Musk Melon & Lemon Sorbet


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I love melons of all sorts be it honeydew, cantaloupe or musk melons. Summer is bearable because of all the awesome stone fruits and melons and watermelons one gets. I love to binge on them and make slushy, sorbets, smoothies, FroYos, ice creams, Granitas etc. Add a little booze for the adult versions and you just can’t go wrong with them.

Stone fruits are another love. You can do so much with them.  This three ingredient sorbet is a favorite. I make it with the Honeydew melon too. The frozen melons /cantaloupes taste less sweet so if you are looking for an authentic sorbet taste so you need to add the sugar syrup or powdered sugar or honey as per your taste. It also given the sorbet like texture otherwise the blended frozen fruit may seem bland.

This no dairy alternative to ice cream is fabulous so do give it a try.

Ingredients :

Musk Melon /Cantaloupe / honey dew Melons –  1 Cup ( 1 medium fruit cubed)

Pure Honey – As required (2-3 Tbsp approx. )

Fresh Lemon Juice – 1 Tbsp

Lemon zest – 1/4 tsp

2-3 Tbsp water ( as required)

Steps – 

Wash and cut the melon into half. Scoop out the fleshy seeds and then cut it into slices. Chop it further into equal size cubes.

In a tray place parchment paper and arrange the melon pieces on it. Keep enough distance so that it doesn’t become a big frozen blob. Let it freeze for 3-4 hours or till frozen completely.

In a food processor or blender jar put these frozen melon pieces and churn till the fruit becomes a crumbly mix. Keep scraping the sides to ensure uniform blending.

Add lemon juice, lemon zest, honey and water to the mix and pulse again. Add a little more water so it gets blended properly but don’t turn it into a slush.

Taste to see the sweetness. Add a little more honey if required then pulse again till you a get a sorbet like texture.

Serve immediately or freeze in a freezer friendly container for an hour or so to get the firm texture.  You may pluck it with fork  or spoon after 30 minutes of so to make sure that there are no icicles. High water content makes it a tad bit difficult to handle but the end result is awesome.

Tip – 

To choose a good melon look for these signs.

There should be no bruises, cracks, soft spots etc. The fruit should feel heavy and the color of the skin should be yellow or golden in case of musk melons. Tap it with your hand, it should sound hollow. The fruit must have that sweet fragrance so go ahead and smell it.

A good fruit will ensure a good sorbet.

Note –

You can add powdered sugar or Boora cheeni to the sorbet instead of honey but I have noticed that adding honey helps in non crystallization of water so no icicles 🙂

To make the slushy you just need to blend the fruit till it becomes a slushy by adding the right amount of water.  Basil and mint go well in these sorbets and slushy.

I have stored this sorbet for two weeks in the freezer and it worked for me.

Add a little gin or vodka for that boozy taste.

Bring the summer in a bowl to your table and let me know if you liked this recipe.

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2 Ingredient Banana and Dates Ice cream


A lot of my friends asked me about these one/two or three ingredient ice creams made without the ice cream maker. I have some recipes already on my blog which you can find through the search bar. Here is the link to the basic one ingredient banana ice cream. You can make many variations of this by adding chocolate, Nutella, mango, dates, vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, almond butter.. Think more and be creative. There is no dairy in these but you can make with sweetened condense milk and cinnamon too.

Bananas, especially overripe ones are terrific for these ice-creams.  Frozen fresh bananas make for such a fantastic  rich and creamy custard like ice cream which you can eat as soft serve or freeze it more to make solid ice cream.

The sweetness of bananas and dates means no added sugar but adding a little honey ensures that there won’t be any ice crystals when you freeze the ice cream.

These fruity ice creams are dairy free, vegan, egg free, gluten free and very delicious. Don’t worry if you do not have those gorgeous food props or ice cream scooper and other such kitchen gadgets. You can still make this and relish.

For the dates banana ice cream you will need

Ingredients : (serves one) 

Ripe Bananas – 2 ( look for those brown spots on the skin)

Dates ( Medjool) – 5-6

Honey / Sticky date syrup – for topping ( optional)

Steps – 

Slice and line the banana pieces on a plate covered with parchment paper. Make sure the pieces do not touch each other. Freeze for 4-5 hours or overnight. I often put them in zip lock bags and freeze in advance.

Soak the dates in two tbsp of water after removing the seed. Once soft you may discard the flake dry top skin if any. Put it in freezer too.

To make the ice cream take a good food processor or a good blender. Put the frozen pieces of banana and the dates in the jar and give it some good churns. Scrape the sides of the jar to ensure smooth blending. This may require some patience so go ahead and blend till you get a soft serve custard like consistency. If you want to make a firm scoop ice cream then add a teaspoon of honey at this stage otherwise there is no need. I used it for topping.

Once you get he thick creamy rich texture you can scoop it out into a bowl and eat it as it is or spoon it in a freezer proof container and freeze for an hour.  Take it out and mix it with a spoon then put it back for freezing.

Once it is uniformly frozen scoop it out in a bowl and drizzle with sticky date syrup/honey or any of your favorite topping. It tastes delicious without any topping too.

This summer give these ice creams a try and let me know how you found them.

Single Serve 2 Minute Microwave Fruity Bread Puddings


Bread pudding variations are my go to comfort food. I have a few recipes already on the blog and you can check them here – Pudding in a mug , caramelized bread pudding , citrus bread pudding  etc.

Many of my friends asked for the instant Cherry upside down and the banana upside down bread puddings I made in the microwave. These are perfect when you crave for something wholesome and sweet at an unearthly hour. It takes 2-3 minutes to prepare these and trust me they’re addictive.

There is no rocket science in making these puddings and you can do variations as per your liking. You can use fruit of your choice, add seeds, nuts, dates, chocolate or Nutella, whiskey or rum or just have the pudding warm and plain.

Preferably use a thick one day old bread. Challah, French loaf, Brioche are the recommended breads for French toasts and bread puddings but for these the usual white bread too works well. I have made these Puddings with Bishop Nut bread too. I love the chewy texture of baguette too but it needs extra soaking to soften it. Use what’s available. I do not trim the edges. They add to the texture of the pudding.

Use the sign of the pudding crawl out up to  at least 1/2 inch  outside the mug to know the dish is done perfectly.

Never be afraid to fill the mug till top and things settle down a lot once the bread soaks the liquid. I fill the usual coffee mug a little above 3/4.

Do adjust the cooking time according to your microwave type and bread type. Usually for me it takes about 2 -3 minutes.

Use wide mugs if possible bu taller ones also work fine.

You can keep the sugar to the minimum and utilize the sweetness of fruit. Also, one can use organic honey. I try to minimize the sugar usage.

This was a rushed coking spree so please excuse the photograph. Will replace with a good one when I make it next.

Here’s how I made them :

Upside down Warm Cherry Bread Pudding 

Ingredients :

Pitted fresh cherries – 8-10

One day old bread – 2 thick slices

Milk ( preferably full fat with top cream) – 1/4 cup

Bourbon or any Whiskey – 2 tablespoon

Raisins – 8-10

Sugar ( white/brown) – 2 tbsp

Salted Butter – 1 tbsp

Pinch of cinnamon powder

Pinch of nutmeg powder

Pure vanilla extract or vanilla essence –   2-3 drops

Steps – 

Soak the cherries and the raisins in Whiskey and keep aside

Nicely toast two slices of bread . It compensates for the browning you get if oven baked)

Apply butter on one side and then break it into bite size pieces or cut into squares.

In the bowl you will use for making the pudding, arrange the cherries and then place the bread pieces. Add the raisins in between.

In another bowl mix sugar, spices, vanilla and the remaining whiskey and then pour this mixture over the bread pieces.

Press it gently and let it rest for 5 minutes for the bread to soak up the milk.

Place the bowl on the center of microwave plate and let it cook for 2 minutes on high power. Check by pressing the spoon gently. If there is still a lot of liquid then give it another minute or take it out on the counter.

Place a plate on top of the bowl and turn upside down to release the pudding.

Have warm of cold as per your liking.

You can mix everything and make this pudding in a mug too. I made this one in bowl with no added sugar as the black cherries from FarmerUncle were super delicious and sweet as honey. These are chemical residue free cherries. I added Amul Venezuela Ebony Twist chocolate pieces too for added indulgence.

Caramelized Banana Upside down Bread Pudding 

Ingredients : 

Ripe yet firm banana – 1 large

Full fat milk with top cream – 1/3 cup

Dark Rum ( Old Monk) – 2 tbsp

Raisins – 10-15

Sugar ( brown/white) – 2 tbsp

water – 2 tbsp

Bread Slices – 2

Vanilla extract or essence ( optional) – 1-2 drops

Cinnamon _ nutmeg powder – a pinch ( optional)

 Steps- 

In a bowl soak the raisins in rum and keep aside.

In a non stick skillet or sauce pan add sugar, let it simmer over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, gently swirling the pan but not stirring, until amber.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in a tsp of butter.

Cut the banana into small rounds and place them neatly in the caramel. Put it back on low heat and let them turn golden from both sides. Take the pan off the heat.

Carefully arrange the banana slices in the bowl in which you will make the pudding.

Toast and butter the bread and then make small pieces of it. layer the raisins and bread pieces over the banana slices.

In a bowl whisk milk, vanilla and spices. Pour the mixture over the bread pieces. adding the leftover caramel and rum in between.

