Failed Attempt: Aate ka Halwa - what to do?

How can anyone NOT get wheat flour halwa right?  Me.  It is highly possible with me.  Halvas and I don't go along well together.  I have at least abandoned Moong Dal Halwa for the rest of my life.  After 3 trials and failures at it, I think that halwa has tested my patience enough.
what to do if aate ka halwa does not turn out right?
But after making this aate ka halwa, instead of throwing it away I called my mom up and told her "something about this aate ke halwa does not feel right, it is kind of stretching, and is chewy, not halwa-like, I think I poured in milk before roasting the wheat flour properly, and I have already added sugar and almonds to it - what should I do now?"

Chawal ki Kheer Recipe | Rice Kheer Indian Dessert | Rice Pudding Recipe

Despite the limited ingredients we bought in the first weekend we moved to California and the limited kitchen items in the corporate accommodation we were in last September, I wanted to make something sweet for Alok for his new job.  What sweet dish or dessert could I make with the most basic ingredients on hand?

Can I make any dessert with poha and sugar?  Or what about peanuts and sugar?  There was rice in the pantry. OK.  And milk in the refrigerator, OK.  And sugar on the counter top, OK.  Coincidentally, I had carried saffron with me for the fear of spoiling it in during shipment and in storage, and had some walnuts that I had packed to munch on in the flight.

There - chawal ki kheer (rice pudding) was my solution.
Rice Kheer - Chawal ki Kheer

food photography: small changes, small differences - by a Beginner, for the Beginner, part 3

You learn a little more each time you see gorgeous food photos, and you take a new step of improvement each time you click more food photos.  You try to do things better than the previous shot.  Some times, you make changes on your camera, some times you make changes to your set ups, and some times you make changes to your own position.

Here are some examples of how small changes in a setting, small changes in your angle, or small changes in the set up brings small differences in the photos.

Have you played "spot the differences" when you were kids?  I want you to do the same - look at each picture and comment below the one major difference you notice in each photo.

Gangaur Pooja | Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan

This year, the main day of the Gangaur festival was on 13 April 2013.  Since the last two years in Texas, I celebrated it at someone's place who hosted the Gangaur pooja and pot luck lunch.  This year, fortunately I found someone here in California who did the same. 
Gangaur Pooja - Isarji and Gaurabai
I honestly do not know any of the rituals, stories, songs, and procedures for Gangaur pooja.  However, because I was asked by a reader to write about Gangaur - in this post, I have listed the basic Gangaur rituals that my mom wrote to me, and all that I have witnessed in the last 3 years.

cream of cauliflower soup recipe

At dinner when I served this soup to Alok, I asked him to guess what soup it is.  He could not guess.

Here is a recipe of vegetarian cauliflower soup I am sharing with you.  At least try halving the recipe and make the soup today.  Then let your family guess; let's see if they can figure out the taste of cauliflower in this creamy cauliflower soup.

cream of cauliflower soup

Eggless White Bread Recipe using Milk (Joy of Cooking Recipe)

I used to be scared of working with yeast or making bread at home.  In fact, I was petrified.  Did not know how yeast would work.  Thought making bread was too much of a work.  Was not confident at all to even try it at home.

But one day I thought of getting over my fears of yeast and making bread from scratch.  I bought Fleischmann's active dry yeast, followed the bread recipe from the book Joy of Cooking, and never in my dream could have imagined baking bread at home was so satisfying! 

The smell of freshly baked bread was so divine.  And I realized yeast was really not a big deal.  Neither is baking bread at home so difficult.  And since then, I never bought home any kind of ready made bread from store.

Eggless White Bread Joy of Cooking Recipe
Eggless White Bread - Joy of Cooking Recipe

Lauki Chana Dal Recipe | Bottle Gourd and Lentil Recipe

I have a feeling bottle gourd (lauki) is one of the most ignored and rarely used vegetables.  There just don't seem to be enough ways to use them.

bottle gourd, aka lauki, ghiya, or doodhi

If I have to come up with names of some lauki dishes - the main ones I can think of are lauki ki kheer, lauki ke kofte, lauki ki sabzi, and lauki chana dal.  Which other lauki recipes are you aware of?

Tomato Chutney, Cilantro Chutney, Mint Chutney, Peas Chutney

Four Green Chutneys

Use them in chaat for papdis, spread them on bread for sandwich, dip samosas or kachoris in them, have them on the side while eating rotis or parathas – chutneys are condiments that add the tang and the zing to something simple.

There are numerous variations, combinations, and textures of chutney recipes.  Some chutneys require slight sautéing then grinding whereas some ground raw.  Some are fruit-based, vegetable-based, or a mixture of both with various herbs and spices.  Some chutneys have chunks, some are dry, some chutneys are thick and creamy, whereas some are thin paste.  Some are sweet, salty, spicy, or tangy, and some are all in one.

10LB (4.5KG) bag of carrots

I tried to deal with my "carrot situation".  Because each time I opened the refrigerator, this 10LB (4.5KG) bag of carrots stared at me squinting its eyes, and wondering what to do with me.  Oh wait, it was vice versa.

huge bag of carrots from Costco

Dahiwale Aloo Recipe | Potatoes in Yogurt Gravy Recipe

In the past my mom used to spoil me with wide variety of options, dishes, and cuisines every day; but I can’t do that for myself very often.  It's too much work.  So I mostly settle with plain ol' potatoes for my regular meals.

 Potato is cooked almost every other day in my kitchen.  And I pair it with different vegetables, different spices, and different dry/gravy versions each time.  This recipe for dahiwaale aloo (potatoes in a yogurt gravy) is pretty simple.

Dahi ke Aloo - Potatoes with Yogurt

Aloo Beans Sabzi - Stir-fried Potatoes and Green Beans

For some strange reason, I am mostly - MOSTLY - cooking more of dry sabjis than gravy sabjis.  I don't know why.  May be laziness or time constraints in grinding everything in a blender?  But that is a silly reason.  Until the time I figure out why I end up making more stir-fry's and less gravy dishes, here is a simple dry aloo beans ki sabji (stir-fried potatoes and green beans) recipe.