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Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Diwali!

For this, is a special time when family and friends get together,for fun.
Wishing laughter and fun to cheer your days,
In this festive season of diwali and always!!!!!!!!
“Happy Diwali”!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Treats for Diwali"- Chakali/Murukku

As planned earlier,my friend 'V' and I decided to make chakalis together for this Diwali. There were two motives..first of all I had never made chakali with this recipe(see below) i.e.with rice and urad flour.( In Maharashtra chakali is made from a special mixed grain flour..called Bhajani).So needed some guidance in making these...and 'V' is a master in making chakalis....so decided to try under her wing!
Secondly making chakalis is a lot of work....kneading the dough, making chakalis, frying them....all needs some muscle.It's better done with someone elses help.
This arrangement worked out pretty well and we managed to make a whole lot of chakalis in just 2 hours ( there was a time limit, as I had to pick up 'E' from school)!
As you can see from the picture the chakalis came out very crispy,crunchy and spicy...yummm!
They did taste different than the 'Bhajani' Chakalis....but were no less tasty! I would definitely make these when I do not have 'Bhajani' (like this year) and I also noticed that they did not soak as much oil as the bhajani chakalis do...
Here is my friend 'V's recipe:
Rice flour -4cups
Urad flour -1cup
Chana Dhalia -1/2cup
Melted butter -1stick(8tbsp) ---we actually used 5tbsp
Hing -1/2tsp
Chilli pd -2tsp
Sesame -1tbsp
Cumin -1tbsp or Ajwain seeds
Salt -to taste
Method:1) Powder the roasted channa dhal(dhalia).
2) Melt the butter on stove until it bubbles.
3) In a mixing bowl mix all the ingredients together with melted butter and knead by adding enough warm water.(the dough should be little thick to get perfect chaklis)
4) Stuff the dough in the chakli press and press it into spirals on a paper towel or on a plastic sheet.
5)Heat enough oil and deep fry them. Fry on medium flame until golden brown
6) Drain on paper towel
7) Store in an air tight container.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Treats for Diwali" - Ricotta Cheese Pedhas with Saffron /Kesar-Malai Pedhas

Have you ever wondered...how you crave certain things NOW...which you really did not care for much, when you were back in India?
It happens to me a lot! Many vegetables like (karela, tondali, paapdi,green bhopala etc) which actually my mom had to force us to eat when I was in India....but now..when I go to Indian grocery store...those are the vegetables I hunt for! Because we cannot find those in 'normal' American grocery stores here.Those are like 'delicacies' now! Similar goes for certain sweets like pedhas.Those were never in my 'most favorite' list in India.But now...I crave those sometimes and actually want to make those at home! I did not know, I could make those here at home.But for 'E's naming ceremony, one of friend made these and we were really surprised how delicious ..'melting in your mouth' they were!And the bigger surprise was..they were made from...RICOTTA CHEESE!
I thought that was really Cool...and immediately hunted for the recipe.Have been making these ever since for Diwali and everyone loves them..especially my 'M' who has a sweet tooth!

425 gms Whole milk Ricotta cheese
1 cup Carnation milk powder
3/4th cup sugar
1/4th cup milk
1tsp ghee
1/4th tsp cardamom powder (Elaichi)
1 pinch saffron (kesar)
Pista and almond chips for decoration


1) In a non stick kadhai/skillet, melt 1tsp ghee. On medium to low flame add the ricotta cheese. Stir for about 15 mins. First the cheese will melt and then start getting thick again. This is similar to Khoya/ Khava.
Ricotta can burn easily. So, use non stick skillet and keep the flame low/medium!

2) When it starts leaving the sides of the kadhai, add milk (mixed with saffron/ kesar), sugar and milk powder. Stir all together. Cook till it starts leaving the sides of the kadhai. This will take about 15 mins or so. The mixture will become thin first and then thick.

3) Add the cardamom powder. Mix well. Take off the gas.

4) Let it cool. Then roll into small pedhas and decorate with pista and almond chips.

5) The above ingredients yield about 40-55 pedhas depending on how big or small you roll them.

6) Pedhas can stay in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

7) Enjoy!

I'm sending this recipe to Mansi's Sweet Celebration Contest being held at Fun and Food Cafe

1 Month and Blogging...

"If you Cook with Love and Affection ...you can create Magic in the Kitchen'! - Alex Guarnaschelli (Food Network)

Wow! It's already been a month, since I started this blog! Time really flies by fast.
So far...it has been a lot of excitement,fun, cooking,clicking pictures and writing...I am enjoying it.
When I started the blog I wasn't sure how far I will be able to take it...how satisfied I will be with it?
But 1 month has passed...and I feel GOOD! I feel motivated each morning I wake up..each meal I cook....each recipe idea I read.
It is encouraging me to be a 'perfectionist' and try to make everything 'perfect' as possible.
It is definitely giving me chance to try out something out of my comfort zone...making food from different parts of the world,trying out different tastes and cuisines.
Other than cooking, I am actually enjoying the photography and the writing part too! It's like I have a new friend( all you guys..who like to read my blog..and support me sooooo much)....I can talk my heart out,share my creations with you.It feels NICE! I feel APPRECIATED!
I am going to continue cooking..and clicking..and writing...and see how many more friends I can make....and how better I get at what I am doing! It's like a quest for me...and I am ready to take it!
And like it is rightly said:
"There is no love sincerer than the love of food" -George Bernard Shaw
I am going to .....keep loving my food!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

'Treats For Diwali'- Alu Bhujia Sev/Potato Sev

Making Sev wasn't on my 'To Do' list for Diwali.But in the enthusiasm yesterday,I decided to give it a try. I wanted to make 'Aloo Bhujia Sev' similar to 'Haldirams'. This one came pretty close, but not quite the same. When I was hunting for recipes, I did not exactly find what I was looking for. So I decided to try it with my 'instincts'.The experiment was successful and we had this crispy,crunchy,spicy sev!
Recipe for Aloo Bhujia Sev:
1&1/2 cups Gram flour
1tbsp Rice flour
1 cup boiled mashed potato
1tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4tsp black pepper
1/2tsp chili powder
1/4tsp owa/ajwain seeds
2 pinch asafoetida
1/4tsp Chat masala+ 1/2 tsp for sprinkling on top
salt to taste
4tsp hot oil+ oil for frying
1) Mix, gram flour,rice flour,mashed potato,chili powder,turmeric,owa,1/4tsp chat masala,black pepper,garlic paste,asafoetida,salt and 4tsp hot oil.Knead into a soft dough with warm water.
The dough is very sticky.Oil hands to make it manageable.
2) Oil the 'Sev press' and use the 'thin' sev sieve/jaali.
3) Heat some oil in a deep-pan on low flame.
4) Press the sev dough directly into hot oil.Fry on low flame.This is necessary to crisp the sev.
5) When the dough crisps up, drain well and remove from oil.Sev burns easily and continues to cook a little when a take it outside.So remove promptly.
6) Sprinkle with chat masala as soon as the sev comes out from oil.
7) Drain on paper towel
8)Store in airtight container.
I was talking to my friend 'V' few minutes ago,and she said they add mint juice and green chillies to Haldiram's Alu Bhujia. Oh Well....may be next year I will make exact replica of 'Haldiram's Aloo Bhujia"!

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Treats for Diwali"-Shankarpali(Sweet Diamond Biscuits)

Diwali is here! Well almost...on the 17th of October!And I am already excited! Have already stared preparing the 'faral/treats' for Diwali, our 'akashkandil/lantern' is already hoisted and we have a 'Diwali Potluck' all planned up!
Just couple days ago,I was reading on 'Facebook'...one of my friends living in USA,was wondering how her son will ever know 'true' Diwali ??? That's a daunting question.'M' and I have sort of come to a solution...somewhat.We have decided to celebrate each and every Indian festival...as much as possible...so that 'E' is introduced to all Indian values and traditions. I feel, if 'we' don't do it...he will never know what it is. It is sort of our responsibility now, to introduce him to 'Indian' culture miles away from India.We celebrate Ganapati, Holi, Sankranti, Dussera,Diwali...here in USA. Last year couple of 'M's friends and their families visited us for a week, in Ithaca for Diwali.We did the 'faral' , abhyang snan (morning diwali special bath), laxmi poojan,bhaubiz...everything.It was soooo much fun.This year, we could not plan such a get together,but still, plan on celebrating 'Diwali' with enthusiasm as if we were in India.Hope 'E' has as much fun as we had as kids in India, in Diwali...ofcourse without the 'fire crackers' here!
Here is the recipe for 'Shankarpali'/Sweet Diamond biscuits that I made yesterday...and they came out really good....crunchy,crispy,sweet and delicious!

(Measured with  standard 'measuring cup' and measuring spoon.Do not use household drinking cups and eating spoons to measure.Ratios will change and end product may not come out as good.)
2 and 1/2 cups All purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
2 and 1/2tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup cold milk (use how much ever is necessary for kneading dough)
1/2tsp baking powder
1tsp Vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
Oil for frying

1)Bring the butter to room temperature. In a pan beat the butter (like for cake)
2)Add sugar and mix well
3)Add Flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla etc and knead like chapati dough with cold milk.
4)Keep the dough covered in refrigerator for about 1-2 hrs.
5)Knead again with oiled hands
6)Roll out the dough (thicker than chapati) and cut into diamonds
7)Fry in medium hot oil over medium to low flame till golden brown(this is necessary to crisp them up).The shankarpalis will be soft when you take them out.But crisp up once they cool.
8)Drain on paper towel.
9)Let cool. The shankarpalis will be nice and crispy!

Tip:  If for some reason(with any recipe) your Shankarpalis don't crisp up....

If the Shankarpalis aren’t crispy enough, place them on baking sheet and warm in the oven for 10 mins at 275 F.
Let cool… shankarpalis will be nice and crispy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Around the World in 30 Weekends"-Weekend 4= Greece

Dish Name: Baklava Cups

Baklava is the most famous of the Greek pastries, and every area of Greece - and sometimes every family within a region has their own version.
Baklava is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
When I decided to take on the project of making Baklava, I decided to take on the ‘short and easy’ route. I thought, a newbie like me, should start by making this ‘easier’ version and then once I master it, try to take on the ‘authentic’ recipe.
I had seen this recipe on Food network in Sunny Anderson’s show. She uses Phyllo dough cups instead of the phyllo dough sheets. Since last week, I had been searching for Phyllo dough cups, but none of the grocery stores carried them. They said they will only stock those in ‘holiday season’ beginning end of October. But yesterday, to my ‘good luck’ I found those in TOPS and hence could plan my trip to Greece this weekend! Another reason to try our this recipe on this weekend was...if it turns out good...I can make it for upcoming Diwali! Just another 'Sweet' addition to all the other Diwali spread!

Here is Sunny Anderson's Recipe:
Ingredients :•1/2 cup pistachios
•1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup almonds 1 lemon, zested
•1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons sugar
•2 tablespoons butter, melted
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 boxes mini filo shells, 15 shells each
•1/2 cup water 1/4 cup honey

Method:Special equipment: 2 (12-cup) mini cupcake pans, food processor
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pistachios, walnuts and almonds on a baking sheet and toast in oven until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
2) Let nuts cool slightly and add to a food processor along with the lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and pulse to combine.
3) Place mini fillo shells in wells of 2 mini cupcake pans. Add 1 teaspoon of the nut mixture into each shell. Bake until filling is hot, about 10 minutes.
4) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat add the water, 1/4 cup sugar and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.
5) Pour 1 teaspoon syrup into each cup and allow it to soak in, then repeat with another teaspoon.
6) Refrigerate at least 5 hours, or overnight. ( I do not know why this has to be done? But I chilled mine anyways!!)
My Variations:
1) Used regular muffin pans instead of mini (Because I did not have the mini muffin pan)
2) Used cashews along with other nuts
3) Used orange zest instead of lemon zest
4)Did not add any butter to the nut mixture (counting calories you see!)
5) Did not add vanilla extract (the recipe already had other strong flavors like cinnamon, lemon/orange zest so decided to leave out vanilla)
6) Would add only 1tsp of honey-sugar syrup to the cups.2 tsp turned out little too sweet.
7) Garnished with orange zest