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.

 

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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.

 

Recipe – Sweet Potato | Shakarkandi Halwa


Shakarkand or Sweet Potatos are in season and I am including them in my daily meals in one way or the other. Mostly I love to just roast or boil them to eat as chaat but sometimes I indulge in a dessert like shakarkand ka halwa or shakarkand ke gulab jamun. This is my first sweet potato halwa of the season. Sangeeta Khanna of Healthfood Desi Videshi has some interesting salads and other recipes with sweet potato that I plan to try. Sweet potatoes are very healthy and can be used instead of white potatoes. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The Indian sweet potato has a nice pink skin and a yellowish white flesh inside.

Frankly I had no idea how creative one can in cooking with them. The tuber is so varsetile that it can be used for soups, salads, cassroles, chips, stir fries, and desserts of all kinds. It can be baked, roasted, boiled or used raw as per the need and taste. The leaves of the sweet potato are also edible. I mean the list is endless. one is just spoilt for choices.

Shakarkand ka halwa is a winter speciality. This sweet tuber is a favorite with people who are fasting and is part of the diwali faraal. Delicate sweetness of boiled mashed sweet potatoes, just the right amount of sugar flavoured with green cardamom gives it a unique taste. I don’t use milk in in the recipe but some people do.

Ingredients for the halwa : 

Sweet Potatoes – 2-3 Medium size (1 cup boiled/mashed)

Sugar – (depends on the sweetness of sweet potato so add accordingly)

Ghee –  3-4 tablespoon

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Almonds or Cashewnuts for garnish

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Method –

Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Wash them clean and boil till they become soft. You can steam, microwave or pressurecook them too.

Once they are tender, take them out in a plate and peel.

Mash and keep aside.

In a heavy bottom pan heat ghee (clarified butter) or oil. ( I prefer ghee).

Add mashed sweet potatoes to the hot ghee and stir.

Let it cook on low-medium heat till the rawness is gone and a nice aroma begins to float from it. Add cardamom powder and saute some more. I saute it till it gives a slightly toasted aroma.

At this point stir in the sugar. Do taste the shakarkand to adjust the sugar. Mix well.

Now, cook it till it becomes nice golden brown.

Keep stiring so it doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the halwa gets a nice colour add shredded blanched almonds or roasted crushed cashewnuts. I find almonds taste better than cashewnuts. It is a personal preferance.

Take it off the heat and serve hot garnished with more nuts. You can sprinkle some cardamom powder on top.

Tell me how do you use Sweet potatoes?

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. 🙂

Semolina Pudding (Halwa/Sheera) with Saffron and Fresh Grated Coconut


I have a sweet tooth and fortunately I have no issues with either ghee or sugar so my preferred desserts are mainly Indian sweets. Every region has its own specialty and a distinct way of preparing the sweets.  Sweets were offered to the deities and were part of every auspicious occasion in Indian households. No meal is considered complete without a sweet dish. Mostly the sweets are made keeping in mind the local ingredients, climatic conditions, geography and cultural heritage.

Indian sweets are mainly f two kinds – milk based and flour based. No where in the world one would find such richness of textures, flavours, colors and shapes  in desserts as in India. Many of these recipes originated centuries ago and a lot of them have slowly disappeared from the home kitchens and markets due to the  time-consuming and tedious process of preparing them. Many sweets were just limited to homes and were cooked on special occasions, festivals only. These irresistible delicacies evolved and influenced by other cuisines over the time but they have not lost their original identity, in fact they have become richer and suited to the palate of modern health conscious people.

Some of the desserts like kheer, laddoo and halwa (pudding), barfi  are popular across North India and prepared more than other sweets.  Some variations of these are also used as Prasadam in various temples and in religeous ceremonies at home.

I love Carrot Halwa, Moong daal halwa  and whole wheat halwa but sooji halwa is something one can make in jiffy on any given day when the craving becomes too much to handle. 😀

Sooji or semlina halwa is one of the most popular desserts in India and there are many variations to the dish. This moist “spiritually infused” comfort food is loved by almost everyone. It looks very easy to make but can go wrong drastically if not made with care. Many new brides are told to make it as their first preparation in the kitchen to judge their culinary skills :D.

Here is my recipe of Sooji halwa with saffron and fresh grated coconut.

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Ingredients :

Sooji / rava or Semolina – I cup (I use the coarse variety not the fine one)

Sugar – 1 cup ( according to the taste)

Grated Fresh Coconut – 1/2 cup

Milk – 2 table-spoon

water – 3 cups

saffron – few strands

Nuts and Raisins – per choice

Green cardamom – 2-3

Clarified butter / Pure ghee – three table Spoon full

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Method :

Warm the milk and add saffron strands to it. Mix well and leave to get the color and flavor.

Dry roast semolina on low flame till pink . (Always slightly roast semolina before putting in away in air light containers. It won’t go bad)

Dry roast fresh grated coconut on low heat till it changes color slightly .

Soak the raisins , almonds etc in some water , drain and keep aside.

Now take a heavy bottom wok or pan and put the clarified butter / ghee in it. Heat the pan on high flame and then lower the flame.

Add sooji /semolina in it and keep stirring till it becomes slightly golden-yellow. Then add grated coconut and green cardamom to it.

Stir the mixture on very low heat till you can get the aroma of the roasted ingredients and make sure not to brown them too much.  Tip: Use wooden spoon or a spatula.

Once done add water and stir quickly so that there are no lumps. Keep it on medium flame.

Add saffron milk and stir. Lower the flame again.

The mixture will bubble and thicken.

Once all the water is absorbed add sugar. (Some people make sugar syrup but I prefer it this way. Adding sugar after the mixture has absorbed ware will ensure that the semolina has properly soaked the moisture and puffed properly. Once sugar is added the process stops)

Gently turn the mixture so that it gets cooked properly . Add raisins and nuts.

Once the halwa gets a nice pudding like grainy texture and leaves the sides. Make sure it doesn’t become too dry or too sticky. Keep heat low.

Making it a few times will get the right texture. After all it is an art. 🙂 Just follow the simple rules of heat adjustments and measurements. Water should be thrice the amount of sooji. 1 cup sooji – 3 cup water. Keep the heat on lower side. Give it some love and patience. There are no short cuts to good cooking. Roast sooji properly or the raw taste will ruin the halwa but do not brown it too much. Keep trying  and you will succeed. I too had my share of horrors when I learned it as a girl. 😀

Turn off the heat and stir & break the pudding in such a way that it doesn’t form a large mass. Take it out in a serving dish.

Garnish with nuts and serve hot.

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As we say in Hindustani ” meetha khao meetha bolo” ( Eat sweet and speak sweet )

Recipe – Traditional Carrot Halwa


I am a sucker for seasonal produce and ruby red carrots flood the vegetable markets during winter. Sweet and full of healthy nutrients these carrots are not just good as raw salad can also used for making Carrot Pickle ( my recipe)  ,  carrot cake , carrot halwa, carrot barfi , carrot preserve (murraba) / paysam and can be cooked and mixed in variety of way in vegetables/ stews / soups/ pulao / vegetable biryani/ avial etc. I recently had carrot parathas with home made butter and trust me they were out of the world. Do you know how beneficial is the juice of carrots? find out  in my post Carrot Juice Benefits .

Carrot halwa is one of the favorite sweet dishes all across Northern India and is made in variety of ways these days. This Indian Carrot pudding is one of the main sweet dishes on any festival, wedding or other celebrations. With Khoya ( similar to ricotta cheese but lower in moisture and made with milk instead of whey) , condense milk, sugar-free and easy microwave carrot halwa are also popular these days. but

All Indian desserts are time-consuming labor of love. All across the plains of North India you will find pipping hot carrot halwa and hot gulab jamun in every sweet shop all through winter. Most of these shops use khoya which makes the halwa richer. I prefer to make it traditionally in full cream milk over slow fire and the result is a gorgeous deep red aromatic halwa with  a divine taste of thickened milk. Making halwa in milk also helps it carrots to retain their flavor which is usually masked when khoya is used.

The traditional carrot halwa is definitely is not a dish for dieters.  Rich in Vitamin A, proteins, carbohydrates and fat it is  nutritious and filling winter dessert.

I make two types of carrot halwa – one with red carrots and the other with black( deep purple carrots which are usually not used for halwa).

Black Carrot Halwa

Black Carrot Halwa

Today I want to share recipe for Red carrot Halwa  or gajar ka halwa perfected over the years in my kitchen.  This halwa can be kept in an air tight container in fridge for more than a month.

Ingredients :

Red Carrots – 1 Kg

Full Cream Milk – 1 Kg

Ghee ( Clarified Butter) – 1/2 cup

Mixture of dry fruits – I cup ( raisins, blanched shredded almonds, broken cashew nuts etc. )

Green Cardamom – 6

Sugar –  1 cup ( according to taste) ( the amount of  sugar depends on sweetness of the carrot too)

Method: 

Choose medium size thin red carrots. These will have thinner yellow middle part which we discard while grating for halwa .

Wash, peel and grate them from the larger side of grater so they retain their texture after cooking.

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Take a heavy bottom pan or wok and place in on medium flame.

Heat full cream milk and add grated carrots to it when milk begins to simmer.

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Let it simmer on low flame after first boil. Keep stirring in between so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Let it cook till all the milk gets evaporated.

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Once the milk dried up add sugar and mix properly. Keep the flame on medium and keep stirring as at this point the mixture will have tendency to stick to bottom.

The sugar will make the mixture lose water so turn the flame to low and let the water evaporate. The mixture will also get  a gorgeous deep color and aroma by this time.

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Now that the mixture is almost dry and has started leaving the sides add ghee ( clarified butter).

Keep stirring it till the mixture is nicely roasted It will have a deep red color by now and will smell heavenly of thick milk, sugar and carrot.

Once the ghee leaves the sides and the mixture gets a crispy yet moist texture add crushed cardamoms and slowly the magical fragrance of the spice will begin to blend in with the sweetness of the dish.

Some people stir fry the nuts before adding but I add them in their natural form. Raisins should be soaked for a while before adding.

Turn off the flame and remove the dessert in a serving plate or bowl. Carrot halwa is meant to be eaten hot. Sometimes just for a change I put a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The hot and cold of these two favorites is a great combination.

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Enjoy one of the finest and most loved Indian desserts. Try it in your kitchen and share it with loved ones. Do let me know if you relished this winter treat.

Bon Appetit