Christmas time is always a nostalgic time and these diamond cuts always recreates memories of those long gone. My paternal grandmother would make these fired, crispy, sugar coated snacks when we would visit her in Kottayam over the summer. Being a diabetic, she would reserve some without adding the sugar coating. When my dad would visit us in Muncie he would ask me and my mom to make these crunchy snacks so probably reminded him of his dear mom too. I make these every Christmas and this year decided to use them as favors. The cumin seeds added to the sugar syrup makes it perfect. It is a great accompaniment with a cup of afternoon coffee or tea. There is a North Indian version called Shakara para but I think they add sugar to only the dough and no sugar coating on the outside like these diamond cuts.
Kerala Diamond Cuts
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tbs ghee
Sugar syrup– 1 cup sugar and 4 tbs water, 1 tsp cumin seeds—combine together and bring t a boil and set aside
Combine the flour, salt, baking pdr, cardamom pdr, powdered sugar and ghee. Rub together to incorporate all the ghee and add water little by little to make a soft dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 20 mts. In the meantime make the sugar syrup and set aside.
Take sectioned balls of dough and roll out onto a floured surface into a fairly thin sheet. Use a knife or pastry cutter and make vertical strips and then cut on the bias diagonally.
Heat up oil in a frying pan and deep fry diamonds a deep golden brown. After frying all the dough, sprinkle the sugar syrup over the cuts and toss until all is coated and glistening. Spread out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. I added some colored sprinkles due give them a festive flair. Allow to air dry, tossing intermittently. Once all have dried, transfer to an air tight tin.
For our SAMA FEST dinner we came up with colorful centerpieces that were easy to make and elegant. My friend made a multicolor peacock out of construction paper and had them color copied. I added the candle part. We found 3 royalty free indian designs and had it printed on gold Vellum paper ( available at any craft store). This acetate type paper is somewhat translucent so that when you put a light source behind it, it will shine through. We wrapped the vellum paper around a standard glass vase and added a matching ribbon.
When I printed the paper, the red was not as bright as I would like so went over it with a sharpie.
It almost looked like printed silk fabric.
For the hall decorations, my friend, AR, made multicolor peacocks out of fabric and glitter paper onto large poster boards. She then hot glued black ribbon to the back and we tied them to the pillars in the hall. Here are some of her beautiful creations.
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.
Tropical Fruit Salad
Serves at least 10-15
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
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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.
- Spicy Seviyan (Vermicelli) (chefdivya.wordpress.com)
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.
Sweet Coconut and Cranberry Boondi
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
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.
- Boondi raita (sumanapbhat.wordpress.com)
- Boondi Ladoo Recipe (cravecookclick.com)
This year I am on the local Indian Association board. We plan about 3-4 events per year and the first one was a potluck dinner with a Bollywood theme—Bollywood in the Ballroom. We had about 125 people come and enjoy, dinner, Bollywood charades and dancing. There was a lot of organizational teamwork involved but our Board had a blast doing it. We served things like Foot Path Falafel, Delhi Belly Chicken Curry, Veer-Zaara Veg curry, Kohinoor Pulao and Dhobhi Ghat Aloo Gobhi.
- Here are the centerpieces we came up with that can be used for any party. I printed Bollywood movie posters onto Vellum paper ( a transparent acetate like paper that can be found at any crafts store-JoAnns, Michaels etc) I cut them out taped them into a cylinder and put a led light in the center. We chose multicolor table cloths and for the center got black poster board and trimmed the edges with plastic film reel strip. We added old DVDs and some plastic Mardi gras beads ( worked as favors too).Turned out very nicely and not costly at all.
You can use this same technique for any party… For graduations/birthdays/ anniversaries—copy pictures of the graduate or special person onto a Word document and then print them out onto the vellum paper. As your are printing the image, stand by the printer and take it out immediately as the wet ink will make the paper curl, especially darker images. Don’t touch the image as it will smudge. Place on a flat surface immediately to allow ink to dry. Cut it out and just tape the edges to make a cylinder. I printed 2 images on one sheet and the 3rd by itself and cut them out….so its a 3 sided image.
These are easy, inexpensive and personalized….all things that I love.