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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Godhumai Halwa - Indian Cooking Challenge - July 2011

Godhumai Halwa was chosen as the dish for Indian Cooking Challenge (ICC) for the month of July 2011.
Godhumai Halwa / Wheat Halwa (godhuma means wheat) is a typical south Indian sweet. Irutukadai Halwa is very popular in Tirunelveli district of TamilNadu. The process of making this traditional halwa is elaborate where the wheat grains have to be soaked and hand grinded to extract the milk for three to four times. The collected wheat milk has to stand for a few hours and then only it is cooked to prepare the halwa. It can take almost an hour to get a glossy look to the halwa.
Srivalli gave us 3 options for cooking this halwa, where only difference is in the measurement and final presentation, one in the form of pieces and the other one in soft and scoopable style.
Basically the halwa has 3 main ingredients, wheat, sugar and ghee garnished with almonds, cashews. The ratio of wheat: sugar : ghee can be taken as 1 cup (level):3 cups (heaped): 1& ½ cups (changed as per wheat used or sweetness preferred).
The halwa is usually prepared with Samba wheat, though one can use any white whole wheat, if Samba wheat is not available.

After going through the recipes, I selected soumya’s wheat halwa recipe. I like the fact that she used ground cardamom instead of cardamom powder and the final halwa was not in pieces. I also used a handful of raisins with almonds and cashews and the whole halwa just disappeared within a few minutes.

Ingredients:
  • Wheat berries: 2 cups (200 gms)
  • Sugar: 4- 5 cups (500 gms)
  • Ghee: 2& ½ cups (300gms)
  • Water: 4 cups (To grind and extract wheat milk)
  • Water: 4-5 cups (for sugar syrup)
  • Green cardamom, crushed and grounded: 2 tsp
  • Edible food colour, a pinch: yellow (you can use red, orange food colour also)
  • Raisins: ½ cup
  • Almonds and Cashews, chopped- ½ cup

Method:

  1. Wash the wheat grain thoroughly to get rid of the dirt. Soak the wheat grains for 36-48 hours. Drain water and grind the soaked grains with a cup of water in a blender.
  2. Put the blended wheat grains on a sieve, squeeze with hand and filer out the milk in a container. Repeat the extraction process thrice by blending the wheat grains by adding more water. Discard the ground berries (it will form a brown mass) after extracting the milk.
  3. Leave the milk to stand for another 24 hours. The thicker portion of the milk will settle down. Discard the thin liquid on the top of the wheat milk.
  4. Lightly sauté the raisins and chopped nuts and keep aside.
  5. Prepare the sugar syrup by mixing sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan. Keep stirring in medium flame until the sugar is dissolved and a thick and sticky syrup (one string consistency) is obtained (this will take around 15-20 mins).(To check consistency, touch the sugar syrup between your thumb and index finger. If a thread is formed while moving out the fingers, the syrup it's ready, but take care as the syrup will be hot)
  6. Remove the scum (impurities) which accumulates on the syrup, add the wheat milk and stir to avoid lumps as the halwa will start to thicken.
  7. Add the crushed cardamom powder, food colour and sauted raisins and nuts (keep a little aside for garnishing).
  8. Add a cup of hot water to the halwa to delay the thickening process and enable more cooking. Keep stirring until the raw smell of the wheat milk goes off completely.
  9. Melt ghee and gradually add the ghee to the halwa. Keep stirring the halwa on low flame for around 45-50 mins until all the ghee is absorbed and the halwa do not stick to the pan.
  10. Cool the halwa a little and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle a little crushed cardamom powder and garnish with cashews and almonds. Serve hot and cold.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Punjabi Mango Pickle - Indian Cooking Challenge, June 2011

Srivalli chose authentic mango pickle recipe from Punjab for Indian Cooking Challenge for June. Simran shared her mother's recipe with us. This typical mango pickle is most popular in Punjab, where raw mangoes are soaked in oil with fennel seeds, nigella seeds, mustard and other spices.

Two types of measurements were provided, one for 5 kgs of mangoes and the other one for 1/2 kg of mangoes. Here is the recipe with 500 gms of mangoes.

I followed the recipe as per measurement, only I added whole red chiilies to enhance the flavour and also coz I like my pickle spicy.

Ingredients:
  • Mangoes: 500 gms
  • Mustard Oil: 50 ml

Spices:

  • Salt: 70 gms
  • Fenugreek seeds: 10 gms
  • Nigella seeds: 5 gms
  • Fennel Seeds: 10 gms
  • Black pepper corns, whole: 5 gms
  • Turmeric powder: 10 gms
  • Red chilli, whole: 6-8
  • Sugar: 1/2 tsp

Method:

  1. Wash the mangoes, wipe dry and cut them in slightly large cubes. Spread them on a flat surface and dry in the sun for 2 - 3 hours.
  2. Select a ceramic jar / glass jar to store the pickle. Clean the jar and wipe dry. In a large pot mix oil with all the spices.
  3. Add the mangoes, toss well to coat them with the oil and mixed spices.
  4. You can add more oil if the mangoes are not coated well (Keep the level of oil slightly above the mango pieces as the oil preserves the mangoes).
  5. Transfer the coated mangoes to the pickle jar. Leave the jar in sunlight for one day.
  6. For the first fortnight, shake the lidded jar to toss the mangoes and blend the flavours. The pickle will be ready by the end of 15 days. The pickle stays well over a year, if handled properly. 1 tsp of Sodium Benzoate can also be added as a preservative.

Note: All the spices are to be added as whole. Kalonji and Fenugreek seeds are critical to the pickle to have that typical flavour.

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