Pathir Peni | Layered fried Badam pooris

Thursdays are unlucky for me. It is too much of a coincidence really to have the “sweet-talk” with your boss every thursday. I can recall quite clearly lots of bad days and all of them being Thursdays. Now that I have discovered this striking pattern in my stars, I am dreading Thursdays. Today was bad too. I won’t get into the embarrassing details of it but suffice to say that I’d be lucky if I am not made the peon in the upcoming appraisal. I am not going to say this Pathir Peni made me feel better and that Pathir Peni is what you need when you are depressed although I am quite tempted to do that in typical blogger fashion. I made Pathir Peni a couple of weeks back because I had a big box full of almonds that were fast approaching the rancid state and I wanted to put them to good use and also because I was itching for an elaborate, fussy challenge. Be warned: Pathir Peni is not a quick sweet to make, neither is it easy. But it’s not complicated. Now I don’t know what it is. Ok, if you’re patient and willing to spend the time doing each step perfectly without taking shortcuts then Pathir Peni is not a big deal really. Not that I’ve mastered it. But my Pathir Peni was crisp, flaky and just sweet enough and those are the things I am looking for in a Pathir Peni. Pathir Peni is one of those status symbol sweets. If Pathir Peni is served at a wedding, it usually means the family is well off, has good taste and can flaunt it. Same for Nool Peni. Atleast this was how it was in the grand old days. Pathir Peni is making a comeback these days and I’ve now had them more than a couple of times at weddings and other smallish functions recently but in the nouveau wedding banquet fashion of a hundred items served in indistinguishable micro-mini portions, with air hostess style wedding hostesses to open up your little mineral water bottles (I really appreciate this gesture though; I have a tough time usually opening up the bottle mid-way through a meal with Yuvi perched on my lap). The dried little Pathir Peni served in these occasions in styrofoam cups topped with diluted milk is no match for the real thing. If...

Rasmalai – Bengal special

Whoever came up with these little milk soaked sweet melt-in-the-mouth treats was a genius. Rasmalai is one thing the entire family agrees upon – everybody even both mother-in-laws, the two ends of a spectrum do. This was the first time I tried Rasmalai at home. I’ve come halfway before – I’ve made Rasgullas before but not Rasmalai. If you can make Rasgullas then you’re pretty much there. You just need to slightly flatten the rasgullas, squeeze out the sugar syrup and then dunk in the reduced sweetened milk. I made these Rasmalai for a pot luck and they were a hit. They’re a crowd pleaser and they really aren’t too difficult at all. Rasmalai is from the state of West Bengal which lies in eastern India. West Bengal has a rich tradition in literature and arts and most definitely food. Fish and rice are important Bengali staples but so are sweets. Bengali sweets are distinctive – they’re light, spongy and not overly sweet. I am really looking forward to trying more Bengali sweets in future now that the Rasmalai turned out well. Freshwater fish are abundantly cooked in Bengal. The panch phoran whole spice mix and mustard paste are characteristically Bengali and are used in a variety of dishes. I can vouch for the panch phoran being a magical combination. I don’t know about mustard paste though. I think you’ve got to “get it” to like it. I am always impressed by the pride and passion with which Bengalis talk about their food. Bengali food is something that’s always been on my to-try list. With this state-wise marathon my interest has been piqued even further. This state-wise blogging Marathon has opened up a world of dishes made right here in India. I am rediscovering the food of my own land (TamilNadu) and it was fascinating learning about it. Put together, India’s cuisine is as fine, rich and intricate as any other world cuisine. I am no expert but I don’t know if any other country would have such a massive, ingenious variety of foods. The curries, kebabs, biryanis and dosas are just the popular few that restaurants chose to sell. The wealth of Indian food is made every day in homes, roadside stalls and villages. I need look no further for inspiration. Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 1 hour Makes: 40 small Rasmalai Ingredients – Sweetened milk Milk –...

Lapsi – sweet from Uttar Pradesh

We are on our last mile of the statewise blogging marathon – just 3 more to go before we wrap up this Indian food odyssey. I am already feeling wistful about the non-stop blogging the past few weeks and the months of preparation that went into it. I truly am grateful to Srivalli and the wonderful blogging marathoners for this wonderful experience. I’ve learned about so many wonderful new dishes, it has opened up my thinking. Everyday cooking is no longer going to be the same anymore. The Lapsi of Uttar Pradesh is going to be my new Kesari. Made just like kesari but with broken wheat, Lapsi is creamy, nutty and yummy. I loved it. I picked a simple sweet from Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is a large densely populated state in northern India. It has a long history, has a number of famous monuments and attracts a large number of tourists every year. Uttar Pradesh has a rich food culture, the very famous Awadhi cuisine has its roots in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. I’ve been guzzling more oil than an old Ambassador car with all the deep frying I’ve been doing this month what with the statewise blogging and the sweets I made for the recent birthdays. I decided to take it a little light and easy and made this Lapsi instead. I’ll definitely be making it again.   Prep time: 5 minsCooking time: 25 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Broken wheat rawa – 1 cupMilk – 3 cupsGhee – ¼ cupSugar – ¾ cup Method 1.      In a heavy bottomed wok, roast rawa in 2 tbsp ghee on low heat stirring often to make sure it doesn’t burn – about 10 minutes. 2.      Pour in the milk, stir well, cover and simmer till all the milk is absorbed and the rawa is cooked through. 3.      Add sugar and mix well. Once the sugar dissolves and the lapsi is nicely thickened (reaches a kesari/halwa consistency) pour in the ghee and mix well. Switch off. Garnish with fried cashews. Serve warm. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39 Uttar Pradesh An InLinkz Link-up

Sikkim’s Selroti – Deep fried sweet rings

The Selroti is a famous street food in Sikkim. It is this ring shaped deep fried sweet bread made from ground rice, banana and sugar. Getting the ring shape is not easy and predictably my Selroti is anything but ring-shaped. I am not even a “round roti maker”. I realize that that sentence sounds a little funny. I mean I can’t make perfectly round rotis (round that I am now) if my life depended on it. I can make any shape but a round one. These Sel rotis were out of the question. I tried my best in between bouts of yelling at the kids to stop fighting, to switch off Chotta Bheem, to not pour water on the chairs. I couldn’t find a banana (would you believe that?), so I skipped that. A couple of bananas usually lie around on the dining table browning slowly. But that day, there wasn’t a single banana. Like the time I decided on a cake recipe, got the oven preheated oven, measured out flour and sugar, brought eggs to room temperature and then realized I didn’t have butter. “Mise-en-place”, I always misplace (‘cos I am a nutcase). Sikkim is a very small state in the north-eastern part of India. It has a Nepali majority. It is mostly hilly. Now I remember. We’ve been to Gangtok (in Sikkim) on our honeymoon. We went to the Rumtek monastery also. I remember buying a Chinese style kimono type top in the Gangtok market that I never fitted into and which is doing duty as a prop for my Chinese food photos. I never had a chance to try these Sel rotis though. The sel rotis that I made were nice and crispy on the outside and a little chewy. I tried making a small batch as I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out. They were pretty good but they soak up quite a bit of oil. They’re nice to munch on with your tea or coffee. Prep time: 15 mins + overnight soaking Cooking time: 20 mins Makes: 2 dozen rings Ingredients Raw Rice – 1 cup Banana – 1 small (I skipped as I didn’t have it) Sugar – 1/3 cup Ghee – 1/3 cup Cardamom powder – pinch Oil – for deep frying Method 1.      Soak rice overnight. 2.      Grind soaked rice adding a little water to a nearly smooth paste. Add sugar, ghee...

Malpua – Rajasthan Dessert

We had chosen Malpuas for dessert from the hotel banquet menu for some occasion and nobody was with me. Malpuas were my choice. I had tasted it in Sree Krishna sweets sometime back for the first time and I loved it. But everybody else wanted carrat halwa or gulab jamun, the crowd favourites. I am generally notorious for selecting the worst items off any hotel menu and everybody was wary. We finally did have Malpuas for the occasion but they weren’t as nicely made and everybody told me “I told you so”.  I tried to make it at home once after that and they turned out ok but not great. I was determined to make Malpuas work. I know they’re divine and I wanted my family to know too. I made Malpuas again a couple of weeks back for Rajasthan and I took my time with it. I tasted it at every step knowing well that I cannot correct for less or more sugar later on. The consistency of the malpua batter is very important too. I measured, added everything in small increments because although I had a rough ingredient list I wasn’t following any recipe. I prepared the batter and sugar syrup the night before and fried them the next morning. I warmed the sugar syrup the next morning. I patiently fried them batch after batch without cranking up the heat because it was getting late for office. And I am delighted to announce that this time the Malpuas were gorgeous. Everytime I passed the fridge, I snucked a malpua into my mouth. They were heavenly. Jagan loved them and said they were great. Half a litre of milk yielded around 30-40 small malpuas – enough dessert for almost a week. I’d definitely make them again and maybe for a special occasion too. Rajasthan is the largest state in India. Did you know that the sowcarpet marwaris are originally from Rajasthan? Rajasthan is famous for its snacks and sweets and its colourful art. It’s also a hot tourist place now, in every sense of hot. I’d like to visit Rajasthan too sometime. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 30 minsMakes – 30-40 small malpuas Ingredients Whole Milk – ½ litre Maida – 1 cup Unsweetened Khoa – 100 gm Sugar – 1 -1/2 cups (adjust slightly as per taste) Oil/Ghee – for deep frying Pistachios – 10 slivered Sugar syrup...

Dabbroo – Himachal Pradesh’s Sweet wheat pancakes

I made these sweet wheat pancakes just this morning. I had them for breakfast today. I have the sweet after-note of the Dabbroos still lingering on my tongue as I type this. This recipe is from Divya Sud’s “Flavours from the Kangra Valley. A nice selection of recipes from the book were featured in Dec’13 GoodFood magazine and I picked this recipe from the magazine. I really liked most of the recipes featured – an arbi and methi stuffed cornmeal parantha, a lightly spiced cauliflower stem dry curry, a pulao and this easy peasy dessert. Why I chose this dessert I needn’t say. It was the easiest and quickest, it was last minute and I had no time. I did not really think much of it. I thought it would be ok. I was wrong. It tastes great. It really does. Himachal Pradesh lies in the western Himalayas and Kangra valley is a part of Himachal Pradesh. The Kangra cuisine uses yogurt, fresh spices and herbs and very little of aromatics likes onions and garlic. Their Khatta (sour gravies) and Madra (yogurt based chickpea curry) are popular but I am really keen on trying the arbi-methi cornmeal parantha. It sounds exotic and delicious and definitely worth a try. These Dabbroos are perfect as Neivedhyam for poojas instead of the regular Kesari. These are just as quick and are really tasty too. They can make lovely sweet appetizers too if they’re made small. I’ll be making them again soon. Remember to make the pancakes real fine and thin. They taste best when they’re made thin. Prep time: 10 mins Sitting time: 1 hour Cooking time: 10 mins Makes: 10 small pancakes Ingredients Wheat flour – 1 cup Milk – ½ cup Sugar – ½ cup Water – ½ cup (adjust) Ghee – 10 tsp Method 1.      Mix together wheat flour and sugar in a bowl. 2.      Pour in milk and water and whisk to make a lump free pancake batter. You may adjust the proportion of milk and water slightly as per your liking. Let sit for 1 hour. I left it overnight in the fridge. 3.      Heat a well seasoned dosa tawa or a non-stick tawa and ladle about a ¼ cup of the batter on the tawa and very quickly spread it out into a circle using the back of the ladle. Make it as thin as possible. Drizzle...

Dutch Apple Pie | Eggless Apple Pie

This long pending Dutch Apple pie is January month’s baking partner challenge which I actually did make in January but could not post until now. I braved my conjunctivitis and made this during my sick leave so that I could post it at least before the month end but I just couldn’t get everything together. I am always in such a hurry working in shifts – either the morning rush-hour before work or after-work before bedtime hustle that I got greedy when I finally had sick leave. I wanted to make as much as I could of the time I had and so I made Dutch Apple Pie. The pie turned out great and Jagan really liked it a lot. What I really liked about this pie was the crust – it was buttery, flaky and just sweet enough and all this without any eggs. The apple filling I thought was a tad too sweet, so add sugar in small increments and taste as you go along. I love apple pie with vanilla ice cream – Sparky’s in Egmore used to serve this combination for a dessert and I loved it. Sparky’s is not there anymore. I served apple pie sans the ice cream because there’s a much-resented ice-cream ban at home (my kids’ colds just don’t seem to go away and until then there’d be no ice-cream). But do try this along with vanilla ice cream and you’ll know what I am talking about.Yuvi has a nice red checked shirt that’s just perfect for strawberry, apple kind of food photos – you must have seen the red and white patterned cloth atop jam jars on pinterest. As luck would have it, Yuvi was wearing it that day and I asked him for his shirt for just a few minutes so that I could photograph the apple pie against the classic red pattern. I tried to be stern with him, pleaded with him, pretended to cry and even offered him a lollypop. The little guy wouldn’t budge. He started his ear-blasting whistling-crying instead. So I ran off and made do with Jagan’s somewhat similar patterned shirt instead. That’s what you see here. Prep time: 30 mins Baking time: 75 mins – 90 mins Makes: 7-10 slices Ingredients – Pie Crust Cold Butter – 175 gm cut into cubes Flour – 2 cups Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup Salt – a...

Warm Chocolate Cake

I am writing this post sitting at a beautiful antique rosewood desk in our picturesque hotel room at Taj Savoy in freezing cold Ooty while the kids fight each other with their over-sized mock pencil swords. No, I am not a compulsive blogger or anything. I am participating in Srivalli’s blogging Marathon and I better stick to the schedule. Marathoners are one committed, disciplined, perfectionist bunch and I better stick to the plan to stay from getting kicked out. We are on our annual family vacation the whole of this week and I’d planned to have these drafted and scheduled before starting on vacation. But me being me and my kids being what they are, I am now trying to type up some barely coherent stuff sitting in Ooty trying to feel like Ruskin Bond (hey no stone-throwing, no violence, I was just trying to feel that way ok). I made these warm chocolate cakes a couple of weeks back. These warm chocolate cakes have to be served warm and no other way.  I filled the ramekins way too full and the resultant cakes had comically overflown the individual cups. I wanted to make these another time so that I could picture better looking cakes but I never had time to do them another time. So here are the overflown warm chocolate cakes. I used the warm chocolate cake recipe from Tish Boyle’s “The Cake Book”. This is a flourless cake. It’s quite easy to make and sure to be hit with kids and adults alike. I over-baked these cakes just a tad bit maybe 2-3 minutes more, but I’d suggest sticking to the recipe exactly for the best results. I am sending these to Srivalli’s BloggingMarathon for the theme Chocolate dishes and to Srivalli’s Kid’s Potluck party. Prep time: 20 mins Baking time: 20 mins Makes: 8 individual sized cakes Ingredients Eggs – 4 separated Butter – 4 tbsp Semisweet or Dark Chocolate – 250 gm Sugar  – ¼ cup Method 1  .       Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Butter 8 ramekins liberally and dust with sugar. 2  .       Heat butter and chocolate together till the chocolate is melted. Whisk till smooth. Let cool. Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl till blended. Add half the sugar and beat until pale and thick. 3  .      Beat egg whites in a clean bowl till...

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