Monday, 26 November 2012

Figs and Date Burfi (Sugar free and Vegan)




This Diwali, besides Peanut Burfi,   I also made Figs and dates Burfi which does not have added sugar. I wanted to make this burfi at home since long and Diwali gave me a perfect reason to do so. Home made sweets, traditional puja, hand painted diyas, no crackers, simple dinner with family and Apricot Pudding made by my dad as dessert made a perfect Diwali this year.


I searched the net for Figs and Dates burfi and came across a lot of sites and blogs with the recipe. I followed Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe.


Figs and Date Burfi (Sugar-free)

Ingredients


  • Dried Figs 1 ½ cups
  • Dates 1 ½   cup
  • Mixed Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios, and Cashew nuts) 1 ½ cups
  • Coconut oil  {or, Pure Ghee (clarified butter) for a non vegan version} 3 tablespoons

Instructions


  1. Wash figs and soak them in hot water for about five minutes.
  2. Discard water and put them in a grinder and puree them. 
  3. Wash dates and remove the seeds. Chop them fine. Soak them in hot water (1/2 cup) for fifteen minutes and puree the dates. 
  4. Chop the nuts. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and add pureed figs and dates. Cook for about fifteen minutes. Stir continuously while cooking and cook till the mixtures thickens. Add chopped nuts and cook till the mixtures becomes heavy and leaves the sides of the pan and starts gathering as a ball
  5. Pour in a greased plate and spread evenly. Leave it to cool. When cold, cut square slices and store in an airtight container.




My notes: In the original recipe, the quantity of ghee is half a cup. I used three tablespoons coconut oil / ghee  only.












Thursday, 22 November 2012

EGGLESS WHOLE WHEAT PINEAPPLE CAKE

“Mom what surprise are we getting today?” asked my six year old daughter looking at me with her starry eyes. “Well”, said I, racing my mind to remember the occasion. It was not her birthday. In fact, none of our birthdays fall in the month of November. What could the occasion be? Before I could guess, she said, “It’s Children’s Day today!” “Oh Yes! I quickly said as if I remembered.” “So?” said she, “Well, I will bake a pineapple cake for you” Again racing my mind to remember if I had all the ingredients required to bake one. “And?” said she as if this was not enough. I spoke to my husband and since it was a day after Diwali and a holiday, we decided to take our kids out for a picnic to Kotabagh a scenic village near Kaladhungi.

We packed our lunch and had a lovely time there. Kids enjoyed the beautiful autumn weather, the brook, fields and the forest. On our way back, we saw a small girl and a boy sitting on the road on a tattered sack, selling radish pulled out from their fields.  We got talking and came to know that the girl was older than her brother. Her frail figure, torn clothes, dry skin and dusty hair indicated that they lived in abject poverty. And, the girl did not go to school.

Soon her mother joined us. On being asked why did the girl not go to school, she asked that how will it help if she attends school for five years. Since they didn’t have resources to continue further education. It is more important that she learns life skills and the work at home and in the fields that she has do to all her life. They can still try to manage the boy's studies. Well, being an educationist I was at a loss of words to convince her to educate her daughter. She sounded right and yet I was not wrong. My kids realized how lucky and blessed they were. Some people don’t even have access to the basic necessities of life. They learnt an important lesson-We should be thankful for all the good things in life that we take for granted.


Back home, I baked an Egg less Whole wheat Pineapple Cake. The basic Egg less cake recipe is by Nita Mehta.

Ingredients
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup Yogurt
¾ cup sugar (powdered)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon pineapple essence
½ cup finely chopped pineapple slices
½ cup olive oil or any other oil
Method
Mix powdered sugar and Yogurt and beat well. Now add baking powder and baking soda. Keep it for three minutes. The mixture will become frothy and will rise up. Add oil and essence and mix well. Now add sieved whole wheat flour in parts. Mix well each time and scrape the sides so that there are no lumps. Do not mix too much. The batter should be smooth. In the end, add pineapple pieces rolled in flour. Give a single stir. Pour the batter in a greased and lined 7 inch round cake tin. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes. Now reduce the temperature to 175 degrees C and bake for 25 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

When done, remove from the oven after 5 minutes.

 Invert on the cooling rack.

Slice when cold.

My notes: The cake tastes better after a day. It is soft and moist when had after a day.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

PEANUT BURFI

The festival of Diwali entails frenzied cleaning up of the house. Every cupboard cleaned and arranged, old clothes removed to be given away, unused things thrown away and the otherwise unattended nooks and corners cleaned and dusted and clutter removed. A sense of great peace descends in the clean surroundings and we feel happy and energetic. Cleaning is an important activity and an endless process both, outside and inside. We need to dust away our negativities from time to time, remove the cobwebs of wrong habits, fears, greed and lethargy. Until we clean the clutter and chaos inside us, we will not be able to think and act with a clear conscience. Spiritual growth takes place only when the conscience is clean.

As always, we seldom buy sweets from the market. This Diwali, I made peanut burfi. This is my mother’s recipe. Very easy to make and great in taste. It has a good shelf life too.



Basking in the Sun...................a snapshot of garden lizard.

Ingredients
1 cup shelled peanuts
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
Method
Roast the peanuts on a very low flame.
 Keep stirring while roasting. The peanuts should start crackling and turn brownish.

Turn off the gas. Let them get cold. Now remove the skins by rubbing between palms. Discard the skins.

Powder the nuts in the grinder. The powder can be coarse to fine but make sure that it does not turn into a paste.

 Measure one cup of the powder. Prepare syrup by mixing water and sugar and bringing it to a boil. Let it boil till syrup is of one string consistency. Turn off the gas. Mix powdered peanuts and syrup ensuring here there are no lumps. Spread on a greased plate evenly with the help of butter paper. Slice the burfi when it has set well and has turned cold. Store in an air tight container.

My Notes: The sugar syrup has to be of one string consistency otherwise the burfi does not set well. However, if the syrup consistency goes wrong and the burfi does not set well, put it back in the wok and cook till it starts leaving the edges and starts collecting in the center. If the syrup becomes too thick, you can add more water to get the right consistency.
Sending to  the food event "cooking with seeds" hosted by  Priya's versatile kitchen


Sending this recipe to Pallavi's "MY DIWALI BASKET"
and ....
 
If you liked this recipe and tried it, do let me know. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

SPICE CAKE

White washed houses, adorned with multicoloured (Chinese) lights, doorsteps and courtyards beautified with aipen (traditional Kumaoni motifs made with ocher and rice paste), marigold garlands and imprints of the feet of the Goddess lakshmi at the entrance – Yes there is festivity in the air!
Villagers from the hills come down to sell their produce – marigold, chrysanthemums, walnuts, first harvest of winter vegetables and fruits.
Villagers from plains too set up temporary stalls selling jaggery, hand made clay lamps and sugarcane. A visit to the market is a visual treat these days
Coming to today’s post, I had been mulling over making spice cake for a long time. With winters setting in, it is just the right time to make one and enjoy with a cup of hot tea with friends who come to wish Diwali……



A boy selling hand made clay lamps in the market.

Ingredients
2 ½ cups All purpose flour
2 eggs
½ cup (100 Gms) butter
1 ½ cups sugar (powdered)
1½ cups butter milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon dried ginger powder
½ teaspoon clove (powdered)
½ teaspoon nutmeg (powdered)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Method
Beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add vanilla essence. Beat the white of the eggs till stiff. Sieve together all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the spices. Add the yolks to butter sugar mixture mix well and add the whites of the eggs. Now add flour mixture adding a little buttermilk at a time. Mix well ensuring there are no lumps. Repeat  the same with the remaining flour.

Pour the batter in a greased and lined round cake tin about 8” in diameter and bake in a pre heated oven at 108 degrees C for 35 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the cake tin after five minutes and invert in the rack to cool.



Will be sending this recipe to the Bake Fest #13 organised by Anu's healthy kitchen.

Friday, 9 November 2012

EGGLESS HIMALAYAN WALNUTS BANANA BREAD

Winters are setting in. Warm clothes are out of the closet. Mornings begin with cups of steaming tea infused with ginger and cardamom.  It’s a welcome change of the seasons. Diwali is also round the corner. There is frenzy buying happening in the market. We also set out with our jute shopping bags having decided to buy “what we need” and not “what we want”.  In a corner of the vegetable market, a seemingly fatigued but cheerful old woman was sitting with a small heap of walnuts. She had come all the way from a village in the outskirts of Almora (Uttarakhand). She had got walnuts from her trees to sell in the market. After selling them, she would shop for diwali and catch the last bus that would drop her to Almora from where she would walk to her village. We were so overwhelmed by her persona that we bought the “Himalayan Walnuts” from her. These walnuts had really hard shells. It required a lot of effort and equipments to draw the nuts out of them.

But the hard work was rewarding. The nut  were very soft, milky and sweet. Since we had a bunch of ripe bananas at home, the best option was to make “Himalayan Walnut Banana bread”.


Ingredients
4 ripe bananas pureed
¾  cup whole wheat flour (atta)
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ cup(100 gms) butter
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
½ teaspoon salt
Method
Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add vanilla essence. Now add pureed bananas and mix well. Sieve together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Now add the sieved flour to the wet ingredients in parts. Mix well ensuring there are no lumps. Sprinkle flour on chopped walnuts and toss well so that walnuts are coated with flour. Add this to the batter and stir once. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9”x 5” loaf tin. Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for 1 hour or till the skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  




slice when cold.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

FINGER MILLET / RAAGI BREAD




A column in the newspaper “HAPPY BAKING” a few days ago caught my attention. It said, “The smell of freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries don’t just stimulate our appetites - they make us nicer people too. French psychologists said that shoppers are more likely to alert a passer-by who has dropped something if at the time they are passing near a bakery”, The daily express reported. “Enticing food odours bring out the altruism in the best of us”, the research team said. The report is published in The journal of Social Psychology.
Well, that is another very beautiful angle to baking. Baking bread has always been a joyous experience for me. It is therapeutic. The entire exercise of kneading the dough to shaping it into a loaf, watching it rise  and then baking it to a soft golden loaf which, while being baked suffuses the home with the heavenly  aroma is definitely exhilarating.


Fresh harvest of Finger millet- Raagi or Madua as locally known, has reached the market. Since a long time I was contemplating on baking a bread using Raagi flour. I went ahead with the basic bread recipe and incorporated Raagi flour in it. The bread came out very well. It was dense and crumbly as it had Raagi and whole wheat flour, but the taste was out of the world!



Finger Millet / Raagi Bread
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour (atta)
½ cup finger millet flour/raagi flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon flax seeds (optional)
Method
Whisk together first three ingredients in a large bowl. Add olive oil.
Add honey to warm water. Stir. Add yeast. Stir and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Add water with yeast and honey to flour mix. Knead for 6 to 7 minutes till soft and supple. Add more water if needed. Let dough rest for 1-2 minute and knead again for 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer dough in an oiled bowl. Turn around so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise till it doubles.
Grease one 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.
Remove dough from bowl to the counter dusted with flour.  
Punch dough and knead for 2 minutes. Shape it into a loaf. Transfer to the prepared pan.
Cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until it crests above the rim of the pan.
Brush the top with milk wash ( ¼ cup milk, 1 tablespoon butter,2 teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt. Boil together for 5 minutes on low heat) and sprinkle flax seeds.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 35 minutes. The loaf should turn beautiful brown from top and should sound hollow when tapped at the bottom.
Remove from the pan after 5 minutes. Slice when cold or slice next day.







Friday, 2 November 2012

COCONUT BISCUITS

While making coconut biscuits, my thoughts traveled to childhood days and I remembered how  as kids, we used to love the coconut cookies that were available at the general store, whose owner   also had a small bakery. Cookies, about ten to twelve, packed in a transparent wrapper had no label to show the ingredients or the date of manufacture and expiry. An assurance by the shop keeper that “they are fresh” was enough. Back home we would be happy to see them in mom’s shopping bag and wait impatiently for the tea time. Though we would get them rationed, but no amount was ever sufficient to satiate our greed. We would munch slowly savoring every bite. Such were the simple pleasures of childhood!
The coconut biscuits that I made a few days ago are crisp, chewy with the ever favourite taste and flavour of coconut. I used the basic recipe of whole wheat biscuits and added desiccated coconut to it.


A snap shot of chillies growing in our garden.....



Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup desiccated coconut
50 gms (1/2 stick) butter
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Method
Sieve together all purpose flour and baking powder. Cream  butter and sugar till fluffy. Add vanilla essence. Add desiccated coconut to sieved flour and baking powder and mix well. Add this to butter sugar mixture and mix with hands. Gradually add milk, mixing well. Knead a soft dough. Add more milk only if required. If the dough becomes too wet, the biscuits will lose shape while baking and will be hard. The dough should be pliable. Roll out small balls from the dough and press between palms to get biscuits of your desired size. You can also use a bottle cap or a cookie cutter. Grease a baking tray and bake in a pre heated oven at 175 degree C for 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.


My notes: I made these biscuits using less butter. They are not melt in the mouth. But definitely crisp and yummy.
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