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Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Vanilla Panna Cotta

Summer vacations are synonymous with hungry kids who are always on the lookout for a tasty bite or two. But too much of packaged products are a strict no-no with the copious amount of preservatives and additives going into them. Making those traditional delicacies by following grandma's recipes and slogging it out in the kitchen in the sweltering heat does not seem practical either.

A basic Vanilla Panna Cotta, an Italian delicacy, is one such recipe that calls for minimal time and effort. Moreover it goes well with fruit and kids gets a healthy dose of vitamins along with the goodness of milk and cream. Other easy summer snacks options can be sandwiches that can be whipped up in less than 10 mins or fruit chaat or loads of fruity milkshakes ( you will find lots of recipes on my blog else drop me a comment and I will be happy to reply ).

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cup cream (I use Amul fresh cream or Milky mist fresh cream)
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 1/2 tbsp sugar ( i prefer a little less but you can add more as per taste )
  • 2 1/2 tsp ( level ) powdered gelatin 
  • 1 vanilla pod

Cooking - Take the milk and cream in a saucepan. Using a knife, slice the vanilla pod and scrape the insides. Add the insides as well as the vanilla pod to the saucepan. Place it on a low flame and just bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir till it dissolves. Simmer for another 2 mins.

Remove from the flame. Keep aside for 5 mins and them remove the Vanilla pod.

Take the gelatin powder in a steel bowl. Add 2 tbsp hot water to it and stir. Then place the bowl in hot water and stir till the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Stir the gelatin into the milk and cream mixture. Allow the mixture to cool down further before pouring into molds or small glasses ( lightly butter the molds or glasses so that de-molding will become easier ).

Refrigerate for 4-5 hours before serving.

Note - Serve the Panna cotta with a topping of chocolate sauce or fruit crush. Goes great with fresh figs, strawberries or any other berries too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fruity Khira ( Ricotta Cheese Pudding with assorted fruits )

Easter is around the corner and a lot of folks would be meticulously working on a mouth watering spread for that special lunch /dinner with friends and family. While there are a lot of traditional favorites for the occasion, an unusual dish is always a welcome addition to the menu. Leave aside the usual puddings and cakes for something wonderfully delightful. A pudding made with ricotta cheese and served with assorted seasonal fruits can add zing to even the most boring conversations that sometime follow a lunch or dinner!!

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time -

Ingredients -

  • 1.5 litres whole milk ( or 1 liter milk and 2/3 cup Ricotta cheese )
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk
  • 7-8 cashews
  • 2 tbsp pistachio flakes
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • a pinch of saffron 
  • 1/2 tsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 cups assorted fruits ( Fig, Kiwi, Apple, Pineapple, Watermelon, Grapes )

Preparation - Dilute the vinegar with 2 tbsp water.

Cooking - Boil 1/2 litre of milk in a pan. When it comes to full boil, add the diluted vinegar. Boil for another 4-5 minutes so that the chenna/ricotta cheese ( solid portion of the milk) clearly separates from the remaining liquid. Drain the liquid. Wash the chenna/ricotta cheese under running water to remove traces of vinegar. Squeeze out the remaining liquid from the chenna/ricotta cheese. Allow it to cool down.

Heat a little ghee on a pan. Fry the cashews to a golden shade. Remove from pan and keep aside.
Add the pistachio flakes to the same pan and lightly fry for 30 seconds. Remove from pan.

Cooking: Heat a thick bottomed wok. Add the remaining milk and bring to a boil. Allow it to reduce to half the original volume.

Then add condensed milk, saffron strands, sugar and fried cashews. Let it simmer for 10 mins before you add the chenna/ricotta cheese.

Keep stirring at regular intervals till the mixture becomes thick ( 'rabdi' like consistency ), Add the pistachio flakes, remove from the flame and keep aside.

Allow it to chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours before serving.

Take the chopped fruits in a bowl and drizzle the khira/ricotta cheese pudding generously all over it. Dig in !!!

Note - Khira is traditionally prepared as a offering in the Puri Jaganaath Temple of Odisha. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I am back from a family wedding and in dire need of a mental detox. Even before the celebrations were over, my 'Hum saath saath hain' types extended family was coming apart at the seams. Not to be content with bitching behind each others back, some of them were having a field day hurling accusations at each other. And that too in full public view or hearing ( with the latter having a more damning effect). If one was ever in doubt as to why those ladies steal all the screen time in those silly soaps, the drama unfolding before my very eyes was proof enough to show that the weaker sex calls the shots on the domestic front. When they are not fretting over someone else's saree or jewelry, these women focus their energies on jacking up their position in the pecking list of a favorably disposed relative.

I am lucky that none of them have the slightest inclination in reading my blogs or else I wont be here pouring out my heart to you folks. This is my first recipe after a break and I am sharing a sweet that is a childhood favorite of mine. Thought of sharing this on Holi but could not find the time as was busy in the arrangements of the wedding. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 40-50 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup chenna (home made paneer)
  • 1/2 cup milk powder
  • 1 tbsp maida
  • 1 tbsp semolina
  • 2-3 pinch cardamom powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 11/2 cup water
  • Oil for deep frying

Preparation - Gather the chenna in a cheese cloth and tie it up. Allow to hang for 1 hour so that the excess water is drained off. Take it on a clean kitchen platform and mash it with the heel of your palm for 3-4 mins.

