Ukdiche Modak

Modak is an Indian sweet popular in states of Maharashtra, Goa and Kokan region. It’s called “Ukdiche Modak” because in Marathi “Ukad” means “to steam”. Also known in Gujarati as  modhaka, modhakam in Kannada,  kozhakkattai in Tamil and kudumu in Telugu. One of the favourite religious dishes of Lord Ganesha and so is offered in prayers. During the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, 21 or 101 modaks are offered as “Prasad” to Lord Ganesha at the end of prayers. The  dough is made of rice flour and hot water and the filling is made up of freshly grated coconut and jaggery.

Video Link:

Ingredients:

1 cup jaggery

1 cup shredded coconut

½ tsp cardamom powder

2-3 strands of saffron

4-5 pcs cashew bits

Salt to taste

2 tsp oil/clarified butter/ghee

1 cup rice flour

1 cup water

Note: If you are offering Modaks to God do not taste until offered to God.

Directions:

Dough:

In a pot boil 1 cup water. When water starts boiling, turn the flame low, add 1tsp oil/ ghee/ clarified butter and rice flour and mix. Remove in a bowl and keep aside. Knead it well (when the dough is still warm) and make sure there are no lumps in the dough. Divide in 

Filling:

In a pan add 1tsp oil/ghee/clarified butter. When the oil is warm add shredded coconut (Make sure coconut does not turn brown). Saute for 2 minutes and then add chopped jaggery (chop into small bits, it will take less time to melt). Add cardamom powder and saute on medium flame for 2-3 minutes. Add saffron in 1 tbsp warm water and add it in the pan. Mix well. Make sure that the stuffing is not too dry as it solidifies after cooling. Sprinkle water if needed. Remove from heat once all jaggery is melted. Keep aside to cool down.

Assembling Modaks:

Make small balls of the dough. Make sure there are no cracks in the balls. Take oil/ghee/clarified butter in a bowl. Take a ball and flatten it in disc shape. Apply ghee to hands when needed. Place a couple of tsp of filling in between and press the edges as shown in the video. Join all the edges together. 

Steam:

Place a wet cloth in the steamer. Place modaks and steam on low temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Remove and Serve with Ghee/Clarified butter and Coconut Milk. 

Stuffed Poached Pear

It’s said that it is not a real meal if it doesn’t end with desserts. French cookbooks did not exactly feature desserts but instead they had recipes of “Entremets” which means “Intervals”, dishes that were served between larger courses that could be sweet or savory. Back in the ancient civilizations people used to have fruits and nuts candied with honey.  Desserts today have become popular because of culinary experiments and technology. The recipe I am sharing today is motivated from my culinary journey. Hope you enjoy it and share your reviews.

Ingredients:

2 pears

½ cup chocolate chips

75 ml heavy cream

2 cups water

2 ½ cups sugar (2 cups for poaching and half cup for making caramel bits)

½ inch cinnamon stick

½ cup white wine

1 tsp oil (for ganache)

Directions

Syrup:

In a pot add water, sugar, white wine and cinnamon stick and let it simmer for 5 mins on medium flame.

Pears:

Peel the pear. Using a corer, core the pears (keep the steam as it looks more presentable) and place it into the syrup pot and cook it until it’s 80% done. Remove and refrigerate for 1-2 hours (You don’t want to cook the pear through as the heat trapped in the pear will cook the pear as it cools down). Refrigerate.

Ganache:

On a medium flame heat some water in a pot (you will place a bowl on top of the pot, so make sure the water does not touch the pot).

In another pan bring heavy cream to simmer, remove from heat and keep aside.

Place the chocolate chips in a stainless-steel bowl and place the bowl on top of the pot. When the chocolate chips are melted add the heavy cream and mix with a whisk. Add 1 tsp oil (it will give the ganache a silky texture). Refrigerate half of the ganache for half hour and leave the other half out (after it cools down it will solidify which will make it easy to pipe it into pears, while the one at room temperature will be used for plating). Yes, I know the velvety ganache has made you excited, but now comes the important part of making caramel bits, stuffing the pear and plating.

Caramel Bits:

In a pan take half cup of sugar and heat it on medium flame. When the sugar starts melting swirl it so it doesn’t burn on isolated spots and turns into light amber colour take it off the heat (keep an eye on the pan as once the sugar starts turning into colour, it will darken very fast). Pour it on a sheet pan and let it cool.

Once it cools down, break into large pieces and place it in a plastic bag and crush it using a rolling pin.

Stuffing the Pear:

Fill the piping bag with ganache and stuff the pear with the ganache. Refrigerate

Plating:

On a plate, put a tablespoon of ganache on the middle of the plate. Slightly tap it with a spoon (it will make a great presentation for your dessert. Pipe some whipping cream on top of ganache and place stuffed pear on top of whipping cream. Sprinkle caramel chunks and serve.

Bengali Rasgulla

Rasgulla also known as rassogolla/roshogolla/rasbari, is an Indian Dessert made of “Chenna” (an Indian cottage cheese) dough, which is cooked in light sugar syrup flavoured with cardamom and saffron. A Famous British chef William Harold defined it as “a bowl of sweet, syrupy, soft cheese balls”. The dish originated in East India, present day Odisha and West Bengal. Its still unclear which place it originated, as Odisha government says it originated in Puri Jagannath temple. According to Historians rasgulla was evolved from “Khira Mohana” which was later known as “Pahala Rasgulla” which is brown in colour. Meanwhile West Bengal has its numerous theories on evolution of Rasgulla.  Whether it originated from Odisha or West Bengal everyone loves it and it is one the game changers, and people do their best – to eat it!!

Ingredients:

2 litres of high fat milk

100 ml water

1 tblsp of vinegar

1 cup white sugar

5 cups water

A pinch of saffron

5-6 cardamom pods

A muslin cloth (to drain water)

Tip: You can use lemon juice instead of vinegar and water mixture, if you don’t have vinegar.

Direction:

In a glass mix water and vinegar and keep aside

Take a pot and bring milk to boil. When milk starts to boil turn off the heat. Now add the water and vinegar mixture and mix with a wooden spoon.

Once the milk curdles, strain it wash it for couple of times with cold water, so the vinegar smell is washed away and tie it in a muslin cloth for 5-6 hours. Make sure you remove all the excess water, or you won’t be able to make dough without adding flour or semolina. After most of the water is drained what you have left is “Chenna” or “paneer”

Mash the chenna until all the lumps are broken down and a dough is formed. Break the dough into 18 equal portions (make sure you make small chenna balls as they will increase in size 3 times almost) and roll them into balls (there shouldn’t be any cracks on the chenna balls, or they will break while cooking) and keep aside.

Chenna Dough
Chenna Balls

Now take a pot and add sugar, water and cardamom pods, bring it to a boil. When the syrup starts boiling add the chenna balls into the pot close with lid and let it cook for 7-8 minutes on high flame.

After 7-8 minutes take the lid off and flip the rasgulla’s and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Put half the saffron in the liquid so it will infuse all the flavor. Cool down and Refrigerate.

Put Rasgulla’s in a bowl garnish with saffron.

Gajar Halwa (Carrot Pudding)

Gajar Halwa or as called in Punjab “Gajrela” is a popular north Indian sweet dessert pudding made mostly during winters (carrots season). Now a days you will find it all year round but usually it is made in winters using ghee (clarified butter), full fat milk, Sugar/condensed milk or jaggery (healthy option) garnished with nuts and raisins.

Ingredients:

500 gms grated red carrots

3 cups whole milk

3 tbsp ghee or clarified butter

7-8 tbsp sugar or 100gms jaggery or small can of condensed milk

1 tsp green cardamom powder

7-8 cashew chopped

7-8 pistachio slivers

Handful raisins

A pinch of saffron strands (optional)

Directions:

Grate carrots and keep aside. In a hot pot add ghee, when ghee is hot, carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes on medium flame. Make sure carrots don’t turn brown.

Add milk, saffron, green cardamom powder and cook carrots on medium flame until milk is evaporated and start’s forming milk solids. Now add sugar/jaggery /condensed milk and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until all milk is evaporated.

Garnish with pistachio slivers, chopped cashews and raisins

Serve Hot with Vanilla Ice cream or cold.