No-Bake Sinful Dark Chocolate and Brandy Butter Pecan Tart

Didi, Daibi, where have you guys vanished??? Our dear blog and I are really sad and missing you two..your comments, your posts and your photographs!! ūüė¶ ūüė¶ Please take out some time from your busy schedules and write to me…please…

Last week my in-laws left for Kolkata…they stayed with us for 2.5 months and we really had a ball with them!! Did you guys know, that my Mother-in-law is also an awesome cook?!? Kya mast mast things she made!! Gobhi samosa (that we baked), Shakkar Paarey or as the Bongs say, Goja; Tamatar ka Achar (Tomato Pickle); Bengali Style Mutton er Chop (Cutlets) and Fish Fry; Chocolate Pudding; ¬†and numerous Bengali style veggies and curries!! For these last 2.5 months, really loads of cooking happened in my kitchen…I seldom do the Bengali regular meal of rice, daal (lentils), 1-2 veggies and a fish or chicken curry with some chutney or papod/bhaja/fritters. This is because, I think (and have successfully convinced Niloy too) that we have eaten this food all our lives and we will continue eating it once we are back in India. So it is better to try the veggies, fish, fruits and meats that are available here….cook world recipes from ingredients available here and try making Indian stuff from them too! What say? ūüôā

Anyways, today am putting up a recipe of a biscuit tart. Its really easy and it is fabulous in every way..I made it for my in-laws and they loved it! I have tried out many variations of this, so feel free to tweak the recipe as per your likes…

Sinful Dark Chocolate and Brandy Butter Pecan Tart

Sinful Dark Chocolate and Brandy Butter Pecan Tart

Strawberry Custard Tart

Strawberry Custard Tart

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Quick Fruit Cream Trifle with Blueberry and Kiwi

Woooooow Didi!! This is called coming back with a BANG!!! That No-bake Cheesecake looks as divine as the freshly made plate of Tagliatelle. ¬†Am glad that you realised how easy pasta-making was…now-a-days I even make whole-wheat pasta and sometimes add boiled spinach or tomato puree for healthy & colorful versions! Last time I added few pinches of dried herbs and 1 tbsp of garlic juice to the dough…it tasted divine even in a simple white sauce ūüėÄ

My dearest Rizimon’s kitchen interests are evidently increasing….Ma saw the post and remarked, ‘Seldom you see such a small kid engrossed in a kitchen activity!’ ¬†We are all very proud of him….Didi, you must post the B’day cake that he made for you too!! Oh and the Bengali Lunch spread that you put….its just marvelous!! The post immediately transported me back to Shantiniketan into your lavish kitchen and I imagined am sitting right there waiting to be served on that dining table!!! We do get most of the Indian veggies/spices in fresh or frozen forms….so I must replicate this for Niloy as he really misses such Bong spreads due to my year-round experimental cooking ūüôā ūüėõ

As you asked, I am finally sharing the Fruit Cream Trifle recipe that we were talking about a few days back. This is again a real simple recipe that you can make well in advance for your guests!

Fruit Cream Trifle with Blueberry and Kiwi

Fruit Cream Trifle with Blueberry and Kiwi

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A Twist in The Tal (A new take on Traditional Bengali Palmyra Palm sweets)

