Showing posts with label Sweet tooth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sweet tooth. Show all posts

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A taste of home: 2-ingredient Kalakand

One of the things I didn’t see made at home was sweets. Growing up in India, it was easy to step out to a halwai ki dukan (sweetmeat shop) and choose whatever caught your fancy. My mom usually made a couple of basics like halwa and kheer in her kitchen to mark a holiday, but we bought the rest. As with everything else, it’s easier to shift the responsibility of not being able to make desserts to my life as a child in India J.

It was hard to live without Indian sweets after moving to USA. Throughout my first pregnancy, I craved for boondi-ka-laddu and kaju-ki-katli.…..Things weren’t the same 15yrs ago – we had one small grocery store that sold Indian staples, and the variety of frozen food that you see today was non-existent. Even if you did drive 1-2h to the big grocery stores, things didn’t exactly taste like they should have. Over years, the sweet taste buds kind of dampened, and I started forgetting things that I’d liked in India. And then, as my daughters grew older and got to eat sweets that our friends brought back from their trips to India, my forgotten love re-ignited. We started to ask visiting friends and family to carry boxes of Indian sweets; just so the girls could enjoy them.  

Very recently have I started learning how to make a few of the common sweets at home. To many of you, these would appear trivial; for me anything that the girls decide to like, is a triumph!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Meetha kha, Meetha Bol. Til ki Patti

“How many harvest festivals do Indians celebrate?” was the smart-aleck Anya question this past weekend.

Reason- I had made Til ki Patti (Sesame seed Brittle) at home; and was forcing her to try a bite under the pretext that it was a special dessert made for Harvest celebration as marked by Makar Sankranti.

My first reaction was annoyance. Her tone really had that early-teen disdain for everything “parent”. One deep breath later, I figured that if she asked that question; she probably remembers the other Harvest Holidays and stories that I have told her and Baby P. This is good, in fact- better than good. After all, isn’t the goal to make them aware of our special traditions and celebrations?


So I ventured into my convoluted, Wikipedia-verified version(s) of  why we celebrate Sankranti. Anya rolled her eyes and went back to doing whatever she was doing, but remained close and kept her earphones out of her ears. A big enough achievement, under the circumstances. Baby P hung on to every word, asked tons of questions and chattered on while I tried to google apt responses for her. Somehow, she made me wish that I could hold on to her years a little longer….having a teenager on hand is surely a trial!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Slow cooker Applesauce


I get these requests infrequently enough to not pay much attention. And when the whining becomes insistent, it's easier to buy a tub or two of snack-sized applesauce to curb cravings.  And yet, it is one of the easiest things to put together, especially in a slow cooker. Today, after a week of procrastinating, I finally decided to listen to baby P's cravings for applesauce. Not only that, I also decided that instead of buying; I will make it for her at home. Finally, more than anything else, I decided to kick off the 6-month long inertia, and write again....






Slow cooker Applesauce

6 medium-sized apples: I used Mackintosh
1/3 cup of orange juice (optional)
1Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove
A dash of cinnamon.
3Tbsp brown sugar


  1. Peel, core and cut the apples into 1 inch cubes.
  2. combine everything in a slow cooker. Cook on High for 4h, stirring once or twice in between.
  3. Cool and blend to a smooth puree. 

My  two cents: That's it. You have a cup of a applesauce for school. Adding sugar was a last minute decision- for some reason, I felt that my apples were a bit tart. You could definitely adjust that to taste. Similarly, after cooking, the apples were soft enough to be mashed with the back of a spoon, if you don't mind a bit of chunkiness.

And the best thing- the smell of cinnamon and apples creates a lovely, warmth to come home to after being out in the cold all day
 





Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gujhiya- Taditional Holi Recipe


Wishing you all a bountiful spring- Happy Holi!!!

If Holi is here, can spring be far behind? 

