Sugar-Free Energy Bites| Dates & Nuts Barfi

Today, I bring to you all the recipe for Sugar-Free Energy Bites, an easy but delicious sweet treat that will be much loved by kids and adults alike.

Have you been wanting to make your own energy bars at home? Have you been looking for a healthy snack for those in-between-meal times? Would you want to make a guilt-free dessert for your kids? Would you like to try out a simple post-workout snack that will boost your energy? If you can relate to these questions, these Sugar-Free Energy Bites are just the solution for you.

All of us at home are big fans of Dry Fruits & Nuts Barfi from Anand Sweets, which are loaded with nuts and absolutely delicious. We love this barfi so much and would indulge in it so often that I started recreating them at home. Taste-wise, they come pretty close, I would say. Do check out the recipe, try them out, and share your feedback!

Sugar-Free Energy Bites or Dates & Nuts Barfi

Why these energy bites are great..

~ They have no processed ingredients or refined sugar. I have used a bit of rose essence in them, which you can avoid if you want.

~ They are full of the goodness of dates, dried fruits and nuts. They are guilt-free and act as energy boosters, like I was saying earlier.

~ They are delicious! Both adults and children will like these.

~ They require just a few ingredients and are ridiculously easy to prepare. There’s minimal cooking involved.

~ They travel well and can easily be carried in purses or lunch boxes.

~ They stay well for a long time. So, you can make them at your convenience and use them as needed.

~ They are vegetarian and can easily be made vegan (plant-based). They are completely gluten-free too.

~ They can be customised to suit your family’s tastes and preferences. You can add in any dried fruits and nuts you prefer.

~ They are perfect for festival treats when you don’t want to make something very elaborate. They make for great edible gifts too!

#DateWithDates At Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Dates are not just a natural sweetener, but they are also packed with nutrients. (Check out this article by Healthline to understand the nutritive value of dates.) It wouldn’t be wrong to call them a superfood. Considering this, the team over at Foodie Monday Blog Hop is talking ‘dates’ this week!

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #DateWithDates, and all of us are showcasing interesting recipes made using dates.

Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen was the one who suggested the theme for the week. I love the simple, tried-and-tested recipes that Aruna shares on her blog. She has written about several traditional foods from Andhra Pradesh, as well as many dishes from around the world. I have already bookmarked her lovely Amla Rasam to try out – hopefully, soon!

How to make Sugar-Free Energy Bites

Here’s how I make them.

Ingredients (makes about 20 pieces):

  1. 1-1/2 cups dates, when de-seeded
  2. 1/2 cup apricots
  3. 1/4 cup brown raisins
  4. 1/2 cup almonds
  5. 1/2 cup cashewnuts
  6. 1/2 tablespoon ghee
  7. 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  8. 4-5 drops of rose essence (optional)

Method:

1. Measure out the cashewnuts and almonds. Transfer them to a mixer jar.

2. Coarsely pulse the cashewnuts and almonds. Do not make a fine powder. Keep aside.

3. Measure out the dates and apricots. Remove the seeds from the dates. Transfer the de-seeded dates and the apricots to a mixer jar.

4. Pulse the dates and apricots till you get a soft mixture as shown in the picture below.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

5. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan.

6. Add in the coarsely processed cashewnuts and almonds to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium.

7. Add the poppy seeds to the pan.

8. Toast the nuts for 1-2 minutes or till they turn slightly aromatic. Take care not to burn them.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

9. Now, add the processed dates and apricots to the pan. Mix well, breaking down lumps with your spatula. Cook on low-medium flame for a minute or so, till all the ingredients are well incorporated together. Switch off gas.

10. Add in the rose essence (if using). Mix well.

11. Let the mixture cool down enough to handle.

12. When the mixture has cooled down, shape 2 big logs out of it.

13. Place these logs in a clean, dry, air-tight box. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, then remove and cut into pieces using a sharp knife. Your Sugar-Free Energy Bites are ready. They can be eaten immediately or later.

