Sweet Khaaja

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This recipe is from my friends mom, Dr. K.R. She can make hundreds of these in no time.  It is a fairly easy sweet to make but I failed miserably the first time I made these and then actually saw aunty make this in person and figured out what went wrong.

A simple dough is shaped into long rolls, sliced, fried and drenched in a simple sugar syrup. The fried rolls absorb the syrup and changes the texture of the rolls and turns it into a sticky confection. A lot of Indian sweets follow this same pattern. Sweets like these are in a category of its own in Indian cooking. Maybe the equivalent of making cookies or fudge in western cultures.  Sweets play an important role in happy events and celebrations in India.  They are made to celebrate religious festivals, special occasions and given to friends and families as gifts.They can also be served as tea or coffee time snacks.They are fairly sweet so usually one piece will do.

So for Christmas, I offer you all a Khaaja. Have a great Holidays!

 

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Sweet Khaaja

2 cups All purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 stick Blue Bonnet margarine

1/2 c water

2 tbs rice flour

Oil for frying

Sugar syrup:

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light or dark Brown sugar

1.5 cups water

Method:

Melt the margarine and add 1/2 c water to it. In a mixing bowl add flour and salt and add the melted margarine. Knead into a soft and pliable dough for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Make the syrup by combining both the sugars and 1.5 c water. Bring to a boil and then shut heat down very low to keep warm.

Take the dough and divide into 2 sections. Take a section and roll out into a square as thin as possible. Sprinkle some oil all over surface except for one edge. Sprinkle rice flour onto oil and spread evenly all over surface. Starting at the edge with oil-rice flour mixture, start rolling into a tight swiss roll. When you come to edge that does’t have oil-rice flour mixture, smear little water and seal edges to roll. Now cut into about 1 inch sections. Then flatten them slightly with rolling pin.

Heat oil in a skillet on low flame. Add the khaaja pieces and fry slowly, once they start floating you can increase heat until they are golden brown. Remove from oil and add to warm syrup to coat.you can shut off the heat to the syrup.

Roll out the second dough ball as above and fry. When this batch is ready to remove from oil after frying, remove the first batch from sugar syrup and place on a tray and add the second batch to syrup. Served best when made fresh.

Tip: You can make these ahead of time by frying the roll pieces and then refrigerating them. When you want fresh Khaaja, place them on a baking sheet and warm them up in the oven and then place in warm sugar syrup as needed.

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Tropical Fruit Salad

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My sister was looking for a new fruit salad recipe for a wedding she needed to cook for. I told her about this recipe and thought I hadn’t made it in awhile. My husband loves fruit salad. It is similar to Frog’s Eye Fruit salad in that you add a very small round pasta called Acini de Pepe or the star shaped Stelline pasta. It gives the consistency of tapioca.

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Tropical Fruit Salad

Serves at least 10-15

Ingredients:

2 cans chunk pineapple

2 cans Mandarin oranges

4 containers of Del Monte Diced Mango–yields about 2 cups

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 block of Cream cheese, softened

1/2- 1 cup sugar, as per taste

1 cup uncooked pasta- Stelline or Acina de Pepe

1/2-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

3 tbs chopped nuts- walnuts/macadamia, hazelnuts–whatever you like

Handful marshmallows

Method:

In boiling water cook and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the reserved fruit juice and let sit in it for a few minutes until totally cool.

Take whipping cream and start whipping until it gets frothy. Add sugar gradually and then the very soft cream cheese. Whip until fluffy and thick. Combine all the drained canned fruits in a large bowl. Reserve some of the liquid.  Drain.

Combine the pasta to fruit and gently fold in the whipped cream to combine. Add coconut, nuts and marshmallows. Garnish with more nuts and refrigerate for an hour or 2 before serving.

Variations:

  • You can add mango pulp as you whip the  cream for added flavor.
  • May omit marshmallows if vegetarian.
  • Add fresh fruits if in season.
  • Delicious when topped on warm pound cake.
  • Layer with angel food cake for a light trifle.

Seviyan

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This a quick and easy dessert or sweet when you have company that drops in for tea/coffee or dinner. Also a good potluck item when you want to take something to a friends house and don’t know what to take. This has saved me on a few occasions. My dad used to like this (as well as Bananas foster and pineapple upside down cake) when I would whip this up quickly after eating dinner.

