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.
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.
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
black pepper ,to taste
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.
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.
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 !
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
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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
few mint leaves for garnish
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.
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
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?
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 🙂
All purpose flour/self raising flour : 3/4 cup
Cocoa powder :1/4 cup
Baking powder :1 tablespoon
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
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.