A healthy festive drink!
Last Monday we celebrated Akshay Trutiya, a religious occasion which calls for a sweet treat. “Akshay” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and this day falls on the third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the Indian month of Vaishakha and one of the 3 and 1/2 “the most auspicious days” or also known as “Sade-Teen Muhurt” considered by Hindus. It’s believed that Akshay Trutiya was the day when Lord Ganesha started writing epic Mahabharata to Ved Vyasa’s dictation. It’s considered auspicious to start a new venture or a new job, buy new property and jewelry too.
Every year my aajji used to celebrate Akshay trutiya by buying a gold coin and visiting the Vishnu temple. And I used to wait for her to come back so that I could get the prasad – the sweets! She tried making new sweets every time and this Moong Kheer (Porridge) was one of those innumerable treats I have had from her.
Traditionally it’s served warm but I like it chilled too. A very simple lentil kheer with just over 3 ingredients. Easy to make yet rates quite high on healthy spectrum which is quite unusual for an Indian sweet.Here is what you need.
A festive healthy drink! the two words fit in one sentence quite rarely!
- Lightly toast the moong dal with some ghee in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Do not let them turn brown. You should be able smell their nutty aroma.
- Add one cup of water to moong dal and pressure cook it for 2 whistels. They should be well cooked with very little water left in your cooking pot. It will have soft and smushy texture.
- Meanwhile, add jaggery in 1/2 cup water an dlet it dissolve completely. Strain the mixture in order to separate any impurities. Keep it aside.
- Using a potato masher or churner, mash the lentils so they become creamy but still have some bits in it.
- Put these cooked lentils and the jaggery solution in a pan and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add the milk and stir till mixed well, and turn up the heat a bit. Bring it to a boil, and let it cook for another minute.
- Take it off the heat and then add the powdered ginger and the cardamom. Stir well.
Let it cool a bit before you pour it in glasses. Serve it warm. This recipe serves 4 to 6 depending on size of serving.
- Toasting helps to bring out the nuttiness which makes the kheer more flavorful. But be careful not to turn them brown or it would overpower the taste.
- Before adding milk, stir frequently as it doen't contain lot of liquid and it may stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add basil leaves and a pinch of saffron before serving. Adds another dimension to the simple flavors.
I recently came to know that this is also known as Parippu Kanji or Paruppu Kanji where “parippu” is lentils and “kanji” is porridge in Tamil and it’s almost synonymous to Shivratri in some communities. I think it completely makes sense. The kheer made of moong dal, a rich source of protein yet easy on digestion system and jaggery which is unrefined sugar, high in energy, added with milk, sounds like a perfect recipe which is light but nutritious for a fasting day. Enjoy your healthy treat!
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.
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
Sesame Seeds, peanuts, coconut and jaggery. You can't go wrong with these.
- Roast all sesame seeds in a deep bottom skillet or kadhai, till they start changing their color. Do not get them too brown.
- Similarly, roast the peanuts. And grind them, but not into a fine powder. Crunchy pieces always taste better.
- Also roast the shredded dry coconut slightly. It takes almost no time if the skillet it already hot.
- When sesame seeds are cool enough to handle, grind them.
- In a saucepan or kadhai, take 1-2 table spoons of Ghee and add jaggery. Let it melt completely. Reduce the heat.
- Now add ground sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut and mix well until everything comes together.
- Grease a big plat with some Ghee and spread the mixture onto the plate evenly.
- While it's still hot, mark the lines with a sharp knife and let it cool down.
- Separate the wadis when completely cooled down.
- 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
Simplest Jam made with Exotic Ingredients
When I was little, one of my favorite treats were fresh pineapple. A pineapple is a seasonal fruit in India so finding ways to preserve it for rest of the year was quite natural. The obvious was Pineapple Jam; still my most favorite!
I like it crunchy and not spreadable like store bought ones. So I prefer not to blend it. If you plan to keep it for longer which is so hard since it’s so tempting, you can use some preservative. But for me simple sugar syrup works best. Many recipes ask for adding water which inherently needs some preservative, at least lemon and that also means a way more sugar than my simple recipe. Also I tend to cook it lesser than usual so it still maintains the juices. The only trick is to use perfectly ripe pineapple with no green skin.
I use s pinch of spices and also saffron which add a whole new dimension to this flavorful fruit. Try it on a hot toast with some butter and you will fall in love with it.
Homemade Pineapple Jam
Preserving summer bounty in a jar cannot be simpler
- To peel the skin off a pineapple, first chop off the top green crown and also slice off its bottom so that it stands straight on your chopping board.
- Peel off the skin with a sharp knife. You can make deep cuts to remove the black parts called 'eyes' or remove them separately.
- Now make rectangular slices by carefully avoiding the middle tough part. Don't use it, it's hard to digest.
- Chop it nicely and and put them in a medium sauce pan.
- On a medium heat, let them saute for a minute or so.
- Now add sugar and mix well.
- Let it come to a boil and them simmer for couple of minutes.
- Once done, turn off the heat and add cardamom powder and saffron. Mix well.
- Let it cool down completely, so not cover it else the steam will add unwanted moisture.
- Once cooled down, store it in a dry glass jar and keep it refrigerated. It lasts up to 6 weeks.
[Update] A jar full of love and flavor, perfect to send with kids at hostel., sending it to Kid’s Delight – Back to Hostelspecial event started by Srivalli
This is my mom’s speciality and I simply love these laddoos. Forget about being healthy, they are so good, they just melt in your mouth and you won’t be able to make out the main ingredient which is नाचणी / Nachani or Ragi or Finger millet
She always asks me to eat Nachani (Ragi) more often as it contains lot of calcium. Toady on the occasion of Thanksgiving day, I made her speciality to express my gratitude towards my mom.
नाचणीचे लाडू / Nachaneeche Ladoo / Ragi Laddoo
The most delicious and healthiest laddoos ever!
Makes 10-11 laddoos
Nothing makes me miss home more than not being there for Diwali… Waking up early in the morning, getting an oil massage from mom, then a bath with ‘santoor-sandle’ soap bought specially for Diwali, helping her to make rangoli, wearing new clothes, then unlimited firecrackers followed by scrumptious faral with family… Happy Days!
Here’s wishing all my readers a very happy diwali.
May the auspicious festival of lights
illuminate your life in the year ahead with
Happiness, Health and Prosperity !
To cherish those happy moments from my childhood, I decided to make grandma’s speciality – rava laddoo.
These laddoos are so soft that they melt in your mouth instantly. The fresh coconut adds an extra texture. They are simply out of these world.
Rava Coconut Laddoo
The best thing I have ever had!
- In a kadhai, add ghee and keep the flame to low-to-medium.
- Once the ghee melts, add fine rava and roast it until you can smell it from outside your kitchen. That's when the rava is nicely roasted.
- Once it's done, add freshly grated coconut and roast for some more time and then switch off the gas.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan mix water and the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Boil it for 3-4 minutes and switch it off. This is called 'ektari paak' / sugar syrup.
- Add this sugar syrup, to the rava-coconut mixture and mix well. Make sure there are lumps.
- Add cardamom powder and mix again.
- Let the mixture cool down for couple hours. Then you can form laddoos.
This is my gift to Preeti’s Diwali Fest hosted at Preeti’s Kitchen as announced by Surbhi, also to Nupur