Z for Zhinga (prawns) toast

Ok, so Zhinga toast is most certainly not a Pathare Prabhu recipe. This is my mum’s take on the ever popular restaurant favourite.

A lighter and fresher version, with an Indian twist. The bread is toasted  instead of the usual deep fried version. I’ve chosen to halve the prawns instead of using minced prawns and it’s flavoured with lots of chillies and coriander.

So the next time a prawn toast craving strikes, you have a recipe on hand to help you make it at home, Indian style.

Zhinga (prawns) toast

Zhinga (prawns) toast

Ingredients:

180-200 grams prawns

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

2-3 green chillies, finely chopped

salt to taste

1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped  (or 3/4 cup chopped onions)

3 tablespoons chopped coriander

8-10 slices of bread

1 egg

1/4 cup olive oil

Method:

  1. Marinade the prawns in the garlic, salt and black pepper for a few hours or even overnight.
  2. Beat the egg with a pinch of salt and keep aside.
  3. In a pan, heat the oil, add the green chillies and the chopped scallions. Quick fry them on a high heat.
  4. Add the prawns and cook till they are pink and almost cooked. Add the coriander. Then transfer the prawns mixture into a bowl to cool slightly.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil back to the pan and heat it.
  6. Meanwhile, toast the slices of bread on one side.
  7. Lay the prawns mixture on the toast.
  8. Pour a tablespoon of the beaten egg on each toast.
  9. Place the toast face down in the heated pan. Press it down with a spatula for a couple of minutes.
  10. Repeat for the other toasts until you’ve used up the prawn mixture.
  11. Cut the toasts into pieces (optional).
  12. Serve hot.
A close up of the Zhinga toast

A close up of the Zhinga toast

Notes:

  1. I’ve used pain de mie and served it whole as I quite like the crusty edges.
  2. By halving the prawns, I’ve used about 2 prawns per toast.
  3. This recipe makes about 8-10 toasts.

 

 

Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Y for Yam (Suran) Vadis

Suran (yam) vadis are one more addition to the repertoire of fasting foods.  Free from grains and everything else that’s to be avoided on days of abstinence. But the one thing they definitely do not lack is flavour. As you bite into them the crisp coating on the outside gives way to a lovely mixture of suran, coconut and peanuts flavoured with cumin and green chillies. You can, of course, up the ante on the chillies but I’ve made these with our 4 year old in mind.

I’ve previously written about fasting foods in Fasting and Feasting in True Maharashtrian style so without further labouring the point, let’s get straight to the recipe.

This is a simple dish with some basic ingredients. This version makes about 6-8 patties (or pattice as they are called in India).

Yam (suran) vadis

Yam (suran) vadis

Ingredients:

300 grams yam, chopped and steamed

2/3 cup grated coconut

1/2 cup roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

salt to taste

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Grind the peanuts and the cumin seeds to a fine powder. Keep aside.
  2. Mash the yam. Add in the coconut, chillies, salt, ground peanuts and cumin powder. Mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture into an equal number of balls and flatten them into patties.
  4. Heat some oil in a wide pan and cook the patties until they are golden brown on both sides.
  5. Serve hot with some cooling buttermilk.

This also works well with most tubers and root vegetables like sweet potatoes (rataali).

 

 

Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An eXtra special cuppa – Masala milk

In my mind, masalyache doodh or masala milk is permanently associated with the Ganpati festival. This used to be part of the ‘naivedya’* on the tenth and last day of the festival. Everything was extra special on that day. Emotions were heightened, and were a heady mix of relief that the ten days of festivity had been successful, sadness at the impending visarjan* of the idol and the exhaustion that accompanied hectic days of receiving visitors, cooking for everybody and generally being on your best behaviour.

The masala milk was offered to the deity in a large silver goblet, a symbol of thanksgiving and a celebration of faith, community spirit and merriment. After the puja and the visarjan, it was then distributed to everyone present.

It feels apt to include this here today, as the A-Z 2016 Challenge draws to a close soon. It’s been an especially challenging one this year for more reasons than one but an immensely satisfying one, as usual. Another April well spent!

Cheers to the spirit of the A-Z and to the fantastic Blog-A-Rhythm community!

