (Elephant Foot Yam Curry with Prawn)

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Mutton & Cheese Pie

‘Pie’ is nothing but a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry.

I recall to share a few posts on tarts ( Fruit Tartlets, Cherry tomato & poppy seed tartlets, Blue Cheese & Walnut Tartlets, Caramelized Lemon Tart ) in the past. Pies, which fall almost in the same category of tarts, but with a lid, are pretty interesting baked items too. Here I share with you the recipe of a savoury pie filled with mutton and cheese which also happens to be my first ever post on pie.

‘Mutton & Cheese Pie’ reminds me my good old days in Utrecht, Holland, where I got exposed to different kinds of baked items. Quite a few times I tested the savoury pies in small street-side baking shops there for which I grew an instant linking. It has been almost 4 years since I am back from Europe and after such a long time, finally managed to try one of my favourites among those pies, by my own. However, as a substitute of lamb meat, I used mutton along with Cheese, the latter being an addition and innovation from my side. One can skip adding cheese at will,  since simple mutton pies are also pretty delicious.

Mutton & Cheese Pie

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Red Velvet Cake

It always feels nice to be back to baker’s block and post something or other on baking. Off late, what attracted my attention is the spongy cake covered with white cream and red dust on the top sporting a damn tempting look, people are going gaga over. A bit of research revealed that the red dust is not coming from bit root, as I thought, but from simple red food colour which made life easy. The USP for this cake is cream cheese frosting which is a break from usual butter cream or whipped cream used for cake icing and which also brings in an interesting flavour. It can lighten up any occasion many folds which was also a motivation for me to bake it for my marriage anniversary.

Red Velvet Cake

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Hilsa fish in light gravy (Ilish Macher Jhol)

Hilsa (Ilish in Bengali), the most quintessential Bengali fish is still counted to be the poster boy of Bengali cuisine and culture withstanding the onslaught of modernity. Undoubtedly one of the most exotic fishes ever to be come out from the water of Bengal (East Bengal to be precise), make stuff for legends. A few years back, I have shared with you recipe of Bhapa Ilish or Smoked Hilsa which is one of the richest treatments that can be meted with ‘Ilish’. In comparison, the present recipe describes a light gravy with flavours of Brinjal and pinch of Kalonji. The best part of this recipe is that, Ilish flourishes in taste in the light gravy as the latter acts as the perfect foil for the former. It further proves that Hilsa imposes its uniqueness both in the rich must mustrad gravy as much as it does in light soup like ‘jhol’.

Hilsa fish in light gravy (Ilish Macher Jhol)

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Chinir Narkol Naru (Coconut Laddu with Sugar)

Once, I have had the pleasure to share the recipe of coconut laddu with you, that too a while back (Coconut Laddu with Jaggery (Gurher Narkol Naru)). Here, I present the same but with a difference. Here the Laddu is getting prepared with Sugar instead of Jaggery. Must admit, that both are equally delicious, however none to be blamed if at all having an edgy preference. The effort gone into grating the coconut turns into a delight when you put those coconut balls into your mouth and they melt happily. A must during the Dashami or Dusshera in Bengal, coconut laddu can be prepared whenever your sweet teeth need to be sharpened.

Coconut Laddu with Sugar (Chinir Narkel Naru)

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Chelo Kebab

‘Chelo Kebab’ consists of Rice or ‘Chelo’ and Kebabs or grilled meat. It is considered as the ‘national dish of Iran’. A butter flavoured rice is accompanied with ‘cubed chicken tikka’, ‘minced mutton seekh kebab’, poached egg, grilled tomato and a scoop of butter.

Few famous restaurants in Kolkata make this dish popular to all Kolkatans. Thus it becomes a worth having dish during our visit in Kolkata. If you are not willing to have a spicy mutton or chicken gravy still want to have the meat then this dish can be one of your top choices. Again rice fulfills the carbohydrate need of this protein rich dish which presents a complete meal to you.

Chelo Kebab

Chelo Kebab

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Methi Mathri

Mathri is the famous Rajasthani namkeen aka savoury snack, I came to know about while staying here in Delhi. In fact it is hugely popular in northern India and served at marriages and pujas. It has some basic similarities with Nimkee, the quintessential bengali namkeen.

Here I prepared a special kind of ‘mathri’ having some additional ingredients like methi (fenugreek leaves) and various spices. Produced in heaps, mathri can be best enjoyed with tea or served with pickle. Don’t mind if it is a bit oily since the taste is simply unbeatable and the extra oil surely can be soaked out with a tissue underneath.

Methi Mathri

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Spiced Chocolate Muffins

Muffins have always been a treat for my tongue and frankly I don’t need any occasion to bake a bunch of fresh muffins. So far I shared with you some interesting recipes of muffins like the apple – cinnamon muffins and fig – almond muffins which were bit experimental too. Even the savoury ones like the spicy – chicken muffinsharb muffins with smoked cheese were slightly unorthodox in the muffin family. This time, I’ve decided to turn traditional and share the recipe of much adored chocolate muffins which are however loaded with spices and chocolate chips. A bite in the muffin and one gets swayed away by the sweetness of chocolate with a pinch of spices.

Spiced Chocolate Muffins

Spiced Chocolate Muffins

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Lau er Dalna or Bottle gourd & Potato Curry

Month of July can be regarded as an ideal month for rainy season. However, in Delhi it is hard to find a completely rain drenched day.  For me, here, the extended summer starts in April and ends in September. I dearly miss the good old Monsoon of my growing years in Kolkata.

