Spinach Asparagus Soup

Spinach Asparagus Soup

Spinach Asparagus Soup,a recipe I learnt at a cooking event in our community. I recently got elected to the HOA Board and we recently started a Social events committee in our neighborhood, Being a lover of food at heart, I volunteered the idea to start something like this where community would easily gravitate towards and find it easy to mingle with other neighbors. I firmly believe in the idea that your neighbors are the extended family of sorts. If you have good neighbors you are likely to enjoy life even more!

So our very first event of Chef’s Creations series, was held on an extremely cold day of the winter in January with temperatures at 24 F. Not sure if the residents will show up, fellow member and I decided to wait for people. The member took up the task of showing the recipe and she very graciously changed the ingredients to suit my vegetarian diet. We felt blessed that day as 20 residents showed up on Sunday afternoon, some to cheer us up, some out of plain curiosity, and some just followed the smell of delicious cooking! Spinach Asparagus Soup turned out to be a perfect accompaniment on an extremely cold day.

The kitchen could not have held more people, so it was just right size of group. The recipe used by her was from A Chef’s Kitchen, Williamsburg VA. According to couple of my other neighbors, it is known for its very classy cuisine and is extremely famous and booked more than 6 months in advance. So she really hit the bull’s-eye there!

I just admired her enthusiasm and willingness to do something she had never done before and as a great reward for her efforts, the participants really appreciated the event!  She did a great job in explaining the recipe and there was also ample time for neighbors to laugh and chat! A very generous neighbor decided to donate his collection of cookbooks as a surprise door prize to one of the participants. It was such a great camaraderie feeling, and it was heart warming to see teenager son and daughter with dads, and mothers and daughters bond over an afternoon of cooking demonstration.

The soup was great in color, and tasted delicious and even though there were too many cooks helping out, it did not spoil the taste! We sure made some mess, but felt a wave of positive energy and satisfaction.Unfortunately this would not serve a good recipe for strict Jain Diet as it uses roots. The recipe is nutritious and has the richness of Creme Fraiche, an ingredient I personally likes it reminds me homemade Indian butter from fermented milk cream.

So in the coming cold wintry days, enjoy this delicious recipe of Spinach Asparagus Soup from the highly rated A Chef’s Kitchen and as demonstrated by the chairperson of our Social Events committee! And a lesson I learnt that day was that the way to a stranger’s heart often lies via good food and that giving back to the community is a great feeling! My apologies for not having step by step images, as it was a class in progress, where I was a student!

Print Recipe
Spinach Asparagus Soup
Spinach Asparagus Soup How to make quick Spinach Asparagus Soup.
Spinach Asparagus Soup
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Italian
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Garnishing the soup
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Italian
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Garnishing the soup
Spinach Asparagus Soup
Instructions
Preparing the Soup
  1. Cut the tips of the asparagus from the stems and reserve as a soup garnish.Cut the asparagus stems in 1 inch pieces.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and onion and then cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, unless the onions are translucent in color.
  3. Add the potatoes, broth, thyme, pepper, salt to the saucepan. Reduce the heat, cover and cook until vegetables are tender and potatoes are soft.
  4. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, add the cut stem pieces of asparagus and cook for 3 minutes on hight flame, till they are soft.
  5. Add baby spinach leaves and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Remove from flame and puree soup in blender in batches.
  7. Pour the blended soup through a sieve or strainer in a pot. Thin with some more vegetable broth if desired,
Garnishing the soup
  1. Chop the saved asparagus stems into small pieces
  2. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a skillet.Once the oil is hot and simmering, add the reserved asparagus tips. Saute until tender.
  3. Serve the soup in the cup and add asparagus to the soup. Garnish each bowl of the soup with Creme Fraiche or sour cream. and chopped parsley or chives.Add some drops of smoked paprika oil on the top and serve,
Recipe Notes

Tips

Be cautious when blending the soup, as it is just off the flame.

Prepping all the chopping previously quickens the cooking time.

Instinct Factor

If I were to rely on my instincts, I would remove the leeks as I did not taste them much and also am not too fond of it and I would be careful while adding creme fraiche, as little portion of it is sufficient, as it can get very rich and dense. Sour cream would probably adapt well here. 

Feel Factor

A really green inviting soup with the fragrance of onions, olive oil, and asparagus. As per the author this also serves as the base for Potato and Leek soup, if you are fond of leeks. The color of the garnishing of the asparagus was perfect and the Spinach Asparagus Soup was extremely welcome on a cold afternoon. A bit of thyme, a bit of parsley, a bit of asparagus and loads of baby spinach,  with the exquisite flavor of smoked paprika oil made this recipe and demonstration a truly unique and delicious experience. And am very happy to share such a wonderful community moment with the broader blog community here!

 

 

Date and Toffee Pudding

Date and Toffee Pudding

Celebrations galore! New Years Eve, happy birthdays of niece and nephew, kids back from college for winter break and  me just excited for the new year to begin on the right note! Anything good or auspicious is always invited by making something sweet! So here I share Date and Toffee pudding as a harbinger for peace, calmness and healthy new year that also lets you achieve your personal goals in life!

The chance to taste this exquisite pudding was at Rasika over anniversary celebrations! It was warm, sweet, with a bit of caramel and fruits, topped with ice cream! More interestingly it had the dates as a  base, which made it even more delicious for me. Dates are something I enjoy,(pun intended)!  The iron and fibre in dates pack some powerful nutrients in a colorful warm dry fruit, and hence are often used by soldiers on the front to get their instant shot of energy,

I enjoyed learning how to make caramel syrup, as had no clue about it earlier, and the brown liquid reminds me of rolling melted gold over a brown date pudding. I personally preferred this without the ice cream but with some fruits in it. Best would be to serve it with the ice cream on the side, so you can pick and choose what you want to taste.

