Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Flavors of Life ~ Candy Clouds


Flavors of Life ~ Candy Clouds
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper, 5″x6″)

The heavenly feel of cotton candy melting in the mouth on a happy, fun-filled holiday cannot be matched by any other gastronomic delight. I have dreamt of these. Yes, I dream of food very frequently.:) I must add that these not only make my taste buds feel wonderful, I get a warm, tingly and happy feeling in my heart too. Oooooh, that’s enough mush. :) I wonder what it is about us girls and candy and pink!

~ Sree

Previously on Flavors of Life:

Banana Vendor by Sree Pumpkin Blossom by Sree Tirupathi Laddus by Sree

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Sugar, Sree (Saturday March 1, 2008 at 12:54 am- permalink)
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Sugar Figurines for Sankranthi

Chakkara Achchulu (Sugar Art of India)

Chakkara Achchulu of India
Mother and Baby Pheasants in Early Morning Mist
(Panchadaara Chilakalu)

Sugar Art of India
Baby Peacock Exploring the Countryside

Sugar Figurines of India
Baby Peacock and Baby Elephant at a Water Pool

The beautiful sugar figurines of India are prepared for Sankranthi and during Dasera-Deepavali festival season. They are Pooja ornaments, and also sweeten the saare (gifts) in functions like marriages and baby-shower etc. These delightful, melt in mouth treats are prepared by pouring the pure and concentrated sugar syrup into carved wooden molds. Little bit of care and patience, viola, the tiny decorative candy items are ready to enjoy.

The sugar figurines photographed here came all the way from India… survived the tiresome travel conditions halfway across the globe. Thank you dear Janani for sending these delectable delicate delights for us.

Sugar Figurines that Holds Sweet Memories ~ Photo Essay
Sugar-Khoya Figurines for Rukhwat

Indira

*********

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sugar, Indian Sweets 101, Traditions (Friday January 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm- permalink)
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Kalakand


On Krishnatashtami, we celebrate the Bhagavan Krishna’s birthday. The scriptures portray bala (baby) Krishna as a happy and mischievous child with boundless energy and great fondness for all things milk. Milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cream, ghee, venna, and milk based sweets are lovingly offered to bala Krishna during this festival time. In our family, for pooja neivedyam we prepare venna (the cream layer from yogurt) and pala kova or kalakand.

Kalakand, an exquisite milk-based sweet preparation is an interesting process. Concentrated milk called khoya and fresh paneer called chhana are mixed and simmered together with sugar to a luxurious thick, firmness. The mixture is cooled, then cut to squares and garnished with pistachios. That is kalakand of my hometown Nandyala. As you can imagine, the kalakand has a rich taste.

Depending on the khoya-chhana ratio and sugar variety, kalakand is 2 types.
Milky-white kalakand: Three parts chhana and one part khoya together simmered slowly with white sugar for hours. Continuous stirring and low heat cooking result in a pure-white kalakand. It’s a labor intensive process and usually you will find this milky-white kalakand at Indian sweet shops.
Coral-pink kalakand. Chhana and Khoya are in 1:1 or 1:3 ratio and unprocessed, old-world style red sugar (turbinado) sweetens and colors the kalakand. This is the type we prepare at our home. Both varieties taste equally delicious, but I prefer the Coral-pink colored kalakand. Here is how I made it for Krishnashtami prasadam.

Recipe:
(takes about 2-3 hours. Makes about 18 to 20 2×2x1 square shaped Kalakand)

½ gallon whole milk and juice from one lime - to prepare chhana
½ gallon whole milk - to prepare Khoya
2 to 2½ cups - unprocessed cane sugar (turbinado)
1 cup, shelled and unsalted pistachios - coarsely crushed for garnish
Silver or gold foil to decorate the kalakand

2 big, sturdy, wide based pots
Lots of patience. Family or friends on the side definitely will help and make the process more enjoyable.


Chhana for Kalakand

1. Milk: Place the pots on stove-top and add half gallon milk to each pot to prepare chhana and khoya simultaneously.

Chhana: In one pot, once the milk starts to boil, reduce the heat. Add the limejuice (lemon juice) and stir. Within minutes, you will see small clouds like white curds floating on top. Wait till they get bigger (if they don’t, add some more limejuice and stir) and the whey below gets less milky. This process takes few minutes, so wait at least five minutes. Switch off the heat and let it stand for few more minutes. Then pour the whole thing immediately into a clean muslin or cheese-cloth in a colander, over a sink. Gather the curds by twisting the cloth into a firm lump. The fresh paneer called chhana is ready.

Milk simmering thickened milk after 1 hour on the stove
Simmering Milk ………….. Thickened milk (khoya) after 2 Simmering Hours

Khoya: In another pot, once the milk starts to boil and lower the heat and simmer, until the milk gets thick and is reduced to about one fourths of the original quantity. This is khoya. (While thickening, stir frequently. Care must be taken that milk does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn/black.)

2. Add Sugar: To the khoya, add the freshly prepared chhana (paneer) and sugar. On low heat, cook, continuously mixing, until the khoya-chhana mixture thickens to a waterless-firm lump. This process takes about 45 minutes to one hour.

3. Decorate: Pour the firm mixture onto a plate. Level it evenly and allow to cool completely. The mixture thickens and firms up even more on cooling. With a knife, cut the cooled kalakand to squares or diamonds. Place the gold or silver foil on kalakand and sprinkle pistachios. Offer the jewel like decorated kalakand neivedyam to Bhagavan Krishna and enjoy the prasadam pieces with family and friends.

Kalakand stays fresh up to a week when refrigerated.


Kalakand Cooling


Kalakand Cut to Squares

Kalakand
Kalakand Jeweled with Pistachios ~ for Indian Sweets 101

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Paneer, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Pistachios, Milk, Indian Sweets 101 (Wednesday September 5, 2007 at 3:42 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Fig (Anjeer) Cake

Good quality dried figs, sweet tasting apricot kernels, honey and rose water - the no-bake fig cake or fig burfi is the best dessert I have ever made so far. Effortless and exotic, it was astonishing to see what few excellent quality ingredients can do when put together. The recipe is inspired by a product I have seen at a local grocery shop. Being the fig fanatic that I am, I had to recreate at home. As luck would have it, the same shop was also carrying a special price on moist, plump dried figs called Kalamata figs. The dessert is based on figs, needless to say figs quality matters.


Moist and Plump, Dried Kalamata Fig and Apricot Kernels

Recipe:

25 good quality, dried figs
25 apricot kernels or almonds
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons - melted, hot ghee
2 tablespoons - rose water

Finely chop figs. Place them in a food processor, add honey and process until figs are smooth. Add the ghee and rose water (acts as lubricants) in-between for easy grinding. A powerful food processor is essential for smooth end product.

Remove and divide the fig paste into two equal portions. Mold each into a ball and flatten using hands or rolling pin into equal sized rounds of one inch thickness. Place apricot kernels in rows on one round. Place the second round on top of it. Press them together like sandwich. If the cake is too sticky, few hours of refrigeration helps to firm it up. Cut and serve.

I used the same mold that I have seen at the grocery shop to recreate the exact replica. The fig paste behaved very well.

Dense and rich, this fig treat is a sweet mesmerizer. We loved it!


Anjeer Burfi with Apricot Kernels

Notes:
Figs (English) = Anjeer (Hindi)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Dry Fruits, Nuts & Seeds, Mitai, Honey, Apricot Kernels, Figs (Anjeer) (Monday May 28, 2007 at 9:41 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Besan-Coconut Burfi, the 7-cup magic

Besan Coconut Burfi ~ The 7-cup magic
Besan-Coconut Burfi ~ The 7-cup Magic for Indian Sweets 101

Experienced cooks would curl up into hardball position. The kitchen novice can crack up. Watching sugar melting for sweets preparation can do that to the cooks. Like Linda mentioned, the softball, the hardball, the numerous stages of sugar syrup have the effect of melting one’s brains.:) Toffees and Burfis turned to payasams, to hard bricks, to concrete mixture - I have seen them all. One recipe that has always come to my rescue during my beginner days of cooking was Besan-coconut burfi. Also known as 7-cup burfi.

7 cups refer to the ingredients’ quantity, which is easy to remember. There is no skill involved to prepare this sweet. Only thing one need is a steel heart. Coconut, sugar and ghee are liberally used and the sweet also liberates one from fear of burfi making. A true delight and Kitchen newbies favorite, I always remember this sweet fondly as 7-cup magic.

Recipe:
1 cup besan (gram flour, shanaga pindi)
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1-2 cups ghee
2 cups sugar - powdered
Cardamom to taste
Wide, sturdy pot, big slotted sturdy spoon and a steel heart.
——- ——-
Place a wide, sturdy pot on stove. Bring to warm on medium-low heat.
Add besan and fry it constantly stirring to copper-toned gold jewelry color.
Add the fresh grated coconut to the besan and fry it for about 5 to 10 minutes again on medium-low heat, until it leaves the raw smell.
Slowly stir in the powdered sugar and cardamom powder.
Mix thoroughly and cook, constantly adding ghee. Until the whole thing comes together to a porous, firm mass. Takes about 20-30 minutes on medium-low heat.
Remove to a ghee-coated plate/pan. Press evenly and cut diamond shaped pieces.
Or shape the mixture to round laddus, once the mixture is cooled enough to touch.
Enjoy the delicious taste of 7-cup burfi.

