Hot Summer’s day call for Cherry Popsicles

What do you do when you want to enjoy something icy on a harsh summer’s day without feeling guilty about it? You make popsicles with lite Coconut milk and no Sugar. So delicious and so easy to make and one doesn’t have to feel bad about over indulgence with them.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI had a small can of cherries lying around in my pantry next to a can of Coconut milk. Now that was a match made in Popsicle heaven. I cannot tell you how yummy these little treats are. The best thing with these popsicles is that there is no real cooking needed besides softening the Cherries, and one can use any other fruit if Cherries don’t rock your boat at all.

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The recipe (freezing time 6 hours, makes 6 Popsicles)

1 small can Cherries

1 can Coconut milk (I used lite Coconut milk)

1 tbsp Honey

Drain the liquid from the can and cook the Cheeries in a small pan on medium flame till they become squishy. Cook for around 7 – 10 minutes. Turn off the gas and let the cheeries cool.

Add the honey and mix well.

Wash and dry the poscile mould, In each mould add a tsp of Cheeries then the Milk, then the Cherries and the milk till the mould is full.

Fill all the 6 mould and freeze for atleast 6 hours.

Enjoy chilled on a hot summers day.

A post for Diwali – Badam & Nariyal Burfee (Almond & Coconut Fudge)

Diwali in Australia is mainly a very sad affair, especially living in a very cut off Perth it has no charm at all. There are no lanterns shimmering away, no diyas burning on every street and no houses smelling of Diwali faral being cooked. I have been missing home terribly, and this Diwali especially has been a lonely one.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetMemories of Diwali’s spent back home keep flashing back and makes me nostalgic and even depressed to a certain extent. I miss all the excitement that we had during the festival period. Diwali was the only time when we would get to buy new clothes, so as a child it was a time that we anxiously waited for.

1-IMG_7702A week before Diwali my mother would do a major spring cleaning of the house, where we would make the house shine from top to bottom, removing all the clutter and unexpectedly stumbling upon lost treasures that were hidden away in some dusty forgotten corner of our home. Diwali also meant sugar overdose.

1-IMG_7696Since Ulhasnagar had a big Sindhi population with a sweet tooth, my mother really did not make any sweets at home. We brought all our sweets from the popular sweet shops around our home and indulged on them for days. This was also the only time when my mother would let us eat the insane amount of sweets stocked in our rickety fridge. We would visit homes of friends and relatives to eat more sweets and then wait for the evening to do Diwali pooja before stuffing our faces with some more of the sugary goodness.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSince I am far away from home and celebrating Diwali alone, I was feeling really out of sorts and did not want to do much. But then I felt that I needed to make an attempt to light up my house with some cheer and welcome goddess Laxmi (the goddess of wealth)  by enticing her with some sweets.  So I made this delicious Coconut and Almond fudge. It took me 30 minutes to make and I will spend a whole week eating it and remembering home and the loved ones who are so far away from me.

Here is wishing everyone a euphoric Diwali. May the light always shine in your life.

Recipe (cooking time 30 minutes)

1 cup freshly grated Coconut (I used frozen coconut that I thawed in the microwave)

1 cup Almond meal

1 tin Condensed milk

1 tsp Cardamom powder

1 tbsp Ghee

Few strands of Saffron (optional)

For the Garnish

Handful of Pistachios

Edible Silver leaf (optional)

Take a tray or a pan and generously rub it with some Ghee and leave it aside.

Heat Ghee in a thick bottomed pan and add the coconut and mix well. Cook the coconut on a low flame for atleast 7 – 10 minutes till the raw Coconut smell is gone.

Add the Almond meal and cook for 5 – 7 minutes. Be careful that the mixture does not burn.

Add the Condensed milk, Saffron strands and Cardamom powder and let the mixture cook. Keep stiring or it will stick to the pan. You will soon notice that the mixture will thicken after 8 – 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture gently in the Ghee coated tray and let it cool down. Cut into equal size sizes and garnish with Pistachios before letting the burfee set, covered with a cling film in the fridge.

Garnish the Silver leaves just before you serve. The Burfee can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for 4 – 5 days.

 

 

The unattainable no bake “Berry Cheesecake”

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
whom she can trust, whom she can’t, and why she shouldn’t take it personally..

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
where to go, be it to her best friend’s kitchen table or a charming inn in the woods, when her soul needs soothing.

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
what she can and can’t accomplish in a day a month and a year…”
― Pamela Redmond Satran

We all need friends who lift us up and push us harder to achieve our goals and aspirations, friends who believe that we have a spark in us and ignite it whenever the light in us starts to flicker. We need someone to move us, shake us and cry with us when we need a big boo hoo. We also need our friends to motivate us not just with words but also with actions. I strongly feel that if we are surrounded by people who are really good at what they do and are passionate, it rubs on to us in a positive way because passion is so contagious.  And when a passionate foodie like me has two best friends who are amazing bakers, I feel constantly inspired and feel the need to be as good as them. .

I have always been a little weary of Baking, especially “Cheesecakes”. Somehow I have always thought that I cannot make a Cheesecake and have always restricted myself from trying them. More than anything else, I hate wasting and the fact that I will buy all the ingredients for it and make a disaster, wasting the money and the efforts has always stopped me.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAnd since both of my friends can make knockout cheese cakes in their dreams, I have constantly moaned about my non existing cheese cake making skills in front of them. So like all good friends, they realized I needed a kick on my back side and sent me a cookbook of “125 Best cheesecake recipes” by George Geary, so I would shut up and get cracking.

1-IMG_4653On my last visit to India one of my friends baked the most amazing cheesecake for me and gave me several tips which thank god I still remember and the other one keeps dishing out her knowledge generously. So between both of them and the fabulous book I really had no excuses left but to make a move at making the unattainable cheesecake.

1-IMG_4651To keep it simple I decided to do a no bake version. I followed all the tips and took a chance with substituting the “Whipped Cream” with “Sour Cream” and oh my god!!! I have never been so happy with my efforts before this. I almost feel like proud of myself and I hope they do too. It was light, it was bursting with Berries and it looked so beautiful, I swear I had a tear in my eye and felt my feet almost leave the ground. Thank god for good friends hey, god knows what will we do without them

Recipe (no cooking needed)

Crust

1 ½ cups Butter cookie, crumbs (I used Oreo cookies after scraping the cream off them)

3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and Butter. Press in the bottom of a 9 inch (23 cm) cheesecake pan, ungreased or spring form pan with 3 – inch (7.5 cm) sides, greased.

Freeze the pan till with the crust till you prepare the filling.

Filling

1 packet or 7.5 g powdered unflavored Gelatin

¼ cup Milk

250 G Cream Cheese softened

1 cup Granulated Sugar

1 tbsp fresh Lemon juice

1 cup Sour Cream or Whipping Cream (whipped) or Curd

2 tsp Vanilla extract

1 ½ cup of mixed berries (if you are using frozen berries do not thaw them)

Sprinkle gelatin over Milk in a small saucepan and let it stand for 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.

Using a stand/hand mixer beat the Cream cheese and Sugar on a medium speed for about 3 minutes.

Slowly add the milk/gelatin mixture. Mix in Lemon juice and Vanilla extract.

Fold in the Whipped Cream/Sour Cream or Curd and mix well (do not over mix)

Fold in the berries gently and pour over the frozen crust. Chill until firm for about 6 hours or overnight.

Decoration

Dried edible flowers

Icing sugar

A few mixed Berries

When ready to serve run a hot knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it.

Decorate with more frozen or fresh Berries and sprinkle some Icing sugar and edible dried flowers.

Tip: To avoid grainy texture you must ensure that your Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Whipping Cream or Curd and Butter are all at room temperature. Otherwise they won’t mix well.

