Easy Food Smith

Posts Tagged / Indian cuisine

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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AMLA CANDY / आमला कैंडी और आमला ‘शहद’ (Indian Gooseberry Candy & Concentrate)

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Although packed with health benefits but astringent, sour and bitter to taste, this fruit does not fit into everyone’s diet. Amla powder, amla juice and amla pickle and murabba (preserve) are some of the few ways that people try and incorporate this powerful superfood in their diet. Not so loved produce but very popular among the healthy conscious, this humble fruit increases immunity, slows down ageing, reduces blood sugar, increases metabolism, purifies blood, helps fight common cold, improves eye sight. Besides many other vitamins and minerals, it contains eight times the Vit C found in your regular orange.

Earlier I had shared my mother-in-law’s Amla Murabba and now I am sharing her amla candy recipe. I had made it last year but could not share it in time. I found it to be an interesting recipe coz she recommends freezing the washed and wiped amla in a ziplock bag for five to six days days before kicking off the procedure to turn it into a candy. I was intrigued when she shared this recipe and after trying it a couple of times, I decided to share it here. It is really simple but takes time to get ready. No, it won’t make a dent on your time or demand any effort from your behalf. It takes time – first, to sit and release its juices into the sugar and then soaking the syrup and second, when it sits in the sun, wearing that coat of sugar syrup, waiting to dry up before being sprinkled and kind of dredged with spices, salt and icing sugar. Lip smackingly good and an extremely healthy way to snack. This is a picture-heavy post since i have tried to incorporate picture of each stage of the process (having missed one pic though)

 

Ingredients

850 gram Amla

350 – 500 grams Granular Sugar (adjust to taste)

1 tsp Kala Namak (Rock Salt), adjust to taste

1½ tsp Jeera Powder (roasted and powdered cumin seeds)

A pinch of Heeng (Asafoetida)

A few tablespoons Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar)

Method

Wash and dry the amla.

Put them inside a ziplock bag. Flatten them out in a single layer and keep them in the freezer for five to six days, depending on the size of the amla. Remove the amla from the freezer and allow them to sit till they soften. The amla slices will come off easily by scoring or running your knife along the natural segment line of amla. This process should take you 20 minutes approx.

Once this process is over, transfer the pieces to a glass mixing bowl or a non corrosive pot (I used steel pot) and sprinkle the sugar all over it so that the amlas are completely covered by the sugar. Cover with a lid and set aside at a place where no ants can reach. The sugar will take 2 – 3 days to melt (depending on the size of the amla).

After 24 hours, stir the pieces around using a spoon or spatula and again cover & keep aside. After three days, the sugar will completely dissolve and the pieces are ready to be removed from the syrup. Remove excess liquid by passing it through a strainer. Keep them in the strainer for 15 – 20 minutes to ensure that the syrup is well drained. Reserved the syrup.

Lay the pieces in a single layer over a tray (non corrosive) and keep the amla pieces covered by a muslin or cheese cloth (without the cloth touching the pieces) in the sun for approximately two to three days (depending on how strong the sun is) or till the amla is no longer sticky to touch. (Ensure that the pieces are not over exposed to the sun else they dry out and turn hard & chewy)

(I missed clicking this step but will update when I make the next batch)

Once the amla pieces have dried and are no longer sticky, they ready to be dredged with spices and icing sugar. The sun dried pieces will wear a discolored look but that is fine.

Transfer the amla pieces to a clean and dry mixing bowl and sprinkle the ground spices over it. Ensure that each and every slice of the amla is well coated. Next, dust over / sprinkle the icing sugar, using a sieve (to avoid sugar lumps). Use as much as needed. I used just enough to cover them.

Shake the candies inside the bowl to ensure that each and every piece is well coated with the spice mix and icing sugar. Remove the amla candy in an air tight container. The candy should stay well for six months.

And for the liquid that we had reserved, after soaking the amla in sugar, you can turn it into a syrup and store it in a bottle. Use it as a concentrate.

You can swap sugar with jaggery. Use equal weight of both amla and jaggery. You need to follow the same procedure except that while using jaggery you need to layer the jaggery and amla alternately before you leave them for soaking. Also ensure that you grate the jaggery to ensure smooth assimilation and dissolving.

