Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lemon Bars and Gardens Growing Wild

Recently, I went to visit my sister in law who has just moved to a new home. For me the highlight of the new place was not how nice the area was or how lovely the house was. I was completely fascinated by the fruit trees in her backyard. Now let me clarify. It was not that I have not seen fruit trees earlier or those that are dropping down with fruit. It was simply that these were there for our picking at any time.
Even here at home we have a guava tree that fruits very well. But usually we leave it for the squirrels or parrots to eat to their hearts content. But most times, it is all consumed and never left to fall down or rot.
But to come back to the fruit trees in sis in laws house, there was an apple, a lemon and an orange tree. Being the tail end of October, the apple season was just ending but still the tree had hundreds of apples and the lemon tree was also laden with lemons. For the first few days, I would go rushing into the garden each morning picking all the good fruit that had dropped in the night. Every morning I would pick about 20 to 30 apples and about 10 lemons. I would feel very bad to waste it thinking of all the hungry people out there. But by the end, I just could not cope. The trees were ripening fruit faster than I could pluck or we could consume. So I just gave up and would sadly look at the fruit going to waste each day. This is after giving away apples and lemons to anyone who visited or who we visited..
Luckily the oranges had not ripened yet, else that would have been another added problem altogether.

I made apple crumble ( recipe here) one day and these incredible lemon bars.

Deliciously tart and sweet at the same time, they were fabulous. The recipe is from


1 cup Butter softened ( 200 grams)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour

4 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar


Preheat oven to 175 deg C

Sift the 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar together.

Rub in the butter into the flour sugar mixture till it resembles bread crumbs.

Gather into a dough and press into a 9X13 inch pan.

Bake for 20 mins till just getting firm and golden.

In another bowl whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, sugar and flour.

Pour over the crust and bake again for 20 minutes

The bars will firm up after they cool.

Generously sprinkle the icing sugar over and cut into squares.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Basundi and my Sweet Tooth

I have this incredibly sweet sweet tooth. It just shouts out to be satisfied after every single meal. It controls me totally and just as soon as my lunch is over, it starts shrilly demanding "Give me sweet, give me sweet!!! NOW NOW NOW!!!". Whatever my good intentions and before I can even comprehend what is happening, something sweet is already down my throat. Swallowed, digested and then total regret sets in. But the damage is already done. Like someone famously said "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.." In my life there have been too many minutes on the lips to count. Ask my hips or my tummy. They know that fact only too well..

I have a particular affinity for Indian sweets. Lot of people feel that Indian sweets are way too sweet but in my opinion that single factor makes it so much more appealing to me. At one time, I could wake up at 6 am and have two jangris without batting an eyelid. Thank god those days are now behind me.

I have been wanting to make Basundi for the longest time. It is so yummy, served deliciously cold and sweet with a few nuts adding a crunch as you eat it.

It is simple to make but just takes forever and forever. It takes a good 2 to 3 hours for the milk to thicken down to the level required. Now here comes technology to my rescue. We have a new fangled thing called the Induction stove at home. We have it for back up just in case.. It took me all of 1 hour from start to finish to make the Basundi. That made it a lot of fun and I had to watch it only till the milk thickened somewhat. After that, it took care of itself.

Now for the ingredients and the method..


2 litres full fat milk
150 grams sugar
few strands of saffron
juice of 1 lime
almonds sliced for garnish


Put the milk in the thick bottomed vessel and bring to a rolling boil.

Add the saffron strands so that it adds its flavor and color as the milk boils.

Reduce the heat and let it boil down till it becomes 1/4 in quantity.

Add the juice of the lime so that the thickened milk curdles a bit.

Add the sugar and cook for a few minutes longer.

Garnish with sliced almonds and serve chilled.