Friday, 31 October 2014

Curried Winter Squash and Persimmon ( Sharon fruit ) soup - Happy Halloween !

"Eat, Drink and be Scary"- author unknown
 
 
In the recent past years my fruit and vegetable bowls are becoming more and more colourful and adventurous. Having embraced brown and fudgy kiwi fruits from New Zeeland, aromatic and magnificent Alphonso mangoes from Incredible India and green and fresh bok choy from China, it seems I am getting excited about persimmon aka Sharon fruit !!!!
 

 
 
 
It's not that I have just started devouring Persimmon , many moons ago I was introduced persimmon by my neighbour. She used to give me so many vegetables and fruits as one of her family member was bringing from wholesale market, in return I would cook those vegetable and give her to try. Once she came with almost 1 kg persimmon, I was baffled , had no clue what to do with it, asked friends and family ( there was no Google that time ) but had no luck and sadly those persimmon had to go in the bin.
 
 
 
But past few years, I got to know persimmon inside out ! I absolutely enjoy them as soon as they are in season, and I would say same thing about winter squash too. While I was in India, I only knew about Pumpkin or shall I say it was the only available Pumpkin and mum would prepare Pumpkin sabji, here in UK I can find so many variety of squash and I thoroughly enjoy them too. Check out my few other Squash recipes here like Butternut squash and Spinach curry, Butternut Squash Raita, Orange and Pistachio Nuts tagine, Thai Butternut Squash soup , Beta carotene soup and Moroccan vegetable tagine. 
 
 
In today's recipe I have used both ingredients, winter squash and persimmon ripen at about the same time of the year, around autumn season and the first glimpse of them at the markets reminds us that The witching season is just here and so many pumpkin recipes waiting to be churned out !
Its a first attempt to use persimmon on a savoury dish as normally I would use it for sweet treats
Pumpkins earthy flavour and sweet persimmon nicely blends together, pumpkins earthy flavour that compliments curry spices beautifully. So simple and easy to prepare, with a golden hue, silky-smooth and thick spicy soup it's perfect autumn warmer. In my house soup always is a treat !!!
 
 
 
Enjoy this delicious and healthy soup on a Halloween night, which is very lively event filled with music, friends and food !!
 
 
 
 
 
You will need :-
  • 500 g mixed winter squash
  • 1 ripe persimmon ( without skin and chopped )
  • 1 big onion
  • 2 tbsp. roughly chopped celery
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. ginger grated
  • 2-3 tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 2 small sweet potatoes washed peeled and cubed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh coriander for garnish

Method :-
Wash, peel and roughly chop squash.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker and sauté onion, celery, bay leaves and onion.
Add chopped squash , sweet potatoes and ginger and cook 3-4 minutes.
Now add curry powder , persimmon and salt, cook 2 minutes add vegetable stock.
After 3 whistle turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker naturally.
Puree with a hand blender and check the seasoning.
Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and garnish with fresh chopped coriander.
Serve hot with crusty bread.
Enjoy and thank you for visiting :) 

Notes
Carrots or potatoes can be added instead of sweet potatoes.
For a rich soup cream can be added. Vegan can use coconut milk.
To score a few extra points on presentation drizzle spoonful of extra virgin olive oil .



Friday, 28 March 2014

Kiwi Blueberry Smoothie - Potluck party, Cyber Style 28th March 2014 !


Hello readers,

Today's recipe Kiwi Blueberries Smoothie of Prachi,  one of the member of Potluck Party, Cyber Style ! It's 28th of this month and it's time to prepare and post a recipe of our cooking partner.





Fruit smoothie , everyone loves in my family , but past few years I do try to avoid smoothies which are loaded with many fruits and sugar, in my opinion this type of smoothies becomes a dessert for me, it doubles the sugar.



When I saw her recipe, I thought shall I change recipe according to my taste buds? but if  I do that, whole concept of this challenge goes in a vain and don't want to be a party pooper, so decided to go ahead with the original recipe and faced the challenge :)



In the recipe she used my favourite fruits Kiwi and Blueberries, both are packed with nutrition's, and plain yogurt was brilliant way for livening up the smoothie. So I grabbed these stuff and whizzed up this delicious and healthy drink in a jiffy.



