MOTHERHOOD AND GUILT ARE INSEPARABLE

Being a mom, you are going to be bombarded with so much guilt for everything you do to everything you don’t do.

Nearly, 90% of moms feel guilty- And yes it is not a surprising element. Right from giving birth, breastfeeding, parenting, helicopter parenting and much more, you will stumble every now and then with guilt.

When pregnancy starts, it begins creeping into the thoughts.

“Oh, I didn’t have this, my child would have got better eyes, lips..etc”

“Oh, I should have lost enough weight,so that I would not have gained this much during pregnancy, now how I am gonna take care of myself and my kids . . .”

Blah… blah… blah…

A lot many thoughts keep conflicting the mind, rather than focussing on the real thing.

Again, after giving birth, most moms around 10 % or so, struggle with breastfeeding, some do not have enough supplement, that they have to start on formula milk, some do feed enough that the baby is growing fatter… and much more..

The list just prolongs from then, there is never an end to it.

Again the common guilt which is prevailing is when a mother is back to work. The guilt is much heavier than an atom bomb, it just breaks away the confidence and the mother’s dreams, that finally she gives up, the hopes and be a dedicated mom.

But again, it is not the end of the story – the guilt is inseparable.

When kids grow up, the mother again feels lonelier and again guilty of giving up her career, and then finally not able to give a kick start to it, because she keeps blaming herself for all the decisions she took in her life.

So what’s the story now?

Why do women, especially moms feel the guilt?

Is it because she doesn’t do her things well enough? Or,

Is it the society, who is grading the moms?

People tend to forget that moms are also humans, they also have their share of life. All they need is some time on their own, a job to make them independent to boost their self-confidence. And they just need slight support, not huge though.

So moms, just chill, if you are feeling guilty;

  • Firstly you do an excellent job, being a mom.
  • It is not easy just being mom, it takes up so much effort and you are the best at it.
  • Remember that your happy mind keeps everyone around you happy. So smile, take your own time and chill out.
  • Not breastfeeding is not the end of the world. Somethings are not in your hands. There are thousands of women who are not able to lactate, and it is not their fault.
  • Parenting is indeed a mess, you fall in uninvited, but yes, you might take your time to gather around and swim across to the shore.
  • Do not compare your parenting with others, you need not be guilty for your choices if you know you cannot control it.

Moreover, it is not in your hands that, the people around you are beguiled by the traditional patriarchal child-rearing setup, which is mostly triggered by maternal guilt rather than parental guilt.

Leave the idea of perfectionism, rather than focus on what is good for the child.

Just ignore your guilt and then focus on your child. Guilt gives you nothing, your child will give you the universe of happiness.

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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MY LOVE FOOD

Food. The ultimate object required for the sustenance of life. It’s like the sun. All things revolve around it, it keeps all the organs healthy and provide energy for their functions and it should be taken hot. I never thought that I would marry a foodie and would cook his favourite foods and have an inclination towards food. Food was never a priority for me, rather I used to eat anything and at anytime. I used to skip breakfast and lunch when I was studying. It affected me adversely. During engineering, when I was hungry I used to either go have panipuri or make Maggie n cold coffee in our kettle. Maggie n cold coffee have had been a constant since. These were my go to foods. But the food that has always been in my heart n mind is the typical odia cuisine that consists of harada dal (toor dal), macha bhaja (fish masala fry) and alu bharta (mashed potatoes odia style).
For Dal:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup toor dal
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon panch foran (five spice blend)
1/2 teaspoon Tamarind paste or 1 dried raw mango
1/2 teaspoon haldi powder
Salt according to taste
2 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon refined oil
Steps:
Pressure cook the toor dal along with some salt, haldi powder, 1 garlic clove cut n pressed and the dreied raw mango (if available) for 10-15 minutes. You can cook it on high for the first 5 minutes and then lower the heat for the rest.
While the dal cooks, cut onion into thin long slices. Heat a pan, put some refined oiland let it heat. Put some panch foran. While it sizzles add the remaining garlic clove which is cut into very small pieces, then add the onion. Let it turn golden then add the red chilles and curry leaves. Once they are fried a little, add the dal to it. Add soem more water if required.
Taste the dal, if u feel like the dal could be a little more tangy, add some tamarind paste. Simmer the dal for 5 minutes. Put off heat. The dal is ready.
For fish fry:
Ingredients:
4-5 pieces of fish
2 onions
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tomato (optional)
1 green chilli (optional)
1 teaspoon haldi
2teaspoons chilli powder (u can use Kashmiri Lal)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar**
** Sugar is added for flavour and colour. We add salt in proportion to sugar so that the fish fry doesn’t tastes sweet.
Masala:
Grind the onion along with the garlic. If you want a little tangy taste add tomato or skip. If you want it little hot then add the chilli. Grind it into a smooth paste.
In a frying pan, put refined oil and let it heat. Add the masala once the oil is hot. Add haldi, chilli powder, salt and sugar n mix. Cook till oil separates from the masala.
Shallow fry the fish in a separate pan, till it’s soft n cooked. Add the fish to the masala. Add little water to it and cook. Cook till the fish is well fried from both sides and the masala sticks to the fish. Similarly, this masala can be used for prawn fry and boiled egg fry (halfed eggs) too.
The potatoes:
3 large potatoes
1 medium onion cut into thin slices
2 dry red chillies
Salt to taste
Method:
Boil the potatoes till they are cooked through.
In a pan, take some refined oil and let it heat. Put the red chillies and fry till it changes the color. Take it out n put it aside. Then add onion to the pan and fry till golden brown. While the onions are being fried, mash the potatoes and the chillies together. Add some salt to it. After the onions are golden brown in color add the potatoes to the pan and mix. Fry for a minute or two and then out off the heat.
The food is ready. Have these with hot rice and some fried papads. I hope you will love these as much as I do. Some foods leave such an impact that no matter where you go and no matter how many different cuisines you try, you will come back to them and be satisfied. Am I that impacting? Does people get attracted to me for my goodness? I think we all can ponder about it.
This above food is my love food. This valentines day I am indeed having it and loving it 😍

BAKE SOMEONE HAPPY

Tell me one thing.  Why can’t we summon the God sent Jinee 🡪 Swiggy or Zomato  every single day?

 Why is it heavy on the stomach and the pocket?

According to me the best part of a vacation is that we can just pick up the phone and order food. Room Delivery is the magic word. But vacations are few and far between and alas they don’t last forever.

So even people like me who are allergic to kitchen have to enter the kitchen and produce something edible on the plate every day. 

And to top it all I am a mother of two teenage boys who are perpetually hungry. Every time they want something tasty and stomach filling and I want it to be healthy as well. So the pressure on me is very heavy. 

Few years back on my insistence we bought a microwave oven. Even thought I had no plans to use it more than a reheating device I decided to buy the best model with the convection and grill options. The convection mode meant I could use it for baking as well.

My hubby was joking that this will be another piece of machinery which would just look beautiful on my kitchen cabinet but would be hardly used. Now this hit my ego and I decided to be a world class baker just to prove him wrong. 

So to cut the long story short I tried many cake recipes. After a few failed attempts I stumbled upon a recipe for making muffins. And my dream of becoming a famous chef became partially true. This fail safe recipe has helped me out on many a kids get-together, picnics etc. And  I have been able to impress my friends also with these muffins. I have shared this recipe with many so dear friends I will share it with you also here. Hope it works out well for you too.

Basically mix all the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls.

Dry: Mix 2 cups of all purpose flour (Maida), 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tea spoon of baking powder, 1 cup granulated sugar and half a spoon of salt in one bowl.

Wet: Whisk 1 & 1/4 cup of milk, 2 table spoon of melted butter, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, little vanilla extract and two beaten eggs together.

Mix both the wet and dry ingredients for not more than 10 seconds. The batter should be lumpy. Remember 🡪 Don’t over mix it as it will lead to hard misshapen muffins. As soon as the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together, the liquid will activate the baking powder and the batter will have to be baked right away.

Take out cutely shaped silicon muffin moulds, grease it and spoon the batter into the mould. Make sure to fill it only three fourths. Sprinkle some chocolate chips on it and put it in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and bake it at 180 degrees.

Now just sit and watch the oven work its magic. Watch the muffins rise in their mould. And after 15 minutes take it out and de-mould it.

now enjoy the yummylicious muffins. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Maybe this will be the stepping stone for you to go on and become a world class baker…

COOKING! – YAH, IT’S TOUGH TO DO!

My relationship with cooking can be well-explained from the humorous stand-point of our most trending tagline – “MEN WILL BE MEN”. 😊 Yes, like most of the men, I usually don’t like to cook and to be honest that predisposition still exists in a sleepy mode. Since childhood my relationship with kitchen is – kitchen means to grab food! As a matter of fact, my presence in the kitchen is always an indication to Mom that, I’m hungry! Furthermore, at home taking used plates from the dining table to the wash bin feels like carrying a bag of stones for miles. Whereas, one of the prime demands of my professional life is “I have to stay away from home”. Since 2010, hardly have I stayed a full-month at home. Presuming my professional life my mom used to advise me “to learn cooking” since I was pursing university studies. As I said, “Men will be Men”, my simple response to mom was – “Are you out of your mind? Think about the restaurants, how they will survive if people like me started cooking! Hail Restaurants!” 😊 Even with this idea I survived a year, when I moved alone to Kolkata at the beginning of 2016. I always quote myself that I’m an Englishman by Breakfast, Bengali by Lunch and now Odia by Dinner. During 2016, my permanent breakfast was Bread-Jam, Kellogg’s, Muffins/Banana, Boiled Egg, Coffee and at times Tropicana and the dinner was – Chappati and Egg tadka. 

Honestly, one of the good teachers in our Bachelor Men’s life is “After 15th, it hurts the pocket”. With the dawn of 2017, I realized that it was high-time to learn cooking. Co-incidentally, while I was returning from Christmas vacation my uncle gifted me a Pressure cooker on my birthday. Lo and behold, I kickstarted the journey of cooking and initially (almost the first couple of weeks) over-boiled rice was always on the dinner plate. The first week taught me, it is always too painful to waste food when you have cooked it. So, sweet pickle and good curry from the nearest restaurant made my over-boiled rice eatable. Gradually, I learned cooking a few more curries. Though I have prepared only a couple of times, but I really enjoyed cooking “Masala Prawn”. It wasn’t of Chef’s level but yea far-far better than some homely preparation. 

It was Saturday morning; I went to the market and saw very good prawns out there. Unable to control my foodie gluttony I bought some prawns. Since I don’t know how to clean them, I had to pay extra bucks to the vendor. Again, after cleaning them with fresh water, I marinated them with salt and turmeric. After sometime I deep fried with refined oil. Then separately fried onion, added salt, turmeric, coriander powder, red chilly powder and fried for a few minutes. Added ginger-garlic paste, tomato sauce, soya sauce and cooked it with fish masala for a few more minutes. Then added the fried prawns to the masala and with little water at a low fire cooked it for a few minutes. Then while removing the Masala prawn to the container, I added some fresh coriander leaves. It was one of the good Saturday lunches which I enjoyed all alone – no sharing, all mine. 😊 

Fun apart, to the reader’s vantage point, let me quote the well-known American author Zig Ziglar – “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Life, through its big and small challenges invites us to learn and kick the journey to do grow better both in the eyes of the LORD God and human beings. Eating over-boiled rice to enjoying Masala Prawn took 2 hard years for the “Men will be Men” thinker. While feeling bad to waste even the over-boiled rice and gulping it with the help of pickle, perseverance was the virtue in distress.

The Bible says,

“Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything”.

Waiting and persevering to mature in the art of cooking too!!

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.

Image result for making dosa

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

COOKING FOR LOVE

Cooking was never my area of expertise before marriage, basically due to three reasons. Firstly, my grandmother, too old to work, was always scared of me working on the gas stove alone, so much, that whenever my mom would be away, she would never let me go into the kitchen only. In case I insisted, saying that it was time for her evening tea, she would stand with me in the kitchen even if she would get tired of standing there and ensured the knob of the gas stove was off before she went out. 

Secondly, with my mother, my job in the kitchen was only to assist her like laying the table or serving chapatis. Though, she would let me make one small chapati at the end, she never compelled me to learn cooking. I remember once she got high fever and I, along with my elder brother tried to share her work load, and so decided to knead the dough. My brother messed up with the quantity of water and ended up in pouring lots of it, for which I asked him to put in more flour. These steps of pouring in water and then adding more flour ended up in a pile of unkneaded dough and we proved ourselves to be disastrous in dough making.

After I finished schooling, I developed the hobby of baking chocolate cake. After 3-4 attempts, I did fairly well, but soon got bored with it because the preparation time would take ages! Sadly, there were no readymade cake mixes available at that time. 

I remember the first dish that I prepared was Shahi Paneer, which I learnt from my next-door neighbour and my best friend Jyoti. She was too good at cooking and I developed a little interest in learning new recipes from her. Apart from drooling at Femina’s Bachelor of the Fortnight page, I started to look at various recipe pages too.

Once when I was in Dehradun, my uncle got a new microwave oven in the house and I experimented making desserts in it. I made Instant Rabdi, using bread crumbs and milk. The result was pretty good.

When I neared mid-20s, my father used to show concern that I should learn cooking.  However, my mother just said, “She will learn herself when she will go to her in-laws”. 

The third and the last reason for me remaining a non-cook was my lack of interest and my mother-in-law who used to prepare the scrumptious main course, while I continued doing my job as assistant in the kitchen after marriage. I started cooking independently only when my husband and I moved to a different city. I still remember calling up my cousin sister Kuljeet, asking her how to cut French beans. Thank God we have smartphones now and everything is on our tips!

Your whole perspective changes when you become a mother. It was only recently when I actually started ‘loving’ to cook. Experimenting the dishes for the first time has become my new hobby. Just to make sure that my kids eat nutritious food, I have tried making Chhole Bhature, Khakra, Quesadillas, Set Dosa, Paalak Puri, Paalak Paneer, Methi Malai Paneer, Veg Biryani, Pao Bhaji and a lot more. The best part is that I fared well in the score card of my husband, who’s an epicure and never ever makes false praises, no matter how much hard work one puts in!

I love Pao Bhaji and wanted my sons also to eat the bhaji. The problem with them is that if they see a piece of carrot or beans or peas, they will simply not eat. So, while preparing the bhaji, instead of mashing, I made a thick paste of the boiled vegetables, by churning them in food processor so that there’s no piece left. The kids loved it and I felt very relieved after feeding vegetables to my picky eaters.

Another dish I tried for my kids was Pink Dosa, which I made by adding beetroot juice to the dosa batter. The kids enjoyed eating the unique coloured dosa as much as I enjoyed making. 

There’s a snack which goes into their lunch boxes every week- cutlets. These are protein rich cutlets which I prepare by mixing powdered soya chunks (using grinder), bread crumbs and mashed potatoes. I use cookie cutters to give them various shapes and shallow fry them. The kids just relish these hi-protein cutlets.

It’s easy to order food and try new dishes, but once you have kids, I guess one learns to start experimenting with food. At least that’s what I did!