Desserts/Baking

Gram/Chickpea Flour Chocolate Banana Bread

This nutritious banana bread is protein rich, fibre rich and is 100 % gluten free. It made with besan/gram/chickpea flour, is aromatic with ghee & green cardamom and has a double dose of chocolate. It is nut free (though you can add nuts), eggless and one bowl. Perfect for breakfast or snack any time of the day.

Banana bread is a favorite in our house and since the kids love sweet breakfast,I make it every other week. There is always a peace of mind when there is banana bread in the fridge especially during weekdays when the morning rush is a real thing!

Chickpea flour or besan is one of the most loved flour in north indian homes, second only to whole wheat flour. It is versatile, and perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Chickpea flour is high in soluble fiber which makes it nutritious. I make nankhatais with chickpea flour all the time but this was the first time I baked a cake with it. And it was surprising as to how well this loaf came out.

It took me few attempts to get this recipe right. I went through inspiration from the internet but ultimately came up with measurements and swapped ingredients suited to the tastes of my family. The bread isn’t overly sweet and has an amazing texture. As with banana breads, it tastes better the next day.

Now the question ringing in your mind ever since you started reading 🙂 How does it compare to regular banana bread made with all purpose flour? The answer – Quite well! It does taste different, but only slightly. Not bad at all! There is an aftertaste of besan but its very nutty & pleasing. I am a convert! I would pick this wholesome recipe over a regular banana bread made with regular flour especially since the kids often consume it as first meal of the day.The husband who isn’t a big fan of alternative flour baking, LOVED it.

You can easily make this recipe vegan but substituting neutral oil in place of ghee and using plant milk instead of dairy milk. The addition of cardamom and ghee together makes it taste like indian mithai (sweets) and we love it. However good quality vanilla or cinnamon will work great as well. A very doable, make ahead breakfast recipe for next morning while you are making dinner in the evening. It is one bowl and the ingredients are easy to find and few.

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Gram Flour Chocolate Banana Bread

One bowl glutenfree, eggless and double chocolate banana bread made with besan/chickpea flour, cocoa and ghee. It is scented with ground green cardamom, is super moist and tastes better the next morning.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
1 hr 5 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Indian
Servings: 1 loaf (8 by 5 inch)

Ingredients

  • 450 g mashed bananas , from about 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 90 g raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted ghee
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 175 g besan(gram flour /chickpea flour) use superfine variety
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tbsp baking chocolate chunks I used 70% dark chocolate chunks or use chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. I used a 8 inch by 5 inch nonstick loaf pan to bake this bread, since my pan was nonstick I did not need to spray or line it with parchment paper. If you are using a regular loaf pan, line it with parchment paper with bit of an overhang so that the loaf is easy to take out.
  • In a large bowl, add the bananas, raw sugar, ghee and milk. Whisk very well for 2-3 minutes until you all the raw sugar granules have dissolved.
  • Place a sieve on top of the bowl and add besan, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Sift the flour mixture over the wet ingredinets. Do not skip sifting coz besan is usually lumpy and it will make the bread batter lumpy.
  • Add the cardamom powder. If using nuts, add them right now. Using a soft spatula, gently fold and mix everyrhing together until its cocoa color. Dont over mix.
  • Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and smoothen the top using a flat spatula. Scatter chocolate chunks on top.
  • Bake for 44-49 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. I baked mine for 45 minutes. Note that the baking times will differ depending on the size of baking pan as well as oven.
  • Once baked, let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pull out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack and let cool down completely.
  • Slice using a sharp knife and enjoy. You can store leftovers in fridge for 2 days or freeze upto 3 months.

Notes

  1. You canned chopped walnuts or almonds to the batter. 
  2. Use very ripe and sweet mashed bananas, else your bread wont be as sweet.
  3. Instead of cardamom, you can use cinnamon as well. 
  4. If you are making for kids and arent a fan of dark chocolate, use regular cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the recipe. 
  5. You can make easily make it vegan by substituting neutral oil and plant based milk. 
Desserts/Baking

Mango Tres Leches Cake

Mango Sponge soaked in sweetened milk concoction and covered in mango whipped cream.This cake is bursting with mango flavor in each bite. It is perfect for summer birthdays or for taking along for summer gatherings. You can make it 1-2 days in advance.

Tres(Three) Leche(Milk) cakes are traditional to Latin America and they are sponge cakes that are perforated after baking and then soaked in a sauce made with three kinds of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. The sponge itself is airy and its absorbs the milk sauce to form a luscious, dense and rich cake.

