Rob-e-Anar Kaashta or Pomegranate Cheesecake Ice Cream served with Cocktail Shikaf

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I present Rob-e-Anar Kaashta Ice cream ,served over a bed of Cocktail Shikaf.
A Pomegranate Cheesecake Ice cream served with Fruit Cocktail, Lebanese style!
This Frozen Treat is my tribute to all the lovely Lebanese desserts I saw on this wonderful blog- Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen , which I have been closely following for  the past month in the course of my Lebanese quest.
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This month onward, I have joined the ‘Kitchen Divas’ and will be doing a theme based post every month. The theme for April is Frozen Treats.

I have incorporated Kaashta/Clotted milk with rose water, Rob-e-Anar/Pomegranate molasses and Cocktail Shikaf to get this gorgeous dessert.

Kaashta/Astha is clotted cream prepared with rose water and orange blossom water. To prepare it add a tsp of sugar to 3 cups of whole milk. Bring this mixture to boil and add a few drops of lemon juice. The milk starts to clot immediately. Add rose water and orange blossom water and mix well. With a strainer, collect the clotted cream (or chhena as we call it!) and transfer it to another vessel. Keep collecting till the liquid gets clear.  Add a few drops more of lemon juice if required.
To incorporate into the ice cream, I drained the Kaashta a little to get rid of the excess liquid.
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To get this frozen treat together you need

400 mils heavy cream/whipping cream (I used Rich’s heavy cream)
200 gms condensed milk
All the kaashta prepared
½ cup of mixed nuts, raisins and tutti frutii
½ cup of pomegranate molasses/ Rob-e-Anar
100 gms of digestive biscuits/graham crackers
30 gms softened butter
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Make sure the cream is chilled before you start making the ice cream.
I like to set the ice cream in a butter paper lined tin. It is easy to get it out neatly. Any metal or plastic container may be used.
Because I wanted to make a cheesecake style ice cream, I used a spring form tin. In fact, any tin can be lined with butter paper and used.
Crush the biscuits and mix with the butter to form a bread crumb like mixture.
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Spread HALF of the of the biscuit crumb mixture at the bottom of the tin and press it in nicely. Save the other half for layering the ice cream.
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Leave the tin in the freezer for about fifteen minutes.
Crumble the kaashta into the mixer and add about 7-8 tbsp cream.
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Blend till mixed well.
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With an electric hand mixer, mix the kaashta and condensed milk. Beat well for half a minute on low.
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Fold in the mixed nuts, raisins and tutti frutii.
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In a separate bowl beat the cream till peaks form.
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Gently fold in the condensed milk mixture into the cream.
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Take the tin out of the freezer and gently transfer a layer of ice cream mixture over the biscuit layer, sprinkle with some crumb and repeat till the mixture is used up.
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Generously sprinkle the top of the ice cream cake with slivered pistachios, cashews and almonds.
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Seal it nicely with cling film and a layer of aluminium foil.
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Let it set for 5-6 hours.

Remove from the freezer fifteen minutes before serving.
Prepare fruit cocktail or Cocktail Shikaf by chopping a cup of mixed fruits per serving.
I used mangoes, banans, apples, grapes,oranges and strawberries.Any seasonal or tinned fruits may be used.
Puree a few strawberries or kiwi fruits and mix well with the fruits. Drizzle some honey and throw in some chopped walnuts.
Serve a slice of ice cream over a bed of fruit cocktail and drizzle all over with pomegranate molasses 😀
Enjoy!!

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Check out the other #FrozenTreats my blogger friends have dished out this month!
Dolphia @ The Story of Cooks
Anjana @ At The Corner Of Happy And Harried
Jyothi @ Curry Trail
Sujatha @ Spices and Treats
Subhasmita @ The Flavours of Kitchen
Madhuri @MAD About Kitchen

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Pomegranate Molasses/ Rob-e-Anar

Life in a salubrious small riverside town has many blessings- beautiful sunrises, walking amidst greenery and blooms and relaxed tête-à-tête at quaint river side cafés…..
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And then there are few challenges. Finding speciality ingredients is one of them.
As I researched the Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine for my ‘Go Lebanese’ mission this month, I learnt that quite a few recipes ask for something called Pomegranate Molasses. Further reading revealed it was very simple to make! All you need is excellent quality pomegranates, sugar and a dash of lime. And yeah about 45 minutes of your time.

