Winter Food Festival 2013

I have been cooking a lot lately. Well, ‘a lot’ is probably an exaggeration. Let me rephrase. I am trying out new dishes these days. They just happen to be Bengali dishes that use some pretty unique ingredients. Let’s take Poppy seeds for example. I did not even know that you could buy those things in a market. And also that mustard came in several types — brown and yellow and also small and big, was a discovery for me.

 Needless to mention I am not inventing any recipes. I am using Bong Mom’s Cookbook as my source and trying very hard to not add a dash of punjuness to my dishes. It is tough I tell you. I mean how do you make something that has neither garlic nor ginger?

But that’s the whole idea. I mean there are only so many paneer dishes I could have made until my palette would have shown me the middle finger and said — is that all you can do?

 I like variety. And I don’t have to repeat my variety. You know what I mean? I like the idea of having “been there done that”. Take for example the kachoris I made the other day. I don’t think making kachoris is going to be my ‘thing’ for next few months. But I have done it and even if I never come back to it, I am ok with that. That’s just who I am.

So if you are a smart kid, you’d say — but practice makes it perfect. And I’d argue that perfection is the most over rated concept out there in the universe. You take the word out of the dictionary and you will see people live happily ever after. And all those people who claim that they enjoy the journey of perfecting their skills, I say crap! No, you don’t. You can only take it that long and then you crave for something new. That’s how it is.

So there we go — we nip it in the bud. Why can it not be about trying something new? Put in your 100%, enjoy the journey and the destination and when you are done, you are DONE. You might go back to it, you might not. Who cares? Pick something else and move on.

You might have felt a certain sense of “screw you, I have it all figured out” in my tone today. Well! That was another new thing I was trying. And now that I have done that… lets get on to some serious topics. Like what triggered the winter food festival.

I have some free time on hand. I am a foodie. I love trying out new dishes and my husband loves everything I cook. So where does that land me – For one, I can mess up any dish big time and my husband will still love it. I have the creative license so to speak. Also, I need to create new dishes to satisfy my palette. Restaurants don’t cut it for me after some point.

 On top of that I cannot waste my vacations shopping and partying. I mean the fact is that I LOVE grocery shopping! It gives me more joy to spend time in the aisles of Asian and Hispanic Foods at Whole Foods than in the lingerie section at Victoria’s Secret. Yeah screw me! But thats just how I am wired.

So on day #1 of the vacation I researched some of the cooking blogs and recipes that I had bookmarked some moons ago. That day we went grocery shopping and to Agam’s surprise we amassed two bags full of stuff that we were going to consume over the next one week. Our usual grocery trip does not last more than 20 minutes including the line at the counter for paying. In the last few months I have become pretty quick and to a certain extend a minimalist when it comes to prepping for our weekly menu. And hence two big bags full was  a surprise.

I cannot control the urge to buy things in a grocery store. It is the biggest high I know of. And yes I know what I am talking about. So when I saw a bottle of Christian Brothers’ Brandy, even though I swore not to bake or make anything sweet, I imagined a brandy soaked bread pudding in front of me, tickling my palettes. It was too much at that point and I surrendered to my Creolian side and bought a few more ingredients in anticipation of a finger licking bread pudding. It turned out to be bowl licking for sure.

So what all did I make-

An interesting salmon recipe called Shorshe salmon – it had a mustard tinge to it that made it quite special and we gobbled it up with boiled rice in minutes.

To pair with the salmon I made some Doi Kopi 😉 (Yogurt Cauliflower — in other words).

The next day, I was craving some rich lamb and so bought some Keema and made some Keema Porithusati (hahhah I am getting a kick out of some of these names … this is simple keema matar)

I tried some egg parota with the keema. It was like a crepe. I am still confused about this dish. I would have made it another way if I was to do it all over again. But hey I followed Bong Mom to the ‘t’. So may be thats how it was supposed to taste.

The same day I made my OWN RECIPE of Brandy soaked, dark chocolate, almond, raisin baguette bread pudding. It was effin awesome. Yeah I suck at being modest.

The next day I made hing kachori with aloo tarkari. The weighing machine was red at me that morning so I swapped the maida in the kachori with some atta. And although I initially planned to bake them, I eventually ended up frying them. The moong dal filling turned out yumm and the aloo tarkari was devilish. I think mustard oil played its role there. Oh I forgot to mention almost all the dishes above were made in mustard oil. For that extra bangla kick 😉

Yesterday I took the day off from the food fest and made Knorr’s Chicken soup with Trader Joe’s chicken wontons for lunch. For dinner we ate out.

Today, I am planning on making some kick ass Sambhar with house made sambar powder. Make the recipe a little bit complex and my taste buds begin to drool. I think the festival ends on Saturday night since Sunday we leave for the mecca of food – New Orleans to kick in the New Year!

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