Masalyache doodh (Masala milk)

Masalyache doodh (Masala milk)

Ingredients:

1 pint whole milk

4 tablespoons sugar (more, if you prefer)

a few strands of saffron

2-3 tablespoons almonds and pistachios, shelled, blanched and chopped very fine

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder

 

Method:

  1. In a thick bottomed pan, heat the milk, slowly on medium high heat. Stir so that it does not burn.
  2. When it starts boiling, add the sugar. Stir continuously on a medium high heat for about 25 minutes until it is reduced to half.
  3. When it starts to thicken, turn the heat down a bit and keep stirring for another 5 minutes.
  4. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add the nuts. Stir well for a couple of minutes and then take it off the heat.
  5. Add in the spices and the saffron.
  6. Serve warm or cold.

I prefer it warm because you can taste the individual flavours of the spices and the saffron that the heat helps release,.

Notes:

  1. Naivedya – the first meal or morsel is offered to the deity that is worshipped and only then can the family eat any of the food that has been cooked. This first offering of food is called naivedya.
  2. Visarjan – immersion of the deity/idol in water after the festival. This is a common practice in India and a way to bid the deity goodbye until the following year.
Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts, Festive food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

W for Walnut chikki (Walnut brittle)

Traditionally, chikkis or brittles are made to celebrate Sankranti, the harvest festival. The usual way is to make them with jaggery and include peanuts or sesame seeds – warming ingredients for early January when it’s not quite spring. My grandmother (Aji) and my mum also make a fabulous version with puffed rice.

This one is unique as it uses sugar as the base and is studded with walnuts – both quite uncommon in a chikki. The addition of ghee or butter gives it a lovely caramel flavour that goes really well with the nuts. The best part – you don’t have to wait till Sankranti to make it.

The recipe calls for the walnuts to be crushed so that they can be easily coated. I’ve left them whole because I wanted something akin to candied walnuts. This has meant that you get a texture that’s crackly but not a jaw breaker as most chikkis tend to be. If you have been to the dentist as many times as I have, you would want to be careful. 🙂

If you don’t enjoy chikkis or brittles, these make a lovely topping over icecreams and custards. Simply crush them with a rolling pin and sprinkle over your dessert.

Walnut Chikki

Walnut Chikki

Ingredients:

100 grams walnuts

100 grams sugar

1/2 + 1/4 tablespoon ghee

Method:

  1. Use the 1/4 tablespoon ghee to grease a plate. Keep aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan, add the sugar and the 1/2 tablespoon ghee.
  3. On medium high heat, keep stirring the sugar.
  4. Once it starts to melt and caramelise, reduce the heat but keep stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom or burn.
  5. Once it has all melted, add the walnuts and stir quickly to ensure that they are coated with the caramelised sugar.
  6. Pour this mixture onto the greased plate and smoothen with your spoon, the best you can.
  7. Cool. Break into pieces and pop one in your mouth.
  8. Store the rest away or you’ll be there munching on them till they are gone in minutes.
Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

V for Vaangyache Kaap (Fried aubergines)

Vaangyache kaap are thinly sliced aubergines, spiced and shallow fried. These are different from the bhaje/bhajias/bhaja as they are variously known in India. The bhajias are dipped in a chickpea (besan) batter before they are fried but the kaap are simply dredged in dry rice flour.

I love these as appetisers as you can taste all the flavours and textures which are often lost when they are served with a meal. You can taste the crunch of the coating, the spices the aubergines have been marinaded in and the mushy texture of the vegetable, itself.

Although you can serve it with some dipping sauces, they will be quite superfluous as the aubergine is really the star attraction here.

Give them a go and I’d love to hear what you think.

Vaangyache kaap

Vaangyache kaap

Ingredients:

1 medium aubergine, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon paprika or chilli powder

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala*

salt to taste

1/3 cup rice flour

oil, for frying

Method:

  1. Wash the aubergine slices and soak them in some salted water for about 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. Add the spices and the salt. Mix well and ensure that each slice is coated with the spices.
  3. Keep aside for an hour or two, or longer, if you can.
  4. In a wide pan, heat the oil.
  5. Dredge each slice of aubergine in the rice flour and place in the pan. The heat should be medium-high.
  6. Flip the slices when they are golden, ensuring that they are evenly cooked on both sides.
  7. Drain in paper towels.
  8. Serve hot.

