Posted in Sweets and desserts

Til Chikki

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Yes. I know what you’re going to say. That this is a winter dish and the winters are over in India and summer is setting in fast. But I had to post the recipe of Til Chikki or Sesame Seed and Jaggery Snaps first, because they taste so good, and second, and even more important, they are amazingly easy to make. And yes, they’re oh so melt in the mouth!

Both jaggery and sesame seeds are easily available in India all year round, and if you live in another country, do go to the Indian store and get yourself these two ingredients.

Chaula Shah, a family friend of ours, gave me the recipe. One wonderful day she sent us some of this chikki and I was totally blown away. I had to learn how to make it and put the recipe on the blog, so when she agreed to demonstrate the recipe I was delighted. We made the recipe in her kitchen and I was pleasantly surprised when she said, “ oh, it will take just 10 minutes to make”.

Til Chikki or Sesame Seed and Jaggery Snaps

Makes 25-30 pieces

500 gms sesame seeds

500 gms jaggery

Oil or ghee for greasing

1 Run the sesame seeds through a sieve so any dirt particles are removed. Put them into a deep bottomed pan over medium heat and stir lightly till heated through. Do not let them change colour or burn. Remove the seeds from the pan and keep aside.

2 Put the jaggery in the pan and heat on medium heat till all the jaggery melts. Stir to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and mix the sesame seeds into the jaggery.

3. Take a rimmed steel thali or a large plate with a 2 cm rim. Grease the thali or plate with oil or ghee. Now turn the sesame seed and jaggery mixture onto the plate and make the surface even with the back of a steel katori or a smooth bottomed bowl.

4 Let the mixture cool for 20-30 minutes. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container, that is, if the snaps stay that long, because everyone is going to love eating them.

 

Posted in Salads

Tanoreen Potato Salad

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This salad is from the Middle East. A region known for its warmth and hospitality. It is made with olive oil and olives and other delicious yet easily available ingredients that make it taste exotic. Certainly like nothing I’d tasted before, especially in an Indian salad.

The recipe is from Rawia Bishara’s cookbook Olives, Lemons and Zaatar. Rawia is a Palestinian Arab, now settled in New York and owns a popular restaurant there called Tanoreen. She opened her restaurant in 1998, as a tribute to her mother who she says was not rigidly authentic in her cooking and often bent the rules with her creativity. This she admires greatly in her mother, and at Tanoreen she celebrates tradition and embraces change in her cooking. She says “ Cooking is so very personal- use your imagination, intuition, and most importantly, taste buds”.

Tanoreen Potato Salad

Serves 6

15 small red potatoes in 2.5 cms dice

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon sea salt

120 ml extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

80 gms chopped fresh leaf parsley

6 spring onions, green parts only, chopped

30 gms finely diced green pepper

30 gms finely diced red pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground paprika

Garnish

50 gms chopped green olives

3 tablespoons chopped coriander

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook over a medium-high heat until a cocktail stick slides easily into a piece but doesn’t cause the potato to fall apart, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain, then rinse under cold water. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet to cool.

Combine the garlic and salt in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic into a paste. Add the oil and lemon juice with the parsley, spring onions, green pepper and red peppers, mint, cumin, black pepper and paprika; mix to combine. Tip in the potatoes and using a wooden spoon, toss gently until thoroughly coated with the dressing. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the olives and coriander.

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Cranberry Orange Walnut Cake

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I wanted to make the most of the orange season before it left us so this time I’ve baked a cake with what else but…. orange. The orange has its origins in China and India. I love using orange peel in any form, whether it be zest or candied peel, and I think it’s a colossal waste to throw away orange peel into the dustbin.

This cake also has cranberries in it which worked well for me because I had frozen cranberries which I wished to use. Cranberries are native to North America. They grow wild on long running vines in hogs and marshes.

The cake is from the baking book Martha Stewart’s Cakes, and it turned out delicious. Her recipe is for 9 small cakes but you can bake one large cake too. Here I’ve made the one large cake recipe instead of the one for 9 small cakes.

I love cooking with fruits, and it’s great cooking with seasonal fruits. In Ahmedabad, the winter is over and summer has almost set in. This means we don’t have the luxury of winter fruits and vegetables any more and the produce that grows in the summer season is much costlier. The vegetable sellers are no longer generous with free bunches of fresh coriander, chillies and ginger like in the winter months. But of course you have the mango, the king of Indian fruits, which is a summer fruit, but more about that in another post.

So let’s get on with this terrific recipe. Incidentally I do all the beating of the butter and eggs with a fork, the old fashioned way, and although it’s a bit of hard work, the result is no less fantastic!

Cranberry Orange Walnut Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan.

3/4 cup heavy cream.

Finely grated zest of one orange, plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 350.F. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, dust with flour tapping out the excess. Combine cream, orange juice, and vanilla in a small bowl.

2 Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3 With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, orange zest, and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of the cream mixture; beat until combined. Gently fold in cranberries and walnuts.

4 Put batter into prepared pan; smooth top with an offset spatula. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until the cake is golden, and a cake tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and then turn out the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Posted in Vegetables

Kacha Pacca Cabbage

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Kacha Pacca Cabbage or Cabbage Vegetable is a quick to make, easy, nutritious and tasty dish made especially by people from Kutch and Gujarat. It can be made spicy by adding a lot of green chillies. You can also garnish the dish with fresh grated coconut.

Mom used to make this when we were kids and we devoured it with relish. We ate it with hot ghee (clarified butter) chapatis.

The asafoetida in this recipe gives it a delicious taste. Asafoetida originated in Persia. The Mughals cultivated it in India to provide their cooks with a ready supply. The Indian vegetarian population took to hing as it was called in India, with great relish. When cooked in oil it produced a garlicky flavour which was loved by devout Hindus who didn’t eat onions and garlic in their food.

Kacha Pacca Cabbage

Serves 3-4

500 gms cabbage

3 tablespoons oil

3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon asafoetida

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

1 to 2 green chillies (optional)

Garnish

Some fresh grated coconut (optional)

1 Shred the cabbage. Chop the chillies into small pieces if using. Keep aside.

2 Heat the oil in a Kadhai (deep bottomed pan). Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the asafoetida, then quickly add the shredded cabbage.

3 Now cook the cabbage for 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, then add the sugar, salt to taste and finely cut chillies if adding, and cook for another minute.

Garnish with fresh grated coconut if you like and serve hot with hot puffed phulkas or ghee chapatis.

 

Posted in Drinks

Thandai

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Holi hai! Spring is in the air, the crops have been harvested, and its time for love, friendship and forgiveness, and the mending of broken relationships. Bring out your pichkaris (water guns) and your water balloons and your colours and get ready to have fun. But, here is what I wish to say. Be gentle, don’t hurt or harm, and be considerate to people who don’t enjoy being smeared with colour. And importantly, save water; water is a precious resource.

What is Holi without Thandai? The delicious drink is among the many eats and drinks customarily had on Holi. This recipe for Thandai is from the Milkmaid Gold Collection of 101 Desserts, a lovely, rare book that is from my cookbook collection and which I don’t think is available in markets any longer. Here is the recipe.

Thandai

Serves 12

1/2 tin Milkmaid

1 1/2 litre milk

8 to 10 soaked and peeled almonds

5 to 6 peppercorns

3 to 4 cardamom pods

2 teaspoons fennel seeds or sauf

1 teaspoon poppy seed essence or khus khus essence

Crushed ice

Garnish

Rose petals

1 Grind soaked and peeled almonds, cardamom and fennel seeds to a fine paste. Blend with other ingredients till well mixed. Strain.

2 Half fill each glass with crushed ice and top up with the above mixture.

3 Serve garnished with rose petals.

You can use 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds or khus khus in place of khus essence.

 

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Classic Chocolate Brownies

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‘Tis the season for celebration! Day before yesterday was Ahmedabad’s 607th birthday. Today is my sister’s birthday. And we’ll all be splashing colours on each other celebrating Holi the day after tomorrow.

So, what better way to have the time of our lives than eat something deliciously gooey and chocolatey? This recipe of Classic Chocolate Brownies is just that….loaded with delicious chocolate. And of course, how can you not add walnuts, when you make classic chocolate brownies?

This recipe is taken from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible by Catherine Atkinson with recipes by Joanna Farrow and Valerie Barrett. The book is an excellent resource for brownies, biscuits, bars….the works. It has over 400 recipes and more than a 1000 photographs. I’ve tried many of the recipes in here, they’re very reliable.

The recipe below is my go to recipe every time my family and me want a chocolate fix. So here it is.

Classic Chocolate Brownies

Makes 24

225 gms/8oz dark (semisweet) chocolate

225 gms/8oz/ 1 cup butter diced

3 eggs

225 gms/8 oz/generous 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar

30 ml/2 tablespoons strong black coffee

75 gms/3oz/2/3 cup self raising flour

pinch of salt

150 gms/5oz/1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts

5 ml/1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 375 degrees F/ Gas 5. Grease and line a 18 x 28 cm/ 7 x 11 in tin (pan). Break the chocolate into squares and place in a heatproof bowl with the butter.

2 Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and leave for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring ocassionally until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and then leave the chocolate mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

3 In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and coffee, until smooth, then gradually beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.

4 Sift the flour and salt over the mixture, then fold in together with the walnuts and vanilla essence.

5 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 35 minutes, or until just firm to the touch in the centre. ( Don’t bake it for any longer than this as the mixture will be soft under the crust, but will firm up as it cools. Over cooking gives it a dry result).

6 Leave the brownies to cool in the tin, then turn onto a board, and cut into squares using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing action.

 

Posted in One dish meals, Snacks

Aloo Poha

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Aloo Poha or Flattened Rice With Potatoes And Spices is the breakfast dish for Indians. It is light and yet very tasty, and you’ll find carts selling this bright yellow dish sprinkled with coriander and grated fresh coconut and sometimes pomegranate seeds at every street corner.

This recipe here, is my mom, Rohini’s. And I promise you it turns out delicious.

Aloo Poha
Flattened rice with potatoes.

Serves 3 -4

10 fresh curry leaves

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

4 medium sized onions

3 medium sized potatoes

A nice pinch asafoetida

1 level teaspoon turmeric powder plus 1/2 teaspoon

1 level teaspoon salt plus 1/2 teaspoon

6 tablespoons oil

300 gms poha or flattened rice

1 teaspoon sugar or sugar to taste

1 lemon cut into quarters

Garnish

Some chopped coriander

Some grated fresh coconut (optional)

Some pomegranate seeds (optional)

1 Chop the onions and potatoes into small pieces. Keep half the chopped onions aside.

2 Take a kadhai or deep bottomed pan, put the oil to heat. Put the cumin and mustard seeds and fry them for a second. Add the fresh curry leaves. When they start to sputter, add half the chopped onions. Then add the chopped potatoes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, add 1 teaspoon of salt, give the pan a good stir, splash a little water into the pan and then cover and let cook. Add a little water on the lid of the pan while cooking the onion and potato spice mix.

3 Meanwhile, very lightly wash the poha in a colander. Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt to the poha and sprinkle the sugar onto it.

4 Check to see if the onion potato mix is cooked. When done, remove the pan from the fire, add the poha and stir gently to mix. Put it back on the fire, let it heat for 2 minutes.

Serve hot garnished with the remaining chopped onions, chopped coriander, grated fresh coconut, and lemon quarters.