Shital's-Kitchen: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Gajar Ka Halwa/Carrot Pudding

When I saw a 10 lb bag of carrots, I was thinking of carrot noodle salad, that I had made few days ago. But, as I lifted the bag to add to my cart, Snehanshu's immediate reaction was "wow Gajar ka Halwa!" :) Why not? I wouldn't make 10 lb. carrot salad :) Yes, for a foodie Indian, winter and carrots mean delicious, warm Carrot Pudding or Gajar ka Halwa!

I like to wash and scrub the carrots well with my scrubber. I do not peel them.

I love my super easy-to-use and handy food processor. With the grater attachment, grating 9-10 carrots is a piece of cake. It doesn't even take a minute to make a 10 cup batch.

10 cups of grated carrots.

Heat 1/4 -1/2 cup ghee or clarified butter. You could add less ghee, or choose to avoid ghee (like my mom does). Add 10 cups of carrots and saute for 4-5 minutes.

Add 1 cup of whipping cream and 1 cup of half and half or regular milk. Simmer and cook till the liquid evaporates.

Add 1- 1 1/2 cup sugar. Depends on your taste, type of sugar used, sweetness of carrots.

Add 1 tsp. cardamom powder and a cup of chopped nuts of your choice.

As the sugar melt, the mixture gets liquified. Allow the moisture to evaporate, which may take 10-15 minutes.

Serve warm or refrigerate for a week or two. 
Heat it or microwave it for 20-30 seconds before serving.

This warm carrot pudding is a great comfort food in winter.
But, tastes even better with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in summer.

Indulge in this Warm Sweetness!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Veggie Balls in Manchurian Gravy

Like every Indian entrée is associated with curry, many Chinese dishes that suit the Indian palate are either named Manchurian or Schezwan :)

Manchuria and Sichuan/Szechuan/Schezwan are regions in China, and the cooking specially to suit Indian taste are vastly different from one another. The former is a dark soy sauce based gravy, whereas Schezwan is red, spicy chilli based gravy or paste.

Deep fried balls in dry or wet gravy is one of the popular dishes in Indo-Chinese cuisine, which I am sure would never be found in traditional Chinese cuisine or heard by people in China. This is what I think: maybe, it just evolved from Indian kofta curry which is a deliciously, flavorful gravy with deep fried balls. By adding vinegar and soy sauce and omitting "curry powder" or masalas, an Indian dish metamorphosizes to Chinese. Also, use of Ajinomoto for seasoning these dishes gives it a distinctive, savory flavor and separates it from Indian cuisine.

Since I was to make Schezwan Sauce as a part of the meal, I thought of making some chilli oil to flavor the Manchurian gravy. Although the gravy here is dark, soy based, chilli oil will give it a spice.

Here is how you make chilli oil:
De-vein and de-seed dry red chillies. Heat 2 cups of oil to get it slightly warm. Turn off the heat and add in the chillies. Set it aside for 3-4 hours. Use this flavorful, chilli infused  oil for cooking or as dipping sauce.

Making veggie Manchurian balls:
I love my chopper. 
Add minced veggies in a large bowl:
Carrots, beans, cabbage, green onions, ginger and garlic.
Add salt and let the veggies rest and sweat for 10-15 minutes. 

Add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour/maida and 1/4 cup cornstarch.
I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.
Mix well to add a soft dough. You may want to adjust the amount of flour depending on the amount of moisture in your veggies. Do not add in extra moisture/water.

Form into balls. I like small bite size ones. Deep fry one in hot oil on medium heat till it turns golden brown. Check one of the balls for taste, and texture. It should be well cooked from inside.
Bake in a 400F preheated oven for 30-40 minutes till they are well cooked and golden brown in color.

Deep fry all the balls and keep them aside.

For the Manchurian style gravy:
Heat 2 tbsp of regular oil or chilli oil. Saute 4 tbsp. of minced onion, 1 tbsp. minced ginger and 1 tbsp. minced garlic for 3-4 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of roughly chopped cabbage and bell pepper.

Add 2 tbsp of dark soy sauce, 3 cup water and 1 tbsp vinegar. Add some salt and pepper and bring the sauce to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. I like the flavor of veggies and seasoning infused in water to make a delicious and flavorful sauce. I also like to prepare this sauce broth few hours ahead of time to develop rich flavor.

Before serving, bring the broth to boil. In a separate bowl, mix 2 tbsp. cornstarch with some water to form a lump free pouring batter. Slowly add to simmering broth, till it thickens. I do not like super thick and gelatinous gravy. I like a thick, pouring consistency, so I try to mix the cornstarch solution slowly. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Add in fried veggie balls. Garnish with spring onions.

A Chinese sand/clay pot used to cook and serve. It retains heat for a longer time. Love it!

Serve with rice or noodles.
Deliciously flavorful Veggie Balls in Gravy.