Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rava Ladoo - Quick and Easy

One of the most commonly found south indian sweets is Rava Laddoo. No festival is complete without Rava Ladooo as the sweet of honour. I guess being one of the easiest sweets to prepare, it takes hardly any time to make. To top it all, the number of ingredients are few and very easily found in any pantry.
I simply love rava laddoos. They taste awesome. One can grind the rava and the sugar to a fine powder which is how they make it here in Madras. But I like it a little more coarsely ground. I think it gets more chewy that way and there is a lot more bite to it. The finely powdered ones just suddenly explode in your mouth. I usually have the ones from Grand Sweets. Though they taste simply divine, the oral explosions can be a little unnerving. Therefore, the preference for a more grainy version of the laddoo.

This was made for Deepavali at home. But as usual was not able to post it then. So here goes..


1 cup Rava or fine suji ( cream of wheat)
4 tablespoons Ghee or butter
1 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom powder
20 Raisins
20 Cashew nuts
1/4 cup Milk


Heat the ghee till melted.

Fry the cashew nuts till golden brown , then add the raisins to the same ghee. When the raisins get plump, take it off the flame. remove the cashew nuts and the raisins.

In the same ghee, add the rava and fry till it gets aromatic and a little brown.

Add the sugar at this point and fry for a few minutes till the sugar strats to melt. Add the milk and take off the flame.

Before the whole mass gets too cool, shape into balls. Use cold milk to wet your hands every now and then to help shape the laddoos.

Cool and consume within the week.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Palak Paneer and Secret of Popeye's Strength

Popeye had it right when he said " I'm strong to the finish when i eats me spinach, i Popeye the sailor man! toot toot (pipe)". Whenever he is bludgeoned by Bluto, the evil villain, this can of spinach magically appears in his hand and once popped into his mouth can and all, it gives him strength of immense proportions. He can now single handedly eliminate all villains and get the babe of his dreams...

I think this story has long been used by mom worldwide to get their kids to eat spinach. I wonder what it is about kids, that if their mom says something it can never be right, but if some silly cartoon character says the same thing, then the matter is taken to be gospel truth. I mean, is it fair to all us moms out here that a cartoon character has to be used each single time to get kids to eat healthy? But one thing in the kids favor at least as far as spinach is concerned, I can safely say I understand. I hated spinach with a passion as you can see from this story here. But once I developed a taste for it, there was no stopping me.

There is a restaurant in Madras that serves up some of the most delicious Palak Paneer. Along with a hot "kadak" tandoori roti,.... oooh la la....

I have tried many different recipes for palak paneer but the perfect recipe has always eluded me till I saw Nita Mehta's book " Paneer all the way" which showed me the exact recipe. The taste was the exactly what I remembered from the restaurant.

This is the recipe as mentioned in her book.


150 grams paneer
1/2 kilo spinach ( Delhi Palak)
1 teaspoon jeera seeds
2 large onions
1 inch piece ginger
4-6 cloves garlic
2 tomatoes chopped finely
2 green chillies
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons ghee
2 pods cardamom
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder


Clean the spinach well and cook the leaves along with 1/2 cup water over a low flame. When done, grind coarsely in the mixie.

Grind the onions, ginger and garlic in the mixie separately.

Heat two tablespoons ghee, and add jeera. When they turn start sizzling, add the onion paste. Fry till the oil separates and the onions turn golden brown.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped green chillies.

Fry again till tomatoes turn mushy and oil separates.

Add the ground spinach paste. Add a few tablespoons of water in case it is too thick.

Cook for 5-7 minutes longer and then add salt.

Add cardamom and paneer. Mix well take off the fame.

At the time of service, heat 1 tablespoon ghee and add 1 teaspoon of red chilly powder and take of the flame. Pour over the heated palak paneer.

Serve hot along with rotis, chapatis , rice etc...