Mango Ice-cream

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In India, Mango is considered the king of all fruits. In different states/regions, you get different varieties of mango. If you want to get the best mangoes, summer is the time for it. Some varieties of mangoes that are available in India are irresistible πŸ˜€ They literally melt in your mouth and are sweeter than honey!!! One thing I really miss in the US is good mangoes 😦

I haven’t met anyone so far who doesn’t like Mangoes. So its always safe to make any form of Mango dessert/dish like Mango lassi, mango pudding, mango ice-cream or even mango cheesecake. I am glad that we get good mango pulps in the stores. As I mentioned earlier, in India, Mango is the King of all fruits and among all those different varieties of mangoes, Alphonso holds the prime place! This easy ice-cream uses alphonso mango pulp as its main ingredient. Super easy to make and guaranteed compliments from anyone who relishes this ice-cream. It would take 10 mins of your time to come up with this mouth watering dessert that is just perfect during summer! Wondering why am I posting this during winter then??? Well, I think I myself am confused πŸ˜‰ Having said that, no season is a bad season for such awesome ice-creams πŸ˜›

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INGREDIENTS:

Alphonso Mango pulp – 825 gm
Whipped cream(topping) – 225 gm
Condensed milk – 2 tbsp
Alphonso Mango(optional) – 1 no, cubed into small pieces

METHOD:

1. In a bowl, mix mango pulp, condensed milk and whipped cream. Whisk/Mix it lighly till the ingredients mix well.
2. Transfer it to a container in which you want to freeze the ice-cream(should be air-tight container).
3. Freeze it for an hour. Put the mango cubes into the ice-cream mix and give a light stir. Note: Skip this step if you are not using mango pieces.
4. Continue for freeze for 3-4 hours before serving.

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Banana Bread

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Banana bread or Banana loaf has always been one of those things, which I would only buy and NOT make. Reason: Coz I didn’t know its so easy to make one πŸ˜› After I made it once, which was like 3 weeks back, I have already made it thrice!!! I love the texture of the bread and the crunch that is added by the walnuts. DD and few of my friends also liked it a lot. Especially because it wasn’t super sweet and sounds healthy – Banana and Walnuts πŸ˜‰ !*%$#@! Hehe..

Well, I wonder why it is called banana bread and not a cake. The ingredients doesn’t seem to be very different from that of a cake. The best reason I could come up with is that, may be because it is in the shape of a bread or loaf that its called so πŸ˜‰ Whatever be the reason, I like this bread πŸ™‚ Now I know what to do when I have those ugly looking black bananas, which I would never eat otherwise. The more ugly/black your banana looks, the better your banana bread would taste. Isn’t that cool πŸ™‚ I referred to some recipes and replaced some of the regular ingredients with yogurt, olive oil etc. to reduce the amount of butter and also to give it a variation and I am absolutely happy with the results πŸ˜€

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Ripe Banana – 2-3 nos
Walnuts – 1/2 cup
All purpose flour – 1.5 cups
Baking Soda – 1 tsp
Egg – 1 no
Butter -1/3 cup
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Salt – a pinch
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Yogurt(Greek yogurt preferred) – 2 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
2. Peel the banana and in a bowl, mash them well using a fork and keep aside.
3. Mix baking soda and all purpose flour.
4. In a mixing bowl, beat egg and melted butter well. Then mix in the sugar, salt, vanilla extract, yogurt and olive oil.
5. Add all purpose flour and mix well. Then take the mashed banana kept aside and stir in with the mix.
6. Roughly chop the walnuts, add it to the bread batter and give a stir so that it is evenly distributed.
7. Prepare the loaf pan by greasing it with some butter/oil and then adding little flour so that the loaf/bread doesn’t stick to the pan.
8. Pour the bread batter into the loaf pan and bake it for about 1 hour – 1 hour 10 mins. You would know that the bread is ready, when a knife/tooth pick inserted into the center of the bread, comes out clean.
9. Once the bread is ready, let it cool before you slice them. Please note, this is an important step. Else you would not be able to slice it smoothly.

Note: Please don’t stir/mix the banana too much into the batter, else the loaf would become dry and crumbly.

Moong Dal Halwa/Asoka Halwa

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Moong Dal Halwa, also known as Asoka Halwa is one of those desserts which I didn’t know existed πŸ˜‰ Recently, a colleague of mine introduced this dish during our lunch time. It looked like Kesri, but didn’t taste so. That is when she told that it is Asoka halwa and is made of moong dal/split green gram. Well, from that day I wanted to try making this delicious halwa.

After thanksgiving weekend, we had a lot of leftovers for the week. Since I didn’t have to ‘cook’ anything specifically for dinner, my mind started to wander, thinking, how can I keep her(me!!!) occupied. Then all of a sudden, I remembered this wonderful halwa I had few days back. I had a small idea of how to proceed coz I remember my colleague telling me that the preparation is similar to Rava Kesri. I searched for few recipes and then started my attempt. I was so happy after making the halwa. It is an absolutely charming dessert. I loved it πŸ˜€

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Moong Dal/Split Green Gram – 1 cup
Wheat flour – 2 tsp
Ghee – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Red food color – a pinch

METHOD:

1. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a saucepan. Roast the moong dal till the raw smell goes off.
2. In a cooker, cook the dal using approx. 1-1.5 cups water. The dal should cook really well. If it doesn’t become a paste, then grind it in a blender to make it a smooth paste.
3. In the saucepan, roast wheat flour and keep aside.
4. Now add the cooked and mashed moong dal to saucepan along with sugar. Stir well so that the sugar melts and mixes well with moong dal.
5. Add the remaining ghee, cardamom powder, roasted wheat flour and food color(mixed in 1 tbsp water). Mix it well and keep stirring.
6. Halwa is ready when the mixture stops sticking to the pan and takes a soft texture. At this time remove from heat.

Serve hot!

Rava Kesari

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Kesari or Rava halwa as we call it in our homes, is one of the most common sweets made in most Indian homes. I hadn’t made it in quite some time at home. But when you go to South Indian restaurants and order thali, mostly the dessert served would be Kesari.

Whenever I have it from restaurants, is when I realize how much I like this thing πŸ˜› Specially in restaurants, they add a looot of ghee/oil to make it very very soft. I made it at home last week, but I couldn’t go beyond 8 tbsp of ghee. My brain started analyzing how much unhealthy it is when I was adding more and more ghee πŸ˜€ So to be peaceful while relishing the dessert, I restricted the amount of ghee I put. But for restaurant style kesari, I would suggest you put more ghee so that it gets that texture and consistency!! Having said that, I didn’t miss the kesari immersed in ghee while I was having my home made version πŸ˜›

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Fine Sooji/Semolina/Rava – 1 cup
Sugar – 1.25 cups(I put only 3/4th cup since I don’t have a sweet tooth)
Ghee/Clarified butter – 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 cup
Food Color(Yellow)(Optional) – 1 pinch

METHOD:

1. Heat ghee in a saucepan and lightly roast sooji/semolina.
2. Meanwhile heat the water in microwave, ready to be poured into the saucepan once the semolina is roasted.
3. Pour the hot water slowly into the saucepan and keep stirring well so that semolina doesn’t form lumps.
4. Add food color, sugar and cardamom powder and mix it well.
5. Continue to stir and be careful as the semolina mix can splutter. Keep stirring till rava cooks well.
6. Once the sugar melts and the rava doesn’t stick to your hands/fingers/pan anymore, remove it from stove.
7. Transfer it to a greased flat plate and give the Semolina halwa/Kesri the shape you desire. Using a knife draw diagonal lines to make it diamond shaped.

Unni Appam

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Unni appam is a very popular snack item made in Kerala homes using rice, jaggery and banana. Fried in either coconut oil or ghee, it is made in a special pan, usually made of cast iron with many holes in it. The pic above will give you an idea of how the pan looks. These days for easy, you get non-stick unniappa chattis/pans πŸ˜› I like this snack because of its softness and is very mild in sweetness πŸ™‚

You will find many variations in its cooking style. Some people use sesame seeds and fried coconut slices in the recipe. But I personally don’t like to disturb the softness of unni appam and so I don’t prefer the coconut slices in it. I have made a very simple version of unni appam and it came out well the second time. The first time I made it, I didn’t use all-purpose flour. So it turned out a little hard. I personally don’t like to add baking soda in any of the deep frying items because it results in too much of oil absorption. The reason I mentioned baking soda is because, to soften the unni appam and for it to rise well, some people use baking soda. Instead I used very little all-purpose flour and it was perfect.

The reason I attempted to make unni appam is because DD absolutely loves unni appam. So much so, that even the hard unni appams(from my first batch), were over in like a day πŸ˜› Though I knew that he likes unni appam, I had no clue, that probably this is his all time favourite πŸ™‚ I didn’t wait a second day to try and get the perfect recipe for unni appam. Such a relief it was, when I got it right in the very next attempt. Haven’t seen DD happier πŸ˜€ This one’s for you my unni appam lover πŸ˜›

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Jaggery – 200 gm or 1.25 cups
Rice flour – 200 gm or 1.25 cups
All purpose flour – 50 gm or 1/3 cup
Small banana(called Palayankodan in malayalam) – 3 nos
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Water – apprx. 1.5 cups
Oil or Ghee – for frying

METHOD:

1. Melt jaggery in a pan using 1 cup of water.
2. Grind the palayankodan(banana) into a smooth paste using a mixie/blender. The banana should be fully ripe.
3. In a bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients. To this add melted jaggery and ground banana. Good a good mix so that the ingredients blend well together(use a mixie if needed. I used just a whisk).
4. The batter shouldn’t be very watery. It will drink lot of oil if it is too watery. But you should be able to drop a spoonful of batter easily to the oil.
5. Keep the batter aside for atleast 4-5 hours. For best results, prepare the batter 1 day prior to making the unni appams.
6. Heat oil/ghee in unni appa chatti(shown in the pic above). Drop a spoonful of batter into each hole(of the pan).
7. Let it fry in medium/medium high flame. Turn around the unni appams when one side cooks, for it to cook evenly on both sides. You would know that the unni appams are ready, when they turn brown. Take them out using either fork or skewer.
8. Drain the excess oil/ghee by placing the unni appams on a paper towel.

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Date Roll

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Date roll: I had a whole box of dates at home and it was untouched for weeks. I had bought it with the intention of having 3-4 dates per day to keep my iron level normal πŸ™‚ And now after few weeks, I am thinking hard on how to use it up without having to throw it!!! Then I remembered some roll my mom used to make. I remembered the shape and texture but wasn’t quite sure how to make it. So I consulted the expert, obviously, mom; and she told me what to do. I have to admit, it got over in no time πŸ™‚

So here it is. Date roll, one of the healthiest snack you could feed your kids with. Its made into a nice form and bite size pieces, so kids are going to love it. And if you think about the time you spend on it, its a real treat to have. Overall, it took 10 mins of my time to make it πŸ™‚ Personally, I really liked the crunchiness of the crackers/biscuits while it still had all the softness that the dates had to provide.

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INGREDIENTS:

Dates – 1 lb/450 gm
(60 nos apprx.)
Ghee – 3 tbsp
Sugar – 3 tsp
Cracker(Marie Gold) – 10 nos

METHOD:

1. In a blender/food processor, pulse the dates for few seconds such that the dates are chopped finely.
2. Transfer it to a bowl. Mix the ghee with the dates and knead the dates with your hands till it combines well.
3. Place it covered for about an hour. The dates will become soft then.
4. Break the crackers/ Marie gold biscuits into small pieces(you could use pestle and mortar).
5. After an hour, mix these broken biscuits to the date and mix it well with the dates. Try to make the biscuits spread evenly to the kneaded date ball.
6. Divide the ball into halves. Using hands, roll out the ball to form a cylindrical roll. Give it a good and flat shape at the ends.
7. Cover in a cheesecloth and refrigerate for couple of hours so that the roll is set properly.
8. Slice into 1/2 inch size pieces and enjoy πŸ™‚

Coconut Burfi

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I was thinking about what else can I make that I haven’t made before. Then when I spoke to mom, I remembered her coconut burfi, which I remember was pista green in color. But that’s all I knew about it. I hadn’t had that for a long time. I quickly asked her for the recipe and it was quite simple to remember. She said, β€œOh, that’s easy. It is 3:2:1 ratio. 3 coconut, 2 sugar and 1 milk”. That’s all I needed. Of course, I knew she used green food color and vanilla extract :- )

That very day, I decided to make this dessert. Once I made it and tasted it, ah, that taste..I could easily tell that this is exactly how mom used to make it. It was just the ditto taste and look. I was soo thrilled!! I gave it to DD and he was like, β€œOh, these things can be made at home too??” Well, I couldn’t be happier πŸ˜€ Then he gave his best rating for this dish and that took my level of satisfaction a level higher. It is an easy dessert to make at home and super tasty.

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INGREDIENTS:

Shredded coconut – 3 cups
Sugar – 2 cups
Milk – 1 cup
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Food color(green) – 1 pinch
Ghee/Butter – 1 tsp

1. Take a flat plate/flat tray in which you can set and spread the burfi once its ready. Grease it with ghee/butter. Keep aside.
2. In a saucepan, add coconut, sugar and milk. Mix them well and cook in medium high flame.
3. Once the mixture starts to thicken, reduce the flame to medium and stir continuously.
4. Mix the food color in 2 tbsp water.
5. Slowly pour the color and vanilla extract into the mixture and mix well so that it spreads evenly.
6. The burfi is ready to be removed from stove once it is thick/dry enough so that when you take the mixture into your hands, it shouldn’t stick to your hands. At the same time, you should be able to give it your desired shape.
7. Once it reaches the right consistency(as mentioned in the previous step), remove from stove and spread it evenly on the greased tray/plate.
8. Try and make it as even as possible. You could use another flat pan/vessel to press it and make the surface even and smooth.
9. Then using a knife, slice/mark the coconut burfi into the desired shape. Marking/Cutting at this stage is important, else the burfi will harden and then you will not be able to cut it properly. You could cut it into square/diamond pieces. Then allow it to rest for an hour or so.
10. Take one slice from the edge and the other pieces will come off easily.