Cook, Eat, Repeat Challenge: A Drink to Cherish – Mango Lassi

Hello!

I am a bit behind my intended schedule but here I am with the second and soon to follow third drinks of the month. Today’s post is about the famous Mango Lassi which will be followed by the less famous (only in the Western World though!) distant cousin of its- Aam Panna. (aam-Mango in Hindi language while “panna” could be called a concoction.)

But before I proceed to the ridiculously easy recipe (not sure if we can use the word recipe even!), I wanted to give you a slice of what’s been happening at this end, though I must warn you it is nothing exciting! Rather something so mundane that all of you have probably experienced it or are going through this in some form or the other:)

Our son turned five this weekend and boy was he excited for his big day! And so was his biggest cheerleader- yours truly;) We were going with a Superhero ‘theme’ this year and big bright balloons and banner and other celebratory decorative items had been slowly piling in the guest room that looks more like a storeroom, if I were to be honest. Everything was going according to plans till 9pm the night before. Our baby girl started crying and soon we figured out that it was not a normal cry but more of a severe distress that had totally thrown her off.  She would cry for 2-3hours at a stretch with intervals of 10-15 minutes, fall asleep for a bit and the cycle would repeat itself.  We figured that the grand day was going to have major setbacks. We contemplated of taking the baby girl to the ER around 2am but the awful weather outside and us finally figuring out what was really bothering her (premolars were on their way through those delicate gums) let us deal with the issue indoors for that night.

A good part of the birthday morning was spent at the doctor’s office and then on our way back, snow squall hit us and it snowed like crazy afterwards. Family, who was supposed to come over for birthday lunch, got delayed naturally and the little guy who was doing a great job of keeping it all together till then, broke down a little bit and asked if no one was going to celebrate his big day. It was heartbreaking to say the least and I looked around to see that a little birthday banner and two balloons brought from the store was all that was there. I hugged him as tightly as possible. Baby girl was still going through that cycle and we as parents were clearly not been able to step up to the game as fatigue was slowly catching up. We remembered at that point that a few months back when our baby girl had turned 1, the big brother was down with asthma and a fever of 103F.  A pattern of sorts?

Anyways, the good man cooked good food as I cradled a very distraught baby and a little upset birthday boy. Family arrived and there was a good amount of jumping up and down from all possible surfaces for the kid and his cousin, lots of car races and other things that a five year old’s heart desires. Which brings me to part two of the eventful day! By the time it came down to cake cutting, the birthday boy was so exhausted that he decided he did not want to cut the cake and started crying. After what seemed like forever, he stopped and we cut the cake and took pictures. And right after, he started complaining of ear ache (which apparently had been bothering him since afternoon but he did not want to stop having the fun he was having!). After another round of crying in which the baby girl joined in as well, family left and just like that, the day was over.

So much for a grand birthday!

The kids suffering so much took all the fun out of everything and made me actually forget that it was also our anniversary! But the red roses on the table jolted my memory back to that and while nothing went according to the plans, I was still grateful that we had each other to fall back on and as long as the four of us are together, nothing else mattered.The next morning was spent visiting the doctor’s office again, this time for the boy, picking up medicine from the pharmacy and getting stuff from the store that would help with the general crankiness of little humans.

 

You probably should not have to read this when you are looking for Mango Lassi. But I guess what I am trying to say is that things always don’t work according to plans and we all know that. It can be disappointing, saddening and many other unhappy emotions.  But we can in many cases, still steal moments from days that unfold in a less grand and ideal manner.

In this case, while we may not remember the day for all the grand celebrations that should have taken place, we will certainly remember it for the little ones’ discomfort and my big boy’s wise words. He was having a conversation with his father while having his lunch all by himself…sitting quietly. His dad mentioned that he was sorry for not being able to have a big celebration and that things did not go as planned,  and without thinking for a second, the little guy had said : “It’s okay Baba (dad)…bonu (his name for his sister) is so small and she needs Ma now and you have to make food as we have people coming over. We are all busy. That’s okay. Also, I was sick on Bonu’s birthday…do you remember?!” There is so much that we can learn from kids. As he is  “singing” at the moment…has picked up these lines from his dad –“Take it Easy….We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again”.

After the absolute madness dwindled down a bit, I was trying to think of my birthdays when I was growing up and could not really remember my 5th birthday. I guess my son will be okay too! But it was very nice to remember something that is uncannily related to the drink of this week…as my birthday falls in the hot summer month of May, mangoes (my favorite fruit in the whole wide world) were always a part of the day…be it as aam panna, or lassi or custard or just slices of that golden/yellow lip smacking fruit! There’s something  wonderfully satisfying about this drink specially in the sweltering heat of the summer and that tantalizing smell of fresh cut mangoes (typically Himsagar or the Alphonso variety) is a matter of million memories.

And so, here goes Mango Lassi…an absolute easy drink to make and cherish.

Serving size: 2, Time- 5-10 minutes

Ingredients-

Mango (Fresh, cut into pieces) 1 large or canned/frozen mango pulp : 2 cups—-Yogurt: 1 cup—-Milk: 1/4 cup—-Ice cubes: as needed—–Sugar: 1/2 tbsp (you may need less or more depending on the sweetness of the mangoes and your own preference)—-Ground Cardamom Seeds: 1/2 tsp

How to make

Put all of the ingredients in the blender and puree! Check for sweetness. You may add a little cold water or a couple of ice cubes to adjust the consistency and make it to your liking.

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Do you have a drink that reminds you of your childhood days?Or is there something that you associate with specific celebration/s in your culture? Whatever it is, I would love to hear from you! You can join in with a recipe or a story or even just a photo:)

Here’s how to participate!

  • Create your own post with your recipe, story, photos- anything that you might wish to share that represents the theme of the month.
  • Create a pingback (link to this post) or leave a link in the comment section.
  • Join whenever you can!
  • Visit some other posts shared.

 

Cheers and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Cook, Eat, Repeat Challenge: A Drink to Cherish

                                                   Tea/Chai/Cha:  Call what you will

Thin frozen puddles crackle under my boots and as I have, once again, forgotten to wear the gloves, my hands almost freeze the moment my fingers touch the icy steering. It had rained last night and the below zero temperatures turned the tiny droplets of water into a beautiful work of art, resembling a fern. I quickly get out of the car to take a photo and turn on the wiper to give it a couple of quick swishes and my boy and I are off to school. Winter has made itself comfortable here in New Jersey and while snow days have been few and far in between, the early morning frost has been a regular visitor.

As I drive back home after dropping the kiddo off at school, I suddenly have this urge to make myself a cup of tea the moment I get home..but not the simple one I am used to drinking. I want to sip on a more aromatic version, one that is steeped in milk and sugar and has a hint of ginger and cardamom, giving it that heady smell that easily transports me to some cold evenings in my hometown of Calcutta, railway stations, the joy of stopping at one of the many tea stalls scattered throughout this grand old city for a refreshing sip of the city’s famous ‘bhaar cha(bhaar– Bengali for handmade tea cups that are typically made of clay and have been used for serving ‘cha’ -Bengali for tea, that is sold on the streets throughout India and definitely Calcutta, where Bengali is the native language).

e2fe0202-10e4-447f-b157-a5d19ae2c195This is what bhaars look like in a typical tea stall in Calcutta. Notice some plastic jars to the right of the photo- these usually hold biscuits and other tidbits to accompany the cha that keeps boiling (see the big pan) for as long as the stall remains open to never return a customer. These are rustic road side tea stalls and cater to people from all walks of life. The tea is then poured into kettles like the ones seen here and it goes around filling up these tiny bhaars.

 

I hear from friends and family that bhaars are rapidly disappearing from the streets, railway stations, train cars and even street corners and getting replaced by the awful plastic everywhere in India. My city is no exception but I hear she still perseveres; probably an example of its unshakable love for the quintessential past that gets reflected in the contemporary lifestyle of the youth and creates a unique juxtaposition of tradition and modernity.

Calcutta has been called ‘a city with soul’ (Vir Sangvi) and I couldn’t agree more. Not because it is my city, my birthplace, a place that has seen me through my best and worst and embraced me with a warm hug every time I have visited it in the last 13 years but because it is true. As true as the sun that rises everyday. There is a warmth of emotions that reigns supreme and lets you drown in the genuineness of passion. And the clay cups, the bhaar’s are a testament to that. The often rickety benches at these tea stalls have been a seat of powerful discussions about art and culture, about sports ranging from the gully cricket to that played by the likes of Gavaskar and Viv Richards, about political ideologies that have had people miss their last bus for home. When you walk along the side walks of Calcutta, you might find, in some, such bhaars crunching under your foot. You see, it is said and believed that after slurping on that aromatic concoction, people smash it on the ground to return the clay to the earth from which it was made. I have never done that myself as every tea stall has a bin meant for throwing the bhaars there, but I have surely stepped on broken clay pieces a great number of times. While it does not speak to the ‘keep your city clean’ banners and posters that are seen splashed all over the city, it certainly speaks to the emotional side of bhaar cha lovers.

If you ever visit my beautiful city or any other lovely city in India, you should try sipping on this tea, that aside from being intoxicating, also has an earthy flavor distinctive of its holder that may or may not transport you to the bygone days but which would definitely make you pause a bit. And if you are lucky, you might get to experience that on a rainy day when that earthy smell of the rain will act as the perfect setting for your bhaar cha experience.

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The sweet concoction that is far superior to any chai tea/ masala chai that is sold in the supermarkets and cafes in the Western World and I say this not just out of my love for this! These photos were taken by my brother yesterday of the local tea stall near my parents’ flat in Calcutta. Thank you, my dear brother:)

 

I digress.

The well heated kitchen of our apartment about 8000 miles away from the streets of Calcutta is not a place for that experience. Nor are the cups. But I still made that tea and while it lacked the heady smell of the rain, or that of the kettle that is usually black from being on the stove all day long, as boiling milk and tea pour down the sides, it was satisfying nonetheless. The western world has a version of this tea “the masala chai”or the “chai tea”, but the bhaar cha of Calcutta differs.

So, as I was pondering about what to share with you on my first post at Cook, Eat, Repeat and what to hear from you about, I could not think of anything better than drinks that comfort you, that transport you to a different place maybe, that bring joy to you, that you cherish occasionally. It maybe something that you sip on everyday or something that is reserved for special days. Or something that you stir up with memories from days gone by. It could be anything. Anything that makes you smile.

Please share your own memory, an anecdote or just the recipe of your favorite drink or drinks and let’s all toast to a wonderful New Year!

Here’s the recipe for two cups of Calcutta style ‘bhaar cha’. I must note that there are quite a few versions of this and so to claim that this is THE ‘bhaar cha’ will be incorrect. Many also add cloves and cinnamon.  Tea that is typically sold as “Chai Tea or Masala Tea” here in the Western World  is similar to the more aromatic version with cloves and cinnamon. But this recipe is a much lighter, yet fragrant enough version. I, for one, do not like the smell of clove or cinnamon in my tea and hence always omit those when making myself a cuppa! So, if you are like me too, go ahead and give this a try and I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s how you make it

Serving size – 2 cups
Total Time  –  About 10-12 mins

Ingredients–   Lipton Tea bags: 4

                Water: 1 cup

                 Milk: 1 cup

                 Cardamom: 2 pieces

                 Ginger: a quarter inch, smush it a little with the back of a spoon.

                Sugar: 3 tsps (less or more depending on your sweet tooth)

Method  –  Add water in a saucepan and to it, add the cardamom and ginger. Let it boil on the stove top for 3-4 mins on a low flame so that the flavors from the spices are released. Increase the heat and bring the water to a boil.  This may take another minute or so. Then, add the milk and carefully let it bubble. Add the tea bags (I cut open the tea bags and pour out the tea into the saucepan) and sugar and boil on high for a quick minute till the liquid is almost about to pour out of the pan. Lower the heat and partially cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for about 3-4 mins. You have to watch it carefully so as not to let the tea spill over and leave you with a very sticky saucepan and stove top. You will notice that the tea might change color from a brown to a darker brown (almost orange-ish). Strain it. Let it cool a bit and taste for sweetness.

