Easy Cherry Frozen Yogurt


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the delicious low calorie Cherry FroYO 

 

Ingredients:

Black Sweet Cherries (pitted and frozen)- 1 cup

Hung yogurt/ Greek yogurt – 3/4 Cup

Lemon Juice – 1 teaspoon

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

Steps : 

Pit the cherries and freeze for two hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Mango, Cherry Parfait With Popped Amaranth Seeds


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

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

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

For this easy fruity hung curd Parfait you will need,

Ingredients:

Ripe Mango – 1

Sweet Fresh Cherries – 1/2 cup pitted

Ramdana or popped amaranth – 4 tablespoon

Honey – 2 tablespoon

Granola or muesli – 2 tablespoon

Mango puree – 2 tablespoon

Cherry compote or cherry sauce – 2 tablespoon (optional)

Nuts, seeds or your choice.

Method :

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

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

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

Wash the mango and cut it in small pieces.

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

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

Put all the nuts and seeds in a bowl.

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

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

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

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

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

Make your own variations and enjoy the fruity summer goodness.

Easy Banana And Chocolate Frozen Yogurt


 

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

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

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

 

Ingredients:

Ripe Bananas – 2 ( Pealed, diced and frozen)

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

Honey – 2 tablespoon

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

 

Method – 

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

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

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

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

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

You must always use frozen fruit.

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

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

Enjoy your delicious FroYo.

 

 

Panakam Or Gur (Jaggery) Sharbat


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panakam / Paanakkam 

Ingredients :

Jaggery Powder or Grated Jaggery – 3 heaped table spoons

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

Freshly crushed black peppercorns- 1/2 teaspoon

Green Cardamom – 3-4 crushed

Holy Basil or Tulsi leaves –  2-3

Salt –a pinch

Water – 2 Cups

Lemon (Optional) –   2-3 wheels slightly muddled

Ice Cubes

 

Steps –

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

Let it set for 15-20 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This needs to be served chilled.

 

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

Summer Special – Homemade Iced Teas


I am more of a coffee person but I absolutely love Iced Teas and Tisanes. I am sure you know the difference between Tisane and tea. Tisanes are fruits or herbs steeped in boiling water (no actual tea leaves, Camellia sinensis, are included).

These Iced tea here are made with either Darjeeling Tea or CTC Assam black tea. These aren’t Tisanes. Have I confused you ? :p

Maybe it is time to have some delicious Iced Teas. The good thing about making Iced Teas at home is the freshness and the purity. No artificial flavors, coloring or high sugar content. They are better than the soft drinks and packaged commercial beverages. So infuse your teas with whatever seasonal herbs/spice or fruit you like and drink it fresh.

These recipes have a Indian touch to them. I have tried to create some unique tastes so feel free to change the measures as per your taste.

First the basic Iced tea – You can either make a cold brew or a hot brew and chill it. I prefer to chill a hot brew for it is quicker.

Always add boiling water to the tea leaves and not the opposite, that is the thumb rule. Always prefer more leaves to make the tea stronger than to let it seep for long time. This will make the tea bitter. Cool the tea on counter before refrigerating otherwise it will cloud and won’t look so presentable. Always use double the quantity of tea leaves for iced teas from what you would use for hot tea. Darjeeling tea needs to be cooled quickly or else the flavor substances in the tea will get oxidized. Loose tea leaves are the best. Most of the teabags are synthetic. Tea leaves also makes a full flavor brew so go for them, invest in good tea. Use minimum sugar/honey etc. but that is personal. I don’t like my teas taste like a sugar syrup. 😛  Talking of sugar syrup, you can make some and use that instead of granules as it will dissolve nicely. Use honey for the best result and if you like it. Iced Tea brew can be kept in the fridge for two three days or frozen for using while travelling.

Basic tea recipe – Keeping the points above in mind, put the tea leaves of your choice in a heat resistance jug or kettle, pour boiling water over them and let them seep for the time required for that particular tea. Once the color and flavor is achieved, strain and cool it on the counter and chill in the fridge. Now you are ready to make any of your favorite Iced Teas.

