Tag Archives: food

Tastes of Bengal – Because life is so endlessly delicious!

Many people don’t realise the huge variety of Indian cuisine. Each state has its own distinct cooking style. After a week of deliciously spicy food in Andhra Pradesh, on returning to Kolkata I set myself the task of getting a better understanding of Bengali cuisine.  That brought me to Koshe Kosha, James Long Sarani, Behala, Kolkata, a restaurant that serves typical Bengali food.  It’s a basic restaurant, so don’t expect posh table cloths and the like, but it has amazing food.
My education started with the first page of the menu, which explains the Bengali cooking styles to the uninitiated.  This gave a good insight into the types of ‘curries’ that are found in this part of the sub-continent and the different preparations.

The menu was extensive, far too large to sample in one sitting – all the more reason to go back! Although we did try our best to taste as many dishes as we could!

We started with the Mochar Chop, a round soft pattie made of banana flower mixed with potatoes, onions, cashews and mild spices, served with mustard and tomato sauces.  Perfect for vegetarians and tasty for meat eaters too, but don’t overpower the subtle flavours with too much mustard. Rs.55


This was followed by a feast of flavours. Let’s start with some vegetarian options:

Lau Bori – This was one of my favourite dishes of the night, bottled gourd (squash) cooked with dried lentil paste nuggets. Wow!! Rs. 75

Potoler Dorma – parwal (pointed gourd/squash) stuffed with potatoes, ginger, garlic and spices in a sumptuous gravy with cashews! Delicious! Rs. 90

Narkel Chholar Dal – channa dal, with coconut chips and raisins giving it its slightly sweet flavour and interesting texture. Yum Rs.105

Sona Muger Dal – a simple mung dal perfect with plain rice Rs. 105


Pur Diye Begun Bhaja – aubergine (eggplant) slices stuffed with mustard paste and deep fried with a gram flour batter.  Although I love aubergine, the mustard overpowered this for me, so my least favourite dish of the night, but great for those who like mustard! Rs. 75


Then for the non-vegetarian (meat lover’s) options:
Chingrir Malaikari – Wow!!! My favourite dish of the night! Enormous prawns in a wonderfully tasty gravy.  If you are a seafood lover, don’t miss this!! Treat yourself  Rs. 395


Dab Chingri – This was something I had heard about and was keen to try it, even though a mild, sweet gravy is not usually my preference. It is prawns cooked with Panch Phoron (a mixture of equal quantities of five spices: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and onion seeds) and the juice and soft flesh of a green coconut.  It’s cooked in the coconut and is definitely something to taste, especially if you like something mild.  It was a rather costly Rs.415 but worth it for the experience!


Katla Kalia – This was also good. Katla fish is quite a meaty fish popular in Kolkata and is cooked in an onion gravy. Rs. 165

Kosha Murgi was the chicken curry of the night, served in a wonderfully thick yummy gravy  (sorry, I forgot to snap this one) Rs. 195

Kosha mungsho is mutton (goat) dish slow cooked in a very rich dark gravy.  Nice but quite heavy so you don’t need much of it. Rs. 250


Accompanied by Luchi – otherwise known as poori, a deep fried flat bread Rs. 65 for 4.

Basanti Pilao (Rs. 120) and Plain Rice (Rs.80)
If you are in Kolkata (or even Bangalore as they have a branch there too) and want to taste delicious Bengali food then head to Koshe Kosha, you won’t be disappointed!  Great food and great value.  Although don’t go expecting a beer as only soft drinks are served – try the sweet lime soda!  This feast above, with mineral water and soft drinks came to just            Rs. 3,000.
Koshe Kosha have numerous branches in Kolkata, we went to the one at:
12, Mondal Para 1st Lane, -700034, Near M.P. Birla High School, Behala, Kolkata (James Long Sarani)

Open 11am -11pm

Tel: 03364606401 (free home delivery – but unfortunately not to the UK!)

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Posted by on January 7, 2017 in cooking, food, India, Life, Uncategorized


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Food for thought this Lent

Lent is traditionally known as a time of prayer and fasting, a time reflecting on Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, where Christians give something up to provide extra time and space to concentrate on God.  For many 21st century Christians, and I count myself among them, fasting is not part of their spiritual life.  In the past I have made the token gesture of deciding to give up chocolate or cake; in a society where we are surrounded by such luxuries (there is always cake in our office!) it can be a challenge and a good discipline but I’m not that sure it ever brought me any closer to God.  It might be different for you, but I’m sure my motives were more about losing a few kilos rather than spiritual in nature.

I find giving up food difficult, mainly because I am a foodie, but also because I get headaches if I don’t eat frequently. Perhaps giving up a meal each day would allow me more time to spend with God. If I also gave up eating out I could give extra money to charity. Call it an excuse if you want but I decided this year that I was not going to give up food for Lent (although I’m sure I would benefit from a little less excess).


I’ve often heard people say that giving something up is negative and they are going to do something extra, something positive for Lent, like giving to charity or spending more time in bible reading.  There is certainly nothing wrong with starting new positive habits and charities need all the support they can get, so its a great idea.   For me this year in Lent I wanted to do something positive and spend  more time in silence, escaping the seemingly never-ending rush of life, being still with God.

However, to do this required ‘finding time’.  I needed to give up something  to ‘find’ that time to make a real difference to my spiritual life, in the hope that the habit started for 40 days would become lifelong.  This Lent has been about slowly changing my lifestyle so that I am able to get a better balance in my life.  I’m trying to limit my excessive ‘work’ time to provide more time for family, friends and stillness, trying to take a few minutes each day in silence (not just those moments on the loo) to sit and be with God, to be mindful, appreciate the beauty around me and to thank God for all He provides.


Books that have been helpful in this include Stephen Cherry’s book ‘Beyond Busyness – Time Wisdom for Ministry’. I’ve learned the difference between time management and time wisdom and have used various tools he suggests for making wise decisions about how I spend my time.  It’s a must read for workaholics and anyone in ministry.

The other book that has inspired me has been Mary C. Earle’s book ‘The Desert Mothers – Practical Spiritual Wisdom for Every Day’.

12745639_10208284540649310_1344397817639724825_nShe writes, “When we fast (whether it be from food or noise or busyness or buying too much), our fast is not only for our own health and deepening love; it is offered for the life of the world.  When we fast from mean-spirited conversation and from the need to be always in control and think ourselves to be right, we are allowing open space in which God’s healing silence can bring forth something new, if we give it time and care. When we fast from hurry and frenetic, non-stop rushing, we not only allow the distended stress of our bodies and souls to heal. We also practice one of the most subversive acts in this society: rest in God, trusting that God’s own recreating and restoring grace will be sufficient for the tasks at hand. We put aside the addictive behaviour of working as if everything depended on our own efforts, and allow real questions to surface…..the questions are an essential part of discovering who you are and who you were called to be.”

I don’t know about you but I so relate to this passage.  Up until now my life has centred around doing… I’m trying to balance the doing and the being.  Who are you and what has God called you to be?  My food for thought this Lent!




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Day 5 – Final day of Live Below the Line -97p

What a week!

It has been humbling to see how many people have offered to feed me.  Thank you all for your kind thoughts and willingness to be generous.  I’m sure if I had taken up their offers I would have eaten better this week than normal.  However, the rules of the ‘Live Below the Line’ challenge say you can’t accept donated food so I struggled on.  However, I’d like to encourage all those who offered me food to use the money that they would have spent on that to sponsor me, so that those who are really hungry benefit (see link below).

I’m starting to get better at knowing what I can cook at a small cost now and am making the most of my reduced vegetables.

Today I started off with a filling bowl of porridge (see Day 1’s recipe) costing 16p. This has been by far the best breakfast in terms of both cost and filling me up.


Lunch was a repeat of yesterday’s dinner of Vegetable Fried Rice.  However, I went round to a friends and we shared the portion (although I’m sure I had more than she did) so I guess I ate 20p worth.

That gave me 64p for dinner wow!! Just shows how when you share you are blessed! I felt almost rich….

I decided to make the most of the cheap veg I had bought yesterday, reduced in Coop, and make an adaptation of mashed swede (9p).

  • Half a swede, chopped (4p)
  • Half an onion, sliced (1p)
  • 2/3 tbs of oil (2p)
  • Pinch of cumin seeds,1/2 tsp of coriander powder, 1/2 tsp of garam masala powder and salt to taste. (2p)


Boil the swede until soft, drain and mash.

Heat the oil, add the cumin seeds, when they crackle add the onion and fry for a minute.

Add the coriander powder and then stir in the mashed swede, mixing it with the onions.

Add a pinch of garam masala and salt to taste.

This was served with a portion of rice (11p) and some Channa Dal (14p).

