Kutch’s Famous Dabeli

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When you travel to Kutch in the winters, the land is barren, after all you’re deep in the desert. It’s biting cold. The temperature goes down to 6 degrees and even lower. It’s called the White Rann of Kutch and the best time to see these desert sands is on a full moon night when they glisten under the moonlight. It’s also absolutely wonderful what technology can do. The place, which is arid and dry and scorching in the summers becomes a flourishing tourist spot in the winter months. I stayed in a tent, there are tents for every budget. You certainly can’t call them basic, there’s steaming hot water coming out of the bathroom taps when you want it.

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The food is sumptuous and  everyone who attends the festival enjoys the food. There’s so much variety and the organisers keep everyone’s tummies full. There was toast and milk and cornflakes and fruit and fruit juice and tea and coffee, and poha and chole puri and upma and tiny uttapams and freshly made theplas and pickle, one day for breakfast.

Kutchi hospitality is renowned and so is the honesty of the locals. The locals are not well off and winter tourism is a boon for them. Our hosts exuded warmth and none of our belongings went missing, ever.

There is time to relax and rest and enjoy the winter sun if you wish to and enjoy at your own pace, or you can participate in adventure sports, go on a bus tour to see the sunrise and sunset over the desert, go see the palace of the Kutch royals, shop till you drop, and visit the art gallery in the Tent City. And there’s more…..

The Kutch Festival is held from Nov 15th to Jan 15th every year. You can book online. Just don’t forget to take your woolens along.

On a tour I took, the guide made us taste the original Kutchi Dabeli in Mandvi, which is known for its ship building besides. And the beautiful palace of the Kutch royals.

I’ve made it and here is the recipe. Try it at home. It tastes of love mainly, eaten freshly made.

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Makes 8

Ingredients

3 tablespoons dabeli masala- store bought

3 tablespoons sweet date chutney plus 8 teaspoons more to spread on the buns

3 tablespoons oil

3 cups boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes

8 dabeli buns, any plain buns will also do.

8 teaspoons garlic chutney

2 medium onions, finely chopped

Some finely chopped fresh coriander

3/4 cup roughly crushed masala peanuts

3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

3/4 cup fine sev

4 tablespoons butter

Method

1 In a small bowl add the dabeli masala to the sweet chutney and mix. Heat the oil on medium flame and pour this mix into the hot oil. Cook for a few seconds. Now add the peeled and mashed potatoes to the hot oil mix and give the masala and potatoes a good stir. Keep this potato filling aside.

2. Take a dabeli pav or a bun and cut horizontally in half. Spread some garlic chutney on the insides of each of the dabeli pav( bun) halves. Next, spread the sweet date chutney on each half bun. Spread a layer of the potato filling on to the bottom half (over the chutney). Sprinkle some coriander, some peanuts and some pomegranate, then top it off with some fine sev. Cover this half bun with the top half. Prepare the other dabeli buns the same way.

3. In a non stick pan put two blobs of butter and heat. Put 4 dabelis into the pan and cook till golden brown,  first the base and then overturturned. Remove from the pan and serve hot.

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Homemade Brown Sugar

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Wish you a Merry Christmas! It’s the festive season and all of us who bake must have brown sugar at home. But what if your stock of brown sugar is over? And you don’t have time to go to the grocery store? Well then, I have a cheaper, equally delicious tasting (with all the depth of flavor) alternative for you so you can make those tasty gingerbread cookies.

You only need two ingredients. Molasses or treacle (the British equivalent of molasses) and white granulated sugar. For light brown sugar add 1 tablespoon of molasses to I cup of white granulated sugar and mix with a fork. For dark brown sugar add two tablespoons of molasses to I cup of white granulated sugar and mix with a fork. There you are! Your brown sugar is ready to use.

Do remember that brown sugar is measured differently from white granulated sugar. Because brown sugar forms clumps, when you pour it into a cup there will be air pockets so you must press it down with a spoon and ‘pack’ it. That’s why we read recipes asking for a ‘cup of packed brown sugar’.

So here’s to happy cookie baking!

photo credit: mareefe

World Peace Cookies

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Peace, such a common word but so important, especially in these turbulent times. Now just imagine that you could help in bringing peace to the world. Yes you can, one cookie at a time.

Dorie Greenspan who’s wonderful recipe this is, says-

“The original recipe for these cookies was given to me by my friend, Pierre Hermé, the wonderful Parisian pastry chef.  In the cookies’ first incarnation, they were called Sablés Chocolats, or chocolate shortbread.  In their second, the one in which chopped chocolate was added to the sweet/salty dough, they were dubbed Sables Korova and were served at the Paris restaurant of the same name.  Finally, a neighbor of mine gave them the name they truly deserve:  World Peace Cookies.  He was convinced that if everyone in the world could have these cookies, there would be planetary peace.  I hope he’s right.  What I know for sure is that everyone who has these cookies smiles and smiles are pretty powerful”.

So bring a smile to somebody’s face this Christmas by making these absolutely delicious cookies, smiles and happiness as opposed to hate are a sign of peace in the world. Make these wonderful cookies today.

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And the good news is, they don’t have eggs in them so if you don’t eat eggs like some Gujaratis where I live, this recipe is reason to cheer!

 

Here is the recipe

Makes 30 cookies

Ingredients

1/4 cups (170 gms) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (30 gms) cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (155 gms) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (135 gms) packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup (50 gms) sugar

1/2 teaspoon fleur del sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces (140 gms) bittersweet chocolate chopped into smaller than 1/3 inch pieces

Method

1 Sift and mix the all purpose flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

2 Beat the butter and sugars till soft and creamy.

3 Add the salt and vanilla extract to the butter sugar mixture and beat until incorporated.

4 Gently fold in the flours until just mixed. Don’t overmix.

5 Add the chocolate pieces and mix until just incorporated.

6 Put the dough on a work surface and divide into half. Roll each half into a log measuring 1 1/2 inches (4 cms ) in diameter. Wrap  the logs in plastic tightly and twist the ends and keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months).

7 Heat the oven to 165 degrees C (325 degrees F) with a rack in the center. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

8 Using a sharp knife to slice the logs into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) rounds. If the rounds crack while cutting them, don’t worry, just press the bits back together. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, about 5 cms apart. Keep the remaining dough chilled until you are ready to bake the next batch.

9 Bake the cookies one batch at a time for 12 minutes. When done, they won’t look done or even feel firm to the touch. Let the cookies cool. Serve warm or let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Homemade Vegan Marzipan- compiled recipe links

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

Marzipan is used to make delicious sweets and as a filling or encasing for cakes and chocolates. It is said to have first been made in the Middle East and then travelled to Spain. In India the Portuguese brought marzipan to Goa, but this is a different kind, one made with cashew nuts, not almonds.

Marzipan is mostly made with a combination of sugar and almond flour or ground almonds. The ratio of sugar to almonds varies from place to place. Usually marzipan has a greater ratio of sugar to almond flour, than almond paste in which the sugar content is less or equal to the quantity of almond flour.

Homemade marzipan is so much better than the store bought variety. Because, you know what ingredients go into making homemade marzipan as opposed to store bought, which may be mixed with cheaper ingredients or plain adulterated.

In this post I will share 3 recipes for marzipan, in fact they are links to excellent, easy, doable marzipan recipes on the net. All three are recipes for vegan marzipan. One is a regular vegan marzipan, the other is the Goanese type, and the third is a sugar free marzipan. Check out all three and decide which one you’d like to make this Christmas.

Here are the links:

This is a recipe from a blog, the idea of which I like a lot. Going slow and environment consciousness.

Here is the Goanese recipe with cashew nuts for the base.

Here is a wonderful recipe for sugar free marzipan.

So go ahead and make some delicious sweets and desserts this Christmas for your loved ones.

 

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

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If you can find heaven in a cake then this is it. Sticky, soft, and everything you’ve dreamed of but never had. This cake has a taste of fresh lemon juice because it is soaked with lemon juice after making it, and the poppy seeds in it taste divine.The combination of lemon and poppy seeds is sooo good. A bit unusual for those who haven’t tasted this combination but delicious still.

I love chocolate cakes and I know so do you, and one of these days I’m going to put up a chocolate cake recipe too, but rich fruit cakes taste so good. We’re having guests over this evening and I’m going to delight them with large chunks of this cake. The last time I made it, it was gone in the wink of an eye. Only the crumbs remained in the plate as proof that there had once been a nice big cake before it was devoured.

I’ve taken this recipe from Dan Lepard’s  recipe.

He is a baker from the United Kingdom and one of my favorites. His cookbooks are my prized possessions and are the jewels of my library.

I put only half the amount of lemon and caster sugar syrup given in this recipe, on the cake, and no additional dredging of caster sugar, but the cake was still scrumptious.

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

For the cake

225 gms caster sugar

125 gms unsalted butter, softened

100 ml sunflower oil

Finely grated zest of 3 lemons

4 medium eggs

50 ml hot water

250 gms plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

75 gms oatmeal, or rolled oats finely ground

30 gms poppy seeds

For the syrup

150 gms caster sugar, plus extra to finish

100 ml lemon juice

Method

1 Line a deep 20 cm square cake tin with baking paper. Beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest and oil till light and fluffy, then add one egg at a time and beat well. Then beat the hot water into the mixture.

2 Sift the flour, then add the baking powder and mix well. Then add the oatmeal or the finely ground oats and the poppy seeds, and beat them into the cake mixture.

3 Pour the batter into the tin and bake at 180 degrees C / 160 degrees C fan / 350 degrees F/ gas 4 for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, when inserted into the cake.

4 While the cake is warm, heat the lemon juice and caster sugar till the caster sugar dissolves. Poke the cake all around deep with a fork or a skewer and spread the syrup onto the cake letting it soak it in. Once it has cooled dredge it with more caster sugar.

 

Grandma’s Egg Sandwiches

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Oh, how my nephew loves these delicious egg sandwiches. He says they’re the best breakfast in the whole world. Grandma’s recipe, made with love by my sister for my nephew and her hubby. Whether it’s at home for breakfast or for a picnic, these egg sandwiches are always in demand.

My mom makes delicious food, and I’ve learnt most of my cooking from her, the complex, the artistic, the simple. This is a really simple, easy peasy recipe, but so delicious, the way only grandma can work magic.

Have these sandwiches with tea or coffee for breakfast or with soup for dinner. They can also be made for a party or an occasion. I promise you’ll enjoy the feast.

These sandwiches are ideal for older people too, because they’re so soft and yet so healthy.

Here is the recipe.

Grandma’s Egg Sandwiches

Makes 6 half sandwiches

Ingredients

6 bread slices well buttered

3 boiled eggs, grated

40 gms butter, softened

Some roughly ground pepper

Salt to taste

Method

1 In a medium sized bowl mix the grated egg, softened butter, salt, and pepper well.

2 Spread a thick layer of the egg mixture onto a slice of buttered bread. Cover this slice with another slice of buttered bread. Make the remaining sandwiches the same way. Cut each sandwich into half to make a total of six sandwiches.

3 If not eating right away, wet a clean napkin, squeeze out all the water and cover the sandwiches and keep in the fridge. However, the sandwiches are best eaten immediately.

 

 

Batata Vada

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It is Diwali time. Diwali is only two days away. We deck up in our best clothes, cook delicious food and share it with family and friends. We go to each other’s homes bearing gifts of all kinds, sweet and savory, mithais, dry fruits, namkeen.

It’s always lovely to have family and friends over during the festive season. Our homes are lit up with diyas and pretty rangolis are drawn at the door. We fill up delicate bowls and plates of silver with sweetmeats, first serve them as an offering to God and then decorate the table with them for guests. Atithi Devo Bhava, or, the guest is God is a well known Indian saying. We do treat our guests like God.

This is also a time to reflect, to root out evil, and light up our selves with good, cleanse our souls of impurity, let our hearts and minds soak in the light of the incandescent diyas we light in our homes.

Lets share and care, give love and receive it in return, not take more than our due, and live a life of compassion, love and kindness.

Everyone is doing sweetmeat recipes so this Diwali, which is the first on my blog, I am sharing a savory recipe. Batata Vada. It means crisp potato balls dipped in a batter of gram flour, fried in oil with lots of garlic and green chilly-ginger paste as masala in the stuffing, eaten with a chutney of your liking.

Make it this way to delight yourself and your loved ones! Here is the recipe.

Batata Vada

Ingredients

For the Vada

2 tablespoons oil

500 gms boiled and mashed potatoes

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

8 to 10 cloves of garlic chopped finely or 4 sprigs of fresh garlic chopped finely till the ends.

1 tablespoon of chilly-ginger paste

A nice pinch of asafoetida

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

A sprig of curry leaves

Some finely chopped fresh coriander

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste

For the batter or covering

1 1/2 cups gram flour

A pinch of asafoetida

1 tablespoon oil

A pinch of soda bicarb

Chilly powder to taste

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

Method

1 In a medium sized pan put the two tablespoons of oil on a medium flame. When hot put in the mustard seeds and let pop. Put in the finely chopped garlic and cook till a nice aroma wafts through. Add the green chilly-ginger paste and cook it for a minute. Now add the asafoetida, turmeric powder and stir for a few seconds. Add the  curry leaves, fresh coriander, lemon juice and salt and mix in the mashed potatoes. Stir the mixture well to blend in all the spices and herbs.

2 Make 10 to 12 balls from the potato mixture and keep aside.

3 Mix all the ingredients for the batter with a little water to make a batter of flowing consistency. Keep the batter a little thin to get a crisp and light outer cover for the vadas.

4 Heat the oil for frying in a deep bottomed pan. Dip the potato balls one at a time in the batter and drop gently in the hot oil. Fry till golden brown. Remove and serve hot with a chutney of your liking.