Meethe Makhane | Jaggery Coated Fox Nuts & A Parfait


Phool makhana are one of my favorites. They are also known as lotus seeds or fox nuts. A versatile  sweet treat that is gluten free, low calorie, vegan and full of healthy nutrients. I have the savory version HERE  and a Kheer HERE.  These are very addictive but you can eat them free from all guilt. Add to vegetable curries, make desserts or munch on the savory snacks and if you have a sweet tooth like I do then make these gur ke makhane or jaggery coated makhana. These popped seeds are good to eat in fasting days too and provide instant energy. You can even give it to toddlers.

Popped Makhana is chewy but once nicely roasted it becomes crisp and nice.

 

One of the quickest snacks you can assemble. I won’t go into details of the benefits the two ingredients provide. Do Google it.

Here is how even a kid can make it in a jiffy.

Ingredients :

Fox Nuts | Makhana – 1 Cup

Organic or Chemical free Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery  – 1/4 Cup

Pure Ghee – 1 tbsp

Water – 1 tbsp

Cardamom | Til | Desiccated coconut – As per your choice ( I have not added anything here)

Steps – 

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add the popped Fox Nuts seeds. Roast them on low flame till they become crisp. Make sure to keep the flame low and do a finger test by breaking the makhana between two fingers. If done it will crumble nicely. If it doesn’t then roast a little more. Once roasted, take them out in a plate.

Toast the Til or desiccated coconut in the same pan if using and remove in a plate.

Add the jaggery powder with a tablespoon of water to the same pan and let it melt on low flame. Once the jaggery fully melts turn off the flame and add the roasted makhanas and the other ingredients if using. Stir to mix everything and let it cool in a large plate. Once the coated makhanas are cool enough to touch ( 5 minutes) separate them gently.

Store them in an airtight glass container and munch on these power snacks anytime.

You can caramelize the fox nuts with brown sugar or white sugar too but I prefer jaggery. Here I have used Organic jaggery from Monsoon Harvest Farms that was bought from Farmer Uncle . I mostly buy all my fruits and many of the other staples from them. Do take a look at their website.

The Parfait Story 

Now, I had never used caramelized makhana in a parfait.  Usually I just munch on them but this idea of substituting roasted beaten rice or Poha with fox nuts is by Sangeeta Khanna. I treasure her recipes and often look up for interesting combinations or tricks to make things better.

I make parfaits of all sorts with chilled home cultured curd. Adding, fruits, nuts, ramdana or popped amaranth seeds, roasted Poha or beaten rice flakes but this is by far the most delicious thing. The makhanas are a chewy swollen dumplings inside the smooth chilled home cultured curd. You can check the other Parfaits from the search bar but here is One of the recipes.

This is the first mango of the season. A little sour so it has given a unique flavor  the whole composition. The sweeter the fruit is the better. Eliminates the use of white sugar or any other sweetener. Just perfect for a quick breakfast.

Here’s how I made the Caramelized Fox Nuts and Mango Parfait.

Cube the best ripe mangoes (1-2) and chill. Whip and chill a cup full of homemade curd with a little honey or mango puree. I sometimes use hung curd too.

If you have the caramelized makhanas then you are ready to assemble but if you don’t then quickly caramelize them fist.

Now, take a glass and layer the curd, mango cubes and makhana till you reach the top.

Serve immediately.

I can’t tell you how delightful this tastes. Do try and let us know how it worked for you. You can caramelize a few makhanas in five minutes for this parfait so go for it.

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Bengali Kachcha Aamer Mishti Chutney


The one is the down right corner is without sweet for my mother. If you use sugar instead of jaggery the color will be golden yellow.

It is amazing how certain dishes are prepared and relished all across India with slight variations in the spices. This version of launji is slightly different from the one I make North Indian style.  Here is the recipe for Meethi Khathai as called it since childhood.

In this version of kachcha Aamer mishti chutney I have used panch phoron. I keep the mango stones ( guthli) in the dish as I love to suck on the spicy tangy sweet guthli. I also keep a lot of liquid in this. A mandatory side dish in summer when the markets are flooded with raw and ripe mangoes.

You can have a bowlful on its own or pair it with steamed rice, paratha, roti etc. Some people peel the mangoes in this dish but I keep the peel.

One more thing that I do is marinate the raw mango slices with red chili and salt for 10 minutes so that the fruit releases water and softens a little.

It quickens the cooking process too.

Here’s a simple way to make this wonder dish.

Ingredients –

Raw mangoes – 1/2 kg (4 medium size)

Organic Jaggery (grated/powder) – 1/2 cup / as desired ( I prefer the chutney a little sour) Fresh grated ginger – 1/2 tbsp

Water -3-4 cups 9 depends on how much liquid you need)

Whole dry red chilies – 2-3

Black mustard seeds – 2-3 tsp

Panch Phoran – 1 tsp (roasted and pounded cumin, fenugreek, mustard, nigella and fennel seeds)

Salt – to taste

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Mustard oil – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

Wash and cut mangoes with skin lengthwise. Keep the stone.

In a wide plate keep the mango slices and stones, sprinkle salt and red chilli powder and rub it in till every piece is coated. Let it rest.

After 10 minutes heat mustard oil in a thick bottom pan.

Add the mustard seeds and dry red chilli as a tempering. Once the seeds crackle, add the marinated mango pieces and the mango stones. Give a good stir.

Saute it for 5-10 minutes n low medium heat and then stir in grated ginger and turmeric.

Add water to your liking, increase heat and bring it to boil. This preparation is a bit thin so I keep one and half cup extra jhol over the amount needed to cover the mango pieces.

