Friday, May 8, 2015

Mason Jars, Chalkboard Labels, and Project Pantry Organization





Last month, on I was on a Spring cleaning spree, decided to organize the Pantry - a long overdue project - 'coz every time I cook, it takes me forever to find the ingredients that I am looking for and lot of the times I enthusiastically start cooking, just to realize I don't have/can't find the ingredient I am looking for.  Sometimes, that's ok as you can substitute with other ingredients, but other times, substitution is not an option.  

Here, I share my experience, tips, tricks, process and the list of things needed (which is not many) to make your pantry look cool too!  Functionality is just an added bonus ;) Chalkboard labels are an 'In' thing these days, and so are Mason jars, and why should your pantry left behind in getting upgraded to the current fashion?

This turned out to be a fun project!!  It costed less than $25, but having done this since past couple of months, following are the instant advantages I see:
  • Find the ingredients in a blink and cook like a Pro!!  Saves me on an average 10-15 minutes every time I cook.
  • Reduce wastage and cut costs - Not knowing what we have in the pantry, we often end up buying the same items again, which again gets lost.  Not anymore :) 
  • It looks so cool!!  Anytime I go in the kitchen, I can't stop opening the pantry door, taking a peek into it and feeling happy :) 
Ours is a household where we - myself, my Mom, my Sister-in-law - love to cook.  And I am talking about elaborate cooking.  You can find most of the grains/pulses/flours/lentils/spices imaginable in our pantry (well, almost)!  I counted just the kind of lentils and beans and it added to more than 25.  Spices - probably a lot more.  6-8 different kinds of rice. A total of about 150-200 items maybe. So you get the idea.  Hence this kind of project was justified.  



Things needed:

  • Chalkboard paper: I ordered this from amazon at a very reasonable price, and the quality is good too. I still have so much leftover after the project. It costed $10 and change. 
  • Tag maker punch label:  I had a couple of them, you just need one.  I purchased it from Joann's/Michael's for some $10-12 - something like this.  Both these stores take coupons - so there you can save some 40-50% of the price. 
  • Chalk marker:  I bought the Bistro Chalk marker pen from Michael's' for some $3 and change.  I preferred the thinner tip - 2mm/3mm.

All of these items are in a couple of pictures I posted. All of the above costed less than $25.  In case you have to buy jars, which I didn't, you can also buy from these stores, and again, use the coupons they offer each week.  There is always a 40-50% coupon available.  

We have a huge collection of Mason jars of various sizes, which come with Pasta sauce, jams, jellies etc.   So re-purposed those and didn't have to buy even a single jar or container for this project.



Time required:  

Total of about 8 hours total, spread over a few days.  It all depends based on the size of pantry and number of items you have.  Our time included removing old labels from the jars etc.  Try to find good sunny days, and I'll tell you why in a bit.

Process:
  • Order/buy the supplies ahead of time. 
  • Plan.  This is a very important step as you need to take stock of what you have, buy whatever you need to ahead of time, gauge how much the task entails etc. Overall it would be very efficient to do so.  I am glad we did, or we would have had a few surprises, and additional time to complete the task.
  • Pick a nice sunny day, if possible. Start with emptying all the bottles/jars/containers (dry stuff) in paper bowls/plates.  We used the paper boats and that saved us a lot of cleaning time.  We put these out in sunlight.  This step is not necessary, but I have seen people do this in India and there may be a few scientific reasons for it.  


  • As mentioned earlier, we used all the existing jars/bottles we had.  Lot of these had old labels stuck on it which is not very easy to remove.  So we filled the kitchen sink with water, added vinegar and baking soda, and soaked the jars/bottles/containers in it.  As and when these were soaked for say 30 minutes or so, we started washing it with a scrubber.  You may also use goo gone or something like that to soften the labels for easy removal.  A mix of olive oil (or any oil) and baking soda works just fine as well.  Using scrubber, we removed the labels and put these in the dishwasher for washing.  Repeated this step for all the batches.

