A super soft yet a firm cake with a beautiful crumb. It has a rich tang of whole milk yogurt and fruity hints of olive oil in every bite. I have been making this eggless cake for many years and get asked for a recipe every time I share it on my Instagram page. The recipe is ridiculously simple and uses just one bowl (how easy!)
I added blood orange juice (can you see a faint pink hue?) because they are in season but any kind of citrus will work in this recipe- naval orange juice, meyer lemons or regular lemons. Just make sure that you squeeze the citrus juice fresh before using. To cut the sweetness of sugar and the richness of olive oil, you do need lots of acid – that why both yogurt & citrus come helping, dont worry the cake isn’t tangy.
I like to serve it with faintly sweetened whipped cream on the side , however, you can cover it with frosting if you wish so. As for the flavors- cardamom with its balmy lemony notes is my absolute favorite, however use rosewater, saffron, vanilla – whatever you fancy. Use this recipe as a blank canvas for any eggless cake.
Ideally I like using a 8 inch round cake pan, but if you don’t have one, that fine too, just use a 9 inch cake pan and the cake will be slightly flatter but as delicious.
Ingredients (Makes one 8 inch Cake, serves 4-6)
125 gms whole milk plain greek yogurt, room temperature & slightly beaten (see note)
210 gms granulated sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
125 ml good quality olive oil (please dont use extra virgin)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground cardamom powder
205 gms all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup heavy cream, soft whipped with 2 tbsp sugar for serving
Note – Please use thick (ideally greek) yogurt in this recipe. If you reside in a place where you dont have access to greek yogurt, use hung curd if your yogurt tends to be watery.
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray or brush an 8 inch round cake pan with olive oil. Line the base of pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the beaten yogurt, sugar, vinegar, olive oil, orange juice & zest, salt and cardamom. Whisk for good 2-3 minutes until everything is smooth and nicely combined.
Sift the flour and baking powder over the yogurt mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold the flour until all combined. Don’t over mix. Pour the cake batter into the prepped pan, it will be slightly runny.
Bake for 32-38 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Take the cake pan out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake carefully (its soft and moist) onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Faintly sweet shortbreads encasing a burst of caramelized milky filling. These cookies are filled with aroma of spices in each bite. I used chai spices reminiscent of aromas in my tea masala. The dough is flavored with freshly pounded cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and dried ginger and the shortbread are simply irresistible!
I tried my hands at shortbread cookies this season after a gap of many years. Learning to bake a perfect shortbread has been a journey, I had little clue about the nuances of a perfect cookie when I started baking over half a decade back.
Once a dear friend who also happens to be a pastry chef told me that shortbread is one of the hardest things to master because the dough uses very few ingredients,. And it certainly is. Flour butter and sugar is all you need, what can go wrong, right? It took me many many attempts to master shortbread and it is one my favorite things ever.
Quite certainly a finest cookie- buttery and crumbly and melt in the mouth. These cookies are very addictive and really not that hard to make. Just keep a few things in mind.
Use softened butter. Best is if you set it out overnight on the counter or in a slighty warm place to soften. If you cannot, put the stick in a bowl and microwave at 50 percent power for 5-8 seconds until its soft to touch but not melting.
Rest the dough. Overnight is best. But you can store the dough for 2 days easily or freeze for a month. For a cookie like this. resting makes the dough so so flavorful because the spices get time to mingle.
Take the cookies out of the oven just when they are soft. They will continue to bake for a few minutes after. If you let them brown too much, they will become crispy and hard.
Things you will need
Stand Mixer or Hand mixer
2-3 large mixing bowls
Rolling Pin & Pastry board or a large board to roll cookies the (you can use kitchen counter as well)
Two large cookie sheets
Ingredients (Makes 20-24)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground green cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup Dulce de leche for filling
Tip: You can use recently purchased ground spices in this recipe. If you want to make your own, simply add 2 cloves ,2 green cardamom, 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds to your spice grinder and pulse to a fine powder. Mix in the ground dried ginger and your chai spice is ready for baking.
In a large bowl, sift the flour. To the sifted flour add all the ground spices and salt. Using a whisk, mix the spices thoroughly with the flour. Set aside.
In the stand mixer bowl (or you can use another large bowl and a hand mixer), add the butter and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy for 2-3 minutes. Start adding flour in parts and mix on low speed. Just when you see that all the flour has binded with the butter, stop mixing and dump the dough on a floured surface. The dough will be little crumbly but dont worry. Gently bring it all together into a soft ball. Divide the ball into two and shape each half into rounds. Flatten the rounds and place each in a ziplock bag(or wrap in a cling film). Refrigerate overnight or for upto 2 days.
