Home made Gulab Jamuns

Gulab jamuns are a sweet dish we have all grown up with. I found this recipe to be the perfect one – so easy and so tempting. Slurppp!

Your Food Fantasy

Gulab Jamun (गुलाब जामुन) is the most popular and loved dessert in India. Best described as an Indian version of a donut immersed in a sweet syrup. Below is the step by step pictorial recipe to make “Gulab Jamun” with Khoya / Mawa / Dried Evaporated Milk.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 15 pieces

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Sabudana Wada – Crisp on the outside; Soft and smooth inside

 

We have all been seeing sabudana in our households since childhood. These white pearls have been with us in the form of papads, kheer, khichdi and wada. And during Navratri it is always there as a fasting dish.

Ever wondered where they come from? These pearls are extracted from the roots of the tapioca, ssabudana-wada_29952597301_ohaped into globules, processed and finally sun dried. Earlier this was done manually but now we have machines.

Their nutritional value has been a point of concern among all. This non-cereal ingredient is a very rich source of carbohydrates and may not be a favourite among dieters but during the fasting days this energy is much in demand. Besides, the accompanying ingredients add on to the nutritional value of the dish prepared. Sabudana is mostly prepared along with cashew, peanuts, jeera, green chili and coriander when preparing khichdi or wadas. When preparing kheer the milk packs in the nutritional punch.

Sabudana in the form of wadas is relished by one and all and here we delve into the recipe to prepare a lip smacking plate full of wadas. Even if you are not fasting you can surely have this fast dish once in a while!

Ingredients:

  • Sabudana (sago) – 1 cupsabudana
  • Potatoes – 4 medium sized boiled
  • Cashew or Peanuts – ¾ cup crushed
  • Green chili – 2 finely chopped
  • Pepper powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander leaves – ½ cup chopped
  • Salt as per taste
  • Oil for deep frying

Method:

Wash and soak the sabudana for at least 4 -6 hours. The soakingwater should be about a centimetre above the sabudana. After soaking the sabudana would be almost double in size. They would now resemble a bowl full of pearls.

Mash the boiled potatoes very well. Be very certain that there are no lumps in the potato. It should almost resemble a paste. This is very important because this potato texture prevents the wadas from cracking or breaking when frying.

In a large bowl add the soaked sabudana, mashed potato, cashew or peanut, green chili, pepper, coriander leaves and salt. Since we make it for fasting days we add rock salt.

Now roll up your sleeves and using your hands mix all ingredients. The mixing is once again an important step if you want to have well shaped and even looking wadas.

Continue mixing till you are satisfied that you have a uniform mix with no cracks and breaks. You can prepare the mix till here and refrigerate if you want to make it the next day.

Making the wadas now is only a matter of time. Set the oil to heat in a wok or kadhai.

Take a tablespoon full of the mix and make round balls. Flatten the balls to a width of half an inch.

When the oil is hot gently slide in the wadas. Maintain a slow flame because we want our wadas to be cooked inside out. The wadas will stick to the bottom of the kadhai but that is ok.

One word of cautionDO NOT try to move or reposition the wadas soon after adding them to the oil. This will result in the wadas sticking to your ladle and breaking. If you want to reposition or move them wait for at least 5 – 7 minutes. By this time the wadas are fairly cooked from the underside and can tolerate scraping.

When the sides start looking golden gently turn the wadas over to cook on the other side.

It is possible that the wadas stick to one another. Do not panic but after turning them over gently cut them apart.

Continue frying till they turn a beautiful golden colour. You will also notice that they puff up a little.

When done the wadas should look golden and feel crisp on the outside. When you biteinto them the centre should be soft and smooth.

Enjoy steaming hot crispy wadas!!

 

Tips:

Moisten your hands and then shape the balls. This will prevent the mix from sticking to your hands.

After adding the wadas to the oil wait for at least five minutes before you try to move them.

Dengue – A first hand account

This cannot happen to me!

