Festival food

Green Moong Sweetdish(Mooga Khichdi)

Mooga Khichdi

This green moong sweetdish – Mooga Khichdi is a traditional Konkani dish specifically prepared for the festival of Sankranti. Mooga Khichdi is also called Moog Shijayile, literally means cooked moong.

Mooga Khichdi is prepared during Sankranti and a little of it kept on the window for the birds to eat. It is believed that Sankrant Purush(God of this festival) comes in the form of a crow to eat the food. This is a classic example of Konkanis worshipping, feeding the animals, birds surrounding us. After it is offered to god, this Mooga Khichdi is consumed. 

This Mooga Khichdi is flavored just with ghee and cardamom. When it is being cooked, the delicious aroma of the dish fills the entire house. Based on the quality of jaggery used, this can become very dry or very juicy/wet.

Aayi usually prepares the moong dal khichdi – mooga dali khichdi for Sankranti instead of this since that was the sweet made in her maternal home. Both have their own deliciousness.

Ingredients:
1 cup green moong
1 cup jaggery
1/2 cup coconut 
1 tbl spn ghee
5-6 cardamom 

Method: 
Cook green moong in pressure cooker till it is cooked through. If the moong is very old, make sure to soak it in water for 1 hr.
Heat ghee and add moong, jaggery, coconut.
Cover the lid and cook till jaggery is melted.
Mix well and take off heat.
Add powdered cardamom. Mix well.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 20 mins

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Fig Burfi (Anjeer Burfi)


It is festival season with Diwali just around the corner. I miss the festivities here that we had in India. Over the years we have started celebrating few festivals in a small scale. Ganesh Chaturthi is one festival which we celebrate every year without fail. We think of inviting all our friends but that hasn’t happened yet. We completely focus on a nice pooja with a good spread of food. This year it was a really packed day, I still made a big spread. For sweets, we usually have 5 kinds of sweets. I wanted to pick something simple, so I made these fig burfis.

I bought Figs/Anjeer for the first time to make smoothies. I initially thought of making anjeer modaks but later went with just the burfis. The pictures do not make justice to this dish. I tried to click a good picture but failed and gave up after a few trials. You have to trust me when I say they tasted amazing.

Fig Burfi (Anjeer Burfi)

3.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 -10 pieces

Ingredients
  

  • 7-8 figs anjeer
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 heaped tea spn ghee
  • 1/4 tea spn cardamom powder

Instructions
 

  • Chop figs into small pieces.
  • Take the pieces and sugar in food processor and pulse them till they are well mixed.
  • Heat ghee and add the mixture.
  • Mix it for a couple of mins(just to warm it through).
  • Take off heat and add cardamom powder.
  • Make small balls of the mixture and press them slightly to give a peda like look, or cut them into desired shapes.

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Banana-Sooji Sweetdish (Kele Sheera/Sapaath)

Sapaath
Sapaath

Sapaath is the traditional prasad(offering for god) prepared for Satyanarayan pooja. Sooji is cooked in ghee and milk, then bananas are added to make this very aromatic, tasty sweetdish. While growing up, this was one of the reasons we kids attended the pooja.

We moved into our new house last year. I wanted to have Satyanaran pooja at home but I wanted to have family here for the pooja. I was trying to convince my parents to visit, but things were not working out. Finally this August they agreed to come and I immediately thought about pooja. So we had the pooja last week. I invited all my friends home. Aayi made a HUGE batch of Sapaath. All the friends loved it, most of them had never tasted it before.

I wanted to keep the lunch simple that day but still wanted everyone to have something to eat. We had lemon rice, idli-sambar-chutney, chane usli, airaawat, curd rice, lemon pickle. Everyone enjoyed the food and I loved all the company too.

Pictorial:
Fry sooji in ghee.
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Cook it in milk.
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Add sugar, banana and cook.
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Banana-Sooji Sidedish (Kele Sheera/Sapaath)

Aromatic and delicious sweetdish, prepared by cooking sooji in milk and ghee, flavored with bananas

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup ghee
  • 1 cup sooji/rava
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup banana pieces
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions
 

  • Heat ghee and add sooji.
  • Fry till a nice aroma comes out and sooji turns slightly brownish.
  • Add milk and cook till all the milk is absorbed.
  • Add sugar and bananas.
  • Cook for few minutes till the mixture turns slightly dry.

 

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Paneer – Sweet Potato Gulab Jamun

Paneer - Sweet Potato Gulab Jamun
Paneer – Sweet Potato Gulab Jamun


Wish you all a very happy Diwali.

I finally got to making some dishes for Diwali. My 6 month old was down with cold for last few days and I was really trying hard to keep up with just day-to-day cooking. Since Ishaan is 4 years old, I thought he would have fun during this festival. I had a long list of dishes that I wanted to make, but I am glad I am slowly getting to atleast few of them.

Gulab Jamun is one of my favorite Indian sweets. We usually make these with khova/khoya. I normally make khova at home to make jamuns. But this time I did not have time to make it at home or to run to Indian store to get it. So I decided to try jamuns with paneer, which is readily available in my neighborhood grocery store. I wanted to follow the same recipe but just replace khova with paneer. Then last moment, I decided to add some cooked sweet potato to it to see how it would taste. The result was very soft and tasty jamuns.

Pictorial:
Make the syrup
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Make jamuns
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Paneer - Sweet Potato Gulab Jamun

Deep fried paneer and sweet potato balls dipped in cardamom flavored sugar syrup.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 3 dozen (approx)

Ingredients
  

For Jamun

  • 1 cup 8oz or 226g crushed paneer
  • 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes around 150g before cooking
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tea spn baking soda
  • Oil/ghee for deep frying

For Syrup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tea spn cardamom powder

Instructions
 

  • Heat sugar and water in a pan till it starts boiling.
  • Take off the heat and add cardamom powder.
  • Cook sweet potatoes in pressure cooker.
  • Peel them and grind to a smooth paste.
  • Mix paneer, sweet potato paste, all purpose flour, baking soda.
  • Make small balls out of the mixture. To make sure they don't fall apart, apply some pressure with palms to make sure they stay together.
  • Heat oil, add 1 tbl spn of ghee to oil.
  • Deep fry the jamuns, till they are deep brown.
  • Take them out on a paper towel.
  • When they are still warm, slide in warm syrup.

Notes

Aayi has this great tip. Instead of deep frying in all ghee, she adds just a tbl spn of ghee to a kadai of oil. That gives the aroma of ghee to the deep fried product.
You can add few tea spns of milk to help in grinding sweet potatoes. It is optional.

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Tilgul (Kante Halvo)

tilgul
Makar Sankranti
 is just around the corner. That reminds me to post this very very special recipe here. I have been thinking about it for a long time. For us, Sankranti was always associated with this very tasty sugar drops – tilgul or kante halvo (Kante – spikes, halvo – halwa, a sweet dish). On Sankranti, we give a handful of this tilgul  and sesame laddoo to everyone we meet and tell them “tilgul ghya goaD goaD bola“(take tilgul and talk sweet), which finally evolved into “Take sweet, talk sweet and be sweet” in schools. We take blessings from elders and bless the younger ones.
tilgul12

There was a time when everyone prepared these tilgul at home. Aayi always talked about how my grandmom used to make it at home. These days we get tilgul in market, but they are no where as tasty as the homemade ones. At my native, only a few ladies make these at home now. Last year, I was in India during Sankranti and asked my kaki (My dad’s cousin’s wife) to show me the procedure. She makes such beautiful and very tasty tilgul every year. She was very kind enough to let me take pictures also. It is believed that when tilgul prepared during very cold mornings gives best results, so most of the people make it in the early mornings. But kaki said she makes them when she finds an hour or so free, no matter what time of the day.

I have never attempted this myself. But every year I think about it. May be one of these days I will. Tilgul mostly consists of sugar coated sesame seeds (til), but other nuts/spices like peanuts(groundnuts),  fennel seeds(saunf/badishep), cloves, pumpkin seeds, cashews are also added to give that extra taste.

Ingredients:
2 cups sugar (use sugar crystals which gives better results)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sesame seeds (til), cashews, fennel seeds(saunf), cloves, pumpkin seeds, cardamom seeds, peanuts(ground nuts) etc

Method:
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Sundry  sesame seeds (til), cashews, cloves, pumpkin seeds, cardamom seeds, peanuts(ground nuts) for a day to remove any moisture.
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Take sugar and water in a pan and bring it to boil. When it starts boiling, take off the heat and sieve it though  a thin cloth. You will find some black/gray dirt particles on the cloth.
Take the sugar water and heat again. After few minutes, sieve again. Repeat this 2-3 times till all the dirt particles are gone.
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Heat the sugar water again, when it starts boiling, add the milk. Milk will break when you continue heating (desired effect). Sieve it again.
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Heat the sugar water again. Put a drop on kitchen counter/plate. If it sits like a drop and does not spread, the sugar syrup is ready to use. Let the syrup cool completely (usually left overnight to cool).
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On a very low heat (Usually a coal stove is used, which is kept on a very low heat), take the sesame seeds and other nuts/spices in a thick brass plate. Add one tea spn of syrup on it and start mixing with fingers. Remember, not to use any spoon for mixing. This has to be done by fingers, very carefully, taking care not to break any sugar spikes. If it becomes too hot, take off the heat, keep mixing continuously.
Usually only a few coatings are done each day. So it takes about 4-5 days (or more depending on how much sugar coating is desired) to get the beautiful looking tilgul.
If needed add some color to some part of sugar syrup before using it to coat.
Remember, patience is the key to get beautiful tilgul. Never rush through any steps. Only add a tea spn sugar at a time. You cannot rush the process in any way.

tilgul12

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Banana Halwa (Kele Halvo)

banana halwa

Wish you all a very happy Diwali.

We are having a quiet Diwali here. I kept thinking what to make for this festival. V was traveling first few days of the week and that meant I was alone with a very active 3 and half year old. Then there was Halloween which the child was very excited about, thanks to his school.  No one has a sweet tooth at my home, when I made few sweets for Ganesh festival and Krishnashtami this year, they sat in fridge for a long time!. So I hesitate to make anything. I munched on my corn flakes chivda when I wanted to eat something festive.

Then yesterday a friend sent a bunch of bananas which were slightly overripe. She mentioned about banana halwa. Usually, when I have overripe bananas, I make a cake or buns. I couldn’t have used up so many bananas making cake or buns. So I decided to try out banana halwa. I asked aayi for the recipe and she gave me this. The halwa came out really good, better than I expected. I used little less sugar than aayi mentioned because I did not want the halwas to be overly sweet. I would have loved a lighter color, but oh well, in my books taste matters more than the look. I took the mixture out and tried cutting them when they were cooled. But it was a little bit wet, so kept it back to heat again, I think that also contributed to dark color! The kind of bananas also matters, I have seen halwas from very light color to black.

Ingredients:
3 cups mashed overripe bananas (I used 6 big bananas)
2 cups sugar
1 tbl spn ghee + some more for greasing the pan
1 tbl spn cashews (optional)
Sliced almonds for decoration (optional)
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder

Method:
banana halwa1 banana halwa2
Peel and mash the bananas with a potato masher (or grind them in a mixer).
Take the mashed bananas and sugar in a thick bottomed pan and heat it on medium high. Add the ghee. Make sure to stir it once in a while. The mixture sticks to bottom if enough care is not taken.
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When it gets dry, it starts sticking to bottom and you have to keep mixing it.
It took me little over 1 and 1/2 hours since I kept the heat either on medium or medium low. I had to stay near the stove for the last 20mins or so.
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Let it cook down till the mixture looks dry and ghee starts separating on the side.  Add cashews, cardamom and take off the heat. Mix everything well.
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Grease a tray/plate with generous amount of ghee. Pour the mixture over it and smooth the top with a spoon/rolling pin greased with ghee.
When it cools down, cut it into desired shapes. Remove the pieces slowly and press down the sides to give a shape. Decorate with sliced almonds.

Makes about 15-18 pieces

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Banana Modak (Kele Modak / Kele Mulik)

banana modak
Wish you all a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

Like every year, this year too we celebrated Ganesha festival at home. Since the festival is on Monday, V got enough time to get everything ready for it. He worked tirelessly by running to different stores a million times to get groceries and other things needed for pooja. He wanted to make a wooden mantapa this time and decorate it. It took him quite some time to make. All the decorations were very simple but I loved how beautiful it looked, it was perfect for the small idol we got. I made these banana modaks and some other sweets for offering.
ganesh chaturthi2013

I stressed over the festival for last few days. I was very sick for last few days and I was not sure if I could make all the dishes. V offered to get sweets from store so I could take rest. I thought of making just modaks. When I mentioned this to aayi, she reminded me of these banana modaks. These were the kind offered to god at my hometown in India. I have so many memories of eating these while growing up. I would go to see ganesha idols in our hometown and would love eating these. I have not tasted them in a very long time mainly because I have always prepared the stuffed modaks for the festival which were a tradition at my in-laws place. I decided to make these kele (banana) modak or mulik as some Konkanis call it. These are very tasty and would considerably reduce the time infront of stove. These modaks usually do not have the traditional modak shapes. I tried to make some in the shape by applying a little water to palm of my hands and fingers.

Here is my humble offering this year –
ganesh chaturthi2013offering
– Idli, mooga mole randayi, hinga-udak which is prepared for every Ganesh festival. Instead of traditional hittu I make idlis because we don’t get the jackfruit leaves here to make the little baskets
– Rice, dali thoy with ghee
– Banana modaks
Sheera with saffron
Doodh paank. I prepared this in coconut milk – whole milk and used saffron. It got a great taste from fresh coconut milk.
– A simple panchakajjaya with coconut, sugar, ghee, cardamom and sesame seeds
– I still fell short of one prasadam(offering), so I included sugar-ghee.
– Panchamrut – A mix of milk, yogurt, jaggery/sugar, honey, ghee.

Both V and Ishaan loved to gorge on the food after the pooja (although little one did not touch any of the sweets, ohh well, that is a a battle for another day!!).

Also check out cashew fruit modaks which are similar to these.

Ingredients:
1 cup rava/sooji
1/2 cup banana (one big banana mashed)
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup sugar/jaggery
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder
2 tbl spns milk
Ghee

Method:
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banana modak3 banana modak4
Grind together banana, coconut and jaggery using milk. The paste need not be very smooth. Just make sure everything is well mixed.
Add the paste to rava. Add cardamom powder and mix everything with a spoon. Leave it aside for 20-30 mins to let the rava soak all the juices.
banana modak5 banana modak6
Heat ghee (for the offering, it is usually prepared in ghee which gives a great taste/aroma). Make small balls from the mixture and deep fry. The size of these is much smaller than other stuffed modaks.
To give modak shape, apply some water to palm of your left hand and your fingers to avoid sticking. They don’t retain the shape very well, but sti

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Puffed Rice Laddoo (Phulayil Phova Laddu / Chirmure Laddu)

puffed rice laddu
Phulayil – puffed, phovu – poha(flattened rice) is very similar to puffed rice (churmuri/chirmuro) readily available in markets here. If this is not available, it can be easily replaced by chirmure. I prepare this specially for Janmashtami. My kids loved this while growing up. It is very simple to make and the crunchy laddus make a very tasty treat.

Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups puffed rice (phulayil phovu / chirmuro)
1 cup jaggery
2 tbl spns roasted peanuts (optional)
2 tbl spns chana daliya/hurigadale (optional)
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder
Ghee

Method:
puffed rice laddu1
Heat jaggery with 2 tbl spn water (if using the normal jaggery). It can also be made with molasses (the black colored liquid jaggery, do not add water if you are using molasses). I always make it with molasses.
Keep the heat on medium, because jaggery gets burnt very easily.
Take little water in a plate and add a drop of the jaggery on it. The jaggery should sit like a drop without getting diluted. That shows it has reached the required consistency.
Take off the heat, now add the puffed rice and peanuts, daliya. Mix well. Add the cardamom powder. Mix again.
Apply some ghee to your palms. Take around 1 tblspn of mixture and make a big laddu.

Preperation time :30mins
puffed rice laddu2

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Almond Burfi

almond burfi

Wish you all a very happy Janmashtami. This is one of the festivals that we celebrate here every year. This year I wanted to make something new for the prasad. So I prepared these burfis. Click here to read about the traditional janmashtami celebrations at my home.

Although I love cooking, I am not very enthusiastic about making sweets. Even when I make them, I hardly eat any. Now that Ishaan is also not a fan, I have lost complete interest. So when I get some questions about sweets, I have hard time answering them. When I started making this, I was worried if I would get sugar syrup right. But there turned out great.

Ingredients:
2 cups almonds
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tbl spn ghee (optional, gives a great aroma)
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder

Method:
Dry roast the almonds and powder them. (I like to use the almonds with their skin. You can also blanch them, peel and then powder).
Apply some ghee to a plate (I used a rectangular cake pan).
In the pan, take sugar, water and let it cook till the syrup is of one string consistency.
Now add the almond powder, ghee. Mix and cook for few minutes till the mix thickens a bit.
Take off the heat and cardamom powder. Mix well.
Spread the mix on the plate. Let it cool for few minutes. Then cut into desired shape.

Preparation time : 40mins

Pictorial:

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almond burfi

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Beetroot Halwa

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous Deepavali/Diwali.

beetroot halwa

Ever since we returned from India, I have been thinking about making something for Diwali. But somehow it never went from just a thought to action. One month of not stepping into kitchen, has it’s effect on me still. I asked V to hang the Diwali lights in our patio. I was planning to call that our celebration. But then,I wanted to have something special for this festival.

Beetroot halwa was on my mind for a while now. I distinctly remembered the taste from childhood. I almost always have beetroot in my refrigerator as it is one of Ishaan’s favorite vegetables. I decided to make some halwa yesterday.

As you can see, it is quite easy to make, perfect for a person who has active toddler pulling on her legs all the time!. The only time consuming part is grating the beetroot. Beetroot is quite hard to cut when it is very fresh. But after a few days in fridge, it becomes a little soft. That’s when I used it. It was quite easy to peel and grate. For any other dishes, I cook the beetroot with skin and then peel and cut it. But here, beetroot has to be grated fresh.

Adjust the sugar based on sweetness of beetroot. I would suggest starting with 3/4th the quantity I mentioned below. Then increase it if required. The ones I used were quite sweet (compared to ones I tasted in India recently).

You can add some cashews fried in ghee. I loved the pure halwa, so I did not add any dried fruits. It came out just like I had imagined, just the way I remember it from my aayi’s kitchen. The halwa decreases considerably after cooking, so keep that in mind while making it. Some people add milk to it and make it on the same lines as carrot halwa.

Ingredients:
2 cups peeled and grated beetroot
1 cup sugar
2 tea spns ghee (you can reduce it to 1 tea spn)
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder

Method:
Heat ghee in a thick bottomed kadai. Add the beetroot. Keep mixing it once in a while. Keep the heat on medium to avoid burning.
When it looks cooked and reduced in quantity, add sugar. Mix. Let it cook down. When the mixture starts looking dry, take off heat. Add cardamom powder, mix.
Serve warm or chilled. (Add cashews fried in ghee on top if required).

Serves : 2
Preparation time : 30mins

Pictorial:

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beetroot halwa

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