Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dodol - The quick and easy way

** This post contains affiliate links.

Goa, renowned for its beautiful beaches and people is an idyllic getaway for many. Every school holiday meant a trip to Goa to spend time with family. Along with beautiful weather and some of the most amazing produce, what I enjoy most are the traditional Goan sweets. Since moving from Bombay, these sweets are no longer within easy reach for me. So over the last few years, I've done the next best thing - learn to make them myself. A lot of these sweets make an appearance on the Goan Christmas platter also called Kuswar (pronounced koos-wahr). So far, I've had brilliant luck with quite a few and I will list them along with links to their recipes at the end of this post. I'm hoping to get a few more of them up earlier this year. So check back soon.

Today, after a long wait, I'm happy to share with you a recipe for Dodol. Dodol is almost a jelly like sweet made using Goa Jaggery, coconut and rice. Traditionally made, it is a very labor intensive recipe, but the results are so worth it. You use coconuts, freshly grated and juice extracted, the rice roasted and ground and after the jaggery is added you cook it long and slow, stirring continuously.  Unfortunately for me, I don't have access to Goa Jaggery in Sydney. But I was told that I could use Molasses instead. So on my last grocery shop, I picked up a bottle of Molasses. I decided I was going to try a few short cuts to cut down on time involved and used rice flour and a can of coconut cream. I'm happy to report that the whole prep and cooking process that usually takes hours, took be about half an hour from start to finish. The hardest part was leaving it overnight to set. You may not need to leave it that long, but I made the dodol in the evening and it was too warm to cut into after dinner.

But when I did cut into it, it was soft and delicious, just like I remember. I would recommend refrigerating it for a while before serving. It cuts a lot easier when cold. So if you've been putting of making Dodol because you can't find jaggery, go get some molasses and get making. When adding the molasses, don't go by the color of the mix, but taste for sweetness.



Dodol

1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 can (400ml) coconut cream
350-400g molasses
3 tbsp roughly chopped cashew nuts
1 tsp ghee to grease the loaf tin and knife
Water, as needed

Grease a loaf tin with a little ghee and keep aside.

In a large pan (I use the 12" Kitchenaid Stainless steel skillet) measure out the rice flour. Add enough water and make a batter (almost like a thick pancake batter). I use a whisk for this as it mixes the flour well without any lumps.



Pour in the coconut cream and whisk till dissolved.


Add the molasses and stir.


Now, place the mix on a medium heat and let it cook, stirring continuously.

When it starts thickening, drop the heat to low and continue stirring. I find that you may still find lumps in the mix even inspite of stirring. Use a whisk and break them up. It returns to a smooth consistency very quickly. I had to do this about 3 times.

As it thickens, it gets harder to stir. Add the chopped cashew nuts and keep stirring.

After about 20 minutes, here's what my mix looked like.


Continue cooking till the mixture starts leaving the sides of pan and looks a little glossy. I cooked the mix down for about another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

At this stage, you need to work quickly. Pour into the greased loaf tin and flatten it down using the back of a spoon or a spatula.


Leave to set and cool completely. Once it has cooled you can either refrigerate it for later use or demould it to serve. To demould, just place a plate, slightly larger in size than the loaf tin, on top and tip the tin over the plate. A slight shake of the tin and plate should be enough to loosen the dodol and let prop it on the plate.


Slice and serve.


Enjoy!!!


Pin now and try later.




Other Goan sweets and Kuswar -
Perad / Guava Cheese (using canned guavas)
Perad / Guava Cheese (using fresh guavas)
Kulkuls
Coconut Toffee
Milk Cream
Jujups
Baath
Marzipan

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Perad or Guava Cheese ... made with Canned Guavas

** This post contains affiliate links.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

Christmas decorations have started going up all over the place, Christmas merchandise is in every store and it's probably just me, but when I see this, my mind starts to wander towards Christmas sweets (mind you that doesn't take much). Yup, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. I must admit, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. 

Let's talk sweets now, shall we? What's your favorite? Me, I love them all. Old school, traditional Kuswar, new age desserts and sweets, the whole lot. But of all of them I think that my favorite is the Goan Guava Cheese (almost like Guava gummies or candy, but better) known as Perad. I have previously posted a perad recipe using fresh guavas here. But here, in Sydney, I haven't been able to get my hands on any fresh guavas, especially this time of the year. So imagine my joy when I came across this on one of my weekly grocery shops at my local Supermarket.


