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.

Puddings and more!

Christmas dinner is a fantastic collection of carefully chosen recipes. We have run through the gamut of courses and the most important, those who have a sweet tooth will sit up, is the dessert course. Well, why not have a number of small presentations and give your family and guests a choice. Or, if they please have them all! After all, Christmas dinner needs to be grand feast!
So now that we have to decide the sweet somethings, always remember there is always coffee and cake or coffee and cookies. Those who want to impress with new culinary talent, try reading through these recipes.
Best served in shot glasses
For those who love ice cream with a difference

For those who love heavy desserts
Sweets, cakes, cookies, puddings, brownies, what have you! Not to forget chocolates and its various derivations in desserts! Christmas dinner is really an indulgent meal but remember, as the year ends and then New Year dawns, make that resolution to shed all the extra weight and enjoy good health!

Making of my show

January saw the launch of FoodFood TV channel and the last few months seem to have passed by in the blink of the eye! They say time flies, and I would say, so true! We are about to wrap up the eleventh month of 2011 and this year has been a year of tremendous learning. I would say, any step you take, toward achieving something new, it bound to give you some learning. I am now in the middle of another schedule of shoots for my show on FoodFood and with each schedule the ideas seem to flow easier, the management seems to be easier plus we are extra careful not to repeat all the mistakes that wasted any resources in the previous shoot schedule. My focus, and soon you shall see, is on vegetables and how they are wonderful main courses in Indian cuisine. You are going to be totally floored by what the humble vegetables can play up to on your table.
Interestingly, vegetables are often recommended in abundance in reducing diets because of their very small energy contribution and their large amount of water. In fact, green beans, cabbage etc have more that 90% water. Vegetables are important in meals to provide not only an array of minerals and vitamins, but also colour, flavour and textural contrasts. More elaboration as the shows are telecast spread out over the coming months.
Spent the weekend in Goa attending an important Marriage. Though it was a hectic and short trip, it is always nice to go there and enjoy some Xacuti, clean breeze and lush greenery.
As I said, my focus in on vegetables, so why not start cooking them right away!
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Christmas table – let it be full and vibrant

Christmas dinner recipes are yours to choose from as there is such an influx of new tasty food right now. Christmas dinner requires a menu that can be planned now, yes, even weeks in advance. A short while ago we did talk about how to make pulaos and biryanis a part of the menu, so here we can actually look at the side dishes, or the accompaniments that can brighten up the Christmas dinner table still some more!
Look at a variety of raitas, salads, dips and chutneys on Look at also what papads can be used for – cones to hold stuffings of your choice. This is an attractive piece to have on the table, edible too!
Move along to raitas that are now sometimes served as course binders in shot glasses! Yes, it works.
  • Tricolour Raita
  • Beetroot Raita
  • Besan Cheela Raita
  • Grapes and Walnut Raita
If there are a number of crisp starters, then chutneys cannot be far behind. Choose from these really winter special chutneys, that reflect warmth.
  • Aloobukhare ki Chutney
  • Apricot and Black Pepper Chutney
  • Bhune Tamatar ki Chutney
How about something substantial as well as nutritious? Talking about salads here. Try out salads with light dressings of olive oil lemon juice, garlic, spices. Heavy cream based dressings using mayonnaise taste great but increase the calories. Avoid buying readymade dressings even if you are tempted too. They can be high in hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. Do not cut up the ingredients so they are so big that they need to be cut while eating the salad, and not so small that the juices and flavours are lost.
You could use some recipes that can be part of your Christmas dinner menu.

Christmas pulaos – One wonderful dish that says it all!

Christmas Dinner recipes can have a platter of pulaos. Well, why not! Pulaos are wonderful when made lovingly with meats or vegetables or paneer or all three! has a magnificent collection of pulao recipes that can be chosen as an integral part of Christmas dinner giving you choices that can cater to any palate.

Rest assured, have plenty of food going around the Christmas table. Make large pans of fragrant pulaos and biryanis and try and make them as vibrantly coloured as possible.
One spectacular dish is Angoori Pulao which shows off some silver balls, so reminiscent of Christmas baubles on the tree!
Baked Eggs and Rice has some sunny side up eggs that are brilliantly yellow and look very inviting. Just ensure that you serve it warm.
Beetroot and Mewa Pulao has that tender blush that will add some charm to the table for sure.
Chilli chicken tomato pulao is something that will add zing to the get together.
Green fried rice looks like Christmas : all white and green!
With pulaos, ensure that you have some small goodies on the side so that the meal is a bit more filling. You could have a variety of snacky bites, or papads, or variations of papads, some raitas or kachumbers. If you have a good chicken or mutton biryani then having a raita or kachumber becomes mandatory. We will hunt out some good recipes for you for the accompaniments for sure.
Christmas dinner is not so far off now. Do hope the baking plan for Christmas goodies has been made, with dotted ‘I’ s and crossed ‘T’ s, meaning, that it is perfect!