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

Dry Fruits and Nuts Biscuits

Just like Sharmila, and I believe many other Indians, I tend to get confused between cookies and biscuits. Back home in India, only those that are studded with chocolate chips were called as cookies, whereas all others are referred to as biscuits. So you are free to call them whatever you wish, fruit biscuits, or fruit cookies, these melt in mouth morsels studded with dry fruits and nuts are a treat.

dry fruits and nuts biscuits

The famous Karachi Bakery in Hyderabad city is popular for fruit biscuits, among many other baked food products that they are known for. I had always loved these when I was a little kid. These were perhaps one my most early loves. So you can imagine my joy when I discovered a recipe for fruit biscuits at one of my favorite TV chefs website, Ina Garten. I have tried and took delight in many of her recipes, her homely style of cooking is something that I can identify with.

Simple to prepare and delightful to taste, these biscuits have become a regular in my house. Ofcourse I miss those that were available at Karachi Bakery, but these have been successful enough to win my heart and rock my tastebuds. I have made a few changes to the original recipe so that it suites me. For an eggless version, try Priya’s version.

Dry Fruits & Nuts Biscuits/ Cookies
Adapted from this original recipe

Ingredients:

Dried fruits – 1 cup [I used a mixture of tutti frutti and raisins. You can use whatever dry fruits you fancy, like dried berries, candied cherries (or any fruits) etc]
Dried nuts – 3/4 cup [I used a mixture of cashewnuts and walnuts]
Honey – 1 tbsp
Fresh orange juice – 2 tbsp
Fresh lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup (at room temperature)
Canola oil – 1/2 cup
Powdered cloves – 1/4 tsp
Light brown sugar – 1/3 cup
Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 2, large
All purpose flour – 2 2/3 cups
Salt

Method:

1. Chop the dried nuts and fruits roughly. Place them in a mixing bowl, add orange juice, lemon juice, honey and a pinch of salt. Mix well. Cover with a plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.
2. In a mixing bowl add butter and oil, powdered cloves, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Using a whisk or an electric hand mixer, beat for 3-4 minutes. Add eggs and beat for a minute or two until mixed. Add the the dried fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Now add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t over-mix! Divide the dough in half. Place the half on a wax paper and using the long edge of the paper as a guide, shape them into logs. Cover the logs with plastic wrap entirely if you plan to freeze them now to use later. Or else, refrigerate the logs wrapped in wax paper for 1-2 hours or until firm (you can even freeze them for just 15-20 minutes) so that you can easily cut them into slices.

biscuit dough logs

biscuits, cut and ready to be baked

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on aluminium foil lined cookie sheets and bake for 14 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges. Mine were done in just 14 minutes. Once done, transfer the biscuits immediately on a rack and let cool. Once cool, store in air tight food storage containers.

Luv,
Mona

Dried Cranberry-Walnut Muffins

Looks like Fall/Autumn has finally arrived in Toronto. Strong cold winds, falling leaves, and the beautiful red, orange and yellow hues on the tree leaves indicating that a new weather has commenced.

Frozen Moment #5 – Vivid blue sky against Autumn leaves

This summer seemed very short to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed and made use of the beautiful sunshine with whatever little gardening I was able to do in my backyard. Now, my lovely tomato plant is slowly dying, and raspberry plants will soon be asleep. Herb pots have all be brought indoors to adapt to the scanty indirect sunshine.

Bed of Fallen Leaves

This kind of weather leaves me craving for warm baked goods. Mornings are commenced with warm coffee or tea, and something baked fresh from my oven. Today I baked these delicious muffins using dried cranberries which I bought from Bulk barn and some walnuts that I had lying in the refrigerator from a long time.

Toasted and chopped Walnuts & dried Cranberries

I really enjoyed the raisin like dried cranberries with a hint of tartness bursting in my mouth with every bite.

Dried Cranberry-Walnut Muffins
Recipe adapted from: Cakes – 1,001 recipes from around the world

Ingredients:

All-Purpose flour – 2 cups
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
Nutmeg powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Dried Cranberries – 1 cup
Walnuts – 1/2 cup, toasted & chopped (you can also use any other nuts you like)
Buttermilk – 1 cup
Brown Sugar – 1/2 cup, firmly packed
Eggs – 2, large, at room temperature
Butter – 1/4 cup, melted

Warm, freshly baked Cranberry-Walnut muffins cooling on rack

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Butter and flour a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with aluminium foil or paper baking cups.
3. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl. Stir in cranberries and walnuts.
4. Beat buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, butter in medium bowl with an electric hand mixer at high speed.
5. Stir the egg mixture into dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into muffin cups filling each 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffin pan on rack.

My friends of Northern hemisphere, enjoy the fall weather and keep warm!

Luv,
Mona