Cashew Masala Milk || Cashew Masala Latte (Vegan, Paleo, Refined Sugar free)

 Masala Milk is a traditional Indian drink made using milk blended with nuts, spices and flavors. I am not sure which part of India this drink originated from.  In Maharashtra, during Kojagiri Poornima, it is a ritual to serve Masala doodh (Milk) after watching the full bright moon. Many people fast on this day and make this Masala Doodh and keep the milk in a container directly under the Moonlight as a prasad and get blessings from the Moon God. I always enjoyed having this drink as a child since we had lots of Maharashtrian neighbors growing up and we girls would always have a blast on Kojagiri Poornima. Drinking this milk was the best part for me 🙂

Now that I avoid dairy, I decided to come up with a vegan version of this milk, which was not difficult at all. I just used cashew nut and coconut milk to be the ‘milk’ source and additionally I also used dates to be the sweetener so no other sugar was necessary! So I have a really healthy version of this traditional drink and this is one delicious drink that makes you feel special! I indulged myself with this drink on one hot lazy afternoon last week as I stayed indoors enjoying the view from our sunroom. I felt like royalty -It was just perfect 🙂

As we celebrate Diwali over the next few days, this would be a great drink to serve to your guests!

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Cashew Masala Milk (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Beverage
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A healthy version of the traditional indian drink made with cashew nuts, dates and fragrant spices
Ingredients
  • 20 cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for 2 hours (or overnight for 6-8 hours)
  • 4 dates
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ⅛th teaspoon saffron (4-5 strands)
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder (by crushing green cardamom pods)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1-2 drops of rose extract/essence
  • 1 tbsp crushed pistachios (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drain water from the soaked cashews. Place in blender/food processor jar. Add the dates and half of the warm water. Blend until smooth. Add the rest of the water and the coconut milk and blend again.
  2. Add the saffron, cardamom and nutmeg and rose. Mix well using a spoon. Transfer to two serving bowls/glasses. Add the crushed pistachios on top.
  3. You can serve as is or chilled.
Notes
I don't add crushed pistachios since I am sensitive to pistachios but it gives it additional flavor

Kaju Barfi with honey || Refined sugar free Kaju Katli || Cashew Nut Fudge

Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate! I have two ‘Diwali special’ recipes for you and both of them have cashew nuts as the main ingredient. And both the recipes are extremely simple and easy! But most importantly the end products are absolutely delicious!

The first one I will share in this post is the recipe for sugar free Kaju Katli! Bet you can feel my excitement! Having gone refined sugar free since last two years, Kaju Katli had gone out of my life too sadly 🙁 But I had been meaning to experiment making Kaju Katli using honey and finally for this Diwali I was able to try it. And pleased to inform you that it was a super duper success! Yipee!

My son loves Kaju Katli. in fact that is the ONLY Indian sweet that he will eat! So when he came home from school I told him there was Kaju Katli in the fridge. He quickly went to grab it and had a bite. ‘Hmm… very good mom!’ he said. I said to him – “And guess what?” .  He immediately responded knowing how much I detest refined white sugar, “You must have not added sugar…so, what did you add?” .

I smiled and replied ‘Honey, I just added some honey!” 🙂 Also added rose flavor instead of cardamom. That coupled with the natural floral tint of the honey made this Kaju Katli absolutely fragrant and delectable. It was the perfect offering for a Diwali Pooja.

And guess what else was perfect? Fresh flowers! Yes this year the weather has been so warm until this week that my garden has still been blooming.This is so unusual for us to have flowers in our garden for Diwali!  Don’t you love it when that happens? I consider it as a gift from the heavens!

Have a Happy Diwali and stay blessed! And look out for my next post which also has cashews in it!

Kaju Barfi with honey || Refined sugar free Kaju Katli ||
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Healthy Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
 
A healthy and delectable version of the traditional Cashew nut barfi or Kaju Katli made with cashew nuts and honey and infused with a rose flavor.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups cashew nuts whole
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1-2 drops of rose extract
Instructions
  1. In a skillet or a frying pan, dry roast the cashew nuts on a low flame for about 5 mins stirring continuously to avoid burning. The cashew nuts should only slightly change color (with some light brown spots). Turn heat off.
  2. Transfer the roasted cashew nuts to a food processor and pulse for about 10-20 secs until you get a coarse powder. Take care not too grind too much or you might get lumpy cashew butter. Keep aside.
  3. In a medium size cooking pot, add the honey and the water. Heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Immediately add the ground cashew powder and mix using a spoon or spatula until all the powder is mixed well with the honey and you get a wet pasty mixture. Turn heat off.
  4. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the kitchen counter(or a large tray). Dump the hot cashew mixture onto the parchment paper.
  5. Take another parchment paper sheet and place it over the mixture to cover it. Now use a rolling pin to flatten the mixture from all sides.
  6. Now place this flattened spread out mixture along with the parchment paper onto a tray and keep in the freezer for about 30 mins (or refrigerator for 1 hour).
  7. After the mixture has turned firm, remove from the freezer (or refrigerator) and cut into diamonds or squares.
  8. Keep the Kaju Katli pieces in the refrigerator until serving.
Notes
Roast the cashew nuts on low heat so that they don't turn brown in color. Store the kaju Barfis in the refrigerator since they become sticky at room temperature.
You can try using maple syrup for honey too although I haven't tried it yet.

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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