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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Gulab Jamun using Mava/Khoya

We love gulab jamun! I have made them from readymade mixes and tried the milk powder based recipes, and we enjoy them all, but I always wanted to try out a recipe using mava/khoya. I could imagine what a rich taste that would have. I make mava/khoya at home from ricotta cheese during the festival season and this time I froze some to use later to make gulab jamun. I had called some friends over for dinner and it seemed to be a perfect time to try this out as a dessert.

The gulab jamuns turned out very good. The best compliment was that everyone ate seconds and some even eat thirds and they were all gone by the next day. They were soft, infused with syrup and they melted in the mouth. I also had a few learnings while making it. It is easier to fry these in oil as the temperature of ghee is tougher to maintain. Fry the gulab jamun at a consistent medium high temperature else the soft dough can disintegrate in the oil. That is the main difference between mava and milk powder gulab jamun. The milk powder ones must be fried at a medium low temperature for the jamuns to get cooked well. Also, remember that these will absorb the syrup and swell up to one and a half to two times the fried size, so roll the gulab jamuns accordingly. Try frying one gulab jamun to ensure that it doesn't melt in the oil and then fry the rest in batches.

Here is the recipe to make mava/khoya at home - Mava/Khoya/Kava recipe

3 cups sugar
2.5 cups water
few saffron strands
¼ tsp cardamom powder
1.5 cup mava/khoya grated
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp fine rava
oil to deep fry the gulab jamun

Put sugar and water in a deep and broad saucepan and heat it. Stir so that the sugar doesn’t caramelize. Once the sugar dissolves and water starts boiling, let it boil for a few minutes and turn off the heat when it starts looking syrupy. It doesn’t need to be thickened to get any threads. Add saffron and cardamom powder. Stir well. Keep this warm syrup ready for the gulab jamuns.

Knead the mava thoroughly. Add the all purpose flour, rava and baking soda and mix this thoroughly with the mava so that it is well dispersed. Knead this into a dough. Then make small 1 inch diameter balls of the mava mixture. Make sure to keep the dough and the balls with a damp cloth or paper towel, so that they do not dry. If you find the dough cracking, then add a few drops of milk at a time into the mava mixture and knead it till smooth. Make sure the gulab jamun balls are smooth and do not have any cracks. Once a large batch is ready, heat the oil. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a little dough and if it comes up immediately, then the oil is hot. Keep it on medium high heat and then add the gulab jamun balls. Add as many as the pan can accommodate. They will start coming up immediately. Cook them till they are nicely browned on all sides. Be careful while frying and turn them just a couple of times using a slotted spoon. If you over handle them, they may break. Once browned, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel for a couple of minutes. Then put them into the warm syrup. They will float. As they get heavier and soak up the syrup they will sink a little.

These are delicate and if the temperature of the oil is low and they don’t get cooked quickly, the gulab jamun balls will start breaking up and separating up. Before you add all the gulab jamun balls in the oil, test with one to see if it fries up without breaking. If it breaks, then adjust the temperature and try again. It it still breaks then add a tbsp of maida rava mixture (without baking powder) to the dough and knead it again and then make the balls.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bottle Gourd/ Dudhi Halwa/ Lauki Halwa - Instant Pot version

I got my Instant Pot a couple of years ago and use it on a daily basis, but these days I have started using it to save time, reduce the amount of fat in the recipe and to do a lot of precooking which takes a lot of time the traditional way. I am starting a separate section of recipes that can be cooked in the pressure cooker to reduce the amount of time needed to spend on the recipe. I will keep updating the techniques as I experiment and find more shortcuts.

One of the recipes that takes a lot of time on the stove top is bottle gourd/dudhi/lauki halwa. Since this is a very water vegetable, it takes a  lot of sauteing to get it cooked and the water evaporated. This method also requires more ghee to sautee it to get a nice cooked flavor before you can add milk to it. If the ghee is less or if the lauki is not well cooked, the halwa may not turn out that tasty. The 30-40 minutes traditional cooking (on low heat to avoid burning) and monitoring is reduced to about 15 minutes hands free process when using the pressure cooker. 

For reference: Here is link to the traditional Dudhi halwa recipe.

2 dudhi/lauki/bottle gourd (had about 3.75 cups), peeled and grated 
1/2 cup liquid from the dudhi/lauki
4 tbsp (1/4 cup)  cup ghee/clarified butter
1.5 cups whole milk
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 cup raisins - soak this in a little water
sliced almonds/ cashews 
1 cup sugar (to taste)
Ricotta cheese/ khava - optional

Peel and grate the lauki/dudhi. Keep it aside for 10 mins. It will release a lot of water. Place this grated gourd in a large sieve and drain the grated dudhi and press it to make it a little dry. It doesn't need to be squeezed dry. The intent is to reduce the liquid so that there will be less to evaporate later. Save the liquid. 
In the Instant Pot liner, add 1/4 cup of the saved dudhi liquid and 1/4 tbsp of ghee. Then add a layer of half of the grated dudhi. Then spread a tbsp of ghee on top of this layer. Then add the rest of the grated dudhi in a layer and spread a tbsp of ghee on top of this layer. Add another 1/4 cup of liquid and then close the lid with vent sealed. Cook on manual mode for 5 mins. Then let it stay in warm mode for 2-3 minutes and then release the pressure. Stir it well. The layer touching the bottom may be lightly browned. It will also release some liquid. At this stage if the dudhi is not cooked (it may need more time if it is old) then put it back on manual for a couple more minutes.

Now, switch to the saute mode and let the water evaporate, stirring occasionally so that it doesn't get caught at the bottom and start browning. Then add the milk and stir and cook the dudhi in it, till it evaporates. The milk curdles a bit and the solids are left behind to give a rich mava/khoya flavor. Add mava/khoya if using at this stage. If using ricotta cheese, add it before adding the milk and cook it a little. Then add the sugar. It will melt making the mixture liquid again. Again cook this till the water evaporates. 
Add the last tbsp ghee to give it a rich flavor. Then add the cardamom, raisin and almonds and stir. The halwa is cooked. I prefer to let it cook further so that it caramelizes as I like this flavor better. To do that keep cooking it till it starts to get golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

You need not squeeze out the liquid, but if you don't then it takes much longer to cook the water out before adding the milk. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tea Rusk

Everyone in our family loves rusk/tea rusk. The kids love to dunk it in their milk and we love it with our tea. As a result we can easily go through a newly opened packet in less than a week. The difficulty is that the closest store that sells these crackers is about 10 miles away and now along my daily routes. So, most of the times we are out of this at home and it becomes a rare treat. I had been thinking about making this at home and thought that it would be similar to making croutons at home. So, one evening I tried it and it worked beautifully. I would recommend using a French bread to get the store like effect. You can also use a baguette for smaller size crackers. Now I make this at least once a week and there is always a stock of low calorie crackers in the snack closet for anytime snacking. 

French bread loaf or baguette 
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter
2-3 tbsp sugar (optional), caster/fine if possible

Remove the bread from its packaging and let it stay on your kitchen countertop or table for a few hours or a day. The purpose is to make it drier so that it is easy to slice. If possible keep it on a cooling rack for better air circulation. Then use a serrated knife and slice the bread into slices that are of about ½ to 3/4th of an inch. Use a sawing motion to slice the bread, so that it doesn’t get squished.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or the microwave. Use a brush and brush on the melted butter on both sides of the bread slice. If using sugar, sprinkle it lightly onto both sides. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet. Then line up the bread slices on the rack. Place in the oven for about 15-20 mins till the toast starts to get a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool completely. Store in an airtight box.  

If using the microwave, heat the butter in a deep enough bowl, so it doesn’t boil over. Also, heat the butter in intervals of 10-20 seconds till the butter melts. You can line the cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper for easy cleanup. If using a baguette, the bread will brown in 12-15 mins.