Kumror chhakka : Pumpkin sixer

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“Why is it called a Chhakka , ma?”, asked my ten year old son quite a few summers back. I must say I was caught off guard and did not have a proper answer for him. After all why is it called a ” Chhakka”? Now as we know that Chhakka or sixer is a score, be it in a game of cricket or ludo.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the above games, it is like an ace score, a home run? And why not, in the culinary world the sweet pumpkin with a few choice spices takes this very homey dish to an ” ace” for sure.

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What ever the story, this is like a comfort food in our household. A few pooris and “kumror Chhakka ” can be a Sunday breakfast, or with some rice it is an excellent side.

Give it a try friends. Here is the recipe,

Recipe; Adapted from Bong mom’s cookbook with some changes.

Serves four as a side.

ingredients’

Pumpkin cut in cubed  ( I used frozen )                   2 cups

Potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cube                                1 cup

Kala Chana ( cooked )                                           1/3 cup

Fenugreek seeds                                                  1/2 tsp

Asafoetida ( heeng )                                             1/4 tap

Dry red chillies                                                     2-3

Grated ginger                                                     1 tsp

Cumin powder                                                   1/2 tsp

Coriander powder                                               1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder                                                 1/2 tsp

Green chillies                                                        2-3

Jaggery powder                                                  1 tsp

Ghee                                                                   1/2 tsp

Garam masala                                                     1/4 tsp

Salt to taste

Canola oil                                                            2 Tbsp

Method;

Dry roast the cumin and coriander powder.

Take the canola oil in a wok on medium high heat. Add the fenugreek seeds, heeng and dry red chillies. Saute for about ten seconds, throw in the potatoes. Add turmeric powder and fry till golden. Add the cumin and coriander powder, grated ginger, couple slit green chillies. Sprinkle a bit of water so that the spices do not get burnt.

Add the squash pieces. Saute for a few minutes, add the salt and jaggery. Cover and cook till done. Add the cooked  kala chana. Throw in the ghee and garam masala. Put the gas off. Keep it covered for few minutes.

Enjoy with rice or pooris.

 

 

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!

Sweet Pilaf : Mishti Pulao

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Rice is intertwined with human life as a thread in a fabric. Any important event in ones life is celebrated with either cooked rice or uncooked grains.

Take for example ” Annaprashan”, an event to celebrate a child’s first solid food eating event. This is as big an event as a wedding. Rice is the main course along with other supporting dishes. A new bride is welcomed in her  husband’s family with a potful of rice grain, signifying prosperity for the whole family. “Serving rice” to the extended family is the first ‘token’ chore for a new bride. Blessings from the elders involve a few grains of rice. Puffed paddy grains are sometimes offered to mourner’s during a man’s last journey to the crematorium.

Pilaf or Pulao recipe changes with every geographic location. We in Bengal love it on the sweeter note. This dish goes very well with any main dish. It is a bit heavy on the oil and butter, but celebrations don’t happen every day, does it?

Here is the recipe.

Recipe: Serves 6.

Ingredients;

Basmati Rice                                         3 cups

Cashews                                              1/3 cup

Raisins                                                 1/3 cup

Butter                                                   1/2 stick ( 1/4 cup )

Canola oil                                              1/3 cup

Bay leaves                                            4-5

Cumin seeds                                        1 tsp

Saffron                                                  big pinch

Milk                                                      1/3 cup

Cardamoms                                          5-6 pods

Cloves                                                  6-7

Cinnamon                                             2, 2 inch pieces

Ginger paste                                           2 tbsps

Salt to taste

Sugar                                                    2 Tbsps

Method;

Preheat gas to 400 degrees F.

Soak the saffron in warmed milk. Make a paste from the fresh ginger.

Wash the rice in two changes of water. Take a big saucepan with boiling water. Put the rice in, as soon as it is half done, take it out drain the water.

In another pan take the canola oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the bay leaf, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. Saute gently, as soon as the cumin seeds get a bit of colour add the raisins, wait till they get plump. Add the cashews next, fry till lightly coloured. Add the ginger paste and fry a few minutes. Make sure the spices do not burn, a sprinkle of water can be added now and then. Put the gas off when the raw smell of ginger is gone.

Take an ovenproof casserole. Pour the rice and the above spice mix, spread evenly. Sprinkle the butter on this mixture, add the salt and sugar, cover and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Take the casserole out, add the milk with saffron. We want some grains to remain white. Gently fluff it with a fork. Keep covered in the oven again for another 30 minutes with the gas off.

Give another mix and serve.

The rice grains should be separate. Check the salt and sugar to your liking. Enjoy!

Cilantro Fritters : Dhoney patar bora

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There is no denying of the fact that summer has departed us. The leaves are turning yellow, the ‘Pumpkin spice latte’ is back in stores, and to top it all off there was frost this morning. Flip flops, lawn mowers, barbeques will slowly give way to hats, mitts and snow shovels. This cool weather calls for hot beverages, soups and for me fried food! Ya I know….

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A hot cup of tea needs some crispy fried snacks by its side. This is a match made in heaven. These fritters are best enjoyed piping hot. It can also be made and frozen for later use. Just fry them when you need. I have some ketchup and mayo as dip, use any dip of your choice.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe: Made 13 pieces.

Ingredients;

Whole wheat flour                                     2 cups

Rice flour                                                   1 cup

Poppy seeds                                              1 cup

Chopped cilantro                                         2 cups

Salt to taste

Jaggery                                                         1 tsp

Chilly powder                                                   1 tsp

Asafoetida                                                       1 1/2 tsp

Water as needed

Oil to fry.

Chaat masala                                 1 tbsp

Method;

Mix  the first eight ingredients with water to form a dough. Let it rest for half hour.

Divide it into equal portions. Make a patty about one and half inch diameter.

Take a nonstick pan on medium heat. Shallow fry the patties until golden brown, flip and fry the other side.

Collect them on kitchen towel. Sprinkle some Chaat masala and enjoy.

 

 

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.