 

 

 

Guilty Pleasures with a Berry Yogurt Crumble

Pleasures should never be termed as guilty especially if these pleasures never harm anyone. We all have to abide rules of propriety and decency and never let these guilty pleasures get out of hand. But hey we all need to indulge in them sometimes just to feel alive, just to feel that we have a soul that feels and a heart that beats for such moments.
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And these guilty pleasures could be anything. A book we shouldn’t be reading , a glance at someone who shouldn’t be looking at or that piece of chocolate that we should never touch. Like most people I do also indulge myself once in a while in guilty pleasures that make me fat eventually 😉
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But let me reassure you this Berry Yogurt crumble treat that I am sharing today is not something anyone will feel guilty about. And it is so ridiculously easy to put together that you would want to indulge in more than once. It is a Nigella Lawson recipe and like everything she dishes up it is luscious and tempting. It is really a treat that I enjoy any time of the day especially when I need a little cheering up. Trust me when I say this you will never regret making this.
Berry Crumble (makes 2 glasses)
1 cup mixed frozen Berries
3 large oats or ginger snap biscuits
1 cup Greek yogurt (if you don’t have Greek yogurt you can mix a little Milk with plain yogurt)
1 tbsp honey
Blitz the berries and honey in a blender.
Place the biscuits in a ziplock bag and crush them.
In a glass or a bowl place a spoonful of Berries and then put a spoonful of yogurt on top it. Layer 2 -3 servings of berries and yogurt on top of each other and sprinkle some of the biscuit crumbs on top before you serve.
Serve chilled .

Kuch meetha ho jaye – Chawlon ke kheer (Rice Pudding)

I studied in a convent school where we were bound by rules and regulations laid out by the strict catholic nuns. We had several uniforms that we wore during the week, smartly ironed uniforms, gleaming black shoes and hair slicked with oil tied back in a ponytail with black ribbons.
Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThe only day there was an exception made to the uniform was our birthdays. When we could dress up in fancy clothes and distribute chocolates to the whole class and teachers. Growing up in a middle class family a birthday and Diwali was the only time where I got new clothes and somehow my parents would manage to buy a bag of chocolates for my whole class. And I would wait all year for this day . Since my parents could never afford to have a birthday party for me and my brother, my mother would make “kheer” for us as a way to celebrate the special day.
Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetShe would simmer milk for hours on the gas and it always tasted heavenly. Not sure if it was my mothers love or the numbers of hours the milk was cooked for, the Kheer would taste creamy and delicious, melting in our hungry mouths. Whenever we could afford it she would sometimes add condensed milk to make it extra special and then decorate it with nuts. So kheer became a very beautiful part of my memory and every time I have to celebrate something special I make kheer.
Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetUnlike my mother I on the other hand do not have the time or the patience to simmer milk for hours so I only cook the milk for around an hour on a gentle flame and  I also love give the kheer a nutty flavor by adding some roasted Almond flakes. It is such a comforting desert that I always end up having bowlfuls of it straight off the gas. But it tastes as good when chilled. The best thing about this dessert is it that all the ingredients are available in your pantry and it doesn’t need any fussing around.
Ingredients (cooking time 60 – 75 minutes, serves 6 8 people)
5 cups full fat Milk
1/4 cup plain Rice washed and soaked in water
3/4 cup Sugar ( I used raw sugar )
For the garnish 
Handful of roasted Almond flakes
Few strands of Saffrons
Heat milk in a heavy bottom pan. Do not use a non stick pan as the milk will keep sticking to the bottom.
Let the milk cook for 40 minutes till the milk has reduced to almost half of its original volume. Keep stirring the milk at regular intervals of it will stick to the bottom and burn.
Throw the water in which the rice has been soaking and put the rice in the milk and let it cook for another 20 minutes or so till the rice is almost cooked. The kheer should be refrigerated and will stay for 3 – 4 days. If you feel it has become too stogy by keeping in the fridge add a little warm milk or water to it while heating it up.
Now add the Sugar and cook for another 15 20 minutes. The kheer has to be thick and creamy. Once cooked let it cool a little before you garnish it with Almond flakes and Saffron.

The dessert with no name – Boozy Apple Fruit Cream

It seems to have been forever that I did a blog post.  Life seems to have been running ahead of me and I have been caught off guard, not sure at all where I am going or when I am coming. And in between this state of being lost and flustered I have completely forgotten about this space. Till the man pointed it out that my blog is being neglected and I need to wake up and I had to almost force myself out of this slump that I have fallen into and write.

IMG_9978I was not in a mood to do anything elaborate and thankfully having the nephew at home off late has me baking and cooking almost every day. Since it was a Sunday today and we were also expecting guests I decided to make a simple but very delicious dessert which I have no name for really.

IMG_9962I mean what do I call a dessert that has biscuit crumbs, cream, fruits and a hint of rum. It is a cross between a boozy fruit cream and a mousse. It took less than 15 minutes to make and the sounds of appreciation and requests for second helpings I got pushed me to blog about it.

Food5After all a girl does need some encouragement sometimes to come out of her shell.

Recipe (no cooking required, assembly time 15 minutes – makes 10 – 12 portions for normal guests and 7 for greedy dessert lovers)

500 ml fresh thickened cream, chilled

1 tsp White Rum (or maybe more ) – Optional

1/2 cup Caster Sugar (I used less then half )

3 Apples

Juice of half a Lemon

Chocolate chips for decoration  – Optional

10 Oreo Biscuits or any other dark biscuit.

1) Scrape the cream from the biscuits and make them into soft crumbs.

2) Peel and dice the Apples into small pieces and rub the Lemon juice on them. This will avoid the Apples from turning black.

3) In a bowl add the really chilled Cream, rum and Sugar and using a hand mixer blend everything together the cream becomes thick and starts forming soft peaks.

4) Carefully add the Apples to the bowl and gently fold them together ensuring that the cream doesn’t become too runny.

5) Now add equal quantities of the the Biscuit mix in Dessert bowls or glasses  and gently ladle equal portion of the Cream in each glass. Sprinkle some Chocolate chips on top and refrigerate the fruit cream till you are ready to serve.

 

 

 

A day of celebrations with Berry Banana Lassi Popsicle

I am celebrating 3 things today, “Australia day” for the country I now call my home and have grown to love and respect. “Republic Day” for the country I was born and raised in and the news that my blog has been ranked as number 19 on “Perth’s Hottest 100 Food Blogs 2014”.

I cannot believe this has happened and my humble little blog which I started just out of passion has grown to this space where hungry foodies like me can go and find simple comforting recipes to satisfy their souls.

When this year started I promised myself that this year will be a year of achievements and learning’s. I set up a list of tasks for myself and pinned it on my fridge to read and reinforce it every day that I have to work towards achieving my goals. My blog is number 3 in my list of things I need to achieve in 2014 and I have always aimed at keeping things easy and simple with no fancy shenanigans and have tried to make my blog non intimidating and easy for everyone to follow. I just love to cook and take not very professional pictures of the food and write whatever I feel like.

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And the fact that my passion is being recognized has given me the much needed boost and confidence to become better at what I love. And Australia is the place where it all happened. My dreams got wings and I got the time and opportunity to relax and follow my dreams. I remember when I had just moved here from the maddening hectic life of Mumbai I found it very difficult to relax. I stayed with my very Australian boss and her family. One day she took me to the beach and dragged me in the water despite me not knowing how to swim. She held my hands and told me to learn to relax and float in the water while she held me. So I slowly let go raising my hands in the water and trying to float while she held my shoulders. I knew being in this country would change my life and it did.

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While I tried to adapt my new country and culture I held on to my roots and made Indian food to remember the smell and taste of home. And that is what my blog stands for an Indian girl who cooks in Perth and loves the place she is in.

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To celebrate all the happy things today I decided to make something really cold and delicious for the searing hot summer’s day and give it an Indian twist. Presenting the very delicious Berry Banana Lassi Popsicle’s. As a punjabi, Lassi is part of my staple diet and I can drink it almost every day in summers. So what can be more interesting then turning it into a Popsicle with Summer berries and a very fresh Australian Bananas and Honey. I have used low fat Greek yogurt and honey instead of Sugar to make it a bit healthier. It hardly takes any time to get together and tastes summery, tarty and full of flavors, perfect for the day.

