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.

Chilling With Mangoes – A wholesome Parfait & Smoothie


I love fruit desserts especially those made with yogurt. These days mangoes are in season and the intense heat has added more sweetness to them. I bought a dozen of Kesar variety a few days ago and they were insanely sweet. Here are two healthy recipes to beat the sticky summer heat. The ingredients are the same but the tastes are different. Also, sometimes one wants to drink something refreshing yet nutritious rather than eat. So, we have two healthy choices here -A parfait and A Smoothie.

So, what’s different in this Mango Yogurt Parfait?

We are all familiar with overnight Oats and fruit Parfaits but here is a desi and healthy twist to that recipe with the lusciousness of mangoes and flattened/Beaten Rice or poha soaked in home cultured yogurt and lightly flavored. Enjoy this highly nutritious parfait as a dessert or a main breakfast dish to kick start your day.This recipe is inspired by blogger Sangeeta Khanna’s mango poha.

Flattened rice or poha is prebiotic and probiotic apart from being a rich source of many nutrients. It is easy to digest too.  I have more poha recipes on blog which you can explore and enjoy. Write ‘poha’ in the search tab and you will have them all.

 Mango Yogurt Parfait with Beaten Rice Flakes or Poha 

I can bet that once you have this refreshing Parfait you are surely gonna make it again. Choose ripe, juicy, fragrant mangoes and home cultured yogurt to reap the maximum nutritional benefits.

Ingredients :

  1. Chill the glasses in the fridge before assembling this versatile Parfait.
  2. Whip the yogurt with honey and chill it. That will make it an instant eat.
  3. Dry poha needs to be rinsed under filtered water in sieve and kept for sometime to
  4. Mix the soaked poha or flattened rice flakes in it. Mash and mix properly. Keep it in the fridge to puff up more and chill.
  5. In the mango puree add ginger juice and cardamom powder. Mix well. Chill.
  6. Now, take the serving glass or goblet and carefully put two spoons of mango puree in it then add a layer of yogurt poha mix. Alternate layers Till you reach 3/4 of the glass. You can layer them as per your choice.
  7. Keep the top layer of dahi poha and Top it with generous amount of cubed and chilled mango pieces.
  8. Refrigerate your Parfait a little more to set properly.
  9. Sprinkle granola, muesli or popped amaranth seeds (ramdana) or chopped nuts of your choice just before serving.
  10. Enjoy this wholesome utterly delicious healthy parfait any time of the day.

There are times when you are in rush and do not have time to relax and enjoy this Parfait but still want something healthy and filling. Don’t worry, just turn this int oa delightful chilled smoothie and drink it up.
Mango , Banana, Yogurt Smoothie 
 Freeze the fresh mango pulp and chopped bananas or even cubes of mangoes. Soak the poha in yogurt overnight in the fridge ( 2 tablespoons in 1/2 cup yogurt + 1 teaspoon of honey if required). Next morning Put everything in a blender and blend into a thick delicious smoothie. You can add or omit poha and banana. The smoothie is so versatile. Add popped ramdana (1 tablespoon if not using poha) or cooked oats .You can add explore the possibilities of tongue ticking taste by adding any other fruit with mango or nuts/ dry fruits etc.
But, I love it just like this. Too many flavors mar the delightful taste of mangoes which we don’t want. 🙂
My Tip: Brown or red poha gives it a nutty flavor and is more nutritious than the off white one. Do not go for white bleached poha. Try and used organic products. Prefer popped ramdana as topping but here I used muesli as garnish. Use organic as far as possible.
I do not use blender to puree the mango. I do it the traditional aamras way, rolling and pressing the mango between palms and, making a slit at one end to squeeze out all the pulp then mashing it nicely with hand till no lumps are left. This way the pulp has a nice texture and it gives the Parfait a unique taste too. Yes, there is distinct difference in blended pulp and hand squeezed pulp which you will notice when you have the smoothie. 🙂
Hope you will make these and let me know your feedback. So, go grab some mangoes till they last and indulge.

Chana Sattu Or Roasted Gram Flour Laddoos


 

India has such wonderful variety of indigenous food for every season. When the hot summer sun unleashes its fury  one wants to turn to simple nutritious meals. Sattu is a wonder flour that can be consumed uncooked. Now, is’t it a wonderful thought? The cooling properties of sattu  make it a perfect summer choice. It has low glycemic index and high fiber content. It is one of the highest sources of vegetarian proteins that is easily digestible and also of calcium and magnesium. As it provides iron too, I find it very healthy  option for my anemia.