This is one of the silliest mistakes all of us make. We hear of incidents, accidents and diseases affecting other people and continue to live in this ‘made up world’ that we are immune to everything. What does that mean? It means that we are never prepared. We do not bother to consider situations that can lead to adverse conditions in life.

I too lived in this ‘perfect’ world till my son got affected with dengue. Till then dengue was for others and not for me or my family. I failed to accept the fact that the disease was prevalent all around me and required me to be on my guard. In spite of being in touch with people, reading stuff and being ‘educated’ the dengue fever hit my family.

This cannot happen to me? Yes it did and therefore I decided to share my personal experience.

I cannot deny the fact that a mosquito bite is beyond my control. When and where a mosquito will bite is very uncertain but we need to be aware of dengue symptoms that can be noticed before the fever sets in. The incubation period for dengue can be four days up to a week. It can be more than a week too. If the disease is prevalent it would be wise to know the symptoms and be alert. The affected person can:

  • Complain of tiredness
  • Get rashes on the face, hands or feet
  • Experience body pains

We need to pay attention to the little changes and complains of our children. We may dismiss it as growing pains but a bit of care and alertness is needed.

My son too complained of all this. He goes for karate lessons and we dismissed his complaints as growing pains or minor ailments not to be given much heed to. Even the doctor did not notice anything significant.

Finally one morning my son came down with a 101 degree Fahrenheit temperature. Gradually the temperature went rising. When it touched 104.4 I called up the doctor and was advised to go for a checkup and blood test the next day.

Remember, a dengue blood test shows results only after 24 hours of fever. At times it can take longer than that. Even if the virus is present it will not show up in the tests. Like in my son’s case; a repeat blood test done after two days of fever revealed that he was infected with the dengue virus.

Now terms like WBC count, haemoglobin and platelets became a regular.

Unlike other diseases dengue does not have any medicine. Constant care is the only way to recover. While the caregiver does the caring part the patient too needs to help himself.  With me the challenge was to feed my son liquids and food. This is what my doctor told me:

  • Give him lots of fluids. It can in the form of juices, buttermilk, energy drinks, glucose drinks, lemonade, milk and any other think he likes. The point is to keep him well hydrated.
  • The hemoglobin is not supposed to rise much in this condition. If it happens it is a sign of the blood going dense and hence a rise in hemoglobin reading.
  • WBC cells go down considerably but regular monitoring is required to see they do not go too low.
  • Rest is a must. Tests were on in my son’s school but the doctor said no. Tests come and go but not at the risk of life. First get back into good health and then go to school.
  • Monitor the temperature every four hours.
  • If the temperature goes beyond 102 Fahrenheit apply ice packs. If a normal paracetamol does not work, give a higher dose recommended by the doctor.
  • No papaya leaf juice. Everyone is insisting on this potion but do not give it to him. Papaya leaf juice is very bitter and causes an upset stomach and pain. The patient may even vomit.

Two days later a repeat blood cells was performed and thankfully the WBC count had gone up and the hemoglobin was showing normal behavior. It had, in fact, gone down slightly. It was the platelet count that had dipped further. According to the doctor this was a report to be taken positively. It showed that my son was on his way to recovery.

What about platelet counts dipping? The doctor says platelets are not the only thing to be concerned about. The WBC cells are equally important. Once he starts recovering the platelets will come back to normal.

And one very important thing – take very good care so that any new infection does not strike. This is very important as we would not like to have any further complication. With high temperatures the body becomes weak and very susceptible to infections.

Luckily the condition of my son has not been very bad and treatment at home sufficed. But life did teach a lesson that no one is immune from anything. When, where and how life hits out no one knows. What is needed is an alert mind that is prepared to tackle all kinds of situation.