Here is the recipe (assembly time 10 minutes, freeze for 4 – 6 hours before you serve)

2 cups fresh or frozen berries

1 cup low fat Greek yogurt (make sure your yogurt is not sour)

1 tbsp honey (you can add a bit more honey if you want it to be sweeter)

1 Banana

1) Blend everything together in a blender and pour into Popsicle moulds. Freeze for 4 – 6 hours before you get them out and eat them.

Kuch Meetha ho jaye – Coconut and Saffron Burfi (Nariyal Kesar Burfi)

Today is ‘Dussehra’ or ‘Vijayadashmi’ as it is also known as, a very popular date in the Hindu calendar. It is the day when ‘Lord Rama’ slayed the ten headed demon ‘Ravana’ and rescued his wife ‘Sita’. It is also the day when ‘Goddess Durga’ beheaded the demon ‘Mahisasur’, hence the name ‘Vijayadashmi’, where ‘Vijay’ means victory on the 10th day ‘Dashmi’.

Symbolically it is the day when good won over evil and order was restored in the world. I am not very religious but consider myself to be a spiritualist. I don’t celebrate any of the Hindu festivals like the way my in laws do, because I do not know any of the customs or prayers to chant.

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However with everything that is happening around us in the world now a days and the uncertainty of life I seem to be gravitating towards prayers. I seem to move towards the little temple we have created in our home more often then not and just sit there for hours with my eyes closed. I light candles all around me and fill the house with incense hoping to fill my life with happiness and positivity.

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So it was important that I make something for today as a offering to the gods to thank them for the kindness showered on me and my family, hoping that this year has positive things in store for us.  Usually during festivals every Indian house makes a sweet dish so I also decided to make “Saffron and Coconut Burfi”. Burfi is usually made with a lot of Milk and then various things added to it to make it more delicious.

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I used Coconut and Saffron as the main ingredients and added condensed Milk as a cheats version as I had no patience to boil milk for hours to reduce the consistency. You can also make Ladoos instead of Burfi out of this, I made both. The soft cooked coconut sets really fast and melts in your mouth. Any god will be tempted when offered this delicacy don’t you think?

Here is the recipe: (Cooking time 20 minutes)

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon saffron

2 tablespoons butter or Ghee

1 tin sweetened condensed milk

4 cups desiccated coconut  around 350 G

1 teaspoon ground Cardamom powder

1/2 cup Almond or cashew nut powder

1/3 cup Milk

Few slivers or Almonds or Pistachios to decorate

1) Boil the water and dissolve Saffron in it, leaving it aside.

2) Melt Butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the Coconut and Almond/cashew powder mixing gently. Now add the Condensed milk and keep stiring gently for around 7 – 10 minutes. Add the Milk if your mixture is too thick before adding Cardamon and the Saffron water.

4) Mix and stir fir another 5 minutes till the water has evaporated and the mixture becomes dryish. Turn off the gas and  Layer the Coconut mixture in a square dish and flatten until smooth on top, sprinkle some Almonds/Pistachios and let it sit in the fridge for an hour before you cut it in desired shapes.

5) If you are making Ladoos instead of Burfi, wet your hands with some oil and quickly start rolling the warm mixture into small balls. Cover with some dessicated Coconut and let it cool before you serve.

Another Tart from my kitchen – Apple and Butter Tarts

I have been having a lot of fun lately with dressing up Tarts. The reason why I used the word dressing up is because I don’t make the puff pastry from scratch. I know a real foodie should make it at home but I don’t have the time or the energy to do it and when you can get really good quality readymade pastry then when should I break my back in making them.

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But I totally enjoy doing them in funky ways using different toppings and at the risk of sounding like a pompous fool I do a pretty good job of it. I have made a few savory tarts before which you can check out here, Tomato & Goats Cheese, Onions & Mushrooms Tart  and even an Onion & Zucchini one and they are loved and demanded by everyone who has eaten them.

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This week I decided to try the tarts in a sweet way by using some Apples which nobody wanted to eat. I thought slicing the apples thinly and baking them on the tart would be a good idea. But then felt that the Apples might burn and needed some extra protection and a little help with the sweetness. So I coated the pastry sheet and Apple with some Butter and Sugar and boy was I glad I did it.

