Nothing like good old chicken curry to bring warmth to your soul and add flavour to your table on a winter afternoon. Sharing the recipe of my very talented friend Heema Roy Choudhury. Though she sounds humble, she’s a great cook and a painter too. You can check out her paintings at Hearts Work on Facebook. And try this yummy chicken curry with coconut milk for Sunday lunch.
I’m not a foodie and I always want to spend very less time in kitchen but cook delicious meals at the same time using many tips to cook fast. I eat to live but my family lives to eat, let’s put it that way. Even though I can eat almost anything (avoiding few without complaints but if I’m a judge at a cooking contest it will be really difficult to pass my taste bud with a good score.
I love using coconut milk in my recipes and would love to share my favourite Chicken Malaikari.
1. Chicken: 1 kg
2. Onions:2 medium cut into small slices
3. Garlic and ginger paste: 2 tsp each
4. Green chilly paste: 2 nos, can be more or less according to tolerance level. You can also add 1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder for colour.
5. Garam masala (Green cardamom pods -2/3 crushed, cinnamon powder-1 tsp, cloves-2/3 nos, bay leaves -2)
6. Turmeric powder: 2tsp
7. Lemon juice:2 tsp
8. Mixture of mustard oil and refined oil: 4tbs
9. Coconut milk: 1 can (2 cups)
12.Salt according to taste
1.Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, garlic & ginger paste and salt into chicken pieces and mix them well.
2.Now heat oil in a pan. Add garam masala in it and let the aroma come out of it.
3.Next add onions and sugar and fry in low flame for few minutes.
4. Add the chicken. Mix well . Cook for 10- 15 minutes. Then you can cover the pan with a lid and stir occasionally. Cook till checked pieces get softened.
5.After that open the lid and pour the coconut milk and mix well. If required water can be added. Salt is added to taste.
You can serve it with rice, roti, chapati or paratha.
There’s little nip in the air. Feel like hugging the blanket little longer in the morning, soaking in the sweet sunshine (whenever there’s sun that is)!
winters, I remember the dip in temperature and soft morning dew used to make me
so happy once. There was something special about winters, especially the
pleasant and gentle early winter. As a girl in Agartala, it was all about
feeling the touch of morning dew on the leaves and green grass, clear blue sky,
golden sunlight touching my face and melting the morning dew, sitting on the
sunlit terrace after school, enjoying the winter veggies, hot milk and other
delicacies. Mom would take the woolens out, repair the old sweaters, knit new ones.
Dad would get jhola gur (runny jaggery) and fresh oranges from the
nearby farms. Often after school we would sit on the terrace and have peanuts
Agartala, I spent two years in Hyderabad. Winters were just pleasant there.
Nights would get cold, but days were warm, I somehow missed the chill. Moving
to Delhi soon after Hyderabad in early 2000, exposed me to different kind of
winter all together. I was completely engulfed in the Delhi fog. Since
Hyderabad was not that cold, I didn’t have enough woolens. My cousin took to me
shopping to Sarojini Nagar and Dilli Haat for warm clothes and shoes. That was
the time when my fashion sense was at its peak though the budget was very
limited. I had just started my first job with a meagre salary of Rs. 5000/- and
I wanted to buy the whole world with it. I soon realized there were many other
expenses besides fashionable clothes, shoes and purses, yet fashion could not
be comprised. Hence, being fashionably turned out in winters took many hours of
pushing through the crowd in Sarojini Nagar. Finally, I was very happy with the
result. I would walk through the dense fog every mornings in my fashionable
Sarojini Nagar jackets and boots and then take a DTC bus to work.
I loved the
Delhi fogs. There was something mysterious and romantic about them. The feeling
on numbness, the low visibility, wondering what lay ahead. On weekends I would
spend hours staring dreamily at the foggy landscape, watching the feeble lazy
sun finally rise and melt the fog. I so loved hanging out in Dilli Haat and
Sarojini Nagar, enjoying steaming momos and hot pakodas and chai.
Then, before I knew it, the romantic fog suddenly turned into dirty and
polluted smog. The cold air that we once enjoyed and breathed in freely started
choking us. We started dreading the dull grey sky. And the saddest part is, we
all know what’s causing the deadly pollution, technologies are available but
there is absolutely no political will or bureaucratic will to act. We common
plebeians’ crib and cry on social media and continue to suffer. There isn’t
much we can do any way except voice our opinions, but unfortunately no one’s
listening. A friend of mine has developed respiratory problems because of the
pollution and has been advised by his doctor to leave the millennium city Gurgaon.
“I can’t just leave for three months. My company’s not going to pay me,” he
exclaims and continues to suffer.
worst tragedy or irony or SHAME is we kept our children locked up at home on Children’s
Day. Talking about her 9 nine-year-old daughter’s reaction when she learnt
school was shut on Children’s Day, a friend of mine said, “My daughter was all
excited last evening. They go to school in colorful outfits of Children’s Day.
She was so upset when I told her there will be no school today. ‘Why can’t you
control AQI?’, she asked. I didn’t know what to tell her.” Air that you can’t
breathe in, is that the gift we are giving our kids on Children’s Day? Is this
the legacy we are leaving behind?
While appreciating everything and everybody in his poem Bhalo Re Bhalo (loosely translated ‘All is Good’), Sukumar Ray, one of the greatest poets and humour writers of our time concludes: “Kintu shobar chaite bhalo, pauruti aar jhola gur” (But the best bet/ Is runny jaggery and bread).
The pleasure of
dipping bread or roti in jhola gur (runny jaggery or jaggery syrup) and
enjoying the sweet, sticky flavour on a winter morning. And once the bread gets
over, dipping the finger in jhola gur and licking it, relishing it to
the last dribble. As a child jhola gur was one of my most sought-after
desserts or sweet sauce. As the days would get colder, we would wait for dad to
get a tin (container) of jhola gur from one of the near by farms. We
would sit on the dining table expectantly with a bowl waiting for mom to serve
a spoonful of jhola gur. It would be followed by hours of licking the
bowl clean, with eyes often shut and a satisfied chuckle. The happiness and
satisfaction that simple jhola gur brought into our little lives!
Then there is
round kejhur gur or nolen gur and chunks of aakher gur. We
would wait for Masi to visit from Kolkata with patali gur, very popular
in West Bengal. In Agartala, dominated by East Bengalis, jhola gur and khejur
gur were more popular. While jhola gur and khejur gur are
from made date palm (khejur) sap, tal patali is made from palm (tal)
sap and aakher gur comes from sugarcane (aakh) juice. As kids we
would love to suck little cubes of tal patali and khejur gur. The heavenly
taste and the heady flavour of this crude desi sweetener can’t be matched by
candies that kids crave for nowadays.
Khejur gur or nolen gurer payesh (kheer made
with nalen gur), nolen gurer pathishapta, nariyel naru made of gur
are the sweet delicacies mom makes every winter. I still wait in the kitchen to
taste the sweet, warm patishapta as my mom takes it off the tawa. Unfortunately,
not many people make patishapta at home anymore and those available in
sweet shops just don’t taste the same. But I do love nolen gurer sandesh
and roshogolla and other sweets made of nolen gur that sweet
shops across Bengal are flooded with. In Delhi you can visit the Bengali sweet
shops in CR Park for nolen gur delicacies.
When I visited my Uncle in Chandigarh as a child, my aunt
gave me small piece of gur after lunch. Gur helps with digestion
so Punjabis have gur after meal, I was told. Later I sampled delicious gur
ke parantha. Not just in Bengal and Punjab, gur is popular across India.
Maharashtra is the largest producer and consumer of gur, I recently read in
Wiki. In Maharashtra, during Makar Sankranti, a dessert called tilgul (sesame
seed candy) is prepared with gur. In Gujarat,
gur is known as gôḷ and is used during Makar Sankranti
for similar preparation called tal na ladu or tal
sankli. In rural Maharashtra and Karnataka, water and a piece of gur
are given to a person coming home after working under hot sun. Gujratis also
make laddus with wheat flour and gur and famous Marathi Puran Poli
uses gur. Of course, we are all familiar with gur ki patti, gur
ke gajak, moya made with gur and other desi healthy and tasty
And gur is not just
tasty, it has many health benefits. It prevents constipation, boosts immunity,
detoxes liver, purifies blood, helps in digestion to list a few. However, like
most desi delicacies, gur is not glamourous enough to appeal to the
younger lot. A kid today will probably not even look at gur, let alone
relish it. We Indians somehow pick western dessert and dishes over traditional
Indian cuisine. Perhaps, gur is waiting to be discovered by a western
chef to make it a happening sweetener.
Delhi and most of North India is still hung over from the Diwali revelries. The end of four-day partying, drinking and other festivities does leave a vacuum, on top of it the trauma of returning to work. The depressing fog caused by post Diwali pollution and crop burning doesn’t make things any easier.
Diwali or Deepavali or the Festival of Light is the most important festival in India, celebrated across the country with much pomp and show. According to Hindu mythology, Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the homecoming of Lord Rama after vanquishing Ravana. To celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana and welcome their king back home along with Lakshmana and Sita, people of Ayodhya lit up the city with earthen lamps, diyas.
As per another popular belief, Lord
Krishna killed the Demon Narakasura, the evil king of Pragjyotishapura, near
present-day Assam and released 16000 girls captivated by Narakasura. In Karnataka
Diwali is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi, triumph of good over evil, observing
Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakasura. Interestingly, both Rama and Krishna
are incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Across north India, Goddess Lakshmi
and Lord Ganesha are worshipped on the night of Diwali. Houses are cleaned and
lit up. Though artificial lights are more popular nowadays, people still light diyas.
New clothes, feasts, card parties, rangoli, flower decoration, crackers are
important part of Diwali celebrations. However, there are lot of variations
even here. For Marwaris it’s not just Lakshmi and Ganesha, they worship gold
and silver coins on the night of Diwali. “Every Dhanteras we buy coins and add
to our existing collection that are kept in the puja room or asana along
with the deities. We worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha, and these coins
on Diwali night,” says my Marwari friend Poonam. Largely a trader community,
Marwari’s observe Bahi Khata Visarjan on Diwali (closing the old ledger
and opening a new one). Thus, Diwali marks the beginning of a new financial
year for this community. Marwaris also light up diyas with different
oils on each day. “On Dhanteras we light up diyas with ghee, on Choti
Diwali sarso ke tel ke diya and on the day of Diwali we light up diyas
with teel tel.” says Poonam.
For us Bengalis, Diwali is about Kali
Pujo. We worship the fearsome incarnation of Durga on the dark Diwali night. We
do follow the tradition of decorating the house with diyas and lighting
crackers. After moving to Delhi, I started buying clay idols of Lakshmi and Ganesh
and decorating the house with flowers on Diwali. Assimilating whatever appeals
to us, brings about a feeling of positivity, that’s the beauty of our traditions!
In Rajasthan, Diwali is a five day
affair that starts with Dhanteras and ends with Bhai Dooj. Diwali in the cities
of Rajasthan is an unforgettable experience. I was in Jaisalmer this Diwali,
the golden city lit up with diyas was a sight to see. Diwali in Jaipur is
a grand affair.
The appeal of Diwali goes beyond
religion. It’s a festival which has different cultural connotations, yet the
spirit of festivity and optimism is something that is celebrated across the
country, amongst different communities, a festival that is eagerly awaited each
Birthdays are always so special to me. Many a ‘mature’ people have often told me, “What’s the big deal about birthday? It’s just another day.” For me they are a BIG deal, I wait for my birthday every year, for the wishes to pour in, the cakes, the gifts, even the FB wishes and videos. I subtly (and sometimes shamelessly) remind people about my upcoming birthday, lest they forget to wish. Passing years haven’t taken the sheen off birthday celebrations, I feel as excited as I did as a little girl. It’s not so much about a huge party or expensive presents, it’s more about being remembered by people you love, celebrating the day I came to this world, surely there’s something special about that day!
When I was a little girl, birthdays were about mom making kheer in the morning. I would be greeted with a spoonful of sweet kheer, new dress and maybe a toy. I grew up in a joint family, dida (dadi), kaku (uncles), pishi (bua) and cousins, besides my parents and sisters, would lovingly wish me happy birthday. There were no 12 a.m. celebrations then, birthday celebrations started in the morning. While my parents would get me a dress for my birthdays’, Namentu (my dad’s younger brother who was very popular with the children of the family) would indulge me with toys and books. Ranga pishi (my favourite bua) would ensure I got all my favourite sweets. Unfortunately, both Namentu and Ranga Pishi left us early and birthday’s or any other celebration has not been the same since.
highpoint of the day was about wearing a new dress and happily heading to the
school bus stop holding Ranga Pishi’s hand with a bag full of toffees
(Parle G or Eclairs). Birthday girls or boys would get special treatment in the
school and that would start from the bus stop. Kids would wish me, give me
flowers, I would handout a toffee to each child. On reaching school the class
teacher would announce my birthday and the whole class would sing for me. After
that I would hand out a toffee to each kid, close friends would get more than
one (the birthday girl’s discretion made her so important that day). To think
just one toffee could be so sought after!
be small party at home in the evening. Mom would bake a cake, cook my favourite
food. My best friend, few of my close friends and the whole family would gather
for the cake cutting and the dinner thereafter. It was a simple homely affair
but there was so much love and affection. I got cute little gifts like pens and
pencil boxes which I cherished. Throwing a birthday party in a hotel or a
restaurant, spending money on expensive gifts didn’t even cross our minds in
those days. We were so happy blowing balloons, decorating the drawing room with
coloured papers, being hugged and kissed and wished by everyone around. Those
were the perfect birthdays!
leaving home, midnight birthday celebrations in the hostel had its own share of
fun and excitement. Friends and hostel mates would organize a cake, admirers
would cue up with lovey dovey cards and sometimes flowers. Made me feel so
grown up, years ahead seemed so exciting. When I started working, I started paying for
my own birthday dinners and throwing birthday parties, that was a different
feeling all together.
birthdays’ away from home haven’t always been easy. There were moments when I pined for more
attention from someone special, felt people didn’t care enough for me and my
birthday. But those are far and few, buried in the happy memories and
excitement that birthday brings along with it each year. I have been blessed
with friends who always take time out to make my birthday special, buy me gifts
that I cherish!
best part is, even after celebrating so many birthdays I don’t feel any older.
I don’t attempt to light up the cake with 40 something candles though. The glow
of my happiness, youth, maturity and wisdom (that I have accumulated over the
years hopefully) is enough for that!!
Once upon a time she was my constant companion. I wouldn’t
leave home without her. Whether going to school in the morning or
visiting neighbours in the evening, she would be neatly folded and pinned to my
dress or tugged in my skirt. We loved playing Rumal
Choras kids. When I started carrying fancy bags to
college, she found a special place in that bag. Life was unimaginable without
Sparking white, or in soothing pale shades of pink or blue,
with pretty flowers or little birds embroidered, honeycombed edges, Miss Hankie
and her friends were such a delight. I remember making my first little hankie when
I was in 4th standard. SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work) was a
compulsory subject in school then. With such excitement and love I hemmed the
edges of a small square pale blue cloth and embroidered a pink lotus in one
corner. After that I went on to make so many hankies, in different colours and
embroideries, some with my name stylishly embroidered. I was so proud of
carrying my own little hankies, sometimes perfumed, gently dabbing away sweat
or dust from the face and neck.
Miss Hankie was ever so romantic and enigmatic. Lovelorn
youth would often find solace in the sweet-smelling handkerchief of their lady
love. Boys would use hanky as ploy to strike a conversation with the person of
their interest. “Excuse me Miss, I think you dropped your hanky,” was corniest
pick up line ever. Miss Hankie found a special place in romantic Bollywood
movies as well – Reshmi Rumal, Kaali Topi Lal Rumal, where handkerchief played
such an important role. There are so many romantic movie scenes where the male
protagonist is seen languishing over a delicate little hanky of his beloved.
For the male counterpart of Miss. Hankie, it was all about chivalry. We have so often seen the protagonist offer his handkerchief with aplomb to a damsel in distress. The ‘resham ki rumal’ has always added to the appeal of the swashbuckling Hindi film hero. Remember Shammi Kapoor in “Sar par topi lal, haath me reshmi rumal hai tera kya kehena”
Sadly however, little Miss Hankie is now on the brink of
extinction, nudged away by the convenient tissues. Like most people of my
generation, I am guilty of making the switch to tissues. I have lost all my
little hankies; I just carry a pack of face tissue in my purse. There are hand
tissues and paper towels that have made hankies completely redundant. My mom,
however, still sticks to her hankies, finding them more reliable than the array
of tissues. Fortunately, male handkerchiefs have survived, they still find
place in most men’s pocket, though the charisma once associated with them is
Tissues may have brought in convenience, but unlike hankies
there’s nothing romantic about them. There was something personal about
hankies, reflecting so strongly the personality of their owner – the touch, the
smell. Tissues on the other hand don’t have a distinct character, they are just
use and throw. And the idea of picking up a used tissue is quite repulsive, no
matter how beautiful or charming the user may be!
Goddess Lakshmi, is she the milder manifestation of Durga or
is she her daughter? There are various interpretations in Hinduism. Durga –
also knowns as Parvati or Kali (in more awe-inspiring form) and, Lakshmi &
Saraswathi are considered to be Tridevi in Shaktism. They are the consorts of
the Trimurti – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and
Saraswathi the goddess of learning, are the milder manifestations of Adi
Parashakti, Devi. We Bengali’s however consider Lakshmi and Saraswathi to
be daughters of Durga. Daughters are manifestations of their mothers anyway, so
I don’t see a problem with either interpretation.
In Bengal and other eastern states Lakshmi or Kojagari
Lokkhi is worshiped on the full moon night that falls after Dashami or
Dussehra. On Diwali, when Lakshmi and Ganesha are worshipped in North India, we
worship the formidable Kali on Amavasya – the night of the new moon. Since this
is the month of the Goddesses, Shakti or women power, I decided to pen a post
on the apparently mild and quiet Goddess Lakshmi or Ma Lokkhi.
She is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, hence she is
worshipped and sought after by all. Traditions may be different, rituals may
vary, but Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped by Hindus, Buddhist and Jains across
India. And don’t go by her benign smile and her quiet grace, she is one of the
most whimsical goddesses’. Known as chanchala she doesn’t reside is one
place for long. She needs to be constantly sought after, worshipped. She maybe
seen sitting quietly at the feet of her consort Vishnu but don’t mistake her
for an obedient wife. While Vishnu is all for Dharma, Lakshmi will grant her
blessings on whoever she pleases. She doesn’t care if her devotee is an asura
or a sinner. We all know that the demon king Ravana lived in a majestic palace
made of solid gold.
In Bengal, this whimsical Goddess is worshipped on the night
of Sharad Purnima or Kojagari Purnima. Ma Lokkhi is worshipped in pandals that
lie lonely after the departure of Ma Durga and in most Bengali households. Her
presence brings back the festive cheer, fills the vacuum that we feel once the four-day
Durgotsav comes to an end. Ma Lokkhi, we worship has two hands. Dressed in red,
with a benevolent smile she comes riding an owl, holding a gachkouto (red
coloured pot filled with sindoorand a silver coin) in one hand and
blessing us with the other. The golden goddess is known for her beauty, her
aura lights up the world.
Lokkhi Pujo was an important part of my growing up years. I
remember going to the market with my uncle and cousins to pick up the most
beautiful idol of the goddess. The house would be cleaned, we would put rangoli
or alpana with rice powder paste all over the house. Feet of Ma Lokkhi
would be drawn at each doorstep to ensure that the Goddess visits the
household. The elaborate bhog would consist of nariyal naru, chirer
moya, fruits, sweets, lucchi, khichdi, labra, chutney and kheer, and
of course pan supuri (beetle leaves & nuts). Mom would decorate the
vedi with flowers, a kalash with nariyal and amra pallab (nascent
mango leaves) would be placed before the Goddess. The room would be decorated
with alpana and flowers.
Mom and other aunts would wear fresh clothes, usually a red
sari, comb their hair, put on sindoor, bindi and alta (red dye applied
on the feet). Ma Lokkhi likes cleanliness, she likes well-dressed people, she
likes peace and quiet. Fearing that the goddess may flee at the sight of
anything untidy the whole house would be cleaned and decked up. As a little
girl I would excitedly watch the preparations of the pujo, helping with the
decorations and alpana. I would beg mom to put some alta on my feet and
she would eventually oblige. Ladies of the house would observe fast on the day
of the pujo that would be broken with Chipitak Bhakhan (coconut water and
chire) after the pujo. Though the bhog laid out for the goddess is
vegetarian, married women are supposed to eat fish after the pujo. According to
Hindu mythology the goddess visits her devotes only very late at night, so we
would wait up for her.
Though I have stayed away from home for a while, not been
part of Lokkhi Pujo in years, I feel the same excitement on the day of the
Pujo. I am not greedy for riches; I pray to Ma Lokkhi to bless me with enough
wealth, wisdom and strength to take care of myself and those around me!
Bijoya Dashami! Time to bid adieu to Goddess Durga, the all-powerful Mother. The day brings back memories of Dadur Barir Durga Pujo (Puja at my maternal grand father’s ancestral home). Ladies would gather before the Durga idol since morning, feeding her sweets, wiping her tears with pan (beetle leaves), trying to catch a glimpse of her feet in the water. This would be followed by Shidhur Khela – married women smearing each other with red sindoor. Once the rituals of Dhashami Pujo was complete the male members would get the Ek Chalar Durga Pratima out of the huge puja ghar. Every year the puja ghar would be decorated and a vedi would be made for Ma Durga and her children. Getting the idol down from the vedi and out of the puja ghar took a lot of maneuvering.
would be then placed in the huge courtyard. Sound of dhak, kashor, ghanta,
conch, smell of dhoop would fill the atmosphere. The whole extended
family danced around Durga, teary eyed – ‘Aami daaki ma ma, mai toh kane
shone na’ (I keep calling out to Mother, but she has turned a deaf ear to
to let go. The idol of the Goddess would be immersed in the pond that lay at
the backside of the courtyard. Ma Durga along with her entourage being lifted
deftly and carried to the pond, following the procession eagerly with a heavy
heart, scampering for her jewelry and her weapons as the Goddess was immersed
in the water, crying out loud as the Mother Goddess let herself be devoured by
the water body…
Those were the
pre-mobile camera days. Unfortunately, I have no photographs to share but the
images are firmly etched in my memory…
Bijoya Dhashami, may Devi grant us wisdom and peace of mind!
talking to Sanchita Singh Roy from SAANCHi. This interview is special not only
because Sanchita is a very dear friend. I love the effortlessly elegant clothes
designed by SAANCHI. Be it office wear, party or weddings Sanchita’s creations
will make you stand out. And what I like best about her is that she creates
clothes that can add to the beauty and elegance of every women. The cuts, the silhouettes,
the textures and the colours, her classic style complement real women.
If I may admit, I first visited Sanchita’s studio reluctantly on her husband Sanjay’s request. Sanjay has been a close friend and I was afraid that I would be obliged to buy something from Sanchita even if I didn’t like her work. But the moment I stepped into her studio I fell in love with her work, bought so many of her beautiful pieces myself, recommended her to many of my friends. So, let’s hear from Sanchita in the video link below…
The golden sunlight, the clear blue sky, the white cottony clouds
The gentle cool breeze, the sweet smell of shiuli, or just the memory of that smell whiffing through the air
Ears straining for the sound of dhak, the excitement of dhunochi dance
Absurd heart yearning to soak up in the spirit of Durga Pujo and the festivities
To while away the mornings, the afternoons and the evenings idly busy in the pandal
To feel purposeful, yet do nothing
To feel the nearness of the soft glow of the divine power
The positivity, the optimism and the cheer
Dressing up in best saris, suits and jewelry
Showing ourselves off in the radiance of the divine glow
Sampling the choicest delicacy
Hopping from pandal to pandal as if nothing else mattered on those four days of Matri Pujo
The carefree Pujo days while we were growing up
Memories come flooding back with the gentle breeze, the soft dew, the all forgiving smile and the golden aura of Devi
“Devi arrived on ghatak (horse) this year, that’s bad omen,” exclaims my mother
The all-powerful Mother Goddess can only be the harbinger of hope, of all the good that awaits us, protests my absurd heart!!