Monthly Archives: August 2012

Mishti Doi (Bengali firm yogurt dessert)

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Last week I tried 2 new dishes to celebrate Gokulashtami/ Janmashtami. The first was the Thatai, for a savory snack and then I decided to accompany it with a sweet dish. I know, Mishti Doi is is not a conventional gokulashtami preparation, but it is a great dessert nevertheless. 🙂 It is one of the flagship Bengali desserts from and my must-have-favorites at K.C. Das. What makes this a great dessert is that it can be easily made with commonly available ingredients, almost like making regular curd/yogurt at home. I started out with the recipe (version 2) from Dishesfrommykitchen, a very beautiful food blog. But I replaced most of the sugar with honey and made a couple of changes. And as you can see from the pictures below, the H and I have been trying to get a little creative before we dug into the cups. I was really happy with the outcome of this dessert, both the taste and our presentation, hence proudly presenting to you, the Mishti Doi.

Mishti Doi – sweet yogurt dessert

The Recipe:

Source- inspired from Dishesfrommykitchen
Active cooking time – 20 minutes
Wait time – at least 6 hours
Serves – 2

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups milk (I used low fat)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup fresh yogurt/curd
  • Saffron for decoration (optional)

How to make it:

  1. Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pot, until it reduces in quantity (to almost half its initial volume).
  2. As the milk boils, heat a flat pan and add the sugar into it. Keeping stirring in medium flame until the sugar caramelizes (turns golden brown with a distinct aroma). It should be done in around 5 minutes.
  3. Once milk has reduced in volume, add the caramelized sugar and honey and mix well, and turn off the heat. Taste check the milk for sweetness.
  4. Let the milk cool down a little. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 deg F.
  5. Once the milk is warm, not hot, add the curd into it and stir the milk well. Pour it into your little serving cups.
  6. Place the cups in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, not longer. Then immediately turn off the oven, and let the cups bake in the warmth of the oven for at least 6 hours. I left the light in the oven turned on after the oven was turned off.
  7. After the waiting time, check if the yogurt has set and then refrigerate until you serve them. Decorate and serve.

Additional notes:

1. The amount of yogurt you add into the milk can be modulated based on how quickly you want the dessert ready. The quantity of yogurt I have mentioned in this recipe is great to get the mishti doi set in 5-6 hours. If you’re not in a hurry, or live in a very hot place then you can slightly lesser yogurt.

2. I mentioned right in the beginning that I used low fat milk, mainly because that was what I had in my refrigerator. I was afraid it wouldn’t set well or be as creamy as whole milk, but it turned out firm, smooth and creamy.

3. I used honey in the recipe to make it a little more healthy. I also used organic raw sugar which was caramelized. Both together added that hue of caramel color to the doi in the pictures.

4. The slightly uneven bubbly edge in the pictures is due to the air bubbles while pouring the milk into the cups. Pour the milk slowly and carefully to avoid the formation of air bubbles.

5. I would have loved to make the mishti doi in earthen-ware, but I had to be resourceful with my kitchen so I used regular chai-cups and they were pretty and presentable as well. 🙂

Baked Thatai/Nippatu

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I’ve been waiting with eagerness the whole of last week to share this recipe as a ‘gokulashtami’ / ‘janmashtami’ special and here goes! I love savory crunchy tidbits synonymous to the festival season in India. But what I don’t like is the fact that most often they are all deep fried. Thatai in Tamil or Nippatu in Kannada is a snack made from rice flour and some spices and shaped like flat little plates, and hence the name in Tamil. Now that I have started expanding my cooking capabilities, I decided to be a little adventurous and tried a healthy baked version of the traditional Thatai. Of course I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to ruin it. But it turns out that baked Thatai is really simple to make. It doesn’t use too much oil and can be just as crispy and crunchy as the deep fried version.

For the first time, I made sure to take snapshots of all the steps. So this post has step by step illustration of the recipe. 🙂

Crunchy baked Thatai

The recipe:
Source – my Paati (maternal grandmother)
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Baking time – 20 minutes
Makes around 20 mid sized Thatai

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup rice flour
2 tbsp Urad dal (roasted and ground into a flour)
3 tbsp grated coconut
2 tbsp Channa dal (soaked in water for 30 minutes)
2 tbsp peanuts (roasted and crushed into big bits)
1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 tbsp oil (to mix into the dough)
A few chopped curry leaves
Salt to taste

2-3 tbsp oil for baking

How to make it:

1. Lightly roast the urad dal for a couple of minutes. Let it cool and then grind it into a smooth flour.

Lightly roasted urad dal, waiting to be ground

2. Mix all the ingredients together.

All the ingredients, ready to be mixed

3. Add a little water and knead it into a workable dough.

The Thatai dough

4. Let the oven preheat to 350 deg F and grease the baking tray with 1 tbsp of oil.

5. Now to flatten out the thatais, break lime sized balls from the dough, roll it into a smooth ball. Add a drop of oil on your palm and start flattening the ball. This step can be a little tricky and the thatai might start sticking to your hand. If it does so flatten it out on your palm just a little, then transfer it to the baking tray and then flatten it out further. (I moved them from the plate to the tray just before baking it.)

Thatai – before baking

6. Fill out the baking tray neatly and place it into the preheated oven. After 10 minutes, take them out and flip them over and continue to bake them for 10-15 more minutes, until reddish brown in color. (You can reduce the temperature to 300 F after the first 10 minutes.)

7. Let them cool over some paper towels and then store in an airtight container.

Additional notes:

  1. By adjusting the level of urad dal flour, you can play the level of crispness vs. brittleness. We like it slightly brittle at home, giving our teeth something to work on. So I used a tad lesser urad dal flour.
  2. I had a little trouble getting the edges of the thatai to be neat and circular. My mother explained that this could be because the rice flour wasn’t smooth enough. So it might be useful to seive the flour if its not too smooth.
  3. I was worried about the thatai sticking to the tray while baking, but it was so easy to remove, thanks to the lack of any gluten in the mixture. 🙂

Palak Thambuli (Spiced Spinach Yogurt Purée)

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For those of you not familiar with dishes from Karnataka, presenting to you the humble thambuli. This is a kind of raita containing a ground mixture of peppercorns, cumin seeds and some greens or roots like ginger. It is a staple in many homes in coastal Karnataka and regions in the western ghats, forming the first course of the meal. We were introduced to this dish at a very young age from my aunt who hails from Sirsi and from then it became my favorite, so my mum made it very often. This is usually eaten with rice right at the beginning of the meal and it’s known to help in digestion and has other medicinal values based on the type of thambuli. I’m posting this recipe following a request from a close friend, Shri. 🙂

Now that we’re done with my history with thambuli and other trivia, let’s move on to the recipe. 🙂 I made Spinach thambuli this time.

Spinach Thambuli

The Recipe:

Source – My aunt (Dodamma)
Cooking time – 10 mins

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup or a handful of spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coconut, grated
  • 1 cup fresh curd (preferably cold from the fridge)
  • 4-5 peppercorns, or 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1 tsp ghee or butter (you can use oil if you don’t have or don’t like ghee)
  • salt to taste

For the seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp ghee or oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • A few curry leaves

How to make it:

  1. Heat the ghee in a small pan and add the whole peppercorns, cumin seeds, and dried chili.
  2. Once the chili is roasted, add the chopped spinach and cook for around 3-5 minutes until the spinach is done. Let this mixture cool.
  3. Once slightly cool, blend it along with the coconut until it turns into an almost fine pulp.
  4. Now pour in the curd and add salt and give it one whizz, just sufficient to mix it.
  5. Heat a little more ghee in the same pan used earlier, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the curry leaves bits and hing and season the thambuli. Serve chilled along with rice right in the beginning of lunch.

Additional thoughts:

  1. It is suggested to use ghee or butter because that adds a special aroma that becomes characteristic to this dish, so try using it and you will notice a nice waft in the air and in your thambuli. 🙂
  2. A variety of thambuli can be made by substituting spinach with other ingredients like ginger, Brahmi (a herb supposedly good for the brain), doddapatre (another commonly grown herb in south India, known as omavalli in Tamil. I’ve  linked it to its closest cousin on wikipedia), and kachisoppu (another garden herb with berries, for which I couldn’t find a link). If you’ve come across other types, please share them with me. I’ll be happy to try it sometime.
  3. By the way, thambuli is pronounced as <thumb>(like the finger) and <uLi> (touching the tongue to your upper palette when you say the ‘L’ sound). 🙂
  4. Lastly, the picture shows some spring onions in the background. They are only present to beautify the photo and are not actually used in this recipe. 😛