Happy Diwali!: Chocolate Nut Burfi (Vegan, Sugar free)


dsc_0609With Diwali just being around the corner….it falls on Oct 30th this year,  it is going to coincide with Halloween and we know what that means, right? Yes, just sugar overload! The traditional Diwali sweets mostly all require dairy and tons of sugar.  Oh boy!

This past year has been one where I have spent tons of hours doing research on what constitutes a healthy diet.  And I am still continuing with my dietary experiments on myself and continue to remain confused about a lot of things – meaning what is good for you vs what is bad for you. One reason for my confusion is that some diets seem to work on some folks but do not seem to work as well on other folks. One thing, however, is crystal clear and that is this – that sugar is one thing that is absolutely not good for anyone. Period. Especially white sugar.  Hence I am going to do my part to treat myself and my family in a healthy way for Diwali this year by cutting down on the sugary sweets.

dsc_0607And thus the genesis of this decadent chocolatey burfi.  Burfis are in general made with lot of milk and sugar.  But I substituted nuts for the milk and added dates for sweetness. Now how could I make them irresistible? Easy! Just add cocoa 🙂 I had to do some trial batches before getting the perfect texture.  Yum o Yum. Have your burfi guilt free this Diwali. It is actually so good for you! Loaded with the goodness of nuts and dates. Pure, decadent and heavenly! Happy Diwali to you and your family! May this Diwali usher in good health, peace and prosperity in your homes.

Chocolate Nut Burfi (Vegan, Sugar free)

  • Servings: Makes 20 pieces
  • Time: about 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 16-18 dates (pitted)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 cup whole walnuts
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • extra whole walnuts for decorating

Method:

In a food processor, powder the almonds and the walnuts in batches such that there are no big pieces. The powder will be coarse.(Do not over powder since the nuts will turn into butter)

In a small cooking pot, boil the water and the dates together for about 2-3 minutes. Turn heat off.  Cool for 5 minutes and then puree the dates along with the water until you get a creamy texture.

Take a large mixing bowl and add the powdered nuts. To that add the date mixture and the cocoa powder and the cardamom powder.

Using your hands, mix everything thoroughly to form a well-blended dough.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and dump this mixture onto it.  Using a cup dabbed with coconut or olive oil on the surface, press the dough lightly to fit into the square pan. Place walnuts on top and place the pan in the refrigerator for a few hours(at least 2 hours) to set.

Take pan out of the refrigerator and make slits on the dough to form square pieces.

Note:

To make this buffi sweeter, you can either increase the amount of dates or add a bit of powdered jaggery into the date water mixture.

 

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Mango Coconut Halwa (Mango and Coconut fudge)

DSC_0802Happy Diwali to all! May the festival of lights light up your homes with love,good health and joy. And may it fire up your kitchen with enough warmth to provide comforting and indulgent foods through out the year for your family.!

Keep it simple. Minimal ingredients and fewer steps. That seems to be my new mantra in the kitchen. Of course, my recent RA diagnosis has a lot to do with it. I cannot do any less cooking and baking because cooking is what keeps me going. It has a therapeutic effect more than any medication can provide. So this Diwali too I have been making the traditional sweets …pains and aches can wait,Diwali is here! And thanks to my wonderful husband who is always ready to provide me a helping hand in the kitchen whenever I need it.  So we made Besan laddoos, murukkus and chivda.  When it comes to Diwali sweets, I have always found it hard to control myself and found myself gorging up on all of them. This year though it is going to be hard since I am on a gluten free and dairy free diet.  I therefore wanted to make a new sweet that I could eat! It would be gluten and dairy free and still be something enticing! I kept thinking what I should make and then finally came up with this mango and coconut halwa. Not surprising since coconut and mangoes are two of my favorite ingredients when it comes to sweets!  I did not want to use any dairy so used cashew powder to enable the binding.  Keeping in mind my latest mantra of simplicity, I decided to try making it in the microwave. So one bowl – 4 ingredients and 8 minutes later you end with this gorgeous piece of halwa that is so downright irresistible.!

Bringing these delicious ‘feel good’ Diwali treats to our neighborhood Diwali party as well as Fiesta Friday too this week!

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Mango Coconut Halwa (Mango and Coconut fudge)

  • Servings: Makes about 16-20 squares
  • Time: About 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mango pulp (canned)
  • 1 cup grated coconut (frozen grated coconut thawed)
  • 1/2 cup cashew nut powdered
  • 1/4 cup sugar (you can add more if you like it more sweet)
  • Oil for greasing pan
  • slivered almonds and pistachios for topping
  • Method:

Method:

Mix all  the ingredients in a large microwave safe bowl and heat covered (with a small vent) for 3 minutes. Then take out stir and heat uncovered again for another 3 minutes. Again take out and stir and heat for another 2-3 minutes until you get halwa consistency (the mass becomes shrink and leaves the edges of the bowl)

Grease a small pan and line with parchment paper. Grease the paper too and then dump the cooked mass onto the pan and pat using a small bowl to spread evenly. Sprinkle with the almonds and the pistachios and press downward. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before cutting into squares. The halwa will stay in fridge for 3-4 days and freeze any leftovers after that.

Notes:

You can make this recipe on the stove top also. You may use a skillet or a shallow pan and cook the mixture for about 10-12 minutes.



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Besan Almond ladoos (Chickpea and almond ladoos)

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Diwali fun and sweet making continues.! And mind you all this fun was amidst the busy working and school days.! The days and nights were all just rolling into one. Hah finally the weekend is here! Which will bring a grand culmination – partying and exchanging the Diwali goodies with our other foodie friends! 🙂 How come all festivals are all about only eating (aka bingng!) Anyways I am not complaining…at least not now. Later maybe when I jump off my weighing scales! 🙁

Besan ladoo is yet another Diwali sweet…without it the Diwali platter is incomplete. Although a huge fan of besan ladoo myself, I am also overtly critical (almost persnickety!) of how they are made.!  Just any besan ladoo will not do it for me. The besan has to be roasted in the ghee(butter) until it is dark brown (sorry no yellow or even golden brown for me, thank you ) The sweetness needs to be exactly right too – it its a tad too sweet, sorry I will pass that ladoo.  OK so you get the point…so now let’s get down to my recipe which I have perfected over the last 15 years! (Smelling a snobbish tone here even arrogance maybe? Never mind…ignore that…the recipe is indeed very good! 🙂  And as to getting the perfect round balls every time? hah …I have to admit without my dear hubby’s help they would never come out as perfectly round and smooth ladoos. The credit does go to me though for having trained him really well! 🙂 Hope he is not reading this! 🙂

This time I decided to add powdered almonds too in the mixture to make it a healthful and less sweet version of the traditional besan ladoo.

I am bringing these besan almond ladoos to our neighborhood Diwali potluck party and also bringing them to Angie’s virtual weekly party,the much famous ‘Fiesta Friday!‘ Happy Diwali everyone!

Besan Almond ladoos (Chickpea and almond ladoos)

  • Time: About 60 minutes excluding 1 hour to cool the mixture
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print
 This recipe makes about 24-26 ladoos

Ingredients:

3 cups Besan (chickpea flour)

1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) or 1 cup ghee

1/2 cup almonds, powdered

1 1/2 cups granulated or powdered sugar

2 tsp cardamom powder

Method:

Take a large wok or kadai and add the besan in it and roast lightly for about 5 minutes on low stirring continuously.

Melt the butter/ghee and add to the besan and keep stirring until all the butter is well mixed with the besan.

Continue stirring for the next 20 minutes or so on low to medium heat until the besan changes color to brown.

First the besan will start changing color and then continue stirring until the texture of it changes to a lumpy mass.  That’s when its cooked perfectly. Now add the powdered almonds, the sugar and cardamom and stir to mix. Turn the heat off and let cool for about 1 hour or so and then make ladoos out of the mixture by slowly taking some amount in your fist and by making a continuous motion of closing and opening the fist until you get a smooth round ladoo. Place ladoo on a tray or plate. Repeat until all ladoos are made.


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Happy Diwali: Cashew nut and Date Fudge (Kaju and Date Halwa)



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There is a reason Diwali is the most loved and most celebrated festival for all Hindus – it is a festival that spans 5 days! No wonder everyone loves it! In India kids get extended holidays during Diwali season and most offices are also closed for all the key Diwali days. Alas no such luck for us folks who are outside of India. But nevertheless we do have extended celebrations too here which spans across multiple weekends! Hey it just comes once a year so why not? 🙂 Anyways, tomorrow is the 3rd day or the main day of Diwali and Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, along with Lord Ganesha.  For folks who would like to read more about Diwali and the significance of all the 5 days of Diwali, check this link out.  Also, a fellow blogger, Annett Bell, just posted a wonderful article on Diwali complete with beautiful images on her ‘Tales along the way’ blog – You can check out her post here.

So I have been making the Diwali goodies one by one and last night I wanted to make something sweet. I had been wanting to make Cashew nut Halwa (Kaju Katli as it is called) but I also wanted to reduce the sugar content that I saw in most recipes. Last year I had made almond date halwa and so I thought why not cashew date halwa? So there you go – my experiment was successful. Extremely finger licking delicious halwa this one!  You really need to lick the fingers since the halwa turned out very soft and sticky 🙂 I will probably reduce the quantity of butter a tad bit next time I think but other than that I wouldn’t change a thing! I added saffron to flavor but you could use cardamom as well. Yummy halwa! One can definitely indulge a bit during Diwali don’t you think?

Happy Diwali folks! Enjoy! 🙂

Cashew nut and Date Fudge (Kaju and Date Halwa)

  • Time: About 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print
 This recipe makes about 24 1 inch square pieces

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashew nuts (unsalted raw)
  • 1 cup dates, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or ghee (or 1 stick or 110 gs approx) – (I used a little more than this but I thought that it was too rich)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (granulated or powdered)
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch of saffron (10-12 strands) (or any other flavor like cardamom or rose)

Method:

  1. Grease a flat large plate or a pan and keep aside.
  2. Powder(dry grind) the cashew pieces in a food processor until coarsely powdered (Do not over do as it will start forming a dough!)
  3. In a large skillet or a flat bottomed pot, heat the butter and the milk.
  4. To that add the powdered cashew and the chopped dates and the sugar.  Stir well together to get rid of any lumps.
  5. Keep stirring on heat setting between low and medium heat.
  6. Keep stirring still
  7. Again more stirring …for about 15 minutes until you see the mixture getting thick and forming into a sticky mass.  See picture below. Add the saffron strands and mix.Turn heat off.
  8. Pour this mixture onto the greased pan and let cool for about 2 hours (I stuck it in the refrigerator) so that it solidifies and you are able to make cuts on it.
  9. Cut into squares and diamonds and serve in small paper cups topped with cashew and saffron strands.

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Flattened Rice savory snack (Poha Chivda)


IMG_2163Diwali is just around the corner and so Diwali snacks and sweets need to be made!  Well I ‘like’ to make them at home although nowadays everything is available at the store.  But for me nothing can beat ‘home-made’!  As kids we always loved Diwali – while most other kids loved the fire crackers more than the sweets, for me the best and most exciting part of Diwali was the goodies – the sweet and the savory snacks, that my mom used to start making at least a week or 2 weeks in advance of the festival.  My sisters and I would help her in this and most of the days this would begin late evening after she finished up cleaning the kitchen after dinner.  All four of us would huddle in the kitchen and amidst gossiping and plenty of story telling these snacks would be made.  We would then gift these snack platters to our neighbors and friends and in return also get gift platters from them! Oh what fun to go through those platters in search of your personal favorites! 🙂

Anyways, this year crazy as it has been with work and other things, I just began making stuff only yesterday.  I made murukkus yesterday and this simple and easy ‘chivda’ with flattened rice.  This was one snack that my dad used to make and so this recipe is his – I am so glad he is visiting us! 🙂  It’s so easy to make once you assemble everything. This is a perfect anytime snack not just Diwali snack! Goes great with tea/coffee.!

Flattened Rice savory snack (Poha Chivda)

  • Time: About 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
 Makes about 10-12 1 cup servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 cup raw peanuts (split)
  • 1/2 cup roasted chana dal (dalia or futana)
  • 1/4 cup cashews split into halves (optional)
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • About 10 garlic cloves or 1/2 cup garlic thinly sliced
  • 4 small green chillies, cut into tiny pieces (optional – if you don’t want to bite into green chillies add a tiny bit of red chilli powder )
  • fresh curry leaves, 8-10, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup coconut pieces, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 6 cups thin poha (flattened rice-check out glossary) (Make sure you use thin poha and not thick poha)

Method:

Take a large wok or kadai and heat the oil in it.   Add the peanuts and fry them in the oil on medium heat until they are toasted (about 3-4 minutes).  Remove using a slotted spoon and keep aside.

To the same oil add the gram or dalia and fry lightly for abut 2 minutes.  Remove these too from the wok and set aside.

Next add the cashews and fry them too lightly for about 2 minutes and keep aside.

Next to the same oil add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, lower the heat and add the green chillies,garlic,curry leaves and the sliced coconut.  Fry on low for about 2-3 minutes until the garlic turns golden brown. Then add the turmeric powder and salt.  Turn the heat to low.

Now add the peanuts and the roasted chana dal.  Next add the poha 2 cups at a time and mix well using a spoon such that all the poha gets coated with the oil mixture and turns yellow and gets a little toasted – about 2-3 minutes.  Once all the poha is mixed, sprinkle sugar on top and also add the cashew nuts and raisins.  Turn the heat off.

Let it cool for a few minutes and store in an airtight container.

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