Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Makhane Ki Kheer - Puffed Lotus Seeds Pudding!

I recently discovered Makhane Ki Kheer via news - our beloved PM, Mr. Modi, loves it so much so that it was served to the Chinese President Xi Jinping during his recent visit to India! Well, if it's NaMo's choice - there has to be something special right? Indeed it is.

Makhane Ki Kheer is a very versatile, easy and nutritious dessert which is often served in Gujarat and Rajasthan during Navratras and Fasting Festivals. It's wholesome, very simple and takes no more than 15 minutes to make with bare minimum ingredients which are available in every pantry. Let's get started!!

A very simple, versatile and nutritious Makhane Ki Kheer!
Ingredients (for 5-6 servings):
  • 250 Grams Makhana (or Puffed Lotus Seeds)
  • 1 Liter Milk
  • 4 Table Spoons of Condensed Milk (Milkmaid / Mithai Mate etc) - we're using this instead of sugar. Go light on sugar.
  • 1 Cup of Freshly Grated Coconut (substitute w/ dried one if fresh isn't handy)
  • 1 Table Spoon of Ghee
  • 1/2 Tea Spoon of Cardamom Powder
  • Slivered Almonds & Raisins to Garnish
Can't believe it just took like 12-15 minutes to get this from thought to plate!
  • Add Ghee to the pan and once it's warm, roast the Makhanas in it for 3-4 minutes until gently crisp (don't brown them).
  • Take them off the flame, and set aside to cool. Put them in a ziploc bag and crush them coarsely with a rolling pin or pestle. Do not powder them.
  • Add milk to the pan and mix the makhanas in milk. Cook for few minutes until makhanas are well incorporated and kheer begins to gradually thicken up.
  • Add freshly grated coconut and stir well. Also add the condensed milk and the cardamom powder and keep stirring frequently.
  • Your kheer should be ready in about 10-12 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. 
  • Transfer in serving bowls, and garnish with slivered Almonds and Raisins. Serve lukewarm and enjoy this simple, comforting dessert!
Tip: You can also add a touch of coconut milk to make it more rich and creamy. A few drops of rosewater as a fragrant garnish is a good idea too!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cold Brewed Coffee!

I recently discovered Blue Tokai Roasters and am totally in love with their coffees. They custom roast in small batches and even put your name on packet; isn't it awesome? I highly recommend all their coffees - they're fresh, wholesome and really, really nice.

Serve it black, or serve it with milk - but be sure to ice it well!
I also bought Hario Mizudashi Cold-brew Pot from them. I read a lot about coffees and have been hankering to try the cold-brew ever since my better-half highly recommended it to me. Here it is, and let me tell you - Cold Brewed Coffee is AWESOME!! It's mellow, easy on tongue and I strongly feel it needs no sweetening as the slow, gradual brewing process brings out the best of coffee which is simply magic!

Hario equiments are high-quality, beautiful and definitely durable! Enjoy cold-brews in style!
 There's no recipe here, just right measurements and technique. I'll get right to it:

  1. Take 100 grams coffee for 700ml of water (ratio depends upon how strong or light you like your brew but I feel this works well).
  2. Put coffee grounds (fine grounds are must) in the filter, and some water in jug. Slowly pour 100ml (approx) water over grounds and let them get wet.
  3. After 1-2 minutes, slowly begin adding rest water and leave the jug in fridge, overnight, to brew for at least 12 hours.
  4. Once brewed, pour over ice and enjoy. Adding milk is optional but for some reason I like it when I gradually pour milk over this - just for the soothing effect!
  5. Enjoy chilled - Cheers!
Tip: If you don't have the cold brew pot, just put coffee grounds in a muslin and dip in water / jug for same time. Maybe a little messy, but will give you same output.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Affogato - A perfect, quick dessert!

Nothing says "pick-me-up" as Affogato does! It's an all time classic Italian dessert (beverage, really) and something even the laziest people can make in a jiffy. There's no recipe to it, only assembly. So here it is:

Scoop, Pour, Serve!
  1. Brew a nice cup of Espresso Coffee.
  2. Take a glass and scoop about 2-ish scoops of fine quality Vanilla Ice Cream.
  3. Pour warm coffee over the icecream (there's something about this that I love!).
  4. Garnish with grated chocolate or coffee beans.
  5. Serve. Sluurp!
Tip: Affogato goes really well with coffee ice-cream. Get innovative with toppings: Baileys and Bitters go well!

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Classic Espresso - Brewed using a Moka Pot!

    Coffee - my to-go beverage when I'm looking to perk up my mood or just feeling glad! I love coffee and more so lately. There's something about a good cup of coffee and there's more to it. You can screw up on making coffee in more ways than one. In simple terms, you need primarily good coffee (well roasted, fresh ground), good brewing style (espresso machine / filter coffee maker / moka pot / french press etc) and good water.
    I Love Coffee!
    I was recently introduced to Moka Pot by my better half (he is a terrific coffee aficionado!) and I was pleasantly delighted by the superb coffee it brews time over again! IF you love Coffee - GET A MOKA POT! It's a simple, 3-part tool which essentially helps you brew a stunning Espresso coffee at home, at 1/10th the cost of a high-end Espresso coffee machine! Let me show you how:

    Ingredients (for 2 cups of coffee):
    • Freshly ground coffee - 2 table spoons (to fill your moka pot)
    • Water -- that's it!

