Yesterday was the Bengali New Year… “Poila Baishak”, that is, first day of the month “Boishak”. Of course India being a multi cultural, multilingual land we could not suffice with just a financial year and a calendar year, we had to have a separate Bengali calendar year (and there are separate regional calendars !!) which begins in mid april, Baishakh being the first month. There are separate names for all the months. The first day of the new year, like every other occasion, is celebrated with good food, new clothes, cultural events and paying respect to elders and sharing greetings by calling up friends and families. This day is also celebrated in other parts of India with different names and associated history. For further info on this you might have to refer to Wiki.
In West Bengal Poila Boishakh is also associated with “Haal Khata”, a festival celebrated mainly by shopkeepers and is marked by closing of the old ledgers, settling old debts and opening a new ledger. Jewellery shops would give you steep discounts on making charges of gold ornaments. Boxes of sweets and snacks would be distributed as a token of goodwill between the trader and the customers.
This year ours was a quiet affair, involving weekend house cleaning and chores, sharing greetings with friends and family – not on WhatsApp or facebook but actually calling them up and chatting with them. That took most of the morning. My MIL cooked us a “Doi Mach” for lunch, to keep it simple and to prep our digestive system for the upcoming dinner invite to one of our cousin’s place. No Bengali occasion is ever complete without sweets and non veg so we had plenty of that and concluded the night with small doses of ‘Unienzyme’ and ‘Gelusil’.
Hangover from last night resulted in a no breakfast mode for us and a simple lunch. Thanks to my MIL I did not have to bother much about food and got time to write a post for you all.
Todays post is a Microwave recipe for besan laddoo that was pending since I last made them during Dusshera 2014. These laddoos were one of the biggest (food related) projects done till date :-). That year, while living in New Britain, CT, I got associated with the Bengali community of Stamford, CT and being one of the volunteers I had agreed to make some 200 laddoos, ultimately making 250 so that I could share the extras with my friends and keep some for myself too. Since it was supposed to be for the Durga Puja I was not comfortable using my regular utensils and hence decided to do it in Microwave. I made it in small batches and it took me 3-4 days to complete them. Since these laddoos store well if kept in an airtight container, time was not a bother and I had plenty to spare then. I would make 3-4 batches of the laddoo mixture in the microwave and keep them aside to cool. As time permitted I would form them into balls while watching a movie, or listening to music or just thinking and contemplating on life. Many of my friends would wonder at the effort I was putting in but honestly it was fun to do. By the second day I actually had a rhythm going on and on completion was amazed myself at the achievement.
I had clicked some good pics out of it and should have posted this long time back. Better late than never. I found this microwave recipe much easier than the traditional style of roasting the besan on flame.
- Ladoo Besan/Coarse chickpea flour – 3 cups. You can also use the regular besan or chickpea flour as well. The only difference will be in the texture.
- Ghee – 1 1/4 cup approx. Adjust accordingly.
- Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
- Sugar (fine or powdered) – 1 cup to 1.25 cups or to taste
- Chopped nuts of your preference – optional, you can add them into the ladoo mixture before forming the balls or you may garnish the ladoos on top with chopped nuts. I did not use any.
- Take a microwave safe bowl and add ghee to it. No need to cover it.
- Microwave it on high for 1 min.
- Add the sifted ladoo besan and mix it well with a spatula or a big spoon so that there are no lumps.
- Microwave it on high (uncovered) as follows:
- 2 mins, then take out and mix everything well.
- 1 min, again take out and mix well
- 1 min, take out add 1 tsp of water to it and mix everything well. This step is supposed to add on to the grainy texture of the ladoos.
- 1 min, take out and mix well.
- 1 min, take out and mix well.
- 30 sec, take out and mix well. Besan should have a light brownish (or deep golden) color due to the roasting. If making in large quantities and feel the besan has not been roasted well enough, you might have to add another minute of half.
- Keep aside to let it cool a little bit.
- Once the roasted besan has cooled off a little bit, add sugar, cardamom powder. Add sugar gradually, do a taste test in case you need to adjust the quantity according to your preference. Mix everything well and keep aside for it to cool even further.
- Once cool to touch, grease your hands with a little bit of ghee, scoop out a small portion of the mixture and try to form a ball out of it. If it is crumbles and cannot hold the structure then add some more ghee and try making ladoos again.
- Once done store them in airtight containers and they will store well for quite some time.
I was thinking a lot about you for the past few days… something that I have fleetingly done over the last two and half years. And yet I could not gather the courage to face you. Not because I did not want to, but because confronting you would mean committing to you, for good and for worse. And I was not sure of that yet. I would have to steal moments here and there… moments that might be rare but would be my very own, just like before. I would have to lie awake late at nights, dark, lit by the light from my computer screen just to be with you. And yet here you are right infront of me, a teeny-weeny but important part of my life that I can no longer ignore. A part that always brought me happiness and content. And as I turned towards you, I realized it was our anniversary too… our seven years anniversary. Strange how time passes by, it feels just like yesterday that we got started. I have not done as much as I would have liked to and that may not change. But I am ready, ready to give you all that I can. I have realized that to get started again there may never be a good time like now. And now is all that matters…
So let me begin by telling you that a lot has happened while you were away… I have changed houses, moved places, different country, new faces, new language, climate, food but most important of all – a lil new person of my own. Ok, not new anymore , he is already a year and half old, keeps me on my toes, running and sprinting after him. Life is full of smiles and laughter and funny faces; Life has a whole new set of worries, anxieties and pressures. I can talk about it the whole day and it would not be enough. But that’s not why I am here. Lets talk about us and why I am here…”
My first post after this long a gap (already feeling refreshed and good to be back) is a nice and cool drink to combat this hot weather and get some good vitamins into your system. A fruit milkshake – I used chilled ripe papaya and some cold milk with a dash of vanilla and some ice cubes. You can also add some chunks of banana to give it a creamier texture but I skipped that. All you need is a blender and you will be all set. Use any fruit of your liking, just browse on the internet what combinations of fruits work best and you can come up with so many healthy variations.
Ingredients: All proportions are as per liking.
- Papaya – cooled and cubed – 1 cup + some chopped pieces for garnishing
- Cold Milk – 1 cup
- Ice cubes – 2-3 (optional)
- A dash of vanilla
- Sugar or Honey – to taste (Optional, depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
- Take all the ingredients (except ice) in a blender and blend nicely till pureed nicely.
- Add the ice cubes and blend once again.
- Serve immediately and garnish with some chopped fruit pieces.
Perfect to relax and beat the heat !