Dry Fruit Bliss Balls

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Diwali is right here and I can’t contain my excitement. Meeting friends and family, wearing new closed, decorating each corner of the house and then the most important part – eating the most amazing array of food. The festive happiness spread to every nook and corner of the house. The flowers, the diyas, those little lights, all ready to adorn my house and then the laddus and cookies all making my kitchen smell sweet and fragrant.

I try to lose my self control during my favorite festival of the year and this year is going to be no different. Yes, I will gorge on the traditional desserts and some fried snacks during get togethers but then I will try to watch and eat. I know its slightly difficult but these pretty Dry Fruit Bliss Balls solves this problem. No compromise on the fun, food and flavor for sure!

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These dry fruit loaded bliss balls is an amazing way to serve your desserts + dry fruits this year. Pop them into your mouth and your sweet craving is taken of. Dry fruits and Diwali brings back lots of childhood memories. I have grown up watching my parents gifting dry fruits to friends and family or offering dry fruits to guests when they came to greet. This treasure trove of dry fruits is a nice twist to the usual bowl of mixed dry fruits. Fun and an easy affair, this yummy bliss ball will solve all your end minute stressful Diwali preparation.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 12 – 14 balls)

  • 1 cup Mejdool Dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 3 tbsp almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut + extra for rolling
  • 2 tbsp black chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 5 – 6 saffron strands, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp cold pressed coconut oil (optional)

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METHOD:

  • In a food processor put dates, figs, raisins, almonds, pistachios, desiccated coconut, walnuts, poppy seeds, chia seeds, cardamom powder and saffron strands and  blitz it until the mixture doesn’t have big chunks of dry fruits.
  • Add coconut oil and grind it again. Make sure not to over grind it else you will get dry fruit butter.
  • Scrape down the sides of the food processor and transfer the mixture into a bowl.
  • Take 3/4 – 1 tbsp of the mixture and make balls out of it. Roll it into desiccated coconut and keep aside.
  • You can keep the bliss balls at room temperature and serve within 1 day or keep it in the fridge and serve cold.

Happy Diwali!

 

 

 

 

Kheer – Diwali Special

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The quintessential Indian dessert made in every household is Kheer. I have grown up watching my grand mom and my mum making the most delicious Kheer ever. Patiently waiting for the milk to thicken, the rice to be perfectly cooked, the perfect amount of sugar and garnished with chopped dry fruits – already struck with nostalgia. Whether its a festival, any small function at home or an auspicious celebration – that Kheer is imperative.

Creamy and luscious, one spoon is never enough. Such a humble dish yet always a treat for your taste buds. A hot day and the chilled Kheer beckons and with the nip in the air, a bowl of hot Kheer is what is soul-satisfying. The aroma of the saffron and cardamom is quite inviting and the dried fruits adds the much needed richness and crunch to the dish.

With festivals just round the corner, this recipe is not to be missed. Made with basic pantry staples, this recipe is a no brainer. This recipe is a must in your repository. It’s easy to fall in love with it each and every time.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (for 3 – 4 people)

  • 1 litre full fat milk
  • 1/3 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 6 – 7 tbsp sugar (you can adjust the quantity as per your liking)
  • 5 – 6 saffron strands
  • 3 pieces green cardamom, powdered
  • 1 tbsp unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp blanced and slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp dried rose petals (optional)
  •  10 – 12 pieces cashew nut (optional)

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METHOD:

  • Soak the rice in water for 40 – 45 minutes and rinse it nicey with water several times to remove the starch.
  • Meanwhile put the milk to boil on low flame in a saucepan. Keep stirring it continuously to avoid it from sticking to the botton of the saucepan.
  • Once the milk is reduce to slighlty more than half the quantity, add the soaked rice. Make sure to drain the water and add the rice to the milk.
  • Keep stirring it intermittently and let the rice cook on low flame.
  • Once the rice is 80% cooked and the milk thickens, add sugar to the mixture and stir it.
  • Now once the rice is 95% cooked, add the cardamom powder, saffron strands, cashew nuts, almonds slivers and pistachios and mix it.
  • Remove it from the flame and garnish with dried rose petals. Serve it hot or chilled as you like it!

 

 

Puran Poli – Ganesh Chaturthi Special

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Indian festivals means myraid of colors all around, lots of happiness and smiles and most importantly lots of good food to eat. When I say eat, I actually mean indulge. The gas flame continuously on, everyone gathered in the kitchen, someone being the executive chef of the house making sure everything is on track and as per the plan, some being the sous chef making those sweet and exotic Indian dishes while some being the critic. It is an absolute sight to witness!

