Sunday, October 19, 2014

Get Naturally Glowing Skin with Garnier BB Cream


About a couple of years ago, back in early 2013, I had guest posted on my friend Sophia's amazing blog, Panache, about the beauty that is Garnier BB Cream. I have to say, my opinion remains unchanged till date. I love the really lightweight texture of the Garnier BB Cream, and the fact that it really does not make my face look like I have put on anything, but rather, adds a lovely natural glow to it. For the last two years, it has been one of those few products which I have repurchased over and over again, and now I am onto another tube of it. One large tube lasts me around 3 months, so that's a big bonus too. I can blend it in super quickly, and then apply some kohl and lipstick, and bang, I'm done.

Of course, it does not cover dark circles, but it does provide a nice bit of hydration, and it makes my skin feel nourished. I have realized that adding a bit of Garnier Skin Naturals Daily Care Lotion during winter before applying it makes the application even more smooth, and it stays on for a longer period of time.

The key to using a good BB cream is to see how well it does two jobs together -  provide a natural glow to the skin without giving much coverage, and hydrating the skin. During summer and the rains, my normal to dry skin (as I am growing older, my skin has turned towards dry from being oily to super oily - Just my luck!) gets the right amount of hydration from this cream, and in the winter season, I need to put on a bit of moisturizer or cream underneath it, but that is the sensible thing to do anyway.

But hey, don't believe me, just see the proof here. All I did here was to apply a bit of eye liner, and some BB Cream. By the time this photo was taken, I had eaten off my lipstick and you can see how easily the cream gave me a lovely glow, right. That's the beauty of it. This is one of the best products for my medium skin tone, because it is not really very pigmented, and it does provide a good amount of sun protection, which is an essential thing needed by a girl who goes out virtually every day in the afternoon, and my skin needs something to protect me against tanning.

Most BB Creams, when applied more than a bit, end up looking ashy on me, and my skin tone looks weird afterwards. I have had this issue with brands which are far more expensive, and promise the world. The fact that Garnier BB cream does not claim all that is great, and yes, one color fits fair to medium-skinned beauties. But I would really love it if Garnier comes up with more shades for this excellent product.

If you are curious, then you should definitely head over to Garnier's BB Cream Page where you will find more details about the product and the benefits. Personally, I would say that it is one of the few products which I can recommend with ease to my friends and followers.

Disclaimer: This post is a response to Indiblogger's Garnier BB Cream Contest.

Forever Yogurt, New Alipore, and Announcing a little Contest.

chocolate and blueberry yogurt topped with chocolate pieces (snickers, specifically) and blueberry crush
Tucked away in the heart of Alipore, the main outlet of Forever Yogurt was all pink and purple, and bright and inviting. I walked up to the door where my friend M was waiting for me. They have a wall filled with funny and cute quotes. I looked around and met the guys manning the machines, who invited me in.

The concept of Forever Yogurt is quite cool. The idea is to get as much or as little frozen yogurt from the tap, cover it with whatever topping you want, and then, consume. You can choose from their huge range of toppings, which includes freshly cut fruits, crunchy muesli, chopped nuts, chocolates, blueberry and strawberry pie filling, marshmallow, and sprinkles.

I heart sprinkles.

I talked to Deval, who explained the concept in simple words. "It's simple, you see. Frozen Yogurt is essentially a healthy option when compared to ice cream. But its the topping that makes the difference. You want healthy? Add muesli, fruits, and nuts. There, you have a very healthy dessert! But well, you want it with loads of chocolate on top? Well, that sure isn't healthy, but its a very tasty thing."

So all you have to do is get your share, put toppings on it - and yes, toppings are unlimited - take whatever you want, and then weigh the final result.

The array of toppings were tempting. I loved the butterscotch chocolate ball (bottom left) and well.. you know that I love sprinkles right? Especially when they are rainbow sprinkles?

It's just dysfunctional of me I guess, but there you have it. I settled down with the first bowl of concoction - the Blueberry flavor was mild and fruity, and good for someone who is not an intense blueberry fan like me. As I was topping this with more blueberry filling, chocolate frozen yogurt and chopped snickers... well... ahem, I have to say that I was otherwise distracted. The strawberry was my favorite of the lot - the strawberry tang very prominent on my tongue. The chocolate flavor was milder than I would have liked, but nothing some chocolate sauce could not improve. My second cup proves it.

The final concoction is priced at 99p per gram, so knock yourself out eating more.

Now for the CONTEST. I was thinking of making people happy this Diwali, and Forever Yogurt has kindly offered a lucky reader of this blog a treat this Diwali. Please note, the offer will last till 30th October, 2014 and it is available at the Quest Mall as well as the New Alipore Outlet. To participate in this contest, all you have to do are the following things:

1. Like my page on Facebook.
2. Share the picture of the Frozen Yogurt and tag a friend who you would like to share it with. Find the share link here. Make sure when you are sharing the picture, its status is public, so I can check.
3. Leave a comment below with your Facebook name.

The lucky winner will get a voucher which will make him/her eligible for 2 cups of frozen yogurt from Forever Yogurt. Eat it yourself, or share with a friend this Diwali, because you see, sharing is caring. The last date for redeeming the offer is 30th October, 2014.

This contest will end on the 21st of October, 2014.

Also, Forever Yogurt's Grand Opening is happening at their New Alipore Outlet TODAY. Check out their Facebook event HERE and land Up to get a free cup of frozen yogurt. Remember, the offer is limited, so check the event before going.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Growing up with Dabur Chawanprash: Happy Memories

My childhood was all about running around like a hooligan, and basically creating mayhem. As a child, I was a happy, skinny kid, and I had a very active imagination. My mother sometimes reminds me of some of the pranks I did as a kid, and we both shudder, sometimes in mutual horror. Truthfully speaking, I was the epitome of a curious and active child, and books were the only way someone could keep me still for more than five minutes at a place. 

Thankfully, my family learned early, and gifted me with books whenever possible. After school, I would come back home, hastily finish my homework, and then settle down with a book. Of course, with the book, I would need something to munch on, or chew on, or taste. What better than some pickle or chawanprash? 

At that time, Dabur Chawanprash would come in these wide white and red dabba, and would have a layer of silver foil on top. My mother would carefully measure out a teaspoonful, with a tiny bit of silver on top, and I would savor it, slowly, making it last longer. Of course, I would admit to stealing some later on, and yes, the memories are still rich and vivid.

I have to say, my childhood was spent relatively free of any major illness, thanks to my mother and grandmother’s constant vigilance, and I grew up in a happy household. Dabur Chawanprash was as much a part of the household as Borolin, the common Bengali obsession. We still continue the tradition, and the reason is simple – Chawanprash builds up immunity over time and allows the body to fight illness more efficiently. 

Dabur Chawanprash contains a number of essential Indian medicinal herbs and spices, like Ashwagandha, Guduchi, Bala, Satavari and Viradikand. Ashwagandha is known for its anti-stress properties, and it is a strong anti-oxidant that helps reverse the signs of ageing and reduces chances of cancer. Guduchi and Bala are known anti-oxidants too, and they help build up the immunity of an individual quite efficiently. Satavari is used in Indian Ayurveda for memory boosting and strengthening the eye. Viradikand is known to rejuvenate the body.

Children today suffer from a number of issues related to poor immunity. This is further promoted because children nowadays are exposed to a lot more pollution and they eat a considerable amount of junk food. To combat these habits, parents should ideally give them something which would boost the body’s immunity considerably. Dabur Chawanprash boosts the natural killer cells of a body which immediately acts to fight virus and bacteria more efficiently, and it results in your child gaining more strength to fight bacteria and germs and grow up stronger and healthier. This is essentially the reason why you should give your child Dabur Chawanprash, to ensure that your child stays strong and safe from germs. Check out this link for more details about Dabur Chawanprash. Let's make an #ImmuneIndia.

Disclaimer: This post was a response to Indiblogger's "A Healthy Child Makes a Happy Home" contest in association with Dabur Chawanprash.

Of Past Diwalis....

You know, there is Diwali, and then there's Kalipujo. We Bengalis have two things to celebrate - Kalipujo first, Diwali next. They fall sometimes on the same day, but mostly next to one another - and right behind them come "Bhaiphonta", the Bengali "Bhaai Duj". My Diwali/Kalipujo is essentially two days of sitting at home cooking and feeding people - friends and relatives tend to come over to our place for some fun and frolic, but more importantly, these days are reserved for me playing with some of the kids in my neighborhood.

I never was one of those who was squeamish about firecrackers. As a kid, I would even help make it. My uncle would made giant "tubri", the ones which, once lit, will spill a burst of light straight up. Sometimes, he would stuff the mixture of iron powder (lohachoor) and a number of other stuff too tightly, and it would burst, and I was therefore mostly strictly told to not go near them when he lit them up.

Nevertheless, I did. Of course I did. I was a bad girl.

But Diwali to me was also about the homemade desserts, the bowls of rashamalai and gaajar ka halwa, the plates of nimki and gujiya, and the platters heaped high with luchi, with tiny bowls of aloor dum to keep them company. It would mainly be an all-vegetarian Diwali for me, and we would celebrate with bottles of cold Pepsi and cups of hot tea, and later in the night, coffee, to keep us awake through it while we played cards.

One fine year, I found myself stuck in Bhuvaneshwar for work during Diwali. Imagine my utter chagrin to find myself in a little hotel room, with no one to talk to, and only super polite hotel staff to keep me company. I was busy feeling sorry for myself, quietly in my room, missing my family, and having a lovely pity party for one, when suddenly someone pounded on the door. I waded reluctantly to open it, and to my utter surprise found a very old friend of my uncle on the other side. Apparently, my uncle was worried about me, and he wanted me to not be alone on Diwali, so he called up his friend and gave him my hotel address. It took no time for the friend to figure out in which room "Madam Banerjee" was located - after hearing his story the hotel staff, who was standing behind him - was only too happy to guide him to me.

So, I spent a happy Diwali at his place, getting fed many many good things, and I left with a huge smile on my face afterwards. When I saw this advert, I was suddenly reminded of that event, and felt slightly sappy. Probably, this is the season - the little nip in the air is back, and so is happiness for me. Also, my uncle's friend's in town, so maybe I will return the favor, what say?

Check out for the ad and more!

Disclaimer: This post was written in response to Indiblogger's #GharwaliDiwali Contest.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Nawabi Begun: Aubergine cooked in Royal Style

nawabi baigan
My mother is a strong hater of aubergine. Sorry, make that Brinjal. Oh no, make it Eggplant. Whichever name you might be calling it, she still will turn up her nose to it. I would, as a child, beg her to fry slices of aubergines in hot mustard oil, and she would do the work with her face screwed up in a mask of distaste. So, as soon as I learned how to cook, one of the first jobs I took over was cooking vegetables she disliked.

Nawabi Baigan

Nawabi Begun, or Nawabi Baingan was a dish which began on a rainy day with an enthusiastic me making a paste of a mass of cashew and poppy seeds. My intent was to make a rezala with mutton, but my father returned empty-handed, with the bad news that the mutton was sold out in our local shop, and a mass of baby aubergines in a bag. Sad but determined, I fried up a batch of it up, and made a gravy, and cooked the lot up. My mother tasted the gravy and sneaked out a bowl of it. I surmised, it must have been good.

aubergine frying

Start with around 500 gm. baby aubergines. You can, of course, use a large one, and cut it into cubes, but baby ones give this a lot of flavor. Cut them into cubes (I just slice off the top and then cut each in four pieces), and set aside. Toss them quickly in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and then place them, in batches, in a hot, greased pan, cut side down. Cook till they turn slightly brown on each side, turn and cook for another few minutes till the skin changes color slightly. Remove and keep aside.

Add whole spices

 Heat 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan and add a pinch of whole cumin, one large black cardamom, split, 3 whole cloves and 6 peppercorns. Stir them about till the cumin splutters, and then add 150 gm. finely chopped onions. Stir till the onions are slightly browned on the edges.

onion and ginger garlic paste

Add 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste. Stir it in. Then add 2 green chillies, sliced. Stir that in as well. Add 2 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala powder (or make a powder of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace), and 1 teaspoon Kashmir chilli powder (you can substitute with normal chilli powder, hot paprika, or cayenne pepper). Stir this well, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and fry for 1 minute.

tomato puree added to the mixture
 Stir in 1/2 cup tomato puree. I pureed two medium tomatoes and added it, but you can always use store-bought tomato puree. Mix well, cook till the mixture starts to thicken and release oil. It will take a bit of time, but make sure the tomatoes are well-cooked and oil starts to float up.

Fried Masala
Add to this 2 tablespoon of cashew-poppy seed paste. The ratio of cashew to poppy seeds will be roughly 50-50, so you can also add 1 tablespoon of each. Stir well to incorporate this, cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup of water, salt and sugar to taste, and the aubergines.

Nawabi Begun is done!
Make sure the water comes to a boil, then drop heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetable is done to your liking. Adjust seasoning if required, remove from heat, and serve with hot naan or rotis, with some freshly chopped coriander leaves on top.

Aubergine cooked in Nawabi Style

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mutton Coconut Bhuna, or Bengali Mutton Coconut Fry

mutton coconut fry
 Both my parents were blessed with parents who were food lovers. My maternal grandfather would buy my mother and her siblings long, thin sticks of Cadbury's chocolate, and treat them to the best food in Kolkata every once in a while. His wife was a legendary cook from Jessore, now a part of Bangladesh. She would never eat meat, chicken or eggs, but could cook them with an expertise which was mind-boggling. My childhood is littered with memories of my grandmother lowering bowls of piping hot, thick daal, pouring large dollops of ghee over it, and serving it with piping hot rice and a few green chillies. She would put pieces of potatoes in the daal, which would be then mashed up and consumed together with the rice and daal. 

mutton fry with coconut

On the other hand, my paternal grandmother was a widow by the time I was born, and so would only consume, what is known as satvik food, which meant, only vegetarian food without onion and garlic. She would also not consume certain kinds of lentils, because they were deemed unfit for a widow. We never wanted her to follow the customs, including her husband, but she did that anyway. She made me realize, as a child, the value of little things. I would never be allowed to sit pretty - there would always be something for me to do - whether it was needlework, or knitting, or peeling something, or chopping - by the time I was eight, I was good with some forms of embroidery, and knew the basics of cooking, enough to light up a gas oven and cook Maggi. Her mother was from Kumilla, and she was apparently a stupendous cook as well, from what I hear from my father. One of the dishes she taught my grandmother was a white mutton bhuna with coconut in it. It is definitely one of the most delicate things I have had in my life, and I tried recreating it recently. To be very honest, my version tasted slightly different from hers, but it was all kinds of delicious.

Start off with a kilo of mutton, from either the foreleg or the hind leg. Make sure the mutton contains a small amount of fat, because that will impart a large part of the flavor. If you are at your butcher's, you can always ask him to add about 30-40 gm. fat separately. In a large bowl, mix the mutton with 150 gm. plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, 1 tablespoon ginger paste, and 3 tablespoon onion paste. Add a big pinch of salt, and marinate for at least 5-6 hours, preferably overnight in the fridge. The idea is to make sure the mutton absorbs all the fat.

Make a paste or powder of 1 black cardamom, 2-3 green cardamoms, 3-4 peppercorn, 1 stick of cinnamon, 3-4 cloves, 1/4th of a nutmeg, 2-3 blades of mace, 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander, and 1 small bay leaf. If you are making a paste, add a bit of water while pasting. If powdering, roast the ingredients in a pan for 1-2 minutes before you make a powder.

Heat 2 tablespoons of refined oil over medium-low heat and add the reserved fat to it, cut into 1 centimeter cubes. You should ideally lightly salt the fat before adding it to the fire, because after you are done rendering as much fat as possible, you can always remove the pieces from the oil, let them cool down slightly, and pop them in your mouth. You can also add them back to the meat while cooking. I did that. Now, it will take about 10 minutes for some of the fat to be rendered, but trust me, it is worth the wait. Once the fat is rendered, add 1 cup of onions, chopped. Cook till the onions are golden brown.

Add mutton cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat, searing the meat well. Once the meat is well-seared, add 2 tablespoon desiccated coconut. I prefer freshly grated coconut, however, you can use some which is pre-dried. Stir well. Now, add 300-400 ml. warm water, mix well, and cook over low heat till the meat is soft, about 1 hour, or put in a pressure cooker, and after the pressure cooker reaches full pressure, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 12-13 minutes. Turn off the cooker and let it cool down naturally before opening.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a big kadhai, and add all of the pasted/powdered masala, and stir well to combine. Add the meat, and cook over high heat till the meat is mostly dry and oil starts to float up. Once you can see the oil starting to float up, adjust salt and sugar, turn off the heat, and serve topped with some coriander leaves and freshly grated coconut if you want. This goes brilliantly with both rice and rotis, but I prefer rotis over rice.

mutton coconut fry‎