Rob-e-Anar in Persian, Rub al-Rumman in Arabic and Nar Ekşisi in Turkey and Lebanon, this beautiful red syrup is a widely used ingredient in the Middle Eastern cuisine.
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It is used to flavour salads, dips and relishes.
Add it to lemonade to zing it up and give it a pretty colour. Or simply add a couple of tablespoons to a glass to soda water/sparkling water to get a refreshing Pomegranate Spritzer! Top ice creams or mix into yogurt. The possibilities are so many!
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You need
8 cups or pomegranate juice
¼ cup of sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix the juice and the sugar and reduce to one fourth in a heavy bottomed pan alternating the heat between medium and high.
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This takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
Keep an eye and keep stirring, specially once the syrup starts thickening.
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If trying a small batch, reduce the time accordingly.
It thickens further on cooling so make sure you take it off the heat once it is reduced to a quarter of the original amount. Add the lemon juice about ten minutes before you finish reducing the syrup. Let cool.
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Store in a sterilized bottle or jar. Keep refrigerated at all times.
Use up within 4 weeks.
I used it to make Fattoush, a salad and Muhammara, a smoky red pepper and walnut dip. Also had an invigorating glass of Pomegranate Spritzer!

Recipe Source – Whats4eats.com
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Rose Falooda

Food is memories, food is nostalgia. Food takes you to places you haven’t been in a while. So here is a story from yesterday.
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Rose Falooda ki kathaa (story)
Had a small packet of sabja (also called basil seeds/tukmaria) seeds on the shelf and it brought on nostalgic cravings for Rose Falooda enjoyed at Bapu Bazaar during my Jaipur trips.
Started off making a thin Gulab flavoured Ras with some sevaiyaan (Vermicelli)
Made some rabdi.
Some jelly.
Bought a pack of vanilla ice cream.
And finally layered the goodies and generously topped with some chopped dry fruit to get his scrumptious all-in-one dessert. As I dug the long dessert spoon in and got a scoop out, I was in gastronomic heaven…
Needless to say dinner was skipped to enjoy this delight.
The things we foodies do!
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Here is what you need to make 4 generous servings of Rose Falooda (Can also make Kesar Falooda by replacing rose syrup with saffron or any flavour actually! I am thinking of a Thandai Falooda for Holi)

2 litres of milk
4 tbsp sabja seeds (soaked for an hour)
4 Tbsp vermicelli (you need falooda sev/noodles but I couldn’t find any so went with vermicelli. I wasn’t disappointed at all)
3 Tbsp rose syrup ( I used mapro, it comes with petals) You can add less or more depending upon how sweet you want the rose ras/syrup to be
½ cup of chopped dry fruits
1 tsp cardamom powder
Some tutti frutii
Some raisins
A 250 gms pack vanilla ice cream (Or any other if you like)
A pack of jelly, cooked as per instructions on the pack (I used Blue Bird Instant China grass milk jelly. I prepared it in water instead of milk)

Falooda is all about layering the components and there are no hard and fast rules about the components. You may add fresh fruit, jelly, ice cream,kulfi,saffron or any fruit pulp to give the desired flavour. The rose syrup is usually the bottom layer andmore often than not makes the last few bites unbearably sweet. I mixed it in the milk syrup/ras and was able to control the sweetness as well as ensure that the sweetness was well spread throughout the dessert.