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

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GREEN GARBANZO BEANS & PEAS PANCAKES – Gluten Free/ Egg free/ Nut free/ Dairy free

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If you happen to be one of those people who dislike the taste of fresh green chick peas or what is locally called chholiya / choliya, then this recipe is tailor made for you. I say this with confidence coz I could earlier never appreciate the taste of green garbanzo beans a.k.a. green chick peas. However, that was the case only till I had not gone beyond trying it out besides a curry. I strongly believe that a lot depends on how an ingredient has been ‘treated’ or cooked that makes it taste good or not so savory. My daughter can’t stand having okra but serve it as Kurkuri Bhindi and she laps it up. Pumpkin is another veggie which she can’t have in a curry but loves as muffins or in this bread. I can go on and on with the list. So if you have fussy kids (or even adults), keep experimenting, keep discovering new ways, different ways of cooking with ingredients. Serve them masked or in ways that they can’t comprehend 😛 Green chick peas and green peas add so much natural goodness to these pancakes, making them not just healthy but so delicious. Since we were having them for brunch, I served them with quick stir-fried mushrooms for a sumptuous meal. The green garbanzo beans or chholiya is in season and you can go for fresh ones. I have however used my stock of dried ones that I need to exhaust. You can use them for making a warm wintery salad (which is absolutely delicious and a must to try) or use them for making this dessert. They are pretty versatile ingredient to work with. You can add them in your pilaf (cook them partially though before adding to the rice) along with fresh green peas and serve it with raita or Dahi Bhalle and some green chutney and there you have – a yummy gluten free meal ready. But for now, it is the pancakes 😊

By the way, these pancakes are gluten free, egg free, diary free and nut free.

FOR PANCAKES

½ C Dry Garbanzo Beans (Chholiya)

½ C Green Peas (I used fresh ones since they are in season)

½ C Mint Leaves (loosely packed)

½ C Fresh Coriander

1 tbsp powdered Flaxseeds

3 tbsp Water

3 Green chilies

1 tsp grated Ginger

1 tsp grated Garlic

½ tsp Red Chili Powder

¾ tsp Coriander Powder

½ tsp Garam Masala Powder

½ C Water (add more if required)

Oil to cook

Salt to taste

Wash and soak the beans overnight.

Wash the peas and keep them aside.

In a small bowl mix together the flaxseed powder and three tablespoons of water. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Wash the mint leaves and coriander a couple of times or till there is no grit in the water. Drain and keep aside.

Pulse everything together, with ¼ cup of water, to make a coarse paste (I like texture in my food therefore I did not make a smooth batter)

Remove the batter in a bowl.

Mix in rest of the water to the batter.

Heat a griddle or pan and add a few teaspoons of oil. Take approximately one fourth of the batter and pour it carefully on the griddle. Spread it around to thickness of your choice.

Cook on medium low heat till the edges just about begin to turn brown.

Carefully flip the pancake to cook the other side. Pour a little oil around the edges.

Remove from the griddle once the pancakes turn light brown in colour and crisp around the edges.

Place on a kitchen towel or absorbent sheet to remove excess oil.

Serve hot with sautéd mushrooms (recipe below) or drizzle over some Chipotle Tahini Sauce. They taste great with this freshly ground Coconut Chutney.

Yield – 8 (thickness as shown in the pic)

Note – This batter yields 8 – 10 pancakes depending on the consistency of the batter and the size of the pancakes.

Note – I had reserved half the amount of peas (i.e. ¼ cup), par boiled them and added them whole to the batter. And ground the rest ¼ cup along with other ingredients of the batter.

Note – Feel free to add more water than mentioned in the recipe for a thinner batter.

FOR MUSHROOMS 

3 C diced Mushrooms

1½ tbsp Butter

1 small Onion

2 tsp finely chopped Garlic

1 Green Chili (finely chopped)

1 small to medium ripe Tomato

Salt to taste

¼ tsp Chili Powder (or to taste)

½ tsp Coriander Powder

Add butter to a hot pan and immediately add the onions, garlic and green chili.

Saute till the onions become translucent and garlic becomes aromatic.

Add one finely chopped tomato. Cook till the tomato becomes soft.

Add mushrooms and saute.

Add salt, chili powder and coriander powder. Keep stirring till the mushrooms are done.

Remove in a serving bowl. (you can garnish it with some finely chopped fresh coriander)

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

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