Staying away from home makes me nostaligic about every festival. I miss the fun amidst choas and commotion. Childhood memories stir back when mum spent hours in the kitchen making traditional food, everyone wore new clothes and the entire house beautifully adorned with fresh flowers. And not to forget the mandir (temple) of the house is lit up so well and everyone offers their prayer to the Almighty.

Being a mother to a 2 year old little (not so little anymore) master, I try to imbibe traditional values in him. Needless to say his grandparents have nutured the spiritual and religious side in him right from birth and I can already see the seed growing. He loves his Ganpati Bappa, wakes up every morning chanting loudly “Ganpati Bappa Moriya”. He chants the aarti in his sweet little obscure language, wants to blow the mini conch and ring the bell kept in our mandir. And… when he looks at the sweets offered to God, he wants to pounce on it almost instantaneaously.

With Ganesh Chaturthi almost a day away, the prepartions have already started. Festive bells ringing in the house. And this Puran Poli is a traditional dish offered to Lord Ganesha for his love of sweet Indian flatbreads. Soft, sweet and bursting with Indian aromatic spices, this flatbread is a must try recipe to celebrate the coming on Lord Ganesha this year!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 8 parathas)

For the Puri dough:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour + more for rolling out the parathas
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of salt
  • water, to knead

For the filling:

  • 1 cup Chana Dal
  • 3/4 cup jaggery powder (you can remove 1 tbsp jaggeory if you don’t like it too sweet)
  • 2 tbsp ghee + more for frying the flatbread
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3/4 tsp dry ginger powder
  • 5 cardamom pods

METHOD:

For the filling:

  • Soak the chana dal in water for atleast 20 minutes. Once done wash it under running water and drain the water.
  • In a pressure cooker, put the chana daal with water. Cover the lid and allow it to cook for 7 – 8 whistles.
  • Once done, remove it from the heat and allow the steam to escpe completely before opening the lid. Open the lid, strain the excess water and keep the water and the cooked dal aside separately.
  • Meanwhile in a mixer grinder, take fennel seeds, dry ginger power and cardamom pods and grind it until it forms a lump free powder.
  • Heat a saucepan on medium flame. Add ghee and the the spice powder mix made in the previous step. Stir it for 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Add the cooked chana dal and mix it for a minute or so. Now add the jaggery powder and put the gas on low flame. Mix the mixture and allow it to cook stirring occasionaly in a gap of 60 – 90 seconds.
  • The entire mixture should be dry and slightly thick. Once done, remove it from the flame and allow the mixture to cool.
  • In case you can see chana dal pieces, then mash it using a potato masher while it is hot. Keep the mixture aside.

For the dough:

  • Mix whole wheat atta, turmeric powder, salt, oil and water in a bowl and knead it to form a soft dough. Do not add all the water at once. Keep adding water little by little.
  • Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep aside for 10 minutes.

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For the Puris:

  • Put the tawa on medium flame.
  • Take 1 1/2 tbsp of the filling and form a ball and keep aside.
  • Take a bit of the dough and using a rolling pin form a small circle. Put the filling in the center. Bring all the edges of the dough to the center and seal it.
  • Sprinkle some flour on the paratha and roll it out to a 7 – 8 inch paratha.
  • Once the tawa is hot put the parathas with spread some ghee on one side.
  • Flip it to the other side after a minute or so and spread some ghee again.
  • Remove it from the pan once cooked on either side.
  • Serve it with homemade ghee or curd.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

Strawberry Shortcakes

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Strawberries in desserts – ultimate food coma! There is always a soft sweet spot in my heart for strawberries. Almost the perfect time to make these and celebrate the month of love with your loved ones. I am completely smitten by the fragrance of the fresh strawberries. They are so fleeting in my house that I have to gather some will power not to gorge on them also hide from others so that I can end up making some desserts out of it. Among all the comforting desserts you can think of strawberry shortcake wins the laurel, hands down.

The buttery base with the tartness and sweetness from the macerated strawberries and the creaminess from whipped cream, all comes together to make a perfect dessert. It is definitely a crowd-pleaser. The syrup of the macerated strawberries is so enticing to your taste buds, that you can end up having those solely. Hence is always better to make a larger portion size.

