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Diwali 2013

10 Nov

One week after Diwali, our Tamil community here planned a celebration yesterday.
Lot of sweets, everyone in celebration mood, Diwali seemed to have extended a week longer to keep up the mood. But this time we did something in addition to the usual celebration.

Hubby dear took a break from his work and worked together with a charity organization in India. Together with Directorate of Education in Dharamshala, he helped to setup a curriculum for schools in ‘Creative Computing’. This is a four year curriculum being implemented in two schools as a Pilot run. I could see that how satisfied he was during and after such  work. He also supported the organization to sell community made products by starting an ECommerce project. This will let them generate continuous fund for their charity work and help local community to have a sustainable income.

I have been thinking to do some something like this for a long time…As my part, I wanted to support him and and do not know how and where to start. Surprisingly some idea struck me and without any delay I went for it.
There was only two days left for Diwali celebration and get together with friends…

I decided to set up a small sweet stall to raise some fund. I made varieties of sweets and savories to sell. We collected some money for charity as most of my friends were supportive for the good cause. We are quiet happy to raise some money to support the ECommerce initiative. Although not a huge amount, I am quiet happy that I am able to contribute a very small part of it… My heartfelt thanks to all my friends who supported me on this.
Looking forward to do another event when I get a chance…..

Boondi Ladoo

Almond Pinwheel sweet

Fried gram Murukku

Jalebi

Sweets ready to be packed…Sweet platter

I Wish everyone HAPPY DIWALI 2013….

 
7 Comments

Posted in Sweet

 

Mango Payasam (a divine taste…)

26 Jun

If  it is a traditional Indian dessert, then Payasam is number one in the list. It is also called as Kheer or Firni  in northern part of India. In South India Payasam is made during festivals and occasions. This is one of the simplest Indian dessert. Milk is the main ingredient and other ingredients that can be added up like rice, sago, vermicelli or lentils together with sugar or Jaggery. Cardamom is a spice  flavoring  finally added to give a wonderful aroma.  The Cooking method is very simple. To make simple Payasam, slow boil the milk until it gets thick and condensed. Then add cooked rice and sugar and finally the flavoring. Usual topings are fried dry fruits and nuts. It can be served as warm or chilled.

Payasam can be compared to rice pudding from other countries.Payasam can be like thin to thick soup consistency. I personally tried most of the Indian  Payasam’s, Firni’s and Kheer. I have tried MilchReis which is a german dessert made with milk and rice and cinamon flavor. This has very thick consistency and they use special rice called milch rice and it is slightly chewey.   Lot of Asian, European, African countries have the Rice Pudding dessert in their cuisine with slight variation. You can check this in Wiki.

This Mango Payasam is a variation from the traditional Payasam. Slow boiling of milk can be avoided by using condensed milk or creamed milk or milk maid.  The taste of the dish also depends upon the taste of the Mango.  I have used store bought Alphonso Mango pulp and it has a standard taste. Here is the recipe and ingredients….

Ingredients:

  1. Mango Pulp – 1 cup
  2. Milk – 3 cups
  3. Codensed Milk – 1 cup( substitute can be Creamed milk or milk maid)
  4. Sugar – 3/4 cup
  5. Sago – 1/4 cup
  6. Vermicelli – 1/4 cup
  7. fried mixed dry fruits and nuts – 1/4 cup
  8. some mango pieces for garnishing.

Method:

1. Add enough water to sago pearls in to a bowl and cook in a medium flame. Change water in between if needed.(while cooking the liquid becomes starchy)

2. Cook until the sago pearls are transparent.

3. Add milk and condensed milk to the pot and cook until the milk boils. Now add the vermicelli and cook until 3/4th done. Now add the sago and sugar and let

it stay for 5 min in a low flame and switch of the flame.

4. Let the Payasam rest for about 20 min to cool down. Now add the Mango pulp and mix it. Addition of cardamom is not necessary as it has already mango flavor.

4.  Garnish the Payasam with dried fruits and nuts.  Add any chopped mango pieces on top. Serve it chilled.

I tried Mango Payasam with rice but this one with Sago and Vermicelli is the best. While i am posting this recipe now, it has been tried several times at home and included in my standard recipe.I shared with some of my friends and they liked it. Hope you like it!.

 
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Posted in Dessert

 

Thirunelveli Halwa- A sweet delicacy!

04 Mar

The First time when i made this sweet was during my school days. Somewhere i read this recipe and made it. It came out good at the first time. This Sweet is so close to me as it reminds me of my childhood memories. My father used to buy this sweet from  a place called Thirunelvi, a region in southern part of Tamilnadu. The sweet is named after this city’s name. Though there are many different varieties to Halwa, this is something unique that i have come across.

The Preparation itself is a 4 step process. At first, wheat kernels have to be soaked overnight. Second, wet grinding the wheat and extracting the wheat milk. Third leaving it to rest for another 8 hrs. The fourth and the last step is the final preparation.  In Indian sweet shops, this halwa wont be having this cube  form as it is in this picture. As it is too soft and not stable, it will be difficult to make perfect square. Usually it is shapeless and scooped, weighed and sold in kilograms.

It feels like very soft jelly like although it is not completely jelly, and melts in mouth in no minutes. If you are diet conscious please stay one step back because once u try a spoon of it, you may feel addicted to it and may try to finish it.

Last Diwali, I made this sweet and shared with our friends. Got some nice comments from them and especially, D requested me for this recipe. So here goes the recipe….

Ingredients

  1. Wheat Milk – 1 , 1/2 cup ( from 1 cup of wheat kernels)
  2. Sugar – 3 cups
  3. Indian Clarified Butter(Ghee)- 1 ,1/2 cups
  4. Almonds – sliced 1/4 cup
  5. Powdered Cardamom –   Blend 5 cardamom pods and 2 Tbs Sugar to get fine powder
  6. Food color – a pinch of red and green each..

Method:

1. Soak the wheat Kernels with sufficient water for 7 to 8 hours preferably overnight.

2. Drain the water and wash the grains with fresh water.

3. Add the wheat and some water to a blender jar and blend it until coarse to smooth consistency.  Take a big  bowl using a strainer pour this ground mixture.

You can see that the wheat milk is getting collected and use a spoon to help drain the liquid thoroughly.

4. Take the husk or the outer layer of wheat which remains in the strainer, and add some more water and blend it and then strain it. Repeat this whole process,

blending, straining 2 to 3 times. Please be liberal in adding water at this point.

5. Leave this wheat milk in a kitchen corner undisturbed to atleast 5 to 6 hrs. The traditional recipe (which i remember from my long memory) will call to leave this milk  overnight, for 8 hrs. It does two things basically, one is to separate the water from this batter and the other is to let ferment.

6. This  liquid will look like pancake batter. After all the resting time, you can see the water is separated and solid white part of it stays down. Now take this bowl near to the sink and slightly tilt the vessel such that the clear water is removed. You may notice, the last couple of spoons of water will be difficult to be removed, let it be.  With 1 cup of Wheat you may get 1 and half cup batter.

7. Now we are all set to prepare this delicious sweet. Take a good flat non stick pan and add this batter and 4 cups of water. .Now switch on the heat and keep it to medium to low medium heat in the overall process.

8. When this mixture slightly starts boiling add in the sugar and keep stirring.

9. After some time you may notice, the mixture gets into thick batter consistency and now add it half of ghee and mix it.

10. Then on you can add the remaining ghee from time to time and fully incorporate it. Add in color if desired.

11. This whole cooking process may require 1 hr to 1.5 hrs. You may have to stop cooking when u see that the halwa has come together in to a lump.

12. The excess ghee which is floating on top can be removed with the help of spoon.

13. Finally finish it with cardamom and sliced almonds.

14. You can leave it like this. OR Take a steel plate or tray, apply ghee all over the plate. Spread this mixture and leave it until it cools down.

15 . With a sharp knife, slice it  and enjoy this by serving it warm. ( you may not get perfect cubes as the Halwa is too soft and unstable to handle.)

 
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Posted in Sweet

 

Avacado Stuffed Sweet Pepper Salad

07 Feb

Got this lengthy red sweet paprika from market last week. This time i decided to make this salad as i liked the vibrant red color and decided to prepare a dish as it is. At the same time an Avacodo was ripened  and ready to get picked up by me from the fruit basket. I made this salad for our dinner and it was simply delicious, Do try it and let me know how did you like it.?