The shape at the restaurant was simple muffin shape, however I wanted to make it more fancier, as well as try something new in the baking shape. Recently I came across this ice cream corn kind of moulds, which to a garden lover like me looked more like small flower pots! The fruits arranged in the center made it a more real flower pot. The recipe has been adjusted  for making it egg less.

The taste is exquisite, so is the shape making this Date and Toffee pudding, one of a kind! With the sweetness of dates, gold of caramel, colors of fruits and coolness of ice cream, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year and a spectacular 2018!

  

 

Print Recipe
Date and Toffee Pudding
A warm pudding with caramel syrup, fresh fruits and ice cream
Date and Toffee Pudding
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 20 min
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Making of Date Pudding
Making of Toffee Syrup
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 20 min
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Making of Date Pudding
Making of Toffee Syrup
Date and Toffee Pudding
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the dates in a grinder till it becomes a round ball.
  2. Add baking soda and warm water and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Mix the all purpose flour, salt, and baking powder in a deep bowl.
  4. With a whisk blade, fluff the butter for 5 minutes, till the butter is 3 shades lighter. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and mix in for a minute.
  5. Pre heat the oven for 375 degrees at convection oven or 350 degrees regular oven.
  6. Combine the soaked dates, butter sugar and flour mixed with all ingredients.Add apple sauce and water and blend well everything into a batter for about 4 minutes.
  7. Great the muffin moulds or cone moulds thoroughly with ghee or butter. Fill the batter
  8. If using a cone mould, layer the filled cups tray with the indent tray to make a cone shape
  9. Bake on the second rack for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes,
  10. Cover slightly so that warm air can escape.
  11. Boil heavy cream, 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar to make the toffee syrup.
  12. Cool the toffee syrup for 5-7 minutes.
  13. Prick with a fork all over the date pudding. Then pour 2-3 tbsp toffee syrup over each of them.
  14. Soak the date pudding in the toffee syrup well, ensuring that they are well coated and let them cool for half an hour at the least.
Serving the Date and Toffee Pudding
  1. When serving, microwave each pudding for about 30 seconds. Arrange the fruit/berries in the centre. Scoop an ice cream of your choice, and then either layer it on the top of pudding, or by the side.Serve immediately.
  2. Date and Toffee Pudding
Recipe Notes

Tips

If the toffee syrup becomes thick, put to warm on low heat, so it is easily absorbed by the pudding. 

Serving ice cream on the side, will avoid it from melting fast.

Check if the date and toffee pudding is properly baked by sticking a toothpick/fork in the middle.

Instinct Factor

A new shape for a pudding for the new year! if the pudding mix does not drop well, add another tbsp of water. Softness of the pudding will depend on how well the butter has been fluffed.

Feel Factor

Ringing the new year 2018 with this warm fuzzy Date and Toffee Pudding !! The perfect warmth,, texture softness, and caramel sweetness, surrounded by the colorful berries and coated with an ice cream of your choice! A combination of hot and cold, in this delicious dessert. The sweetness of dates combined with the toffee syrup makes this pudding a one of kind and will certainly make your family and guests feel on top of the world! Here's to more sweet recipes in 2018!

 

Masala Popcorn

Masala Popcorn

Masala Popcorn on a Friday night!  Friday night, often  a movie night in many families happened to be a movie night for me also today!  Masala Popcorn also became my dinner, as many a times when one is alone for a meal, the motivation to cook just vanishes. This interesting recipe  by Vikram Sunderam, the celebrity chef of Rasika tempted me to try it out. Rasika is known for its super quality contemporary Indian cuisine. I have over several occasions had celebration meals at the variety of restaurants under the Rasika group management, and never have we been disappointed!

Popcorn is something I have always enjoyed. Some years back I tasted jalapeño flavored popcorn at Potomac Mills. After tasting this salty and spicy flavor in popcorn, chance of this flavor being on the top flavors are quite likely. 

The recipe was created with the desire to bring the flavor of Chevda, the Indian quintessential snack. As an Indian, we always look for the comfort of the spices and  recreate the taste at the first chance we have. This recipe is truly a creative idea by Vikram, and no wonder this is a popular accompaniment at Rasika Bar. If I get a chance to meet him, I would probably get his autograph on the Recipe book that Rasika has just released it, and which I had the chance to get it on my anniversary. What more can a foodie ask for! 

I enjoyed this uniquely flavored Masala Popcorn while watching a Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma starrer When Harry Met Sejal! Movie review- A plus to Anushka for doing an amazing task of imitating a Gujjuben, and SRK is always at his best for his diehard fan! The masala in the movie was equivalent to  the masala in the popcorn, with  the use of cumin, coriander, curry leaves, chillies and spice level further raised by some red chili powder. 

Masala Popcorn has a nice kick in its flavor, while providing a comfort meal.  A two minute dinner that has all the spices, fiber and is low fat, is an interesting combination for sure. Enjoy your favorite movie, accompanied by Masala Popcorn!

Print Recipe
Masala Popcorn
Popcorn wit Indian Spices
Masala Popcorn
Course Appetizers
Cook Time 5 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Appetizers
Cook Time 5 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Masala Popcorn
Instructions
  1. Create the garnish for the popcorn first. Heat the oil in a small saucepan, Once the oil heats, add coriander seeds and asafetida. Lower the flame so that garnish does not over cook.
  2. Once coriander seeds crackle, add cumin seeds. As the cumin seeds brown, add fennel seeds. After few seconds, add the remaining ingredients and remove from flame.
  3. If cooking on gas I suggest creating the garnish first, and then mixing the garnish in the popcorn and then popping it over the stove.
  4. Otherwise, follow the microwave instructions for making the popcorn. Once the popcorn is cooked, add the masala garnish and toss it thoroughly so that the flavor is well integrated in the popcorn.
  5. Enjoy a nice family evening with Masala Popcorn and interesting movie at home!
Recipe Notes

Tips

Recently I came across this Masala flavored Popcorn by Swad having the spices of red chili powder, which might be a good alternative, though I have not tried it.

Instinct Factor

Taste of home is the main instinct factor for most of chefs!

Feel Factor

Masala Popcorn gives a great kick to the flavor of popcorn, For the really  high spice lovers, some finely chopped jalapeño will coat the popcorn well. Low fat tasty alternative to the buttery popcorn, and also possible to have more, as its not so high in calories! I had two servings and enjoyed the fennel, cumin , green chillies and curry flavor in the popcorn. Masala Popcorn while watching movie, made the movie  more enjoyable and memorable!

 

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash is a fall vegetable that is in the shape of a nice yellow oval. I first had this in an upscale restaurant in  Williamsburg ,VA. When I ordered this item from the menu, I thought I am going to get the spaghetti with squash vegetable. Little did I know that the spaghetti squash was a vegetable by itself and that on cooking, its strands come out like thin spaghetti! When my order arrived, it sure looked like a gourmet dish and I was instantly attracted to its thin strands. That day, I decided I have to learn how to make Spaghetti Squash. Now that the Fall season is in full swing, lots of squash varieties are easily available.

The challenge that one faces with spaghetti squash is the process of cutting into half as the exterior is pretty thick. To overcome this challenge, I resorted to finding an easy way of cutting squash, and came across an extremely useful link. Read more about it at https://www.teaspoonofspice.com/easily-cut-spaghetti-squash-spaghetti-squash-lasagna/

Spaghetti Squash contains fibers that when cooked, converts into thin strands. Hence the method of using microwave for couple of minutes before cutting and then halving it followed by baking it for an hour, releases the strands easily. This winter squash is quite tasteless, as such hence can be used in variety of ways. Mostly people use it as a spaghetti substitute, as if offers only 42 calories per cup of spaghetti squash,probably the lowest among all winter squashes. It is very rich in Vitamin B, Potassium and Magnesium and has a very high content of water.Hence it very useful for weight loss as well as for people suffering from hypertension and Vitamin B.deficiency.

The version presented here, has some more personal touch to it in terms of green chillies, olive oil, black pepper, green onion, broccoli and a hint of red bell pepper. Enjoy this unique gift of nature, that has so many benefits! Spaghetti Squash is so pretty in color, and the texture definitely wins more points as compared to other things in this lovely Fall dish!

 

Print Recipe
Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash - A spicier version of Spaghetti Squash wth easy technique of cutting the squash,
Spaghetti Squash
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 50 min
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 50 min
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Spaghetti Squash
Instructions
  1. Microwave the spaghetti squash for 1 minute. Cut the ends out. And with a sharp knife cut across the center. Though I cut vertically, somewhere else I read that cutting horizontally gives a longer spaghetti strands. So you can explore either of the options.
  2. Scoop out the seeds thoroughly.
  3. Lay the two halves on the aluminum foil in a baking tray. Bake for approx 30 min at 325 degrees.
  4. Switch the squash upside down and cook for another 20 min in the oven.
  5. Remove from the oven and use a fork to pick through the meat of the squash. This will release the spaghetti strands.
  6. Scoop out all of the spaghetti strands.
  7. In a wok or a large pan, heat the olive oil. Add green onions and green chillies and saute a bit.
  8. Add broccoli florets and saute for 5-6 minutes on high flame.
  9. Add red papers, salt, and saute for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Finally add the spaghetti squash to the mix and mix in all the vegetables, and cook for 3-4 minutes on high flame.
  11. Serve the Spaghetti Squash with some soup and bread or having it just by itself is quite tasty.
Recipe Notes

Tips

One more tool that can be used to cut easily is to poke toothpick all around and which will assist and guide you in cutting the squash easily and in proportion. A dash of lime and ginger may also taste good with this.

Topping of some grated cheese should also be a good addition, as might be baking it with grated cheese on top.

Instinct Factor

Cutting the spaghetti squash is the most challenging aspect . Once that is mastered, rest is very easy. Once this has been learned you will be tempted to use the spaghetti squash or the normal spaghetti and benefit from the high nutrient content and high water content in the squash.

Feel Factor

Felt triumphant on being able to cut the spaghetti squash with just the knife, as came across the pre- heating in microwave recipe later! It was mesmerizing to see the strands come out of the starch in the spaghetti squash, almost like a magic trick! Some spice of black pepper, green chillies, green onions and broccoli gave it a flavor of Pad Thai noodles, giving the spaghetti squash and exciting flavor. Its healthy, its light, its flavorful, its colorful and it is common sense to eat fall colored vegetables in fall season! Thoroughly enjoyed exploring, cooking, and tasting this exotic looking vegetable dish with a highly popular pasta name!

Sandesh Chocolate Grape

Sandesh Chocolate Grape

Sandesh Chocolate Grape was my creation for a milestone birthday that we just had celebrations for! As a young kid, memories of Sandesh made by my mother linger in my mind even now, and Sandesh is perhaps the first dessert that I really was fond of!  Even more than Rasgulla or Rasmalai, which also use the same paneer base.  My mother used to put orange segments in it, but I decided to use red grapes, as I am more fond of grapes than oranges. Red grapes would go well with the fall weather and dark chocolate flavor is what I thought.  I have a deep weakness for dark chocolates and in particular Godiva Dark Chocolates. Godiva has various levels of cocoa but decided to go for safer 50% dark level then the 75% , as I was going to offer the Sandesh Chocolates Grape to guests. Making this was a very last minute decision. I had a Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt flavor in my house, which was used and in my opinion the sea salt further enhanced the flavor of Sandesh.

On reading the blog of Cosmpolitan Curry Mania, I got to know a lot about the various ways Sandesh is made and the types of shondesh/sandesh available in West Bengal. The way I made was more of the Kachha Gola (raw uncooked sandesh), in which , the kneading of the sandesh is the key to the softness and texture of the desert. This has a different texture than the one  which is mixed with Khoya and cooked on a flame. It is interesting to note that people in Bengal have even explored with flavors like olive oil too in making Sandesh!

Reading this, made me even more happy with my creation of Sandesh Chocolate Grape which hints at flavors of Red Grapes, Paneer, and Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt. And the sugar level in this variation has been purposely kept at low levels, to feel the dark taste of chocolate.

The texture of the Sandesh Chocolate Grape was smooth, and the topping of semi sweet mint chip chocolates  gave it a colorful and tasty appeal. The grape filling was well appreciated with the chocolate flavor. This dessert was definitely the preferred dessert of the evening. What a great way to celebrate a milestone, with a favorite dessert in a favorite chocolate flavor with sea salt! A five star dessert for me for sure! And I am positive, once you try this super easy, super quick dessert, you will be making many new and exciting flavors in Sandesh. Do send me a sandesh (message) with a newer version that you created by submitting a recipe on this blog!

 

 

Print Recipe
Sandesh Chocolate Grape
Chocolate Sandesh from Chocolate Bar and Fruits
Sandesh Chocolate Grape
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Sandesh Chocolate Grape
Instructions
  1. The chhena or paneer should be freshly made. If you need instructions on how to make fresh panner from milk, please read my recipe on Rasgoola for detailed process.
  2. Once the chhena is cooled, knead for 8-10 minutes using the palm of your hand. Continue kneading till all the paneer forms into a ball, and the grainy look of chhena turns into a smooth look.
  3. Melt 3 squares of the Godiva Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Bar in microwave for 40 seconds. Stir the squares to liquid form and immediately pour 2 tsp of melted chocolate into the paneer.
  4. Add sugar and continue to knead for 4-5 minutes. The dark chocolate will slowly spread and change the color from white to completely brown. If you see white portions then continue to knead some more.
  5. Divide the paneer into 24 parts. Roll each part into round ball, and then flatten with your fingers.
  6. Put 2 pieces of sliced grapes on the flattened part and then again make a round ball.
  7. Give it an elongated shape by pinching with all your fingers at the top like a modak shape.
  8. Garnish it with a mint chocolate chip and chill for 3-4 hours.
  9. Enjoy chilled , fruity Sandesh in Chocolate flavor!
    Sandesh Chocolate Grape
  10. Sandesh Chocolate Grape cut into half to get the inside view. The images were taken at different light environment, hence the change in the colors of the Sandesh
    Sandesh Chocolate Grape
Recipe Notes

Tips

Fresh paneer that has some liquid in it still is the best consistency, as it will give it a good smoothness to the texture. Hence  I do not hang the paneer or put weight while making the paneer.

Chocolate powder can be also used, as mentioned in another recipe  https://cookingbyinstinct.com/chocolate-sandesh-cheese-fudge/

Instinct Factor

Making use of things available at hand and creating something new out it, is truly inspiring and instinctive! That is when the best satisfaction comes to a passionate foodie! Get your instincts to guide you as you make a flavor of your choice!

Feel Factor

Its celebration time with chilled, soft, smooth, bittersweet dark chocolate flavored grape sandesh! Everyone was curious as to what is this new dessert, as the shape was different, color was different, and the taste was also very different. This dessert is healthy, as cottage cheese is healthy, not too sweet, and good for the mind  and soul as well because of its chocolate flavor. The grape filling gives a nice crunch as well as sweet tangy taste in between the chocolate flavored cottage cheese.. Something made in a jiffy and the end result was a winner in the evening dinner! This was definitely the icing on the cake in my view! And I am sure your guests will also remember this modern flavor fruit filled Sandesh Chocolate Grape!!

Chikoo Ice Cream with Cinnamon Rose MintChip


Chikoo Ice Cream with Cinnamon Rose Mintchip is made from a highly popular Asian and Mexican fruit. “Chikoo”  is also a pet name for young kids, in many Gujarati households, including mine! The fruit is also known as sapodilla or zapota  or sapota. A berry like fruit with dark black almond shaped seeds. Its skin is rough brown and the ripened flesh has a nice brown color. It is known for its sweetness and malty flavor, and this has been a favorite fruit of mine. The chance of getting to eat fresh chikoo that is nicely ripened is very slim in US. Even if I get some fresh chikoos, they do not ripen well. So in the twenty-five years that we left India, eating this favorite fruit has been a rare opportunity. Frozen chikoo slices have a sourness and so does the pulp of chikoo, with its dose of preservatives. 

Casual wandering around a newly opened a grocery store , I spotted a Chikoo Pulp can, and was immediately excited to use that.  If nothing else, I can have the popular chikoo milkshakes which have a flavor of the malted milkshakes, the older cousins of the current milkshakes. I always liked the grainy texture in this fruit which only recently  I realized gave it a malted taste.

