Kaashifal ka raita (pumpkin raita)

Kaashifal ka raita reminds me of winter season at my parents’ house in Jaipur. Compared to Bangalore, Jaipur is lot more colder during winter season. But despite very cold foggy mornings and chilled nights, Jaipur gets bright sunshine during the day.

My mother used to prepare a variety of raita each day for our lunch during winter season. Among all other varieties my favourite was Pumpkin Raita.

Kaashifal ka Raita has amazing blend of flavours. Sweetness of  yellow pumpkin is complimented by slight sourness of curd and a mix of red chilli powder, roasted jeera (cumin) powder and dry mint powder gives a wonderful taste of warm and cold spices.

Around 2 months back my daughter Apoorva was diagnosed with Ulcerative Collites. It was a shock for us as she is just 17 and we have always been very careful with our food habits. And till three years back Apoorva had no special  interest or liking in food. She was not able to tolerate spices at all. Can you believe that she never used to eat Pizza!! Slowly her taste buds started changing and she was enjoying and experimenting different types of cuisines at home and outside. Though we hardly eat outside or use frozen food but teenagers along with their friends love to eat outside and explore different cuisines. All of a sudden food related experiments came to a halt. Now she is restricted to rice, curd, lentils, lots of buttermilk, tender coconut water, vegetables without seeds, no raw fruits except banana, boiled apple, nothing with high fibre, no chilly of any variety, no milk products except curd,no fats and no sweet. Anything which causes heat is completely restricted till she recovers and recovery might take 6-7 months. Her board exams are on and so we are following food restrictions very strictly and are trying to to do some experiments with the given choices of ingredients.

Pumpkin as a veggie is Apoorva’s favourite, so I decided to introduce to her pumpkin raita too. I believe with such limited choice of food, she liked it as it was a change from having plain curd every day. Though we are not adding red chilli powder which gives it a wonderful taste, I am mentioning it in the list of ingrediants.

For raita, curd or butter milk can be used. Remember, this buttermilk is different from what we use in baking. In India buttermilk is a mix of curd and water and it is churned nicely.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin, thick buttermilk, salt, roasted cumin (jeera) seeds powder,dry mint powder, red chilli powder and asafoetida. 

Process :

Remove thick peel from pumpkin, wash it and and slice it into small pieces. 

Boil these pumpkin pieces in water till they are soft. 

Squeeze out the water completely from the boiled pumpkin and mash it as a smooth puree. 

If using curd, then churn it with churner and in a big bowl add pumpkin puree and  mix it nicely in the curd. 

Add salt, red chilli powder, roasted cumin (jeera) powder,dry mint powder and a pinch of asafoetida. Mix it nicely and sprinkle little bit of red chilli powder and roasted cumin powder on top of the raita just before serving. 

 

 

Kalkal/kulkul (Indian Christmas Cookies)

Kalkal or Kulkul are fried cookies which are prepared in India during Christmas. I am not sure about the authentic historical facts of the origin of these cookies. But based on my readings, these were started by the the Portuguese in India. Baking was never part of Indian culinary culture. We never had ovens in our kitchen. So probably when Portuguese came to India, as per Indian festival culture they were forced to prepare their cookies by frying them at the occasion of Christmas and which they named as kal kal or kul kul cookies.

Originally, kalkal dough has egg along with other ingredients and it is kneaded with coconut milk. But I have omitted egg and have used normal cow’s milk.

While reading about Kal kal cookies, I found them very similar to our Indian traditional Shakkarpara where we add sugar in the dough instead of preparing sugar syrup separately.

Shakkarpara (second version)

The difference between Kalkal and Shakkarpara is that Shakkarpara is crisp sweet snack and kalkal cookies have crisp outer layer and are soft from the inside.

We never add egg in any kind of Shakkarpara recipe whereas in orginal recipe egg is added in kalkal dough.

Shakkarpara dough is kneaded with water and it helps in keeping Shakkarpara crisp. Kalkal dough is kneaded with milk and is soft from the inside after frying.

What is the reason behind this shell shape for these cookies? Honestly speaking, I didn’t care much to know. I really liked this unique shape and was excited to try them.

 

The sugar quantity in Kulkul was perfect for me. It was neither less nor overly sweet. But to give a Christmas atmosphere we can sprinkle some powdered sugar on cookies after frying and can reduce 2-3 tbsp sugar while adding in the dough.

I know I am a bit late to talk about Christmas atmosphere and Christmas cookies, but aren’t we always ready to give us some sweet treat..!!

Few points to remember:

  1. Don’t prepare very thick kalkals. We fry them in a rolled shape. They might remain raw from inside if they will be very thick.
  2. Fry them on sim heat, so that they are properly fried from inside also.
  3. For some crunch I have added samolina /rava in the ingredients. But if you are not comfortable, skip it and add same quantity of flour.
  4. These cookies can be prepared with wheat flour also. Wheat flour absorbs more liquid, so you might have to add milk slightly more than mentioned in the recipe.
  5. If you want to make larger kalkals, use comb in place of fork.
  6. While sealing the edges of kalkals, hold kalkal from both the sides instead of holding from the middle. Holding from the middle will ruin the shell shape.
  7. Don’t forget to seal the edges otherwise while frying closed shell shape will turn into open shell shape.

Ingredients :

White flour (maida) 120 gm

Fine powdered sugar  50 gm

Suji/Rava  22 gm

Powdered cardamom 1/2 tsp

Butter 25 gm

Milk 2 tbsp (reduce or increase a little if required)

Oil for frying

Process :

Collect all ingredients except milk in a pan.

With the help of your fingertips mix butter in the flour. After mixing, flour will become grainy in texture.

Add milk and prepare dough, cover it and keep it for resting for 15 minutes.

After resting time, divide the dough in equal parts and prepare tiny balls. Grease butter on the back side of the fork and prepare Kulkuls by spreading and rolling dough ball on it.

 

Seal the edges nicely by holding kulkul from the both ends. Prepare all Kulkuls in the similar manner. Heat oil in a pan and on sim heat fry kulkuls.

To give festive mood, sprinkle powdered sugar on kulkuls and enjoy your crisp and soft fried cookies with your friends and family members.

 

Dry fruits Burfi

Dry fruits burfi is a traditional Indian sweet which is prepared almost in every state of India with some variations. Some prepare it with only dry fruits, while some add grated coconut to make it more healthy whereas some bind it with crushed  dates and others use jaggery syrup.

At my mother’s house every year dry fruits burfi was prepared on the occasion of Shree Krishna Janmashtami (celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna) with only dry fruits and sugar syrup. Here I have added dry coconut powder also.

Mixed dry fruits Burfi is the best homemade sweet for your family members. Moreover, you can have it during fasting days too. Navratri is just round the corner and you can prepare this Burfi for your 9 days fasting.

There is one more Burfi recipe in the blog and that is South Indian traditional festive sweet dish  Seven Cups Burfi

For your fasting days I have one more post in the blog – dry fruits kheer, if you have sweet tooth can check that also Dry fruits kheer  ,

INGREDIENTS:

Dry fruit mix 130 gm

Coconut powder 60 gm

Sugar 200 gm

Milk 1/4 cup milk

Water 1 cup

If you wish, you can take fresh or dry coconut powder.

Process:

Take all dry fruits of your choice and slightly roast each of them separately in 1/2 tsp desi ghee. Makhane (lotus seeds) might take slightly more ghee than other dry fruits.

Dry roast coconut powder for a minute. Roastingwill help to maintain the longevity of burfi.

After roasting, when dry fruits are slightly warm, grind them coarsely only to break them into pieces. Mix coconut powder in coarsely ground dry fruits.

In a wok pour water and switch on gas on full heat. Add sugar and keep on stirring it until it melts.

The moment sugar melts completely, add 1/4th cup milk in it to remove impurities of sugar.

With the help of big spoon remove impurities and then reduce heat to medium and let the sugar syrup become thick till it reaches 2 thread consistency.

In the meanwhile, grease one plate till the edges with desi ghee and keep it separate.

Keep a sharp eye on sugar syrup and keep on checking the thread regularly. The moment it turns in two thread consistency, immediately pour dry fruit mixture in it. Switch off gas and mix everything swiftly and pour everything in ready greased plate. With the help of flat spatula, spread the mixture evenly on a plate and pat it from all sides.

My plate was bigger than the quantity of dry fruits mix, so I kept the mixture in a limited place otherwise Burfi would be very thin.

Let it cool down for sometime till it becomes comfortably warm and then cut Burfi with the help of sharp knife in any shape or size.

Enjoy dry fruits Burfi with your family and friends.

 

Stuffed Baati (baked)

Stuffed Baati is a traditional Rajasthani savoury dish. It is prepared with wheat flour, and stuffed with boiled potatoes mix. Traditionally,  stuffed baati is a roasted dish and later it is immersed in melted desi ghee (clarified butter) which gives it a wonderful combination of crispy outer layer and softer insides.

We get a separate baati oven to roast as now in our modern kitchen roasting baati in traditional way is not possible. For more information on traditional method of preparing plain baati, you can refer my  earlier post  Plain Baati (traditional Rajasthani food)

Generally, I prepare this complete traditional Rajasthani platter of besan ke ladoo (Besan ke ladoo),  panchmel daal (Panchmel daal), baati and churma – wheat flour (Churma (wheat flour)) and besan (Besan churma) – on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi festival. But this time, after a few days of  Ganesha festival there was a potluck arranged at my husband’s office. So I decided to send panchmel daal and stuffed baked baati. As I don’t have baati oven till now, I baked them in my OTG.

Oh, it was a lot of baati baking day!!

I baked stuffed baati dough in two batches – initial 60 baatis for potluck and another 30 in second batch for our lunch and some for my neighbouring friends.

It was a big tiring day, but in the afternoon my husband’s message refreshed me and I was re-energised!

My dish was appreciated by all and was ranked first under vegetarian dishes category 💃💃💃💃

Try these stuffed baked baatis once and feel free to at add any stuffing of your choice. It could be mixed veggies with paneer (cottage cheese), cheese, fresh grated coconut or roasted gram flour with spices too.

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Ingredients:

Wheat flour 3 cups
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Baking powder 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Carom seeds (ajwain) 1+1/2 tsp
Water 1+1/2 cup (reduce or increase 1-2 tbsp as per requirement,normal temperature)
Oil/desi ghee (clarified butter) 4 tbsp
Melted Desi ghee 1/4 cup (extra)
Boiled Potato mixture with spices

Process:

Collect all dry ingredients in a big vessel so that kneading is easy.

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Pour melted ghee and with the help of water knead smooth dough.

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Peel boiled potatoes and add salt, red chilli powder, asafoetida, garam masala, dry mango powder, grated ginger, finely chopped green chillies and green coriander leaves. If you like the taste, can add little bit of chaat masala too.

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Mash potatoes and mix everything together. Potatoes mix is ready.

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Divide the dough in 40-45 gms balls and roll them smooth.

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Flatten one ball of dough with the help of rolling pin or simply with your fingers.

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Place in between little bit of potato mix and close it.

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Roll this filled baati gently in between your palms to make it smooth. This way complete all baatis and place them in your ghee greased baking tray. Brush them with melted ghee nicely and bake in a pre-heated oven at 185 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or till they are nicely brown.

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Once again apply melted ghee all over the baked baatis and relish them with panchmel daal or as a snack with your tea.

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Rasmalai

After my previous post on Rasgulla I am bringing one more sweet dish with paneer which you will love to prepare this summer.

Rasmalai is that one sweet dish which my father-in-law loves the most. Now because of his health issues he is staying with us in Bangalore. But until two years back whenever we used to go visit him in Jaipur, he would always buy and keep one pack of rasmalai in the fridge. If some guest is coming home for lunch or dinner… dessert was always rasmalai!!

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So when I learned to prepare rasgulla, I decided to try rasmalai also.

Rasmalai is also prepared with paneer but here additional ingredient is milk, making it different from rasgulla.

If you can prepare rasgulla, then trust me…. 90% work is done here!

So, again I am posting the recipe of Rasgulla here (just in case if anyone has missed it) as it is the main ingredient in rasmalai. Next, we will turn these rasgullas into rasmalai.

Ingredients

Rasgulla :
1 kg full fat milk
1 lemon juice(can be replaced with 1 tbsp vinegar)
2 cups sugar (granulated)
4-1/2 cups water
2 to 3 whole cardamom seeds (optional)
Keep ready one tray of ice cubes

Rasmalai:
1 litre low fat milk
Sugar, as per your taste
Few saffron strands (optional)
Cardamom powder
Mixed dry fruits (chopped)

Method

Squeeze out lemon juice, sieve it, add equal amount of water to the lemon juice and keep this mixture separately.

Boil milk and pour lemon juice into it. The moment milk starts curdling (milk is so hot that it will curdle quickly), switch off gas.

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When whole milk is curdled nicely, pour that immediately in a strainer covered with muslin cloth and add ice cubes to it.

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Let this chhena remain in muslin cloth and wash it nicely in running water so that no taste of lemon or vinegar remains. Squeeze out all water from chhena. Finally, hang this chhena in the muslin cloth for 10-15 minutes so that the rest of the water drains out. If you feel that chhena is too wet, squeeze it with your hands.

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Mash chhena properly. Rub it nicely with your hands so that all the grains of chhena become soft and you can collect it like a dough.

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Prepare small balls of this whole chhena dough. There should not be any cracks in the balls. If you are still gettings cracks, rub the chhena ball between your palms and again make the ball.

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Actually, for rasmalai we can gently press the ball of chhena to look like patties. Now, in a big sized vessel or cooker add water, sugar, and cardamom seeds. Switch on gas on high flame. Keep stirring water till whole sugar is dissolved. The moment the water starts boiling, add all your chhena balls into this syrup.

If you are using cooker, let it boil till first whistle and then sim the flame for next 5-7 minutes.

If you are using a vessel, keep the flame high for the first five minutes and then reduce it to sim for the next 5-7 minutes. Keep some weight on the cover.

Don’t let the rasgullas boil for more than the required time, else they will turn chewy instead of spongy.

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Let the steam cool down and then open the lid of the cooker. You will see that your small balls of chhena have doubled in size.

Your spongy rasgullas are ready or we can say that the first step of rasmalai preparation is over.

Shift them to another bowl along with sugar syrup. Let them cool down completely and later keep them in the fridge for 2-3 hours so that rasgullas becomes slightly firm.

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Rasmalai:

Boil low fat milk kept for rasmalai. Once milk starts boiling, keep the heat on sim. Keep the milk stirring so as to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the vessel. Boil it till the volume of the milk is reduced to half of the original. Add sugar and stir till sugar dissolves completely and switch the off gas. Milk consistency will be thin now. If interested, add cardamom powder and saffron strands for flavor and let the milk cool down completely.

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After 2-3 hours take rasgullas out from the fridge. Squeeze each one by one gently between your palms to take the syrup out from them and keep them on a strainer so that rest of the syrup drains out.

Remember not to squeeze hard, otherwise rasgulla will break.

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Add these rasgullas in ready milk and keep them in the fridge for 3-4 hours so that rasgullas will absorb the milk. Add finely chopped mixed dry fruits.

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In half of the milk I added some strands of saffron and left the other half as it. That is why you can see the difference in color in both the bowls below.

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Serve chilled, creamy, delicious rasmalai to your lovely family and dear friends and enjoy the showers of appreciation.. 💃💃💃💃

 

Rasgulla

I am a complete dessert person who doesn’t need any excuse to gorge on sweets. And if I have homemade dessert, I just keep on searching for an excuse to go again and again into the kitchen.

During summer you just don’t feel like having high calories sweets.You crave for something light which can be digested easily. So I prefer to prepare sweets from paneer during the summer season.

Rasgulla from paneer can be the base dish for many sweets. So you first learn to prepare Rasgulla (believe me, its not so difficult as it seems) and the rest of the varieties will be very easy to prepare.

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The secret of preparing the best spongy rasgulla is in the right technique for preparing paneer. While searching for a good recipe for Rasgulla, I found a video by Vahvah chef about preparing rasmalai. After watching this video i mastered (not at all exaggerating) the way to prepare rasgulla. This is the picture of when I made rasgulla successfully for the first time…

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Later I tried rasmalai, rajbhog and cham- cham (malai-sandwich) successfully with the base of all these sweet dishes as rasgulla with little variations. I will be posting all of them in the blog, but first I am starting with Rasgulla recipe …..

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Ingredients :

I kg full fat milk
I lemon juice(can be replaced with 1 tbsp vinegar)
2 cups sugar (granulated)
4 1/2 cup water
Seeds of 2-3 whole cardamom(optional)
Keep ready one tray of ice cubes
Method:
Squeeze out lemon juice, sieve it, add equal amount of water to the lemon juice and keep it separately.
Boil milk and pour lemon juice into it..
The moment milk starts curdling switch off gas…milk is so hot that it will curdle.

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When whole milk is curdled nicely…immediately pour this in a strainer which is covered with muslin cloth … add ice cubes.

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Let the chhena remain in muslin cloth and wash this nicely in running water so that no taste of lemon or vinegar remains. Squeeze out all water from chhena.
Now hang this chhena in muslin cloth for 10-15 min..so that rest of the water drains out.
Still If you feel that chhena is too wet, squeeze it with your hands

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Mash chhena properly.
Rub it nicely with your hands so that all the grains of chhena become soft and you can collect it like a dough.

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Prepare small balls of this whole chhena dough. There should not be any cracks in the balls.
And still if you are getting cracks, rub the chhena ball between your palms and again make the ball, or give it any other shape.

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Now in a big size vessel or cooker add water, sugar, and cardamom seeds. Switch on gas on high flame.
Keep stirring water till whole sugar is dissolved…and the moment the water starts boiling, put all your chhena balls into this syrup and cover the vessel and keep some weight on the cover… (if using cooker, let it boil till first whistle and then sim the flame for next 5-7 min.) Gas flame should be high for the first five min….and then reduce it to sim for next 5-7 minutes .

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Let the steam cool down and then open the lid of the cooker. You will see that your small balls of chhena have doubled in size.

Your spongy rasgullas are ready….!!
Shift them in another bowl along with sugar syrup. Let them cool down completely and later keep them in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

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Serve chilled.

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Oh, you cook  different dishes also other than just baking bread….!!

This was the instant reaction I got from my dear hubby in the evening when he saw the bowl of rasgullas on dining table … 😀😀😀

 

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Would love to hear from you about this  spongy paneer sweet dish ❤️❤️