Hey Cousins,

Monsoon has finally bid goodbye…for the moment at least. The rains have just shifted base…Instead of the skies it’s raining from every pore of our body! The season is well on the road to being that horribly sticky and sweaty post-monsoon kind of weather which we dread.¬†The other day my parents came over as there was no electricity at their house for two whole days, can you imagine their plight… They came bearing a fruity gift from their garden. The Tal (Sugar Palm or Palmyra Palm). This is one pungent smelling fruit,¬†sweet with¬†sometimes¬†a bitter¬†after-taste. I love to eat the unripe fruit when the seeds are ¬†jelly like and filled with a syrupy liquid, I also love to drink the freshly harvested, unfermented sugary sap called tal rosh. For many years I couldn’t stand the strong aroma of the ripe Tal, just as I¬†couldn’t¬†palate the ripe jack fruit. I think it has to do with the fact that as children growing up in Delhi we were not exposed to these fruits which are probably an¬†acquired¬†taste. Living in Bengal one can’t help being made familiar with such fruits, especially during the season when you come across it everywhere. Here in Santiniketan, these palm trees are a familiar landmark. You are most likely to be scared out of your wits with the sudden thud of a falling¬†fruit¬†right behind you, especially in the dark! Over the years I have grown quite fond of certain sweets made from this. Some like the Tal Kheer ( The pulp of the ripe fruit mixed with fresh grated coconut and thickened milk) and the Tal Boda ( Tal pulp and Rice fritters) is quite a favourite. Baba (father) wanted me to make something different with the Tal. I thought of making a quartet of Tal dessert, with a fusion of traditional and non conventional sweet platter.¬†He was so enthusiastic about the idea that he helped me to extract the golden pulp from the fruit, which truth be told is quite a messy job, and one that I would have delegated to you , my dear Rinki had you been here : )

Quartet of Tal dessert

Tal Coulis, Tal Cake, Tal Fritters and Tal Kheer

My platter consists of four dishes РTal Coulis, Tal Bora (Tal and Rice Crispy fritters), Tal Kheer  and a Tal cake.

To Extract the Tal Pulp  Peel the fruit and separate the three Nuts( there are usually three segments) cut off the fibres with a scissor. As I do not possess the traditional bamboo extractors, I used an inverted colander as a pulp extractor. Takes a bit of elbow grease and an unconventional method which works just fine for me. The important bit being getting the pulp out!  Just rub the fibre over the colander holes till the pulp goes through to the other side. Collect the pulp once all the fibre has been given this scrubbing. Pass it through a sieve. Collect the golden pulp which is ready to eat.

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For The Tal Coulis:  Extract the golden yellow pulp from the fibers of the fruit. Sieve well to remove fibers.

For The Tal Cake: (see Sinful Dark Chocolate Cake for basic cake recipe. Instead of Cocoa add 3-4 tbsp Tal Pulp)

For The Tal Kheer 

1/2 litre milk thickened till it coats the back of the spoon.

3-4 tbsp freshly grated coconut

3 tbsp Tal Pulp

2-3 tsp sugar

Mix everything and blitz in the blender. Cool in the fridge till needed.

Can use Condensed milk, but then don’t add sugar.

For The Tal Boda (  Tal and Rice crispy Fritters)

1/2 cup rice soaked for a few hours and ground to fine thick paste.

1/2 cup freshly ground coconut

3-4 tbsp Tal Pulp.

Sugar to taste

Oil for deep frying

Mix everything together to from a thick batter. Using piping bag pipe small rings directly into the hot oil. Fry till Golden brown. serve hot.

To assemble¬†I smeared ¬†the Tal Kheer on a serving dish, over that a piece of the Tal cake, a few rings of the Tal Bora, and a Quenelle of Tal Coulis over the cake. A few dots of the¬†Coulis¬†on the plate finished the look.I think the end result looks quite exciting…and the whole experience of the soft¬†flavourful¬†cake along with the rich creamy¬†Kheer, the crisp Fritters along with the burst of pungent Coulis provides a complete Tal experience.

I know this recipe may be a bit difficult to make in Australia, but I wanted you both to have an experience and taste of the season. One may not always be able to eat in person but we can always devour with our eyes : )

Take care,

love,

Didi

Iftaar Foods in Old Delhi, Jama Masjid

Hey hey hey lovely ladies…

I see you¬†both have been upto a LOT of cooking & eating & creating magic on the platters on the dining tables…and I wish while reading and going through the ‘edible’ pictures, that if only I had the Star Trek Transporters. Oh if only I could say “Beam me to Melbourne or Shantiniketan, Scotty”!! Do you remember them didi? Oh what excitement each week as we waited to watch the Star Trek TV series on our DD channel in India. Captain Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy,Uhura, Sulu, Scotty…wow what a time it was …

