Monday, November 16, 2015

gudpaarey, gud waley shakkarpaarey | fried pastry coated with jaggery

Our Diwali has always been quite and this time was no exception. Yes we try and do the mandatory spring cleaning on the pretext of welcoming the Goddess Laxmi, get some earthen diyas and some tealight candles to light them on Diwali eve, and make some mithai for the prasad offering to Laxmi Ganesh puja. And that prasad offering is always a simple besan ka laddu and shakkarparey that my mother in law used to make.

diwali sweets

Arvind loves these sweet treats that are made so rarely now, not that I don't like these but someone else's choices are greater excuse. Over the years I have realised that our traditional sweets are way more healthy than the industrially made desserts and pastries, even though the calorific value may not be less.

Here is all my effort that took the shape of some sweets and savouries. The white coloured trail mix is a popped rice and peanuts trail mix with a tempering of chillies, curry leaves, cumin and hint of turmeric just like my mother used to make. We get popped rice (called Kheel or dhaan ka lava) only during Diwali season and I try and make the most of this opportunity. This kheel ki namkeen is quite an old favourite of mine. More about that later.

diwali snacks

Today I am sharing the recipe of jaggery coated shakkarparey. This is a deep fried pastry (fried dough) coated with fennel infused jaggery. It can be called as jaggery glazed fried cookies too.

I normally make these sugar coated shakkarparey but this time my brother came home and we started talking of the things we liked as kids. We were reminded of the jaggery coated miniature khaja (a deep fried flaky layered pastry) and a jaggery coated sev (finger shaped sticks made of chickpea flour) and of course these gudparey. You know we had a collective obsession about all things jaggery.

I changed my shakkarparey plan to gudparey conveniently and all of us loved them. When I posted the picture on Instagram someone asked for the recipe. The recipe in fact is quite simple but someone who wants to make it for the first time would need instructions. So here it is.

I made a lot of it, packed some for my brother and gave some to the house help and still have some to enjoy over a month. A couple of these is good enough to bring a rich taste. It is not like overly sugary stuff that makes you keep craving for it the whole day.

gud waley shakkarparey

(make more than a kilo of gudparey)

500 gm maida (or atta)
80-100 gm ghee (for shortening)
cold (not chilled) water to knead the dough
300 gm jaggery (see *note)
3 tbsp or 50 ml water
1 tbsp fennel coarsely pounded
ghee for deep frying (about 500 gm total, about 200 gm gets used)


Rub the 100 gm ghee in the maida till it looks like breadcrumbs and binds together when you press a portion of the flour in your fist. Now add cold water slowly and knead in quick movements. You have to be careful not to overwork the dough, just let it get together in a ball. Overkneading doesn't allow the layers form in the shakkarparey.

Now divide the dough into 4-5 parts and roll out 1 cm thick sheet. Cut the sheet into bite sized diamond shapes. Repeat till you use up the whole dough.

Heat ghee and deep fry the diamond shaped shakkarparey in batches. It has to be fried on low flame so the layers of the shakkarparey open up while frying.

Once all the diamond shaped shakkaparey are fried start working with the jaggery.

Chop the jaggery and mix with water and fennel in a wide and deep kadhai. Cook till the jaggery melts and starts frothing. You have to make *teen taar ki chashni* which means a thick syrup that is ready to crystallise. There is a way to check this stage of the syrup.

In the beginning when you let the jaggery syrup drop from the stirring ladle it drips in one thick stream, later it forms 2 thinner streams and when you cook it further for a few more minutes it starts making three thin streams dripping off the ladle, *teen taar ki chashni*. This is when you have to work quickly.

Pour the syrup over the fried shakkarparey and start mixing them in soft but quick movements. In about a couple of minutes the syrup starts getting dry and each diamond shaped shakkarpara gets separated from each other. Let it cool and then pack in air tight container after the initial round of tasting.

gud waley shakkarparey

We were four of us to do the tasting round this time. What pleasure when there are more people to enjoy the food being cooked. Festivals are just about cooking and eating together, praying together and welcome the changing season.

*Note : I have practice of making these and other jaggery or sugar coated snacks like this jaggery coated almonds, so I can handle an even and thin coating of jaggery over these. If you are making it for the first time it may not get evenly coated but there is nothing to worry about, just use more jaggery and keep stirring the shakkarparey or nuts being coated till they are all separated from the sticky drying jaggery syrup. The extra jeggery will remain in the pan that can be used to make some other dessert or simple maleeda.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

everyday subzi: palak paneer recipe | 3 ways to make palak paneer

I never thought I should be sharing a palak paneer recipe on my blogs. It was too ordinary everyday recipe that I thought everyone would know. After all you don't need any special skill to make palak paneer, that is what I thought. And then someone asked me whether I have palak paneer recipe on the blog when I suggested it in her meal plan.

palak paneer recipes

I realised such regional recipes have become popular because of their popularity in restaurants and people relate these recipes with heavy and rich curries they eat at those restaurants. The simpler homely deliciousness of palak paneer and such recipes stays limited only in their respective regions. That was enough reason for me to think about posting some of the very ordinary but popular recipes so whoever wants to try the homely version of palak paneer gets a chance to taste the original flavour. Although the original or authentic taste may be an illusion as every family has it's own recipe, my intention is to get the unspoiled taste of spinach and paneer in the curry.

Also, as I learn more about the complex recipes I realise we need to have exact and accurate recipes of the simpler food too as a simpler recipe is more likely to get lost for the lack of seriousness attached to it. If we know the simpler version we can always add on our own twist to it according to seasons and taste. Like I make a palak paneer tahiri sometimes with leftover palak paneer or add some sweet corn kernels to the plain palak paneer to make it more interesting.

Note that palak paneer can be made in a jiffy if the palak (spinach) has been cleaned, rinsed, chopped and steamed already. This is the way I store my spinach mostly. Once the greens are chopped and lightly steamed, it refrigerates well for 3-4 days and freezes well for months. I keep it in a container for 3-4 days.

Alternately, cleaned unwashed spinach also keeps well for a week, if wrapped in brown paper or cloth napkin. Just rinse, chop and use as required.

My simplest palak paneer recipe has been the most popular with any guests and even kids. Even my daughter used to love the simpler version of palak paneer. So the first recipe is the plain palak paneer that gets ready in just about 10 minutes if you have the steamed spinach ready in the fridge.

Note that you can use the stems of spinach too for palak paneer if the leaves are tender, but if the spinach leaves are mature and the stems are hard, it is better to remove the stems as it may make the curry slightly bitter.

Plain palak paneer recipe (no onion garlic)...

(2-3 servings)

2 cups steamed spinach
100-150 gm paneer cubed
2 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp cumin powder
salt 1/3 tsp or to taste
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup whisked fresh yogurt


Puree the spinach and keep ready.

Heat the ghee lightly and tip in the cumin powder. Pour the spinach puree as soon as the cumin powder starts sizzling. Take care not to burn the cumin powder.

Stir and cook till spinach puree starts bubbling.

Add the other ingredients and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve right away.

This recipe is a fasting recipe that we used to eat during navratri a lot. You can have it with plain boiled buckwheat groats or sama ke chawal too.

spicy palak paneer recipe 

This recipe takes about 15 minutes if you have the chopped and steamed spinach ready. This is more close to the restaurant style palak paneer but way more healthier homely version of it.

ingredients (2-3 servings)

2 cups steamed spinach
150 gm or more paneer cubed
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (or minced)
1/2 cup fresh raw tomato paste (freshly chopped tomatoes liquidised in mixie)
1 tbsp everyday curry powder (or curry powder of your choice)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder or to taste
dash of garam masala powder (optional, depends on what curry powder you are using)
2-3 tejpatta
1.5 tbsp mustard oil
salt to taste


Grease a griddle ( I use my cast iron dosa tawa mostly) with ghee or oil and grill the paneer cubes both sides till lightly browned. This step is optional but enhances the flavour, you can deep fry the paneer if you are making large quantity. Dip all the fried paneer cubes in a cup of hot water, cover and let it rest till required.

Puree the spinach and keep aside.

Heat mustard oil and tip in the finely chopped onion and fry till golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and salt, fry till oil releases.

Add the powder spices with a tbsp of water and bhuno on medium flame till it looks glazed.

Add the tomato paste and bhuno again till it dries up. Add the spinach puree and let it bubble once.

Add the fried paneer cubes along with the soaking water, simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve hot.

This version of palak paneer lends well to palak paneer wali tahiri. I usually make some extra rice and refrigerate the leftover. This way we can make a quick meal with leftover things. For a cup of cooked rice you can use up 1.5-2 cups of leftover palak paneer, just mix both the rice and palak paneer well and let it cook covered on very low flame for 10 minutes or so. In our case it is usually half the quantity and I cook it till it start looking like this.

I usually make a quick stir fry with this kind of meal too. Here it is a radish stir fry we love a lot. Will share the radish stir fry recipe soon.

Another palak paneer version is my way of making creamed spinach mostly. It is a practical way to eat greens and make it workable for a roti subzi kind of Indian meal too.

Creamed spinach with paneer recipe (creamed palak paneer) ...

(2-3 servings)

2 cups of chopped steamed spinach (or raw chopped)
1/4 cup cream (heavy or light as you wish, I use whatever I have or add 2 tbsp of malai)
100-120 gm paneer cubed in small pieces
salt to taste
black pepper powder to taste
pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
pinch of garlic powder


Basically everything can be put in a pan and cooked till the spinach wilts and the cream get a greenish hue if you go by what I do. But wilting the spinach forst with added salt and then adding everything else and cooking it all covered for a few minutes does the trick. That's all.

The 'curry' style creamed spinach and paneer is so convenient for me sometimes it saves me on hectic mornings. We have had it with plain boiled rice, roti, paratha and even with plain boiled pasta. Try it once and you would know what I am talking about.

Hoping that making palak paneer will not be difficult any more,e if you have palak paneer in restaurants all your life. Try making these versions and tell me which one you liked more. Each one has a different flavour and you would plan these with different kind of meals once you start making them in your own kitchen.

The home made paneer could be of great help if you wish to keep the fat content of paneer in check.