Monday, 9 July 2018

Mango Laddu | Mango Coconut Laddu | Mango Coconut Balls


We absolutely adore summers for Mangoes. By Mid July, every variety of mango that grows in north India arrives in the market. And every time we pass by a mango vendor, we end up buying mangoes that adds to the stock already sitting at home.  We love to relish these sweet little things in all the glorious forms. Milkshake, mango lassi, slices, ice creams. We are definitely this fruit fanatic.

Mango is truly called the king of the fruits. You can never have enough of the juicy and sweet fruit and the different flavour that every variety has to offer. Every summer we are overstocked and the same sequence of mango recipe is repeated, loved and enjoyed every season.


It is always the Mango Jam first. The golden jam has robust mango flavour. We love to store it to relish when mangoes are out of season.



Mango Rabri is a traditional Indian dessert that is creamy, fruity and the stuff dreams are made of.



Mango Sandesh is a twist to the traditional Bengali dessert. Mango adds a great flavour to it.



Mango bread is a yeasty bread with a mild hint of the mangoes. Though the flavour is not very strong, the moistness and sweetness it adds to the crumb is incredible.




Mango cake is a delight. It is soft and full of flavour.

This season, mangoes have reached the peak in availability and taste. And, a new recipe adds to the collection. Mango Laddu.

If you love mangoes then this is definitely worth giving a try. It is melt in the mouth mango treat that is addictive.  Condensed milk and mango is a combination made in heaven. Coconut adds a good texture to the laddu. You may add cardamom powder or freshly grated nutmeg if you wish, but the plain avatar has a great flavour and taste.


Mango Laddu | Mango Coconut Laddu | Mango Coconut Balls


Ingredients

  • 1 can condensed milk (400g)
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup mango puree
  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut to roll the laddu

Instructions

  1. Take 2 cups desiccated coconut in a thick bottom steel pan. Roast on low flame.
  2. Turn off the heat when it just begins to change colour.
  3. In a thick bottom steel pan, add condensed milk mango puree and roasted coconut. Mix well.
  4. Cook on low flame. Keep stirring continuously.
  5. The mixture will begin to thicken. Keep cooking till it reduces and collects in the center as one big lump.
  6. Turn off the heat.
  7. When the mixture is warm enough to handle, make walnut size balls and roll them in reserved desiccated coconut.
  8. Let the laddu cool completely. Store in an airtight container.                     
Use the standard 240ml cup for the measurements.

Coconut laddus have a unique flavour that comes from mango puree. You may add 1 teaspoon. cardamom powder or ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg after turning off the heat. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Himalayan Plum Jam | Plum Jam




It is a bright morning. The air is crisp and cool. The orchards are full of women men and children who have gathered to pluck the plums. Their laughter and animated conversations pervade. The trees are full of plums that are beginning to ripen. This is the best time for picking the fruit. The fruit has to be firm to touch or else it will not survive the transit.


Men climb the fragile branches nimbly. Their agility in climbing the trees is amazing. Perhaps they have been doing so since childhood and have become dexterous in the art. They pluck the fruits and throw down into the baskets placed under the trees.


 Once the baskets are full, women and children sort the fruit. Very ripe ones are eaten or taken home. Rest is then taken to the packing rooms.


When you have more fruit than you can eat or give away, and you don’t want it to go waste, you find a way to preserve it. This year we had an overabundance of produce. We shared with our friends and had plums almost three meals a day. We did not want the fruit to rot on the ground. We made jam with juicy, sweet ripe plums.


After making many batches of plum jam, this recipe works best for me. If you want thick chunky and flavourful jam, these tips will help you-
  • Use only ripe and super ripe plums. The riper the better.
  • To keep the texture chunky, cut the plums into quarters. The fruit will breakdown while cooking and this will give the jam a nice texture.
  • Macerate overnight in the refrigerator. This will draw the juices out of the fruit and will dissolve the sugar. The jam cooks faster next day.
  • You may skip lemon juice if you are making a small batch of jam. Lemon juice also helps in preserving. Use the juice of half a lemon for every cup of fruit.


Himalayan Plum Jam | Plum Jam

Ingredients

  • Plums
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Wash the plums. Wipe them dry.
  2. Cut into small pieces. 
  3. For every one cup of the chopped fruit, add one cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar. If the plums are tart, take 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup of chopped plums.
  4. Mix fruit pieces and sugar in a large steel or ceramic bowl and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Next morning, let the mixture come to room temperature.
  6. Cook on medium flame stirring constantly.
  7. Keep a steel plate in the freezer to test the jam.
  8. When the jam reduces in quantity almost by half and becomes thick, reduce the heat. Add lemon juice. Cook on low flame and stir constantly otherwise it will scorch at the bottom.
  9. When the jam bubbles and becomes thick and falls from the ladle in lumps, turn off the heat.
  10. Drop some jam in the plate kept in the freezer. Return the plate back to the freezer.  After a few minutes, nudge with your finger. If it wrinkles, it is done. If it is runny, cook further.
  11. In the meantime, sterilize the bottles. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 150 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven.
  12. Fill the jam in the sterilized bottles while the jam is hot.

See more on sterilizing jars here 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Peach Preserve | Himalayan Peach Preserve

  


 Flower-filled meadows, bird songs, fruit-laden trees, and salubrious clime is what summer is all about in our hills. Hills are heaven in summers. While the plains are reeling in the scorching heat, we still manage to get a shower or two almost every week. The green slopes are dotted with yellows, pinks and whites.
The orchards are in fruition and early June to mid-June is the time for plucking the fruit. Peaches are bountiful this year. Red juicy and pulpy peaches are a treat. One can never have enough of the peaches.


Himalayan Peaches are very juicy and flavourful. We make Peach Jam and preserve every year. I follow my dad’s recipe for the Peach Jam where I pressure cook the fruit. 


This year, besides jam, we made Peach Preserve also. Preserve has pieces of fruit and is chunky in texture. Sometimes you almost chew the fruit. We keep the sugar on the lower side. If you prefer a sweet preserve, add one cup of sugar for every cup of chopped peaches.
It is a pleasure to enjoy the peachy deliciousness once the fruits are over. Peach preserve is delicious and an excellent way of using the overabundance of produce.


Peach Preserve | Himalayan Peach Preserve

Ingredients

  • 1 kg ripe peaches
  • Sugar
  • Juice of two lemons

Instructions

  1. Wash the peaches. Remove dirt and fuzz.
  2. It the peaches are firm, use a paring knife to remove the skin.
  3. If the peaches are ripe and soft, then boil water in a large pot. When it comes to a low rolling boil, drop peaches and let them stay in hot water for two minutes.
  4. Take ice cold water in another deep bowl. Transfer the peaches to this bowl.
  5. Peel the skin. The skin will slip off easily. Or with a knife grab a piece of the skin and peel it away.
  6. Remove the seeds and chop into small pieces and transfer to the steel wok in which you intend to cook the jam.
  7. Drizzle lemon juice and toss the pieces to coat them all with lemon juice.
  8. Measure the chopped peaches with measuring cups.
  9. For every one cup of chopped peaches add ¾ cup of sugar or more depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
  10. Stir and let it sit for 2-3 hours.
  11. Keep a steel plate in the freezer.
  12. Cook the mixture on medium flame stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced considerably and become thick and jelly-like.
  13. At this point, cook on low flame and stir more frequently to prevent scorching at the bottom.
  14. Soon the preserve will begin to coat the ladle thickly. To test for the doneness, drop a teaspoon of preserve onto the cold plate. Tilt the plate. If it runs slowly it is done. You may also drop some jam on the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate. If it doesn't try to run back together, it is done. If it is runny, it needs to be cooked for some more time.
  15. While the jam cools, sterilise the bottles. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the baking tray of the oven. Set the temperature to 140 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven.  (more on sterilising jars here )
  16. Ladle hot jam into the hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Secure the lids tightly. 






 




Thursday, 7 June 2018

Doodhi Kulfi | Low Fat Low-Calorie Kulfi



The morning is crisp, cold and breezy. A medley of bird songs is soothing and sonorous. A Green Bee-eater perches on a wire and frequently swoops down for insects.


 Far on a terrace, two pigeons are busy with each other.



Soon the Sun peeps from behind the hill. It looks like a dragon back to spew fire. The hillside is brown and the fields are bare. The river close to the forest has shrunk. It looks more like a brook. Everyone is waiting for a good monsoon.
The heat is maddening. Kids insist on buying ice cream. But ice cream from the market every day is not an appealing idea. Everyone agreed on making kulfi – our Indian version of ice cream.
We decided on making Doodhi Kulfi. It is a low-calorie dessert. Doodhi is bottle gourd also known as lauki in Hindi.



Strange it may sound but it is amazingly delicious and with doodhi (lauki) as a thickener, it is low calorie, unlike regular kulfi. This recipe is from the  book "Great Recipes" a Femina and Spice Board of India presentation published some 25 years ago.

Doodhi Kulfi | Low Fat Low-Calorie Kulfi

Ingredients

  • 1 ½  litres toned milk
  • 2 cups grated doodhi (Lauki)
  • 5 Slices of bread
  • ¼  cup raw Pistachios
  • 1 ½  cups Sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon Cardamom powder


Instructions

  1. Keep aside 1 cup of milk. Boil the rest till it is reduced 1/3 of its volume. Let it cool.
  2. Remove the edges of bread slices. Soak in 1 cup boiled hot milk for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove seeds from doodhi. Grate and measure two cups. Boil until tender. Squeeze to remove water.
  4. Blend together bread, doodhi and sugar.
  5. Mix with the thickened milk.
  6. Chop 20 pistachios. Add to the mixture. Add cardamom powder. Mix
  7. Fill the kulfi mixture in kulfi moulds. Keep in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours or until set.
  8. Coarsely powder the remaining pistachios. Sprinkle on kulfi. Serve

My Tip:
 Peel, slice, remove seeds and grate doodhi . Measure two cups. Use.
 Adjust sugar according to your preference for sweetness.


Saturday, 19 May 2018

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies





It is mid-May. Our friends in the plains share their woes about the rising temperature. We are fortunate to be in the hills. It is warm, vivid and green. Full of summer fruits and flowers and frolicking birds. Yesterday, it was bright. It was breezy and by mid-afternoon clouds appeared and started moving, rolling and rearranging themselves in fascinating and sometimes grotesque patterns on the blue canvass. Winds roared and howled and thunderclap deafened the world. The drama ended in the rain sprinkling on the grass, in the garden, and in the valley. The shower was soothing, the gust of cool air delighting, petrichor so intoxicating and elevating the senses to another level. There is something magical about rain. It nourishes the Earth and also the soul.


We sat in our verandah, soaking in the beauty and freshness that comes after a good downpour. We spotted a pair of Brahminy Starling perched in the lower branches of the Yellow Trumpet tree.
The evening was windy and cold. We enjoyed steaming tea with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies.


Peanut butter was homemade. Living in a small place has its own limitations. We do not get cream cheese in the stores here. We made cream cheese at home. If you wish to make cream cheese at home, follow my recipe given at the end of the post.


It was a pleasure to bake whole grain brownie. We loved the gooey chocolaty Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Layer

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup Cream Cheese
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg

Brownie Base

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar powdered
  • ¼ cup thick yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

 Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line one 8x8 inch square cake pan.
  3. In a large bowl, take cream cheese, peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract and salt. Blend well to get a smooth and uniform mixture. Add egg and blend. Keep aside.
  4. To prepare brownie base, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.
  5. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar. Add yogurt and vanilla extract and mix well. Add egg and mix till well blended.
  6. Mix dry and liquid ingredients of brownie base till combined.
  7. Spread brownie batter in the pan. Level with a spoon.
  8. Pour peanut butter cream cheese layer on top of the brownie base and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Level the top.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The center should be firm to touch.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.
  11. Slice and serve.


In case if you want to make cream cheese at home, here is my recipe

Homemade Cream Cheese

Ingredients

  • 250 grams Paneer (cottage cheese)
  • ½ cup fresh thick curd

Instructions

  1. Dice cottage cheese into small pieces. Blend to a smooth paste. Add curd. Blend again till you get a creamy mixture.
  2. Line a strainer with a cheesecloth. Place it on a wide-mouthed bowl. Empty the mixture into the lined strainer.
  3. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together. Tie a knot. Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
  4. Discard the water collected in the bowl. Transfer cream cheese to a container and use.

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