Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cheese Toast Triangles

Cheese Toast
Cut in Triangles
It was 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon and hunger pangs were gnawing and fighting for attention. I raided the fridge and came up with these quick, satisfying & delicious bites in a matter of 10 minutes! Instead of the pita pocket halves, regular bread slices would work just as well. Cut each slice of bread in half square triangles after toasting.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Burmese Baked Fish Stew

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Most of my Burmese dishes are inspired by what Mum cooked for us when we were growing up and more recently by friends on Facebook.  This dish comes together without too much fuss and is delicious due to its sour, spicy and salty overtones. When served over hot, steamed, white rice it is heart-warming and satisfying.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Burmese Sour & Spicy Shrimp & Potato Stew

Burmese Sour & Spicy Shrimp & Potato Stew
This stew is ideal for those days when there is not much time to put dinner on the table. The shrimp takes some time to peel, de-vein and stir-fry, but after that's done, it's a matter of putting all the other ingredients into a skillet at the same time and simmering until the gravy is reduced and oil resurfaces. The shrimp is added at the end and it's done! For variety, substitute shrimp with fish fillets, hard boiled eggs sliced in half or chicken thighs. Add chicken thighs along with potatoes at the start of the cooking process. Eggs and fish may be pan-fried like the shrimp and added back into the stew at the end. I've made this with baked fishground chicken and meatballs.

Mung Bean Lentils Tempered with Wild Celery Seeds

1 cup mung dal, toasted
3 carrots, diced
½ pkg. frozen peas
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. radhuni (wild celery) seeds
2 tsp. ginger paste
Salt to taste
¼ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ghee or melted butter
2–3 green chilies, left whole

1. Wash toasted lentils until water runs clear.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add radhuni seeds
3. When seeds start to sizzle fry carrots & peas for a few minutes.
4. Add lentils and ginger paste and cook until lentils are tender.
5. Adjust salt & sugar to taste and bring back to a boil.
6. Garnish with ghee and green chilies.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with steamed rice or tortillas.

Burmese Shwe Htamin - Rice Dessert Bars

Burmese Shwe Htamin
This Burmese dessert was inspired by a Facebook member, Corinne Watson, of our Burmese food group (Burmese Food Lover's Kitchen). I made several modifications to her recipe because I wanted to make coconut a more prominent ingredient and also used roasted sesame seeds as an additional garnish.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tuna Fish Cakes

Pan-Fried Fish Cakes
Oven-Baked Fish Cakes
These fish cakes can be made from canned tuna fish or any flaked white fish, such as tilapia. They can be formed into patties and pan-fried or baked in the oven at 350°F on a greased baking sheet. In Bengali they are called Maacher Chop and served as an appetizer at the start of the meal, accompanied by tamarind chutney, tomato ketchup or a homemade tomato sauce and a simple Indian salad of chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and cucumber with a lime & salt dressing.

Monday, December 16, 2013

How to Cook Perfect Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice Cooked on the Stove Top
Basmati Rice Cooked in the Microwave Oven
Thanks to my Facebook friends on Kitchen Raagas for introducing me to the perfect way to cook Basmati rice in the microwave oven. Here are the instructions for cooking the rice on a stove top and in a microwave oven. The ingredients are the same for both methods.

It takes 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes resting time) to cook rice on the stove top and 18 minutes (plus 10 minutes resting time) in the microwave oven. The advantage to microwave cooking is that there are no pots & pans to clean. I was also surprised to find out that rice takes only 18 minutes to cook in the microwave oven as opposed to 40 minutes in a rice cooker!

Red Lentils with Capsicum & Cucumbers

Masoori Dal with Cucumber & Green Peppers
This dish of lentils came about because I needed to use up half an English cucumber and half a green pepper or capsicum.  Red lentils and most other lentils taste very good with vegetable. This is a great way to boost the consumption of vegetables in our daily diets.

Basa Fillets in Yogurt Sauce

Basa Maach-er Doi Maach
Basa is also known as Mekong catfish and Swai. The latter has recently become available in mainstream grocery stores in our area. It is a white fish that has a more delicate flavor than catfish.

When I begin cooking a meal, I raid the fridge and lay out all the vegetables on the counter. Then items get paired with the three or four, sometimes five, dishes I plan to make. That's how half a red pepper or Kashmiri Mirch/Capsicum made its way into this fish dish. Half a container of plain Greek (or hung) yogurt was used in this dish and the other half in a Beet & Cucumber Raita.

In this way, every vegetable plays an important part in the meal and rarely, if ever, do I discard one because it's past its prime.

