Easy to Make Gajar ka Halwa

In winters, gajar ka halwa is a regular Indian dessert. In fact, in most of the Indian homes I know, on New Year eve it’s  a must – it has kind of become a tradition!

Even I made it on this New Year eve but hesitated to share here as I thought gajar ka halwa is too simple a thing to share.

easy gajar halwaThen the other day one of my dear bhaili was planning menu for friends get-together lunch. So, when were discussing on choice of dessert, I suggested her that why not present this sweet old recipe.

However, then I came to know that she didn’t exactly knew the procedure to make gajar ka halwa. Also, not having khoa/mawa in her kitchen stopped her from trying this evergreen Indian dessert.

Therefore, I thought it will be better to write a post on this dessert. After all just like her, there would be many more readers who may not be fully hands-on with this yummy and effortless dessert.

Before hopping on the procedure, I would like to mention that I make this easy Indian dessert with milk instead of khoa. Milk makes it more convenient.

Ingredients:

  • Carrot (gajar): ½ kg
  • Milk: 11/2 liter
  • Sugar: 3/4 cup
  • Ghee: 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom: 3-4 pods
  • Almond and raisins for garnishing

Procedure:

  • Peel and grate carrots. Saute it in ghee for 5 minutes on low flame in heavy bottom vessel. This helps in sealing the bright color of carrots. I prefer home-made ghee.

gajar halwa steps

  • Add boiled milk and let it simmer on low flame, this will take around 45-50 minutes. In the meanwhile, relax, watch a movie or read a book or chit-chat on phone. Point is, you don’t need to pay continuous attention. You just need to stir once in a while. I like such recipes which require minimum effort and taste awesome. Lazy Megha, I know! 😉
  • Carrot will get cooked and become tender and milk will evaporate. When you notice milk has almost evaporated, add sugar to it.
  • Increase the flame to medium. At this stage be little watchful and keep stirring continuously. Eventually, the remaining milk will vanish and halwa will become dry.

garnish carrot halwaIt tastes best when served warm. However, my personal choice is room temperature. When kept in freezer it lasts for 3-4 days, but I prefer fresh food so I make in small quantity that gets over maximum by next day.

So, do try this easy and tasty halwa and pamper your taste buds.

carrot halwa ready to eatDo visit and like Bhaili’s Facebook page to get regular updates. You can also find me on Pinterest.

Republic Day Special – Kesaria Jalebi with Rabdi

Two days back while going to sleep, I asked my husband what should I make on the occasion of Republic Day? Something that has Tricolor theme – saffron, white and green color.

Our discussion led to some quite interesting ideas, he is quite creative in such suggestions. We discussed everything from starters to desserts, like tiranga-dhokla to tirangi-kheer to so many more tempting food combinations.

However, I liked the idea of combining kesaria-jalebi and white rabdi garnished with pistachio (to add the green color).

celebrating Republic-Day with jalebi and rabdi

Picking the challenge of making jalebi also meant getting out of bed at that very instant and mixing the batter and leaving it to ferment.

Actually, rabdi being my hubby’s favorite, he suggested this jalebi-rabdi combination. And later I realized, in order push me to finalize this dessert, he tricked me by challenging if I would be able to make jalebis. After all, he is very well aware that I am always ready for such challenges. 🙂

Just to add, Rabdi undoubtedly elevates the royal quotient of any dessert, be it gulab-jamuns, gajar ka halwa etc.

Ok, below I have explained the recipe for jalebi. You can also go through my rabdi post for its recipe.

Ingredients

For jalebis:

  • All-purpose flour (maida): ½ cup +1 spoon
  • Sour curd: ½ cup
  • Ghee for frying

For Sugar syrup

  • Sugar: 3/4 cup
  • Water: 3/4 cup
  • 2-3 pieces of lemon wedges or 3-4 tsp of milk

For garnishing

  • Saffron: few strands
  • Pistachio: 1 tbsp
  • Milk: 1 tbsp

Beforehand Preparations

  • Mix ½ cup all-purpose flour and curd, and make a batter. If the curd is too thick you can add little water.
  • Whisk the batter for 10-15 minutes and you will notice it has become smooth.
  • Cover it and keep aside for 24 hours. In this course of 24 hours, batter will ferment and become light and fluffy.