You might have to make it a couple of times to get the perfect balance of sweetness from the sugar and the flavor from the spices. Neither should be overpowering!

As I had mentioned previously, this is a version of the Calcutta “bhaar cha” that I prefer…a bit subtle yet flavorful enough to be enjoyed on a cold day:)

I remembered to take a photo only after I had taken quite a few sips!

 

This is a monthly challenge so you will have the whole of January to share anything you like on your favorite drink/s. You are more than welcome to share more than just one drink recipe! I will be posting through the month about drinks that are my favorite and I am looking forward to hearing from you. What’s your favorite cocktail? What do you like to drink after a stressful day? Is there a special drink that is reserved for your most important people? What’s your favorite beverage from your childhood days? What’s your favorite holiday drink? Are you a tea or a coffee person? It can be anything! The recipes don’t necessarily have to be original as long as you share them with due permission from whose the original recipe is/ share the link to the blog/website you are sharing the recipe from.

Here’s how to participate…pretty much standard stuff!

  • Create your own post with your recipe, story, photosanything that you might wish to share that represents the theme of the month.
  • Create a pingback (link to this post) or maybe leave a link in the comment section.
  • Join whenever you can!
  • Visit some of the other posts shared.

Cheers and thanks for stopping by!

 

Cook, Eat, Repeat!

The blog is about a couple of years now (though it was private for almost a year) and while I still don’t know exactly the direction it is moving towards, I am enjoying the process. I am certainly thankful for crossing paths with some lovely people here who have inspired and encouraged in their own way, knowingly and unknowingly.

And one such inspiration made me want to explore the option of hosting a monthly  challenge. And I decided it focus on food! Why a food challenge you ask? I am not an expert in any area of cooking or baking and have almost no original recipes! But, like many, am a huge fan of good food. Food that is not fancy, but is more hearty and something that gets cooked at home with ingredients that would not require a trip to specialty stores, at least not a lot!

Food brings people together and sharing a meal with someone is something we all do. It keeps us connected to our roots while also inviting others to explore our culture through our food.  In our increasingly interconnected and ever changing world, we have so many means of knowing and sharing it has generated more inspiration, has created avenues to reach out for help, created cheerleaders across borders, made us aware of all the good that is going on in spite of all the fanaticism, the greed and utter non sense.

We have our favorite childhood dishes, memories of coming together as family and sitting at the table. It is a tradition in that many uphold, especially during holidays while in “joint families” it is an everyday affair. Whatever may be the situation, sharing food with someone continues to be special and an affair close to the heart.

With that in mind, I am taking a leap of faith and starting a monthly section dedicated to food – Cook, Eat, Repeat -that I would love for you to participate in! A challenge of sorts, where we will get to break bread with each other, share an anecdote or two and bond over food and wine!

I will be sharing a theme for the month and will continue sharing recipes, anecdotes throughout the month centering on that. Some will be original recipes while others will be from bloggers I follow or have looked up for inspiration (will share their recipes with permission and credit, of course). Some will be from friends and family who I have had the good fortune of sharing meals with.

A very informal food blog where ‘a pinch’ is a perfectly acceptable measure of ingredients!

Will you join me please? The first post will go up this Sunday!

 

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Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you there soon!

The Year That Was

This is the year that has gone by the fastest- is what I tell myself every December. Because it truly does seem that way. And so, as this year is closing to an end, I have been thinking along the exact same lines and trying to pause to reflect on what has been. Not for any revelation or grandness of any sorts, but simply because I fear I let a lot of precious moments pass by me because I was too busy trying to make things as close to perfect as possible. Does it happen to you? Do moments pass by and you realize it only later?

A lot has happened in this last year, the most significant being we became a family of four from a family of three and, we are filled with gratitude. It has been a busy year of learning and unlearning things, as is every year and it has been a positive year so far. But when I step outside of this little cocoon of ours, so many people continue to be in pain, in suffering that it at times feels selfish to be wanting a new pair of shoes. Refugees continue to fight for existence all around the world, for acceptance, for recognition; families continue to be torn apart by practices that are inhumane; the “I” reigns supreme and our glaciers continue to melt, religion still divides and turns friends into foes. Pretty grim picture…right?  How to come out of this, I wonder.

