Boozy Holiday Fruit Cake (Eggless) & a Christmas Nostalgia

Boozy holiday rich fruit cake (eggless) with dried cranberries, dates and raisins soaked in red wine for a month!

Christmas in Calcutta is an emotion. While it may ruffle some feathers, I have to admit that Calcutta is probably the most secular city in India which celebrates festivals like Christmas not out of any religious compulsion but because it’s a delightful celebration of life, something that lifts your spirits.

For those of us who grew up in Calcutta, the festival is synonymous with Nahoum’s rich fruit cake. Surprisingly in December the whole city gets busy in Christmas preps, and the Jewish bakeries and neighbourhood confectionaries start selling homemade plum cakes that are made with rum soaked raisins, dates and candied peels. All of a sudden, Ruma kakima’s sleepy bakery in the dusty bylanes of Free School Street is abuzz with activities.

Nahoum’s will remain my most favourite always- their dense and rich fruit cakes are so moist and loaded with dry fruits. This is my ode to their legendary cakes as i reminisce about the bygone Christmas days of my adolescence when I would patiently wait in a long queue outside the store with my mum just to get my share of treats. That was my Santa moment.

The authentic Christmas plum cake/ fruit cake in Calcutta is prepared with dried fruits soaked in rum for a prolonged period and most recipes are handed down through generations. I have used red wine instead and have also used greek yogurt instead of eggs which is honestly unthinkable in the original recipe. But then sometimes it’s okay to deviate from the original and tweak things here and there just for fun, doesn’t take away anything from the classic 🙂

Ingredients:

Chopped dried cranberries, black raisins, sultanas, pitted dates, candied ginger soaked in red wine (or dark rum) for at least 2-3 weeks (the longer the better)

11/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, clove and nutmeg

1 tbsp orange zest

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

1 cup brown sugar (preferably) or raw cane sugar (no white sugar)

1 cup greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup of chopped mixed nuts like almonds, pistachios and cashews

Method:

In a mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 cup brown sugar. Whisk it well for a couple of minutes until well combined.

Now add the yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk again. It will take a couple of minutes to whisk everything to a smooth consistency.

In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Start with 11/2 cup of all purpose flour. Toss in the ground spices, orange zest (make sure to avoid grating the bitter white pith), baking soda, baking powder and mix everything well with the whisk.

Now throw in the flour mixture into the wet bowl and fold with a spatula. No whisking from this point anymore and also ensure that you don’t overmix the batter. The batter is supposed to be dense and heavy.

The last step is to add the chopped nuts and soaked dried fruits into the cake batter and fold again with the spatula. Reserve some of the soaked fruits for spooning on top of the cake.

Line a square baking pan with a parchment paper and pour in the batter. Sprinkle the remaining soaked dried fruits on top and bake in a pre heated oven at 160 degree C for around 60 minutes. Let it cool down completely before serving.

*Some tips*

Always pack the cake tightly in an aluminum foil to store it. This preserves its shape and moisture.

The cake tastes better with time. The longer it soaks all the goodness from the rum/ wine, the better it tastes.

‘Feed’ the cake with wine/ rum by poking holes all over it with a toothpick and then keep it tightly packed.

Could it get any boozier??

Down Memory Lane: Classic Shepherd’s Pie

Truth be told, there’s a lot of debate on the origins of the humble shepherd’s pie- whether it’s Irish or British! There are bits and pieces of history/ folklore surrounding this classic delicacy and there’s no one person or an event that gifted this hearty dish to the world.

Probably somewhere around the early 1800s, peasant housewives in Ireland and northern parts of England came up with the ingenious idea of putting the leftover meat from Sunday roasts to good use by making pies out of them. This clever practice avoided wastages, while families could enjoy something which is not only delicious and new but also filling and inexpensive.

Traditionally, shepherd’s pie uses minced lamb while cottage pie uses minced beef. The ground meat combined with veggies simmered in a rich gravy and topped with creamy mashed potato and grated parmesan results in a dish that is so comforting that it warms your soul.

