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Winter Special

Desserts/ Italian/ Winter Special

Brutti ma Buoni / Ugly but Good Hazelnut Cookies

Flourless Butterless Crispy Chewy Nutty Goodness

After a recent winter rain, I discovered an intricately crafted spider web filling the entire frame outside my kitchen window. The water droplets clinging to it sparkled and danced with the sunlight, drawing my attention to an enormous spider resting there. I looked away for a minute and when I looked back, the web was gone or rather, I could no longer see it. Without the light of the sun, momentarily obscured by the clouds, the natural work of art disappeared from the view.

The way the change in life hiding and revealing things struck me as a perfect metaphor for awareness. When we put full awareness on something it’s as if we are making it come to life. Isn’t it? We spend a lot of energy at this time of year buying and making gifts, finding the perfect holiday trees and dresses for holiday parties. The original motivation for giving gifts and celebrating can get obscured by stress and fatigue as our awareness shifts from the feeling of connection and contentment to the harried finishing of all our to-dos.

The solution to this typical holiday syndrome is seemed so simple: Keep it light! Keep your awareness shining on the things you want to bring it to life. Let’s take this beautiful idea a step further and apply it to this year’s holiday baking too. By “light” I mean, something that does not require a lot of efforts while making and digesting, something that is not loaded with fats and processed carbs, something that’s delightful and will make us all happy while giving and receiving! These tiny hazelnut cookies not only sound festive but also fit the theme!

Hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni, are Italian cookies, similar to meringue cookies but these contain nuts too. Traditionally made with almonds or hazelnuts, they have a beautiful nutty texture with crispy from outside and chewy from inside. Only 4 ingredients; yet no all-purpose flour or butter, make these cookies really light and very attractive for health-conscious foodies.

flourless hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni roughly translates to ‘ugly but good‘. These are popular in northern and central Italy; more specifically in Gavirate, a small town in the province of Varese, north of Milan. Supposedly, the recipe was created in 1878 by Costantino Veniani, an age-old pastry chef, and owner of the pastry shop Pasticceria Veniani. Over the course of a few years, these cookies became very popular, attracting famous people from across northern Italy into the shop. Veniani’s customers included names like Maestro Giuseppe Verdi and Queen Elena, who apparently loved brutti ma buoni so much that she would visit the little shop in person with her bodyguards and return home with the cookies for her court.

hazelnut-cookies

You need only four ingredients: hazelnuts, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Since there is no flour, these are completely gluten-free. The natural oil from hazelnuts provides the fat and well-beaten eggs bind sugar and ground nuts together.


Appetizers/ Entertaining/ Snacks/ Winter Special

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

 

This recipe is inspired from Sweet Potato and Beetroot balls from Archana’s Kitchen.  A quick, healthy, nutritious snack that looks beautiful and taste wonderful. I just described a kids-friendly recipe, didn’t I? I will be making these for halloween party coming up soon.

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

It tastes great with tangy tamarind chutney or hot-n-sour sauce or you can also try with salad with lots of greens!

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

A delicious healthy kids-friendly snack 🙂

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. In a small pan, heat some oil and add chopped onions. Fry them until translucent.
  2. Add garlic paste, green chilies and let them fry for a minute.
  3. Add grated beetroot and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add cumin-coriander powder, turmeric powder, chaat masala and some salt. Mix well.
  5. Add mashed sweet potatoes and mix well.
  6. Heat Paniyaram Pan and add a few drops of oil in each pocket.
  7. Make small balls and cook them from both sides in the pan. It takes about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with chutney.

Gujarati/ Quick n Healthy/ Upvasache Padarth/ Winter Special

Sweet Potato Muthiya

Healthy yummy fasting snack, which is quite a rare combination!

Sweet Potatoes or रताळे (Ratale in Marathi) are in season and I absolutely adore this root vegetable. I am so glad that it’s allowed during fasting. Steamed  sweet potato with a pinch of salt and sunth (dried ginger) was my favorite after school snack.

Unfortunately my husband is not a great fan of sweet potato so I don’t make it that often but this time I experimented with a basic muthiya recipe and turned it into muthiya that can work during fasting. I used sweet potato with chestnut flour (शिंगाडा पीठ) and rajgira flour, added fresh ginger, lime juice and some cumin powder. The result was yummy healthy snack which I am extremely proud of!

Sweet Potato Muthiya

 

They taste sweetish, tangy, hot with lost of gingery flavor. Singoda and rajgira flavors are very subtle. The seasoning is a must, it takes the dish to a whole new level.

Sweet Potato Muthiya

Sweet Potato Muthiya

Healthy yummy fasting snack, which is quite a rare combination 🙂

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Start by washing, peeling and grating sweet potatoes.
  2. Add salt, lemon juice, freshly grated ginger, cumin-coriander powder and a bit of jaggery or sugar to grated sweet potatoes and mix well. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Now start adding both the flours 1/3 cup at a time. Mix well to form a dough. You won't need any water as sweet potatoes will leave out all the moisture. Add flour as needed to make not-so-thick dough.
  4. Add green chilies and mix well. Taste it.
  5. Prepare a steamer pan.
  6. Make muthiya - by pressing the dough in your palms to give it a cylindrical shape. Place these in the steamer and let them steam for about 15 minutes. Check with a sharp knife.
  7. Let them cool down a bit, before you slice them.
  8. If you are using these for fast, prepare seasoning with ghee and cumin seeds, else you can add mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame seeds. Add sliced muthiya and shallow fry them on both side.
  9. Serve hot with your favorite chutney or sauce.
Breakfast/ Events/ Punjabi/ Roti Paratha Dosa & More/ Winter Special

मुळ्याचे पराठे / Muli Paratha and WTML April 2013 Event Announcement with a Giveaway!!

मुळा / Muli or White Radish and शेपू / Savaa or Dill, the two vegetables I hated from my core white I was little. I gave my mom hard time since she either had to convince me for eating it or make something else . Convincing me was a harder task than preparing something else. She tried many ways to hide these vegetables in other dishes. the characteristic smell the two vegetables have turned out to be my biggest advantage.

It was quite rare to have my mom open the door for me as I return from school since her office timings never coincided with my school hours. It was one of those lucky days during Ganapati Festival. The rains were unstoppable and my mom decided to come home early. When I saw her at the door, I could not stop smiling. She then served me a ‘garama-garam’ (hot from the pan) paratha with mango pickle which is her ultimate speciality I have yet to conquer and some yogurt. It was so yummy and so satisfying. You can imagine, the slight coldness in the air with continuous pouring rains, the background Ganapati music which does not stop until power is completely disrupted (including generators)  and these soft, hot yummy parathas. I gave my mom a tight hug and said thank you for such delicious “aloo parathas”. Her smile only became bigger at that point. She replied, “Sure only if aloo was a new name for muli in my dictionary” Duh! Well since then muli paratha has been a permanent entry in our house menu and my favorite dishes.

Muli Paratha

 

Muli Paratha

Muli Paratha

Healthy and hearty Indian flat bread with white radish stuffing!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Method:

  1. Prepare chapati dough by adding chapato flour, salt, red chili powder, turmeric, oil and warm water. 
  2. Add a tsp of hot oil and knead well.
  3. To prepare stuffing, in a medium bowl add grated white radish and boiled and smashed potatoes.
  4. Now add other spices and finely chopped coriander and mix well.
  5. The actual paratha is similar to any other parathas. For detailed instructions follow this procedure.
  6. Serve it hot with pickle and raita.

Tips:

White Radish sometimes has very strong smell. You can squeeze out the water from grated radish by adding some salt to it. By adding fennel seeds and ajwain seeds  help to reduce the strong smell.  Be careful with the salt if you add it to the grated radish, the stuffing and the dough.

 

muli parathaAnd now the Event Announcement! Last year I came across this wonderful event called WTML – Walking Through Memory Lane”. The event is a brainchild of Gayathri, a lovely lady and super innovative cook who writes about her culinary creations at Gayathri’s Cook Spot. As the name suggests, the event is all about recreating your childhood favorite dishes prepared by your mom, gradma, aunt or anyone special in your life. This is our chance to pay a small tribute to their cooking. I was instantly drawn to this idea and I submitted my “Rava Cake” recipe to her event and luckily I was the winner for that month’s giveaway. I received the wonderful book – Chocolate Cookbook by Tarla Dalal from Gayathri.

Long story short, Thanks to Gayathri, I am hosting this month’s WTML event at MyHomeMantra. Here are some simple rules.