Now came the part of trying this in an ice cream. Naturals brand in Mumbai and many other local ice cream shops across Gujarat have this chikoo ice cream readily available, but they also have a dense taste of chikoo in it. I have primarily used only fresh fruits in my ice cream so this was a bit of challenge for me as to how reduce the taste of preservative in the ice cream? Not afraid to experiment, I  let my creativity guide me. I decided to throw in some cinnamon to bring some fragrant sweetness, added rose essence for hiding the sourness on account of preservatives, and gave it  the quintessential topping of chocolate mint chips to give it a texture and appeal similar to the popular ice creams! Not knowing how the combination is going to turn, I eagerly waited for the ice cream maker to churn and for the clock to turn full twenty four hours, for me to dig in a bite of my very own concoction! 

I liked the pale pink color ice cream in which the brown mint chips  were sticking out their sunny heads! The rose essence also aligned well with pink color of the ice cream. The freshness and  cooling feeling of rose fragrance went well with the cinnamon sweetness . As you eat the ice cream, the first flavor that hits you is the rose essence, then you are introduced to the cinnamon flavor and finally you are left with the hint of the chikoo flavor. And if this is not exciting enough add, some toasted coconut chips were great as extra toppings!.  You will  probably say, this was worth my time and effort for being able to relish so many different flavors in a scoop of my favorite colored ice cream!

Chikoo Ice Cream with Cinnamon Rose Mintchip became a topic of conversation in a couple of different groups of parties, with this flavor being more popular amongst the westerners, as it was definitely a fruit that they were not aware of, but still appreciated the flavor and texture! 

Print Recipe
Chikoo Cinnamon Rose MintChip Ice Cream
Chikoo ice cream from Chikoo pulp
Course Dessert
Servings
1 quart
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Servings
1 quart
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Ensure that the ice cream container is well frozen for 24-48 hours before using it. Mix in all the ingredients and churn the ice cream for 25 minutes, till it all forms a lump.
  2. Transfer the mixed ice cream base to a freezer container and let it set for at least 24 hours.
  3. Serve in a cone or a cup and top it with few roasted coconut flakes or any other favorite topping of your choice.
    Chikoo Ice Cream with Cinnamon Rose MintChip
Recipe Notes

Tips

Keep the whole milk and heavy cream well chilled before using it, which will give it a great consistency while churning it.

Taste for sweetness halfway through churning to make any necessary modifications.

 

Instinct Factor

Let your instincts guide you in modifying  this flavor as it truly as no original flavor !

Feel Factor

A totally exotic creation with a hint of boldness that people with a penchant for trying new flavors will certainly like it! For folks in India and Asian countries this will  be flavor close to home, with its use of cinnamon, rose and chikoo. And for those who do not like chikoo that much, will not be too disappointed with so many other flavors to satisfy their taste buds. Give it a shot and you might just discover something interesting in this Chikoo Cinnamon Rose MintChip Ice Cream!!

 

 

 

Aloo Gobi Singara Layered Bengali Samosa

Aloo Gobi Singara Layered Bengali Samosa is traditionally known as Aloo Phulkopir Singara in Bengali. When I saw this image on the web, I was fully mesmerized by the flowing layer look atop one of the most famous Indian Snack- Samosas! It just made the samosas climb a new height in my eyes. I had been craving for Samosas and it being Diwali time, in most homes, the best and the most creative dishes are being cooked so was looking for a recipe that satisfied my creativity as well as craving for samosas.

Cauliflower stuffing mixed with the traditional potatoes, gives it a whole new taste and the traditional recipe even mixes in raisins and cashews which I avoided, as did not want a sweet taste in the singara. My exposure to Bengali samosas came from Tewari Brothers near Opera House in Mumbai, whose samosas are just simply amazing and different as they had Chhole filling in their samosas and were fried in ghee. Now interesting point to google would be did Singara came first or the Persian Sambosag

So while searching for that recipe, I came across the Aloo Gobi Singara which was definitely different in taste with an interesting look, so thought why not start the Diwali festivities with a new take on an all time favorite Samosas!! Addition of whole spices of fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds as well as a good amount of aamchur and roasted cumin gives it a good depth and blends the cauliflower and potatoes into a nice tangy, spicy mix, and when fried in ghee, everything just becomes fragrant, My house reminded me of the aroma at Tewari Bros! In West Bengal, singara and samosas are two different items, primarily different in shape as the samosa are more triangular/flatter  and can be filled with many other stuffings, but singara has to have potatoes and cauliflower in their stuffing and are more rounder with greater amount of stuffing inside it. 

Singaras are popular tea time snacks or journey snacks and they were introduced in 13th or 14 century by central Asian traders who brought them along with them to eat and they often originally had meat and other stuffings in it. The Persians called them as Sanbosag, and the Bengalis nicknamed them as singara as it had close resemblance to the Shingoras(Chestnuts). Well that makes the Aloo Gobi Singara Layered Bengali Samosa  an even more apt fall delicacy as it is named after Chestnuts! The taste was great and the shape, texture and crispiness even greater!! The recipe below is a mix of various recipes on Singara on the web, modified to suit my personal taste. It does take some time to take, but then no Diwali/Festivity recipe is without some effort! 

As a Jain I am happy to share this, as its a recipe that only uses half the amount of potatoes, and which easily can be substituted by Green Bananas. The time to cook is slightly more than normal samosas, and one can even try this using pastry dough too!

Happy to share Aloo Gobi Singara Layered Bengali Samosa with you all and wishing everyone a Prosperous Dhan Teras!!

