Brown sugar and Cardamom Shortbread cookies

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Just as vanilla is the preferred flavour in western snacks or desserts, Cardamom is by far the most popular flavour in Indian sweets. When this  flavour that I have grown up with, finds its way to a western dessert or snack, it definitely catches my attention.

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Shortbread cookies are much sought after any time of year, come Christmas time this definitely takes a centre stage. With a modest ingredient list and no serious proficiency needed these cookies are a ‘ must do ” for novice bakers like me.

Give this unique flavour a try. Let me know how it turned out.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe; Makes 15-18 depending on the size. Recipe was adapted from “Nordic ware”.

Ingredients;

Salted butter at room temperature                                     1 cup

All purpose flour                                                                 21/4 cup

Dark brown sugar                                                              1/2 cup

Ground cardamom                                                             1/2 tsp

 

Cardamom sugar mixture;

Granulated sugar                                                                   1/4 cup

Ground cardamom                                                                 1/2 tsp

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the granulated sugar and cardamom powder to form a uniform mixture and set aside.

In a stand mixture cream together brown sugar and butter for a couple minutes.

In another bowl mix the cardamom powder and flour. Slowly. incorporate flour mixture into the dough. As soon as this mixture comes together, collect the dough in a bowl, divide into two halves, shape into discs, cover with cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

When ready take about two tablespoon of the dough and form balls. Roll this in the cardamom sugar mixture and flatten them into discs. you can use any cookie cutter of your choice to give them your desired form. If using a rubber stamp like I have done here, lightly dust the stamp with icing sugar, press the stamp down on the disc, to release the stamp rock it gently sideways.

Place the stamped cookies on a Sil pat lined baking tray 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 minutes or til the edges turn golden. Allow them to cool

Notes;

If the dough feels too dry use a couple tea spoons of milk to get a play dough consistency. A little bit of flour can be added if the dough is too sticky.

Amygdalota : Greek Almond cookies : GF : Egg free option

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Amygdalota. What lota? I know what you are thinking. I can explain…

Did you know “Amygdala” is an almond shaped area in the human brain that is involved with emotion and decision making.

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Amygdalota are Greek almond cookies. Almond trees are present everywhere in Greece. Almond signifies happiness and prosperity and hence these are integral in important events in Greek lives like weddings or baptisms.

If we try and add the above two, it is clear that these cookies and happiness are inseparable. The truth can only be verified once you try these beauties. For the time being take my word. Thank me later.

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Mildly crispy, sweet with a flavour of fresh orange zest , all you need is a cup of espresso by the side.

Recipe ; Made 3 dozen. Recipe based from “Flavor the moments “: with some changes.

Ingredients.

Almond flour                        3 cups

Granulated sugar                 3/4 cup

Orange zest                         1 tbsp

Salt                                     1/4 tsp

Egg whites                           From 3 eggs (  If skipping egg, Aquqfaba 1/4 cup )

Vanilla extract                     1 tsp

Almond slices                      1 cup

Method;

Put the oven on at 350 F

Mix the almond flour, salt, orange zest in a bowl. Keep aside.

In a stand mixer take the egg whites or Aquafaba if using, add the sugar and vanilla. Mix in high speed till soft peaks form. Add the flour mixture in instalments. Use a spatula to let them all come together. Take a tablespoon measure of this mixture, form a ball between the palm of your hand. Press to form a disc, roll it in the almond slices.

Put these on a parchment paper lined baking tray.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or till the edges turn slightly brown.

Take them out of the oven, put these on a wire rack to cool completely.

Try them with a cup of strong hot cup of coffee.

Notes:

Aquafaba is the liquid from the chick pea can.

Anise seed sugar cookies

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“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’.

It may have been a  2020, lock down was the new norm, travel was virtual, gift exchanges kerbside, but, oh well, it is that time of the year. Time to slow down, watch the old favourite Christmas movies even after you know the dialogues by heart, light the fire place and enjoy the snow clad landscape outside while getting some baking done.

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Being a novice baker I stick to a variety of cookie recipes. Anise seed is quite common ingredient in Indian cuisine. It can be used as a mouth freshener or even a home remedy to counter nausea.

No wonder I was drawn to this recipe from “The Beach house kitchen”. The cookies turned out crisp, not overly sweet and the coarsely ground anise seeds sometimes lingered in the mouth for a last bite releasing that oh so wonderful liquorice taste.

Recipe; Adapted from ” The beach house kitchen “

Ingredients; Made 42  pieces, including the large and small ones.

 All purpose flour                                                       23/4 cup

Crushed anise seed                                                    1 Tbsp

Baking powder                                                            2 tsp

Unsalted butter                                                           1 cup

Granulated sugar                                                         1 cup

Vanilla extract                                                               1 tsp

Egg ( Fake egg, see notes below )                                  1 large

Sanding and icing sugar                                             As needed to decorate.

Method

Turn the oven at 350 degrees F

Take the flour. Mix the baking powder and coarsely ground anise seeds.

In a stand mixer, take the butter at room temperature and add the sugar. Mix till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on high. Add the egg and vanilla extract, mix for another minute.

Turn the speed low and add the flour mixture in a couple instalments. Turn the mixer off as soon as the dough comes together.

Take it out on a work surface, divide in two halves, cover with cling film until ready to use. Take the first half on a floured surface, cover the dough with a wax paper and roll out to one fourth inch thickness. Use a three inch fluted cookie cutter for the outer circle and a one and half inch cutter for the inner circle. Carefully lift them up to a Sil pat lined baking sheet. Decorate with sanding sugar, I have used green and red.

Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, till the sides just start to brown.

Collect them on a wire rack. Sprinkle some extra icing sugar on top

Enjoy.

Note:

One fake egg :                    Mix together  2 Tbsp water, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp canola or any vegetable oil.

 

Amritsari wadiyan aloo subzi ; Potatoes with dried lentil dumplings curry

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Lentils are a very important source of proteins for the vegetarians. They can be cooked in a myriad of ways starting from appetizers , main course, side dish, or desserts. Each part of the country has their own style of preparing them.

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“Wadis” are ground lentils, that are spiced, made into balls and sun dried. They are then stored in air tight containers for a long period of time. The time of the year when the vegetables are scarce, or a day when the grocery is yet to be done, these come as saviours. The town of Amritsar in Punjab is associated with making these Wadis, hence the name.

Onion and garlic are an integral part of the recipe. I have modified it to a no onion garlic recipe, using only ginger and tomatoes.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe; Serves four as main or six as side dish.

Ingredients;

Wadis ( Store bought )                                8-10

Potatoes cut in wedges                              2 cups

Heeng ( asafoetida )                                   1/4 tsp

Jeera ( Cumin seeds )                                1 tsp

Canola oil                                                  4 Tbsp

Ginger puree                                             2 tbsps

Tomato puree                                            4 Tbsps

Turmeric powder                                        1/2 tsp

Paprika                                                     1 tsp

Red chilli powder                                      1/2 tsp

Jeera powder                                            1 tsp

Salt                                                            to taste

Cilantro  ( chopped )                                    1 Tbsp

Method;

Take 2 tbsp of canola oil in a non stick pan on medium high heat. Add the wadis. Fry, changing sides till they get a reddish colour. Collect them on kitchen towel and keep aside.

Take the rest of the oil in the pan on medium heat, add the heeng and jeera seeds, saute for half a minute or till the seeds change to slightly darker colour.

Add the potatoes, turmeric powder, salt. Cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done. Add the ginger paste, saute for a couple minutes, add the chilli powder, paprika, jeera powder and some water. Cook, stirring often so that the spices do not catch the bottom of the pan. When you see the oil leaving the spices add the tomato puree, the wadis and two cups of water. Let it all come together, the wadis absorb lot of water, so depending upon how much gravy you desire, add water. Using the spatula break the wadis into smaller pieces which is easy to do now. Check to see if the potatoes are done, adjust salt if needed. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve it with a side of either rice or roti.

Enjoy.

Green beans dhokli ; Beans with chick pea flour pasta : GF option

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I love highlighting the amazing array of vegetarian dishes that are available in Indian cuisine. Most of them are gluten free too.

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“Dhokli’ is a small pasta made from chick pea flour. I have added a little bit of whole wheat flour, but this can easily be replaced by millet or other gluten free flour.

I am quite new to this dish which comes from the far western state of Gujrat. Traditionally  this is done with cluster beans, I have replaced it with french beans. Also the pastas are usually shaped as small discs. I had my malloreddu maker from my Rome visit, which I thought of putting to good use.

This can be an excellent side dish, either with roti or rice. With a beautiful balance between sweet, sour and salty this dish has a great flavour. The fiery red colour comes from the paprika and not red chillies.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a side dish.

Ingredients

Beans, cut in 1 inch pieces                               3 cups

Tomatoes                                                         3, pureed

Canola oil                                                         3. tbsp

Asafoetida                                                       1/2 tsp

Garllic cloves                                                    4-5

Ajwain ( carrom seeds )                                     1/2 tsp

Curry leaves                                                      6-7

Ghee                                                                   1 Tbsp

Jaggery                                                               1 tsp

Sev to garnish                                                      1 Tbsp

For the dhokli;

Chick pea flour              1 cup

Whole wheat flour                   1 tbsp

Turmeric powder                      1/4 tsp

Heeng ( asafoetida )                 1/4 tsp

Red chliiy powder                      1/2 tsp

Salt                                             1/2 tsp or to taste

Kasuri methi                                1/2 tbsp

Baking soda                                  1 pinch

Lemon juice                                   1 tsp

Oil                                                   1/2 tsp

Warm water                                       as needed

Jaggery powder                             1/2 tsp

Method:

Mix all the ingredients under Dhokli together to form a dough. brush with a bit of oil. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

I have used frozen beans, Take a pan of hot water, bring it to boil on high heat. Throw the beans in it, cook for about 7-8 minutes. Take the beans out of the water and soak them in ice cold water.

Take the above dough, make small pieces about 1 tsp full of dough and make them into disc. I gave this fancy shape, just because.

Take a deep bottomed pan, add the oil, when it heats up, throw in heeng, stir for a few seconds till a nutty aroma comes out, add the curry leaves, ajwain, turmeric powder, paprika crushed garlic, cumin and coriander powder. Keep stirring for about 5-6 minutes over medium flame, if needed sprinkle some water. Add 2 cups of hot water and the dhoklis. Add the salt, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. Add the tomato puree, jaggery powder.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes.Put the gas off. Add the ghee.

Garnish with sev ( available in Indian grocery store, Walmart, Superstore).

Enjoy with rotis or rice.

 

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!