But I digress. So coming back to the question you asked me Didi, as to where have I been for past few weeks, in your previous post of the Chessboard & Chessman cake for our dear nephew’s birthday. Since I didn’t want to feel left out in the ‘Food explorations’ you both have been upto, so I best made use of these weeks of the Holy month of Ramzaan with multiple visits to the Foodie Paradise of ‘Old Delhi’ or ‘Delhi-6’ or as it was once known 350years back, the city of ‘Shahjahanabad’

The streets of Old Delhi are a treat for a foodie throughout the year, especially for authentic street foods, as you both have enjoyed with me earlier. But visiting that place with friends, guests & tourists who joined our DelhiByFoot gang’s Special Iftaar Walks during Ramzan was an altogether out of the world experience! During Ramzan, world-over as the sun sets, devout muslims break their day-long fast with the Iftaar¬†foods/feast and its called the ‘time for Iftaar or Iftaari’.

And Old Delhi, especially the streets near the Jama Masjid,¬†which incidentally is the largest mosque by size in India, awakens to a slew of delectable aromas and brightly decorated markets as Muslims break their fast with Iftaar. Our first Iftaar walk in early August was a great success and many friends ‘forced’ me to do it again and again…and you know how much ‘force’ they would have used over me, before¬†I agreed to make¬†2 more¬†forays into those streets,¬†to savour these special Iftaari foods!! Evil grin ūüėČ ūüėČ

Navigating through the¬†hustle-bustle¬†of the main markets around the mosque we made our entrance into the Jama Masjid after the mandatory security checks. And were greeted by¬†a sea of humanity!¬†Small groups of people crowded around sitting-mats, laying out foods & drinks, it was a festive atmosphere, more like a ‘community’ picnic of sorts where all people had their own hamper of goodies to¬†dig into. Every evening during Ramzaan, people living in the vicinity of Jama Masjid prepare traditional delicacies at their homes or buy foods from street vendors and head out to the Jama Masjid, to eat in its gigantic courtyard.

Families, friends, shopkeepers and anybody & everybody simply get together an assortment¬†of delicacies to eat, and¬†water &¬†juices and spread it out on sitting-mats inside the courtyard of the Jama Masjid.¬†At the appointed time of Iftaar the sound of a big cracker being burst symbolically opens the¬†‘floodgates to food-salvation’ for the day-long hungry, but devout Muslim. A short 2-3 minutes¬†of a ‘duaa’ or prayer¬†and the Iftaar feasting begins in earnest.¬† And thats the typical daily routine all through¬†the nearly 30 days of Ramzaan here at Delhi’s famed Jama Masjid, or Masjid-e-Jahanuma as it was known during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan who built this grandest of mosques in the world.

For all¬†the¬†participants who joined our two DelhiByFoot Iftaar Food walks, this kind of a ‘breaking of the fast’ Iftaar ceremony inside the Jama Masjid was a first-time experience of¬†their lifes. And this whole event got all our participants excited & gushing appreciative words like, “Waah waah”, “We alone would have never ever been able to do this”, “Awsome once-in-a-life opportunity”, “Oh this is sssoooooooooo soooooo cool”, “Shaabash”, “We can’t thank you enough for this experience”¬†and on & on & on!! Another of those moments when we at DelhiByFoot feel happy that¬†the unique experiences we have created are actually helping people¬†enjoy a new ‘slice of Delhi’ they have never experienced before!

So what did we eat inside the mosque for the Iftaar? We had taken with us Mutter(Pea) Samosas, Pakodas (Fritters), Fruit Sandwiches and Kheer.

Once the ceremonial breaking of the fast was over it was time for us to hit the narrow lanes radiating out from the Jama Masjid to feast upon the numerous varieties of foods that the street vendors dish out at a rapid pace.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†During Ramzaan the streets are all illuminated with multi-colored bright lights everywhere, people crowd around the shops wearing brightly colored clothes and the shop-owners have a hard time keeping up with the frenetic demands of hundreds of muslims pouring out of the Jama Masjid and their houses/shops for food. The fragrant aromas from variety of¬†food-carts & shops¬†selling Biryanis, Kormas, Kebabs, Khajlas, Phirni, Sherbets, Iced-lollies, Fried savouries simply overwhelm your olfactory senses, making you drool and feel hungry for whatever you see…

Next on agenda for us was this sinfully calorie-rich Chicken, barbequed over coals, served with a special secret masala which finally is drenched in butter and served sizzling hot! In one word as one of my friends said YUMMIEST!

This¬†was followed by these crunchy pieces of Fish, which had been¬†dipped in a gram-flour batter and then deep-fried in a huge cauldron of boiling oil and¬†served straight out of the vessel¬†with a Chutney made of raw mangoes, mint leafs & yellow chilli….

This ‘hot & fiery’¬†combination left us wanting something to cool us down and we headed for the shop selling this Pink-colored Sherbet made of Iced Milk + Watermelons + RoohAfza, yes you read it right the same old Roohafza Squash made of rose petals and what not which was once a favourite cold beverage¬†during our growing-up years!!

Suitably refreshed after glasses¬†of the¬†Sherbet, we ate the slightly sweet, soft & crunchy¬†Khajlas (palm-sized, round, fluffy & flaky¬†puffed pastries made of white flour) alongwith¬†kulhars (earthen clay cups) of hot-steaming¬†milk. This milk which is a favourite amongst muslims all over has been slowly cooked over a low fire with copious¬†amounts of dry fruits like dates, almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts and¬†raisins in it. And after a whole day of fasting these are the¬†perfect ‘complete’ nourishment that any Muslim eagerly looks forward to. Some of us who did not wish to drink¬†hot-milk,¬†preferred the thick, slightly sweet chilled Lassis.

The next stop was some Biryani at Mota Pehelwaan’s shop. Followed by Goat-Meat Qorma and Chicken in a Kashmiri-style white yoghurt curry at Al Rehmani in Galli Chudi Wallan. ¬†The yoghurt curry was almost similar to¬†a Meat Goshtaba curry, which is a popular¬†dish of the¬†Kashmiri Wazwaan cuisine, albeit the Goshtaba curry is far less dense than this one was.

Next we recommend the ‘Sutli Kebabs’. A special kind of seekh (Skewer) kebab made from tenderised beef that is so soft, that a fine string is needed to hold the meat on to the skewers before roasting it on an¬†open charcoal fire, thus¬†giving it the name of Sutli (string) Kebabs. You can clearly see¬†in the pic below the thin string wound around the skewers before it is roasted to perfection¬†over the charcoal fire. You know Didi, in Kolkata there is a place which sells the same kind¬†of Sutli Kebabs, near one of the famous mosques of Kolkata. Just that¬†I have tried many times to find that place but have never been able to do so, as it must be a small shop. Maybe my picture will inspire you to search out this the next time you are in Kolkata!

No Iftaari walk can be complete without polishing off some ‘Shahi Tukda’, literally meaning ‘A Royal Piece’ which is a dessert made of¬†over-baked dry bread fried in ghee,¬†dipped in a syrupy solution of saffron & cardamom infused milk, some¬†more ghee, sprinkled with a variety of nuts, pistachios¬†& raisins and all this kept & served¬†at a piping hot temperatures maintained using a slow fire throughout the evening & night! It is really really very sweet, overflowing with calories¬†and even the die-hard foodie skips a beat before eating this goodie! Me, well¬†I never give¬†a second thought to it,¬†before gulping down 100gms of this sinful wonder! Those of us who preferred a little less of the sugary stuff, ate these brightly orange colored¬†‘Paneer jalebis’…the taste was good, but the color was suspect as maybe harmful, unfortunately.

Our final pit-stop of these 5-6 hour long ‘Food-athons’ was the old Kulfiwallas (frozen milk desserts & frozen sorbet sellers). Almost 35 different varieties of await connoisseurs of the ‘Frozen desserts’ kind, ranging from Kulfis stuffed inside whole fruits, to frozen fruit pulp & flavoured milk and slushy fruit sorbets. Our gang’s favourite was the whole mango stuffed, grapes, jaamun, paan kulfi and¬†pomegranates.

So now sisters you know where I have been, what I have been eating and for a change I can say, what you guys have missed in these past 4 weeks of exciting Ramzaan food-explorations!

Lotsa love and I sign off now with this pic of the Jama Masjid as it was lit up during Ramzaan…

Single Malt, Fig, Nut and Caramel Homemade Ice Cream

Dear Ramit,

Last night as we were polishing off¬† our bowls of homemade ice cream, I realized that this particular recipe is not for the calorie conscious or the faint of heart. Sinful and rich, melting in the mouth in a caramel-y lushness. I could well imagine you polishing off the whole tub….especially as it h ad copious amounts of booze in it!

This¬† recipe is for you, the bravest of souls…of course I mean G-ASTRONOMICAL bravery….what else could I mean. You are to food what Genghis Khan was to hapless tribesmen!

Single Malt, Fig,Nut,and Caramel Homemade Ice Cream

Ingredients for the ice cream

(Serves single healthy sized scoops for 4 person !)

Full Cream – 500 ml

Sugar, powdered – 150gm

Vanilla essence –¬†¬†¬† 1tsp

Cashew nuts –¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 50gm

Pistachios  Р              50gm

Raisins –¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 50gm

Dry Figs ( soak in warm water, drain and blot excess water)-                   4-5 nos

Dry Apricots (soak in warm water, drain and blot excess water)-   50 gm

A large peg of Single Malt whiskey ( I used Glenfiddich)

For The Caramel

Sugar Р                          100gms

Water Р                          1 tbsp

Aluminum foil             A square piece

Food grade plastic bag

Method

First crush the nuts coarsely and reserve half for the caramel. Chop the figs and apricots into tiny pieces.

Powder the sugar for the ice cream.

Beat the cream with a egg beater till soft peaks form. Do not over-beat as it could separate into butter. It is best if the cream is taken right from the fridge before beating. alternatively you could stand it on a bowl of ice, but if doing that do take care that water doesn’t splash into the cream.

Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, raisins, figs, apricots and the whiskey to the mix and slowly mix. Keep the mix in  fridge while you prepare the caramel.

For the caramel, take 100 gm sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pan, add the water and slowly bring to boil, stirring continuously. Do not be distracted or un-attentive or you will burn your caramel. You will see the sugar changing color and turning golden brown. When the whole syrup has turned light brown, take off heat and add half the chopped nuts which you had reserved for the caramel. The mix will froth. Do not worry about this, quickly pour your caramel on to the foil sheet and stick it in the freezer. Please mind your fingers as it will be terribly hot! Within minutes, inside the freezer it will harden to a chunk of sugar brittle. Once cooled and hardened, take it out, peel it from the foil, put it in the bag and using a rolling pin crush into coarse pieces.

Add  half of the caramel to the ice cream mix and freeze. Reserve the rest for later.

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At this juncture if you own an ice cream maker you may use that.

But I do not possess one and frankly it makes no difference to me.  Pour the ice cream mix in a plastic lidded box and keep in the freezer. Take it out after two hours. The sides would have started to harden and the centre will be still soft. With a manual egg beater or fork beat the mix. The ice cream would have taken on a nutty brown color from the caramel.  Repeat this again after two hours. Add the rest of the caramel.

If you like your ice cream hard and with icy bits then you can simply stick the container in the freezer and after three to four hours it will be ready to eat. But if you like it soft and without the ice feel then wrap the ice cream container in two tea towels and then freeze. It will take longer to freeze but it will be silky smooth.

I hope you will try the recipe. Although it sounds complicated, trust me that the effort is worth the taste.

Lots of love

Didi