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.

Sweet offerings for Diwali

As Diwali draws near, there is so much talk about making mithais at home this year! Well, kaju katli is a personal favourite but let us veer away from the ordinary and make Badam Katli.
Of all nut based mithais Badam Katli is becoming quite a rage. And at one time I used to wonder why? And then I decided to go a little bit in depth researching it. The best is made of a delicate mixture of coarsely ground almond powder and powdered sugar. Some more in-depth research gave me the info that the almonds should be of topmost quality as also the grinding of it be done in short bursts of the grinder so that the heat generated does not harm the flavours which will begin to emanate once the almonds undergo the grind. Badam Katli, per se, is dull in colour, the upper layer prettied up with silver warq, shaped like diamonds and more important, as thin as one eighth of an inch.
For me the best Badam Katli is the one my wife Alyona makes at home. I have always maintained there is nothing like ghar ka khana and that is the absolute truth. Not only that, one can get more quantity for a lesser price! So this Diwali, let’s roll out sweet carpets of silver covered badam katli and treat our loved ones to home made mithai. For more such recipes click on Kaju Katli, Blueberry Sandwich Katli, Badami Besan ke Laddoo
How to make Badam Katli:
Blanch 250 grams almonds in two cups of boiling water for five minutes. Drain and peel. Spread the almonds on an absorbent towel to dry. Once completely dried, dry roast the almonds in a non stick pan for about seven minutes or till fragrant and light brown. Cool and powder. This makes (yield 190 grams). Cook 190 grams (¾ cup) sugar with three fourth cup of water in another non stick pan, stirring continuously till the sugar dissolves. Add 1 tablespoon milk and when the scum rises to the top, remove it with a ladle and discard. Cook the syrup till it reaches multi-thread or hard ball consistency. Take the pan off the heat and add the almond powder and 1¼ teaspoons liquid glucose and mix well. Continue to mix till the mixture is smooth and pliable. Transfer the mixture onto a flat surface and spread to cool a bit. Knead with your hands. Grease a table top with ghee and roll out the mixture to about quarter inch thickness taking care that the same thickness is maintained throughout. Rub the surface with butter paper. Decorate with silver varq, cut into diamonds and serve.

The month goes rolling by fast!

Showed today on Aaj Takchannel an intriguing recipe of Rainbow Rice. Had the shoot yesterday in my office studio kitchen and I had a rather rushed day. Came back on late night 21st from Korea, then this shoot the following morning, and straight after rushed to Powai as I had a speaking engagement for IRF Consumer Insights. The topic was “Understanding the Urban Middle Class Indian Housewife.” Soon after, came back to office as there were some meetings and interviews lined up!
Rainbow Rice
After all this, was present at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, today, for the Times Hospitality Expo 2011 to inaugurate the event with other renowned celebrities like Mr. Chaggan Bujbal (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation), Mr. Anil Deshmukh (Food and Civil Minister), Mr. Ajay Chopra (Master Chef, TV Celebrity Chef), Ms. Tarla Dalal (food critic), Abhijeet MukherjeE (VP Taj Luxury Properties, all over India), Mr. Vithal Kamath (Orchid Group/Kamath Group). The star attraction for this show was the demonstration and seminar by WICA association.
At the Times Hospitality Expo 2011 with other delegates
Going to Amritsar on Saturday, the 24th, to attend the two day HRANI Convention where I’ll be joined by some other delegates like Mr. Suresh Kumar (CEO, Fortune Park Hotels, ITC Group), Mr. Patu Keswani (CMD, Lemon Tree Hotels), Mr. Samir Kuckreja (CEO&MD Nirula’s; President, National Restaurant Association of India, NRAI), Mr. Vikram Bakshi (MD, McDonald’s, India) and the likes. For the session “F&B forms an important part of hotel revenue”, some points that I will be speaking about will be:
How to drive profits from F&B?
Should hotels outsource the F&B?
Would it be an advantage for 1-3 star hotels to allow delivery of food to rooms rather than investing in their own kitchen in restaurants?
Again, Day 2 will begin with a heritage walk through the old city of Amritsar visiting the Jalianwala Bagh and Golden Temple followed by the rest of the presentations and finally wrapping up with a cocktail lunch and a tour to Wagah Border. Quite an interesting trip, I must say!
Mid next week is my session in Hyderabad with the Billion Hearts Beating (BHB) Foundation to mark the World Heart Day. On 29th in Chennai for one more event related to the BHB activities.
As this month folds up, we will be planning another shooting schedule for Sanjeev Kapoor’s Kitchen on FoodFood. October is the month of launches: new look http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com and an all new Hindi http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com
Giving you all a taste of authentic Amritsari khana with…

