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War of the Worlds (Part 2) - Shira / Rava Halva

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Dear Readers,

You may remember the legendary battle of ‘Upma vs. Shira’ that raged in our household during my childhood. Well, it continues to date with no signs of respite. In fact, with my husband and daughter joining my brother, the sweet toothed ‘Shira’ gang is stronger than ever. So I have decided to make peace….ahem…at least temporarily. In the spirit of the olive branch, here is the recipe for Shira. Enjoy!

 

PS: We are very pleased to announce the arrival of our younger daughter. Hoping that this little bundle of joy will join her mom in the savory gang.

  

Ingredients:

- 1 ½ cup sugar

- ¼ tsp salt

- 5 to 6 cups water

- Handful of cashew nuts

- Handful of raisins

Following items are available in local Indian stores.

- 2 cups rava/soji/cream of wheat

- 4 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

- 1 tsp cardamom powder

 

How To Make:

Roast rava on medium heat in a pan/wok until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Boil water in a pot separately and keep ready to add to the rava.

 

Heat ghee on medium heat and add the roasted rava. Roast further for another minute Add cardamom powder,salt, sugar and stir until well combined. Add the boiling water, turn the heat to low, and cook covered until all the water is absorbed and the rava mix looks fluffy. Give it a taste and adjust sugar per taste while the shira is still hot. Garnish with cashews and raisins.

 

Tips

- For a richer shira, use milk and water in half and half proportions ie., about 3 cups of milk and 3 cups of water.

- You can also garnish with slivered almonds and pieces of dates.

The Bestest Mom - Khova (Mawa) Besan Roti

"Mom, you are the bestest! Ever!" exclaimed my 3 year old, as she gave me a big hug one busy morning. The lunch box I was preparing for her almost hit the ground as I jumped in shock. Such hugs had gotten rare in the last few weeks since the arrival of her baby sister.

She noticed the quizzical look on my face and offered an explanation – “It was so nice of you and aaji (grandma) to make me the sweet roti…cuz I like it so much!!” My heart melted in an instant…. just like the ghee she had dolloped on to the sweet roti the previous night.

I was back again, at the top of my daughter’s list of favorite people. Who knew that my dear mom’s Khova-Besan Roti would do the trick. Thanks mom, for all your love & support!

To the bestest moms, ever!

Ingredients:

For the stuffing,

- 1 cup khova

- ½ cup besan flour

- 4 tbsp ghee

- ½ tsp cardamom powder

- 1 cup sugar

- Milk (if needed to bind the filling)

For the roti,

- 6 cups whole wheat flour

- 1 tbsp vegetable oil

- Water (as needed to make dough)

Note: Khova, besan, ghee, whole wheat flour and cardamom powder are available in local Indian stores.

How To Make:

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a non-stick pan, add besan flour and roast on medium heat until golden brown. Mix the khova, roasted besan, remaining ghee, cardamom powder, sugar. Heat on medium until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is homogenous. Cool to room temperature and make 1 inch discs. If the mix is too hard, add a little milk to soften it.

Mix the whole wheat flour, vegetable oil. Slowly pour water and knead the dough until it is the same density/consistency as the filling. Make ¾ inch balls and flatten by pressing with your palm.

To make the roti, place the filling disc on a flattened piece of dough. Cover it with another piece of dough and crimp the edges together with your fingers such that the filling stays inside the dough.

Roll out the roti with a thick rolling pin. Roast the roti on a non-stick pan on medium heat until done. Makes about 30 rotis.

Tips

- This roti tastes good both warm or at room temperature

- Serve it with a dollop of ghee (clarified butter) for a rich taste

Summer State of Mind - Lemonade With Watermelon

It’s early in the morning and the sun is already beating down on the window pane.  I check the clock and it’s barely 6 am. Wow! Where did the night go?

A typical summer morning starts. Husband and I are scrambling to get the kids ready and get to work. The 3 year old is cruising at a leisurely pace and the baby is blissfully unaware of space and time. In my mind, I keep replaying previous evening's fun.....grilling in the backyard, a long walk afterwards under the starry summer sky and the exciting discussions about our upcoming travels. My brain is enveloped in a certain peace and quiet while the day-to-day chaos keeps churning around me.

Is it the long days and short nights? Or, the heat and humidity? Is it the myriad get togethers with friends? Or, the fun trips and outings? Is it the endless hope and optimism? Or just, the boundless enthusiasm?

Whatever it is, nothing can beat the Summer State of Mind!

 

Ingredients:

 

- 6 cups freshly made watermelon juice

- ¼ cup fresh lemon/lime juice

- Sugar (to taste if needed)

- 1 cup crushed ice

- Pinch of salt

- Ice cubes (if desired)

 

How To Make:

In a blender, put watermelon pieces and make 6 cups of juice. Mix the lemon/lime juice, salt and sugar (if needed). I prefer the natural sweetness of watermelon to flavor this dink but sugar can be added for extra sweetness. Stir well and add crushed ice. Serve over ice cubes for additional chill.

 

Tips

- Instead of regular ice cubes, you can use watermelon ice cubes to avoid dilution and for a more dramatic presentation. Just freeze watermelon juice beforehand ice trays.

- Add a dash of vodka to make a watermelon cocktail.

- Serve with some mint leaves or lemon rind on top of the glass for a beautiful presentation

 

Seasons Eatings (Part 3) - Caramel Sweet Potato Bites

Ingredients:

- 2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potato

- 1 cup non-fat dry milk/milk powder

- 1 cup evaporated milk

- 4 tsps sugar

- Slivered almonds

- Caramel sauce (store bought works just fine)

 

How To Make:

Thoroughly mix the mashed sweet potato, milk powder, evaporated milk and sugar. Cook the mixture in a microwave for 8 – 9 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Cool the mix until its warm to touch and then make bite size discs (about 1 inch in diameter). Garnish each disc with slivered almonds. Allow to cool to room temperature and drizzle caramel sauce before serving, This treat can also be served chilled.

 

Tips

- You can garnish the bites with cashews, raisins or other nuts of your choice

Seasons Eatings (Part 2) - Veggie Casserole

Ingredients:

- 2 pounds frozen mixed veggies (cauliflower, carrots, peas)

- 1 pound mild cheddar cheese, cubed small

- 1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

- 1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped oregano leaves

- 4 cups crumbled salted crackers (I prefer Ritz crackers)

- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika or cumin powder

- 1 teaspoon cayenne or red chilli powder

- 1 tablespoon black pepper

- 1 stick melted butter

 

How To Make:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Defrost the frozen veggies in microwave.

 

Using a plastic bag, crush crackers. Add the thyme, oregano, paprika/cumin, cayenne/chilli powder, pepper and melted butter until well combined. Set aside the topping.

 

Prepare a large baking dish by lightly greasing with butter. Add the veggies, cheese and spread the cracker topping on top. Wrap with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until all the cheese is well melted. Remove the foil and bake up to 5 more minutes until the topping is golden brown in color. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Tips

- You can make this casserole beforehand and warm up in the oven at 200   degrees for 10 minutes before serving.

- For a less spicy version, you can omit cumin and chilli powder from the topping.

- You can use other sturdy cheeses like colby jack and pepper jack.

 

 

 

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