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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Dessert – Poached Pears With Spices And Caramel


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Poached fruits are great quick desserts and a good way to convert ho-hum fruits into something fantastically delicious. I love the basic  sugar and water  poaching for everyday dessert because it retains the taste and delicate flavor of the fruit and isn’t loaded with heavy aromas of spices or other ingredients but for special occasions or if I am in a little indulgent mood I add spices, wine, caramel sauce etc according to the mood of the day.

Poaching is done at any stage of ripeness of the fruit but if you have nice and firm juicy fruit it reduces the amount of sugar/honey to be added which is good.

There are a thousand ways one can enhance poached Pears by pairing them with different ingredients. On cold winter days this is one of my favorite desserts. So, how did this idea of poached Pears pop up suddenly. I am writing about the eroticism of cooking alone or for someone special or with someone special and the I think the elegance and sensuousness of perfectly poached warm pears with  chilled vanilla ice cream or hot caramel sauce is unbeatable.  Creating something in the kitchen for me is like making love, you need to give yourself to the ingredients and let them spin the magic for a perfect orgasmic experience of a well made dish.  So here is the recipe for all of you to spice up and sweeten your winter days.

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Ingredients :

6 medium size firm plump ripe Pears of your choice

3/4 inch Ginger peeled and finely chopped

1/2 lemon

Spice mix – 4 cloves, 4 peppercorn, 2 all spice, 1 star anise (broken in half) , 1 cinnamon stick broken in half ( you can choose your own)

Honey – 2 Table spoon

Vanilla essence – 1 teaspoon or one split vanilla bean

Sugar – 1/2 cup Sugar ( you can use sugar according to the sweetness of fruit and use part white and part brown sugar or entirely use brown sugar too. Don’t use honey if using brown sugar)

Water – Just enough to cover the pears. (About four cups should do)

For caramel Sauce –

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

A pinch of salt

Method For Poaching Pears:

Wash and peel pears. You can keep them whole or cut them in half from top to bottom. Keep the stems so you can pick them easily.

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Scoop out the middle part with a melon scooper. ( if you are using whole pear scoop out the center from the bottom and cut it flat so it can stand on the plate.

Take a sauce pan and add water,  sugar,  add spices as it warms and bring to one boil. Squeeze lemon juice into it and remove the froth that comes up while boiling.

Add pears and cover the lid. Let it simmer on low heat now till the fruit becomes tender enough for the fork to pierce easily.

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Add honey and vanilla essence at this stage and mix. ( if using vanilla bean add with spices)

Check for tenderness of the fruit and plate those which are done.

Once all the fruit is out on the plate or Bowl let the syrup thicken a little on low heat.

Pour the syrup over the pears along with the spices.

Caramel syrup 

Take a heavy bottom pan and add sugar to it. Let it melt. Swirl the pan a few times so the sugar dissolves equally and doesn’t burn, add tap hot water to it and keep stirring till the syrup is amber gold in color. (Don’t over cook so the sugar will solidify) . Remove from heat when done. Warm the syrup when needed

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Serving

Take out the poached fruit on a plate or in a bowl pour some warm syrup over them along with the spices. Serve with chocolate sponge cake or vanilla ice cream drizzled with generous amount of the luscious caramel syrup.

Variations 

You can poach the pears in simple traditional  sugar and water style or in red wine (I use Merlot or Shiraz) and it will fill your home with an irresistible aroma that will linger in your senses for a long time. Add/remove spices as you wish. Experiment with Jaggery instead of sugar. Serve plain or with chocolate/ caramel sauce. It tastes  great with mint chocolate. I use After 8 for that. There is no limit to to what you can do. Go Indulge.

Enjoy this gorgeous treat and let me know the experience.