delish Gulab Jamuns

Gulab Jamuns are one of my favorite Indian desserts.  The sugar syrup-soaked deep fried balls made with a milk/flour dough with a hint of saffron and cardamom may be too sweet for some, but for me, it is the perfect dessert served by itself or with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.  For years, I used the mix made by Gits, a famous Indian instant food brand.  But once my aunt taught me how to make these, there was no looking back.  The recipe is foolproof, it turns out the perfect Gulab Jamuns each time and each person that has tried these wants the recipe promptly.  So, here’s how I make my favorite sweet and if you do give this a try, I’d love to get your feedback.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk powder
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk (I use it straight from the fridge, but it can be at room temperature)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • A strand of saffron, crushed
  • Oil for deep frying (I used vegetable oil)

How to:

1. Mix the milk powder, flour, baking soda, ghee, and the tbsp of sugar.  Add the milk slowly and mix the ingredients into a dough that is nice and moist and not dry.  Hold back some of the milk if your dough has already come together nicely.  Cover this mixture with plastic wrap and set aside for three hours.

2. After three hours, pinch off little balls of dough and make into smooth balls about 1 cm in diameter.  Continue to make these balls, placing each one on a plate, ensuring they are not sticking to one another.

3.. When all the dough balls are made, heat enough oil to deep fry the balls.  Test the oil temperature by dropping a little piece of dough.  When it rises to the top immediately, you are ready to fry the balls.  Fry the balls in batches, turning them gently till they are evenly golden brown.  Transfer to a plate set up with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

4.  Now make the sugar syrup.  Take the 3 cups of sugar in a large flat bottomed pan, add four cups of water, and bring the mixture to a boil.  This takes about 20 minutes.  Now add the saffron and cardamom, give it a swirl, and reduce the heat to low.

5.  Now add the fried balls to the sugar syrup, gently tapping it into the sugar syrup so it can absorb the liquid.  Set aside for 30 minutes and then serve warm or cold, either by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tahini parathas – Where India meets the Middle East

I love parathas, the flaky, stuffed with anything, griddle cooked with generous amounts of ghee or oil flatbread. I’ve made it plain and with many a stuffing; but seeing a half a jar of tahini in my fridge, triggered an idea. What if I stuff the parathas with tahini and cook them with some toasted sesame seeds on top? Well, there was no waiting on my part as I got to work and created these flaky breads. In the words of my mom, they were melt in your mouth goodness!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups atta (I used this whole wheat flour from the Indian store)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Water to form dough
  • 1/2 cup Tahini (use the one that is smooth, where the oil does not separate such as Trader Joe’s organic Tahini or Sooms which is available on Amazon)
  • 2 tbsps toasted sesame seeds
  • Oil or butter to cook the flatbreads

How to:

1. Mix the atta, salt, and oil in a bowl, adding water and kneading till the dough comes together nicely and is smooth. I used my stand mixer for creating the dough.

2. Divide the dough into 1 inch balls. Take each ball on to a lightly floured board and spread it with a rolling pin into a medium sized circle (like a medium sized tortilla)

3. Spread a tsp of tahini all over the dough with your fingers and roll the circle gently into a rolled log.

4. Slowly circle the log into a coil, tucking ends under (see image below).

5. Take the snail shaped coil and spread into a medium sized tortilla on a lightly floured board. Gently press some toasted sesame seeds into the paratha.

6. Put the paratha onto a warm griddle, dribbling a tsp of oil all around it and cook till brown spots appear. Flip it to the other side and continue cooking till you see brown spots.

7. Remove from the griddle and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

8. Serve plain with a hot cup of tea, or eat with your favorite veggies.

Indulging in samosa cravings with a pie

Of course it had to hit when there was no easy way to fix it. I’m talking about the intense craving I had yesterday for samosas. All I wanted was the crisp crust and the melt in your mouth filling ASAP. But, I did not have the patience to order takeout or to make samosas from scratch. Staring at my freezer to see if I had any frozen samosas, I discovered a solitary roll of puff pastry waiting to be used. I also found half a cauliflower in my vegetable drawer. On went the oven and in less than an hour, I had a delicious fix that looked nothing like a samosa, but delighted the taste buds with mimicking the flavors.

Ingredients:

  • One sheet of frozen puff pastry roll, left on the counter to thaw for 40 minutes (I used one roll from a two pack of 17.3 oz dough from Pepperidge Farm)
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilis, finely chopped
  • 2 cups small cauliflower florets (about half a cauliflower for me)
  • 1 small potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • .5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped, for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 small cube of paneer, finely chopped, for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 springform pan (I used a 9 inch one) or a tray for baking the samosa
  • Parchment paper to prevent the base from sticking when baking

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add the onions and green chilis and sauté, stirring occasionally till the onions start turning brown. This took about ten minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, potato, salt, and turmeric powder to the onions, give the mixture a good toss and cook covered (give it a stir once or twice) till the cauliflower and potatoes are cooked and dry. The veggies should not turn mushy. This took about ten minutes for me on a medium flame.

4. Add the garam masala, mix well and set the mixture aside to cool a bit. It should feel warm to the touch.

5. Grease the springform pan or tray and line it with parchment paper.

6.Unroll the puff pastry dough and plop it on the pan or tray.

7. Mound the filling at the centre of the dough, and bring the dough from each side towards the centre leaving the filling exposed (see picture). It is okay to not have perfection here. All you want is the samosa filling to be encased partially in some yummy puff pastry filling.

8. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 30-40 minutes, till the puff pastry is a golden brown. Mine took 30 minutes.

9. Wait for ten minutes (this is the hardest part). Remove the base from the springform pan if using. Sprinkle the chili, cilantro, paneer, garnishing (if using) on the samosa pie. Slice into wedges and enjoy!

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