The clock keeps ticking and with that, my mind travels in so many directions, trying to hold together thoughts- thoughts that want to talk about that beautiful sunset I had watched hiking among the mountains near a remote village near Osaka many years ago and the cathartic effect it had on me; thoughts that want to talk about my desire to travel around the world with my camera; thoughts that want to talk about how crazy it gets at times as a stay-at-home mom and not working; thoughts that want to talk about all the ‘what-ifs’ that got left out from the pages of the life. And then there are thoughts that are grateful and happy and silly and together, the good and the not-so-good continue to help carry on.

I have never done a ‘year-in-review’ post (not even when I had an account on Facebook) as I have felt I have not accomplished a lot as compared to the others. But I am changing that, as I am changing a lot of things, and one of the first things in that list would be- to let go and not overthink!  I am sharing with you some of my favorite clicks of the year ( starting a tad bit early- Nov ‘18) and  life’s big and little moments that are all special in their own unique way! I was inspired by some of my fellow bloggers (check their links….gorgeous photos!) and I am thankful for that:)

 

Nov-Dec ’18: Our baby girl joined us to be part of our everyday adventure and the big brother has been as caring and loving as possible, from the first moment they ‘met’. I had wanted to capture a good sunset on the 31st of Dec but this was the only one I could manage.

 

Jan ’19- Our little boy turned four and we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary- we share the date! My parents showered all their love and more in taking care of us as we adjusted to the new routine. And we celebrated not only our wedding anniversary but theirs as well and it was the first time in 10 years that I was with them on their anniversary…such an awesome feeling! Also, I baked a fruit cake for the first time:)

 

Feb-Mar ’19: The good man and I went on our first ‘date’ after a veeeery long time and though it was for a total of 30 mins and the whole time I panicked for the baby at home, it was like a breath of fresh air:) We had a lot of snow again, something that my parents got tired of, but never complained having to stay cooped up indoors for all the months they stayed here. Our little boy started spelling on his own and I baked one of my most favorite cakes- the red velvet cake, also for the first time!

 

Apr-May ’19: My favorite season for taking photos and this spring, I took more photos than I had ever done before.

 

June-July ’19: I took photos of more flowers than I can ever remember having clicked and that was something new for me. Our little boy completed his pre-school and from the teary eyed kid who had walked in unsure into the classroom last September, he soon became this kid who couldn’t wait to go to school every day. Our baby girl had her “annoprashon“( a ceremony that takes place when a baby turns 5-6 months and gets a taste of her first solid food typically ‘payesh‘- which is a type of a pudding, made with milk, white rice and sugar. This is an important celebration as it marks her introduction to solid food) and it was a whole lot of fun dressing her up:) My father- in-law and mother-in-law were here to celebrate as was my sister-in-law and her family. It was surely a special occasion.

 

Aug-Sept ’19: It was about sunsets and rain drops, apple picking and our first picnic,  solitary red leaf and the unmistakable blue sky, heralding the beginning of Fall.

 

Sept-Oct ’19: The little boy started Pre-K, we had beautiful evenings in the park running around and we made memories as a family during our first Durga Puja together. The good man carved our first jack-o’-lantern.

 

Nov-Dec ’19: Our baby girl turned one, mastered climbing up the stairs and brother and sister have been just in their own world, laughing and rolling around! There has been baking and decorating too, while the last signs of fall and the start of winter gave me opportunities for clicking some photos around the neighborhood. Our baby girl also just got her ears pierced and I still can’t wrap my head around that!

