Easy Recipes · Festival Recipes · Gluten Free · Rice Dishes · Uncategorized

Gud Ke Chawal (Jaggery Rice)

Jaggery sweetened rice perfumed with spices. A traditional north indian rice dish which is made during winter months. Though I like to consume jaggery all year round, but growing up it was mostly available during colder months- jaggery is a powerhouse of nutrients particularly iron and keeps the body warm during winters.

I wasn’t too fond of these sweet rice growing up. It was a bit naive of me but as I grew up I started to appreciate these traditional and unique recipes more and more. There is a specific reason behind the selection of spices and the addition of sweetners as per the season. When done right, a warm bowl of jaggery rice is soul satisfying. Being refined sugar free and also not being overly sweet, my recipe will not leave you feeling guilty of sugar overload.

The recipe is very simple and uses 4-5 basic ingredients which you can find in your pantry. Rice, Jaggery, ghee, spices and nuts of your choice is all you need. The only tricky part is to make sure that the rice remains soft after cooking in jaggery syrup. For that, don’t overcook the syrup. The syrup is ready when the jaggery melts, immediately take it off the stove, we dont want any string consistency or anything. Secondly add the boiled rice while its still hot to the syrup. If the rice gets cold they won’t cook properly and will become hard.

These rice taste much better after resting for a bit and they taste better the next day so do plan a bit of leftovers(you can double the recipe if you wish).

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1/2 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110 gms jaggery (dont use powdered or grated jaggery)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sliced coconut (use any nuts of choice)
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg(optional)

Method

Wash rice under a stream of water 2-3 times. Soak the rice for 25 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, set the 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, add the jaggery along with 2 tbsp water and put on low stove to melt. The jaggery will melt in 5-7 minutes, just stir it once or twice to make sure that its not sticking to the bottom. Once melted, immediately take off the stove, dont let boil. Keep the syrup warm.

To the boiling water, add pinch of salt and add the soaked rice (after discarding the water in which you soaked them). Stir the rice gently once or twice and on medium heat let the rice boil. We have to boil the rice till its 90% cooked. The rice variety I use takes about 8-10 minutes(time will vary depending on quality of your rice). To check the doneness of rice, take a grain and try to pinch it between your thumb and finger, it should not break easily rather spread and feel almost cooked.

While the rice is boiling, in a wide pan, add the ghee and let it melt. Keep the stove on low and once the ghee has melted, add the bayleaf, clove and cardamoms to it. Saute the spices on low heat for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them.Add the coconut slices, almonds and raisins next and saute for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them. Carefully, add the warm jaggery syrup (it might splutter). Keep the stove on low so that syrup dosent boil.

Strain the cooked rise using a sieve and immediately add to the pan. Using a spatula gently fold the rice with the syrup taking care not to break the rice. Once all the rice is covered in syrup, cover the pan and let simmer for 20-25 minutes on low heat until all the syrup is absorbed. You will see that the bubbles will settle down and the rice will be shiny from ghee. Switch off the stove and let the rice sit covered for 15 mins.

Add a fresh grate of nutmeg(optional), fluff using a spatula or fork and serve warm. It taste good with a dollop of creme fraiche 🙂

Enjoy!

Uncategorized

Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites

The crust is made with buttery ginger snaps and the filling is cream cheese spiced with warm ground spices- cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and ginger . It all works so beautiful together and the balance of cheese and spices is just so wonderful.

I am so fond of mini cheesecake bites (more than the entire cheesecake itself) and played around with my recipe to make it holiday friendly. These are much simpler to make than an entire cheesecake and they are super easy. All you need is a block of cream cheese, an egg, sugar and spices for the filling. For the crust I used ginger snaps but you can use cinnamon grahams or chocolate cookies or anything you like.

It took me a while to wake up to gingerbread since the first time I tasted it. Even for someone like me who adores spices, a few bad baked ones spoilt my palate for it before I took matters into my hands and came up with the right ginger spice blend for us 🙂

Make sure that the cheese and egg are room temperature else the filling won’t be smooth. This is important for the cream cheese to blend well.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 10-12)

For the Crust

  • 12-14 ginger snaps
  • 1.5 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese (please dont use low fat or no fat), softened at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • Toppings – whipped cream or caramel, nuts, melted chocolate, toffee sauce etc

Method

Line your 12 muffin/cupcake pan with liners and preheat oven to 350F.

