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“Srimati Radharani received from Durvasa Muni the benediction that whatever She cooked would be sweeter than nectar. That is the special feature of Radha’s cooking.” (Caitanya Caritamrita Antya 6.116)

This was our offering  to Srimati Radharani on Her Birthday!

Rose cookies: I got introduced to this not so sweet treat when i visited my teacher’s house for Christmas. Hailing from Kerala they had delicious plum/fruit cake and these crunchy achappams or rose cookies. Too shy to eat this crunchy treat  in front of my teacher i tried to eat them as quietly as possible..Later i told my mother about this and asked her if she could make them for me. My mother is a sport especially when it comes to cooking. Even after years of cooking she still takes interest in learning and trying a new recipes. My sister knowing my penchant for cooking scoured Bangalore and got me a achappam mold to make this and recreate the memories for my daughter. Prasadam and egg free!!

For the achappams

acchu means mold and appams are cakes. Rose cookies because shape assumes that of a rosette.

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of rice flour about 2 teaspoons of black sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup of coconut milk

3 tablespoons of sugar

oil for frying

Make the batter by mixing all the ingredients except the oil. The batter should be the consisitenecy of heavy cream. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Dip the achappam mold in hot oil and then dip three-fourths of the mold into the batter. Take care not to coat the mold fully. Dip the mold coated with the batter into the oil,the oil should be on medium heat. Gently try to slide the achappam into the oil with the help of a skewer stick. After a couple of minutes using a slotted spoon lift the achappam and drain on a paper towel Each time the mold has to rest in hot oil before dipping into the batter. Serve this dish to the Lord with spiced milk for a nice tea time snack.

Sandesh

oḿ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaḿ

pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate

pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya

pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate

TRANSLATION

The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.

This is the invocation prayer from Sri Isopanishad, and further as we read about the pastimes of Sri Nityananda Rama we can understand this principle of the Lord being the complete whole. In the spiritual world, math is done differently where  even though one subtracts some item, the complete whole stays the same..The sandesh story from Nityananda Caritamarita.

Shri Gauranga asked, “Nityananda, where are Your clothes?” Nityananda replied, “Yes yes.” Shri Gauranga said, “O Gosai, why are You doing this?” Nityananda replied, “I can’t eat today.” Shri Gauranga then said, “I’m asking something and why are You answering something else?” Nityananda replied, “I went there ten times.” Shri Gauranga being angry said, “It’s not My fault.” Nityananda replied, “Your mother is not here.” Shri Gauranga then said, “Please get dressed.” Nityananda replied, “Yes, now I’ll eat.” Nityananda Prabhu was fully maddened in the love of Shri Gauranga. He heard something and answered something else. He kept on laughing. Shri Gauranga then got up and personally put clothes on Lord Nityananda. Nityananda, the son of Padmavati, kept on laughing completely lost in trance.

Seeing the wonderful nature of Nityananda, mother Saci simply smiled. She considered Nityananda as her own son, Visvarupa. She heard from everyone that Nityananda was non-different from Visvarupa. She alone often saw this with her own eyes. She, however, did not reveal these secrets to anyone. She showed spontaneous affection for Nityananda. She treated both Nityananda and Visvarupa equally.

After coming to his senses, Nityananda dressed Himself properly. Mother Saci then gave Him five pieces of sandesa. Nityananda, however, ate one of them and threw the other four pieces away. Mother Saci then said, “What will You eat now? Nityananda replied, “If you want more, you’ll surely receive more.” On entering her kitchen, Mother Saci found to her surprise that those same four pieces were there inside the kitchen. Mother Saci then murmured, “These sweets were thrown far away. So how is it they’re here inside the kitchen?” In jubilant wonder, Saci brought these sweets and offered them to Nityananda. To her astonishment, she saw that Nityananda was eating those very sweets. Mother Saci said, “My son, where did You get these sweets?” Nityananda replied, “At first I threw them away. But seeing your distress, I brought them back.” Seeing this wonderful act, mother Saci thought, “Who is there who is unaware of the glories of Nityananda?” She then said to Nityananda, “Nityananda, why are You deceiving me? I know You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So please remove the influence of Your illusory energy from me.”

The qualities of Nityananda are unfathomable. They are a source of pleasure for the devotees and the cause of distress for miscreants. Even mother Ganges runs away from that sinful person who dares to blaspheme Lord Nityananda. Lord Nityananda, who as Lord Ananta Sesha who holds the universes on His hoods, is the king of the devotees. This is my heart’s desire and prayer to the feet of the Vaishnavas. May Lord Nityananda, who is Lord Balarama, become my life and soul.

