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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Varo (Indian Praline with Mixed Nuts), Indian Cooking Challenge, Oct 2010

Praline is a family of confections made from nuts and sugar syrup. Originally inspired in France at the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte by the cook of the 17th-century sugar industrialist, Marshal du Plessis-Praslin (1598–1675), early pralines were prepared with whole almonds individually coated in caramelized sugar, as against dark nougat, where a sheet of caramelized sugar covers many nuts.

Pralines have a creamy consistency, similar to fudge. They are usually prepared by combining sugar, butter and cream / buttermilk on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, till most of the water evaporates and they reach a thick texture with a brown color. They are then dropped by spoonfuls on a greased flat surface and left to cool to solidify into a crispy candy.

Alka suggested Sri for choosing Varo to be the recipe of Indian Cooking Challenge (ICC) for the month of October.

Varo is a kind of Indian praline with mixed nuts. Varo is a part of Sindhi cuisine, where Sindhi people make this as a Diwali special treat.

In West Bengal, we are used to Badam Chakti (Peanut Chikki / Brittle), which is a sweet preparation made from broken peanuts and jaggery. In Varo, sugar syrup is used instead of jaggery.

Sri chose two recipes for Varo, one is from Simply Sindhi Recipes and the second one is from Madhvi's Foolproof Recipes.

This was a new preparation for me. I tried the recipe from Simply sindhi recipes.

  • Mixed Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios, Cashew nuts), sliced: 1 cup
  • Dry Coconut slices: 2 tbsp
  • Poppy Seeds / Khus Khus: 2 tsp
  • Black Cardamoms, crushed: 4 -5
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Clarified Butter: 1 tbsp


  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, add butter and sugar and cook in a low flame till the sugar melts.
  2. When the sugar is caramelized to a light brown color, add the sliced mixed nuts, poppy seeds and crushed cardamoms. Stir and mix well till all the nuts are coated with the caramelized sugar evenly.
  3. Pour this mixture onto the back of a greased plate / rolling board.
  4. Flatten the mixture by using a rolling pin very quickly or else the mixture will harden as soon as it removed from heat.
  5. Score lines before the mixture begins to set, as this will make it easier to break and get uniform pieces of Varo.
  6. Leave the Varo to set for some time. Break into pieces and store in air tight containers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Punjabi Kadi with Pakora (Dahi Besan Kadi)

For the month of September, Srivalli announced a delicious dish, Punjabi Kadhi for the Indian Cooking Challenge. Thanks to Srivalli for choosing this yummy Punjabi kadi and Simran for the awesome recipe.

Kadhi / karhi is an Indian dish, specially a part of Gujarati and Punjabi cuisine, basically made up of vegetable fritters (pakodas) simmered in a spicy yogurt-based gravy containing chickpea flour (besan / gram flour) with tempering of black mustard seeds, cumin, asafoetida, dried chili peppers, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves in oil / ghee and eaten with steamed rice and roti / phulkas.

Pakoda is a common Indian snack like onion pakoda, potato pakoda, eggplant, cauliflower or chopped spinach or chilies, prepared by dipping the ingredients in batter and fried into crunchy pakodas.
Punjabi kadhi is a typical North Indian recipe made up of pakodas simmered in a thick yogurt gravy.

For Pakodas:

  • Gram flour: ¾ cup
  • Onions, sliced: 2 medium
  • Red Chilli Powder: ½ tsp (as per taste)
  • Baking Powder: ½ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water, for batter
  • White oil, for deep frying pakodas

For Kadi

  • Curd / Yogurt: 1 cup
  • Chickpea flour / Besan: ½ cup
  • Onion, chopped: 1 large
  • Mustard Seeds / Sorse: 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds / Jeera: 1 tsp
  • Carom seeds / Ajwain: ½ tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds / Methi: 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 5-6
  • Dry red chillies: 2 whole
  • Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
  • Red Chili powder: ½ tsp
  • Garam Masala powder - ½ tsp
  • Asafetida / Hing: a pinch
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Take slice onions in a bowl, crush them a little to separate the slices.
  2. Add besan and all the other ingredients except water and oil to the bowl. Mix well. Slowly add water and make a batter of semi thick consistency.
  3. Heat oil in a deep bottomed kadhai. Add a little oil in the batter and mix again.
  4. Take small amount of batter coated onions, form a round shape and slowly release the balls in the hot oil.
  5. Deep fry the pakodas, turn and cook both sides until crispy and golden brown.
  6. Drain oil and take out the pakodas, put on a paper towel to soak the extra oil. Keep aside.


  1. Blend yogurt, besan and water with a pinch of turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder to make a thin batter / buttermilk (lassi) mixture consistency. Keep it aside for half an hour before starting to make kadi.
  2. Heat oil in a kadhai, add the dry spices (mustard seeds, cumin seeds, carom seeds and fenugreek seeds) and let them splutter. Add curry leaves and dry red chilli to tadka (frying mixture).
  3. Add chopped onions and sauté them until light brown. Add the turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, salt and sauté a little more.
  4. Add the yogurt / besan (kadhi mixture) to the tadka. Keep stirring the gravy, as it may stick to the bottom. First keep it on a medium flame, bring it to a boil, reduce flame and simmer on low flame for 20-30 mins.
  5. Keep stirring occasionally, check if the gravy is thick enough (add little water if required) and release the pakodas in the kadhi.
  6. Boil for 2-3 mins more and turn off gas. Garnish with chopped coriander, serve hot with steamed rice or chapati.

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