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.

 

 

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.

Chana Sattu Or Roasted Gram Flour Laddoos


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chana sattu or roasted Bengal gram flour:

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

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

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

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

Two Versions of Chana Sattu Laddoos 

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

For Laddoos with Honey 

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

Your laddoos are ready to eat. 😀 

For Laddoos With Fine Shakkar or Powdered Jaggery 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Puff Pastry Experiments-Baked Apple Roses, Strawberry Filled Mini Puffs And More


 

Food hall at the DLF place, Saket is addictive. This Saturday after a hearty meal I and my son decided to do our usual round of the Food hall and soon we were filling our basket with more than what we needed. The food monster wanted to create something from ready made frozen puff pastry sheets and I too was game for it. The dish on my mind was the gorgeous Apple Roses I had been viewing all over the internet.

Now, I used to make apple pie crust at home but the store bought frozen puff pastry sheets were something new to me too.  The images of delicious pinwheels, tarts, quiche, pie, croissants, churros, torte, cheese sticks etc began to float in front of my eyes. I had to rein my imagination as I was going to get only a sheet or two. The food monster had made this clear. Finally I decided on the amazing Apple Roses, Fresh strawberry and fruit spread filled mini puff pastries and some churros.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon the food monster took over the kitchen and created some sumptuous dishes like Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart, Chili Salsa and Cheese Tart , Marshmallow, chocolate and coffee pockets topped with dark caramel and chocolate ganache  .  You can follow the Food Monster Delhi on twitter too.

The yummy treats were devoured instantly.  On reminding about my share of the pastry sheets and he very graciously left some. I realized that the churros would have to go as the sheets were just enough of the Apple Roses and Strawberry mini puffs.

Though there are many versions of Apple roses on internet and all amazingly gorgeous but I liked the ones made by Sherri of To Simply Inspire  I followed her directions though I tweaked them a bit. You can check out her perfect roses by clicking on the link of her blog. Thanks Sherri for inspiring.

Here is how I made those Apple Rose Puffed Pastries 

Ingredients : (For 6 apple roses )

2 Delicious Red Apples (I used organic)

1 frozen Puff Pasty Sheet (Thawed)

2 Tablespoon of fruit preserve (I used mixed fruit but you can use plum, peach, apricot…whatever you desire)

Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling ( 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder + 1 teaspoon fine sugar)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Flour to sprinkle on the counter

Powdered sugar for sprinkling as decoration

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius ( Sherri did it at 190 degrees Celsius / 375 degree F)

Remove the frozen puff pastry sheets and let them thaw on the counter. They should still be cool when you use them. I removed them from freezer and kept them in the fridge overnight to use them in the morning. (See instructions on the packet)

Prepare cinnamon sugar by mixing the two ingredients together. Keep aside. (You can use apple pie spice mix too)

Half fill a bowl with water and add lemon juice to it. Now cut the apples in half from top to bottom. Remove the core ends and scoop out the center core.

Cut them in paper thin slices with a sharp knife. (unfortunately mine weren’t that thin.. a reason to buy a good sharp knife)

Place the slices in the water bowl. This will prevent them from turning brown. (enough water to cover the slices)

I used organic apples as we are using the skin too.

Place the bowl in the microwave for a minute to soften the apple a little so they don’t break while folding. They should not become mushy.

Now drain the apples in a colander and gently pour some cool water over them. drain properly.

Now, sprinkle some flour over a clean counter and roll out the pastry sheet, stretch it a bit with a rolling pin. Move in one direction only.

Try to keep the rectangle shape and cut it into six equal strips of 2 in x 9 inches approx. The sheet should be 1/8 in thick. In my excitement I didn’t make it rectangle but then corrected the strips by cutting the rounded edges. One learns 🙂

In a bowl take the fruit preserve and add a teaspoon of water to it. Microwave for a min so that the preserve is of spreading consistency. Let it cool.

Spread a little preserve on each strip.

Line 6-9 apple slices overlapping each other a little with the peel side facing out along one side of the strip. Leave a little space on both ends when you line up the slices.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar or apple pie spice mix if you desire. I love it.

Fold the bottom part of the strip so that it covers the apples.

