Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Chocolate Nut clusters, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Keto-Friendly Candy

When valli announced candy theme for the Blogging marathon, i had quite a lot of recipes to try.  When you have lot of options to chose from, it is always confusing, you keep jumping from one recipe to another, unable to decide. That is what happened to me, i had 6 recipes decided from which i have to chose 3, all are easy recipes, loved by my kids, so had to literally do inky, pinky, ponky. 
This chocolate nut clusters is quickie recipe, all you need is roasted nuts and good quality chocolate. I always have lindt dark chocolate at home. Recently there was a discount sale in the nearby grocery shop, the usual price of these are 11dhs each, they were selling at 3.95 dhs each. So i grabbed 6 of them. 
In matter of 10 minutes, including the time for toasting the nuts, these delicious and uber tempting nut clusters gets done. I had hard time, keeping my kiddos away from these until i finished clicking the candies. 
These make a wonderful gift for any festive occassion. They are healthy, guilt-free treats , they make a great grab & go kind of snacks. Do try and let me know how you liked it.

Check out the youtube video on how to make chocolate nut clusters
100 grams dark chocolate, i have used Lindt 70% dark chocolate
75 grams roasted almonds, chopped
75 grams roasted cashewnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

To roast the nuts
  • I have used the oven for toasting the oven. Take the chopped nuts in a oven-proof tray, add a tsp of oil and using your hands, mix it into the nuts well.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C and toast the nuts 8-10 minutes. The temperature and timings vary from oven to oven, so keep an eye from 8th minute. Once done, remove the nuts and let it cool completely, before using it in the recipe.
To make the chocolate nut clusters
  • In a microwave safe bowl, add roughly chopped chocolate, microwave it for 60 seconds first. Remove it and give it a stir, check if all the chocolate is melted, if you have huge chunks of chocolate, then microwave it for another 15-20 seconds and mix it again. 
  • Remove the chocolate from the microwave, stir it until smooth. Let it sit for 10-15 seconds, now add the chopped, roasted and well cooled nuts to this chooclate, add the cinnamon and mix it well.
  • Keep a parchment lined tray ready by your side. Place spoonful of chocoalte nuts on the tray, giving some gap inbetween each lump you put on the tray. 
  • Refrigerate the tray until the chocolate is set. It would be ready in 10 minutes. Remove the clusters and refrigerate them. If the chocolate is well tempered it would stay good in room temperature also, if not it might start melting. 
  • Enjoy these nutty chocolate clusters, they make a great snack, healthy too.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Cashewnut Nokkal - Sugar glazed cashewnuts

Cashewnut nokkal, i love this name, this is what attracted me first when i saw this post at Sandhya's space. She made this traditional south indian candy for one of our mega BM's. This recipe is from Meenakshi ammal's Cookbook Samaithu paar (Cook & See). This book is a regular gift to every girl  who is getting married, particularly to those who are settling abroad, away from home. My mom is an exception, she didnt give me, instead she gave me written notes of certain recipes.
Ok, let us talk about this nokkal, you got to read, me writing this name, because i like saying it! 
We make so many candies in our tradition, mainly using jaggery as the base, the manoharam, made with jaggery and broken manoharam muruku, peanut candy, puffed rice candy. Apart from the burfi which we make with sugar,  like mysorepak, 7-layer cake, coconut burfi, this is the first candy i m making just with nuts and sugar. I totally loved the process of it, it is pretty simple if you have roasted cashewnuts ready.
You can buy readymade roasted cashewnuts, or you can toast them in the oven or use the stove top and roast them in ghee until golden brown. 

Check out the video on how to make Cashewnut-Nokkal

1 cup roasted cashewnuts, unsalted.
1 cup sugar
4 pods of cardamom
2 nos cloves
To roast cashewnuts
  • I used the oven to roast the cashewnuts. Take the cashews in an oven-proof bowl, add a tsp of oil to it and using your hands coat the cashews well.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C, toast the cashews in the preheat oven for 8-10 minutes. Temperature and timings vary from oven to oven, so keep an eye on the cashews after 8 minutes. Once done, remove them from the oven, let it cool well. 
  • It is important to cool the nuts well before making the nokkal. Crunchy nuts makes perfect nokkal or else you will end up with soggy and sad nokkal.
To make the Sugar glaze.
  • Before proceeding, pound the cardamom seeds and cloves together to a fine powder and keep it ready and also keep the roasted and well cooled cashewnuts by your side.
  • Heat a heavy bottom pan, add sugar and 1/4 cup of water to it. I have used powdered sugar, you can use granulated sugar too. 
  • Mix the sugar and water together and let the sugar dissolve completely in the water. Let it boil and reach one string consistency.  This happens around the 6th minute from the time the sugar starts to boil.
  • When you touch a drop sugar syrup and stretch it between your thumb and index finger, you will get a single string, this is the consistency we are looking for. 
  • Once you reach this consistency, add the cardamom and clove powder to this, and also the roasted cashewnuts to it. Switch off the heat and keep mixing it gently and breaking the lumps that forms. 
  • Again, this step is important to coat the nuts evenly with the sugar, so keep stirring the nuts with the sugar, at one stage, all the nuts would be coated with the sugar and well separated and you will end up little powdered sugar in the pan. Its is fine to have one or two small lumps of nuts. 
  • Let this cool well, store them in an air-tight container on the kitchen counter. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Easy Cheesy Pull-apart rolls - #BreadBakers

Say Cheese, a phrase used by many photographers to make their subject smile, laugh, make them look happy in the photo. I wonder, how they made up this phrase. May be universally cheese brings a huge smile on everyone's face. What not to love about cheese, gooey, melty, richy, silky, smooth, i can go on listing all adjectives here, i love a good cheese sandwich anyday, infact i can eat cheese slice as such when i m hungry and looking for a healthy snack.  Cheese is considered a good source of protein and fat for many calorie conscious eaters, including myself. I cannot stand protein powders, so i include atleast 4 slices of cheddar in my daily meals.
So, when Sue Lau of Palatable pastime asked us to make a cheesy bread, i immediately joined the list to bake this cheesy pullapart rolls. This is a simple roll, i have added grated cheddar to the flour and stuffed the rolls with mozarella. A perfect dinner time recipe, serve this rolls with some warm soup, i bet you will be baking more. 
I have kept the spices simple, just garlic and mixed herbs, you can add your own spices, make it indian with some cumin and ajwain or add some kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves to make it more aromatic. 
Since both my kiddos are at home, enjoying their spring break and constantly hungry for something new to eat, I made these rolls for their evening snack. The rolls vanished in minutes and i was happy, that  i clicked some pictures before i served them. 
Do try and let me know how you like these and don't forget to tag #icampinmykitchen to share your feedback.

146 grams(approximately 1 cup) of whole wheat flour
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten/1/4 cup mashed potato (see notes)
10 grams of butter
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
125ml water
2 cloves of garlic, grated fine
1/4 tsp mixed herbs
50 grams cheddar cheese
50 grams of mozarella cheese,cut into small cubes
2 tbsp milk mixed with 1 tbsp oil

If using mashed potato in place of vital wheat gluten, you might have to reduce the liquid quantity. Check this Savory buns recipe for better idea

  • Take flour, yeast, gluten and salt together in a bowl and whisk well to combine. To this flour mix add mixed herbs and grated garlic and mix well into the flour. 
  • Grate the cheddar cheese block using a fine grater and and add it to the flour and mix roughly. To this flour-cheese mix . 
  • In a microwave safe mug, take water and microwave it for 30-40 seconds. The water should be hot, but not scalding hot. To this hot water add the butter and give it a stir. Add this water to the flour mix in batches  and mix to form a wet dough.
  • Do not add all the water at one time, i was left with 2 tbsp of water, so depending upon the flour you are using you might need all of it or just the same as mine. 
  • Once you got a wet dough, take the dough on to your work surface/kneading surface and knead to form a soft dough. Sprinkle little flour if needed, do not add more flour. Once you get a smooth dough, grease a bowl with oil and let the dough rest for 40 minutes or until it doubles in size.
  • Once it doubles up, punch down the air, knead the dough couple of times. At this stage, i weighed the dough and got around 327grams of dough. 
  • I divided the dough into 8 portions. Knead each portion of the dough once, flatten it in your palms, insert a cube of mozarella cheese, pull the dough to the cover the cheese and form a ball. Repeat the same with the rest of the dough pieces. 
  • Arrange the dough balls in a greased baking sheet and the let them rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C,brush the rolls with milk-oil mix and bake them in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.
  • Once done, remove the tray from the oven, let it sit in the tray for few minutes. Then slowly remove it on to a cooling rack to cool off completely. 
  • While serving, microwave them for 10-20 seconds for the cheese to turn gooey. Serve the rolls along with some soup for dinner or just with some ketchup as a snack. 

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Here is the list of Cheese Breads for this month (March 2019)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Kesar Phirni - Rich and Creamy Rice pudding with saffron

Phirni, one of those desserts my lil one is crazy about. We usually don't eat out much. If at all we go, we got to Kamat, a restaurant nearby. It is the only restaurant we visit for lunch or sometimes for dinner. My lil ones menu there is constant, he will order manchow soup with poori, he loves to dip his poori in the soup and enjoy. This combination is so famous amongst our gang, that when we are all together all the kids order poori and manchow.
After mopping his soup and poori, he orders matkha phirni. It is his  favorite dessert, next to mango lassi, which we order during the mango season. He never shares his phirni with anyone, his dad would wantedly fights with him for a spoonful. Seeing his love for phirni, i decided to make it for him at home. 
The day i made phirni, he asked me whether i have made 'Matkha', he thought the name of the dessert is matkha/earthern pots😆. I tried to explain him that matkha is that bowl and actual name is phirni, but even then he likes to call it matka and i have stopped correcting him now. Afterall, what is in a name?
What is this Phirni?
Phirni is dessert made with milk and coarsely ground rice, sweetened wtih sugar, flavored with cardamon and saffron. The origin of this rich dessert is believed to be from the mughals rule in India. The dessert can be made in numerous flavors, kesar phirni, gulab phirni, makhana phirni and the list is endless and your imagination is the limit for the flavors in this versatile dessert.

Phirni Vs Kheer
Though it sounds similar to kheer, but kheer is made with whole rice, whereas phirni is made with coarsely ground rice. Kheer can be served warm, whereas phirni is mostly served chilled. Phirni thickens as it cools and the texture of it closely resembles that of a jelly, which attracted my lil one more. 
This is an easy make-ahead dessert for parties and festivities. When made fresh you can keep it refrigerated for good 2-3 days. I usually make it towards the weekend and all the boys enjoy it for the next 2 days. I wouldn't recommend storing it for more than 3 days, that too if the climate at your place is more  hot and humid, it is not advisable. 
The below quantity serves 7-8 people, depending on the amount served. The earthen pots i have used here holds 2-3 ladles of phirni each. 
Do try this luscious and rich kheer for this holi and enjoy it with your family. Do not forget to tag me #icampinmykitchen and let me know how you liked it

1 litre full fat milk
2 generous pinches of saffron
1/4 cup basmati rice.
2-3 cardamom pods
2 nos cloves
1/3 cup - 1/2 cup sugar or (1/2 a tin condensed milk)
2-3 tbsp of chopped nuts ( i have used almonds and pistachios)
few watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Soak basmati rice in water for 2-3 hours. Towards the end of the soaking time, in  a heavy-bottomed vessel boil the milk, remove 2-3tbsp of milk from the vessel and soak the saffron in it and set aside until use.
  • While the milk is boiling, drain the water from the rice, take it in a mixer along with cardamom and clove pods and grind it to a coarsely. I usually add 2-3 tbsp of water to ensure smooth running of the mixie. Once done, add this coarsely ground rice to the boiling milk and mix well.
  • Keep a whisk ready and whisk the mixture as you add the rice mixture to the milk. This will help in breaking any lumps that might form. 
  • Reduce the flame to medium or even simmer and let the rice cook well in the milk. Stir often to ensure the bottom doesnt get burned.  Usually it takes around 8-10 minutes for the rice too cook. 
  • Once the rice is cooked,add the sugar to it and mix well. Once you add sugar, the phirni might liquify, but do not worry, it will thicken soon.
  • Let it for another 8-10 minutes, keep stirring, add the saffron soaked milk to this and mix well. Once the milk mixture is reasonably thick, take it off the stove and let it cool. Remember it will thicken more as it cools. I usually add some roughly chopped almonds and cashews to the phirni, we love the bite while enjoying the smooth phirni. 
  • Once it comes out to room temperature, pour it to individual matkhas/earthen pots and refrigerate. While serving, garnish with chopped nuts and rose petals and enjoy it chilled.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

100% Whole Wheat Bread - Vegan Whole Wheat loaf bread

A simple, no fuss bread recipe. A bread which i usually bake at home. When i shared this bake 2 weeks before in my insta stories, it was much welcomed and i got so many messages asking for the recipe. For the first time ever, i too remembered to measure and note it down too. 
And sorry all the pictures are from my mobile and i dont have time to click the loaf again, though i made one today. Will update with new set of pictures once i click. 
As i said in my Cookie butter muffins post, i love to carry a bake along with me whenever we plan a trip a little away from home.  This bread is something which i take to such trips. A pack of labneh or nutella spread is all we need to compliment this soft bread. If you are camping and have a barbeque then you can also enjoy a crispy sandwich with all your favorite stuffing inside. All i can imagine is a some cheesy sandwich with it. My hubby makes a perfect sandwich, he actually is the official toast master at home. Kids prefer their daddo's toast more than mine. So, i m the baker and he is the toaster, what a perfect match!!!
I bet once you try this bread and home, you would never go back to the store-bought bread again. 
 I m packing them for the Kids delight - Travel food happening @ Cooking with Renu, an event by Srivalli
3 cups/450 grams of whole wheat flour 
300 ml warm water
1.5 tsp instant yeast
2.5 tbsp - 3 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt 
2 tbsp oil

  • In a large bowl, take together flour, yeast, gluten, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Make a well in the center and add warm water to this. Mix it roughly with a wooden ladle. When all the flour is wet, dump the entire flour mix on your kitchen counter or worktop, add oil to this and knead to a smooth and soft dough. Do not add extra flour. The dough will come together well. Knead around 4-5 minutes. 
  • Once kneaded to smooth dough, grease a bowl with oil and rest the dough for an hour or until it doubles up size. 
  • Once it doubles, punch out the extra air, and knead for a couple of minutes and shape it into a loaf.
  • I usually measure the length of my loaf pan (20cm x 10 cm)and shape my loaf length to the pan length. Then i roughly stretch it to a rectangle and fold it like an envelope and shift it into the loaf pan. Let it rest in the loaf pan for another 45 - 60 minutes.
  • Towards the last 10 minutes of the rising,  preheat the oven to 200C and brush the top of the loaf with oil or mix of oil and milk bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  • Once done, take it off the oven, let it sit in the pan for 5 minutes and remove the bread to a wire rack and let it cool completely. The bread should be well rested before you try to slice it. 
  • Use a long sharp serrated knife to make slices. This bread makes a delicous sandwich, hearty and crusty!

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