Posts Tagged ‘indian’

Gulab Jamun

October 27, 2011

I’m about to tell you about this recipe where just 1 of the ingredients takes 3 hours to make.

Hello?  Is anyone still out there?

Let me back up.  Happy Diwali!  Diwali may mean fireworks and candles and new beginnings to some folk.  To me it means, make all the food you can…from scratch.  No shortcuts for Diwali; only the most traditional.  So I picked my favorite Indian sweet, that was decidedly the most time consuming to make, cleared my schedule for the day, made it, devoured it, and wished that I had made another batch of the 3 hour ingredient, because we all wanted more.  So I made it again the next day.  Because it’s Diwali, after all.

Don’t you worry, friends.  I’ll give you a short cut recipe for when you do try this.  Because you should most definitely try this.  Think of this as reversed doughnuts: an unsweetened dough dropped in a sugar syrup with a hint of rose and saffron, in order for it to get all soaked up, served warmed.  Sounds divine, doesn’t it?  Make the short cut version – it will be tasty, I’m sure.  But try the real deal during Diwali – it’s supposed to be that way.  A very happy new year to all!

Gulab Jamun (adapted from here)

As much as cardamom is considered an Indian spice, and even though I love it in my spice cookies and breads, I don’t really care for it in my Indian sweets.  But if you prefer that punch, add 1/4 tsp cardamom powder to the dough and knead it in.

For the shortcut version, use dry milk powder instead of the mawo.  Mix the dry ingredients together and then gradually add milk until a dough forms.  You can follow the remaining instructions after that.

1 batch mawo (recipe to follow)

1 cup all purpose flour

scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda

ghee, oil, or a mix for frying

1-2 teaspoons rose water

5-6 strands saffron

3 cups sugar

2 cups water

Knead together the mawo, flour and baking soda (and cardamom, if using) until the dough is completely smooth.  Form tablespoon-size balls.  Roll each ball until it’s completely smooth – no cracks should be on the surface of these balls.  Heat ghee or oil until it reaches 350 degrees.  Fry the dough balls, about 4-5 at a time, until they are golden brown.  Drain on a paper towel.

Combine the sugar and water in a medium pot.  Heat on medium heat until sugar is completely melted and dissolved.  Turn the heat to low and add the rose water and saffron.  Turn heat off.

Add the fried dough to the pot with the sugar syrup.  Transfer everything to a serving bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, to let the dough soak the sugar.  You can serve this at room temperature, or slightly warmed.

Mawo (recipe from here)

1/2 gallon whole milk

Heat the milk, in a non-stick pan over medium high heat.  Stir occasionally until it comes to a boil, and then turn the heat to low/medium-low.  Keep an eye on the milk as it thickens.  It will need a stir every 20 minutes or so, to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, or burn.  Eventually, after about 2 hours, there will be minimal liquid left.  Keep stirring until you have a very dry mixture.

It will start by looking like this:

And will end, about 3.5 hours later, looking like this:


Ghughra (Happy Diwali!)

November 11, 2010

What could have possibly kept me away from my blog for this amount of time??  Well, celebrating Diwali in India, of course!  (well, that, and some pretty unreliable internet).

Growing up, Diwali never carried much significance in our household.  I would be fascinated by my parents’ stories of celebrating the new year in India with fireworks, and huge amounts of sweets and snacks, and hearing about the customs and traditions.  But celebrating Diwali in such a grand way in this part of the world seemed so far-fetched.  I wanted to relive the stories that my parents told me.  So…naturally…I went to India.

Diwali is the festival of LIGHTS!  It’s the new year!  It is supposed to be festive and colorful and loud and happy!  So this year, I got all of that, and more, by celebrating in India with my extended family.  Besides doing several designs of rangoli, and shooting bigger fire crackers than I would ever imagine for the 4th of July, we made many treats!  My favorite being the almond and cardamom scented pastry called ghughra.  The one that we made uses a traditional ingredient called mawa, which is difficult to find in the States.  I’ve included a recipe that uses a more readily available dried fruits – though equally delicious.

I’m not going to fool you about this one: it’s a tough recipe.  Just look at my attempt at the folded pastry below (mine’s the one on the right, if you can’t tell).  My grandmother shot me looks of disapproval as I tried to help with this process.  But it doesn’t matter!  Just make sure you seal the pastries completely, and I guarantee that the taste will outdo the look.

Moving from one food holiday to another, I’m now back at home preparing my list of Thanksgiving recipes, but until then, Happy New Year!

Ghughra (recipe adapted from here)
Ingredients for the stuffing

  • 1/2 cup dry coconut
  • 1 cup of coarsely ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped figs
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom

Ingredients for the outer crust

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ghee, clarified butter, or butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons of water

For dough: Combine the flour, ghee and salt in a bowl.  Work the ghee into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Sprinkle water onto the crumbly dough and with your hands push the dough from the sides to the middle of the bowl to form a ball that holds together. Be careful to add only little water at a time, and not allowing the dough to become soggy.  Knead well with our hands until the dough becomes into a firm ball of dough.  Put aside, covered, ensuring that the dough does not dry out.

For stuffing: Combine all the ingredients for the stuffing until all the ingredients hold together. Divide the stuffing mixture into 20 equal portions.

To assemble: Divide the dough into 20 equal portions as well.  Roll out each portion into a 3 inch diameter circle.  Place a portion of the stuffing in the bottom half of the circle.  Fold the disc over into a half-moon shape and seal the edges, ensuring that the stuffing has not seeped out.  Twist the sealed edge, from one end to the other, for a fluted edge.

Repeat with the remaining dough and stuffing portions.

Fry ghughras in batches of 4-5 for about 4 minutes, flipping mid way.  The ghughras should be golden brown in color.

Welcome! (and so many cupcakes!)

June 22, 2010

I’ve had this blog for 2 months now.  I keep thinking that I know what I want my first blog post to be about, but it’s either not interesting enough, or yummy enough, or not significant enough to be my first blog post.  I had so many reasons not to post.

But then.  Then something happened that basically screamed “1st blog post!!”  That something was cupcakepalooza.

Let me back up.  First of all, this is not the most typical food blog.  To really get the gist of what I’m trying to do, please go to the About Me section.  Any input would be tremendous.

Second of all, cupcakepalooza?  What is that?  Well, my wonderful cousin was having a pretty smashin huge birthday party and I (crazily, stupidly?) volunteered to make the cake.  For 200 people.  In New Jersey.

To try out the cupcake flavors beforehand, and to weed out the favorite flavors, I decided that I needed to have a cupcake party (i.e. cupcakepalooza) for some taste testing.  To get some Indian flavors in the mix, I made some chai latte cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream, vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose buttercream, pistachio cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream and mango cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting in addition to the dark chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting and lemon blueberry cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

I then asked about 30 of my closest friends to come over to try and comment on all of the flavors.  As it turned out, the chai cupcakes were a favorite.  No changes were necessary for that cake, and it made the cut for the party.  As for the others, the helpful comments included “couldn’t really taste the pistachio….or the white chocolate” for the surprisingly enough, pistachio white chocolate cupcakes, “tastes very rosy – but I don’t really know what rose is supposed to taste like,” for the vanilla buttermilk rose cupcakes, and “SO GOOD!” for the lemon blueberry cupcakes.

Taking these helpful and constructive comments into consideration, I decided to change the chocolate cupcakes to include a dark chocolate frosting for the chocolate lovers, and then take it completely in an Indian direction for the rest of the cupcakes – vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose syrup buttercream, mango cupcakes with mango cream cheese frosting, and chai cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream.

It seemed that most people thought that the light marshmallow frosting on top of the denser chocolate cupcake left a bit of an imbalance.  Though, overall, the chocolate cupcake was a winner – and every cupcake party should have at least one chocolate feature.  The mango cupcake was also well liked overall, but lacked some mango flavor.  To pump up the volume, I tripled the amount of mango that I put into the actual cake, while also adding some pureed mango into the cream cheese frosting.  The rose also needed a bit more punch.  I had a hard time deciding between using rose water and rose flavored syrup in the frosting, while keeping a vanilla buttermilk base.  The rose water was the only thing I used for the cupcake tasting, mostly because I thought that there would be a sweetness overload if I had used the syrup.  But even though it could be slightly detected, there wasn’t a strong enough rose flavor.  For the birthday party, I decided to use both.  Rose water in the actual cupcake batter and rose flavored syrup in the buttercream.

The party?  It was a success.  The transporting, the last minute frosting, the dependency on the arrival of a cupcake tier – all very stressful, but definitely worth it at the end.  And, if nothing else, it inspired my first of many blog posts.

I do hope that you come back here periodically to see what I’ve been cooking.  I look forward to having you.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake)

Yield: About 30 cupcakes


2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

3. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Dark Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate frosting)

Yield: Enough to lightly frost 30 cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.

2. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed.

3. Stir in vanilla.

Mango Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)
Yield: A lot of cupcakes – 40, maybe?


4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of pureed mangoes (I used fresh Alphonso mangoes – delish)
8 egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup milk


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and mango puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk to blend.  Blend until soft peaks form.  Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition. Scoop into liners – filling until about 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake the cupcakes for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Mango Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Lots o’ frosting.  We had quite a bit leftover after frosting the 40 cupcakes liberally


8 ounces unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (depending on how sweet the mangoes are)

¾ cup pureed mango


1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.

2. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in pureed mango.

Vanilla Rose Buttermilk Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)

Yield: About 48 cupcakes


3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons rose water


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, rose water and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition.

4. Fill each liner about half way (they really tend to rise).  Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Rose Syrup Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to frost half of the vanilla rose buttermilk cupcakes


2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1/4 cup rose flavored syrup


1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.

Chai Latte Cupcakes (directly from Happiness in a Pot)

Yield: 12 cupcakes


1 cup soy milk or rice milk

4 black tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose black tea)

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup vanilla or plain soy yogurt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon ground white or black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin pan with paper or foil liners
2. Heat soy milk in a small saucepan over medium till almost boiling. Add tea bags,
cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. When ready, dunk teabags a few
times in soy milk and squeeze gently to extract any soy milk before removing.
Discard tea bags. Measure the soy milk and tea mixture and add more soy milk if it is
less than 1 cup.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and tea mixture until all
yogurt lumps disappear. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,
cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Mix until large lumps disappear; some small
lumps are okay.
4. Pour into liners, filling ¾ of the way. Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted
into the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.

Cinnamon Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to liberally frost 12 cupcakes


2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1.5 tsp cinnamon


1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.