Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nutella Covered Crackers and Grandma and the Great Gourd

grandma and the great gourd

Grandma and the Great Gourd retold by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters. I had mentioned this book a couple of months back on this blog and we got our own copy from Amazon a few weeks back.

This picture book is a retelling of a Bengali folktale I have grown up with. My Dida, my maternal grandmother often told this as a bedtime tale and the image of grandma traveling in a big gourd was as exciting as intriguing.

The story summarized goes like this -- "Grandma who lived with her two dogs in a small hut at the border of the forest was invited by her daughter to visit her on the other side of the jungle.  On her way across the jungle, Grandma met a series of hungry animals: a fox, a bear and a tiger who wanted to eat her.  Being very shrewd she avoided the imminent danger by explaining to each, that she is very thin now, but will be plumper and juicier when she returns from seeing her daughter.  Grandma had a good time at her daughter’s home, eating lots of food and visiting.  But eventually, she had to return home to her dogs and her garden.  But how was she to get back?  That’s where the giant gourds in her daughter’s garden came in, and you will just have to read the book to find out how clever Grandma successfully manages to avoid the hungry animals and reach home safely."

I was very happy to read this book to my four year old as it brought back many memories.  The author tells the story in a very traditional way too which I felt was wonderful.The inclusion of noises in the story ,like the khash-khash of lizards slithering over dry leaves, the thup-thup-thup of elephants lumbering on forest paths, and the dhip-dhip of her heartbeat is the part both me and the girls liked best. I mean instead of using words like "lub-a-dub-dub" for heartbeat she used the more Bengali Indian synonym "dhip-dhip". I found my 4 year old enjoying these noises as much and the concept of grandma in the gourd really intrigued her.

The artist Susy Walter's  illustrations are bright and colorful and makes the story more vibrant.

I am not a book reviewer but I highly recommend this book for 4-7 year old kids who would love the illustrations and the simple story retold in this book.

Now the book ends with mention of a simple Khichuri, rice and lentils cooked together with vegetables, a staple in Indian homes. Ideally that should have been the recipe accompanying this post but to add more fun to book reading BS, my 9 year old made these nutella covered crackers instead.
This post continues from Bong Mom's Cookbook.

 Adapted from Tasty Kitchen's Chocolate covered Graham Crackers

In a microwave safe bowl add
1/2 cup Nutella
3 tbsp butter

Meanwhile line a cookie tray with parchment and place the crackers side by side. We used about 12 club crackers. Use less number for bigger sized crackers.

Microwave the nutella+butter for about 30 secs. When the Nutella+butter mix melts, carefully take it out and stir together. It will be hot so an adult should do this step

Drizzle the mix on the crackers so that the crackers are now covered in a ooey gooyey nutella coating.Don't worry about being perfect. It is not a work of art to be displayed in MOMA.

Pop in oven at 350F for 4-5 mins until they bubble. This step is optional and you can skip this and go straight to refrigerate in next step

When you see the bubbles, take out the tray, sprinkle or decorate as you like and chill in refrigerator or pop in freezer. The nutella will set to form hard coating on the crackers. Break them apart once chilled.

Finish them. Or if you are a saint store them in the refrigerator or at room temperature. I store them and they work perfect as a weekday snack.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sweet Potato Broccoli Parmesan Tikkis

These Sweet Potato Broccoli tikkis are inspired by Mandira's Sweet Potato Cutlets and Ikea's sweet potato medallions. More about the inspiration here.

I have packed them for school lunch along with bread. You can make a sandwich with them as the patty but BS did not like that idea, instead she wanted them separate. You can also wrap them in a roti and that is how she had them for dinner.

Cook in boiling water
2 sweet potatoes
2 small sized potatoes
half a head of broccoli chopped in large florets
Note: They have different cooking time so you have to do them separately or use microwave.

 In a bowl mash the potatoes and sweet  potatoes together. Sprinkle salt.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil. 

1 fat clove of garlic minced
half of an onion chopped fine

To the frying pan, add the cooked florets and saute for couple more minutes. While you are doing this, break up the florets with your spoon so that the broccoli florets are all crumbled into micro parts.

Add the contents of the pan to the mashed potatoes.
Sprinkle some Garam Masala.
Sprinkle salt to taste
Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of grated Parmesan(1/2 C makes it more cheesy)

With your fingers or the masher, mix all of it together to a uniform mix.

Take a small ball from this mix and then flatten between your palms to make a tikki. Make them to your desired size but not more than 1/2" thick. Place them on a tray lined with parchment paper and pop in the refrigerator for 30 mins.You can keep them there for  a day also.

When you are ready to cook, grease a flat pan/griddle with butter and heat it on the stove. Greasing is enough and you do not need too much oil. Place the tikkis on the pan and cook till brown. Flip and brown the other surface too.

Serve hot with some chutney. Also you can use them as a patty for sandwiches to be packed for school

Alternative Bake Option: I have tried baking the tikkis, brushing their surface with little oil and baking them at 350F for 30 mins, after which I have browned them on the tawa/griddle. The stove top is a better choice though.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chirer Pulao aka Poha(flattened rice)

While BS reads mostly the series and books popular here, I do try to get books from India like  Tulika books, Amar Chitra Kathas and such when my Mother is visiting. Folk tales are sometimes retold by me or the dad and I must admit, that does not happen too often. Often I don't remember the folktales in their entirety and I forget the nuances, which takes away the fun.

Chitra Banerjee Divakurani's new book for kids tells the story of a Bengali folk lore I have grown up with. I vaguely remember the rhyme that went with the old lady who was on an adventure, traveling in the gourd
"Lau gor gor, Lau gor gor"
"Buri jabe koto dur ?" 

More about the book is here:

GRANDMA AND THE GREAT GOURD by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters (Roaring Brook Press/ A Neal Porter Book, 978-1-59643-378-6, $17.99, March 5, 2013, ages 5 to 8)

·         Once upon a time, in a little village in India, there lived an old woman. Everyone in the village called her Grandma. One day, Grandma received a letter from her daughter, who lived on the other side of the jungle. "Please come and visit me," said the letter. "I haven't seen you in so long. I miss you." And so, Grandma begins a perilous journey to the far side of the jungle.  Can she use her keen wit to escape the jungle animals and make it safely home?
·         Chitra Divakaruni's sharp, rhythmic retelling of this Bengali folktale is complimented perfectly by Susy Pilgrim Waters's brightly colored, captivating illustrations.
·         Chitra Divakaruni's first book in the Brotherhood of the Conch series, The Conch Bearer, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Booklist Editors' Choice. She currently lives in Texas.
·         Susy Pilgrim Waters is an illustrator, designer, and painter. Susy lives in Boston with her husband, Keith, their dog, Tillie, two cats, and two bunnies. They have two grown children.

The book will be in the stores by March and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. I am going to get a copy for my girls for sure.

Now to the Chirer Pulao which I made on Monday and served as School Lunch for Tuesday. It is a simple lunch and also pretty tasty. You can add your own stuff to this depending on what your child prefers. I skipped the peanuts because this was for school and the coriander garnish is not something BS prefers. I also did not add any green chillies which I have mentioned in the recipe.

Chire or Poha is flattened rice and you can buy it from the Indian stores. Remember to buy only thick poha for this dish. 

Chirer Pulao or Poha


Cook 1/4 cup of steel cut oats in boiling water for 6-8 minutes. The oat should be cooked but have a bite. Once cooked drain on a sieve and rinse out the starch with cold water

Chop 2 small potatoes along the length or small cubes. Chop 1 carrot in small cubes. Defrost 1/4th cup of  green peas

Chop half of an medium sized onion. Peel and chop 1" knob of ginger in julienne

Fry a handful of raw peanuts till brown and crunchy. I skipped this for school.

Keep 1 cup of thick poha ready. We are going to soak it soon.

Start making the Chirer Pulao

Heat Olive Oil in a fry pan.

Saute the potatoes with a sprinkle of turmeric till they are golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Temper the oil with 1/2 tsp of Mustard seeds and 1 dry red  chilli

When the spices pop, add the onion and saute till soft and pink. Throw in the 2 green chilli chopped in rounds and ginger if using.

Next add the carrots and green peas. Saute and then cover to let the vegetables cook.

When the carrot is almost done, add the potatoes and finish cooking them.

While the veggies are cooking do this:
Take a sieve
Put 1 cup of poha/chire on the sieve
Now hold the sieve under running water and soak the chire until they are soft.
You can also soak the poha in water directly but I often end up with soggy poha that way. The sieve and running water helps me control the exact softness I want in my chire

Once the veggies are cooked, add the soaked poha/chire to the frying pan. Add salt to taste and toss the poha so that the vegetables and the poha are nicely mixed. Add the cooked oats and mix well. Add a tsp of sugar and cook the whole thing for a few minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

At the very end add juice of about half a lime and mix. Garnish with fried peanuts and chopped coriander.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pasta with Roasted Peppers, Greens and Ricotta

For tomorrow's school lunch I made this Pasta with Ricotta inspired by this recipe in NY Times. I added roasted sweet peppers, garlic and a a pinch of Garam Masala to jazz it up. The ricotta gave a very creamy texture to the dish though I used much less than the recommended amount for ricotta

1. Cook Pasta according to package directions. I used Farfalle for today's dish.

2. While pasta is cooking, roast about 5-6 sweet peppers. To roast, halve the peppers, toss in olive oil and  salt and then bake at 300-350F till you see the skin softens and chars a bit.

2. While draining reserve a little of the Pasta water. Toss the Pasta with olive oil and proceed with next steps.

3. Heat Olive Oil in a pan.

4. Add 1 fat clove of garlic minced. When you get the flavor of garlic add the spinach and let it wilt. I used a fistful of baby spinach

5.Next add the roasted sweet peppers. Add about 1 tbsp of some kind of pasta sauce. If you don't have pasta sauce then add maybe some ketchup or tomato paste. If using tomato paste you might have to cook the paste before you add the pasta.

6. Add the cooked pasta and toss it nicely with whatever is in the pan.

7. In a separate bowl add 1/4th cup of Ricotta cheese(I used 3 tbsp of Ricotta but felt more would have been good), a pinch of Garam Masala and little of the pasta water. Mix to make a thick creamy sauce. Add this to the pasta and toss the pasta and veggies in the sauce. Check for seasonings and then switch off the heat.

BS is reading a lot of books in the 39 Clues series. She also read Anne of Green Gables and Swiss Family Robinson.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Roti Quesadillas

Today BS's lunch was Roti Quesadillas, Juice, Banana for snack and left over Orange kheer for dessert. Auntie was very nice to make roti in the morning. With cheddar cheese in between the rotis, they were lightly pressed on the griddle to make the roti quesadillas. The dessert was not finished at school.

This week from the library sale I got the first book of the Narnia series for only a quarter. The book is called "The Magician's Nephew". BS is almost done with it and admitted she liked it. Now on lookout for the other books at the book sale.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rigatoni with loads of vegetables

Big Sis's lunch today was Rigatoni with lots of veggies(carrots, broccoli, zucchini from a pack of Costco's frozen vegetables) and meatballs, yogurt-granola parfait, a piece of chocolate and a banana. Yum !

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dal Rice

Today's lunch was super boring. But I am posting since that is what I had promised to do for this month. Lunch was rice, dal, some crunchy sev like thing and  a banana and ferrero rocher for snack.

Though lunch was boring and BS said the dal rice had lost taste the books read recently were interesting.

BS read her first book in the series 39 Clues and seemed to enjoy it.

We read Brahma's Butterfly for LS and she loved it immensely. This book is from Tulika and was a gift for the kids from  Sra.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ham sandwich with Indian chutney

BS took Ham sandwich made with whole wheat bread, chundo pickle and organic deli ham. Strawberries and a granola bar for snack. LS had Pizza at school.
BS does not like ham much but we started buying organic ham after LS showed an interest in Ham sandwich. BS now likes Ham sandwich as long as it is Indianized with some spicy chundo pickle dressing

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup -- School Lunch

Today was School Lunch. Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Tomato Soup for lunch and Yogurt Parfait for snack.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stir fried Noodles, Blackberries and cheese

Today's lunch was a stir-fried noodles with vegetables, blackberries and wedge of Laughing Cow strawberry cheese for snack. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Friday, January 11, 2013

School Lunch -- Nuggets and Chips

Today was Junk Day -- Friday. Lunch at school was this. School has healthier alternates of mixed green salad or deli sandwich or grilled cheese  etc. But of course BS did not even consider those.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gajar Paratha with Nutella and Yogurt

Today's home lunch at school was Gajar Paratha (paratha made with grated carrots mixed in the dough) rolled with nutella, plain yogurt and clementie. Also a small pack of organic chocolate chip cookies. I am not much of a roti paratha maker but Aunty(LS's babysitter who we hired  a few months back and who helps me a little with cooking) is a great one to make different parathas.

The yogurt came home.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quick Frittata, Bread and Juice

Today was Home Lunch. A cheater's Frittata with frozen vegetables, a whole wheat bread buttered and an Honest Kids juice pack. Snack was a yogurt parfait.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

School Lunch and a Clementine

Today was School Lunch day. BS usually does not like meat much and so most school lunches are a no no for her. She picks a few though and today's is one such. She even enjoyed it she said. For her morning snack she carried a clementine.

School lunches in our school district are $2.10 and looks pretty good to me so far.

Tell me about your school going child's school lunch program. Also tell me where this school is and the cost of the meal, if any

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pasta with Meatballs and Banana

Today's lunch was a Penne with meatballs and sweet peppers. The meatballs were from Costco and the sauce was store bought. The snack was a banana.

Books read: Math Verse and Science Curse.