Mahanandi

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

Fresh Sugar Cane

Fresh Sugar Cane

Fresh Sugar Cane and Sweet, Juicy Cubed Treats of Sugar Cane
~ for this week’s Indian Kitchen

Fresh Sugar Cane

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Molasses, Sugar (Sunday January 21, 2007 at 2:41 pm- permalink)
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Chestnut-Almond Cookies

For Indian recipes, I can’t and won’t break the tradition and I will always follow the elder’s footsteps in preparing food. I believe the ingredients they use for a particular recipe have been chosen for a reason, and the steps they followed to make a recipe work are methodic, implicitly giving a perfect taste and nutritional boost.

But when it comes to western food, since I ‘m not used to making these traditionally, I feel very free to experiment. Also I believe most of ‘traditional’ recipes that I see in magazines and TV shows are the stuff that they makeup as they go, to promote some food ingredients or products following the corporate orders. When food ingredients have their own associations and mega budgets to promote and influence peoples opinion in their favor with advertisement blitzes, I am not sure how traditional most of these recipes are, though they proclaim otherwise.

Chestnut cookies first posted by Mine of Teatime then submitted to cookie swap event by Ulrike of Kuchenlatein, captivated me mainly because they sounded real authentic, traditional and old world. When I saw the beautiful photographs, I so wanted to try these cookies. I changed few things here and there, going all the way to make them rustic pure. Use of molasses in place of powdered sugar, turned the cookies golden brown instead of creamy white. I tried decorating cookies differently, but it didn’t come out as I expected. Except for that one gaffe, the cookies turned out to be mouthfuls of wholesome goodness. Thanks Mine and Ulrike for sharing this wonderful, traditional recipe.

Molasses, All purpose flour, Almonds, Roasted Chestnuts, Clove, Cardamom, Cinnamon

Recipe:

2 cups of almonds, soaked in water overnight, then skins removed
15 chestnuts, roasted, then shells removed
1 cup of all purpose flour
11/2 cups of molasses
(Molasses is an acquired taste, difficult to like. Sugar/honey works fine too)
2 egg whites
1 inch cinnamon, 1 clove, and seeds from 1 cardamom pod - finely powdered together

Powdering Almonds and Chestnuts in a Food Processor Almond-Chestnut cookies all ready to go into oven
Powdering Almonds and Chestnuts in a Food Processor…Almond-Chestnut cookie dough, ready to be baked

Preparation:

Powder the almonds and roasted chestnuts in a food processor to a smooth powder. Make it easy on the motor and do it in batches. In a vessel, take egg whites and beat them until they turn to foamy white. To these egg whites, add molasses and cardamom-cinnamon-clove powder. Mix and stir in all purpose flour and almond-chestnut powder. Mix them thoroughly. Shape the dough into a log, wrap it in a wax paper and store it in the freezer, until the cookie dough firms up. I had to keep it overnight in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Remove the hardened cookie dough from the freezer, cut it into 1 to 2 inch rounds crosswise. Place them neatly in rows on a greased or parchment paper lined baking tray. I egg washed the tops and sprinkled some brown sugar on top of each cookie, my idea of decoration, not so successful, I have to say.:) Place the baking tray in preheated oven and bake them at 350°F for about 20 minutes.

Believe it or not, they tasted like, do you know the South Indian sweet “Ariselu“, exactly like that. Roasted chestnuts and molasses gave a special and characteristic taste to these cookies, a first for us and we liked them very much.

chestnut cookies
Chestnut-Almond Cookies

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Almonds, Molasses, Chestnuts (Marrons) (Tuesday December 13, 2005 at 7:16 pm- permalink)
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Ma’amoul (Dates & Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Chanit of My Mom’s Recipes and More left a comment on my blog last month. To return the compliments I visited her blog, and what I found was a very detailed recipe for mamoul (dates filled cookies) with photos. I knew I had to try it. What attracted me to this recipe more than anything is the use of semolina for dough. I did some googling on these famous Middle Eastern cookies to know more about them and how they are made. Next, I went and bought the ingredients: fine Tunisian pitted dates, pistachios and wooden ma’amoul mold from the only ethnic grocery store in our small town, Ghossians Mid East Bakery.

I did experiment with the recipe. First, I used ghee instead of butter because ghee is not only more flavorful and unlike butter has no unnecessary baggage. I reduced the ratio of all-purpose flour to semolina. I also complimented the dates filling by adding pistachios. Finally I skipped the eggs. One more thing is I prepped the mamoul mold with ghee so that when cookie dough pressed into the mold and reversed, it can come out easily without sticking to the mold.

The final result of my experimentation was exquisite, one of a kind sweet cookies, the one I am going to make many more times from now on. A delicious paradox, they have a mildly sweet, crisp and grainy outside because of semolina and insides are moistly sweet and tender. Thanks Chanit! It is little bit of time consuming to make these using the ma’amoul mold but I had time and so happy with the beautiful outcome.