  • 70 grams of Channa Dal (7p)
  • 1 1/2 cups of water of water with a pinch of turmeric (1p)
  • 1/2 a small onion (1p)
  • 1tsp of cumin seeds (1p)
  • 1 clove of garlic, squashed and sliced (2p)
  • 2/3 tbsp of oil (2p)
  • Salt to taste


Put the channa dal, water, salt and turmeric in a pressure cooker and boil for for 20 mins or until soft. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker then soak the dal overnight and then boil in a saucepan until soft.)

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the cumin seeds; when they crackle add the onion and garlic, fry until crisp then add to the dal and mix well.



That gave me a huge plate of food for just 34p!  I’m getting the hang of this now 😉 and still had an amazing 30p left!!  At last, I could have the can of coke that I had been longing for all week out of the multipack I bought last Saturday, it worked out at 27p per can and tasted great.  You certainly appreciate things when you have not had them for a while.  And still 3p left!!

This week has made me think a lot about diet, how expensive it is to eat healthily and how essential it is to be able to cook with basic ingredients.  When I think of the obesity problem in the UK among the poor its often because the cheap food in our supermarkets is not the food that is good for us.  After all, I could have spent my pound on a large pack of doughnuts or a pack of 4 mars bars.  But eating healthily on a budget took lots of forethought and planning, as well as cooking skill.  Fruit and veg are expensive!

If the government want to really focus on the health of the poor then my recommendation would be that all children are taught in school not just how to cook, but how to cook healthy meals and a balanced diet on a budget.  ‘Living on a budget’ cookery lessons could be provided free of charge to all those who are on benefits or on a low income to help them maximise the use of their meager funds.

Next year I’m going to challenge all my colleagues at The Leprosy Mission to join me on this challenge (so gang, beware!).  In the meantime, I’d like to finish this series of blogs by saying a big thank you to all of you who have sponsored me.

thanks2If you have not got round to it yet then don’t forget to log on to to support the lifesaving work of ChildHope or donate to another charity that works with the poorest of the poor, such as All We Can or The Leprosy Mission

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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in cooking


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Day 4 – Live Below the Line 95p

Well I made it to Day 4 living on less than £1 a day, but I’m really tired and have been desperate all day for a sugar boost – but not allowed as it would risk my levels of nutritious food consumption!  I was going to start the day with porridge (that would have been cheap and sensible) but I gave in to a flight of fancy and went with beans on toast with a poached egg.

beansAt what cost?

12p for half a tin of Tesco’s value beans

4p per slice of toast (8p)

And 1 egg (6p)

I skipped the butter so a Brekkie grand total of 26p!

Lunch followed the same pattern as yesterday with Egg Bhujia and 2 chapatti, although today I use just 1/4 of a tomato, since I had had such an extravagant breakfast, and just one egg.

1 eggs, beaten (6p)

1/4 a tomato, chopped (3p)

1/2 an onion, chopped (3p)

1 chilli, chopped (1p)

Mustard oil (3p)

Salt to taste


Head the oil, add the chopped chilli and onion, fry for two minutes then add the tomato and salt, then cook until soft.

Add the beaten egg and cook (as you would scrambled eggs) until egg is firm.

Serve with 2 warm chapatti (2p each) (See Day 1 blog for recipe)

Lunch total 20p.  A saving on yesterday but an unsubstantial lunch!!  I felt very hungry all afternoon and was longing to get home for dinner and also longing for some vegetables.  I went to the Coop on the way home to buy some rice and just happened to find some vegetables reduced – 7 carrots, 2 onions, a parsnip and a swede for just 37p.  That approximately 3p per carrot, 2p per onion, 4p for a parsnip and 8p for the swede!  So my plan for egg fried rice became Vegetable and Egg Fried Rice, costing just 36p!.

Large serving of rice (15p)

1 egg (6p)

1 carrot, diced in small pieces (3p)

1/2 an onion, chopped (1p)

2 green beans, sliced into small pieces (3p)

1 chilli (1p)

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (3p)

1 tbsp soy seasoning sauce and salt to taste (4p)


Boil the rice and leave to cool.

Heat the oil; fry the chilli, onion, beans and carrot until soft (cover with a lid if necessary), add salt to taste.

Add the egg and scramble with the vegetables.

Add the rice and stir.

Finally, add the soy seasoning sauce and stir until all the rice is coated.


Wow delicious and just 82p so far today! But I had a strong desire for something sweet…. what could I have for 18p???

I rummaged through the cupboards. There was a can of coke, but that worked out at 27p from the multipack – too much! Then I spotted it, well hidden at the back of the cupboard, the last of the four kitkat chunky’s that I bought last week (4 for £1). I settled on half a kitkat – 13p!  Stopping at half was a challenge… so I decided to step away from the kitchen and food supplies and take an early night.

