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!

 

 

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!

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.