Reduce and keep the heat on low before adding yogurt to the pan. Do not allow the yogurt sauce to boil as this may cause it to separate or curdle.

Stir-Fried Green Beans & Chickpeas

Green Beans & Chickpeas
My intention was to stir-fry green beans with diced potatoes, but this was made at the tail-end of preparing dinner last night. Feeling too tired to peel and dice a russet potato, I went in search of a can of diced potatoes in the pantry. 

Lo and behold, this can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans/chana) was staring me in the face! I figured the texture was pretty close to cooked potatoes and size similar to diced potatoes which resulted in a delightful stir-fry that was peppery and full of texture. 

The next time, I will add grated coconut for more flavor.

Beet & Cucumber Raita

Beet & Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing
After cooking dinner yesterday, there were half a tub of greek yogurt and half a seedless English cucumber left, so I prepared this quick and easy salad. It is refreshing and cools the palate during an Indian meal.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Eggs in Coconut Sauce

Deem-er Malai Curry
Bengalis make Malai Curry with fish and shrimp, so why not with eggs? It's basically an Egg Curry, which most Bengalis love, with coconut milk added to it. I've gven it a South Indian flavor with the use of curry leaves. 

I'm fortunate enough to have a curry leaf tree growing in a little container in the house, so it's readily available. Curry leaves may be replaced with cilantro.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Spicy, Sweet & Sour Chicken

This semi-homemade recipe was inspired by Tyson Any’tizers Mango Habanero Flavored Boneless Chicken Wyngz. It has a sweet and tangy flavor with a kick of spice which prompted me to try my hand at a spicy, sweet and sour chicken. For readers who live in places where this snacking chicken is not available, I’ve provided instructions for making fried nuggets of boneless & skinless chicken thighs coated in corn flour, but chicken breast would work just as well. The spiciness in the sauce comes from sweet chili sauce, the sweetness from pineapples, ketchup and brown sugar, and tanginess (sour) comes from pineapple juice and rice wine. Play around with the sauce ingredients to suit your taste.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Burmese Coconut Tapioca Pudding - Thagu Oh Noh

Coconut milk is a common ingredient in Burmese desserts such as this tapioca pudding. I used instant tapioca pearls, but the larger pearls would look a lot better in this dessert. I've given the recipe for cooking large tapioca pearls from scratch but, for a shortcut, a package of Jello Tapioca Pudding makes a great substitute. Just replace the two cups milk with two cups coconut milk and bring to a boil for a great dessert. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Chicken & Potatoes Divine

This casserole took about an hour to prepare which includes the 40 minutes of baking time. It is a twist on Chicken Divan which uses broccoli instead of the potatoes used here. I used skinless boneless chicken thighs, but I'm sure bone-in thighs would taste even better. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

There were 17 guests for Thanksgiving Dinner this year, so we added a spiral cut mini ham from Honey Baked Hams to the menu. The fruit salad was light and refreshing. The Bacon Ranch Potatoes were a welcome change from the usual Mashed Potatoes and the Bacon Wrapped Asparagus was an addition to the side items. There were Hawaiian rolls as well as Meatball Rolls made with biscuit dough wrapped around pork meatballs. We celebrated two grandsons' birthdays with an ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery and had Peach and Raspberry Bellinis for beverages.

Thanksgiving Dinner 
Wednesday, November 27, 2013



Side Dishes 



Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

1 (14 oz.) can Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Open can and pour jellied sauce into serving dish.
Slice horizontally into circles and serve.

Fruit Salad

½ cantaloupe, peeled & cubed
½ honey dew melon, peeled & cubed
½ seedless mini watermelon, peeled & cubed
1 mango, peeled & cubed
12 red seedless grapes
12 green seedless grapes
2 Tbsp. mint, julienned

  1. Stir all fruits together and garnish with mint.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to mingle.
  3. Serve with party picks.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

This side dish is easy to prepare, looks appealing and tastes wonderful with or without the sauce. It was part of our Thanksgiving dinner this year.

2 lb. (48 spears) fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
12 slices bacon, uncooked
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Combine sauce ingredients, reduce to a syrupy consistency and set aside.
3. Divide asparagus spears into 12 bundles of 4 spears each.
4 Wrap a slice of bacon around each bundle, starting ½" from bottom of tips.
5. Secure bacon-wrapped asparagus with a toothpick & arrange in baking dish.
6. Place in refrigerator for half an hour, then remove toothpicks.
7. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until bacon looks fully cooked.
Serve sauce alongside asparagus bundles.

Shared this recipe on

Bacon Ranch Potatoes

The inspiration for these potatoes came from Oklahoma Natives on Facebook, whose recipe I adapted to ingredients that were available in my kitchen. For example, we always have fat-free half & half in our refrigerator, so that's what went into making this dish.  It was a big hit at our Thanksgiving table!

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1¼ cups milk
1 envelope Hidden Valley dry ranch dressing mix
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. Oscar Mayer real bacon bits or 2 bacon strips, cooked & crumbled

1.   Place potatoes in a saucepan and add cold water to cover.
2.   Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.
3.   Drain potatoes and place in a greased 9” x 13” baking dish.
4.   Stir soup, milk, salad dressing mix, ½ cup cheese, salt and pepper, in a bowl.
5.   Pour mixture over potatoes and bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 25 minutes.
6.   Remove from oven, sprinkle with bacon and remaining cheese.
7.   Cover and set aside for 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spanish Chicken Rice

Spanish Chicken Rice Bowl
Spanish Chicken Rice Skillet
GrandBoy #1 is spending the evening with us today, so this dish was made in his honor. I removed his portion before adding the green onions & chili powder. The fajita chicken strips can be replaced with shredded rotisserie or any form of left-over roasted chicken. The rice was cooked and refrigerated overnight which prevents it from becoming mushy even after all the tossing and turning.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stir-Fried Spinach with Potatoes & Peas

Palang Shaak Alu Karaishuti
I’ve noticed that if spinach is cooked uncovered, it retains its bright green color. Omit ghee to make this a vegan dish.

Cucumber Raita (Salad) with Dill & Mint

Raita is usually made with yogurt, mint and cucumber, all ingredients that are cooling to the body. Raita is often served cold as part of a festive Indian meal to help cut the heat in spicy dishes. The cucumber in this salad can be replaced with shredded carrots & raisins, chopped & blanched spinach, or a salsa of diced onions, tomatoes & green chilies. Unlike a salad which is eaten as a first course, Raita is eaten along with the different courses of an Indian meal.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chicken Keema & Cabbage - Ground Chicken & Cabbage

An easy chicken curry made with ground chicken and shredded cabbage that tastes great as a stuffing for pita pocket sandwiches or served over steamed Basmati rice.

Lau Chingri Posto - Bottle Gourd/Chayote Squash & Shrimp in White Poppy Seed Sauce

This is a traditional Bengali recipe that I have tweaked by adding the white poppy seed sauce and replacing bottle gourd with chayote squash. 

Red Lentils with Onions, Tomatoes & Garlic

This was one of Mum's favourite ways of preparing red lentils. It tastes great garnished with cilantro and a touch of ghee or butter.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Easy Meatball Rolls

Just Baked Meatball Rolls
Cross-section of a Roll
Meatballs & cheese wrapped in garlic bread. The frozen meatballs need not be thawed before assembling. They were simply delicious and the meatball inside the roll was soft and juicy.

Adapted from a Pillsbury recipe.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Mung Bean Lentils with Spinach

Kaacha Mooger Dal Aar Shaak

A quick and easy lentil dish using mung beans and a package of frozen spinach. It took exactly 20 minutes to prepare on the stove top.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chicken Tikka Masala

Whole Red Lentils & Carrots

Astho Musoorir Dal aar Gajar
It was quite surprising how little time it took to cook these lentils on the stovetop.

Cauliflower and Potatoes in Yogurt Sauce

Doi Phool Kopi
This was one of Mum's preparations for cauliflower that we all loved. Unfortunately, I don't have her recipe and all I remember is that it was white, devoid of all colour such as the yellow imparted by turmeric. So I tried to stick with all white ingredients and avoided the temptation to add tomatoes or turmeric.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Burmese Tohu Thohk - Chickpea Tofu Salad

Using tohu in a salad provides lots of protein and makes a refreshing mid-day meal. This is a cold salad utililizing tohu that has been setting up in the refrigerator for an hour to a couple of days. Tohu becomes firmer the longer it chills. The recipe that was posted last night makes 2 lbs. of tohu, a quarter of which (1/2 lb.) will be used in this recipe.

Burmese Tohu

Chickpea Tofu
A weekly challenge on a food group in Facebook with a main ingredient of chickpea flour or besan (sounds like baisin) as it is known in Hindi, prompted me to try this for the first time. There were certain foods in Rangoon, Burma that were best left to the experts, the street vendors, with the result that they were rarely, if ever, made at home. Ohno Khaukswe, Mohinga and Tohu were among these. After leaving Burma, all we were left with were memories of these delicasies but now, thanks to all the foodies on the Internet, our shadowy memories are coming to life in our own kitchens.

