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

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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

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

Back to Blogging – Bharali Wangi (Stuffed Eggplants)

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Dear Readers,

Pardon me if you can!

I know, its been a long time that I am away from my blog. My long absence here does not mean I was not cooking….but 1) I didn’t cook anything that felt like putting up on the blog and 2) I was either busy, lazy or just out of everything that IΒ  wanted to do – 2016 was not at all exciting for us.

We shifted to our home town Pune, early last year…we have partially (with minimal necessities) shifted to another city just two months back; and will be shifting our household in next couple of weeks – life was hectic, boring and crazy in-between these two shifts and I am really looking forward for some peace this year. I hope 2017 changes everything that was in 2016 and we have a fabulous year ahead.

How was your 2016 in retrospect? Do you have a lot of plans for the new year?

Well, I plan to come back with a lot of stuff to share with you in the year to come – recipes, life experiences, travels and what not! So keep coming to this space and show me some love. πŸ™‚

As the first of my ‘Back to Blogging’ recipes, here is a sensational dish that is made in pretty much every corner of India…bharali wangi/bharwa baingan/stuffed eggplant.

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I made this curry some 2 weeks back. My husband took it to office for lunch and in the evening when he was back home the first thing he told me while entering the house was – today’s curry was very tasty. Even when I had it for lunch I could not stop praising my own preparation.

We make this curry quite often, but this time I used the baby eggplants and also cooked them whole i.e. not removing the stems – just cutting them to stuff the masala (spice mix) in them. I also used a little more oil that I normally do, but this recipe does need that extra amount of oil. The spice blend I used in this recipe is called ‘Goda Masala’. It is a very typical spice blend from Maharashtra and you should get it quite easily in the spices section of the super store. I used the homemade one – the one which my mum-in-law makes for us every year, but you can use famous brands such as Pravin, K-Pra or Bedekar.

Its a tradition to make the masala at home – my mother and mother-in-law both make it every year, so I always have good supply throughout the year. πŸ˜‰ I am planning to make my own batch and I will post the recipe here when I make one.

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Getting back to today’s recipe, here is what you will need ~

  1. Baby eggplants (brinjals) – 10 to 12
  2. Onion – 1 big, grated or finely chopped
  3. Roasted peanut powder* – 2 tbsp
  4. Goda masala – 3 tsp or more (as per taste)
  5. Red chili powder – 1.5 tsp (more if you would like it hot)
  6. Mustard seeds, turmeric powder, asafoetida – for tempering
  7. Peanut oil/sunflower oil – 2 tbsp
  8. Salt – as per taste
  9. Water – enough to cover the eggplants half way through.

Instructions ~

  1. Wash and clean the eggplant, pat them dry with a kitchen towel and keep aside
  2. Finely chop or grate the onion, take in a dish
  3. To the onion, add red chili powder, goda masala powder, peanut powder and salt. Mix well and keep aside.
  4. Now, score the eggplants on the top in a ‘+’ sign deep enough to hold the masala mixture but not till the end. I did not remove the stems but you certainly can if you wish to.
  5. Fill the masala mixture in the scored eggplants.
  6. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil. Once, the oil is hot enough add mustard seeds, let the mustard seeds splutter. Now, add turmeric powder and asafoetida and give it a quick stir.
  7. Add the eggplants, add water. Do not add a lot of water as later it will take time to evaporate if you want a thick gravy. Cook the eggplants upto 2 or 3 whistles (depending on your pressure cooker). Let the pressure escape and remove the lid of the pressure cooker.
  8. If there is still more water in the gravy than you desire, let it reduce over low to medium heat. For this recipe the gravy should be thick enough to coat the eggplants nicely.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with sliced onions and tomatoes and slit green chilies on the side if desired. This curry can be served with any kind of Indian flatbread or rice (serves 2).

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Let me know if you make this recipe and if you liked it.

~Happy cooking,

Prajakta