Most popular in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh this humble flour, often called “Poor man’s food”, is loaded with nutrition and has lots of health benefits.

One can make so many dishes from this roasted flour from litti, sattu paratha, sattu puri, sattu laddoo to sharbat and baby gruel, you can make anything with this easily digestible flour.  .

Sattu can be made with roasted  Jau (Barley), chana (Bengal Gram)  or even wheat.

Here is a simple way to make your fresh Sattu at home. I used to make do all this some years back but then slowly resorted to organic sattu from stores. Sometimes our domestic help would get it from her village and I would again postpone making my own. Food blogger and nutrition consultant Sangeeta Khanna wrote about the benefits of Sattu and posted some gorgeous recipes on her blog. I was inspired and thought of reviving my healthy eating regime.

All of us have grown up munching bhuna chana or roasted chana with skin, sometimes with jaggery. The skinned version is mostly used for chutneys or salads. The masala coated ones are best snacks to munch on. The plain ones best to make sattu.

Chana sattu or roasted Bengal gram flour:

Take roasted skinned Bengal gram and if you don’t mind a little extra fiber then add a handful of those with skin too. Now, grind them till they  turn into a fine flour. If I mix the two I keep the proportion of 2-1 ( two parts skinned+ one part with skin)

That’s it. See, how simple it is. You can omit the ones with skin if you like. It is a personal choice.

I have a recipe for Sweet Sattu drink Sweet Sattu drink Here and will post the other version and some other recipes soon but for now here is the recipe for laddoos that will make you drool. They are quick. They are healthy and require no cooking. In flat 15 minutes you are ready for a nutritious sweet. Even kids can make it, it is so simple.

I used organic honey in one recipe which I learned from Sangeeta’s blogpost  and another with very fine jaggery powder.

Two Versions of Chana Sattu Laddoos 

With Honey on the left and with Fine powdered jaggery on the right

For Laddoos with Honey 

Take I cup chana sattu  in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) and two tablespoons of organic honey. Rub all the the ingredients together and bind the mixture to form small lemon size balls.

Your laddoos are ready to eat. 😀 

For Laddoos With Fine Shakkar or Powdered Jaggery 

Take 1 cup of chana Sattu and add 1 tablespoon of warm ghee (clarified butter) and two tablespoons of finely powdered gur or jaggery. (I had granuels so I churned them in the grinder till the powder became very fine) . Rub the ingredients together and bind it  to make  small lemon size balls.

I make the laddoos bite size so it doesn’t get wasted. One can have two if needed. A large laddoo often makes people hesitant. So make them small in size.

Tip- You can add powdered green cardamom seeds, raisins etc too. I love the simple roasted flavour of chana so rarely add anything else.

I made the ones with honey for the first time. The taste was unique and nice but I prefer the ones with shakkar or sometimes boora cheeni.

I hope some of you will make these and get back with feedback. I am sure kids would love them too.

Eat healthy and try to incorporate local, indigenous food on daily basis.  It is healthy and cheap.

 

Easy Mango Frozen Yogurt Recipe


Delhi markets are flooded with mangoes of all sorts. The Intense summer heat turns into sweetest of mangoes.  Safeda, Kesar, Sindura, Totapari, Begampalli, Neelam and you will even get Alphonso in bigger stores. Usually I thought Dasheri came after the rains but I see cartloads of them everywhere. After the rains it will be time for delicious Chausa and Langda.

When it comes to mangoes, no one can eat just one and as summer drifts away you are left longing for more. In my childhood summer rains brought Chussi aam, a small variety which we could suck and eat in dozens. I rarely find good ones these days. 

Mangoes need to be eaten with passion and abundance. They make me nostalgic. The first flush of aam ki baur (the flowers) and its intoxicating heady fragrance filling the summer afternoons. Lazying through the  holidays under the mango trees with friends or alone with a book. Stealing the raw ones while elders snoozed.

Raw mango with chili .. the tangy hotness. In my city summer dripped in mangoes which were put in buckets or tubs filled with cold water and then relished uncut. Raw mango pickles filled the home with mouth watering delight. The rope swings on the thick branches of mango trees and the anticipation of rains. It is all so special.

