Date And Split Gram Lentils Halwa

It was my birthday the other day and I didn’t want to bake a cake for a change. Actually, I wanted to try out a new recipe that I’d read about in this little book by Nita Mehta called Taste Of Hyderabad.

Ahmedabad is a cauldron in the summers. On my birthday too, the temperature soared. We didn’t feel like stepping out in the sun, so we didn’t eat out, or shop, but instead I cooked a feast for family and friends. I made date and split gram lentils halwa, mango ice cream, paneer kulchas and sambharia, a mouthwatering Gujarati stuffed vegetable dish. Those who have eaten it will vouch for its yummyness and I’ll post its recipe on my blog one of these days. But first, the recipe of the delicious halwa.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Nita Mehta’s recipe, as I said. However, I used 500 gms seedless dates instead of 500 gms seeded dates in the recipe and it came out delicious. You may want to adjust the quantity of sugar in the recipe though.

Date And Split Gram Lentils Halwa

This sweet dish tastes delectable. Make it and your guests will drool!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Arabian
Keyword Vegetarian
Servings 8 persons
Author Nita Mehta

Ingredients

  • 500 gms seedless dates
  • 1 1/2 cups split gram lentils ( channe ki dal)
  • 1 1/2 litres milk
  • 1 1/2 cups clarified butter (ghee)
  • 2 drops screwpine (kewra) essence
  • 15 almonds blanched, peeled and slivered
  • A few pistachios chopped
  • 1 tspn cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar or to taste

Instructions

  • Was the split gram lentils or chaane ki dal and put them in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the milk and once it begins to boil cook on a low flame for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender and the milk has dried up. Stir every few minutes to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep the milk and lentils mixture aside to cool. Grind the mixture to a paste.
  • Wash the dates and boil in 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Remove from fire and let cool. Mash the dates with your hands.
  • Mix the mashed dates with the lentil paste.
  • Heat the ghee in a clean heavy bottom pan. Add the dates and lentil mixture and fry well. Check for sweetness and add sugar if required.
  • Add the kewra essence and cardamom powder and stir. Decorate with slivered almonds and chopped pistachios. Serve hot or warm.

Whole-wheat Flour Ladoos

When my 9 year old nephew was younger, he loved watching Chota Bheem (Chota Bheem which literally means little Bheem, is an animated TV series that focuses on the adventures of a boy named Bheem and his friends in the fictional kingdom of Dholakpur. In this series, Bheem and his friends are usually involved in protecting Raja Indravarma, the king of Dholakpur, and his kingdom from various evil forces. Sometimes they also help other kingdoms. It is one of the most popular animated series for children in India- Wikipedia). Chota Bheem loves ladoos and therefore so do all little kids who watch it, I don’t know of a single kid who watches Chota Bheem and doesn’t demand the energy giving ladoos that he eats. My nephew must have ladoos, the owner of the beauty parlor that I go to, her grand daughter must have ladoos too!

So this time I’m posting a recipe of ladoos made from whole-wheat flour that my nephew loves. We make ladoos from many different ingredients in India but atta or whole-wheat flour ladoos are delicious and easy to make.

Ladoos are also served as an offering to Lord Ganesha. He just loves them.

These whole wheat flour ladoos are popular among the Sindhi community in India.

You can buy whole-wheat flour and the other ingredients required to make these ladoos at any Indian store.

Here’s the recipe.

Whole-wheat Flour Ladoos

Kids and adults alike will love this Indian sweet.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Vegetarian
Servings 11 ladoos
Author Meenal Jhala

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup ghee or clarified butter
  • 1/2 cup ground sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts and raisins

Instructions

  • Melt ghee in a heavy bottomed pan on a medium flame. Roast the whole-wheat flour in the ghee on a slow flame for about 10 minutes or until it turns golden brown and a nice aroma emanates from it.
  • Remove from the stove and spread the roasted flour on a tray to cool.
  • Add the ground sugar and chopped nuts and raisins to the flour, mix well, and make table tennis sized balls with the mixture. You might need to apply some ghee on your hands to make the balls. There you go. The ladoos are ready to eat!

Almond Pudding

This recipe for almond pudding is a middle eastern one, and I got it from Anissa Helou’s book, Sweet Middle East. The pudding is subtly flavored with almonds, and garnished with pistas. It is delicious, to say the least, eaten at room temperature or better still, cold from the refrigerator. And oh! I added regular granulated sugar instead of organic cane sugar to the pudding.

It is a simple pudding to make but I love its fresh, delicate taste. I must admit I had no clue how it would taste before making it, I’d never tried making something like this before, but I was pleasantly surprised when the pudding was ready.

And, here’s an interesting tidbit. This pudding is called Kishk Al-Fuqara in Arabic. Fuqara means poor in Arabic, but as the author herself says, none of the ingredients in this dish are associated with poverty so how the name came about is a mystery.

We’ve all relished a variety of middle eastern savory dishes but the sweets and desserts of this region remain unknown to many of us. Try this dessert at home, whether you’re a novice, cooking expert, traveler, or just a TV food programme addict.

Almond Pudding

Make this delicately flavored almond pudding for an occasion or anytime. Your folks will love it.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Keyword Vegetarian
Servings 4 persons
Author Anissa Helou

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 60 gms or 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 40 gms or 1/4 cup rice flour or cornstarch
  • 60 gms or 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Some slivered or chopped pistachios

Instructions

  • Put 3 1/2 cups milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally-watch it toward the end so as not to let it boil over. As it starts to boil add the almond meal. Turn the heat to medium low and let simmer, stirring regularly, until the almond meal has softened, about 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix the rice flour or cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup milk, stirring until completely smooth. Slowly whisk the starch mixture into the simmering milk and cook, whisking all the time, for about 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
  • Add the sugar and continue whisking until completely dissolved. Taste and adjust the sugar to your liking. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
  • Pour the pudding into one large serving bowl or 4 to 6 individual bowls. Let cool. Serve at room temperature garnished with pistachios or refrigerate to serve chilled, garnishing the pudding just before serving.



Peanut Butter Cookies

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Have a fascination for peanuts, peanut butter and cookies too? This may be just the combination for you. Peanut butter cookies. Eat them warm or cool, but they won’t stay long in those airtight containers. Because they’re so damn delicious. With pieces of chunky peanuts, besides the peanut butter itself in the batter, these are irresistible.

Peanuts grow in Saurashtra, close to where I live in Ahmedabad, and every year in January when we go to the village we get back peanuts with us, peanuts in their covers, and peanuts the covers of which have been removed. So with so many peanuts, we make all kinds of dishes. We put them in poha( spiced flattened rice), we add them to dals, we fry them and eat them mixed with onions and spices and we make chutnies with them. And of course, peanut butter cookies! Life doesn’t get better than this.

I’ve chosen this recipe of peanut butter cookies from The Cookie And Biscuit Bible. The book is full of goodies you can make, from cookies and biscuits, to brownies and chocolates.

So here is the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 20-24

Ingredients

115 gms/ 1/2 cup butter at room temperature, diced

125 gms/ 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 egg

5 ml/ 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

225 gms/ 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

50 gms peanuts

115 gms/ 1 cup plain ( all purpose) flour

2.5 ml/ 1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate ( baking soda)

pinch of salt

Method

1 In a medium or large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer till light and fluffy.

2 In a small bowl mix the egg and vanilla essence, then mix into the butter mixture.

3 Stir in the peanut butter and peanuts and blend thoroughly.

4 Sift the flour, soda bicarbonate and salt into the mixture and stir gently to form a soft dough. Donot overmix.

5 Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes until firm.

6 Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F/ gas 4. Grease two baking sheets.

7 Take teaspoons full of the dough, make into balls, press flat into rounds and make a criss cross pattern with the tines of a fork. They should each be 6 cms in diameter. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until lightly colored.

8 Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cooled you can store them in an airtight container.

 

Fruit Mincemeat

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I got this recipe from a lovely cookbook in the British Library many years ago. The book was so good that I photocopied it from end to end but unfortunately didn’t copy the cover page. Strangely enough nowhere inside was the name of the book written. So I’m at a complete loss as to who the author of this wonderful fruit mincemeat recipe is.

The recipe is not very boozy and although the original recipe had brandy in it I put rum instead. I’ve also changed the quantities of some of the fresh and tinned fruits in it.

This makes an excellent gift for someone who likes to bake. You can make mince pies, marzipan mince tarts, mince muffins: the delicious list is endless. Fruit mincemeat is usually made at Christmas time but since here in Ahmedabad all the fresh fruits are still in season, I decided to give it a go.

So here is the recipe.

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Fruit Mincemeat

Makes 1 kg

Ingredients

450 gms mixed dried fruit such as raisins, candied peel, candied ginger, cranberries, currants

25 gms glacé cherries, chopped

25 gms blanched almonds, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, ground cloves and mixed spice

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and half orange

55 gms soft brown sugar

55 gms butter

55 gms tinned pineapple, chopped

1 banana, chopped

1 dessert apple, grated

100 gms grapes, halved

2 tablespoons rum

Method

1 Put the dried fruit, cherries, almonds, spices and zest and juice into a mixing bowl and leave to soak for 2 to 3 hours.

2 Stir in the sugar.

3 Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and on high heat toss the fresh and tinned fruit for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.

4 Mix the the cooled fresh and tinned fruit with the dried fruit. Add the rum and give it a good stir.

5 Cover and store in the refrigerator for no more than a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

 

Walnut Marzipan Chocolate

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I was delighted that Rachana and Adi were coming home for the first time. I had only met Rachana at my aunt’s place, which was like her second home. My aunt, who is no more and she were dear friends. My aunt and I were very close too. She is the inspiration behind my love of baking. So when Rachana said she wanted to come home with her hubby I was happy. She got some prasad, homemade sheera for mom and dad and me, it was so tasty. And we had Bhel puri for dinner and then coffee and chocolates afterwards.

Here’s the recipe of the chocolates I made as an after dinner treat. They’re yum, if I may say so myself. You’ve got to make them at home.

Makes 10

Ingredients

150 gms marzipan ( you can take the marzipan recipe from my blog)

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts + 10 halves for decoration

150 gms melted dark chocolate

Method

1 Mix the chopped walnuts into the marzipan.

2 Shape the marzipan into a 9 inch log.

3 With a sharp oiled knife chop the log into 10 even pieces.

4 Dip each piece into the melted chocolate covering the marzipan completely.

5 Before the chocolate covering dries stick a walnut half onto the marzipan. Leave to dry

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week but they will be gone long before that!

 

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

almond nut organic unshelled
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.

 

Candied Walnuts In A Jiffy

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We’re getting into the Diwali spirit here in India and then Christmas will be at our doorsteps in December. Time to celebrate! Today I’m posting an easy and delicious recipe. Candied walnuts. These are great as a Diwali or Christmas gift. They’re even good to munch on during the festivities or to add to a salad or eat topped onto ice cream. The recipe is inspired by the one in the blog Natasha’s Kitchen

When I was in the fifth standard in St. Mary’s School in Poona, one of my friends used to get walnuts mixed with sugar in her tiffin and share them with me. I loved eating this terrific combination. My friend’s mother packed this yummilicious tiffin and she knew I shared it with her, so she would send enough for the two of us. I was in boarding school and this was magic.

That’s where I got the idea for candied walnuts from. So I was thrilled to find this recipe in Natasha’s Kitchen. Easy, fast, it only takes about five minutes to make, and yummy. No egg whites to coat with, no baking, nothing, it’s so simple. And …..it works out much cheaper than store bought candied walnuts. And… of course, Homemade!

Just remember to keep your kitchen tools handy while making these because the walnuts could burn if you’re not watching.

You can store the caramelized walnuts for about a week in an airtight container, but they’ll disappear very quickly.

You can use this recipe to candy pecans too.

Here’s the recipe

Candied Walnuts

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts quarters

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon white unsalted butter

Method

1 Heat a skillet to medium heat. Put the walnut quarters, sugar and butter into the skillet and stir continuously until the butter and sugar melt and the walnut pieces are well coated. This will take approximately 5 minutes. Make sure you stir the walnuts otherwise they will burn.

2 Once coated with the sugar, quickly remove them and put them on parchment or baking paper, and immediately separate the walnuts. Do this fast or you will be left with a lump of sugar coated walnuts.

3 Put them in a bowl to cool and eat them right away or store in an airtight container.