No Fuss Crock Pot Ghee (Clarified Butter)

 

Ghee

March 31st, 2014 is celebrated as Ugadi – New Year’s Day – in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. It is also celebrated as Gudi Padwa in the northern parts of India. In Karnataka, the traditional sweet for Ugadi is Holige or Obattu –  and it tastes delicious with a big pat of ghee!

After numerous unsuccessful attempts at making ghee the traditional way – sometimes burnt and sometimes underdone – I have a fail-proof way to make this Indian kitchen staple.

Ghee

 

No Fuss Crock-pot Ghee

(About 1 1/2 cups ghee)

Super simple directions here:

1) Drop 4 sticks (1 lb) of butter in a crockpot.

2) Close lid with just enough space (enough to easily slide a dinner knife in and out – about 1/2 inch) to allow moisture to escape.

3) Turn slow cooker to LOW and cook for about 3-3 1/2 hours. (If the butter is frozen, it will take longer. I always use refrigerated butter.)No stirring required.

4) The liquid will have turned a beautiful golden hue, and scum would have floated to the top.

5) Unplug the crock-pot and allow the ghee to cool for an hour in the same insert.

6) Pour into a glass container through a fine meshed strainer or cheesecloth. Once cooled, the ghee will thicken.

7) Does not require refrigeration – Can be stored in the pantry for at least 2 months. Always make sure to use a dry spoon when using.

NOTE: I usually cook 2 lbs of butter in my 6-qt slow cooker on LOW for about 7-8 hours. I pour it into two containers, and store one in the fridge to pull out when needed.

Badam Phirni – Almond-Rice Pudding

Badam Phirni

Phirni is traditionally made with fragrant Basmati rice that has been soaked for a few hours, then slow cooked for hours in milk till it turns into a creamy, decadent pudding that is flavored with sugar, saffron, and chopped nuts. My grandmother always made the most amazing phirni as a sweet accompaniment to  her famous mutton pulao. I am yet to eat something that matches – let alone beats –  her cooking!!

The recipe below is an easier version that is very simple to make. No soaking or hours of cooking required.  This phirni can be served warm, but it tastes best chilled. Make ahead the day before your Diwali party, and you have a fantastic dessert to serve.

Badam Phirni – Almond-Rice Pudding

(Serves 8-10)

  • 20 almonds, blanched
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups + 1/2 cups whole milk / half & half / cream* – (do not use skim milk – the cream in the dairy is what makes this dish tasty)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • pinch saffron

1) To blanch the almonds, soak them in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Test one almond by pressing between your thumb and forefinger. The skin should slide right off. If it doesn’t, soak for a few more minutes. Drain the water and skin the rest.

2) In a heavy bottom (preferably non-stick) pan, add 2 cups of milk and bring to a simmer on a low flame.

3) Meanwhile, in a small blender jar, add the blanched almonds, 1/2 cup milk and rice flour, and make into a fine paste. Set aside.

4) When the milk comes to a boil, add sugar and saffron, and simmer till all the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly.

5) Still on a low flame, slowly add the almond-rice mixture and whisk so no lumps form, and the milk is creamy.

6) Add the cardamom powder and simmer about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. The phirni will thicken as it cools to the consistency of pudding.

7) Pour into serving bowl(s) and garnish with edible silver, nuts, saffron, etc.

8) Can be served warm, cool or chilled.

9) Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight containers.

*I plan on making a vegan version with Almond Milk the next time. Will update and let you all know how it turns out.

Fig & Dates Barfi

Fig & Dates Barfi

Helloooo…. anybody out there still reading my blog?

The last few months have been so busy, and I kind of lost track of how the time was flying. In fact, I find it hard to accept that we are at the end of October already. People are making Thanksgiving & Christmas plans!!! Coming out of summer vacation and back-to-school, I’ve sat at the computer couple times and drawn a blank when I had to post my recipes. But I’m finally getting back on track, and have lined up a few yummy, easy recipes for the Diwali and holiday season. I promise to try and update my blog at least once a week and share seasonal recipes as often as possible. Hope you all enjoy the next batch of Indian sweets I will be putting up.

 

The first in the series is a Fig & Dates Barfi that is made without any processed sugar. It takes 15-20 minutes to make, and it is delicious! It can be made ahead of time, and works well for boxing as gifts.

Fig & Dates Barfi

Fig & Dates Barfi

(Makes 16 2X2-inch pieces)

  • 1 1/2 cups dry figs / anjeer – (about 15-18)
  • 1  1/2 cups seeded dates / khajoor – (about 35-40)
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup pistachio
  • 1/3 cup ghee / clarified butter
  • Edible silver foil (optional)

1) Soak figs in about a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes. Add dates to same bowl and soak for another 2-3 minutes till they are all soft and plump.

2) While fruit is soaking, heat a small pan on medium, and lightly toast the nuts separately for 2-3 minutes each, stirring constantly. Remove to a bowl and cool.

3) Coarsely chop all the nuts by hand or in a food processor, and set aside.

4) Drain the figs & dates (reserving the water),  and puree in the same food processor jar as the nuts. Add a  little of the reserved water only if needed.

5) Grease an 8X8 pan, or line it with a double layer of parchment paper so that the edges hang outside like a handle. Set aside.

6) Heat a heavy bottomed, wide pan on medium and add ghee.

7) When ghee melts, add the fig & dates puree and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly and making sure not to burn it.

8) When it seems like there is not more moisture in the mixture, and it starts to leave the sides of the pan, add the chopped nuts and mix well.

9) Cook another 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly and watching to make sure the mixture does not burn.

10) Remove from heat. Pour into the greased bowl and press lightly into the edges, and to flatten top. Allow it to cool completely.

11) Top with edible silver foil, and cut into 16 squares.

Fig & Dates Barfi

Here’s another closeup. Bars can be stored in an airtight box for about a week.

Microwave Besan Ladoo (Sweet Chickpea Flour Balls)

Microwave Besan Ladoo

Here’s another easy and delicious recipe I got from my aunt. She hosts a dinner at her home each fall for about 100+ people, and almost always makes hundreds of these delicious ladoos, except in the traditional way. The key to success in the traditional way is to roast the chickpea flour just right – cook too long and  the flour burns in a flash; too little and the finished sweet ends up raw and bitter. I have ruined at least a handful of batches till I got this recipe. Now, I can whip up a fail-proof batch anytime I crave for them. This recipe and the Microwave Doodh Peda recipe have been really handy when I’ve had guests over on short notice.

I have made these with regular besan and with laddu besan. Both are equally good. If you like a slightly grainer texture, use ladoo besan. If you like a smoother texture, use regular besan.

If you use homemade ghee in this recipe, make sure that all the moisture has been cooked out of the butter. I will soon post a super easy way to make Ghee in the crockpot.

Microwave Besan Ladoo

(10 – 12 pieces)

  • 1 cup besan
  • 3/4 cup fine sugar (measure into your mixer jar and grind for a few seconds)
  • 1/3 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • few saffron strands
  • 2-3 Tbsp toasted & chopped almonds / pistachio (optional)

1) Mix the flour & ghee in a medium glass bowl, and microwave on high for 1 minutes. Remove and stir well.

2) Repeat thrice for a total of 3 minutes.

3) Reduce microwave power to 50% and repeat for another 2-3 minutes, stirring every minute. After third time, taste a tiny pinch to check if the flour tastes raw. If it has a nice nutty, toasted flavor, then it is done. If not, continue microwaving in 30 second intervals. Be careful not to let it burn.

4) Cool the flour mixture.

5) Add sugar, cardamom & saffron, and mix well. Shape into balls and press few nuts into one side as you roll them.

6) Store in an airtight container.