Spiced Banana Raisin Loaf


There was a time I used to make banana bread regularly then one day it all stopped. Some 15 years back a loaf of banana bread lovingly baked was tucked away in a steel container and shoved on top shelf of the kitchen due to sheer malice. I was visiting my mother for a few days so baked the bread and left the next day. Some six month later while spring cleaning I found a container that won’t open. The container was heavy so I was curious about what lay inside. With great difficulty I managed to pop the lid away and there it was, a rotten banana bread with fungus that could be a perfect sample for a science student. It broke my heart and never baked the bread again.

I did make a banana nut bread in a mug. You can get the recipe Here.

Since a few days mom had been craving for it and I was just not getting into the mood. I usually do not bake breads now so the pantry was empty. No baking powder or baking soda. I was too lethargic to go buy or even order. The bananas were getting overripe and yesterday I gave in to the temptation.

The whole wheat bread that I usually made had jaggery instead of sugar but here I powdered and used the regular sugar.  Brown sugar or jaggery is the best to use in banana bread. The rich flavor is amazing. Do use that if you have it.   1/4 cup is good for this recipe. If using jaggery or Muscovedo sugar then use 1 cup.

It was an experiment of sort as I had not baked without baking powder or baking soda before so I began to search for options on the internet. Yeast, sour dough were out so I was about to give up when Alice’s blog link popped up. I was happy someone had bothered to bake a bread without the two ingredients that are considered important and adapted her recipe to suit my needs. Thank you Alice. I knew it would be dense but cooked so there wasn’t much to worry.

Surprisingly, the bread turned out to be good. Moist, sweet, spiced and dense. Something between a cake and a bread. I decided to call it a loaf. 🙂 Everyone who had it thought that the texture resembled the Bishop Bread we get from ITC Maurya. Well, that was a very satisfying compliment. That bread is out of the world.

It needed some adjustment of temperature etc.

Do give it a try :

Ingredients :

Bananas – 3 medium or 2 large , over ripe ones

Whole wheat flour – 11/2 Cup (16 tbsp)

Butter – 1/2 Cup ( softened) ( I used a salted butter but if you use unsalted then add 1/4 tsp of salt) or 1/2 Cup – Vegetable oil

Spice powder – cinnamon, clove, nutmeg

Powdered Sugar – 1 Cup ( depends on the sweetness of  the bananas)

Eggs – 2 (well beaten)

Raisins –  1/2 Cup (Plumped in water)

Walnuts – A handful ( toasted / optional)

Buttermilk – 2 tbsp

Steps : 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C.  Grease and dust a 8×3 or 9×5 inch loaf tin. I used an 8 inch one.

Peel and mash overripe bananas in a large mixing bowl. Don’t make a smooth paste. Clumpy is good for a nice texture. Bananas with blackening skin or brown skin with deep brown spots are good. Make sure they are not fermenting. Do not get tempted to add more bananas just because you want to finish them. It will result in a dense under cooked center.

Gently fold in the softened butter /Oil, sugar and spice powder to the mashed bananas. Using oil is a good idea as it helps the bread retain the moisture. Next one will be with oil.

I add the beaten eggs just before putting the bread into the oven. If your oven and loaf tin are ready then beat the eggs very well in a bowl. Get in as much air as you can. This will make the bread light. Remember we aren’t using anything to help it rise. Add the beaten eggs to the banana sugar mixture and mix well with a spatula.  Don’t use any hand mixer for the recipe.

Now, make a well in the center of the whole wheat flour and slowly fold in the banana mixture wit ha spatula. It would be lumpy but that is great. Just mix everything nicely so that there are no flour streaks. Add 2 tbsp of buttermilk or sour cream. The batter is usually very thick so this help in making it smooth and nice. Gives a nice flavor and texture too.

Fold it the plumped raisins and toasted crushed walnuts if using. Dry raisins burn easily so it is good to plump them a little. You can toss some of the nut raisin mixture on the top also.

Pour the batter in the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes or til toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Temperature may vary from oven to oven and I found my bread gets browned from top quickly if I place on top slot. I have two slots so I placed it in the lower one after it was 3/4 done. You can use aluminium foil to cover it to prevent extra browning. I didn’t so my crust browned more.

Another thing is to place some water in the drip tray under the wire rack. The steam makes the bread softer. I did it earlier, not for this one.

Keep checking after 45 minutes and if it needs more cooking from the center just give it 10-15 more minutes.

Once done, turn off the oven and let it stay there for 10 minutes. Remove on wire rack after that and cool.

Wrap it up in cling wrap when warm or cut it and use as desired. I usually slice it and keep in a tupperware box on the table.

Some people add vanilla essence or extract or chocolate in the bread but I personally do not like to mask the taste of spices and the rich banana flavor. You can add to your liking.

Do let me know how this loaf tasted if you make it. It is unlike the usual banana bread as I said. more like a fruit cake. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gatte Ki Sabzi| Chickpea Dumpling Curry


I love this delicious gatte ki sabzi from Rajasthan. I have another recipe of the Punjabi version on my blog but this is absolute delight when eaten with hot fresh phulkas smeared with ghee or of course the bajra roti which is traditionally served with this curry. Ghee is healthy and you should use it.  The gattas I made for this recipe are thinner and spicier than the Punjabi ones.

Gatta is chickpea flour dumpling that is steamed or boiled till they float up and become light. One can spice them up or keep them plain. They are so tempting and hard to resist that you may keep munching on them while making the curry and realize that there is more curry than the gattas.

Make some extra dumplings always.  You can use these  gattas or dumplings with other veggies also but this is a basic recipe.

Ingredients : 

For Gatta : 

Besan / Chickpea flour – 1 Cup

Home cultured curd / Yogurt – 1/4 Cup

Fennel seeds powder – 3/4 tsp

Ajwain – 3/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Chili powder – to taste

Pinch of hing powder

2 pinches of coarsely ground fresh black pepper corns

For the Curry : 

Ginger and Garlic – 1 tsp each ( grated)

Onion – 1 medium size, chopped fine

Green chilies – 2, slit or chopped

Whole red chilies – 1-2

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tbs

Besan or  Chickpea flour – 2 tbs

Fresh coriander leaves – chopped – 2 tbsp

Method :

For Gatta :

Mix the dry ingredients listen under gatta except the ghee and curd.

Pour ghee evenly and rub it in the mixture. Slowly add beaten curd one spoon at a time to make a firm dough.

Divide the dough in equal parts and roll it in your palms to make a cylindrical shape.  You can make it as thin or thick but I have noticed that the thicker ones don’t cook well from the center when boiled.

Making perfect gatta is a bit tricky at times but you’ll get used to it.

Now take a deep large pan and boil enough water. Once the water boils slowly dunk the gatta in it. You can go about doing some other stuff while they cook in the boiling water. It takes a lot of time. Keep checking in between and the moment gatttas rise up and start floating take them out in a plate to cook. Throw away the water.

Once they cool, cut them into 1 inch long pieces.

Now  to make the curry :

Blend the yogurt and add the powdered masalas and salt in it. Remember that you had added salt in the gattas too. Mix well. Roast the besan and allow it t cool. Now, make a paste with  2 tbsp of buttermilk and add to the curd. DO NOT add more than 1-2 tbs of besan or it will become kadhi. You can omit besan too. I use it just to make sure that the curd doesn’t curdle.

Heat a wok or a kadhayi and put ghee in it.  when the ghee melts, add hing and cumin seeds. When they crackle , add red and green chili, stir and add ginger and garlic. Saute and add the onions. Let the onions brown a little then turn off the gas. Add the curd mixture and give it a nice stir.

Put tit back on flame and keep stirring on low medium heat till the ghee separates from the masala.

Slowly add warm water to make a curry till you get desired consistency. The gravy will thicken once you add gattas so keep that it mind.

Adjust salt and spices to your liking at this point.

Let the curry boil for sometime and then dip in the gatta pieces.

Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes and then garnish it with fresh coriander leaves.

Eat it hot with bajra roti or phulka smeared with ghee. It makes for one hell of a satiating meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Spiced Pear Jam (Without Pectin)


 

Stone fruits are my first love and I have them in abundance during the season but the pip fruits, pears, apples are a different story all together. There are many varieties of pears that have hit the market this season including the sweet nashpaati, crisp nakq and gritty, sweet and juicy babugosha. i’m absolutely enjoying myself biting into the fresh ripe fleshy fruits but sometimes a few of them turn out a little bland in taste and that is when the exotic ideas of caramelized pears, stews, poached pears in red wine, jams, jellies, tarts, upside down cakes or a humble Indian spiced chutney come to mind. Do check out my other recipes for jams and jellies.

Pears are rich in dietary fibers among other things. The star of this recipe are the intense flavors of spices and the tang from lemon. As the pears were not very sweet this one has a mild sweetness of the fruit but those with robust flavors are mind blowing when used in preserves. I usually pick up the juiciest and sweetest lot.

The cinnamon and clove give it a classic flavor and the sugar gives it the desired thickness. I guess this is the time to bring Autumn into your kitchen. 🙂

Pear an Peach jams do not set like other jams if there is no additional pectin. They require a little bit more cooking time to get the right consistency.

Ingredients : 

2 Cups – Chopped, peeled Pears

4 Cups – Sugar ( depends on the sweetness of the fruit)

4-5 – Cloves / 1/2 tsp of  freshly ground clove powder

1/4 inch Cinnamon stick  / 1/2 tsp Freshly ground Cinnamon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Steps: 

Add all the ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan and boil them on low heat for an hour or so or until thick. As the mixture begins to thicken you will need to stir more frequently. Once the bubbles begin to appear stop stirring and let the foam come up. Turn the gas off and skim off any foam that may have come on the top. Put it back on stove on low heat.

Once the jam thickens to the desired consistency and the mixture looks glossy and shiny turn off the gas.  If the jam coats the back of the spoon and the bottom of the pan it is done. The color will darken too. Conduct a spoon or sheet test – take some jam in a frozen spoon or chilled  steel plate and slightly tilt it , if the jam stays at one place it is done. If it flows then you need to cook a bit more. Always cook jams on low heat.

You may keep the jam a bit chunky or mash the fruit with a masher while it is cooking to get a smoother jam.

You can add a 1″ piece of grated ginger if you like the taste. I do it sometime. It perks up the taste of the jam.

Let the jam come to room temperature then spoon it in clean glass jars. Leave 1/4 inch head space while filling the bottles.

Slather this golden sweetness lavishly on the bread and enjoy wit ha hot mug of coffee.

Tip – Add a little red wine to the jam if you don’t mind things getting a little tipsy.   🙂

Mango Phirni With Mango Roses | Indian Mango Rice Pudding With Mango Roses


Mangoes are in season and there is nothing more satiating than this dessert. Fragrant rice in full cream milk with flavor of ripe mangoes is delicately delicious and looks fantastic with the mango roses. This was my first attempt in making the roses and the mangoes were so juicy and ripe that it didn’t work the way I wanted but then it was fun and lip smacking.  I also discovered an easier way of getting those roses right which I will share later along with some other fruit and vegetable flowers.

The secret to a good phirni is the coarsely ground rise that has a semolina like texture. Traditionally it is served in mitti ka kasora or a small earthenware bowl. I didn’t have those so used a clay pot to chill the phirni then served in glass bowls. Nuts, saffron, silver leaf are used traditionally as a garnish but with the gorgeous mango flavour and roses on top I did not use anything extra. Creamy and grainy, this is a perfect dessert after a lavish meal.

Ingredients : 

  • Mango puree – 1 cup
  • Raw Basmati Rice – 31/2 tbs ( Soaked)
  • Mangoes – 1-2 ( For the roses)
  • Condensed Milk ( Milkmaid ) – 3/4 Cup ( adjust according to the sweetness of mangoes)
  • Full Fat Milk – 4 Cups
  • Saffron Threads – 5-6 ( Soaked in warm milk)
  • Almonds – 6-7 soaked / skinned / ground to a paste
  • Nuts / Raisins – for garnish ( as desired)
  • Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

 

Steps : 

  1. Soak rice in water for 30 minutes at least.
  2. Rinse and blend in the food processor with a little milk or water to make a smooth yet coarse paste. The rice should not become powdery.
  3. Heat the milk in heavy bottom pan and bring in to boil. Keep stirring and reduce it for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and almond pastes, stirring continuously on low heat. Make sure no lumps are formed.
  5. Add saffron and keep simmering on low heat till the rawness of ricer goes away.
  6. Add condensed milk and stir till it thickens to pudding like consistency. Turn off the gas. Add cardamom powder.
  7. Let the mixture cool on the counter and then st
  8. ir in the fresh mango puree. Mix it to get a smooth texture.
  9. Add the desired nuts and pour into the earthen pot or any serving pot you are using. Let it chill in the fridge so it sets properly.
  10. Meanwhile make mango roses and cool them. Before serving arrange the roses as desired and serve chilled.

  1. To make mango roses : Peel a hard yet ripe mango and cut the two side slices. Remove an inch from the sides and slice thinly. Arrange it the thin slices to form the petals and place it on the chilled phirni.

 

My Tip:
Keep the sugar level mild in phirni for excellent taste. You can layer white phirni and mango phirni alternately in individual glasses or serve in individual earthen bowls too. If serving individually you can add chopped mango pieces or simply drizzle finely chopped pistachios and almond shavings.
You can layer the phirni in individual glasses. For that take out a portion of phirni before adding the mango pulp and chill. Once the mango phirni is ready, spoon some mango puree in chilled glasses and layer the two phirni alternately. Garnish with chopped mango pieces or nuts.

 

 

 

Punjabi Kathal Masala | Punjabi Jackfruit Vegetable


Popularly known as “vegetarian’s meat’, this fibrous, starchy and fleshy fruit is one of my favorites.  From tender ones to the absolutely ripe ones Jackfruit is used in variety of dishes from sweet to savory. Even the juice of ripe jackfruit is dried and used to make dishes like fansache sandane.  It is even pickled and the kathal ka achar is one of the best things on earth. I had kathal ki biryani at a friend’s place and it tasted just like the mutton biryani though the hardcore non vegetarian would never call it a biryani for Biryani means rice and Meat. 🙂 Nothing can substitute it. Kathal is one of the many things especially cooked on Holi in UP.

Although in my house only tender baby kathal or slightly more matured one was used for vegetable or kababs I learned to cook the more mature fibrous one from my MIL. It was cooked mostly like meat. The recipe used all the spices used to cook meat. It was cooked on slow fire and given dum. ( the dum pic got deleted accidentally but I will upload it later)

I did variations whenever possible to make the best use of the meaty fruit. Achari kathal being one of them which is cooked exactly like murg achari.

I neither use very tender baby jackfruit nor the very fibrous mature one for this subzi. The jackfruit seeds, that look like chestnuts, should not be very tough to chew. I never liked their plastic like covering.

Note – Get the jackfruit peeled and cut by the vegetable vendor or apply some oil and use a sharp knife to cut. It secretes a sticky resin and things can get very messy if not done properly.

kathal

 

Ingredients – 

Green unripe kathal/jakfruit – 1/2 kg

Onion – 2 large

Potatoes – 2 medium size ( optional)

Tomatoes – 5-6 medium size

Ginger – 1 inch ( grated)

Garlic – 7-8 cloves ( grated)

Green chilies – 2-3 ( slit)

Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Coriander Powder – 2 tablespoon

Turmeric / Haldi Powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Home made Garam Masala – 1/4 teaspoon

Amchur/ mango powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Asafoetida – 2 pinches

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Mustard Oil for frying

Water – 1 cup

Chopped green coriander leaves – for garnish

Steps- 

  1. Peel and cut the kathal into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces. Make a cut in the seeds if there are large ones or they will burst while frying or slice them if they are not too stubborn). (Be careful with that) Wash and keep aside.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes ( if using) and place them in water.
  3. Heat Mustard oil in a kadhai  and bring it to smoking point, Keep the flame to medium now. ( Mustard oil gives the subzi a unique taste but you may use some other also)
  4. Deep fry the kathal pieces in small batches till they are golden brown but not darker than that. Fry the potatoes too.
  5. Drain the fried jackfruit and potatoes on to a kitchen towel or paper to remove excess oil.
  6. Chop the onions fine.
  7. Grate the tomatoes into a puree.
  8. Remove excess oil fro mthe kadhayi and keep about two tablespoon for making the masala for the sabzi.
  9. Add cumin seeds and when they splutter add hing/asafoetida.
  10. Add chopped onions and green chili.
  11. Fry till golden brown. ( Add a little salt to help in browning)
  12. Add ginger and garlic and fry them along with the onions.
  13. Add red chili and a little water to give that rich brown color to the masala.
  14. Let the mixture cook for a minute and then add  the grounded masalas and the remaining salt.
  15.  stir properly and fry till the oil separates. Keep flame low.
  16. Move the onion mix to a side of kadhayi and add tomato puree.
  17. Stir everything well and let it cook under cover for sometime. ( 5-10 min)
  18. Open the lid and add some of the chopped green coriander leaves. This gives the masala a very nice flavor.
  19.  keep stirring the masala till the water from tomatoes dries out and the masala starts to leave oil. It will become smooth in texture by now.
  20. Add kathal and potato pieces to the masala  and mix well so that the masala gets incorporated in each piece. Add a little water to help in the process.
  21.  cook it on medium high flame , stirring continuously so the vegetable pieces soak up all the fragrant masala.
  22. Add more water to make a thick gravy and cover to cook on slow flame.
  23. Keep checking for the pieces to become tender.
  24. The time depends on the quality of kathal. ( Took 45 mins)
  25. Once the pieces have become tender check for the salt and spices. Add more if required.
  26. The kathal masala can be a thick moist vegetable coated with the masala but dry or you can add some water to make it into a curry. Keep it as thick or thin as you wish.
  27. If you want to dum the vegetable then cover with lid and seal the lid with wheat flour dough so that the steam doesn’t escape.
  28. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes on very low heat then turn off the heat and carefully remove the seal.
  29. Spoon the aromatic punjabi kathal masala vegetable in a serving dish and garnish with the remaining green coriander leaves.
  30. Eat with layered paratha, phulka or rice.
  31. Serve some cooling raita, pickled carrots and sliced onions.

Tip – If you do not wish to fry the kathal and potatoes you can make this recipe with steamed or raw pieces also.

This is a slow cook recipe and a labor of love. Follow the steps and you will have a sumptuous vegetable.

My garam masala has nutmeg, cinnamon, bayleaf, javitri, big black cardamom, green cardamom, dry ginger, cumin, coriander etc. so I do not add khada masala or whole spices.

Some people  add two three tablespoons of thick curd in the masala instead of amchur/mango powder. I make dahiwala kathal as a separate dish.

Enjoy this delicious meaty vegetable while the fruit is still in season.

 

 

 

 

Mango, Cherry Parfait With Popped Amaranth Seeds


I love to use amaranth in my recipes. Ramdana, as it is called in Hindi, is a superfood and has higher value of protein than quinoa (9.3gm per cup) . Popped ramdana/rajgira is easily available too. I find it to be a very good choice for breakfast cereal. The versatile popped amaranth can be used in many ways. I have some recipes with Amaranth on the blog, please look them up.

Parfaits are the best breakfast options in summer. Chilled home cultured yogurt, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, raisins or any other dried fruits like figs, dates etc., and homemade fruit compote or honey, you can add layers and layers of anything of your choice and create mind blowing variations of parfaits. You can use, flattened rice (poha) or ramdana or granola / muesli in a parfait, the options are endless.

Mangoes and cherries are in season and while I was freezing cherries for cherry FroYo I decided to make a parfait with mangoes to beat the afternoon heat. The cherries looked so tempting that I couldn’t resist adding them to the parfait and trust me the unique cherry mango flavor is delicious. The chewy ramdana added to the fun. A perfect treat on sun scorched day like today.  ( crush some of the cherries to release the deep red juice over the white yogurt.

For this easy fruity hung curd Parfait you will need,

Ingredients:

Ripe Mango – 1

Sweet Fresh Cherries – 1/2 cup pitted

Ramdana or popped amaranth – 4 tablespoon

Honey – 2 tablespoon

Granola or muesli – 2 tablespoon

Mango puree – 2 tablespoon

Cherry compote or cherry sauce – 2 tablespoon (optional)

Nuts, seeds or your choice.

Method :

If using home cultured curd or market bough yogurt hang it in a muslin cloth for an hour to remove excess water unless the yogurt is very thick. Use the water in curries or drink it up, it is very nutritious.

Once the curd is ready, mix the mango puree or honey properly and put it in the freezer.

In this recipe I used honey as I was adding cherries too.

Wash the mango and cut it in small pieces.

Wash the cherries and remove the pits. I push them out with the help of a drinking draw. 😀

Chill the fruits in the fridge along with th e yogurt.

Put all the nuts and seeds in a bowl.

For making parfait, take a goblet or  wide glass and start layering.

Put some yogurt, mango, muesli/ granola, yogurt, cherries, ramdana yogurt, nuts and seeds and more yogurt mixed with both the fruits. Top it with more fruit pieces.

If making a single fruit parfait, use a homemade fruit sauce or compote as top layer. Don’t use sugar , honey when adding homemade fruit preserve.

I keep the sugar level minimum or sometimes just avoid adding anything. The fruits provide the sweetness.

Have this healthy parfait as a fulfilling breakfast or as an afternoon dessert snack.

Make your own variations and enjoy the fruity summer goodness.

Easy Banana And Chocolate Frozen Yogurt


 

When the temperature soars and the only thing you want are in a mood for a healthy, low fat dessert then the best option is a fruit based Fro Yo or frozen yogurt. I make a lot of variations of this delicious low calorie sweet treat and try to use as less added sweetner as possible. I use honey in most of my Fro Yo recipes as it is not just healthier than white sugar but also prevents icicles to form while freezing the FroYo.

A bar of Cointreau chocolate was lying in the fridge as I devoured the handmade dark chocolates so I decided to use it in this lip smacking Banana Chocolate Frozen Yogurt. The Cointreau  gave it a mild boozy flavor which was just perfect.

It is easy to make no fuss FroYo that you must try. Also, look up the other frozen yogurt recipes in the blog.

 

Ingredients:

Ripe Bananas – 2 ( Pealed, diced and frozen)

Hung Yogurt or Greek Yogurt – 3/4 Cup (60 gm)

Honey – 2 tablespoon

Dark  Cointreau Chocolate (Grated/broken into very small pieces) – 3 tablespoon

 

Method – 

In a food processor or blender add frozen banana and blend until you have loose crumbs like mixture.

Add hung curd or Greek yogurt, honey and shredded/broken chocolate pieces.  Process until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure there are no lumps.

Scoop it out in a freezable container and even the top with the help of a spatula. Cover and freeze for at least 4-6 hours.

I often take the container out after and hour or so and give the yogurt a good mix before putting it back in the freezer so that no icicles are formed. Usually honey will prevent them from forming anyway.

When ready to serve, scoop out the yogurt in ice cream bowls or cups, sprinkle some shredded chocolate, place a few slices of fresh banana and serve immediately.

You must always use frozen fruit.

Home cultured curd is the best as it is more nutritious but you can also use Greek yogurt. If using home cultured curd, hang it in a muslin cloth for a few hours to remove all the water. Use the whey for kneading wheat flour or put it in daals etc. I just drink it up. Nothing should go waste.

Instead of liquor filled chocolate you can use any other dark chocolate or chocolate chips or cocoa powder also (Two tablespoon should do.

Enjoy your delicious FroYo.

 

 

Panakam Or Gur (Jaggery) Sharbat


India has a culinary culture where the beverages had an important place. Among the many varieties of cold and hot indigenous, traditional beverages sharbats were considered best not just as refreshing drinks but also as medicinal remedies. Most of the sarbats were decoctions / infusions of fruits, flowers, herbs, roots grown locally in a specific region.. They were prepared according to the season. Each sharbat had a therapeutic use. I read somewhere that sharbats were introduced by Mughal emperors in India in 16th century.

In North India, where I live, I grew up with sharbats made with rose, khus, hibiscus, mint, lemon, bael, raw mango or kachcha aam, phalsa, sattu, ilmi or tamarind, gur, badam, sandalwood, amla, kewra, ginger and many other things.  In summer months sharbats were served during festive occasions, religious ceremonies and to house guests apart from their daily use in homes. These specially made serbats helped to combat the merciless heat of Northern Indian Summer.

In other regions also Sharbats were part of the daily cuisine among other beverages.

Gur ka ghol  or gur ka sharbat may not sound fancy but it is delicious taste and has tremendous benefits in terms of keeping the body cool, purifying blood and helping in the digestion. It also helps to ward off dehydration. In rural areas Gur ka ghol was served to anyone who came home from sweltering heat of summer. Gur and water was given separately also. The tradition still continues in many areas but now the commercial drinks are taking over slowly replacing the traditional ones which is a sad thing.

The gur sharbat we drank was prepared with grated jaggery dissolved in water and spiked with black rock salt, lime and mint.

The closest thing to it I found in Old Delhi’s Mohalla Pahadi Imli in chawari bazaar’s chitli Qabar area. The guy makes fantastic gur ka thanda sharbat.

Here we will be making Panakam, a variant of our North Indian Sharbat. Panakam is made in South India during Ram Navmi and is an important Naivedyam. It is not just a summer cooler but it also brings down the body’s heat and stimulates the digestive system. A traditional remedy to prevent dehydration and heat strokes.

Each ingredient in this drink has a purpose and usually it should not be replaced with anything else. You can call it an ayurvedic energy booster.

Panakam / Paanakkam 

Ingredients :

Jaggery Powder or Grated Jaggery – 3 heaped table spoons

Dry Ginger powder – 1 teaspoon (You can use fresh ginger juice too)

Freshly crushed black peppercorns- 1/2 teaspoon

Green Cardamom – 3-4 crushed

Holy Basil or Tulsi leaves –  2-3

Salt –a pinch

Water – 2 Cups

Lemon (Optional) –   2-3 wheels slightly muddled

Ice Cubes

 

Steps –

Dissolve Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery in half cup of tepid water. I use tepid water to quicken the dissolving process.

Let it set for 15-20 minutes.

Crush dry ginger ( sonth) ( if using whole), black peppercorns ( kali mirch)  and green cardamom ( choti elaichi)

Once the jaggery dissolves completely, strain the liquid through a fine mesh to remove all impurities.

In a pitcher add rest of the water. Add the jaggery liquid, crushed spice mix, salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice if using.

Stir properly  and refrigerate. The flavours from the spices will slowly get infused in the sharbat.

Take it out just before serving and add lots of ice chunks or cubes.

You can either strain the sharbat or serve it as it is.

Garnish with lemon wheel, Tulsi leaf and green cardamom pods.

This needs to be served chilled.

 

  1. Adjust the sweetness with the quantity of jaggery. The sweetness will depend o nthe quality of gur used. Always prefer untreated, chemical free jaggery.
  2. You can add edible Kamphur too to make it taste like the original panakkum. I don’t prefer it.
  3. The amount of water used will determine the taste. Adjust spices, sweetness etc according to that.
  4. Always strain the jaggery liquid so no impurities remain.
  5. Pepper gives it a unique taste but do not over spice. Use in moderation.

Citrus Bread Pudding With Malta Fruit Compote


 

I love the citrus flavor of orange or in this case the Malta fruit in this rather heavy and rich bread and butter pudding. The compote as topping is just right to balance the mild sweetness of the pudding. I love to eat it warm with a mug of black sugarless home brewed coffee. A perfect dessert.

Since childhood bread pudding has been one of my favorites. Be it the simple bread cooked in milk on a gas stove with a little sugar and nutmeg or cinnamon or something more elaborate baked in oven. I can eat this anytime anywhere.

I sometimes layer orange.Malta wedges  along with the buttered bread to make it even richer but here we will just use the zest in the pudding and top it with the compote. One can grill the fruit before layering for that burnt orange taste which is yum.  I also make chunky marmalade sandwiches instead of using fresh fruit and it turns out just as amazing.

This is a simple classic recipe and I have used one day old white bread here. An ultimate comfort food. raisins soaked in Cointreau or brandy makes it a little more adventurous.

Ingredients :

Bread ( one day old ) – 6 Slices

Full Fat Milk –  2 Cups

Condensed Sweetened Milk – 1/2 tin (Milkmade)

Orange/Malta Zest –  2 Tablespoons

Cointreau / Brandy or Rum – 1-2 tablespoon

Eggs 2  Large

Butter –  50 gm ( for spreading)

Seedless Raisins / Sultanas – 50 gm

Cinnamon Stick – 1 inch

Steps :

Put the raisins/sultanas in a saucepan and pour the Cointreau / orange juice or the preferred liquor and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside.

In another heavy bottom pan boil milk and condensed milk  mixture. Add cinnamon stick and orange zest to it. Let it simmer on low heat  for 10 minutes so the flavors get incorporated.

Turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

I do not trim the edges of the bread but you can.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 Degrees F. Place a bigger tin than the one you are using to bake pudding inside the oven to warm.

Grease a 12×9 inch baking dish. Mine was a little smaller but you should have one slightly bigger so that there is enough space for the pudding to rise.

Toast the bread slices lightly. This is my way as I find toasting gives a great flavor to the pudding. You can use them plain too.

Butter each bread slice and cut them into triangles.

In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add the infused milk  and a 2-3 tablespoons of the fresh malta juice into it and beat again till everything is combined properly. Remove the cinnamon stick. You can use powder too (1/4 teaspoon).

Layer the bread triangles, buttered side up, in the prepared baking dish. They should be slightly overlapping. Sprinkle the raisins and sultanas between the layers and pour the liquid and remaining raisins on top.

Sprinkle some more fresh orange zest on top.

Place the baking dish inside the warm bigger baking tin. Pour hot water carefully halfway till the smaller tin. Be very careful not to scald yourself or let water get  into the pudding.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pudding is wobbly from inside and browned from top.

A tooth pick should come out mostly clean when inserted in the center.

Scoop out and serve it warm with the Malta/Orange compote on top.

You can also use dollop of crème fraîche if that suits your mood.

Tips : Thick sliced breads work wonderful in this pudding. You can make thick chunky marmalade sandwiches and omit compote or layer fresh orange/ malta  wedges bweteen the bread layers.

Heat up a little marmalade over water bath and brush it over the top of the pudding for that orange glaze.

Explore all the possibilities and be innovative wit hthis classic rich bread and butter pudding.

I do not use too many spices or vanilla as the natural flavors get masked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Fruit Compotes – Mango And Malta Fruit


I am sharing the quick recipes for Malta Fruit Compote and Ripe Mango compote that I used in the Orange Bread Pudding and Mango French toast. I made small quantity  but you can adjust the proportions to make larger quantities and keep them in the fridge to use with various dishes esp barbecued meats and of course some desserts. 😉

Compote is a delicious fruit dessert made with whole fresh fruits or cut into pieces. Almost any fruit can be used – mangoes, orange, apple ,figs, berries, apricots, peaches etc. It is the best use of ripe seasonal fruits.

Mango Compote 

Ingredients : 

  • Ripe Juicy Mangoes – 2 large
  • Fresh Ginger juice – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper – 1/4 teaspoon ( you can use chili flakes too)
  • Malta juice/ Orange Juice – 1/2 cup
  • Sugar – as required (depends on sweetness of mangoes)
  • Butter – 1 tablespoon ( a dollop)

Steps :

  1. Dice mangoes into small cubes and squeeze juice from the pit too. In a bowl mix diced mangoes, malta juice, ginger juice, lime juice ( if using), sugar, cayenne pepper or chili flakes. Let the mix macerate for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Heat a heavy bottom pan and add the fruit mix. Let it simmer for 10 minutes on medium flame. Stir gently so that you don’t squish the fruit.
  3. Add butter and stir again. Simmer again for 5 more minutes then turn off the heat. Your compote is ready to use.

 

Every variety of mango will give a distinct flavor to the compote. Try and choose the most juicy ripe ones to minimize added sugar.

The fresh Malta fruit ( kind of blood orange from the hills of Uttrakhand in India) adds a refreshing tang to the compote along with a little lime and ginger juice. The zest of the fruits goes in the egg bath or the custard. Ginger juice, cayenne pepper enhance the flavors just right. You can replace Malta wit ha good orange.

 

 

Orange Compote 

Ingredients: 

Orange | Malta Fruit – 2-3

Zest of the citrus fruit you are using – 2 tablespoon (from 1/2 orange at least)

Fresh juice of Orange/ malta – 1/4 cup

Sugar – 1/3 Cup

Salt – Sea salt or even coarse table salt would do

Steps:

Wash, dab dry and peel the Oranges / Malta. Remove the pith and seeds. Chop into small pieces.
Retain all the juice that dribbles out.

In a heavy bottom saucepan add chopped fruit, zest, sugar, salt and juice and mix.
Bring this mixture to boil on high heat and then reduce the heat.
Let it cook on medium low heat till the fruit collapses and the liquid resembles a syrup. (10-15 minutes)
Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Turn off the heat and cool the compote to room temperature.

Use it with your favorite dish or as a spread on breads.
You can use it as a topping for yogurts and ice cream too.
Spice it up with star anise, clove and cinnamon if you like.
I do not use vanilla as it masks the fruit flavors.
Sugar should be adjusted as per the sweetness of the fruit. I prefer natural sweetness over added one.