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?

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.

Dudh peda aka Milk fudge with Lavender flavour

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I am not sure about you, but I feel I am always short of time. Trust me, I work hard and am quite comfortable at multitasking. Age changes , did I hear? Ahem, let us talk about something else, shall we?

Well the bottom line is I always look for recipes that cut corners in preparation without compromising the taste. This milk Peda is my favourite. If you only have three ingredients and 5 minutes time in hand, you can whip up these beauties. Have you heard the saying, ” neighbour’s envy, owners pride?”

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Try for yourself and thank me later.

Recipe  makes 26-28, depending on the size.

Ingredients;

Milk powder                                           2 cups

Unsalted butter                                       1 stick

Condensed milk ( sweetened )                 1 tin

Cardamom powder                                   1/4 tsp. ( optional )

Dried Lavender                                          1/4 tsp. ( optional )

Method,

Leave the butter on the counter , so that you have it at room temperature.

In a microwave safe bowl, mix the above ingredients very nicely.

Run it in the microwave for one minute. Take it out and give it a nice stir.

Repeat this four more times, so that the total time in microwave is five minutes.

Take it out. As soon as you can handle it , spoon out 1 Tbsp mixtures. Make it into balls. If you have some molds, you can imprint on it. I have used the dried lavender on the centre only, to decorate,

There you have it.

The easiest recipe ever. Enjoy.

 

Murir Moa : Puffed rice balls : GF

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Back in the day when we did not have a variety of ready made snacks available for the kids, mothers and grandmothers used to spend many afternoons painstakingly prepare an assortment of snacks at home.

I specially remember our summer holidays , when we used to visit our grandparents.Our uncles landed with their families as well. For that one month the house used to be super busy with grandkids ranging from preteens to infant. Those were days before cell phones and television. We were busy playing with our cousins during the day. My grand dad was an excellent story teller. He had no problem mesmerizing us grand kids of different ages with his story telling. The youngest one would be on his lap, some sitting on the armrest of his ‘plantation style’ armchair. Few others around his feet. The one thing that was common was we were all wide eyed in rapt attention, trying to follow the ups and downs of the story.

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My grandmother on the other hand, used to be busy in the kitchen. With limited resources she never failed to surprise us with homemade snacks. Walking for days together, with only a few of her belongings to this land from the former “East Pakistan’, as a refugee, hard work came to her naturally. Savoury or sweet she could whip up either in no time.The “Moa” was always there. One by one she moulded the round shape on the palm of her hand, which used to be angry red from the heat.

Many years later, when I had my own family did I realize how much effort it takes, to come up with a big batch of these. “Love” was the main sweetener, no matter how much jaggery we add.

Recipe: Made 15

Ingredients;

Murmura ( Puffed rice )                            3 cups

Ghee                                                        1 Tbsp

Jaggery                                                     1 cup

Method,

Dry roast the Murmura on medium flame for a few minutes only to make it crunchier.

In another pan take the ghee and jaggery on slow flame. I have used powdered jaggery. Let it melt and be frothy, about 11 minutes. Take a drop of this in a bowl of water. If this sets right away, then the jaggery is ready.

Put the gas off. Pour the murmura in the molten jaggery. Mix it nicely such that the murmura is evenly coated.

Wait for this mixture to cool down a bit, so that it can be handled on the palm. I used a pair of silicone gloves, that definitely helped. Take a handful, press on all sides to give a round shape.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy for a couple of weeks.

 

Chochori: Sauteed vegetables

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IMG_1649I remember my teenage daughter ask me one time, what does “Chochori”, mean? Now as we know it is a very homey, dish of sauteed vegetables. Remember the day you clean the fridge? You find the leftover beans, half cauliflower, the eggplant threatening to dry up if not used that day, that is when you start making Chochori.

That is all true. But that still doesn’t account for the name. Well such is the nature of Chochori that it welcomes all kinds of veggies. The firm ones like potatoes, carrots, the medium ones like beans, cauliflowers, soft ones like squashes, eggplants. There are a few must haves though like the stems of the cauliflower, I include celery sticks if I happen to have them. I strongly believe this is where the name comes from, Think about the noise it makes when you chew on these stems…..

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On a serious note, Chochori has a secured a soft spot in the Bengali heart. It is an excellent way of getting the required  quota of vegetable for the day. Be generous with the mustard oil though. After all, the success of Chochori depends heavily on ‘the runny nose” feeling from the  strong  smell of  ‘First pressed” mustard oil.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a side.

Try to have a medley of the firm, softer and very soft veggies.

Potato cut in thick julienne                                   1 cup

Carrots cut similarly                                             1 cup

Cauliflower florets                                                 1 cup

Eggplants cut in julienne                                       1 cup

Squash cut as above                                            1 cup

Cauliflower stem, celery stick cut similar                  1 cup

Mustard oil                                                            4 tbsp

Mustard powder                                                   1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Jaggery                                                               1 tbsp

Five spice                                                             1 tsp

Dry red chilly                                                           1

Turmeric powder                                                     1/2 tsp

Method,

In a microwave safe bowl put the stems and celery and cook for 5 minutes.

In a wok add 2 tbsp mustard oil on high heat. Add the five spice and chilly, saute till it changes colour. Add the firm veggies like potato and carrot, saute for few minutes. Next add the cauliflower florets and stems and beans, cook for few minutes, finally add the eggplant and squash. Add salt, jaggery, turmeric powder, cover and cook till the veggies are done. No water is added, careful that the veggies do not burn, a few sprinkle of water if needed .

When the veggies are all cooked add the mustard powder. Mix everything together. Finish off by adding the 2 tbsp of mustard oil.

Tweak to your taste. This dish gives a lot of leeway, to adjust to your taste.

Goes well with plain white rice.

Note: Five spice a very typical Bengali mixture of equal amounts of Nigella seeds, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard and Fennel seeds.

Mango tart with Cardamom flavour : Vegan option

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When you are done making Aam panna, Aam ras, Aam Chutney, Aam Shondesh, ( mango drink, puree, chutney, fudge) or even popping the king of fruit in your mouth and wondering what else can be done? Enter Mango tart.

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Fusion recipe? You bet! I have retained some Indian flavours by using cardamom and Parle G base. For the unfamiliars, Parle G is a very popular cookie back home that we all grew up with. You can’t have the morning cup of tea without a couple of these ‘Biscuits’ as we referred them in India. I have been told that this cookie company is closing doors after 100 years. Now that makes it even more special, wouldn’t you agree?

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If you want to show off a bit, this is for you. Very little effort and jaw dropping looks. Feel free to decorate your way. These are the fruits I had at hand, and made use of them.

Recipe;

Cashew butter can replace the unsalted butter, biscuit can be substituted with nut powder to make it vegan friendly.

Ingredients;

Base:

Parle G biscuits                                            3 Packets

Mejdool dates, pitted                                      5

Unsalted butter                                              1/3 cup

Salt ( skip if using salted butter )                       a pinch

Filling

Mango pieces                                                2 cups

Cashew                                                          2 cups

Cardamom powder                                         1/8 tsp

Maple syrup                                                  2 tbsp ( or to taste )

Corn Starch                                                  1 Tbsp

Raspberries, Cape gooseberries,  pomegranate, nuts to garnish

Method;

Soak the cashews the night before, rinse them and grind them to powder. Collect the powder in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 330 degrees F.

In a food processor put in the cookies and grind them to a powder. Add the dates, salt, butter and blend again until a sticky dough forms. Press this mixture firmly into a greased  7 inch ( I measured mine )  tart pan with removable bottom. Poke some holes with a fork into the crust, bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.

Blend the mangoes into a puree.

Blend the cashews into a paste.

In a bowl mix the mango puree, cashew paste and all other ingredients listed under filling. Transfer this mixture over the tart  base. Tape to eliminate any air bubbles.

Throw this inside the freezer overnight.

Remove the tart from the freezer about half hour before serving, decorate with whatever fresh fruits you have in hand.

Serve and enjoy.

 

 

 

Kolar bora: Sweet Banana fritters

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There are some foods which take you directly to the “bygone” days. For those of you that are born in circa “Post cell phone”, wont be able to relate to the story.

You see, in those times, evenings were meant to go outside and play games with ‘real’ friends. No video games, netflix, mobile, meant you had to play games involving real physical activities. When the street light went on, it was time to stop whatever you were doing and head home.

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Rain was the only time you were allowed to stay indoors with friends. Rain also meant there would be some fried food at home. There is this connection between rain and fried food, that only people from Bengal would agree. These fritters remind me of evenings such as those, sitting down with friends, giggling for no reason at all and popping these in mouth.

Try it out friends. Friendly warning, it is really hard to stop after a couple. Please factor this in while planning.

Recipe: Enough for 8 people

I have adapted the recipe from “A homemaker’s diary”, with minor changes.  Check her wonderful blog,

Ingredients;

Overripe bananas                                         6

Semolina                                                     1 cup

All purpose flour                                            11/2 cup

Rice flour                                                       2/3 cup

Aniseeds coarsely grounded                           2 tbsps

Sugar                                                            1 cup

Baking soda                                                   2/3 tsp

Salt                                                                 2/3 tsp

Canola oil for frying.

Method;

Dry roast the semolina till lightly coloured.  Put the gas off. Add 2 cups water , stir and let it sit for 15 minutes. Add the APF, rice flour, sugar, aniseeds, salt. Mix some water to make a batter, The consistency should be that of a cake batter. Add the baking powder just before frying.

Heat oil, about 2 inces deep in a pan on medium heat. Drop a tablespoon of batter in the oil, fry till both sides are dark brown.

Collect them on kitchen towel. On cooling, sprinkle some icing sugar on top.

Enjoy!