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.

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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.

 

Nolen Gurer Sondesh – My Sweet Story


 

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I have some fond memories of going to the Annapurna Bhandar opposite Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara in Chandni Chowk as a little girl. Only a promise of chumchum and nolen gurer sondesh or jalbhara sondesh would make me take the trip with mom. Later as I grew up I would often visit the lanes of old city and feast on the sounds and colors the place offered. Food of course was one of the attractions but whatever I may eat there was always some place for these two favorites.

My next project Nolen gurer jalbhara kara pak sondesh from Annapurna Sweets. Center filled with fresh date palm jaggery. One of the things I can’t stay without. Just the right sweetness, delicate taste, melt in the mouth goodness in every bite. A must have for all the sweet connoisseurs.

 

I would watch my dad in fascination as he made the softest melt in the mouth sondesh once in a while as a treat to me. There aren’t many good memories I associate with my growing up years but this is one of the few that ever were.

I learned to make the plain sondesh but never got the same texture or taste as dad’s or those bought from Annapurna. I seemed to be doing everything right but something was still missing.

Few days ago I decided to make the pressure cooker rosogullas and that is another sweet which has been a bit of a challenge for me. So, I decided to do some research. As usual my first stop for all food related issues is Sangeeta Khanna’s blogs. I found an old post on How to make Rasullas step by step and while I read I realized what exactly was wrong in my approach.

It was the technique of making Chenna /chana/ that was causing the issue. I always feel that cooking is a science and once you master that you can be as creative as you want.

I made chena/ Indian cottage cheese as per Sangeeta’s instructions and nailed it this time. The chenna was perfect, the rasgullas soft and spongy as they should be ( will post recipe soon) and then I couldn’t stop myself to make the fabled Nolen gurer sondesh.

A friend had given me some date palm jaggery and I had a little left of it.  Though sondesh is best made with cow’s milk I opted for full cream toned Mother Dairy milk.

Here is the link to Sangeeta’s recipe but I will post the steps anyway.

I prefer fresh Nolen gur, ‘Notun Gur’ or ‘Khejur Gur’  or date palm jaggery over the sugarcane one for its unique flavor, fragrance and texture. It is available only in winter and has many health benefits. It helped in raising my HB during the treatment of anemia. It is rich in magnesium as well. Google more. 😀

 

How to Nolen Gurer Sondesh 

Here is how I made the perfect cottage cheese / chenna/ chana at home. The important thing to keep in mind while making Bengali mithai is – Fresh homemade cottage cheese or chenna otherwise the sweets won’t come out well.

 

To make perfect chenna :

Ingredients : 

Full fat milk / Cow’s milk – 4 Cups

Juice of lemon – 1 lemon  or 1/4 cup curd (home cultured preferably or 1/4 cup white vinegar

Steps – 

  1. Heat a pan of water and keep aside. Keep a sieve over a large pan ready.
  2. Slightly wet a thick bottom pot, add milk and heat till the first boil comes. (slight variation from Sangeeta). Turn off the heat.
  3.  Start adding the lemon juice mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Do it slowly and keep stirring. The milk needs to curdle slowly after each addition. I added in four steps till the greenish, transparent whey separated from the cheese.  If it doesn’t then reheat the milk and it will in a few minutes. Don’t stir too much or the chnna will become hard.
  4. Once the whey is separated nicely strain the whey through the steel sieve. Here I learned that the good cheese or chenna will stick to the spoon which is indicative that it will be a cohesive mass ideal for the sweet making.
  5. Toss the chenna/cottage cheese into the center.
  6. immediately dunk it in the hot water ( this is where I went wrong earlier. I was using the cold water method.)
  7. Rinse the cheese properly by pressing it to the side of the bowl a few times. The water may turn milky which is good.
  8. Now, put it back in the sieve and remove the excess water by lightly pressing. No need to press hard. A little moisture will give you a better sondesh or it will turn dry and crumbly.
  9. Once all the water is drained, take in out in a large plate and rub and knead with the heals of your palm till you get a smooth, lump free 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.
  10. Now your chenna is ready for making sondesh or rasgullas. Use as you desire.

 

To make Nolen Gurer Sondesh 

Ingredients :

Chenna we just prepared

Date palm jaggery – 1 cup grated and softened ( I did it in microwave)

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp ( optional)

A few raisins – Optional

Warm ghee ( I used homemade) – 1 tsp

Steps :  

  1. Once you have the smooth chenna dough add softened jaggery to it. Rub again with the heals of your palm till you get a homogenous mixture and the jaggery is well absorbed.
  2. Heat a non stick pan on low flame and  add the mixture to it. Cook it for 4-5 minutes not more.
  3. Take it out in a large plate and let it cool completely. You can cover it with damp cloth and keep in fridge for half and hour or so.
  4. Once cooled break it with fingers, add atsp of warm ghee and knead it again with heals of your palm to bring it all together nicely. Add cardamom powder if using and mix.
  5. Now make small balls of the chenna and decorate with a raisin. If you have molds then use them to shape the sondesh.
  6. You can make them when the chenna is slightly warm too. It will take some time for them to hold the shape.
  7. I love the slightly grainy texture of the sondesh but you can make them smooth too. It depends on your taste and the quality of your cottage cheese.
  8. Serve them at room temperature.

 

Note –

Mine were norom pak sondesh which are melt in the mouth. The other ones are kora pak sondesh which are a bit harder.

You can use sugarcane jaggery too instead of the date palm jaggery.

If you do not heat the mixture and make the sondesh directly they will be known as Kancha Golla. They too taste delicious but I prefer the cooked version.

 

Do try and let me know the results. Making any dish is a labor of love so do not rush through the steps. Getting the perfect chenna is the tough step then it is a cakewalk.

 

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

 

 

Festive Recipe – Traditional Besan Laddu


 

There is no mithai more soul satisfying than perfectly made besan laddoos. I make the rawa – besan laddoos and besan barfi too but these remain my first choice. Over the years I have perfected the texture and taste of these laddoos so sharing my recipe.

Use of home made tagar or boora is the secret to the goodness of these laddoos. If I am unable to make tagar at home I go for organic, chemical free pure bura/boora. Powdered granular sugar is no match to this and isn’t used in the original prasad laddoos.

My mother is from Banaras and she fondly remembers the Sankatmochan laddoos. The subtle flavor of those besan laddoos have a mild fragrance of  tulsi ( Holy Basil) leaves which are kept along with the prasad in a palm leaf box. Usually when I make them I keep a few tulsi leaves in the box in which I store the laddoos. Just for sentimental reasons.

If you have been to Sankatmochan Mandir then these will bring back the memories for sure. Though every place has its unique experience and no laddoos can taste like the ones you get there, these come close to having the real ones. Maybe it the essence of the place that makes them very special. Do visit the mandir once at least. Everyone should experience Banaras at least once in a lifetime.

The last time I tasted Sankatmochan laddu was in March 2016, at the Banaras ka khana – showcase, a food festival at the Oberoi Hotel, Gurgaon, curated by Sangeeta khanna along with Chef Manish Sharma, Chef Ravitej Nath and team. An unforgettable experience.

I also prefer the laddoos to be mildly sweet. Too much sugar, in my opinion, masks the flavor of roasted besan. It is a personal choice. I used organic, desi, chemical free Bura in this recipe.

Ingredients : 

Chickpea flour / besan ( the coarse variety) – 300 gm

Bura Cheeni / Crystalline sugar / tagar – 150 – 200 gm

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

Ghee / Clarified butter –  150 gm ( just enough for binding)

A few Holy basil / Tulsi leaves

Steps : 

Choose a coarse variety of besan ( mota besan) to make laddoos. It gives them a good grainy texture.

Heat a thick base kadhai and lower the flame. Add besan and dry roast it till it changes color slightly. Keep stirring to avoid burning.

Add the ghee and mix it properly. Roast on low- medium flame. As you keep stirring you will notice the changes in the mixture. It will be crumbly at first then loosen up a bit as it gets roasted. The color will change to different shades of brown from the golden yellow it was. I prefer slightly more roasted laddoos. The ones  we get in the market are lighter in color. The aroma is an indicator of a well roasted besan ghee mixture. There is no word to explain it other than khamang or sondha. I hope you know what I mean.

Make sure the flame is low or the besan will either burn or get extra roasted which we do not want at any coast. Once you get the desired color, add the boora cheeni and the green cardamom powder.

Gently mix everything and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the gas and take out the mixture in a broad thali or parat or plate. You can add the tulsi leaves at this point like I did but it is not essential. I just experimented due to sheer nostalgia. Don’t bind them in laddoos.

Let the mixture become cool enough to handle and quickly make the laddoos of desired size. I make them walnut size or bite size as I call them.

If the mixture begins to solidify you can heat it again to allow ghee to melt for binding. Warm mixture binds well.

Make all the laddoos and store in an airtight container along with some tulsi leaves.

I forgot to click the step by step pictures but will add soon when the next batch is made. Will try and make tagar / boora at home and will post the recipe. 

You can add dry fruits like finely chopped almonds, raisins etc. I prefer them without any added stuff but do make some for those who prefer that.  These were made a few months back with raisins. Smaller than the walnut size I make as i noticed the familia breaking the bigger ones into half and eating. So, for small hungers. 🙂

 

On that note, Happy festivities to all my readers. Stay blessed and loved. Ignore the bad photography skills. Make these and trust me all you will ever remember is the taste.

 

 

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.

Khubani Ki Barfi | Apricot Fudge


I have a weakness for fresh apricots but when they are not in season I go for the dried ones. Usually I make the khubani ka meetha, the traditional exotic dessert from Hyderabad with the whole dried apricots but for the other recipes like this one I use the other variety. I try to get the ones not treated with sulfur as far as possible. The organic ones are darker in color and have a coarse texture.

Apricot is one of the stone fruits that has glorious orange color when cooked. I make compote, jam, chutney, roast or caramelize them. I also poach them with cinnamon and other autumnal spices. Apricots pair magically with chicken dishes so I use them in baked dishes or casseroles too. They taste fabulous in sorbet too.

The healthier use is to toss them in salads apart from just having it as it is. The dried fruit is full of carotenoide and potassium. Rich in fiber content it has low glycemic index and fat, it is also packed with many essential nutrients.

So, you see summers are not just about mangoes, they are also about these lovely stone fruits. You can see some more of my recipes with apricots Here and Here. I will be putting up more with the dried ones later.

This Fudge or Barfi is practically a cross between khubani ka meetha and apricot halwa. I prefer to cut it in squares or rectangles but you can make ladoos from it too. There are many variations of this fudge. One is with fresh pitted dates that does not require any sugar and is healthier. I use lots of nuts ( powdered or coarsely grounded) in these fudges or ladoos. I also add dried figs to make them power packed with nutrients. The natural sugars make them sweet so there is no need to add the commercial sugar.

The spices used are mostly green cardamom and clove powder. I use saffron when I want to indulge. It is optional.  I am sure you’ll the flavor and texture of this barfi. A little chewy and grainy unlike other burfis, this one is also gluten free.

Ingredients : 

Dried Apricots – 400 gm

Sugar – 1/2 Cup ( as required) (Not required if you use Sweetened condensed milk)

Sweetened condensed milk- 4 tbsp

Saffron – 4-6 threads ( soaked in a little warm water)

Dry fruits – Nuts of your choice ( almonds/ pistachios pair well)

Edible Silver leaf (vark)  – Optional

Cloves – 4-5  ( freshly ground in to a fine powder)

Green cardamom seeds – 3-4 ( freshly ground in to a fine powder )

Ghee –  2-3 tbsp

Steps :

If using whole dry apricots, soak them in warm water till they become plump and then remove the stone. To use pitted ones either add enough water to cover them and microwave for 20 seconds on high or soak for an hour at least in warm water.  Use just enough water as we will not use it in the recipe.

Drain the water once the fruit is plump and chop is roughly. Put in a blender and make a coarse puree. I love the little pieces in the fudge. They give the barfi a nice texture.

Heat a non stick pan or wok and add ghee. Once it melts add the pureed apricots and stir on a medium low heat. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes till the rawness goes. ( Don’t brown it)

Add sugar or condensed milk and stir till the mixture comes together and the ghee leaves the sides. Add the chopped nuts and saffron and mix well. I sometimes powder the nuts as a few elders find it difficult to eat chopped nuts. You may adjust sugar as per your need. I prefer the slight tang of the fruit and like my barfi less sweet.

Cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.

Meanwhile take a tray / plate / low cake tin / cookie sheet and grease it with ghee. I used the foil to line it but realized it sticks to the fudge even when greased so avoid.

Let the mixture cool and the transfer it to the greased tray. Spread evenly and garnish with shredded nuts and edible silver leaf if using.

Let it now set for  till you feel it can be cut easily. As the burfi is grainy and more halwa like it will be good to refrigerate  the  ready mix for a while before cutting.

Cut into squares or rectangles and serve. You can store it in an airtight container and keep in fridge for a day or two.

I made it for my niece and she loved it. If you make it then do let me know in the comment section.

Tip:

At the stage when the mixture is ready to be transferred you can simply spoon it out in a bowl and garnish to serve as a halwa too. Eat it warm unlike the cooled fudge.

If you use dates and / or / dried figs in this recipe then soak them similarly and blend in to a coarse grainy mixture. You need not use sugar or condensed milk. Use less ghee in this version.

I also discovered that greasing the tray with an oil spray is better as ghee tends to become condensed as the mixture cools and then it’s tough to cut the barfi neatly. It sticks to the tray. You may sometime have to five it the desired shape by pressing gently with the fingers.

You can try cinnamon to spice it. Omit the green cardamom.

 

Mango Phirni With Mango Roses | Indian Mango Rice Pudding With Mango Roses


Mangoes are in season and there is nothing more satiating than this dessert. Fragrant rice in full cream milk with flavor of ripe mangoes is delicately delicious and looks fantastic with the mango roses. This was my first attempt in making the roses and the mangoes were so juicy and ripe that it didn’t work the way I wanted but then it was fun and lip smacking.  I also discovered an easier way of getting those roses right which I will share later along with some other fruit and vegetable flowers.

The secret to a good phirni is the coarsely ground rise that has a semolina like texture. Traditionally it is served in mitti ka kasora or a small earthenware bowl. I didn’t have those so used a clay pot to chill the phirni then served in glass bowls. Nuts, saffron, silver leaf are used traditionally as a garnish but with the gorgeous mango flavour and roses on top I did not use anything extra. Creamy and grainy, this is a perfect dessert after a lavish meal.

Ingredients : 

  • Mango puree – 1 cup
  • Raw Basmati Rice – 31/2 tbs ( Soaked)
  • Mangoes – 1-2 ( For the roses)
  • Condensed Milk ( Milkmaid ) – 3/4 Cup ( adjust according to the sweetness of mangoes)
  • Full Fat Milk – 4 Cups
  • Saffron Threads – 5-6 ( Soaked in warm milk)
  • Almonds – 6-7 soaked / skinned / ground to a paste
  • Nuts / Raisins – for garnish ( as desired)
  • Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

 

Steps : 

  1. Soak rice in water for 30 minutes at least.
  2. Rinse and blend in the food processor with a little milk or water to make a smooth yet coarse paste. The rice should not become powdery.
  3. Heat the milk in heavy bottom pan and bring in to boil. Keep stirring and reduce it for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and almond pastes, stirring continuously on low heat. Make sure no lumps are formed.
  5. Add saffron and keep simmering on low heat till the rawness of ricer goes away.
  6. Add condensed milk and stir till it thickens to pudding like consistency. Turn off the gas. Add cardamom powder.
  7. Let the mixture cool on the counter and then st
  8. ir in the fresh mango puree. Mix it to get a smooth texture.
  9. Add the desired nuts and pour into the earthen pot or any serving pot you are using. Let it chill in the fridge so it sets properly.
  10. Meanwhile make mango roses and cool them. Before serving arrange the roses as desired and serve chilled.

  1. To make mango roses : Peel a hard yet ripe mango and cut the two side slices. Remove an inch from the sides and slice thinly. Arrange it the thin slices to form the petals and place it on the chilled phirni.

 

My Tip:
Keep the sugar level mild in phirni for excellent taste. You can layer white phirni and mango phirni alternately in individual glasses or serve in individual earthen bowls too. If serving individually you can add chopped mango pieces or simply drizzle finely chopped pistachios and almond shavings.
You can layer the phirni in individual glasses. For that take out a portion of phirni before adding the mango pulp and chill. Once the mango phirni is ready, spoon some mango puree in chilled glasses and layer the two phirni alternately. Garnish with chopped mango pieces or nuts.

 

 

 

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 into a 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.