Now, starting on one end carefully start to roll the fruit lined strip into a rose shape. Don’t make it very tight roll. Once you reach the end, seal the edges by pressing with your finger and gently place in a well greased muffin tin or a silicon muffin tray. You can apply a egg wash. I used melted butter and brushed it on the pastry with a pastry brush.

Make six roses from the strips and place them all in the tray.

Bake in the middle rack for 30-45 minutes. The pastry should be nicely cooked.

I did not keep the water pan in the tray below as suggested in the original recipe but you can try that.

Take them out and let them set for a few minutes before removing from the tray.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. You can serve them warm or at room temperature as required.

You can double the amount to make 12 roses.

You can also use, butter, brown sugar and apple pie spice mixed together instead of fruit preserve.

You can bake these on a flat ray too but make sure the ends of the rose pastry are sealed well so that they do not open while baking.

Next time I will use different coloured apples, red , green, yellow and will also try peach and nectarine. You can try too. They will look amazing I think.

For the fresh Strawberry and Fruit Spread Filled Mini Puffs :

I had some leftovers from the Pastry sheet used by the food monster so I used that to make a few of these fruity delights. I rolled the dough into a flat sheet and cut out a few circles slightly larger then the muffin hole. you can make them into squares too or like an overlapping pocket well. I didn’t decorate the edges but you must mold the top edges into fluted design. It looks very pretty.

Then I prepared a sauce made with fresh strawberries, sugar and whole strawberry fruit preserve. Preserves are very versatile and the sauce came out delicious.

Just cut the fresh ripe strawberries and drizzle some sugar on them and let them macerate for approx 20 min. Now microwave some fruit preserve till it bubbles. Take it out and add the fresh strawberries.

Place the pastry circles in the muffin cups without flattening the puffy texture and poke some holes at the bottom of the shell with a fork so that it doesn’t rise while baking. Pour the fruit mixture in it. Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack  at 180 degrees. The shell should become golden in colour.

You can pour this fruit mixture to make puff pastry pockets,  tiny tartlets. pinwheels, pies or even a little galatte . I will do that soon, so watch this pace.

You can even bake the tart shells separately and simply spoon this lovely berrilicious mix and top it with some whipped cream before serving.

Overall, we had a great day experimenting with the frozen puff pastry sheets. Next time there will be some more great things and better pictures. 🙂 Till then, keep experimenting and exploring.

 

Rum Balls With Chocolate Ganache


Boozy Chocolate Ganache

There is nothing more beautiful and heart warming than to watch your sons cook up a chocolate storm in the kitchen. Yesterday both the young men officially kicked off the holiday season with Chocolate Ganache rum balls. All I did was watch and eat the sinfully loaded goodies. of course, I helped them clean up the stuff.

There was a time when my kitchen would smell of Christmas baking and four little hands would help me make the delicacies. Roles change with time but the warmth and love of bonding over cooking in the kitchen remains the same. That is true love – for food and for each other.

Chocolate ganache is easy and tough at the same time. Simple ingredients and quick to make, this beautiful glaze can be used for anything from truffles, cakes, bread / cookie spread, cup cake filling. We used it to spread over the tasty coconut macaroons.

Coconut Macaroons with Rummy Chocolate Ganache

You just need to keep in mind two important things while making ganache- temperature and proportion. For layering you need to take 1:1 equal proportion of cream and chocolate, for filling it will be 2:1 ( two part chocolate one part cream) and if you want it as a pouring glaze just make the proportion 1:2 (one part chocolate two part cream) It is that simple.

There is no need to simmer or boil the cream, it should be hot enough to melt the chocolate. Use a rich dark chocolate for the ganache.

Usually heavy cream is the best but here I have used fresh cream with semi sweet very dark chocolate.

To make a  voluptuous chocolate ganache you will need :

Dark chocolate (We used semi sweet)

Fresh or heavy/ double cream

Salt – one pinch

coffee powder – 1 teaspoon

Pure Vanilla – 1 teaspoon

butter – 1 tablespoon

Weigh the chocolate and cream to 2:1 proportion so that you have a thick voluptuous ganache.

In a heavy bottom saucepan heat the cream ( do not boil) on low-medium heat.

While the cream is heating, chop the chocolate with a serrated knife into very fine pieces.

Add butter salt and vanilla to the cream and turn off the heat once the cream is heated properly.

Add the chocolate and let it stand for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt properly.

With a kitchen whisk,  blend the ganache slowly until it comes together in a creamy glossy mass.

To use this for making the rum balls or truffles you will need to set the pan in the refrigerator so the ganache cools down completely. Take out the pan every fine minutes and stir to let it cool evenly. It will go from soft to hard quickly so if if that happens simmer it over hot water for a few seconds.

Basically you will need to perfect the recipe by trial and error.

To use it for the frosting for a cake, let the ganache cool completely and whip it with a spatula or wooden spoon until it is light and fluffy. About 1-2 minutes.

We added Old monk dark rum to the ganache (about 2 tablespoons) before setting it in fridge for using later for rum balls.

Rum Balls With boozy Chocolate Ganache

Traditionally the rum balls or truffle balls were made with biscuits and nuts. I have had some awesome Danish rum balls (Rumkuglers) and trust me no other thing in the world can beat them in richness of flavour and texture.

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I love the hands smeared in chocolate, the aroma of dark rum and freshly baked cake for putting together of one of my favourite truffles. I prefer them without any nuts.

Here we used a 8 inch Devil’s Food cake to make them. (1/2 kg cake) . You can use any other cake of your choice. An old pound cake or a fruit cake that you have had enough of should do. This is one of the good ways to use leftover cakes

The moist, rich cake was cooled completely before it was crumbled.

Add about 30 ml of dark rum to it and let it soak for say about 10 minutes.

Into the cake crumble went a handful of  raisins and dried blackberries soaked in 20 ml of dark rum (including the liquid) and 1/2 cup of chocolate ganache.

Rum balls are supposed to have a potent taste of rum, that’s the way we love them. It is sinfully boozy and chocolaty.

In went 1/2 cup of grind mix of nut to this. Walnuts, pecans go well.

Everything was mixed well and the mixing bowl was then covered with a plastic wrap.

The mixture was left to cool in fridge for an hour.

Now to make the balls :

Make small or large balls with the dough and coat them with more ganache or thick melted chocolate/ molasses and then roll them on desiccated coconut/ chocolate rice, sprinklers / mix ground roasted nuts for a decorative layering or keep them plain like I did.

Place the balls on a parchment paper and put them in the fridge.

You can also roll the dough into a small logs and cover them in marzipan and dip the ends in melted chocolate to make rum logs.

You can use cocoa powder and any fruit jam / honey / golden syrup/ corn syrup / for binding

Also,  you can use Brandy, Bourbon instead of dark rum but there is a reason these are called Rum Balls 🙂

Enjoy them fresh or freeze them for later use. The rum balls stay good for 10-15 days in fridge. That is if they aren’t gobbled up sooner than you can blink your eyes.

Hope some of you will try this and do not forget to let me know your experience. These rum balls are midway between the solid rum truffles and Christmas pudding. They are soft and moist. One can make the other variation just by adjusting the proportions. I prefer the melt in the mouth texture. 🙂

Happy Holidays.  

 

 

Drunk Coconut Macaroons

 

 

Recipe – Pudding In A Mug


A warmly spiced, dense bread pudding in a mug is all you need to satisfy winter afternoon sweet cravings. I love the classic bread pudding though these days I make various versions of it with different flavours. A ninety minutes oven baked recipe that was part of my growing up has become a two minute wonder since the microwave came into our lives. Although the  pudding tastes exactly like the baked one somewhere my old-fashioned self still prefers the slow release of fragrances drifting from the kitchen.

Classic Bread Pudding | Chocolate Bread Pudding | Applesauce Bread Pudding

Pudding in mug is a boon for those who either don’t have the time to bake or don’t have the facility. I have tried the steamed version also and it is equally good.

I remember as a child mom would make a quick fix called ‘mumum’ – a simple gruel of toasted bread cooked in milk with sugar, sprinkled with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg powders. We would dig into it with great pleasure. Slowly that mushy warm sweet got a makeover with eggs, raisins, vanilla and other flavours and became a much sought after dessert. Cakes were all fine and dandy but bread pudding was a dessert with a soul. Something that smelt of ‘home’.

Since last few days I have been spending my free time indulging in mug cakes and puddings. There are so many variations that one can make but here are three of my favourites.

A delicious bread pudding with apple sauce topped with some fragrant apple-spice to satiate your craving for both apple pie mix and pudding. A double bonanza.

Another with Irish chocolate chunks and dry fruits. One can use any chocolate and also soak in raisins in bourbon whiskey to make it a tipsy pudding.

The third is a Classic Old Fashioned Bread Pudding with walnut, raisins, spices and vanilla.

These mug puddings certainly bring on a nostalgia like nothing else and are the ultimate comfort food that can be made in a jiffy with simple ingredients from your kitchen.

You can always experiment with the old fashioned one by adding dried berries, sultanas, orange peel julienne, lemon zest , lemon or orange extracts or any other flavours that you like. There is no set rule for a delightful pudding in a mug.

Preparing The Pudding In A Mug

The Magical Microwave

For an Old Fashioned Bread Pudding in mug you need:

Ingredients – 2 slices of bread ( stale is better. Use any bread of your choice. I used the white bread.)  1 medium egg, pinch of cinnamon powder, pinch of nutmeg powder, pure vanilla or vanilla essence 1/4 tsp (optional) . handful of sultanas/raisins walnuts, sugar- 2 tablespoons, milk – 2 tablespoons( 1/3 cup), 1 tablespoon butter. And a microwave friendly Mug.

Method – Lightly grease the mug with some oil. Cut the bread slices into squares and line them in the mug. Layer them with  the dry fruits of your choice (I used raisins and crushed walnuts) . Fill the mug till 3/4.

Now,  whisk an egg with sugar will creamy. Make sure the sugar dissolves completely, add milk, spice mix and vanilla and stir till everything is homogeneously combined. Pour this custard sauce over the bread cubes till the top. Sprinkle some more spice mix and toss a few raisins. Let it soak for a minute or two, pat some butter on top and then put the mug in the center of the microwave plate. Cook uncovered on high for 90 seconds. ( The microwave time may vary a little depending on the voltage. Check to see if there is any liquid left. If yes, then cook again for 30 second burst (10 sec each) till the custard is fully set. If you see the pudding rising up in the mug then it is done.

Take out and eat warm with your favorite topping of whipped cream /maple or golden syrup. I prefer the pudding plain.

For the Applesauce Bread Pudding variation just add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce and apple-pie spice mix to the the basic recipe. Layer it in the middle of bread cubes. You can alternately add small cubes of apple too. Garnish the top of the pudding with some more cubes of the fruit sprinkled with apple pie spice mix. For this I caramelize the apple. It gives a unique flavour to the pudding. You can alternately use pear cubes too but I prefer apple bread combo. Pear tastes best in mug cakes.

The apple pie spice mix has cinnamon, nutmeg, dry ginger, all spice. cloves and a dash of cardamom (optional) I don’t like cardamom in it.

For the Chocolate Bread Pudding in a mug – add cubed bread, broken chocolate pieces ( use dark chocolate for best results. (I used Irish whisky chocolate ), some cinnamon. In a bowl mix milk, egg, vanilla with a fork. Pour the custard mixture on top of the bread cubes. Throw in some raisins. Let it rest for one minute and add a dab of butter. Microwave it for 90 sec or till the custard is set. Pour some chocolate sauce or salted caramel sauce over the pudding before eating. I did not use the caramel sauce in this as the chocolate flavour was intense. Instead, I used it in the classic pudding in a bowl which I made from rest of the leftover bread.

Classic Pudding with caramel sauce in bowl. Just for the road.

One For The Road

TIPS- 

(You can use white granulated sugar, muscovado sugar, light or dark brown sugar, toned or full cream milk and any bread of your choice. The french breads taste best)

You can add fruits like apple, pear etc to the basic pudding like I did in a few. They taste yum. Chocolate chunks too make it heavenly. Soak the raisins/sultanas/dried berries in milk or whiskey so they become plump and nice. Dry ones are good too but the swollen ones taste better.

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 90 sec to 2 minutes.

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

Enjoy these bread puddings and share your versions with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


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

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

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

Jowar flour ( sorghum flour) Laddus (laddoo)

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

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

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

Ingredients:

Jowar ( Sorghum ) flour – 1/2 cup

Jaggery – 1/2 cup

dates –  chopped roughly 2 tablespoon

sesame seed (white ) 1 tablespoon

mixed nuts – walnuts, almonds, peanuts

Raisins – 1 tablespoon

Seeds – melon seeds or magaz – 1 tablespoon

Ghee – 2 -3 tablespoon

Method –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy something healthy this diwali. 

Fresh Homemade Warm Cherry Sauce With Vanilla Ice Cream


Summer is the time to enjoy fruit based desserts. Cherries are in abundance these days and apart from enjoying them as it is I also indulge in making sumptuous cherry sauce. This sinful sauce can be added to ice-creams, yogurt, grilled chicken, shuffle, cheesecake and various other dishes.

To choose cherries – Prefer to buy the ones with stem still attached. The fruit should be firm, smooth and unblemished. Plump cherries are great but they shouldn’t be mushy. I prefer the dark and light multi-hued bunch for the sauce. It gives the sauce a sweet and sour flavor. You may choose the sweet ones.

I have not tried many dishes using this cherry sauce but I do plan to make a pennacota and Risalamande (Danish Rice Pudding sometime soon). It is very similar to our own Rice pudding. Can’t wait to indulge in that sweetness.

Cherry has immense health benefits but those you can always Google and find out. 😀 Here we will just talk about the deep ruby-red flavors of crushed cherries in a warm sauce. Sounds almost erotic, doesn’t it?

To make this sensational sauce you will need 

Sweet Cherries –  2 cups (stem removed washed and pitted)

Sugar – 2 tablespoon (Granulated / Castor or Demerara)

Cornstarch – 1 teaspoon (optional)

Lemon Juice – 1 teaspoon

Water -3 tablespoon

Red Wine – optional

How to make the sauce 

I do not have the tools or technique to pit the cherries so it is a tedious task to take one cherry at a time and carefully sqeeze out the stone without crushing the fruit too much. One day I will learn a better way or indulge in a cherry pitter or a pairing knife to make this easier. Usually cutting the cherries in half is the key to quick pitting.

Once you have pitted the fruit keep it aside.

In a small bowl mix corn starch in a little warm water or use red wine. Dissolve it properly so that there are no lumps. I avoid corn starch if I make a small amount for immediate use. I also like the fruit juices and pulp mingled with sugar to thicken on its own

In a heavy bottom saucepan add cherries ,water and sugar and cook on high flame to bring the mixture to boil. Stir continuously. Then let it simmer on slow flame till the fruit becomes soft. Be careful not to burn the sugar.

Add the wine (half a cup) to the mixture. Add the corn starch mixture and keep stirring the sauce gently.

Taste to check the sweetness. I prefer the natural sweetness of the cherries but you can add a bit more sugar if needed. Add lemon juice in the end moments.

Keep stirring the sauce till it thickens.

Cool it and keep in an air tight jar in the refrigerator or freeze it. Frozen sauce stays for 3-4 weeks and the refrigerated one 2-3 days. I make small quantities and keep in the fridge. IF it doesn’t get licked off 😀

For the topping on Vanilla Ice cream, scoop out the ice cream in a whisky glass, ice cream glass bowls or any other bowl.

Lavishly pour warm cherry sauce over the scoops and watch the red liquid cascade down the creamy white contours of the scoops. Let it drip down in the glass ( if using)

You can decorate it with a fresh basil or cherry on top. Swirl the sauce in the ice cream for more dramatic experience. I am not a food blogger or food photographer so all my images are unprofessional. BUT, the cherry sauce is to die for. I can vouch for that.

Carrot Fudge ( Gajar Ki Barfi) – Recipe


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

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

We will need – 

Carrots – 1/2 kg

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

Ghee ( Clarified Butter) – 4 table spoon full

Green Cardamom Powder – 1 teaspoon

Raisins – 4 table spoons

Shredded Almonds – 4 tablespoons

Milk (Full Cream) – 1/2 Kg

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Method –

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

Wash, peel and grate the carrots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soul Food – Two Traditional Indian Sweet Gruels – Atta Lapsi and Besan Seera


There is nothing like hot, aromatic, flavourful food on winter days. When it comes to sweets there are many which are my favorite winter desserts like various halwas, Jalebi, kheers, gulab jamun etc. but when I am battling cough and cold I crave for besan seera and atta lapsi, two traditional sweet gruels which are full of health and taste.

Many of my childhood memories are associated with these sweet dishes especially of the days when I was fighting a bad cough and cold at the beginning of winter and would long for hot seera from mom’s kitchen while sitting in a cozy quilt at night. Slowly I would sip or eat spoonfuls of it and doze off into blissful sleep. It is one of the sure shot home remedies for cough and cold, best to be eaten at night before sleeping. Soothes the throat and warms the body in a jiffy.

Many variations of lapsi and seera are made across the country, these two recipes are the basic ones that I make for my family. These traditional Indian desserts are not just sweet dishes but tried and tested home cure too. So who doesn’t want soul food on such difficult days 🙂

Atta Lapsi 

Made from whole wheat flour this lapsi has a good amount of complex carbohydrates for instant energy. It has other nutritional benefits too which you can Google. Some people call this dessert Atta halwa or whole wheat pudding because of its smooth velvety pudding like texture but I prefer to make it like a gruel like it was made in olden days.Rural folks still call it lapsi but now a days one doesn’t hear this word so often.  Lapsi can be made with ragi flour too and it tastes equally delicious.

For whole wheat Lapsi/Lapsee you will need:

Whole Wheat Flour – 1/2 cup

Sugar or Jaggery – 1/2 cup or less ( depends on how sweet you want it)

Water -2 cups (depends on how flowy you like it)

Black peppercorns – 6-7 crushed

Black cardamom seeds –  1/4 teaspoon crushed

To make Atta Lapsi 

First place a heavy bottom wok or pan on the stove.

Add wheat flour and dry roast it on low medium heat till it starts giving a nice aroma and the colour turns to golden almond brown. Add the crushed spices and stir. Black peppercorn and black cardamom are helpful in alleviating the symptoms of many respiratory ailments including  cold, cough or a congested chest.

Now slowly add the water stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed. Keep stirring till the mixture it smooth and gets the required texture and consistency. You can reduce or increase the amount of water as per your need. I like to keep the lapsi gruel like).  Add sugar/ grated jaggery at this point.

This recipe doesnt not require any oil or ghee(clarified butter).

Keep the flame low and cover the pan with lid for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and serve hot.

You can add raisins and other dry fruits in it if you are making it as a dessert. Keep the consistency pudding like for the halwa.

Besan ka Seera 

 

Besan seera is one of the more popular dishes used as a home remedy for cough and common cold. This dish is gluten-free and very nutritious. Gram flour is made by finely grinding the chickpeas and is rich in protein , folate, thiamine, B6 and other vitamins,  and minerals like iron, magnesium etc. Spices like cardamom and black peppercorns are beneficial in curing many respiratory ailments including chest congestion, cold etc. I put both green and black cardamoms in this dish. Both are a good source of many nutrients like iron, manganese, essential volatile oils, calcium, magnesium etc. and they add a nice flavor to the dessert.

 

 

For Besan Seera you will need :

Besan (Gram flour) – 1/2 cup

Sugar – 1/2 cup

Ghee/ Clarified butter – 1/4 cup

Water – 2 cups

Green Cardamom seeds –  two pinches of powdered seeds

Black Cardamom seeds – two pinches of powdered seeds

 

To make Besan Seera 

Keep a heavy bottom pan or wok on medium heat. Once the pan is hot add ghee / clarified butter and warm it up. Turn the heat low once the ghee is hot then add besan/ gram flour to it and roast it till it starts giving a nice aroma and turns brown in color.

Make sure the flour doesn’t burn or get over roasted. You will be able to make out from the distinct aroma when its done.

Stir in the powdered spices.

Now slowly add water to it and keep stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed. The mixture should have a smooth velvety texture. Add or reduce water to match the consistency you need.  I like to keep it gruel like so I can sip or eat with a spoon whichever way I like.

Note– You can use milk 2 cups in case of dry cough without much mucus or use water 2 cups if there is a lot of persistent mucus with cough. I avoid milk in both the cases.

Add sugar and stir properly.  Turn off the heat and serve hot.

You need to sip it spoon by spoon before going to bed at night. Make sure you don’t get up after having it. Just cozy up and sleep. 🙂 This is if you are suffering from cold, cough and chest congestion.

You can always make this delicious sweet dish any time throughout winter and enjoy it by adding crushed almonds, raisins etc to it.

I hope you like these rustic desserts and make your winter sumptuous. Let me know your experiences.  If you have any variations to these recipes please post them in the comment section.