Sunday, April 14, 2019

Summer Holiday in Kenilworth Goa

Summer vacations in Goa is a fantastic way to spend some quality time together as a family. as a mom and travel blogger, I get a lot of requests for suggestions for places to stay in Goa.
The reason why I recommend Kenilworth resort and spa in South Goa are plenty .

first off, it is a beach side property. in the summer heat, you dont want to be travelling long distances to get to the beach, and also even a half an hour at the beach in mid morning is enough , having a beach side property allows you to go to the beach multiple times in the day. a morning walk, and then mid morning water frolic, a sunset picnic.

The beach near Kenilworth is a 'live beach'where you can sea real sea creatures. because of the uneven sand at the beach, pockets of sea water form litlle beach ponds, and we were able to see small live fishes, moving starfishes and crabs and even wriggling sea shells . all of which was very fascinating for my son.

The next must have at a summer vacation destination is a swimming pool. the swimming pool at Kenilworth is the second largest in the state, it has a water slide as well! and plunge pool bar where we enjoyed colourful drinks.
we loved that the pool is near the kids outdoor play park. and between swims, he could get up and go and plaay in the sand pit, or play on the swings and slides. Even though the property is very extensive , the fact that all the leisure activities are well clubbed together was a boon for a parent.

Another thing that I look for in a summer vacation destination is indoor play area. Goan summers can be extremely trying, and i loved the kids play room at Kenilworth. with so many books, toys and activities to choose from my son had a great time there. they have a baby sitter there as well, so if you wish you can leave your child there as well. i was pretty engrossed in putting together a puzzle at the kids area myself, and loved just hanging out and being a child with my son.

Dining Options are an important criteria while choosing a summer vacation in Goa. while we love to explore the state of Goa, during summers I realise that the heat can be too much, and more often you might find yourself dining at the inhouse restaurants in the resort itself.
Kenilworth has a number of dining options. The 24 hour coffee shop, they even have a poolside dining making it convenient to sip and dip, also they have an award winning italian restaurant called Salute, named after the Italian word for cheers.
This place does fabulous Pizzas, and every kid loves that, we had the 4 flavoured pizza , which made it really convenient to try various flavours, also it suits kids as well, since they may want multiple different toppings. we started of with a basket of bread , and grilled fish for my son, and we indulged in wines and proscitto . I know the picture quality on the meals is not great, but that's a fault of the lighting and you just have to take my word for it when i say, it is one of the more authentic Italian dining experiences in Goa, and the meats and produce is really top quality here.
Chef Davide was cheerful and hospitable, and delightful with my son. they got along like a house on fire, and chef Davide shared his vision of making Salute an easy dining experience loved by people of all ages, especially kids.

Chef Davide of Salute, Italian dining restaurant at Kenilworth resort and spa , Goa

One of the highlights of summer vacations is getting up late in mornings, and while they have a breakfast served till late at the dining room, i loved getting the kids specials right to our rooms. This picture of breakfast in bed with dad and son sleeping, is one of my favourites. its in contrast to all the other lifestyle bloggers who post #breakfastinbed, and how it changes once you have kids.
Kenilworth has a new wing of rooms, and these rooms have especially great views from the rooms. the balconies are well appinted with a view of the sea, and honestly , you could spend all morning just having breakfast in your room.

Not only did we have breakfast in bed, but we also stayed in the air conditioned luxury of our rooms, binge watched TV and ordered room service for lunch. The fish and chips was extremely well done, and we had goan fish curry rice, papad and salad to make it a fun family meal for three while we watched movies on TV.
Spending a lazy afternoon indoors, is what my idea of a great sunday summer vacation is. vacations can be tiring for parents, with kids on high energy and i always feel I need a vactaion , after my son's vacations are over.
I appreciate that at Kenilworth, there are multiple entertainment options for kids, an outdoor chess area, cycling , archery , swimming, they even have a dance floor... and not needing to step out of the comfort of the resort is a huge plus while choosing a place to stay.

