Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Besan Ladoo

Rich and delicious, melt in the mouth besan ladoos. This Indian sweet recipe made from chickpea flour, sugar and ghee is naturally gluten free and easy to make! 





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Festive season is around the corner. Indian festivals means a LOT of sweets to enjoy and share with family. 

Besan ladoo is one such recipe that I make very often. An easy to make sweet that doubles up as a snack. Full of nutrition and quite healthy, these ladoos are a favorite in our house. Especially the type that is creamy and smooth.

We make a Gujarati sweet Magaj from besan and this is like a close cousin. With minor variations, both the sweets are super addictive.


What is needed to make besan ladoo?




Besan Ladoo is a popular Indian sweet. Made using gram flour, sugar and nuts, this ladoo has a relatively longer shelf life than most sweets. 

Besan or Gram flour; i.e a flour made using either chana dal (yellow split bengal gram) or chickpeas forms the base for this recipe. This can be bought from the store or milled fresh.


This flour is available in two variants; a slightly coarse ladoo besan or the super fine besan for everyday cooking. Either one works here. I have used the fine variety to make my ladoos smooth and creamy.

Along with besan, we use finely ground sugar or confectioners' sugar. This is needed to sweeten the ladoos. If the sugar is not powdered, it might not be possible to make smooth laddos from the mix.

Cardamom is my spice of choice for so many recipes. It imparts a brilliant aroma and flavor to the recipes. I also like to add a small pinch of nutmeg to the recipe. It gives a delicious flavor. 

Nuts in the recipe can vary from just almonds or cashews or pistachios to a mix of them all. Adding raisins is optional but works well.





Tips to make them perfectly each time



This recipe is fairly straightforward and easy to make for everyone. Just a few points to keep in mind while making it. 

Use fresh besan for the recipe. Besan that has been sitting for months may not give the best result. It can be milled fresh and used too.

Roast the besan on low flame till it is nutty. This is the only crucial step in the recipe that needs some attention. It does take time, but it will all be worth in the end! 


My grandmother often said that the neighbors should be able to tell that besan ladoos are being made from the aroma of roasted besan. That is how flavorful it becomes! 

Use a thick kadhai or non stick pan to roast the besan. Remember that the pan might be super hot so transfer the besan on roasting to avoid it from burning.

Sift the besan and sugar before using it in the recipe. That step eliminates lumps in the mix and results in super smooth ladoos. 

Use good quality ghee for the recipe. I make my own using this recipe. 

Adding sugar after the mixture has cooled completely is essential. If sugar is added to hot besan, it will melt and make the entire thing turn to liquid and it will not bind together.





Variations



I generally make these as round balls. However the same can be made as barfi too. Known as besan chakki, the steps remain the same till mixing in sugar. Then, transfer to a greased tray and press it down. Once set, cut into cubes. 


If you like grainy texture, substitute fine besan with ladoo besan or coarse besan. 



Ingredients


Ghee or clarified butter 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
Cardamom Powder 1/4 tsp 
Nutmeg powder a pinch
AlmondsCashews and Pistachios 8-10, slivered
Raisins (optional) 6-7

Method


Sift besan and set aside. Sift powdered sugar to remove any large chunks. Set aside.

In a thick bottom pan heat ghee on low flame. Once the ghee melts, add the sifted besan. Mix well and separate the clumps.

Roast the besan on medium flame for 25-30 minutes till it is golden in color, nutty and aromatic. It will release ghee.

On roasting it further it will turns to a smooth paste. Add a teaspoon of ghee is it feels dry.

Remove from heat and transfer the besan to a wide plate so that it cools quickly.

Add cardamom powder and mix well. 

Once the mixture cools for 15-20 minutes, add in sugar, almonds, cashews, pistachios and raisins (if using). 

Mix well. Grease palms with some ghee and form small balls using the mixture. I could make 9 medium size ladoos. 

Place some nuts on top. 





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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Eggless Mango Custard Pudding

A delightful take on Vanilla Pudding, this Mango Custard Pudding is airy, light and delicious. An easy to make dessert; this comes together in minutes!



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Mango season calls for delicious desserts that are easy to make. This time I am making a custard recipe that is easy, super light and perfect for any summer party. 

