Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gajar Ka Halwa ( Carrot Pudding )

Gajar ka halwa which is also known as gajrela is a popular dessert in most regions of India during winter months when the juicy red colored carrots are fresh in the market.  This is believed to have originated from Punjab. 

Halwa is an Arabic word meaning sweet/pudding and Gajar in Hindi means Carrot. So Gajar ka Halwa is simply a sweet dish made out of Carrot. In India, several types of halwa are made with a variety of vegetables depending on their availability. 

In Carrot Halwa, shredded carrots, milk and sugar are slow-cooked until they turn into fudge like consistency. In India, there are two types of carrots are available. We generally use the red carrot to make carrot halwa as they are tender, sweeter and juicier. But you can use the regular carrot too if you don't get that red one. But make sure they are not fibrous. 

Recipe of Gajar Ka Halwa ( Carrot Pudding ) 


Shredded Carrots: 2 cups
Whole Milk: 2 cups 
Ghee:4 tablespoon 
Sugar: 1/4 cup or to taste 
Cardamom powder: a pinch 
Roasted cashew nuts: 2 tablespoons, chopped 


1. Take a frying pan, add ghee. Melt the ghee on medium heat. 

2. Add shredded Carrots and stir-fry it. Once the carrots become tender and the color changes, add the milk. Stir and cook until the milk dries up. 

3. Add the sugar and cardamom powder. Cook another three to four minutes until halwa turns into fudge-like consistency and it starts to leave the side of the pan. 

4. Garnish with roasted cashew nuts or slivered almonds or chopped pistachios. Serve warm. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Orange and Olive Oil Cake

As we all know, pleasant weather in California helps to produce huge of sweet oranges. It’s a very common sight that every house has a tree with full of oranges. Last week one of my friends got a bag of oranges for us. After eating some fresh as snack, I was wondering what could I do with the rest of the oranges before they get rotten. A few weeks back we had an olive oil cake in a restaurant.  It was really moist and delicious with just a little hint of olive oil flavor. The cake has been in my mind for some time, so decided to make an orange cake, baked with olive oil.

Olive oil is used to bake cakes, tortes and brownies to add wonderful fruity flavor. It also makes the baked food extra moist. Also baking with olive oil instead of butter is a nice way to reduce intake of saturated fat. 

This Cake is very moist, a bit similar to a pound cake but lighter and fluffier. You can serve this cake with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This orange and olive oil cake is equally wonderful for dessert, or for a snack or even for a fun breakfast treat with a cup of tea.

The Recipe of Orange and Olive Oil Cake: ( for a-9 inch round cake ) 

Ingredients :

Large Eggs: 2 
Sugar: 1 cup
Light Olive Oil: 2/3 cup 
Fresh Orange Juice: 2/3 cup
Orange zest: 1tablespoons 
All-purpose flour: 1 1/2 cups
Baking powder:1 teaspoon 
Baking soda: 1/4 teaspoon 
Salt: a pinch 


1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. Lightly grease a 9-inch baking pan. 

2. Whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set it aside. 

3. In the bowl of the electric mixture or with a hand mixture beat the olive oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat it well. Add orange juice and orange zest. Mix it well until well combined. 

4. Add the flour mixture. Mix it again until the batter is smooth and combined. 

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake it until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It will take about 35 minutes. 

5. Remove the pan from oven. Place on a wire rack to cool down and remove it from the pan. You can add toasted sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle some powdered sugar on it. Cut it into pieces and serve.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sunday Special Bengali Chicken Curry / Murgir Jhol

Murgir jhol,  a thin curry based chicken dish that is very common in Bengali households. This Bengali style basic Chicken curry has another name too, Sunday Chicken Curry. Because most of the time this is cooked and enjoyed during Sunday afternoon meals. When we grew up, used to have chicken mostly on Sundays, the only holiday of the week and so naturally, it was something very special. 

This is just an Indian Spice Box, I am not using Panchphoron here. 

There is actually no documented recipe to make this chicken curry. It is versatile and you can customize it if you want. Generally, this Murgir Jhol is always characterized by its spicy red color and the presence of large sized pieces of potato. This is my attempt to recreate the Sunday chicken Curry from back home. This soupy Chicken Curry goes best with hot steamed rice.

Recipe of Robibarer Murgir Jhol : serves 5 

Ingredients :

One whole Chicken (around 2 lb / 1 kg) cut into medium size pieces 
Lime juice: 2 tablespoons
Salt : 
Potato: 3 medium sized, cut into two halves
Onion: chopped, two cups
Ginger paste: 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste: 2 tablespoons 
Tomato (optional): 1 medium sized, chopped ( I am not using here, but sometimes I add it )
Oil: 6 to 8 tablespoons, vegetable oil or mustard oil 
Whole dry Red Chili: 1 or 2, cracked 
Whole green Cardamoms: 4 
Cinnamon Stick: 1 and a half inches 
whole cloves: 4 
Sugar: 1 teaspoon 
Turmeric powder: 1/2 teaspoon 
Kashmiri Red Chili powder: 1 teaspoon 
Red chili powder: 1/2 teaspoon or as per your tolerance 
Coriander powder: 1 teaspoon 
Cumin powder: 1 teaspoon 
Salt : 
Garam masala: 1/3 teaspoon 

Method :

1. Marinate the chicken pieces with lime juice and salt. Let it rest for about 15 minutes. Add oil in a wok and heat it up. Once the oil is hot add the potato pieces and fry them till they are golden brown. Remove it from pan and keep it aside.

2. In the remaining oil, add the sugar and caramelize it on medium to low heat. Sugar will slowly melt down to golden brown in color. Add the whole green cardamoms, cardamoms, cinnamon stick, cloves. 

3. When they are aromatic, add the chopped onion, cook the onion, once they start browning, sprinkle some salt.

4. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste, cook them along with onion, until the raw smell goes off. 

5. Add turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, Kashmiri red chili powder and stir it. If you are using tomato, add it now. 

6. Once the masala leaves oil, add marinated chicken pieces and stir it well. Brown the chicken on low heat. This is the time taking part, takes 10 to 15 minutes. Stir it, cover with the lid and let it cook. Once the chicken is almost 80 % cooked, oil starts separating from all the sides, add 3 cups of warm water. 

7. Add potato pieces. Mix thoroughly, check seasoning and cover it. Let it simmer till the chicken and potato pieces are fully cooked. Add the garam masala. Sunday Lunch is ready! Serve hot with a bowl of steamed rice and salad. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kalo Jaam / Kala Jamun

Kala Jamuns are black-colored sweet dumplings very similar to gulab jamuns or Bengali Pantua, made from Chenna, khoya and flour. Like Gulab Jamuns, Kalo Jam or Kala Jamuns are deep-fried, cardamom flavored, soaked in sugar syrup and tasted heavenly in the mouth. 

Kalo Jam is a traditional as well as very popular sweet in India and other parts of the subcontinent.

I made these sweets during last year's Diwali. Generally, whenever I have spare time, I love to try new recipes, click the photos and save it in the draft. But feels lazy whenever it comes to write about the recipe. One of my resolutions for this New year, is to try to finish up all the recipes that were in my draft. :-) 

Recipe of Kalo Jam / Kala Jamun :


For Khoya

Milk Powder: 1 cup
Heavy Cream: 1/2 cup

For Chhana

Milk: 2 liters
Lime juice: of a big lime and mix it with 1 tbsp water. ( you can use vinegar in the place of lime juice ) 

Sugar Syrup

Sugar - 2 cups
Water - 4 cups
Cardamom - 4-5 ( crushed)

For the dough

Channa: 2 cups
Khoya: 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 pinch
All purpose flour - 2 tablespoons
Cardamom powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Ghee/ Clarified butter - 1 tablespoon

Oil - for deep- frying


First Step - Making the Khoya

( You can skip the first step if you use ready-made khoya )

1. Add 1 cup of milk powder and 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a small bowl. Mix it well. Then micro-cook the mixture for 3 minutes.

2. In each 30 seconds, stir it and check it to prevent burning at the bottom. Increase or decrease the cooking time to get the desired consistency. Home-made Khoya would be ready in a few minutes.

Second Step - Making the Chhana or Cottage Cheese at home

1. Boil the milk in a big pan, stir continuously. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame.

2. Pour the lemon juice. Stir the milk. Once the milk starts curdling and changes into chhana (cottage cheese) and greenish water, remove the pan from heat.

3. Leave the chhana / cottage cheese in this condition for 5-7 minutes.

4. Put the chenna iover a soft cotton cloth / or a cheese cloth. Let all the water drain away. Now put this cloth along with the chhana under cold running water for 2-3 minutes.

5. This will help to remove the smell of lemon.  Hang the chhana along with the cloth on the kitchen faucet for about 45 minutes.

6. Now once again, squeeze the cloth if there is any extra water. Try to get rid of as much water as possible but note that the chhana (cottage cheese) should not get too dry.

Third Step: Making the Sugar Syrup

1. Mix the sugar and water and heat up till it comes to boiling state.
2. Add the crushed cardamoms, lower the gas.

Final step:

1. Mash the Khoya on a flat surface until it becomes smooth. Mash the Chhana same way once it becomes very smooth and oily.

2. Add the baking powder, flour, cardamom powder and ghee (clarified butter) in the chhana and again knead it.

3. Add the khoya to the chhana, mix it together.  Knead it well with your palm till there would be no lump in it.

4. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Now make 20 equal sized balls out of the dough and give them a smooth shape.

5. Heat the oil, once it is ready, turn off the gas for 1 minute. Turn on again and keep the flame on its lowest settings. 

6. Place the Kala Jamuns in the frying pan. Remember Kala jamuns will expand in about one and half the size, so give them enough space to expand, and don’t overcrowd them.

7. Fry them in very low temperature till they get dark brown in color. But don't over fry them. Once they are done take it out from the oil and let it cool completely. 

8. Turn on the gas. Fry the balls again on high temperature for 1 to 2 minutes ( but not more than 2 minutes )  till they will turn into the black in color. But you should remember that do not fry those Jamuns for a long time on high temperature. It will be burned, and the outer part will be hard and they will not soak the syrup. 

9. Take them out from oil and put it in the hot syrup. The kala jamuns should sit in the hot syrup for at least 30 to 40 minutes prior to serving. Serve hot. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Linzer Cookies

Happy New Year folks! hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your family. After a long gap of two months, I am here to share a new recipe. The last couple of months I was busy as my parents came to visit us for the first time. We spent quality time together and created lots of nice memories that will bring smiles for a long while. As my culinary journey started from US, I never got an opportunity to cook for them in my own kitchen. This time I fulfilled my long-cherished wish to serve my father, who is a big time foodie and he always appreciates whatever I cook for him. Anyway, once they have returned back to India, slowly I am getting back to the blog.  Like every year, during Christmas time, I made some cookies and Fruit Cakes. This year we baked Linzer cookies for Santa, who came on time, ate and left the gift for my 9-years old :-) Good to see that he still believes in Santa.

Christmas Baking 2016 

I got attracted to these beautiful looking cookies as soon as I saw their pictures on a social media site. Not only I am happy with how they came out but loved the photography part too, as they are very photogenic. I did not need to spend much time to get some decent photos. In Linzer cookies, two almond flavored cookies are sandwiched together with a layer of jam. The top cookie is dusted with a thin white coating of powdered sugar. 

The name of Linzer cookies seems to have come from the city of Linz, Austria. Any flavor of jam or preserves can be used to sandwich the cookies together, though traditionally black currant preserves were used as a filling.  Here I used raspberry jam, bought from the store. The baked cookies are quite crisp, but once they are filled with the jam they start to soften. If you want to keep the cookies crisp, fill them with the jam only on the day of serving. So turn on your oven and make some cookies. Whether it’s Christmas or not, winter is the best time for baking, a lovely way to make your home warm. 

Linzer Cookies


Almond Flour: 1 cup 
All Purpose Flour: 2 cup 
Ground Cinnamon: 1/2 teaspoon 
Unsalted Butter: 2 sticks, at room temperature 
Granulated white sugar: 3/4 cup
Egg yolks: 2 large 
Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon 
Salt: a pinch 


Icing sugar: 
Raspberry jam: 1/2 cup 


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. 

2. whisk all-purpose flour, cinnamon, and salt. Set it aside. 

3. In the bowl of the electric mixture or with a hand mixture beat the butter and sugar, until it is light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and egg yolks. Beat it well. Beat in the ground almond and finally add the flour mixture. 

4. Make a dough. Divide the dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it is chill.  

5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one of half dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured 3-inch cookie cutter. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smaller cookie cutter and cut out the centers of the half of the cookies. If you want, you can buy a Linzer cookie cutter set. I have used those. 

6. Chill, reroll the scraps and cut out the cookies until you are done. Repeat it with the second half of dough. The dough will make 24 to 26 3-inch cookies. If it makes 24 cookies, you have to make 12 full cookies and 12 cutout cookies. 

7. Put the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill it. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes to 12 minutes or until the edges are brown. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool. 

8. Lightly dust the tops of the cutout cookies with powdered sugar. Spread a teaspoon of jam on the bottom surface of the full cookie. Now place the cut-out cookie on top and gently sandwich them together,