More 7-cup sweets:
7-cup cake from Vidhya Rajesh
7-cup sweet from Pavani

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Gram Flour (Besan), Sugar, Ghee, Coconut (Fresh), Indian Sweets 101 (Friday December 8, 2006 at 10:28 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Jaggery~Coconut Puffs


Jaggery-Coconut Puffs

Many thanks to lovely Kay for hosting this month’s Jihva. Being a first time mother of two month old baby girl, she could have easily said “no” to very demanding and time consuming work of event hosting, which she booked 7 months ago. I asked her to see if she’d take a break, but she insisted to do it. I restect people who keep their word without missing a beat. I also commend Kay for her dedication towards Jihva and also all the participants for their enthusiastic support with interesting entries. To make this event hosting as smooth as possible for Kay, I would greatly appreciate if you could send your entries with the details she requested (blog name, entry URL and images etc), so that she could do the recap of the event in short time. Thank you.

Kay also requested for new jaggery recipes. So here is one - Jaggery-Coconut puffs. Homemade puff pastry and sweet jaggery coconut filling. I borrowed the recipe idea from Fethiye of Yogurt land. I have changed the recipe little bit. Instead of egg in dough, I have added mashed ripe banana as I was preparing the puffs for naivedyam (puja offering) and also used ghee. Preparation was easy, and the end result was smooth silky puffs with sweet filling. We liked them a lot and they are definitely going to join my cherished recipe list. Thanks Fethiye for a great recipe idea, thanks Kay for inspiring me to experiment.


Dough, melted ghee, jaggery-coconut filling and jaggery-chana dal purnam filling

Recipe:
for 12 to 14 sweet puffs

For filling:

I’ve prepared two different fillings.
1: jaggery-coconut lauju: Follow coconut burfi recipe. Replace sugar with jaggery and stop cooking before the sweet reaches burfi stage. I have also added sesame seeds to the lauju.
2: jaggery-chana dal purnam : like we do for Bhakshalu (bobbatlu, puran poli, holige). Recipe is here. Small quantity, just half cup each is enough and can be done in 30 minutes with some preplanning.

For dough:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of warm milk
1 ripe banana - mashed smoothly
¼ cup of oil
1 teaspoon each - sugar, salt and cardamom powder
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast, stirred in 1 T of warm water

Take them all in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Prepare the dough like we do for chapatis, sprinkling warm water if necessary. Without giving any rest period, divide the dough into 8 rounds. Roll out small salad plate shaped rounds.

Apply general coating of ghee or melted butter to each one, on one side and layer them. (See the photo below).

Roll again these 8 rounds into one big dinner plate shaped circle of about 10 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. The size is really big, and I had to roll out on my kitchen countertop. Divide and cut this circle into 12 to 14 triangles of equal size.

Top the wide edge of each portion with 1 tablespoon of filling. Start rolling from the wide edge down to the tip. Curve in tips to close the gap on the sides. Now the rolling part is over, give the dough a break and allow to rest for about 15 minutes so that yeast can work its magic.

Arrange them nearly in rows on a greased baking sheet, leaving a little space between pieces. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm.


Rolling out the rounds and arranging one over another after applying ghee


Placing the jaggery-coconut filling and rolling the wedges to croissant shape


After a 15 minute rest period, the puffs are ready for baking


Hot Jaggery-Coconut Puffs for Birthday Girl Kay and my entry to JFI-Jaggery.


Recipe adapted from Yogurt Land
Flour Choice: King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Chana Dal, Jaggery, Coconut (Fresh) (Friday December 1, 2006 at 7:25 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Borugula (Murmura) laddu (Homemade Rice-Jaggery Crispy Sweet from India)


Golden Borugula Laddu under Evening Sunlight

How can one convey nostalgia? I am no wordsmith and sometimes words escape me, so I try it with my camera lens.

A nourishing and delightfully scented, not so sweet but fun kind of treat from my childhood days is murmura laddu. Also known as borugula mudda in Telugu and rice crispies in English.

During December and January months (Sankranthi time), when parents are busy with harvesting rice and sugarcane, grand parents prepare these crunchy, homely sweets for children with freshly popped murmura from rice battis and just minted 24 karat quality jaggery. Jaggery syrup is prepared and murmura are added - just these two ingredients and tiny touch of cardamom - that’s it. Magical, irresistible laddus would be ready to keep us children (mouths) busy.

I am happy that I am finally able to recreate this Sankranthi magic on Mahanandi. Though recipe looks simple, I know how difficult it is to prepare these kinds of sweets, so I measured and timed the process to make it fail proof and for decent results. Give it a try.


Preparing Jaggery Syrup for Murmura laddus

Recipe:

Murmura (borugulu, puffed rice) - one quart
Jaggery - one cup (powdered)
Water - one cup
Cardamom - 2 (seeds powdered)
To test jaggery syrup readiness - Keep a small plate with cold water ready by stove side.

