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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.

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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!

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Khoya Paneer Kali Mirch

This north indian paneer dish is not as popular as the tomato based creamy curries but it is such a great switch up from regular curries. Fresh ground kali mirch(black pepper) is the main flavor here and the peppery sauce of browned onions and yogurt is just so delicious. To make it tad more indulgent, I add crumbled khoya & hatful of makhana to this dish and it is so good with doughy naan, especially garlic naan.

If you have browned onions ready to go, this dish takes hardly 15-20 minutes or so. I usually deep fry onions at home and keep a stash but you can use any store bought brand that you like. Refrain from using too much onions else the gravy will become sweet. I recommend using fresh ground black pepper but don’t add too much at a once, the gravy is mellow with subtle hints of spice. All in all the dish is mild, faintly sour and creamy and such an indulgent addition to any festive menu.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 50 grams raw cashews
  • 6 oz paneer, cut in chunks or triangles
  • 1/3 cup makhana (foxnuts)
  • 100 grams sliced onions
  • Oil to fry the onions, about 1/2 cup
  • 2-3 thai bird green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp +2 tsp ghee
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom
  • a small twig of mace
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, pounded in a mortar pestle
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (not roasted)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp thick plain full fat yogurt, whisked
  • 1 tsp sugar (or more if you like a sweetish gravy)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water (depending on consistency of gravy you like)
  • 1/4 cup grated khoya/mawa
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp rose water or kewra water (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro

Method

Soak the cashews in 1/2 cup warm water for 10 mins. In a pan, add 2 tsp ghee and fry up the paneer slightly. Once done, take out in a plate and add the makhana to the remaining ghee and very light toast them for 1-2 minutes. Take out in the same plate and set aside.

Add oil for frying in a wide pan and heat it up. When the oil is hot but not smoky, add sliced onions to it. On medium heat, fry up the onions to a deep shade of brown, but don’t make them too brown. Frying in a wide pan in a single layer will avoid the onions from becoming soggy. Keep an eye and keep on stirring them. Once done, drain on a paper towel in a single layer and let cool down, they will crisp up a bit. This step can be done 2-3 days ahead. Use the oil for making any savory curry if you wish.

Add the soaked cashews (without water), onions and green chillies to a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Use little water if needed.

In a pan, add 2 tbsp of ghee and warm up on low medium heat. Temper the ghee with all the whole spices – cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and mace. Saute the spices for 30 seconds and then add the ginger and garlic paste. Saute for 30 seconds taking care that they don’t burn. Add a splash of water if you feel that the pan is too heat when you add the ginger garlic.

Next, add the onion paste to the pan along with all the powdered spices- coriander, cumin, fennel and red chilli. Also add the black pepper powder. Saute the onions and spices on low heat for 4-5 minutes until you see little oil bubbles on the surface and sides. You will have to stir it continuously since the cashews will tend to stick to the bottom of pan.

Once sautéed, take the pan off the stove. Add the yogurt and sugar, immediately mix it with the onion masala. Keep mixing till it is nicely combined. Return to a low stove and keep on continuously mixing till the yogurt is heated through. This will ensure that the yogurt won’t curdle. It will take 5-6 minutes.

Continue to cook and when you see little bubbles of oil on the sides of the pan, add 1/2 water to the pan. Add the salt. Taste and adjust the salt and sugar high now.On low medium heat, let the gravy simmer, do not let boil. Once the gravy is simmering, add the mawa, heavy cream, paneer and makhana. Let everything simmer on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Finish the curry with garam masala. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes more. Switch off the stove and mix in the rose water if using. Gently mix everything. Cover and let the curry sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and a pinch of black pepper powder. Enjoy with naan or jeera rice.

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Masala Kaju

One must have diwali snack in our house is Masala Kaju- deep fried cashews coated in a spicy tangy masala. It is best if you freshly roast and grind the spices. Also taste the masala and adjust the profiles to your liking. We likes ours tangy and hot.

This recipe has slowly evolved since I have been making it for years. It is a great snack to have around the house when guests are regularly visiting (though that might not be the case this year) however we can treat ourselves. No? My kids love these especially the little one,I reduce the chilli powder for her though. These cashew nibbles go well with drinks and in general a huge hit in our house during the festive season.

The recipe is very easy and its as quick as mixing some spices and tossing with fried cashews. I have never tried roasting the cashews, a little indulgence on festivals is totally acceptable and I make them during that time mostly.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (yield about 1 tbsp roasted cumin powder)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1.5 tsp extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt)
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
  • salt
  • 400 gms raw whole cashews
  • oil for frying

Method

Lightly dry roast the cumin seeds and cloves in a skillet on low heat taking care not to burn or over roast the spices (that will make them bitter). Once roasted, grind to a powder.

Clean your spice grinder and separately, grind the anardana and fennel seeds. I find that the flavor profile of spices is much more promenient if you grind them separately and then mix.

Take a medium bowl and mix together all fresh ground spices along with the rest of the spices listed under ingredients. Taste the masala, it should be sharp and on the saltier side, adjust any spices to your liking. Set the masala aside.

In a heavy bottom kadai, add about 3 cups of oil. I use sunflower oil. Warm the oil on low medium heat, it will take about 4-5 minutes. We dont want the oil to be very hot. Start adding the cashews when the oil is just little warm.Add the cashews all at once or you can do so it in batches. It is okay to overcrowd the oil, since the nuts are dried, they won’t become soggy.

Once the cashews have been added to oil, let the cashews slowly fry in oil, keep on stirring in between so that they dont burn. Slowly the cashews will heat up and start getting crispy. Do not turn up the heat, it takes a while to fry up the cashews but this way they are properly crisped.

Once the cashews are visibly light golden in color, using a slotted spoon, take them out in a bowl. Do not drain on a paper towel, however remove as much oil as possible when you are taking out from the oil. If your remove all the oil from cashews and if they will be dry, masala won’t stick to them.

Immediately, while the cashews are still warm, start adding the masala, I start by adding about 3 tablespoons at first and mix nicely with a spoon to coat all the cashews in spices. Taste and add more masala if you wish. You might have leftover masala, you can store it and sprinkle it on anything – from chaat, kababs to salads to pakoras.

Let the cashews cool down and store them in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

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Carrot Zarda

This post is sponsored by Authentic Royal Foods.

Rice is symbolic of prosperity in Indian culture and an integral part if all our festivals.Right from childhood, I can hardly remember any celebrations when rice wasn’t cooked on auspicious days. From festive pulaos to kheer to soaking and grinding rice and using it for decorations of the prayer room, it has always been in every way imaginable.

Diwali is a little over two weeks away and around this time of the year, I start jotting down our Diwali Menu. Over years our menu has evolved into a beautiful amalgamation of old traditional recipes and flavors that I eat and experience around here in the States.Any festival menu in our house is incomplete without basmati rice dishes prepared and my go to always has been royal basmati rice.

Diwali is a little over two weeks away and around this time of the year, I start jotting down our Diwali Menu. Over years our menu has evolved into a beautiful amalgamation of old traditional recipes and flavors that I eat and experience around here in the States.Any festival menu in our house is incomplete without basmati rice dishes prepared and my go to always has been royal basmati rice.

In this recipe I combine the flavors of classic american carrot cake with indian meethe chawal or zarda. Ghee sautéed shredded carrots, orange zest, pecans, candied pineapple and warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon bubble with long grain basmati rice and sugar syrup filling the air of house with enticing aroma. If you serve this wing a dollop of whipped cream cheese(which you totally should),it leaves you with the warm fuzzy feeling after eating a moist carrot cake.

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup authentic royal basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp food color – orange, yellow whichever you wish

For the Tempering

  • 2 tbsp + 1/3 cup ghee
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar + 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, warm
  • 10-12 saffron strands infused in 1 tbsp of warm milk
  • 1 tsp fresh grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup whole cashews
  • 1/3 cup candied pineapple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • Fresh ground nutmeg, a generous pinch
  • Pomegranate arils for garnish
  • Extra nuts for garnish.

Method

Wash rice under 2-3 streams of running water. Set aside.

In a large pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add pinch of salt and add washed rice to the pot.Stir gently and boil for 8 minutes on low medium till rice is 90% cooked.

While the rice is boiling, start prepare the tempering however keep an eye on rice. In a shallow wide, non stick pot /kadai (with lid), first saute the cashews & pecans in a 1 tablespoons of ghee until they are toasted. Transfer to a bowl. Next, add another tablespoon of ghee and add the pineapple and raisins, saute them for just few seconds. Take out in the same bowl as the nuts. Se aside.

On the second stove, set a large tawa or cast iron griddle (larger than the pot you are using for zarda) to heat up. We will use it for dum cooking.

Add 1/3 cup of ghee to the pan. Once the ghee is warm, reduce heat to low and temper it with cinnamon and cloves. Saute for about 20 seconds till you smell the aroma. Next add the carrots and saute for 1-2 minutes. By this time rice would be 90% done, strain the rice. Immediately add the rice to the kadai layering it over the the carrots (do not dump). Add the orange zest and sprinkle both kinds of sugar. Also add the warm milk. Very gently, using a spatula, mix the rice to mix with everything. Cover with a tight lid.

By this time, the cast iron griddle or tawa would have been heated. Place the rice pot/kadai on it and set the stove to low(not very low). Let dum cook for 20-25 minutes till rice is cooked. This time will depend on quality of your rice, please adjust from experience.

Add the nuts and saffron milk next along with pinch of nutmeg. Don’t stir. Cover the lid and let dum cook for another 5-8 minutes. Switch off the stove, take the kadai off the griddle and leave undisturbed for atleast 20 minutes.

Fluff gently with rice spoon from a side and mix everything. Serve it warm in a wide dish garnished with more nuts, pomegrante arils or however you wish.

Enjoy!