A Chef’s Recipe:Beetroot Halwa

 

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Bangalore, a city in southern India most popularly know as the Pub City is also host to a plethora of South India restaurants and eateries. The cuisine offered  can range from authentic Karnataka cuisine to even delicacies from Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad.A recent trip turned out to be a quite a delightful one indeed with the hubs and me partaking in the ever famous Hyderabadi Biryani at Nagarjunas,the finger-licking good Dosa’s and Wada Sambar at MTR, going down the foodie trail at the ever so vibrant Fraizer Town and of course bar hopping in the evenings.We stayed at The Gateway Hotel which is located in the older part of Bangalore and is still as charming as ever. Since most afternoons and evenings were spent exploring the streets of the city,our breakfast most often would be a choice from what was offered at the hotel buffet. Now you are probably wondering why one would give such importance to a hotel buffet?

Well lets say his one was a quite an exceptional fare of a mix of Indian breakfast items and a reasonable selection to appeal to the International palette as well.On one such morning after having a small portion of the regular South India fare,I decided to indulge some Beetroot halwa that stood simmering on a burner at a central display of an assortment of desserts.Rather unusual to serve that for breakfast I thought! Just as well,it was the most delectable halwa I’ve ever sampled.Every morsel just a delicate hint of softened beetroot with hints of fresh Mawa and crunchy pistachios. I absolutely had to ask the hotel kitchen for this recipe.I went right ahead and let the wait staff know of my intentions and asked to speak with the Chef for the restaurant. Continue reading

Happy Holi- A riot of colors & flavours

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Holi– A colorful festival and a festival of colors indeed. A festival that marks the end of winter and ushers in Spring.

Happy Holi everyone!

Well it’s been ages since I played Holi. Perhaps the last time was when I was a teen.However we’ve  just been invited  to celebrate and play holi at a friend’s this year. Naturally I’m quite excited and hence was inspired to make something special as well.

Any celebration is not complete without a delectable “something sweet” I decided to go with a family favorite-“Gajar ka Halwa” or a Carrot pudding.

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The recipe calls for grated carrots, milk and homemade mawa ( recipe included) to be cooked together. The carrots used for a halwa should be preferably the red variety most often found in the winter months. You could however use the orange ones if the red are un available.

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This halwa could be served hot or cold. It is even more decadent when served with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream.

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Go ahead and indulge a little.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 medium carrots ( peeled and grated)
  • 3 tablespoons pure ghee
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8-10 Almonds ( blanched and slivered)
  • Handful of cashew nuts (chopped roughly)
  • Few raisins
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 cup mawa (crumbled)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the ghee in a heavy bottom pan.
  2. Add the grated carrots and sauté them for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Next add in the milk and cook this mixture till the carrots softens and the mixture is dry,
  4. Now add in the cardamom powder and the saffron.
  5. lastly stir in the crumbled mawa and the sugar.
  6. Cook the mixture further for about 5 minutes.
  7. Mix in the raisins and cashew nuts.
  8. Garnish with slivered almonds.
  9. Can be served hot or cold.

Mawa: Dried whole milk

Easy way to make up some mawa:

  • 200 grams milk powder ( full fat)
  • 40 ml Milk
  • Muslin cloth
  1. Knead the milk powder with a little bit of milk at a time.
  2. Keep doing this till a soft dough has been formed.
  3. Tie the ball into a muslin cloth
  4. Add water into a pressure cooker. Place a trivet in it.
  5. Keep the muslin cloth in a small bowl over the trivet.
  6. Shut the cooker without using the weight and steam the dough for about 15-20 minutes.
  7. The mawa is now ready.

Sweet Filo Parcels-A Twist to the Traditional Modak

I have fond recollections of my childhood spent with my grandmother helping her prepare  ModakA sweet dumpling either steamed or fried and filled with freshly  grated Coconut & Jaggery. This is made as an offering to Lord Ganesh while celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi.

Ganesh Chathurthi– Is  a festival celebrated to mark the Birth of Lord Ganesh. In India this joyous occasion usually falls in the month of August or September. Fondly called as Ganapathi  or Ganapathi  Bappa,the elephant headed God is the epitome of Prosperity, Wisdom and Good luck.

The celebrations last 10 days and with great devotion and fervor…And if you grew up in Mumbai like I did probably an emotional one too. As I write this post I can well imagine the preparations back home. Right from bringing home the Ganesh Idol, decorating him with flowers ,brightly lit lamps and fragrant incense sticks…an assortment of sweets made as offerings….And the quite hum of Ganesh chanting’s  in the background…

….To the final day that marks the end of this festival when the idols are immersed into water finally bidding adieu to Ganapati…un-till his return the following year.

It’s been awhile since I tried my hand at making Modak. Traditionally they would be steamed with an outer casing made from  rice flour .However, I wanted something quite different. I recently went across to the Burjuman that was playing host to “Treat”-a week long world food festival with chef demos and  master classes .The last demo I went to turned out be an interesting one with Chef Aditi from The International Center for Culinary Arts giving us a demo of Spinach & Ricotta parcels in a filo pastry.

And that’s exactly what I wanted to do…traditional Modak filling in a not so traditional filo pastry. They turned out just great and I just had to share this wonderful recipe with you.

Modak’s made from Crisp filo pastry for the outer casing.

And a mixture of Coconut,Jaggery,Pistachios and raisins as a filling….

INGREDIENTS:

  • Frozen Filo pastry
  • 2 cups grated fresh coconut
  • 11/2 cups grated jaggery
  • 1 teaspoon green cardamom powder
  • Few strands of saffron
  • ½ cup un salted pistachios( coarsely crushed)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ tablespoon ghee

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring out the Filo pastry just before use and let it thaw a little bit.
  2. Roll it out and cut squares of about
  3. Brush each square with a little bit of oil.
  4. Pre heat the oven to 180 C.
  5. Heat the ghee in a pan and add the grated jaggery and let it melt.
  6. Next add in the grated coconut , saffron, powdered cardamom.
  7. Keep stirring till all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  8. Lastly add the crushed pistachios and raisins.
  9. Turn off the heat and let this mixture cool.
  10. Lay the filo pastry square on a flat work surface. Brush with a little oil.
  11. Next lay another square filo pastry sheet on top and again brush with a little oil.
  12. Now take a teaspoon of the mixture and add it in the middle of the filo sheets.
  13. Gather the corners of the pastry sheets and press together.
  14. Twist at the top to form a small filo parcel.
  15. Lay the parcels on a baking tray lined with wax paper.
  16. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the parcels are light brown.