Pattani Kurma| Peas In A South Indian Gravy

Pattani Kurma is a flavourful gravy made using peas, with a South Indian touch to it. It makes for a wonderful accompaniment to flatbread like rotis and pooris, and can also be served alongside ghee rice or plain steamed rice. In today’s post, I’m going to talk with you all about our family recipe for Pattani Kurma.

Pattani Kurma

#CurriesFromTheSouth At Foodie Monday Blog Hop

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

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The group theme this week is #CurriesFromTheSouth, wherein all of us are sharing gravies from the South of India.

It was Narmadha, the talented author of the food blog Nams Corner. Narmadha’s blog is full of lovely traditional South Indian recipes, interesting bakes and kids’ special foods. Speaking of South Indian gravies, you should definitely check out her Vankaya Pachi Pulusu, a raw tamarind rasam with brinjals from the state of Andhra Pradesh.

How to make Pattani Kurma

Here is how we make it.
To grind:

  1. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 1 small onion
  3. 2 green chillies
  4. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 6-7 cashewnuts
  7. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (sombu)
  8. 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (gasa gasa)
  9. 1/4 cup fresh coconut pieces

Other ingredients:

  1. 1 cup dry yellow peas
  2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. A small piece of cinnamon (pattai)
  4. 1 star anise (lavanga poo)
  5. A small piece of stone flower (kalpasi)
  6. A small piece of mace (jaadipathri)
  7. 2 cloves (krambu or lavangam)
  8. 1 medium-sized bay leaf (birinji elai)
  9. 2 green cardamom (elakkai)
  10. 1 sprig of curry leaves
  11. Salt to taste
  12. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  13. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. 1 teaspoon sambar powder or to taste
  15. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala or to taste
  16. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder (optional)
  17. 1/2 cup milk, boiled and cooled (optional)
  18. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Soak the dry peas in enough water for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. When the peas are done soaking, drain out the water from them. Transfer the peas to a wide vessel, and add in enough fresh water to cover them completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 6-7 whistles or till the peas are well cooked. Let the pressure come down naturally.

3. In the meantime, make the paste that is required for this dish. Peel the onion and ginger, chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Remove the tops of the green chillies and chop roughly. Chop the tomatoes roughly too. Transfer the chopped onion, ginger, green chillies and tomato to a mixer jar, and add in the peeled garlic cloves. Also add in the cashewnuts, fennel seeds, poppy seeds and fresh coconut pieces. Grind everything together to a smooth paste, without adding any water. Keep aside.

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

4. Now we will start making the Pattani Kurma. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cinnamon, star anise, stone flower, mace, cloves, bay leaf, green cardamom and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a few seconds.

5. Now, reduce the flame to medium. Add in the paste we ground earlier. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the ingredients is gone. If the paste starts getting too thick, add in a bit of water – you can use the water that you cooked the dried peas in. Once the paste is thoroughly cooked, add salt to taste and turmeric powder. Mix well.

6. At this stage, also add in the cooked dried peas, along with the water they were cooked in. Mix well.

7. Add in the jaggery powder (if using), red chilli powder (if using), sambar powder and garam masala. Mix well. Cover and cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the water dries off and the gravy gets thicker. Mix in the milk (if using) and simmer for 2 minutes or so. Your Pattani Kurma is ready – garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander and serve hot with rotis, pooris, ghee rice or plain steamed rice.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Centre left: Step 6, Centre right, bottom left and right: Step 7

The essentials of a good Pattani Kurma

Well-made Pattani Kurma is rich without being overwhelming, neither too watery nor too thick. It is usually mildly spicy and utterly delicious!

The list of ingredients to make Pattani Kurma might seem long, but it isn’t a complicated recipe per se.

Here are some things you need to ensure, to make a finger-lickingly awesome Pattani Kurma.

– You can use fresh green peas or dried yellow or green peas in this gravy. Make sure the peas are well cooked before using them in the gravy.

– Whole spices like fennel seeds, cinnamon, stone flower, cloves, mace, green cardamom and bay leaves are what make kurma kurma. Make sure you use good-quality whole spices. Do not overdo them, though, for they are meant to be used in little quantities only.

– Fresh coconut goes a long way towards making an excellent kurma. The same goes for flavourful sambar powder and garam masala.

– A bit of jaggery and milk make the Pattani Kurma extra special. These are not absolute essentials, but are hugely recommended.

– This recipe necessitates making of a paste, which is then used to make the kurma. Make sure the paste is completely cooked, and that the raw smell of the ingredients is fully gone.

Is this Pattani Kurma vegan and gluten-free?

This is a completely vegetarian recipe. Skip the milk in the recipe above to make it vegan (plant-based). The sambar powder I have used here contains asafoetida (which typically has wheat flour in it), due to which this recipe is not completely gluten-free. Use a gluten-free version of sambar powder if you prefer it that way.

I have used home-made spice blends in this dish. If you are using store-bought versions, please don’t forget to check out the list of ingredients on the package to ensure that they are in line with your dietary requirements.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used dried yellow peas here, which take a longer time to cook as compared to dried green peas. Make sure the peas are completely cooked before using them in the kurma. You may add a pinch of cooking soda to the peas while they pressure-cooking them to ensure that they don’t stay hard.

2. You may use dried green peas in this recipe instead. Soak them the same way, for 8-10 hours or overnight, then pressure cook in fresh water for about 5 whistles.

3. Fresh green peas can also be used in this recipe, in place of the dried yellow peas. In that case, pressure cook them with a little water for about 2 whistles.

4. I have used home-made sambar powder and garam masala here. You may use store-bought versions instead, too.

5. Using the red chilli powder is completely optional. The sambar powder and garam masala I use are moderately spicy, so a bit of red chilli powder is warranted. However, if you feel the heat from the green chillies, sambar powder and garam masala is enough, you may skip the red chilli powder completely.

6. Whole spices like green cardamom, cinnamon, mace, stone flower, cloves and bay leaf are essential to give the Pattani Kurma a beautiful flavour. However, if you don’t have one or two of these whole spices, you may omit them.

7. It is recommended to not use the water in which the dried peas were soaked. So, I use fresh water to pressure cook them.

8. Here, I have added the cooked peas to the pan along with the water they were cooked in. There was about 1 cup of water. You may add the water a little at a time, too. You may add in more fresh water if you feel the gravy is too thick.

9. A mix of coriander powder and red chilli powder can be used in place of the sambar powder.

10. Pottu Kadalai (aka fried gram) can be used in the paste in the above recipe, in place of the Khus Khus (aka gasa gasa or poppy seeds).

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

Panakam| Panagam Recipe For Sri Rama Navami

Panakam or Panagam is an excellent summer drink, a delicious thirst-quencher. It is a traditional South Indian drink, made using simple everyday ingredients. Today, I am going to share with you all our family recipe for Panakam, the way we have always been making it.

Panakam or Panagam, a traditional South Indian summer cooler

What goes into Panakam?

Panakam is basically made with chilled water, sweetened with jaggery. Lemon juice is used to add flavour to the drink, while cardamom and dry ginger powder add the ‘spice’ punch. This makes it a medley of flavours – the sweet balanced by the sour and the slight spiciness.

There are little variations to this basic recipe, small touches added by different people to make the drink extra special. For example, in Karnataka, it is not uncommon to come across finely chopped musk melon in Panakam (called ‘Panaka‘ locally). In Tamilnadu, many households add to the drink a touch of edible camphor and some tulsi leaves.

Here, I have shared the way we prepare Panakam traditionally in our family. You can, of course, always add your own variations. It is a very simple beverage to make, taking bare minutes to put together.

Panagam recipe for Sri Rama Navami

In the South of India, Panakam is a traditional preparation on Ram Navami, considered to be the birthday of Lord Rama, which mostly falls in the month of April. Since the occasion is usually in the peak of summer time, the dishes traditionally prepared as prasadam are those that have a cooling effect on the body – Neer More (salted and spiced watery buttermilk), Pasi Paruppu Kosambari (a salad made using soaked moong dal), and Panakam. Yet another example of the culinary genius of our ancestors, and of how they practised seasonal eating.

In many parts of South India, temporary kiosks are set up by the roadside on Ram Navami day, where people volunteer to distribute Panakam, Neer More and Pasi Parippu Kosambari to passersby.

How we make Panakam

The detailed instructions follow.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 4 cups of water, chilled
  2. A pinch of salt
  3. 1 cup of jaggery powder or as needed
  4. Juice of 1 lemon or as needed
  5. 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom (elaichi) powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger powder (sukku podi)
  7. A pinch of edible camphor aka pacchai kalpooram (optional)
  8. 10-12 holy basil (tulsi) leaves

Method:

1. Take the water in a large vessel. Add in the salt and jaggery powder. Stir until the jaggery is completely dissolved in the water.

2. Squeeze in the lemon juice.

3. Add in the dry ginger powder.

4. Add in the cardamom powder. Crush the edible camphor crystals well to a fine powder using your hands. If using the edible camphor, add it in at this stage.

5. Tear the holy basil leaves roughly with your hands, and add them to the vessel.

6. Mix everything well together and pour into serving glasses. Your Panakam is ready. Serve immediately.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Right centre: Step 3, Bottom left: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5

#RangBirange At Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a group of enthusiastic food bloggers that I am part of. The group members share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday.

Sasmita of First-Timer Cook suggested the group theme this week – #RangBirange, wherein all of us are showcasing colourful beverages perfect for the upcoming summer months. I thought it was the perfect foil to share our heritage Panakam recipe, also keeping in mind that Sri Rama Navami is just around the corner.

Speaking of summer thirst-quenchers, you should totally check out Sasmita’s Spiced Beetroot Buttermilk and Sparkling Pomegranate Iced Tea. These are my favourites from the excellent collection of recipes on Sasmita’s blog, and I do want to try out these beauties this summer!

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used organic country jaggery here, which is dark brown in colour. The colour of your Panakam will depend upon the colour of the jaggery you use.

2. Make sure the jaggery you use is free of impurities. If there are impurities in the jaggery, do filter the water after it is completely dissolved.

3. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder as per personal taste preferences.

4. I have used water chilled in an earthen pot, here. You may use refrigerated water instead.

5. Do not confuse the edible camphor with the camphor that we use in poojas. The latter is not edible. Edible camphor (pacchai kalpooram in Tamil) comes in small boxes, and is commonly available in Tamilnadu. That’s where I get my supply from. It is typically used in dishes like Sakkarai Pongal, Panchamrutam and Boondi Laddoos.

6. Using the edible camphor is optional, but it is highly recommended. It adds a divine smell to the panakam. However, please remember that it is quite strong and just a pinch should be used. Using it in a larger quantity can be overpowering.

7. This is a vegetarian, dairy-free, vegan beverage that is suited to those following a plant-based diet. It is completely gluten-free and free of refined sugar too.

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

Sabudana Khichdi| How To Make Sabudana Khichdi

Sabudana Khichdi is a much-loved dish of many across India, including myself. I grew up eating brilliant Sabudana Khichdi at the homes of Gujarati friends and, over time, learnt to make it myself. I had the pleasure of introducing it to the husband, and the joy of seeing him fall in love with it too was incredible. 🙂

Though Sabudana Khichdi is a simple dish at heart, it isn’t very easy to get it just right. Many people complain of it turning lumpy, soggy and tasteless. I would say making the perfect Sabudana Khichdi is definitely not impossible, but it requires patience, practice and the right techniques. Today, I am going to walk you through the process of making delicious, non-clumpy, free-flowing Sabudana Khichdi, the way I have learnt to after several trials and tribulations.

Sabudana Khichdi, a dish very close to my heart!

What is Sabudana Khichdi?

Sabudana‘ – also called ‘sago pearls’, ‘javvarisi‘ in Tamil – is made from the tapioca root. As it is not a grain per se, sabudana is commonly consumed during fasts in different parts of India. ‘Sabudana Khichdi‘ is one of the most common dish using sago pearls, a savoury dry preparation. And, it’s absolutely delicious!

What goes into Sabudana Khichdi?

Like I was saying earlier, Sabudana Khichdi requires just a few ingredients.

  1. Apart from the sago pearls themselves, roasted and coarsely crushed peanuts are an important addition – this is what gives the khichdi a beautiful brown colour and oodles of flavour.
  2. Green chillies, cumin and coriander go in too, all of which impart a unique taste to the khichdi.
  3. Jaggery (or sugar) and lemon juice make the khichdi all the more irresistible.
  4. My mom sometimes adds a bit of turmeric powder and red chilli powder to Sabudana Khichdi – not done traditionally, but it gives a nice yellow colour to the dish. I usually avoid these.
  5. Since Sabudana Khichdi is typically prepared during fasts, a special variety of salt called ‘sendha namak‘ or rock salt is used in it. Asafoetida is commonly avoided. However, since we don’t follow fasting at our place, I use regular salt and asafoetida.
  6. Potatoes are a common ingredient in Sabudana Khichdi, which we prefer to avoid too.
  7. Do feel free to add in potatoes if you please – also, avoid asafoetida and use sendha namak in case you are making this dish while fasting. Better still would be to check on the ingredients that are allowed to be consumed in your family circle during fasting, and stick to these.

How to soak sabudana for the perfect, non-sticky khichdi

Making Sabudana Khichdi requires a bit of prior preparation, in terms of soaking the sago pearls and draining them so as to get them ready to use. Soaking the sabudana right is crucial to getting the khichdi right – a step that must be given utmost importance.

  1. First things first, use good-quality sabudana. You might need to experiment with different brands to find the ones that work best for you. We prefer using sabudana from Bhagyalashmi brand (not sponsored).
  2. Rinse the sabudana under running water a few times, discarding the water each time. Do this till the water gradually gets clear. This will help get non-sticky sabudana after soaking.
  3. Many recipes suggest soaking the sabudana for 2-3 hours but, in my opinion, soaking for 6-8 hours or overnight is the best. Use a 1:1 ratio of sabudana:water for soaking – i.e. for one cup of sabudana, use exactly one cup of water for the soaking. Alternatively, the level of water should be about a half inch above the sabudana. Adding more water might cause the Sabudana Khichdi to become a gloopy mess.
  4. Let the sabudana stand, covered, in this water for 6-8 hours or overnight. In time, the sabudana will absorb all the water and swell in size.

5. In the morning, to check whether the sabudana is done soaking, just take a pearl and squeeze it in between your fingers. You should be able to crush it easily, as shown in the picture above. In case you feel the sabudana is still hard in the centre, add 3-4 tablespoons water to it and soak for an hour more.

6. When the sabudana has fully soaked, transfer it to a colander. Let it rest for at least 1/2 hour so that any excess water can drain out. After draining the sabudana, it is ready to use in the khichdi. At this stage, the sabudana should feel dry to the touch and should have a free-flowing consistency.

How to make Sabudana Khichdi

Here is how I make it.
Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 1 cup sabudana
  2. 1/2 cup peanuts
  3. 1 tablespoon oil
  4. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. 3 green chillies, slit length-wise
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  10. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste

Method:

1. Soak the sabudana, drain and prepare it as stated above.

2. Dry roast the peanuts in a heavy-bottomed pan, on medium flame, till they get crisp. Take care not to burn them.

3. Transfer the roasted peanuts to a plate. Allow them to cool down completely, then crush coarsely in a mixer. You need to pulse for just a second to crush it – do not make a fine powder. Keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the cumin seeds, and let them stay in for a few seconds. Now, reduce the flame to medium and add in the asafoetida and slit green chillies. Allow them to stay in for a few seconds. (If you are using potatoes, add them in, peeled and chopped, at this stage. Cook on medium flame till they are almost done.)

5. Still keeping the flame medium, add the drained sabudana to the pan.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Right centre: Step 3, Right bottom: Step 4, Left bottom: Step 5

6. Add salt to taste, jaggery powder and the crushed peanuts. Mix well.

7. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently and intermittently. The sabudana will slowly start turning translucent, indicating that it is cooked. Switch off gas when almost all the pearls are translucent. Do not overcook the mixture, as it might turn hard and chewy.

8. Mix in the lemon juice.

9. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Sabudana Khichdi is ready to serve. Consume it warm for the best taste.

Top left and right: Steps 6 and 7, Bottom left and right: Steps 8 and 9

Is this Sabudana Khichdi vegan and gluten-free?

The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It is a no-onion, no-garlic dish too.

However, due to the addition of asafoetida, it is not gluten-free. Simply skip the asafoetida if you want to make this gluten-free. Most Indian brands of asafoetida include wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. If you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely go ahead and use it.

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

Kanda Kairi| Gujarati Raw Mango & Onion Salad

Kanda Kairi is a Gujarati summer specialty, the recipe for which I’m going to share with you all today.

For the uninitiated, it refers to a salad made using onions (‘kanda‘ in Gujarati) and raw mango (‘kairi‘ in Gujarati). It is a beauty, this salad, a mix of sweet (from jaggery) and sour, with a bit of spiciness (from red chilli powder). Black salt and roasted cumin goes in too, which elevates the taste of the salad to a whole new level. A proper flavour bomb this one is, for sure!

Kanda Kairi, aka Gujarati raw mango and onion salad

#SaladStories At Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Kanda Kairi is a must at least twice a week in Gujarati households, in the summer. It is believed to keep sunstroke and heat-related ailments at bay, and is served as part of a complete Gujarati thali or as an accompaniment to phulka rotis, in lieu of sabzi. I adore Kanda Kairi and, every year, I wait for the raw mangoes to come to the market so I can make this.

Over the weekend, I got home the first raw mango of the season and, of course, I had to make Kanda Kairi. It coincided perfectly with the theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop this week, #SaladStories.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. Poonam, the very talented author of Annapurna, suggested that we all share salad recipes this week. So, here I am! While at it, you guys must also check out the beautiful Vermicelli Salad that Poonam prepared for the theme.

More about Kanda Kairi

This is a completely no-cook salad that can be put together in bare minutes. It is super simple recipe that requires just a few ingredients.

It is vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. This is a gluten-free recipe as well.

How to make Kanda Kairi

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 medium-sized raw mango
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 1/2 teaspoon black salt or to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  6. 4 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste

Method:

Left top and bottom: Steps 1 and 2, Top right: Step 3, Top centre and bottom: Steps 4 and 5

1. Peel the raw mango. Cut off the stem part of it.

2. Grate the raw mango thick. Place in a large mixing bowl.

3. Peel the onion and chop it thinly, length-wise. Add to the mixing bowl.

4. To the mixing bowl, add salt, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and jaggery powder.

5. Use your hands to mix everything together thoroughly. Your Kanda Kairi is ready. Let it sit for at least 30-45 minutes before serving.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use a mango that’s raw and firm, not too squishy. For best results, use a raw mango that’s not overly sour – like a Totapuri.

2. Black salt (‘sanchal‘ in Gujarati) works best in this salad. It adds a unique flavour to it. However, if you don’t have it, you can use regular salt instead.

3. Adjust the quantity of salt, jaggery, red chilli powder and roasted cumin powder as per personal taste preferences.

4. The colour of the salad will depend upon the type and amount of jaggery powder and red chilli powder you use. Here, I have used a bright red Degi Mirch powder and dark brown organic country jaggery powder.

5. I prefer using jaggery powder in this salad. If you are using a block of jaggery, roughly crush it with a mortar and pestle before adding it to the salad.

6. In Gujarati households, the onion is grated and added to the salad, as is the raw mango. Here, I have grated the raw mango thick and chopped the onion thin, length-wise. I have used a regular red onion here.

7. To make roasted cumin powder, dry roast some cumin seeds on medium flame till fragrant, then allow them to cool down, and then grind coarsely. Take care to ensure that the cumin seeds do not burn. I usually make this powder with about 1/2 cup of cumin seeds, store it in a dry and air-tight box, and use it as needed.

8. This salad is best mixed with one’s hands. This helps in breaking down the lumps in the jaggery, if any. Also, this helps to release the juices from the raw mango and for all the flavours to meld well together. It is supposed to be served watery.

9. Make this salad at least 30-45 minutes before serving. Allowing it to sit for some time gives a chance for the flavours to incorporate well with each other.

10. You may chill the salad for a while in the refrigerator, once it is ready. I prefer allowing it to sit for a bit at room temperature.

11. If you want to, you may add some asafoetida, turmeric powder and finely chopped coriander to the Kanda Kairi. However, this is purely optional.

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

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!