Boondi ke Laddu

Boondi Laddu is an Indian sweet. Pretty commonly made and easily available in all sweet stores, well almost. They are different from Motichoor Laddu since the boondi isn’t tiny. Motichoor Laddu has a different preparation method as well. Getting back to Boondi ke Laddu. I have a special connection with them, which I feel every kid brought up in India has. Every Independence Day and Republic day, schools in India have it mandatory for children to come to school and attend the flag hoisting ceremony along with programs that teach us the importance of freedom and also pass the information of how our freedom fighters worked together and fought to gift us a free country.

Boondi ke Laddu was a staple sweet distributed to all the kids at the end of the ceremony. Not just that, every Ramadan when the 27th Shab-e-qadar was celebrated and around that time the reading of the Quran in the local mosque, Boondi ke Laddu were distributed by my father. There were so many occasions and this sweet seemed to be the perfect thing for distribution and I have never met anyone who didn’t like them.

I never saw anyone ever make them at home but since we are all now in the USA and the Indian sweet stores here do not make these Laddus, so I had to get down and make them at home. I searched a few blogs and also some food websites, but the pictures they had and the explanation they had were more of Motichoor Laddu. See the fact is that at times you don’t want anything fancy but you just want to relive your childhood or you want to just get a taste of your country.

I tried making the Boondi Laddu a long time ago but the boondis came out long and they could not be bonded. Then during one of my visits to India, my Rakhi brother took me to a store that makes specialized ladles used for making boondis. I then tried making the Laddus again after coming to USA. Though I don’t think anything you make here can ever bring back the same happiness as being in your motherland and enjoying it since you would still miss the people you would enjoy those foods with. But as they say, you cannot fight your destiny, but you can always enjoy things that are around you and do everything that’s under your control.

These Laddus will definitely remind you of your childhood days. Though they require a little extra effort and it gets a little messy too, but it’s all worth the effort.

Sooji Ka Halwa

Sooji when made sweet, is called Sooji ka Sheera. Several variants of this dish are available under other names in various parts of India. People also call it Sooji ka Halwa or Mohan Bhog. This dish history shows its connection with the Middle east where this cuisine, semolina is roasted and then further cooked with water, honey, camphor, saffron, and sesame oil. In 14th-century Spain, semolina was cooked with almond milk, oil and optionally saffron for coloring, therefore the actual origin of our “Indianised” Sooji ka halwa is actually unknown. But, it still is one of the fastest and yummiest sweet dishes ever.

So, a friend called me asking me for the recipe of Sooji Ka Halwa. I just casually said, “you could have just checked my blog” to which she replied that she couldn’t find it there and decided to call. That’s when I realized that I have not shared the recipe here. Sometimes, the simplest of things are things we forget to do. Honestly, this Halwa is so easy that it can be made by my 9 year old…Okay! little exaggeration, but definitely by a Bachelor who’s missing his mom’s food and can do basic cooking like making an egg. Its easier than making an omelet, since no knives and chopping is involved, Sooji ka Halwa is an easy impressive dish.

My mother never made Sooji ka halwa at home, but weddings in Rajasthan tend to have at least one gathering where this is served as a sweet dish. Don’t ask me why. While halwa is a broad term used for pudding like desserts in India, the most common halwa that my mom made was Gajar ka Halwa during winters, Ande ka halwa on some occasions halwa and Aate ka halwa on most weekends.

Sooji ka halwa was not that common and now when I think of it, I feel it might be something my mom never enjoyed cooking because if she did, she would have made it since it can be easily made it 15-20 minutes. So, Sooji Ka Halwa is made with sooji (semolina), ghee (clarified butter) , sugar and water. Everything else is optional. I only like using cashews, almonds and pistachios, whereas, Mr. Parveez likes Raisins as well in his Halwa. Some like adding milk in place of water, but I think that makes it a little heavy and creamy. Milk also tends to overpower the flavor of Sooji, so I prefer making it with water. I like flavoring mine with cardamom and saffron, making it more rich in fragrance, but you can always skip them both. Though, I would suggest that you use Cardamom powder, even if you omit the saffron.

I usually use half the amount of ghee as to Sooji. Some people prefer more ghee, but I feel this amount is good enough and it does really make a great halwa. For this recipe, I do use same amount of sugar and sooji. I use granulated sugar therefore this might sound too much sugar, though if you are using sugar with bigger granules, you should boil the sugar in the water till the sugar melts and add the water to the roasted sooji. If you are using granulated sugar like me, you can add the sugar straight to the roasted sooji and add warm water to it.

I use 3 times the water since I like my halwa more on the softer side. The most important step! If you don’t roast the sooji properly, the halwa will have raw taste. I don’t like to brown my sooji for the halwa. So I roast it on low heat, stirring continuously until it’s nice and fragrant. It takes around 7 to 8 minutes for it to roast on low heat. When you add hot water to the hot pan of roasted sooji, it bubbles up like crazy. So be very careful. Add it slowly and be careful. Make sure your halwa is smooth, so stir continuously as you add the water. If you don’t do that, it will form lumps and won’t have the creamy texture.

Malpua and Rabri

Rabri and Malpua go hand in hand for marwaris, specially for Jodhpuris. I remember my father and my maternal grandmother being huge fan of Malpuas. Though I have never liked them much, for their bonding relationship with sugar syrup and just like Jalebis, Imartis and Bengali sweets, malpuas also happened to be a sweet dish that I never tried. But, I was always a huge fan of Rabri. In fact, there is a very famous shop in Jodhpur, by the clock tower, an important stop for all tourists, that is popular for its lassi, kulfi and Rabri and every time I traveled to Jodhpur, that would be on my eating out list.

As for the history of Malpua, first reference of this sweet dish was made in the Rigveda, as ‘Apupa’. The recipe of Apupa was something that uses barley flour made in form of flat cakes, deep fried in ghee and then dipped in honey before serving.

Rabri seems to be connected with Bengal because of its flavor resemblance being close to Basundi. Its made by over boiling of milk on low heat, until it becomes dense and pale yellow in color.

I remember when I was 15, a family friend’s daughter, almost 10 years older than me, soon to be married. She loved to cook and would often come to see my mom and would also showcase her cooking skills. She would come to our house very often and she once made Khoye ke malpua and all I saw was 2 people busy making Malpuas and I never gathered the courage to go and peep to even see what was going on. All I saw was my Father and maternal Grandmother, both diabetic, hogging on to those Malpuas before anyone could stop them. They offered it to me and with the look of the dripping sugar syrup, it was a NO from my side. I then saw someone bring in Rabri from my favorite store and I was more than happy eating my plain Rabri. Now since, I have never been a big fan of Malpuas and Mr. Parveez never mentioned it either, it never occurred to me that I should try making them at home. In addition to that, I don’t know why but I always felt that making Malpuas must be too much work and I kind of never felt the need to even try it.

One day, we happened to be watching a Food channel where a food blogger went to Mumbai and showed this guy making big size Malpuas being thrown in the Kadai with boiling ghee and further dipped in the sugar syrup and being served straight away with cold Rabri and Mr. Parveez looked so impressed. So, I just asked him, “Do you like it?’ and he said, “yes”. With me that was more than enough to try making this out.

I checked with a family friend who got me a recipe from one of Jodhpur’s authentic Malpua maker. Sometimes people share secrets, they one have to be sure that no one is taking their business away, second, you need to contact through the right source and third and most important, you just have to be sweet when you ask, and mostly people fail to do the third thing. He never gave me the exact measurements though, but when you cook, ingredients are usually enough for you to crack a recipe because even if you use the exact same measurements, the dish would be completely different when made by 2 different people. I always tell everyone I teach, Don’t learn, get inspired. Learning while copying to do the same, makes you good, But Learning while getting inspired makes you outstanding. Never give up on being unique.

Now my first goal was to work on the Rabri, of course personal reasons. So, I started working on it, it was a slow process and the first time I made it, I was restless because I thought I was doing something wrong and its taking too long, but after that I was a pro and I can now cook 4 dishes the same time as I make Rabri. and, when I tasted it, I was so happy with myself, it tasted much nicer than the Rabri from my favorite sweet store in Jodhpur.

Now the Malpuas, they were much easier than I thought. Few ingredients, paying attention, and your Malpuas are ready to be served. They are very much like pancakes. My first attempt made them a little thick, the second time, I mixed in more milk trying to make them more thin. Try taking a good non stick pan to reduce the quantity of ghee you take.

Rabri can be refrigerated for up to a week. Malpua batter can also be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. It tends to thicken a little while being refrigerated, you can always add a little milk tablespoon by tablespoon to make the consistency thinner.

I have out up ways and pics of both the thick Malpua and the thin Malpua. You can see both ways and pick your favorite. Though I have given the recipe of Rabri after the Malpua, but its always recommended that you make the Rabri few hours, if not a day before and refrigerate it. The Malpua needs to be hot and the Rabri needs to be chilled when served.

Decorate with silver leaf, crushed nuts and roses or anyway you like or just plain…the taste is so good that it will be loved and appreciated any which way. Enjoy!!!

Chane ki Daal ka Meetha

This is the first sweet dish that I made from my Sasuraal side. Coming from Rajasthan, I was in love with Moong ki daal ka Halwa and when I heard about Chane ki daal ka Halwa, I was super excited and loved the taste when I tried it. Once we moved to USA, I started trying to make it on home.

The first try was something I did by myself, without asking my Mother in law for the recipe, but for some reason it wasn’t as good as what we had eaten and neither me, nor Mr. Parveez was able to figure out what went wrong or what was missing. And, that’s when my Mother in law came to the rescue. I spoke to her over the phone, giving her details about how I tried making the “meetha” and that I didn’t understand what went wrong. She patiently explained the over all recipe and the “magic ingredient” that I missed was Cinnamon and cloves.

Little did I think that Cinnamon and clove make so much difference to this Halwa. I could never imagine adding these 2 ingredients will actually add so much flavor and fragrance to this sweet.

This sweet dish is one of the easiest sweets I have ever made and it has always impressed everyone. The best part that I like about this sweet dish that, it’s mistake proof. Having said that, I mean that there is no mistake that you make while cooking this, that cannot be fixed and that too easily. So, if you are new at making Indian sweet dishes, this is your go to dish. It’s great for beginners and also great if you have to make something in a jiffy.