Bites of Bliss: Coconut Laddoo (Cardamom-spiced Coconut Truffles)

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So every year, the munchkin’s daycare hosts a ‘Kulturfest’, a cultural event, where the little kids, assisted by the staff, put up a show for the proud parents. The evening ends with a potluck dinner brought in by the parents.

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The potluck consists of dishes from the parents’ countries, representing their culture. The munchkin’s daycare has kids from around 17 countries, so it turns out to be quite an interesting spread :D

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Now, the show starts at 4 p.m. and since I work full-time, that in itself is quite a difficult timeline to adhere to. Showing up at 4 p.m. with a dish for 40 is mission impossible!

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Unless you have a few tricks up your sleeve. Or super blogger buddies to inspire you…

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Enter the Confused Bawarchis, Aditi and Nikhil! Aditi posted this recipe for quick Coconut Laddoos about 2 weeks before the Kulturfest. And I knew exactly what I was bringing to the potluck :)

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Laddoos are traditional Indian sweets and there are quite a few varieties of laddoo, made from a variety of ingredients. The only thing common is the shape: little globes of pure bliss that either melt in your mouth or give your jaws a workout, as you chomp through some pretty fantastic combinations: nuts, flours, dry fruits, spices, rice…

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These coconut laddoos are one of the easiest to make. And quick, really quick. And they are made from 5 ingredients!! How great is that!

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And they taste simply wonderful! Coconutty goodness in every bite. And they are the melt-in-your-mouth variety of laddoos, so kids love them too.

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If you like coconut, it will be really hard not to like these. I took about 40 of these to the potluck and they were the first to disappear off the buffet! I mean, seriously, who can resist them :D

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I hope the gang at this week’s Friday Fiesta also find them irresistible. Angie’s awesome potluck is being co-hosted by Tracy @Scratch It and Stephanie @The Cozy Cook who have stayed over from last week! See you there!

Here’s the recipe (from Confused Bawarchis).

Coconut Laddoo

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 20 minutes
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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Ghee
1+½ cups shredded Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut plus 2-3 tablespoons for coating the laddoos
6 tablespoons Sweetened Condensed Milk
3-4 tablespoons Whole Milk (you may use low-fat milk as well)
1 teaspoon ground Cardamom

Directions:

In a non-stick pan, heat the ghee and add in 1+½ cups Coconut.
Roast this on medium heat for about a minute, stirring continuously.
Next, add in the condensed milk and milk and mix well.
Cook this for about 2 minutes until it all comes together like a dough.
If the mix seems dry, add milk in 1 teaspoon increments until you reach the desired consistency.
Then add in the cardamom, mix well and turn off the heat.
Cool the mix for about 4-5 minutes until it becomes easy to handle.
Roll into even-sized laddoos (approx. the size of limes) and coat them with the coconut that was set aside for rolling.
Serve at room temperature.

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Smells like the Holidays: Cranberry Gingerbread Scones

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Christmas is definitely in the air here :) Departmental stores have dressed their windows to display reindeer, toy soldiers, snowmen, huge gift boxes…

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We are getting a lot of catalogs from toy stores too, almost like they know there is a super-excited 3-year old in the house :D

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In Scandinavia, kids receive ‘Adventsgaver’ , small presents, everyday from the 1st to the 24th of December in addition to the ‘big’ Christmas presents. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect build-up to Christmas…

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I can see parents thronging stores right now, buying up books, games, toys, accessories and of course candy to be neatly packed into gifts for their little ones. I know I will join in the rush in about a week, but in the meantime, I am sitting back and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells :D

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And for me, nothing smells quite like Christmas more than Gingerbread. I love the warmth and flavor of the spices and I adore the way my home smells when I have a batch of gingerbread cookies baking in the oven…

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And isn’t there something wonderfully Christmas-sy about cranberries too? Just their color itself… blood-red, like the prettiest of baubles!

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I don’t generally find fresh cranberries in the stores here, so I bake with the dried ones. But last week, I was thrilled to find punnets of cranberries imported all the way from the US in the local supermarket; I just had to make something special!

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Hmmm… gingerbread and cranberries, doesn’t that sound just right for the holidays :) Add some walnuts and orange zest to the mix and you have the perfect holiday scones!

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These scones are soft, crumbly, moist and fresh with the orange and cranberry flavor. The walnuts provide the nutty, textural element. Imagine all that packed into a gingerbread cookie! That’s what these fellas taste like.

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Dunk one into your coffee, have one for breakfast. They are fabulous! Perfect to get you in the spirit and ready to join the throngs of shoppers :D Bake some for your family and friends too and share the love <3

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I am bringing these fellas over to Angie’s fabulous Friday Fiesta, this week co-hosted by  Tracy @Scratch It and Stephanie @The Cozy Cook. Would you believe these two were besties in school, lost touch and recently re-discovered each other through their blogs!! Isn’t that totally awesome!! Come on over to Angie’s to meet them and other amazing bloggers :)

Here’s the recipe (adapted from here).

Cranberry Gingerbread Scones

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

300 grams (2 cups) all-purpose Flour
85 grams (1/2 cup) Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered Ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
A pinch of Salt
120 grams (8 tablespoons) cold Butter, cut into cubes
55 ml (1/4 cup) Milk
2 tablespoons Date Syrup
1 Egg
Zest of 1 Orange
200 grams fresh Cranberries
75 grams Walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & salt.
Add the cold butter cubes and the flour mixture to a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of peas.
In a large bowl whisk together the milk, date syrup, egg and orange zest until well combined.
Add the flour mix to the wet ingredients along with the cranberries and walnuts.
Mix together until just combined and a ball of dough is formed. Do not over-mix or your scones will be tough.
Flour your work surface and tip the dough out.
Gently shape into a circle about 1 inch thick.
Cut into desired shapes and put them directly on the baking paper on the tray, do not push them down to flatten them.
Gently brush the tops with a little milk and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops are golden & cracked and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Serve warm or at room temperature, if you can wait. Store in an airtight container, not in the fridge.

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Tea Time in Bombay: Mawa Cakes

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The people of Bombay, Bombayites or Mumbaikars as they are now known, love their tea. Not just at home or in restaurants… every street corner seems to have its own tea-cart, brewing fresh tea at all hours of the day or night.

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Among iconic tea establishments, the Parsi or Irani cafes of Mumbai deserve a special mention. Established in the 19th century by Zoroastrians fleeing the Islamic regime in Iran, these are like time capsules of an era gone by…

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They serve specialty Parsi dishes, tea time snacks (brun-maska, anyone?) and of course tea, all at very reasonable prices. Only a handful of these are left now, like Britannia and Co., Yazdani bakery, Sassanian and a few others.

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One of the most well-known Irani cafes was B. Merwans and Co. which sadly closed down earlier this year after serving its patrons for exactly 100 years! Imagine that! :(

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B. Merwans was renowned for their Mawa Cakes. Cardamom-scented buttery cakes made with the addition of mawa (milk solids), these are arguably the butteriest (yes, that must be a word) little delights.

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Since there was no refrigeration available in the 19th century and milk wasn’t pasteurized, cafe owners had to boil the milk over and over. And this lead to a lot of milk solids or mawa being available at the end of the day. The cafe owners experimented with adding this mawa to a cake and voila! the iconic mawa cake was born :D

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I have fond memories of devouring quite a few of these as a kid. Also, for a couple of months, right out of college I did an internship at a bank in Grant Road (where B. Merwans was located) and I loved queuing up on Saturday afternoons to buy mawa cakes and other goodies to take home for the weekend.

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The only reason I haven’t made these beloved cakes at home so far is because I can’t buy any mawa here and it does take a long time to make it from scratch as you are basically cooking down milk till all the water evaporates.

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Then a few months ago, while Pinteresting (yes, that is a word too!), I saw this gorgeous post about mawa cakes on Helene Dujardin’s wonderful Tartelette blog, that she got from her Indian friend Bina. Fortunately, she also included a quick recipe for making mawa! All my problems solved, I had to make these at the first opportunity. It still takes close to an hour to make the mawa, so cold weather is the perfect time to try your hand at making these lovelies :D

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These are not too sweet and are laced with just the right hint of cardamom. And the butteriness comes not just from the butter. The rich, fragrant mawa adds another sort of nutty butteriness, which is quite amazing. Try these, you won’t be sorry. Plus, it is a bite right out of history :D

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I have to share these with my lovely friends gathering over at Angie’s Friday Fiesta, co-hosted today by  Nancy @Feasting With Friends and Loretta @Safari of the Mind. Hope they enjoy this hometown favorite of mine.