Eating with bare hands is the best way to enjoy mangoes. Juice trickling down the arms.Glasses of kachchi lassi (mix of water, milk and sugar) were forced down our throats after the mango eating session. I would run away before the ritual just to retain the flavor sweet ripeness in my mouth for just a little longer.

Though I do not like mango ice cream much, I love frozen yogurt made with luscious mangoes.

I think it is the next best thing to eating fresh mangoes as fruits. Aamras and aamrakhand also are some of my favorites.

This is a simple recipe of homemade mango frozen yogurt and can be made without an ice cream maker. You can make frozen yogurt with other fruits too, Make sure to whisk the mixture every 45 minutes to ensure  rich, smooth, creamy and ice- crystal free yogurt.

Ingredients:

Good quality ripe mangoes – 2-3 (2 cup of fresh frozen mango cubes)

Regular Yogurt – 1 Cup (you can use Greek Yogurt too)

Honey – 2 table spoon

Ginger Juice – 1/4 teaspoon

Basil leaf – 1 crushed fine (optional)

Lime Juice – 1 Tablespoon

Pure Vanilla – 1 teaspoon (optional)

Powdered Green Cardamom – For Garnishing

Method – 

Take good quality fully ripe mangoes. Wash, peel and cube them. Freeze in a zip lock bag. You can use frozen fresh whole mango also or avoid freezing altogether. Exploring new ideas is the key to amazing recipes. 🙂

Now take a liquidizer or blender and put the frozen mango cubes into it. Process it in the blender till a smooth creamy pulp is achieved. Add yogurt, honey, Vanilla, lime juice, ginger juice and a crushed basil leaf. Ginger and basil leaf are optional. I love the sting it gives to the yogurt. (I rarely add vanilla as it masks the flavor and fragrance of the mangoes but a few people love it so ahead and make two variations. )

Honey instead of sugar is a good idea as liquid sugar doesn’t allow ice-crystal formation and it also makes the yogurt super smooth and easy to scoop.

Blend the mixture for 2-3 minutes till the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Stop once in between to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl so that it blends evenly.

Process it for another minute or two and then scoop it out in a chilled freezable container. I used an airtight plastic container but metal container is the best if you have one. I sometimes use the cake tin or the bread tin. In that case I use cling wrap to cover. The cling wrap should touch the mixture to avoid formation of ice crystals.

Otherwise, if using a plastic container with lid, close it tightly before putting it away in the freezer for 45 minutes.

You can add raisins in the yogurt like I did along with some green cardamom powder.

After 45 minutes, use a spatula to scrape the already frozen edges of the mixture toward the still soft center and then whisk well. If the mixture is frozen completely, cut it with a knife and churn in the blender for a minute till it breaks and becomes smooth.

Put it back in the container and return to the freezer with lid on or the cling wrap tightly covering it.

Now, keep it in the freezer for two more hours, repeating the stirring process after every 30 minutes.

Keep it in the freezer till completely frozen.

Use chilled bowls to serve it as a soft serve yogurt or scoop it with an ice cream scoop into chilled bowls.

Sprinkle powdered green cardamom and garnish with a fresh basil sprig. You can use salted pistachio shavings as garnish too.

Serve the  smooth, delicately flavored, rich frozen yogurt immediately.

 

If you keep the Frozen mixture overnight or for long hours then make sure to allow it to soften a little before serving. You can give it a light mix with spatula just before serving.

Want to be more adventurous 🙂 ? Add 2 tablespoons of Smirnoff Vodka in the mixture before you keep it for setting. It tastes divine. If you use Vodka then avoid cardamom, basil and vanilla.

This is a healthy dessert and just in case you are in a rush you can skip the freezing part and drink it up as a smoothie too. Just like our own Mango lassi. 😀

Enjoy this sinful delight and let me know if you liked it. The color difference in the photographs is due to my silly phone camera and lighting. Please ignore. :p

Tip- The fully ripe mango will have a heady sweet fragrance. Look for the unblemished fruit and a little part of the stalk should be attached to the fruit which ensures that it has ripened naturally. The area around the stalk shouldn’t be shriveled or sunken. My fruit vendor says we hardly get tree ripened mangoes in Delhi but do try to look for these signs and you may find the finest somewhere.