Making Jalebis

  • After 24 hours, you will notice batter has a sour smell which is a good sign, as it shows it has fermented well. You will notice batter to be thin in consistency. Add 1 spoon of all-purpose flour and whisk for 5 minutes. Now the batter will be in pouring consistency and ready to make jalebis.

batter of jalebi

  • Pour the batter in a piping bag. Heat the ghee in a flat bottom pan and make the jalebis on medium flame. Fry the jalebis and cook on both the side till they get nice golden color. I use home-made ghee and home-made butter in all my preparations.

frying jalebis

  • After taking out from ghee, straight away dip it in warm sugar syrup. Let it soak in the syrup for 2 minutes before serving.

kesaria-jalebiSugar Syrup with Saffron

  • Take sugar and water in a heavy bottom vessel and put on medium flame. Sugar will dissolve and syrup will start boiling.
  • Let it simmer for around 15 minutes. You can either add lemon wedges or milk drops in this syrup. This helps in accumulating dirt from sugar syrup and gives nice transparent color.
  • Collect the dirt forming on the top and discard it. Another advantage of adding milk or lemon wedges is that it prevents syrup from solidifying on cooling.
  • Soak the saffron in warm milk and cover it for 5 minutes. Rub the saffron with fingers this will result in lovely color and fragrance of saffron. Add this saffron along with milk in the syrup and keep it aside.

It’s time to serve

I arranged the jalebis in bowl with rabdi and sprinkled generous amount of pistachio to get tricolor effect. However, jalebi by itself is aromatic and delicious.

jalebi with rabdiP.S: I would also like to mention for my non-Indian readers that there is no specific term for jalebi in English, just like paani-puri/gol-gappa is universally called paani-puri. 🙂

So, how do you like jalebi with rabdi, or you have your some other favorite combination? Did you like my Tricolor special for Republic Day? I would love to know your thoughts. Do leave your comments here.

Thanks for giving your valuable time and reading. Hope to see you again.

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Easy Rabdi Recipe

Rabdi is a very flexible and versatile Indian dessert. You can team it up with probably any Indian dessert and it tastes really awesome.

Rabdi - Indian DessertIt is also my husband’s favorite dessert. He can combine it with anything – really anything – that’s sweet. He enjoys a spoonful of rabdi in a chilled glass of thick lassi (yogurt based drink) in summers.

He once made me do rabdi topping on egg-less cottage-cheese cupcakes. 🙂 However, these days he is more fond of sweets made of jaggery and right now peanut chikki tops his favorite list.

Coming back to rabdi, it can be tastefully blended with gajar ka halwa or jalebi. Rabdi with warm gulab-jamuns get along very well too.

Ingredients

  • Full cream milk: 1 liter
  • Sugar: ¼ cup
  • Cardamom: 2 pods
  • Saffron: few strands
  • Pistachio for garnishing

Procedure

  • Pour milk in a heavy bottom skillet. Boil the milk and then reduce the flame to low. Let the milk simmer and in no time thick malai will start forming. Don’t break these layers of malai. Gently keep skimming it to one side of skillet.
  • It will take around 20 minutes and milk will turn into dense layers of malai. Add sugar and gently mix it.

Sugar added to rabdi

  • When the sugar dissolves, take it off the flame. Add cardamom powder and garnish it with pistachio and saffron.
  • I normally add less sugar in rabdi, as it’s usually blended with already sweet desserts. However, it tastes equally good when eaten alone as well.
  • I made this rabdi to be used with jalebi to create tricolor effect to celebrate India’s Rebulic Day, so I have used saffron just for garnishing purpose.

Rabdi Ready to serve

  • However, you can soak saffron in milk for 4-5 minutes and rub it with fingers to get a nice saffron color. Then add this milk and crushed saffron to rabdi to get bright kesar rabdi.

In summers rabdi tastes best when it’s served slightly refrigerated. Avoid serving it chilled as it will get hard. In winter you can serve it with warm gulab-jamuns or jalebi.

Do visit and like Bhaili’s Facebook page to get regular updates. You can also find me on Pinterest.

How to Make Instant Vegetable Pickle

Pickles make any meal tastier by adding zing to the food on plate. While in summer it’s mango pickles that can be preserved for years, in winter it’s the turn of instant, mixed-veg, ready-to-eat pickles.

