Without much ado, here it goes. A sure winner in Diwali Mithai list!
Prep time : 15 min Cooking time : 10 min Setting time : 1 hr Yield : 15- 20 pieces
Chopped Dates : 2 cups
Chopped Nuts : 3/4 cup ( mix of cashews, pistachios and walnuts)
Poppy seeds / Khus -Khus : 2-3 Tbsp.
Clarified Butter / Ghee : 1.5 tsp.
Chop the dates ( I used the sticky seedless kind) to yield about 2 cups of the chopped quantity. About 20-25 dates would yield this depending on the size and quality of the dry fruit.
Run it in the blender. This is going to be a slightly sticky mass. Do not over process it or add any liquid to this.
In a wok or non stick kadai, toast the poppy seeds on medium heat and keep aside. An easier option would be to nuke it in the microwave for about a min.
Also toast the nuts for a min or two. The result is 2 pronged – you get the crunch in the nuts and get rid of the raw edge of it too. Again do not over process it. Remove it and keep aside.
Next add in the 1.5 tsp. of ghee or clarified butter and add in the blended dates. Please process this on medium heat for about 5 min or so. You will notice the darkening in the color of the dates and a heavenly fragrance too.
Add in the nuts at the stage.
Make sure the nuts are distributed throughout the dates base. Now depending on the freshness of your dates, you might need to add in a teaspoon more of the ghee to bind it all together if required.
Turn off the heat and remove on to a parchment paper lined plate.
Let it cool for just a minute and roll out into logs of your desired thickness.
Coat it with the toasted poppy seeds and set it in the fridge for about an hour.
Remove, slice the logs to yield thick wedges of this .
Result is a delicious slice of dates and nuts without any added sugar!
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 !
Saffron Kalakkand – Quick and Easy Cheese and Milk Fudge with Saffron and nuts
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!!!
The festival of lights, can be the occasion to indulge in quite a few calorie laden and very rich as in very fattening sweet meats or mithai. Indulging in wisely is the key, otherwise we find our hearts lighter and the scale heavier by the end of the festive season. This particular dessert is the rule breaker. This is so rich and wonderful in taste, that we almost miss the fact that this has no added sugar – gasp, seriously no added sugar or fat to the fudge. Oh my! These can be quite addictive . They are such a delish to make and absolutely wonderful to indulge in. And they are truly versatile. You can add in any kind of nuts and dried fruits you like. The two main key ingredients forming the base are figs and pitted dates. Just make sure you get these in, and let your imagination take over. Prep time : 15 minCooking time About : 15 minYield : 36-40 fudge pieces/ ladoos
Ingredients : ( For measurements , I used the standard pyrex glass measure. Not very accurate I suppose, but served the purpose nevertheless.)
Dried figs : about 2 whole cups
Pitted dates : 1 cup. Finely chopped.
Mixed Raw Nuts : walnuts,almonds, pistachios and cashews : 1.5 cups total – Finely chopped
Flavorless oil or ghee : 2 tbsp.
Few strands of saffron
Crushed cardamom pods – 6 nos.
In a large sauce pan, boil about 3 cups of water. Dunk in the dried figs, so they soften and rehydrate. The process should take about 10 min. Note you are not boiling the figs. Just added the figs to the hot boiling water and keep it covered.
Once the figs are softened, puree them in a blender.
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably non stick one, add just a tbsp of the fat of your choice to grease the pan.
Add in the pureed figs and cook on medium heat for about 7- 10 minutes. By now the gooey mass of fig puree would be supremely sticky.
Add in the crushed saffron strands and cardamom pods at this stage if using.
Mix well and turn off the heat.
Add in the chopped dates and nuts and stir well. You should have a nice mass of fruit and nut mixture by now. ( Note : If you think it is not in a thick mass, by all means heat up the mix again for a few minutes. usually 5 more minutes should do the trick.)
Meanwhile take a baking tray of your choice, or a thin rimmed platter should do the trick as well and grease it with the remaining tbsp of fat of your choice.
Add in the dry fruits and nuts mixture and pat it down so it can set in evenly.
Let it rest for a few minutes say about 5-7 minutes , and with a greased or ceramic knife cut in the squares or patterns of your choice.
Let it set in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
Dish out the pieces and enjoy .
Roll up the pieces to form spherical balls or ladoos for variety. Also, please do note that these are soft set fudge .
Verdict: Awesome ! The crunch from the figs, the sweetness of the dates, the nutty indulgences all makes this a royal dessert. Go ahead and indulge. This one is definitely worth it!
And bang it begins. Amidst all the craziness of kids being kids, Halloween parties and older one’s FLL meetings, I craved for “me” time. Usually it would mean that I would slink away with a book to my room . It has a nice cozy spot overlooking the backyard and I would love watching the birds and the occasional deer that would venture out nearer. Sometimes it would mean trying to look for the “yet – to bloom-leaf” on the apple tree or simply purging stuff from the closet. Any and all of the above is done with music. It is amazing how many cues I can give . MS Subbalakshmi soothes my soul and AR Rahman might perk me up. But Ilayaraja can give me company anytime on my “me” time and punk music accompanies me when I am scrubbing things out. But today was different. It has been a crazy day so far and I yearned to make something which required minimal ingredients, but gave great results. In simple words, I was looking for instant gratification – amazing results with minimal effort for Diwali preparations:-)
All of my kids love kaju katlis. But seriously I craved for the melt in the mouth kind of ones. I mean kaju katlis are wonderful, but i just wanted that extra crunch and bite in my mithai this time. So in mash-mash of requirements with simplicity as the theme, here we have Mom’s favorite nut burfi.
Prep time : 10 min
Cook time : 30-40 min
Yield : about 36-40 burfis ( depending on the size). Caution : constant sampling will cause zero yield.
Raw cashew nuts, coarsely powdered : 2.25 cups
White sugar : 2 cups
Water: 2 cups
flavorless oil or 2 tsp ghee to coat the plate or baking pan in which you would pour out the fudge to settle.
Coarsely powder the raw cashew nuts to yield about 2.25 cups of yield.
In a large, thick bottomed pan add in the sugar and water and let it boil to create sugar of single thread consistency. I just maintained the heat in medium flame and this was achieved in about 12-15 minutes.
Add in the coarsely powdered cashews and stir in to avoid lumps.
The gooey, bubbling mass of goodness will soon thicken and will sort of roll in . I altered the heat setting s between low – medium as I did not want to brown the bottom of the burfi.
In about 10-15 minutes or so you would notice the mixture leaving the sides of the pan and sort of come together. If in doubt stir in a bit longer.
Now dump out the contents on your greased setting surface, even out the top layer using a greased flat spatula and using a greased knife, cut in the still hot burfi mass to yield desired shapes. The burfi should set in about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut.
Cool it to room temperature and store in an airtight container.
The cashew nuts powder easily at room temperature.
I used a nonstick heavy bottomed pan, therefore no grease was used in the cooking process.
Cut in the squares or diamond shapes quickly before the fudge settles in. Obviously you are not going to be successful, if it hardens .
Using a square baking tray will give you uniform pieces. But I just wanted mine to have diversity.
I was running ragged between the kids and their classes ! Yep! During such moments of insanity that creep in albeit briefly is born the desperate sense of recipe development and sense to accomplish a thing or two .. more like a stress buster. You see , I was the kind to clean up my room before the exam fever [pitched is high. I had to de stress and often cleaning organizing and making lists would be on my hit list. Somehow a visual task list with hit list of things to do would create a sense of order in the chaotic turbulence that prevails within me. And I have been ragged royally on it as well.. my cousins and sisters in spirit Anu and Kris have perfected the art!
And out of sheer desperation in purging out things from the pantry I noticed that I had one too many cans of condensed milk ( apparently I did shopping without a list, Tsk Tsk ) and a bag of desiccated coconut flakes ( which of course snuck into my pantry cause I could not find decent coconuts once upon a time in NC when I desperately needed one. Sigh! Hence decided a packet or two of desiccated coconut flakes with a rehydration experiment should work . To cut a long story short and chemistry theories aside I had an extra packet of this). And there was an impending urgency in me to create something that was not assaulting my kids blood level with tons of sugar. (Really, have you noticed a 5 year old on a sugar high. Know those bouncy balls? My youngest could put it to shame. And my middle one, she can talk nonstop on it for hours. My oldest though is strangely immune to outburst of these kind, but his witty , sarcastic one liners reach new high . Go figure!). Notice how DH is not in the picture, cause somehow globetrotting on work seem to throw up an invisible shield around him ( sarcasm folks !). May the force be with him ! Anyway I did manage to save a few for him.
Fat Free condensed milk – 14 oz
Unsweetened Desiccated coconut flakes – 3-3.5 cups depending on the store brand and quality
Cardamom pods : 6-8 – roughly pounded
Saffron a few strands
Melted butter or ghee – 1 tbsp to coat your hands when you make those ladoos and to grease the baking pan
In a heavy bottomed ban, add in the condensed milk and 3.5 cups of desiccated coconut flakes and mix well. Add in the powdered cardamom pods and saffron.
On medium heat in about 8-10 minutes, you will notice the mixture clumping together.If at this stage you notice that the condensed milk has not bound in the flakes and you still feel it a bit more liquify, add in more coconut flakes. About 1/4 cup or so.
Once the desiccated coconut flakes absorb in the milk and sugar from the condensed milk and is more softer to touch , it will be in very thick fudge consistency.
Scoop it out in a greased 8 by 8 inch baking pan. Flatten the surface using the spatula and parchment paper.
While it is cooling down, slice it up. ( chilled mine in the refrigerator . What can I say, I am impatient !)
You can serve it as fudge slices or soft burfis at this stage.
To make Ladoos, grease your palms well, pick up a sliced buffi piece and roll it into those pillowy soft balls of goodness.
Roll in a cup of desiccated coconut after that to give the effect and texture.
Don’t have desiccated coconut flakes? Use fresh. It will take a bit longer to get to the fudge consistency in the cooking time, but hey it will be worth it.
Don’t have unsweetened coconut flakes, try the mildly sweeter version. The condensed milk has enough sugar to offset the unsweetened flakes. This version would have a little more sugar in the punch. But, hey then again, each one’s taste – o – meter for sugar tolerance and requirement varies.
Don’t have coconut flakes? try coconut powder instead. But just make sure they rehydrate well.
Want to add in nuts? feel free. Almonds, Pistachios and more…
How about dried fruits? Go on try what comes to your mind, raisins, cranberries , dates…