Rose milk ras/syrup

Rub the vermicelli with about half a tsp of ghee and microwave it till it changes colour. Alternatively, roast it in a heavy           bottomed pan till it changes colour and gives a cooked aroma.
Bring one litre of milk to boil and add the vermicelli. Boil for about 10 minutes till the vermicelli is cooked and soft. Add           the rose syrup. Stir and let cool. Transfer to the refrigerator for chilling.

Rabdi/kulfi/thickened milk

Boil the remaining one litre of milk till it is reduced to about a thirds. Add a tablespoon of sugar if desired ( I usually skip as the rose milk ras is sweet enough). Add a tsp of cardamom powder. Let cool and chill to get rabdi. Alternatively, transfer to an airtight box and freeze to get kulfi. Either can be used in falooda.

Jelly
Prepare the jelly as per the instructions on the pack and cut into small cubes when set. Store in the refrigerator till it is time to assemble.

4. Chop fresh fruits and dry fruits as per choice and preference

To assemble the falooda
Add the soaked and drained sabja seeds to the rose milk ras. Mix well.
Take four tall glasses or goblets.
Spoon the cubed jelly pieces at the bottom of the glass.
Top that with a slice of kulfi or a couple of tablespoons rabdi.
Add the chopped fresh fruit (if using).
Pour the rose milk ras gently to fill the glass leaving about three inches of space on the top.
Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to top that.
Garnish generously with chopped dry fruit and raisins.
Add some tutti frutti.
Close your eyes and go slurp!
Remember to dig deep when you eat. You don’t wanna miss the layers of goodness.

PS- Sabja seeds are supposed to really good for health in a number of ways! For once we have a delicious delight that is healthy too 😀
There is great info here on the health benefits of these little pearls.
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The Pondicherry Challenge- Saffron Baguettes dunked in Coconut Milk Rose Basundi

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I’ll start with a confession. I am not particularly brilliant with fusion cooking. So we had this monthly challenge for February at Chefs across boundaries where Pondicherry inspired French-Tamil fusion cooking was required. I don’t know much about either of the cuisines. Fortunately, good old Google came to my rescue! 😀

They served little baguettes dunked into coconut milk at The Grand Maratha, Mumbai as dessert. And here is where I drew my inspiration from.
Made saffron-infused  and mildly sweet baguettes following the basic baguette recipe from here and served them with Coconut milk syrup/basundi.
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The challenge was put forward by the very talented Hetal Kamdar. Thanks Hetal, for helping me challenge myself.

For the baguettes you need
(This recipe makes 2 baguettes. I made four small ones)

Ingredients

2½ cup all-purpose flour/maida

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp instant dry yeast

¾  cup warm water

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp thick cream/malai for brushing the baguettes. (I replaced egg whites of the original recipe, with cream)

A generous pinch of saffron

 

Add sugar and yeast to warm water and rest covered in a warm place for 13-15 minutes till it is frothy.

Dry grind the saffron stands using mortar and pestle for a minute. Then add a few drops of milk or warm water and grind some more. This will help release the flavours from the strands of saffron. Add a tablespoon of water and mix well.
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In a large bowl take the flour and add salt and mix well.

Once the yeast is well bloomed, start with the kneading. First add the saffron water and then slowly the yeast and knead for a good 10 minutes.
Cover and let it rest in a warm place until the dough is doubled. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.
Roll it out into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Cut it into half to create two 8×12 inch rectangles. Starting with the 12 inch side, roll each rectangle up tightly. Flatten out air bubbles as you go and seal the ends.

Line a baking tray with  parchment paper or grease it. Place the rolls on the tray.
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This is how I do it to retain the shape of the baguettes. I save the rolls from the aluminium foil packs and use them as separators to keep the shape of the baguettes while they prove.
Lay the rolls on a large tray and cover them with butter paper. Before placing the baguettes on the butter paper, make sure the area underneath is well greased with oil. If it is not, the baguettes will stick to the paper.
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Make deep diagonal slashes across the tops of the loaves.

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Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. Lay them on a greased baking sheet.
Preheat the oven at 170C for ten minutes.Brush the tops of the loaves with cream/malai.Bake at 170C for 20-25  minutes or until golden brown.Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Slice the baguettes once cool and keep covered in an airtight box till futher use.
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To prepare the Basundi/coconut milk syrup
1 litre whole milk
4-5 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup first press coconut milk
A few drops of rose water/ kewda water

Take a litre of whole milk and reduce it to  about one fourth (one and a quarter cup) on high heat, stirring continuously. Add cardamom powder and sugar. Take off the heat and let cool. Add half a cup of thick first press coconut milk and mix well. Add a few drops of rose water/ gulab jal. Put it in the refrigerator to chill.

Prepare sugar syrup with a cup of water and half a cup of sugar. Bring the water and sugar to boil and take off the heat. Stir in half a tsp of cardamom powder.

To serve
Spread ghee/clarified butter on both sides of the sliced baguettes and toast them on the griddle or in the oven till they are crisp. Warm up the sugar syrup.
Give the toasted baguettes a quick dip in the sugar syrup and serve with chilled basundi.
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A Traditional Meetha from Pakistan and some Layered Fruit Dessert

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I am an unabashed Desserts person! Not in big quantities, but a little meetha at the end of meal is a must- have!
The food group, CaL, which I am a part of, is a great place for learning. New ideas, new cultures and fusion too! I came across this recipe on my dear friend Reem’s post. It a traditional meetha (dessert) from Pakistan which gives an interesting twist to the rice pudding (kheer) by adding some custard and khoya/maawa. It is a fellow CaLite Faiza Ahmad’s recipe.

I made some Layered Fruit Dessert with Faiza’s Traditional Pakisthani Meetha recipe as the base.
We had some of the dessert warm, in the traditional way and the left over was chilled and used to layer with strawberries, figs and bananas- both versions yum
Thanks Faiza and Reem  😀

I made minor changes to the original recipe and here is how I prepared the dessert.
(Serves 6)

2 litres of full cream milk
½ cup basmati rice, soaked for an hour and crumbled slightly
¾ cup sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder dissolved in ½ cup of milk
1 cup of Strawberries and bananas sliced
4-5 figs peeled and cubed
12-15 almonds slivered
2 tsp cardamom powder

Bring the milk to a boil and keep boiling on medium flame for 20 minutes. Keep stirring to avoid scalding.
Add the rice and cook on low flame for about 30 minutes till the rice is well cooked and mixed well with the milk.
Add the custard powder and milk mixture and keep stirring. Do not leave unattended at all as this burns quickly!
Cook for 7-8 minutes.
Add sugar and cardamom powder and cook stirring for 5 odd minutes.
Take off the heat and serve warm.
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To make the layered dessert
Chill the dessert.
Take wide and deep serving bowls.
Layer fruits and the prepared dessert.
Top with some fresh and dry fruit and serve.
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Here is Faiza’s recipe –
11/2 ltr of milk,
1/2 cup of rice,
3/4cup of sugar,
1/2cup of khoya,
1 tsp vanilla custard powder,
1tsp ilaichi powder,
1tsp kewra water,
Almonds for garnishing.
Boil the milk and add rice.cook untill rice become soft. Keep stirring.
Then add khoya and sugar.Keep stirring.
Now mix vanilla custard powder with 1/4 cup of milk and add this to the kheer.
At the end add ilaichi powder and kewra water.
Garnish with nuts but traditionally only almonds used. Let it cool on room temperature. It is usually served warm. It is a traditional meetha served in ‘matti ki katori’/earthen bowls at weddings.

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Gajar ka Halwa

 

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Nothing says winter like Gajar ka Halwa does! As soon as I see pretty red carrots at the greengrocer’s, carrot halwa calls out to be made. One needs the Indian carrots to bring out the beauty of this winter dessert. The orange ones don’t do any justice to it.
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Fresh red carrots slow cooked in whole milk and aromatically flavoured with cardamom. Eat is hot, eat it cold, pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or thick ‘rabdi’, the possibilities are endless. And all are delicious!

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My method is my Mom’s method, that of slow cooked goodness.

You need ( This recipe serves 8)
1 ½ kilos of red carrots, washed, peeled and grated
3 kilos of full-fat milk
½ cup of desi ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 tsp powdered cardamom
¼ cup cashews chopped coarse to garnish

Bring the milk to boil in a heavy bottomed pan/kadai.
Boil for 15-20 minutes and then add the grated carrot.
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Keep cooking till the milk thickens and the consistency is halwa/fudge like. Almost all the milk evaporates. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
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Add the ghee and sugar and cook stirring for another 10 minutes.
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Add the powdered cardamom.
Take off the heat.
Serve topped with cashews (or any other nuts of your choice)

Recipe Update ( To make halwa with khoya/mawa)
This time I tried making the halwa with khoya as there was some lovely fresh khoya available at the local dairy!

Take 3 kilos each of carrots and full cream milk and cook them together till the milk dries up.
Add half a kilo of crumbled khoya and cook for another 15 minutes.
Add half a cup of ghee and a cup of sugar ( add more if you want sweeter) and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Add 2 heaped tsp of powdered cardamom.
Garnish with slivered cashews/almonds and serve.

 

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Fresh Strawberry, Cookies and Cream Dessert and Ice Cream

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Some fresh juicy strawberries, a can of condensed milk and some whipping cream – so many possibilities! I had them all in the pantry yesterday and set about making this super simple dessert.
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You can play with whatever ingredients you have at hand- cookies, wafer biscuits, dry fruit or fresh fruit. Lots of choice in the way you’d like to serve it too. Simply whip the cream and layer the goodies in a glass or freeze and serve as ice cream. Add some hot chocolate sauce over a dollop of ice cream and it makes for a scrumptious dessert!
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This is how I made it
A litre of whipping cream
200 gms of fresh strawberries (pick the sweet ones),chopped fine
200 gms (a can) of condensed milk (I used Nestle)
15 Butter cookies, crushed
10 Tbsp Strawberry crush
8-10 sweet wafer biscuits

If  the whipping cream is frozen,leave it in the refrigerator section overnight to defrost. The cream should have melted but still be chilled.
Whip the cream for 2-3 minutes.
Add the condensed milk and whip till the cream doubles. (Do not over whip, else the cream will separate!)
Fold in the chopped strawberry pieces.
At this stage you could take dessert glasses and assemble the layers and serve it as it is. Start with lining the base with crushed cookies. Add a layer or cream. Top with some strawberry crush, repeat till the glass is three-fourths full. Top with some crushed cookies (can add nuts, chocolate flakes or mixed fresh or canned fruit).
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To make Ice Cream 
Whip the cream and condensed cream together and freeze for 2 to 3 hours. Remove from freezer, beat well till it becomes creamy. Repeat a couple of time if you have the time. After the last whipping, add the strawberry pieces.
Line an ice cream box with crushed cookies. Put in a few ladles of cream and layer with some strawberry crush and biscuits. Layer with more cream and repeat till the box is full. Top with crushed cookies and strawberry crush.
Freeze for 4-5 hours and serve with sliced strawberry and wafer biscuits.
I am sure Santa will love it too! Happy Holidays ❤
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– Any fresh fruit can be chopped and added
– Skip the fruit and add some crushed cookies and some chunks to get ‘Cookies and Cream’ Ice cream
-I keep the sugar slightly low in my desserts. In case you like them sweeter, add only 700 ml of cream to a can of condensed milk.

Nolen Gur Rasgullas and Ras Malai

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I love Nolen Gur desserts, be it rasgulla, rasmalai or the sandesh. I first had a taste of this delight when a close friend brought a box of liquid gur filled sandesh from Calcutta (Jolbhora) ! Man, they were magical! The beautiful earthy flavour and the pleasing sweetness of the palm date jaggery…simply delicious! (Pardon the overload of pictures! I was camera happy 😛 )

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This gur is available only during the winter in West Bengal as a thick syrupy liquid. It is dried and sold as blocks during the rest of the year. The husband was kind to bring me a block from one of his business trips to Calcutta.

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Gurer Rossogolla and Payesh aka Palm date jaggery sweetened rasgullas and rasmalai. This jaggery is a must try for it’s beautiful flavour! The basic recipes for the rasgulla and rasmalai are already there on the blog.

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I will list the changes I made-

1. Used curd to spilt the milk. I had to use 5 Tbsp for a litre of milk. Did not wash the paneer.
2. Added a tsp sooji/semolina to the paneer as it felt a little too moist.
3. Prepared the sweet syrup with 80 grams of gur/date palm jaggery and 5 cups of water.

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4. Kept adding ladles of water while the rasgullas cooked as the syrup gets thick quickly.
5. Rest of the procedure the same as given in the recipe.
6. For the Ras- Thickened 1 litre of milk, cooled it and added the remaining jaggery syrup.
Zero syrup left! All used up ..Joy!

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Diwali Special Besan Burfee or Mohanthal

My earliest memories of Diwali are those of a diya and mandana (the rangoli from Rajasthan) decorated home and big thaalis (large plates) of Besan chakki put to set a night prior to Chhoti Diwali/Roop chaudas. Also called besan burfee and Mohanthal, this is a rich and festive must-do confection for Holi and Diwali in my family. The recipe has been in my mother’s family for generations!

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So here goes

Besan/gram flour- 1 kg
Desi Ghee- 1 kg
Khoy/maawa,grated – 1 kg
Sugar- 1 kg
Cardamom, powdered- 1 tbsp
Slivered almonds- ½ cup
Water- to knead the besan

Add water gradually to the besan to knead a medium firm dough. Take pinches off the dough and flatten to make dumplings/muthiyas.

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Heat the ghee and fry then muthiyas on a medium flame for about 10 minutes.

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Break the muthiyas and grind them in the mixer.

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Run through a thick sieve.

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Add the sieved besan to the same ghee in which the muthiyas were fried.

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Roast on a medium flame for 10- 12 minutes till it begins to change colour.
Add the grated khoya and mix well.

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Meanwhile prepare sugar syrup with a kilo of sugar and with just enough water to cover the sugar (I added 220 mils). Make syrup of 1 ½ string consistency. To check the string consistency, dip a dry spoon in the syrup, wait for about 20 seconds and swipe your index finger on the spoon. Touch your thumb to your index finger repeatedly and see the strings that form. One clear string and a few small strings mean 1 ½ string sugar syrup.
After the khoya and the besan mixture is well blended,  (about 10 minutes after adding the khoya) turn off the heat.
Add the sugar syrup, cardamom powder and mix well.
Transfer to thaalis/ plates and top with slivered almonds.

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Leave to set overnight.
Cut into desired shapes and serve.
The above measurements make about three kilos of besan burfees and these stay good without refrigeration for up to a fortnight.
Happy Diwali 😀
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Guest Post- Semiyan Rabdi ot Vermicelli Pudding

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I am so honoured to be guest posting for my friend and very talented co-blogger Sujatha. She is my guru in South Indian cuisine and I follow her recipes with my eyes closed. Sujatha is an extremely helpful and warm person. Visit her wonderful blog Spices N Treats for a variety  of delicious dishes, some fabulous South Indian cuisine and admirable clicks!

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Vermicelli Pudding/ Semiyan Rabdi
Recently I had a taste of a new flavour of ice cream launched by Natural’s  on occasion on Eid and loved it! They call it ‘Sheer Khurma’ and it is smooth and creamy with the rich flavour of almonds and cashews. To capture the same flavours, I made some Vermicelli pudding , infused with the flavours of almonds and cashews roasted in desi ghee. Served chilled, it was almost like a creamy kulfi and I was happy to have achieved the desired result. The family approved too!!

Hop over to Sujatha’s blog here to find the recipe 😀

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