Chhena poda: Roast cheese cake

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Would you be surprised if I tell you that I have never tasted this dessert before. True. The fact that it comes from the province of Orissa, famous for the temple of Lord Jagannath, have always made me curious. I checked a few recipes and gave it a try.

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Traditionally milk is curdled to make the cheese ( chhena), which is then used to make the sweet. I tried it out with Ricotta cheese which is very close to chhena ( chena), in its consistency.

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The fact that the cheese is already available ready made makes this dessert very easy in terms of the time needed. Just assemble all the ingredients and throw it in the oven.

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The result is nothing less than spectacular. Give it a try friends, you may be hooked!

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Recipe: Followed recipe from Saltspicemore.com with some changes

Ingredients;

Ricotta cheese                                           2 cups

Sugar                                                         1 cup

Semolina                                                    4 Tbsp

Ghee                                                         2  Tbsp

Baking powder                                          1/2 tsp

Cardamom powder                                      1/4 tsp

Raisins                                                       1 tbsp

Pistachio slivers                                        1 tbsp

Almond slices                                           1 tbsp

Cashew pieces                                        1 tbsp

Water                                                       2 Tbsp

Method;

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F

In a bowl mix the Cheese, Semolina, Sugar, baking powder, raisins, nuts, ghee nicely. Add a few tbps water bring it to a cake batter consistency. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

Grease the inside of a cake pan and line with a parchment paper. Pour the batter. Bake at 350 degree F preheated oven for 50 minutes, crank up the temperature to 360 degrees for the last twenty minutes..
A tooth pick inserted should come out clean.

Put the oven off.

Take the cake out of the oven then out of the pan. Divide in pieces and enjoy.

Narkel Pakon Pitha ; Coconut and milk cake

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Pithas can be grouped under a dessert category which uses the newly harvested rice or the date palm jaggery. Winter end is the time when these ingredients are available. The ladies of the house usually remain busy whipping up a variety of desserts.

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Small wooden molds are available designed in folk tradition, like flower, conch shell, fish etc items that are abundant in nature. This takes ‘making Pithas’ to a folk art I’d say. In the absence of these delicate molds one can improvise use the back of a glass, cookie cutter or any other design at hand.

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I have used a flower motif here.

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This dessert can be made into a crispy version by adding the sugar into the ingredient before frying or a syrup dunked one by making a sugar syrup and dip them in it for a bit. Some like it crispy others prefer the melt in the mouth version. Take your pick.

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Recipe; Made 18 using 1 tbsp portion each

Ingredients:

Rice flour                                           1 cup

Ground coconut                                1 cup

Milk                                                   1 cup

Cardamom powder                            1/4 tsp

Sugar                                                 1 cup

Water                                                 2 cups

Method;

Make a sugar syrup with the above measurement. The sugar should just melt completely in the water. It doesn’t have to be thick.

Take a saucepan on high heat, add the milk. As soon as it is hot add the coconut powder, cover and cook till it comes to a boil. Crank the heat down. Add the rice flour and give it a nice mix. Throw in the cardamom powder, put the gas off and let it sit that way for 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a plate. Knead it into a smooth dough when it still is hot but can be handled. Divide into 18 small portion. Use a mold if you have or shape it as you want and fry them in medium heat till both sides have a light brown colour.

If you are going for the crispy version add about half cup sugar in the dough before frying.

The melt in the mouth version would require these to be dipped in the syrup for 15 minutes. Take them out of the syrup and collect them on a serving plate.

 

Whole green lentil fritters: Huri moong dal ke Pakode

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IMG_1143Friends not sure about you but the lockdown is making my cloths shrink! True storey. There is a limit of doing laundry, arranging the pantry, cleaning the house.

I am on a overdrive of cooking and trying new recipes or perfecting an old one.

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Although deep fried but the main ingredient in these pakodas are whole green lentil. I am almost considering it a healthy food under the circumstances. I mean I need to be sane too while home bound for two weeks now. The future seems to be uncertain too.

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With netflix on a cup of hot tea these are just the snack you need. Crispy on the outside and soft inside. You can thank me later.

I had ground lentil powder at home, that I used. It can also be done by soaking yellow moong dal for and hour, drain the water then grind it. Keep a Tbsp of soaked unground dal separately to be added to the batter.

Recipe:

Ingredients;

Ground green lentil powder                                         11/2 cup

Skinless moong dal                                                    1 Tbsp

Chopped  green onion                                                 3/4 cup

Rice flour                                                                     2 Tbsps

Cilantro                                                                        4 Tbsps

Green chillies                                                                4 ( optional )

Coriander seeds                                                            2 Tbsps

Red chilli powder                                                            1/2 tsp

Baking powder                                                                1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

Method;

Soak the skinless moong dal for an hour.

Take all the ingredient except the oil for frying in a bowl. Add water little by little to form a thick batter. Rest for 10 minutes.

Take a wok and fill it with cooking oil about one and half inch deep on high heat. When the oil is hot crank the temperature down to medium. Take a teaspoon of mixture and carefully put in the oil. Wait for a few minutes and then turn them. Cook till they are light brown in colour. Collect them on kitchen towel.

Enjoy with your choice of dip, I had tomato ketchup at home, which is what I served them with.

Enjoy!

Eggless easter bunny sugar cookies

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IMG_1489Lockdown or no lockdown, we can”t do without some Easter treats can we? I tried these eggless bunny cookies.

IMG_1476Super easy to assemble specially for novice bakers like me. Maybe the kids could not go out of the house for some easter egg hunt but these fun bunnies are sure to bring joy to the little souls.

IMG_1495Friends do try this recipe and please leave a comment here to tell me how it turned out. Hope you had a fun easter under these circumstances.

Recipe: Depends on the size of the cookie cutter.

Ingredients;

All purpose flour                                                11/2 cup

Baking powder                                                  1/4 tsp

Pinch of salt

Sugar                                                                 1/2 cup

Softened cream cheese                                      4 oz

Softened butter                                                   1/3 cup and 2 tsps

Vanilla extract                                                      1 tsp

For the glaze:

Icing sugar                                                            1 cup

Corn syrup                                                             2 tsps

Water                                                                     3 tsps

Lemon juice                                                            1/2 tsps

Method:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder.

Take the butter and sugar in the stand mixer, run it in medium speed for 3 minutes till the butter is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and cream cheese. Run the mixer again for another 2 minutes.

Bring the speed down to low and add the flour in instalments. Wait till the dough comes together. Gather it on the counter top and divide it in two disc. Cover with cling wrap and let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

Take one disc out. Roll it between a two layer of floured butter paper to an even thickness of one eighth inch. Use floured cookie cutters. Lift the cookies using a floured spatula on to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Throw in the fridge for another half hour.

Use the scraps to roll again and cut out a few more cookies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are slightly browned. Take them out of the oven and cool them on a wire rack.

The glaze:

In a grease free bowl take the icing sugar, corn syrup and water. Mix gently. Vigorous mixing will incorporate air which is not desirable. If it is too thick add little water if too thin add some sugar. Add the lemon juice. Divide this into two groups, add a drop of food colour of your choice. Dip the cookies face down in the glaze, break down any air bubbles with a tooth pick.

Let them dry.

Enjoy with your children.

Gatte ke subzi : Vegetarian sausage curry; GF

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IMG_1451Rajasthan in India is a province which has desert like climate. With very little rainfall, there is a scarcity of fresh produce. The local cuisine has evolved around it, relying less on vegetables, but managing the protein etc intake from alternative sources.

IMG_1442“Gatte  ke Subzi” is one such special dish from Rajasthan. Chick pea flour is kneaded with a variesty of spices into these locks, which are then boiled and fried gently.

IMG_1443These are made into a curry, which can be enjoyed either with piping hot rice or handmade rotis or flatbrads.

IMG_1445I must admit I am fairly new to this curry, was introduced to this only in my adult life. Look at the versatility of the use of legume and beans in Indian cooking. Not only are they used to make Dals, or salads, but grind them in powder, make them in “Gatte”, or shape them round to make sun dried :Vadi:, or even roll them paper thin into Papad:. The possibilities are endless.

IMG_1457Recipe: Serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients;

For the Gatta (Sausage ),

Besan ( chick pea flour )                                              1cup

Cumin seeds                                                               1/2 tsp

Aniseeds ( saunf )                                                         1/4 tsp

Carom seeds ( ajwain )                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander ( dhania ) seeds                                            1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Red chiily powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Salt                                                                                 1 tsp

Ghee                                                                               1 tbsp

Oil                                                                                     1 tbsp

Water                                                                                 2 tbsp

Yoghurt                                                                              3 tbsp

For the gravy;

Cumin seeds                                                                   1 tsp

asafoetida ( heeng )                                                          1/4 tsp

Dried red chilly                                                                  2

Ginger grated                                                                    1 tsp

Tomato                                                                              2, made into puree

Turmeric powder                                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder                                                               11/2 tsp

Red chillly powder                                                              1 tsp

Yoghurt                                                                              2 Tbsp

Kasuri methi ( dried fenugreek leaves )                               1 tbsp

Cilantro                                                                             1 tsp

Method:

For the Gatte,

Coarse grind the seeds. In a bowl take the besan, add the crushed seeds, all the powders as listed, ghee, salt, oil and yoghurt. Mix with greased hands then add water little by little to make it into a nice dough. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Knead a few more times with greased hand and cut in four balls. Shape each one into cylinders, like in the picture above, about 4 inches long.

In a sauce pan bring a litre of water to a rolling boil. Add the locks one by one.  Let it cook for 10-12 minutes. these will rise up and have blisters on its skin. Put the gas off. Collect these, let it cool. Cut them in half inch pieces and fry them in very hot oil for about two minutes. Collect on kitchen towel. Save the boiled water for gravy.

For the gravy,

Take 2 tbsp oil in a pan on high heat. Add the dry chilly, cumin seeds and heeng, saute till the cumin seeds get a light colour. Add the ginger paste, saute for another minute. Add the tomato puree, turmeric, red chilly powder, coriander powder and add about 2 tbsp of the saved boiled water from before. Crank the heat down to medium high and keep stirring until all the water evaporates. Bring the heat down to low now. Add the whisked yoghurt and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the saved boiled water , salt and the fried “Gatte”pieces. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with Kasuri methi and cilantro.

Serve with rice or roti.

I feel we should be able to freeze the fried Gatte pieces. This will give a head start for the day of, cook the gravy and throw these in and bring it to boil.

 

Sabudana khichri : Tapioca pearls khichri; GF

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Raise your hands if this situation rings a bell to you. It is a festive day, mum is fasting and asks help tp prepare the food  to be had after the fast is broken. Not ready to give her company with fasting but really excited to dream about the food that will be available later. I really hope there are some of you with me on this. I feel so guilty to even think about it now.

Sabudana is actually set in round molds in factories. It is extracted from the root of Tapioca plant. As it is not a grain, it is a recommended food after fasting.

Feast or no feast it is a staple breakfast in many households. Once you start it is hard to stop. It is a carb bomb, so having it as breakfast gives one enough time to burn it out.

Have a happy Navaratri. Pray Mata rani brings peace and happiness to the world.

Recipe: Serves 4 as a snack.

Ingredients;

Sabudana ( Tapioca pearls )                                                    2 cups

Peanuts                                                                                  3/4 cup

Cooking oil                                                                             3 Tbsp

Cumin seeds                                                                          11/2 tsp

Green chilly slices ( optional )                                                   2 tsp

Potatoes cut in small cubes                                                     3/4 cup

Jaggery powder                                                                      11/2 tsp

Lemon juice                                                                             1 tbsp

Cilantro leaves                                                                          1/2 cup

Pomegranate seeds ( optional )                                                 1 tbsp

Salt. to taste

Method;

Wash the Sabudana in a few changes of water, rubbing the pearls with hand. This ensures that the extra starch is gone, making the khichri where the pearls stand alone and are not clumped together. Leave it soaked for about 5 hours. I had these giant sized pearls, I soaked them for 24 hours.

Drain the water off completely, rest them on a kitchen towel. Dry roast the peanuts and keep aside.

Take a non stick wok on medium high heat. Add the oil, wait till it is hot reduce the heat to medium and add the cumin seeds and green chilly slices if using. Stir till the cumins get a bit darker, add the potato pieces, turn the gas low, cover and cook till they are done. Add the Sabudana, peanuts, salt, jaggery and mix nicely. The Sabudana will shine like pearls. Add the lemon juice and put the gas off. Garnish with cilantro and pomegranate seeds.

The khichri is ready. Enjoy!

Skinless moong beans with bottle gourd: Moong dal with lauki

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IMG_1269In a matter of weeks, the world has turned upside down. Who would have thought that we would witness this pandemic first hand. Countries are in lockdown, social distancing is the key word of late.

We are all mindful of the food we cook for our family. Something that can be put together easily without pinching the pocket, that will be healthy and will mostly use pantry staples.

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Dal aka lentils or beans are a must in any Indian pantry. These are rich in proteins, the skin on ones are extra high in fibre, not mega pricey, making them a staple food for the masses.

There are innumerable ways to cook Dal. It could be spicy or bland, sweetish or sweet and sour. Throw in some seasonal vegetables, it can be an almost one pot meal with a side of either rice or bread.

IMG_1271 Today”s recipe is one that uses minimum spices, the bottle gourd adds extra nutrients, elevating this homey dish to a five star one.

When goings are tough don’t we all look for something like this?

Recipe; Serves 4 as side.

Ingredients;

Skinless moong dal                                                  one cup

Bottle gourd                                                             one medium

Cooking oil                                                               1 Tbsp

Ghee                                                                         11/2 Tbsp

Grated ginger                                                            1 Tbsp

Turmeric powder                                                        1 tsp

Cumin seeds                                                               1 tsp

Salt to taste

Dried red chillies                                                            2

Green chillies                                                                 2 sliced ( optional )

Jaggery                                                                           1 tsp

Method;

Dry roast the moong dal on medium heat till very lightly coloured, add the oil and fry for another minute. Add a cup of water, cook till half done. Add water as needed, the dish is neither runny nor solid.

Wash the bottle gourd and cut in thin slices ( about half a cm ). Throw in these to the half cooked dal, also add the turmeric powder, jaggery and grated ginger, salt, green chillies and continue cooking till the gourd and dal are cooked, not mushy. Both the dal and gourd should hold shape. Put the gas off.

In a separate pan, heat the ghee, when hot throw in the dried red chillies, cumin seeds, wait till it gets light brown in colour, add this on to the dal.

Adjust salt to taste and enjoy with rice.