Recipe – Easy Apple Halwa


Lockdown has forced me home and most travel plans stand cancelled but there is poetry, art and cooking to keep me grounded. Winter brings a variety of fruits and veggies to fall in love with. When someone bought orchard fresh apples from Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh I was excited to make a few things apart from munching on their sweet crispy goodness.

On days when everything gets a bit too overwhelming I begin to crave for something sweet yet healthy. Home cooked in a jiffy is my choice of instant desserts. This three ingredient apple halwa is so good I can’t tell you. Simple and easy to assemble. It doesn’t have khoya or milk in it so if you are lactos intolerant this is perfect for you. I love stewed apples so this is a star dish for small hungers. It also reminds me of those delish apple pie fillings I used to make at one time.

It I used both golden and red delicious apples in it. You may use whichever juicy apple you have. The sweeter the fruit lesser the added sugar. I prefer the flavour of the fruit to be the focus of the dish.

It is perfect as a Fasting dish too. Good way to get the kids eating fruits. I use minimal ghee and let me remind you it is a good fat so do not be afraid to use it.

Here is the recipe :

Ingredients :

Apples – 3 large

Sugar – 3 tbsp ( adjust according to the sweetness of fruit. I sometimes use jaggery or brown sugar too)

Ghee \ Clarified Butter – 2 tbsp

Cinnamon \ Nutneg – A pinch

( You can use a pinch or two of Green cardamom powder or apple pie spice mix too)

Slivers of almonds / Cashew as desired

Method :

Wash and pat dry the apples. Peel, core and grate them fine. I prefer this texture but you can give a spin in grinder too to make it bit smoother.

In a heavy bottom or non stick pan add warm ghee and slightly fry the cashews if using. Remove in a plate and keep aside.

Now add the grated or pureed apples to the warm ghee. Keep heat on medium.

Cook till all the juice from the apples evaporates. The mixture might splutter so be careful.

Add sugar and mix well. Continue to cook and stir occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Keep heat low medium.

The addition of sugar will make it liquidy again so keep cooking till water evaporates.

Stir in whichever spice mix you are using.

Here you need to be vigilant. Keep a watch on the texture. It shouldn’t be under cooked like a pudding or over cooked into thick mass. The moment is all comes together turn off the heat.

Add the chopped dry fruits and serve.

If you wish to turn it into squares of barfi you need to just cook a little more and then pour the mixture in a greased plate to set. Cut in desired shape to serve.

You can make the pumpkin halwa the same say. Just steam the grated pumpkin and follow the same steps. Use the deep orange ripe pumpkin for it.

You can mix the two ingredients too. It tastes yup.

This is a simple no fail fall recipe you can try this season. Give it try.

Kinnow And Orange Marmalade Recipe


 

I like bitter marmalade to the moon and back. Thick cut, medium cut or thin cut, I love it both ways but I am a little particular about the sweetness part. I like my marmalade slightly more bitter. Fans of marmalade are very touchy about how the marmalade should look, taste. Some like it a bit soft, runny while others may prefer a perfectly set, some juice the fruit others chop it and use the pulp with rind, some prefer large, juicy chunky pot of gold while some like the slivers of sun in there bottle. Every texture has a taker who loves this deliciousness. There are hundreds of methods and each is right. I am sharing mine with you though each marmalade recipe is sentimentally personal. Always read the full recipe before starting off to make.

I have made this one with Kinnow and oranges. Both are selling in abundance right now and the fruits are packed with pectin so no artificial pectin added to this recipe. The pips, pith and skin rich in natural pectin will do the job.

Kinnow is basically a hybrid variety of two kinds of citrus cultivars – King (Citrus nobilis) and Willow Leaf (Citrus x deliciosa).cultivated throughout Northern India and even in other citrus growing states.This popular and delicious fruit is considered as one of the healthiest because of its health benefits but those you can Google. Kinnow fruit is juicy and has thicker pulp than oranges and even the pith is thicker. I find them perfect for marmalade. Here I used a few oranges too but didn’t use their peel as it was bruised. Also a twist in taste came with a hint of ginger juice. It gives such a kick to the marmalade I can’t tell you.

Preparing marmalade is a labor of love. It is one of those erotic kitchen romances. If you detest long drawn processes of preparations and cooking then this recipe is not for you. There is a certain joy in peeling oranges, making those slivers of the peel, scooping out the pulp or cutting the fruit with juice dripping all over, the slow cooking and then basking in the bitter sweet aroma of the orange nectar that will fill your home.

Here’s how you will make that magic happen: (I missed two process pix here. (Deleted them by mistake so sorry about that)

Ingredients:

Kinnow – 3

Oranges – 2 large (Total fruit pulp was about 1/2 kg or 500 gm)

Sugar – 800 gm (adjustable)

Juice of lemon – 2 tablespoon

Ginger juice – 1/2 tbsp (optional)

Water – 1 liter approx

Method : 

Wash, wipe and peel the fruit. Always buy firm, ripe fruit that is not bruised.

With a sharp knife scrap the pith from the peels and keep aside. Do the same with the peeled fruit. Remove all the white pith and pips. Collect it in a muslin cloth and tie in tightly to make a pouch.

Now, shred the peel into the desired length and thickness. I sliced into thin it into thin slivers for this batch. Keep it aside and chop the fleshy fruit fine. Some people juice the fruit and discard the pulp or cut the oranges with the rind into moon like slices but my marmalade is not translucent when made it is voluptuous to say the least with a strong citrus flavor and thick texture. The juicing gives a pale clear jelly like texture which you usually see in marmalade.

Meanwhile place a small steel plate in the freezer for the sheet test.

Once you have the pouch, the slivers of peel, the fleshy pulp all ready take a medium size pan and put the slivers of rind in it. Add enough water to cover the rind and boil for ten minutes. Turn off the flame and discard the water. Do it one more time. This is to ensure the correct bitterness needed for the recipe. Also, the rind will soften a bit. Once the sugar is added the rind doesn’t soften. This is what I learned.

Now, in a large thick bottom pan add, fruit pulp, water, sugar, ginger and the lemon juice.  Place the tightly secured pouch containing pips and pith in the mixture. Lemon is needed as pectin needs acid to set in. The amount of sugar depends how you lie your before adding he r marmalade and how sweet the oranges are. mine were very sweet and I like bitter taste. Warming the sugar cuts down the frothing which you need to skim to avoid clouding the final product.  1:2 fruit sugar ratio works fine. I added a little less as I prefer more bitter taste. You can adjust.

Cook the mixture on medium heat to dissolve the sugar properly then turn up the heat and bring the mixture to rolling boil. Let it cook for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to medium – low to let the mixture simmer. Cook it for 40-50 minutes stirring every 5 minutes so that e mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan or overflows. Keep skimming the froth.

Never ever press the pouch with the ladle. Let it just sit in the boiling mixture for some more time then gently remove it.

Once the liquid reduces pay more attention. You need to stop the cooking process at the right time – too early and you get a runny marmalade, too late and you get a sticky mass that won’t spread.

Do the sheet test for checking. Drop a little marmalade on the chilled plate and see if it flows or shows signs of jellying. I prefer not to wait for that stage. I like when it slowly slides when the plate is tilted. Once cool it will set nicely.

If it is too runny cook a little more if it hardens then your best bet is to boil a little water and add it to marmalade and heat a bit more till you get right texture.

Once done turn off the heat and let it become warm from hot. Stir it to distribute the peels evenly. Ladle it in clean glass or ceramic jars and close the lid tightly. My jar has vacuum tight so perfect for storing it.

So, here we have gorgeous sunny marmalade that has the perfect bitter sweet rich taste. Spread it on your morning toast as a wake up call to a bright sunny happy day.

 

Tip- If you want a clear marmalade you need to squeeze the peeled oranges in a jug and use the discarded pulp in the pectin pouch along with pip and pith. Use this juice with, water and shredded peels to make the marmalade. I will try to make a small batch and put up the method in a few days. 

You can use other citrus fruit too. The ratio of sugar, fruit and water will differ accordingly.

Meethe Makhane | Jaggery Coated Fox Nuts & A Parfait


Phool makhana are one of my favorites. They are also known as lotus seeds or fox nuts. A versatile  sweet treat that is gluten free, low calorie, vegan and full of healthy nutrients. I have the savory version HERE  and a Kheer HERE.  These are very addictive but you can eat them free from all guilt. Add to vegetable curries, make desserts or munch on the savory snacks and if you have a sweet tooth like I do then make these gur ke makhane or jaggery coated makhana. These popped seeds are good to eat in fasting days too and provide instant energy. You can even give it to toddlers.

Popped Makhana is chewy but once nicely roasted it becomes crisp and nice.

 

One of the quickest snacks you can assemble. I won’t go into details of the benefits the two ingredients provide. Do Google it.

Here is how even a kid can make it in a jiffy.

Ingredients :

Fox Nuts | Makhana – 1 Cup

Organic or Chemical free Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery  – 1/4 Cup

Pure Ghee – 1 tbsp

Water – 1 tbsp

Cardamom | Til | Desiccated coconut – As per your choice ( I have not added anything here)

Steps – 

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add the popped Fox Nuts seeds. Roast them on low flame till they become crisp. Make sure to keep the flame low and do a finger test by breaking the makhana between two fingers. If done it will crumble nicely. If it doesn’t then roast a little more. Once roasted, take them out in a plate.

Toast the Til or desiccated coconut in the same pan if using and remove in a plate.

Add the jaggery powder with a tablespoon of water to the same pan and let it melt on low flame. Once the jaggery fully melts turn off the flame and add the roasted makhanas and the other ingredients if using. Stir to mix everything and let it cool in a large plate. Once the coated makhanas are cool enough to touch ( 5 minutes) separate them gently.

Store them in an airtight glass container and munch on these power snacks anytime.

You can caramelize the fox nuts with brown sugar or white sugar too but I prefer jaggery. Here I have used Organic jaggery from Monsoon Harvest Farms that was bought from Farmer Uncle . I mostly buy all my fruits and many of the other staples from them. Do take a look at their website.

The Parfait Story 

Now, I had never used caramelized makhana in a parfait.  Usually I just munch on them but this idea of substituting roasted beaten rice or Poha with fox nuts is by Sangeeta Khanna. I treasure her recipes and often look up for interesting combinations or tricks to make things better.

I make parfaits of all sorts with chilled home cultured curd. Adding, fruits, nuts, ramdana or popped amaranth seeds, roasted Poha or beaten rice flakes but this is by far the most delicious thing. The makhanas are a chewy swollen dumplings inside the smooth chilled home cultured curd. You can check the other Parfaits from the search bar but here is One of the recipes.

This is the first mango of the season. A little sour so it has given a unique flavor  the whole composition. The sweeter the fruit is the better. Eliminates the use of white sugar or any other sweetener. Just perfect for a quick breakfast.

Here’s how I made the Caramelized Fox Nuts and Mango Parfait.

Cube the best ripe mangoes (1-2) and chill. Whip and chill a cup full of homemade curd with a little honey or mango puree. I sometimes use hung curd too.

If you have the caramelized makhanas then you are ready to assemble but if you don’t then quickly caramelize them fist.

Now, take a glass and layer the curd, mango cubes and makhana till you reach the top.

Serve immediately.

I can’t tell you how delightful this tastes. Do try and let us know how it worked for you. You can caramelize a few makhanas in five minutes for this parfait so go for it.

Healthy One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream


I stumbled upon this one ingredient ice cream while making the Yogurt smoothies. I usually freeze the fruits in zip lock bags and realized that this could be eaten as a fruit based ice cream too. I wonder if ice cream is a right word for this dessert but WTH, it is amazingly delicious. 100 % natural frozen banana ice cream is a perfect Paleo, Vegan, zero dairy, zero added sweetener alternative. Rich and creamy this is a marvelous guilt free treat. Add your favorite toppings or mix-in to make it more healthy and tasty. Later I found that internet is buzzing with the various one ingredient ice creams including the one made from bananas.  So the idea isn’t original.