Once the liquid starts boiling lower the heat and let the mango cook till soft yet firm. Don’t let it disintegrate.

At this point add the jaggery. You can use Sugar too. Mix well. Test for sweetness, salt and spice threshold. Add if required more. If you add the jaggery/sugar before the mangoes won’t soften so make sure the mango pieces have softened to your satisfaction.

Sprinkle the panch phoran and stir. Turn off the gas and let it cool to room temperature.

Spoon the aam er chutney in a glass bowl or Jar. Always use glass containers for sour dishes.

You can keep this in an airtight container for 5-7 days in the fridge.

Use dry, clean spoons to take out the chutney.

Relish this side dish as a post meal dessert or with steamed rice or luchi.

Note – If you do not have panch phoran you can use bhaja masala or roasted cumin and roasted fennel powder too.

Healthy Snacks – Pan Roasted Spiced Fox Nuts


Fox nuts are highly nutritious and make a wonderful low calorie snack. They are also known as Lotus seeds and Phool Makhana and come from an aquatic plant called Euryale Fox which grows in stagnant waters or ponds in Eastern Asia. In India, makhana is used in many religeous rituals including fasting meals. A variety of dishes are prepared with this versatile puffed seed.

Roasted makhana makes a healthy snack because it’s high in magnesium, iron, zinc and low in sodium content. It has a low glycimic index and is protein rich, high in carbohydrates, gluten free and naturally vegan.

Makhana kheer, gur makhana, masala makhana or spiced makhana are some of my favorite dishes made with fox Nuts. It is also used in curries, soups, raitas and vegetables. You can add them to homemade Granola and nuts & seeds trail mixes.

This pan roasted spiced makhana recipe is easy and doesn’t take much time. You’ll love it’s crunchy texture. The puffed seed has a neutral taste so it takes on the flavors of any combinations of spices.

You can roast a large batch of makhanas and add your favorite spices to a portion whenever you feel like munching on a light snack. You can also add it to your dahi poha like I do. They pair very well in breakfast cereals. So caramelize them and toss a few in your oats, parfaits etc.

Ingredients –

Phool Makhana or puffed Fox Nuts – 100 gm

Red Chilli Powder – to taste

Black pepper powder – to taste

Pink Salt / sendha namak – to taste

Chaat masala – to taste (optional)

Turmeric- if desired a pinch

Ghee – 1 tsp

Dried mint – to taste (optional)

I have mentioned all the spice powders to taste because it all depends on your spice threshold. I prefer them mildly salted and spiced.

Steps – 

Heat a thick bottom pan on medium heat and  add makhanas and roast them on low heat so that they brown evenly and not burn. Be patient with this.

Keep stirring constantly till they become crisp. To test, take one fox nut and press between your fingers, it should crumble.

Now take them out in a plate.

In a bowl mix all the spices.

Heat ghee in the same pan and add the spices and curry leaves if using.  Stir well  and add the roasted fox nuts. Mix well so that all the fox nuts get coated properly. Roast for another minute or two and then take them out in a bowl.

You can serve them warm or let them cool before serving.

Store them in an airtight container for later use.

I used some of it in my breakfast bowl of savory Dahi Chiwada or Dahi Poha ( Beaten rice flakes in home cultured curd)

You can add, remove the spices and make your own variations. Smbhar masala, curry powder, roasted cumin powder,  peri peri powder, dried herbs, Italian seasoning all go well with it.

I used curry leaves and turmeric in one mix and black pepper, rack salt in another.  Different spices give nice aromas and flavors to the fox nuts.

Fox nuts have a good shelf life so they can be stored in air tight containers for future use. I plain roast them and keep it ready to use as desired for both sweet and savory dishes.

You can make puffed rice snack in the same way and add coconut slivers, peanuts, roasted chiwda, cashews, roasted chana, roasted chana daal etc to make an even more healthier snack. Those wanting to lose weight must include makhana in their diet.

 

 

Hope you enjoy munching on these delicious spiced Fox Nuts. I will post the jaggery coated ones in a few days along with the parfait I make.

You can perhaps roast them in air fryer too or in the oven.

Till then eat smart and stay healthy.

3 Bell Peppers & Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer) Stir Fry


Some days ago I had a discussion on a food group on FB about the excess of Paneer dishes in the menus of Indian restaurants and wondered if more seasonal veggies can be incorporated for the vegetarian clientele. There was a heated protest in favor of Paneer. Now, I love paneer but don’t really like the rich gravies or masalas in which it is prepared and served in the restaurants. A personal choice.

This is my variation of Kadai paneer though unlike the restaurant style recipe this doesn’t have a semi dry gravy and green capsicum. I love sweet bell peppers but I dislike the green capsicum.  I use a lot of sweet peppers in various dishes, add them to sauces, salads, stir fry and this version of kadai paneer or paneer stir fry is not only delicious but healthy too. Different colored bell peppers taste different and have dofferent nutritional values so using them all makes the dish more healthy. Red bell peppers have the highest amount of Vitamin C and many phytochemicals and twice the amount of beta carotene than the green capsicum. The yellow one is slightly sweet, orange one a bit more and the red one is the sweetest.  I roast, char, grill, saute the bell peppers as per the requirement of the dish or just use them raw. Bell peppers taste wonderful when slightly roasted or warmed. It really brings out their smoky flavor. Look up my recipe of a Warm Salad with Peppers and  roasted potatoes.

I seldom buy Paneer from the market and prefer to make it at home. The whey is used to kneed wheat flour or cook daals etc. Sometimes I just add a little lemon or sugar and drink a cup full. It tastes good and is full of healthy nutrients too.

Fresh paneer is creamy and light and can be incorporated in many dishes even salads.

Here’s how I make the cottage cheese or paneer at home.

Ingredients :

Full fat milk – 1 liter

Juice of a lemon –  2-3 tbsp

This is made from 1/2 L of full fat milk. 1 L will give approximately 200 gm of good quality paneer.

Method :

Heat the whole full fat milk in a pot and just as the top layer begins to wrinkle and the boiling stage starts turn the flame low and slowly add lemon juice little by little. Keep stirring constantly as you add lemon juice till you see the milk curdle and the greenish whey will separate from the cheese curd. If the liquid is still white you need to add a little more lemon juice till all the cheese curd separates from the whey and the whey is clear. Turn off the flame. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

Keep a strainer covered with cheese cloth ready on a pot and transfer the contents slowly so that the whey gets drained and you are left will sticky soft cheese curd or chena. Give it a rinse under filtered tap water to get the lemony taste out.

Press it a little with the back of a ladle to remove excess liquid and then transfer it to a cheese cloth.  Squeeze a little and give it a shape with a flat spatula and then press it with a heavy object. Remove the excess water and once done keep it in the fridge to set for an hour or two. Take it out and remove on a plate from the cheesecloth. Cut into cubes to add to any vegetable, salad or curry.

You can use the crumbled cheese or chena if making a filling or scrambled paneer burji.

You can refrigerate the paneer block in an airtight container or in a bowl of cold water for 2-3 days.

Always use full fat milk for best results. You can use white vinegar or curd as a souring agent. Each agent will constitute its own taste. Rinsing always gets that out of the paneer and it can be used to make even the sweets like sondesh, rasgulla etc. I have the nolen gurer sondesh recipe for you.

Once the paneer is ready use it for this recipe of Kadhai paneer or cottage cheese stir fry.

Ingredients : 

Red, Orange and Yellow Bell Peppers – 1 each (Medium size)

Homemade cottage cheese / paneer –  200 gm (approx)

Red Onion – 2 medium size

Plum tomato – 2 ( I deseed it)

Salt – as required

Ginger julienne – from 1/2 inch fresh ginger

Coriander seeds  – 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds  – 1 tbsp

Whole red chilies – 1-2 broken pieces

Asafoetida powder – a pinch

Kasuri Methi – 1/2 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

Freshly crushed black pepper powder – 2-3 pinches (Optional)

Fresh coriander leaves ( chopped fine with tender stems) 1 tbsp

Olive Oil – 2 tbsp or Ghee -2 tbsp ( I love its flavor more)

Method – 

Wash, deseed and dice the bell peppers into cubes. (Cutting them in strips makes them cook faster. If you cut them in strips make sure to do that with all the other veggies and paneer too)

Dice the tomatoes into same size cubes.

Cut the medium size onions into four cubes and gentle peal the layers.

Dry roast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and broken whole red chilies till they begin to give out a nice mild aroma. Coarsely grind them with mortar and pestle. Keep aside.

Heat a little Olive oil / Ghee in a thick bottom kadhai or wok and add asafoetida and slit green chili along with the onions. Stir fry the onions on high flame till lightly browned and translucent but crisp then add the bell peppers and give them a nice stir so that they are lightly roasted and warmed but not soft. Add the tomatoes and stir. Don’t over cook them. Add the dry ground masala, turmeric powder, kasuri methi, salt, crushed peppercorns and ginger julienne. Stir properly. We need to keep the crunch in the veggies so do not overcook. Add freshly chopped coriander leaves and stir.

Add the paneer cubes and gently toss so that the paneer retains its shape. Once the paneer is coated with the masala properly, garnish with more freshly chopped coriander leaves.  Turn off the heat and keep it covered so it absorbs the flavors from the peppers and other veggies.

Serve hot with chapatis, lachcha paratha, naan or use it as a topping on toast. I use this as a filling for a roll too.

You will love the delicate sweetness of the bell peppers and the spicy flavors from the fresh masalas. The paneer gives the soft creamy flavor to the dish which is absolutely divine.  I can bet that this will taste much better than the usual kadhai paneer we make. Do try this recipe and let me know how did it come out for you.

 

 

Panasa Katha Tarkari |Oriya Style Raw Jackfruit Curry


Jackfruit is such a versatile vegetable. This fibrous, starchy, fleshy fruit is also referred to as ‘vegetarian meat’. Jackfruit/kathal or Panasa is cooked in a variety of ways. Kathal is one of the many things especially cooked on Holi in Eastern UP household as a replacement to the non veg but today I am sharing the Oriya style curry made with tender, raw jackfruit today. The UP style I will share some other time. 🙂

I also make the Punjabi style vegetable and jackfruit kebabs. There was a time I even pickled it but not anymore.  I absolutely love the ripe jackfruit. Many people do not like its heady intoxicating fragrance but it is one of the things I continue to eat with relish since childhood. Kathal biryani is another favorite and it can beat any mutton biryani if made properly. One can also make jackfruit chips and stew which taste awesome.

Jackfruit is not just an exotic tropical vegetable/fruit but full of good nutrients too. It has ample dietary fibers, anti-oxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folic acid, Vitamin C and much more. It is also a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium and iron.

I had an Oriya neighbor who was an excellent cook. I learned this recipe from her. She told me that there was a slight variation she did from the authentic one. The curry was rich, flavorful and excellent in texture. I made it after many a moons but the verdict of the family was great so here it is for all of you.

