Monday, October 12, 2020

More Indian Sweets

Indian sweet treats, whether for one of the many festivals or holy days or just for home consumption, all seem to be made with milk. Well, maybe not all, but most. Making matters worse, they are generally made using Khoya or Mawa, a milk product created by slowly cooking, stirring, simmering, stirring, stirring and stirring, for hours, until the end result is a thickened mass. This is the basis for so many of the sweets, like Gulab Jamun, Rasgullah, Peda and many others. 

When I first made Gajar Burfi, a carrot fudge, some years back, it was  one of these recipes calling for the long milk cooking process. My sister, who once made an Indian meal for some friends, noted that she was going to make a recipe for Carrot 'Halwa', from one of her cookbooks. It was that long, slow, stirring process. She wrote later that it was a huge hit with her guests. However, after 4 1/2 hours of stirring to accomplish this result, she flatly stated, "NEVER AGAIN!"

carrots, sweet treats, whole milk powder, sugar, Gajar Burfi
Gajar Burfi or Carrot Fudge
Having read that halwa and burfi are similar, but that halwa is generally made without milk while burfi is made with milk, obviously that is a generality that doesn't always apply. When I came across a recipe for Gajar Burfi that I tweaked to come out similarly by using whole milk powder to thicken the mixture instead of stirring for hours, I was very pleased. I sent the recipe to my sister. I have no idea if she ever tried it out. She may still be too traumatized. =:o

Now, as I am preparing for an Indian dinner for another two of my sisters, I chose to make a sweets assortment as dessert rather than go to deep-frying (which I abhor, no matter how good the outcome) to make Gulab Jamun or making paneer so I could make Rasgullah (a major difficulty nowadays since pretty much all milk in the grocery is "ultra-pasteurized," and does not like to form curds for the paneer). So I looked through an Indian cookbook I created for myself, made up of mostly recipes I have created, generally by looking through 2 to 20 recipes and coming up with something that sounds good to me. I have quite a repertoire by now, as I have been making Indian food for nearly 30 years at this point. But there are things I still want to try out, so I added into this cookbook some recipes that were either straight from someone's website (to tweak later on when I tried it out), or again a compilation of what "I would do," having previously looked at many iterations for the recipe. Some of these sweets are among those. Things I had yet to try.

semolina, cashews, coconut, raisins, sweets, laddoo
Rava Laddoo, Sweet Semolina Laddoo

Why did I wait so long?

Who knows. Sometimes, it just seems like it's going to be a huge bother, or a huge mess, and I procrastinate. That is something I am really, terribly good at.

In selecting the sweets to make for a treat at end of this dinner, I selected three things in my cookbook, along with the Gajar (Carrot) Burfi, made before. I love the Carrot Fudge, and as my husband, who is not at all fond of carrots, loves it as well, just proves that once you add enough sugar, he will eat most things. :-)

I wrote a couple of days ago about the Badam Katli, or Thin Almond Fudge. That recipe is one that does not use the milk as it's basis. As it turns out, the second sweet I tried out is Rava Laddoo, or Sweet Semolina Laddoo, also does not use milk as it's basis. So much for generalities! This was a welcome discovery as my whole milk powder is running low and no grocery anywhere I have shopped carries whole milk powder. Nonfat milk powder is found anywhere. But nonfat is not the best way to go for these sweets. 

The Sweet Semolina Laddoo recipe is one I chose from a website called "Chef in You." I used it mostly just as stated in the recipe on that blog, so I urge you to go there and check out all the step by step photos, if those are needed. I happened to have semolina in my pantry, as I use it occasionally when making pasta. I measured some ingredients by gram or ounce. Some, like "10 cashews," were self explanatory. 

Rava Laddoo or Sweet Semolina Laddoo

Made about 25

Heat 2 teaspoons (of the total 4 1/2 teaspoons) of ghee in a wide skillet. Toast the raw cashews until they start to turn golden, stirring constantly. Turn these out onto paper toweling and then add in the raisins to the skillet, tossing and cooking until they puff up. Turn out to another sheet of paper toweling.

Toast the grated dry coconut, not till browned, but just until it smells of coconut. Turn out to a small bowl.

Add the remaining ghee to the skillet and over low heat add in the semolina, stirring and mixing until the smell is very apparent. It does not need to brown, but to absorb the ghee and slightly cook.

semolina, cashews, coconut, raisins, sweets

 Turn the semolina out into a mixing bowl and add in the toasted nuts, coconut, raisins, pinch of salt and the cardamom powder. Stir, then add in the sugar and mix well. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk and stir in. Check if at this point it is possible to squeeze a small amount into a ball. If you have ever made Rum Balls or Bourbon Balls at Christmas, it is similar. If the mixture will not hold its shape, add in more milk as needed, by one or two teaspoons at a time, mixing very well each time to distribute the liquid, before testing if it will hold a ball shape. I live in a very dry climate and needed to add over 2 tablespoons more milk to make the mixture hold together.

Once the mixture can hold shape, pour all of the mixture back onto the skillet and keep over low heat, covered, and let rest for 2 minutes. This gives the mixture time to absorb  and will form and taste better.

