[for young chefs] Kheer in a jiffy

(jump to recipe)

Kheer is a classic Indian sweet pudding, made with all sorts of things, from vermicelli to rice, to wheat berries, to tapioca pearls – the flavors are as diverse as the different states of India that make it!

Vermicelli Kheer (shevai or semiya kheer) is one of those quick desserts that we make to celebrate things big and small: the traditional recipe involves cooking vermicelli (previously sautéed low and slow in ghee, or clarified butter) in warm milk, perfumed with cardamom, until the milk reduces to about half its original volume. Raisins are plumped up in more ghee, cashews fried in some more, and finally the entire saga of it all is topped with saffron (bloomed in a teaspoon or so of warm milk).

Continue reading “[for young chefs] Kheer in a jiffy”

Sweet Pongal (Sakkarai Pongal)

(jump to recipe)

Sakkarai Pongal is a rice and lentil pudding sweetened with jaggery, spiced with ground cardamom and tempered with cashews and raisins, a Tamil delicacy made for its eponymous festival, Pongal! This is the sweet variation of Ven Pongal, which is savory (tempered with cashews and black peppercorns), and usually made all year round.

It’s a warm, sweet and comforting pudding, and can be made as simple or as decadent as you prefer, simply by adding more ghee (clarified butter) and dry fruits and nuts. A friend of mine made this for Makar Sankrant/Pongal over a decade ago, and it still remains one of my favorite Indian desserts of all time!

Continue reading “Sweet Pongal (Sakkarai Pongal)”

Duo of Hot Chocolate

Quick and simple recipes to make really decadent White Hot Chocolate and regular Hot Chocolate! Follow along.

The past few months have been exceedingly busy – what with bringing this li’l guy into the world and everything – I haven’t had a whole lot of time to cook, let alone shoot and write up a post! We’ve been making lots of simple meals though, mostly of the hearty, one-pot variety, and given the constant time crunch, I’m learning so much about shortcuts and cooking in small bursts (hello, nap time!), I definitely have the desire to share more in this space.

So, I have made an executive decision to override pre-baby Zezoo, and from here on out, I’ll be sharing whatever I have! I may not have the prettiest pictures, or everything decked out in each one of my 11 identical pinch bowls, or the bandwidth to write cutesy backstories (who is reading those, anyway?), but I will allow myself to share less-than-perfect but still delicious fare!

Starting with these 2 hot chocolate recipes that I make around the holidays – I particularly love the white chocolate one because it is feels more festive to me than regular old hot chocolate. But don’t sleep on this regular hot chocolate below – the addition of cocoa powder and chopped bittersweet chocolate, especially with a pinch of sea salt, makes it totally drool-worthy! Bring on the marshmallows!

Continue reading “Duo of Hot Chocolate”

Tiranga Dhokla (Tricolor Savory Sponge Cake)

(jump to recipe)

Every year around January 26th and August 15th, depending on how many Indian people you know and follow, you may have noticed your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds bursting with the Indian tricolor of Saffron, White and Green, or  the “Tiranga” (“Tir” = three, “Ranga” = color). If you are not sure why, it’s because January 26th is India’s Republic Day and August 15th, it’s Independence Day! Flags are hoisted in every institution all over the country, and the tricolor waves proudly throughout the country in the hope of a more secular, open and better tomorrow for my motherland!

And, if you are obsessed with food as I am, you might see elaborate tricolor preparations all over your feed too – tricolor rice, desserts, parathas (flatbreads) and the like. I myself try to make something new each year; this past year I made Tricolor Dosas (rice and lentil crepes), and for 2019, I am applying the “Tricolor” filter to one of the India’s favorite snack, the Dhokla (pronounced Dhow-klaah).

Continue reading “Tiranga Dhokla (Tricolor Savory Sponge Cake)”

Easy and Wildly Inauthentic “Tilgul” (dairy-free, gluten-free sesame energy bites)

(jump to recipe)

Every other year or so I have attempted (and failed at) “Tilgul” – a sweet treat made with sesame seeds (“Til”), jaggery (“Gul”), coconut and a whiff of cardamom, sometimes rolled into balls (“Laddoos”), or formed into bars. There’s many different kinds too, with different levels of complexity (and corresponding failure rates). Some varieties are fudge-y and moist, while others are crunchy and almost brittle-like.

No matter the way, I find it tricky to make Tilgul at home especially with the variation in the jaggery available in the US. It seems to have a lower moisture content sometimes, and other times it liquifies too fast and hardens into a rock. It’s not that my Tilgul attempts have been complete disasters, but they haven’t been as perfect as they should be, or could be (unless you call dismantling it and eating it like granola with your cereal a success).

Continue reading “Easy and Wildly Inauthentic “Tilgul” (dairy-free, gluten-free sesame energy bites)”

Vegan Rose and Pistachio Cake

(jump to recipe)

As much as I love vegan cake recipes, many times they involve strange ingredients (like flax eggs instead of regular eggs, or things like tapioca starch, and so forth). It’s most likely my ignorance on the matter because folks make wonders with these things, but my problem with them is the fact that they are substitutions, and not organically vegan.

I usually draw the line at using an extra banana or two instead of eggs in a banana-based baked good, like a banana bread, or a double chocolate banana bread, or pancakes and waffles, but beyond that I don’t find it appealing at least at this point. Which is why I was so happy to find this inherently vegan cake recipe in a handout I got at a cooking class somewhere in the Caribbean, and then spotted a variation of it on smitten kitchen!

Continue reading “Vegan Rose and Pistachio Cake”