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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with sugar

01Oct 12

Kaju Burfi

Kaju BarfiKaju Burfi is a traditional Indian sweet made with cashew nuts. Perhaps because it is a bit expensive to produce, it is considered an exquisite gift. I love to give my friends and family home-made Kaju Burfi on Indian festivals. I have also been known to give it to my non-Indian friends for their birthdays.

One of the reasons Kaju Burfi is so dear is that it contains saffron. Each saffron flower has only three delicate red stigmas which have to be collected by hand, making this one of the most expensive spices in the world. But despite the high price, saffron is definitely worth springing for. It has a unique flavour that really has no substitute. As you know, I am always happy to suggest substitutions for the more exotic ingredients in some of my recipes. However, I just cannot think of any other spice that matches the flavour.

Saffron is what gives so many Indian sweets and desserts their exotic hint. The funny thing about this spice is that despite the fact that its delicate strands are red, it actually colours food yellow.

If you like this idea, have a whirl at my coconut burfi as well.

 

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Kaju Burfi
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
Kaju Burfi is a traditional Indian sweet made with cashew nuts.
Ingredients
  • 300g ground Cashew nuts
  • 200g Sugar
  • 600ml Milk
  • 200g Ghee
  • 1tsp Cardamom power
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 3 strands of Saffron
  • 50g grated Coconut
  • 10g chopped Pistachios
Instructions
  1. Soak the cashew nuts in water for 15 minutes.
  2. Blend the cashew nuts finely in a blender on high together with the sugar and the milk.
  3. Heat up the ghee in a large pan.
  4. Add the cardamom power, nutmeg, saffron and grated coconut. Let cook on a low flame for 1 minute, stirring.
  5. Add in the cashew mix from the blender.
  6. Lower the flame and stir. It should become quite thick.
  7. Keep stirring until it thickens to the point that it is all in the centre of the pan.
  8. Remove from heat and put in a greased dish.
  9. Spread it out flat with a spatula.
  10. Let it set for 20 minutes.
  11. Cut into squares or rectangles, garnish with chopped pistachios and serve.

 

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20Aug 12

Pineapple Shrikhand

Pineapple Shrikhand
Pineapple Shrikhand
is a refreshing Indian dessert that is perfect for hot summer days. Served cold, it is light and low-calorie. Like most Londoners, I will be closely following the Olympics this summer. And I will be snacking on this classic West Indian dessert while I do so!

Shrikhand is a bit like a yoghurt-based mousse. The yoghurt is traditionally sweetened with sugar and then spiced with saffron and cardamom. Many people also add nuts and fruits. I have experimented with all kinds of garnishes over the years, but my favourite is this Pineapple Shrikhand. However, feel free to replace the pineapple with any other fruit that takes your fancy, such as mango.

The trick to getting a nice, thick consistency for your Shrikhand is to drain the yoghurt first. Remember, it shouldn’t be a drink like a Lassi. It is more like a mousse.

Saffron is the spice that lends this dessert its exotic taste. I find its striking flavour and aroma to be absolutely enchanting. It is a very expensive spice, but if you spring for it once in a while, you will be glad you did.

If you like yoghurt -based desserts, try my low-fat mango and mint lassi recipe or this white chocolate mousse.

Pineapple Shrikhand
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Shrikhand is a bit like a yoghurt-based mousse dessert. The yoghurt is traditionally sweetened with sugar and then spiced with saffron and cardamom.
Ingredients
  • 600g Yoghurt
  • 250g Sugar
  • 8-10 strands of Saffron
  • 50g Milk
  • 100g chopped Pineapple
  • ½tsp Cardamom powder
  • ½tsp crushed Pistachios
  • ½tsp crushed Almonds
Instructions
  1. Put the yoghurt in a strainer or a muslin cloth, over a bowl. Let drain in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Afterwards, place the thick yoghurt in another bowl, add sugar and mix.
  3. Soak the strands of saffron in hot milk for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir the saffron into the yoghurt.
  5. Chop the pineapple into small chunks and stir them into the yoghurt.
  6. Stir in the cardamom powder.
  7. Crush the pistachios and almonds and stir them into the yoghurt.
  8. Let chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

 

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27Jul 12

Ras Malai

RasmalaiI am an absolutely incurable sweet tooth. I think I may have gotten that from my aunt, who is a total whiz at whipping up sugary treats.

