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THANDAI LATTE

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Trying to kill two birds with one stone. Here is a post that is the first among a series of posts that will follow through to the colorful festival of Holi. Thandai is specific to Holi, however, this nutty, spicy, aromatic beverage makes for a great drink for those celebrating Valentines Day. Spices are so integral to Indian way of cooking that you will find them in savories, sweets, pickles, chutneys and our drinks. And why not?! They give every dish a boost in taste and health, taking them to the next level i.e. if they are used judiciously and in the right amount. Balance is the key when using spices especially ones that are bitter or really intense such a turmeric or asafoetida. ‘A little goes a long way’ is the mantra one needs to follow.

Coming back to the Thandai, also called as Sardai, it is consumed chilled as a beverage on the festival of Holi and also Maha Shivratri. Another version that is popular among some, is the Bhaang Thandai which makes use of cannibis leaves that is used along with other ingredients for making thandai.

I have however, turned the drink into a latte and it became my nightcap of sorts through the winters. The spices and nuts give it a rich flavour and make it a beautiful and comforting beverage for chilly winters. Feel free to reduce or increase the amount of which ever ingredient you wish to, to suit your taste.

Here is the amount of ingredients I had used for this delicious hot beverage 🙂

12 Almonds

12 Cashews

12 Pistachios

1 tbsp Melon seeds

20 – 25 Black Pepper corns

2 tsp Poppy Seeds (white poppy seeds are used for this beverage)

1 tsp Fennel seeds

1/3 C Water

½ tsp Cardamom powder

1 pinch Saffron plus extra for garnish

3 tbsp Milk

1 tsp Cornflour

3 tbsp Milk

4 – 5 tsp Sweetner of your choice (I had used agave nectar)

600 ml Milk (dairy or non dairy)

Wash and soak the first seven ingredients in one third cup water, over night.

Soak saffron in a three tablespoons milk. Set aside for atleat an hour. (the longer the better)

Grind the soaked seven ingredients, along with the water, to a smooth paste.

Heat milk and add the saffron milk to it along with the paste.

Stir well and simmer on low heat for 5 – 7 minutes. Stir every now and then.

Mix the cornflour well in remaining three tablespoons milk and add gradually to the simmering milk, stirring all the while.

Add cardamom powder and simmer further for a minute.

Switch off the heat and add sweetener of your choice.

(You can sieve the milk before serving or you can serve it as it is.)

If you like the milk frothy, you can whisk it using a hand whisk or an electric mixer or perhaps an immersion blender.

Pour in serving glasses and garnish with finely chopped pistachios and slivered almonds and a few threads of saffron (garnish is optional)

(Don’t forget to check the ‘NOTES’ below)

Note – Since we do not like rose flavor, so I gave rose petals a miss. Feel free to use it if you enjoy the flavors of rose. And if you do not have rose petals then swap it with gulkand (rose petal preserve).

Note – We like just a subtle hint of fennel therefore I used one teaspoon of fennel seeds. Go for 2 tsp if you like to have pronounced flavors.

Note – Also, once the latte is ready, I prefer to set it aside for 15 – 20 minutes for flavors to infuse really well. Then reheat it before serving.

Note – I had removed the skin of almonds before making the paste.

Serves – 5 (120 ml each)

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

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AVOCADO NUTELLA MOUSSE (egg free & gluten free)

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This is going to be my first proper post for Valentines! I have actually never given much heed to uploading posts especially for Valentines. My previous two posts for Valentines were dedicated to my dad and my late mother. Parents are perhaps the only people in the world who will love you unconditionally and that is why my previous posts were dedicated to them. Those posts were not about any fancy dish but simple recipes that were full of nostalgia. However, this time around it is courtesy Better Homes and Gardens Indian magazine that I got to posting this mousse for Valentines. The magazine had invited entries for celebrating their 10th anniversary and I grabbed the opportunity to send this as an entry vying for the top six best recipe to be featured. So here I am sharing this sinfully delicious mousse that gets ready in minutes (minus the chilling time) and is guilt free…well nearly.

The best thing about this decadent dessert is that it can be prepped a day or two ahead of when you intend to serve it. Rather I suggest that you let it sit over night for the flavours to integrate and infuse well. I spiked it with Grand Marnier and added cacao nibs for some texture and added taste. It is a heavently treat especially for chocolate lovers. Avocado added a beautiful smooth velvety texture and nutella added richness with cocoa powder keeping that richness under check. And I decided to serve this mousse not in jar or plate but in cones making it chic to serve. Without more words, I will take you to the recipe.

250 grams Avocado flesh (the avocado should be firm but ripe)

4 tbsp Nutella

1 tbsp Grand Marnier

3 tbsp Cocoa Powder

2 tbsp Cacao Nibs

2 tbsp Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar)

In a blender or food processor, blitz together all ingredients except cacao nibs till it attains a smooth consistency.

Decant the contents in a glass bowl and fold in one and a half table spoon of cacao nibs. Retain half a tablespoon to sprinkle while serving.

You can now spoon the mousse individual glasses or bowls in which you intend to serve it. Or you can chill it in a bowl and scoop it and serve it in ice cream cones like I did.

Sprinkle cacao nibs before serving.

Enjoy!!

Note: I suggest you first add only 1 tbsp of sugar and check for sweetness. Only if you feel the need to add more, then go ahead 1 more table spoon.

Note: You can swap Grand Marnier with milk. and add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract.

Note: Ensure that the avocado is not over ripe else the texture will be loose.

Note: Taste and adjust the amount of sweetness or bitterness that you would like to have.

Note: I had used Hershey’s extra dark cocoa powder hence there might be some difference in the color of the mousse if you try it with regular cocoa powder.

Serves: 4 (approximately 4 medium scoops)

Thanks for visiting. See you soon again with another exciting recipe.

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This recipe had originally appeared in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine for their 10th Anniversary Issue in 2017. 

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CHIA SEEDS AND CACAO NIBS OATS COOKIES

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Oats may not find favour in my house in the form of porridge but cookies with oats are much loved and happily lapped up. They are healthy, easy to make, great for breakfast (especially for those hectic madenning weekday mornings), good to snack on or to pack for kid’s snack box…who am I to complain?! And yes, they are eggless and take no more than half an hour, of your precious time, to get ready. A winner all the way! This recipe is originally meant for flapjacks, also know as health bars and you can bake them in an eight inch square tin or may be a rectangular baking tin if you fancy. Bake these just as you would bake the flapjacks. They will take approximately the same baking time as these cookies. My daughter thinks they tasted similar to cookies she used to have from Cookie Man. Enjoy them in bars (flapjacks) or as cookies. But we prefer cookies to bars since the bars turn out somewhat chewy. If you are unable to get your hands on rolled oats feel free to swap them with muesli.

1 C scant (100g) Flour (Maida)

1 C Oats (100g) Rolled Oats

½ C Caster Sugar

½ C Desiccated Coconut

3 tbsp Chia Seeds

3 tbsp Cacao Nibs

100g Butter (Coconut oil for Vegans)

1 tbsp of golden syrup, or treacle

2 tbsp boiling Water

1 tsp Baking Soda (bicarbonate of soda)

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease two baking sheets and set them aside.

In a bowl, mix together the first six ingredients in the ingredient list. Keep aside.

In a wok or pan, melt the butter on medium heat. As soon as it melts, add the golden syrup and stir it in.

Add the boiling water and immediately add the soda and whisk it in. It will begin to foam up.

Remove from heat and quickly add and stir in the the dry ingredients. Mix everything well so there are no dry bits.

Take a tablespoon full of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Place it on to the greased baking sheet keeping a distance of two inces between each cookie.

Bake the cookie dough for 20 minutes or until the balls flatten and are golden brown in colour. (I like mine crisp so I baked them for 22 minutes)

Remomve the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool before you remove them onto a wire rack.

Note: Don’t worry if you don’t have chia seeds or cacao nibs. Add what ever you wish to! Go ahead with choco chips, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts of your choice…basically what ever you fancy.

Note: If I was to make any edits to this recipe, I would probably go with a little less butter and throw in some finely chopped walnuts.

Note: If you have a single baking sheet like I do, you will obviously have to wait for the first batch to come out of the oven before you can go with the second round baking. I suggest that when you put in the second batch of cookies to bake, flatten the balls of the second batch to half their size. This is to ensure that the cookies spread and bake well like the first batch.

Yield – 18 Cookies

Adapted from here

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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