Traditionally marking the beginning of Spring in India, Holi used to be quite an affair in Delhi. After hours of running around with water pistols, colors and water-balloons, we would return home exhausted and ready to curl into sleep. Except that our mom had a different idea... she, for the first time since winter set in, would make us take cold water baths. All my childhood years, I remember being bathed in ice-cold water with our teeth chattering while my mom scrubbed away the colors of Holi from inside our ears and hair. It seemed like hours before she considered us clean enough to step in anywhere inside the house. And all through the ordeal, she kept repeating that since it was spring time, we had to start bathing in cold water….

After a tiring day and her ruthless cold-water scrubbing, lunch this day was usually something good - hot and deep fried. Mostly pakoras, the sweet saffron rice called Zarda, and a cup of warm milk to beat the cold- followed by a short nap. Late in the afternoon, my dad's friends gathered in our house for a "mushaira". Not quite sure what went on there, but they laughed loud and made plenty of ruckus. All the "aunties" would pack their kids and their knitting, and meet up in the neighborhood park themselves for some "girl time". Before my mom left for the park, she and I would ply the uncles with goodies to sustain them for a few hours - pots of Kanji and Thandai, Mathi, Gujhiya and besan ladoo - all from my mom's kitchen. By the time we came home, the uncles usually had eaten them all!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Slow cooker Rabri

Hard to believe that fall is knocking on our doorstep.

Just as hard as believing that I haven't touched base with you all for more than 5 weeks now. For some reason, time slipped away un-noticed. Doesn't mean I haven't been cooking or wanting to share. Just never did. 

Summer ended on a whirlwind vacation to Puerto Rico. I need to get back to you with highlights from that trip, soon. Then a flurry of activity with back to school, teacher meetings and beginning of all other hustle and bustle. And then the girls' birthdays. In my family, both the B-Days fall within a week of each other. Which means a massive partying spree in September.  It is just now that life has taken on a semblance of normalcy befitting routine. 

For want of a better reason- I decided to come back to this space with a recipe that several of you had a chance of tasting recently. Rabri. This was a last-minute addition to my daughters' birthday party menu. Initially, I had decided that the cake and Gulab Jamun would suffice as desserts. Somehow, the morning of the party, I started having misgivings about my decision. Store-bought desserts didn't exude the kind of personal touch that I like my guests to experience. While I have made Rabri before the traditional way, this was my first time making it in a slow cooker. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kheer: The slow cooker version.

Kheer, or rice pudding, has got to be the easiest dessert to make in the world…and one of the most frustrating.

I remember my naani making it on a wood-burning chulha. She set the embers down to real low and placed her milk on it first thing in the morning.  She went about her daily business after that, never forgetting to come back and give the milk a good stir every so often. The milk simmered, and thickened until lunch time. This is when she put the rice and other goodies in. More simmering….Just after lunch, all four of us grandkids could take it no more. It was sheer torture…the aromatizing smells coming out of the pot; and our grandma guarding it like Cinderella’s stepmom. Late in the afternoon, the handi was transferred into a wide-mouthed paraat filled with chilled water from the well. And there it cooled until grandma deemed it ready enough to eat; which was always, frustratingly, after dinner.

My mom, in the expensive city trying to conserve Natural gas used for cooking, started using a pressure cooker. She’d cook the rice a smidgen with water; then transfer cooked rice with milk, sugar and everything else into a heavy bottomed cast iron kadai. Her simmering was limited to maybe an hour or so, but since she couldn’t get the flame low enough, she was constantly watching her pot. Her kheer was good; but naani’s was better.  My mom always blamed it on the low quality milk she got in the city.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gulgule: A Childhood Favorite


Holidays have this way of creeping up and evoking nostalgia. Long forgotten memories, of people and things that we have taken for granted for too long....and when life gives you a breather, you turn back to realize that those memories have gotten a lot hazier than you ever thought they could. 

Today we celebrated Karwa Chauth- an annual ritual I grew up with - a day, that my mom described as her day off. For according to tradition she couldn't touch any needles.  Without her sewing machine or knitting needles, she had the whole afternoon to while away. And she did that by spoiling herself and me. She couldn't eat or drink till moon-rise. But that didn't keep her out of the kitchen. Together, we made a whole bunch of goodies for the special dinner at night; went shopping for red glass bangles and bright red vermillion, oiled, washed and braided our waist long hair. Around mid afternoon, she sat me down to listen to the "katha"- mythological folk-lores glorifying the day of Karwa Chauth- before handing me a plate of the mouthwatering, strongly fennel-flavored Gulgule.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For the love of Gaundh- Traditional Jain Gum-Nut-Coconut Brittle.

This post here, has languished in the draft format for more than 15 days now. It was meant to be a quick one, to coincide with the occasion that it is associated with; namely the Jain fasting days of Paryushan or Das Lakshan Parv. But time flew by quickly. And life got busier than it has been all summer.  I will try to get a bit more organized and regular, but meanwhile, this is what you've been waiting for - another one of my MIL's specialities. She's made it every year that I've been with her during these days of fasting. The first couple of times, I didn't pay much attention. But then last year, by the time I figured that I'd like to know how to make it, she was already done. So this year, I was ready. Made sure she made it on a weekend, at a time when I was around, and got to see it being prepared first hand. As far back as I can recall, this is nothing that I ever saw in my own home.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Orange Creamsicle

Baby P is taking an inordinate amount of interest in cooking now-a-days. First they made apple sauce and rice crispies in school. Then, not long ago, she came back with a Princess Tiana cookbook from her school library, spent a laborious one week reading all the "lecipes", asking me if we had a particular ingredient listed in the recipe or not, before deciding that we should make Jambalaya.
"It has meat in it", I said.
"No, we can make it without the meat- it will still be good".

So, I made Rajma Chawal, heaped them in a bowl and passed it off as Jambalaya

That night at dinner, we had a face that shone with happiness because she was eating what Princess Tiana eats for dinner. 

Realization hit home- hard - two days later. She come from school literally in tears. 
"I did nothing when you made Princess Tiana dinner- that's not cooking!!"
"But little kids can't cook- you've got to grow up a bit..."
It took some mighty effort to hush her down.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Simple and Sweet- Cheeni-Ka-Paratha.


The earliest memories I have of my grandma are of feeding my toddler brother a smushed up roti with ghee-boora (powdered sugar with clarified butter).  She, on a low woven seat we called peedha; and he, toddling about around her with a ball in his hand. All through the summer holidays that's what he and I ate. Naani was the best when it came to indulging picky eaters like us. She didn't insist we eat our veggies, was always ready to make a meal especially for us, and if both options failed; handed us a huge bowl of ghee-boora

Back in Delhi, my mom opted for a no-mess route incorporating the boora, ghee and roti together to make us a Cheeni ka Paratha. When we were very little, she'd roll it up, and hand it to us so we could  eat while we played. My dad occasionally threw a fit, threatening us with cavities and toothless grins, but mommy always found a way to ignore his rants.  As I grew older, my ma and I were often at loggerheads. With daddy gone for work or at school most of my growing up years, this Paratha was what resolved most of our (my) skirmishes....

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sujjige - Sooji-Ka-Halwa (but Not)...

Sooji-ka-Halwa had got to be the most common dessert that I knew of, growing up. My mom made it the drop of the hat, for any occasion (or not), celebration or an unexpected guest that stayed on for dinner.  And the only way I knew of making it is as I have told you about here. But it was always served as an end of the meal sweet-taste. Then I got married, and my MIL made a version of cream of wheat porridge, using Sooji , for breakfast. It always reminded me of baby food, which is why I made a lot of that for Baby P when she was a toddler.  I could never really eat it myself though.

One time,  my sister-in-law, who has developed quite a taste for our version of Sooji-ka-Halwa, mentioned that in Goa, they make a similar dish but using milk and egg mixture for moisture rather than water. That sounded interesting, but fairly out of reach because of the egg. I often wondered if I could just use milk instead of water for my version of Halwa.....as usual, never tried. Recently, I came across a recipe for Sujjige, a Kannada recipe that reminded me of my SIL's Goan dish, but without the eggs. It also reminded me of my MIL's semolina-milk breakfast, minus the baby-food consistency! So yesterday, for the day of Ashtami, instead of my regular Sooji-ka-halwa, I tried out the Sujjige recipe...followed the recipe to a T this time...[except for the cashews and raisins....baby P doesn't like any texture in her sticky sweet :-(  ]. Follow the link, and see the beautiful recipe and pictures at Radhika's site... In essence, the difference is using a mix of water and milk instead of water alone for cooking the Sooji.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pop goes the cake....


It's never too early to start thinking Christmas. Heck, Christmas started the minute our Thanksgiving dinners got cleared away.  Since last week, I only hear Holiday music on my radio and I've watched at least 5 feel-good Christmas movies on Hallmark.  So I wasn't really surprised when the pre-meeting talk at work today turned towards Holidays, calories and Cake Pops; instead I was immediately reminded of these that I'd made at Christmas last year.  Came back, fished out the picture; and here they are.  Not the prettiest looking pops, I concede. But this was absolutely my first time working with chocolate (if we forget my Buckeyes, that is). So cut me some slack. And here's how I made these cake pops......

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Til Ke Laddoo for Dusshera


In a blink, this year's gone. And here we are, on the verge of another Diwali celebration. But for now, we're still at Dusshera.  One day last week, a friend and I got talking about the reasons we celebrate Navratris and Dussehra in our respective families. She's from a region near Hyderabad; and she said that Dusshera in her place is linked to the story of Mahishasur and they believe that he was killed on Dusshera day.  For us, growing up Dusshera was all about the killing of Raavan, and we'd be so excited about going to see the effigies of Raavan, Meghdoot, and Kumbhkaran go up in flames at dusk- to mark their demise. In retrospect, our festivities seem loud and boisterous compared to the celebrations down South!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A "Berry" Good Crisp.....

One of the traits I seem to have inherited from dad is this deep-rooted need to have my family experience everything food that I've liked.....anywhere.  And if I knew how easy it would be to make this Blueberry Crisp for A to taste, I'd probably have done it 2yrs. ago and rested easier.

I first ate a Blueberry Crisp  almost a decade ago while I was at a official dinner, at a colleague's insistence. I was pregnant big time with my first daughter, and must have eaten more of this than he anticipated because I remember this look on his face when I finally put my fork down!!
"Your baby must have a really big sweet tooth", he'd said then....much to my embarrassment.
Despite that comment, I'd had this little niggle in my head saying that I should have A taste this lovely dessert; for he's the one with a sweet tooth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What's in a name? Gajrela or Gajar-ka-Halwa

The carrots back in India were a bright-red color, very tender and as juicy as can be. They appeared in the markets every year in mid-November, gave way to purple carrots around early March before disappearing altogether till next winter.  My mom was a huge fan of gajar-matar ki sabzi (which my dad and I wouldn't even look at). The two of us (my dad and I) could munch on kilos of raw carrots, everyday, for as long as they were available; much to the amusement of my mom.  My brother held the fort for carrot-haters in my family.  But we all came together and were united in our liking for the dessert made out of carrots; called Gajar-ka-Halwa; or Gajrela, as it was known in the Punjabi families around us.   Between the four of us, we probably bought a kilo of gajar (carrots) everyday, for the entire season. And as far as I can remember, we were never out of gajar-ka-halwa for as long you could buy carrots at a reasonable price.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yay!!! Uh Oh......Oh well- Holi Hai!!

Yay!!! This is my 100th post!! Never thought I'd reach this far.  It's taken me a good 3 yrs. (well, almost) to make it here.  Ever since my last post when the counter pointed that my 100th was coming- I've been thinking about what I want this post to be about. I wanted it to be just about itself. A milestone. An excitement. I thought about host an event to mark this event. Then I thought about hosting a giveaway of some sort. All that thinking....with zero ideas. I couldn't come up with any themes for an event; and I couldn't figure out how the heck to host a giveaway either.

All that thinking....and my birthday came up (it was this past Monday). Till the day before, I was so looking forward to it. A milestone birthday...of sorts. I was going to do something special, and blog about it. A milestone; and a milestone. Makes good blogging....Then came Monday- and my mood came crashing down.  In case you're done snickering at me by now, let me tell you...it's not easy celebrating milestone b'days. Especially not if you're gonna be stepping on the other side of the line. ...if you're going to enter a phase of life that isn't what now is. (Hope you get my drift. I'm definitely not going to tell you how old I actually turned this week. But I will tell you that  from now on, my b'day clock counts down....).  A brought me my most expensive gift to date (not counting the big rocky studs..or the car he's bought me ...those I think should have come earlier than they actually did).  And I haven't even looked at that awesome bag that he gave me this time- that's how mad I am that this birthday of mine actually did come up. Oh....well!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eggless vanilla Sponge Cake- for bookmarked recipes

Baking is not something that comes to me naturally- I am tempted to try on everything that I read about, but am too much of a chicken to do. What does appeal to me a lot are the eggless recipes.  
A and the kids eat eggs, and I am pretty impartial to using eggs in baking. But if I can lay my hands on any eggless recipes, I am absolutely eager to try them out. My main incentive being that my MIL comes to visit, and eggs get banned out of the kitchen, I can still sustain the kids hankering for a home-baked cake. I recently came across this recipe for an eggless  sponge cake that I had to try. I made this on Sunday to take to for the kids after-class-snack in Hindi school. As fate would have it, we missed Sunday Class (they changed venue quite suddenly), and I was left with a cake, but no kids!! My girls, a friend (one of the hindi class kids' mom)  and I polished off half the cake and I brought back the remaining to A.  He wolfed it down in less time than it took to mix the batter :-))

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Holiday Fudge- for Black & White Wednesday.

Our next door neighbors are the sweetest, most adorable, couple ever. Ever since we moved into this house five years ago, they've been our family away from home for us. Little thoughtful things that they do for us - like moving the trashcan out of the driveway, watching out for Anya if we're running late coming back from work, even helping us fix our old house as needed has pretty much made them absolutely indispensable to us. Seeing them potter around their home (and ours),  it is hard to believe that they're on the other side of their 80's. 

Mrs. L brought me her first box of fudge on Christmas eve 2006. I didn't think much of it then, except that it looked so pretty. She'd arranged the evenly cut pieces into an alternating pattern of dark and white chocolate fudge; and wrapped up the white box with a cute red and green ribbon.  Then I tasted it....and it tasted even better than it looked. I've been hounding Mrs. L for her recipe ever since. But she refuses to share. Apparently, one of her sons owns a restaurant; and this fudge is a highlight of his menu. He made Mrs. L promise not to give the recipe to anyone else.  But she makes up for it by giving me a box, sometimes two, for Christmas every year.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Diwali party: starring Kesari Phirni!!

It's the season again. If we've just started thinking about Dussehera in past tense, can Diwali be far behind? The countdown to India's brightest festival has begun: clean and shine.
Meet and greet.
Feast and diet.

Lost and found!!
I'm talking about this picture now, if you're wondering. This picture from last year's Diwali season resurfaced a couple weeks ago as I was cleaning up my desktop to make a move out of my then-job. As I looked at the picture, I remembered how proud I'd been the day I clicked this. It was for a Diwali potluck at A's friend's. I

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sinfully sweet: Shakkarpara for Dusshera

Oftentimes, my everyday life is accented by memories of past that flash out of nowhere. I am, where I was in a different avatar long ago, and I just want to turn the clock back and be what I was and do what I did then. At times, this happens because I'm missing those days. More often than not, I feel like I want my children to experience the little things in life that marked my childhood. And never does this desire hit me harder than during the traditional Indian Holidays, when I think about the celebrations as they used to be - the sights, the sounds and the smells that ushered in our Holidays.