Moong Dhall Halwa ~ ICC Dec 2009

This month's challenge is Moong Dhall Halwa. Though I haven't tasted this, I have heard that, this is a famous dish in North Indian weddings. I felt the taste resembled sakkarai pongal with the presence of moong dhall, ghee and nuts.
Thanks to Simran for the recipe and Lataji for her notes on the recipe. Of course, Srivalli, for all her efforts.
I have pasted below, both the methods for halwa. I also did a little change to the recipe.
My update: Since I didn't have khoa handy, I decided to add some sweetened condensed milk. I also added saffron for the delicate flavour it renders. The sweet turned out lip smacking, more like Badam Halwa.

Moong Dal Halwa

Soaking Time : Overnight
Preparation Time : 15 minutes
Cooking Time : 30 - 45 mins

Recipe 1 with khoya

Ingredients Needed:

Split (Yellow) Moong dal - 1 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup - 1 cup (depending on your preference)
Clarified Butter / Ghee - 1/2 cup
Khoya - 1/2 cup
Cashew nuts and raisins for garnish

You can make any quantity with this as long as you keep this ratio constant : equal amounts of dal and sugar, half the ghee and khoya.

Method to prepare:

Lightly roast the 1 cup of moong dal, wash, soak overnight and be ground to a fine paste adding very little water.

Take a thick bottom pan, heat 1/2 cup ghee and fry the moong dal paste till it turns brownish and releases the ghee. Add sugar and khoya.

Stir fry until both the sugar and khoya are well absorbed. Turn off the heat, then mix in cashew nuts and raisins.

Recipe 2 with just the dal

Split (Yellow) Moong dhal - 1 cup
Ghee - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cups to 1 cup (as per required sweetness)
Milk - 1/2 cup (Notes from Lataji - instead of water for the sugar, this gives the khoya added taste, Simran's recipe asked for water)
Cashews/ raisins roasted in ghee for garnish.

Method to Prepare:

Soak 1 cup moong dal overnight. Next morning, grind to a paste.

Heat a heavy Kadai, take initially only 1/2 of the ghee and heat it.

Add the dhal and stir continuously, not allowing lumps to form. This part is very tricky as the dhal cooks really fast, irrespective of the ghee.

Keep the heat at the lowest and keep stirring even after the dhal becomes thick.

Add the rest of the ghee intermittently and cook the dhal until aromatic and the ghee starts oozing out.

Meanwhile mix the sugar with water/ milk in a pan and bring to a boil. Add this slowly to the cooking dhal.

Keep the fir low at all times and break lumps if formed while adding the sugar and water/ milk mix.

Cook until the ghee surfaces.

Garnish with cashews and raisins.

Notes :

Use a thick bottom pan or better nonstick pan
Don't leave the halwa unattended. The dal can stick and it can go from just done to burnt in a second so keep stirring as much as possible. You should remember to keep stirring to prevent dhal from sticking irrespective of the ghee added.
You aren't looking for the halwa to get too thick when you turn off the heat. It was thicken as it cools.
Cook until ghee surfaces on the sides and the halwa attains a very nice shine.
Initially, it may appear that all the ghee is being used up. But as the dhal cooks the ghee separates. So the ghee measure is sufficient.
In both recipes depending on how you got the moong dal paste, you may require slightly more ghee to get the texture
Though original recipe didn't call for roasting the dhal before soaking, Lataji felt roasting it a bit gives more fragrance.

Pongal Wishes!

A very happy pongal to all. Wishing you lot of sunshine and happiness.
I made some Sakkarai Pongal and Ven Pongal, today. Hope you had your share too.
Check the recipe for sweet pongal here. This time I added twice the amount of jaggery to rice and reduced the dal to quarter cup.

My Blog Turns One!

Hurray! Today is my blog's first anniversary. Yes, I posted my first recipe, same day, last year. Time does run fast. Maybe, because when we were in school/college, we would move to the next academic year and there was a demarcation between years. Now that, we don't have any such thing, days seem to move at lightning speed. Is it just me or you also think so?
This post is to revisit, what I did on the blogging front, last year. Well, I know you might not be interested, but I very much wanted to do it for myself. So, here it comes.
Bye Bye to all those who leave the post, here ;)

How did I step into cooking and blogging
When I moved to US after wedding, I had no clue that I had so much passion for cooking. May be my passion for good food and the fact that we don't have fine Indian dining here, got me cooking.
Whatever be the reason, I absolutely love doing it. After about 6 months of cooking, I started my blog, inspired by fellow food bloggers. I thought it is a great idea to record my recipes which I can refer at any time in the future. Every time, I see someone landing on my blog in search of a recipe, it feels even better. Little did I think, I will make so many friends through my blog. Every comment on my blog makes me glad. I started typing names of my blogger friends and later thought it is not a good idea to do so, only due to the fear that I might miss some one in the process. So, thanks to all those who cared to go through my recipes along with my ramblings and also, leave a feedback.
Of late, I have started trying my hand at baking. So, might post some entries on that, too.

My Blogging Goals
When I started this blog, I had no goals in terms of number of recipes, I wanted to post. I didn't want to pressure myself doing that and posted only when I felt like doing it. I just wanted to be regular here and keep it going. I am happy that I was able to do it.

Events & Challenge
I love to participate in the events that are organised by my fellow bloggers. It was so much fun and I am really amazed by the amount of work that gets into organizing them. Hats off to all the hosts.

I am also happy that I am part of the Indian Cooking Challenge initiated by Srivalli. It has made me try few dishes which I would not have done, otherwise. Thanks to her.

You can check the current events and roundups of past events, here.

Lubna of Kitchen Flavours had featured my blog on her Rendezvous series, through which I got introduced to fellow bloggers. Thanks, Lubna.

Awards & Encouragement:(updated)
Passing on cute awards is lot of fun in blogging. It also carries lot of meaning in terms of encouragement and bonding.
Sangi gave the first one, the kreative blogger award. Thereafter I got many cute awards from Shama, Lataji, Sanghi, Brinda, Rohini, Kitchen Queen, Sandhya & Sangi herself.
Thanks for the lovely awards and encouragement. They sure mean a lot to me.

A peek into my recipes
Take a look into my recipes, here. I have not managed to cover all my recipes, but few of them.
You can always check them from the drop-down in the right pane.
I also started posting some Kwik Fix recipes to try when you do not have the time and energy to cook anything elaborate.

Feels good to see that I could make so many dishes, given the fact that I am a novice cook. All in all, I had a great blogging experience, so far.

Thanks for reading through.

Update: Sorry, I forgot to mention about the cute awards, my blogger friends passed on to me, in my previous post. I was meaning to do that but it some how slipped off. I have updated.

Beetroot Curry

A simple stir fry - nothing more. I have seen a lot of people disliking beetroot. This is my attempt to make it interesting by adding a lot of seasoning, without losing the nutritional value.
I have added some rasam powder for a zing.
I love this stir fry alongside sambar rice.

Beetroot(I used one small & one medium)
Grated Coconut - a handful or two
Rasam Powder half a tsp (optional I use Sakthi Masala Rasam Powder which is really nice to add zing to any South Indian Prep)
Salt to taste
Channa Dal - 1 tsp
Urad Dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves a few
Slit Green Chilli or Red chilli - 1
Oil - 1 tsp( I use coconut oil)
Mustard- 1 tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Hing - a pinch

1. Chop the beetroot roughly and pressure cook till soft. It really needs to be cooked for a long time to make it soft. Chopping beetroot is really tough and takes time. So, one tip I follow is first cook it till half done, peel the skin and chop. If you do not like to cook it with the skin on, you can quickly remove the skin and cook the whole beets. It is better to chop semi cooked beetroot.

2.Heat oil, add the dal,chillies,hing,mustard and cumin in that order. When the mustard pops, add the curry leaves and chopped beetroot. Add the rasam powder,salt. If you think it is cooked, add the coconut. Otherwise sprinkle a little water and cook to perfection. Now, add coconut and fry together for a min or two.

Serve hot.

Chocolate Cake with Butter Cream Icing

Wish you all, a very happy new year. May you all have a healthy, prosperous & peaceful life.
This is my first post for the year and thought let me start it with the yummy choco cake, I baked for Christmas.

I am a novice when it comes to baking and this is the second time, I am baking a cake; first attempt at icing. We had some friends come over on the Christmas day and they liked it. Hope it's not a white lie :)

Come to think of it, I added chocolate syrup,butter,condensed milk and whatnot. So it did taste great and it was a decent attempt. I had never thought I would venture out baking a cake. Leave alone baking, not even in my wildest dreams, I have seen myself getting passionate about cooking & blogging. Life definitely is a magical journey and such unexpected twists & turns make it worthwhile.

This attempt has also enlightened me on the amount of calories that goes into a piece of cake. Now, I will think twice before eating it.

On to the recipe, I have adapted this from Sandhya's Swirly Chocolate Walnut Cake.
I didn't use walnuts in my cake and added choco syrup instead of cocoa powder. Otherwise, it is pretty much the same, except for the swirling effect. I made this as a single cake.
She, in turn had mentioned in her post that she referred to Divya's Zebra Cake. So, thanks to Sandhya & Divya.
I got the icing recipe from net. After doing the icing, I thought why not decorate it with some choco shavings to make it richer. So, did that.


Dry Ingredients:
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Hershey's chocolate syrup - 2.5 tablespoon (I used generously for a rich chocolate taste)

Wet Ingredients:

Eggs : 2 (You can use even3)
Sugar : 1.25 cups (I added a little more since the chocolate syrup might make the cake bitter)
Sweet cream butter unsalted - 3/4 th cup + a little to grease the pan
Sweetened Condensed milk - 3/4 cup (Remember it should be sweetened or else you got to add extra sugar)
Milk - 1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp

1) Sift together the flour and baking powder.
2) Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. Then mix the sugar and beat together till frothy. Use an electric mixer for the best result.
3) Add the condensed milk, vanilla extract and beat well. Add the butter, milk,chocolate syrup and mix well.
4) Add the dry ingredients and beat everything together without any lumps.

The cake batter is ready. It should be of pouring consistency. If you find it thick, you can mix a little milk. Fill it in a square/circular pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325 F for an hour.
Check with a toothpick.
The cake pan should be filled up to half its depth since the cake will rise.

Butter - 1 cup
Confectioner's Sugar - 3 cups
Chocolate Syrup - 1 tablespoon

Mix everything using a whisker. If you find it hard, mix a little milk/cream.

Chocolate shavings (grated some hershey's chocolate) and sprinkles

Setting up the cake:
Wait for the cake to cool down.
Carefully cut across the middle of the cake using a cake knife.
Place the bottom layer in a cake tray/plate. Apply the icing using the cake knife just as you butter a bread. Make it a thick layer. Place the other piece of the cake such that the icing is sandwiched.
Now start applying the icing all over the cake. For an even finish, I dipped the knife in a cup of water, now and then. But not too much water.
Now decorate with the chocolate shaving and sprinkles.

I'm sharing my cake with all of you.

Sending this to Divya's Show Me Your Cake event.

Also, to Mahimaa's Cakes and Cookies event.