Pour back into the mixing bowl and scoop out 2 to 3 teaspoonful sized portions and form into balls. It is good to have little mini muffin papers to contain them but is not completely needed. Best if kept in the fridge and will last about 5 days.


sweet treats, milk fudge, condensed milk, powdered milk
Doodh Peda or Milk Fudge Balls

The other sweet I tried out was one called Peda. Or Doodh (milk) Peda (something spherical shaped). I am not totally positive where I found this recipe, but it is very similar to one from Hebbar's Kitchen, so please check out her recipe, again with step by step pictures if those are needed. These are little milk fudge balls, and are simple to make, if you choose to use the quick method of using condensed milk and milk powder. Sweetened condensed milk eliminates the need to add any other sugar and the milk powder thickens the mixture, giving it a great head-start. Oh, and they are so delicious!

Doodh Peda or Milk Fudge Balls

Makes about 25

milk powder, condensed milk, sweet treats, fudge
Doodh Peda or Milk Fudge Balls

1 tablespoon ghee

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 cups whole milk powder

2 tablespoons milk, warmed

8 or 9 saffron threads

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground

1 teaspoon ghee, plus more for hands while rolling

pistachios to decorate, whole or chopped

In a small bowl, set the saffron threads into the warm milk to steep. Set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, add in the first teaspoon ghee, spread around in the pan, then pour in the sweetened condensed milk and the dry milk powder. Stir this mixture thoroughly, breaking up lumps, until the mixture is smooth. Add in the saffron milk and stir. Set over medium to medium low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Add in the cardamom powder and the second teaspoon of ghee and stir well. Remove from heat and pour onto a greased plate to cool slightly. Once it can be handled, grease hands with ghee and take small portions of the mixture and toll into balls. Technically, it is common to use a Peda Stamp to press a starburst into the top of the ball, and then pistachios, or pistachio slivers pressed in to adorn. I used the tip of a lemon reamer to make a starburst. 

Keep in a well sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a few days.

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Indian Food Updates and New Recipes

I am planning another Indian meal for two of my sisters next week. Some recipes are ones I have made before, like Kachche Gosht ki Biryani, and some I have made many, many times before, like Palak Paneer. I will be serving an array of chutneys, such as Dhania Poodina (Mint and Cilantro Chutney), Khajur Imli Chatni (Date Tamarind Chutney) and Am Chatni (Mango Chutney). One of my sisters in particular, really loves turning up the heat, so i returned to a recipe I had made in past, called Allam Pachadi, a Ginger Tamarind 'Pickle.'

ginger, tamarind, pickle, chutney, red chilies, curry leaves
Allam Pachadi / Ginger Tamarind Pickle

So, looking back over that recipe I used for Allam Pachadi, I thought maybe I should change some things. First off, while I like heat, sometimes it's just heat with no perceptible flavor, while your taste buds try to crawl away screaming, and hide. So I went back to look through the internet and some of my favorite Indian blogs, and others that are new to me, to see what other ingredients or methods might be used for this 'pickle.' I am putting that word in quotes, as these in no way resemble what we know here in the U.S as pickles. They fall more in the category of chutney, and some blog writers seem to use these words interchangeably for the same recipes. 

Looking through recipes then, I stopped at one  that seemed to be very interesting, both for the change of ingredients as well as the method of making the pickle. In the first attempt for this pickle that I made some years ago, the main recipe I used, and made a few alterations to, called for 6 TABLESPOONS of Indian powdered chilis. Yikes! I reduced that to 2 tablespoons, substituting paprika for the remainder, but even so, it was too screaming hot for me to do anything but taste.  When I encountered a recipe that sounded like it had promise, it was at the blog site called Hebbar's Kitchen. I used that recipe as a starting point, altering a few things as I went. I added more red chilies, more mustard seeds, more sugar. I added in some asafetida and turmeric. What I liked best was the method, which was simpler, IMHO.

As it turned out, while quite hot, this pickle is not as screaming hot as the last one, and it had flavors I could actually taste. I love it!

Allam Pachadi

Makes about 14 ounces

ginger, tamarind, pickle, chutney, garlic, red chilies
Allam Pachadi

Small ball of "seedless" tamarind

Boiling water for soaking the tamarind, about 3/4 cup

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 1/2 tablespoons channa dal

1 tablespoon urad dal

1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1/4 teaspoon asafetida/hing

8 dried red Kashmiri chilies, broken

15 to 20 curry leaves, depending on size (mine were small)

2.5 ounces / 75 grams ginger root (about 4+ inches worth), peeled, in small chunks

4 cloves garlic, in small chunks

2 - 3 tablespoons jaggery or light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


1 tablespoon cooking oil

1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

4 - 6 curry leaves

2 whole dried red Kashmiri chilies

Soak the tamarind in boiling hot water for at least 20 minutes to soften.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and add in the channa and urad dal with the first half teaspoon mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Stir constantly until the dals just start to turn golden (not brown) and everything is fragrant. Add in the curry leaves, broken chilies (I did not use the seeds that fell out), the ginger and garlic. Cook this, stirring quickly until the garlic no longer smells raw, just a minute or two, then pour all the contents of the skillet into a blender container. Add in the turmeric powder and salt.

Separately, pass the softened tamarind through a sieve, pressing it through with the back of a spoon to get as much pulp as possible, using some of the soaking liquid to facilitate the process. Keep remaining soaking liquid aside. Add the tamarind pulp tot he blender, and blend the whole batch to a puree. You may need to add some of the reserved tamarind soaking liquid in order to puree the pickle. I had to use the better part of the entire 3/4 cup of liquid to blend the mixture down. 

Separately, heat the tablespoon of oil for tempering (meaning added flavors) and add in the mustard seeds, curry leaves and the two dried whole chilies and toast briefly. Pour this over top of the pickle when serving. Or, just stir it into the mixture. Store the pickle in a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate up to 3 weeks. 


Another thing I am working on for this dinner is dessert. I truly despise deep frying, so I am not making Gulab Jamun, and I do not want to make more paneer, as it has become nearly impossible, what with the ultra-pasteurization that has become so rampant, so I am not making Rasgulla, which now that I went to paste in a link, I realize I never posted my recipe! 

Milk, sweets, dessert, saffron
Rasgulla, recipe soon

At one of my Indian dinners I had made Gajar Burfi, a carrot fudge. This may sound strange, carrots in fudge, but after living in Guatemala as a young wife, and finding how many veggies went into desserts, I was no longer fazed when reading about carrots in fudge; it is absolutely delicious! So I thought I would return to that. But then again, I can never leave well enough alone, so I went looking at some Indian sweets recipes I had looked at before but never made. I opted then, to make an assortment of small batches of sweets, so we can all pick and choose. My first new recipe is called Badam Katli (Thin Almond Fudge). Since I used the recipe mostly as I found it, from Swasthi's Recipes, at, while I will post what I did here, please read her recipe, made the long way.

My one error was cooking the mixture just slightly too long, as it really dried out. Good, in a way, because it is certainly not sticky, but I could absolutely not get the nuts to stay adhered to the top. I used almonds, since it is almond fudge, instead of the pistachios used in Swasthi's recipe.

As most of these sweets are festival or holy day treats, they are often made truly special by gilding with edible silver or gold foil. I happened to have silver foil on hand, so I used it.

almond meal, sugar syrup, Indian sweets
Badam Katli / Thin Almond Fudge

My understanding of the word 'katli' is that it means thin, as with rolling out the fudge into a thin layer. The meanings of different words gets mightily confusing at times, and I have seen this recipe, nearly identical, called Badam Burfi or Badam Halwa.

Trying to tease out the meanings and differences, Wikipedia had some things to say that made sense. I know these will not apply in every instance, but in this case, I'm just going with it. Any 'Burfi" (sometimes "Barfi" but I prefer the other spelling for obvious reasons) type fudge candy is made using milk, whether Khoya, plain milk, condensed milk or powdered milk (and sometimes all of them). My Carrot Burfi recipe in its original form, would use khoya or a cooked down milk, which can take literally hours and hours of stirring. Not gonna happen! I used powdered milk and it came together in minutes. Yum!

Halwa, on the other hand does not use milk, but generally uses a sugar syrup to create the mixture, but without milk.

Similarly with any recipe for laddoo/laddu/ladoo, whether deep fried or made quick cooked or simply ingredients mixed together (similarly to Bourbon Balls at Christmas time), are always made into round balls. Laddoo made with cooked semolina is on my list of things to try for this upcoming dinner as well.

On to the recipe. Simple and delicious. I doubled the recipe as it stood on Swasthi's site, but I did not quite double the amount of sugar. They are delightful.

Badam Katli
Indian sweets, almond meal, sugar syrup
Badam Katli or Thin Almond Fudge

Made about 20 - 25 pieces

2 cups fine almond meal with no brown skins

1 cup + 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup water

Almond slices or pistachio pieces for decoration

In a medium skillet over high heat, place the sugar and water and bring to boil. Stir, and once the sugar is all dissolved, add in all the almond meal and cardamom. Lower heat and while mixing, it is best to take the skillet off the heat. Mix well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until all the almond meal is evenly distributed, with no lumps. Return the pan to the heat and keep it at a simmer, because the mixture, as it boils, sends up geysers akin to watching lava burst from a volcano and with similar effect. You WILL get burned! Stir, quickly and constantly, to keep this from occurring. It will take about 6 to 8 minutes of stirring before the mixture comes together as one mass. Pour out onto a greased plat until it cools slightly.

Do not cool too long or you will not be able to knead the mixture. Knead the mixture until it comes together smoothly (I used a silicone spatula to do this, lifting, turning and forming over and over until smooth - it was just too hot!)), then place the mixture onto a piece of parchment and roll with a rolling pin to flatten. Place sliced almonds or pistachio pieces on top and roll again to make the nuts set evenly with the top of the fudge, which should be no more than 1/4-inch thick. With a sharp knife, trim edges neatly, then cut into about 1-inch wide strips. Separate the strips and cut into small squares or into diamond shapes. Store in a tightly sealed container. 

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest