December 28, 2009


Upma is a common breakfast dish you will find cooked in South Indian household. It is tasty, healthy, and above all very easy to cook. It is colorful with different vegetables and leaves. I also many times cook it for dinner or a brunch, or as some simple evening snack. However, the original recipe has few ingredients not so easily available to me here, and I like to call this particular recipe as “my version”. Like, I don’t get curry leaves here, a main ingredient of upma. Also there I cook it in a slightly different procedure. Anyway, the simplicity of this dish makes it so interesting to me, and I don’t mind a few modifications. Also I like adding more vegetables than the flour, such that the flour will roughly coat the vegetables. Sometimes I even add a small diced tomato. I like to add many different kinds of vegetables in it, and like the subtle flavor of mustard. And finally I love to have it with a generous amount of tomato ketchup.

1 big bowl of different vegetables cubed (carrot, cauliflower, peppers, broccoli etc)
1 medium sized potato (peeled and cubed)
2/3cup of semolina flour
1tbsp of black mustard seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2tbsp oil

1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. Put the mustard seeds and cover over low heat. Let them crackle.
3. When the crackling stops and one gets the aroma, put in all the cubed vegetables.
4. Cook in medium to low heat for some time, until the vegetables are almost cooked.
5. Add the semolina flour, mix well and cook for 1-2 min.
6. Now add water little by little, such that the semolina gets cooked but not overcooked and lumpy.
7. Cook covered for 1-2min over medium flame.
8. Serve hot with tomato ketchup.

NOTE: Adding the right amount of water is a crucial step. Around 1/2-2/3 cup of water is generally enough, but it is advisable to add a little at a time and then add again if necessary. Also, sometimes roasting the semolina flour a bit before using it helps it making less sticky and lumpy.

December 27, 2009

Chocolate Potica

Potica is a traditional Slovene dessert. It is like a pastry. Sweet thin dough rolled with chocolate, nuts, or ham filling, baked, and then sliced crosswise. Traditionally a walnut filling or a chocolate filling is used. Sometimes also a filling of tarragon herb is used to get a sweet smelling potica. In the villages, a salty potica is also made by farmers with homemade ham, sausages etc. It is baked in any kind of occasion of festivity or celebration, or simply like that. And women take pride of baking the nicest looking potica. Though quite a long procedure, the recipe itself isn’t much complicated. Maybe it needs some practice to get the nice shape, but otherwise it tastes same good even if not looking so nice. It can be served both hot and cold; and sometimes with dry fruits, marmalades, hams, cheeses etc.
This was the first time I was making it for Christmas. It was more learning it under supervision, than actually making it. Though it doesn’t look the nicest, it tastes just as good.


For dough:
1/2lit milk
1sp sugar
1sp flour
20-30g yeast (not dry one)
760g flour
100g butter
2 tbsp sugar
10g vanilla sugar
1sp salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
– The first 4 ingredients are to make the yeast.

For chocolate filling:
100g butter
180g sugar
150g hazelnut powder
200g chocolate powder
10g vanilla sugar
4 egg whites
3 egg yolks


The dough:
1. Warm 50ml of milk with 1 spoon each of sugar and flour.
2. When the milk is lukewarm, remove it from heat and add the yeast.
3. Cover it and allow it to rise for 15min. The yeast must rise. If it doesn’t, you will have to repeat the whole thing again.
4. In next step, warm the rest of the milk and add butter. Let the butter melt.
5. Put into this milk 1 egg and 1 egg yolk.
6. In the flour, add 1 sp of salt.
7. Then add the yeast mixture, and the butter-milk-egg mixture.
8. Make smooth dough (5-10min if using the machine).
9. Set aside and let the dough rise for an hour.

The chocolate filling:
10. Take the hazelnut powder, add 3tbsp of sugar in it, and roast it to get the aroma. Set aside.
11. Beat the 4 egg whites until it is stiff, and put it in the refrigerator.
12. Now beat the butter to make it soft and creamy adding the vanilla sugar.
13. Next add 3 egg yolks, remaining sugar, chocolate powder one by one, and beat after each time to get the creamy texture.
14. In the end add the hazelnut powder mixture and beat until smooth and creamy.

The potica:
15. After an hour when the dough has risen, roll it into a thin big square.
16. Gently and evenly mix the beaten egg white with the chocolate filling and spread it gently on the dough.
17. Now roll it into a log. It will maybe be big for the baking tray, so cut into half.
18. Put it in baking tray lined with greased baking paper.
19. Leave again for half an hour so that it rises.
20. Now bake it in a preheated oven at 180°C for 1-1:15hr. It will nicely turn brown.
21. Put it in serving tray, brush the top side with butter and dust it with vanilla sugar powder.
22. Make crosswise slices and serve.

NOTE: The vanilla sugar is for flavor, and one can add vanilla essence, in case the sugar is not available.

November 29, 2009

Simple Chicken Macaroni

Last week I had some leftover chicken breast, and thought of making a quick chicken macaroni after work for dinner. Also, there was some curd handy at home, so decided on adding it to make a sort of thin gravy. And it turned out really well, the sour-sweet taste with the parsley giving a wonderful flavor to it. And it is really simple to cook!! Going to try it again when I have some leftover chicken and need some easy recipe for dinner..


1 cup Gomito macaroni
150g chicken breast
½ cup yoghurt/curd
1 large tomato
1 small onion


1. Cut the chicken in 1cm wide strips.
2. Boil the chicken and macaroni adding some salt, drain and keep aside.
3. While the chicken and macaroni are getting boiled, finely chop the onion and dice the tomato.
4. In a pan, heat 1tbsp of oil and add the chopped onion.
5. As the onion starts getting golden, add the diced tomato and fry for a minute.
6. Now add the boiled chicken and macaroni. Fry for a couple of minutes on high heat.
7. Add the yoghurt and mix well. Season it with salt, pepper and a handful of chopped parsley. Mix and cook for 5-7 minutes on moderately high heat.
8. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.


Back in Pune, I would go shopping at the supermarkets, and among the pastas in all shapes and colors, the lasagna sheets would tempt me. But, staying in a hostel, without a proper place to cook, I had to resist my temptation. Soon after I came here in Slovenia, my craving for lasagna resumed. And finally I got this nice recipe of classic meat lasagna. I love the tangy taste of the meat sauce, and the white sauce making it more creamy and juicy. As it gets baked in the oven, the meaty cheesy aroma entices the senses; and the molten cheese on top and the golden brown crispy edges makes it completely irresistible.
The interesting thing about lasagna is that it can be frozen easily. So one can make double the amount of meat sauce at once and freeze half of it for later or even use it as a pasta sauce. And the possibilities of using various kinds of sauces other than the classic meat one, makes it interesting to cook.


2 packs of Lasagna sheets
Grated cheese (Parmesan, Gauda, and any other light cheese) – according to taste (I love it cheesy and generally mix two kinds)
Classic Meat sauce:
500g minced meat
500g tomato puree
1 small carrot or any other root (like celery)
1 small onion
Bay leaf
White sauce:
50g butter
50g flour
1/2lit milk (or more according to consistency preferred)


Classic meat sauce:
1. Grate the carrot or any other root you are using, and finely chop the onion.
2. In a pot, heat oil. When hot, add onion and sauté until transparent. Add the bay leaves.
3. Now add the minced meat and grated carrot and mix well. The meat will leave water, cook until the water dries.
4. When it is dry, add the tomato puree and cook covered for 45 min on low heat.
5. Now the meat sauce is ready. One can prepare this the previous day, also prepare in excess quantity and freeze for later use.

White sauce:
6. In a pan, add the butter.
7. When it melts, add the flour and mix well.
8. As it starts frothing, start adding the milk slowly while stirring continuously. Care should be taken such that no lumps are formed (maybe use a hand egg beater).
9. When it starts boiling, add ground pepper, nutmeg and salt. Cook for 5-10 more minutes until a creamy viscous consistency is reached.
10. Now before making the layers, set the oven at 200°C.

11. Prepare the lasagna sheets according to the instructions on the packet. I used lasagna that needs no precooking.
12. Line a baking tray with a baking sheet, and start making the layers.
13. Make a layer of lasagna sheets. Cover it with a layer of meat. It is not necessary to make a complete thick layer of meat; just make sure to brush every corner of the lasagna sheets with the meat gravy to make it juicy. Now spread one layer of white sauce.
14. Repeat this five times, i.e. five layers of each. Now cover with another layer of lasagna sheets and generously spread grated cheese on top.
15. Bake it for 20mins (both sides) at 200°C, the cheese will melt and edges will become nice crunchy. Then turn off the oven, but leave the lasagna inside for 10 more minutes, allowing it to settle down.

And a new flavor

I love food. And especially new food. From childhood I have annoyed my ma and dida (grandma), asking them to always cook new foods for me. It was so hard for them to satisfy my demands all the time. And though I eat everything (well almost everything), what excites me most is some new food.
Still a girl, I had started cooking snacks, sometimes innovating things. Though most of the times, the result wasn’t so good :) I remember, once had put vanilla essence in some fried snacks, it was such an odd combination!! The sweet essence of vanilla didn’t fit with the crispy salty fried taste. And I learnt that the blending of the taste and flavors of different ingredients is the basic of cooking. When first time I was cooking chicken, for some festival dinner, I had to call my mom at her office to ask how to know when the chicken is cooked!! But later, whenever we were having guests at home, I was cooking the chicken most of the time. I would dig out interesting recipes from magazines and books, and ask ma to cook them for me, or would cook myself. And well, all my culinary knowledge paid out when I was away from home in hostel, and I didn’t like the food. Everyday there, I was cooking my own food. And now I am here in Slovenia, I get more opportunity to try new food and learn. Also its kind of relearning to cook Bengali and Indian food, as most of the ingredients being unavailable here, I have to think of replacements many times. It is interesting also that now I try to cook some Indian food that I would have never tried back in India; where they were so easily available, and no one makes them at home!
I love simple recipes, interesting combinations of ingredients. And nothing is as good as having a simple effortless recipe to cook a great tasting dish stimulating all the taste buds. And again I love tedious recipes also. Ultimately it is the whole experience of cooking. Finding the recipe, or making it up; choosing each ingredient one by one; spending time to cook, and seeing the flavors blending and revealing themselves slowly. Alluring the senses, a dish gets ready. And finally the best part comes, enjoying it myself and seeing others savoring it. The food is not just a feast for the taste buds, limited in the five tastes; it is also the fresh aroma that keeps on lingering long after the food is eaten, and the nicely laid table. Cooking is when I am together with my family and friends, in the warmth of festival, or sometimes even just for myself. A complete experience is what it gives.
And sometimes I wish to capture all these culinary adventures of mine, and hence started taking pictures. Also started writing down the recipes to have them for sometime later, especially those where I got idea from internet, or books, or made up myself, or simply spent a few clicks finding the recipe online. And in these days of computers and internet, I thought, writing a blog is the best way to keep my recipes organized and sharing them.
So here I am, sharing the experiences with some ingredients, spices.. Mixing them.. Creating new flavors… Enticing the taste buds…

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