Carrot Halwa also called as Gajar Ka Halwa, is a delicious sweet prepared on festivals and such special occasions in India. Being prepared using healthy and rich ingredients like carrot, milk, sugar, Khoya, Ghee, dried fruits and nuts, it tastes delicious! 
Carrot Halwa is one of our family favorite sweets. My daughter is not crazy about eating the sweets..but she loves to have this Halwa anytime! Since its made of all healthy ingredients, its good for kiddos health as well. Adding of khova is not a must for this Halwa, but it increases the taste. I had tried adding some quantity of paneer when I had a small quantity of Khoya with me. It was truly delicious and nobody could  make it out that I had replaced some quantity of Khova with Paneer!
There are different versions of preparing Carrot Halwa and here is the one which I usually follow. Hope you like this recipe :)

Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hour
Servings: 10 - 12
Difficulty level: Difficult

  • Carrot - 1 kg
  • Sugar - 800gm (adjust according to taste)
  • Salt - a big pinch
  • Milk - 1/2 litre
  • Ghee / clarified butter - 6 tbsp
  • Khova / Khoya - yield from 1 litre milk (or around 200 gm)
  • Cardamom powder - 1 1/2 tsp
  • Raisins, Almonds and Pista - handful

  • Wash the carrots cleanly and grate them using a vegetable grater. 
  • Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Add the grated carrots and saute them for 5 minutes or till the raw smell is gone. 
  • Add half litre of milk to the carrot mixture and cook it partially covered. Stir it regularly.
  • When the carrot mixture is cooked and the milk is almost evaporated, add sugar and pinch of salt.
  • You can notice the mixture becoming watery after adding the sugar. Continue cooking on medium flame, it will thicken after some time.
  • When the mixture becomes thick, add the Khova and mix it nicely. Cook it for 10 - 12 minutes and turn off the flame.
  • Finally add the cardamom powder and mix well. 
  • Garnish with ghee roasted raisins, and pieces of almonds and pista.
  • Serve it warm or cold.

Khoa or Khoya, also called as Mawa, is a product of milk which is widely used in Indian cuisine. This is prepared by boiling the milk till it gets thick. For preparing Indian sweets like Halwa, Barfi, Pedha, Gulab Jamoon, etc., Khoa is used to make them rich in taste.
In India, Khoya is easily available in most of the supermarkets and grocery stores. When I was in Bangalore, I always used the store bought Khoa for my sweets. I had tried preparing Khoa at home sometime back and it was really good. These days, I am making Khoya at home whenever needed. Preparing Khoa at home is not at all difficult. The only thing is it takes lot of time to prepare.
Here is the recipe to prepare your Khoa at home..

Time required: 1 hour
Difficulty level: Medium

Full cream milk - 1 litre

Transfer the milk into a wide pan with thick bottom and bring to boil. I prefer using non-stick pan to avoid milk sticking to the bottom.
Keep stirring the milk with a spatula occasionally. 
Slowly, the water content in the milk gets evaporated and milk starts thickening. 
Keep stirring the mixture, and when it starts leaving the bottom of the pan and comes to ball stage, its time to turn off the flame.
Once it cools down completely, knead the Khoa nicely. Transfer to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Use when required.
Khoa gives a richer taste to Indian sweets like Barfi, Halwa, Gulab Jamoon, Pedha, etc.

When its summer, something cold would be perfect to have when we feel thirsty. I prepare varieties of milkshakes, juices, smoothies, Lassi, etc. healthy n refreshing drinks at home using fresh ingredients. Since its the mango season now, we all love to have mango milkshake and juice whenever mangoes are there at home. Mango Milkshake is my daughter's all time favorite. She will be happy to have this drink anytime! 
Try this easy and delicious milkshake and let me know how you liked it!

Time required: 10 minutes
Cooling time: 1 hour
Servings: 3
Difficulty level: Easy

  • Ripened mango (medium size) - 2 nos
  • Sugar - 5 tbsp (adjust according to taste)
  • Full cream milk - 300 ml (see Tips)
  • Water - 100 ml
  • Salt - a big pinch

  • Peel and chop the mangoes roughly into medium size cubes.
  • Blend the mango pieces along with sugar and pinch of salt into fine paste. Add little milk if required.
  • Once it becomes a fine paste, add the remaining milk and water and adjust the consistency. 
  • Blend it for one more minute so that everything is combined well.
  • Check and adjust the taste. 
  • Serve it chilled.

  • You can reduce the quantity of milk by adding more water.
  • If the milkshake need to be served immediately, use the chilled milk for preparing it!

