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Desserts Easy Recipes Festival Recipes Gluten Free Vegetarian

Kaju Katli – Fudgy Cashew Thins


A Happy and Prosperous Diwali to all of you!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianAs I sit down with a cup of chai after having washed a truck load of dishes and mopping the floors spot free, all I can think of is how back home,my mum would barely have a luxury of five minutes to relax,drink tea and breathe today. It is the largest of Hindu festivals –Diwali in India – a celebration that lasts for at least five days.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianEarly in the morning she would have soaked rice to make rangolis(decorations)on the floor of the puja (prayer room).The flowers would have been plucked from the garden and tucked inside moistened cloth to keep them fresh till evening.The water soaked diyas(earthern lamps)would be sun bathing by now and she would be busy taking out fancy serve ware and cutlery for evening dinner from the boxes stacked below the bed.By noon, aromas of cardamom and ghee from the kitchen would be permeating the air of our house.There would be some kind of tangy chaat,stuffed dahi vadas resting inside the fridge and spicy jal jeera to greet the guests.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianDiwali or Deepawali,the festival of lights is celebrated by most indians as an autumn festival signifying the victory of good over evil.According to legend,Lord Rama returned home after fourteen years of exile and defeating the demon kind Ravana on this day. People lit their homes with diyas to celebrate his homecoming and from then the day became a reason for celebration each year for the Hindus. Typically, the goddess of wealth & prosperity, Lakshmi is worshipped on this day, gifts are exchanged with friends and family, there are get togethers, much pomp and show, food, fun and fireworks.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianI would lie if I told you that mum made Kaju katli at home. She didn’t. Never. She didn’t need to because the streets of Delhi are dotted with amazing halwaiwallas (sweet vendors) making and selling this best tasting confection with cashews.Instead she would be making besan ladoos, warm, nutty chickpea flour balls with ghee and sugar.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianI have always been intimidated by mithai making at home. They are an art. The ingredients are few and most of them look plain but taste so heavenly if you get the texture right. It took me a lot of pushing by the husband to take up making this fudge treat this year. I was most certain that I would end up messing it up. You could perceive my confidence from the fact that I had planned a few things with the cashew sugar paste if everything did not come out the way it should. But, trust me I was in disbelief of how perfect katli came out.My daugheter, who would not eat any other indian mithai ate these little diamonds like candy,one after the other.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianTo me kaju katli has always been something really exotic. Fudgy,nutty thins of ground cashews sweetened plainly with sugar, its one melt-in-the-mouth confection. It is one of the most popular mithai in northern india. I always thought that it was a difficult thing to make but no, I was wrong. It is so easy, there are so less ingredients and few things to be kept in mind while you do it. Hopefully you get to make these delicious, gluten free & vegan treats for your family this year. Wishing all a Happy & Safe Diwali again!!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Process, Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indian

Ingredients (Makes 20-22 diamonds)

  • 1.5 cups broken raw cashew pieces (Yield 1 cup +3/4 cup cashew powder)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1-2 drops rose essence
  • 1 tbsp ghee (Optional, required during kneading, use any vegan substitute)

Method

Use cashews at room temperature. If you store your nuts in the fridge, take them out a night before and spread on the kitchen towel to air dry. The cashews should be at room temperature and completely dry before you start powdering them. Transfer the cashew pieces to a dry blender jar and in one go powder them as fine as you can. We need a loose, smooth powder. Take care that the cashews do not become pasty or release their oils and clump up or become sticky (this is very important). If you feel that there are few big pieces in the cashew powder, pick them out or sift the powder using a sieve, but do not overwork the blender to grind the cashews.

In a wide, heavy bottomed pan (I use my 10″ skillet) or a kadhai, mix up the sugar and water. Set the pan on low flame and let the sugar dissolve. Stir (I use my rubber spatula) the solution once or twice while the sugar dissolves so that the sugar does not stick to bottom of the pan. While the sugar is dissolving, rub about 1/2 tbsp of ghee on a kitchen board (or the surface where you will knead) and set aside.

Once the sugar has dissolved, add the powdered cashews to the pan. Mix everything and brace yourself for some hard work. Keep on stirring and stirring as the mix cooks on low flame. The process will be slow in the beginning and you will feel that it will take forever but do not worry. Keep on stirring, scraping the mixture on low flame, do not let the mixture stick to the sides of the skillet.

After about 18 minutes, you will see that the mixture starts thickening and coming together.Add the rose essence (or any other flavorings) now if using and incorporate. We will shortly be getting there, once the mixture is thick, do not bother much about scraping the sides as they will be really dry. Around 22 minutes, the mixture will start resembling a soft, sticky dough and will clump up around the spatula. If you try to bring the mixture together in one place on the skillet, it will try to slowly spread (similar to how a glug of cold honey spreads on a surface). It took me exactly 24 minutes to reach that stage. Depending on the flame settings and water content of the sugar, you can approximately look at 22-28 minutes to reach that stage.

Immediately transfer to the greased surface and leave to cool a bit until its safe to handle.Once the cashew dough has cooled slightly, rub a teaspoon of ghee on your hands and very gently knead the dough for 5-7 minutes to form a ball. Remember that the dough needs to be warm when you knead so just wait till its safe to touch, do not let it cool down completely, else it will not knead and remain grainy.Do not press very hard as you knead else the cashews will start oozing their oil but there should be enough pressure so that a small ball is formed. You can grease you hands or the dough with ghee in between if it starts feeling sticky.

One you get a smooth ball, flatten it out slightly. Place a  large and wide sheet of wax or butter paper on the dough and using a rolling-pin, roll it out to a 1/3″ thickness, or you can roll out as thin or thick as you like. Using a sharp knife  (or a ravioli cutter, like I did), cut into diamonds or squares or any shape you like.

Serve or store in an air tight container at room temperature for 5-6 days.

Notes 

  1. The time of cooking noted in this recipe will vary if you are using any other kind of sugar than granulated, since the water content of different varieties of sugar is different.
  2. You can use any kind of flavorings – cardamom, saffron or kewra (screw pine water) instead of rose essence .
  3. This recipe can be use for almond powder too.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Festival Recipes Gluten Free Snacks Vegetarian

Mewa Chikki – Nut & Seed Brittle (Gluten & Grain Free)

Sinfully Spicy - Mewa Chikki, Nut & Seed Brittle01 (Gluten-Grain free)

Paani, cheeni se kam hona chahiye‘, mum replied that the quantity of water should be less than sugar. I had called in to ask the ratio of sugar and water for the syrup before setting out to make this chikki.

Agar ek katori cheeni hai to kitna paani?‘ I re worded the question knowing that if at all, sometimes she measures using katori (small bowl).The reply remained the same ‘Paani kam aur cheeni jyada‘ (more sugar, less water). I gave up knowing that those teaspoons and cups that I am slowly becoming slave to, have no place in her kitchen.

Sinfully Spicy - Mewa Chikki, Nut & Seed Brittle 02 (Gluten-Grain free)

There, lies the beauty of Indian cooking,everything done with accurate approximations, andaza.There isn’t a need to fish through kitchen drawers ahead of cooking to locate cups and spoons, neither to flip through recipe books because there aren’t any written ones. My mum and aunts could cook off an entire meal discussing the neighbour’s daughter in law, it’s just eyeballing,tasting and adjusting the flavors in between. There are no hard and fast rules, the methods are traditional,the food comes out wonderful each time. It’s all about cooking with good impulse and feeling.Though it takes while to learn those techniques and pointers to dish out your bestest recipes, but once you are on it, you can trust your gut for the lifetime.

Sinfully Spicy - Mewa Chikki, Nut & Seed Brittle 03, Ingredients (Gluten-Grain free)

I never understood the ‘taar‘ or the number of strings method that they use to make sugar syrup for indian sweets. Putting it in a very lame way, after a few minutes of bubbling, you are supposed to squeeze the boiling sugar (ouch! ) between your thumb and index finger and count the number of strings formed to know if the right consistency has been reached.Again, something which comes with experience.

Making this chikki from scratch has been one of the most brave things I have done this summer. Studded with lots of nuts and seeds, edible gum resin (gond), not only is this good for you, but you can play around with the type and quantity of nuts in the recipe. Do  make this delicious snackage for the upcoming winter months, it promises to keep you warm and happy.

Sinfully Spicy - Mewa Chikki, Nut & Seed Brittle 05 (Gluten-Grain free)

In my family, makana or foxnuts and coconut are the main ingredients in making this.Read about foxnuts in one of my earlier posts here.

Edible Gum or gond is an extract from the bark of gum tree and is used a lot in indian sweets. It is either white or brown in color, crystal like. When cooked in oil, it puffs up like popcorn and turns opaque. It provides heat to the body and is usually eaten in cold winter months. In India, it is very much used during postpartum of women since it strengthens the body and helps in lactation of new mothers.

Sinfully Spicy - Mewa Chikki, Nut & Seed Brittle 05 (Gluten-Grain free)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups makhana (foxnuts), roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp gond (edible gum resin)
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut shavings
  • 1/4 cup melon seeds
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp ghee, divided
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • few saffron strands soaked in 1/2 tbsp of warm water (optional)

Also needed – Any well-greased plate/thaali or simply line your brownie sheet with parchment.

Notes :-

  1. If you are using edible gum,make sure that it is completely dry (you can keep it in sun for few hours), else it will not bloom well when you roast it.
  2. Feel free to use any kind of nuts or seeds in this recipe. If you cannot find foxnuts or edible gum, you can increase the quantity of coconut, almond or walnut by equivalent amount.
  3. Use sunflower/pumpkin/pepitas in place of melon seeds.
  4. Add crasins, dried cherries, cranberries, dehydrated blueberries or raspberries to this recipe.

Method

In a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai, on low-medium heat, warm up 1 tbsp of ghee. Add the sliced foxnuts and lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add another 1/2 tbsp of ghee in the kadhai and add almonds, walnuts and coconut shavings to it. Lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Take care that the nuts do not change color. Transfer to the large bowl.

Next, on very low heat add another 1 tbsp of ghee and add the gond crystals. Keep on stirring constantly, the crystals will puff up and turn opaque as they roast. This will take  about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the large bowl.

Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of ghee to the kadhai and roast the melon seeds on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the raisins. Stir again for 1 minutes or so. Transfer to the large bowl.

Mix all the roasted nuts and seeds well in the large bowl and let sit for 5-8 minutes so that they cool down a bit.

Keep your greased plate or parchment lined dish ready.I used a 9′ X 2′ brownie pan to set the chikki.

Pour water and sugar into the kadhai next and bring to a boil on medium heat. When the sugar starts to bubble around the edges, add cardamom powder, soaked saffron and reduce heat and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.Remove from heat and immediately pour over the roasted nuts. Stir everything quickly using a spatula so that the nuts are coated in sugar and transfer to the setting plate/pan. Lightly press with hands or spoon to spread out to a uniform thickness. Let sit at room temperature to completely cool down.

Break into desired size chunks or pieces.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping  by!

Categories
Desserts Festival Recipes Vegetarian

Sinfully Spicy Turns One!! Celebrating With Gulab Jamun & a Giveaway!

365 days…125 recipes…a few thousand comments..a bag full of memories & a truck load of friends around the globe..I m so elated to welcome all of you to the first milestone of a culinary journey which I embarked upon exactly a year back! Sinfully Spicy is 1-year-old WooHoo! 🙂 Traditional & Modern Indian Cuisine with tales woven my family, fusion twists on classic recipes, all coupled with an effort to make Indian food look good through my lens – this is how I envisioned Sinfully Spicy back then..and I am so happy to see it shaping up ..bit by bit..thanks to love buttons pressed by each one of you who lands here.Thank you so much!

A food blog, which was born to kill boredom of sitting at home, then shortly graduated to a hobby and not until few months back when it became a passion, Sinfully Spicy was my foray into this VAST community of food bloggers with absolutely no air of anything except that I could cook a decent meal..which by the way, I thought was enough to barge 🙂 Today, I can plainly say that its was a slight misconception …food blogging is so much more than just being able to cook ! The journey had its ups & downs.Similar to so many of you..when you suddenly smile corner to corner seeing comment love, or when your heart skips a beat the moment it sees a mail ping , or those butterflies in the stomach when a reader tells you that they are going to try your recipe & a rush of disappointment when your recipe doesn’t work out for somebody, it’s a sine curve and I have lived it so closely in one year. Then the most precious thing- the bunch of talented people you touch..each different in their own way – sweet, loving, kind & helpful.

Slowly ..I learnt terms like “social media”…”food porn”…”trackbacks”…”subject”…”food styling”…”shot composition”..etc etc etc …each more complicated than the other and frightening for a highly unsocial & introvert person like me. Add to that the photographer who came out of the camera auto mode a few months back 🙂 But the immense love of all my readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers & blog subscribers brings me out of this cocoon each day. Each morning I get up, open up my mailbox or log on to the dashboard of blog…and see love pouring out from every nook and corner of the computer screen..it is so overwhelming to start the day like this..and no matter how much I write here, only my heart knows how these notes of appreciation have become treasured gems of my life.I may or may not blog forever but the only thing for sure is that even when I will open this page some 15 years down the lane and witness this love & support ..few tears of joy will trickle down my cheeks. Thank you so much all of you ..you have been a source of endless inspiration for me each day – to believe in myself & to be able to recognize & explore the culinary passion that I nurtured in my heart all the way.Hugs 🙂

I would specially like to thank all the readers who tried my recipes.As soon as you inform me or link back, I update my existing blog post with your posts or feedbacks. Maybe I ll do a recipe shout out sometime. Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies with Nutella Filling is the most visited recipe on blog closely followed by Bhuna Murgh, Mutton Meatballs Curry & Indian Espresso Coffee.Indian food is considered to be an intricate affair in the western world..Its always my effort to bring recipes to you without stealing their soul..if you get a hang of basic things..Indian food is an experience! Trust me nothing makes me more happy than knowing that Indian food is able to reach your kitchen via my little blog.

Image via Google

Now lets come to the Giveaway. As a little token to appreciate your fathomless love & support, I have decided to give away 1 copy of Anjum Anand‘s cookbook Anjum’s New Indian.She is lesser known in USA but is a celebrated television personality in UK.If you have seen her shows on The Cooking Channel, you would mirror what I feel about this lovely lady who has been hailed the “The Indian Nigella Lawson” by Vogue.The best thing I like about her is the fact that even though she grew up in the western world, her recipes, story telling and cookery is so close to her indian roots.Her recipes are innovative, combine the best of traditional & modern indian cuisine & really easy to follow. In this cookbook too, she presents more than 100 doable, regional recipes – both vegetarian & non vegetarian.I recently got this book with beautiful photography & have already tried few of her recipes.See the rules of giveaway at the end of  this post.

Images via Google

I asked my  FaceBook fans a couple of weeks back about what they would love to see on the anniversary post – and the request was unanimous – Gulab Jamuns…what better way to celebrate something Indian. A simple sweet which is now synonymous with Indian dessert scenario all over the world. Deep Fried, Melt in the mouth kind dough balls dunked in sugary,rosewater & cardamom syrup – its pure bliss to gobble these up especially when slightly warm. “Gulab” means “rose” in Hindi and “Jamun” is a south asian fruit which has a similar shape & size – that is how the sweet gets its name. Again in India – there are two varieties available one is called gulab jamun (which is light brownish in color) & the second one is called kala jaam/jamun – the same thing except that the dough balls are fried till they are deep brown/blackish in color.I love the second variety more coz the crust is quite chewy!




Rules for the Giveaway:-

This giveaway is open to USA residents.If you reside outside USA but have relatives or friends here, you can use the address & still enter the giveaway.The giveaway is open to bloggers as well as non bloggers.

Mandatory Entry:-

Tell me in the comments section what you like or dislike about this blog, what kind of recipes you would like to see on this blog , scope of  improvement, your suggestions. Just say anything nice..joking 🙂

Additional Entries:- (Leave separate comments for each )

  1. Follow me on Twitter  & tweet about this giveaway.Please include my Twitter handle (@gettanvi) in your tweet.If you are already following me, tell me. Tweet – “Just entered the #giveyway on Sinfully Spicy to win #AnjumAnand cookbook”
  2. ‘Like’ Sinfully Spicy fan page on FaceBook.If you are already a fan,let me know.
  3. Subscribe to this blog via email.

Last day of entering this giveaway is 7th August 2011,11 :59 pm (your part of the world). Since I will be away for a little vacation to Florida, I will come back & announce the winner on Monday, 8th of August, picked by a random draw.See you then!

Ingredients (Makes 18-20 of the size shown)

For the Dough Balls (Jamuns):-

  • Ingredients (Makes 18-20 of the size shown)

    For the Dough Balls (Jamuns):-

    • 1 cup milk powder, unsweetened ( I use Organic Valley )
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/8 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tbsp fine powdered nuts (optional ,see notes)
    • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder (see notes)
    • 3 tbsp ghee, at room temperature
    • 2-3 tbsp whole milk yogurt, at room temperature (or as required for kneading)
    • Canola Oil for deep-frying
    • Nuts/dessicated coconut for garnish (optional)

    For the Sugar Syrup:-

    • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cups water
    • Few saffron strands (optional)
    • 4 green cardamom pods, cracked open
    • 2 tbsp rose-water (use 1-2 drops if using essence)

Notes:-

  1. I take 8-10 mixed nuts (cashews, almonds & pistachios), grind them in coffee grinder to a fine powder.Adding this to the dough gives a terrific, nutty taste in each bite.This is my mom’s trick & I really love it to pep up the texture of the jamuns.
  2. You dont need to buy cardamom powder (its uber expensive), buy whole pods instead from any indian or middle eastern store, just crack open the pods and use your mortar & pestle to grind the seeds into a powder.This is how cardamom is commonly used in Indian homes.
  3. Traditionally, jamuns are fried in pure ghee, however I add 2-3 tbsp of ghee to the oil to add the rich aroma, if you don’t have ghee,then skip)

Method:-

For the Syrup:

  • In a large pot,add water, sugar along with cardamom pods and bring it to a boil.We are not looking for any consistency here, just boil & stir till the sugar dissolves.About 6-8 minutes on medium heat. If you see some scum on top, remove with a spoon.
  • Let the syrup simmer for a minute and then put off the stove. After 5 minutes when the syrup has cooled down a bit,add saffron strands & rose-water to the syrup.
  • Set the sugar syrup aside.

For the Jamuns:-

    • In a bowl or pastry board ,combine the milk powder, flour, baking powder & soda, green cardamom powder & nuts powder(if using) and mix thoroughly.You can sift this once to catch the coarse nuts or lumps if any.
    • Next add the ghee to the mix and rub between hands so that the whole flour mix is moistened.Start adding yogurt and mixing simultaneously to make a soft dough.You do not need to knead or over mix because gluten should not form.Mix with gentle fingers. If you over mix, the jamuns will not absorb syrup and will be hard inside.The dough will be quite sticky.Cover the bowl with a cloth & let the dough sit for 5 minutes.
    • Heat the oil in a frying pan/kadhai on medium heat. The frying pan should have enough oil to cover the balls completely while deep-frying. A way of testing the oil temperature is to pinch a small ball of dough & tip it in the oil, it should rise slowly to the top. If using a thermometer, use the temperature you fry doughnuts at.
    • While the oil is heating, with greasy palms pinch the dough into 18-20 equal parts and roll into small, smooth balls.As far as possible, roll out such that there are no cracks on the balls.This will give the jamuns a smooth look.The balls will double up after frying & soaking in syrup so do not make big balls. Line the balls on a plate & keep covered till ready to fry.
    • Meanwhile if your sugar syrup is cold or luke warm, put it on stove again so that it warms up.We want the sugar syrup warm (not hot) when the fried jamuns are tipped into it. Once warm , transfer the syrup to a bowl big enough to accommodate all the jamuns & keep them soakedAlso keep the sugar syrup nearby because the fried jamuns will go straight from frying pan into the syrup.
    • Once the oil is hot, tip in the rolled jamuns into the oil.Do not over crowd the pan/kadhai.While frying keep flipping the balls gently for even browning all around. Fry until the jamuns become golden brown. About 4-6 minutes depending on size.
    • Once browned,using a strainer, transfer the jamuns straight to the warm sugar syrup.The jamuns should sit undisturbed in the hot syrup for at least 30 minutes before ready to serve.
    • Once soaked, serve in bowl with few tablespoons of syrup & nuts/dessicated coconut garnish.I like them slightly warm.

Notes:-

    1. Do not fry the gulab jamuns too much or on very high heat..they will harden & wont soak up the syrup.
    2. Gulab Jamuns can keep well in the fridge for up to 20 days.Whenver you want to serve, just microwave for 10-15 seconds.They can be frozen for 3-5 months.

Enjoy ..Have a fun Weekend Everyone & Thanks for stopping by !