SEVIYAN

Ingredients:

3 cups fine vermicelli

2 tbs ghee/butter

2-3 cups water

1-2 cups sugar (per taste)

2 tsp cardamom pdr

chopped pistachios and sweet shredded coconut

Method:

Heat a frying pan and add 1 tsp or so of ghee. Add the thin vermicelli and roast until a light golden brown color. Add the water and cook until the vermicelli is soft and most of the water is reabsorbed. Keep Stirring. When cooked add the sugar and cardamom powder. When you add the sugar it may get watery again so keep stirring until most is reabsorbed. Add ghee.  Add the nuts and coconut. Transfer to a plate or tray. Smooth out and garnish with more nuts and coconut. It will get firm as it cools. You can cut it into pieces or serve warm.

Seviyan

Sweet Coconut and Cranberry Boondi

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This sweet is one of my favorites. It is made with a batter of Besan or chick pea flour that is fried then soaked in a sugar syrup. The basic part is the boondi (fried round balls of the besan batter) which you can turn into another sweet, the ladoo. Plain boondi can also be added to yogurt as a Raita.

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Sweet Coconut and Cranberry Boondi

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 cup besan flour

1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

saffron strands or few drops orange food color

1 tsp cardamom powder

1/2 cup sweet coconut flakes

2 tbs raw pistachio nuts, crushed finely

1/2 cup dried cranberries or Craisins

Ghee for frying

1 large slotted spoon or Boondi spoon

Method:

Sift the besan and add the water. Whisk well so there is no lumps. Make sure it is a easily pourable thin batter.

In a separate sauce pan add the sugar and 1/2 cup water and allow to boil. Turn off the heat when it reaches one string consistency. (See pic) Add a few drops of orange color or crush a few strands of saffron into syrup. Set aside.

Add ghee in a frying pan and put on medium heat. Hold the slotted spoon over the ghee and pour a ladle of the batter into the slotted spoon and allow it to flow through. Move spoon around gently. Do not move spoon around too fast or else we get long threads instead of round balls. This will take some practice. Allow to fry to a light yellow and with another slotted spoon scoop out boondi and drop into warm sugar syrup. Continue with rest of batter.

Mix the boondi in the syrup. It should absorb most of the syrup. Add cardamom powder.( At this stage if you pack them into tight golf ball sized balls it becomes ladoo.) Add the dried cranberry, pistachios and coconut. It’s done. As it stills it will become more dry and soak up all the syrup. Serve slightly warm.

Other variations- Instead of coconut and cranberries you can add raisins, chopped dates, almonds, cashews etc.

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* A Sweet Treat * Beet Root Halwa

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This is a recipe for my sister who liked it when she came over one day. It is quick and easy dessert. Halva or halwa is Arabic for sweet and served for special occasions. There are different types of halwa made from flour, dhals, some vegetables like carrot and bottle gourd. Some cities that specialize in a specific type of Halwa lend their names such as  Bombay Halwa, Kozhikode halwa etc.  Gajjar halwa or carrot halwa is fairly common and you can find this on most Indian restaurant buffets. The key for success in making these sweets are constant stirring to aid in evaporation of as much liquid as possible and lots of ghee. The sugar combined with the ghee produces a glistening texture to the sweet. Halwas are super sweet so a little goes a long way.

Beet Root Halwa has a rich color like no other and can be made with fresh beets. The drawbacks to using fresh beets are that they can taste muddy if not fresh, they are harder to grate and takes longer to cook. The canned beets work perfectly every time and are so easy to grate. This sweet tastes especially good when topped on plain vanilla ice cream when still a little warm. An impressive dessert for any guest!

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Beet Root Halwa

Serves 6-8 if serving by itself, serves 8-12 if topping ice cream

Ingredients:

A must—Plastic gloves

3 cans of Small Whole Beets ( 15 oz ea)

1 to 1 3/4 cup sugar (according to taste)

1/4 cup Ghee (clarified butter)

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 cup dedicated coconut flakes (can use sweetened coconut but then reduce the amount of added sugar)

1-2 tablespoons cashews or slivered almonds

Method:

Drain the canned beets. Put on rubber gloves and grate medium fine. The gloves are a must as it will stain. Squeeze out any excess water. In a large frying pan add a tsp of ghee and toast the nuts until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

To the same pan add few tablespoons of ghee and add sauté the beets for a few minutes. Keep stirring until most all the water is absorbed. Then add the milk . Cook for a few minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Add sugar, and continue stirring. The liquid may increase so keep stirring until most has evaporated. Drizzle a little more ghee and add the coconut and cardamom powder. The coconut will absorb the rest of the liquid. The mixture should be somewhat dry and glistening. And the toasted nuts and remove from stove. Serve hot or cold, can also serve with ice cream.

