Friday, 27 February 2015

Rose, Pistachio and Chocolate cookies with Almond, Amaranth and Palm Sugar

Devour with a cuppa or on it's own...there will be no regret !

Aromatic and nutty cookies, with amazing flavours these healthier cookies were second to none ! In making it went protein packed amaranth flour, replaced white sugar to palm sugar and totally gone nuts by using almond butter instead of butter or ghee and added beautifully scented rose petals and chocolate was perfect paired with floral scent, sprinkled with toasted pistachios. The flavours suited each other so well. They were lovely and special.

These cookies happened on V day, while we tend to keep V day celebrations low key, same time a good excuse to go out for a meal with the whole family or have fun and making some gifts with kids,
perfect time to enjoy and savour some great flavours of delights. I relish any excuse to put on a spread for friends and family, whatever day it is !

I know one would be  guilty for not posting a recipe for these cookies on right time, well there were genuine thousand  excuses I had, but taking all the blame for now ;) because let me assure you these cookies can be prepared  on many other special occasions too.

Now that I've been  trapped in using healthier ingredients in my cooking and baking, my brain works overtime. While I am finishing any chores or if I wake up during my sleep ( how can one believe that it's true ) I do think about how to put different ingredients together and visualize how the end result product of that recipe will look ?

I do not know the exact day or time, where and when this recipe came to my mind, but one thing for sure that I wanted these cookies packed with protein and good fats,  I scribbled down few key words on piece of paper and when I actually started to bake the cookies, I played with added one or two ingredients and adjusted the recipe to suit the mood and atmosphere.

First, I was thinking making Rose and Pistachio cookies with almond butter and Amaranth flour. however I added cocoa powder thinking it will make beautiful combination, and kept Valentines day theme intact with Rose and Chocolate, also added Palm sugar paste to keep cookies on a LOW GI value.

We thought these cookies were quite filling and heavy also quite dense, gobble one or two and you can be satisfied in having something heavenly delicious yet not feeling guilty of eating anything bad. In my opinion these cookies nurtures..while rose is the flower of love and beauty, by eating them you are gaining lots of beneficial effect on the heart and skin, eating these cookies feels like giving yourself a bunch of roses :)

Along with the beautifying effect of the roses, essential fats from almonds and pistachio nuts will add glow to your skin from the inside and out.

Amaranth  known of it's remarkable nutrition, also contains more protein than oats. In a nutshell amaranth is a nutritional  powerhouse for your body, how cool is that !

Now, are you prepared to bake your way to heaven ? here we go :)  

You will need :-

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or any other vegan alternative to make vegan cookies ( if needed )
  • 1 cup amaranth flour ( lightly roasted )
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2-3 tbsp self raising flour
  • 6-7 tbsp palm sugar paste
  • 4-5 tbsp finely chopped pistachio
  • 3-4 tbsp edible dried rose petals
  • 2-3 tsp rose water
  • 4-5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch of himalayan pink salt or sea salt
Method :-
Pre heat the oven to gas mark 3-4 or 180C or 350F.
Lined baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place almond butter and palm sugar paste in a big bowl and beat till it all combines well.
Add all the flour, salt, cocoa powder and dried rose petals.
Mix everything and form a dough, if mixture is too dry add little milk at a time.
Divide the dough into equal size balls and place them on lined baking sheet. Slightly flatten cookies with your palm or fingers or use any cookie mould for desired  shape ( I used silicon flower shape mould )
Sprinkle some finely chopped pistachios and bake them for 18-20 minutes. ( my cookies were large in size so it took more than 25 minutes )
Leave it to cool completely.
When you serve sprinkle some extra rose petals and chopped pistachios.
You can store them in a air tight container for more than 10 days.
Enjoy !

Thank you for stopping by :)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Badam Salted Caramel Mawa Malai Peda - Almond Salted Caramel Creamy Fudge !

A delicious, soft and milky Almond Mawa malai peda flavoured with Salted Caramel.

"Commit all your crimes today because even GOD is watching this match" , and I  committed one  !
Alarms were set to wake up as early as 3 am, also checked not once but twice that they were definitely set, also the recording was set on the sky box in case anything gets missed. Food arrangements covered so no distractions and other chores were almost forgotten. While prayers were going on in our minds, patriotic songs blared out of the music player in the JCO household last Sunday.

A delicious, soft and milky Almond Mawa malai peda flavoured with Salted Caramel.

The four-year wait of this cricket world cup has ended and it has started with a bang !  it is to anticipate that though this is one of the finest and most watched around the globe sporting clash, cricket fans eagerly await and discuss this mouth watering world cup match between arch rivals India and Pakistan.

