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Eggless Snowmen Butter Cookies


December being the festive month, Priya of Cook Like Priya has suggested wonderful Christmas bakes from around the world for this month's Home Bakers Challenge, a baking group started by Priya of Priya's Versatile Recipes. She suggested an array of cookies, cakes and breads to choose from. I chose to make these cute snowmen cookies.

These melt in mouth snow man cookies are perfect for the season. The dough is quite easy to make, but making the snowmen shape needs lots of patience! My cookies have not come out perfect due to my impatience but loved the taste of these buttery cookies.

EGGLESS SNOWMEN BUTTER COOKIES RECIPE

Recipe Source ~ Taste of Home
Yields 12

Snowmen shaped eggless butter cookies


Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 tsp water
¼ tsp almond extract
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
Red and green food coloring liquid or paste
Black and red jimmies or sprinkles

Method: 

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in water and almond extract.

2. Gradually beat in flour and mix well. Place 1/3 cup each in two small bowls. Add red food coloring to one and green to the other and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.

4. Shape remaining dough into twelve 1-inch balls and twelve 1 ½-inch balls. Place one smaller ball above one larger ball on baking sheets or tray and flatten slightly.

5. For each snowman, shape 2 teaspoons of colored dough into a hat and place above head.

6. For scarf, shape 1/4 teaspoon of each color into a 3-inch rope and twist ropes together, leaving one end untwisted. Place scarf around snowman's neck.

7. Insert jimmies for eyes and nose. Bake at 180 C / 350 F for 15-18 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack.



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Moong Dal Sheera | Moong Dal Halwa


For this month's IFC, we are exploring Rajasthani cuisine and Manjula of Desi Fiesta, our host, has presented with a thali platter, kachori platter and a halwa platter. I chose to make a kachori and halwa from her delicious spread. I have already posted the Onion Kachori for the challenge and here comes my second one, moong dal sheera.

Moong dal sheera is a classic delicacy of Rajasthan, made with split yellow lentils. This halwa is usually relished during winter months, as it keeps the body warm and protects from the winter cold. You can make this halwa for festivals like Holi and Diwali too. Let's see how to make this delicious and rich halwa.


MOONG DAL SHEERA / HALWA RECIPE


A Rajasthani dessert made with split yellow lentils, ghee, khoya and nuts


Ingredients:

¼ cup moong dal / split yellow lentil
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp warm milk (optional)
3 tbsp khoya / mawa
½ cup sugar
Few chopped nuts, for garnish (cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios)

Method:

1. Wash the moong dal and soak it in water for 2-3 hours. Drain and grind them smoothly without adding water.

2. Heat oil in a pan/kadai. Add the ground mong dal paste and roast it over low flame until it turns light brown and gives a nice aroma.

3. Turn the heat to medium and add the sugar and keep stirring till sugar melts. Add the milk if adding and cook till halwa starts leaving sides of the pan.

4. Now add khoya and mix till they are combined well. Garnish with chopped nuts and serve warm.


My Notes:

1. The halwa stays good for 2-3 days when refrigerated. Reheat the halwa for 30 seconds in a microwave before serving.

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Pyaaz Ki Kachori | Onion Kachori


Indian food encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. This month International Food Challenge is exploring Rajasathani cuisine. The style of cooking in this arid region is influenced by the availability of ingredients and food that could last for several days. Because water is at a premium, food is generally cooked in milk or ghee, making it quite rich. Manjula of Desi Fiesta, host for this month, has shared some wonderful recipes from the Marwari region of Rajasthan.

Out of the different food platters, I chose to make a kachori and halwa. Pyaaz ki kachori is a famous Rajasthani kachori, probably originated in Jodhpur. Steaming hot onion kachori are very popular in 'namkeen' shops in Rajasthan. The lightly caramelized onion with Indian spices bring the taste of kachori to another level. Usually kachoris are served with coriander-mint chutney and dates-tamarind chutney. I enjoyed these delicious kachoris with green chutney.


ONION KACHORI / PYAAZ KI KACHORI RECIPE

Yields 10-12 kachori

Deep fried flour pastries stuffed with caramelized onion and Indian spices


Ingredients:

For the dough:
2 cup plain flour / maida
3 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

For the filling:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds / jeera
½ tsp fennel seeds / saunf / sombu
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp red chilly powder
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

Oil to deep fry

Method:

To make the dough:

1. Combine maida, oil and salt in a bowl. Add enough water and knead to a semi-soft dough.

2. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes to a smooth and pliable dough.

3. Keep covered with a wet muslin cloth for 15-20 minutes.

To make the filling:

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin and fennel seeds. When it splutters, add onion. Fry till it becomes soft and translucent.

2. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilly powder, salt and mix well. Saute for 1-2 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and add coriander leaves. Allow to cool completely.

To make the kachori:

1. Divide the dough into equal portions. Take one portion and roll out into a small circle.

2. Place 2 tsp of the filling in the middle. Bring the edges together and seal the filling. Pinch off the excess dough.

3. Gently roll them out into a circle ensuring that filling does not spill out. You can also gently flatten with hands.

4. Prepare the remaining kachoris in the same way and keep it covered. Meanwhile heat oil for deep frying. Oil should be not be too hot, just medium hot.

5. Deep fry the kachoris over a low flame for about 10-15 minutes or until it turns golden brown on both sides. Store in an air tight container.


My Notes:

1. Keep the dough covered to avoid drying out.

2. Once the oil is hot, keep the flame low always. Cooking in low flame ensures kachoris are well cooked inside too.

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Sundakkai Vatha Kuzhambu


Vatha Kuzhambu is a traditional and common dish made in Brahmin households. Usually it is made with any of the dried vathals like manathakkali (black nightshade) or sundakkai (dried turkey berry). When vathal is not available shallots, drumstick, white pumpkin are used to make this tangy and spicy kuzhambu. Vatha kuzhambu is served with steamed white rice, paruppu thogayal and appalam. It also goes well with curd rice, dosa and idli. Arachuvitta vatha kuzhambu is another way this kuzhambu is prepared using freshly grounded spices.

Sundakkai / turkey berry is known for its medicinal benefits such as relief from cold, stomach problems and skin ailments. Check out this pulikuthi poduthul recipe which uses fresh turkey berry / sundakkai. This kuzhambu is spicy, tangy and slightly bitter and addition of jaggery balances these flavors. I love to have this kuzhambu hot with some plain white rice, paruppu thogayal, potato podimas and appalam - makes a complete and satisfying meal.


SUNDAKKAI VATHA KUZHAMBU RECIPE

Serves 2

Fried sundakkai vathal / dry turkey berry in a spicy tamarind gravy


Ingredients:

¼ cup sundakkai vathal / dried turkey berry
1 tsp ghee
1 tbsp tamarind paste / gooseberry sized tamarind
3 tsp sambar powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp jaggery
Few curry leaves
2 tbsp gingelly oil
Salt to taste

For tempering:
1 tsp mustard seeds
2-3 dried red chillies, broken
½ tsp split urad dal
1 tsp chana dal / kadala paruppu
¼ tsp methi seeds / vendayam
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing / kaayam
Few curry leaves

Method:

1. Soak tamarind in 2 cups warm water. Extract the pulp and set aside.

2. Heat ghee in a small pan and add the sundakkai vathal. Fry till it turns golden. Set aside.

3. Heat gingelly oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add red chillies, urad dal, chana dal, methi seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry till dal turns golden.

4. Reduce the heat to low and add sambar powder, red chilly powder and turmeric powder. Saute for few seconds.

5. Add the tamarind extract, salt and bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium and boil till it starts to thicken and oil separates, for about 8-10 minutes.

6. Add the fried sundakkai vathal, jaggery, curry leaves and boil for another 4-5 minutes.


My Notes:

1. Adjust the amount of chilly powder according to your spice level.

2. You can also fry the sundakkai vathal in oil instead of ghee.

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