Mangos have forever been my summer favorite. A fruit so versatile that it can be used in SO many recipes; mango finds a spot in my refrigerator through summer. 


From salsa and curries to desserts, drinks and ice creams; the number of ways that mangos can be used are countless. 


If you are a mango lover too; you MUST check out these: Fajeto [Gujarati Mango Kadhi]Mango Kulfi [Indian style Ice Cream]Mango LassiMango Salsa [Pico De Gallo]Eggless Mango Mousse and Mango Falooda.



What is Mango Custard?



A delicious way to enjoy mangos is making desserts using them. The flavor and sweetness from mangos makes them great for this purpose. 


Mango custard is a luscious, sweet, creamy dessert that does full justice to the flavor of mangos. 



This dessert is made with a handful of ingredients and is super easy to make. It is not very heavy as it does not have any cream etc. 




What you need to make Mango Custard?


This recipe starts with milk and uses just a few ingredients like mango purée, sugar and vanilla extract. 

The main ingredient in this recipe is CORNSTARCH. A natural thickener, this helps thicken the milk and make it super creamy. 

Custard powder is generally used for all kinds of custard recipes, but here we make it from scratch. Just like the store bought custard powder; it has a hint of vanilla for flavor. The mango and vanilla come together wonderfully. 


Mango is the flavor so there is LOTS of mangos in the recipe. Mango purée from fresh Kent mangos is used in the custard and it is topped with chopped mangos. 


Why is this recipe amazing?


This recipe is one of the BEST desserts to make through summer. Here is why we love it.

It needs only a handful of ingredients that are not very complicated. A few pantry essentials and milk is all we need! 

This custard recipe is easy to make. No baking, no churning etc. Just a few steps and you get bowls full of goodness! 

It can be made using fresh mangos or pulp. Or even with other fruits if desired.

This custard pudding can be refrigerated for up to 3 days! It is a perfect make ahead dessert for parties.


Can this recipe be made without fresh mangos?


Yes, definitely. If you cannot find fresh mangos, the same can be made using store bought canned mango too. 

The only thing to remember is that this purée may have sugar. So adjust the added sugar accordingly. 


If you would like to make the same pudding with a different fruit; it can be made using fresh strawberry, blueberry or raspberry.


Steps to make Mango Custard


In a pan add sugar and cornstarch. 

Slowly add cold milk and mix well to avoid lumps. 




Heat on medium flame till the mixture thickens. Keep stirring and break any lumps that form.

Once the mixture thickens turn down the flame. 



Add vanilla extract and mango purée. 


Mix well.




Pass the mixture through a sieve into another bowl. 

Cover with plastic wrap. Press down the wrap to touch the custard surface so that it does not form a skin. 




Once the mixture cools for 30-40 minutes, transfer to smaller bowls or leave it as is.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours and serve topped with mango pieces, maraschino cherries and mint leaves. 


Ingredients


Mango purée 3/4 cup
Corn starch 1/4 cup
Sugar 1/4 cup
Mango pieces 1/4 cup
Maraschino cherries and mint leaves as needed

Method

To make the mango purée pulse 1 medium peeled and seeded mango till smooth.

In a pan add sugar and cornstarch. 

Slowly add cold milk and mix well to avoid lumps. Heat on medium flame till the mixture thickens. Keep stirring and break any lumps that form.

Once the mixture thickens turn down the flame. Add vanilla extract and mango purée. 

Pass the mixture through a sieve into another bowl. 

Cover with plastic wrap. Press down the wrap to touch the custard surface so that it does not form a skin. 

Once the mixture cools for 30-40 minutes, transfer to smaller bowls or leave it as is.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours and serve topped with mango pieces, maraschino cherries and mint leaves. 





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Monday, July 20, 2020

Instant Pot Refried Beans

This quick and easy Restaurant style refried beans is made in the Instant Pot. Only a handful of ingredients required to make these beans for burritos, tacos and so on! 




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Refried beans, a popular Mexican dish that is so easily available in the can. But making the same at home is easy, versatile and definitely so much cheaper! 

With a wide number of uses from burritos and tacos to enchiladas and nachos, these refried beans are great to make ahead for meal prep. 

I generally make a BIG batch and refrigerate some and freeze the rest. They come handy when making SO many dishes. 