  • Once out of the dishwasher, we put the jars out in the sunlight for an hour or so to dry in the heat.
  • Taking stock of what all we had in each size/style of jars, we determined what would go in which jar, based on the quantity of each item, and more importantly so that each 'family' of ingredients like whole spices, ground spices, lentils, etc. would go in similar set of containers - and that is as much for good looks as it is for the functionality.  After all, who doesn't like a good looking pantry?  We also determined which section of the pantry does each of these 'family' of ingredients go.  The ones used more often are better off stored at places easy to reach and so on and so forth.
  • Then comes the task of cutting the labels, writing the names of the ingredients on it.  Fun stuff!! By this time, you would have almost completed the majority of the tasks so it's happy dance time for sure!
  • Final step is to fill the ingredients in each of these jars/containers, put labels on it.  It helps to put the labels towards the upper half of the jar, in case you are going to line up the jars in 2-3 rows inside the pantry.  The names on the jars in the back rows are much likely to be more visible in this case. Sometimes we use a certain brand of spice/masala/any ingredient, in which case, it is a good idea to cut off part of that name and tape it on the inside of the lid.  When it's time to re-order you'll know which brand to buy (or avoid).  

The End Result:

A good looking, well organized, fashionable pantry from which you can easily find the ingredients and quickly churn out recipes like a Pro, and you'll be left with ample extra time to do the Victory dance as you cook :) Enjoy!








Friday, April 3, 2015

​Vada Pav | An Ode to the Street Food of Mumbai​




Vada Pav is the street food of common man in India, which originated in Mumbai, Maharashtra.  It can possibly be called one of the national, beloved foods of all.

A vada pav, served with fried green chillies and cutting chai (Indian tea served in a small transparent cup) is a treat for the most Indian foodies.


Vada is the boiled potato, chickpea flour fritter and Pav is the bread bun.  It is served with the peanut-garlic chutney (condiment), tucked in a Pav (bread bun).  You may add the mint-coriander chutney and tamarind chutney as an add on.  Vada Pav is also being called as Indian burger.


Here is a very simple recipe for vada pav.  If you have the Pav ready, you can make this in less than half an hour.

Vada Recipe:

Potatoes - 4, boiled, peeled, mashed
Green chillies (optional) 2, chopped + few whole to serve on the side
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece, finely grated
Asafetida - 1 pinch
Mustard seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Chaat masala (optional) - 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 4
Salt - to taste
Oil - for frying
Gram flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1 1/2 tablespoon
Water - as needed

  • Boil, peel, and mash the potatoes.
  • Heat 2 teaspoons of oil, add curry leaves, once these splutter, add asafetida, mustard seeds. Saute, add chopped green chillies, grated ginger. 
  • Add mashed potatoes, turmeric, chaat masala (if adding) and salt to the above. Keep the mixture aside.
  • In a container take gram flour and rice flour. Add salt, turmeric powder.  Add water to form thick, but lump free batter.  Mix well.  
  • Heat oil.  While the oil is being heated, form golf ball sized balls from the potato mixture.  Dip it into the batter, such that it covers the potato ball. Let the excess batter drain into the container.  When the oil is hot, add few batter covered potato balls in the oil at a time. Switch heat to medium. Once the vadas are golden brown, remove it from the oil and drain it on a paper towel.

While the oil is hot, fry some small green chilies or vertically chopped big ones, remove from oil, sprinkle salt on it. This is served on top or inside the vada pav.



Pav: 
Use the store bought Pav (bread buns) or you may make it at home using this recipe



Garlic Peanut Chutney Recipe:

The garlic peanut chutney is the soul of a good plate of vada pav.

Garlic - 10 pods
Salt - to taste
Peanuts - 2-3 tablespoons
Red chilli flakes (optional) - 1-2 teaspoon
Dry coconut - 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds - 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder (or seeds) - 1 tablespoon
Tamarind paste (optional) - 1-2 teaspoons
Oil - 1-2 teaspoons
  • Dry roast sesame seeds, peanuts, coriander seeds, and garlic pods individually. Make sure to roast these separately, one at a time, as each one of these ingredients have different heating points.  Keep these aside.
  • Once the roasted ingredients cool down, put it in a blender/food processor and add oil, salt to it. Blend it coarsely.  The chutney should be more on the dry side.  Add tamarind paste depending upon how much is needed to still leave the consistency on the dry side. Mix well.  Optionally add some red chili flakes.

To assemble:

Slit the Pav in half, spread the garlic-peanut chutney on both the inner surfaces of Pav.  Put a vada in between, press the pav from top, and top it with a fried green chili.  Serve it with Indian chai for the best combination!  You may optionally add the coriander-mint chutney and tamarind chutney. I did not, as I like the taste of vada pav with just the garlic chutney and green chili.

Enjoy with a cuppa chai!




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bombay Pav Bhaji | The Soulful Street Food Of Mumbai


This recipe is as authentic as it can get!  It is one of the best recipes which I stumbled upon a while back, and am so lucky to have found it.  All credits for this recipe to the Juhu Pav Bhaji Stall waaley Bhaiya ji, as well as the person who recorded and uploaded the video [Vikas Kumar].

When talking about Indian Street Foods, Pav Bhaji invariably tops the list.  It's in fact one of the healthier street foods compared to many. Moms are known to sneak veggies in this Pav Bhaji - the ones that we don't tend to eat much - my Mom does that too!

I had blogged about a different - easier and quicker - version of Bombay Pav Bhaji a few years back - and you can find that recipe here.  

The Pav Bhaji making process in the video is being shown by none other than a Bhaiya ji at a Pav Bhaji stall in Juhu, Mumbai.  Even if you follow my text recipe - don't miss to watch the video - it's fun watching it.  I love this technique and the Pav bhaji made using this technique comes very close to the ones available on the streets of Mumbai.

Don't let the picture deceive you - it doesn't do justice to how good this pav bhaji taste.  Also, when I clicked this picture, which was the following day on which I had made it, it had soaked/evaporated some water.  Generally the consistency of this pav bhaji is more on the liquid side.  The video doesn't mention the quantities of the ingredients, so I used it per my guess work. You may try variations of the quantity based on what suits you.

Click here for the Video Link

I like to use butter, and that's why I have, but you can also make this zero butter/oil recipe and it will still taste good.


Recipe:



Capsicum - 1 1/2, diced
Tomato sauce - 1 cup (or 2 large tomaties, chopped)
Potatoes - 2 medium sized, boiled, skinned, and mashed
Green Peas - 3/4 cup, boiled for 3-5 mins in microwave
Onion - 1 medium sized, finely chopped
Garlic - 3 pods, finely chopped
Ginger - 1 inch piece, grated
Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - 1/2 teaspoon
Butter - 2-3 tablespoons (or more if you like - I like it with lots of butter)
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder - a pinch
Pav Bhaji Masala - 3/4 teaspoon (or to taste)
Asafetida - 1 small pinch
Lemon juice - 1-2 tablespoons
Coriander leaves - a few sprigs, chopped
Salt - to taste
Water - About 4-5 cups.  Will be using little by little throughout the process

  • Heat a broad bottomed tawa (pan), place diced capsicum in it and add some water.  Saute'
  • Add tomato sauce (or chopped tomatoes), green peas, mashed potatoes, red chili powder, ginger and garlic, turmeric powder.  Add some more water to make the vegetables tender, as also to avoid sticking the vegetables to the pan. Add butter, stir for a while.  
  • Start mashing the vegetables with a masher, till the mixture turns mushy.  Add some more water and bring it to a boil.  Sprinkle pav bhaji masala, salt, chopped coriander leaves and some more water.  Keep mashing and stirring till the bhaji thickens and the oil separates. 
  • Now heat butter (I like lots, you may add per your preference), in the same or separate pan, to it add some chopped onions, ginger, garlic, red chili powder, pav bhaji masala, dried fenugreek leaves, asafetida , coriander leaves, lemon juice,   Can add color to get that red tinge.  [I generally tend to make space in the middle in the same pan and continue this process - you may choose to do so in the same or separate pan]
  • Now fold in the bhaji, mix it, mash it, and keep stirring until it thickens and no ingredients are recognizable.  Bhaji is ready!

Masala Pav:

Pav is the bread which accompanies the bhaji.  You may either buy it readymade or make it at home. I had blogged the recipe of Pav a few years ago - you may find it here.

  • Heat butter, add coriander leaves, red chili powder, pav bhaji masala.
  • Split the pav from middle such that at one end, it's still intact.  Roast these on each side in the masala you just added, till these become tender.
  • Serve the Pav Bhaji on a plate, garnished with chopped coriander leaves, chopped onion, a lemon wedge, and a blob of butter!  It tastes best with Thumps Up (Indian Soda) on the side!
Enjoy!



Friday, February 27, 2015

Asparagus Soup 2.0

By now, you must know that I tend to try and improvise certain recipes at times, and so do blog an updated version - be it a recipe or a picture - and generally append 2.0 to the name.  So this one falls under the same category, as there was one which I had blogged about in 2010.

Recipe:

Asparagus - About 1 pound, chopped
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Butter/Oil - 1 1/2 tablespoon
Salt - to taste
Black pepper - to taste, curshed
Vegetable Bullion - 1 [can use vegetable stock instead]
Water - 4 cups [If using vegetable stock, reduce it accordingly to keep the water/stock content to 5-6 cups]
Milk - 1 cup
Cream (optional) - 1-2 tablespoons
Lemon juice - to taste

  • Chop asparagus. Heat butter/oil (I used butter) on medium heat. Add chopped onion.  Saute' for 3-4 minutes.  
  • Add chopped asparagus, salt and curshed black pepper. May leave some asparagus on side for garnish. If doing so, boil the garnish portion of the asparagus with little water and salt in microwave.
  • Boil 2 cups of water.  Add vegetable stock bullion, dissolve. If using vegetable stock, skip this step.
  • Add the dissolved vegetable bullion/vegetable stock and the remaining water - to make it a total of 5 cups.
  • Bring it to a boil and then turn down the heat to simmer.  Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add milk (optional). At this point, if the soup is bit on the thinner side, you may adjust the consistency by adding a teaspoon of corn starch dissolved in cold water. if doing so, keep stirring the soup after you have added this.
  • Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.   Once it cools down, put it in a blender and puree it.  One very important step after this is to strain the soup.  Sometimes the fibre gets in the way and it's  a total turnoff fif you find out while consuming it. You want this soup to be as smooth as possible.  A rule of thumb - ALWAYS - strain this soup.
  • Bring it back to the heat, add lemon juice (optional). heat it for 5 minutes, turn off the heat.
  • Serve it in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and/or cream, with a hint of freshly crushed black pepper, and the asparagus which you had saved for garnish (optional).
Enjoy!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nachos: An Ode to the Midnight Snack | Ooye Gooye Cheesy Goodness


Not so much of a recipe post, as this is more of an Ode to my all time favorite midnight snacks!  When I made these, I wasn't planning on taking pictures, nor the chips in the plate are arranged picture perfect.  But sometimes there is joy in imperfection - the joy of sharing.  

For me, it's a goto, staple snack whenever hunger strikes. Heck, I can make lunch of dinner out of it.  

You can make it with as little as 3 ingredients or as much as 10 plus ingredients.  The way I generally eat it is using the following ingredients.  
Other optional ingredients that may be used are avocado, sour cream, refried beans, lettuce etc. The chips can be made fresh at home too, but that we will leave for some other day.

Recipe:

Nacho chips - a plateful :) 
Salsa - 2 tablespoons
Green chilly - 1/2, chopped
Shredded cheese - lots of it :) - say 1/4 cup. [Cheddar/Colby Jack/Monterey jack or mix of any of these]
Onion - 1 tablespoon, finely chopped
  • Arrange nachos in plate. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds - this makes it bit more crispier.
  • Sprinkle lots of cheese on the chips, topped with onions, green chilies.  
  • Put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds (depending upon how strong the power is, it may take more or less time.  But keep watching, as you want the cheese to just melt it, and not cook/harden it.
  • Add salsa on top of the chips.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chilled Raspberry Soup 2.0


The reason I call it 2.0 is, this is one of the early recipes that I had re-created, when I had started blogging back in 2009, and this is the 2nd time am posting it. It remains one of my all time favorite Dessert Soups even after 5 years. I make it quite often.



The recipe is quite simple, takes less than 15 minutes to make it.  Here is a little backstory which I m re-posting:

I had this soup when I went on a cruise, a few years ago.  Instantly, I fell in love with the taste. I searched the internet and got several different recipes.  I did not follow one complete recipe but combined a few and then changed the proportions based on what I liked.   The result was Y-U-M-M-Y!!!  Did it compare to the one I had on the cruise? Well, I don't know as I only have the memories of how I loved it, but don't exactly remember the taste.

Certain recipes I looked at called for using sour cream and certain others called for heavy cream.  Instead of using either one, I used a combination of both.  I see some eye brows going up - well, if you think its too much fat then try it with some other variations like milk or yogurt etc and let me know of the taste so that others who want to try a variation can do so, after knowing how it tastes.

I was thinking of what to use for garnishing the soup and thought about using a mint leaf.  While doing so I happened to try a mint leaf and the soup around the same time - and voila!!!  The soup tasted so much yummier with mint leaf.  So, a suggestion for garnishing, chop a few mint leaves very finely and add it to the soup.  Not too much, but just may be a quarter teaspoon of mint leaves enhances the taste of the soup so much more!

Recipe (serves 6 people):
Raspberry - 20 oz. (fresh or frozen)
Sugar - 1/2 cup [Add more or less per your taste. At times you need more depending upon how sour the raspberries are.]
Sour cream - 3/4 cup
Heavy cream - 3/4 cup
Raspberry or Cranberry juice - 1 cup (I used a combination of Raspberry-Crabnerry juice)
Lemon juice - 2 teaspoons
Mint - few sprigs, very finely chopped
  • Using a blender, puree the raspberries.  Use the raspberry/cranbery juice while blending.
  • Fold in the sour cream and heavy cream.  Add sugar, lemon juice.  Mix well.  Refrigerate.
  • Serve chilled.  Garnish with heavy cream, very finely chopped mint leaves.
Chilled Raspberry Soup - Although an appetizer, it's almost like a dessert in disguise!










Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Baba Ghanoush | Smoky Eggplant Dip


Baba Ghanoush: The earthy, smoky, nutty, creamy taste of this Arabic dip may surprise you even if you are not a fan of eggplant.  The taste of eggplant does not overpower this dip. It's a mix of just right taste, texture, and flavor.  Not to forget, healthy too! It is rich in protein and beneficial minerals.


There are various different versions of making it, this one is the one i like.  Generally Baba Ghanoush is eaten with Pita bread.  You can also eat it as a dip for crackers, veggies, or as a sandwich spread.  


Recipe:

Eggplant - 1 medium sized
Tahini - 3-4 tablespoons
Garlic - 2 pods
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 2 tablespoons or to taste
Lemon juice - 1-2 teaspoons, adjusted to your taste preference
Cumin (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon, roasted
Parsley (optional - for garnish) - few sprigs, finely chopped



  • Roast eggplant on a gas burner on medium heat.  Turn it often, so that it is evenly roasted on all sides.  In case roasting on the gas burner is not possible for you, you may apply some olive oil, place it in a tray, roast it in oven pre-heated at 350 degrees - turning every few minutes until done.
  • Let it cool, remove the skin and roughly chop it. This may be a little messy step and so feel free to wear gloves if need be. It's ok, rather preferable, to leave some part of skin on the eggplant.  
  • In a blender, add roughly chopped eggplant, 2 peeled garlic pods, salt, roasted cumin (optional) and start blending it.  Slowly add tahini and a tablespoon of olive oil as you blend.  Process till smooth.
  • Remove it in a bowl, garnish with some more olive oil and chopped parsley.  Enjoy it with pita chips, crackers, or veggies.  This can also be used as a sandwich spread.
Enjoy!










Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Murmura Laddu | Puffed Rice Balls



Happy Makar Sankranti again. As mentioned here, I went on a chikki making spree and made all kinds of chikkis/laddus.  The one that is my favorite, and which came out great is the Murmura or Mamra Laddu or Puffed Rice Balls. This has been my childhood favorites.  Very easy, and simple to make.  I of course winged the recipe, trying to fix it as I went and so you may find ingredients here that you have not found in a chikki and so don't be surprised :) This is an amateur attempt to make it.  

Recipe:

Murmura or Puffed Rice - 3 cups
Jaggery - 1 cup [preferably the kind used for making chikki. I did not have that on hand so I used the regular kind]
Sugar (optional) - 1 tablespoon.  If using sugar, prefer brown sugar.
Water - 1/4 cup
Milk - 2 tablespoons
Ghee (clarified butter) - 2 teaspoons
Rose petals (optional) - 1 teaspoon (for garnish)





  • Dry roast murmura for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Heat ghee in a non stick pan.  Add crumbled jaggery, 1/4 cup water, and brown (or white) sugar.  It's ok to skip the sugar.  Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring as needed.  Add 2 tablespoons of milk. keep stirring as needed, and simmer for another 5 minutes.  The jaggery mixture will caramelize into dark brown color.  You know it's done when you take a drop of that mixture and put it  water and a ball forms instead of disintegrating.
  • Add roasted murmura to the above mixture and mix well. Turn off the heat.
  • Form into desired sized balls while the mixture is still warm, being extra cautious as if it's hot, it may burn your hands.  Apply either some water or ghee on your hands while forming the balls.  
Enjoy!!




Amaranth Squares | Rajgira Chikki



As you probably have read here, this is the part of my chikki making spree. Having wanted to make Amaranth squares for a long time, I thought this was the perfect time for it.

Amaranth, also known as Rajgira or Rajagra is a Super Grain (though it's a seed and not a grain), is known to have existed and being used for almost 6-8,000 years, but it's only in recent times that it has been shining to glory and year 2015 is going to be the year of Amaranth and likes!  I have listed it's long list of benefits towards the end of the post.  Unlike lot of healthy food items, this one actually tastes really good too, and The fact that it's loaded with protiens and all the goodness is only an added benefit. 

Rajgira Chikki is very easy to make. This can be made either using the already popped amaranth available in stores, or you can buy the seeds and pop it at home, almost like popcorn, with slight variation.  These are tiny seeds.  I bought the organic version of seeds from the whole foods.

Recipe:

Amaranth seeds - 1 cup [I bought the organic seeds from Whole Foods]
Jaggery - 1 cup [preferably the kind used for making chikki. I did not have that on hand so I used the regular kind]
Brown sugar - 1 tablespoon
Water - 1/4 cup
Milk - 2 tablespoons
Ghee (clarified butter) - 2 teaspoons
Rose water (optional) - 4 drops
Rose petals (optional) - 1 teaspoon (for garnish)
  • Heat a non-stick wide bottomed pan.  Keep the lid of the container handy.  When the pan is hot, add 1 teaspoon of amaranth seeds at a time, making sure the seeds are spread in one layer and not on top of each other.  Put the lid on.  The seeds will start popping right away. Check in between to make sure these are not burning.  Once the seeds stop popping (which should be somewhere around 30 seconds to a minute), remove the seeds and keep them aside, repeat with the remaining seeds, 1 teaspoon at a time.    1 cup of seeds, when popped, will turn to 3+ cups of popped seeds.  Keep it aside. 
  • Heat ghee in a non stick pan.  Add crumbled jaggery, 1/4 cup water, and brown (or white) sugar.  It's ok to skip the sugar.  Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring as needed.  Add 2 tablespoons of milk. keep stirring as needed, and simmer for another 5 minutes.  The jaggery mixture will caramelize into dark brown color.  You know it's done when you take a drop of that mixture and put it  water and a ball forms instead of disintegrating.
  • Add rose water, mix.  Add popped amaranth seeds to the above mixture and mix well. Turn off the heat.
  • Grease a baking plate or any square/rectangle plate with a few drops of ghee.  Transfer the mixture to the plate and flatten it.  Sprinkle dried rose petals on top.  Divide into squares using a knife, while the mixture is still warm.  Remove the squares from the plate once cooled down.
Enjoy!

And now for the benefits of Amaranth:
  • Amaranth is gluten free super grain. It contains Lysine, an amino acid.  This makes amaranth a complete protein, because it contains all the essential amino acids.
  • Amaranth’s protein content is about 13 percent, or 26 grams per cup, which is much higher than for most other grains. 
  • It is A Source Of Key Vitamins And Minerals: Amaranth contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. One cup of uncooked amaranth has 31 percent of the RDA for calcium, 14 percent for vitamin C, and a whopping 82 percent for iron.
  • It is s also a good source of fibre with 13 grams of dietary fibre per uncooked cup. 
[Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/03/26/benefits-of-amaranth_n_5036060.html]




Chikki Pops | Peanut, Gram, Sesame, Amaranth, and Puffed Rice Brittle Pops


Happy Makarsankranti, Lohri, Pongal, Bihu.  Wishing you always soar high, just like the Kites in the sky! 

So I went on a Chikki making spree - made 5 different kinds - not once had I ever tried making chikki ever, and it sure did test my patience, perseverance, dedication, and cooking skills (or lack there of).  In the end,  I had to wing it, adding this, and fixing that, as I went. It came out okay. If you are an expert, you need not look at this recipe, it's not for you :) But if you are a novice chikki maker like I am, join me in this journey and together we'll make something close to chikki for sure!  

This and the following 2 blog posts here and here are dedicated to my chikki making adventures as well.



Chikki or brittle can be made by flattening it in a plate or making it into balls etc.  I decided to give it a fun, contemporary look and hence made Chikki Pops. 

The following recipe is for 5 different kinds of Chikkis.  Some of the steps are the same for all and so I will write individual notes for each, but write common steps for all.

Recipe:

Peanuts OR Daliya (roasted bengal gram) OR Sesame seeds OR Amaranth seeds - 1 cup.  If making murmura chikki, click here for the recipe <link>
Jaggery - 1 cup [preferably the kind used for making chikki. I did not have that on hand so I used the regular kind]
Brown sugar - 1 tablespoon
Water - 1/4 cup
Milk - 2 tablespoons
Ghee (clarified butter) - 2 teaspoons
Rose water (optional) 4 drops
Rose petals (optional) - 1 teaspoon (for garnishing)

Please note:  The above ingredients are enough for just 1 kind of Chikki.  In case you want to make all 5, then you will need 1 cup each of all of those 5 ingredients plus the remaining ingredients * 5 times.


  • Take the main ingredient with which you are planning to make the chikki, and process each of these as mentioned in the note at the end. [Please see individual notes below for each ingredient]
  • Heat ghee in a non stick pan.  Add crumbled jaggery, 1/4 cup water, and brown (or white) sugar.  It's ok to skip the sugar.  Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring as needed.  Add 2 tablespoons of milk. keep stirring as needed, and simmer for another 5 minutes.  The jaggery mixture will caramelize into dark brown color.  You know it's done when you take a drop of that mixture and put it  water and a ball forms instead of disintegrating.
  • Add the processed main ingredient to the above mixture and mix for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Form into golf sized balls while the mixture is still warm, being extra cautious as if it's hot, it may burn your hands.  Apply either some water or ghee on your hands while forming the balls.  Insert a pop stick to form a pop. 
Enjoy!!

Individual notes for each ingredient:

For Peanuts: Dry roast the peanuts till it crackles. Let it cool. Remove skin from most (not all) of the peanuts.  Coarsely chop the peanuts with a rolling pin. 

For Daliya: Dry roast the daliya. 

For Sesame seeds: Dry roast the sesame seeds. 

For Amaranth seeds: Heat a non-stick wide bottomed pan.  Keep the lid of the container handy.  When the pan is hot, add 1 teaspoon of amaranth seeds at a time, making sure the seeds are in one layer and not on top of each other.  Put the lid on.  The seeds will start popping right away.  After 30 seconds or so, the seeds will stop popping.  Check in between to make sure these are not burning.  Once the seeds stop popping (which should be somewhere around 30 seconds to a minute), remove the seeds and keep them aside, repeat with the remaining seeds, 1 teaspoon at a time.    1 cup of seeds, when popped, will turn to 3+ cups of popped seeds.  Keep it aside.