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 ❤️❤️

 

 

 

 

 

Moong ki daal ke pakode (green lentil fritters)

I love Makar Sankranti festival the most! In Jaipur Makar Sankranti is celebrated in its full galore. Before a month itself you can feel the vibes of the festival in the air. Even a small street corner general store starts selling kites. Immediately after coming back from school, kids will be seen on terrace with their kites till their mother starts calling them to come down because it is going to be very cold – after all it’s peak of winter season. Mothers will be drying up sesame seeds in hot sun for preparing sweets as til ki papdi and til ke ladoo. 

Kids keep their kites ready the previous night of Sankranti itself. Gaajar ka halwa is prepared and split green moong daal is soaked previous night of Sankranti. I remember at my parents’ house we used to take bath with cold fresh tap water early in the morning on the day of Sankranti (a religious custom). Mother used to be busy with her pooja preparations and we used to wait for Sun to come so that sky can be clear of fog. I remember, once my brother, Sunny, and I, tried to fly kite very early in the morning when it was still dark. We found some neighbours also along with their kites on their terrace. But unfortunately because of fog kites became wet and everyone returned disappointed.

Sankranti is the best day to be soaked up in the Sun. Whole day family members are on the terrace. If guests or neighbours visit you, they also join you on the terrace.

Streets are also full of kids – some will be there to fly kites and others to catch the kites. Have you ever caught a kite flying in from somewhere in the sky, and somehow you guessed that it’s going to cross through your territory…it creates such a wonderful scene!! Everyone on your terrace is on full alert, sometimes including your parents, not to leave no stone unturned to catch the incoming kite!!!! And the person who succeeds in catching that kite will have a wonderful sense of proud feeling!!

Whole day will be gone in watching and flying kites, making loud hullabaloo if you are successful in snapping others kite’s string, gossiping, and munching roasted groundnuts, gazak, revadi, til papdi and hot moong ki daal ke pakode /vade.

Oh, I miss so much Makar Sankranti celebration in Jaipur, 😢 I guess I can write a lot about this festival. It is that one festival which is celebrated from morning till night. After sunset also some people fly kites with lamp, even though it gets very cold.

After shifting to Bangalore I hardly saw kids flying kites. But a few days before Sankranti I read that at some place kite festival was being organized. And today when we went out to our nearby shopping complex in Banashankari 3rd stage, I was amazed to see kites being sold in shops. Just like rakhi now there were kites to attract kids with their favorite cartoon characters like Doremon, Dora, Barbies etc. Even our honourable Prime Minister Modi kite was there.

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I really hope that in coming 3-4 four years we might see sky of Bangalore filled with colourful kites on Makar Sankranti.

The main attraction of food in the whole day of Makar Sankranti is ‘chilke vaali hari moong ki daal ke pakode‘. Daal is soaked the previous night, and in the morning it is ground, spices added and this batter is used the whole day for family members and guests to have hot pakode. These are very tasty and crispy and you can have them with your hot evening tea.

Ingredients :

Split green moong daal,  green chillies, ginger, salt, red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and water.

Process :

Wash nicely and soak daal overnight or just for 2 hours in the morning – it puffs up nicely.

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Add salt, red chilli powder, green chillies, asafoetida and ginger. Without water grind it in a mixer. We need thick batter, so don’t add water while grinding.

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Heat oil in a deep pan and with your finger tips take very small quantity of daal batter and drop it carefully in the hot oil. If this tiny pakoda/fritter floats in the oil, it signifies that oil is hot enough to fry. In the same way fry rest of the pakode. You can use spoon also to drop the batter in oil.

 

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On medium heat fry pakode nicely by turning them upside down.

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Take them out with a handled sieve to drain out extra oil.

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Serve hot and crispy pakode with any sauce or chutney.

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Aalu ki kachori

Whenever at my parent’s house my maternal uncles used to visit us, my mother used to prepare proper UP (Uttar Pradesh) style food. There will be poori, dry potatoes veggie (which used to look like pickle because of extra oil and extra spices) one curry, curd with sugar or boondi ka raita and aalu ki kachori….. and sweet – that my uncles always used to bring, so mother never bothered to prepare.

This whole food served in steel thali (big size plate with edges) used to look so delicious that I always used to think that uncle’s visit should be more often 😋.

Among this whole platter my favorite used to be ‘aalu ki kachori’. I have never tasted such wonderful kachori in any restaurant till now.

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Before marriage I had never attempted to prepare them independently, actually I never dared to do, because I didn’t want to go through a disastrous attempt. But after marriage as we all do many experiments with food in kitchen, I too tried kachori. Taste was very good but a few of them tore and potato filling came out during frying.

Slowly over the years I continued making them and proudly can say that now I can fry every single kachori in perfect shape!!!!!!

Mother’s recipes and tips are always perfect despite the fact that they used to prepare everything with their guess work!!

 

Ingredients

For preparing dough….

Wheat flour 2+1/2 cups
Salt 3/4 tsp
Carom seeds 1 tsp
Oil 2 +1/2 tbsp
Rava 1+1/2 tbsp (optional)
Water 1 cup +1/4 cup

Potato masala :

Boiled Potatoes
Dry mango powder, garam masala, salt, red chilli powder, asafoetida, chopped green chillies, finely chopped green coriander leaves(optional) and grated ginger(optional).

Oil, to fry

Tips :

1.   We have to knead slightly loose dough than our regular chapati dough. Loose dough will be easy to roll with stuffed potato mix.

2.   If you are feeling that the quantity of water is making dough very loose, then you can reduce some amount of water.

3.   Adding rava adds extra crunch to kachori  but if you don’t have, comfortably leave it.

4.   Make sure that coriander leaves have no water in them, otherwise potato mix will be soggy and it will make rolling difficult. Also, mix will seep out while rolling and frying.

5.  After boiling, keep potatoes in a strainer for some time so that all water drains out. Soggy boiled potatoes are not good for filling.

6.  Do not prepare potato mixture 2-3 hours in advance. Salt in mixture will turn it soggy.

7.  If you are preparing kachori first time, fry one kachori at a time, gain confidence and slowly you can do 2-3 at a time.

Process:

Take wheat flour, salt, carom seeds, rava in a broad pan to prepare the dough. Add oil and mix everything together.

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Now start adding water to knead and prepare slightly loose dough. Cover it with a damp cloth and keep it aside.

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Peel and mash potatoes and add all spices as per your taste along with chopped green chillies, coriander leaves and grated ginger. Mix everything together and potato mix is ready.

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Start heating oil in a deep pan. During the time oil is getting hot we can start the preparation of filling and rolling kachori.

Take some amount of dough and prepare it like a smooth ball between your palms and roll it little bit with the help of rolling pin . If dough is sticky, use oil to grease your palms and at rolling surface.

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Now add small amount of potato mix on the slightly rolled dough.

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From the edges start collecting the dough with your fingers, bring it at the center, close it and pat it down lightly.

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If required, again grease rolling surfer with oil and very gently roll stuffed dough carefully and evenly from all sides. Evenly rolled kachori will puff up nicely. Be careful that potato mix should not come out while rolling.

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By now oil is hot enough for frying. Make sure that oil is not very hot  otherwise kachori will remain raw from inside. You can check the right temperature of oil by putting a tiny piece of dough in it. If it sinks in the bottom of the pan, oil is not hot enough to fry. If dough becomes brown immediately after adding into the oil , it’s too hot. With experience you will learn!!

Now gently slip kachori from the side of the pan and fry it by turning upside down gently a couple of times till it becomes brown and crisp.

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Sometimes while frying kachori might open up and stuffing can seep out. It happens if you have rolled kachori very thin or it is overstuffed with potato mixture. Don’t panic, take out that damaged kachori and all that stuffing which is floating on oil with laddle and continue frying the rest of the kachoris.

Serve hot kachoris with your choice of chutney, sauce or dips!!

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Pyaaz ke pakode(crispy onion bhajji)

Pyaaj ke karare pakode
(crispy onion bhajji)

I have a very interesting story regarding how I learned to prepare these crispy onion bhajji!!! In North India “bhajji” word is not used. You prepare bhajji with potatoes, onion, green chillies or cauliflower…. the word is “pakoda.”

After my marriage I came to Chennai and here I got introduced to the word bhajji. After 10 months staying in Chennai we went to Jamaica. There was an Indian restaurant named Akbar. As an appetizer onion bhajji used to be served. It used to be less oily, and unlike onion pakode, crispy fried slices of onion wrapped with less flour used to be served. We used to enjoy them thoroughly and I always wondered how do they manage to use such less flour and have every slice separate without getting stuck with each other. I tried to replicate at home but failed miserably.

Three years later when when we were settled down in Bangalore, Manish and I were watching Sanjeev Kapoor’s show on TV and there he was cooking the same onion bhajji!!! We both jumped with joy to see the whole process and next weekend this onion bhajji was part of our breakfast!!!!
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Ingredients :
Onions
Oil for frying
Gram flour
salt

Process :
Peel onions and wash them nicely. Chop them vertically in long stripes.
You really need to chop a lot of onions here so take help from your family members…
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Add salt as per your taste in these chopped onion and mix nicely. Now let these salted onions rest for 20-30 minutes.

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During this resting period salt will melt and onions will be wet.

Now start sprinkling gram flour (besan) 1 tbsp at a time on these wet salty onion. We are not going to add water here, so use that much gram flour only which gets mixed with wet onions.

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Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the onion and besan mix. As there is less flour wrapped around onions, bhajjis wouldn’t absorb much oil during frying.

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Serve hot onion bhajji with your choice of chutney or sauce!!!

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Stuffed Brinjals/Eggplant/Aubergines

 

Are you bored of cooking plain brinjal vegetable? Try them in stuffed form….. you will sure start liking this vegetable again!!!!! With plain paratha, roti or side dish for rice, stuffed brinjal will enhance the flavor of your meal!!!
(Pardon the picture quality of ready stuffed brinjals, had guests in the house and I was feeling awkward to take pictures at the right frame).

Ingredients :

Small size brinjals
Oil
Spices : coriander powder, red chilli powder,turmeric powder  salt, a pinch of asafoetida (hing), garam masala, dry mango powder (amchoor), grinded fennel seeds(kuti hui sauf)

Process :

Wash and dry brinjals.

 

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Now collect all spices in a bowl and add one or two tsp oil in it and mix everything together.

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Cut brinjal horizontally and vertically – But make sure not to cut all the way, that is from end-to-end.

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Fill in little quantity of spices mix in the gaps – both horizontally and vertically.

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Heat one non stick or heavy bottomed  pan and pour 4-5 spoons of oil in it. Place all spices filled brinjals in it.

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Reduce the heat to sim, cover the pan and let them cook on sim flame

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Keep on turning  brinjals upside down for even cooking till they become tender from all sides.

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Serve with roti, nan, plain paratha or rice!

 

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