Spicy Phool Makhana ( Puffed Lotus Seeds) Namkeen


 

The two recipes for Makhana snacks that I posted earlier were appreciated by many so I am posting another version for Diwali. This has dry fruits and peanuts apart from a few other healthy ingredients. You can either roast the ingredients or lightly toast them in a little ghee. Ghee, as you know, is good for health if eaten in moderation.

This crispy, low fat, low calorie snack is high on nutrition and pairs beautifully with a steaming mug of Chai. You can eat it during fasting days too.  It has a low Glycimic index and is protein rich, high in carbohydrates, gluten free and naturally vegan.

Ingredients :

Makhana or Lotus Seeds  – 2 cups

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Peanuts – 1/4 cup

Raisins – 1/2 cup

Almonds – 1/2 cup

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Curry leaves – 10-12

Chopped green chili – 2 tsp

Dry coconut  slices – 1 few

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp (optional)

Salt ( Either sendha or normal table salt) – As per taste

Chaat masala – As per taste

Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp

Dried fresh mint and methi (fenugreek) leaves – 1/4 tsp

Roasted chana daal – 4 tbsp

Roasted cornflakes – 3-4 tbsp

Rice puffs –  1/4 cup

 

Method –

Heat a pan and add a little ghee. Add makhanas and roast them on low heat till they turn light golden and become crunchy. To test, take one fox nut and press between your fingers, it should crumble. Take them out in a plate.

Add almonds and toast them till they change color. Remove and toast the peanut till slight brown. You can add a little ghee and lightly fry them them too. Remove in a plate.

Lightly roast coconut slices and remove.

Now, add the remaining ghee to the pan. Add mustard seeds and when they crackle, add chopped green chili and curry leaves. Fry them till the moisture evaporates and they become crisp. Turn off the gas.

Add the peanuts, almonds, raisins and stir. Add makhana and stir.  Add salt, chaat masala, black pepper powder to it and mix well.

Take it out in a  bowl and let it cool. Store in an airtight container.

I made one version like this and to the other added roasted cornflakes, rice puffs, roasted chana daal too. ( you need to wash and soak the dal for at least an hour before roasting)

I skipped turmeric in the first variation and only used it for certain ingredients but you should use for the entire mixture.

You can also add roasted cashew nuts and different seeds to it.

Enjoy this healthy gluten free high protein snack with hot tea.

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Cold Brew Iced Tea With Plum and Basil


 

Iced teas and coffees are simple summertime pleasures. I make a variety of Iced teas and Tisane every summer. You can find some recipes HERE. These are not cold brews though.

I am very fond of cold brewing as it is a gentler and slower and selective process of brewing than the hot brew and the subtle flavors of the tea leaves come out very well. I find them less acidic too. Another one is the Sun brewing where you keep the tea infusion outside in the sun and let the heat help in steeping. I have noticed that both ways the taste is different. Even the traditional hot brews and cold brews are chemically different from each other and taste different so do not compare them, instead enjoy them as different drinks.

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Cold Brew

For those of you who are not familiar with cold brew let me tell you how it is done. You take a tumbler, add tea leaves of your choice, add water, spices and herbs if desired and let it brew for 6-8 hours. The amount and quality of leaves and the time for steeping depends on which tea you are using and what strength you desire. Sometimes I use the infused leaves 3-4 times, enjoying the different consistency of flavors. At times I brew for 1-2 hours and it’s good to go.

You will have a lot of leeway when it comes to the proportions but I use the standard 4 tsp/1 liter ratio. Adding or reducing as per requirement. I usually steep the tea for 6-8 overs or overnight. Remember that you will need more tea leaves than you will need for a hot brew.

You can add spices like all spice, clove, cinnamon, star anise etc and herbs like lemon grass, mint, basil, thyme sprigs or rosemary sprigs to the infusion. I do them with fruits too. Peaches, plums, nectarines, kokum, mango, lemon, orange, various berries work beautifully with them. There are endless combinations you can explore.

You can freeze these teas to makes gorgeous slushies too and be adventurous to add some Vodka, Gin, Bourbon etc.

I recently went to the hills and got some lovely hand plucked small variety of plums.  Here’s how I made the Plum and Holy Basil infused Iced Tea with them

Unlike the usual way of  masticating plums with sugar or making a syrup with plums I prefer fresh fruit tipped into the iced tea. I also use the pulp of over ripe plums to add extra flavor.

