Khajoor ki Kheer (Dates Pudding)

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Khajoor ki Kheer or Dates Pudding

Recently, I hosted my grandmother-in-law along with my uncle-in-law and aunt-in-law for dinner. Like most elders in Indian families, they are all highly inspiring in the way they lead their lives. But it’s their discipline that i am most awed about.

While I have been truly blessed to have parents-in-law with a very modern outlook, it’s the grandma-in-law that’s the coolest with a mix of deep-rooted traditions and an open mind. She has been so generous in sharing her food wisdom when I was a novice! Grandma’s warm, inviting kitchen is the place where love and health are guaranteed.

Today’s recipe is not only dedicated to the grandma-in-law but also to the young-at-heart couple that accompanied her to my place for dinner. They have been married for close to three decades. After almost two decades of being a teacher at a school, the aunt suddenly decided to quit and study psychology. She went on to complete her doctorate in psychotherapy and is now a fairly successful hypnotherapist and psychotherapist. If this isn’t the epitome of companionship, I don’t know what is.

So, when they were at my place for dinner, I wanted to make something special yet healthy as all three of them are diabetics. My pantry is always stocked up with the highly nutritious khajoor (dates) so I came up with this quick and easy, diabetic-friendly khajoor kheer or dates pudding. I have not added sugar to this pudding as the natural sweetness of the dates suffices.

Khajoor ki Kheer (Dates Pudding)

Ingredients:

15 Dates, de-seeded
1 litre Milk
A handful of Tapioca pearls or sago pearls (optional), soaked for 4 hours in water and drained
Dried fruits like almonds, walnuts, raisins, cashew and pista for garnish
2 tbsp ghee

Method:

In a bowl, soak the dates in half a cup of warm milk and leave it aside for 15 minutes while you fry the dry fruits. In a pan, heat ghee and fry the sago pearls. Remove and fry the dry fruits. If you are using raisins, fry them in a separate batch as they tend to turn brown soon. In a blender, make a paste of the milk and dates mixture.  Boil the remaining milk and add the dates paste. Stir, mix and let it boil till it forms a thick, pudding like consistency.

Serve in pudding bowls and garnish with the dried fruits. You can serve it hot, cold or chilled.

 

Khajoor Milkshake

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Khajoor (dates) are one of the most nutritious fruits that can be eaten during fasts

It’s that time of the year in this part of the country, where many give up eating non-vegetarian food for a month. Shravan is the holiest month in a traditional Hindu calendar, when most abstain from eating non-vegetarian food as well as some vegetarian food items. Some fast for the entire month, consuming just fruits and fruit juices, while others observe one-meal-a-day fasts. Some observe partial fasts, where they eat normal vegetarian food in one meal and consume faraal food (food that is allowed during fasting) at other times.

I observed my first Shravan month fast last year and I felt really proud of myself, managing with just one meal in a day. The Shravan month began in Gujarat on August 3rd this year and I was so thrilled about fasting that I started it two days in advance 😀

Here is one of my recipes for a healthy breakfast/dinner during Shravan. The easiest milkshake!

Khajoor (dates) Milkshake IMG_9301

Ingredients for 1 cup milkshake:

Dates, chopped: 3 or 4 pieces
Milk: 3/4th cup
Chopped dry fruits like walnut, pista, almond, cashew (optional)
A pinch of cardamom powder (optional and only if you like it. I avoid it)

Method:

In a blender, mix the two ingredients till milk turns frothy. Garnish with chopped dry fruits and cardamom powder. You can add ice if you like it chilled. Enjoy it cold/chilled.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Image-1Who eats ice cream during cold, rainy days? Well, someone who has just baked a fresh batch of gooey, hot chocolate fudge brownies!

Usually when it pours, I crave for deep-fried, spicy and crunchy food. But this time while it poured, I was looking at celebrating one of the biggest achievements of my life! And the fact that this news has renewed my bond with all of my loved ones, long lost friends and people who mean a lot to me!

Rain or shine, I love fudge brownies with ice cream. Most recipes I know call for a lot of separate mixing of ingredients but since it was raining and I had to eat almost immediately, I decided to mix all the ingredients in one large bowl.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
3/4th cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp refined vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Processed with MOLDIV
Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°. Grease a 9″ × 13″ baking tray.

Mix together all the ingredients in the order that they are written in. Beat them till they are no lumps. Spoon in the mixture in the baking tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check if they are done by inserting a fork or toothpick in the brownies. If it comes out clean, the brownies are done.

Let them cool completely before cutting them into squares. Enjoy the moist, sticky fudge and ditch the ice cream, if you please!

Until next year, sweetness!

The summer’s about to end in this part of India and many are trying to make the most of mangoes before the rains take away their favourite fruit.

