Easy Food Smith

Posts Tagged / Fats & Oils

LEHSUNI PANEER / लहसुनी पनीर (Garlicky Cottage Cheese Curry) – GF

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Paneer is to vegetarians what eggs are to non vegetarians – a quick, easy, simple ingredient that can be turned into so many variety of dishes. In north India, if you are expecting a vegetarian at your house for a meal, paneer will invariably find its way to the menu (even more so, if it happens to be a Punjabi household). Paneer is a vegetarian delicacy of sorts. And its versatility makes it an easy ingredient to work with. You can turn it into tikka or bhurjee or kofta curry and even a cheesecake – it will never fail you. Use it with some spices and herbs to make filling for your jaffles or stuffed flatbread and there you have an excellent breakfast dish to be polished off with pickle and chai! You can find a post I had done during my initial blogging years on how to make paneer at home. The process is simple and you can use it for so many recipes or have it on its own with some sprinkle of chaat masala.

This recipe may seem to be using a lot of garlic but when it pairs with other ingredients, it mellow downs (you’ve got to trust me on that). The key here is not to compromise on the usage of tomatoes. I usually chop the tomatoes and blitz them in a grinder. For this recipe, I could obtain about one third cup tomato puree (without adding water) from one medium sized tomato. Also, do not hold yourself back from using milk. It helps bring a balance to the sourness of tomatoes, tones down the garlic and mellows the heat of chillies. This curry gets ready in under 15 minutes, what more can you ask for 😀

2 – 3 tbsp Oil

½ tsp Cumin Seeds

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

2 small Onions (thickly sliced)

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4 fat cloves Garlic (grated) {approximately 1 tbsp}

1 medium Tomato

1/3 C Milk

300 grams Paneer, (cubed)

½ tsp Turmeric Powder

½ – ¾ tsp Chili Powder (adjust to taste)

2 tsp Coriander Powder

½ tsp Garam Masala

Salt to taste

2 whole Green Chilies

Fresh Coriander to garnish

This curry takes no time to cook. So be ready with all ingredients.

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Wash, chop and blitz the tomato in a grinder. You should have at least 1/3 cup or more of tomato puree. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to crackle, add onions and fry them on medium heat till they turn translucent and just begin to turn golden.

Now add grated garlic and fry till the garlic changes color to golden and becomes aromatic. Add the tomatoes and along with the spices and salt.

Keep stirring the contents on medium heat till the masala begins to leave oil on the sides. Now add milk and lower the heat.

Split chilies in 3 or 4 pieces and throw them in the curry. Add the paneer and stir it in. Add more milk if required at this stage. (I do not like my curry loose and rather prefer the masala coating the paneer pieces well. Suit youself)

Cook for a minute and the curry is ready. (you do not need to cook the paneer much else it will turn rubbery)

Stir in some freshly coriander to the curry and garnish the rest before serving. Remove the contents in a serving bowl and serve with roti, paratha or naan. YUM!

Note: I have added split whole green chilies coz I just wanted some grassy flavors of the chili added to the curry. Feel free to add them chopped in case you wish to add some more heat to the curry.

Note: Also, you can tinker with the amount of ingredients you wish to use.

Serves 4 (as side dish)

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

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THEKUA/ ठेकुआ (Fried Indian Cookies)

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Six days after Diwali, the festival of Chhath (छठ) is welcomed and celebrated with great fervour and devotion in the the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh. The sun is worshiped with great reverence since it is considered as the provider of energy and life force. Thekua is an integral part of the chhath puja. An offering is made of this fried cookie along with fruits to the setting and rising sun. I am in awe of those who observe the chhath fasting of three days, abstaining food and water especially since I can’t go without food or water for even a day. Thekua is considered as Prasad, an offering made to the Gods. Although I have not seen this mithai being made at any other time of the year, knowing my love for it, my mother-in-law makes it for me anytime that I request her to or when we visit her for our annual vacation. She is currently visiting us and I could not let this opportunity go waste. 😉

So many adjectives can be used to describe these fried Indian cookies – rustic, moreish, earthy, comforting. Similar to khajoor or khajur cookies, they are great to snack or when travelling since they stay good for weeks in an air tight jar or to pack them in your picnic basket. Thekua has no preservatives or raising agents. When it comes to festival cooking and eating, I don’t hold myself back on indulgence. It is only on festivals, twice or thrice a year that one really indulges in all sweet, fried goodies, made mostly from ghee – may that be halwa, gulab jamuns or thekua. So chill and enjoy it! 😀

1 kg Wheat Flour

½ C desicated Coconut

1 tbsp Fennel seeds

1 tsp Cardamom Powder

100 gm Ghee (edited 12 Nov. – I feel they came out better when I increased the amount to 130 grams)

550 – 600 gm Jaggery

250 ml Water

Ghee for deep frying

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Scrap and soak the jaggery in water. (I had added it to hot water to hasten the process) Once the jaggery has dissolved completely, strain it through a muslin cloth to discard any grit and other impurities.

While the jaggery is soaking, add ghee to the wheat flour and rub it well for approximately 10 – 12 minutes. Now take a handful in your fist and press it. If the flour is not falling apart, it is ready to be turned into dough.

Add strained jaggery water to the flour in three installments while making the dough. (I allowed the jaggery water to cool down before adding it to the flour) You do not have to knead the dough. Once the flour comes together and there are no dry patches, the dough is done.

Heat the ghee in a frying pan or wok. Reduce the heat to low while you beginning shaping the dough. At all times, keep the dough covered to prevent it from drying out else it will be difficult to make the thekua cookies.

Take some dough in your hands. Keep pressing the dough between the palm and fingers of one hand to make a smooth round ball. Press it down between your palms to flatten it and then make imprint on the dough pressing it further to bring its thickness to a little more than half a centimetre. It is perfectly fine, if the sides have some cracks. These will give crispiness to the cookies.

Now, fry them on low heat till they just turn reddish brown in color. Remove on absorbent sheet and serve once cool. Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!

Note: These fried cookies are love’s labour and require time since the thekua needs to be fried on low heat for it to be cooked till deep inside.

Note: I measured and used exactly 50 grams of dough to make each thekua.

Note: If at any point of time the dough turns dry and difficult to handle (though it shouldn’t if you keep it covered), sprinkle a little water and mix it in the dough.

Note: I used my potato masher to make imprints on the cookie dough. The imprints make the cookie crispy besides making it look good.

Note: The cookies will be soft when you remove them from oil but they will harden once they cool.

Yields – 36 cookies

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

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5th Bloganniv. with KESAR THANDAI COOKIES / केसर ठंडाई बिस्कुट (Eggless Spicy Shortbread Cookies)

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“…Time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much…” These lines written by Hy Zaret for the song Unchained Melodies certainly do not apply to the pace at which the time flew past and how EFS now enters into its sixth year of blogging. Each year it felt unbelievable coz when I had started out, I had no idea for how long I would keep uploading regular posts. I feel pleased and contented the way this blog has been fairing despite a few phases of neglect (mostly unintentional) by me. I can never thank the blogging community enough for helping keep this blog running with their encouraging words and for the love and warmth that they have showered upon EFS. Thank you so much everyone from the bottom of my heart – my blogger friends, readers, visitors, followers, those who tip toe by, all my friends and my ever supportive family. Without you all I would not have travelled this far.

For the first blog anniversary of EFS, I had uploaded a savory post. And the following year I missed my own blog anniversary (those who know me well will tell you that I am pretty capable of doing that) as I was on sabbatical. The third year, it was Blitz & Bake Beetroot Chocolate Cake. For the fourth year, I chose to go Indian and opted for Suji Halwa, a cardamom and saffron flavoured semolina pudding. So for this year, I zeroed in on doing a fusion recipe. Since the festival of Holi falls in the month of March this year, I plan on of doing a couple of Holi related posts through this month and wanted to kick start it with Thandai. (Thandai is a nuts, seeds & spiced milk beverage that is sometimes spiked with bhaang i.e. leaves and flowers of cannabis and traditionally served during the festival of colors called Holi. Well, no cannabis here for sure) Doing a kulfi post on thandai sounded good for holi but then I thought of clubbing it with blog anniversary post and turn it into something different.

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It won’t be long before the humidity will make it nearly impossible to bake cookies here. Therefore the idea to turn the thandai into cookies struck. However, it didn’t take long to realise at google that I wasn’t the first person on the blogosphere to be hit with the ‘eureka moment’ of thinking about thandai cookies. There is already a post on thandai cookies but nevertheless I chose to go ahead and celebrate it just the way I wanted to. They turned out amazing, with the warmth of saffron and hint of fennel. They are going to be my ‘go to cookies’ for a while for sure. So, join me in celebrating EFS’s fifth anniversary with these spiced up cookies…perfect with that cup of coffee or your favourite tea.

Thandai Mix

¼ C Almonds (lightly toasted)

1 tbsp Melon seeds (charmagaz)

12 – 14 Peppercorns

1 tbsp Poppy seeds (White) / Poshto / Khus khus

1 tbsp Fennel seed Powder

½ tsp Cardamom  Powder

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For Cookies:

120 grams Butter

½ C + 2 tbsp Caster Sugar

1¼ C Maida / APF

¼ C + 2 tbsp Aata / Wholemeal

¼ tsp Baking Powder

A pinch of Baking Soda / Soda Bi-carb

¼ tsp Saffron

1½  tbsp warm milk (to soak the saffron strands)

½ C Thandai Mix

¼ C finely chopped Almonds (optional)

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In a spice blender grind to powder rest of the ingredients mentioned under thandai mix. Store in a small jar or bottle.

Crush the saffron and soak it in warm milk for at least an hour to steep its flavor.

Whisk together the maida, whole meal, baking powder and baking soda for half minute. (I used a hand whisk to do this job.) Mix in the thandai mix and whisk for another half a minute. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Mix in the saffron milk and then the flour mix. Bring together the butter and flour mix till there are no dry bits. Do not over work with the dough. (You do not need to knead the dough.)

Roll the dough into a log that is 7 to 7½ inch long. (I rolled the dough log in finely chopped almonds for texture and for pretty looking cookies.) Tightly wrap the rolled dough in a cling film, ensuring to retain its shape, and keep in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (to obtain a hard dough so that it can be easily sliced)

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C for five minutes.

Unwrap the cling film and slice the cookie dough log in half inch thick slices and arrange them on a baking sheet at least half a centimetre gap. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes or till the edges begin to turn golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before carefully transferring them on to the wire rack. Cool completely before storing them in an air tight jar.

Yield : 2 dozen approximately.

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Some more cookies that are eggs free:

Nankhatai (Traditional Indian Shortbread Cookies)

Espresso Walnut Cookies

Pistachio & Cranberries Lemon Shortbread Cookies 

Black Sesame Cookies (Gluten free)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

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