Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jackfruit Halwa

More than two years into proper cooking and still I hadn’t tried out any sweet. Except for often making my favorite semiya payasa and jamoon using ready mix; and also being an assistant in making some other complex sweets. With the sweet tooth or teeth that I have, I started wondering why I hadn’t yet experimented with any sweet myself. May be because the folks at home do not like sweets as much as I do, or are not supposed to eat them. But how do I resist my temptation for a sweet....

One day at lunch table, while having nice and ripe jackfruit, V suggested a recipe of halwa out of jackfruit! ‘It’ll be heavenly’, was how she described her dish. I was initially apprehensive to try ANYTHING out of this wonderful fruit - because I simply love eating it and eating it as it is! Anyway, the recipe had been noted in my mind.

Coincidently, the same evening, there were guests at home for dinner, and I had to make some sweet for the dinner. So I just ventured out to try this newly learnt sweet, and it did take longer than I had expected. But I sure was worth the time spent, as it came out pretty nice. And the guests openly appreciated my halwa, and honored it by helping themselves with serving after serving, till the bowl was cleaned out! Even Dee who refuses any sweet did have it and compliment on it!

Now I make sure that I prepare this halwa every time we get home a jackfruit. I take out and save up a portion of the fruit for halwa before we start attacking the fruit from all directions to have our shares of the fruit.
Jackfruit Halwa

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 25-30 min
Serves : 4-5

Jackfruit deseeded - 2 cups
Sugar - ¾ - 1 cup
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cashew nuts - 12-15

• Chop jackfruit into 1” pieces
• Grind it into a paste in a mixie / food processor, without adding any extra water
• In a thick bottomed pan, heat 2 tsp oil and fry the cashew nuts till golden brown, take out from ghee and keep aside till needed
• Pour the remaining ghee into the pan and add the ground jackfruit paste
• Mix in sugar and stir continuously for 15 minutes on low to medium flame
• The ghee starts to separate out from the halwa when it is done
• Switch off the flame and pour out the extra ghee separated out
• Decorate with the fried cashews, serve hot or cold

• Sugar can be substituted with jaggery
• Mashed banana can also be added

Sunday, August 9, 2009

White Beans Masala - Cooking good things is so easy!

Who says cooking is difficult? Of course there was one time when I too used to think cooking is a fractious job. I would dread at the thought of cooking alone when mom was ill or away, in high-school or college days. I would occasionally cook well too, but that would have taken an epoch. I would take hours to chop vegetables get things ready and check and re-check the recipe some zillion times, and still make some mistake and get nervous how to fix it and so on and so forth.

I feel like laughing thinking of those days. There has been a world of difference now. I can now say confidently that I can cook a good meal for about 20 people in a couple of hours. And if something goes wrong I can easily be sure to get it fixed. And the proportions too will quite be apt.

And also guessing the ingredients and method for a food that I taste somewhere and later trying it out myself is another thing I like and enjoy.So this time it is White beans masala that I wanted to try out without looking into any recipe but just taking guesses. And it did turn out to be quite tasty. We just loved it with simple Ghee rice. It would be good with chapathis / rotis too.
Here’s the recipe...
White Rajma Masala

Preparation time : 10 min, apart from soaking time
Cooking time : 20-25 min
Serves : 4-5

White Rajma (Bean seeds) - 1 cup, fresh/dried; Soak overnight if using dried
Tomato - 3 medium sized
Onion - 2 medium sized
Green chilies - 2-3
Ginger - 1” cube
Garlic - 5-6 cloves
Garam masala powder - 1 Tsp
Red chili powder - ½ - 1 tsp, depending on taste
Kitchen king masala - ½ tsp, optional
Jeera powder - ½ tsp
Coriander powder - ½ tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp, as per taste
Sugar - ¼ - ½ tsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp, chopped

• Soak rajma overnight if you’re using dried ones. I used fresh ones so didn’t have to soak, and the cooking time was less too.
• Pressure cook rajma with enough water for 3-4 whistles, or till well cooked
• Boil tomatoes in water till tender, cool and make puree
• Heat oil in a pan
• Add chopped onion and sauté for 2 minutes
• Crush ginger and garlic and add the paste and continue to sauté till the onions turn translucent
• Add all the spice powders and mix thoroughly so that no lumps are formed
• Mix in tomato puree, salt and sugar and bring to a gentle boil
• Add the boiled bean seeds, and water if necessary to maintain a gravy consistency
• Let it boil for 5-10 minutes, till the bean seeds absorb the taste and flavors from the gravy
• Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rotis/chapathis/ghee rice

Tips n Tricks:
• Cook the bean seeds just tender enough for the right taste