Feel free to use ground turkey or chicken or even soy meat in case you want alternatives.

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the lamb gravy:

250g ground lamb

1 cup of mixed veggies like chopped celery, carrots and onions

2/3 cup frozen peas

3 fat garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves

1 tbsp dried thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup chicken/ meat stock

2 tbsp Olive oil (or any white oil)

For the mashed potato:

450 gram boiled and mashed potatoes (preferably russet potatoes)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp sour cream

1 tsp dried parsley flakes

1/2 tsp garlic powder

4 tbsp grated parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat olive oil in a pot and sauté the chopped carrot, celery, onions along with minced garlic. Once fragrant, add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Mix everything well.

Now add the ground lamb and throw in some green peas. Stir and let the meat cook until it’s no longer pink.

This is the time to add the worcestershire sauce (key!), tomato puree and the meat/ chicken stock. Cook for a while on medium heat and then cover and let it simmer nicely on low heat until the sauce thickens. Take off the heat once done.

Meanwhile, chop and boil the large potatoes and mash them with a fork. Mix in butter, sour cream, dried parsley, salt and pepper.

To assemble the dish, layer the cooked meat in a baking dish and top it with the mashed potato. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 mins at 200 degree C. Broil for another 3-4 mins for that beautiful golden colour on top 🙂

Wishing you all a merry Christmas & happy holidays!

Ultimate Eggless Choco-chip Cookies

Eggless Choco-chip Cookie

Soft and chewy, straight out of the oven, these eggless choco-chip cookies are what dreams are made of. As winter saunters along, nothing can be a better pick-me-up than a homemade chocolate cookie with a cup of cappuccino.

This decadent choco-chip cookie recipe is inspired by Buzzfeed Tasty’s recipe with some tweaks. Below is the recipe:

Ingredients (for 11 biggg cookies): 

11/4 cups of granulated brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup of  olive oil (or any white oil)

1/3 cup of oat milk (or regular milk)

1 tsp Vanilla essence

11/2 cups of all purpose flour

½ tsp Baking soda

6 heaped tablespoon Semi dark chocolate chunks

  • In a bowl, mix 275 g of granulated brown sugar with 1 tsp salt and 125 ml olive oil. Now whisk in 80 ml oat milk and 1 tsp of vanilla essence into the batter and combine everything well until smooth.
  • Now add 200 g of all purpose flour and ½ tsp baking soda into the mix and fold gently with a spatula making sure not to over mix.
  • Throw in the chocolate chunks generously (as much as you please) and mix well. Keep the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and make 10-11 balls out of the dough and place them on the paper with some gaps between each cookie. 
All set to go inside the preheated oven

Bake in a preheated oven for around 15 mins at 180 degree centigrade.

Chocolatey goodness!

Let it cool down for 5-10 mins and dig in!

Gajar Halwa Tarts

Gajar Halwa Tarts

As a kid I remember eagerly waiting for winters. Marigold blooms, afternoon picnics, cozy blankets & of course bowls of warm & comforting gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding) made by maa.

I would help her peel & grate the carrots in the hope of getting a bigger share than my sis 😀 Those indeed were the days. During winters, we would rush home from school, throw our bags & run to the kitchen to see what’s in store, just in case we were in for any surprises! Truth be told, my sis was least interested, it was more my thing. Nothing gave me more joy than watching maa or our cook whip up something fancy in the kitchen while I eagerly waited for my turn to relish them 🙂

With the winters approaching, I have been craving gajar ka halwa for a while now & thought of following maa’s recipe with a few tweaks here & there & also turn it into tarts. Not only they taste heavenly but look pretty too! Go ahead & try it out.

Here’s the recipe (for 12 tarts):

Ingredients

450 g peeled & grated carrot

2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew

60-70 ml ghee (clarified butter)

200 ml milk (I used oat milk)

130 ml condensed milk

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

12 tart shells (I used store bought)

Pistachios for garnishing

Method

Roughly chop 2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew & roast them in 2 tsp ghee. Keep aside. Heat 50 ml ghee in a heavy bottomed pan & add about 450g peeled & grated carrot.

