BAKLAVA



BAKLAVA.................is a middle eastern sweet pastry filled with nuts. It is made using layers of phyllo pastry sheets and holds together with a sugar syrup!!

I sat googling one morning as usual (deciding what to whip up) when I came across these beauties.........................These are difficult I thought..............................but I love challenges when it comes to the kitchen. Borrowed a beautiful middle eastern recipe book from my beautiful friend miss D. Looked up at loads of recipes online too. After a complete research and watching loads of videos of the entire
baklava making process, I felt more confident to go about making these decadent dessert bars!


My first batch of sugar syrup was a disaster!....................................I cooked it for too long. It became way tooo thick and brown.................................. so set about making another batch........................................perfect! The aroma of rose..................mmmmm............................delicious!!!!!

The nut filling was so lovely! Im a big fan of pistachios and cashewnuts.....but you can choose walnuts or almonds too!



The layering wasn't as hard as I thought. Its the first time Im handling phyllo pastry sheets..... They were perfectly defrosted and so easy to use. It was just time consuming though....but was faster once I got the hang of it.......

You should have seen my excitement when I heard the sizzling sound when I poured the sugar syrup over the piping hot baklavas! :D

Couldn't wait for the baklavas to cool down to pop it into my mouth......... first bite.........went to heaven!! Completely worth the hard work.............it was perfect in every way.........................with just the right amount of sweetness!............
Will I go through the whole process and make it again??????????????/OHHHHHHHH YES I WILL!!! :)




INGREDIENTS:
Phyllo/ fillo pastry sheets - 30 (18 sheets for the base and 12 sheets above)
unsalted butter - 3/4 cup

for the sugar syrup:
sugar - 1.5 cups
water - 3/4 cup
lime juice - 1 tsp
rose water - 2 tsps

for the nut filling:
pistachios, coarsely pulsed - 370 grams (I used 250 grams of pistachios and the rest cashew nuts)(reserve 2tbsps finely ground for garnishing which is optional. )
sugar syrup - 4 tbsps
rose water - 1 tbsp


PROCESS:

  • Defrost your phyllo/ fillo pastry in the refrigerator the night before.
  • Melt the butter and keep ready.
  • First prepare the sugar syrup. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Then simmer on low heat ,stirring continuously till the sugar dissolves completely.
  • Once the sugar dissolves completely add the lime juice and rosewater and continue  to simmer for about 10 minutes (still stirring) till the consistency becomes syrupy and it coats the back of a spoon. Once its done. set aside and let it cool. Once it has cooled down you can place it in the fridge.( you can even make sugar syrup a a day earlier.)
  • Coarsely pulse the nuts in your food processor. Mix in the rosewater and the sugar syrup. Keep aside.
  • Remove the phyllo pastry from the box lay it out neatly. cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying out while you're working. (At this point, since the sheets were neatly stacked, I measured 9 by 13 inches and cut the sheets together to fit the baking tray,so that it will be easier for me to layer it.0
  • Preheat the oven and line a 9 by 13 inch baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Brush the top of the parchment paper with the butter. Then place your first sheet of pastry on top. Ease the phyllo sheet carefully and neatly into the corners of the tray and flatten it out. (USE BUTTER SPARINGLY FOR THE FIRST 18 LAYERS or else the base of the baklava base will become soggy)
  • Brush the top of the sheet again with butter and place another phyllo sheet on top. Repeat the buttering and layering of the pastry sheets till 18 sheets. Brush again with butter and spoon in the nut filling evenly on top of the 18th sheet. 
  • Continue layering and buttering each sheet till the top 12 sheets are done. Butter the last top as well.
  • Use a wet knife and cut the baklava as seen in the pictures.
  • Place in the oven and bake at 160 degrees for about 50 minutes to 1 hour or till the tops of the baklava are golden in colour.
  • As soon as you take the baklava out of the oven, pour the sugar syrup evenly over the baklava. It will make a lovely sizzling sound :)
  • Let it rest in the warm oven for 2 minutes for the baklava to soak up all the goodness.
  • enjoy the baklava with some mint tea... the Moroccan style!!!!!!!

notes:
  • Dont overcook the sugar syrup. Must be syrupy. when it coats the back of the spoon you have got the consistency right. stop right there!
  • make sure you cut the baklava right upto the last layer before shoving it into the oven.

THATTAI - AN INDIAN SAVORY SNACK




Im so excited to post today's recipe. The memory still fresh in my mind........................My sister and me raiding my grandma's stock of indian snacks.........................murukku, mixtures, sweets.....................and THATTAI!......We always used to buy them from 'Grand Sweets'.....which was such a tiny shop back then with only one branch in Adayar, chennai.

Thattai is a traditional south Indian snack usually made during  festivals.......or just enjoyed on an evening with coffee or tea....................A hit with  the kids! Yes!!!!!Mine couldn't even wait till I clicked some photos for the blog! :D

I was actually impressed with myself............I thought it was definitely going to be a flop on the first attempt. Surprisingly it was extremely easy and there were quite a few blogs that I checked for this recipe. So I mixed a few recipes and came out with my own measurements to suit our taste. Although I agree that I definitely need more practice with the shaping ! LOL!.........




INGREDIENTS:

Rice flour - 2 cups
Urad dal flour - 2 tbsps (see note below)
Pottu kadalai flour (roasted bengal gram) - 1 tbsp (see note below)
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder - 1.5 tsps
Channa dal - 2 tbsps
White sesame seeds - 1.5 tbsps
Butter, softened - 2 tbsps
Salt 
Curry leaves, torn into bits - 1 stem(optional)
Water - 1 cup and 2 tbsps(approx)
Oil for frying

PROCESS:
  • Soak the channa dal in some water for about 15 minutes.
  • Dry roast the rice flour for a minute or so (not changing the colour)
  • In a big bowl, sift together the rice flour, urad dal flour and the pottu kadalai flour
  • Add in the asafoetida, red chili powder, sesame seeds, salt, curry leaves,butter and drained channa dal. Mix together.
  • Add the water little by little till it comes together to form a ball of dough. 
  • Check for salt.
  • Next, divide the dough into small balls( roughly the size of a lime)
  • Next, take 2 plastic sheets or zip lock bags. grease the top of the first sheet and place a ball of dough on it. close it with the other greased plastic sheet. Now using a small plate or bowl(with a flat surface) press the ball of dough. It will flatten out. Then using your fingers even out the dough roughly in the shape of a circle, with the greased plastic still on top of the dough. Prick them with a fork in a few laces to ensure even cooking of the dough.
  •  Do the same for all the balls of dough and keep placing them on a dry cloth.
  •  Heat enough oil in a frying pan, to deep fry the dough.
  • Once the oil has become hot, slip the circles in the oil. I fried two at a time, so that I don't overcrowd the pan.
  • Once it has become slightly browned, take it out of the oil and place them on kitchen towels to drain the oil.
  • You can store them in an air tight container and enjoy them with your tea/coffee....

NOTES:
  1. To make the urad dal flour- Dry roast the urad dal for a minute or so .(not changing the colour)cool down and blend in the blender till its nicely powdered.
  2. to make the pottukadalai flour- Dry roast the pottukadalai for a minute or so. (not changing the colour) cool down and blend in the blender till its nicely powdered.

PAAL PAYASAM/ VERMICELLI MILK PUDDING



A very happy Tamil new year to all my friends who are celebrating. This post was supposed to be up yesterday...but got sliiiiightly delayed! :D

This is completely a milk based dessert....Its very famous in South India.....usually made during festivals and prayer ceremonies!
Go ahead and add some sugar or more condensed milk if you like it sweeter............you can add cashewnuts too if almonds are not your thing!

I used the local vermicelli because I wasnt able to get hold of the Indian brand. The one I used was way thicker and orange in colour :( The ones we used back in India are thin and white which looks and tastes better too.......!

Hope you all had a lovely New Year with family and friends! Lots of love!



That's my 4 year old's hand.......Every time I need to take pictures of my food she comes running to help in every way she can! she gets so excited, helping me hold the white boards or spoons or do some garnishing on top!!!.........LOL!


INGREDIENTS:
Ghee - 2 tbsps
Sago - 1/2 cup 
Almonds, skin removed and cut thinly lengthwise - 1/4 cup
Raisins - 1/4 cup
Vermicelli - scant 1 cup
Milk - 3 cups 
Condensed milk - 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Saffron - a pinch (optional)

PROCESS:
  • In a small pan add the sago and about 1.5 cups of water. Bring to boil and cook on low flame till the sago cooks. Stir continuously so it doesnt stick to the pan. When its cooked it will turn transparent. Keep aside.
  • In  a heavy bottomed vessel heat some ghee and saute the almonds. When it starts to brown slightly, add in the raisins. saute for a few seconds. The raisins will plump up .......remove from the pan and reserve for use later.
  • In the same pan now roast the vermicelli for a minute or 2. Remove from pan and reserve for use later
  • Now in the same pan add the milk, condensed milk and about 1 cup of water. Bring to boil. Add the vermicelli and let it cook. keep stirring regularly so it doesn't stick to the pan. Once the vermicelli has cooked completely add the cardamom powder and saffron.
  • Add the cooked sago. Once you arrive at the  the desired consistency switch off the flame.
  • Add the nuts and raisins.
note: The payasam will thicken when it cools. so just before serving add some milk  and heat.



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