Cooking | Double beans curry

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Boiled double beans

Whenever we visit Pune, we always wonder at the innumerable changes happening in and around the city, and we always keep thinking about how our beloved city is changing its face every now and then!

But few things in Pune will never change – and to top the list is Pune’s love for food and the number of eateries this city offers – it has got it all – big or small.

One such place that has never changed much in so many years is the Janseva Bhojanalaya, near Deccan. Even after spending so many years of my life in Pune, I never could go to this restaurant to have a perfect Maharathrian meal. So when we went to Pune to celebrate Diwali, we decided to go for lunch at Janseva. Believe it or not, we had to wait for more than an hour to get seated and enjoy our lunch.

On the festive spread, apart from three desserts and couple more curries, was this double beans/rangooni vaal curry. I have never eaten this before, and it was definitely love at first bite ;).

I like the curry so much that I decided to make it at home – and I am quite happy to report that I was able to replicate the taste of this curry in my own kitchen. 🙂

Before I came back to Vadodara, I visited Pune’s very famous veggie market and got these beautiful beans to carry back home. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Double beans/rangooni vaal, all washed and ready to be cooked!

Let’s get right into the recipe, shall we?

Here is what you will need –

  1. Fresh double bean pods – 500 gms*
  2. Freshly grated coconut – 1/4 cup
  3. Vegetable oil/sunflower oil, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, and asafoetida for tempering
  4. Red chilli powder – 1 tsp or as per taste
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Maharashtrian goda masala or garam masala – 1.5 tsp
  7. Kaccha masala – 1 tsp*
  8. Jaggery – about 2 tsp
  9. Water as needed
  10. Freshly chopped coriander – for garnishing

Here is the step wise procedure –

  1. Shell the pods and remove double beans, set aside. If you do not get fresh pods, you may check dry beans at your grocery store. If using dried beans, soak the beans in enough water overnight.
  2. Wash the beans and boil the beans until you see the skin becomes wrinkled and somewhat loose. Remove the beans from water and set aside. Use the same water to cook your curry in.
  3. In the mean time, when the beans are boiling, in a mixer jar, take grated coconut, red chilli powder, goda masala and kaccha masala. Add little water and blend to a very fine paste. Keep aside.
  4. Heat oil in a deep vessel. Add in the mustard seeds and when they pop, add a generous pinch of asafoetida (asafoetida makes digesting the double beans easy on the stomach). Next, add the coconut and spices paste and roast on slow flame till the oil comes out.
  5. Add the boiled beans, add two cups of water, and salt. Bring to a boil and cook of low to medium flame until the curry reaches desired consistency. Taste for salt, and chilli powder and add more to adjust the taste to your liking.
  6. Add jaggery, and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Take off the heat, add fresh coriander and serve hot with chapati or rice!

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Few notes –

  1. Maharashtrian goda masala is a peculiar spice blend. If you do not get it you can use garam masala, but the taste will be not authtic Maharashtrian.
  2. Kaccha masala – kaccha masala is a quick mixture of coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Take equal amounts of both and give a quick pulse in a mixer. It is called kaccha as in it is not roasted and the seeds are directly ground. You can make your own – do not make it into fine powder. Alternatively you can use coriander powder and cumin powder, but again the taste may differ.

Happy cooking~

Prajakta

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Baking | Multigrain bread for two

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As much as I love baking breads at home, I am always intimidated by the thought of wasting food if the recipe doesn’t work out.. and it’s especially true with the beast called yeast! Not all the time, yeast cooperates and gives you a beautiful bread!

However, when I got a packet of instant active yeast this time, I was determined to bake a bread I have been dreaming about (yes I dream about food ;)).. We get a nice multigrain bread here from a local bakery topped with different seeds which we (I and dear husband) love. I wanted to replicate that but for a small batch for the two of us.

I wasn’t very sure about the measurements and proportions for flour and yeast and was searching aggressively for a good small batch bread recipe, and I found one here.

Everyone who bakes a bread says this and it is so so true – there is no other feeling like baking your own bread and it is such a stress buster! I absolutely feel elevated when the bread comes out of the oven – all crusty and fragrant, and the whole house smells like a quintessential little bakery! 😊

I made some sandwiches for us for the dinner. It was a perfect little weeknight meal. I am sure you will enjoy baking this bread as much as I did. So let us go straight to the recipe – shall we?