There are quite a few steps to this recipe but nothing too complicated. The 3 essential steps of making this cake are – baking the mango sponge, soaking it in milk sauce and topping it with the whipped cream. You can bake and soak the cake on one day and then next day just make the whipped cream and slather it on top. You can use fresh seasonal mangoes to make a homemade puree or use store-bought mango puree.

Mango Sponge – This is an eggless mango sponge which is super easy to make and its a one bowl recipe. Mango is one of the most delicious seasonal summer fruit. There is a prominent mango flavor in this cake. I did not not use any spices or essence in the cake batter because I wanted pure mango flavor. However you can definitely add some cardamom or vanilla if you wish. The cake has a beautiful texture and it gets nicely browned. When you cut into it, the sponge is nicely dyed with natural yellow color of mangoes, there is no food color. Make sure to used the best ripest and sweetest mangoes you can find else use store bought mango puree.

Milk Sauce – After the cake is baked, it is doused in a milk sauce made with evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. Allow for at least 6 hours of chilled soaking.

Mango Whipped Cream– Simply heavy cream whipped with mango puree and flavored with green cardamom powder. This mango whipped cream is just irrestible and I can imagine it on so many things from pancakes to waffles to just on its own.

Mango Tres Leches Cake
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Mango Tres Leches

Eggless mango sponge soaked in milk sauce and covered in layers of mango cardamom whipped cream. A great cake for summer entertaining.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, Mexican
Servings: 8 inch round

Equipment

  • Glass Mixing Bowls, Baking Tools

Ingredients

For The Eggless Mango Sponge

  • 3/4 cup mango puree (from 3-4 ripe mangoes or use store bought) , see notes
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil
  • 1+3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1+1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Milk Sauce

  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 9oz sweetened condensed milk

For Mango Whipped Cream

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp mango puree
  • 4 tbps powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder

Instructions

Mango Sponge

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of an 8 inch non stick round cake pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl,combine mango puree, milk and oil. Whisk for 2 minutes so that everything is combined and of mango color.
  • Place a large sieve(or use a flour sifter) over the bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Sift the flour mixture over the wet ingredients.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet and dry ingredients together until no white specks of flour are visible. Dont over mix.
  • Transfer the batter to the cake pan. Using a flat spatula, smoothen the top of the cake.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and proceed to soaking (see instructions below)

Make the Milk Sauce

  • While the cake is baking, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl (preferably with a spout). Whisk well. Save about 3/4 cup milk sauce for serving. When the cake is cooled, pierce the surface of the cake alll over using fork or a skewer. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the cake.

Mango Whipped Cream

  • Add the heavy cream and sugar into a chilled mixing bowl and beat on high speed for about a minute till you see its starting to get thick. Add the mango puree and cardamom powder and beat on high speed for another minute and a half till the cream is thick and spreadable.
  • Spread all over the cake and chill the cake for atleast 6 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. You can use the fresh mangoes to make the mango puree at home.We need 1 cup of mango puree in this recipe.I add the flesh of about 1 lb of mangoes (4-5) with 1 -2 tbsp sugar to a blender and bend on high speed. I recommend straining the puree to make sure that there are no fibres and its ultra smooth. 
  2. You can use a 9 inch by 13 inch rectangular cake pan to make this recipe as well. The cake might be slightly thinner.
Desserts/Baking

Pistachio & Matcha Popsicles

These 4 ingredient, super easy popsicles are vegan and so perfect for those sweet craving that we all often get. I discovered how amazing matcha tastes in desserts earlier this year and there is no looking back. This green tea powder with numerous health benefits and unique taste needs to be paired with a creamy element and its rather bitter profile changes to pleasing.

Here I used coconut milk and coconut condensed milk as the creamy base along with roasted pistachios which I hand pound for a better texture in every bite. These popsicles are vegan and gluten-free but if you want to make these with dairy, just use heavy cream and regular condensed milk instead.

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Pistachio- Matcha Popsicles

Easy 4 ingredient, creamy and nutty pospicles made with pistachios and matcha.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time8 hrs 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 6 popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios
  • 1.5 tsp matcha powder
  • 14 fl oz (400ml) full fat coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 8 fl oz (230ml) sweetend condensed milk, or to taste

Instructions

  • In a dry pan, toast the pistachios on low heat for about 6-8 minutes. Cool down a bit. Transfer to a large mortar and pestle and hand pound to a coarse powder. Alternatively, you can grind them in a blender.
  • Add rest of the ingredients along with pistachios to a large bowl and using a whisk combine very well until there are no lumps.
  • Pour into pospicles molds and freeze overnight or for atleast 8 hours.
  • Unmold by dipping in warm water and enjoy!

