Category Archives: Sugar Based Sweets

Nut Filled Chocolates – Home made

 

When I bought this beautiful silicon chocolate mould, my urge to make chocolates soared up..justified isn’t it? Though there is a plan to make chocolate from scratch at home, I chose to make the easier version – nut filled chocolates with available dark chocolate. If you are like me – who doesn’t want the chocolate manufacturers to decide the amount of sugar that you would like to have in your chocolate, then choose chocolates with 90% or 80% cocoa content and add your own bit of sugar to sweeten. Else, just choose your favourite chocolate bar.
  


  

So,first step – feel free to choose your favorite – milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate with 50-70% cocoa or the bitter lot – 80%-90% cocoa. I chose to combine 80% and 90% cocoa bars, as my family loves bitter chocolate. Any chocolate you use – follow these simple steps to get your own nutty chocolate. Also, choose your own filling – I filled them with almonds and walnuts. Raisins, dates, dried prunes, dried berries, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts and many more can be suitable variants. For a beginner like me, I thought nuts or dried fruits might be the better fillings than making cream or caramel centres.
  

Nut filled Chocolates – Home made
  


  

Essentials

  1. chocolate mould
  2. two bowls for double-boiling chocolate bar – to melt chocolate on stove
  3. one microwavable bowl – to melt chocolate in microwave

  

Ingredients

  • Chocolate of your choice – milk, white or dark – approximately 200 gms
  • almonds (toasted) – 15 no.s
  • walnuts (toasted) – 15 no.s

  

Method of Preparation

a.  Toast the nuts in oven –

  1. Preheat oven at 175 degrees centigrade and place the tray with nuts and toast initially for 5 minutes.
  2. After 5 minutes, take out and give it a shuffle. This will enable even toasting of nuts on both sides.
  3. Toast again for another 5 minutes.. checking after every 2 minutes. If they are crisp enough before 5 minutes, remove them.

  
b.  Melt the chocolate


  

  1. If using stove, take a pan with half filled water and place another bowl over it. While boiling, water shouldn’t touch the upper bowl.
  2. Place broken pieces of chocolate on the upper bowl and let it melt in the steam of the water in the lower bowl.
  3. If using microwave, place chocolate pieces in a microwavable bowl, and microwave in medium high for 1 minute initially. Take the bowl out, stir and microwave again for 20 seconds.. Repeat the process until chocolate is completely melted.
  4. Be cautious, overdoing might harden the chocolate.

  

c. Filling the chocolate

1. Pour melted chocolate until half of the silicon mould.


  

2. Place nuts inside. Either place almonds alone or combine both.. choice is yours.


  

3. Pour more chocolate to close the mould.


 

  

4. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes or until firm. If you let to cool by itself, it might take at least half an hour to solidify completely, or even more.


  

5. Remove from moulds once cooled and store in air tight containers in normal temperature or in refrigerator.

The French Macaroon Workshop – Coconut Macaroons

My interest in Macaroons is not only because of my sweet tooth; but my maternal connection to the Pearl City of India – Thoothukudi, which is famous for its cashew-nut macaroon biscuits. The macaroons of Thoothukudi and its relation to macaron and maringue have been discussed in dosaikal previously.  That post was based on a Bakery Visit and learning the process of making macaroons in bulk. Recently, I had this wonderful opportunity to learn the process of making French Macaroons, from a Sous Chef. The Hotel that offers wonderful coconut macaroons to its guests in their Dinner Buffet or Breakfasts/Brunches allowed us to peep into their baking counter. That turned out to be a great workshop on my favourite Macaroons.

What else do I know best, than sharing the episode with my friends through this channel… I chose to do it as a pictoral tour.. come along!
  

The ingredients – as written on the white board for easy reference

  • egg whites – 400 gms
  • breakfast sugar – 1 kg
  • coconut powder – 600 gms
  • icing sugar – 300 gms

  


  

in display


  

the machine


  

Making Macaroons

1. Beat egg whites


  

2. Add breakfast sugar – which is supposed to render a sticky texture to the mixture unlike normal granulated sugar. The chef mentioned, the stores sell ‘breakfast sugar‘ which is not the same as normal sugar.


  

3. When the mixture reaches soft peak consistency,


  

mix coconut powder and icing sugar


  

4. Gently fold the coconut powder-icing sugar into the beaten egg whites with hands


  

5. Remove the mixture into a bowl


  

6. Drop slowly into piping bags


 


  

7. Pipe into beautiful macaroons on a silicon baking sheet


 

 

  

8. Macaroons made by my little chef


 

  

9. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 15 to 20 minutes


  

10. Coconut Macaroons are ready. You could serve these as cream filled double macaroons too.


 

 
Those macaroons by my little one made my day…truly awesome.