A delicious, soft and milky Almond Mawa malai peda flavoured with Salted Caramel.
Obviously, we all go through lots of excitements as well as the tensions when we offer blind support to our respective team ... Dad told me that on this day this match brought almost all activity in India to a halt and sent the country into a revelry when it was over. Particularly this match was watched by an almost billion people around the globe and win was celebrated with glory.

A delicious, soft and milky Almond Mawa malai peda flavoured with Salted Caramel.

We were relieved when India thrashed Pakistan to launch world cup campaign in magnificent style and maintaining their magnificent record against Pakistan by winning the sixth consecutive World cup game since 1992.  India's win against Pakistan in cricket meant only one thing to us...Indian Mithai with a magnificent style too! 
My mind and heart both agreed and I committed a crime by devouring sinfully salted Caramel Peda, because I knew even GOD was busy in celebrating India's win :)
Congratulations Boys in Blue!

A delicious, soft and milky Almond Mawa malai peda flavoured with Salted Caramel.

Pedas are my all time favourite mithai, I adore them most,  soft, milky and aromatic pedas always makes me happy, I could never stop at one.  I could trade any western fudge for these because they will bring same deliciousness and make my taste buds dance! 
I always experiment in making peda with lots of trials and errors to discover new flavours my obsession for my beloved sweet peda. If you are looking for a few more variety or flavours for Peda, you are on a right site, sit back relax and check out Ricotta Cheese peda, Tri colour peda, Mango Peda , and Mawa peda on JCO .

A delicious, soft and milky Almond Mawa malai peda flavoured with Salted Caramel.

Caramel Peda, have the first bite, your brain will congratulate you for eating such a marvellous piece of heaven..I love how few ingredients are in this and easy it is to throw together..swooning over this! My whole family are a huge fan of caramel flavour sweets, I can gobble the whole packet of Millionaire shortbread ( chocolate caramel shortbread ), if choice is given, husband always chooses caramel ice cream and kids starts drooling if I mention caramel, just a few weeks ago I prepared Chocolate and Caramel Ombre cake 

A delicious, soft and milky Almond Mawa malai peda flavoured with Salted Caramel.

Ideal for Mahashivratri Prasad or Farali food ..which is today.
Happy Maha Shivratri folks!

You will need:-

  • 250ml salted caramel 
  • 500g full fat milk powder
  • 50 g mawa or khoya ( grated )
  • 25 g almond meal ( ground almond )
  • 100 ml cream ( I used double )
  • Pinch of fine cardamom powder ( optional )
  • 2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tbsp almond flakes for garnishing the pedas
Method :-
Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan, keep the heat on a very low flame.
Add grated mawa, milk powder and keep stirring and pressing the mixture with the spatula, after 3-4 minutes add almond meal and roast another 2-3 minute. make sure nothing stick to the bottom of the pan.
Pour cream into the milk powder mixture and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes.
Now add salted caramel and keep stirring.
Finally, add cardamom powder.
Simmer the mixture, same time keep stirring.
Keep the heat low.
After few minutes, you will see the peda mixture starts getting thicker and leaves the edges of the pan and mixture becomes a one mass.
Switch off the heat.
Let the mixture cool completely.
Rub some ghee on your palm and knead the peda mixture once or twice.
Form equal size of balls and flatten them slightly. or give them a shape of your choice.
Also, you can give them some imprints or design.
Roll each peda on their sides in a flaked almonds or garnish on top.
Enjoy !

Thank you for stopping by :)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Steel Cut Oats, Quinoa , Bulgur wheat savoury porridge with Buttermilk !

I am a breakfast snob, I think yes I am. I have set a very high standard when it comes to breakfast time for my family.

" Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince , Dine like a pauper " This ancient proverb has more than a grain of truth in it. Listen to any health expert, they will never fail in repeating this line and more often than not encourage everyone, why starting your day with breakfast is so important.

While I grew up in India, things were different for us. Neither me or my family gave any importance to breakfasts, for us dinner was the most important meal as everyone sits together and enjoy having delicious full meal prepared by mum.

However opinions and habits changed when I settled in a new country, new environment and started to adopt new life style. I have learnt so many precious things and still learning, which I might have not seen or learnt if I was in India. Noticed that almost every European gives a damn to their first meal which is breakfast whether it was healthy or not  as long as you fill your tummy with something after a night's sleep. For me it didn't take long time to get in breakfast routine.