Video Recipe



What is Refried Beans?


The name 'refried' in the beans comes from 'refrito' which means to fry well. These beans are not really fried TWICE. 

Creamy mashed beans that are added to so many Mexican recipes, refried beans come handy to many other purposes like thickening soups or adding to rice.


Why use the Instant Pot to make them?


Refried beans are the BEST when they are creamy and full of flavor. I like to use my instant pot to make them as the end result is perfectly cooked beans that mash well. 

Using the Instant Pot gives us the option to use soaked beans or not. The time taken to cook the beans will vary but it can definitely be done. 

My favorite part about making the beans in the instant pot is how it all comes together in one pot. Sauté the spices, add in the beans and broth and cook. That is all it takes to make these super delicious beans! 




What beans are used in this recipe?


Most often pinto beans are used to make the recipe. However, I have used light kidney beans quite often for the recipe.

It works well with navy beans or black beans too. The cooking time is similar for all these beans. 



What you need to make these beans?


This recipe calls for beans, stock, spices, garlic and onion. While most ingredients can be swapped, try using the combination as mentioned for maximum flavor. 

I have used vegetable stock but it can be substituted with water or any other stock flavor too. 

Using Southwestern spices like cumin and cayenne pepper gives the recipe its signature taste and flavor. 

Garlic and onion are addition to the recipe for some crunch. Adding jalapeños is a great idea too. 


How to serve Refried Beans?


This refried bean recipe is a great addition to so many recipes. It can be used for filling quesadillas, in tacos, on tostadas or nachos. 

It is great to serve with some Spanish rice or steamed rice. I sometimes use it to thicken my taco soup too. 



Steps to make Refried Beans

Rinse and soak the beans overnight or for 8-10 hours. Once soaked, drain the soaking water and discard.

Set the instant pot mode to Sauté. Add oil and let it heat. 

Once the instant pot shows Hot, add garlic and onion. 



Mix well and sauté for a minute. 

Next add cumin powder, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper powder. 



Sauté for a few seconds and deglaze with a tablespoon of water/ stock. 

Add the drained beans. 



Add the remaining vegetable stock and mix well. 



Close the lid, press cancel and press pressure cook/manual. Adjust time to 20 minutes, pressure high and let the beans cook. 

Once the beans cook, let the pressure release naturally. 

Open the lid and mash the beans using a potato masher. If you would like the beans smooth, pulse them in a food processor for a minute. 

Transfer to a bowl and serve topped with pink onions, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro and jalapeño.



Ingredients


Garlic 4 cloves
Onion 1/2 diced
Cumin Powder 1/2 tsp
Dried Oregano 1/2 tsp 
Salt 1 tsp
Olive Oil 2 tbsp
Vegetable stock 2 1/2 cups

Method


Rinse and soak the beans overnight or for 8-10 hours. Once soaked, drain the soaking water and discard.


Set the Instant Pot mode to Sauté. Add oil and let it heat. 

Once the Instant Pot shows Hot, add garlic and onion. Mix well and sauté for a minute. 


Sauté for a few seconds and deglaze with a tablespoon of water/ stock


Close the lid, press cancel and press pressure cook/manual. Adjust time to 20 minutes, pressure high and let the beans cook. 

Once the beans cook, let the pressure release naturally. 

Open the lid and mash the beans using a potato masher. If you would like the beans smooth, pulse them in a food processor for a minute. 

Transfer to a bowl and serve topped with pink onions, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro and jalapeño.

The beans can be frozen without the topping for up to three month. 





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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lemongrass Ginger Cooler

One of the BEST drinks for Summer, this Lemongrass and Ginger Cooler is refreshing, easy to make and always delicious! 



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Summer calls for cooling drinks and lemongrass is one of the BEST ingredients to add to drinks. It is refreshing and delicious. 

For the longest time I have had a lemongrass plant in my back yard. A large chunk of the produce goes into making Chai but I use it in many other recipes too. 

Asian broths, drinks, some curries and desserts. This cooler is made mainly from lemongrass and ginger with some saffron for flavor and color! 

What is Lemongrass?


A tropical grass popular in many parts of Asia, lemongrass finds application in essential oils, cooking, baking and medicines. The grass has a fragrance similar to lemons (hence the name)! 

