Fudgy Coconut Balls

Fudgy is normally a word I would use with Chocolate, but the texture of these delightful morsels are quite dense and fudgy.

Coconut is one of my favourite ingredients and the combination of coconut and jaggery is a great one. This recipe is very simple and it can be stored for up to ten days in a cool place. I added cardamom powder but vanilla essence also works very well.

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PREP: 20 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups jaggery/brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 large coconut, grated
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • ¼ cup cashew nuts, chopped finely

Instructions

Bring the jaggery or brown sugar with the water to a boil in a large pan. Continue boiling until the temperature reaches the thread stage (110-112 C). Add the coconut and mix well. Continue cooking until the mixture leaves the sides of the vessel and comes together in the pan. Remove from heat and add the cardamom powder. Cool and form balls of the mixture using a small scoop if necessary. Roll them in the cashew nuts. Enjoy.

Ambrosia

This medley of fruits in a sugar syrup with dry fruits, honey and nuts is a dish that our family makes every year for a festival called Dussehra. It’s a celebration that lasts for about nine days and is celebrated by Hindus all over India.

I love the richness of this dish which is so satisfying and yet so light and refreshing. The aroma of the ghee and cardamom is delicious. It’s also vegan and could be served as dessert with a dollop of coconut cream.

It’s very simple to make. Once the sugar syrup is done you just have to add all the fruits and nuts, honey, ghee and cardamom. For those of you who want to cut down on sugar, you could add less of it.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 10 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

½ cup jaggery

½ cup water

1 apple

2 bananas

2 oranges, segmented

2 guavas, cut into cubes

1 cup grapes, cut into two

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp ghee

1 tsp cardamom powder

½ cup dates, chopped roughly

½ cup cashewnuts

½ cup raisins

Instructions

Combine the jaggery and water and cook over a moderate heat until the jaggery melts. Strain into another pan and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Add all the ingredients except the apple and bananas. Core and cut the apple into small cubes. Add to the sugar syrup immediately. Slice the bananas into the sugar syrup and mix well. Refrigerate and serve with a dollop of coconut cream.

Semolina Pudding

A very light and tasty pudding – this pudding is very easy to make. It’s called kheer/payasam in India. There are many varieties of this which can be made with sago, vermicelli, nuts and even bread. Most of them are milk based and it usually accompanies a traditional lunch or dinner.

Most Indian desserts have cardamom, saffron, nuts and raisins. This pudding also has edible camphor. A very little of it goes a long way. The taste that this camphor imparts to Indian sweets is very unique.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

  • !/2 cup semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup cashewnuts
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • A small pinch of edible camphor
  • ¼ cup+6 tbsp ghee
  • A few strands of saffron (optional)

Instructions

Heat a large wok or pan and add the 6 tbsp ghee. When it melts, add the semolina and saute it until it just starts to change colour. Do not allow it to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and add the cashewnuts. When they turn a light golden brown, add the raisins. When the raisins swell up, remove immediately and set aside.

If using saffron, take the strands in a small cup and pour about 1 tablespoon of hot water or milk on it. Using the back of a spoon, press the strands until the colour oozes out. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat the sugar and milk. Stir until the sugar has melted. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and add the fried semolina very gradually, stirring all the while. Do not allow it to form lumps. Cover and cook until the semolina is soft. Add the cardamom powder, saffron (if using) and the fried nuts and raisins. Remove from heat and cool. If it becomes too thick, you can add some more milk. I added another cup of milk and a little extra sugar. This can be served hot or cold.

Sweet Coconut Dumplings

These rice flour dumplings or ‘modaks’ as they are called in India are specially made during the Ganesh festival. There are many fillings that can be made, both sweet and savoury. However, they taste so good that I make it often. The one featured here contains coconut and jaggery.

Jaggery is a traditional cane sugar consumed in India. It is loaded with antioxidants and minerals, contains iron and folate, activates the digestive enzymes and acts as a detox.

The most important thing is to knead and portion the rice flour when it is hot and the dough should be kept covered with a damp cloth until all the dumplings are formed and is ready for the steamer. Rice flour from an Indian grocery store will be ideal for these dumplings.

The mould for the dumplings is available on Amazon. You can also roll it out into a circle and fold into a semi-circle after the filling is placed. Use a little water to dampen the edges and seal the edges with a pizza cutter.

This recipe makes about 20 dumplings.

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp salt

Filling

  • 2 cups coconut, grated
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

Heat the jaggery with the water in a pan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Strain the liquid and put it back on the heat. When the mixture begins to boil and becomes frothy, add the grated coconut and stir until the water is absorbed and the filling becomes sticky. Add the cardamom powder and set aside to cool.

To make the rice flour covering, bring the two cups of water, salt and ghee to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add the rice flour. Mix well. Cover and set aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will be crumbly. When the mixture is still hot, knead it until you have a smooth dough, using a little water if necessary. Divide it into 20 portions, rolling each portion into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth.

Oil the mould with a little ghee and stuff the rice ball into it. Spread it around the mould evenly and allow some of the dough to stick out of the mould. Place a tablespoon of the coconut stuffing inside. Seal the dumpling with the extra dough that is available. Make all the dumplings in the same manner, keeping the dough and the dumplings covered with a damp cloth until they are ready to be steamed.

Bring water to a boil and place the dumplings in a steamer for 10 minutes. Remove the steamer from the heat and let the dumplings sit for a while before taking them out of the steamer. Enjoy!

Sticky Caramelised Pears with Cardamom Custard

I was going through some recipes and came across one for caramelised figs. So, when I saw some juicy pears at the market, I decided to try and do the same with them. Pears are so versatile and are perfect with pastry, salad and puddings. This dessert looks so elegant and it’s really easy to make. Just the thing for a special dinner party!

I decided to pair the caramelised pears with a baked custard. The nice thing about baking a custard is that you can just fill the ramekins and pop them in the oven. So easy! I used cardamom powder to sprinkle on the tops of the custard. When I turned out the custard, the cardamom was nicely settled at the bottom and looked beautiful.

Absolutely delicious – succulent pears coated with this gooey, melted caramel sauce and the subtly flavoured cardamom custard. Just yummy!

Recipe:

Caramelised Pears:

8 small pears

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup castor sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed firmly

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

For the Cardamom Custard:

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

A pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

Method (Pears):

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Peel the pears leaving the stalk intact. Cut in half and remove the core. Rub the pears with the lemon juice.

Melt the butter in an oven proof frying pan. Add both the sugars and stir, but do not let it dissolve. Put the pears into the mixture with the cut side facing downwards. Spoon the melted sugar mixture over them occasionally. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, taking care to baste the pears from time to time.

Remove the pan from the oven and flip the pears carefully. Bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the cores are golden and the pears are cooked through. Transfer the pears to another dish and place the frying pan on heat. Cook the mixture for a few minutes until it is a rich golden brown. Add the honey, salt and vanilla and mix well. Remove from heat.

Method (Cardamom Custard):

Scald the milk. Combine the sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat well. Add the milk to the egg mixture gradually (you do not want to cook the eggs). Beat until smooth and pour the custard into 4 ramekins; place the ramekins in a shallow pan in hot water. Sprinkle the custard with the cardamom powder. Bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool and turn out carefully while serving. Serve with the pears and spoon the caramel on top.