Over the years I still have the habits of ruling the breakfast time, as I don't want any of my family member to skip breakfasts and give up in dreadful craving for the biscuits or chocolate bars in the middle of the morning or reach out for a leftover pizza slice instead of wholesome breakfast. If it's needed I do not give a second thought of waking up early and cook any kind of breakfast for us, I have prepared huge amount of Indian and continental breakfasts over the years, may not be healthy though always !

Now that I have fallen for complex carbohydrate and protein breakfasts, encouraging my family to tuck in too. All of complex carbohydrate and protein breakfasts provides so much healthy calories, real energy and brain activity food.

A bowl of freshly made Steel cut oats, Quinoa and wheat porridge with water, topped up with calcium enriched buttermilk, nutritious spice and handful of luxury cashews and raisins, accompany with fresh fruit, and really you will have a breakfast fit for a king. This multigrain porridge will give your whole morning slow releases of energy which helps in controlling sugar levels , so little fat and plenty of peace when you are having a stressful morning either at home or out.

I have been preparing this porridge almost a year now minimum once a week, we all get together at the breakfast table and enjoy tucking into a bowl of this porridge, and sometimes we don't mind second helpings - I'm at peace with the world !!

You will need :-

  • 1/3 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 1/3 cup Bulgur wheat
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews and raisins or sultanas 
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed green chillies and ginger
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup skimmed milk

Method :-
On a previous night lightly roast oats, quinoa and wheat in a heavy based pan for 3-4 minutes.
Add one and half cup water cover with lid and leave it aside.
In the morning cook oats, quinoa, wheat and salt in a pressure cooker with soaked water till 2 whistle.
Let the pressure cooker cool naturally.
Make butter milk by whisking milk and yogurt together till you get smooth drink, if it's too thick add couple of tbsp. water.
Heat oil in a small pan, add mustard seeds.
Let the mustard seeds splutter, add curry leaves, crushed ginger chillies, cashews and raisins.
Cook the mixture about half a minute and pour over cooked porridge.
Mix porridge and serve in an individual bowl.
Pour buttermilk, mix and enjoy the healthy yet delicious breakfast.

Thank you for stopping by :)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Nutella Barfi/Fudge

When it comes to any kind of chocolate spread or Nutella, I've never been that enthusiastic.  I just couldn't understand how the world has gone nuts for Nutella, until I brought one tiny little jar in my kitchen, only after I started my food blogging. Almost on every food blogging site, bloggers were talking about Nutella , and Nutella recipes were gaining huge popularity.

I felt bad, thought I am the only odd one out, having four generations in our family in the UK but We never spoken that word in the house and never got tempted by Nutella or any chocolate spread as I am not a chocolate fan myself. However I thought since it is " cool " to try to seem an "international mindset", I jump into this popularity bandwagon and tried Nutella first time just four years ago and created couple of Nutella recipes, Homemade Ferrero Rocher , and Vanilla Doodh Poha with Nutella Panna Cotta.

Okay, I've got to admit that Nutella is downright delicious and tastes great, it is addictive but still I have not fallen in that trap, Nutella jar is not a regular item in my kitchen and rarely use in some recipes, quite to the contrary father and daughter duo consume every devilish spoonful from the jar every time, and I know they won't be giving up this treat anytime soon  !

I may not enjoy Nutella directly on my toast or pancake, but Nutella Barfee is a whole different ball game. I love it when it has a whole new dimension, eastern flavour with a richness almost to die for. I made this Barfi, almost a year ago for a small celebration in the family, which I knew I have to post a recipe on here, because it's just so damn moreish and received so many positive compliments.

My craziness for Indian sweets or any kind of Barfee has no boundaries, wake me up middle of the night and offer me a piece of any Indian sweet, you won't hear "No" from me that's my promise. Bring me Indian sweets on my birthday, I won't ask for any kind of cake. Although, I prefer classic sweets or mithai should be left alone with their own original recipe, sometimes I can not help and do meddle with it and give it my own touch or try to make that recipe fusion :)

Nutella Barfee came about as I was experimenting something new with the original recipe to bring about a twist with a western touch and there was success in every bite ! It was divine, delicate and silky smooth.

These barfee can be served either on religious gathering or other celebrations, I bet your family and guests will really appreciate your efforts for trying something new. These Nutella Barfee can be given as a edible gifts or why not make a special treat for Valentines Day !!