Take out the refrigerated cook doughs and place on the counter 30 minutes before you are ready to make cookies. Line two large cookies sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F.
Place another large sheet of parchment on your work surface and dust the sheet with flour liberally. Flour your rolling pin as well since this dough tends to stick and you want to be able to pick up the cookies after cutting them.
Using the rolling pin, roll the dough into 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 3 inch round or fluted round cookie cutter, cut into cookies. For half the cookies which will go to top of sandwich, you can use 1 inch fluted star or round cookies cutter to cut the center out. Using a floured spatula, transfer the cookies to the baking sheet. Make sure that you count and have even number of bottoms and top cookies.
Gather the scraps and repeat the process until all the dough is exhausted. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they start to turn light brown on the sides/bottom. Pull the sheets out of the oven and let the cookies cool down for 5-7 minutes on the sheet itself before transferring to a cookie rack.
Let the cookies cool down completely before you fill them. Place 1 tbsp of Dulce de leche on the bottom cookies and sandwhich with the top cookies.
Things have been so quite here but not so much in my kitchen. Most days, we are eating fresh and home cooked, the kitchen is so busy but other priorities in life have made me slightly busy that there is less time to set up shoots and hence the lack of posts. But I guess, sometimes in life, you need to cut the routine to see how doing nothing or something different feels. This summer I am involving myself in things which I have not done in last few years, more on that later. It is good to be away for a while. Hope you missed me 🙂 However, I will keep this space buzzing whenever I can.Meanwhile, you can catch me on Instagram & Facebook.
I grew up eating it in small grey cardboard cups which had a flip lid. You flip away the lid and a couple of chubby brown raisins stared at you on top of blushing pink with soft bits of cashews scattered in. I always used my nails to pick the raisins out first and then the paddle shaped wooden spoon to scoop the rest. One cup disappeared after another in no time, sitting under the shade of kumquat tree in blazing indian summer heat, sweaty foreheads, dripping cream on our dresses and white foamy mustaches, oh to be a child again!
I came up with this recipe fueled by this tradition in my kitchen to come up with an ice cream recipe each summer.It came out amazing, like most homemade ice creams do. I used a subtle flavor of green cardamom but vanilla will work great also. The husband loved it.I loved it and so did our little girl who is fond of all things cashew. I hope you will love it too!
Update 10/03/2015 Recently Sinfully Spicy was included in Top 50 Blogs of India. Link here
Soak 1 cup raw cashews for 5-6 hrs. Drain. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the soaked cashews and let boil for 5-8 mins. Drain and let cool down completely. Transfer to a blender and using 1/3 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or full fat milk) grind the cashews to a coarse paste.
Mix 2 cups of heavy cream with a 14oz can of condensed milk. You can add sugar(about 1/4 cup) if you want to adjust sweetness. Mix the cashews paste along with 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom. Combine well, transfer to the dish in which you want to freeze and freeze for 5-6 hours. When the mixture starts freezing and has a pudding consistency,add in handful of dry toasted cut up cashews(optional) along with 1/2 cup of golden raisins. Freeze overnight. Scoop and serve.
A little while away, I got this immense craving to gorge on these sweet saffron rice. It was sparked by the sticky rice pudding that we relished a night before that day. Usually, if you follow me on Instagram or here on the blog, you would have noticed that there is more savory than sweet in my feed. I had this huge sweet tooth in my teens, but somehow it faded away as I grew older. There are certain things I enjoy, a delicious chunk of homemade gulab jamun and a moist slice of butter cake, but usually sugar doesn’t get me too too excited. Only when there is a good enough reason to make them, I retort towards making desserts at home. Buying a single serve slice from our favorite bakery almost always seems to be a superior option than baking and frosting a whole 9 inch round which will then lurk at me in the refrigerator for whole week. Its a bit too logical for some of you who swear by regular dessert making but that’s how I think.
Anyhow, that same night, chatting over a Thai food takeout, we delved into discussing new year traditions growing up. My husband recollected coconut sweet balls & rice pudding, both made with palm jaggery, a typical in east indian homes and I could only think of my grandmother’s zarda, only about it. That night, I must have dreamed about it. The little puffy, steamy bubbles that surface on the top layer when a pot of basmati is slowly boiled, or of the sniff of saffron which after filling each nook and corner of our big kitchen reached out to those sitting in the verandah through two large, dark brown windows with green painted grille. Next morning this sweet saffron rice was the only thing I could think of. Out of nowhere, in the middle of summer, but I just had to recreate those memories.