 

 

 

 

Print Recipe
Aloo Gobi Singara Layered Bengali Samosa
Aloo Gobi Singara Layered Bengali Samosa
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 7 min
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 30 min
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
For the Stuffing
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 7 min
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 30 min
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
For the Stuffing
Instructions
Preparing the Dough
  1. Mix in the flour, salt, carom seeds and oil thoroughly for about five minutes, till you see small lumps can form.
  2. After that add about half the water and combine thoroughly, then add the remaining water and knead the dough into a firm yet pliable consistency, slightly smoother than a pie dough.
  3. Cover with a wet cloth for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Check for the gluten formation, by pressing fingers into the dough. If the dough bounces back, the gluten has formed.
  5. Divide the dough into twelve parts and make round balls.
Preparing of the stuffing
  1. Heat the oil and add the coarsely grounded spices to it. Stir for a minute and then add the minced ginger and green chillies and stir further.
  2. Add cubed potatoes, mix and cover for 3 minutes to cook.
  3. Add cauliflower florets, turmeric powder and cover for 3 minutes and cook further
  4. Add salt , whisk the vegetables and cover and cook for another 5 minutes
  5. Add all the remaining spices and mix in two tbsp coriander, cook for 1 minute and remove from flame and let it cool.
Making Singara
  1. Roll one round ball into oval shape about 6 inches long.
  2. Lightly fold the rolled dough into half and open again.
  3. Cut the oval into half, at the indicated half line present due to light folding.
  4. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife make horizontal cuts across one half of the oval, about 1/2 inch apart, and also leaving a 1/4 inch border. Moisten with water all over the surface of this half
  5. Place the non-serrated/ plain half over the moistened cut/serrated half and align all the edges well.
  6. Bring the flat edged side on the top, curved side on the bottom, and also the cut side should be below, and plain half on the top. This way the cut side will become outer covering and plain side will be the inner side, when you fold the singara.
  7. Moisten the top flat edge with water.
  8. Lift from both the sides to make a V shape and pull one side over the other to close it in a cone shape.
  9. Press firmly where the two sides meet to ensure that it will be a tight bottom cone.
  10. Take 1 tbsp of stuffing and fill the inside of the cone.
  11. Moisten the top open edge of the cone and bring it down horizontally to the lower side in order to close the cone. Make the rest of Singaras in the above manner.
  12. Heat about 3/4 cup ghee in a flat pan.
  13. Once its hot, reduce it to slow flame. Add 4-5 Singaras to fry at a time on a low flame. Because you are frying in ghee, it will take time.
  14. Turn over and fry till they are evenly cooked and have an almond color texture. Remove from flame on to a paper towel to remove excess ghee.
  15. Garnish it with some chat masala and serve hot with tamarind chutney/ green chutney or sauce.
Recipe Notes

Tips

Ensure that the water for the dough is cold, and oil is warmed up. This is crucial to the dough. The consistency of dough is key to having a crispy texture to singara.

If frying in oil, the color of singaras, will be more golden as compared to when frying in ghee. The taste is much better when fried in ghee for sure. Make sure that the strip layer as well as the inside layer are well fried. Frying in ghee will take a little longer then frying in ghee.

Add 1/2 cup of peas for more flavor.

The simpler non layered version will be a much faster version of this!

Instinct Factor

Frying in ghee was an instinct based response, as I remember clearly that Tiwari Bros had an aroma of ghee at their shop and they are known to make everything in pure ghee. Having ghee also reduces acidity!

Feel Factor

Welcoming Diwali with something new, tasty, and as interesting as Aloo Gobi Singara Layered Bengali Samosa is a great way to feel happy about the festive joyous occasion! The tangy taste of the Aloo Gobi and the crispy and crunchy texture with the buttery feel due to frying in ghee, makes it a great festival recipe! It makes it unique and definitely an item when you want to impress someone with your culinary skills, and can be done in the more or less the same amount as when making the traditional samosas! Layered look gives it gourmet look so definitely a recipe to go for when you need some surprise element in your menu and a recipe that delivers!

 

 

 

Instant Poha

Instant Poha

With a busy work life schedule, as an adult or as a freshmen at college, you are always looking for recipes that ease the task of having nutritious meals that can be cooked in shorter span of time. These days my focus is in finding ways to make easy meals that my daughter can quickly make in her college dorm in a microwave.  As a parent, I often worry about the quality of food that a college kid has and so to ease that worry, I send her this dry Instant Poha mix made at home, for her to use it as a breakfast, in between meals or when you are just craving for home cooked meals.

This idea also germinated when we were travelling to Italy this summer, and my mother being a pure Jain, would not have much option to eat out there. So carried this mix over there too, but unfortunately I discovered Italy does not have much prevalence of microwave in hotels hence it became difficult to use this there, But later, I also discovered, that I could have used boiling water and got a similar cooking result as when done in microwave,

It seems using this as a meal when traveling in India is prevalent in southern India, as well as there are a lot of vendors selling this mix in Mumbai Railway stations too. Also recently there are a lot of instant  Poha, Upma, and Pongal Mix from Deep foods, MTR foods also available, All these products got me to make an attempt to try  the Instant mix at home, as I can then control the spice level and the ingredients quality, make it a a fraction of cost then what is available in the Indian Grocery stores. It also gave me the flexibility to make it to suit Jain needs, as the Deep Foods/MTR has onion flakes in it.

Having Poha in the morning is a comfort breakfast for many families including ours. With this Instant Poha mix, my mornings have become even more relaxed! For folks who  can access boiling water on gas, there are resources on web which suggest adding the whole measure of water at one time and cover it and let it sit for 15 minutes with a lid on it. For this option, they suggest that the water should be about  half a centimeter higher than the Instant Mix in a bowl. Unfortunately some college dorm rooms do not have the facility of kitchen, hence the experiment  with microwave based approach.

It took some trial and error but  found the right measure of water and time to cook to get the right consistency of texture and softness of Poha flakes. What I personally like about this recipe, that with very minimal supervision, I can cook it, and it frees me more time on a busy morning work day! The final outcome  of Instant Poha is pretty close to gas cooking so do keep this recipe handy for quick meals, vacation meals, college and lunch meals!

