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.   🙂

Homemade Guava Jelly – Recipe


Guava Jelly

When life gives you guavas turn them into jelly, jam, butter, cheese, juice or just eat them fresh from the basket sprinkled with some tangy chaat masala. As I always say, anything guava is good. This lovely tropical fruit is versatile and utterly delicious. It also ranks high on nutrition scale. Low in calorie, rich in Vitamin C, dietary fiber and other nutrients, the sweet fleshy ripe guavas are my favorite for more than one reason.

There are lots of childhood memories attached to this humble fruit. What fun it used to be to forage them from the trees and run for life before one was caught and then relish it in some quiet peaceful corner. Guava trees used to be in abundance when I was a kid. Almost every home with a patch of land had one in the corner. We too had a small guava tree in one of our houses and it was a joy to behold so many different birds having a feast there. The guavas were sweet and delicious too.

I make guava jelly in every season. As the fruit has high level of pectin I never add artificial pectin. The jelly sets perfectly with the natural fruit pectin. It is basically a very simple recipe and I am sure al of you can enjoy making it at home. You can adjust the measurements sugar and water according to the  liquid extract of the fruit.

To make this beautiful translucent jelly you need just four things.

Ingredients :

Guavas – Ripe but firm 1 kg

Sugar –  4 cups approx ( 3/4 cup to each cup of liquid extract)

Lemon Juice – 4 tablespoon

Water – Enough to cover the fruits

Method :

  1. Wash and pat dry guava fruit that is ripe but firm. Too ripe and soft fruit has low quality pectin and won’t help jelly to set perfectly. Avoid the raw ones totally. You can use a mixed bag of guavas ripened to various stages. I used the firm, ripe ones.
  2. Chop the fruit and put it in a large steel pan with enough water to cover the fruit.
  3. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to boil on high heat then reduce the heat and let it simmer till the fruit is soft and mushy,
  4. Once the fruit softens take a another pan and put a strainer that sits properly on its rims. (This is optional) Cover the pan with a muslin cloth that is wrung out in water so that it absorbs very little of the precious guava liquid extract. Pour the fruit mixture slowly on the cloth or jelly bag (if using) . I do this process twice to extract maximum juice. Once the fruit is strained I put it again to boil for 5-10 min in just enough water. Ten add it to the previous extract before tying the pulp in the jelly bag or muslin cloth.
  5. Gather the four ends of the cloth and twist and tie a knot or tie it with a string. Hang it at a safe place and let the liquid drip and collect in the pan. DO NOT  squeeze the bag or this will make the jelly cloudy. Let the liquid collect preferably overnight.
  6. Once you have all the strained liquid , discard the pulp or make guava cheese from it.
  7. Measure the liquid and add sugar and lemon juice to it. For each cup of liquid add 3/4 cup of granulated white sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir it properly and put it back on stove  to boil in a heavy bottom pan. Make sure you use a large pan as the liquid will tend to over boil and spill.  Always cook the liquid rapidly so there is no loss of pectin. Slow cooking destroys the pectin in the juice.
  8. I usually do not cook more than 4 cups at a time because the secret to flavorful and aromatic jelly is in its freshness. So, make it in small batches.
  9. Cook it on medium -high flame stirring constantly. Skim off the foam from the top of the liquid. By now your home will be fragrant with the intoxicating aroma of guava jelly. This is one aroma that you can not forget.
  10. Keep checking so that you do not overcook the jelly and turn it into a toffee. 😀 Once the liquid starts to drop off the spoon in two joined drops or coats the spoon even slightly and hangs from the spoon when inverted, turn the heat off.
  11. Do a plate test – Chill a steel plate beforehand in the freezer. Take it out and place a little jelly on it, if the top skin wrinkle or if you run a finger through it and the jelly takes its shape back it is done.
  12. Let it cool for 5 minutes and skim off all the froth and bubbles from the top before pouring it in the clean sterilized airtight jars. Always keep a cloth under the jar to prevent breakage.
  13. Let it cool before putting on the lids.
  14. Use this magnificent, delicious jelly as a spread or as a filling in cakes or just simply eat a spoonful whenever the craving hits you.

 

 

 

Five grain biscuits with guava jelly

I made a sinfully delicious PBJS with homemade peanut butter and this jelly and while drooling on that realized that the treat wasn’t yet over. So, a little bit of both went into some yummy mug cakes. The jelly tastes best with fresh crisp toasts with a hot mug of coffee.

Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zhunka Bhakar – The Rustic Meal


Zhunka bhakar with lasun shendana chutney

This recipe is gluten free and easy to digest.

The farmer’s meal got revolutionized when a lot of zhunka bhakar stalls appeared throughout Maharashtra. This rustic meal consists of zhunka, which is a vegetable made with onions and chickpea flour and bhakar / bhakri , an unleavened flat bread  made with jowar (sorghum) / bajra (pearl millet) orrice flour. The basic farmer’s meal used jowar for bhakar. The meal is best served with lasun  shengdana chutney ( garlic/peanut chutney) / tak (buttermilk) / Pithala (a guey version of zhunka) or simple yogurt. I love it with jaggery, ghee (clarified butter ) or white butter too.

Full of dietary fibers and other nutrients this is a perfect meal. I have fond memories of my aaji’s kitchen and then my mom’s where the traditional meals were cooked. I am lucky to born into a family where two very different types of cuisines were prepared. One from Maharashtra and the other from Uttarpradesh. We always explore the other state cuisines as everyone loves to relish the variety of food. Getting married into a family that belonged to an area around Himachal and Punjab introduced me to another type of food which was so exciting and delicious. A good change from regular roti chawal meals. Who doesn’t love Makki ki roti and sarson ka saag wit ha glassful of lassi?:)

Since the wheat and rice diet took over most of the indigenous coarse grains and millet took the backstage but now people are waking up to the benefits of these grains and including them in their daily meals which is a very encouraging thing. Now millet and other coarse grains are very easily available in the market. I use the organic flour made from these indigenous grains.

Zhunka 

Sping Onion Zhunka

To make Zhunka you can use red onion, spring onion, capsicum, cabbage, radish leaves or fenugreek leaves too. The traditional recipe is done with basic red onion which everyone could afford in those days. Now, of course it is an indulgence 🙂

Bhakar /Bhakri 

Bajra Bhakri

To make bhakar, use sorghum flour / pearl millet flour / rice flour/ ragi (nachni) finger millet flour or mixed grain flour. Some people add a little wheat flour for binding but I don’t. Bhakar is a staple food in many states. The farmers used to eat it with thecha ( green chili /garlic chutney), and raw onions, gud (jaggery) if not with zhunka, leafy greens, stuffed brinjal curry or pithla.

Let us first make the spring onion Zhunka. ‘Khamang‘ is the word to describe its taste and flavor in  marathi. I do not know how to describe that in any other language. ‘Sondha‘  in Hindi comes closer. You will know what I mean when the dish is ready.

Ingredients for Zhunka:

Spring Onions (scallions)  – 1/2 kg

cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

whole red chili – 1 big or 2 small

Chickpea flour (besan) – 1/2 cup

Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon ( as per your need)

Salt – to taste

A pinch or two of Asafoitida

Turmeric Powder – 1 teaspoon

Mustard oil – 3 -4 tablespoons.

Zhunka

Method – 

1.  Clean /wash the spring onions and separate the bulb from the green tops. It is easier to cut this way. Now chop them fine and keep aside. Prefer fresh spring onions which have long, deep green slender tops and medium size bulb. Avoid the ones that are slimy or wilting.

2. Put a skillet pan or wok on high flame. I use iron kadhai for making this. Once the kadhai is hot turn the flame to medium and add mustard oil. Bring it to smoking point and turn the flame low. It is important to smoke mustard oil.

3. Add asafoitida, cumin seeds and whole red chili (some people add garlic too. I don’t). Once the seeds start to crackle add the chopped spring onions and give it a stir.

4. Add salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder and stir. put the lid and let it cook till the onions become soft.

5. Open the lid and sprinkle chickpea flour or besan over the spring onions. Don’t dry the liquid from the vegetable. It will keep the zhunka soft yet crisp. Keep mixing the flour to avoid lumps. The proportion is different from person to person. I add enough to coat the spring onions in a thick coat. The traditional recipe calls for the chickpea flour to be mixed in water and then added. I prefer the taste of this one.

6. Increase the flame to medium -high and cook it covered for 5 minutes then uncovered till the flour (besan) browns nicely. Stir the vegetable so that it browns properly as in the picture. Some people like it dry but I love the softness and add besan accordingly.

7. Again lower the heat and cook it covered for 5 minutes before turning off the heat.

Your fragrant zhunka is ready to be served with the bhakar.

 

To make the Bhakar or bhakri  you will need :

Ingredients –

Bajra flour – 2 cup

Hot water – as needed for kneading

salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Method :

Making flat unleavened bread with these grains is a tad bit tough and needs a little practice.

  1. Take out two cups of bajra flour in a parat or any other broad utensil. Add salt to it.
  2. Heat some water beforehand. Make a well in the middle of the bajra flour and slowly add water to it. Knead it as you gather the flour with your fingers. First it will be crumbly but slowly it will begin to bind. Go easy on water or you will have a mess in your hands. The dough needs little water.
  3. Knead the dough with your fist and palm properly for 5-7 minutes till you get a soft dough.
  4. Drizzle a little oil if you wish to avoid the skin to form on the dough. I keep it covered with a moist cloth.
  5. Heat the tawa/griddle on medium flame while you divide the dough in equal size balls. The size depends on how big you want your bhakri to be.
  6. Now, sprinkle some dry flour in the parat and flatten the ball with your palm. Keep flattening till it is round in shape. Wet your hands or sprinkle some dry flour if it sticks. You can do it on the rolling board or chakla too. I make it by patting in between my palms but that needs practice.
  7. Another easier way is to put the ball in a zip-lock bag and use the rolling pin to make a round bhakri. It always works well. You can apply a bit of oil before starting the process.
  8. Once the bhakri is made, gently transfer it to the tawa/ griddle. When the upper surface become dry and puffs up in places, apply a little water to the surface and flip. Your bhakri will have brown spots on the other side. Let it cook and flip again. Cook again for a few seconds. Keep the heat low-medium.
  9. Once the bhakri is browned from both sides, take it off the tawa and cook on direct flame for a few seconds with the help of tongs/chimta.
  10. If you are cooking the bhakri on hot plate or cant use tongs then press the bhakri with a cloth or flat wooden spoon on both sides alternately to fluff it.
  11. Apply ghee / butter and eat it with whatever pleases you.

The bhakris in the photographs aren’t very round as I made them by flattening them between hands. Still don’t get them right many times. :p

You can make bhakri with any flour using this method. I even make makki ki roti or corn flour flat bread like this.

Enjoy this hearty meal any time of the day for good health and soak in the flavors of rustic nutritious food.

 

I made one extra bhakri to eat with the Organic jaggery and ghee ( clarified butter) . Nothing to beat that on a winter afternoon. This is what good food is all about.

 

I make laddoos from jowar/ ragi and  bajra too. Try them.

Make these two very traditional vegetables to eat with the bhakri.

Rustic meals are unrefined, simple, healthy, warm and inviting. Include millet in your daily meals and stay healthy.