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Dried Fruit & Nut Halwa

My love affair with dried fruits and nuts started when I tasted the dried fruit and nut milk-shake at a restaurant (which I vaguely remember was called Mac) on MG Road in Bangalore. This shake was fit enough to be a meal both in taste and satiation. I remember drooling over this shake and although I have had this shake several times after that at many different places (including chez moi) none measured up to the lofty standard set by the original one. Anyway, I digressed and this post, although is about dried fruits and nuts, is definitely not about shakes but about halwas – the ubiquitous dessert found in almost all cultures and cuisines. Of course, in India, we make halwa with everything ranging from moong dhal to wheat to carrot/potato to pumpkin – looks like we are capable of turning everything to a halwa. “When in doubt, turn it to a halwa” should be a national tagline!

The base template for all halwas is the same – basically, throw in the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed vessel, cook it over low-medium flame for about 30-45 minutes and slowly, in front of your eyes, what was a sticky-icky blob turn will turn into a still lumpy ball that importantly, moves easily when guided with the spoon leaving the sides of the vessel.

The template will have to be tweaked a little bit based on the kind of halwa at hand. For this one,


20 dried figs
20 dried dates
1 cup milk
handful of roasted and chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashew)
1-2 tsp of butter

Start with about 20 pieces of figs and dates soaked over-night in a cup of warm milk. Blend it into a find paste with the milk that was used for soaking.

Add this to a thick-bottomed vessel (I used the cast-iron pot from here) and cook it in a low to medium flame with a tsp of butter.

While the mixture is cooking, coat a clean plate with a tsp of butter and keep it aside.

After about 30-40 minutes of slow cooking, during which time it needs very little attention except for the occasional stir to make sure the mixture cooks evenly, add the chopped nuts and cook for a couple of more minutes making sure the nuts are mixed and incorporated well.

Turn the stove off and transfer the mixture to the butter-coated plate.

Let sit for a few minutes and then cut it in diamond-shaped pieces.

The dried fruit halwa was inspired by Soma’s version here, after I drooled many days over those pictures.

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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Desi

 

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Spiced butter biscuits

Growing up, the fall-back evening snack in my house would be a biscuit.  Biscuits to me are what cookies are to kids that grow up in America.  They were sold in all shapes and sizes, with different flavoring and the queen of them all was the “cream biscuit”, in which flavored icing was sandwiched between two thin biscuits.  These baked goodies were not loaded with sugar or fat and were a reasonably healthy after-food snack for kids or  tea time snack for adults, or when you just felt like nibbling on something.   There were several popular brands (Milk Bikis, Marie come to my mind) and also, equally famous was the neighborhood bakery store-bought no-brand name, what we used to call, “butter biscuits”.  These are very similar to these shortbread cookies by Meeta. After reading Meeta’s post, I really wanted to re-create those biscuits that were part of my childhood and the cookie bake-off that happened during the holiday season was the perfect excuse.  I did some more research and found this recipe at Arusuvai (in Thamizh), meaning six tastes,  which turns out to be pretty similar to Meeta’s recipe.  The recipe from Western Europe and from the heartland of South India are uncannily close – may be it was the British influence.  Whatever be it, these uncanny culinary or other such similarities never cease to amaze me. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2009 in Cooking, Desi

 

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Weekend & Kulfi

Weekends are usually time to relax, chill and do nothing. No surprises in my weekend routine – I get up late, have brunch and laze around. I look forward to weekends just for this; doing nothing and unwinding after the busy weekdays. I had more reason to await this weekend, as my brother & family were visiting. And to add to this, it was our 5th wedding anniversary and we had planned a family lunch; it really is wonderful to spend the momentous day with the near and dear ones.
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Posted by on August 30, 2007 in Cooking, Desi

 

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