I see neighbours hurriedly peeling raw mangoes to pickle them, colleagues rushing to the nearby cafe to taste mango cheesecakes and mango shakes and kids being coaxed (and sometimes playfully threatened) to finish their plate of mangoes before it rains on the lovely mango trees, thus rendering the mangoes tasteless. Sometimes I feel that mangoes are like a one-time leading actress in a Hindi movie who makes a “comeback”, rather keeps making comebacks after few intervals. I know people who rigidly refuse to touch a mango after it rains. Celebrated when at the peak and sidelined at the slightest hint of pour,  I wonder what poor little mangoes have to say about this.

There were some showers in my city last Sunday. And since then, the “mango talk” has come down drastically in my circle.  But all of a sudden, two days ago, a colleague mentioned that she had a tall glass of mango milkshake for breakfast and reminded me of how delicious a mango milkshake tastes! My way of giving a decent farewell to this delicious, golden fruit until next year!

Here is my super simple recipe of a Mango Milkshake! Enjoy!

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Mango Milkshake

Ingredients:
Two mangoes, peeled, cubed and frozen for 20 mins
Milk: 1 cup if you want a thick shake and 1.5 cups if thin
Sugar: 2 teaspoons
Ice (optional)

Blend all the ingredients. Serve in a tall glass. Enjoy whatever is left of the summers! 🙂

 

Celebrating love

February 14, 2016. Valentine’s Day.jam

Sure it was Valentine’s Day. But for me, it was a day to celebrate more than one occasion. It was a day that brought great news and I couldn’t feel more happy that it came on one of my favourite days of the year.

jamTo celebrate this Valentine’s and to express my love for food, I decided to make strawberry jam with a fresh batch of organic strawberries. The idea of the jam was totally inspired by Monica Gellar (needs no introduction), who is just as lovable as she is neurotic 😀 I was recently watching that episode where Monica breaks up with the droolworthy Richard and makes a ‘jam plan’. But it was when I was watching the jam-eating Joey (needs no introduction, again) that I began craving for jam.

And what better day than Valentine’s to make jam! The lovely red strawberries matched well with the beautiful red roses I got in the morning and the overall festive mood. strawberry

It’s a super quick recipe with just three ingredients—ripe strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. The night before you decide to make jam, just pour sugar over strawberries and leave them out of the fridge overnight. This helps the sugar dissolve better and also retain the bright red colour of the berries. I used brown sugar. The next morning, all I did was add a very small teaspoon of lemon juice, mash the berries a little and put it on stove to reduce. Stirred occasionally for 10 minutes and once the berries and sugar had dissolved and I saw a thick consistency, I took it off heat, let it cool and filled it up in a little bottle.

 

World’s largest potluck party!

Foodaholics In Ahmedabad is attempting to break the Guinness World Records for the Largest Potluck Party on Sunday, December 20, 2015.

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So, if you are in Ahmedabad and are a foodie, you just cannot miss this awesome event.

‘Foodaholics in Ahmedabad’ (FiA) is a Facebook community, founded by Rohan bhatt & Esha Shah. The group hosts 33,000 active members who indulge in discussions, suggestions, exhibitions and debates pertaining to food both, virtually and during various food events conducted by the group. The group helps glorify food as a culture, recipe and knowledge amidst like-minded people. Lot of the members recommend and refer numerous food joints as well as share experiences.

Registration for the event is really simple and can be found on the FiA page on Facebook. The best part about this ‘participant-only’ event is that each registered participant has to take six portions only, of food which is made or store-bought. The food can be anything—from dry snacks to mocktails and from chai-tea to complicated dishes—all your choice!

I will be making these coconut laddoos! YLHF3889

Hope to see you at this record-breaking event this Sunday morning 🙂

 

 

Chocolate Walnut Fudge Brownies

I have been invited for a slumber party tonight by my best friend Kavitha Nair, who I have known from my kindergarten days. It feels like I am back to my growing up years when there would be these unplanned ‘pyjama’ parties, an entire night of snacking, sharing secrets and talking about the latest crush. So, after many years when my bestie decided to invite me over, I thought, ‘how can food be left out of a slumber party’?

A fudge-y, chocolate-y delight!
A fudge-y, chocolate-y delight! These brownies combine the best of both worlds–the moist texture of a fudge and the rise of a cake

So I decided to bake some chock-walnut fudge brownies that we can eat all night over gossip, after a quick dinner. Right from our first day at kindergarten till when we were in high school, Kavitha and I would always sit next to each other in class. Like most kids, we have been pulled up by teachers for excessive talking during class 😛  The canteen culture had just begun back then and it was considered uncool to bring lunch boxes from home. Most kids would wait for the recess bell to ring to hang out by the canteen while Kavitha and I used to sit back in class and share our lunch from, where else, our tiffin boxes. Once in a while, we used to buy some chocolates from the roadside stall just out side our school’s entrance. She is somebody who would let me have her piece of chocolate as soon as I finished mine, something even my younger brother never did 😀

Once, we decided to “run away” from school because we both felt that there was too much pressure on us to study. I told her to pack some snacks and nail paint, which we would use to pass our time while we hid from school authorities and till our parents “rescued us” 😉 God, we were so stupid! However, she developed a cold feet at the last minute and told me it would be wrong for us to do that. Thank God, at least one of us was mature!

She moved to a different school after class X and then we both chose different streams to pursue higher studies. Today, we may not talk on a daily basis and hardly meet each other for months in spite of living in the same city. But, our beautiful friendship has grown stronger with each passing year!

Chocolate Walnut Fudge Brownie

Ingredients

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate – 2 bars of 200 gms

Cocoa powder- 2 tbs

Castor sugar or powdered brown sugar -1 cup

Eggs, room temperature- 2 nos

Butter, room temperature -1/2 cup

Flour-3/4 cup

Walnuts- 1/2 cup

Vanilla essence-1 tsp

Baking powder-1 tsp

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a square or rectangle shaped baking tray with butter.

Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl in microwave for 20-30 seconds or use a double boiler method, if you are comfortable with that. In another bowl, whisk eggs and keep aside. Mix together the dry ingredients, nuts and add vanilla essence. Once the chocolate-butter mixture has cooled, add the whisked eggs and fold in the dry ingredients. Make sure the chocolate mixture has cooled or the eggs will start cooking, ruining the texture of your brownie.

Pour this mixture into the baking tray and bake for 35-40 minutes or till a fork or toothpick comes out clean. Leave it on a rack to cool and then cut into squares or triangles.

Gulab Jamun

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Veera. I just love the sound of this name. It means brave. And I share a beautiful friendship with a brave girl by that name 🙂 Veera and my friendship goes back to high school. Being in the same school and going to the same tuition classes gave us a lot of time to chat about our dreams, aspirations and obviously, secret crushes 😉

Veera is passionate about whatever she does. She loves cooking and I have seen her cook Gujarati dishes with such sincerity since the age of 15, when I hardly ever entered the kitchen. When my mom wouldn’t be home, Veera used to take over the kitchen and cook for my brother and me. Sweet! I still mess up a roti but she has been making little, soft, round rotis as a teenager. Every day after our morning tuition class, I would stand next to Veera in her kitchen trying to learn the art of making rotis her way. She would begin with making the perfect, non-sticky, soft dough using her hands and I was surprised by the ease with which she did it. And there would be a mound of same-sized rotis in a casserole in no time.

But this recipe isn’t about rotis. It is about something that is as sweet, comforting and lazy yet creative as Veera herself. Lazy because it is made out of an instant mix using some creativity 😉 Although very brave about her own issues, she would break into tears if she ever saw any of her friend in trouble. Isn’t that sweet? Veera moved to the US five years ago and got married to a wonderful guy about a year ago but we have kept in touch like best buddies. She is just a call, sms, chat, FB post or email away and I know I can call her if ever am feeling low. Isn’t that comforting? There are so many other qualities and beautiful memories associated with this friendship. As I can’t put them all here, I shall proceed with the recipe. I happened to see pictures of Gulab Jamun, an Indian dessert, posted on her Facebook account two days ago and requested for the recipe, which she readily emailed. Here goes my gift to my amazing friend, Veera on Friendship Day!

Gulab Jamun

Soft and fluffy khoya based dumplings in sugar syrup

Ingredients:

100 gms Gits Gulab Jamun mix packet (you can use any other brand)
Few stands of Saffron
Cardamon
Ghee
Water

Method:

For Syrup:

Take sugar and water in equal proportions. I take 400 gms of sugar with 400 ml of water mix them and simmer (high flames will destroy the sugar and will end up giving burnt sugar taste) for about 10-15 minutes. This will thicken and reduce the syrup to 340-350 ml which would be perfect to soak all of jamuns. Add saffron and cardamon in the syrup while it simmers to give a light flavor to the jamuns.
Keep it aside.

For Jamuns:

Take the mix in the bowl and add milk (approx.50-60 ml). Make a smooth dough, break all the lumps while kneading. Keep the dough aside for 10 minutes to let it absorb the milk so that you get fluffy jamuns.

Divide dough in to 20-25 equal parts, roll in to small balls of size little bit bigger than pebbles as it will grow in size during frying and in the syrup. Use some ghee on your palms and make smooth balls out of the dough. Cover with a thin cloth or paper towel to provide moisture to jamuns.

Deep Frying:

Heat the ghee on a medium flame. Do not put the gas on a high flame or the jamuns will remain uncooked from the middle. Test the heat of the ghee by pouring a little dough/batter into it.

Now deep fry the jamuns in the same flame. Once the jamuns turn golden brown in colour, take them out and drain excess ghee on paper for just 10-15 seconds. Put them in the sugar syrup when they are hot as hot jamuns will absorb the syrup perfectly and will taste really sweet.
Enjoy this dessert while it is hot.