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...

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

White Chocolate Kalakand

Another short-cut cheat recipe, this sweet/mithai is ready in under 10 minutes and tastes great. It’s not the traditional kalakand in that it doesn’t involve paneer or reduced milk, but it is a close second and it tastes fabulous. My son loved it. He is a sweet lover. I made this white chocolate kalakand the day we were leaving on our vacation and again the pictures are the most basic. Just 2 ingredients to this kalakand – White chocolate and Mawa/Khoya. I am sending this white chocolate kalakand to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon for the Chocolate theme and to Srivalli’s Kid’s potluck party. I am on vacation and I am buying WiFi from Taj for 150 bucks for half an hour (You believe that! I’d think classy Taj would provide free Wifi) so that I can upload my masterpieces to the blogosphere.  Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 3 mins Makes: 18 small squares Ingredients Unsweetened Mawa/Khoya – 200 gm grated White Chocolate – 175 gm roughly chopped up Ghee – 2 tsp Slivered Almonds/Pistachios – a handful for garnishing (I didn’t have time for this) Method 1  .       Grease a square pan with ghee and set aside. 2  .       In a pan, add ghee. Add the grated mawa and stir around till it’s slick and shiny – about 1 minute. Remove from heat. 3  .       Stir in the chopped chocolate till it’s melted and well incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the greased square pan, level and sprinkle the slivered almonds/pistachios on top. Let cool for 10 minutes by which time it would have nicely solidified. Cut into squares and serve. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#33

Bread Mithai

I made Bread mithai for this weekend’s dessert, this weekend was a little special since my husband returned home from a nearly 2-month long business trip. The kids were squealing in delight and my daughter being the first to spot her dad alight from the taxi, ran all over the house screaming that her dad had arrived. After 2 months of ready-to-eat microwaved meals, cold sandwiches and Nandos (which he enjoyed a lot), my husband wanted a full blown Indian meal – biryani, mutton kola urundai, chicken gravy and the works. I wanted it to be special and I wanted to replicate the bread based sweet that we had eaten in Muslim weddings. It’s like a halwa, but it absolutely melts in your mouth and is delightfully sweet and decadent. The Bread mithai that I made was not exactly the same but somewhere there. It was pretty close and it tasted great. This is a pretty quick dessert to make and it can be served warm or chilled. If you are serving it chilled, remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for half an hour or so for the sweet to soften. Then serve. Prep time: 5 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 6-7 Ingredients Sweet Bread – 8 slices edges trimmed and cut into trianglesGhee – ¼ cup + 1 tbspSweetened Condensed milk – 100 gmMilk – 1-1/2 cupSweetened Khoa – 50 gmCashewnuts – a handful Method 1.      Heat ¼ cup ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and when hot drop the bread slices and fry till golden. Deep fry in batches all the 16 pieces (8*2). Remove onto absorbent paper. Let cool. 2.      In the remaining ghee, drop the cashew nuts and fry till golden. Remove onto absorbent paper. Set aside. 3.      Break up the fried bread pieces into bite sized pieces roughly. 4.      In a bowl, mix condensed milk, milk and sweetened khoa and whisk till well combined. Set aside. 5.      In a shallow pan, layer the bread pieces, top with nuts. Pour the milk mixture on top and simmer till all the milk is absorbed and it is almost a halwa consistency – about 5-10 minutes. Stir around a bit. Add 1 tablespoon ghee around the edges of the pan. Continue cooking till the ghee starts shimmering around the edges of the pan – about 1-2 minutes. 6.      Remove from fire. Serve warm or chilled.

Kamarkat

Kamarkat is a quick and easy snack to make. You just need 4 ingredients. I usually avoid sweets that contain coconut but I am partial to Kamarkat. Some Kamarkats are really hard and tough to bite. I like my kamarkats soft and chewy and this recipe yields just that – soft, chewy sticky sweet kamarkats. I think these’ll make great car snacks for kids. Chewing on these Kamarkats will keep their little mouths busy and you can enjoy some peace while driving. Kamarkat always evokes fond childhood memories for everybody. Those were great times when we’d chew on these sweet, golden thingies for ages. There were also these candied mango strips which we’d buy at the road-side potti kadai (small shop) and these were like the “naturo” bars that sell now. The mango strips that we ate were un-branded. They were kept in those big glass jars that are synonymous with potti kadais. These little potti kadais were a child’s paradise – they had all kinds of sweets – kamarkat, butter biscuits, groundnut chikkis, all in those see-through glass jars. Every street corner would have a potti kadai. Candy heaven was always just a few steps away. Compare that with those huge, garish, ridiculously expensive lollipops available in that candy store (don’t remember what it was called) that’s invariably there in every mall. I bought one of those for my daughter and all of us together couldn’t finish even a quarter of it. We had to throw it away. Nothing like old times! I was sceptical about my kids, if they’d like Kamarkats but they ate one each and pronounced it good. So a dabba of kamarkat goes straight to the car. I am sending this recipe to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon for the theme – “Sweet Treats for Kids”. Preparation time: 5 minsCooking time: 10-15 minsMakes: 25-30 gooseberry sized balls Ingredients Jaggery – 250 gmWater – 1/2 cupCoconut – 1 gratedGhee – 1-1/2 tbsp Method 1.      In a kadai/skillet, heat jaggery and water together. When the jaggery has blended well and starts bubbling, filter the mixture to remove the impurities. 2.      Wipe the kadai clean with a kitchen towel and return the mixture back to the kadai/skillet. Let the jaggery cook and thicken. Test doneness by rolling a tiny drop of the mixture between your fingers to make a ball. If the ball holds its shape without sticking and is...

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