room service that is prompt, delicious and served in style  at Kenilworth resort and spa

windows that overlook the sea and gardens
attention to detail. check out the crab towel art.

another fun summer time indoor activity is making bubble baths, no not for romantic or even leisurely soaks. bubble baths are super fun for kids, and you can make bubble snowmen, or even bubble castles or just have a splashing good time in the room itself . and the best part, mommy doesnt need to clean up afterwards (thankyou housekeeping) 

our stay was made extra special and comfortable by Suman from the front desk office.

breakfasts are equal parts healthy and sinful. breakfast donuts , smoothie bowls , fruits and fruit juices.

want to pack up a beach side picnic to watch the sunset ? kenilworth does it in style

summer vacations are not just a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your child, but also with your spouse. with a luxurious inhouse Spa option, at Kenilworth, you can opt for foot massages by the pool, and keep one eye on your children as they enjoy the play ground and swimming pool. both of which we were able to watch over , even as we enjoyed some we time.

Thankyou for joining us on a virtual tour of our holiday. top reasons to recommend Kenilworth for a summer vacation in Goa ; proximity to beach, indoor play area, large swimming pool with water slide, outdoor play ground, outdoor activities like cycling and archery and cricket on the sprawling gardens, wonderful hospitality, lots of eating options. you literally dont need to step out to experience all the things of a perfect beach holiday.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Cake memories and a simple recipe

For the longest time , I didn’t associate the traditional Christmas cake with a Christian celebration, but an Armed Forces celebration. Part of it was because I grew up as an Army kid, travelling around the country, as my father got posted from Delhi to Punjab, to Maharashtra. And no matter what part of the country we were, we would always have Christmas cake. It all begins during Diwali. Again, I am not sure if it’s an Armed Forces tradition, or just a North Indian tradition (because I don’t see much of it now that I live in Maharashtra and Goa ), but people loved gifting boxes of dry fruits along with an equally large box of fire crackers. The fire crackers were sent back, since we didn’t burst them , green Diwali and all, the pistas were devoured even before the wrapping came of the other dry fruits. An Army Diwali  means not just one box of dry fruits, or two, but entire regiments and battalions of dry fruit boxes. And so at Diwali, my mother would get all the left over dry fruits chopped, and soak them in Rum and Brandy bought from the Army Canteen. So you see, the two main ingredients of baking a Christmas cake; rum and dry fruits were present in abundance in almost every Armed Forces home. Also the entire chopping of what seemed kilos of dry fruits needed an army of workers, again something which was a privilege we enjoyed in the defence colonies. It’s easy to see, why I thought Christmas cakes was something of an Army/Navy /Airforce tradition rather than belonging to a religious celebration.
In the Armed forces, people of different region and religion , all seem to be mixed and moved around the country like a bag of pot -pourri, and all that you have in the end is a fairly homogenous group of odds and ends. And so here we were, Bengali hindu Brahmins, baking the most fragrant and indulgent Christmas cake, a recipe my mum learnt from another Armed Forces wife.
Cut to now, and it’s been over 15 years since my father left the Army, and yet , year after year, Ma makes  5 , sometimes 6 batches of Christmas cake, the prep for which begins at Diwali, and the cakes begin baking by first week of December all the way to mid January, depending on who needs to be gifted the cakes.
Even after baking them, the cakes are carefully wrapped in silver foil to keep the aromas in, and lovingly watered with rum every few days. There is a Bengali word they use for it ‘cake Moje jabe’ , I guess it means the cake will mature, or marinate in its juices. And in the last 16 years that I have been out of home ( I left home at 18 to stay in the medical college hostel, and then various hostels across the country , Goa and Madurai) but I have always received my Christmas cake , wrapped in silver foil and a red ribbon.
This year too, one of my mother’s patients who live in the UK, but come visiting their home in Goa every year, decided to fly down to Pune ,  to show their daughter to my Ma, who is a paediatrician in Pune. And Ma handed over my Christmas cake to her, to deliver it to me in Goa. Didn’t I tell you, this cake has travelled to places. Its travelled to Kolkata, and Dhanbad, and places overseas like Dubai, Mauritius , Canada, wherever her friends and family are.
The Christmas cake recipe, however , I have never tried making myself. It’s like Santa; we never told our parents, we knew they were Santa, because that would just take the magic out of it. If I start making my own cake, Ma might stop sending me hers, and part of the magic of Christmas is the gift of Giving, I don’t want to take that gift away from her!  However , I do make Christmas cake pops from ma’s Christmas cake.
 The cake, unlike the store bought Christmas cakes, is thrice as studded with dryfruits than an average cake. So as one goes to slice a piece, the knife invariably hits a candied orange, veers off track, then hits a walnut and then skids off another route, until you end up with a craggy piece of cake and lots of crumbly cake bits.
Now here is a short and simple recipe for Christmas cake pops.
Crumble Christmas cake, or gather all the crumbly bits together and make little balls of them, add a little condensed milk/honey to bind if needed.
Melt dark chcoclate, add a little butter for gloss, add cinnamon powder , nutmeg powder and ginger powder to the chocolate mix. And what I love to add is oil based orange essence, and a few candied oranges . the smells and flavours of Christmas cake should reflect in your chocolate coating. I melt my chocolate in the microwave, going 20 seconds bursts until melted, but you can do it over a double boiler.
Now drizzle the chocolate over the cake balls, or if you are feeling fairly dangerous, you can stick a lollypop stick in the cake pops and roll it in melted chocolate. But I warn you the christamas cake is more dense and heavy than an average cake pop, and you’ll only drop it in the melted chcoclate.
These cake pops would have been the revamped version of rum balls I presume. But funny thing, while we were allowed to have Christmas cake matured in rum , we weren’t allowed to have Rumballs as a kid!
Recipe also of candied Orange peel.
Peel oranges,sundry the peels for a few days. In a pan take ½ a cup water, bring to boil, add ½ cup sugar, add the diced dried orange peels. Simmer till sugar syrup evaporates. Keep in an airtight container.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

How to plan a beach picnic in Goa

It was our five year wedding anniversary , and living in Goa, i wanted to do something special .
while many opt for a destination wedding in Goa, living in Goa, meant we had a chance at a 'destination' ever afte beach picnic, is a great idea in Goa, especially given the fabulous weather from November to February. 
Given that I am a planner and list maker, planning a beach picnic, was not the mere task of packing a basket and headingout the door. 
here is my checklist of things to consider while planning a beach picnic.

first: I decided to check on how the world of instagram was planning their picnics, and so i did a quick hashtag search of #beachpicnic and #picniconthebeach. you can even pinterest your way around this one, or even google up some images. 

Second , decide which beach , both sandy and Rocky beaches work well , but choose one which is not over crowded. Beaches like Calangute and Baga can get super crowded, and you dont want a sea of gawkers, while ypou attempt a romantic-ish beach picnic. choose from Morjim and upwards, or Uttorda and betalbatim southwards.

Choose time of day, it depends on the tide. Choose a receding tide time, you don’t want to have waves wash away your picnic ! a quick word with the lifeguard or the shack owner at the beach will give you an idea if the tide is receeding or rising.
I prefer one hour before sunset. The golden hour prior to sunset is perfect for a high tea picnic. Also as the lights dim, you can place tea lights or candles in jars, or put torches into the sand for an extended picnic. but if you want an afternoon , mid day picnic, try and carry an umbrella, or pay a price and get one from the beach shacks, though they can be very huffy about it. buy a few drinks from them and they might agree. 

Get lots of towels and blankets, not just the one to lay down, but enough to wipe yourself after. The sand gets everywhere. 

Get lots of beach bags. No plastic bags please! They look ghastly! But you need bags for the food drinks, to keep beach ball n play things, n cutlery n food.Try wicker baskets, or large beach bags which you can fold around the edges to make baskets ( like i did).

