A lonely Diwali – Gajar Halwa with Rabri and Pistachio Dust

For people like me who are away from the motherland, I find Diwali as one of the most challenging festivals to be. Your hands ache for the comforting awareness of arms that you could have touched and bodies you could have hugged today. You miss the whole travesty of buying colorful clothes, dressing up and trying to look as desi as you can possibly look. You miss the excitement of being part of something that is bigger than you, something that is enmeshed in your memories like glue.

 

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You ruminate over the scent of a few fading diyas that would flicker away quietly in a corner. You dream about the festivities, the noise (not so much anymore), the people, the warmth and the joy that is there all around. In a country, far away, where hardly anyone knows what Diwali is, the festival is just a memory, a figment of your overly nostalgic brain that refuses to give up on the home it no longer belongs to just yet.

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Today for Diwali, I am neither in the home that I have adopted or the home where my heart is. I am in a completely different land. Sitting in a starkly clean hotel room, gathering my thoughts and my wistfulness around me instead of the crisp white sheets.

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Processed with VSCO with 6 preset

 

I had made this “Chilled Rabri with Gajar ka halwa on Pistachio Dust” for Diwali yesterday so the husband could enjoy his Diwali (he has a major sweet tooth). And I knew before I boarded the flight that my wretched old heart will become melancholic tonight. So I did what most desi’s do, I carried the Gajar ka halwa in a small container with me in the flight.

 

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Processed with VSCO with 8 preset

 

So here I am sitting on a lonely bed in a strange country, away from everything that I want and love clinging to a bowl of warm Halwa for dear life. I am savoring each bite as slowly as I can, as the Halwa gives me company till I fall asleep. Diwali for me indeed is a night for reminiscing about the homes that I have left behind, the festivities that I longer enjoy and the people I love & miss and who hopefully love me and ache for me too. Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali. May the light in your heart be the one that helps you find your way wherever your home may be…….

 

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Recipe :

Recipe – Gajar ka Halwa

 

Rabri – Cooking time 3 hours

2 litres full fat Milk

1 cup Sugar

Cardamom Powder

 

Heat the Milk in an aluminium pan on a low flame and let it cook for 2 hours till it has almost reduced in quantity.

Add the Sugar and Cardamom powder and thicken the Milk a little more. The Rabri is really thickened reduced milk which tastes delicious when it is chilled.

 

Pistachio Dust – 5 minutes
½ cup Pistachio toasted on a pan and cooled

1 tbsp Sugar

Grind together into a powder

 

Arrangement:

 

Place the Pistachio dust in serving glasses, add the Halwa and then a layer of the rabri. Sprinkle some more Pistachio dust and flaked Almonds. Serve chilled.

 

Rasmalai for a day of love

ishqne’ġhālib’nikammākardiyā

varna ham bhī aadmī the kaam ke

(Love has made you worthless Ghalib. Otherwise you were also a man of means)

 

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What does love mean to you?

 

Is it a whisper of something that you feel in your heart or is it a loud roar that rips your chest apart?

 

Is love a mirror of your true self or just another boost to your ego?

 

Is love passionate? Does it run inside your veins like blood, scorching your skin with just a breathe?

 

Is love the kind that makes your heart ache, your body shake and the one that drives you insane?

 

Is your love so fulfilling, one that gives you a million highs? Or is it just a passing fancy that doesn’t move your conscience at all?

 

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Whatever love means to you, I hope it is a love that you are devoted to. I hope it is a love that fills your senses with the deepest sense of longing and belonging. I hope it makes you want to conquer the world and make it a better place to live in. And I hope that it is not just on Valentine’s Day that you tell the people you love how you feel about them. Because we have one life and you don’t want to spend that life imagining that we are loved by someone. You want to know it, feel it and hear it every single day that you are alive.

 

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And for me, cooking is a way to show my love not just to others but also to myself. I don’t just cook for a Valentine, but I cook for my body and soul The kind of comfort and sense of being loved that is offered by a well-cooked meal is something that can only be experienced. So I cooked today I like I cook every other day with love, with passion and with the intent of ensuring that my dinner offered my body nourishment and my soul a much-needed hug.

 

Obviously, this delectable “Rasmalai” made with the Shan foods Rasmalai Mix just helped elevate the warm fuzzy feeling that I feel after I have polished off a meal. Deliciously creamy, it just melted in my mouth, a treat that was not guilty about eating at all. As they say, the only real love in this world is the love for food.  And I have taken that saying to my heart.

 

Recipe for this delicious Rasmalai to make yourself feel great on Valentines or any other day on the blog.

 

Recipe: (Cooking time 45 minutes, serves 4 – 6)

 

1 liter (5 cups)  full fat milk

½ cup Sugar

1 Egg whisked

1 tbsp Ghee or Butter

1 packet Shan Rasmalai mix

For garnishing : (Optional)

Almond flakes, Pistachio, Edible Silver Leaves, Saffron

 

Method:

 

Add sugar to milk and boil for 10 minutes or till the milk has thickened a bit.

Mix together Shan Rasmalai Mix, Ghee/Butter and Egg in a bowl. Knead and make soft dough (If necessary add 1 table spoon of water).

Make about 15 small round / flat / oval shape balls. Immediately, put them in boiling Milk. Increase the heat, so that the milk remains boiling. (The balls will become hard, if they are not immediately added to the boiling Milk).

Take a round sieved frying spoon and turn the balls by rotating bottom edge of the spoon against the top of the balls. Keep rotating until the balls swell by about 4 times their original size.

For thin Milk syrup remove from heat and serve cold. For thick Milk syrup, continue to boil for 10 minutes on medium heat until the syrup thickens.

Remove from the heat and cool.

Garnish and serve cold with a lot of love.

 

Tip: Do not worry if the balls break apart in the milk. They will thicken the milk and taste like Rabri, still really delicious.

Sheer Khurma – From the shimmering streets of Delhi

My mother grew up in the bustling lanes of Chandani Chowk in Delhi. Her childhood revolved around food that she and her friends ate because no excuse could stop them from eating out and eating well. She would tell us stories about the holy month of Ramzan when she and her friends would visit the markets around Jama Masjid to dig into some fantastic food.

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The streets of old Delhi would be lit up like a new bride dressed up in all the finery, enticing anyone who dared to enter its fold. The smells, the sights and the sounds were intoxicating. While there was a huge variety to choose from my dessert loving mother could not get enough of Sheer Khurma.  Thin Vermicelli noodles deep fried in shameless quantities of Ghee and then cooked in full-fat milk was something that she enjoyed indulging in especially because as a vegetarian her choices were very limited.

 

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When dressed with some Almond flakes, Pistachio Dust, Saffron and edible Silver this caramelized milky concoction became truly magical.  She made it often for us when I was growing up, and it became a part of my life too. Even today as I sit in my home in Sydney on a cold winters night and dig into a bowl of this heavenly dessert. I can’t help but feel as if I am standing on the shimmering streets of Old Delhi, which would be dressed to the hilt for the festival of Eid making me all miss a childhood that was beautiful.

 

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Recipe (Cooking time 60 minutes, serves 6)

1/2 cup vermicelli (sevaiyan)

Two tbsp Ghee (Do not bother making this dessert if you don’t want to use Ghee)

3/4 cup Sugar

Four coffee cups full fat Milk

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

One tsp Pistachio Dust (I just crushed some Pistachio flakes to a fine powder)

Pinch of Saffron for garnishing

Silver leaves for garnishing

 

Method

Heat the Ghee in a deep pan, add the vermicelli and cook on a slow flame till it turns golden brown. Being careful that it doesn’t burn.

Add the Milk very gently and let it come to a gentle boil.

Now add the Sugar & Cardamon powder and cook on a slow flame till the Milk has thickened and the sugar completely dissolved, and the Milk has reached a thick consistency.

Remove from the heat and let it cool for a bit. Serve warm with Almond flakes, Pistachio Dust, Saffron and Edible silver leaves.

 

 

An ode to summery days – Caramelised Fig & Jaggery Kulfi

The weather in Sydney seems to be temperamental lately. Someday the sky is pitch black with clouds swimming around with their bellies full of rain, ready to burst any minute. The short walk from home to the train station and the station to the office becomes a rushed one because you are worried about getting drenched. The cold breeze makes you shiver to your bones and you pull your jacket closer to your body to get some much needed warmth.

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And suddenly just like that the Black clouds disappear from whichever place they came from to be replaced by the brightest sunshine that can ever bask in. The warm Sun touches your bare arms and your wistful face reminding it to smile more. And this is the thing about the Sun, when it shines, it makes you want to feel alive, feel the need to live in the moment and  enjoy everything that it brings in its wake.

And when you think of the warmth it brings, a chilled Ice cream always seems to be a good way to enjoy its full glory.

 

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The cold Ice cream melts with the heat of your mouth, all over your fingers and in the cup or cone you hold it in. Such a delicious way to say Thank you to the sun for being such a positive life source. Since “Figs” are in abundance this summer, I decided that what could be better than making “Fig Kulfi”.

 

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Kulfi is the Indian version of Ice Cream made with thickened Milk cooked over a slow flame to make it rich and creamy. Various ingredients then go in to add flavor and texture to the milk and it becomes a source of heavenly glory after setting it up in a freezer for a while. The addition of Jaggery gives the Kulfi a caramel flavor and taste adding depth and texture to an otherwise plain Jane.

 

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Recipe (Cooking time 60 minutes or a little more, setting time 6 hours)   

1 liter full Cream Milk

2 – 3 tbsp Jaggery

A few Pistachios to add in the Kulfi

6 Figs

2 tsp Sugar

Heat milk in a thick bottomed pan and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the milk cook till it has reached half of its consistency.

Add 2 tbsp of Jaggery and  let it thicken (I usually have a little taste and only add the remaining Jaggery if I fill the Milk is not sweet enough).

Caramlise the Figs:

While the Milk is slowly reducing, heat a pan. Cut the Figs in half and spread the sugar in a plate. Rub the Figs on the side that is cut and rub it on the Sugar.

Place the figs on the Tawa (the side that is coated with Sugar) and let them gently caramlise for 10 minutes.

You can add the Pistachios on the same pan so they also get Caramlised.

Let the Figs cool a little before you gently scoop out the flesh and mash it a little. You can add the juices from the pan to the Milk as well along with the flesh and the caramlised Pistachios.

Cook for 5 – 10 minutes more  and turn off the heat.

Let the Milk cool completely before pouring it a Aluminum tin or individual moulds and freeze for atleast 6 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raspberry Panacotta for a very western Holi

And just like this “Holi” dawned upon us, slowly, quietly without a word in a country where most people that I am surrounded by do not share the same cultural identity as me, it gets hard to remember what Indian festivals are passing me by. While most of us expats try and do something to retain a little bit of flavor of the day, it is hardly ever the same.

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As kids, we looked forward to playing Holi all year around.  My grandfather had a “Gulak” (piggy bank), and we would be encouraged to store any loose change in it. So during Holi & Diwali, we were allowed to take money from it to buy colors or crackers. The princely sum of 30 Rs that we would be given was like a lottery ticket for us. We would go mental buying different colors, water pistols and balloons and it was all terribly exciting.

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We had a huge verandah in the house we grew up in, where my father would put one big tub of water for us to fill our water balloons ready to corner an unsuspecting friend. Both of us would fill plastic bags with our various tools of ambush and I would go with all the girls and he would take off with the boys. We would roam around in packs looking for a poor soul to unleash the array of colors that we carried with us. While we were not allowed to throw the balloons at strangers, all the uncles, aunties and kids from the neighborhood would not be spared. It was time to settle old scores with other children and it was all in good fun. It was an enjoyable time, walking around so unashamedly, faces painted black, blue and even silver, hair in disarray, looking ridiculous with not a care in the world.

 

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Over time better sense prevailed or maybe the fact that the colors became synthetic, people lost the decency of playing Holi in the right spirit or maybe my grandfathers Gulak went with him; we just lost the will to play Holi. It has been years since bright pink ‘Gulal’ was applied on my cheeks. God knows I am thankful that I walk on the streets of Australia without having to worry about a Balloon filled with water or something worst dumped unceremoniously on my head out of the blue. But the memories of those innocent days always come washing back when you are so far away to make any of your own.

 

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As I did not have the time or patience to make any traditional sweets this Holi, I did make this colorful “Raspberry Panacotta” to remind myself of days when life had a million different colors than just Black & Grey. Eaten chilled these little glasses of heaven were a perfect way to end a day that was filled with memories.

Recipe (Cooking time 15 minutes, setting time 5 – 6 hours, makes 6 puddings)

For the Panacotta

150 ml Full-fat Milk

500 ml thick Cream

160 gms Caster Sugar

1 Vanilla pod split with seeds scraped

3 leaves Gold Leaf Gelatine

Handful of Raspberries to add to the Panacotta

 

Add the Cream in a thick bottomed pan and add the Milk, sugar, and scraped vanilla beans and pod in a large pan.

Stir over low heat till it gently comes to a  boil. Just before the mixture starts to boil turn off the heat.

Place the gelatin leaves in a shallow dish, and then cover with cold water to soften for 5 minutes. Remove the gelatin from the water and squeeze out the excess water. Gently whisk it into to the cream mixture until dissolved.

Allow the cream mixture to cool slightly and then strain through a sieve into a jug. Pour into small glasses, if serving straight from the glass. Add 2 – 3 Raspberries in each glass and then transfer to the refrigerator for 5 – 6 hours or until set. The Panna cottas should still have a slight wobble to them once set.

 

For the Raspberry Coulis

1 cup frozen Raspberries

1 tbsp Icing Sugar

Blitz the Raspberries and Icing Sugar in a grinder for 3 – 4 minutes till some of the berries have broken.

Add this mixture to a pan and cook over low heat, stirring till the berries have all melted and it has become a thick slush.

Using a sieve strain the mixture in another container and let it chill in the fridge.

Drizzle some coulis in each glass before serving along with some dried flowers (optional) for decoration.

Something Sweet with White Chocolate Kheer (Chocolate Rice Pudding)

The lure of sweets is unending isn’t it? Whether it is sweet nothings whispered in one’s ears, a sweet, soft kiss planted firmly on the lips or something sinfully sweet that one gets to taste. The more we avoid eating desserts, the more we want them.

1-IMG_9876Can you imagine waking up to a morning where there is nothing sweet to taste at all? I certainly cannot. And even though I am mostly a good girl who can control the temptation and not give into the cravings, there are times when even I have to give in. And this season of festivals which is now open us does not help at all.

1-IMG_9871And while I cannot bake glorious cakes or amazing looking pastries in my kitchen I can make a very nice Kheer (Rice Pudding). Maybe it is because one doesn’t need to put really in any effort in making Kheer. I mean how hard can it be to boil Milk and add Sugar and Rice and let them all work together in a mushy slushy delicious treat that Kheer is.

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Since Kheer was on the agenda for Ganesh Chaturthi, I decided not to go the traditional route and add some White Chocolate to it to make it richer than it usually is. And what a sinful treat it was. I am sure Lord Ganesha would have also been pleased with this something sweet.

Recipe (cooking time 60 minutes, serves 6)

1 liter full-fat Milk (If you chose not use full-fat then don’t make this Kheer at all)

½ cup plain uncooked Rice

½ cup Sugar

½ cup white Chocolate Chips

1 Vanilla bean pod

Handful of Pistachios slivers for decoration

Heat Milk in a deep bottomed pan. Once the Milk comes to a boil reduce the heat and let the Milk thicken till it is almost ¾ of the volume.

Now add the Rice and let it cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Scrape off the beans from pod and add it to the Rice.

Add the Sugar and Chocolate chips once the Rice is almost done. Cook for another 10 minutes till the Chocolate and Sugar is disolved.

Serve hot garnished with Pistachios.

Tips: Since we have add Chocolate chips to the pudding you will find that the Pudding will become really thick and stodgy when kept in the fridge. Add warm water or milk to heat the Rice Pudding before you want to serve it again.

Celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi with Mysore Pak

As a foodie, I love anything associated with food and everything that defines what we eat. So when we talk about the Gods we worship, ‘Ganesha’, the lover of food has to be my favorite. Considering my life revolves around eating, cooking and dreaming of what to eat next, he is clearly the right God to have by my side at all times.

1-IMG_9888As a child of not-so religious parents, we did not celebrate any festivals. However, Ganesh Chaturthi had a very special place in my life because our entire neighborhood celebrated it with a lot of glee. Everyone from kids to grown-ups pitched in to make the festival a memorable one. From collecting donations to buying the idol to getting all the aunties to prepare mouth-watering delicacies to tempt Ganesha, we did it all.

1-IMG_9870Considering that this was the only time our parents allowed us to stay out after dinner, we, of course, waited with bated breath for this time of the year. Since our neighborhood consisted of families from all over the country, everyone had their way of worshiping him, which resulted in festivities that were very non-traditional. The daily aarti would be sung in five different languages on top of our voices, and then he would also be treated with sweets like modaks, halwa and Mysore pak, which was my favorite. Prepared with gram flour, sugar, and an unmentionable amount of ghee, Mysore pak was a melt-in-the-mouth goodness that excited even mere mortals like me.

1-IMG_9906Standing outside the kitchen where the pak would be made, we would watch the ladies mix the gram flour with the sugar syrup till the whole thing came together after rigorous stirring. We knew the halwa was ready when there was an unmistakable aroma of gram flour being cooked with ghee.

1-IMG_9922The wet sticky mixture would then be left to be set till it became a fudge (pak), which would then be offered to Lord Ganesh during the evening puja. Considering how delicious the pak was, I don’t think he could resist eating it. While I may not know any traditions to invoke his blessings, I do know that the way to his heart is through his round tummy, and Mysore pak is the treat that I make every time he visits us.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAnd while I make sweets I also try and lay out a feast not just for him but also for his entire family. However this is a post for Mysore Pak and if you want the recipe, please head over to the page of India Food Network and try it yourself.

Memories of my Grandfather with Gajar Halwa (Carrot Pudding)

A lot of North Indians can trace their lineage all the way to Pakistan and so can I. My Grandfather moved from Multan, in Pakistan to India after partition. He was a giant of a man, very handsome, tall, and proud with a mop of curly silver white hair on his head which was made him stand out from everyone else.

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He loved his food and would talk about the food from home as a part of his life that he missed sorely. Often he would start a sentence with “Humare Multan main” (In our Multan) which would often end up with an instruction to my mom to make something that was deep fried or sweet. He remembered each alleyway, each nook and corner and every sweetmeat shop that dotted around those alleys where the most delectable food was sold.

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Even though he was out of Multan, Multan was never out of him. He constantly reminisced about the delicious food laden with Ghee, Cream, and Sugar and always craved for more. Jalebis drowned in thick full cream milk, Gulab Jamuns eaten with Rabri and piping hot Kachoris were something that he used to relish with childlike glee. However what we loved the most was “Gajar Ka Halwa” (Carrot Pudding) which his mother would cook for him in the cold winters of Multan.

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He would earnestly try and recreate the magic of Multan in our tiny little kitchen in Ulhasnagar. Halwa making would be an elaborate ritual in our house which he played with a lot of panache. A kerosene stove and a huge Kadhai (wok) would be laid out for him in the Verandah of our house. He would sit on a chair near the stove wearing a shawl, croon with “K L Saigal” on the tape recorder and cook the halwa overnight. Since we did not have a food processor it was my brother and my responsibility to grate the pink carrots, and he would do it earnestly till our hands would be sore, and our backs would hurt. However, the temptation of what we would get in the end would keep us going.

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He never took shortcuts and the Halwa would simmer for hours in the Mawa (dried milk used to prepare Indian sweets) and Ghee (clarified Butter). We would wake up with the smell of the Halwa wafting throughout the house penetrating not just our eager nose but also our senses. He would then throw in a generous quantity of dried fruits and nuts to complete the ritual. And then as a reward he would take a spoon and feed the halwa to us. His beady cataract ridden eyes would light up when he would hear us scream in delight.

Head over to India Food Network to read more and to get the recipe.

 

A luscious treat for the soul- Raspberry spiked Chocolate Brownies

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” ― Harriet Van Horne

Any foodie will say this, that the best way to show someone you love them is by cooking for them. There is nothing more enticing than the elaborate ritual of preparing a meal for someone you adore and then serving it to them. Watching their eyes light up when they look at the treat in front of them. And the smile on their face, when they take the first bite, is what a foodie lives for or rather cooks for all the time.

1-IMG_9060 (2)I feel that we all should know how to cook a few dishes that become our signature and that we can make to please the loves of our lives. And when are cooking gratifying meals, they have to be finished with equally fabulous desserts. Something that tops the charts and makes the object of your affection swoon with pleasure. Something that makes them feels as unique as you want them to feel.  And Chocolate is the only thing that comes to my mind.

1-IMG_9068Talking about Chocolate and Love in the same breath is not unheard off. It is a common belief that Chocolate is an aphrodisiac and food for gods. And if the gods have given it their blessings that are we to say no?. And these “Raspberry spiked Chocolate Brownies” have to be the perfect way to show someone you love them. It is the best way to demonstrate that you care and are ready to get chubby with them, by stuffing your face with these intensely gorgeous and luscious pieces of heaven.

1-IMG_9072The sweetness of the Chocolate combined with the tartness of the Raspberries results in a dessert that is seductively good. These tempting brownies melt in your mouth and have an almost fudgy texture that is so tempting that someone like me who usually avoids desserts ends up eating a few pieces on my own. Is there a better way to pamper your twin soul? I don’t think so.

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Recipe (Cooking time 45 minutes, makes 16 pieces)

200 g Dark chocolate (chopped)

250 g unsalted Butter

1 ¾ cups Brown Sugar

1 1/3 cups Plain Flour

¼ tsp Baking powder

4 Eggs

½ cup Cocoa powder

1 ½ cups Raspberries (you can use fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven at 180 degrees C.

Melt the Chocolate and the Butter over a small saucepan filled with water (I usually cut the Butter into small pieces so it melts evenly with the Chocolate). Ensure the water from the saucepan doesn’t get in the bowl or your Chocolate will be destroyed. Alternatively you can also melt the Chocolate and Butter in a microwave.  Let it cool.

In another bowl whisk the Sugar with the Eggs.

Sift over the Flour, Baking and Cocoa powder and mix will it combined with the Egg & Sugar mixture.

Now mix the Chocolate and Butter mixture and gently mix to a smooth consistency.

Pour into a 23cm (9 inch) greased square tin lines with baking paper.

Top the mixture with Raspberries and bake for 45 minutes or until set.

The brownies are fudgy in the middle. Once cooled dust with some icing Sugar and cut into equal squares.

Recipe source : Donna Hay Simple Essentials Chocolate.

 

 

An Indian dessert using a very Australian Yogurt – Shrikhand

They say beauty needs no ornaments, the simplest and the plainest of things sometimes are the ones that touch your heart more then anything else. I guess it is the same with food. There are times when the most basic of ingredients can form the  most heart warming of dishes that you can ever  make. And for me Curd/yogurt or Dahi  is that simple ingredient that lends an extra charm to a lot of things I make in my kitchen.

1-IMG_3925Curd is a huge part of our food culture. It is something that is used commonly in most Indian states that use a lot of Milk based products in their cuisine. One doesn’t have to look very far when one needs to understand the importance of Curd in the Hindu tradition. Curd is added to ‘Panchaamrit’ that is a nectar made from 5 ingredients offered to God during important prayers, which says a lot about something as humble as curd. Not only is it used to cook or eaten as an accompaniment but we also apply it generously to our hair and skin to provide nourishment to them. It is an excellent hair conditioner and great softener for dry, parched skin. Learning how to make Curd was the first thing I learned in my mother’s kitchen and let’s face it, a bowl of perfectly set Curd is something that makes us really proud doesn’t it?

1-IMG_3870So you can see Curd runs in our veins, it is an essential part of who we are and one of the most beautiful things one can do with it is make “Shrikhand”. Shrikhand is a lovely mouth watering treat made in the western parts of India using fresh Curd which is drained and chilled. It does not require any cooking and is very simple to make. It is also my husband’s favorite dessert as he grew up eating it and relishes it with particular glee.

1-IMG_3904And I felt that if I had to make something using Curd, there was nothing better that could do justice to this beautiful product in its entirety then Shrikhand. As someone who makes her own curd I am very particular about it and was pleasantly surprised how creamy and soft the yogurt from Chobani was.

1-IMG_4020It was set perfectly and tasted really good even on its own. Making Shrikhand with Chobani was literally a child’s play and after draining it over night, I just took 10 minutes to put it all together. The end result is for you to see.

1-Food 24The Shrikhand was silky, luscious and melted in my mouth, the honey and the Cardamom powder blending together in a beautiful symphony, cold and tantalizing the taste buds.  I think I finally found a yogurt that I could buy off the shelf and use in my cooking on a day to day basis.

Recipe (No cooking required)

1 1/2 cup of Chobani Greek Yogurt (I used a low fat version)

1 tbsp Honey or 1/2 cup Caster Sugar (You can increase the quantity of honey if you want the Shrikhand a little sweet)

1 tsp fresh Cardamom powder

a few strands of Saffron

1 tbsp Milk

few slivers of Pistachio to garnish.

Place the yogurt in a cheese cloth on a bowl and let it drain overnight till the yogurt is thick to an almost cheese like consistency.

The next day take the yogurt out of the cheese cloth and place it a bowl. Warm the milk and add the Saffron and kept it aside till it is cold. Mix the milk in the Yogurt very gently.

Add the Cardamom powder and honey and stir gently. Chill in the fridge till you are ready to serve.

Garnish with Pistachios and a few strands on Saffron before you serve it chilled.

Disclaimer : This is not a paid product review. The yogurt was brought by me and tested without any monetary benefits from Chobani.

 

 

 

 

Cheat’s Raspberry Trifle to celebrate 2 special days

One of the most common question that people ask me is “What’s cooking” and when I sometimes answer “Nothing” I can almost sense the disappointment. I don’t know why people think that I am always in my kitchen, constantly churning out delicious meals on the drop of the hat.

1-IMG_0598Being a die hard foodie and a food blogger does not mean that one has to spend all  their time thinking about elaborate recipes and spending hours in the kitchen taking pictures and then whatever is left of the time is spent writing about it. Believe it or not I do have a life which does not involve cooking.

1-IMG_0521And there are days when I don’t want to cook at all and days when I take a lot of shortcuts to make something delicious because I am tired and cannot be bothered. Especially with desserts, believe it or not I find making desserts really cumbersome and if I am hosting guests for meals I resort to making desserts which can be easily put together and something that doesn’t kill me .

1-IMG_0536I mean why would I want to waste my time and energy slogging behind something that would be eaten last when I can make some spectacular main dishes. Not that I don’t enjoy desserts,  who doesn’t love a beautiful cake or pie or custard. We all do and I am not different. But I love my desserts to be simple and fuss free. So to celebrate Australia day for my adopted home country and Republic day for my beloved India I decided to make a delicious Donna Hay “Cheat’s Trifle”.

1-CannonTrifle can be a little cumbersome to make as there is so much to put together. But Donna Hay is famous for her fast, simple and fresh cooking and this amazing Trifle is all of that. Thankfully like India we don’t have dry days when we celebrate something collectively as a nation. In Australia no celebration is complete without booze and this trifle is full of it. I almost felt dizzy after having 2 of these 🙂 So while I sleep off the rest of the day, I hope you have all enjoyed your weekend and hope our countries can grow and prosper

Here is the recipe: (I doubled the quantity of the original recipe as I as making 6 glasses, the recipe below only serves 2)

6 sponge finger biscuits
2 tablespoons raspberry or orange liqueur or sherry
1½ cups fresh or frozen raspberries (You can use Strawberries as well)
1½ tablespoons icing (confectioner’s) sugar
½ cup (125g) mascarpone cheese
½ cup (125ml) single (pouring) cream
1 tablespoon icing (confectioner’s) sugar, extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Divide the sponge finger biscuits between serving glasses and sprinkle with the liqueur.
Roughly mix together the raspberries and icing sugar with a fork breaking some of the raspberries and spoon over the biscuits.
Place the mascarpone, cream, extra icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until thick.
Spoon mascarpone mixture over the raspberries and chill until ready to serve.

Recipe source : Donna Hay

 

 

Roasted Nectarines Popsicles with Coconut Milk

Coming from Mumbai where the sun is eternally shining most of the days all year around ‘Summer’ is not a season that I enjoy. Sun is something we get abundant of; it is shining on us with brightness that is sometimes unbearable making us squint and sweat in places we don’t want to sweat.

1-IMG_0303When I moved to Perth I did my research on everything about the city except the damn weather. I thought that I was escaping from the Sun and like an irritating stalker the sun followed me here. The sun shines even brighter here in Perth. My skin burns, my throat is always parched, and I sweat in places I don’t really want to mention.

1-IMG_0308So you see I don’ t like Summers at all. But Australians love Summers; they welcome it with open arms and revel in its glory. You will hardly find anyone indoors during the Summers. People are having picnics, doing BBQ’s or are inside the pristine clean waters swimming away to glory. And let me admit that despite all my groaning and moaning about the sun, I have now started appreciating it as well.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThey say when in Rome do what the Romans do so I have become a bit of a beach bum and to keep my cool I have a lot of Water, Cold Drinks (not fizzy) and fat-free Ice cream and sorbets.  And with my little Popsicle maker and so many fruits in season I am on a popsicle making spree.  I am making more popsicles then I can eat and thankfully low fat Coconut Milk helps when you are in that mood.

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So now a days I am constantly on the look out for Popsicles recipes that I can try.  The popsicle I have made today is an adaptation from Tania’s fabulous blog The Cooks Pyjamas for “Spiced Plum Yogurt Popsciles.” I knew I had to make it. You can follow her recipe on her blog or use mine without the Wine.

Recipe (Makes 6 Popsicles)

6  Nectarines, halved and stoned

2 cinnamon sticks

2-star anise

3 green cardamom pods, crushed

¾ cup Greek Yoghurt or 1 tin Coconut Milk

½ cup Maple syrup or 3 Tablespoons dark muscovado sugar* (I used Maple syrup and sprinkled some sugar on top)

Instructions

To make the Nectarine puree

Preheat the oven to 180C

Lay the Nectarines in a single layer in a baking dish.

Tuck the spices into the Nectarines, sprinkle over the sugar or brush the Maple syrup on the Nectarines and pour the wine into the bottom of the baking dish. (I skipped the wine)

Roast the Nectarines for 30 minutes, or until they are completely soft and beginning to slump.

Baste the Nectarines with the red wine during the cooking time if they look like they are starting to dry out. (I basted them with a little more Maple Syrup)

Allow the Nectarines to cool completely.

Remove the whole spices and puree the Nectarine mixture in a food processor or blender until completely smooth.

To make the popsicles

Spoon, a small amount of Nectarine, puree into the bottom of the popsicle mould.

Dollop a small quantity of the Puree and Milk and then the Puree. Continue layering the puree and Milk until the moulds are full.

Insert the popsicle sticks and freeze for 4-6 hours.

* It is a good idea to taste the puree before you start putting in the moulds to make sure that it is sweet enough.