Ingredients-

  1. Whole wheat flour – 1/2 cup
  2. Otas flour – 1/4 cup*
  3. Chickpea flour – 1/4 cup
  4. All purpose flour (maida) – 1/4 cup
  5. Amaranth (rajgira/ramdana) flour – 1/4 cup
  6. Oil (any flavourless and odourless oil like vegetable oil or olive oil) – 1 tablespoon
  7. Lukewarm water – 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons
  8. Active dry yeast – 1 and 1/2 teaspoon
  9. Sugar – 2 teaspoons
  10. Salt – 1 teaspoon
  11. White sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, flax seeds and oats – to sprinkle the top of bread
  12. Melted butter – to brush the baked bread

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Here is the stepwise recipe –

  1. In a big mixing bowl, take 1/4 cup warm water (reserve the other 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp water for later use). Add sugar and sprinkle the yeast. Stir with a spoon to somewhat dissolve the sugar. Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon to just combine the yeast mixture and flour. I used active yeast in this recipe, so I did not need to activate it first, however I rested this mixture for about 10 minutes.
  2. Take the yeast and flour mixture on a lightly floured surface. Add salt, mix the dough together lightly. Start kneading the dough by adding more water. The dough needs to be very loose and it will be quite sticky at this stage. I used all the 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water, but you may not need to use all of it. Make sure that the dough is not too stiff and use the quantity of water accordingly.
  3. Add the oil and knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, using very little flour only to not let the dough stick to your hands. Knead the dough using the base of your palms and rolling and gathering it back together. At the end of 10 minutes, the dough should be very elastic and sticking only very slightly.
  4. Place this dough in a the same mixing bowl, coating the bowl with some oil first. Roll the dough upside down so that its coated with oil from all the sides. Rest the dough loosely covered with damp kitchen towel for about 40-45 minutes or until it is doubled in size.
  5. Take the baking dish, I used a 5 inches by 1.5 inches ceramic dish (pictured above). You could use similar baking dish or even a 5 inch cake tin to bake this bread. Alternatively, place a firm layer of aluminium foil strip to convert your regular loaf pan to convert into a smaller pan. Brush the baking dish/pan with oil.
  6. Take the risen dough on the lightly floured surface again, punch the dough down knead for 3-4 minutes until its smooth and shiny. Make the dough into a rough rectangle of the size of your pan and start rolling lengthwise (start from the opposite end of yours and bring the dough towards you), pinching the seams as you roll. Pinch the sides and place the rolled dough in the prepared baking dish. Cover loosely with the damp towel and let rise until its doubled in size or it starts touching the edges of the pan and top of the dough is risen as such about half an inch above the rim of the baking dish.
  7. In the meantime, when the dough is rising in the baking dish, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, placing the tray on middle rack.
  8. Sprinkle the risen dough with the seeds and bake the bread in preheated oven on the middle rack for about 35-40 minutes. If the top is browning too quickly, cover the top with aluminium foil making sure its not touching the top of the bread.
  9. The bread is ready when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (be careful while you check for this as the bread will still be hot).
  10. Let the bread sit in the pan for a couple of minutes. Brush the top of bread with melted butter. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly on a cooling rack.
  11. Serve warm with soup or salad or cool completely and slice to enjoy with tea/coffee or make sandwiches the way I did!

Notes –

  1. Measure 1/4 oats and grind in a mixer to make oats flour. You can use any combination of flours you have in your kitchen.
  2. The bread is not big enough to make regular sized sandwiches, the slices are small rectangles but it was sufficient as a light meal. This recipe makes about 11-12 slices of bread.

~Happy baking

Prajakta

To blog or not to blog…

 

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Believe it or not, it took me nearly 3 months to complete writing this post and I am updating it little by little everyday for almost a week now!

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I have been meaning to post here for really long while. I always had enough ideas to post every week but something or the other stopped it from happening.. sometimes I cooked something but there was no time to take pictures, sometimes I managed to click a few photos but they were not of good quality or telling the story I had in mind and sometimes there was just no motivation.

Above all, how many people will read my blog or who is even missing reading it, was always a question that stopped me.

So why am I writing today?