The wind can make the beach mat fly, so find weights at each end. Think pineapples or coconut shells or beach rocks as weights. or even buckets filled with sand and a candle lit within it. try the battery operated candles, the wind cant blow those off.

Next is the food, think mini sandwiches, mini burgers, cookies, everything finger food. Nothing too fancy and needs cutlery. nothing which make your hand dirty either. i quite like the idea of keema biryani, or something else which tastes good even if not piping hot. 

bespoke, personalised desserts with our names on it, a cheese cake, a fruit tart and brownies, all with our nicknames. personalised luxury at Kenilworth Resort and Spa , Goa

Add a snack, main course and a dessert . Three courses add excitement . it can be a simple case of tea with biscuits, followed by a light sandwich, followed by donuts . the surprise element as different courses come out of the beach bags is great. i know some people like to barbeque atthe beach, but honestly, some beaches dont allow it, it can be difficult to put up, and the food takes longer to cook. 

Drinks, in Goa carrying alcohol is prohibited on the beach. Carry cans if you wish. A flask of tea is perfect and even canned juices in fancy glasses. Mix alcohol in the fruit juices and you won’t get in trouble with the beach guards. try mocktails and premixes, and colourful cocktails. bottles of wine however, might get you in trouble with the authorities. 

Entertainment : think Music, play it on your phone or a portable device. sand making buckets , or even a beach ball is fun. carry a book if you are having a picnic by yourself.

Last but not the least. Pick up everything when you leave! 
Hope you had fun reading this quick guide to packing a beach picnic. let me know if you have ever been on a beach picnic before. 

A huge round of thanks to the Food and beverage team and the housekeeping team at Kenilworth Goa.

We set up this beach picnic in Uttorda beach, the Kenilworth resort has multiple F an B options and one of them is the 24 hour coffee shop which can help you pack your own picnic lunches, which you can enjoy by their poolside, the second largest pool in Goa, which also haas a sunk in Bar. Some delicious surprises are planned for their christmas brunch as well as New Years eve dinner, so do go check those out as a grand celebration before the year ends.

Monday, October 29, 2018

10 best Food Souvenirs from Goa

Goa on my plate presents the 10 best food souvenirs to take back home from Goa.

Even before I made Goa my home, I was a student studying at the medical college here. That meant taking back food gifts from Goa everytime I went home. and even now , when friends and family visit Goa we love gifting foodie souvenirs to them, food souvenirs instantly transport you back to the place.

With Diwali round the corner, and a lot of travellers visiting Goa, what better way to celebrate than to Gift Food items from Goa? I have curated a list of sweet and savory treats from goa, which bring a slice of Goa to your plates back home.

Notice the Goa Mario Miranda Lampshade, the Mario Miranda Market scene painting on the wall? now bringing Goan flavour, not just to my home, but also Goa themed tee shirt and Goa on my plate cotton shopping bag! 

So what makes a great food souvenir? One that instantly reminds you of the place, so it should be unique to that place, second, it should be something you really enjoyed having on your trip to Goa, so don’t buy things just because they are unique if you don’t like the taste of them, and third, something that travels well and stays fresh for long journeys.

Keeping these in mind, I have made a list of food souvenirs, both common and uncommon, from Goa.
Goa food souvenirs to take back home .

1.       Cashews:
Storage (6 months or more, can refrigerate)
 literally everyone who comes to Goa must return with cashews. Cashews both salted and plain can be used in multiple dishes, the roasted variety stay fresh for many days. Its loved by kids to adults, it can be a nifty snack when you have delayed flights on your trip back from Goa, and pair really well with alcoholic drinks. Cashew shops and ‘cashew depots’ are multiple at all the busstops and touristy spots in Goa, so no dearth of the shops, also many of the other food souvenirs can be picked up there as well.

