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

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WISHING EVERYONE A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS DIWAL noI 

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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CHHENA PODA / छेना पोड़ा (Burnt Cheese Cake) – Egg Free & Gluten Free

The Hindu festival of Rath Yatra will commence on the 25th June this year. This festival takes place each year at Puri and whats better than sharing this recipe which happens to be the favorite food of the diety, Lord Jagannath. A recipe from the historically rich state of Odisha (located on the eastern shores of India) can easily pass off as India’s answer to the western cheesecake. The difference being that you need not prep for any base for this cake. It yields a base and edges upon getting baked. It has therefore rightly earned itself the name, Chhena Poda which roughly translates to ‘burnt cheese’. The cheese here refers to freshly made cottage cheese that is mashed and made fragrant with cardamom powder, loosened with whey or milk, sweetened with jaggery or sugar and traditionally baked in sal tree leaves or banana leaves over traditional oven. I was introduced to this delicacy by my mother-in-law who has spent couple of years in Odisha and she used to relate this story of how this dessert came into being. I have shared below that version which is available on the Wiki.

“It is said that chhena poda originated in the Odia town of Nayagarh in the first half of the twentieth century. The owner of a confectionery, a certain Sudarshana Sahoo decided to add sugar and seasonings to leftover cottage cheese one night, and left it in an oven that was still warm from earlier use. The next day, he was pleasantly surprised to find out what a scrumptious dessert he had created.” – Wikipedia

2½ litres Milk (could yield approx 450 grams of paneer)

½ C Yogurt (Whisked) – add more if required OR a few tbsp Lemon Juice

1 tbsp Rice Flour

5 tbsp Caster Sugar (adjust to taste)

1/3 C plus 3 tbsp Milk

1 tsp Ghee

1 tsp Cardamom Powder

Heat the milk in a pot. (It should not come to a boil.) Add yogurt or lemon juice (which ever you are using). Stir the milk till the whey (water) separates from the cheese. Add more yogurt or lemon juice if required. Once the whey separates, switch off the heat and leave the paneer in the pot for 5 minutes.

Line a sieve with cheese cloth or muslin cloth and sieve the cottage cheese. (You can place a pot underneath the sieve if you wish to collect the whey for using it for making dough or using it for soup or adding it to your curries)

{You will need to run water through the paneer to get rid of sour taste of lemon in case you are using lemon juice for making paneer}

Set aside the sieve for 10 – 15 minutes to remove excess whey.

Set the oven to pre-heat at 180 degrees C.

Transfer the cottage cheese/ paneer to a plate or bowl and using the base of your palm, mash the paneer for five to seven minutes (depending how soft or firm your paneer is). The consistency does not need to be too smooth as the cake is supposed to have grainy texture upon being baked.

Now add the rice flour, caster sugar, ghee and cardamom powder and lightly mix it in.

Add the milk and mix it well. Taste it for sugar and add more if required, before you put it in oven for baking.

Grease a 6 inch round baking tin with a little ghee or butter and line the bottom of the tin with parchment paper (I greased the parchment paper too).

Decant the paneer batter into the baking tin evenly. Tap it gently on the kitchen counter to get rid of any pockets in the batter. Smoothen the top of the paneer batter with a spatula or a spoon and place the tin in the pre-heated oven.

Bake for 25 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre of cake comes out clean.

Remove the baking tin from the oven and allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn over the cake on to the serving plate. Remove the parchment paper from over the cake. Slice and serve the cake. Enjoy!

Note: The cake tastes best when eaten warm or at room temperature.

Note: I have noticed that unlike western cheesecakes, this one does not do too well when it is refrigerated.

Note: Usually semolina is added to this recipe for texture. However, I wanted to keep it gluten free and swapped it with rice flour. In case you wish to add semolina, use 2 tbsp of fine semolina.

Note: Cashew nuts and raisins are also added to this cake, however, I did not use them since my family does not like nuts in bakes or desserts.

Note: If your cake fails to turn brown at the bottom, post baking, you can turn it over on an oven-proof dish and broil it.

Serves – 8 – 10

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KURKURI BHINDI CHAAT / कुरकुरी भिन्डी चाट (Crispy Okra Snack – Indian Street Food)

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North Indian street food and the variety it offers are amazing. There are many variants but most chaats are yogurt based that have a generous drizzle of Tamarind Chutney and Green Chutney and a sprinkle of many wonderful spices such as roasted ground cumin powder, rock salt, Chaat Masala or spice mix. It is always lip smacking good and making a choice between the many chaats can be sometimes quite a task! The chaat may be hot or cold / room temperature. Dahi Bhalla chaat for instance is served either at room temperature or cold and same is the case with the Spinach Fritters Chaat. Whereas the Aloo Tikki Chaat (Potato Patties) is served hot straight off the skillet and ditto with the Samosa Chaat. I visit Delhi twice a year to meet family and friends i.e. once in summer and once at the onset of winters. And during my summer visit it is always the dahi bhalla chaat that I choose and during the winter visits it is the piping hot aloo tikka chaat or crispy potato chaat (try the one that is sold at kiosk at Barakhamba road, right outside IDBI Bank and not towards HDFC Bank).

However, there is nothing as Bhindi Chaat that is served at any chaat corner. It is me taking a step further on from bhindi raita and turning it into chaat. Feel free to leave out chutneys and serve the crispy fried okra with spiced up yogurt for bhindi raita. And in case you do not want to have it even as raita, then simply serve the crispy fried okra as a side dish along with rice and lentils. It will taste good…but not as good as a chaat would. I prefer making the tamarind chutney from scratch since it is so much better than the store brought ones and it does not take much time to make either.

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Bhindi is not liked by many because it releases slime when it is cooked. Therefore one needs to either make a quick stir fry or ‘cure’ it with something citrus such as lemon juice, dry mango powder or tomatoes when making a curry dish. But for this dish, the okra is thinly sliced and then marinated with spices and coated with the gluten free chick pea flour before being fried, which turns out to be a sure shot way of killing all that slimy stuff and the result is crispy and delicious okra fritters.

For Okra Fritters

300 grams  approx. – Okra / Bhindi / Ladies Finger (Buy tender okra for this and avoid thick mature ones.)

1 tsp (scant)  salt

1 tsp Red Chili flakes

1/4 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp roasted Cumin Powder

1½ tsp Coriander Powder

¼ C Besan (chick pea flour) + Rice Flour (take the ¼ measuring cup and fill half the cup with chickpea flour and the rest with rice flour)

Oil to fry

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To serve:

1 Cups Yogurt (whipped lightly)

Roasted Cumin Powder for sprinkle, optional

Red Chili Powder to sprinkle, optional

Chaat Masala to sprinkle, optional

Tamarind Chutney to drizzle

Green Chutney to drizzle

Wash and drain the okra. Pat dry to remove any excess moisture. Chop off the top and bottom of the okra and chop the okra into thin slices vertically. (do not slice too thin else the okra slices will burn easily while frying)

In a small bowl, mix together all the spices – salt, roasted cumin powder, coriander powder, chili flakes, mango powder and turmeric.

Sprinkle the spices all over okra and massage well with your hands so as to ensure that all the slices are well coated with the spice mix. Set aside for 5 – 7 minutes.

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Keep the oil to heat in frying pan or wok. Meanwhile prep the okra.

Arrange / layer the okra on a plate. Mix together the flours and using a sieve, sprinkle/ dust the flour mix over the okra (basically dredge the okra). Gently using your finger tips mix it into the okra so that all the okra slices are well coated.

Fry the okra pieces (in batches) till they turn golden brown in color (ensure that you keep stirring them often to prevent the okra from burning). It took me approximately 5 minutes time. (the time will depend on how thick or thin you have sliced the okra)

Remove the okra from the oil on to an absorbent paper or kitchen towel. Allow it to cool.

Arrange okra on individual serving plates. Drizzle yogurt over the okra and then some tamarind chutney and green chutney. Sprinkle spices if required. Serve immediately else the okra will go soft, sitting in yogurt.

Serves: 2 – 3

Note: Try to slice the okra in even size. This will help the okra to cook evenly and in the same time.

Note: In case you intend to serve the crispy okra as an appetizer or snack (i.e. without yogurt or as a chaat), sprinkle it with some Chaat Masala.

Note: Remove as much of seeds as you can from the okra while slicing them.

Note: Adjust the amount of yogurt as per taste.

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Try these Indian street foods too:

Sundal (Sautéed Bengal Grams) – gluten free

Thonga Jhaal Muri (Spiced up Savoury Puffed Rice) – gluten free

Achaari Paneer Tikka Roll (Pickled Cottage Cheese Roll) – gluten free

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