Thank you Prachi for sharing this recipe, I loved the combination of these two fruits. It was enjoyable . Definitely will use this combo in the future but will avoid sugar :)



You will need :-
  • 1 kiwi fruit
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • To see rest of the ingredients and method please visit this link.



Happy Cooking :)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Mix seeds N Pear Ladoo / Truffles - Eat Nutritious, Feel Fabulous 20th March !

Hello readers,

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.  -Charles W. Elio-

"Our house is like a library" often these words are spoken by my husband ! It's not that we keep huge stock of reading materials, ONLY because we are a bunch of bookworms :). We all do really enjoy reading, it could be anything, good books, newspapers or good magazines. As much as we visit our supermarket for food, we visit our local library too. Once we get hold of any reading material , it is very hard to leave it, we try to finish reading it up as soon as possible.

Study shows that reading can actually improve your life, you're more likely to expose yourself to something new. Reading is not only to help you gain more knowledge or enhance your memories but improves your health too, reading can reduce your stress and puts you in a better mood even it prevents dieses like Alzheimer’s. A study has found that people who read regularly much more likely to be engaged civically and culturally. Which means reading actually makes you win in life. Through books we can enrich our minds; we can also relax and enjoy some precious leisure moments , So there is only one Mantra " Reading can be Therapeutic "


In my childhood, my parents couldn't afford daily newspaper or any kind of other reading materials apart from school books. We siblings and my mum were passionate about reading. We used to be such enthusiastic readers that when we used we buy anything, wrapped in newspapers, we used to read that piece of paper before disposing it or ask our neighbours if we can borrow from them. When we could afford it, mum started buying every Sunday newspaper, and even today I clearly remember how we used to get up early on every Sunday to read and argue that who will read it first :) I cannot describe my happiness when I won first prize in a competition and won a set of three books, I must have read them maybe million times in few years. We are so grateful to our parents, maybe they never gave me colourful and expensive gifts, but bestowed with such a gift which is priceless,  that we can pass them to our coming generations, which never will or go rusty ,only it will multiply !


Same reading enthusiasm my daughter has, I collected few baby books even before she was born, she adores books, before going to bed either me or my husband used to read to her, while we go shopping obviously first she rushed to the clothes and shoe shops, same time she never leaves a shopping area before visiting a book shop no matter where she, in UK or abroad :)
While she was in India, she would ask my dad to read her as she couldn't read Gujarati newspaper. She just loves books, she says feeling, touching and smelling a book, an experience she cannot describe. She refuses to buy a any kind of electronic gadgets like kindle to read. No only her, but our other members of  family still enjoy this hobby and would never let go off it :)
Knowledge is power, and books are full of it !!!


While reading, we love to have snack. Often I've seen my kids come back downstairs and look for something to munch. Now that my daughter is in university I prepare and send some healthy snacks like toasted nuts and seeds or healthy homemade crackers, so she doesn't go on sinful scoffing :P.
Her exams are not far, she does lots of revision. She asked me if I can make something interesting then just plain toasted seeds or piece of fruit. So scratching my head, and after so much thinking came up with this recipe, still same ingredients but with new taste and texture. Also did I mention these are derived from nothing but only wholefood, nutritious !!!!!


Mixed seeds and pear ladoo ( truffles ) packed with energy and deliciousness. So addictive - best way possible. Ladoo contains, delicate and plain sweetness from pear and dates, perfectly blends with seeds and makes a delightful and irresistible snack, definitely it's unmatched taste will add zest to your to your munch time, infact whenever, you feel like a pick me up thing, relish it, anywhere anytime !!!!



