Meethe Makhane | Jaggery Coated Fox Nuts & A Parfait


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

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

 

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

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

Ingredients :

Fox Nuts | Makhana – 1 Cup

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

Pure Ghee – 1 tbsp

Water – 1 tbsp

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

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

The Parfait Story 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve immediately.

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

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Bengali Kachcha Aamer Mishti Chutney


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

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

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

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

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

It quickens the cooking process too.

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

Ingredients –

Raw mangoes – 1/2 kg (4 medium size)

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

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

Whole dry red chilies – 2-3

Black mustard seeds – 2-3 tsp

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

Salt – to taste

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Mustard oil – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use dry, clean spoons to take out the chutney.

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

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

Homemade Basic & Fruit Juice Infused Rasgullas


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

Pressure cooker Rasgullas:

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

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

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

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

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

Now the Ingredients and the steps.

Ingredients : 

To make chena :

Full fat milk / Cow’s milk – 2 Cups

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

For Basic Rasgullas – 

Water for syrup – 600 ml approx

Sugar – 200  gm

Steps :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve them chilled with a little syrup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Healthy Snacks – Pan Roasted Spiced Fox Nuts


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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients –

Phool Makhana or puffed Fox Nuts – 100 gm

Red Chilli Powder – to taste

Black pepper powder – to taste

Pink Salt / sendha namak – to taste

Chaat masala – to taste (optional)

Turmeric- if desired a pinch

Ghee – 1 tsp

Dried mint – to taste (optional)

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

Steps – 

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

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

Now take them out in a plate.

In a bowl mix all the spices.

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

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

Store them in an airtight container for later use.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Till then eat smart and stay healthy.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients :

Full fat milk – 1 liter

Juice of a lemon –  2-3 tbsp

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

Method :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients : 

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

Homemade cottage cheese / paneer –  200 gm (approx)

Red Onion – 2 medium size

Plum tomato – 2 ( I deseed it)

Salt – as required

Ginger julienne – from 1/2 inch fresh ginger

Coriander seeds  – 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds  – 1 tbsp

Whole red chilies – 1-2 broken pieces

Asafoetida powder – a pinch

Kasuri Methi – 1/2 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

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

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

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

Method – 

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

Dice the tomatoes into same size cubes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Warm Bell Pepper Salad With Lemon Honey Garlic Vinaigrette


Bell peppers are one of the most beautiful vegetables and my favorite too. I somehow despise the  green capsicum and its excessive use in many dishes but these red, yellow sweet peppers not just add color to the dish but also provide a lot of nutrients. They also pair very well with many things and can be baked, broiled, grilled, roasted or stewed. I add them to sauces for pasta and Shakshuka etc.  These beauties have a good amount of carotenoid content and Vitamin C along with Vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin A and many other good nutrients. I use them for roasted bell pepper raita (dip), salads (both warm and cold), pasta sauces and use them instead of green capsicum.

This is a warm salad with slightly fried potatoes but I do other variations with roasted veggies instead of sauteed. I love the smoky charred flavors of the bell peppers and tomatoes and make the salad with that too. It all depends on the mood.

The vinaigrette dressing is just perfect to give that citrus sweet flavor to the salad. You can use this as a marinade to chicken and fish also. Garlic gives that much needed kick to the vinaigrette making it delicious.  You can make the vinaigrette in a small jar and store it in that only for a day or two.

I am not a good food photographer but the recipe is awesome. Do try.

 

Bell Pepper And Potato Salad With Lemon Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette

Ingredients :

Bell peppers – 2 (1-red, 1-yellow)

Potato – 1 large (par boiled and cubed or cut into thin wedges)

Red Onion – 1

Garlic – 1 large smashed

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp

Plum Tomatoes- 2

Fresh herbs – Coriander/parsley

Salt – Pepper – as required

Honey – 1 tbsp

Lemon Juice – Juice of one medium lemon

Lemon zest – a little

Freshly cracked black peppercorn – 1 little

Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar ( if desired ) – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

To make the Vinaigrette :

Take a juice of one lemon, add one crushed garlic clove, a little lemon zest add a tbsp of honey, add a little salt, two tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar if using, a little freshly crushed black pepper and fresh chopped herbs. Mix and shake it up in a small jar.

I didn’t use the vinegar in this particular salad. You can adjust the quantity as per the salad quantity or if using as a marinade as per the chicken or fish.

 

For Salad : 

Wash bell peppers and remove the seeds. Cut them into cubes or strips. Cut the onions and tomatoes into cubes or wedges. Peel the bar boiled potatoes and cut in cubes or wedges.

In a pan heat the olive oil and add the potatoes. Fry them till they turn nice n crisp. Remove in a bowl. Add onions and saute till slightly translucent, remove them in the same bowl. Now add bell peppers and toss them till slightly charred and warmed up, take them out in the bowl and then add tomatoes to the pan. We do not need to soften them so toss them till they are slightly roasted and add to the other veggies.

Gently toss the salad and add the Vinaigrette. Serve warm

Serve with any dish of your choice or just eat it straight from the bowl.

 

 

Panasa Katha Tarkari |Oriya Style Raw Jackfruit Curry


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

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

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

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

Ingredients :

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

Potato – 1 large

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

Fresh Ginger and Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp each

Tomato – 1 ( grated or finely chopped)

Panchporan – 1/4 tsp

Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Chili powder – to taste

Homemade garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Bay leaf – 1-2

Cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardomom – 2-3

Cumin seeds -1/2 tsp

Black peppercorn – 4-5

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Mustard oil – 5-6 tbsp

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped fine)

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt


Homemade frozen yogurts are a class apart. I prefer them over ice creams as they are low in calories and much healthier option. Full of good nutrients and simple to assemble, FroYo can be made with so many fruits. During summer I make a variety of Frozen Yogurts with seasonal fruits like Mango, Cherry, Banana, Sapota, berries, Pineapple, apricots, jamun etc. Each one is so refreshing, addictive and high in taste.

I use full fat home cultured hung curd as far as possible as it is full of probiotics. The frozen yogurt is naturally sweetened with fruits and organic honey which also prevents the ice to form while freezing the dessert.

This is a beautiful strawberry frozen yogurt that I made today. The month of February has been very hot this year and I was craving for something sweet.  If you love strawberries as much as I do then this one is for you.

A box of strawberry was lying in the fridge and I had hung some fresh curd to make a dip but that wasn’t going to happen. 😛 So, here it is, a luscious, creamy, tangy-sweet summer dessert.

Ingredients :  

Fresh unblemished strawberries –  2 Cup (Washed, hulled and frozen)

Organic honey – 2-3 tbsp

Lemon juice – 1 tsp

Hung Yogurt or Yogurt Cheese –  1/3 Cup (You can use Greek Yogurt too)

Steps :

Wash, hull and freeze the strawberries. You can slice the strawberries and line them on a tray to freeze.

Hang the curd/ yogurt overnight or for 3-4 hours in the fridge 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 strawberries, thaw them slightly and then remove 1/4 in a bowl, place the rest in the blender and process till thick and smooth.

Take out the strawberry puree in a bowl and put the remaining 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 strawberry puree to it and mix. Add the chunky strawberries to the strawberry yogurt and mix well.

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

Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.

In a freezer safe bin pour the strawberry 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.

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.

 

Bhajani Thalipeeth With Fenugreek Leaves And Green chilli Thecha


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

 

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

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

1 Teaspoon – Cumin seeds

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

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

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

 

Methichi Talipeeth 

Ingredients :

Bhajani – 1 Cup

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

Onion (small) – 1 (chopped fine)

Green Chilli – 1-2 ( chopped fine )

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoon ( chopped fine)

Salt – to taste

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

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

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

Water to kneed the dough

Oil for cooking

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how I did it.

Hirvya Mirchi cha Thecha ( Green chilli thecha) 

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

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

Ingredients :

Fresh thin green chilies – 8-10

Garlic cloves – 5-6

Roasted peanuts – 2 tbsp (optional)

Salt- to taste

Oil – 1 tsp

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

Steps – 

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

Heat a small saucepan and add a tsp of oil.

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

Add the coriander leaves if using and stir.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.

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

Pound till you get a coarse mixture.

You can coarsely grind it in mixer too.

Take it out in a bowl and serve.

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

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

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