Saffron Kalakkand – Quick and Easy Cheese and Milk Fudge with Saffron and nuts

Fresh, dewy eyed and eyes full of spark a young lady landed on the shores of opportunity in the land of the grand USA some 16 plus years ago. While the young lady has progressed in age , thoughts and wisdom, marked by the appearance of few strands of gray ( honestly, truly, I noticed 5 in total),the spark ala dimmed a bit, but still bright I hope nonetheless.

One of the first people I met, was a happy foodie couple in Boston. At that point, A1 was yet to put in an appearance, and I was happy to meet people ( ignorant of any of the pyramid scheme trap and happily oblivious as well ). While the “come over for tea” turned into recruiting for the scam/scheme and I could not wait to get out faster, I did notice these gorgeous milk burfi’s. I also did sneak in more than one. Hey if I had to sit in and listen to all that yakking on gold and gorgeous things within arm’s reach, might as well do it with some indulgence.

In any case, today on father’s day DH was in a bit of a mood. Happy smiley face, clean counters, dishes done, emptying dishwasher and more. Well no complaints, cause I love this mood. A nice card, a self bought “surprise” on the homey , techy, front and great family time. And I decided to do something that so grandly resembled hours of labor while actually needing a few min of microwave time. The best part was I did not need to hunt for the ingredients. My awesome neighbor/ friend/ b – partner decided to donate to me 3 huge tubs of Ricotta cheese before her trip to India. 2 Thumbs up! I suppose more Ricotta cheese recipes need to be made now!

This has been the perfect day and weekend is done ! But hey summer holidays on and no school tomorrow.. Which means more staying up for the kids.. Love this !

#FDMenu

Saffron Kalakkand – Quick and Easy Cheese and Milk Fudge with Saffron and nuts

Ingredients:

  • Low Fat or Part Skim Ricotta Cheese – 16 oz
  • Non fat Condensed Milk – 14 oz
  • Saffron strands : a pinch
  • Cardamom Pods – 1/2 tsp
  • Pistachios – 6
  • Almonds – 10
  • Ghee or melted butter: 1 tsp to serve as grease

 Method:

 Prep work :

  • In a spice grinder, add in the saffron strands and cardamom seeds and fine grain powder these without adding water.

 Prep work 2:

  • Finely chop the pistachios and almonds in a food processor or spice grinder.

Process:

  • In a microwave safe glass bowl or container, mix the Ricotta Cheese and the Condensed Milk well. I used a wire whisk to break out the lumps and completely homogenized the mix. Took about 5 min or so
  • Cook in the microwave for about 12 minutes uncovered. Keep an eye out for the bubbling mix. Stop and scrape the edges and re-do this process. I did this step in about 5 stage intervals of 3 : 3: 2:2:2 min cooking . I suppose you can go all out and cook in lower intervals, but I just needed to keep a clean microwave oven. No spill mess 🙂
  • Next microwave covered for about 6 min or so. Stop every 2 min , scrape the sides stir and continue.
  • Just before the final 2 min stage add in the cardamom and saffron mix. Cook for a final 2 min. The heat in the cooked milk fudge will release the flavor or the saffron and cardamom and you will see the beautiful color of the saffron permeating the fudge mix.
  • The final stage should resemble soft crumbly mix . Slightly wet and moist mix would be the ideal stage to stop the cooking process.
  • In a square serving container , grease the bottom with ghee or melted unsalted butter. Go easy the grease part. The idea is for easy release of the pieces not to drench it !
  • Pour in the hot fudge mix in the prepped container with grease and add in the crushed nuts mix on the top and pat down to resemble an even surface.
  • Cover and allow to set in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
  • Cut into beautiful squares and serve!
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Kesar Thandai Kulfi – Creamsicles (Whipped Frozen Glory)

Mild migraines and IPL not withstanding, today was a day filled with general anarchy in the routine. It’s almost like a day where you want to do something, but the little devil voice in your  head nags and prods you to look somewhere else. So while the little Tom and Jerry war was happening, yours truly decided to take advantage of the blink and miss spring and summer weather and  honed in on a recipe from a really fun food group .. Thanks AJ and SR from Epicurean Delights . This recipe was adapted and modified from there. Here’s to happy indulging …

Quick recipe Rundown:

  1. In a large sauce pan empty the 2 containers of evaporated milk and add in the 2 tsp of thandai mix well.
  2. Stir well on low – medium heat so the flavors of the thandai mix are steeped in well. You do not have to bring it rolling boil, but definitely allow the flavors to steep in.
  3. Keep it aside for say about 20 min or so to let the concoction to cool down.
  4. Filter the cooled down milk into a large mixing bowl. The idea is to remove the large granular thandai mix masala from the milk mixture.
  5. To this add in the can of condensed milk and two tubs of cool whip or any whipped cream of your choice.
  6. Whip it up very well on medium highhand held machine.
  7. Fold in the crushed saffron stands and crushed cardamom pods and pour into popsicle moulds or any freezer safe moulds of your choice.
  8. Should freeze in under 4 hrs.
  9. Enjoy!

 

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!!