So now when you are thinking of calling friends and family for get together, make this decadent dessert in no time and enjoy the season of these red ruby pearls!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 10 shortcakes)

For the cream scones:

  • 270 grams all purpose flour
  • 55 grams castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 120 ml whole milk
  • 80 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 grams baking powder
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 750 grams fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 120 grams castor sugar
  • 250 grams heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest

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METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C for atleast 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Firstly  take half of the fresh strawberries and roughly chop them. Using a masher just mash them  gently so that the juices start coming out a little. Now add the remaining roughly chopped strawberries along with 60 grams of castor sugar in a bowl and keep it aside for 35 – 40 minutes until its well macerated.
  • Once macerated, add the lemon zest.
  • Meanwhile, to make the scones, in a bowl add all purpose flour, baking powder, castor sugar  and pinch of salt and whisk it using a wire whisk.
  • Add the cold cut butter cubes and blend in the flour mixture using a pastry blender or your finger tips.
  • Once the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, keep it aside.
  • In another bowl, mix milk, vanilla extract and  1 egg and lightly beat it.
  • Now add the milk-egg mixture to the flour-butter mixture along and fold it gently with a spatula until just combined. Do not over mix it.
  • Slightly flour the surface and knead the dough a little and pat it to form a 7 – 8 inch disc shape. Using a round cookie cutter, cut the dough and place each scone dough into the baking sheet.
  • Now take a pastry brush and brush the top of the scones with the  remaining lightly beaten egg to get a good color.
  • Bake the scones for 15- 17 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Allow it to cool on the wire rack for a while once its completed baking.
  • Meanwhile, chill a bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. Take the whipping cream and remaining sugar and whip it until stiff peaks form.
  • To assemble cut the scones horizontally. Put some whipped cream on the lower half. Top it with a generous amount of macerated strawberries. You could also first put the strawberries and the place the whipped cream. Put the remaining half of the scone.
  • Drizzle some juices obtained from macerated strawberries on the scone and now serve!

 

 

 

Chocolate and Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

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Chocolate, peppermint and sugar – a match made in heaven! These are my favorite holiday cookies and oh so addictive. The decadent chocolate cookies encased in sugar is nothing short of blissfulness. So if you haven’t yet started baking your holiday cookies, it’s Happy Christmas Cookie Baking Friday!

The melt in your mouth center and the crispiness towards the edges of these cookies with a generous coating of sugar makes it look simple and darn pretty. Though I don’t live in that part of the world where it snows, but looking at the pictures in the books since childhood (and now Facebook and Google) these crinkle cookies are just everything I have envisioned about Christmas – snowy wonderland that tastes delicious. The cracking of the cookies while its baking in the oven is so satisfying that it make you want to eat the cookies right away.

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So if you need some quick and easy to make cookies to adorn your Christmas dessert tray then these crinkle cookies is your resort. It’s Christmas, it’s time to indulge and it’s time to bake these chocolate and peppermint crinkle cookies for your friends and family now.

Merry Christmas!

RECIPE

INGREDIENT: (Makes 15 cookies)

  • 30 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 130 grams dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 55% dark chocolate)
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 grams granulated sugar
  • 90 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppermint essence
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar, for coating

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METHOD:

  • Using double boiler method, melt roughly chopped chocolate and unsalted butter until the chocolate has completely melted.
  • Keep the melted chocolate and butter mixture aside and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, beat granulated sugar and egg using a electric beater until light and fluffy.
  • Now add vanilla extract, peppermint essence and room temperature melted chocolate mixture and beat it just incorporated.
  • Now in a separate bowl, whisk all purpose flour, baking powder and salt using a wire whisk and keep aside.
  • Now all the flour mixture to the egg-chocolate mixture and beat until it forms a dough and is well mixed.
  • Cling wrap the dough and refrigerate atleast for 4 hours or preferably overnight.
  • Preheat your oven to 160C for atleast 15 minutes. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Take a tablespoon of the dough and make a ball out of it. (You can choose to flatten it a little).
  • Generously coat the chocolate ball with icing sugar. Repeat it with the remaining dough and place it on the baking sheet with each ball being 2 inches apart.
  • Bake the cookie for 7 – 8 minutes. Please do not over bake it since the cookie will become dry.
  • Allow the cookies to cool slightly and indulge! These cookies are best when eaten the day its baked. However you can store these cookies in an airtight container for 2 – 3 days.

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Happy holidays and Merry Xmas!

 

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been planning to bake a Pineapple Upside Down Cake and everyday ended with moving it to tomorrows to-do list. However, after so much procrastination, I managed to bake one and here it is on my blog for all you people!

