Bombay Ice Halwa/ Mahim Halwa

I have childhood memories associated with Mahim Halwa. My uncle stayed in Mumbai and whenever he came down with his family to our place during summer vacation, he got this halwa from the famous sweet mart D’ Damodar.

We always relished it the store-bought one’s. I never imagined that it was simple enough to be prepared at home. While exploring various posts on a food group on Facebook, I came across this recipe posted by blogger Smruti Ashar-Shah presenting the Bombay Ice Halwa (Base recipe by Shruti). I was so damn amazed. That very moment I decided, I definitely need to give this a try.

And like they say “Where there is will there is a way”, my determination to prepare it gave me good results in first attempt. I think many would be interested to know this recipe and would be willing to give it a try at least once. So here goes the recipe. I shall definitely work towards capturing detail step by step pictures when I try this recipe for second time as it will be easy to understand and follow.

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Recipe :

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 cup butter or ghee
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • few saffron strands
  • yellow food color (optional)
  • ghee/butter for greasing
  • aluminium foil/parchment paper/plastic
  • slivers of almonds, pistachios
  • 1 tsp of seeds from cardamom pods

Method :

  1. Grease a long sheet of aluminium foil using ghee or butter.
  2. In a non-stick pan, melt the ghee or butter completely.
  3. To this add the all-purpose flour, milk and sugar. Mix well.
  4. Keep stirring continuously and then add the saffron strands and color.
  5. You need to stir continuously till the desired consistency is achieved. The desired consistency can be judged by spreading a tsp of the mixture on the greased foil. If the mixture sets in 3-4 mins, then it implies that the mixture has reached the desired consistency and requires no more cooking.
  6. Put off the gas and pour the mixture on the greased foil and spread.
  7. Put a greased parchment paper sheet or plastic on top of the mixture and roll into a thin sheet of 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
  8. Remove the parchment/plastic and sprinkle the mix of almonds, pistachios slivers and cardamom seeds.
  9. Put the parchment/plastic back again and roll over again so that the garnish is firmly embedded in.
  10. Allow it to set. It takes quite some long time to set. As per the blog recipe I referred the author mentioned that it takes 4-6 hours which can vary based on the climate of the place. However, I had to keep it overnight for setting.
  11. Once its set, you cut it into squares or rectangles using a pizza cutter. You can also use cookie cutters to cut out the halwa in desired shapes.
  12. Store in an air tight container separating each piece of halwa from the other using a parchment piece.

 

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Sweetened Coconut ladoo/balls

Diwali is round the corner. I wanted to prepare some sweets and snacks but some thing different from the traditional one’s. We – my husband and me, we dont like ladoos much, specially the traditional one’s. However, on some food groups members had been posting coconut ladoos which seem to be really tempting.

So I too decided to try making these ladoos and they turned out to be really delicious and yummy.

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Recipe :

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 tin sweetened milk (around 200 ml)
  • 2 cups desicated coconut
  • 1/2 cup milk powder
  • 1/4 cup desicated coconut for garnish
  • cupcake liners
  • oil

Method :

  1. In a non-stick pan, mix all the ingredientson a low flame.
  2. Keeping stirring so that the mixture does not get burnt and continue till the mix comes together as a lump.
  3. Pu off the flame. Apply oil to your palms.
  4. Take little amount of the mixture lump and roll between your palms to shape into a smooth golf size ball.
  5. Roll this ball into the desicated coconut and place into a cupcake liner.

 

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Rasmalai / Cottage cheese discs in sweetened thickened milk

Rasmalai is one of my favorite Indian sweets. After making some Rasgullas, I decided to reserve some of them to make rasmalai. Saying the word rasmalai itself, my mouth starts watering. So I would prefer to directly jump on to the recipe.