I have been thinking very hard about the future of my blog.. and I realized that I didn’t want my blog go to dust! I started blogging for my love of food and writing (and the newly developed interest in photography at the time when I first started blogging). And I thought, I still cook, I would still love getting back to put my thoughts in words and I still keep taking pictures of food and other things.. so what is it stopping me from putting up a post here? – Of course, there are just so many things going on in everyday life, but doing what I like doing will only give me courage to put up with everyday struggles of life, right?

Probably, I was just waiting for some motivation – and that came in the form of my comment on one of the Instagram posts of Aparna ji from My Diverse Kitchen! She had posted a picture of colocasia leaves and I commented saying that we make curry from these leaves.

So, here I am.. after really really long time, writing about one curry that’s one of my top favorite food of all time! Let me present to you, aluchi patal bhaji or Maharashtrian style colocasia leaves curry.

Chopped! – Sorrel leaves on the left and colocasia leaves on the right…

Some of you might be familiar with patrode/patra/aluchi wadi (savory colocasia leaves rolls stuffed with spicy chickpeas flour batter and deep-fried) but did you know that you can make a delicious yet comforting curry out of these?

This curry called aluchi patal bhaji is made quite frequently during monsoon months because of its abundance and the dish is easy on stomach which fits in during heavy fasting season . There are also a lot of religious festivities which in the end demand for comforting food, and this curry fits the bill perfectly. It is also made on some special occasions like weddings.

 

If this curry is made to the perfection you can actually drink it by bowls.. it is that tasty and unique!

This curry is quite easy to make although it requires a little bit of preparation ahead of making. Let’s get started!

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Removing skins from the colocasia stems.

What you will need~

1. 7-8 colocasia leaves – tender leaves with stems* (see notes)

2. Handful of sorrel leaves also called aambat chuka (optional)

3. A small radish chopped into thin slices

4. A small fistful peanuts and chana dal (split chickpea lentil) soaked in enough water for 4-5 hours

5. Small lemon sized ball of tamarind (or 2-3 tamarind pods) soaked in enough water for about an hour

6. Few slices of fresh or dry* coconut

7. 1 tablespoon chickpea flour

8. Oil, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric, asafoetida and fenugreek seeds for tempering

9. 2 green chillies chopped into medium pieces or slit vertically but not splitting into two pieces

10. Salt, red chilli powder and jaggery to taste

 

 

 

Here is the step wise procedure~

1. 4-5 hours before you plan to make the curry, soak a fistful of raw peanuts and chickpeas lentils in enough water. Also soak tamarind of the size of small lemon in the water.

2. Cut the stems from leaves and clean colocasia leaves with damp cloth. Clean sorrel leaves (if using) in running water or in a salad spinner. Finely chop colocasia leaves and sorrel leaves. Remove outer skin of the stems and chop them in small pieces. Adding stems to this curry gives it a nice texture but if you don’t find the leaves with stems you can skip those. Pressure cook both colocasia leaves and sorrel leaves along with chopped stems (together or separately) for two whistles.

3. While the leaves are cooking and then cooling down, peel the radish and chop into slices and slices into half circles. Keep aside. Squeeze the tamarind pulp and discard the pods. Chop/slit green chillies, chop coconut into thin slices. If using dry coconut, you can soak the slices in some warm water.

4. Once cooled, mash the cooked leaves with wooden spoon. Add chickpea flour and mix well to remove lumps. Add some water to loosen up the mixture. Set aside.

5. Gather all the ingredients for tempering. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, turmeric and curry leaves. Then add green chillies. Add chopped radish and cook on low to medium flame till radish is slightly cooked. Add a spoonful of water so as not to burn the tempering.

6. Next, add the leaves and chickpea flour mixture. Add about half a cup of water and stir to combine. Add the water with tamarind pulp. Add coconut slices, peanuts and chickpea lentils.

7. Season the curry with about half a teaspoon of red chilli powder, and salt to taste. Add jaggery as per your liking. The curry should not be very sweet but it should balance the sour taste of tamarind.

8. Boil the curry on low flame covered with lid till it thickens to a soup-like consistency. This curry is not very thin but it thickens ever so slightly as it cools down, so keep the consistency on a looser side if you do not plan to serve it immediately.

 

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This curry is best served with steamed white rice with a dollop of ghee. It also pairs nice with Maharashtrian style masale bhat (rice preparation with veggies and spice mix). You can eat the curry with chapatis too.

This recipe makes enough curry to serve a family of four.

Do make this curry and let me know how you like it!

Happy cooking,

Prajakta

 

 

Cooking | Homemade Lemonade/nimbu pani/limbu sarbat

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There are always some dishes associated with season, occasion and stages of life. When summers hit hard and when kids are home during summer holidays, the first and foremost thing mothers (and in general all the folks) think about is our very humble and old nimbu pani or limbu sarbat. With the increasing need of hydrating oneself, how can we not go grab a glass of this easy drink? And what could be the easiest way to welcome your guests?

With the recipe I am sharing with you today, you don’t have to squeeze those lemons every now and then, and keep fishing for the seeds else they dive into somebody’s stomach!

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This easy to make lemon syrup is surely going to be a hit with you… just 3 (sugar, water and of course lemons) ingredients (well, you can count salt, the 4th one if you want to be precise)…and a wee bit of patience… the reward is the easiest way to make nimbu pani or whatever drink you want to put up…because this syrup can also be added to any other fruit juice to make a fancy drink.

Here is what you will need-

  1. Juice of 12 big lemons – strained to remove any seeds and lemon particles
  2. Sugar – 2 and 1/2 cup
  3. Water – 3/4 cup
  4. Salt – 2 tsp

Instructions –

  1. Add sugar and water in the pot. Mix properly and bring to boil. Boil the syrup to a soft ball consistency.
  2. Once the syrup reaches the desired consistency, turn of the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir the mixture so that the lemon juice mixes well with the syrup. Keep stirring the mixture once in a while till it comes to room temperature. Add the salt and mix well. You can use rock/black salt as well.
  3. Your lemon syrup is ready, store the syrup in a clean sterilized glass jar. You can keep the mixture in the fridge but it stays well even at the room temperature. To make nimbu pani or lemonade, take 2 tbsp of syrup in a glass and 1 glass of cold water. You could as well add ice. Mix well and serve chilled.

 

Note: The above quantity makes little less than 2 cups of lemon syrup or around 20 medium size glasses of lemonade. You could add strawberry or other fruit juices to make flavored lemonade.

Let me know if you make my recipes, I would like to know your feedback and suggestions!

Happy summer holidays,

Prajakta

Cooking | Maharashtrian Khandvi

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Maharashtrian Khandavi

Some food memories stay with you for the eternity… and some people leave their mark on your life through the food they cook…you might forget any other traits of that person but usually you will not forget the best dish that someone makes! So is the case of this Khandavi recipe. One of my school teachers used to make this Maharashtrian style fudge and used to distribute among her students on various occassions.. probably this was her favorite dish too…she used to make it quite frequently.

Maharashtrian khandavi is way different from her synonymous which is Gujarati khandavi. This khandavi is a sweet dish made up of sugar cane juice (you read that right!), rice flour and fresh or dried coconut. On the other hand, Gujarati khandavi (which we Maharashtrians refer to as ‘suralichi vadi’) is a savory roll made up of cooking cheak pea flour cooked in buttermilk and stuffed with freshly grated coconut, fresh coriander and then tempered with mustard, cumin and green chilies. Though I like both equally, it must have been ages since I had the recipe I am presenting to you today!

Khandavi is sweet dish which is only mildly sweet and its most commonly sweetened with fresh sugar cane juice…of course, when it is not available one can use jaggery dissolved in water.. but believe me it is nowhere close to this version which uses sugar case juice. Also, you will be presented with this very subtle aqua green color… I was explaining what khandavi is to my neighbor (who quickly became a good friend) during our daily chitchats and I told her about the color and when I made it, it was the exact color I had been dreaming about… I still vividly remember the color and taste when our teacher used to give this to us! I was truly happy that I could recreate those memories…

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Fresh sugar cane juice

So here is what you will need to make this fudge –

  1. Fresh sugarcane juice – 1 cup (ask your juicewala not to add ice, ginger and lemon)
  2. Coarsely ground rice flour – 1/2 cup
  3. Fresh or dry grated coconut – 1/4 cup (I used dry coconut or khobra) plus 1/2 tbsp for garnishing on top
  4. Green cardamom powder – as per your liking
  5. Poppy seeds – a small spoonfull to sprinkle on top
  6. Ghee – 1/2 tbsp plus some more for greasing the tray

