Winter is here, so bring on some halwa

Say winter, say halwa, and the first one that comes to mind is Gajar Halwa. Sweet and juicy carrots, all in their seasonal vibrant colour, are best for Gajar Halwa. If you can get these sort of carrots, then the result is a guaranteed success.
Gajar Halwa can be made the traditional way in the kadai or if you please, also very quickly in the pressure cooker. Here is how:
Traditional Gajar Halwa:
Heat ¼ cup pure ghee in a thick-bottomed pan; add 8-10 medium grated carrots and sauté for five minutes. Add 1 cup milk and ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder and cook over medium heat for five to six minutes or until the milk evaporates and the carrots are cooked. Stir in 1 cup grated khoya and 1 cup sugar and cook, stirring continuously, for two to three minutes, or till the sugar melts. Add 2 tablespoons raisins and 8-10cashew nuts and continue to cook for two more minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Quick Gajar Halwa:
Add 7-8 grated carrots and 4 tablespoons sugar in a pressure cooker. Add a little water, close the lid and cook till 2 whistles. Allow the cooker to cool completely and open lid. Add 3 tablespoons ghee, 1 cup grated khoya and ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder. Mix well, cook for 3-4 minutes or till moisture dries up completely. Add 10-12 sliced almonds and 10-12 sliced pistachios and mix well. Serve hot.
For variety try these too.
Doodhi Halwa:
Peel 500 grams gourd, scrape out the seeds. Grate it finely. Heat 3 cups milk and reduce to around two cups. Heat 3-4 tablespoons pure ghee in a pan, add the grated gourd and sauté for five to seven minutes. Add reduced milk and cook, stirring continuously, till all the liquid content has evaporated. Add ¼ cup sugar, 10 chopped cashewnuts and 10 chopped pistachios and ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder. Cook till the sugar dissolves and the mixture is semi dry. Serve hot or cold.
Coarsely grind 15 chopped chickoos. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a non stick kadai, add 1 tablespoon each of chopped pistachios and almonds, chickoo paste, mix well and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add ½ cup sugar, 1 cup grated khoya, mix well, cook on low heat, stirring continuously for 5-6 minutes or till ghee separates. Add 1 cup milk, mix, cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serve hot or chilled garnished with 1 teaspoon almond slivers.
Would you like some more?
Try Aloo & Beetroot ka Halwa, Apple & Almond Halwa, Dry Fruit Oatmeal Halwa! But I repeat, east or west, Gajar Halwa is really the best!

A cricket win for us!

Sports ‘n activity are always an exciting spot in this hectic life! Our team Khana Khazana Spice Routers kicked off the Blue Sky Cricket Tournament early morning Sunday. Winners of the trophy last year, our team again outplayed the opponents yesterday, Kumar Metals, and so have already qualified to play in the next round on December 10. Dilpreet Singh Kohli scored the essential runs and our office boy Shrikant took an all important wicket at the crucial stage. Congratulations and well done!
Saturday, went to cool cool Pune. It is good weather there. I was on the jury of the Upper Crust Celebrity Mystery Basket Contest held at the first edition of the Upper Crust Food and Wine Show, Pune. The panel had eminent chefs from various hotels. Good to meet all the excited contestants and see the passion they had for cooking!
The weekend was good and refreshing and rightly so because the week before was quite hectic with a packed shooting schedule of Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana. You have so much to look forward to in the show: cooking with veggies – I have already told you about that, then some easy Chinese recipes too with them. Lovely recipes absolutely ideal for the wintery month of December that has a good seasonal produce of colourful vegetables and fruits both.
Our new website is getting warmer! December is packed with Christmas goodies that can also be stretched out into your New Year menus…also being prepared for you is a huge platter of recipes using Chocolate, the eternal favourite of so many! Those who want quick recipes look out for our Under 10 minutes snacks….there is lots more in store for you just around the corner!
So till then, let’s say a nice good bye to November with yummy soup recipes!
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Cakes and Bakes and Jingle Bell

Christmas Cake recipeswould take you into a world of flour, dried fruits, rum and what not. Why not make a deviation this year and try some fruit cakes too. Something new with the traditional, it always works. I have also some of you asking for baking tips.

So here goes:

To make a cake spongier and better

  • Always keep the oven preheated while making any cake.

  • If you are making a fatless sponge then the secret lies in beating the eggs with the sugar to the stage where the batter forms ribbons when you pour it.

  • In the case of a cake with fat, the lightest cake would be one with even and small texture so ensure that you beat the butter and sugar well till light and creamy. Bake as soon as the batter is ready. Do not make the batter too thin.

  • In case of cake without eggs, make the batter using drinking soda and soda bicarbonate both. It aerates the cake well.

Which icing works where?

  • Fresh cream icing is best on light sponges with fruits.

  • Thick chocolate glazed icing is best on rich chocolate cakes.

  • Butter cream icing is favoured for birthday cakes where you need to use different colours and nozzle designs. Invest in disposable icing bags.

  • Any cake is best iced in a cool room, away from the direct breeze of the fan.

Why does a cake go flat?

  • If the baking powder and/or soda bicarbonate is not fresh and therefore not very effective.

  • If the batter is overly thin, then also the cake does not rise too well.

  • If the temperature is too high in the oven, the cake rises quickly and seems to be done but the inside is uncooked and hence cake falls flat when you remove it from oven.

  • If the cake tin is too large for the quantity of batter, you will get a flat cake.

Now some quick Christmas cakes. Check out Orange Marmalade cake and Date and Walnut Cake. For other choices look at Apple cake.

Christmas cake recipes are best preserved in your diary. Get your recipes perfected with every passing year.