Enjoy!

 

Taste Of Banaras At ThreeSixtyOne|The Oberoi Gurgaon


I am a big supporter of revival of regional, traditional cuisine and the use of indigenous ingredients in daily meals. When I came to know about Banaras Ka Khana Showcase at ThreeSixtyOne, The Oberoi Gurgaon, curated by Chef Ravitej Nath along with a dear friend, food consultant and writer Sangeeta Khanna, I did not want to miss this opportunity to taste the flavours of the temple town cuisine. My mother was born and brought up there and we decided to bring to her a part of her childhood and youth as a pre-birthday gift. She turns 84 on 31st March.Exif_JPEG_420

They say, when you strongly desire something the universe conspires to bring it to you. A contest won me ‘complimentary meal for two’ making the whole experience even more exciting.

Our Holi inspired Dinner began with Panchamrit which is offered to the devotees at Hindu temples as a blessing from the Gods. It is also used in many religeous rituals. The whiff of tulsi (Holi Basil) and the correct sweetness of milk and honey in the drink was a perfect beginning to what was going to be an unforgettable experience.  We forgot to take the picture of Panchamrit.

The street food or chaats of Banaras in the Chef’s tasting menu left us longing for more. As we dug into Tamatar ki chaat, Chivda matar, chenna ka dahi vada and sumptuous aaloo tikki accompanied with traditional aaloo papad and the four chutneys the first thing that came to mind was the  hot, sour, savoury notes of each dish perfectly balancing each other. Nothing was too overwhelming. Wadiyon ki chatney was an instant hit.

The sublime flavours enhanced the pleasure of eating. Ma promptly gave her seal of approval as she remembered her childhood spent in the lanes of the holy city exploring these very delicacies except the tamatar chaat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sangeeta later told us how the flavours of Gujrat have influenced the local cuisine and why. No wonder the tamatar chaat made me think of a similar dish sev tamatar.ki sabzi. It is amazing to see how the food has interconnections with so many parts of India and not just the city of Varanasi itself.

I loved Harad ki papdi, fara, bajka, bhapouri and bhabra too. We make Bajka at home and call it Lobra. Long time ago in Banaras, Harad ka golgappa was served  to digest all the fantastic chaat that the chaat bhandars fed you and this Harad ki papdi was a perfect revival of that. Excellent in taste and texture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The khus ka sherbat, aam panna were delicious but the thandai with special hand crafted portion and pan cocktail made with fresh pan leaves and lemon won my heart. Nowhere can one find something so fantastic. Both the drinks were simply out of the world.

The chefs had divided street food and main course in two distinct segments and the drinks served with them complimented the food perfectly.

We loved the street food totally. My son had never tasted the Banaras cuisine so it was a  unique experience for him. He loved the moong beans filled aaloo tiki and chene ka dahi vada.

I knew that the banaras ki thali was going to be a big sumptuous affair so we lingered with the pan mocktail reminiscing about the city and its culture.

We got both non vegetarian and vegetarian thalis in main course.

The Vegetarian Thali 

The Breads 

I had the vegetarian Thali and was bowled over by matar ka nimona (crushed green peas cooked with ginger and coriander) , Gular ka chokha, aaloo chokha and kaddu ki sabzi. It was very much the ghar ka khana. Each dish balancing the taste of the other. I found the flat breads a bit hard and one of the littis was under-cooked but the rest of amazing.  The khade masale ka pulav, made with short grain aromatic rice called Zeerabutti, had such a sublime flavour it really blew my mind.

I was surprised to see mom relishing the meal with such gusto as she is a very small eater. The khoya, matar, makhane ki sabzi was a delight. I had never tasted it before but my ma gave it 10/10 in taste. She found it as authentic as it could be. The tempered moong daal was just as we make at home. Delicious, to say the least.  Again, I found that the pairing of dishes was done in such a way that the tastes do not overwhelm each other.

The non -veg thali

Non Vegetarian Thali

The non veg thali had sookha jheenga (dried shrimps), motton kalia and sadi litti among other things and my son loved the shrimps and the river sol in mustard gravy.

I would love to go on about each dish but the festival is still on till 26th March at ThreeSixtyOne, The Oberoi Gurgaon and if you are in or around Delhi/NCR, you MUST visit and indulge in the Rivayat of Banaras.

