Gajar Ka Meetha

Come winter, and my taste buds keep craving for a meetha/Indian dessert. Though not a big meetha loving person, I tend to enjoy subtly sweetened home made Indian desserts. The last fall, I had tried my hands on pumpkin meetha which had turned out fabulous, this year the classic gajar ka meetha was foreordained. I happened to spot some beautiful carrots at the regular food mart at a very reasobale rate, and who could resist this nutrient laden root vegetable.

Farm Fresh Carrots

This winter dessert of reduced carrots and milk never ceases to appeal both me and my hubby. He even enjoys this meetha warmed along with hot parathas in the breakfasts. I restrict to eating it a little only after dinner.

Gajar ka Meetha can be enjoyed hot or cold, and can even be reheated. This meetha is generally prepared from the red carrots that are available in India throughout winters. For this preparation, use a food processor thats effortlessly grates the carrots in a jiffy.

I do not like my meetha saturated with either sugar or ghee, and I also hate a mushy disintegrated gajar ka halwa. So feel free to alter the amounts of sugar and cook the meetha mushy if you desire.

Gajar Ka Meetha – Carrot Sweetmeat

Ingredients:

Red Carrots (preferably) or any Sweet Carrots/Gajar – 1 kg, washed, scraped and finely grated (grate them as fine as possible, as long), cores discarded (I often use baby carrots which are quite sweet)
Ghee – 2 or 3 tbsp
Khoa – 1/2 cup, finely grated (or) Milk powder – 1/2 cup
Milk – 1/2 cup
Sugar – around 1 cup or less (according to taste)
Mixed Dry Fruits and Nuts – chopped walnuts, chironji, pinenuts, cashewnuts, raisins, slivered almonds and pistachios, etc – 1/4 cup, lightly toasted or shallow fried in oil or ghee
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)

Gajar Ka Meetha – Carrot Sweetmeat

Method:

1. In a large non-stick heavy bottomed saucepan (or a large iron kadai is best) at medium high heat add the grated carrots and dry roast them while stirring every 2-3 minutes for the first 8-10 minutes, then every minute for the next 15-20 minutes. Add ghee and continue roasting it for a few more minutes. This is the most important step to develop a deep roasted flavor in the carrots. Do not burn them and stir very gently, do not mash up the carrots while stirring. During this time a wonderful fragrance of roasting carrots will fill your kitchen.
2. Once the carrots are nicely roasted, lower the heat to medium and pour in the milk and khoa and let cook until the milk is absorbed by the carrots. Add the dry fruits and nuts and cardamom powder. Add the sugar little by little and keep tasting until you get the desired sweetness and the meetha thickens a bit. Mix well. And cook for a little longer while stirring very gently every once in a while until the meetha is almost dry. Remove from heat. Serve it warm or chilled or along with vanilla ice cream. Store the meetha once completely cooled in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Suggested Serving: To impress your guests, serve the chilled meetha in mini pastry cases that are easily available in stores. You can name it as ‘Gajar Ka Meetha Tarts’.

Luv,
Mona

Chawal Ka Meetha

Time flew away very fast and here I am, back in Toronto. Its good to be back home. My trip to India was filled with laughter, fun and frolic. I got to spend some very memorable moments along with my loved ones alhamdulillah whom I have been missing and yearning to meet since long. It took me a little while to get back to my routine, unpack and settle down, hence the reason for my disappearance from the blogosphere.

Crisp cool air and vibrant fall colors welcomed me as I landed here in Toronto. Since then, I had been craving something warm, comforting and that which will make me feel close to my Ammi yet again. Just a few days before I was leaving Hyderabad, Ammi had served a delicious Chawal ka Meetha. Ghee, saffron strands, reduced milk and dry fruits and nuts are the key ingredients that impart a unique flavor to this rice dessert. Oh, I had thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you all will also like this dainty rice dessert.

Chawal Ka Meetha – Sweet Rice

Ingredients:

Fragrant long grain Basmati rice – 1 1/2 cups
Ghee – 1 or 2 tbsp
Milk – 3 cups
Sugar – 1 cup
Saffron strands – 1 tsp
Mixed Dry fruits and Nuts: Coconut – cut into small pieces, or desiccated coconut; Almonds – slivered or roughly chopped; Cashew nuts; Raisins; Pine nuts; Chironji nuts; Pistachios- slivered or roughly chopped : 1/4 cup

Method:

1. Wash the rice in 2-3 changes of water. Drain thoroughly. In a saucepan, add surplus water and cook rice until it is 3/4th done. Drain and spread on a tray to cool.
2. Boil milk in a saucepan for 15 minutes until it has reduced slightly. Remove from heat and keep aside.
3. In an another saucepan, add sugar and saffron and pour in 1/2 cup water. Let it cook until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat and keep aside.
4. In a wide saucepan, add ghee and fry the dry fruits and nuts until they are golden brown. Pour in the sugar syrup and reduced milk. Add the partially cooked rice and mix gently. Let it cook on high heat for a few minutes. Once the water has been reduced, simmer, cover with a lid and let it cook until the rice is done.

Enjoy the meetha warm or chilled, depends on your fancy. I love it when served at room temperature or just slightly warm.

Luv,
Mona

Sooji ka Halwa/Rawe ka Halwa

So finally the weather has turned beautiful and there is warmth in the air. People have started to enjoy the sun and I can smell wafts of BBQ’ed food from the neighborhood whenever I step outdoors. So, to celebrate spring, I had prepared Sooji ka halwa a few days back. This is one of the most easiest and delightful desserts that you can prepare in a jiffy and useful for those unexpected guests.

Semolina/Sooji/Rawa (fine variety)

Sooji aka Semolina is also called as Rawa (or rava), is a by-product of wheat, cooks very quickly and easily digestible. It is available in Indian grocery stores.

Sooji ka Halwa/Rawe ka Halwa ~ Semolina Dessert

To prepare this dessert, sooji is first roasted in ghee until a pleasant aroma exudes and it turns to a lovely sand color. Immediately the milk+sugar+saffron mixture is poured into it and allowed to cook for just a little while. If sooji is unavailable in the market, you can instead use farina, or cracked wheat, or cream of wheat whatever. There will be a slight difference in taste and will require a little more milk to cook, but it will be just as delicious.

Sooji ka Halwa/Rawe ka Halwa ~ Semolina Dessert
Makes – 4 (1/2 cup) servings

Ingredients:

Semolina/Sooji/Rawa (fine variety) – 1/2 cup
Milk – 1 1/2 cups
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Saffron – two pinches
Ghee – 3 tbsp
Chopped nuts (Pistachios, Almonds, Cashewnuts) – for garnish (you can lightly fry them in ghee/oil if you want)

Method:

1. In a medium sized saucepan, heat ghee on medium and add the sooji and roast it while stirring frequently until a lovely biscuit color is achieved. Remove from heat and keep aside.
2. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, boil milk along with sugar and saffron for 5 minutes. Add this to the roasted sooji rawa and mix well. Let it cook until most of the milk has been absorbed and the mixture starts to come together. Do not cook it much, as it condenses even more after cooling. Remove from heat and apply the varq (optional). Garnish with nuts and let cool. Some people like it warm and some people prefer it chilled.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo kay Samosay

Chai shops, bakeries, mithaiwala shops, cart vendors, chat bhandars along the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, all sell these magical pastries. Originated and traveled to India possibly from the Middleeast, Samosas are triangular pastries, a popular street food, usually stuffed with minced meat, or a potato mixture. They are the usual appetizers that make their presence at the Nizami Hyderabadi meals, and also enjoyed throughout India and also all over the world by everyone. Samosas are also very famous in Toronto and loved by people here.

Samosas – ready to be eaten

This classic Indian snack food appears in different avatars and types within the Hyderabad city, and also all over India with minor regional variations, some differing in the fillings used, others varying in shapes. For example Luqmi, a rectangular qimah-minced meat stuffed appetizer commonly eaten in Hyderabad, is a royal cousin of samosa. Other regional variants of samosas include the sambusak, samusak or shingara etc.

Today I had prepared some aloo samosas~potato stuffed pastries that are just as good as the Qimah Samosas – minced meat stuffed samosas. You can even bake them if you wish, bit I like to deep fry and prepare them the way they were supposed to be made. The crisp outer texture of samosa is what I love the most.

Aloo kay Samosay – Potato Stuffed Triangular Pastries

Ingredients:

Canola Oil to deep fry
For Filling:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely grated
Potatoes – 4, peeled and chopped
Carrot – peeled and chopped, 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 3/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Kasuri methi – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Frozen green peas – 1/2 cup (or) Dried green peas – 1/2 cup, soak them in surplus water overnight and pressure cook until soft the next day, drain and keep aside to use
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – 2 tbsb, finely chopped
For Covering:
All-purpose flour/Maida – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour/Durum flour – 1 cup
Carom seeds/Ajwain – 1 tsp
Nigella seeds/Kalonji – 1/2 tsp
Canola Oil or Ghee – 2 tbsp
Water
Salt to taste

Method:

1. In a saucepan, heat oil and as soon as it warms up add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and ginger and let them splutter. In a few seconds add the chopped potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover the vegetables and add red chilli powder, salt, cumin seed powder, kasuri methi and cover with a lid. As soon as the potatoes are done, uncover and add the frozen peas or cooked dried peas, garam masala, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Cook while stirring until the mixture is dry. Keep aside.

2. Now prepare the dough. Add maida, ajwain, kalonji and salt in a mixing bowl and mix. Add canola oil or ghee and mix well using fingers. Gradually add water and knead to form a smooth and pliable dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until elastic. Cover with a towel and keep aside for 30 minutes for the dough to rest. Later shape the dough into 8 balls and cover them with a towel.
3. One by one roll the balls into thin ovals. Using a pizza cutter or a knife cut each oval in the center into two halves, thus a total of 16 half-ovals will be produced. Cover the rest with a towel while filling others. Take a half-oval and brush half of each straight edge using your fingertip with water. Fold the second half of the straight edge over the fist half to form into a cone. Pinch close the seam. Hold the cone with the open end up and fill the cone with some of the filling. Cut off any excess dough and use it later. Brush one side of the open end with water. Pinch to seal the top edges enclosing the filling. Prepare all the samosas the same way and keep them covered under a towel.
4. Once all are ready, heat oil in a deep saucepan or kadai. To test if the oil is ready to be used, drop a pinch of dough into the hot oil, the dough should come up within a few seconds. Deep fry the samosas a few at a time until golden. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a strainer. Serve warm along with tamarind chutney or ketchup. Once cool, they can even be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheated in the oven.

To Bake the Samosa:
After step 4, place the samosas in a greased or non-stick baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated 220° C oven for 20 minutes or until light brown in color. Serve immediately

Note:
1.If you are finding it difficult to enlcose the filling in the dough this way, please head over to Qimah Samosa-Minced meat stuffed samosa where I have explained an easier way to assemble samosas.
2. If there is any left over dough and the filling has been used up, you can make namakpaare out them.
3. If there is any left over filling and the dough has been used up, use the filling to make vegetable curry puffs.

This month Sailaja is on a chaat spree and she is dishing out varieties of chaat items on her blog. Head over her blog to go though them all.

Luv,
Mona

Ande ka Meetha

At the very onset, I wish all my dear Indians, a very happy Republic Day! Mera Bharat Mahaan!

During my childhood, somedays when suddenly cravings for this meetha would tingle my dear Papa’s taste buds, he would roll up his sleeves and get ready to prepare his favorite dessert, Ande ka Meetha (also referred to as Ande ka Halwa or Ande ke Lauz). My Ammi preferred it, because the preperation of this delicious dessert involves a rigorous stirring throughout the process which required a manly strength.

Papa often used to prepare this meetha in the winter months so that we get to enjoy it the season long. Crumbly, sweet with a taste of eggs and milk solids roasted in ghee, this meetha will surely become of your favorites.

So, here’s the recipe for Ande ka Meetha. Today I prepared a small quantity of this meetha, according to the instructions my Papa gave me on phone this morning. Love you Papa, this is for you!

Ande ka Meetha – Crumbly Egg Squares Dessert

Ingredients:

Milk – 500 ml
Home-made Khoa – 200 gms (or equal quantity milk powder)
Eggs – 6, large
Granulated white sugar – 250 gms (1 cup) (you can add more if you want)
Green cardamom/Elaichi powder – 1/2 tsp
Home-made Ghee – 125 ml (1/2 cup)

Method:

1. In a saucepan, boil milk. Once boiling, add the khoa and let it dissolve. Keep stirring continuously and let the milk cook until the amount is reduced to 500 ml, and the khoa has completely dissolved and the milk has slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let it cool.
2. Once the cooked milk+khoa is cool, pour into a mixing bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and whisk using a fork until well blended.
3. In a thick bottomed non-stick saucepan at medium heat, add the above whisked mixture and cook it stirring continuously throughout. It takes about one hour of continuous stirring throughout the process at medium heat to cook this meetha. After every 10 minutes you will start observing the changes, first the mixture becomes thick, then it starts leaving sides and comes together, then it becomes dryer and dryer with a change in color, then it begins to get granular and browner as you keep roasting it.

Ande ka Meetha

Now is the time to remove the mixture into a thali or a flat platter/tray greased with a bit of ghee. Using the back of a spoon, immediately flatten it clean, and cut it into squares using a greased knife of pizza cutter. Garnish with varq and let it cool completely and store in air tight food storage boxes in the refrigerator. It keeps well for a long time.

Luv,
Mona