Add the milk powder, maida, semolina and cardamom powder to the chenna . Mix everything into a smooth dough. Knead this dough for another 5 mins. Keep aside for 10 mins.

Take the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 7-8 mins till the syrup reaches a medium consistency.

Heat the oil in a wok. Break small portions from the dough and shape each one into a smooth cylindrical shape. Ensure that there are no cracks.

Drop 3-4 pieces into the hot oil at a time and fry on a low temperature. Once they become brown uniformly, remove from the oil and place them in the sugar syrup. 

Bring the already hot sugar syrup to boil for 1 minute. Switch off the flame and allow the 'Lamchas' to soak for a minimum of 30 mins.

Serve warm.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Angoori Rabdi (And a Happy Valentine's Day!!)

'Angoori Rabdi' or 'chenna'/ricotta cheese' balls soaked in flavored thickened milk can be called as a distant cousin of the Bengali dish 'Rasmalai'.  However it is made richer by the addition of almonds, kesar and pista. Though it takes time to prepare the chenna and reduce the milk,  this is one dish which can truly qualify as a labor of love !!

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 2 litres whole milk
  • 3-4 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp maida /all purpose flour
  • 4-5 tbsp chopped almonds
  • 3-4 tbsp pista
  • 1/2 tsp gulkand
  • 1-2 pandan leaves / kewda
  • 2 cups sugar + 3 tbsp
  • 3 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 pinch saffon strands
  • 2 pinch cardamom powder

Preparation - Bring half of the milk to boil in a saucepan. Do not let it boil for more than 4-5 mins.

Dilute the vinegar with equal amount of water and add to the milk. This should be sufficient to separate the cheena from the green colored water. However if the water still looks milky, add some some water-vinegar mix. Once all the chenna is separated, add a few ice cubes and 2-3 cup water to the saucepan. This prevents the chenna from cooking further.

Strain all the chenna and wash it under running water to remove any traces of vinegar. Gather it in a piece of cheesecloth/muslin and hang for 20-30 mins to remove excess water.

Transfer to a plate. Knead it with the heel of your palms for 10 mins to get a uniform mixture. Add the maida at this stage and knead for another 5-6 mins.

Divide into 25-30 lumps and shape each into a smooth ball with no visible cracks on the surface.

Add the 2 cups sugar along with 5 cups water to a pressure cooker. Let it boil for 5 mins before adding the chenna balls. Close the lid and cook for 25-30 mins. Remove from the flame and allow to cool down to room temperature.

Boil the remaining milk along with the pandan leaves in a wok till it reduces to half. Add the sugar, saffron, cardamom powder, condensed milk and half of the dry fruits. Simmer for 2-3 mins before adding the chenna balls (squeeze them with light fingers to remove excess sugar solution before adding to the rabdi) and the Gulkand. Switch off the flame.

Allow to cool down before putting into the refrigerator. Garnish with a few strands of saffron, rose petals and more chopped cashews/almonds.

Serve chilled.

Click here for rasmalai recipe !!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Puddina ( Maltese Bread Pudding )

Gooey, moist and loaded with cocoa and dry fruits, this Maltese bread pudding had got a very festive  feel to it. And that is what makes it a perfect dessert for a Valentine's day dinner.

When I made this recipe, I was in a hurry. I did not have time to soak the bread and hence it could not pick enough moisture. Also I had set the timer for 45 mins and did not check in between. So, it cracked up due to loss of moisture which made for a sorry sight. Else, it turned out perfectly delicious.

Without much ado, read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 of a bread loaf (thick and crusty is better)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cherries
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3-4 tbsp whisky/rum/sherry (optional)

Preparation - Tear up the bread into small pieces and soak them in water for 30 mins. Drain and squeeze out all the water and mash it up in a big bowl.

Add sugar, cornflour, custard powder, cocoa, cherries, sultanas, cashews, almonds, whisky/sherry and vanilla essence to the bowl (keep aside some of the cherries and dry fruits for decorating). Break the egg into the bowl. Mix up everything.

Cooking - Pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees celcius for 10 mins.

Pour the pudding mixture into a baking tray. Decorate with cherries and dry fruits.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 34-45 mins or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool down.

Cut into generous pieces and serve.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dilli-wala Gajar ka Halwa (North Indian treat)

My earliest memory of making 'Gajar ka Halwa' dates back to the 6th or the 7th standard when i used to help my Mom with grating the carrots and stirring the mixture at regular intervals. However it was only after I got married that I started to manage the entire process all by myself. And I took to experimenting with different methods and playing around the ingredients, sometimes with great results and at other times, not so good.

But sometime during my pregnancy, my husband asked one of his colleagues to get some special 'Dilli-wala' stuff on one of the latter's Gurgaon trips. And I was hooked. It was the best 'gajar-ka-halwa' I have ever had. True it was loaded with calories but still it awesome and I could not just stop at one. So, my husband had to request other folks flying to Delhi to get some for me everytime. It was one of the very few thing that I craved for during my pregnancy.