However summer brings with it a plateful of vegetables among which ‘Bottle Gourd’ or ‘Lauki’ or ‘Lau’ (in Bengali) is perhaps the commonest and still my beloved. Thinking of bottle gourd, the dish which comes in my mind at the foremost is Lau Ghanto or the traditional bottle gourd curry. For preparing ‘Lau Ghanto’ one needs to chop the bottle gourd very fine which is a bit time consuming. While an alternative preparation with bottle gourd, known as  ‘Lau er Dalna’, can be prepared much easily which I present here.Potato and bottle gourd chunks are simply cooked in Indian spices to make a curry for Lau er dalna. This dish is very delicious too with an aroma of garam masala and ghee and indeed a great accompaniment of plain rice or roti or paratha.

Lau er Dalna (Bottle Gourd & Potato Curry)

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Aam Doi or Ripe Mango Curd

Curd or yogurt is found almost in everyone’s refrigerator, particularly during summer. It is also used in many of Indian veg or non-veg dishes as a taste enhancing agent. Many of us have already added this calcium rich home-made ‘dahi’ in our daily lunch menu.

Now to give it an essential Summer touch, I tried for ‘Aam doi’ or ‘Ripe Mango Curd’ since mangoes are my favorite and available aplenty these days. I find it hard to come across the really good quality sugary sweet mangoes here in Delhi. But this season, I was pleasantly surprised to have my hands on the ‘Dasheri Aam’, one of its kind of juicy mangoes, happened to be deliciously sweet as well. And I could not resist myself from trying this recipe of ‘aam doi’ which anyway needed the ripe and sweet variety of mangoes. Though nothing can beat Bengali’s quintessential ‘Mishti doi’ or ‘Sweet Dahi’ as the supreme dessert, Aaam Doi is lip smacking too being as a summer blessing.

Aam Doi or Ripe Mango Curd

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Masla Borir Jhal (Sun Dried Lentil Dumplings in Mustard Curry)

Bori or sun-dried lentil dumplings is a traditional ingredient used in a number of bengali preparations. Often it plays a silent role to enhance the taste of the dish and thus the secret USP. We can’t think of many veg curries (like Lau Ghanto or Bottle Gourd Curry , Sukto , Mochar Ghonto (Dry Banana Flower Curry) , Mulor Ghonto/ Stir-fried Radish etc.) and fish curries (with Tangra fish , Rahu, Hilsa ect.) without bori in them.

‘Bori’ can be made of urad dal, masoor dal or even chana dal. Thick airy lentil paste is prepared and dried under direct sun in dumpling shpes. In earlier times, ‘bori’ used to be prepared at home. However, these days it is readily available in market.

‘Masla bori’ is a special kind of Urad dal bori with added spices. Usually, ‘bori’ is a used as a supplementary ingredient. However, it is the key ingredient in this recipe. The whole preparation here is based around ‘bori’ which is made into a tasty curry with mustard sauce.

Masla Borir Jhal (Sun dried lentil dumplings in mustard curry)

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Salmon in Spinach & Mushroom bed

Once in a while you stumble across a hidden treasure, somehow forgotten and buried somewhere. Finding this recipe of Salmon fish, prepared long back, gave me the pleasure as such. Salmon was one of my favourites during my expat days and sharing the recipe is like going down memory lane. Here in Delhi and elsewhere in India, Salmon is not scarcely found these days and I assume that over the days Salmon swam across the oceans to reach East.  So, on one hand if sharing this recipe gives me immense pleasure while reminiscing good old days, on the other, it also raises the excitement of introducing a glorious continental preparation.

Salmon in Spinach & Mushroom bed

Salmon in Spinach & Mushroom bed

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Chilli Paneer

Paneer can be turned into various interesting dishes, once one gets bored to the ideas of usual paneer ki sabzi, matar paneer or even the spicy paneer butter masala. Chilli paneer can be a refreshing break if you adore and love to go Chinese too. This recipe of Chilli panner is a simple, mild but delicious to satisfy more than your appetite and rivets you close to the glorious Asian cuisine. Highly recommended with fried rice but equally engrossing with roti and parantha too.

Chilli Paneer

Chilli Paneer

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Simple Chocolate Cake

These days, as we get flooded by baking recipes of so many varieties across the genres, I assume the simple, sober and plain chocolate cake still holds a special place in our heart, bearing the charm of past. Over the last few years, I also tried to put together different cake recipes in the blog, from lovely carrot cake to celebrated black forest and from the lip smacking cheese cake to addictive mocha. And then thought to get back to the roots, to the story of the simplest chocolate cake. Apart from the usual ingredients of baking, I need a good dark chocolate strip with just a bit of vanilla extract and that’s all.

Just wish to remind however, that a bite of  this simple chocolate cake can turn lethal with a dose of caffeine. And of course, coffee etiquette has to be kept in mind, particularly when you are travelling.  I came across of all these facts and figures through this fascinating blog, Med Cruise Guide which you would find superbly exciting. Bon voyage to the land of coffee with a pie of chocolate cake.

Simple Chocolate Cake

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Palak Lacha Paratha (Spinach Lacha Paratha)

Paratha stuffed with seasonal vegetables apart from the usual Aloo or Muli parathas are pretty common in Northern India.  Likewise, spinach puree in partaha dough infuses a certain kind of herb flavour in the paratha and makes it pretty tasty too. Known as Palak paratha, it is actually quite popular and find many lovers all around. Here I share the interesting recipe of Palak Paratha which one can readily follow.

Palal Lacha Paratha (Spinach Lacha Paratha)

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