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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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. 😊

IMG_2229Strawberry jam-

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

 

 

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ Keep coming to my little space.

~Happy cooking,

Prajakta

DIY Water Bulbs – don’t let your garden go dry when out on vacation!!!

DIY water bulbs for your home garden – are you worried about leaving your plants behind when you are heading for a week-long travel/vacation?

Here is presenting, Do It Yourself (DIY) watering system for your plants while you are enjoying your holidays πŸ™‚

We are heading to Pune tonight for a week-long vacation…there are lots of things to do and eat while we enjoy Ganapati festival with our families and friends! The idea of getting away from our corporate lives for a whole week definitely brings a smile to our faces; however thinking about leaving the plants behind us used to put us in a dilemma.

Before shifting to our current apartment, I was blessed with neighbors who used to be equally attached to the plants and used to happily water them….we don’t have that option anymore….

Well, I read a lot about water bulbs and was thinking of buying a few for our garden; I also read about a lot of DIY ideas…and finally decided to do it my way!

These are a breeze to make and need only used plastic bottles, a needle, and scissors.

How to make DIY water bulbs:

  1. Take a used bottle
  2. Pierce tiny holes at 2-3 places
  3. If you don’t have as many bottles as your pots, cut the bottles in two halves (top and bottom) using scissors… I also used a big bottle and made holes at some spacing – I am going to keep this bottle for two pots together…

Fill the prepared bottles with water and place them directly in the pots! That’s all!!

Now go, travel peacefully and enjoy your vacation!

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Bulb in the pot!!

We are going to Pune, our hometown – and we are going to hog on local food! Because of Ganapati festival there will be lots of cooking too…there is going to be much more about our trip, places to eat in Pune, some homemade delicacies and much more on this blog in coming days!

So stay tuned, friends πŸ™‚

~ Prajakta