Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sweets For A Sweetie

A few months ago a baby girl was born in our family.
We now have another niece and the children have another cousin to dote over, to spoil, and to love unconditionally. Though I haven't met her yet we already have a special bond; she, my father, and I share the same sun sign!

Maharashtrians celebrate the birth of a baby boy by distributing pedhe and burfi if it is a baby girl.
Why the difference? Pedhe were supposedly more expensive than burfi; the underlying thought being that the joy was greater when a boy was born and so the extra expense is justified.

In Marathi, the pedha is assigned a masculine gender while the burfi is assigned a feminine gender (to pedha ani tee barfi).
In our family we prefer this explaination to the earlier one.

This burfi is in honor of my newest niece.
Sandeepa's microwave recipe for kalakand, besides being utterly delicious, is extremely easy.
In its simplest form calls for just three ingredients, ricotta cheese and condensed milk and elaichi. I added keshar (saffron) to make it extra special.

Condensed milk is not something I enjoy as it is way too sweet for my palate. But combined with ricotta cheese the result is out of this world.

This is my entry to MBP:Less is More, hosted this time by the hostess with the mostest Nupur!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cool Off

Recently a friend very generously shared some kokum that her family had sent all the way from India. The same day I happened to borrow from her the definitive book on Saraswat cuisine, Rasachandrika.
While perusing the book I came upon the recipe for kokum saar.
Though I had intended to serve it for dinner that day, I ended up chilling the saar and enjoying it as a pre-prandial aperitif. Since then this has been the beverage of choice for the significant-other and me. Move over carbonated drinks and corn syrup laced fruit juices!
By coarsely grinding the cumin and peppercorns, you occasionally bite on the piece of the spicy peppercorn or the comparatively sweeter cumin. Lovely!
For an oil-free version, check Ashwini's recipe for kokum saar.

Kokum Sarbat
Inspired by Kokum Saar from Rasachandrika.

6-8 pieces of kokum (amsool)
4-5 black peppercorns
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp oil
sizable dash of asafoetida
sugar (jaggery) and salt, to taste.
a couple of stalks of cilantro

Soak the kokum in 2 cups of hot water and set it aside for atleast ½ an hour.
Squeeze the kokum to extract as much of the juice. Save the skins for a kokum chutney, see below.
Lightly roast the peppercorns and the cumin.
Grind then to get a coarse powder. We don't want a fine powder.
Heat oil, add the asafoetida and the peppercorn-cumin powder.
Add the kokum water and turn off the heat.
Cool completely before adding the sugar and salt.
Garnish with cilantro.
Serve chilled.

You can make a simple chutney by grinding together the kokum skins, garlic, green chillies, and a bit of salt.
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