Jamun Raita

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This is the Jamun season. Jamuns are sweet and sour but delicious still. They’re also very good for diabetes.

We are three sisters. My youngest sister who is eleven years younger than me wasn’t even born when we went about our daily adventures, climbing jamun trees in the neighbour’s garden to pluck juicy, plump jamuns.  We didn’t give a fig even when we were bitten by big black bully ants who were after the same mouthwatering feast that we were. My youngest sister did miss all the fun though!

These days this fruit is so expensive that you can buy only a few at a time and enjoy the fruit occasionally.

So here I am with the recipe of jamun raita inspired by a recipe from Tarla Dalal. It’s cooling, tasty and healthy. The raita can be eaten with hot ghee chapatis, parathas, with pulao, or even as a dish all by itself.

Jamun Raita

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 cup jamuns chopped into small pieces

2 cups curd

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon finely cut fresh coriander

Chilli powder to taste

Salt to taste

Method

1 Beat the curd and add a little water if the curd is too thick.

2 Add all the ingredients into the curd and gently mix.

Serve cold.

 

 

 

Seviyan

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The moon has been spotted in the sky calling for the end of the fasting of the holy month of Ramzan. Eid Mubarak! The festivities begin for Eid and most Indians and Pakistanis  celebrate by making seviyan in their homes.

When we were kids in the Air Force camp in Pune, we had Muslim neighbours. They had two kids, Jaffer and Zainab. We always enjoyed seviyan in their home for Eid. Jaffer was a great entertainer. No wonder, at the time, he wanted to grow up and join the circus.

So today, as you may have guessed I’m doing a seviyan recipe. Seviyan is made in as many ways as there are families who enjoy it. This recipe turns out decadent. The saffron gives it a lovely warm yellow hue and my dad loves it.

Here is the recipe.

Seviyan

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

A pinch of saffron

1 tablespoon hot milk

2 tablespoons ghee

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

5 to 6 cloves

50 gms broken vermicelli

1/2 tin condensed milk

1/2 litre milk

Garnish

Some slivered almonds

Some chopped cashew nuts

Some raisins

Some rose petals

Method

1 Soak the safron in the tablespoon of milk for half an hour.

2 Pour the ghee into a pan (kadhai) and when it is hot, put the cardamom powder and cloves and fry until fragrant. On medium heat, fry the seviyan in the ghee until it turns golden brown. Do not let it burn.

3 Boil the milk. Turn the flame to low. Put the fried seviyan into the milk. Add the condensed milk and gently stir till everything is well mixed. Cook for 4-5 minutes on a low flame.

4 Add the saffron milk.

5 Remove from heat,  garnish with almonds, cashew nuts, raisins and rose petals.

Serve hot or cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exotic Watermelon Juice

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Watermelons originated in Africa. They grow in abundance in India and we simply feast on them in the summers in Ahmedabad. You see watermelon carts at every nook and corner of the city. Most of these are the seeded variety.

Ripe watermelons should feel heavy to the touch and sound hollow when tapped and their rind should not be bruised or scratched. Choose those with symmetrical stripes.

I know somebody who makes kofta curry with watermelon rind. The rind can also be pickled. Does anyone know how to pickle watermelon rind?

Mark Twain was very fond of watermelon and called it the food of angels.

Did you know watermelon is an aphrodisiac? It is the rind of the watermelon that possesses most of the aphrodisiac qualities but isn’t the red of the watermelon in itself so sexy?

This recipe of watermelon juice should be had chilled. It’s totally tempting! Mom made it for one of my birthday parties and my friends devoured it. They said they’d never had something so refreshing. Also, it’s really simple to make.

Here’s the recipe.

Watermelon Juice

Makes 3 – 4 glasses

Ingredients

1 1/2 kg or 3.3 lb watermelon, rind removed and chopped into large pieces

2 1/2 cups cold water

3 tablespoons sugar or 1/4 cup sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

A pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

5 pepper corns

1/2 inch piece ginger, chopped

8-10 fresh mint leaves

Method

1 Put the cold water into the bowl of the electric mixer. Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, cardamom powder, pepper corns, ginger, fresh mint leaves, and add just about enough of the chopped watermelon so that the electric mixer doesn’t overflow when you switch it on. Pulse the ingredients for 3-4 minutes. Remove the juice and strain it into a medium sized container. Pulse the remaining watermelon pieces. Strain into the container with the rest of the juice.

2 Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Mango Fool

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When I read Tiffin by Rukmini Srinivas, it took me back to my childhood in the Air Force camp at Lohegaon in Pune, where my friend Silky and I enjoyed soft, spongy idlis with spicy saambar and gun powder chutney, which her mom used to lovingly cook for us. I adore gun powder chutney, and although MTR and some other companies from the South sell it these days, it’s never come close to what aunty made for us. Those were wonderful times, without a care in the world, and Silky and I are still friends, 30 years later.

Coming back to Rukmini Srinivas and her book Tiffin, the book is part memoir, part cookbook. She dedicates the book to her daughters.
A lot of the conversation in the book revolves around food and she writes with amazing grace and aplomb. She, like many others of her generation, tells stories beautifully. She’s met R.K Narayan, knows him, and has written about her friendship with him. In the end, you get the feeling, she’s a lady with a golden heart. It’s a warm, friendly book that I couldn’t put down once I started.
I’m going to post a recipe from her book called Mango Fool. It’s made with the juice and pulp of raw mangoes and tastes sweet and sour. Have it cold out of the refrigerator. I pressure cooked the mangoes to pulp them.
This is the right time to make Mango Fool because soon we won’t have raw mangoes in season any more.
Mango Fool
Serves 5
Ingredients
2 medium size sour raw mangoes
1 cup sugar or jaggery or brown sugar; more if you want the drink sweeter
A pinch of salt
1/2 inch piece of raw ginger, finely grated
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
A few strands of saffron
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
Method
1 Boil 4 cups of water in a deep saucepan. Gently drop in the whole, unpeeled raw mangoes. Boil them till very soft. Leave to cool.
2 With your fingers squeeze out all the juice and pulp, discarding the stone and peel. Begin squeezing with the peel. Strain.
3 Return the juice with the pulp to the saucepan and add 2 cups water, more if you prefer a thinner drink. Add the sugar, salt and ginger and bring to a boil. Turn the stove off. Stir in the cardamom powder and saffron. Cover, cool and refrigerate.

Peanut Chocolate Brownies

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The irresistible combination of chocolate, peanut butter and peanuts baked into delicious brownies. These brownies taste luscious, so yum, and unlike walnut-chocolate brownies, they have peanuts in them, which are easily available in Asian food stores.

Bite into one of these brownies and you’ll believe every word I say. They’re like a super love song, like good music, luscious, dreamy, gooey, just so good.

The largest grower of peanuts in the world is China. India comes a close second and then comes America. Although peanuts are classified as nuts they are actually legumes. They are healthy and very nutritious.

These brownies are from a recipe by Chetna Makan from her book The Cardamom Trail. Chetna is a NIFT Mumbai pass out, who relocated to Britain and even participated in the Great British Bake-off 2014 where she reached the semi finals. She’s now oh so popular for her book which treats you to tastes from the east; inspiration from Indian food.

I have used an Amul 150 gm dark chocolate bar for the chocolate in this recipe. It contains 55% cocoa solids and although most recipes asks for 70% cocoa solids in the chocolate, these bars work very well for me. They are easily available in Amul parlours in Ahmedabad and I keep a stock of them.

Remember, self raising flour is nothing but baking powder added to plain flour (Maida). Add 1 teaspoon baking powder to 110 gms of plain flour. There, you have self raising flour!

Here is the recipe

Peanut Chocolate Brownies

Makes 20 small squares

Ingredients

200 gms (7oz) golden caster sugar

200 gms (7oz) light muscovado sugar

4 large eggs

150 gms (5 1/2 oz) plain dark chocolate

110 gms (4 oz) crunchy peanut butter

110 gms (4oz) unsalted butter

110 gms (4oz) self raising flour

110 gms (4oz) roasted peanuts lightly crushed

Vanilla ice cream to serve  (optional)

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, 350 degrees F, Gas mark 4. Grease a 22-23 cm(8 1/2-9 in) square brownie tin and line it with baking paper.

2 In a large bowl whisk the sugars and eggs together with an electric whisk for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is pale and creamy.

3 Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl, add the peanut butter and butter and set the bowl over a pan of steaming water until the mixture has melted, ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water beneath it. Pour the chocolate -nut mixture into the egg- and – sugar mixture and stir. Sift the flour into the same bowl, then add the crushed peanuts and mix well.

4 Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is crisp but the middle is still a bit gooey. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out. Cut into squares. The brownies can be enjoyed fresh when out of the oven (with vanilla ice cream) or cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khaman Kakdi

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Today’s recipe is delicious as well as healthy. Khaman Kakdi or cucumber salad is made in Gujarati and Maharashtrian homes. It’s an ideal summer dish made with cucumbers, peanuts and coconut.

Cucumbers which contain 95% water help hydrate the body and keep it youthful and fresh looking.

We eat a lot of salads at home. This recipe is one of my favourite salad recipes. And although it’s easy to make it tastes so good that you can impress your guests with it. Khaman Kakdi is also eaten when people fast and is called faraal food.

Serve this dish with an Indian meal. You may also want to eat it as just a salad.

Khaman Kakdi

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

3 medium sized cucumbers

3/4 teaspoon salt or salt to taste

1/2 teacup peanuts

2 tablespoons freshly grated coconut

1 teaspoon roughly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Some finely chopped coriander

1 -2 finely chopped green chillies (optional)

Method

1 Chop the cucumbers into cubes. Add the salt. Gently squeeze out the water. Keep aside.

2 Roast the peanuts till they are fragrant and have spots on them. Then coarsely grind them. Mix the peanuts with the cubed cucumbers.

3. Add the freshly grated coconut, coarsely ground pepper, sugar, and lemon juice to the peanut and cubed cucumber mix. Give the dish a good mix.

4. Sprinkle with finely chopped coriander and green chillies. Serve immediately or after keeping in the fridge for an hour.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Pudding

 

 

A2A84CE2-1652-456E-B48F-40D9C2F1B5F1I love baking, cooking and making delicious desserts. In fact I have a sweet tooth and like eating sweet stuff too. I started baking and cooking years ago, when I was perhaps 10 or 12, when I made my first donuts for the family. Ever since, there’s been no looking back. I enjoy cooking for family and friends, and especially old people and small kids, although all the desserts I make wouldn’t classify as kid’s treats. But this one sure does.

Chocolate is the ultimate treat for the senses. Whether you’re a child or an adult, chocolate is plain irresistible. And what if you have loads of great tasting unsweetened chocolate in your chocolate pudding; and of course the pudding doesn’t taste bitter. I promise this pudding will be enjoyable for the whole family. My family and friends just loved it!

Use good quality unsweetened  chocolate, that enhances the taste of the pudding.

This recipe is from one of my favourite food writers and chefs, David Lebovitz. He lives in Paris and is passionate about food, culture and travel. He also runs a fantastically successful blog and his writing is fun and sometimes cheeky, but mostly a whiff of fresh air. The recipe is called Chocolate Pudding, what else, and it is taken from The Great Book Of Chocolate.

I didn’t garnish my puddings but they still turned out yum!

Here’s the recipe.

Chocolate Pudding

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups (500 ml) milk

4 ounces (115 gms) unsweetened chocolate chopped

6 tablespoons (75 gms) sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons chocolate extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (250 ml) whipped cream

3 tablespoons shaved bittersweet chocolate

Method

1 In a small saucepan, warm the milk and the chocolate until the chocolate has melted. ( It may not be completely smooth)

2 In a medium saucepan make a slurry by whisking together the sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks. Gradually whisk the warm milk and chocolate into the slurry.

3 Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the pudding thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the chocolate extract.

4 Divide the pudding among 4 custard cups and chill thoroughly before serving.

5 Garnish the puddings with a dollop of whipped cream and the shaved bittersweet chocolate.