You will need :-
  • 2 big or 3 medium size ripe pear
  • 4-5 dates ( I use medjool variety )
  • 2-3 tbsp. honey ( if needed )
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup linseed or flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup amaranth seeds
  • 1/8 cup poppy seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. spices powder like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom or all spice
  • Zest of one lemon, lime or orange
Method :-
Pre heat the gas oven to gas mark 4.
Wash, peel and core pear and puree them with dates without any water.
Add all the other remain ingredients except honey and combine everything.
Spread thin and evenly on a line baking sheet with parchment paper and bake at least 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and  reshuffle using spatula and bake another 10-15 minutes, make sure mixture doesn't get burn.
Remove tray from the oven, let it cool slightly.
Take out and place toasted mixture in to food processor and grind till coarse mixture and when you pinch the mixture should get into shape.
If not, add some honey and mix once again.
Make ladoo and store in a air tight container.
Enjoy !
Happy Cooking :)
Linking it to Eat Nutritious, Feel Fabulous challenge started by ME and Nivedita.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Thandai ( A refreshing spiced drink ) Panna cotta with Rose N Saffron Jelly - Holi Hai !

Hello readers,

For Hindus, their social life is replete with celebrations, festive seasons allow them to come together as a community and celebrate their culture. A festival plays an important role in Hinduism as they enrich and refine life for those who celebrate.


Most of the Hindu festivals are based on religious activities, like Diwali, Janmasthmi or Ganesh Chaturthi and many more. Within these festivals, most acts are religious but in other festivals such as makar sankrati and holi everyone can really let loose and just be merry!


Holi is a time when man and nature alike throw off the gloom of winter and rejoice in the colors and liveliness of spring, Holi festival is all about embracing harmony. No matter what your wealth, Holi is a time where everyone can fully take part in the festivities. Although the festival of Holi holds a religious value, for most of us Holi is a carefree, fun, exciting and joyful festival than religious observance. Holi is a feast full of colours, dance and boisterous occasion. In another words, Holi is a celebration of Life !





JCO wishes one and all a joyful and safe Holi, May this festival of Holi bring into your life, vibrant colours of happiness today and always !!


Festival of Holi is very well pictured and given a lot of importance in Bollywood movies and within Indian television. Few days back, my kids were watching tv and a holi song came on. In there, the characters were drinking thandai (bhang - an intoxicating drink) and behaving wild. Both kids have never experienced the Holi festivities so they were curious about this drink! Forget the kids even I have never had this drink before!!


Thandai ( Thanda translates Cool ) is a refreshing and aromatic cold drink made with various nuts, seeds and spices and is drunk during the time of Holi especially. To give my kids a taste of this drink, I decided to make it at home and then adapt the recipe slightly by also making it as a panna cotta! Thandai can easily be made without the cannabis too! I also made jelly from agar agar and flavoured it with beautiful rose and saffron making it a perfect dessert to finish off any meal.


So enjoy this modern twist on the traditional Thandai recipe and Bring on the Spring!!

Heavenly delicious, awesomely rich, aromatic and gorgeously looking Thandai Panna cotta with Rose N Saffron Jelly !




You will need for Rose and Saffron Jelly :-
  • 5 g agar agar powder
  • 1/4 cup rose syrup
  • Few drops of rose extract or essence or rose water
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5-6 threads of saffron 
You will need for Thandai Pannacotta :-
  • 150 ml milk
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 6 g agar agar powder
  • 60 g sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Thandai masala ( recipe below )
You will need for Thandai Masala
  • 12-15 almonds
  • 10-12 cashew nuts
  • 8-10 pistachios
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds ( khus khus )
  • 1 tsp. black pepper ( Mari )
  • 1 tsp. Fennel seeds ( Variyali )
  • 1 tsp. cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp. melon seeds ( magaztari na biya )
Method for Jelly :-

Combine the agar agar powder sugar, saffron and water in a saucepan.
Stir till agar agar and sugar melts completely. ( this will take 5-7 minutes )
Turn the heat on and bring it to a boil. ( keep medium heat )
Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
Stir in rose syrup and  rose extract .
Pour in a mould or any flat tray, let it cool completely and leave it in the fridge to set.
After one hour if set cut and use.

Method for Thandai Masala or Powder :-

Soak all the ingredients in a water and leave it to soak for at least 7-8 hours. ( I left overnight )
Discard the water, and peel almond skin.
Place everything in the grinder and add little water and grind till you get a very fine paste.
Leave it aside for further use.

