An ode to the British summer with Petite Strawberry Cheese-cake

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The Great British Summer is here and how! We have been (so far! touch wood!!)blessed with a wonderful summer  this year and we are making most of it,as long as it lasts.British countryside has so much to offer that we are practically hopping around almost every weekend .Fortunately we live in the neck of the wood of one of the most scenic places in UK,called Peak District,so all we need to do is to pack our picnic hampers,and zoom off for some 45 minutes to land up in some lush and  scenic green.And how green and beautiful it is?..well check it out yourself!

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Talking about summer and summer day outs,how can I not mention about my favorite summer fruit.You guessed it right.I love strawberries,and I love desserts too(as if it’s still not evident from the number of my desserts post!).With not much time to spend in the kitchen (why should I ,when the sun is out?)I decided to make these quick  make-ahead petite strawberry cheesecake desserts to treat myself and my family.

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Easy- check

Wow presentation- check

Mouthwatering -check

Do you still need reasons to make these beauties?

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Ingredients:

  • Digestive biscuit or your choice of biscuit base -75 gm
  • Butter – 25 gm,melted
  • 250 gm cream cheese,soften
  • 50 gm granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry essence
  • 140 gm plain natural yogurt
  • Strawberries, to decorate

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Method:

  • Melt butter in a pan over low heat.Crush the biscuits in a blender until they resemble bread crumbs.Mix the crumbs and the butter until the mixture is soft and moistened enough.Spoon equal portion of the mixture in 6 shot glasses.Lightly press down and leave to chill in the fridge.
  • While pressing down your biscuit base,apply moderate pressure as excessive pressure can make the base extremely hard to spoon out.
  • Beat the cream cheese, yogurt,strawberry essence and sugar together with a fork till the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
  • Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the prepared shot glasses.Leave to chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until set.
  • Top with a strawberry before serving.

 

Note : You can replace strawberry with other berries of your choice for this dessert.

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Egg-less Gondhoraj Lebu Mousse

Gondhorajlebu mousse

Gondhoraj lebu,the literal translation of this bengali name for a particular variety of  lime means ”king of aroma”.Indeed this   lime stands true to it’s name.It is one of the best variety of lime in terms of smell, that I have ever come across.The mere mention of this lime when bengalis are in conversation can send paroxysmal of  joy that only someone who have smelled this lime will know.Hot and humid West Bengal summers would provide the perfect setting to indulge in the pure joy of having rice,patla mushoor dal (watery lentil soup)with  a bout of gondhoraj lebu squeezed in.Some time my dimma (grandmother) would  make daal with the leaf of gondhoraj lebu immersed in it ,to make it  aromatic and refreshing.This lime is generally bright  dark green,with a tough and hard outer surface  and much larger in  size than the ordinary key limes.The pale inner segment of the lime yields scanty juice but is always marked by overpowering smell that will compellingly bring one to the dinner table once it’s served with the food. But this fragrant lemon kind of disappeared(until recently) from  my life once I stepped out of Bengal.Gondhoraj lebu  is pretty much region specific and find it’s firm footing  in Bangladesh and West Bengal in India.

gondhoraj

gondhoraj_bong appetite

The scientific name of this lime is  said to be Citrus Limonia .This Rangpur  lime variety  got it’s name from a place called Rangpur in Bangladesh,where it is grown profusely.It is a cross between mandarin and lime,not very juicy in nature,but orgasmic in fragrance for sure.

bong appetite_limes

The distant cousins of our very own Gondhoraj  lebu can be found in South China as Canton Lemon , in Japan as  Hime  Lemon,as Limao Cravo in Brazil  or Mandarin Lime in the United States.These are all different variety of the  same family of Rangpur limes.

mousse_gondhoraj

My search for the ever elusive Gondhoraj lebu ,however,finally ended when I came across it in a Bangladeshi grocery shop in Birmingham,England.My joy knew no bound the moment I saw them.I grabbed a few and headed straight to the counter.We had our Gondhoraj happiness with lime wedges cut,squeezed  and smell inhaled with the regular  mushoor daal and bhaat(rice) .That  pacified our gondhoraj craving souls to a great extent.But some of them were still sitting pretty in the fridge side-cabinet.I decided to do some fusion dessert with my favorite lime variety. Inspirations were in plenty.The other popular aromatic limes like the Kaffir  lime or the thai lime  often used to make desserts like ice cream,white cake or the Carribean Key lime   known  to make refreshing cheesecakes were my point of reference.I decided to make some egg-less mousse with the signature fragrance of  Gondhoraj lebu.Mousse is a French food that incorporates air bubbles to give it a smooth and light texture.Contrary to popular belief it can be consumed as dessert as well as in its savory form depending on the choice of ingredients.From the colder spring we are gradually progressing to warmer summer here in UK ,while the whole of Bengal is all ready under the spell of summer sun.Just the perfect time to make and lap up this yummy cool dessert.

