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

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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, Β though in some parts of India, people use earthenware for their daily cooking, Β 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.πŸ˜‰
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.Β  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! πŸ˜‰

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 purΓ¨ –

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. πŸ™‚

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,Β 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. πŸ™‚

Happy cooking~

Prajakta