Procedure –

  1. A day before you plan to make khandavi, soak 1/2 rice in enough water. Let soak for about 4-6 hours, drain and spread on a kitchen cloth to dry. Once the rice is completely dry, grind to a coarse meal. Set aside.
  2. Prepare a plate or tray by greasing it with ghee. Keep aside.
  3. To make the fudge, heat ghee in a wide pan. Add 1/2 cup rice flour and roast on a slow flame till it changes the color to light pink and it gives a roasted smell.
  4. Turn off the heat. Add 1 cup sugar cane juice and stir well not allowing lumps to form. Quickly add the coconut. Return to heat, keep stirring the mixture. Cover with lid and let it steam cook for a minute or so till all the mixture pulls away from the sides and bottom of the pan.
  5. Pour the mixture into prepared plate/tray and spread evenly. Sprinkle with reserved coconut and poppy seeds, press a little so that they stick on top of the fudge. Let the fudge cool a little bit. Cut in desired shape with a knife washing it in running water after each cut.
  6. Let the fudge cool down completely. You can refrigerate it for some time if it still looks like not completely set.
  7. This fudge can also be served warm with little more freshly grated coconut and ghee.

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As always, I would love to hear your feedback and suggestions!

Happy cooking~

Prajakta

General | Using earthenware

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Cooking pot (haandi), water jug and griddle (tawa)

Sometimes I feel that life moves in a circle. What’s old comes back in a new package and what was new becomes old overnight! Be it fashion, food or the way of life! Take the case of earthen pots and pan..for example!
There was a time when food was cooked only in earthen pots… then came the metallic ones.. from ordinary iron to copper, silver and what not. Technologies advanced and we got our hands on non stick ware and now there are lots of options available only in non stick ware. Come to think of it, our very own cast iron pans have made a fancy comeback and you will see at least one recipe using cast iron skillet on pretty much every food blog out there… not that I am complaining!

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Glasses, mugs, bowls and a cute water bottle!

Coming back to the earthenware,  though in some parts of India, people use earthenware for their daily cooking,  the trend is cropping in urban India as well.

I myself have a descent collection of earthenware.. from tawa to a cool water bottle I even have a small set of bowls and glasses…

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What better way to flaunt my collection than to show it to you all.😉
But this is just not a show off.. here are some health benefits of cooking/eating in the earthen pots:

  1. As these pots are porous in nature, storing the water in them lets the heat from water to escape and gives you a naturally cooled water which is an healthier alternative to fridge water. The added benefit is that the minerals from the clay get added to the water you are drinking.
  2. Again, as these pots are porous these are best for slow cooking. Pores allow the heat and moisture to distribute evenly through the dish you are preparing which in turn develops a consistent flavor profile. Next time, try cooking your biryani or daal makhani in an earthen pot and you will notice the difference in texture and taste!
  3. As the clay is alkaline in nature, cooking acidic food in earthenware will help balance the pH level of the food, especially try cooking dishes with tomatoes and tamarind etc. in these pots, your food will surely have a deep taste.
  4. Get the supply of essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, etc.  by cooking in the earthen pots.

Apart from the health benefits here are three reasons why you should start using the earthenware:

  1. Compared to all the other cooking devices, earthenware comes in quite cheap.
  2. It makes for a beautiful and elegant display on your dinner table and gives a classy touch to your dinner spread.
  3. Cleaning the earthenware is quite easy, one does not have to use harsh chemicals. Hot water and a good quality dish soap is good enough.

Of course, you will need to take a few precautions while using earthenware:

  1. Never put cold water in a hot earthen pot.
  2. Cool the pot completely before cleaning if you are using room temperature water for cleaning.
  3. Never use metallic cleaning pads or scratchy powders to clean the pot.
  4. Use gentle hand while cleaning.
  5. Rise the temperature slowly when cooking in earthen pots. When needed, use a griddle below the earthen pot, so put the griddle on the stove top, heat it to medium heat and then place the earthen pot.

Go, get yours now! 😉

Hope you enjoyed my post about using earthenware for cooking and serving. Please share the word, because sharing is caring!

~Prajakta

Ideas | 5 ways to enjoy strawberries even when they are gone!

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If you have read my last post about berry jams, you already know my love for berries…but guess which one I like the most….. yes, strawberries!

I like strawberries to the extent that I can eat them in any form at any time of the day in any season.. ❤

So obviously, I want to enjoy strawberries some way or the other even when they are gone… I can’t wait for another season.. I can’t!

I have come up with 5 ways to do just that –

Sun dried strawberries –

This one is the simplest one.. cut strawberries in quarters and let them dry in the Sun. Make sure you spread the pieces in one layer and use metal tray or ceramic tray/plate to dry your strawberries. Avoid using any plastic..

Strawberry dust –

Ever since I read about freezer dried strawberries and make strawberry dust out of it, I wanted to make my own batch! The only difference, I dried my strawberries in the Sun rather than in the freezer. So, just cut the strawberries in smaller pieces, let then dry completely for 2-3 days in the Sun and make them into powder using a mixer-grinder! The dust is not very pleasing to taste but you can tint your frostings or even make strawberry sugar by adding this dust to powdered sugar which can then be sprinkled on your favorite cookies or made into strawberry glaze! The possibilities are endless. 😊

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My last post!

Strawberry purè –

even more simple… blitz the strawberries in a blender, add powdered sugar if you want; I did not add any. Store in the freezer in a freezer-safe container securing tightly with the lid. Whenever you want to use this, remove from freezer and keep in the fridge for a couple of hours and use in the recipe as needed. Return the remaining quantity to the freezer immediately.

Strawberry chips –

Umm, you can’t really eat them just like that but they would surely make for a nice topper on cupcake, chocolate moose or even panna cotta! Look at these beauties –

These are simple ways to lengthen the strawberry season a bit more… enjoy strawberries for a longer time with minimal efforts.

Do share your thoughts, comments, suggestions! I love to hear back from you. 🙂

Happy cooking ~

Prajakta

Cooking| Homemade Jams – three ways

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Look at those colors…

Call me a berry maniac…no, please call me one… you will surely call me that after learning the copious amount of berries I have purchased, eaten and preserved and still doing!

During my trip to Mahabaleshwar, a famous hill station near Pune, around mid January; I had 2 kgs of strawberries, 250 gms of black raspberries and 500 gms of cape gooseberries… have you heard about the cape gooseberries before? They are awesome.. although not everybody will like the taste. Look how gorgeous they look! Cape gooseberries are not exactly sweet..neither they are tart like strawberries. They taste somewhere between a sweeter yet subtle version of a cherry tomato to pineapple, mango and what not…it is difficult to describe the exact taste.. but they are best!

Again, on my recent trip to Khanderao market here in Vadodara I got 2 kgs of strawberries and 1 kg of mulberries.. mulberry is another awesome stuff.. as a child I used to hog on to those from my neighbour’s tree and now I have to buy them 😦

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Mulberries… painting childhood memories..

Well…now what would you call me? A berry maniac for sure?!

With so many berries sitting prettily around, I wanted to put them to good use. We like jams and what’s better than a homemade jam? So I made three types of jams – a strawberry jam with star anise, a mixed berry jam (strawberry, black raspberries and mulberries) with pure vanilla extract and cape gooseberries jam with rosemary and black pepper. I made two batches of strawberry jam, one in January and second one just a week before. I made cape gooseberries jam also in January but because I knew I wanted to make a post on all my jam endeavors I waited till today when all my jam jars are set and sitting around for a while.

You can use these jams not just on breads for breakfast, but you could add them to your smoothie bowls or top your oatmeal with a spoonful or even make a bruschetta by pairing it with a good cheese (or any other way you want)!

My jam recipes are quite simple, especially with the berries. I usually take 75% less sugar than that of the fruit, however the quantity of sugar depends on how sour or sweet the berries are. I let the fruit and sugar along with a dash of lemon juice sit for a while so that all the juices from fruit are released and then cook till the desired consistency is reached.