In-fact those who are fond of pickles but don’t enjoy the sour and tangy raw mango pickles, love spicy mixed-veg pickles.

mix pickleAny combination of seasonal vegetables can be used. Here, I have used cauliflower, radish, carrot and fresh green peas. However, depending on your choice, you can try any other vegetable(s) as well.

Dry Ingredients:

  • Mustard seeds: 1tbsp
  • Fennel (saunf): 1tbsp
  • Asafoetida (heeng): a pinch
  • Carom seed (ajwaeen): ½ tsp
  • Dry mango powder: 1 tbsp
  • Red chili powder: 1/2 tbsp
  • Fenugreek seeds (methi): ¼ tsp
  • Nigella/Onion seeds (kalonji): ¼ tsp
  • Turmeric powder (haldi): 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tbsp
  • Mustard oil: ¾ cup

Fresh Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower
  • Carrot
  • Radish
  • Fresh green peas
  • Green chilies
  • Ginger: 1/2 inch

Procedure:

  • Take the vegetables of your choice and cut them in small pieces. Content of cut vegetables should be equal to 1 cup. You can adjust the proportion and quantity of vegetables as per your taste.

Instant-mix pickle cut vegetables

  • Add little salt and turmeric powder in water and par boil vegetables in them. Make sure vegetables have lost their crunch and become soft (but not too tender).
  • Drain out the water and spread the vegetables on cloth so that the cloth absorbs any left-over water. Keep the veggies under the sun for an hour or so. Keep mingling in between (after every 15 – 20 min), as this enables uniform drying of vegetables.

mix vegetable pickle par bolied vegetables

  • Dry roast mustard seeds, fennel and carom seed on low flame. Once you notice the enchanting aroma filling your nostrils, take the mix off the heat. Let it cool and grind to coarse powder.

instant mix pickle spices

  • Bring together salt, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, dry mango powder and above coarse powder (prepared in previous step) and mix everything together.
  • Heat mustard oil for a minute and add asafoetida to it. Switch-off the heat. Now, it’s time to blend everything together.
  • In a jar add vegetables, powdered spices and mustard oil. Add finely cut green chilies and ginger, and mix thoroughly.
  • You can either put everything together in a bowl or transfer to a jar. After mixing, keep it under sun for an hour, and it’s ready to eat. By the next day the flavors blend together with much more enhanced taste.

instant mix pickle ready to eatHowever, my family members don’t wait for the next day. They jump on it the moment it is ready to eat 🙂 This time around, I made it before the breakfast, so that everyone could have it with multi-grain paratha in breakfast.

In my family, everyone is so fond of the mixed-veg pickles that they can team-up this flavorsome pickle with anything and everything! It doesn’t last more than 3-4 days in my home, otherwise you can easily store it in refrigerator for a month.

Nevertheless, don’t worry about how many days it stays good, if your family loves pickle this won’t last long. 🙂

I would love to know if you also make any other variety of instant pickle. Do share with me if you tried some other vegetable.

Thank you for giving your valuable time and reading.

How to Make Butter at Home

I and my family are addicted to home-made butter and home-made ghee. I can’t recall the last time I used store-bought butter which is loaded with stabilizer and preservatives.

Home-made butter made from malai

I constantly strive in ways I can make my food preparations sans preservatives. Using home-made chutneys, ghee and butter is a step in this direction.

Taking out butter at home is simple process further simplified by using blender to extract butter from malai.

How to skim malai from milk?

My bhaili’s often ask me how I skim malai from milk. It’s pretty simple! After boiling full cream milk, do not disturb it and keep it aside. When cooled shift it to refrigerator. After few hours there is thick layer of malai on top of the milk.

Carefully remove it and store in covered bowl in refrigerator. I normally take out butter from malai accumulated over 7 – 10 days.

malai
Malai

When I know that next morning I will be extracting butter, I take out bowl from freezer and leave it out overnight. By next morning the frozen malai gets melted and ready to be processed.