In a big, sturdy, thick-bottomed vessel, add water and jaggery. Cook on medium-high heat. Jaggery melts and begins to concentrate. When it starts foaming like shown in the photo above, it reached the consistency we want for this recipe. To test, add few drops of jaggery syrup to the cold water. When pushed with fingers, if the syrup can be rolled to a round and keeps share without melting in spite of tilting the plate to different directions, it is done and the syrup is ready. This whole process takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Constantly stirring, add murmura. Also sprinkle in cardamom powder. Within one or two minutes, murmura starts to soak up the syrup and comes together in to dry mass. Turn off the heat. Remove the pot from the stovetop to countertop.

Wait for about 5 minutes for murmura-jaggery mixture to cool down and then start making laddus. Take a spoonful of mixture into hands and press gently into round shape. Keep a bowl of cold water on the side. Dip your hands in-between laddu making to keep hands unsticky and cool. Or ladle off the whole mixture into a greased pan. Press firmly and evenly. Cut into squares and let it cool. Break along the lines to separate the pieces.

Makes about 12 medium sized laddus or squares.


Hot Murmura-Jaggery Mixture and Making of Laddus


Murmura (borugulu, puffed rice) laddus and squares
Fun Jaggery-Rice Crispy Treats From India for Kay’s JFI

Kitchen Notes:
1 quart = 2 pints = 4 cups = 32 fluid ounces =.95 liter
Murmura and Jaggery are available at local Indian grocery shops.
Prepare this sweet with fresh, crunchy tasting murmura only, for best results.
One more recipe for murmura laddu - from Cooking Medley

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Murmura (Borugulu), Indian Sweets 101 (Thursday November 30, 2006 at 10:05 pm- permalink)
Comments (55)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Pumpkin Halwa with Butternut Squash


Pumpkin Halwa with Butternut Squash and Almonds ~ For JFI:Deepavali Treats

When talented food writer, photographer and blogger Vee of Past, Present and Me announced special edition of Jihva to celebrate Diwali festival, I was really elated and thought it was an appropriate idea. “Jihva for Ingredients” (JFI), is an online food blogging event, created to celebrate the natural ingredients and what they can do for our Jihva.

The ingredients that we use in our cooking may not be constant but love, family and tradition, the natural, real ingredients that we share to celebrate the Deepavali festival are going to be constant and would always be there to sustain us through our life journey. Also if there is one festival that truly unites India, it is Deepavali~the festival of lights. All ages and religions joyously participate - Lighting the divas, sharing sweets, presents or enjoying firework displays. The festival has something for everyone. Even the grinch among us would shine and smile during this time.

Deepavali is also about giving and receiving a second chance in life and I am glad to share with you my second chance with pumpkin.:) To tell you the truth, I am not a big fan of pumpkin, I never was. My dislike of this vegetable started in my childhood, continued through upto now. But after seeing several of my fellow food bloggers’ fabulous creations with this vegetable, I too wanted to join the fun. But would the pumpkin accept me, I was skeptical. So I took the help of almonds, milk kova and of course our true friend that would instantly bring joy to any occasion, ‘the sugar’. With the help of all these ingredients I have prepared pumpkin halwa with butternut squash. Boy, oh boy, what a delight that was. I was astounded by how generous the pumpkin was with its gentle sweetness and its ready mixing with other ingredients. It may look all bulky and intimidating, but the vegetable has a sweet taste of a kind giant.

Many thanks to my fellow food bloggers (dear InjiPennu , where are you?), to my new friend pumpkin for inspring me to take this second chance and also to lovely Vee for hosting this special edition of Jihva. If it’s not for you guys, I would have never tried pumpkin again, I think. And this pumpkin halwa sweet truly is a special Diwali treat for us, and is going to be a tradition from now on in my family.


Butternut Squash ~ Cut in Half and Grated

Recipe:

Butternut Squash, almonds, milk and sugar
Ghee, rose water and cardamom

Prep work:

1. Almonds - Soak half-cup almonds in warm water for about 2 hours. Remove the skins and make a smooth powder in a food processor.

2. Butternut squash (2 pounder) - Peel the skin and cut into half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and finely grate using a mandoline. Comes about 3 cups of tightly packed grated squash.

3. Meanwhile prepare milk-sugar syrup: take 5 cups of whole milk and 2 cups of sugar in a big, thick-bottomed vessel. Cook the mixture until is gets thick and is reduced to about one fourths of the original quantity. Takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

4. Take 8 cardamoms, remove the skins and in a mortar pound the seeds into fine powder with a pestle.

Showtime:

1. In a big sturdy, wide bottomed vessel, heat about 2 tablespoons of ghee on medium heat.

2. Add the grated pumpkin to the melted ghee. And with a big slotted spoon, gently mix and cook the pumpkin. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring in between, until the raw smell of pumpkin disappears and color changes from yellow to orange-yellow.

