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!
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!
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.
1½ cups cashew nuts whole
½ cup honey
1 tbsp water
1-2 drops of rose extract
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.
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.
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.
Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the kitchen counter(or a large tray). Dump the hot cashew mixture onto the parchment paper.
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.
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).
After the mixture has turned firm, remove from the freezer (or refrigerator) and cut into diamonds or squares.
Keep the Kaju Katli pieces in the refrigerator until serving.
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.
Over the past 18 years since I got married, I have cooked and baked like crazy. Curries, Stews, Chutneys, Breads, Cakes, Desserts. Indian, American, South Asian, Mexican, Italian – you name it, I have tried it! You just have to browse through the recipe categories on my home page to see what I mean! However, one category that I have not really ventured into a lot is that of ‘pickles’. And by pickles, I mean ‘Indian’ pickles which are an altogether different class of foods as compared to what pickles mean to the western world. A pickle in India is usually something that is a relish – something that is either extremely sour or extremely spicy or in most cases both 🙂 The very mention of the word ‘pickle’ gets my salivary glands into hyperactivity! And I can confidently say that it does the same for most Indians 🙂
These pickles are meant to be consumed in very tiny quantities in a meal and is thought to tickle your palate thereby improving your appetite and aiding digestion. In fact, the way to enjoy these pickles is by dipping your finger in it and then licking it between eating portions of rice or rotis! The best pickles – the ones that I grew up eating were all home made! By my grandmas and my various aunts. Yes, my mom for some reason too did not make pickles. But after I got married, I started getting pickles from my MIL regularly. That could very well be the reason why I never tried to make pickles. And the fact that it just seemed like a lot of hard work. Which is true in most cases since the pickled object for example the lemons or the green mangoes etc have to be washed, wiped and sun dried completely for one. Second of all, once the pickle was made, it needed to be sealed appropriately and stashed away for a few months before it was ‘ready’ to be consumed! Now who has the patience for that?
For the past two years being on a Paleo and AIP diet I have cut down considerably on the quantity of pepper from my diet. I now only use kashmiri chill powder which is very mild – it gives the hot red color which I crave for without the added heat that I can do without.! So I had very much given up the hope that I could be eating pickles anytime soon.
However, last month while I was visiting India, my elder sister made the Kerala traditional Vadaukkapuli achar for Onam. God bless her! Vadukkapuli is the name of a variety of lemon that is much bigger than regular lemons and they have a thicker rind. The pickle made using these lemons are a side dish for the Onam sadya. makes sense right considering what I mentioned before about palate and digestion 🙂
Gosh, I very hesitantly tasted it telling myself that I was just going to have one tiny bit – a little indulgence since it was onam! What I didn’t realize was that this innocent tasting would open up the floodgates of pent up ‘pickle cravings’! Having tasted it now, there was no stopping me. Luckily my sister had not made it too hot or spicy. I loved it so much that I begged her to tell me the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that she had made it that very morning. Meaning this was an instant version of pickle. She had peeled the skin off making the lemon pieces soften instantly. What a neat trick! I couldn’t wait to get back home and try a version that suited my needs – less hot and spicy and completely paleo friendly. I used lesser quantity of all the spices and also used apple cider vinegar instead of synthetic vinegar and used regular organic lemons since I couldn’t find the large Meyer lemons.
Presenting to you a milder version of the traditional Kerala Naranga Achar!. I have been currently enjoying this lemon relish with boiled yucca (kappa). Yum O!
Happy Onam to Malayalis all over the world who celebrate this auspicious harvest festival. This year I thought I will share the legend behind Onam as told to me by my dad when we were kids. Maybe you can share this with your kids 🙂
There are lots of legends that describe the origin of this festival. According to popular legend, Mahabali, who was a powerful king in Kerala, made the Gods fear that he was going to take over them as well. Hence all the Gods approached Lord Vishnu to end Mahabali’s reign. So Lord Vishnu took the form of a poor, skinny boy and approached Mahabali for alms. King Mahabali, generous that he was, agreed to give the boy whatever he wanted. The boy said that all he wanted was the property rights for a piece of land that measured three paces. Mahabali agreed instantly but realized his folly when the boy grew larger and larger and covered his entire kingdom in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali offered his head since he couldn’t go back on his word. At this point, Vishnu made an appearance and gave a boon to Mahabali that he could come and visit the people of his kingdom once every year and that was the birth of the ‘Onam’ festival. Mahabali’s people remembered Mahabali’s generous and virtuous nature in keeping his promise and began to welcome him every year by making an elaborate vegetarian feast.
Hope you liked the story 🙂 The main highlight of Onam however remains the Onam sadya, which is a vegetarian feast comprising of various vegeratian/vegan dishes served with steaming rice and served over a banana leaf!
I have posted numerous Onam sadya recipes over the past few years. Today I wanted to post one recipe that I hadn’t posted yet – it is a very simple curry made with green (raw) mangoes. Green mangoes being sour, this curry is more of a relish than a curry. Green mangoes are cooked in mild spices and coconut milk and tempered with mustard seeds and coconut oil. Yummy yum! My mouth is watering!
This year Onam is really special for me since I get to spend it with my family in India.! Happy Onam to all of you! Please tell me your favorite Onam dishes and I will tell you mine 🙂 Check out my this post where I have listed all Sadya dishes that I have posted before. Also you can check the ‘sadya dishes’ under category. Happy Feasting!
A tangy and mildly spicy green mango relish made by cooking Green Mangoes in coconut milk
1 cup green mangoes, skin peeled and chopped into small cubes
½ cup water
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
2 green chillies, chopped
¾ tsp sea salt
¾ cup coconut milk (freshly extracted as explained below or canned organic)
For fresh coconut milk:
½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
About ¾ cup warm water
2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 dry red chili, cut into two(optional)
1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
For the spice powder:
Powder the mustard seeds and methi seeds in a dry spice grinder. Keep aside.
For extracting fresh coconut milk:
Blend the grated coconut with half of the warm water and strain through a fine meshed strainer to collect the coconut milk. Blend the strained coconut again with the rest of the water and strain again. You should get about ¾ cup coconut milk.
For the curry:
In a medium cooking pot, add the mangoes, water, the powdered seeds, green chillies and salt.
Cover and cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the mangoes turn soft.
Now add the coconut milk. Let it come to a boil and turn heat off.
In a small tempering pan, heat the coconut oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, turn heat to low and add the dry red chillies if adding and the fresh curry leaves. Turn heat off and pour this flavored oil mixture over the curry and stir.
Water Chestnut flour is something that I recently got acquainted with. Thanks to my friend Monika. A few weeks ago when we were at their home for dinner, she told me about this flour which is called as ‘singhare ka atta’ in India and how this flour is used during religious fasting periods called as Vrat. She said that this flour came from water chestnuts and hence it is grain free. Wow, I was so happy to hear this and the next time I was at our local indian grocery store, I picked up a bag of this flour. I couldn’t wait to try this for making parathas as Monika had suggested!
I did make the parathas with aloo(potatoes) in them since that was the only way to make the dough. The parathas were good and now I started browsing more recipes using singhare ka atta. There are all sorts of things that showed up – dosas, samosas, etc and I started to drool looking at all these foods that are forbidden for me on my current grain free diet. I was feeling so excited already and then I saw the recipe for ‘singhare ka halwa’! Omg! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Halwa has always been my favorite Indian dessert and for the past two years I have not had halwa being dairy free , gluten free and sugar free! So looking at this recipe, I imagined the possibility of a halwa in the near future for me. That was incredible! If it came out good, Monika, my friend deserved a treat from me!
And today happened to be the perfect day to try this recipe since it was Janmashtami which is Lord Krishna’s birthday. I started seeing all kinds of Indian traditional sweets recipes posted on instagram and in the afternoon, it was time for me to try making the singhara atta ka halwa.!
Turned out great – satisfied my halwa cravings totally. Even though I used coconut oil instead of ghee and maple syrup instead of sugar. The chestnut flour itself has a nutty taste and aroma so the halwa tastes rich even without any ghee or milk in it.
In a kadai (wok style pan) or a broad bottom pan, add the water chest nut flour and roast it on medium heat stirring continuously. Keep roasting for around 3-4 mins on medium heat until it turns to light brown color.
Now add the salt and the coconut oil or the palm shortening and again stir to blend it in with the flour.
Once it forms into a sticky mass (about 2-3 mins later) add the hot water, salt, maple syrup and cardamom powder(if adding). Stir continuously till you get a smooth halwa consistency.
Turn heat off and top with cashew nut pieces (if adding) and shredded coconut.
You can use either coconut oil or palm shortening but palm shortening gives it a richer taste!
Always heat the water before adding to the roasted flour to enable easier mixing otherwise you might get lumps.