Meals that are prepared and served with love are the best. We could see how Sangeeta had put her heart and soul in each preparation, going out of the way to procure the finest ingredients to create the original banarasi khana. Hats off to the F&B team of Chef Manish Sharma, Chef Ravitej Nath who recreated this fabulous along with Sangeeta

Now it was time for desserts and conversations with our gracious hostess.

 

As you can see mom had a lovely time reminiscing about Banaras with Sangeeta. They talked about traditions, city heritage, old houses, chawks and gaiyan, old eateries, their childhood and of course the delectable food. I was happy to see my mom enjoying every bit of the experience.

Malaiyyo, a specialty of Banaras, stole the show. Frothy, light as air and delicately tasteful,  it brought back a surge of nostalgia. Ma told that they would get up early morning before sunrise in winter to eat this delicacy which was then served in earthen pot the size of a small diwali diya. We loved the food and we loved the stories.

Exif_JPEG_420

The Desserts

Biranji Kheer

Biranji Kheer

The naturally tulsi scented Sankatmochan laddoos and Sri ram Bhandar’s lal peda (especially flown in from Banaras) were out of the world. I enjoyed the hare chane ki barfi which was new for me and the Biranji kheer was a delight. I make it at home but this was ethereal. Adi was bowled over by Malaiyyo.

Three generations in love with the vibrant food and Banaras came home with fondest memories, blissful dinning experience, unconditional love and a bagful of goodies.

I want to congratulate everyone who is part of Rivayat- Indian Culinary Conclave  and Banaras ka khana fest. You have kept the spirit and soul of the cuisine intact. Well done.

Special thanks for the warmth of hospitality by The Oberoi Gurgaon Staff. Thank you Mallika Gowda for your understanding and care.

Those who wish to know more about the dishes that were served here  or want to try making some of them at home, do visit Sangeeta’s blog Banaras ka Khana .

Recipe – Sweet Potato | Shakarkandi Halwa


Shakarkand or Sweet Potatos are in season and I am including them in my daily meals in one way or the other. Mostly I love to just roast or boil them to eat as chaat but sometimes I indulge in a dessert like shakarkand ka halwa or shakarkand ke gulab jamun. This is my first sweet potato halwa of the season. Sangeeta Khanna of Healthfood Desi Videshi has some interesting salads and other recipes with sweet potato that I plan to try. Sweet potatoes are very healthy and can be used instead of white potatoes. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The Indian sweet potato has a nice pink skin and a yellowish white flesh inside.

Frankly I had no idea how creative one can in cooking with them. The tuber is so varsetile that it can be used for soups, salads, cassroles, chips, stir fries, and desserts of all kinds. It can be baked, roasted, boiled or used raw as per the need and taste. The leaves of the sweet potato are also edible. I mean the list is endless. one is just spoilt for choices.

Shakarkand ka halwa is a winter speciality. This sweet tuber is a favorite with people who are fasting and is part of the diwali faraal. Delicate sweetness of boiled mashed sweet potatoes, just the right amount of sugar flavoured with green cardamom gives it a unique taste. I don’t use milk in in the recipe but some people do.

Ingredients for the halwa : 

Sweet Potatoes – 2-3 Medium size (1 cup boiled/mashed)

Sugar – (depends on the sweetness of sweet potato so add accordingly)

Ghee –  3-4 tablespoon

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Almonds or Cashewnuts for garnish

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Method –

Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Wash them clean and boil till they become soft. You can steam, microwave or pressurecook them too.

Once they are tender, take them out in a plate and peel.

Mash and keep aside.

In a heavy bottom pan heat ghee (clarified butter) or oil. ( I prefer ghee).

Add mashed sweet potatoes to the hot ghee and stir.

Let it cook on low-medium heat till the rawness is gone and a nice aroma begins to float from it. Add cardamom powder and saute some more. I saute it till it gives a slightly toasted aroma.

At this point stir in the sugar. Do taste the shakarkand to adjust the sugar. Mix well.

Now, cook it till it becomes nice golden brown.

Keep stiring so it doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the halwa gets a nice colour add shredded blanched almonds or roasted crushed cashewnuts. I find almonds taste better than cashewnuts. It is a personal preferance.

Take it off the heat and serve hot garnished with more nuts. You can sprinkle some cardamom powder on top.

Tell me how do you use Sweet potatoes?

Cooking With Millets – Recipe – Jowar Ke Laddu ( Sorghum Flour Laddoo)


I have decided to do a few posts with one of the millets as a main ingredient. Millets were once part of our daily food routine but then the usage of these traditional grains slowly dwindled away as rice and wheat took over. With recent studies about rice especially polished rice and increase in gluten intolerance a lot of people are going back to cooking with millets like finger millet, pearl millet, sama etc.for healthy living. The humble grain that was always stereotyped as food for underprivileged is now making it to the health food racks of super stores. I am glad that for whatever reason ,at least the millets are back and it is a good sign. I am reading and learning more about them as I experiment more with each one.

Millets are far more nutrition dense than rice or wheat. One can pound/grind them into flour or pop them to make delicious dishes. Their use is not limited to make rotis or flatbread. They are rich in magnesium so a good choice for those with diabetics. They also have high levels of calcium, folic acid, dietary fiber, zinc, iron, B vitamins esp niacin and B6 among other things. Easy to digest, they can be eaten by all age groups.

I have started using millet flour for making pancakes, muffins, breads,  flatbread, dosa, laddus, idlis, paisam ( with sama) etc. The whole grains like bajra I use for khichadi, upma, Ragi ( finger millet) as a health drink in milk is one of my favorites. As I earlier said, the use of millets is not limited to rotis these days. I use mixed millet flour in winters to make theplas, rotis, bhakris etc.

Jowar flour ( sorghum flour) Laddus (laddoo)

Diwali is round the corner and I am making some healthy mithai these days in small quantity everyday. Today’s special is Jowar Laddoos or Sorghum flour laddoos. I used to make multi grain indian style granola or panjeeri every winter in large amount but now I make a little. I feel these laddus are more convenient to carry around and boys like them. Though the besan laddu remains a favorite  along with the wheat flour + green gram or moong bean laddu.

The good thing here is the use of unrefined organic jaggery granules which I bought from I Say Organics. Usually I use the organic flour too. Jaggery adds to the nutritive value along with dates, and a mixed bag of nuts, and seeds. You can add them as per your liking. Use of jaggery also ensures less use of fat 9 ghee) as binding agent so these are low-fat laddus.

You can use jowar pops and flour both for these. It take just about 15 minutes to make 10-15 laddus.You can use palm jaggery or the sugarcane jaggery. I use both depending on availability. The laddoos are good source of iron and that’s why highly recommended for women.

Ingredients:

Jowar ( Sorghum ) flour – 1/2 cup

Jaggery – 1/2 cup

dates –  chopped roughly 2 tablespoon

sesame seed (white ) 1 tablespoon

mixed nuts – walnuts, almonds, peanuts

Raisins – 1 tablespoon

Seeds – melon seeds or magaz – 1 tablespoon

Ghee – 2 -3 tablespoon

Method –

If you are using Jowar grains then you will need to pop them first. Heat a pan well and toss a handful of grains. Never crowd a pan for roasting grains. They won’t get roasted evenly and might get burnt too. A quarter cup of raw grain will give you a cup of popped grain so measure and use accordingly.

Alternately use the jowar flour which is easily available in winter all over India.

In a heavy bottom non stick pan dry roast the flour on slow heat. Never hurry with these things. Good dish requires patience and passion.

Once the flour starts to give out a roasted aroma and turns slightly brown remove it from the heat and keep aside.

Dry roast all the nuts and seeds separatly. Chop the dates roughly. If you are using jaggery blocks then grate or pound them a bit.

Now, In a grinder add the roasted nuts,seeds, raisins and dates and the jaggery. Grind till everything mixes into a smooth guey texture.

In a bowl , spoon the roasted jowar flour and this mixture. Mix it with your fingers. Actually rub it in.

Now heat the ghee. Once it is hot just pour it over the mixture and mix thoroughly. Quickly make lemon size balls and keep in a plate.

Your delicious power packed laddoos are ready. Let them cool and then enjoy the earthy flavours.

You can store them in air tight containers and eat one or two everyday. Children love it so encourage them to have these healthy sweets. You can carry them in your bag while travelling.

Enjoy something healthy this diwali. 

Carrot Fudge ( Gajar Ki Barfi) – Recipe


Summer is fast approaching in North India and the winter vegetables are disappearing from the markets. Fortunately the red juicy local carrots are still sweet to eat and readily available. I love sweets and carrot halwa is one of my all time favorite winter dessert but this time I wanted to do something different. After the success of besan burfi I decided to make carrot barfi. Barfi is mainly made from milk, ghee and sugar and has a lot of variations like kaju barfi, badam barfi, besan barfi and coconut burfi etc. The carrot and doodhi (bottle gourd) burfis are nutritious and have a delicious taste.

This particular soft burfi (fudge) is low on fat and sugar as the carrots were naturally sweet and barfi usually takes less ghee (clarified butter) than the traditional halwa.  Carrots are packed with nutrition and are full of vitamin A and antioxidants. Totally a powerfood.  Full of flavor and goodness of carrots this classic sweet is simple and easy to make.

We will need – 

Carrots – 1/2 kg

Sugar- 1 cup ( you can add sugar to taste depending on the sweetness of the carrots)

Ghee ( Clarified Butter) – 4 table spoon full

Green Cardamom Powder – 1 teaspoon

Raisins – 4 table spoons

Shredded Almonds – 4 tablespoons

Milk (Full Cream) – 1/2 Kg

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Method –

Select carrots which are thin and have less of yellow central part. I use the red local carrots and not the English ones but you can choose the ones available in your market.

Wash, peel and grate the carrots.

In a heavy bottom pan heat the milk and when it comes to boil add the grated carrots.

Let it boil for a minute then put it on simmer.

Let the mixture cook till it thickens and the milk is nicely absorbed. Slow cooking will turn the milk into khoya like texture so there won’t be any need for adding khoya.

Once all the milk is absorbed add sugar and continue to stir to avoid burning the mixture. Keep the heat at medium to low. The sugar will make the mixture a bit liquidy so let all the water evaporate.

Once the mixture is free of all liquid add ghee and stir. Let it cook in ghee at slow heat till the mixture starts to leave ghee from the sides.

At this point add cardamom powder, half of the shredded almonds and the raisins. Stir them well.

Take a tray or small cake tin and line it with foil or grease it properly.

Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture into the tray or tin. Smoothen it properly and sprinkle the remaining shredded almonds on top for garnish.

Let it set for at least two to three hours. You can keep the tray in the fridge too.

Once the mixture is set properly cut it into the desired shape ( square, rectangle or diamond ).

Remove the pieces on to a plate and serve. Unlike the halwa the burfi is eaten cold. You can add shredded pistachios or put silver vark if desired.

The beautiful and delicious orange-red burfi is ready to eat.

ps- The slideshow doesn’t show pictures in order . Sorry about that. Do follow the steps in the recipe. 🙂

Making Gram Flour and Fresh Coconut Fudge ( Besan Nariyal Barfi)


I love Indian sweets and besan laddoo and barfi  are my favorites. If you love the aroma of roasted gram flour and the divine taste of fresh coconut you will love this barfi. It is simple to make and can be stored for a longtime.  Gram flour and Coconut are both healthy ingredients and the recipe doesn’t use much fat. I like my barfi and laddoos to be a little crumbly but not dry.

To make the Barfi you will need :

Coarse gram flour – 1 cup ( the fine variety isnt good for the sweets. Corse one gives a good grainy texture)

Fresh desiccated coconut or coconut powder – 1 cup

Green cardamom – 4 (peeled and seeds grounded fine)

Raisins – 1/4 cup

Boora Cheeni –  3/4 to 1 Cup  ( I like to use Boora Cheeni for its texture and flavour. You can use granulated or powdered sugar too)

Almonds – shredded for garnish (optional)

Ghee (Clarified Butter) –  Approx 6 table spoons

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Method

First grate the fresh coconut ( if using it) and keep aside. Take the coarsely ground gram flour and dry roast till  slight brown. Slow heat is recommended. Add cardamom powder at this time. ( If you don’t have coarse variety then add two tablespoon of roasted semolina)

Once done take it out in a bowl and keep aside. Now dry roast the coconut very carefully till it changes color to slightly brown. Remove in a bowl.

Take the ghee and pour it in a non stick pan. When it heats up a little fold in the gram flour and keep stirring till a nice roasted aroma begins to fill the air.