2.       Bebinca:
Storage (expiry mentioned on the box, can be refrigerated once opened)
This Layered baked dessert made of eggs, flour, jaggery and lots of ghee, is a favourite for tourists and locals alike. Each layer is cooked individually, and a minimum of 7 layers are present in a bebinca. Don’t eat it layer wise though! Slice a piece which has a little of each layer, to feel the different textures of bebinca. An interesting origin story of Bebinca is that it was invented by nuns in Portugal, where they used the egg whites to starch their uniforms and the egg yolks would go to waste. That’s when they came up with bebinca and pasteis de nata, desserts that use up the egg yolks ! serve bebinca with vanilla icecream, and sprinkle with the cashews you bought , and serve to guests back home. and everyone will be transported to Goa!

3.       Port wine:
Storage (can store over a year)
Port wine is not like regular wine. First off it doesn’t have a high alcohol content, infact many don’t even consider them to have any alcohol, its just fermented juice. Its pretty sweet so can be had by anyone , and is pretty cheap at Rs 100 a bottle mostly! What I love to use it in is for cooking though, add it in chicken curry and let it reduce and you have a fuller, richer fruity flavour. Add to any tomato based curry dish I would say, be it keema, or ragout, or mutton, or pasta sauce.

4.       Cafreal Masala:
Storage ( expiry mentioned, store in fridge once opened)
This one is one of the many typical Goan masalas one gets in the state. Cafreal was brought by the Portuguese, from their African colonies. It is green, herby, and is fragrant with spices. It pairs well with potatoes, paneer, chicken and fish and is one of the most versatile pastes. Just smear and bake or fry. It also works well with spinach soups, or spinach curries, and I make it all the time at home, to add oomph to my green Indian curries of coriander and mint.

5.       Feni:
Storage (stores upto a year)
This local liquor made of cashews is interesting, but again not for everyone, because it smells quite strong, and has a fairly high alcohol content. But, take a small souvenir size bottle back. It works well with lemon and fizzy drinks like limca. Also a nice marinade for meats.

6.       Chocolate cake from café central:
Storage ( stays good for a day or two of travel , finish soon)
Reason to add this on the list. First, its pretty famous and well loved amongst locals in goa. Second, its eggless ( for vegetarians), its nut free ( for nut allergies) and is moist and travels well. there have been times we have devoured the entire cake even before our flight took off from goa. Even now, we gift it to our friends and they love it!

7.       Chcocolate fudge cookies from cremaux :
Storage ( expiry mentioned, but stays good upto 10 days or more, can refrigerate, and microwave before consuming , but stays good in airtight container aswell)
There was a time when I thought these fudge chocolate deserved to be Goa’s number one food souvenir above cashews!! Infact this one is a must have , must take, must eat. For every chocoholic out there, you want to take back these for them.

8.chorizo sausage : Goan Pork sausages, that are chunky, packed with loads of spices, and are almost like a pickled version of regular sausages, because they don’t need refrigeration when packaged. They stay good for months, they taste great in a curry, in sausage pulao, I cook it with Jaggery and top it on donuts even! Very versatile, easy to carry back home, quintessentially Goan, makes this on the list of best goan foodie gifts.

9. Rainbow cookies from mog: This one was is for the instagrammers, also for the kids. These rainbow coloured cookies put one instantly in the happy holiday mood. Thay make for pretty pictures, they cost just 100 rs per pretty packaging, last for a month since baking, are a neutral vanilla butter flavour, and are available year round at the bake store in Margao. Have a neice obsessed with unicorns, or a gay couple friend holidaying in Goa? (Goa is the number one Indian destination for Gay couples BTW) get them these.

10. Fish: I know this one is a surprise, but even I was surprised at the number of people packing fish from Goa off to their homes. Reaason? Many Goans live in cities like Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, working outside the state. For them , nothing says home like fish. And contrary to belief, fish travels fairly well when frozen, and fresh fish doesn’t smell, also I know of a really good place that does individually frozen fish , so its not stuck to each other, and with the travel time so much reduced by air travel, cooked fish dishes, or fresh frozen fiah are extremely popular food souvenirs from Goa.

