Sunday, January 24, 2010


As the name says ,this sweet signifies the looks and shape of the Moon(Hindi name chandrama).even though I am not trying to boast myself but making this sweet is a real piece of art.In old days a girl who knew how to make "Chandra_Kala" had easier time getting married as that proved her to be a skillful cook.It is nothing like this these days ,but since I grew up watching my mother making this dish unconsciously learnt how to make this.Again this sweet dosent require much ingredient as in my other recipes however it does require some time and real patience.But once you taste it you will feel every minute spent in making t worthwhile.

Here is what you are going to need:-

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (unbleached white flour or maida)
  • 1 tablespoon sooji (semolina flour)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water or as needed

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut powder
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds(optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon melon seeds (optional)

For the Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 Water
  • Oil to fry

1) Mix the cream and milk powder in a frying pan.

2) Cook on medium heat until mixture starts leaving the sides of the frying pan and becomes soft runny dough. Stir continuously so the mixture does not burn on the bottom of the pan.Turn off the heat and add coconut, almonds, melon seeds, and cardamom powder. Mix together well.After cooling, the mixture will be lightly moist.
3) After the mixture cools down a little but still warm,mix sugar and mix well.

4) This is how the final dough looks like.You can substitute milk powder with home made khoya or store bought khoya.

5) divide it into equal parts.Around one table spoon each in each part.

6) Mix the ingredients of dough,Knead the dough and set aside.Divide the dough into equal small parts and roll into balls with the palms of your hands.Roll each ball into about 4-inch diameter (like a roti or chappati).Dip your finger in some water and spread it around the rim of the rolled dough.On one of the rolled dough put one portion of the filling mixture in the center and cover it with another rolled dough. Now press the edges together with your fingers. Make sure the edges are completely sealed otherwise they will open while frying and oil will get in and filling will come out.Continue filling the rest of the chandre-kala in the same manner.

7) Heat about 1-1/2 inches of oil in a frying pan on medium heat. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of dough into the oil. It should sizzle right away but come to the surface slowly.Place the Chandra-kala in the frying pan few at a time.After they are floating on top of the oil, turn them slowly. Fry them until they turn light golden-brown color on all sides. Don’t fry on high heat; the chandra-kala crust will be too soft and not crispy.When they are done cooking, lift them out of the oil with a slotted spoon.

8) Garnishing:Boil the sugar and water on medium heat until syrup is about one thread .Dip chandra-kala into the syrup making sure they are coated with syrup all around.Place them on a wire rack to allow the extra syrup drain.They will be dry in an hour.They can be stored in airtight container up to a month.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Simple sandwich bread.

I bake our regular sandwich bread at least once every week.The reason behind it is that it becomes a wholesome meal for lunch once a week and other than that there is always a loaf of bread handy in case we want to eat some thing nice and simple,easy to eat.Just whip up some side dish and salad and this bread serves a very hearty meal.

Here is what you are going to need:-

1. white unbleached organic flour -3 cups
2. water at 80 degree F/27 degree C -1 cup
3. olive oil - 1/3 cups
4. sugar - 2 tsp
5. salt - 1 tsp
6. active dry yeast - 1 and 1/2 tsp
7. dried Italian seasioning
8. Un-toasted Sunflower seeds

1) Mix everything together and kneed for some time till the dough becomes soft and smooth.Once attaining that state leave it covered in a greased bowl for at least 2 hours in a warm place.This helps in giving the yeast enough time to make the final result that is bread very fluffy and soft.

2) After 2 hours the dough will become the double of size .Take the dough out and keep it in floured surface and kneed a little more.This time the dough has rested enough and will be very smooth to touch.This is how the dough will look this time.

3) After kneading little like 4-5 minutes,start flattening it out in a rectangular shape.Like below.

4) Now starting form one end start rolling it into a log by constantly pinching the open end.Once you have completely rolled the rectangle into a log ,pinch the last two ends tightly.

5) Prepare the loaf pan by applying a little oil and dusting it with a little flour.