 

Cream of Mushroom Soup

The more colourful your food the more nutrition it carries. This is something that we have been reading quite often these days. Dietitians and nutritionists advice of bringing more colour to our dinner table. So then how does mushroom make it to the kitchen and ultimately to our plates? Well, this is an exception. Mushrooms may be lacking the bright colours but is still packed with a whole lot of nutrition. The benefits of mushroom are many.
 
We all know that the sun is only source of vitamin D and this vitamin is vital for calcium absorption. We need not go into the benefits of calcium here. The only bother source of vitamin D is the egg yolk. Though a source of a vital vitamin the yolk cannot consumed in large quantities. And what about the vegans? They are completely dependent upon the sun for their daily dose of the D vitamin. This is where mushroom comes in to the rescue.
Mushroom is the only vegan source for vitamin D and that means that it holds a pretty important position in our diet. This exclusive property of the humble fungi is enough to make it a regular part of the diet.
 
Besides the important vitamin D mushrooms are also a good source of selenium, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus and dietary fibre. They are also known to give the body an immunity boost.
 
So why not cook up a mushroom storm in the form of a creamy soup. But hold on, this soup though creamy, does not contain cream. The taste and aroma are splendid.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Ingredients:
  • Onion sliced – 1
  • Mushrooms chopped – 200 gm
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoons 
  • Refined flour – 1 tablespoon 
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
  • Pepper – 4 whole
  • Salt as per taste 


Method:

Heat oil in a large, thick bottom dish. Add the bay leaf, pepper and cinnamon. Add the onion and cook till pink.
Add the mushrooms and cook till it gives off water.
Add the flour and cook further. The flour should not smell raw and the mix should look slightly thickening.
Add the milk and water and bring to a boil.
Allow to boil for approximately 10 minute.
Let the soup cool. We have not yet added the salt.
Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon.

When cool blend in a blender.
Put the vessel back on the fire and give the soup one final boil.
Turn off heat and add salt. Add freshly ground pepper and dry parsley or any other herb of your choice.

The herbs you add a matter of personal choice. You can even add finely chopped onion greens and parboiled carrots to give a bit of crunch to the soup.

 

I have also tried substituting the refined flour with a tablespoon or two of rolled oats. The results are equally good. 

Multigrain Digestive Biscuits

Every morning starts with a cup of tea and a couple of digestive biscuits. I find these biscuits to be light and just the perfect match for the morning cup. This is time when I do not like to eat much but at the same time have something to go with my tea. Tea alone does tend to cause problems with the digestive system.

Different brands have come up with their own versions of digestive biscuits and each one has its takers. I too stick to a particular brand but every glance at the ingredient list leaves me feeling confused and a little wary. Do I know what I am eating?

Since I am already into a bit of baking stuff trying out a digestive biscuit did interest me. I looked up quite a few recipes as well and finally came up with one of my own. These homemade multigrain biscuits are packed with the goodness of whole wheat, rice, oats and a touch of flax seeds. There are no additives and no such ingredient that I cannot pronounce or identify. 

And not to forget the sugar which is well within my control.

Using milk instead of water to knead the dough gives a boost to the nutrition quotient.

So let us make some super easy homemade digestive biscuits right away! With the given ingredient list you will get a rather small batch. You can multiply as per your need.



Ingredients:
·         Refined flour: ¼ cup
·         Whole wheat flour: ½ cup
·         Rolled oats: 2 tbsps
·         Rice flour: 1 tbsp
·         Flax seeds (roasted and ground): 1 tsp
·         Ghee: 3 tbsp
·         Sugar: ¼ cup
·         Salt: a small pinch
·         Baking powder: ½ tsp
·         Milk to kneed

Method:
In a large bowl, sieve together refined flour, whole wheat flour, rice flour, salt and baking powder.

Add the rolled oats and flax seed powder.

Add the ghee to the dry ingredients. Rub between hands to get a grainy texture.

When well mixed make a well in the center and pour a little milk. Start kneading.

Your dough should neither be too hard nor too soft. It will be a bit crumbly but that is fine.

