Panjeri

Life has ever so been wonderful and oh so busy since babyjaan happened. Days seem to be flowing without me even noticing them. But my little chickadee has given me a reason to look forward to each new day and my life has a now a meaning alhamdulillah. Motherhood has indeed been a blessing alhamdulillah. I am happy to resume blogging, I missed you all.

I havent been cooking much lately, other than quick one dish meals or semi home made dinners. A baby changes your routines in ways you might not have even imagined. MIL was handling most of the cooking during my postpatrum days. Now that both my MIL and FIL have left, I am back to cooking meals daily. My mom had been after me to prepare and eat Panjeri as soon as she was born. Panjeri is made of rich and beneficial food products such as dry fruits and nuts and is meant for post partum and lactating women, traditionally prepared in our family and eaten by new mothers. Panjeri is also given to young girls.

The quantities of the amount of nuts and dry fruits used in the recipe can be altered according to your desires. I love almonds, so I have used more of them here. I am not sure what Kangi ke beenj are referred to in english language.

Panjeri

Ingredients:

Edible Gum – 100 gms
Cashewnuts – 150 gms
Pinenuts – 100 gms
Walnuts – 100 gms
Pistachios – 100 gms
Almonds – 350 gms
Raisins – 100 gms
Kangi ke beenj – 30 gms
Chironji – 20
Phool Makhana/Lotus Seeds – 40 gms
Granulated Sugar – 100 gms (or) Misri [both according to taste, add more if you want it sweeter]
Ghee – to fry

Method:

Shallow each ingredient one by one except misri in 1 -2 tbsp ghee in a frying pan or a cast iron skillet for 2-5 minutes and then transfer to a platter. Edible gum once fried changes from a translucent color to white color like popcorn. After all have been shallow fried, let them cool to room temperature. Later transfer them all to a food processor. Add misri and process until the whole thing is granular, need not be too fine. Transfer to a storage container or a canister and store in the refrigerator. Post partum and lactating women should eat about 1-2 tablespoon of this everyday.

Sending this recipe to Ayeesha’s Healthy Morsels Pregnancy

Luv,
Mona

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

Puran ke Laoz

Chana dal, or split bengal gram are an essential item among Pulses in Indian cooking. The other dals most commonly used by indians in their everyday cooking are Tuvar dal or yellow lentils, Masoor dal or Red lentils. These three pulses or dals are the basic source of protein intake in an Indian, chiefly vegetarian diet. Mostly savory dishes are prepared out of dals, but a few of the sweet dishes like the one I am writing today are my favorites.

Chana dal and a block of Jaggery/Gud

My Ammi prepares the following halwa a lot. It brings back many sweet memories from my childhood. It is a simple meetha, which everyone will enjoy, and it is healthy too. It has got chana dal which are rich in proteins, ghee which has got many health benefits and lots of nuts to add flavor and richness.

This meetha is quite subtly sweetish in taste. Once this meetha is done, it is spread out evenly on a flat greased dish and left to set until cool. It is then cut into diagonal pieces, hence called laoz. You can always add more sugar or khoa for flavor according to your preferences. The prepared chana dal or split bengal gram paste is called as ‘Puran’. It is also used as a stuffing for Parathas, just like Aloo Parathas, to prepare ‘Mitthi Roti’, and also as a filling in the ‘Halwa/Puran Puri’ which are the halwa stuffed deep fried pastries/puri which I will write about soon. Khoa and nuts are added to the Puran for that purpose.

Kadai

It is better to prepare this meetha in a non-stick heavy bottomed kadai or saucepan, so that it wont stick to the bottom and burn. A kadai is a deep Indian kitchen utensil. It is wok shaped, has thick walls, usually used to for deep frying purpose. Mine is a new addition to my kitchen utensils, recently gifted to me by my MIL.

Puran ke Laoz – Bengal gram Halva

Ingredients:

Chana Dal – 1 cup
Sugar – 75 grams
Jaggery – 40 grams
Powdered cardamom pods – 1/4 tsp
Khoa – 3 tbsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Finely chopped nuts (walnuts, pistachio, almond, pine nut) – 1/8 cup
Slivered nuts – for garnish

Puran ke Laoz – Bengal gram Halva

Method:
-Soak the dal for about 3-6 hours in surplus cool water. Later, drain and wash the dal. Pressure cook the dal in fresh cool water, until it is soft. Let cook until there is little or no water left. Once cool, puree it to a fine paste in a blender.
-Grease a stainless steel thali or any swiss roll tin with a little oil/ghee. Keep aside.
-Put the paste into a non-stick Kadai at medium heat. Add the powdered cardamom powder, ghee, jaggery, sugar and khoa. Mix well and keep stirring continously and let it cook until it thickens, no longer sticks and leaves sides of the pan. It will take around 20 minutes (time depends on the amount of water in the paste). Once done, stir in the chopped nuts. This is the Puran. Put the puran on the greased thali or swiss roll tin and spread it evenly to a thickness of 1 cm or half inch. Flatten the surface using a flat spatula. Once a little bit cool, put it in the refrigerator for an hour to serve later.
You can store these meetha stacked in an air tight food storage box for upto a month.

Luv,
Mona