Monday, April 13, 2009

Bombay Ice Halwa

Bombay Ice Halwa
Ingredients Method
1 cup fine white semolina
1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
4 cups sugar
4 cup cold milk
15 almonds thinly slivered
15 pistachios thinly slivered
1/2 tsp. cardamom granules crushed coarsely
3-4 pinches saffron strands crushed
1 tsp.rose water
2 large clean thick plastic sheets (approx.2 sq. feet each)
A few feet length of grease proof paper.

Introduction to Indian Sweets

Mix almonds, pistas, cardamom, saffron, keep aside.

Grease both sheets on one side, keep aside.

Mix semolina, ghee, sugar, milk in a large heavy pan.

Place on stove on high heat, bring to a boil while stirring continuously.

Reduce heat, stirring continuously, till a very soft dough is formed.

Take off heat, add rose water and 2 tbsp. ghee.

Temper by kneading with a spatula till smooth.

Place flattened lump in the centre of one sheet, greased side up.

Cover with second, greased side down.

Roll as thinly as possible with a large rolling pin.

Before almost done, sprinkle mixed topping evenly over halwa.

Finish rolling, carefully peel off top sheet.

Mark pieces as desired, with a pizza cutter, while still soft.

Cut similar pieces from grease proof paper. Keep aside.

When halwa is cool and stiff enough to handle, carefully lift pieces.

Pile interleaved with greaseproof paper, between each slice.

Store in airtight container.

Making time: 1 hour
Makes: 1 kg. approx.
Shelflife: 1 week at room temperature, 3 weeks refrigerated
Dosa Tips
The soaking time for the rice, etc. as well as the fermenting time for the batter are very important since underdone batter will not give the required body and crispness to the dosas.
Once you have mastered the basic recipe for dosa, the possibilities are umpteen. You can make fillings and chutneys of your choice and as per your palate, whether spicy or sweet or cheesy.
Even though all the preparations can be done way ahead of the meal time and kept in the fridge, the last stage, i.e. the spreading of the batter and roasting the dosa should be done as eaten to enjoy the crispness and crunchiness of this dish.
The sharper and thinner the front edge of the spatula, the easier and neater the lifting of the dosa.
Though parboiled rice can be replaced by plain rice if not available, some change in the texture of the end result is inevitable. However if you are not using parboiled rice, then increase the quantity of the plain rice against the dal by about 25 %.
I am not including making time in the recipes of this week because the making go dosas requires small amounts of your time at far spaced intervals. The main time consumer is the process of grinding. If a handgrinder is being used then the time will be far more than that taken in an electric grinder or mixie. However the quality of that dosa from the handground batter will be far better than from the latter.
All dosas need not be thin and crisp. Some (eg. Poha dosa) are very soft and fluffy. While others like the plain may be thin and very crisp.
As a general rule haet the griddle well, spread dosa on high and allow to shallow fry on low.
Always use a flat based round serving spoon to pour and spread the dosa. Start from the centre and move outwards in a circular concentric motion till the outer edge is reached.
Dosas are traditionally folded in the form of brandy snaps with opposite ends overlapping. However igenius and interesting folding can be done with/without fillings. Like triangles, squares, or open.

Masala Dosa

1 cup plain rice.
1 cup parboiled rice.
1/4 cup white udad dal.
1/2 tsp. methi (fenugreek) seeds
1 /2 tsp soda bi carbonate
1/2 cup curds the batter.
10-12 tsps. ghee or oil as preferred
water for grinding


Wash the rices and dal together.
Add plenty of water and methi seeds.
Allow to soak for 7-8 hours or overnight.
Rewash the rice by draining the water 2-3 times.
Grind to a paste. Rawa-like grains should be felt in
Add soda bicarb and salt and mix well.
Keep aside in a warm place for 8-10 hours. Beat the curds well.
Add to the batter, add more water if required.
The consistency of the batter should be
enough to thickly coat on a spoon when dipped.
Heat the iron griddle or non-stick tawa well.
Pour a spoonful of batter in the centre, spread
with the back of the spoon to a thin round.
Pour a tsp. of ghee or oil over it.
Spread chutney spread over dosa.
Place a tbsp. masala in the centre.
Fold into triangle to cover masala.
Remove with spatula when crisp.
Serve hot with chutney and/or sambar.

For masala:

2 large onions in vertical slices
2 large potatoes boiled and peedled
4-5 green chillies
1 tbsp. chopped coriander
8-10 cashews halved
1/2 tsp. each udad dal, cumin & mustard seeds
2 tbsp. oil
1/4 tsp. turmeric
salt to taste

Chop potatoes coarsely. Chop green chillies.
Heat oil, add cashews and brown lightly.
Add dal, seeds and splutter.
Add chillies and onions. Fry till tender.
Add turmeric, salt, potatoes, coriander.
Mix well.

Chutney spread:

1/2 cup grated coconut 4 red chillies or 1 tsp. red chilli powder
1 long bean tamarind
2 flakes garlic
1 tbsp. groundnuts
salt to taste

Grind all ingredients together to form a firm chutney. Use very little water.

Makes:10-12 dosas of 7 " diameter
Shelflife: Batter: 3 days in refrigerator
Chutney:2 days in refrigerator
Masala:1 day in refrigerator.

Rava Dosa

1 cup fine soji (semolina)
1/2 cup rice flour or plain flour
1 tbsp. oil
1/8 tsp. soda bicarb
2-2 ½ cups buttermilk
1 tsp. coriander chopped fine
2 green chillies chopped fine


Blend all the ingredients together.
Add more buttermilk if necessary.
ginger grated Roll the dosa in a three-fold cylinder.
oil to shallow fry Serve hot with onion and/or coconut chutneys.

The batter should be relatively thin. salt to taste Keep aside for 20 - 30 minutes.
Heat griddle and pour 1 large spoon of batter on it.
Spread by gently rotating the griddle.
Put some oil (1/2 tsp.) over dosa.
Lift with a spatula as for basic dosa.

Makes: 10 - 12 thin dosas
Shelflife: Fresh only.
Texture: Thin with polka sized holes, not too crisp, foldable.


Kadai Tips
It is known that Indian cooking is more diverse than the diversity of cultures of it populace.
Even the basic methods by which food is cooked is so varied, that expertise in Indian cooking for a learner, would be incomplete without learning the fine points of its varied techniques to cook, much before learning the variety of its dishes.
A Kadai is a not-so-shallow not-so-deep frying pan, of fairly heavy grade. Very thin ones will tend to burn the veggies and masalas before they can get fully cooked. It is similar to a chinese wok. These days there are plent of non-stick varieties available. But, in my opinion, nothing like a thick heavy grade hind alium kadai still.
Kadai cooking is one of such basic forms, other more known ones being tawa, handi, tandoor, etc.
In this method of cooking the vegetables, very little water is used. The vegetables are cut and cooked in such a manner that they tenderise in their own juice and juices of other veggies like tomato.
Little or no whole spices are used, in kadhai cooking. One the other hand, ground masalas (fresh and readymade, especially dry ones) are used profusely. This way, while the flavours are imparted and absorbed easily, time consumption , unlike handi cooking, is very little.
Sometimes, veggies which take long to cook are preboiled in very little water, so that any remaining water can be added to the kadai while cooking. These days, the microwave is very handy to boil or tenderise veggies in a jiffy, and that too with very minimal amount of water. The peas, etc. to be boiled must be washed, drained and very little salted water sprinkled over it. Mix. Microwave covered loosely, on high for 2-3 minutes, as required for particular vegetable. Peas, chickpeas required 2 1/2 minutes, chopped potatoes 4-5 minutes, tomato 1 1/2 minutes, zucchini 2 minutes, etc.
If the kadai used is of proper size then one can serve the dish straight from the kadai itself. Nowadays many sleek and pretty varieties are available in many shapes, sizes and materials. Some of the more populare ones are copper, non-stick, enamel ware etc.
Since kadai vegetables are best served fresh, I have not included 'Shelflife' in these recipes.
Though this week will cover most typical kadai veggies served, some more have been covered in other sections pertaining to vegetables, with variations from the typical kadai cooking.
Kadai Aloo (Potato)


2 Large potatoes boiled 2 hours ahead
(scrub well before boiling with skins intact)
1 Onion thinly sliced, vertically
1 Capsicum thinly sliced, vertically
1/2 Tomato diced
1/2 tsp. Ginger finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Garlic finely chopped or crushed
2 Green Chillies slit vertically
1 tbsp. Coriander leaves finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Garam masala
1/2 tsp. Amchoor powder
1/2 tsp. Dhania (Coriander seeds) powder
1/6 tsp. Turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. Pepper powder
1/2 tsp. Cumin seeds crushed coarsely
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. Oil


Chop potatoes into med. sized cubes, keeping skins.
Add all dry masalas, toss potatoes, keep aside.
Just before serving:

Heat oil in a kadai, add ginger garlic, stir for a moment.
Add onions, capsicum, stirfry till onions are tender.
Add tomatoes, chillies, stir for 1 minute.
Add seasoned potatoes, check taste for salt, etc.
Stir and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
If you prefer richer taste of potatoes, you may deep fry potatoes till go lden, before adding masalas. Of coarse the calorie count of the dish will shoot up!! But they taste heavenly. In this case omit amchoor powder, sprinkle juice of lemon instead, just before adding coriander leaves. Toss well to mix and then garnish.

Making time: 20 minutes (excluding potato boiling time)
Makes: 2-3 servings
Masala Tips
Most masalas can be made in a large quantity and stored easily in air tight jars at room temperatures. The secret lies in proper roasting of the ingredients and taking the right proportions. The masalas, if properly stored and kept away from moisture can stay good for at least 7-8 months. If any masala requires a different method, I will add it into the recipe. Otherwise, the general rule goes as below:

Take all ingredients and mix.
Put a few drops of ghee (5-6 drops for 1 cup), add ingredients and roast on low flame till crisp and golden. It should give off a strong spicy aroma. Cool.
Pound to a coarse powder, either in a mortar and pestle or dry grind in a mixie.
Use as required.
Note: Use a heavy pan or griddle (tawa) for best roasting.


Punjabi Garam Masala

Cumin Seeds - 100 gms
Cardamom - 50 gms
Black Pepper - 50 gms
Fennel (Saunf) Seeds - 30 gms
Black Cumin Seeds - 30 gms
Coriander Seeds - 30 gms
Cloves - 15 gms
Cinnamon - 15 gms
Bay Leaf - 15 gms
Ginger Powder - 10 gms (crushed dry root)
Mace - 15 gms
Nutmegs - 2 (broken)


Dry grind all ingredients except (if using) powdered ginger. Do not roast. Mix in the ginger powder well. Store as general.

Makes: 1 1/2 Cups.
Garam Masala (Fresh)

Cinnamon - 3" sticks
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tbsp
Coriander Seeds - 1/2 tbsp
Black Pepper - 5-6
Bay Leaf - 1
Cloves - 4


Take all ingredients and mix.
Put ghee, add ingredients and roast on low flame till crisp and golden. It should give off a strong spicy aroma. Cool.
Pound to a coarse powder, either in a mortar and pestle or dry grind in a mixie.
Use as required.
Note: Use a heavy pan or griddle (tawa) for best roasting.

Makes: 2 tbsp.

Milk Masala

Almonds - 100 gms
Pistachios Green - 100 gms
Cardamom Powder - 2 tsp
Saffron Strands - 1/2 tsp


Crisper the saffron on a warm griddle.
Crush with hand.
In a small dry grinder mix all ingredients and run till a coarse mixture is got.
Store in an air tight jar.
Makes: 1 cup.

Tea (Chai) Masala

1 cup dried ginger roots
1/2 cup elachi pods (green cardamom)
1 tbsp peppercorns
6-7 2" cinnamin sticks


Dry all the ingredients in the sun for an hour
Grind all the ingredients finely
Sieve it and grind again the residual
Store in a sterlised jar
Chaat Masala

Coriander Seeds - 1 tbsp
Dry Red Chillies - 1 tbsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tbsp
Amchur Powder (dry mango) - 1 tbsp
Black Pepper - 2 tbsp
Black Salt (rock form) - 1 tsp


Slight roast dhania and cumin seeds separately. Grind all ingredients together.Store as general.


Coriander Seeds - 200 gms
Dry Red Chillies - 100 gms (whole)
Black Pepper - 25 gms
Cumin Seeds - 25 gms
Channa Dal - 25 gms
Urad Dal - 25 gms
Rice - 25 gms
Fenugreek Seeds - 10 gms
Turmeric - 10 gms
Salt - 25 gms
Asafoetida - 5 gms
Curry Leaves - 3 stalks (wiped clean)
Cloves - 5
Ghee for Roast - 2 tsp


Take all ingredients and mix.
Put ghee, add ingredients and roast on low flame till crisp and golden. It should give off a strong spicy aroma. Cool.
Pound to a coarse powder, either in a mortar and pestle or dry grind in a mixie.
Use as required.
Note: Use a heavy pan or griddle (tawa) for best roasting.

Makes: 1 1/2 cups
Seasoning For Salads, Fruits, Buttermilk etc.

Black Pepper Powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Cumin Seed Powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp.


Mix all together and store. Sprinkle as required.

Tips Mukhwas
India carries an age old tradition of serving and eating mouthfresheners and digestives after a hearty meal.
Many rich customs and elaborate rituals are tied to the old old habit of eating paan (betel leaf, with an application of choona and katha, and supari, elaichi, etc. added). "
Paan" is ceremoniously served at festivities and marriages, covered in silver foil for the extra decorative effect.
Other mouth fresheners include flavoured supari, fennel seeds in many forms, paan masalas made from an array of dried ingredients, herbs and plants.
Dried pomegranate seeds, processed kernels of the coriander seeds, menthol, etc. are still other ingredients used in a combination or by themselves to make very effective mouthfresheners.
Some forms of fresheners served in the form of 'ghutkas' and 'paan masalas' are harmful as they contain tobacco and health harming flavourings.
In India there is no dearth of the homemade paans or mouthfresheners, since the ladies are adept in making a large variety of them and basic ingredients are easily available in the stores.
Different regions and cultures have their own particular and distinctive type of mouthfresheners.
For example, Gujaratis are fond of and endless variety of 'churans', eating paan is like breathing for the people of banaras who have pioneered the famous 'banarasi paan'.
South Indians prefer the 'mysore paan' whose leaf is softer, and they stuff grated dessicated coconut, supari, sugar, after applying the choona.
Delhiites prefer a variety of suparis, and all are fond of the dhania-saunf combination.
Sookha Amla (Dry Gooseberry)


1 kg. fresh big or small amla (gooseberry)
1/4 cup salt


Wipe gooseberries clean on a dry kitchen towel.
Cut thick slices off them, discarding the stone.
Once all are cut, toss in salt and mix.
Place in a porcelain, china or glass container.
Cover and keep aside for 3-4 hours.
Drain in a colander for 1 hour till all liquid has drained out.
Sun-dry on a thick clean cloth till the pieces are dry and crisp.
This may take 6 to 8 days in summer and more in winter.
Store in airtight container. Pop a few in mouth after meals.
Staying period: Will keep for 2 or more months if properly stored.

Note: Though the big round variety of amla is always used for this recipe, the small sour variety is also very tasty. Of course the bigger variety is much more popular because of its medicinal and cosmetic properties.
Anardhana Churan


2 tbps. Anardhana (pomegranate) seeds dry
2 tbsp. amchoor (dry mango) powder
1 tsp. cumin seeds
12-15 peppercorns
2 tbsp. green saunf (fennel) seeds
1 tsp. sugar ground coarsely
1/2 tsp. honey
2-3 pinches black salt
salt to taste
1 tsp. lemon juice


Lightly roast separately, anardhana, cumin,peppercorns and saunf.
Cool. Dry grind each but keep saunf coarse.
Mix all ingredients in a large plate.
Check taste and make tiny balls of the dough.
Dry for 2-3 days till firm.
Serve as a digestive after meals.
Making time: 20 minutes (excluding drying time)
Makes: 1 cup balls approx.
Shelflife: 2 months or more
Variation: Add a little dried ginger powder (soonth) if you like the pungency of ginger.

Laal Saunf


1 cup green unroasted saunf (fennel seeds)
1 tsp. jintan balls (silver and/or red)
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar ground
20 gms. katha (catechu)


Soak katha in a little water for 30 minutes.
Mix sugar and saunf seeds together.
Mix paste well and sieve onto the seeds.
Mix well, take in a large plate.
Sun-dry till the seeds have dried and coloured.
This should take approx. 10-12 hours of bright sun.
Once totally dry, mix in jintan balls.
Store in airtight jar.
Making time: 15 minutes (excluding soaking and dehydrating time)
Makes: 2 cups saunf
Shelflife: 3 months

Taazgi Masala


500 gms. green saunf (fennel seeds)
250 gms. dhana dal (roasted coriander seed kernels, commercially available)
125 gms. chaalia supari chips
75 jesthimadh powder
50 gms. hari pathi (muletti pathi) cleaned
5 gms. each cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon
3/4 tsp. black salt
3/4 tsp. sendha salt
1/4 tin kashmiri sugandh (small)
125 gms. ghee


Clean supari and hari pathi thoroughly.
Dry roast saunf till aroma exudes.
Dry roast whole spices till brown and aroma exudes.
Cool both. Grind spices fine in dry grinder.
Grind fennel coarsely, in dry grinder.
Heat ghee in a very large pan, add supari and fry till golden brown.
Do not overfry or the supari with turn bitter.
It should exude a light aroma.
Add hari pathi, dhana dal. Stir, take off fire.
Add crushed saunf, jesthimadh, ground spices, salts, kashmiri sugandh.
Mix very well either with hand or a large spatula.
Cool completely before storing in clean airtight jars.
To be served after meals in small quantities.
This is a favourite Indian digester or mouthfreshener.
Making time: 1 hour
Makes: One and a half 2-litre jars
Shelflife: 8-10 weeks

Khajur (Dried Dates) Churan


100 dates dried
1 large juicy lemon
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. cumin seed powder
5 tbsp. dried mango powder (amchoor)
6 tbsp. sugar ground
1 tsp. salt


Mix water and lemon juice.
Sprinkle over dates. Toss lightly.
Allow to marinate for 2-3 days.
Drain, chop into pieces.
Add all other ingredients, mix well.
Sun-dry in a large non-metallic plate.
Dry till all the moisture has evaporated.
This takes approx. 3 days of bright sun.
Store pieces in airtight jar, and eat as a digestive after meals.

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