Monday, 23 October 2017

720. Paneer Kundan Kaliya

Exotic Name, Exotic Dish

   Diwali week is ever so busy in general, but more so for me this year as my maid decided not to come to work and to top it up came down with a bad flu and fever. So I nearly sat out this theme. What am I talking about? Its the FoodieMonday/Bloghop day. The #115th theme - Awadhi Cuisine was decided by Kriti who blogs at Krispy Kadhai. 

   I was really in no mood or didn't have the energy to really do any research on that cuisine. However, eat we all must whether sick or not and I had a huge slab of paneer staring at me whenever I opened the fridge. So, do you get those days when with much vigor and power you want to tackle all the jobs from top to bottom and from side to side? Well, I had one of those days...with a runny nose and a heavy head, tackled the house work, cooked lunch and baked a batch of cookies to give away as presents. I finally managed to turn the slab of paneer into an exotic sabji. Paneer Kundan Kaliya...just the name had me saying wah wah wah! However take it from me, its one of the easiest to prepare. 

   Just the name Awadhi and I think of long cooking procedures (dum) and a mile long list of ingredients. Then add the dos and don'ts and Awadhi cuisine sounds like a humungous task. I'm really not going to go into details about this cuisine as one can easily google it. All I read was that certain strong spices were never never mixed with subtle fragrant spices...like say rose is not mixed with garlic. 

   Just briefly, Awadh is an area representing Lucknow and near by places. Awadh has been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques. The bawarchis of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking. Awadh cuisine is all about using the best quality ingredients, a variety of spices and and a balance of  taste. Awadhi spread includes kebabs, kormas, biryanis, kaliyas, zardas, kulchas, sheermal, roomali rotis, halwas to name a few. 

   The original kundan kaliya is mutton prepared in a gravy which must have turmeric or saffron and the mutton pieces were wrapped in gold leaf and served to the Nawabs. Being a vegetarian I decided to replace the mutton with paneer and I don't use silver or gold leaves or foils  for cooking. I hope you enjoy my version of kundan kaliya.





PANEER KUNDAN KALIYA
Serves 4
Recipe idea: Food NDTV

400g paneer
1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander seeds
4-5 green cardamoms (whole)
1 Bay leaf
6 cloves
1" cinnamon stick
¾ -1 tsp salt
2 large or 4 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tomato finely chopped
1 cup thick yogurt
2 tbsp dried rose petals
1 tsp ginger paste
¼ cup fresh cream
4 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp rose water
a few strands of saffron
1 tbsp hot milk

  1. Soak the saffron in hot milk for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Mix Kashmiri red chili powder and turmeric powder in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Slice the paneer into cubes or long slices, whichever you prefer.
  4. Add the paneer to the Kashmiri chili and turmeric powder mixture and coat each paneer piece well with it.
  5. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Heat ghee in a wide frying pan over medium heat.
  7. Shallow fry the paneer pieces in the ghee. Don't let the paneer become too brown. It should be a light golden brown in colour.
  8. Keep the paneer on the side till required. 
  9. Heat the remaining ghee in the same pan.
  10. Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and coriander seeds. Let the spices sizzle in the ghee for a few seconds.
  11. Add the finely chopped onions. Stir fry them till they become soft and become very light brown in colour.
  12. Add chopped tomato. Cook till it becomes soft.
  13. Add ginger paste, garam masala, red chili powder and saffron milk. Let the gravy cook till it becomes thick.
  14. Mix salt with yogurt. 
  15. Add the yogurt and keep on stirring for a minute or 2 two over low heat so that the yogurt does not curdle. 
  16. Add rose water, rose petals and fresh cream. Mix the gravy well.
  17. Add paneer pieces and let the gravy simmer for 3-4 minutes on low heat.
  18. Serve paneer kundan kaliya with pulao, biryani or roti.
Tips:
  • Add gold leaf on top of the gravy before serving if you like.
  • Make sure paneer is soft and not hard.
  • This gravy does not have too many tomatoes.
You may want to check out other awadhi recipes:
Sheer Khurma
laknavi kofta curry

Sending this recipe to the following event:


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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

719.Masala Farsi Puri

Happy Diwali

   For most Gujaratis the Diwali celebrations began from yesterday with  Rama Ekadashi, whereby if you fast on this day, all your sins are forgiven and you attain salvation. However, in typical Gujarati style, fasting food or agyaras food is prepared. No grains or beans, onion, garlic, many vegetables are not allowed. However sabudana khichdi, moriyo, potatoes, etc are prepared. 

    Today is Vagh Baras or Vase Baras. On this day the cow and calf are worshipped. Vagh means debt and today all debts are cleared and new transactions are done in new ledger books after Labh Pancham. The word Vaak Baras is mispronounced as Vagh Baras. Vaak or Vani means  Goddess Saraswati, the one who blesses us with language and knowledge. On this day Goddess Saraswati is worshipped. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi only comes to bless our homes if before we worship her, we worship Goddess Saraswati. One must worship Goddess Saraswati on this 12th dark day of Aso and ask that we that before the Goddess comes as Lakshmi to our homes she comes first comes as the Saraswati Ma to bless us with good deeds, good words and to help us control our tongues against any evil or hurtful words that we may utter. 

   Tomorrow is Dhanteras. On this day Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped but before that, rangolis are prepared, homes are decorated and also torans (decorated door hangings) are put on the entrance. A torn made using mango leaves or ashopalav leaves is most auspicious. On this day something of gold, silver or a kitchen utensil is bought and Gujaratis believe that money spent on this day brings prosperity to their families and homes. During the Pooja, old coins, gold ornaments etc are also offered to Lakshmi. Most Gujarati homes will either prepare lapsi or kaunsar, tomorrow along with tuvar dal, rice, rotis, sabjis and savory dishes.

   Then comes Kali Chaudas. Kali means dark and chaudas is 14th. This day is devoted to Kali Ma or Shakti. It is believed that Kali Ma killed the wicked Raktavija on this day. It is also the day it is believed that Lord Hanuman put the whole sun in his mouth thus causing darkness. When he was a baby he was feeling hungry. Thinking that the sun is a fruit he flew up to the sky and put the sun in his mouth. Lord Indra had to hit him with his vajra so that the sun could be released from Hanuman's mouth. Its on this when we make doodh pak, puri, kadhi, bhajias etc. On this day a bit of the food is put on the roof tops of the homes so that the forefathers can have a feast. 

   Next is Diwali Day. On this day usually invite family and friends home. On this day huge feasts are prepared for all to enjoy. Usually gur na ladwa, alone with tuvar dal, rotis, sabjis, chana nu shaak, rice, savories etc are prepared and enjoyed by all. Its a day presents are exchanged, new clothes are bought.

   Gujaratis celebrate their New Year or Bestu Varsh immediately are Diwali. I remember years back we had to get up really early in the morning, get ready in our new clothes and new jewelry and go to the temple. It was like temple hopping. Its that one day in the year when we would go to all the temples. By the time all the temple visits are over, its lunch time. Then its time to visit all relatives who are older to us to get their blessings. Nowadays hubby and I don't really get up that early. Temple hopping has become difficult because of all the traffic and not many relatives are left in Mombasa. However, I try and visit as many as I can. Its also Govardhan Puja, so I prepare something to offer as Annakoot. Annakoot is mountain. A 'mountain' of food is offered on this day. Its a special day as its on this day that Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger to protect the people of Vrindavan from the torrential rains. Its also the day when all varieties of vegetarian food is offered to the deities. In the evening, we put our best clothes and go to the local community or samaj to meet and greet our community people and enjoy a feast with them.

   Next day is Bhai Beej, a day when sisters invite their brothers to their homes for a lavish meal. In return the brothers shower the sisters with gifts and love.

   On kartak sud pancham is Labh Pancham. On this day shopkeepers and businessmen start their business for the year. New ledgers are opened by writing Shubh(auspicious) on the left, Labh (profit) on the right and sathiya in the middle of the first page.

   On Kartak Poornima (full moon) or 15th day, is Dev Diwali, the Diwali for Devtas or Gods. Its believed that its on this day that Lord Vishnu returns after completing his stay in Bali. Its also the day Lord Vishnu takes on the form of the fish  Matsya to rescue the first man Manu. Its believed that its on this day that Lord Krishna worshipped Radha.  

    The #114th theme for the FoodieMonday/Bloghop group we decided as Diwali. To prepare any Diwali food. I decided to go the savory path by making these delicious masala farsi puri. Its my favorite and no Diwali is complete in our home without farsi puri. Usually its made using plain flour but this Diwali I tried out a mixture of wheat and plain flour. The result was a delicious snack and hubby couldn't tell the difference. 







Happy Diwali to you all. May the coming year bring good health, peace and happiness to you and your family.

MASALA FARSI PURI
Makes approx 40

1½ cups wheat flour (atta)
 ½ cup plain flour
1 -1¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
¼ tsp carom seeds (ajmo)
4 tbsp cold butter
2 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek (methi)
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ginger paste
1-2 tsp green chili paste
¼ tsp hing (asafetida)
1 tbsp kasuri methi
approx ⅓ - ½ cup water

Oil for deep frying



  1. Mix the flours, salt, cumin, carom and sesame seeds, turmeric powder and asafetida.
  2. Chop the butter into small pieces and add it to the flour mixture.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips till you get a breadcrumb consistency.
  4. Add the ginger and chilli paste and mix into the flour.
  5. Add kasuri and fresh methi and mix.
  6. Add the water little at a time and make a dough that is not too soft or too hard. It should not be sticky.
  7. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough into nearly 40 small balls, the size of a nutmeg.
  9. Roll each ball into a circle of about 3-3½" diameter with a rolling pin.
  10. Using a knife make small cuts all over the puri.
  11. Keep it on a plate or tray and cover it with a cloth so that the puri does not dry up.
  12. Repeat steps 9-11 with the remaining dough. Make sure the puris are thin.
  13. Heat oil in a wok or karai over medium heat.
  14. Drop a tiny piece of the dough into the oil. If it comes up to the top immediately then the oil is ready.
  15. Depending on the size of the wok or karai gently drop in 6-8 puris.
  16. Lower the heat. 
  17. Flip the puris over several times. Fry till they are crispy and light golden in colour.
  18. Remove the puris from the oil and keep it in a colander.
  19. Repeat steps 15-18 till all the puris are fried.
  20. Let them cool down a bit before storing in a jar or airtight tin.
  21. Serve masala farsi puri with tea or coffee.
Tips:
  • Adjust spices according to your taste.
  • Don't need to add kasuri methi if you don't have any.
  • Make sure you roll them thin otherwise they will not turn out crispy.
You may want to check out my other Diwali treats:
santra basundi
chakri


Sending this recipe to the following event:

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

718. Pearl Millet and Almond Cookies (Bajra Cookies)

Include Millet In Your Diet

Theme: Cookies For Your Sweet Tooth

BM#81 Week 2 Day 3

   Today has been such a horrible day for me. I wait till 9a.m. for the maid to turn up. I had planned so many Diwali cooking and baking items but didn't get even one done. She turns up after 9 and goes and sits down. I was a bit annoyed so didn't say anything. After a few minutes I hear long sighs... what a brilliant way to attract attention. I go to her and she tells me she is sick. So I tell her to go back home and rest and come back when she is well. She continues to sit there. The softie me asks her if she needs a cup of tea. She says yes. So I make some tea for her. She sips on the tea and then asks for money as she needs to go to the doctor. I really was mood spoilt by now... its not the end of the month and already she owes me quite a bit of money. She leaves. 

   I start tackling the housework. By mid morning I am so annoyed and literally want to curse her! Why? No, I'm not heartless, I know she is sick. What annoyed me is all the dust and cobwebs I find behind the furniture. Constant reminders of cleaning behind the furniture and she kept on telling me its all done and the house is spic and span for Diwali. The silly me doesn't check! So here I'm tackling the whole apartment with a broom, mop, duster, cleaners etc. I fear that if my home is dirty, Goddess Lakshmi may miss my house!  I'm nearly done with the cleaning, and am about to tackle the utensils when I hear a loud thud noise. Look into the dhoti area to find my washing machine on the side! 

   For a few seconds I just look in utter astonishment. Where do I begin to tackle this? Hubby dear had thought that putting the machine (that sometimes wobbles during the spinning cycle) on a wooden stool like contraption is the best idea! I had complained about this several times but it fell on deaf ears. So first had to switch it off. Then I'm alone at home, the water is seeping out and may spoil the electronics. So immediately disconnect the water outlet pipe so the water drains out from the outlet and not the door(mine is a top load).   The whole dhoti is flooded with water. Remove the clothes and then call my neighbor to help me make it stand. The leg of the wooden stool broke and thus the heavy machine toppled!

   By the time I cleaned up the mess, the machine and put the clothes back to wash, I was in tears! Still the utensils are waiting and I haven't made lunch! I was annoyed with hubby for raising the machine on that stupid stool. Full of pride I refused to call him to get some take away. Instead, in my anger prepared some mixed vegetable khichdi in the pressure cooker! 

   What a day! By the time all the work was tackled it was nearly 3p.m. Took a nap and was about to sit to type out today's recipe when the power went off! By now I just couldn't stop uttering nonsense and cursing the power company. Its now 11.30p.m. and am blogging!
Hope tomorrow is a much better day. I now have to cut off some of the Diwali items I was going to prepare... running out of time!

    Even as a kid, I used to love pearl millet flour. Most kids don't like it, but I used to love the bajri na debra, raab, rotla that my mum would make using this healthy or should I say super healthy grain. When I chose the cookies theme for the #81 blogging marathon I had made up my mind to make a healthy alternate to plain flour or wheat flour. Bajri cookies it was. 

   There are so many versions of these cookies but I decided to go for only millet flour and no plain or wheat flour added. Since I'd baked my Jamaican Toto Coconut Bread replacing the brown sugar with jaggery, I'd loved the taste so I did the same here. 

