Birthday Cake Burfi

I’m thrilled to have received so many success stories from you all about the Eggless Birthday Cupcake recipe I posted a few weeks ago. You’ve shared them across Facebook, Instagram and via email and like a proud mum, I fill up with joy every time I see your recipe remakes.

Today is my 30th birthday and I’ve been sharing recipes here for 10 years. Can you believe it?! With each year, I’ve grown as a person, learning more about myself than I ever thought I would through a medium as lighthearted as a recipe blog. Exploring my cultural heritage through food has helped me get to grips with my own personal identity. With this I’ve understood and embraced what “home” really means to me. It’s where my family are; My husband, my son, my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and their children, all sitting around a dinner table eating great food and just being… well, a family.

Many of you know that I was born in Britain, the daughter of immigrants with Indian and East African roots. I was raised as a vegetarian Hindu so the food I ate growing up was a mishmash of spices, starches, vegetables and pulses. Learning to cook from my mum and her haul of Gujarati and Swahili cookbooks was both a pleasure and a privilege. I’m so glad I was able to extract happiness from those things early on because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to share so many of my favourite recipes with you all today.

Birthday Cake Burfi

I feel honoured to be connected with so many fans and readers. Together we are a community of 60,000 people from around the world across social media, each of us passionate about vegetarian Indian and East African food. Whether it’s a comfort classic or a modern take on an old favourite, we all appreciate a plate of food cooked with love. I hope to continue to grow, learn, explore and share recipes with you for years to come.

Being an oversharer, you probably know a tonne about me, but for a bit of fun, here are a few things you may not have known…

  1. I’ve never been to India, yet Indian food is one of my biggest passions in life.
  2. I’m a pyjama-holic. I’d live in loungewear if I could. Don’t let styled food and good photography fool you. Developing recipes and spending a lot of time covered in flour means that fancy clothes are off the cards and comfy joggers and vest tops are the norm. After a hard day’s work I’ll have butter in my hair, icing sugar on my top and and a smile on my face. An Insta-perfect life doesn’t exist and in today’s world of social media overload it’s important we don’t measure ourselves against someone else’s online persona – most of it is make believe anyway!
  3. I’m an avid and life-long wrestling fan. But we’ll leave that story for another day.

Now let’s eat Birthday Cake Burfi and celebrate this old gal’s 30th.

Birthday Cake Burfi

My eggless Birthday Cake Burfi is a fun twist on classic Indian milk fudge. Usually flavoured with ground spices and nuts, this recipe forgoes the traditional and embraces the kid in us all. You’ll first need to make a batch of my Eggless Birthday Cupcakes for the cake layer that’s sandwiched between the burfi layers. Get the recipe in my notes below.

  • 400 g full-fat milk powder
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 2 x 397 g tins sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 unfrosted eggless birthday cupcakes ((see below for recipe link))
  • 150 g white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles ((to decorate))
  • 2 tsp oil ((for greasing the tin))
  1. Crumble up the birthday cake cupcakes with clean hands, making sure you have fine crumbs. Don’t use a food processor for this and ensure the cupcakes are have been allowed to cool completely. I like to make the cupcakes the day before so they’re completely cool and ready to crumble.
  2. Grease a 9” x 6” brownie tin with oil.
  3. Combine the milk powder, cream and condensed milk in a pan. Cook on a low heat, stirring all the time until the mixture starts exuding oil and begins to come away from the sides of the pan. If you have a sugar thermometer, the mixture should reach 116°C/240°F (this is known as the soft ball stage). Keep stirring to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn as it can catch quite easily. Don’t worry if you do not have a sugar thermometer. You can check it’s ready by first spreading a little mixture on a cold plate and if you can roll it into a soft ball between your thumb and finger, it’s ready. Time to work quickly!
  4. Remove from the heat and spread half of the mixture inside the greased brownie tin. Even the mixture out with the help of a spatula. Top with the birthday cake crumbs immediately, making the layer as even as possible. Top with the rest of the Burfi mixture and again, use a spatula to even it out. You need to make quick work of this to ensure the Burfi mixture is still hot when you’re spreading it. You don’t want it to start setting or it will be hard to work with.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Ensure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Pour the chocolate over the Burfi layer and spread it out evenly. Scatter with sprinkles and allow to sit at room temperature until set, about 8 hours or preferably overnight. Slice into squares and serve.

Get the recipe for the Eggless Birthday Cupcakes used in this Birthday Cake Burfi here.

Pin it for later!

Birthday Cake Burfi




Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

When special occasions are fast approaching and I’ve run out of time to whip up something sweet, it’s Indian-inspired Rocky Road to the rescue! It’s truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top the Rocky Road off beautifully.

I’ve been known to leave things to the last minute at Diwali time when it’s customary to gift Indian sweets to your nearest and dearest. This recipe is a quick and easy raid-the-cupboard workaround that hits the spot when Pendas, Jalebis, Gulab Jamuns and Burfis are all too time consuming to make. It’s also great for people who aren’t too keen on Indian sweets.

Rocky Raasto (Indian-Inspired Rocky Road)

I’ve added all the things I love to this (namely pistachios, Nankhatai from the wonderful Chins’ Kitchen and Turkish delight) but you can swap any of these for what you like best. Other delicious mix-ins would be candied pineapple, coconut cookies and chopped dates. If you’re after a more authentic Indian sweet taste, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom or cinnamon. This is your sweet treat to customise.

Freeze the Turkish delight pieces and mini marshmallows for about 2 hours before you start making these. This will help them keep their shape so you’ll get beautiful pink and white- studded pieces when you cut the Rocky Road.

This Indian-inspired Rocky Road looks stunning when boxed up for gifting and even make a great after-dinner treat when you feel like dessert but are short of time. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge and they’ll keep well for up to 10 days, although I doubt they’ll last that long.

After receiving a tonne of requests for Indian sweets through my latest Instagram Q&A session, I have a handful of Indian-style sweet recipes lined up, all in time for Diwali. I hold these Q&As regularly so make sure you’re following my Instagram Stories to tell me what you’d like to see next.

Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

Truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top this Rocky Road off beautifully.

  • 300 g milk chocolate
  • 300 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 140 g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup or agave
  • 100 g Turkish delight ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 100 g Nankhatai, broken ((I use orange & ginger from Chins’ Kitchen))
  • 60 g gelatine-free mini marshmallows ((I use Freedom Mallows))
  • 40 g pistachio nibs ((toasted, plus more for sprinkling on top))
  • 20 g flaked almonds ((toasted))
  • 20 g dried mango ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 20 g crystallised ginger ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 2 tbsp dried rose petals
  1. In a freezer-safe container, freeze the Turkish delight pieces and mini marshmallows. This will help them keep their shape for pretty slices.
  2. Place the chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Give it a gentle stir every 5 minutes until melted and well combined. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Add the broken Nankhatai, Turkish delight, nuts, dried mango, crystallised ginger and mini marshmallows. Combine to coat.
  4. Spread the mixture into a 9” x 6” brownie tin lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten the top and scatter with extra pistachios and dried rose petals.
  5. Cover and allow to set in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
  6. Slice however you like (big, small, bars, squares) and serve with masala coffee.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Pin it for later!

Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

Truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top the Rocky Road off beautifully.




Salted Caramel Mohanthal

My grandfather was a sweet maker. He had big, thick-skinned hands that were made for harvesting sugar canes using a machete and stirring giant pots of bubbling syrup. He never used a sugar thermometer. He could tell it was done just by looking at the consistency of the syrup, perhaps testing it using a little cold water to see if it had a “one-string consistency ” or what a western pastry chef might call the “soft ball stage”. Indian sweet making isn’t for the feint hearted, you see. It’s painstakingly long, laborious, hot and intense work. Stirring, stirring, all the time you’re stirring. No, don’t stop because it will catch on the bottom and your whole mixture will taste scorched. Some of the most revered and expensive ingredients in Indian culture: sugar, milk, ghee and saffron, all wasted. If it was your full-time job and you had a knack for getting distracted, you’d be out of the door faster than you can say, “Oh fudge!”.

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

If you’ve ever stepped inside an Indian sweet shop you’ll be able to appreciate how much thought, heart and family history goes in to the spectacular arrangements of sweet stuff on display. Clue: the good ones almost always have the most tattered sign outside, as well as the longest queue to get in. Squares of milk fudge, diamond-shaped halwas and nut-studded pastry rolls adorned with warq (silver leaf) are majestic enough to transport you to the palaces of ancient India.

One of my favourite Indian sweets has to be Mohanthal – a rich, crunchy milk fudge made with chickpea flour, also known as besan. It’s traditonally spiced with cardamom, mace and saffron but here I’ve added a salted caramel twist because let’s be frank, who doesn’t love salted caramel?

Side note: there are plenty of varieties of vegetarian gold and silver leaf available now. I say this because there have been a tonne of internet rumours floating around claiming that all silver and gold leaf is made using non-veggie processes (I’ll spare you the details) but you don’t need me to tell you not to believe everything you read online, eh? If you’re not sure just ask in the shop. The good ones will show you the packaging from the one they use.

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

Mohanthal can be served in two ways: In pieces like the kind here, or loose as a lava-like liquid gold you scoop up with a spoon and nothing more. The liquid kind is is fondly known as Disco Mohanthal (which sounds just as fun as it is delicious). There’s a time and a place for both. I’ve set this Salted Caramel Mohanthal into crunchy fudge pieces but the addition of sweet caramel also means it is ridiculously good as bubbling Disco Mohanthal.

This is a pretty special recipe, guys. It’s a labour of love and is a very traditional way of making Mohanthal (no shortcuts with gum Arabic or goondh), the way a true Indian confectioner would make it – my only tweak is the addition of salted caramel. Don’t shy away because of the different steps. Indian sweet making is a beautiful, highly-specialised process which takes time and patience to master. Perseverance is key and once you’ve had a go and tasted your first batch, you’ll be hooked.

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

These squares of cardamom and mace-laced butter fudge made with chickpea flour are a Gujarati favourite at special occasions. What a treat!

