Monday, November 29, 2010

Chire-Koraishuti, Unbeatable Bowl of Beaten Rice and Green Peas


There is nothing fashionable about a bowl of Chire-Koraishurti. Even if you dress it up in a crystal bowl, it cannot make it to a food magazine. But it does have a reputation of making a sneaky entry to your tummy through the doorway of your heart. So here I am writing about something so mundane like fried beaten rice (chire) and sautéed green peas (koraishuti) with an out-of-this-world enthusiasm.

IMG_3275_1 Mention the two words Chire and Koraishuti in the same sentence, and you will have three generations of women in my family melting to the sights and sounds of beaten rice and green peas in the middle of winter. My 82-year-old Grandmother thinks it is so good, she can take it intravenously.

Ingredients for Chire-Koraishuti are:

One and half cups beaten rice/ chire/chura/poha
500 grams green peas, frozen or fresh
2-3 green chilies, broken from the center
2 tablespoons mustard oil (for the peas)
Canola oil for deep frying (the beaten rice)
Pinch of black pepper powder
Some finely chopped red onion

Heat the mustard oil in a sauté pan, add the green chilies, let them splutter for a few seconds and then add the green peas. Season with sugar, salt and the pinch of black pepper.


Mix well, and cook covered till the peas are done. Do not overcook or dehydrate the peas. It doesn't take much time for the tender peas to become hard, inedible pellets.

Now for the Chire/ beaten rice. Heat Canola (or vegetable) oil to almost smoking, its best to use a wok. Scatter a handful of the beaten rice evenly in the oil. Do not overcrowd the wok. The beaten rice will immediately rise to the occasion, they will fluff up and become snow white in color. Almost within seconds.

IMG_3285 Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and drain excess oil on paper towels. If you want, season with a pinch of salt.

IMG_3291IMG_3293 IMG_3292 Serve the koraishuti bhaja on a bed or chire bhaja and top it with some finely chopped onions. Eat immediately.

IMG_3294 I like to have my Chire-Koraishuti in silence, listening to the crunch of the beaten rice. I also like to squish the green chilies which were cooked with peas with the back of my spoon into the peas, they add a whole lot of flavor in my mouth. A hot mug of chai is purely optional but extremely necessary on a cold winter day.

P.S. If you want bowls, mugs, tableware, etc. from CSN Stores, participate in the giveaway I am hosting this month. Hurry, the Holidays are almost here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Just for Christmas

Sit back and relax, and let the colors of Christmas give you a warm hug.

IMG_3150I am just back from some holiday shopping at my favorite nursery in our neighborhood – Sheridan Nurseries.  And look what I got for you. Tons of pictures which their Manager, Kevin let me take at my own slow pace.

IMG_3109 Do you think you can cut some logs, find some branches and make your own reindeer for the front porch?

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While I was surrendering to the cheer around me, someone very friendly and very lovable popped his head to say a Hi!

IMG_3115 And I saw Mrs S too, baking gingerbreads in her big gingerbread house.

IMG_3186 IMG_3179 IMG_3180 
While Mr Claus had his red boots on, Mrs Claus looked dainty in her white skating boots.

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Their home looked stunning with ornaments and fruits and flowers and lights.

IMG_3124 IMG_3137 IMG_3176IMG_3128 The trees were lined with soft, fairy lights and the reindeers roamed on the marshmallow-soft snow.

The table was beautifully decorated, the food was warm and the drinks were flowing like nectar. 
IMG_3129 IMG_3189IMG_3182IMG_3184 They had friends, family and loved ones over. Even Buddha was there!


Hope you enjoyed this little trip to the North. For more pictures of Christmas cheer, click here. (That sounds like poetry!)

Oh, and have you participated in the Holiday Giveaway on my Blog? Hurry, the last date is December 12, 2010.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

First CSN Giveaway, Just in Time for the Holidays

Win a $35 Gift Certificate to CSN Stores!

CSN Giveaway I was contacted by the CSN Promo Team some time ago for a product review or a giveaway for the readers in the United States and Canada. Its Thanksgiving today in the US. It also means that the BIG Holidays are just around the corner.

I’d like to use this giveaway opportunity from CSN Stores to say my THANK YOU to all the readers and well-wishers of PreeOccupied.

CSN Stores have a ton of items, from Modern Bedding, Coffee and Tea Serving Accessories, Kids and Baby Products, Kitchen Appliances to even Art and Home Dècor. Visit their site and browse through some of their great products.

Its simple to participate in this CSN Giveaway. Here are some ground rules:

  1. You will have to be a resident of US or Canada. Residents of other countries may enter for someone in the US/Canada. Please mention who you are entering for
  2. Visit CSN Stores and comment here about an item you like from there
  3. Let me know what you like or don’t like about this Blog
  4. Follow this Blog (via Google Friend Connect or NetworkedBlogs)
  5. Like my page on Facebook, Tweet or Blog about this giveaway
  6. Four entries per person will be allowed. Don't forget to LEAVE Your EMAIL and A SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry.

The deadline for entry is Sunday, December 12, 2010.  I will choose the winner for this $35 CSN Giveaway using

*PreeOccupied did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. This giveaway has been funded by, and is entirely for the benefit of my Blog’s readers.

**All photographs in this post are © CSN Stores.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Posto Bhaate, a Bangal’s Way of Inducing Sleep

When we were kids, Mum would make a coarse paste of Posto (white poppy seed/khus khus) and serve a small dollop of it with hot, steaming rice, a little ghee and a pinch of salt. Of course the adults also got a crunchy green chili to go with it. This combination would often start many meals in our home.

IMG_3092 Then Mum learnt this variation of the Posto Bhaate from one of her friends who is a Bangal.

Posto when made into a paste has a grainy-creamy texture to it. Its often added to mutton, chicken and fish dishes in Indian homes. The most popular Bengali dish is Alu Posto which is small cubes of potatoes cooked with green chilies and the poppy seed paste.


Poppy Seeds have a really short shelf life and often times you will see small insects in them, even though you did not open the bottle for months. I usually store mine in the fridge in a glass jar.


IMG_3099 Ingredients for Posto Bhaate are:

Half cup poppy seeds/posto, soaked in water for 10 minutes and sieved
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4-5 green chilies, coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons mustard oil

Grind the poppy seeds in the smallest jar of your blender. Traditionally, the lady of the house would use the shil-nora to do this. (My Mum compares the texture of a good posto bata to chandan/sandalwood. Smooth.)

Add very little water while doing so. You will see that the poppy seeds change color from a dusty brown to a whitish color. Stop when you get a smooth but grainy texture to your posto.

Transfer to a steel tiffin box that should fit in the pressure cooker. To the posto, add the chopped green chilies and onion. Drizzle the mustard oil and season with salt. Mix.

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Close the lid of the tiffin box and place it in the pressure pan. Fill the pan with water up to two-thirds of the tiffin box. Cook on medium-high heat till one whistle goes off.

IMG_3086If you don’t have a pressure cooker, keep the closed tiffin box in a thick sauce pan, keep a weight on the lid of tiffin box, fill the pan up to two-thirds of the tiffin box with  water, cover the pan and cook for 15-18 minutes.

IMG_3093 Serve the Posto Bhaate with plain white rice, if you have children, remove the chili pieces from their share and add a little smear of ghee, that way they will not feel the zing of the mustard oil.

IMG_3095 A little Posto Bhaate and some hot rice usually starts some memorable meals in our home. But I will admit, sometimes I have been so carried away by its simple taste, I have eaten all my rice with the Posto Bhaate. Trust me, its that good. Second only to the afternoon snooze it will induce.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Warmth of Green in a Handmade Bowl of Chutney

Its getting more and more difficult to spot a patch of green these days. Its gray, rainy, cold and you also see traces of sleet early in the mornings. Winter is making its presence known and how!

But am in a defying mood, just like that rebel without a cause protagonist. Just that I do have a cause. Lots of fresh coriander in the supermarket got my taste buds tickling. I call coriander/cilantro the Miss Congeniality of the Herb World. Chutneys, garnishes, or just to add some color, the humble dhania never fails you.

IMG_3021In India, if you are a regular with your vegetable wala, he will give you a handful of dhania and mirchi free! Here in TO, I have to pay close to a toonie for a bunch. But that doesn’t stop a die-hard Chutney-lover from wet grinding this bunch of green goodness and storing in a glass jar for at least a week.

Ingredients for Green Chutney are:

1 bunch of fresh cilantro/coriander, stems and leaves, thoroughly washed
5-6 fat cloves of garlic
7-8 green chilies
Half of the white portion of a small tender/green coconut/daab
Juice of one large lemon

Grind together all the ingredients, adding very little water. I added the lemon juice and the water from the green coconut.

IMG_3025The Chutney should be smooth to your touch. Season with salt and store in a clean, glass jar.

IMG_3028 IMG_3032 IMG_3033You can pair this Chutney with Alu Bonda or use as a marinade with some plain yogurt for chicken or fish.

IMG_3035While you are looking at that bowl of green chutney, please notice the platter and dipping bowl I made at Pottery School. I used warm green glaze for both before they were fired in the kiln. Both are food and microwave safe.

For more of my Pottery work, click here.

I had this green chutney with some Alu Bonda, something our Gujarati neighbors would make, with mashed potato, pomegranate, fresh coriander and green chilies. Do you want the recipe?

IMG_3040 I decorated my Bonda plate with the Chutney and green chili fry. Just spoon some chutney or sauce in one line. With the tines of a fork, make random strokes at the end of the line of chutney. I learnt this yesterday from Chef Bob Blumer while he was plating Sushi.