Maharashtrian Chakli....Spiced Murukku

Murukku was one of the first snacks mom would make for Diwali. It was and still is everyone's favorite. She would make a lot and after saving some to be shared with neighbors on the actual day, the rest was always kept within our reach and we would always have one in our hands as we played and enjoyed our Diwali holidays. No matter how much she made it would all be gone in a few days.
I have always made the traditional salted one (recipe here), so this time for a change I made the more spiced mixed flour maharashtrian version. The recipe is from an old Femina Cookbook, that I had saved from years ago. The chaklis turned out great, they were easy to shape and I loved the spice and the flavor of gram flour.

Maharashtrian Chakli

2 cups (400 gms) rice
1 cup (200 gms) urad dal
1 cup (200 gms) chana dal
2 tbs (30 gms) moong dal
45 ml oil for mixing the dough

1 tbs (15 gms) ajwain
1 tbs red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1 tbs (15 gms) sesame seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
oil for frying

Roast the rice, urad dal, chana dal and moong dal separately until crisp. Grind together to a fine flour.
Stir in the ajwain, sesame seeds, chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. Add the oil and mix well, then add enough water to form a smooth but firm dough.
Fill the chakli mould with some dough and press out chakli's on paper. Fry them in hot oil on medium heat until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels and when completely cool store in air-tight containers.

Easy Mava Peda

Diwali is just around the corner and this year it's extra special. I am at home for Diwali after seven years and am really looking forward to all the celebrations. It is going to be Anushka's first Diwali in India and I want her to experience everything we did as kids.
I am going to take her shopping for lamps and lanterns this weekend and she is so looking forward to all the fireworks. I promised to get her sparklers and I was surprised as to how well she remembers them from last year.
What I look forward to the most are the many varieties of homemade snacks and sweets to munch on throughout the day. Amma and I plan to make all our favorites like Rava Laddoo, Besan Laddoo, Ribbon Pakoda and Murrukku next week. While going through my old recipe books I found this page that I had torn out of an old Femina magazine with a recipe for a Burfi. The instructions seemed a little weird, so I used the ingredients and came up with this peda instead.
I love milk based sweets and these mildly sweetened, cardamom spiced pedas were just perfect. Nothing makes me happier now than Anushka asking for seconds and this time she did, again and again.

Here are some more popular Diwali Sweets and Snacks...
Rava Laddoo
Mawa Rava Coconut Laddoo
Besan Laddoo
Kaju Katli/ Cashewnut Fudge
Ribbon Pakoda

Easy Mava Peda

150 gms fresh paneer, rinsed well and drained (made from 1lt full cream milk)
100 gms fresh mawa (made from 500mls full cream milk
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
5 tbs sugar
a little ghee
finely chopped nuts for garnish (I used pistachios)

Knead the paneer for a minutes until soft. Add the sugar and cardamom powder and knead for a couple of minutes until well combined.
Transfer the mixture into a heavy bottom pan and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves and the raw smell of paneer is gone. Stir in the mava until well combined. Cook on low heat stirring continuously for a few minutes until the mixture comes together. Ensure that the mixture does not burn or become dry.
When still warm, grease your hands with a little ghee. Take small portions and shape as desired. Garnish with chopped nuts.
Store in an air-tight box in the fridge for upto 4 days. It tastes best when kept out for about 15 minutes before eating.

Healthy Cardamom Tea Cake

It has been a month since we moved back to India. There are hundreds of things I will miss about our life back in the US, but it's wonderful to be home and meet up with family and friends. Most of all I love to see Anushka playing with and getting pampered by her grandparents. We are undecided as to where we will be settling and I've been shuttling between by in-laws and parents homes and living out of suitcases and it still feels like a vacation.
As far as blogging goes though, I'm in a rut and it took a lot of self-motivation to write up this post. I miss my boards and all the props that I had to leave behind and of course the huge oven in our apartment. Although I haven't cooked anything new in a while I have been baking quiet a lot and am finally getting used to the old O.T.G at my mom's place.

This cake, adapted from Cook Republic is the first one I baked since coming here. I love the simple ingredients and the one bowl mixing method. The batter was ready in no time and while the cake bakes, the house smells heavenly because of the cardamom. It was impossible to wait until the cake cooled and we sliced it minutes after it was out of the oven. It had just the right amount of sweetness, great texture and amazing flavor, we loved it.

Healthy Cardamom Teacake

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
a pinch of salt
1 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup rice bran oil
1/2 cup milk
icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F / 180C. Liberally grease an 8" round pan and dust with flour.
Sift together flours, cardamom, cinnamom and salt.
Stir in sugar. Whisk together the eggs, oil and milk until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool, dust with icing sugar, if using and serve.