July 30, 2013

Book Review: The Weight Loss Club by Devapriya Roy

Title:The Weight Loss Club
Author: Devapriya Roy
 Published by: Rupa Publications India in 2013
Genre:  Fiction
Price: Rs.250
Pages:297
Rate: 4/5
Devapriya Roy's second novel, The Weight Loss Club too, like her first novel The Vague Woman's Handbook, left a thoughtful impression in the mind. The vibrant creative graphic of the cover page is the first impression that would force a mind to grab it and dig deep in the fiction. The Fiction delineates the mental turmoil and the transformation of the characters and the story line. When I say story line I should make you all sure it doesn't have any particular story line, like it has never begun nor ended. It is a story of a phase and the lives of the residents of Nancy Housing Cooperative. And again don't judge the book by the title too. If it says The Weight Loss Club it is actually not.  The title is allegorical; symbolizing a united cosmic world that brought people together under one roof may be with one root motto "weight loss", but actually to find solace from the frustration of the daily life. As usual this Fiction again became the perfect example of Devapraya Roy's intellectual affinity, where the drama of life never makes one to feel fictitious but the noesis of our daily life. 

From Nandy to Nancy, from Mandakini to Mandy, the transitions of the characters in the housing complex are woven with each other as an integral part in a plausible parameter but in a very simple manner it evolves.  The whole setting of the novel is developed around Nancy Housing Complex. 7 protagonists if I say so and among them one who played the role of a catalyst, who brought solace and rain in a deserted world. A vignette of the characters: 

Monalisa Dasthe  stay-at-home mum and over obsessed with  the education and scores of her sons. A typical home maker who always thinks of the cleanliness of her kitchen and house.
Meera Sahai, continuously bullied by her Mother-in-law and a victim of Postpartum Depression. 
Aparajita Mukherjee alias Apu: An academic and a PhD Student who opposes marriage to her family front where Apu’s mother is deep in search for a perfect match for the daughter.
Abeer Mukherjee: Bother of Apu, a college student and a secret admirer of Mandakini Mandal alias Mandy.
Treeza Mathew: Once a school secretary, now doomed in glumness and loneliness.
Anada Bose: a true blue bachelor and secret admirer too.  Always ready to help others and a social creature too.
Sandhya: The catalyst, returned from Oxford and nestled in Nancy, brought all under the Weight Loss Club.  She became the therapeutic guru of all.
These are the main characters of fiction around whom the fiction sprung up. Apart from them there are many characters who worked as the binder in the fiction.
The characters in the fiction seem like extracted from the real life. I feel like I am one of them and residing in Nancy Housing Complex with all the neighbouring mates I meet in my everyday life. The minute detail of the behavioural and the circumstantial aspects are so well projected that will never let one feel fabricated. The characters' psychological modulations are illuminated with an array of naturalistic ordeals. 
Kolkata as the prime location of the Fiction, Devapriya doesn't  leave any loop to  encompass  detailing the city, the city life, the Mom's gathering in front of the school gates, the delicacies of Bengali cuisine, Durga Puja, the over casted clouds of Kolkata, Garia Haat, Universities, Romaces, Bangla band not even she left Paoli Dam too. Kolkata- Bengali- Food are an integral part- the first four lines of the novel are the perfect example of that:
"September in Calcutta is a delicious time, Mrs Das realized as she stood in the balcony of her flat in Nancy Housing Cooperative (Building A-1). Sublty Delicious, like creamy sandesh flavoured with cinnamon and dusted with pistachios." (CH:1 ; P: 5) 

Overall I enjoyed reading the book though found a bit boring in many parts. The Fiction is very well narrated and I am a great admirer of Devapiraya Roy's writing skill, the subtle literary wits she delivers. The fiction is a bit lengthy but not over powering. The best part of the fiction what I loved most is the detail character orientation and the facts related to them with all the psychological imbalances and upheavals. 




July 21, 2013

Chicken Quiche

Quiche (Keesh, how it gets pronounced), is one of my favourites and many a time I thought of giving it try at home. But I was too much fascinated with all the easy recipes that rivet to spend no time in the kitchen. Being a Food Blogger I may sound queer, but I have seen my most popular recipes are those which are easy to cook in minutes kind of dishes. That means many are there like me who always seek for easy and short time taking recipes. Believe me I found this Chicken Quiche very easy and less time taking too. One day I read a Recipe on Quiche which one of my blogger friends Antara who blogs at Antypasti.com, had posted. I got quite inspired and bookmarked it to try.  Yesterday I had a small Tea Party at home so I decided to offer some different small savoury bites to them. I was bit of scared how the dish would come up or it would taste. But I was too happy with the success. I prepared the dish in my way. But thanks for many inspiring recipes which I combined and created mine. Next time I have thought of giving an Indianised version to the Chicken Quiche.
Few lines about Quiche:
Although known as a classic French dish, the quiche originated in Germany. The word quiche means "cake" which came from the German word Kuchen. Today, quiche is considered as typically French. However, savoury custards in pastry were known in English cuisine at least as early as the 14th century. Recipes for custards baked in pastry containing meat, fish and fruit are referred to Crustardes of flessh and Crustade in the 14th-centuryThe Forme of Cury and in 15th-century cookbooks as well. (Source: HERE)

Let us now move on to my recipe. Chicken Quiche is very easy to make and you will fall in love with it that I can bet. Quiches are such a great stunner for small Tea Parties that I realised yesterday. So here is the recipe of Chicken Quiche: 
 Ingredients:
(Yields 9-10 cup cake size Quiche )
For  the Shell:
Flour: 1 & 1/2 cups
Egg: 1
Butter: 50gm (Room temperature)
Salt: 1/4 tspn
Water: As per requirement

For the Stuffing:
Minced Chicken : 200-250gm
Chedder Cheese: 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup, Grated  (I used Britannia one)
Onion : 1 Medium Size (Chopped)
Mushroom : 4-5 (Chopped)
Mayonnaise : 2 tbspn
Sweet Chilli Sauce : 1 tbspn (You can add more)
Egg : 1
White Pepper Powder : 1/4 tbspn (Optional)
Salt & Sugar according to taste
Method:
  1. First make  the dough as with make for Roti/Bread. First mix all the dry ingredients nicely then add the butter . Knead. Then add Egg. Knead again then add water little bit at a time. Keep on kneading unless the dough becomes smooth and soft.
  2. Make the stuffing: Add everything under the stuffing section except the 1/4 cup cheese and mix well.
  3. Take a muffin/ cup cake pan. Grease it well.
  4. Pre-heat the oven at 200 degree C.
  5. Make 9-10 a little bit bigger than a ping pong size balls and with a help of a rolling pin roll them like a flat bread/Luchi/ Pizza base. The thickness will be not much but not so thin too. Take each base and put it in each cups shaping them according to the size.
  6. Put stuffing in each cup and bake for 20mnts.
  7. Take the pan out and top little bit of grated cheese on each Quiche.
  8. Bake for another 2-3 mnts. And serve with sauce.

Notes:
1. You can add loads of vegetable in the place of chicken.
2. To make the stuffing more soft and creamy you can add milk too. Add milk with the egg and beat together. And then add.
3. You can add many more spices and sauces to enrich the taste.



July 20, 2013

Experimenting Food Photography

All pictures I have taken with my Canon Rebel XT and 50mm 1.8 ft Lens. I did a little bit of editing to change the mood of each photograph. I fixed my ISO at 1600 and captured at the P mode....














July 14, 2013

Mochar Phuler Bora( Banana Blossom Heart Fry)

It is my sister who is very much fond of all Bengali cuisines. On the other hand I am always running away from it. I know being a Bengali it might sound obnoxious, but this is my honest citation. My taste bud only tickles when I am served continental foods with less spices and oil. I am talking about this attitude towards food when I was celebrating my state of celibacy. As everybody knows marriage does make life topsy turvy and compels to take a new birth again. My man is a true blue Bengali who hearts for all Bengali cuisines. So I have to introduce different types Bengali cuisines in my kitchen and started growing a likeness towards it after marriage. But at the same time hubby get introduced with all the foods that I used to love too. The recent scenario has surprisingly changes and we have a different story. Hubby wants more continental foods and me the delectable Bengali dishes. So now what we do we have Bengali dishes at the lunch time and at dinner time we have oriental/continental.  The most precious part is my daughter has also grown a likeness towards each kind of foods.
Mochar Phuler Bora/Banana Blossom Heart Fry this is one the tastiest fries that I have learnt from my sister. Now what is Mochar Phul or Banana Blossom Heart? It is the soft tender part inside the Mocha or Banana Blossom which can't be peeled any more but you have to chop it and add it in the curry. Many a times we discard the part or chop it and add it. But the best usage of it is to make fry out of it. Just try it and I bet you will surely fallen in love with it. So here is the recipe how you will make Mochar Phuler Bora (Banana Blossom Heart Fry).
Ingredients:
Mochar Phul/Banana Blossom Heart- cut half then each half in semi thin slice
Turmeric Powder- a pinch + 1/4 teaspoon
Besan/Gram Flour-  3/4 cup
Cumin Seeds- 1/4 tea spoon
Salt according to taste.
White Oil-  Enough for frying
Method:
  1. Boil the Mocha r Phul /Banana Blossom Slices with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt for 15mnts.
  2. Make a thick batter with the besan/gram flour adding water and all other ingredients. (Remember the batter should be thick, not like a dough but very little flowing)[Tips: Add a tea spoon oil to make it more crispier with the batter.]
  3. Heat oil. Let it get quite hot. Then take each slice. Dunk in the batter and fry in a low flame till it turns brown.
  4. Soak the excess oil in a tissue papper and the serve with hot rice and dal.
More recipes on Mocha/Banana Blossom:


July 11, 2013

Structured Wine Trail Event by Four Seasons wine at The Conclave Club, Kolkata

Dionysus, the God of winemaking and wine, never ruled over my mind with its power of luring and the variant glory of its intoxicating mesmerisation until I visited this event. For me Wine was a good read in the books, good display on the bars and good watch people enjoying their glasses with romance. I had tasted wine once and then decided not to taste it again. 

Being a food blogger attending different food related events and writing reviews on it are real fun and a part of our job too. I read so many reviews on Wine trail Events by my fellow bloggers in different cities and to be honest rendered a likeness to this kind of events. A secret wish list already got created - to attend one so too though the concept in mind is generated to gain some knowledge about wine and witness how the event gets featured. And the dream did come true when we got an invitation from the Team Ginger Claps who organised an Event on Structured wine trail by Four Seasons wine at The Conclave Club, Kolkata. No need to say the excitement spread like a wild fire. But as the invitation came in  a short notice that many of our blogger friends couldn't make out as they were already geared up with some other appointments.
Beauty, Lifestyle and Fashion Bloggers

Excited, enthusiastic we were, Five Kolkata Food Bloggers, along with my husband as a guest representative, reached the venue on  6th July'13 in time though the event started after 1.30hrs as many other expected Lifestyle and Fashion Bloggers were not able to reach at the scheduled time. The session began with a brief introduction by exchanging our blog names then Mr. PPK Mitter alias Peter Mitter, a senior Manager with Four Seasons Wines, UB Group took the charge and presented the whole wine 
PPK Mitter
trail event through some audio-video and power point presentation in such a way, we just drown in to it so much that we couldn't even noticed how time flew away. It was more like an interactive session sharing information and gaining knowledge where we all participated. Starting from the very beginning of what is wine, where it get produced, the Indian Market, The Old and New worlds' wine, the verities of wines, the perfect temperature of drinking wine et al. 


A total novice like me in this wine world just got thoroughly educated and got answered of all the myths that I stored in my mind. I never knew about the legion varieties of wine. I never knew that if a fruit except grape is added to wine it should be named by the fruit…like Peach Wine, Apple wine etc. I never knew how much wine is good for health. The myth that wine is a ladies drink is totally ruled out.  And this one is the only drink that can nicely get paired with foods and only when we pair it with food we get the real taste of wine.
I was pretty scared and feeling embarrassed too thinking of when the tasting session will began how I could manage to avoid it. But I didn't have to. Like the other alcohol intake I also thought that it is like gulping, bottoms up and finish.  But Wine as sophisticated the drink is, it has its own way of imbibing too. And it is the main goal of the event that I found. It is like an eye opener to give us the knowledge about Indian wine and how to relish the drink with the right taste of joy. You have to glance at the beauty, inhale the aroma, swirl it and then taste the edification of the drink. The types and the styles of Wine were introduced with the samples. Three groups each divided it to three parts -
1. Still/ Sparkling/ Fortified
    2. White/Rosé/Red
    3. Dry/Medium/ Sweet

The tasting part is divided in to three parts - sight, smell and taste. The sight gives you to determine whether it a young or matured wine. The smell will give you get the aroma and the flavours of it. And the tasting will give you to decide whether its dry, medium or sweet and also you like it or not. We are offered to taste five best wines from the Four Seasons brand with a set of delicious appetizers though the food was served when we were tasting the last wine.
Vishal,  tKolkata Food Blogger busy in Sight testing.
First we are offered Sauvignon Blanc from the white wine family, a  Pale Yellow Coloured, Clear and young wine. It smelled very brisk  with a gooseberry zest, with the mild tinge flavours of asparagus, capsicum. Taste wise it is mild acidic and dry (with no sweet content). 
Next came Viognier another white wine. The colour of it is clear and yellowish like a straw colour. It smelled more like peach with a mild aromatic flavour of cinnamon. Taste wise it is also acidic, sour and dry.
The next one came from the Rosé Wine Family- Blush. Blush as the name denotes it has a majestic rosy blush colour. It smelled floral and tasted medium.
 
The came Shiraz the red wine.  The colour is dark red and smelled spicy and smoky. When it comes to red wine it is always suggested to pair with red meat.
Lastly came the Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon,another  red wine. Most of us liked the taste of this one. It is mild acidic with fruity flavoure but gives a very pleasant taste when you sip.
We were served by The Conclave Club group delicious appetizers and thanks to all the member for the wonderful service they did silently and very professionally.
Kolkata Food Bloggers
We thoroughly enjoyed the event. Mainly a wine hater like me really liked all the tastes. Good wines really play the magic.  We look forward for many more events like this, which can enrich our knowledge and open a door to a world which sometimes just kept covered behind some myths. It is also good to see that Indian market is now rolling with the flow of good qualities of White wine and Red wines in a much considerate rate too.
To know more about Four Seasons Wine please visit to the below links:
http://www.fourseasonsvineyards.com
https://www.facebook.com/FourSeasonsWines

For more reads from other Kolkata Food Bloggers please visit to the below links:
1. Vishal Tupper & Amrita Gill
2. Sarani Tarafdar.
3. Poorna Banerjee.








 [P.S: This is not a paid event review or not a promotion or not I am recommending to alcohol intake. It is an experience what I like to share with you all.]

July 9, 2013

Balsamic Herb Roasted Chicken

After a lot of discussions and debates I determined to get proved myself whether OTG (Oven, Toaster, and Griller) is better or convection Micro Oven.  So I bought one OTG. During my USA stay I was first introduced to the baking world. And never thought that after coming to India I had to scratch my head and tax my brain so much to choose the right oven. I was so satisfied with the conventional oven in USA that I decided to by the same one after returning back to India. But after coming here the picture was totally different. Conventional oven was not that much famous here. For the buildup ovens the space was the biggest problem. Then came so many different issues that forced me to drop the plan and go for a Convection Micro Oven- All in one. Till date I was totally satisfied with that one when one of my readers asked me that she heard baking cake in OTG was better than the convection MW. I was not able answer her as I didn't have any experience with it. So I shared this question with my foodie friends and foodie groups. And there I found most were recommending for an OTG.  So I did not shuffle my brain too much and bought one OTG. OTG is quite inexpensive and very light weighted.  You alone can carry the machine form this room to that room. And that I found was the best part of it.
The first dish I cooked is this Balsamic Herb Whole Chicken. I was a bit scared when the dish started to get cooking. I hardly move that 1 hour from my kitchen. The outcome was truly very much satisfactory. The chicken was so juicy and didn't have that dryness what we usually got in the convection MW. It was perfectly roasted and tasted awesome. My man and my daughter they relishes the dish till the last bite. Overall from my first experience I was very much satisfied and contended. This is dish is a part of the Italian Cuisine. Once I have seen this kind of recipe where the chicken gets roasted with loads of herbs and lemon basted and baked. So here is my version.
Ingredients:
Whole Chicken-  800 gms to1 kg (I bought a skinned one)
Balsamic Vinegar- 1/2 cup
Dry Herbs (Rosemerry, Thyme, Parseley, Basil, Tarragon)- 1/2 tea spoon each (Herb collection from Urban Flaborz)
Dry lemon Grass- few sprigs
Chicken garlic seasoning- 1/2 teaspoon
Honey- 2 table spoon
Green Chilli Sauce- 1 tea spoon
Sugar- 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Olive oil- 1/2 tea spoon
Sweet red chilli sauce
Whole Garlic  cloves- 4-5
Method:
  1. Take the whole chicken and make some  cuts on the body with a knife. Marinate the whole chicken with all the ingredients except the olive oil, garlic  and sweet red chilli sauce for minimum 6hrs. Over night marinating is suggested for best result.
  2. Power on the OTG. Set the temperature at 240C degree. Put the Chicken on the rotisserie and bake for 60mnts. Don't discard the juice, reserve.
  3. In a pan heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Let it turn slight brown and the add the juice out of the marinated chicken. Add sweet chili sauce and keep on stirring till it gets thicken.
  4. Take out the chicken from the rotisserie and then brush the sauce all over it and serve hot with bread/ pasta/ salads or any thing of your choice.
  5. I served with pasta stirred in Amul cream.
Note:
1. Whenever you will grill or roast something don't forget to put a tray below it. Other wise the juice dropping from the stuff will mess the bottom of the OTG and it will be very difficult to clean.
2. It is always recommended to glaze roasted chicken/ fish with some sauce for better taste.


July 8, 2013

Some Crochet Works

This is when Sayatani from A Homemaker's Diary asked me If I had blogged any on my Crochet works, I realised no I didn't. So here are some display of my works what I enjoyed making some for my daughter and some for my clients. Hope you will enjoy my Creations. If you are interested to know more about my creations what I love to do professionally the please visit iKa's.




Hat for a boy, customised after client's provided design


Mobile cover made customised after client's provided design.


Hope you have enjoyed. Happy Blogging.