Saturday, 27 February 2010

Favourite Menu for Guests

When there are guests over, and you do not have time to think (or do not want to spend time thinking) what to cook, what do you do? Do you order from outside, or is there a menu which you bank upon?

Guests for dinner. What is the menu?

For me, it is usually the latter. There is a menu which I have made at least once for each guest who has been invited over for a meal. In fact, its become a kind of family joke, esp with my Mom.

Mom: So, what's the plan for the weekend?
Me: We have invited a few friends over for dinner.
Mom: Great. What are you planning to cook? Or are you ordering food?
Me: Hmmm. We'll order the snacks. But I'll be making the main course. Not sure what to cook.
Mom: I know what you are going to cook. *Giggles*
Me: Hmph!

So, the menu turns out to be Matar Paneer, Gobhi Alu, Boondi ka Raita, Puri and Flavoured Rice. Yup, I find it the easiest to cook and does not require any advance preparation like lentils / beans to be soaked overnight.

No recipes today (maybe later), but just a glimpse of what I cooked when we had guests a few days back!

Table is all set...

Matar Paneer and Boondi ka Raita

Gobhi Alu

"Salad" - Tomato, Onion and Carrots

Hot Pooris

Flavored Rice

Dessert anyone? I rely on ice cream. 

What about you? Which is your favorite menu?

Note: This meal was prepared by two people - my dear hubby and me. Hubby prepared the raita, "salad", made the pooris (except frying) and set the table beautifully. 

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Gajar ka Halwa

It's so good to be back. And relaxing. I spent the last few days going through the updates on my Google Reader (and there were so many!) and I now feel much more at peace after moving the "unread" items to "read".

So, without much ado, we go straight to the Gajar ka Halwa, which is one of the most popular winter desserts, especially in North India. The dessert is best made from the "red" carrots which are available only in winters.

Like most Indian recipes, this too has several variations. The quickest way to prepare is using condensed milk. What I am sharing today is the more traditional method, which takes atleast an hour to prepare, if using a kilogram of carrots! The time can be reduced if you are making lesser quantity.

The dessert can be stored in refrigerator and will easily last for a week. Heat it everytime before serving.


Red Carrots: 1 kg
Milk (preferably full cream): 1 lit
Sugar: 3/4 cup, or to taste
Ghee (Clarified butter): 1/2 cup
Nuts, raisins


- Scrape off the peel, and wash the carrots well. Grate them (or refer to the short cut below).
- Add the grated carrot and milk in a heavy bottomed pan (preferably non stick). Bring to a boil
- Let it simmer on low - medium heat till the milk evaporates, and the mixture becomes dry. This will take approximately 45 minutes. While the milk is in the process of drying, keep stirring in between to ensure that the mixture does not stick to the bottom
- Add the ghee and let the mixture cook in it on medium heat for 5 - 7 minutes. Keep stirring from time to time.
- Mix in the sugar. The halwa will become slightly fluid as the sugar melts. Stir it on low heat for another 10 minutes.
- Add nuts, raisins of your choice. Serve hot

Alternate to grating carrots:

Grating carrots manually (as it is still done in many kitchens in India), can be an extremely tedious task. My food processor ensures that I donot spend more than a few minutes on the grating bit. However, since my Mom's kitchen is bereft of the processor, my Dad has found an alternate.

Cut the carrots roughly in small - medium sized pieces. Pressure cook them with milk (2 whistles and a few more minutes should do the job). Mash the carrots using a fork / masher. Transfer contents to the pan and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

My Mom was initially sceptical about this short cut, but now is more than happy with it. There is no loss of flavour, and the halwa is as yummy as it can get!

This Carrot Dessert goes to Haalo's Weekend Herb Blogging # 221, the event originally started by Kalyn. This week, the event is being hosted by Cinzia from Cindystar.