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.

Advertisements

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.

Homemade Basic & Fruit Juice Infused Rasgullas


shows how Instagram addiction works. Forgot to keep a copy without heart emoticons.

Pressure cooker Rasgullas:

Cooking is not just about creativity it’s mainly science. I’ve been dying to get the rasgullas right since sometime and though they always tasted good something was amiss. Recently I decided to do some research and the most trusted source for that is Sangeeta Khanna’s blog. I read her recipe and immediately knew what was wrong. The art of making the right chena for good soft spongy rasgullas lies in doing it the scientific way and that’s where I was going wrong. I tried her method and Voila! the rasgullas came out excellent. I made them a few times before posting the recipe here.

This time I tried the fruit juice infused rasgullas too from her blog. The yummiest ever. I did some variations of my own.

Here’s how you make the softest chena for any Bengali Mithai and especially Rasgullas. If this step goes wrong the rasgullas may not turn out the way they should. There is no substitute for this step. Market bought Paneer is NOT a replacement to homemade chena. The perfect rasgullas are soft, porous and spongy not rubbery or chewy.

This Nolen Gurer Sondesh recipe has the steps to make perfect chena and also the link to Sangeeta’s blog post. Do check it out.

So as we now know that rasgullas are soft balls of Indian cottage cheese dunked in sugar syrup. They are boiled in the syrup or in plain water if going into a fruit juice cocktail ..

Now the Ingredients and the steps.

Ingredients : 

To make chena :

Full fat milk / Cow’s milk – 2 Cups

Juice of lemon – 1/2 lemon  or 4 tbsp curd (home cultured preferably)  or  1-2 tbsp white vinegar

For Basic Rasgullas – 

Water for syrup – 600 ml approx

Sugar – 200  gm

Steps :

Once the chena is ready take in out in a large plate and rub and knead with the heals of your palm till you get a smooth, lump free cohesive dough. When you feel the fat from the cheese on your hand its done. Do not overdo it. Make a smooth ball of it and cover with a damp cloth. If the chena crumbles then it is not good for making any sweets, use it for stuffing parathas, cutlets or make a veggie with it. A dry chena will disintegrate in the syrup or boiling water so it needs to be soft and cohesive mass.

In a pressure cooker boil the water with the sugar to make the syrup. You can add a few threads of saffron or 2-3 green cardamom to give a flavor to the syrup. We keep enough water to help the rasgullas expand. They swell up 2-3 times of their original size. Do Not crowd the pressure cooker with the chena balls. Keep some free space.

While the syrup boils, make small balls with the palm of your hands. In 500 ml full fat milk chena usually I make 6 large rasgullas.

Once the syrup is boiling away nicely gently dunk one rasgulla in it to see it it floats and swells up or disintegrates, flattens etc. This will give you heads up to go for the rest. Drop them gently in the syrup one by one.

Close the lid of the pressure cooker and after one whistle let the rasgullas cook on low flame for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them cool.

Once you open you’ll have the perfect soft bouncy rasgullas.  You can see i nthe piucture that there is a lot of syrup. I keep it that way for the rasgullas to expand then use as much as needed. Rest I keep for other things.

Take them out in a wide bowl and let them chill. The rasgullas will take different shapes as the sides press against each other but will regain their round shape when removed in a serving bowl. That is the test of a good rasgulla.

Serve them chilled with a little syrup.

When making the fruit juice infused rasgullas do not use the sugar syrup. Instead boil plain water for poaching with lemon, orange zest if using orange juice or keep it simply plain.

Once the rasgullas cool down, squeeze them to remove excess poaching water and add the rasgullas to a bowlful of your favorite juice. Let them absorb the juice for a good flavor. The juice will give them a nice color too.  You can click the link above to see how Sangeeta has made exquisite cocktails with rasgullas etc.

I used fresh orange juice and Real cranberry juice for infusion.

In the cranberry fruity rasgullas I used cranberry juice, fresh lemon juice, a dash of gin and pomegranate pearls. Topped with mint.

In the Orange Juice infusion I opted for fresh orange juice  which gave a lovely citrus flavor to the rasgulla. I have observed that the more you keep the rasgullas soaked in it  better the flavor. I’m sure a bit if Vodka would go superbly with it but this time it is just pure juice.

You can use aam panna bael panna, pomegranate juice, pieces of fruits like lemon or prange wedges, apple or pomegranate pearls etc and get creative with the cocktails. I will post some other variations as i make them. Perhaps a mango panna or bael panna cocktails as this is the perfect time for these drinks. Stay tuned.

I guess you will need to acquire a taste for these but rust me these healthier versions are perfect if you want to avoid white sugar. Homemade juices work out the best and are healthier option.

They look pretty too though I am such a lousy photographer.

In any case the rasgullas were a huge hit and that made me happy.

Do give these a try and let me know your experience.

 

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.

Power Packed Dry Fruit And Sattu (Roasted Chickpea Flour) Ladoo (No Cooking)


Easy, nutritious bite size gluten free ladoos that can be made in less than 15 minutes. There is no added sweetener and you can omit the ghee in case you want to make it totally guilt free. Though I must tell you that ghee or clarified butter is good for health if used in moderation.

I already have one more sattu laddoo recipe on my blog. Those are the plain ones. You can check them by clicking on the link. Chana Sattu Laddoo  This post also has the recipe to make sattu at home.

Sattu  is the cheapest source of protein you can get. You can make it from bhuna chana or roasted chickpeas that are easily available in the market. Once you grind them and make it into flour it doesn’t need any roasting or cooking for using in any of the dishes. It has low Glycemic Index and high fiber content and is one of the highest sources of vegetarian proteins that is easily digestible and also of calcium and magnesium. It provides iron too.

I have some recipes with sattu in my blog which you can explore later.  Read all about it in the post link posted above.

I have used popped amaranth in these laddoos. You can see another recipe here –

Popped amaranth dry fruit Laddoo  

Popped amaranth contains a whooping  9 gm of complete protein in one cup. Much more than the much touted quinoa.

Enjoy this as a post or pre-workout snack. Pack it in tiffin box for kids or eat whenever small hunger strikes.

Actually I wanted to make the dry fruit laddu minus these two ingredients and then I got greedy and added them too to make this a combo power ball of nutrition.

There are no strict measurements but still I will give you an approximate idea.

Ingredients :

Fresh homemade Chana Sattu – 100 gm

Pitted dates – 10

Dried figs – 6-8

Mixed nuts ( soaked, roasted and chopped fine) – 1/2 cup

Mixed seeds  ( soaked & roasted) – 4 tablespoon

Raisins – 10-15

Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Ghee (warmed) – 1 tbsp ( optional)

Steps :

Gather all the ingredients in one place.

For just the dry fruit laddoo,  blend dates and figs coarsely in a mixer then remove it in a plate. Pulse the chopped dry fruits, raisins, seeds coarsely. ( if you chop very fine then omit this step)

In a large bowl mix the date and fig mixture with the chopped nuts and seeds mixture. Rub in with your fingers so that both the mixtures get properly incorporated. Now make small bite size balls and store in an airtight container. If you heat the dates/figs then the shelf life is more.

To make the ladoo / laddu with sattu :

Coarsely pulse the chopped dates and figs in a blender.

In a large bowl take sattu, add the dates/figs mixture and the finely chopped or coarsely ground nuts/seeds mixture, popped amaranth and warm ghee ( if using).

Now rub in with your fingers so that the the entire mixture resembles a crumble. Keep mixing with fingers  till it starts looking like a dough.

Now, make bite size balls or ladoos with it.

Store in an airtight container.

Note –  It is totally up to you to soak the seeds or nuts. I soaked them for 6 hours and then let them dry overnight. Roasted them very lightly before mixing for ladoo. I didn’t soak the dates and figs.

Moisture will reduce the shelf life so you take a call on this. If the dates / figs are very dry you can microwave them in a safe dish for a minute or two.

The sweetness of the ladoos will depend on the amount and quality of dates/figs you have used. Once the mixture is ready and you find it less sweet for your taste then add a little honey. I prefer to keep it low in sweetness.

I used almonds, pistachio, cashew, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, organic popped amaranth seeds for this recipe.  You can use whatever combination you desire.

Slightly roasted grated dry coconut can also be added.

You can change the proportions according to the number of ladoos you wish to make.

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.

