Strawberry Shondesh ( Milk Fudge )

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…… The small packet of “Shondesh”, neatly arranged in a paper box with the name of the famous sweet shop imprinted artistically on top, was sitting on the top shelf of the kitchen. We were expecting friends in the evening, that is when the Shondesh would be enjoyed by all. “Why can’t we have Shondesh everyday Ma?”, we siblings would ask in unison. “It tastes sweeter when you share things”, came Ma’s reply, carefully veiling the ‘we cannot afford that everyday’ truth.

IMG_5154Shodesh is the ‘King’ of sweets in Bengal. Reserved for exclusive occasions like birthdays, weddings, success in job interview or visiting that special relative. Made from milk and either sugar or  a special jaggery. Not other additives were added. ….

Changing times have changed Shondesh too. Keeping up with the millenial taste Shondesh these days come in all flavours, like chocolate, Tutti frutti, strawberry, mango and so many others.

Try this easy peasy recipe and let me know if you liked it.

Recipe: Made 20 pieces.

Ingredients,

Ricotta cheese                         2 cups

Milk powder                             1 cup

Strawberry puree                      1 cup

Sugar                                      1 Tbsp ( or to taste )

Ghee                                      1 Tbsp

Red food colour                      4 drops ( optional )

Method;

In a non stick pan mix the above ingredients and cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes. Keep stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Put the gas off when the mixture starts to form a dough.

I love the mild flavour of the strawberries, hence have not added any other flavouring agents.

When it is safe and warm enough to handle, take one tablespoon measure of the dough and form into a ball. If you have moulds, grease the mould and press the mixture in and then carefully remove to get an imprint.

Enjoy, store in air tight container in refrigerator for up to one week.

Strawberries and Kulfi Pannacotta

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Summer is incomplete without kulfi back home and strawberries here in North America.

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……The “U pick berries” sounds novel to me. Armed with an ice cream pail, it is you and the rows and rows of strawberry bushes. A split second to decide based on the size, colour of the fruit and in it goes in the pail. These variety are tiny but oh so sweet!

….. The very hot temperatures back home melted the kulfis so fast, I clearly remember  sometimes an obligatory lick on the elbow to do justice to the precious liquid seemed mandatory.

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……I tried to blend both the worlds in this recipe. using agar agar instead of gelatine, makes this a vegetarian dessert.

Here is the recipe for you….

Recipe; Serves 4

Ingredients,

“Gits’ kulfi mix                         1 pkt

Full cream milk                       1.5 cups

Strawberry puree                     1 cup

Sugar                                    2Tbsp or more.

Agar Agar                               2/3 tsp and 2/3 tsp

Water                                     2 Tbsps

Whole Strawberries and cashews to garnish

Method:

Empty the “Kulfi’ mix in a bowl, add milk and mix together. Take one Tbsp water and add 2/3 tsp of agar agar in a sauce pan on low heat. As soon as it mixes together add the milk mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes until it thickens. Take it out of the gas and keep aside.

Clean the strawberries and make a puree. In another bowl take one tbsp of water and add 2/3 tsp of agar agar on low heat. As it blends together, add the strawberry puree and sugar. Cook on low heat for around 10 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Put the gas off.

In a tall glass carefully layer 2 ladles of the strawberry mixture and let it cool. I put them in the fridge for 15 minutes. When set carefully pour the milk mixture on top of each of previously filled strawberry mixture.

Put the glasses in the fridge for about half hour. Garnish with whole berries and nuts of your choice and enjoy!

Notes:

Heavy cream with a flavouring agent and sweetener of your choice can be substituted if “Kulfi” mixture is not at hand.

 

Bannock: Bread of the First Nation’s people

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I did not have to check the menu, as I knew, no matter what, I would be ordering bannocks ,  I was working in a Dene Settlement  up in the territories, the Friday menu always had freshly baked bannocks. Although this bread was very new to me, as I cut the still warm bannock  in half to slather the butter and jam, I was totally convinced that  the main ingredient in this recipe was “Love”………..

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This delicious and easy bread stores well, can be cooked on a campfire or even fried.

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Navigating these difficult times, I take comfort from food.

Salute to our ‘Home and native land’. Happy Canada day!

Recipe: Makes a dozen, depending on the size.

Ingredients;

All purpose flour                          3 cups

Baking powder                            11/2 Tbsps

Salt                                             1/4 tsp

Cold butter                                  1/4 cup

Milk                                            11/2 cups

Method;

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Take a bowl with the all purpose flour, salt, baking powder and butter. Mix them together. Use both hands to mix the butter pieces and flour together, until it looks like wet sand.

Make a well in the middle, add the milk, Gently bring these two together using a fork . Do not knead.Just aim to bring it together as a loose dough. Now bring this on a lightly floured flat surface. Use all the fingers to spread it on all sides. Turn it over and use your fingers to extend again. Take a fork and pierce it all around. Take a round cookie cutter and cut into rounds.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Put the round pieces on the sheet. bake for 30-35 minutes. Take the cookie sheet out, turn each of the bannocks.

Enjoy them with a good slather of butter and jam of your choice.

These store well in a airtight container.

Sweetened flatttened rice: Mitha poha: Mishti Chirey; GF snack

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…. The big white butterfly sat on the golden marigold before hopping off to the pink bougenvillea vine. Behind which ran a bunch of kids of all ages between eleven and two. It was summer holidays and every year we visited our granpa’s house. With no electronic devices to entertain us we remained busy chasing butterflies, climbing the guava tree, playing tag, My mum would be busy with my aunties, giving a hand to my granma in the kitchen. They would catch up with the latest gossip, alternating between hushed whispers and bursts of loud laughter. With uncles and aunties and their families, the kitchen remained forever busy, ready to cater breakfast lunch, snacks, munchies, supper to toddlers and seniors alike.

….. Chirey or flattened rice makes this easy snack, which can be made ahead. It comes handy any time of the day, either with a cup of tea, or just by itself for the kids.

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… Fast forward a few decades, the cousins have their own families now. Face time, Whats app kept us connected. The conversation always drifted back to the good old days, our visits to our granpa’s. We always reminisced the same stories, enjoyed them now as if they were never old. Then came COVID 19 . My auntie and her husband passed away the same day. Before we finished mourning their loss, my cousin tested positive. Armed with the first dose of the vaccine he put up a brave fight for 31 days in ICU before succumbing to the virus. Just shy of his fiftieth  birthday, all he left behind, besides his family is a lot of memories…..

Stay safe dear friends.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a snack.

Ingredients;

Chirey ( Flattened rice).                      2 cups

Peanuts                                            1/2 cup

Ghee                                                2 Tbsps

Salt                                                   To taste

Sugar                                                2 tsps

Method;

Dry roast the peanuts on medium heat in a pan till slight change in colour, about 10 minutes. Collect them in a bowl. Take the Chirey on the pan on a medium low flame and dry roast for about 10 minutes, stirring all the time. Add one tablespoon of ghee and give a nice mix. Continue stirring. Throw in the peanuts, salt and the other table spoon of ghee and roast for another 10 minutes. Add the sugar and mix again. The colour of the Chirey will have changed and the sugar tends to stick on to the Chirey. Switch the gas off. Collect in a bowl, wait to cool down before you dig in.

This stores well in airtight container. Comes handy in camping. trips, long journeys or just as snack.

Note;

Chirey ( Flattened rice) is available at Indian grocery stores.

Milk powder Burfi (Fudge) for Easter

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Who would have thought that underneath the thick layer of snow, lay the seed in a dormant state. When the time is right, it gently wakes up. From inside the hard coat comes out the softest shoot. The buds on the trees are swollen, the birds are back. The nature just woke up from a slumber. Very soon there will be beautiful flowers in all shades and scents.

Spring is almost synonymous to ‘Hope’. It will be alright. All will be well. I consider this a very important message. Did you have a great Easter? We still cannot lay our guards down, can we? Stay safe friends.

Here is a very easy recipe for a milk fudge. Hope you give it a try.

 

IMG_4580Recipe: ( Based on a recipe from Hebbar’s kitchen)

Ingredients; Made 12 pieces. ( Depends on the size)

Ghee.   1/4 cup

Milk       3/4 cup

Milk powder   21/2 cup

Sugar       1/2 cup

Vanilla extract     1/2 tsp

Easter eggs to garnish

Method;

Place a wax paper on a rectangular pan and grease with butter. Set aside.

Take the ghee on a non stick pan on low heat. Add milk, milk powder and sugar. Keep stirring to avoid any lumps, till the moisture evaporates and it comes together like a dough, about 12-15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix properly. Turn the heat off.

Transfer this to the greased pan. Use a spatula to get an even surface. Break the easter eggs to big chunks and lay them on the surface. Let the dough rest for about half hour then cut in pieces, in size that you prefer.

Enjoy!

Water Chestnut flour fudge: Singhare ke atte ki burfi: GF

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Fasting once a week or once every fortnight has long been prescribed by our ancestors as a  means to stay fit. “Keeping the body light ” has many benefits as shown in recent studies by the Nobel Laureats.

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Maha Shivratri or the Night of Shiva is a time when there is an upsurge of natural energy in the Northern hemisphere. ( Isha.Sadguru.org).This can be utilized in a positive way by sitting erect, keeping the vertebrae straight and  practising to calm the mind.

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Grain free food is recommended on these days. The human body is about two thirds water. Just like the waves  of the ocean rise high or gets pulled up on full moon or new moon days, the same forces can affect the human body, causing  a disruption. in the metabolic system. In order to have a control of the mind, food that has less water in them are prescribed. Since the grains have lot of water in them, they are avoided.

Water chestnut is a fruit, the skin of which is removed, and then the fruit is ground, dried into a flour.

Hope you get to try this interesting flour!

Recipe About 20 pieces, depending on size

Ingredients

Water Chestnut flour                              3/4 cup

Sugar                                                     1/2 cup

Ghee                                                     2 tsps

Cardamom powder                                1/4 tsp

Water                                                     21/4 cup

Slices of cashew, almonds and grated coconut to garnish.

Method ;

Take the flour and ghee in a non stick pan and dry roast on medium heat till the colour changes to light brown. Collect it in a bowl. Add one cup water to it and mix till you get a lump free solution. Set aside.

Grease a small tray and keep ready.

Take the above lump free flour solution in a pan, add the rest of the water, sugar and cardamom powder, on high heat. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens, crank the heat down and let it cook till it leaves the pan.

Transfer the mixture to the greased tray, garnish with the chopped nuts and grated coconut. Wait for about half hour for it to set. Cut in pieces and enjoy.

Notes; This flour is available at Indian grocery stores.

Eggless Raspberry Linzer cookies.

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…….What Zer? I asked in surprise.  Linzer , my friend replied quite matter of factly.

“Jam Bishcoot” I said firmly, and that’s  how I know these treats from way back when. They can also be “Cream Bishcoot”, with different flavoured creams sandwiched in between., I added, to prove my vast knowledge in the Bishcoot world.

…… “Ebarey petey betha hobey”, It will hurt your tomorrow, warned my Ma, and. hid the box on the very back of the top shelf in the pantry. The round blue box with pictures of cherub faces adorned with flowers on their heads had been our target ever since Baba brought it home.

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Afternoon was a time Ma had to herself, she sat on the veranda with the fleeting winter sun on her back either with a novel in hand or her knitting. We sisters decided that would be the perfect time for the heist.

The youngest sibling was directed to climb to the top of the pyramid formed by the older girls. She would hand over the box, which would be emptied  in lighting speed and kept back in place.

We held our breath as the tiniest hands grabbed the corner of the box. Just when I was deciding if I would lick the jam first or give a bite, Bam, my sister lost her concentration and fell. A bunch of red beaked parrots were fighting on the guava tree.

The rest went pretty fast. Ma came running, a tight slap on my face for putting my youngest sister through this traumatic event. The usual “I told you so”…

Recipe : Made 8.

Ingredients

All purpose flour                  1 cup

Almond flour                        1/4 cup

Unsalted butter                    1/2 cup

Icing sugar                           1/2 cup

Vanilla extract                      1/4 tsp

Salt                                     1/8 tsp

Raspberry jam                      1/4 cup

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl combine flour and almond flour and salt.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and icing sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat another minute.

Lower the speed and add the dry ingredients, mix till combined.

Gather the dough, flatten in two disc about an inch thick, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for about an hour. Roll the cookie dough between two layers of parchment to 1/4 inches thick. Use a 3 inches cookie cutter to cut the cookies, gather the scraps, roll again and cut.  I used a heart cookie cutter on half of the cookies to get the design  Chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies sit on a wire crack. When cool take spoonful of jam and put it on the cookie surface without the heart cutout. Seat the heart cut out cookie on top.

Enjoy.

Notes;

I added a couple table spoon of milk to the dough, as it appeared very dry to me.

The rolling pin was from @maria.leonova