Tag Archives: besan

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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Shimla Mirch Besan – healthy option!

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While I raise my concerns about being overweight and the need to change our eating pattern at home, potato still remains the most frequently sought out vegetable in my household. This is done usually as for baby A, sabji = potato and potato = sabji. So, the potatoes in the veggie are usually picked out and heaped in baby A’s plate, which she chomps down with her roti – giving us a look which says – ‘ aren’t you guys proud of me? I am eating adult food – daal, sabji, roti!’. However, when I have got something else set up as her menu, I prefer to leave the potatoes alone and reach out for my favorite ingredient (maybe every maharashtrian’s favorite ingredient) – besan.
Back in my mom’s home, while addition of potatoes to vegetables is a crime, a liberal sprinkling of besan is the usual practice. It makes the vegetable delicious and healthy. Though I have seen besan being used very often in maharashtrian, rajasthani and gujrati cusine, it is not used in everyday cooking in north Indian food. No wonder hubby N had never eaten this version of shimla mirch ever before. It is great that he likes it as much as I do. Still waiting for baby A to get a taste of non-aaloo delights such as this one!

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Ingredients –
Shimla Mirch / Capsicum – 4 big (washed, deseeded, chopped to bite sized chunks)
Besan / Chickpea Flour – 3 tbsp (flat, not heaped)
Oil – 1.5 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – half tsp
Ajwain / Carom seeds – half tsp
Salt – as per taste
Haldi/ Turmeric Powder – half tsp
Laal Mirch / Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Dhania / Dry coriander powder – 2 tsp
Garam masala/ Kitchen King Masala – 1 tsp

Method –
1.Heat oil in a wok / non-stick pan.
2. When hot, add jeera, ajwain and let them splutter for a few seconds.
3. Add haldi, red chili powder and give it a stir to blend them with the oil.
4. Put in the shimla mirch chunks, mix gently to coat them with the oil mix.
5. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes / till the capsicum wilts.
6. Open and add salt. Cover and cook again for 5 minutes.
7. Open and sprinkle coriander powder and garam masala. Sprinkle the besan now. Mix gently so that the besan coats all the pieces. If you see things getting too dry, sprinkle some water.
8. Cook for 5 minutes in the open, so that the besan is cooked, moisture evaporates and the deal looks crisp and shiny.
9. Serve with rotis, or pack for lunch.

Karele ( Bitter Gourd) Ki Sabji

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Here is another sabji that adds to the healthy food regime. However, whether it is healthy or not depends on the way you make it. I have come across umpteen forms of karela which would remove it’s bitterness by squeezing them out using salt, deep fry them, boil them in salt water etc etc. However, I feel that it is the bitterness that is the good and healthy part in the vegetable, more since I have seen a person selling ‘karela juice’ at a spot near the morning walk area in my hometown. It is pure and bitter, and the guy always has an empty tumbler in an hour’s time!
You have to genuinely appreciate and enjoy the bitterness to accept this vegetable in your daily diet. That is what my (my mom’s) version does – cut up the gourd and cook it with minimal oil – coat it with a sprinkling of besan/ chickpea flour – another healthy ingredient. The only vice I find in this is that it turns out to be a bit dry – and has to be accompanied by a daal in the side. This also is an ideal accompaniment to carry for train travels.

Karela with Besan – Cant get healthier than that!

Ingredients –
Karela / Bitter Gourd – half kg
Besan / Chickpea Flour – 2 tbsp (flat, not heaped)
Oil – 1.5 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – half tsp
Ajwain / Carom seeds – half tsp
Salt – as per taste
Haldi/ Turmeric Powder – half tsp
Laal Mirch / Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Dhania / Dry coriander powder – 2 tsp
Garam masala – half tsp

Method –
1. Cut the karela – first vertically, lengthwise into two halves. Chop each half in small moons. Discard mature, hard seeds. The soft ones are ok.
2. Wash the chopped vegetables under running water. If you do want to reduce the bitterness, here is what you can do – sprinkle salt on the chopped pieces and let it rest for 15 minutes. Pick up the pieces in handfuls and squeeze as hard as you can – the vegetable will ooze out water – and the bitterness too. I skip this step.
3. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil. Once hot, add jeera, ajwain, haldi, laal mirch. Let these sizzle for half a minute.
4. Add the karela pieces. Mix gently and cook covered. After every 5 to 7 minutes, remove the lid and mix gently.
5. After 15 minutes, try to cut up a piece with a spoon. If it breaks easily, the sabji is done. By this time, it would have started to turn golden-yellow-brown too.
6. At this stage, add salt, garam masala and dhania powder and mix.
7. Sprinkle the besan now. Mix gently so that the besan coats all the pieces. If you see the deal getting too dry, sprinkle some water. (hoping you know the difference between sprinkle and pour – we are just trying to add some moisture!).
8. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes and you are done.