Let it soak for 10 minutes. Gently press with spoon so that the upper layer also gets soaked properly.

Keep the bowl in microwave and cook for 2 minutes as per the make of your microwave. If there is still some milk left you can give a 1 minute run again.

Let it rest for a minute then place a place on top of the bowl to turn the pudding upside down.

These puddings are a little soft and not too dry. Keep that in mind. You can make them with egg too like normal basic bread pudding but I find adding one egg a bit too much for a bowl or mug so avoid.

Serve warm of cold. I prefer to have it warm. The salted butter gives it the taste of salted caramel which is divine.

Here is one in a mug that has layers of banana, raisins, walnuts and bread. I topped it with sticky date syrup so no white sugar in this one.

I hope you will try one of these and let me know if you liked them.


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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.

 

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.

 

 

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 and came across a recipe by Sharon Dcosta for this pudding. It made me realize how much time had passed since I made this and I instantly decided to make. She had used ladi pav but the usual white bread or some other sliced bread / loaf  is my option.

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 used 12 thick slices for two variations that I made.

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

 

 

Citrus Bread Pudding With Malta Fruit Compote


 

I love the citrus flavor of orange or in this case the Malta fruit in this rather heavy and rich bread and butter pudding. The compote as topping is just right to balance the mild sweetness of the pudding. I love to eat it warm with a mug of black sugarless home brewed coffee. A perfect dessert.

Since childhood bread pudding has been one of my favorites. Be it the simple bread cooked in milk on a gas stove with a little sugar and nutmeg or cinnamon or something more elaborate baked in oven. I can eat this anytime anywhere.

I sometimes layer orange.Malta wedges  along with the buttered bread to make it even richer but here we will just use the zest in the pudding and top it with the compote. One can grill the fruit before layering for that burnt orange taste which is yum.  I also make chunky marmalade sandwiches instead of using fresh fruit and it turns out just as amazing.

This is a simple classic recipe and I have used one day old white bread here. An ultimate comfort food. raisins soaked in Cointreau or brandy makes it a little more adventurous.

Ingredients :

Bread ( one day old ) – 6 Slices

Full Fat Milk –  2 Cups

Condensed Sweetened Milk – 1/2 tin (Milkmade)

Orange/Malta Zest –  2 Tablespoons

Cointreau / Brandy or Rum – 1-2 tablespoon

Eggs 2  Large

Butter –  50 gm ( for spreading)

Seedless Raisins / Sultanas – 50 gm

Cinnamon Stick – 1 inch

Steps :

Put the raisins/sultanas in a saucepan and pour the Cointreau / orange juice or the preferred liquor and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside.

In another heavy bottom pan boil milk and condensed milk  mixture. Add cinnamon stick and orange zest to it. Let it simmer on low heat  for 10 minutes so the flavors get incorporated.

Turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

I do not trim the edges of the bread but you can.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 Degrees F. Place a bigger tin than the one you are using to bake pudding inside the oven to warm.

Grease a 12×9 inch baking dish. Mine was a little smaller but you should have one slightly bigger so that there is enough space for the pudding to rise.

Toast the bread slices lightly. This is my way as I find toasting gives a great flavor to the pudding. You can use them plain too.

Butter each bread slice and cut them into triangles.

In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add the infused milk  and a 2-3 tablespoons of the fresh malta juice into it and beat again till everything is combined properly. Remove the cinnamon stick. You can use powder too (1/4 teaspoon).

Layer the bread triangles, buttered side up, in the prepared baking dish. They should be slightly overlapping. Sprinkle the raisins and sultanas between the layers and pour the liquid and remaining raisins on top.

Sprinkle some more fresh orange zest on top.

Place the baking dish inside the warm bigger baking tin. Pour hot water carefully halfway till the smaller tin. Be very careful not to scald yourself or let water get  into the pudding.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pudding is wobbly from inside and browned from top.

A tooth pick should come out mostly clean when inserted in the center.

Scoop out and serve it warm with the Malta/Orange compote on top.

You can also use dollop of crème fraîche if that suits your mood.

Tips : Thick sliced breads work wonderful in this pudding. You can make thick chunky marmalade sandwiches and omit compote or layer fresh orange/ malta  wedges bweteen the bread layers.

Heat up a little marmalade over water bath and brush it over the top of the pudding for that orange glaze.

Explore all the possibilities and be innovative wit hthis classic rich bread and butter pudding.

I do not use too many spices or vanilla as the natural flavors get masked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risalamande – The Traditional Danish Rice Pudding With Cherry Sauce


A casual conversation about the similarities in world cuisine lead to a discussion about rice puddings made across the globe, our own chawal ki kheer (Rice Kheer), Phirni, payasam and other variations. I loved the idea of traditional Danish rice puddings with fresh vanilla, almonds and whipped cream which is served on Christmas eve as a dessert in Denmark and most of the Nordic and European countries. Delicately sweet and creamy, this pudding is served with warm cherry sauce as topping.

