Karanjis and gujiyas – recipes for this Diwali

Karanjis are half moon shaped mithais with fluted ends: unmistakable pieces of art that bring joy every Diwali. Interestingly, these were made exactly the same way in ancient times as today but then they were called ‘samyavas’. There is mention in ‘Kalpastham’ of Shri Sarth Charak Samhita about ‘Karanjis’ and ‘Anarsas’ and their ingredients like cardamoms, aniseeds, dry coriander and cinnamon having medicinal values.
Call the Maharashtrian karanji, gujiya in Hindi and ghughra in Gujarati, the name might change but the basic structure and content remains similar. Made with superfine flour covering, it is the stuffing that adds variety. In Maharashtra, stuffing is prepared with lightly roasted fine semolina, grated dry or fresh coconut, sugar and lots of sliced dry fruits. In North India, a stuffing of khoya (mawa) is preferred. What with an eye-catching shape, karanjis are consumed almost as soon as they are ready. Mawa Gujiya does not have shelf life whereas karanjis with a well roasted nutty filling will keep well in airtight containers for a week or so.
Here is old fashioned Coconut Karanji also called Ole Naralachi Karanji.
Sieve 1 cup refined flour (maida) into a bowl. Add 1½ tablespoons semolina (rava) and 4 tablespoons ghee and mix with fingertips till mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Knead into semi-soft dough with ¼ cup milk and sufficient water. Once the dough is ready, cover it with a damp cloth and keep it aside for half an hour. For stuffing, roast 1 cup scraped coconut in a non stick pan till lightly browned. Add 15-20 chopped raisins, 1 cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder and mix well. Let it cool. Knead the dough once again and divide into twelve small balls. Roll out each ball into a circle, place it in a greased karanji mould. Place a small portion of the prepared filling in the hollow. Apply a little water on edges, close the mould and press firmly. Heat sufficient ghee in a kadai and fry the karanjis till crisp and golden brown on medium heat. Drain on absorbent paper and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.
For adding variety to your karanji collection do try Date And Anjeer Baked Karanji and Chocolate and Nuts Karanji too.

Indian snacks – a recipe collector’s delight

Give us some new Indian Snack Recipes. This is oft heard demand from food lovers. Snacking is a major event in most households and the newer the better, the crunchier the better and for the weight conscious, sans fat the better! There is a lot happening on the snacking front. The best would be to indulge in fresh seasonal fruits or a bowl of chopped fresh vegetables! But that is not what everyone wants.
Here we share some zara hatke Indian Snack Recipes.
Masala Papdi With Dahi Boondi: Place 1 cup maida in a bowl. Add ¼ cup gram flour, ½ tsp red chilli powder, ½ tsp carom seeds, salt and ¼ tsp turmeric powder and mix. Heat oil in a kadai. Add water, little by little, to the flour mixture and knead into a stiff dough.
Divide the dough into lemon sized balls and roll into rotis, not too thin nor too thick. Prick the roti with a fork all over. Using a round cutter cut our small puris. Slide these puris into the hot oil and deep fry them on medium heat till they turn golden and crisp. Meanwhile add salt to ½ cup yogurt and mix well. Chop some coriander leaves finely and add and mix well. Drain the papdis on an absorbent paper and let them cool slightly. Place 4 tablespoons namkeen boondi in a sieve and wash under running water. Add it to the yogurt and mix well. To serve arrange the papdis in a serving plate and place a little of the dahi-boondi over each. Sprinkle roasted cumin powder, a little red chilli powder and a little salt. Serve immediately.
Garlicky Mushroom Pakoras: Heat sufficient oil in a kadai. Trim the stems of 16-20 mushrooms and place them in a bowl. For the batter combine 1 ½ cups gram flour, ¼ tsp carom seeds, 1 tsp red chilli powder, a pinch baking soda, salt, 1 ½ tbsps garlic paste and sufficient water in a bowl and whisk till smooth. The consistency of the batter must be thick enough to coat. Add juice of lemon and mix well. Dip each mushroom in the batter and slide into the hot oil. Deep fry on high heat till golden and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot.
Now that your palates have been given the spark, let’s look at some easy Indian Snack RecipesMethi Frankie, Baked Chatpati Shankarpali….

Healthy Samosa Recipe

Festivals bring on two emotions: joy and happiness…of being with family and friends celebrating with the choicest of traditional sweets and savouries. But now things are a little different, aren’t they? We no longer want to have the deep fried samosas and mawa burfis. We can substitute it with a healthy samosa recipe, just read on!
A change for the better is always welcome. We can bake our samosas and karanjis with ease and make halwas less sweeter. Like try the Gajar Halwa Sugarfree and Date and Anjeer Baked Karanji. We can substitute refined flour with whole wheat flour. Some sweets can be made using sugar substitutes whereas dates are a good addition as a sweetener too. Even ice cream is tastier and healthier with fresh fruit puree.
We realize that it is better to stress on use of less oil, less trans fat and less sugar. It holds true for all age groups.
How to make Baked Samosa: Mix 140 grams whole-wheat flour (atta), 1/2 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain), 1/4 teaspoon salt to make the pastry. Add 65 millilitres water and knead to a smooth, stiff dough. Let it rest, covered with a damp cloth, for 10–15 minutes. Heat a non-stick pan and lightly roast 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. Add 1 inch chopped ginger, 3-4 chopped green chillies and 2 chopped potatoes and stir. Add 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon mango powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir well. Sprinkle over a little water and cook, covered, for 10–12 minutes. Add 75 grams blanched green peas and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves and mix. Let the mixture cool and divide into eight portions. Preheat the oven to 200° C/400°F/ Gas mark 6. Divide the dough into four equal portions and roll them into balls. Then roll them into oval-shaped rotis (15 cm length, 12.5 cm width across the centre). Cut them in half and dampen the edges with water. Shape each half into a cone and stuff it with the potato-and-peas filling. Seal the edges well. Arrange the samosas on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 180°C for 20–25 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes.
Enjoy this healthy samosa recipe and await some more in this same space!

Diwali recipes – The traditional with a health twist!

Festivals bring on two emotions: joy and happiness…of being with family and friends celebrating with the choicest of traditional sweets and savouries. But now things are a little different, aren’t they? We no longer want to have the deep fried samosas and mawa burfis. But we still want to have the traditional festive foods! The balance is struck when we make some healthier versions of the traditional festive foods.
A change for the better is always welcome. We can bake our samosas and karanjis with ease and make halwas less sweeter. We can substitute refined flour with whole wheat flour. Some sweets can be made using sugar substitutes whereas dates are a good addition as a sweetener too. Even ice cream is tastier and healthier with fresh fruit puree like Yogurt and Chickoo Icecream.

We realize that it is better to stress on use of less oil, less trans fat and less sugar. It holds true for all age groups. So why not make a beginning this season by creating more awareness about the latest health trends? Make these Diwali recipes, gift wrap them if you may, and floor your friends with fresh home made sweets and savouries that are high in health and taste!
One could well imagine having custard and kheer with a sugar substitute. There are mithai shops now with a separate counter for sweets for diabetics! The base of such sweets are dates or figs but the fact remains that there is no added sugar. In fact the skeptical would rather prefer to make the same at home and be sure that there is no added sugar. Try the Date and Hazelnut Laddoo.
Jaggery also is a good sweetener and can be added to kheers if someone does not prefer to use sugar substitutes. Well, the features of the two are different but at least you can avoid granulated processed sugar. It is also difficult to contemplate sweets or mithais with less ghee. For that matter halwas and laddoos are not possible. The alternative at this juncture could be fruit based halwas made in nonstick cookware. Yes, you would need a little ghee but not as much as a flour based preparation. Some people just chill fruits very well, chop and enjoy as a dessert. That’s perfect because they have the satisfaction of a chilled, sweet ending to a meal. Certain enterprising sweet tooths would also use a trick or two and have rasogullas, after draining them and then squeezing out the sugary syrup. The taste remains the same but the sugar intake is cut down!

Punjabi food Festival in Hyderabad

Good news for Hyderabadis who are looking for excellent authentic Punjabi food. The Yellow Chilli Hyderabad is celebrating its Second Anniversary with a grand menu of pure Punjabi dishes…for your reservations contact Mr Tushar at 64645411. The Festival is on till 3rd of October so make the most of it.

There have always been queries put before me, it could be for any regional cuisine, Hyderabadi, or Punjabi or Gujarati to name a few, of how can the calories be snipped away in simple home cooking too. Eating a completely fat free meal is asking for the possible but eating such meals on a regular basis is asking for the impossible! Fat free food is low in the taste factor as also the satiety metre. Secondly, fats are needed by the body, at least the good fats are. The only solution is to keeping the meals light and frequent with techniques to snip away the calories smartly.

Cook with non-stick cookware. They are good for baking, grilling, sautéing and even for soup. Non-stick pans allow you to cook with no oil, or just a brush of grease or substitute fats with water or juice. You can change the cooking methods. If you tend to deep-fry a lot, change the mindset. Either bake, broil, grill, poach or sauté foods. Microwave is a blessing for those who want to cook using minimal oil. Learn the art of subtracting. Read the recipe and simply subtract the amount of fats and sugars. For example, replace half the butter with fruit puree for an equally moist cake; use one-third less sugar in cakes or cookies and use dried fruit, not sugar, to add sweetness to cereal. Eat lean meats and trim all visible fat before cooking. Go for white meat than red meat. For example, chicken breasts are lower in fat than drumsticks. Choose the skim milk, yogurt and cheese. Avoid use of condensed milk as it is very high in sugars. Eggs are the best protein source and also cholesterol! When cooking, just substitute two egg whites for one whole egg (the fat, cholesterol and most of the calories from eggs are in the yolks).

Most important is to downsize portions. Do this and half the battle is won. Make the servings in smaller size. Use smaller plates, and make any cake serve twelve instead of eight!

Here are some healthy snacks for you!

Baked Chatpati Shankerpali
Hot and sour idlis
Sprout bhelpuri

Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor

Baking howlers

Actually for a novice even a simple recipe would be a tall order! “The person who works also brings on a few breakages and losses”…this is what I got to hear from my uncle when I was in my teens. This fact has helped me to be brave when disaster strikes and it is not carelessness that brings on any or many of them disaster.
One incident is particularly interesting. I had baked a huge chocolate cake for my birthday when I was quite young. In my excitement that it rose and baked beautifully, I let it out of the tin too soon. It was too hot to handle and in the blink of an eye the creation was on the floor, a steaming brown heap right near my toes! Well, boys don’t cry. But my heart sank, as low as the cake near my feet. Then it was rescue time because I had called over my friends for a party that evening. I got help and scraped it up gingerly from the ground. We kept it as it was, in shambles, till it cooled completely. Then got a cake board and arranged the pieces, and covered it with icing, decorated with a few sprigs of fresh button roses, and voila! I had an absolutely gorgeous looking cake that resembled a rock garden!
Disaster strikes first. Then creativity. And that is where the end result lies. Take a tip or two from the following:
If a chocolate cake turns out rather too moist : call it a pudding and serve it hot with a fluffy sauce.
If a sponge cake turns out a thin, flat, biscuity layer : cut into fancy shapes with a biscuit cutter and sandwich together with jam and cream.
If a cake sinks in the middle : cut out the centre and decorate with fruit, cream or butter cream.
If a microwaved cake gets overcooked and hard : pierce with a skewer and sprinkle with concentrated juice. Wrap up the cake in food wrapping and keep for a day or two.
If a souffle collapses : return it to the oven immediately. Usually it will puff up again in a few minutes and you can try removing it again.
If a cake sticks to the tin : wring a cloth out of hot water and place it under the tin until the cake loosens.
Now how about some really yummy sweet things from the oven!
Chocolate pudding with coconut
Lemon Pudding
Chocolate mud cake
Till we bake together again!
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Drive away the monsoon blues


How better to spend a wet monsoon day than with a cup of hot tea accompanied by a plateful of hot and crispy bhajias? Tempting though this may be it is not very healthy especially during this season when out digestive systems are not at their best. But an occasional indulgence in these goodies is definitely called for.

I do not want to shatter the enjoyable dream of having bhajias on a rainy day, but to be on the safe side I will give you ideas that can work not only for pleasure of the palate but also will not make the digestive system work hard. I agree that pakoras, dal wadas, batata wadas, besan toast, medu wadas are the most favoured in this season. The fact is that deep fried things satisfy the palate deeply especially because the hunger pangs work overtime. But no amount of draining the fried goodies on absorbent paper can work to decrease the calories in the food. So here are some alternatives that might please you.

You can have dhoklas made with fermented batters in a variety of combinations. They are healthy and when tempered lightly with oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame give a fulfilling texture that pleases the palate. You can have these with green chutney or with sweet tamarind chutney or the ubiquitous tomato ketchup.

Dosas and uttappams are great too specially when you have them hot from the tawas. Top uttappams with onions or cashewnuts or tomatoes even with sev – they not whet your visual appetite they fill up your stomachs too. Hot sambhar and coconut chutney pep them up further.

Corn on the cob is a favourite monsoon snack. Have them roasted over (if possible) coal fire or even on the gas flame and sprinkled with herbs and spices. Or just boil the kernels, mix them with chopped onions and chopped tomatoes sprinkled with chaat masala and lemon juice.

Another favourite and wholesome snack could be ragda pattice or chole tikki. Top them with chutneys and chopped onions – they are absolute tongue ticklers.

You can always round off with a cup of hot masala tea or even a cup of hot milk lightly flavoured with dry ginger powder.

Given here are some snacks that would work wonders and drive away those monsoon blues in no time.

Baked Potato Wedges
Fresh Mini Pita with Hummus
Olive Upma

Make them, serve them, have them and simply enjoy!

Sanjeev Kapoor.