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Here is the step-wise procedure~

  1. If using strawberries, cut the strawberries in small pieces. In a big pot made of non-reacting material*, put the fruit and add sugar. Add lemon juice (juice of half a lemon or one depending on the quantity of fruit) and stir gently. Let this mixture sit for about an hour. Add spices of your choice (or simply vanilla extract), if using.
  2. Put a tea saucer in the freezer. We will use this later to check if the jam is done.
  3. Now, start cooking the mixture on medium heat stirring occasionally using a wooden spoon till all the sugar is dissolved and you see bubbles rising on the sides. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking. You will see white foam arising on top, keep removing the foam with a small spoon; these are impurities in the sugar and removing them will give you a clear looking jam also increasing its shelf life.
  4. Keep cooking till you see that the jam is starting to thicken and coats the back of the wooden spoon in a nice layer. Keep the mixture on lowest heat.
  5. Remove the saucer from freezer (from step 2) and put a small drop of jam on it. Return the saucer to the freezer for a minute or so. During this time, it is good if you remove the mixture from heat to avoid over cooking the jam.
  6. Your jam is done if the drop on the saucer wrinkles when pushed with a finger.

Few tips to increase life of your homemade jams –

  1. Always use clean and dry spoon to take out the jam.
  2. Take out the only quantity needed, if you remove more quantity do not put back in the same jar.
  3. Jam made this way stays at room temperature for about 2 months, however I would recommend to keep them in fridge for longer life.
  4. Sterilize the jars for storing jams. If you are not sterilizing the jars, make sure that you transfer the jam only when its completely cooled down.
  5. Use jars with good quality leads which fit nicely and are airtight as can be.

I am sharing the measurements I used to give you an idea of the quantities of jam –

Chunky strawberry jam with star anise:

500 gms strawberries – cleaned and cut into small chunks

375 gms regular sugar

juice of one (1) lemon

2 pinches of Himalayan pink salt (or black salt or regular salt)

2 pieces star anise

Total yield: 526 gms of chunky strawberry jam

Mixed berries jam:

320 gms of mixed berries – 110 gms strawberry + 110 black raspberries + 100 gms mulberries

200 gms regular sugar

juice of half lemon

2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or seeds of 1 small vanilla pod)

Total yield: 337 gms of mixed berries jam

Note: I chopped the strawberries in small pieces. However, I kept raspberries and mulberries whole. At the time of cooking, I kept mashing the fruit with the help of wooden spoon. This way, the jam is not too chunky like strawberry jam but not like the store brought ones. You can feel a texture of the fruits when you eat.

Cape gooseberries jam:

250 gms cape gooseberries cut into very small pieces

175 gms regular sugar

4 to 5 crushed black pepper

2 tsp dried rosemary

Total yield: 220 gms of jam

*Use any pot made with non-reactive material. Non-reactive material could include anodized pots, or very good quality non-stick pots. Never use copper, brass or such metals to cook fruits.

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Feel free to comment, ask questions or share your suggestions. 🙂

Happy cooking~

Prajakta

 

 

DIY/COOKING | HOMEMADE GHEE (CLARIFIED BUTTER)

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Homemade ghee (clarified butter)

Life has come a full circle for me… last year around same time I left my full time job for various reasons. Tomorrow, I start with another inning of my professional life – with the same employer! With that, today being the (kinda) last day of being myself, I set to spend time doing what I truly like – 1. I watered our newly setting-up garden… taking in all the beauty and scents, clicking the pictures of first batch of flowers. 2. I set up on a mission to click pictures of liquid pouring shots – and my subject was ‘ghee’ that I had made yesterday. 3. Writing a blog post about ghee!

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Homemade ghee or clarified butter is a thing of childhood memories and the house that smells like heaven when the ghee is being made. My mother always made batches after batches of ghee…it was a ritual of every week. Back in the days, when refrigerator was a thing of fancy duration between two batches will depend on whether the curds are getting sour. Now, its a matter of week’s time at the most. Making ghee at home is a task of patience… when I was a kid I used to wait for the day when Aai (that’s what we call mother in Marathi) would start with churning the curds into butter and then ghee.

We used to get to lick clean the utensils and a wooden hand-whisk (called ‘ravee’ in Marathi) with the leftover butter once she has removed all but some. Things haven’t changed much here… I separate butter and buttermilk with either food processor or hand mixer and my reward is whatever small amount of butter that is stuck to the pots and blades. 🙂

But first things first, to make homemade butter/ghee, you will need to skim/collect the cream from the milk after boiling and cooling milk. Collect it in a steel pot and keep it refrigerated. Keep on adding the cream for almost a week. Make sure that the cream does not sit out of the refrigerator for too long or else it will either get spoiled or will start tasting bitter. I will strongly suggest to refrigerate the milk once it gets to room temperature, and remove the cream only after at least 6 hours of refrigeration. This ensures that the almost all the cream has gathered on top and you are making the most of the cream content in the milk. Now, you have to add starter to this cream to make the curds.

Alternatively, on the very first day itself you can add starter to the cream and let it curdle. Then when you add the cream on other days, keep the mixture out on your kitchen counter for a couple of hours so the newly added cream also curdles. Remember, in summers curdling will be quick and so, do not keep the mixture out for a long time. Check occasionally and put it in the refrigerator as soon as the mixture is curdled. This is to avoid curd to become too sour.

Once you have enough cream, separate the butter and buttermilk using food processor or hand mixer or traditional wooden whisk. With food processor and hand mixer, its a matter of 1 or 2 minutes that you get the butter. With wooden whisk, it will take 10-20 minutes depending on the fat content and temperature of the curds. Its no rocket science to understand that the butter is separated. You will clearly see small particles of butter gathering leaving the liquid part aside. The liquid part is buttermilk for you…in India, even buttermilk is consumed in various ways – do not throw this out.

Now, how to make ghee?

In a deep steel or non-stick pot put the butter. Put this pot on the stove stop on medium to low heat. Once the butter starts melting put a wooden ladle in the pot. This is to ensure that the melted butter does not overflow. Also, turn the heat to the lowest setting. If the butter comes upto the rim of the pot switch of the flame and let the liquid settle down a bit. Start again!

After about 5 minutes or so, you will see some foam rising on the top. Keep cooking on the low flame till the foam starts disappearing. The ghee is ready when either 1. the liquid becomes transparent and you can see bottom of the pot except for some residue milk fats settling at the bottom, 2. the splattering sound stops completely, 3. the liquid looks golden yellow, or 4. if you sprinkle a few drops of water, it splatters and makes sound, or 5. the fat gathered on the sides of the pot sticks to the pot and starts browning. Residue milk fats can be consumed by adding some sugar – you can make bars/balls or just eat with a spoon!

Switch of the flame. After 5 minutes or so, cover the pot with lid keeping some space to let out the remaining steam. This ensures a nice grainy texture of the ghee once it cools down and solidifies.

Do now overcook the butter or the ghee will have a burnt taste and not so nice brownish colour.

Let the ghee come to room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and store in cleaned glass or steel containers.

*Ghee is such comfort food and its part of almost every meal at my house. Making it at home is way too economical and anything homemade is always healthy and free of preservatives. I get around 10-12 gms of cream everyday. With about a week’s supply I get around 120 mls of ghee.

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Liquid gold….

I am so thrilled with the results of my first ever “shooting the pouring liquid experiment” that my joy has no bounds…I am smiling ear to ear looking at those pictures. I must thank Lindsay of Pinch of Yum… she has such a detailed post about photographing liquid pouring shots… in fact she has everything amazing on her blog.

On another note, I have promised myself not to get engulfed by my job and not ignore the blog! And I promise you, you will get to read something here every now and then. 🙂 Keep coming to my little space.

~Happy cooking,

Prajakta

Global Pulse Day – 18 January, and a recipe contest!

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Pulses!

Today is Global Pulse Day… Pulses are the seeds of plants in the legume family. They grow in pods and come in a variety of size, shape and colors (http://pulses.org/what-are-pulses).

Pulse forms an important part of a vegetarian’s diet as its one of the most significant source of protein. Pulses are also reach in dietary fiber, carbohydrates and dietary minerals. Plus, they contain no cholesterol and little fat and sodium (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legume).

You can read more about the pulses here.

Pulses are an indispensable part of Indian cuisine, in fact no meal is served without a preparation made of pulses. Dal being the quintessential part of our meals, pulses are always found in our kitchen – though often neglected. Give them a chance today and use them in your recipes.

Now, about the contest… share your recipes with me on Kesariyaa’s Facebook page. The top three (3) recipes (in my opinion) will be featured here on the blog along with my pulse recipe for the celebration of Global Pulse Day. Do not forget to tag #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses @LovePulses.

~Prajakta