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FIGS & WALNUTS ESPRESSO SANDWICH COOKIES

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December heralds the arrival of cookie season, for Christmas will be at our door steps before we know it. Also, this is the best time here for baking cookies of all sorts coz humidity is at its lowest and shall remain so for the coming two months as well. So, yours truly shall make the best of this time and roll out cookies from of her kitchen. Festivities certainly call for something extra special and therefore my espresso walnut cookies got a makeover and turned into something decadent. Love anything coffee and the coffee ganache filling makes these cookies an absolute pleasure to indulge in. The figs add a touch of sweetness against the coffee and the walnuts give a nice texture and bite to the cookies. The last word on these cookies – they are a coffee lovers delight! Do not miss out on making these cookies 🙂

For Cookies

1½ C All Purpose Flour (Maida)

1 tbsp ground Espresso Coffee

100 grams Walnuts (see notes)

75 – 100 grams dry Figs (finely chopped)

130 grams unsalted Butter

¾ – 1 C Sugar (we like ours mildly sweet, hence ¾ Cup)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

A few tablespoons Instant Coffee granules (optional)

For Ganache

1 tbsp unsalted Butter

½ C Cream

1 tbsp strongly brewed Coffee

¾ C Semi sweet Choco Chips

METHOD

In a bowl mix together the flour, espresso coffee, finely chopped figs and walnuts.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar, along with vanilla extract, till fluffy.

Stir in the flour mix and mix it till well incorporated. (I prefer doing it with my hands. Wash and dry your hands before doing this job)

Wrap the dough in a cling wrap and freeze the dough for 20 – 30 minutes

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C for 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove the dough from the freezer and using half the dough, roll to ¼ cm thickness. Using the cookie cutter of your choice, cut out the dough and place it on slightly greased baking sheet keeping a gap of a few centimeters between each cut out cookie dough.

(I sprinkled each cut out cookie dough with some instant coffee granules, however this step is purely optional.)

(If you are using two cookie baking sheets, then you can use roll and cut out all the dough at one go)

Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or till the edges of the cookies begin to turn brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing them on a wire rack.

Allow the cookies to cool completely.

Bake the rest of the dough in a similar way till all the dough is exhausted.

For Ganache, heat the coffee, cream and butter on low heat till it begins to bubble at the edges.

Remove from heat and stir in the choco chips. Once they choco chips begin to melt, whisk the mixture to attain a smooth and glossy ganache. Cool completely and refrigerate for half an hour so that the ganache thickens. Whisk the ganache again before you begin using it for the filling.

For Filling, take a heaped teaspoon of ganache (the amount of filling will depend on the size of your cookies) and add it right in the centre of the cookie (on the side that was touching the baking sheet). Take another cookie and place it on top of the ganache. Press it down gently to spread the ganache evenly between the cookies. I used a spoon but feel free to use a piping bag for this job. Finish the whole batch the same way.

Note – I crushed half the walnuts to a coarse powder and added the rest of it finely chopped. This made the texture a little chewy. So, if you like crisp cookies, you might want to finely chop the walnuts instead of pulsing half of them to a coarse powder, like I did.

Note – We enjoy intense coffee flavor in our cookies therefore I had used 2 tbsp of espresso coffee in the cookies however I have mentioned only 1 tbsp in the list of ingredients. (suit yourself)

Yield – 10 – 12 Sandwich Cookies

Thanks for your visit. See you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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GREEN GARBANZO BEANS FALAFEL PITA POCKETS w/ CHIPOTLE TAHINI SAUCE

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Unhealthy festival binging is almost like necessary evil. However, these falafel pita pockets are a testimony to the fact that healthy can be scrumptious and good enough for festivities. I had created this recipe for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine for their Diwali issue this year.

For Falafel

1 C dried Green Garbanzo Beans / Chholiya (Hara Chana)

½ C Peas (fresh or frozen)

2 tbsp Pistachio

½ C fresh Coriander (leaves & stalk)

1/3 C Mint Leaves

½ C Parsley leaves

Zest of a Lime

6 fat cloves Garlic

3 Green Chilies

½ C roughly chopped Onion

3 – 4 tbsp Chickpea Flour (Besan)

½ tsp Baking Powder

2 tbsp Tahini

2 tsp Cumin Powder

2 tsp Coriander Powder

Salt to taste

1 C Sesame Seeds (optional)

Oil for frying

For Chipotle Sauce

¾ C Yogurt

1 – 1½ tsp ground Chipotle (adjust heat to taste)

3 tbsp Tahini

1 fat clove Garlic

¼ tsp Salt or to taste

Soak the dried green garbanzo beans overnight.

The same evening make the Chipotle Sauce as the flavours fuse really well when they sit over night.

For the Sauce, finely grate the garlic. Gently whip the yogurt till it becomes smooth in consistency. Add to the yogurt, all the ingredients mentioned under the sauce category. Mix everything well. Add a few teaspoons of water if the consistency is too thick. Transfer and store in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge till ready to use.

Drain the beans and dry them a little by keeping them in a large sieve or a colander.

Pulse the pistachio in a spice blender till it attains a coarse texture.

In a food processor, process together all the ingredients mentioned under the falafel category, except chickpea flour, till a rough paste is obtained. Remove from the processor and mix in the flour along with the baking powder.

Make 24 balls of equal size and roll each one of them in sesame seeds. (This is optional but highly recommended since sesame seeds give the falafels a beautiful nutty flavour.)

Place the rolled balls on a greased plate and cover gently with a cling wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Place a wok or frying pan on heat and add oil till it is one and half to two inches high. Reduce the heat to medium.

After about forty five seconds, add a small amount of the falafel mixture into the oil. If it floats to the top and the oil is bubbling around the edges, the oil is hot enough to fry the mixture.

Fry the falafel in batches of 5 – 6 falafels each. Do not over crowd the pan as this will result in drop in temperature. (If the falafels are browning too fast, reduce the heat)

Be careful when adding the falafel rolled in sesame as the seeds will start crackling and splutter around. To deal with this, as soon as you add the falafel to the pan, carefully but quickly turn them over after a few seconds.

Turn each falafel after every twenty to thirty seconds for even cooking.

Once they turn brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on an absorbent sheet to remove excess oil.

To serve, take pita bread and cut it in two halves. Carefully make a cavity inside the pita bread using a sharp knife. Fill each pita pocket with a salad of your choice. Add the falafels whole, smashed or halved and drizzle over the Chipotle Sauce.

For a non fried version, spray or brush the uncooked falafel balls with some oil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for 20 – 25 minutes on one side or till golden brown. Turn over the balls and bake the other side for another few minutes till golden brown.

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KRISHNA BHOG KESRI KHEER / कृष्णा भोग केसरी खीर (SAFFRON RICE PUDDING using Krishna Bhog Rice)

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Had wanted to share this post yesterday but due to some technical snag, was unable to upload it. Yesterday was Bhagwat Gita Jayanti day and I celebrated it like many others by chanting shlokas from the holy book and made kheer using the Krishna Bhog Rice. In fact, just a few days back while on my visit to the grocery shop I saw this very new and never seen before (at least by me) variety of rice, I knew instantly I was going to make it for the prashad for the Sri Gita parv. I am going to keep this post short and take you straight to the recipe.

1 litre Milk (I used 6% but you can use 2%)

100 grams approx. Krishna Bhog Rice

1 tbsp plus 2 tsp Sugar (adjust the sweetness to taste)

1 pinch Saffron strands

¼ tsp Cardamom Powder

Nuts of your choice (optional)

Wash the rice twice or thrice and soak in enough water. Keep it aside, while you boil the milk.

Bring the milk to boil (I boiled it on low heat to give ample time for rice to soak) and take out a tablespoon of milk in a small bowl. Add crushed saffron stands and keep it aside.

Drain the rice and add it to the boiling milk. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes and add the saffron.

Simmer and cook the rice on low heat, stirring intermittently to prevent it from catching at the bottom.

Once the rice is done and the milk begins to get thicker in consistency, switch off the heat and add the sugar and cardamom. Stir well and serve hot.

We prefer having it chilled and therefore, I allow it to cool and then refrigerate it before serving.

Garnish with nuts and raisins and enjoy!

Serves 4 – 6

Note – The rice is pretty filling and a little serving goes a long way

Note – This rice has a chewy texture even after cooking and that is what makes this kheer unique.

Note – This rice does not swell much unlike other rice therefore I have used double the amount.

Note – Swap dairy milk with coconut milk and you have a vegan dessert.

LEAVING YOU WITH SOME SIMPLIFIED MEANINGS OF SHLOKAS (श्लोक) FROM THE HOLY BOOK…

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.

Soul migrates from body to body. Weapon cannot cleave it, nor fire consume it, nor water drench it, nor wind dry it.

Hell has three gates – Lust, Anger and Greed

Meet this transient world with neither grasping nor fear, trust the unfolding of life and you will attain serenity.

The mind is everything. What you think, you become

Set your heart upon your work, but never upon its rewards.

Perform your duty equipoised, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.

Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give as charity, whatever austerity you perform, do that as an offering unto Me. Thus shall you be freed from the bonds of karma bearing good and evil fruits. With the heart firmly set on renunciation (of actions and its fruits), you will attain liberation (moksha) and thereby come to me.

He who has no attachment, can really love others, for his love is pure and divine.

Do everything you have to do but not with greed, not with ego, not with lust not with envy but with love, compassion, humility and devotion.

For one who has conquered his mind, mind is best of friends. But for one who has failed to do so, mind is the greatest enemy.  

You came empty handed, you will leave empty handed. What is yours today, belonged to someone else yesterday and will belong to someone else tomorrow.

Whatever happened, happened for good. Whatever is happening, is happening for good. Whatever will happen, will also happen for good. You need not have any regrets for the past. You need not worry for the future. The present is happening. Live in the present.

A Karma Yogi performs actions by body, mind, intellect and senses without attachment or ego, only for self purification.

As the heat of fire reduces wood to ashes, the fire of knowledge burns to ashes all karma.

If you want to see the brave, look to those who can return love for hatred. If you want to see the heroic, look at those who can forgive.

If a thousand suns were to rise and stand in the noon sky, blazing such brilliance would be like the fierce brilliance of the mighty Self.

ALSO SHARING THOUGHTS OF SOME GREAT MEN ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH THE BHAGWAT GITA

I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.” – RALPH WALDO EMERSON

When I read the Bhagavat Gita and reflect how God created this universe, everything else seems so superfluous. – ALBERT EINSTEIN

The most practical teaching of Gita, and one for which it is of abiding interest and value to the rest of the men of the world with whom life is a series of struggle, is not to give way to any morbid sentimentality when duty demands sterness and boldness to face terrible things. –BAL GANGADHAR TILAK

The Bhagwat Gita is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity. – ALDOUS HUXLEY

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