Atte gur ki Thekuye; Whole wheat flour and jaggery cookies; for Chhat Puja. ( Offerings for Sun God )

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Sun is the most powerful of all cosmic bodies. Our whole existence revolves around sun. Our ancestors realized very early on that we would be nowhere without the sun. Hence celebrating ‘Sun’ is important in our lives. “Chhat Pooja ” a celebration of Sun.

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Thekuas are the sweets associated with “Chhat pooja”. There are many ways of whipping up these beauties. I have a recipe with All purpose flour and sugar, here. These ones are the healthier version using Whole wheat flour and jaggery.

Give it a try, it stores very well. Excellent for travel or for a student in the dorm!

Recipe : made 25 pieces

Ingredients;

Wholewheat flour ( Attta )                                      2 cups

Gur ( Jaggery )                                                    1 cup

Grated coconut                                                   1/2 cup

Cardamom powder                                             1/4 tsp

Ghee                                                                 3 tbsps

Saunf ( aniseed )                                                1 tbsp

Canola oil for frying

Method;

Take the jaggery and half cup water on medium flame, let it melt. Turn the gas off. Let the mixture cool completely. Set aside.

Take the  flour, ghee and cardamom powder in a bowl. Mix. Rub the ghee and flour with both your hands, so that the flour grains are coated with ghee. Take a bit of this mixture and press tight, it should hold like a ball. If not add a bit more ghee.

Now add the aniseeds, jaggery syrup, a little bit at a time, to form a tight dough. Let it rest covered for half hour.

Divide the dough into a tablespoon amount to form balls, flatten it like a disc. If you have the “Thekua” mold press the disc on it. If you do not have the mold use the back of the glass or end of the fork to imprint a design.

Deep fry in canola oil, on low to medium heat. When one side gets light brown colour, very gently flip it over, fry the other side. It took about 15 minutes to fry a batch.

Collect them on kitchen towel. Let it stand on cooling rack.

It can be stored in air tight container for about two weeks.

Enjoy!

Lauki ki burfi : Bottle gourd fudge for Diwali

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Wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful Diwali.

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This has been such a difficult year for everyone. It will be a very low key affair.

I leave you with this very easy recipe.

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Recipe; 25 bite size piece

Ingredients,

Freshly grated and squeezed bottle gourd                     1 cup

Mawa ( Milk Solids )                                                      1 cup

Ground nuts ( cashew, pistachio, almonds)                    1 cup

Ghee                                                                            3 tbsp

Condensed milk                                                            3/4 cup ( to taste )

Cardamom powder                                                       1 tsp

Green food colour ( optional )                                        4-5 drops

Silver leaf and rose petals                                              To garnish

Method;

Take freshly grated bottle gourd ,Lauki, Squeeze all the water out.

Grind cashew, pistachio and almonds to get a one cup full of the powder.

Mawa is available in Indian grocery store, grate it , if unavailable miik powder can be substituted.

Take a non stick pan on medium heat, add 2 tbsp of ghee. Once it melts, add the lauki, crank the heat down to medium low, Add the Mawa, stir so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. The lauki gets cooked. Throw in the nut powder, condensed milk, cardamom powder and food colour. Mix them all together. Add the last Tbsp of ghee, keep stirring. The moisture evaporates and the mixture leaves the side of the pan and slowly comes together, about 25 minutes. Switch the gas off.

Take a greased plate. Transfer the mixture. Pat the surface smooth and leave it to set for two hours. Transfer the silver leaf if using on top. Cut in pieces, and garnish with rose petals or more nuts.

Enjoy!

Bhapa shondesh ( Steamed milk fudge ) for Remembrance day

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The poppy is associated with Remembrance day. Poppies were the flowers that grew in the battlefields after the World War was over, hence poppies became a symbol to remember those who have lost loved ones because of wars.There is no poppy here, but the deep red colour of the Virginia creeper leaves, is definitely the closest I have with me today to mark the very symbolic day.

The agreement that ended the World War 1, was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Canadians pause to to honour and remember the men and women who served and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace.

“Lest we forget” is a term synonymous to “We will remember them”. Written much before the World War this poem by Rudyard Kipling reminds us to put our trust in God. I leave you with a few lines from this beautiful poem.

“The tumult and the shouting dies;

The Captains and the Kings depart:

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget….”

Shondesh is a very popular sweet back home, a must in any important event. This is a cheat’s recipe, comes together in no time. Give it a try friends.

Recipe:

Ingredients

Ricotta cheese                     2 cups

Icing sugar                           1/3 cup

Saffron strands                     15-20

Cardamom powder                1 tsp

Method

Strain the cheese to get rid of excess water. Mix the sugar and blend till smooth. I used a hand blender.

Grease a pyrex rectangular pot . Transfer this mixture. Put some saffron strands on top. Cover and steam for 30 minutes on medium heat.

Allow to cool. Put in in fridge for 30 minutes. cut in pieces. Enjoy!

Chandrapuli : Moon cake

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All good things come to an end. The nine days of feasting, fasting, fun and festivities is done for the year.

……..The last day is very special for there is a grand send off planned for the goddess. I see my mum putting on the white sari with red border, arranging a beautiful plate with sweets, flower, betel leaf, bangles and other things which I am not sure of. “Hurry up, or we shall be late” she reminds me.

Not sure what this all meant, but not ready to forgo the fun either I loose no time in putting on my dress. Later I see My mum with her friends touch the sweets to the goddess’s mouth, as if feeding her, then apply Sindur ( red powder, the married women apply on their hair parting ).

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We had so much sweets, then amidst loud uluation and blowing of the conch shell the beautiful goddess and her family were taken away to be immersed in the river.

I must have been sulking the later part of the day, realizing that the fun was over and it would soon be time to get serious with the school work. “Mon kharap lagche?” Are you sad, my mum checks on me. “She ain’t gone anywhere, she is in your heart!” she reassures me. You should have seen my scrunched up face, “What, in my heart?”, as if saying to her, you know nothing, Ma!

………. Today when I think back, I realize how powerful those words were. ‘She is in your heart’. Yes , of course.

Recipe: Made 26 pieces

Ingredients,

Unsweetened fine grated coconut                                         1 cup

Khoa ( milk solids )                                                                1 cup

Patali gur ( Jaggery )                                                             3/4 cup

Granulated sugar                                                                  1/4 cup

Milk                                                                                     1/3 cup

Milk powder                                                                        1/3 cup

Cardamom powder                                                             1/4 tsp

Ghee                                                                                  2 tbsps

Raisins and cashew pieces to garnish

Method,

Mix the grated coconut with the milk and set aside.

Take a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat, add the ghee, wait for it to melt and crank the heat down to medium low. Now add the coconut mixture, khoa, sugar, milk powder, cardamom powder and jaggery. Give it a nice stir. Keep stirring often, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan, till it forms  dough about 30 minutes.

Turn the gas off. Let it stand for about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate , Take about 3/4 th tbsp of this mixture to form about 26 balls.  If you have molds, grease them, put a raisin and some cashew pieces, press the ball into it making sure it is flowing  evenly and carefully remove them. If you do not have the molds you can shape them like half moon with your hand and decorate.

Enjoy!

Beet and Milk peda

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The snow has been coming down all day, is it here to stay or will it melt is the conversations we are having around here. The ground  is covered with a blanket of snow, the deciduous trees standing with bare branches, almost like the witches broom! Together they make a black and white theme of the landscape.

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My mind wanders off to a very far off land, a little town in India, many many years back, where I grew up. These were special days , the feminine form of the divine celebrated over a period of nine days. Today being Saptami, or the seventh night of Durga pooja. Donning new clothings and visiting the  venue ( Pandal ) to be with our friends, offering flowers,  (Anjali ), to goddess Durga, enjoying the feast thereafter, and no school works left us kids in a tizzy. What more could a kid ask for?

Sweets are an integral part of the offering made to the goddess, which becomes blessed, ( Prasad ), and then distributed between the devotees.

I have added some beet puree here to make these lovely pedas, gaining some great colour and also decreasing the amount of refined sugar in the recipe, making it a healthier version of the traditional dessert.

Give it a try friends, I bet it will be among your favourites desserts.

Recipe ;  Made about 20 pieces depending on size.

Ingredients;

Milk powder                                        2 cups

Unsalted butter                                   1 stick

Condensed milk                                  3/4 tin ( or full if you prefer sweeter )

Beet puree                                         1/2 cup

Red colour                                         2 drops ( optional )

Cardamom powder                            1 tsp

Method;

Take two medium sized beets, boil, skin and make a puree. Strain the puree through a strainer. Keep aside. Make sure the butter is at room temperature and cut it in small pieces.

In a microwavable bowl add the milk powder, butter pieces, condensed milk , beet puree and food colour if using. Mix everything thoroughly. Microwave the bowl for 5 minutes, taking the bowl out and giving it a good stir after every minute. Add the cardamom powder during the last minute. Carefully try to form a small ball to see if it binds well. If not make need a minute or two more.

Let the bowl sit on the counter for couple minutes. Grease a tablespoon. Take a spoonful of this mixture and if safe to handle,  form a round ball. Press the ball to form a disc. Peda is ready. You can get creative by using the back of a glass  or put it in a mold to get a design imprinted.

Enjoy!

 

 

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!