Festival Recipes, Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Roasted Cashewnut Burfi

Cashews, in the form of roasted salted nuts and burfis are highly addictive. Usually these are purchased from shops but making them at home is so easy and there is marked difference in taste. Making sweets at home using whole ingredients is a very rewarding and satisfying experience. The delicately nutty flavor of the cashews is enhanced in the homemade version, which is usually missing in the shop-bought versions. I highly recommend making this sweet at home and I think you will stop visiting the sweet shop and start making your own for festivals and when friends visit. It is much more tastier, flavorful, and economical too.
Some people think of cashewnuts as fattening. Please note that while cashewnuts are high in calories, they are rich in heart-friendly mono saturated fatty acids and soluble dietary fibers, vitamins, and minerals. For this sweet, I have used unrefined raw sugar. This is made from the sugarcane juice and has some minerals and nutrients. Refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients. So, if you have to eat some sweet anyway, rather than binging on empty/harmful calories, try to eat healthy homemade sweets, such as these.

Ingredients:
Cashewnut – 250 gm
Unrefined sugar – 1 cup/250 gm
Saffron/kumkuma poovu – 4-5 threads
Water – 1/2 cup
Ghee/Virgin coconut oil – 1 tsp

Preparation Time: 25 mins roasting time
Cooking time: 10 mins
Makes approximately 25 one-inch square pieces

Method:
It is best to oven roast the cashew nuts to roast them evenly. Since I do not use an oven, I used the traditional stove top method to roast the cashews. Add the cashews to a heavy bottomed vessel and dry roast until they turn golden. Turn off the fire and let them cool.
Use a mixer to powder them coarsely. I like to keep it coarse and not too fine. When you powder 250 gm roasted cashew nut, you get roughly 2-1/4 cups of cashew nut powder.
Take a wide plate and grease it lightly with ghee or virgin coconut oil. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed vessel, add water, saffron threads, and unrefined sugar. Stir occasionally and bring to boil. Cook until the sugar syrup reaches a one-thread consistency. To check this, dip the ladle in the syrup, take it out, blow into the syrup to cool it off a bit and while the syrup is still warm, touch a tiny portion of the syrup using your index finger. Try to stretch this drop of syrup on your index finger between your index finger and thumb. If it stretches for half a centimeter and forms thread and breaks beyond that, you are good to go.

Add the coarsely powdered cashew nuts to the syrup and stir. In about 5-6 minutes, you will the mixture swells up and thickens into a single mass when you move it using the ladle. It does not stick to the bottom of the wok. This means that it is time for you to transfer the cooked burfi into the greased plate that you have kept ready.

Pour the mixture on the greased plate. Tap to even out the surface using a rolling pin/potato masher/flattener. Use a knife to make horizontal and vertical divisions on the rolled out mixture. Let the mixture cool for about 10 mins.

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In a quick move, turn the plate with the mixture upside down onto a bigger plate.

Gently separate the individual pieces. Store in an airtight container. Stays good for a week.

I referred to Harini Prakash’s Tongue Ticklers to make this sweet. I have been a huge fan of Harini’s writing style and brilliant photographs since I first came across her web site. So, thanks to Harini for this detailed and flawless recipe.

Recipe courtesy: http://tongueticklers.com/2014/10/bhuja-hua-kaju-barfi-roasted-cashew-barfi/

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Salads

Spinach Salad

Spinach saladSpinach is one of the healthiest vegetables and ranked number one in nutrient richness. It is full of minerals and vitamins and provides anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties. Spinach helps keep bones healthy. A lot of nutrients and vitamins are lost during cooking. Raw consumption provides you with all the benefits that this miracle leaf can offer you. I could go on endlessly about the benefits of spinach consumption, but before you frown, let me give you the recipe to this simple salad. It is as easy as tossing some lemon juice, olive oil, nuts, and some cheese into your cleaned spinach leaves – an amazing way of satisfying the body’s need for green leafy vegetables.

Ingredients:
Spinach – a bunch
Walnuts – 10-12
Cashewnuts – 10-12
Cheese cube – 1 inch cube (optional)
Lemon – 1
Olive oil – 2 tbsp

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Serves: 2

Method:

It is very important to wash the spinach thoroughly before consumption. Soak the leaves in clean water for at least 15 minutes and rinse. Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly, drain, and dry. Use your hands to tear the spinach leaves into smaller pieces as desired (I did not use a knife because chopping into smaller pieces would mean loss of nutrients).

tear spinach leaves into smaller pieces

Add walnuts, cashewnuts, lemon juice, and olive oil. I added pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds also.

add nuts

Add grated cheese.

add grated cheese

mix the ingredientsI did not add salt to this salad because I loved the as-is taste. Mix the ingredients to coat evenly. The cheese, nuts, and the lemon give this salad a tangy and nutty flavor. You could even try orange juice instead of lemon.

Eating your greens raw is an acquired taste. I developed the taste for this salad with time. Including this salad in your diet couple of times a week is immensely beneficial. If you are unable to eat your spinach raw, you could lightly cook the leaf and add it to your pasta or add the spinach puree to your chapathi dough.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Indian, Sweets

Carrot Halwa – a seasonal delight

carrots stacked in the marketIndian cooking highly emphasizes eating right for the season and using seasonal produces. We have festivals based on change of season and harvests; and dishes based on the ingredients available in a season. Winter is the season for undhiyu, thiruvathira puzhukku (similar to undhiyu), gond (gum resin) laddu, carrot halwa, and the likes. It’s the season for red carrots (usually only orange carrots are available during other seasons). The red carrots stacked in the subzi mandi (vegetable market) invariably tempt me to make carrot halwa.

carrot halwa

Ingredients:
Carrots – 250 gms
Milk – 1 cup
Sugar – 100 gms
Ghee – 100 gms
Almonds/raisins/cashewnuts – 8-10 pieces
Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp

Method:
Soak the almonds in water for half an hour and peel and cut to small pieces. Cut the cashewnuts into smaller pieces. Wash, peel, and grate the carrots. Place a thick wok on fire and pour a teaspoon of ghee. Roast the almonds, cashews and raisins in this ghee. When the nuts and raisins turn golden brown, remove from fire and keep aside.

Pour milk into the thick wok. Empty the grated carrot into milk and cook in medium fire. Stir occasionally. You can use water instead of milk or use a mix of milk and water. The advantage of using milk is that you can cut down on the usage of ghee.

When the milk is fully absorbed and the grated carrot is tender and cooked, lower the flame and add sugar. At this stage, the mixture becomes a little loose. Stir occasionally and cook until all the water is fully absorbed. You can modify the quantity of sugar depending on your taste.
Add ghee in small quantities, mix, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add elaichi powder and the roasted nuts and raisins. Mix well. Remove from fire. You can serve carrot halwa hot or cold. Try it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

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