Saturday, August 30, 2014

Strawberry Coconut Balls

Instant Coconut Ladoos; balls made from 5 ingredients that come together in UNDER 10 minutes! These are great for any festival or celebration! 




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The Indian festival of Ganpati is around the corner. In no time we will be bringing home idols of Ganesha and celebrating the festival in all it's glory with sweets, pujas and festivities. I always like to make Indian sweets to celebrate and this year is no different. I am ready to make some sweets to please the Elephant God and this is the first one!

Inspired by the popular drink Strawberry Colada and keeping in up with the current festive season, I cooked up these Strawberry Colada Balls for Lord Ganesha. These are quick to make and need only a handful of ingredients found commonly in any pantry. The end result is always yum! The recipe takes just 10 minutes and EVERYONE should definitely try it! 



Ingredients to make the Ladoos PERFECT each time

This recipe calls for only a handful of ingredients and is made using a few easy steps. For something so simple, you would not want to go wrong for sure. Here are a few tips I learnt over the years while making these ladoos. They will ensure the end result is PERFECT each time. 

First, use a packet of desiccated coconut that is not too old. This form of shredded coconut lasts longer than the fresh one, but can become smelly. Watch out for that before you start the recipe. 

Lightly roast the coconut without browning it. Browned coconut has a distinct after taste and does not bind well into balls. So keep an eye on the coconut while it roasts. 

These balls are made using strawberry syrup. Easily available in grocery stores and on Amazon, this syrup is used to sweeten milk, ice creams and the like. I generally have a bottle at home and I used that. In case you like another flavor like Khus or Rose, feel free to substitute that for strawberry syrup. The recipe will work just fine. 

Adding a pinch of pink color is totally optional in the recipe but can work well if the brand of strawberry syrup is pale pink. Add only a drop or two to avoid getting a super deep color. Skipping it is okay too! 

I added a little bit of cardamom powder to get an Indian flavor. If you do not like it, skip it. It does add a LOT of flavor to the recipe so I like to use it each time.



Making and storing these Ladoos

The method to make these ladoos is really simple. Ready in just 10 minutes, this is one of the EASIEST Indian sweets for sure. With just some precautions as mentioned above, you can get a BIG batch in no time. 

Once the mixture of coconut and strawberry is ready, there are plenty of options to shape them. Use a mold and make cute modaks of the mixture, roll them into balls and serve coated with more coconut, make balls stuffed with jam or nuts or just make bars of the mixture. The possibilities are endless! 

As these balls have condensed milk in them, they are best refrigerated. While they will not go bad in a couple of days on the kitchen counter, I like to refrigerate them to keep them fresh for a longer time. 



Love Indian sweets? Then you must try one of these:

This post has been updated from the recipe archives in 2019.

Ingredients

Ghee 1 tsp


Method

Heat ghee in a pan. Set aside 2 tbsp coconut and add the rest to the hot ghee. Cook it for 2-3 minutes, stirring to ensure it does not stick or turn brown. 

Add Sweetened Condensed Milk and Strawberry Syrup to the roasted coconut. Mix well and cook for about 4-5 minutes till it all comes together as a thick ball.

Next add in the Cardamom Powder and stir. Turn down the flame and let the mixture cool for a few minutes. 

Let the mixture be cool enough to handle with your hands. Grease hands with ghee and take 1-1.5 tablespoon of the mixture and shape it into a ball. Repeat for all the mixture.

Roll the freshly made ball in desiccated coconut. Keep the balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sugar-free Dry Fruit Modak

To welcome the Elephant God, this Ganesh Chaturthi I thought of making some tasty modak, different from the regular ones that are made from coconut and rice flour. Also, I needed something quick and simple that would not require a mould.

Finally I narrowed down to these sugar-free dumplings, made from dry-fruits and has the sweetness from raisins and dates. This sweet can be made in any form, cubes of dates and dry-fruits, balls coated with poppy seeds or like I have done; modaks without a mould!! The recipe is enough to make 20 modaks and is a quick one, taking just about half an hour. 



Ingredients
Dried Seedless Dates 2 cups
Raisins 1/4 cup
Almonds 1/4 cup
Cashewnuts 1/4 cup
Pistachios 1/4 cup
Poppy seeds 2 tbsp
Ghee 2 tsp

Method
Roughly chop almonds, cashew and pistachios. Dry roast them in a pan, one after the other for about 2-3 minutes each. Remove from pan and allow them to cool. Roast poppy seeds in the same 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 chopped dates and raisins. On medium heat cook them together till they form a thick mass. Do not leave the mixture unattended else it might burn. After about 5-7 minutes when the mixture comes together, remove from heat and cool. Whip this in a food processor or blender to a coarse paste.

