Meethi Khatai- Kachche Aam ki Launji – Raw Mango Launji – Two Versions


Kachche aam ki launji is a relish that is popular all over North India and thee are many ways to make it. It is a perfect summer side dish to have with parathas, poories, cheelas etc. I sometimes just take a small bowl of it and eat it without any accompaniment. The sweet and tangy taste of kachi ambiya and jaggery spiced up by red chili and simple spices makes it a perfect summer special. While we drool over the many varieties of ripe mangoes and relish them all through the summer we also savor the raw and slightly ripe raw mangoes to makes chunda, achar, takku, murabbaand various chutnies.

Have you ever eaten slightly sweet raw mango slices dusted with cayenne pepper ? If not then you are missing out on something utterly delicious. Do try it as soon as you get hold of the mangoes.

Here I am sharing two versions of this launji. One is what my mom makes. I remember eating this every summer since my childhood. We called it Meethi Khatai . We don’t peel the mangoes in this one like the Rajasthani launji. I also leave the guthali or the mango pit to suck the sweet tangy juices from it.

Both the recipes are for small quantity. You can adjust the ingredients for a larger amount.  These will serve four people.

Here is a simple recipe to make this version of Meethi Khatai or raw mango launji:

Ingredients –

  • Raw Mangoes – 2 ( about 250 gm cubed)
  • Grated or Broken Jaggery – 200 gm
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Black peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Whole dry red chili – 1-2
  • Asafoetida – 2 pinch
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Vegetable Oil – 1 tablespoon

Steps : 

  1. Wash, peel and cut the mangoes in 1 inch cubes with a part of the hard shell (guthali) intact. Remove the paper thin layer from the guthali pieces by scraping it with the knife or peeling it from one end to the other. ( you can see it in the first picture)
  2. Take a heavy bottom pot and put it on low flame. Add oil and when it gets warm put mustard seeds in it.
  3. Once the seeds start to crackle, add fenugreek seeds and hing. Adding them at this time brings out a nice flavour. Also add the whole red chilli.
  4. Take the pot off the stove so that the spices don’t burn. They should just get slightly roasted and give a nice aroma.
  5. Add the raw mango pieces, salt and turmeric powder. Stir well.
  6. Now add water to the mix. Add 1 1/2 cup first. The pieces should be immersed in the water.
  7. Stir well and let it cook covered on low heat.
  8. After five minutes check for the tenderness of mango pieces. They should not become mushy but the skin should become slightly soft. Al dente to be precise.
  9. Now add the jaggery to it and mix well. Keep the heat to medium low.
  10. Cook it covered for another ten minutes & check for consistency. It shouldn’t be thick. Add one cup of warm water and stir well. There should be enough liquid in the dish. Once the dish cools it will thicken so keep a good liquid margin.
  11. Bring it to boil and turn off the heat. Let it sit for ten minutes on the counter.
  12. Take a little Meethi khatai in a tasting bowl and check for salt and sweetness. You can add more jaggery, salt or red chilli at this time.
  13. The dish should have a slightly sour sweet taste perfectly balanced. Too much sourness or sweetness will kill the flavours.
  14. Your Meethi Khatai is ready to serve.
  15. Serve this delightful dish with hot chapati, paratha, poori or just spoon it in a bowl to relish it just by itself. The tangy sweetness will tickle your taste buds like nothing else.
 
The other version is slightly thicker and uses some other spices too which are mostly the mango pickle spices.

Pickle spice mix

Fennel seeds/ saunf – 2 tablespoon

Nigella seeds / Kalonji – 1/4 teaspoon

Mustard Seeds / Methi Dana – 1 teaspoon

This one tastes completely different from the one above but both these launjis stay for at least a month without refrigeration.
 
The steps to make this launji are same as above. Just add the whole spices when the oil warms up. When the spices begin to crackle  add, red chili,turmeric, salt , mango pieces and a little water. Follow the instructions given above to make a delicious tangy sweet launji. Unlike the first version I do not keep too much liquid in this one. This is more like a pickle.
 