Top left and right: Steps 9 and 10, Centre right: Step 11, Bottom left: Step 12, Bottom right: Step 13

Tips & Tricks

1. You can use any dried fruits and nuts of your preference, in these energy bites. Cranberries, figs, walnuts, unsalted pistachios, dried oranges and blueberries are examples of some ingredients that would work really well in the making of these bites.

2. I have used some ghee here, due to which these energy bites are not vegan or plant-based. Use coconut oil instead to make them vegan.

3. Use good-quality dried fruits and nuts that are fresh and free of pests and odours.

4. Skip the rose essence if you are not comfortable with using it, though it does add a lovely touch to these bites. You may use cardamom powder instead, too.

5. Adjust the quantity of dates, apricots and nuts as per personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.

6. Make sure the nuts do not burn while toasting them in the pan. They just get lightly toasted and fragrant.

7. Make sure all the seeds are removed from the dates before proceeding to use them in the recipe.

8. The poppy seeds I have used here can be substituted with white or brown sesame seeds. I prefer using poppy seeds, though.

9. Don’t miss out on chilling the logs in the refrigerator, once they are ready. This helps in setting them, and you get a neater cut. You may wrap the rolls in aluminium foil or cling wrap before refrigeration. I just use a clean, dry, air-tight box to do so.

10. Once you cut the rolls, you can roll the sides in some poppy seeds to decorate them. I don’t usually do so.

11. Stored in a clean, dry, air-tight box, these Sugar-Free Energy Bites stay well for up to a month. At room temperature, they stay well for 10-15 days. They are best used within 10-15 days, I would suggest.

12. I have coarsely processed the nuts using a mixer. You can even chop them up roughly, if you so prefer.

13. I have used soft dates from the Lion brand and Turkish apricots here. The apricots give a mild sour flavour to these bites, as do the brown raisins. If you would like them to be all sweet, skip the apricots and raisins, or reduce the quantity. Use more dates instead.

14. Instead of making logs and then cutting them into rounds as I have done here, you can also shape small rolls out of the mixture once it has cooled down enough to handle.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Cabbage Masala| Cabbage Sabzi For Rotis

Cabbage Masala is a delicious side dish for rotis, a semi-dry sabzi that is full of flavour and yet very easy to prepare. Today, let me take you through the process of making this beauty.

In my neck of the woods, cabbage is commonly used to make poriyal or kootu, both of which are more suited to rice than rotis. This Cabbage Masala is a different way to use the vegetable for us, one that my family and I have fallen in love with over the years.

Cabbage Masala or Cabbage Sabzi for rotis

What goes into this Cabbage Masala?

This is a very simple preparation, requiring just a few ingredients that are commonly present in an Indian kitchen.

There’s only about 1/2 tablespoon oil used in the making of this sabzi, with a basic mustard-cumin seeds-asafoetida tempering. Chana masala and a bit of jaggery are used to add flavour to the sabzi.

Onion goes into this sabzi too. There’s tomato in it too, added in at the very end, when the sabzi is almost cooked through. Adding the tomato at the end is a hack I learnt from my sister-in-law – it doesn’t turn too mushy that way and makes the sabzi so much more flavourful than adding it at the beginning.

Since there’s very little oil used here, the sabzi is cooked on a medium flame, covered, with intermittent sprinklings of water.

How to make Cabbage Masala

The stepwise procedure follows.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 of a medium head of cabbage, 3 cups when finely chopped
  2. 1 medium-sized onion

3. 1 medium-sized tomato

4. 1/2 tablespoon oil

5. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

6. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
8. Salt to taste
9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
10. Red chilli powder to taste
11. 1/2 tablespoon chana masala or to taste

12. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre left and right: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom left and right: Steps 5 and 6

1. Chop the cabbage finely. Keep aside.

2. Chop the onion finely. Keep it ready.

3. Chop the tomato finely too and keep it ready.

4. Now, we will start preparing the Cabbage Masala. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to sputter. Next, add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida, and let them stay for a few seconds.