Risalamande gets its name after the French ris à l’amande which typically means Rice and Almonds which are the two main ingredients of this dessert.

A day before Christmas the Danish families prepare risengrød or the rice pudding and then on the eve of the Christmas day the leftover of the pudding is used as Risalamande by adding whipped cream, almonds and cherry sauce to it.

There are some interesting traditions associated with the desserts like hiding a whole almond in the dish apart from flaked or chopped almonds which are mixed in the pudding. Whoever finds the almond gets a marzipan pig and a special gift. The person who gets the almond usually saves it till the whole pudding is redounded by everyone in search of the prized almond and then in the end he/she reveals it.

Cherries are in season here and I decided to make this lovely dessert for a special occasion at home. You can use the readymade cherry sauce too but the sight of bright red sauce bubbling away in the pot is unmatched. I loved the contrast of chilled pudding and warm sauce. Absolutely delicious.This is the second time I made cherry sauce and my first of Risalamande.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

For the rice pudding or  Risengrød :

Short Grain Rice – 1 cup  ( I used broken basmati rice but you can use sushi rice or pudding rice too)

Water – 1/2 Cup

Whole Full Cream Milk – 1 liter

Sugar – 2-3 Tablespoon ( You can use Vanilla Sugar or Cinnamon sugar too)

To make Risalamande :

Vanilla Beans – 1-4 ( I used 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract)

Almonds (Blanched) – 100 gms (Chopped and 1 whole)

Whipped Cream  –  11/2 Cups

For Cherry Sauce :

Frozen or Fresh Sweet Cherries – 2 Cups (Stems and pits removed)

Water – 1/2 Cup

Granulated Sugar –  1/2 Cup

Lemon Juice –  1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water

Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon (Optional)

Steps :

Rice Pudding for Risalamande : 

The traditional Risengrød or the rice pudding usually has salt and doesn’t have whipped cream, almonds and vanilla so when making for rasalamande we omit the salt and add the three other ingredients.

  1. Pour water and rice in a medium heavy bottom pot, cover the lid and let it boil for a 2-3 minutes.
  2.  Now add the milk and let it come to a boil while stirring continuously.
  3. Slit and scrape the vanilla seeds from the beans and add to the milk also add the empty beans and let it simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the pudding is well cooked.
  4. The rice has a tendency to stick to the pot and burn so stirring constant stirring is essential. Keep the flame low.
  5. Once the rice is cooked properly add the sugar and stir. It will make the mixture a little watery but don’t worry as we will simmer it some more. You can use plain white sugar or cinnamon sugar as per your taste.
  6. Cover the pudding with lid for the last 15 min and keep the flame very low or the pudding will burn.
  7. Turn off the stove and remove the vanilla beans from the pudding.
  8. Let it come to room temperature and then transfer it into a  serving dish or tupperware box and refrigerate overnight or for several hours until it is chilled.
  9. Once the pudding is chilled take it out and break it up with a spoon.
  10. In a bowl take the almonds and pour hot water over them. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes.
  11. Take the almonds one by one and press between the two fingers so that the skin separates from the nuts.
  12. Coarsely chop them and mix in the chilled pudding. Add vanilla extract now if you are not using the vanilla beans.
  13. In a bowl take the whipping cream and sugar and beat with a hand mixer till you achieve peaks.
  14. Add half of the cream in the pudding and stir well. Fold in rest of the whipped cream in small amounts till a creamy texture is achieved.
  15. Keep the pudding aside in the fridge.
  16. The pudding is low on sweetness as we will add the gorgeous sweetness of cherry sauce on it.

Now to make Cherry Sauce :

In a medium saucepan add washed, pitted cherries, sugar,and  water. Keep it on a medium heat. You can add a vanilla bean if desired but I don’t as it masks the taste of the cherries. Don’t forget to remove the stems.

Let the mixture simmer till the cherries are tender.

Stir in the lemon juice.

Remove any froth that comes on the top.

Combine the corn starch in cold water and whisk it properly. Add to the sauce and stir.

Bring the sauce to a boil and remove the vanilla bean if using.

Simmer till the sauce is thick enough to cover the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from heat and it is ready to serve with the rice pudding.

Add a little pudding in a bowl/ short glass/ ice cream goblet and top it up with generous amount of Fresh warm cherry sauce before serving.

Don’t forget the hide the whole almond in one of the servings of in the main pudding bowl just for fun.

Enjoy the rich, creamy pudding with the warm cherry sauce on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

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.