Kaddu ka meetha: Sweet Pumpkin balls

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IMG_2976 Laddus  ( sweet balls )are a very common dessert back home. the permutations and combinations of the ingredients are many. Almost anything can be made into Laddus.

I am a little unfamiliar with sweet pumpkin recipes. With the festival season round the corner,, it is raining pumpkins everywhere in the Instagram and in stores, i decided to give this “Laddu” a try.

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Pumpkin spice latte is something I look forward to every fall. When I was contemplating a sweet recipe with pumpkin, I knew I was not using cardamom  powder or vanilla essence for flavouring. I wanted the pumpkin spice flavour in the sweets.

Give it a try friends. It was ready soon, tasted great and gluten free.

Here is the recipe….

 

IMG_2966 (1)Recipe: made 21 pieces.

Ingredients;

Chickpea flour (Besan)                                1 cup

Grated pumpkin                                          11/2 cup

Desiccated coconut                                    1/2 cup

Sugar                                                         1 cup

Milk                                                            1 cup

Ghee                                                          2 Tbsps

Melon seeds                                              1/3 cup

Nutmeg powder                                         1 tsp

Mace powder                                            1/2 tsp

Clove powder                                            1/2 tsp

Ginger powder                                           1/2 tsp

Pistachio slivers                                         1 tbsp

Method ;

Dry roast the melon seeds till they pop, a few minutes, and collect on a bowl.

Strain the Besan, and dry roast it on low heat till there is a nutty aroma, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Dry roast the grated pumpkin so it cooks slightly, looses water, about 7-8 minutes.

Now add the besan, desiccated coconut, milk, sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The mixture will start to thicken, add the ghee. Mix thoroughly . Put the gas off when a dough forms.. Add the melon seeds, nutmeg, mace, clove and ginger powder. Mix once again.

Wait till the mixture cools down such that one can handle. Take a tablespoon of this mixture and form into balls. Garnish with the pistachio slivers.

Share it with your friends and family.

Jawl Bhawra Shawndesh : Syrup filled cheese fudge

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It was around circa1810, the daughter of the erstwhile Zamindar of Mankundu of Bengal just got married. The son-in-laws usually enjoyed a celebrity status then and were spoilt rotten by the bride’s family. So when the newly married couple were visiting the Zaminder a few days later, the family members wanted to get back to the son-in-law. The famous sweet maker of the area Surjya Kumar Modak was instructed to come up with a new sweet recipe. The ladies of the house offered this sweet to the new son-in-law. One bite into it, the jaggery syrup filling spilled all over his crisp top. The new son-in-law’s embarrassment was enjoyed to the hilt by the bride’s family!

Traditionally this is made from home made cheese or Chhena, and filled with date palm jaggery. This is cheat’s recipe. I have improvised it using ricotta cheese and Canadian maple syrup.

Shawndesh molds are available to give different shapes to the Shawndesh. This one takes the shape from Palmyra palm fruit.

Sweets are an integral part of any festivity. Here is the recipe if you would like to have a go and surprise your friends and family.

Recipe: Made 14 pieces.

Ingredients:

Ricotta cheese                                       2 cups

Milk powder                                           1 cup

Sugar                                                    1 cup

Ghee                                                     3 tbsps

Cardamom powder                              1/2 tsp

Raisins                                                about 15

Pistachio pieces                                  one Tbsp

Method;

On a non stick pan take the ghee on medium heat. Once this melts add the cheese, sugar and milk powder. Keep stirring now and then so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the cardamom powder. Slowly the mixture thickens about 40 minutes and forms a dough. Collect it on a plate. Put the gas off.

Take the molds, grease the inside with ghee,  Place one raisin and bit of the pistachio sliver on the inside of the mold. Put a tablespoon of this mixture, press it gently so it confirms to the shape of the mold. Take the other half of the mold and press genlty. With your pinky make a hole at the back of this Shawndesh. Pour a tea spoonful of maple syrup in it. Take about half teaspoon of the mixture to close this hole. Unmold very gently.

If molds are not available, it could be formed into a ball, a hole made in it, filled with syrup and the hole plugged with a bit of the dough.

It does take a bit of patience and time, but the joy when done is as great too.

Happy thanksgiving friends!

Pear fudge : Pear Burfi

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As exotic as it may sound, growing up in India, my go to fruits were Mangoes, Jackfruits, Custard apples or Pineapples. Mango fudge, Custard apple pudding or Pineapple chutney were my heros, in the world of desserts. Including pear in a dessert was surely outside my comfort zone. I wanted to give this a try.

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The moment I decided to use pear in the dessert, I knew it had to have some texture. If you know me, you know that I am a bit biased towards texture. ‘Burfi” it is going to be. With a very few ingredients, these can be whipped up in no time.

It is just perfect for that little pick me up around mid afternoon. Can also be stored in air tight container in fridge for about a week.

Give it a try friends. I was quite pleased with the result.

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Recipe Made 25 pieces.

Ingredients;

Grated pear                                      2 cups

Milk                                                  1 cup

Milk powder                                     1/2 cup

Desiccated coconut                       1/3 cup

Sugar                                             1/3 cup

Cardamom powder                        1/4 tsp

Ginger powder                               1/4 tsp

Almond slivers, Rose petals            1 tbsp

Candied ginger, goji berry slices    1 tbsp

Candied ginger                             few slivers

Ghee                                           2 tbsps

Method;

Take the grated pear and one table spoon ghee on a pan on medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the milk and milk powder and keep stirring. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the milk almost dries up. Throw in desiccated coconut, sugar another table spoon of ghee, cardamom and ginger powder. Cook  for another few minutes till the whole mixture comes together. Put the gas off.

Collect the mixture on a greased plate.  Use a spatula to make the surface even. Cut in squares. Garnish with nuts, rose petals, candied ginger slivers and berries.  Let it cool completely and put it in the fridge for a few hours.

Enjoy!

Ruskadam : Soft cheese balls with surprise inside

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With the festival season on we can never have too many dessert recipes. Would you agree? I know my blog is a bit dessert heavy, but really this is such a happy outcome!

Ruskadam or Roshkodombo, as we call it in Bengali is a unique dessert. It has a few layers to it, The tongue comes in contact with the grainy exterior, leading to a smooth cheese cover, which opens the door to the final surprise a sweet, juicy, fragrant, coloured, cheese ball.

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Kolkata has sweet shops around every corner. Any happy event be it birthdays, marriages, a child’s first solid meal to graduation celebration, calls for elaborate sweet items. Visiting a friend after ages or even a wedding invitation may have an exquisite collection of sweets or Mishti.

The total absent of sweet shop in my small Prairie town made me more curious towards trying these recipes myself. Some are family recipes. There are some that I have perfected through information available online. This is one such recipe. I was very proud of the outcome. Give it a try friends. You will be so proud of yourself!

Recipe;

Ingredients;

Whole milk                                4 litre

White vinegar                            4 tbsp

Sugar                                        3 cups

Icing sugar                                1 cup

Corn flour                                 2 Tbsps

Milk powder                            1/2 cup, more for dipping

Food colour                             few drops

Rose water                              1/2 tsp

Saffron                                    20 threads

Method;

Make the chhena ( Cheese ):

Take the milk in a heavy bottomed pan on high heat. Bring it to boil and put the gas off. Let it sit for 5 minutes. In a bowl mix the vinegar with same amount of water. Pour this mixture little by little to the milk , until the solids separate and the light green whey is visible. Drain this through a cheese cloth. wash the cheese with cold water then let it drain all the water out. You can either hang the cheese cloth with the cheese in it or cover it with thick kitchen towel.The cheese should be dry.

Collect the cheese on a flat surface and knead it with the palm of your hand, until it can be gathered in a smooth ball with no creases, about seven to eight minutes. Mix the corn flour and knead again for a couple minutes.

Divide the dough into two. Take half the cheese, add the food colour yellow or red and mix evenly, then form smooth balls, I had 24.

Making the syrup 1 :

Take one cup sugar and four cups water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Pour the  above balls a couple at a time., cover and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. The balls will enlarge in size, add hot water time to time to keep the volume same. Put the gas off, collect the balls, discard the syrup.

Making of syrup 2:

In another pan take the rest of the sugar  ( 2 cups ), and one cup of water. Bring it to boil  only till the sugar has melted.  Put the gas off. Add the rose water, saffron threads and the cheese balls. Keep in the fridge for about 8 hours, this causes the syrup to penetrate evenly in the balls, gives a great fragrance and colour. Strain the balls through a strainer so that all the syrup is drained off.

Making of the soft cover layer:

Take the second half of the dough and mix it with icing sugar and milk powder. The mixture should not be sticky. Adjust with more milk powder if needed. Make 24 small balls. Flatten the ball on the palm of your hand, seat one ball, wrap the cheese mixture all around.

Final layer :

In a bowl take another couple table spoon of milk powder. Run the balls on it to get a even coat of milk powder. This gives a grainy texture to the outer layer.

Give your self a pat on the back and enjoy.

 

 

Bajre ki burfi : Pearl millet fudge GF

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Food is strongly tied to emotions, wouldn’t you agree. Strange as it may sound, but food brings back memories some cheerful some sad, reminds one of an event, some recent some from way back when!

Bringing sweets to neighbours is very common, be it sharing a good news in the family or in festive seasons. I feel it is similar to bringing a box of chocolates or sharing a pie here in the west. The type of sweet depended on the season or the festival or it could even be a surprise.

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Growing up, I have vivid memories of our friend bringing these burfis to us on a steel plate covered with a beautiful crochet cover, around this time of the year. Bajra ( Pearl millet ) flour was something we were not familiar with. It is a common staple in the western part of India, having very hot and dry climate. We were very intrigued by this unfamiliar burfi.

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With gluten allergy becoming so common, we are all looking for alternative grains. Bajra is  an anti acid forming food packed with nutrients and antioxidants. I have not used any refined sugar, which makes this burfi very desirable.

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The festive season is on. Give it a try friends like I did on Ganesh Chaturthi.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe, Made about 30 pieces One inch square.

Ingredients;

Bajra flour                                2 cups

Ghee                                      1 cup

Jaggery ( Gur ) powder            1 cup

Poppy seeds                          1 tsp

Slivered almonds                    1 tbsp

Method,

Grease a metal plate about half inch deep.

Take the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Add the Bajra flour. Mix properly and cook on low medium flame till the colour changes slightly about 20 minutes stirring frequently.

Add the jaggery and keep stirring for another 10 minutes. The mixture at this point comes together, releases ghee and looks shiny.

Turn the gas off. Pour this on the greased plate. Use a spatula or the back of a greased steel bowl to make the surface smooth. Sprinkle the poppy seeds and slivered almonds over it to garnish. Make some soft cut on it and let it cool. Separate out the pieces from the cuts made before.

Enjoy guilt free!

Inside Scoop.

Bajre ki atta  and Gur, both are available in any Indian or health food store.

Besan Burfi: Chickpea flour fudge: GF

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IMG_2122I am a big fan of Besan aka chick pea flour. The fact that it has a protein component, always gives me a reason to justify a second helping of sweet! Being gluten free comes handy when you are cooking for a group. Besan is one of those ingredients that can be used to make appetizer, main course, desserts, savoury snacks, you name it!

IMG_2125The Hindu month of “Shravan’ is said to be auspicious. After the scorching heat of the previous months, “Shravan” ushers the monsoon. The parched earth  turns green again, the fertile earth holds new life in her womb. People observe fast, especially on mondays. Fasting always comes with feasting. And why not?

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This recipe takes no time to be ready. Do give it a try and let me know how it goes friends.

Recipe; Makes 20-25 pieces depending on the size.

Ingredients,

Besan                           2 cups

Ghee                            3/4 cup

Sugar                           3/4 cup

Water                           1/2 cup

Cardamom powder      1/2 tsp

Almond and pistachio sliver to garnish

Method,

Take a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Add ghee and besan, roast it by stirring continuously till a slight change in colour, nutty aroma and the ghee gets released from the besan, about 18 minutes. The timing may be influenced by the humidity, type of flour, the heat element of the gas. I would recommend focussing on the appearance of the besan. Put the gas off, Take the pan away from the gas. Keep stirring for a few more minutes, the hot pan can still burn the besan.

In a separate pan take the water and sugar on medium heat. let the sugar melt first and then thicken, for about 12-15 minutes. Add the cardamom powder. When a spoonful of this syrup is let to drop, it does not drop freely. A drop of it when collected in a bowl, and carefully felt between the thumb and fore finger, feels sticky and draws like a thread. Put the gas off.

Very carefully add the besan mixture in instalments to the syrup. Put the gas on low for another minute to let everything come together.

Take a greased metal plate. Pour this mixture on the plate. Garnish with slivered nuts.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Make cuts , whatever size you prefer. Let it sit for another hour and then separate the slices.

 

Mishti Doi: Sweet yoghurt

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DSC_2142Don’t you just  love festivals? Back home , there are no dearth of festivals. This means food and frolic. ‘Shravan” is a very important month in Hindu calender. After the extreme heat comes the monsoons. It is welcomed by all. The poets and artists have all sung praises of monsoon. The  parched earth turns green again. The petrichor is nostalgic.

This is the time we celebrate a few festivals, one of which is a celebration of womanhood. The “Teej”. Similarities are drawn between mother earth and womanhood. Sweets are a must. Although the “Mishti Doi” is not a must have during Teej, but in keeping with my Bengali roots, I thought of having this dessert for Teej.

Unlike back home, where every street corner has a couple sweet shops, we in this little prairie town are not privy to that comfort.

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This lack of availability though has got the creative juices going, and expatriates have come up  with a variety of ways of baking this delicacy at home.

This is how I do it. It works like a charm.

Give it a try, you will not be disappointed friends.

Recipe; Serves six.

Ingredients;

Sweetened condensed milk.          1 tin

Buttermilk                                       twice the above amount.

Chopped pistachios                      To garnish

Method;

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees F.

In a oven proof bowl mix the condensed milk and buttermilk well. This is an important step, if not mixed well, the taste will not be evenly sweet.

Bake for one hour. Take the bowl out and let it cool. Garnish with chopped pistachios. Let it sit in the fridge overnight. Enjoy it next day, Thank me later.