Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sugarfree Anjeer Rolls | Fig Rolls

Can you all imagine that Diwali is around the corner! Like, really. Were not we celebrating Ganesha just a few days ago? This realization has led me to start thinking of what all I want to include in my Diwali menu this year. Every year I like to make something for everyone around me depending on their choice. 



Over the years a few of my loved ones have started avoiding sweets with sugar. It is the right thing to do during festive season. We are almost always bombarded with sweets that have a lot of sugar from friends and family and it is rude to turn them down and too much for us to consume! Those are the times when we wish we probably should have fewer relatives, or at least few of these pushy ones! 






Now turn the discussion around to put yourself in the relatives place and them in your shoes. It pains me to think that a dear one turns down my request to have a sweet that I took so much pain to make just because it has too much sugar. So to overcome that problem, I thought of making this sugarless sweet for Diwali this year. 




Yes you read it right, this sweet has zero added sugar, it only has the natural sweetness from figs/anjeer. The addition of dry fruits and poppy seeds gives it a great texture and the greatest advantage besides the sugar is that it is made just TWO TEASPOONS of ghee!! Yes that is all you need to make this sweet. So finally you can make your friends and relatives smile when see a plate full of these rolls and enjoy them without guilt too! Read on to find out how. Do leave your thoughts and comments at the end of the recipe.




Ingredients
Anjeer/ Dried figs 2 cups
Almonds 1/4 cup
Cashewnuts 1/4 cup
Pistachios 1/4 cup
Poppy seeds 2 tbsp
Ghee 2 tsp
Edible silver varak (optional)



Method
Soak the dried figs in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Once soft, blend to a coarse paste in a food processor. Set aside. Roughly chop almonds, cashew and pistachios. Dry roast them in a pan till fragrant but not changing color. Set aside and roast poppy seeds in the pan for a minute, and add them to the nuts. Once cool, pulse the nuts and poppy seeds to a coarse mixture. You can choose how coarse you want the nuts to be.





In the same pan, heat ghee and add the anjeer paste and the poppy seed and nuts. On medium heat cook till it all forms a thick mass. Do not leave the mixture unattended else it might burn. After about 5-7 minutes when the mixture comes together. Shut off the gas and let the mixture cool till it can be handled with bare hands. 

The shape of the final product completely depends on you. If you want cubes, pour the mixture in a greased tray and once little cool, cut them to squares. If you want balls, take 1 tbsp. of the mixture, shape it like a ball with greased hands and coat it in poppy seeds. I made rolls out of the mixture. To do so, divide the mixture into two parts and form a roll out of each part. Press the roll into a plate filled with roasted poppy seeds and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Remove and slice them with a sharp knife into discs of 1 cm thickness. Add some silver varak if desired. Tasty and sugar-less sweets are ready!






If you prefer to make the same out of dates, see this recipe here: Sugar-free dates modaks.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Quick Rose Kalakand

Kalakand, a famous Indian sweet that has milk as its main ingredient is made in Indian subcontinent during different festivals and celebrations such as Holi, Diwali, Navratri and Eid. A huge pan is kept on a flame and large amount of milk is boiled stirring it continuously till it is thickened with sugar and dry fruits. From the traditional recipe of kalakand there are many variations based on the flavor that is liked. 




While reading the first paragraph you might think it is a tough task, but here is a secret I have used in this recipe: I did not use any milk to start this recipe! Shocked? Here is another one, I used Ricotta Cheese to get the same texture as the traditional kalakand. I had never used ricotta cheese till some time back when a friend suggested it is a magical ingredient! And over the past few months I have realized it's potential too. From savory dishes like spinach corn ricotta puffs to sweets like malai peda, instant rasmalai and kesar modak, this ingredient has now become my pantry favorite. Not only is this ingredient easy to work with, it also cooks very fast and goes well with all dry fruits, saffron and rose. Ricotta cheese has reduced my effort of standing next to the stove and stirring the milk for an hour to a mere task!




I did not want the kalakand that we make with just dry fruits and sugar. So I decided to flavor it with rose; using rose syrup, gulkand and fresh rose petals in it. If you do not have any of the ingredients, do not panic. If you do not have gulkand, just replace it with rose syrup. However, the fresh rose is used to get the pink color of the kalakand. If you do not get the same color from the roses you use, add a pinch of pink food color to get a bright colored kalakand. I have used some pieces of silver varak on the top, which is absolutely optional. And here I used just pistachios, but replace it with dry fruit of your choice. Make a big lot of this sweet as it is so yummy, you will need a big one!!



Ingredients

Ricotta cheese 2 cups
Sweetened Condensed Milk 3/4 cup
Milk 1/4 cup
Rose Syrup 1 tbsp
Fresh Rose 8-10 petals
Gulkand 2 tbsp
Pistachios 1/4 cup
Edible Varak (optional)

Method

In a heavy bottom pan add the ricotta cheese and set it on medium flame. Cook the cheese for at least 25-30 minutes, till all the water evaporates and you are left with a crumbly cheese that does not have water content.

Now add all the other ingredients except pistachios and varak to the cheese and mix well. Let the mixture cook on medium flame for about 30 minutes or until it becomes thick. Turn down the heat and transfer to a plate that is lined with some ghee. Press to an even layer and press in the chopped pistachios. Apply the silver varak if desired. Let it cool and then make squares. Enjoy! 









For more sweets and savory recipes using Ricotta Cheese, see these:


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Malai Peda

I was enjoying that Ganesh Chaturthi has just gone by, and look what I realized today, Dashera is just a couple of days away! I think this Navratri just went by with a wink of an eye, here we stand a day away from it's end. So on the Indian festival of Dashera, a festival where we celebrate Lord Rama's triumph over the demon Ravan I decided to make these malai pedas. This recipe is definitely going to be on my Diwali cooking this year, and I thought I should share it here too. 




The malai pedas are really easy to make, needing just 5 ingredients and just about an hour. With ricotta cheese being the main ingredient along with condensed milk, the other ingredients are optional. If you prefer a cardamom flavored sweet, skip the saffron and just add cardamom powder. If you prefer a flavor like almond, add some almond powder and almond extract to get the flavor. Once the ricotta and condensed milk mixture is ready, you can pretty much customize it to your preference.




I have only used saffron mixed in lukewarm milk to get the color in these pedas and so they are light yellow. If you prefer a darker shade like the sweet stores, add some yellow food color to the mixture and you will achieve that. This is a really simple recipe that you should try for Diwali this year. Continue reading and do remember to check out Kesar Malai Modak and Instant Ricotta Rasmalai as alternatives to this ricotta based sweet. Do leave your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the page. 



Ingredients

Ricotta cheese 2 cups
Sweetened Condensed Milk 3/4 cup
Milk 1/4 cup
Saffron 1 tsp
Cardamom powder 2 tbsp



Method

Heat the milk till lukewarm, add the saffron and set aside. In a heavy bottom pan add the ricotta cheese and set it on medium flame. Cook the cheese for at least 25-30 minutes, till all the water evaporates and you are left with a crumbly cheese that does not have water content.



Now add the condensed milk to the cheese and mix well. Let the mixture cook on medium flame for about 30 minutes or until it becomes thick. Add the saffron and milk along with the cardamom powder and mix well. Let the color of the saffron come up in the pedas and the mixture become thick again. Turn down the heat and transfer to a bowl. Cool the mixture for an hour or refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Remove, knead it one more time and grease your palms with ghee. Divide the mixture into equal sized balls. Flatten the balls to make the pedas. Enjoy! They stay good for atleast 4-5 days when refrigerated.











For more sweets using Ricotta Cheese, head here:


Friday, October 16, 2015

Punjabi Dum Aloo

Dum Aloo is a popular Indian entree that is served with flatbreads, rice, papad and raita. Different states of India have their own way of preparing the same dish, a simple combination of baby potatoes, gravy and spices. The Kashmiri version does not have onion or tomatoes and the gravy is made from yogurt. In Bengal, this dish is made in mustard oil with onion tomato gravy. The UP version does not have any garlic or onion. There is also the Mughlai version and the Banarasi style of making it.



This recipe is for the Punjabi style of Dum Aloo, the one that has baby potatoes, tomato onion gravy and is full of Indian spices. In India we used to get the baby potatoes all the time from the local vegetable vendor. However, here in the US, the concept of food is SUPER SIZED and so finding these mini potatoes is always a challenge. I got these potatoes a couple of times before, but sometimes I would end up barbecuing them or sometimes end up making jeera aloo.



This time when I found these baby potatoes, I was sure I was going to make this version of Punjabi Dum Aloo. The true version has fried potatoes, but I generally prefer not to fry too many things. So this is a non-fried version where I have sauteed them in little oil. It takes a while to brown them, but it uses very little oil.



Ingredients
Baby Potatoes 2 cups
Garlic 2 cloves, minced
Ginger, 1/2 inch piece
Onion 1 medium, diced
Tomatoes 3 medium, diced
Spices (Bay leaves 1-2,  Cloves 2-3, Cinnamon 1 inch, Black Pepper 5-6, Dried Red Chili 1-2)
Magaj seeds (Watermelon seeds) 1/4 cup
Cashews 4-5
Condiments (Mustard seeds 1 tsp, Cumin seeds 1 tsp, Asafoetida pinch, Red chili powder 1 tbsp, Turmeric powder 1 tsp, Dhania powder 1 tbsp, salt, sugar) 
Oil/Butter 5 tbsp
Kasuri Methi 1 tsp
Cilantro, Lime juice



Method

Pressure cook the potatoes with a pinch of salt for 3 whistles. Once done, peel if you prefer them without peels and cool. In a flat saucepan, add 3-4 tbsp oil and heat. Once hot, place the potatoes in it and let them brown on all sides on medium to high heat. Set aside.

In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp butter or oil. Add the cinnamon, cloves and pepper. Next put in the dried red chili and  and sauté them for a minute. Throw in the garlic and ginger and cook till it is soft. Add diced onions, and salt and cook till they are transparent. Add the red chili powder and tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Turn down the flame and purée  the mixture along with cashewnut and magaz seeds. The cashews can be soaked in warm water for ten minutes to soften them before adding to the mixture. Pass through a sieve to remove the tomato seeds and peels. 




In a pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and add mustard seeds. Once they pop, add cumin seeds. Now, add in the  purée and mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil and you will see the oil separating from the gravy, and the gravy also turns red. Add the haldi, dhania jeera and sugar. Add the potatoes and let the mixture simmer on medium flame for 4-5 minutes. Adjust the water to get the required consistency and add salt if required. Add kasuri methi and mix well.  

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with onion rings, pickle and raita. This tastes good with Naan, Garlic Kulcha as well as paratha. Dum Aloo is often served with steamed or Jeera Rice.









For a list of other Indian entrees, check this post: 12 amazing yet easy Indian Entrees.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Bundts

It is officially Fall and pumpkins are in season. From the various farms around the Bay Area to the farmers market selling these squashes in multiple colors and sizes, it is all about pumpkins this month. We enjoy them all of October and it culminates in Halloween. So after these amazing dishes like Roasted Butternut Squash soupEasy Pumpkin Soup, Pasta in Pumpkin Sauce and Pumpkin Cheesecake it is time for some pumpkin baking. 



The thought of baking with pumpkin brought up a rustic bread with pumpkin seeds or oats muffins overloaded with pumpkin spice. But then I thought of the mini bundt pan that I have not used for a while. The shape and size resembles those cute pumpkins! So they seemed perfect to go with the season. So I baked these cute bundts to welcome Fall. If you do not have a bundt pan, use a muffin pan to bake them. The shape might be different, the taste still divine :)



Also, this recipe is an eggless one. I have been baking with eggs since the beginning. It is only lately that I have started baking without eggs. Sometimes I use crushed chia seeds to replace them and as in this recipe and these Blueberry Muffins, I have used Greek Yogurt. Both are perfect substitutes for eggs, but i personally prefer yogurt, because they give really creamy muffins and cakes. If you do not mind eggs, add 2 eggs instead of yogurt.



Baking the bundts was one part of the plan, and topping it with something nice was another. I did not want to use the conventional heavy cream, so I used 1/4 cup of cream cheese. Flavor it with pumpkin spice, add some sugar and you have the perfect quantity to ice exactly 8 mini bundts. If you prefer to have them naked, ditch the topping and enjoy the bundts! Have a great Fall peeps!



Ingredients

For the Bundts
All purpose flour 2 cup
Greek yogurt 1 1/4 cup
Pumpkin Puree 3/4 cup
Confectioner's Sugar 1/2 cup
Powdered Brown Sugar 1/4 cup
Baking Soda 3/4 tsp
Baking Powder 3/4 tsp
Pumpkin Spice 1 tbsp
Vegetable Oil 2 tbsp
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
Salt a pinch

For the Topping
Cream Cheese 1/4 cup
Sugar 1/4 cup
Pumpkin Spice 1 tsp




Method

In a large mixing bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin spice and salt. Set aside. In another mixing bowl whisk sugars with greek yogurt and oil. Add vanilla extract and homogenize into a smooth mixture. Add pumpkin puree and mix well. Pour half the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk. Once combined, repeat with the remaining mixture and whisk on medium speed to form a smooth batter. 

Preheat oven to 375 F and line the bundt or muffin mold with nonstick spray or oil. Divide the mixture equally among the 8 bundts and bake for 35 minutes. Test with a toothpick, if it comes out clean, the bundts are done.




To make the topping, homogenize the cream cheese, add sugar and pumpkin spice. Beat again to a smooth mixture. Refrigerate till ready to use.





Serve these bundts as breakfast with a cup of milk or coffee. Top the bundt with a spoonful of spiced cream cheese and sprinkle some extra spice on top. These bundts are perfect to be taken on a trip this fall and enjoyed by themselves. Make a large lot and enjoy these pumpkin bundts as a guilt free dessert with pumpkin ice-cream!