Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Vegetarian

Litchi/Lychee Pannacotta With Mango Jelly

Litchi Pannacotta [Serves 4-5]

Printable Recipe

Recipe adapted from The Culinary Chronicles

  • 1 20oz can lychees [substitute with fresh pitted litchis]
  • 3/4 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar [adjust to taste]
Mango Jelly
  • 1 cup fresh mango puree  [substitute with store bought]
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp sugar [adjust to taste]
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • a pinch of cardamom powder [optional]
  • 3/4 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water
Making the Litchi Pannacotta:
In a small bowl, pour the water and sprinkle gelatin over it.Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes.Meawhile,tip in the canned litchis in a blender or a food processor along with syrup and crush them.Drain the crushed litchis thorugh a sieve once.In a sauce pan, add the milk, sugar and drained litchis and let warm on low heat until sugar is dissolved.Do not let the mix boil,it should be warm but not hot.Remove from heat and add the bloomed gelatin to the pan.Mix well.You can whisk gently to ensure that everything has combined well.Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and then pour into your serving bowls/glasses.Refrigerate and let set for 3 hours.
Making the Mango Jelly :
 In a small bowl, pour the 1/4 cup water and sprinkle gelatin over it.Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes.Mix mango puree with 1/2 cup water , lemon juice, cardamom powder and 3 tbsp sugar and warm slightly (about 3-5 minutes] in a sauce pan over low heat.Again do not let boil.Mix in the bloomed gelatin and combine well.Let stand to cool off for about 10-12 minutes and add on top of the set litchi pannacotta.Let set for another 3 hours.

Add subsequent layers and keep on chilling.
Garnish with nuts or fresh fruit, mint and serve chilled.
How to create the swirls:
While you transfer the glasses to chill in the refrigerator, tilt the glasses/bowls.I usually use my cupcake pan to do this wherein I stuff little paper towels at the base of cases and rest the stem- tilted on them.Using a cupcake pan makes the handling easier when making a lot of servings but then there are lots of way of doing it.Devise your own.
Notes: It is important to add subsequent layers only after the bottom layers have set.The swirl you see in pictures took me half a day to set in and adding layers.You can do whichever way you like.Keep it simple or make a pattern.
Variations: Use coconut milk & agar agar flakes in place of whole milk & gelatin respectively to make a vegan version.I think litchi goes very well with papaya as well.I intend to add those layers next time I make it.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!
Categories
Breakfast Brunch Side Dishes Vegetarian

Khatte Chole Aur Bhature

Chole‘ or chickpea curry is very popular street food in the northern parts of India.The curry is known for its blackish color due to use of tea bags while boiling it and has dominant flavor of roasted cumin.In my house, dry pomegranate seeds or anardana is added to this curry along with lots of tomatoes to make it more tangy or ‘khatte‘.This curry is not hot but is spicy.The chickpea curry is traditionally eaten with bhatura or a fried leavened puffed bread.Some people make a yeasted version of bhatura too.What I am posting is an instant recipe which requires an hour of resting time.

Khatte Chhole

Printable Recipe

Ingredients: [Serves 2]

  • 1/3 cup dry chickpeas [substitute with canned garbanzo beans]
  • 1/8 tsp cooking soda
  • 2 black tea bags
  • Water for boiling
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 green chillies, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 black cardamom [badi elaichi]
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp dry pomegranate seeds [anardana]
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil [or canola oil]
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • Soak the chickpeas over night in 3 cups water with cooking soda.Once soaked, drain the soaking water and discard it.
  • Boil the chickpeas with enough water, tea bags & 1 tsp salt in a pressure cooker till 80% cooked.About 15 minutes on high and 2 whistles. [Omit this step if using canned garbanzo beans]
  • Once cooked, drain the chickpeas and preserve the water.We will use it in curry later.
  • In your coffee blender, coarsely crush the dry pomegranate seeds, cloves, pods of black cardamom and roasted cumin seeds.Add the cinnamon powder to this spice mix.Set aside.

  • In a cooking vessel with lid, add the oil and heat it up on high till the oil starts smoking slightly.Once smoking, reduce the heat to medium.
  • Add the finely chopped onion and cook till golden brown.After this add the bay leaf & saute for 2 minutes.
  • Next, add the grated garlic, minced chilli & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Next add the chopped tomatoes along with chilli,coriander,turmeric powder,crushed spice mix made in 4th step and salt.Cook this curry masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the vessel.
  • Tip in the boiled beans into the vessel and combine well so that all the beans are covered in the masala.Saute for about 3 minutes.
  • Next add 1/2 cup or more of preserved water depending on how thick you like the gravy,cover and let the gravy come to a boil on a low heat.
  • Once the curry has simmered for 10-15 minutes, add the garam masala, stir well and let simmer for another 5-6 minutes till the chickpeas are soft,
  • Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm bhatura

 
Bhatura 
Ingredients: [Makes 6-8 flatbreads]
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp semolina
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small boiled potato, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk,at room temperature ( as required for kneading a soft dough )
  • Oil for deep-frying.

Method:
  • Combine the all purpose flour with semolina and soda thoroughly.
  • Whisk oil, sugar and salt in the buttermilk.
  • Add the grated potato and buttermilk mix to flour mix.Start with 1/2 cup of butter milk and knead well to make dough.You may need to adjust the buttermilk quantity.The dough will be slightly sticky but pliable and soft.Knead for about 5 minutes.
  • Cover it with wet cloth and keep it in a warm place for 1 hour.
  • Make a lemon sized balls of the dough.On a floured surface, roll the flour balls into an elliptical shape, about 1/4 ” thick.

  • Heat oil in a deep-frying fan.A quick way to check the temperature of oil without thermometer is to pinch a small quantity of dough and put it in oil.It should sizzle to the surface immediately.
  •  Once oil is heated, tip in the rolled bhaturas into the oil sliding from the sides of the pot.Be careful because the oil may splutter.Fry the bhaturas flipping them  as till they turn slightly golden on both sides.Make sure that you don’t fry the bhatures long because you want them to be soft and light golden.
  • Drain from the oil and place on paper towel.
  • Serve them with chickpea curry, salad and raita.
Enjoy!
Categories
Baking Desserts Eggs

Strawberry Cupcakes With Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

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Click for Printable Recipe

Ingredients

For the Strawberry Cupcakes [Makes about 18 cupcakes]

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter[ at room temperature]
  • 3/4 cup pureed strawberries [frozen/fresh]
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1-2 drops of red/pink food color depending on how pink you want your cupcakes

For the Chocolate Frosting  
  • 2.5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2  cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp of milk or as required to thin out the frosting.

Method:
[For the Cupcakes]
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.Line your cupcakes pan with cases or grease thoroughly.
  • I like to strain out the pureed strawberries through a sieve once.You can skip this step if you do not want to.
  • In a medium bowl sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the softened butter with the pureed strawberry until mixed.
  • Add the flour mix to the butter mix and blend until fluffy.The batter will be thick
  • In another bowl,beat egg whites, milk, vanilla extract and food color until light and fluffy.
  • Fold in the whisked egg whites into the batter, divided.Keep mixing gently until whole of it is incorporated.D
  • Using your cookie/ice-cream scoop, fill the cupcake pan about 3/4 full.
  •  Bake 18 – 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.Mine took 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the cupcakes to the rack for cooling.Let cool completely before frosting

Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
On a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips.Mix the vanilla extract and let them cool to room temperature.Cream softened butter and sour cream until well blended.Blend in melted and cooled chocolate chips until smooth.Add confectioner’s sugar and beat well.Add a teaspoon of  milk at a time until desired, spreadable consistency is reached.

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Non vegetarian Side Dishes

Chicken Dopiaza-Spicy Chicken Curry With Pearl Onions

Did you send your entry to Culinary Smackdown Battle-Mango Desserts?Please see details of the ongoing event here. Hurry..just a week more to go, contest ends 28th April 2011, Pacific time.

Chicken Dopiaza is a popular indian curry with origins in east india.”Do” in Hindi means two and “piyaz/piaz ” is hindi for onions.So it translates to a chicken dish cooked with twice the normal amounts of onions in a curry or a dish where onions are used two times in the preparation.Wiki tells me that in eastern india particularly in the state of West Bengal which had a lot of muslim travelers then,this dish originated and then got popular in the rest of the country.

The good thing about this curry is that it used simple indian spices and herbs and has a yogurt tomato based sauce in addition to onions.I have used red pearl onions in the curry, you can replace with shallots or even chunks of medium-sized onions.The idea is to use onions in the sauce with as well as include them in the curry on their own.Dont be overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients, these are all easy to find things available in your pantry.The recipe is adapted from here.

Ingredients: [Serves 2]

  • 1 lb chicken ,bone in ,skinned [I used chicken thighs]
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup red pearl onions [or equivalent quantity of shallots or thick sliced onions]
  • 3 medium onions
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 4 fresh mint leaves
  • 1″fresh ginger shoot
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp oil [mustard/olive /canola]
  • Chopped cilantro [for garnish]

Whole Spices:
  • 6 cloves
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 4 green cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Dry Ground spices:
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder[adjust to taste]
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp dry coriander powder
  • Garam Masala to sprinkle [optional]

Preparation:

  • Soak the dry chillies in half cup water for about 15 minutes.
  • Once soaked, coarsely grind them using a mortar & pestle.
  • Rub chicken pieces with lemon juice,above red chilli paste and 1 tsp salt and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Peel the pearl onions and set aside.
  • Thinly chop the  onions.
  • Coarsely grind the mint leaves, ginger shoot and garlic cloves.Mix them which beaten yogurt and juice of the onion.Set aside.

Method
  • In a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the oil and let it come to a smoking point on high heat.Once smoking, reduce the heat, wait for 1 minute and add the pearl onions.Fry the pearl onions for 2-3 minutes until they turn light brown.Drain on a paper towel.
  • In the remaining oil,add the sliced onions along with all the whole spices and cook till onions turn golden brown on medium heat.About 5-8 minutes.
  • Next, add the chopped tomatoes along with turmeric, red chilli and coriander powder.Cook on medium heat till tomatoes become tender and you see oil separating on sides of the pot.About 5 minutes.
  • Add the marinated chicken along with marinade,yogurt mix and stir everything to combine properly.Check the salt at this stage.Adjust if required.
  • Now reduce the heat to low and let the curry cook till the chicken is tender.About 20 minutes for the size of chicken pieces you see in the pictures.
  • When the chicken is tender, add the fried pearl onions & sugar ,mix well, cover again and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and sprinkle with garam masala if u like.
  • Serve warm with rice or flatbreads.

Notes:
  • You can use lamb, mutton or beef for making this curry.Adjust cooking times accordingly.
  • I recommend using bone in and dark meat chicken pieces for this curry because the curry cooks for a long time on slow heat.
Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!
Categories
Baking Eggs

Lime Sugar Sandwich Cookies With Blueberry Cream Filling

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Ingredients

For the Lime Sugar Cookies [Makes 15 cookie sandwiches of the size shown]

Recipe adapted from Aparna’s Blog & Tips from Rosie’s Blog

  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup  + 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice

For the blueberry cream cheese filling :

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp blueberry paste

For the Blueberry Paste:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Method

Lime Sugar Cookies

  • In a medium bowl, sift flour,baking soda & powder, salt.Set aside
  • In a larger bowl,cream the butter & sugar thoroughly untill fluffy.To this add the lime juice & vanilla and beat until combined.
  • To the butter sugar mix, add the flour mix and gently combine with a spatula to bring together into a dough.You might need to add a tbsp or more of milk at this stage if required to make a soft dough.
  • Divide the dough into 2 small balls.Take a piece of plastic cling film, put the dough balls on it and flatten with palm to make a disc.Wrap the discs with plastic cling film.Repeat the same with 2nd dough ball.Chill both discs for about 30 minutes.
  • Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.Avoid using aluminium foil as the extreme heating up will burn the cookies from bottom.
  • After chilling, take one disc out, unwrap it and place it between two sheets of parchment  paper. Initially, you may find it little difficult to roll because of the chilled dough.It will soften as you go along.

  • Roll the disc using a floured rolling-pin into a sheet about 1/4″ thk.
  • Using a floured cookie cutter cut the cookies from the rolled dough.
  • Using a floured thin spatula, transfer the cookies to the lined cookie sheet.Note: Picking up the cookies with fingers will deshape them.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Chill the cut cookies again for 15 minutes.
  • Once chilled, bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the sides start turning brown.
  • Cool completely on a cooling rack.

Blueberry Paste:

Tip in the blueberries, water and sugar to a small sauce pan.Cook it on low heat until the blueberries are soft and mushy.Transfer to a blender.Blend on high to form a puree.Dissolve cornstarch into lemon juice.Transfer the puree to sauce pan again and add cornstarch mix.Cook on very low heat for about 5-8 minutes until you get a thick paste.Cool completely before adding to the cream.

Blueberry Cream Filling:

Make the filling by beating the cream cheese & butter with an electric mixer. Mix in powdered sugar until smooth.Add 2 tbsp of the cooled blueberry paste above to make a smooth mix.

Assembly:

Pipe or spread 1-2 tablespoons of blueberry filling in the center of a cookie. Top with a second cookie and press together until the filling reaches the edges of the cookies.Store in an air tight box for up to 3 days.

Notes:

  • Use any kind of berries or fruits to make the filling.The recipe remains the same.
  • I have mentioned the baking times on my oven.Since all ovens are different, please adjust the times as per your appliance.
  • You will need to adjust lime juice if your berries are really tart.

Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by!

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #43

Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Vegetarian

Easy Mango Basil Sorbet-Say hello to Spring

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients [Makes 1 quart]

  • 4 large, ripe mangoes [approx 2 lb ]
  • 1 /2 cup simple basil syrup
    [adjust to taste, quantity depends on how sweet your mangoes are]
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp vodka [optional]

Method:

  • Put the container in which you plan to freeze the sorbet in the freezer to chill.I used an air tight plastic storage container.
  • Peel and chop the flesh the mango into cubes.
  • Make the basil simple syrup[ recipe below].Allow it to cool.The recipe makes 1 cup of syrup but you will need only 1/2 cup for this recipe.
  • Once cooled, in a blender combine all the ingredients except zest and process until smooth. You can adjust the amount of simple syrup based on your desired sweetness.
  • Stir in the lemon zest into the blend.
  • Pour into the chilled container and return to the freezer.Check back in an hour and stir the frozen edges back in. You will need to do this 5-6 times after every hour.
  • Let freeze overnight or for atleast 6 hours until firm.The resulting sorbet will be quite soft.

Note: If you have an ice cream maker, your life is much easy.Put it to work according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Basil Simple Syrup [Makes 1 cup]

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 packed basil leaves, finely chopped

In a small sauce pan bring sugar and water to a boil.Add the basil leaves and simmer for 5 minutes.Pour into a cup and refrigerate until cold.Do not drain the basil leaves.

I have adapted the recipes and tips on sorbet making without ice cream maker from here and here.

Enjoy!

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #41

Categories
Brunch one pot meals Rice Dishes Vegetarian

Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp canola oil [or olive oil]
  • 2 tbsp ghee [clarified butter]
  • 1 large red onion,sliced
  • 2 tsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 /2 cup plain greek yogurt / thick yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, fried brown onions for garnish

Dry Spices

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 black pepper corns
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed open
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Powdered Spices

  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp dry coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

Vegetables : {You can any vegetables of choice, I m writing proportions and kind I used}

  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and 1/2 ” cubed
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut small
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Method:

Thoroughly was the rice in 2-3 streams of water.Let the rice soak in enough water for at least 2 hours.Drain the rice after soaking, transfer to a heavy bottomed pot with at least 7 cups of salted water and cook it till 90% cooked. Note: The rice cooking time will depend upon the quality and type of rice both.My variety takes approx 20 minutes. Once cooked, drain the rice and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot with lid , heat the oil on high heat for about 2 minutes.Add the ghee [clarified butter] to the pan followed by sliced onions.Fry the onions untill golden brown.Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for about 2 minutes.Next tip in the chopped tomatoes, all the spices except garam masala and yogurt.Cook for at least 10 minutes on medium heat until the oil starts separating on the sides of the pot.Next, lower the heat and add yogurt to the mix.Stir for about 3 minutes on low heat.[Tip: Any recipe which calls for using yogurt, just ensure that you lower the heat and then add yogurt.Cooking on low heat with yogurt is important to avoid the curdling]

Next, add the potatoes, beans, carrots and cauliflower florets to the pan with 1/2 cup water and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes covered or until the vegetables are tender.Add the peas now along with salt to taste and garam masala..Cook uncovered for another 5 minutes on medium heat or till they are tender.Once done, remove from heat.

Assembly:

In the same heavy bottomed pot, spread 1/3 of the cooked rice at the bottom.Layer half of the cooked vegetables on this layer and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.Spread again with 1/3 of the rice and spread rest of the cooked vegetables and cilantro.Cover with remaining cooked rice. Note: You can create as many layers of rice & vegetables as you want.

Next, dampen a clean, thick cloth with water large enough to cover the mouth of the pot.Cover the pot with this damp cloth, put the lid tightly on the pot and set the pot to a very low heat. [Alternatively, you can place the pot on top of a tawa/griddle to reduce heat further] This method is called Dum cooking wherein, the contents of the pot cook on very low heat in their own juices and develop flavors. Cook like this for at least 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from heat.Do not remove the lid or cloth immediately.Let the rice set for about 10 minutes. Mix rice gently with the vegetables and add 2 tbsp of melted ghee [optional]

Spoon into a serving dish, garnish with chopped cilantro and deep-fried onions.Serve with pickle, raita or salad.

Recipe for cucumber mint raita here.

Enjoy!

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #40

Categories
Beverages Easy Recipes Festival Recipes

Thandai-Fragrant Milk Drink With Spices,Nuts & Mint

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients [serves 4]

  • 4 cups of whole milk (substitute with low-fat/almond milk/soy milk)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsalted cashews
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds [or melon seeds if available]
  • 2 tsp white poppy seeds [available in indian stores under the name ‘Khus-Khus‘ or ‘Posto‘]
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns [adjust to taste]
  • 7-8 green whole cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds [or aniseed]
  • 1 tbsp rosewater [use 1-2 drops if using rose essence]
  • pinch of saffron dissolved with 1 tbsp of warm milk
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves [don’t use too many else drink will turn bitter]
  • Sugar to taste
  • Nuts and ice cubes [optional] for garnish

Method:

  • Soak almonds,cashews, fennel, poppy, pumpkin seeds, cardamom & black peppercorn in enough water overnight or for at least 5-6 hours.
  • Once soaked, drain the water and discard it.
  • Tip in the soaked nuts& spices along with rosewater and mint leaves in a blender and grind to a smooth paste.
  • At this point, refrigerate the paste if you want to use it later.The paste keeps fresh for 4-5 days,refrigerated.
  • For making the Thandai: Tip in the milk, cream,dissolved saffron along with sugar to the taste in a blender on smoothie mode and churn for 3-4 minutes on high till everything comes together.
  • Pour into glasses, garnish with nuts and serve chilled.

Variations :

  • You can use the cold milk mixture to make a thandai ice- cream.
  • Blend it with lots of ice and 2-3 tbsp condensed milk and make a smoothie.Adjust sugar in that case.

Enjoy ! Happy Holi Everyone!

Categories
Baking Breakfast Desserts Easy Recipes Eggs

Indian Mava Minicakes With Pistachios & Saffron

Update 05/23/2011

A reader successfully tried this cake.You can see the link here.Thank you so much for trying out.

Tuesday,8th March is our wedding anniversay.I wanted to make something to refresh memories of Pune,a bustling metropolis near Mumbai,India.I couldn’t think of anything else but Mava cake, a unique speciality from Pune/Mumbai bakeries to recapture the moments we spent there.City of Pune has always been special,it is the city from where my career took off with first job and then I met P there for the first time 7 years back.Also referred to as the “Oxford of the East”, Pune is a youthful city with pleasant weather all round the year and attracts a lot of foreign students.I lived in Pune for almost 2 years, and while I was there I got a chance to enjoy the cultural heritage of the city.Due to presence of Osho Ashram ,Pune is a haven for foreign tourists who come here to seek relaxation through meditation and simple, natural living.

The influence of cosmopolitan elements is quite explicit in the city’s culture and lifestyle.Thanks to influx of foreigners, the city has a plethora of world cuisine restaurants and bakeries to choose from. My two favorite  bakeries from the city were Kayani Bakery on MG Road and German Bakery in Koregaon Park[den of the Osho Ashram]. A visit to German Bakery and you won’t feel you are in India.I usually frequented there to catch up with friends over Masala Chai.The place has less of a bakery feel but its more like a mini eatery serving some of the best cheese sandwiches, toasts and burgers.One of the highlight was that except for chai they don’t serve any indian food.

Anyhow, since we are talking Mava cakes here, I want to focus on Kayani Bakery, a reminiscent of Irani/Parsi Cafés specializing in some of the best milk cakes and biscuits [cookies].Wiki tells me that these Iranian cafés were first opened by Persian travellers to India in the 19th century.Iranian cafés used to be numerous and popular but competition from modern cafés and fast food restaurants have left them behind.One of the most popular eating places is the 102-year-old Kayani Café, a heritage landmark in south Mumbai.Though I m not sure but I think from the similarities between the setting and menu of both places that Kayani Bakery in Pune is an offshoot of the same legacy.The bakery is very ordinary looking, always packed with people, with crowds thronging to queue up as early as 6 or 7 in the morning to get their daily quota of fresh baked goodies. The bakery opens at 8 and by noon, they are out of most of their stuff.I have had the best and most unusual biscuits [cookies] and cakes of my life here.To name a few, if you get a chance to visit, you should not come back without Shrewsbury biscuits and wine [yes] biscuits.

The mention of Kayani bakery is incomplete without mention of  Mava cake.Infact, mava cakes have been their shot to fame.A no-frill, milky cake, made with flour, eggs, butter, sugar, cardamom and mava.Mava or Khoya is nothing but solidified milk, quite comparable to ricotta but less moist.It is used in making most of the indian sweets and desserts. You take one bite of the mava cake and you can discern that unique flavor-dense,scrumptious and milky.It is difficult to describe the luscious mava tingling on your taste buds,the delectable lively aroma of sweet-smelling cardamom complete with a delightful sensation of the dense texture rendered by baked flour and butter.It a feeling you want to prolong.You want to take bite, sit back and enjoy without dunking it down with coffee or tea.Trust me it would be a sacrilege if you want to wash down the cake with a beverage.If you must, couple it with hot milk, it doubles the warmth. Mava cakes from Kayani Bakery are superb, unique, matchless, delicious – the best and freshest milky cake in the world.If you are looking for a fluffy, light cake, this cake is not for you.It is the dense and heavy texture along with exotic taste that leaves you with a full feeling when you eat it.

When I told P abt mava cake, I dont know from where he came up with this idea and suggested a twist with pistachios and saffron.He is totally saffron loving person but in this cake saffron did wonders.It made us feel at home 🙂 However, the authentic version is made with almonds/cashews and cardamom.You can replace these if you feel.I saw a lot of recipes on the internet, but I settled for this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Tartelette.I used her cake recipe with my additions.For the mava, I used my own proportions.Though I stuck to using evaporated milk and cream for making mava as done by Helen, you can use whole milk to make it too.I do it many a times and there is not much of a difference in taste.But working with whole milk will take little more time to make mava.Below goes the recipe:

Ingredients [Makes 3 mini cakes of the size shown]

For the Mava/Khoya [Yield 1 cup ]

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup evaporated full fat milk

For the Mini cakes [Makes 3 mini cakes of the size shown]

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder [use aluminium free]
  • 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup mava, softened at room temperature
  • 7 tbsp  unsalted butter,softened
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tbsp  whole milk
  • 2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup fine chopped unsalted pistachios for mixing in cake batter
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios for topping.

Mava making is basically a process involving low heat cooking of whole milk and/or cream till the moisture content of the milk is reduced and it becomes paste like.Once it is cooked for such a long time,the remaining milk solids and fats in the milk take a butterscotch/caramel color.This paste is then poured into moulds and cooled.Once cooled, mava can be cubed using a sharp knife or crumbled with fingers. First important thing to note while making mava at home is that you have to check on the mix quite regularly, scrape it down the sides and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.Second being that the last few minutes in the process are very important, because the paste can turn into a dry crumble within second so keep a watch. I recommend that if you plan to make this cake, prepare mava a day or two in advance because mava making takes about 1-1.5 hours alone and  cooling time is separate.Mava can be refrigerated for up to 4-5 days and frozen for 1-2 months without losing taste and freshness.

Making Mava at home:

In a heavy bottomed, wide-mouthed and preferably non stick pan, pour in both evaporated milk and heavy cream.A non stick pan helps to avoid the milk & cream from getting burnt and sticking to bottom while cooking.Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.About 10 minutes.Once boiled, reduce the heat to medium on your burner. Cook with continuous stirring for about 15 minutes.The milk mix will start changing color slightly and start to thicken.At ths point,turn the heat to low on your stove and let cook with occasional cooking.The milk will keep on thickening and start turning into a sauce like consistency.Another 20 minutes.You have to stir the mix continuously now and scrape from the sides. At the end of 20 minutes, the mixture starts looking like a smooth caramel colored sauce.In some cases, it can turn grainy too.Continue cooking on low heat for another 10-15 minutes with continuous stirring.Cook down till there is very little moisture left in the mixture and its pasty, smooth and little shiny due to fats in the cream.At this point remove from heat.

Mava Making 

What I do is to immediately measure out 1/2 cup paste and pour it into individual bowl.Such pre measured bowl are easy to use anytime.Just run a sharp knife all around the bowl.and unmould.Let the paste in the bowls cool down, cover with cling film and refrigerate. The whole process took me about 1.5 hours with the quantities I have mentioned.

Note: You can also get Mava/khoya at any of the indian stores easily.It can be used to make this cake.You will just need to measure out, soften it a bit in a pot on low heat for 5 minutes and use.

Method:

  • Night before: Let the butter, eggs and mava sit on the kitchen countertop to come to a room temperature.
  • Preparing before cake making :Preheat the oven to 350F.Grease thoroughly the sides of whatever baking pan, cupcake pan, spring foam pan you are using for making these cakes.
  • Heat up the milk for 20 seconds in microwave to luke warm.Add saffron strands to the milk and let dissolve.
  • Mix flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom powder thoroughly and set aside.
  • Making the cake: In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed beat the butter with softened mava and sugar until creamy and light brown in color.About 3 minutes.
  • Once creamy , add the eggs, one at a time and beat to combine well.About 2 minutes.
 Mava Cake Step-By-Step
  • Next add the milk + saffron mixture and blend well on low-speed until a smooth mixture is formed.About 1 minute.
  • Add the flour mixture all at once to the wet ingredients and beat well on medium speed to make a smooth, creamy batter.About 2 minutes.
  • Fold in the fine chopped pistachios in the batter.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly into the pan to leaving some room for rising and top with more chopped pistachios.
  • Bake in oven for 22-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Mine took 24 minutes exact.
  • Once baked, remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes to cool and then unmould.
  • Let cool completely before slicing.

Notes:

  • The quality of mava plays and important role in the texture of this cake.Generally, the store bought mava has less oil content so if using one u ll need to adjust the amount of butter so that the cake does not turn dry.I recommend making mava at home to best use the proportions given above.
  • The cake sits fresh for upto two days unrefrigerated.
  • Any kind of nuts : almonds, cashews etc can be used in place of pistachios.

Enjoy!

Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Rice Dishes Vegetarian

Kewra Kheer-Aromatic Rice Pudding With Screw Pine Water & Foxnuts

Kewra Jal or Screwpine water is used to flavor a lot indian curries,biryanis,drinks and desserts particularly those which are milk based.It is also used in lot of indian sweets made out of squashes and dried milk.Drinks prepared with Kewra are said to be have a cooling effect on the body during the scorching summer months.Similar to rose-water or orange blossom water, the essence is more concentrated than Kewra water.The essence may be yellowish or transparent in color.

Other than food, if you happen to visit the beach destinations of India, you can indulge in Kewra water bath and spa sessions at many of the resorts and hotels.Perfumes and body lotions containing essential oils made with Kewra are also popular as stimulants to cure headaches and provide general relaxation to body. Ayurveda,the ancient form of medicinal cure with natural products is known to use Kewra for healing joint pains and bone related problems.All in all Kewra is supposed to have cater to those senses of your body which provide calmness to mind and soul.

Talking about “Makhana” or Foxnuts, these are used a lot to make curries and desserts.These are nothing but puffed seeds of the foxnut plant.Some people like to add foxnut seeds to the daily cereal to increase fibre in their diet.In indian cooking, it is widely used as a natural thickener in crushed or powdered forms.When toasted with butter/oil and sprinkled with salt and dried herbs, puffed foxnuts make a great snack with evening tea.Eating a handful of foxnuts daily is considered to strengthen the heart and is very useful in anemia.

Dont get the impression that the rice pudding that I have prepared using all the stuff above is healthy, but it is certainly rich and flavorful.Anyhow, after all that overdose of knowledge, let me come to the recipe which is nothing but “Kheer” or indian rice pudding made by cooking crushed foxnuts and basmati rice with whole milk and flavored with green cardamom powder and kewra water.It is the most luscious and exotic form of dessert for us.Indian kheer is different from the pudding recipes around the world in the sense that it is not egg based.Some people like to add condensed milk to rice pudding for fast thickening, I normally don’t do that and stick to the traditional way of thickening the milk via slow cooking.It is considered auspicious to offer Kheer to God during festivals.I prepared this recipe last week.Below goes the recipe:

Ingredients [Serves 4]

  • 1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 5 cups whole milk [or half n half]
  • 1/4 cup crushed foxnuts [makhana, available at indian stores]
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar [or adjust to taste]
  • 1 tbsp Kerwa water [If using essence put, 1-2 drops only] [Available at indian stores]
  • 1 tsp green cardamom powder
  • handful of golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • For Garnish- chopped almonds, raisins,toasted foxnuts,pinch of cardamom powder, shredded coconut [optional]

Method:

  • Wash the rice under 2-3 streams of water and let soak in 1.5 cups of water for one hour.
  • In a pot with heavy bottom, pour the milk and let come to a boil.Once boiling,reduce the heat to low, drain the rice and tip into the pot.Tip in the crushed foxnuts also along with rice.
  • Cook the milk and rice mixture on low heat for about 30-40 minutes on low heat stirring at intervals, so that the rice does not stick to the bottom.
  • Cook until rice is soft and broken and milk has reduced to about half the quantity and is thick.
  • Add chopped almonds,raisins and cardamom powder and cook for 10 minutes more.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for about 5-8 minutes to cool down a bit.
  • Stir in the granulated sugar and kewra water. Make sure that when you add the sugar the pudding is not very hot.
  • Serve garnished with almonds or any nuts of choice.

Variations:

  • You can use rose water in place of kewra water.
  • This pudding can be prepared with foxnuts only also.

Enjoy!