Tag Archives: Baklava

Let’s Jam With Rose Flavors, Shall we?

I absolutely love the flavors of rose water, honey, pistachio and saffron. They are present in abundant doses in one of my all time favorite desserts, Baklava. But it was the spotting of Gulkand or rose jam, the omnipresent ingredient in the mouth refresher paan, that triggered the thought of creating this recipe. It is a muffin that has all these flavors, except it can be eating at breakfast and tea time with some soothing mint tea.

I started with one of my favorite jam muffin recipes from @seriouseats and modified it to its middle eastern/Indian relative. The original recipe can be found here. https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/03/bread-baking-jam-muffins-recipe.html

Here’s my variation.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 heaped tsp cardamom powder
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup gulkand or rose jam (I used Super Tower Gulkand from the Indian store)
  • 2 tbsps toasted pistachio nuts
  • 3 strands of saffron
  • 1 heaped tbsp granulated sugar

How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a 12 muffin pan with paper liners.

2. Toast the pistachio nuts and crush with saffron and granulated sugar in a mortar and pestle till it is a coarse mixture. Set aside.

3. Whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, and cardamom and set aside.

4. Mix the milk, oil, egg, and honey well and pour this into the flour mixture, folding gently till the ingredients are combined.

5. Swirl the gulkand into this mixture with a fork.

6. Divide the batter into the muffin cups.

7. Top with the pistachio nut mix and tap down slightly.

8. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees and continue baking (without opening the door or taking out the muffins) for another 8 minutes. The muffins are done when the tops are brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

Enjoy with hot mint tea!

Baklava – A Little Piece Of Happiness In Every Layer

By Lakshmi:

Baklava – The very word conjures up beautiful images in my mind.

– Delicate layers of flaky phyllo dough encasing a filling of sweetened nuts drizzled with a sugar/honey syrup flavored with cardamom or orange blossom

– The joy on people’s faces as they savor their first bite followed by the myriad of expressions that follow on discovering the filling and the melding of flavors.

– The little crumbs sticking over your lips and potentially clothing, making you a bit angry that you could not eat more neatly and yet you have no regrets over devouring something so sinful.

– The excuse to have yet another cup of your favorite beverage (coffee) to balance your palate

Ok…how’s that for waxing eloquence on one of my favorite desserts?

Since its debut in the 8th century BC in ancient Assyrian civilization, more people have fought over rights to creating Baklava than patent contests in the modern world.  Regardless of  its origin, we know that it is a dessert enjoyed with a cup of coffee in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Armenia, Egypt and more.

Since my very first bite at Lebanese Taverna in the Washington DC area, discovering the varieties of Baklava around the world has been joyful.  The phyllo has been a staple, while the fillings have varied from walnut and pistachios to caramelized milk and more modern versions with chocolate.  I have had cab drivers from the Middle East argue the merits of their native Baklava, discrediting others as imitations and proving that the dish is worthy of national debate!

Favorite memories include savoring the dessert at Bacchus and Lebanese Taverna in the DC area, at Karakoy Gulluoglu in Istanbul, at a small unknown stall near Plaka in Athens, at a roadside eatery in Egypt….and the list goes on and on!

I am proud to claim that not only have I eaten my weight in Baklava during our global travels, but I have also experimented making it with success in my own kitchen.  And to many a naysayer who calls making Baklava a laborious process that’s not worth the calories, I retort and say, it’s pretty simple and totally worth it.

If you’d like to ever overcome your fears to try making Baklava, the simple illustration beautifully created by the website www.theydrawandcook.com should be all you need to get started.  Happy foraging for Baklava!

Baklava

Food – The Most Awesome Part of Global Travel

Pizza Love (Rome)

By Lakshmi:

Those who know me best understand that food is a core part of my existence. I am always thinking about my next meal. I read food/cooking/travel magazines cover to cover, virtually transporting myself from my couch to whichever part of the world is being covered. I have a collection of over 200 cookbooks from around the world! These cookbooks are not just objects of adornment, but ones that have bent pages and food stains from regularly trying out new dishes. One of my greatest joys in life is eating a new dish somewhere in the world and trying to recreate it through memory and taste in my own kitchen.

While I could dedicate post after post to each dish sampled, I want to list here six dishes I would have never known about without our travels. Foods that I have now formed a life long bond with.

  1. Imam Bayildi: The Turkish dish of eggplant, garlic, onions and tomatoes which was so divine and had so much olive oil that it made a frugal Imam faint. My first exposure to this dish was in a small Turkish restaurant in Saarbrucken, Germany and was the commencement of a love affair with Turkish cuisine.
  2. Tempura: The most delicate tempura I tasted was in Tokyo, where I was presented with a single, large, basil leaf fried in batter that formed an intricate lattice. I was afraid to break this work of art with my chop sticks. There have been countless oily, soggy tempuras since then, but none to match the flawless, melt-in-your-mouth taste of the one in Tokyo.
  3. Baklava: Istanbul, Cairo, Athens all have introduced me to their own special brands of baklava. From pistachios to walnuts to sweetened condensed milk, the varied stuffings have all been a gift to the palate.
  4. Gelato: Till my first trip to Milan, I had never really had authentic gelato, and once I had my first scoop (actually multiple scoops) at Rivareno, there was no settling for insipid, uninspiring ice cream!
  5. Roti Canai: For an Indian, rotis are everyday homely food. But in Penang, as I savored the flaky, multilayered roti, calories did not matter. Every morsel was an indulgence.
  6. Injera Bread and Vegetables: We sampled this Ethiopian delicacy not in Africa, but at Meskerem, that temple of Ethiopian cooking in Adams Morgan in Washington DC. Was it the similarity to Indian cuisine? Was it the communal eating? Or was it the delicious injera with the veggies and berbere sauce that made for a divine experience?

We would love to hear about your favorite foods! Being vegetarians, we are particularly curious about the ones we can sample as well:)