For the Dhrabo:

  • 320 g chickpea flour
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee

For the Mohanthal:

  • 250 ml melted ghee
  • 90 g whole milk powder
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom seeds
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp slivered pistachios
  • 1 pinch saffron ((I use Spanish saffron))
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • Orange food colour ((optional))
  • 220 g jar of salted caramel
  • 1 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
  • Gold leaf, to decorate ((optional))

For the Sugar Syrup:

  • 400 g granulated sugar
  • 250 ml water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. To make the dhrabo place the gram flour in a bowl and add 1 tbsp melted ghee and 2 tbsp milk. Rub the mixture in between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes.

  2. Sieve the dhrabo mixture through a medium-holed colander rubbing any large pieces between your fingers and pushing it through the sieve. Be patient. Set aside.

  3. In a pan, add the ingredients for the sugar syrup and simmer until it is of a one-string consistency (this is the ‘soft-ball’ stage if you have a candy thermometer, 113°C/235°F). Keep this hot but do not let it go past the soft ball stage. 

    Tip: To test if the sugar syrup is ready without using a sugar thermometer, drop 1/2 tsp syrup into a bowl of cold water. You should be able to roll the syrup into a soft ball between your fingers. Once your syrup has reached this stage, stop cooking the syrup.

  4. In a large, wide, no-stick pan add one cup of ghee and the dhrabo mixture you have passed through a sieve. Cook this on a medium heat until it becomes a golden almond colour. Keep stirring and wait for the ghee to separate from the flour at the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow this to cool until it is just warm. Add the cardamom powder, saffron, milk powder and mace powder. Don’t be impatient – let this cool properly or your mixture will seize up and become hard and crumbly as the mixture will become too hot.

  5. Pour the hot syrup over the cooled flour mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add 180g salted caramel. Add some orange food colouring if you wish.

  6. Pour the mixture into a greased thali or wide dish with sides. Even the top out using the back of a spoon. Swirl in the remaining salted caramel. Sprinkle with almonds, pistachios and fleur de sel.

  7. Allow this to set for 12 hours at room temperature and then cut into pieces using a sharp knife.

  • Making Disco Mohanthal? At step 5, add an extra 250ml water after you’ve mixed in the syrup and colour and serve hot with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with almonds and pistachios.
  • Adding lemon juice to your sugar syrup will stop it from crystallising around the sides of the pan.
  • Keep refrigerated. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Pin it for later!

Salted Caramel Mohanthal
Love Sanjana




Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Hand me a rose-flavoured dessert over a bouquet of roses any day. I’m a sucker for rose-flavoured everything. It all started back when I was around seven years old when my dad would take our family to our favourite Indian restaurants. Even before looking at the menu I’d know what I wanted to drink – classic Falooda. A sweet rose milkshake with basil seeds, grass jelly and vermicelli noodles. Some may argue that it’s a dessert and not a drink you’d have with a full three-course meal but that never stopped me. My dad would laugh and always made sure I got one, even ensuring it came with cocktail umbrellas for added pizzazz. I still love an ice cold falooda to this day but I can no longer get away with ordering one with my dinner.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

These days I love to add rose to lots of dishes from sweet to savoury, but mostly sweet. I’ve got a tonne of rose recipes on the blog, some of my favourites being Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda, Eggless Rose Custard Creams, Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa, Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel. A dash of rose water also doesn’t go amiss in biryani, ice cream and of course, cake.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Here I’ve dunked chewy toasted coconut macaroons in a simple rose icing made with icing sugar and rose syrup – the bright pink kind you find in Indian shops. One of my pregnancy cravings has been rose milk reminiscent of my falooda-crazy days. I add a dash to cold milk and stir for a strawberry pink milkshake that’s so refreshing without the faff of having to make a true falooda.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

The macaroons are eggless, switching in a trusty can of sweetened condensed milk instead of egg whites. The result is a delicious, toasty coconut cookie with a coconut ice-like centre. After they’ve cooled, the bottoms get dunked in the rose icing and chopped toasted pistachios. Pistachio and rose are a flavour combo I’d like to eat every day for the rest of my life – I’m obsessed.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy 6-ingredient cookie that’s both egg and gluten free, this one’s for you.

Dust with icing sugar for a pretty snow-topped peak. So pretty!

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons
Makes 25 macaroons

For the macaroons:
1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
300g sweetened desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the rose icing:
140g icing sugar
4 tbsp rose syrup

Icing sugar to dust, optional

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/320°F. It’s really important you do this. The oven needs to be HOT or the cookies will melt into flat puddles. Grease and line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper and butter.

2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda until you have a thick pliable mixture.

3. Divide the mixture into 25 equal balls and shape each one into a teardrop shape. Arrange on the pre-lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and toasted on the outside. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar and rose syrup until you have a thick, drippy pink icing. Dip the bottom of the cooled macaroons in the icing and then into the chopped pistachios. Sit them back onto a lined baking tray. Allow to set at room temperature for a few hours.

5. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

The macaroons will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a week. Although I doubt they’ll last that long.




Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Doughnuts)

I figured that as everyone seems to have totally lost their minds this year, I’d follow suit in my own crazy way. You might have noticed a Facebook and Instagram post I wrote, earlier this month. It was a big deal for me, having dedicated a huge amount of myself to this blog. In case you missed it, it served as a reminder to myself that if we pursue our passions with our whole selves, we must not forget to extract every last bit of love it gives back to us. Anyway, enough of that soppy stuff… it’s rum time!

I have a love/hate relationship with gulab jamun (or gulab jambu as we call them at home). I mean this in the sense that I love to eat them but hate that I can never just have one. 

These sweet, saffron, rose and cardamom-soaked milk doughnuts are one of the most well-known Indian desserts, and the chances are, they’re on your local Indian restaurant’s menu.

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)

Kala jamuns are the lesser-known big sister of gulab jamun. At first, the most obvious difference is in the colour difference between brown gulab jamun and black kala jamun (hence, the name – ‘kala’ meaning black). The texture of kala jamuns is also very different to regular gulab jamuns. They have a chewier exterior, that’s almost squeaky and the inside is a little grainier. You could say they’re the heartier of the two. Another key difference is in the serving style. Gulab jamuns are usually served in their syrup, whereas kala jamun are served without their soaking syrup, often rolled in desiccated coconut. When I was little I’d love coconut coated kala jamun split down the middle and filled with Shrikhand, but that’s another story for another day.

This grown-up version of traditional kala jamun is easy to make, since I use milk powder and just a touch of khoya (also known as mawa) for added texture. Khoya is made by simmering full-fat milk in a pan for several hours, until almost all the water has evaporated, leaving just the milk solids behind. Khoya is widely used in South Asian cuisine, across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, to name a few places. You can find khoya sold in vacuum-packed blocks in the chiller section of your local South Asian supermarket. Hint: Look near the paneer section, it’s usually there.

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)

I’m a huge fan of anything soaked in rum, so when the opportunity to make kala jamun presented itself, I know that making a spiced rum syrup was the way to go. The combination of dark rum, cardamom, saffron, rosewater and vanilla is my idea of bliss and it works so perfectly in the recipe. It’s sweet and beautifully aromatic with just a hint of bittersweet flavour from the caramelised jamuns.

They’ll make a show stopping alternative Christmas dessert, served in a tower and covered in gold leaf. Sprinkle over some pistachios or toasted coconut if you like.

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)
Makes 24 kala jamuns

For the kala jamun:
600g milk powder
430ml warm milk
50g khoya, grated
3 tbsp icing sugar
150g self-raising flour
2 tsp coarse semolina
½ tsp crushed green cardamom
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of salt
Sunflower oil, for deep frying

For the cardamom and rum syrup:
800g sugar
950ml water
400ml dark rum
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp rosewater

Gold leaf, to decorate

Method
1. To make the kala jamun: In a large bowl, mix together the milk powder, self raising flour, khoya, semolina, salt, sugar, saffron and cardamom.

2. Gradually add the milk, stirring gently. The ingredients will come together to form a dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

3. To make the sugar syrup: Place all the ingredients, including the vanilla pod in a pan. Give it a quick stir and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer until it reaches the thread stage on a sugar thermometer (110-115C) and then switch the heat off. It’s important you don’t stir it during the cooking period. If you notice the sugar starting to crystallise around the sides of the pan, run a wet pastry brush around the sides of the pan so that water runs into the crystals and dissolves them.

4. In a large, deep pan (I use a wok), heat enough sunflower oil to deep fry the jamuns. Use a cooking thermometer to bring the oil to 150C.

5. Make small balls with the dough, about 2cm in diameter. This might seem a little small but they will expand in the oil. It’s really important to roll them firmly between your hands to ensure there are no cracks. Do this for all the jamuns – you should have around 24.

6. Deep fry 6-8 jamuns at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Allow the jamuns to cook for 3-4 minutes. They are ready when they turn really dark brown/almost, but not quite black all over. The jamuns will swell slightly in the oil, making them a little larger than the balls you rolled.

7. Drain the jamuns on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Allow to cool and test one to ensure the middle is cooked through. Repeat the frying process for the remaining jamuns.

8. Allow all the jamuns to cool for 20 minutes and then place them in the sugar syrup, making sure they’re fully submerged. Leave covered for 24 hours and serve the following day. Decorate with gold leaf if you’re feeling fancy.

I love to eat my kala jamuns hot with vanilla ice cream.

Note: If you’re serving them hot by reheating them in the microwave, make sure you add the gold leaf after they’ve been warmed.

Storing: Keep the jamuns in their syrup and store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will last two weeks… unless you eat them all before then!

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.




How to Make Cookie Dough Chocolate Burfi in the Microwave

Ask any Indian to name their favourite sweets and I’m certain burfi will be on the list. This melt-in-the-mouth fudge is made with milk powder and condensed milk, and can be flavoured with pretty much anything that takes your fancy. Coconut, pistachio, rose, saffron, cardamom and chocolate are firm faves, with chocolate topping the list for kids.

In my family, I’ve been known as a burfi monster since I was a kid. I was gap toothed, chubby cheeked and all about the sweet stuff. My wonderful masi used to make sure she had a stash of chocolate burfi whenever I went to visit on special occasions – and still does to this day. And although I’ve learned to control myself over the years, I’ll always be its’ number one fan.

