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!

Indian mithais – loved the world over

Indian mithai or Indian sweets are the most important feature of the many festivals of India. India is known as the land of festivals and each festival is marked with colour, gaiety, enthusiasm, rituals and prayers. Practically every other day of the year there is a festival celebrated in some part of the country. Though Diwali is one of the biggest and the grandest ones, with this occasion marking the biggest sale of Indian sweets, there are also other festivals like Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Gokulashtami, Durga Puja, Onam, Sankranti. With each festival come the associated sweets which are basically home made. In fact, in many homes people start preparing for Diwali a week in advance. They are totally focused on filling up the snack tins with gujiyas and laddoos.

Indian sweets form an integral part of any celebratory or festive meal. They are perhaps more important than most other courses of the meal and certainly more enjoyable. Indian sweets are mostly served with the meal whereas Western desserts are served at the end of a meal. Whatever the case, be it the famed Gajar Halwa or the desi ghee Gulab Jamuns from Punjab, the sweetness of Mathura Pedas or the crunchiness of a Gujiya from Uttar Pradesh, the different notes of the Choorma and the spongy bites of Ghevar from Rajasthan, the creamy Doodh Pak and Basundi from Gujarat, the Mysore Paak and Payasam from the southern states, the sweet is the most awaited item of the meal.
Traditional Indian sweets are mostly milk based or made from lentils or rice or even sometimes with some flour. Quite a bit of ghee or oil is utilised and of course sugar or jaggery is added to give the sweetness. Ground spices like cardamoms, nutmeg, etc., add flavour and give that extra zing to the exotic sweets. For more of such Indian sweets recipes click on Chocolate and Nut Karanji, Fresh Nariyal Barfi, Malai Peda

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!