Gajar Ka Halwa without butter, cream or ghee

Just made the first Gajrela of the season without using any butter, cream or ghee and wanted to share the less fattening recipe with you all. Here is the recipe for my gajar ka halwa.

Ingredients

1/2 kg carrots, grated by the maid
2 liters milk, courtesy the ration
1/2 tin milkmaid, from the canteen
50 gms cashew nuts ground in the mixer to powder

Method

1. Boil the milk then cool it off. I left it overnight in the fridge. Then in the morning I removed the cream on top and set it to boil again. This is when I added the grated carrots.
2. Reduce the flame and let it simmer till the milk is almost evaporated. This is a long process and will take the better part of the morning. Set aside at least two hours for this and keep stirring the halwa so that nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pan.
3. Now add the sweetened condensed milk and stir it in well. Most of the moisture would have evaporated by now and the mixture will be a bit sticky and fluid.
4. Add the cashew nut powder and mix it well. The halwa will absorb the powder and there you go. Its ready to serve.

One of the reasons I powder the dry fruit is because my boys don't want to chew on them. If your family prefers the crunchy taste of roasted dry fruit, feel free to add them.

Hope you enjoy your Gajar ka Halwa!

Mushroom-shaped Chocolate Cupcakes in Microwave

I made these cupcakes last month but didn't get around to posting the recipe. These chocolate cupcakes have a distinct mushroom shape and look really cute. I also added a healthy twist by using a mixture of atta and maida rather than just using maida. I know there's a friend who is still waiting for this recipe so here goes.



Ingredients
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup maida
1/2 cup atta
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs


Method

1. Beat cream and sugar together with hand blender till thick.
2. Add eggs and beat some more till smooth.
3. Sieve maida, atta, cocoa powder and baking powder together.
4. Add to the eggs and cream mixture. Fold using spoon.
5. Set out your cupcake shells and fill them up almost to the top. (if you don't want the mushroom shape just fill them in half way)
6. Put into the microwave with a couple of inches to spare between them.
7. On high power bake for 3 minutes. Let them stand for another 10 minutes.
8. Ready to eat!


This is a simple recipe and barely takes half an hour from start to finish. I didn't ice these cup cakes as they were already a gooey chocolate flavour.

Healthy Edible Spoons

If you enjoy serving canapes at your parties you may like to consider making these healthy edible spoons made out of atta and sooji. You can use them to serve chat, paneer bhurji, or even chicken kheema. My son enjoys eating them just the way they are. Here's how you can make these


Ingredients

1and half cup Atta (wheat flour)
Half cup Sooji
2 tablespoons oil /ghee
Salt to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)
Little water to bind dough
Oil to deep fry

Method

1. Knead all the ingredients together into a stiff but pliable dough.
2. Roll it out and use a fork to poke holes in it.
3. Cut with a knife into pieces large enough to cover the bowl of the spoon and a bit of the stem.
4. Press the dough down on the back of the spoon. Then cut away any extra dough on the sides using your knife.
5.Now shape the dough spoon with a little curve in the bowl and deep fry it in oil.
6. Repeat the process with the entire dough. You will have to gather up the ends and roll them into a ball again.
Now you can let these edible spoons cool off and store them in an air tight container. (I've kept them for three days now and they are doing fine.)
Snack on them with whatever filling you like.

Homemade Balushahi

Balushahi is one of those less popular Indian sweets that I always considered would be difficult and tedious to make. It was also my Dad's favourite sweet as a child. So when I finally got hold of a recipe that seemed quite simple to follow I managed to try it out. It turns out that the balushahi is not much different from a doughnut. Here is what you will need to make them.

Ingredients

For Balushahi Dough

1 and half cup plain Flour (maida)
1/4 cup Ghee or oil (I used homemade ghee)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Curd
Pinch of salt
1teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
Oil to deep fry

For Sugar syrup

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder (Hari elachi)


Method

1. Mix the flour with sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the curd and ghee. Mix well and then pour in the water to make the dough. It should be not too sticky but not too stiff either.
2. Leave the dough for 15 minutes to rise. You can either cover it with a wet cloth or bung it into clingfilm.
3. Use this time to make the sugar syrup. Just add all ingredients to a vessel and boil till done.
4. Once the dough has had some time to ferment knead it lightly and make small balls out of it.
5. Heat up the oil and fry the balls on low to medium heat to ensure that the insides cook.
6. Drain on tissue paper.
7. Soak in sugar syrup and leave it for 2 minutes. You may want to flip them over once to soak properly. (Keep sugar syrup on low heat during the soaking process)
8. Remove them from the sugar syrup and they are ready to serve.

Super Fruit Pudding

This was a super fast assembly pudding once you had all the ingredients in place. My son loved it and so did the guests we had over for lunch. For once it was not a chocolate based pudding and so even I enjoyed cooking it. It can become difficult to drum up enthusiasm for chocolate when all you ever seem to bake at home is chocolate cake and muffins. This pudding thankfully has absolutely no chocolate!
Ingredients

Basic Vanilla Cake
1 Kiwi fruit - finely sliced
Strawberry Coulis (recipe below)
1 packet Whipping Cream (I used tropolite but you can use whatever you like)
Milk for soaking

Method
 
1. I baked the cake in the same dish I assembled the pudding - (For the Basic Cake recipe click here. Its the second recipe on the page.)
2. Then I sliced it in half so that I could get two layers of cake for the pudding.I used milk to soak them and keep them soft.
3. Then I placed the first layer of cake in the dish and added one layer of Stawberry Coulis.

4. Placed another layer of cake on that and again layered it with Strawberry Coulis.
5. This was followed by a layer of whipped cream and then I made a nice little lattice design with the coulis. Which I later filled in with some kiwi fruit.
The recipe for the Strawberry Coulis

1. I got three boxes of fresh strawberries and removed the leaves. Washed them and left them to dry out.
2. Then I chopped them up and added them to a bowl along with some sugar. Use about on fourth the quantity of sugar as compared to the strawberry. I used one small cup.
3. After letting the juices run for about half an hour I transferred the bowl to the fire and cooked for about two to three minutes till all the sugar had dissolved.
4. I waited for the mix to cool down and then transferred it to the grinder to roughly paste it.
5. In the end I added a teaspoon of lemon and mixed it in well with the strawberry paste.

This mixture can be cooled and stored in the fridge for up to a week.



Coffee and Chocolate Tiramisu Recipe

Since my husband is quite fond of Tiramisu I tend to make it fairly often since a good friend of mine taught me how to make it at home. This time round when I made it I decided to do a post on it.
First I baked a regular chocolate cake. You can use the Chocolate Cake recipe here. Then I sliced it in half, soaked it in milk and let it cool off.

 Once it had cooled off some what I plastered it with some chocolate fudge icing.
I used ready made Funfoods chocolate fudge but you can make your own fudge icing at home as well.

Then I made some mascapone cheese, which is usually not so easily available.  This is a simple homemade mascapone cheese recipe with which this exotic cheese becomes easily available at home.

You need about 200 gms of cream and two spoons of lemon juice.

Squeeze the juice of one lemon. Please ensure that no seeds or pith gets involved or the taste will be terrible!

Place the cream in a bowl on the fire and heat on medium flame for about 7-8 minutes. I used the Amul cream packet, but any cream will work. Add lemon juice to the bowl of cream.

It will sort of thicken and curdle a bit. Then leave it aside to cool. I also add a little coffee to the cream for this tiramisu to enhance the flavour.
Then the mascapone cheese was also plastered on to the cake covered with fudge layer.

Then the top of the cake was replaced and the fudge and mascapone cheese layers were again repeated.
A word of advice, you may like to make a coffee decoction with water before adding to the mascapone cheese to avoid the bits of coffee in the creamy dessert.

Check out the different layers in the Tiramisu. The top layer is a mixture of whipping cream and chocolate fudge.


See how easy it is to make! You can make it even more exotic by making the layers thinner, more work but totally worth it. You can also make the pudding in small glass cups for individual portions.
So what are you waiting for? Go try out the new recipe of the month and send me feedback on how it tasted!

Airline Themed Birthday Party

We recently attended a really fun birthday party on an airline theme. The Birthday Boy is a major fan of all things aviation, so it made sense to base the party on air crafts. Here is what the doting parents came up with.

The Invitations
Any airline journey begins with the boarding pass. So it was natural to have an invite in the shape of a boarding pass. Loved the bar codes to give it an authentic feel.

The Decorations
The walls were adorned with a world map and balloons in the shapes of different helicopters and aircrafts. The chairs were set in two lines like seats in a commercial aircraft.

The Games
Paper Plane Challenge - The children were all given rough paper to make their own paper planes. Then they had a fly off to see whose went the most distance. It was loads of fun and a whole number of innovative aircraft designs were seen.

They also had a game of musical chairs and dancing statue. Both the games are perennial favourites and went down really well with the children. Here is one game that I feel would go with an airline theme in case you are planning a similar party.

File the Flight Plan - Have four different charts with flight segments shown on each chart. Tell them the starting point and the destination. Now the children need to match the flight segments on each chart to the actual flight plan of the entire flight duration. The fastest child to come up with the completed flight plan wins.

The Food
The mother brought out her food trolley and all the in flight meal was served to the children while they were seated in twin files. The trolley coming down the aisle and the parents as pursers. It was great fun for the kids. The cake was a chocolate truffle with fondant icing, the three planes on the cake were made of gum paste and fondant and were edible, while the ones on the side were toy planes that were used for added flair! 





The Giveaways 
The unique part of the take home gift was a muffin with a fondant plane on it. This is the one that we came home with. The plastic dome cap gave it a beautiful appeal. The silver fondant aircraft was a miniature one that was placed on the chocolate muffin. 



So there you have it, an amazing airline based birthday party.

Black Forest Cake in Microwave

Its always fun to learn a new recipe or a method that you have never used before for an old one. Here I make a regular Black Forest Cake but instead of the cream or butter I usually use in baking cakes this one has refined oil. When I first saw this cake being baked by a friend of mine I was very skeptical about how soft an oil based cake would be. Happily my doubts were unjustified and the recipe was a resounding success.
Ingredients 

1 and 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
A pinch of salt
Vanilla Essence as 4-5 drops or strong as desired
3/4 cup refined oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour (maida)

Oil and flour for dusting the baking dish
Baking dish ideally made of glass or chintah
Your trusty hand mixer

Whipping Cream 1/2 cup
Soaking liquid - cherry liquor, orange juice, pineapple tin liquid, sugar water, or brandy water.

Method
1. Grind the sugar in your mixer grinder to produce castor sugar. Its easier to mix in the cake batter this way. If you have castor sugar ready to use, just use that instead of grinding any fresh.
2. Separate the whites of the eggs and collect the yolks for later use.

3. Whip up the egg whites with the pinch of salt till they begin to form soft white peaks.

4. Add the sugar gradually and keep beating. Then add in the egg yolks and beat some more.

5. Add the vanilla essence and beat some more.


6. The refined oil goes in next. Beat for another 2-3 minutes.
7. Add in the cocoa powder and mix without using the hand mixer. A spatula or spoon works best.

8. In the end we add the flour a couple of spoonfuls at a time and cut and fold it into the batter.

9. Add the oil to the baking dish and coat. Then add the flour and dust the dish nicely. Throw away and excess flour before you pour the cake batter in.
10. Bake on 'High' for 5 minutes and leave in the microwave for 10 minutes standing time.

11. Remove from the baking dish and slice into half. Now use the soaking liquid to soak the cake.

Traditionally the black forest cake uses cherry liquor however as I didn't have any handy I used brandy water instead. Please refer to the list above to other alternatives you can use if you don't want to use liquor.

12. Beat the whipping cream in a large bowl. Remember the quantity will double as you whip it.

13. Once the cake has cooled off and soaked for about 10 minutes its time to get frosting.


14. Cover the full cake with whipping cream and top off with chocolate shavings. I didn't have any cooking chocolate handy so I used chocolate sprinkles instead.



You can place the cake in layers to make it tiered but I kept them single as it was a small cake and would seem even smaller if I placed them one on top of the other.
That's all folks...

Bake Croissant in the Microwave

Hello people, have been fairly busy this year so far and so not much blogging. However I have been active in the kitchen and will be sharing some new recipes soon. Here is one for baking croissants in the microwave. I know traditionally all things bread are better done in a conventional oven or a convection oven, however having sold my oven in the previous station and now surviving with my old microwave which has not got convection I had to do some improvising. Here's how it turned out. 
Ingredients

Caster Sugar - 15 gms
Yeast - 7 gms
Warm water - 40 gms

Butter - 15 gms (room temperature)
Milk - 30 gms
Flour (Maida) - 250 gms
Salt - 5 gms
Water - 80 gms

Butter - 150 gms (frozen)
Plastic wrap - either clingfilm or ziplock pouch

Method

1. Activate the yeast - Mix the 40gms warm water into the 7 gms yeast and 15 gms castor sugar. Now keep aside for about 10 minutes till you can see the bubbles form indicating yeast is active.

2. Prepare the dough - In a nice big bowl add in the 250 gms flour (maida), the 15 gms butter, the 30 gms milk and the 5 gms salt. Add the activated yeast and mix. Then add the remaining 80 gms water. Knead well for a couple of minutes. Dust with flour and put into a plastic wrap. Transfer to fridge for 10 minutes. 

3. Remove dough from fridge and roll out. Rest of the steps with photos below.

Roll out your dough



4. The frozen butter 150 gms that was kept aside earlier is now cut up and placed on the rolled out dough.

Add the Butter

Make the book fold and roll again.

5. Return the dough to the fridge after adding the butter. Remove after 15 minutes, roll out, make the book folds again and return the dough to fridge. Repeat this process three times minimum to get the desired flaky pastry for the croissants.
 Now place in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes

6. Shaping the croissants.
Roll out a small portion

Make the cuts and keep them small

Shape out the Croissants by making a cut at the base.

Then roll them up

Till you get the regular crab shape

Place on baking tray and into the microwave

This is what they look after 10 minutes on Combination Two (Microwave plus grill)


You can make them as large or as small as you like. Incidentally if you are going to bake them in a regular oven instead of the microwave you need to preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and then add the baking tray. Reduce it to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 20 minutes by which time they will become golden brown like above.

Stuffed Croissants : You can add a little stuffing as you roll up the dough to make the crab shape. I have used sausages, butter, cheese and chocolate with success. You can feel free to experiment with more fillings and be sure to share how it worked out with me.

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