 

We make our memories and they are for us to enjoy whenever we want to. Sharing that happiness adds to the feeling of gratefulness. We learn so much along the way from each other that distances don’t seem to matter that much…our shared narrative keeps us together. This year that we are set to bid adieu to, ends a decade and we begin another one with the new year. It was a year, for me, of ups and downs as it was for all of us, probably. And while I generally don’t do ‘what-did-I-learn-this-year’, I am inclined to do one this time. I have been showered with more love than my heart could hold and I have been made to feel the exact opposite as well- unworthy of the slightest recognition; I have felt on top of the world and I have also succumbed to postpartum depression; I have laughed till my sides ached and I have cried till no more tears came. And all of that has helped me understand a tad bit more the slippery slope of our relationship with life. It is never going to be perfect and neither are the people in it.  I read somewhere recently that ‘mindful life is not about the next moment. It’s about the present one’.  It is so easy to read these quotes and get inspired and feel energized but it’s a whole different ballgame trying to put that into practice, to live by it. But when you think about it, is it really that difficult? I have been taking baby steps towards this and while it does feel daunting at times to live in the moment only, probably because we are not used to that, it has been invigorating for the mind. Letting go of feelings that harbor negativity is another lesson I am going to be taking along with me to the new year and perhaps letting such people go as well! This year has brought me many things but the gift it has brought me more than ever is a new perspective. Many things were not part of the plan but they happened anyways. Some brought joy while others were downright painful. But they happened. And my wishing otherwise did not prevent them from taking place. And then a new day also came and better things brightened up the grey. What have I learned, you may ask. I have learned to accept and move on, I have learned to keep my faith and know that it will work out, I have learned to not stop trying in spite of all signs pointing at the opposite, I have learned to keep breathing. I have learned to pause a little when needed and ask for help, I have learned to trust more and appreciate more. I am still learning. Learning from my kids, from the good man I share this life with, from my parents who I watch from oceans apart, from the kindest neighbor one could possibly have, from that friend who will run to my side if I ever asked her and the 8000 miles between us would not matter.

Life is unpredictable, but it still is beautiful. It submerges us in its never ending waves but also teaches us to ride along and ride out. It lays quiet at times and then springs on us moments that are unexpected and unsought, some euphoric while others woeful, but all riveting nonetheless. Learning to ride along and ride out is what keeps our love affair with this life so gripping.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful year ahead. May we crank up the music a little louder and dance if we want to, or take up a new challenge and not be afraid of failing; may we never stop being kind but also protect ourselves from being taken advantage of because of that kindness; may we keep moving ahead with the sure, albeit a bit wobbly,  steps and may we know we are all in this together. It’s going to be okay!

What are some of your takeaways from this year? Did you stumble upon something new about yourself that took you by surprise? Would love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

For a cold-ish night- Chicken & Gravy

   I am glad that Fall is here…well almost here. It is getting harder to get up in the mornings and that desire to cover myself up with another light blanket and just be cozy for a few extra minutes, is getting harder to fight. The dazzling blue sky, crisp air and that autumn smell is enticing and while it feels tricky to calculate in how many layers to dress up the little guy for school, it is a happy feeling overall. Till winter shows up.

    I have written on a similar topic before as well and you can read that here but I get this urge to write a bit more around this time of the year. You see it’s ‘Durga Pujo’ time back in Kolkata and few other parts of India and the Bengali in me still yearns for it, in spite of being in this country for a good number of years. And that longing does not go away. I get super nostalgic and reminisce till it almost hurts a bit and at the same time makes me ecstatic and sometimes, I chew off the good man’s ears with favorite memories from that time. My kids have not reached that age yet where they will understand that frenzy and since we live in a land far away, I doubt they ever will. For them the excitement of Halloween and Christmas will always be a bit more and that’s probably okay. My son does get excited though about getting dressed in Panjabi (or Kurta– the traditional attire for men in India) and going to see Goddess Durga and Her full Family, all decked up! He loves the general merriment, especially the beating of the dhaak ( a membranophone instrument from India) that is almost ethereal and one of the most awaited sounds for every Bengali around this time back in Kolkata. And that makes me happy. So, while it is quite different here physically, in my mind I keep taking short trips to past Pujos during this time. That’s the wonderful thing about weaving memories…they remain for you to enjoy and cuddle in whenever you want to.

   New Jersey nights are different from the glittery glamour of Pujo nights back home. They are quiet and offer a very different symphony. Chirps of crickets, occasional rustling of leaves, a solitary car alarm breaking the sound of silence in the neighborhood. They are colder too. The intoxicating smell of the shiuli (night-flowering jasmine) does not fill up the senses here but the reds, yellows, and oranges of the leaves sure make for a visual treat. While we do stir up Bengali delicacies during this time of the year, Fall also heralds the beginning of trying various casseroles, one pot dishes, hearty soups, ramens and similar comfort foods! And that gets me scouring the internet for inspirations and recipes and firing up the stove eventually. A couple of nights ago, I had this desire to have some chicken and gravy, something that I have somehow never made before and after going through a handful of recipes, I found one from https://thesaltymarshmallow.com/one-pan-smothered-chicken/. I made a couple of minute alterations and I will note them in red in the recipe below. It was super delicious and an instant hit even with my little guy who is a picky eater! I am sharing the recipe here and I hope you get to try it sometime and enjoy it as much as we did.

One Pan Smothered Chicken

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Nichole

Ingredients

  • 6 Slices Bacon, Diced
  • 2 Pounds Chicken Thighs, Bone in and skin on
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Stick Butter, Divided
  • 3 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Milk

Instructions

  • Cook the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. (I did not have bacon)
  • While the bacon is cooking, mix together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl or dish.
  • Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and dredge the chicken on each side into the seasoned flour until coated. Shake off any excess flour and set the flour mixture aside for later. (Also, I did not have chicken thighs and I had to use drumsticks and the cooking time was a little longer. Check for internal temperature of 165F. I had also marinated the chicken earlier with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, a little bit of chipotle mustard and a little bit of mayonnaise)
  • Once the bacon is removed from the pan, add half of the butter to the pan and allow to melt.
  • When the butter is melted, add the flour coated chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown.
  • Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining butter to the pan and allow it to melt.
  • Sprinkle one cup of the remaining seasoned flour to the pan and whisk for 1 minute until the butter and flour are well combined.
  • Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and milk until gravy is smooth.
  • Return the cooked chicken and bacon to the pan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

 

   The good man made some mashed potatoes that was super smooth and yummy too. We had this with seasoned quinoa (and by seasoned I mean I had added salt, paprika and lemon-pepper powder to the water when the quinoa was cooking). We enjoyed the dinner as a family and even our 10 month old joined us in her high chair, squished some of her orange puffs and made various noises, which according to the little guy was her trying to join in the ‘grown up’ conversation we were having!

 

 

   And as I went to bed that night and drifted away to sleep, the festive nights of Kolkata seemed to be a world away, and the gentle lullaby and the humming of the pedestal fan were the only sounds breaking the lull of a sleepy house.

 

[I don’t know the name of this tree or the flower, but this look reminded me of the Shiuli phool (Bengali for flower) back in India that blossom during these autumn months and a whiff is enough to tell you that Pujo is here.]

 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are weaving memories that will keep you warm and snuggled, wherever you find yourself.

Pasta Salad

   My good man and I are both enthusiastic and enterprising when it comes to trying food that is different from what we grew up eating back in India ( which is so different from the food that is served in the Indian restaurants outside of the country, all around the world…more on this some other time!). Having lived in this country that has come to become our home, our platters and tummies have gradually added more variety and as a result, English breakfasts,  burritos, casseroles, salads, ramen, donburi, jambalaya, pastas, pies are some of the things that can be found on our dinner menu alongside traditional Bengali and north Indian food.

   While I still occasionally find myself lurking in the recipe book section on a trip to the bookstore- that special smell and feel of books…ahhhhh, what an unparalleled feeling- food blogs from around the world have brought every conceivable cuisine to our smart phones and tablets and that makes ‘whipping up’ something with a difficult name, sound doable by amateurs like us!  Food bloggers share their love and passion, the warmth of their hearth with the rest of us and establish this connection, probably unknowingly, that bridges gaps between languages and cultures and we all become part of this milieu which nourishes and nurtures.

   It has been long since I shared recipes (on a more or less regular basis) and that ends today! After a brief hiatus, we have again started trying out different recipes and I am sharing a simple pasta salad recipe from Pinch of Yum that I recently made for a group of lovely ladies. It is so so easy and I am sure you all have made this many times, without or with alterations to suit your taste buds! No matter which way you make/ have made… I hope you get/got to share it with those close to your heart.

I made this with minute alterations ( which I have noted in red). It was an instant hit and I am sure you will not be disappointed as well🧡

 

 RECIPE FROM PINCH OF YUM

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta – I like rotini!
  • 3 cupcherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
  • 1 lb. salami or summer sausage, cut into cubes (I did not use this as a couple of my friends were vegetarian)
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup pepperoncini (optional, but do it)
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Italian pasta salad dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cupolive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (white vinegar or red wine vinegar work)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespooncoarse sea salt (yes, tablespoons – see notes!) (I did not have this, so I went with regular salt)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each dry oregano and dry basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs if you want! sometimes I add fresh parsley, basil, or chives.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook pasta according to package in salted water for more flavor. Allow to cool slightly and toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Blend up the dressing, or shake together in a jar.
  3. Toss all ingredients together! I like to use about three-fourths of the dressing, and then I save the rest of the dressing to add to my leftovers.
  4. Keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I think it actually tastes best the day AFTER you make it.

Salt FYI: Please note that the amount written is for COARSE sea salt. If you are using fine table salt, start with 2 teaspoons and add more to taste. The dressing itself will be very salty. Like, too salty for a normal salad. But in this recipe, that’s what we want! That dressing is going to get tossed with an entire pound of plain pasta, as well as a whole lot of fresh unseasoned vegetables, and it will taste delicious once it’s all tossed up.

 

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Hope you give this a try and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Chicken Avocado Salad

   Winter, this year, has been strange here in Jersey. We did not get much snow ( I am not complaining about that even a bit!) but we have been getting a lot of  rain and gloomy damp days which is making this winter seem especially depressing, weather wise. I say weather wise because indoors it has been spirited, colorful and giggly as we welcomed our baby girl in November. The four year old has been the best big brother and along with my parents, who have been the ‘cannot-be-put-into-words’ blessing one could hope for during such times, it has been a vibrant winter!

   My Ma’s home cooked meals have kept our bellies full and our souls fuller. We got to enjoy delectable “Bangali ranna” (Bengali food) every day and it refreshed so many memories from when I was growing up. Hearing them talk fondly of the by gone days has made me appreciate life and all that I had and have a bit more. Nostalgia is a good thing.

   Yesterday, I decided to make myself a salad for lunch simply to see if I remembered how to! And I kid you not when I say this because I have not had anything to do with the kitchen (except for baking a couple of cakes and brownies) for these past five months and now that the time has come for my parents to go back to Kolkata, Neel and I will have to fend for ourselves! And salads are going to be my go-to stuff for lunch. So, I made a chicken avocado salad that turned out to be pretty good and I am sharing that with you today. This is a simple salad and I am sure you have had this or a version of this more than once!

Ingredients:

  1. 4 cooked chicken tenders, chopped. (you can use 2 medium chicken breasts, or 1 big too).
  2. 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced.
  3. 1/2 cup roasted corn (I used from the can).
  4. 1/2 cup of finely cut red peppers.
  5. 1/4 cup finely cut yellow onions (You can use either red or yellow…I did not have the red ones).
  6. 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  7. 1/2 cup olives (pitted)
  8. About 2 cups of spring mix.
  9. 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can use lime juice too).
  10. 2 tbsp Olive oil.
  11. A handful of walnuts
  12. 2 tbsp ranch dressing (optional)
  13. Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Putting it together:

I cooked the chicken tenders on stove top in a little bit of vegetable oil (I had marinated the chicken tenders for about 15 minutes with a little bit of salt, 1/2 tsp of paprika, 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of lemon pepper powder and 1 tsp of olive oil. I sprinkled a bit of flour on the chicken right before cooking…it gives a nice brown coating). And then after it cooled down a bit, I chopped it up and put it along with all the other stuff in my big brown salad bowl and chomped it up while cradling a semi sleeping 3 month old!

Easy- peasy lemon squeezy!

P.S. I had it today with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing instead of ranch and it tasted even better. You can also add chopped walnuts if you want ( I added this to the list of ingredients).

 

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