February 20, 2016

Ripe Plantain Cookies

Being from Kerala, we love plantains and can eat it in all ways it can come, raw/ripe, fried/steamed/raw/cooked/baked/mashed and in all shapes :-). It is by far the most versatile of all foods.  Plantain is a wholesome food by itself and we try to include it in many recipes. I was looking for a good wholesome no-flour cookie and so figured I should try it with plantain. This is not your regular cookie which is aerated with the addition of leavening agents. This is more of a dense energy-bar-style cookie. It has a character and chewiness, kids (including the big ones at home ;-)) love it and when you add the fact that it does not have any flour, is gluten free and no added sugar it makes it even better. Feel no guilt on eating more of this. Yes, it is a whole meal by itself, imagine having a meal just with cookies :-). Serve this as a to-go breakfast or as an after-school snack. 

  • Well ripe plantain - 1
  • Well ripe banana - 1 
  • Almonds - 1 cup (recommended soaking for 8 hours)
  • Raisins - 1 cup (I used Hunza golden raisins) 
  • Cardamom - 3-4 (skinned)
  • If using soaked almonds, drain them well from soaking liquid.
  • Slice plantain and banana into about 1/4 inch thick slices.
  • Heat your oven to the lowest temperature (mine is at 170 deg F)
  • Arrange the plantain/banana slices and almonds on a baking sheet lined with silicon or parchment paper. 
  • Let them bake (dehydrate) for about 3 hours flipping the slices half way thru. Keep an eye on them after 2 hours.
  • You are looking at dehydrating them to almost dry but still slightly soft, and not completely dry and crispy. 
  • If you are not soaking almonds, just place them along with the dehydrating banana/plantain slices during the last 30 minutes. Let everything cool down.
  • Add almonds and cardamom to a food processor and process till you get a coarse powder. Add raisins, dehydrated plantain/banana slices and continue till everything is processed well and form a 'dough'.
  • It might be a little sticky, so you might want to grease your hands with a pat of coconut oil to work with it.
  • Make about 15 small balls out of the dough. Press each one between your palms to form a cookie shape.
  • Arrange them on the same cookie sheet and bake at a low temperature (200 deg F) for about an 1 hour. The cookies will be dry but still soft. If you want drier crispier cookies, you might want to bake them for some more time.
  • Cool down completely and store in an air tight container.
  • Enjoy!!

PS: Don't get discouraged by the total time it takes to make these. I just use my oven cook-time setting for each of the baking sessions. So you don't really have to hang around in the kitchen for the whole time. 

February 14, 2016

Carrot Halwa 'Cheese'cake

East meets west on Valentine's Day  ... Here is a fusion of 2 classic desserts, one from India and one from the US. Walk into any punjabi (or most indian restaurants outside of india) restaurant and you cannot miss 'Gajar ka halwa' (Carrot halwa). The same is true of New York and its quintessential Cheesecake.

I have used the carrot halwa as the base for my 'cheese'cake made with wholesome ingredients such as cashew nuts, coconut oil and raw honey. For the Valentine Day, I have modified it by adding some beets to the carrot giving it a natural red color. Try it and you will really feel the halwa and cheese melting in your tongue with their unique tastes.  Happy Valentine's Day 

For carrot halwa base:

  • Carrots - 2 medium
  • Beets - 1 small 
  • Organic unrefined cane sugar - 1/2 cup 
  • Cardamom - 4-5 pods (skin removed and powdered)
  • Homemade non-dairy milk - 1/2 cup (recipes here
For 'cheese'cake:

  • Raw cashew nuts - 1 cup (preferably soaked for 3-4 hours) 
  • Coconut oil - 1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice - 1/4 cup
  • Raw honey - 1/4 cup

Directions for carrot halwa:

  • Grate carrots and beets.
  • Start cooking on medium heat covered stirring frequently. In about 10 minutes, they should nice and soft.
  • Add milk and cook till veggies are cooked well and moisture is completely absorbed for   5-8 minutes. 
  • Add sugar and continue cooking, stirring continuously. Once halwa is soft and easily separating from the pan, switch off the flame.
  • Grease 2 4inch spring form pans with coconut oil. 
  • Divide the halwa into 2 parts and fill into the pans and spread evenly.
  • Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
Directions for 'cheese'cake:

  • Blend everything in a high speed blender till creamy.
  • Divide into 2 parts and fill in to spring form pans prepared with carrot halwa base.
  • Freeze for several hours to set. (I usually make this previous day)
  • Take out and remove from spring form pan. 
  • Slice and let it thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy in good company !!!

..  and here is the original carrot halwa version ..no beets here..

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