Easy Food Smith

Posts Tagged / Spices

GUR KA HALWA / गुड़ का हलवा (Jaggery Semolina Pudding)



If you are wondering what struck me on head for uploading a Halwa post in the midst of hot and sultry Indian summer, well there are two reasons. One, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi begins from 25th of this month and the other reason is that I am making the most of the beautiful and cool monsoon weather here, which will start to recede in a few days’ time and usher in the hot and sultry two months of autumn. The pleasant cool and breezy weather has provided me all the reasons to indulge in this hot bowl of comfort. I have posted a few halwa recipes earlier; one of them being a similar halwa but sweetened with sugar. It is similar to that halwa but with a little tweaking here and there. We have been trying to make conscious effort to include less of refined sugar in our desserts and bakes. And this halwa is one such dessert in that endeavour; the other being the Sabudana Kheer I posted for Diwali last year. I intend to share more of such desserts that have been sweetened with jaggery (gur) in times to come. While I sit curled up at my favourite spot in the house, enjoying the rains with a comforting bowl of this halwa, you grab the recipe and do try it in your kitchen 🙂

½ C Milk

1 pinch Saffron

2 C Water

100 – 120 grams Gur (Jaggery) – adjust sweetness

¾ tsp Cardamom powder

6 – 7 tbsp melted Ghee

1 C Semolina (Suji)

Assorted nuts to garnish

Soak saffron in warm milk for at least an hour to allow the flavours and color to steep. Set aside.

Scrap the jaggery and melt it in water (I do this by placing a pan with jaggery and water on heat and stirring the contents till the jaggery just melts. You do NOT need to cook it). Sieve the contents and add cardamom powder to it and set aside.

In a heavy bottom pan or kadahi (wok), melt the ghee on medium heat and fry the semolina till it attains golden brown color and becomes aromatic.

Add saffron milk and jaggery water and cook on high heat stirring vigorously till the liquid is absorbed. (Be careful the hot contents will splatter around.) Keep in mind that the halwa will absorb the liquid further on as it sits and so adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Remove from heat and serve garnished with nuts of your choice. Enjoy!

Note: If you want, you can dry roast the nuts or fry them in a little ghee before serving.

Note: Keep the amount of jaggery to 100 grams if you like your dessert less sweet and if you prefer more sweetness, increase it to 120 grams.

Note: Feel free to add a little cane sugar (gur shakkar) if you want to add more sweetness. Stir it in a little milk and heat it along with the halwa.

Serves 6 – 8

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

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POTATO CUTLET / आलू कटलेट – Vegan


A few years back I had lost the images of all my blog posts. If you are regular visitor you would know that I am in the process of uploading these posts with photographs now. There were some posts for which I had images in my draft but there were many posts for which I had no images saved. Most of these were the posts that I had uploaded during the very first year of blogging. I have tried to upload images for a few of those posts and I will continue to upload images for the rest of them as well, as and when I am able to. These very easy, simple and tasty potato cutlets were one of those posts. I learnt this from my mother-in-law who used to dish them out in minutes. All you need to have is boiled potatoes (I usually have mine ready in your refrigerator) and they make for an easy snack to be enjoyed on rainy or cold days. I love these cutlets for their simplicity, flavour and crisp exterior. The best thing, they need to be shallow fried. (I mostly use olive oil for that)

These can be made for a kid’s party; for kid’s lunch pack or as a veg starter to a party or potluck. Enjoy them with your hot cup of chai and some chutney to go along with. You can shape them in any which way that you desire.

400 grams Potatoes

5 – 7 slices Bread (depending how small or large the slices are)

1 tbsp + 1 tsp Chaat Masala

½ tsp Salt (Adjust to taste)

¾ tsp Red Chili Powder

2 tsp Coriander Powder

½ tsp Garam Masala

Oil for shallow frying

Boil the potatoes. Allow to cool and then peel them. Mash them and set aside.

Tear the bread roughly into bite size pieces and in a mixer-grinder pulse it to attain bread crumbs.

Transfer the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and add all spices. Mix everything gently together.

Add the mashed potatoes to the bread crumbs and knead everything together with hands.

Take a small portion of mix into your hands and shape into patties or any other shape that you desire. You should be able to yield 12 to 15 patties depending on how much portion you use for each pattie.

Heat a skillet to medium heat and pour a few teaspoons of oil. Gently transfer 4 – 5 pieces of patties over the skllet. Since the potatoes need not be cooked and only need to be turned crispy brown, you just need to turn them quickly. The process of them turning brown takes only a few seconds, so be careful and quick in flipping them over. Once they done, remove the patties on to an absorbent sheet or kitchen towel.

Fry the rest of the patties in batches till you have exhausted them all.

Serve hot with chutney or dip and salad of your choice. Enjoy! (Please do not forget to read at the end of the post)

Yield – 12 to 15

Note: I personally prefer turning the cutlet into cylindrical shape as it is easier to shape and easier to fry evenly.

Note: Ensure that the potatoes are not over boiled. I had once firmly boiled potatoes and had to grate them and everyone liked them better than way since they added a kind of texture to the cutlets.

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

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This post was prepped during Navratras when it was supposed to get uploaded but due to some tech issue, I am able to upload it today. While I began prepping for this post, I realised that there aren’t many posts here that are related to Navratri, a period of fasting for nine days in Hindu calendar where many people abstain from using onion, garlic and grains in their food. Navratri in Hindi translates to nine nights and nine forms of mother shakti (female form and power), namely Durga, Bhadrakali, Jagadamba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita, Bhavani and Mookambika or Tara, are worshiped through out india.The navratra occur apparently five times in a year but mainly two of them are observed especially in north India i.e. chaitra navratri which falls in March/April and sharad navratri which falls in October/November.  Of the two, sharad navratri is the one which is celebrated with lot of fervour and festivities across the country in different forms and ways.

During this period, people abstain from using wheat, rice, maize, semolina, grams, pulses, legumes and instead switch over to using buckwheat (kuttu), water chestnut flour (singhare ka aata), barn yard millet (sawankh or samvat ke chawal), fox nuts (makhane), amaranth, tapioca pearls/ sago (sabudana) besides including veggies like potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potato (shakarkand), indian yam (jiikand, oal, suran) and colocassia (arbi/ arvi) and raw green banana in their diet. Fruits are consumed for snacking and there is no restriction on milk and milk products. Sendha namake or rock salt to used to prepare food. And certain inclusion or exclusion of certain foods varies from region to region. Some people use flaxseeds during this time and some don’t, some consume sour foods while others abstain from it.

Keeping in mind the diet restrictions, I have tried to devise a navratri friendly recipe for these pumpkin patties. I have used flax seeds and quinoa which is a pseudo cereal; rather quinoa is seeds that are part of the family as amaranth. I purchased them recently on my holiday to US and what better time to begin using them than the auspicious navratra! And they turned out to be super scrumptious with the quinoa adding a nice bite to them.


250 gm Pumpkin

1 scant Cup Quinoa

1 C Water

2 tbsp Flaxseed powder

4 tbsp Almond flour

2 – 3 tbsp Water chestnut flour (if fasting, else you can use rice flour)

2 tsp Green chili, chopped (adjust to taste)

2 tbsp + 1 tsp Madras curry powder

½ tsp Red Chilli powder

Salt to taste

Oil to shallow fry

(I usually roast the pumkpkin and cook the quinoa a day before I intend to make these patties)

Wash and thickly slice the pumpkin removing the inside pulp and seeds. Line the baking sheet with aluminium foil or parchment paper and arrange the slices. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes (depending how thick you have sliced the pumpkin) at 180 degrees C. Cool and remove the outer thick skin and mash the pumpkin with the back of a fork or potato masher. Keep aside.

While the pumpkin is roasting, wash and rinse the quinoa 2 – 3 times in water. Drain water and set aside. Add 1 tsp of curry powder, half a teaspoon salt and drained quinoa to the 1 cup of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat. Remove the pot from heat, cover the pot and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. (if there is excess water, simply strain it)

Add the cooled quinoa to mashed pumpkin and mix in the rest of ingredients except the oil of course. Gently mix together everything and make patties. Refrigerate  the patties for 15 minutes.

Heat the pan and a little oil. When the oil is hot, carefully transfer the patties to the pan and fry on medium high heat for approximately 45 seconds to a minute. Check for the color of the patties. They should be nicely browned (be careful so as not to burn them) and crisp.

Remove on an absorbent sheet and serve hot with chutney or tomato ketchup or dip of your choice.


UPDATE: 27 Oct 2016 – I was given the feedback that the patties turned out too soft. I recommend you increase the amount of rice flour by a few tablespoons and also add breadcrumbs to help bind the batter. Also, refrigerate the batter (or patties) for half an hour to 45 minutes before you fry or bake them. OR you can reduce the amount of pumpkin puree by two third or one third, depending on how soft or firm you like the texture of these patties

Note: Do not add any water to the pumpkin at any stage of prepping else the batter will be loose

Note: If you swap quinoa with amaranth and if you are not fasting for navratras, swap the quinoa with daliya (cracked wheat or bulgur)

Note: Feel free to add a teaspoon of ginger garlic paste (i.e. if you are not fasting for Navratras). Ditto for bread crumbs. They will certainly yield crispier cutlets/ patties .

Note: In case you wish to bake the patties, brush a baking sheet with some oil and also brush the patties with oil. Bake them for 15 – 20 minute at 180 degrees till golden brown.

Note: You can make bigger size of patties and use them for your burger.

Yield – 12 – 15 (depending on size) small patties OR 6 – 7 large patties for burger

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

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