 

Posted in A-Z 2016, Accompaniments, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

U for Ukadlelya Shenga (Boiled Peanuts)

This is certainly a strange choice of a ‘recipe’ but if you’re looking for a snack that brings the family together and away from their devices, this one is hard to beat. All the cooking it involves is boiling peanuts in their shells, in salted water.

We used to gather around our dining table, on a Sunday afternoon, over a large pot of these ‘shenga’ (pods) and talk about everything under the sun. You knew that everyone was enjoying them when the table went silent and all you could hear was the cracking of the pods, muted munching and see happy, dreamy smiles and the pile of ‘shenga’ rapidly dimishing.

Move over, fancy salted edamame! We have had boiled peanuts long before you appeared on restaurant menus.

Ukadlelya shenga aka Boiled Peanuts

Ukadlelya shenga aka Boiled Peanuts

Ingredients:

300 grams of raw peanuts in their pods

1 large pot of water

1 heaped tablespoon salt

 

Method:

  1. Heat the pot of water.
  2. Add the salt before it starts boiling.
  3. Throw in the peanut pods. Make sure the pods are all submerged in the water.
  4. Cook for about 30-35 minutes or until done. (Test one after 25 minutes. If the peanuts taste cooked, take them off the heat.)
  5. Serve warm. (Don’t forget empty bowls to chuck the pods into.)

Enjoy the peace and quiet at the table and watch this become a favourite family ritual.

Do you have foods that bring your family together?

 

Fun fact:

Did you know that spiced peanuts are called Congress Kadlekai (kadlekai – peanuts, in Kannada) in Karnataka? Apparently, this is to do with the split of the Congress party into two, in the late 70s. Since peanuts also split into two, they were called Congress and this has remained a popular moniker. It used to make me smile to hear the street sellers peddling their wares – ‘congress’ kadlekai . 🙂

Posted in A-Z 2016, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

T for Thaalipeeth (with red pumpkin and peas)

Thaalipeeth is a popular Maharashtrian griddlecake or flatbread – made from a variety of grains, or a combination of a few. Veggies are not a common ingredient, though my mum does add roasted and mashed aubergine, on occasion. This red pumpkin and peas combination is more unusual. I discovered it quite by accident and decided to experiment with it. The original recipe had a list of ingredients with hints and tips, but the rest was left to the chef’s intuition. So I made up the measurements on the fly.

My association with thaalipeeth is with winters, when the wind is blustery and your body needs some warming foods. Even when mother nature is playing truant and raining down unseasonally (and we’ve certainly witnessed our share in the last few weeks) – these make an ideal weekend brunch option.

Thaalipeeth with red pumpkin and peas

Thaalipeeth with red pumpkin and peas

Ingredients:

150 grams whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons rice flour

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted

300 grams red pumpkin, peeled and coarsely grated

1 cup peas

1 tablespoon ghee or oil (for kneading)

3-4 tablespoons ghee, melted (for cooking)

salt to taste

2-3 green chillies, finely chopped

1 heaped teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground

1 tablespoon cumin powder

3-4 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped

Thaalipeeth

Thaalipeeth

Method:

  1. Microwave the grated pumpkin for 2-3 minutes, until it is cooked enough to be mashed with a fork.
  2. Microwave the peas until cooked.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the whole wheat flour, rice flour, sesame seeds, ghee, salt, chillies, coriander, paprika, cumin powder and black pepper. Mix well together with your fingers.
  4. Once the pumpkin and peas have cooled slightly, add these to the mixture. Knead well with your hands. The pumpkin and peas are quite moist and the mixture does not need any additional water for the kneading.
  5. Knead until the dough has come together and is slightly stretchy.
  6. Divide into equal number of balls. This recipe should make 10-12 balls.
  7. Heat a shallow frying pan. Add a teaspoon of ghee and swirl it around. You should have enough to roast these thaalipeeth.
  8. Now apply a little ghee to your fingers and palms. Flatten each ball on your palm and make a hole in the centre. (They should look like flattened doughnuts.)
  9. Place it onto the frying pan. Swirl the ghee around or add a few drops to the centre and sides of the thaalipeeth. Cook till golden and then flip over and cook the other side.
  10. Drain on paper towels.
  11. Serve hot.