Ingredients : 

  • Ripe Bananas – 6 large (Sliced & Frozen)
  • Desired Topping -Honey / Peanut Butter / Molasses /Walnuts /Raisins/Nuts/Spices

Steps : 

  1. Choose Bananas with brown spots. The riper they are the creamier and sweeter your ice cream will be.
  2. Slice them into coins or 1 inch pieces if your processor is strong.
  3. Put them in a zip lock bag or airtight freezer safe container and freeze till completely frozen. Preferably overnight.
  4. To make the one ingredient ice cream take out the frozen bananas and put them in the blender jar. If your processor is not strong add one non frozen banana for smooth blending.
  5. Pulse the frozen bananas till they turn crumbly. Keep blending to break them down completely.
  6. Scrap the sides of the jar with a spatula and keep blending. you will get a goey mixture in some time.
  7. Have patience and blend till you see the blended bananas turn into creamy rich soft serve like texture. Keep scraping the jar so there are no pieces.
  8. Give a few more rounds of blending to incorporate some air in the mixture. This will make the ice cream smoother and thicker.
  9. Once done, you can eat this fabulous creamy ice cream as a soft serve immediately or scoop it out in an airtight freezer safe container to make it more firmer like the traditional ice cream.
  10. After 2-3 hours of freezing scoop out the delicious creamy ice cream in bowls and serve with your favorite toppings. I used honey and peanut butter,
  11. Enjoy this guilt free ice cream any time the craving strikes.

My Tip:1. Use very ripe bananas or at least those which have some brown spots. They don’t look good but give a perfect sweet smooth ice cream. 2. Toppings are endless for this rich ice cream. Be creative. 3. You can add flavors of your choice to the basic ice cream and make it 2-3 ingredient ice cream if you wish. Add fruits, nut butters, condense milk, coconut cream, soy milk or anything that fancies you. I love it as it is.

Two Delicious Preserves With Apricots And Plums


Exif_JPEG_420

 

After almost ten days of  being sick and stressed I finally managed to pick myself up and get going. Nothing is more therapeutic than cooking/backing something and as summer fruits are in abundance I picked up two of my favorites to indulge in and make preserves.  I find the market products too sweet. I love my preserves a little tart and flavorful. So I picked up fruits which were firm and tart and yet had those delicate flavours.  Some people may find a boiling pot of sugar and fruits a little too much on a hot summer noon but the aroma and the colors of summer captured in a nicely bottled preserve can cheer you up any time.

I have a weakness for apricots and once they cook, the luscious fruit tuns the color of golden summer sun and tastes fantastic. A little hard, a little bruised apricots would do too for this recipe. They need not be perfect. I use a mix of firm and soft ripe fruit to bring out the sweet and tangy flavours.

As for plums , I decided to do a cross between jam and preserve and kept the skin on the fruits. Again picked up some firm and soft mix fruit as I prefer the tart flavour. Discarded the pits for both fruits though some people crack them open and use the kernel. I don’t.

Washed fresh Apricots and Plums

Washed fresh Apricots and Plums

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Recipe for Apricot Preserve :

 

Ingredients :

1/2 Kg – Apricots

1 Cup Granulated Sugar (depends on sweetness of the fruits and your liking)

1/2 Cup Water

Juice of lemon – Two table-spoon

Method :

Wash the fruit carefully and rip it open in two halves. Discard the stone.

Take a bowl and place the halves in it.

Add the sugar and mix it well so that it coats the fruit completely .

Keep it covered for an hour or till the sugar dissolve a bit.

Keep a heavy bottom pan on medium flame and add the fruit mixture to it.

Add a little water to cover the fruit and bring it to boil.

Let it boil for one minute on high flame .

Keep stirring so that the mixture doesn’t burn.

Lower the flame and remove any froth or scum that forms on the top.

When the fruit starts to fall apart add juice of lemon.

Keep stirring till the mixture thickens.

Take a set test – Chill a plate in the freezer. Once you think the mixture is thick enough for the preserve consistency drop a teaspoonful on the chilled plate and place it back in the freezer. After a few minutes take it out and check , if a crinkly skin forms on THE preserve when pushed it is done otherwise boil it for another five minutes and text again.

Once done, let it cool to room temperature and then fill it in the jar. Make sure to stir it so that no air gaps are formed.
Seal it when still warm and label it when cooled.

Enjoy this delicious preserve on bagels, toasts, biscuits, parfait or just lick it from the spoon. 🙂

Plum and Apricot Preserve

Plum and Apricot Preserve

Plum Preserve Recipe :

Ingredients :

1/2 Kg Red Plums

1 Cup Granulated Sugar ( according to the sweetness of fruit and your liking)

Lemon zest – 1/2 teaspoon

Lemon Juice – 1 Table spoon

Cinnamon – 1/4 inch stick

Water – 1/2 cup ( just enough to cover the fruit)

Method :

Wash and wipe the plums.
Split them in halves and discard the stone.
Keep the skin on.
In a deep bowl layer fruit and sugar so that the plums are entirely covered.
Keep the fruit for an hour or till the sugar dissolves a bit.
Take a heavy bottom pan and pour the content into the pan along with cinnamon stick and lemon zest.
Stir it on medium flame and bring it to boil.
Let it boil on high flame for a minute or two. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
Lower the flame and let it simmer.
When the fruit softens a bit add lemon juice and remove any scum that forms on the top.
Let the mixture thicken and then do the set test as described in previous recipe.
Once the preserve sets to the right consistency remove it from heat and let it cool at room temperature.
Remove the cinnamon stick and bottle it while still warm.
Label when cool.

Use it on toasts, bagels, biscuits, parfait or in any way you like.

Hope you like these simple recipes. Do let me know your experience  if you make them.

Chunky Sweet and Tangy Nectarine Compote


?????????????

 

On my recent visit to Shimla I picked up boxes of seasonal produce like Nectarines, Cherries, Apricots etc. The fruits got devoured in no time but I managed to save a box of Nectarines to make a chunky compote and a fruit filled vanilla sponge cake.

Sweet and delicious, Nectarines are low cal and packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

Enjoy this simple recipe of chunky Nectarine Compote with grilled chicken / fish, as a fruit spread on toasts or just spooned over plain yogurt or ice cream.

Nectarine Compote 

Nectarine Compote

Ingredients 

2 Cup coarsely chopped Nectarines

1 tablespoon Honey (Less honey will keep the sweet n sour flavor of fruit intact)

1 teaspoon Salted Butter

Flavor combinations 

Lemon zests (1/2 a teaspoon)

1/2 inch Cinnamon stick

1-2 cloves

or

1-2 All Spice Berries

1 Star Anise

2-3 Black Peppercorns

1/2 inch Grated Ginger

Method :

Take ripe Nectarines that yields to the slight pressure when touched.  Prefer firm fruits which are not bruised and have reddish-orange background.

Wash and chop them coarsely. (remove the stone but don’t peel the skin)

In a thick saucepan add the salted butter and melt it on low flame till it bubbles. (watch out that it doesn’t turn brown)

Now mix the spices, fruit, honey and add to the pan.

Add enough water to cover the fruit.

Cook the mixture over medium high flame.

Stir occasionally

Cook till the fruit is soft

Once the fruit is soft remove the saucepan from heat and let it come to room temperature.

 Transfer to a glass jar or a bowl.

Keep it air tight once it cools completely.

You can keep it in fridge for at lease two weeks.

?????????????

psst.. I added two tablespoons of plum wine to the ready mixture at the end and stirred it in gently.  Lip Smacking .. 😀

TIPS

 You can use all the  seasonal stone-fruits  like peaches, plum, nectarines for this compote  to make it more flavorful.

For some more fun you can add Bourbon instead of water or even a little Brandy. Get creative and serve it chilled.