HAPPY DIWALI !!!
The festival of lights and sweets is here again and this time I am planning on serving baked yogurt as a part of my Diwali dinner. This is one of the easiest and quickest desserts I have made. There is plenty of room to make changes and innovations to make it even more delicious and different each time. I am sure you will enjoy it just as much as my family and friends do every time I make it. -Mona
3-4 ground cardamons
2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup grated jaggery
ground pistachio or almonds for garnishing
Preheat the oven at 325 F.
Mix all the ingredients and lightly beat until well blended.
Pour into ramekins, garnish and bake for 12-14 minutes until slightly firm.
Serve chilled or warm.
Kulcha is a delicious type of Indian leavened flatbread, very popular in North India, and typically serve with Chana (chickpeas)
. The recipe is super easy and can be made on the stove top or baked in the oven. Try it with the chana masala recipe. -Shalini
Flour - 2 cups
Yogurt - 5 tbs
Milk - 5 tbs
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Oil - About 2 tbs
1 tbs nigella seeds (optional)
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl.
- Mix well and knead into a smooth dough. The dough should sort of be the consistency of playdough. If it is too sticky add a little more flour, or if it is too flaky and dry and a little more milk or yogurt.
- Once the dough is prepared, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Now divide the dough into small balls about the size of a lemon.
- Dip the ball in some flour and then roll it out into a round or oval shape about 6 to 7 inches in diameter or length. You can sprinkle some nigella seeds and roll them into the flattened dough.
- If you plan on making these on the stove top, eat a flat pan or skillet until is hot (about 2 minutes). Then add the rolled out kulcha and cook for about 1 minute on each side or until there are brown spots and the bread puffs up.
- Alternatively, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the rolled out kulchas on a lined and greased pan and bake about 6 to 7 minutes or until kulchas have brown spots and rise.
- Serve warm with Chana Masala.
Diwali is fast approaching - Sunday, November 3 this year. Chana Masala and Kulcha is a very popular snack/dish in North India. I remember eating this frequently during our lunch hour at school. I also love serving this as a meal for guests at Diwali parties at my place. It is super easy to prepare and everyone loves it. The great thing about the kulchas is that you can just bake them which makes it very quick and simple to prepare and serve. The last thing you want to do is prepare the kulchas individually to serve them to your guest. My Chana Masala recipe is also super quick and easy. You can use canned chickpeas or get fresh chickpeas (this would have to be soaked in water overnight). For my dish shown in the picture above, I actually used fresh chickpeas. The recipe is below and this is a great Diwali meal option. -Shalini
Serving Size - 2
One 16 oz chickpeas can (drained)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup of tomato puree
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole black cardamoms
1 tbs chaat masala (available in all Indian grocery stores)
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbs chopped coriander
2 tbs oil
Click here for KULCHA recipe.
- Heat oil over medium heat.
- Add the cinnamon stick and black cardamom. Heat until cinnamon stick swell a bit.
- Add onion and cook until golden brown (about 7 to 8 minutes).
- Then add the rest of the ingredients - ginger, garlic, tomato puree, jalapeño, chaat masala and garam masala and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and simmer for about 7 to 10 minutes or until the curry is nice and thick.
- Add coriander leaves and sliced onions on the top and serve warm.
I have been trying to eat healthy for a while now and the biggest obstacle to reaching this goal for me is my sweet tooth. As such I am always looking for healthy desserts and remember reading about this interesting and quick recipe while back when I was looking for low calorie, raw dessert recipes. Last week I picked up a big box of dates from Costco and whipped up these sweet and tasty treats. These are healthy and rich so just one little piece is very satisfying. - Mona
Core Ingredients & Flavoring-
3-4 ground cardamoms
1 cup dates
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup cacao powder
Put all the ingredients in a blender/food processor and mix to a smooth consistency.
Press onto a lined baking dish or tray and put in the refrigerator for atleast 30 minutes to set.
Cut into small square inches and enjoy a healthy dessert/ snack
Brownies are enjoyed immensely in our family, so much so that my 2 and half years old daughter Nina who helps me bake these knows all the ingredients and when asked can rattle them off at the top of her head. This time I decided to experiment with my usual recipe to give it a slight but interesting twist. I added cardamom powder and ground fennel seed which made these even more delicious especially when I served them warm with a scoop ice cream - Mona
Servings - 9-12
Core Ingredients and Flavorings-
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs or 4 egg whites
1/2 cup oil
1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"x9" baking dish and set aside.
Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, cardamom and fennel powders.
Add the eggs, vanilla, oil, milk and walnuts and stir until all the ingredients have formed a smooth and thick batter.
Pour into the baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.
Enjoy the brownies warm or cool with or without ice cream.
My dear brother and sister-in-law, Shekhar and Aparna, got me the Top Chef cookbook as a gift for my anniversary and I just tried out this super delicious dish with Middle Eastern spiced pulled pork and pickled vegetables. I really can't wait to try the other recipes. But this was a great first one to try. This was from Season 1, episode 5 - the challenge was to fuse two of San Francisco's culinary cultures in a new kind of street food. The Ras Al-Hanout (Middle Eastern spice blend) renders such a wonderful flavor to the slow cooked pork, and the tangy and spicy pickled carrots, onions and jalapenos balance out the dish so well. Worth it! Totally worth it!! - ShaliniIngredients:
One 4 -5 lb bone-in-pork butt, trimmed
2 tbs ras al-hanout**
I cup low-sodium veal stock
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
(note, I did not have veal stock so just used chicken stock)
3 cups red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tbs fennel seeds
4 carrots, cut into julienne
1 red onion, cut into julienne
3 fresh jalapeno chiles, thinly sliced
4 fresh pocketless pitas or other flatbread or fresh corn tortillas
(I used Middle Eastern flatbread)Directions:
For the Pork:
- Pre heat the oven to 275 degrees F.
- Season the pork generously with salt and ras al-hanout.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the pork and cook until well browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total.
- Put the pork in a large roasting pan and pour in the stocks and 1/2 cup water. Roast for 4 to 5 hours, until the pork is tender enough to pull apart with a fork.
- Remove the pork to a cutting board and pour the cooking juices into a small sauce pan. Cook the juices over high heat until reduced to about 3/4 cup: shred the pork into bite size pieces, discarding the bones. In a large bowl, toss the pork with the reduced juices.
For the Pickled Vegetables:
- In a large nonreactive pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, fennel and 3 cups water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Put the carrots, onion and chilis in a large heatproof bowl. Pour the hot vinegar mixture into the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the vegetables steam for 20 minutes. Pour out all but about 1 cup of the liquid. Keep the vegetables covered in a refrigerator. Bring to room temperature when ready to serve.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the pitas one at a time.
- Pile the pork onto the pitas, top with pickled vegetables and serve immediately.
**RAS AL-HANOUT - is a Moroccan spice blend that is readily available in specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets. You can also make it at home pretty easily.
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Simply combine and store.
These soft, creamy and sweet delights were one of my favorite Indian sweets growing up. A specialty of Calcutta, where I grew up they were called the "kaccha gola sandesh". Since its not very easy to find a sweet shop selling these here in California, I decided to try my hand at preparing this delicacy in my own kitchen. I used my two favorite flavors chocolate and mango.They were fairly easy to make and turned out delicious! Since they are milk based its best to eat them fresh.-MonaIngredients:
Core Spices and Flavoring-
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
1/2 pound grated fresh paneer
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup milk powder
2 tbs cocoa powder
2/3 cups fine powdered or confectioners sugar
1/3 cup ripe mango cut into small cubes
few strands of saffron (optional)Directions:
Grate the paneer
, mix in the evaporated milk and knead into a soft dough.
Add 2/3 cups milk powder and continue to knead until a soft and slightly firm dough is formed.
Divide the dough into two parts and add cocoa powder, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup milk powder to one part. Make small balls out of this and coat with cocoa powder and sugar powder to get delicious chocolate sandesh.