Transfer the dates raisins mixture to the pan and add the crushed nuts. On medium flame homogenize the mixture till it all comes together to form a thick mass. This should take about 10 minutes. 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 modaks by scooping 1 tbsp. of the mixture and shaping it with my hands.

Tasty and sugar-less sweets are ready!









Ganpati Bappa Morya!!

Also try the Sweet Vermicelli for offering to Lord Ganesha.





Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sweet and Savory Pinwheels

Pinwheels are a beautiful decoration and delight children of all ages. They come in different colors and are a must have all parties. So are these sweet and savory pinwheels!! They are a true delight to have, and can be made in different flavors depending on your taste and imagination. Just as the paper pinwheels can be made in a jiffy, these party appetizers are equally easy to make.

All you need to make these pinwheels is a box of puff pastry, an oven and loads of imagination! make them sweet or savory, with a milk wash or an egg wash; the choice is all yours. I made them of two types, the sweet ones with grape jam and the savory ones with butter and garlic salt. They are both a delight to eat. You can also add different fillings and make them of a larger size, but I chose to keep them bite sized.




Ingredients
Store bought Puff pastry
Your choice of jam
Butter, at room temperature
Garlic Salt


Method
Thaw the puff pastry to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Dust the working surface with allpurpose or wheat flour and keep the thawed pastry sheet on it. Gently roll the rectangular sheet to double its size, retaining the shape. Once the sheet is rolled out, make squares out of it. The number of squares will depend on the sheet size. I originally used a 5" sheet rolled out to 10" and made 9 equal squares out of it of about 3" each. If you want to serve them as a snack, make larger squares. 

Lay parchment paper on a baking tray or grease it with butter. Cut each square diagonally from the corner to the centre, but not entirely till the centre. Place the squares on the greased baking tray. Place little jam of your choice in the centre for the sweet ones. Place some butter and sprinkle garlic salt in it. Fold each point on the periphery to the centre, making the shape of a pinwheel. Stick the points on the centre and press well. 




Place the baking tray in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes till the top becomes lightly brown. Remove from oven once done, and cool them on a cooling rack. Once completely cool, sprinkle brown sugar on the sweet ones (this is completely optional). Serve them for breakfast or serve as an appetizer at dinner or any party! These pinwheels can be stored in airtight containers for a week!! 





Another simple recipe using puff pastry is Khari biscuits; quick recipe using just two ingredients!!



Try out these Almond Cardamom Cookies too, really tasty and easy to make!!



Monday, August 25, 2014

Khari Biscuits

The most famous item in any Irani cafe in Mumbai; the most sought after biscuit in Surat, a city in Gujarat; a pretty complex looking piece of tea-time snack. Yes I am talking about the Khari biscuit. Eaten it so often in different places at different times of the day, who knew these biscuits were so easy to prepare? 




Based on which flavor you want to make, you will need two or three ingredients. I have made the simple butter Khari, using just butter and store bought puff pastry sheets. The other variations to this could be Cinnamon Khari, Jeera Khari or Masala Khari biscuits. 





Ingredients
1 packet store bought puff pastry sheets
Butter
Cumin Seeds, a handful





Method
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a baking tray, line parchment paper or grease it with butter or ghee. Thaw the puff pastry to room temperature. Once it is at room temperature, cut it into three or four pieces depending on the size of the sheet and required biscuit sizes. I made biscuits of two sizes, long ones to dip in tea and eat; and bite sized ones too.

In order to make masala or jeera khari, sprinkle cumin seeds or masala on the sheet, and lightly roll the rolling pin on it to stick the cumin/ masala onto the sheet. Then cut the biscuits.





Place the cut puff pastry on the baking tray, and brush little butter to it. You can also brush milk on them. Bake the biscuits till the top is slightly brown. I took 12 minutes for the smaller biscuits and 15 for the big ones. However, the time varies based on the sheets and the oven make.

Once they are little brown, remove from the oven and cool on cooling rack. Once completely cool transfer to airtight container and enjoy with a cup of Masala Chai! These biscuits can be stored in airtight containers for a week to ten days!!  







If you want to give your puff pastry a sweet or savory touch, try these Sweet and Savory Pinwheels.




Also try these simple and tasty 5 ingredient, 30 minute Almond Cardamom Cookies, our favorite Nankhatai!!



Try these Chocolate Mooncake Cookies too!!



Friday, August 22, 2014

Dal Dhokli

Dal dhokli is a sunday morning delight in most traditional Gujarati households! A perfect combination of spiced whole wheat flour dhoklis simmered in gujarati dal, this can be classified as a sumptuous one-dish meal, but you could also serve it with rice to make it all the more tasty and wholesome. When served with rice, you bring in all the staples in just one dish:rice, roti and dal! Just remember to simmer the dhokli in dal just before serving, or else it will turn soggy.



Ingredients
For the dal
Split pigeon peas (tuvar dal) 2 cups
Oil to temper
Curry Leaves 
Peanuts 3 tbsp
Bay Leaves 1-2
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Asafoetida
Cloves, Cinnamon, whole Black Pepper
Green Chilli, finely chopped 
Tomato 1 medium, diced
Turmeric powder, Red Chilli Powder, Salt, Sugar, Lime Juice
Cilantro to garnish

For the Dhokli
Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Red Chilli powder, Turmeric powder, Asafoetida
Carrom seeds 1 tsp
Salt
Oil to knead the flour

Method
Boil the dal with 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker till the dal is tender. Mash it completely and keep aside.

In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients of the dhokli except oil and water. Mix everything well, add 2 tbsp. oil and make a crumbly mixture. Next add water as per requirement and knead a stiff dough. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.

In a deep pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida. Next add the curry leaves, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and peanuts. Once the peanuts start to become brown, add green chilli and tomato. Once the tomatoes are slightly soft, add the mashed dal and 1 cup water. The mixture should be watery as the dhoklis will absorb most of the water while getting cooked. Add salt, sugar and lemon juice to taste and let the dal simmer.

Take the dhokli dough and divide it into balls of equal size. Lightly oil the working surface and roll out the dhoklis to circles of about 3-4mm thickness. Using a knife or pizza cutter cut out squares or rectangles of all the dhoklis. Add all the dhoklis together to the dal to ensure they cook at the same time! In case the dhokli absorbs all the water, add some more hot water to the dal dhokli. Simmer on medium flame till the dhoklis are tender. 

Once the dhoklis are cooked, adjust the salt, sugar and lime juice depending on the amount of water added. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with Phulka roti or steamed rice.



Variations: To get the sweet and tangy taste, sugar can be substituted with jaggery and lime juice with kokam or imli. Whatever you can get your hands on!

Cheats
If you want to roll out the dough at an early time and make the dish during lunchtime, here is a way: Make the dal as per the recipe above. Roll out the dhoklis and slightly cook them on the tava without any oil. Cut them and keep them ready to be put into the dal. When you are ready to make the dish, simmer the dal and drop in these cut dhoklis. This way they cook faster and do not become too soggy too soon!!

Another cheater way to do the same if you are too bored to roll out the dhoklis would be to buy thepla from any Indian store, cut it and drop the cut dhoklis into simmering dal!!




Thursday, August 21, 2014

Babycorn Chilli

A very versatile Chinese appetizer as well as main course dish, Babycorn Chilli is an easy to prepare dish, loved by all. Serve it dry as a starter or make it with little gravy and serve with Fried Rice or Noodles. I have had this dish very often in India, but in US I haven't seen fresh babycorn at any store yet. Not at the farmer's market, or at any Asian or Indian store! So the only option is to buy the packed babycorn and make it. This dish tastes the same whether made from fresh babycorn or frozen ones, because the taste is more in the condiments than in the corn itself!

A very simple way to prepare this dish, without frying the corn as some restaurants do, this dish truly brings back the memories of Indo-Chinese food eaten in Mumbai.

Ingredients
1 can babycorn, drained
1 medium bell pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, minced
Green chilli, as per taste
Spring Onion greens
Soy sauce, Vinegar
Corn starch
Chilli and vegetable oil
Salt, Pepper
Cilantro

Method
In a deep mixing bowl, add half the ginger, garlic and some minced green chilli. Add salt and pepper along with the sauces. The babycorn can be used as it is, or cut it length wise if it is too thick. Marinate the babycorn for half an hour in this mixture. Do not add any water as we want to make a dry appetizer. 

Heat 2 tsp. vegetable oil in a wok. Sprinkle dry corn starch on the babycorn and mix well. Ensure the mixture is not very moist. Sauté the babycorn in oil till the outer coat of corn starch is cooked. Remove from flame and keep aside. In the same oil, add the chilli oil. Sauté the remaining garlic and ginger. Add slit green chillies along with bell pepper and mix well. Add the cooked babycorn to the wok, mix well and serve garnished with spring onions and cilantro.

Serve this as an appetizer, or over a bowl of Vegetable Fried Rice. Also try a similar main course: Tofu in Chilli Garlic Sauce. Team with Spicy Chilli Garlic Noodles and bring home the taste of China town!!









Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tofu in Chilli Garlic Sauce

Tofu has a low calorie count and relatively large amounts of protein. It is high in iron and considered a healthy option to paneer. Eating tofu in India which used to be generally rubbery was not the most pleasant experience. But once I came to US and saw that the Asian stores sell six types of tofu, ranging from silken to extra firm, I thought of giving it another chance. And I am glad that it has replaced paneer in most of my Indo Chinese dishes!

This dish, Tofu in Hot Chilli Garlic Sauce is an adaption of Mumbai style Paneer in Chilli Sauce made healthy using tofu. A quick main course dish, it can be easily teamed with Fried Rice or Chilli Garlic noodles. Also, tofu can be replaced with anything of your choice, from cubed paneer to babycorn, asparagus or mixed vegetable balls.

Ingredients
1 packet Firm or Extra Firm Tofu, diced
1 medium Onion, diced
1 medium Green Pepper, diced
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 inch piece Ginger, minced
1-2 dry red Chilli
Spring Onions
Sauces(Soy, Chilli, Vinegar, Sriracha Garlic)
Corn starch
Salt, Pepper to taste
Cilantro
Chilli Oil
Vegetable Oil

Method
In a mixing bowl marinate tofu in a mixture of some garlic, half the ginger, sauces, salt and pepper. The proportions of sauces can be altered as per personal taste. Let the mixture stand for about half hour.

In a wok sauté garlic and ginger in vegetable oil mixed with chilli oil. Add the Onions, Pepper, dry chilli and sauté. Transfer the marinated tofu to the wok and gently mix, ensuring the tofu pieces do not break. Add some more Sriracha garlic sauce, salt, pepper and mix. 

Dissolve 1-2 tsp. of Corn Starch in some cold water. Add the corn slurry to the wok and stir to ensure it does not stick to the bottom. Once the corn starch starts becoming transparent it is cooked. Adjust the water content to get the desired consistency of the sauce. Adjust the salt to taste. Turn off the gas and add chopped Spring Onions and Cilantro. Tofu in Chilli Garlic Sauce is ready!


Serve with Vegetable Fried Rice or Spicy Garlic Noodles to complete a delicious Indo-Chinese meal at home!!




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Guiltfree Crunchy Garlic Croutons

A crouton is a piece of sautéed or re baked bread, often cubed and seasoned, that is used to add texture and flavor to salads, notably the Caesar salad, as an accompaniment to soups, or eaten as a snack food. The word crouton is derived from the French croûton, itself derived from croûte, meaning "crust".

Most often restaurants serve croutons with tomato soup etc that are made of plain bread and deep fried. A healthier and more tasty alternative to the fried mess is the baked croutons with a dash of garlic and herbs. Simple to make and the taste is just like the fried version!




Ingredients
Bread of your choice, preferably a day old
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tbsp. Butter
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried herbs (Oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc)
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Black pepper powder

Method
In a small pan mix oil and butter. Heat till the butter melts. Now add the garlic and sauté. Add herbs, black pepper powder and mix well. Turn down the flame. 

While the herbs infuse their flavor in the oil and butter, cube the bread slices. If the bread is fresh, it will be very soft and crumble. Thus, a day old bread works the best. Make about 9 cubes from each slice of bread. 

In a large mixing bowl take the bread. Drizzle the  seasoned oil-butter mixture and add the sea salt. Mix the slices well such that the cubes are well coated with herbs and oil. Preheat the oven to 350 F. On a baking tray arrange the bread slices in a single layer. Bake them for 7-10 minutes, till they turn golden brown. Remove tray and serve the croutons with soup or salad.





these croutons taste amazing with this Carrot Tomato Soup.