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The Butter and Sugar gave the Apples a deliciously caramel flavor and protected them from being burned. I sprinkled some Icing sugar on top to give it a nice edge and I had a gorgeous dessert on my hands.

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I was really proud of myself for trying to do something different and the delicious tarts were my reward. Hope you enjoy baking them.

 Recipe (for 4 tarts, cooking time 25 minutes)

1 sheet of really good quality puff pastry

2 medium sized Apples (I used red delicious)

1 tbsp soft melted butter

2 tsp Raw Sugar

1 tbsp Icing Sugar

1) Preheat your oven at 170 Degrees C. Mix the Butter and Raw Sugar together and put it aside.

2) Lay the puff pastry on a non stick baking paper and let it thaw till you get the stuffing ready.

3) Thinly slice your Apples making sure you work really fast as they can turn darker really fast. If you are making a lot of tarts put the slices of the Apples in a bowl of cold water which has some Lemon squeezed in it.  Just ensure you wipe them a bit before you lay them on the Tart.

4) Cut your pastry sheet into 4 squares. You can make smaller size squares and get 6 from 1 sheet but I was just greedy so did only 4.

5) Lay as many slices of Apple slices on the tart in a fan like shape so they look lovely,

6) Coat the entire tart with a generous coating of the Butter and Sugar mix.

7) Put the tray in the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes till the tarts have browned and puffed up and the Apples look golden.

8) Remove from the oven, sprinkle some Icing Sugar on each tart and serve warm.

You can serve some fresh Cream or Ice cream with the tarts and really enhance the guilty pleasures.

To soothe your Sugar cravings – Rasmalai with milkpowder (sweet dumplings made with Milk powder)

Last night after dinner D wanted to have something Sweet. He has a major sweet tooth and because I am not very good at making desserts we usually have some Chocolate or Ice cream in the fridge to satisfy his Sugar cravings. So I asked him to have some Ice cream for dessert and he mentioned how he was craving for some Indian style dessert.

However it was late at night and I was really tired so he just had some ice cream and that was it. Today morning when I was home alone I thought I would make something sweet for him but I had literally no ingredients to make a good Indian dessert. However I found some Milk powder hidden behind a few boxes in the pantry and I suddenly remembered how my aunt used to make some really delicious Rasmalai with Milk powder.

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Traditionally once has to use Cottage Cheese or Ricotta for a lot of Indian desserts, but this is a quick way to make soft fluffy dumplings boiled in some thickened Milk.

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Although I remembered the recipe a bit, I had to message my cousin (my aunt’s daughter) all the way in Canada, hoping they would be awake for her to get me the correct recipe. And thanks to my aunt and modern technology I was able to make the dessert and chill it just in time before D came home. And boy was he surprised when I served him the Indian dessert he was craving for.

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Recipe (cooking time 30 minutes)

1 cup Full fat Milk powder

1/2 cup Sugar

1 Liter Full fat Milk

1 tsp Baking powder

1 small Egg (beaten)

3 Cardamon pods

1 tsp Cardamom powder

Almonds & Pistachios to garnish

Few Saffron strands

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil

1) Heat milk in a wide and thick bottomed pan. Once the milk comes to its first boil, add the Sugar, Cardamom Pods and Saffron and reduce the flame, letting the milk thicken gently.

2) In a bowl add the beaten Egg, Milk powder, Cardamom powder and Baking powders and start mixing them into a dough. You will find that the dough will be really sticky which is fine. At this stage add a little Vegetable oil so it becomes easy to handle. If your Egg is big it you may need to add a little plain Flour to make it easy to roll the dough. Do not over knead, you just everything to be mixed into a dough.

3) Apply a little oil on your palms and start rolling little portions of the dough into small balls. It is important to keep the balls as small as you can as they will swell up once you add them in Milk.

4) Add the balls one by one in the thickened milk. Make sure at this stage the gas flame is really low and you want the balls to be cooked slowly, thru and thru.  DO NOT TOUCH the balls at this stage or they will break.

5) Add the Almond flakes and Pistachios and let them gently cook in the milk for another 10 minutes before they start floating on top and the milk has  thickened further.  Turn the heat off and let them cool down, before chilling them in the fridge.

Serve it chilled garnished with some Almonds, Pistachios and a strand or 2 of Saffron.

The post that almost did not happen – Saffron and Pistachio Ice Cream (Kesar Pista Kulfi)

This has been a full on week and I am glad it is getting over. Work kept me busy and my back ache brought me down. I also had a full on week for cooking for my blog and never got the chance to post anything for some reason or the other.

Then a few evenings ago while browsing around in the blogosphere I stumbled upon a lovely Australian blog The Kitchen Crusader. The blogger had made a gorgeous “Fig and Thyme Icecream” for the February SABH (sweet adventures blog hop).

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Blog hops are fun because they give you a chance to participate in events and connect with other bloggers. Having never done a blog hop in Australia I was keen to get started and introduce this new kid on the block to the other Australian bloggers. I was not sure what to make as Dessert is not my forte and honestly I did not have a lot of time at hand.

Since Indian cuisine is the predominant  on my blog, I thought I should make an Indian dessert. And nothing beats a “Kulfi”. Kulfi is the Indian version of Ice Cream. Traditionally made by boiling and reducing milk for hours, this gorgeous dessert can be back breaking work. But the results are fantastic. There are different versions of Kulfi and shops in India that specialize in them. When we were in India we used to seldom drive down to our favorite Kulfi shop after dinner to have our favorite flavor of Kulfi. I also remember that we used to get Kulfi walas (Men who sold Kulfi) coming with an Aluminum can full of Kulfi riding on their bicycle. The Kulfi sold by them used to be shaped like a Popsicle so it used to be easy for the kids to eat. There are so many fond memories associated with this dessert that I am actually smiling as I type this post.

Now my blog is not about slogging in the kitchen, also this being my very first entry in the Australian blog world I wanted the dessert to be super easy.

Thankfully Anshie from Spiceroots Came to my rescue as usual. She had an amazing and super easy Kulfi recipe on her blog which took literally less then 15 minutes to make without any actual cooking or heating. She had made it several times before and recommended it very highly to me . So I decided to use her recipe and make a Mango Kulfi since Mangoes were in season in Perth. And they are my favorite Fruit.

I brought some beautiful Mangoes in the hope of giving this a try but the Mangoes turned out to be very sweet. I was already using Condensed milk which would anyways make the Kulfi sweet. I  realized that adding Mangoes would just be an overkill. So I stuck to her original recipe and just used the Mangoes while serving as a garnish.

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We also spoke about various ways to serve the Kulfi. Even though “Anshie” had given me a lot of good suggestions, I wanted to try something else. I knew I had no dessert bowls and for some reason nothing caught my fancy. Coincidentally I stumbled upon this gorgeous Kitchen ware shop called Tableculture in Subiaco, that had some gorgeous cutlery on sale. A beautiful set of Royal Doulton dessert bowls immediately caught my fancy and I knew I had to buy them.

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The staff was friendly and courteous and took their time to show me around and offered some good recommendations. While I was at it I brought some Soup spoons and a very handy fruit and vegetable peeler. There were so many gorgeous pots and pans available I actually had to force myself out of the shop lest I overspend my budget.

So now I had all the ingredients available for the Kulfi and I made it last night before going to bed. And the first thing I did after brushing my teeth the next morning was take a bite. The Kulfi was soft and velvety and melted in my mouth. I was instantly overcome with a desire to throw away all the store brought ice cream and just live in a world that has Kulfi. Ofcoure “D” the eternal ice cream lover promised me that he will finish all the Ice cream and even the Kulfi, so I will have to throw nothing away.

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Here is the recipe (Making time – 15 minutes, setting time 4 hours or more)

1 can chilled sweet condensed milk (400 gms)

1 can chilled Evaporated milk (375 ml)

1 can chilled Whipping Cream (600 ml)

1 tbsp warm milk

few strands of Saffron

1/2 cup shelled Pistachios

1/2 tsp Cardamom powder

1 Mango chopped into pieces to garnish (optional)

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1) Heat the Milk and add the saffron in it. Keep aside.

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2) Add the Condensed milk and Evaporated milk in a  food processor or a use an electric beater to blend for 3 – 4 minutes on medium speed. Then add the Cardamom powder, Saffron milk and mix for 1 more minute. Keep it back in the fridge till you whip the cream.

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3) Whip the cream with a hand mixer till soft peaks are formed. This will take around 8 – 10 minutes. You need to be careful as too much whipping will actually start curdling the cream. So be careful when you do this. If the cream is cold it will help in whipping faster.

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4) Mix both the creams together gently till combined. Pour in a Plastic box and freeze for 4 hours or more till it sets.

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5) Serve it on its own or with slices of chopped Mango and taste the goodness.

Jugad Diwali Mithai – Last minute Kalakand

Oh my god I cannot believe it is Diwali already. Time has flown by literally and I am not prepared for one of the biggest festivals in the Hindu calendar. Not that I am very religious but it is good to hold on to your roots and follow a few traditions. 
I have been busy and caught up with work that I have not made a single sweet or savoury dishes that are made back home during Diwali and I feel really sad and homesick. Infact I feel so homesick that I had a little cry yesterday when no one was around. I miss all the festivities and the crackling electricity in the air during Diwali. I miss the frenzy of cooking sweets, cleaning the house, visiting relatives with gifts. 
I grew up in a very big house and I used to help my mother clean the entire house up. It was back breaking work and used to take us days but it was all so exciting. We used to shop for new clothes or buy new furniture for the house. Light the whole house with beautiful diyas and burst some crackers. My grandfather used to give us money to buy crackers and then I and my brother used to divide all the crackers in 6 bags, 1 for each of us for all 3 days. Obviously I used to get the non scary crackers and it was so exciting. 
As we went into our teens better sense prevailed and we stopped polluting the environment with crackers and just soaked in the essence of the festivities. 
Now I am so far away and it does not feel like Diwali. Living a rented apartment and having full time job sometimes restricts the kind of happiness that one can spread on a beautiful day like today. But today morning I decided I will atleast make something to usher in this newyear and goddess lakshmi in my house. So before I left for work I made a quick and simple dessert – Kalakand. 
It took me literally took less than 15 minutes to make it. I then left it to set all day so I could cut into beautiful pieces and tempt the goddess with this humble offering to be a regular visitor in my house. I have taken this recipe from http://tanu-triedntasted.blogspot.com.au/a very beautiful blog and I was very happy with this beautiful dessert which I modified a tad bit.
 

 Here is the recipe: (Cooking time 15 minutes, makes 10 pieces)
500 gms Ricotta Cheese or Paneer (I used Ricotta off the shelf but feel that Paneer would be better)
1 tin Sweetened condensed Milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 ½ tsp fresh Cardamom powder
1 Cup Milk (I did not use it but the original recipe calls for it if you use Paneer)
Slivered Almonds/ Pistachios and some Saffron for decoration
In a non stick pan add the Ricotta cheese or crumbled Paneer and let it cook on slow flame for a few minutes. If you are using the kind of Ricotta Cheese that I used you will notice that it will start loosing whey. 
Open the can of Condensed milk and add it to the Cheese stirring gently on the slow flame and let it cook for 10 minutes. Keep stirring as you go else the Cheese will burn. 
Add the Cardamom powder and let cook for further 5 minutes till it is slightly browned.  
At this point I had noticed that there was a bit of excess whey in the pan, so I strained some off leaving a little to help set the Kalakand. Lay it in a dish/pan and press gently in a layer that is not too thin. Sprinkle some nuts and Saffron liberally and leave it in the fridge to set for a few hours before you cut it into square/diamond shape very gently before you serve.

If the Kalakand has not set or crumbles you can put a portion in a beautiful glass and serve it crumbled. Top it up with some Almonds/Pistachios and it is delicious as well. Here is wishing everyone a very happy Diwali.