gondhoraj lebu

Ingredients :

  • Double cream : 600 ml
  • Condensed milk : 395 gm
  • Paneer or home made chhena : 250 -275 gm
  • Gondhoraj Lebu juice : 1-2 tablespoon
  • Gondhoraj lebu zest : 1 teaspoon

Recipe  :

Pour the double cream and condensed milk in a clear and chilled container. Whip the double cream and condensed milk together with a hand blender or an electric beater till it forms  firm peaks .Keep aside.Mash the paneer or chhena well to paste consistency ideally with the mixer grinder.Make sure the paste is smooth  enough without any hint of lump(mine was not smooth enough to my expectation ,hence the warning!),otherwise the mousse will be little grainy in texture.Fold in the whipped double cream and condensed milk into the paneer or chhena paste.

Firm peaks of the whipped cream  and folding in the condensed milk-cream mix with the paneer

Firm peaks of the whipped cream and folding in the condensed milk-cream mix with the paneer

Add the gondhoraj lebu juice at this stage.Give a gentle mix.Spoon the mousse mixture into the chilled serving dishes and top it with gondhoraj  lebu  zest.Scrap the lemon zest with a grater or a zester.Make sure you remove only the bright green zest and not the white pith ,which is bitter in taste.Seal the serving dishes with cling fling and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours or overnight.Serve the Gondhoraj Lebu Mousse chilled.

before after_gondhoraj  lebu  mousse

Note For this recipe you can use the store bought paneer  or make your own chhena at home,what ever suits you.Only make sure to drain as much moisture as possible of which ever option you are opting.

A simple fish curry with mustard greens : maach-er jhol shorshey shaak diye

maacher jhol  shorshey shaak  diye1

Machh -er jhol (fish curry),patha’r mangsho(goat’s meat curry)mishti doi (sweet yogurt),shondesh/sandesh(bengali dessert delicacy),luchi (puffed flour bread) are few thing among many others that hits the top of  the list when we are thinking of a bong’s culinary diary.And how can I be an exception! My tryst with mach-er jhol started since the time I can’t even recollect .Mach er jhol can  be very hot,fiery, rich gravy of fish with  profusion of spices like garam masala or can be a mild yet flavoursome curry with or without vegetables.That is how I have known my mach-er jhol since childhood.There is no one recipe for a machh -er jhol.Each Bong household has it’s own way through maach,jhol and it’s accompaniments.But this cant deny the fact that there are traditional recipes  like maacher kalia,doi maach or shorshey maach which have their position of prime in the heart of Bengalis no matter what.Interesting thing to note is, that a bong can use the same spice or tempering to make different sorts of fish preparations depending on the recipe.With the rich mustard paste they make paturi,while the same mustard paste can be used  with additional greens or any  vegetable of your choice to culminate into a mach er jhol,which is more like a runny fish curry.

Mustard greens (Shoshey Shaak)

Mustard greens (Shoshey Shaak)

I was back home after a year or so,was missing my Maa er haath er ranna (mom’s cooking) immensely- I did make a mention of that to her once over phone and mom was ready with home cooked buffet of food on almost all the days of my stay.Saying ‘no’ to her was not an option, so I happily gave in to mom’s culinary expression of love.This one dish that stayed with me – simple,unpretentious and easy to make ,this is a fish curry to be served with steaming hot rice.

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How Maa made  Shorshey shaak diye maach er jhol

Ingredients  

4-6 pieces of Rohu( Salmon/Tilapia can also be very good alternative)

A bunch of Mustard greens(Shorshe Shaak)

1 teasoon-Nigella seeds/Kalo jeera/black onion seeds

1 teaspoon-Turmeric powder

1 teaspoon – Red chilli powder

5-6 tablespoon-Yellow mustard seed paste

Salt to taste

Few green chillies

Mustard oil

fish and greens

Recipe

Wash and clean the scales of the fish pieces.

Wash and pat dry the mustard green leaves,separating them from the stem.

Prepare a yellow mustard paste with water(just enough to make a thick to runny mix), 2-3 green chillies and 1 teaspoon of salt thrown in.

Dry marinate the fish pieces with turmeric and salt,shallow fry them  in mustard oil till they change their colour to golden brown.

Temper the mustard oil left in the wok (after frying the fish) with kalo jeera(nigella seeds/black onion seeds) and a few  longitudinally slitted green chillies,sauté them slightly.Then add the yellow mustard paste mix and the mustard green leaves.Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a cup or two of  boiling water , give a good stir and let it simmer till the greens get well cooked.Check the seasoning.Add the fried fish pieces.Cook for another 2-3 minutes in low to medium heat.Put off the flame,cover the wok with a lid to give it a standing time of 2 more minutes. You can drizzle a table spoon of raw mustard oil on top of this fish curry, if you like the smell of mustard oil.

fish with mustard greens

Serve hot with steamed rice.