I badly wanted to replicate the taste in my kitchen and consulted various folks. But somehow the results disappointed me. And then I decided to go by what I had seen on one of the TV shows. It was a very long time back so I do not remember anything about the channel, anchor or show. Just that it was somewhere in Delhi and a 'halwai' was sharing some pearls of wisdom with the anchor who looked more eager to dig into the stuff rather than in picking up the finer nuances of making the dish.
The results were astonishing and I could not believe that I had just perfected this North India delicacy.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 150 mins

Ingredients -

  • 750 gms Delhi carrot (the red variety)
  • 1.5 liters milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened khoya
  • 3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2/3 cup cashews

Preparation -

Wash & peel the carrots. Grate them using a medium/thick grater . (I used the inner side of the Tupperware Handy grater). If you make it too fine, it will almost turn into a paste and the texture of halwa will be spoiled.

Fry the cashews in ghee and keep aside.

Cooking - Boil the milk in a big non-stick vessel. Add the grated carrots and boil on a low flame. Keep stirring at times. Once the carrots seem to be softened (takes about 60-75 mins), turn up the flame to a medium to quicken the process. Or you can continue doing this on a low flame but it will take longer.

Once the milk has almost evaporated, add the sugar. This will again make the mixture more liquid. Continue to cook till the liquid evaporates (20-25 mins) and the mixture reddens in color.

Then add the ghee, crumbled khoya, fried cashews and cardamom powder. Cook for 5-6 minutes before removing from the flame. (Remember to take it off the flame while it is a little liquid as compared to the desired consistency as it will solidify on cooling.)

Serve warm/cold.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lauki ka Halwa ( Doodhi ka Halwa )

As a kid I used to wonder aloud about the the perceptible change in the atmosphere during the Puja (Dusshera) season. The slight nip in the air was accompanied with a divine fragrance as if someone had made it a daily ritual of emptying a lot may bottles of perfume all around us during the evenings. Even the nights grew more and more silent. My grandmother who was adept at spinning tales would explain that it was the harbinger of the arrival of Maa and other gods. And she would further support her theory with the argument that the gods and goddesses who were adorned with the heavenly blossoms were the ones responsible for the aura. For years I believed her before reasoning got the better of me and I could attribute the aura to a combination of factors like the cooling of the atmosphere, the steadily dropping humidity levels and the blossoming of a variety of winter blooms. Even the cacophony of the insects which peaked during the monsoons, was slowing fading away as the approaching winter forced most of them into hibernation.

Ever since I moved out of my native, I really miss the Dusshera festivities and also the run-up to the actual event. The shopping for new clothes, watching the idols shaping up, the Pandals being put into place and drawing up the itinerary to cover the maximum number of pandals during those five days would sometimes be even more fun than the actual Pandal hopping. And ofcourse, there was the mandatory 'mela' (fair) and the au rigueur joy-rides which was on every kid's bucket list. At times, growing up is no fun.

Unlike some other parts of India, people in Odisha do not keep as nine day partial fast during Durga Puja. There is the mandatory Ashtami Vrat and some also keep the Navami Vrat but no more. Onion and garlic are prohibited on these two days and people usually prefer to consume Khichdi/ rice and dalma/ puri-alu dum etc apart from fruits. But for people who follow the 'navratri fasting' quite rigorously, it is nine days of subsisting on 'phalahar' or a plant based diet. There are a number of dishes which are religiously prepared during this period. One of them happens to be the 'lauki ka halwa' or bottlegourd halwa. Read on for the recipe -

(For more Navaratri recipes, click HERE)

Preparation Time - 30-35 mins (less if you use a food processor to grate the lauki)

Ingredients -

500 gm lauki/bottle gourd
2 cup milk
2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup milk powder
3-4 tsp sugar
2 green cardamoms (powdered)
a few strands of saffron
1 1/2 tsp ghee
7-8 cashews
12-15 raisins

Preparation - Peel the gourd and chop into big pieces. Grate coarsely leaving aside the center portion containing the seeds.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a wok. Add the raisins and cashews. Fry for 30-40 seconds before removing from wok.

Add the grated bottle gourd to the wok. Fry on medium high till much of the water evaporates and it starts to turn light brown.

Add the milk and bring it to a boil. Cover with a lid. Allow it to cook on low flame for 6-7 minutes. The bottle gourd would be cooked by this time. If not, cover it again for 3-4 mins.

Finally add sugar, milk powder, condensed milk, cardamom powder and saffron strands. Cook till most of the water evaporates. Add the fried cashews and raisins.

Serve at room temperature or even chilled.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jalebi with Rabdi

Sometime back I tried my hands at making Jalebi. Now I always had an idea that it would be very tough to prepare it . But it was quite easy and I was surprised at the results. Though I struggled a bit to get the shapes right, the taste was awesome.

I paired it with rabdi or 'thickened milk' which is a classic combination in North India. The creamy chilled rabdi goes very well with the crunchy hot jalebis. Though it takes a bit of time to get both ready, one can make the rabdi a day or two in advance to save oneself from too much trouble within the span of a single day.