Bael Panna | Bel Ka Sharbat


Bel/Bael or stone apple is also known as Elephant apple and Bengal Quince. It gets its name of stone apple due to the hard cover.  It is native to India and the tree is considered sacred for Hindus. Bael fruit is used in traditional medicine. It is also found in Srilanka and Thailand.

Bael fruit is a storehouse of  good health and nutrition. Packed with protein, phosphorus, Vitamin C and B complex and tannin it strengthens the heart and mind, cures acidity, increases body resistance and improve the memory. It also cures ulcers and gastric disorders, treats acidity, burning sensation in the stomach and nausea, cleans the stomach of impurities and cures weak eyes. It is also a good cardiac tonic and energy booster. A good source of beta-carotene, Bael also cure liver problems. It also contain thiamine and riboflavin. Once a week intake of Bael fruit cures Amoebiasis .

Bael is used for making sharbat, chutney and murraba. The fruit is also eaten as medicinal remedy.

To make a healthy Bael  ( Stone apple ) sharbat we need : 

Ingredients :

  • Ripe Fragrant Wood Apple – 1 Medium
  • Sugar/Jaggery powder – To Taste (Depends on the sweetness of bael fruit)
  • Water – About 4 Glasses
  • Fresh Mint Leaves – 10-12
  • Lemon Juice – 1/2 Lemon
  • Lime Quarters – 3-4
  • Rock Salt powder – 1/4 teaspoon per glass
  • Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Ice Cubes

BeFunky Collage

Method : 

  1. Crack open a ripe Bael fruit and scoop out all the fibrous flesh in a large glass bowl. No need to discard the seeds right now.
  2. Add 2 glasses of water to the pulp so that it submerges completely. Cover with a lid and set aside for 2-3 hours.
  3. Now mash the soaked pulp with hands and once it mixes properly sieve it through a thin mesh to collect maximum amount of juice.
  4. Add a little more water and sieve again. Throw away the seeds and insoluble fiber.
  5. Add Sugar/ jaggery powder as per the sweetness of the fruit concentrate and mix well. Refrigerate till you are ready to use.
  6. To serve panna, fill the glasses with ice cubes and pour the bael juice concentrate over it. Add Rock salt powder and the required amount of water and stir properly.
  7. Garnish with lemon wheels and fresh mint sprigs.
  8. Serve chilled.

You can muddle some fresh mint leaves and add to the fruit concentrate too. A hint of ginger also tastes good at times.

Do make the traditional summer beverages that used to be a part of our daily cuisine. They are not just refreshing but also therapeutic. Keep away from commercial, synthetic drinks.

 

Quick Recipes With Popped Amaranth Seeds


Amaranth, the royal grain, is known as Raamdana/ Ramdana, Rajgira in India. Actually it is not a grain but seeds of the Amaranth plant. These tiny seeds  pop up  when roasted to become light and fluffy and provide more protein content than the much touted quinoa. A whooping  9 gm of complete protein in one cup. Amaranth contains all the essential amino acids which makes it much better than any seed/grain.

This tiny yet power packed seed is a store house of many essential nutrients. It has a significant amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin C. Another good thing is that it is gluten free so people who are celiac or gluten intolerant can easly incorporate it in their meals.

I have very fond memories of munching on raamdana ladoos as a child. Light and mildly sweetened with jaggery they are the best snacks to have at all ages as they are easy to digest too. We even used these popped seeds in porridge, both sweet and savory. Raamdana is very versatile and you just need to be innovative to include it daily in your diet one way or the other. You can use them in cutlets, frappes, ladoos, soups, muffins, breads, cakes, quiche, energy bars or use it as a breakfast cereal or baby food or sprinkle over salads etc. .

Here I made some quick sweets and a frappe using Organic popped amaranth seeds from I Say Organics. 

Dates, Mix Dry Fruit and Popped Amarath Ladoos 

This is a fantastic easy and quick recipes which can be made with or without cooking if you already have the amaranth seeds popped.

You can make bite size balls to eat as snacks. The size depends on your wish. I make them small so I can eat it often. There is no oil/ghee or added sugar so that makes these a wonderful snack.

To make these nutritious ladoos you will need :

Dates –  1 cup pitted (good quality)

Popped Amaranth / Rajgira Seeds – 1 Cup

Chopped or Powdered Mix dry fruits ( Almonds, raisins, cashews. walnuts etc. ) – 1/2 cup

Any seeds ( flax seeds sesame seeds) if you desire – 2 tablespoon

( If you have the  wet dates then no cooking is required but if the dates are dry then they need to be heated a bit. )

Method – 

Pit and chop the dates fine.

Dry roast the nuts and chop or powder them as per your taste. If using seeds then dry roast them too but take care not to over roast. Just light roasting is fine.

If  you are using dry dates then heat a non stick pan and add chopped dates to it.

Keep the flame low and stir till the dates soften.

Add the nut mixture,  seed mixture and popped ramdana, give it a nice sir and switch off the gas.

Remove the mixture in a plate and mix it thoroughly so that everything gets incorporated nicely.

Make small balls of the mixture and let them cool before putting them in an airtight container. Eat these  nutritious power packed ladoos any time of the day. I am sure kids wuld love them too. Do give it a try.

If yo uare using the soft, wet dates then just chop them and put the dates and powder/chopped dry fruit mixture in a blender and mix till a gooey mix is obtained. Take it out in a bowl and make small bite size balls from it.

Ramdana/ Popped Amaranth Brittle/ Chikki 

Our next recipe is for the brittle made of raamdana.  I have used Organic jaggery and popped amaranth seeds from I Say Organics in this recipe to get the maximum benefits from the ingredients.

Ingredients: 

Popped Amaranth Seeds / Rajgira / Ramdana – 1/2 Cup

Organic Jaggery – 1/2 Cup ( you can use Palm Jaggery too. Crumble it or cut into slivers with a sharp knife.)

Ghee/ coconut oil – 1 tbsp ( coconut oil for vegans)

Pinch of salt

Method – 

Grease a baking tray/ plate with oil and set it aside.

Put a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and add the oil or ghee to it.

Add the grated or crumbled Jaggery with a pinch of salt. I don’t use shakkar or granulated jaggery.

Stir it constantly till the jaggery melts and there are no lumps. Keep the heat low if required so the jaggery doesn’t burn. It will become more like a syrup.

Add ramdana / amaranth seeds and mix well.

Pour the mixture in the greased tin and

spread it evenly with a spatula.

Let it set for 20-30 min then remove it from the baking tray and either break into pieces or cut into squares.

Keep in an airtight container.

Note- Some people make a syrup or Paak of jaggery with water. I prefer it this way. To make it crisp you’ll need to melt the jaggery a little longer without burning. I just wait till it dissolves completely and add amaranth.  This chikki/brittle is a bit softer than the market version.

Popped Amaranth seeds Parfait with Mixed Fruit And Nuts 

I love yogurt Parfaits and this is one of my favorites. You can do so much with this basic recipe. Add any fruits, nuts, seeds to it with natural sweetness of fruits and perhaps some home made preserve or organic honey  or organic jaggery slivers/ granules if you like it sweeter. Dates/ Prunes make this frappe very delicious and naturally sweet too.

Ingredients –

Chopped Prunes or Dates

Popped Amaranth seeds

Chopped mix nuts (walnut, cashew, almonds etc and  mixed raisins ( black, gloden)

Hung yogurt

Homemade preserve/ honey/ maple or date syrup/ molasses or jaggery

Method 

Just layer these ingredients one by one to make the parfait presentable or if in a rush just toss everything together  and have it. Both ways you’re getting the goodness of this power packed recipe. Top the frappe with the Preserve or any of the other sweetening ingredient mentioned above. It is entirety up to you what to add/remove.

Make it as healthy and innovative as you desire.

Hope you liked these recipes. Do try and let me know in the comment section about your experience.

Receiving And Giving – The Healer Friend And The Magic Of A Dream


This is a very special post for me. A token of love and gratitude to the friends who have made difference in my life. Once in a while you come across someone who touches your life in an unexplained way. Someone who is a giver more than a receiver. I feel that is very inspiring. Not many give so unconditionally and freely.

I came to know Penelope and Slim Chandra-Shekar via Facebook. I felt an instant energy exchange. Strange, isn’t it, how a social network can become a channel for healing, for receiving and giving, for sharing and expanding in all possible ways? That itself is indicative that life opens up many ways to heal and to blossom. Love changes forms, negative turns to positive.

