Almond Burfi (fudge)

In India, burfi, similar to fudge, is usually served at special occasions, festivals or at a wedding. There are many variations to making burfi but when I came across the recipe below, it seemed simple to make because it is baked (versus cooked on the stove as you would do with candy or fudge).

For this recipe, I decided to try using almond meal (which I bought from Trader Joe’s) versus blanching and grinding the almonds which is a time consuming process. I also added almond extract to the recipe which brings out the almond flavor. This is a great sweet to make for anyone who is gluten-free!

IMG_3591Ingredients

  • 1  1/2 cup almond meal (or cashew meal)
  • 1/4 cup cream of wheat (or sooji)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup carnation milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom powder (optional)

Preparation

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9″ x  9″ pan or line with parchment paper so it is easy to remove from pan.

Beat the eggs, add the remaining ingredients and mix together. The mixture will be a little stiff. add to prepared pan.

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Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool for about 10 minutes, remove from pan and cut into squares or diamonds.

Garnish with a few chopped slivered almonds if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kulfi (Indian Ice-cream)

 

Kulfi is traditionally made from just milk, simmered down for hours and poured into this typical conical mold pictured here, and frozen.

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My favorite quick and easy recipe uses evaporated and condensed milk to make it rich and creamy. Any shape of popsicle mold or even a ice cube tray will work.

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Ingredients

1  14-ounce can condensed milk

2  12-ounce cans evaporated milk

8 ounces whipping cream

1/2 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts or almonds

1 teaspoon crushed saffron  (optional)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cardamom powder  (optional)

Preparation

Add all the ingredients together in a large bowl, and beat with a hand mixer till the liquid is well blended.

Pour into the molds.  Freeze overnight.

Dip into water water to remove from the molds just before serving.

Slice and serve with additional nuts if desired.

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Note: I personally do not like my Kulfi very sweet but if you prefer it sweeter, reduce the evaporated milk to only 1 can.

Mango Condensed Milk Souffle

With the holiday season around the corner, this soufflé is the perfect dessert for parties since it’s easy, delicious, and you can prepare it ahead of time.

In addition to Indian and Mexican grocery stores, you can find canned mango pulp in regular supermarkets as well.

 

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Mango Condensed Milk Souffle

14-ounce can mango pulp

3/4  can condensed milk

1  cup whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks.

1 package unflavored gelatin, soaked in 2 tablespoon cold water for 5 minutes

1/2 cup half and half, or whole milk

1/2 cup toasted almonds or walnuts, chopped  (optional)

CRUST:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter.

Press into a 8″ x 8″ baking dish. Bake for 8- 10 minutes. Cool.

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Heat the gelatin mixture in the microwave oven for 5-10 seconds till the gelatin has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Cool.

Mix together the mango pulp, condensed milk, milk and the dissolved gelatin. Stir the mixture till it is well blended.

Fold in the whipped cream.

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Pour into crust and refrigerate to set.

Garnish with chopped nuts just before serving.

Serves 10.

 No crust option: Pour the soufflé mixture directly into the dish and refrigerate.

 

Baklava Rolls

A friend recently asked me to help her make Baklava for her son’s wedding as I had made it many times in the past. It might look difficult to make but it’s pretty simple, and also freezes well… so it is the perfect pastry for a big event!  Since I know another friend who makes them quite often, I called her to compare our recipes and in addition, got a few extra tips from her.

I typically prefer to use the Athens brand of filo(or phyllo) dough which has 2 sealed packets of rolls so if I don’t need a large quantity I can halve the recipe. (There are other brands which come in long rolls with only one sealed packet.) IMG_1749Its easier to roll up the pastry, versus making the traditionally shaped baklava.  I froze the baklava in the cookie tray that I baked them in, covered with heavy duty aluminum foil.  When ready to use them, simply thaw out and arrange the pieces on your serving platter.

Ingredients

1 package of filo dough, thawed
3 cups shelled walnuts, pulsed in a food processor (not too fine or coarse)

IMG_17363/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
4 ounces (1 stick of butter) melted till the solids separate out (or ghee)

Syrup:

1 1/4 sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lime juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. Use a cookie sheet with sides, and brush the entire pan with butter.

Remove 2 sheets of filo pastry, (keep the remaining pastry sheets covered by a damp cloth) brush very lightly with butter.IMG_1739

Fold the pastry in half, and then take about 2 tablespoons of the nut mixture and place it along one side.

IMG_1741Roll the pastry up tightly. Brush again with butter and stack along the width of the cookie sheet. Continue with the remaining pastry sheets.IMG_1742

Trim the ends and score into 5 to 6 pieces along the entire length (not cut cutting all the way through). As you can tell, I completely forgot to trim the ends before baking to make it look neater!IMG_1737

Bake for 25 minutes until the rolls are medium brown. While baking, make the syrup.

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Syrup:

Place the sugar, water, honey and lime juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar has melted. Continue to simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Pour the hot syrup over the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. When cool remove to serving platter. (If freezing, cover with heavy duty aluminum foil) Garnish with extra chopped walnuts.

Makes about 144 rolls. IMG_1747

Ricotta Rasmalai


I started cooking much more and looking for quick and easy recipes soon after I moved to the US, 40 something years ago! One of the easiest dessert recipes I came across back then was Rasmali made with ricotta cheese.  I’ve found that it is easy to pair with Indian or Western food.

It’s a simple summer dessert as it is light and also delicious with strawberries, blueberries or peaches. Depending on your preference you can vary the amount of sugar that you use.  It is also a great recipe to make in advance as it is best eaten chilled.

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Ingredients

16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese

3/4 – 1  cup sugar

1-2 cups half and half

chopped almonds for garnish

Fruit (optional)

 

Preparation

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the sugar. Spread in a 8″ x 8″ pyrex dish or cake pan.

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Bake for 45 minutes till it is light brown.

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Cool. Cut into squares and add the half and half. Refrigerate.

Serve with chopped almonds and fruit if desired.

Easy Hyderabadi Speciality Dishes

A few weeks ago I was visiting family in Hyderabad.  It was a month of fun and relaxation, not to forget the “eating” which always goes along with my holiday. Just before I left we went to the Secunderabad Sailing Club at Hussain Sagar, a large lake in the middle of the city. It is one of the largest man-made lakes in Asia, and quite unique for such a large metropolitan city in India (especially one with almost 7 million people!).

The Sailing Club’s lunch buffet had a large variety of typical Hyderabadi dishes. While enjoying all the food I realized how time-consuming all these dishes were to make and they are usually made for weddings or special occasions. This got me thinking as to how I could simplify making them in America and came up with short cuts for three of the dishes.  The first one is Dham Murg Masala, (baked masala chicken), Tomato Kut (tomato gravy with boiled eggs) and Double Roti Ka Meeta (Indian Bread pudding) If you have the basic Indian spices on hand, these are so simple to make, they can be made as part of an everyday meal or for a party.

Dham Murg Masala (Baked masala chicken)

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into 2″ pieces
3 medium onions, thinly sliced (or  1/2 cup fried onions from the Indian grocery store)
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts or almonds
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (cayenne pepper)
1 1/2  teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1/2 – 3/4 cup yogurt (preferably greek yogurt)
1/4 cup lime juice
1″ cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder)
3 whole cloves (or 1/8 tsp clove powder)
3 whole cardamom (or 1/8 tsp cardamom powder)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup mint leaves chopped fine
2-3 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup hot milk (optional)
pinch saffron (optional)

Preparation

IMG_1282If you don’t have fried onions, then simply fry the sliced onions in oil until golden brown. Put the onions in the blender with the next 13 ingredients, blend until the mixture is smooth.  Add this marinade to the chicken. Mix well and set aside for a few hours or overnight.

Add the cilantro and mint to the chicken and stir until well mixed. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a 9″x 13″ baking dish, add 1 tablespoon oil to the bottom of the pan, and spread the chicken. Drizzle the remaining oil over the chicken.  If using milk and saffron , steep the saffron in the milk for 5 minutes and pour over the chicken.

Cover the dish with heavy duty foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.

Tomato Kut (Tomato gravy with eggs)

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Ingredients

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1 tbsp oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole red chillies
2 cans condensed tomato soup
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp peanuts , ground
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chili powder (cayenne)
1 tbsp brown sugar (or molasses)
3 tsp sesame seeds, dry roasted and ground
4 large eggs, hardboiled, cut in half

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Preparation

Heat oil a large saucepan over medium high heat. When oil is hot add the mustard seeds and as they start to splutter add the red chillies.

 

Add the remaining ingredients  to the pan (except the brown sugar and eggs). Simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the brown sugar continue to simmer for a few more minutes.

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Pour the tomato mixture into a serving bowl and add the eggs. Enjoy!

 

 

Double Roti Ka Meeta (Indian Bread Pudding)

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Ingredients
5 slices white bread (Pepperidge Farm) trim crusts
2 tablespoon butter
2 cups half and half
1 cup whole milk
4 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped fine
whipping cream

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

Toast the bread till light brown and butter the slices. Cut the slices into 3 pieces and arrange the bread in the baking pan.  Scald (bring to boil) the half and half and milk. Add the sugar and saffron. Stir till sugar is dissolved and steep for 5 minutes.

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Add about 3/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the beaten eggs, stirring well .( this is done in stages as the hot milk can scramble the eggs if all the milk is added at once.) Add in the remaining milk. Pour over the bread slices in the dish.  Place this dish into a larger baking dish. Pour in boiling water into the larger dish until the water comes up half way.

Bake for 40 minutes till a skewer comes out clean.  Serve with toasted almonds and whipping cream.

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