This petite pineapple upside down cake is simply adorable. Not only is it decadent but it pretty to look at so much so that you want to dig in for another (big) bite. The cake screams pineapple and reignites tropical flavors on your palate. I remember as child I was never aware of an upside down cake. My only exposure with pineapple in a dessert was pineapple gâteaux, which my entire family looked forward to over weekends. And this classic PINEAPPLE upside down cake has won my heart over again! The tropical fruitiness from the pineapple and the caramelization from the butter and brown sugar adds deep bold flavors into the cake.

Ornate the cake with fresh cherries, lemon zest infused whipped cream and a few basil leaves, it leaves a rich lingering effect. So if you don’t worry about those extra calories, its time to put your apron on and bake this scrumptious cake for pure divine indulgence!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENT: (Makes 4 – 4.5 inch ramekin cakes)

  • 250 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest from 1 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 grams oil
  • 170 grams brown sugar
  • 60 grams unsalted butter+ extra for greasing
  • 8 pineapple slices (fresh/canned, I used canned)
  • cherries, for garnishing (optional)
  • basil leaves, for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 tbsp caramel sauce, for garnishing (optional)
  • whipped cream, for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 tbsp granola, for garnishing (optional)

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METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C for atleast 15 minutes. Meanwhile grease the ramekins with generous amount of butter and keep aside.
  • In a saucepan take butter and brown sugar and stir it over medium heat, until sugar and butter have dissolved.
  • Keep stirring it to avoid it from burning and once you see slight bubbles on the side remove it from the heat.
  • Transfer this mixture evenly between the four greased ramekins.
  • Take the canned pineapple slices, dab it with kitchen towel and arrange it on top of the sugar mixture in the ramekins evenly. You can also place a few cherry pieces.
  • Meanwhile using an electric beater, beat oil and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat it until its fully incorporated.
  • Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and fold the mixture.
  • In another bowl sieve all purpose flour and baking powder together and keep aside.
  • Now add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with milk and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Fold it gently until all the ingredients have been well incorporated.
  • Transfer the batter evenly into each ramekin (filling only upto 3/4th its volume) and put it to bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Once baked, allow the cake to cool down, invert it upside down on a platter and here you have your pineapple upside down cake.
  • You can garnish it with whipped cream and basil combination or brush a layer of caramel sauce on the plate and garnish it with granola.

ENJOY!

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No Bake Granola Bars

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Granola bars have become my absolute favorite snack. They satiate my sweet cravings in a healthy way. These happiness health food bars have solved my problem of binge eating to a great extent. Its a complete powerhouse to keep you going through the day.

Living in San Francisco, I ended up hiking a lot. Beautiful weather, picturesque vista points and great company. Some healthy and mess free snack was so important and this is when I resorted to granola bars from Trader Joes. They were delicious and my favorite. Moving back to India I started missing them especially during my snack time. So I decided to make my version of granola bars, mixing some ingredients that I love and that are easily available. Homemade bars are indeed so much more delicious.

With every minute being precious at morning, I fail to cook lavish breakfast for my family. Finally these granola bars have come handy. You can have it as your morning energy meal or your afternoon snack with a cup of coffee, its wholesome and super healthy. Keep tinkering with different ingredients you have at your home, the possibilities are going to be endless and the result – some marvelously yummy granola bars!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 6 – 8 bars)

  • 1/2 cup + 6 tbsp rolled oats (I used Quaker oats, toasted lightly)
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tbsp dark choco chips
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD:

  • In a bowl mix peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract and keep aside.
  • In another bowl mix lightly toasted rolled oats, almonds, chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.
  • Now add the wet and the dry ingredients together. The mixture might be very difficult to work with since it might be dry but mix it well.
  • Lastly when all the above ingredients are well incorporated, add the choco chips and mix well.
  • Line a baking dish/ tin with parchment paper with sufficient parchment paper on the sides so that we can life up the mixture later using the parchment paper.
  • Transfer the granola mixture to the baking dish and press it down firmly so that no gaps are left in the corner.
  • Allow it to set in the refrigerator for atleast 2 hours or until firm and it holds its shape.
  • Once set, lift the entire mixture using the extra parchment paper in the sides. Using a sharp knife cut it into bars of even size and enjoy!

NOTES:

  • Put the oats on a baking tray lined with baking paper and toast it for 7 – 8 minutes at 150C in a preheated oven.
  •  You can use white chocolate chips  instead of dark chocolate chips
  • You can use flax seeds instead of chia seeds.