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HARA CHANA BURFI / हरे चने की बर्फी (Green Garbanzo Beans Fudge)

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There have been phases where I have oscillated between being a non vegetarian and then switching back to being a vegetarian. I wasn’t always a non vegetarian. In my mother’s house, we rarely had chicken or mutton and fish was a rarity, except for fish fritters in winters. The emphasis was always on eating one’s veggies. The things however changed once I moved to my marital house where I encountered hard core carnivores. Everyday at least one meal would have fish, mutton or chicken. And if anyone in the house was not in a mood for vegetables on the menu, they would simply have an omelette with bread. So much of non veg food, was quite something for me to handle. There would come a point when I wouldn’t even want to hear the word chicken or fish. When we moved into our own house, I ensured that we incorporated more veggies in our meals. And last year, when I switched over to being a vegetarian, again, I tried to incorporate as many veggies and lentils & legumes that I possibly could, into my meals. I try cooking them in different ways so that they provide me with a healthy variety of meals.

Although green garbanzo beans are a seasonal produce, you can find them being sold in dried form just as regular black or white chick peas at your grocery store. Soak them the same way as well and you have them just as fresh green garbanzo beans would be. I enjoy them as a salad, in rice pilaf and as a curry or as this fudge here. The fudge takes very little time to get cooked and makes for a healthy and tasty dessert.

1 C Dry Green Chickpeas (Chholiya)

¼ C plus 1 tbsp Ghee

250 grams Khoya (Mawa)

¾ C Sugar (adjust to taste)

1½ tsp Cardamom Powder

2 – 3 tbsp finely sliced Pistachio

2 – 3 tbsp slivered Almonds

Pick, wash and soak the green chick peas in water for 5 – 6 hours. (I soaked them over night)

Drain the soaked chickpeas and grind them to a coarse paste (it is purely a matter of taste whether you like coarsely grained chick peas or want to turn them into a fine paste)

In a heavy bottom cooking pan or wok (kadahi), heat the ghee and add the chick pea paste.

Roast it for a minute on high flame stirring continuously and then reduce the heat and roast it till the colour begins to change and the raw smell is gone. (A total of 7 minutes approx.)

Add milk along with cardamom powder, two tablespoons pistachio and two tablespoons almonds and keep cooking on low heat for another two minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and keep aside and cover it.

In another heavy bottom pan or kadahi, roast the mawa on low heat without adding any ghee.

Roast till the colour changes to golden.

Switch off from the heat and allow to cool. Add mawa and sugar to the roasted chick peas and mix it all well till everything is well incorporated.

Decant the contents in a plate or tray (mine was 9½ inches by 7 inch) and using a spatula spread it around and even it out. Level the surface and garnish with the remaining pistachios and almonds.

Cover with a cling wrap (with the cling wrap touching the contents as this will prevent any moisture to develop inside). Keep the tray in the refrigerator for the fudge to firm up so that you can slice it with ease.

Once it is firm, cut the fudge in slices of the size you desire and serve. Enjoy!

Note: In case you intend to use fresh green chick peas (when they are in season), here is an idea of the approximate weight – the soaked and drained weight of the garbanzo beans was approximately 370 grams (+ / -).

Yield: 15 slices

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CHHENAR PAYESH / छेनार पाएश (Cottage Cheese & Milk Pudding)


The festive season has begun and you are going to see more of desserts and traditional Indian confections/ mithai here. The variety of Indian confection is staggering. The base for most desserts is either mawa i.e. thick reduced milk (also called khoya) or chhena (freshly made paneer). We have our Suji Halwa, Aata Halwa and halwas made from vegetables and even nuts but they fall in another category of desserts. I am here talking about Indian mithai or what you can call Indian confection. While the khoya (reduced milk) is the base for most north Indian mithai (Indian confection)  it is chhena that is most loved by eastern states of Odisha and Bengal. I have grown up loving khoya mitha such as Gulab Jamun but I equally love the mithai made with chhena. Rather I prefer chhena mithai now as it is easy on the tummy than its rich counterpart mawa. Payesh is Bengali for kheer or milk based pudding. It can be Sabudana Payesh or it can be Chaler Payesh (rice pudding) and many more such varieties of payesh. But chhena payesh is the best in my view. I can have it every single day of the year! I tried to replicate the taste of the chhena payesh made by the ‘Sweet Bengal’ confectionery and I believe it is pretty close to it; although I would have loved it more, had it been made with the date palm jaggery but I had run out of stock. It is difficult to find date palm jaggery throughout the year but it is easily available during the cold winter months albeit for a short duration. The best way to enjoy this jaggery all through the year is to buy it in bulk when available and freezing it. I enjoy my cake sweetend with this jaggery. You can try this Wholemeal Jaggery Cake scented with cardamom if you are a fan of wholesome healthy cakes.

1 litre Full cream Milk

1½ litre Cow’s Milk

1½ tbsp Lemon Juice

1 tsp APF (Maida)

600 – 650 mls Water

250 grams Sugar

1 – 1½ tsp Cornflour

A few teaspoons Milk

½ tsp Cardamom Powder

In a heavy bottom pan or wok, boil the full cream milk. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer. Keep stirring every now and then to prevent it from catching at the bottom and getting burnt.

Keep simmering the milk of low heat stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile boil the toned milk and and remove it from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. The whey will start to separate from the milk. Give it a few more minutes before the whey and paneer separate completely. If not, put it on heat again and stir for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth or muslin cloth and drain the whey (or reserve it for making dough, adding to curries or soups etc.).

Wash the paneer under running water to get rid of the sourness of lemon juice.

Hang the cheesecloth with paneer, over a faucet, for an hour to get rid of excess liquid.

Transfer the chhena (paneer) to a plate and mash for four to five minutes or till it becomes smooth. Add a teaspoon of maida and incorporate it in the chhena.

Make smooth, marble sized, balls out of the mashed chhena. (the paneer balls will increase in size so do not get tempted to go beyond this size)

Boil the water in a wide pot and add sugar to it. Once the sugar has dissolved and the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the chhena balls (Ensure that the pot is not over crowded with the chhena balls. The balls will double in size once they get cooked so leave enough space for them to swell)

Cover the pot and cook the balls on high flame for four minutes. Switch off heat and allow the balls to sit in the liquid for five minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the cornflour to a few teaspoons of milk and ensure that there are no lumps.

Once the simmering milk has reduced to approximately 650 – 700 ml amount, add the cornflour mix to the milk and stir it well. Cook for half a minute and remove the milk from the heat.

Remove the chhena balls from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and add it to the reduced milk.

Allow the chhena to sit in the milk for 5 minutes (do stir it once in a while, while it is cooling) and then taste the payesh. Add sugar if required. (Since we do not like our desserts too sweet, I added one tablespoon of sugar)

The pudding will thicken as it cools. Do keep stirring it occasionally till it cools completely. Chill in the refrigerator before serving or serve at room temperature.

Serves – 4 – 6

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Thanks to the receding monsoon, the weather here has been super erratic. One day it begins to rains and one feels like indulging in pakoras (fritters) and twenty four hours later we have sun shining brightly upon us and one feels like guzzling chilled coolers. The swing of temps from cool to hot and humid take their toll on health. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we are able to sail through this weather without falling ill. Unlike the rest of the world (to be precise, those residing in the northern hemisphere), looking forward to autumn, we here are bracing ourselves for the heat and humidity that will keep us company for the coming two months. We do not dream of persimmons, cinnamon, apples, pumpkins. Instead, salads, light curries and coolers, that had been our saviors during the summers, return with much enthusiasm back on our table 😛 I find this heat really suffocating. I try to finish off my cooking chores for the day, during the morning itself. Although, mornings are nowhere near cool but the intensity of heat and humidity is bearable. For the rest of the day, I try to lay low, ensuring that I stay well hydrated.

Goes without saying that the bananas don’t fare too well in this heat. Guess I need to buy them lesser in number. But then, over ripe bananas are never a bad news, hai na? Coz they are an excuse to bake a banana cake or bread! Everyone has their favorite recipe for banana bread. Taking a cue from these cookies that I had baked earlier, I turned mine into Chia Seeds and Cacao Nibs Banana Bread. I have to admit, that there was this huge urge for adding dark chocolate chunks but I resisted it since I wanted chia and cacao nibs to be the twin heroes of this sweet bread. And I am really pleased with the way it turned out – a little crunch from the chia seeds, the little chocolaty bites from the cacao nibs, perfect amount of sweetness from ripe bananas, beautiful color lent by the coconut sugar and perfect amount of moistness added by the yogurt. 😊

For this healthy and scrumptious bread you will need the following ingredients.

Dry Ingredients

¾ C Maida (APF)

¾ C Aata (Whole meal flour)

½ C Rolled or Quick cooking Oats

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda (Soda bi-carb)

2 tbsp Chia Seeds

2½ tbsp Cacao Nibs (plus extra for sprinkling over the top)


Wet Ingredients

2 Eggs

¼ C Yogurt

1/3 C Oil (any neutral oil)

1 C plus 2 tbsp Coconut Sugar (or caster sugar)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3 ripe Bananas, medium size

1 tbsp Lemon juice

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C.

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients mentioned under the dry ingredients category. Keep aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and yogurt till combined. Add eggs and whisk until completely combined and the mixture is smooth.

Whisk in the oil and vanilla extract. Peel and mash the bananas with the back of a fork and mix in the lemon juice. Fold this in to the liquid mixture.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry one and fold in till just combined. Do not over mix or whisk. It is okay if the batter is not smooth in consistency. (Over whisking will result in funnels in the cake and yield a dry textured bread.)

Transfer the contents into a 10 inch by 4.5 inch bread tin (i believe an 8 inch by 4.5 inch one would also be just fine) and bake for approximately 50 – 55 minutes or till the skewer inserted comes out clean. (Do keep an eye after half an hour. If the bread is becoming too brown over the top, cover loosely with an aluminium foil)

Remove from the oven and place the bread tin over a wire rack. Cool for 10 – 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of the bread and turn it over onto the wire rack.

Allow to cool completely and then slice and serve.

Enjoy it with your morning coffee or your afternoon tea.

Serves 8

Notes: For egg free bread, swap the each egg with 1 tbsp flax seed powder soaked for fifteen minutes in 2.5 tbsp of water.

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