Sorekayi Kofta Curry

Navrati to Deepavali is all about eating! It is another thing that to me eating well is a very big part of living well. But this time of the year is all about reckless and guilt free eating. But then it is also challenging to cook something different from our traditional recipes because during Navratri we usually resort to abstaining from consuming onions and garlic. Our typical Huli, Saaru,Chitranna, Bisibelebhath, Vangibath fit this bill and they are my go-to recipes during festivals. But then there are days when I feel like making something different but still fit the no-onion-garlic bill. I had to work around a bit but Kofta curry turned out very well without onions or garlic.Not as rich as it is normally but just enough to make the table festive. Here it is.

We will need,

For the Koftas,
Sorekayi/Lauki 2 medium (grated)
Chickpea flour 3-4 tbsp
Red chilli powder (to taste)
Salt to taste
Dill chopped 2-3 tbsp
Jeera a generous pinch
Oil to deep fry

For the curry,
Peanut oil /Ghee 2-3 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/42 tsp
Fennel seeds 1/2 tsp
Cardamon (big) 1
Green Cardamon 2-3
Dhania powder 2 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Jeera Powder 1 tsp
Tomatoes 5 medium
Cashews 1/4 cup
Green chillies 5-6 (to taste)
Garam masala a pinch
Salt and lemon juice to taste

  • Sprinkle some salt on the lauki and place the salted lauki in a colander to drain the excess water. Squeeze the lauki to get rid of excess water.
  • Combine the tomatoes, cashews and green chillies in a blender and blend till smooth. Reserve.
  •  For the curry, heat oil in a thick bottom pot. Throw in the whole spices and once they stop crackling, throw in the turmeric, Dhania powder and Jeera powder. Stir for a few seconds and then pour in the tomato paste and enough water for the gravy (about 2-3 cups). Bring it to a gentle boil and simmer till the curry is fragrant.
  • Meantime prepare the Koftas. Combine the lauki with all other ingredients for the kofta except the oil and mix gently. Take two tablespoon fulls of the mixture and pat then into the shape of Kofta. 
  • Heat oil in a Wok and deep fry the prepared koftas. Remove once the koftas are brown and drain them on paper towel. 
  •  To finish the curry, sprinkle the garam masala and adjust salt and lemon juice. While the curry is still warm, place the koftas and serve immediately.  Serve it with raita and Jeera rice or Jeera-Carnberry rice (recipe coming up shortly).

Cashew Burfi

My fondness for sweets is well known. I sometimes doubt if it is the sweets that i like better than the festival itself. And what can be better than nine continuous days of celebrations and of course sweets. This time around I did not make sweets everyday of Navratri, this is the third one and may be there is room for one more.
After two Pedas I was ready for a burfi. Burfis are always difficult, consistency is not right then burfi either gets too crumby or never sets. So after a lot of trial and errors I figured out that cooking the sugar separately is the best way to solve the problem.
The immediate question was what Burfi to make. I was thinking of Almond Burfi but yesterday I scored a good deal on Cashews at the local Indian grocery so decided on Cashew burfi instead. Cashew burfi has a different texture than the more popular Katli. I love them both for now it is just Burfi.

We will need,

Cashews 1 cup
Sugar 3/4 cup
Ghee 2 tbsp
Saffron a few strands (optional)
Water 1/4 cup

  • Pulse the cashews in the food processor till the nuts are fine.
  • Heat ghee in a non-stick pan. Throw the cashew powder. Toast the cashew powder till fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Remove onto a plate.
  • Heat the sugar, saffron and water in the same pan. Cook the sugar till the sugar reaches two thread consistency. (i.e. when the sugar syrup is pulled between two fingers the syrup forms at least two threads.)
  • Stir in the toasted cashews into the sugar and cook on very low flame and keep stirring the mixture.
  • Once the mixture leaves the side of the pan, remove  and pour the mixture into a greased pan. 
  • Score the mixture and when it is slightly cool cut it into pieces. Store in an air tight box.

Dharwad Peda

Darasa continues. Today is Saraswati Pooja. May the blessings of Mother Saraswati  be with us all the time.
While writing my previous post on Peda, I happened to think of Dharwad Peda. Once the thought of it entered my little brain, I had to make it. So here it is Dharwad Peda. It is quite easy to prepare but it takes about 2-3 hours at the least.A good way to go about it is to turn on a movie on laptop/tablet. Turn on the stove and keep stirring while watching the movie. That is exactly what I did. I watched Fukhrey while making this Peda.
Once the Pedas were done, they needed to be cooled. So I left them on the table and took Sunny boy to a near by temple for Navrati Aarthi. When we came back home, Honey looked quite pleased. He asked me who was back from India? I thought for a while and said no one. Then he asked me who got these Pedas from India.. I take it as a big compliment.

We will need,

Ricotta (old fashioned) 1 pint (Fresh Khoya can be used too)
Ghee 2-3 tbsp
Sugar (fine variety ) 4-5 tbsp (adjust according to taste)
Whole Milk 2-3 tbsp

  • Drain the ricotta into a cheesecloth lined sieve to remove excess liquid.
  • Heat the ghee in a non stick pan. Throw in the ricotta. Cook the ricotta till most of the liquid evaporates. Keep stirring all the time.
  • Once the ricotta becomes dry and sort of comes together into a ball, reduce heat and break the ricotta into smaller pieces. Keep stirring lest the cheese burn.
  • Keep breaking the cheese up and stirring till the cheese resembles grains of sand. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the milk over the cheese, add about 3 tbsp of sugar and stir well. Allow the mixture to cool well.
  • Once the mixture is cool, run the mixture in a food processor till the mixture is very soft and smooth. Add a little more milk if necessary. 
  • Return the mixture to the pan and heat it gently. Taste and adjust sugar. The peda should be nice and sweet but not very sweet. It should still taste like caramely milk.
  • Once the mixture comes together into a ball, remove and shape it into walnut size balls. 
  • Roll the balls in sugar and set it aside to dry. To make it look distinctly asymmetrically flatish Pedas, throw the round pedas into a plate of sugar from a distance. 
I prefer to use ricotta because we get fresh, very good quality ricotta while the khoya we get is the one that has been in the freezer for a while. A good quality Khoya will work just as well.

Vangi Bhaat MIL style

Navratri is in full swing. This past weekend we went to a south Indian temple to see the Bombe habba. Then in the evening we went to a Punjabi temple for Durga aarti. Later we went to a Gujarati temple to be a part of  Garbha. Sunny boy loved it all. I am very happy. Such a cultural mosaic, so colorful and so festive. All of us celebrate the same festival in so many different ways. This is indeed my favorite part of the year.

I have often professed my undying love for Vangibhaat. It is on my bucket list and has always been. Needless to say, there are various way to make the right Vangibhaat. Mom makes it in her own style. MIL's variety is slightly different but equally good. This time around I made it MIL style because it is much more faster and lot less labor intensive than Mom's. The most critical part of getting the Vangibhaat right is choosing the right eggplant/brinjal. They must be tender, should not be thicker than two-three of your fingers put together. The green variety is the best but if the green ones are not available then the purple ones can do. But they must not be thicker than two fingers. The fatter the eggplant the mushier it gets and the Vangibhaat looses its texture. So getting the right Vangibhat is half the battle won.

We will need,

Eggplants /Brinjal 1 lbs
Green Peas 1/2 cup (optional)
Tomatoes 2
Peanut oil 1/3 cup
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves a handful
Hing a dash
Cashew pieces a handful
Vangi bhaat masala powder 3-4 tbsp (adjust according to taste)
Salt and lime juice to taste
Ghee 1 -2 tbsp (optional)
Rice (cooked and cooled) 3-4 cups

  • Wash and clean the eggplant and wipe it dry. Cut it quarters vertically and chop the quarters into 1.5" long pieces. Chop the tomatoes and reserve.
  • Heat the oil in a wide saute pan. Throw in the mustard seeds, jeera, hing and curry leaves. Once they stop spluttering throw in the cashew nuts. Once they are golden brown, remove it using a slotted spoon and drain it on tissue paper.
  • Throw in the eggplant and gently stir to coat the eggplants with oil. Keep moving the eggplant till they are almost tender. 
  • Throw in the green peas, vangi bhaat masala powder and the tomatoes. Toss the mixture gently. 
  • Cook the vegetables till they are tender. Adjust salt and remove from heat once all the moisture has evaporated.
  • Once the mixture is slightly cool, mix the cooled rice along with toasted cashews and ghee.
  • Adjust salt and lime juice and serve immediately.

Ricotta Almond Peda

It is my favorite time of the year. Dasara/Navrathri has begun and we as usual have the bombe (dolls) out and all set up. So for the first day I was thinking of making something special, not the usual stuff. I had a container of ricotta cheese in the fridge, and what better way to finish it?
Pedas! ah...they are sweet, they are soft, they come in all different colors and flavors and they are absolutely delicious. The brown not so sweet but sugary Dharwad Peda, the milky, fudgy off white Doodh peda with floral designs on top, then the saffrony Kesar Pedas.....Ah! I love them all. Just that they have to be fresh and have just the right amount of sweetness to it. I hate the ones that are too sweet.
Unlike Burfis peda is relatively easy. Burfi can be problematic if the sugar syrup consistency is not accurate, but peda is quite forgiving. So for me when ever I try something new, I start with a Peda. If the Pedas turn out nice, I think of a Burfi. So this time around it was peda.

We will need,

Ricotta cheese 1 pint
Almond 3/4 cup
Ghee 1/4 cup
Sugar 3/4 cup (adjust according to taste, I like it on the less sweet)
Salt a pinch
Saffron a few strands
Cardamon 2 pods (seeds ground into a powder and skin discarded)

  • Drain ricotta using a sieve and a cheese cloth. Reserve the cheese and discard the whey.
  • Soak the almond in warm water a few hours. Remove the skin and blend it into a smooth mixture using as little water as possible.
  • Combine the ricotta and the almond paste.
  • Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan.
  • Throw in the ricotta almond mixture and cook till the mixture changes color and leaves the edges of the pan.
  • Mean time, cook the sugar with a 2-3 tbsps of water and melt the sugar. Remove from heat.Throw in the saffron strands.
  • Pour the sugar syrup carefully into the ricotta mixture stirring all the time making sure there are no lumps. 
  • Cook till the mixture comes together again. Stir in the cardamon powder. The mixture is ready when it begins to harden. Remove from heat.
  • When the mixture is cool enough to touch pinch small balls of the mixture and roll it between palms or shape as desired. Optional garnishes include Pista, Almonds etc.
Happy Dasara ! Happy eating and celebrating.