Mix well & cook until the colour changes & the carrot looks well combined.

Halfway add 2-3 tbsp ghee again & stir everything well.

After 10 mins add 200ml milk (I used oat milk).

Keep stirring & simmering on medium heat until the mixture reaches boiling point. This is where you add 130 ml of condensed milk & 1 tbsp sugar. Lower the heat & let everything combine well & come together.

Keep stirring for 10 more mins until the carrot no longer sticks to the pan. Stir in half a tsp of cardamom powder & the fried nuts back into the pan & continue to cook until the halwa turns dark orange/ reddish. 

You can have it as it is or make tarts like I did I used store bought tart shells. Fill each shell with the halwa (pudding) after poking holes in the tarts with a fork. Now line them up on a baking tray.

Before going in the oven

Preheat oven to 180-190 degree celsius & bake the tarts for 12-13 mins. Garnish with chopped pistachios & drizzle some condensed milk before serving.

Little cups of heaven 🙂

Shrimp Noodles with Bok Choy & Spring Onions

“Grow up, eat some chilli” as Seonkyoung Longest, the queen of Asian cuisine always says 😀 I followed her recipe to create this perfect street style shrimp chowmein or shrimp noodles with bok choy and spring onions (slightly modified). If there’s one dish I could eat all day, everyday, its got to be noodles. mmmmm !

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Growing up, whenever I was down or upset, my mum would cheer me up with a comforting bowl of noodles. Since then, it has pretty much been my constant soul food as life happened!

Do watch her YouTube channel for this and more lip smacking Asian food 🙂

 

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I have always been an ardent Asian food lover and living in Kuala Lumpur for more more than 5 years now, my love has grown by leaps and bounds. The truth is I have probably only scratched the surface on making or experiencing South East Asian food because its so rich and diverse! I am definitely learning more and more with each passing day.

So go ahead and try out this recipe. Whether you are a college student or a busy working woman, I can bet you won’t find any easier noodles recipe that tastes this awesome 😀

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Ingredients:

10-12 peeled and de-veined prawns/ shrimp (medium size is the best)

A pinch of black pepper

1 tbsp vinegar (any type would do)

1/2 cup chicken stock (if you don’t have, then simple warm water would do!)

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 thai red chilli chopped (lovely flavour yet low on heat)

5-6 fat cloves of garlic, chopped

1 inch of thinly julienne d ginger

3 medium sized diced shiitake mushroom

3 baby bok choy

3-4 spring onions, chopped into 2 inch long pieces

2-3 tbsp white oil for stir frying

A splash of sesame oil

Salt to taste

300-350 g cooked spaghetti or egg noodles (I used angel hair spaghetti)

Method:

Marinate the shrimps with vinegar and black pepper for at least 15 minutes. Heat a wok. Add oil and throw in the prawns to be stir fried for about a minute on high heat (important). Take them out and keep aside.

Add some more oil and heat up the wok again. Add chopped ginger, garlic and red chilies into the wok. Again carefully stir fry them for about a minute (make sure the heat is high and stir continuously). Now is the time to add the bok choy and mushrooms. Keep stir frying as you get the wonderful aroma.

Mix the oyster and dark soy sauce in the chicken stock to make the sauce for our chowmein. Now throw in the cooked (al dente) noodles and the sauce into the wok and keep stir frying. Let everything combine well. Add in the spring onion greens and mix again. Turn off the heat and add a splash of sesame oil for the final wonderful touch. That’s it! Voila 🙂

 

POTOLER DOLMA (Stuffed Pointed Gourd in a spicy gravy)

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Potoler Dolma is a delectable Bengali dish which is a quintessential part of any traditional function or festival. The stuffing/ filling used in this recipe is minced mutton (keema). But of course, the options are many, like- grated coconut, paneer (cottage cheese), minced prawns and all are equally delicious! As you know that my mum is here, so it goes without saying that this is her recipe 😀

I realized that I had never bothered to find out about the origin of the word ‘dolma’. Upon researching, I learned that, in Turkish, Dolma means stuffed. It is also commonly found in Middle Eastern cuisines. It was during the time of the Sultanate’s rule in Bengal that this dish ‘Potoler Dolma’ was created using local vegetables/ meat.