Happy Deepavali 2016 with Thiripagam – an easy variant of Badam Halwa

 

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pre-diwali and diwali delicacies

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Deepavali falls on the 29th of October, 2016 in Tamilnadu. If Deepavali means lots of happiness and loads of sweets and snacks- the festivity arrived a week earlier at home.

In the earlier decades of joint families or extended families close by, or at least a few siblings to share and pick up the last bits of sweets and snacks from the thooku chatti, festivals meant making of sweets and savories literally in several kilograms if not tonnes.

Presently, with nuclear families, especially with single children or children in different destinations, the sweet and savories story isn’t a kilogram affair, but has become a ‘grammy’ indulgence. Additionally, there is no aachi-amma duo to occupy the kitchen for consecutive hours, patiently filling the big chattis with goodies. Making so many delicacies in a couple of days fit for consumption for diwali and a few days beyond has become too strenuous now, atleast for me.

But, when the most important ingredient of a good festival – the energy to make and share traditional sweets and savories was still bright and shining as the lights of Diwali, there arose a patient plan. The patience behind making several goodies gave rise to a Pre-Diwali weekend.Instead of slogging in kitchen with so many things in mind, I started off with a few last weekend. Festivity started a week earlier, yes- for the sheer temptation of making more and introducing more traditional sweets and snacks.

Cooking is a bliss when you have people around to gobble it in a jiffy. Now, I really miss the ever hungry tummy of my little brother, who let amma and aachi feel delighted to make more and more ‘norukku theeni’ aka nibblers with the same enthusiasm for years together.

Yet, I have a little nibble hunter, who is as enthusiastic to taste new palagaram/snacks as to cook a few.

These are a few of my little one’s contributions for this Diwali…

 

magizhampoo murukku by her

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And also, a few kiliyanchatti/diyas hand painted for several occasions

painted lamps in gorgeous colors

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and this one’s already lit with imagination

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For the Pre-Diwali weekend, I made

  1. Gulab Jamun
  2. murukku in two different shapes

and  3. dragonny jilebis (those first attempt jilebis which turned out off-shape)

Mid way in the week, started off with the true notion of cooking traditional sweets from the place I hail from – Tirunelveli.
Thiripagam, Manoharam and Kara Sevu passed to the top of the list. If the first two resemble names of mythical characters beyond seas, that’s merely co-incidental. Not to worry, they are sweets and the third one is a popular spicy savory, available throughout South India.

 

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First, to the most uncommon among the three – Thiripagam.
When Amma had already started with Thiripagam – a long forgotten sweet, I just grabbed the opportunity of introducing the same here. Thanks to her, took step by step instructions to make.

I was introduced to this elegantly presented sweet in my uncle’s marriage. The feast had this different sweet, but with a very familiar taste. Was it Mysore Pak or Badam Halwa ? The former is the ghee oozing/melting in the mouth sweet with bengal gram flour and the latter is the wonder pudding with the goodness of almonds. Now, Thiripagam is somewhere between both. Kadalai Maavu or Bengal Gram Flour is the base ingredient with equal proportion of nei/clarified butter. Add the sugar and it would very well become mysore pak. This sweet has an additional inclusion of milk to the gram flour, that acts as an alternate to the almond milky flavor. These might be reasons for the resemblance of Badam Halwa and familiarity of Mysore Pak.

The pudding is shaped in rectangles or squares and wrapped in cookie sheet/butter paper. This is what aids in its elegant presentation with the distinct taste.

If made in a micro wave, this is certainly a 10 minute sweet to prepare. But since I don’t prefer micro wave cooking, I’ve done in the pan, which took about 30 minutes of stirring to reach the adequate kali/halwa consistency.

Thiripagam

 

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Thiripagam, – which means three parts, where the name must have come from the three core ingredients – bengal gram flour, clarified butter and milk.

 

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Ingredients (makes 16 pieces)

 

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  • kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour (besan) – 1 cup
  • nei/clarified butter (ghee) – 1 cup
  • paal/milk – 1 cup
  • cheeni/sugar – 3/4 cup
  • kungumapoo/saffron – generous strands

 

Though Amma mentioned the quantity of sugar could vary between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, I added only 3/4th of a cup. One can alter as per their sweet preference. Another alteration I made was the deduction of pachai karpooram/edible camphor. The flavor of the sweet comes from edible camphor, but I thought saffron could be a flavorful component to this exceptional sweet.