Day 4 total – 95p!

So if you are feeling sympathy with the cause, what can you do to help?


Posted by on May 1, 2014 in cooking


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Day 3 – Live Below the Line – 94p

Disaster! I gave hubby the last of the oats for his breakfast so no porridge for me this morning. I was planning egg for lunch, so egg for breakfast did not sound like a good idea.  What about beans on toast?  No beans! So I had to resort to two small slices of toast from the bread that was reduced at Coop, working out at 4p a slice, with a slither of peanut butter. I’m told that a teaspoon of peanut butter is approximately 5g. So guess I had 10g costing 13p (£1.34 for 100g). So my tiny portion of peanut butter on toast cost a whopping 21p.

photo 1

And what is more Buddy looked up at me with longing eyes when I was eating it so I had to sacrifice some!


Bad planning meant the most expensive breakfast so far this week and the least substantial.  Oats are on the shopping list today!  Lunch was better planned. With a delicious Egg Bhujia with chapatti (29p) on the menu…..

2 eggs, beaten (12p)

1/2 a tomato, chopped (6p)

1/2 an onion, chopped (3p)

1 chilli, chopped (1p)

Mustard oil (3p)

Salt to taste


Head the oil, add the chopped chilli and onion, fry for two minutes then add the tomato and salt, then cook until soft.

Add the beaten eggs and cook (as you would scrambled eggs) until eggs are firm.

Serve with 2 warm chapatti (2p each) (See Day 1 blog for recipe)

photo 2

That left me 50p for dinner. Hubby was on dinner duty and made a cheaper adaptation of our normal Rajma Curry with Rice/chapatti (45p) (well rice was the plan but we only had one portion in the house so we had to share the rice and add a few chapattis).  Rice is also on the shopping list for tomorrow! I’ll be off to the Asian shops where it is cheaper!  We had to reduce the normal number of onions and tomatoes we would used in the recipe, normally we would use three times the amount with the same amount of beans. So here is the adapted ‘below the line’ recipe.

50g dried Kidney beans (dried but soaked overnight) (500g for 99p, so 10p) – much cheaper than the tinned!

1 tsp of mustard oil (3p)

1 cm of ginger (5p)

1 clove of garlic (2p)

1/2 an onion (3p)

1/2 of a tomato (6p)

1 chilli (1p)

1 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of turmeric, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp of red chilli powder, 1 tsp gram masala and salt to taste (5p)


Soak the dried kidney beans overnight.

Make a paste of ginger, garlic, onion, tomato and chill (in the liquidiser/grinder)

Heat the oil, add one tsp of cumin seed until it crackles and then add the ginger, garlic, onion, tomato and chill paste.

Fry it for 2 minutes, stirring to stop it sticking.

Add a pinch of turmeric, 1tsp of chill powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp gram masala and salt to taste.

Cook for at least 2 mins (add a little water if it is sticking).

Add the kidney beans and add 2 cups of water.

Cook in a pressure cooker for 15 whistles (approximately 40 mins) so the kidney beans are soft.

Serve with boiled rice (11p) or chapatti (2p each) – we actually had half a portion of rice (6p) and 2 chapatti (4p) due to lack of rice!


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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Day 2 – Live Below the Line – 96p

Today has been really hard for me.  It started well with a tasty Banana Smoothie for breakfast. I used a brown overripe banana (reduced to just 5p) with 200ml of milk (10p) and whizzed it in the blender.  A great start to the day for just 15p.


However, by 11am I was really hungry and by 11:30am was tucking into my lunch, finishing off the potato, carrot and lentil soup from yesterday (37p) (see the previous blog).  That made for a really long afternoon. During my visit to London my eyes and nose were drawn to all the food outlets I passed – temptation on every corner.


I had to decline the offer of lunch out with ‘All We Can’ staff and trustees (much to my disappointment). As the afternoon board meeting continued my stomach began to rumble.  Watching the ‘All We Can’ video clip  was a good reminder about why I am doing this challenge. All We Can is a small international development agency that works with small partners overseas in hard to reach communities to build their capacity so they can support local development initiatives. It tries to do All It Can to address poverty and enable people to fulfill their potential.  Poverty is Personal!  So is the Solution! And just like ChildHope, who will benefit from the funds I am raising, All We Can is ensuring children below the poverty line have opportunities for development.

By the time I got on the train home I was famished and was being challenged to think about my food consumption. It was sobering to be reminded that over 200 million children will go to bed hungry tonight.  Organisations like ChildHope, All We Can and The Leprosy Mission work among the poorest of the poor to try to stop this happening.

So many people in the carriage on the train home seemed to be eating and drinking; not only did I not have any food but my water I had taken with me had also run out and I could not even buy a drink.  I was so pleased when I arrived home at 8pm to find that my dearest hubby had cooked me dinner.

Never have I so appreciated a simple meal of Aloo Bhujia with chapatti (34p), with a few grapes for pudding (10p)!


So I’m sure you folks want to know the recipe:

2 potatoes (16p)

1 onion (6p)

1 chilli (1p)

Mustard Oil (3p)

Pinch of Turmeric, 1 tsp panch phoran, 1/2 tsp of coriander powder, salt to taste (2p)


Thinly slice the potatoes, chop the onion and chilli.

Head the mustard oil, add the panch phoran, onion and chilli.  Fry for a minute and then add the potatoes, salt, a pinch of turmeric, 1/2 tsp of coriander powder.

Add 1/2 cup of water, cover with the lid and cook for 8mins, stirring occasionally (gently) until the potatoes are soft.

This was served with 3 warm chapatti (6p) – see the previous blog for the recipe. With a handful of grapes for pudding! (10p)

So if you are feeling sympathy with the cause, what can you do to help?

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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Day 1 Live Below the Line – 96p

Well yesterday was the first day today of trying to live on less than £1 a day to raise money for ChildHope and show empathy for those living below the poverty line.  I had to avoid going into the kitchen in the office as cakes and fruit were available and temptation nearly got the better of me at 10pm when I was still working on a proposal for DFID funding and needed a can of coke for an energy boost.  But I resisted temptation……  the good news is that I lost 1lb……

…… this was my food consumption yesterday – only drinks were glasses of tap water:

Breakfast – Porridge (16p)

50g of Asda Oats– (1kg = 75p , so 4p)

200ml of milk (99p for two litres – so 10p)

2 Teaspoons of sugar – 2p

Method: Place the oats, sugar and milk in a bowl, mix and microwave for 4 mins, stirring half way through. If it’s too thick, add some boiling water.


Lunch – Large bowl of Potato, Carrot and Lentil soup (37p)

1 potato (8p)

1 carrot (6p)

1/2 onion (3p)

50g portion of lentils (£3 for 2kg – so 8p)

Stock cube (Asda’s own 12 for 40p so 3p)

2 cloves of garlic (23p per bulb, so 2p per clove =4p)

Tablespoon of Oil (3p)

Green Chilli, salt and pepper (2p)

350ml of boiling water


Chop potato, carrot, onion and garlic into small pieces

Dissolve stock cube in 350ml of boiling water to make the stock

Fry onion, garlic and green chilli, until the onion and garlic turn pale brown

Add chopped potato and carrot

Stir in lentils

Add the stock, season with salt and pepper, and boil for 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked and vegetables are tender (alternatively use the pressure cooker for 5mins).

It looks a bit like baby food, but was tasty 🙂  I made double the quantity so will have the rest for lunch today.

 photo 1

Dinner – Egg curry with 2 chapattis (43p)

2 Eggs (£1.75 for 30 eggs – so 12p)

1cm of Ginger (5p)

1 clove of garlic (23p per bulb, so 2p per clove = 2p)

1/2 Tomato (6p)

1 Onion (6p)

Oil (3p)

Green chilli (1p)

½ teaspoon Turmeric, ½ teaspoon chilli powder, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds  and salt to taste (4p)

2 tablespoons of wholemeal flour (2 x 2p =4p)


Method – Egg curry:

Boil the eggs, leave to cool and peel off the shell.

Peel 1cm of ginger and clove of garlic; chop the green chilli, tomato and onion; mix with the ginger and garlic and liquidise to make a paste.

Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds when they crackle add the tomato, onion, ginger, chilli and garlic paste; add the salt and cook for 5-6 minutes

Add the spices and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly until the oil starts to separate from the masala.

Add 1 cup of warm water and bring to boil on a medium heat.

Add the egg and cook until the gravy thickens.

Method – Chapattis:

Mix the flour and water to make soft dough, divide into small balls, roll flat and cook on a dry tawa. Wrap in a clean tea towel to keep soft.

photo 2

So it is possible!  But means no treats……

So what can you do to help?

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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Uncategorized


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