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...

Dates Halwa

I am not a huge fan of dates and I had a lot of trouble swallowing these dates during my pregnancy days. Dates are super rich in Iron and women are most often low on Iron, so I had to eat dates during my pregnant days. The dates syrup was yuckier. I wish I’d tried this Dates Halwa recipe then. It really tastes fabulous. And because dates are already quite sweet you really wouldn’t need too much sugar either. The magic ingredient though is the channa dal (kadalai paruppu) here that transforms these sticky dates to a luscious Halwa. This is as healthy as a Halwa can get. I adapted this Halwa recipe from a Nita Mehta book on Hyderabadi cuisine. This is also a great way to include dates into your children’s diet. My son for one loves sweets and Halwa is perfect for toddlers and even grown up kids. I am sending this dates Halwa to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon for the theme – After School Bites. So here are the cashews Prep Time: 10 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 5-6 Ingredients Dates – 1 cup pitted and choppedChanna dal/Kadalai paruppu – 1 cup cookedMilk – 1 cupSugar – ½ cup + 2-3 tbsp (adjust)Ghee – 4 tbsp + 5 tbspCashews – 8 halved Method 1.      Cook channa dal in a pressure cooker till soft. Drain the water and mash the channa dal. 2.      In a kadai/skillet, heat 4 tbsp ghee and fry the cashews till golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. In the same kadai add the mashed channa dal and fry it is dry and crumbly. Remove on to a plate. 3.      Pit the dates and chop them into little pieces. To the same kadai, add 1 cup milk and the chopped dates and simmer covered till the dates are soft and the milk is absorbed. Transfer the cooked dates mixture to a mixie and puree. 4.      To the very same kadai, add about 2 tbsp ghee and combine the dates mixture and the channa dal mixture. Mix well. Add sugar. Mix well and cook on low till the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust sugar. Add the remaining ghee and cook on low till ghee oozes out. Remove from heat and garnish with fried cashews. Serve warm. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#31

Sweet Somas – Aadi Pooram/Seemandham special

While other bloggers are gearing up with their Orange, white, green colour coded post for Independence day, I am posting this Aadi Pooram special. Aadi Pooram was last week. Yeah, I am slow like that. So this sweet somas was a revelation to me and is far better than the store bought ones. No, really. This is not a standard blogger phrase (“better than store-bought”) that I am using here although I’ve been guilty of using it too before. This somas really, truly is better and I’ll never be buying them from stores again. What I really love about this somas is the filling. The filling is a very un-assuming combination of roasted coconut, poppy seeds, cashew nuts and sugar. Poppy seeds! I thought. I’ve never been too fond of the store-bought somas, so last week, when we were making these somas for Aadi Pooram, I really didn’t expect much out of it. I was so wrong. I loved these somas. The poppy seeds took the somas to another level adding crunch and a wonderful nutty flavour to the somas. I made these somas alongside my Maamiyaar and I learnt real-time the somas-making process. I am really happy at these times for the joint-family setup. You’ll need patience however to make these somas, especially if you’re making large batches like we did that day. We slogged the previous night making these sweet somas, Murrukku, Coconut burfi, Boondi Laddu and variety rices for Aadi Pooram. It was heady, cooking up all these dishes and I was really excited. I get a great kick out of large scale cooking. This wasn’t large scale at all actually. But it was larger than usual. There are a few things to keep in mind to get those lovely crisp, puffed up somas. The dough has to be really soft and well kneaded. So knead like crazy.  Use only a small lemon sized ball of dough for a somas. Roll it out really thin, so thin that you’re able to see your hand if placed beneath the rolled out disc. To do this, you’ll need to flour your rolling surface generously. These somas are traditionally done for Seemandham (baby showers). Aadi Pooram is when we celebrate Amman’s Seemandham. We offer these sweets and variety rices (the traditional Seemandham Menu) to Amman. Amman is adorned with coloured glass bangles and Temples distribute coloured glass bangles to devotees...

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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