Coconut Ladoos

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Ganesh Chaturthi is here once again. How do we make the sweet, elephant headed God happy? Make him ladoos, because according to mythology Lord Ganesha loved ladoos. So this post is an offering to Lord Ganesha.

Dear friends, God never wanted us humans to pollute rivers and destroy nature. Please make environment friendly Ganeshas and immerse them in a clean tub of water for Ganapati immersion or better still leave the idols under a tree or in a temple. Do not alienate nature.

There’s a wonderful story about Ganesha and his sibling brother Kartikeya.

One day sage Narada came to Lord Shiva with a mango, which he had obtained from Lord Brahma. Now this was no ordinary mango. It was the mango of wisdom and knowledge. Lord Shiva wanted to give it to his sons, but which one should he give it to? He was in a quandary. So he decided to hold a competition where each sibling had to run a race around the world and the one who came first would win the mango.

Ganesha was plump and roly poly, and although he wanted to win badly, his vehicle was a mouse. Kartikeya on the other hand had a fast flying peacock for his vehicle and was very active too. Kartikeya set out immediately to fly around the world and show his prowess. Ganesha thought for a bit and then, gathering his parents together he circled them thrice. “Now give me my mango” he said. Shiva asked him why he deserved the mango, to which Ganesha replied that Shiva and Parvati his parents, meant the world to him. They were his world, so he had circled them thrice. Shiva gave him the mango.

Kartikeya, it is said in one version, was happy and accepted his father’s decision, but another version says, he got terribly angry and came down to earth to meditate in the Palani hills in the southern part of India. Ganesha, with great difficulty pacified him and brought him back to Mount Kailash.

Here is this really fantastic, tasty and easy recipe.

Coconut Ladoos

Makes 20 ladoos

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 tin(400 gms) condensed milk

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

A little less than 1/2 cup raisins

A little less than 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

1 Mix all the ingredients together in a thick bottomed pan except the 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut, and cook on a slow flame till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. Approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool a little.

2 Spread a little oil or ghee on your hands, make round balls with the mixture. Dip each ball into the remaining 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut.

You can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator, if they last that is. The kids at home will love them, and so will the adults.

 

 

Eating My Cake And Having It Too

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You all must wonder why I write so much, I write posts for my blog, I write posts on Facebook, I write all the time. I virtually drown myself…..and you in my writing. To tell you the truth I love writing, in fact before I started blogging about food, I used to be a content writer, writing articles for the net and writing content for websites.

Until of course I realized that I wanted to start my own food blog. So now I can eat my cake and have it too, pursuing my twin passions-writing and cooking.

I’m as passionate about adding delicious spices to my cooking as I am about punctuating my writing, after all, spices make cooking special and punctuation is the jewel in a written piece. In fact I’m currently rereading a funny, rib tickling book on punctuation called Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Oh, by the way, that is  my third pleasure-reading. I absolutely must read a large chunk of pages from my current favorite of the day. I’m not crazy about books with pictures, I want good writing, although cookbooks with lovely photographs are welcome. But I do so love to read cookbooks that are interestingly written too. I love reading food memoirs.

If you visit Ahmedabad you’re welcome to come over to my place and share some of the food I cook. You must also check out my library. It’s got books on every subject and I also have a wonderful collection of cookbooks.

Those of you who read my Facebook page will know that my friend from school Manisha, who I haven’t met for 35 years now and who I got in touch with via Facebook, thank you Facebook, recently gifted me some lovely cookbooks to add to my collection.

So now, I’m ravenous and am going to raid the fridge. And munch on something tasty with what else but a book to read, while I watch the view from my window.

Puran Poli

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It’s celebration time with Onam today and Raksha Bandhan tomorrow. So it calls for a treat.

Puran Poli is a delicious Maharashtrian and Gujarati roti or bread made during festivals and celebrations.  It is a roti with a sweet filling inside, and is eaten with ambti or amti daal. Of course it can also be eaten with a regular meal. It also tastes great with Gujarati kadhi.

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In Maharashtra the filling for the roti is made with channa daal and in Gujarat the filling is made with tuvar or arhar daal. As there are many regions in India so there are many ways of making Puran Poli. Different people make it differently, some add coconut to the filling, some add a mix of sugar and jaggery to sweeten the filling, some add fennel seed powder to the filling. That’s the beauty of India. Here, her people make magic out of basic ingredients and vegetarian food turns into a feast for the senses.