Here’s the recipe.

Mawa Cakes

  • Servings: 12-18 depending on size of molds
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the Mawa
2 cans (14 oz each) Evaporated Milk (not low fat)
1 cup (250 ml) Heavy Cream

For the Cakes
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom
Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup (100 grams) Mawa, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 cup (100 grams) Sugar
2 Eggs
6 tablespoons Whole Milk
Almond or Cashew Slivers (optional)

Directions:

Prepare the mawa
Place the evaporated milk and heavy cream in a large stainless steel pot or wide saucepan (12-inch) with tall sides.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and let it cook, stirring more than occasionally for about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium and let the mixture cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to thicken.
Turn the heat to medium low and cook another 10 minutes.
At this point, the mixture starts looking like a grainy butterscotch pudding.
No worries, everything is going according to plan.
Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking another 10-15 minutes.
Do more than stirring occasionally there too: there is very little moisture left and the higher risks of scorching happen at that point.
The whole process should take about 50 minutes, pay close attention to the mixture during the first and last 10 minutes of cooking.
The final consistency is that of a very thick pudding.
Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if not using right away. The mawa can also be frozen for up to 3 months. With this mawa recipe, you have 3/4 cup to 1 cup of mawa.

Prepare the cakes
Preheat the oven to 180 C and position a rack in the middle.
Lightly spray with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter) small cupcake, muffin tins or other mini cake moulds. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Reserve.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with hand-held beaters), beat together the mava, butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Turn the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition.
Still with the motor running on low, add the reserved flour mixture and the milk.
Turn the speed back up to medium and beat until the mixture is smooth.
Divide evenly among the prepared cake tins, top each with almond or cashew slivers if using and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Dark Matter: Chestnut and Chocolate Cake

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I am totally unprepared for Halloween this year. It’s not big in Denmark at all except with American expats, though the munchkin is very excited at the prospect of candy :D

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I haven’t made anything particularly halloween-y. No cute-scary ghosts, spiders or mummies. Let’s see if I pull a rabbit out of the bag later, though with my ridiculous schedule, it seems unlikely.

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This cake I made though, kind of inspires dark thoughts… it is a ridiculously decadent cake with a lot and I mean a lot of dark chocolate the 70% cocoa variety) and lovely roasted chestnuts.

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And the best part: it comes with a scary, cautionary tale…

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There is a tree about halfway between my house and the munchkin’s daycare. Every autumn it produces loads of (what I thought were) chestnuts. Two weeks or so ago, feeling very excited about my foraging abilities, the munchkin and I collected a basket full of these beautiful nuts (we weren’t the only ones, other people were collecting too!)

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We got them home, I cleaned them, made the prescribed slash on them with a sharp knife, popped them in the oven and waited eagerly. Once they were done, I cracked one open (which was quite hard to do) and took a little bite. Oh, the disappointment… it was horribly bitter! I tried another one with the same result.

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Confused, I googled ‘bitter chestnuts’ and guess what… these weren’t proper chestnuts, they were horse chestnuts and just perfect for Halloween, also poisonous! Effects include nausea and paralysis, though you would have to eat large quantities for it to be fatal! Needless to say, the whole lot found its way to the trash!

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But I refused to give up my plan to cook with chestnuts this year. So I got the husband to buy me some from a Turkish store that sells them in season, with the sole purpose of making this cake. I have been in love with this cake from Jun-blog ever since I saw it on Pinterest. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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It has an interesting name too: Torta Morbida di Castagne e Cioccolato. I love the ‘Morbida’ in there :D Simply means soft in Italian, but it evokes something quite different to English speakers. Perfect for Halloween, I think!

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There’s hardly any flour in the cake. It is pure dark chocolate heaven and oh-so moist. Interspersed with the sweet chestnuts (yes, the store-bought ones were sweet, thank goodness!) Like Jun says, this cake is rich but not too rich; sweet, but not too sweet :) To me, it was just fabulous. I served it with the Vanilla syrup in which the chestnuts are simmered. Ridiculously good!

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I am bringing along this luscious cake and this cautionary tale over to Angie’s Friday Fiesta this week, co-hosted by the awesome twosome Margy @La Petite Casserole and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook.  ‘Tis the season to be scary, after all :D Happy Halloween!!

Here’s the recipe (adapted from Jun-Blog).

Chestnut and Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Time: 2 hours + time to prep and roast chestnuts
  • Print

Ingredients:

250 grams Chestnuts in shell (will yield about 1 cup roasted, shelled and skinned chestnuts)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean, cut in half lengthwise
Pinch of Salt
150 grams Butter
350 grams Bittersweet Chocolate (I used 70& cocoa)
5 large Eggs, separated
2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour

Directions:

Roasting Chestnuts:
Preheat oven to 250 C.
Wash chestnuts in running water.
Soak in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes to help soften their shells. This will make them easier to slash.
Make a horizontal cut starting at one edge of the flat side, going around the chestnut’s belly, and stopping at the edge of the opposite flat side. Do not cut into the flat side and try to keep the slash shallow.
Spread the chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast them until they are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on their freshness.
Take them off the baking sheet and wrap them tightly in a cloth towel for about 10 minutes before shelling them.
The chestnuts will steam a bit inside the towel, which will make it easier to shell and skin them.
Shell and skin the chestnuts.

Making the cake:
Place chestnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in a large saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 45 minutes.
Remove from heat and let chestnuts cool in syrup, then drain. Reserve syrup.
Preheat oven to 180 C.
Grease a 9-1/2-inch deep fluted tart pan with a removable bottom or a spring-form pan.
Chop chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a metal bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water.
Add brown sugar and butter, stirring until smooth.
Remove bowl from heat and whisk mixture until cooled to lukewarm.
Whisk in egg yolks and flour.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into batter in two additions.
Pour batter into greased pan.
Gently lay chestnuts on top of batter.
Bake until top of cake has formed a thin crust, about 40 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then release from pan and let it cool completely.
Serve with the reserved Vanilla syrup.

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(All the pictures above are of the ‘real’ chestnuts, in case you are wondering :D )

Festive Meals: Paneer Tikka Masala

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Are you enjoying fall yet? For me one of the best parts about this time of the year is that the Indian festive season reaches its sparkly zenith in fall. Navratri, Dassehra and then Diwali!

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I’m sure many of you have been blasted with Diwali-related posts in the last few weeks, so I won’t make this another post about Diwali. Instead I will talk about this crowd pleaser curry that was part of our Diwali lunch this year…

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As a little kid, I was never very fond of paneer. My mom would make paneer from milk that was about to go bad, by adding lemon juice and it would always result in a weird slimy textured, yet crumbly mess.

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I would refuse to taste it even in restaurants, wanting no part of the weirdness. Then one day we went to this locally renowned restaurant with my aunt and cousins and she ordered a dish, which I tasted without knowing what it was.

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And totally loved it! Smoky, melt in your mouth cubes (of something!) in a velvety, creamy, fragrant tomato sauce… Only too late, I found out the cubes were paneer… Paneer, the way it is supposed to be.

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I was in love! So my awesome mom learnt how to make the most wonderful paneer at home from some of our north-Indian neighbours. A skill which she also passed on to my husband, who is now the official paneer-maker at casa Spice in the City :D If you want to learn how to easily make the creamiest, softest paneer, which still stays in shape in any curry, check out his recipe here.

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About this gorgeous Paneer Tikka Masala: Large cubes of Paneer are marinated in yogurt and spices, skewered and then grilled over a barbecue or in the oven or even pan-fried. The same principle as Chicken Tikka. The tikkas are then added to a flavorful tomato sauce. The recipe is very similar to butter chicken. No wonder that Paneer Tikka Masala is the beloved vegetarian substitute for butter chicken in India :)

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I am gonna be fashionably late at Angie’s Friday Fiesta this week, but hope this fabulous curry makes up for the tardiness. Do join me and this week’s co-hosts Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @Birgerbird and meet the amazing bloggers who come together at this awesome soiree each week :D

Here’s the recipe.