Sandesh can be flavored in many ways. In order to make this popular sweet, only two ingredients are needed:milk and sugar. Okay maybe three, add yogurt or lemon juice to the list.

Make chenna or cheese by curdling milk with yogurt or lemon as mentioned in the recipe for rasagolla.

For 1 cup of chenna cheese, add 1/2 cup of fine sugar. knead the cheese and sugar on a clean surface till the chenna is smooth and not grainy. If one uses the blender to achieve the texture the mixture turns liquid, therefore its better to excercise the hand. Take the fine cheese and sugar mixture in a thick bottomed pan. Setting the flame at medium, constantly scrape and stir the cheese and sugar mixture, till it pulls away from the sides of the pan grease a plate or tray with ghee and pat the sandesh mixture on to it. Sprinkle with kewra or rose flavors, Cut into squares or pat it into sandesh molds. You can then use food color and paint the individual pieces for a more personalized offering. In case of the sandesh cake, I just used a cake pan and made a huge sandesh cake by patting the sandesh into it, overturning the tray and Gauranga! there appeared the sandesh cake. Then we topped it with thin slices of mango using a fondant cutter..

Cakes

I love baking and trying out new things since its a lot easier. For the cinderella cake mentioned else where in the blog, I used a basic sponge cake recipe, topped it with fondant frosting and used food color to paint on  it as you would on paper or canvas.

For the basic sponge cake

you will need

3 cups of all purpose flour

vanilla flavoring or any other flavoring of your choice

sugar about 1 1/4 cups

10 Fl oz of water

3 tablespoons of cornstarch

3/4 cup of butter or sunflower oil

oil for greasing the pan flour for dusting the pan.

3 teaspoons of baking powder

Melt the butter and add the sugar to it, cream the butter and sugar, add the vanilla extract or any other flavoring of your choice. Dissolve the corn starch in water and beat together with the sugar and butter or oil mixture. sieve the flour and baking powder together and add to the liquid constantly stirring and mixing it. pour the batter in a prepared cake tin and bake at 350 deg centigrade in a preheated oven till toothpick inserted in it comes out clean. Double or triple proprtions as per requirement.

 first frost the cake and plaster it with buttercream frosting. Then for the fondant you will require

1/3 cup of softened butter

1/3 cup of  light corn syrup

a pinch of salt

desired flavor

1 lb of confectioners sugar

food colors and cornstarch for dusting. You will find some good results for laying, trimming the fondant etc. online with a few quick searches. The most important ingredient is devotion and the key secret is to pray to Campakalata Sakhi who is expert at making desserts for the pleasure of Sri Radha Madhava and fashioning things using her hands. With this attitude to please devotees and the divine couple everything seems to become easier and an inner intelligence guides you to become more creative and explore various possibilities. I hope this helps my readers.

Chakkara Pongal

Ingredients:

1 cup rice

3/4 cup split moong dhal (yellow)

3 cups jaggery

1/4 cup ghee

2 tablespoons cahew bits

1 tablespoon of golden raisins

cardamom powder 1 teaspoon

a pinch of camphor

about 1/2 cup of milk.

Boil the dhal and the rice in a pressure cooker with about 3 cups of water till soft mushy and well-cooked. Dissolve the jaggery in  a very little water and cook till all the jaggery has dissolved and the liquid starts to boil. Add the pressure cooked rice and dhal to the jaggery syrup, add the milk and cook till rice absorbs the jaggery syrup and becomes thicker. Add the ghee, powdered cardamom and powdered camphor. Heat two more tablespoons of ghee, add the cashew bits and raisins, fry till cashews turn golden brown and raisins plump up. Add this to the pongal.

This is made in the month of Marghazi or Mārgaśīrṣa, as the unmarried girls of Aayirpadi go to wake up Krishna and His consort, desiring to serve Them. After a month of rigorous fasting the girls led by Andal treat themselves to this Pongal at the end of the fast after they obtain Darshan of their beloved Lord. In one of the Paasurams/verses the girls request the Lord for jewelry, fine clothes and say that they would enjoy milk rice as follows “The milk rice should look like as if being taken out after having dipped in a trough of ghee. While relishing it, the ghee should drip down the wrist till the elbow.”

  Till today the traditional Iyengar households make this offering of sweet pongal and venn or salty pongal and offer it to the Lord in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa. For more information on Andal and Thiruppavai check out J:www.ibiblio.org/sadagopan/ahobilavalli/thiruppavai.pdf+thiruppavai&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Sandesh cake

My computer fails to recognize my camera, as a result of which i cannot upload the pictures and blog until i figure out how to set things right or get myself a new camera. As of now this blog has been pushed to the backburner of my kitchen :-(. But I’ll leave you with a picture of a Sandesh cake which we made for Gaura Purnima, knowing that Nimai loves sandesh. This was captured by another devotee who took pictures of the festival that day and thats how I have it.

Sandesh Cake

Set Dosa

This Dosa treat comes from Karnataka. Usually served as a set of 4 dosas topped with golden ghee, accompanied by vegetable sagoo and coconut chutney, is an offering meditating on the Lord’s pastimes as Krishna, in Udupi, a coastal town of Karnataka and the origin of may mouthwatering dishes.

Soak 3 cups of rice

1 cup of thick poha/chipped rice

1/4 cup of urad dhal  and 1/2 teaspoon methi seeds for about 4 hours. Grind to a smooth batter and allow to ferment overnight. Add salt and a pinch of soda the next day. Heat the pancake griddle/tava. Apply a thin coat of oil with the help of a paper towel. Pour the batter using a ladle, on to the griddle to form a 4 inch circle, thicker than a regular dosa. Pour a teaspoon of oil alongside the circuference of the dosa. Cover and cook till base is browned. Flip the dosa, drizzle some more oil along the circumference and cook for 2-3 minutes. In between dosas, wipe the griddle with a damp paper towel or cloth and continue making the dosas in the way mentioned. Offer to the Lord with the above mentioned side preparations.

Udupi Krishna with Ananta Sesa.

Ekadasi Gulab Jamuns

This treat is totally geared to make the little ones to take to honoring ekadasi prasadam. So, if you are hit by an ekadasi bullet then you can rest assured that you will take the observance of Ekadasi eventually..

Ingredients:

For the dough:
1 cup milk powder
1/4 rajgira (amaranth)/potato flour
1 teaspoon cardamon powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fresh ghee
1/4 cup mashed potatoes
3 Tablesp. warm milk
fresh ghee/olive oil for deep-frying

Syrup:
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water

Syrup: Boil sugar and water till the sugar dissolves. Set aside once dissolved. Add the cardamom powder.

Dough:
Sift milk powder, potato/amaranth flour, and baking soda.
 Rub ghee evenly into milk powder.
 Knead in mashed potatoes.
Knead in warm milk until a soft dough forms. Roll into smooth  balls without any cracks.

 Turn ghee/oil on a low heat. Gently move the balls around,stirring from time to time.
When balls are deep brown, remove from heat and drop them in the syrup.

These cheese biscuits are my contribution to the world of recipes and is posted for Akhila mataji’s Gaura Nitai deities.

Ingredients:

2 cups of All purpose flour

1/2 to 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese finely grated

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tomato blanched and pureed

1 teaspoon of asafoetida

2 teaspoons of powdered black pepper

2 teaspoons of jeera/cumin seeds

1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

1.5 teaspoons of salt

about 2 tablespoons water to knead the dough.

Make a well in the flour, and add all the ingredients and water if necessary to make it into a smooth dough. Dust the countertop or a wooden board with flour,roll out the dough into a rectangular sheet. Using a pizza cutter cut the sheet into triangular pieces. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Lay the pieces of biscuit on a baking tray or cooking sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown at the edges.

Hunky Dory

I have no clue what happened to my blog. After my last posting everything is hunky dory, I have to sit down and figure out what went wrong!

Our Friend and Godbrother Kalpavriksha Prabhu left his beautiful Kanai Balai and Sadbhuja deities under our care for about 2 weeks. In these 10 days I have baked like crazy. One crazy offering was a cake with Cinderella decoration. I could almost picture Them curl Their mouths into a “Eww! Do we have to eat this?” and then I remembered the verse from Brahma Samhita and begged Them to please just glance over it and bless the little girl who wanted a cinderella cake for her birthday. Cinderella liberated!

angani yasya sakalendriya-vrtti-manti
pasyanti panti kalayanti ciram jaganti
ananda-cinmaya-sad-ujjvala-vigrahasya
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
TRANSLATION
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, whose transcendental form is full of bliss, truth, substantiality and is thus full of the most dazzling splendor. Each of the limbs of that transcendental figure possesses in Himself, the full-fledged functions of all the organs, and eternally sees, maintains and manifests the infinite universes, both spiritual and mundane.

The Cinderella cake

Sandwich cake with strawberry filling and carob frosting, this was for a 50 year old!

My own creation, cheesecuits!

blackberry cashew tartlets

strawberry cream cheese cups

Braided Bread

Marbled bread

And I’m still baking!

These chaat cups are edible, making them environment friendly..While I was making the persimmon and all other the tartlets, I came across recipes for savory tartlets, then I found this chaat recipe on the internet and could not resist trying them and offering Them to my deities. This is adapted from http://www.tarladalal.com

For the katoris
  1/2 cup plain flour (maida)
  1/4 cup butter, softened
  1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon chilli powder1/2 teaspoon powdered ajwain seeds
For the filling
  1 cup mixed sprouts (boiled)
  1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  a pinch asafoetida (hing)
  2 teaspoons chilli powder
  2 teaspoons coriander-cumin seed (dhania-jeera) powder
  1/4 teaspoon turmeric (haldi) powder
  1 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder)
  1 teaspoon chole masala (chana masala)
   
  salt to taste

Combine the flour, butter and salt and make a stiff dough using a little water. Knead very well.
 
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions.
 
Roll out each dough portion into a sheet of 6 mm. (¼”) thickness.
 
Cut rounds of pastry using a large 50 mm. (2″) diameter cookie cutter and press on oiled upturned muffin trays.
 
Prick all over with a fork.
 
Bake in a hot oven at 230°C (450°F) for 10 to 15 minutes.
 
Cool the tart cases.The the recipe calls for cooking the filling I just mixed up the ingredients, topped with crunchy sev and served it with green cilantro chutney and sweet and sour tamarind chutney.

 

Kanchipuram Idli

Kanchipuram is a town in South India, famous for the rich hued beautiful silk sarees and also for this Idli. This Idli is served to Lord Varadaraja in Kanchipuram and few lucky souls get a chance to partake the prasadam because of the limited quantity. Unlike the regular idlis these are spiced and cylindrical in shape because the moulds used are steel glasses..Sri caitanya Mahaprabhu is said to have visited this town during His South India tour.

For the batter.

1 cup of par boiled rice

2 cups of plain rice, i used basmati because thats what I had

1 cup of split urad dal

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds/jeera

1/2 cup of yogurt

2 tablespoons of ghee/clarified butter

2 teaspoons whole pepper corns

1/2 teaspoon hing/asafoetida

salt.

Dry grind the rice into a coarse powder. Soak the urad dhal for atleast 3 hours and grind into a fine paste. Mix the two and make a thick batter. Allow it to ferment overnight. The next morning add the yogurt, salt, asafoetida, cumin, pepper corns and water if needed to make it to idli batter consistency. Melt the ghee and add to the batter. Pour the batter into oiled moulds.I used the masala/spice box cups. Steam in a covered pot for 15-20 minutes, test by inserting  a skewer stick, if it is dry to touch, the idlis are ready. Serve it to the Lords with sambar and chutney.

This cookie is healthy and tasty as well.

The Ingredients:

1/2 cup of Ragi/Millet flour

1/2 cup of wheat flour

1/2 cup of butter

1/3 cup jaggery; grated

1/4 cup of sunflower seeds

1 teaspoons finely powdered cardamom.

Mix together the butter and grated jaggery till thoroughly mixed. Add the sunflower seeds and  the flours, mix well, knead, pich off small portions of the dough, flatten it into a cookie. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees farenheit, in a pre heated oven  for about 20 minutes till the edges turn golden brown in color

Carrot Spice Donut

Too bad I do not have the cake donut pans..Anyway I modified the original donut recipe and made my own one with carrot spice and an orange cinnamon glaze. This was made for our Giriraja, on the occasion of an annakut celebration. The carrots were the last from our flower bed garden..So i can say these were organic carrot spice donuts.

Dough:
2 tablespoons rapid raising yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 teasp. salt
2 Tablesp. yogurt
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons spice powder ( a mixture of fennel seeds, pepper, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg)
3 3/4 cup white flour/ whole wheat flour

oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients together and form a smooth pliable dough. Allow to rest for an hour or more till the dough doubles in size. Punch down the dough and knead on a floured surface. Roll into a rectangular slab atleast quarter inch thick. Using a donut cutter shape into donut rings. In the meantime heat the oil on a medium flame. When hot, slide the donuts into oil and fry till golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.While still hot dip in carob glaze or sugar glaze.

Carob Glaze:
1/3 cup melted butter
4 Tablesp. carob powder
2 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 teasp. vanilla essence
4-6 tablespoons hot water

for the orange spice glaze:

2 cups icing sugar
6 tablespoons warm orange juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder.

I added some orange color.



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