This month was a festival special, we had many recipes to chose from and had to make 2 off them, something that you have not cooked before. I chose churma ladoo and Modak from Mints. I made these for Ganesh Chaturti.

Churma Ladoo by Tarla Dalal (Shared by Lata)
These were super easy to make and we loved them b ut the next time I would just decrease the amount of seasame seed, I am not a big fan of them. Other than that this is a ladoo which I will make more often now.

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta), coarsely ground
1/4 cup grated dry coconut (copra)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (til)
3/4 cup (150 grams) jaggery , grated
2 tablespoons ghee

Other ingredients
ghee for deep frying
poppy seeds (khus khus) for coating the laddus


  1. Make a stiff dough of the whole wheat flour using 1/2 cup of water. Knead very well.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.
  3. Shape the portions into the shape of your fist and press with your fingers in the centre of each portion to make an indentation.
  4. Heat ghee in a large kadhai and deep fry the dough portions on a very slow flame for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until they are golden brown in colour.
  5. Drain on absorbent paper and allow them to cool.
  6. Pound in a mortar and pestle to coarse pieces. Grind the pieces further in a food processor to get a fine powder (churma).
  7. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pan, add the grated coconut and sesame seeds and saute for about 2 minutes. Remove and keep aside.
  8. Heat the jaggery with the remaining tablespoon of ghee and 1 tablespoon of water on a medium flame till the jaggery dissolves. Cool slightly.
  9. Mix the ground churma, coconut and sesame seeds with the melted jaggery.
  10. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  11. Divide into 10 portions and shape into rounds. Roll each laddu in poppy seeds.
  12. Store the laddus in an air-tight container.

Modak by Mints

We usually make the fried version of Modak, so I tried this one. Anything fried is always tastier, though this one was healtier we enjoy the fried one. I had to finish these myself, DH would not eat them he just took one as prasad. I think I did not do it right too, the outer layer was thick. I just would heat it in the microwave for 30 minutes with some ghee and then it would taste better.

2 cups freshly grated coconut (can use frozen unsweetened coconut)
1 cup jaggery (grated)
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp cardamom powder
one pinch nutmeg (optional)
2 tbsp water (mom uses milk)

1 cup rice flour
1.25 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tbsp oil

  1. Roast poppy seeds in a small skillet and let it cool down. Grind it coarsely and keep it aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom kadhai mix all the ingredients for stuffing except poppy seed powder and let it sit for 15 min. Now start heating the mixture over medium heat. In about 10-12 minutes, the mixture starts boiling and stuffing will turn yellowish brown and will be sticky. Take the kadhai off the heat, add poppy seeds powder and mix well. Set it aside to cool down.

The Cover
  1. Take vessel that has tight fitting cover. Start boiling water in that vessel, add salt and oil.
  2. When water starts boiling, lower the heat and slowely add rice flour. Please do now dump everything at once.
  3. Start mixing vigourously with a heavy spoon.
  4. Now close the lid and take the pot off the heat. Let the covered pot cool down for 15 minutes or so.
  5. Then with wet hands, mix the dough properly. It will warm so be careful and use cold water to keep your hands from burning but do not use too much water.
  6. If you think the dough is little sticky, I will suggest add 1-2 tbsp maida to it and make the dough.

Making Modak (Final Product)
  1. Start boiling water in a large vessel that can fit a steamer. I use a stainless steel steamer that fits on a pressure cooker and water doesnt touch the steamer and use stainless steel plate to cover it.
  2. Oil the steamer and set it aside.
  3. Make about 20 balls of the dough and 20 parts of the stuffing.
  4. Start making small puri with the dough ball on a oiled paper/aluminum foil.
  5. Keep one part of stuffing in the middle of the puri and gather the puri gently to make shape like modak. You can see the picture here.
  6. You will have to handle the dough very gently. Follow the step to make remaining modaks.
  7. Now dip each modak in cold water and put it in the steamer.
  8. Put the steamer on boiling water and cover it. Let the modaks steam for 20 minutes on medium to high heat.
  9. Take the steamer off the vessel and let it sit for 5 minutes before removing moodakd from steamer.
  10. Traditionally, modaks are served with ghee but it can be served with coconut milk.

We usually make this in the morning for breakfast with idli or Dosa, at home we prefer the dalless version in the morning since it is light and you dont keep burping the whole day long. And also since it is so easy to make. Dont worry if you do not have few ingredients, if you have sambhar powder then the rest is all upto you. Sometimes I add some vegetables, like carrots, beans, eggplant and at time I just add baby onions. If you dont have baby onions regular onions work perfectly fine too. The amount of tomatoes you use is upto you, how tangy do you like your sambhar, my husband loves it really tangy, spicy and a little sweet (khatta meetha).

1/2 cup small onions / regular onions sliced
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp chana dal
1/4 tsp urad dal
few curry leaves
1.5 tbsp sambhar powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp tamarind paste(adjust to taste)
salt to taste
fresh coriander leaves

For the Ground Masala
1/2 cup onions, sliced (regular)
1/2 cup vegetables of your choice(optional)
1.5 cup tomatoes, cut into quarters (you can adjust this to your taste)
4-5 pepper corns
1/4 inch cinamom stick
2 - cardamoms
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
2 green chilies
1 tbsp grated coconut (optional, can add more if you want)

The Ground Masala

  1. Heat 1 tsp oil.
  2. Add the peppercorns, cinamom stick and cardamom.
  3. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilies.
  5. Cook till the onions and transparent.
  6. Add the tomatoes.
  7. Cook till oil seperates and the tomatoes are cooked well.
  8. Add the coconut.
  9. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  10. Grind to a smooth paste.

The Sambhar
  1. Heat 1 tsp oil.
  2. Add the mustard seeds, channa dal and urad dal.
  3. Once they splutter add the curry leaves.
  4. Add the onions.
  5. Add the sambhar powder. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuosly.
  6. Add the ground masala. Cook will oil seperates.
  7. Add salt and 2 cups water. If using vegetables add them at this point.
  8. Bring to a boil.
  9. Lower the heat and simmer till the onion and vegetables (is using) are cooked.
  10. Add sugar. Add more water to get the right consistency.
  11. Mix the tamarind paste in 1/4 cup of water.
  12. Add the tamarind water. (taste before adding)
  13. Adjust seasonings.
  14. Bring to a boil.
  15. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

This month Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes . She has chosen a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment.

Though this recipe asks for fish, it is so versatile. I used a medley of vegetables, artichokes and paneer (Cottage Cheese). Once you have the Sofregit ready its easy to cook this and a nice meal in itself. The rice I used was Sona Masoori and did not get to make the allioli, I will try to make it and post about it soon. Thanks Olga was this lovely recipe.

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
1 Chopping Board
1 knife
1 medium saucepan
1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
1 glass of white wine
2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
“Sofregit” (see recipe below)
300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional


  1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
  3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
  4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
  6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes. (I added the vegetables after browning the artichokes and cooked for another few monutes.)
  7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 Bay leaf
Touch of ground cumin
Touch of dried oregano

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Pinch of salt
Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar.
  6. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  7. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)
Cooking time: 3-4 minutes
1 small egg
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
Salt to taste

  1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
  4. Little by little, add what's left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
  5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
  6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
  7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
  8. Add salt to taste.

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