Thursday, September 18, 2014

Avalakki laddu- Beaten rice and coconut laddu

I am back with another sweet treat. This is another one of those recipes that has been there in my drafts for more than month now. I had made these beaten rice and coconut laddus for Janmashtami. As it is customary to make dishes using beaten rice for Janamshtami, I chose to make these laddus instead of the Avalakki payasa that I make every year. I am glad I chose to make something different this  year because these sweetened balls turned out absolutely delicious.

I made these laddus using the same recipe that I use to make the rava laddus. The only difference is, I substituted the semolina with the beaten rice. Taste wise, these laddus were not much different from the rava laddus. They tasted just as delicious. But texture wise, I felt they were slightly coarser than the Rava laddus.

If you are looking for sweet treat, that can be made in minutes, then these laddus are just for you. These sweetened balls can be made within minutes and still taste delicious. Apart from that, I feel that the rava and the beaten rice laddus are slightly healthier than the deep fried sweets. So those who are planning their Dassehra or Diwali menu, I suggest you consider adding these laddus. It is sure to delight your guests.

Beaten rice and coconut laddu recipe:
Preparation time: 15mins
Cooking time- 10min
Makes- 15-20 laddus
Shelf life- 4-5 days

Ghee- 1/4 cup
Poha or beaten rice- 250gms
chopped Cashewnuts- 3tbsp
Raisins- 2tbsp
Finely grated dry coconut- 1/2 cup
Sugar- 1 cup
Powdered cardamom powder- 3/4tsp
Warm Milk- 1/4 cup or as required

  • Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a wok and dry roast the beaten rice till golden brown in color. Take off the heat and let it cool completely. Grind the cooled beaten rice to a fine powder and keep aside.
  • Heat another teaspoon of ghee in the same wok and fry the chopped cashew nuts till light brown in color. Add the raisins and fry till they balloon up. Remove the fried nuts and raisins from the heat and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining ghee in the same wok. Add the powdered beaten rice, dried coconut and  sugar and mix well. 
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the fried cashew nuts and raisins and the powdered cardamom.
  • Sprinkle the warm milk all over the beaten rice mixture and mix well. Shape the mixture into ping pong sized balls whilst the it is still warm.
  • Store in air tight containers and consume within four to five days

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mango kesar pista Kulfi

Right now I am suffering from a condition called the "writer's block". I have been trying to post this recipe for almost a week now and all I have been doing is typing a few sentences only to hit the delete button. For the past few days, my mind seems to have gone blank. I am not sure if it is just me or it has got to do something with the ever-changing weather in Nairobi. 

The month of September marks the season of the short rains in Nairobi. Usually, by this time of the year, despite all the short rains, the mercury starts to rise and you can feel the summer around the corner. But this year, the "short rains" turned into a down pour and turned the Nairobi skies into depressing grey. It was like that for the following days to come. The mercury dropped drastically and the town was enveloped in fog. I felt like my energy had just disappeared along with the sun. I had never felt so low in my entire life. All I could do was just curl up in a blanket.

The only good thing that seemed to happen during that time was this Kulfi. Summer and the sun may be on the way out, but making Kulfi isn't. Since the weather was so depressing, I wanted something comforting and something that would divert my mind from the cold. There were these "not so sweet" mangos, a can of condensed milk and some cream that was waiting to be used up. So I decided to put all of these together and make this Kulfi. 

Kulfi or the "Indian ice cream" was a favorite during my growing years. My baby sister and I would often indulge on these Kulfis on our way back from school. I remember the Kulfis used to cost a Rupee but the flavor and the taste was unmatched. 
Traditionally, the Kulfi is made by boiling the milk till it is reduced to half the volume. Cream, sweeteners and other flavors are then added to the already calorie rich milk and then frozen immediately. There is no churning required when making kulfi.

The beauty of this dessert is that, it can be made in a hundred different ways and it can still end up delicious. If mangos are not available, try substituting it with strawberry or lychees. But if you are craving for a kulfi with fall flavors then try making this with carrot puree. I hear that it tastes delicious.

As I mentioned earlier, Kulfi is made my evaporating milk on a low heat till reduced to half. But if you are pressed for time, or you just want to make this dessert  quickly, then just substitute the milk with with a can of evaporated milk. I chose to make this dessert the hard way because I desperately needed that distraction. All the hard work and toil finally paid off when both the husband and the daughter completely loved this frozen treat. The delighted expression on Purvi's face was testimonial enough that this dessert was a great success. To me, just looking at that delighted face was heart warming and truly blissful!! 

Mango kesar pista Kulfi recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 1hr+ freezing time
Serves- 8-10 people

Full fat Milk- 1-1/4ltrs
Cream- 150ml
Condensed milk- 1 can
Rice flour- 1tbsp+3tbsp milk to dissolve
Almond meal- 3tbsp
Sugar- 4tbsp
Pulp of three medium sized mangos- approximately 2-2/12 cups
Saffron- 1/2 tsp saffron soaked in 2tsps of milk.
Green cardamom- 6-8 crushed to a fine powder
Chopped pistachios- 2tbsp

  • Mix the rice flour with 3tbsp of milk and set aside. 
  • Dissolve the saffron in 2tsps of warm milk and keep aside.
  • Take the milk in a thick bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame and allow the milk to simmer on a low flame, stirring from time to time till the milk is reduced to half the original quantity (approximately 600ml)
  • Stir in the rice flour mixture and cook till the mixture thickens. 
  • Turn off the heat and add the condensed milk, cream, almond meal, sugar, saffron mixture, cardamom powder and mango pulp and mix well to combine.
  • Stir in the chopped pistachios, mix well and pour the kulfi mixture into the moulds and freeze overnight or till it sets.
  • To unmould, allow the kulfi to thaw outside the refrigerator for a few mins, then insert a skewer or a fork into the center of kulfi to pull it out.
  • Serve it as is or along with some slivered almonds on the top.
  • I had to use sugar because the mangos were not very sweet. If the mangos that you are using is sweet enough, then the quantity of the sugar can be reduced or omitted altogether.
  • The milk can be substituted with evaporated milk to assemble the kulfi quickly.
  • The rice flour can be substituted with equal quantity of corn starch.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Akkitari upittu or Kadubu- steamed cream of rice dumplings

I happend to compose this post during the last week of July. But before I could complete it, I got so involved with the festival preparations, Purvi's school and other things, that hitting the "publish" button took a back seat. I was so consumed with other non-food related activities, that I did not realize the month of August pass by. As I am typing this post, I feel that September is in a hurry to whizz away well.

Now coming to where I had left off, The Akkitari Kadubu is a classic Kannada dish  that is almost like Upma. Only, it is twice cooked. First, the cream of rice is cooked with the tempering till it reaches the Upma consistency and then it is shaped in small balls and steam cooked for the second time.

The akki tari Upma and Kadubu tastes best if made with Avarekaalu or Hyacinth beans. If hyacinth beans are not available, then it can be substituted with equal amount of peas, pigeon peas or vegetables like carrot and french beans. 

This delicious mildly sweet and mildly spicy dish almost always takes me back to the village that I had visited as a little girl. I must have been eight or nine years old when we visited this quaint little village called EG halli (halli means village in Kannada). The purpose of our trip to this village was to see my paternal grand father's elder brother. I remember he was 90 plus years old and he was living in a rustic old mansion like house. Apart from that, I remember there were these teenage girls who used  travel to a town nearby to attend school. To me, that was an astonishing fact. Because, Prior to that, I had never heard of kids traveling to a different place just to attend school. Apart from this, one memory that has really stuck in my mind is the memory of the Akki tari kadubu that the lady of the house had made for us. The aroma of the avarekaalu (hyacinth bean) and clarified butter had sent my senses spinning. I think that was the moment when a upma hater like me turned into a Upma lover. Even after all these years, the scene of the Upittu being cooked on a rustic chulha (the brick and mortar stove) is still vivid in my mind. 

It's funny how you connect food with a particular time and place. Chances are, If it wasn't for this Akki tari KAdubu, I wouldn't have remembered this village or the rustic mansion or the grand old man who lived there. Do you have a food memory? IS there a dish from your childhood that takes you back to that time and place? Let me know in the comment section.

Akkitari upittu or Kadubu recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4

Akki tari or Cream of rice- 120gm or 1 cup
Togari kaalu or pigeon peas- 1 cup, par boiled
Oil or ghee- 2tbsp
Mustrard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp, coarsely crushed
Bengal gram or chana dal- 1tsp
Black gram or Urad dal- 1tsp
Asafetida- a large pinch
Curry leaves- 8-10
Green chili- 1, finale chopped
Water- 2-1/2 cups
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Freshly grated Coconut- 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves- 3-4 tbsp

  • Dry roast the cream of rice till fragrant (don not let it turn brown) and set aside to cool.
  • Heat oil or ghee in thick bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds.
  • Once it sputters add the crushed cumin seeds, channa dal, urad dal and fry till the lentils are brown.
  • Add the asafetida, curry leaves and green chilies and fry till the curry leaves are crisp.
  • Add two and a half cups of water and allow the water to bring to a gentle boil. At this point, stir in the par boiled pigeon peas, coconut and the roasted cream of rice. Mix well and cook covered on low heat for 5-10mins or till the liquid is completely absorbed.
  • Add the coriander leaves and take off the heat.
  • Wet your hands in cold water and scoop out ping pong sized balls of the upittu and shape them into balls.
  • Arrange the balls in a greased pan and steam bake the upittu for 5-10 in a pressure cooker.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the dumplings to cool for five mins. Serve hot with ghee and chutney of your choice.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gajar ka halwa

The past few days have been extremely hectic. With Purvi's holidays in full swing, I seem to be on my toes for some reason or the other. It has been extremely difficult to concentrate on the blog with my hyperactive toddler around. I have been so busy that I almost missed the important date. It was only a few minutes back that I realized that, today, is my blog's birthday!!! 

Oh yes!! It is my Blog Anniversary!!!!

I was about four years back that I started sharing my recipes and experiences on this virtual kitchen of mine. From that moment, to now, a lot has changed. Apart from the remarkable improvement in my cooking and baking skills, I am now able to explore the world of food with an open mind. What started off as a hobby to pass the time, is now a passion and a platform to express my thoughts. This journey wouldn't be possible if it weren't for my S's and my family's encouragement. And of course you lovely people who help me keep this blog running with your motivating words.

Every anniversary or birthday calls for a Sweet treat and what could be better than carrot halwa to celebrate the occasion. To be honest, I didn't make this for my blog's birthday. I had invited S's uncles and aunts for dinner a couple of days back, and I had served this halwa for dessert. Thankfully, I had managed to take some quick shots before serving. It is a lucky coincidence that I am getting to post this on this special occasion.

The gajar ka halwa was one of the first desserts that I learnt to make, post marriage. Like so many other dishes, S taught me the correct way to perfect the dessert. This method might seem tedious and time consuming. But one bite of this dessert and it will all seem worth it. Caramelized carrots that is laced with the aroma of ghee and spices is way too hard to resist. Isn't it?

Gajar ka halwa or carrot pudding recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Cooking time:1to1-1/2hrs
Serves- 4-6

Carrots- 1kg or about 10-12, peeled and grated
Clarified butter or ghee- 8tbsp+2tbsp
Milk- 500ml, boiled
Sugar- 200gms
Almond meal- 2tbsp (optional)
Cardamom- 6, deseeded and crushed to a fine powder
Freshly grated nutmeg- a pinch
Chopped cashew nuts- 1tbsp
Chopped almonds- 1tbsp
Pistachios- 1tbsp
Raisins- 1-1/2 tbsp

  • Heat a table spoon of ghee in a thick bottomed pan and add the grated carrots and fry for 15 to 20mins or till the moisture from the carrots is completely evaporated.
  • Add the boiled milk to the carrot and cook on low heat stirring from time to time, till the carrots are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add the sugar and the almond meal and mix till dissolved.
  • Stir in the ghee and increase the heat to medium and mix continuously for 20-30mins till the ghee separates and the carrots turn dark orange in color and glisten.
  • Stir in the cardamom and nutmeg at this point, mix well and take off the heat
  • Heat another tablespoon of ghee in another pan and add the chopped cashews and almonds, fry till they turn brown. Add the raisins and fry till they balloon up. 
  • Take off the heat and add the fried nuts and raisins and the pistachios to the prepared halwa, mix well and serve warm

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gyros- Greek style sandwich

Ohhhh these wraps are good!!! By good, I mean they are finger licking good. This recipe for the vegetarian version of the Greek gyros is adapted from the book called exciting vegetarian cuisine around the world by Asha Khatau. Although the recipe seemed great, I could not help but make a few changes to the recipe to suit my plate and my pantry requirements. 

Traditionally the gyro is made with meat that is cooked in a vertical spit. The cooked meat is then sandwiched between lettuce and vegetables and then topped with tzatziki. The salad and the meat are then placed in  pita bread. But in this vegetarian version, the meat is replaced with Paneer or cottage cheese which is marinated in a mixture of olive oil, garlic and Greek seasoning blend. Since I couldn't find Pita bread nearby, I decided to wrap them in whole wheat rotis. This gave a healthy twist to the Gyros.

The end result was just fantastic. The cottage cheese was soft and juicy with the marinated seasoning and then there were these crunchy vegetables from the salad. The tzatziki complimented the flavors beautifully. What's more?? I would definitely make this version of Gyros again and again. Do give this a try and let me know what you think.
Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Gyros recipe:
Preparation time: 30min+marination time.
Cooking time- 10min
Makes- 4 wraps

Whole wheat tortillas or rotis- 4 large
Lettuce leaves- 4-6
Onion- 1 med, thinly sliced
Shredded Purple or white cabbage- 3tbsp
Tomato- 1 large, chopped fine
Cucumber- 1med, thinly sliced
Tzatziki- 1 cup
Cottage cheese- 200gms, cubed
Greek style seasoning- 3/4tsp (recipe follows)
Garlic- 2 cloves, crushed
Vinegar- 1tsp
Olive oil- 1tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste

For the seasoning blend:
Paprika powder- 3/4tbsp
Cinnamon powder- a pinch
Nutmeg powder- a pinch
Onion powder- 1/2tbsp
Cumin powder- 1/4tsp
Mixed herbs- 1/2tsp
Salt- 1/2tsp
Freshly ground black Pepper- 1tsp

  • Combine all the ingredients and blend them in a blender or spice grinder to a fine powder and store in an air tight container.
  • Place the cottage cheese in a bowl, and sprinkle half a table spoon of the seasoning mix, crushed garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Mix well set aside for an hour.
  • Cook the mixture over medium heat till a little dry. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble the gyros:
  • Heat the tortillas or rotis slightly on a hot girdle and place it on a work surface. Place a lettuce leaf in the center of the tortillas and place 3-4 slices of cucumber on the lettuce.
  • Put some sliced onions, cabbage, chopped tomatoes and sprinkle some slat and pepper.
  • Spoon a table spoon of cottage cheese mixture over the sale and top it with tzatziki.
  • Roll up the tortilla into a cone and secure it with a tooth pick.
  • Serve immediately with tzatziki on the side

Monday, July 14, 2014

Apple and strawberry crumble with condensed milk

I sometimes feel that both S and I have impulse control issues when it comes to buying fruits and seasonal vegetables. There are times when we both end up buying the same kind of fruits and vegetables. If there are times when we have excess of fruits in the pantry then they end up in custard or fruit salad. But this one time, we ended up having two boxes of strawberries in the refrigerator.  But this time I was tempted to do something different. Since it was a weekend, I decided to try this warm dessert for the Saturday night dinner.

This crumble is absolutely divine. The combination of the sweet apples with the tart strawberries is just heavenly. The hint of lemon mellows the sweetness, and the cinnamon adds a warm flavor.  Now coming to the almond topping, all I can say is that, it just increases the flavor of the dessert by many folds. It gives a nutty and biscuit-like texture to the dessert.

Traditionally, condensed milk is not used in making crumble. But this twist adds a delicious caramel flavor, that goes extremely well with apples and strawberries. Yes. It does make the dessert look unattractive and messy. But taste wise, it was so delicious, that the dessert disappeared in 30min flat. That's how good it was.

Apple and strawberry crumble with condensed milk recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Baking time: 35-40min
Serves- 4

Apples- 3, peeled, cored and cubed
Strawberries- 200gms, washed hulls and quartered.
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Cinnamon powder- 1/2tsp+1/2tsp
Condensed milk- 200gms
Cold Butter- 5tbsp+1tbsp
Almond meal- 1/2 cup
Old fashioned oats- 2tbsp
All purpose flour- 1/4 cup
Icing sugar- 1tbsp
Slivered almonds for garnish- 1tbsp (optional)

  • Mix the Cubed apples, strawberries and lemon juice an oven proof dish and mix all to combine. 
  • Mix together 1tbsp of butter with the condensed milk in a non stick pan and heat the mixture on a low flame for two to three mins. Remove from heat and stir in half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and allow the mixture to cool completely. 
  • Pour the condensed milk mixture over the apples and strawberry mixture and spread it evenly.
  • In a bowl, mix the almond meal, oats, all purpose flour, sugar and the other half tea spoon of cinnamon powder and mix well.
  • Rub the cold butter into the almond-flour mixture and mix till the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  • Sprinkle the almond-flour mixture generously over the apple strawberry mixture, so as to cover completely.
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 180C for 35-40min or till the crumble topping turns golden brown. Serve hot or warm.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hesaru bele Payasa- Moong dal kheer

Since the past two weeks, my other half has been under the weather. My poor husband has contracted some kind of throat infection that simply refuses to go away. He has been coughing incessantly, and no amount antibiotics, and home remedies seem to be working on him.  Things got from bad to worse when the throat infection led to a fever. And all of that on his birthday. What should have been a grand celebration, turned out to be a quite birthday dinner at home.

When I asked him what he wanted me to make for his birthday, his response was, "make bisi bele bhat and payasa (kheer)", he said.  Since the Birthday boy wanted Payasa, then it had to be payasa. Payasa happens to be one of S's all time favorite desserts. He goes ga ga over any kind of kheer. After a lot of thought I decided to make moong dal kheer because, it is simple to make yet it is extremely nutritious. Apart from that it tastes absolutely Divine. What's not to like about this dessert?

Moong dal kheer is a warm dessert that is just perfect for the cold seasons. It is one of those dishes that is sure to warm you up from the first sip. This dessert is all about simple ingredients like Split yellow lentils, coconut milk, milk, jaggery and nuts and a hint of fragrant spices like cardamom and nutmeg. 

The great thing about this dessert is that it does not have any hard and fast rules. Just follow your taste buds and vary the recipe as you like. You can make this dish as rich or as fat free as you like. 

This method of making moong dal kheer may appear a little time consuming to you. But one spoonful of this pudding will make all the effort worthwhile. This Payasa is one of the desserts that doesn't make you feel guilty even after you have had a cup too many. It leaves you feeling of warm contentment. Just the way, food should make you feel.

Moong dal kheer recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4-6

Moong dal or split yellow lentils- 120gms
Coconut milk- 400ml
Water- 1/2 cup
Milk- 400ml
Jaggery- 160gms
Salt- a tiny pinch
Milk powder- 2tbsps (optional)
Freshly grated coconut- 3 tbsps
Freshly grated nutmeg- a pinch
Cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp
Mixed nuts like cashews, almonds and pistachios- 2tbsp, toasted and powdered (optional)

  • Dry roast the lentils in a wok till brown and fragrant. Take off the heat, wash well and drain.
  • Combine the toasted Moong dal along with the coconut milk and water in a thick bottomed vessel and allow the lentils to cook on medium high flame for 20-25min or till the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are cooked.
  • Add the milk, salt and allow the mixture to simmer for 15mins. Stir in the jaggery, milk powder and the grated coconut and mix till the jaggery melts and the mixture thickens.
  • Stir in the powdered nuts, Nutmeg and cardamom, mix well and serve immediately.
  • For a vegan version, you can substitute the milk with coconut milk.
  • You can omit the powdered nuts and use chopped cashews and raisins that are fried in ghee as garnish.
  • The addition of milk powder is optional. But I felt that the addition gave the kheer an extra rich flavor.
  • Edible camphor can also be used to flavor this payasa.
  • The kheer might seem a little runny to you in the beginning, but it will thicken once it cools.
This warm dessert of mine will be a part of My legume love affair# 73 which was started by Susan and now run by Lisa and hosted by Radhika of foodfor7stagesoflife

This dessert will also be a part of hearth and soul blog hop that is hosted by April harris of

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