They are great on their own but you can also serve them with a cooling yoghurt-cucumber raita.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

S for Shankarpale

These sweet and crunchy crackers are an eternal favourite in India. They are called Shankarpale in Marathi and shakkarpara in Hindi. Shankarpale are essential deep fried, crisp and sweet diamonds (or squares) of dough. They form part of the Diwali sweets repertoire but are not limited to the festive season. They are great for snacking, if a tad weighty on the calorie front. (Most good things usually are.)

These were among our favourite after school snacks and were stored in big airtight stainless steel boxes. Part of the plan, I now think, was to make them harder for us to get to. They certainly are addictive and I remember Aai rationing these out, balanced with some fruits or other healthy snacks. Some early lessons in portion control and eating a balanced diet.

I loved watching these being made – the dough being kneaded, then being rolled out. My favourite bit was the curly cutter that gave the shankarpale their zigzag edges. Much to our 7 year old delight, sometimes, we were even allowed to help cut these into shape. Of course, you can always cut them with a knife and they will taste just as good. I have a slightly modern version of the traditional cutter. It is still quite new and shiny, but I hope that by the time our 4 year old is all grown up it will have the distinguished patina of one that has delighted generations of shankarpale fans.

Here’s to creating teatime memories that will be cherished 20-30 years down the line, as I do today. 🙂

Shankarpale

Shankarpale

This version of the recipe makes about 2 cups of Shankarpale. Just enough for 2-3 to snack on.

Ingredients:

150 grams whole wheat flour (atta)

25 grams semolina

80 grams powdered sugar + 1 teaspoon to sprinkle

1 tablespoon ghee

1/4 cup cold milk or water

Method:

  1. Stir the semolina into the flour and mix well. I use a whisk to ensure even distribution.
  2. Add in the sugar and ghee. Sprinkle some cold milk (or water) and knead well. You may not need all the milk (or water). What you are aiming for is a stiff dough.
  3. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  4. Roll into evenly sized balls.
  5. With a rolling pin (a wine bottle will do just fine), roll each ball into a disc 3mm – 5mm thick.
  6. Cut into desired shapes. (I prefer diamonds.)
  7. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan.
  8. Fry the shankarpale until golden brown.
  9. Cool and dust with some of the powdered sugar.

Goes perfectly with a beverage of any kind. There won’t be much left to put away so no airtight tins necessary. 🙂

If it’s a savoury version, you prefer, you might like the Tikhat Papdya, spiced with cumin and black pepper.

Posted in A-Z 2016, Festive food, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

R for Roath (Spiced semolina cake)

Roath rhymes with coat, announced our 4 year old as he munched on a piece over the weekend. If you are not familiar with this semolina cake, now may be a good time to give it a try. It is the perfect counterfoil to spicy or oily snacks as it gently balances the tastes in your mouth so you can enjoy every bite. Roath is made from semolina soaked in milk, sweetened, and then gently spiced with cardamom, nutmeg and a dash of saffron.

My earliest memory of roath is eating it in my great grandmother’s house when we visited her. Mothi Aji, as she was called, enjoyed churning out a great variety of delicacies for us to snack on . (It does run in the family!).We used to enjoy great chunks of this cake, served with a spicy helping of her famous tikhat rawa or pangojis. She lived alone, shopped and cooked for herself, eschewing all offers of help until she was well into her nineties. Her zest for life has certainly been passed down to my Aji who is cut from the same cloth.

Pathare Prabhu cuisine has been influenced by Western techniques like baking and has adpated a number of dishes that owe their origins (and their yumminess) to the confluence of these styles. Roath is one such example and I do hope you enjoy it.

Roath - a gently spiced semolina cake

Roath – a gently spiced semolina cake

Ingredients:

1 cup rawa

3/4th cup sugar

150 ml warm milk

2 + 1 tablespoons ghee (approx.)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon powdered cardamom

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

a handful of pistachios

1/4 cup raisins soaked in a little milk

a few strand of saffron soaked in a teaspoon of warm milk

Method:

  1. In a bowl, add the semolina and 2 tablespoons ghee. Rub the ghee into the semolina with your fingertips. Now try and squish this semolina mix into a ball. If it retains the shape, the ghee is sufficient. If it crumbles away, add an additional tablespoon of ghee and rub it in.
  2. Add the warm milk into the semolina till the mixture is thinned down but not runny.
  3. Keep this aside for an hour so that the semolina can absorb the milk.
  4. After an hour, add the sugar and mix well.
  5. Now add the soaked raisins, spices, saffron. Mix well.
  6. Pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 180 C for about 25 minutes or till the top is golden.

Serve with some spicy snacks and a steaming cup of coffee.

I think it makes a great breakfast cake too!

 

Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Q for Quick brunch : Shikran

It’s difficult to explain this dish. If you’ve never eaten it before, it’s simply mashed up bananas, sweetened and then thinned down with some milk. If you are familiar with it, I hope it reminds you of many happy meal times.

When my mum and her siblings were of school age, most families in the community ate a big meal first thing in the morning. Packed lunches were rare and school was a 10 minute dash away. The lunch break was a quick one and mum and my uncles would sprint home for a generous helping of shikran-chapati. Hot chapatis torn into pieces and soaked in the cool shikran. It was wolfed down in seconds leaving some satisfied tummies and happy kids. The simple joys of a childhood in the 40s…

Needless to say, we’ve heard this story many many times in our childhood, over a happy lunch of…you guessed it – Shikran-Chapati.

I still turn to it as comfort food when I don’t feel like cooking or when I need a healthy mid-morning snack.  It always takes me back in time and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (The pictures, sadly, do it no justice.)

What’s your secret time machine? Do tell and spread the love.

Shikran-chapati

Shikran-chapati

Ingredients:

2 large ripe bananas ( 1 per person)

1 cup milk (1/2 cup per banana)

2-3 hot chapatis

a sprinkling of sugar (or more, if you like it sweeter)

Method:

  1. Mash the bananas with a fork.
  2. Mix well in the milk. Add sugar, if using.
  3. Tear the hot chapatis into bite sized pieces. Soak them in the milk-banana mixture for about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Enjoy the peace and the sounds of a satisfied tummy.

Notes:

This is a great way to use up ripe bananas and makes a great breakfast too.I must confess, I do use up my stale rotis in this too. 🙂

I make this with almond milk since I went off regular milk a few years ago. Equally great – I can vouch for it.

Posted in Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

P for Pangoji (Spicy prawn fritters)

Every PP household worth its salt serves this tea-time delicacy with some regularity. I know I certainly had my share of these in my childhood – vegetarian pangoji on Mondays or Thursdays and pangoji with prawns on any other day. For a true PP, fish or prawns are welcome, no matter what time of day it is!

Pangoji is a dish of anticipation. The wait is as exciting as the dish itself, as anyone who has eaten these will know. It needs the batter to be left to ferment for 4-5 hours, and to us kids, this was way too long. We would be watching the clock every 15 minutes. (It was our version of ‘are we there yet’…)

Be warned, though, these are very addictive, and if you’re watching the calories, make sure you only make these in small batches. It’s the only way to manage portion control with this one.

P for Pangoji

P for Pangoji

Ingredients:

125 grams (about 1 cup) wholemeal flour (atta)

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds

a handful of prawns, deveined, cleaned and chopped (Optional)

salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

a handful of coriander leaves, chopped

oil to fry

Method:

  1. Grind the cumin and fenugreek seeds to a fine powder. It is this combination that gives the pangoji their distinctive flavour.
  2. Next, in a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, cumin-fenugreek powder, green chillies. Add a little water to make a thick batter. (It should be thicker than dosa/ pancake batter.) Add the baking powder and coriander and mix well.
  3. If you are using the prawns, add these into the batter now.
  4. Cover the batter and leave it to ferment for about 4-5 hours so that it turns slightly frothy. This helps make the pangoji light fritters instead of turning into stodgy oil sponges.
  5. After it has rested for the 4-5 hours, heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Drop the batter one spoonful at a time and fry these on medium high heat.
  6. When they turn evenly golden, use a slotted spoon to drain the oil and place the pangoji on a kitchen towel.
  7. Serve hot, possibly with ketchup, if you can be bothered to fetch the bottle while the family attack the serving bowl.
Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

O for Orange dessert cups

I have previously written about my mum’s fondness for whipping up desserts. This one bears testimony to one such occasion. This goes back to when we were in school and mum was having the kitchen refurbished. Because the house was a bit of a mess, mum had a makeshift kitchen that could be used only after the builders left. Lunches and dinners were basic and functional affairs. In short, this made us a pretty glum bunch.