Diwali was always a special time in our home. It would warrant us going to Indian sweet shops to stock up on boxes of brightly-coloured treasures to share with family and friends. My dad’s heart is as big as my appetite so he always made sure we nabbed one of everything. There’d be rows and rows of burfi, penda, mohanthal, halwa, laddoo, gulab jambu, kaju katli, pista rolls, soan papdi and jalebi, in every colour under the sun – an Aladdin’s cave of milk-based sweets, topped with gold and silver leaf.

How to Make Cookie Dough Chocolate Burfi in the Microwave

As they glimmered behind glass cases, I would stand there mesmerised by all the colours and textures. By the time dad had selected what would go in each box, he’d turn to me and ask what I like in my own special box of sweets. This was the moment I had been waiting for…

I’d choose coconut burfi, saffron penda, mawa penda, kaju katli, Bombay halwa – one pink and one green and of course, my beloved chocolate burfi. This still happens, BTW and it always takes me back to those happy times.

At home, I’d eat them as a mouse would eat a hamper of cheese – nibble a bit of each one, and then methodically determine the order in which I’d devour the sweets.

So what would you say if I told you that chocolate burfi + cookie dough had a party in my kitchen and things got pretty wild? Layers of cardamom burfi, classic chocolate chip cookie dough and milk chocolate combined to create the wickedest chocolate burfi you’ll ever experience. Make it for Diwali, make it for your birthday, make it for any random Wednesday if you want, I promise you’ll only ever want it this way from now on.

Fellow chocolate burfi monsters, I dedicate this one to you.

How to Make Cookie Dough Chocolate Burfi in the Microwave

How to Make Cookie Dough Chocolate Burfi in the Microwave
Makes 24 pieces

Ingredients

For the burfi layer:
180g full-fat milk powder
1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of ground cardamom (seeds from about 3 pods, crushed)

For the cookie dough layer:
70g unsalted butter, softened
120g soft brown sugar
160g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g milk chocolate chips
Pinch of fine salt

For the chocolate layer:
250g milk chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Method

1. Grease a 6-inch long X 9-inch wide X 3-inch deep tin with groundnut or sunflower oil. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit in the bottom of the tin to make the burfi easier to lift out later. You could also use a 6-inch round tin, just make sure it has high sides.

2. First, combine the milk powder and condensed milk in a large, microwave-safe bowl.

3. Microwave on high power for one minute, remove from the microwave and stir well. Return to the microwave and repeat three more times, so you’ve cooked it for four minutes in total, stirring every minute. Doing it in bursts like this will ensure the mixture doesn’t burn.

4. Add the ground cardamom and stir again before immediately spooning into the tin. Spread it out as evenly as you can and smooth it over. Press it in firmly to make sure your layers come out perfectly – you can use the base of a steel bowl or a cake smoother if you’re looking for very even layers. If it starts sticking, apply a little oil to whatever you’re using. Set aside and allow to cool.

5. To make the cookie dough layer, place the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl. Whip until fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract. Whip until it just comes together. Next, throw in the chocolate chips. Go in with your hands to gently bring it together and form a dough.

6. Place the cookie dough layer over the cooled burfi layer and repeat the smoothing over process as above. Try to get the layers even. Allow to cool.

7. Chop up the chocolate for the topping and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it on a medium heat in 30-second bursts until fully melted. Don’t stir it too much or the chocolate will seize. You want it to be shiny and perfect for pouring.

8. Pour the chocolate over the cookie dough layer, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon.

9. Allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.

10, Run a knife around the edges of the tin and turn it out onto a board. This is where your greaseproof paper makes everything easier. Slice into pieces and devour. Decorate with gold lustre dust or leaf if you’re feeling fancy.

How to Make Cookie Dough Chocolate Burfi in the Microwave

Love Sanjana

 

 

 




Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh Pistachio Ice Cream

Seeroh is one of those desserts that brings out the greedy little kid in me. Sweet semolina tossed with spices and so buttery it melts as soon as it hits your tongue. Flippin’ gorgeous. And before you ask, it’s nothing like ‘school dinner’ semolina. Not even close.

Years ago we’d make special trips to the mandir (temple) during Navratri and Diwali to pray for the year ahead, see family and have an amazing, spiritual evening. Of course, I was there for all of these reasons, plus for the reason that there would be prashad – sweets like Seeroh offered to the gods that evening. After putting my hands together in prayer, I’d open them up and wait patiently for my Seeroh.

I believe glace cherries have three purposes in life; to garnish cocktails, top cherry bakewells and stud this delicious addictive treat. If you really don’t like them, replace with candied lemon or orange pieces. They’ll add an incredible texture to contrast the soft texture of this dessert.

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh Pistachio Ice Cream (3)

I love experimenting with different flavour combinations with this recipe. The basic Seeroh is so simple that’s it’s easy to get carried away with different flavourings. One of my favourites is this saffron and lemon version. The other is my mum’s orange and cardamom version. I could eat it all…. day… long.

There are two ways you can serve this dish; The first is to set and cool this in a square thali so you can cut it into pieces, and the second is to serve it loose as a hot pudding. Top with a scoop of ice cream and be blown away by the insane contrast of hot and cold.

You should always store Seeroh in the fridge because it can spoil quickly at room temperature. This should keep well for 2-4 days – whether it will last that long is another story.

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh Pistachio Ice Cream (2)

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

700ml hot milk
140ml hot water
100g sugar
50g golden syrup

140g salted butter
260g coarse semolina
Zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons – I love those beautiful Amalfi lemons
A large pinch of saffron
2 tbsp glace cherries, halved

Homemade or shop-bought pistachio ice cream, to serve (I’ll give you my recipe in another post)
Slivered almonds and pistachios to decorate
Icing sugar to dust, optional

Method

1. Heat the butter in a large non-stick pan and add the semolina. Sauté on a low/medium heat for around 3 minutes or until golden and toasted.

2. Slowly add the hot milk and water, whisking all the time. The mixture should thicken as you whisk. Add the sugar and syrup.

3. Cook on a medium heat for around 15 minutes or until a buttery sheen becomes visible on the top and sides of the mixture. Keep stirring all the time and cook for as long as it takes for the mixture to become glossy.

4. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, saffron and glace cherries. Combine.

5. Serve hot with a big scoop of pistachio ice cream.

That’s it. Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa, Gujarati Mohanthal and Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream. Three Diwali desserts to keep you sweet all year long.

Happy Diwali!

Love Sanjana




Gujarati Mohanthal

Mohanthal

Okay, round two. Not only is this our second Diwali sweet of the week – it’s also my second time making this Gujarati favourite for my blog. Mohanthal  (pronounced: moHanTHaal) are squares of mace-laced butter fudge made with chickpea flour. A staple in homes during festivals, these sweet pieces of fudge are studded with crunchy pieces of chickpea flour ‘crumble’ or ‘dhrabo’.

Mohanthal can be served in two ways: In pieces like the kind here, or loose as a lava-like liquid gold you scoop up with a spoon and nothing more. There’s a time and a place for both. Pieces of Mohanthal are perfect for gifting to friends and family during Diwali. The loose kind is more of a hot dessert served after a traditional Gujarati meal. My favourite way to have it is right after a meal of Aakhu Shaak (whole vegetables stuffed with peanut masala), daal, rice, rotli and sambharo (stir-fried cabbage and carrots with mustard seeds). Heaven.

Shop-bought Mohanthal will often be brown in colour but I like my mine to be bright orange – the dish is after all, named after Lord Krishna. Orange is said to be his favourite colour so there’s no better colour than this for my Mohan’s thali.

Mohanthal (3)

Everything I know about making Mohanthal, my mum taught me. She teaches with a wonderful fervour that’s so infectious, I become immersed like rasmalai in a pool of sweet milk. That’s the only way I can describe it. Having her as a mentor means I’ve never been afraid of trying anything new and this Mohanthal is no different.

Handling burning hot sugar syrup, scorching ghee and flour isn’t easy but confidence, a steady hand and heaps of patience is key. Like a beautiful cake, you can’t rush Mohanthal so take some time out and master this classic Gujarati sweet. With this recipe, I promise you’ll never buy shop-bought Mohanthal again. Especially at Diwali.

Classic Gujarati Mohanthal
Makes 20-24 pieces

Ingredients 

For the Dhrabo (this is the bit that ensures your Mohanthal has those essential crunchy pieces):

320g gram flour/chickpea flour
1 tbsp melted ghee
2 tbsp milk

For the Mohanthal:

250ml  melted ghee
90g  milk powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp slivered almonds 
2 tbsp slivered pistachios 
A pinch of saffron
1 tsp mace powder (javantri)
A pinch of orange food colour (optional)

For the Sugar Syrup:

400g sugar
250ml water

Method

1. To make the dhrabo place the gram flour in a bowl and add 1 tbsp melted ghee and 2 tbsp milk. Rub the mixture in between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes.

2. Sieve the dhrabo mixture through a medium-holed colander rubbing any large pieces between your fingers and pushing it through the sieve. Be patient. Set aside.

3. In a pan, add the ingredients for the sugar syrup and simmer until it is of a one-string consistency (this is the ‘soft-ball’ stage if you have a candy thermometer). Keep this hot but do not let it go past the soft ball stage.

4. In a large, wide, no-stick pan add one cup of ghee and the dhrabo mixture you have passed through a sieve. Cook this on a medium heat until it becomes a golden almond colour. Keep stirring. Remove from the heat and allow this to cool until it is just warm. Add the cardamom powder, saffron, milk powder and mace powder. Don’t be impatient – let this cool properly or your mixture will seize up and become hard and crumbly as the mixture will become too hot.

5. Pour the hot syrup over the cooled flour mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add some orange food colouring if you wish.

6. Pour the mixture into a greased thali or wide dish with sides. Sprinkle with almonds and pistachios.

7. Allow this to set for 24 hours at room temperature.

8. Cut into pieces.

9. Making liquid Mohanthal? At step 5, add an extra 250ml water after you’ve mixed in the syrup and colour and serve hot with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with almonds and pistachios.

One more Diwali sweet treat coming up tomorrow. 

Love Sanjana




Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa (2)

I used to love going into Indian sweet shops as a little nipper, especially around Diwali. Wide-eyed and full of wonder, the shop keepers would see me peering through their glass cases at the majestic displays of endless halwa, burfi, penda, jalebi, kaju katli, mohanthal gulab jambu, rasmalai and everything in between. I very quickly became an expert at getting free samples.

