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
Brunch one pot meals Side Dishes Soups Vegetarian

Saffron & Mint Chickpea Stew

Soups & Stews are my favorite things about winters. The thought of getting a chance to spend hours in front of the stove coupled with an aroma that fills up the house as spices simmer drives me nuts (in a good way). With nip in the air finally knocking here, I was thrilled while I made season’s first batch of stock & soup few days back followed by this slow cooked chickpea stew.

Store bought stocks & soups never excite me, I m the kind of girl who is crazy about fresh ingredients even if it requires heading an extra mile to get those. Can you believe that I have never bought canned chickpeas or any other beans for that matter? Nothing against them, but having grown up seeing mom soak the beans overnight, boil them next day & then use them in her recipes, even with ready-to-use options available here, I never feel like harnessing them.Somehow..

Anyhow, coming back to the recipe, bean based stews are best options for me when wanting to eat light as well as comforting. Few of you might have already guessed that this stew is heavily inspired by classic moroccan flavors – saffron, cumin, mint & black pepper make it hearty and add the required warmth for the winter season. Saffron & turmeric combined with chili powder is what gives it the lovely yellowish-golden color, nothing less than sunshine during those cold evenings. This is the kind of food, which is perfect for this time of year when I want to curl up in a blanket and watch a movie while eating.Don’t be bogged down by the long list of ingredients, they are mostly available in your pantry 🙂 The stew is incredibly healthy (no meat/less oil) and will leave you satisfied to the tee…trust me

We eat it more as soup with crusty bread than as main dish. For those reasons, I like to keep the gravy slightly thinner (so that we can slurp). However, this can very well serve as a main dish with rice or flatbreads. I particularly like to add starchy  (root) vegetables to this recipe coz those pair up delicious with chickpeas. Choose the veggie (s) you like (carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes etc ). The recipe does not need any baby-sitting while it cooks in. And like ALL stew recipe, I need not mention that leftovers tastes all the way better..try it!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

If using dried chickpeas: –

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in 3 cups water overnight or at least 8 hours & drained
  • 2 cups water for boiling the chickpeas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil

Note: – Skip the above step if using canned chickpeas and substitute with precooked ones.

  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 3 tbsp mustard / olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2″ fresh ginger shoot, grated
  • 1/2 tsp each fennel, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, lightly pounded in mortar pestle
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tbsp red chill powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 large roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, slightly sour
  • 2 tsp saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup luke warm water
  • 5-6 fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
  • 2 Thai green chilies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro/Mint leaves for garnish

Method: –

Boil the soaked chickpeas in 2 cups water + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp oil in a pressure cooker or in a covered pot until 90% tender. If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium-high for approximately 10 minutes & 2 whistles. If using a covered pot, on medium-high heat, this should take 30-35 minutes. Note: – Chickpeas come in all sorts of sizes; the time that I have given is for the small beans.Once boiled, drain the chickpeas & set aside. Reserve the water & mix it thoroughly with yogurt. Set aside.

Heat oil on high in a 3-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot (with lid). When oil gets smoky, add chopped onions, cinnamon, bay leaves & cloves to the pot. Sauté for about 6-8 minutes or until the onions are translucent but not browned. Next, add ginger, garlic, pounded fennel, coriander, black peppercorns and cumin to the pot.Cook for about 30 seconds or till you start smelling the spices. Reduce heat to medium and add the turmeric & chili powder next along with chopped tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until you see oil separating on sides of the pan. About 8 minutes.

Next, add the potatoes, boiled chickpeas to the pot along with yogurt mixed with water. Check the salt (remember that chickpeas were boiled in salted water) and adjust. Also depending desired gravy consistency, adjust the water in the pot. As a thumb rule, water should be enough to cover the contents as they cook. Cover the pot and let come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low & let cook till potatoes and chickpeas are tender. About 12-15 minutes. You will need to occasionally stir.

Just when the potatoes & chickpeas are fork tender, add the saffron dissolved in water along with chopped mint & green chilies (if using). Cover and let simmer for another 8 minutes. Remove from heat & add lemon juice. Garnish with chopped cilantro or mint leaves.Serve over couscous, rice or with bread.

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 !