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I’m posting a recipe of Puran Poli, the way we make it at home. This recipe also takes inspiration from Tarla Dalal’s recipe of Puran Poli. So, sit back and enjoy reading it. It isn’t difficult at all, you can make it for your loved ones. It’s so tasty that they will thank you and ask for more!

And, some people even serve this sweet, flavourful roti as a dessert.

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Puran Poli

Makes 10-12 rotis or breads

Ingredients

1 cup tuvar/ arhar daal washed and drained

2 tablespoons ghee

1 cup jaggery

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or atta for the dough

Some ghee to bind the dough, about a tablespoon

Some water to bind the dough

Some whole wheat flour for rolling the dough

Method

1 Pressure cook the tuvar daal with 1 1/2 cups of water for 3 whistles.

2 Put the 2 tablespoons of ghee into a pan and when hot, put in the tuvar daal and stir. Then add the jaggery and stir, till the jaggery melts and is well mixed with the daal. Stir continuously for about 10 minutes or till the mixture thickens. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder and mix well. Let the mixture cool.

3 Make 10 to 12 round balls of equal size with the cooled mixture.

4 Now bind the dough with water, adding a little ghee, approximately 1 tablespoon and make a dough.

5 Take a piece of dough, roll it into a 4 inch circle with the help of some whole wheat flour, put a ball of the daal and jaggery mixture into the center, then pinch the edges of the dough together covering the round ball entirely, and with the rolling pin, roll the filled dough into a round 4 to 5 inch circle, not too thin or the filling with spill out of the dough.

6 Cook the bread or roti on a tawa or griddle till it has golden brown spots and smells cooked. Remove from fire and smear with ghee.

7 Cook the remaining rotis similarly.

Serve hot or warm.

 

 

 

Cabbage And Capsicum Salad

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This salad not only looks good, it tastes awesome too. The crunchy, delicious mix of raw cabbage and capsicum with sesame seeds and honey is too good to miss. And….it’s healthy too, which goes without saying really, veggies are so good for you, and salads definitely so.

Dont forget to wash the cabbage and capsicum before chopping them into thin strips, because the cabbage will get soggy if you wash it after chopping it.

You may also add some finely chopped green chillies if you enjoy your salad just that extra bit spicy.

Eat it as a complete salad meal when it will be enough for only you or eat it as a part of your meal with other food, and then it will serve 3 people.

Here is the recipe.

Cabbage And Capsicum Salad

Serves 3

Ingredients

300 gms finely chopped cabbage into thin strips

150 gms finely chopped capsicum into thin strips

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons honey

Juice of 1 1/2 to 2 lemons

Salt to taste

Method

1 Mix the cabbage and capsicum and chill for 45 minutes to an hour.

2 Remove the cabbage and capsicum from the refrigerator and add all the remaining ingredients and toss lightly.

3 Remove into a serving bowl and serve immediately.

You can play with this salad. Add some chopped toasted walnuts or almonds to the salad if you want some more crunch and added flavor.

Update: I’ve updated the quanties of cabbage and capsicum in the recipe as of 15th August 2018.

 

Fried Peanuts With Onions

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This is a true party snack. Those of us who have a defense background with our families in the armed forces will know it well. When dad was in the Air Force it was often served at parties with hard drinks for the officers and soft or hard drinks for the officers’ wives, which ever they preferred. We kids loved this dish too and so it became a family favorite.

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We made it for the parties we gave at home, and we did have so many parties in the Air Force. We entertained a lot. Our dads worked hard flying sorties at odd times of the day and night, and the armed forces wives were true uncut diamonds, with tremendous inner strength. Many a times the commanding officer would instruct his squadron pilots to fly off in the middle of the night on a mission that the families weren’t to be told about, but that was life in the Air Force.

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But these men and their ladies worked hard and played hard.  They were fearless and loved fiercely. The men touched the sky in glory, the ladies ran the homes, looked after the kids, sometimes all alone for long periods of time.

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Armed Forces kids are tough cookies too. They’ve travelled with their parents to places all over the country, small towns and big, and sometimes to foreign lands as well. They change schools every two or three years with every new posting and make new friends all the time.

So while it’s a tough life, it’s also a life full of adventure, sharing and caring- the camaraderie of the armed forces people is well known, with loads of love.

This I believe is the way with the people in the armed forces all over the world, not just in India. However having seen the pain as well first hand, I truly believe, that the world should dismantle its armies at the earliest and we should learn to coexist peacefully. There is no winner in war. War only brings grief and strife.

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Fried Peanuts With Onions

Makes  2 1/2 to 3 cups

Ingredients

3 tablespoons oil

200 gms or approx. 2 cups peanuts

1 finely chopped onion

2 finely chopped green chillies

salt to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

Some finely chopped fresh coriander

Method

1 Heat the oil on medium heat. Then lower the flame and lightly fry the peanuts. Do not let them burn. Take out from the pan and drain the peanuts of the oil on a paper napkin.

2 Put peanuts into a medium size bowl and add the onions, green chillies, salt and lemon juice and give the dish a good stir. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.

Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Green Chutney

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What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of chutney? Spicy 🌶! Maybe a bit sweet. And a bit tangy too. In Hindi we say aaaaah chatpata! Thika! Well in which ever language you say it, if you taste this chutney, you’re going to say…..delicious.

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This chutney is made of fresh coriander and mint leaves and is best had in sandwiches. Yes! This is the ideal sandwich chutney.

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Remember to wash everything that’s cut and chopped thoroughly, before it goes into the food processor.

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And don’t forget to dip a finger in it, when it’s ready (and when no one’s looking) and lick it!!!!

So here goes.

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Fresh Green Chutney

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups fresh coriander leaves and thin stems chopped

1 cup fresh mint leaves plucked

1 inch piece ginger

6 pods garlic

5 green chillies or more if you prefer

1 cup toasted peanuts

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon asofoetida

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon sugar

Juice of one lemon

Method

1 Put the coriander leaves, mint leaves, chopped ginger, garlic and chillies into a colander and wash thoroughly.

2 Into the food processor bowl, pour about 1/4 cup water. Into this put the turmeric, asofoetida, cumin seeds and salt. Now add the coriander mixture from the colander, and top it up with the peanuts and sugar and grind it. Add a little water if the chutney is too thick.

3. Remove from the food processor bowl, put it in a box, add lemon juice, give it a good stir, and there, it’s ready to eat!

You can store the chutney in a closed box in the chiller tray for 5 days.

Savvy Indian Cooking Tools

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When I googled ‘Indian Kitchens’ while writing this article, the page that popped up had articles on modern Indian kitchens and urban Indian kitchen design. Nowhere the old fashioned kitchens that we had in our parent’s times. However, kitchen tools haven’t changed much, except for a Teflon coating here and a plastic handle there, and the Indian housewife plays savvy magician with all these at her disposal.

There are so many cooking tools that I can’t explain all of them here but I’ll write about some of them.

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Rolling pin- Also known as the belan in Hindi, it is made of wood or plastic and used to roll chapatis, parathas and puris (Indian flatbreads eaten with meals). It’s better half is known as the chakla and is the base (made of marble, steel or aluminium) on which the flatbread is laid out and rolled.

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Tongs- Tongs or Chimta or Chimti, as they are called in Hindi, are used to lift hot vessels that don’t have heat resistant handles on them. Another lighter variation of tongs are also used to delicately flip chapatis on the gas stove and cook them. This flipping of chapatis is quite an art in itself.

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Slotted spoon- This kitchen tool is usually used to drain out fried puris or pakoras from hot oil, and it an important Indian kitchen essential.

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Tadka pan- This is a beautiful invention, a small pan with a long heat resistant handle attached to it which allows one to make tadka, or sauté spices to add to curries , dals and vegetables.

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Frying pan, wok, or kadhai– This is a deep bottomed pan, used to cook different dishes such as vegetables or biryani or even fry stuff.

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Thalis– Now a days most Indians eat out of plates made of glass, ceramic or melamine but on festivals they bring out their beautiful steel, silver or mixed metal thalis(plates) to eat meals from. These also have katoris which are about the size of 1/2 a cup each, to fill with dal and curries and sweet dishes.

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Spice box- The masala box is every housewife’s favourite companion in the kitchen. It has small katoris within it to store different everyday spices in it. It has a tightly fitted cover to keep the spices fresh.

There are many more kitchen essentials that play a part in the Indian housewife’s kitchen. Her kitchen is versatile, imaginative and a paradise to make magic while cooking for family and friends.