1. Refreshing Fruity Tart Kokum Infused Iced tea 

Kokum/ amsul or fruit of Garcinia indica plant is sour in taste but full of health benefits. Kokum sharbat is part of my childhood and one of my favorites. Here we give a twist to classic Iced green tea with this lovely sun dried fruit.

To make this you will need:

  • Sun Dried Kokum/Amsul Fruit Petals – 4-8 pieces
  • Sugar – 1/2 Cup
  • Water – 3 Cups
  • Green Tea Loose – 8 teaspoons Or Green Tea Bags – 8
  • Finely Chopped Fresh mint – 2 teaspoon
  • Ginger Juice – 1 Teaspoon
  • Lemon Wedges – 6-8
  • Honey – As per taste and If not using Sugar

Instructions – 

  1. Properly rinse sun dried kokum and soak it in a cup of boiling hot water for 30 minutes.
  2. Once the fruit is pulpy and soft mash and rub it with your fingers to release all the juice and strain it from a strainer. Press the pulp nicely so all the juice releases.
  3. While the kokum is soaking finely chop washed fresh mint leaves, take out juice from fresh ginger and cut small lemon wedges.
  4. In an ice cube tray place these three things in small amount and add water.
  5. Freeze till ice cubes are formed. You can make these ice cubes in advance too or just mix the three ingredients in the Iced tea once made.
  6. In a pot boil the water. In a pitcher place the tea bags or loose green tea leaves and pour the boiling water over it.
  7. Cover and let it seep for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Always use twice the amount of tea leaves when makes Iced Tea than you would for hot tea. Don’t seep it longer or the tea will taste bitter.
  9. Remove the bags or strain the tea leaves once you get the desire color and flavor.
  10. Add the sugar and stir well so it dissolves completely.
  11. Let it sit on the counter till it cools then refrigerate, It will become cloudy if you keep warm tea in the fridge.
  12. In a jug add the cold tea brew and kokum juice and mix. Check for sweetness and add more if you prefer sweet tea. I keep it mildly sweet.
  13. Add the mint, ginger juice and lemon wedges if using directly and mix.
  14. Fill the serving glasses with lemony gingery minty ice cubes and pour the kokum infused iced green tea.
  15. Serve it fresh and chilled.
 You can alternately Add some kokum pieces to the strained hot tea and let the fruity tart flavor get infused in the tea. Remove it before pouring in the Jug. 2. Add honey instead of sugar if you so desire. You can also use sugar syrup instead of granular sugar. It dissolves better. Use ready-made kokum sharbat concentrate if you do not have fresh or dried fruit. One teaspoon per glass is good enough.
2. Tangy Sweet Amm Panna or Raw Mango Panna Iced Tea 
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I love the mango nectar iced tea made with ripe mangoes but this one with raw mangoes is unique in taste. I made it with a mix of Darjeeling and CTC Assam black tea. Usually I leave a few chunks of slightly crushed raw mango slices in the jug and dont use lemon. Slightly ripe raw mango gives it another twist. Equally good. Needs little honey/sugar too.

Ingredients:

  • Tender Raw Mangoes – 2 small or 1 big
  • Sugar – 1/2 cup or Honey as per taste
  • Lemon wedges – 4-5 ( Optional)
  • Raw mango slices – 4-5 ( Optional)
  • Fresh Mint Leaves – 8-10 crushed
  • Darjeeling Tea leaves + CTC Assam Tea – 6 Heaped Teaspoon + 3 Flat Teaspoons
  • Water – 3 Cups
  • Ice Cubes | Crushed Ice – Made from 3 cups of water

Instructions :

  1. Make ice from the three cups of water in advance.
  2. Wash the mango and boil or roast it till soft. Cool and take out the pulp in a ceramic or glass bowl. Let it cool.
  3. Once cool, put the pulp in blender and add sugar to it. Blend till a smooth texture is obtained. Take it out in a bowl. Mix crushed mint leaves and Refrigerate.
  4. In a pot boil 3 cups of water. Once it begins to boil add CTC tea leaves and then turn off the flame to add the Darjeeling tea leaves. Cover and let it seep for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Take out the ice and crush it properly. Place it in a pitcher and pour the thick tea brew to quicken the cooling process as Darjeeling tea changes in flavor and taste if allowed to cool on its own for a longer time.
  6. Once the tea is cool put it in the fridge.
  7. In a serving jug add the aam panna and top it with cold tea brew. Check for sweetness and add honey or sugar syrup if required. Tea should taste tangy so do not sweeten it too much.
  8. Add more ice cubes to the glasses when ready to serve.
  9. Garnish with lemon wedges/ raw mango slices and mint springs.

You can also roast the mango on direct flame of stove or preheated oven at 200 degree for 30 min depending on the size of the mango. Wrap it in aluminium foil and place on the rack. to get gorgeous roasted mangoes.  You can use organic jaggery instead of sugar or honey. Just ensure that it dissolves nicely. You can make the aam panna concentrate beforehand and use when required. 6. A little ripe green raw mango will give a different flavor and it tastes awesome too.

 

3. Tipsy Fruit Infused Spiced Tea 

Fruit infused spiced ice tea with cinnamon, Clove, ginger, lemon, mint, apple, orange, pomegranate, honey and almost frozen Darjeeling tea. This is a vodka Iced Tea cocktail for those who love a dash of alcohol. A match made in heaven.

Ingredients: 

  • Darjeeling Tea Leaves – 12 Teaspoons
  • Honey – To Taste
  • Cloves – 5-6
  • Cinnamon Stick – 2-3 inch broken in half
  • Ginger – minced and peeled 1 tablespoon
  • Lemon / Lime – cut in wheels/ wedges – 1 each
  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoon
  • Orange – 1 medium cut in wedges or wheels
  • Apple – 1 cut in wedges or wheels
  • Mint – 1 teaspoon crushed
  • Honey | Sugar – to taste or Sugar
  • Pomegranate pearls – 1/2 cup slightly crushed
  • Water – 4 cups + 2 Cup
  • Vodka / Gin – 60ml

Instructions – 

  1. Add lemon juice and a little sugar ( two tablespoons) to 2 cups of water and freeze as ice cubes.
  2. Wash and cut all the fruits and squeeze some lime juice over them. Refrigerate wrapped in a cling wrap.
  3. Mince ginger and collect all the spices and tea leaves.
  4. Boil the remaining water along with ginger and spices.
  5. Once water comes to a boil add the Darjeeling tea leaves or any other tea leaves of your choice and seep according to the tea leaves. Darjeeling will take 3-4 minutes. Add more leaves to make a strong brew. Do not seep longer.
  6. Once you get the desired flavor and color, strain the tea leaves, spices and ginger. Add sugar and stir to mix well. If using honey add it in the pitcher when ready to serve.
  7. Immediately pour the tea on a cupful of crushed ice to hasten the cooling process so the flavor doesn’t get oxidized. Chill it for a while in the fridge.
  8. Before serving, throw in the cold fruits and half of the lemony ice cubes in a pitcher and add the chilled tea
  9. Add vodka / Gin ( you can increase the quantity if you desire but 60 – 90 ml is good enough) . Stir properly.
  10. Now throw in the lemony ice cubes and some chilled fruits from the pitched in the glasses and pour the chilled Iced tea vodka brew.
  11. Garnish with lemon wheels and mint springs.
  12. Serve chilled.

You can use Green tea also for this recipe. Use any fruits or spices you like. Same with the alcohol. Omit Alcohol if you are not in a mood for a tipsy drink.  Keep it simple and flavorful. Too many flavors will ruin the taste.

(This won the first prize in the Better  Butter Summer Drinks Contest)

4.  Iced Pomegranate​ Green Tea

With dash of ginger juice, lemon wedges and cold press fresh pom juice frozen as ice cubes to add some drama. Slightly sweetened with honey this is sheer bliss.

I often make ice cubes by placing, crushed mint or fruit pieces or lemon pieces in the ice tray and pour water to make ice cubes. They look pretty in the drinks. One can freeze juices too in the similar way. Maybe a separate post for that sometime.

Ingredients –

Green Tea Bags – 8

Water – 6 cups

Honey – to taste

Pomegranate pearls – for ice cubes and garnish

Cold Press homemade Pom Juice – 1/2 cup

Fresh Ginger Juice – 2 tablespoon

Lemon Wedges – a few

Instructions:

  1. In a heat resistance jug or kettle place the teabags. Boil water and pour over the teabags. Cover the lid and Let it seep for 3-4 mintues or till the desired strength and color is achieved. Remove the Teabags and let it cool. You can alternately use Green tea leaves.
  2. Once the tea is cool, add honey and stir nicely then put the tea in the fridge to chill.
  3. Take a good ripe pomegranate, peal and take out the pearls in a bowl. Transfer the pearls to a zip lock bag and squeeze and press till the pearls release the juice. You can use the cold press juicer. Do not use the commercial poem juice.
  4. Strain the juice into a small jug or glass.
  5.  Take out the chilled tea, mix ginger juice, lemon wedges and pom juice and stir well.
  6. In the glasses add lots of ice cubes or crushed ice and pour the Pomegranate Iced Tea over them and garnish with lemon wheel or wedge.
  7. Serve Chilled.

 

You can be more adventurous and make your own Iced Tea combinations using different  things. Let me know if you make any of these.

 

Cheers!

Vodka Bael Squash Mojito – A Classic Cocktail With An Indian Twist


There was a time I really relished cocktails and experimented with it too. Then times changed and I slowly lost touch of making them. Yesterday while making making Bael (Bel) sharbat or panna I decided to experiment with this classic Mojito by giving it an Indian twist. The original Cuban Mojito calls for white rum but I really don’t like white rum much so I opted for Vodka, in this case OPM ( a Triple Distilled Luxury Spirited Russian Vodka).

On tasting I realized one could also make it with Absolut Citron. Must try that some time. This one has a refreshing sweet, citrus, mint flavor with a unique taste of Bael fruit which is hard to describe. This drink is incredible. Though I feel one will have to develop a taste for it.

Ripe Bael or Stone Apple has a sweet taste and often emits a sugary and musty aroma which I love. Usually we make the bael murraba or bael chutney with it if not making the refreshing bael squash or sharbat which I used in this recipe. I wonder if wood apple is the correct name for bael fruit. Maybe someone can guide on this. I prefer to call it Stone Apple. The fruit has medicinal values and is highly nutritious.

Now for the Mojito 

Ingredients :

  • Bael/Bel/Stone Apple Panna concentrate
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper – Just a sprinkle for each glass
  • Salt – To rim the glasses
  • Vodka – 60 ml of your choice of Vodka
  • Ice cubes

 

Method –  

  1.  Use the Bael Panna recipe link to make Bael Panna.
  2. Omit Jaggery for making mojito and use sugar. Also omit roasted cumin seed powder.
  3. For the Mojito – Muddle the mint leaves with the lemon juice and lemon quarters in a cocktail shaker or a jug with a muddler or back of the rolling pin..
  4. Add the Bael panna, vodka and ice cubes.
  5. I tweaked the classic Mojito here and omitted sugar syrup and carbonated water/soda
  6. Close the cocktail shaker and shake well. If making in a jug just stir in all the ingredients.
  7. To Serve- Rim two tall glasses with salt (Optional). You can use normal table salt or powdered rock salt for an extra kick.
  8. Fill the glasses with lots of ice and pour the Wood Apple Vodka Mojito. Add a dash of freshly cracked black pepper for that zing. You can omit if you do not prefer it.
  9. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wheel/wedge.
  10. Serve chilled.

 

You can make the bael panna in advance and refrigerate it. I sometimes like the taste of ginger juice in it but have not tried it in this cocktail. If you are adventurous go ahead and experiment. Let me know if it works. Someone suggested a dash of cayenne pepper instead of black pepper. I am not sure. 😛  I used 2 parts Bael panna to one part vodka but you can change it to your liking. Keep the mint and lemon low key to get the full flavor of the fruit juice.

Sorry about bad photography skills and for not using proper glasses etc. I am passionate about making stuff but do not have the finery to display.

Hope you enjoy trying out this.

Salud!

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

Easy Mango Jam (No Preservatives Or Added Pectin)


Monsoon is here in Delhi and the last of the mangoes have flooded the market. I found vendors selling them at a very low price.  The small dasheri is a delicious variety we get in North India. Sweet, fragrant, juicy and full of flesh. The pit/stone/seed inside the fruit is very thin. I prefer it to the bigger variety of dasheri.  One can simply massage the fruit between palms and cut a tiny opening at the stem end the n suck the juicy flesh straight away, rolling and sqeezing it till every bit is finished. Then take out the pit and suck it clean. 😀

That’s the best way to to have mangoes.

I find it sacrilege to cook some of the fruits. They need to be consumed as fruits. Figs, leechee, mangoes are a few of them but this batch of mangoes had some very overripe ones and so I decided to make a little quantity of Jam. I don’t eat commercial bread these days but home made preserves can be used in many ways. I use them for filling, as topping or spread.

Usually I mix a few varieties while making Jam. Also, I prefer to choose a combination of overripe and fully rip but firm mangoes when making  chunky version. It makes the jam rich in flavor and texture. I use no artificial pectin or preservatives.

This is the simplest way to make mango jam.

Ingredients :

Ripe, juicy mangoes – 4 medium size

Lemon Juice – Of 1/2 a lemon

Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon (optional)

Minced Fresh Ginger / Fresh Ginger Juice – 1 teaspoon (optional)

Sugar – According to the sweetness of the mango ( I used 2 heaped tablespoons)

Red chili Powder – 2 pinches ( optional)

Steps –

Wash, peel and chop mangoes. Squeeze  and gently massage the pit / seed / stone to recover all the flesh and juice.

Place a plate and spoon in the freezer for plate test later on.

In a thick bottom pan add mango pieces, sugar , lemon zest, minced ginger, red chili flakes or powder if using ( you can use cayenne pepper also, it tastes yum) and the lemon juice.

Cook these on a high flame , stirring continuously till the sugar melts.

Turn down the heat to medium low now and let the mixture simmer.

I like my jams with fruit pieces but if you prefer smooth jam you can either puree the mangoes or mash the pulp with a masher or back of the ladle.

Keep stirring the mixture as it thickens. It may take about 10 minutes or so. Test for sugar and add more if you like it sweet, I prefer to retain the natural sweetness.

As the mixture cooks it will start to leave the sides.  Keep a check on the consistency as you won’t want to overcook it. The mixture at this stage should have a  rich deep color an a glossy texture.

Do the plate test at this point.

Remove the pan from heat to avoid over cooking.

Drop some mixture on a chilled plate and give a slight nudge with your finger, if the mixture should give away a little but shouldn’t be runny. If that’s the case then the jam is done. I invert the plate usually to check. Mixture shouldn’t fall off.

If the mixture is runny , cook a bit more till it gets to the desired consistency.

Once the gorgeous fragrant jam is done, spoon it in clean airtight container and let it cool on the counter completely before putting it in the fridge.

 

I make small amounts so keep them out for daily consumption.

This jam usually stays good for at least a fortnight in the fridge.

You can spice it up with all spice or star anise or cinnamon but I prefer the natural flavor of the mango, ginger and lime.

Enjoy this dose of summer sunshine with any thing of your choice. I spooned it over a cracker and devoured it with strong black coffee.

PS –  You can cut thin strips of lemon peel and add if you wish to convert the recipe to a marmalade. I love that version too but I don’t use it with very sweet fragrant mangoes.

 

 

 

Steamed Caramelized Bread Pudding


Brandy Raisin Banana on the left and Plain Cinnamon on the right.

I love anything with caramel and creme caramel is one of my favorite desserts. The other thing I can have any time any day is bead pudding. I make both these things regularly esp the bread pudding and keep innovating the basic recipe. I have made steamed pudding too and a quicker version for instant cravings but this cheese cake like caramelized bread pudding took me to heaven and back.

While looking for something on my favorite Better Butter website I cam across the recipe for this pudding by Sharon Dcosta and the picture held me captive. I instantly decided to make it. She had used ladi pav and we don’t get them in Delhi so the usual white bread or some other sliced bread / loaf was my option.

Now, I had to tweak her original recipe. She had suggested 18-20 slices but my gut feeling said it would be too much for a 5 inch  baking tin so I reduced it to 12 and still I needed two tins so you will need to adjust the proportions for one 5″ tin or take a bigger tin which fits in your steamer or pressure cooker. You can pour the mixture in individual ramekins too.

For a single 5 inch tin i think 6 slices and 1 1/2 cup of milk + one egg should suffice but I have not tried it. For eggless version my friends use cornstarch  / custard powder but again I have not tried it.

I made one simple plain pudding and one with brandy soaked raisins and mashed banana. Both were the best things one could have as desserts.

The dark caramel the soft smooth textured cheesecake like pudding the flavor of brandy and banana in one and nutmeg in the other was delicious. I do not use vanilla much as I like the natural flavors of the dish.

Here is how I made the two.

Ingredients :

Bread Slices – 12

Egg – 1

Full Fat Milk 750 ml or 3 cups

Cinnamon Powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Salt- 1/2 teaspoon

Brandy / dark rum – 1 tablespoon

Raisins – A handful ( about 10-15

Over ripe Banana – 1 medium

Sugar 4 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons

Round aluminium cake tin or pressure cooker separators

 

Caramelized Bread pudding with Cinnamon 

Steps –

Collect all the ingredients on the counter and soak the raisins in the brandy if using and set aside. You can soak them in water too if alcohol isn’t your choice.

In a large mixing bowl pour milk .

Beat the egg and add to the milk. Mix well.

Add 4 tablespoons of sugar and stir properly. You can increase the amount if you like more sweet. I prefer mildly sweet.

Caramel – If you are making caramel for the first time don’t use the dry sugar method but use the wet one. Also, don’t make it directly in the tin you will be using for baking.. just in case it burns…

In a small thick bottom pan add the rest of the sugar and water to make the caramel. I add a little salt ( 0.6 ml spoon or 3-4 pinches) to it for a contrast flavor. Keep the heat medium and once the sugar melts keep playing with the heat from low to medium as the color changes to light brown to dark. Keep it on lower side and DO NOT stir just swirl the pan if you need to.

Once the caramel is deeper color our it into the baking tin of 5 ” or whichever you are using and swirl it so that the entire base it properly covered. It will begin to set quickly so do these steps quickly. Let it set properly or it will mix in the pudding mixture. Do it with both pans if making two puddings. Keep aside.

Tear the bread slices into small pieces and dip in the milk egg mixture. I keep the thick first slice + the crusts but you can omit. I feel they give a great texture to the pudding cheese cake.

Soak the pieces properly and let it stand for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Now, mash the soaked bread pieces with a masher or back of a ladel ( I do with fingers) and then put the mixture in the blender and blend into a smooth mix. No lumps should remain.  Blending a mashed mixture will ensure a smooth mix.

Pour half of this mixture in the pan but keep some space so that the pudding can rise.

Mix raisins and properly mashed banana in the rest of the mixture and pour it in the other tin for the  brandy soaked raisins and mashed banana caramelized bread pudding.

Cover the baking tins  with lids or aluminium foil. Keep a stone on lid so that the water doesn’t go in. Tightly covered bin with aluminium foil works well.

In a pressure cooker or steamer add water up to one inch at least and keep the baking tin in it.

Cook on high heat till three / four whistles and then 10-15 min on low heat. The heat will depend on your utensils and cooker size / steamer etc. I check after 3 whistles and 10 min on low. If the knif comes out clean from the center it is done.

Once done remove it on the counter carefully and let it cool completely. You can unmold it at this stage by sliding a sharp knife along the edge of the baking tin to loosen the pudding  or tap it with the heal of your palm a few times. Keep a serving plate on top and invert. The pudding will release nicely on the plate. You can serve it right away at room temperature or chilled.

I keep the covered tin in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours and then remove lid / foil and unmold. Then chill it again for some time before using.

The rich deep caramel on top on the perfectly set smooth pudding is a sight to behold and a joy to eat. You can make your own variations to the original recipe. You can add apple pulp or chocolate or pumpkin or anything you like but I prefer the original unmasked taste of pure decadence ie the plain caramelized bread pudding with just the right amount of nutmeg/cinnamon