Monday, December 31, 2012

Chocolate Kaju Barfi

Another year is soon going to end, just few more hours left, and at this cross junction, with mixed bag of emotions, some good and some bad- well yes without emotions , human is a machine- what else. I can only wish and pray that may this New Year brings loads of happiness, peace and well being to all of you.
I happened to make these Chocolate Kaju Katli or Barfi during Christmas, and I was about to publish it last week itself, but felt otherwise. As I was quite shaken with whatever was happening around us in last couple of weeks.

Anyhow with this New Year – all I can wish and pray that our children should go on flying high, uninterrupted with wings of ambition and wishes. May God fulfill all their dreams….
My dear daughter like all other kids out there likes chocolate. So, I happened to tweak the traditional kaju katli recipe a little bit and incorporated chocolate flavor – Two layers of katlis- one plain kaju katli and the other one chocolate kaju katli were added to form a nice textured barfi.
Believe me, the amount of work that goes in stirring while making kaju katli, it all makes up for when you see the contented, smiling faces at the eating table.
While I am not specific of any measurements as the parameters of sweetness is different for everyone. This is how I made it; please adjust the amount according to your taste-buds. One thing a must for katli/barfi – is that we should make thick sugar syrup – multiple strands sugar syrup as we need to bind the grounded cashews well. Add in ghee as it enhances the flavor and leaves a nice aroma, moreover it will prevent the damp dough going dry. But all said and done we need to be quick as the dough becomes hard quickly as sugar gets crystallized when made into multiple strands.

Now to the recipe

Chocolate Cashew Barfi
Recipe requirements (measurements are approx)
Makes- small 20-22 barfi
  • 2-3 cups of grounded cashews
  • 2-3 tbs of premium chocolate powder
  • 1 or 1 and half cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • Few saffron strands
  • 2-3 tbs of ghee

  • In a heavy duty grinder – grind toasted cashews and make a smooth powder.
  • Divide this powder into two portions. With one portion mix in chocolate powder and reserve the other portion in a separate bowl.
  • Now to the making of sugar syrup.
  • Dissolve sugar in water and keep on boiling for about 10-15 mints. Add in saffron strands.
  • We will make thick sugar syrup for kaju barfi/katlis.So, when press in between tip of fingers multiple strands can be seen.
  • Now divide this sugar syrup into two portions – one for the plain kaju katli and other one for chocolate katli.
  • Mix in the grounded cashew and chocolate cashew powder with the sugar syrup and keep on stirring till it forms a semi dry mixture. Add in ghee also; take it off from the heat. Let it cool off a little bit and then knead gently with clean hands to make damp dough.
  • Now quickly roll both the dough into large rounds. Now lift the chocolate round and place it on the normal cashew round ones.

  • Press it gently and cut into diamond shapes with a sharp knife. Store in air tight containers. These barfi stays fresh for 4-5 days in normal room temperature.

Here are some of the recipes- Kind of recap for 2012.Although like every year I should have done a full detailed post with links to each recipes-I will leave it for some other day.

There are still many other recipes which haven't got mentioned here , but were equally delicious and relished by us.Hope to catch up some breathe after this.

See you all in a brand new year.....Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cheesecake Recipe - A Healthy way and Merry Christmas

As promised here I am with a baked goodies recipe, a cheesecake recipe for this Christmas season. I always try to tweak little bit traditional recipes to adjust our own taste-buds, if it involves cooking some high-calorie recipes. However in contrast, many puritans like my Ma abide by the rules of making any recipe, that may include cheesecake recipes as well,if she wish to make it someday.
Anyhow what should matter is the outcome of the recipe weather it was edible or not, and rest is well sorted out then.Actually this healthy version of traditional cheesecake recipe, got mentioned here as our dear daughter has asked me to make it again and when I assemble this cheesecake, she also wants to help me out.With schools closed for this holiday season, we need more these easy recipes to channelize their energy.

Chocolate lemon cheesecake, now who doesn’t like cheesecakes, everybody does. It’s the urge to have that delicious bite of cheesecake which makes me go round and round the desert aisle of super-markets. Many times I do pick them up and then again, put it back to the shelf reading the food label and the calories that comes with it. No, I am against crash –dieting and in fact dieting as such, a practice I am totally against of. I believe and have seen that the impact of crash-dieting is worse. Eat all, but in moderation, and in many servings or portions that is divided along the entire day. And which should have a healthy addition of some sweetness as well.
Actually when it comes to reading the food label, it has been my curiosity forever, what goes into the making of the food or the method it followed weather it’s baked or fried etc. So, as a practice I always read the food label, if I do happen to pick any ready-made desert or chocolates from supermarkets. So many times even if the green sign is there- indicating suitable for vegetarian, it does have pasteurized free-range egg/egg yolk/whites or related things. This I have understood that may be this is due to the cultural ideology differences, as we don’t count egg to be vegetarian, but here people don’t consider egg to be non-vegetarian. That’s another topic; we will have a discussion some other day, today we will try to make a healthy alternative to high-calorie cheesecake recipe and that too eggless.
Coming to various cheesecakes, there are chocolate cheesecakes, then strawberry cheesecake and what not, with so many choices, one tends to get confused. But when it comes to making that famous cheesecake in comfort of my home, I always tweak in the content for the filling and the base. After all home-cooking is what one should prefer to eat, and ones own preference for ingredients.

Traditional cheesecakes as we all know are high calorie deserts. As its Christmas season, everybody likes having baked goodies as sweet treats and I am not an exception. Although I have tried to cut back some calories in traditional cheesecake recipe. This recipe is adapted version that I happened to read many eons ago in a cookbook by American Heart association. If you can have a look, then perhaps you may find some copies in Amazon. That book had many other tweaked recipes with healthy alternatives for many high-calorie recipes.Over a period of time, I have tweaked , reduced the content for filling and the base as well.
I made it ,but with what-ever was available in my pantry. More it ended like a chocolate cheesecake recipe as I had put generous amount of chocolate shavings as topping.
Few months back made honey lemon cheesecake as well with the same recipe but instead of chocolate as topping, I happened to drizzle, honey generously over the cheesecake and decorated with lemon julienne  Here is a slice of that cheesecake.Will post the detailed recipe some -other day-

Now coming to the recipe for the day,when I checked my pantry, I had whole-meal bread, quick Scottish oats and some tea-time Marie biscuits which formed the base of this cheesecake, a great healthy alternative to shortbread or butter biscuits.
Then when it came to the filling, I had about ¾ tubs of 300 g of low-fat soft cheese from Kraft. And had some plain set yogurt. Again I reduced the soft cheese content, and mixed in with some yogurt with icing sugar which formed the filling, and rest of the sweetness came from honey not from sugar.
When the cheesecake was setting in the refrigerator, I had no idea how it was going to taste as with so many healthy alternatives, it was heading for a totally new recipe, don’t even know if I can call this cheesecake recipe anymore.
Here is how I did make it-the famous cheesecake.
To the recipe now

Cheesecake Recipe 
Recipe requirements(measurements are approx) 

  • 200 gms of low fat soft cheese 
  • 2-4 tbs of honey
  • 300 gms of yogurt
  • 3 tbs of icing sugar
  • 50 g fresh whole meal bread crumbs or 2 whole meal bread well toasted
  • 25 g of rolled oats or quick oats or about 1 cup of  Oats Granola Cereal)
  • 6-7 marie tea-time biscuits
  • 25 g of butter
  • 25 g of almonds or 6-7 almonds
  • lemon juice from a half lemon
  • chocolate squares for decorations 


  • For the base
  • Toast fresh whole meal bread very well and then grind them in mixer to get fresh whole meal bread crumbs.
  • Now make a uniform crumble mixture in grinder/mixer with well toasted whole meal bread , quick oats- (for the better option use some cereal oats as they are well toasted.There is this home-made cereal recipe which I had used in place of quick oats this time- here), Marie tea time biscuits and almonds.
  • TIP- Sometimes I do add in flax seed crushed or many times in powdered form.
  • Rub butter evenly over this mixture- it will become a crumbly mixture now- more like a damp dough.Or melt butter and mix in butter when grinding the base mixture in mixer/grinder.
  • Prepare a small sandwich tin , spray some cooking oil, now put this crumble mixture over it.With the help of your clean hands, pat and press them evenly all over , so that the crumble mixture becomes a firm base.
  • Preheat an oven at 175 deg C.Bake this base for the cheesecake, for about 15-20 mints or till the entire base is set properly. Since we want to make low-calorie desert, whole meal bread, oats and digestive biscuits are great alternative to traditional cheesecake base.Take out after 15 mints, let it cool off completely.
  • Chill and refrigerate for about 4-5 hrs or the base is set hard.
  • For the filling
  • After many attempts, I do use low-fat soft cheese by Kraft with plain yogurt mixed in. Many times Mascarpone cheese is used for the filling as this gives the richness to the cheesecakes.
  • Make a smooth paste- of low-fat cheese, yogurt, and lemon juice. Add in honey to adjust the sweetness and  icing sugar if you wish to add in. Tip- yogurt further reduces the calorie content of low-fat soft cheese, but then if you are more keen in putting up the entire tub of low-fat cheese, then don’t hesitate as cheesecake without cheese is something unimaginable.
  • Scoop the filling out over the baked base and spread it evenly. Then chill and refrigerate overnight.
  • Other day drizzle some honey and decorate with lemon julienne or with generous amount of chocolate shavings..

This recipe is a low-calorie take on traditional lemon cheesecake. If you want to make little bit rich cheesecake then stick to full fat soft cheese or Mascarpone cheese  for the filling and high quality shortbread /butter biscuits for the base.
And for more top tiers , double the measurements for the filling ingredients.

Leaving you with some pictures of festive season. 

First a corner of our house with bokeh effect, coming from the lights of Christmas tree. 

And another one, glowing in dark, making us all believe  and cherish....

And a Christmas reef our dear daughter made this year ...

Then some decorations on Christmas tree.Last year we made this Christmas cake- Here

Although past couple of weeks, there have been many shocking incidents happening in the world, which have shaken my faith in humanity, but still I want to believe in, as if trying to cling on to a thin thread. So, when we will celebrate Christmas and new year this time, lets not forget those families who have lost their tender , loved ones and the innocent ones whose life changed in just, one horrific night, possibly with deep permanent emotional scars lingering throughout their life. It won’t be easy for them to be able to live life, as they would have normally used to do earlier.

But despite all this, I still want to believe, believe in humanity. As Christmas and all festive celebrations-Eid, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Holi, Deepawali and Durga Puja, are all about believing and faith in humanity is part of that belief!

I believe, that there is one supreme power up there, who is guiding and watching all of us and taking care of us in every moment of our life.Amen!!

Wish you all a very happy Christmas, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Soya Nugget Red Bell Pepper Raisin pulao with Soya Methi Sweet Corn Sabzi/curry

Past couple of days, are cold here, well what can you expect in winter other than cold days, perhaps some snow, we are not that privileged group of people yet, while it snowed in many parts of London and in UK, we are still waiting.
This soya nugget pulao cooked with Red Bell pepper, Sweet corn, raisin and a side-dish of soya nuggets methi sweet corn sabzi can be enjoyed anticipating some snow and if you are tired of Christmas shopping and want to deviate doing something else, then perhaps you can give it a try someday. This Pulao is very delicately flavored, a mild one-in fact the spices that goes in it, are obviously the daily spices that you all add in making everyday cooking. Mix and Match the vegetables to develop new recipe and can include sausages in place of soya nuggets to make non-veggie pulao as well. Now I would really  like to know how it goes if you add sausages or in fact meatballs in pulao. Couple of months back I did made a pulao with left-over chicken kabab or roast chicken pieces -Here and the outcome was very surprising as it all blended so well.Oh! But this post is a vegetarian affair and let it remain that way; let’s not complicate the topic here.
Actually for making pulao, I do feel there are no set rules, although stove –top method works best, but then sometimes I do bake it in oven, all wrapped with aluminum foil. 

This recipe is about stove-top method of making pulao. Over these years I have realized that many times the rice that goes into making pulao or even biryani do make some difference. Many times the temperature the rice is cooked, how much water is added and the duration of cooking. But please don’t ask me to be specific, as I do things mostly by my instinct here in my kitchen. So I really don’t like to get into technical details much, well I am not a technical person either.
If you need any more clarifications, do ask in comment section, I will try to answer as per my skill level and to be honest I am not an expert, just learning, all these and many more other things day by day. Well that includes, knowing about Snow-Leopard and Clouded Leopard, and that Romans also ruled in many parts of Britain many centuries ago, and that Cleopatra liked wearing red lipstick which were extracted from bugs and red ants!!, this courtesy my daughter.
In a nutshell the recipe has been written for you with a picture to validate that it has been made in my kitchen.

Now to the recipe part

                        (Soya nugget bell pepper raisin pulao/ rice pilaf and soya methi sweet corn rasa sabzi/curry)

Soya Nugget Methi/fenugreek Sweet Corn sabzi/curry
Recipe requirements(serves- 3-4 )
  • About a large cup of cooked soya nuggets
  •  1 bunch methi/fresh fenugreek leaves
  • 1-2 cups of sweet corn 
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 2-3 large garlic
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger
  • ½ tomato
  • Seasonings and phoron/tempering/
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 tej patta or bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 2 tsp of coriander powder
  • ¾ tsp of turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder
  • ¼ tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 4-5 heaped tbs of cooking oil
  • 2-3 tbs of cream
  • 4-5 heaped tbs of cooking oil

  • Wash methi/fenugreek bunch and separate leaves from shoots. Blanch them for couple of mints, till they shrink and release water.
  • Cook soya nuggets according to package directions. Or you may put soya nuggets in microwave safe bowl with enough water, and microwave it for 2 mints. Leave aside for 10-15 mints they will turn out soft.
  • Now chop onions, garlic and grate ginger. Chop tomato as well.
  • If you are using frozen sweet corn, then put them with ample water and microwave it at high for 2-3 mints or till they turn out soft.
  • Now to the making of soya nuggets methi sweet corn curry
  • Heat up a saucepan/Kadai, add in cooking oil, add in cumin seeds, tej patta.Let it crackle a little bit after 1 mint.Add in finely chopped onions/ginger/garlic. Fry them for 3-4 mints at med-high or till they turn nice brown.
  • Now add in dry masala- turmeric, red pepper, coriander, salt, sugar, and cinnamon and cardamom powder. Add in about quarter cup of water. Add in chopped tomato. Keep on stir/fry for about 6-8 mints or till the oil starts to come by sides.
  • Now add in cooked soya nuggets, sweet corn and blanched methi leaves. Add the water which comes after blanching methi to the above. Taste and adjust everything.
  • Keep the lid on, cover and let it simmer at medium flame for about 10-15 mints and if required then add in 1/2 cup of warm water if the curry tends to become dry, although tomato will be adding it's share to the gravy as well.
  • Add cream at the end and mix well. Sometimes I also add 1 tsp of ghee at the end of making this sabzi/curry. Reserve little bit of cream to decorate later on.

Soya nuggets Red Bell Pepper and Raisin Pulao/Pilaf
Recipe requirements(serves 3-4)
  • 1 large cup of basmati rice/jasmine rice/sona masoori/gobindo bhog
  • 1 large cup of cooked soya nuggets
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 cup of cooked sweet corn
  • 1 cup of raisin
  • ½ cup of yogurt
  • Seasoning
  • ½ tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder
  • 2-3 tej patta
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • Few strands of mace
  • 3-4 tbs of cooking oil

  • Wash the rice and soak it for 10-15 mints while you chop red bell pepper and cook soya nuggets and sweet corn in microwave.
  • Heat up a saucepan; add in tej patta, cloves, cardamom and mace.Fry about 2 mints.
  • Then add in chopped red bell pepper, soya nuggets, raisins and sweet corn. Keep on stir/fry them for 3-4 mints.
  • Now add in rice and add in dry ingredients-red pepper powder, cardamom powder, salt and sugar.
  • Now add in yogurt. Mix well - do not stir vigoursly otherwise the rice grains will tend to break.
  • Add in 2 cups of water to the above. Or check this pulao post for detailed method of baking in oven , but the recipe is with yakhni and is a Chicken Yakhni Pulao - Here.
  • Cover it and let it cook at medium flame. When the water is absorbed; shift the saucepan covered and let it cool on dining table.Squeeze in 1/2 tsp of lemon juice and add in a dab of butter at the end.Cover` it.

Have and serve soya nuggets pulao with soya methi.sweet corn sabzi/curry.

Happy Cooking Friends and have lovely weekdays........

Monday, December 3, 2012

Phulkopir Data and Runner Beans Charchari

December starts with a bang and before we will realize a new year will usher in. All shops, shopping malls are well decorated and people are getting busy Christmas shopping, even gifting each other. Some even decorating their home with Christmas tree. We still haven’t decided when we will be putting up our Christmas tree compared to that, many already are giving finishing touch to their home and tree decorations. I  do like the festive season and the spirit with which it brings, but it always makes me little afraid of shopping  particularly in shopping malls , over crowded and long queue to toilets, makes it even more cranky expedition.

This weekend we were out in Oxford streets (actually most of the weekend we just love to hang out there for some time) and what rush and maddening crowd there. That sums up my assumption of Christmas shopping. And at night time when we were walking around in the street ,it all started to lit up with glowing, glittering lights and Christmas characters, that reminded us of Durga Puja Pandal decorations and huge portraits of light glowing God and Goddess.But next week, to avoid this maddening rush we would stay in home, have a cup of hot tea in comfy of our home and then probably watch a movie.
And then on Sunday will try to cook a full course Bengali meal as always.This Bengali charchari recipe was long due, just that it slipped away from my mind. I really doubt that it will suit the festive spirit as per cooking is concerned, as you all will be expecting cakes, biscuits, tarts, muffin recipes from me, little deviating from the festive spirit here..But whatever you cook, and where ever you eat that, it’s the people and their good intention, pleasant interaction, makes it worthy of memories.

I will try to do baking recipes when it will be Christmas Eve, for the time being let’s feed our souls and body with some vegetables and this Charchari recipe is one such great way of incorporating nutritional value to our food. I had some tender cauliflower stalks very fresh and green, just couldn’t throw in bin this time, and then freshest of runner beans, and a full bag of carrots, my folks are not much eager to eat gajar ka halva, so that needed to be used also and with all those fresh vegetables - a Charchari recipe was made in jiffy.

Now to the recipe

Phulkopir danta(cauliflower stalks) and Runner beans'er Niramish Charchari
Recipe requirements(serves-3-4)
  • Tender stalks of cauliflower/phulkopir danta
  • 1 Carrot
  • 3-4 Runner beans
  • Small red radish about 1-2 cups chopped or half large muli/white radish
  • 1 medium size potato
  • Seasoning and for phoron
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 2 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of panch phoron
  • 2 tej patta
  • 2 dry red pepper
  • 3-4 tbs of mustard oil
  • ¾ tsp of salt
  • Two pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp of ghee

  • Clean, wash and chop all vegetables in equal size of about 1 to 2 inch in length.
  • Now heat up a saucepan/kadai.Add in mustard oil, now temper/phoron it with panch phoron, tej patta and red dry pepper.
  • When the panch phoron starts spluttering, add in all the chopped vegetables- cauliflower stalks, carrots, radish, potato.Keep on stir/fry for 4-5 mints at medium high flame.
  • Now add in all the seasonings- turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder, salt and sugar.Coat the seasonings well all over the fried vegetables.
  • Add in about half a cup of water and cover the saucepan with lid. Let it cook for 7-10 mints at medium flame or till the potatoes are cooked well and you can mix and mash the vegetables easily.
  • At the end add in ghee. Enjoy it with warm cooked rice or Roti/ruti/phulka.
  • Many other vegetables like-Snow peas, Baby corn, Brinjal, Butter-nut squash, can also be added to this Charchari recipe.
  • Add in fried Fish head and fish bones to make it Amish Charchari.

Happy Cooking a have lovely week days ahead...