Golden Triangles

Golden Triangles 1

I came up with this recipe as I really wanted to incorporate some dried fruit with a normal / traditional barfi. I also wanted to try and make a healthy sweet, using natural sugars from the fruit and very little ghee. Traditionally Indian sweets are full of calories because of the amount of sugar and ghee that are used, so I wanted to create some thing which used the bare minimum of these ingredients. The other criteria I was trying to fulfil is to make a simple, easy and quick recipe. I chose apricots because of their taste and texture, not to mention the health benefits. Dried apricots are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A, high in fibre, potassium and low in fat. Apart from perhaps warding of cancer, heart disease and protecting eyesight, apricots also help increase the immune system as it is a good source of iron, which is essential for the renewal of red blood cells. These cells oxygenate the body, helping to stop feeling lethargic and tired. This is essential especially as the cold weather is setting in and days are starting to get shorter, we need to have feel good foods:)

Having decided on the fruit I started thinking about how to encase it and what other  ingredients, if any, to add. So I visualised the colour of the fruit and what other colours would go with it and what shape to give it etc. I just wanted to use the ingredients I had at home at the time. So I added some chocolate chips (which I now feel can be left out) and thought I would coat it with the barfi mixture with added flavour of cocoa. The triangle shape came about because this summer one of my husband’s aunties had given a gadget to make shaped mithai, which I wanted to use so that is why the shape is a triangular. The gadget is essential a V shaped long metal strip with a less than 90 degree bend along its length. Although the final shape I ended up making was by pressing roll of the mixture by hand into a triangle shape, so the strip of metal did not help in making the final shape. Everyone who has tried this sweet/mithai has loved and enjoyed it, so I am glad I thought out of the box and experimented with this sweet for diwali.

Golden Triangles 2

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Weetabix Barfi

Weetabix Barfi

We made Weetabix Barfi for my son’s Diwali & Eid party at school. Making food should be fun, especially when doing it with children. I love recipes where my son can enjoy making it and at the same time he is learning all the time yet he thinks it is fun, because for a change I am letting him play with food 🙂 We worked together as a team and he really enjoyed crushing the weetabix and biscuits, then mixing all the dry ingredients together. Learning about texture, size and how to measure ingredients together, are just a few of the things we talked about as we were making this easy sweet dish.

I have adopted this recipe to our taste from ‘The Ultimate Collection – A Vegetarian Cookbook’. The taste is a cross between a cereal bar and an Indian sweet.  I wanted to try this recipe as it seemed like an interesting mix of ingredients and felt kind of healthy because of the use of Weetabix, hence we made it as one of our Diwali sweets this year. In case you don’t know, Weetabix is a popular breakfast cereal – more info at Wikipedia here. It also goes by the name of Weet-bix.

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Kesar Mani

Kesar Mani

I came across this sweet dish about 4 to 5 years back. The name was very unusual for a sweet dish –  Kesar means saffron and Mani in Sanskrit means gem. The taste was a combination of a few traditional sweets, a crunchy yet melt in the mouth texture all at the same time. Ever since then I wanted to try and make it at home, but I had no-one to teach me or tell me all the specific ingredients.

As I have mentioned before, I recently got a couple of recipe books from Kenya, ‘ The Ultimate Collection – A Vegetarian Cookbook’ and ‘Exotic Flavours – Cuisine With Class’. I looked at the recipe given for Kesar Mani from each book and then decided to try it out. The ingredients from both books were similar, so I combined their ingredients and had a go. The first attempt needed a little extra sweetness and some more spice I felt. So I tweaked the recipes slightly and came up with the version below.

I had made this dish over the summer for one of my husband’s friends for his wedding, but I thought it would be good to post it on Radiance Recipes now when people would make or like to try out new sweets for Diwali. This is a good sweet to indulge in for those special occasions.

Kesar Mani Ingredients
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Brussel Sprouts Curry

brussel-sprouts

There are very few vegetables I don’t particularly enjoy eating, and they generally tend to be curries made with cabbage or brussel sprouts. I guess it is perhaps because sometimes they are over cooked to make them tender, which in turn makes them bland. We once had this conversation with my sister in-law and I about how our mothers tend to over cook certain vegetables and even foods like pasta and noodles just to make sure that we don’t eat food that is half cooked or raw. By over cooking you loose out on the taste, nutrients and texture of the food, however, if cooked properly and with a good blend of spices, then even these foods are bearable 😉

Wikipedia has this about brussel sprouts:- Whatever cooking method is employed, care must be taken not to overcook. Overcooking releases the sulphur smelling glucosinolate, sinigrin. This is the reason many people profess to dislike Brussels sprouts; only ever having tried them overcooked with the accompanying sulfuric taste and smell. Generally 6–7 minutes boiled or steamed is enough to cook, without overcooking and releasing the sinigrin.

So I guess the key is to cook it like as if stir frying, i.e. fast cooked food to ensure that the nutrients remain as well as the taste 🙂

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Paneer Stuffed Paratha

paneer-stuffed-parathas

One of my friends, who loves indian food, had came over for dinner recently. I just did not know what to make her when she came. I always want to make something special, or different, so I asked her what she wanted to eat and she replied parathas. As a result, for the evening, I created a menu around that, and instead of plain parathas I decided to make stuffed ones.

There are many different vegetarian options for making the stuffing, like mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, or just onions etc., but I decided to go with paneer. In the past I have made paneer parathas using  different recipes from various books. However this time I thought I thought – let me make my own spice mix so I just created my own concoction. Sometimes it is good to experiment with different spices and tastes that you may like, it could just work well together, I was pleasantly surprised with these parathas.

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Puri (Fried Indian Flat Bread)

puri

Puris are flat bread that can be made savoury or spicy and puff up into balls when fried (if cooked and rolled out properly). Puris are considered to be a little treat, something different to the normal rotis. These savoury little balls were a little bit of naughty food, something that was not really healthy because it is fried as opposed to roasted. It used to be eaten mostly on special occasions or just to make a slight difference to the normal meal. Puris are good eaten as a snack or for breakfast / lunch or as a accompaniment to curries, or with sweet foods such as kheer (rice pudding) and shrikhand (made with yoghurt and sugar, saffron & nuts or fruit added to it). They also go well with mango pickle and equally with a nice hot cup of tea.

I remember my mother telling us to learn how to roll out small round shapes and allowing me and my sisters to make a few which used to be such an achievement when we actually came to eating them. Our father would help with the frying and always used to try and assure that each of the puris would become small round balls of yummy food. Last year while visiting my older sister in Hong Kong we made puris together and her younger daughter was helping us make little hearts and flowers shapes. My son enjoyed that, so now when ever I make at them at home he helps and makes little star shapes and ‘puri men’ and of course the cut-out of his hands. It is so much fun and then he says to everyone ‘I made them’ 🙂

puri_2

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Undhiu (green vegetable curry)

undhiu

As we were growing up I remember my mother telling us that on the 14th of January, India celebrates the end of winter and start of spring, the change in seasons and wind directions. They celebrate with the festival of Uttarayan also know as Sankrant, Lohri or Pongal. In Gujarat, in particular, they celebrate by flying kites and she would tell us how the skies would be filled with lots of kites in different colours and sizes, and tell us about all the foods eaten that were traditionally associated with the season. However it wasn’t until I went and spent my university placement year in India that I really got the opportunity to understand or appreciate what this and other festivals really meant. I have very fond memories of my Uttarayan experience, the sky was really filled with colourful kites flying high. So many thoughts and memories, which are difficult to put into words – reach for your dreams and set your thoughts free to fly high ….

Associated with this festival are certain foods which are quite abundant around this time. There are certain foods that are eaten around this time like sesame seed balls, and various curries made with fresh green vegetables, like Undhiu. Undhiu is a good all round curry made with all the fresh vegetables of the season and some spicy dumplings (muthais), which are the best bits of the curry :). In keeping with this tradition I made undhiu yesterday, still remembering  my experience in India, as if it had happened yesterday, even though it was actually 11 years ago. Isn’t it amazing how certain foods bring back fond memories and traditions which remain with us for life. The reason why I enjoy this curry is the fact that the masala mix is also made from all fresh ingredients, unlike the other curries which I normally make with dry spice mixes and a tomato base. I have created my own version of this traditional curry by looking at what my mother and other relatives have used, and by getting inspiration from Tarla Dalal’s recipe and other recipe books.

Today (19/01/2009) as I was looking at Jaya’s  site Spice and Curry, and I came across a festival that is being hosted by Preeti (Indian Khana) for Sankranti or Uttarayan, so I thought that since someone has made an event out of a festival I should take part in it also.

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