Recipe – Classic Kesar Shrikhand


 

Shrikhand is a traditional dessert made from full fat hung yogurt known in Maharashtra as Malai Chakka. These days chakka is easily available at halwais and dairies so people don’t spend hours straining the water from the yogurt. In many cities I have seen the use of Greek Yogurt too which is okay in case you’re in a rush or don’t  have access to Chakka. I, on the other hand, prefer to make it the traditional way.

It is one of the sweets offered in Prasadam to the Gods and a must preparation for all auspicious and festive occasions. These days we find a lot of variations to the classic Shrikhand with addition of fruits etc but while I was growing up only Aamrakhand or mango flavored Shrikhand was the other variation. Alphonso mangoes were used to make this flavorful sweet. I like Aamrakhand but I absolutely love the classic Kesar Shrikhand.

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For me Shrikhand brings memories of a lost love, a city that’s become meaningless for me now and yet there is that pull which I can’t let go of. It also reminds me of someone very special I’ve lost. Kalindi maushi did my elder son’s Annaparashan with the delicious Shrikhand she used to make among other things. It was specially made for Adi and the  boy literally put his whole face in the pot after that first lick. He still loves it to the heart. I cherish the time we all spent with her. Sometimes we need to keep both the love and the loss alive for the strength it gives.

I have grown up eating Shrikhand and made it several times. Never liked the store bought ones. They are too sweet for my taste. We don’t get chakka (Hung curd) in Delhi so it is always a labor of love to prepare the sweet. The best full fat yogurt ( usually home cultured), hours of hanging it in a muslin cloth till the last drop of water leaves it or if in a hurry then layers n layers of newspapers topped by layers of muslin cloth (changed in between) with yogurt on top so that all the water gets absorbed quickly. I use this method v rarely though. Don’t like shortcuts. The thick creamy hung curd is rubbed through the sieve ( a puran yantra was used in aaji’s home), whipped and then into the silky smoothness, boora cheeni and saffron (warmed, crushed and diluted in milk) is mixed into it. The sugar is just right so the slight tartness of yogurt remains. That’s essential for a good shrikhand. Usually I don’t prefer to add nuts ( pista, charoli etc) but I indulged today and added some. Had this sinful creamy shrikhand with crisp pooris and dubkiwale aloo. The best way to eat it is by licking it off with a finger. That’s the only way I know and love.  I will post the potato curry recipe soon.

Hot crisp Poori and smooth chilled Shrikhand are a perfect match just like Poori and Aamras. Another of my favorites.

To make the Srikhand you’ll need :

Ingredients : 

Malai Chakka – 1 kg ( homemade hung curd proportion – 1 kg full fat yogurt gives approximately 250 gram hung curd)

Boora cheeni or Powdered Sugar – 700 -750 grams

Salt – 1 pinch

Finely grated Nutneg – 1/4th tsp ( optional as I did’t use it)

Milk – 1/4 cup

Saffron strands ( warmed, bruised and soaked in milk ) – a few ( 8-10)

Pistachio and Charoli ( chironji)  ( soaked and finely chopped) – 1 tsp

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp ( if using nutmeg then avoid this)

Method : 

If using store bought chakka or Greek yogurt just it in a muslin cloth for an hour or so to remove all traces of water.

If making Hung Curd at home then put the curd in a muslin or cheese cloth, gather its edges and tie into a knot. ( I use old cotton dupatta or saree cloth too) Hang from the knot end over a large container so that the water drips into it. Let it remain for at least 6-7 hours. I sometimes put the cloth on a sieve and place the container in fridge overnight so that the curd doesn’t get sour. Another way is to place layers of old newspapers topped with double layered muslin cloth and placing the yogurt on the cloth. In a few hours the newpapers will absorb all the liquid. You may change them ones in between.

Once you have hung curd with zero traces of water take it out in a large bowl and gently fold and stir Boora chini into it along with saffron milk, nutmeg or cardamom powder. Once everything is incorporated well cover and keep it for half an hour. Remember not to whisk or stir it briskly or it will tend to become watery and runny. You need to be patient and kind. The sugar will release some water in this time.

Now gently rub this mixture through the sieve so that all the ingredients mix into a homogenized smooth mixture. Spoon the Shrikhand into a serving bowl and garnish with a little saffron milk and chopped nuts if using.

 

The sign of a good Shrikhand is that it should hold a place on a plate when served and not need a bowl.

You can freeze this Shrikhand in airtight containers for a few days but usually it is licked off sooner that you can imagine.

If you make it from my recipe do tag me and share your experience.

 

 

Recipe – Boozy Watermelon Granita


 

A juicy red watermelon at the counter made me realise that I never shared the recipe of this super delicious boozy Granita I made last year.  This frozen dessert is perfect treat in this searing heat, super refreshing and delicious.  Let’s say it’s a fancy version of your childhood favorite, the shaved ice with syrups. Barf ka gola.. kala khatta being my favorite. 🙂 

Making Granitas require no special skills, just a little patience, a fork and a deep dish like a loaf pan is all that’s needed. You can use cantaloupes, strawberries or any other fruit too but somehow watermelon is my favourite. Look at that color. Also, they are perfect to make granita with because they contain 92% water in the form of juice.

Go easy on Vodka or the Granita will become a slushy. I usually add it after first two scrapping. Never fails to give that robust flavor.

This one also has fresh ginger juice, crushed fresh mint leaves, lemon juice and zest, a touch of wild forest honey and Smirnoff. Go easy on Vodka or the Granita will become a slushy. I usually add it after first two scrapping. Never fails to give that robust flavor. You can use cantaloupes, strawberries or any other for this Granita and use Gin instead or Vodka if you prefer that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small watermelon, peeled and deseeded
  • 130ml vodka
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Honey as per the sweetness of fruit
  • Fresh crushed mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh Ginger juice

Method :

Choose a ripe, juicy watermelon. Chop and take out the flesh in a bowl. Discard the seeds.

In a blender jar add chopped watermelon, mint, honey, ginger juice, lemon zest, lemon juice and half the vodka. Blend nicely till smooth. Do it in batches to get a even consistency. Remember that the frozen treats taste less sweet than unfrozen ones so add slightly more honey to the pureed fruit.

Transfer the puree into a large bowl then strain it through a seive into a deepd dish / cake tin or loaf tin. I used a 9″ loaf tin. Cover the baking tin with a cling wrap. Freeze it for 2-3 hours. 

Check to see if the ice crystals have started to begin. Take it out and drag a fork over the Granita to break the ice, scrape it from sides till you get to the less frozen parts,  cover and put it again in the freezer for 50 minutes. Do it a couple of times. During the second round add the remaining Vodka and mix well. You can use sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar for sweetening too. I like the taste if raw organic honey.

Repeat the process until the entire mixture is properly frozen and shaved. Store the Granita covered in plastic wrap till ready to use.

Scoop and serve garnished with muddled mint and chilled watermelon and lemon wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

Kali Gajar Ka Halwa |Black Carrot Halwa


 

It is an established fact that carrot halwa is the quintessential winter dessert in North India at least. Usually everyone makes the red carrot halwa, loaded with the goodness of juicy winter carrots, ghee (a good fat), and dry fruits but I absolutely love the black carrot halwa since my childhood. More than the red and the exotic white one which is sold only at Shirin Bhawan, Chandini Chawk, Old Delhi. In Allahabad, Lucknow and nearby areas it was made in many households on regular basis and was one of the top picks for the winter wedding season. It was also part of the Royal Awadhi cuisine.

In Delhi, the safed gajar ka halwa ruled until the red one came and dominated the market after the partition.

Even though it a specialty of Eastern UP, very few shops make and sell it. Kali gajar is not really black but of deep violet hue like the beetroot and is used in Punjab for the preparation of the delicious kanji, a mustard, ginger powder and rock salt-laced tingling appetizer. Interestingly this deep purple variety of carrot is the original carrot.

This traditional gajar halwa is one of the top ones in the lost recipes / delicacies of Indian cuisines. The richness of ghee helps in absorption of fat soluble vitamins in the pigments. Black carrot is rich in flavonoids and Antioxidant anthocyanins among other things. They are considered to be warming in nature and extremely healthy so the halwa was eaten as a tonic to boost the immunity. The halwa is less sweet than the red carrot and has a unique taste and flavor that you need to cultivate and once you do it will become one of your top choices.

For years I made this delicious exactly as I made the red carrot halwa and thought that the astringent taste was part of the package but then as few years back I came across Sangeeta Khanna’s recipe on her blog. I was surprised to know the reason for the strange taste and how the black carrots mask the sweetness of the milk unlike the sweet red ones when cooked in full fat milk. So I learned how to get rid of the problem. It was a game changer for the dish I so love. So, the recipe I am sharing is originally hers and you can find it HERE too.

The Kali Gajar Halwa is rich in ghee ( clarified butter) which is essential for the absorption of fat soluble nutrients of the pigment. So, do make this mouth watering dish before the season for black carrots is over.

Ingredients:

1 kg cleaned peeled and grated black carrots
1 Liter full fat milk reduced to make about 200 gm rabdi like thick consistency)
200 gm sugar
60 gm (2-3 tbsp) ghee or a little more
chopped nuts, raisins for garnish (I usually prefer it without any add-ons)

Method:

Wash, wipe, peel and grate the carrots and keep aside. I usually use a plastic bag over my hands while grating as the pigment is hard to wash off. Be careful of it staining your clothes etc.

( Side note -My aunt used to say one should always use straight carrots and not the deformed twisted ones. I asked her the reason and she gave some popular story about the root resembling the phallic shape and considered aphrodisiac.)  😀 

Take the full fat whole milk in a thick bottom pan and bring it to boil. Now, reduce heat and let it evaporate and thicken while you prepare the carrots. Keep stirring now and then. I absolutely detest khoya or mawa so never use it. It also changes the original subtle taste which is a complete no no. No shortcuts to good food.

Heat a broad thick bottom pan or wok  on medium flame and generously smear it with ghee. The wok must be large enough to comfortably contain all the grated carrot.

Slid in the grated carrots and stir vigorously for five minutes or till the carrots wilt and reduce. Now, tun the flame to medium and keep stirring. The beautiful flavors will get locked in as the carrots get a little seared. They will get a glorious sheen when this happens.

Once the grated carrot reduces in volume and becomes shiny soft you can mash it a little to get a smooth texture or leave it as it is for that authentic granular texture. I don’t mash the carrots as it is the shredded texture that gives the dish its character.

Add the sugar and mix well. Keep stirring and cooking till all the water released from adding the sugar evaporates. The mixture will become glazed and shine.

By now the milk would have reduced to the required consistency. Stir and scrape all the thick malai from the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat and remove it from stove. Add the thick evaporated milk to the carrot mixture and mix well. The milk will take on the gorgeous purple hue of the carrots and the kitchen will become fragrant with the aroma and the halwa won’t get the .astringent taste either.

Cook till all the ingredients come together in a mass. The mixture will usually leave the sides. Roast it a little more and remove from heat. 

Garnish with chopped blanched almonds, raisins etc if you desire. The halwa is best served hot.

I can assure you that you will definitely go for another helping.  Do let me know if you prepare this.

Khubani Ki Barfi | Apricot Fudge


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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients : 

Dried Apricots – 400 gm

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

Sweetened condensed milk- 4 tbsp

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

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

Edible Silver leaf (vark)  – Optional

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

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

Ghee –  2-3 tbsp

Steps :

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

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

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

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

Cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.

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

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

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

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

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

Tip:

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

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

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

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

 

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.

The Coffee Cinnamon and Raisin eggless  bread pudding 

 

This version has no eggs. I used the full cream milk with the top cream which was perhaps 2 tablespoon for one mug cake. 1/4 teaspoon of Nescafe and a pinch or two of cinnamon plus a handful of raisins. Method of preparation is the same.

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.