Monday, March 26, 2012

Something sweet , something spicy

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We ushered in the marathi new year this last weekend. "Gudi Padwa" as it is locally called in the state of Maharashtra is of the most auspicious days in the Hindu Calender.
Wish you all a very happy gudi padwa !! May the coming year brings you lots of good times !!
Lets begin the new year on a sweet note, with a generous helping of shrikhand.
Last year or so I posted my recipe for Amrakhand. I got such lovely emails after that post that I could not not post the equally delicious"Shrikhand" . After several attempts I think i have finally learned to make soft, light and fluffy shrikhand.
I make my shrikhand from my scratch. There are 2 reasons - Firstly because there is no place that offers thick yogurt(no Chitales and Kaka Halwais here) .Greek yogurt is an option but that is Greek. And second, more importantly store bought yogurt does not have that slight sour taste that homemade one has.

On to the recipe :-

(Makes 6 generous servings)

3/4 G of Whole milk (preferably organic)
2 heaped tsp of cardamom powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
hefty pinch of saffron mixed in 3-4 tbsp of warm milk
2 tbsp of yogurt culture to set yogurt (see *tip below)

Setting the yogurt :-
  • Pour the milk into 1 or more microwavable glass bowls.I use my pyrex or corning ware for this.
  • Microwave the milk until thick cream layer forms at the top. About 6 min with a break of 5 min after every 3 min.
  • Cool the milk until you can easily hold a finger in milk for 2-3sec. Mixture should be warm not boiling hot. High temperatures can kill the yogurt culture and if its cold they will not multiply.
  • Mix about 2 tbsp of live yogurt culture into the milk and mix gently.
  • Turn on the oven light and put the bowl in there, preferably overnight. In winter warm the oven to 180 deg C and then turn it off and then put the bowl in there.
  • In the morning switch off the light and move the bowl to the fridge where it will thicken further.
  • Tie the yogurt in a muslin cloth or a cotton napkin. Hang it as shown in this post so that water drains out. This thick yogurt will be the base of our "Shrikhand".
* Tip - The regular yogurt in American stores do not have live yogurt culture. Try to get it from an indian store or better still from a neighborhood indian friend who makes yogurt.

To make the shrikhand :-
  • In the thickened yogurt add about 1.5 C of sugar.
  • With a hand mixer beat the mixture for about 30s.If the mixture is too thick add a 2 tbsp of milk.
  • The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will loosen so do not add too much milk.
  • Add the cardamom,nutmeg and saffron and fold the mixture gently. Use a spatula if required.
  • Add coarsely crushed walnut, pistachios and serve chilled.
I used around 1.5C of white sugar. If you are using brown sugar that is coarse then run it in the food processor. That way it will dissolve faster.
We like our shrikhand a bit sour and sweet. Increase quantity of sugar by another 1/2 C for more sweeter shrikhand.
Though this recipe  appears time consuming its actually really simple provided you plan ahead. I start almost 4 days in advance and this is the way I plan it.
Day 1 - Set yogurt at night
Day 2 - In the morning transfer the bowls into refrigerator
Day 2 - At night hang the yogurt into a muslin cloth
Day 3 - Make shrikhand in the morning/evening.

Shrikhand can easily be refrigerated for almost a week. Traditionally its scooped up with fluffy pooris, a side of batata bhaji and crispy bhajis (Fritters).

This year I skipped the traditional side of Potato bhaji for this Palakwali Dal. The recipe is from Sanjeev Kapoor's book "How to Cook Indian". 

Palakwali Dal
( Recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor's "How to cook Indian ?")

2 handfuls of fresh spinach chopped
1/4 C + 1/8 C of mung dal washed and set aside
1 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of hing
salt to taste

For the tempering
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp of ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 medium onion chopped
2 green chillies slit in the centre
2 dry red chillies
1/2 tomato chopped

oil to saute
1 tbsp of lemon juice

  • Over medium heat combine mung dal with 3C of water. Add turmeric and salt. Allow to boil and then simmer for until dal is soft but not completely mashed. This takes around 20min.
  • In a saute pan, heat 4-5 tbps of oil/ghee. Add the red and green chillies, cumin, ginger - garlic paste, onion  and saute till onion is soft. Add the tomato and cook further.
  • Add this tempering to the dal. Check for salt and add more if required.
  • Allow to come to a boil.
  • To serve top with lemon juice and some more ghee.
  • Serve with rotis or with steamed rice.
Honestly I did not expect much from this recipe with very simple ingredients. But I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how soothing it was to the body and mind. Loved it all the way and now am waiting to try other recipes from the book. Will keep you posted !

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