Making Gajar Halwa And The End Of March- Cooking #4

The end of March, for the last 10 years, meant the official beginning of the summer holidays for me. My final term exams would get over towards the end of March, but I don’t know why all of my friends and I definitively considered the 31st as the start of vacations. March 31st is also my dad’s birthday, and that has become like an event signifying the summer holidays for me.

Over the last 2 years, March 31st has also become a dreaded date for me, because all balance sheets are recorded on the 31st of March, the last day of the financial year. If you can’t tell already, I fucking hate accountancy.

But let’s not go there today. Today’s a great day! I’m gonna make Gajar Halwa or Carrot Halwa for my dad’s birthday. As an added bonus, I’m also gonna be alone at home while cooking! Which means complete solitude and no complaints about the volume of my Taylor Swift:)

I actually want to blog as I cook, so let’s see how that goes. (RIP to my laptop because I KNOW my clumsy ass will spill something on it.)

First up, of course, is the grating of carrots. Damn, that sounds ominous, like “Uproar of the crows” or something.

Grating all 8 carrots acted as a great substitute to arm day:)

Then I did something I thought I’d never do: use ghee in my cooking. Ghee, or clarified butter, is utter trash. But it’s necessary for this dish so I had to use it. It does taste tolerable in the Halwa though.

I roasted some dry fruits- almonds, cashews, and raisins in ghee before setting them aside.

I didn’t spill ghee anywhere! Yayy!!

In the remaining melted ghee in the pot, I added all the grated carrots and stirred it for a while until the ghee had mixed well with the carrots. Then I added about half a liter of milk(didn’t spill again yay!) and let it boil while stirring occasionally.

It took about 40 minutes for all of the milk to reduce, a time period I spent having a (poor quality) rap off with Kendrick Lamar and a (very unflattering) belting session with Adele. Don’t forget to stir it a few times though, or else it’ll stick to the bottom or, the milk will explode(no seriously).

When the milk was almost fully gone, I added in 3/4 of a cup of sugar, the roasted dry fruits from before, a teaspoon of cardamom powder and nutmeg powder, and finally a few strands of saffron. This stage also involved me eating quite a bit of the Halwa for getting the balance of ingredients right(Also it tasted like, really good).

Stir until the sugar is dissolved and mixed all the way through. By this time, the Halwa should be drying out, and if it’s not then stir for a few minutes until it starts getting lumpy. You’re done with your Gajar or Carrot Halwa. Well, at least I am.

Now go on kids and make your own Carrot Halwa, and to the few people I know personally who are reading this, GET ME WHEN YOU MAKE SOME.

P.S my bestie- Yes, I am gonna give you some.

See you all tomorrow for the first post of A-Z!!

If you’re not familiar with my theme, you can check it out here.

Spinach Rice- Cooking #3

It’s a lazy Sunday today. I was really bored and wanted to cook something simple, so here goes my attempt at making spinach rice, a very simple recipe that I enjoy. It’s also a great way to get your greens in.

I made this in a pressure cooker, but you can make it in a pot too.

1)First thing is the spinach. It has to be pureed, and you can add green chilies while blitzing. Ginger can also be added at this stage. You’ll need about a cup full of puree for 4 serves.

2)Wash and drain the rice, and keep aside for a while as you prepare the temper.

3)For the temper, it’s pretty much a classic Indian curry affair- a tbsp of oil, cumin seeds, turmeric, 2 whole cardamoms, a bay leaf, and garlic. Give it a minute or so before adding finely chopped onions.

4)Once the onions are browned, you can proceed to add the puree you’ve made and garam masala, which is an Indian staple spice mixture powder. If you haven’t added ginger in the puree, you can stir it in now as small pieces. For some extra spice, chili powder can also be added, and so can any vegetables if you want. I added some green peas, but a potato works especially well. Lemon juice can be used to balance the taste if it’s too spicy.

5)The puree will thicken in a few minutes, and then you can add the damp rice along with 2-4 cups of water. As you stir the mixture, add salt. And well, we’re done. If you’re using a pressure cooker like me, cover it and let it cook for 4 whistles, or about 15-20 minutes if you’re using a pot. And you’re done.

Spinach rice pairs very well with raita.

This recipe feels as boring as my life right now, but hey it’s gotta mean something because the end product tastes excellent?? There are some very good things too, like my first set of exams is going smoothly and it FINALLY rained here. The rains were very much needed, the weather is incredibly hot and dry here.

I’m gearing up for A-Z, and I’m pretty sure the next time I’ll be seeing you is on day 1 of April. Have a happy happy Sunday!

Cooking #2- Ragda Patties

Ragda Patties is a popular Maharashtrian street food appetizer, particularly famous in the city of Mumbai. Anyone who’s grown up in a Marathi family has had this dish for sure. It’s very simple to make and come on, it’s chaat, who doesn’t love chaat?!

This one is definitely my best cook of the year so far, it came out really good. It’s simply cutlets made out of potato and poha(flattened rice), topped with a white peas gravy (Ragda), mint and date chutneys, and gram flour vermicelli or sev.

1) The white peas will have to be soaked overnight. Boil some water, add the peas and a pinch of salt and let them work their magic.

2) The white peas will have doubled in size in about 8-9 hours. Don’t worry, take their example. You’ll get bigger at the gym too, in time. They need to be pressure-cooked now. In the pressure cooker, the water level should be equal to the white peas in the vessel. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and red chili powder to the peas too. In the same cooker, you can put potatoes to cook. Roughly 3 potatoes are enough for 2 servings. Meanwhile, you can soak, drain and set aside half a cup of flattened rice. Leave a little bit of water though.

Fresh out of the pressure cooker.

3) The Ragda or gravy will have to go on the stove for at least 30-40 minutes to develop the flavor and reduce the liquid. I started by making a simple temper: a teaspoon of cumin seeds and hing(asafoetida) in a tablespoon of oil. Wait until it splutters, and add in a paste of garlic, ginger, and green chili. Here, take my example and stay a little away from the stove. I’m sure you don’t appreciate flying chili seeds either. You can add onions here too.

4) When the paste browns a little, add the pressure-cooked white peas, along with the stock. Remember to mash the white peas a little as it thickens the gravy [your arm strength will be tested here]. Add cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, salt, dried mango powder, and dried ginger powder. You can add black salt here too. Give it a stir and it can sit there until it becomes thicker[ ;)].

My gravy turned up a little too spicy, but that’s just the way I like it.

4) Making the patties is very simple. Mash the pressure-cooked potatoes and add the flattened rice. To flavor this mix, add black salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, and salt. Traditionally, the patties are very simple and don’t carry a lot of spices. You can add bread crumbs or cornstarch to this mix too, they make the patties lighter in texture. Again, learn from me here. Repeat after me: cornstarch sticks to every available surface and likes to recreate the set of “Frozen”.

5) The patties can be shallow-fried or simply roasted on a skillet with a few drops of oil. About 4 minutes on each side should give them a nice crispy skin[ Yeah, they’re quick;)]. You’re ready to assemble!!

6) Lay the patties first, and top them with the hot Ragda. Stack it with finely chopped onion, mint chutney, date and tamarind chutney, curd, and sev. Top off with a few sprigs of coriander and enjoy!

It tasted really good!! Easily one of the best things I’ve cooked.

How’s your year been going so far?? Mine has suddenly been sloping upwards since the start of February and this cook was definitely a great high!!

Cooking #1- Pot Stickers

Okay so I haven’t blogged about my cooking ventures before, so here goes nothing.

This was the first time I cooked in 2022, and I decided to make something I hadn’t tried before: Pot-stickers. They’re basically dumplings made on a skillet instead of steaming. For the covering, I chose all-purpose flour instead of the traditional rice flour, and for the filling, I chose a yummy mix of peri-peri, ricotta cheese(paneer as we call it) and, honey. I served it with a simple onion sauce and a side of creamed green peas.

Here are the steps I followed(stumbled through):

  1. As the dough needs to rest, I got to it first. It was a simple mix of all-purpose flour, vegetable oil( olive oil gives it a very good flavor too), salt and water, and kneaded it until it was well combined and stretchy. Resting is very important here to ensure good texture.
You must rest it for at least 60 mins, I did it for almost two hours[because I got distracted watching something:) ]

2. The sauce needs longer on the stove, so I did that next. In a saucepan, melt some butter and add finely chopped onions and garlic.[Ideally white onions, but red ones work too.] Let them caramelize well, add some salt at this stage to help them cook faster. Once they’re browning, you can add in some milk and a medium thick paste of water and wheat flour, to thicken the sauce. A small amount of the paste will work just fine. I also added oregano, rosemary, thyme, ginger, black pepper, and black salt for the flavor. Let it reduce on the stove for 30-40 mins. You can always add a little milk/water if it becomes too dense. It can sit there simmering as you get to the other things.

This was after 30 mins on the stove.

3. For the creamed peas, first, melt butter in a pot and add a bit of flour. Be careful so as to keep it liquid, because it’ll burn pretty quickly. [How do I know? Why I burnt it of course:) ] Add in some milk and the green peas. The level of milk should be equal to the peas to get it nice and creamy. Add in garlic, oregano, black pepper, and if you want, some grated cheese too and let it melt. Let it boil and then simmer for a few minutes, and add salt per taste. Let it sit off the stove for a while and thicken nicely: Your side is done.

4. We’re getting to the actual pot-stickers now!! Yeah, I don’t think I’m nearly the best person to tell you about rolling and shaping the actual dumplings. Unsurprisingly, I struggled through and ended up with err, uniquely shaped dumplings? We can say each one was beautiful in its own right:) The filling was pretty good though: I just mixed crumbled ricotta cheese or paneer, peri-peri sauce, a dash of honey, paprika, and salt, of course. You’ll do well to have each dumpling roughly the length of your middle finger[ 🙂 ] and about 2 inches wide. You can also use tofu in the filling.

5. Cooking them is probably where you should be most careful because they can go from crispy to burnt in a few seconds. Thankfully, none of my dumplings[or fingers] got burnt. You can give them about 30 seconds on each side on a medium-high flame, with a few drops of oil coating them all over. But again, the skillet gets hotter over time and later ones may require lesser time. This is assuming of course, that they’re all roughly similar in weight and shape[ unlike mine:) ].

My cute, fat babies:)

6. Serve them hot with the sauce and creamed peas, and top it off with some oregano and peri-peri sauce because why not.

I know the combo of an Italian-inspired sauce and peri-peri is pretty unusual, but I did enjoy it very much. Overall, I feel like I could have gotten the dumpling skin much thinner but otherwise, it all turned out well.

Here’s the final look before it saw the murderous inside of my mouth:-

This was also before I poured a little too much peri-peri sauce and spent the rest of the meal regretting doing so:)

Cheers to my very first cook of 2022, and also my first cooking blog post!!