6) Now seam side down put the rolled log in the pan.

7) Cover it with a kitchen towel for at least an hour or till the roll loaf double in size in a warm place.

8) This is the state when it is ready to go into the oven.Preheat the oven at 400 degree F/205degree C and bake it for 20 minutes or until done(by looking at the crust color and tapping the crust which will sound like hollow.) in the middle rack.
10) Take it out form the oven and immediately transfer it into a cooling rack.
11)Let it cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

12) Use it into any type of sandwich you like.I mostly prefer making vegetable sandwich with green coriander leaf chutney,cucumber ,boiled potatoes ,tomatoes ,sliced onions .This bread also goes very well with the deli sandwich with your choice of meat ,chicken or turkey slices.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tilkut(sesame seeds bars)

First of all happy "Sankranti" to every one.

I remember when I was at home, my mother used to make sesame bars or sesame balls all the time. Not only in the special festival but otherwise too.

The main reason behind starting to make that was health .My father was transferred to a place which had lots of cement factories .As a result problem of pollution was huge and people used to develop lung and breathing problems a lot. When My father was transferred to that place as a precaution doctor asked him to eat products made of jaggery.Now eating jaggery alone was a not an easy task ,so my mother came up with the idea of sesame balls or bars which were made of jaggery.

No matter what the reason was, we kids also had good time eating them even though we did not live in the cement factory place .My father lived there alone and would come on weekends. Unconsciously I also learn't making that.

Now I live in a place, which is so polluted that we do not get a chance to see the starts in the sky. Since Phoenix is a valley and thus surrounded by mountains, it is very hard for the polluted air to escape out. All the polluted air stays trapped in and the sky is not clear enough to let the stars visible to naked eyes. The saying that starts are countless is proved completely wrong with the stars in Phoenix sky. I was completely unaware of this fact until I visited Lowell Observatory. That tour was incredible .We not only got to see 100 year old telescope in a wooden dome which was used to discover the planet Pluto but we also found out some interesting facts .The tour guide said that the pollution level in Flagstaff which is just 2 hours drive from Phoenix is much lower than Phoenix. That was obvious when we saw the sky full of starts at night in Flagstaff and compared it with stars in Phoenix. I never saw that number of stars after I left India what I saw in Flagstaff.

Apparently, when I came back to Phoenix after Flagstaff trip, the first thing, which struck my mind, was to make that same old sesame balls and bars. Went to an Asian store and bought plenty of sesame seeds packets along with lots of jaggery.Now was the time of real experiment and test of my cooking skill, which I learnt unconsciously from my mother when I was a kid. I am glad that every thing went well, and the sweet came out good. Most importantly, my husband loved it and I felt my hard work was worth every thing.

Later I also found out that not only are sesame seeds very good source of manganese and copper, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

The only thing I wish is that, I could send few pieces to my mother to let her know how her skills became helpful to me and how proud she should be for me. I wish she could taste a piece of these sesame bars.

Making this long story short(which is already too long) lets jump to the recipe.Here is what you are going to need:-

1. 2 cups raw sesame seed(buy from whole foods ,they are the best)
2. 1 cup of jaggery
3. some water

1) In a hot wok dry roast the sesame seeds until brown.Cosntant stirring is required otherwise they burn very fast which will give a bitter taste to the bars.

2) This is how they will look.It takes about 6-7 minutes.The aroma of roasted sesame seeds will be everywhere in the house.Transfer them into a bowl to avoid getting further roasted.
3) Put them in food processor.If you dont have one you can use mixer or grinder .The whole idea is to grind the seeds very course not fine.If nothing than mortar and pestle will also do.That is what my maa used .

4) Here is how they will look.

6) heat up a non stick pan ,add jaggery and little bit water like 1/2 cup and bring it to boil.Remove the dirt with a spoon.Now keep boiling for some time until you get the consistency of the liquid very stringy and bubbling like shown below.

