Friday, October 30, 2009

A great day in the kitchen!

Well..had a great time today.. Made perfect (well.. almost..) Gulab Jamuns from scratch.. for the Indian Cooking Challenge..

Mom in law made some awesome pav bhaji too.. loaded with butter here :) And believe me, she doesn't need to use pav bhaji masala, her own masalas are enough

Gulab Jamuns turned out the authentic Sindhi ones that I love (since I was born a Sindhi..)
Followed Alka's recipe, which goes thus..

"For sugar syrup:


Sugar - 500 gms (This can be reduced as per taste)
Water - 1 & 1/2 cup (bit more or less)
Cardamom - 2-3
One spoon of milk (optional)
Few threads of saffron (optional)
2-3 drops of rosewater (optional but highly recommended)


Mix about 500 gms of white sugar in one and half cup water and keep it for boiling.

Add a spoonful of milk to remove the impurities (impurities if any, will form a scum on surface)

Add 2-3 green cardamoms also in syrup for strong flavor, and a tad of saffron strings (optional)

Boil until you get just a tad sticky syrup. Gulab Jamun syrup is not very dense nor too dilute as in Rasgulla

Strain the syrup, add rosewater when syrup is slightly cooled.
Always remember two things while using rose water, do not add it while syrup is bubbling hot or on fire, and be particular about the quantity mentioned in every recipe, since even few drops of excess rosewater could lend a bitter taste to the final product.

For Gulab Jamun:


Unsweetened Maawa* - 250 gms
All purpose flour - 1 & 1/2 - 2 tsp
Cornflour - 1 tsp
Green cardamom - 1-2 crushed
Oil for shallow frying

* (khoya-the condensed milk thickened till it turns into moist dough, preferably made from cow’s milk, also known as Hariyali mawa)


Mix all the ingredients in a wide mixing bowl until soft textured dough is obtained (keep mixing until it is really soft)

Make very small sized balls (bit larger than pebbles) as they swell up after frying and soaking in syrup

Make sure that the surface of dough balls is really smooth without any cracks. In case the cracks refuse to go away, slightly wet your palms with water and roll the flour till absolutely smooth.

Now take little oil for frying in preferably flat bottomed pan, and heat the oil. But gulab jamuns are to be fried on LOW FLAME or else the surface will be browned while the core will remain uncooked. Some prefer to place an unsalted pistachio in the center of every gulab jamun while making balls, that way the core of gulab jamun is not left uncooked .

Fry one or 2 gulab jamuns at a time and always remember to STIR THE OIL with slotted spoon AND NOT TO TOUCH GULABJAMUNS, which means keep swirling the oil without tossing or turning gulab jamun.

Fry till light brown in colour, remove on tissue paper and repeat the procedure with rest of dough.

Now soak these in COOL syrup for few hours. They will surely swell up

These can be stored in the same syrup till consumed

If there are cracks in the balls before frying it will burst open while frying, in that case adding a bit of cornflour will surely help

You can enjoy it hot or cold ,either way it is delicious"

My experience:

First thing.. mom in law was there to guide me on intuitive things.. cos I rely a lot on her experience!

I took less than 1/2 the quantity

Sugar syrup - Took 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water and boiled it. Didn't need to add milk to clean the syrup. Added cardamom powder, and the flavor's so good, that I've not yet added rose water.. may be I'll add it later..

I'd made mawa from 1 lt milk reduced by 2 tea cups, day before yesterday.. (can't make mawa and gulab jamuns in one go, cos of routine office and house work.)

Took that mawa from the fridge, added 1.5 tsp cornflour and 1 tsp maida and kneaded it till it got soft and smooth. Added some cardamom powder to this dough. Then rolled it into small 'pebble' size balls - they just didn't crack at all

Then deep fried it in ghee in a kadhai, stirring continuously. Well, Alka says not to touch the gulab jams, but I kept stirring them all the time!! Cooked 4-5 at a time, at a very low flame till nice and brown and soaked in the sugar syrup.. and ready to eat in 1/2 an hour.

I guess, they are just a little bit hard right now (still may be to soak more syrup overnight), but the moment I microwaved them for 10 secs, they got real spongy and yummy..

So far, one of the easiest (like a breeze) and best cooking experience.. Thanks ICC!!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some cookbooks and fish curry - Crossed a century too

This blog has finished 100 posts.. without me realising it !! :) Yippee

...Back to my post..
There's this book exhibition going around near my place in my Mumbai suburb.. I surely enjoy so many books... Read '2 States' by Chetan Bhagat in 1/2 a day.. (rather night) pre Diwali.. now, Monica's got for me 'The Secret'.. and I purchased 3 cook books today!!!

I'm quite used to reading Nita Mehta's recipes, cos I had (mom still has) plenty of the small cook books of hers before my marriage, and have experimented a lots of paneer and other stuff on my brother.. Bottom line.. I like the way she explains in the books. One is on microwave recipes (everyone at home wanted this one..), and the other on cakes.. I wanted something Indian to refer to..
The 3rd book is 'Cakes & Bakes 500' by Martha Day.. seems like a lovely bible on baking.. :) Makes me really happy..

So, got back home a bit late, and mom in law was preparing for fish.. our usual one.. Just the fish breed changes, the gravy's the same, and the tastes of different breeds differ like east and west..

(sorry.. pic's not too presentable.. but the fish was mostly head pieces.. not attractive to take pics of! Will post a pic of the next make sometime later)
You need..

1/4 of a whole dry coconut (sukha khopra) - roasted to black, chopped and ground.. u can refer here..
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece ginger
1 small onion
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tsp sunday masala - this is prepared by my mil, and a similar thing is available in some local masala shops.. but no hygiene there...else you can take a mixture of garam masala powder and red chilli powder

Grind all these ingredients with enough water to get a fine paste.. like this

Heat lots of oil (say 3 tbsp) in a kadhai. Add methi (fenugreek) seeds, and when they are brown, add the masala and cook till oil seperates.. Add some water and cook if needed. Then add the cleaned fish pieces,let the masala coat it, add enough water to make a nice gravy.. we make it a thin gravy type. Add salt and cook for 5-10 mins. Finally add some kokam pieces and garnish with chopped coriander.. Yummy..

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Karanji & Besan Ladu

These are my mom in laws belated Diwali sweets!! She's a super chef! And she's fully supportive and excited for the Indian Cooking Challenge tasks.

We'll, I've told her to write down the recipes, and I'll put them in the blog then.. may take a while.. :) Meanwhile.. have a look .. 2 ladus and a karanji


Masala Mushroom & Vegies

Tried out a simple variation in Masala Mushrooms...

Added a handful of green peas, and 1 medium potato (finely chopped)..
Had to pressure cook it till 4 whistles..
Yummy.. No doubt..


P.S.. Notice the latest few pics :) New digi cam :) :)


Made Mawa today.. just keep boiling the milk and stir continuously.. till it thickens such that it looks like some mithai from the shop.. looks like a softly kneaded dough..