Overripe and bruised plums work best with this tea and you can add a few slightly ripe but firm sour ones too.

Ingredients: 

4 tbsp Darjeeling Black Tea leaves or tea leaves of your choice

6 -8 Medium size Ripe Plums

2 tbsp Organic raw honey (optional)

1 liter water

1 tsp Lemon Juice

Lemon wedges

Few leaves of Holy Basil

Steps : 

Take 6 of the plums and remove all the pulp in a bowl. Discard the stone or pit. Add honey to the pulp and mix. Keep it in the fridge.

In a pitcher or tumbler add the tea leaves and basil leaves then top them with drinking water. Close the lid and let it seep overnight or for 6-8 hours.

When making the plum iced tea, strain the tea in a glass pitcher and add the pulp to it. Mix nicely. Test for sweetness. I prefer the fruity sweetness and don’t add too much of honey. I don’t use sugar but you can make a simple sugar syrup and add if needed. You can also mix a little hot water and honey to mix instead of mixing it in the fruit pulp. I like it that way,

Add lots of ice and slender wedges of plum along with lemon wedges. You can add a few plum and lemon wedges to the tea while brewing too. It gives an even more intense flavor. Before straining the tea leaves just take them out and add to the strained tea.

Use the tea leaves again if desired. I use this twice.  The green tea leaves I use at least 3 times.

Pour the tea in tall glasses with plum and lemon slices and the basil leaves. Keep a stirrer in each glass. You would love the deep dark plum slices and the soothing green basil leaves floating in the ruby red liquid.

Sip this delicious and refreshing fruity iced tea to battle the summer heat.

You can also freeze some of the Plum iced tea in ice cube tray and add that instead of normal ice cubes.

I froze some of the iced tea to make a super delicious slushie with intense flavors. Do try that too. I’m not a big fan of sorbet but you can go ahead and make that too.

Make these delicious fruity Iced teas this summer to stay hydrated the healthy, flavorful way.

Do leave a note if you make this.

Musk Melon & Lemon Sorbet


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

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

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

Ingredients :

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

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

Fresh Lemon Juice – 1 Tbsp

Lemon zest – 1/4 tsp

2-3 Tbsp water ( as required)

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip – 

To choose a good melon look for these signs.

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

A good fruit will ensure a good sorbet.

Note –

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

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

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

Add a little gin or vodka for that boozy taste.

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

Bengali Kachcha Aamer Mishti Chutney


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

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

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

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

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

It quickens the cooking process too.

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

Ingredients –

Raw mangoes – 1/2 kg (4 medium size)

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

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

Whole dry red chilies – 2-3

Black mustard seeds – 2-3 tsp

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

Salt – to taste

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Mustard oil – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use dry, clean spoons to take out the chutney.

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

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

Homemade Basic & Fruit Juice Infused Rasgullas


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

Pressure cooker Rasgullas:

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

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

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

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

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

Now the Ingredients and the steps.

Ingredients : 

To make chena :

Full fat milk / Cow’s milk – 2 Cups

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

For Basic Rasgullas – 

Water for syrup – 600 ml approx

Sugar – 200  gm

Steps :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve them chilled with a little syrup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Healthy Snacks – Pan Roasted Spiced Fox Nuts


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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients –

Phool Makhana or puffed Fox Nuts – 100 gm

Red Chilli Powder – to taste

Black pepper powder – to taste

Pink Salt / sendha namak – to taste

Chaat masala – to taste (optional)

Turmeric- if desired a pinch

Ghee – 1 tsp

Dried mint – to taste (optional)

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

Steps – 

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

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

Now take them out in a plate.

In a bowl mix all the spices.

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

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

Store them in an airtight container for later use.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Till then eat smart and stay healthy.

Bhajani Thalipeeth With Fenugreek Leaves And Green chilli Thecha


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

 

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

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

1 Teaspoon – Cumin seeds

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

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

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

 

Methichi Talipeeth 

Ingredients :

Bhajani – 1 Cup

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

Onion (small) – 1 (chopped fine)

Green Chilli – 1-2 ( chopped fine )

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoon ( chopped fine)

Salt – to taste

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

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

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

Water to kneed the dough

Oil for cooking

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how I did it.

