An Apple Crumble from Brussels

Its funny how our paths cross with people who don’t even know us and somehow they make an impact in our lives by doing something for us or giving us their precious time to help us learn and grow. 
In the past few months I have met many such people on the face book group “Chef At Large” who have become friends and fellow cooking buddies. Apolina from one such person who has touched my life in her own special way. She is a fellow Mumbaikar based in Brussels and is an amazing baker. Last week she offered to teach me how to bake beautiful Dinner rolls and an Apple Crumble on Skype. Well who was I to say no. So a time and date was set and ingredients were gathered for the big day.
I was extremely nervous when the time came because my baking skills leave a lot to be desired and she is a professional. However all my fears were dumbfounded because she immediately put me at ease with her huge smile and easy going attitude that for a minute I felt that she was right in my kitchen and not in a different continent. 
She started teaching me the basics of baking bread/rolls and I got so excited with the way my rolls were shaping up that I completely forgot to take pictures and write down the ingredients. So while I try and figure the recipe out with Apolina’s help I decided I will atleast blog about the beautiful Apple Crumble which was so easy to make and such a delicious treat. 
The best thing about this recipe is you always have most ingredients available in your pantry. The original recipe asks from Granny Smith Apples but I used normal Red apples and honestly did not feel the difference. 
I cannot thank Apolina enough for doing this with me. I now feel I am confident enough to churn out such a classic dessert without breaking into a sweat.
Recipe – (Preparation time 45 minutes including baking time, serves 4)

For the Crumble
300g plain flour, sieved pinch of salt 
175g unrefined brown Sugar 
200g unsalted Butter 
For the Filling
450g Apples (you can use Pears instead of Apple and get a lovely Pear tart)
50g unrefined brown Sugar 
1 tbsp plain Flour 
1 pinch of ground Cinnamon
Water and Juice of half a Lemon for storing the Apples

Peel and dice the Apples into small cubes and put them in a bowl of fresh water with some Lemon juice. The Lemon juice would prevent the Apples turning dark.

Chop the cold Butter into really small chunks and keep it aside. You can also use melted Butter at room temperature.
In a bowl add the Flour, Sugar and Butter for the Crumble and start mixing them slowly with your hands till the mixture starts to resemble Bread crumbs. You need to rub the Butter well to ensure there are no lumps. Keep this mixture aside. If you feel that you have made a lot of Crumble you can store the remaining mixture in an airtight container in your fridge for up to one week and use it to make more Apple Crumble. 

Drain the water from the Apples and add the Flour, Cinnamon powder and Sugar we have taken for the filling and mix well. The Flour will drain out any extra juices that the Sugar and Apples will release.

Grease an oven proof dish with some Butter and add the Apple filling in it. Sprinkle the Crumble mixture very gently on top of the filling. You need to ensure you do not use a spoon to press the Crumble in else you will have a Cookie like coating instead of a Crumble. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for around 30 minutes till the Crumble has become beautifully Golden. 

Serve with some Vanilla Ice cream or whipped fresh Cream.

A special dessert for 2 baby showers – Sooji Halwa (Sheera)

Today is a special day because two of my really good friends A and M are having their respective Godh Bharai function (Baby shower) in India. I miss all the excitement and would have loved to be there with them during this special time of their lives. However, life often betrays us of certain joys but hey who’s complaining.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 presetSo I decided I would make something really special for them and their little ones and maybe my good wishes and prayers will reach them both today and they would feel my love too when pampered by loved ones today.

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Godh bharai is a very auspicious and important ceremony for an expectant mother. Its actual meaning is to fill the lap. The mother to be is dressed up in all the finery and friends and relatives shower her with blessings and gifts. Traditionally it is done in the 7th month of the pregnancy and is usually hosted by the maternal side of the family. There would be food, singing and some dancing all in the anticipation of the beautiful little baby that will soon change everyone’s life.In India we make Desserts during special occasions as a good omen. Now I am not very good at making Indian Desserts but I felt that this occasion called for it. And I decided to give Sooji Halwa a try.

Sooji Halwa basically is sweetened Semolina topped with some choicest of dry fruits.  Like any typical Indian preparation there are various variations to it.

I have taken the simple way and hoping that all my love for both A and M and their babies would make the Halwa taste great.


Here is the recipe: (Cooking time 30 mins)

2 tbsps Ghee (Clarified Butter)

1 cup fine Sooji Flour (Rava/Semolina)

1 ½ cup Sugar

3 cups Water (You can use Milk instead of Water. Milk elevates the taste of the Halwa however if you wish to make excess Halwa and relish it for a few days use Water)

½ Tsp Cardamom powder Or 3 Cardamoms split open

Raisins, Cashew nuts to decorate

A pinch of Salt

Heat the 3 cups Water/Milk in a Pan adding the Sugar in it till the Sugar completely dissolves. If using Cardamom pods instead of powder add the pods in this Syrup with the Sugar. Once the Sugar is dissolved put the Syrup aside. (You will notice the syrup I have made is dark brown in color that is because I have used Raw Sugar instead of the plain White one).

Take a heavy bottom pan and add a little Ghee to fry the Cashewnuts. Once the Cashews are roasted and a little brown put them aside for garnishing later.

In the same pan add the remaining Ghee and the Semolina and start roasting it on a slow flame. You need to be careful as Semolina burns easily, so be gentle and nice to get the best results. Add the pinch of Salt now as it will balance the Sugar if the Halwa gets too sweet.

You will know the Semolina is cooked when you see that it has turned a shade darker. (if you are using Cardamom Powder add it at this stage) Now add the water slowly step by step to the pan.

You have to be careful here as the minute the water hits the pan it will start to splutter all over. So make sure you are standing at a distance when doing it.

Keep stiring till the Semolina has soaked up all the water and you can see Ghee leaving the pan. Top it with Raisins and roasted cashewnuts and serve hot.

This halwa can be eaten with Puris and just on its own as well. It is laden with Ghee and Cashewnuts which are proven to be good for  pregnant women. So while I eat 2 bowls of this amazing dish (one for both the babies) you guys enjoy the pictures.