Notes

1)If you want to make these with dairy, just use heavy cream and regular condensed milk instead and you are good to go.
Desserts/Baking

Mango Rasmalai

Rasmalai hardly needs an introduction. Sweet chenna(milk solids) patties dunked in chilled, sweetened thickened milk redolent of cardamom and saffron. What’s not to like when biting into a spongy rasmalai on a hot day.

I grew up eating traditional rasmalai and its cousin sister 🙂 , Indrani (have a recipe here). I was introduced to mango rasmalai a few years back and instantly loved it. Chilled mango flavored milk took the dessert to another level! I like to add sweet juicy cubes of mango as well to the milk for extra mango goodness. If you can lay your hands on kesar mango or alphonso mangoes from India, the pulp and cubes of those are the best thing to use. However, well ripened honey mangoes available here during peak summer in the USA also work great, which is what I use.

There are few steps to making rasmalai at home though its very easy. Its a four step process which involves making the thickened milk base in which to dunk the patties, making chenna from scratch followed by kneading the chenna and then boiling the chenna patties in sugar syrup. The process takes time but the only tricky steps are proper kneading and boiling the chenna patties for the right amount of time so that they are soft and melt in the mouth. Making good mithai is a learning process, it takes a lot of time and effort to get the right feel of how things should done. Trust me I have wasted many batches over the years while practicing.

Keep the below things in mind when you make rasmalai and they will turn out soft and spongy every time!

  • Use full fat milk. Dont use skim milk. Boiling milk and curdling it at a right temperature will give you softest chenna. Soft chenna means soft patties. Its simple. Bring milk to a boil and then switch off the stove before adding the curdling agent (I use white vinegar). This is super important else the chenna granules will be tough.
  • Squeeze optimum amount of whey from chenna for a set period of time, we dont want to get rid of all the liquid because we need the fat and moisture both during kneading. When you hang the chenna and it stops dripping yet its moist, this will give the best texture of the rasmalai. Understanding these things comes with practice and patience so don’t give up easily if you mess up a few times.
  • After draining, chenna must not be sticky. It should be crumbly. If chenna feels sticky, hang it a bit longer.
  • Kneading for how long is again a play of feel and impulse. Knead continuously for a good 6-8 minutes atleast to start with. Once the chenna starts feeling soft and lacey, its ready. Depends on the quality of your milk (fat quantity, homogenization, room temperature, etc).
  • If you are using fresh mangoes, grind them to a smooth pulp and sieve to remove any fibers etc before adding to milk. You can used tinned mango pulp as well if you cannot find sweet mangoes. Works well.
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Mango Rasmalai

A popular bengali sweet consisting of sweet chenna patties and sweet mango dunked in a chilled mango flavored milk base.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 10 rasmalai discs

Equipment

  • 2 large pots, colander, cheesecloth, spoons, 1 large sauce pot

Ingredients

For the Chenna Patties

  • 4 cups full fat or whole milk
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1-2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 cups ice cubes

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4-5 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cups ice cubes

For the Thickened Milk

  • 3 cups full fat or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk or sugar (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup sliced alomonds & pistachios
  • 1/2 cup smooth mango pulp (see notes)
  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 10-12 saffron strands
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom

Instructions

Make the Mango Milk base

  • In a heavy pot, add the full fat milk, bring it to boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 25-30 mins until its reduced to 1/3 rd of its volume. We dont want to thicken a lot else it will become rabri. Add condensed milk or sugar and mix well. Let simmer for another 8-10 minutes.
  • Once the milk looks velvety, switch off the stove. We dont want it to reduce or thicken a lot. Mix in the nuts,saffron & cardamom while still warm, mix and cover the milk with a lid to let cool down for 15 minutes. Once a bit cooled mix in the mango pulp. Transfer to a wide dish(wide enough so that chenna discs can be soaked in milk in a single layer when we add them). Refrigerate to chill while we make chenna patties.
  • Make the Chenna
  • Set milk to a boil in a heavy pot. Line your colander with cheesecloth/muslin.
    Once the milk is boiling, switch off the flame,wait for a minute and immediately add vinegar to it followed by ice cubes. Stir gently 2-3 times. You will see that the milk starts curdling. Let the curds form, don’t stir a lot. Once you see that all the milk has curdled and a greenish whey has separated, the ice cube would have melted awaty. Strain the curdled milk through a muslin/cheese cloth. 
  • Pour some cold water to remove the traces of vinegar. Let water flow away for 3-4 minutes and then bring together ends of the cheesecloth and tie into a small pouch. Hang it for about 20-25 minutes over sink to remove some liquid from the chenna. When the liquid stops dripping, chenna is ready to knead.
  • Make the Chenna Patties
  • Transfer the chenna to a wide dish, add the cornstarch and using the base of your palm, knead the chenna for around 8 minutes to a smooth. Use the heel of your palm, press and push the chenna away from your while kneading it. By the end it will feel soft and creamy and come together in a soft dough. Bring it all together, form into a ball, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • In a wide pot, add the sugar and water for the syrup, add the cardamom pods and set to bring it to a rolling boil. 
  • Pinch small lime size portions of the kneaded chenna and make smooth round balls.Flatten slightly into discs.
  • Once the syrup is boiling, slowly add the chenna patties in there. Dont lower the heat. Once you have added all the patties, cover the pot and let boil vigrously for 10-12 mins. You will see that the patties will grown in size (almost double or more). Dont reduce the stive else thet will deflate.
  • After 10-12 minutes, when you see that the patties are firm, switch off the flame. Do not open the lid immediately. Let sit for 6-8 minutes. Add the ice cubes next and then let the patties soak in syrup for 1-2 hours.

Assemble the Rasmalai

  • To the chilled sweet mango milk, add the cooled and soaked chenna balls. Press the chenna balls just a little before adding to sweet milk. Let chill overnight or atleast 8 hours before serving.
  • Add diced mango and extra nuts when serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. If you do not want to use condensed milk, you can use sugar. condensed milk gives a smoother milky taste. 
  2. Use full fat milk. Dont use skim milk. Boiling milk and curdling it at a right temperature will give you softest chenna. Soft chenna means soft patties. Its simple. Bring milk to a boil and then switch off the stove before adding the curdling agent (I use white vinegar). This is super important else the chenna granules will be tough.
  3. Squeeze optimum amount of whey from chenna for a set period of time, we dont want to get rid of all the liquid because we need the fat and moisture both during kneading. When you hang the chenna and it stops dripping yet its moist will give the best texture of the rasmalai. Understanding these things comes with practice and patience so don’t give up easily if you mess up a few times.
  4. After draining, chenna must not be sticky. It should be crumbly. If chenna feels sticky, hang it a bit more.
  5. Kneading for how long is again a play of feel and impulse. Knead continuously for a good 6-8 minutes atleast to start with. Once the chenna starts feeling soft and lacey, its ready. Depends on the quality of your milk (fat quantity, homogenization process etc).
  6. If you are using fresh mangoes, grind them to a smooth pump and sieve to remove any fibers etc before adding to milk. You can used tinned mango pulp as well if you cannot find sweet mangoes. Works well.


Desserts/Baking

Mango Royale

Mango Royale or Mango Icebox cake is a Fillipino layered dessert made with graham crackers, fresh mango and sweetened whipped cream. Its an incredibly easy dessert to make and perfect for summer. In my version, I use coconut biscuits(cookies) instead of graham crackers and add a little desiccated coconut to keep the mango-coconut theme going. Cloud like whipped cream scented with ground green cardamom and bites of luscious ripe mango make this easy peasy dessert so delightful.

What are Ice box cakes? Icebox cakes are simply cookies and whipped cream layered together with nuts, chocolate or seasonal fruit and chilled for a long time or frozen overnight. The cookies get soft after absorbing the moisture from whipped cream and the cake can be cut into neat slices. They are a fun thing to make with kids since no baking is involved. You can add fresh fruits or any kind of cookies or flavors to create the profile you like.

These cakes are rich and decadent but very delicious. They are messy to eat and I think thats how they are supposed to be enjoyed. These cakes need a handful of ingredients and are really a fun dessert to put together with kids. You can freeze them like a an ice-cream, slice and serve or chill them till the cookies are set and soften.

Use saffron to flavor the whipped cream, it pairs very well with mango. You can use marie or digestives as well in place of coconut biscuits. Th only thing to keep in mind is to not overly whip the cream. It should be whipped to soft peak consistency.

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Mango IceBox cake

A layered coconut coockies, whiped cream amd fresh mango dessert.
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Fillipino, Indian
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk, cold
  • 1/2 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 18-20 Nice Coconut Cookies (or 10 full graham cracker sheets)
  • 2 cup diced ripe mangoes
  • 2-3 tbsp dessicayed coconut, lightly toasted

Instructions

  • In a large bowl add the whipped cream amd whip it on low for 3 minutes.
  • Add cardamom powder and slowly start adding condensed milk in parts and whipping at the same time till very soft peaks are formed. Takes about 3-4 minutes on low medium speed of hand beater. If you feel that the cream is getting warm, immediately refrigerate it for 30 minutes and continue again. More chilled the cream, better it whips.
  • Line the container in which you want to make the cake. I used a 7 inch by 7 inch (4.75 cup) glass container. Use ny kind of baking tray or cake pan, rectangular is better since then you wont have to break the cookies to fit.
  • Add a layer of cover to cover the base, followed by 1 inch layer of whipped cream smoothen out with a spatula or back of spoon, sprinkle some desiccated coconut and then add about 1/2 cup diced mangoes. Repeat to form 3 or 4 layers depending on how thick you like the cake finsihing with cream layer on top.
  • Cover with a cling film amd chill the cake for atleast 6 hours. You can freeze it as well overnight. I like chilled version more, its softer, if you like to freeze it, peel away the parchment, slice off using a sharp knife and then let it thaw for 10 minutes since that makes it melt in the mouth 🙂
  • Slice and serve. Enjoy!
Desserts/Baking

Chai Mug Cake

This mug cake is like eating chai in a cake form. Each bite is soft and is aromatic with chai spices like green cardamom and cinnamon.It is an eggless cake that comes together with basic pantry ingredients. Mug cakes are hugely popular with my kids and every time I made them, I always wondered how to make them a bit more unique and adult friendly. If you are a fan of milky chai, this cake is for you. The inspiration for this mug cake came from this recipe on Maria’s blog, I used her amazing idea, but developed my own recipe measurements.

This cake is so fluffy and it tastes of chai. It is quick to make and definitely a keeper recipe. I like my chai on the less sweet side so this cake isn’t very sweet.

What are mug cakes? Mug cakes are simple cakes baked in the mug in a microwave. All the ingredients are added to the mug, mixed and cooked in the microwave. They are quick, small portion and satisfy the cake cravings.

What kind of tea to use? I simply use plain orange pekoe tea bags from the indian grocery stores. You can use english black tea bags as well. Just make sure to use the unflavored ones.

Can it be made nut free? Yes. I add fine ground almond meal to this cake for a nutty bite and also because I love almonds, but I have tested the recipe with just flour as well and you can skip the almond and replace with equivalent flour.

What kind of milk? Can I use Mylk? I use regular 2 percent milk here but you can use whole milk as well. Avoid using fat free milk since the fat in the milk does add to taste and moistness of cake. I haven’t tested this recipe with non dairy milk so I cannot say how the taste or texture will be.

Can I use oil in place of ghee? Yes. Absolutely. But ghee does add to the taste and aroma of the cake. You can use unsalted butter or any neutral oil as well.

Can I add ginger since I like adrak chai? I tried adding ground ginger to the recipe and I found it a bit overpowering. You can add a few thin slices of ginger to hot milk while you steep the tea bags and a mild ginger flavor does come through.

How to serve? I simply dust it with powdered sugar but my kids loved it with whipped cream. You can also add a dollop of spiced buttercream as well. You decide 🙂

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Chai Mug Cake

Chai in a cake form. A simple cake made with steeped tea bags and flavored with chai spices.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Servings: 1 mug cake

Equipment

  • 1 mug tall enough to not overflow when cake rises in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup boiling hot milk
  • 2 plain black tea bags, I use wagh bakri
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp fine ground almond meal see notes if you want to just use flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted ghee or unslated butter or neutral oil
  • pinch of ground cinnamon & green cardamom

Instructions

  • Add the tea bags to the mug. Pour over boiling hot milk over the tea bags. Alternatively you can first warm up the milk in the mug in the microwave and then add the tea bags to it. Set aside to let the tea bags steep for 8-10 minutes for a strong flavor of tea.
  • Once the tea bags have steeped, squeeze them very well using a spatula or back of spoon to strain all the milk. Discard the tea bags. Do not skip this part else the quantity of milk will be less in the recipe.
  • To the tea flavored milk, add the flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, melted ghee and ground spices. Using a spoon mix very well until the batter is not lumpy. After adding all the ingredients, your mug should be half full, this will ensure that the cake will not overflow when it rises in the microwave.
  • Microwave for 1 minute + 25-30 seconds in a full power mode (My microwave is 1000 watts) Every microwave is different, so you might need to tweak the time a bit. Use a long skewer inserted in the center of the cake to check for doneness if you arent sure if the cake is cooked.
  • Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy while still warm.

Notes

  1. If you don’t want to use almonds, simply used 1/4 cup of flour.
  2. Measure the ghee when its melted. Use any neutral oil like canola or vegetable if you don’t want to use ghee.
Brunch · Desserts/Baking

Sooji (Semolina) Halwa

Halwa is a runny pudding made in indian homes using different kinds of grains, flours, nuts, lentils as well as fruits and vegetables.Halwa is usually pretty quick to whip up and quite popular due to ease of cooking and that it requires basic ingredients that our available in our homes. . Semolina halwa in north indian homes is cooked in a blink to translate any occasion- big or little into a celebration. It is one of the frequently cooked meetha(dessert) in my home, much more than kheer. Thats partly because, growing up my grandma made it everyday was an offering after prayers. A small bowl of nutty, melt in the mouth halwa appeared mid morning infront of us, glistening with ghee and scented with ground black cardamom. It is one of my loved memory of her- of my badi mummy, wrapped in a starched cotton saree feeding us halwa every morning 🙂

You need very basic and few ingredients for this recipe- fine semolina, ghee, sugar and whichever flavor you like- cardamom, rose or saffron. This recipe can be easily made vegan, just swap ghee with coconut oil, you can add a handful of shredded coconut to elevate the coconut flavor in that case. The halwa can be made in about 30 minutes, the most effort and patience is needed while roasting the semolina in ghee, else this is a quick recipe.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you make Sooji Halwa:-

Kind of Semolina (Sooji) – Its best to use fine semolina when making the halwa, the texture comes our great, its melt in the mouth. Avoid coarse semolina.

Water or Milk:- You can use either, or you can use a combination of both. I use water, not only it keeps the color of the dark amber halwa intact but it avoids the halwa from getting too rich (there is already quite a bit of ghee in there!) Also keep in mind that milk will make the halwa a bit soft or sticky to taste.

Sugar or Jaggery or Honey- Again you can use either but traditionally sugar is used and I do the same. If you are using jaggery, don’t use milk. If you use honey, the halwa will be quite sticky and has the tendency to easily burn while you “bhuno” it, since honey caramelizes fast. Also keep in mind that the taste profile sweetened with honey or jaggery is quite different from the traditional recipe.

Nuts & Flavors– Anyting you like! I like almonds and raisins because those were what my grandmother used to use. You can add cashews, makhana or pistachios or shredded coconut as well. As for the flavors, I add black cardamom seeds fresh pounded in mortar pestle and a tiny bit of rose water. You don’t taste the rose as such but it adds a nice floral aroma to the halwa. You can choose green cardamom, saffron, even vanilla 🙂

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Sooji(semolina) Halwa

Also know as sheera, Sooji Halwa is a semolina pudding made with simple pantry staples- semolina, ghee & sugar. It tastes heavenly and takes just 30 mins to make.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • A heavy kadhai (preferable iron) or cast iron pan, sauce pan, bowls and spoons etc

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup melted ghee
  • 1/2 cup fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (can go down to 1/3 cup if you prefer less sweet halwa)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee (optional)
  • 2 tbsp raisins (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)
  • 1 whole black cardamom seeds removed and crushed to a fine powder in mortar pestl
  • 7-8 almonds, thinly sliced (Use any nuts you like)
  • 1/2 tbsp rose water

Instructions

  • Add the ghee and semolina to iron kadhai (or cast iron pan). Mix well for 2 minutes so that you see all the semolina is covered in ghee. Place the kadhai on a low medium stove and begin roasting the semolina. You will have to keep an eye and keep stirring frequently for it can burn easily.
  • While the semolina is roasting, add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan or pot and set on the other stove on medium heat. In about 5-8 minutes, the sugar will dissolve in water. Switch off the stove, dont cook the syrup. We dont want any string consistency or anything. Keep the syrup near and warm.
  • Coming back to semoilina, keep on roasting it while stirring it making sure to scrape it from the bottom of the kadhai, it burns that way easily. Roast the semolina for good 10- 15 minutes(see notes) till you see that the ghee has begun to seperate and the semolina granules are dark brown in color. There should be no black specks of semolina- that means the semolina has burnt, a conistent medium heat and contuinal stirring ensures that wont happen.
  • Reduce the stove to low, and slowly add the warm sugar syrup from one side of the kadhai to the semolima while stirring it at the same time with the other hand, this makes sure that no lumps are formed. There will be spluttering so watch out.
  • As soon as the syrup is added, you will see a puddle followed by big bubbles in a minute on the surface of the halwa, your will notice that the semolina granules begin to swelled up. it will be runny, let the halwa cook on low heat. Add the raisins, almomds and black cardamom powder now.
  • Keep stirring everything gently and continue to cook the halwa for 3-4 minutes on low heat. Add 1-2 tbsp of ghee (if you wish)and mix well. The halwa will be glistening and of thick smoothie like pourable consistency by the end of 5-6 minutes. Dont let all the liquid absorb. Switch off the stove. Mix in the rose water. The halwa will thicken as it sits.
  • Serve warm garnished with nuts. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. If you don’t want a dark halwa, no problem, roast the semolina for just 5-7 minutes, until its golden in color. Rest of the recipe remains the same. 
Desserts/Baking

Rose Pistachio Mawa Ladoo

Ladoos are must on any indian festival and these nutty beauties are super easy to whip up. Mawa makes them so creamy and melt in the mouth and the floral notes of rose water together with meaty pistachios is a match made in heaven. If you are still looking for something easy to make on Holi, try these ladoos.

These are ridiculously easy to whip up and all you need is 3 ingredients. When a recipe calls for few ingredients, I recommend good quality ones since it makes all the difference in the taste. Use fresh pistachios which are sweeter in taste, mawa with a good quality of fat content(you won’t need much ghee then) and rose water or rose essence that is not more than 6 months old.

These ladoos are not overly sweet and I like them that way, you can increase the powdered sugar by couple tablespoons if desired. I like to chop the pistachios on a cutting board instead of using a grinder, I feel that way I can control the texture of the nut powder and the taste is better too.

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Rose Pistachio Mawa Ladoo

3 ingredient, nutty Mawa Pistachio ladoos flavored with rose.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins

Ingredients

  • 200 gms mawa/mava,crumbled
  • 7 tbsp powdered/confectioners sugar
  • 180 gms coarse pistachio powder +1/4 chopped pistachios(optional) ,see notes
  • 1.5 tbsp rose water (or 1-2 drops of rose essence)
  • 1-2 tsp ghee (optional, if needed for rolling ladoos)

Instructions

  • Add mawa/mava to a nonstick pan. Place the pan on stove,switch on the stove on low heat. Let the mawa soften. Mawa softens very quickly and needs attention so that it dosent get burnt. Keep stirring using a spatula.
  • I didnt need to add any extra ghee to mawa, if you feel your mawa is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of ghee.
  • Once mawa is soft(dont let brown), immediately add the sugar and pistachios together. Mix well untill nicely combined. Keep the heat low, cook everything for 1-2 minutes.
  • Switch off the stove and mix in the rose water and chopped pistachios(if using). Wait for 5 minutes or until the mixture feels cool enough to handle. Dont let the mixture completely cool down.
  • Smear some ghee on your hands and divide into 8-10 equal portions. Roll into smooth ladoos. Store for 3-4 days refrigerated.

Notes

  1. I lightly dry toast the pistachios for 2-3 minutes on a hot skillet. Don’t let the color change, toasting helps in blooming the oils of nuts.
  2. The sugar quantity can go up to 9-10 tablespoons if you like sweeter ladoos. 
  3. I chop the pistachios on a cutting board to a coarse fine powder instead of using a grinder. It takes a bit of effort but the texture and taste of nuts is really better that way. 
  4. You can replace rose with cardamom or saffron flavor if desired. 
Desserts/Baking

Thandai Spiced Badam Nankhatai

Crumbly, nutty nankhatai are everyone’s favorite. I make them often especially for the kids with different flavors and nuts. I make them with besan only, or sometimes with a mix of different flours- all purpose & semolina. There are truly so many combinations of flours and flavors.

This was the cookie which I grew up with. We had a round aluminum oven at my grandma’s place and it saw light of the day just to bake nankhatais. Every two weeks we had a fun baking session with my siblings, aunts and mom and we made tons of nankhatai. The texture of nankhatai is unique- its crumbly yet soft and mouthful. They should be crisp outside but still have a melt in the mouth centre. These nankhatai are super easy to make, just need a handful of ingredients and make for a good treat anytime.

Some tips to keep in mind when making Nankhatai.

  • I use ghee to make the dough. The ghee should be softened, it should not be melted. It should not be solid. It should be similar to softened butter. The flours bind using just ghee and no other wet ingredient, so its important that the ghee is measured properly(too much will make the cookies spread) and is of the right consistency .
  • I make nankhatai using just chickpea flour many a times (will share recipe sometime), however I feel using all purpose flour gives a nice body to the cookies and besan gives an amazing taste. Semolina can be added as well for extra crispiness.
  • The kind of sugar which is suitable is confectioners sugar or powdered sugar. Please dont use granulated or raw sugar ground at home. Store bough powdered sugar has a little bit of cornstarch which helps in the texture of the cookies.
  • Nut powder- If you have allergies, you can skip it and substitute it with equal quantity of flour. Or substitute with any kind of nut powder you fancy- cashew & pistachios work great. However keep in mind to use finely ground nuts in this recipe. Finely ground almonds are different from almond meal. If you have almond meal at home, process it to fine before using.
  • Th best way to know the if the dough is right is so feel it. The dough should come together in a ball and it should be soft yet firm. The dough should not be sticky at all. If it sticking to your hands, that means that you added more ghee and this will make the cookies spread too much when they bake, so add little flour to firm up the dough.
  • I used thandai spices(not powder) to spice up these nankhatai, you can use just cardamom powder if you wish.
  • I used gel colors to the dough in the spirit of festival of Holi, you can skip the colors and make them traditional as well.
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Thandai Spiced Nankhatai

Crumbly ghee loaded indian shortbread which are suitable for festivals, as a snack or any occasion.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 20 one bite shortbreads

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, cookie sheet, measuring spoons and cups

Ingredients

For The Nankhatai

  • 75 gms (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
  • 25 gms(1/4 cup) besan
  • 20 gms (about 1/4 cup) finely ground almond powder
  • 75 gms(10tbsp) powdered sugar
  • 75-100 gms (1/3 cup – 1/2 cup) softened ghee, not melted adjust depending on consistency of dough
  • 1 tsp thandai spice powder (recipe below)

Thandai Spice (makes extra)

  • 1 tsp (8-10) black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 3-4 saffron threads

Instructions

  • Add all the thandai spices to a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.
  • Place a sieve over a large bowl and sift flour, almond flour, powdered sugar and besan. Make sure that there are no lumps.
  • Add the thandai spice powder and mix with fingers to combine.
  • Add softened ghee in parts, a little at a time and start mixing with the other hand(or a soft spatula) at the same time to incorporate the ghee. Mix very well, we want to moisten each and every speck of flours with ghee- makes for a crumbly nankhatai.
  • Incorporate ghee as needed to make a soft yet firm dough. You will use anywhere from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup depending upon the absorption quality of your flour.The dough should not be loose or sticky. If needed due to wamr weather, refrigerate the dough to make handling easier.
  • Once the dough is formed, divide into 4 portions and and add gel color of your choice to dye each portion.
  • Pinch small portions (these spread a bit) of the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with paper. You can press a whole raw almond on top or any nut of choice. Place the cookies a bit apart since these spread a little(not much).
  • Refrigerate for 10 minutes(dont skip). Meanwhile preheat the oven to 325F.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes till the bottoms are light golden in color. Cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!
Desserts/Baking

Caramel Custards

These baked, thick & creamy, easy custards are super quick to make with a few basic ingredients from your pantry. This recipe gives a velvety pudding which has a toffee like sweetness and smokiness from the caramel. It is almost like a flan but instead of having a caramel base, the custards are mixed with caramel sauce and baked off. They are immensely smooth to dive into & with some fresh fruit, one of the best desserts there can be.

My husband is a huge fan of ice-cream and custards and I make these often. Even the kids love it for there is caramel in there. A little bit of sea salt cuts the caramel perfectly. These are incredibly rich and creamiest – a small portion is enough to satisfy.

What is a Caramel Custard? A caramel custard is a creamy custard made with egg yolks, cream and milk. It is mixed with scratch made caramel, flavored with vanilla(you can add cardamom or saffron instead for a different flavor profile) and the baked at a low temperature in a water bath. Doing so leads to gentle cooking of the custard and makes sure that the eggs aren’t curdled and the texture of the custard is smooth. I really love the golden color of these custards.

These custards keep well for 2-3 days in the fridge. Make sure you are using good quality ingredients, because when a recipe calls for very few, the best ingredients make it delicious.

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Caramel Custard

A rich and smooth caramel flavored custard made with simple pantry ingredients like eggs, milk and sugar.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, French, Mexican
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, sauce pan,whisk, baking tray

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk (or 2%, dont use fat free)
  • 6 egg yolks,(from large size eggs)
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp sugar (substitute with brown sugar for extra smokiness)
  • Pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • To a heavy(important) bottom sauce pot, add the sugar and pour the water slowly so as not to scatter sugar on sides of the pot.
  • Place the pot on a meduim stove and let the sugar melt. Dont stir. However when you see that the sugar is starting to melt, you can gently swirl the pot.
  • Once the sugar starts to melt, keep a watch since it can quickly burn. Can take about 6-8 minutes for the sugar to melt.
  • When the sugar is completely melted, it should be a nice amber color (and not too dark), remove the pot from the stove and continously whisking, add the heavy cream.
  • Return the pot to the stove and cook whisking in between for another 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, switch off the stove, take off the sauce pot and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 300F. Place 4 ramekins in a baking tray(deep enough to fill water)
  • In a large bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar and whisk for 3-4 minutes until pale and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the milk and vanilla next and whisk again. By now, the caramel should have cooled down. Pour it over the egg mixture & milk mixture. Mix everything to combine.
  • Strain the custard base using a soup sieve into a jug.
  • Pour into the ramekins. Fill up the baking tray with hot water untill 1/3 red level of the ramekins.
  • Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until set and the centres are firm.
  • Take out of the water bath once cooked, cool to room temperature. Cover the ramekins with cling film or foil and chill for atleast 6 hours before serving.
  • Serve with a few sea salt flakes(optional) and fresh fruit.