Add the coconut to it at this point and keep stirring . Keep it on very low heat to avoid burning.

Once the mixture is smoothly browned ( I like it slightly darker and roasted well) add sugar. ( You can make syrup and add but not with boora cheeni. I never use sugar syrup and I don’t like to add water to the mixture)

Stir in the sugar, breaking all the lumps in the process.

Turn off the heat, add the raisins and pour the mixture in a greased square plate ( I didn’t have it so used a round one) . You can line the plate with greased aluminium foil like I did.

Let it set for an hour or till it becomes firm to cut.

Cut it in whichever shape you wish and store in an air tight box.

You can garnish the barfi with pistachios or shredded almonds. (I prefer not to garnish. It masks the heavenly flavour of the barfi IMO)

Enjoy!

Twist Of Taste – Sweet Thalipeeth With Jaggery And Dates


I made three variants of thalipeeth yesterday . Today I remembered how we used to eat jawar(Sorghum), bajra(Pearl Millet) and makki(Corn) ki roti with gur and sometimes milk. We called it Churma.

Also the delicious puranpoli and the north Indian version gur ki roti made with coarse wheat flour and then I remembered making the sweet thalipeeth years ago. No one liked the taste of it in my in-laws’ Punjabi household so I ate the entire lot and never got a chance to make it again.

I find it very nutritious and savoury though it has a unique taste and if you condition yourself then it will be tad bit difficult to digest the fact that thalipeeth can be made sweet too 😀 I am sure there might be some original recipe for sweet thalipeeth but I am not aware of it so if you know one, please share.

I love its sweet, gooey, crunchy, biscuit like crumbly texture and find it full of robust flavours.

I tried it again today with fresh dates and organic jaggery powder ( shakkar). I also add dried figs, raisins etc. It all depends on my mood that day and availability of the ingredients.

The fun part is it is not fried like shakarparas or muthias we used to make at home.

The #Twistoftaste tag is inspired by Chef Vikas Khanna, that’s not my original term so all credits to him. 

Here is how I make sweet thalipeeth.

You can make a regular bhajani ( thalipeeth flour) minus the spices for this one.  Jowar, Bajra, Ragi, Chickpeas(split), white Indian lentil ( split and skinned urad), and wheat all in equal measure. Dry roasted individually till they change color and a nice aroma starts coming. They are then mixed and ground till a fine flour is obtained.

To make Sweet Thalipeeth

Ingredients –

Bhajani or Thalipeeth flour – 1 cup

Jaggery or shakkar – 1/2 Cup

Soft Fresh Dates – de-seeded and cut finely

Raisins – 2 tablespoon

( you can substitute dates with dried figs or anything you desire)

Ghee / Clarified butter – just a little

You can add a few fennel seed for flavour.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Method –

In a large plate mix the flour, jaggery powder or grated jaggery, raisins, finely chopped dates and mix. Now take warm water and slowly add it to the flour mix to make a smooth dough. It will be sticky, gooey and a little tricky so add water slowly and keep mixing and kneading with fingers.

Once the dough is properly made cut it into small balls. TT ball size if you want the thalipeeth small like I do or you can make them a little bigger too.

Put a non stick frying pan or a skillet on high flame and drop a little clarified butter in it.   Make small pancakes with the dough balls by either patting them with fingers between hands or with a rolling-pin. Apply a little warm ghee if it’s too sticky. make some cuts or small holes so that it cooks uniformly.

Carefully transfer the thalipeeth or pancake to the frying pan and cover it with lid. Keep the flame medium – low so the thalipeeth doesn’t burn and cook properly. Sweet will make it burn easily.

Flip it and brown it from the other side too. Brush a little ghee if it sticks to the pan. Handle gently as it will tend to break.

Once done take it out in a plate. If you like it warm and soft you can eat it with hot ghee or wait for sometime for it to cool and become a little firm. I like it biscuit like and store it in an airtight box in fridge. I warm it for a few sec on a skillet just to bring it to room temperature before eating. You can crush it and add hot milk and eat it from the bowl too. Depends how you enjoy it.

Let me know if you try this recipe and if you blog about it leave a link in the comment section.

Eat it when you feel the need for a snack. It is filling and healthy too.

Bon Appetit!