Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Persian Love Cookies





Persian sweets and desserts are so visually appealing as well as delicious in taste that I could not help devouring these Pistachio Rose Persian Love Cookies as soon as they were done. I have long been eyeing these cookies on this blog: and at last gathered all the ingredients to make them.

So attractive to behold, soft, chewy and delicious in taste with the fragrance of rose petals that fills your senses as you bite into them. And with the first bite you begin to wonder if you have already fallen head over heals in love with them.  You cannot stop craving for more....... No wonder they are called Love Cookies!!

I followed the recipe almost exactly except for the fact that I didn't have enough almonds that day so combined it with pistachios and the taste was divine. Next time I make them I want to try without almonds and use only pistachios.

Also I did not have pomegranate juice so substituted with berry juice which was sweet and tangy like the pomegranate flavour.


Recipe adapted from heneedsfood.com

Ingredients: 
100 gm Almond meal
50 gm Pistachios ground
110 gm Icing Sugar sifted
80 gm Pistachios finely sliced
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Green Cardamoms ground
1/3 Cup Dried Rose Petals
1 Egg White
1 Tsp Rose Water


Icing 
1 Tbs Berry Juice (blue berry and raspberry)
6 Tbs Icing sugar































    Method:

    1. Preheat oven to 335 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

    2. Grind the almonds and pistachios separately and mix together. Add the sifted icing sugar, nutmeg, green cardamom powder, rose petals and mix well.

    3. Blanch the 80 gm pistachios (soak them in warm water and remove their skins) and slice them.

    4. Now add the egg white and rose water to the dry ingredients (step 2) till the mixture comes together.























    5. Shape into balls and roll them in the pistachio slices, place them on the lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and leave them to cool on a wire wrack.























    6. Mix together the icing sugar with the berry juice until you get a smooth flowy texture. When the cookies are completely cooled, drizzle the icing on top in a zig zag motion with a fork.

    7. Once the icing is completely set, decorate them with rose petals and dust lightly with icing sugar before serving. Enjoy!

    Friday, April 7, 2017

    Baked Spring Rolls


    I have always fried spring rolls and have not tried baking them until today. I don't know why I always felt they would not be crispy enough. But this time they were as good as fried ones and my husband could not tell that they were baked  until I told him which kind of left him confused. They were not only crisp and crunchy but also not oily. I smeared them with olive oil and they turned out great. I can eat them without feeling guilty as they are healthy.   


    Ingredients: For 12 Spring Rolls

    24 Spring Roll Wrappers
    1/2 Cup Shredded Chicken (1/2 Chicken breast)
    1/2 Tsp Garlic paste
    2 Cups Japanese style flat white Cabbage (finely grated)
    1/4 Cup Carrot (thinly grated) 
    2 Tbs finely chopped spring onions
    1 Boiled egg
    1/4 Tsp Black Pepper 
    1/2 Tsp Hoisin Sauce
    2 or 3 drops of Sesame oil
    2 Tbs Olive oil
    Flour and water paste
    Sea Salt as required

    Method:

    1. Steam the chicken breast in a covered pot with a little water, garlic paste, salt and pepper till completely cooked. Remove and let it cool.

    2. Grate the cabbage finely or slice thinly with a sharp knife to get long shreds. Add one tsp salt to the cabbage and mix it well by rubbing it with the salt with your fingers till the salt is dissolved and the cabbage starts oozing out water. Drain the water and repeat working with your fingers this time without the salt. Drain well again. Then wipe the shredded cabbage with paper towels till dry. Set aside.

    3. Grate the carrot or make thin juliennes from thinly sliced carrots. Finely chop the spring onions.

    4. Grate a hard boiled egg. Shred the steamed chicken with a fork and knife. 

    5. Mix together the carrot, cabbage, spring onions, egg and chicken. Sprinkle some salt and black pepper as per taste, then 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce and 2 or 3 drops of sesame oil.