Ma'amoul mould, Pistachios, Dates, Rose water, Semolina, All Pupose Flour (Maida)

Recipe:

Dough:
2 cups - semolina
½ cup - all purpose flour (maida)
½ cup - melted ghee
½ cup - powdered sugar ( or more if you like sweet cookie covering)
1 tablespoon - rose water
1 teaspoon - active dried yeast melted in 1 tablespoon of luke warm water
Pinch of salt

Melt the ghee and cool it to room temperature. Sift the all purpose flour(maida) and mix it with semolina and ghee. Add the yeast water, rose water, powdered sugar and salt. Mix and make a dough by adding little bit of water. Set aside for about 3 hours, covered, to rest.

Cookie Dough after 3 hours of rest and Dates-Pistachios Filling Making of Ma'amouls - Pressing the cookies dough into ma'amoul mold

Dates- Pistachios Filling:
2 cups - fresh soft-pitted dates
½ cup shelled pistachios
¼ cup - powdered cane sugar
1 teaspoon - rose water
and Ma’amoul mould to press and shape the cookies

In a food processor, take pistachios and powder to fine. Then add the dates, sugar and rose water. Blend them together into fine paste. Remove to a cup.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Nut filled Cookies) Ready for Oven Ma'amouls After 20 minutes in the Oven

Preparation:

After 3 hours of rest, knead and divide the dough into lime sized balls. Flatten each ball using your hand and lift the sides up to form a hollow. It is now ready for the filling. Place one tablespoon of dates-pistachios filling into the hollowed dough. Close the dough over the dates mixture. Press the edges to seal well. Press it into the ma’amoul mold to give it a decorated appearance. Reverse the mold; gently shake to loosen it from the mold. Prepare each one in this way and place them neatly in rows, on a greased/parchment paper lined baking tray.

Place the tray in a preheated oven at 350° F and bake for about 20 minutes. I reversed the cookies to the opposite side after 10 minutes in the oven for even baking. After 20 minutes or when they turn lightly golden, remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Ma’amoul (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies) ~ Delicate, rose flavored and naturally sweet. Our Thanksgiving treat and contribution to this month’s SHF-IMBB Cookie-Swap event.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Pistachios, Dates (kharjuram), Sugar, Jaggery and Honey, Molasses, Suji/Semolina, Ghee (Friday November 25, 2005 at 8:46 pm- permalink)
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Pala Kova (Doodh Peda)

For Deepavali, I preprared ‘Pala Kova’ (Doodh Peda), one of the classic sweets from home.

Pala Kova , Paal Kova, Doodh Peda)

Recipe:

1 gallon of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of sugar
Cooking time : 3 hours

This is one of those recipes, which allows multitasking, at least for the first two hours. Also make it only when you have some good natured, dear friends or family nearby, so that they can give you moral support:) or help out, when you get frustrated with stirring and the slow way it takes for milk to thicken. Chit chat or clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes, cook up other recipes or fold the laundry and in between for every 2 to 3 minutes, stir the milk. This way you won’t notice the time.

Milk after half an hour of boiling Milk after two hours of simmering

Preparation:

In a big sturdy pan, bring the milk to a boil. Keep the heat on medium high and boil/simmer the milk for about 2 hours, stirring in between. By the end of two hours, the milk reduces in volume, becomes quite thick and turns from white to color of gandham(sandal wood) paste.

Milk and sugar simmering Pala Kova (Doodh Peda) - The final product of milk and sugar after 3 hours on the stove

Add sugar to the thickened milk. Continuously stirring on medium heat, cook for about 30 to 45 minutes. By the end of this time, the milk-sugar paste further thickens and when you think, you can almost make a ball with it, then only switch off the heat.

Ladle off the paste onto a clean plate or round dish. Let it cool completely. Cut it into squares or shape into rounds. If you want, decorate the sweets with toasted pistachios or almonds.
I used an ice cream scooper to make round balls of pala kova.

 Malai Ladoo,Pala Kova, Doodh Peda, Paal Kovah
Pala Kova (Doodh Peda) for Deepavali

Recipe Source: dear Vijay

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sugar, Jaggery and Honey, Molasses, Milk & Products, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday October 31, 2005 at 9:12 pm- permalink)
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Mysore Pak

I don’t know why but we both are losing weight, significant amounts, since coming back from India. We are not doing anything out of ordinary and on our recent yearly medical checkup, the family doctor billed our medical reports as excellent, so no problems there. This sudden weight loss is baffling us. The only reason for this I can think of is homesickness. Leaving the dear and near ones back home, I thought it would get easy with age and time, but not so in our case, it seems. The life we created here seems so dull, empty and purposeless. Is this what happens in 30’s, if so, I would love to go back to the carefree 20’s. Little bit early for a midlife crisis, I know.

To counter the weight loss and also to satiate my cravings for an Indian sweet, we made Mysore Pak last Sunday. A deliciously rich, decadent sweet, made of chickpea flour and pure ghee. South India’s favorite. The sweet is as colorful and mouthful as its name sounds. All of our sweets names are like that, unique and colorful… Badusha, Chandra Kala, Mohan Bhag etc.,

There are no shortcuts for this sweet; you need quality ingredients and no cutbacks on the amount of ghee. Otherwise you end up with not so tasty, yellow brick kind of mixture. So use freshest possible ingredients, mainly besan flour for this recipe. And also you need an extra pair of hands. So keep family or friends on the side.

Recipe:
1 cup Besan flour, sift to aerate & to remove any lumps
1 cup ghee, melted & at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup sugar - your wish
2 cardamom pods, seeds powdered

Besan Flour, Ghee, Sugar and Cardamom Pods

In a big sturdy pot, take one cup of water, add sugar and bring them to boil till the sugar syrup reaches one string consistency. Reduce the heat.
Now pour the ghee and besan flour in a steady stream into the sugar syrup while stirring. You need an extra hand here. Continuously and thoroughly stirring, cook until the ghee starts to leave the sides of the pan and the mixture starts to thicken and turns to become porous and light gold in color. Stir in the cardamom powder.

Sugar Syrup On the Stove Pouring Besan Flour in Sugar&Ghee Syrup

Immediately pour onto a greased tray & evenly level it out with a spatula. When it is still hot, cut into diamond shapes. Makes about 10 to 12 pieces.

Mysore Pak Right Out Of the Stove, On to the Plate, Cut into Diamonds

Mysore Pak - Traditional Indian Sweet
Mysore Pak - Simple, sinfully rich tasting, sweet golden diamond

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Gram Flour (Besan), Molasses, Ghee, Indian Sweets 101 (Wednesday September 21, 2005 at 3:59 pm- permalink)
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Mini Custard Tarts

Lovely Elise of Simply Recipes selected custards for this month’s “Sugar High Fridays” theme. I know that I am not a big fan of custards. Still I wanted to give it a try. Why not? How I felt about certain foods changed with time and may be with the recipe I selected, I might like it. You never know until you try. So, I baked mini custard tarts.

The recipe is simple with only 5 ingredients. All Purpose Flour, butter, powered sugar, eggs and milk. Tart shell is made with the first three ingredients and the custard filling is made with the last three ingredients. All basic, nothing fancy sounds easy, right, so I gave it a try!

Recipe: Tart Shell, One Empty & the Other Filled with Custard

1 cup of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of water

To make the dough, sift the all purpose flour into a bowl. Add the powdered sugar, butter and water. Mix and knead to form a smooth, firm dough. Cover and leave to chill in the refrigerator. Meanwhile prepare the custard filling.

Custard:

2 eggs
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
3/4 cup of milk

To make the custard, beat the eggs and sugar together. Gradually add milk and beat until well combined.

Take out the dough from the fridge; divide it into even sized pieces (makes about 6). Flatten the dough pieces into rounds and press into shallow tiny pans. Spoon the custard into the tart shells and cook in a preheated oven at 325° F, for about 30 minutes or until set. Remove the dishes, set aside to cool. To serve, run a knife around the edge of each dish and turn out onto a serving plate. Serve hot or chilled with or without cream.

Custard Tart

The outcome looked, smelled and tasted good. But I am not going to go ga-ga over custard anytime soon. I should have baked a cheesecake instead. I read somewhere that cheesecake is also a sort of custard. Yum… that’d be the one I like more!

Take a look at custard and its many avatars at Elise’s Blog .

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Molasses, Milk & Products, Eggs (Friday September 16, 2005 at 9:21 am- permalink)
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Cherry Clafouti

What can one do with cherries, when they are purchased at $1.19 per pound. Of course, bake them with all purpose flour, the only recipe I know using cherries. Giant Eagle, the chain grocery shop, near my home is selling bing cherries for 1.19 a pound this week. No, they are not damaged. They are perfect, plump, sweet and irresistible as always and as good as the cherries I bought at farmers market last week for 3 dollars a pound.

After downing about 3 pounds, we decided to make some sort of dessert with the remaining cherries. So I baked Cherry Clafouti or more like Cherry Custard or two-inch pancake filled with cherries. This is such an easy dessert that is very simple and quick to put together.

Recipe:

Half-pound cherries- cut in half and pits removed
Half-cup pancake mix (or all purpose flour)
One-cup whole milk and one egg
2-4 tablespoons of sugar
For flavoring I added dried and powdered ginger (sonti)

Removing the pits from Cherries Cherries flaoting in flour-milk batter

Preparation:

I’ve added the pancake mix, milk, egg, sugar andsonti in a mixing bowl and whisked them by hand until all the ingredients are well combined and the batter was smooth.

This was only for us two so I used a small 6-inch oven proof-serving dish for baking. After greasing the dish, I filled it with batter and arranged the cherries, more like jam-packed. Baked this in the preheated oven at 350° F for about 40 minutes, until risen and golden. The top will be browned like a pancake and the insides will be gooey with cherry sweetness.

Cherry Clafouti

I didn’t add lot of sugar. The sweetness is all from cherries (I did the quality control by tasting half of each cherry:)). With mild sweetness and a texture falling between a custard and a pancake, cherry clafouti was such a delight. We loved this simple dessert.

Taking a bite of Cherry Clafouti
Cherry Clafouti

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Cherries, Molasses, Milk & Products, Eggs, Milk (Thursday June 30, 2005 at 3:45 pm- permalink)
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