Cornflakes, Poha and Nuts Chivda – Low fat and easy !

Cornflakes and Poha( Flattened rice ) Crunchy toasted mix – Low fat with added goodness of nuts and spices to make it more interesting! Happy munching !

The first of the festivities begin with a bang!!!

DH twisted his ankle and hobbled away chauffeuring A1 for his weekly robotics meeting . You know how you think you end up having this one day of the week without classes or any social commitments ….? And just like that, that day gets picked for this weekly activity. In any case , with DH away and A2 diligently working on her myriad of school projects and A3 generally clowning away, I had this itch to do something. Quick, easy and perfect!

Usually this is the time when I head to the  “baking center of my brain” and subsequently raid the pantry and fridge in the hopes of creating something new. But now is as good a time as any to begin on the Diwali list. Ideally, I would have loved to begin with the creation of a sweet or Mithai. Kind of like beginning on a sweet note kind of thing , tradition and all,so to speak.

Well in this case, this conflakes chivda has a bit of everything – sugar and spice and everything nice.

Happy Diwali folks !

Diwali DIya
Diwali Diya

Cornflakes and Poha( Flattened rice ) Crunchy toasted mix 

Cooking time : 20-25 minutes            Prep time : 5 -8 min                    Serves : 8-10

Ingredients:

  • Unsweetened Cornflakes : 3 cups
  • Thick or thin flattened rice or Poha of your choice : 2 cups
  • Cashews : 1/4 cup
  • Roasted Channa Dal or Dhalia : 1/3 cup
  • Peanuts ( skinned or unskinned ) : 1/2 cup
  • Safflower or any oil of your choice : 6 Tsp.
  • Haldi or Turmeric powder : 1/4 Tsp.

Spice Mix:

  • Paprika or Chili powder : 1- 1.5 Tsp. (Depending on your spice tolerance)
  • Hing or Asafoetida : fine ground : 1/4 tsp.
  • Chaat masala : 1.5 tsp
  • Kari powder ( optional) : 1 tsp.
  • Coriander – Jeera powder : 1/4 tsp.
    Salt : 1- 1.25 tsp.
  • Sugar : 1-1.5 Tsp.

Procedure:

  1. In a big wok or Kadai, heat 2 Tsp. of oil and roast the nuts sequentially and set aside. Do not rush this step. They do need to get roasted to a nice brown color. Hastening this step would result in semi crunchy nuts.. Not what you need definitely! (Remove the contents and let it cool!)
  2. Add another teaspoon oil and fry the roasted Channa dal or dhalia and curry leaves ( washed and dried please!) to crisp.( Remove the contents and let it cool! )
  3. Add another teaspoon of oil and add in half of the haldi powder and add in the 2 cups of flattened rice or Poha. Slow roast this on medium flame. High flame heat will burn the Poha and leave you with an inedible mess! Roast this until all the flakes are nicely toasted and super crunchy. Should take you anywhere from 7-12 min depending on the type of the flakes and heat maintained. (Remove the contents and let it cool!)
  4. Add in the remaining oil and toss in the cornflakes with the other half of haldi powder and slow roast it again. This should take about 10-15 min. They become really crunchy and are more brown in color than the untoasted one. Again do not rush this process and ensure you are tossing the contents thoroughly to distribute the heat. (Remove the contents and let it cool!)
  5. In a separate bowl dry mix all the ingredients listed under spice mix.
  6. Once the contents of the mix have sufficiently cooled down , layer it out in big wide bowl.
  7. Add in the spice mix and gently toss it with a fork or a spoon so it coats the crunchy mix.
  8. Adding in the spice mix when it is hot, will result in sweating of the flakes and you will lose the crunchiness 🙁
  9. Make sure the contents are absolutely cool before storing in an airtight container.
  10. Should stay fresh if properly stored for about 10 days.

Veg Malai Kofta ( with Gulab Jamun mix ) – Creative conclusions of a bare pantry

Alright.. Snowed in. No fresh veggies and in absolute cranky , cabin fever mood. I mean really  I love the snow  as long as I can see it not live with it, and for me to be iced in with snow , sleet and rain is like a big Oh No! . With due apologies to folks in the NJ, NY, Chicago and Dc area etc. You see in Cary, NC, a couple of inches of snow and ice is a big thing! We don’t usually get it and when we do, we love it. But this time twice in 3 week span was a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong the first time was amazing  and we sooooo loved it. Second time ,with schools out again for another 3 days, we were so ready to be done with it.

So while the landscape resembled a Yash Chopra film, pretty snow covered grounds, a white blanket of romance awaiting those who are willing to indulge in it I suppose –  Snowman and strong forts assembled, snow angels made, snowball fights and hot cocoa.. Eventually the younglings tend to wander in from the damp cold into the warmth of the house. Their utter fascination with snow exhausted for the day and hopeful of renewing it  the next day ( unlike their mom’s – it usually lasts an hour or two with me ). But then you do need to feed the bellies.. And you want something , hot, nice, with a bit of spice ( blame it on the genes ), maybe even indulging in some deep fried stuff. And something different. And something special!

A1,2,3 all love this fare and A3 my youngest claims “kofta” is his favorite vegetable. In all honesty, necessity is the mother of invention.

Inspiration : Contents of the pantry and the fridge .

Scavenging results yield: 4 onions + 2 tomatoes + ginger + 2 potatos + few sprigs of cilantro +1 can of diced tomatoes + handful of spinach leaves + a few green chillies

And drum roll please… ” star of the show “ :  A neglected packet of MTR Gulab Jamun mix expiring in 3 months time or so.

Thinking hat on :

Gulab Jamun mix is obviously a mix of milk powder and all purpose flour with a pinch of soda bi-carb to it. It has a mild taste to it , which gets deviously delicious after soaking in flavored sugar syrup..( I mean a wallflower all dressed up, and the makeover lands her the prom queen title  kind of analogy ).

In any case, these became the faux malai koftas  of my creation.

FAQ : Prep time : 45 – 60 min ( including frying the kofta balls )  Yield : 24-36 Kofta balls  Consumption time : Instant

A. Dry Spice grind : Initial Grind

Roast all these in about a 1 tsp of oil and set it aside to cool and pulverize later on. Don’t be daunted by the ingredient list or by the exact measurements. Use your own substitutions if required.

  1. Poppy seeds : 1 tsp
  2. Elaichi or green cardamom : 4-6 . I used it in their skins
  3. Cashews – whole or broken – about 12
  4. Almonds with skin – 6-8
  5. cloves – 2
  6. cinnamon stick – 1”
  7. fennel seeds or sauf – 1/2 tsp
  8. Jeera – 1/2 tsp

Roast and grind these well into a coarse powder initially and then add a few tablespoons of water to make a thick paste of sorts in the blender.

B. The gravy aka the base :

Saute all these in  the sequential order of listing here in about 1-2 tbsp of oil and wait for it to cool down before blending to a thick , smooth chutney like consistency.

  1. finely chopped ginger – 1 inch
  2. optional : 2 cloves of garlic
  3. Onions  : 3 ( chopping these finely will make them sautéed faster )
  4. Then add in the diced tomatoes and canned diced tomatoes
  5. Sautee well till you see reduction in the mass 🙂
  6. Let it cool before you blend it into a smooth paste. No need to add water.

C. Making the Kofta balls

  1. Boil the potatoes and mash it well.
  2. To this add finely diced 2 green chillies. Remember , the spice is to tickle the palate .. not kill it.
  3. Add in 1 small onion , finely chopped as well
  4. Add in 1 inch of finely grated ginger
  5. Add 1/2 tsp of crushed kasuri methi
  6. Add in a handful of finely chopped spinach leaves
  7. Add in a few spits of finely chopped cilantro as well.
  8. Add in some salt, say about 1/2 – 3/4 tsp of it.
  9. Optional : you can add more spices or masalas to this mix at this point if you feel like it
  10. Add in the gulab jamun mix in stages to bind this . If required add in a few tablespoons of water to bind it well .
  11. Your dough should resemble a big golf ball or a couple of big golf balls depending on the base mix. See that’s the best part, this recipe is entirely scalable to your needs 🙂
  12. Make small lemon sized  ball out of this.  Remember these swell up in the gravy base, so don’t make it too big !
  13. To fry – Fry these in medium to high heat alternate settings in a flavorless vegetable oil.  You need to maintain the temp of the oil using the alternate settings  so you cook it thoroughly . You don’t want burnt kofta balls or a half cooked mess on your hands !

