Mum's end to tiffin box tantrums......

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Awesome mangsho ghugni [ mutton n yellow peas curry]

Mouth watering mutton ghugni
Now I am sure this post will set many of my food lover friends salivating. Yes, ghugni or yellow peas is a very commonly used lentil in the Eastern and North Eastern India. I was tired with the normal process of cooking mutton and lentils, I thought why not combine the two do justice to the taste buds? It turned out to be awesome and a very palatable snack to be shared with friends. Goes well with chapatti for dinner. I am sure my food lover friends will definitely give it a try. This is not a very uncommon dish. I believes combinations with ghugni or yellow peas is quite common.

1. 1/2 cup of ghugni ( dried yellow peas ) soaked overnight,
2. 1/4 kgs . of mutton ( boneless only chunks),
3. 3 medium sized onions chopped,
4. 2 medium sized tomatoes chopped,
5. 1 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste,
6. 1 teaspoon of coriander powder,
7. 3/4 teaspoon of cumin powder,
8. 1 teaspoon of garam masala ( a blend of cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper ),
9. 1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder.
10. 1/3 cup of chopped coriander leaves,
11. 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder,
12. 1 teaspoon of salt,
13. 1-2 pcs. of bay leaf,
14. Oil for cooking
15. Lemon for decoration ( also for those who prefer )

1. The ghugni is to be soaked overnight and cooked in a pressure cooker.
2. Cook the mutton pieces inside a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric powder. After repeated whistles remove; the mutton should be tender and soft.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan and add bay leaf, ginger garlic paste to it.
4. Add the onion and tomatoes, cook till it becomes softened.
5. Add the boiled ghugni ( yellow peas) to it and then cook.
6. Add spices to it- turmeric, red chili, cumin, coriander  to it.  Stir well till the spices blend and it emits the characteristic smell.
7. Boiled mutton should be cooked and then added to the ghugni.
8. Top with chopped coriander leaves and lemon. You may add lemon juice for tantalizing taste.

Enjoy this with your friends, let the remember the evening with tea and mutton ghugni!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Amboselli- a plethora of natural beauty

African continent is a place of immense resources; starting from mineral reserve, floriculture and ending in tourism industry, Africa is the most happening place in the world presently. I stay in Kenya since the last five years and I am a voracious traveller. Whenever I chance upon a holiday, I pack my bags and set off for the next adventure. This time my target was Amboselli, a national reserve which is a 4 hour drive from Nairobi. Situated at 230 km south of Nairobi, a reserve forest 8,000 sq. kms. , bordering Tanzania – Amboselli had attracted huge number of foreign and domestic tourists every year. But a trip to the place had actually revealed the beauty and the ambience- a reason why travellers call it the ‘homeland of the wild animals’.

Mt. Kilimanjaro- the highest peak is Africa attracts thousands of tourists for it's magnificiency

I started early in the morning so that I could actually reach the place before lunch hours. Amboselli offers a wide range of hotels suiting your budget. Starting from lavish 5 star hotels and ending in tented camps – you may choose any accommodation depending on your affordability and comfort. The rates of hotel and other accommodation are highly seasonal.  A non -resident is charged 90 $ per night while a resident is charged 1200 KSH. Charges for children and students are lower. The car parking charges are generally done in US dollars or Safari card.

The entrance to Amboselli National Park

The entry into the hotel was a ‘great feel’. The rustic décor and arrangement will give you a real ‘wild life ‘ambience. Generally hotels have electric fencing thereby allowing you a full view of the jungle and your eyes will follow miles before you see herbivores grazing near the hotel area. This is an enthralling experience.

After having an awesome lunch we proceeded towards our first game drive at 4 in afternoon. The first view that enthralled was the mighty Kilimanjaro. I had goose bumps viewing the highest peak. It was like viewing the rooftop of Africa. We climbed a small hill from where we had the best view of the highest peak. With buffalo skulls all around as a part of the décor, we had a feel that this must be a challenging place. We came down to board the car while other travellers preferred to have their tea and snacks at the hill top.

Herbivores seen at the Amboselli
We saw various herbivores- impala, giraffe, hippos, wildebeest, zebra and elephant. The number of elephants in Amboselli is quite plenty. There is an elephant research centre which conducts various researches on elephants and emphasize towards a better future of the beautiful animals.

Birds of various types 

Amboselli is said to be the shelter of 400 species of birds. We were not so lucky to see all the types. Our eyes caught – Africa sacred Ibise, Ostrich, Ardea and White pelican.  Various migratory birds too are seen seasonally. We observed a scintillating view of the sunset and recorded every moment of it. Nowhere in the world can a sunset be so beautiful and serene. The chirping of birds and returning of animals were clearly observed.

The best sunset ever

It’s mandatory to reach hotel and camps by 6:30 evening. We had a nice time in the hotel and slept comfortably. Early next morning I was enthralled to see the full view of Kilimanjaro from the hotel.  Mount Kili is seen best during the morning hours and evening hours before sunset.

Swampy lands are a favorite shelter of Amboselli animals


When we were set for the game drive for the next day we were lucky to see a group of lions who were finishing off a zebra, the lioness killed for the family. We stopped and took photographs as the lions nibbled through the meat.  Lions happen to be a lazy animal and feed on zebra, wildebeest. The habit and habitat of the animals were explained to us by the guide.  We were lucky to see a python.
We drove elsewhere where our eyes caught the sight of wild boar, hyena and buffalo. We were not lucky to view a cheetah. A cheetah is said to be a very active animal and runs after gazelle for prey. We saw hyenas and vultures waiting to finish off the rest of the meat after the lion family.  Lions are generally social animals and prefer to stay in groups. The kids are cared by the lioness and she hunts prey for the family. The male lion prefers to get the first share of the meat followed by the lioness and the cubs.
The carnivores stay  in groups and share their prey

The masais are an inevitable part and a good attraction to the tourists. They will invite the guests and give a glimpse of their culture. Various artifacts and souveneirs sold by them can  be a good gift item to a person you love.

The flora in Amboselli is savannah grassland type which consists of rolling grassland and swampy marshy lands. Amboselli was established in 1968 and was gazetted as a National reserve in 1974 by the Kenyan Government.

Amboselli which means ‘salty dust’ is the remains of the volcanic ash that resulted 360,000 years before when the Mount Kilimanjaro erupted last. If you are fond of bird watching, camping, , wildlife viewing, photo graphing or watching the mighty Kilimanjaro  then Amboselli will be the most desired place of your choice.

I will simply not forget the serene flora, enchanting animals and lastly the majestic view of Mount Kilimanjaro. The awesome hospitality is not to be forgotten. Kenya is loved for a number of reasons and tourism will always remain a priority.


Friday, 16 January 2015

The Paperback is finally in ....................

Dear Friends and Readers,
 I heartily thank you for the support provided by you towards my work ‘Magical Tiffin box’. In fact the e version was released last year and after an overwhelming response, the publisher has decided to bring the paperback version.

The paperback version is available in Amazon exclusive; you may book and get ordered.  Please follow the link.

In fact several Institutions and hospitals have come forward and booked a copy of ‘Magical Tiffin box’ for the sake of their customers and readers.

There have been some amazing remarks from the readers of the book on websites that sold copies.
“The book has huge number of easy but new recipes. Especially when my wife is away for a few days on her business trip it becomes easy for me to prepare and enjoy meals…………..My wife has also tried a few items...they are delicious and palatable.”
S           - Sanjib Debray,  Flipkart customer,  New Delhi
“ ……………………The beauty of her book is , the recipes are modern and panoramic……………….”
-                                          Sudipto Chakraborty, Flipkart customer , Ranchi
-          “…………………….. the book is really a magic, recommended for everyone…………………………it’s really an excellent creation by the author”
                   Tanmay Ray, Flipkart customer, Mumbai

The response across the nation and also globe is truly inspiring. Please book your copy in case you have not booked the paperback version till date.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The quick schezwan chicken- a difference in taste!

Yummy schezwan chicken- a difference to normal dining!

Long time I had thought of  preparing something which is easy, quick and a yummy deal. Chicken being the most widely available source, I thought let’s do something different with chicken. Off to my ‘laboratory’ (kitchen of course) and my plethora of ingredients, I started an experiment and that was a grand success. Especially if you are trying with chowmein, this will be a great recipe to try with. Quick and easy this recipe will be liked by many, my food lover friends, I guess. A total of 25 minutes in the kitchen, it’s a real good dish that can be tried with a ‘main course’ of your choice.

1. 750 gms. of boneless chicken,
2. 2 tablespoons of dark soya sauce,
3. 1 teaspoon of salt,
4. ¾ teaspoon of black pepper blend,
5. 1 ½  tablespoons of hot n sweet sauce( tomato n chilli),
6. 1 ½  tablespoons of green chilli sauce,
7. 2 tablespoons of schezwan sauce,
8. 1 teaspoon of vinegar,
9. ½ medium sized garlic minced,
10. Butter or white oil for frying,
11. 2 tablespoons of coconut milk,
12. Lemon grass for garnishing,
13. 1 big sized bell pepper ( capsicum)chopped,
14. 1 cup of spring onions chopped,
15. ½ cup of tomatoes chopped.

The procedure is illustrated in steps.      

 Step 1:  Marinate the chicken with salt, vinegar and dark soya sauce for 10 minutes. Heat oil in a frying pan and start frying the chicken. Add minced garlic to it.
Frying the chicken.

Step 2: Add the veggies- capsicum, spring onion and tomato to it. Cook for some time till the veggies becomes soft.

Adding the veggies to it.

Step 3: Add tomato chilli sauce, vinegar , soya sauce and salt to it. Cook for about 10 minutes till the veggies become soft.


 Step 4: Add coconut milk. Stir till it attains the consistency.

Remove and serve it with chinese fried rice or chowmein. Make a difference to a normal dinner with a bit of innovation. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

Pork chops n apple sauce- try the difference of a 'paleo' meal!

Awesome combination of pork chops in apple sauce and snapped beans

This weekend I found some excellent collection at the supermarket. It was a packet of pork meat,spare- rib portion. I was going through a cookery programme in the television while an idea came to my head. Why not try a pure 100% paleo dinner. And I decided that there should be no traces of gluten in my plate. I tried and it became a success. Let me share for all my health conscious friends.
  1. 400 gms. of pork meat- spare ribs ,
  2. Lime juice extracted ( 4 tablespoons),
  3. Olive oil ( 2 tablespoons),
  4. Black  pepper ( ½ teaspoon),
  5. Sea salt ( ½ teaspoon),
  6. Garlic paste ( ½ teaspoon),
  7. Rosemary leaves dried ( 3/4th teaspoon),
  8. Apple ( 2 medium sizes de skinned and chopped into smaller pieces),
  9. Honey ( 2 tablespoons),
  10. Yoghurt (1 teaspoon).
  1. Take the meat and separate the ribs. Marinate with olive oil, black pepper, sea salt and lemon juice extract.
  2. Keep in marinated condition for 15 minutes.
  3. You may take the green beans snapped on both sides. Trim them to equal sizes.  Rub black pepper, lemon juice extract and sea salt over it.
  4. Now it’s time to prepare the apple sauce. It can be prepared in a very simple manner. In a microwave proof bowel keep the apples, honey and 1 table spoon lime juice extract. Cook for 10 minutes. When the apples soften and the juices come out then allow to cool down. Add 1 teaspoon yoghurt and mix evenly for the consistency. You may use a hand blender for the even texture.
  5. Pre heat your oven at 400 degree Fahrenheit. Lay the marinated meat pieces over the grid and cook in grill mode for 30 minutes. You may change the sides when you observe one side to change colour.
When it’s ready serve the lamb chops accompanied with green beans. Enjoy the meat with apple sauce. This dish is truly awesome and mouth watering.

Friday, 3 January 2014

6 Ballygunge Place: Nothing compared to a mouth watering Bengali meal !

Branding that attracts you
I am a foodie and a cook. But what I like most is enjoying Bengali cuisine cooked in traditional style. Last time when I went to my hometown Kolkata, I discovered a new outlet of the famous restaurant ’ 6 Ballygunge Place’ which has got various outlets in Kolkata and even in other metro cities. I was aware of the quality of food and style of dining as I heard a lot about it from my friends, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to experience traditional Bengali style dining. It’s situated at the heart of Behala, very near to the D.H.Road. Situated on a second floor of a shopping mall, it’s an attractive entrance with mind boggling displays near the main door.
The trendy outlook
The first glance: The very appearance of the restaurant is quite trendy. We saw dining tables with the capacity of 4. Cute stainless steel crokeries were displayed with a wall decor of Old Kolkata paintings. The sepia based paintings and white wall paint decor gave a nice feel. The waiters were quite hospitable and offered hot towels and a menu card. The feel of the menu card was like that of a wedding reception. The waiters used stainless steel bowls and spoons to serve food. The table decor was awesome. I was amazed to see poems encrypted on the table mats. A good ‘eye catcher’ and time pass for a customer.

The attractive table decor

The service: The service is truly good. We were offered traditional Bengali menu. The waiters very much hospitable and were focussed to serve their best. We were given a choice of vegetarian and non –vegetarian plate. Non vegetarian had two choice- fish plate and mutton plate. Both ended up in mango chutney and sweet dish. Separate menu card was offered for kids under the age of 12.The table and the inside decor made us feel comfortable. It was an air conditioned dining room with a capacity of 50 persons. The waiters constantly monitored the plates and offered unlimited food. Fish, luchi and sweet dish was not unlimited though.
Mouth watering 'never ending'variety
Food: It’s an awesome place to enjoy traditional Bengali food at a reasonable rate. Were were offered- luchi, basmati rice, shredded potato fries called jhuri aloo bhaja, palak saag, shukto, alu dum sabji and mung dal. We were offered 4 luchis per plate. This is the menu for a simple vegetarian meal which costs 250INR denoted as the starting range. A fish mutton meal will have a plate of additional two medium sized mutton pieces. A fish plate will have an additional two pieces of medium sized prawns cooked in coconut sauce. The food was tasty and was cooked in the minimum possible oil. It was an enjoyable meal. We were offered mango chutney and mishit doi at last. The mishti doi was given in country pot or bhar. The chingri malaaikari was awesome and so was the mishit doi. The floor price of the plates was 250 INR and the ceiling price was 550INR. It is a great meal at a reasonable cost.
The Happy ending

Verdict: Anybody fond of traditional Bengali food is advised to come here and try the awesome chingri malaaikari dish. Mishti Doi is mouth watering; it’s denoted as the culture food of Bengal. During festivals like Durga puja, Poila Baisakh and  weekends are always filled to hundred percent capacity. Kolkattans like to enjoy mouth watering traditional food at restaurants rather than cooking at home. At least the present working couple generation likes to enjoy world class food at a comfortable restaurant. So, if you have guests at home who’s visiting Kolkata for the first time never miss the chance of bringing him to 6 Ballygunge place , the brand name being ‘ Chakum Chukum

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Serengeti National Park- the ultimate of wild life experience!

I have heard many a times about Serengeti National Park. This year I made up my mind that I will experience the ultimate of wildest adventures and observe the wild beauties from a close distance. From Arusha it took me six hours by road to reach the Serengeti plains via the Ngorongoro conservation area. It was an exciting experience. Rated by UNESCO as one of the best wild life conservation areas of the world it was a protected since 1942. We learnt that it was a vast area of 15,000 square kilometres dominated by wild herbivores and carnivores.

Various moments of a cheetah captured

 The first and foremost sight that caught my eyes was a cheetah family sitting on a rock. It appeared like a royal personality watching its prey from the watch tower. We came near and photographed. The guide told that the visitors need to be careful and should not come near 50 feet distance as it is a punishable offence.   We photographed it's moves from a distance inside the jeep.

Uncomparable hospitality

We landed up in a hotel in the jungle area. Amazingly these hotels have got all the amenities that a human need in his life. Most important was that you could see wild beauties like giraffe and impala grazing near the fence and hear the howling of hyena at night. That was a thrilling experience. The visitors opt for – game drive and balloon safari. The hotels give the detailed information and necessary arrangement. Adventure experts even prefer to go for walking safari and a photographic tour.  


The wild grass eaters

 The next morning after having a wholesome breakfast proceeded on our way where our eyes caught a family of giraffes. These beauties crossed our vehicle and allowed us to photograph. Other creatures like impala, elephant and buffalo were available on the way. The road was a rough one and the open roof jeeps were suitable for viewing the animals. We were given a binocular which allowed us to see the creatures from quite a long distance. The buffaloes were strong creatures and I was amazingly watching them covered in mud. The reason was told as they want to get rid of the parasites on their body my mud arresting them and finally rubbing against some trees.


The King Lion


The Lion family

At about 11 am we came across a family of lions which was the most memorable experience of my life. There was about a group of 15 lion and lionesses resting against a marshy land. We photographed the king lion and the lioness too. The cubs were busy mudding each other.  With great vigour and pride the ' Lion king ' stared at us with welcoming eyes and allowed us to get his rare photographs and video clippage.

Climbing Lion - a rare view

We approached a bit further and saw another wonder. It was a lioness sitting on a branch of tree. Almost ten visitor vehicle gathered on the place and photographed this rare moment. We were told that climbing lions are seen in Lake Manyara but we were truly luck to see that in Serengeti.


The leopard moves recorded

Approaching a bit further our eyes caught of a bright black and white stripe hiding in the bushes. Carefully observing with a binocular we found that it was a leopard. We recorded every step of it and as it approached near the tourist vehicles, carefully crossed the road and reached at the bottom of a tree where it was in the mood to rest.


The Serengeti information centre and picnic site

The game drive has got beautiful picnic sites where you can park your car, relax and have your lunch packed by the hotel. The Serengeti information centre has a decent place to sit and enjoy lunch. The guides at the information centre will impart knowledge on the types of flora and fauna found in the area. Skeletons of various animals were found at the information centre. I was nice to watch the jungle and map and see where you are standing along with the vivid flora and fauna description.


Eye soothing savannah grassland

Our eyes were accustomed to see the various flora in the plains. It was nice watching the savannah grassland vegetation. 


Migration of the wildebeest

The next day early in the morning we saw the wildebeests in a line which was denoted as the ‘line of migration’.  These herbivores form a line and follow each other blindly in search if the soft green grass. They were migrating from the Masai mara conservation area. Animals unknowingly cross the geographical border in search of grass. It’s a wonderful phenomenon. 

Serengeti- a home to the wild beauties!
With over 70 larger mammal and 500 avifauna species available, Serengeti boasts to be one of the greatest game reserves in this planet. I will say that it’s a scintillating experience watching this wild population, understanding their nature and life. The hospitality is incomparable, the management is efficient and facilitates tourist to have a pleasant ride.

My utmost request to any poacher reading this article is ‘Live and let live’ and say ‘no poaching’ and conserve the rarest of the wild beauties to restore the ecological balance of the world.