Aloo paratha is an Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour, stuffed with mashed and spiced potatoes.
Harsha is here for holidays and we thought a quintessentially Indian recipe should be posted soon. What better than aloo paratha? I add some besan (chickpea flour) to the whole wheat flour as this gives it a sturdier structure and imparts a robust flavour. My stuffing contains onions as we like it that way but it can be omitted if you do not like it.
Recipe: Aloo paratha – Potato stuffed Indian flatbread
For the covering:
Wholewheat flour, coarse stoneground preferably (Chakki atta) – 2.5 cups
Chickpea flour (Besan) – 1/2 cup
Salt (I use rocksalt) – 1 tsp. OR to taste
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp. (optional)
Any neutral tasting oil (I use sunflower oil) – 2 tsp.
Water to knead (About 200ml)
For the filling:
Potatoes, quartered – 5, medium sized
Red onion, finely chopped – 1, small
Green chilli, chopped – 1 OR to taste
Coriander, finely chopped – 10-15 stems
Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 tsp.
A generous pinch of ground black pepper
For the covering:
Place the dry ingredients and oil in a bowl and stir to distribute spices and flour uniformly.
Add oil water, a ladle or two at a time to knead into a soft, pliable, non-sticky dough.
If needed use oil sparingly (just a dash or 1/2 tsp.) to gather the dough towards the end. Cover and set aside while making the filing.
For the filling:
Steam potatoes till done, about 15 minutes. You can boil or pressure cook but steaming ensures that the potatoes do not have excess moisture, hence recommended. Baking works well too.
Meanwhile chop a small red onion, green chilli and coriander, and place in a bowl.
Peel the potatoes and add to the onion mixture.
Add the spices (roasted cumin powder, salt and pepper) and mash well with a fork while the potatoes are still hot. Use your hands or a spoon to bring the mix together, if needed.
To make the parathas:
Place a tawa, skillet or pan to heat. Bring to medium heat. Once hot, lower the heat.
Pinch enough dough to form a ball that is about 2 inches sphere. Shape it into a cup with your fingers as shown in the video, keeping the bottom thicker than the edges.
Place about 2 tbsp. of the filling into the cup and gather the edges as shown in the video to seal with the dough.
Flatten between your palms and pat over dry whole wheat flour. Roll into a roti about 6-7 inches in diameter.
Baste with oil and flip carefully after half a minute (this depends on how hot your pan is – use your judgment). Baste again with oil and press with the pancake turner or a small flat bowl all over the surface gently to help even roasting. Flip again and do the same. When cooked and roasted to your liking remove onto a plate.
Paratha is generally served with pickled onions, spicy Indian pickles, thick curd and a dollop of butter. I have used my original recipe for vegan cashew curd made with green chilli starter, and vegan earth balance butter bought by Harsha during her visit.
So, I am back with a recipe after a long time. Take a look at my raw vegan vanilla doughnuts;
#Raw #Gluten-free #Refined-sugar free #Nocook and yet quite bread-y!
For some years now I have been considering a raw-vegan diet. I also found that while ‘considering’ is very easy, the temptations of cooked food is very very strong, and difficult to give up totally. What happened was this. I would make myself something raw and cook for the rest of the family and then I would end up eating both. Naturally, the result at the end of a year was not the same as envisioned.
Anyway, I am starting again, this time I am trying to eat two raw meals a day and one cooked meal. It has been only a week or so, but I am getting more creative this time. Earlier my raw meals were mostly salads drizzled with one of the many sauces already on the blog. My favourite remains the cashew parsley dip. But then, I was never a salad person and that I think was the main reason why I kept going back to cooked food. Salads never made me as full as grains. I still like salads but in small portions. Now, I make actual raw meals such as rice and gravy, cakes, cookies etc. None of them taste the same as cooked versions but they taste good and leave similar mouth feel.
This morning I made raw doughnuts. There was no prior planning. In fact, I didn’t know I would make doughnuts till the wee hours of the morning and I remembered the soaked macadamia nuts that needed to go into an ice cream. I got up to churn it but the blender didn’t do a good job as the quantity was very little. That is when I decided to add in a few more things and turn it into a filling breakfast. I glazed it as well. 🙂 Don’t they look good?
These doughnuts are filling, though raw. These may not have the texture of regular doughnuts but taste quite bread-y. And, these are very easy to make. Do try. If you take a photograph, instagram it with hashtag #tongueticklersveganrecipes and tag me. It will make me pleased as a punch. 🙂
This recipe will freeze well and can be thawed when needed. But they are a cinch to prepare and are best eaten fresh.
Recipe: Raw Vegan Vanilla Doughnuts Yield: 6 doughnuts, each 2.5″ in diameter
You will need a clean muslin cloth to pat the doughnuts on
Macadamia nuts – 15-20, soaked overnight
Old fashioned rolled oats – 3 tbsp.
Vanilla paste – 1/4 tsp.
Chia seeds, soaked for about 10-15 minutes in water – 1 tbsp.
Maple syrup (or any other raw sweetener of your choice) – 1-2 tsp. (as per taste)
A tiny pinch of salt
Almond powder to pat on
Cashewnut powder – 3 tbsp.
Maple syrup – 1/2 tsp.
Vanilla paste – A drop or two
Drain and rinse the macadamia nuts.
In a chutney jar or small blender (as the quantity is very less) pulse the nuts till it breaks down to small bits.
Tip in the chia seeds, oats, maple syrup (1 tsp.), salt and vanilla paste. Pulse. Stop to scrape the sides back into the centre. Give a good mix and pulse again. Repeat till the dough comes together.
Empty the contents into a clean bowl and mix with your hands. Taste for sweetness. The dough should have just a hint of sweetness – as sweet as doughnuts taste without the glaze. If needed drizzle a little maple syrup and blend with your fingers. Divide the dough into six spherical balls.
Wet the muslin cloth and spread it over clean counter or clean chopping board.
Pat each dough ball into 1cm thick cookie. Make a hole in the centre with your index finger. If the sides crack, just stick the dough together.
Place the doughnuts in the refrigerator till you make the glaze.
To make the glaze: Place the ingredients in a chutney jar. Add 1/4 cup of water and blend into a smooth icing.
To serve, remove doughnuts and liberally drizzle with the icing.
Actually, you won’t be able to do that. I mean, the drizzling. The glaze is too delicious to restrict it to a ‘drizzle’. Make lots of it. Dunk the doughnuts. Spoon some more glaze and lick on. 🙂
This recipe is also perfect for Winter, for in-between snacks or for breakfast. What is not to like?
When Harsha was here, we did many videos together, with my son sometimes chipping in as an assistant to hold the umbrella over the light source. 🙂
One of the most popular recipes on tongueticklers is kaaju barfi. Many of you have made it and shared it virtually with me. I also received requests to post a video as the concept of Indian sweets can be tough to understand as we do not use temperature scales to specify ‘sugar candy stage’. Instead we use the concept of ‘one-thread, two-thread’ etc.
Once you get a hang of the above concept, making Indian sweets is a breeze. I posted the link to the video on my personal facebook page, and yesterday my super-talented blogger friend Chinmayie confirmed that they turned out well. Do try it! Do not forget to share your photographs with me on instagram, tongueticklers facebook page or twitter with our readers. Spread the love by subscribing to our channel and sharing the video with friends and family.
As I mentioned a while ago, my daughter Harsha has joined me in writing and revamping my youtube channel, that I haven’t posted on in 7 years. Ever since Harsha moved away to study, we have been looking for opportunities to film videos whenever we can to showcase the slightly trickier recipes that are difficult to explain in writing. When she returned for break this summer, we finally filmed a few videos to post.
We are going to start with the basics like roti dough and paratha, and hopefully offer a lot of food porn for everyone! This is going to be the first of many and we hope you will enjoy this journey as much as us 🙂
Click on Tongue Ticklers to check out our channel and be sure to subscribe for more!
Gnochhi (nyo-kee) (singular – gnoccho) are little potato and flour dumplings from Italy. The making process very much resembles the making of ‘gatte’ (singular – gatta), a gluten free dumpling from Rajasthan (India) made with gram flour (besan). Each has its own characteristic taste and gatte can very well be used as a base to make gluten free gnocchi. To know more about gatte check my detailed post – how to make gatte.
My liking for gnocchi is an offshoot of my love for movies. Poetry, sayings, music, movies and other arts often inspire me to cook.
If you have watched The Godfather trilogy with as much dedication and passion as I have, even as many times as I have, you’d start to notice things. For instance, the gnochhi making scene between Vincent (Andy Garcia) and Mary (Sofia Coppola). I think the fact that Andy Garcia could roll a gnoccho as well as he did, added to his hotness quotient. There are times I may forget his name but I will never forget the delicate handling of the dough and how he rolls it – like a true Italian mamma! Ever since I saw that scene I have wanted to eat homemade gnocchi. 😀
I also noticed when I saw the movie for the seventh or eighth time that Joe Mantegna, whom I know from the television series Criminal Minds, played the part of Joey Zaza in The Godfather, and I felt thrilled for some reason. When you see a familiar actor in a movie it is like meeting an old acquaintance. 🙂
I have made gnocchi quite a few times at home since the film. The first time it was the Garcia effect but the other times I was driven solely by compulsion – most ready gnocchi packages contain eggs. Looking up about authentic gnocchi I found that the original Italian version was vegan and that the additional of eggs is a fairly recent development.
In order to get a tasty product, it is necessary to keep a few pointers in mind:
Type of potatoes: Use potatoes that are floury and not gummy. Remove any eyes and cut off discoloured portions before ricing.
Cooking method: Bake the potatoes in jackets on a bed of salt as advised by Chef Marco Pierre White, or steam rather than boil. The idea is to keep moisture to a minimum, and consequently control the amount of flour used.
Ricing: You can use a fork to cut the cooked potatoes and a vegetable masher, but using a potato ricer makes ricing very easy and is therefore recommended.
Flour to potato ratio: Start with the ratio of 1:4, i.e., the weight of flour added should be 1/4th the weight of the potatoes after cooking and removing the skin. I tried making gnocchi with less and more flour and found that this ratio seems perfect. Even with 1/4th flour, the dough is slightly sticky but if you flour your hands and the board it is easy to handle the dough. More flour leads to gnocchi tasting more of flour and with no flavour from the potatoes. I use all purpose, refined flour and it is good enough. I don’t have other choices though. Maybe I should try whole wheat flour next time.
Grooves or no grooves: The use of a gnocchi paddle or rigagnocchi is a cosmetic effect and not a necessity, as effectively demonstrated by Mr. Garcia. 🙂 But do press and curl the gnocchi as the groove created helps hold the sauce, and not the ridges made by the paddle. I have two paddles though and I like using them. 🙂
Recipe: Home made gnochhi (Adapted from Memorie di Angelina – Very informative) Serves: 1 heavy eater or 2 light eaters
Potatoes, steamed, and skins removed – 330g
All purpose flour (maida) – 75g + 1 or 2 tbsp. if needed
Salt – A generous pinch
Water – To boil the gnocchi in
Steam potatoes, or bake on a bed of coarse salt till fork tender. Remove skin while hot and weigh.
Flour a wooden board or your work surface. Push the potatoes through a food mill or ricer while warm onto the work surface. Spread a little.
Add the salt and sprinkle the flour (1/4th the weight of the potatoes) all over the potatoes.
Using a dough scraper or your palms, make a dough by folding the potatoes from the outer edge to the center, mounding the dough while pressing it together. Repeat pressing gently and forming a dough. Do not knead the dough as you do not want to activate the gluten in the flour. You can use the scraper to fold and cut if you need. The dough should be ready in 5 minutes. If it seems very sticky, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour on the work surface and incorporate. I like mine a little sticky as a tacky dough requires more flour and results in a less robust gnocchi. Form a cylinder and cover with a clean towel allowing the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
After ten minutes, cut the dough into five uniform pieces using the scraper. Remove one piece and roll on a floured work surface into a rope about 1 cm thick. Cut the rope into 1/2 inch or 1 inch pieces as per your liking.
Next watch Mr. Garcia guiding Ms. Coppola on rolling a gnoccho. Drag yourself back and start making!
These will work well even without the ridges. If using a gnocchi paddle, dust it with a little flour, place a gnoccho near the top end with the cut plump side down and the flatter end facing upward. Press the lower end of the gnoccho gently and roll the top end over, gently bringing it down. This will form a curl and a groove for holding the sauce or spices while the plump top gets a grooved appearance. Form the rest of the gnocchi. I got about 3-3.5 cups, loosely packed.
Heat a litre of water and salt it as per taste (About 1.5 tsp.), and bring it to the boil. Add about a cup of gnocchi. When the gnocchi raise to the top and start floating they will be cooked. Allow a minute and remove with a slotted spoon and add directly to the sauce or spices of your choice. If the sauce is yet to be made remove onto a well oiled bowl. Toss gently to coat with oil and to avoid the gnocchi from sticking or clumping.
This basic gnocchi can be used in a variety of ways – like an aglio olio pasta or in different sauces.
There are many other actors who inspire me to cook good food or eat well. You will know when I do my burger post!
After lot of thought and procrastination I finally decided that I should make a choice between work and joy. Joy won. During the past few years I felt lethargy creeping in every Monday and relief flowing in on Fridays. I’d look forward to weekends to indulge in cooking, photography and sharing things in this space, but since the last couple of years even this seemed to be turning into a chore. My boat was rocking, and for the first time in 6 years of blogging, in mid 2014, I felt that I had lost my balance. I tried to keep going, pushing myself. It took all my strength and left me sapped off energy on Mondays. I could see the lack of joy and inspiration in my hurried photographs. My day job was important to me but so is this space. It defines me. And rather than give up on my hobby, I chose to quit work.
So now, here I am. A full time food blogger available for food photography and ready to welcome new opportunities. I am still taking baby steps with renewed goals for life and that includes some changes in the blog itself. I do not know them yet for sure, but when I do, you will know too. Thank you for your emails and messages egging me to come back.
Some of you might remember Jr. H – my daughter. She has blossomed into a young woman and may now partner me in running this space. Please welcome Harsha – no longer junior. She is a film student and we are experimenting with food videos, with our limited space and resources. But it’s a start. I will let you know about the videos when they happen. Stay tuned.
While my head was buried in the sand (it was an expression a friend used for me once) during the last year a new discovery was rocking the vegan world – Aquafaba. Goose Wohlt found that the liquid left from cooking beans had the potential to be whipped, and displayed certain properties of egg whites. Harsha and I experimented with it last year with home cooked beans but it was a huge flop. I was busy with work and decided that I had better things to do. When I quit work, amongst the first things I did was buy canned chickpeas (organic, no salt) – weird for an Indian – and whip. The magic happened and I have been going around like a chickpea ninja. I have also been trying to whip up stiff peaks with liquid from home cooked chickpeas, and all this has left me with tub-loads of chickpeas. I share it with Shubhangi, and am forever trying different recipes with both the liquid and chickpeas.
One of the quickest dishes with well cooked chickpeas is hummus and I have made a lot of it these past few weeks. I dressed it with sumac, zaatar and other such Middle Eastern herbs and while searching for variations, came across Tara’s version of hummus with white miso. Tara O’Brady of Seven Spoons is a very talented food blogger, cookbook author and photographer, and when I read her version I knew I would like it very much. Harsha has been dabbling with Oriental foods for sometime now and influencing me as well. It means that the fridge is stuffed. I had miso. I always have tahini. There was toasted sesame oil so I was set to make this version. It is a delightful, refreshing variation. Please try.
Process sliced almonds in a food processor to a fine meal. Add chickpeas and blend, stopping and scraping frequently, till crumbly and light.
Add the rest of the ingredients starting with 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and process till the hummus is aerated and fluffy. I used some ice cubes along with the stock. The amount of water depends on the consistency of the cooked beans.
I also dripped in some toasted sesame oil as the motor was running. Taste and check seasoning. Adjust as required.
Let the hummus sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving, or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days. Hummus can be served with breads, and anything stuffed. It makes a versatile spread.
To garnish, heat a little olive oil, just enough to fry finely chopped garlic and sliced almonds. Pour over the hummus. Sprinkle aosa or powdered sea weed and microgreens. I used a lot of microgreens. They add crunch and freshness in each bite.
Do try the recipe and let me know how you feel about it. If you do share it with the tag #tongueticklersrecipes and share on instagram, facebook or twitter. Do tag me. 🙂 I’d love to see your perspective. Do not forget to visit the original recipe. Stay inspired.
My daughter was home last month for Winter break and that is when these cookies first got done. She bought me two small packs of lemon flavoured cookies and chocolate flavoured cookies, the vegan and gluten free kind. I fell in love with the lemony cookies and finished them off the same day (10 in a pack). They were quite expensive and I realised we needed to come up with a homemade version to keep up with the appetite. The shop bought ones could not be sustained in the long run.
H also brought 2 packs of vegan butter and I decided to put it to good use. Vegan butter is a rare thing to come by in India. It took me three batches to perfect the recipe. You can flavour it with spices of your choice. I like cardamom, lemon, five spice and star anise in my cookies – separately of course.
The cookies are extremely light, crisp and ‘melt-in-mouth’. H says ‘such stuff’ should be had with hot chocolate. Hmm… sound suggestion, no?
The cookie dough should be soft and supple, capable of being piped out of an icing bag (like ‘murukku’ or ‘chakli’ dough). If not, I suggest that you add a tbsp. of butter or coconut cream, beat the mix again till it is pipe-able. You can see that I have some typical round cookies as well as the traditional piped ones. I was just curious to see whether they roll out well. They do. But you have to be just a wee bit careful. If you want to roll them let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes, place it on your work surface and make smooth balls of small sizes. Flatten the dough between cling film, wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before rolling.
Please stick to the recipe if making for the first time. I often have readers who modify recipes and later ask me why their results varied.
I packed some of the cookies in a self-sealing paper bag that earlier held star anise. H says these cookies tasted the best of the lot. So, if you want to infuse them with flavours of your favourite spices you know what to do.
The piped cookies were piped to about 5 cm each with a large star nozzle fitted to an icing bag in which I placed the cookie dough. The round cookies were about an inch and half in diameter and about 3 – 4 mm thick.
Back then I used almonds, refined flour (maida) and butter. This time I used hazelnuts, sweet superfine rice flour and vegan olive oil based butter to make the cookies. We were pleasantly surprised as these cookies are even better than any store bought cookies – gluten free or otherwise.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 12-15 minutes per batch Yield: 80-90 cookies
Dairy free, vegan butter, at room temperature – 200g
Caster sugar or powdered sugar – 150g
1 vanilla bean
A dash of pink salt
Thick coconut cream (I used canned) – About 4 tbsp / 50g
Hazelnut meal or homemade hazelnut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill once and homemade on another occasion) – 100g
Superfine rice flour (I used ‘Nerapara idiyappam flour’) – 200g
Cornstarch / Cornflour – 200g
Oven temperature – 180 deg. Celsius.
A round 1.5″ cookie cutter for the round cookies and a large star nozzle for the piped cookies
A piping bag, silicone mat or parchment paper
Preheat oven to 180 deg. Celsius.
Whisk butter, salt, vanilla and sugar together using a hand blender till light and creamy. Add coconut cream and fold. Add the hazelnut meal into the mix and whisk again for a minute.
Sift cornflour and superfine rice flour together twice to blend. Add the mixture a cup at a time to the butter mixture and fold evenly with a wooden or silicone spatula. Continue adding the flour and mix until the dough is firm enough to be pressed out of an icing bag. It should be soft and sticky at this stage. The dough will firm up more as it rests.
To make piped cookies:
Fit an icing bag with a large size nozzle of your choice and fill some of the batter into it. Pipe out 2-3 inch long cookies onto a silicone mat or parchment paper, leaving some space in between. They do not spread much. If they spread, it indicates excess fat. You can counter by incorporating a little flour – try a tablespoon at a time. Refrigerate for 10 minutes while the oven is being pre-heated.
Pre-heat oven at 180 deg. Celsius with fan. Bake each batch for 10-12 minutes. Depending on the the size of the cookies they may bake within 8 minutes if the nozzle is small, and 12 minutes if it is a large one. Start checking after 8 minutes and if needed rotate the tray to ensure even baking.
The cookies are done if they start to brown around the edges.
Let cool for a minute on the tray before transferring to a cooling rack as these are fragile and break easily.
I made about 60-70 piped cookies.
To make circular cookies:
Divide the dough into manageable sizes. Form a supple sphere on your work space. Spread a cling film and keep the dough over the film in the center. Place another cling over the dough. Flatten the dough first and then roll into a thick circle. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to let the dough firm up. Remove and roll the dough upto 3-4mm thick. Remove the cling film that covers the dough and cut out 1.5 inch cookies with a cutter. Carefully transfer the cookies to a silicone mat or baking parchment with a flat spatula. Refrigerate the cookies with tray for 15 minutes and then bake at 180 deg. C. for 12-15 minutes. These cookies take longer to bake as compared to the piped cookies.
I made about 20-25 round cookies.
These last for at least a fortnight if preserved in air tight containers. That was the longest we could make them last.
The time taken varies in different ovens. Please check after 8 minutes to see if browned round the edges. Underdone cookies can be baked again but overdone cookies turn hard upon cooling. Overdone cookies may taste good sometimes (if not burnt) but the texture suffers.
Refrigerating the cookie dough after piping or formation works well if you have time. I have noticed that the cookies do not spread as much as they do when baked immediately. That translates as – the cookies hold their shape well when refrigerated, and that is important when baking gluten free. I also feel that this method results in crunchy and flavourful cookies.
If you make this recipe and enjoy the taste please send us a picture or share one on our face book page with your feedback. Your comments inspire me to create delicious recipes.
One week-day, when I was in a hurry and time seemed to be ticking away a little faster, I knew I could not wait for the ‘cashew barfi mix’ in the wok to cook even a minute longer, and poured it onto a jelly pan a few minutes earlier than I should have. I willed, but it wasn’t enough to set the barfi in the next ten minutes, and I had to leave for work leaving the barfi mix in the pan. When I returned home from work that evening, the barfi was still a little tender. I chided myself for hurrying up things. In an effort to save the dish I decided to bake it. It would surely stiffen, I thought. A few minutes later a divine aroma drew me to the kitchen. Inside the pan the cashew mix bubbled merrily with an appealing, brown tinge, but it did not stiffen. We ate the ‘cake’ in bits and teaspoonfuls, prising it off the pan. It was a delicious disaster – one that gave me the idea for this recipe.
Salt enhances and balances sweetness. When I made it again, this time with an idea of what I wanted, I salted cashews lightly, roasted them to golden brown, and then made the barfi. Hey presto! What I ended up with was very similar to milk cake; much lighter, much more delicious. I made some for my parents when I visited them this Summer and they loved it. My mother liked it so much that she asked me to prepare more for a family function and everyone who ate, enjoyed the new variety. Some barfis were fondly packed and sent off to cousins. I was humbled and joyous. The joy fed my soul. I knew then, that I had a delicious recipe to share with you.
I shared it with a close friend of mine, Neela, and she said, “this reminds me of Savitri’s milk cake.” I couldn’t have put it better. Savitri is another good friend who makes barfis out of thick milk, the dairy version. When I first ate this barfi, it reminded me of her cakes. I didn’t know whether I was right, but when Neela said, I felt overjoyed. Just for the record, Neela is not vegan, and if it reminded her of ‘milk cakes’, it means something, right?
The process of roasting the cashews to golden brown does that, and that pinch of salt. A warning; Even two pinches of salt can be too much. Just a pinch is fine, and it should blend well.
This is an original recipe.
Cashew barfis (roasted or otherwise) sold in shops, are made with addition of hydrogenated or non-hydrogenated fats apart from milk. They are not cholesterol free. My recipe is free of dairy, cholesterol and added fats. The only fat present is the fat inherently available in cashew nuts. The good fats, not the bad fats.
It is my request that if you use my recipe as is or use it as an inspiration please add a link to my post with due credit. Giving credit doesn’t hurt.
The advantage of vegan nut barfis is unadulterated taste of nuts and their flavour. Dairy products have strong flavours and mask the aroma and taste of prime ingredients.
The first part of the recipe is to roast cashew nuts in an oven. Cashew nuts can be roasted on stove top or oven, but I prefer the latter. Once the temperature and timer have been set in an oven, the nuts will be roasted uniformly, inside-out, without constant supervision. The second part of the recipe is to use the roasted nuts to make the cakes after powdering the cashews to a coarse consistency (rawadaar) as shown below.
Recipe: Bhuna hua kaju barfi | Roasted cashew barfi An original recipe
Cashew nut powder (I had about 2 cups of whole cashews, I think) – 268g | 2 + 1/4 cups approx.
A pinch or two of pink salt or powdered rock salt, very, very little but not to be omitted
White granulated sugar – 140g | 1 cup
Water – 1 + 1/8th cup
A jelly pan – 5 x 7 inches – greased with a drop of neutral oil
Parchment paper cut to line the pan. I grease it with just a drop of oil though its unnecessary.
A pan or wok with a thick bottom
A ladle to stir with
A piece of foil
Roasting the cashew nuts:
Pre-heat the oven to 150 deg. C for 10 minutes. Place the cashews in a single layer in a jelly pan. Sprinkle the salt over and toss. Bake for 30 minutes with the fan on. Every 10 minutes, open the door of the oven and toss the cashews around to ensure even roasting. It must turn golden brown. Cool to room temperature. Powder to a coarse, sandy mixture. You do not want to grind it too long as it will turn into cashew butter. Measure the powdered cashews. This recipe works for 268g of cashews. If yours is different, scale the recipe accordingly.
In a heavy bottomed vessel place the sugar and water. Stir and bring to a boil. Cook till reduced to a one-thread syrup. To check for one-thread consistency touch a drop of the syrup and stretch it between your index finger and thumb. If it stretches for half a centimetre forming a single thread and breaks beyond that, the desired consistency is reached.
Add the cashew nuts powder to the syrup and incorporate the powder into the syrup. Cook, stirring all the while for about 7-8 minutes on medium flame till the mixture swells slightly. The mixture should move as a single body when you move it with the ladle, and not stick to the bottom of the wok.
Update: Two readers who made this informed me that it took them only 4-5 minutes to reach the correct stage. As seen from the comments section, one reader says it got overdone. Please note that I cannot predict the timing for the stage accurately as the intensity of burners across stoves varies a lot. After 3 minutes have lapsed, keep an eye on the mixture and as soon as it moves as a cohesive unit, pour it to the prepared jelly pan or plate. The next time I make this, I will use a stop clock and watch for the time again.
Pour immediately into the prepared jelly pan. Let cool for 10 minutes. Mark the pieces with a sharp knife and scale. Cut along the lines when cool enough to handle.
This makes a very good offering for festivals, a delicious sweet to be served at weddings and on other special occasions, and a great gifting idea.
I haven’t tried with off-the-shelf salted cashews, but if you use them, make sure they are fresh and clean them with a tissue or tea cloth to remove excess salt. Salted cashews come with more salt than I have used here.
Observation and troubleshooting: This is for any kind of barfi – dairy or non-dairy, not just this one.
If the mixture turns into a crumble instead of a thick molten lava kind of liquid it indicates that you have overcooked. I have never gone this wrong but next time, I will try making a crumble and find a way to recover it. Till then you could follow the suggestion given by me in the comments section to another reader.
If the barfi does not set but remains a little gooey, it means it is underdone. It can be easily rectified by cooking for 5-6 minutes in a pre-heated oven at about 150 deg. C. However, the pieces may not turn out attractive, as the barfi will swell in the oven. What you can do is wait for it to cool a bit after baking. Flatten the surface gently with the back of another vessel and then score the lines. It will still retain some cracks but does not look bad at all. I have done this myself so I know it works.
Tamil: Thengai barfi | Hindi: Nariyal or narial ki barfi | Marathi: Narali pak or copra pak | Gujarati: Koperapak | English translation: Coconut candy squares | A quick sweet made with just coconut scraping, sugar and cardamom powder.
Till I came to Mumbai (then Bombay) I assumed coconut barfi was a South Indian preparation (thengai barfi) but soon found that it is a favourite in Maharashtra. There is no proper translation in English but since the process involves sugar being subject to a process similar to candy making, I term these ‘coconut candy squares’ or ‘coconut barfi’.
There are two ways to make thengai barfi. One method is to make a one-thread sugar syrup, add the coconut and cook the mixture to the correct stage. The other method involves cooking the coconut and sugar together allowing the candy stage to occur without addition of water. I prefer the second method because it yields a stiffer, less-soft product that is moist inside. I also find that the second method offers greater flexibility in regulating the amount of sugar.
North Indians seem to prefer a very soft barfi. I find it too sweet, very sticky and messy to eat. I also find the addition of artificial colour disturbing and hate if ‘rose essence’ is added to the barfi. ‘Copra vadi’ found in shops borders on the other extreme. They are dry and I end up crunching coconut cud for what seems eternity. Choosy? Yes.
Mum is responsible for making me so choosy. She has set the standards high, I tell ya! I make mine exactly like she does. Stiff on the outside and a wee bit moist inside. Why I like it? I can hold it without getting my fingers syrupy and moist, and because the moisture inside prevents the coconut from turning to cud.
Since I do not use a thermometer while making sweets it is a little difficult to describe the correct stage of candy. I observed the time and have done my best to describe it accurately.
How to recognise when the barfi is ready to be set:
Try swiping a little of the mixture on a relatively clean inner side of the ‘kadai’ or wok. Within 10-15 seconds the sugar will start to crystallise and the sweet will turn white. Even if the rest of the mixture in the kadai may not seem ready, trust me, it already is. The mixture will also swell a little but that is difficult to recognise till you make the barfi a few times. At this stage empty the mixture into the greased jelly pan. It should roll off easily in big lumps without sticking to the wok.
I use less sugar than the recommended measure. I understand from others that they like my version because it is not as sweet as shop-bought barfi. I recommend that you start with one cup of coconut and when you gain confidence, start making larger batches.
A rectangular or square jelly pan. You could use a round plate but a jelly pan ensures that you get more pieces and that they are all uniformly cut. I use a heavy bottom, aluminium pan to make this sweet as my cast iron woks are very small in size.
Measure by weight rather than cups. This way you can be sure about the amount of coconut held in one cup. Measuring in cups leaves room for errors.
Refined sugar can be substituted with brown sugar. I wanted white squares for the blog so, used white sugar this time. Generally I prefer raw sugar.
I used saffron strands and cardamom powder. A pinch of nutmeg instead of cardamom also lends a good flavour. All flavourings are optional. Rose water is a popular flavouring agent, but I positively detest it!
I use only freshly grated/scraped coconut. I haven’t tried and cannot recommend substituting fresh with desiccated coconut or dried coconut powder. I feel that the proportion of sugar would change drastically and this method may not even work.
Recipe: Tengai barfi | Coconut candy squares | Narali pak | Nariyal ki barfi | Koperapak Yield: about 35 pieces and some left over bites that were half the size of the rest
Allergen information : Gluten and casein free | Nut free | Dairy free | Free of added fat | Grain free
Freshly scraped coconut (only the white portion) – 280g | 3 cups
Granulated sugar (I used white) – 280g | 1 + 1/3rd cups
Freshly crushed cardamom powder – 1 tsp.
A few strands of saffron (Optional)
Grease a 7 x 9 inch jelly pan with a drop of neutral oil
Run coconut in a mixer for a short burst, just enough to crush it slightly but let it remain granular. Just a quick run. Careful! Don’t grind into a chutney.
Place the coconut in a heavy bottomed wok and mix granulated sugar into it.
Cook on medium flame for 7-10 minutes. Keep turning and tossing the mixture, mixing it well. Keep a watch on the flame and reduce it if even a few specks of brown start appearing. By now the sugar should have melted completely into the coconut, and the mixture should turn sticky.
Reduce flame, cook further for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be translucent and swell slightly now. To test, swipe the mixture on the ladle along the edge of the wok. If the sugar starts to crystallise and turn white, the candy stage has arrived.
Pour into the greased jelly pan. If rightly prepared, the coconut barfi should slide off the wok easily without sticking to it. Pat with a greased ladle. Or, cover the jelly pan with foil and smoothen the top with a flat surface till even.
Let cool for at least 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Mark the surface with lines cut with a sharp knife into desired size. When it cools completely, about 30-40 minutes, cut along the lines completely. Remove carefully, lifting the edges with a knife.
The best time to enjoy would be after the squares cool totally. For complete setting it takes about 12 hours. Store in an airtight container. It lasts for a long time, but I have tested only for 3 days so far.
Tie up a ribbon. Package it in a wooden box. It makes such a great gift for Diwali or for any of your Indian-sweets-loving-friends!
In my previous post I had shared a recipe for almond milk. While it is very tasty, it is not suitable for people allergic to nuts. Oat milk is nut free.
Some of you had requested that I post a cheaper alternative to dairy milk that can be taken on daily basis. This is perfect. I like it but prefer cashew milk. Here is the thing. You either love oat milk or hate it.
It is a safe alternative for babies and children, I recommend that you use your discretion and make an informed opinion. Addition of sweeteners is not recommended for babies as it makes them develop a sweet tooth at a tender age.
Is oat milk gluten-free or not?
Originally oat was a weed that grew alongside wheat (or rye or barley). Now oats is grown by itself as a crop but it is often processed in the same facilities that process wheat or any other grains that contain gluten. This could contaminate oats with gluten. Bottom line is you have to decide for yourself. Check the information on the package. Most packages mention the nature of processing. If oats are grown by themselves and processed in a factory solely meant for oats, they would be gluten free.
My daughter is gluten intolerant but she has not shown any reaction to commercially available oats. I have used Champion oats, Quaker as well Bagrry.
Oats groats or quick cooking oats?
The whole grains, after hulling are called groats. Oats groats are sold after cutting the whole grain, roughly into two or three pieces. These cook slowly.
Rolled oats mean steamed groats that have been rolled into thin flakes. These are quick cooking. I use bagrry’s quick cooking white oats mostly, as I do not have access to any other variety.
Characteristics of oats milk
Raw oat milk is not slimy but on cooking it thickens and turns a little slimy.
Refrigerated oat milk will separate. It is a natural process and does not mean that the milk has gone bad. Shake well before use and you will be fine.
Ratio of water to oats
Everyone has a different ratio. Its your choice. I use about 2.5-3 cups of water to 1 cup of oats. Don’t be stringent with the ratio. I suggest making a thick milk the first time using less water. Taste, and dilute further till you like the consistency.
I use tap water as it is clean and potable. Use water that is fit for consumption.
I use glass bottles with screw tops to store non-dairy milks I make at home. This way I can shake without causing spillage, and I also know the amount of milk left.
Once made, refrigerate. I do not store any non-dairy milk for more than 3 days.
Recipe: Oat Milk | Non-dairy alternative Allergen information: Soy free | Nut free | Gluten free | Dairy free | GFCF | Vegan Soaking time – Overnight or 7-8 hours Preparation time – 15-20 minutes
Rolled oats – 1 level cup
Water 3-4 cups
A pod of vanilla
A pinch of pink salt
Soak oats in enough water to cover it well and set aside with a lid on for about 7-8 hours or overnight.
Rinse soaked oats. Discard the soaking liquid. It is natural for it to be very slimy.
Blend drained oats with a cup of water till smooth. Strain through a cheese cloth. You can add the vanilla seeds later, after straining or add it to the blender with the drained oats. I add it later as I feel the precious vanilla seeds get wasted otherwise.
Repeat with the drained oats again adding half a cup of water. Strain and repeat once more. Stir in a pinch of pink salt or any other organic variety you use. Salt enhances the taste and flavour of oat milk and reduces its characteristic smell.
Bottle and refrigerate. Use it up in 2-3 days.
The best oat milk drink
The best sweetener is jaggery. Powder and add it to the required amount of oat milk and heat at medium flame. Keep stirring and do not let it thicken. The heating is only to ensure that the jaggery melts quickly. If it starts thickening put off fire and remove form heat. If you like it thick heat more.
This tastes like ‘vella payasam’. Vella payasam is a jaggery based coconut milk and rice porridge. Oats pairs best with jaggery. Sugar does not taste right to me, not even raw.
You can also have oat milk raw. Add date syrup to sweeten instead of jaggery.