Method for Thandai Panna cotta :-

Combine agar agar powder, sugar, milk and cream and stir till sugar melts completely.
Turn the heat on and bring it to boil.
Reduce heat and add Thandai masala to it, cook another 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it cool for few minutes.
Pour it in to serving glass ( I used martini glasses ) , cover with a cling film and let it set in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
When you are ready to serve, garnish with rose and saffron jelly and mint leaves.
Enjoy chilled Thandai Pannacotta !! 



Happy Cooking :)

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dates N Pear Samo / Moriyo Kheer/ Doodhpaak/pudding - Farari Food - Vrat ka khana

Hello readers,

I mentioned before in my previous posts that Hinduism is often described as a religion of fasts, feasts and festivals, again and again I am proving that. We cannot stay away from those delicious and gorgeous dishes which are prepared during fasting period.



If you remember my sinful and heavenly delicious Rajgara N Till donuts I prepared on Mahashivratri, along with them also I prepared this sweet dish Samo / Moriyo kheer, also known as a vrat ke chawal can be consumed during fasting time.



Samo kheer tastes almost like a normal rice kheer and the cooking procedure is same too, but done in jiffy. I prepare many savoury dishes from samo too, will post few recipes some other time. Normally samo kheer can be sweetened with sugar, but this time I thought of a making it little healthier with natural sweetness, thus I used dates and pear, still my experiment was very successful. Taste was little different but family members approved and it was a win win situation for me :)



You will need :-
  • 1/4 cup samo seeds
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups milk
  • 8-10 dates ( I used medjool variety )
  • 1 ripe pear
  • 2-3 tbsp. finely chopped nuts
  • Few threads of saffron
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom powder


Method :-
Clean, wash and soak samo seeds in cold water for 20-25 minutes.
Boil half a cup milk, add dates and leave it aside to soak.
Place dates in a grinder and make a fine paste or puree.
Take remaining milk in a thick pan, and heat milk and bring it to boil.
Drain the water from the samo seeds and add into milk.
Cook samo seeds in the milk, keep stirring continuously till samo cooks properly and kheer gets thicker. ( This will take 10-12 minutes )
Now add cardamom powder, saffron and finely chopped nuts, mix well.
Add date puree, stir once again and turn the heat off.
While kheer gets cool, peel the skin of the pear and make a puree in the blender.
When kheer comes to a room temperature add pureed pear, mix well and chill in the fridge for half an hour.
Serve and enjoy !
  



Happy Cooking :)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Khajoor shukha Mewa Salan - Dry Fruit Curry - Potluck Party, Cyber Style 10th March !

Hello readers,

After so many months of dark, gloomy and wet cold days, there is a gorgeous sunshine out there today and day is little warmer, it seems winter is past and spring has sprung, definitely days are getting brighter day by day. Although I do not sulk about the weather, as every season is equally important for our planet, but now hoping for lovely spring and summer, as some parts of the UK has seen a very active winter.




While I am drafting my post, first time after so many months our kitchen doors are open, I can see lovely clear blue sky and plenty of sunshine is entering in the room. Birds are chirping and boys are enjoying sunshine in the back garden while we can, as Britain's weather is unpredicable, who knows tomorrow we may have a downpour- hope I haven't jinxed it!



One thing for I am sure, that todays dish you'll enjoy today and forever. Dates and dry fruit curry, unique and delicious made with rich ingredients perfectly fit for a royal menu, hugely popular in our little kingdom, so with great pleasure I want to share this dish with my royal friends of Potluck party, Cyber Style challenge group. 







You wil need :-
  • 10-12 roughly chopped dates ( I used medjool variety )
  • 3 tbsp raisins ( soak in water for half an hour )
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped nuts ( almonds, cashews and pistachio )
  • 1 small onion paste
  • 1 tsp ginger - garlic paste
  • 2 small tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor powder ( dry mango powder )
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp sugar
Method :-

Heat ghee in a kadai and add onion paste. Saute for few minutes and add ginger - garlic paste.
Saute everything for 3-4 minues, add amchoor, cumin, red chilli and garam masala powder.
Now add sugar and add less than 1/4 cup water.
Cover the kadai with lid and let it cook the gravy till oil separates.
Now add nuts, dates and raisins, saute for few minutes and once again add little water.
Cook the curry till you see oil separating again.
Switch of the heat and serve hot with plain paratha or Biryani.
Enjoy !



Happy Cooking :)

Monday, 3 March 2014

RajgaroTil Vada - Amaranth flour and Sesame Donuts - Farari Vada/Donuts - Vrat ka Khana


Hello readers,

               Hinduism is often described as a religion of fasts, feasts and festivals.

During my childhood, I would stay hungry for hours while we observe fast on Mahashivratri or Janmasthmi, not because I enjoyed myself keeping hungry or had much of interest following any spiritual beliefs , but purely to tuck down delicious ,rich and delectable fasting food cooked by mum, because only once or twice in a whole year we refrain ourselves from regular food.


Since morning on the fasting day we siblings, get impatient to gobble up these farari delicacies, because mum would prepare from humble Aloo Peanuts farari Bhaji to rich and luxurious sweet peda, Barfi,  tangy and tongue tickling Sabudana chevdo and Sabudana Khichdi, on these occasions mum never thought twice, but she would only prepare elaborate meals.




It is believed that fasting cleans one's body and soul, but our fast actually turns out to be a fattening feast. We skip breakfast or lunch but overeating in the evenings becomes an unhealthy affair, also vrat food lacks of fibre and vitamins, but still I was cheeky enough to prepare these sinfully farari donuts to satisfy my taste buds.


Fasting and fried delicacies are synonymous, it is a perfect company to sweet dishes. Almost fasting occasions are incomplete without certain type of fried food, they makes whole fasting business more pleasurable for anyone.



These crunchy and heavenly delicious vada/donuts, absolutely straight away melts in your mouth. Very hard to resist for anyone, simply satisfy one's soul. These gluten free, sweet, spicy and lightly tangy donuts leaves your tummy full but tongue craves for more. They are equally good as sabudana vada and so much fun to eat. The soft and fluffy potatoes lends pure heartiness where peanuts and sesame seeds provides occasional crunchiness, while these soft and fluffy donuts been fried in a hot oil, and it's aroma makes the family members dribble impatiently. I assure you that these farari donuts will give you as much pleasure as a driving experience of  a farrari!


We are a huge fan of these vada, who wouldn't be ? :),  and love to devour with plain yogurt or coriander and mint chutney, however next day we go on a very strict diet and compensate our body with plenty of fresh vegetables and wholesome food .


I prepared these farari donuts on Mahashivratri, I know I am late on posting, got little busy with life and couldn't post on time, better late then never so hey guys Navratri festival is not too far and if you can't wait to devour, simply prepare them any day for a perfect snack for friends and family.


You will need :-
  • 200 - 225 g Rajgaro - Rajgara ( Amaranth ) flour
  • 3 medium size boiled, peeled and mashed potato
  • 2 tbsp. soaked sabudana ( sago pearls )
  • 2 tbsp. roasted and lightly crushed peanuts
  • 4-5 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp. fried ratalu or suran ( pink yam or elephant foot yam pieces ) - optional
  • 1tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. crushed green chilli ginger ( more or less )
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped coriander
  • Pinch citric acid - limbu na phool
  • Salt to taste or Sendha namak
  • Oil for deep fry
Method :-
Place all the above ingredients except oil in a big bowl and combine everything.
It should be soft pliable dough.
Heat oil in a kadai over a medium heat.
Take a golf size of batter and make a equal size balls and leave it a side.
Lightly wet your palms, take one ball in a palm, slightly press and make a hole in a centre with a thumb , it will be look like a donut , roll into sesame seeds and slowly slide that donut into hot oil.
Fry the vadas till they turn golden brown, slowly remove them with slotted spoon.
Repeat with remain batter.
Serve hot with Plain yogurt or coriander and mint chutney.
Enjoy !




Happy Cooking :)