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I love the intricacy of the dish. From scooping out the flesh and seeds of potol, to frying it, preparing the stuffing, making the gravy and then cooking everything together. It’s a work of art and the end result is just brilliant! But I never really cooked it at home (lazy me :P) and now living away from home in India, I rarely get to eat it these days. But a small cute incident made me fall in love with the dish all over again and so now, I intend to make it once in a while.

It was during one of our trips back home in Calcutta, when my mum made potoler dolma among a host of other dishes, for her beloved son-in-law and me 😀 As S took a bite, he nonchalantly remarked that this dish was his favourite! It’s very rare that he actually says something like that because he is not much of a foodie and doesn’t really care what you give him to eat (savior at times 😛 ). Of course I know what he enjoys eating but he never says what his favourite is, so this was a sweet revelation for me. And when mum wanted to cook something special on naboborsho (Bengali New Year) which was on 15th of April, this dish was my first choice. It was pure joy to watch him savour his ‘favourite’ dish 🙂

Ingredients:

For Stuffing:

  • 10 potols/ pointed gourds
  • 250 g minced mutton
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 large grated tomato
  • 2 medium potatoes, boiled and crumbled
  • Scooped flesh and seeds of the pointed gourds
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil for frying

For Gravy:

  • Whole garam masala, crushed (5-6 green cardamom, 4 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick)
  • 1 tsp jeera/ cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil

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Method:

Deseeding the potol/ pointed gourd

Cut the two ends of a potol and very lightly scrape it using a blunt knife. Now carefully scoop out the flesh and the seeds from inside without breaking the potol. You can use a fork or the back of a small spoon to do this.  Keep the seeds and flesh aside to be used later.

Now rub a little salt and turmeric on inside and outside of the potols and fry them in mustard oil. Keep aside to cool.

Stuffing:

Heat some mustard oil in a kadhai/ wok and add chopped onions. Stir for a while and when they get soft, add ginger-garlic paste. Stir for a minute or till the raw smell goes away, now add the tomatoes and throw in green chilies. Fry well. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala and mix everything well. Now add the keema (minced mutton), flesh and seeds of potols, salt and mix well. Cook for a while till you see oil separating from the mix. Now mash the potatoes and add into the stuffing mix. Combine everything well and cook till the gravy dries up. Let it cool.

Now fill the scooped out and fried potols with the stuffing. Make sure that they are stuffed till the edge tightly. Keep a little stuffing aside to be added into the gravy later.

Gravy:

In the same wok, heat some more mustard oil, add some sugar to get a rich red colour of the gravy. Once it caramelizes, add crushed whole garam masalas, cumin seeds and green chilies. Once the aroma of the masala releases, add ginger paste. Stir for a while. In a small cup, mix turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder with some water to make a paste and add into the gravy. Throw in the tomato puree and keep stirring till you see oil separating from the masalas. Now add water and salt and cover the kadhai and let it come to a boil (medium flame). Now add the potols into the gravy along with the extra stuffing. Cover and now cook on a low flame. When gravy thickens to your desired consistency, add some freshly ground garam masala and switch off the gas. Cover the wok and let it get a standing time of at least 10 minutes.

Serve hot with plain white rice.

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NOLEN GURER PAYESH (Rice Pudding with Date Palm Jaggery)

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For me, this very name brings back a lot of memories. No festival/ wedding/ function in winters is complete without a dessert made with nolen gur. The sheer variety of desserts that can be made using this lip smacking gur/ jaggery is endless. From payesh to pitheys, ice cream, sandesh, and so much more! Every household has their own version of this dish and today I am going to share with you how my mum cooks it. She is now here with me in KL, and she got some nolen gur packed for me from India. Yay!! S loves anything sweet and I am always looking for ways to satiate his sweet tooth, so what better than homemade payesh. Its gluten free and the best thing? It was cooked by mum and it tasted heavenly! Someone rightly said, Desserts is stressed spelled backwards 😀

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There are certain ‘musts’ in this recipe to make the authentic payesh. The first is Date Palm Jaggery or Nolen Gur/ Notun Gur. In India, this particular jaggery is available only in winters and it is an inherent part of the culinary tradition of Bengal in winters. It has a rich nutty flavour and simply melts in your mouth when you take a bite. The second one is the type of rice to be used, which is Gobindobhog (an aromatic rice). You can substitute it with basmati rice but it won’t be the real deal 🙂

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Ingredients (to serve 4-5 people):

  • 1 Litre full cream milk (full fat or full cream milk is essential for that creamy consistency)
  • 60-65gm gobindobhog/ basmati rice (this ratio is important! For every 1 l milk, approx. 60gm of rice to be used)
  • Nolen gur/ Date Palm Jaggery (no strict measurement for this, as per your taste)

*Note: If you don’t have date palm jaggery, you may substitute it with date syrup available in most groceries or brown sugar*

  • 2 tsp Raisins
  • Few crushed green cardamoms
  • 2-3 bay leaf
  • Almonds for garnishing

Method:

In a deep bottomed pan, heat the milk. Let it come to a boil while stirring continuously, so that no cream is formed. While the milk is boiling, add the crushed cardomoms and the bay leaves and keep stirring with the ladle until the milk thickens. Now add the rice into the pan (the rice should be washed and dried on a flat surface before adding into the milk). Again keep stirring and when the rice is completely cooked, throw in the jaggery or sugar and mix well till completely dissolved in milk. Once the pudding thickens to your desired consistency, add the raisins and switch off the flame after 2-3 minutes. Garnish with dry fruits of your choice. You may serve it hot or chilled, tastes great both ways 🙂

3 important tips to remember for the perfect payesh:

  1. Always use full cream milk for best results.
  2. While cooking, keep stirring the milk continuously so that no cream/ layer forms on top.
  3. Most importantly, keep in mind that the jaggery/ sugar should always be added after the rice is cooked perfectly. Once the sweet goes in, the rice stops getting cooked further.

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Gluten-free Besan Cheela (Savoury Pancakes with Chickpea Flour & Spices)

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Since last few days, S & I have been eating out a lot, mostly junk and calorie rich stuff because let’s just admit that best things in life are always fattening 😀 But as much as we love eating out, we also ensure that we eat clean most of the time. So I keep coming back to wholesome nutritious food and this New Year, I made a resolution to cut out processed food from my life and embrace real food.

The cheelas/ pancakes I made for lunch today were delightfully tasty and very healthy too. Chickpea flour, also known as besan/ gram flour, is gluten free. It is highly nutritious as it’s packed with protein, iron and fiber. For a guilt free indulgence, chickpea flour is definitely one of the best options and in India we use it to cook both savoury and sweet dishes.

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I will share healthy and tasty recipes from time to time. For now, note down the ingredients and method of making besan cheelas.

Ingredients (for 4-5 pancakes):

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, finely chopped (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1 inch ginger piece, grated
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • For the batter:
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or any white oil would do)
  • Water to make a runny batter
  • Following spices to be added:
  • 1 tsp carom seeds/ ajwain
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
  • ½ tsp asafetida/ heeng
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilly powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of sugar

Method:

In a large bowl, take 2 cups of chickpea flour. Add in all the spices listed above. Mix well with a balloon whisk. Now throw in all the veggies into the bowl before adding water.

