Nolen Gurer Sondesh – My Sweet Story


 

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I have some fond memories of going to the Annapurna Bhandar opposite Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara in Chandni Chowk as a little girl. Only a promise of chumchum and nolen gurer sondesh or jalbhara sondesh would make me take the trip with mom. Later as I grew up I would often visit the lanes of old city and feast on the sounds and colors the place offered. Food of course was one of the attractions but whatever I may eat there was always some place for these two favorites.

My next project Nolen gurer jalbhara kara pak sondesh from Annapurna Sweets. Center filled with fresh date palm jaggery. One of the things I can’t stay without. Just the right sweetness, delicate taste, melt in the mouth goodness in every bite. A must have for all the sweet connoisseurs.

 

I would watch my dad in fascination as he made the softest melt in the mouth sondesh once in a while as a treat to me. There aren’t many good memories I associate with my growing up years but this is one of the few that ever were.

I learned to make the plain sondesh but never got the same texture or taste as dad’s or those bought from Annapurna. I seemed to be doing everything right but something was still missing.

Few days ago I decided to make the pressure cooker rosogullas and that is another sweet which has been a bit of a challenge for me. So, I decided to do some research. As usual my first stop for all food related issues is Sangeeta Khanna’s blogs. I found an old post on How to make Rasullas step by step and while I read I realized what exactly was wrong in my approach.

It was the technique of making Chenna /chana/ that was causing the issue. I always feel that cooking is a science and once you master that you can be as creative as you want.

I made chena/ Indian cottage cheese as per Sangeeta’s instructions and nailed it this time. The chenna was perfect, the rasgullas soft and spongy as they should be ( will post recipe soon) and then I couldn’t stop myself to make the fabled Nolen gurer sondesh.

A friend had given me some date palm jaggery and I had a little left of it.  Though sondesh is best made with cow’s milk I opted for full cream toned Mother Dairy milk.

Here is the link to Sangeeta’s recipe but I will post the steps anyway.

I prefer fresh Nolen gur, ‘Notun Gur’ or ‘Khejur Gur’  or date palm jaggery over the sugarcane one for its unique flavor, fragrance and texture. It is available only in winter and has many health benefits. It helped in raising my HB during the treatment of anemia. It is rich in magnesium as well. Google more. 😀

 

How to Nolen Gurer Sondesh 

Here is how I made the perfect cottage cheese / chenna/ chana at home. The important thing to keep in mind while making Bengali mithai is – Fresh homemade cottage cheese or chenna otherwise the sweets won’t come out well.

 

To make perfect chenna :

Ingredients : 

Full fat milk / Cow’s milk – 4 Cups

Juice of lemon – 1 lemon  or 1/4 cup curd (home cultured preferably or 1/4 cup white vinegar

Steps – 

  1. Heat a pan of water and keep aside. Keep a sieve over a large pan ready.
  2. Slightly wet a thick bottom pot, add milk and heat till the first boil comes. (slight variation from Sangeeta). Turn off the heat.
  3.  Start adding the lemon juice mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Do it slowly and keep stirring. The milk needs to curdle slowly after each addition. I added in four steps till the greenish, transparent whey separated from the cheese.  If it doesn’t then reheat the milk and it will in a few minutes. Don’t stir too much or the chnna will become hard.
  4. Once the whey is separated nicely strain the whey through the steel sieve. Here I learned that the good cheese or chenna will stick to the spoon which is indicative that it will be a cohesive mass ideal for the sweet making.
  5. Toss the chenna/cottage cheese into the center.
  6. immediately dunk it in the hot water ( this is where I went wrong earlier. I was using the cold water method.)
  7. Rinse the cheese properly by pressing it to the side of the bowl a few times. The water may turn milky which is good.
  8. Now, put it back in the sieve and remove the excess water by lightly pressing. No need to press hard. A little moisture will give you a better sondesh or it will turn dry and crumbly.
  9. Once all the water is drained, take in out in a large plate and rub and knead with the heals of your palm till you get a smooth, lump free 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.
  10. Now your chenna is ready for making sondesh or rasgullas. Use as you desire.

 

To make Nolen Gurer Sondesh 

Ingredients :

Chenna we just prepared

Date palm jaggery – 1 cup grated and softened ( I did it in microwave)

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp ( optional)

A few raisins – Optional

Warm ghee ( I used homemade) – 1 tsp

Steps :  

  1. Once you have the smooth chenna dough add softened jaggery to it. Rub again with the heals of your palm till you get a homogenous mixture and the jaggery is well absorbed.
  2. Heat a non stick pan on low flame and  add the mixture to it. Cook it for 4-5 minutes not more.
  3. Take it out in a large plate and let it cool completely. You can cover it with damp cloth and keep in fridge for half and hour or so.
  4. Once cooled break it with fingers, add atsp of warm ghee and knead it again with heals of your palm to bring it all together nicely. Add cardamom powder if using and mix.
  5. Now make small balls of the chenna and decorate with a raisin. If you have molds then use them to shape the sondesh.
  6. You can make them when the chenna is slightly warm too. It will take some time for them to hold the shape.
  7. I love the slightly grainy texture of the sondesh but you can make them smooth too. It depends on your taste and the quality of your cottage cheese.
  8. Serve them at room temperature.

 

Note –

Mine were norom pak sondesh which are melt in the mouth. The other ones are kora pak sondesh which are a bit harder.

You can use sugarcane jaggery too instead of the date palm jaggery.

If you do not heat the mixture and make the sondesh directly they will be known as Kancha Golla. They too taste delicious but I prefer the cooked version.

 

Do try and let me know the results. Making any dish is a labor of love so do not rush through the steps. Getting the perfect chenna is the tough step then it is a cakewalk.

 

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Power Packed Dry Fruit And Sattu (Roasted Chickpea Flour) Ladoo (No Cooking)


Easy, nutritious bite size gluten free ladoos that can be made in less than 15 minutes. There is no added sweetener and you can omit the ghee in case you want to make it totally guilt free. Though I must tell you that ghee or clarified butter is good for health if used in moderation.

I already have one more sattu laddoo recipe on my blog. Those are the plain ones. You can check them by clicking on the link. Chana Sattu Laddoo  This post also has the recipe to make sattu at home.

Sattu  is the cheapest source of protein you can get. You can make it from bhuna chana or roasted chickpeas that are easily available in the market. Once you grind them and make it into flour it doesn’t need any roasting or cooking for using in any of the dishes. It has low Glycemic Index and high fiber content and is one of the highest sources of vegetarian proteins that is easily digestible and also of calcium and magnesium. It provides iron too.

I have some recipes with sattu in my blog which you can explore later.  Read all about it in the post link posted above.

I have used popped amaranth in these laddoos. You can see another recipe here –

Popped amaranth dry fruit Laddoo  

Popped amaranth contains a whooping  9 gm of complete protein in one cup. Much more than the much touted quinoa.

Enjoy this as a post or pre-workout snack. Pack it in tiffin box for kids or eat whenever small hunger strikes.

Actually I wanted to make the dry fruit laddu minus these two ingredients and then I got greedy and added them too to make this a combo power ball of nutrition.

There are no strict measurements but still I will give you an approximate idea.

Ingredients :

Fresh homemade Chana Sattu – 100 gm

Pitted dates – 10

Dried figs – 6-8

Mixed nuts ( soaked, roasted and chopped fine) – 1/2 cup

Mixed seeds  ( soaked & roasted) – 4 tablespoon

Raisins – 10-15

Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Ghee (warmed) – 1 tbsp ( optional)

Steps :

Gather all the ingredients in one place.

For just the dry fruit laddoo,  blend dates and figs coarsely in a mixer then remove it in a plate. Pulse the chopped dry fruits, raisins, seeds coarsely. ( if you chop very fine then omit this step)

In a large bowl mix the date and fig mixture with the chopped nuts and seeds mixture. Rub in with your fingers so that both the mixtures get properly incorporated. Now make small bite size balls and store in an airtight container. If you heat the dates/figs then the shelf life is more.

To make the ladoo / laddu with sattu :

Coarsely pulse the chopped dates and figs in a blender.

In a large bowl take sattu, add the dates/figs mixture and the finely chopped or coarsely ground nuts/seeds mixture, popped amaranth and warm ghee ( if using).

Now rub in with your fingers so that the the entire mixture resembles a crumble. Keep mixing with fingers  till it starts looking like a dough.

Now, make bite size balls or ladoos with it.

Store in an airtight container.

Note –  It is totally up to you to soak the seeds or nuts. I soaked them for 6 hours and then let them dry overnight. Roasted them very lightly before mixing for ladoo. I didn’t soak the dates and figs.

Moisture will reduce the shelf life so you take a call on this. If the dates / figs are very dry you can microwave them in a safe dish for a minute or two.

The sweetness of the ladoos will depend on the amount and quality of dates/figs you have used. Once the mixture is ready and you find it less sweet for your taste then add a little honey. I prefer to keep it low in sweetness.

I used almonds, pistachio, cashew, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, organic popped amaranth seeds for this recipe.  You can use whatever combination you desire.

Slightly roasted grated dry coconut can also be added.

You can change the proportions according to the number of ladoos you wish to make.

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.

 

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?

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. 

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. 🙂

Making Gram Flour and Fresh Coconut Fudge ( Besan Nariyal Barfi)


I love Indian sweets and besan laddoo and barfi  are my favorites. If you love the aroma of roasted gram flour and the divine taste of fresh coconut you will love this barfi. It is simple to make and can be stored for a longtime.  Gram flour and Coconut are both healthy ingredients and the recipe doesn’t use much fat. I like my barfi and laddoos to be a little crumbly but not dry.

To make the Barfi you will need :

Coarse gram flour – 1 cup ( the fine variety isnt good for the sweets. Corse one gives a good grainy texture)

Fresh desiccated coconut or coconut powder – 1 cup

Green cardamom – 4 (peeled and seeds grounded fine)

Raisins – 1/4 cup

Boora Cheeni –  3/4 to 1 Cup  ( I like to use Boora Cheeni for its texture and flavour. You can use granulated or powdered sugar too)

Almonds – shredded for garnish (optional)

Ghee (Clarified Butter) –  Approx 6 table spoons

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Method

First grate the fresh coconut ( if using it) and keep aside. Take the coarsely ground gram flour and dry roast till  slight brown. Slow heat is recommended. Add cardamom powder at this time. ( If you don’t have coarse variety then add two tablespoon of roasted semolina)

Once done take it out in a bowl and keep aside. Now dry roast the coconut very carefully till it changes color to slightly brown. Remove in a bowl.

Take the ghee and pour it in a non stick pan. When it heats up a little fold in the gram flour and keep stirring till a nice roasted aroma begins to fill the air.

Add the coconut to it at this point and keep stirring . Keep it on very low heat to avoid burning.

Once the mixture is smoothly browned ( I like it slightly darker and roasted well) add sugar. ( You can make syrup and add but not with boora cheeni. I never use sugar syrup and I don’t like to add water to the mixture)

Stir in the sugar, breaking all the lumps in the process.

Turn off the heat, add the raisins and pour the mixture in a greased square plate ( I didn’t have it so used a round one) . You can line the plate with greased aluminium foil like I did.

Let it set for an hour or till it becomes firm to cut.

Cut it in whichever shape you wish and store in an air tight box.

You can garnish the barfi with pistachios or shredded almonds. (I prefer not to garnish. It masks the heavenly flavour of the barfi IMO)

Enjoy!

Recipe – Traditional Rawa Besan Laddoos


Over the years I have learned that the best way to dissolve any emotional strain is to cook or bake. It is therapeutic and helps remove all negativity. You can call it culinary therapy. Any activity that involves complete attention reduces stress considerably. I think it is also the aromas, the colors, touch, visual delights and a sense of creating something that lifts the mood instantly.  It is also a  very good remedy to heal a  broken heart. :p

Making Indian sweets is like making love. There are no shortcuts, no quickies. You need to sweat it out in the kitchen, let it unfold at its own pace. Laddoo making is a messy affair so be ready for sticky hands. 😀

I always associate laddoos with besan and barfi with khoya. I have a weakness for besan laddoos though I do make different kind of laddos especially during winters. Besan laddoos are usually an integral part of religious ceremonies, festivals and celebrations , the other being boondi or motichoor ke laddoo.

Mostly laddoos are made with flour, sugar, ghee (clarified butter) and garnished with dry fruits. Some are even made with resin and seeds like fenugreek. Usually they are for medicinal use.

So, coming back to my favorite besan laddoos, I add a little amount of semolina or rawa ( suji) to the mixture to give it a good granular texture.

I also dry roast both the ingredients to reduce the use of ghee. Less ghee makes it healthy and less sticky and everyone can have them. Bite size laddoos make a good filler anytime of the day.  Normally people use powdered sugar or sugar syrup but I use Boora cheeni. it tastes better.

The recipe is easy to follow so do try it .

 

To make besan rawa laddos you need :

Besan ( gram flour) – 1/2 kg

Rawa / Semolina – 150 gm

Boora cheeni or powdered sugar – 200 gms ( I prefer less sugar  otherwise it masks the roasted taste of besan)

Ghee or clarified butter – 100 grams ( just enough to bind the mixture)

Green cardamom powder – 1 Teaspoon

Raisins and almonds – a handful . ( almonds soaked, skinned and cut into little pieces) (optional)

 

Method:

In a heavy bottom pan or wok dry roast semolina and besan separately till a nice aroma starts coming and the color is slightly brown. Keep the flame low as both tend to burn very easily.

Take them out in a plate. This process will reduce the amount of ghee which essentially is used to roast Besan.

Now pour the ghee in the pan and once it is warm add besan first and mix well breaking the lumps. The crumbly texture will soon turn smooth . When there is a distinct aroma of roasted besan and the color is golden brown add suji and mix. This will make the laddoos grainy and they taste very good.

Add boora cheeni at this point of time and the green cardamom powder. Mix well. Keep the flame very low and stir properly so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom. We are using less ghee so one needs to be a bit careful.

Take it off the flame and let it come to room temperature. You can transfer the mixture to a thali or bowl so that it cools faster.

Add the dry fruits (optional) and mix. Now, take small amount of mixture and make  bite size balls. They may tend to break so it will take some time for the beginners to get the hang of it.

 

 

 

Keep making the laddoos and make sure there are no sugar lumps and the dry fruits are equally distributed. I like my laddos a bit more roasted and with less sugar so that the taste of the two main ingredients stays intact.

Once all the laddos are made place them in an air tight box.

Now you can lick away all the remaining mixture sticking to your hands or plate 😀

I never taste when I making laddoos or any other sweets. Mostly it was the boys who did the job. If the laddoos kept disappearing from the plate it meant all is well.  I miss them a lot. Simple pleasure of cooking together. Love is the secret ingredient that makes them so delicious.

 

Serve when cool.

Hope you enjoy making these. Let me know your experience and suggestions.

Have a sweet weekend.

Diwali Special – Roasted Whole Wheat And Green Gram (Moong) Ladoos


No Indian festival is complete without sweets. There is a tradition to make special sweets for each festival but on Diwali one can indulge in a whole variety of them. Winter is time for healthy ladoos made from either whole wheat or gram flour. There are many varieties to make Whole wheat flour (atta) ladoos. I prefer to make them as healthy as possible with just enough clarified butter (pure ghee) to hold everything together so people of all ages can enjoy it. One can use shakkar, boora cheeni or khandsari to make these. I prefer boora cheeni because it is less sweet than normal granular sugar and healthier too.

These ladoos can be stored in air tight box for a long time and can be eaten everyday. The dry fruits and the goodness of green gram adds to the flavor of these balls of good nutrition. Green Gram is low fat protein, high fiber, low Gly-Cemic bean which helps in stabilizing sugar in blood stream. It is also a rich source of iron, vitamin B6/ B1, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin C and E and also calcium which makes it a super food. One can give these to children as snacks everyday.

Now, for the recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup whole green gram beans

1/2 cup mixed dry fruits ( raisins, shredded walnut, blanched and shredded almonds)

Clarified butter 9 pure ghee) – enough to hold everything together ( usually 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup (according to taste) Boora cheeni or powder sugar or castor sugar

1 tea spoon cardamom powder

Method :

In a heavy bottom cast iron wok dry roast the moong beans till slightly golden brown. Keep the flame very low.

Grind the roasted beans very fine in a grinder. (I used the grinding stone)

Keep the dry fruit mixture , boora cheeni and ground moong beans ready.

Now put the wok back on low flame and add whole wheat flour to it. Dry roast it slowly. This is a tedious job and one needs to constantly keep stirring the flour especially in the middle or else it will start burning. Always keep the flame very low. Roasting atta is like a sensuous passionate love making. No Indian sweet can be made without complete devotion and love. These are the ingredients which make them so mouth watering. Once the aroma of roasted atta begins to fill your senses and the color is nice and brown add the ground moong bean powder to it. Roast a little more till you get a warm light brown color.

Atta is always dry roasted unlike gram flour.

Once the wheat flour is done, remove from heat and quickly add boora cheeni. It will begin to stick to the wok so keep stirring constantly and make sure there are no lumps. Add clarified butter (pure ghee) at this stage and keep mixing.

After the mixture is nicely done add the dry fruits.

One has to make the ladoos when the mixture is warm otherwise it will start solidifying.  Make medium size balls by rolling them in your palm. Make sure there are no cracks and the balls are smooth. put a raisin on top as garnish. Place all ladoos in a thali / plate and let them cool.

Enjoy these wonderful nutritious low fat ladoos and store the rest of them in air tight box.

Have a wonderful healthy happy Deepawali. Stay blessed.

Recipe – Lauki Ki Barfi ( Bottle Gourd Fudge )


In Indian Ayurvedic medical system Bottle Gourd/ doodhi/ lauki holds a special place due to its health benefits. This is a recipe perfected by me over the years. Traditional Indian sweets require a lot of love and patience. They are time consuming but the end result is delicious. I usually avoid using Khoa which is base for many Indian sweets. I prefer to use full cream milk and reduce it on slow flame to get the same texture and the taste is much better than khoa.

Bottle Gourd is used for making kheer, halwa and barfi and here we will learn to make Bottle gourd barfi or fudge.

Ingredients :

Bottle Gourd – 2 cup grated.  Choose fresh lime green bottle gourd with a round bottom and no blemishes.

Sugar- 200 grams

Milk- 1 liter

Green cardamon powder –  1teaspoon

Almonds- Blanched and finely chopped 1/4 cup

Clarified Butter – 1/3 cup

Method :

Wash peel and grate the bottle gourd. Keep aside. Some people remove the pulp and seeds but I keep it all. One needs to take tender bottle gourd.

Heat full cream milk. Add the grated bottle gourd to it. I don’t fry the vegetable before adding milk. I feel all the juices should remain in the dish.

Keep the heavy bottom pan full of milk and bottle gourd mixture on low flame and let it simmer till the milk completely evaporates.

Add the clarified butter and keep the flame on medium. Keep stirring to avoid burning.

Let the mixture leave  sides and turn a beautiful golden brown.

A this point add sugar. I usually add sugar at later stage.

Dry up the water content after adding sugar.

Stir it till it gets a nice shade of brown.

Add almonds and remove from heat. Add cardamon powder. This should always be added in the end.

Grease a high edged plate covered with foil paper.

Pour the mixture and flatten it to form a smooth texture.

Let it cool. Once cool cut into squares or diamonds.

Garnish with almond shredding. I have skipped the garnish as mom doesn’t like it much. 😉

Serve as a dessert.