Sunday, 27 September 2015

Talniche modak : Anant Chaturdashi special

In my last post of Hartalika which i posted a day prior to the start of Ganesh festival, i had mentioned that i will make modaks and write a post the next day. Unfortunately, am writing this post on the last day of the festival, since last few days were very busy. For those who know my profession, i was surrounded with 3 mischievous babies past 10 days, and there was just no time to edit pictures or write a post :) But modaks are so delish that one can eat it anytime, right? We don't really need a festival for that!!!

Anant Chaturdashi is the 10th or last day of Ganesh Utsav. On this day, Ganesha is given grand farewell and the idols that were placed in homes or colonies for the festival are immersed in a nearby waterbody. Since a lot of the idols were made of POP (plaster of paris) earlier, immersing them in water bodies would only pollute it and the next day we could see broken idols floating on top or on the banks of sea or river. This was really saddening, and though the practise continues at a lot of places, there are people who for eco-friendly Ganeshas and also immerse the idols in man-made temporary water bodies. Well, Ananta in Sanskrit means eternal (The immortal Lord Vishnu) and chaturdashi is 14th day of the bright fortnight. 

Although Ganesh festival is celebrated across India, mostly in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, most of the other states also worship Lord Vishnu on this day. There is a very interesting mythological story about this day. Sumant was a Brahmin and had a daughter Sushila with wife Diksha. When Diksha died, Sumant remarried but the stepmother would torture little Sushila. So, when she grew of age, she eloped in the forests with a young man named Kaundinya. One day, when Kaundinya went for a bath in the river, Sushila met some women on the way worshipping Lord Ananta and got to know about the pooja and 14-year vow. It is said that if one fasts and does pooja on this day for 14 years in a row, one is blessed with Lord Vishnu's blessings to regain lost wealth or well being for family. Sushila took the oath, tied the sacred vow-thread to her hand and followed all the tradition religiously. Indeed they became rich and successful. 

One day when Kaundinya got to know about the vow, he got angry as he believed he is self-made man and his riches are not due to any vow. He throwed away Sushila's vow-thread in fire and soon after, they became poor. Kaundinya understood the power of the Ananta and took the 14 year vow restoring his belief and regaining his lost wealth. 

Well, such stories are always interesting to hear, ain't they? Coming back to the modak post, there are two types of modaks popularly made : One is Ukadiche (the white steamed ones with rice flour) and one is Talniche (deep fried ones). On my paternal side, and my in-laws side, they make Talniche modak as prashad for Ganesha. On my maternal side, though, the Ukdiche modaks are made. Here, i am posting the deep fried ones (yes, they are easy as compared to the others), and hubby's favourite! :)

It is a tradition that always with modaks, one karanji is made or vice versa. Modak represents male and karanji is female, so to signify it is "shubh" (auspicious) that the male and female stay together :) Just as we make one Kadbola with Chakli or one puri with shankarpale :)

Preparation time : 25-30 minutes
Cooking time : 30 minutes 
Serves : 2-3 people
Recipe type: Sweets and dessert


For dough : 
Maida/All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Atta/ wheat flour - 1/2 cup

(You can also make the dough with only wheat flour or only all purpose flour)

Salt - a pinch
Ghee/oil - 2 tbsp

For filling :
Grated fresh coconut - 1 cup
Grated jaggery/ sugar - 1/3-1/2 cup 
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp

If you are adding sugar, you can also add 2 tbsp khoya or fresh cream (optional).
Addition of nuts is optional and as per choice too

Oil - for frying the modaks


Mix the wheat flour and all purpose flour and add in salt. 

Heat the 2 tbsp ghee/oil (make it real hot - this is what we call 'Mohan'). Add this to the flour mixture, and mix it with a spoon. Remember it's hot, so don't use hands.

Now add water little by little and knead it into a nice smooth soft dough. Cover the dough and keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, lets make the filling:

Take 1 tbsp ghee in a kadhai.

Add the coconut and saute for a minute, stir continuously to prevent sticking/browning.

Now add the sugar or jaggery. It will melt and become liquid. Let it cook till all the liquid is absorbed and a nice aroma comes.

Now mix in the cardamom powder and nuts. You can also add a pinch of jaiphal (nutmeg) powder for taste.

Switch off the stove and let this filling cool down.

To make modaks:

Knead the dough again for a while, and divide it in equal sized balls. (This proportion makes 12 - 11 modaks and 1 karanji).

Now roll these balls in small sized puris. Roll them as thin as possible, especially the sides of the puri. You can dust some flour to roll the puris, but i didn't need it. The mohan made the dough so soft, that the puris rolled very well by itself.

Now, take the puri in your palm and add a spoonful of the filling in the centre.

Now pinch the edges of the puri one by one and then bring all the pinched ends together in the centre. Seal it well.

Repeat the procedure for other modaks. For karanji, roll a puri and fill the filling in the centre. Now life one side of the puri and roll it on to the other side and seal it with your fingertips. (I think the next time i make modaks, i have to click pictures of the procedure too).

Now heat oil for frying in a kadhai and gently fry modaks one by one till golden brown on all sides. Remove on a tissue paper and let it cool.

It is said, that one should not taste the filling or modak before giving it as "Prashad" to the God. So, do your pooja and then pop them in your mouth :) It will be full of goodness :)

Happy Anant Chaturdashi to all of you :)

Happy Cooking :)

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Happy Hartalika: Celebrating female friendships!!

I love this part of the year... there are so many festivities and celebrations one after another, that it truly brings out the joy of life. Smiles, food, laughter, shopping, meeting families and friends and the age-old traditions that are followed along with it. One such interesting mythological story is that of Hartalika. Hartalika is observed one day before the Ganesh Chaturthi. (Bhadrapadh Shudh Tritiya)

On this day, girls and women pray to Goddess Parvati. Unmarried girls do pooja to get that prince charming they have always been dreaming about and married women pray to get the same husband in all the lives, also for happy successful married life. It is a belief that once you take the oath of Lord Shiva, you shouldn't break it, hence women continue to do this pooja each year till they are alive.

Parvati was the daughter of Himvan (the king of Himalayas). "Parvat" means Mountain, hence being the daughter of the king of mountains, she was named Parvati. It is said, when Parvati grew of age, Narad Muni brought in the message of Lord Vishnu to marry her. Himvan was very happy to hear this, but Parvati had secretly loved Lord Shiva. Hence, without telling her parents, she ran off with her female friend into the forests. Harit ( = Haran =abduction) and Alika ( = alichya = friend). Hence the name, Hartalika.

On the banks of the river, Parvati made a "Shivling" of sand and started meditating and praying to Lord Shiva. Initially, she ate raw leaves, but later on even left that. This we call as "Upvas" meaning fast. Seeing this, Lord Shiva was pleased and agreed to marry Parvati as per her wish. 

Seeing his daughter's willpower and faith, even Himvan agreed to get Parvati married to Lord Shiva. So, since all this was achieved by the help of Parvati's female friend, girls and women(known as suvasini's) fast all day long on this day and then do pooja together of idols of Shiva and Parvati made of sand. The fast is then broken the next day as the Suvasini's stay awake all night long playing games such as Jhimma, Phugdi, Tiprya etc.

This day also celebrates the friendship among female friends. Having a friend to tell your secrets to, and one whom you can count on in moments of need is a part of life. So lets say cheers to all our women friends as they are our true support and let us decide on this day, to cherish the relationship for lifetime. 

Unfortunately i don't have any recipe of Modak on my blog yet, so i am going to make some tomorrow for Ganesh Chaturthi and post one. Meanwhile, if you don't want to go traditional and enjoy some other lip-smacking sweets, here are some ideas :

1. Gulkand Chocolates :

2. Coconut ladoos :

3. Pajama "Pop in the mouth" Ladoos :

4. Naaralachya Vadya :

Happy cooking and wish you all a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi :) Let us all say, "Ganpati Bappa Morya" :)

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Cheese Butter Masala

Hello all you lovely people! Hope you are having a fabulous weekend :) Today i am posting the recipe of Cheese butter masala which i made couple of days back. I had not heard this recipe ever, until my husband asked me to make it. He remembered eating it in his early childhood in some restaurant at his native place - Akola. Sometimes, i really feel lucky to have a foodie husband - a lot i have learnt in life about food is because of him, and so i owe the blog to him in some way :)

On finding out more, i learnt that this is a typical north Indian recipe, just as paneer butter masala. The only difference here is paneer is substituted with cheese. When i made this recipe, i simply loved it and in just a month, i have made it twice :) Yes, cheese and me sort of have a close bonding, can't keep away from it for long, hehe.