Ofcourse, I grabbed a couple of tins and knew that I had to try making Perad with them. (I have also used the "Koo" brand with the same great results.) I mean, I knew it wouldn't be like using fresh guavas, but how different could it really be? So I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit and crossed my fingers while the perad cooked and set. To my delight, this was the best Perad I had ever made or eaten. So it's safe to say from now on, while I can get my hands on these canned guavas, I'm going to stick to using it for my Perad.



Perad

3-4 cloves
500g sugar
1-2 tsps ghee / clarified butter

Place some of the ghee on a large metal cookie sheet / baking pan and spread on the bottom and sides and keep this aside.

Drain the guava halves and reserve the syrup.

Scoop out the seeds and set aside.

Puree the halves till smooth and put the puree in a heavy bottomed vessel. Now Goan sweets are notorious for taking ages to cook, but I have found if you use a wider vessel, its cooks a lot faster because of the increased surface area. So I use a stainless steel 12" Kitchenaid Skillet for all my sweets and it drastically reduces the cooking time.

Now place all the seeds, that were previously scooped out, in a strainer, add a couple of spoons of the reserved syrup from the cans and stir through the strainer to extract all the guava puree from the centres. You may need to do this a couple of times adding a tiny bit of syrup each time to extract all the guava. Add the extract to the pan and now discard the seeds.

Add the cloves and the sugar to the pan.



Place the pan on medium heat and stir continuously using a wooden spoon with a long handle. The guava mix tends to sputter and spit while cooking and the long handle will prevent the mix splashing on your arms. Make sure that when you stir, the spoon gets to the edges of the pan to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If the mix sputters too much, lower the the heat and continue cooking.


When the mix thickens, extract the cloves carefully and discard. Continue cooking till it leaves the sides of the pan. Keep stirring.

Test to see if done. (Use water test - Place some icy cold water in a small bowl and drop a teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still very soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking). 


When done, pour the mix into the greased pan. Using the back of a large spoon that has been greased with some ghee spread the mix to form an even slab and set aside to cool.


When it has cooled down a bit, using a knife that has been greased with some ghee, cut into cubes. You may need to grease the knife a couple of times while cutting to prevent it sticking.

When it has completely cooled, store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time or if it summer like in our part of the world, refrigerate till you are ready to use.



Enjoy!!!


Monday, November 27, 2017

Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze

Whoever said that the simple things are often the best, was a legend. I have proof. What am I talking about? Well a couple of weeks ago, I'd gone to lunch with a friend. Obviously, I had to have the smashed avo toast - beautiful rye sourdough, topped with a generous amount of smashed avocado. This particular version of it was then topped with a simple salad that was so very good, I had to try replicating it at home. It was just a beautiful and well balanced little number, with every mouthful, I could literally hear angels sing.

Since the salad was so simple, there is very little to do to assemble it. This makes it perfect if you have to make a great big batch to feed a crowd this holiday season. The homemade version was so good, I hardly got a couple of bites of it. The husband, who initially was very skeptical about the simplicity and the 'no mayo' nature of the salad, almost wiped the plate clean. So I can tell you that this recipe has been tried and tested and has received the highest seal of approval (well, in my house atleast).

This is not an exact recipe. You simply add the ingredients to your liking and taste and it will turn out fantastic.




Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze

A couple of handfuls of baby spinach (you could also use rocket or any salad greens of your choice)
A few cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Balsamic glaze, to taste

Place the baby spinach / salad greens on your salad plate.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place it evenly around the plate.

Crumble some feta cheese on top. (Please note, the feta cheese is salty, so add as much or as little as you'd like. No additional salt in used as the feta seasons the salad.)

Sprinkle a little freshly cracked black pepper on top.

Drizzle a little balsamic glaze over everything to finish it off.

Sit back and look at this gorgeous work or art.

Serve up and enjoy.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Instant Kesar Peda - Saffron Infused Milk Fudge

** This post contains affiliate links.

So it's almost Diwali. Even though we don't celebrate it, we enjoy the food that comes with it. After trying out a few sweet and savory recipes for Diwali over the last five years, I've come to realize that a lot of recipes are fairly quick and easy to make, compared to most of the traditional Goan sweets. That makes me happy because I know I can whip up so many treats in a jiffy. However, there are a few recipes that are time consuming and tedious when made from scratch, like a good peda. A peda, for those of you who aren't familiar with the term, is a hand shaped piece of fudge made and enjoyed all over India. Now, I have made fudge before but had never tried making Pedas at home. That is, until I recently came across a recipe for an Instant version. Yup, you heard me, there is an instant version of the good old peda.

This Instant Kesar Peda requires a few basic ingredients and about half an hour of your time. That's how easy and simple it is to make. A lot of the commercially sold pedas use food coloring and artificial flavoring, but I decided to keep mine simple. I have used actual Saffron strands in this recipe for flavor and a mild coloring too. If you want your pedas to have the 'oh-so-popular' color, use some yellow food color. You can choose to imprint a design on the top of the peda or use a mould to shape it and you have the option to garnish the shaped pedas with some finely slivered nuts as well. So if you still haven't whipped up anything for Diwali, don't let that get you down. You can still make a bunch of homemade sweets and savories for your Diwali platter in no time at all. Besides this peda recipe, I have a few fantastic recipes to help you out. You can find them at the end of the post here.

So here's to another Indian delicacy, even though its a cheat version. I can tick this one of the my ever-growing list of recipes I want to try. 

Wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous Diwali!!!




Instant Kesar Pedas
Recipe from: Sandhya's Kitchen
Yields: 25 pieces

1 cup condensed milk
1 cup + 2 tsp milk powder
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds, crushed/powdered
2 tsp ghee
A generous pinch of saffron strands
2 tsp warm milk
Extra ghee, to grease your palms while shaping the pedas

Add the saffron strands to the warm milk and set aside to infuse.



Grease a large plate with a tiny bit of ghee and set aside. 

In a wide, preferably heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee on a medium flame till it melts.

Add the condensed milk and the milk powder to the pan and stir well, making sure you dissolve any lumps that form. Any lumps left will not give you a smooth finish.



Continue cooking the mix, stirring frequently (with a wooden or a silicon spoon) for about 8-10 minutes. You will find the mix coming together at this stage.

Add the saffron infused milk and strands and the crushed cardamom to the pan and stir well. This will cause the mix to loosen in consistency a little and that's exactly what we want.

 Continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring continuously and the mix will start pulling away from the sides of the pan.

At this stage carefully check to see if the mix is still sticky. I picked a tiny portion with the spoon and touched it lightly to see if it is sticky. My hands can tolerate a fair amount of heat, please exercise caution when doing this. You want to make very little contact with the mix and not dip your finger in it too deep because it is super hot at this stage. If it still feels too sticky, continue cooking for a couple minutes more. 

Once it is not sticky, take off the heat. 

Immediately turn the mix onto the greased plate and leave it to cool a little.

When it is cool enough to handle, grease your palms with a little ghee, pinch of a small portion of the mix and roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Place on a platter and leave to set. If you choose to garnish the pedas, do it at this stage just after you shape it and then set aside in a single layer to set.

Serve up and enjoy!!!


Pin now and try later -




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Witches Broomsticks .... another savory Halloween treat

So continuing from my last Halloween post, here's another quick and easy savory treat I put together for the same party. If you haven't yet read that one, go check out the Monster Eye Crackers I posted about here.

If you've been around these parts before you know the most important part of food for me is taste. It helps if it is quick and easy to make and bonus points if it is cute and quirky too. This little treat ticks all those boxes. I found this one in quite a few places on the internet and decided that I had to try them out. They are perfect to make for a Halloween themed party. I will admit that the cheese stringers were a little fiddle to begin with, but eventually things started moving along much faster. And, considering there was zero cooking involved, I still give this little snack a thumbs up. Kids will love the novelty of these 'Witches Broomsticks'. I made these to serve at an office party and the adults couldn't keep their hands of them either.

These snacks also use only 3 ingredients - pretzel sticks, cheese stringers and fresh chives. There is not much of a process involved either, so let's get straight to the instructions.

I hope you make these savory treats this Halloween and enjoy them as much as we did.




Witches Broomsticks

Pretzel sticks
Cheese stringers
Fresh Chives

Start with the cheese. Cut the cheese stringer sticks into about 1 inch pieces or one thirds.

For each of these pieces, cut up or pull apart two thirds of the length of it to make the bristly edge of the broomsticks.

Now simply pierce the uncut end with a pretzel stick.

Finish them off but tying with a piece of fresh chives.

Serve up.


What treats are you planning for this Halloween??? 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

'Monster Eye' Crackers - a perfect savory option for Halloween

** This post contains affiliate links.

Around this time of the year, especially if you partake in the Halloween festivities, you will find yourself inundated with candy and other sweet treats and bakes. In a nutshell, a sugar overload. While I love my cakes and sweets / candy as much as the next guy or gal, if you are like me, you will need a little bit of savory to cut through all that sweetness.

Last year, I was really excited about Halloween. We were supposed to have a big Halloween party at my workplace. However, as luck would have it I quit that job in early October to focus on building up a little business. When my colleagues threw me a small farewell party, they decided to roll with the Halloween theme. I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to whip up a few treats. These little cracker bites were one of them. I will share the rest of them with you over the next few days. My job was extremely physically demanding and boasted quite a few really long days. So I had to come up with treats that were quick and easy to put together. I knew the candy part of the party would be taken care of, so I stuck with the savories.

These Monster Eye crackers are perfect for a party or get together. They are a Halloween Play on cheese and crackers. They can be whipped up really quickly with all of 3 ingredients. So, I knew I was going to make them. I was a little skeptical about them considering how simple they are, but let me tell you, they vanished really quickly. I wish I had made more. If you decide on making these, make sure you make a big batch. So to make these, all you need are crackers. I love the Eton crackers found in Aldi stores locally, but if you cannot get your hands on them, Ritz Crackers will work just as well. You can use any other crackers you'd like. Now that the crackers are sorted, the next ingredient is the cheese. I used Kraft Cheese Slices, but again, you can use any cheese slices you like. The last ingredient you need are olives. You can use Pitted Kalamata olives or pitted Green olives, if you prefer.

The process is fairly simply, and works fastest if you create an assemble line. I hope you enjoy these little snacks this Halloween as much as we did.




Monster Eye Crackers

Eton crackers (You can also use Ritz Crackers)
Kraft Cheese Slices
Pitted Kalamata olives

You will also need a circle cookie cutter, just a little smaller than the size of the crackers you choose to use.

Cut the cheese slices into circles using the cookie cutter and keep aside.

Cut the pitted olives in half and keep aside.

On a serving platter, place the crackers in a single layer.

Top the crackers with a circle of cheese and top that with half an olive.

And that's basically it. Serve up.

Enjoy!!!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ragi Sev / Savory Finger Millet Bites

**This post contains affiliate links.

Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is fast approaching. In the run up to Diwali, most Hindu households are busy preparing for the festival. It is during this time that a number of Sweets and Savories are cooked up to serve Family and visitors and put on platters to give to neighbors and friends. Even though we don't celebrate Diwali, the food and the fire work displays are my favorite part of the festival. Back in India, we had a few neighbors who put together the most fantastic platters full of homemade Indian sweets (called Mithai) and savories (called Namkeen / Farsaan) and I'd look forward to them every single year.

After moving to Sydney, I have tried to replicate a few of these recipes and I was pleasantly surprised with how easy a lot of them are to make. I will list all the Diwali recipes I've tried and loved at the end of the post. Over the weekend I decided to try out some Ragi Sev. Ragi = Finger Millet and Sev = crispy fried noodles. So this Ragi sev is a savory option for Diwali. With a few ingredients you could be sitting down to a bowlful of these to serve up in about half an hour. I've been meaning to try out some snacking options using Finger Millet for a while now. And I'm glad I started with this recipe. It was so easy to make and the flavor was unbelievably yummy. So if you are looking to try out some different recipes this Diwali, try these out. I promise you, it'll be hard to keep eager hands off the place as you fry them up and wait for it to cool. I had to chase my husband out of the kitchen on a number of occasions, just so that I'd have enough left to photograph for the post. That, according to me, is a very successful recipe.

Make a batch or 2 over the weekend and serve it up with a hot cup of tea. They'd even be ideal as "Chakna" (nibbles to serve along with Beer or other drinks).



Ragi Sev
Recipe from: Yummy Tummy

1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup roasted gram dal / dalia, powdered
A pinch of Asafoetida / hing
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
Salt, to taste
Oil, to deep fry

Heat oil in a kadhai / wok large enough to deep fry. (If you don't have one, you can also use a large saucepan / pot.) The oil level should be about 1/3 the height of the vessel, approximately. (Note, this is just a guide, incase you have never deep fried anything before. If you have, use the quantities that work well for you.)

In a large pan over medium heat, dry roast the finger millet flour till you start getting a mild nutty aroma. This typically takes a couple of minutes.

Place the finger millet flour, rice flour, gram dal powder, asafoetida, sesame seeds, ghee and salt in a bowl. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. 

Using a little water at a time, mix and knead to form a soft dough.

Place the dough in a Sev Press and carefully pipe out portions in the hot oil. 



This is the plate I used to make the sev


Do not over crowd the pan. You may need to fry the sev in batches. When the sizzle and bubbles subside in the oil, carefully remove the sev using a slotted spoon. Drain the excess oil off and place on a platter lined with kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container. 

Enjoy!!!


Pin now and try later.




As promised, here is a list of tried and tested Diwali recipes just for you.

Sweet Diwali recipes  - 








4) Fruit N Nut Ladoos (refined sugar free)


















Savory Diwali Recipes - 




























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