Finally! My Hamilton Beach Sandwich Grill !

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My Electric Grill being delivered just in time for tea!

 

I love taking part in contests and if it is food related all the better to eat dear! So I signed up for the #CreateFearlessly contest sponsored by #HamiltonBeach in conjunction with #Blogadda and wondered what they’d send me – a sandwich grill or a coffee machine?

I waited a fair bit, even received a call and an email from Blogadda asking whether I’d got the gadget and was frankly getting quite worried:

  • Did it come while I was away ( very rare for me these days)
  • Was it filched along the way ( A possibility indeed)
  • Or did Blogadda change its mind ( NO not possible my mind screamed)

So I sent them an email saying that I didn’t receive the parcel and no sooner did I press  SEND than the doorbell rang and two scruffy looking men bearing this huge big parcel with a sandwich grill stood before me. Strangely they asked me to stamp my office stamp (really I don’t have an office), failing which I was to show them proof of identities like a PAN card or Driver’s Licence. This was the first time ever I was asked such a question by a courier company and not wishing to share my personal information with them, handed over my visiting card which announced my name and title as BLOGGER.

They looked suitably aghast as they muttered ” Yeh kya hai?” but I already had some guests at home and quickly shut the door.

Getting down to #CreateFearlessly

Ever since I’d seen this dumb movie called CHEF, I wanted to make a grilled ham and cheese sandwich so the moment I could manage it I asked Bayda to help me unpack the gadget.

 

Then with everything ready, I set down to making my first #CreateFearlessly Panini.

Verdict

The instructions to start the grill were clear enough but Bayda did spend a few moments trying to figure how to open it. On closer inspection I found the catch on the side and released it to allow both the covers to come apart.

The grill heats up fast and the sandwich did slip out only because it was too thick but within minutes I had the yummiest grilled sandwich – crunchy crusty warm and toasty.

 

Besan Laddoos for Diwali

Today I made besan laddoos which are a favourite in our home, particularly with my elder daughter who is always away for the festival. Gram flour is popular all over India and can be found in various shapes, sizes and forms.

The traditional Besan ladoos which we make in Maharashtrian homes are made thus:

  • 4 cups of coarsely ground besan or gram flour
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pure ghee
  • 5-6 strands of saffron
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tspns powdered cardamom
  • 2 tbspns raisins
  • 2 tbspsn slivers of almonds

I sifted the powdered sugar and kept it aside.

I put the ghee in a huge big wok and added the besan and began stirring it on a medium flame till it became golden brown , the ghee separated from the mixture and the whole house was redolent with the aroma of besan browing in pure ghee. I added the saffron strands and stirred it some more.

I then took the wok off the fire and sprinkled the milk into the mixture and quickly stirred it up. I allowed it to cool and when it was still slightly warm,  added the sifted powdered sugar and kneaded it into a smooth dough. I then added the powdered cardamom , raisins and slivers of almonds and rolled them into round balls or ladoos.  

Nota Bene

This made around 2 dozen smallish ladoos so you can increase the quantities if you want more!

Don’t make the mistake of adding the sugar while the mixture is hot – you will land up in a great mess!

While Diwali is the perfect time to make this dish, it is equally popular year round particularly while traveling as these laddoos stay well for a long time.

Diwali’s surprise: Mysore Paak

Once upon a time, an ingenious cook at the Mysore Royal Palace came up with this concoction of chana atta ( besan), ghee and sugar. Fascinated by its sponge like appearance, smooth texture and fantastic taste, it soon became a popular sweet among halwais particularly in South India.

This year I decided to try making Mysore Paak at home as I wanted a break from the traditional laddoo, chakli and shev routine.

I got together

  • 1 cup of finely ground besan
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups ghee

I sifted the besan and kept it aside. I heated a bit of the ghee and rubbed it into the flour.

I added a cup of water to the sugar and made a syrup of single string consistency in a large pan.

In the meanwhile I heated the ghee and brought it to the boil.

While the ghee was heating up and after the syrup was made, I added the flour to the syrup, stirring with a wire whisk to ensure a smooth paste. When the ghee was boiling hot, I added it to the flour and syrup mixture one ladle at a time . I allowed the mixture to cook continuing with the ghee till the mixture began to thicken and get a spongy appearance. Then I took it off the fire and poured it into a cake tray which I had lined with tin foil. While it was still slightly warm, I cut it into squares and when completely cool, stored the Mysore Paak in an airtight tin to be kept for Diwali day.

Nota Bene

I think my Mysore Paak should have been browned a little more and kept cooking for a longer time so that it actually looked like a sponge but I made the mistake of taking a shallow pan rather than a deep bowl which would have prevented the ghee from splattering out!

Shankarpale for Diwali and all year round

My grandmother used to love making these tiny diamond shaped goodies all year round and very often I would come home to the house smelling of them being fried to a crisp golden brown as granny fished  them out of the kadahi with her big zhara or slotted spoon. This year with little P being around to enjoy Diwali and at the age when he appreciates finger food, I decided to make them myself. Made of wholewheat flour and pure home made ghee just slightly sweet, they are the perfect little bites for little tykes on the go.These don’t look too good because I’ve been out of the kitchen and out of practice for a bit, but I assure you they taste great.

Here’s what I did:

I got together

  •  3 -4   cups of whole wheat flour or maida or a mix of both
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of milk or water
  • 1 cup of pure ghee
  • Ghee for deep frying

I sieved the wheat flour and kept it aside while I put the sugar, ghee and milk in a pan and brought it to a quick boil.

I took the pan off the fire and added as much wheat flour as could be absorbed to make a nice soft dough. Since the liquid was hot, I made sure to use a spoon to stir in the flour! Then I kept the dough aside for a while.

A few hours later, I kneaded the dough once more and then rolled it out into pastry sheets about 2-3 mm thick and ran a pastry cutter wheel through it to make the diamond shapes. In the meanwhile, I kept some ghee in a kadahi to heat up and then slowly added the diamond shapes one by one. I reduced the heat a bit and fried them till the ghee stopped bubbling and the shankarpale turned golden brown.

I took them out with a slotted spoon, draining off excess fat and allowed them to drain and cool on a kitchen towel. Then I stored them in an airtight tin to open up on Diwali day.

Nota Bene

Shankarpale which look simple enough to make can be quite tricky. If you substitute the milk with water as many people like to do, or even reduce the quantity of ghee your shankarpale can become hard enough for you to break a tooth! But if you more or less follow this recipe, you will get perfectly crunchy yet melt in your mouth shankarpale to die for.

Equally misleading is the amount of time you will take- plan for at least half an hour because the shankarpale take time to cook but an easy way out would be to use a wide mouthed shallow kadahi or a deep frying pan which will hold more shankarpale than the regular kadahi!

 

Winter is coming

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          The Winter is coming, it’s a bit of a joke

With temperatures rarely dipping to single digits

In the coldest of cold.

But it still leaves us rummaging in cupboards at home

In attics and trunks for  clothes kept away

IMG_5893          Carefully  wrapped in muslin and mothballs  to wear when its cold.

However, despite the barely perceptible cold weather,

We do have our winter and the joys that it brings.

             The pleasures of eating the fruits of the sea

Fresh pomfrets and sole, red snapper and mackarel

Lobster and prawn

IMG_5980                                       To   grill and to pickle and garnish with lime

or fry to a crisp with a  breadcrumby crust

 

Winter’s  juicy red  carrots make a halwa divine.

Its sweet peas so tender to  stuff samosas for tea

Winter brings mornings that are crisp with a chill

undhya             That needs you to warm up with a porridge of oatmeal

Or Phada nu khichada cracked wheat that’s wholesome

With spices and ghee.

Hot gulab jamuns and other foodies’ delights.

Like Undhya a mixture of vegetables and beans

Cooked slowly with spices by each Undhya Queen.

Winter means fondue and hot chocolate drinks

Of mulled wine and hot soups, apple pies and cream

So even if Mumbai’s winters don’t mean warm sweaters or cozying up in front of a fire

It doesn’t mean standing in the mild winter sun

It doesn’t mean shivering in mist shrouded bus stops

It doesn’t mean heavy winter quilts and hot water bottles

Winter means partying with jewels and silk

It means dark early mornings with sunsets at six.

It means unfrizzy hair and non sweaty skins.

I love Mumbai’s winter and can’t really wait

And glad it is coming this year not too late!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.45BDCEF73F6966D317D574400CDAA4E9