Final prep stages :

  • In a large non stick wide mouth saucepan or kadai , add one tsp of oil. Add in some cumin seeds and on sputtering, add in a tsp of crushed kasuri methi.
  • Add in the purred tomato onion base and the ground masala paste with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Let this boil for a min or two. Check for the salt and pieces and thickness of the gravy, You do not want it too thick or a runny base either. Most likely  you will need to add in 1/2 tsp of chili powder if you need to up the spice ante and some salt to taste. You will also notice a possible oil separation on the top layer. Turn off the stove or maintain it in low heat, until ready to serve.

 To serve: Kofta buildup

Do this just before serving dinner. Nope you cannot do it ahead of time. And if  you do it ahead of time, the kofta balls will get too mushy and soggy.

Place the required number of warm koftas in a serving bowl and add the hot gravy to it. That’s it.

No need to mix or swirl or anything else. A swirl of fresh cream can do wonders and turn this faux dish to near authentic. But honestly, drenching the balls with the gravy and garnishing it with cilantro is just good enough.

Serve it with hot phulkas and a cup of steaming basmati rice !

Lip smacking!!

 

 

Cashew Cranberry Rava ladoos – Semolina Mounds (rounds) of Festivity

I think I simply got bit by the festive bug severely. Seriously, this Diwali I seem to be favoring the creation of sweets or mithai more over the savory, spicy crunchy stuff. Maybe it has to do with the awesome piece of news I received last week. In any case, “more the merrier” seems to be the motto as I favor this creation. My oldest loves these and my youngest will eat anything that is a ladoo 🙂 the rest of the family don’t really need an excuse.

This particular mithai is super quick, no seriously super quick to make and I barely have any stove time involved in it at all.

Prep time :  15 min

Make time : about 15 – 20 min

Yield : 20-24 ladoos

Ingredients:

  1. Semolina/Cream of wheat/ Sooji/Rava : 2 cups
  2. Sugar : 1.5 cups
  3. Melted Ghee : needs to be in the warm liquid form – about 1-1.25 cups.
  4. Raw Cashewnut powder : Totally optional: 1/2 cup – I just added it in, cause I had some leftover from making Kaju Burfi.
  5. Cashewnuts pieces : 2 tbsp : toasted or pan-fried in ghee
  6. Dried Cranberries : 1 tbsp : Panfried in ghee
  7. Saffron : a few strands
  8. Cardamom pods – 10-12
  9. Milk : 2 -4 tbsp ( if required)

Method:

  • In a microwave safe bowl, add in the 2 cups of semolina and microwave it for about 5 minutes in total in 2 minute intervals. Now keep an eye on it, as you want this to be toasted not burnt. When it turns a light brown color, keep it aside to cool . Say for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Once it cools down, pulse the semolina in a blender to coarsely powder it. Add in the sugar and pulse it once again.
  • Slight heat up the saffron strands and pulse it with cardamom pods.
  • Give a final spin in the blender incorporating the semolina, sugar, saffron and cardamom and the cashew nut powder if adding it in.
  • Remove this dry mix in a work bowl and add in the toasted/ pan fried cashew nuts and  cranberries.
  • Gently mix it to ensure the nuts and berries are distributed evenly.
  • Now add in the melted ghee in liquid and warm state, a few tablespoons at a time. The idea is to gently mix in small portions and roll in to spherical globes or ladoos.  If you are having difficulty shaping the ladoos or want to restrict the use of ghee, then add in the 2 tbsp of milk and gently mix it in. the idea is to get the mix wet not soppy. If required add in the remaining 2 tbsp of milk as well.
  • Place the ladoos on a flat plate to rest and air dry. ( The ghee solidifies to maintain the spherical shape)
  • In about 15 -20 min, the ladoos should be ready to be devoured.  ( I am missing quite a few  by the time the post is done 🙂 )

Notes:

  • I did not use milk to make these ladoos. Especially since I am going to be sending a few in a care package and I did not want to reduce the shelf life.
  • Finely chopped pistachios can be added to this and it makes it even more delectable!
  • The coarseness of the semolina to be used is a personal preference.
  • I used a little under a cup of ghee to prepare the ladoos. Usage of ghee can vary depending the raw material used.

Besan Burfi -Chickpea Flour with walnuts and cashew !Fudge- o – Mania???

Here I was thinking I all but exhausted my list of goodies to be made for Diwali. I mean seriously how many goodies can one indulge in , Right?  Wrong. Apparently there are a few more up my sleeve than what I had originally envisioned. ( I think I am channeling my mom here. )

My first-born sort of wheedled the concoction based on semolina out of me yesterday. ( that post is still sitting in the drafts. I do need to post it up). And my butterfly wanted to know if I would make Mysore -Pak. Seriously this child would eat anything crunchy. She enjoys cucumbers as much as she enjoys  the  crunchy spirals I would make. But this is the one sweet, she can seriously dig into. Traditional Mysore Pak, would call for the need  to indulge in heavy ghee. No sir, no butter or flavorless oil would do. It calls for the simplest ingredients, Besan or Chickpea flour, sugar and ghee.But the last one simply cannot be compromised on.Wary of indulging in such heavy fattening matter , especially since they stick on rather fast and sort of love you so much that they refuse to come off ( Folks, I am referencing the pounds that appear on the scale here ) especially with array of mithai I have in store for the festive season. I already had walnuts in stock, and since I did not use it  my dry fruit and nut fudge thought it would be nice to have some nutritional value in this dessert.

Here’s hoping this will appease her appetite for besan based sweets, this recipe is a marriage of Southern India’s Mysore Pak and Northen India’s Mohanthal and with a host of deliberate variables introduced by yours truly!

Prep time : 15 min              Cook time : 20- 25 min or so.

Setting : 20-30 min              Yield : 36 pieces

Ingredients:

  • Chickpea Flour (Besan) – 2 cups, sifted
  • Cashew nut powdered – 1/2 cup ( optional). I used it because I had left overs from kaju burfi recipe.
  • Unsalted Butter – 10 oz ( 1.25 sticks)
  • Walnuts – 1 cup, chopped finely
  • Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Crushed Saffron strands
  • Non fat-sweetened Condensed Milk – 14 oz can
  • Chopped pistachios for garnishing – optional

Method:

  • In a heavy bottomed non-stick pan, heat the unsalted butter so it melts well and is even in tone and color.
  •  Add in the besan or  Chickpea Flour, mix well and roast on a low flame. This process will get rid of the raw smell of the chickpea flour. The aroma of this will significantly change in 15 minutes or so and it starts smelling heavenly. Please do not skimp on this step. Experience speaks folks ! You will have to deal with  raw besan fudge if you hustle to the next step. Ensure that the besan is roasted to light brown color completely.
  • On low heat setting , go ahead and  add in the Cashew nut powder if using, and then add in the  chopped Walnuts and Cardamom Powder. Make sure this is mixed very well.
  • Now add in the condensed milk and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.I would say in about 5 min or so, it should be done.
  • Immediately pour mixture onto a greased baking tray. Delay in this process will result in a mass of glop that will be hard to manage.
  • Using a sheet of parchment paper, place it over the fudge and flatten out using the bottom of a steel bowl or a flat ladle.
  • Now add in any garnishing you prefer, like chopped pistachios or halved cashews if desired.
  • Stick this mixture in the refrigerator and let it settle for about 20- 25 minutes
  • Using a greased knife, a pizza cutter or your laser beam  ( just kidding !) cut the fudge or burfi into diamond or square pieces.

Note:

I believe this recipe can be fairly adapted to making it in the microwave. I would recommend this based on my previous experiment with besan ladoos. Just make sure you stir in-between in fairly short intervals and to use a microwave safe bowl.

  • I just powdered raw cashew nuts at room temperature using a high-speed blender in pulse mode. It was done in a matter of minutes. Feel free to omit this in your preparation.
  • Please Note : This is a low-sweet, chewy, crunchy fudge  and equally delicious!!!

Besan Ladoos – Rich, Globes of heaven made in a Jiffy!

Besan ladoos.. Chick pea flour Ladoos,.. A gazillion recipes you can find if you troll the web.. What’s special about this one here?

Well,just that you can be done pretty quick using the microwave  for cooking rather than slaving over the stove ,frying the besan to get the right roast mix.

Again , did I mention, theatrics are part of this family ?  or rather the particular incident that led to delicious ladoos emerging from the kitchen of this queen.

The background:

A3 (my youngest) : “Mommy, if I eat this veggie aka broccoli, can you please make Ladoos?”

Mommy (me) :  ” You know we do not negotiate on the eating of veggies. They are good for you. They build muscles and you can be big and strong like your older brother. Or like daddy” Yada yada yada  and you know how the routine goes… As I expound the virtues of green goodness in ones’s life , I am surreptiously interrupted by ..

A3 : “Yeah , yeah.. but will you still make ladoos?” All of innocence (as much as can be mustered on an impish 4 year old’s face)  he declared “It is your anniversary. I love you mommy ! ”

Okay now, totally suckered by the charm and the demand, I decided to make a real quick ladoos , Besan aka chickpea flour Ladoos 🙂 Goodies are great, but I totally did not feel like slaving away in the kitchen for this delicacy.

Quick Pantry Check List

  1. Besan or Chickpea flour – I used the ladoo flour  – 2 cups
  2. Sugar powdered – 1 cup
  3. Clarified butter – ghee – 4 tablespoons.
  4. Chopped cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts – 1/2 cup
  5. Cardamom powder – a pinch

The procedure….Go on try it .. Its not that hard 🙂  

  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) in a microwave safe bowl on high for 2 min or so. Yep, you need to get it in the liquid state 🙂 but not the smoking hot one .
  2. Add the 2 cups of flour  to the  the melted ghee and stir in gently. Do note that stirring in gently will avoid lumps .
  3. Microwave it again on high for 3 minutes. Stir in well.and gently break ay lumps.
  4. Microwave it again for 2 minutes. Take it out and  stir again. By now the faint aroma of the besan with ghee would start wafting in your kitchen. Don’t be fooled yet! We are halfway there.
  5. Again microwave it for 5 min .. But this time in intervals of 1 min with stirring.
  6. When I took out the mix after the last interval of stirring, the Besan was nice light brown and my kitchen smelled very heavenly 🙂
  7. I added a pinch of the saffron strands( I know its customary  soak it in warm milk and then add it) but I just added here  along with the cardamom powder  and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. (Note : I did not fry these nuts in ghee or even toast them)
  8. Microwave it again for 1 min.
  9. Let it stand  for a few seconds and add  1 cup of powdered sugar to this.
  10. Mix it nice and thorough.
  11. Make ladoos or balls out of these .. Now unless you have heat proof hands, it is not wise to dig in immediately. So I say wait about 5 min!
  12. Don’t be shy as you pack these heaps of  mix into ball shapes. I actually noticed it glistening after I made sure they were a nice sphere by adding a few extra rolls in my  hands.
  13. I made about 16 medium sized balls out of these..
  14. Let it stand for a few minutes and indulge 🙂

The fine print:-)

  1. If you use the Ladoo flour from the indian grocery stores, you do get the nice crunchy texture. Say you don’t have it, don’t panic :-). Just add 2 cups  of regular Besan or chickpea flour and a tablespoon of sooji or rava (cream of wheat in coarse form) to get the crutch. I would say add it it to the very final stage of microwaving , just before the saffron and nut goodies get added.
  2. If you get lazy and do not go thorough with the entire process of frying the besan in microwave (the nice light brown color of the besan with aroma wafting ), you will still have ladoos albeit with a raw taste. Experience does wonders 🙂 (At this point author is nodding her head sagely 🙂 )
  3. I used 4 tablespoons of unmelted / softened  ghee. It will be a bit more in the volume in the liquid form.
  4. Size of the ladoos – make it smaller if you are attempting it for a party. Make more that way 🙂 sneaky .. sneaky…
  5. The sugar to besan ratio , I personally like it at this level. You  could increase it of course per your convenience, I did not try this with brown sugar. Maybe next time !
  6. Ladoos not happening???.. balls breaking off? Add more ghee or maybe you can sprinkle with warm milk – note sprinkle, not add it in!. Shelf life will be considerably lower if you do decide sprinkle with milk.

 

Cooking time : about 40 min , including the ladoo making process.

Yield : About 16-25  depending on the size of the ladoos and in this case considerably less after sampling !

Verdict : Sinful and worth the effort!

Signing off..