Each year, every year at the dawn of the first day of the year, I woke up to a quiet house with busy kitchen. BadI mummy (my grandma) standing right infront of the stove, rice boiling on one side and aroma wafting through a pot of simmering whole milk to which cloves, cardamom and nutmeg had been added. These blonde looking rice, she remarked were an incoming of prosperity into the house. In those days, we lived in a joint family and with few guests added on the new year eve along with distribution to all house help, the quantity of zarda to be cooked would be thrice the amount than usual. Speckled with ground cardamom and streaks of strong-smelling kashmiri zaffran(saffron) all through it, a bowl of it was so delicious garnished with a handful of nuts or raisins. Much like today, in those days saffron was exuberantly priced, so it came to life in cooking a few dishes on special occasions only. New Years day was one.
My mom got me these little packs of saffron from India a couple of weeks back, a delicate virgin variety of this spice, it is sharp and strong. A few strands is what it took to turn rice into a golden looking treat. This recipe can be easily made vegan by using full fat coconut or cashew milk and substituting any neutral oil in place of ghee. Try using a long grain basmati rice and be watchful during cooking period for separated, fluffy grains. I have included a few notes in the recipe which will help making this sweet rice delicacy an easy task.
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
1 cup long grain basmati rice
1 green cardamom, break open
3-4 cups water to par boil the rice
1 tablespoon ghee (substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
1 cup whole milk (use unsweetened cashew/full fat coconut milk for vegan)
3 tablespoon ghee(substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
2-3 green cardamom, break open
1 heaping teaspoon good quality saffron
1 generous pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
3/4 cup granulated sugar (can go upto 1 cup)
3 tablespoon roasted, unsalted nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews) + more for garnish
2 tablespoon golden raisins + more for garnish
Use good quality spices in this recipe.
Different varieties of saffron have different sharpness and strength. Adjust the quantity depending on the brand you are using.
To make the zarda more rich, instead of using roasted nuts, you can fry them in a small pan in 1/2 tablespoon of ghee and add on top.
Wash the rice under running stream of water 2-3 times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice for 45 minutes in enough water (add a green cardamom to it) required for parboiling. You can soak rice in the same pot that you will use for cooking.
Once the rice has soaked. Parboil the rice until 80% cooked (takes about 10 minutes).The cooking time will depend on quality of rice. To check the rice, take a grain and press it between the index finger and thumb. The rice grain will we brittle (break easily) and you will feel & see hard whitish bits in the center of the grain. Once the rice has parboiled, immediately drain it and gently mix a tablespoon of melted ghee in the warm rice.
While the rice is boiling, add milk, 3 tablespoon ghee, cardamom and clove to a small pot and set it to simmer on a medium low flame. Let milk simmer for 5-7 minutes on low heat and then put the stove off. Once the milk has cooled off a bit and is warm(not hot) to touch add sugar, saffron and nutmeg to it. Let sit.
In the same pot in which you parboiled the rice, add the warm spiced milk sugar mixture. Very gently add the drained rice to the milk. Add the nuts and raisins. Cover and let cook on medium low heat for 10-12 minutes until all the milk is absorbed and the rice is completely done. Put the stove off.
After 15-20 minutes of sitting, gently fluff the rice with the help a fork.Garnish with more nuts and raisins if you want.
Since last year, our indian grocer is bringing to us green mango exports straight from the heart of India. Whats different about them you would ask? They are much smaller in size, fibrous & sour and bring back picture perfect memories of those pickles & sharbatin the kitchen that I have grown up on. I am making chutney with them, as well as adding them to lentils.
However, such special things do always come with a big price tag (I paid $12 for 5 small pieces), so after spending that fortune last week, I made sure to come up with something new. After much thinking, this granita was made to beat the extreme summers that have hit our part of the world.
On a different note, this summer, I have been lucky with homegrown herbs and a little vegetable patch after trying hard for years. Each year my pots fell victim to weeds and heat but this time, so far all looks great. Even a small twig of it feels so rewarding. I used homegrown mint to infuse the refreshing notes in this recipe. It is the tang of the green mangoes enhanced with sweet lemon & tart lime juice and grassy heat of the green chili which makes it special, along with a much-needed refreshing notes from fresh, homegrown mint to a lightly sweet, healthy dessert for summer months. Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, it has a coarser texture. It is a very simple thing to make except that you need to stare open at a freezer scraping the bowl every other hour or so.
So if you do not desire to put in the baby sitting it needs, turn the same recipe to a sorbet. It tastes as good.
1.5 tablespoon fresh lime juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
1.5 teaspoon black salt (kala namak, reduce amount if the mangoes are really tart)
1/4 teaspoon regular salt ( or to taste)
Wash the mangoes. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a pot and add the whole mangoes. Let boil on high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the skin turns pale and they are slightly soft to touch(take care that the mango skins do not break open). Take the mangoes out of boiling water and leave to cool off. Once cooled, peel off (the skin will separate in a squeeze) and discard the skins.
While the magpies are boiling, in another small pot, combine sugar and water and place over medium heat,cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the stove, immediately add the mint stems and leaves and leave aside to steep for about 3-5 minutes (do not leave for too long else the syrup will turn bitter). Strain the syrup through a sieve and let cool down.
Transfer the mango flesh and green chili( if using) to a blender and pulse to smooth. Take out in a large bowl and add the mint simple syrup, lime & lemon juice, black salt and salt to taste to it. Mix to combine. Strain through a sieve to a smooth mixture.
Pour mixture into a 11 inch by 7 inch glass pan. Cover and let freeze for 1 hour and 30 minutes uncovered. Scrape the icy edges with a fork. Freeze again. Scrape every 45 minutes until completely frozen (about 6-8 hours). Remove from freezer every hour or so; scrape with a fork until fluffy. Once semi solid ice crystals are formed, scrape till fluffy.Cover tightly and freeze. Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.
Scrape granita into bowls and serve garnished with lime wedges and mint.Dust with a pinch of chaat masala or black salt just before serving(optional).
It was one of the most important day of my life as we drove through wide but still crowded roads due to evening traffic, long after sun down to Kashmiri Gate, to the university campus in Old Delhi to figure out if I made it to that year’s list of DCE or Delhi College of Engineering. I remember me and mom sat and waited in the car while dad walked out to check the notice board. Those fifteen minutes,that day, might have been the longest of my life, as I sat and observed the varied expressions of cheer and dismay on the faces of others coming out of the red-painted door and then walking towards the crowded parking lot. As many parents passed our car, clear among the noisy chaos of honks and shouting kin, I could hear the conversations of celebrations, as also the consoling whispers of ‘there are few more results left’. Every time those sounds touched my ears, my heart rejoiced for half a second and next moment, the random thoughts weaved an abyss against hope. I might have blinked my eyes lesser than usual, my throat felt dry and itchy but my glances just waited for dad to emerge out of that red-painted door. I could hear mom’s cell phone ringing constantly, every other relative & rest of the family calling in to check if I ‘got through’. She pretended to be normal, but I could segregate the egdy tones of anxiety when she uttered ‘pata nahi‘ (don’t know).
The engineering entrance exam system in India gets more tough each year than the actual exam itself mainly due to the exponential increase in number of takers. Colleges in big metropolitan cities are more sought after and it definitely boils down to minute differences in performance to rank you higher or not. I had been preparing for this exam for almost a year and as expected I was nervous on the result day. Badly.
It was 7:43 pm. Dad emerged out of the door with a flat face.My heart skipped a beat and I started sweating like a pig. I could feel my ear lobes turning red and my throat choking. We could not keep inside the car anymore and I forced myself and ran to him. Mom rushed after. I looked at him with deer eyes.He still kept a straight face. I don’t remember but for the first time in last fifteen minutes I would have opened my palms to clutch his sleeve. He looked at us and with the most lovely smile spreading across his face that I might have witnessed ever, he said ‘ho gaya, mithai khilao‘ (You got in, get the sweets!). Tears rolled down my eyes. Music to my ears. The world at my feet. I was through!
Mithai or sweets form an integral part of indian culture.Each occasion of life is celebrated with them.The streets and neighborhood of the country are dotted with sweet shops and if you find ever yourself stuck in a desert, you would be less than a mile away from one. ‘Peda‘ is one of the popular sweets from the ‘Uttar Pradesh’, the part of India my mother hails from and these are essentially fudgy, thick, semi soft, sweet chunks made with mava (milk solids)sugar and ghee. However, these fudgy cashew almond peda, I made are dairy free as well as need very few ingredients for preparation.My daughter loves any mithai made with cashews, so these were mainly made for her though we enjoyed them as well. The slight hints from the orange paired very well with the nuts even though the aroma of sweet green cardamom is more prominent. These could get addictive. These gluten-free, vegan balls can be an excellent after school snack. Make some and enjoy!
Glutenfree, Dairy Free & Vegan sweet fudge made with cashew and almond meal.
Ingredients (Makes 25 )
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1.5 cup cashew nut meal (or powdered raw cashews)
1 cup almond meal (or powdered raw almonds)
1/2 tsp fresh orange zest
6 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed
1 tbsp ghee (optional, required during kneading, use any vegan substitute)
1/2 cup powdered sugar to roll
In a wide, heavy bottomed pan (I use my 12″ skillet) or a kadhai, mix up the sugar and water. Set the pan on low flame and let the sugar dissolve. Stir (I use my rubber spatula) the solution once or twice while the sugar dissolves so that the sugar does not stick to bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, grease the surface that you will be using to knead with 1/2 tablespoon ghee.
Once the sugar has completely dissolved, add the cashew and almond meal to the pan. Mix everything and brace yourself for some hard work. Keep on stirring and stirring as the mix cooks on low flame. The process will be slow in the beginning and you will feel that it will take forever but do not worry. Keep on stirring, scraping the mixture on low flame, do not let the mixture stick to the sides of the skillet.
After about 20-22 minutes, you will see that the mixture starts thickening and coming together.We will shortly be getting there, once the mixture is thick, do not bother much about scraping the sides as they will be really dry. Around 24 minutes, the mixture will start resembling a soft, sticky dough and will clump up around the spatula. If you try to bring the mixture together in one place on the skillet, it will try to slowly spread (similar to how a glug of cold honey spreads on a surface). Mix in the orange zest and crushed cardamom. Put off the stove.
Immediately transfer to the greased surface and leave to cool a bit until its safe to handle.Once the dough has cooled slightly, rub a teaspoon of ghee on your hands and very gently knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Remember that the dough needs to be warm when you knead so just wait till its safe to touch, do not let it cool down completely, else it will not knead and remain grainy.Do not press very hard as you knead else the nuts will start oozing their oil. You can grease you hands or the dough with ghee in between if it starts feeling sticky.
While the kneaded dough is still warm, pinch small portions of it and roll into a smooth ball. Roll the balls in powdered sugar.
Once cooled, store the peda in air tight container for up to a week.
Thank you for stopping by!
The time of cooking noted in this recipe will vary if you are using any other kind of sugar than granulated, since the water content of different varieties of sugar is different.
You can use any kind of flavorings – saffron or kewra (screw pine water) instead of orange zest & cardamom.
I remember that many mornings at my badi mummy’s (grand mother’s ) house opened with a warm bowl of sooji halua, a ghee laden dessert made with toasted semolina and milk, speckled with grains of woody black cardamom. In fact,it would not be exaggerating to say that the strong,nutty aroma of toasting sooji filling the air of the house sometimes managed to pull me out of the bed early,especially on the lazy weekend mornings. With half closed eyes, I headed straight to the verandah where we usually ate breakfast . Sometimes, there were cups of chai and warm bowls of halua already waiting to be eaten, many times, the eating had to wait a bit longer, for it took a extra while to roll and deep fry pooris to go along. Yes halua – poori is exactly what I am talking about here, an immensely carbohydrate loaded meal but at the same time so comforting. Those the days when you could eat as much as you wished to.The variety of foods at our mealtimes were many.An amazingly beautiful thing in the house that I grew up in, a tradition that instilled in us the virtue of sharing and caring.In those times, childhood could absorb so much sugar, oil and calories. Much unlike now when a bowl of halua will push me a step closer to long naps during mid day, I remember playing around the aangan (back yard) for hours. Semolina is quite a popular flour of choice when baking cakes in indian homes.There were a couple of sweet as well as savory cakes that my mother baked for us using it.Most of the cakes were steamed inside the pressure cooker(for she did not own an oven then) and they came out pretty awesome.In contrast to the sugar syrup drizzle that I used in my recipe, inspired by arabic desserts, the pressure cooker cakes from my childhood were really moist and soft.They didn’t need any glaze, drizzle or makeup, as mum says. This cake is full of flavors from those days of sooji halua eating mornings.The ingredients are very few and the condensed milk and nutty almond meal makes it a lot, lot better than the actual dessert. It is quite a dense cake and a small portions will instantly make you feel full. I would really recommend not skipping that sugar syrup to cut down the sweet else it may taste dry.I do not soak the cake in entire quantity of the syrup and save some to drizzle just when serving. It keeps the cake moist just when you are about to enjoy it. You can substitute any nut powder of choice here and make it. Also, I found that this cake travels and packs really well,once it cools down completely and you cut the slices, they can be packaged for lunch boxes, care packages and on the go snacks.Serve with black or green tea. Printable Recipe
Ingredients (Makes a 9″ round)
1 no 14oz sweetened condensed milk can
10 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted + more for the cake pan
1/2 cup +1 tablespoon whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 + 1/3 cup coarse semolina (not the instant,quick cooking kind)
1+1/3 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon green cardamom powder (from 5-6 pods)
1/3 cup raw almonds for top (optional)
For the Sugar Syrup
10 tablespoon crystal sugar (I use raw)
6 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom powder (from 2-3 pods)
I use ready made almond meal, if you plan to make your own, do not crush the blanched almonds to a point that they release their oils.Let there be a coarse sandy texture.
This cake does not rise much. So if you want a high rise cake, use a smaller dish to bake it.
For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9 “X 2” round cake pan. I use parchment paper lining for easy handling.
In a large bowl, mix whisk together condenser milk, melted butter, milk and baking powder to smooth slurry. Add semolina and almond meal to it along with cardamom powder. Mix together to combine to a smooth batter. Do not over mix.
Transfer the batter to the cake pan. Scatter the raw almonds on top. Bake for 35 minutes or so or until a skewer comes out clean and the edges are nice and golden brown.
Once the cake is baked, take it out and drizzle liberally with the sugar syrup (recipe below) while still warm.
I sometimes, reserve 1/4 cup or so of the syrup to be used for instant moistening when serving the cake (optional)
Let cool completely. Slice and serve.
For the Sugar Syrup
While the cake is baking, in a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Cook for 10-12 minutes on low medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup has thickened a bit. Put the stove off and add cardamom powder to the syrup.Keep the syrup warm. Drizzle the warm syrup on the cake as soon it comes out of the oven.
This recipe is my take on the popular indian dessert called ‘rabdi falooda‘, which is basically vermicelli (falooda) soaking in sweet thickened milk(rabdi) and consisting of a burst of texture in every bite, for it is studded with chopped nuts & soaked basil seeds and is usually topped with a big scoop of ice-cream. To me this dessert brings with itself the memory of my college days. When we set out in the wee hours of the morning for a tour of the city. Shopping in our minds and skipping breakfast so that we could start as early as possible, hopping on to three or four buses (the Delhi metro was not operational back then) and changing routes as per bus schedules that day, we measured length and breath of the city to reach our favorite area in the south of Delhi. If you reached the place by 11 in the morning, the day presented myriad way to shop, eat and relax.Not only you could choose and bargain with the vendors over your favorite chunks of bohemian jewelry at length but reaching early would also mean that the time spent in queue at the eating joints would be less. What I would have on my mind since morning were the silky smooth milk shakes and dense rabri falooda in the tallest tumbler available there, I always made sure to ask for an extra serving of that leathery cream from the earthern pot to chew on. After a tiring day, I inhaled the chilled rabri falooda like a portion of ambrosia – full of textural bites and smelling of rose and cardamom.
Prepare the ingredients before you start layering. Add as much or as little of whatever you want.
The weather in my part of the world has already touched 80 F and we could not have asked for a better dessert for Holi (indian color festival) last week. This dessert, or if you want, call it a thick sweet cold beverage is served with a straw as well as a spoon.It is an immensely popular as a street food in Delhi but maybe not so much in the rest of India since it was the husband’s first time sampling it.There are many flavors and combinations that can be done – talk strawberry, talk vanilla or butterscotch but my favorite has always been the rose.So exotic and extremely cooling on a warm day. It is something you are bound to like. I made it last week and served along with nuggets of homemade rose jelly thrown in. It was well received and all I could say is that I wish I could have made a little more.
Before I hop on the recipe, we are already into the last few days of nomination for Saveur Blog Awards. Please help my blog reach the shortlists if you enjoy my work. You can cast your vote here. Thank you.
Chopped pistachios or almonds, as much as you like
Chopped fruits, any kind, as much as you like
Soaked basil or chia seeds, as much as you like
For the Rabdi
1 no 12 oz evaporated milk can
1.25 cups whole milk
2 no green cardamom pods
2-4 tablespoon sugar (adjust quantity depending on how sweet you desire)
1.5 tablespoon rose-water
For the Rose Jelly
3 tablespoon water, room temperature
1.5 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
4 tablespoon rose syrup (easily available in indian/pakistani/middle eastern stores, I use this )
3/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
For the Whipped Cream
1/2 cup cold whipping cream
1.5 tablespoon powdered sugar
pinch green cardamom powder (optional)
Use a dollop of Cool Whip or your favorite ice cream on top.
You can add chia, sunflower seeds for extra crunch.
If you do not get rose syrup, use strawberry syrup at the bottom layer and for making jelly.
Making Rabdi (This can be done 1-2 days in advance)
Pour evaporated milk whole milk and cardamom pods into a heavy, deep bottom pot (preferably non stick) and put on stove on medium low heat. Let the milk cook till it is reduced to half the quantity.You will need to stir every few minutes or so, make sure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. You can scrape the sides as you stir. The milk will thicken and change color to pale. After about 30-40 minutes, you will see that the milk is thickened.Put off the stove.Pick out and discard the cardamom pods.
Let cool down slightly (about 5-8 minutes). Add sugar and mix well. Let sit to cool down completely. Once cold, stir in the rose-water.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or till ready to use.
Making the Rose Jelly (This can be done 1-2 days in advance)
In a small bowl, add 3 tablespoon water and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let bloom.
Meanwhile, in a small jug/tumbler, mix together hot water, rose syrup, sugar and lime juice. Stir so that sugar has dissolved. Add the bloomed gelatin to it.
Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to cool down.
Pour into a small square glass dish and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. Once chilled and set, unmold (by running a sharp knife along the edges and tapping the bottom of inverted dish) and using a sharp knife cut into squares.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Making the Whipped Cream (This can be done 1 day in advance)
In a cold bowl, using a whisk or hand mixer, whip up the cream to soft peaks. Add powdered sugar 1/2 tablespoon at a time and whip to incorporate.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Making Rabdi Falooda
Cook the falooda sev or vermicelli as per package instruction.Let cool completely. Toss the noodles with rose water.Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Start with 1 tablespoon rose syrup at the bottom of a tall glass. Add the chilled faloooda(or vermicelli). Add 2-3 tablespoon of cold rabdi. Top with 1 tablespoon chopped nuts and 1-2 cubes of rose jelly.
Repeat 2-3 times to make a layered dessert. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.
The winter season back home always bought with itself a different feeling than the sun -lit mornings I wake up to here in the Valley.I ponder for few minutes and those foggy mornings & biting chilly winter winds come hovering in my mind, that peak of the cold season spread over few days at the end and start of another year which forced enough reasons to wear multiple layers of clothes, those endless cravings of rich, heavy food and the countless cups of hot beverages that comforted me before darting out of the home to get to work. I often recall those evening trips to crappy street food joints to carelessly stuff on piping hot vegetable momos and egg rolls without any guilt or doubt. I remember those cloyingly sweet adrak(ginger) chai & frothy coffee which I snuggled within my palms on cold weekend mornings, lazily fliping through the newspaper on the couch. Suddenly all I can feel is the warmth of those memories in my heart.
What is your fond winter memory? A warm bowl of soup caressing your numb fingers or a strong cup of coffee to relax your clattering teeth? The silence that wraps the streets of neighborhood at five in the evenings or the mellow sun already preparing to call it a day mid-afternoon? The crisp winds which feel the chilliest on the tip of the nose or the beautiful grey that surrounds the snow days?The beholding sight of snow sculptures outside or the beauty of the flickering fireplace inside?
I recall that badi mummy (my grandmother) would often feed us this smooth and rich atte ka halwa during these winter months, sometimes to soothe our sore throats, other times just as a quick after meal dessert . There we sat on a hand-woven couch in the veranda, wrapped in cozylayers of thin shaleen razais (velvet quilts) and oiled hair, clutching stainless steel katoris (bowls) and spooning this comfortingly warm, golden brown pudding into our tummies.She insisted that nothing could benefit the body more than grains & ghee.This halwa is indeed wholesome – whole wheat flour is slow roasted in ghee till its turns glistening golden then sweetened with gud(jaggery), resulting in a rich concoction few spoons of which will instantly make you feel full.
The main ingredient here is atta (durum whole wheat flour) and a fine grind is what gives the halwa a smooth & velvety texture.In case you have some atta leftover from that package of durum wheat flour you bought to make rotis, this is another recipe for you to try. Gud or jaggery, an unrefined sugar made from boiling date, sugar cane or palm juice is an extremely popular sweetener used all over India. It is considered a benefiting to the body in Ayurvedic medicine and is available in blocks, loaves or powdered form.The unique mild taste of jaggery adds a taste comparable to molasses and a light caramel color to the dishes.The color & the sweetness of this halwa depends mainly on the content of molasses in it.
You can ration the quantity of the halwa you eat & serve but I suggest not reducing the amount of ghee when making this recipe else the halwa loses its rustic appeal and gets chewy. It is supposed to be enjoyed in less quantities but essentially with the richness from all that ghee.I like my halwa mildly sweet and the amount noted in the recipe perfect for that. You can adjust the quantity of jaggery if you like.
1 cup jaggery, powdered (I scrape jaggery from the block using a sharp knife. Jaggery is easily available in indian/pakistani stores.Use 3/4 cup raw sugar if you cannot find jaggery)
scant 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
Nuts & Raisins to serve (optional)
In a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai, heat the ghee on a medium low heat till it melts. Once the ghee has melted, add the clove and wait till it crackles. Next, add the flour and roast on medium- low heat, stirring constantly until the wheat flour gets golden brown colour and you smell a nutty aroma.Do not rush this step else the flour will remain raw.It should take about 10-12 minutes and you will see golden brown, glistening syrup like melted ghee & flour in the pan.
Meanwhile, on the second stove, in a sauce pan, heat water on high.Put off the stove. Wait for 1-2 minutes. Add jaggery to the warm water and stir until the it completely dissolves. If you have broken jaggery from the block and the big chunks are taking time to dissolve, heat up the water a little bit (but do not let it boil). Let sit near to stove.
Once the wheat flour has turned dark brown and it has roasted nicely,reduce heat to low and very carefully pour in the jaggery water into the roasted wheat-flour. It will splutter so be careful. Add the cardamom powder as well.
On low heat, stir quickly and continuously (to avoid lumps) and cook for a minute or less until the mixture turns smooth.Once you add the water, the mixture will immediately cup up and increase in volume.Do not cook for long time else the halwa will thicken and turn dry. Pick the cloves and discard.
Mix in the nuts and raisins (if using ) and combine.
Memories tied to food is a wonderful thing, isn’t? I say it more often than not but I am an emotional eater. I get bouts of voracious eating depending on if I feel happy or sad that day. Sometimes I just cook and eat solely because that food is supposed to be associated with the season,or only coz a bowl of warm kheer (rice pudding) will see me through that dull, gloomy day or because I got to know about it when I chatted with mom or some aunt in the family last week. You can categorise these cookies as a baking activity that happened on such a whim. I spoke to mum the other evening discussing the picky food habits of my daughter and she happened to mention if I have tried feeding her ‘bakery wale biscuits‘ with milk.
All along mixing the dough, the only thought that rattled in my mind was how these should taste of cashew predominantly & not just flour and sugar, just like original ones from a little bakery with blue & white candy cane style painted walls near my house in Delhi.
Ingredients(Makes about 4.5 dozen)
3/4 cup cashew meal (I used ready-made cashew meal from Trader Joes you can grind raw cashews to a (not very fine) powder at home if you do not get ready made)
1.5 cup all-purpose flour
1.25 cups confectioners sugar/castor sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 green cardamom pods, break open & powder the seeds
a generous pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
10 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped raw cashews
1/4 cup oil (any neutral oil will work)
2 – 5 tbsp cold milk (just so the dough comes together, I used 3.5 tbsp)
Cashew bits for top (optional)
In a bowl, mix cashew meal, flour, sugar,baking powder, soda & salt together. Dump the flour mix in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the cardamom & nutmeg. Add the butter cubes. Pulse for a minute or so till the butter becomes pea sized.
Remove the metal blade and fit the dough blade in the jar. Add the 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews. Add the oil. Start the processor and start adding cold mix 1/2 tbsp at a time till the dough just comes together. Stop. Open the lid and take out the dough on a clean surface. The dough will be slightly sticky & loose but that’s okay. Knead gently with dry hands for a minute or less and bring it together. Divide into two portions. Wrap the dough portions in plastic/cling film. Make sure that the cling film is large enough since we will be rolling the cookies later in it. With the help of your palm, flatten each wrapped dough portion. Refrigerate for at least 30-35 minutes or till firm. Now, if you plan to bake them later, you can freeze one or both of the dough halves.
Once the dough is firm, roll the flattened dough still wrapped in the cling film to a square sheet about 1/4″ thick. After rolling, refrigerate the rolled out dough again since the heat from your hands and rolling will melt the butter.
Preheat oven to 300F. Line cookie sheet with parchment/ wax paper. You might need a couple of baking sheets or you can bake in batches.
Once the rolled dough is firm, using a sharp knife, cut very small squares (about 1/4″ by 1/4″) since these cookies will spread quite a bit while baking. Try to cut as evenly sized squares as possible. Press some cashew bits on top and arrange the squares about 2″ apart on the baking sheet. Refrigerate again for 20-25 minutes.
If you do not want to roll the dough, pinch small portions of the dough, shape into balls and press few cashew pieces on top.
Bake the refrigerated cookies in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes till the cookie bases start & edges start turning golden brown and the top cashews changes color. I like my cookies slightly brown so I baked them a few minutes more, about 22 minutes.
Let cool completely on the sheet before storing them in air tight containers for up to 3 weeks. Serve with hot chai.