My dad would always ask me what I’d like in my special box of sweets. I’d think long and hard about which ones would make the cut – it was a very important decision. To this day, he still buys me my own box of sweets and even if I’m not there to choose them, he somehow always picks my favourites.

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa

The one that always stood out was the Bombay Halwa. It’s one of the only sweet that comes in lots of different colours – and they’re SO bright. Rows of translucent pink, yellow, green and orange jellies studded with jewel-like pistachios and cashews. They were bright and beautiful and I was a magpie, attracted to anything colourful.

For me, it was always the pink ones. As an avid fan of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, it reminded me of the White Witch’s wicked Turkish delights that were conjured up to encourage Edmund’s betrayal. Of course, the only things I betrayed were my poor teeth. It was so worth it.

I learnt much later that Bombay Halwa is really easy to make. The jelly-like texture is achieved by mixing cornflour and sugar syrup – very much like making Turkish delight. Next, you slowly add ghee until it’s glossy and thick. And that’s pretty much it. So simple but make sure your arm muscles are ready. There’s loads of stirring involved.

You can make pretty much any flavour or colour you like. I love rose and pistachio but saffron and cashew and simple lemon and cardamom are also great.

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa (4)

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa
Makes 18-20 pieces

Ingredients
160g cornflour
140ml water

400g sugar
250ml water

4 tbsp rose syrup
100g ghee, melted
50g roasted pistachios, lightly broken
½ tsp cardamom seeds, ground

Method

1. Grease a 6×8 rectangular tin with ghee.

2. First, mix together the cornflour and 140ml cold water.

3. In a large pan (I use a wok with a large handle), add the sugar and 250ml water. Bring to the boil and wait for all the sugar to melt.

4. Once all the sugar has melted, in a slow and steady stream, add the cornflour mixture, stirring all the time. Keep the mixure boiling all the time and keep stirring. It will thicken and look a lot like wallpaper paste.

5. When you’ve added all the cornflour mixture, add the rose syrup.

6. Next, start adding the ghee – slowly at first. Keep stirring to ensure there are no lumps. Then add the rest of the ghee and incorporate. Cook again, mixing all the time until thick, glossy and translucent.

7. Mix in the cardamom and pistachios.

8. Pour the mixture into the greased pan, decorate with crushed pistachios and allow to set at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight.

9. Cut into pieces as big as you can fit in your mouth.

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa (3)

I have two more of my favourite Diwali sweets coming your way this week. Keep an eye out.

Love Sanjana




Saffron Rice Pudding with Banana Brûlée

Saffron Rice Pudding with Brulee Bananas (2)

I’ve been rushing around like a mad woman on too many jalebis this month. Developing recipes (which I’ll show you later), catching up with friends I haven’t seen since our wedding and generally thinking about what to blog about next.

Sifting through my mum’s handwritten recipes, clippings and annotations on pudding recipes, I once again became a tubby eight year old. Making Indian sweets like white chocolate penda, butterfly burfi (milk fudge with almond ‘butterfly wings’ like the buns we used to make at school) with mum was what made me so passionate about playing with food. She fuelled my curiosity for learning about how flavours really work and our shared enthusiasm for putting an Indian spin on everything. It is something I try to practice every single day. 

We’d always make enough to feed the five thousand so quite often, the puddings would be taken to our temple for prashad – food which has been offered to the gods. Once it has been ‘blessed’ the food can be shared. 

Unashamedly, this was my favourite bit. 

Sampling the prashad brought to the temple by all the different families was something new and adventurous for me. One family would always bring kheer – an Indian rice pudding. It was packed with saffron, cardamom and nuts. Plus, in my eight year-old mind it had to be good… It’d been blessed by GOD! I. Was. Hooked. 

The next time there was an event at the temple, I was there faster than a buttered bullet.

Saffron Rice Pudding with Brulee Bananas (3)

Anyone who knows me will be aware of my infatuation with Raymond Blanc. Every time I see him create a French classic on my TV screen, I melt. A simple recipe prepared with hunger and respect for ingredients is something that inspires me to my very bones. So when I saw him make his mother’s recipe for Riz au Lait, I had to try it. He suggested serving it warm, or cold with a brûlée top. Bloody brilliant. 

Of course, I had to put my own spin on it so taking my inspiration from childhood experiments and that ‘holy rice pudding at the temple’, I created this Saffron Rice Pudding with Banana Brûlée. I hope you like it as much as a fat kid loves kheer.

Saffron Rice Pudding with Brulee Bananas


Saffron Rice Pudding with Banana Brûlée
Adapted from Raymond Blanc’s Riz au Lait
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
1.2L semi-skimmed milk
500ml double cream
½ tsp saffron
150g rice
100g caster sugar
4 bananas
Extra caster sugar for caramelising the pudding tops

Method

1. Pour the milk and cream in a large pan, then add the sugar, rice and saffron. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 40 minutes. The rice should be pretty much cooked all the way through. Don’t worry that there’s lots of extra liquid – it will all come together.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 190C

3. Next, take individual ramekins placed on a tray or one large ovenproof dish and ladle in the rice pudding. Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned on top. If it gets too brown, cover with some foil. Remove from the oven.

4. Slice the bananas and top the rice pudding. Sprinkle over a liberal amount of sugar and place under a hot grill until dark and the colour of burnt caramel. If you have a blowtorch you can use that. I do have one but it’s new and if I’m honest, I’m a bit scared of it.

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving because burnt tongues are nobody’s favourite. 

Love Sanjana




Devnaa – Indian Inspired Chocolates

You, more than anyone know how much I love Indian-inspired desserts. When the lovely guys at Devnaa sent me a box of their spice-infused chocolates, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Cinnamon-laced dark chocolate, chocolate burfi and cardamom truffles sent me into a very welcome sugar coma.

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful packaging. Deep purple and orange mendhi-inspired patterns, crepe paper and gold emboss – this beautiful box of chocs felt like it was created especially for me and my passion for fusion flavours.

The caramels were by far my favourite. And they weren’t just any caramels – they were silky smooth and full of rich, buttery flavours. I’d devour an entire box of these, without a doubt.

Another delicious surprise was the dark chocolate, cardamom and coconut number. With one little corner dipped in desiccated coconut, the coconut flavour wasn’t overpowered by the cardamom flavour which I was at first sceptical about.

Other flavours included strawberry burfi covered in white chocolate, chai masala milk chocolate, crunchy cinnamon praline, saffron and ginger fudge and a really lovely Turkish delight (I’m a sucker for Turkish delight). I’m sorry to say I ate this whole box of chocolates by myself. I’m not even ashamed.

Huge thanks to all at Devnaa. Order your chocolate tiffin box here. And don’t forget my caramels!

 

P.S. I’ve just come back from an amazing trip to Paris (during I was constantly eating – no word of a lie) but will be back with a recipe in the next couple of days.

 

 




Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda

Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda 

Don’t you just love the feeling you get when you’re in a restaurant and your waiter or waitress appears from the kitchen with your order? And also hate it when you think it’s yours but it’s really for the table next to you?

I guess it just affirms that we’re all big kids just waiting to be fed at heart.

When I think of Falooda I think of my dad and the big smile that emerges on his face whenever he rumbles the fact there’s something sweet on the menu. We’re two peas in a pod.

When I was little he used to take the whole family to a favourite restaurant in either Leicester or Bradford on a Sunday afternoon and we’d have the most memorable family meals. Mum would order something classy and simple, Dad would get the thali and my brother and I would squabble over whether they put coriander in the daal or not.

Regardless of what Ravi and I were arguing about, Dad would always diffuse the situation by asking me the golden question. That cheeky smile would spread across his face and he’d say one word, ‘Falooda?’

And that was all it took. I’d be content without coriander in the daal and no samosa starter because I knew I was getting to drink what is practically a dessert with my main meal. Happy days.

What the fudge is Falooda, I hear you ask?

A rose-flavoured milkshake with rice noodles, basil seeds, milk jelly diamonds and a couple of scoops of ice cream.

If you love ice cream sundaes, this will be your kryptonite.

I’ve been a bit playful with my version and tweaked what is a very classic Indian Falooda into what can only be described as a bloody delicious deviation. Meet the Stawberry Cheesecake Falooda – a hybrid between two separate ends of the world. A bit like me, I suppose.

Imagine this; all the gorgeousness of classic Falooda with the fruitiness of strawberries to compliment the delicate rose flavour, a hint of malt from the biscuits, the creaminess of light Italian mascarpone cheese and some strawberry cheesecake ice cream to top it all off.

This one’s all for you, Pops. Don’t tell Mum.

Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda (2)

Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda
(Serves 2)

Ingredients for the milk jelly:

240ml milk
5g agar agar/China grass strands, snipped into small pieces
3 tablespoons sugar
200ml warm water
Few drops pink food colour

Method:

1. Soak the agar agar in warm water for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, gently bring the milk to the boil. Squeeze the agar agar to remove any water and mix it into the boiling milk. Stir continuously until completely dissolved. Add the sugar and keep on stirring for a few minutes.

2. Lightly grease a steel plate and pour in the milk. Allow to cool to room temperature, then place into the fridge until set. When set, cut the jelly into diamond shapes. Refrigerate until needed.

Ingredients for the rest of the Falooda:

280ml milk
50ml rose syrup
4 large strawberries
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese

2 Rich Tea-style biscuits, crushed
1 tablespoon takmaria (basil seeds), soaked in cold water for 20 minutes (you can get these in South Asian grocery shops or online)
60g rice noodles, cooked according to packet instructions, then soaked in 1 tablespoon rose syrup

4 scoops strawberry cheesecake ice cream
2 strawberries to garnish

Method:

1. Place the milk, rose syrup, strawberries and mascarpone cheese in a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a jug, cover, then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

2. Grab yourself two ice cream sundae glasses or other tall glassware. Divide the takmaria and noodles between the glasses, then add a few pieces of milk jelly and the crushed biscuits. Pour over the strawberry and rose milkshake, leaving some room for the ice cream.

3. Top with two scoops of strawberry cheesecake ice cream and garnish with a sliced strawberry. You’ll need a spoon and a straw, too!

Serves as a dessert – or if you’re a bit like me, as a drink on the side of a spicy meal.