Ingredients:

  1. Lengthy Red Sweet Pepper – 1
  2. Avacado – 1
  3. Walnuts – 8 nos, roasted and coaresly chopped
  4. Shallots – finely chopped 2 Tbs
  5. Lemon juice – from half a lemon
  6. Corriander leaves – finely chopped 1 Tbs
  7. Salt as needed
  8. Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  9. Green chilli – finely minced 1/4 tsp (optional)
  10. Balsamico(dark) – a little for final dressing

Method:

1. Skin the Avacado and add it to a bowl and mash it roughly.

2. Now add Shallots, lemon juice, corriander leaves,salt, sugar, chilli and finally Walnuts and give it a good mix.

3. Chop the top of the pepper and remove any seeds.

4. Stuff the Avacado mix inside with the help of spoon until it fills up all the space.

5. Arrange the pepper in the plate and slice it as you like. Add Balsamico sauce to add extra punch to the salad.

 
 

Yummy Baklava and my 100th post…

20 Jan


I am very happy to post this sweet as my 100th post.  One of the sweets, which I have underestimated by its simple ingredients and preparation method, until I tasted it first time. A Colleague of mine, who is from Turkey, had brought some authentic Baklava’s to office.  As I tasted, I felt the crispy sweet & buttery layered sheets with the richness of crunchy nuts(Walnuts). I could not stop going for the next one. Since then, I have been trying to find out the filo pastry sheets from German supermarkets and couldn’t find on. So, I  tried to make it with ready made Puff pastry and with Spring roll pastry, but it was not anywhere near to the original taste.

After a long time, I was lucky to find it in one of the Turkish market from the next city. I also got some good quality of de-skinned Pistachios, which is one of the key ingredient for the overall taste.

The Procedure for making it is very simple. Apply melted butter on every layer of sheets and lay the coarse crushed nuts in between one of the bottom layers. Bake it until golden brown and finish it by pouring with sugar or Honey sirup afterwards.

We enjoyed making it with 24 layers and Riya helped me in buttering the layers.

Ingredients:

  1. Filo Pastry sheets – 1 pkt ( I used 450 gms, approx 60*60 of 12 sheets)
  2. Butter – 250 gms
  3. Sugar – 2 cups
  4. Lemon juice- few drops
  5. Almonds – blanched, dry and chopped finely
  6. Pistachios-blanched , dry and chopped or coarsely ground
  7. Flavoring – any flavoring of your choice (optional)

Method:

1. First make the Sugar sirup. Add Sugar with a cup of water and boil for 15-20 mins. Add few drops of lemon juice.

2. While sugar sirup is getting ready, prepare the tray for baking baklava sheets. Lay the sheets in a tray such that it fits in all the sides of the tray. I had 12 long sheets which i had cut it  and used as 24 sheets, which was fitting my tray and as well. 12 sheet layered Baklava was anyway was too thin.

3. Melt the Butter. Just as it melts in to liquid, switch off the heat. Butter the tray, lay the first sheet, butter it, lay the second sheet and butter it, and continue until 8 layers and now fill in the nuts.

4. Nuts filling should be sweet, so add either couple of spoons of sugar sirup or sugar to the nuts. (Nuts and sugar can be ground together and used for garnishing) and fill in top of 8th layer. One can choose in which layer to add the filling. I have chosen 8th layer as the sweet will have good stability to hold the nuts. I used Pistachios for half of the layer and Almonds for other half.

5. Continue layering and applying butter till you reach the last sheet.

6. Before putting the tray in oven, use a sharp knife to cut the layered sheets into small pieces. Smaller shapes lets sugar syrup to soak-in nicely at step 8.

7. Preheat the oven for 170C and bake it for 30-35 mins at 150C in the middle rack of oven. You could see the Bakalava pieces dance with melting butter and turn light  brown on the top.

8. Remove from oven and pour the sugar sirup all over while the baked baklava is hot. The Sugar sirup can be medium hot while pouring.

9. Leave for it for few hours to let the Baklava’s to absorb the sugar sirup. Serve it in a plate with ground nuts on top.

 
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Posted in Dessert, Sweet