Traditional method of stirring by hand can be followed for extracting butter. However, I prefer blender to do it for me. Call me lazy, I call it using my time wisely. 🙂

Procedure to extract butter:

  • Transfer the malai to blender (fill the jar half) and add some cold water to it. Churn the blender for about 2 minutes. You will get thick dense paste. Now keep churning and stopping till you see butter separated from milk.
extracting butter from malai
Extracting butter from malai

You need to be patient as at times this gets tricky and this game continues for 10-15 minutes. When we are not using our muscles, then at least we can be patient. See I do spills some words of wisdom. 🙂

  • Collect the butter in a bowl and wash the butter. Yes, you read it right, we will wash the butter! Take the butter in a bowl and add some water into it. Don’t worry your hard-work wont go waste in water. Washing removes any milk residue from butter and prevent any stale smell.
unsalted butter
Unsalted Butter

You can use the butter in the unsalted form or can beautify it with some makeup. 🙂 I do keep aside some unsalted white butter for using in some recipes which require unsalted butter.

Makeover Time

Add little salt and orange/ yellow food color and mix a little. On mixing it will absorb the color and salt, and become light and fluffy. Transfer it to a container and keep it refrigerated.

Making home-made butter

Enjoy it with hot multi-grain paratha or stuffed paratha or crisp toasts. I get a sense of satisfaction whenever I put on table such home-made stuffs. I know it does take little effort, but when we know it is good for our family, we don’t mind walking that extra mile, isn’t it!

home-made butter
Home-made butter ready to be served

Do you agree with me that we should avoid preservatives as much as possible? Do share your views I would love to know your feedback.

Thank you for reading and spending your valuable time here.

Madhubani Painting in 6 Easy Steps

I have learned a lot by observing other artists’ works. Some live works while some other through different media. I strongly believe that in this Google age one can learn anything and everything if one is really determined to learn, because there are lot of generous people sharing their knowledge and skill over internet.

I used to wonder what makes these wonderful people take so much effort and share their learnings? Now I realize what made them do so. There aim is to help others so that interested people can learn.

It’s the same reason why I wanted to write this post. So that I can pass on the help I received when I started painting and wanted to learn in any way possible.

I am still learning each day as I continue to paint. However, I feel I can still share what I have learned over the period of time. Therefore, thought came that why not write a post to share my knowledge on how to do Madhubani painting.

I have completed this Madhubani painting of Radhe-Krishna in a week’s time and taken photographs in each important stage. Madhubani or Mithila is the folk art of Bihar. You can read my post on Madhubani /Mithila paintings for more information.

Few important things for whosoever gets tempted to try Madhubani painting.

  • It’s an intricate art form and takes time to complete a painting. Please don’t be in hurry to finish it. Enjoy the wonderful journey of painting.
  • It can be done on handmade sheet or any thick white sheet – no special papers needed. Just make sure you start painting on rough side of the sheet. Smooth and shiny surface makes the colors slip.
  • Traditionally, special nib is used to draw line with black ink in Madhubani art work, but that requires lot of practice. However, black marker pen can be used to draw the outline (it’s important that pen should be water resistant).
  • Water-based poster colors are used on paper while if attempting on fabric use acrylic colors. Round tip brushes are used to fill colors.

Painting Procedure

  1. I start with sketching the border. Border is important aspect of Madhubani painting and it makes the painting look complete. Continuous geometrical designs or nature-inspired motifs can be used. Border can be from ½ inch to 2 inch wide (depending on the size of the canvas you are using). Bigger the canvas wider the border. Here I have drawn a ½ inch border. To know more do read how to draw border in Madhubani Painting.

making border of madhubani painting2. Conceptualize the layout of the painting. Start with the main character and fill the remaining space later. Here, I have sketched Radha-Krishna first and then made tree, abstract peacock and fish in the given order. The idea is that abstract patterns should support the main theme. Since its Radha-Krishna, adding peacock and fish made sense. Peacock is the symbol of romance and fish stands for fertility, good luck and devotion.

madhubani painting sketching Radhe krishna

3.Repeated patterns are made to add detailing as you can see in tree trunk or the way leaves are filled. There is no fixed rule to it and any pattern that blends well with the theme can be used. Border looked too simple so I added further detailing to it. As you must have understood no space is left blank and it should be filled with detailing.

Madhubani painting adding details

Since in this painting we are following Bharni style, we fill the painting with vibrant colors. While in Kachni style it’s mostly black and white with minimum use of colors. I am biased towards Bharni style as it is more colorful and bright.