    6. Place a portion of the filling in the near corner of the spring roll wrapper and apply the flour and water paste to the far corner away from you. You can also use egg white to seal instead of flour paste. Roll over neatly while tucking the near corner under the filling. When you roll to the centre of the square fold in both the sides then roll again tightly till the end (I used 2 wrappers for each roll coz my filling was a bit moist and I didn't want them to get soggy). For exact instructions please watch this video.

    7. Brush the spring rolls with olive oil and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 

    8. Bake in an oven preheated at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30- 35 mins. The timing may differ with other ovens. When you are half way through baking turn them over and then bake till golden or evenly browned. Enjoy with sauces of your choice. 

    Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    Dum Ka Rote Halwa (Baked Semolina Pudding)































    This is a very popular halwa in Chennai, India well known for its name "Dum Ka Rote". To make this halwa the mixture is first cooked on flame then baked in the oven on low. In olden days they baked on charcoal ovens with burning charcoals on the top and bottom of the baking dish. But they controlled the heat, by keeping it on low. It was baked on low heat for a long time till it became crusty at the top and bottom. The crust is a delicacy and we as kids used to fight for it as it was the best part of the halwa. This halwa is what you would die for as it is so insanely delicious!!

    Basha's Halwa in Chennai is world famous (as he says in this video) and whosoever has tasted it once keeps craving for more. I am dedicating this recipe to one of my readers who was badly craving for it and requested me for its recipe. The recipe for Dum ka rote has been rotating in our family for many years and it is the closest to Basha's halwa I can say. Basha uses only melon seeds as garnish. I could not get melon seeds in the stores here, so had to use some which I managed to save after eating a melon,  therefore, I have used them sparingly. Here is the recipe:

    Ingredients:
    1/2 Cup Semolina (coarse)
    1 Cup / 225gm Unsweetened Khoya
    1 1/2 Cups / 325gm Sugar
    1 1/2 Cup Ghee + 1 tbs
    1 Cup / 115gm Almonds (for paste)
     Almonds and Cashews (chopped for garnish)
    2 Tbs melon seeds for garnish
    1/8th Tsp Saffron
    1 Cup half and half / Whole Milk
    1/4 Cup Whole Milk (for grinding almonds to a paste and for soaking saffron threads)













    Method:
    1. Soak semolina in 1 cup half and half or whole milk till it gets soaked well for 10 minutes.

    2 Cut the Unsweetened Khoya (Nanak Khoya or Bapu ka Khoya) into small pieces and blend them in a food processor till reduced to powder.

    3. Grind the almonds separately in a grinder first to a fine powder then add a little milk and grind to a fine paste with no lumps.

    4. Mix together the sugar, ghee and the ground almonds with the khoya powder in the food processor and pulse till everything gets blended well. Transfer to a bowl.

    5. Now add the soaked semolina and whisk everything with a hand whisk to a smooth thick batter.

    6. Crush the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle, add some warm milk to it then add this saffron milk to the halwa mixture and mix well.

    7. Transfer this mixture to a heavy bottomed sauce pan and on medium heat keep stirring till it comes to a boil and then starts slowly thickening. Do not stop stirring at this stage as it could get burnt at the bottom quickly. Finally when it starts leaving the sides, remove from the stove.













































    8. Grease a baking dish with ghee and pour the thickened halwa into it. Sprinkle the slivered almonds and melon seeds then drizzle the remaining ghee on top and place it in the centre of the oven preheated at 325 degrees fahrenheit.























    9. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the top and the bottom layers start browning and the sweet scented aroma of saffron is filling the air. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature.







    10. The above picture was taken when I made the halwa again for a picnic. This time luckily I found the melon seeds at the Sri Lankan store. 



