3. Add the almond powder and condensed milk-sugar kova. Add cardamom powder and two teaspoons of rose water. Gently mix and constantly stirring, cook the whole mixture until it comes together into a solid firm mass. Takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Remove the halwa to a pan. Level it even and let cool. Keep it in the freezer for about one hour to firm it up even more. Remove and cut into squares or use a cookie cutter to cut round shape discs.

5. Serve chilled.

I think this halwa can stay fresh upto one week, when refrigerated.


Pumpkin Halwa ~ Our Diwali Treat ~ For 101 Indian Sweets
and My Entry to VKN’s “Festival Foods” Event

Recipe source: My own creation
I have prepared this halwa on less sweet side. My preference. Increase the sugar quantity if you like more sugary sweet taste.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Almonds, Sugar, Milk, Indian Sweets 101, Pumpkin (Thursday October 19, 2006 at 2:08 pm- permalink)
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Banana Halwa (Nenthra Pazham Haluva)

For Independence Day Food Parade, following recipe is contributed by the regular comment poster at “Mahanandi”, always entertaining ‘Kerala Girl (KG)’:

Banana Painting  - From My Home
Oil Painting of Bananas

I have chosen a dish from my hometown - Calicut/Kozhikode (land of Banana chips and Halwas) from Kerala for IDFP. Kerala - the God’s own country is also land of Kera (coconut). To a malayalee, banana or the plantains probably come next to coconut but still it’s importance is written all over the malayalee’s life. Banana is one plant whose every part is useful in one or the other form. In addition to the banana fruit we also eat it’s flowers and the softer inner trunk. The leaves of the banana plant are the less sophisticated version of today’s disposable plates. Traditional Kerala cuisine is incomplete without the pleasant taste of bananas.

Another reason why I have chosen banana as ingredient for this event is I hail from Calicut - the land famous for Calicut Halwa and one of the best halwa’s I have tasted there is banana halwa (a hard jelly like sweet). Calicut is very famous for its sweets and one the famous places in Calicut is Sweet Meat Street (SM Street). It is the busiest street in Calicut and derives its name from the times when the street was lined with sweetmeat stalls. So I thought of celebrating our independence with my favorite sweet - Banana Halwa (Nenthra Pazham Haluva). The recipe source is one of the old recipe books by the great cookbook author Mrs.K.M.Mathew. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

Ripe Bananas - 1 and 1/2 Bananas
Sugar - 2 and 1/2 cups
Water - 1/2 cup
Lemon juice - 1/4 cup
Ghee - 3/4 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Cashews roasted or plain - handful for decoration
All purpose flour - 3 tsp

Method:

Pressure-cook the bananas until soft. Remove the outer skin and deseed (remove the black layer inside). Mash the bananas to a paste in a food processor or blender.

Make syrup of sugar by dissolving in 1/2 cup of water. It should be of string consistency. When this consistency is reached add the lemon juice and again allow it to reach the same thick consistency. To this add the mashed bananas.

To thicken the halwa, at this stage add flour dissolved in 1/4 cup water. Keep on stirring the mix to attain a thick mass. Add ghee little by little. When this becomes a thick mass add the cardamom powder. Mix well and pour into a pan greased with ghee. Decorate with cashews.
When cool cut and enjoy. This can be stored in refrigerator for a week minimum.

A Toast to our independence with this sweet dish!

Banana Halwa
Banana Halwa for IDFP

~ Guest Post by Kerala Girl (KG)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Zen (Personal), Fruits, Cashews, Bananas, Sugar (Monday August 14, 2006 at 2:21 pm- permalink)
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Jaggery~Tamarind~Cumin Candy

A food parade without candy, no way!

Here is my contribution to Independence Day Food Parade - a candy from my childhood. The main ingredients are jaggery, tamarind and cumin and the candy tastes sweet, tangy and fragrant. It’s one of those super good, can’t get enough types of candies and often prepared in our homes by loving parents.

This humble village candy is now flying high. You would see this candy often served on domestic flights in India as part of welcome kit at the beginning of the flight. The Hajmola candy they serve in flights is just like this candy and tastes similarly. Main purpose of course is to prevent nausea and jet sickness associated with air travel. Those three natural ingredients have some good ayurvedic properties that are healthy to us, that’s what my grandma says.

The recipe is simple. Jaggery, tamarind pieces, cumin and a pinch of salt - all pounded together in a mortar to smooth paste and then made into small balls. A stick is inserted for a lollipop style candy or wrapped in paper for a stylish presentation. Either way these sweet tangy candies are irresistible and lip smacking good.


Ingredients for the Candy ~ Jaggery, Tamarind and Cumin


Making the Candy ~ Pounding the ingredients together in a stone mortar with a pestle


Sweet, Tangy and Fragrant Candy from India
For the Independence Day Food Parade & For Indian Sweets 101

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday August 14, 2006 at 10:49 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sunnundalu(Urad Dal Laddu)~Indian Sweets 101

Sunniundalu

When Sailaja of Sailu’s Food selected dals to feature this month’s Jihva For Ingredients, I was ecstatic. The one and only ingredient that truly represents India is the variety of dals, in my opinion. There are rice states and there are wheat states, but common to all 28 states in India are dals. Each state has dazzling array of dal dishes both sweet and savory. Menus always include dal dishes for everyday, for celebrations and as well as for festivals. Even in a foreign land, our meals always would include dals in one way or other. It’s not stretching the truth, when I say dal dishes are the true heart and soul food of India.

By the way, if you haven’t been to Sailaja’s blog already, please go visit now. She blogs from calm, coastal city of Vishakapatnam by the Bay of Bengal, from my home state Andhra Pradesh. Her recipes are visual delight and pure gold. Whenever I visit her blog, I feel happy to see her creations and also feel nostalgic about what I am missing being away from home.

As an entry to JFI~Dals, I have prepared Sunniundalu, a traditional Andhra sweet. Roasted urad dal is ground with sugar into super fine sand like powder, mixed with pure ghee, and the mixture is shaped into round balls. This sweet is much beloved because of its unique taste and nutritional value. These are often prepared for special occasions like baby showers (srimantham) etc., I am so happy that I am able to recreate this favorite sweet of mine for JFI, an event created to celebrate the natural ingredients.

Recipe:
(for 15 medium-sized laddus)

3 cups of whole urad dal - roasted to golden color slowly and on low heat, continuously stirring in a big iron skillet
1½ cups of sugar
1 cup of melted ghee at room temperature
For grinding - esirayyi (grain mill) or Food processor
How this sweet tastes, 50 percent, depends on grinding method. Old world stone grain-grinder is the traditional method of choice. High powered, sharp bladed, food processor comes close. Whatever machine/method you use, the end product must be like fine sand.

Whole urad dal - Roasted to light gold color
Whole urad dal - Roasted to light gold color

Grinding urad dal and sugar to superfine sand like powder using a grain mill
Grinding urad dal and sugar to superfine sand like powder using a grain mill

Adding melted ghee to the urad dal-sugar powder
Adding melted ghee to the urad dal-sugar powder

Urad dal-sugar powder and ghee mixture being made into laddus
Urad dal-sugar powder and ghee mixture being made into laddus.

Sunnundalu
Indian Sweets 101 ~ Sunnundalu for JFI-Dals

Many thanks to Sailaja for hosting this month’s Jihva For Ingredients. I am sure the roundup of this event is going to be spectacular. The entries that I have seen so far - Munthirikkotthu (Sweet Moong Dal Balls), Dal Podi Sushi Roll (Indianized Sushi roll), Mid-Eastern Mujadarah (rice-lentil dish) and Azuki paste ravioli in caramel sauce make this obvious. Have a fun and happy dal day on this July 4th weekend, everyone!

Notes:
Grain mill brand Name: PORKERT’s Kitchen Grinding Mill, Type 150
Purchased at a clearance sale from Tuesday Morning.
Sailu’s Sunnundalu - Link

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sugar, Ghee, Urad Dal (Washed), Indian Sweets 101, Jihva For Ingredients (Saturday July 1, 2006 at 12:02 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Ranga Alur Puli)

Kova Gulab Jamuns with Sweet Potato

The recipe that was in my mind to be tried is Sury’s sweet potato dessert or Ranga Alur Puli. The fabulous food blogger, Sury from Delhi, not only writes about food but also studies American English. She recently published her first book “Making Out in America” on American vernacular. Congratulations Sury!

Few weeks ago, she blogged this recipe in her blog. The name of this sweet, the way it was prepared and the traditional Bengali aspect, all captured my interest. When I read her recipe, I did imagine the taste and I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Finally today I prepared this delicious sweet.

I did change the recipe little bit. Instead of adding flour and sugar to sweet potato pulp, I mixed it with gulab jamun powder. Also in addition to traditional coconut-milk-sugar fudge filling, I added some chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, just to create variety. I’ve been preparing gulab jamuns in this way, so I applied the same idea here.

Steam-Cooked Sweet Potato
Steam-cooked sweet potato (yam)

Recipe:
(for 15 pieces)
For Dough
1 medium sized sweet potato (yam)
1 packet of gulab jamun powder (100g)
For Filling
½ cup of coconut fudge (coconut-milk-sugar halwa)
¼ cup of chocolate chips - plain and butterscotch
To Deep Fry
2 cups of peanut oil or ghee
For Sugar Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of rose water
¼ teaspoon of powdered cardamom

Sweet potato-gulab jamun dough, coconut fudge, chocolate and butterscotch chips
Chocolate Chips, Coconut Fudge, Sweet Potato-Gulab Jamun Dough & Dough balls

Preparation:
1. Cook the whole sweet potato on steam until just tender. Remove the skin and mash the sweet potato to smooth paste.