  • Make your favorite dish which makes you cherish your childhood moments and also tell us a small story about the dish. Not just the recipe!
  • No restrictions on the number of story telling entries.
  • Only vegetarians dishes please.
  • You can link your old entries if they are reposted with the below links and the logo.
  • Link your post to my announcement page and Gayathri’s  WTML event page. That’s mandatory.
  • Add this logo to your posts, it helps spread the word.
  • Non bloggers can send me your recipes at myhomemantra [at] gmail [dot] com
  • The event is open from April 1 to April 30th

And the Big Giveaway – Gayathri will select an entry through random selection and give away the book for the selected entry.

Note that the books Gayathri gives are not sponsored and it is her own contribution to the event. You get a whole year’s subscription of Tarla Dalal’s Cooking and More as the giveaway. I am not eligible for the give away.

On the first of May, Gayathri will select a lucky winner and send a mail. After receiving her mail,you can give an address to which she has to ship the book. She will ship the book within India so if you reside abroad, please give an address in India for her to ship.

Let’s cherish our childhood memories with this wonderful event!


Dips & Raita/ Maharashtrian/ Winter Special

लाल भोपळ्याचे भरीत / Bhopalyache Bharit / Pumpkin Raita

I think this is the easiest and quickest recipe you can make with Pumpkin. It has very few ingredients and it does maintain Pumpkin flavor. “Lal Bhopla” in Marathi translates to Pumpkin and since this recipe has yogurt in it, we can call it raita but more traditionally it’s called भरीत / Bharit.

BHoplyache Bharit pumpkin raita

 

It’s cooked pumpkin mixed with yogurt seasoned with flavorful tadka using mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, hing and curry leaves and green chilis. Some sugar and some salt. That’s it! The simplicity of ingredients really elevate the pumpkin flavor.

लाल भोपळ्याचे भरीत / Bhopalyache Bhareet / Pumpkin Raita

लाल भोपळ्याचे भरीत / Bhopalyache Bhareet / Pumpkin Raita

Soft, sweet sour and savory raita.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Peel and dice the Pumpkin into big cubes. 
  2. Steam it until it becomes really soft. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Yogurt should not be too sweet, a little sour yogurt works well for this recipe.
  4. Once cooked, let it cool down. Smash it with forks and mix it well with yogurt.
  5. In a small pan, heat the ghee and prepare tadka byadding mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, curry leaves, green chilis and hing and turmeric powder.
  6. Add this seasoning to the above mixture.
  7. Add salt and sugar to taste and mix well.
  8. Serve with chopped cilantro leaves on top.
Maharashtrian/ Snacks/ Winter Special

भोपळ्याचे घारगे / Bhoplyache Gharage/ Sweet Pumpkin Puri

Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra, India
Source – http://nitinmahesh.blogspot.com/

My primary school had a unique tradition of biding farewell to 4th grade students by taking them on a two-day trip to Mahabaleshwar. It’s a hill station  situated amongst Sahyadri range and it’s about 115 km from Pune.

This used to be the only two-day school trip and I still remember all the planning and plotting we did to decide who all would stay in one room and how we would convince out favorite teacher to stay with us in our room. of course, food was an important part of discussion and also a prestige issue as to who gets what from home and to make sure we all don’t get one thing  and so on … Our class teacher had asked our parents to pack one tiffin and keep it as a surprise for us, you know the joy of discovering your favorite thing made by your mom with an element of surprise, truly priceless!

We were half way through and our teacher asked us to open our surprise lunch box and guess what I had in my box. भोपळ्याचे घारगे  (Bhoplyache Gharage). It’s a traditional Maharashtrian tea-time snack, The puris are made with Pumpkin and Jaggery and whole wheat flour. Soft yet not too sweet! Best for picnic, as they last for couple of days. They keep you full but not so heavy on your stomach.

Bhoplyache Gharage

भोपळ्याचे घारगे / Bhoplyache Gharage/ Sweet Pumpkin Puri

भोपळ्याचे घारगे / Bhoplyache Gharage/ Sweet Pumpkin Puri

Soft, not too sweet pumpkin puris.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Peel and dice the pumpking into big cubes. 
  2. Steam it until it becomes really soft. It takes around 10-12 minutes. Do not add water to pumpkin while steaming.
  3. While it's steaming hot, mix the grated jaggery and mix well.
  4. Let it cool down so you can add whole wheat flour and knead a firm dough. Like you would make it for regular puris.
  5. Add 1 tea spoon of hot oil and knead it again. The dough should not stick to your hands.
  6. Pumpkin tends to leave water so adjust the amount of flour accordingly. Add sesame seeds if you like.
  7. Now you have two options, either roll our individual puris or make a big one and use cookie cutter or a sharp edged bowl and cut small puris out of it. I used the second option which is quicker and you get equal sized puris.Bhoplyache Gharage in making 1Bhoplyache Gharage in making 2
  8. In a medium pan, heat the ghee on a medium flame and deep fry the puris until golden brown.
  9. Don't let them turn too brown or else they become hard once cool down.
  10. Let them cool down and you can store them in an airtight jar for up to 6 days.Sweet Pumpkin Puris