Paneer Tikka Masala

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the tikka:
250 to 300 grams paneer, cut into large cubes or squares
1 medium green/red/yellow bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, quartered and the layers separated
6 tablespoons thick Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon Ginger-Garlic paste
1 teaspoon lime juice
½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili powder
½ teaspoon Tandoori Masala (substitute with Garam Masala if not available)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon chickpeas Flour (Besan)
1 teaspoon oil for brushing
½ tsp salt or as per taste
1 large pinch Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

For the Masala Sauce:
2 medium Red Onions, peeled and halved
3 medium tomatoes
10-12 Cashew nuts
1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic paste
2 tablespoon thick Yogurt, whisked till smooth
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
½ teaspoon Cumin powder
½ teaspoon Garam Masala powder
½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili powder
¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 large pinch Kasoori Methi
2 tablespoon heavy Cream
2 tablespoon Oil or Butter
3-4 sprigs Cilantro
Salt as per taste

Directions:

For the grilled Paneer Tikka:
Whisk the yogurt till smooth in a large bowl.
Add the ginger-garlic paste, spice powders, kasoori methi, chickpeas flour and salt. Mix well.
Add the paneer cubes, onion and bell pepper pieces.
Gently mix again so that the marinade coats the paneer, onions and bell peppers evenly.
Cover the bowl & marinate for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
Line a baking tray or pan with aluminum foil.
Thread the paneer cubes on a bamboo or metal skewers, alternating with the onion and bell pepper pieces.
Place the skewers on the prepared pan.
Preheat the oven to 200 C for at least 10 minutes before you grill the tikkas.
Brush about ½ teaspoon oil evenly on the paneer, onion and bell pepper cubes.
Grill the skewers in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or till the pieces are browned at the edges.
You can also pan fry the tikka if desired.

For the Masala Sauce:
Boil a cup of water in a large pan with a pinch of salt.
Add halved onions and tomatoes to the boiling water.
cook for one or two minutes. Switch off the heat. Add cashew nuts to the water. Cover and keep aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
Drain and chop the onions and tomatoes roughly.
Make a smooth fine paste of the onions in a grinder or blender. Keep aside.
Similarly make a smooth puree of the tomatoes in the grinder or blender.
Make a paste of the blanched cashew nuts too.
Keep aside the 3 pastes.
whisk or beat the yogurt till smooth and keep aside.
In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoon oil and then add the onion paste.
stir often and saute till the onions paste turns golden.
Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell of ginger and garlic goes away.
Add the tomato puree. stir well and saute till you see fat leaving sides of the masala.
Now add all the dry spice powders – turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala/tandoori masala.
stir well so that the spices are incorporated in the masala paste evenly.
Now remove the pan from the heat and add the beaten yogurt. Removing the pan from heat will prevent the yogurt from curdling.
stir well. Add 1/2 cup water and salt. stir again.
simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or till the gravy thickens and you see fat floating on the top.
Adjust the consistency of the gravy as desired by adding more or less water.
Add the cashew paste, cream and kasoori methi.
stir well and simmer on a low flame for a minute. check the taste and add more salt or cream if you prefer.
You can also about ½ to 1 teaspoon Sugar for a light sweet taste.
Then add the paneer tikka along with the grilled onions and bell peppers. stir again and switch off the flame.
Garnish with Cilantro & serve with flat breads or rice.

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Diwali Sparkles: Chana Dal Burfi (Split Chickpeas Fudge)

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Diwali… the most shiny, sparkly, blingy of all Indian festivals :D

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The festival that loosens the purse-strings of most people across the country…It is one of the most important, if not the most important festival of Hindus and the whole country gears up to celebrate it over five wonderful days.

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Days filled with rituals, the most wonderful food, the prettiest new clothes and jewellery, decorations, fireworks, and of course lights and lanterns. It is the festival of lights, after all.

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The whole country gets dressed up like a bride… a shimmering Indian bride, naturally… :D

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There is a lot of mythology surrounding Diwali, about what it commemorates and what the significance of this lovely, boisterous festival is. My favorite legend is about the return of Rama to his kingdom of Ayodhya.

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The legend of Rama has all the ingredients of a modern pot-boiler or a Greek tragedy: a cruel step-mother, loyalty, a damsel in distress, a brave king, an evil demon, an epic battle with a happy ending (that turns not so happy soon…but that’s another story).

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Diwali or Deepavali literally means a row of lights. The row of little oil lamps that the citizens of Ayodhya lit, to illuminate the path for their beloved king, Rama, who was returning home, on a moonless night, after 14 years in exile…

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Preparations for Diwali begin about a month in advance in many households. Housewives make prodigious amounts of fabulous sweets and savory snacks to be distributed among family, neighbors and friends during Diwali.

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Now that sort of hard work is not for me, nor do I have the time for it but I do like to keep traditions alive by making at least one sweet and one savory ‘snack’ for Diwali each year. In the past I have made Chivda, Besan Rava Laddoo, Kaju Katli, and Gujiyas.

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This year, I start off Diwali with this gorgeous, melt-in-your-mouth sweet, made with humble split chick peas, called Chana Dal in Hindi. A fudgy, nutty piece of heaven, that is mildly sweet, full of protein and delicately laced with cardamom.

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I am bringing these beauties along to Angie’s Friday Fiesta co-hosted by lovely ladies Hilda and Julianna. I suspect there are going to be other Diwali revelers at the party and I hope we set off some fireworks. Do join us, won’t you :D

Here’s the recipe.

Chana Dal Burfi (Split Chickpeas Fudge)

  • Servings: 16-20 pieces
  • Time: 3 hours including soaking time
  • Print

Ingredients:

100 grams Chana Dal (Split Chickpeas)
1/2 cup Desiccated Coconut
1/2 cup Ghee
450 ml Milk
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
2 tablespoons chopped Pistachios
10 Almonds, chopped
500 ml Water
75 grams Sweetened Condensed Milk (increase if you like more sweetness)

Directions:

Soak the chana dal in the water and keep aside for 2-3 hours.
Strain off the water & cook the dal in 300 ml of milk till soft. Keep aside to cool.
Grind the dal to a coarse paste along with the milk it was cooked in.
Heat ghee in a saucepan, add the dal paste and fry stirring continuously till the mixture is light brown.
Add the Condensed Milk and blend into the mixture.
Then add the remaining milk and cook till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
Add the desiccated coconut, almonds, pistachios and cardamom powder and mix well.
Remove from heat and spread onto a greased tray.
Cool and slice into desired shape.

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Free Range Feast: Cuban Roast Chicken

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I don’t cook very often with whole birds. Christmas maybe (remember last year’s Roast Duck) or one or two other special occasions during the year. Otherwise drumsticks are my go-to cuts for curries and boneless chicken breasts are what I use for appetizers.

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But two weeks ago, I went to our local supermarket on Friday evening and they had these gourmet, free-range whole chickens on sale and I couldn’t resist.

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Cooking with whole birds scares me a bit. It seems simple enough, but different part of the bird cook at different rates and that is always a challenge.

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This time I took the easy way out and used a meat thermometer :) The chicken was perfectly juicy and cooked with the right amount of color on its skin.

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I wanted to use mild seasoning for the chicken this time in order to savor the flavor of that wonderful free-range chicken.

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I made a Cuban-style Mojo marinade with citrus fruits, garlic, cilantro and cumin. And a little dash of soy sauce for the color.

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I roasted it over a bed of onion rings, which cooked in the chicken juices and made the most wonderful accompaniment to this perfect, indulgent Sunday roast.

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Tangy, juicy, crispy skinned chicken. Simple yet heavenly. Doesn’t the glorious color on that chicken make you happy? No? Must just be me then :)

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I served it with a simple salad of baby spinach tossed with tomatoes, onion and lemon juice.

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Comfort food at its best, don’t you think :D And it turned out to be quite easy in the end; makes me wonder why I don’t make it more often…

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Here’s the recipe:

Cuban Roast Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 small Chicken, about 2 kg
1 Orange, zest and juice
1 large Lime, zest and juice
8 Garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dark Soya Sauce
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds, toasted
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 large Onion, cut into thick rings

Directions:

Make the marinade: Zest orange and lime and set aside.
Add juice from lime and orange (should be at least a ½ cup total) and garlic to a blender.
Add oil, salt, pepper, soya sauce and cumin. Blend well.
Rinse and truss chicken and place in large Ziploc bag, with the marinade, turning to coat all the nooks and crannies.
Let sit at room temp for one hour, turning occasionally. (Or marinate up to 24 hours in the refrigerator).
In a large roasting pan, place the onion “rings in a single layer.
Remove chicken from marinade and set it aside on a plate or on parchment paper.
Pour all remaining marinade into the roasting pan.
Nestle the trussed chicken breast side down in the pan.
Place on the lower rack of a 220 C oven for 20 minutes.
Turn chicken over, reduce heat to 200 C, and continue to roast until inner thigh reaches 74 C, about 35-45 minutes more.
Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
Serve with the drippings and a green salad.

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