Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Kalakand ( Indian Milk Cake )

The Festive season is around the corner. After Janmashtami last week, it’s now time to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, a grand festival in India before Navaratri or Durga Puja comes. As we all know, our festivals can’t be celebrated without sweets. It’s very common practice to offer sweets to Hindu gods and distribute the same among devotees once the puja is done. So for your need, I have come up with the recipe of very popular Indian sweet today. While I am busy planning my son’s 9th birthday, didn’t have enough time to capture pictures of a new post. So thought of sharing this recipe that I tried a few months back and was lying in my draft for some time.

The name of today’s recipe is Kalakand, a delicious Indian dessert, though originated from north India, it has gained popularity across all parts of India.  It’s a milk based sweet dish and rich, soft and crumbly. This traditional dessert is made with Indian Cottage Cheese (Chenna) and solidified milk (Mawa) ). 
There are various methods of preparing Kalakand and some short-cuts too. Though the traditional one is little time-consuming, worth every bit of the effort. To prepare Kalakand from scratch, the  first thing you need to do is to make some Chenna. Then to get a thicker mixture, you would cook Chenna with low flame and allow the mixture to set for a few minutes. Once it’s formed,  you should cut it into squares and garnish with nuts like Pistachios and almonds. If you have never tried a sweet dish, you should definitely give a try to prepare this relatively easier one in this festive season.

Ingredients :

Whole Milk : 9 cups
Lemon juice : of a big lemon, mix with 2 teaspoons of water.
Green Cardamoms : 3, crushed 
Milk powder : 4 tablespoons 
Sugar : 3 to 4 tablespoons or to taste 
Ghee / Clarified Butter : 1 teaspoon 
Pistachios : chopped 3 to 4 tablespoons. 

Method :

1. Boil 4 cups of  milk in a big pan and stir continuously. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame. Pour the lemon juice. Stir the milk. Once the milk starts curdling, and it changes into chenna (cottage cheese) and greenish water, remove the pan from heat. Leave the chenna / channa in this condition for 5-7 minutes.

2. Put it over a soft cotton cloth / or a cheese cloth (if you have any). Let all the water drain away. Now put this cloth with the chenna under running cold water for 2-3 minutes. This will help to remove the smell of lemon. Hang the chenna along with the cloth on the kitchen faucet for 30 minutes. Please note that the Chenna shouldn’t get too dry.

3. Take a nonstick pan, add the remaining milk and boil it till the milk reduces to half of its quantity. 

4. Now add the chenna to the milk. Stir it till the mixture thickens. Add the milk powder and keep stirring. Add sugar and crushed cardamoms. Stir it again and cook the mixture until it separates from all the sides of the pan and it forms a lump. 

5. Grease a plate with the ghee / clearified butter. Spread the Kalakand evenly on the plate. Garnish with chopped pistachios or almonds. Refrigerate it for about an hour.

6. Cut the Kalakand into squares and serve. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Radhaballabhi / Radha ballavi ( Bengali Stuffed Poori with Spiced Urad Dal )

Once upon a time, when my mother used to make Luchi (similar to famous Indian dish Puri) I used to wonder how she can make every one of them puff so nicely. Couldn’t imagine that one day I will also be popular as master of this expertise among my friend circle. Most of my friends in San Diego can die for Luchi with mangsher jhol (chicken or mutton gravy) or Aloo Dum and I feel very happy if I can prepare the same for them in my party.

In Bengali Cuisine there are many version of this dish, where it’s stuffed differently. Some popular names from the list are Dal Puri, Hinger Kachori, Radha Ballavi.  A very thin line of difference exists among these variants and each one carries its own discernible features. Making stuffed Puri was not a cup of my tea, though I can comfortably make simple Puri. Recently I have mastered this skill too :-)

Today I have got a stuffed Puri recipe, called Radha Ballavi. It’s deep fried like a Luchi or Puri but stuffed with spicy urad daal filling. Often they are bigger than normal Puris in size and served with Dum Aloo or Cholar Dal.  This is a very traditional Bengali dish, commonly available in sweet shops, served as breakfast or snack. When north-Indian Naan or Kulcha didn’t become a status symbol in the Bengali wedding, this dish used to be served along with Pulao in most of the weddings. Generally, Radha Ballavis are not made at home and left to the professionals of the sweet shop or the Chef appointed to cook for a wedding. However, neither we can go to a sweet shop nor can attend a wedding in abroad, so only way to enjoy this tasty delicious item is making it at home.

Steps of making RadhaBallabhi 

Recipe of Radhaballabhi, serves : 2

Ingredients :

For dough

Maida / all purpose Flour : 2 cups
Ghee or white oil : 2 tablespoons 
Salt :  a pinch 
Luke-warm water : for kneading 

For Stuffing

Urad dal : 1/2 cup, washed and soaked for overnight 
Grated Ginger /Ginger paste : 1/2 tablespoon 
Green chillies : 1 
Hing ( asafoetida ) : a generous pinch 
Bhaja Masala : 1 tablespoon ( Take one dry whole red chili , two teaspoons of whole cumin seeds, and a half teaspoon of whole coriander seeds in a small pan, dry roast them till aroma comes up.Turn off the gas. Let it cool down and then dry grind to a fine powder. )
Whole fennel seeds : 1/2 teaspoon 
Salt : to taste 

Oil : for deep frying 

Method :

1. In a wet mixer grinder add the urad dal, ginger, fennel seeds and green chili. Make a paste. 

2. Heat one or two tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan. Add hing , then add the Urad dal paste to it. Add salt and keep stirring the paste and cook it until a thick dough is formed. Once done, add bhaja masala and allow it to cool. Stuffing is ready. 

3. In a big bowl, take maida, salt, and oil and mix them well. Now gradually add water and knead it for at least 7 to 8 minutes and make it a dough. The dough should be soft enough but still firm. Once it is done, keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel. 

4. Make some big lemon sized balls from the dough. 

5. Flatten a ball into a disc of about 2 inches by using your palms.

6. Place one big teaspoon of stuffing in the center of the flatten dough, cover the stuffing by bringing all the sides of the disc together and make a ball again. 

7. Slowly press down with the help of a rolling pin to roll out the ball and get a small circle like puris. Prepare all the puris in the same way. 

8. Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Once the oil is hot, keep the flame on medium high, put the Radhaballabhi in the oil one at a  time. Toss it carefully and fry it with the spatula, till it becomes golden on both the sides.

9. To puff it up, you should lightly press down the sides of the Radhaballavi with the spatula and always control the heat of the oil by increasing or decreasing the flame.

10.  Remove the fried RadhaBallabhi with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Serve hot with Dum aloo / Aloor dom or Cholar dal. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cookie Cups

Summer is the perfect time for me to experiment new food in the kitchen. Since I don’t need to prepare my son in the morning for school, there is no hurry to have dinner early and go to bed. There is no fixed routine in our day to day life during this couple of months. On top of that, I spend more quality time with my son, even though he gets bored sometimes without his school friends. But the good times don’t last forever. Only ten more days and it’s coming to an end. Hope will be able to post my recipes regularly even after the school restarts.

Today I’ve got a really fun and simple recipe to share with you. It’s called Edible Cookie Cups , a  kid-friendly recipe which is the perfect one to make together with your kids during the summer vacation.  These little edible cups are made with cookie dough. They are not only very cute looking but totally irresistible. 

Though initially, I thought it must be a very complex process to make these cups, but later it turned out to be much easier. Only things you need are the cookie dough and a muffin tin. These cookie cups are perfect for snack or dessert during the evening after work hours. You can customize them to your personal tastes and fill with the different variety of toppings. If you want to be creative with the filling too, you can serve yogurt, fruit, ice cream or chocolate with it. So far in this hot summer season, it has been a really nice treat to enjoy and I am sure you will also like it.

Recipe of Cookie Cups or bowls ( for about 12 to 15 cups ) 

Ingredients :

All purpose flour : 1  and 1/2 cups 
Salt : a pinch 
Baking soda : 1/2  teaspoon 
Unsalted Butter : 1 stick 

Sugar : 1/2 cup 
Eggs : 1 
Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 tablespoon 

Method :

1. Take a bowl and add flour, salt and baking soda to it. Whisk it together and set it aside. 

2. Now take sugar and butter in another bowl, beat it using the hand mixer or electric mixture until light and fluffy. Add egg, and beat it. Add vanilla extract and mix it until well combined.

3. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Divide the dough into two parts. Wrap each part in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for overnight or at least 3 to 4 hours. 

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F ( 170 C ). Turn over the muffin tin, and grease it thoroughly. 

5. Roll out dough on the generously-floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut 4 1/2 inch circles from the rolled dough. 

6. Drape one circle over each bowl cavity of the pan. Press it to form a smooth surface. 

7. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are firm and golden brown. Once it is done. Take it out of the oven and cool it on the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan and cool completely. Clean the pan and spray again and repeat with remaining dough. 

8. Fill cookie cups as desired. 

For Cheesecake Filling and Topping 


Cream Cheese ( at room temperature ) : 12 oz
Powdered sugar : 1 and 1/2 cups 
Vanilla : 1 teaspoon 
Assorted Chopped Fresh Fruit  : 

Method :

1. Blend the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar together until smooth. 

2. Pipe or scoop cream cheese filling into cookie cups.

3. Top with fresh fruit. 

you can also serve yogurt and fruit mixture, ice cream or hot chocolate into it.