Both the times that i tried the recipe, i made it in a different way. The first time, i did add onions and the second time i didn't. Once i made it with cashew paste, and the other time i skipped that and added cream. Also, the first time i didn't boil tomatoes before making a puree while the other time i did. So there are whole lot of variations you can make with this simple dish, just to enhance or suit the flavours and taste according to personal preferences. Here i will post the one with onions.

As the name suggests, it does call for a generous amount of butter, so don't compromise on that. Also, in restaurants, food colour is added to get a nice colour. Here i have chosen red ripe tomatoes instead. You can also skip adding kasuri methi and add corriander leaves in the end while garnishing.

The recipe gets ready within minutes and tastes delicious on it's own. So just serve some parathas or naan or plain roti by the side along with some salad, and you save yourself a lot of time standing in the kitchen!

Preparation time :10 minutes
Cooking time : 30-35 minutes
Serves - 2-3 people
Recipe type : Main course (vegetarian)


Tomatoes - 4 medium
Onion - 1 medium
Cheese cubes - 4 (I used Amul cheese cubes)
Butter - 4 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Kasuri methi - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Ginger-garlic-green chilli paste - 1 tbsp (I crushed 1/2 inch ginger, 3-4 garlic and 1 green chilli in a mortar and pestle)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 th tsp + 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp
Corriander powder - 1 tsp +1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam masala - 1/4 - 1/2 tsp
Cream and corriander leaves to garnish (optional)
Sugar - 1 tsp (optional)


Chop the onions. Make 4 square pieces of each cheese cubes (You can even cut them into half)

Wash the tomatoes, chop and make a puree of it in grinder. If adding cashews, add soaked cashews to the tomatoes while making puree.

Now, heat 1 tbsp butter in a kadhai and add this tomato puree. Saute well and add salt and 1/4 tsp each of turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and corriander powder. Saute for about 10 minutes till the puree starts leaving oil. Add water little by little if the puree sticks to the kadhai and gets dry.

You can entirely skip this step and add the puree later on. This just enhances the flavour as the masalas get mixed well with the puree.

Heat 3 tbsp butter in a kadhai. Add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add onions. When onions become translucent, add the ginger-green chilli-garlic paste and saute for about 1/2 a minute till the raw smell goes away.

Now add the tomato puree (either sauteed with masalas or without). Now add the spices ( red chilli powder, turmeric powder, corriander powder and salt) and mix well till the masala starts leaving the sides of the kadhai.

Add about 3/4-1 cup water and sugar and let it come to a boil on low flame. Now add the cheese cubes. Add kasuri methi and garam masala. Mix it all well.

Don't cook for long after adding cheese cubes.

You can even add some cream for garnish on top.

Cheese butter masala is ready :)

Happy Cooking!!! :)

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Photo Blog : Part 2 of Rejoicing Life at The Retreat, Bhimtal

As mentioned in my previous post of our "Travelling in Pajamas" adventures at The Retreat, Bhimtal, here i am posting some photographs showing the scenic beauty of Paddy's garden and surrounding areas. Hope you all enjoy the pictures.

In joy or sadness, Flowers are our constant friends :)
Each flower is a soul blossoming out to nature - Gerard De Nerval
A flower blossoms for it's own joy - Oscar Wilde
Every flower must grow through dirt
Flowers are like friends - they bring colour to your world
Where flowers bloom, so does hope - Lady Bird Johnson
Flowers are our greatest silent friends
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all
The Earth laughs in flowers
A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms
Bloom and glow in the thickest of mud
Happiness is seeing little things in nature
If you love nature, you will find beauty everywhere
We never notice the beauty because we are too busy trying to create it
Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time, like dew on the tip of a leaf - Rabindranath Tagore

Vitality and Beauty are gifts of Nature for those who live according to its laws - Leonardo Da Vinci
All nature seems to bespeak the works of God

Magic happens in Nature each day
When the flowers bloom, the bee comes uninvited - Ramakrishna
Stay close to nature, it will never fail you - Frank Wright
Believe in tomorrow
If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden

Some fur-riends:
Such a beauty
Yes, that's the guy with one awesome name- Seeker :)
Someone's too happy doing a round-table conference alone... haha
She stole our hearts from the moment we saw her :)

The picturesque views:

Green as far as your eyes can see ..Bliss

A walk in the clouds for us :)
A Village home turned modern with Dish tv :)
A boy and his dog - it was lovely to see their friendship :)
The "click-ers" :

The happy team:

Happy Travelling :)