One of my favourite desserts that she taught me how to make is Ras Malai. Ras Malai is a traditional Indian sweet made of tasty little pieces of cheese in a sugary syrup. I like to flavour it with cardamom or pistachios. As I have said before, Indian desserts often play with the wonderful combination of dairy foods and cardamom. To me, there is really just nothing like milk or cheese and cardamom together. It brings me back to my childhood in my aunt’s kitchen.

This rich dessert is always served cold, which makes it especially refreshing on a hot summer afternoon, which is when my aunt always used to serve it.

I strongly recommend you make this recipe with paneer cheese. This traditional Indian cheese will give your Ras Malai the authentic taste you are going for. You can probably find paneer cheese at an Indian speciality foods shop. If they do not stock it, you can always ask them to. However, some people prepare this dish with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. If you are unable to get paneer cheese, you can substitute with these two alternatives.

If you are looking to try out more Indian desserts, and you enjoyed this combination of dairy and cardamom, why not whip up this delicious Malai Kulfi dessert?

Ras Malai
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Ras Malai is a traditional Indian sweet made of tasty little pieces of cheese in a sugary syrup.
Ingredients
  • 1kg Paneer Cheese
  • 200g Sugar
  • 2L Half and Half
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Pinch of Saffron
  • 4 Cardamom Seeds
  • 1tsp.Vanilla Syrup
Instructions
  1. Mix the sugar and Paneer Cheese in a bowl.
  2. Put them in a flat baking pan and cover the pan with aluminium foil.
  3. Bake them in the oven for 1 hour at 200 degrees Celsius. The cheese should be a light golden brown colour.
  4. Simmer the half and half on a low heat in a pot. Simmer until it reduces to half the amount.
  5. When the half and half has reduced, slowly stir in the bay leaves, saffron, cardamom seeds, and vanilla syrup. Let simmer for a few more minutes.
  6. Remove the baked cheese and lay it on a flat plate. Cut it into 2cm by 2 cm pieces.
  7. Slowly stir these cheese squares into the pot with the half and half.
  8. Remove and let cool.

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13Jul 12

Coconut Burfi

Coconut BurfiIt is no secret around my house that I have a sweet tooth. I just love a sugary treat—for breakfast, for an afternoon snack, or for a mid-morning pick-me-up. To me, coconut is absolutely one of the tastiest ingredients in any dessert. (Try it in Grandma’s chocolate tiffin.)

I think I inherited this love of sweet coconut desserts from my mother. In fact, this is one of her favourites to prepare. For this recipe you can use fresh coconut, but it is sometimes hard to grate. I find that buying the coconut already grated from the market is much easier.

Sweet, flavourful and chewy, coconut burfi is one of my favourite sweets. The recipe is simple, the method is very easy, and the taste is absolutely heavenly. Can you tell I love it?

Burfi has a shelf life of about 10-15 days, so you can make it in advance and keep it ready to serve when needed. During the hot summer, you should probably only keep it for about a week because the heat will make it go bad sooner.

Just a quick warning—Coconut Burfi is very chewy, so people with retainers or braces on their teeth should not indulge.

 

Coconut Burfi
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
A fantastic coconut dessert
Ingredients
  • 500g Coconut, finely grated
  • 500g Sugar
  • 300ml Water
  • 2tbsp Milk
  • 20 Pistachios, whole or in slices
  • 4tbsp Ghee
  • Pinch of Cardamom Powder
Instructions
  1. Roast the 20 pistachios lightly in a pan with no oil. Remove them and set them aside.
  2. Heat up 1tbsp of ghee in a pan. Fry the finely grated coconut in this pan. Do not fry it for too long. You do not want it to turn brown.
  3. In a separate pot, boil the water.
  4. When it is boiling, slowly stir in the sugar. Keep stirring. The water with the sugar must come to the boil again.
  5. Now add in the milk and bring to the boil while stirring.
  6. Once it boils, lower to a medium flame and stir until it reaches a syrupy consistency.
  7. When it is syrupy, slowly pour it into the pan with the fried coconut.
  8. Keep stirring on a medium flame until it forms a thick paste.
  9. Grease a rectangular casserole dish with the rest of the ghee.
  10. Now remove it from the flame and spread it in this rectangular dish. Flatten the coconut mixture.
  11. With a knife, cut it into 20 small squares.
  12. Sprinkle a pinch of cardamom powder over the burfis.
  13. Put one pistachio on each square.
  14. Let cool. It is ready to serve!

 

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10Jul 12

Zesty Green Chutney

Zesty Green ChutneyGreen Chutney is perhaps the simplest chutney to make, and it is also the most versatile. The combination of  coriander, lemon juice and mint make this chutney extremely zesty. It goes very well with all kinds of samosas or even Viatnemese spring rolls. Samosas and Bondas are finger foods, which is why this Green Chutney makes the perfect dip. Since it is so flavourful, you could also pour it over something a bit more subtle such as cottage cheese, as you see in the photo.

Not everyone makes Green Chutney with mint. However, I find mint to be very refreshing, and it balances the spicier ingredients perfectly.

I have a friend who once tried this with dried mint herbs she bought at the supermarket, but she told me it just was not the same. When mint dries, it loses its zesty flavour, and that really takes away a lot from the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 500g fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 250g fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilli peppers
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2tsp ginger powder
  • 20g grated coconut
  • 1/2tsp sugar
  • 5tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Preparation Method:

  1. Thoroughly wash the coriander and mince it as finely as you possibly can. Put it into the liquidiser or food processor.
  2. Clean the fresh mint and mince it. Add it to the liquidiser or food processor. Do not blend these ingredients yet.
  3. Take the 2 green chilli peppers and cloves of garlic and chop them as finely as possible. Add them to the blender.
  4. Add the ginger powder, grated coconut and sugar to the blender. These sweet ingredients will balance the spicier ones (such as the green chilli peppers and the garlic).
  5. Blend these ingredients thoroughly.
  6. Now add in the lemon juice and blend a bit more.
  7. Finally add a bit of salt to taste. Do not add too much, as this is overall a sweet and refreshing chutney. However, a bit of salt makes all flavours more intense, even sweet ones. So add just a pinch to bring out the flavours.

Makes: Enough for 20 servings

Takes: 30 minutes

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01Jun 12

Tasty Rava Ladoo

Rava LadooI absolutely love this Rava Ladoo recipe. Rava Ladoo is a tasty dessert that is easy to make. Ladoos are small ball-shaped treats made with plenty of sugar and other spices such as cardamom, a typical spice that we Indians love to add to dessert (try these Pistachio and Cardamom Bicuits).  Ladoos are excellent for parties because they are a nice, small snackable size. This is why in India they are served during holidays and festivals. Once made, ladoos can be stored and last up to a week, so you can prepare this dessert well ahead of any party you’re planning on throwing. That way you don’t have to leave them until the last minute.

Ingredients:

  • 150ml unsalted butter
  • 80g raisins
  • 400g semolina
  • 400g sugar
  • ½  teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 25g cashews and pistachios, crushed
  • 400ml whole milk

Preparation Method:

  1. Crush the cashews and pistachios and set them aside. The mixture should have the same amount of cashews as pistachios.
  2. In a large frying pan, sauté the raisins in the butter. Stir them slowly so they are all evenly cooked. This should make the raisins nice and plump.
  3. Take the raisins out of the butter. Drain them well so that they are not greasy. Set them aside.
  4. Using the same butter, add the semolina. Stir it constantly for 3-4 minutes so that it is evenly cooked.
  5. Add the sugar and continue stirring slowly.
  6. Add in the cashew and pistachio mixture, cardamom powder and the raisins and keep stirring.
  7. Slowly stir in the whole milk.  Stir until the milk is fully absorbed.
  8. Once the milk has been fully absorbed, take the frying pan off the stove and let everything cool down for 5 minutes.
  9. Now you are ready to make it into little lime-sized balls. Don’t wait until it gets too cold, because then it will not hold the shape. But since it is still very hot, I recommend using an ice cream scooper to form the balls.
  10. Leave them on a slightly greased platter. They should be separate so that they don’t stick together.
  11. Let them cool down for at least an hour before serving.

Makes: 35-40 ladoos

Takes: 30 minutes

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14May 12

Sweet Gulab Jamoon

Sweet Gulab JamoonGulab Jamoon is a delicious Indian dessert. It consists of deep fried balls of dough, called jamoons, in a sugary syrup. Gulab Jamoon was served at all my cousins’ weddings. In fact, it is one of the most typical desserts served at traditional Indian weddings, and one of my very favourites of all sweets.

These days, gulab jamoon powder is internationally available, so it’s not difficult to find and pepare; however,  it takes a little more time compared to other desserts as it sometimes requires being dipped in sugar syrup for whole night. The texture resembles the liqueur syrup-saturated French cake Baba au Rhum.

They also remind me a bit of doughnuts. Speaking of, did you know that May 12th through May 19th is national doughnut week? Maybe you should try this recipe to celebrate!

The term gulab jamoon comes from Persia, and it means “rose water”, referring to its rosewater-scented syrup. This very tasty dessert is often eaten at important celebrations, like weddings, but also commonly enjoyed at Diwali (the Indian festival of light) and the Muslim celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

There are lots of varieties when it comes to gulab jamoon, and each one has its one appearance and special taste. You can eat them cold, but our favourite way to enjoy gulab jamoon is to warm them a bit before serving. It adds another dimension to the dish;  it’s perfect for special occasions when you want something more exotic than cake.

I got this recipe from my aunt, who really knows how to make tasty sweets.

Sweet Gulab Jamoon
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Gulab Jamoon is a delicious Indian dessert.
Ingredients
  • 250ml Water
  • 250g Sugar
  • 500ml Khoya
  • 125g Flour
  • ¼tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 pinch of Saffron, crushed
  • ½tsp. Cardamom Powder
  • 125ml Milk
  • 900ml Vegetable Oil for deep frying
Instructions
  1. To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a large pot and let simmer while you are preparing the jamoons.
  2. To make the balls of dough, start by crumbling the khoya into a large bowl.
  3. Add in the flour and baking soda. Mix these ingredients together.
  4. Sprinkle in the pinch of crushed saffron and cardamom powder.
  5. Knead these ingredients to form dough. Slowly add in the milk as you are kneading. Only use as much milk as you need to make the dough soft. You might not need as much as 125ml.
  6. Take a small bit of dough in your hands and roll it into a perfectly round little ball. There should be enough to make 30 balls.
  7. Put these balls on a plate and cover them with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Let them sit for up to 10 minutes.
  8. Heat up the vegetable oil until it is very hot. (You may substitute ghee for vegetable oil). Then lower to the lowest flame.
  9. Slowly drop in the balls of dough. Be careful not to burn yourself. These balls will rise to the top of the oil. Let them fry until they are light brown.
  10. Remove the balls from the hot oil and leave them aside on a paper towel. Let the oil drain off them.
  11. Now add them to the syrup, which should be still simmering in the pot. Cover the pot and let simmer for 1 hour, then turn off the flame. My aunt then lets them soak in the syrup overnight. If you have time for this, it will give the balls a much sweeter flavour.
  12. Serve in a dish with plenty of syrup and perhaps a bit of icing sugar!

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20Apr 12

Pear and Mango Chutney

Pear and Mango Chutney is a very sweet, mild chutney that goes well with my Bhaturas or vegetable samosas. Spread it on the Bhaturas, which are puffy fried breads, for a delicious afternoon snack, or a sugary breakfast.

You could also try this sweet chutney spread over a meat or fish dish. Try it over these chicken and pear burgers, since they already have a hint of pear flavour inside the burger. My chutney would be the perfect complement.

Like most chutneys, you can store this one in Tupperware or a glass container, and it will be fine for at least a month.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large raw Mango
  • 3 medium Pears
  • 450g Sugar
  • 10 almonds, finely chopped
  • 10 cashews, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp. raisins, mashed
  • 5 cloves, ground
  • 2tsp. Cinnamon Powder
  • 4tsp vegetable oil
  • 400ml water
  • 1tsp. salt

 

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the large mango and the pears. It will be no problem if you use a normal peeler to do this.
  2. Chop both the mango and pears very finely and put them both into one bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil on a medium flame in a pot or a deep pan.
  4. Lower the flame and add just 2 tablespoons of sugar to the oil. Slowly stir the sugar, until it turns light brown.
  5. Now add the water.
  6. Raise the heat to high and bring the water to the boil.
  7. After 3 minutes of boiling, add in the rest of the sugar and allow it to come to the boil again.
  8. Chop the cashews and almonds very finely. Add them to the pot and stir.
  9. With a fork, mash the raisins in a separate bowl.
  10. Place the raisins to the pot and stir.
  11. Grind the 5 cloves in a mortar with a pestle. Now add them to the pot and mix slowly.
  12. Add the cinnamon to the pot and stir.
  13. Add a pinch of salt. I know this is a sweet chutney, but salt actually brings out the favour of sweet foods. Add just a pinch, and you will see that the flavours will become more intense.
  14. Now add the mango and pear.
  15. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Let simmer for about an hour.
  16. Remove from the pot and let cool.

Makes: 2kg of Pear and Mango Chutney
Takes: 2 hours

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16Apr 12

Indian Lassi with cardamom and pistachios

Indian LassiAn Indian lassi with cardamom and pistachios is a lovely yoghurt drink to have during a hot meal or afterwards as a dessert. It is a variant of a fruit smoothie such as this strawberry and blueberry smoothie.

A lassi is made using yoghurt, water, spices and mango or other fruits. It is especially good with hot food like the Indian cuisine because the proteins in the yoghurt protect the inside of the mouth from hot chili and other spices.

Lassis are full of good stuff and are believed to promote digestion and prevent bloating. I remember the first time I tried a mango lassi as a healthy dessert. I was a student, and my Mum made it for my friends and I as an after-school snack. It was so delicious, that it took my breath away. Needless to say, from then on I was even more excited to arrive home after a long day of hitting the books.

Had I not been taught to eat (and drink) in moderation, I could easily have drunk 3 glasses of the stuff! My Mum, knowing my appetite for this drink, wisely chose to make it every now and then, but not too often. It was always a special treat when she made this snack.

When I moved out on my own, I learned that this Indian smoothie is easy-peasy to make yourself at home. It couldn’t be simpler! If you have a blender, put away the fizzy drinks and try this healthy one instead. I´m positive it will become your new summer favourite.

Ingredients:

• 2 tall glasses (preferably ice-cream glasses)
• 200ml of plain yoghurt
• 100ml of full-fat milk
• 200g of chopped mango
• 6 teaspoons of sugar
• 2 pinches of cardamom
• 100g of ice (optional)
• 1 pinch of salt to enhance the flavor of the mango.
• 2 tablespoons of ground pistachios

Preparation method:

1. Peel and remove pit from mangos. Chop into chunks and place in blender.
2. Add the yoghurt, milk, sugar, spices and ice.
3. Blend for 2 minutes until smooth.
4. Pour into tall glasses.
5. Sprinkle the ground pistachios over the drinks.
6. Serve immediately with a straw.

Makes: 3-4 portions
Takes: 10 minutes
Level: very easy

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09Apr 12

Carrot Halwa

Carrot Halwa is a delicious dessert. My grandmother used to make it for me, and I remember how she was able to get the rich mixture of carrots, nuts and milk just right. It is rich and heavy. But just a warning, this tasty Indian sweet is quite fattening.

It can be made with regular butter, but I prefer to make it with my Fragrant Ghee. Ghee just makes the taste that much more intense.

Many people garnish it with nuts and raisins as well. I suggest that if you do that, you do so sparingly as you do not want the taste to overpower this dessert. Just sprinkle a few nuts and raisins over it before you serve.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg carrots
  • 160g cashews, ground
  • 1tsp cardamom
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 litres milk
  • 800g sugar
  • 4tbsp ghee

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the carrots.
  2. Grate the carrots and leave them in a small bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat just 3 tablespoons of ghee in a deep pan on high heat.
  4. Crush the cashews. You can do this with a mortar and pestle, or you can just put the cashews in a ziplock bag and pound on them with the bottom of a pot.
  5. Lower the heat and put the crushed cashews into the pan and lightly roast them. They should turn light golden brown.
  6. Remove the cashews and set them aside.
  7. Add another tablespoon of ghee.
  8. Add the grated carrots and stir slowly.
  9. Sprinkle in the cardamom and saffron and stir for 3 minutes.
  10. Now pour in the milk. You can use skim milk to make the Carrot Halwa less fattening.
  11. Raise the heat and bring the milk to the boil.
  12. Once it has boiled, lower the flame and stir slowly.
  13. Cover the pot and lower the flame a bit more. Leave this to simmer for about 1 hour. Do not forget to check on it every so often and stir. After some time simmering, the ghee will start to ooze out, and it will become nice and thick.
  14. Finally add the sugar and stir well.
  15. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  16. It is now ready to serve.

 

Makes: 1 large Carrot Halwa
Takes: 2 hours

Note: Although it isn’t an Indian dish, I also recommend this carrot cake recipe. What better way to eat your veggies than adding them to a dessert?

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