Rasgulla – Rasmalai

January 9th, 2014 Mona Posted in Cardamom/Elaichi, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Lemon/Nimbu, Milk and Milk Products, Saffron/Zafraan, Sugar/Shakkar 4 Comments » 1,005 views

One of my favorite desserts since my childhood is this Bengali delicacy Rasgulla. The white spongy balls in the sugar syrup please me to no extent. Its cousin is Rasmalai. The first time I tasted Rasmalai I remember very nicely was in one Ramadan during my childhood when we were staying at my Mama’s house for holidays. It was love at first bite.

In order to prepare Rasmalai you have to have Rasgullas. When you have guests and you need a quick dessert to make, you can use tinned store-brought rasgullas to make rasmalai, or making them from scratch is also as easy, but it needs a little time.

Rasgulla and Rasmalai 

For Rasgulla – Cheese Balls in Fragrant Sugar Syrup:
Milk – 4 cups
Lemon juice – juice of half a lemon
Water – 2 1/2 cups
Sugar – 1 cup
1 green cardamom powdered

In a heavy bottomed saucepan at medium high heat, pour in milk and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, stir and keep aside for 20 minutes. The milk will curdle. Line a sieve with a muslin cloth and drain the curdled milk. Bring the ends of the cloth together into a bundle and squeeze it to drain water. Hang for a further 30 minutes until all the water is properly drained out. Transfer the milk solids to a bowl and knead into a soft ball. Make smooth equal sized 10-12 balls. In a pressure cooker, boil sugar in water and add green cardamom powder and the prepared balls. Pressure cook until you get a whistle. The balls will now swell up in size. Let cool, chill and serve. Or use them to make Rasmalai, recipe below.

For RasMalai – Cheese Cakes in Fragrant Thickened Milk Sauce:
10-12 Rasgullas
Milk – 3 cups
Rasgulla Sugar syrup – 3/4 cup
Saffron – a pinch

Grease the bottom of a heavy bottomed saucepan with few drops of ghee, this will prevent burning of milk at the bottom. Pour in milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for a hour. Meanwhile, take the rasgullas and gently squeeze them between your fingers to flatten them, but not break them, so that most of the sugar syrup is removed. Keep them aside in a bowl. Do not discard the sugar syrup. By now the milk will be reduced to about half its quantity. Drop the squeezed flattened rasgullas in the milk. Add the sugar syrup, saffron, dried nuts and let simmer for 15- 30 minutes. In a couple of minutes, they will soak up the milk and puff up. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature. Serve chilled.

Note:
You can store the sugar syrup and use it to flavor tea, coffee etc. It will last a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Luv,
Mona

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Tarkari ki Biryani

November 9th, 2010 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Broccoli, Canola Oil, Carrot/Gajar, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Cinnamon/Dalchini, Clove/Laung, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Ghee, Ginger-Garlic paste, Green Chillies, Green Onion/Hari Pyaz, Hyderabadi special, Mint/Pudina (fresh), Peas/Matar, Red Chilli powder, Saffron/Zafraan, Salt/Namak, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Turmeric/Haldi, White Potato/Aloo, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz, Yogurt/Dahi 22 Comments » 15,720 views

I was immensely thrilled to learn just a few months back during this last Ramadan that Haleem is the first Hyderabadi delicacy to be granted the Geographical Indication Certificate (GI status) along the lines of the famous Tirupati laddu, Darjeeling tea, Goan feni and Banarasi silk. So it will only be referred to as ‘Hyderabadi Haleem’ from now on. How cool is that. I wish that Biryani and many other such iconic dishes of the city too get the recognition as soon as possible.

Biryani is a dish of royalty, of the nizams of the Hyderabad and the Moghuls, known for its cooking method, delicate flavor, heavenly aroma and the use of many spices in the right proportion. In Persian “Birian” means ‘fried before cooking’. There exist two kinds of Biryani, the non-vegetarian and the vegetarian versions. I have already blogged about both the kachchi (raw) and pakki (cooked) method of the Chicken and Mutton Biryani. You can find the recipes here. Apart from the Hyderabadi Biryani, many other versions also do exist, like the Iranian Biryani, the Khaibari Biryani (from Afghanistan) and Pakistani Biryani, all with a few regional variations that change with religion, geography and culture, but all under the same name Biryani. Today Hyderabadi Biryani caters to palates all over the world.

Chopped Mixed Vegetables

Like I had mentioned in my last post, I love to prepare traditional dishes like Nihari, Biryani and Haleem during the cold season. So the last weekend, I prepared Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani along with Tomato Chutney as the main course for a dinner party.

Tarkari in Urdu language means vegetables. Just like the non-vegetarian version, the vegetarian version is just as ambrosial and a delightful crowd pleaser. All my guests loved it. I do not know how I missed writing about this Biryani all this while. So without further ado, for all those who were waiting for the Hyderabadi version of the Vegetable Biryani, here goes. Following is my Ammi’s recipe.

Hyderabadi Tarkari ki Biryani – Vegetable Biryani
Serves: 6- 7

Ingredients:

Fragrant long grained Basmatic Rice – 3 cups
Warm milk – 3/4 cup
Saffron strands – two pinches
Canola oil – 5 tbsp (or Ghee)
Yellow Onions – 2, large, finely sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Long Green chillies – 2, each slit lengthwise and chopped into half
Mixed Vegetables – large cauliflower florets, large broccoli florets, carrots cut into 2″ long thick sticks, capsicum (any color) cut into long and thin strips, green beans cut into 2″ long pieces, boiled/frozen green peas, quartered potatoes, quartered firm red tomatoes – 5 cups
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 4 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro – 1/2 cup, loosely packed, roughly chopped
Yogurt – 250 ml, 1 cup
Caraway seeds/Shahzeera – 1 tsp
Dried Bay leaf – 2
Cloves – 4
Green cardamoms – 5
Mint leaves – 1 cup, loosely packed, roughly chopped

Tarkari Biryani – Vegetable Biryani

Method:

1. Wash the rice in several changes of water and let soak in cool surplus water in a vessel.
2. In a small cup, pour in warm milk and saffron strands. Keep aside.
3. In a large and wide saucepan, add oil and as soon as it warms up add the sliced onions and fry them while stirring frequently until evenly golden brown in color. Remove the pan from heat and using a slotted spoon transfer half of the fried onion into a platter and reserve for garnish.
4. In the same saucepan, add the cumin seeds, ginger-garlic paste and green chillies, stir fry for a minute. Immediately add all the mixed vegetables. Also add red chilli powder, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and turmeric powder and chopped cilantro. Mix well very gently. Increase the heat to high and let the vegetables sear. Give the vegetables a stir every two minutes, until they get seared on all sides. Now add the yogurt and mix. Lower the heat to medium high and let cook covered for 3-5 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, (but not mushy) (do not overcook the vegetables) (pierce a knife into a potato and check if it is done) uncover and cook on high while stirring whenever required until the vegetables are almost dry. Keep aside.
5. In a large heavy bottomed vessel pour in surplus water and add shahzeera, dried bay leaf, cloves, green cardamoms and cover with a lid. Let it come a rolling boil. Once boiling, drain the soaking rice and add to the boiling water. Let it cook until the rice if half done. Once done, drain the rice and keep ready. Now starts the layering process of the Biryani. Working quickly, in the same vessel, add half of the drained rice. Now add the cooked mixed vegetables. Spread over the rice evenly. Now spread the reserved fried onions meant for garnish, and the chopped mint leaves evenly over the vegetables. Next, arrange the left over rice evenly covering the vegetables. Lastly, pour evenly the saffron milk. Cover the vessel properly with aluminium foil or a tight lid (with vents closed with dough if any) so that no steam can escape. You can also apply dough to seal the lid which is the traditional method.
6. Cook the Biryani on high for 2 minutes. You will notice that a good amount of steam has built up, which is called as the pehli bhaap, meaning first steam. Then take a flat dosa tawa and keep it below the vessel (so that the bottom does not burn and it slow cooks evenly) and lower the heat to simmer and let it slow cook for 30 minutes, until done. Remove from heat. Let the Biryani sit for 15 minutes before serving. Dig a spoon into the vessel and gently mix the Biryani. Serve on a platter. For a special touch, garnish with more fried onions, finely chopped cilantro and mint leaves, toasted/fried almonds or cashewnuts or pinenuts or raisins.

Serve this Biryani along with Mirchi Ka Salan or Baghare baingan or Tamatar ki Chutney or plain and simple Dahi ki Chutney for a sumptuous Hyderabadi meal.

Note:
1. You can also add chopped paneer cubes, sliced mushrooms, and soy nuggets along with the vegetables.
2. Brocolli is not usually added to the Biryani, I added it because I love it.

Luv,
Mona

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Chawal Ka Meetha

October 12th, 2010 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Basmati Rice/Chawal, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Chironji/Charoli, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Ghee, Milk and Milk Products, Pinenuts/Chilgoze, Pistachios/Pista, Raisins/Kishmish, Saffron/Zafraan, Sugar/Shakkar, Walnuts/Aqrot 5 Comments » 8,678 views

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

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Sooji ka Halwa/Rawe ka Halwa

April 3rd, 2010 Mona Posted in Ghee, Hyderabadi special, Milk and Milk Products, Saffron/Zafraan, Semolina/Sooji/Suji, Sugar/Shakkar 18 Comments » 14,721 views

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

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Doodh ka Sherbat

January 7th, 2010 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Cardamom/Elaichi, Fennel seeds/Saunf, Milk and Milk Products, Pistachios/Pista, Saffron/Zafraan, Sugar/Shakkar 23 Comments » 14,151 views

Rizruby, one of the very regular commentators, participant and reader of my blog had shared with me her recipe for this wonderful and nourishing drink of nuts and milk a few days ago. She also adds that back home in Hyderabad a beautiful aroma of ‘Oodh’ (Oodh ka dhua) is added to the drink that makes it even more flavorful.

Doodh ka Sherbat – Nuts and Milk Drink

Milk – 5  cups (8 ounce size)
Sugar – 1/4 cup according to ur taste
Cardamom/Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp
Pistachio/Pista – 40, in number (I use samsclub pistachios without shells, I just wash in plain water to remove the salt)
Almonds – 20, in number (I use samsclub whole almonds)
Saffron – 1 pinch
Fennel/Saunf powder  - 1 tsp  (You can get this in indian stores)

Method:

1. Add almonds in a bowl and add water and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Rub off the almonds skins.
2. Grind the peeled almonds and pistachios to a fine powder in coffee grinder. Take this powder in bowl and add some milk to make a paste.
3. Boil the milk on a medium flame. Also add elaichi powder with sugar to milk and stir for a while. Add the nut paste and saunf  powder when milk is ready to be boiled. Stir milk a little. The saunf powder makes the milk taste less sweet, so add sugar now according to your taste. Also add pinch of saffron to boiling milk. Let the milk cool down. Serve cold and store the remaining in refrigerator.

The technique to infuse ‘Oodh ka Dhua’ into milk is as follows:
Place burning oodh onto a small aluminium foil, and invert a large vessel over it so that the vessel collects all the smoke from the burning oodh. In a few minutes, quickly turn the vessel and cover it with a lid. The vessel has all the aromatic smoke from the oodh. Now pour the milk into the vessel and close the lid. Gently swirl and serve.

Recipe and picture belongs to Rizruby

This yummy, creamy and nourishing sherbat is my contribution to Yasmeen’s ‘Healthnut Challenge 3‘ event that is hosting on her super healthy blog ‘Healthnut‘.

Luv,
Mona

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