    • Fill the bottom of your Moka Pot with water, till the pressure valve level.
    • Add fresh ground coffee to the coffee holder - make sure to top off but don't apply pressure.
    • Screw the top firmly, ensure no scope for steam to pass.
    • Put your Moka Pot on stove (or gas, if you will) and watch the magic unfurl. What will happen is that the water will heat up, gradually rising to the coffee grounds and then due to the pressure within, will rise through the tube and eventually what you will have is fresh espresso in the Moka Pot dripping slowly - something about observing this process is magical!
    • Enjoy!

    This is how a Moka Pot works.

    Tip: From here you can pretty much make Cafe Latte, Cappuccino,  Mocha or even simple filter-coffee by just adding milk and sugar.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    The Perfect Summer's Sandwich

    We all look forward to Summers. The Mangoes (yum!), Pool Parties, Holidays, Ice Creams, Golas - everything becomes better with Sunshine it seems! On a warm Summer's day, it's often best to stay away from spicy curries and biryanis. A light meal is perfect for Summer and it helps our bodies to stay cool, calm and feel energetic. Here's what I love making and serving during Summer - The Perfect Summer's Sandwich. It's packed with goodness of Vegetables & Sprouts and makes up for a fantastic Lunch with a bowl of Soup or just a nice light Dinner.

    A perfect balance of textures, flavours and colours - this is a visual treat and culinary delight of a Sandwich!
    Ingredients (for 2 Sandwiches):
    • 4 slices of Bread - preferably multi-grain - lightly toasted.
    • 1 Avocado - scooped and sliced.
    • 1 Tomato - sliced.
    • 1 Cup of Alfalfa Sprouts (or any sprouts if you don't have them handy).
    • Few Black Olives - Sliced.
    • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced.
    • Few leaves of crisp Lettuce.
    • Olive oil & Mustard, Salt & Pepper to Taste.
    Everything Fresh, Everything Simple!
    • As is with any good sandwich, it's all about the assembly - so get creative and bring in nice visual and proportional balance of things.
    • Apply Olive oil to bread and smear it with minced garlic and mustard.
    • Begin layering Lettuce, Tomatoes, Olives and Avocado. Season with Salt and Pepper.
    • Top off with a nice, hearty heapful of Alfalfa sprouts and close the sandwich.
    • Slice in half and Serve!
    Tip: Try adding Hummus to this sandwich, it goes really well! A healthy sprinkling of Toasted Sesame Seeds will take this dish to next level!

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    Panchratna Uttappams - Savoury Pancakes w/ 5 Delicious Toppings!

    Let's admit it -- a burst of colours never hurt anyone! I like colours and love it when they blend into something appetizing too! Few weeks back, on a Sunday, I made these Uttappams on my brand new mini-pancake griddle and they turned out perfect. Talk about transforming a rather easy snack into something curiously gorgeous and delicious too! I highly recommend these for Breakfasts or Tea-time snacks. And you can whip them up for your little one's tiffins too (I don't recommend -- the other kids may pounce upon!)

    Simple. Quick. Appetizing. Delicious. What more can one ask for? :-)
    Ingredients (for 4 people or 40 mini-uttappams):
    • 1 Kg Uttappam Batter (easy to make from scratch, but needs overnight fermentation).
    • 1 Cup Grated Beetroot
    • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
    • 1 Cup of Diced Tomato, de-seeded
    • 1 Cup of Chopped Coriander
    • 1/2 of Cup of Milagai Pudi Powder (or Powder Chutney / Gunpowder)
    • Salt to taste
    • Ghee or Oil to cook
    Kindle the artist inside you. Paint your Uttappams with creative and colourful toppings! Yum!
    • It can't get any simple. Simply give your Uttappam batter a nice stir (and a salt check) and bring it to room temperature if cold.
    • Take a griddle, preferably a mini-pancake one, and lay about 3 Table Spoonfuls of Batter - roughly making a 3-4" Uttappam.
    • Top each of your Uttappams with Beetroot, Onion, Coriander, Tomato & Pudi.
    • Be careful not to go overboard with the topping - just try to cover the top, that's it - or you may have difficulty in flipping over.
    • Add some Ghee (or oil) around edges and cook till the bottom is nice golden brown. 
    • Flip it. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes until the toppings are cooked and mild caramalization occurs.
    • Serve hot with coconut chutney or ketchup! Enjoy!
    Tip: Try going a little creative with toppings. Try Schezwan sauce, Cheese, 3 colours of Capsicum, Minced Broccoli, Grated Coconut, Ginger Chilly Paste, Black Pepper Powder etc! Your platter is only limited by your imagination!