Add the ginger snaps to a food processor fitted with metal blade, add butter and crust them to a fine powder. Put a heaping tablespoon in each liner and press down using back of a cup or spoon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients under the filling (except topping) and using a hand mixer, beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add about 1/4 cup to the cupcake liners filling with crust. You can add the filling in a ziplock bag and pour too. So I had planned for 12 cheesecakes but ran out after 11th one was filled 🙂 Once filled, tap the pan a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until set, little jiggly in the centre is fine. Once baked, switch off the stove, open the door and let the cakes be there for a 10 mins. Pull out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool down completely.

Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. Add toppings as you wish.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

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Spiked Pomegranate Ginger Slushie

A drink so perfect for the holidays, both with its gorgeous color and the flavors. Unsweetened pomegranate juice (you can press your own too for its pomegranate season mixed with homemade ginger syrup. Ginger syrup is one the most warming things to have on the kitchen counter or in home bar at this time of the year. It is so simple to make and takes only a few minutes.

You can switch up the spirit depending on what you fancy, but vodka or gin pair quite well. However a touch of rum might go as well. This is one of my favorite things to make during holidays and sip on near the freplace. We dont have snowdays in Las Vegas but the temperatures can get quite chilly and this drink is just so warming for those days.

Recipe

Ginger Syup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sliced fresh ginger (you can leave the skin on if its organic)

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a slow boil. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes so that the flavor of ginger steeps. Switch the stove off and let stand until the syrup cools down. Strain into a container in store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. You can use the ginger in baking if you wish.

Pomegranate Ginger Slushie

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

  • 4 cups ice
  • 2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (not too tart, if you can blood oranges use those)
  • 1 cup ginger syrup
  • 1/3 cup Gin (or more if you wish)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Fresh pomegranate arils (to serve)

Method

Place all the ingredients in jar of a high speed blender. On smoothie mode or if your blender has a slushy side, pulse until the drink is slushy.

Pour into serving glasses, garnish with pomegranate arils or as you please.

Enjoy!

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Spiced Honey Cake

With its dark golden crumb and flavor of floral honey in each bite, this cake is so perfect with a cup of tea for much needed warmth on a cold fall evening. The cake is refined sugar free and is wholly sweetened with honey. It is nicely dense (as most bundt cakes are) and so very satiating. The warmth from the spices enhances the floral notes of honey as well as makes your kitchen smell wonderful while the cake bakes. Since honey cakes tend to become dry sometimes, the recipe uses full fat greek yogurt, which makes it incredibly moist. A few lashings of whipped chocolate honey on top makes it ideal to be enjoyed as a dessert too. 

I am a huge fan of teacakes. Not only they make teatime special but they are incredibly easy to make. You do not need to make a frosting (less work!) and I mostly make mine without a mixer, this recipe is such. You just need two bowls!

The cake very keeps well in the fridge for a few days. I suggest to warm up a slice when serving, its so delicious when warmed a bit.

Recipe

Makes 1 10-inch Bundt 

Time – 30 minutes (plus baking  & cooling time)

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sunflower/vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon full fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)

For Drizzling

  • 1/3 cup whipped chocolate honey(or you can use chocolate glaze)

Method 

  1. Liberally spray or brush the sides and center flute of a 10- inch bundt pan with oil. Set aside. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the middle. 
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and all the spice powders together. This makes sure that everything is lump free. Set aside. 
  4. In another large bowl, crack the eggs and beat them lightly. Measure oil first and add it to the eggs. Without wiping, use the same cup in which you measured oil to measure the honey. Add to the bowl as well. Also add the yogurt and zest(if using), whisk everything nicely to combine. 
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the honey mixture, stir and fold gently with a spatula to mix everything, don’t over mix. 
  6. Pour the batter into the bundt pan (it is a runny batter so it will level itself) and bake in oven until a skewer comes out clean, 38-42 minutes. 
  7. Take the cake pan out of the oven and place on the counter and let the cake cool for 25 minutes in the pan. . 
  8. Loosen the cake from the pan using a thin spatula or a butter knife and invert on a cooling rack to completely cool down. 
  9. Drizzle American Raw honey whipped chocolate honey letting it drip along the sides. Slice and serve. 
Non vegetarian · Side Dishes · Uncategorized

A Thanksgiving Meal

This post is in collaboration with Ninja Kitchen.

Thanksgiving in 2020 is going to be so different than last years. We rarely stay home during Thanksgiving, either we visit friends or take short family trips. However, things are different this year but that should definitely stop us from celebrating with good food.

Since we are a small family, I love making cornish hens during the holiday which are abundantly available at this time of the year. There are a few simple sides, a minty yogurt raita and doughy naan. We love everything spice and hence the birds get a generous dose of spices in the form of my tandoori spiced compound butter.

Since we are a small family, I love making cornish hens during the holiday which are abundantly available at this time of the year. There are a few simple sides, a minty yogurt raita and doughy naan. We love everything spice and hence the birds get a generous dose of spices in the form of my tandoori spiced compound butter.

This recipe is different from tandoori spice paste recipe which I shared a few years ago. The is a dry rub, a mix of powdered spices which I mix with softened butter and then rub all over the bird and roast it. The bird comes out so so moist, it is incredibly delicious and there is lingering aroma of warm spices in your kitchen.

Since the bird is generously spiced, I keep the sides pretty simple. The garlic, cumin and kasoori methi roasted potatoes and simply roasted brussel sprouts pair well. The compound butter is so amazing and trust me you need to make extra and keep it in your fridge. It will go so well on tofu, paneer, fish or simply roasted vegetables.

Recipes

Tandoori Spiced Compound butter

For the tandoori masala

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom, seeds only
  • 2 green cardamom, seeds only
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 twigs mace
  • 1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), crushed fine between palms
  • 1/2 tbsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tbsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Compound butter

  • 1 cup unsalted butter , very soft but not melting
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 tbsp chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Minced garlic & ginger (if you want a pronounced flavor)
  • 1-3 tbsp of tandoori masala (adjust to taste)
  • Salt

Method

Make the Tandoori Masala :- Lightly dry toast the cumin, coriander, cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and mace in a small pan for 2-3 minutes. Cool down the spices completely. Transfer to a spice grinder and make into a fine powder. Sieve the spices to make sure that their are no pieces left. In a bowl, add the spices along with rest of the spices listed. Mix everything very well. This masala can be stored in air tight container for up to two months.

Make the Compound Butter : – In a medium bowl, add the butter, oil, minced ginger and garlic (if using), chilli flakes and tandoori masala. Using a small spatula, mix everything very well. Let sit for atleast 30 minutes before using.

Tandoori Spiced Roasted Cornish Hens

  • 3 cornish hens, fresh or thawed(if using frozen)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • Tandoori spiced compound butter
  • Oil for basting

Method : Make sure that the hens are properly thawed if using frozen. Using a paper towel, completely dry them. Massage the hens with the compound butter all over.Also massage the cavity liberally. If you are using hens with skin, slide your fingers to loosen the skin and massage the butter on the breast area properly. Once massaged, let the hens sit at room temperature for one hour before roasting. I dont, but if you want, you can fill the cavity with lemon slices or herbs.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer the hens to a roasting pan lined with foil (makes cleaning easy). If you dont have roasting pan, you can use foil trays with a small rack over it. do not place the hens directly on the pan, it prevents circulation of heat and the bottoms will become watery. Roast the hens for 40- 60 minutes until the temperature at the thickest part reads 165F.

If using Ninja Foodi Smart XL grill, preheat the grill on roast with preset Chicken. Once the the grill is heated it will prompt you to add food, place the hens in the roaster tray, insert the Foodi Smart thermometer between the thigh and leg and press start. The grill will automatically set the time need to reach the temperature of 165 F for well done. Once the cooking is over, the grill will shut off.

Let the hens rest covered for 15 minutes and in the mean time you can make the sides.

Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb russet potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Method :- Mix everything together, place on a single layer in a baking sheet and and roast in a 400F oven or 30-35 mins until the potato skins are crisped and they are browned.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb brussel sprouts, washed & prepped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Olive oil

Method:- Toss the brussel sprouts with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 400F over for 8-10 minutes.

Uncategorized

Garlic- Methi Poori

Poori are a festival favorite. These pooris are so delicious eaten as it is or with your favorite curry. I like to use fresh chopped methi leaves and a combination of flours which makes them just so crisp and perfect texture.

A few tablespoons of sooji(semolina) make the pooris crisp and alsohelps in making the dough not too soggy since semolina can absorb a lot of moisture. My mom always adds a little bit of grated potato to dough that she makes for pooris or bhaturas and really it make a huge difference in the taste and texture even though you cannot really taste the potato.

Make a firm dough and rest it for at least 30 minutes. Resting helps in mingling of flavors as well as the pooris come out crisp from outside and soft from inside.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 12-15 pooris)

  • 1/2 cup maida (all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 3 tbsp fine semolina (sooji)
  • 1.5 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped methi (fenugreek) leaves
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small potato (yield 1/4 cup) boiled potato, grated (not mashed)
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • Red chilli powder to taste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 5 tbsp water for kneading (or as needed)
  • Oil for frying (about 3 cups)

Method

In a wide paraat/dish sift the flours. Add the garlic, chopped methi, cilantro and all the spices. Using your hands, mix everything so that all the spices, greens and potatoes are evenly distributed.

Add the oil and mix again with the flour mixture. Add salt, mix and start adding water little by little. We want to make a tight but not a dry dough. I used about 5 tablespoons of water to get to the right dough, you might need less or more depending on the quality of your flour. Also keep in mind that due to salt in the dough, the methi leaves and cilantro will release water so the dough will get a bit soft as it rests.

Keep adding water and kneading the dough, pressing down using your knuckles, gathering it again by folding it over itself and kneading again. It will take about 5-7 minutes of kneading to get a firm dough. Make it into a ball and place in in a container and cover with a lid. Do not leave the dough to rest without covering it. Let the dough rest for ablest 30 minutes.

Set oil to heat up in a deep kadai or pot. Pinch equal sized portions of the dough and smothen between your palms to make lime sized balls. Flatten the balls down on your work surface, (dont add any dry flour) and using a rolling pin roll into a 3 inch or 4 inch circles. Repeat for all the portions and keep the pooris covered with a dry cloth. You can use a little bit of oil if you need when rolling.

To test the oil, pinch a little portion of the dough and add it to the oil. If it comes up sizzling, oil is too hot, and if it settles to bottom, oil is cold. The dough should rise up without sizzling at the right temperature of the oil.

Fry pooris one by one. Add the rolled poori to the oil, in 2-4 seconds start pressing in down gently this will help in puffing them, these won’t puff a lot since the dough is loaded, flip and fry on second side for 8-10 seconds. Drain on a paper towel. Fry all the pooris similarly.

Serve right away or you can store them for 24 hours in your roti container.

Enjoy!

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Dahi Gujiya

Festivals are for special recipes and dahi gujiya are very popular during festivals in north indian homes. My grandmother used to make them on Holi and Diwali. The lentil batter is shaped into shape of gujiyas and they are stuffed with , chopped nuts, ginger, green chillies and raisins.

The soft and spongy gujiyas are a burst of tangy, spicy, sweet and salty. They take a few extra minutes than your usual dahi bade and biting into chopped nuts as you eat them is just heavenly.

If you do no want the stuff, you can use the recipe to make vadas as usual, minus the stuffing part, the recipe remains the same.I soak the gujiyas in hing water for about half hour and that makes a lot of difference. You can make ahead and store them for 4-5 days easily. Just fry and keep in the fridge. When you are ready to swerve, soak them in hot water before dunking in the yogurt.

Recipe

Ingredients (makes 10-12 gujiyas)

For the Gujiyas/vada

  • 1 cup split urad daal
  • 1/3 cup split yellow mung daal
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

For the stuffing

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 green chillies (to taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped cashews
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp chironji (if you can find, I could not)

For soaking

  • 3-4 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp hing

For the yogurt

  • 2.5 cups thick yourt
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup cold water (depending on how thick or thin you like the yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chaat masala (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp kala namak
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Salt to taste

Garnishes While Serving

  • Tamarind & green chutneys (to taste)
  • Chopped green chillies (to taste)
  • Bhujiya sev (to taste)
  • Pomegranate arils (to taste)
  • Chopped Cilantro (to taste)
  • Extra spices (same as above) for sprinking on top (see notes)

Notes

  • You can adjust the different spices and sugar in yogurt to your taste. I usually mix most spices that I sprinkle on top with the yogurt itself. It tastes a lot better.
  • Skip the stuffing part and make the regular vadas and dunk them in yogurt. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the lentil batter in that case and then make vadas.

Method

Step 1 :- Soak the Lentils

Place both the lentils in a large bowl and wash them a few times until the water runs clear. Soak them for not more than 5 hours. I usually soak them right in the morning when I am making chai, and make bade/gujiya at noon. If you soak them for a long time, lentil fritters tend to become oily.

Step 2 Grind the Lentils

Discard all the water from the lentils. Place them in the a high speed blender like Vitamix along with hing, green chillies and ginger. Start the blender slowly and then gradually increase the speed to medium. If you feel that the lentils need water to grind, add 1 tablespoon at a time. Don’t go beyond 2 tablespoon, use a scraper to scrape the sides of the blender. Grind everything to a almost smooth batter with just a little texture. The consistency of the batter has to be thick and pasty for the gujiyas. If you plan to make just vada without the stuffing, add extra 2 tbsp of water to the batter after grinding.

Transfer the ground lentils to a large wide bowl. In another small bowl, add 1 cup water.Keep the small bowl nearby. Start whipping the ground lentils rigorously with your hands in a circular motion. Whip them for 5-7 minutes until they are fluffy. To test if the lentils are fluffy, drop a tiny amount of ground lentils in the water in the small bowl, they should immediately float on the water. If the batter drops and settles at the bottom of water, you need to whip more. If needed, you can use a hand beater to whip the lentils.

Once lentils are whipped, add salt and whip again for 2-3 minutes.

Set enough oil in a large iron kadai or wide pan for heating up on medium low.

Step 3:-Shaping the gujiyas (Skip this step for vada)

Place a slightly thick piece of plastic (like a ziplock bag, don’t use cling film) on a flat surface. Spread a few drops of water on the plastic. Take a lime sized ball of the lentil batter. Place it on the plastic. Dip your hands in little water and flatten the lentil batter into a 3 inch circle, do not spread very thin. Put 1/2 tbsp of nut stuffing on one half of the circle (don’t add too much), lift the plastic and fold over the other half of the lentil circle to make a semi circle ( gujiya). Using wet hands, press the ends to seal nicely and make the shape neater if you wish.

Step 4:- Frying the gujiya

To check the temperature of oil, drop a little lentil batter into the oil, if it sizzles and rises up immediately, oil is too hot, if it drops to the bottom, the oil is cold.The oil should be medium hot. Carefully, peel the plastic away from the gujiya and place them in the oil. For making vada, you can drop little portions of lentil batter with a spoon in hot oil. Fry them in oil flipping once or twice till they are lightly golden.

Fry all the gujiyas/vadas same way and drain on paper towel. Fry in batches, don’t fry more than 2-3 gujiyas or 3-4 vadas at a time.

Step 5:- Soaking the gujiyas

Heat up 3-4 cups of water and add it to a large bowl. Mix in the salt and hing. Add the fried gujiyas to the warm water and press down with the help of a small plate (smaller than the diameter of the bowl). The more the area of the gujiyas will be soaked, they will be softer. Let them soak for about 20 minutes. They will become super soft and will fluff up slightly.

Take them out of the water, gently press between palms of you hands to remove water. Place the gujiyas in a container/plate, put the lid/cover and refrigerate for ablest 1.5 hours till the are chilled.

Step 6:-Make the Yogurt

While the gujiyas are chilling, you can make the yogurt. Beat the yogurt to smooth using a whisk, add water to thin out per desired consistency and then mix with all the spices and sugar. Taste and adjust the spices as you wish. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Step7:- Assemble

In a wide dish, add about 3/4 cup of yogurt that we made. Layer the chilled gujiyas in a single layer. Pour another 3/4 cup of yogurt on top. Reserve the remaining yogurt for when serving. Chill everything in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

Serve the chilled gujiyas as you wish with extra yogurt and garnishes.

Enjoy!

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Saffron Shortbread Sandwiches with Almond Cardamom filling (Eggless)

If you were to ask me about my favorite flavors of a mithai in cookie form, this is it! The eggless shortbread derives its beautiful color from saffron and the filling uses ground almonds with balmy green cardamom. They are moreish, buttery bites.

I make a point to add some kind of cookies to my diwali menu each year, in last years I have made nankhatai, cumin cookies and kaaju cookies. This is this year’s version and it hit all the right spots with us and the kids.

The shortbread dough is super easy to make and needs basic pantry ingredients- sugar, flour, butter etc. While the dough chills and bakes, you can make the filling.One hour is all it needs to make these and the guests are wowed.

You can use store bought good quality, almond meal, if you use almonds ground at home the filling might not be very white, but still as delicious.

A few things to keep in mind while making the shortbread.

  1. The butter has to be softened. Its a key to making a good shortbread. Leave the butter in a warm place for good amount of time to soften. Dont rush by microwaving it.
  2. Sift your flour and sugar. It makes a lot of difference in the texture of the shortbread.
  3. Chilling the dough (helps with texture of dough and flavors get time to mingle) and unbaked cookies.

Recipe (Makes 10-12 sandwiches)

For the shortbread

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1/2 tbsp warm milk

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp fine ground almond powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Method

  1. Grind the saffron with a pinch of sugar using mortar pestle into a fine powder. Add warm milk and let infuse.
  2. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream them for 2 minutes until fluffy. Add the saffron and orange zest and mix well.
  3. Add the sifted flour to the butter mixture and blend well. Dump onto your work surface and knead well with your hands to mix well and make a soft dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in the cling film and chill for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Line two cookies sheets with parchment.
  6. Unwrap the dough and roll it into a 1/4 inch thickness using rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
  7. Using a 2 inch biscuit or scalloped cookie cutter, cut the dough. Place the cookies on the parchment about an inch apart. Gather the scraps and repeat until all the dough is used up.
  8. Chili the cookies for 15-20 mins before baking.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the cookies for 13-16 minutes until they are starting to slightly brown on the edges. Dont overbake.
  10. Pull out the sheets, let cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Making the filling

While the dough and cookies chill, make the filling. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for 2-3 minutes until well combined. You can transfer to a piping bag to make it easier to fill the cookies.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, fill one cookie with about a tablespoon of filling and make a sandwich with the second cookie.

Store in an air tight container.

Enjoy!

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Samosa Pinwheels

These little bites are not only fun to make but super delicious too. A spicy samosa filling laced with smoky cumin and green chillies all rolled up in flaky puff pastry and baked to perfection. I like to serve them with chutney and chai and they disappear in no time.

Because these are baked in puff pastry, you dont miss the deep fried crust, however they are much quicker to put together, can be made a day ahead and kept cold in the fire and baked off right before you are ready to serve.

The filling is my go to samosa filling, a potato and pea and masala smelling of hing and green chillies. Adding a few step by step pictures in this post for easy referral. Make these for your Diwali party and serve them with cocktails or chai.

Step1

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 18-20 bites)

  • 2 puff pastry sheets (thawed overnight and kept cold)
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Melted (but cooled) butter for brushing

For the Samosa Filling

  • 2-3 potatoes, boiled (about 250 gms)
  • 1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hing
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds, crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Method

First make the samosa filling. Peel the boiled potatoes and using your hands, crumble them into small pieces, don’t mash them. Set aside.

In a medium pan, add the cooking oil and heat it up on medium low. Temper the oil with cumin, hing and coriander seeds, sauté for 20 seconds, do not let the spices burn. Add the chopped ginger and green chillies to the pan and sauté for about 10-15 seconds taking care not to burn anything. Take the pan off the stove if needed. Add peas to the pan, return to the stove and and sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook the peas for 1-2 minutes if using frozen, cook for 3-5 minutes if using fresh until the peas are soft. You might need to cover the pan in case of fresh peas.

Add the red chili powder next and sauté. Add the potatoes to the pan and mix with everything else. Reduce the heat to low and sauté on low heat for 3-5 minutes until the potatoes are warmed through and nicely combined with spices and herbs but do not turn brown. Switch off the stove. Immediately mix in rest of the ingredients – chaat masala, anardana, amchoor, roasted cumin powder. Mix, taste and adjust the salt. Mix the cilantro. Samosa filling is ready. Transfer to a bowl or let the filling completely cool down in the pan. You can make the filling a day ahead as well.

Line a large cookie baking sheet with parchment paper. Make a slurry of 1 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp water.

Making the Samosa bites. Flour your working surface and unroll the thawed puff pastry sheet. Using a rolling pin, smooth out the folds of the pastry. Spread the flour slurry on all sides of the pastry.

Add the samosa filling on long side of the pastry leaving a 1/2 inch gap. Do not over stuff. Roll gently (like you would a cinnamon bun roll) but tightly to make a log. Pinch the end gently to close. If at any time you feel that the puff pastry is getting warm, refrigerate immediately and resume work once its chilled.

Using a sharp knife, cut about 2 inch thick pinwheels out of the pastry log. Place the pinwheels on the cookie sheet 2 inches apart, they will spread.Chill the pinwheels in refrigerator for 15 minutes before you bake or you can store them covered until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 400 F (or the temperature indicated on your puff pastry brand). Brush the pinwheels nicely with melted butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown. (start checking after 16 mins so that they are not too browned)

Serve warm with chutneys and chai.

-Enjoy!

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Rose Mawa Pots de creme

This year, among other things, I had this idea to make a luscious mousse or pudding dessert using an indian mithai staple, mawa or khoya. I wanted to keep it free of eggs and gelatin though. If you cannot already tell, mawa is one of my favorite ingredients :), it is so milky and rich and kid you not, I get a little obsessed with it as the festival season approaches.

Pots de creme is a classic French dessert literally translating to pots of cream. Imagine these little creamy pots as eating a piece of burfi with a spoon.These are ridiculously easy to make and because they are quite rich, a quarter or third of a cup portion is more than enough to satiate you. The recipe makes four servings which is perfect for a small family. As the pots chill in the fridge, they set and are fragrant with floral & lemony notes of rose and elaichi (green cardamom). I used rose syrup only that’s why the color is a faint shade of pink, however you can add food color for a more pronounced color.

You cannot use milk powder in this recipe, I tried it and the texture was quite grainy. Also full fat unsweetened coconut milk is the key here, I serve them with a dollop of whipped cream however you can use coconut cream for serving as well. Chilling is an important part of the recipe and I chill them overnight, this gives time to the flavors to mingle and the right consistency to be achieved.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 4)

  • 80 gms raw cashews
  • 120 gms mawa/khoya, grated
  • 1 +1/2 cup full fat thick coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 tbsp rose syrup (use few drops of food color for a dark shade)
  • 1/2 tsp rose essence
  • 2 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • Pomegranate arils, nuts, rose petals and whipped cream for serving

Method.

Dry toast the cashews stirring continously for 2-3 minutes on very low heat. They should not turn too dark color. you will smell a nice aroma. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Once cooled, grind the cashews to a fine powder, do so a small batch at a time, and don’t over grind else oils of the cashews will be released. Use a colander to separate any big pieces form the fine powder and grind the piece again. Repeat till all the cashews have been ground. Set aside.

Return the same heavy pan to stove, keeping your stove to lowest, add the grated mawa. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, keep on stirring the mawa and cook it for no longer than 6-7 minutes (time will vary as per the quality of mawa, please adjust) until the mawa is soft and you can see it glistening. Do not let the color change. Immediately transfer to a plate and let cool down.

Using a mortal and pestle, grind the cardamom pods to a fine powder.

In a large bowl, add the cooled mawa and sprinkle the cashews powder over it. Next add 1/2 cup coconut milk and using a whisk mix gently to make a lump free paste until all the sugar has dissolved.

Add the remaining coconut milk and heavy cream to the bowl and using a whisk, mix rigorously for 3-5 minutes till everything is combined and the mixture gets a little thickish as you whisk. Make sure that the mixture is lump free, you can run it through muslin or a strainer to make sure its smooth.You can also tip everything into a blender and pulse 2-3 times (do not overmix in blender else everything will be be whipped, we want it pourable consistency)

Add the rose syrup, rose essence and ground cardamom and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into 4 ramekins, cover with a cling film and let chill for atleast 6 hours or overnight.

Garnish with pomegranate, some nuts if desired and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve chilled.

-Enjoy!