Healing works through spirit guides. If you are open and receptive distances don’t count.   Even though I have known Slim for sometime, I met him, for the first time, in June. He was visiting India to celebrate his father’s 99th birthday in B’lore and after that for three days he visited Delhi to meet friends and relatives. His physical presence was such a joy. They say when the student is ready the master appears. It is the same with spirit guides. They will be there when it is time. In that short time we spent together, I learned some meaningful life lessons, had long conversations over good food, listened to his amazing story of life transformation and how he and his wonderful wife Penelope are touching one life a day to bring joy and love through their work.

The Magic Of Gayatri

You know, sound is a very powerful medium of healing. The vibrations can actually dissolve the negative in you within no time. You just need to be in right energy frequency.  I still carry the essence of the positive energy I received through our interactions. Slim is shaman, healer, nutritionist, hypnotherapist and a wonderful human being. You can know a little about him HERE. Meeting people who are selflessly doing healing work is a gift that life brings. Apart from the love, care and understanding Slim gave me a token of spiritual love that I will cherish all my life. The Magic of Gayatri.  Gayatri mantra has been part of my life since childhood and I am aware of the immense peace and light it brings when chanted the right way. You will find many versions of it on the internet but the reason I found this particular CD worth listening is the profound energy vortex it creates within you. The calming voice of Slim, the introduction to the mantra the soothing music and the sublime rendering of the mantra makes it a wonderful vehicle to meditate, relax or just be inspired. The mantra works at whichever level you need help – physical, spiritual or emotional. For me, it opens my mind and heart when ever I chant it.

This isn’t a promotional post and I am not being paid to do this. This post is in gratitude, in love, in honor of what I received from my friend. It is important to spread the magic of Gayatri so that more and more people can benefit from it. You can let it play in the background as you work or sit quietly and let  the words wash over you. Since ancient times people have always used and still use the sound-vibration of chants for healing purposes. Many of us just chant the mantra mechanically and are deprived of the true value of Gayatri Mantra. Listening to Slim explain it with such simplicity made me chant it with intent and with an open heart. I am not a religious person but this mahamantra is a universal prayer that spiritually connects us. Frequently listening to it creates a permanent template of peace in our consciousness and even if you are not chanting the mantra it stays in you creating the inner calm. This, of course is my personal experience. I believe that we are all energy beings and we are all fluid. it is in our inherent nature to flow. If we don’t we rot. We need to keep expanding our vibrations. I don’t know if this makes sense but do think about it. I also feel that one needs to be watchful about what’s being said or repeated and this is not just for mantras, chants etc but in daily conversations, the sounds we hear and produce for they impact us in a very permanent way. Gayatri Mantra is next to chanting ‘Om’. It unblocks a lot of energies as it permeates through consciousness. The knowledge of the science and philosophy of Shabd brahm is an integral part of Indian spirituality. The Gayatri Mantra has a specific sonic pattern coded in syllables and vowels to carry the cosmic energies of sound and act as a spiritual tool. I feel that the chanting of mantras scientifically helps in healing as well as strengthening our mind-body-spirit triad. Filling us  with eternal calm and love.

When I talk of calm and love my thoughts turn to Penelope. I have not interacted much with Slim’s wife but followed her insightful writing and lovely art work on FB. I think the meeting with Slim expanded my inner horizons to receive more. I had always felt connected to Penelope at a different level. Many times I would just browse her pictures with grand children, friends, her husband or look at her paintings and other artwork and it would instantly fill me with calm and strength. Beautiful and talented as she is, one can feel her paintings through the screen. Slim and Pen are perfect examples of people for whom age is just a number. It is an inspiration that one can pursue one’s passions at any age. You are never too old for anything.

Here is another example of how the fragrance of healing comes to you. When we are open and even when we are not or think we are not, we are in relationship with everything around us. It is for us to consciously recognise and choose the positive and be in it.

