Friday, May 27, 2016

Sweet potato and almond Gulab Jamun- The vegan Gulab jamun

Gulab jamun is perhaps one of the most popular among Indian mithais. A sweet treat that can be gulped down in one bite. Traditionally this sweet dish is made out of khoya or hariyali mawa (milk solids). The milk solids are shaped into delicate balls and deep fried. These deep fried balls are then dunked into cardamom and saffron scented sugar syrup. Gulab jamun made this way are extremely delicious, luscious. Each bite into these succulent balls can transport you into a state of pure bliss.

The downside of making gulab Jamun using milk solids is that that it requires a lot of skill and a little prep work. Since most people do not have that kind of time and skill, they mostly resort to ready made mixes. So if you are looking for a recipe for gulab Jamun that is easy to make, Vegan and as tasty as the traditional Gulab jamun, then your search has come to an end. I am sharing the Sweet Potato and almond gulab jamun which comes very close to the traditional gulab jamun in taste and texture.

This version of Gulab jamun is relatively easy to put together and does not require the kind of expertise that you require to make the traditional ones. And to top of all of these, these gulab Jamuns are healthy and packed with nutrition. These Syrup soaked sweet potato balls are delicious and has a rich mouth feel and intense flavor!!

I had heard and read about sweet potato gulab jamuns. But I was a little skeptical about the taste. But now that I have tried it, I will definitely be making this again and again. 

I actually wanted to add khoya or milk powder as the original recipe had mentioned. Since I did not have either of them, I decided to make this dessert with just sweet potatoes and almond meal. Despite the omission of khoya, the Gulab jamun actually turned out great!! They were incredibly soft and had a melt in the mouth texture. These Gulab jamuns are a great way to pamper yourself without feeling guilty.

Sweet potato and almond Gulab Jamun recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Cooking time: 20min
Makes- 40-50 Gulab jamuns

Sweet Potatoes- 3 med
Almond meal- 8tbsps or 1/2cup
All purpose flour- 6tbsp
Cardamom Powder- 1/2tspn+1/2tspn
Baking soda- A pinch
Ghee or oil to grease- 2tbsp
For the syrup:
Sugar- 300gms
Water- 450ml
Saffron- A pinch
Oil to deep fry
Chopped pistachios to Garnish (optional)

  • Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes to remove all the dirt. Place the sweet potatoes in the pressure cooker and add enough water so that the potatoes are covered. Place the lid and weight and pressure cook the potatoes for two whistles. 
  • Allow the steam to dissipate itself completely before opening the cooker. Remove the potatoes from the cooker and allow them to cool completely. Peel the potatoes and mash them thoroughly with your hands.
  • Add the almond meal, All purpose flour, cardamom powder and baking soda and knead to make a soft dough and keep aside.
  • To make the Sugar syrup, Mix the sugar and water in a sauce pan, add the saffron threads and cardamom powder and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for a 5-10 mins. or until the syrup turns thick and reaches half string consistency. Take off the heat and keep the syrup warm.
  • Grease some ghee or oil on your palms. Pinch small lime sized balls from the dough and shape them into smooth balls. Make sure that the balls do not have any cracks.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed wok. Once the oil is hot enough, carefully place the prepared sweet potato balls in a single layer. Avoid crowding oil with too many Gulab jamuns. Fry the jamuns in low-medium heat until they are cooked through and golden brown in color from all the sides.
  • Remove the fried jamuns carefully with a slotted spatula, drain and dunk them in warm sugar syrup. Allow the jamuns to soak the syrup for at least 30mins to an hour before serving. 
  • Garnish with nuts and serve warm. Or, serve warm with Vanilla ice-cream.
  • Make sure there are no lumps when mashing the sweet potatoes. You can try passing the sweet potatoes through a fine sieve to remove any fibers or lumps. You can also try running the boiled sweet potatoes in a blender until smooth.
  • You can replace the almond meal with equal quantity of Khoya/ milk solids or milk powder. 
  • For a different flavor, you can replace half of the almond meal with unsweetened coconut.
  • When frying the jamuns, make sure the oil is not smoking hot. The oil should neither be too hot  or too cold. To know if the oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of the dough in the oil. You know the temperature is just right when the dough sizzles and slowly rises to the surface.
  • To make the Almond meal, blanch half cup of almonds in hot water. Peel the skin and  set aside to dry for a few hours. Once dry, grind them to a fine meal and use as required.
  • You might notice the sweet potato flavor if you consume these jamuns immediately. Just allow these jamuns to rest for for 6-7hrs or overnight and you will find that they would have acquired a richer flavor.
  • This dessert stays fresh for a couple of weeks if refrigerated.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Puliyogare Gojju and Puliyogare

Since Mother's day is round the corner, I thought of posting one of my mother's and my Grandmother's recipe. Yes!! It is the recipe for Puliyogare. Puliyogare is a dish that is Simple, quick, and delicious. In short, it is just perfect for mother's day.

Puliyogare or the tamarind rice is one of the most traditional and one of the most sought after recipes from South India. Every bite of this sweet, spicy and tangy rice brings back some fond child hood memories. Each savored bite takes me back to the times when I used to visit the Venkateshwara temple with my grandmother. The beautiful sculptures, the chanting of the shlokas, the divine atmosphere and the one of a kind puliyogare for prasadam. We would eagerly wait in the long queues to receive our share of Puliyogare. The tamarind rice offered there was so delicious that we would invariably go back for more!!

Since this rice makes a great picnic meal, I remember my mother making large quantities of Puliyogare for my school picnic. It was a big hit with my friends and the boxes were licked clean. So now you can imagine how nostalgic Pulyogare always makes me!! *Sigh*

Before I deviate completely, I think I will get back to the recipe. The making of Puliyogare has two steps. The first step is to make the puliyogare gojju which is slightly time consuming. The second  part involves mixing the gojju with the rice and other seasonings. 

The Puliyogare gojju can be made well in advance. By "well in advance", I mean a atleast a week earlier. So whenever you are feeling lazy or you have to make something in a jiffy, then mix a few table spoons of the gojju with a few cups of rice and Puliyogare will be ready in no time.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my Ajji's and my mother's recipe. I am so happy that I am passing on the recipe with the hope that it becomes a part of childhood memories with our kids will recall fondly someday.

The Puliyogare great all by itself. But pair it with some Poppadums and a bowl of yogurt and you will have a complete meal in front you.

Puliyogare Gojju recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+soaking time
Cooking time: 20-30min
Makes- approximately 300gms

Tamarind- 100gms
Water- 700ml
Sesame seeds- 1-1/2tbspn
Grated dry coconut- 4tbspn
Salt to taste
Jaggery- 120gms
Peanut oil- 2tbsp

  • Clean the tamarind by removing the seeds and strings and soak in 500ml of water for atleast two to three hours.
  • Squeeze the juice from the tamarind with you hands and set aside the pulp. Add the remaining water to the pulp and strain the juice in a strainer. You will get about 700ml of tamarind juice at this point.
  • In a pan, dry roast the sesame seeds till brown and keep it aside to cool
  • In the same pan, dry roast the coconut and set aside to cool.
  • Combine the sesame seeds and the rasam powder in a blender jar and blend till finely powdered.
  • Add the roasted coconut to the ground mixture and blend again to get a paste like spice mix.
  • In a thick bottomed, non reactive pan, add the tamarind pulp and bring it to a gentle boil. Allow the pulp to reduce a little before adding the jaggery and salt.
  • Let the mixture to simmer for a couple of minutes more and then add the ground mixture. 
  • Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat while stirring from time to time. Continue mixing till the mixture achieves a thick jam like consistency and comes together in a single mass. Take off the heat at this stage. 
  • Add the peanut oil mix well and allow the gojju to cool completely before storing in airtight container.
  • Do not use polished sesame seeds. Use unpolished (mildly brown) or black sesame seeds.
  • The quantity of the jaggery used, largely depends on the variety of jaggery. There some varieties that are not very sweet. Use more in that case.
  • I use peanut oil because it prevents the gojju from going bad. Apart from that, it also enhances the flavor.
  • Try and use tamarind that is dark brown in color. It imparts a rich color and taste.

Puliyogare or Tamarind rice:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 10min
Serves- 4

Peanut oil or any other oil- 2tbsps
Mustard seeds- 1/2tsp
Peanuts- 3tbsps
Curry leaves- 2sprigs
Asafetida- A pinch
Cooked rice- 2 cups
Salt- To taste
Puliyogare gojju- 2tbsp
Freshly grated coconut- 1tbsp (optional)

  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow it sputter. Add the peanuts and fry till they turn brown.
  • Add curry leaves and fry till they turn crisp. Stir in the asafetida and mix.
  • Add the cooked rice and salt and mix well. Stir in the gojju and the grated coconut and mix well so that the rice is coated with the gojju.
  • Take off the heat and serve hot with yogurt and poppadoms.
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