7) To test if the jaggery syrup has attained the desired consistency you can take some cold water in bowl and pour some bubbling liquid .You will see that as soon as you drop the liquid in the cold water it will from into a thick mass like caramelized candy.This step in very crucial as formation of proper bars depends upon how your jaggery syrup is.
8) If you try to stir with a spoon the mass will stick into it and with your fingers you can easily form a ball of jaggery.That is when you know your syrup is done.

9) Now pour the syrup into ground sesame seeds ,not all at once but little by little.In the mean time keep stirring the sesame seeds powder so that you will get an idea how much more syrup you need.Once you think you have poured enough syrup ,you can stop and give it a final stir.
10) Mix properly.You will have to be very fast because if the mixture cools down even a little then the jaggery syrup will crystallize.So keep every thing prepared ahead of time.
11) Transfer it into the aluminum paper.

12)Dip your hands in cold water and start flatting it out.Keep it about 1/2 inch thick.Let it cool down a little .

13) Cut it in what ever shape you like.I made them in a square shape.

14) Enjoy.Once completely cooled down you can store them in an air tight container.It stays well for 2-3 weeks.However it is better not to make in large batches because the oil in sesame seeds can go rancid if kept for a long time.

15) On Sankranti we have the tradition of eating "chura-dahe-chinni aur tilkut"(That is water soaked beaten rice ,yogurt,sugar and sesame seeds bar)
Again the nice thing is that there are very few ingredients used,has less fat and very simple and less time taking.Above all a very good source of calcium.Sesame seeds have more calcium than milk.Good for kids as they love eating sweet ,at the same time getting loads of calcium for their constant and rapid bone formation.

This post is my contribution to "cooking with seeds event" hosted by Priya.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Black Gram Sprouts snack

Sprouts in any form and any kind is healthy.One of my favorite sprouts is black gram(kala chana) sprout which can be made very easily at home.Just soak black gram over night,in the morning strain out all the water.Cover it with a light lid and keep it in a dark place for two days.I like my sprouts a little longer and little bitter so I leave them for three days.Longer sprouts give a little bitter taste because of the increase in protein amount.However never let the sprouts grow that long so they start forming roots.Once root formation starts protein depletion also starts.So after you get the desired length of sprouts keep your sprouts in the refrigerator and use them within 3-4 days.

These sprouts are very sturdy unlike moon sprouts which are very delicate to handle.These sprouts can be used in several form,but my favorite is using them as snack item made with beaten rice.The nice thing about this snack is that you have to use little oil and very little cooked which serves the purpose of eating sprouts.

Here is what you are going to need:-

1. One full cup of sprouts.
2. Beaten rice -1 and 1/2 cups(keep it dry ,do not soak in water)
3. oil- 1 teaspoon+ one table spoon
4. one green chili
5. 1/2th teaspoon cumin seeds
6. 1/4th teaspoon turmeric powder
7. salt to taste
8. 1/2 of a medium size onion

1) Clean the sprout and drain all the water.

2) Heat up a wok,add one teaspoon of oil,cumin seeds and green chili.

3) Once the cumin seeds are little brown,add chopped onions.Also add sprouts,turmeric and little salt.Saute for a minute.

4) Cook for total of two minutes and turn the heat off.I know it sounds funny that a tough daal like chana getting cooked in two minutes but believe me it gets cooked enough to be eaten without problem.Moreover you do not want to kill all the nutrition so sprouts.So just cook enough so that the raw taste is gone.Transfer the sprouts in a bowl.

4)In the same wok add one table spoon of oil and add beaten rice and little salt.Cook on high heat.Keep stirring constantly otherwise it will burn very quickly.

5) It takes about 5-6 minutes to cook the beaten rice .
6) Now add the cooked sprouts and mix together.

7) Transfer into a serving dish and enjoy hot.
1)you can cook beaten rice and sprouts separately ahead of time but mix them together only just before serving.Otherwise the beaten rice will become soggy and very chewy to eat.

2)If you want you can just eat the cooked sprouts alone.Makes a light snacks.Again a good way to feed sprouts as they do not want to eat sprouts raw.