Dig-In Meals – A column highlighting Indian spices in recipes that take traditional Indian food
and add a western twist!
In our gujju household, Diwali marks the beginning of the holiday season. The four days of Diwali are followed by Thanksgiving. And then really December is just one big party, leading up to the New Year.
Growing up my mom used to plan lavish parties. That meant starting in October: our cooks and kitchen worked overtime to make all the delicious snacks that were usually made just once a year.
When I moved to the United States in the mid-80s, I could never replicate that hustle bustle, nor conjure up the taste of those annual snacks. I didn’t know how to make them. The few Indian stores we had did not sell anything other than packaged snacks.
However, over the years things have changed so much, especially for me. I discovered a newfound love for cooking and food photography. I am part of several food groups where like-minded home cooks exchange tips and ideas, making some amazing, fast, and easy recipes.
Recently, through one of my networks, I met a fellow gujju Jain and cook extraordinaire, Dhwani Mehta, the inspiration behind CookingCarnival.com. Her cooking style is very similar to mine. We strive for simplicity, no special equipment needed. I call it the high impact/low drama style of cooking!
For your next party this holiday season, try these unique mithai recipes. They are showstoppers, yet easy to make with ingredients that are readily available.
No Bake Shrikhand Tart
- 2 cups crushed digestive biscuits or any biscuits of your choice (around 250 grams of biscuits)
- ½ cup melted butter (add more if needed)
- 1 ½ cups greek yogurt or hung curd
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- Few strands of saffron
- 2 teaspoons warm milk
- ¼ teaspoon Green cardamom seeds powder
Hung Curd | Traditional Method (If you are using Greek yogurt, skip this step)
- Take a big, deep bowl and place the strainer on top. Choose the bowl deep enough that the strainer’s bottom part is not touching the collected liquid in the bowl.
- Place the muslin cloth on the strainer and add 4 cups of yogurt (homemade or store-bought). Gather the edges of the cloth, twist, and tie. Keep overnight or for at least 5 hours in the refrigerator.
- Now you will get thick yogurt (aka hung curd) and all the whey liquid is collected in the bottom bowl. You’ll get about 1 ½ cups of hung curd. Keep it aside
- Tip – Use collected whey in kneading roti dough, in making soups, or dal.
- Prep work
- Crush the saffron using your fingers and add it to the warm milk. Stir and keep it aside.
- Take granulated sugar in a blender jar and grind it into fine powder. Keep it aside.
- Add curd or Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, saffron milk, and cardamom powder in a bowl. Now fold and mix. Make sure you do not whisk vigorously otherwise shrikhand will get a runny consistency.
- Cover it and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until ready to serve.
No-bake Tart Crust
- Crush the biscuits into a fine powder or until sand-like texture in your blender or food processor. Note – Make sure to grind it into a fine powder.
- In a bowl, combine crushed biscuits and melted butter until a ball formed of this mixture between your fist stays and does not crumble.
- Take 4-inch 5-tart pan with removable bottom. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of mini tart pans. Make sure to press it very well from all sides. Keep the layer a little thick.
- Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up before adding the filling.
- Note – Keep it in the fridge only until you are ready to serve. These tarts are not baked. So, if you keep it at room temperature, the tart might break.
- Remove tartlets
- Take a glass or any stand that is smaller than the hole found at the bottom of your tart pan.
- Place the tart on the glass (upside down), and carefully slide the ring off the tart and down the stand. Then take down the tar, carefully remove the bottom round using a knife and place it onto a plate.
- When you are ready to serve, fill each tart shell with Shrikhand. Top with slivered almonds, rose petals, silver varq, or your choice of toppings.
- Serve chilled.
For eggless brownie
- 100 grams greek yogurt or hung curd around ½ cup
- 100 grams powdered sugar or icing sugar Round ½ cup+2tbsp
- 113 grams dark chocolate chopped
- 25 grams butter around 1 and ¾ tbsp
- 90 grams All Purpose flour/Maida around ½ cup + 3tbsp
- 10 grams unsweetened cocoa powder, around 2 tbsp
- ½ grams baking soda
- pinch of salt
For Milk powder burfi
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 150 grams milk powder
- ½ cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- Rose petals and slivered almonds for garnishing
Step–1 Eggless brownie
- Grease an 8×8 inch square pan with oil or butter.
- Line the baking pan with parchment paper with an overhang. This is super important because this will help you to lift the whole thing without sticking.
- Preheat your oven to @320 degrees F. (160 degrees C.).
- In a mixing bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt/hung curd and powdered sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Check by rubbing the mixture in between your fingers. The sugar should completely dissolve. This step is really important.
- Now let’s melt the chocolate using the double boiler method. For the double boiler, I am using my instant pot. You can use a stovetop too.
- Turn the Instant Pot onto the Sauté NORMAL setting. Don’t do this process on HIGH.
- Add 2 cups of water.
- Once the water starts simmering and you see steam coming from it, place the glass or metal bowl on top of it, a glass bowl that is slightly larger than your Instant Pot. The bottom of the bowl should fit inside of the Instant Pot but the top should be taller.
- Add chopped chocolate and butter.
- Cancel the saute mode and switch to keep warm mode.
- Let the chocolate and butter melt until homogenous.
- Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and combined.
- Take out the bowl from the Instant pot and add this mixture to the yogurt-sugar mixture. Mix well.
- Take flour, baking soda, and salt and sieve everything directly on top of your wet ingredients.
- Fold the batter to form a thick brownie batter. Don’t over-mix it.
- Tip – You can add walnut or any add-ons at this point.
- Transfer the brownie mixture to the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 320 degrees F. (160°C) for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with some crumbs attached to it.
- Let it cool in the pan itself.
Step–2 Preparing the Milk powder burfi
- In a pan on medium-low heat, add ghee, and let the ghee melt. Then add the milk and mix it well together with the butter.
- Then lower the flame and add the milk powder and mix well until combined and the mixture is lump-free
- Then add the powdered sugar. Mix until you have a smooth texture.
- Continue to cook on medium-low for 4 minutes, after 4 minutes dough will start leaving the sides of the pan.
- Now, turn the heat to very low, and continue to cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes or so, stirring continuously. After 3 to 4 minutes, the dough will become non-sticky.
- Tip – To see if the mixture is ready, take a small mixture from the pan. Let it cool down a bit and then roll it between your palms. If you can roll it easily and make a non-sticky ball, it means it is ready to set.
- Now, switch off the flame. Add cardamom powder and mix very well.
Step 3: Assemble them
- Remove the pan from heat and transfer the burfi mixture on top of the brownie.
- Using a spatula or the back of the bowl, gently smoothen and spread it out to have a uniform thickness as well as cover the entire surface of the brownie layer.
- Once smooth, sprinkle some slivered almonds and rose petals. Gently Press down on the burfi top.
- Allow setting for 2-3 hours.
- Layer of brownie and milk powder burfi
- Carefully, lift the brownie Burfi out of the baking dish.
- Using a sharp knife cut into desired size shape. Enjoy!
- Store it in an air-tight container in the fridge. It stays good for a week. Before serving, allow it to come to room temperature, for about 30 minutes.