Actually was planning to make some 'jalebis' today for my son. That's when I remembered that the post is long pending. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour 20 mins (approx)

Ingredients -

For the Jalebi -

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1/3 cup gram flour (besan)
  • 4 tsp cornflour 
  • 3/4 cup yogurt 
  • 1/5 tsp baking powder 
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1 1/2 tbsp warm milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice bran oil
  • oil for deep frying

For the Sugar syrup -

  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 2-3 drops orange food color

For the Rabdi -

2 1/2 cup full cream milk
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
sugar as per taste
2 tsp finely chopped nuts
a pinch of saffron
a pinch of cardamom powder

Preparation - Soak the saffron strands in warm milk for 20 mins. Rub with you fingers. Add to a mixing bowl along with the rest of the ingredients ( except baking powder ) listed under 'For the jalebi'. Add a little water at a time and mix using a hand blender. The consistency should be thick .

Allow to ferment overnight or still more in a cold climate . The baking powder goes in 20 mins before the jalebis are made.

Cooking - Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan for making the sugar syrup. Boil for 8-10 mins or till 1 string consistency is reached. Add the food color and saffron. Keep aside and ensure that it stays warm to touch.

Heat oil in a shallow vessel. Take the jalebi batter in a piping bag or a cloth with a small hole in the center.
Holding the tip just above the oil, pipe out into circular shapes starting from center, make 2-3 circles (or more if you can manage) and close the end at the last circle. Apply uniform pressure while piping the batter.

Fry on medium heat on both sides till golden and crisp. Transfer from the hot oil straight to the warm sugar syrup. Allow to soak for 1-2 mins before removing it to a plate.

Heat the milk in a thick bottomed saucepan for making the rabdi. Bring to boil on low to medium heat and allow to reduce to 1/3. Stir in the condensed milk and sugar and remove from flame after 2-3 mins. Add the saffron, cardamom powder and toasted nuts. Keep aside till it comes to room temperature. Then pop it in the fridge (not freezer) for 1 hour. ( This rabdi is not very thick

Pour out the chilled rabdi into pint sized glasses and place the warm jalebis over it. Garnish with a few saffron strands and nuts if desired. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Shrikhand is a simple yet easy to make and good to eat Indian dessert. By using a low calorie yogurt and substituting Sugarfree/Splenda for sugar, it can be transformed into a low calorie delight. One can also add fruit puree to it. Also it happens to be one of Bal gopal's favorites.

Read on for this recipe which is also offered as prasad/neivaidyam on the occasion of Janmasthami-

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup hung curd
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • a pinch of cardamom powder
  • a few nuts
  • 3-4 strands of saffron
  • 1 tbsp warm milk
  • 1-2 drops rose water/kewda water (optional)

Preparation - Soak the saffron in the milk for 10 mins.

Transfer all ingredients (except nuts) to a blender. Buzz to get a smooth paste.

Garnish with the chopped nuts and serve chilled.

Note - I personally prefer to make shrikhand with a day old yogurt so that it has just a hint of sourness. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chuda Kadamba ( Avalakki/Poha Laddoo )

Chuda santula (Poha). Chuda Kadali Chakta. Chuda khera. Chuda payas. While there are many ways of consuming beaten rice ( or 'Chuda') in  Odisha, I came across this one very recently. 'Chuda Kadamba' or laddoos made of powdered beaten rice are not only easy to make, they taste great and are super healthy too!! They do sound like manna from heaven for folks on a strict diet regimen ( one can cut down on the quantity of ghee by half and use skim milk instead ) .

I was inspired to make this for my kid who is on a snacking spree these days. Store bought stuff can be unhealthy at times ( MSG, too much sugar, artificial sweeteners) and he is always looking for more variety. Hence I tried these laddoos which did not call for much effort and are low on white/refined sugar too !!! While I have added some cashews and raisins to my version but one can also omit the same. Read on for the quick recipe -

Preparation time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups thin poha/chuda (beaten rice)
  • 5 tsp brown sugar/jaggery
  • 2 green cardamoms (powdered)
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated coconut
  • 4-5 tsp warm milk ( or as needed for binding )
  • a pinch of edible camphor (optional)
  • 3-4 tbsp broken cashews (optional)
  • 2 tbsp raisins (optional)

Preparation - Heat 1/2 tsp ghee in a pan. Add the cashews and raisins and fry for 10-15 seconds. Keep aside to cool down.

Grind the beaten rice to a fine powder.

Next add the cardamom and brown sugar/jaggery to the same blender jar and buzz till mixed.

Add freshly grated coconut, ghee, fried cashews and buzz for 1-2 seconds.

Finally add the milk little by little and give it a buzz. All the ingredients should come together like a dough. If not add more milk by the teaspoon ( be careful at this stage ).

Rub ghee on your hands, take a little of the mixture and try to form a ball/laddoo. If it is binding well, remove the mixture from blender jar into a mixing bowl else add more milk . Add raisins and camphor. Mix well.

Make into small balls. Pop into the fridge for a few hours. Keep refrigerated and consume with 2-3 days.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Shakarkand ka halwa (sweet potato halwa)

Shakarkand or sweet potato is a rich source of fiber with almost twice as much fiber as compared to other potato varieties. Thus they are digested slowly and do not spike sugar levels as is the popular belief. Also they are rich in Beta-carotene, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. They are also loaded with manganese. All there nutrients make it good for the heart/arteries, regulating sugar levels and ofcourse a low-cost 'beauty food'. Yup, it is the combination of Beta-carotene, Vitamins C and E which go into the making of the beauty capsules for hair, skin and nails.

I like to have boiled sweet potato as an evening snack at times or even make it into a sweet-sour gravy. But very recently that I go to know that it can be made into a delicious halwa. This is Tarla Dalal's recipe which I have followed with some minor changes. This halwa is also consumed on fasting days especially during the ongoing Shravan month.

Preparation time - 20 mins ( including 10 mins standby )

Ingredients -

  • 1 medium sized sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp ghee
  • 2-3 tsp chopped dry fruits ( almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts )
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 3 tsp sugar ( or to taste...I prefer less )

Preparation -  Wash and clean the sweet potato. Boil in a pressure cooker ( with 1 cup water )for 3-4 whistles . Keep aside till steam escapes. Peel and grate it.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a wok. Add the nuts and fry for a minute. Remove and keep aside.
Add the grated sweet potato and fry till it is a little brown.

Add the milk, saffron and sugar at this stage. Mix till the milk is absorbed and it forms a creamy mixture. It should start leaving the sides of the wok once it is done. Finally add the nuts and remove from flame.

Garnish with a few strands of saffron and nuts. Serve hot or cold ( both taste good ).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shahi Tukda

A few days back I had posted the recipe for 'Double ka Meetha'. And quite a few people came back asking for the difference between the former and 'Shahi Tukda'. I would say that both have quite a few similarities but have originated from different regions/cultures. 'Shahi Tukda' is the more royal one of the two, soaked up in delicately flavored 'rabdi' or condensed milk and showered with toasted nuts.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 25-35 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 thick slices of white bread
  • 2 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter
  • a few strands of saffron
  • nuts for garnishing
  • 4-5 drops of rose essence/syrup (optional)

Cooking - Take the bread and cut off the sides. (This is optional and i usually do not do it) Cut each bread slice into two triangles. 

Heat a pan. Place the bread slices on it and toast for 2 mins. Flip over and apply a little butter on the browned side. Toast the other side for another 2 mins and flip over. Apply a little butter on this side as well.
Remove and keep aside.

Heat 1/2 tsp butter in a pan and add the nuts. Toast for 1 minute or so.

In another saucepan, add the milk. Boil on low to medium flame with regular stirring in between till it reduces to 1/3rd. Add sugar and condensed milk. Simmer for 1 min. Add the saffron strands and the toasted nuts, and keep aside till it cools down a bit.

Lay the toasted bread slices side by side on a plate. Pour the thickened milk all over the slices and some extra too.

Garnish with more nuts and serve warm. (Or you can pop it in the fridge for 20 mins or so as I prefer it.)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Double ka Meetha

I tasted it for the first time when I had moved to Hyderabad sometime during 2006. 'It is just fried bread dipped in sugar syrup', I had exclaimed. But with passing time it slowly grew on me as did the city. While the sugar syrup version is quite common, most good restaurants soak the bread in a flavorsome 'rabdi' and garnish it generously with nuts. Very popular during iftar , it is a breeze to make unlike most of the Ramzan special dishes which require lots of time and effort

Read on for my version of this timeless Nizami dessert. Made it specially for Ramzan -

Preparation Time - 10 mins ( plus extra time for soaking )

Ingredients -

  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter
  • 1 green cardamom
  • a few strands of saffron
  • nuts for garnishing

Cooking - Take the bread and cut off the sides. (This is optional and i usually do not do it) Cut each bread slice into two triangles. 

Heat a pan. Place the bread slices on it and toast for 2 mins. Flip over and apply a little butter on the browned side. Toast the other side for another 2 mins and flip over. Apply a little butter on this side as well.

Remove and keep aside.

Meanwhile take and water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for 3-4 mins. Add the crushed cardamom. Keep aside.

In another saucepan, add the milk and the condensed milk. Dissolve and bring to boil. Simmer for 3 mins. Add the saffron strands and keep aside.

Fry the nuts in a little ghee and keep aside.

Lay the bread slices side by side on a plate. Pour a little of the milk all over the slices and wait for 2-3 mins till completely absorbed. Next pour a little sugar syrup over the slices. Wait for 3-4 mins till it gets absorbed.

Repeat the process 2-3 times till you can see that the bread is no longer absorbing any liquid.

Keep it for 1-2 hours in the fridge before serving. 

Remove from the fridge and garnish with roasted nuts just before serving.

Note - Keep aside some of the saffron flavored milk and drizzle a few teaspoons over the bread just before serving.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chocolate-Gajar Halwa-Gulkand Truffles

I find working with chocolate a bit intimidating. Hence one will rarely find experimenting with chocolate recipes on my blog. But I do look at the posts put up by my fellow bloggers and dream of doing something like them someday. Finally, it was a contest that propelled me to try something new with chocolate.

While I been eyeing Chocolate truffles recipes in all kind of forms, from the simple ganache ones to the ones containing liquor, I wanted to try an Indian version. That is when i got the idea to use 'Gajar Halwa' inside the truffles. But it seemed a bit too simple. Wanted to add another dimension so went for a white chocolate core with 'gulkand' infused in it. The outer layering is made with dark chocolate. It was time consuming but loved the results (especially the white chocolate-gulkand core which was quite a revelation). Even my husband (who is not much of a chocolate person) quite liked it.

This is my entry for the 'Chocolate Girl' contest launched by Shoppal, one of India's leading coupon shop. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour 15 mins ( the gajar halwa itself takes up around 45-55 mins )

Ingredients -

For the Gajar Halwa -

4 small carrots (grated)
1 1/2 cup whole milk
4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp khoya
a pinch of cardamom powder
2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the inner white chocolate core -

5-6 tbsp white choco chips
1 tsp gulkand

For the outer layer -

40 gm dark chocolate chips
2-3 tsp grated white chocolate
2-3 tsp grated chocolate ( i used Cadbury's Dairy milk)

Butter/shortening for greasing the hands

Preparation -

For Gajar Halwa -
Heat the butter in a frying pan/wok. Add the grated carrot and fry on medium flame for 7-8 mins.

Around the same time, boil the milk separately. Allow it to reduce to 3/4 th. Then add the fried carrot and cook till the water has almost evaporated and it starts to looks lumpy.

Add condensed milk, khoya and cardamom powder to it and mix well. Cook till it almost turns into a solid mass. This will further solidify on cooling.

Remove from flame and allow to come down to room temperature before you pop it into the fridge.

Assembling the truffles -

For the inner core -

Put a bowl on double boiler. Add the white choco chips and allow them to just melt. Switch off flame.

Add the gulkand and stir it to incorporate it uniformly. Keep it aside till it starts to solidify again.

Rub shortening on hands. Pinch small portions of white chocolate and shape them into smooth balls about the size of a hazelnut.

For the middle layer -

Take a lemon sized ball of gajar halwa. Spread it into a thin layer on your palm. Place the white chocolate ball in the middle and close it from all sides. Using gentle pressure, mould it into a smooth round shape.

Keep these in the fridge for 2-3 hours to allow the gajar halwa layer to firm up.

For the outer layer -

Put a bowl on double boiler. Add the dark choco chips and allow them to melt. Stir a bit till they turn into a dark liquid. Switch off flame.

Remove the balls from the fridge and dip into the melted chocolate one by one, coating each one uniformly. Keep aside on a greased and chilled plate.

Spread the grated chocolate ( both white and regular ) on a plate.

Roll each ball over the grated chocolate to form a uniform coating. The truffles are now ready.

Serve immediately or store upto 3-4 days in a airtight container in the fridge.

( Note - If the gajar halwa has more water content/moisture, then the truffles gets spoiled too soon )

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fruit Halwa

Apples and Bananas. Most kids love them. So why not use the flavors (and the goodness) of these fruits to transform a regular halwa into something rather special. Quite easy to make, it adds the right amount of zing to your child's meal. Garnish it in a fun manner and even the most picky of children will come back asking for more.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup semolina/suji,
  • 3-4 tbsp apple puree
  • 1 ripe banana (mashed but with a few chunks left)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tsp ghee

Cooking - Heat a frying pan. Add 1 tsp ghee. Roast the semolina on the pan till it darkens in color. Remove and keep aside.

Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wok. Add the mashed banana and apple puree and cook for a 3-4 minutes.

Boil the water and apple juice in a separate pan/wok. Add sugar and roasted semolina to it. After 1 minute add the apple-banana mixture and mix in.

Stir the contents for 3-4 minutes on a low to medium flame till a viscous mixture is formed (this will harden further on cooling). Stir in the remaining ghee.

Allow to cool down slightly and then fill into molds. Remove from mold when ready to serve.

Serve warm or chilled. (Garnish with sliced fruits if desired.)

Note - One can try this with other fruits like pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, mango, etc. But some fruits lose a bit of their flavor while coking so do add a little essence/juice to make up for it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pal Payasam

A yummy payasam 'rice pudding' recipe from Tamil Nadu. Made on auspicious occasions like Gokulasthami, it takes hours to get it right when done in the traditional method. And the added danger in this method it that one cannot leave it unattended as the rice and milk mixture tends to catch/burn easily.

I felt that this one is very close in preparation method to the 'Bhaja Chaula Kheeri'. However, people in Odisha usually add some sugar in the beginning which gets caramelized and adds a distinct flavor to the kheer. Also, it it more fluid as compared to the Kheer made in Odisha or in the North. And the rice grains in payasam remain conspicuous  in comparison to kheer wherein the grains almost melt and become indistinguishable. ( I tend to remember the last bit in a very clear manner as it had led to an embarrassing situation. One of my Tamil neighbors had offered me some still hot kheer and i promptly blurted out after tasting it ." G...,I think it needs to be cooked for some more time. Did you switch off the gas because the baby woke up ??", I said. It was a bit awkward as she stared at my face. It took some explanation from her side to make me realize what payasam would actually taste/appear like.

Read on  -

Preparation Time - 40-50 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 liter full cream milk
  • 1/4 cup basmati rice or any fragrant rice ( I have used Seeraga Samba rice )
  • 1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup condensed milk
  • 2-3 green cardamoms (crushed)
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • few cashews
  • few raisins

Preparation - Wash and soak the rice for 1 hour. Strain through a thin cloth to drain off excess water .

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a thick bottomed vessel. Add cashews and raisins. As the raisins swell up, remove and keep aside. Next add the rice and fry till fragrant. Switch off the flame.

Add about 1 1/2 cup of milk to a pressure cooker and stir in the rice. Switch on the flame. Cook on low till the rice gets cooked (3-4 whistles).

While the rice is being cooked, boil and reduce the remaining milk to half in a separate vessel.

Add the reduced milk to the rice, stir in sugar, crushed cardamoms, cashews and raisins. Cook for another 6-7 minutes. (DO NOT LEAVE IT UNATTENDED AT THIS STAGE)

Finally stir in the condensed milk and switch off the flame. Allow it to cool down a bit before serving (It can also be served chilled).

Garnish with some cashews and serve.

Note - Use of condensed milk is optional but it gives a nice texture and richness to the payasam. (And if you have wondering why it takes 3-4 whistles to cook the rice, cooking with milk takes a little longer when compared to cooking with water.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chocolate Kheer

Time for some sweet indulgences!!! This time I decided to add some molten dark chocolate to my usual rice kheer. Added a new dimension to a classic recipe but changed the color to a dark brown which seemed odd for a kheer. I love the nutty brown color too much. Maybe I will try this next tie with some white chocolate.

Read on -

Preparation Time - 1 hour 15 mins

  • Fragrant rice ( 1/2 cup )
  • milk ( 1 litre )
  • ghee ( 3 tsp )
  • sugar ( 2-3 tbs )
  • cashews/almonds ( 1/2 cup )
  • cardamon ( 2 nos )
  • condensed milk ( 1/2 cup )
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate cubes ( or 4 tbsp of cocoa powder )

Cooking: Wash the rice and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add 1/4 of the milk, ghee ,sugar and salt. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 whistles. Remove from fire and allow to cool down slightly.

Boil the milk separately. Fry the cashews and keep aside.

Transfer the contents of the pressure cooker to a wok. Add boiling milk and cashews. Allow the milk to boil till it thickens ( Takes about 1 hour ).

Meanwhile melt the chocolate cubes in a double boiler.

Add cardamon powder and condensed milk to the kheer. Cook for 2-3 more mins. Remove from the flame and keep aside.

Stir in the liquid chocolate while the kheer is still hot. Pop it into the fridge once the temperature comes down sufficiently.

Drizzle with some white chocolate sauce and serve. (Tastes best when chilled)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paan Kulfi

A must try for all those who love their 'Meetha Paan', this one is a sheer delight for the senses. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup khoya
  • 5-6 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Gulkand
  • 1/3 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 pinch cardamom
  • 1 big betel leaf (sweet/mild variety)
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour + 2 tbsp cold milk (optional)

Preparation - Grind the betel leaf and fennel seeds with a little milk. Do not make a very fine paste.

Dissolve the cornflour in cold milk and keep aside.

Cooking - Bring the milk to boil in a thick bottomed saucepan. Dissolve the sugar in it.

Add the khoya and condensed milk. Keep stirring till khoya completely dissolves.

Check if the milk has thickened sufficiently. If not add the cornflour slurry. Stir continuously on a medium flame till the mixture has thickened. Switch off the burner.

Add the gulkand and the betel leaf-fennel mixture into it. Mix well.

Strain the mixture to remove any coarse particles. (Though this is optional, I wanted this kulfi to have a melt-in-the-mouth texture)

Allow to cool down and them pour into kulfi molds.

Screw on the tops and then put in the fridge for 6-7 hours.

Remove from the fridge and dip in water. Now rub the mold between your palms and take off the lid. Turn it over a plate and tap gently to remove the kulfi fom the mold. (If it is not coming out, use a sharp object to ease it out)

Serve immediately.

Note: Immerse the molds in water before pouring in the kulfi. This will help to remove it easily.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roasted Rice Kheer (Bhaja Chaula Khiri)

Whether be it the 'Khai anjula' during the marriage ceremony, the griha pravesh of the new bride or the first time she lights the hearth, rice is considered to be an indispensable part of the Hindu marriage rituals. That is because it symbolizes prosperity and the new bride as the 'Lakshmi' or Goddess of prosperity is supposed to bring in loads of good fortune and money to her husband's family. Little wonder that the rice kheer occupies a very important position in most religious ceremonies. As a new bride, I too prepared the rice kheer with much trepidation ( and quite a bit of help ) as a part of the first meal at my in-laws home. And since then, I have quite mastered the technique of getting it just right.

So, on my last trip to Odisha, I had prepared Kheer on popular demand and it turned out to be a hit ( no surprises here ). But when one of the guests who sampled it asked me whether I had roasted the rice before making the dish, I was stumped. So I called up my Mom and asked if she knew the recipe for 'Bhaja Chaula kheeri'. Turned out that she was aware of it even though she never made it that way. Not much different from my usual method, this just required roasting the rice for a few minutes before adding it to the milk. But it gives a different taste and the rice grains remain a bit more chewy/firm in this version. (Check out the other version : Here)

Have used khoya and condensed milk to reduce cooking time. But you can actually use reduced milk or best cook the rice grains with milk till it reduces to about 1/4 th of the original volume for that authentic flavour.

Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 45-50 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1/2 liter milk
  • 1/3 cup soaked rice ( Jeera rice or Gobindobhog rice )
  • 3/4 cup khoya
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tbsp sugar ( I prefer medium sweet, but you can add a little more )
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1-2 green cardamoms
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 liter full cream milk
  • 1/3 cup soaked rice ( Basmati rice )
  • 1/2 cup sugar ( medium sweetness )
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds ( peeled ones )
  • 1-2 green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp ghee

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Add a little crushed cardamoms and the soaked rice. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes.

Add 2 tsp sugar and stir at intervals. Allow it to just start caramelizing (check pic below) so that we get a lovely buff colored kheer.

Add 1/3 cup water, 1 cup milk and the cashews to the cooker. Close lid and cook for 3-4 whistles. Remove from flame.

Open the lid as soon as the steam escapes. Use a heavy spoon to whisk the contents and try to break down the rice grains( Else use a good quality hand blender for this step). We need to do this when the mixture is very hot so be careful not to splash any liquid onto ones hands. [1]

Add the remaining milk to the pressure cooker along with 1/4 cup water. Close lid and cook for another 2-3 whistles. Remove from flame.

Allow steam to escape. Open the lid and put it back on the flame.

Add the crumbled khoya ( i used store bought one), condensed milk, raisins and cardamom. Stir continuously till the khoya dissolves and mixture reaches desired thickness. (Took 7-8 mins for me)

Switch off the flame.

[1] ***  When using full cream milk, the cooking time will be very high (nearly 1 1/2 hours) on a low flame. But the taste is rather different and much more creamy.

Once you have broken down the grains with a heavy spoon/hand blender, you need to add the remaining milk and almonds. Cook on low flame while giving a stir occasionally. After reaching a certain thickness, one needs to stir it continuously so that it does not catch at the bottom.

Finally add the cardamom powder and remove from the flame.

Serve warm or chilled. (both taste great)

Note - This stays good for up to a week when kept refrigerated  .

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paan and Gulkand Kheer

Most festive(read 'Heavy') meals in India are considered incomplete with a serving of paan. Paan is said to aid in digestion, suppress gas formation in the stomach and freshen up the mouth. Many a varieties of 'paan' are available in the shops, ranging from sharp bitter ones to sweet sugary ones. One is supposed to chew up the paan, swallow its juice and spit out the solids. But these days one gets sweet paans (without the betel nuts) which can be consumed in its entirety. However the paan leaves do leave a slight tingling in the mouth which everyone may not like.

So, the last time when I made kheer for dessert, I decided to infuse it with the flavors of a 'meetha paan'. Had a jar of gulkand lying in my cupboard as I am using it liberally during summers to reduce body heat. I only had to purchase a few betel leaves from the corner paan-shop. One word of caution while selecting the leaves. Avoid the bitter ones and go for the mild ones else it will ruin the dish.

Since it was hot at the time, I decided to use condensed milk and khoya to cut down on the cooking time.Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 45-50 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 liter milk
  • 1/3 cup soaked rice ( i used Jeera rice but you can also use Basmati)
  • 3/4 cup khoya
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tbsp sugar ( I prefer medium sweet, but you can add a little more )
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 2 pinch cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Gulkand
  • 2-3 Betel leaves
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp ghee

Preparation - Wash and clean the betel leaves. Remove the veins and tear into small pieces. Grind with 1/4 cup milk and keep it aside. ( We do not want a fine paste so very small pieces of the betel leaf should remain. )

Wash and soak the rice for 1-2 hours. Strain to remove excess water.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Add the soaked rice and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Next add 1/3 cup water, half of the milk, sugar and cashews to the cooker. Close lid and cook for 3-4 whistles. Remove from flame.

Open the lid as soon as the steam escapes. Use a heavy spoon to whisk the contents and try to break down the rice grains( Else use a good quality hand blender for this step). We need to do this when the mixture is veryhot so be careful not to splash any liquid onto ones hands.

Add the remaining milk to the pressure cooker along with 1/4 cup water. Close lid and cook for another 2-3 whistles. Remove from flame.

Allow steam to escape. Open the lid and put it back on the flame.

Add the crumbled khoya ( i used store bought one), condensed milk and cardamom. Stir continuously till the khoya dissolves and mixture reaches desired thickness. (Took 7-8 mins for me)

Switch off the flame.

Stir in the Gulkand. Next add the betel leaf mixture little by little building up the flavour till you get it right.

Keep it in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Garnish with betel leaf, rose petals and serve chilled.

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