With this list, I have tried to bring the local Goan flavour, along with practicalities of gifting, like availability throughout the year, longish expiry, and clean hygienic packaging. Hope this helps. Here are a few more Goa centric Blog posts if you are travelling to Goa.

Diwali Narakasur celebration in Goa

spring Shigmotsav festival in Goa

cafes of Goa

Goa food walking tour

Goa foodie gifts . Hope you had fun reading this post. do share it with your friends and comment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A visit to Kumartuli during Durga Puja, a unique Kolkata experience

Kumartuli , the potters precinct in North Kolkata is where the Gods and Goddesses are created. We all know that Ma Durga comes from Mount Kailash, but it is here in the narrow lanes of Kumartuli, and at the hands of the potters whose last names are ‘pal’ is where she takes shape.
Images of half painted Ma Durgas and potters hands deftly carving out the Goddesses eyes , were images I had often seen and admired on social media as well as magazines. The potters at Kumartuli not only make the idols for the city of Kolkata , but also export the idols to durga Pujos around the world, from Australia to USA, and even to Dubai, almost every NRI Bengali pujo gets its Pujo Protima from Kumartuli.
come , join me on a walk through Kumartuli 

 But, the idols of Ma Durga and her children are made before Durga pujo, so is it still worth while visiting Kumartuli once Durga pujo has begun?

Yes, it is ! Read on to find out how we saw the creators, the craft and the creation , all at Kumartulli, this Durga Pujo.

A brief history of Kumartulli
After the british colonisation of Bengal and India, in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey , Holwell, under the oeders from Directors of the British East India Company, allotted separate districts to the company’s workmen.  Thus, suriparah – place of wine sellers, chuttarparah – place of carpenters, Coomartolly – place for potters. It is this Coomartolly that later became kumartuli or kumartulli.
Mostt of the artisans and workers from these districts dwindled or vanished with the rise of the Marwari settlements and the coming in of Burrabazar. Except for the potters. The potters, who up until then were making clay pots and pans using the clay from the river bed of Hooghly , took to making the idols of Gods and Goddesses for the neighbouring mansions around Kumartulii.
Kumartulli was home to a number of renoened homes during the Bengal renaissance, like Nandram Sen the first collector of Kolkata in 1700, and Gobindram Mitter who had a sprawling house spread over 16 acres.
These famous houses of Kolkata , along with several other ancestral homes, got their Pujo Protimas made by the artisans of Kumartuli, and then many community pujos also supported them, and today the artists and artisans of Kumartuli have a life long association with puja around the world.

the creation and the creator. different avatars of Shakti

Kumartuli is a photographers haven , these large green doors were calling to be photographed, and me in my pink n orange gamcha sari worn the traditional shadharon bengali style couldnt help being photographed.

half finished dieties at Kumartuli

Turn left here, to be transported to an ethereal land of calm amongst the chaos, the potters lane in Kumartuli during Durga Pujo

What you can expect to see at Kumartuli during Durga Pujo
While it is true that Kumartuli is most famous for the Pratimas and the pandals they create for Durga Pujo, they also make the protimas of Lakshmi for Lakshmi Puja which is celebrated in West Bengal 7 days after Saptami. And so you will see half finished idols of Lakshmi, or even completely dressed and decked idols of Lakhsmi depending on which day of Durga Pujo you visit Kumartuli.
We also saw the beginnings of the making of Ma Kali, for the Kali pujo which would be on the night of Diwali. The dynamic Ma Kali idol, complete with a garland of beheaded heads, and a hand dangling around her waist make for eyecatching visuals.
You can also see the artists and workers hard att work, or just catching a siesta . A peep into their world and you see the simple life they lead, among their creations, a two storey house being held up by a half finished idol, or the remnants of discarded pratimas, which didn’t make the cut to the standards of perfection these Kumars put their work to.
Apart from this , Kumartuli, as I said is home to some of the old world rich Bengalis, and just a walk down the many lanes of Kumartuli gives you a glimpse of the glory of yesteryears, the aristocratic charm of Kolkata is best seen here , as the homes are still well preserved . we didn’t have much time to explore because the place is teeming with people, but there are so many lanes and roads and narrow passage ways in this place that it is easy to lose yourself here.
The residents of Kumartulli make idols for the entire city, and for most of the pujos around the world, so you can imagine the idols that their own pujo pandals would have.
We visited two pujo pandals in Kumartulli and the art and ethos of both of them were mesmerising.

