Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Sweet Poornam Wheat Poli (Wheat flour flatbread stuffed with delicious coconut jaggery filling)

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Poli is a traditional Indian sweet made during many festive occasions. There are basically two varieties of Poornam Poli – one thats stuffed with a coconut jaggery filling and the other with a bengal gram and jaggery filling. Both are extremely delicious and every household have their own way of doing these festive treats.  Traditionally  the outer dough of the Poornam Poli is made with maida and its a slightly laborious process. The maida is mixed with turmeric and a pinch of salt and doused with gingely oil. The traditional poli also requires to be made by flattening the maida on to a greased banana leaf and spreading with the fingers, which are also greased with more gingely oil. Its then “stuffed” with the poornam and spread out again on to the leaf, with more oil. Normally after a session of “poli making” the kitchen are so heavily oiled and get so greasy. It requires a lot of cleaning up after. TOday my version is made more healthier by making the outer dough with Wheat Flour and rolling the stuffing the polis just like you would, a paratha!  If you miss the elasticity of the maida, you can try making them with 50% atta and 50% maida.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Wheat Flour.

A Pinch of Salt.

A pinch of turmeric.

1/2 Cup Warm Water.

2 Tsp Gingely Oil.

1/2 Cup Jaggery.

1/2 Cup Coconut.

1/8 Cup Water.

1/4 Tsp Cardamom Powder.

PREPARATION:

  • Add a pinch of salt, turmeric and the gingely oil and knead the wheat flour with warm water slowly and firmly until you get a soft pliable dough. This is extremely important for the easy spreading of the polis. It should feel soft, and pliable. If you feel its too hard, add a few drops of water and oil and keep kneading until you get the required texture. Spread a layer of oil on the ball and keep covered with a damp cloth.

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  • In a flat heavy bottomed vessel, add the jaggery and water and allow it to melt. When it starts boiling, add the measured grated coconut.
  • Keep stirring until you get a slightly solid consistency – one where you can make a poornam ball. ( This is almost similar to how we make the poornams for the Sweet Kozhukattais.)
  • When its a little cool, make little poornam balls and set aside.
  • Take a large lemon sized ball and make a dent with your thumb. Shape in to a form of a diya and drop a poornam ball inside the depsression. Now close the edges and seal it by twisting the top.

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  • Dust with a little flour and flatten them  in to round chappathis, like you would do with an aloo paratha.
  • Cook the sweet poornam filled chappathis over a hot tava greasing it with ghee or gingely oil.
  • Sweet Wheat Poli with Coconut Jaggery Poornam is ready for Neivedhyam.
  • It has a lot less oil and fat, and subsitution of wheat flour for all purpose flour makes it all the more healthier.
  • Half the carbs – double the fun!!
  • Sweet Wheat Polis are traditionally made in our household during Pongal.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Motichur Ladoo – Boondhi Ladoo Simplified!

Motichur Ladoo.
Motichur Ladoo.

The very first time that I tried this ladoo was when I got a hamper for New Year`s , from a client organisation, while I was working with ICICI Bank. The ladoo had tiny little miniscule pearls all held together with the gooeyness of sugar and ghee to make one heavenly ball of niceness!  Another time, I tasted these ladoos when my brother in law brought a large pack from Kanpur. This version was redolent with the aroma of ghee and the centre was so smooth and goeey with almost no “boondhis”!  My daughter S fell for them and had been pestering me to make them ever since.  When I actually started looking for inspiration on the internet, I realised that Tarla Dalal`s version was pretty much standard and all other version were inspired by hers.  As we do not have the fine Boondhi Ladle that is required for this version, Vah Chef suggests that you sprinkle some hot water so as to crumble it down and then shape them in to ladoos. This version is much more forgiving than the Traditional Boondhi ladoo which requires a certain discipline in terms of temperature of the sugar syrup, consistency of the syrup and of course fashioning the ladoos ! Try Motichur Ladoos this Diwali and you`ll love it!

INGREDIENTS:

For the Boondhi Batter:

1 1/2 Cup of Besan sifted.

1 1/2 Tbsp FIne Rava sifted.

A pinch of Baking Soda.

A pinch of orange food colour.

For the Sugar Syrup:

1 1/4 Cup Sugar.

1 1/2 Cup Water.

Rose Essence.

A pinch of orange food color.

1 Tsp Cardamom Powder.

For the Garnish:

Almond Slivers.

Saffron Strands.

PREPARATION:

  • In a dry bowl combine the sifted besan, rava, baking powder and the orange food colour and add about a cup of water to get the desired consistency.
  • The batter should not be runny or too tight. Set aside.
Boondhi Batter.
Boondhi Batter.
  • For the sugar syrup add sugar and water to a heavy bottomed pan and allow to boil. When it comes to a boil, keep an eye on it stirring every few minutes until it reaches one string consistency.
  • TO check for ONE STRING  consistency, if the syrup between your index finger and thumb stretches to form a string, you`ve reached the desired consistency.
  • Add rose essence, almond slivers and cardamom powder and mix it in. Keep aside.
  • Start making the boondhis by pouring a ladle full of the boondhi batter on to a perforated ladle and press it in to the hot oil.
  • Keep the flame high and make sure to remove the fried boondhi balls before they get too crisp. IF the balls become crisp, then it alters the texture of the motichur ladoos.
  • Dunk them all in to the warm sugar syrup and mix it well to coat the boondhi balls.
  • Wipe the base of the perforated ladle once its been used to make the boondhis  and then re-use.
  • Continue and complete all the boondhis and then add this to the warm sugar syrup and mix well.

ASSEMBLING THE LADOOS:

  • Boil about 3 tbsp of water in a sauce pan and keep it hot.
  • By now the boondhis would have absorbed all the sugar syrup and be not too firm.
  • Add  all the boondhis in to a mixer or food processor , add the boiling water and give it a quick pulse.
  • Transfer the crushed boondhis to a plate and start making ladoos.
  • Fashion ladoos and garnish with almond slivers.
  • Motichur Ladoo is ready and is best eaten warm!
  • Happy Deepavali wishes to one and all.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Arisi Puttu – Traditional Navarathri Neivedhyam.

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Traditional Arisi Puttu is a very special offering for Devi during Navarathri. It`s also an auspicious dish, which requires a lot of care and patience. Elders of the family say that to make “puttu” is almost like bringing up a daughter – it requires patience, care and nurturing!!! I learnt this dish from my husband`s mother this summer and I had been wanting to make it at our home for Navarathri. I have also had multiple requests from a couple of my readers, so go ahead and try this out folks. Its a little time consuming, but very tasty and wholesome.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Raw Rice.

3/4 Cup – 1 Cup Jaggery.

1/4  Cup Grated Coconut .

1 Tsp Cardamom.

A pinch of turmeric powder.

1/2 Cup Water.

Handful of cashew broken.

1 Tsp Ghee.

PREPARATION:

  • Soak the raw rice for about an hour and rinse and drain all the water. Spread it on a large dry towel and allow it to dry for about an hour or so. If you are trying this in cold climates, the trick is for  the towel to be dry and so should all the rice particles.
  • Gather the rice and powder it in the mixie until smooth. In India my Mother in law had ground it in the mill. I did not have that luxury and had to make do with the Prestige Mixer.
  • At this point, the flour should look like this:
Ground Rice Flour.
Ground Rice Flour.

 

  • Now transfer the ground rice flour to a dry kadai and roast it on a medium flame until the flour becomes a dull reddish brown color.
  • Let the flour cool.
  • Meanwhile boil about 3/4 cup of water with a pinch of turmeric.  Allow to cool slightly.
  • Sprinkle the boiled water little by little on to the roasted flour and mix to moisten the flour, Do not make the flour wet, It should still be moist yet not clumpy.
Crumbled Flour before passing through Sieve.
Crumbled Flour before passing through Sieve.

 

  • To aerate the flour and remove lumps, we pass it through a fine seive and use your fingers or a ladle to push the flour through.
  • Collect in a newspaper.

 

  • Now steam the moist flour in idli plates for about 7 mins of high steam. No need of greasing the plates.
  • When done scoop out the flour, crumble and allow to cool in a plate.
Getting ready to be steamed!
Getting ready to be steamed!

 

  • Dissolve 3/4 cup of jaggery in about 3 tbsp of water and keep stirring for about 7-10 minutes, This is an approximate time, as my stove is an electric glass top. A regular LPG stove could take a lot less time.
  • The jaggery has to get to  a “ball” consistency – i.e  add a drop of the boiling jaggery in to a bowl of water, and try to make a ball of that jaggery. If you are able to do this, switch off the flame , add cardamom , mix and pour out the jaggery on to the roasted and steamed flour.

 

  • Add the roasted cashews and slowly mix in the jaggery in to the rice flour.
  • You will see sandy smooth sweet light airy Arisi Puttu. Garnish with the grated coconut which is either fresh, or lightly roasted.

NOTES:

  1. This is a very traditional preparation and is also very delicate, so it takes some patience to get it right. The idea to get grainy sandy “puttu” which is light and not heavy and clumpy.
  2. There are certain important aspects that contribute to the texture – slow roasting of the flour, moistening the flour just right, and of course the jaggery!
  3. I have NOT tried this with the store bought rice flour, but that is an experiment for another day.

 

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Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Shri Krishna Jayanthi Neivedhyam – Vella Aval. (Flattened rice cooked in jaggery

Sri Krishna`s favourite - Vella Aval.
Sri Krishna`s favourite – Vella Aval.

Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Shri Krishna. Lord Sri Krishna was born on the ‘Rohini’ nakshatram (star) on Ashtami day.  The festival Sri Krishna Jayanti is also known as Gokulashtami . Sri Krishna is Lord Vishnu’s eighth avatar (incarnation) on earth. He is considered to be the Lord’s most glorious incarnations.  Even saying and remembering His name brings joy because Sri Krishna himself was a manifestation of joy at all levels and in all walks of life. In Tamil Nadu Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated with great pomp as its a festival spelling happiness and joy as the saviour was born on this day.

People offer sweets like Vella Cheedai, Uppu Cheedai, Vella Aval , Aval  Payasam, Butter etc as these happen to be the Lord`s favourites. Many homes have beautiful kolams adorning their homes and little feet drawn in the floors as if to show little Krishna coming in to our homes. Poojas are performed and flowers and neivedhyams are offered late in the evening when the moon rises as this is the time the Lord was born.

Vella Aval made out of beaten flattened rice ,is the most treasured dish liked by Lord Krishna, lovingly given by his dear friend Sudama.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Flattened Poha Thick.

1/2 Cup – 3/4 Brown Sugar / Jaggery.

About 1/4 Cup milk just enough to soak the poha.

2 Tsp Ghee.

1 Tsp Cardamom powder.

Fresh coconut flakes to garnish.

PREPARATION:

  • Measure out the poha and wash it clean under the tap and allow to drain for a couple minutes in the colander. Sprinkle the 1/4 of milk here and there over the poha and let it sit for about 20 minutes or so. Toss the colander now and then to aerate the poha flakes.
  • In a clean dry kadai, add the brown sugar/ jaggery and about 1/4 cup of water and set the flame to medium. Keep stirring the jaggery on low flame.
  • Remove the impurtities by adding about 2 tsp of milk. In a few minutes, when the scum floats to the top, filter it and you will get clean pure syrup.
  • Keep stirring until you see it slowly bubbling up. In a few minutes it would reach single string consistency. This means that when you take a little of the melted jaggery and pour it in to a plate of water, it will form a string and will not dissolve.
  • Another option to make certain that you have reached single string is when you take a little of the “paagu” or the melted jaggery between your index finger and your thumb and stretch, it will form a thin long string.
  • At this stage, reduce the heat to a minimum and add the soaked poha flakes and stir well to incorporate the jaggery in to the poha. Remove from flame.
  • Heat about 2 tsp of ghee in a small kadai and fry the cashew nuts and toss in to the aval poha.
  • Garnish with fresh coconut flakes if desired.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Kaju Katli – Deepavali Sweets Series.

One of the most favourite sweets growing up, has always been the Kaju Katli. I guess I fell for its pillow like softness, sweet thats not to much nor too little, but just right, and the little bite sized goodness coming in such small packages! I dont remember when they started getting really famous, but I still loved them a lot! The other sweet that I really really loved was the Sweet Sev from Gomathy Sankar Sweets & Savouries near Ranganathan Street in T.Nagar. Madurai Appa would always get a small quantity of about 250 gms, and we would all get just a couple to savour. But I loved the slightly salty sev inside coated thickly with layers of hardened sugar!!!  Its always a pleasure to reminsce about little memories from our childhood, blasted in to the present!

The first time I ever made this sweet was about 2 years ago when my little one simply loved it so much. She said they were thin and tiny, and so they were hers!. And that was why I could never find good ones to shoot! It`s almost tradition to make it for Deepavali since then, and quite a few of my readers had requested for this recipe!  Happy Deepavali you guys. This recipe is specially for my reader Ramya!!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Cashew Nuts.

1/2 Cup Sugar.

1/4 Cup Water.

1-2 Drops Rose Essence.

1 Tsp Ghee to grease your hands before kneading .

PREPARATION:

  • The first step is to pulse room temperature  cashews in to a fine powder. In many places, people store all their nuts in the fridge or freezer to prevent it from becoming rancid. In such cases, keep the cashews out for at least an hour so they come down to room temperature. When they are ground cold, the heat from the mixer causes them to stick together and the powder is not as free flowing and fine.
  • Take the measured quantity of cashew nuts and pop them in the mixer jar. Grind them steadily until it becomes a fine powder.
  • The next important step is bringing the sugar solution to “single string” consistency. This is needed for Boondhi Laddoos, Kaju Katli, Badushah, Mysore Pak  and some other sweets.
  • Take a wide mouthed heavy bottomed kadai and add a heaped 1/2 cup of regular white sugar. Top it with 1/4 cup of water and set it on the stove on medium flame. Keep stirring the mixture on and off and after about 5 minutes you should see it bubbling and frothing. Slowly the sugar solution moves to a single string consistency.  To check if the sugar solution has reached the required consistency, take a little of the syrup in the back of your ladle and try stretching it between your index finger and thumb. If this forms a fine string, then the required consistency is reached. This is a very important step and the coming together of the katli rests on the single string consistency.
  • Lower your flame to SIM and tip the ground cashew powder in to the kadai and keep on stirring until it reaches a slightly thicker mass. It would be still a little sticky but will the sugar will start hardening rapidly, so do not worry. It should look like sticky chappathi dough.
  • Switch off the gas and remove from the heat. Wait for about 4-5 minutes.
Cahsew Dough after kneading!
  • Clear a clean surface to work on and grease it with a little ghee.
  • Now transfer the cashew dough to the greased surface and knead it gently with greased palms. This step is important to get a shiny smooth pliable dough. It just needs a little time to work on the dough. If you feel its still sticky, try adding a few drops of ghee and continue working on it. You could use disposable gloves if you feel its too hot to handle.
  • The dough should get smooth and shiny on the outside and get in to a pliable round ball.
  • Take a large piece of parchment paper and place this dough on it. Fold it over the ball as shown and press with your palm to make a flat disc. Now using the rolling pin, smooth the dough in to a thin chappathi. It can be as thin as you want your katli to be. Make sure that the surface is uniform.
Cashew Dough pressed thin in parchment paper.

  • If you do not have parchment paper, you could use two ziploc bags or the back of a cookie sheet and a ziploc bag. You need to hold the dough in a non stick surface and roll over another non stick surface.
  • Open the paper and immediately mark in to diamond shapes. All this should be done when the dough is moderately warm.
  • Decorate each diamond with a string of saffron.
  • When cool, transfer to an air tight container.
  • Kaju Katli with absolutely no ghee or no oil is ready!

 

HINTS:

  1. There are little tips and tricks that are part of any cooking process and they sometimes can make or break the dish. In this case, having room temperature cashews are important.
  2. For first timers, the sugar solution sometimes can get tricky, Its better to make this over a medium low flame when there is more time to check and react.
  3. The last tip is to make sure that the dough gets smooth and pliable. IF the sugar solution is single string then this should not be a problem. Knead the dough well with a few drops of ghee when its still warm.
  4. Please leave your comments on this post, with your observations and here`s to wishing you a Happy Deepavali.

 

Sweets

Pineapple Kesari – My favourite from Sangeetha Restaurants!

There have been multiple posts from Anubhavati having so many sweet dishes as these days I seem to be having a sweet tooth. This spring summer there has been an abundance of pineapples in the farmers market and I really could not resist making this sweet that I love, that I remember from my banking days! There was this Sangeetha Restaurant opposite my work place and we all loved their quick lunch to-go packs. They would have a little coriander rice, some raitha, a roti, a dry cauliflower subzi and then a little smear of this amazing sweet fragrant pineapple kesari. I would long to have a little more but then it was a quick lunch after all! Somedays our craving would get so much, that me and M would go and enjoy a cup of this kesari in the evenings. I do attribute a couple pounds that I had put on, just because of this sweet, Its really that addictive.  The other sweet that I loved was the Dumrote Halwa from Surya Sweets, but we`ll save that post for another day.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Rava.

2  Cups Sugar.

2 1/2 Cups Water.

3/4 Cup Pineapple finely chopped.

1 Tsp Pineapple Essence.

Yellow Food Colouring.

3 Tbsp Ghee.

Handful of broken cashews and raisins.

PREPARATION:

  1. The very first step in the preparation of pineapple kesari is choosing a ripe fragrant sweet pineapple. Make sure that its ripe by turning over the pineapple and checking the base. More often than not, its a lovely orangish yellow colour and very sweet smelling. Now cut out the skin and the fleshy parts and chop in to pieces. Measure out 3/4 cup of finely chopped pieces, mix this with about 2 tbsp  of sugar and set aside.
  2.  In a clean heavy bottomed vessel, add 2 tsp of ghee and lightly roast the cashews and the raisins. Drain out the fried cashews and raisins .
  3. At this point,  add the one cup of rava and lightly roast it until its well coated with the ghee.
  4. Simultaneously boil 2 1/2  cups of water and slowly add it in to the kadai,making sure to remove all the lumps and stirring continously.
  5. Using a whisk, and considerably bringing down the heat to low, bring the mixture together and cover and cook for a couple minutes say for around 3-4 minutes.
  6. Now when the rava has cooked add the sugar and mix it in well. At the same time add the chopped pineapple pieces without the water content.
  7. The entire mixture in the kadai will get lumpy and watery but keep mixing. Add 2 spoons of ghee, pineapple essence and mix these well.
  8. Cover and cook for another couple minutes say around 4-5 minutes or so. Switch off the stove when you get the soft dripping consistency. I prefer my kesari to be soft and dripping rather than hard.
  9. Garnish with the fried cahsews and raisins and serve HOT!

HINTS:

The most important part of making any kesari is that you have to wait until all of the rava/semolina has been cooked in the water and THEN add the sugar. When you add the sugar before the rava is cooked, the end result is almost uncooked rava and that is not a pleasant tasting. 

Using a whisk for mixing the rava and the sugar has also been helpful in completely blotting out all the clots in the kesari. Keeping the flame on low is also vital as you would require the semolina to slow cook and hence bring out the essence of the dish.

 

 

Sweets

Rasgullas – Sweet and Spongy treats – Perfect every time.

Rasgullas are a very popular cheese based sweet dish which originated from the Indian state of Orissa…now how many of us really knew that???  It has been a traditional Oriya dish for centuries.People throughout the state consider the rasgullas prepared by the Kar brothers, the descendants of a local confectioner, Bikalananda Kar, in the town of Salepur  near Cuttack to be the best. Today this rasgulla famously named Bikali Kar Rasgulla is sold all over Orissa .

Rasgullas are usually served at room temperature or colder. Modern Indian households also tend to serve them chilled.  A popular variant in Orissa and Bengal is freshly prepared hot rasgullas. In Orissa, it is not uncommon to embed a single raisin or cashew  inside each rasgulla. Cardamom seeds may also be embedded to create a fragrant version. In northern India, the dish comes flavored in saffron, rosewater, and sometimes garnished with chopped pistachios.

I love recreating this dish as contrary to popular belief, its very easy to make and extremely welcome as a dessert in every Indian household. Many times, we would wait for milk to curdle, so we could get round to making this dish without any guilt! Since the base for rasgullas is curdled milk this is an ingredient that is available at any time we want it ! All one has to do it empty a couple tablespoons of lemon juice in to a vessel containing boiling milk …and the deed is done. I have tried many versions of rasgullas but I oved this one taught to me by my  close friend.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice + 1 tbsp water

Sugar Syrup:

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar

PREPARATION:

  •  Boil milk in medium high for some time stirring  occasionally.
  •  When it comes to boil add lemon juice and continue  stirring.
  • It will curdle slowly separating the whey water from the curdled solids.
  • Sift in to a muslin cloth catching all the whey water in a container below and wash the curdled solids under cold water. This will remove a the traces of lemon from the curdled solids.

  •  Squeeze out all the water from  the muslin cloth and let it hang to dry for a couple minutes.
  • Place a heavy object like a pressure cooker on the paneer so that it makes it extra dry and without the water but with the moisture.
  • When all water  has drained, knead the panner on the counter top very nicely  until its soft,  rubbery and flexible. This should take a couple of minutes. The inherent oil and moisture comes out and combined with the heat in your hands, makes the panner soft and pliable.

  • Make little balls with  a little rock candy (kalkandu) in the midddle of each rasgulla. This helps the even spreading of sugar into  the panner balls.
  • Combine 4 1/2 cps of water with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and wait until it comes to a boil.
  • Drop the prepared balls  in the pressure cooker directly and close the cooker.
  • Now after the steam starts coming lower the flame to medium  and cook for 7 minutes.
  • Switch off after that and remove juicy rasgullas and enjoy them cold!
  • The rasgullas would have amost doubled in size and would be soft, spongy and extremely sweet!

Simple Syrup:

4 1/2 cups of water.
1 1/2 cups of sugar.

Add the sugar and water  to the pressure cooker directly and wait till it comes  to a boil.

HINTS:

  1. Add a drop of rosewater to the simple syrup for a little more flavour.
  2. Optionally serve with little syrup, but garnished with saffron strands, powdered pistachios etc.
  3. I sometimes add the kesar essence to my panner balls when I am kneading them to get lovely yellow hued rasgolas.

 

 

Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Semiya Payasam – (Sweet Kheer made with milk and semolina garnished with ghee roasted cashews and cardamom)

Many incidents in life are special to each one of us on account of either the people, the places or the event itself. Festivals are a major part of my childhood memories as the significance of these festivals almost always make an impact on you. All hindu festivals teach us to be good, to uphold high moral values, to share and to thank hte Lord for all that he has given us. We thank Him for a good crop, for a good harvest, rainfall, and to promote the welfare and health of the people in the family. All festivals almost had amma making Semiya Payasam for me, as it was a rank favourite. Although it had very minimal ingredients, I loved this particular dessert as it was very simple yet wholesome. Today I am sharing this recipe with you as made by my mom!

INGREDIENTS:

3 Cups Milk ( 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk and 1 1/2 Cups 1 % Milk)

1/4 up Vermicelli.

1 /2 Cup Sugar.

Cardamom Powdered.

Handful of broken cashew.

Handful of sultanas or raisins.

Saffron strands soaked in warm milk.

Ghee according to requirement.

PREPARATION:

  • In a kadai add 2-3 spoons of ghee and add the raisins and cashews that you have measured out. Fry slowly until the cashews are golden brown and the raisins have plumped up. Set aside.
  •  In the remaining ghee , toss in the measured amount of vermicelli. Allow to saute on a slow flame until you feel the aroma.
  • Slowly add the milk and allow to cook on slow flame.
  • This is the stage that leaves pretty much the rest to imagination as far as cooking the vermicelli in the milk. This should roughly take around 20 – 25 minutes depending on how thick you would want the milk to reduce and how cooked you prefer the vermicelli.
  • Add the measured sugar amount to the kadai and allow to boil further for another 5-6 minutes. Again there are variances in the brand of sugar as well as type of sugar  so vary the amount depending on taste – I prefer the sugar to be just right and not too sweet.
  • Now add the cardamom powder,fried cashews and raisins and add the saffron strands soaked in milk and give it a quick mix.
  • Serve Semiya Payasam hot or chilled.

HINTS:

  • Some people add a pinch of edible camphor to this for aroma and taste.
  • Optionally add a few drops of rose water for a completely different taste.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Badam Halwa (Dense Confection made with almonds sugar and saffron)

A high-fat food that’s good for your health? That’s not an oxymoron, its almonds. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds’ ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds’ monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease). There is a constant need to increase the “protien” content in a vegetarian`s diet as it does NOT include chicken or fish. Well,  Almonds are concentrated in protein. A quarter-cup contains 7.62 grams-more protein than is provided by the typical egg, which contains 5.54 grams. Now how cool is that?  Munch an almond the next time you feel hungry and crave for fried snack and watch your waistline plummet.

Badam Halwa has been the most favourite sweet that we make during festivals like Deepavali. Amma makes it every year around and I love the way she makes it in the shape of little diamonds that are a little harder than my version. I love the Badam Halwa from Sree Krishna Sweets, redolent in a coral- tangerine color  with the  addition of delicate saffron strands, in a smooth scoopable consistency.  There are many interesting anecdotes with Sree krishna sweets, but that we shall keep for another day!!

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Badam.

1 Cup Sugar.

Saffron

Water to dissolve sugar.

1/2 Cup Milk.

Vanilla Essence.

1/4 Cup Ghee.

two drops rose essence.

PREPARATION:

  • Soak a pinch of saffron strands in warm milk for a couple minutes.
  • Take a wide mouthed pan and add 3 cups of water and allow to boil.
  • Measure out one cup of almonds and add to the water. After 5-7 minutes switch off the flame and keep covered.
  • When sufficiently cooled, peel  out the almonds and puree to a smooth paste with the milk. Add the milk slowly and not at one go.
  • Use a heavy bottomed pan for making the halwa.
  • Measure out the required sugar and add just enough water to cover it and set on the stove.
  • When the sugar has just melted, add the ground almond paste, saffron with the milk it was soaked in,  and incorporate the ingredients well.
  • Maintain  the flame on medium low with an eye on the halwa. This one requires constant attention.
  • After a good ten minutes or so, keep adding a spoon of ghee now and then and allow it to get absorbed by the halwa.
  • It might splutter now and then, but stirring the halwa, immediately brings this down.
  • When you start seeing the halwa leaving the edges, switch off the heat.
  • I had it to a scooping halwa consistency for one night and the next day it had considerably solidified to a beautiful creamy pliable texture.
  • I immediately used my cookie shapers and made them in to tiny little discs and decorated the little discs with delicate saffron strands.

Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Badushah / Balushahi – Sweets for Anubhavati Second Bloggiversary!!!

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Two of my  favorite sweets are Badushah and Jangiri. Its a very strange pick as one of them is extremely sweet and dripping with syrup, whilst the other is very moderate in its use of sugar, flaky and dry. Yet I love these two contrasting sweets and enjoy them immensely. Badushah was a sweet I make almost very year for Deepavali and this time was no exception.  Today my little one wanted something sweet to go along with her savories and  today also  co-incides with the second bloggiversary of Anubhavati. I decided this was the occasion we were waiting for…Raks version inspired me last year and its a winning formula so Ive stuck to her proportions!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 Cups Maida/All Purpose Flour.

3 Tbsp Butter.

3 Tbsp Hung Curd / Thick Curd.

1 Tsp Sugar.

1 Tsp Ghee.

1/2 Tsp Baking Powder.

1/4 Tsp Baking Soda.

1/4 Cup  Water.

FOR THE SYRUP:

1  Cup Sugar.

1/ 3  Cup water or just about to immerse the sugar completely.

Saffron.

A few drops of rose essence.

A few drops of  lemon juice.

Grated Coconut to garnish.

PREPARATION:

  • Start by making the dough – In a mixing bowl, add the butter at room temperature, and curd and whisk to incorporate.
  • Sieve the measured amount of All Purpose flour along with the baking soda and baking powder,
  • Add the flour and a Tsp of sugar to the mixing bowl and gently mix until you find its almost crumbly..
  • Now add the water slowly and keep kneading it with your hands until you get a soft dough.
  • Heat 1 Tsp of Ghee in a small kadai and pour over the dough. Keep covered for at least ten minutes.
Dough – Soft and pliable.
  • Meanwhile set a kadai with enough oil to fry the badushahs. Keep the flame on medium low. Do not allow to smoke.
  • Divide the dough in to small equal sized balls and roll them out smoothly without any cracks.
  • Press them flat between your palms and pinch the edges to sort of turn them in to decorative rims. They were almost looking  like little Ravioli cuties!!!

  • Optionally you could slightly flatten them between your palms and make a very small depression in the middle. I enjoyed Raks method of decorative rims so I went ahead with that. I made another batch in the traditional way too.
  • Slowly slide in the badushahs and allow them to fry in the oil. When you pop them in , they will sizzle and slide up after a couple minutes.
  • Flip them over and allow them to fry to a golden brown color on both sides.
  • If the oil is too hot or smoky, the badushahs will not cook completely….almost the same rules as in Gulab Jamuns.
  • Keep the flame on medium low and allow them to stay in and cook completely.
  • Drain them on paper napkins and then toss them in the sugar syrup until they are completely coated in them.
  • Allow a couple minutes and then remove and let them sit for some time.
  • When warm garnish with saffron strands, coconut flakes or chopped pistachios.
  • When completely cooled, enjoy flaky, sweet and yet soft badushahs!!!

HINTS:

  1. Kneading the dough plays an important part of getting soft and flaky Badushahs. Do not scrimp on the butter as this makes the dough pliable and extremely soft.
  2. Do not keep the unfried badushahs exposed for a long time before frying as this might crack them up. Cover  them with a soft towel if needed.
  3. The temperature of the oil is the most important. The badushahs need to stay in oil and cook up slowly so do not allow the oil to smoke. If this happens, bring down the heat to low and wait until right temperature is reached.