 

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Sieve kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour and keep ready
  2. Warm milk and mix the saffron strands
  3. In a bowl, mix the sieved flour, sugar, 1/2 cup clarified butter and milk with saffron – without lumps

 

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4. Having the batter without lumps is very important – I used a fork to press the few lumps that was left over in the batter

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5. Keep the other 1/2 cup clarified butter to add in the end when pudding is almost done

6. Mix well till all sugar is dissolved

7. Heat the batter in a non-stick pan and let it boil

8. Keep stirring and when it starts boiling, simmer the burner

 

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9. The batter would reach a thicker consistency in about 30 minutes time in sim position

 

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10. At this stage, pour the reserved 1/2 cup clarified butter and stir well

 

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11. When the kali/halwa has become thick enough to be spread in a plate, switch off stove

12. Spread the halwa in a greased plate and cut into rectangular/square piece when warm

13. Take cookie sheets and cut into squares enough to fold the thiripagam pieces

14. Place the piece inside the cookie sheet and fold into beautiful squares

 

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15. Thiripagam is ready in its perfect presentation.

 

The Macaroons of Thoothukudi – Cashewnut Goodies from Coastal Tamilnadu!

 

the beautiful macaroon biscuits

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The memory of soft, crunchy, melting macaroons summarizes the good old days of Thaatha Veedu or Grandpa’s house. Those were the days we had little or no concern on the fat intake. Just open the flavorful boxes of Ivory Macaroons of Thoothukudi and gobble five to six at one go…this was a normal event. Macaroons to me are synonymous to many many more childhood memories, richly associated with grandparents and a big gang of an extended family.

Nostalgia knows no currency. The simplest kodukkapuli (twisted tamarind) and the arunellikkai (small gooseberries) from the road side vendor outside school, the kuchi ice (stick ice-cream) from the mobile ice-cream man that we got for Rs.1 each and the elite macaroons that thaatha used to send with us after our summer holidays bring in the same ever green memories of the very special home town alike.

There is no record of the time of introduction to macaroon biscuits while we belong to the coastal city of Thoothukudi. When our digestive system became strong enough for semi-solid food, a pinch of powdered macaroons must have gone in between our toothless jaws. The rest of the story of consuming several kilogrammes of macaroons before completion of schooling is history.

 

True, we would have had countless macaroons, without knowing how it is made. We might not have known how and with what ingredients half of the snacks or goodies we consumed were made of. But with macaroons the case is different. Especially a vegetarian family, enjoying macaroons which are purely made of egg whites and sugar, could be a trend setting relaxation to conservative ideologies.

The good fortune of having made so many lives smile after giving them a packed box of exclusive macaroon biscuits from our home town as gift is enough for our family for many more generations to come. Seems exaggerated?? Could be… But such is the elevated position of ‘The Macaroon Biscuit’ in Thoothukudi.

 

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Ignorance is Bliss

On a lighter side, after so many years, what makes me jittery is the thought of giving the same box of beautifully shaped conical goodies to so many hard core vegetarian families –  both the giver and the receiver – unaware of the kilograms of egg whites gone into the box of macaroon biscuits, specially brought as a souvenir from Thoothukudi.  Now, Sharing, Caring and making people Happy are some of the greatest Virtues in life you can provide to the world. By this logic, I think we have done only good to those we delivered the Ivory Macaroon Biscuits. I tell to myself – “It’s something like having cakes, pastries and many more mousses taking no count of the eggs or the gelatin involved in the making.”

This long personal story is just not enough to emphasize the special place of  ‘macaroons of Thoothukudi’ in my life. Macaroons have played different roles in our intake of sweets and snacks. They could be the after school snack, dessert of the day, special goodies for friends and visiting dear ones, comfort snack during hunger pranks, the most elite souvenir and what not?..  Judge it junk or not junk… Macaroons are beyond all those jargons.

If the reader is reminded of advertisements that concentrate on persuading the customers to buy their product on all occasions, this is truly unintentional.
Ivory Macaroons

 

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I call them the Ivory Macaroons due to the color. The ivory color of the macaroons, comes from the Cashew nut powder added to the Egg-white and sugar mixture. While French macarons come in varied colors, Thoothukudi macaroons are solely ivory in color and there is no addition to diversify the true cashew nutty flavor.

 

History of Macaroons in the Southern City of Tamilnadu (India)

Before writing on the making of Macaroons, here is a brief note on the history of the very important Pearl Harbour in Thoothukudi, one of the essential gateways of colonial traders into down south Tamilnadu and the connection of Thoothukudi Macaroons to Meringue, Macaron and Macaroons.

If this tests your patience – Feel free to skip please!

Now, how did Macaroons come to the southern tip of India, from the countries it is believed to have originated? The origins of Macaroons in Thoothukudi must be surely the result of the Colonial Connection. Apart from the cane/palm jaggery based traditional sweets exclusive to down south districts of Tamilnadu, Thoothukudi has always been famous for its bakery products – be it the plum cake or the nutty caramel toffee.
Thoothukudi Sea port

For more evidences on the colonial connection of the city –

The Thoothukudi sea port is an ancient port, very resourceful due to its Pearl Fishing opportunities. From ancient times and during the 16th to 19th century ACE and still a source of strong economy for Pearl Fishing, the city of Thoothukudi is hence called ‘Pearl City’.

As a Pearl Fishing Port,

Thoothukudi was occupied by the Portuguese from 1500 ACE to 1658 ACE –

 

There were several flourishing trading centres and ports along the Pearl Fishery Coast. Thoothukudi was the headquarters and it was given its due political, commercial and cultural importance by the Portuguese. It is situated almost at the centre of the Pearl Fishery Coast. The annual pearl fishing was undertaken from here. All the islands are spread out before Thoothukudi. It (Thoothukudi) was strategically important in the sense, that the Portuguese could control Sri Lanka from here due to its proximity.

 

Occupied by the Dutch from 1658 ACE to 1796 ACE –

 

The Dutch increased their presence on the Fishery Coast, taking possession of towns, forts and ships of the Portuguese. Eventually, the Dutch attacked and captured the Portuguese headquarters at Tuticorin in 1658, bringing to an end the 133-year Portuguese rule over the Fishery Coast. The Dutch East India Company now took control of the entire Fishery Coast, all its seaports, the pearl fisheries.

 

And occupied by the British from 1796 ACE till independence in 1947.

With the Dutch and British Rule extended over centuries, there is little doubt on the import of the sugary macaroons into the Port City. But, for the search of specifics, this topic would need an extensive research. Please do let me know of any books or information on the travel of Meringues or Macaroons to South India.

 

The Origins of the Original Macaroon and its connection with Meringue, Macaron and Macaroon

The details learnt from other blogs and websites on the above mentioned trio have been included here purely for the purpose of understanding Macaroons. While trying to know important facts on Macaroons, facts on Meringues become unavoidable. This has helped in better comprehension of the shape of Thoothukudi Macaroons closer to Meringues and the Recipe which belongs to Macarons.

Now, the three words Meringue, Macaron and Macaroon are closely connected and often confused to be the same. Especially for those, who are always elated with their ‘Thoothukudi Mecroon Biscuits’, macaroon or macaron or even a macaroni  could just be spelling errors.

But the western world doesn’t think so and wouldn’t want the world to think that’s a mis-spelt word.  Search the world wide web and all beautiful details unwrap before you.
Meringue:

Meringue is the simplest of the three, with egg white and sugar whipped to stiff peaks and baked. Swiss, French and the Italian Meringue have their differences in technique but the basic ingredients remain the same.

The book ‘Meringue’ by Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner talks elaborately on the the history and science of meringue,

 

Larousse Gastronomique, The New American Edition of the World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia:

“Some historians of cookery believe that the meringue was invented by a Swiss pastry cook called Gasparini, who practiced his art in the small town of Meiringen (now in East Germany). Others maintain that the word comes from the Polish word marzynka and that the preparation was invented by a chef in the service of King Stanislas I Leszcyński, who later became Duke of Lorraine. The king passed on the recipe to his daughter, Marie, who introduced it to the French. Queen Marie Antoinette had a great liking for meringues and court lore has it that she made them with her own hands at the Trianon, where she is also said to have made vacherins, which are prepared from a similar mixture.”

http://boingboing.net/2012/09/04/the-history-and-science-of-mer.html

While wikepedia links Douglas Muster’s research on Meringues to a site called http://www.inmamaskitchen.com, I couldn’t get any details on Muster on Meringue from the link.  But in http://www.epicureanpiranha.com/2012/meringue-musings-and-history/, the writer talks of Douglas Muster’s book and states –

‘Muster’s research surprisingly points to England as the country of origin’.

and gives a detailed analysis of Muster’s claim to Meringue as a product of England.

 

Lady Elinor Fettiplace (c. 1570 – c. 1647) provides the earliest written evidence in what was described as a small bound manuscript, dated 1604, with a short recipe for what she called “white bisket bread”, made with a pound & a half of sugar, & an handfull of fine white flower, the whites of twelve eggs beaten verie finelie, proportions which are still in use today! The quantity of flour is so small that it could be compared to the addition of cornstarch in some of today’s recipes.

Lady Rachel Fane (1612/13 – 1680), who lived quite a distance (given the period in question) from Lady Fettiplace, provides a similar recipe for what she called “Pets”, a name still occasionally used to refer to meringues in the Loire region in France.

Despite having been written in the vernacular of the day and being referred to by different names, these two recipes can easily be understood and currently constitute the earliest known, documented proof of meringue being prepared.

http://www.epicureanpiranha.com/2012/meringue-musings-and-history/

 

By this, did the artistically shaped Meringue originate in Britain?? So, the British influence brought the so called Macaroon Biscuits into Thoothukudi?

Now, why write more on the Meringue?? Because Meringues seem to be closest in shape to the Macaroons of Thoothukudi.

 

meringue – closest in shape to our macaroons

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image courtesy: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/14029/basic+meringues

Macaroons and Macarons

After many blogs specifying the differences between Macaroons and Macarons, http://www.popsugar.com/food/Macarons-vs-Macaroons-8038818  seemed to give a clear description of both.

Macaron –

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A macaron specifically refers to a meringue-based cookie made with almond flour, egg whites, and granulated and powdered sugar, then filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd. The delicate treat has a crunchy exterior and a weightless interior with a soft ending that’s almost nougat like in its chewiness. To add to the confusion, it’s often called a French macaroon.
Macaroon –

 

macaroonsimage courtesy: https://lehungryotter.com/2012/09/09/macarons-not-macaroons/
In contrast, the word macaroon is a generic phrase that is applied to a number of small, sweet confections. Mostly, the term is equated with the moist and dense coconut macaroon, which is composed of egg whites, sugar, and dried coconut, often piped with a star-shaped tip, and sometimes dipped in chocolate. The coconut macaroon, or congolais, as it’s known in France, is frequently served during Passover because it contains no flour.

Definition Courtesy: http://www.popsugar.com/food/Macarons-vs-Macaroons-8038818

In a state of confused conclusion, what could be derived is –

  1. Having seen the shapes of Meringue, Macaron and Macaroons, Thoothukudi Macaroon Biscuits are closer in shape and design to Meringue.
  2. Macarons which are a blend of basic ingredients – egg whites, sugar and almond flour have lended their original recipe in the making of the South Indian Delicacy, with the inclusion of the local cashewnut from down south tamilnadu, instead of almond flour.
  3. Macaroons, as mentioned as a generic phrase to the egg white-sugar confections, have given the name to our beloved macaroon biscuits.

 

Visit to Thoothukudi

During our recent trip to Thoothukudi, I had the opportunity to visit one of the popular bakeries of the city, Ganesh Bakery to see the making of the Elite Macaroons.

 

 

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With new and innovative equipment available, making of Macaroons has become easier in a larger scale. But still, the bakers prefer the old fashioned fire wood ovens for its authentic taste.
Making of Macaroons

The Bakery made Macaroon Recipe is for bulk consumption and hence wouldn’t suit a home baker. As for me, I haven’t tried my hands after my first flop.

I found a good and seemingly perfect recipe in http://www.youtoocancook.net/2013/03/thoothukudi-macaroons-south-indian.html, where the pictures show a successful recipe.  This recipe is borrowed from the above mentioned blog.
Ingredients (makes 20)

  • egg whites – 2 no.s (at room temperature)
  • sugar – 120 gms powdered
  • cashewnut powder – 100 gms coarsely powdered

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Follow the below described picture wise procedure in making the batter.
  2. Preheat oven at 150 degrees C
  3. Bake the macaroons in 100 degrees C for 10 minutes.

 

This is a step-by-step procedure that the bakery personnel, led by their supervisory head showed us –

 

  1. First step – Beating egg whites

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beaten well

 

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to stiff peaks..

 

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2. Sugar is mixed –

 

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the egg white – sugar batter is still foamy-

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3.  Then the quintessential cashew nut powder is added. No beater here and notice the color change of batter from white to ivory.

 

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4. Batter is ready and is stuffed into piping cones-

 

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5. These are the strong hands that make the beautiful conical delicacy..

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with great speed…

 

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and greater accuracy and consistency….

 

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6. Macaroons are ready to be baked…
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7. Finally baked right to be tasted.

 

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The Colonial Remainder in Thotthukudi Macaroon Biscuit is a true delight for the sweet toothed. The beauty of the elegantly shaped Macaroon could easily be one of its kind in the Indian Baker’s Wish List. Not known to many in many other parts of the country, the legacy of the exclusive biscuits is carried forward only through its true connoisseurs. The original recipe still remains unchanged not only due to these connoisseurs but also due to those ignorant citizens who haven’t laid their hands in altering the taste.

I wouldn’t want my Thoothukudi Macaroons to have a twist of taste like the French Macarons, with added fillings and flavors. In this case, truly Ignorance is Bliss!

Thengai Burfi/Coconut Burfi

With Diwali around the corner, it is certainly time for some sweets and snacks suitable for the festive occasion.
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Thengai Burfi is one my childhood favorites. Coconut based burfi or urundai/laddu can be made in different styles – with milk and sugar, with sugary condensed milk, with milk powder and sugar, with sugar syrup without milk… thengai burfi (square shaped sweet) or thengai urundai (coconut balls) is something the tongue and teeth wouldn’t forget for long – Tongue for the taste of it and Teeth for the extras that always cling on to it. The Chewy, Juicy, Sugary, Coconut Milky flavor of the sweet takes me to a special day called MISSION SUNDAY.
My early years of schooling in an Anglo Indian School introduced me to a bit of Christianity and to the Sisters of the Missionaries. MISSION SUNDAY used to be a fun filled day of events, something equivalent to Carnivals in European Schools. A day of food, games and fun activities – all done by combined efforts of Teachers, Parents and Children. Nothing to do with religion, it was a Sunday devoted to opening stalls, selling your home products- especially food cooked by mothers/grandmothers, earn money and donate it to school. I remember Amma used to make Thengai Burfi in different colors – Pink,, Red and Yellow and Amma and me used to be a team selling thengai burfi. As Stallmates, we used to earn a bit… that was a very happy feeling of being a junior entrepreneur at an early age. So that’s the juicy story of Thengai Burfi.
My cousin ‘S’ would remember more as we went to the same school and what more we did in our stall together for Mission Sunday is something to discuss about. My memories are somehow stuck up with Coconut Burfi.
This version of Thengai Burfi is with the basic ingredients – coconut and sugar. There is no milk and no food color in the recipe. As I had saffron, I chose to bring in the exotic flavor of saffron and its beautiful mild yellow color to the burfi. Also added is cardamom to complete the combined flavor of the sweet.
Thengai Burfi/Coconut Burfi

 

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Ingredients (makes 20-24 pieces)

  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 2 cups
  • sarkkarai/sugar – 1 1/2 cups
  • water – enough to soak sugar – appr. 1/2 cup
  • elakkai/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • kungumapoo/saffron – a few strings
  • nei/clarified butter – to grease the tray

 

grated coconut and cardamom

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saffron and sugar-water

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Method of Preparation

  1. Grate coconut, without the brown layer close to the shell. We need the white meat alone
  2. Grease a tray with enough nei/clarified butter
  3. Place pan (preferably non-stick) on stove and heat sugar and water with saffron strands and cardamom powder
  4. When water comes to a boil add grated coconut and stir well
  5. Keep stirring till the mixture starts to thicken and foams up in the pan. It would not take much time
  6. The sweet is almost ready and once it starts to leave the pan, spread in the already greased tray/bowl
  7. When it is a little warm, mark the spread sweet into desired shapes and remove only when completely cool
  8. Juicy Coconut Burfi is ready.

 

 

Notes:

  1. Grating only the white meat of coconut is important for the beautiful white colour. A substitute option to easy traditional grating is to take coconut completely out of the shell, remove the brown outer layer and then cut into small pieces. Then, grate in a mixer-grinder. (see picture above)
  2. Saffron is optional. The aroma and subtle yellow color are the true benefits of saffron. Those who prefer the original white color of coconut shall avoid saffron.
  3. Sugar can be altered as per taste preference. More the sugar, finer the structure of pieces. I have stuck to medium sugar.

Rectifying problems in consistency:

  •  if you find the consistency of burfi too thin and hence not ready to form stiff pieces, keep the mixture back in pan and stir for some more time
  •  if the mixture seems too thick to spread or turns into granules, put it back in the pan, add little water and stir till it softens and remove at the right consistency

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Kezhvaragu Kambu Urundai/Ragi-Bajra Laddu/Nutty Millet Sweet Balls

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As children come back from school, the first thing to strike them is HUNGER. While some may have a whole meal, some prefer snacking. When we went to school decades ago (has it been so long??),   school was done by 4.15 and we came back between 4.30 and 5.00, ready to run for other activities.

Then it wasn’t the muffins, fluffy cakes or croissants or the tetra pack juices and ready-made flavored milk that filled our tummies. We never knew white flour/maida based empty calorie – so-called goodies… What an inspiring name for unworthy junk food..(sigh).

Orthodox middle class didn’t know beyond bread and jam, which was white, soft and sugary. It was never a staple then, not even a meal. Bread was initially a sick man’s food – a substitute to kanji which is porridge. The light Kanji, which is still a breakfast delicacy in many countries in south-east Asia is definitely a healthier option. But soft bread soaked in milk  offered a delightful change to the fever-stricken patient. Hence, the concept of brown bread, 100% atta bread and rye bread were all beyond comprehension. Good for us!

Coming to after-school snacking, different kinds of home-made urundais(sweet balls) and murukkus and other rice-lentil-millet based snacks were given as hunger busters. The beautifully shaped balls and the varied shaped fries offered distinct flavours with different ingredients each time. With the aesthetics and handwork incorporated into these true goodies, they can certainly be compared to an artisan’s handcrafted product.

Those gentle hands that caressed the young ones with warmth were strong enough to create these healthy snacks not only with pure love but with pure nei/ghee/clarified butter too!

 

kezhvaragu/finger millet


So, in honour of mothers and grandmothers who did their homework well to keep us healthy, fit and immune,  this post is a millet based urundai/sweet ball. Since I had finger millet  (ragi) and pearl millet (bajra) powders, I made the urundai with the both combined with roasted Bengal gram.

While winter is on the way, I also added nuts to it. Summer or Winter, Nuts definitely contribute to the higher nutrient value of the Urundais. Roasted bengal gram and roasted nuts are powdered here and they also help in better binding of the sweet balls with clarified butter (nei).

 

kambu/pearl millet


For nutritional facts of Kezhvaragu/Finger Millet please refer Kezhvaragu Dosai/Finger Millet Pancakes

For nutritional facts of Kambu/Pearl Millet please refer Kambu Dosai/Pearl Millet Pancakes
Kezhvaragu Kambu Nei Urundai/Nutty Finger Millet and Pearl Millet Sweet Balls

 

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Ingredients (makes appr. 25)

nuts and sugar-

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roasted gram and millet flours-

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  • kezhvaragu/finger millet/ragi powder – 1 cup
  • kambu/pearl millet/bajra powder – 1 cup
  • pottukadalai/roasted bengal gram/chutney dal – 1/2 cup powdered
  • assorted nuts – almonds, pistachios, walnuts and cashew nut – 1/2 cup – roasted and powdered
  • sarkkarai/sugar powder – 2 cups
  • elakkai/cardamom/elaichi –  cloves
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 1/2 tsp
  • nei/ghee – 1 cup melted appr.

Method of Preparation

 

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  1. Dry roast finger millet and pearl millet powders together in a pan
  2. Dry roast the assorted nuts and powder them in a blender
  3. Powder the Roasted Bengal Gram with elaichi
  4. Mix the roasted millet powders, powdered roasted bengal gram, powdered nuts, powdered sugar and dry ginger powder in a big bowl
  5. Heat the nei/clarified butter in a separate pan
  6. Pour a teaspoon of nei into the combined flour. If the ghee forms bubbles its hot enough to make balls
  7. When the clarified butter is hot enough pour into the flour and mix well with a spatula
  8. Start making medium-sized balls
  9. Once done, let them cool and store in an air-tight container.

Notes:

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  1. Millet powders are readily available in super markets across India.
  2. Powdered nuts are optional.
  3. Another option is to coarsely grind the nuts fora crunchy taste in the Urundais/sweet balls.
  4. Since I had powdered palm sugar, I used it. If one has unrefined cane sugar or very pure jaggery powder without mud, these can be used too.  Easily available white sugar can be powdered and used.

Pathirpeni/Sugary Snow White Crisps

 

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Pathirpeni is a very special sweet to me and to my brother! It was and is still a speciality signature sweet of Aachi  my paternal grandmother. I do not remember having pathirpeni in any other house in the big clan that we belong to. The sole supplier to all near and dear ones was Aachi – helped meticulously by Amma – my mother.

I had my miniature ‘Puri kattai’ or the spherical puri maker in wood to specially make pathirpeni and also puris. This was handed over to my daughter who used to help me make rotis, but feels she is a grown up and uses my bigger puri kattai. She painted my dear little puri kattai though the newer roller is intact.

 

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Pathirpeni is for those with that extra sweet tooth – which might be god sent genetically or amma fed affectionately… We siblings have both – hence not one but two extras to successfully acquire that ‘happier the healthier’ plump look!

These are deep-fried crisps dipped/rubbed immediately in powdered sugar to get the snowy white finish. It is a simple sweet with minimal ingredients but one should be ready for some interesting variety of work. The sugar that melts in the mouth first is followed by the crispy crunch of the deep-fried discs.

These also involve an efficient team work. Since the count was always in hundreds, amma or aachi would knead the dough; they would take turns in pressing the spheres and frying in oil – the last quintessential part of rubbing the powdered sugar would be ours – mine and my brother… I think I did the rubbing and he contributed more into something which can also be decently termed as tasting!

So I did the rolling and frying and my 6-year-old did the sugar-coating! She wanted to make her own pathirpeni and then I was a proud mother!!

 

she started off like this….

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and then graduated with flying colours!! – special seven that the little hands made!

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These can be stored in air tight containers after cooled for a week – that’s not a concern as its life ends too quickly! Yet the tastiest crisps are those which directly come out of the oil and are delicately transferred for one’s taste buds to relish, sprinkled/rubbed very quickly with powdered sugar.

One cup of flour (about 150 gms), would yield 20-25 crisps. After a no maida/all-purpose flour and no white sugar life for many years now, this one has been an exception. Might be I try next time with whole wheat flour and brown sugar – but have to sacrifice on the colour as wheat flour would result in brown crisps and then we might call it brownie crisps!

Now to the recipe –
Pathirpeni/Sugary Snow White Crisps

 

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Ingredients (makes 30-35)

 

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  • maida maavu/all-purpose flour – 1 1/4 cup (200 gms)
  • cheeni/sugar – 1 1/4 cup (200 gms)
  • thanneer/water – as needed
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • nei/clarified butter – 1 tsp
  • arisi maavu/rice powder – 1 tsp
  • yennai/oil – for deep frying

Method of Preparation
1. Sieve all-purpose flour, add a pinch of salt and mix enough water to make a tight dough

 

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2. Finely powder the sugar and keep in a wide bowl or plate; the deep fried crisps would directly land inside this bowl to have a sugar bath
3. Heat oil in a pan, keep in sim position
4. In a small bowl, mix clarified butter and rice powder
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5. Make three even balls of the dough

 

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6. Spread into flat breads – chappatis/indian roti size – not too thin, not too thick

 

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7. Do not place rotis one on top of the other before spreading the mixture as they would stick to each other and one would have to make the three flat breads again. Make one and place on a plate; spread the butter rice powder mixture, make the second one and place on top of the first; spread the mixture and make the third; now place the third on top of the second. It had become messy as I had placed before spreading – I had to do it all over again. So be cautious on this

 

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8. Roll this triple layered roti . Now it is time to pull the rolled roti as long as possible without spoiling or breaking the texture

 

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pulled long

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9. Then cut into very small bits, size enough to make small circular crisps

these are little big, i had to make them smaller

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10. Roll into thin crisps – while rolling, see the side which was cut by knife – make thin puris/crisps pressing the knife cut edge into a circle. This helps the butter mixture to stay intact. Otherwise it would ooze out from the puris.

 

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11. When the oil is ready, roll one by one and fry till crisp. We do not want a fluffy soft puri – make really thin and flat ones that come out crisp
12. Immediately drop it inside the sugar bed and apply well; the powdered sugar must have coated evenly

 

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13. Tap the crisps slightly to reduce the excess sugar
14. Taste one to enjoy the true taste of pathirpeni – this is the most important step in my opinion; having identified the flaws (making thinner or thicker; right shape; less sugar coating; more sugar coating and so on), proceed with the next
15. Make all the crisps and let them cool
16. Store in an air tight container and enjoy.
17. Do not hesitate to help yourself with more – you won’t get those hot crisps after they are cooled – cannot be microwaved or reheated by any means!
Note:

  1. This is a simple one – yet, some caution on important steps would make it easier
  2. Try one and feel the crispness of it and accordingly try to make corrections on the thinness and crispness of the pathirpeni
  3. Each time, tap a little to take away the sugar if one doesn’t prefer so much sugar
  4. Adding cardamom powder to the powdered sugar might add some aroma and flavor though it is not added normally.

 

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