Mix mango pieces, remaining milk powder, sugar , cardamom powder and saffron to the second part and roll out small balls to form sweet mango delights.
Prepare and set in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.
This one goes out to all women. And a special shout out to all Smithies!! My cousin Nami and I, both Smith graduates, baked this delicious Julia Child's favorite, and future Smithie - Maya, my daughter joined in the baking fun and my son Krish got to do a little bit of tasting. A truly light, melt in your mouth cake. And the frosting, really not sure if there are any words to describe this silky smooth and creamy topping. The addition of our spiced chai (please note that for the purpose of the cake I did not add milk when I brewed the tea) to the cake adds such a wonderfully subtle flavor without taking away from the basic essence of the cake. This would be my most recommended cake of all the cakes I have ever baked. - Shalini
Below is the recipe as taken directly from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The only change I have made is the addition of the chai.Reine de Saba avec Glaçage au Chocolat
(Chocolate and Almond Cake with Chocolate Icing)
This extremely good chocolate cake is baked so that its center remains slightly underdone; overcooked, the cake loses its special creamy quality. It is covered with a chocolate-butter icing, and decorated with almonds. Because of its creamy center it needs no filling. It can be made by starting out with a beating of egg yolks and sugar, then proceeding with the rest of the ingredients. But because the chocolate and the almonds make a batter so stiff it is difficult to fold in the egg whites, we have chosen another method, that of creaming together the butter and sugar, and then incorporating the remaining items.Yield:
For an 8-inch cake serving 6 to 8 peopleIngredients:For the Cake:
4 ounces or squares semisweet chocolate melted with 3 Tb chai brewed in water not milk (see recipe here)
1/4 lb. or 1 stick softened butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 Tb granulated sugar
2/3 cup pulverized almonds
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup cake flour (scooped and leveled) turned into a sifterFor the Icing:
2 ounces (2 squares) semisweet baking chocolate
2 Tb chai brewed in water not milk (see recipe here)
5 to 6 Tb unsalted butterEquipment:
A round cake pan 8 inches in diameter and 1-1/2 inches deep
A 3-quart mixing bowl
A wooden spoon or an electric beater
A rubber spatula
A cake rack
A small covered pan
A larger pan of almost simmering water
A wooden spoon
A bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water to cover them
A small flexible-blade metal spatula or a table knifeInstructions:For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Butter and flour the cake pan. Set the chocolate and chai
in a small pan, cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe.
Brewing the chai with tons of cardamom, ginger and tea.
Letting the chocolate and chai melt together
Measure out the rest of the ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.
All the ingredients measured and laid out
Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.
Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.
Nami, Shalini and Maya hard at work to create the perfect batter
The finished batter
Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2-1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.
Baking in the oven
Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.For the Icing:
Place the chocolate and chai
in the small pan, cover, and set in the larger pan of almost simmering water. Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency.
Preparing the frosting over the ice and water.
At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife, and press a design of almonds over the icing.
Frosting the cake
Ready to eat!!!
So delicious. My son Krish did end up getting a few licks of the chocolate frosting.
"Fat Top" or Corn Pone is one of Guyana's many desserts rich in coconut. Our babysitter, Mera Dasrat introduced me to this delicious treat that is super easy to make, and a great vegan and gluten free option. A creamy layer of coconut milk on top of a thick layer of cornmeal cake - can it get any better? Shalini
2 cups corn meal
4 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 tbs grated coconut
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl mix together the cornmeal, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups coconut milk, grated coconut, cardamom and ginger.
- Pour the mix into a medium sized greased baking dish and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the mix has set.
- Mix the remaining 2 cups of coconut milk and 1/2 cup sugar.
- Pour this mix over the baked cornmeal mix.
- Bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until most of the liquid on the top is reduced and the cake looks moist.
- Let cool and serve.
Seriously!!??? Was so ready to cook up a delicious spicy cheese omelet this morning. My daughter Maya helped me crack open the egg, and I almost passed out. No eggs for a while. Anyone else ever experience this? - Shalini