Kesar Badam Halwa


Nothing can go wrong when the goodness of sugar, ghee, kesar and badam come together! My fondest memory of badam halwa is at MTR restaurant in Bangalore where we would crave for this dessert which would come in delicately wrapped parchment paper with the aroma of  warm fresh ghee wafting through the air. If you have a spouse with a sweet tooth like me and are looking to make some easy dessert with a long shelf life, this one is perfect!! The only downside to this recipe is that you have to remember to soak the almonds overnight. But the effort is worth it as you can store small batches in the freezer, thaw and heat when needed and it still tastes as good as fresh!!

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Ingredients: Serves about 8

2 cups raw almonds

2 cups of hot water to soak the almonds

1.5 cups sugar

3/4 cup ghee

10-15 filaments of saffron

10 cardamoms powdered

1 cup whole milk

Method: Soak the almonds in boiling water overnight. Peel the skin of the almonds  after about 12 hrs. Use ½ cup warm whole milk and soak the saffron overnight as well. Then using whole milk, grind the soaked-peeled almonds and saffron into a smooth paste.

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In a heavy bottomed pan, add1/2 cup of ghee and slowly stir in the kesar- badam (almond- saffron) paste. Then add the sugar. At first the paste will appear liquidy in consistency. As the milk content begins to evaporate, the paste will begin to solidify.  Add the remaining ghee and stir well. Keep stirring till the paste starts to separate from the bottom of the pan.  This is the part that can be tricky, for there is a thin dividing line between when the badam is cooked vs when it is overcooked! When the paste starts to separate from the pan, add the finely powdered cardamom and give it one final stir. Let it cool. Serve warm.

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PS: If your badam halwa gets over done, do not worry. Keep stirring for one more minute and then pat it out flat in a ghee greased tray to make delicious badam burfee!!

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Pineapple Gojju


Pineapple gojju brings memories of “baaLe yele oota” or food served on a banana leaf. It is features very commonly on the menu during weddings or other functions in a typical kannada household. I bought a big pineapple and didnt know how to finish it. I had been wanting to try it for quite sometime now and this was a perfect opportunity. Dont skimp on the coconut while making this recipe, that is what gives it that yummy taste!

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Ingredients : Serves 4

Pineapple : half, cut into chunks

Dried coconut (koppari) : 1/4 cup

Red Chillies : 4-5

Curry leaves : 1 sprig

Poppy seeds/ gasagase : 1 tablespoon

Urad dal : 3 tablespoons

Hing : 1 pinch

Turmeric : 1 pinch

Oil : 3 table spoons

Mustard seeds : 1 teaspoon

Heat a few drops of oil in a saute pan and add the urad dal, chillies, hing, coconut and poppy seeds. Roast them till the urad dal turns golden brown. Grind all the mixture with water into a smooth paste .

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Heat the oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the pineapple pieces and add about 1/2 cup of hot water. Let the pineapple chunks cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the paste and let this simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and taste it. Depending on the sweetness/tartness of the pineapple add a few spoons of jaggery powder and tamarind pulp to adjust the taste.

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Enjoy with steaming hot rice and some peanut oil!

Ragi Upma


Ragi or finger millet used to be considered the poor man’s grain back in the day. Off late grains like finger millet, foxtail millet and quinoa are gaining more popularity because of their low glycemic index and fiber content. These foods are slow to digest and don’t spike blood sugars thereby keeping you full for longer!
I try and substitute these for rice and use more of these grains in our daily diet.

Ragi upma is an unusual dish and has been a long favorite of mine! This is a very hearty breakfast and easy to whip up especially on a lazy Sunday morning.

Ingredients : Serves 2

Ragi flour : 2 cups

Rasam powder : 1 tablespoon

Jaggery : 1 heaping tablespoon

Tamarind paste 1 tablespoon

Water : 1 and half cups

Curry leaves 1 sprig

Peanuts 1 tablespoon

Oil 3-4 tablespoons

Mustard 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dal 1 teaspoon

Chana dal 1 teaspoon

Turmeric 1/2 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Grated coconut 1-2 tablespoons

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Mix together ragi flour, rasam powder, jaggery, tamarind pulp, salt with water and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Next add the peanuts and fry for a minute until they begin to brown. Then add the urad dal and chana dal and fry till golden brown. Add the turmeric and curry leaves. Add the ragi mixture and still continuously on low flame. Cover with a lid and let this cook for 10-15 mins until the ragi begins to disintegrate and for small clumps. Serve hot with yogurt on the side.

Butternut squash soup – The Indian way!


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Butternut squash soup – The Indian way!

 What’s not to love about soup right? Whether you are a soup person like me or on a self inflicted soup diet for weight loss, soup happens to be the perfect comforting food, especially this time of the year.  When I saw some butternut squash getting old in my pantry, I decided to try out this soup recipe. This is inspired by a recipe that I had read on a friend’s blogspot and can be made using many variations.

Here’s my version.

 Ingredients: Serves 6-8

 Butternut squash – Diced into small cubes

 Vegetable broth – 1 quart

 Spices – 2 -3 cloves, 1” cinnamon stick, 1-2 twigs nutmeg, 8-10 black pepper corns

 Onion – 1 diced

 Garlic – 2 cloves

 Red chillies – 5-6

 Salt to taste

 Fresh ground Pepper powder – 1 tsp

 Cilantro and slivered almonds/pine nuts for garnishing

 Olive oil – Preferably spray

 Method: Drizzle olive oil, salt, fresh ground pepper powder onto the cubed squash pieces. You can use a  multi-spice grinder that comes with sea salt, dried lemon, dried garlic and pepper instead. Grill in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Image

 

Chop a medium size onion into large pieces. In a shallow frying pan, sautee’ the onions and spices and red chillies till the onions turn translucent. Let it cool.

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Then puree the roasted butternut squash and onions in a blender in small batches adding in small quantities of vegetable broth instead of water. Then, bring the blended mixture to a simmer on the stove for about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and slivered almonds or pine nuts.

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