Tuesday 29 April 2014


Off late whenever I ask my little boy, "What would you like for lunch baby? ", the only answer I get is 'Phaasta -Paawn' and my heart melts:) He actually means Pasta with Prawns. These are the two new words that he has recently mastered and if you ask him any thing about food he will only repeat "Phaasta -Paawn". To this my daughter adds broccis (broccolis) and carrot. Thank goodness that till now they enjoy eating veggies..and I take full advantage of that. LOL  

Since both my kids love pasta it is a very frequently cooked family meal in my kitchen. As we all know it is quick, easy and a filling meal that you can make in minutes. Adding the choice of veggies, prawns, chicken or minced meat you can make a bowl full of  healthy and delicious pasta. Great for those busy week nights and kids lunch boxes. 

My daughter who has just moved to a Montessori Preschool needs to pack lunch from home unlike her days in daycares, and their centre is egg and nut free. They will not allow any food that has egg or nut in them. This was another interesting chapter where I needed little bit of brainstorming. I make her pasta very often for lunch in addition to fresh fruits and yoghurt that goes in, and she loves it. Infact, she only wants pasta and nothing else for lunch.

This recipe yields two generous servings. You will need :

1 Cup cooked small spiral pasta (you can use any other variety)
1/2 cup tail on prawns
3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped or minced
2 tbsp Butter or olive oil/EVO (2-3 tablespoon)
Half brown onion (chopped) - u may use 2 spring onions as well
1/2 broccoli florets
1/2 cup sweet potato/carrot cubed into bite sizes
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup cream
3-4 tablespoon chopped curly parsley
Seasoning of salt and white pepper powder
Sweet paprika powder to season (optional)

Step 1: In a  saucepan boil water with some salt and add pasta to the boiling water. Give it a stir and let it cook. Stirring the pasta is essential to avoid clinginess. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Step 2: Rinse the prawns lightly under cold stream of running water. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Marinate the prawns with 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic and parsley, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Step 3: Place the veggies in your vegetable steamer and microwave for around 3-4 minutes, maximum 5 minutes in total.  Alternatively you may even blanch the broccoli florets in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes, remove and dump them in cold water. The broccolis should still maintain their crunch and the colour. In the same water add the sweet potatoes or carrots and cook until tender.

Step 4: In a thick bottomed pan heat little butter or olive oil. Take care not to overheat, add the marinated prawns. Saute them till the prawns turn pink, remove and set aside. 

Step 5: Add some more oil or butter in the same pan. Add rest of the garlic and onion and parsley. Add red capsicum or spinach leaves now, if using. (See notes) Saute them on medium heat. When the onions start turning a bit translucent (we do not need to brown them) add flour, mix and stir on low heat.

Step 6: Add milk, little bit at a time stirring or whisking to make a thick white sauce. 

Step 7: Add the cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese and mix well.

Step 8: Add the cooked veggies and give it  a gentle stir.

Step 9: Add the prawns with all the juices from stir frying. Next pour the cream. Stir and bring everything together.

Step 10: Garnish with some more cheese if you like, and herbs

Delicious and creamy indulgence is ready to be served.


You may try out these alternatives for the sauce:

a. use only cream and not milk (no need to add plain flour)
b. use only milk and no cream in the recipe
c. when pressed for time use store bought white sauces such as carbonara (they'll love) or Alfredo.
d. Any tomato base sauce such as Napolitana, Bolognese etc
e. Combination of tomato and white sauce or cream
f. Use roasted or freshly chopped red capsicum, baby spinach and saute them with the onion and garlic.
g. Replace prawns with bite sized chicken breast. Cook the chicken pieces for a little longer as compared to the prawns.

The opportunities are endless!
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With deep care

EAT as you LIKE..

Saturday 19 April 2014


There are certain days when you are absolutely not in the mood for cooking. And if you have a pair of super active toddlers at home enough said! Last wednesday was one such day. There was soo much to be done around the house, and with both the kids at home I was completely exhausted and feeling too lazy to cook anything elaborate.

It was 9.30 pm here and I was leaning back on the couch with my first glass of drink. Yes! the kids are in bed finally and that's  a bliss! It was too much for me to even imagine that I have to cook dinner all over again! The next day's lunch that hubby will take to work was also a question mark. Moreover Thursday is a vegan day so no takeouts!