   To balance the earthy taste of the jaggery and millet flour, I added some cranberries for that slight tangy taste. The almond powder or meal is for added health benefits and who doesn't love cookies with nuts in them.

   I did the 'roll the ball method' but next time I'm going to try and make 'the slice the cookie dough method' much like the way we make shortbread type cookies. If they turn out good, look wise I'll share the clicks here. In the meantime enjoy the ones I made for now. Go on try these cookies out. I'm sure you'll not mind adding these cookies to lunch boxes as a sweet treat. I know the butter part is not too healthy but once in a while you have treat yourself.






PEARL MILLET AND ALMOND COOKIES (BAJRA COOKIES)
Makes 20

1½ cup pearl millet flour (bajra flour)
¼ cup almond powder (coarse)
¼ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup jaggery powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit)
100g butter
½ tsp cardamom powder
¼ tsp salt

  1. Sieve flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom powder and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Add cranberries, desiccated coconut and coarse almond powder. Mix well.
  3. Add butter and jaggery powder in another bowl. Mix it till it becomes soft and creamy.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix. The dough will be very soft. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180°C.
  6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or lightly grease it with some butter.
  7. Take about a tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball.
  8. Gently press it between your palms.
  9. Place it on the prepared tray.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining dough.
  11. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes till the edges become light brown.
  12. Remove the tray from the oven.
  13. Remove the cookies from the tray and let them cool on a wire rack.
Tips:
  • You can leave the dough in the fridge for 20-30 minutes and then roll the balls.
  • These cookies can be made using brown sugar.
  • Add dried fruits of your choice.
  • For a vegan option replace the butter with coconut oil or a vegan butter or nut butter.
You may want to check out my other cookie recipes:
Karachi Cookies
Lebkuchen
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Sending this recipe to the following event:


BMLogo
    

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

717. Rose and Cardamom Cookies

Cookie,a must with tea or coffee

Theme: Cookies For Your Sweet Tooth

BM #81 Week 2 Day 2

   Isn't it intriguing that when one has tea or coffee during mid morning or in the afternoon, one feels like having a cookie with it? I do. I usually want to have one small cookie with my afternoon tea. My siblings and I grew up having biscuits as we called them back then with our glass of milk. I enjoy dunking my cookie or biscuit in the tea, milk or coffee. A few places in the world will automatically serve a small cookie along with some coffee. I like that special treat whenever I get it.

   I enjoying baking and cookies was what I learnt how to bake first. Then it was cakes and later on breads.  I love trying out new flavors. Rose and cardamom is one of them. A couple of years back I had gone to the spice souk when I was in Dubai. I picked up some dried tiny pink roses and they smell so heavenly. When I got home, I put them in a ziplock  bag in the fridge. Even today when I use them they still are so aromatic and flavorful. I've used rose and cardamom combination in a baklava bread, used it for some Indian milk based mithai so thought why not for cookies.

   Diwali is just round the corner, so best time to bake these aromatic and flavorful cookies. I must admit I rather make cookies where I can either roll the dough into balls or slice them. I find the rolling and cutting with cookie cutter method a bit tedious. But that doesn't mean I don't make those kind of cookies too. Since the roses are so aromatic I didn't need to add any rose essence or rose water.

   Check out the recipe for these easy to bake cookies and enjoy them with some masala tea or a glass of milk.

Does anyone know how I can make the pistachio or any nut stick to the cookies and not fall off after baking? 





Rose and Cardamom Cookies  
Makes about 15-16

1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp almond powder
2 tbsp fine semolina (sooji, rava)
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
¼ tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp dried rose petals
2 tsp rose water (optional; I didn't need to use)

pistachio slivers for topping

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper or lightly grease with some butter or ghee.
3.  Mix flour, almond powder, semolina, baking soda, cardamom powder, rose petals and salt together.
4.  In another bowl mix sugar and butter  together till it becomes light in colour and creamy.
5.  Add rose water and mix.
6.  Add the flour mixture and form a dough.
7.   Take about a tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball.
8.  Flatten it lightly between your palms.
9.  Place it on the prepared tray.
10. Press a pistachio sliver gently on top of each rolled dough.
11.  Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining dough.
12. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes till the edges begin to brown.
13. Remove the tray from the oven.
14. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes.
15. Remove the cookies from the tray and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
16. Store the cookies in an airtight jar.

Tips:
  •      Cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven but on cooling will become a bit harder.
  •      Add rose essence or rose water. I didn't add any as the rose petals were aromatic.
Check out my other cookie recipes:

Just realized that so many of my old cookie photos need to be updated but sharing them anyway as the recipes are good.
Custard Powder Cookies
double chocolate brownie cookies
khara biscuits
oatmeal coconut cookies
Sending this recipe to the following event:

 BMLogo





Monday, 23 October 2017

720. Paneer Kundan Kaliya

Exotic Name, Exotic Dish

   Diwali week is ever so busy in general, but more so for me this year as my maid decided not to come to work and to top it up came down with a bad flu and fever. So I nearly sat out this theme. What am I talking about? Its the FoodieMonday/Bloghop day. The #115th theme - Awadhi Cuisine was decided by Kriti who blogs at Krispy Kadhai. 

   I was really in no mood or didn't have the energy to really do any research on that cuisine. However, eat we all must whether sick or not and I had a huge slab of paneer staring at me whenever I opened the fridge. So, do you get those days when with much vigor and power you want to tackle all the jobs from top to bottom and from side to side? Well, I had one of those days...with a runny nose and a heavy head, tackled the house work, cooked lunch and baked a batch of cookies to give away as presents. I finally managed to turn the slab of paneer into an exotic sabji. Paneer Kundan Kaliya...just the name had me saying wah wah wah! However take it from me, its one of the easiest to prepare. 

   Just the name Awadhi and I think of long cooking procedures (dum) and a mile long list of ingredients. Then add the dos and don'ts and Awadhi cuisine sounds like a humungous task. I'm really not going to go into details about this cuisine as one can easily google it. All I read was that certain strong spices were never never mixed with subtle fragrant spices...like say rose is not mixed with garlic. 

   Just briefly, Awadh is an area representing Lucknow and near by places. Awadh has been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques. The bawarchis of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking. Awadh cuisine is all about using the best quality ingredients, a variety of spices and and a balance of  taste. Awadhi spread includes kebabs, kormas, biryanis, kaliyas, zardas, kulchas, sheermal, roomali rotis, halwas to name a few. 

   The original kundan kaliya is mutton prepared in a gravy which must have turmeric or saffron and the mutton pieces were wrapped in gold leaf and served to the Nawabs. Being a vegetarian I decided to replace the mutton with paneer and I don't use silver or gold leaves or foils  for cooking. I hope you enjoy my version of kundan kaliya.





PANEER KUNDAN KALIYA
Serves 4
Recipe idea: Food NDTV

400g paneer
1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander seeds
4-5 green cardamoms (whole)
1 Bay leaf
6 cloves
1" cinnamon stick
¾ -1 tsp salt
2 large or 4 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tomato finely chopped
1 cup thick yogurt
2 tbsp dried rose petals
1 tsp ginger paste
¼ cup fresh cream
4 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp rose water
a few strands of saffron
1 tbsp hot milk

  1. Soak the saffron in hot milk for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Mix Kashmiri red chili powder and turmeric powder in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Slice the paneer into cubes or long slices, whichever you prefer.
  4. Add the paneer to the Kashmiri chili and turmeric powder mixture and coat each paneer piece well with it.
  5. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Heat ghee in a wide frying pan over medium heat.
  7. Shallow fry the paneer pieces in the ghee. Don't let the paneer become too brown. It should be a light golden brown in colour.
  8. Keep the paneer on the side till required. 
  9. Heat the remaining ghee in the same pan.
  10. Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and coriander seeds. Let the spices sizzle in the ghee for a few seconds.
  11. Add the finely chopped onions. Stir fry them till they become soft and become very light brown in colour.
  12. Add chopped tomato. Cook till it becomes soft.
  13. Add ginger paste, garam masala, red chili powder and saffron milk. Let the gravy cook till it becomes thick.
  14. Mix salt with yogurt. 
  15. Add the yogurt and keep on stirring for a minute or 2 two over low heat so that the yogurt does not curdle. 
  16. Add rose water, rose petals and fresh cream. Mix the gravy well.
  17. Add paneer pieces and let the gravy simmer for 3-4 minutes on low heat.
  18. Serve paneer kundan kaliya with pulao, biryani or roti.
Tips:
  • Add gold leaf on top of the gravy before serving if you like.
  • Make sure paneer is soft and not hard.
  • This gravy does not have too many tomatoes.
You may want to check out other awadhi recipes:
Sheer Khurma
laknavi kofta curry

Sending this recipe to the following event:


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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

719.Masala Farsi Puri

Happy Diwali

   For most Gujaratis the Diwali celebrations began from yesterday with  Rama Ekadashi, whereby if you fast on this day, all your sins are forgiven and you attain salvation. However, in typical Gujarati style, fasting food or agyaras food is prepared. No grains or beans, onion, garlic, many vegetables are not allowed. However sabudana khichdi, moriyo, potatoes, etc are prepared. 

    Today is Vagh Baras or Vase Baras. On this day the cow and calf are worshipped. Vagh means debt and today all debts are cleared and new transactions are done in new ledger books after Labh Pancham. The word Vaak Baras is mispronounced as Vagh Baras. Vaak or Vani means  Goddess Saraswati, the one who blesses us with language and knowledge. On this day Goddess Saraswati is worshipped. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi only comes to bless our homes if before we worship her, we worship Goddess Saraswati. One must worship Goddess Saraswati on this 12th dark day of Aso and ask that we that before the Goddess comes as Lakshmi to our homes she comes first comes as the Saraswati Ma to bless us with good deeds, good words and to help us control our tongues against any evil or hurtful words that we may utter. 

   Tomorrow is Dhanteras. On this day Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped but before that, rangolis are prepared, homes are decorated and also torans (decorated door hangings) are put on the entrance. A torn made using mango leaves or ashopalav leaves is most auspicious. On this day something of gold, silver or a kitchen utensil is bought and Gujaratis believe that money spent on this day brings prosperity to their families and homes. During the Pooja, old coins, gold ornaments etc are also offered to Lakshmi. Most Gujarati homes will either prepare lapsi or kaunsar, tomorrow along with tuvar dal, rice, rotis, sabjis and savory dishes.

   Then comes Kali Chaudas. Kali means dark and chaudas is 14th. This day is devoted to Kali Ma or Shakti. It is believed that Kali Ma killed the wicked Raktavija on this day. It is also the day it is believed that Lord Hanuman put the whole sun in his mouth thus causing darkness. When he was a baby he was feeling hungry. Thinking that the sun is a fruit he flew up to the sky and put the sun in his mouth. Lord Indra had to hit him with his vajra so that the sun could be released from Hanuman's mouth. Its on this when we make doodh pak, puri, kadhi, bhajias etc. On this day a bit of the food is put on the roof tops of the homes so that the forefathers can have a feast. 

   Next is Diwali Day. On this day usually invite family and friends home. On this day huge feasts are prepared for all to enjoy. Usually gur na ladwa, alone with tuvar dal, rotis, sabjis, chana nu shaak, rice, savories etc are prepared and enjoyed by all. Its a day presents are exchanged, new clothes are bought.

   Gujaratis celebrate their New Year or Bestu Varsh immediately are Diwali. I remember years back we had to get up really early in the morning, get ready in our new clothes and new jewelry and go to the temple. It was like temple hopping. Its that one day in the year when we would go to all the temples. By the time all the temple visits are over, its lunch time. Then its time to visit all relatives who are older to us to get their blessings. Nowadays hubby and I don't really get up that early. Temple hopping has become difficult because of all the traffic and not many relatives are left in Mombasa. However, I try and visit as many as I can. Its also Govardhan Puja, so I prepare something to offer as Annakoot. Annakoot is mountain. A 'mountain' of food is offered on this day. Its a special day as its on this day that Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger to protect the people of Vrindavan from the torrential rains. Its also the day when all varieties of vegetarian food is offered to the deities. In the evening, we put our best clothes and go to the local community or samaj to meet and greet our community people and enjoy a feast with them.

   Next day is Bhai Beej, a day when sisters invite their brothers to their homes for a lavish meal. In return the brothers shower the sisters with gifts and love.

   On kartak sud pancham is Labh Pancham. On this day shopkeepers and businessmen start their business for the year. New ledgers are opened by writing Shubh(auspicious) on the left, Labh (profit) on the right and sathiya in the middle of the first page.

   On Kartak Poornima (full moon) or 15th day, is Dev Diwali, the Diwali for Devtas or Gods. Its believed that its on this day that Lord Vishnu returns after completing his stay in Bali. Its also the day Lord Vishnu takes on the form of the fish  Matsya to rescue the first man Manu. Its believed that its on this day that Lord Krishna worshipped Radha.  

    The #114th theme for the FoodieMonday/Bloghop group we decided as Diwali. To prepare any Diwali food. I decided to go the savory path by making these delicious masala farsi puri. Its my favorite and no Diwali is complete in our home without farsi puri. Usually its made using plain flour but this Diwali I tried out a mixture of wheat and plain flour. The result was a delicious snack and hubby couldn't tell the difference. 







Happy Diwali to you all. May the coming year bring good health, peace and happiness to you and your family.

MASALA FARSI PURI
Makes approx 40

1½ cups wheat flour (atta)
 ½ cup plain flour
1 -1¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
¼ tsp carom seeds (ajmo)
4 tbsp cold butter
2 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek (methi)
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ginger paste
1-2 tsp green chili paste
¼ tsp hing (asafetida)
1 tbsp kasuri methi
approx ⅓ - ½ cup water

Oil for deep frying



  1. Mix the flours, salt, cumin, carom and sesame seeds, turmeric powder and asafetida.
  2. Chop the butter into small pieces and add it to the flour mixture.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips till you get a breadcrumb consistency.
  4. Add the ginger and chilli paste and mix into the flour.
  5. Add kasuri and fresh methi and mix.
  6. Add the water little at a time and make a dough that is not too soft or too hard. It should not be sticky.
  7. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough into nearly 40 small balls, the size of a nutmeg.
  9. Roll each ball into a circle of about 3-3½" diameter with a rolling pin.
  10. Using a knife make small cuts all over the puri.
  11. Keep it on a plate or tray and cover it with a cloth so that the puri does not dry up.
  12. Repeat steps 9-11 with the remaining dough. Make sure the puris are thin.
  13. Heat oil in a wok or karai over medium heat.
  14. Drop a tiny piece of the dough into the oil. If it comes up to the top immediately then the oil is ready.
  15. Depending on the size of the wok or karai gently drop in 6-8 puris.
  16. Lower the heat. 
  17. Flip the puris over several times. Fry till they are crispy and light golden in colour.
  18. Remove the puris from the oil and keep it in a colander.
  19. Repeat steps 15-18 till all the puris are fried.
  20. Let them cool down a bit before storing in a jar or airtight tin.
  21. Serve masala farsi puri with tea or coffee.
Tips:
  • Adjust spices according to your taste.
  • Don't need to add kasuri methi if you don't have any.
  • Make sure you roll them thin otherwise they will not turn out crispy.
You may want to check out my other Diwali treats:
santra basundi
chakri


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Thursday, 12 October 2017

718. Pearl Millet and Almond Cookies (Bajra Cookies)

Include Millet In Your Diet

Theme: Cookies For Your Sweet Tooth

BM#81 Week 2 Day 3

   Today has been such a horrible day for me. I wait till 9a.m. for the maid to turn up. I had planned so many Diwali cooking and baking items but didn't get even one done. She turns up after 9 and goes and sits down. I was a bit annoyed so didn't say anything. After a few minutes I hear long sighs... what a brilliant way to attract attention. I go to her and she tells me she is sick. So I tell her to go back home and rest and come back when she is well. She continues to sit there. The softie me asks her if she needs a cup of tea. She says yes. So I make some tea for her. She sips on the tea and then asks for money as she needs to go to the doctor. I really was mood spoilt by now... its not the end of the month and already she owes me quite a bit of money. She leaves. 

   I start tackling the housework. By mid morning I am so annoyed and literally want to curse her! Why? No, I'm not heartless, I know she is sick. What annoyed me is all the dust and cobwebs I find behind the furniture. Constant reminders of cleaning behind the furniture and she kept on telling me its all done and the house is spic and span for Diwali. The silly me doesn't check! So here I'm tackling the whole apartment with a broom, mop, duster, cleaners etc. I fear that if my home is dirty, Goddess Lakshmi may miss my house!  I'm nearly done with the cleaning, and am about to tackle the utensils when I hear a loud thud noise. Look into the dhoti area to find my washing machine on the side! 

   For a few seconds I just look in utter astonishment. Where do I begin to tackle this? Hubby dear had thought that putting the machine (that sometimes wobbles during the spinning cycle) on a wooden stool like contraption is the best idea! I had complained about this several times but it fell on deaf ears. So first had to switch it off. Then I'm alone at home, the water is seeping out and may spoil the electronics. So immediately disconnect the water outlet pipe so the water drains out from the outlet and not the door(mine is a top load).   The whole dhoti is flooded with water. Remove the clothes and then call my neighbor to help me make it stand. The leg of the wooden stool broke and thus the heavy machine toppled!

   By the time I cleaned up the mess, the machine and put the clothes back to wash, I was in tears! Still the utensils are waiting and I haven't made lunch! I was annoyed with hubby for raising the machine on that stupid stool. Full of pride I refused to call him to get some take away. Instead, in my anger prepared some mixed vegetable khichdi in the pressure cooker! 

   What a day! By the time all the work was tackled it was nearly 3p.m. Took a nap and was about to sit to type out today's recipe when the power went off! By now I just couldn't stop uttering nonsense and cursing the power company. Its now 11.30p.m. and am blogging!
Hope tomorrow is a much better day. I now have to cut off some of the Diwali items I was going to prepare... running out of time!

    Even as a kid, I used to love pearl millet flour. Most kids don't like it, but I used to love the bajri na debra, raab, rotla that my mum would make using this healthy or should I say super healthy grain. When I chose the cookies theme for the #81 blogging marathon I had made up my mind to make a healthy alternate to plain flour or wheat flour. Bajri cookies it was. 

   There are so many versions of these cookies but I decided to go for only millet flour and no plain or wheat flour added. Since I'd baked my Jamaican Toto Coconut Bread replacing the brown sugar with jaggery, I'd loved the taste so I did the same here. 

   To balance the earthy taste of the jaggery and millet flour, I added some cranberries for that slight tangy taste. The almond powder or meal is for added health benefits and who doesn't love cookies with nuts in them.

   I did the 'roll the ball method' but next time I'm going to try and make 'the slice the cookie dough method' much like the way we make shortbread type cookies. If they turn out good, look wise I'll share the clicks here. In the meantime enjoy the ones I made for now. Go on try these cookies out. I'm sure you'll not mind adding these cookies to lunch boxes as a sweet treat. I know the butter part is not too healthy but once in a while you have treat yourself.






PEARL MILLET AND ALMOND COOKIES (BAJRA COOKIES)
Makes 20

1½ cup pearl millet flour (bajra flour)
¼ cup almond powder (coarse)
¼ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup jaggery powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit)
100g butter
½ tsp cardamom powder
¼ tsp salt

  1. Sieve flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom powder and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Add cranberries, desiccated coconut and coarse almond powder. Mix well.
  3. Add butter and jaggery powder in another bowl. Mix it till it becomes soft and creamy.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix. The dough will be very soft. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180°C.
  6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or lightly grease it with some butter.
  7. Take about a tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball.
  8. Gently press it between your palms.
  9. Place it on the prepared tray.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining dough.
  11. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes till the edges become light brown.
  12. Remove the tray from the oven.
  13. Remove the cookies from the tray and let them cool on a wire rack.
Tips:
  • You can leave the dough in the fridge for 20-30 minutes and then roll the balls.
  • These cookies can be made using brown sugar.
  • Add dried fruits of your choice.
  • For a vegan option replace the butter with coconut oil or a vegan butter or nut butter.
You may want to check out my other cookie recipes:
Karachi Cookies
Lebkuchen
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

717. Rose and Cardamom Cookies

Cookie,a must with tea or coffee

Theme: Cookies For Your Sweet Tooth

BM #81 Week 2 Day 2

   Isn't it intriguing that when one has tea or coffee during mid morning or in the afternoon, one feels like having a cookie with it? I do. I usually want to have one small cookie with my afternoon tea. My siblings and I grew up having biscuits as we called them back then with our glass of milk. I enjoy dunking my cookie or biscuit in the tea, milk or coffee. A few places in the world will automatically serve a small cookie along with some coffee. I like that special treat whenever I get it.

   I enjoying baking and cookies was what I learnt how to bake first. Then it was cakes and later on breads.  I love trying out new flavors. Rose and cardamom is one of them. A couple of years back I had gone to the spice souk when I was in Dubai. I picked up some dried tiny pink roses and they smell so heavenly. When I got home, I put them in a ziplock  bag in the fridge. Even today when I use them they still are so aromatic and flavorful. I've used rose and cardamom combination in a baklava bread, used it for some Indian milk based mithai so thought why not for cookies.

   Diwali is just round the corner, so best time to bake these aromatic and flavorful cookies. I must admit I rather make cookies where I can either roll the dough into balls or slice them. I find the rolling and cutting with cookie cutter method a bit tedious. But that doesn't mean I don't make those kind of cookies too. Since the roses are so aromatic I didn't need to add any rose essence or rose water.

   Check out the recipe for these easy to bake cookies and enjoy them with some masala tea or a glass of milk.

Does anyone know how I can make the pistachio or any nut stick to the cookies and not fall off after baking? 





Rose and Cardamom Cookies  
Makes about 15-16

1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp almond powder
2 tbsp fine semolina (sooji, rava)
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
¼ tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp dried rose petals
2 tsp rose water (optional; I didn't need to use)

pistachio slivers for topping

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper or lightly grease with some butter or ghee.
3.  Mix flour, almond powder, semolina, baking soda, cardamom powder, rose petals and salt together.
4.  In another bowl mix sugar and butter  together till it becomes light in colour and creamy.
5.  Add rose water and mix.
6.  Add the flour mixture and form a dough.
7.   Take about a tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball.
8.  Flatten it lightly between your palms.
9.  Place it on the prepared tray.
10. Press a pistachio sliver gently on top of each rolled dough.
11.  Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining dough.
12. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes till the edges begin to brown.
13. Remove the tray from the oven.
14. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes.
15. Remove the cookies from the tray and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
16. Store the cookies in an airtight jar.

Tips:
  •      Cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven but on cooling will become a bit harder.
  •      Add rose essence or rose water. I didn't add any as the rose petals were aromatic.
Check out my other cookie recipes:

Just realized that so many of my old cookie photos need to be updated but sharing them anyway as the recipes are good.
Custard Powder Cookies
double chocolate brownie cookies
khara biscuits
oatmeal coconut cookies
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