4. While filling the colors, first decide the background color and then choose the foreground colors. When background color creates contrast with the foreground colors it makes painting more appealing. Choice of colors is very crucial. So, get yourself familiarized with color-wheel to know more about color combinations.

Madhubani painting filling background color5. Once done with background color, I infuse bright colors in foreground. When in doubt, start with adding obvious colors. Like tree trunk will be brown and leaves will be green, skin tone of Radha and Krishna, peacock will again be in shade of blue. After this it will be easy to visualize and choose other colors.

Madhubani painting adding colors6. You can leave the background as filled with single color but Madhubani painting is all about intricate patterns. So I add repeated pattern with black color (shown below) and fine tip round brush all over the background.

Madhubani with Background PatternThe painting is complete and ready to be framed. Decorate your home or your workplace or you can even gift it to someone.

Madhubani Painting
Madhubani painting ready to be framed

There is nothing more special than gifting handmade gifts. Like I gifted my friend personalized name-plate as house warming gift and she really loved it.

I am flabbergasted when I see the works of acclaimed Madhubani artisits Bharti Dayal and Vidushini Pandit. They have taken the Madhubani Paintings to great heights and their efforts have made this folk art more popular.

If you are fond of mono color paintings. Have a look at one of mine black and white madhubani painting.

I don’t claim to be an expert. I am sharing here what I have learned and explained here in best possible manner.

I will keep updating this page if I feel anything else can be helpful too. If you think some information is missed or anything else can be mentioned here please bring it to my knowledge and I will update it.

Thanks for reading and do share your feedback as your viewpoint may help some other readers too.

Do visit and like Bhaili’s Facebook page to get regular updates. You can also find me on Pinterest. You may also subscribe to this blog by entering your email-id in EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION section (top of the right-hand column for desktop-readers and bottom of screen for mobile-readers).

Healthy Peanut Chikki

I thought why not make the first post of 2016 something sweet and healthy. Coincidentally, I made these peanut chikki’s  and these sweet things made the first entry here in the New Year.

Since childhood these peanut chikki’s or peanut brittle’s are my cherished treats. No doubt it’s liked by my daughter too. peanut chikkiAt home it’s prepared and kept in jars on dining table and too difficult to let go the urge of biting these crunchy chikki’s. Everyone of us at home get tempted and keep on munching them and it’s finished in no time. Requests for the next batch of crisp chikki start soon in the family.

There is no fix time to relish these brittle’s. Unlike desserts,  we nibble these sweet crumbly things at anytime of the day. These comes handy to satisfy late night hunger pangs. 🙂

These chikkis or jaggery bars are easy to make and healthy too. There are lots of benefits of having jaggery especially in winters. The inherent property of jaggery (according to Ayurveda) is warm thus it’s advisable to consume jaggery in winters. It provides warmth to our body and strengthens body immunity.

These chikkis are instant source of energy and are desi substitute for fancy energy bars. After running around my daughter the whole day, when I feel exhausted and need some energy then this peanut chikki gives me instant energy.

Ingredients:

  • Roasted peanuts: 250gm
  • Jaggery: 250gm
  • Water: ½ cup
  • Ghee for greasing

Procedure:

  • Roast the peanuts and remove the skin while they are warm, on cooling its little difficult to remove the skin. Crush them in halves.roasted peanuts
  • Heat the jaggery and water and make thick syrup. After 15 minutes you will notice syrup leaving the sides.Jaggery syrup
  • To check if syrup is ready, drop few drops of syrup in bowl of water. If the drops maintain their shape in water then it means syrup is ready and can be proceeded to the next step.Testing syrup
  • Add the crushed groundnuts in the syrup. Mix well and take off the flame.adding peanuts in syrup
  • Now it’s time to set chikki. Grease the kitchen counter with ghee and spread the mixture on it. Be careful as the mixture will be quite hot. It can also be set in greased plates. Choose the option you find convenient.transfer to set
  • Now with the help of rolling pin flatten the semi-liquid melt.shaping chikki
  • Let it cool and give impression with knife. Break into pieces after cooling. cutting chikkiFinally store it in air-tight container and enjoy it till it last. You will be surprised how quickly it disappears!

You can add nuts of your choices apart from peanut like cashew, pistachio or almonds to make nutty brittle. Process remains the same. Do share with me which is your favorite jaggery chikki or brittle.