I asked the husband "dinner-e ki khabe? Ki banabo?" (meaning, what do you want to eat for dinner tonight? what do i cook?) My humble husband offered to get some take-outs. He said "aj ar kichu banate hobe na", I'll get some sandwich (meaning, don't worry about cooking tonight, I'll get some sandwich instead). Ahhhh, my happy soul! what more can you ask for. Great, problem solved, no cooking tonight. But what about lunch tomorrow? Aaargghh! By then I already started to feel  a little better,  you know why! yeah by the idea of takeout of course:P; So finally the glow bulb lit and I thought of making some Chole Chaat. Quick, easy and a healthy meal and no cooking required at all. Voila!! And if you add some yoghurt to it  you have the Dahi Chole Chaat ready on the plate.

Chole Chaat or Dahi Chole Chaat is an excellent brunch, snack or dinner at any time of the day. Especially if you are too busy or too lazy just like me. Life is even more merrier if you have some leftover cooked chickpeas. Easy peasy! So without wasting much time I quickly soaked some chickpeas for the next morning.

Chole or chickpeas have many health benefits. Chaat is basically a savoury dish which has a combination of textures. Infact you will be introduced to all kinds of flavour, texture and taste in a bowl full of chaat. Chaat Masala which is found in most Indian grocery stores, a combination of many spices and black salt is the key ingredient for a dish like this. The base ingredient (chickpea) is combined with other ingredients (such as cooked potatoes, tomatoes, red onions, cucumber), spices such as chilly powder, roasted cumin and coriander, chutnis (such as date and tamarind or green chilli and mint), herbs  such as chopped coriander or mint and finally some yoghurt for that added kick, finished with some lime juice. And honestly there is no perfect recipe. It is dead easy and simple to assemble a Chaat. Depending on your taste and the ingredients that are readily available in your kitchen you can very easily throw in all together and toss it up.

I have divided the recipe into two parts. Both recipes yield 4 servings;

So what do we need :
3 cups of cooked chick peas (soak chick peas overnight, rinse, and cook in salted water)
3/4 cup of chopped cucumber
3/4 cup of chopped red Onions
3/4 cups of tomatoes (seeds removed and finely chopped)
1/2 cup cooked potatoes (peeled and diced)-optional
1/4 cup of chopped coriander leaves
2-3 teaspoon lemon/lime juice according to taste
2-3 tablespoon tamarind and date chutney or more according to taste.
1 teaspoon Spicy Mango Pickle
Green chilli finely chopped as per taste.

Chaat Masala (available from Indian Store)
1/4 teaspoon Anardana Powder available from any Indian grocery store.(slightly dry roasted)
Black Salt (1/4 teaspoon)
2 teaspoon groundspices (dryroast handful of Cumin seeds, Coriander seeds, 1 medium dry Red Chilli) and grind all ingredients into a fine powder

Step1: In a large bowl mix chickpea, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cooked potatoes, 3/4 of ground spices, mixed pickle, 1 tablespoon of the tamarind and date chutni, lime or lemon juice, 1/2 of the herbs and gently toss and mix ingredients.
Step 2: Garnish with more coriander, the remaining lemon juice and the left over spices and some more of the chutnis if you like.

Enjoy your Chole Chaat for Lunch, Dinner or as any time Snack!


For a delicious kick to your CHOLE CHAAT add some natural yoghurt.
Additional Ingredients that you will need:
1 cup or more thick natural yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon ground spices as above
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
Black salt, Sugar to taste
Boondi, Sev(Bhujia) for garnishing (available in Indian Grocery Store)
  •  Mix yoghurt with salt, red chilli powder, spices and set aside.
  • After your chole chaat is ready as STEP 1 above add 3/4 cup of the spiced yoghurt, check seasoning. Mix and Toss.
  • Top with remaining yoghurt, tamarind chutni, garnish with more coriander, lemon juice, boondi or Sev as in Step 2 above.
Your Dahi Chole Chaat is ready to be served. Enjoy as a quick fix and a delicious meal or just serve as a spicy and tangy salad.

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With deep care

EAT as you LIKE..

Monday 14 April 2014


Kalakand or milkcake is a traditional Indian dessert made from wholemilk, cottage cheese (chena) and sugar mixed with some ground dry fruits such as cashew nuts, pistachios, and green cardamom for added boost. These milkcakes originate in the district of Rajasthan are soft, moist and crumbly in texture. There are two variations of making kalakand one on stove top which is a bit more time consuming as you would be preparing from scratch or you may also create these beauties in the  microwave. It is a very quick hassle-free and easy way of making perfect kalakands in minutes. Works perfect for me atleast! Why don't you give it a go!

All you need (in both the cases) is to allow some time for the cake to set so that it is easy for you to cut into clean slices.  Always use a knife dipped into hot water to get neat slices of kalakand. That way it is easy to cut through and will prevent the crumbs from sticking on to the knife. I usually refrigerate my kalakands at least for 4-5 hours before slicing , overnight is recommended if you have time.
Kalakand is one of my favourite Bengali sweets and yes, for me it even comes after Kolkata Rosogollas. We both (me and the husband) devour this decadent sweet also very popular in Bengal. My 2 year old son is very fond of it.He is a lil foodie you know, just like mummy and daddy :D :D. My daughter who is 3 is just the opposite, not much fond of food though but when it is about these delicious milkcakes she loves them too.

Because of the ease of making instant kalakands in the microwave and being a family favourite I make them quite often during any festivities and celebrations or even potlucks. This time again I made some over the weekend for the Bengali New Year Celebration and thought of sharing the recipe just before Poila Baisakh,( The New Year's Day) with all my valued readers. But my apologies for not being able to get this post out on time. There is soo much happening around the house it is sometimes just too hard to sneak in time for yourself. If not now,make sure you save this recipe for future use. Your guests will be very impressed, and that's a promise!
So let's take  a look at the recipe. And before we do that let me wish all my foodie friends celebrating this time a very happy Puthandu, Bihu, Navreh, Ugandi, Vishu, Baisakhi ,Gudi Padwa, Chaiiti and Cheiraoba, may this new begining bring in good health and happiness into your beautiful lives. And to all my Bengali readers " Shubho Naboborsher anek preeti, subhecha o obhinandan. Notun bochor khub bhalo katuk shokoler" 
Today's recipe is the instant microwave version. I learnt this trick from one of my Aunt's. She uses cottage cheese and condensed milk, whereas I have used ricotta cheese for it's silky and granular texture. Using either in the recipe is absolutely fine. But remember to use only homemade cottage cheese. The cooking time given in this recipe is approximate and may vary depending on the microwave you are using. This is a very easy recipe and you cannot go wrong. If not the first time, some trial and errors over time will give you the perfect result. However, having said that the end result is still edible and a delicious form of rabri.
You will need :
500 grams of Ricotta Cheese
125 grams of Cream Cheese
350 grams of Condensed milk(I used 3/4 of the tin only)- increase or decrease amount as per you liking.
few drops of rose water
Few raisins (soaked in warm water) and cahews (slit from the middle) for decoration.
For the ground powder:
15-20 Pistachios
10-12 Cashews
7-8 Green Cardamon Pods
In a food processor or blender lightly crush the nuts on pulse mode  and set aside.
You will also need:
A deep round or square good size micro proof dish. A tablespoon to stir and mix
Cling  or foil wrap
Some warm water and a sharp knife for slicing.
Step 1: In a micro proof dish mix all cheese, and condensed milk and half of the crushed nuts, sprinkle few drops of rose water mix well into a smooth mixture just as in the picture below. Making sure there are no lumps in the mixture.

Step 2:Slide into your microwave. Mine @ 1000 W was in for 7 mins the first time.
STEP 3: After about 7 Mins the mixture will look some what like the picture below. Without removing the dish give it a good stir and mix well.

Step 4:Set the microwave to about 8 more mins, stoping half way(@4 mins) and stirring, continue to cook for another 4 mins. It should look like this in the picture below. Sprinkle some more ground nuts and mix.
Step 5:Cook for another 7-8 minutes or so in total. Stirring half way in between. It will also release some water but do not worry as it will dry out eventually. This "in- between" break is very important to get the right consistency. 

Step 6: Continue for another 4 - 5 mins. Stiring in between at about 2 mins or so. The mixture should look like this as in the picture below. Creamy, sticky and grainy.
Tips:1. If your cheese mixture is still runny , as cooking time may differ for microwaves, cook for few minutes more (2-3 mins at a time) stopping and stirring in between. Very Important!
Tip 2. If you are close to the desired texture after about step 5 reduce cooking time as in Tip 1.Keep a close eye and make sure the mixture does not dry out too much and crumble.
Step 6:Once your mixture looks like in  the above picture carefully remove from microwave using oven gloves. 
Step 7: Mix gently and push to one side (into a half circle)of the same dish just as in the picture to set. Using a flat knife press the edges to ensure atleast 1/2-1cm thickness. Gently press it down and allow to cool. Sprinkle with the remaining pistachios, cashew and cardamom mixture. Sprinkle some more rose water.
Step 8:Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. More the merrier.
Step 1: Take some hot water in a glass, and dip a sharp knife. slice the milkcakes into square, decorate with cashews and raisins.
Serve and enjoy this melt in the mouth gourmet dessert with your family and friends!!

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With deep care

EAT as you LIKE..

Thursday 10 April 2014


Once your baby has graduated into root vegetables (such as pumpkin, carrot, parsnips, sweet potatoes) say around 7-9 months it is safe to introduce some new flavours. Cream corn make great first food due to it's nutritional value and it's naturally sweet flavour. Cream corn is usually made by cooking corn kernels with water and pureeing it in a food processor. For more creamy texture you may even want to pass it through a sieve. Use only good quality corn kernels that look bright in colour and plump. Frozen corn kernels are great to be used in these recipes. I wouldn't recommend canned corns as they are low in nutritional protein and can contain sugar in salt.
Corns like other new food can cause allergies, or digestive discomfort in some babies. especially if your baby has eczema or allergies or there is a family history of the same. It is always recommended to seek advice of your family doctor or child health nurse before introducing any new food into your babies diet. Please note that this recipes have been tried and tasted with my two toddlers ( at 6 months age) and are ideas only. This however does not replace any medical advice. Never ever offer your baby whole corn kernels as that can cause choking hazards. Puree is the best.
Sweet Corn bring in a lot of nutrients such as protein, vitamins (include vitamin C), folate, dietery fibre and beta-carotene. Remember to introduce any new food in small quantity one at a time ( on it's own and not mixing with any others such as chicken or veggies) and wait for atleast 3 days to watch your baby. If your baby does not develop any allergies or other problems related to digestion etc offer it for the second time.

You will need :

1/4 cup sweet corn kernels
1/2 cup plain water ( you may use chicken stock for older babies )
1 tablespoon of rice or baby rice cereal (optional)
1/4 cup diced chicken breast/minced chicken (boneless)
Extra virgin olive oil (EVO) to serve.
Take all ingredients in a saucepan except EVO and allow to cook over gentle heat. Once cooked allow to cool and then blend to a puree. For a mixed texture at around 7-8 months you may remove few chicken bits after cooking and try grating or even shredding on the puree. Adding rice to the puree will make it filling and add body. Alternatively you may even add iron fortified baby rice cereal. In that case cook all ingredients excepting rice and EVO and then mix baby cereal and serve. Drizzle EVO before serving.

Try adding grated zucchini, carrot for added texture and give it a more healthy boost. Adding sweet potatoes, pumpkins are a great idea too.

Notes: Any excess puree can be frozen in  an airtight containers suitable for freezing baby food. Always allow the food to cool down before freezing and use within 24 hours. You may defrost and reheat in microwave when needed. Always discard any uneaten purees or food and never ever re-offer it to your baby the second time. The saliva mixed with the food gets contaminated with bacteria and your baby can be seriously ill if fed. I have never frozen baby foods and always preferred to make them fresh in small quatity. For more tips on food safety visit this page http://www.babycenter.in/a1005425/how-to-prepare-baby-food-safely

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With deep care

EAT as you LIKE




Tuesday 8 April 2014

FIRST FRUITS ( 6 months +)

Fruits as we all know are a treasure trove of nutrients. Your baby at 6 months of age is ready to start with most fruits that are easily digestible and unlikely to cause any allergic reactions. Start with stewed Apple, Pear, Apricots preferably made into puree (or fork mash) to suit your babies need. Avocado, Banana, Berries, Papaya puree to avoid any choking hazards. It is better to avoid citrus fruits (till about 8-9 months) like oranges, mandarin for they can cause acidic reaction as their digestive system is still developing. Berries or Strawberries (always in pureed form to avoid choking hazard) are safe to be offered at around 7-8 months of age. Berries are not among the first eight allergenic foods. However they are known to cause allergies in some babies especially if there is  a family history of food allergies. In such condition your doctor may recommend to avoid berries until about 12 months of age. It is important to check with your family physician or your child's health nurse in case in any doubts. It is a good idea to offer a new food and wait for atleast 3 days to make sure there is no adverse effects on your baby.

It is important that you choose fruits that are ripe and have good natural flavour. Make sure to taste your babies food first before offering it to them. Remember, if it's good for you , it is good for your little one! Fruits not too sweet are recommended at this stage to avoid tooth decay. Try to be creative, mixing fruit puree and baby yoghurt, or iron rich baby rice cereal with pureed fruit, vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potato. pureed with apricot, apple or currants, baby yoghurt with Avocado or Banana mash (your baby will love this one!)

Some Great Fruity Combos!
  • Avocado and Banana (  a great hit with all babies!)
  • Avocado and apple
  • Creamy corn and apple
  • Melon and Banana
  • Papaya and Banana
  • Apple and Pear
  • Pear and Peach
  • Mango and Apple
  • Dried Apricot Stewed and pureed.
  • Dried Apricots, Peaches, Currants
  • Pumpkin , Apricot and Sultanas
  • Sweet Potato, Apple and Sultanas
  • Avocado and Apple
  • Pumpkin, Carrot, Apple and Sultanas
At around 7 months or so when your little one is almost used to the first veggies and fruits it is a good idea to introduce a healthy breakfast routine. Oatmeal make a delicious and yummy first food for babies at 6 months (more nutritious than rice or semolina) and are delightfully filling at the same time. Oats are a healthy grain and contain fibre, protein, calcium and vitamins. They are easy to digest, not known to be highly allergic however they can contain gluten. Although not as much  as wheat but due to processing reason oatmeal can get contaminated with wheat and other grains and can contain some gluten. So if you have a history of food allergy in the family it is better to speak to your family doctor or child health nurse before you introduce any new food to your baby.

With both my kids I started offering them oatmeal cereal at about 6 and half months of age. In order to ensure a smoother texture I used to dry grind the oatmeal first in the food processor. Ensure that your blender or food processor is absolutely clean and dry before use.U may store the ground oatmeal in a clean dry airtight container for future use. Alternatively, you may also puree the cooked cereal to get a hearty texture that your baby likes. Serve the prepared oatmeal with pureed/ or grated cooked fruits or veggies your baby likes.

To make FRUITY PORRIDGE you will need:

1/4 cup quick cook oats ( I use Uncle Tobys)
3/4 cup Baby's milk (your baby's formula is ok to use), more if necessary to get the right consistency
Pureed banana, strawberry or any other fruit or veggie of choice

In a microwave proof bowl cook oats and milk as per packet instruction ( say 90 sec or so ) or may be little more if required. Serve with any combination of fruit or veggie puree.

Alternatively mix oatmeal and milk together in a bowl and cook over a gentle heat, keep stirring as it thickens and looks creamy ( about 5-7 mins) Serve with choice of fruit or veggie pureed.


In my previous post FIRST VEGGIES we have discussed the usefulness of sweet potato as a root vegetable. "An Apple a Day" make a wonderful first fruit for your 6 month old. They are loaded with nutrients, easy to prepare, naturally sweet, low in sugar, easily digestible and gentle on your little one's tummy. Sultanas, raisins or currants have many health benefits  as they are a natural source of fibre, sultanas have Vitamin E and act as a natural cleanser. At 6 months of age do not offer your child any whole dry fruits as they can cause choking hazards. It is best pureed with fruits ,veggies, rice cereals or soups.

You will need:

1/4 cup sweet potatoes, peeled, diced and cubed
1 peeled apple
a tiny cinnamon stick (discard before blending)
or some cinnamon powder (optional)
few sultanas or currants.
(You may also use pumpkin instead of sweet potato)
Put all above ingredients into a saucepan. Add enough water to cook. Bring it to boil and cook and tender and the water as reduced a bit. Puree in a blender.

Any unused leftovers can be frozen easily Although I have never frozen by baby foods. Use with 24 hours. 

Any excess puree can be frozen in  an airtight containers suitable for freezing baby food. Always allow the food to cool down before freezing and use within 24 hours. You may defrost and reheat in microwave when needed. Always discard any uneaten purees or food and never ever re-offer it to your baby the second time. The saliva mixed with the food gets contaminated with bacteria and your baby can be seriously ill if fed. I have never frozen baby foods and always preferred to make them fresh in small quatity. For more tips on food safety visit this page http://www.babycenter.in/a1005425/how-to-prepare-baby-food-safely

If you like this recipe please leave a feedback. For regular updates on more mouthwatering and exclusive recipes  "LIKE" my page on facebook

With deep care

EAT as you LIKE..
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