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Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Sweet Treats"- Mango Basbousa (Egyptian semolina cakes soaked in sugar syrup)

22nd April is M's Birthday. Every year I bake him a birthday cake...almost for as long as we have known each other as friends and then as husband and wife. Even last year, when I was in India, before I left for the trip...I had baked and frozen a birthday cake for him.This year it was different though.Because of the pregnancy nausea and aversion towards cakes and pastries I couldn't bake him the 'normal' birthday cake....
I baked him one of his favorite desserts....which happen to resemble 'Cake' (more like Egg less Rava Cake made in India) It is called 'Basbousa'. I usually bake this one 'plain' or with vanilla, but this time I made it 'extra' special by adding 'Mango' and of course...tons of love :)

For the Cake:
1 and 1/4 cup Semolina/Rava
1/4 cup All Purpose flour
1/2 cup Yogurt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2tbsp powdered  sugar (add more if not sweet enough,after adding Mango)
1 and 1/2 cup Kesar/ Alphonso Mango puree (I used the the 'Swad' canned one)
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Almonds for garnishing

For the Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2tsp lemon juice
1/2tsp Cardamom powder
Boil water,sugar,lemon juice,together for 10-15 mins.Keep aside

1) Mix together melted butter,semolina,yogurt,Mango puree,all purpose flour.Keep aside for 1/2 hour
2) Add sugar,baking soda,baking powder,salt,lemon juice and mix together into smooth batter(Consistency like cake batter) Add little water if necessary.
3) Garnish with sliced almonds and bake at 350F for 40-45 mins.
4) Pour warm syrup over hot cake evenly.Let soak for 15-20 mins.Cut into classic 'diamond' shapes of Basbousa or into wedges like a pie.

5) Enjoy hot/warm/cold!
6) You can also bake them in aluminum cup liners in muffin pans...to make individual servings.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Appetizers"- Sabudana vada/ Fried Sago+potato balls

100th Post on the blog!
I cannot believe it, this will be my 100th post on the blog! From September 2009 to April 2010, it has been a fabulous experience so far. Hope you all enjoy it, as much as I do putting it together!

Sabudana Vada
One more Maharashtrian favorite, and ofcourse mine too!!! Sabudana/Sago vadas are made mainly during 'Religious fasting' in Maharashtra (similar to the Sago Khichadi).... but Come On.....who needs an occassion to savor such a yummy dish???
Not me atleast!!!
Sago vadas are famous as 'Religious' food, are famous on the fast food stalls and cafeterias everywhere.

I have a little story/ experience about the vadas ....

When I was about 16 years old, my mom prepared the 'dough' for the vadas and then went to work.She asked me to just  fry them and eat whenever I wanted. I was very 'carefull cook' then, but don't know, how it happened.....the sago in the vadas spluttered in the hot oil and few drops of hot oil came straight on my neck....I had few burn marks on my neck.I was sooooooo scared :(
After that, my mom did not make the vadas for quite a while and needless to say..I wasn't allowed near hot oil anymore!
I have made the vadas countless times after that but....and nothing happened...but just a warning.....move away from the pan when frying these....

1/2 cup Sago
1 big boiled potato peeled and mashed
3-4 green chillies or 1tsp Chili powder
1/2tsp cumin seeds
1/4cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Peanut powder/ ground up peanuts
Oil for frying

For Cilantro Chutney:
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4cup fresh coconut
1/4tsp cumin seeds
1/4tsp ginger paste
2-3 green chilies
sugar to taste
Few drops of lemon juice to preserve the green color of the chutney.
Finely grind all the above into smooth paste.Sqeeze few drops of lemon, mix. Store in refrigerator.

1) Wash sago thrice in cold water.Drain. Add enough water to cover the sago and let it soak overnight or atleast 5 hours.The sago should fluff up.
2) Mix together soaked sago, mashed boiled potato, peanut powder, finely chopped green chilies, cumin, salt and form into a dough.Make small balls and slightly flatten them with squeeze in the hand.

3) Deep fry in hot oil, over medium heat, till golden brown and crispy on the outside.
4) Serve hot along with cilantro chutney or yogurt.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Appetizers"- Bakarwadi...Chitale Bandhu isstyle!

Nothing says more 'Puneri' (localite from Pune,Maharashtra,India) than a fan of 'Chitale Bandhu Bakarwadi'!
Chitale is this famous sweet mart in Pune.They have amazing desserts and maharashtrian snacks is countless varieties. When you visit their shop, you almost should spare a good 1/2 hour, because you might find a big queue ahead of you! They are particularly famous for 'Bakarwadi', which are kind of spicy,tangy, crispy rolls.
Since these days all my cravings go straight back to home...I was craving these wadis like crazy, the other day.But here in Ithaca, there isn't a way to get the wadis till you travel 3-4 hrs  to Subzi Mandi in New Jersey. As it is rightly said, "Necessity is the mother of Invention".....I set out to ...well not to invent ....but give it a try myself and make the Bakarwadis at home!! They were 'semi- succesfull', but they surely did satisfy my craving for few days as I was munching on these crispy wadis!!

For the Filling:

1/2 cup dry roasted grated coconut
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1/4cup Thin sev
1tsp Goda masala (maharashtrian curry powder)
1/2tsp garam masala
1/2tsp tamarind extract ( or use tamarind-jaggery chutney)
1tsp sugar (you can add more)
1/2tsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want)

For the outer roll:
1cup All purpose flour
1tbsp gram flour
1/2tsp ajwain/owa seeds
1-2tsp oil
Oil for frying

1) Mix together all the ingredients of the filling and keep separately. It looks kind of coarse and dry.
2) Make a 'hard' dough with all purpose flour,gram flour, salt, oil and water.
3) Roll the dough into a 'chapati'.
4) Spread the coconut filling in thin layer over the chapati

5) Roll the chapati tightly into a roll and seal the edges with little water.

6) Cut the roll horizontally

7) Deep fry the rolls gently, without much 'agitation', on low to medium heat,till golden brown.
8) Drain welland store in airtight container.
Bite into these spicy, tangy, crispy rolls along with your cup of hot tea!

Problems I faced when making Bakarwadis: The semi succesfull attempt
1) Loose rolls
Solution: Roll the chapati as tightly as possible to get perfect wadis
2) Filling came out in oil
Solution: My mom suggested using some thick sugar syrup in the filling to help make it stick in the chapati.
another option isto make thick tamarind jaggery chutney and spread it on the chapati, before spreading the filling.
3) Rolls opening up when frying
Solution: Don't cut the rolls all the way through.Fry 5-6 wadis stuck together in oil and then separate them once out of the oil.

The next time I try these....they should surely be a winner!