You will need :-

  • 550 g full fat milk powder 
  • 2 tbsp melted ghee or unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. cream or full fat milk
  • 1 can of condensed milk (397g)
  • 200 g Nutella jar
  • 100 ml single or double cream
  • 100 g roasted and finely chopped hazelnuts 
Method :-
Place milk powder in a one big bowl, add melted ghee and 2 tbsp. cream.
Mix the mixture with a fork and leave it for 5 minutes. ( we call it DHABO DEVO )
Take heavy based pan or kadai and start roasting the milk powder mixture on a very very low heat.
Keep stirring continuously and make sure milk powder does not stick to pan or get brown.
Roast the powder for 10-12 minutes till raw smell goes away.
Meanwhile in another pan gently heat the Nutella, condensed milk and cream together.
Pour over roasted milk powder mixture and quickly mix the mixture.
Add roasted hazelnuts ( reserve 2 tbsp ) and mix once again.
Turn the heat off.
Pour barfee mixture in to greased tray or thali and level it out with spoon.
Let it set and cut them into desired shape.
Enjoy !

Thank you for stopping by :)

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Rosemary and Sun Dried tomato Buckwheat soda bread #homemadebread #baking #buckwheat #aroma

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” – M.F.K. Fischer

Blimy, in a blink of an eye January just flew away and February is settling nicely in our life. Another month just gone like that, but for us it was remarkable. We all were excited as our daughter celebrated her 21st just a week ago and we ended January with so much excitement, fun and joy.

As I am completely excited to embark on another month to create few recipe posts and pen down some thoughts to bring you my experiences and memories here. I Love to explore new ingredients and churning out few recipes from them or sometimes to give a little twist to a classic recipe has become my habit nowadays.

Apart from birthday indulgence which we had on daughter's birthday, we all took our healthy eating very seriously. Actually we started a new year on a healthy note and we stuck to it. We really are appreciating simple and nutritious meals every day, including plenty of vegetables and superfood in our diet.  We have simply ditched the unhealthy cereals by having oats, buckwheat or quinoa porridge , green smoothies or protein packed home baked breads and today I am sharing  a recipe which is a delicious buckwheat soda bread for anyday anytime, which I created few weeks back.

Bread on it's own or toast put on a table for breakfast, used to appear almost everyday years ago, of course not white, I do not remember actually when we ate white bread last ? Always it has been wholemeal or multigrain and multi seeds loaves which have been our favourite. The more grains the merrier. Surprisingly we are consuming less and less bread day by day as now our focus mostly on protein packed breakfast or meals. I have enjoyed almost every variety of breads here, you name it, somehow I have been always fascinated by soda bread !

I was astonished when I came to know that soda bread can be made from scratch under an hour..No need for proving or kneading, just mix, shape and bake ! simple as that. We have baked and consumed plenty of soda bread in the past. I am very much surprised that till this date I did not bother  to post it on JCO, well, now it is the time !

Classic soda bread made with wholemeal flour, and that can be at the heart of the every meal or snack. Soda bread is hearty, rustic and filling, seriously you don't want to avoid the dark, dense wholesome kind, believe me soda bread is the world's easiest bread !

Now that I am exploring so many various and healthy kind of grains and flours in our diet, I was eager to experiment and evolve. Wanted to create few recipes that will enrich our health and one of the bread recipe came to my mind was Rosemary and Sun Dried Tomato Buckwheat Soda bread !

Buckwheat Soda Bread with Za'atar Mix and Argan oil 

Both Breads turned out awesome, not only once but I baked twice in just only 3 days. Firstly I baked plain bread with buckwheat flour, then I thought to spice it up a little with fresh herbs and spices. It can't be denied that plain flour gives you lighter result, but that's not what I am after. We loved nubbly texture, nutty flavours and nutritious loaves, they feel ridiculously good for me. Soda bread need only the minimum amount of handling and so kneading is unnecessary as it makes bread toughen, why bother dirtying your worktop for nothing, not much in the way of washing - up. Seriously, one cannot afford not to have a recipe for this soda bread in their life ?

You will need :-

  • 250 g buckwheat flour
  • 250 g wholemeal coarse flour + extra for dusting ( I used Elephant Wholemeal Chapatti flour )
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 420 ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
  • 3-4 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped olives ( black and green )

Method :-
Pre heat the oven to gas mark 6 or 200C/400F.
Keep a baking tray with lightly dusted flour.
In a very large bowl mix together both flours, salt and soda.
Add rosemary, tomatoes, garlic, black pepper and chopped olives. ( Skip this step if you want to bake a plain bread )
Now add buttermilk and stir until you have soft sticky dough. 
Do not knead the dough.
Form this into round shape on lightly floured baking sheet, score the dough deep cross or make a pattern how you fancy.
Dust the bread with flour.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, keep checking until the crust is golden brown.
Another way to check if bread is done, the loaf sound hollow when tapped underneath. 
Leave it to cool on a wire rack and enjoy as soon as possible, as it does not keep very well.

Thank you for stopping by :)