Zeppole Di San Guiseppe- For Father’s Day

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Don’t get scared reading the title of today’s post. Zeppole is an Italian pastry and this specific zeppole is made on the Feast of St Joseph on March 19 which is also Father’s Day in Italy. So it being Father’s Day here in the US and Feast Day for my husband’s family namesake I am making Zeppole Di San Guiseppe.

I am partial to Italian pastries, especially growing up on the east coast. In the town where I grew up there is an excellent Italian bakery—Di Mare’s Pastry Shop. (www.dimarepastry.com) Any birthday without a Di Mare cake would not be a birthday. It has been there since we moved to Old Greenwich, CT in the 70’s. This bakery is still going strong and always a destination when we visit home. Sometimes my kids and niece and nephew would visit there everyday during our stay for some of their specialties- Tiramisu cake, strawberry shortcake, Italian butter cookies, sfogliatelle, napoleons, pastries, etc. We would even try to bring back a box of their delicacies.

These Zeppole pastries are really a fritter of Pate a choux dough (used to make cream puffs) topped with a vanilla bean and lemony custard. There is nothing like a custard made with real vanilla beans. Splurge and get some, they will keep in your pantry for a long time. Many of you may not attempt this recipe but save the recipe for the custard—it is great! This basic custard can be used for other purposes like fruit salad, as a cake filling etc. or just by itself.

Zeppole di San Guiseppe

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

4 tbs unsalted butter

3 tbs sugar

Pinch of salt

250 ml water

1 1/4 cup flour

6 eggs

Maraschino cherry- garnish

For the Lemon Vanilla Custard:

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1 vanilla bean

Zest from one lemon

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

Method:

Make Custard:

In a sauce pan combine milk, cream, split vanilla bean an lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Remove the vanilla beans and scrape all the seeds into the milk and discard the pod. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl until light and yellow. Add the flour and combine well. Take a cup of the hot milk mixture and whisk into egg mixture ( called tempering) then add all the egg mixture into the sauce pan with the milk. Return to stove and while continuously whisking, heat gently until thick. About 3-4 mts. Remove from heat and cover surface with plastic wrap so a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate.

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Now make the Dough:

Combine the Water, butter, sugar, salt in a sauce pan and allow to boil. Sprinkle in the flour and get ready to mix well until it forms a smooth ball and comes away from the pan.Remove from stove and with a hand or stand mixer, add one egg at a time incorporating into flour dough. Will be a thickish mixture. Ensure to beat out any lumps. Put into a piping bag and let sit for 15-2o mts.

Cut pieces of foil and grease lightly with oil. Using a star tip, pipe out circular mounds approximately 3-4 inches. Heat oil in a frying pan and when hot add the piped dough with the aluminum foil. Gently pull out the foil as it fries. Fry until golden and drain on a paper towel. Take this fritter and top with the cooled custard and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

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They look perfect!

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Guest Post–Want Some More S’more Bars?

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Today is a guest post from none other than my daughter who is home for the summer from college. Enjoy!

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Hi everyone! For the past four months I haven’t been able to re-create any of my mom’s freshly baked desserts, due to the lack of kitchen appliances in my dorm. Upon arriving home, I was craving something sweet so I decided to make a  S’more bar complete with a graham cracker crust, warm melted chocolate and toasted fluffy marshmallows…YUM. S’mores are something that automatically takes me back to childhood summers so I couldn’t think of a better dessert to eat my first day of summer vacation.  I found a recipe online which seemed easy enough to try for my mid-afternoon dessert craving, however, I added chopped walnuts for a little added texture  and white chocolate chips in addition to the milk chocolate.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 cups milk chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 bag of big marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13×9-inch pan.

2. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.

3. Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 4 to 5 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered.

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These bars were super easy, and equally sweet. The graham cracker crust was chewy, and contrasted well with the smooth chocolate and warm marshmallows. Perfect for a quick midafternoon pick-me-up 🙂

Heavenly Rose Phirni

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I must give some credit for this recipe to Asha at http://www.selfveda.com and another friend GB. Adding fruits comes from Asha as her post shows. And adding rose syrup comes from GB. She actually served this on top of vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the inspiration! Wish my kids were here to try it:(

The coarse grinding of the rice gives this a custardy pudding like consistency.
I made this for church and think everyone enjoyed it.Someone said this was a very girly dessert! This is perfect for a party.

Rose Phirni

Serves 6-8
1  cup  Basmati rice
4 cups milk
1 c sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom pdr
1-2 tbs rose syrup
Strawberry ice cream topping or mango pulp ( can also use fresh fruits)
Sweet coconut flakes
Chopped pistachios, optional
Saffron dissolved in a tablespoon of milk

Method:
Rinse rice well and soak for 4 hrs. Grind slightly in food processor until somewhat grainy.
Boil milk in a heavy sauce pan. Add ground rice and stir continuously to avoid lumps. Cook for 10-15 mts, stirring frequently. When rice is cooked add sugar, rose syrup, and cardamom pd and saffron milk. Top with fruit topping, garnish with coconut and pistachios. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Here are some pics of how the rice should look and the Phirni made in a larger quantity. ( Also made Vellayappam for church)

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For Easter- Chocolate Nests

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I am posting this recipe before Easter if anyone wants to try making them before Sunday. I made these for a friend to practice it before making it. Sorry N. and N., you girls were the Guinea pigs! The both of them as well as my niece, M. will be making them for Easter and I will post their pictures when they are done.

These are soo cute as an Easter centerpiece and very easy to make. Enjoy!

Chocolate Easter Nests
Ingredients:

2 cups Chow Mein noodles ( these crunchy noodles can be found in the Asian section of any supermarket)
1 cup milk chocolate chips ( can use white/dark chocolate)
1/2 c shredded sweetened coconut
Few drops green food color
Egg shaped M&Ms
Cupcake/muffin  tray

Method:
Mix coconut with food color until uniformly mixed. Keep aside
Melt chocolate in the microwave at 30 sec intervals mixing in between. Should be smooth and melted. Do not overheat or the chocolate will separate. (Melt chocolate in small batches if making a large quantity)
Mix the noodles in a little at a time  into the melted chocolate and coat well. You may need more or less of the noodles. Place plastic wrap onto muffin tray wells and press chocolate mixture into it. Depress the center slightly. Rim the edges with the coconut and place in refrigerator for 15-20 mts until hardened. Remove from tray and place 3 eggs in center of nest. Makes about 10-12 nests. More if you use a smaller muffin tray  and shallower depth.

Variations- You can use white chocolate  instead of milk chocolate and color the coconut pink and put mini peeps in the nest. You can also use pretzel sticks instead of the noodles. This would make a nice Easter centerpiece if displayed on a large tray with scattered peeps and eggs.

Happy Easter!!

Jhangri- An Indian Funnel cake

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There are two versions of this bright orange colored sweet found everywhere in India’s bakeries or made fresh street side. Jilebi and Jhangri that look similar in size, shape and color. But both are made with different ingredients. Jilebi is made with all purpose flour and requires some fermentation with the addition of yeast or yogurt. Jhangri is made with a dhal or lentil called Urad dhal.
Jhangri is also thicker in texture than Jilebi.
Here is my attempt at Jhangri… The shape may not be exact but came close enough.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Urad dhal
Pinch of salt
Orange food color
Water for grinding
For Sugar Syrup:
2 c sugar
1 c water
Few cardamom pods
Orange food color
A squeeze of lemon juice

Method:
Rinse and soak urad for at least 4 hrs.
Drain water and grind in food processor with water until a smooth batter is formed.Add salt and a few drops of orange color.
Prepare syrup by combining sugar, water, color until boiling and 1 thread consistency. Add a little lemon juice to prevent syrup from crystallizing.

Now heat oil in a shallow frying pan. Put batter in a ziplock bag and make a small hole so the batter will come out in a thin ribbon.

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Oil should not be too hot…. Pipe batter in a circular motion ( like a funnel cake)
Flip when puffed up and cooked. Immediately put into warm sugar syrup. Let soak for a minute or so and place on tray. Garnish with crushed nuts is wanted.

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