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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jalebi - Indian Cooking Challenge for August 2011

Jalebi was selected as the recipe for Indian Cooking Challenge for August 2011. Jalebi is a popular sweet not only in India but in other countries as well.

No celebration is complete without a sweet dish. In Iran, it is known as Zlebia and traditionally given to the poor during Ramadan. In Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia this sweet is known as Zlebia / Zlabia. Popular belief is that, Jalebi originated in South West Asia and it arrived in the Indian subcontinent during Muslim rule. Jalebi is also known as Jilawii in Hindi, Zoolbia in Persia and Zalabiyah in Arabic.
This sweet is called "jeri" in Nepal, a word derived from jangiri. Here in Bengal, it is known as Jilipi and it is generally served with Samosa to guests. It is prepared by deep-frying batter in circular shapes, which are soaked in syrup and served warm or cold.

A similar sweet is Imarti, which is red-orange in color and sweeter in taste, made in North Indian states including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. A variant is Chhena Jalebi (Chhanar Jilip), prepared with chhena (cottage cheese). It is popular in Rajasthan, Bengal and Orissa.

As far as I remember, making of jalebis was a pretty mysterious procedure for me during the childhood. I used to accompany my mother during the Rath Yatra Melas, held near our house. The man, responsible for making this mouth watering sweet, used to take some amount of batter in a polished cocunut shell (halved), prick the bottom of the shell swiftly and start making circles in the hot oil with a steady hand. It was a fascinating sight, the perfect small circles filling the whole kadhai in just few seconds. The person will immediately turn the jalebis, take them out and release them in sugar syrup. The jalebis were served in shaal leaves, folded in a cone. We used to rush back home with the dripping jalebis to be relished with papads and tea.

Another memory of this jalebi is from my maternal grandparent's place in Bihar. We used to visit them during Durga Pujas and the house was very close to the station. As we unboarded the train, we used see that the order being placed to the Halwai for special jalebis. The jalebis there were very thin and deeply fried to have a typical brown colour with a crunchy taste.

I have prepared Jalebi before but with a ready made pack and had no idea of the recipe proportions. The recipe calls for simple ingredients like flour, yougurt and cornstarch. The trick is to ferment the batter overnight and have the right consistency while preparing the jalebis.

I followed the recipe but added a little bit of saunf (fennel seeds) and a little crushed black pepper (gol morich in Bengali) in the Jalebi batter and green cardamom (chhoti elaichi) in the sugar syrup.

  • All purpose flour / Maida: 100 gms
  • Curd / Yogurt: 1 cup
  • Cornstarch: 30 gms
  • Lime Juice: 1 tsp
  • Fennel Seeds / Saunf: 1 tbsp
  • Black pepper, crushed: ½ tsp
  • Hot oil: 1 tbsp
  • Green Cardamom / Chhoti Elaichi, split: 1-2
  • Saffron color: a pinch
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Water: ½ cup
  • Ghee / White Oil for deep frying
  • Kewra Water / Rose Water (optional): 1 tbsp


To make the Batter:

  1. In a bowl, take all the ingredients (flour, curd, cornstarch, lime juice, fennel seeds, crushed black pepper, saffron color and 1 tbsp hot oil) and whisk together to make a thick and smooth batter.
  2. Set aside to ferment overnight. Whisk thoroughly before use.

To make the Sugar Syrup:

  1. Take a deep bottomed pan, combine sugar with water and heat till all the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil till the syrup reaches one thread consistency (To check consistency, carefully dip the tip of your index finger into the syrup, touch your finger and thumb together and genly try to release apart. If one thread is formed between your finger and thumb the syrup is done).
  2. Just before the syrup is ready, add green cardamom and kewra / rose water. Keep warm.

To press out the jalebi:

  1. Heat the oil in a deep kadhai and reduce flame to medium. To test for the right temperature, drop a small amount of batter into the oil. If it sizzles and rises to the top of the oil, the oil is ready.
  2. Pour batter into a piping bag / zip-top bag with one corner snipped off or a ketchup bottle.
  3. Pipe batter into the hot oil in clockwise direction in a steady stream to make a circle.
  4. Deep fry them until they are pale golden and crisp all over (be careful not to fry too much or else they will turn brown). Make a few at a time.
  5. Drain jalebis from the kadhai and immerse them in the warm sugar syrup. Leave them for 4-5 mins so that they soak the syrup.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve warm with malai or ice-cream or relish as it is.

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.

  • 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


  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.

  • Mangoes: 500 gms
  • Mustard Oil: 50 ml


  • 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


  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.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vatteppam / Vattayappam - Indian Cooking Challenge, March 2011

Srivalli chose Vattepam / Vattayappam as the Indian Cooking Challenge recipe for Mar 2011. Vattepam / Vattayappam is a delicious and traditional recipe from Kerala.

It is basically a steamed rice cake, made from raw rice flour, grated coconut, cooked rice, sweetened and garnished with nuts and raisins. It is a popular delicacy served for breakfast / tea time snack during Christmas time in Kerala. The recipe is adapted from Shn of Mishmash.

Ingredients: To Grind:
  • Raw rice: 1 cup
  • Coconut, freshly grated: ¾ cup
  • Cooked rice: 2 tbsp
  • Water: ½ cup water to grind and make batter

To proof yeast:

  • Active dry yeast: ½ tsp
  • Water: 1/3 cup
  • Sugar: 2 tsp

To make Rice Porridge / Thari Kurukku:

  • Coarse ground paste: 1½-2 tbsp
  • Water: 1/3-1/2 cup

To sweeten and flavor Vatteppam:

  • Sugar: ½ cup or more (to taste)
  • Green Cardamom, crushed / powdered: 10-12
  • Cashew nuts: 8-10
  • Raisins: 8-10
  • Ghee: 1½ tbsp


  1. Soak raw rice for 6-8 hours, drain and grind rice in a blender, adding very little water to a coarse texture; remove 2 tbsp of the coarse mixture for making Rice Porridge / Thari Kurukku and keep aside.
  2. Add freshly grated coconut to the remaining ground rice and grind thoroughly to a fine past. Add cooked rice & little water and blend again to make a batter (Batter should be thick as idli batter).
  3. Proof yeast by dissolving yeast and sugar in luke warm water. Set aside for 15-20 minutes in a warm place till it foams.
  4. Prepare Rice porridge / Thari Kurukku by heating a pan and add the requisite coarse ground rice, kept aside earlier and water. Bring it to a boil and keep stirring in low-medium flame until it is fully cooked and reaches the consistency of porridge. Turn off the heat and keep the porridge aside, till it cools completely.
  5. Heat ghee, lightly roast cashews until golden brown and raisins till plump and keep aside.
    Once the rice porridge is cooled completely, add 4 tbsp of the porridge it to the ground rice & coconut batter and blend it thoroughly. Add yeast mixture and blend once more to a smooth batter.
  6. Pour the prepared batter to a large steel / glass bowl (The bowl should be big enough to hold double the quantity of batter as during the fermentation process, the batter rises well). Let it ferment in a warm place overnight (6-8 hours). When batter is doubled and fermented, add sugar let it ferment for another 2 hours.
  7. Just before steaming Vatteppam, add powdered / crushed green cardamom to the batter. For steaming, grease a round bowl / cake tin with oil. Pour the batter and fill till half of the bowl / cake tin. Place a flat plate with holes in the pressure cooker, place the batter filled bowl and close the cooker with lid. Steam the Vatteppam without the weight/whistle for 20-30 mins in medium heat. Open the pressure cooker, after about 10 -15 mins of steaming, drop the roasted raisins and cashew nuts on the batter and close the lid once again.
  8. After 20-30 mins, check by inserting a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes out clean or with very less crumbs, Vatteppam is done, or else steam for another 10-15 mins / till done and cooked well.
  9. Remove the pan / cake tin from the pressure cooker, allow the dish to cool completely.
  10. Run a knife by the edges of the pan to separate the steamed cake / Vatteppam/Vattayappam. Slowly lift the cake into a serving plate and service with tea / coffee.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Suruttai Poli - Indian Cooking Challenge, Feb 2011

Suruttai poli, a traditional sweet preparation of South India, was chosen by Srivalli as the recipe for Indian Cooking Challenge for the month of February, 2011. This recipe is suggested by Nithya of 4th sense cooking, who stated her mother’s traditional, tried & tested recipe.

I had never heard about this dish so it was a real challenge to attempt. When I searched the net for pictures, I came across Pavithra's recipe on how the final dish will look.

Suruttai means rolled up and poli, generally refers to the sweet poli. It somehow resembled patisapta (a traditional sweet / savoury preparation in Bengali), stuffed with fillings of khoya & kheer / grated coconut, mixed with jaggery and rolled tightly.

Here the outer covering should be thin, like a papad. It came out nicely and everyone enjoyed this delicious sweet treat. The only addition I made, I added some raisins in the filling mixture….


For filling:

  • Roasted gram: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Cashews, chopped: 3-4 tbsp
  • Raisins: 3-4 tbsp
  • Cardamom powder: 1 tsp
  • Coconut, grated: 2 tbsp
  • Ghee: 1 tsp
For dough:
  • All purpose flour: 1 cup
  • Salt, a pinch
  • Water, to knead dough
  • Oil, for frying polis

For garnishing:

  • Sugar, powdered: ½ cup
  • Cashews, chopped: 5-6
  • Raisins: 10-12


Method for filling:

  1. Dry roast the gram and powder the roasted gram and sugar together in a mixer.
  2. Heat ghee and roast the chopped cashew, add grated coconut and sauté them till golden brown. mix well.
  3. Add the powdered gram & sugar mixture, mix thoroughly by stirring continuously and switch off flame. Pour the mixture in a bowl and keep aside.

Method to prepare dough for Polis:

  1. Sift flour and salt in a bowl, add a little water and knead to prepare a soft dough (like chaapati consistency). Ccover and set it aside for 10-15 mins.
  2. Powder sugar, sprinkle on a plate and keep aside.
  3. Make small balls from the dough, flour the rolling surface and roll the dough into very thin circles. (like papad consistency) (You can prick the rolled dough with fork on the surface to prevent them from puffing while frying). After rolling, keep aside for 10 mins.
  4. Heat oil in a kadhai. Gently release the rolled dough in the oil. Turn and lightly fry on both sides and ensure that it do not change colour (It should be flexible and should not turn brown or crispy).
  5. Drain oil and place the fried poli on the plate, coated with the powdered sugar. Carefully and immediately add 2-3 spoon fulls of filling on one side and roll tightly to form suruttai poli.
  6. Keep aside face down in a flat surface. (The polis should be soft when hot but once they cool down they will become crispy).
  7. Repeat with all the dough balls and prepare a whole batch of suruttai poli.

For serving, arrange the polis on a serving plate. Sprinkle some powdered sugar, garnish with cashews and raisins and serve.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mojito and an Award

A cocktail is an alcoholic mixed drink, containing spirits, mixers (soda / fruit juice), sugar, water and bitters, enhanced with ice, honey, milk, cream and various herbs.

Wanted to post a cocktail recipe since I started blogging, 2 years ago...Here’s celebrating 2 years of blogging and an award from Chandrani of Cuisine Delights. Sharing the award with all my fellow bloggers.
Pl collect the award from my blog and let's start the party with Mojito......

Mojito (pronounced: Mohito) is a traditional Cuban highball, traditionally made up of 5 ingredients, namely white rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane juice), lime juice, sparkling water and mint.

When preparing a Mojito, lime juice is added to sugar (or syrup) and mint leaves. The mixture is then gently mashed with a muddler in the bottom of a glass to release their flavor. Then rum is added and the mixture is stirred to dissolve the sugar. Finally, the drink is topped with ice cubes & sparkling water and served in a Collins glass. Mint leaves and lime wedges are used to garnish the glass.

Ingredients: (1 Serve)

  • White Rum (Bacardi): 1.25 oz / 35 ml
  • Lime: 1 / Fresh lime juice: 0.5 oz / 15 ml
  • Mint Sprig: 1 / Mint leaves: 12
  • Sugar: 1 tbsp
  • Soda water: 2 oz / 55 ml
  • Ice, crushed


  1. Cut the limes into quarters and pick the mint leaves off of the stems.
  2. Place mint leaves in the bottom of a tall glass and add sugar & about three lime wedges. Muddle sugar, mint leaves and the lime wedges.
  3. Fill the glass with white rum and crushed ice (the glass should appear about 3/4th full). Shake / stir the mixture until fully blended.
  4. Transfer the shaken cocktail to another glass (As the muddled lime and mint often stick to the bottom of the glass). Fill the remainder of glass with soda water.
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge & mint sprig and serve with a straw.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Khandvi, Indian Cooking Challenge, Dec 2010

Gujarati cuisine mainly consists of vegetarian recipe and have unique culinary traditions of India. Gujarati cuisine is also distinctive in its wide variety of Farsans or side dishes served with the main meal. Some Farsan are eaten as snacks / light meals.

Gujarati food mainly comprise of 4 major regions, North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh and South Gujarat. North Gujarat is popular for its traditional Gujarati thali consisting of rice, dal, curry, vegetables, sprouted beans, farsan, pickles, chutney and raita. Some of the popular farsans, popular for their tastes are Pathara, Khaman Dhokla and Khandvi.

Khandvi is a delicious savoury made with gram flour (beasn) and curd, tempered with sesame seeds and mustard seeds and served with fresh grated coconut and chopped coriander leaves.

Srivalli chose Khandvi as the recipe for the Indian Cooking Challenge for the month of December. Preparing Khandvi is an art by itself and requires lot of practice to perfect the dish. I have never prepared Khandvi before and had to try 2-3 times, before I got a perfect rolled Khandvi.

Srivalli provided two recipes for khandvi, I followed Lataji’s recipe, only difference is that, I used only mustard seeds for tempering…

  • Gram flour / Besan: 1/3 cup (heaped)
  • Sour Curd / Yogurt: 1/3 cup
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Ginger & Green Chilli paste: 2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking Oil: 3 tbsp

For tempering:

  • Cooking Oil: 2 tsps
  • Mustard seed: 1 tsp

For Garnishing:

  • Grated Coconut: 2 tbsp
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves, chopped: 2 tbsp

  1. Grease a flat plate and keep it ready before proceeding to cook Khandvi.
  2. Beat curd and keep aside. In a bowl, add gram flour, salt, ginger-chilli paste, beaten curd, turmeric powder, asafoetisa and water and mix well to form a smooth batter (Ensure that the batter is thin and free of lumps).
  3. Heat oil in a thick bottomed kadhai and add batter. Stir the batter continuously till well cooked. (You will know that the batter is ready, when the batter take a light brown tinge & glaze from the oil and do not stick to the walls of the kadhai).
  4. The batter should still be in a semi liquid state, tipping more towards solid state (Over cooking will result in a solidified mass which will not spread evenly).
  5. Transfer the cooked batter onto the greased plate and spread uniformly into a thin sheet over the flat surface with a ladle. (Do this quickly or else the batter will thicken as it cools and become difficult to spread.)
  6. Using a knife, make strip marks on the sheet. Carefully roll each strip into spirals and place the khandvi rolls on a serving platter.
  7. Heat the rest of the oil in another kadhai, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Pour the tempering over the rolled khandvis.
  8. Garnish the Khandvis with grated coconut and chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tutti Frutti Cake

This festive season is never complete without a slice of Tutti Fruitti cake or a rich Fruit cake.

Tutti frutti is basically an Italian confection made with sliced fruit which has been candied or dried to preserve it. In Italian, “tutti frutti” means “all fruit, where a varied fruits like pineapple, papaya, mango, apricot, and grapefruit are used.
All of the fruits are diced fairly small and often brightly colored with various dyes to make it more visually appealing.

As far as I can remember, in my childhood days, there were some great bakeries in New Market like The Jewish confectioner "Nahoum's" and Imperial Cake shop.

Though curently there are several cake & bake shops in Kolkata, I still reminisce the drooling fruit cake, plum cake and rum balls of Nahoum's and it was a must to have them during the Christmas and New Year's time.

Here is the recipe of preparing a simple and easy Tutti Frutti Cake at home.

  • Refined Flour / Maida: 250 gms
  • Eggs: 5
  • Baking powder: 2 ½ tsp
  • Sugar, powdered: 250 gms
  • White butter: 250 gms
  • Tutti frutti, Raisins and Cashew Nuts (chopped): 1 cup
  • Vanilla essence: 2 tsp


  1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 8" round baking cake tin with butter and dust it evenly with a little flour.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together, sieve thrice and keep aside.
  3. In a bowl, add butter and powdered sugar and cream them together till light and fluffy.
  4. Add one egg at a time and beat till well combined. Add vanilla essence.
  5. Add the flour gradually and fold to form a smooth cake mixture. (Do not over beat and combine the flour in one direction only).
  6. Sprinkle some flour over the tutti frutti to coat them, add them to the batter and fold gently into the batter. (Keep a little tutti frutti, raisins and chopped cashew aside to sprinkle on top).
  7. Spread batter evenly in the greased baking tin and sprinkle the remaining tutti frutti on the top.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 390 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 30-45 minutes or until done. (Test by pricking the cake with a tooth pick and if it comes out clean then the cake is done).
  9. Place on a wire rack to cool for 15 mins.
  10. Slice and treat yourself or your guests with tea / coffee.

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