Known to boost immunity (read more here) this grass has two parts; the thicker base and thin leaves. 

In India we generally use the leaves as an addition to Chai. The thicker stem has a LOT of flavor and is used in soups, curries and desserts. 

What all goes into this cooler?


This recipe uses lemongrass and ginger as the main ingredients. However, neither of these have any color and the drink tends to look quite boring.

To impart a natural flavor and color to the drink, I added some saffron. The signature yellow tinge from the saffron is amazing and it also adds a hint of flavor. 

Sugar is used as a sweetener here, but honey or jagger can be used too. 

I topped the syrup with water. Using carbonated water would work well too. 



How to use saffron in the recipe?


As mentioned, saffron is used to get some color to the drink. So you would want to extract maximum color from the strands. 

For a very long time I used to steep them in hot water or milk to get the color. Only recently did I learn that ice extracts the color really well compared to hot liquids. 

So to do so, crush the saffron strands in a mortar and add some ice cubes. Leave it to melt and the resulting water will have LOTS of flavor and color. I use this method in all my saffron based recipes now.


How to serve the drink?


The main ingredients here are lemongrass and ginger, and the BEST way to enjoy it is using a lemongrass stalk itself. 

The stalk will be hollow from the inside and by pulling out a couple of leaves from the inside will give it enough diameter to use as a straw! 

I generally serve my drink with a sprig of mint or basil. 

Steps to make Lemongrass Ginger Cooler


In a pan add chopped lemongrass, grated ginger and sugar. 

Add 1 cup water and boil till you see bubbles in the water. Turn down flame and let it cool to room temperature. 


In a mortar pestle add a few saffron strands and crush them with a pestle. Add 2 cubes of ice and let them stand for a while. 

As they melt, they will extract the color and flavor from the saffron. 


Transfer the golden saffron infused water to a jar.

Once the lemongrass mixture is cool, strain it into the jar with saffron and mix. This syrup can be refrigerated for a week. 


In two glass add ice cubes. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the prepared syrup in each glass and top with water. Serve with a sprig of mint and a stalk of lemongrass. 


Ingredients

Sugar 1/4 cup
Saffron a few strands
Ice and water as required


Method


Add 1 cup water and boil till you see bubbles in the water. Turn down flame and let it cool to room temperature. 

In a mortar add a few saffron strands and crush them with a pestle. Add 2 cubes of ice and let them stand for a while. 

As they melt, they will extract the color and flavor from the saffron. 

Transfer the golden saffron infused water to a jar.

Once the lemongrass mixture is cool, strain it into the jar with saffron and mix. This syrup can be refrigerated for a week. 

In two glasses add ice cubes. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the prepared syrup in each glass and top with water. Serve with a sprig of mint and a stalk of lemongrass. 



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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Instant Pot Stuffed Shells

Classic stuffed shells get and easy makeover. No more pre cooking the shells in this dump and go version!  


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Pasta is one of our favorite meals.Whether it is stovetop, baked or instant pot; we love it all.

Lately, I have switched over to making a LOT of pasta dishes using the Instant Pot. Not only is it easy and quick, it is uses just one pot meaning lesser clean up.

Large shell pasta is definitely one of our favorites. Super versatile in a way that they can be filled with various fillings, topped with different sauces and make perfect sharing and freezing recipe.


Why use the Instant Pot to make this recipe?


The traditional method to make them is to boil the pasta, stuff them and bake them in sauce and cheese. 

This recipe eliminates the boiling part and the shells can be filled uncooked. They are then cooked in the Instant Pot with the sauce. 

This way the recipe can be made using just two pots; one for the filling and one is the Instant Pot

I have used a simple filling made from corn, spinach and cheese. This can be swapped by SO many combinations. 

Have you tried the Mealthy Multipot? Read my review for that here. Buy your own Multipot here. Remember you can get $10 off on any product from Mealthy (above $59.95) using the code HERBIVORECUCINA. Or get yours from Amazon.



Why use mushrooms in the recipe?


This is a vegetarian version of stuffed shells. It uses mushrooms for two reasons. 

First, the meaty texture of sautéed mushroom replicates meat in most dishes. 

Plus, a layer of mushrooms creates a gap between the base of the pot and the shells. This way the shells will not stick to the base.

Not a fan of mushrooms? Swap it with onions and pepper slices like fajita. They will be great in the recipe and help create the gap we desire. 


Why is this recipe so good?


This is by far the easiest way to make stuffed shells. An elegant dinner recipe that is great for parties, weeknight dinner or family brunch; this recipe is super versatile.

Believe in meal prep? Make the filling before hand and use it to make the recipe in a jiffy on busy weeknights. 

A semi-homemade recipe, this can be converted to a completely homemade recipe by making the marinara sauce from scratch. 

The cooked shells can be refrigerated for 1-2 days and frozen in batches for much longer. These can then be heated in the microwave and served. 



Variations


As I mentioned above, this recipe can be made without mushrooms too. Swap it for fajita to get the same results. 

I used large shells but the same can be done using Manicotti or other large fillable pasta shapes too. 

The marinara sauce in the recipe can be swapped for pesto, butternut squash sauce or even Alfredo sauce. They will all work really well in the recipe. 

The filling uses spinach, corn and cheese. Add in ricotta cheese if you like or even eliminate the cheese completely for a Vegan version.

Swap the filling with vegetables of your choice. Adding paneer, tofu or black beans is a great way to make the dish differently.


Love pasta? Try one of these then:



Step by step recipe


In a pan melt 1 tbsp unsalted butter. 

Once it starts to melt, add garlic. Mix and let the raw flavor vanish.


Add in chopped spinach, oregano, chili flakes, salt and pepper.Mix well.

Cook it down till the spinach wilts and almost dries up. Turn down the flame and let it cool. 


Once cool, add the shredded cheese and corn. Mix well. 



Using a spoon or piping bag fill the uncooked shells with the spinach corn mixture. 



Set the Instant Pot mode to Sauté. Add the remaining butter and let it heat up. Add the mushroom slices and sauté till they release all the moisture.

Press cancel and add 1 cup water (for 3 quart instant pot) or 2 cups water (for 6 or 8 quart instant pot) and deglaze.



Arrange the stuffed shells on the mushroom layer such that they remain upright. If they need to be stacked, carefully place them on top of the bottom layer. 

Add the marinara sauce and top with Italian Seasoning and shredded cheese. Do NOT stir.


Close the lid of the Instant Pot and set the mode to pressure cook on high pressure. Adjust time to 6 minutes and close the vent. 

Once the cooking is done, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and release the remaining pressure manually.

Carefully open the instant pot and remove the shells. Serve them topped with the sauce and mushrooms. 


Ingredients


Jumbo Shell Pasta 8 oz, uncooked

Spinach 4 cups, packed
Corn Kernels 1/2 cup
Mushrooms 8-10 pieces, sliced
Garlic 2-3 fat cloves, grated
Mozzarella Cheese 1/2 cup, shredded
Sharp Cheddar Cheese 1/2 cup, shredded
Salt 3/4 tsp



Method


In a pan melt 1 tbsp unsalted butter. 


Once it starts to melt, add garlic. Mix and let the raw flavor vanish.



Add in chopped spinach, oregano, chili flakes, salt and pepper.Mix well.


Cook it down till the spinach wilts and almost dries up. Turn down the flame and let it cool. 

Once cool, add the shredded cheese and corn. Mix well. 

Using a spoon or piping bag fill the uncooked shells with the spinach corn mixture. 

Set the Instant Pot mode to Sauté. Add the remaining butter and let it heat up. Add the mushroom slices and sauté till they release all the moisture.

Press cancel and add 1 cup water (for 3 quart instant pot) or 2 cups water (for 6 or 8 quart instant pot) and deglaze.

Arrange the stuffed shells on the mushroom layer such that they remain upright. If they need to be stacked, carefully place them on top of the bottom layer. 

Add the marinara sauce and top with Italian Seasoning and shredded cheese. Do NOT stir.

Close the lid of the Instant Pot and set the mode to pressure cook on high pressure. Adjust time to 6 minutes and close the vent. 

Once the cooking is done, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and release the remaining pressure manually.

Carefully open the instant pot and remove the shells. Serve them topped with the sauce and mushrooms. I like mine with some garlic bread.



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