Tear away a handful of dough and make a ball. Roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately one centimeter. Using a cookie cutter cut circles and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven as 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes. When done let them rest in the oven for a couple of minutes before removing the tray.

Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.  

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coffee Cake

Who does not love chocolate cake? Of course we all do but since long I have been thinking of making one with coffee. My first attempt was a disappointment since I followed a recipe that asked me to soak the cake in coffee syrup. Probably I went wrong somewhere and the coffee tasted pretty bitter in that form.
 
This time round I simply tried to play around with my chocolate cake recipe. And the results is rather good.  Like most of my cake recipes this one too contains whole wheat flour and vegetable oil. I have started using whole wheat ever since I decided to bake for Aseem. Children do love cakes and I could not see him have refined flour cakes all the time.
 
The reason I use vegetable oil in place of butter is that oil keeps the cake soft and moist, even when kept in the fridge. Unlike butter it does not become hard and retains its springy texture.
The sweetness of the cake may be bothersome for some as I use sugar less than regular cake recipes. In most cases a recipe calls for almost the same amount of sugar as flour. I keep it to half. Here I have made a small cake with half a cup of flour and one fourth cup of sugar. If you have a very sweet tooth you can easily increase the sugar quantity and get the desired sweetness.
Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour – ½ cup
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Cinnamon powder –  a generous pinch (optional)
Unsweetened cocoa powder – 1 tbsp
Brown sugar – ¼ cup
Vegetable oil – 1/3 cup
Coffee granules – 1 heaped tsp
Eggs – 2 nos.
Walnuts crushed- 1 tablespoon (optional)
 
Method:
Prepare your cake tin. Either grease it or line it with parchment paper.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Dissolve the coffee granules in 2 tablespoons of hot water and set aside to cool.
Sieve the flour with the cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon powder.
Separate the eggs. Place egg whites in a large bowl. Add sugar and oil and whip well, for approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
Add the yolks one by one and continue whipping. Now set your mixer aside and grab a wooden spoon. Gradually add the flour-cocoa mixture to the egg mix. Do not bother to beat it well as we only need to fold it into the egg mix.
Once mixed, pour the batter into a prepared cake tin. Sprinkle the walnuts over the cake top. A cake of this size usually goes in to a six inch diameter tin.  Accordingly you can choose one for yourself.
Bake the cake in the pre-heated oven for around 40 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean. 
 
Relish this soft, yummy and guilt-free cake with a steaming hot cup of coffee!

 









Fabric envelopes

We need them for carrying important papers.

We need them to store those valuable hard copy data.

We need them to collect bills in one place.

If we look around our house or office we will find numerous items calling out to us to be stacked in an organized manner. These essential documents deserve folders and organizers. Allotting a folder to each one or each category of them will not only make things look neat and tidy but will also save us a lot of trouble hunting through stuff.

Now that the need for folders in established why not make these folders attractive? Let us move away from the store bought plastic ones and graduate to a fabric folder. A super simple DIY fabric folder!

You could use jute or burlap as I have done or go for any other thick material. Or you could use an interfacing to give a rather thin material some stiffness.


The folder that I have made is 15×10.5 inches in size. You can always make alterations as per your need. I needed it to carry some A4 size documents so this size. I may soon be making some in different sizes as well.
As I said this was an extremely easy DIY craft piece which hardly takes time to take shape. For the one mentioned here (the green polka dot folder) this is what you need:


Burlap or jute – 15 x 23
Fabric of choice for embellishment (for front) – 15 x 4
Piping fabric – you will need to measure the raw edges that require piping and prepare accordingly. Alternately you can use fabric tape which is bound to be a lot easier. Since I did not get that I went ahead and made the piping.
Self-adhesive Velcro – 2 pcs
Thread matching the fabric or burlap
A pair of scissors
And last but not the least a sewing machine.
How to make:

We have all made envelopes when we were kids and this is one of the simplest ways to do it. Take the burlap lengthwise and 9 inches from ones side fold it towards the middle.

Now take the other end and make a 4.5 inches fold towards the middle so that it overlaps the other folded end. Press well to make distinct fold marks. These overlapping parts form the back of the folder. Turn over to get the front portion.

Open up the fabric and align the embellishing fabric on the front portion. Stitch it in place. I have attached it towards the bottom.

Since edges look ragged attach the piping. Begin with the both breadth sides – the 15 inch sides.
Fold it back and stitch both the open sides so as to give it the shape of the folder or envelope. You basic product it ready. Now stitch or stick the fabric tape on the edges. Since you have already stitched the sides they will not open so sticking will be just fine.

All that remains to do is ensure that the folder keeps papers secured – so place the Velcro patches. One good way to do it would be to attach both sides to each other. Now peel off the patch and stick to one side. When well secured peel of the patch from the other piece and close the flap of the folder. The Velcro will stick to the other side in just the right place.

And in no time your DIY fabric folder is ready!!!


Whole Wheat Chocolate Almond Muffins

Almonds, we all know are a storehouse of nutrition. But which child likes to have them willingly? Not many that I know of. Yet all of us as mums always make efforts to include the wonder nut in our children’s diet. Trying to list down the benefits before them does not have much effect, especially if the child is a very picky and fussy eater. Besides, with tempting junk food all over the place who would want to go for ‘almonds’ of all things?
 
Let us recap the benefits of almonds which will once again rekindle our efforts to sneak in almonds in the diet in different forms.
 
Almonds contain vitamin E, vitamin B12, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and lots of fibre.
 
With almonds in one’s diet the risk of cardiovascular diseases are greatly reduced. They help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol LDLand the flavonoids in them protect the arteries from damage.
 
The presence of phosphorus helps build strong bones and teeth.
 
According to Ayurveda almond consumption can also be linked to better brain functioning and longevity.
 
Research is also on to check the benefits of almond consumption and reduced cancer risks.
 
These are just some of the advantages of consuming almonds but they are proof enough to include them in the family diet. Given here is a muffin recipe that not only uses almonds but is also made with whole wheat. The addition of chocolate overpowers the almond taste to a great extent and children may never know that they are having almonds.  
Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour – ½ cup
Roasted Almond meal – 2 level tbsp
Brown Sugar – ½ cup (can use less as sweetness is a matter of personal choice. I used a little less than ½ cup)
Egg – 2 large
Vegetable oil – ¼ cup
Unsweetened cocoa – 1 heaped tbsp
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Vanilla extract or essence – 1 tsp
Whole almonds – 3 slit in to 6 halves (optional)
 
Method:
Sieve the wheat flour, baking powder and cocoa. Set aside.
 
Line six muffin moulds with muffin liners.
 
Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
 
Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat well until soft peaks form.
Add the oil to the egg mix and beat again until well mixed and peaks formed. A good whipping here ensures that air has been well trapped to give a well risen muffin.
 
Add the egg yolk and beat again for about a minute.
 
Pour in half of the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. When mixed well pour in the other half and mix again. At this stage all you need to do is fold in the flours. No beating is required else the trapped air will escape.
 
Spoon the batter in to the lined muffin moulds filling just a little more than half full.
 
If you wish you can place a half of an almond on each muffin at this stage just before putting the tray in the oven.
 
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes or till the top is dry and a skewer comes out clean.
Enjoy it hot or cold. It could be with a beverage of your choice – milk or coffee and once again hot or cold.
 

These muffins make excellent snacks both at home as well as a carry along one. Place them in your child’s lunch box and rejoice at his beaming face.

Whole Wheat Banana Almond Choco Chip Muffins

Muffins! Did you say they are unhealthy? It’s time to give it a fresh thought; time to take control and turn these so called unhealthy foods into healthy ones. They make excellent snacks and can also serve as a good breakfast, both for adults and children alike. Pack in some healthy accompaniments and they can double up as good school lunches. Very filling, satisfying and healthy.
 
These muffins contain the much energising bananas. Whole wheat replaces refined flour and the addition of almond meal packs in the much required nutrition. In powdered form it is a good way to sneak in almonds for fussy children.
You will need:
Whole wheat flour – ½ cup
Roasted Almond meal – 1 tbsp
Brown Sugar – ½ cup (can use less as sweetness is a matter of personal choice. I used a little less than ½ cup)
Bananas – 2
Egg – 1 large
Vegetable oil – ¼ cup
Chocolate chips – ¼ cup
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Salt – a pinch
Vanilla extract or essence – 1 tsp
 
 
Make it:
Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Line six muffin moulds with muffin cups.
Sieve the wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
 
Separate the egg. Place the egg white, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat well until soft peaks form.
Add the oil to the egg mix and beat some more till the oil is well incorporated. The beating at this stage is very important. The more air you trap in it the frothier your mix and fluffier your muffin.
Add the egg yolk and beat for a minute.
 
Now set your beater aside and pick up a wooden spoon. Pour in half of the wheat flour and half of the almond meal. Mix well. Add the remaining flours and mix again. You only need to fold in the flours so that they are mixed well. No beating is required here and make sure not to over mix.
 
Now it’s time to peel your bananas and mash them. You could do this at the preparation stage also but by the time you have to mix it in the batter they will change colour. If you wish to have the freshly mashed colour then do it now. Mash and mix it in the batter.
 
All that remains is the chocolate chips. Pour them into the batter and mix once again.
 
Spoon the batter in to the lined muffin moulds filling just a little more than half full.
 
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes or till the top is dry and a skewer comes out clean.


Enjoy it hot or cold.

Tongue Tingling Mint Chutney (Pudina Chutney)

Mint or pudina and raw mangoes bring with them the whiff of the summer air up north in India. The smell of the spicy and sour pudina chutney brings back memories of those long and lazy summer holidays. The hot and dry loo winds blowing outside and the noisy air coolers blowing full blast to keep the indoor temperatures as cool as possible. 

Pudina or Mint

Pudina is a very common herb in Indian kitchens and is long known for its innumerable health benefits. Pudina helps relieve indigestion, gives comfort in aches and pains, fights oral infections and cancer, brings about a glow to the skin, acts as a blood cleanser, eliminates toxins from the body, and combats bad breath. These were some of the most important and known benefits of pudina.





The other main ingredient in this mint chutney is raw mango which has its own set of benefits. Compared to its ripened form it has a richer quantity of antioxidants and vitamin C thereby improving the immunity and stamina of the body and protecting against cardiovascular diseases. Along with salt raw mangoes aid in preventing excess body water loss in the dry summer days.

The addition of jaggery as opposed to sugar not only enhances its taste but also adds on to its nutrition factor. It also brings about a good consistency to the whole mix and gives a good rich colour to the chutney.

Mint Chutney

The two spices, cumin and fenugreek, are in a rather insignificant amount but their taste can be well distinguished and cannot be done away with.












Chutneys are that little addition to every meal that instantly perk up the entire menu. They not only taste great but also enhance the entire food ensemble. They are rather easy to prepare and have a finger licking taste. Let us prepare the very spicy mint chutney.



Ingredients:
Ingredients

  • Mint leaves –  ½ cup
  • Green or Raw mango – 1 medium sized
  • Jaggery – ¼ cup
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – one pinch
  • Chilli (dry red or fresh green) – as per taste
  • Salt – as per taste




Ready for grinding


Method:
– Wash the mint leaves.

– Peel and chop the raw mango.

– Cut jaggery in small pieces.
– Dry roast cumin, fenugreek and dry chilli (if using the red dry one).

– Add all ingredients to the mixer jar and grind to a smooth consistency. You should be able to grind the chutney without any extra water. However, if you need to, add a very small amount – a teaspoon or two.



Your fragrant and delectable chutney is ready in a jiffy!