Kasi Halwa – My 200th post

It’s pleasantly cool and drizzly in Chennai in the midst of a sweltering May. The last few days have been humid hell, we were sweating in buckets. But the rains are right on cue. Only yesterday I thought I was late with my summer vathal making and that I’d better start soon and this morning it rained. I am well known for my luck with these things.The trees wear that nice fresh, green look after the showers and I just want to sit and gaze at them. I am in no mood for work of any kind. Not that I’ve done a lot lately. Jagan is on a business trip and I am lazing it at my mother’s place. I am spending a lot of time with the kids. Yuvi makes good conversation these days. He talked me to sleep yesterday. This is my 200th post by the way. I am very slow by general food blogger standards. It has taken me nearly 1 and half years to reach this milestone while many active bloggers cross double the number of posts in half this time. I’ve decided to take it slow too. I think that’ll be my style. Slow blogging. It suits me. Kasi Halwa fits the occasion. It is my most favourite Halwa (even over carrot halwa and beetroot halwa. Tirunelveli Halwa comes a close second) in the world. We had Kasi Halwa as part of my wedding breakfast menu. Kasi Halwa is made from Ash gourd (locally called Vellai poosinikkai or Kalyana poosinikkai – white pumpkin). The procedure is usual – grate, squeeze out the juices, sauté in ghee, cook in milk, add sugar and ghee and cook to a Halwa – simple. But the taste is unbelievable. The Halwa is nothing like what it’s made of (try drinking Ash Gourd juice if you don’t believe me). Here is the Kasi Halwa recipe for you. If you’ve never tried it before, just believe me on this one and try it. If you’re a sweet lover like me, you’ll send me a money order. It is that great. I made this as part of my TamilNadu meal last week. Ingredients Ash Gourd/Vellai poosinikkai/White pumpkin – ½ kiloGhee – 6 tbspSugar – ¾ cupMilk – 1-1/2 cupsYellow food colour – a pinchCardamom powder – a pinch (optional, I skipped)Fried Cashews – 10 (for garnish) Method 1.      Peel the ash gourd....

Kaju Katli – Mundiri Cake

I never knew Kaju Katli was so simple until I heard this recipe from a family friend. It appears like a lot of beloved sweets are actually quite simple but a very important point to note is that they all involve little nuances, fine details which lend the dish its distinctive taste and texture. I am sending these off to Nivedhanam Sowmya’s AuthenticIndian sweets event. This event page has now become a treasure trove of Indian sweets. I spent quite some time the other evening going through the recipes. Any festival or occasion at home and you want to try a new sweet, just head here. Three important details to note while making Kaju Katli is that: 1.      The cashew nuts need to be dry or they’ll clump up when you try to powder them. To quickly dry them, dry roast the cashews in a kadai/skillet for about 2 minutes until lightly toasted but not browned. 2.      The sugar syrup has to be one string consistency for the dough to come together like it does. 3.      Just before you spread out the cooked dough, knead it to make it smooth (I learnt this only after I’d already made these Kaju Katlis and mine are therefore a little homey with a few cracks here and there and they’re not as pliable as the store bought ones. My Kaju Katlis were a bit stiff but not hard. Next time I will try the kneading step as well. Kaju Katli is a classic very elegant sweet and it’s great that you can make these in under half an hour and it doesn’t involve oil or too much ghee. Oil always makes me guilty, sugar doesn’t. It’s strange. Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 10 mins Makes: 30 small diamonds Ingredients Cashewnuts (un-salted) – 150 gmSugar – 1-1/4 cupWater – 1-1/4 cupGhee – 1 tbsp Method 1.      Dry roast cashew nuts in a kadai/skillet on low for 1-2 minutes till lightly toasted but not browned. 2.      Grind the cashew nuts to a very fine powder in a mixie or food processor. Set aside. 3.      In a wide pan, combine sugar and water together and bring to a boil. Let is continue boiling till it reaches one-string consistency. From being runny, it’ll start getting sticky and syrupy after some time. Do this test – Take a small drop of the sugar syrup between your thumb...
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