Ingredients :

Raw tender jackfruit – 1 small or 1/2 kg peeled and chopped

Potato – 1 large

Onion –  2 + 2 green chilies (1 onion sliced & 1 finely grated or made into paste wit hthe green chili and cumin seeds)

Fresh Ginger and Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp each

Tomato – 1 ( grated or finely chopped)

Panchporan – 1/4 tsp

Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Chili powder – to taste

Homemade garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Bay leaf – 1-2

Cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardomom – 2-3

Cumin seeds -1/2 tsp

Black peppercorn – 4-5

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Mustard oil – 5-6 tbsp

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped fine)

Steps – 

Peel and cut the jackfruit into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces. Make a cut in the seeds if there are large ones or they will burst while frying or slice them if they are not too stubborn). (Be careful with that) Wash and keep aside.

Do oil your hands and knife before peeling and chopping Jackfruit. It gets very sticky due to the milky gum like substance it secrets.

2. Wash, peel and chop potatoes in 1 inch cubes.

3. Parboil both the vegetables with a little salt and turmeric.  Drain the water and keep aside the boiled veggies.

4. Heat a wok and add the mustard oil to it. Bring it to smoking point and reduce the heat. Fry both potatoes and jackfruit one by one. Remove in a plate covered with kitchen towel.

5. In the same oil add Bayleave, panch poran, cinnamon stick, black peppercorn, black and green cardamom, Give it a stir.

6. Once the seeds begin to splutter add the sliced onions and fry till light golden brown. Add sugar to it and stir. Add the grated onion and ginger – garlic paste. Fry till the rawness of the paste goes away and it is nicely browned.

7. Add chopped or grated tomatoes and fry till oil leaves sides and then add the dry powdered masalas and give a nice stir.

8. Now add the parboiled potatoes and jackfruit pieces. Mix nicely so that the masala gets incorporated properly into the veggies. Cover and cook for a few minutes on low- medium flame.

9. Once the veggies absorb the masala completely, add more warm water for the curry. Give a good stir and bring it to boil.

10. Let it simmer for sometime till a nice gravy is ready. Add chopped coriander leaves and garam masala to it. Also add a tablespoon of pure homemade ghee for flavor.

Turn off the flame and serve hot with roti or rice.

Happy Holi to all my readers and friends. Respect boundaries and have a colorful life ahead. 

Bhajani Thalipeeth With Fenugreek Leaves And Green chilli Thecha


Bhajane in Marathi means ‘to dry roast’ . This flatbread is made with roasted multi-grain flours.  Every Maharashtriyan household will have their own recipe and proportions of Bhajani but basic recipe has whole grains, legumes and spices in some cases.  This nutritious flour can be used to whip up many delicious recipes like thalipeeth, variety of vadi, crackers etc.

 

The thalipeeth flour or bhajani as it is known in Maharashtra is made with

1/2 Cup – Jowar (Sorghum) flour
1/2 Cup – Bajra (Pearl Millet) flour
1/4 Cup- Ragi (finger millet) flour
1/4 Cup – Wheat flour
1 Cup – Chana Dal (Split chickpeas)
1/2 Cup – Urad Dal (split and skinned Indian black lentil)
2 Tablespoon – Coriander Seeds

1 Teaspoon – Cumin seeds

To make the Bhanjani, dry roast all the ingredients one by one till their color changes slightly and a nice roasted aroma starts coming. Be careful not to burn them. Grind them together in a food processor or grinder. Put it in air tight box and it will stay for a long time.

Fresh Fenugreek leaves are in season these days and I have used them for this variation of basic thalipeeth . You can use a variety of vegetables like cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, cucumber, carrot etc.

You can easily grow methi in pots and use the micro-greens in various recipes including this one.

 

Methichi Talipeeth 

Ingredients :

Bhajani – 1 Cup

Fresh fenugreek leaves – 1/2 cup (finely chopped)

Onion (small) – 1 (chopped fine)

Green Chilli – 1-2 ( chopped fine )

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoon ( chopped fine)

Salt – to taste

Red chilli powder – to taste ( 1/4 tsp)

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

Ginger- garlic – 1 tsp ( chopped fine/optional)

Water to kneed the dough

Oil for cooking

Steps – 

In a large plate mix the bhanjani flour ,salt, red chilli powder, ajwain, chopped onion, fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, ginger-garlic, chopped green chilies and rub with fingers. The moisture will be released from the veggies. Slowly add water to make a soft dough. It will be very sticky so use a few drops of oil to bring everything together in a smooth dough. You do not need to kneed the dough to much. It will not make the thalipeeth crisp if you do.

Make 2-3 balls from the prepared dough. The size wil depend on the quantity and number of thalipeeth you need.

Traditionally thalipeeth is made by patting the dough ball with wet fingers till it takes a the shape of a flatbread or roti. You can use two small plastic sheets or cling wrap squares to make the process easy. Just grease the sheets a little and place the dough ball on one sheet. Cover with the other and roll like a roti with a rolling pin or pat with fingers to shape it.

Make a few small holes in the thalipeeth for even cooking.

Heat a non stick tawa and grease it a little with oil. Place the thalipeeth on it carefully.

Put a few drops of oil in the holes and around the thalipeeth and let it cook covered on medium heat.  You can smear some water on the top side of thalipeeth so that it doesn’t dry out.

Once one side is nicely roasted flip the thalipeeth. add a few more drops of oil around the edges and let it roast properly. You’ll hear the sizzling sound when its done.

Once crisp from both the sides take it out in a plate and serve with mirchi kathecha, dry garlic chutney, curd, coriander chutney etc. Use fresh homemade white butter/ghee or yellow butter to enhance its taste.

I made some fresh thecha to go with this crisp flavorful thalipeeth

Here’s how I did it.

Hirvya Mirchi cha Thecha ( Green chilli thecha) 

This is one of my favorite chutneys made just with green chilies and raw garlic pods. Thecha means ‘to pound’ in Marathi. The ingredients are coarsely pounded in mortar-pestle to get this excellent dry chutney.

I sometimes add roasted peanuts to it. Techa is a very popular side side in Maharashtra and every household makes their version. It tastes awesome with bhakri or thalipeeth. Eat it sparingly as it is extremely fiery. If your spice threshold is less you can add some freshly chopped coriander leaves and/or roasted peanuts. You can squeeze some lemon on it too to reduce the hotness.

Ingredients :

Fresh thin green chilies – 8-10

Garlic cloves – 5-6

Roasted peanuts – 2 tbsp (optional)

Salt- to taste

Oil – 1 tsp

Coriander greens (chopped) – 3-4 tbsp (optional)

Steps – 

Chop the green chilies and garlic cloves. Chop coriander if using.

Heat a small saucepan and add a tsp of oil.

Add the chopped green chilies and till it is slightly seared from sides. Add garlic and stir properly to saute for a minute or two.

Add the coriander leaves if using and stir.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.

Once cooled add the mixture to the mortar along with salt and roasted peanuts.

Pound till you get a coarse mixture.

You can coarsely grind it in mixer too.

Take it out in a bowl and serve.

I made some fresh amla coriander chutney too in the morning and had another set of thalipeeth for breakfast.

Thalipeeth tastes best with these condiments, fresh butter or sujuk toop (warmed fresh ghee). Buttermilk or tempered thin curd to which chopped onion, coriander leaves are added goes well as an accompaniment.

You can have this nutritious meals any time of the day.

 

 

Kada Prasad – Recipe And A Food Story


The melodious strains of Gurbani, prabhat pheris, prakash utsav, lagars ( free community meals)  and the unforgettable kada prasad were my initiation to something that would become a very important part of my life.

I was a young girl searching for solace. Drawn to the local Gurudwara by the strains of music I would go inside and get transported to a totally different world. Neither a Sikh nor a religeous person this experience was purely spiritual.

I remembered a Sikh friend’s granny giving me an extremely delicious halwa as prasad. I asked what it was made of and couldn’t believe when she said wheat flour. Now, we too made aate ka halwa but it never tasted like the one from the Gurudwara or from her kitchen. I insisted on other helping which she lovingly gave and told me that prasad is to be eaten like prasad not like mithai.

Whenever I found an opportunity I would visit the nearby Gurudwara for the shabad and for the prasad. The serenity of the place always calmed me down. I learned to prepare this divine prasad from beeji as she was called by my friend. I had just passed out from school and I think that was the last time we met before going our ways. We used to lead the school choir that participated in shabad & Kirtan competitions and still have my winning certificates of merit from Mata Sundari College.

Later, Gurudwara became a spiritual sanctuary for me, a place where I would go and spend hours sitting in complete silence, soaking in the healing viberations. Letting go of all the sorrow that filled my heart. Sometimes the tears would flow but no one paid attention or judged. I was at home inside that place of bliss. It is still a place where I become a witness to myself. Sometimes I would quietly sit by the sarovar and read Sukhmani sahib or Dukh bhanjini sahib. The words cleansed me from inside out. For me it was not just a journey with but a source of strength to cope with what lay ahead.

I still go to Bangla Sahib whenever possible though lately my visits have become irregular. You must do the seva in some Gurudwara at least once in a lifetime. I can not explain the feeling one experiences.

Today, I am sharing that recipe with you. Though I can never replicate the original. It does, however, bring back the same taste from my youth.

These silver katoris are from my childhood. Perhaps presented or bought at birth so about fifty year old. 🙂

This simple recipe for Kada Prasad doesn’t need any dry fruits or other add-ons. The flavor comes from the roasting of wheat flour in pure desi ghee or clarified butter. Roasting is also the most important aspect of making the halwa. It has to be even and just the right rich brown color or it won’t give you the authentic taste of the prasad. Also, the wheat flour needs to be coarse (Dardara) to get the right texture. You can use the usual wheat flour too but the texture won’t be like the one made in Gurudwaras. Two things that are a MUST in this recipe – Ghee and right proportion of the ingredients. You can not replace Ghee with anything else. Also, the halwa made from prasad is NEVER heated again. Something I learned from beeji.

One of the simplest of recipes and yet the richest. Today being Gurubpurab I decided to make the halwa and distribute to neighbors and family members.

Here is my recipe :

Whole wheat flour ( coarsly ground) – 1 Cup

Sugar -1 Cup

Pure Ghee (Clarified Butter ) –  1 Cup ( Yes, the halwa is laden with ghee and that is why it should be eaten less)

Water – 3 Cups

The proportion is always – 1-1-1-3 You can always double triple or half, quarter the proportion as per need.

 

Steps : 

In a kadhayi heat the water and add sugar to it. Stir to dissolve and keep aside. You can add the sugar directly also. If doing that just heat the water and keep aside for later use. Heating the water ensures that there is no change of temperature when it is added to hot roasted flour. It also ensures even cooking.

In another kadhayi heat the ghee till nicely warm. Add the wheat flour / atta and stir. Keep the flame on slow – medium as the flour tends to rapidly change from light brown – dark brown  and burnt stage.

This is an important process so do it it with patience and love.

You will see the color change, keep stirring till you get to the stage where the color is rich brown and the mixture has a sand like grainy texture. The butty aroma is another sign of an evenly roasted aata. You will also notice the ghee leaving the sides now.

At this point, add the hot sugar water to the wheat ghee mixture. Be careful not to scald yourself. Stir vigorously so that no lumps are formed. Shift to medium heat to ensure the right consistency. Now turn the flame to low and keep stirring till all the water absorbs and the halwa reaches the right consistency. The ghee will starts leaving the sides again once that happens.

Turn off the gas and remove the prasad in a clean bowl. Usually the halwa is covered with a cloth and cut into five portions for each of the Sikh Gurus and then distributed after the prayer and offering.

You can garnish with almonds if not making as prasad.

An interesting fact from my marital village in Himachal –

The village of Mairi has Dera Baba Vadbhag Singh Ji Gurudwara. After the Holi / Baisakhi Mela finishes the devotees or Sangat are offered karah prasad that is kept covered in a large kadhayi locked inside the basement in the gurudwara. After the ardas when the door is opened the prasad has a large hand imprint on it. It is believed that Baba ji comes to bless the prasad. It is then called panje ka prasad. No one knows how that miracle happens but faith keeps the prasad good for years. My MIL says that the prasad never gets spoiled. I will some day write about my experience of the village life etc.

For now, Keep your heart light burning bright. Stay blessed and once again a very blessed gurupurab to all of you. Remember the teachings of Baba Nanak who left us a beautiful treasure of how the life should be.

 

Awwal Allah Noor Upaya Qudrat Keh Sub Banday

Aik Noor Keh Sub Jag Upajiya Kaun Bhale Ko Mandhe

God created light of which all the beings were born

And from this light, the universe; so who is good and who is bad

 

 

Lotus Stem / Kamal Kakdi / Nadru Shami kebab


One of my favorite vegetables is lotus stem / kamal kakdi / bhee or nadru as it is called in Kashmir. Versatile and deliciously crisp and with a lovely pattern inside this rhizome can be used in curries, stir fry, kebabs, koftas, pickles, chips, honey glazed crisps, stews and much more. I have a recipe of Kashmiri Nadru Yakhini that you can try. Lotus stem is also very high in iron, calcium and dietary fibers.

The vegetable loses color very fast when peeled and cut so it is better to keep it in water. It also has a short shelf life so needs to be refrigerated. The tender fresh lotus stem oozes out a milky substance that’s the sign if freshness. Choose the creamy white, unblemished ones.

Nadru kebab or lotus stem kebabs are an exotic starter for the vegetarians. Many people think that vegetarian kebabs are an oxymoron but the vegetarian kebabs are as delicious as their cousins and are light on palate too.   So what if they do not come from the lamb shoulder (Gosht). If made correctly you can not tell the difference between a mutton shammi and a bhee shammi. That’s how delicious they are. It is amazing what all you can do with it.

So, let us get straight to the recipe:

Ingredients – 

Tender fresh Lotus stem – 3-4 small

Boiled Potato – 1 medium size

Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

Green chilies – 2-3, finely chopped

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp – finely cjhopped

Ghee – for shallow frying

Cloves – 4-5

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardamom – 3-4

Cinnamon stick – 1 inch

Bay leaves – 2

Black peppercorns –  6-8

Freshly ground pepper – 1/4 tsp

Kashmiri red chili powder – to taste

Garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Chaat masala – 1/4 tsp

Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Clove, nutmeg and mace powder 2-3 pinches

Fennel powder – 1/4 tsp

Onion -1 medium

Bread crumbs or Popped amaranth seeds – for coating (optional)

Sattu / roasted chana dal power – 2-3 tbsp or as required.

Steps :

Choose the lotus stem that is sealed from both end to avoid dirt inside. Prefer the tender ones as they will be less fibrous and easy to cook.

Wash, peel and cut the lotus stem in 2 inch cubes. In a pressure cooker add the cubes with all the whole spices and just enough water to cook. ( The bhee should be submerged). Give it 2-3 whistles. It should break easily but still be firm.

Meanwhile thinly slice the onions and fry them in a little ghee till they are crisp. It should be done on low flame to ensure even browning. Take them out and make a paste of these crisp onions on a silbatta or roughly grind. This is optional and you can add finely chopped raw onion to the mix or avoid it too. Browning of onion gives the kababs a nice taste.  1-2 tbsp of this paste is enough.

Drain the water and whole spices, cool and grate the lotus stem. Also grate/ mash the boiled potato.  Grating the lotus stem helps it retain the meat like texture.

In a large bowl, add the grated lotus stem, potato, green chili, chopped ginger, coriander greens,  onion ( chopped or browned paste) all the powdered spices, salt, sattu and mix properly. Adjust the spice threshold and the salt at this point.

Make walnut size balls and flatten them to make shammi kababs. Roll them on bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes or popped ramdana as I did. You can omit this step too. The coating makes the kebabs crisp.

Heat a non stick taw or  frying pan and add some ghee to it for shallow frying the kababs. Keep the flame to medium so that the kebabs get cooked properly from inside too.

Place one kabab to test that it retains the shape, if it does add a few more but DO NOT crowd the tawa as the ghee temperature will lower and the kebabs won’t fry properly.

If the kabab breaks, add a little more binding to the mixture.

Once the kababs turn nice  brown from one side, flip and let it brown from the other side as well.

Take them out on absorbent paper to remove excess ghee.

Serve these delicious nadru shami kababs with mint coriander green chutney, onion rings and lemon quarters.

Note :

Use ghee, it is the game changer. No compromise on this.

I usually add soaked chana dal to the  lotus stem while boiling and grind it on sil batta instead of using gram flour ( besan) or sattu. If you wish to make it with chana dal, soak 1/2 cup chana dal for 2-3 hours and then add to the lotus stem and whole spices while you pressure cook.  Once cooked, take it out and grind. You can also roast the dry dal and grind to a coarse powder and add. I like the taste of sattu but omit if using chana daal.

Onion is optional too. The kababs taste awesome without it too.

Some people blend the lotus stem mixture to a fine paste for kababs but I prefer them to be a little meaty. Grating is a better option in my opinion.

I don’t add too much potato, just enough to help in binding.

If you make these do let me know your experience.

bon appetit


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Durga Ashtami : All about kale chane and halwa poori prasad


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Durga Ashtami prasad is one of my favorite meals. We never celebrated sharad navratri festival at home so I was basically unaware of the rituals till we shifted to Delhi in 1972.  As a little girl the festival brought cheer and good food. I would wait for the navratra to end so I could gorge on the  lip smacking halwa and chana ghugni with hot crisp puffed up poories and collect my kanjak gifts too. It seemed like an achievement to visit a good number of houses and come loaded with money, gifts and food in that order.

The food would be deposited on the dinning table. I would stash away the money and open the gifts. In between I would take spoonfuls of chana or halwa and wonder how the same chana ghughni which is staple of our daily food suddenly tasted unbelievably different and delicious. Perhaps it was the joy and fervor with which it was prepared and consumed that made the difference.

I felt all important after the kanya pujan etc though with time my thoughts about kanjak or kanya pujan ( worshiping the little girls) changed. We also discussed who made the best halwa poori in the neighborhood and who gave the best gift or was generous with money. It was heartbreaking to grow up as it meant no more kanjak invites to me.

It was only after my marriage that I learned to make the actual prasad the way devotees make it as a bhog  to Goddess Durga, It was made with utmost piety and devotion. No one would eat before the kanjak was fed. One would enter the kitchen only after taking a bath and changing into new clothes. Especial care was taken about hygiene, puja thali was prepared before beginning to make the bhog, etc etc. The boys felt left out and declined to help call the girls (kanjaks). I wonder if they hated that more, or being famished or delivering prasads to immediate neighbors’ whose daughters couldn’t come. The aroma from the kitchen didn’t help much.

It was tough to catch hold of the little ones as they fluttered from one place to another while we waited to hog the food. My MIL grumbled at our lack of ‘sanskars’ but eventually we managed to gather eight girls ( all below nine years of age) and one little boy considered to be Hanumanji’s avtar. MIL had a name for the boy which I can’t recall.

I remembered my granny telling how putting good thoughts in food while cooking makes it good for our bodies and mind. Maybe this is what she meant and did on a daily basis. The art of cooking and eating with mindfulness and gratitude.

Let’s get back to Kala chana ghugni which is made without onion and garlic for the prasad but on other days it has a few variants. I used to make it for lunchboxes, travel meals, afternoon snacks and as a main dish for breakfast and lunch too.

These days this ritual of making Ashtami prasad is a part of nostalgia. I have used ghee to make the sookhe chane or chana ghugni.

You can find the Suji Halwa recipe here.

 

Recipe for chana ghugni or kanjakwale sookhe chane 

Ingredients : 

Black Chickpea | Kala Chana – 250 gm

Green chili – 3-4

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Fresh grated ginger – 1 inch piece

Ghee | Clarified butter – 2 tbsp

Coriander Powder – 3 tbsp

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp

Chana masala or amchur – 1/2 tsp

Fresh coriander leaves, chopped – 2 tsp ( optional)

Steps : 

Wash and soak kala chana overnight in a container.

In the morning drain the water and wash the chana again. Pressure cook it with ajwain, salt and two cups of water till the chana becomes soft but doesn’t get mashed up.

Strain the chana water in a bowl for later use.

In a cast iron pan heat ghee and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add green chili and boiled chana minus the water.  Slightly mash some of them.

Add the spice powders and stir on medium flame. Slowly add the chana water and turn the flame on high so that the water gets absorbed in the chana and the spices get coated properly. Turn off the gas and cover the pan till you are ready to serve.

While the chana water is getting evaporated prepare a tight dough for the poori / puri and keep a kadhayi to heat the oil for frying.

 

Poori Ingredients : 

Wholewheat flour | Atta – 2 Cup

Oil – 2 tbsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Water – as needed to knead the dough

Oil for deep frying – about 2-3 Cups

Method:

Mix atta, oil and salt in a large bowl then slowly add water to knead a firm, smooth dough. It should not be too soft or sticky. Cover it with a damp cloth.

Make small balls and roll them out to make the poories. Use a little oil instead of dry flour if needed.

Heat the oil for frying in a large kadhai. Drop a small pinch of dough to test if the oil is hot enough for frying.  The little ball should fry and rise quickly. Discard it.

Put in the poories one by one. Turn the poori within a few seconds of sliding it in oil and press it lightly with a slotted spoon. It will start puffing up uniformly.  Keep adjusting the flame so the oil doesn’t get too cold or too hot.

Turn the poori again and cook till light reddish brown in color. I prefer them this way.

Drain the oil by holding it in the slotted spoon against the inner side of kadhayi. Remove and put on a paper towel. or clean white sheet of paper. Make all the remaining puris similarly.

Serve the hot poories with suji halwa and delicious chana ghugni. You can serve home cultured curd or raita with it. If not making for prasad or bhog you can serve a pickle on the side too.

 

May you discover the Dugra that lies within you. You are She and She is You.

Happy Ashtami and festive season to all.

 

 

 

Nadru Yakhni ( Lotus Stem In Yogurt Gravy ) – Two Versions


I love Kashmiri cuisine. Shab Deg, Goshtaba, Rogan Josh, Rista, Yakhni , Dum Olav, Modur Pulav, you name it and I can live on it for the rest of my life. Rich in flavors and mild in taste these dishes are to die for. I so want to learn to cook the non vegetarian dishes but seldom get the chance but I did prepare one of my vegetarian favorites Nadru Yakhni.

This was my second attempt and turned out to be delicious though perhaps not so close to the authentic one Kashmiri pandits make. Preparing gravies for Kashmiri cuisine is a labor of love as it involves slow simmering to get the aromatic flavors from the spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, aniseed, fennel powder, cumin and Hing which gives them a distinct flavor and transforms the dish totally. No Onion, garlic is used in these gravies.

The picture is not very good but I will replace it with a nice one next time when I make the dish. The ones below look better. 🙂

The taste is awesome that I can assure you.

Anything with curd is a summer favorite and Nadru Yakhni is such a beautiful dish. Lotus stem / bhen / nadroo or nadru in rich yogurt base infused with cardamoms, clove, bay leaves and dry ginger, fennel makes it a delicacy that is beyond compare. A friend told me that it is usually the part of  Koshur Saal. 

Lotus stem may not be very appealing to look at but from inside it is white and has a lovely pattern. Apart from the nice crunch it has loads of iron, dietary fiber and calcium.

I love lotus stem and prepare it the Punjabi way with fried onions, tomatoes and spices or the Sindhi way which is somewhat similar. I also do a stir fry sometimes and make kebabs which can beat any non vegetarian kebabs.

Now the Nadur Yakhni Recipe  (Kashmiri Pandits’ Version) 

Ingredients :

Lotus Stem / Bhe / Nadru – 1 Kg (Long Thick and preferably closed at both ends)

Ghee / Clarified Butter / mustard oil – 5 tbs

Dry Ginger Powder (Shonth)  – 1 – 1/1/2 tsp

Black Cardamom –  Seeds from 4 (powdered)

Green Cardamom – seeds from 4 (powdered)

Fennel Powder (Baadyan) – 3 tsp

Clove – 4-5

Asafoetida (Yenga) – 1/4 tsp dissolved in a tsp of water

Full Fat Beaten Curd –  3 Cups (Room temperature)

Coriander leaves – For garnish

Cinnamon Stick –  1/2 inch

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp

Shahi Zeera – 1 tsp

Water – 3 Cups

Mix whole cardamoms – 2 queen cardamom crushed, 2 green cardamom crushed)

Coriander Leaves – for garnish

Steps –

Wash, scrape and clean the lotus stems. Make sure there is no dirt inside the holes. Use a knitting needle to get rid of that.

Cut them diagonally / Slants   and keep them immersed in lukewarm water or they will lose color and turn brown.

In a heavy bottom sauce pan or pressure cooker put the nadru pieces, 1/2 tsp of salt, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, crushed whole cardamoms, whole peppercorns, salt and two glasses of water. Cook till tender but not mushy. They must retain the crunch. Cooking time will depend on the quality of nadru.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add zeera and asafoetida along with the beaten curd. Keep stirring or the curd will curdle. Let it come to a boil then get a silk like smooth texture.

Add the powdered spices, dry ginger powder, continue to stir. Rub the shahi zeera in palms and add.

Add the boiled nadru along with the spice flavored water.  Continue to boil for at least 10-20 minutes on low heat. There should be thick rich gravy coating the nadru pieces. Check for spices and salt and add if needed.

Remove from heat and spoon it in a serving dish. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves if desired.

Serve with hot rice.

Tips-

You can fry the whole spices in a tablespoon of ghee before adding to the nadru while boiling. Reserve this ghee and pour it on the top of the finished dish before serving.

You can slightly fry the nadru pieces in a little ghee before boiling. They will retain the color and crunch. Do not brown them.

Make sure to blend curd properly so that there are no pieces in it. I usually pulse it in a mixer.

Karusi methi or dried crushed fenugreek leaves are used in the original recipe. Put 1/2 tsp  at the end if using.

Nadru Yakhni With Pran (Onion Paste) – Wazwan style

This nadru yakhni Wazwan style that I made today is fiery and has browned onion paste in it. This is my version and so looks different from the authentic. I think it looks like a cross between a rogan josh and yakhni curry. 🙂 But, it tastes incredible. Put a little less pran and chilies and you will have a light brownish white original curry.

The Muslims of Kashmir add Pran or Kashmiri Onion paste to their version otherwise the cooking process is same.

To make Pran you need to slice about 450gm of small red onions/ shallots thinly and sprinkle some salt so they release water. Keep them for 3-4 minutes and squeeze out the water. Fry them slowly in ghee till golden brown and  take them out on absorbent kitchen paper to remove excess ghee. Put them in a grinder and make a smooth paste. Add 2 tablespoons of Praan after the zeera crackles and saute it before adding curd. I also add Kashmiri red chilli powder and 2 tsp of whole black pepper corns while boiling the lotus stems so it is fiery and aromatic at the same time.

You can make a quicker version by heating the mustard oil or ghee in the pressure cooker and adding the whole spices, raw lotus stem pieces and frying a bit then adding the pran and then the curd mixture infused with ground spices and salt. Add water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till the lotus stem pieces are tender but not mushy. Cook on low – medium flame so that the curd doesn’t curdle. The nadru crunch should remain. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with chapati or rice.