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Gajar halwa – The dessert of winter

Gajar halwa or, as we fondly call it in northern India, gajrela, is a famous sweet made in all Punjabi homes during winter. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some even like it nine days old! It does take to refrigeration well and some families always have a large tin of gajar halwa so that they can enjoy it for as long as it lasts.
It is a must as a winter dessert. However, this dessert is high in calories and carbohydrates, so those who are conscious about their sugar intake can take a tip or two from my variations in Gajar and Khajur Halwa as well as Sugarfree Gajar Halwa. If you diabetic, or borderline diabetic, be careful about what you eat during the rest of the day, and save it for special occasions. The challenge in making a tasty gajar halwa with some compromise lies in retaining the full-bodied sweetness of the carrots and not to mask it with added sweeteners. My addition of dates is an attempt to reduce the amount of sugar and make the dessert healthier.
To make Gajar and Khajur ka Halwa, first heat a kadai. Add 8-10 medium grated carrots and ½ cup sugar and cook for about five minutes. Add 2 cups skimmed milk and continue to cook. Add ¾ cup seeded and chopped dates, 8-10 roughly chopped cashewnuts, ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder and mix. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes. When dry and cooked, add 2 tablespoons pure ghee. Mix well and this is best served hot. To use a sugar substitute, heat 3 tablespoons pure ghee in a kadai. Add 8-10 medium grated carrots and sauté for about five minutes. Add 2 cups skimmed milk and cook. Blanch 10-12 pistachios, peel and slice. Add ¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder, 10-15 sultanas, 18 measures sugarfree and mix. Cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. Add ¼ cup grated khoya and mix. Cook till the mixture is almost dry. Garnish with pistachios. Serve hot or cold.
When carrots are in season you could look at various savory options like Gajar Tamatar Pulao or Methi Gajar Muthia too. For different ideas during Diwali you could also make a Gajar Halwa Burfi or Gajar Kheer. But ask any Indian, settled in the east or the west, they will claim that gajar halwa is the best!

From the Korean land…

Here in Korea, for a business trip regarding Wonderchef. Left home on Friday, reached here and spent yesterday in Seoul…it has this eye opening high density landscape, just a vast array of skyscrapers! The city is fast, Mumbai seems slower. Have to catch up with the meetings scheduled for today in Busan, or Pusan as some still call it, and have to take some time off in the evening and explore the place a bit. Busan is just like Seoul, a busy metropolitan city of South Korea.
Back in home, the kids are busy preparing and studying for the half yearly examinations that begin today…As is the case always, Alyona will be cooking their favourites.