    11. As you see in the above picture all the nuts ( I used chopped cashews and almonds) and melon seeds are gathered in the center. This is because this time I changed the baking technique a bit. I used the convection bake (temp: 350 degrees fahrenheit) instead of the regular bake and as it baked all the nuts and seeds came from the sides to the center. Also it got crispier on the sides and center more compared to the previous halwa which got evenly crisp all over. I prefer the convection method of baking for this halwa as it had a beautiful crust and a crispy center just like the basha halwa. And it tasted delicious!

    12. You can decorate the halwa with silver paper and serve it to your guests for dessert. 








    Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Broiled Golden Pomfret with Chaat Masala

    The golden pomfret (pompano)  is a soft mild flavoured fleshy fish with a buttery flavour and no fishy or gamy smell. When fresh it tastes very delicious. You can use any kind of spicy or herb flavoured marinade on it and it works very well. This time I used chaat masala along with the other spices and it was just so delicious! My husband who is always quite reluctant when it comes to eating fish, actually enjoyed eating it.


    Ingredients:
    1 Golden Pomfret fish (around 1.25lbs)
     Juice of half a lemon
    1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
    1 Tsp Kashmiri red chilly Powder  
    1 Tsp MDH Chaat Masala 
    1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper 
    1 Tsp ginger garlic paste
    1 Tbs Olive oil 
    Salt to taste

    Method: 
    1 Clean the fish by scraping the skin and cut into two filets with out removing the skin. You could ask the fish vendor to clean and make filets for you. 

    2. Sprinkle salt and lemon juice on the fish filets and rub them well. 


    3. Mix together the black pepper, turmeric, red chilly powder and chaat masala with the ginger garlic paste and smear this marinade on the fish filets well. Leave to rest for half an hour. 

    4. Heat a cast iron frying pan, brush it with 1 or 2 tsp of olive oil and place the fish on the pan skin side down. Let the fish get fried on the bottom  well. 


    5.  Switch off the stove, drizzle the remaining olive oil on top of the fish and then place the frying pan with the fish on the top rack of the pre heated oven.

    6.  Broil the fish on high for 5 - 6 minutes till the fish is browned all over. Switch off the oven. Tranfer to a serving plate and enjoy the crispy delicious mouth watering fish. 


    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Zafrani Halwa Pies


    I grew up eating these baked pies filled with almond, channa dal paste flavoured with saffron. It was always accompanied with rice kheer (porridge) which went so well with these pies. I have been craving for these for a long time and wanted to bake them like my mom but smaller in size. At last I tried them out to satisfy my craving. They turned out better than I had imagined. My mom used to make the pie crust with ghee (clarified butter) but I wanted something light and healthy so I followed a different recipe for the pie crust which was light, flaky and good.  For the halwa I followed my mom's recipe

    For the pie dough I followed this recipe from Simple Bites.  I cut down the recipe by half and the halwa I made following the recipe below was just enough to use up all the dough. 

    For the Halwa:

    Ingredients: 
    1/4 cup Channa dal
    1/4 cup Almonds (peeled)
    1/2 cup Sugar
    2 tbs Ghee
    Saffron a pinch

























    Method: 

    1. Soak the channa dal for 30 minutes after rinsing in water 3 or 4 times till the water is clear. Soak the almonds in warm water or microwave them with a little water for 30 seconds. The peels will easily come off.

    2. Boil the channa dal till it gets cooked, let it cool, then grind it to a smooth paste. Grind the almonds separately to a fine paste.

    3. Take a sauce pan and on medium heat add one or two cloves and 2 green cardamoms then add the ground dal and almond paste.

    4. Add the sugar and keep stirring till it thickens then dd the saffron dissolved in warm milk. Stir till the milk gets absorbed and the halwa starts leaving the sides of the pan. Remove and set aside to cool.
























    5. Take the refrigerated pie dough and start rolling it into a fairly thick circle on a pastry board dusted with flour. Cut round shapes with a cookie cutter or a steel tumbler with a sharp rim.

























    6. Place some halwa in each of them, brush the edge lightly with water or egg white and close it in the shape of a half moon or turnover.

























    7. Press the edges with a fork to seal them then brush them with saffron water (soak a few threads of saffron in a tsp of water) to give them a coloured decorative edge.

    8. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 25 - 30 minutes. When they turn lightly golden at the bottom they are done. Remove and cool on a wire wrack and enjoy with Rice Kheer.



    Rice Kheer (Porridge)



























    Ingredients:

    1 1/2 Litres Whole Milk
    1/4 Cup Basumathi Rice
    3/4 - 1 Cup White Sugar
    15 Almonds for garnish
    4 - 5 Drops Rose Essence
    1 Tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
    2 Green Cardamoms


    Method: 

    1. Boil milk and leave on simmer to thicken for 10 minutes till it reduces a bit.  Wash the basumathi rice 3 or 4 times till the water runs out clear and leave it to soak in water for 15 minutes.

    2. In another pot on medium heat add ghee. Crack the cardamoms a bit to release the flavour then add to the pot followed by the soaked basumathi rice.

    3. Sauté the basumathi rice in the ghee till it dries up a bit, then add 3 - 4 cups of water and let it cook till it becomes mushy on low medium heat. Keep an eye on it so it does not burn after all the water gets absorbed.

    4. Add sugar and the reduced whole milk, cook for some more time on simmer while stirring continuously. When it is of porridge consistency remove and leave it to cool.

    5. Meanwhile microwave almonds soaked in water for 40 seconds on high. When cool peel, cut into thin slivers and set aside for garnish.

    6. Add 4 to 5 drops of rose essence to the kheer, mix well, transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with almonds, chill in the fridge and serve. Chilled Kheer tastes better. Enjoy as it is for dessert or with Halwa pies.



    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    Croissant Buns with Harissa Olive filling

    These Croissant buns are just divine! Their soft flaky texture, their sweet savoury taste, the distinct flavour of the black seed and as you dig your teeth into them there's more bursting flavour from the tuna harissa and green olive filling - everything together is just so yummiliciously tantalizing that you cannot stop with one bite............





























    Ingredients:
    3 Cups All Purpose flour
    1/2 Cup Butter
    1X250ml Sour Cream
    1Tsp Baking Powder
    1 Tsp Salt
    3 Tbs Sugar
    1 Egg
    1 Egg White for glaze

    Filling:
    1 Tuna Can
    1/2 Cup Green Olives (sliced)
    1-2 Tsp Harissa Paste
    3 Tbs Olive Oil
    Salt and Pepper as required

    Method:
    1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together salt, pepper and baking powder with the all purpose flour to aerate it.

    2. Cut Chilled butter into cubes. Pulse the flour mixture with the butter in a food processor till it becomes crumbly.

    3. Mix together the egg and the sour cream and then add it to the crumbly mixture in the food processor. Pulse a few times till it comes together and forms a soft dough.

    4. Remove, divide into two parts, place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for 15 mins.























    5. Meanwhile empty the tuna can into a bowl. Drain and squeeze out the water as much as possible. Add salt, pepper and 1 tbs olive oil. Flake with a fork to mix everything well. Add the Harissa paste drizzle the remaining 2 tbs olive oil, then flake again. Keep aside.























    6. Take one part of the dough and roll into a ball, then on a pastry board dusted with flour flatten it with a rolling pin into a circle 12 inches in diameter.  Cut the circle into 8 equal triangles. Divide the filling into 16 portions, place one portion on each of the triangles at the base as in the picture above.























    7. Take two corners of the triangle base and join them together as in the picture above. Then fold the base and roll it over while tucking the filling inside. Roll neatly again till the tip of the triangle like a croissant.























    8.  Glaze with egg wash, sprinkle black seeds on top then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes till golden.

    9. Remove from the oven, let them cool on a wire rack for half an hour till they are warm enough to bite into them.

    10. Enjoy these yummy stuffed croissant buns with a cup of hot tea.