My first official sweet entry for “Dish It Out – Squash & Sugar” event happening here at MyHomeMantra till March 31st. DishItOut

Events/ Winter Special

Squash Or Pumpkin – Dish it Out Event Announcement

Squash or Pumpkin? It’s a trick question. The answer depends which part of the world you belong to. Squash, pumpkin, zucchini, gourds and cucumber, they all belong to Cucurbita family. There are as many names as many types. In India the vegetable is mostly referred to as pumpkin and just like other varieties it’s a winter vegetable.

pumpkins-squashSource – www.bestallergysites.com

Squash vegetables are native to North America. The colonist were first introduced to this vegetable when they first arrived in the US. The English name of this squashy member of the gourd family comes from the Narragansett word askutasquash.

My personal favorite is Pumpkin and recently there has been a new addition, Butternut Squash. I earlier posted two recipes for butternut squash soup but that’s not enough to enjoy this wonderful vegetable. Today I am excited to announce my very first event at MyHomeMantra and invite you all to join me in celebrating last few weeks of winter with this wonderful Squash or Pumpkin. A big thanks to Vardhini from Cook’s Joy for giving me this opportunity.

Here is the usual drill –

  • Make any dish using our star ingredient – Squash. You can use any squash, pumpkin, zucchini or gourd you like.  To make it a bit challenging, let’s keep the theme as “Squash and Sugar
  • Only vegetarians dishes please, but eggs are okay if you are baking.
  • You can link your old entries if they are reposted with the below links and the logo.
  • Link your post to this announcement page and Vardhini’s  Dish it Out event page. That’s mandatory.
  • Add this logo to your posts, it helps spread the world.DishItOut
  • Non bloggers can send me your recipes at myhomemantra [at] gmail [dot] com
  • The event is open from March 1 to March 31st 
  • If you want participate in a giveaway, you have to like us on Facebook.

Looking forward to your innovative creations. There will be a surprise giveaway when I post the roundup next month.  Happy cooking!


Soup/ Winter Special

Butternut Squash Soup – Take 2

The last time I used Rosemary to flavor my butternut squash soup. This time I ran out of all herbs so I turned to my most favorite seeds – fennel seeds 🙂 It was an ‘aha’ moment for me and hence I decided to blog about the same recipe twice.

“Eat like a local” is a mantra for healthy eating, agreed. But “Eat like a local with Indian Spices” is my new mantra for delicious healthy eating. I firmly believe that anything become ‘gourmet’ with addition of Indian spices and that’s what exactly happened with butternut squash.

butternut squash soup

The basic recipe is still same as earlier with few differences

  • I added 1 table spoon fennel seeds and 1 table spoon cumin-coriander powder to the diced squash before popping it in the oven. The fennel seeds infuse divine flavors when roasted with the squash.
  • I finely chopped ginger, garlic and green chilis, you can actually see small pieces in the picture above. It gives a nice bite and actually tastes better than adding the paste.
  • heat 1 tsp of olive oil and add these ginger-garlic-chili pieces, not the paste and saute for 1 minute and then add squash puree and bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper. That’s it.

Hope you will like it!

Desserts/ Festival Special/ Maharashtrian/ Quick n Healthy/ Winter Special

Til-Gul / Tilachya Wadya / Sesame Candy

तीळ गूळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला!

Makar Sankranti, marks the transition (Sankraman) of the Sun into Capricorn (Makar) rashi on its celestial path. Traditionally this has been one of many harvest seasons in India and being agriculture based community, harvest season and festivals always go hand in hand. Known by different names, it’s celebrated all over India.

In Maharashtra, we celebrate it by exchanging til-gul laddoo and halwa as token of goodwill and we fondly say “तीळ गूळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला” which means “Savor this sweet Til-Gul and may the sweetness fill your thoughts and speech”. The Til-Gul literally translates to Sesame Seeds and Jaggery. The laddoos or wadis made with jaggery, sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut  not only taste good but also provide the essential oils needed in cold, dry winter days.

Even though I have made tilgul at home, Makar Sankranti doesn’t seem the same anymore. It’s just not in the air. In my school, everyone would get tilgul and halwa from home and there would be so much variety with these simple ingredients – different shapes, sizes, softness. But I always thought my mom makes the best tilgul; soft, easy to bite which melts in your mouth.

tilgul

The other best part of Sankranti was Puranpoli and that makes me really nostalgic. For now here is the recipe for TilGul

Til Gul / Tilachya Wadya

Til Gul / Tilachya Wadya

Sesame Seeds, peanuts, coconut and jaggery. You can't go wrong with these.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Roast all sesame seeds in a deep bottom skillet or kadhai, till they start changing their color. Do not get them too brown.
  2. Similarly, roast the peanuts. And grind them, but not into a fine powder. Crunchy pieces always taste better.
  3. Also roast the shredded dry coconut slightly. It takes almost no time if the skillet it already hot.
  4. When sesame seeds are cool enough to handle, grind them.
  5. In a saucepan or kadhai, take 1-2 table spoons of Ghee and add jaggery. Let it melt completely. Reduce the heat.
  6. Now add ground sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut and mix well until everything comes together.
  7. Grease a big plat with some Ghee and spread the mixture onto the plate evenly.
  8. While it's still hot, mark the lines with a sharp knife and let it cool down.
  9. Separate the wadis when completely cooled down.

Notes

  • If you want to make hard wadis like Chikki, use the special Chikki Jaggery. Also when it melts, put a drop of melted jaggery in a cup of cold water, if it forms a firm ball the jaggery syrup is done. This will make hard candies.
  • You can also substitute jaggery with sugar but it does not taste the same.

Wish you all a wonderful Makar Sankranti and may it bring warmth and lots of happiness in your life!

[Update] A healthy snack that can be packed and stored for a while, sending it to Kid’s Delight – Back to Hostel special event started by Srivalli

Soup/ Winter Special

Butternut Squash Soup

Hearty Soup for cold winter days

The best thing I loved about butternut squash is that it’s practically indestructible. It lasts for months (as long as you store it in a dry, cool place) I was instantly attracted to buy a butternut squash and I did think of making soup on the very same day. The day did arrive only after few months. I peeled it and was pleasantly surprised to find it in a perfect condition. And hence the story of my butternut squash soup ended on a sweet note.

butternut sqush soup

Trust me, peeling it is the hardest part. Adding onion is a good idea to cut the sweetness. Many blogs have recommended to add a green apple which I didn’t have and waiting for one might have turned into wasting couple more weeks. I had fresh rosemary, thanks to my colleague. So I used some rosemary while roasting, it added a peppery flavor to it which was pleasant. Thyme goes well with any sweeter squash and also with sweet potatoes so if you have fresh thyme feel free to use some.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

A healthy and hearty soup with tough outside yet soft inside butternut squash

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Wash and chop a carrot in half inch pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Peel and dice butternut squash into half-inch cubes. Also cut onion into equal sized pieces.butternut squash
  4. Spread these cubes on a baking sheet and sprinkle some olive oil so that the pieces do not stick to the sheet and it also prevents them from burning.roasted butternut
  5. Sprinkle some salt and pepper.
  6. If you are using any fresh herbs, chop them and sprinkle on top.
  7. Roast these vegetables for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Let them cool down a bit.
  8. In a big saucepan, heat 1 table spoon of butter.
  9. Add Ginger-garlic-chili paste if you are using it. It's optional but I find it better to offset the sweetness from carrots and butternut squash.
  10. Add carrots to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.
  11. Now add roasted squash and onions and saute for few minutes.
  12. Add 2 cups of broth or water. I used water and din't notice any difference.
  13. Blend everything with immersion blender or a standalone blender. Adjust the amount of water or broth as per your taste.
  14. Now take the soup in the same saucepan, add more salt or pepper as needed. Add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes. It's ready to be served.

Note - The smaller you chop your vegetables the faster they cook so the exact time will vary. Please check after 15 minutes if they are done.

Linking to Vardhini’s Dish it OutSquash and Sugar event happening here at MyHomeMantra

DishItOut

 

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