SPONGY AND SOFT COTTON LIKE BALLS – THE YUMMY ROSHOGOLLAS

From when I was a teenage girl, I had a keen interest in roshogollas. I am not a Bengali or had Bengali friends, then how do I know about roshogollas? The sweet shops in our hometown had a special section for Bengali sweets. Not all the sweet shops but the famous ones did. I believe most of the Bengali sweets are made from milk. Amongst those sweets, there was a large white ball floating in sugar syrup. It is interesting and intriguing at the same time. I have seen something similar, but a brown ball, yeah,, the Gulab Jamun. I inquired the shopkeeper for the price one day, and I realized I cannot afford to buy one. In our home we don’t buy or order sweets from outside, so I cannot ask my parents to buy it for me. That was a deadlock. I wonder how many times I would have stopped by the sweet shop only to see those roshogollas.

I love the spongy Bengali Rosogolla, though Oriya people also have their own version of it. There is quite a bit of technique and science involved in making those airy sponge balls that swell up in sugar syrup like balls of cotton. There is a certain amount of joy to squeeze some of the sugar syrup out, holding with two fingers and simultaneously checking out the sponginess of each Rosogolla before popping them into the mouth! These days, foodies have come up with hundreds of different flavors of Rosogolla made of fruit and vegetable flavors, and I learned that some of the flavors are mind-blowing. They also lose their quintessential white color when mixed with other flavors. However, nothing can beat the classic Rosogolla. For Bengalis, it is pure happiness.

As I grew up and started working, I could have lunch at the office. Typical south or north Indian thali it was for me until one day I saw roshogolla being served as sweet in one of those thalis. My mouth was salivating at the glance of that bowl of sweet in the display, and I couldn’t wait to keep it in my mouth. Ah, my first roshogolla tasting. It was yummy!!! I had roshogollas many times only in the office. Another time I saw a roshogolla that was too big, of almost 10 cms in diameter during pujo, and I wondered how they would have made it. I came home and started browsing for videos of roshogolla making. You see, that is called craving. I wanted to try making roshogollas. Made them, fed some others with my experiments. The process is a little tricky is what I thought at first, but I am a reasonably good cook with few failures. All you need are only three ingredients to make roshogollas and one flavoring agent. Traditionally cardamom is used as a flavoring, but you may choose to use any other artificial flavoring. I don’t use any flavoring, as I love the flavor of milk itself. 

Ingredients:

Milk – 2L (Cow or buffalo milk. I tried using both, and they were fine)

Vinegar – 2-3 tsp as needed 

Sugar – 4 cups

There are two essential parts of making roshogollas. Making the chenna balls and boiling them in sugar syrup.

Making the chenna balls:

  1. To make the chenna, boil the milk. Once the milk comes to a boil, simmer the flame and add vinegar little by little (Note: you can use lemon juice or citric acid as well) Keep stirring with ladle slowly. The milk starts to curdle. After 5 mins, you can remove the vessel off the flame and strain the liquid using a muslin cloth. 
  2. Add cold water to the milk solids. These milk solids are called chenna. Wash the chenna 3 -4 times under running tap water, tie the muslin cloth, and hang the chenna for 3 hours. After three hours, you would notice that the water in the chenna is drained, but it would still be moist.
  3. Take the chenna in a smooth plate to start kneading. Use the palm of your hand for kneading. Do not mix it like a dough. Remember, you should do this step at least for 10 mins. By the end of 10 mins, the chenna would become smooth to form a like a dough.  (Tip: Some people also add 2 -3 spoons of maida(refined flour) while kneading the chenna, this helps the roshogollas to maintain their shape. This makes life easy if you are doubtful of roshogollas holding their shape. I never used maida, but mine turned out just fine)
  4. Make small rounds of this dough. The balls are going to enlarge more than double their size once you cook them in sugar syrup. So, considering this keep the size appropriate. 

Boiling in sugar syrup:

I normally use a 1:6 ratio of sugar and water. I am not a sweet tooth person, but if you love sweets, you can go up to 1:3. 

  1. Add the sugar and water to a container. Ensure the container has enough space for the balls to swell and move around easily. Bring the sugar and water mixture to a boil and reduce the flame to medium. 
  2. Remove the scum, if any, from the surface of the syrup. (If you are using flavoring, add it now to the syrup)
  3. Gently add the chenna balls to the sugary syrup. Keep it on a high flame for the first 15 min. Then lower the flame to medium for the next 25 min.
  4. Cover with a lid (preferably a glass one so you could see). Note: Lid must be on all the time except for when adding water as in the next step
  5. Once in awhile sprinkle some water and roll the roshogollas with a ladle. Remember to be quick but gentle not to break the balls. Roshogollas don’t like change in temperature, so if you keep the lid off a long time, there is a higher chance for them not to have proper texture. Do this 3 -4 times in the whole course.
  6. After  40 mins on a medium flame, you would notice that the roshogollas double in their size.

The roshogollas are ready!!! After they cool down, you can enjoy them. I bet you cannot stop at one 😀 

I have made them 4-5 times till now and always in 2-liter batches, which produce around 40 roshogollas. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. A couple of Bengalis tasted my roshogollas and found them to be similar to the ones they make back home. I recently tasted the authentic roshogolla made in Bengal, the last December I think, and yes, mine are really very close. I hope you also enjoy making these delicious spongy balls at home. 

 

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COOKING IS MY LEGACY

I was always a foodie, even now and will be forever.

So food was not something I stayed away from. I loved being in the kitchen, be it for cooking or for eating. I always enjoyed making things, even if it might not be perfect. I enjoyed watching my mom cook. My love for cooking comes from the way my mom cooked and served everyone, I believe.  I have always seen her making everything we all loved eating and even if she never gets a bite to eat, she served everyone, enough to fill their tummies and even their heart.

The ease with which she met our demands, was tremendous, in spite of being a working mom. Even when I was mocked for being fat, my mom was never reluctant to cook and make me eat. Every time any guest came to our house, our dining table was filled with dishes. She was never tired of trying new styles, which is why I and my brother were extreme foodies.

When I was a kid, I used to dream about food always. One of the ads which were my favorite was one of those oil advertisements.

Being foodies is not a crime. 😛

I would say, that was the only reason, I never enjoyed my hostel food as such.

In the first half of my life, I would say I spent eating rather than cooking. The rest a few years went into helping my mom and even making dosa for my brother, who was too small to cook. I remember even making, sandwiches, sausages, etc. for everyone when I was in my 6th or 7nth standard. Whenever my mom was unwell, I tried my best to cook. I always felt it was magical to make all those continuous circles on dosa, making it look so adorable.

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The early morning black tea was something, I enjoyed making. The wonderful aroma of it, kick starts my day.

Ever since I got married (when I was 20+), I began all my experiments with cooking. With multiple failures, I enjoyed cooking on my own, serving my guests, my colleagues and even my family who comes to visit us. Their encouraging words were boosting my skills too.

My greatest critic is my husband though. He ensured I was informed well, that I cooked disastrous and when nice, he kept silent, but I could observe it from the way he had food.

Again being mom, changes all your tastes, rather than eating, you prefer feeding everyone. Many even thought that me being a foodie, would never share anything from my plate but little did they realize that now after being mom, I have changed.

I would try cooking, baking, grilling and much more just for my kids. As a mom, I would want to feed them the very healthy food. So I included all kinds of foods on my daily menu. Cutlets, soups, noodles, all kinds of parathas, paneer (being my daughter’s favorite) and much more.

Cooking is much more fun when you just don’t all the ingredients but a pinch of love to it. And I realized you need not be a good cook always, but someone who loves to share a piece of what they have always. The added flavor of my cooking -is love, which made everyone happy and filled.

And I still continue my legacy, that I  carry from my mom. And she is still my mentor who is teaching me much more.

The joy of cooking comes from the joy expressed while serving it with the one who is in need of food. — SoulRecitals

CONFESSIONS OF AN ULTIMATE FOODIE

Have you seen people whose biggest weakness is Food? People who love to eat it all and cannot stop thinking about yummy food. People who eat when they are happy, stressed, upset or angry. People who find an excuse to eat something fancy every Monday because you know otherwise Monday’s are boring, every Wednesday because it is the mid of the week, every Friday because they want to celebrate and Saturday, Sunday because who eats at home on a weekend !!!

Well, if you don’t know any such person then you must meet ME. I am exactly that kind of person who loves to eat. Eats for every occasion and at every occasion. Food is well, meant for survival right? So, we are supposed to eat to stay alive. So, why not make most of it!

As for cooking – I don’t excel at that. Probably because I lose interest in eating when I am so busy cooking it. Be it burgers, pizzas, paneer tikka, subs, pastas – I love it all. Eating good food makes me happy and content. I really overdo at times which is a biggest challenge for me.

During my engineering, when I was staying in a hostel – I was known for liking the food of the mess as well which nobody else liked. Quite often when other girls used to make faces looking at the food, my reaction to the food used to be “Wow, aaj bhindi bani hai! (Wow, today is Ladies Finger)!” Other girls were always very surprised at my reaction. It is not that I used to find the food really yummy, it is just that I like the idea of eating. I have never been very particular about what taste I like or I don’t like. I like almost everything that is vegetarian and is edible.

A person like me has his/her own challenges. Weight gain is an obvious one and with that comes a lot of other complications. I am really bad at controlling my cravings. I have hired dieticians to help me with this and eventually I end up lying to her every now and then (because I want to eat junk and I know she would scold me for it), yet I am ready to pay her a hefty amount month after month as her fees. Sometimes, I really feel like a loser!

Every year I keep the fast of Karwachauth which is apparently the toughest fast in Hindu tradition. It is supposed to be for a long life of my husband. But frankly, I keep Karwachauth for myself (it really has nothing to do with my hubby). It becomes a test of my determination and self-control. To stay more than 15 hours without a drop of water or bite of food is not easy. And I do it year after year because I really want to prove it to myself that I CAN! But it is just a day in the whole year and this kind of fasting isn’t healthy.

I have struggled with dieting since ever. I do not understand how people resist that piece of chocolate or burger or fries. I have never been able to do it. For somebody like me, who struggles with resisting food – it always is a challenge to stay fit. For that I have made a few rules that I try (my best) to follow

  1. Never stop working out
  2. Drink lots of water because that reduces the cravings to a huge extent
  3. Limit junk food to a day in a week
  4. Always have nutrition bars or nuts in my bag for quick bites
  5. Avoid going to restaurants when I want to hang out with your friends
  6. When I have to go for an official outing which probably has a beautiful buffet laid out – I eat something heavy (and nutritious) before going.
  7. I try to plan my meals ahead of the day
  8. I eat really slowly so that I give enough time to my tummy to signal me when I am full.

In spite of doing all this, there are times (a lot of times) when I just give in to the temptation. Foodies like me have a great challenge ahead of them. It is not easy to reduce those tyres that form around your waist as a result of eating those yummy fries and burgers and pastas.

It is always a balancing act. One of my friends say, what is the point of working so hard when you cannot even eat what you fancy. I agree with him but at the same time I don’t want to be obese who spends a large part of her money and time in hospital getting treated for obesity related issues.

By the way, I am typing out this blog sitting in a Mcdonalds – trying out their new “Chatpata aloo naan” with Fries and Iced tea (sounds yummy, isn’t it)! Ha, I told you – food is my weakness!

Well, to all of you foodies out there – I hope you can relate to what I have written here. Don’t beat yourself up. Just make reasonable goals and take one step at a time. Being an ultimate foodie isn’t bad but it has its own consequences. So always try your best to balance and stay true to yourself.

THE DIY KINDA FOODIE

I have a weird relationship with food. Throughout childhood and college, I looked at food merely as a means of nutrition, nothing more. I had a handful of favourites that my mother used to cook very well, but by and large, I used to have a ‘meh’ kind of attitude to food, especially to ghar-ka-khana (homemade food).

My journey as a foodie began only when I met my husband, who’s the true foodie among the two of us.  I still remember how the poor thing tried to impress me by taking me to a Greek restaurant for a date, and I ended up eating nothing but boiled rice and stir-fried veges because I hated the food there! He still bears a grudge about it. But, he and my Mother-in-Law are the reason why I learnt how to appreciate good food over just food and cultivated the love for cooking in me.

I don’t consider myself a foodie even now because I have very simple requirements in food and I don’t like to dine out much, but there are times when I have a hankering for certain foods and I’ll go to any lengths to hoard the ingredients required to make that particular dish. For example, I’ve been craving Miso ramen for some time now but I cannot find Miso paste (obviously a very important part of the dish) in any food store in my vicinity. And you can’t make it at home (yes, I’ve googled up ‘DIY miso paste’ too). So I’ve had to place an order online for it, and now I wait for it to arrive. That’s the kind of foodie I am. Oddly enough, as someone who hated ghar-ka-khana, I’ve turned out exactly like my mother. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all!

Yes, I’m the ‘DIY’ type of foodie who would much rather cook/bake by hand rather than sample food at a restaurant or a food fest. For me cooking my favorite meals is like celebrating an event. First, there’s the preparation – going to the grocery store to gather the ingredients or hunting for them at speciality stores.

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Then there’s the cleaning and cooking – washing, chopping, slicing, watching them all come together in a sweet melody in my mixing bowl or kadhai.

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And then there is the celebration itself – serving it to your family and having the satisfaction of knowing that they enjoy it.

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Don’t even get me started on the aroma that fills the house when the food is cooking/baking. I love it when these aromas hang around the house for hours even after the food has been sitting nicely in my tummy! I’m by no means a fabulous cook, but I  do love cooking my favorites.

Some of my friends joke that I should have been born in China or Japan or Thailand because I love anything brothy, soupy with a tonne of ginger and chicken floating in it, and – noodles! In short, I love foods that go ‘sluuuuurp’! Naturally, all noodle based foods are my absolute favourites – Miso ramen, Phad Thai, Yakisoba, Spaghetti with meatballs, simple Chicken Noodle Soup, Indo-Chinese Chow mein, or even Maggi! But the top of the list makes a relatively lesser known congee I first had courtesy of the chef on board my husband’s merchant ship – Arroz Caldo.

It’s a Filipino congee (rice porridge), roughly equivalent to chicken soup and is consumed as breakfast or when you’re feeling unwell. Its relatively simple to make IF you have chicken/vegetable stock at hand, or even stock cubes, and if you’re crazy about soups like me, you will ALWAYS keep chicken stock in your freezer to pop into any soup. Arroz Caldo consists of rice cooked in chicken/vegetable stock along with stir-fried chicken (or you could use pork, fish or shrimps), fried garlic, ginger, hard boiled eggs, topped with a garnish of spring onion, a dash of calamnsi/lemon and fish sauce. For the recipe, please head to Pilipinas Recipe. This recipe includes saffron, which in my opinion, is not necessary. I think it’s only included for the yellow color. Also, I like to make my soups healthy by adding stir-fried vegetables like carrot, mushrooms and bok choy. But you can leave them out if you like. Mind you, this congee is NOT for weight watchers.

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Image source: Pilipinas Recipe

This is the ultimate comfort food for me. This is what I crave when I’m unwell, or when I’ve had a bad day, or even when I just need to cook something good. This, along with the veges I throw in, is like a complete meal in a bowl and I can eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, I HAVE done that on some days aboard that merchant ship, when what the Filipino cook dished out was not to my liking (read squid). Gave me the creeps just thinking about it!

So, now you know what kind of foodie I am! I’m the kind of foodie who loves the process of cooking as much the eating part of it. I’m the kind of foodie who will serve you everything right from bread, cookies, pasta and dessert all made by hand, in my very own kitchen.  I’m the kind of foodie who’s idea of shopping is grocery shopping, and the kind of foodie who loves stuffing her refrigerator with things that she would like to cook.

So who’s coming over for dinner tonight? 😉

 

Featured Image: HomeMaker at Pixabay

A TALE OF A FOODIE

A kitchen always fascinated and attracted me. Nevertheless, My early days of being in the kitchen were to just eat and relish the taste of yummy food that my mom prepared for me. It was a routine for me to wake up to the aromatic realm of food prepared from the kitchen. I actually recollect the good old days when my mom woke me up with just the smell of a morning tea.

Being born in a traditional south Indian family – my home always smelled of South India delicacies like Sambar, Rasam etc. My holidays morning were awakened by the fresh smell of coriander leaves which my mom put in the Sambar which is bubbling on the stove. I always adored the way she cooked, imagined that one day I would be a fine cook like her.

I was mocked many times being a foodie. I ignored many and actually crushed many of the faces in my dreams when they tease me being a foodie. A good appetite is for the blessed ones – And I consider myself blessed for the same.

Even though I had small and fine encounters at cooking at home even before I got married. The real encounter scared the hell out of me like every other newlywed. Still, I just walked into the battle room like an unmatched warrior with the hope to accomplish my reign in the Kitchen.

It was a long struggle for perfection and imperfection for a while. Thanks to those who were patiently waiting for me to deliver perfect un-burned and well-balanced food on the table. Like all, I never enjoyed cooking then, as it was just a burden on my shoulder.

Things changed when I actually got to get good appreciation, a kind gesture that actually motivated me to cook better. My journey as a foodie propelled to become a more like a chef now. I enjoyed the aroma that actually filled in my kitchen while I cooked. Bringing the fresh memories of my mom’s kitchen.

I knew cooking was truly an art- I wanted to be an Artist then.

I took the baby steps in learning new methods and even started baking for my kids. Repetitive failure attempts and lots of wastage and finally I enjoyed the “true joy of cooking“.

Being a foodie, I luxuriate in relishing every taste my tongue could find. I loved experimenting all kind of cuisines. Fresh and new tastes always excited me. Even though I am scared of eating different varieties because of few uncanny incidents, I enjoyed watching all kind of cookery shows.

I recollect my days when actually I ended up cooking things I see on TV but yet landed up in totally unmatched dishes on a table which looked not even close to what it looks in magazines and online portals. I finally convinced myself that food colors are not my cup of tea- it is just Photography skills ;P.

Serving is my joy when it comes to food. I cannot see anyone starving or go empty stomach, hence cooking turned me completely into a mom. I actually transformed into someone who can actually eat half or even sleep empty stomach by letting others fill in well.

Being a foodie completely changed my life aspects.

TRAITS OF A RELIGIOUS FOODIE

Google defines a foodie as  “foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages.” However in my dictionary, a foodie is a person who need not have a refined taste but is madly and blindly in love with food and can be even obsessed with its thoughts such as he may not only eat but would also work, talk and sleep with food! With this thought in my mind, let me compile here a hilarious fact file of all great foodies based on my personal observations and experiences. So here it goes:-

1. Foodies are more interested in satisfying their taste buds’ desires than their stomachs’ actual need.

2. Foodies have an awesome diet plan. Respecting the word ‘healthy diet’, they will choose nutritious foods, however the additional layers and flavors added to such healthy foods will be so fatty that the whole diet becomes a mock! Some of the foodies even wake up feeling motivated about how they would get their bodies in shape by controlling their tongues but you ask them by the end of the day when they end up on their usual diet, their reply would be:- “Oh, looks really don’t matter!’’ or they would say ,“There is only one life, so we need to live extravagantly!’’Believe me there is actually no guilt..lol.

3. Foodies might indulge in prudent budgeting while buying necessities but when it comes to delicious food that seems tempting, there would be no second thought irrespective of whatever be the price!

4. For all the youngsters like me, if we are ever given the option of choosing between gorging on our favorite dish or going on a date with our crushes ; guess what will we choose!?Of course food is more important, chuck off the date!

5. Foodies  are never fussy about food. They enjoy all kinds and varieties of cuisines and dishes. Also they love experimenting new tastes when it comes to food!

6. Yummy food makes foodies more happy than expensive gifts!

7. Foodies serve their guests well. If they like some particular dish, they would desperately want all their loved ones to taste it and eventually like it too!

8. If foodies are ever asked about their favorite dishes or cuisines, they would land in deep speculation  to pick one out of the hundreds.

9. To check if one is actually a foodie or not, just let the guests be out or don’t  give them the regular glances, one would observe that foodies would be the first one to attack the food and devour them!

10. No matter how full one is, the foodie will always have an extra space in the stomach to taste the unexplored!

11. This one is a warning in disguise that is never ask a foodie to just taste a dish, he may end up licking up the whole plate!

12. This is a comical truth that some of the foodies keep aside their brains while devouring their favorite dishes. Rather they ignore their inner voice giving themselves excuses. For example , they know street food may not always be hygienic or healthy yet they love to overeat justifying themselves that it is just once in a while !

Thus now you can probably guess that the way to a foodie’s heart goes via delicious food! So now my I leave it to my dear readers to decide the extent to which they agree with my funny facts mentioned above!

I Hope you all enjoyed reading the fact file.

FOODICTED

Out of all the pleasures in the universe, there is a pleasure that stirs up my senses, refreshes my insides and satiates the hunger bubbling in me literally. The pleasure that is derived from the joy of cooking and primarily the love for food found its way into my heart a very long time ago when I was just stepping into the shoes of my teenage self. That I was a big-time foodie was known to me much longer than ever but I became a food addict when I discovered that the path to food heaven lay in learning the tricks of the trade of cooking. Initially I was of this thought that I would cook only to fill my belly but gradually I just couldn’t figure how this guilty pleasure became a passion. I would call this definitely a hidden talent as not many people are aware of it except a few of those who have got a taste of my handiwork.

Years ago my first cooking stint began in my kitchen where I was preparing for my final Home Science practical examinations, the final accomplishment of which I am still proud of. I passed with flying colours and praises alike thus giving me a boost to explore the possibilities in the world of food if at least at home. I started with collecting recipes for all kinds of cuisines and dishes and there were times when my dear mother brought out my talent in front of people visiting our house by entrusting me with responsibility of the kitchen along with my sister. There were innumerable things that I didn’t know about and which were impossible to learn just by looking up recipes. I learnt a great deal from my sister including the cooking time, standing time, and which ingredient goes with what, and the art of making the perfect round chapatis and a lot more. The basic knowledge is always an igniting factor which stays inherent even if you experiment with your cooking.

The art of cooking is not easy to master. One needs to be aware of the texture, the palate and the technique of cooking to be a forerunner. Lately I have shifted my focus towards baking which is again a higher form of art. I feel mesmerized by the smell of baked goods and therefore the venturing into this field. Again it involves science, perfect measurement of ingredients and time. Well, there can never be a perfect baking or cooking if there is no love involved. To me, cooking is an expression of love. The cook brings soul to the recipe and that is how it transforms into a piece of art. Learning about different styles of cooking, different cuisines and ingredients has really helped to create praiseworthy dishes. I get high just by seeing the food in my pan change its colour and exhibiting the fascinating aroma. The joy that I see in people when they bite into the dish that has been made gives me a delight that has no bounds.

However I have not been able to channelize my energy in this direction because of professional pursuits and there is a dire urge in me to go forward with what I love more than what is ideal. I nourish this dream to serve happiness, love and peace in bowls and platters but I still need to prepare and learn a lot to make that happen.

I believe in this statement that no one is born a great cook but is made by doing. You may burn yourself, cut yourself … yes that has happened to me several times but it is by failing miserably that you learn to rise up. Cooking to me is more than ingredients, recipes and cooking it is more about harnessing imagination, empowerment and above all creativity. Well I would like to thank my forefathers for discovering fire which is indeed one of the best things ever discovered. It has made my life worth enjoying! But besides playing with fire I am learning the freezing technique as well. A time arrives when all you want to do is what you are mostly interested in. Finding out what you are passionate about and tremendously staying interested in it is what makes you a go-getter. You truly need some TLC for yourself if you need to contribute the same amount to the masses. Let not your talents stay put in your closets and as far as budding chefs and cooks like me are concerned I would leave you with this dialogue from the movie RATATOUILLE, “Anybody can cook, but only the fearless can be great”. Bring it on!