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Recipe :

Ingredients :

  • 10-12 Rasgullas (Check out my post for rasgullas)
  • 2 1/2 cup whole milk (around 600-750ml)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5-8 almonds
  • 5-8 pistachios
  • 1/4 tsp saffron strands(kesar)
  • 1 tbsp warm milk

Method :

  1. Finely crush the almonds and pistachios.
  2. Using a mortar and pastel, crush the saffron strands. Then add the tbsp of warm milk and crush further. The more finely you crush the saffron, darker the color you will obtain. Once desired color is obtained, keep it aside.
  3. In a non-stick deep pan, boil the milk on med-high flame.
  4. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the flame to med-low and boil further till the milk is reduced to half its quantity, stirring continuously.
  5. Once the milk is reduced to half, add the sugar. You can adjust the sugar quantity as per the sweetness you prefer. Stir well so that sugar is completely dissolved.
  6. Then add the saffron milk and crushed almonds and pistachios and mix well.img_20161018_174402
  7. Put off the flame and allow to cool.
  8. Remove the rasgullas from the sugar syrup and drain the excess syrup using a spoon. Put them into the sweetened milk (which should have come to room temperature).
  9. Soak them well and refrigerate.img_20161018_174858
  10. Serve chilled. Enjoy.

 

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Rasgulla/ Sugar soaked Cottage cheese balls

I had more than half litre of milk that tasted a little different than usual. We suspected that it was about to get spoilt. I was really feeling bad to discard so much of milk. I wanted to utilize it in preparing something that would be consumed fast and we might have tasted before. On one of the food groups, someone had posted a cake recipe recently utilizing spoilt milk. But I was in no mood for any cakes.I had already prepared so many and had few left over store-bought shot cakes.

Our festival of lights – Diwali is round the corner and also my husband had craving for rasgulla. I don’t like rasgulla so much but i crave for rasmalai (cottage cheese discs soaked in thickened and sweetened milk). So I decided to satisfy both our cravings utilizing the spoilt milk. However, I will share the recipe using good milk also.

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Recipe :

Ingredients :

  •  600-750 ml whole milk (spoilt or good)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • muslin cloth
  • 2 1/2 cups water for sugar syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Method :

  1.  In a non-stick pan, boil the milk.img_20161018_115637
  2. Once it comes to a boil, put off the gas and add the lemon juice to it and stir well.
  3. The milk will curdle and the cottage cheese and the whey will separate out.img_20161018_120221
  4. Strain the cottage cheese using muslin cloth and discard the whey.img_20161018_120434
  5. Place the muslin cloth with the cottage cheese in a bowl with fresh water and mash the cheese gently. img_20161018_121422Repeat this 2-3 times using fresh water each time.img_20161018_121152
  6. Tie the muslin cloth with cottage cheese and keep it hanged for at least an hour to drain any extra water.
  7. Drain any remaining water and remove the cottage cheese from the muslin cloth on to a plate.img_20161018_154815
  8. Knead the cheese well till it is smooth and there are no lumps.img_20161018_154819
  9. Divide this cheese into 12 portions and roll each portion into small balls.img_20161018_160709
  10. In a non-stick sauce pan, add water and sugar and bring this to a boil stirring occasionally till sugar dissolves.
  11.  Put the cheese balls into this syrup and cook them covered on low flame for 10 minutes.img_20161018_164110
  12. Switch off the flame and allow them to cool.
  13. Rasgullas are ready. You can have them as is once they come to room temperature or can have they chilled.

 

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Red Velvet Cake pops

A week more and my parents will be travelling back to India. I always aimed to give them or cook most of the items which they usually wont get readily or not intend to buy back home in India.

I had some mix of white candy melt with a little shortening left with me out of the batch I had prepared for the Princess theme birthday cake. Cream cheese frosting is what I had not tasted or tried before and I have heard that it goes well with red velvet cake. So instead of preparing usual cupcakes or cake, I planned to make cake pops. I recipe is inspired by the joy of baking video. It is a red velvet cake pop with cream cheese filling and white chocolate coated decorated with red sugar sprinklers.

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Recipe :

Ingredients :

For the cake :

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cake flour ( If cake flour is not readily available, then use 1/2 cup + 2 1/4 tsp all-purpose flour and 1 tbsp + 3/4 tsp corn flour)
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup +2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 large beaten egg, at room temp.
  • 1/4 cup butter milk ( I used 1/4 cup whole milk, to it added 1 tsp lemon juice and allowed it to stand for 5-10 mins)
  • 2 tsp liquid Red food coloring
  • 1/4 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting :

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup confectionary sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the white chocolate coating :

  • 1 cup white or vanilla candy melts
  • 1 -2 tsp vegetable shortening
  • red sugar sprinklers

For the cake pop assembly :

  • 12-15 lollipop sticks
  • a styrofoam or thermocol block

Method :

  1. Pre-heat oven at 350 F and grease a 6 inch round cake pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift the cake flour(all-purpose flour plus corn flour), salt, baking powder and cocoa powder.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter till smooth and creamy.
  4. To this add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat again for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg and beat till well combined.
  6. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl at regular intervals while beating.
  7. Add the food coloring to the butter milk and whisk well.
  8. Add the flour mix in 3 parts and buttermilk mix in 2 parts, alternating each and beating at low-speed.(begin and end with the flour mix)
  9. In a small cup, combine the vinegar and baking soda and allow to fizz. Quickly fold this into the batter.
  10. Then quickly pour the mix into the greased pan and  spread the batter evenly. Tap the pan on the counter top to release any air bubbles in the batter.
  11. Bake the cake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 mins or till a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  12. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack and remove to carefully from the pan.
  13. In the mean while, in another clean mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth.
  14. To this add the sugar in parts and continue to beat.
  15. Lastly add the vanilla extract and beat again once till well incorporated.
  16. In a large bowl, crush the cake into small crumbs. To this add just enough frosting to hold the mixture together.(The frosting needs to be just right not little that the ball falls apart nor too much that the ball becomes soggy. i used approximately 1/4-1/2 cup of frosting)
  17. Gradually work the frosting into the crumbs.
  18. Make golf-size balls out of this mix. You should get approximately 12 balls.
  19. Place them in a tray lined with parchment paper. Place the tray in the freezer for around 15 mins.
  20. Melt the white candy melts along with the shortening in a glass bowl in microwave for 1-2 mins at intervals of 30 seconds, stirring in between. (Addition of shortening helps to give a smooth finish)
  21. Remove the balls from the freezer. Dip each lollipop stick tip into the melted chocolate and shake well to remove the excess.
  22. Then insert this stick into the ball, right in the middle, half way through. Repeat for rest of the balls. Again place them in the tray and place them in the freezer for another 15 minutes.
  23. Then coat each cake ball with melted white chocolate, by dipping and rolling into the melted chocolate. Tap while turning the stick to remove the excess chocolate. (In case, the chocolate has become dry and thick, then you can microwave it for another 30 seconds and give it a stir)
  24. Then sprinkle the red sugar on the ball rotating cake pop, while the chocolate is still melted.
  25. Pierce the cake pop stick into the styrofoam block and allow it to dry.
  26. Repeat for rest of the cake pops. Your cake pops are ready. They can be eaten right away or refrigerated for 3-4 days.

 

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Khaja/Layered sweetened puff

Ganesh Chaturthi was around and we had prepared a lot many sweets to celebrate the festival. I had made packets to distribute the sweets between neighbors and close friends. I have a neighbor who is a college student. She hails from southern India but has been in the states for quite many years. I had given one packet to her too.

As soon as she tasted them, she was very delighted and asked me if I knew how to prepare Indian sweet – Khaja. She said she loves it and the sweet Chirote reminded her of it. Actually, Khaja are similar to chirote but are rolled slight differently and soaked in sugar syrup. I decided to try out the Khaja and surprise my neighbor with them.

She was very much excited and said she felt she was in heaven when she tasted them. So lets move ahead with recipe.

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Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt as per taste
  • 3 tbsp ghee (melted)
  •  for flour paste – 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and 3 tbsp ghee(melted)
  • rice flour for dusting
  • oil for deep-frying
  • for sugar syrup – 2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Mix all-purpose flour, salt, ghee and knead into a soft dough.
  2. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for at least half and hour.
  3. In the meanwhile, prepare the flour paste by mixing flour and ghee and keep it ready. It needs to be fluffy.
  4. Divide the dough into 6-9 balls.
  5. Roll 3 dough balls into 3 thin discs of 6-8 inch. Keep each on a separate plate so that they do not stick to each other.
  6. Take the first disc and apply the flour paste on it all over generously.
  7. Then place the second disc on top of it so that the first disc it entirely covered.
  8. Again apply the flour paste on the second disc and cover it with the 3 disc.
  9. Repeat flour paste application for the third disc as well.
  10. You will get a thick disc now. Roll it into a pipe from one edge towards other.
  11. Cut around 8-10 slices around 1/2 inch thick.
  12. Then run the rolling-pin on each piece along the length and not the side which is cut like we did in chirote. In case of Khaja, the layers will be pressed.
  13. Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, deep fry these in oil till slight light brown on low flame.
  14. Drain on an absorbent paper towel.
  15. Repeat the process for rest of the dough balls.
  16. For the sugar syrup, boil sugar and water till the sugar is dissolved and the syrup boils for achieving one string consistency.
  17. Once the deep-fried puffs cool, dip them in the sugar syrup.
  18. Drain the excess syrup and remove the khaja on a plate using a pair of tongs.
  19. Enjoy the melt in mouth Khaja.

 

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Modak – Kaju (Cashew), Chocolate, Dryfruits

As per mythology, it is believed that Lord Ganesha loved a sweet very much – the Modaks. It is also believed that you can please the Lord by making devotedly his favorite sweet. Traditionally, a modak has the same base and stuffing like Nevri but its shape is not half circle bur rounded. Here, the filling is put right at the center of the dough disc and its covered by getting together the edges of the disc,giving tiny folds to form a frill and seal.

Here, in this recipe I have tried to make modaks using milk, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and dry fruit maintaining the traditional shape while avoiding the dough base. I will be sharing the recipe for 3 types of modak here – Cashew (Kaju), Chocolate and Dry Fruits.

 

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Recipe :

Recipe for cashew modaks is inspired from a recipe shared by lady on a food group with slight modifications while Dry fruit modaks is inspired from Hebber’s kitchen dry fruit ladoos. You can also do the cashew modaks in microwave following similar steps to chocolate modak for microwave part.

Ingredients :

For Cashew modaks

  • 2 cups fine cashew nut powder (I used around 2 1/2 cups of cashew nuts to yield around 2 cups of cashewnut powder after grinding and sifting)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • raw whole milk (just enough to dip the sugar)
  • 1 spoonful ghee (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Note : In case you do not have cream, you can just use the milk. In this case, 1/4 cup milk will suffice to dip the sugar.

For Chocolate modaks

  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp ghee (unsalted butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup milk-mawa powder (If specialized powder is not available, you can use just milk powder but then you need to adjust the sugar accordingly. Milk-mawa powder does not have sweetness of its own)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

For Dry fruit modaks

  • 1 cup seedless dates
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashew nuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp ghee

 

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Method :

For cashew modaks:

  1. In a non-stick saucepan, add sugar. Then add milk plus cream (as mentioned earlier you can use just the milk) just enough to dip the sugar.
  2. Heat the sugar till it dissolves and you get a string consistency.
  3. Put the flame to low and add the cashew nut powder. Keep stirring the mixture till it leaves the sides.
  4. Put off the gas and continue to stir till the mixtures dries out and comes together to forma ball but is still not completely dry.
  5. Before putting off the gas, you can add ghee (optional).
  6. Remove on a greased plate. Also grease the mold.
  7. Stuff the batter while it is still warm in the mold.
  8. Fill complete mold then de-mold to get the desired modak shape.

For chocolate modak:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add sugar, ghee and milk-mawa powder and mix.
  2. Microwave the mixture by adding milk a tbsp at a time for 5 mins in intervals of 1 min. Keep stirring between intervals.
  3. Finally, remove from microwave and keep stirring continuously till the mixture begins to thicken but is still hot.
  4. Now add the cocoa powder and chocolate chips and continue to stir. The heat in the mixture will dissolve the chips. Stir till the mixture begins to dry out and comes clean from the sides and begins to form a ball.
  5. Grease the mold.
  6. Stuff the batter while it is still warm in the mold.
  7. Fill complete mold then de-mold to get the desired modak shape.

For Dryfruit modaks:

  1. Blend the dates in a mixie to a coarse paste.
  2. In a non-stick pan, heat the ghee.
  3. Add all the dry fruits except the dates.
  4. Once the dry fruits are well fried in ghee, add the date blend and mix.
  5. Put off the gas. Grease the mold.
  6. Stuff the batter while it is still warm in the mold.
  7. Fill complete mold then de-mold to get the desired modak shape.

 

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