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor as Chief Crusader for the Billion Hearts Beating initiative on World Heart Day

World Heart Day falls on September 29. It is being celebrated nationwide by the Billion Hearts Beating Foundation, 3 year old initiative of Apollo Hospitals. The Billion Hearts Beating aims to make 1 billion Indians truly aware of the fact that heart issues are not just genetic but also can be controlled through lifestyle.
As an integral part of the 5 day run-up to the World Heart Day on September 29 , the Foundation is planning a series of activities on-air and on-ground, as part of the Happy Heart Fest. There are 5 Controls identified that if followed, make the heart stronger. These are an Active Lifestyle, Cut Smoking, Regular Health Check-ups, Beat Stress and a Healthy Diet. 5 Crusaders have been selected to represent one control each. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is one of these 5 Crusaders, to propagate awareness about a Healthy Diet for a stronger heart. He will be sharing his 10 favorite cholesterol free recipes with health tips for a healthy heart as part of this initiative. His top 10 health + taste vignettes will be visible on www.billionheartsbeating.com.
Along with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, various other celebrities are coming forward pro-bono to make this endeavour a national movement. They include celebrities like Anoushka Shankar (sitarist), actor Ayesha Takia, youth icon Rannvijay Singh, health guru Mickey Mehta, and many others. The activities include subsidized check ups across Apollo Hospitals, cholesterol free cooking workshops on ground, the world’s largest Ash-tray to go around Delhi University to invite youngsters to stub their cigarettes, and a host of top musicians to come together to sing a CALM SONG, a bid to leave stress behind at the end of each days. This will be launched against a red-lit Charminar at a high impact Press Conference, attended by celebrities, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, and various other luminaries like the Chief Minister himself. Each day of the week is loaded by celebrity presence, representing causes and activities.
Enjoy some heart friendly recipes today!

Till i write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Biryanis –rich legacy of the past

Biryani recipes are always welcome, the more the merrier, because biryanis are visual delights – a beautiful array of long-grained rice, tender meat, pungent spices, flavourful nuts and most often, orange strands of exotic saffron.
A good biryani will typically depend on a good biryani recipe. A biryani is best prepared by a method called ‘dum dena’ : dum literally means breath and the process involves placing the semi cooked ingredients in a pot or deg, sealing the utensil with flour dough and applying very slow charcoal fire from top, by placing some live charcoal on the lid and some below. The magic of dum is the excellent aroma, flavour and texture which results from slow cooking.
Let me take you on a whirlwind tour into the world of biryanis and be prepared to have your mouth watering as you read on.
Chilman biryani: Lamb biryani cooked on low heat with a sprinkling of kewra, this dish is covered with a rich dough of flour, butter and water. This chilman (puff) is unveiled at the time of serving.
Asaf Jahi Degchi Biryani: This creation calls for mutton chops to be smothered in a yogurt based marinade with a lot of garlic, ginger and garam masala. As the rice is done with the flavours of cardamoms, bay leaves and black peppercorns, the final presentation is joyfully covered with halves of boiled eggs, chopped coriander and mint.
Yakhni Pulao: If it’s a Nawab who is judging a biryani competition, Yakhni Pulao would get all the prizes! Biryani is the ‘country-cousin’ of this exalted pulao which is basically an aesthetic blend of rich mutton stock, aromatic spices and rice. Inclusion of mutton pieces is optional as the mutton stock is enough to make a flavourful meal.
Kofta Pulao: Whoever thought of adding koftas to long grain rice and turning this into a biryani, is sure an innovative mind. The Kofta Pulao – white fluffy rice dotted with balls of minced meat in league with rose water, saffron and whole masala is a highlight of many formal dinners.
Mutanjan: A challenging preparation what with the amount of sugar that goes into it. Yes, Mutanjan has equal amounts of rice, mutton and sugar! The masalas: black peppercorns, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, bay leaves, cloves compliment the final flavour whereas the saffron, kewra, rose water and curds give the touch of all that is biryani.
Lucknowi Biryani: This delight from Lucknow has all the basic ingredients of mutton biryani but with a small addition of two to three drops of sweet itter.
Zarda Pulao: Sweet rice with khoya, saffron and kewra, sprinkled lavishly with slivers of almonds, pistachios and covered with silver foil.
Many biryani recipes like Kachche Gosht ki Biryani, Brown Rice Biryani with Chutney Chicken are easily available on the website http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com and you might just come across some other unusual ones too!