Do try both these recipes and enjoy the goodness of the mangoes till it is in the season.

My Tip: Always choose unblemished raw mangoes. Taste for sourness and adjust the sweetness accordingly. Traditionally it is made a little thin but you can keep the consistency according to your taste.
Do not use mangoes meant for Pickles as their skin is hard and they are too sour.
Eat the meethi khatai a little warm or at room temperature. The other version with pickle spices should be eaten at room temperature. 
You can use sugar but the taste won’t be the same. Do adjust the ingredients as per your taste and the amount you make.
You can peel the mangoes id desired. I like t suck and chew on the flavorful skin so keep it. You can dice them in long thin slices too.
Do try making this delicious tangy sweet relish. If cooked properly this stays for about 6 months in the refrigerator and for about 2 months at room temperature. I make this in small quantity throughout the season and then make two batches for the coming months at the end of the mango season.
I have some more recipes with raw mango. do look for them through the search option.
If you make any of these recipes do let me know your experience.

Exile – 2


Dissident Voice’s Sunday Poetry section. DV is a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice.

 

Broken Lives 

In the stillness of the old house
my fingers leave traces on the
dust-shrouded sepias of broken lives—
their names only half remembered—
parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins—
in the courtyard of our ancestral home,
or surrounded by vast areas of snow
that now weigh heavy on my heart
as I close my eyes and find a dream
in which the mist of old memories
veils the far distant hills and
bare trees that stand transfixed
like bleached skeletons,
their summer songs exorcised
the grey of sorrow clouds the sky
I recall a bright wood fire blazing
fragrant with the scent of my homeland
making figures like themselves
to celebrate the coming of new snow
but that was before innocence was lost
and the snow turned red with blood
as their sculptures gradually died
and vanished from sight forever
in the years since I last saw snow fall
winter has become a grisly metaphor
for the loss of life and hope
and things that will never be again

Exile


the sky that final evening
was smeared red with death,
and a tangible odour of fear
hung oppressively in the air,
by the half-shut windows,
blood had petrified in my veins

mother moved about the rooms
unsettling the unnatural quiet,
the few things we still owned
were in neat bundles beside the door,
slowly, on his artistic limbs,
baba mapped the contours of home

he absorbed the fading colours,
let memories settle on his skin
as fragile as a fine layer of dust,
in a corner grandma sat quietly
huddled with her kangri,
her gaze lost in a different world

the children had long forgotten time
and surrendered to exhaustion,
from my place near the window,
I envied their restive slumber
as I watched our topographies of pain,
trapped between somewhere and nowhere

the eerie wail of an ambulance sounded,
gunshots echoed through the air,
choked on dust and soot and pain
we waited, and watched the day reduce
to ash, then we passed into the night,
quietly, towards an unfamiliar sky

First published in Dissident Voice’s Sunday Poetry section. DV is a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice.

Easy Cherry Frozen Yogurt


Home cultured yogurt is full of probiotics and when the heat of summer is upon us the then yogurt or curd based desserts and other dishes are the best. I have been making FroYo and parfaits as the temperature this May is soaring mercilessly.

Many of those who are unable to digest milk can actually digest yogurt without any difficultly and that makes it even more better.

FroYo is one of my proffered desserts. I love them over ice creams as they are lower in calories and healthier too. I make them without the help of ice cream maker so they are practically no fuss.

Cherries have flooded the market and this FroYo has dark cherries. Stone fruits are my favorites, mangoes, plums, cherries, apricots, you name it. I just love them. They are so versatile and you can use them to make such wonderful desserts, relish, compote etc.

I buy fresh fruit and freeze for making FroYo. Frozen fruit gives a beautiful creamy texture to it.

As a sweetener I use honey.  It is a better option than sugar. Honey also prevents icicles to form while freezing the dessert.

Once the cherry frozen yogurt is ready, you can either serve it immediately as a soft serve or freeze it for a fe hours for a more ice cream like texture like I did.

The tart yogurt, the sweet cherries , a hint of lime is all you need to reach a state of Nirvana.

You can also use Greek yogurt and frozen cherries but I prefer fresh ones.

Now for the delicious low calorie Cherry FroYO 

 

Ingredients:

Black Sweet Cherries (pitted and frozen)- 1 cup

Hung yogurt/ Greek yogurt – 3/4 Cup

Lemon Juice – 1 teaspoon

Honey – 1 tablespoon ( don’t use extra sweetener, let cherries do the job)

Steps : 

Pit the cherries and freeze for two hours

Hang the curd/ yogurt over night or for 3-4 hours till completely drained of liquid.

Freeze the yogurt as well. We will chop it up an hour before using.

Take out the yogurt from the freezer and chop it up. Put it in a glass bowl.

Now take out the cherries, thaw them a little and then remove 1/4 in a bowl place rest of them in the blender and process till smooth.

Take out the cherry puree in a bowl and put the remaining cherries in the blender , give a swirl so it becomes a chunky mix. Remove.

Now, add hung yogurt , lemon juice and honey in the blender and process till smooth. Add the cherry puree to it and mix. Add the chunky cherries to the cherry yogurt and mix well.

Scrape the sides of the blender bowl and bland again to ensure there are no lumps.

Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.

In a freezer safe bin pour the cherry yogurt mixture. Tap the bin on the counter 2-3 times to remove air gaps. Cover and put in the freezer.

Take out and whisk the mixture after every 30 min and freeze again. I usually don’t need to do it if using honey or just do it once. Freeze for 4-5 hours or over night to get the ice cream like consistency.

You can also serve it as soft serve after a few hours.

Frozen Yogurt is best consumed on the same day but you can freeze it for a few days.

Serve it with a few fresh cherries on the side and a fresh sprig of mint at  the top.

 

As I munched on the leftover cherries I saw a box with a few digestive biscuits. An itch to try something new was too much to ignore so I decided to try something different. I took 6 of the biscuits added a slice of salted butter and gave it a churn in the mixer to make a base for a cheesecake with FroYo. It was just an experiment. I wasn’t sure if the frozen yogurt cheese cake would set if kept in the freezer.

I sprayed the springform pan with some oil, layered it with the biscuit crumble tightly just like we do for a proper cheesecake and kept in the fridge to chill. After half an hour I poured the FroYo over it, topped it with homemade cherry compote and covered the pan with cling wrap properly.

I kept this in the freezer for 2-3 hours and the result was just wow. I still feel there is a need for improvement but the cheesecake was yum. This is to be eaten immediately or the frozen yogurt will melt away leaving a slush. 😛

Perhaps it would stay better in a jar. Something to do next time. 😀

 

 

Mango, Cherry Parfait With Popped Amaranth Seeds


I love to use amaranth in my recipes. Ramdana, as it is called in Hindi, is a superfood and has higher value of protein than quinoa (9.3gm per cup) . Popped ramdana/rajgira is easily available too. I find it to be a very good choice for breakfast cereal. The versatile popped amaranth can be used in many ways. I have some recipes with Amaranth on the blog, please look them up.

Parfaits are the best breakfast options in summer. Chilled home cultured yogurt, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, raisins or any other dried fruits like figs, dates etc., and homemade fruit compote or honey, you can add layers and layers of anything of your choice and create mind blowing variations of parfaits. You can use, flattened rice (poha) or ramdana or granola / muesli in a parfait, the options are endless.

Mangoes and cherries are in season and while I was freezing cherries for cherry FroYo I decided to make a parfait with mangoes to beat the afternoon heat. The cherries looked so tempting that I couldn’t resist adding them to the parfait and trust me the unique cherry mango flavor is delicious. The chewy ramdana added to the fun. A perfect treat on sun scorched day like today.  ( crush some of the cherries to release the deep red juice over the white yogurt.

For this easy fruity hung curd Parfait you will need,

Ingredients:

Ripe Mango – 1

Sweet Fresh Cherries – 1/2 cup pitted

Ramdana or popped amaranth – 4 tablespoon

Honey – 2 tablespoon

Granola or muesli – 2 tablespoon

Mango puree – 2 tablespoon

Cherry compote or cherry sauce – 2 tablespoon (optional)

Nuts, seeds or your choice.

Method :

If using home cultured curd or market bough yogurt hang it in a muslin cloth for an hour to remove excess water unless the yogurt is very thick. Use the water in curries or drink it up, it is very nutritious.

Once the curd is ready, mix the mango puree or honey properly and put it in the freezer.

In this recipe I used honey as I was adding cherries too.

Wash the mango and cut it in small pieces.

Wash the cherries and remove the pits. I push them out with the help of a drinking draw. 😀

Chill the fruits in the fridge along with th e yogurt.

Put all the nuts and seeds in a bowl.

For making parfait, take a goblet or  wide glass and start layering.

Put some yogurt, mango, muesli/ granola, yogurt, cherries, ramdana yogurt, nuts and seeds and more yogurt mixed with both the fruits. Top it with more fruit pieces.

If making a single fruit parfait, use a homemade fruit sauce or compote as top layer. Don’t use sugar , honey when adding homemade fruit preserve.

I keep the sugar level minimum or sometimes just avoid adding anything. The fruits provide the sweetness.

Have this healthy parfait as a fulfilling breakfast or as an afternoon dessert snack.

Make your own variations and enjoy the fruity summer goodness.

Easy Banana And Chocolate Frozen Yogurt


 

When the temperature soars and the only thing you want are in a mood for a healthy, low fat dessert then the best option is a fruit based Fro Yo or frozen yogurt. I make a lot of variations of this delicious low calorie sweet treat and try to use as less added sweetner as possible. I use honey in most of my Fro Yo recipes as it is not just healthier than white sugar but also prevents icicles to form while freezing the FroYo.

A bar of Cointreau chocolate was lying in the fridge as I devoured the handmade dark chocolates so I decided to use it in this lip smacking Banana Chocolate Frozen Yogurt. The Cointreau  gave it a mild boozy flavor which was just perfect.

It is easy to make no fuss FroYo that you must try. Also, look up the other frozen yogurt recipes in the blog.

 

Ingredients:

Ripe Bananas – 2 ( Pealed, diced and frozen)

Hung Yogurt or Greek Yogurt – 3/4 Cup (60 gm)

Honey – 2 tablespoon

Dark  Cointreau Chocolate (Grated/broken into very small pieces) – 3 tablespoon

 

Method – 

In a food processor or blender add frozen banana and blend until you have loose crumbs like mixture.

Add hung curd or Greek yogurt, honey and shredded/broken chocolate pieces.  Process until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure there are no lumps.

Scoop it out in a freezable container and even the top with the help of a spatula. Cover and freeze for at least 4-6 hours.

I often take the container out after and hour or so and give the yogurt a good mix before putting it back in the freezer so that no icicles are formed. Usually honey will prevent them from forming anyway.

When ready to serve, scoop out the yogurt in ice cream bowls or cups, sprinkle some shredded chocolate, place a few slices of fresh banana and serve immediately.

You must always use frozen fruit.

Home cultured curd is the best as it is more nutritious but you can also use Greek yogurt. If using home cultured curd, hang it in a muslin cloth for a few hours to remove all the water. Use the whey for kneading wheat flour or put it in daals etc. I just drink it up. Nothing should go waste.

Instead of liquor filled chocolate you can use any other dark chocolate or chocolate chips or cocoa powder also (Two tablespoon should do.

Enjoy your delicious FroYo.

 

 

Panakam Or Gur (Jaggery) Sharbat


India has a culinary culture where the beverages had an important place. Among the many varieties of cold and hot indigenous, traditional beverages sharbats were considered best not just as refreshing drinks but also as medicinal remedies. Most of the sarbats were decoctions / infusions of fruits, flowers, herbs, roots grown locally in a specific region.. They were prepared according to the season. Each sharbat had a therapeutic use. I read somewhere that sharbats were introduced by Mughal emperors in India in 16th century.

In North India, where I live, I grew up with sharbats made with rose, khus, hibiscus, mint, lemon, bael, raw mango or kachcha aam, phalsa, sattu, ilmi or tamarind, gur, badam, sandalwood, amla, kewra, ginger and many other things.  In summer months sharbats were served during festive occasions, religious ceremonies and to house guests apart from their daily use in homes. These specially made serbats helped to combat the merciless heat of Northern Indian Summer.

In other regions also Sharbats were part of the daily cuisine among other beverages.

Gur ka ghol  or gur ka sharbat may not sound fancy but it is delicious taste and has tremendous benefits in terms of keeping the body cool, purifying blood and helping in the digestion. It also helps to ward off dehydration. In rural areas Gur ka ghol was served to anyone who came home from sweltering heat of summer. Gur and water was given separately also. The tradition still continues in many areas but now the commercial drinks are taking over slowly replacing the traditional ones which is a sad thing.

The gur sharbat we drank was prepared with grated jaggery dissolved in water and spiked with black rock salt, lime and mint.

The closest thing to it I found in Old Delhi’s Mohalla Pahadi Imli in chawari bazaar’s chitli Qabar area. The guy makes fantastic gur ka thanda sharbat.

Here we will be making Panakam, a variant of our North Indian Sharbat. Panakam is made in South India during Ram Navmi and is an important Naivedyam. It is not just a summer cooler but it also brings down the body’s heat and stimulates the digestive system. A traditional remedy to prevent dehydration and heat strokes.

Each ingredient in this drink has a purpose and usually it should not be replaced with anything else. You can call it an ayurvedic energy booster.

Panakam / Paanakkam 

Ingredients :

Jaggery Powder or Grated Jaggery – 3 heaped table spoons

Dry Ginger powder – 1 teaspoon (You can use fresh ginger juice too)

Freshly crushed black peppercorns- 1/2 teaspoon

Green Cardamom – 3-4 crushed

Holy Basil or Tulsi leaves –  2-3

Salt –a pinch

Water – 2 Cups

Lemon (Optional) –   2-3 wheels slightly muddled

Ice Cubes

 

Steps –

Dissolve Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery in half cup of tepid water. I use tepid water to quicken the dissolving process.

Let it set for 15-20 minutes.

Crush dry ginger ( sonth) ( if using whole), black peppercorns ( kali mirch)  and green cardamom ( choti elaichi)

Once the jaggery dissolves completely, strain the liquid through a fine mesh to remove all impurities.

In a pitcher add rest of the water. Add the jaggery liquid, crushed spice mix, salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice if using.

Stir properly  and refrigerate. The flavours from the spices will slowly get infused in the sharbat.

Take it out just before serving and add lots of ice chunks or cubes.

You can either strain the sharbat or serve it as it is.

Garnish with lemon wheel, Tulsi leaf and green cardamom pods.

This needs to be served chilled.

 

  1. Adjust the sweetness with the quantity of jaggery. The sweetness will depend o nthe quality of gur used. Always prefer untreated, chemical free jaggery.
  2. You can add edible Kamphur too to make it taste like the original panakkum. I don’t prefer it.
  3. The amount of water used will determine the taste. Adjust spices, sweetness etc according to that.
  4. Always strain the jaggery liquid so no impurities remain.
  5. Pepper gives it a unique taste but do not over spice. Use in moderation.