Abstract Painting is one of the gifts Penelope has. She works with acrylic and mixed media. Her art has this strange calling. There is much more that what is clear. Art as a medium to heal is a concept I love. I reviewed a book sometime back where a doctor has introduced and infused poetry, music, art with medical care. It is exciting to know people are opening up to complementing and alternate healing therapies along with the modern medical care. The mind, body and spirit need to be in harmony for a wholesome wellbeing. Art in all forms – dance, music, painting, creates that harmony. Neuropsychologists believe that art and music heal by changing the person’s physiology and attitude. It changes from fear and stress to deep relaxation and inspiration, helping the person to change his/her perceptions of their world. Art, prayer, music and healing come from the same inner source of our body and are associated with similar brain wave patterns, mind-body changes. They all are deeply connected in feeling and meaning and take us to our inner resources of healing as we know that all healing comes from within.

I am struggling with a lot lately. I have a nervous temperament and am very vulnerable to everything around me. Life is challenging when you are a woman, rebel and have a mind of your own especially when living in Indian society. The fact that I trust so easily and open too soon is cherry on top and yet that is all I know. I am still learning to consciously be attentive to my emotions. To choose which emotion to act on, which to drown in and which to let go. To love, and bring myself up again.

On one such day, caught between the emotional and health issues, I had a very beautiful and life affirming dream. It was about Penelope. She came to me as a mother, a confidante, a friend. Women, I think are born healers. Some of us may not know it and hence not use the energies in positive ways but those who know, do amazing work. I have never spoken to Penelope, nor interacted with her much but still she found me as I sought the spirit who could guide me and she responded, a healing inspiration across time and space. I am a lucid dreamer and have earlier also connected to spirit guides in various forms and each time is special. It doesn’t have to be a human. It can be a spirit animal.

Let me introduce you to Gyp at this point. She was a Dingo, an animal companion of my very dear friend and mentor, author and artist Kris Saknussemm. Kris introduced her to us on FB through photographs and little stories about her and I always felt a calling. It was as if she was there, in the shadows, watching over me. I told Kris and he was very pleased. She was an animal spirit guide for many who met her or came in contact with her in some way. I often go and read this Article Kris wrote in her memory. The moment I read it for the first time I knew why we felt connected. Another female spirit , brave and wild, who was inspiring lives through her energies. Do click on the link and read.

Coming back to the dream, I shared it with Slim over the phone and he suggested writing to Penelope. I was hesitant but at the same time excited. The love I felt needed to be shared so I wrote to her. Here is what I said,

“I have been through difficult times and am still dealing with challenges, trying to bring on the positive in my life and this dream is a new beginning, new insight for me. Positive warm thoughts coming from you.”

“In the dream, You were making a painting with bright blue, fluorescent colour butterflies, fireflies etc. A beautiful scene from around where you stood. Not sure of the place but it was some lovely hilltop. I am sitting on a rock watching you paint.
The creatures you painted weren’t around us. You said “Tiku, if you believe in goodness of life it comes to you. Even inanimate comes to life.” I said , I believe you Pen, but how can inanimate come to life. It can have a different life, an aliveness about it but it can’t live like us.

You said, “like this” and as you gave the final touch to a wing of a bumblebees everything you had painted began to fly out, crawl out of the painting. Birds, butterflies, fireflies, bumblebees, the air got filled with a fragrance I can’t explain but I felt it. The canvas became white again as I watched awestruck. The voice I heard was soft, motherly voice. Something I crave for. It filled my heart. Not a shrill sound but light as a feather.”

“Wrapped in the fragrance and the sight I slept but I remembered the whole scene after waking up. I felt relaxed and the message came to me so clear , to move on, to cleanse myself of all the negative about myself, people , places. All the while we talked and I watched you paint Slim was in my thoughts too, as if validating the good vibes we shared. I loved the healing bond we formed.”

She responded with such love. A new bond was formed. She was even inspired to paint the dream and trust me, it is exquisite.

Tiku's Dream

Posted with the permission of the artist. (Penelope’s painting)

What can be more fulfilling that this? A blessing from the universe. You ask and you

receive.

Life unfolds in so many magical ways. One can only be grateful for such events and imbibe from them. That is the true gratitude. To learn from what you seek and flow with it. Heart connections are always way above the geographical distances. I always believed in this and now it’s proven in yet another amazing way.

Thank you Slim for connecting me and Penelope. For bringing to me the Magic of Gayatri, for your friendship and for the tremendous love and light you bring in so many way to so many people.

Thank you Penelope for making me aware of the immense possibilities that lie within me, for the dream visitation, for the awesome support work you are doing to touch so many lives and for being a strength, a solace and a source of light.

Thank you universe for your benevolence and for the challenges that make me strong.

For the gift of vulnerability in me.

The more we journey inwards, the more we shine outwards.

Let us create more space for healing. Do please listen to Magic of Gayatri and if anyone who is reading this wants to help Slim in making the CD available in India, please leave a note in his ‘contact me’ on the site link above.

“The things you take for granted are the things others are praying for.” Be generous with  gratitude. Be in harmony with yourself and with all.

Digital art by me. All rights reserved.

Digital art by me. All rights reserved.

Pan Grilled Spiced Pineapple


I love pineapple in any form. Sweet, juicy, delicious, it is one of the many nutritious tropical fruits. Pineapples are packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also rich in fiber and  and is low in fat and cholesterol too.

Apart from munching on the exotic ripe pineapple one can always indulge in the grilled version. I love to flavor it with minimal spices and toss in dark rum to jazz it up.

A perfect desert after a sumptuous meal or in breakfast or maybe as an evening snack. You can toss the grilled pineapple in a salsa or a salad too.

The trick is to pick up a fragrant, ripe golden color pineapple.  If the fruit is just a little soft to touch then that is what you are looking for. Anything green is under ripe and spotty browns are over ripe.

Now that we have picked the right fruit, lay it on a chopping board and cut off both the ends. Make it stand and cut the skin in strips. Once the fruit is skinned, remove the eyes and dice it in circles or make wedges. It is up to you whether you want to remove the core or not. This time I did not but usually I do and make wedges instead of circles.

Now, to grill the fruit you can either use the traditional outdoor grill or oven grill and grill for 2-3 minutes or till the grill marks appear and both sides are nicely browned or use a non stick pan if you don’t not have the other.

 

Ingredients

Fresh Ripe Pineapple Slices – 6

Organic Honey –  3 table-spoon

Cinnamon – I/4 teaspoon

Lemon zest – I/4 teaspoon

Lemon Juice – 2-3 tbsp

Dark Rum (Old Monk) – 4 table-spoon (Optional)

Black Pepper powder – as desired

Red chili powder – as desired

Method 

Prepare  the fruit as described above and collect all the ingredients at one place

Take honey in a mixing bowl, add cinnamon and other spices. Add lemon juice and dark rum to it and mix. Place the pineapple slices or wedges  in it so they are fully covered with the marinade.

IMAG0441

Pineapple in Marinade

Heat the grill or oven (Preheat the grill at 400 degree Fahrenheit ). I used a non stick pan here. Heat the pan and glaze it with a little olive oil. Arrange the pineapple slices once the pan is hot. Keep the flame at low- medium as the slices will tend to burn easily as the honey caramelizes.

If you are using grill or oven arrange the pieces on grill tray and close the lid. Check  in sometime and if  both sides have a gorgeous deep golden brown tan,  remove in a serving plate.

grill in a pan

This is how it should look from both sides when grilling  in a pan.

Do not throw the remaining marinade , brush it on the top of grilled slices.

Once done, arranged the slices in a serving plate. Serve hot as it is or with vanilla ice-cream or frozen yogurt.

Variations 

Tip 1– You can use brown sugar, maple syrup, golden syrup or if you are adventurous then toss the pieces in marmalade with a little salt sprinkled over them  instead of honey and it will blow your mind. I hate chocolate syrup with it but folks do use that too. (Too overpowering for me. Kills the natural sensuousness of the fruit)   🙂

You can top up the grilled pineapple with Vanilla ice cream and dulce deleche for a quick dessert.

Tip 2 –  Try using  fresh cracked black peppercorn and vodka instead of the above ingredients. It will tickle your senses like anything.  Trust me, there is nothing like a spiced up juicy sweet pineapple straight from the grill.

 Tip 3 –  You can also try just the salt and cayenne pepper too.  It rocks.

Tip 4 – Try just sugar and cinnamon for that quick treat.

Tip – 5 They go well in a margarita and on a Hawaiian Pizza.

Tip 6 –  Try using wooden skewers or chopsticks for each wedge /slice. Makes it easy to eat and looks neat on a party table.

Enjoy this tropical delight and let me know your experience.

Bon Appétit