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This is done so that the flour absorbs all the moisture from the veggies, making it easy for us to understand the amount of water needed for the batter. Now slowly add water, until you get a runny batter. Mix well. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

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Heat oil in a tawa/ griddle. Pour some batter in the center of the griddle and spread evenly with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. Make sure that the pancake is not very thick. Let it cook for at least a minute or until you see the sides becoming brown and bubbles forming on top.

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Now drizzle some oil on the top and flip the pancake over. Drizzle oil on the sides and let it again cook for another 2 minutes. Keep flipping from time to time for a crispy finish.

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Serve hot with green chutney/ ketchup or some yogurt for a simple and nourishing meal 🙂

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Patishapta (Rice flour crepes with coconut filling): Celebrating Makar Sankranti

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In India, the harvesting season is considered extremely auspicious and households all over the country celebrate during the month of January by making sweets of all kinds. Each region has its own take on the festival but the underlying essence remains the same, i.e. to celebrate the prosperity and bring in more luck for the coming seasons. In Bengal, it is known as Makar Sankranti or Poush Sankranti, while in Northern India its Lohri, Bihu in Assam, Uttarayan in Gujarat and Pongal in South India. Different names but similar in spirit 🙂

I have grown up relishing pithey– a sweet made with rice flour, semolina, jaggery, coconut, etc. The sheer variety of pithey can be overwhelming, but one particular which is an absolute favourite and has a lot of fond memories attached to it, is ‘Patishapta’. I am filled with nostalgia as I type on my keyboard because dida (my maternal grandmother) used make the most scrumptious patishaptas I have ever had. Ever since I can recall, I eagerly waited for her to make them and the delightful whiff of her freshly made crepes still lingers in my mind. In fact she couldn’t even take the first batch out from the kitchen as me and my sisters would pounce on the plate to claim our share 😀 She is no longer with us today but the sweet memories still remain fresh as ever.

Last Friday, Makar Sankranti was celebrated in India, and so I decided that I would make Patishapta. I called up mum and noted down the recipe like an obedient student and then checked my pantry. Thankfully I had all the ingredients in stock! Though the magic of my dida couldn’t be recreated but it was tasty nevertheless because S couldn’t stop at just one 😉

So here’s the recipe- (Traditionally, Nolen Gur or Date Palm Jaggery is used but since I didn’t have that so I used brown sugar instead)

* I am not very particular about measurements, unless it is for baking. I just go by my estimation, so you can adjust accordingly.

Ingredients (for about 8 Patishapta):

For the stuffing:

  • 4 cups grated coconut
  • 1 cup brown sugar (or as per your taste)
  • Green cardamom powder (preferably crushed in a mortar pestle)
  • 2 cups milk

For the batter:

  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 cups maida or all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • Sugar to taste
  • Water for semi runny batter

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Method:

In a kadhai/ wok on low-medium heat, dry roast grated coconut for a few minutes. Now mix sugar with the coconut and keep stirring continuously. Carry on with it for at least 15-20 minutes. Now add freshly crushed green cardamom powder in the kadhai and mix well.

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The sugar and coconut should combine really well to give a slightly mushy texture. In my case it was taking a lot of time and so I used milk (not used in the original recipe). Maybe my coconut wasn’t that fresh as I used store bought grated coconut. It is very important to use fresh coconut, although after adding milk (you can also use condensed milk for a gooey filling) I got the right texture and it also enhanced the flavour. Once the filling is ready, remove from the kadhai and let it cool.

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Now for the batter, in a large bowl, mix semolina with some water and let it rest for about 30 minutes. After that, add maida and rice flour. Mix well with water to make a batter which is slightly runny. Add some sugar according to your taste.

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Heat a tawa/ round flat griddle. Drizzle few drops of oil and smear it all over using an eggplant stem. Pour a ladle full of the batter into the center of the tawa. Spread it evenly using the back of the ladle.

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When you see bubbles forming on top, put the filling in the center of the crepe and gently fold from both sides. Once folded, press for about 30-40 seconds on each side and remove immediately.

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You can serve them hot just like that or if you have patience, then drizzle some condensed milk/ melted nolen gur (jaggery) on top for a blissful experience 🙂

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Party Special ‘Spicy Chicken Drumsticks Curry’

Indian food is all about contrasting flavours. The way different spices and herbs come together in one dish is amazing and nothing less than a work of art. The once humble Indian chicken curry is now famous all over the world, but let me bust some myths here. There is really nothing called an Indian Chicken Curry because India is a land of cultural miscellany and so is the food- as diverse as it can get. So a chicken curry up north is dramatically different from its southern counterpart. In fact every state has a different take on the curry. So what you get in Jaipur will be quite different from the one in Kashmir or Calcutta or Amritsar or Hyderabad! So you see. You really can’t have a universal Indian Chicken curry.

Today I’ll sharing with you a recipe of my mum’s including her handy tips to cook the perfect chicken! This dish is a party winner and have been appreciated by many. I recently made a big bowl of it for our New Year’s party at a friend’s where we had a potluck night. I guess everyone loves potluck dinners. It’s half the work and double the fun 😀 and what better way to ring in the New Year than enjoying a hearty meal with friends and watching the spectacular fireworks from the terrace 🙂

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Recipe Ingredients:

  • 12-15 Chicken drumsticks
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes (chopped finely)
  • 6 fat cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 inch ginger (crushed)
  • 3-4 slit green chilies (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • Whole garam masala for tempering (4 cloves, 5-6 green cardamom, 10 black pepper, 1 large stick of cinnamon)
  • 2 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 3/4th tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder (this gives the gravy a luscious dark red colour)
  • 1 ½ tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Fried onion juliennes (made from 6 large onions)
  • Fried cashews
  • Chopped coriander leaves
  • 4-5 tbsp Olive oil (you can use any white oil)

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Method:

Wash the chicken well. Heat a tbsp of oil in a deep kadhai/ wok and add the drumsticks. Sauté for couple of minutes until the chicken becomes golden brown. This retains the juices of the chicken which enhances its flavour (#Tip 1). Take out the pieces and the juice in a bowl.

* If you simply add raw pieces of chicken to your cooked masalas, then it won’t taste that great. So this is a handy tip for you guys.

In the same kadhai, heat some oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. This softens the onion faster (#Tip 2). Deep fry them until they become dark brown in colour (remember not to over fry them, else they will turn bitter). Remove with a slotted spoon. Take half of the onions and make a paste in a blender. We will use it for our gravy. Keep the remaining for garnishing.

Now add some oil in the same wok. When it becomes hot, add a tsp of sugar. This makes the colour of the gravy red and glossy (#Tip 3). Once the sugar is caramelised, add the whole garam masala, and bay leaf. Saute till you get a lovely aroma of the spices, add slit chilies and the onion paste. Fry well for 2 minutes. Add crushed ginger and garlic. Cook until the raw smell is gone. Now throw in the tomatoes and stir for a minute and cover with a lid. Let it cook on a low-med flame for 3-4 minutes.

This is the time to add all the spices. Take a small cup, add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and red chili powder. Add some water and make a paste. This is done so that the masala won’t burn while frying (#Tip 4). Now add the paste into the kadhai. Fry for 3-4 minutes on a medium flame.

Now add the chicken pieces into the wok. Keep stirring for atleast 8-10 minutes or until you see oil separating from the spices. This is called ‘Koshano’ in Bengali/ bhuno in Hindi, basically sautéing :D. This step is very essential if you want velvety and succulent chicken (#Tip 5). Don’t add water during this stage.

Add 1 cup of water now and cover and cook on a low flame till the gravy thickens and clings onto the chicken drumsticks. The trick to making juicy, fall off the bone chicken requires cooking it on a low flame for a long time (#Tip 6).

The dish is ready. Garnish with chopped coriander, fried onions and cashew nuts. Serve hot with naan (Indian flat bread) or rice.

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