Food (53) Fitness (10) Nature (7)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ukdiche Modak - Morya re!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, everybody! I had been eying these modaks for a while now.. waiting for Ganesh Chaturthi to arrive to try my hand. Finally this weekend I got all the ingredients together and went shree-ganesh!

Ukdiche Modak - Bappa's favorite!
The story goes that Lord Ganesha, the Elephant-headed God, loved Modak. So on his birthday everyone serves his favorite dessert! The festival isn't complete without modak of some sort or other.

These modaks are a popular Maharashtrian tradition during Ganesh Chaturthi. My family usually made a slightly different fried version and performed aarthi with cotton vaatis, dipped in ghee, mounted at the very apex of the modaks. I didn't want to make fried modaks though. So the ukdiche steamed version was the way to go! Ukad is the cooked dough and the filling is made with coconut and jaggery.

Making Ukdiche modak is notorious for being a skillful endeavour.. how thin is the outer-shell, how fine are the petals/pleats, etc etc. Funnily enough, the more difficult the stories made it seem, the more I wanted to make it! ;) What's the fun without some difficulty, eh? And it always tastes great, no matter the shape!

I scoured high and low for a fool proof recipe. No taking a bit of water and a little more rice, please..! Finally I went with Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe and some trial and error modifications to make it convenient for me. Going to note my procedure here:

Cooked dough (ukad), outer shell pressed out and pinched
into a cupped-flower-like shape, filled with the jaggery-coconut fillling
and steamed in a cooker (on an idli stand).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pizza and fruit tart - party time!

Hey everyone..!

How do you celebrate birthdays in your home? As we start to grow up people arbitrarily decide that they don't need a cake.. they'd rather not call friends and make a big "fuss".. it's a week day and everyone is tired.. it's no big deal.. and so on. But I realized some time back that a birthday doesn't feel "properly celebrated" in my mind until there is some sharing of a cakey-dessert and food with friends and lots of laughter.

Our uneducated, but very very wise maid back home once told me.. when you celebrate festivals and birthdays, clean and decorate your house, cook for special occasions, grow some fragrant greens, play some music/news in the morning.. the ghar (house) finally becomes a saunsaar (home). At the time I thought she was just being cute. But now I rather agree with her!

This weekend I forced a very reluctant adult to celebrate their birthday just to make me happy! ;) Just posting a few clicks of some food we made.

We kept it simple.. I made MM's pizza sauce and used "Moma Mary's" pizza base and Amul cheese. Had posted the recipe here some time back. We tried a few other pizza bases, but they didn't taste like good-old Monginis pizza base from back home. This one was decent in taste, so am sticking with this brand in future. Everybody over-ate a bit. So much so that some of our guests barely had room for dessert..!

Fruit Tart/Pie
I tried making a light strawberry-blueberry tart with store bought pie crust. I eyeballed the recipe for filling along the lines of the one at The Kitchen Sink Recipes. Probably shouldn't have poured all the berries (with syrup) into the pie-crust, turned out a bit watery. Khair, it was very light and guilt-free. I should definitely try the whole recipe another time. Couldn't take a picture of the whole tart.. (please.. birthday candles, singing wishes and posing for pictures would be really pushing it!) so posting only a small portion in a bowl. Vanilla ice-cream alongside would be nice too!

Thanks for stopping by! Cheerio!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Hey everyone..

The weekend arrives with a bright sunny Saturday morning. An old Bollywood classics station plays on my online radio. Rajesh asks Sharmila when his Sapnon ki Rani will arrive while I imagine her dimpled smile.. I get ready, light a diya, water my little container garden, smell the basil and mint.. pick some basil leaves for a caprese breakfast sandwich and start pounding elaichi to make chai.

Sandesh with strawberry and orange garnish
 All fed and satisfied, I wonder if today I will make something special? While the family is "busy" tinkering around with "important" tasks on their laptops (nobody's buying that..) I browse a few blogs (my idea of important tasks).. and zero in on this Sandesh.

Look.. how pretty it's turned out!! I mostly followed the recipe from Manjula's Kitchen. Here's how I made my Sandesh: 

Step 1: Make Paneer:

Milk - 8 cups, I used 2% milk
Lemon juice - 1/4 cup diluted with 1 cup warm water

Boil milk, when well boiled, add the diluted lemon juice till whey and paneer separate. Turn off heat. Drain paneer onto cheesecloth or good quality paper towel. Rinse paneer well with water, drain. Wrap with cheese cloth and place under a heavy weight for about 20-30 minutes.

Step 2: Make Sandesh

Paneer from above step 1
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Fresh cardamom powder - about 4 or 5 pods
Small amount of pretty fruit for garnish, say 1 strawberry
Saffron - 8 strands + 2 tsp warm milk, also for garnish 

1) Knead the paneer well.
2) Mix sugar and cardamom powder and knead some more. Mixture may get slightly moist as you add more of the sugar. Mine did this time, previous times it didn't. It's ok either way, just a note.
3) Heat mixture in non-stick pan on very low heat. Heat till the mixture looks cooked and before it gets crumbly. (Ah-haan.. but how does one identify a before-crumbly stage? Just stop quickly when it looks crumbly, ya, no worries).
4) If the mixture is not crumbly, knead a tiny bit. If the mixture got slightly crumbly then knead some more till the mixture is smooth-smooth, soft and easily comes together when rolled into a ball.
5) Now roll the mixture into little flattened balls with indentation in the middle.
6) For garnish, heat the 2 tsp milk, add 8 saffron strands and mix till it's all yellow. Decorate the center indentations of  the sandesh pieces with this yellow liquid (gives color and fragrance). Can also use teeny-tiny chopped strawberry slices or an orange slice and fill in the center indentations.

The Sandesh turned out light, soft, moist and ever so subtle!!

Happy birthday to two little darlings my friends just had! We wish them everything good in life! :)

Cheerio and thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Baked Nimki, Happy Janmashtami!

Hey everyone.. long time no see.. sorry about that.. Hope all's well with everybody. Happy Janmashtami!! I didn't actually make nimki for Janmashtami.. but it was Janmashtami recently and I made nimki recently, so..

Tried baking the Nimki to minimize oil. Turned out pretty decent. Started out with BongMom's recipe which I've made before (fried) and had turned out perfect. I just modified small things to accommodate baking and the fact that I didn't have any whole wheat flour at the time.

All purpose flour - 1 and 2/3 cup (In future I will try to combo with whole wheat flour and rice flour)
Fine Semolina (Pani puri sooji) - 1/3 cup or slightly more
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 tsp
Kalonji - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 6 tbsp
Water - 1/2 cup, appx., use judgement, I think I used a bit less.

1) Mix well - flours, salt, sugar, kalonji, baking powder.
2) Add oil, mix by hand till oil seems to be evenly distributed in the mixture, looks kind of crumbly.
3) Add water, knead well, cover with clingwrap and let rest for 30 mins or so.
4) Make small balls of the dough and roll into thin rotis. Prick with fork if you want the nimki to not puff up. Cut into diamond shapes. (Note: I have rolled on my normal wooden roti-base before. But when I cut the nimki it left cutting marks on my nice, (mostly unused), wooden base. So this time I just covered my chopping board with non-stick foil and rolled on it.)
5) Pull the nimki off and arrange on a non-stick cookie sheet, covered with non-stick foil. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 F for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye, don't let them turn too brown. Can flip the nimkis in between if you feel it's necessary.

Turned out glorious. I made the nimkis thin because I thought that would help make them crisp. It did help! They are perfectly crisp! But thin rolling made for a lot of rolling, lot of rotis, lot of nimkis and baking on multiple cookie-sheets. :) Oh well, more to eat!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Auntyji's Khatta Macchi

Hey everyone.. it's time to fish!

Fig. 1. Auntyji's Khatta Macchi

This is from my Mom's recipe collection. Mom got this recipe from their childhood neighbour "Auntyji".

Every neighborhood has a motley assortment of residents. Some befriend us, some are just polite acquaintances, some quarrel with us and some ignore us. Almost every family knows an Auntyji in the 'hood. She's our building friend Chickoo's Mom, or she is Mom's polite companion when together they wait at the bus stop for us kids to return from school. Sometimes she's the neighbor who picks up our milk when we take off for a day and forget to update the doodh-wala.  And sometimes she is the bagal-wali Auntyji with the beautiful rose garden who is always on the look out for notorious gulab-chors (rose-thieves).

Auntyjis enter our lives and leave our lives as they move on with their own. Some leave with Chickoo, the building friend. Some leave with the school bus. Some Aunties leave behind real packets of milk while some leave behind memories of fresh, fragrant roses and ethical conundrums about ownership and longevity versus joy, beauty and spontaneity.

Mom has some marvelous stories to tell about her Auntyji and her family who were friends with Mom's family. Sometimes you get a real lot from family friends. So much that you can pass it on even to the next generation! We may not be neighbors with Auntyji anymore. But Auntyji left with us one very treasured heirloom! Auntyji's Khatta Macchi has been made and relished by my Grandma, my Mom and now me!

On behalf of my Mom and our family, thanks to Auntyji for this recipe and all the memories that came along with it.