Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Date, Coconut and Cocoa Bites (With a Sugar free option)

My R masi is my inspiration for trying out new recipes. She always has a new recipe to share when I call and now in the Whatsapp age, she never fails to send photos of her dishes.

She had made these date, coconut and cocoa bites for Raksha Bandhan and it was a hit with everyone. I made these for Diwali. Here's her recipe...


1 cup tightly packed chopped dates
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (to make it sugar free, see notes below)
1 tablespoon ghee

Heat ghee in thick bottomed pan. Add the dates and cook for 8-10 minutes till the dates become a smooth lump. Add the cocoa and sugar and mix well. Cook for another minute and add the coconut. Quickly mix into the date mixture and after a minute, put it off the heat. 

Line a chopping board or any flat surface with a cling film. Put the lump in a tube form and form into a roll with the help of the film. Cut into discs and let them cool. Finally roll the sides in coconut. 


You can store it in the refrigerator upto 1 week
Use good quality Omani dates which are sweeter and have more moisture in them
If you want to make it sugar free, add 2 tablespoons more dates 
You can add nuts to this mix as well 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rose flavoured Karachi Halwa

My mother used to make this for Diwali when she was young. It's quick and easy and for me, a recipe to continue tradition. Typically it's made with a cardamom or kewra flavouring but I picked rose. It's a keeper!


1 cup Corn flour
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Ghee
5-7 Sliced Almonds
2 drops Rose essence
2-3 drops Pink colour 

Mix the corn flour with 1 1/2 cup of water while whisking. Make sure there are no lumps. 
Add about 1/2 cup of water to the sugar and heat till it just dissolves. 
Mix the corn flour and sugar syrup. Cook this in a non-stick or thick bottom pan on a low heat while stirring. In about 15 minutes, it will start to thicken. Add ghee at this time and continue to cook till all the ghee is absorbed in the halwa. Add the colour and essence and cook for 2-3 minutes more. It will be a thick mass now. Taste a little bit, it should not taste floury. Place this into a greased container and level. Press down the almond slivers while it is still hot. It will harden once it cools down. You can refrigerate it to cool it. Cut into squares and serve. Store in an air-tight container upto a week. 

I found that I was not fast enough to have all the almonds placed in the halwa before it cooled. As a result a lot of nuts came off the sweet. To avoid this, mix in the almonds when you add the colour and flavouring. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Date and Walnut Cake (Eggless)

What cake makes you feel good about eating it? I know its a death by chocolate cake but which one is healthy? Yes! A date and walnut one. Iron, Potassium, Vitamin A and fiber from dates, and Vitamin E, Omega -3 fatty acids and Iron from Walnuts. And its easy bake even for a novice baker. Originally baked with all purpose flour, I have baked it with half whole wheat four and half all purpose flour with good results. The picture above is for the half whole wheat version.


2 cups All purpose flour (maida)
3/4th cup (200 grams) condensed milk
125 grams butter, salted (if using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
15-18 pieces dates
1 cup walnuts
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chop the dates into small pieces and soak them in lukewarm milk for half and hour. Chop the walnuts and coat them in one tablespoon of the flour (out of the two cups of flour).

Preheat an oven to 200 degrees F. Prepare a loaf pan by applying a thin coat of butter on the bottom and sides. Next take a tablespoon of flour and roll it around the pan so the bottom and sides are well coated. shake off the excess flour. 

In a large bowl, beat the condensed milk and butter together for 2 minutes. Mix in the milk and dates mixture and the vanilla along with the sugar. Mix well.

In another bowl, sift together the flour and the baking powder and soda. Fold this in to the wet mix. When all the flour is added, fold in the walnuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. To check if done insert a toothpick in the center, it it is clean the cake is done. Else bake for additional time. I used a aluminium pan, silicon mould will need more time and a dark pan will need less time. The cake will also have a beautiful browned top.

Serve warm with coffee. Or drizzle with some chocolate sauce and have as dessert.


Make mini muffins, baking for 12 minutes
Make muffins, baking for 20 minutes

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mexican Casserole

Mexican food is always a hit with my family. Fajitas, burrito bowls, quesadillas... This one is a mix of all those lovely tastes in three layers - the sweet onions and peppers, spicy beans and cheesy cilantro rice. Serve it with salsa and chips on the side and it's an easy weeknight dinner or a dinner party dish.


1/2 cup Mexican Cheese Blend or processed Cheese 

First layer:

2 cups red, yellow and green bell peppers, julienned
1 large onion, julienned
1 teaspoon oil
Black pepper

Second layer:

1 cup raw kidney beans
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
3-4 cloves garlic
Black pepper

Third layer:

3/4 cup rice
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 green chilies
1 cup coriander leaves
2 tablespoons grated cheese (optional or halved)
Black pepper

Soak the kidney beans overnight. Boil in a pressure cooker adding a teaspoon of salt. Give it 3-4 whistles. The beans should be soft when cooked but not mushy. Save the water in which the beans were cooked. Cool. 

Soak the rice in water for 20 minutes. Then cook the rice till done. I boil 2 times the amount of water in a pot and add the soaked rice with some salt. Bring to a boil on high and cover till the steam comes out of the rice.  

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C ~ 400 degrees F.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for about 7-8 minutes on medium flame. Add salt and black pepper and sauté for another minute. The onions and peppers should be cooked but still slightly firm. Keep aside.

In the same pan, heat the oil, add cumin seeds and when they crackle, add the tomato and onions. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the boiled kidney beans. Add the taco seasoning and cook for 5-7 minutes. Adjust for salt and add black pepper, as spicy to you like it. If the beans feel too dry add a little cooked water. 

In a stockpot, add oil and flour and cook the flour till it changes color. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes till it becomes slightly thicker. Let the white sauce cool a little. In a blender add the washed coriander, chilies, salt and black pepper along with the white sauce. Blend into a uniform sauce. Add cheese and mix. Check and adjust for salt. Add this sauce to the cooled rice. Mix with a light hand. 

To Assemble:

Layer the onions and peppers at the bottom. Next layer the beans. Finally top with the rice. Add grated Mexican cheese (Mexican blend containing cheddar, monterey jack, queso, colby or asadero) or grated processed cheese on top. 

Bake for 15 minutes till the cheese melts. Serve hot with chips and salsa

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