2. Take gulab jamun powder in a vessel. Mix it with sweet potato paste. The moisture of sweet potato is enough to prepare a firm dough. After a rest period of 15 minutes or so, divide the dough into big marble sized rounds.

3. Make a dimple by pressing the dough ball with your thumb. Fill the dimple with a teaspoon of coconut halwa(fudge) or with chocolate chips. Cover the hole with dough from the sides; roll into smooth round ball. Prepare all the dough balls like this and keep them ready for deep-frying.

4. Meanwhile prepare sugar syrup. Take sugar and water in a big pot. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for few minutes (5 to 10 minutes maximum on medium heat). Have a taste and add more sugar if needed. This is just plain sugar syrup, do not thicken the syrup and do not cook it for longer period. Just before turning off the heat, stir in rose water and cardamom powder.

Deep-Frying the Jamuns
Deep Frying the Jamuns

5. Heat oil in a kadai or in a saucepan. Deep-fry the jamuns until golden on medium-low heat. One tip is, keep the heat medium and do not overheat the oil. Deep-fry the jamuns, slowly. The color changes from light gold to much deeper color gradually within 3 to 4 minutes. If the colour changes to brown immediately after dropping into oil, it is a signal that the oil is too hot. In that case, reduce the heat or turn off the heat for few minutes. You need to cook these slowly on moderate heat because the dough should get cooked evenly inside also.

6. Remove the jamuns and place them on a paper towel to dry off any oil that’s attached to them. Quickly and gently drop them into sugar syrup. Take care not to spill the oil into sugar syrup.

7. Keep them soaked in syrup for about 15 to 30 minutes. Jamuns will absorb the syrup and will increase in size a little bit. I would like to serve gulab jamuns cold, so usually, I keep them in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.

Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Ranga Alur Puli) with coconut halwa filling
Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Ranga Alur Puli) ~ For this week’s “Indian Sweets 101

They tasted great, just like I’ve imagined, particularly the coconut halwa filled ones (shown above) and the ones filled with butterscotch chips.

This is my contribution to “Blog Party - Bite Sized Desserts” hosted by dear Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Sugar, Chocolate, Indian Sweets 101, Sweet Potato (Wednesday April 19, 2006 at 10:06 pm- permalink)
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12.Mango Halwa (Mango Flavored Ravva Kesari)

“Heavenly” - that’s how I remember Indian mangoes. “Damn…” That�s what comes out of my mouth, whenever I buy mangoes here. Mangoes available here look big and bulky and if you cut them open, there won’t be rich yellow color, there won’t be any heavenly aroma, and the less said the better about the taste. The product of poor soil and excessive fertilizer use. Well, that’s what we get here. At first, the taste was a shock, then over the time we began to ‘appreciate’ the poor taste of mangoes, of course we don’t have a choice.

Whenever I crave Indian mangoes, out comes the treasured family recipe, mango halwa. Preparing like halwa intensifies the mango flavor. In this recipe, mango puree is cooked with toasted semolina in sugar syrup. The result - rich yellow color is back, heavenly taste and aroma of mangoes that we remember from India is there. Also milk free and relatively low calorie. A little bit different than how the regular halwa is prepared, this favorite of mine is more like - mango flavored ravva kesari.

Mango Halwa
A delight to the senses - mango halwa

Recipe:

3 ripe mangoes or 6 cups of cut mango (3 Costco/Samsclub kind of mangoes)
½ cup fine semolina (Suji ravva works fine too)
¼ to ½ cup sugar (add less or more according to the mango sweetness)
1 tablespoon of melted ghee
3 cardamom pods - seeds finely powdered
1 cup of water

Ripe Mango, Cardamom, Semolina and Sugar - Ingredients for Mango Halwa

1. Peel the mangoes, cut them into cubes. Keep a quarter-cup of finely cubed mango aside. Take the remaining mango in a mixer, blend into fine, smooth puree, without adding water.

2. Heat a half tablespoon of ghee in a skillet, add and lightly toast semolina, just until it leaves raw smell. Remove and keep it aside.

3. In a thick bottomed, wide pan, take water and sugar. Heat them slowly until the sugar melts. Then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Wait for sugar syrup to thicken a bit and stir in blended mango puree and toasted semolina. Cook the mixture, on medium heat, stirring in-between to prevent sticking, until the mixture reduces by one third. It takes at least 20 minutes. At this stage, sprinkle the cardamom powder and finely cubed mango pieces that were kept aside. Stir, stir…for 2 to 3 minutes and then turn off the heat.

4. Coat a pan or tray with melted ghee and spoon the cooked halwa into the pan. Allow it to cool (halwa thickens further as it cools) and cut into squares. Remove and serve.

Mango halwa tastes great warm or cold. This time, I spooned it into muffin cups for individual sized servings and kept the muffin pan in the refrigerator for about one hour.

Mango Halwa - in Muffin size
Celebrating spring with mango halwa ~ For this week’s Indian Sweets 101.

Makes about 6 regular sized muffin cup portions.
Recipe Source: family
Kitchen Notes: Prepare it with fresh ripe mangoes. Fresh mango puree tastes better and the fiber etc., when cooked contributes to faster thickening of halwa. For this reason avoid store bought watery and preservatives added mango concentrate to prepare this sweet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Mango, Suji/Semolina, Indian Sweets 101 (Thursday March 23, 2006 at 2:20 pm- permalink)
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Coconut Burfi (Kobbari Paakam, Kobbari Lauju)

Coconut Burfi

Sweet, flavorful and chewy, coconut burfi is one of my favorite sweets. Fresh coconut meat cooked in cardamom flavored sugar syrup - recipe is so simple, method is very easy and the taste is heavenly. We, in our family prepare it without adding milk in contrast to some other versions, where milk and ghee are also added along with fresh coconut to sugar syrup.

Last weekend, weather was so perfect and spring like. We felt like having some sweet. So we went to neighborhood Rulli Brothers grocery shop and purchased two coconuts, each for about 79 cents. Came home, prepared the sweet and enjoyed it. We still have some pieces of burfi left but the spring like weather - gayab ho gaya (disappeared). It’s snowing here today!

Grating the Coconut

Recipe:
(For 12 medium sized squares)

2 cups of fresh grated coconut
1½ cups of sugar (or 2 cups - your choice)
Half glass of water
2 cardamom pods, seeds finely powdered
A tray greased with ghee (for pouring the cooked mixture)

Freshly grated coconut, Indian sugar, Cardamom pods

Method:
In a big sturdy vessel take water and sugar. Keep the heat on medium-low allowing the sugar to melt completely to prepare the sugar syrup. Cook it until the sugar syrup reaches softball like consistency. To know the right consistency - do the cold water candy test. Take few tablespoons of water in a cup, add a drop of sugar syrup to water. If it holds its shape (softball) doesn’t dissolve into water then it’s at the right consistency.

Fresh Grated Coconut Plain sugar syrup
Fresh Grated Coconut ………………Sugar Syrup on the way to softball stage

Grated fresh coconut is added to sugar syrup Coconut Burfi cooling
Fresh coconut is added to the thickened sugar syrup…… Coconut burfi - pressed into a squarepan to cool

Add the grated coconut and cardamom powder to the sugar syrup. Keep the heat on medium and cook, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. In 10 to 15 minutes, the mixture will be reduced to half, becomes very thick and comes away easily from the sides of pan - this is the signal to turnoff the heat. (At this stage, you’ve to be fast and alert, otherwise, the mixture will be overcooked and turns into dry sweetened coconut flakes - commercial kind of mixture.) Immediately pour this mixture into the greased tray. Level it evenly with a spatula, and cut into squares. Let cool.

To serve or store, reverse the tray onto a big plate, separate the squares and store them in an airtight container. Because it doesn’t have any milk products, this sweet can stay fresh up to two weeks.

Kitchen notes:
Authentic South Indian coconut burfi is prepared only with fresh grated coconut. Grating the coconut takes little bit effort but I think of it as an exercise, mainly upperarm workout.
Checkout this site for clear photo and video demonstration of sugarsyrup stages.

Tray of Coconut Burfi
Indian Sweets 101 - Celebrating Holi with Coconut Burfi

Recipe Source:Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sugar, Coconut (Fresh), Indian Sweets 101 (Tuesday March 14, 2006 at 11:07 pm- permalink)
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Indian Sweets 101 ~ (a series by Indira)

As much as we, Indians are famous for our spicy food, we also love and prepare lots of sweets for every occasion. You wouldn’t notice this if your Indian culinary knowledge were gained from reading Indian cookbooks or eating out at Indian restaurants. Even the seasoned chefs, cookbook authors of Indian descent also shy away from detailing the Indian sweets recipes.

For preparing Indian sweets, though some are very easy, you really need to know the technique and must have experience. The levels can be novice, good and expert…. I can say I’m ‘good’ - both in the number of sweets I know to prepare and the method I follow. This series is my E-notebook of 101 Indian sweets, in a nutshell a 101 on Indian sweets; My attempt to chronicle (explain and learn) the Indian sweets, following the traditional way, both in preparation and in ingredients.

Link to the page and recipes of Indian Sweets that I blogged sofar: Here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets) (Tuesday March 14, 2006 at 10:47 pm- permalink)
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