Festivals are all about celebrating the day in the right spirit. It was Tamil New Year a few days back and I dished out some festival preparations. Food preparations during festival times generally involves a combination of savoury and sweet items. This time I decided to take the kheer route for the sweet preparation. Kheer is basically a pudding with milk and sugar. You can choose different base ingredients to blend with those flavours. My choice – Carrots! They bring vibrant colour and flavour to desserts. The carrot kheer turned out to be delicious. It tastes great hot or chilled. I did not get time to take a picture of the entire process so I am posting a combined picture of all the preparations. In the pic from (L to R clockwise): Curd rice with seasoning, Lemon rice, Carrot Payasam/Kheer, Raw Mango Pachadi
Recipe Details :
Makes: 2 bowls
Time: 30 mins
- 4 carrots, chopped into cubes
- 1.5 cups milk
- 7-8 cashews, halved
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 5 tbsp sugar (I used brown sugar)
- 2 cardamom pieces, powdered
- 4-5 saffron threads (optional)
Carrot kheer (Bottom right in the pic)
- Cook the carrots in enough milk to cover them on low-medium flame. By that I mean just ensure that the carrots are submerged. Stir from time to time. To test for doneness, remove a piece of carrot and cut it with a spoon. If it is sufficiently soft, switch off the flame and set aside the carrots to cool.
- After 20 mins, blend the cooked carrots and the cooking milk into a very fine paste.
- Heat the ghee in a small pan and add the cashews. Toast the cashews in the ghee till they are golden brown. Keep the cashews aside.
- Now add the carrot paste and saffron threads to the pan in which the remaining ghee is present and mix it well for around 10 mins.
- Now add half a cup of water and the sugar into the paste. Stir the sugar in the paste till it is fully dissolved. Now switch off the flame.
- Check the consistency at this stage. If it too thick, add a little more milk according to your liking.
- Finally add the roasted cashews and cardamom powder on the top. Refrigerate it before serving and you are set for some delicious kheer.
- Do not roast the cashews on high flame as they burn.
- While blending, ensure that it is an extremely smooth paste.
- If your carrots are inherently very sweet, adjust sugar levels accordingly.
Some of my friends were coming home for dinner and I wanted to make something quick and easy to serve as dessert. I decided to go for a barfi (which is a confectionery made primarily in the Indian subcontinent). The major advantage is that it can be made in large batches and freezes brilliantly for later storage. This time groundnuts caught my attention since I was going for something inspired by the traditional ‘chikki’. I was extremely pleased by how this barfi turned out.
Recipe for Groundnut and Dry fruit Burfi/ Peanut and Dry fruit Barfi
Makes : 22-25 pieces
- 300 gms groundnuts, roasted and finely crushed
- 200 gms sugar
- 10 saffron threads
- 1.2 cups water
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1/2 cup dry fruits (I put a mixture of cashews, walnuts, almonds and raisins)
Peanut and dry fruit barfi
- Roast the peanuts on a medium flame, stirring constantly for around 10-15 mins and switch off the flame. Once the peanuts cool down, remove and discard the skin. Crush the peanuts into fine powder using a mixer.
- Crush all the mentioned dry fruits into a fine powder using the mixer and keep aside.
- Now in a flat pan, heat the sugar and water till the sugar completely dissolves. Keep the flame low and stir continuously till no sugar granules are observed. At this stage, check the string consistency of the liquid. You want a two string consistency.
- Add saffron threads and stir the liquid for around one minute.
- Now add the finely crushed peanuts to this syrup and mix well for two minutes. Keep the flame low.
- Switch off the flame and add the ghee followed by the powdered dry fruits. Stir well to make a smooth mixture.
- Grease a flat tray with ghee on the base, the side, and the rims. Spread the barfi mixture evenly on the greased tray and press down to form an even and compact layer. Let it cool and get firm for 6 hours. Once firm, cut it into small diamond pieces using a knife and scoop it out from the tray using a spatula.
- Do not let the peanuts burn. The dessert will carry a bitter, sooty taste. Keep the flame at medium and stir the peanuts often.
- I used brown sugar for making this barfi. If you use white sugar, reduce the quantity of sugar a bit since the latter is sweeter.
- If you add more raisins, reduce the amount of sugar.
- The size of the tray is critical in order to get a barfi of decent depth. Choose a smaller sized tray than the one shown in the picture for the quantity of peanuts mentioned.
- If the barfi crumbles after 6 hours while cutting, do not worry. Just apply some ghee on your palms and roll the barfi mixture into round shape and convert them to laddoos. They taste equally delicious.
Festivals are a time to celebrate and the best excuse for making sweets & snacks. The festive season also takes you back to your childhood and the traditional savories mom used to – and hopefully, still makes. So I decided to make one of my favorite sweet munchies to connect back to that time. This dish is ideal for distribution during festivals and quite a hit with kids too.
Recipe for Coconut and Jaggery Laddoos / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu
Makes : 12-15 pieces
- 1 cup grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
- 3/4 cup jaggery
- A pinch of cardamom powder (equivalent to 3-4 cardamom pods)
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 cup water
Coconut and jaggery laddoo / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu
- Heat the water in a pan and add the solid pieces of jaggery. Mix well and stir continuously till the jaggery dissolves completely. Occasionally, some lumps or fine impurities may remain – so filter it after switching off the flame.
- Clean the pan and transfer the filtered jaggery syrup back to the pan and heat it on a low flame. The syrup will start bubbling and turn aromatic. At this stage, check for the string consistency of the liquid. (This is that stage when the syrup can’t dissolve in water. It can be tested by taking few drops of syrup onto a spoon of water)
- Add cardamom powder and grated coconut in the syrup. Stir well and keep monitoring till the coconut slowly absorbs all the syrup and becomes thick. Check the consistency by making a small ball. If you are able to roll it, switch of the flame and let it cool slightly.
- The trick is to roll the laddoos when they are warm. Grease your palms with a little ghee and roll them. If the mixture cools down, you will not be able to roll them.
- If you are using freshly grated coconut, do not use the coconut shavings very near to the shell.
- The colour of jaggery syrup is critical. If you overheat it, the laddoos might turn dark brown , hard and difficult to chew. I like the golden brown colour shown in the pic.
- Jaggery can be of any type. If its fine, it becomes easier to dissolve.
- If you are making large numbers, please make it in batches because the whole mixture will dry fast.
- This has to be stored in a dry container and refrigerated for further use. It is advisable to consume within 4-5 days upon refrigeration.