Stories born over SMS : Flash Fictions by a prankster

 

The bed  time stories are supposed to be soothing to mind and soul as they say, but what if they are spooky stories..!  These are few flash fiction that I wrote over SMS to a friend as a prank , just to bid her good night ! The very next morning she asked me put them on the blog ,so here I  go ..

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I was telling the Cinderella story to my three year old daughter .As I began to tell her the story, she looked at me and said ,” Dad, tell some other story. Mom told me this yesterday night. The only thing that is unsettling is that  her mother is in coma in the local hospital after she met  with an accident yesterday morning and our daughter  has  not been  informed about this yet !!

 

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My son was holding me tight, tears rolled down his cheeks as he repeatedly  kissed my forehead. I wanted to hug him back, but as they say dead men don’t react!

 

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”Dad, life is good, there’s no pressure from mom to excel in exams, no one asks these days why I started doing drugs  after joining college, no one to bother me with question about how I developed HIV. Life is good.” – I found this letter written by my son today  morning  below my pillowcase. Today is my son’s 1st  death anniversary .He committed suicide a year back.

 

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I don’t enjoy eating dinner alone .So I ask my ex wife to visit me for dinner whenever she can .But she always makes me promise to see her off to her grave, post dinner!

 

 

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It was a humid summer afternoon in Calcutta. Came back from work and had to climb all the stairs up to my 4th floor apartment as the lift was not working. I opened the  main door tired and fatigued,   wiped the tiny bit of sweat  accumulated on my forehead while entering the hall way.My throat was all thirsty ,so I reached out for the fridge  to take out a bottle of  water.A hand came out of the fridge to offer me the bottle of water as soon as I opened the fridge door.It was not my hand.

 

Watermelon,Feta ,Mint and Olive Salad with Walnut

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Watermelon,feta,mint and olive salad.This is summer in a bowl!Colorful summer-fresh vegetables ,chunky walnut adding a bite,flavorful herbs tossed in a lemony -vinegar dressing, this salad bursts into great flavors.Simple, everyday ingredients which are easily available ,light and fresh.This is the perfect side with the barbecue lunch.Summer is in it’s fag end here in England.While the shops are buzzing with summer ending sales,kids are preparing to go back to school,the rain is back in action(as if it was away anytime!) and more frequently now,I was mourning silently and  thinking of bringing out  the winter woollies out of the closet,a pleasant surprise happened.

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Summer decided to be nice and warm for one last time  a few days back.I made a zesty grilled chicken for lunch, served it with some crusty garlic butter bread,Mexican style corn on the cob and this cool salad.Tossed with onion,mint,lemon,feta crumbles,fresh olives,spring onion I served the chilled watermelon balls  for lunch in company with my favorite watermelon,strawberry and pomegranate punch.And to end the meal I made the yogurt mousse with strawberry marshmallow and blueberry compote .My perfect summer meal. That’s what I call  having a good day .Going back to the salad, I love chilled watermelon in  my salad.Before making the salad,I refrigerated the watermelon balls,and left them to be chilled till I was ready to make the salad.This salad is best served fresh and on the day it is made.The walnuts add a nice  bite to the salad,giving it a great texture.

 

 

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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups of fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cup lettuce ,roughly chopped
  • 1 cucumber,finely chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 cup olives
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese,crumbled
  • 1/2 parsley,finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted or roasted walnut
  • 1/2 cup  mint,finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 table spoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup onion,finely chopped or sliced
  •  1/4 cup spring onion,finely chopped
  • salt,to taste
  • black pepper ,to taste

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Instructions :

  • Place watermelon,onion,cucumber,onion,spring onion,cucumber,olives in a large bowl.
  • Add fresh herbs ,feta and walnuts.
  • Prepare the salad dressing by  mixing the lemon juice,balsamic vinegar,olive oil,salt and pepper.
  • Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing and mix to incorporate.

Related posts:

Watermelon,Strawberry and Pomegranate Punch

 

Mishti Doi/Bengali Sweet Yogurt

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Bengalis are known as the sweetened lot.People who speak a sweet language called ”Bangla” ,people who can act sweet(read ‘nyaka’ or overtly coy)if they wish to and people who love their sweets to death.Well to tell you the truth these rendezvous of Bengalis with sweetness, as a youngster living in Kolkata(nee’ Calcutta) always made me feel  sweets are overrated virtues of Bengali cuisine.Any non-bengali I have met from outside Kolkata have started or ended their conversation with me as ”Do you like roshogolla ,mishti doi?” or ”Oh! I love mishti doi” .Come on there’s so much more in Bengali cuisine than just sticking with this eerie affinity for mishti(sweets) .But as they say as you grow up(read grow old) your mind tends to be less rebellious and more grounded to reality.Staying outside Kolkata have now knocked some senses in me that cliches are cliches for a reason.Nothing can beat Mishti doi in popularity.It is the Amitabh Bachchan of Bengali cuisine.The ultimate showstopper.Time tested,survived all the competitions and travelled across the country as the brand ambassador of Bengali cuisine,you have no other choice than to love this sweetened yogurt,very typical of Bengal and some other regions of eastern India.

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The term mishti doi for me conjures up a memory of a chilled earthen pot filled with a slightly pink colored sweetened yogurt,with a thick layer on top,creamy when spooned out yet well set in the wet earthen pot.With the spoon I would happily make an indent in a corner of the doi in the earthen pot and lick the spoon up with closed eyes.As a kid I was intrigued by the slightly pink colored yogurt and always wondered why we nicknamed it lal doi(red yogurt) and not golapi doi( pink yogurt).May be we are a color-blind lot! The art of making this yogurt, has  hardly ever  crossed the threshold of the Bengali sweatshops and not entered the Bengali kitchen until recently probably because the traditional process of making mishti doi is bit time consuming  than making the white yogurt variety at home.  The traditional preparation of mishti doi calls for caramelizing the full fat milk with sugar or jaggery. The thickened milk is then set to ferment overnight in a pot along with a some fresh yogurt which works as culture for fermenting.Earthen pots are traditionally used  to set this  yogurt as  the pot allows evaporation of  water through it’s pores allowing the yogurt to set in the perfect temperature.Phew ! Thankfully every long cut has got an equal and opposite short cut! Trust me on my take  of the Newtonian law.I prefer shortcuts that gives splendid results without compromising on the quality.And this is how I do my mishti doi .

Stop Press : This yogurt tastes even better,more creamy and decadent a day later !

 

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Ingredients :

  • 14oz condensed milk
  • 14oz  evaporated milk  or 1 litre full fat milk reduced to 40 % of it’s original content
  • 14oz Greek yogurt or thick flavorless plain yogurt

Serves : 6

 

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Method :

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C
  • Additional step : If using full fat milk instead of  canned evaporated milk ,heat milk in a heavy bottomed pan,stirring continuously till the milk is reduced to almost 40 % of it’s original content(removing 60% of the water content in the milk) . Remove from the heat  and let it cool at room temperature.
  • In a large container mix the condensed milk,the evaporated milk or the thickened reduced milk and plain yogurt.
  • Whisk the contents of  the mix ,till there is no lump.
  • Pour the mixture in a baking container of your choice.
  • Bake at 180 C for exactly 15 minutes and then turn off the oven.
  • Do not open the heated oven and let the yogurt seat there and cool down slowly for at least 6-7 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the set yogurt from the oven,cover with a cling film or aluminium foil and put it in the fridge.
  • Serve chilled.
  • Enjoy!

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Watermelon,Strawberry & Pomegranate Punch

 

 

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The summer solstice is long gone and the summer school holidays have finally started here,which means in less than a month’s time we will be in the summer bank holidays which unofficially marks the end of summer.So there’s not much time in hand to enjoy and make most of the left over summer days.We are trying hard to catch up with the pace of summer ! But phew!! Last weekend when the sun was out, I thought of doing a bit of pampering to myself.Throughout the weekend this is what I did.Reading,eating,relaxing and repeat !

 

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I made this cool and refreshing drink for two of us.All I did was hurl all my favorite fruity red(s) together into a glass pitcher and made one of the most refreshing yet low calorie beverage possible.I don’t know about you ,but my favorite summer red(s) are watermelon,strawberry and pomegranate.If I am not making a salad with them,I am making a dessert with them,and if I am not making a dessert I am making some cool ,refreshing drink with them.

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Strawberry is my favorite smell ,whereas watermelon is one my most favorite summer fruit.Watermelon is not only sweet and refreshing on warm days,but it is also high on water content,which is fabulous for keeping you hydrated. A strawberry,watermelon,pomegranate drink was the order of the day.Whereas the  flavors of lime and mint added the much needed twist to the otherwise sweet and fruity drink.

 

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What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 litre water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup assorted red fruits* : watermelon chunk(de-seeded) ,strawberry,pomegranate
  • 1/2 litre  fresh watermelon juice
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • lime slices,a few
  • crushed ice
  • few mint leaves for garnish

 

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How to make it :

  • In a liquidizer blend the water,water melon juice , watermelon chunks,honey  until smooth.
  • Add the lemon juice and crush ice and blend for a few seconds longer.
  • Put the red fruits*and lime slices into a pitcher and pour the blended drink on top of the fruits.
  • Coat the mint leaves with some honey and garnish it on top of the pitcher.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve,serve chilled.
  • Enjoy!

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Related posts :

Petite Strawberry Cheesecake

Yogurt Mousse with Strawberry Marshmallow & Blueberry Compote

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry and Twix

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Chocolate and Tea Infused Date Loaf

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There are few recipes with which you can play around,put your own stamp, tweak a bit here and there with the ingredients and so on; whereas there are few recipes,where you prefer to go  by the original taste and let it remain as pristine as possible ! This recipe qualifies into the second category for me.The recipe belongs to my friend Dwaipayan Dhar Chowdhury blogging at Food4thought .Dwaipayan is  one of the most passionate foodie I have ever met.We can chat hours on discussing about his and mine(actually more of his than mine ) latest acquisitions of cake tins and ramekins,recipes,cookery

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books,experiments with unusual cooking ingredients and even some recipe’s socio-cultural history . He is a  passionate foodie ,a great cook and a mind blowing baker who apart from giving me a lot of important tips on baking ,taught me to replace butter with oil and have light ,moist and super soft cakes.If that’s not all I got the inspiration to blog from him.Wish he himself starts blogging more often.But then geniuses are like that,bit careless about themselves ,ain’t they?

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This chocolate and tea infused date loaf spiked by the heavenly aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon is a tea lover’s delight.The dates make the loaf sweet at right places.This loaf is a cross between bread and cake.It’s not overtly sweet and remains moist for two-three days at a stretch if kept in air tight box.Before I leap into the recipe,got to say whenever I have made this loaf ,whoever have ate this ,asked me ‘what have you put in the cake..ummm it’s so good?’ Well ,there’s no secret ingredient.Trust me.Whenever I pass on this feedback to Dwaipayan about his recipe ,he says ”Its’s my recipe after all,got to be good ;)” ! Well whatever that means,I bow down to this magic baker friend of mine ,who taught me to be confident about baking.Much thanks to him🙂

 

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Ingredients

  • All purpose flour/self raising flour  : 3/4 cup
  • Cocoa powder :1/4 cup
  • Baking powder :1 tablespoon
  • Salt,a pinch
  • Cinnamon powder :1/2 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg powder: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Vanilla essence :1 tablespoon
  • Granulated sugar :1/2 cup
  • Black tea :1 cup
  • Eggs : 2
  • White oil :1 cup
  • Dates : Deseeded and chopped ,1/2 cup

 

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Recipe:

  • Preheat your oven at 180 degrees
  • Sift the flour,cocoa powder,baking powder,salt,cinnamon powder and nutmeg powder together.
  • Beat the eggs with sugar and oil .Keep the egg mixture aside.
  • Put the chopped dates in black tea and boil this for 2 minutes.Do not let the dates to get mashy at this stage.Leave it to cool at room temperature.
  • Now fold in the flour mixture with the egg mixture slowly with the help of wooden spoon.
  • Add dates with tea in the egg and flour mixture and fold in slowly.
  • Add vanilla in the cake batter.
  • Grease and flour a loaf tin and  put the batter in that.
  • Transfer the batter into the tin.Put the tin in the all ready preheated oven and bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Take the loaf off the tin and keep it on a wired rack to cool down.
  • Serve it with tea or coffee.
  • Enjoy !

Skinny Tiramisu Smoothie

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Tiramisu -the classic Italian dessert is  the coolest coffee trifle ever made.Delightful mascarpone cheese layered with espresso soaked sponge fingers with a touch of cognac or brandy.Coffee,cream and booze are possibly the best after dinner combination.But the moment I write cheese,sponge finger ,cognac  or brandy in one sentence my mind gets clouded with guilt feeling.Is there a way I can eat something so delectable but not feel guilty? I kept thinking to myself while battling the thought of gaining a pound or two by indulging in such luscious luxuries.And this is what I came up with as solution.Skinny Tiramisu Smoothie.I substituted the rich mascarpone cheese with a much nutritious banana , low fat milk and  vanilla yogurt along with  two tablespoon cream cheese for that decadent smooth texture.

 

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My cheat treat.Tiramisu smoothie well within 75 kcal per glass!! One hell of a tiramisu drink neatly poured in a glass.The feel good factor even enhanced with caramel drizzle on top.And I am good to go..errr drink my glass of skinny tiramisu smoothie.Oh! have I mentioned this is eggless too,which means the vegetarians out there can enjoy this treat as well.

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 Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a chopped frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp strongly brewed espresso coffee,cooled or 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup fat free or low fat  yogurt
  • 1/2 cup 5% fat milk or skimmed milk
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2tbsp  cream cheese
  • cinnamon powder,a pinch
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or essence
  • caramel sauce,for drizzling (optional,but highly recommended)
  • rum extract or essence,a drop (optional)

Serves : 2

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients except caramel sauce in the blender.Blend until smooth and well combined.
  • Pour in to a cooled glass and top it with your favorite caramel sauce.
  • Serve chilled,enjoy!

 

 

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Sausage Jambalaya

 

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Jambalaya !! Does that name ring a bell? If it does not ,then do not worry .Just note it down as an incredibly easy to make  one pot  recipe ,that will save  your  precious energy on a weekday and rather  impress  your guests if cooked as part of a dinner party menu.Jambalaya is a French word that literally means ‘jumbled’. This is a rice dish with a great mix of strong flavor and textures.I got to taste this wonderful rice dish at a friend’s place.I was so impressed ,that soon I had to try out my own take on the recipe.Jambalaya  is a Creole dish of Spanish and French influence and is very similar to the Spanish paella.Meat  in the form of chicken or pork sausage are the common ingredients for

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the traditional  non vegetarian take on the dish,but I believe dodging out on the meaty ingredients won’t do this incredibly spicy and flavorsome dish much harm. Nutrella or tofu can be wonderful vegetarian  substitutes for this dish . The ‘holy trinity’ of this dish are bell peppers,onion and celery.Red,yellow,green and pink! I am a sucker for natural color in food.I believe if the food looks naturally beautiful,half the battle is over.I cooked and created a stock

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of the vegetables and sausage,added the raw rice and then let it cook in those flavors till done.I added the seasonings and the tomato puree towards the end ,to give it a nice sour-spicy effect,but you are free to add it while cooking the vegetables and the meat.The best part of the dish is that it’s extremely versatile,so you are free to choose and  swap your protein,chicken, prawns,sausage,tofu and so on or even customize the heat in the dish according to your taste buds.Feel free to put your own stamp!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion,diced
  • 3 ribs celery,chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper,cored and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper,cored and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper,cored and diced
  • 1-2 green chili or jalapeno peppers,seeded and finely chopped (depending on taste)
  • 5 cloves garlic,mined
  • 2 lb pork sausage ,sliced in rounds
  • 80 gm pureed tomato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4th teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt,to taste
  • 1 and 1/2 cup rice of your choice
  • 3 cups stock or warm water
  • 2 table spoon of spice mix of a teaspoon each of ground black pepper,red pepper flakes,dried oregano,cumin powder powder,coriander,dried thyme,paprika powder- all crushed and mixed together
  • a handful of parsley,finely chopped (optional)

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Method:

  • Heat 3 tablespoon oil in a large deep vessel at medium heat.
  • Add bay leaf and  minced garlic,saute for a while.
  • Add onion, bell pepper and celery.Cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the sausage slices,combine with the vegetables by stirring .
  • When the sausage changes color to,add the rice.
  • Add the spice mix and the pureed tomato.Give it a good stirring to mix and combine all the ingredients well.
  • Add the stock or water,reduce heat to medium.Cover it , let it simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the rice is well cooked,stirring  in between to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Check and adjust the seasonings
  • When the extra moisture has evaporated  you can add your choice of a hot sauce if you prefer to have really spicy and hot Jambalaya.
  • Remove from heat and garnish it with chopped parsley.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!