Monday, 25 November 2019

Recipe 97: Coconut Ladoo

Festivals and holidays calls for sweet treats. But ones that are time consuming, are so upsetting.

This version of coconut ladoo takes really less time as well as ingredients.

By using dry coconut flakes, some milk powder and almost zero amount of ghee you too can achieve mithai-wala style coconut ladoo that tastes of ghee and khoya!
Technically, by nature coconut itself is loaded with saturated fats which gets released when heated. So, additional ghee/oil for cooking is hardly required.

Moreover, these ladoos even after sitting in room temperature for 2-3 days do not go dry and hard. They are as soft as minutes after preparation. And, if you store them in fridge, still they retain a lot of its moisture and are soft.
So lets begin!


  1. 4 cups desiccated coconut
  2. 1 + 1/2 cups milk
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 3/4 cup milk powder
  5. 1 tbsp. ghee
  6. 1 tsp. cardamom powder
  7. 10-15 small golden raisins


Soak raisins in water.
Keep aside.
In a kadhai/wok, add ghee and 3 cups of coconut.
On low heat, roast coconut till the color changes from white to off-white with few brown bits.
Add milk to hydrate the coconut.
Mix well.
Add sugar.
Mix till sugar melts and the coconut mixture begins to form one big lump.
Add milk powder, cardamom powder and raisins.
Press and stir till the mixture resembles soft dough.
Switch off the heat.
Allow the mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Begin forming coconut ladoo in the size of your choice.
In a plate spread the remaining 1 cup of coconut.
Roll each ladoo in it for forming a thin coating of dry coconut all around.
This is an optional step but recommended. Dry coconut coating on ladoo prevents the ladoos from stick to each other.
Best served in room temperature.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Recipe 96: Whole Wheat Eggless Brownie

Sweet treats that are healthy … are rare!

Yesterday on a whim I wanted to bake a brownie. But lack of cake flour and eggs made me sad.

It then dawned on me, what if I make brownie with whole wheat flour and use flaxseeds?

The result?

Not once can anyone guess my brownies are made with whole wheat flour and are eggless. They are fudgy, super chocolatey, and yummy.

The exterior is well baked and cake-like. But the interior is moist, fudgy and slightly molten.
If you prefer all cake, then bake the batter for 45 minutes. Else switch off the oven at 20 minutes or less for more gooeyness.


  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp castor sugar
  3. 1/2 cup vegetable oil or 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  4. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (click to buy Hershey's Cocoa Powder)
  5. 1/2 cup milk
  6. 2 tbsp. flaxseed powder (click to buy Flaxseed Powder)
  7. 1 tsp. baking powder
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla essence (click to buy French Vanilla)
  9. 1/4 tsp. salt
  10. 30-50 gms chopped milk chocolate (optional)


In a small bowl mix flaxseed powder with 5 tablespoon of water.
Keep aside.
Grease and flour a cake tin.
Keep aside.
Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large mixing bowl sieve flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Add sugar.
Mix the dry ingredients well.
Now add oil, milk, dissolved flaxseed along with the water and vanilla essence.
Whisk well.
Pour the brownie batter in the prepared cake tin.
Add the chopped chocolate on top and lightly dunk them into the batter.
Do not press the chocolate entirely else they will sink to the bottom of cake tin and burn.
Bake for no more than 20-30 minutes.
Leave in the oven for 15 minutes after switching it off.
Cut squares and serve warm or cold.

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Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Recipe 95: Bengali Basanti Pulao

As a Bengali, even if one has not tasted Basanti Pulao, one must have heard the name. Also known as halud misti pulao, it is a bright yellow, sweet rice dish cooked with ghee and garnished with fried cashews and raisins.

To understand the origin of this mouth-watering dish and how it became a part of a Bengali kitchen, let us first explore the history of pulao. Pilaf or Pilau is a rice dish whose recipe usually involves cooking in stock, adding spices and other ingredients such as vegetables or meat.

In one version, the origin of this rice cooking style can be traced back to 9th century. It is believed to have spread from Spain to Afghanistan and eventually to the rest of the world. That is the reason Spanish paella, pulao and biriyani bear some degree of similarity. The earliest documented recipe comes from books written on medical science by the 10th century Persian scholar Avicenna.

Another version points out that though the terms pallao, pulao and pilav were invented by the Persians and Arabs, it was already referred to as pallo or pulao in Sanskrit and Tamil much before the Muslim rulers invaded India. There is even reference of Yaggaseni cooking pulao in Mahabharata. Maharshi Charaka had mentioned in Ayurveda that rice cooked with meat, spinach, oil, ghee and miscellaneous fruits is tasty, heartening, restorative and nutritious.

Let’s come back to our Bengali version of the pulao. As per food researchers, Basanti pulao is believed to have originated from the Shahjahani Zard pulao.  An interesting fact to note is that the royal kitchen of Shah Jahan used sugar heavily in pulao and even in meat dishes! Eventually, the Bengali zamindars got influenced by the Nawabs of Murshidabad and started using saffron in their food. It soon became a famous celebratory dish among commoners too and saffron being expensive, was substituted by turmeric.

This pulao is cooked with a special kind of aromatic rice called Gobindobhog. As it is quite difficult to find this rice variety outside West Bengal (India), I have always used Basmati rice and it tastes equally good. There are various forms of recipe for this dish, but I have written the one taught to me by my mother, who in turn was taught by her mother. Let’s have a look:

Serving: 4 persons
Preparation time: 80 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


  1. 350gm Basmati rice
  2. 75gm ghee
  3. 5gm ginger paste
  4. 3 green chilies
  5. 1.5 tsp sugar
  6. 1/2 tsp turmeric
  7. 1/4 cup cashew nuts
  8. 1/4 cup raisins
  9. 5 pcs. cloves
  10. 4 pcs. cardamom
  11. 2 bay leaves
  12. 1 cinnamon stick
  13. 0.7 litre water
  14. salt to taste


Wash and rinse the rice and spread it on a paper to air dry.
When dry, transfer the rice to a bowl and mix in 65gm ghee, ginger paste, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves.
Rub the spices and ghee in a way so that each rice grain is coated.
Let it sit for one hour.
Take a cooking pot and heat the rest 10 gm ghee.
Fry the cashew nuts until golden brown.
Add the marinated rice to it and fry on medium heat until he rice becomes opaque.
Add the raisins and further fry for 2 min.
Boil water and add to the pot.
Add salt and sugar.
Give it a light stir.
Cover cook on low heat for about 15 min.
If the rice looks too dry, add some more hot water and further cook for 5 min.
Once the rice has been cooked to the perfect texture, cover and let it sit for 5 minutes before fluffing it.
Serve warm with any vegetarian or non- vegetarian dish of your choice.

Sohini Nandi

Hello from the Land of Santa Claus!
Professionally I am a Conservation Architect. That means I spend most of my time snooping around dilapidated and haunted buildings. I love the smell of old damp lime washed walls. Sorry to put you off with all the unpleasant details.
Now for the fun facts. I have been living in this extremely cold socialist country (its Finland, for the people who are still guessing!) for a few years. But I was in London doing my second post-graduation (University College London) and working on a few projects for the last 1.5 years.
Being a culture enthusiast, I have travelled far and wide in Europe learning culture and trying the unique local cuisines. Yes, I am a foodie too!
In SpicesnSecrets I will be sharing some of my experiences for similar lost souls in an alien country.
Cheers to life!

Monday, 23 September 2019

Recipe 94: Posto Shorshe Dim

Shorshe: Mustard
Posto: Poppy seeds
Narkel: Coconut
Dim: Egg

You must have heard of egg curry and egg masala. But a Bengali knows how to jazz up an ordinary egg curry and make it similar to Shorshe Illish (Fish in Mustard Gravy).
Here I am sharing a rendition of Shorshe Dim that has posto and narkel. I have also tweaked the recipe by adding onion and tomatoes for a thick gravy. Earlier I replaced tomatoes with 1/2 cup plain yogurt and it turned out equally good.

Try once this way, and you will be licking your fingers!

Ingredients for 4 Servings:

  1. 2 medium size onions
  2. 2 medium size tomatoes
  3. 5-6 garlic cloves
  4. 2-3 green chillies slit
  5. 3 tbsp. desiccated coconut (you can also use fresh scraped coconut)
  6. 1 tbsp. shorshe-posto powder/paste (click to buy Foodie Shorshe Posto)
  7. 2 tsp. haldi
  8. 2 tsp. red chilly powder
  9. 2 tsp. dhania powder
  10. 1 tsp. sugar
  11. 4 hard boiled eggs
  12. 1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves/dhania patta
  13. salt to taste
  14. mustard oil for cooking


In a small bowl dissolve shorshe-posto powder/paste in 1/2 cup water with 1 tsp. salt.
Keep aside.
Deshell the eggs and smear salt, haldi and red chilly powder.
Heat some oil in a kadhai and fry the eggs for 1-2 minutes.

Take it out and set aside for later use.
Meanwhile, in a mixer-grinder make a smooth paste of onions, tomatoes and garlics.
In the same kadhai, heat more oil.
Add the prepared paste.
Cook till mixture dries out.
Add salt, sugar, haldi, red chilly powder and dhania powder.
Sprinkle some water.
Now add the coconut.
Cook till coconut is well fried and gives out a toasty aroma.
Continue to stir on low heat till the masala begins to form a ball and leaves the sides of the kadhai.
Add the shorshe-posto paste.
Stir continuously and cook till oil separates.
Now add the fried eggs.
Add water for gravy.
Add green chillies.
Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle dhania patta.
Serve hot with steam rice.

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Recipe 93: Semolina Pound Cake

When I do not know what new cake I shall bake, I go back to the basics and make a classic pound cake.

From a regular cake, pound cake is denser and richer.
I add little yogurt and this additional dairy makes cake very moist.

I also reduced the amount of flour and instead add semolina and this does two things: A) semolina has a tendency to swell and soak up liquids. So, when added to the cake batter, during baking, your cake will definitely double in size. B) after baking the texture of cake changes. It is not smooth but rather grainy and bouncy.

If you want to go the traditional way, then omit semolina completely and add a total of 1.5 cups of flour. Also, no need to add 1/2 cup milk if not adding semolina.


  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup castor sugar
  3. 1/2 cup semolina
  4. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  5. 1/2 cup plain sour yogurt
  6. 1/2 cup milk
  7. 2 tsp. almond essence (click to buy Ossoro Almond Essence)
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla essence (click to buy Ossoro French Vanilla)
  9. 1 tsp. baking powder
  10. 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  11. 1/8 tsp. salt
  12. 2 eggs


Preheat oven at 150 degrees Celsius.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, yogurt, vegetable oil, vanilla and almond essence.
Meanwhile, sieve together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Now gradually mix the flour mixture and milk into the wet ingredients.
Grease and flour a cake loaf tin (20/11cm).
Pour all the cake batter into the cake tin and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30-45 minutes.
Let the cake be inside the oven for additional 15 minutes after switching off the oven.
Take it out and cool it completely in the cake tin itself and then unmold.
Cut thick slices and serve as it is or with whipped cream, custard or coffee.

*Affiliate Links

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Recipe 92: Gluten-Free Hazelnut and Chocolate Brownie

This brownie has a rich taste of hazelnut and chocolate with an almost fudge like texture. It is perfect for those following a gluten-free food habit. The texture is dense and after chilling in the fridge, it gets even more dense. The best thing is that the flavour is not overly sweet and has a delicate bitterness of the dark chocolate.
Follow my recipe for the rich and mouth-watering brownie you have ever tasted:

Ingredients for 12 servings

  1. 100 gms chocolate slab (70 % dark) broken to pieces and melted
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 2 cups hazelnuts (click to buy Dryfruit Hazelnuts)
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. 1/4 cup flavourless vegetable oil
  6. 1/4 cup full fat milk
  7. 1 tbsp. hazelnut extract/essence (click to buy Ossoro Hazelnut Essence)
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla essence (click to buy Ossoro French Vanilla)
  9. 1/4 tsp. salt


Preheat oven to 160 degree Celsius.
Prepare a baking pan by greasing the sides and lining the bottom with a baking paper.
Toast the hazelnuts lightly in a pan.
Cool them and then roll and rub them with a kitchen cloth. This will get rid of the skins easily.
Grind the hazelnuts to a fine powder texture in a grinder or food processor.
Beat the eggs till they are fluffy and almost double in volume.
In a large mixing bowl, pour the melted chocolate and whisk it with oil.
Fold in the beaten eggs and milk.
Slowly add the hazelnut powder and salt.
Fold carefully with a spatula.
Lastly, add the hazelnut and vanilla extract.
Pour this batter into your baking pan.
Cover the sides with aluminium foil and place it in a deep baking tray.
Fill the tray with hot water. This will ensure thorough baking and keep your brownie moist.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let it cool on a wire rack and garnish the top with some chopped hazelnuts.
Store it in the fridge for about a week and enjoy!

Sohini Nandi
Hello from the Land of Santa Claus!
Professionally I am a Conservation Architect. That means I spend most of my time snooping around dilapidated and haunted buildings. I love the smell of old damp lime washed walls. Sorry to put you off with all the unpleasant details.
Now for the fun facts. I have been living in this extremely cold socialist country (its Finland, for the people who are still guessing!) for a few years. But I was in London doing my second post-graduation (University College London) and working on a few projects for the last 1.5 years.
Being a culture enthusiast, I have travelled far and wide in Europe learning culture and trying the unique local cuisines. Yes, I am a foodie too!
In SpicesnSecrets I will be sharing some of my experiences for similar lost souls in an alien country.
Cheers to life!

*Affiliate Links

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Recipe 91: Soya Makhni

Soya is a one of the staples in a vegetarian household after paneer and vegetables.

So, to think of innovative ideas using the same ingredient becomes a must.

I have a recipe that is a lot like the Paneer Butter Masala or Kadhai Paneer. Delicious and creamy, this dish with soya is nothing like you have very tried.

A little cumbersome because of the steps involved, but once you try its easy and you will always make it this way.

There are quite a few ways in which you can enjoy this recipe. For example, you can opt out the capsicum. You can reduce the gravy for a more stir fried style wit masala. Or add more water for a thin gravy. Either way, the dish does turns out well.

I made today's dish using 50-50 quantity of both soya granules and chunks. You can go for just granules or just chunks. Either way, it wont affect the taste of the final dish. The only advantage with soya granules is that the gravy is much thicker because granules suck up the gravy juices and spread out evenly in the dish.


  1. 1 cup soya (half granules and half chunks)
  2. 1/2 cup fresh cream
  3. 2 medium size onion roughly chopped
  4. 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  5. 1 large onion diced
  6. 1 capsicum diced
  7. 1 inch ginger
  8. 4-5 garlic cloves
  9. 3-4 green chillies
  10. 3 elaichi
  11. 1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
  12. 1 tbsp. kasuri methi
  13. 4 tsp. red chilly powder
  14. 2 tsp. dhania powder
  15. 2 tsp. zeera whole
  16. 1 tsp. haldi
  17. 1 tsp. sugar
  18. 1 tsp. sauf
  19. salt to taste
  20. vegetable oil for cooking


Soak soya for 1 hour in plenty of room temperature water.
Once they bloom and double in size, squeeze out all the water and place them in a bowl.
Add ginger-garlic paste, 2 tsp. red chilly powder and salt.
Marinate soya and keep aside for later usage.
In a pan, heat some oil.
On high heat, fry the diced capsicum and onion.
Ensure that the vegetables are not soft and mushy.
After 1 minute of frying, take them out.
In the same pan, fry the marinated soya on high heat.
Stir continuous and after soya develops some brown color take it out and keep aside.
Now in the same pan, add some more oil.
Temper zeera and sauf.
Add the roughly chopped onions, tomatoes, whole ginger and garlic cloves.
Stir for a minute.
Add salt, haldi, red chilly powder, dhania powder, elaichi and sugar.
Stir well till oil begins to separate.

Switch off the heat and let the mixture cool.
In a blender jar, make a smooth puree of the onion-tomato mixture.
Heat a pan, pour the puree and let it come to a simmer.
Add 1 cup water.
Let the gravy come to a rolling boil.
Add the previously fried soya and kasuri methi.
Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes or till a thin layer of oil forms on top.
Now add cream and previously fried diced onions and capsicum.
Stir for no more than 1-2 minutes on low heat.
Serve warm with rice or paratha or naan!