 

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Instant Poha
Instant Poha
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 min
Cook Time 3 min
Passive Time 10 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 min
Cook Time 3 min
Passive Time 10 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instant Poha
Instructions
Preparing the Instant Poha Mix
  1. In a flat pan, heat the oil. When the oil becomes warm, add cumin seeds and asafetida. As cumin seeds turn light brown, add chopped chillies, curry leaves, turmeric, fennel seeds and stir on low flame for 10-15 seconds.
  2. Add the poha flakes, salt, citric acid crystals and optional sugar and mix everything on a low flame for two minutes.
  3. Remove from flame and cool completely. Store the Instant Poha Mix in an airtight container or a ziploc bag and it should stay fresh for 3-4 weeks and hence can be pre-made and used later for easy convenient.
Making the Poha from Instant Poha Mix
  1. For 1 measure of Instant Poha Mix, you will need approx 1 measure of water. So I tried with one cup of dry poha mix.
  2. Heat half a cup of water for 1 minute high power in a microwave.
  3. Pour one cup of Instant Poha Mix in a microwavable bowl. Add the warm half cup of water and cover tightly for five minutes.
  4. Heat the remaining half cup of water for a minute, Add half of this warm water(1/4) cup to the Poha and again cover for another 5 minutes. Before adding the second round of water, flufff the rice with a spoon gently.
  5. After five minutes, sprinkle the remaining water , fluff the poha flakes and cook the poha in the microwave for 2 minutes, making sure that the bowl in the microwave is covered with a lid, so that the Poha does not become stiff.
  6. Enjoy the Instant Poha in your college dorm or work kitchen!
Recipe Notes

Tips

If the poha flakes are very thick you will need more water or less water if the poha flakes are very thin,

Add fried peanuts to the mix which will retain its taste over a period of time.

Make sure you clean the poha of any unwanted items , as you will not be able to wash before you prepare the Poha Mix,

Instinct Factor

If making it for next day consumption, one can add boiled peas ,  potatoes, grated carrots to make it more wholesome meal.

Feel Factor

Taste of home for a college kid, a quick lunch meal, and a lazy morning breakfast at home! My husband is happy with this approach as he is always looking for ways to shorten the cooking time of meals! Its a great taste for the time and the ease it provides, so I would definitely use this as a quick meal option.  But for someone who prefer the steam gas cooking, it will fall slightly  short of their expectations, as all flavors will not integrate that well , but you gain some ,you lose some! However the above recipe of Instant Poha is definitely a recipe for when you need to do a cooking without a kitchen or take food when travelling!

 

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Khatta Sandwich Dhokla

Idli and White Dhokla both use similar ingredients, and what I learnt from my visit in India is how to combine the two and make quick Khatta Sandwich Dhokla! India has the luxury of expertise available at comparatively low costs with quite creative talent. The chefs in India who come to cook, probably cover 10-12 kitchens prep and cooking through the day. So they definitely know how to finesse their task and make things work faster for them. One such trick was shared by one such creative chef who comes to our house. Knowing my passion for food and cooking, she suggested I should definitely try her Khatta Sandwich Dhokla from Idli batter. I was so impressed by the outcome, I had to try out this quick, one more easy way of making Dhoklas.

My first challenge was getting the fresh Idli batter in USA, especially when one is living in an area without high concentration of Indians. So decided to try the next best thing, which was the ready Idli Batter available at the grocery stores, viz Shreeji’s Idli Batter. Various other brands are also available, but I did not have much luck with them. Maybe the stock was old, or not well fermented.

After persisting a bit more, was able to arrive at the right consistency and softness in the texture for the Khatta Sandwich Dhokla, What worked was diluting the mixture a bit, and adding a pinch of bicarbonate soda. In a Gujarati household, fresh green chutney is a staple and hence always have a stock of it at home. And adding a layer of this chutney in between, gives it a kick as well as the color. You can even not garnish it, and have them plain, if you are watching calories, and you will find them tasty as well.

Dhokla as people now know it, is actually known as Khaman (Yellow Dhokla) in Gujarat, on which I have blogged earlier Khaman Dhokla from Instant Mix  .The real Dhoklas are the Khatta or White Dhoklas. So enjoy one more version of Dhokla and keep this recipe in mind, if you have left over Idli Batter to fix some snack during the day or for a quick bite in the evening, or just have it for dinner, as a friend of mine did! She tried with fresh Idli batter! Any guess her state of residence? NJ 🙂

Hers came out soft and fluffy without any additions or alterations of the batter dough! Hope you enjoy this quick version of Khatta Sandwich Dhokla especially with the Diwali festivities on the way!

Print Recipe
Khatta Sandwich Dhokla
White Sandwich Dhokla using Idli Batter
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 min
Cook Time 20 min
Passive Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For Garnish
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 min
Cook Time 20 min
Passive Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For Garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the water to boil in Dhokla cooker and grease the Dhokla platter/thali with oil, a little more generously, covering the sides thoroughly too.
  2. Dilute the Idli Batter, by adding 1/2 cup of water and also add bicarbonate soda and mix thoroughly,
  3. Pour apport 1 cup of batter to the platter, cover and steam on high for 10 minutes.
  4. Open and check if the batter is cooked,
  5. Spread the green chutney more generously , bit more than what the picture shows, so as to cover all areas well.
  6. Then top the green chutney layer, with the remaining batter and cover and cook for another 10 minutes on high flame.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the garnish, by heating the oil in a deep vessel. Add mustard seeds, and wait for it to crackle. Add cumin seeds and wait to to be light brown, then add white sesame seeds, chopped chillies and curry leaves and remove from gas after 10-15 seconds.
  8. Once the second layer of Khatta Sandwich Dhokla batter cooked, open and spread the garnish evenly all over and cover and let it cook further for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Make square or diamond cuts and serve with extra chutney, sauce or have it plain and you will enjoy the warm soft texture of Khatta Sandwich Dhokla!
Recipe Notes

Tips

Ensure that the consistency of the batter is dropping consistency.

You can also add ginger chillies paste in the mix to make it more spicier.

When the dhokla  leaves the edges of the thali/platter,  it indicates that it is nicely cooked. Other way of checking is to insert a knife/fork and check for the firmness/cooking of the batter.

If you want to try an instant mix variation, check out another post on  Khaman Dhokla Instant Mix Recipe

Instinct Factor

Persistence and instinct plays a great role in getting things right!

You can variate different types of chutneys for exploring different flavors. I might do with Guacamole filling to try something new with a twist!

Feel Factor

For a Gujarati household, another way of  making  Dhoklas  is always appealing and I have the chef back in India to thank for! The texture is soft and the layer of chutney makes it interesting and spicy. I cannot wait to explore this with the fresh homemade idli batter and am positive that will turn out even more fluffier and tastier! Morning breakfast got a new item on the menu! Plan to post the instant mix recipe of White Dhokla soon too, as this has been my way of making quick dependable tasty Dhoklas for all these years! Enjoy the upcoming festivities of Diwali with delicious foods of all kinds!

 

 

 

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Guava Ice Cream

An ice cream with Guava flavor? This was the question on my mind as I was presented this highly unique and refreshing flavor in Mumbai on my recent visit to India. Today I salute the spirit of Mumbai by posting this recipe of Guava Ice Cream made famous in Mumbai, by Apsara Ice Creams. Apsara is a chain that has been in existence for the past 50 years or more, and surprisingly I never encountered it during my younger days. Its first location was in Walkeshwar and it is believed that all the ice creams at Apsara are made in hand ice cream machine and hence has a rich texture and flavor. I am not too sure of this fact, but if it is true, it is truly worthy of respect for ensuring that the quality has not been compromised,

Mumbai is a town which really comes together in the face of disaster and shows what a humane spirit it has. Right from 1993 blasts to various calamities, it is the spirit of Mumbai that is indescribable, but one has to live there for a few months, to fall in love with the madness and chaos along with its gutsy, warm community.

Back to the Guava Ice cream, I had the privilege of having this on none other than the 75th birthday of my mother who is a BIG ice cream fan. The reason why this ice cream holds a special place in my heart, is because of its topping of red chili powder and salt. That combination, gives you the feeling of earring raw guavas topped with salt and red chili powder! Kind of like the Mexican chocolates which has cayenne peppers in it! That is true creativity at heart and a big salute to Apsara for retaining this flavor with its true taste.

When you eat this ice cream, you get the kick from not only the guava itself, but also from the spicy flavor on the top mixed with the sweetness of the cream and sugar. The challenge to a great flavor is having the guava ripened to the correct level. My initial try had been made with somewhat raw guavas that were more greener, and hence the taste did not compare with the one at Apsara. On later modifying it to more yellowish guava, I was able to recreate the taste to the one I had in Mumbai. Matching this to Apsara flavor brought big smiles on my daughter’s face!

A Guava ice cream treat for my readers,who have really been engaging with the blog and coming back to it, even when there were no new posts for some time. Hope you enjoy this Guava Ice cream, as much as I fell in love with its sweetness and spicy tinge! My apologies to the readers for being quiet for almost three months, as got busy with high school graduation, summer break and college preparations, but now I look forward to sharing many interesting recipes with you all. Bon Appetit!

 

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Guava Ice Cream
Eggless Guava Ice Cream
Prep Time 45 min
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
Quart
Ingredients
For the Topping
Prep Time 45 min
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
Quart
Ingredients
For the Topping
Instructions
  1. Chill the ice cream making container for at least 24 hours before making the ice cream.
  2. Skin the Guavas, and de seed them. Chop them into small pieces.
  3. Mix the sugar with chopped Guava and blend it into pulp.
  4. Set the ice cream container into ice cream maker, and start the ice cream maker. Once it starts, pour the whole milk, essence, heavy cream, a pinch of salt, balance sugar and guava pulp. Let it mix for about 25-30 minutes, till it binds into a lump.
  5. Remove the soft ice cream into a freezer container and let it set for about 10 hours minimum before serving.
  6. Prepare the topping by mixing salt and red chili powder thoroughly, till no white salt crystals are visible.
  7. Sprinkle this topping before serving and enjoy the multi flavored sweet and spicy Guava Ice Cream,
Recipe Notes

Tips

Ensure that the container is pre chilled for a long period of time, otherwise the ice cream will not bind well.Also ensure that the Guavas are ripe enough.

You can even try this with Pink Guavas, which apparently is a famous Italian Ice cream, where they also use some spicy toppings on it!

Instinct Factor

Re creating this flavor was possibly only as I relied on my tastebuds, memory and instinct! And the beauty of making ice cream is that even if you mess it up, you can adjust the quantities of sugar, essence, fruit pulp by thawing the original, mixing the added ingredients and re setting it in the freezer. It does not required to be churned again!

Feel Factor

Second time lucky in getting the right flavor and right blend of spices to recreate the famous Guava Ice cream of Apsara at home! Partially it also depends on the freshness and in season guavas. I am grateful to the Indian Grocery stores for carrying this tropical fruit that reminds me of my days in India. Next season I will definitely try the pink guava ice cream! One has to taste this just once and I guarantee, the chances are very high, you will fall in love with this unique flavor of ice cream!