Hirvya Mirchi cha Thecha ( Green chilli thecha) 

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

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

Ingredients :

Fresh thin green chilies – 8-10

Garlic cloves – 5-6

Roasted peanuts – 2 tbsp (optional)

Salt- to taste

Oil – 1 tsp

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

Steps – 

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

Heat a small saucepan and add a tsp of oil.

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

Add the coriander leaves if using and stir.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.

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

Pound till you get a coarse mixture.

You can coarsely grind it in mixer too.

Take it out in a bowl and serve.

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

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

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

 

 

Kada Prasad – Recipe And A Food Story


The melodious strains of Gurbani, prabhat pheris, prakash utsav, lagars ( free community meals)  and the unforgettable kada prasad were my initiation to something that would become a very important part of my life.

I was a young girl searching for solace. Drawn to the local Gurudwara by the strains of music I would go inside and get transported to a totally different world. Neither a Sikh nor a religeous person this experience was purely spiritual.

I remembered a Sikh friend’s granny giving me an extremely delicious halwa as prasad. I asked what it was made of and couldn’t believe when she said wheat flour. Now, we too made aate ka halwa but it never tasted like the one from the Gurudwara or from her kitchen. I insisted on other helping which she lovingly gave and told me that prasad is to be eaten like prasad not like mithai.

Whenever I found an opportunity I would visit the nearby Gurudwara for the shabad and for the prasad. The serenity of the place always calmed me down. I learned to prepare this divine prasad from beeji as she was called by my friend. I had just passed out from school and I think that was the last time we met before going our ways. We used to lead the school choir that participated in shabad & Kirtan competitions and still have my winning certificates of merit from Mata Sundari College.

Later, Gurudwara became a spiritual sanctuary for me, a place where I would go and spend hours sitting in complete silence, soaking in the healing viberations. Letting go of all the sorrow that filled my heart. Sometimes the tears would flow but no one paid attention or judged. I was at home inside that place of bliss. It is still a place where I become a witness to myself. Sometimes I would quietly sit by the sarovar and read Sukhmani sahib or Dukh bhanjini sahib. The words cleansed me from inside out. For me it was not just a journey with but a source of strength to cope with what lay ahead.

I still go to Bangla Sahib whenever possible though lately my visits have become irregular. You must do the seva in some Gurudwara at least once in a lifetime. I can not explain the feeling one experiences.

Today, I am sharing that recipe with you. Though I can never replicate the original. It does, however, bring back the same taste from my youth.

These silver katoris are from my childhood. Perhaps presented or bought at birth so about fifty year old. 🙂

This simple recipe for Kada Prasad doesn’t need any dry fruits or other add-ons. The flavor comes from the roasting of wheat flour in pure desi ghee or clarified butter. Roasting is also the most important aspect of making the halwa. It has to be even and just the right rich brown color or it won’t give you the authentic taste of the prasad. Also, the wheat flour needs to be coarse (Dardara) to get the right texture. You can use the usual wheat flour too but the texture won’t be like the one made in Gurudwaras. Two things that are a MUST in this recipe – Ghee and right proportion of the ingredients. You can not replace Ghee with anything else. Also, the halwa made from prasad is NEVER heated again. Something I learned from beeji.

One of the simplest of recipes and yet the richest. Today being Gurubpurab I decided to make the halwa and distribute to neighbors and family members.

Here is my recipe :

Whole wheat flour ( coarsly ground) – 1 Cup

Sugar -1 Cup

Pure Ghee (Clarified Butter ) –  1 Cup ( Yes, the halwa is laden with ghee and that is why it should be eaten less)

Water – 3 Cups

The proportion is always – 1-1-1-3 You can always double triple or half, quarter the proportion as per need.

 

Steps : 

In a kadhayi heat the water and add sugar to it. Stir to dissolve and keep aside. You can add the sugar directly also. If doing that just heat the water and keep aside for later use. Heating the water ensures that there is no change of temperature when it is added to hot roasted flour. It also ensures even cooking.

In another kadhayi heat the ghee till nicely warm. Add the wheat flour / atta and stir. Keep the flame on slow – medium as the flour tends to rapidly change from light brown – dark brown  and burnt stage.

This is an important process so do it it with patience and love.

You will see the color change, keep stirring till you get to the stage where the color is rich brown and the mixture has a sand like grainy texture. The butty aroma is another sign of an evenly roasted aata. You will also notice the ghee leaving the sides now.

At this point, add the hot sugar water to the wheat ghee mixture. Be careful not to scald yourself. Stir vigorously so that no lumps are formed. Shift to medium heat to ensure the right consistency. Now turn the flame to low and keep stirring till all the water absorbs and the halwa reaches the right consistency. The ghee will starts leaving the sides again once that happens.

Turn off the gas and remove the prasad in a clean bowl. Usually the halwa is covered with a cloth and cut into five portions for each of the Sikh Gurus and then distributed after the prayer and offering.

You can garnish with almonds if not making as prasad.

An interesting fact from my marital village in Himachal –

The village of Mairi has Dera Baba Vadbhag Singh Ji Gurudwara. After the Holi / Baisakhi Mela finishes the devotees or Sangat are offered karah prasad that is kept covered in a large kadhayi locked inside the basement in the gurudwara. After the ardas when the door is opened the prasad has a large hand imprint on it. It is believed that Baba ji comes to bless the prasad. It is then called panje ka prasad. No one knows how that miracle happens but faith keeps the prasad good for years. My MIL says that the prasad never gets spoiled. I will some day write about my experience of the village life etc.

For now, Keep your heart light burning bright. Stay blessed and once again a very blessed gurupurab to all of you. Remember the teachings of Baba Nanak who left us a beautiful treasure of how the life should be.

 

Awwal Allah Noor Upaya Qudrat Keh Sub Banday

Aik Noor Keh Sub Jag Upajiya Kaun Bhale Ko Mandhe

God created light of which all the beings were born

And from this light, the universe; so who is good and who is bad

 

 

Bathua Raita |Chenopodium album Yogurt Dip


Bathua or bathu as some call it is one of my favorite winter greens. I can’t digest spinach so it has been a constant source of high level of iron for me among other things. It is also a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, dietary fibers, amino acids, B complex, Vitamin A and C etc. Usually to absorb all the nutrients it has to be eaten with curds, lemon juice or tomatoes. It keeps the gut healthy, has numerous health benefits and is delicious too. Bathua is also known as Lamb’s Quarters. pigweed, Goosefoot etc.

I use this wonderful, versatile green in stir-fry, as stuffing in parathas, in dals, raita, fritters, kadhi etc. Sarson ka saag is incomplete without adding bathua to it. It is a game changer in that dish. You can even make a simple pesto with it.

Bathua raita is cooling though bathua in itself is considered warming in winter. The beautiful flavor of garlic, green chili,  roasted cumin and bathua make for a delicious raita with cheelas, multigrain rotis, makki or any millet roti.

Here is a simple yet delicious recipe for the raita.

 

Ingredients : 

Bathua greens ( cleaned, washed, stalks removed and chopped) – 1 Cup

Garlic cloves, finely chopped –  1 tbsp

Green chili, finely chopped – 1 tsp

Roasted cumin powder – 1 tbsp

Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp

Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp

Whole coriander seeds – 1/4 tsp

Hing / Asafoetida – 2-3 pinches

Curds (Home cultured) – 2-3 cups

Salt – as per taste

Oil – 1/4 tsp

 

Steps : 

I prefer home cultured curds. Whisk the curds in a bowl so that there are no lumps. Add the powdered spices and salt. Mix well.

Boil the chopped bathua with a little salt and very little water till it becomes soft.

Cool the bathua and rub it with your fingers or grind on the silbatta. ( some people blend it in the mixer but I prefer the coarse leafy texture in the raita)

In a tempering pan  heat a little ghee or mustard oil if you prefer that, add hing, cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, when the seeds sputter turn of the heat and add chopped green chili ( I use those that are slightly going red), chopped garlic. Stir and pour over the raita.

Decorate with spice powders and serve chilled with parathas, cheelas, multi-grain rotis  etc or just eat a bowlful as it is.

 

 

 

Lotus Stem / Kamal Kakdi / Nadru Shami kebab


One of my favorite vegetables is lotus stem / kamal kakdi / bhee or nadru as it is called in Kashmir. Versatile and deliciously crisp and with a lovely pattern inside this rhizome can be used in curries, stir fry, kebabs, koftas, pickles, chips, honey glazed crisps, stews and much more. I have a recipe of Kashmiri Nadru Yakhini that you can try. Lotus stem is also very high in iron, calcium and dietary fibers.

The vegetable loses color very fast when peeled and cut so it is better to keep it in water. It also has a short shelf life so needs to be refrigerated. The tender fresh lotus stem oozes out a milky substance that’s the sign if freshness. Choose the creamy white, unblemished ones.

Nadru kebab or lotus stem kebabs are an exotic starter for the vegetarians. Many people think that vegetarian kebabs are an oxymoron but the vegetarian kebabs are as delicious as their cousins and are light on palate too.   So what if they do not come from the lamb shoulder (Gosht). If made correctly you can not tell the difference between a mutton shammi and a bhee shammi. That’s how delicious they are. It is amazing what all you can do with it.

So, let us get straight to the recipe:

Ingredients – 

Tender fresh Lotus stem – 3-4 small

Boiled Potato – 1 medium size

Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

Green chilies – 2-3, finely chopped

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp – finely cjhopped

Ghee – for shallow frying

Cloves – 4-5

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardamom – 3-4

Cinnamon stick – 1 inch

Bay leaves – 2

Black peppercorns –  6-8

Freshly ground pepper – 1/4 tsp

Kashmiri red chili powder – to taste

Garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Chaat masala – 1/4 tsp

Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Clove, nutmeg and mace powder 2-3 pinches

Fennel powder – 1/4 tsp

Onion -1 medium

Bread crumbs or Popped amaranth seeds – for coating (optional)

Sattu / roasted chana dal power – 2-3 tbsp or as required.

Steps :

Choose the lotus stem that is sealed from both end to avoid dirt inside. Prefer the tender ones as they will be less fibrous and easy to cook.

Wash, peel and cut the lotus stem in 2 inch cubes. In a pressure cooker add the cubes with all the whole spices and just enough water to cook. ( The bhee should be submerged). Give it 2-3 whistles. It should break easily but still be firm.

Meanwhile thinly slice the onions and fry them in a little ghee till they are crisp. It should be done on low flame to ensure even browning. Take them out and make a paste of these crisp onions on a silbatta or roughly grind. This is optional and you can add finely chopped raw onion to the mix or avoid it too. Browning of onion gives the kababs a nice taste.  1-2 tbsp of this paste is enough.

Drain the water and whole spices, cool and grate the lotus stem. Also grate/ mash the boiled potato.  Grating the lotus stem helps it retain the meat like texture.

In a large bowl, add the grated lotus stem, potato, green chili, chopped ginger, coriander greens,  onion ( chopped or browned paste) all the powdered spices, salt, sattu and mix properly. Adjust the spice threshold and the salt at this point.

Make walnut size balls and flatten them to make shammi kababs. Roll them on bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes or popped ramdana as I did. You can omit this step too. The coating makes the kebabs crisp.

Heat a non stick taw or  frying pan and add some ghee to it for shallow frying the kababs. Keep the flame to medium so that the kebabs get cooked properly from inside too.

Place one kabab to test that it retains the shape, if it does add a few more but DO NOT crowd the tawa as the ghee temperature will lower and the kebabs won’t fry properly.

If the kabab breaks, add a little more binding to the mixture.

Once the kababs turn nice  brown from one side, flip and let it brown from the other side as well.

Take them out on absorbent paper to remove excess ghee.

Serve these delicious nadru shami kababs with mint coriander green chutney, onion rings and lemon quarters.

Note :

Use ghee, it is the game changer. No compromise on this.

I usually add soaked chana dal to the  lotus stem while boiling and grind it on sil batta instead of using gram flour ( besan) or sattu. If you wish to make it with chana dal, soak 1/2 cup chana dal for 2-3 hours and then add to the lotus stem and whole spices while you pressure cook.  Once cooked, take it out and grind. You can also roast the dry dal and grind to a coarse powder and add. I like the taste of sattu but omit if using chana daal.

Onion is optional too. The kababs taste awesome without it too.

Some people blend the lotus stem mixture to a fine paste for kababs but I prefer them to be a little meaty. Grating is a better option in my opinion.

I don’t add too much potato, just enough to help in binding.

If you make these do let me know your experience.

bon appetit


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