However, one evening, mum decided to perk us all up with this dessert. It is a fairly simple fruit salad but mum had served it in hollowed out oranges. (Back then, this was quite a novelty.) In that week, dessert was totally unexpected what with regular meals being a struggle to put together.  The dessert and the way it was served went down an absolute treat!

To this day, I associate these orange cups with being a lovely pick me up on days when the spirits are flagging. Nothing a good dessert can’t solve, eh?

O for Orange dessert cups

O for Orange dessert cups

Ingredients:

3 oranges

1 banana, peeled and diced

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

a handful of berries or pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup condensed milk

 

Method:

  1. Cut off about a third of the orange from the top. Cut a thin slice of the base so it can stand on a plate without rolling off.
  2. With a spoon, carefully scoop out the contents of the orange. Peel and cut into segments.
  3. Place the orange segments in a bowl, add the bananas and apples, berries or pomegranate seeds. You can pretty much use any fruit you like. Make sure you balance a sweet flesh fruit with something crunchy- apples or pears and then another fruit to add a pop of colour – pomegranate seeds, berries etc.
  4. Now add the condensed milk and give it a good stir.
  5. Spoon the mix back into your orange cups and serve.

You don’t have to be feeling blue to make these orange cups. They are a great no cook dessert that can be assembled in a jiffy.

Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

N for Nankhatais

No Christmas at home would be complete without these little powdery sugar pillows that melt in the mouth. It’s Nana’s recipe that mum modified. I’ve changed it slightly too. After all, every generation has to do its bit to claim ownership!

Christmas frenzy used to hit us on the 21st of December, when schools usually closed for the annual Christmas break. From then on, it was a countdown to Christmas, and to having everything ready by Christmas eve and Santa’s visit. The tree usually went up first – the ornaments carefully unwrapped from the decades old tissue paper they were preserved in and the more modern lights twinkling in the dark, in anticipation of the festivities.

Next came the coconut toffee, something my mum made herself and hid away from prying fingers. Cake and cheese straws were next on the list. We must have helped with these but my memory fails me here. I do remember tasting the cake batter though, and wondering why we need bake it at all.

Nankhatais, favourites with my sister and I, were made last, and usually just after dinner on the 24th. I remember mum teaching us how to roll and shape these, and telling us off for pinching some of the dough – under the guise of testing if they were sweet enough. This last minute effort ensured that mum could bake them while we were asleep, dreaming of presents that Santa would leave at the foot of our bed. That was, I suppose, the only way they could have lasted till Christmas.

Cut to a generation later, Nankhatais have found a new fan in our four year old, who calls them ‘snowmen cookies’. His doting grandmother always obliges, and he doesn’t even have to wait all year long. 🙂

N for Nankhatais

N for Nankhatais

Ingredients:

200 grams all purpose flour (maida)

150 grams sugar

150 grams ghee or shortening, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

Method:

  1. Cream the ghee and sugar together.
  2. Add the flour and the baking powder and mix well ensuring that you don’t over mix the dough.
  3. Lay a sheet of parchment paper each on two baking trays.
  4. Shape the dough into small balls and press them down slightly. Make a little indent on the top of the cookie dough, with you finger.
  5. Place the trays in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes to chill the dough.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180 C.
  7. When the dough is chilled and firm, place the baking trays in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  8. The nankhatais are ready when you can see the rim of the base turning golden.
  9. Take the tray out of the oven. Cool the cookies down.
  10. Store in an airtight tin.

Notes:

Nankhatais are also made with spices and nuts. If you prefer this option, add 1/2 a teaspoon of powdered cardamom and a pinch of nutmeg to the flour.

You can also garnish with nuts.

I’ve made our Christmas version, white as the snow they represent. 🙂

Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts, Festive food, Goan cuisine | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

M for Malai Kulfi

Malai kulfi made the good old fashioned way always takes me back to Wednesdays in my childhood. I’ll tell you why.

Our school didn’t have the weekend off but we had holidays on Thursday and Sundays. Looking back, it was a rather strange arrangement but back then a mid week break was common practice for the schools in the neighbourhood. So, effectively we treated Wednesday as we do a Friday, now which meant that most dinner rules could be bent.

Wednesday dinners were usually a snack or a version of popular street food options like batate wade or the occasional burger. (Everything was home made, but, of course.) Those were great in themselves, because they offered a break from the usual weeknight staples of dal, fish or meat, chapatis and vegetables. But it was the desserts that we really looked forward to. The sweet tooth of our family is legendary and mum leads the brigade.

She loves baking and making sweets and desserts of all kinds – from trifles and puddings to the more traditional laddoos, shrikhand and, of course, this kulfi.

This is her recipe, made exactly as she does. No shortcuts here. It’s made from full fat milk carefully reduced to half, watched over like a hawk and lovingly served. It also reflects her philosophy towards life. 🙂

Aai, this one is for you.

M for Malai Kulfi

M for Malai Kulfi

Makes: 4 kulfis

Ingredients:

1 litre full fat milk

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cornflour

Method:

  1. In a thick bottomed pan, pour the milk. Add the sugar and stir well.
  2. On medium high heat, boil the milk. Keep a watchful eye so that it doesn’t boil over. Stir frequently, scraping the sides down. This should take about 45 minutes.
  3. When the milk is almost reduced to half, take a tablespoon of it in a little bowl. Add the cornflour and mix well so that there are no lumps.
  4. Add this back to the milk and continue boiling till it turns a pinkish colour and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Take it off the heat and let cool.
  6. Pour into moulds and freeze.
  7. To unmould, hold the moulds under warm running water and upturn them onto serving plates.
  8. Garnish with chopped nuts. (Optional)

Notes:

  1. I didn’t have kulfi moulds so I have used paper cups. (You can use popsicle moulds too.)
  2. I cooled the milk and poured into these paper cups. I then covered the cups with some parchment paper to make a lid (held together with a rubber band) and put the cups into the freezer.
  3. When the kulfi was half set, I pushed two skewers through each lid to make these kulfi sticks.

The improvisation was rather fun, the kulfis looked fine and tasted like Aai’s. In my books, that’s a success. 🙂

Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts, Summer Food Fiesta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

L for Leftovers Lottery – Paavacha bhuja

Every home has their favourite way to jazz up leftovers and this is one of my favourite thing to do with stale bread.

Bread upma or phodnichi bread is quite a common brunch option across India. This one is slightly different because it uses cloves and cinnamon for flavouring instead of the more common chillies-curry leaves- cumin combination.

Mum used to make this in a cast iron pan. The bread would stick to the bottom and turn crispy and golden. My sister and I would look forward to these scrapings, possibly, more than the bhuja itself.

I have used an anodised pan and did manage to get some crumbs but if you do have a cast iron beauty, I would definitely encourage you to use it for this one.

It is a quick fix and it took me all of 20 minutes from plan to plate. It lasted about half that time on the table. 🙂

Do give it a go and I’d love to know how it fared at your home.

Paavacha Bhuja made from stale bread

Paavacha Bhuja made from stale bread

Ingredients:

8-10  slices of bread, cubed

1 tablespoon each, oil and ghee

1 large onion, chopped not too fine

3-4 cloves

1 inch stick of cinnamon

salt to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon paprika or chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon PP sambhar masala (or a tiny pinch of garam masala)

1 tablespoon chopped coriander to garnish

 

Method:

  1. Sprinkle the cubed bread with a little water or milk. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the pan. Add the oil and ghee.
  3. Add the cloves and cinnamon. When you can smell the aroma of these spices, add the onion and fry till golden brown.
  4. Now add the salt, tumeric, chilli powder and PP sambhar (or the garam masala). Mix them with the onions and sprinkle a little water.
  5. Now add the bread and toss until it is coated with the onion and spices mix. Turn up the heat for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Take the bhuja off the heat and garnish with some coriander.
  7. Serve piping hot.
Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment