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RODU / रोड़ु (Himachali Coconut Mawa Laddu) – GF

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HAPPY JANAMASHTAMI AND A HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!

It will be India’s 70th Independence Day on 15th August this year. And sorry to disappoint you in case you were looking forward to me posting some tricolour dish to celebrate it. Bloggers have over the year posted tricolored curry, rice, cake, cookies, rasgullas and what not. So basically nothing much is left to present the Indian tri-colour in the culinary world I think 😛 Okay, I am kidding 😀

India is all about its diversity; diversity in landscape, in food, in religion/ beliefs, culture, language, seasons, traditions and so much more. And I feel so blessed to be born in a family where this diversity is celebrated so beautifully. I was born in a Punjabi family. But in my family, I have close cousins married to Sindhi, Sikh, Muslim, Kashmiri, Parsi, Maharashtrian & Bengali. Oh yes, there is an Aunt who is a Christian and another who is from Himachal, not to forget that I am married to a Bihari. It is so wonderful that we get to celebrate the diversity of our great nation throughout the year on some occasion or the other.

Therefore, I am today sharing these Coconut Mawa Laddus called RODU from the northern hilly state of Himachal. These laddus are a taste of my childhood, one that I grew up eating and loving. These were my absolute favourite then. I hope you try them in your kitchen and enjoy them as much.

500 grams Khopa (whole dehydrated coconut)

250 grams Chhuhara (dried dates/ dry khajoor)

125 grams Almonds

125 grams Cashewnuts

500 grams Mawa (Khoya)

250 grams Sugar

1 tsp Cardamom Powder

1 Black Cardamom (seeds only, ground)

½ tsp Cinnamon Powder

½ tsp Mace powder

¼ tsp pinch Nutmeg powder

1 Scant C Water (i.e. more than 3/4 cup but less than 1 Cup)

Mix all the spices together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Grate the coconut. Set aside.

Deseed chhuhara and finely chop. If you find it difficult to chop them (since they can be sometimes really dry), bash them in mortar and pestle and then it is easier to handle them and chop them. Set aside.

Chop the nuts. (I lightly dry roasted the nuts before chopping them). Set them aside.

(I find the prep work a tad long and tiring, so I prep the ingredients a day before and store them in an air tight container and continue with the cooking process the next day)

In a heavy bottom wok (kadahi) roast the mawa on low heat till it changes to colour to a deeper shade (little more than golden) and becomes aromatic. (Took me approximately 20 minutes but the time will depend on the quality of mawa being used) Be carefully to not dry it out. Remove from the wok and set aside.

In a deep and big wok/ kadahi or pan/ pot, add water and make sugar syrup with one thread consistency. Once the desired consistency is achieved, remove the kadahi from heat. Stir in the spices and add roasted mawa. Swiftly but carefully mix the mawa in the hot syrup and ensure there are no lumps.

Add all other ingredients and by now the temperature of the syrupy mawa is pretty much easy to handle. (I used my hands to mix in all ingredients together.) Mix everything well and start making laddus the size of a walnut.

Press the mixture in your hands by pressing it between your palm and fingers, make round shape and then roll between your palms of both hands to make a perfect round. Keep the laddus on a plate covered with cling wrap or greased with ghee.

The laddus stay well for over a week in the northern Indian winters but I suggest you store it in fridge to avoid them from getting spoilt.

Feel free to halve the recipe since this quantity yields a huge batch.

Yield – 46 Laddus

Note: The sugar can be swapped with jaggery. (You can use approximately 350 grams Jaggery)

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

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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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METHI THEPLA / मेथी थेपला (Fenugreek Greens Flatbread)

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As much as I love south Indian cuisine, I am an equally huge fan of Gujarati food especially their thali. The food from this western state is predominantly vegetarian. The Gujarati thali is a celebration of vegetarian food at its best. It is a balanced meal with all the flavours that your palate would appreciate – sweet, sour, pungent and spicy. The red chilli powder is judiciously used and I have yet to encounter a hot Gujarati dish. And if you encounter a hot dish, it will be beautifully balanced with some sugar added to it. Although some north Indians may not be able to appreciate the two together, I love it! Each region of the state has its own unique signature dishes. While north Gujarat has Handvo and Patra to boast of, Kutch region has its scrumptious Dabeli and Shrikhand. Kathiawad has Shaak while southern Gujarat has an amazing dish called Undhiyo to be proud of.

The huge array of dishes that are served, along with a variety of flatbreads, is bind boggling and somewhat overwhelming for a first timer. The sumptuous meal is always followed by an equally wide range of desserts. My experience of eating out in a Gujarati restaurant has been always pleasant one. You will be served with love and the whole experience is that of feeling nourishe and cared… Indian hospitality at its best, if I may say so.

Thepla is Gujarati flatbread that is consumed for breakfast or for snacking. A Gujarati friend of mine in Dubai, shared her thepla recipe with me. She had promised to make them for me but the festive month of December kept us both busy and that never happened. Anyways, she graciously shared her recipe (Thanks Kalpana!) and I promise you these are one of the best theplas I have had in a long time. The only deflection that I have made is that I have used yogurt instead of water to knead them. Feel free to use water for making the dough.

I love how they can be made in advance and stored. They keep well for approximately four days upon refrigeration and I believe they will also freeze well. Ideal for this weather with goodness of methi, they are great for hectic mornings when you can simply heat them, slather over some chutney and roll them to have them on your way out and equally good to pack for kid’s lunch. They can be had hot or at room temperature. Don’t you already love their versatility?!

1 C Methi/ Fenugreek Leaves (that have been cleaned, rinsed, drained & chopped)

1 C Whole meal (Atta) plus extra for rolling the theplas

¼ C Besan

1 tbsp + 2 tsp Oil (feel free to swap with ghee)

1/3 C Yogurt (whipped)

1 tsp Cumin powder

1½ tsp Coriander powder

½ tsp Turmeric powder

½ tsp Chili Powder

2 tsp Sesame seeds (I combined white & black)

½ tsp Ajwain (carom seeds)

¼ tsp Heeng/ Asafoetida (slightly toast it on a warm griddle)

1 tsp Ginger Paste

2 tsp Green Chili Paste

Exra oil for frying the thepla

In a mixing bowl, transfer the flours and add in the spices – cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder, sesame seeds and ajwain. Whisk them well and add the oil or ghee. Rub the oiled flour between your fingers.

Now add the ginger paste, green chilli paste, methi leaves and yogurt and make a firm but yielding dough. Rest the dough for 15 minutes and then make … equal balls.

Keep the tava or griddle to heat. Using a rolling pin (belan), roll each ball (one at a time) to 6 inches disc of … mm thickness. Use extra flour to dust, if required.

Tranfer the flatbread carefully on to the medium hot tava. You will see the colour of the dough change slightly within seconds. Flip the flatbread.

Cook till you see the flatbread slight rising. Flip it over and apply a teaspoon of oil and flip and fry. (Keep rotating the flatbread using a kitchen towel or a large spoon while it is frying.) Flip quickly again. You will notice small brown patches on the flatbread.

Remove from heat and keep aside. You can apply some ghee over the thepla before serving.

Finish the rest of the dough in the same manner.

Serve with yogurt and chutney or pickle of your choice.

Note: You can swap methi with other vegetables such as carrots, spinach, lauki, mooli, beetroot or what ever you fancy.

Note: Feel free to experiment with other flour options if you prefer gluten free theplas

Note: I advice that you add the yogurt one tablespoon at a time since the total amount would be proportional to the the amount of water that is there in your washed methi.

Makes – 10

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

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