Instant Kesar Peda – Saffron Infused Milk Fudge

** This post contains affiliate links.

So it’s almost Diwali. Even though we don’t celebrate it, we enjoy the food that comes with it. After trying out a few sweet and savory recipes for Diwali over the last five years, I’ve come to realize that a lot of recipes are fairly quick and easy to make, compared to most of the traditional Goan sweets. That makes me happy because I know I can whip up so many treats in a jiffy. However, there are a few recipes that are time consuming and tedious when made from scratch, like a good peda. A peda, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is a hand shaped piece of fudge made and enjoyed all over India. Now, I have made fudge before but had never tried making Pedas at home. That is, until I recently came across a recipe for an Instant version. Yup, you heard me, there is an instant version of the good old peda.

This Instant Kesar Peda requires a few basic ingredients and about half an hour of your time. That’s how easy and simple it is to make. A lot of the commercially sold pedas use food coloring and artificial flavoring, but I decided to keep mine simple. I have used actual Saffron strands in this recipe for flavor and a mild coloring too. If you want your pedas to have the ‘oh-so-popular’ color, use some yellow food color. You can choose to imprint a design on the top of the peda or use a mould to shape it and you have the option to garnish the shaped pedas with some finely slivered nuts as well. So if you still haven’t whipped up anything for Diwali, don’t let that get you down. You can still make a bunch of homemade sweets and savories for your Diwali platter in no time at all. Besides this peda recipe, I have a few fantastic recipes to help you out. You can find them at the end of the post here.
So here’s to another Indian delicacy, even though its a cheat version. I can tick this one of the my ever-growing list of recipes I want to try. 
Wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous Diwali!!!
Instant Kesar Pedas
Recipe from: Sandhya’s Kitchen
Yields: 25 pieces

1 cup condensed milk
1 cup + 2 tsp milk powder
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds, crushed/powdered
2 tsp ghee
A generous pinch of saffron strands
2 tsp warm milk
Extra ghee, to grease your palms while shaping the pedas
Add the saffron strands to the warm milk and set aside to infuse.
Grease a large plate with a tiny bit of ghee and set aside. 
In a wide, preferably heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee on a medium flame till it melts.
Add the condensed milk and the milk powder to the pan and stir well, making sure you dissolve any lumps that form. Any lumps left will not give you a smooth finish.
Continue cooking the mix, stirring frequently (with a wooden or a silicon spoon) for about 8-10 minutes. You will find the mix coming together at this stage.
Add the saffron infused milk and strands and the crushed cardamom to the pan and stir well. This will cause the mix to loosen in consistency a little and that’s exactly what we want.
 Continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring continuously and the mix will start pulling away from the sides of the pan.
At this stage carefully check to see if the mix is still sticky. I picked a tiny portion with the spoon and touched it lightly to see if it is sticky. My hands can tolerate a fair amount of heat, please exercise caution when doing this. You want to make very little contact with the mix and not dip your finger in it too deep because it is super hot at this stage. If it still feels too sticky, continue cooking for a couple minutes more. 
Once it is not sticky, take off the heat. 
Immediately turn the mix onto the greased plate and leave it to cool a little.
When it is cool enough to handle, grease your palms with a little ghee, pinch of a small portion of the mix and roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Place on a platter and leave to set. If you choose to garnish the pedas, do it at this stage just after you shape it and then set aside in a single layer to set.
Serve up and enjoy!!!
Pin now and try later –

Recipes for Diwali … both sweet and savory

In India, the festive season is just around the corner, starting of with Dusshera and moving on to Diwali and finally ending the year with Christmas. So as you can imagine, things start getting pretty hectic right about now. If you are prepping for Dusshera or Diwali, I have a little something to help you with the food aspect of your prep. I have collated a list of much loved recipes from my blog that would be perfect on a platter of treats to share with family and friends.

Some of these are treats that you will see around the Diwali season, others are so popular, they make an appearance at both Diwali and Christmas. This list comprises of both sweet and savory treats that are easy to make at home. So if you are looking to make something this Diwali to share with your loved ones or, like me, you are in a land far away and are missing out on all these treats, the recipes below will help you re-create some of that deliciousness in your very own home.
Sweets – 

Savory / Namkeen – 
I hope there’s a little something here for everybody. 
Enjoy!!!

Oreo Truffles

I have a little confession. A few years ago, I used to not like Oreo biscuits very much. There!!! I said it. But wait, I must also say this. A few months ago, I sorta flipped a switch. I happened to try one again, and I must say, I didn’t mind it at all. Don’t ask me what happened or how it did, but I can now say I actually like Oreo biscuits. So it was time that I reworked what was originally a recipe that used Oreos, which, when I first made, I actually substituted with another biscuit. But recently, I made them again using the real thing.

Sometime in August, we were celebrating a couple of birthdays at work and I decided I was going to bring a batch of these to the celebration. I was a little skeptical of how they would be received, but I shouldn’t have been. They disappeared. Not everyone had an opportunity to grab one, but some clever ones managed to get seconds, maybe thirds 😉 Those that had a chance to try them out, absolutely loved them. So turns out I didn’t have to worry about these at all. I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe more than once. So I’m actually doing another post for it.

This is one of the easier treats I’ve made and if you have to take something sweet to a potluck, may I recommend making these. They will be an instant hit. Be warned, they are really moreish. You wont be able to stop at one.

Oreo Truffles
(Makes 1 dozen)

200g Oreo cookies (each packet is 137g, I just used 2 packets)
60g cream cheese
200g chocolate (I used 100g milk chocolate and 100g dark chocolate but you could use all milk or all dark or any ratio you prefer)
1/4 cup Candy melts (I used Yellow melts)

Blitz the cookies in a food processor till it reaches a fine crumb state. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a ziplock bag and pound on them using a rolling pin.)

Stir in the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.

Roll them into balls. Refrigerate them for an hour so that the firm up.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Then as needed microwave in 30 second increments stirring inbetween till the chocolate melts. The stirring helps the chocolate melt.

Line a cookie sheet tray with parchment paper.

Dip the cookie balls in the melted chocolate. Using a fork, let the excess chocolate drip off and leave them to set on the parchment lined tray. You can serve them up as they are or decorate them with sprinkles or chocolate then do that at this stage and leave it to set.

If you want to use sprinkles to decorate them, sprinkle them on the truffles just after you dip them in chocolate.

If you want to drizzle some chocolate or candy melts over, microwave them in a microwave safe bowl according to the package instructions. Pour it into an icing bag or a small ziplock bag, snip off the tip of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the truffles. Leave to set.

Enjoy!!!

Garlic Karasev

After spending a little more than 30 years in Mumbai, when I was born and brought up, we moved to our new home – Australia. Nothing gives me greater joy than calling Australia home. But every once in a while, I go through phases where I miss Indian food. We cook a lot of Indian food at home. But what I was missing was the easily available street food that Mumbai is famous for – it’s Chat and idli/vada/dosas. Another thing I tend to miss is the Indian Mithai (sweets) and farsaan (savoury munchies). The Indian stores here stock them, but they’re usually not as fresh as they should be, or as tasty. You also end up spending a fair bit on them. I decided it was time that I learnt to make the things I love, myself. To my surprise, I found that a lot of these recipes are fairly easy. With a little research online, I am now well on my way to making a lot of these goodies myself. Today I’m making some Garlic Karasev.

I tried my hand at an easy version of the Gulab Jamun which you can check out here. I was so stoked with the results, I knew I couldn’t stop there. So the very next day, I decided to try out something savoury. I found this recipe through Pinterest and at the same time I tried out a recipe for Methi Mathri. The Methi Mathri flopped, but I think I know what possible caused that to fail. But this Garlic Karasev, was spot on. I love garlic and that garlicky flavour came through beautifully. I stuck to the ingredient list in the original recipe, but made a few modifications to the process. This made the process easier with no impact on the resulting flavour or texture. I was very pleased with the results. It is hard to stop snacking on this garlic karasev with your afternoon cup of tea. This recipe is an absolute keeper. It yields a fairly big batch within a short time too.

Garlic Karasev
Adapted from: The Chef and Her Kitchen

2 1/2 cups besan (chickpea flour)
1 cup rice flour
2 tsp melted ghee (clarified butter)
2 tsp red chilli powder
3 large cloves of garlic, finely grated
Salt to taste (about 1 tsp approx.)
Oil, for deep frying

Heat oil in a wok for deep frying. While the oil is heating, prepare the dough.

In a large mixing bowl, place the besan, rice flour, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well.

Add the grated garlic and mix to distribute evenly.

Add the melted ghee next. Again mix well.

Gradually add a little water and knead to a dough. The dough shouldn’t be too tight or too soft. It will be a little sticky, which is fine.

Divide the dough into 2-3 portions. I had 3 portions, one was in the chakli press.

For this recipe, you need to use the form with slightly larger holes. You may have one with 3 larger holes or multiple ones. I’ve indicated the one I used.

By now, the oil should have heated. Insert the form you are using first. Add the dough. Then simply turn the handle on the top while moving your arm slightly to form a little circular nest directly in the hot oil. Don’t overlap the dough too much or it wont fry well. Turn the heat to medium.

When it starts to turn a light golden brown, carefully turn over with a slotted spoon.

When it has cooked on both sides to a golden brown colour, take it off the heat using a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.

Continue the process with the rest of the dough.

Once it has cooled completely, you can break it up gently into smaller pieces and store in an airtight container.

You’ve got yourself a couple of weeks worth of munchies. And the best part is, you know exactly what is in it, no artificial flavouring or preservatives. That makes me very happy.

So go ahead, try this recipe and let me know what you think of it.

Chaklis – Savoury Indian rice crakers

For quite a few months now, I’ve been yearning for some good Chaklis (Savoury Indian rice crackers). I have made them at home in Bombay using my late Mother-in-law’s recipe and they are fantastic. I bought a couple of different packets from the Indian grocery stores here in Sydney, but it just never hits the spot. So why am I not making them here? I didn’t have this – 

I know for those of you who haven’t seen this before, it must look like something straight out of an alien space craft but just wait till you see what you can do with it. This is what it looks like on the inside – 
In some ways it is similar to a spritz cookie press. You slide in a plate from the assortment on the right into the barrel. For this recipe I used the one with the single star shaped perforation. Place your dough in the barrel and top it with the spiral press. All you do it rotate the lever on the top and that lowers the press and presses out the dough through the perforation. If that doesn’t make sense yet, don’t worry, it will shortly.
My dear blogging friend Manu of Manu’s Menu had posted some recipes featuring this press. So I asked her where she got her’s from and she very kindly directed me to the shops in Harris Park. So last weekend that’s where we went and finally bought one. I’ve hunted for this press for so long here and am so thrilled that I now have one. No more buying those unsatisfying packets of cruchy, but still hard like stone chaklis from the store for me. 
The very next morning, we set out making a batch of chaklis. The dough comes together quick and easy and makes a decent sized batch. Stored in an airtight container should give us something to much on for atleast a week with a cup of afternoon tea. And that thought makes me very happy indeed.
Chaklis

3 cup rice flour (fine)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ghee
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp. red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
Oil for deep frying
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and rub the ghee into the flour till everything is well mixed.
Gradually add little water to knead to a dough.
Heat the oil. Test with a tiny pea sized piece of dough. When added to the oil, it should rise to the surface quickly. If it browns really fast, the oil is too hot and needs to be cooled a little. If it settles to the bottom, the oil is not hot enough and needs to be heated a little more. 
The oil temperature is important, if its too hot, the chaklis will brown but stay raw on the inside and if the oil is not hot enough, it tends to absorb a lot of oil and wont have the right texture.
Take portions of dough and add to the chakli press.
Shape the chaklis on some baking paper.
That’s my wonderful husband cranking out the chaklis while I fry them, just incase you were wondering if that was my hand 😉
Carefully using a flat spatula, life the chaklis off the paper and place into the oil. Let it cook on medium flame till golden brown. Drain on some absorbent kitchen paper.
When it has cooled completely, store in an air tight container.
Enjoy!!!

Methi Namakpare … savory fried crackers flavoured with fenugreek

Two namakpare recipes in two days … strange right? Well, I just wanted to be on the safer side since the ones I made a couple of months ago didn’t turn out too well. These are easy to make and I figured if I’m making one portion, I can just as easily make another one in almost the same time with just a tiny bit more effort. I figured that way I’d get atleast one good batch.

The first recipe that I shared with you yesterday for a basic Namakpare was fantastic. That being said, this recipe for the methi version is even better. I loved the slight hint of an Aachari (Indian spicy pickle) flavor that the methi lends to these snacks. It is amazing how adding just a few more ingredients can fancy up a humble snack recipe.
These little crackers turn out nice and crunchy. My husband and I loved the flavours so much, it was hard to stop. I will have to double or triple the batch size when I make this next.
Methi Namakpare
For the dough – 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup water, approx.
Oil, for deep frying
For the spice coating
2 tbsp Kasuri methi (Dried fenugreek leaves) 
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Amchur powder (dried mango powder)
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.
Rub the oil into the flour.
Add water gradually, as needed, to knead into a tight dough. Adding too much water will result in a soft dough and we don’t want that.
The dough needs to be a stiff dough yet smooth. It will take a little kneading.
Cover and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, heat the oil for deep frying.
Take a couple of drops of oil on your hands and knead the dough a little.
Divide into 2-3 portions
Roll out into a flat disc about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Cut into diamond shapes. You can always re-roll the scraps.
Carefully place the diamond cuts in the hot oil. I usually place the cut pieces on the slotted spoon and carefully place it in the oil. 
Fry on medium low heat till the crackers are golden brown and then drain them out on a kitchen paper towel. 
Make sure the oil is not too hot, else the crackers will just brown and not cook through and wont be crispy.
In a small pan, heat the 1 tbsp oil for the spice coating.
Add the rest of the ingredients for the spice coating. 
Mix well. 
Take the fried crackers off the kitchen paper and place in a plate or a large bowl.
Drizzle all of the spice mix over it and gently mix through using your hands. Be as light handed as you can as you don’t want to crush the crackers.
When everything has cooled completely, you can store it in an airtight container.