Sundried sweet amla candy and the salted tangy amla supari are very good methods of preserving the fruit. These can then be used as mouth fresheners and appetizers. Every year ma used to make them in winter and all through the year we would munch on them. I learned from her and began making my own version.
I know I am going overboard with amla recipes but then this fruit deserves such attention. A potent source of Vitamin C ,it helps our body’s immune system, digestive system and is good whichever way you eat it. In Ayurveda Amla is used to make many preparations including the well known chyawanprash. This bright green translucent fruit is full of other nutrients too. You can Google to look them up.
Beginning from October fresh amla is easily available in markets. This is the time to eat it raw in chutney, or with salt. You can add it to many dishes ( daal, rice, tamdi, veggies, salads, juices, squash etc) or make a jam or pickle it, make a preserve in honey. Even make candy or salted mouthfreshener or mukhwas, like we will make today. My son thinks I am obssesed with it. Maybe I am, it is a key to good health and helps to detox the body among other things. :D
To make the Amla mukhwas/supari/appetizer take fresh unblemished fruit when it is in season. Wash it properly and pat dry. Now grate the fruit and keep aside.
In a plate mix rock salt, table salt, ajwain (carrom seeds), asafoitida and mix properly. Add this to the grated amla along with little ginger juice and lemon juice. (250 gm grated amla, 1 inch ginger juice, 1 tablespoon carom seeds, juiceof 1/2 a lemon, 1 teaspoon teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon rock salt (leveled).
Keep this in sunlight for 5-6 days. The drying time will depend on the amount of sunlight and heat it gets. Once the grated fruit changes colour , shuffle it so that it is properly dried.
The wedges you see is the Amla candy which is sweet. I will give a quick recipe for that too at the end of this post.
After 6 days the tangy amla mothfreshener/ appetizer/supari is ready to eat.
You can eat it in this shredded form or make small size balls. I prefer it like this.
The darker ones are from last winter.
It is a unique experience to have a taste tangy supari and then the sweetness that lingers in your mouth if you drink water just after having it. It is a good digestive aid too. They are so easy to make I have now stopped buying them. Do try.
This sweet dry Amla Candy is highly addictive and I eat 5-6 at a tme daily. This one in the pic is gifted by someone. I still have to make the candy for this season but it closely looks the same as the recipe is the same. To make this tongue tickling candy you will need 1/2 kg Indian Gooseberry, 100 gm Rock candy or mishri Or granulated sugar. (Rock candy is better than sugar for health reasons but these were made with granular sugar), 1 teaspoon Ginger juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Boil/ steam the Amla and separate the wedges. Throw the seed. Dry these wedges for some hours in the sun so that all the water evaporates.
In an air tight bottle place these wedges of amla, add ginger and lemon juice, stir and add the sugar on top. (If using rock candy or misri , crush the misri and add the powder on top of the amla wedges). Tightly close the lid and keep the bottle in sun for a few days till the wedges settle at the bottom. You will notice that once the sugar melts it has turned into a syrup. Open and stir the mixture with a clean dry spoon so that the sugar is properly dissolved. In 5-6 days of good sunlight they will soak up all the sugar. ( we did it with the Amla Honey preserve too )
Once the wedges have settled at the bottom open the lid and strain the wedges in a bowl. Use the syrup to make amla sorbet.
Now let the amla wedges stay in the strainer till all the water is drained from them.
Take them out in a thali/ plate and dry them completly in the sun. Dry them completely.
Once they are dry, chewy and brown in colour, rub in some powdered sugar or powdered rock candy (misri). Let them dry some more in the heat of the sun.
Your amla candy is ready to eat. Store in an airtight container and enjoy the goodness of amla all through the year.
You can make it chatpata or tangy by adding roasted cumin powder, rock salt, fennel powder etc. It will have a darker brown colour..
If the fruit is dried properly it will stay for a long time.
Enjoy them and do let me know if you make these.
I wrote some days back about the goodness of Amla or Indian Gooseberry. The fruit is in abundance these days and I am making full use of it. I love it in pickles, juices, chutneys, jams, and add it to rice, daals, salads etc. The amla tambli, amla supari and amla candy are delicious. I will try to post the recipes as I make them.
In this post we will make a simple preserve with honey. Honey has medicinal properties and this preserve is very good for immune system among other things.
The fruits cut in small wedges absorb the goodness of organic or wild honey and taste delicious. A tonic for those suffering from anaemia. I benefited from it immensely.
Some people use sugar for the preservation but I prefer honey for obvious reasons.
To make this preserve all you need is good quality honey and Amlas.
Make sure the containers are clean and dry.
Take fresh amlas and wash them with drinking water. Pat dry and keep aside. ( you can alternately cut raw ones into wedges and dry them in the sun to get rid of the water in the fruit before using).
In a clean, dry glass jar add whole amlas or wedges. If using them whole, do remember to prick them with a fork so the honey gets absorbed.
Pour honey over Amla wedges till they are totally immersed in it. Close the top with a muslin cloth or lid and keep the jar in the sunlight for 5-7 days.
The fruit will leach water so don’t worry. Just let it bleed all the water. Amla wedges will settle at the base full of honeyed goodness.
Once that’s done, take another dry and clean bottle. Transfer the fruit minus the liquid in the new bottle and add fresh honey.
The preserve is ready to eat.
Exposure to sun ensures the longevity of the preserve.
Use the leftover thinned down honey for second batch. I just keep it in the fridge till the next use or sometimes mix it in juices smoothies etc.
If using fresh sun-dried amla, just wait till all the water dries up and then you can put it straight in the honey. No need to change twice.
Both methods work fine. Be sure to keep the preserve in hot sunlight for a few days. Keep making a new lot when the first is about to finish.
Enjoy this delicious and healthy preserve daily to reap its full goodness.
Shakarkand or Sweet Potatos are in season and I am including them in my daily meals in one way or the other. Mostly I love to just roast or boil them to eat as chaat but sometimes I indulge in a dessert like shakarkand ka halwa or shakarkand ke gulab jamun. This is my first sweet potato halwa of the season. Sangeeta Khanna of Healthfood Desi Videshi has some interesting salads and other recipes with sweet potato that I plan to try. Sweet potatoes are very healthy and can be used instead of white potatoes. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
The Indian sweet potato has a nice pink skin and a yellowish white flesh inside.
Frankly I had no idea how creative one can in cooking with them. The tuber is so varsetile that it can be used for soups, salads, cassroles, chips, stir fries, and desserts of all kinds. It can be baked, roasted, boiled or used raw as per the need and taste. The leaves of the sweet potato are also edible. I mean the list is endless. one is just spoilt for choices.
Shakarkand ka halwa is a winter speciality. This sweet tuber is a favorite with people who are fasting and is part of the diwali faraal. Delicate sweetness of boiled mashed sweet potatoes, just the right amount of sugar flavoured with green cardamom gives it a unique taste. I don’t use milk in in the recipe but some people do.
Ingredients for the halwa :
Sweet Potatoes – 2-3 Medium size (1 cup boiled/mashed)
Sugar – (depends on the sweetness of sweet potato so add accordingly)
Ghee – 3-4 tablespoon
Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp
Almonds or Cashewnuts for garnish
Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Wash them clean and boil till they become soft. You can steam, microwave or pressurecook them too.
Once they are tender, take them out in a plate and peel.
Mash and keep aside.
In a heavy bottom pan heat ghee (clarified butter) or oil. ( I prefer ghee).
Add mashed sweet potatoes to the hot ghee and stir.
Let it cook on low-medium heat till the rawness is gone and a nice aroma begins to float from it. Add cardamom powder and saute some more. I saute it till it gives a slightly toasted aroma.
At this point stir in the sugar. Do taste the shakarkand to adjust the sugar. Mix well.
Now, cook it till it becomes nice golden brown.
Keep stiring so it doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan.
When the halwa gets a nice colour add shredded blanched almonds or roasted crushed cashewnuts. I find almonds taste better than cashewnuts. It is a personal preferance.
Take it off the heat and serve hot garnished with more nuts. You can sprinkle some cardamom powder on top.
Tell me how do you use Sweet potatoes?
I found good quality Alma in the local market and bought a large amount to pickle, preserve and use it in other dishes including chutney. Indian gooseberry jam has just the right sweet and sour taste that I enjoy. I added three very sweet Indian red delicious kinnaur apples to the jam to reduce the amount of added sugar. All of my jams and jellies have natural fruit pectin. I avoid the commercial one. I do not use preservative either.
This is a simple recipe that stays well for a long time. I don’t add apples to this jam usually but instead of making apple jam this time I thought of combining the two with a hint of cinnamon, some fresh ginger & zest of lemon. Oh boy ! the result was simply superb. It tastes awesome with toasts, muffins etc.
Here is an easy step by step recipe for the Indian Gooseberry Jam
Indian Gooseberry (Amla) – 1/2 kg
Apples – 3 medium (optional)
Sugar – 400 gm ( depends on how sour the amla is so adjust accordingly)
Grated ginger – 1/2 teaspoon
Juice & Zest of one small lemon
Cinnamon powder – 2-3 pinches
Clove – 3-4
Water – to cook
Wash and steam the Indian gooseberry or amla till they become soft. You can boil them or pressure cook. I kept a vegetable steamer in the cooker and give 2 whistles.
Remove the fruit in a plate and allow to cool.
Separate the fruit into wedges and throw away the pits.
Wash, peel, core and chop the apples (if using).
In a heavy bottom pan add the fruits, lemon zest, grated ginger and the spices along with water. The fruit needs to be totally immersed in water. (Approx half a liter)
Cook it on medium low heat and stir frequently till the fruits break down and resembles nice chunky amla/apple sauce.
You can pass it through a sieve at this point or leave it a little chunky as i did. Just mash it properly with a vegetable masher. You can remove the cloves while mashing. I often use clove powder so that the spice is not wasted.
Stir in the sugar. The mixture will become a little watery at this point. Don’t worry and keep stirring till it comes to boiling point. Keep the heat medium.
(Be careful as the mixture boils and bubbles. Depending on the size of your pot/pan it may splash.)
Squeeze the lime juice now and stir. Keep the heat low.
Remove all the froth that floats to the top.
Cook for some more time.
Do a plate test at this stage. ( Chill a plate beforehand. Drop some jam in the center of the plate and prod gently, if the jam wrinkles on prodding it’s done. If it flows or is saucy then cook a little more. Test again till you get the right texture.
Turn off the heat and let it come to room temperature.
Keep the sterilized jars ready for canning. I simply wash the jars with hot water and dry them completely before using.
Spoon the jam in the jars and close the lids tightly. Stirlization of jars is essential if you are storing jams/jellies for a longer period.
I make small batches so avoid the process.
Always use clean dry spoon for serving.
Enjoy the Indian Gooseberry jam with hot crisp toasts, rotis (flat breads), crackers, any of the swiss or french breads.
*Adding apple is optional. The jam will need a bit more sweetness. You can add honey or more sugar. I want to make it with unrefined sugar too. I think it should work fine. Give it a try and let me know the result.
Sweetness remnds me of jam filled cup cakes I had somewhere. Have you tried making them at home?
Indian gooseberries | Amla | Nellikai, dried or fresh, pickled or raw, I like them in any form. Apart from the usual culinary uses Amla also plays a major role in traditional Indian medicines. Unique in flavour, this lovely neon green fruit is in abundance. The ripe ones have a lovely golden yellowish hue. I have also seen some with a pink tinge or rusty-red, even white.
Though it is exceptionally tart and astringent, the water tastes sweet after a bite or two of this fruit. I love eating it raw with little sprinkle of cayenne pepper and salt. One has to develop a taste for it to eat raw but one can use it splendidly in chutneys, jams, murrabas (preserves), candies or grate it and add to vegetables, rice, daal, soups. salads too. Amla juice is considered very beneficial for many diseases and for cleansing the toxins from the body. Add amla to any of the fresh fruit juices to enhance its taste and nutritional value. The fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C (100gm of amla has approx 600mg of Vitamin C, over 240% RDI). One berry may contain Vit C of two oranges. That’s a lot.
The fruit pairs well with many of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The classic green chutney with mint/coriander and amla is part of dialy meals across India.
When choosing the fruit, always pick the ones which are not bruised, taut and full to get maximum flavour.
I love to make chutneys of various kinds and you can use amla in a variety of chutneys. This one is with roasted peanuts. You can use soaked raw peanuts too. I prefer the roasted flavour. I didn’t know that peanuts weren’t actually nuts but were part of legumes like beans and that boiling peanuts increases its disease fighting compounds.
Peanuts are heart friendly and I love them in all forms. From simply roasted/boiled/ salted/unsalted ones for munching to adding them in various recipes or even those coated in jaggery. Remind me to make peanut brittle or moongphali ki patti. yummiest thing ever. A few days back I made the first batch of peanut butter and it is vanishing rapidly.
To make Amla Peanut chutney you will need :
Handful of shelled, roasted or soaked peanuts
Raw Amla – 1-2 medium size
Chopped coriander greens – about 1/2 cup
Garlic pods – 3-4
Ginger – 1/2 inch
Green chilli – 2-3 ( as per taste and hotness)
Salt – as required
You can soak the peanuts in drinking water and use them with the papery skin they have. I roasted the shelled peanuts on low heat till they gave out the toasty aroma. Once roasted, remove the skin by rubbing the peanuts between the palms of your hands. Use peanuts that are clean, not bruised or blemished or broken. Remember to use a handful to roast any nut. Nuts don’t like to be crowded. If you put a large amount they won’t get roasted equally and burn too.
Wash and cut the Amla in wedges. Remove the grape like pit. Chop green chillies, ginger and garlic roughly.
Add all the ingredients in a grinder with a bit of water to make a smooth paste. I do not like the chutneys to be very smooth so I leave them a bit grainy ensuring that the ingredients have grinded properly.
Spoon the chutney in bowl and squeeze some lime over it (half a lime).
Serve it with almost anything. Use it as spreads for sandwiches like I did or pair it with sooji / besan ka cheela.
The chutney goes well with everything.
She was like that house upon the hill
that no one wants to live in
the one whose scarred walls
hold dark secrets and whose
darkened windows are like
empty eye sockets
that silent, uneasy house
which even the poltergeists avoid
no one ever goes there
but when you pass it there is
always a suggestion of movement
the sound of a door closing
a flicker of light in the emptiness—
haunted and haunting at the same time
We were sitting at the edge of the river
exactly where we’d met a few days before.
“There is a deathly silence today,” he said,
“‘Deathly’ is the wrong adjective for silence.
Death is not silent.
It is more vociferous than life and anyway
there is never complete silence,
the mind is continuously moving through
the quiet of the inanimate.”
Silent as the dead is a known idiom,” he replied.
“It is, so is the quote, ‘“silence speaks louder than words.’”
“Have you ever been to a cemetery, a morgue—
or better still a graveyard,
or stood ‘quietly’ where the dead are put to flames?
The noise of the dry bones overrides everything.
There is nothing louder than dead air,
a dead relationship, dead dreams, dead promises.
Death, my friend, is anything but silent.” I paused.
“Death may not be silent but silence can still be deathly
and that’s what I said” he insisted,
though I felt his conviction wavering a little.
“Silence is not just lack of movement or sound.
It is the same with death.”
I have decided to do a few posts with one of the millets as a main ingredient. Millets were once part of our daily food routine but then the usage of these traditional grains slowly dwindled away as rice and wheat took over. With recent studies about rice especially polished rice and increase in gluten intolerance a lot of people are going back to cooking with millets like finger millet, pearl millet, sama etc.for healthy living. The humble grain that was always stereotyped as food for underprivileged is now making it to the health food racks of super stores. I am glad that for whatever reason ,at least the millets are back and it is a good sign. I am reading and learning more about them as I experiment more with each one.
Millets are far more nutrition dense than rice or wheat. One can pound/grind them into flour or pop them to make delicious dishes. Their use is not limited to make rotis or flatbread. They are rich in magnesium so a good choice for those with diabetics. They also have high levels of calcium, folic acid, dietary fiber, zinc, iron, B vitamins esp niacin and B6 among other things. Easy to digest, they can be eaten by all age groups.
I have started using millet flour for making pancakes, muffins, breads, flatbread, dosa, laddus, idlis, paisam ( with sama) etc. The whole grains like bajra I use for khichadi, upma, Ragi ( finger millet) as a health drink in milk is one of my favorites. As I earlier said, the use of millets is not limited to rotis these days. I use mixed millet flour in winters to make theplas, rotis, bhakris etc.
Jowar flour ( sorghum flour) Laddus (laddoo)
Diwali is round the corner and I am making some healthy mithai these days in small quantity everyday. Today’s special is Jowar Laddoos or Sorghum flour laddoos. I used to make multi grain indian style granola or panjeeri every winter in large amount but now I make a little. I feel these laddus are more convenient to carry around and boys like them. Though the besan laddu remains a favorite along with the wheat flour + green gram or moong bean laddu.
The good thing here is the use of unrefined organic jaggery granules which I bought from I Say Organics. Usually I use the organic flour too. Jaggery adds to the nutritive value along with dates, and a mixed bag of nuts, and seeds. You can add them as per your liking. Use of jaggery also ensures less use of fat 9 ghee) as binding agent so these are low-fat laddus.
You can use jowar pops and flour both for these. It take just about 15 minutes to make 10-15 laddus.You can use palm jaggery or the sugarcane jaggery. I use both depending on availability. The laddoos are good source of iron and that’s why highly recommended for women.
Jowar ( Sorghum ) flour – 1/2 cup
Jaggery – 1/2 cup
dates – chopped roughly 2 tablespoon
sesame seed (white ) 1 tablespoon
mixed nuts – walnuts, almonds, peanuts
Raisins – 1 tablespoon
Seeds – melon seeds or magaz – 1 tablespoon
Ghee – 2 -3 tablespoon
If you are using Jowar grains then you will need to pop them first. Heat a pan well and toss a handful of grains. Never crowd a pan for roasting grains. They won’t get roasted evenly and might get burnt too. A quarter cup of raw grain will give you a cup of popped grain so measure and use accordingly.
Alternately use the jowar flour which is easily available in winter all over India.
In a heavy bottom non stick pan dry roast the flour on slow heat. Never hurry with these things. Good dish requires patience and passion.
Once the flour starts to give out a roasted aroma and turns slightly brown remove it from the heat and keep aside.
Dry roast all the nuts and seeds separatly. Chop the dates roughly. If you are using jaggery blocks then grate or pound them a bit.
Now, In a grinder add the roasted nuts,seeds, raisins and dates and the jaggery. Grind till everything mixes into a smooth guey texture.
In a bowl , spoon the roasted jowar flour and this mixture. Mix it with your fingers. Actually rub it in.
Now heat the ghee. Once it is hot just pour it over the mixture and mix thoroughly. Quickly make lemon size balls and keep in a plate.
Your delicious power packed laddoos are ready. Let them cool and then enjoy the earthy flavours.
You can store them in air tight containers and eat one or two everyday. Children love it so encourage them to have these healthy sweets. You can carry them in your bag while travelling.
Enjoy something healthy this diwali.
I come from a family where rajma, chole, kaali daal (urad daal or mah ki daal) were not the part of daily food. As kids we would head to the nearest dhaba or a small hotel (hatti) to savour these delicacies. When I began to experiment in the kitchen I tried making these “Panjabi dishes” but the taste would never be close to what we had in the dhabbas or at homes of friends. It took me some time to master the art of making perfect rajma, chole and mah ki daal and not to forget the delicious sarson ka saag and makki ki roti. Then there was no looking back. :D Rajma chawal or red kidney beans and steamed rice is one of my comfort foods and I relish it like nothing else. When I was younger it was a sunday meal special. Maybe alternate sunday meal. Then I got married into a family where it became an alternate day meal :D and I began to long for the simple varan bhat and all the home cooked simple meals from mom’s home. My MIL wont allow any “peeli daal (yellow daal” unless someone was sick :p but in her absence I began to balance the two different cuisines and it worked well for all of us.
Rajma again became my favorite over chole because of the wholesome feeling it provided. The creamy gently spiced curry with steaming rice in a bowl or a deep dish with maybe a dollop of butter or thick curds was all I needed to cease my troubles.
Rajma or kidney beans curry is synonymous with Panjab and Kashmir too. I love the Bhaderwah Rajma (the small deep red variety from Jammu). I find its strong color, meaty texture and robust flavour just right. We do get chitri wale rajmah and some other varieties too but these work best for me.
The key to making good rajma is that they should be soaked and boiled rightly and cooked with just the touch of spices added to onion and tomatoes. The Kashmiri rajma doesn’t have onions. They use fennel seeds powder that gives the dish a unique flavor.
Red kidney beans are so versatile that they are cooked in variety of ways, as a curry, in salads, in dips, as fillings with veggies and even in a pasta dish. while reading on internet I realized that bean rice esp red kidney beans and rice is popular in many other countries as well. Says a lot about this humble beanie wonder. The very picture of a nicely cooked rajma chawal makes you yearn for it right away. In Delhi you will find roadside pushcart vendors doing a brisk business selling rajma chawal per plate. People throng these pushcarts or small kiosks for a filling no mess lunch/dinner.
This is my version of the hearty rajma chawal. It is simple and tasty one pot meal.
Red Kidney Beans (Rajma/Rajmah) – 1 cup
Tomatoes – 4 medium finely chopped or (half cup purée)
Onions – 2 medium (finely chopped)
garlic -1/2 inch (2 tsp paste)
Garlic – 3-4 cloves ( 2 tsp paste)
Bay leave 1 or Curry leaves – 5-8
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Butter -1 teaspoon
Ghee – I tablespoon
coriander Powder -2 tsp
Turmeric Powder -1 tsp
Red chili powder or Kashmiri chili powder – 2 tsp or to taste
Salt – to taste
Coriander greens – 1/4 cup finely chopped
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – generous pinch
Ajwain – 2 pinches
Clean and wash the red kidney beans properly under running water and soak in filtered water for 8-10 hours. When in a rush I boil some water for soaking and place the beans in a casserole along with boiling water for 2-4 hours and close the lid properly. It works well. The variety I have used here doesn’t need too much soaking time.
Once the kidney beans or rajma is soaked properly, drain the pinkish water and wash the beans at least twice with fresh water. This ensures the removal of water-soluble phytates which cause flatulence). Always throw away the water in which you soak the beans.
Pressure cook kidney beans with at least 4-5 cups of water, salt, turmeric powder, asafitida (hing) and two pinches of ajwain (aids in digestion).Four to five whistles are usually good to soften the rajma. It should be cracked and soft but not mushy.
Now, in a cast iron pot or any heavy bottom pan heat the ghee. Add cumin seeds and hing to hot ghee/oil and when the seeds splutter and give out a nice aroma add bay leave or curry leaves which I have used here along with finely chopped onions. Keep the heat low to medium and stir.Once translucent, add ginger and garlic to it and stir again. You can add a little salt and a 1/2 tsp of sugar and red chili powder here so quicken the browning of the onions. Add a tablespoon of water and give it a stir. Sugar gives a nice deep color to the gravy and cuts the acidity of the tomatoes too.
Saute the masala till onions are nice and brown, . Add coriander powder, turmeric powder a mix well. Once all the spices are incorporated nicely and the masala browns evenly add the finely chopped tomatoes. Give it a good mix and keep the heat low so that the masala is more flavourful with the juices of onion and tomatoes.
Once the mix starts drying up and leaves the sides of the pot add the boiled rajma to it. Mix everything well and let it simmer on low heat. At this point , add chopped coriander leaves.
Alternately, you can microwave chopped onions, garlic, ginger, a small green chilli and tomatoes for 5 min in a covered dish then take out and purée them to make a paste. Add this paste to the boiled kidney beans along with the spices for a no oil quick fix. You can add butter while serving. I do this when in a rush.
By now you would be dying to get the aromatic rajma off the heat. The moment you notice a creamy texture to the dish, take it off the heat and serve hot with steamed rice. I have used old pona basmati chawal or 1/4 broken basmati rice here. It is soft, fragrant and easy to digest. The older the raw rice the better it will taste.
Many people love rajma but avoid it as it hard on digestive system but by adding hing, ajwain, curry leaves/bay leave and throwing the soaking water away you can enjoy this fabulous nutritious dish anytime.
Did I tell you that red kidney beans are power packed with healthy nutrients? Like many other beans they have cholesterol lowering fiber, low in fat they are good source of folate, protein, thiamine (vitamin B1), phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium. And they taste heavenly.
Do give my recipe a try and let me know how you found it. Include red kidney beans in your daily diet.