Friday, December 31, 2010

Red Velvet Halwa with Carrots and Roses

The "Red Velvet Carrot halwa" is a variation of very popular "Gajar ka halwa" a famous sweet from India that is relished in winters. Carrot halwa is an excellent source of vitamin A and calcium. Traditionally, this halwa is made by gently heating lots of full cream milk along with carrots and sugar over low flame.

Click Here for a Printable Recipe - My Creative Flavors

In this variation I decided to replace sugar with jaggery and added rose water to make the dish more nutritive and fragrant. Jaggery gives this variation a more Reddish color which is very appetizing.

Carrots: 2 cups
Dates: 4-5 (optional)
Desi ghee: 5 tsp
Full cream milk : 3 cups
Jaggery powder : 3/4 cup or to taste
Khoa : 1cup
Rose Water: few drops
Saffron strands : few
Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
Mixed Nuts: 1/2 cup

Wash, peel and grate the carrots  by using food processor or electric vegetable chopper.
Heat desi ghee in a thick bottomed skillet and saute the grated carrots for 5 minutes.
Now add full cream milk, sliced dates and cardamom powder into the carrots and let it cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, till the milk is absorbed and carrots are cooked.
At this stage to the mix, add saffron strands dissolved in milk.
Now add jaggery powder (or brown sugar) and khoa to the carrots and mix gently.

Let it cool down for 5 minutes, then add few drops of rose water/rose essence for fragrance in the halwa.

Garnish with mixed sliced almonds, cashews, raisins and shredded khoa.

Lets us start the new year with this sweet preparation, first offer it to the Gods and then share with family and friends......!!!!!!!

Red Velvet Carrot Halwa on Foodista

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gajjak - Almond Peanut Brittle with Jaggery

Peanut Gajjak or Chikki

It was freezing cold outside. I was craving to have peanut gajak, my husband suggested easier to give it a try at home rather than driving to indian grocery store. He was right, in less than 15 minutes, both of us were enjoying gajak with our evening tea. Though couldn't get perfect shape at home in the first go, it tasted much better than store bought. Perhaps we were in love with our home made gajak. I can say that its one of the easiest sweet to make at home. One can easily indulge in this sweet as made up of jaggery and peanuts, both very healthy ingredients.

Peanuts: 1/2 cup
Jaggery powder (Coarse Brown Sugar): 1 cup
Desi Ghee : 2 tsp
Cardamom powder : 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds : 1tsp
Almonds/Cashews : 1/4 cup, optional

Dry roast the peanuts in a nonstick pan.
Now add almonds and roast for another 2 minutes.
Let the peanuts/almonds cool down and take off the skin from the peanuts.
Roughly break the peanuts and almonds into two halves.
Prepare a tray by layering it with  silver foil, spray oil to set in the chikki.
I greased saucer plates to get round chikkis of equal size.
I forgot to layer it with foil, but you should do it to save the hassel of cleaning.

Heat desi ghee in a non stick skillet and add jaggery powder.
Keep stirring continuously on low heat  till the jaggery melts and changes color to light golden brown. Add lightly crushed fennel seeds, cardamom powder, peanuts and almond halves in to the paste.
Give all the ingredients a quick stir and pour the jaggery/brittle paste on the foil/saucers, observing caution as its too hot.
Press the chikki with the back of steel ladder/rolling pin to make a thin layer.
Let the chikkis dry for a while, cut it in desired shape when still warm with pizza cutter or knife.

Voila, home made peanut brittle/ gajjak/ chikki is ready... !

Share and enjoy jaggery brittle with family and friends.... !!!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Five Spice Chai or Chai Latte, When Every Sip Is a Complement !

Sipping a hot cup of chai is an ultimate relaxing way to start chilly sunday morning.  Now whether its winters or summers, we are just addicted to this cup of rejuvenating chai. By itself, chai or cha is merely the generic word for "tea" in much of South Asia and many other parts of the world. Today India is one of the world's largest producers of tea with 13,000 gardens and a workforce of more than 2 million people. The most popular tea gardens in India are in Assam and Darjelling. I was totally mesmerized  by the beauty of acres of tea bushes, interspersed at regular intervals when I first saw the beautiful lush green Tea gardens of Munnar (Kerala), a place not to be missed if you are in India.

I simply love this warm old fashioned style chai (boiled tea on gas stove) over dip -dip chai (tea made with teabags). The aromatic flavor of freshly brewed spices just makes you crave for endless rounds of tea. There are endless varieties of tea, almost for  every season. Some  variations worthy of being tried in winters  are Basil Tea, Mint Tea, Ginger tea and in summers, Fennel (saunf) tea or Lemon tea, the list of herbs and spices is endless, but nonetheless tea in every form is definetely going to soothe your mind and soul. 

Here I'm sharing my husband's special recipe and the worlds best chai -Five Spice Chai, when every sip is a complement....... !!! 

Milk : Half Cup
Water : 2 Cups
Cardamoms: 4 pods
Black Cardamom : 1 pod
Cloves: 2 pieces
Peppercorns: 1-2 pieces
Cinnamon : 1 small piece
Tea Leaves : 2 Tsp
Sugar : 2 tsp or to taste

A good practice is to take the spices & give them a quick grind on your mortar, alternatively you can get "Chai Masala" at many indian grocery stores. But you can't beat the freshness of fresh ground spices...

Boil water in a pan with five spices, black cardamom, green cardamom, crushed pepper corns, cinnamon & cloves (lightly crush to bring out the  flavors). Cover the pan with lid, as to my experience, there is a huge difference in the aroma of tea made covered and uncovered.

Bring the water to boil and add Tea Leaves. 
I prefer brewing Taj Mahal Orange Pekoe or Brook Bond "Red Label" for my Chai's, can't beat the flavor. Let the tea leaves brew for 4-5 minutes in boiling water.

Add 1/2 cup of milk and sugar to taste at this point & simmer for few minutes. 
When the tea is done, give it a grace period of another one to two minutes with lid covered, to let the spices lose all their flavor to the chai.

Use a strainer to filter the tea into your tea cup. As you see here I'm serving Tea in Kulhars or Kasora's (traditional handle-less terracotta cups from North India), this is how chai is traditionally served.
Lastly, to make every sip a complement, I like to garnish the tea with crushed green cardamom, lends it a great flavor...turning milk-addicts like me into tea lovers...!

My favorite chai in the winters, and a wonderful way to start your day on lazy sunday morning...!!!
Note: Try all the spices or any single spice or blend two spices. Add the desired quantity of spices to taste.

Recipe of Chai Latte:
This recipe of Chai latte was made famous by Starbucks. The word chai denotes tea and latte is a kind of coffee but made of hot milk. 
Only variation in this recipe is to make the milk frothy. 
Check out the quick recipe...

  • Milk: 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla Extract: 1/4tsp
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1tsp
  • Spice Mix: 1/2 tsp, fresh
  • Nutmeg: a pinch, optional

Brew the freshly crushed spices in water. 
Add sugar, Fill 1/4th of the cup with tea/spice mix.
Boil the milk and add vanilla extract. 
Whisk the milk with handblender to make it creamy and frothy. 
Pour this hot milk over the 1/4th filled cup till top and add a dash of nutmeg.

A rich and creamy chai latte is ready to be enjoyed with fresh homemade gingerbread or Biscuits ... !

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hot Apple and Orange Pakoras with Herbs

A fresh cut apple is the best way to get the most of fibre and antioxidants. But on some days its fun to sneak the fruits in a different form in our menu for change, especially for the kids. This time I twisted the veggie pakoras with fruit pakoras - apple, orange and banana wedges/pakoras.

It was a delight to have apple and oranges in this new form. Pakoras are hot starter snacks from India, loved by everybody especially in the rainy and chilly weather. Its usually made of seasonal veggies like onions, potatoes, cauliflour and spinach. In this post, I replaced veggies with fruit. The small story behind my new recipe - few days back,  it was too cold outside and I was out of stock of any veggie. But craved to have hot and spicy platter of pakoras to enjoy in snow showers. I peeked in my refrigerator and found few fruits. So instead of potato wedges, thought of giving  fruit wedges a shot, by slicing and tossing the apples, oranges and bananas into rich chickpea flour with fresh herbs to enhance the flavor. Deep fry to make a quick platter of hot and spicy fruit wedges.

Apples : 2 
Oranges: 2
Banana: 1
Rice Flour : 2 tsp
Salt : 1/2 tsp or to taste
Paprika: 1/4 tsp
Black Pepper: 1/4 tsp
Chat masala: 1/2 tsp
Grated ginger: 1tsp
Parsley flakes: 1/2 tsp
Basil flakes: 1/2 tsp
Rosemary : 1/4 tsp
Dill flakes: 1/4 tsp
Baking Powder : 1/4tsp 
Water : 3/4 cup
Cooking oil: 1 cup
Tamarind and Tomato sauce for serving

Wash  and pat dry the apples with kitchen towel. Cut the fruits into wedges with a sharp knife or with apple slicer.
In a medium bowl take chickpea flour (besan), rice flour. Mix well,  add spices and herbs to taste plus baking powder. Slowly stir in enough water until the mixture reaches the consistency of whipping cream. Beat the batter well and set aside to  coat the fruits.

In a heavy bottomed pan/skillet on the stove, heat oil. Check the temperature of the oil by dropping a small drop of the batter in the oil.
If the oil is ready and hot, coat the  apple wedge with the batter and drop it one by one in the hot oil. Fry on medium heat till it turns golden brown from both sides.

Drain the wedges on the paper towel to soak  the excess oil.
Repeat the process for orange and banana wedges by frying few at a time until the entire material is used.

Serve it straight from the pan to the platter with sweet tomato and tamarind chutney for dipping the wedges.

Can't beat a basket full of hot pakoras on a cold wintery evening....

Enjoy super satisfying hot pakoras with hot Five spice chai ........ !!!!!!

Click here to find the recipe of Five Spice Chai !!!

Hot Apple and Orange Pakoras With Herbs on Foodista

New Year Greetings!

 As we swing in the New year, may the year ushers lots of Bliss & New Beginnings loaded with happiness, fun & food with family!!! Ch...