After chilling in the refrigerator, the tohu develops a firm and creamy texture. This recipe yields 2 lbs. of tohu and can be used as a garnish for Mohinga and as the main ingredient in various salads. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baked Tandoori Chicken with Mayonnaise

This dinner took exactly half an hour to put on the table. The boneless, skinless chicken thighs were very tender, the onions crystallized and the potatoes fork tender because the dish was baked at a high temperature.

Shrimp & Peas Pilaf

For a first attempt, this dish turned out to be a hit! I usually make a Chicken Biryani when company dines, but we needed a break from that. We're fortunate that shell-on shrimp (26-30 count/lb.) are available already cleaned of their digestive tracts.

Bijoya Lunch - October 12, 2013

October 12, 2013

Cockwise from top left -
Shrimp Pulao
Cucumber Raita with Dill & Mint
Chana Dal Cooked in Coconut Milk
Yellow Alu (Potatoes)
Nahari Gosht
Pineapple Srikhand
Tomato Date Chutney
Palang Shaag (Spinach) with Potatoes & Peas

Friends of ours from London, Ontario spent Bijoya weekend with us. The Shrimp Pulao and Spinach were Baby Anil's favourite dishes. He is one year old.
This meal fed six adults and one baby.

Burmese Black Sticky Rice & Coconut Pudding

This pudding is pure comfort food for a cold, snowy or rainy day. A good friend of ours who lives in the neighbourhood walked over last evening and presented us with a generous amount of black rice. She must have read my mind because black rice is on my list of things to get from the Oriental grocery store. Black rice is called Kao Hnyin Baung in Burmese and, during my childhood, was sold by street vendors for breakfast in Rangoon. So it has a special place in my heart.

Black rice, according to the information on the package, was known as “Emperor’s Rice” in ancient China and was reserved exclusively for Chinese Royalty. Loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin E and fiber, it is delicious with a sweet and nutty taste which, combined with its rich, dark purple color, is a treat for the eyes and taste buds.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pickled Eggs, Beetroots & Onion Salad

I love eggs cooked in any and all ways, and first came across a similar recipe to this in a foodie group on Facebook.  The pinkish-red hue on the surface of the peeled eggs deepen the longer they sit in the brine and absorb color from the beets. Adding onions is an adaptation to the original recipe and turned out to be a good idea because they add a crunchiness to the salad. The pungency of the onions is diminished and they actually are quite sweet and go well with the beets.  

To hard-boil eggs, place them in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes, remove from heat, cover and set aside to cool. Drain the eggs and cover with cold water before peeling.  

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Ground Chicken Stew with Chayote Squash

A one-pot meal/stew of
ground chicken & chayote squash
This one-pot meal is quite typical of the way the Burmese people make stew. All the ingredients are dumped into a skillet and simmered until the oil resurfaces and chicken & vegetables are cooked.

Eggplant & Shrimp in Mustard Sauce

Begun Chingri Shorshe Bata
Begun Chingri Shorshe Bata - Eggplants, shrimp and potatoes cooked in a coarse ground mustard sauce. It generally takes a while to prepare black mustard seeds for this dish. To remove the bitterness from black mustard seeds, they are generally soaked in salt-water overnight and then blended to a smooth paste. To save time, I decided to use Grey Poupon's Harvest Coarse Ground Mustard, which worked quite well.

Red Lentils with Cucumbers

Masoor Dal with Cucumbers
Mum's favourite way of preparing red lentils was with onions, tomatoes & garlic. She would sometimes add cucumbers to it, but always peeled them. As a shortcut, I decided to leave them unpeeled and was surprised at how good it tasted. The cucumbers retained their shapes, added a bite and weren't mushy at all.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Burmese Garlic Noodles with Pork - Hsee Chet Khawk Swe

Stir-Fried Burmese Garlic Noodles with Pork
Hsee Chet Khauk Swe in the Bowl
Hsee Chet refers to the garlic oil which is used to stir-fry and garnish this dish. Pancetta is a fatty bacon that the Italians use in pasta. Like fish sauce, oyster sauce and bacon, pancetta is highly salted, so please taste the noodles before adding any salt.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Laab Gai - Thai Chicken Salad

1st Try
2nd Try

The picture on the left is my first attempt at making a Thai chicken salad and it turned out to be really easy to make and delicious! The sliced shallots are not visible in the salad because I served them on the side in deference to those of my guests who do not like onions in the raw.

On the right is my second attempt at making this salad and is garnished with sliced shallots.

The left-over salad was combined with a package of mung bean noodles (kya zan or glass noodles) that were soaked in hot water for ten minutes. This naturally neutralized the seasonings so the juice of one lime, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and salt were added. It was delicious and made for a great lunch!