5. Add the finely chopped onion to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium.

6. Saute on medium flame for about a minute or till the onion starts turning brown.

Top left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 9, 10 and 11

7. Add the chopped cabbage to the pan at this stage, still keeping the flame at medium. Also, add in a bit of salt and the turmeric powder, along with about 1/4 cup water.

8. Mix well. Cook covered on medium flame for about 3 minutes or till the cabbage is starting to get tender, about 60% cooked. Uncover in between to stir.

9. Add in salt to taste and red chilli powder. If you feel the cabbage is getting too dry, you may add in some more water. Mix well. Continue to cook covered on medium flame for 2-3 more minutes or till the cabbage is almost 80% done. Uncover and stir intermittently.

10. When about 80% done, add in jaggery powder, chana masala and finely chopped tomato. Sprinkle a bit of water if needed. Continue to cook covered for about 2 minutes more, on medium flame. The cabbage will get fully cooked and the tomato will get well incorporated into it.

11. If there’s any residual water remaining at this stage, cook uncovered on medium flame for a minute or so to dry it off. Switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Cabbage Masala is ready. Serve warm or at room temperature with rotis.

Is the Cabbage Masala vegan and gluten-free?

This recipe for Cabbage Masala is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

It is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. Simply skip the asafoetida to make it gluten-free. This is because most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.

The chana masala I have used here is vegan and gluten-free. In case you are using a store-bought spice mix, make sure it suits your dietary requirements.

Tips & Tricks

1. Chop the cabbage finely for best results.

2. Since we are using very little oil to cook this sabzi, it is important to keep the flame at medium throughout, to prevent burning. Check intermittently to see if there is enough water for the cabbage to cook. If the water has dried out at any stage, add in a little bit to prevent the cabbage from sticking to the bottom of the pan. At the same time, it is important not to add too much water – use just a little bit.

3. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, for best results.

4. You can use garam masala in place of the chana masala I have used here. I use chana masala because we love the flavour it adds to this dish. You could also use a mix of chana masala and garam masala.

5. Adjust the amount of salt, red chilli powder, jaggery powder and chana masala or garam masala as per personal taste preferences.

6. I would personally not recommend skipping the jaggery. It adds a beautiful taste to the Cabbage Masala.

7. You can make this sabzi extremely dry or keep it just a tiny bit watery. We prefer the latter.

8. I prefer using a tart ‘Nati‘ (country) tomato in this sabzi, rather than the ‘farmed’ version. The Nati tomato adds a whole lot more flavour to the dish.

9. Skip the onion, if you want to make this a no-onion, no-garlic dish.

10. You may add some curry leaves, slit green chillies and dry red chillies to the tempering, too. However, I don’t use them.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Vegetable Sandwich| Bombay Sandwich

I write this post gripped in a wave of nostalgia, flooded with fond memories of the times when we were living in Ahmedabad. I love the diverse street food the city has to offer, and the fact that you could have a delicious meal in just about 30 rupees (I’m talking pre-2009). I’m not sure if things have changed now, but I am definitely sure that the city still continues to offer some brilliant street food that does not cost an arm and a leg. The recipe I’m going to share with you all today is for Bombay Sandwich or Vegetable Sandwich, the way I grew up eating it, something I dearly love.

Bombay Sandwich aka Vegetable Sandwich

What is a Bombay Sandwich?


It is a kind of sandwich made using vegetables, hugely popular in Mumbai. It’s available by the street-side and in several restaurants in Mumbai, and the same goes for Ahmedabad as well. Bombay Sandwich aka Mumbai Sandwich aka Vegetable Sandwich is a big-time favourite in Ahmedabad as well.

The Bombay Sandwich most commonly contains slices of cucumber, onion, tomato, boiled beetroot and potato – with so many veggies going in, this is a healthy sandwich I say! 😜 There’s butter and spicy green chutney going in too, which makes the sandwich super delicious. In Ahmedabad, the sandwich would be served without toasting, on a little square of newspaper, with tomato ketchup on top, over which thin sev would generously be drizzled. It would be served freshly made, with a flourish of chaat masala on top – a veritable treat in itself.

#CookInAJiffy with Foodie Monday Blog Hop


As a teenager in Ahmedabad, I remember making a hearty meal of two of these sandwiches, from Ajit’s, my favourite stall on Ashram Road. I would visit at least once a week, but now, I don’t know if the stall still exists. Anyhow, my visits taught me what an absolute breeze a Bombay Sandwich is to whip up, delish as it is. As I moved to Bangalore, I started making it myself and it was an instant hit with my extended family. I continue to make it often – it’s comfort food for when  I’m not feeling great, it’s an easy meal on days when I don’t really want to cook.

When #CookInAJiffy was announced as the theme for Foodie Monday Blog Hop this week, I instantly knew that I had to write about my beloved Vegetable Sandwich aka Bombay Sandwich. The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday.

It was Sujata ji, the talented blogger at Batter Up With Sujata, who suggested the theme for the week. I love the innovative recipes Sujata ji comes up with, like these Semolina Blueberry Custard Cupcakes and Eggless Fresh Fruit Cake With Black Carrot.

How to make Vegetable Sandwich


Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (makes 4 sandwiches):

1. 8 slices of bread

2. Salted butter, as needed 

3. Green chutney, as needed

4. 1 small beetroot 

5. 1 small potato 

6. 1 small English cucumber 

7. 1 small tomato 

8. 1 small onion 

9. A little chaat masala, to drizzle on the sandwiches

10. Fine sev, as needed (optional)

11. Tomato ketchup, as needed

Method:

1. Cut the potato into two halves. Transfer to a vessel, and add in enough water to cover the potato halves. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles or till well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Similarly, cut the beetroot into two halves. Transfer to a vessel, and add in enough water to cover the beetroot fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles or till well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, peel the potato and beetroot. Cut both the potato and beetroot into  slices. Keep aside.

4. While the pressure is going down, prep the other veggies we will need to use in the sandwich. Chop the cucumber and tomato into thin slices. Peel the onion and cut into thin rounds. Keep aside. 


Left top and bottom: Steps 1 and 2, Right top and centre: Steps 3, Bottom right: Step 4

5. Spread some butter evenly on one slice of bread. Spread some green chutney evenly on the other slice. 

6. Place the bread slice with green chutney on a plate. Arrange a couple of slices of the boiled potato and beetroot on top of the green chutney. Then, spread a few slices of tomato, onion and cucumber on top of this. Drizzle some tomato ketchup on top of this and sprinkle a bit of chaat masala. (Avoid the ketchup and chaat masala if you are planning to use sev).


Top left: Step 5, Right top and centre: Step 6, Bottom right and bottom left: Step 7 (using sev)

7. Now, close the sandwich using the other bread slice which has butter spread over it. If you are using sev, drizzle some tomato ketchup over the sandwich. Sprinkle a generous quantity of sev over the ketchup and add some chaat masala. Serve the sandwich immediately.


The making of a Vegetable Sandwich, without sev

8. Prepare sandwiches from all the slices of bread, in a similar manner. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces, and serve immediately.

Tips & Tricks


1. You can use any type of bread you prefer. Ideally, use a good-quality, whole wheat bread made without artificial colouring or flavouring agents, which is free of preservatives.

2. For best results, slice the vegetables thinly.

3. Use the fine variety of sev, popularly called ‘zini sev‘ or ‘nylon sev‘, for best results. It is a bit tough to find in Bangalore, though. The nylon sev from Garden is quite good, but it’s not easy to come across it. Make the sandwich without the sev for a healthier alternative – it still tastes awesome!

4. Here’s a detailed recipe for green chutney, the way I make it. I use the same chutney for my chaats and sandwiches. Keep the chutney thick for best results. A watery chutney will make the sandwich soggy.

5. I prefer having this Bombay Sandwich as is, without grilling. However, you may grill them if you so prefer.

6. Use the no-seed variety of cucumber – also called ‘English cucumber’ or ‘European cucumber’ – for best results.

7. The Bombay Sandwich is best consumed immediately after preparing.

8. I don’t cut off the edges of the bread slices. You may, if you prefer to do so.
9. You can make the sandwich sans onion, if you so prefer. The green chutney can also be made without onion and garlic, if you don’t prefer using them.

10. I have used Amul salted butter and home-made tomato ketchup here. You may use a store-bought version of the latter instead, too.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

No-Fry Paneer Kofta| Cottage Cheese Dumplings In Tomato Gravy

At home, all of us are big fans of North Indian sabzis and gravies to go with our rotis. We love our Palak Paneer, Chana Masala, Punjabi Aloo Matar, Aloo Methi, Methi Matar Malai and Dal Makhani. If you have been reading my blog for some time now, you would know that I mostly keep my dishes flavourful but totally home-style, sans processed ingredients, artificial colours and additives. I use very limited oil in my food, avoiding deep-frying as much as I can. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for another such healthy gravy – delicious Paneer Kofta, made without frying.

No-Fry Paneer Kofta!

A closer look at No-Fry Paneer Kofta

Paneer Kofta refers to dumplings made using cottage cheese, served in a creamy tomato-onion gravy.

The mildly spiced dumplings are usually deep-fried in restaurants, before adding them to the gravy. However, I make them in an appe or paniyaram pan, doing away with the frying.

Also, unlike commercial versions, there is no cream used in the gravy I make for the Paneer Kofta. I use cashewnuts instead, to thicken the gravy, along with some milk to give it a rich flavour.

This No-Fry Paneer Kofta is definitely a wholesome treat, delectable and full of flavour. Try it out, and you will surely not miss the cream and the frying!

How to make No-Fry Paneer Kofta

My uncle, a great cook, makes wonderful Paneer Kofta, albeit the fried version. I have taken his recipe for the koftas, and adapted it to the paniyaram pan. The gravy I have made in the same style as thd one I use in my Paneer Butter Masala and Matar Paneer.

Here is how I go about making the dish.
Ingredients (serves 4):

For the kofta:

  1. 200 grams paneer aka cottage cheese
  2. 3 medium-sized potatoes
  3. Salt to taste
  4. Red chilli powder to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  8. 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  9. 1/2 teaspoon chana masala
  10. 2 tablespoons besan aka gram flour
  11. A few teaspoons of oil, as needed for cooking in paniyaram pan

For the gravy:

  1. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 1 small onion
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 5-6 garlic cloves
  5. 10 cashewnuts
  6. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Red chilli powder to taste
  11. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 1 cup milk, boiled and cooled
  13. 1 cup water or as needed
  14. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder
  15. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  16. 3/4 teaspoon chana masala
  17. 1 teaspoon kasoori methi
  18. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, to remove any traces of dirt from them. Chop them into halves and place in a wide vessel. Pressure cook the potatoes with enough water for 4 whistles or till they are completely done. Let the pressure release naturally. Drain out the water from the potatoes and let them cool down completely.

2. Crumble the paneer thoroughly. Keep it ready.

3. Peel the onion, garlic cloves and ginger. Chop roughly. Chop up the tomatoes roughly too. Take the peeled onion, garlic cloves, ginger and tomatoes in a mixer jar, and add in the cashewnuts. Grind everything together to a smooth paste. Keep ready.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Step 3

4. Now, we will prepare the gravy required for the koftas. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Now, add the tomato-onion paste that we ground earlier, to the pan, along with a bit of salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Mix well. Turn the flame down to low-medium.

6. Cook the paste on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes, or till the raw smell of the ingredients goes away completely. Stir intermittently to prevent burning. By this time, the paste will thicken up.

7. Add in the jaggery powder, still keeping the flame at low-medium. Mix well.

8. Add in the garam masala and chana masala too. Mix well.

Top left: Step 4, Top right and bottom right: Step 5 and 6, Bottom left: Step 7, Above bottom left: Step 8

9. At this stage, add in the milk. Keep the flame at low-medium. Mix well.

10. Now, add in the water. Mix well.

11. Cook on low-medium flame for 3-4 more minutes or until the gravy thickens up and achieves a smooth, creamy consistency. Switch off gas.

12. Rub the kasoori methi well between your palms, and add to the pan. Add in the finely chopped coriander too. Mix well. The gravy is ready. Keep it resting till you get the koftas ready.

Top left and right: Steps 9 and 10, Bottom left and right: Steps 11 and 12

13. We will now begin preparing the koftas. Peel the cooked and cooled potatoes, mash them, and add to the mixing bowl. Add in the crumbled paneer, salt and red chilli powder to taste, asafoetida, turmeric powder, garam masala, chana masala, besan and finely chopped coriander. Mix everything well till you get a sort of dough.

The various stages involved in Step 13

14. Make 10-12 small balls out of the potato-paneer mixture. Keep ready.

15. Heat a paniyaram pan, then reduce the flame down to low-medium. Drizzle some oil in each of the pan’s cavities. Now, place a ball of the potato-paneer mixture in each of the cavities. Cook uncovered on low-medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the balls start browning at the bottom. Then, flip them over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side or until done. Prepare all the koftas in a similar manner and keep ready.

Bottom left: Step 14, Top left: Step 15, Right: The koftas, all ready

16. When you are ready to serve the curry, heat up the gravy lightly. Ladle it into serving plates, and place a couple of the koftas in each one. Serve immediately, alongside rotis or naan.

#PaniyaramPanMagic At Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #PaniyaramPanMagic, with all of us using the appe pan in innovative ways.

Priya Vijayakrishnan of Sweet Spicy Tasty was the one who suggested this week’s theme. You should definitely check out her space for her traditional Tamilian recipes as well as her unique take on dishes from around the globe. Take a look at the Kunukku Paniyaram or Dal Appe she has made for the theme – so inviting I’m tempted to try them out right away!

Tips & Tricks

1. Ensure that the paneer and milk at at room temperature, for best results. I have used Akshayakalpa paneer and full-cream milk from Nandini here.

2. Make sure the koftas do not burn, while cooking them in the paniyaram pan. Cook them on low-medium flame only.

3. I have used cashewnuts to thicken the gravy here. You may use a mix of cashewnuts and almonds instead.

4. Adjust the quantity of water you use in the gravy, depending upon the consistency you require. The above quantities worked perfectly for us.

5. It is important to cook the tomato-onion paste well, while making the gravy. Cook on low-medium flame till the raw smell is completely gone, taking care to ensure that it does not burn.

6. Add the koftas to the gravy just before serving. Also make sure the gravy is only lightly heated. These koftas are quite delicate, and disintegrate the moment they are put in hot gravy.

7. I have used a mix of garam masala and chana masala in both the koftas and the gravy. You may use a mix or either of these masalas instead.

8. For best results, cook the kofta till they get brown and slightly crisp on the outside. Take care to ensure that they do not burn.

9. I have used home-made chana masala and garam masala here. If you are looking for store-bought spice blends, Badshah, MDH and Everest work well.

10. I would not recommend skipping the jaggery used here. The jaggery does not make the dish sweet, but it does round off the other flavours nicely.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Easy Verkadalai Ladu| Unsalted Peanut Laddoos

Peanuts are a powerhouse of nutrients, as we all know. They are so versatile too, lending their beautiful flavour to everything from lemon rice and chaat to ice cream. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for a very simple but utterly delicious sweet treat made using peanuts – Verkadalai Ladu or Peanut Laddoos.
Verkadalai Ladu aka Peanut Laddoos


What goes into these Peanut Laddoos?


Like I was saying earlier, these Peanut Laddoos are super simple to put together, requiring the most minimal of ingredients.

First up, I have used unsalted peanuts in these laddoos, roasted till crisp. I have used jaggery powder for sweetening, and dry ginger powder (‘sukku podi‘ in Tamil) to add flavour to them. That’s about it – just three simple ingredients. Grind everything together and shape the laddoos, easy-peasy! The oil naturally releasing from the peanuts is enough to bind the laddoos, without the need for an agent like ghee or butter. There’s no need to make a jaggery syrup either, as is commonly required in case of laddoos. How much more simple can it get, eh? 🙂

Verkadalai Ladu or peanut laddoos made this way are not just very nutritious, but a guilt-free treat free of refined sugar. They are completely vegan too, suited to people following a plant-based diet. They are gluten-free as well.

I have shared another recipe for peanut laddoos on the blog earlier, made with coconut and sesame seeds. While those laddoos are extremely flavourful, this are a pared-down version that is loaded with taste too.

How to make Peanut Laddoos


Ingredients (makes 10-12 pieces):

1. 1 cup raw unsalted peanuts

2. 3/4 cup jaggery powder

3. 1 teaspoon dry ginger powder (sukku)

Method:

1. Take the peanuts in a heavy-bottomed  pan and place on high heat. Once the pan gets heated up, reduce the flame to medium. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till they become crisp, about 4 minutes. Take care to ensure that the peanuts do not burn.

2. Immediately switch the gas off and transfer the roasted peanuts to a plate. Allow them to cool down completely.

3. When completely cool, transfer the roasted peanuts to a mixer jar. Add in the jaggery powder and dry ginger powder. Grind for a couple of seconds, then stop to open the mixer jar and mix up the ingredients. Repeat this procedure a couple of times or till you get the mixture turns into a sand-like consistency.

4. Now, use your hands to shape balls out of the mixture, as big or small as you prefer. Your Peanut Laddoos are ready.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and centre: Step 3, Bottom right: Step 4

The A-Z Recipe Challenge


I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge that I am part of.


The A-Z Recipe Challenge is run by a group of passionate food bloggers who cook using ingredients in alphabetical order, every month. The letter this month is U, wherein we are cooking using ingredients like unsalted nuts and butter, unsweetened cocoa powder and mawa. I chose to work with unsalted peanuts.

Tips & Tricks


1. I do not remove the skin of the roasted peanuts. You may do so, if you so prefer.
2. I have used store-bought jaggery powder here. It makes the process of making laddoos super easy.
3. The colour of the laddoos will depend upon the type of jaggery you use, the roasting of peanuts and whether or not the peanut skins are removed.
4. Take care to ensure that the peanuts do not burn, while roasting them.
5. Use a heavy-bottomed pan for roasting the peanuts, for best results.
6. Do allow the peanuts to cool down completely before beginning to grind them.
7. Do not grind the ingredients at a stretch. Remember to stop every couple of seconds to mix up the ingredients. This will stop the ingredients from clumping up together, which will affect the taste of the laddoos.
8. I have ground the ingredients to an almost-fine powder here. You may even coarsely pulse them, if you so prefer.
9. I have used store-bought dry ginger powder here. It adds a lovely flavour to the peanut laddoos. You may skip this ingredient if you so prefer, but I would definitely suggest not to.
10. If the mixture is too dry after grinding, you may add in some ghee to help with the shaping of laddoos. Avoid the ghee if you want to keep the laddoos vegan.
11. The prepared peanut laddoos can be stored in a clean, dry, air-tight box for up to 10 days.
12. You can grind the roasted peanuts separately, and then mix in the jaggery powder and dry ginger powder.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments.