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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Badam Katli or Badam Burfi

I don't remember my mother making this sweet while I was growing up, so I relied on online recipes for this. I tried a few of them, but finally settled with the one below, which is a mush mash of 2-3 recipes I tried. This is the right texture and feel I wanted.

Badam Katli
(pic above is made with 3 cups of almonds)
1. Almonds - 1 cup
2. Sugar - 1 cup
3. Butter - 2 tbsp
4. Elaichi/Cardamon powder - a pinch
5. Milk - 1/4 to 1/2 cup

I blanched the almonds first using the method that is specified in chefinyou blog. Please click on the link to see how. Then I dried them completely by wiping them with a clean dry kitchen towel and spreading them out to dry more(for about an hour). Grind this into powder using a blender. Pour in a mixing bowl and mix well with sugar. On a non-stick pan add 2 tbps of butter and once it melts add the mixture of almond powder and sugar. You need keep the temperature at less than medium heat. Keep mixing it by add milk one spoon at a time. This is just to help the sugar melt and to make our dry mixture into a dough like consistency. After around 20 minutes of doing this, the mixture will form a dough like consistency, more like chapathi, and will start to leave the sides of the pan (it will not stick anyway if you use non-stick pan so this is not a deciding factor). At this point add the elaichi powder, mix well and stop the stove. Let it cool for 5-7 minutes, if it cools too much you cannot roll it like a chapathi and cut it. So once it is cool enough for you to handle, roll it using rolling pin and board greased with butter. Cut them into diamonds, pizza cutter made it easy. You can add the shapeless ones along the edges back into the mixture and knead it again. Repeat until you are all done.

I made this with 3 cups of almonds and 3 cups of sugar. But my friend who tried it with one cup said she couldn't get her blender (Indian) to grind, so she had to add milk and make it a paste instead. I didn't want to add milk because that brings a different texture. When it is in paste form, the sugar melts soon on heat making it of sticky sugar syrup consistency. You cannot roll this mixture using rolling pin when done, instead you have to pour this in a plate while hot and cut them into pieces. There is a plus to this, the katlis are bind well and don't break. The one I did are kind of crumbly, they will break easily. Its just personal preference, they both are yummy :-) Also when you make 3 cups like I did, you should be fast to roll them because the mixture starts to cool fast and it hardens as it cools.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Diwali is here...

Its that time of the year again, its Diwali. For those who don't know, Diwali, also called Deepavali in some places of India, is like the 1st or 2nd most important of the number of festivals we have. Its lot of fun for kids in India, they get to do all the fire works on the streets, we call then fire crackers, there are those that make lot of noise, those that sparkle, those that just produce just smoke. We have to close the doors and windows in India and still cannot hear the audio of those lovely special TV programs we get to watch while eating those sweety sweets. These days environmentalists are urging people not to do that, no, they are not saying not to eat sweets, but not to do the fire works. It also leaves a lot of mess on the streets that takes days to clean up. While I am all for environment and going green, it is still so hard for me to say no, it was so much fun for me as a kid.

Being far away from home, I used to wonder a lot about what we miss, what the kids miss here miss and without my knowledge I started taking extra care to keep some traditions alive. I still remember the Diwali season, as a kid I would shop in those crowded streets with my mom for that special outfit to wear during Diwali, buying those fire crackers and restlessly waiting for the Diwali night to have fun, enjoying those sweets and savories that my mom makes for us and to share with friends and relatives. There is a lot of preparation involved, from shopping from all those ingredients and getting the flour ground at the rice mill, I don't think people bought ready made flour 10 years ago in India. She used to bring the gas stove from the counter, set it on the floor and sit comfortably on a low seat, for the quantity she makes and the time it takes, she better get comfy. With me and my brother watching eagerly from a distance, the ritual starts the weekend before Diwali, with my mom and sisters helping each other getting all the bakshanam ready. Then comes the fun part, all the neighbours, relatives, watchman, post man, street vendors, everyone get their share.

While I haven't done any of my mom's specialities this year, like Athirasam (arisalu) or Badhusha or Mysore pak, I did some sweets and snacks, which I will post in my following posts.

Have a happy and safe Diwali everyone !


I am glad I get to start my first post with Ganesh.
This is the first year of our marriage and everything is special, every festival is special, every occasion is special...... Its Ganesh Chaturthi and my husband said he always used to get together with friends, do the pooja and do the nimarjam on the 5th or 7th day in one of the close by lakes. That made me think, where do we do nimarjanam this year, since we cannot go very far in the lake the idol will be touching people's feet who play and swim at the lake. That thought made me very uncomfortable. All the Indian stores around here had either paper mesh ones, or the hard kind, that you know will not melt. Well, then I started browsing for options. I wanted to make sure that the Ganesh I use for Chaturdhi is suitable for eco-friendly nimarjanam - can be immersed in water where it melts away easily and does not contain anything harmful. I read on some site that "The immersion symbolizes his return from the earth after removing the obstacles and unhappiness of his devotees". I also ran into this site e-coexist, an org in India making biodegradable eco-friendly Ganesh. Then I thought why not I try to make one on my own.
Turned out, I am not too bad.
Here is my eco-friendly Ganesh

It is made from Crayola air-dry clay, that is natural and non-toxic, the one that is suitable for kids to play with. It hardens as it dries, but it completely melts in the water. I used my acrylic colors to paint it.

I made the umbrella using a plastic salsa cup from Walmart, it was the right shape I wanted, but it had legs that I found hard to remove. I had to heat up a knife and cut them off, the plastic was very hard, be very careful. I pasted some red cloth I had and decorated it.
Here are some "making of" eco-friendly Ganesh pics: