Monthly Archives: March 2016

Besan Burfi – from the heirloom

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This is my mom’s signature dish – she has been making this since decades literally. All my relatives, cousins, friends love it. Because of the long shelf life of this sweet, it is often packed along as a parting gift, and many times is made in large quantities to ‘pack with love’ in the luggage for folks going out of the country for study or work. Chickpea flour roasted in loads of clarified butter with sugar and nuts added is considered to be a nutritious and energy boosting combination – though the truth is that the same combination makes it super calorie dense and irresistible – and when chomped down in five-at-a-time portions, it gives you more energy than needed for a full marathon – and IMHO should be banned for people who type and talk for a living (that would be me and 95% of the people around me). But then for my kinds, everything but spinach should be banned, and since it is not, why not indulge into this culinary pleasure?
Now since this recipe comes from my mom, who knows the microwave as a machine to re-heat and not as chef Mike who would ‘cook’ all meals on all weekdays, the recipe literally involves labor and love – in simple terms – elbow grease! Don’t even think about it unless you are ready to spend like an hour peering over the wok, vigorously stirring a mixture of flour and butter – trying to roast it and prevent it from burning at the same time. You also need some kind of special vision – to distinguish between yellow,dark yellow, brown, golden brown and umm..burnt! Jotting down the recipe here, though in this age of ready-to-cook meals, I am positive Aditi will never even think of attempting it, but at least I will have the satisfaction of having passed on a tradition – from one generation to another.

besan burfi1

Ingredients –
Chickpea flour/ Gram flour/ Besan – 3 and 1/4 cup
Semolina / Rawa/ Sooji – 3 tbsp (optional)
Ghee/ Clarified butter – 1 and 1/4 cup
Sugar – 2 and 1/4 cup
Cardamom / Ilaichi powder – 1/2 tbsp
Ground almonds – 1/2 cup
Almonds – slivered – 1/4 cup (for garnishing – optional)

Method –
1. Add the besan and ghee in a thick bottomed wok and put it on the burner on medium heat.
2. If you are using the regular fine textured besan, and like a grainy texture, add the sooji too. Else, leave it out. There is also a mota besan which has been ground to have a grainy texture, a lot of people use it – you don’t need the sooji in that case.
3. Keep mixing and turning the mixture at it starts to cook – don;t even think about raising the gas mark to high to expedite the process – the roasting needs to be done slowly and uniformly.
4. After five minutes of continuous stirring, your mind will start to tell you that it has been very long and the besan looks roasted. Dont give in to those mind games. Keep an eye on the watch – like baking. It takes 30 to 35 minutes to get this quantity of besan perfectly roasted, so have patience and continue.
5. After 30 minutes, the color will change to a golden brown, there will be a nice earthy aroma all around the kitchen – add in the ground almonds and cardamom powder at this stage and switch off the gas. Remove the wok to a cold burner – it takes seconds for the besan to burn – it will go from brown to black and bitter.
6. Let this whole deal cool for 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, take a big steel plate with raised sides or a baking tray and grease it’s surface with ghee or oil.
7. Once the the besan is warm (not hot), which it should be after 25 minutes, add the sugar and mix. Dont add the whole sugar at one go, keep adding and mixing half cup at a time. Taste the mixture if you want less or more sugar.
8. The mixture will be pretty liquid-y, don’t worry about it – that is the way it should be. Dump the whole thing in the big plate or tray and smooth the surface using the back of a spoon or bowl. Sprinkle the slivered almonds or pistachios, I has some Everest Doodh Masala too which I spread on it.
9. Put the tray in the fridge for an hour and later, cut into pieces using a sharp knife.
10. Store in an air tight container for up to a month – it has no water or dairy so has a long shelf life.

besan burfi4

Ready to be cut in to pieces.

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Garlic Pull-Apart Rolls

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Yay! I was finally able to pull off a yeast bread – with a pretty decent outcome. After seeing my brother Manish bake bread, but weighing yeast on his fancy kitchen scale and measuring the temperature of his warm water using a thermometer – I got pretty scared by the whole deal and tried to forget about the packets of yeast I had bought. But when I came across this recipe that uses instant yeast, promises good results for a newbie baker and has 100+ comments to vouch for it, I decided to give it a try and was not disappointed. The recipe makes eight rolls, which means my family of 2.5 can consume it in one meal – a good thing because these taste best when fresh out of the oven. Encouraged by the success, I am already planning to make these with paneer or pesto or who knows…potatoes!

Garlic 1

Recipe source – Cooking and Me (this link has the recipe explained really nicely with step by step pictures )

Ingredients –

To make the rolls –
All purpose flour – 1.5 cups
Warm tap water – 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp
Instant yeast – 1/2 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Olive Oil – 1tbsp + 1 tsp
Sesame Seeds – 1/2 tbsp(optional)
Milk – 2 tsp

To make the garlic butter –
Salted butter, at room temperature – 6 tbsp
Minced garlic – 2 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves – 2 tbsp

Method –

  1. In a mixing bowl, add flour + instant yeast + sugar + salt.
  2. Add warm water to make a dough – add the water slowly, don’t add all of it at one go, you may end up with a big sticky mess. You may not even need all of the water.
  3. Now add the 1 tbsp olive oil and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
  4. Keep the dough covered with cling wrap or a plate in a warm place.I keep it in my oven.
  5. Wait for 45 minutes for the dough to rise. While waiting, make the garlic butter by mixing together the minced garlic + butter + chopped coriander. Keep this in the fridge, as mine started to melt.
  6. Also take a loaf pan and grease it with butter or oil.
  7. After 45 minutes, punch the dough to remove the air and knead it again for a couple of minutes. Cut the dough ball into two equal halves.
  8. Spread some dry flour on your kitchen counter.Roll one half of the dough to a rectangle of 1/2 inch thickness. Spread nearly half of the garlic butter on the rectangle and roll it into a tight roll.
  9. Cut the roll in middle to get two rolls. Now cut the rolls again so that you have four equal rolls. Do the same with the other half of the dough. So now you have eight rolls.
  10. Arrange these eight rolls  in the loaf pan, cut side up – don’t worry if they touch each other  – that is what will give these the ‘pull apart’ thing. If you have any garlic butter remaining in the bowl, add two tsp of milk to the bowl an scrape it – spread this milk mixture on the rolls. Also sprinkle sesame seeds if you want to.
  11. Cover these again and keep them at a warm place for 20 minutes. They will rise a little again.
  12. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
  13. Keep the rolls to bake for 50 minutes at 375F. Keep an eye after 45 minutes, I used a glass loaf pan so was able to monitor not only the top of the rolls, but if the sides were browning too.
  14. Eat these while warm – they taste the best at this stage !

Garlic 2

 

Eggless Cumin Cookies (Jeera Biscuits)

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Cumin Cookies

Crunchy Cookies loaded with Cumin

While I have been successful in keeping Aditi close to Indian food and cooking by making sweets such as coconut laddu, gajar ka hawla and badam peda, Indian bakes are something totally unknown to her – given that I took up baking only after landing in Canada. While she is pretty happy munching on Chocolate cookies and M&M cookies – both me and Nilesh crave for the Indian version of cookies – mostly salty and flavored with spices such as cumin and carom. I kept looking for a recipe and the one I tried was like a dream come true! This recipe produces perfect crunchy and ‘same as back home’ cookies – that made us nostalgic. To my surprise, even Aditi got hooked to these and now I am all set to try a carom (Ajwain) version. Another thing I liked about this recipe is that though egg-less, it does not use baking soda or baking powder – lesser the number of ingredients, the better I feel about the whole deal.

Recipe source – Cook With Manali

Ingredients –
All purpose flour: 1 cup + 2 tbsp
Unsalted Butter : 1/2 cup (1 stick) at room temperature
Sugar: 1/4 cup
Salt: 3/4 tsp (The original recipe says 1/4 tsp, but I wanted them real salty so took a risk and added 1/4 tsp 3 times, tasting a pinch of dry flour after every addition, till I did not feel salt on my tongue).
Cumin/Jeera seeds: 1 tbsp

Method –
1. Take out the butter from the fridge in a big mixing bowl for two to three hours. In winters, I have tried leaving the butter out at room temperature overnight and found it perfectly soft-but-not-melted in the morning.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Spread the cumin seeds on a baking tray and keep them in the pre-heated oven for 5 minutes. You will get a nice aroma of roasted cumin seeds. Take these out and let them be.
2. Mix in another mixing bowl – flour, salt and 3/4 tbsp cumin seeds. Make sure you mix these real well as we want the salt to be evenly distributed. I felt an urgent need to buy a sifter – which went to my ever growing mental list of ‘buy professional baking stuff’.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together – I use my hand mixer for 2 minutes, till it is light and fluffy.
4. Add the flour (to which the salt and cumin seeds were added) and mix.I used my hands to bring together the dough. The stuff has so much butter that it should not be a problem.
5. Now roll out the dough into a sheet – about 1/4 inch thick. Try to roll it out evenly, so that all the cookies are of the same thickness.
6. Pick a cookie cutter – these are traditionally round or a square with smooth round edges. I left it to Aditi to pick something to cut the cookies and she found the smallest round lid of something that fit her hand.
7. The 1/4 tbsp roasted cumin seeds that did not go in the dough – stick them on the cookies. I again got my six year old sous-chef do it.
8. Place the cookies on a baking tray in the oven – pre-heated at 350F.
9. Bake for 10 minutes. Take the cookies out and reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
10. Put the cookies back in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Open the oven door and rotate the tray. Bake for another 5 minutes.
11. Place the cookies on a cooling wire rack. They will be all crunchy when completely cooled.