idols of Lakshmi, ready for Lokhi pujo, which falls on Sharad purnima, or kojagiri purnima. 

idols of Ma Kali, with her Garland of heads makes for dramatic visula at Kumartuli

Ma Durga on a Boat , one of the Pandal Protimas at Kumartuli

Large eyed South East Asian influences in this Ma Durga Protima at Kumartuli

How to get to Kumartuli
We went by our own car, but taking a taxi or Uber/Ola is the best way since parking is a hassle during the crowded days of pujo. Otherwise, buses and trains go to Kumartuli. The nearest railway station is the Sovabazar Metro. Sovabazar Launch Ghat (alongside the Ganges river) is also close by. Taking a walk to the riverbank is worthwhile, as you'll get to see old Gothic & Victorian style mansions. From there you can get a boat back to central Kolkata. You don’t need special passes to go there, but its best you respect the people who live and work there,so if they ask not to take pictures, don’t. the place was surprisingly clean when we went.
Kumartuli , a unique experience during Durga Pujo

A unique experience

The chaos and cacophony is an integral part of Durga Pujo in Kolkata, but once in Kumartuli, we took a left, and then a sharp right behind a house, and all of a sudden were trasnsported to an ethereal world; where Gods and their creations, idols and their creators lived. It’s quiet here, so quiet that some of the potters were sleeping. While in the pandals we were all jostling for space, here in the potters lanes of Kumartuli we were the only family. The feeling that this is where it all begins, the planning and creation of the idols, for Saraswati puja, for Lakshmi Puja, for Gurga puja and Kali puja, is truly an other worldly experience.

Just outside of the pujo pandal are food stalls selling everything a Bengali foodies heart desires . the foodietrails couldnt end a travel blog post without mentioning food :)

kolkata meetha paan ; must have the foodietrails recommends

phuchka , must have kolkata street food. the foodietrails recommends

cheene badam , peanuts dry roasted over sand. kolkata street food must have

mutton biryani, with a side of potato. kolkata street food must have

egg chicken roll, must have kolkata street food. the foodietrails recommends

chowmein and kochuri, must have street food in Kolkata. the foodietrails recommends.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

ghugni recipe #bloggersdurgapujo, a vegetarian Bengali recipe

Ghugni :a step by step pictorial recipe.

ghugni : Durga pujo staple at home

If there is one food I associate with Durga Pujo , other than pujor bhog ofcourse, it is Ghugni.

There are at least five good reasons why Ghugni should be on your menu; it a vegetarian dish, it is made from simple pantry staples like dried white peas, it is super tasty , it’s a great party snack in canapés, it is an authentic Bengali street food dish so you can boast to friends that you know a Bengali dish which doesn’t involve fish.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. I need to tell you why I love ghugni so much.

During Durga Pujo we binge on a lot of non veg. we love to eat out from the numerous stalls, and its an unending menu of kosha mangsho, chicken roll, chicken lollypop, chowmien, and prawn chops.

But, on Ashthami we fast.

And then after pushpanjali prayers, we eat fruits.

And then the rest of the day we eat vegetarian.

That’s the only part my dad has ever been strict about; no non veg on Ashthami. Now , given that the street stalls are all teeming with mouth watering delicacies. It made sense that we eat at home, before we ventured into Pandal hopping on Ashthami.

Thus, came the ghugni eating prior to setting out from home.

We would eat a bowl of ghugni chaat, before we set out for our evening pujo protima outings. For lunch we had bhog, which is always veg, and we were sorted, but for dinner… we always had ghugni.

And that was not the end of it.

On Vijaya Dashami, which is Dussehra in most parts of India, we have guests home after Visarjan. And that day we have lots of amazing food at home, which does include mutton and also an elaborate table of Bengali Mishti’s ranging from rosogulla, to kheer kadam. But we also have Ghugni. Why? Because it pairs really well with indian food, its vegetarian and we might have vegetarian friends over for food, and also because ghugni is an anytime snack. Someone comes home in the afternoon, or early evening, or late in the night, ghugni practically can be had anytime.

That’s not all!

we even had it for people visitingus for Diwali aswell . It has always been our fool proof 'guests dish' for vegetarian guests, and people who love non-veg, relish it too.

Ghugni is a popular street side food as well, and you can get it on your train journeys in the Bengal UP trains.

And that’s why I love it; street food, which is also travel food, which is also festive food, which is also ‘guests at home ‘food. How does one dish go from so many different occasions? How is it so well accepted from the hands of a street side vendor, as well, as from the hands of a homely  mum?

This is the wonder of this simple staple. How to make ghugni you ask ? 

Well, here is the recipe. 

Its pictorial , so just follow along

1.       Take dried white peas/ vatana and soak in water over night.

2.       Boil the overnight soaked peas with a little salt, and a little hing.

3.       Grate one onion, one tomato, and a teaspoon worth of garlic and ginger.

4.       Keep ½ teaspoon of turmeric , red chilli powder, jeera powder, coriander seed powder, garam masala powder. Ready.

5.       Now fry the onion in some oil first.

6.       Then add the ginger garlic paste.

7.       Then add the tomato, only once the onion and ginger garlic are cooked well.

8.       Add all the powder masalas, and cook the onion-tomato paste till it is dangerously deliciously dark.

9.       Then add the creamy boiled peas.

10.   Now add salt to taste

11.   Add pulp of tamarind (soak tamarinds in some hot water) use said water along with the tamarind pulp.

12.   Let cook on low heat, until most of the water evaporates.

13.   You can either serve it quite dry , or a little watery if you plan to have it with chapatti or rice. We generally have it without any accompaniment.
14.   Fry off some slivers of coconut in coconut oil. To add that textural crunch, and milt sweetness of coconuts.

Ghugni is spicy, salty, tangy, and creamy from the boiled peas, and crunchy from the fried coconuts and the toppings, and just served with chopped onion, or crunchy sev, and even pomegranates if you feel like, add roasted peanuts if you feeling like it, squeeze of lime if you don’t mind and extra tang, sprinkle chopped coriander and mint on top to make it look pretty and more herby.
don't hesitate to substitute dry mangoes for the tamarind, or chaat masala, or use pre soaked tinned peas, or coconut flakes instead of pieces, in short, play around, and make this recipe your own.

Ghugni is what will make all your vegetarian dinners a hit, you never again need to worry what to serve your vegetarian friends.

Ghugni : bengali vegetarian dish with white peas.

At home , I started making it for special occasions only. and then it escalated to us having ghugni every week. I am guessing you will be making this every week as well. it's that simple, fast and addictive. 

This year too, like last year, I am celebrating Durga pujo, not just with my family, but my blogging family aswell. Last year we were 4 bloggers participating, and this year we are 19 bloggers strong, sharing Pujo memories, nostalgia, pujo from around the country, fashion, food and everything in between.
Come join us by following the hashtag #bloggersdurgapujo on Fb, twitter, and instagram. and if you havent already to join my bengali language mini crash course by searching #bongtalk on facebook and instagram. :)

List of Participating Bloggers
Dr. Amrita Basu (Misra):
Anupriya Gupta: https:////www.mommytincture
Indrani Ghose:
Kapila Rattan Bhowmik:
Dr. Kuheli Bhattacharya:
Paromita Biswas:
Sayanti Mahapatra:
Shalini Magdel Das:
Shruti Dugar:
Sonia Chatterjee: