Papaya Apple Halwa

If only I were as good a planner as I am a dreamer, I’d have made a Valentine’s day themed post. I’ d have the menu for the entire month printed in a calendar format and pinned to my pin-up board. I’d have gone through my son’s Pre-KG syllabus at the beginning of the term rather than now, 2 weeks before his evaluations. I: Yuvi, young one of hen? Yuvi: Kozhi I: No Yuvi, Kozhi is hen. Young one of hen is chick. Young one of cat is kitten. Young one of dog? Hasini, don’t answer. Yuvi: Kitten? I: No Yuvi, young one of dog is puppy Yuvi: Yellathayum kitten sollalama? (Can we call all the young ones kitten? Please?) I crack up. He prances around thinking he has passed the test, thinking his lessons are over for the day.  I put away the books after one last round of rhymes he recites as he somersaults across the bed. Hasini joins along in the rhyme instead of writing her English essay. The Pizza arrives. We pack up for the day. I decide to be rational and steady and composed and think we can make it if we do little every day. I plan a rich heart shaped chocolate pudding cake for Valentine’s day because I couldn’t make it for the last wedding anniversary or the last valentine’s day. I am out of chocolate. I think I may buy it the day before and just bake this pudding cake off last minute. Without too much fuss, too much pre-planning and worrying. Just do it type. But I happened to not do it. Of late I’ve been leaning away from cake, towards non-fussy luscious halwas and kheers you can just scoop into a bowl, top with some crunchy nuts and call them dessert. And no less sensational. One mouthful of this papaya halwa makes me close my eyes and moan in pleasure. Note that the papaya is the surprise element. But the halwa tastes nothing like papaya. You may do away with the apples and make just a papaya halwa by subbing the apples with papaya. Not the other way around. Papaya haters will love this halwa too. It is an open challenge. Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 35 mins Serves: 8-10 Ingredients Papaya – 1 medium sized, peeled, seeded and diced fine Apples – 3 peeled, cored and grated Condensed...

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 –...
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