Peach Lemonade & Peach Iced Tea


 

I love fruit iced teas and make a lot of variations. Any over ripe or bruised fruit goes into these delicious summer drinks. We sometimes make fruity cocktails too.

Years ago on one hot summer day after being knackered by housework and my crazy kids I just mashed one of the overripe peaches and added it to a big glass of chilled lemonade (not the usual shikanji with kala namak etc. This was sweet one). No one was willing to eat this orphaned peach and I wasn’t in mood for iced tea.

The lemonade tasted different and nice but not what I was looking for.  Many days later while making peach compote I added the warm sugary muddled peach pulp to the lemonade. It turned out absolutely divine and thus began my love for fruity lemonades. I then experimented with many fruits and till now these remain my favorite over the plain lemonade. Who said lemonades were only about lemons.

I had added sugar to that one but later I didn’t feel the need or the urge to sweeten the drink with added sugar. As I often used organic honey to make the lemonade. Adding it to the simply muddled warm peaches seemed a good idea. I evolved the recipe and made it differently many times with ginger and mint, with basil, with vodka and gin, with sugar instead of honey, blended or with chucks of peaches in it. I even froze lemonade in ice cube trays with soft peach pulp in it and added those to the pitcher. Sometimes adding the preferred alcohol to it.  Each tasted differently. My favorite is with soft muddled peach pulp along with some peach and lemon wedges. Simple and refreshing. Too many flavors mar the drink.

Here’s how I made it. There are two ways to do it and I will tell you both.

Ingredients :

2-3 large ripe juicy peaches

4 cups water

1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 inch Fresh Ginger Slice (crushed)

Few Fresh mint leaves muddled

2-3 tablespoon Organic Honey

Peach slices and lemon wedges to add to lemonade and to garnish

Steps – 

Method 1 :

Wash and cut the peaches in small pieces with the skin on. Discard the stone.

In a pan add those pieces and simmer on medium flame stirring constantly. When they become soft lightly press them gently with the back of the spoon and take them out in a bowl. Once they cool add honey and mix well. Keep the mix in the fridge for chilling.

Meanwhile, make lemonade by mixing lemon juice, ginger, mint and cold water.

Add the chilled peach pulp to the lemonade and throw in some slender peach slices and lemon wedges.

Keep the lemonade in fridge so it chills well. I avoid adding ice for it dilutes the drink. Sometimes I make ice cubes from the same lemonade and add those.

You can put it in the freezer for sometime and then crush it to make the drink super chilled. Spoon in some peach pulp in the glasses when you serve. You can make it as a slushie too.

You can keep the peach pulp for a day more in case you wish to make peach iced tea like I did.

There was some cold brew iced tea remaining from day before and added some of the pulp to that. I let it seep in the fridge while enjoying my peach lemonade. The resting gave a nice flavor to the tea and we had it later in the day.

Method 2 :

In a bowl add peach pieces and sugar. Mix and let it sit for some time. Heat a thick bottom pan and add the peach sugar mix. Keep the flame medium low and stir till the mixture becomes pulpy. Remove from heat and cool. Blend it in a mixer or blender and add to the lemonade. You can also bring to boil peaches, sugar and little water then cool and blend. Add this mix to a pitcher of cold water, add lemon juice , muddled mint etc and serve chilled. Use two cups of water for the peach syrup and two cups to add later in the pitcher.

As I use honey I don’t boil the water but warming the peaches brings out some nice flavors.

For the tea I sometimes just roughly chop the peaches and tip into the cold brew tea. Sometimes I make the tea by adding hot water (not boiling) over tea leaves and then straining it to desired strength. I chill it and add the peach pulp, lemon juice, lemon wedges, peach slices to it.

See, how many different way are there to enjoy this fantastic homemade summer drink.

Do try the Peach lemonade and / or the peach Iced Tea and you’ll see how refreshing and amazing it is. You’ll never go for the synthetic one again.

Spiking 1 liter of lemonade  or Iced tea with 60-80 ml of alcohol is good way to make a tipsy version. It depends on your taste. I add a little less vodka than peach schnapps when making the alcohol version. These are my preferred choices but you can add whiskey or gin too. A good peach vodka goes well with both the iced tea and the lemonade.

Do let me know if you make any of the the two.

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Cold Brew Iced Tea With Plum and Basil


 

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

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

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Cold Brew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients: 

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

6 -8 Medium size Ripe Plums

2 tbsp Organic raw honey (optional)

1 liter water

1 tsp Lemon Juice

Lemon wedges

Few leaves of Holy Basil

Steps : 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do leave a note if you make this.

Musk Melon & Lemon Sorbet


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

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

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

Ingredients :

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

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

Fresh Lemon Juice – 1 Tbsp

Lemon zest – 1/4 tsp

2-3 Tbsp water ( as required)

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip – 

To choose a good melon look for these signs.

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

A good fruit will ensure a good sorbet.

Note –

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

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

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

Add a little gin or vodka for that boozy taste.

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

2 Ingredient Banana and Dates Ice cream


A lot of my friends asked me about these one/two or three ingredient ice creams made without the ice cream maker. I have some recipes already on my blog which you can find through the search bar. Here is the link to the basic one ingredient banana ice cream. You can make many variations of this by adding chocolate, Nutella, mango, dates, vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, almond butter.. Think more and be creative. There is no dairy in these but you can make with sweetened condense milk and cinnamon too.

Bananas, especially overripe ones are terrific for these ice-creams.  Frozen fresh bananas make for such a fantastic  rich and creamy custard like ice cream which you can eat as soft serve or freeze it more to make solid ice cream.

The sweetness of bananas and dates means no added sugar but adding a little honey ensures that there won’t be any ice crystals when you freeze the ice cream.

These fruity ice creams are dairy free, vegan, egg free, gluten free and very delicious. Don’t worry if you do not have those gorgeous food props or ice cream scooper and other such kitchen gadgets. You can still make this and relish.

For the dates banana ice cream you will need

Ingredients : (serves one) 

Ripe Bananas – 2 ( look for those brown spots on the skin)

Dates ( Medjool) – 5-6

Honey / Sticky date syrup – for topping ( optional)

Steps – 

Slice and line the banana pieces on a plate covered with parchment paper. Make sure the pieces do not touch each other. Freeze for 4-5 hours or overnight. I often put them in zip lock bags and freeze in advance.

Soak the dates in two tbsp of water after removing the seed. Once soft you may discard the flake dry top skin if any. Put it in freezer too.

To make the ice cream take a good food processor or a good blender. Put the frozen pieces of banana and the dates in the jar and give it some good churns. Scrape the sides of the jar to ensure smooth blending. This may require some patience so go ahead and blend till you get a soft serve custard like consistency. If you want to make a firm scoop ice cream then add a teaspoon of honey at this stage otherwise there is no need. I used it for topping.

Once you get he thick creamy rich texture you can scoop it out into a bowl and eat it as it is or spoon it in a freezer proof container and freeze for an hour.  Take it out and mix it with a spoon then put it back for freezing.

Once it is uniformly frozen scoop it out in a bowl and drizzle with sticky date syrup/honey or any of your favorite topping. It tastes delicious without any topping too.

This summer give these ice creams a try and let me know how you found them.

Bengali Kachcha Aamer Mishti Chutney


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

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

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

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

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

It quickens the cooking process too.

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

Ingredients –

Raw mangoes – 1/2 kg (4 medium size)

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

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

Whole dry red chilies – 2-3

Black mustard seeds – 2-3 tsp

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

Salt – to taste

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Mustard oil – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use dry, clean spoons to take out the chutney.

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

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

Homemade Basic & Fruit Juice Infused Rasgullas


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

Pressure cooker Rasgullas:

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

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

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

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

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

Now the Ingredients and the steps.

Ingredients : 

To make chena :

Full fat milk / Cow’s milk – 2 Cups

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

For Basic Rasgullas – 

Water for syrup – 600 ml approx

Sugar – 200  gm

Steps :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve them chilled with a little syrup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Panasa Katha Tarkari |Oriya Style Raw Jackfruit Curry


Jackfruit is such a versatile vegetable. This fibrous, starchy, fleshy fruit is also referred to as ‘vegetarian meat’. Jackfruit/kathal or Panasa is cooked in a variety of ways. Kathal is one of the many things especially cooked on Holi in Eastern UP household as a replacement to the non veg but today I am sharing the Oriya style curry made with tender, raw jackfruit today. The UP style I will share some other time. 🙂

I also make the Punjabi style vegetable and jackfruit kebabs. There was a time I even pickled it but not anymore.  I absolutely love the ripe jackfruit. Many people do not like its heady intoxicating fragrance but it is one of the things I continue to eat with relish since childhood. Kathal biryani is another favorite and it can beat any mutton biryani if made properly. One can also make jackfruit chips and stew which taste awesome.

Jackfruit is not just an exotic tropical vegetable/fruit but full of good nutrients too. It has ample dietary fibers, anti-oxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folic acid, Vitamin C and much more. It is also a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium and iron.

I had an Oriya neighbor who was an excellent cook. I learned this recipe from her. She told me that there was a slight variation she did from the authentic one. The curry was rich, flavorful and excellent in texture. I made it after many a moons but the verdict of the family was great so here it is for all of you.

Ingredients :

Raw tender jackfruit – 1 small or 1/2 kg peeled and chopped

Potato – 1 large

Onion –  2 + 2 green chilies (1 onion sliced & 1 finely grated or made into paste wit hthe green chili and cumin seeds)

Fresh Ginger and Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp each

Tomato – 1 ( grated or finely chopped)

Panchporan – 1/4 tsp

Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Chili powder – to taste

Homemade garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Bay leaf – 1-2

Cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardomom – 2-3

Cumin seeds -1/2 tsp

Black peppercorn – 4-5

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Mustard oil – 5-6 tbsp

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped fine)

Steps – 

Peel and cut the jackfruit 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.

Do oil your hands and knife before peeling and chopping Jackfruit. It gets very sticky due to the milky gum like substance it secrets.

2. Wash, peel and chop potatoes in 1 inch cubes.

3. Parboil both the vegetables with a little salt and turmeric.  Drain the water and keep aside the boiled veggies.

4. Heat a wok and add the mustard oil to it. Bring it to smoking point and reduce the heat. Fry both potatoes and jackfruit one by one. Remove in a plate covered with kitchen towel.

5. In the same oil add Bayleave, panch poran, cinnamon stick, black peppercorn, black and green cardamom, Give it a stir.

6. Once the seeds begin to splutter add the sliced onions and fry till light golden brown. Add sugar to it and stir. Add the grated onion and ginger – garlic paste. Fry till the rawness of the paste goes away and it is nicely browned.

7. Add chopped or grated tomatoes and fry till oil leaves sides and then add the dry powdered masalas and give a nice stir.

8. Now add the parboiled potatoes and jackfruit pieces. Mix nicely so that the masala gets incorporated properly into the veggies. Cover and cook for a few minutes on low- medium flame.

9. Once the veggies absorb the masala completely, add more warm water for the curry. Give a good stir and bring it to boil.

10. Let it simmer for sometime till a nice gravy is ready. Add chopped coriander leaves and garam masala to it. Also add a tablespoon of pure homemade ghee for flavor.

Turn off the flame and serve hot with roti or rice.

Happy Holi to all my readers and friends. Respect boundaries and have a colorful life ahead. 

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.

 

Bhajani Thalipeeth With Fenugreek Leaves And Green chilli Thecha


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

 

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

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

1 Teaspoon – Cumin seeds

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

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

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

 

Methichi Talipeeth 

Ingredients :

Bhajani – 1 Cup

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

Onion (small) – 1 (chopped fine)

Green Chilli – 1-2 ( chopped fine )

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoon ( chopped fine)

Salt – to taste

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

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

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

Water to kneed the dough

Oil for cooking

Steps – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how I did it.

Hirvya Mirchi cha Thecha ( Green chilli thecha) 

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

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

Ingredients :

Fresh thin green chilies – 8-10

Garlic cloves – 5-6

Roasted peanuts – 2 tbsp (optional)

Salt- to taste

Oil – 1 tsp

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

Steps – 

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

Heat a small saucepan and add a tsp of oil.

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

Add the coriander leaves if using and stir.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.

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

Pound till you get a coarse mixture.

You can coarsely grind it in mixer too.

Take it out in a bowl and serve.

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

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

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

 

 

Kada Prasad – Recipe And A Food Story


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my recipe :

Whole wheat flour ( coarsly ground) – 1 Cup

Sugar -1 Cup

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

Water – 3 Cups

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

 

Steps : 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can garnish with almonds if not making as prasad.

An interesting fact from my marital village in Himachal –

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

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

 

Awwal Allah Noor Upaya Qudrat Keh Sub Banday

Aik Noor Keh Sub Jag Upajiya Kaun Bhale Ko Mandhe

God created light of which all the beings were born

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