Fenugreek / Methi seeds, even though used in very small quantities, are very much necessary for our day-to-day cooking. Without fenugreek seeds, preparing Dosa, Sambar Powder, Methi Powder, etc. will not be perfect. These seeds are having some health benefits as well. For all sorts of hair problems, fenugreek seeds works as a good remedy. Not only the seeds, fresh fenugreek leaves are also good for cooking. Roti, Paratha, Stir Fry and various rice items can be prepared using Fenugreek / Methi leaves.
Sometimes, I need fresh methi leaves for my cooking, but we get them very rarely in the convenience stores here. So, since the summer has started, I am growing the fenugreek leaves in our backyard and using the same for cooking. Every week, I will sow the seeds in 1 - 2 rows and within the next 3 weeks, it will be available for cooking. 
Both fenugreek leaves and dill leaves can be interchanged for some variety of dishes. I had posted the Dill Leaves Stir Fry recipe long back. The same way, you can prepare the Fenugreek Leaves Stir Fry. Since fenugreek leaves are slightly bitter in taste, it tastes better if we add little more sugar to this stir fry. 

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 - 3
Difficulty level: Easy

  • Fenugreek leaves - 3 big bunch
  • Urid dal - 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Sambar powder - 2 tsp or according to taste (see Tips)
  • Sugar - 1 tsp or to taste (see Tips)
  • Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Grated coconut - fistful
  • Oil - 4 tsp

  • Wash and clean the fenugreek leaves. Chop them finely including the tender stems. 
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add urid dal, asafoetida and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start crackling, add the sambar powder followed by chopped fenugreek leaves.
  • Add salt, sugar and amchur powder according to your taste. Cook the mixture half covered.
  • Saute the mixture regularly. Cook it for around 7 - 8 minutes or till its dried out fully and looks too dark. 
  • Add grated coconut and cook for 2 - 3 minutes more and switch off the flame. 
  • Serve this delicious stir fry along with Roti, Chapathi or rice.

  • Any type of sambar powder, saarina pudi or palyada pudi can be used for this recipe. 
  • Since the fenugreek leaves are bitter in taste, I have made this stir fry slightly sweet in taste. Those who won't like sweet taste, can add less sugar for this recipe.

If there are any special occasions like birthday or anniversary of near and dear ones, it calls for a celebration. Baking a cake at home is not a big deal, but decorating the cake needs some thinking and more efforts. Depending on the type of cake, we need to decide which type of frosting will be suitable.
I tried chocolate frosting for my chocolate cake few days back. Chocolate cake with layers and yummy was divine! You can remember my earlier recipe of Egg-less Chocolate Cake which I shared sometime back. I just prepared 2 chocolate cakes in that way, layered and decorated them and finally, here is the outcome!

Time required: 45 - 50 minuted
Cooling time: 2 - 3 hours
Servings: 10 - 12
Difficulty level: Difficult

- Egg-less chocolate cakes - 2 nos (prepare and keep them ready)
- For Frosting:
  • Unsalted butter (at room temp) - 1 cup
  • Icing sugar - 3 cups (adjust according to taste)
  • Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
  • Dark chocolate - 200 gm
  • Milk - 1/2 cup
  • Big pinch of salt
  • Chocolate shaves - as needed (see Tips)
  • Chocolate coated peanuts (or any other chocolate bytes) - few

- How to prepare frosting:
  • Melt the dark chocolate and allow to cool.
  • Beat butter using a beater or hand mixer till creamy. 
  • To this, add melted chocolate, salt and 1 cup of icing sugar. Beat them for a minute.
  • Add 2 - 3 tbsp of milk and one more cup of sugar. Beat the mixture again. 
  • Continue adding milk followed by sugar till you are done. 
  • Adjust the consistency and taste.
  • Beat the mixture for 2 - 3 minutes or till its light and creamy. 

- How to assemble the cake:
  • Slice each cake carefully into two layers. You will have 4 separate layers in total now.
  • Keep the first layer on the cake base or on a plate. Cover it with one layer of chocolate frosting.
  • Put the second layer of cake upon that and cover with frosting.
  • Fix all the four layers in the same way and cover the top and sides with frosting.
  • Decorate the sides with chocolate shaves. Arrange the choco-coated peanuts / your favorite chocolates on the top. Sprinkle some chocolate shaves as you like.
  • Refrigerate the cake for 2 - 3 hours before cutting. 

  • Dark chocolate which I used for frosting was sweet and hence, 3 cups of icing sugar was enough. If using unsweetened chocolate, add more sugar accordingly.
  • You can prepare the chocolate shaves easily at home. Refrigerate the chocolate block and once it becomes really hard, peel them using a peeler. Your chocolate shaves are ready to use!

There are some well known areas for shopping in Bangalore and one of them I like most is Gandhi Bazar. Evening time will be really good to roam around there, and our shopping will be complete only after having some food, preferably chat food. You can see so many chat shops serving various chat food to the never ending crowd. I had been to Gandhi Bazar with my sister quite a few months back. She knows that area very well and we did plenty of shopping. We were really tired and feeling hungry. She took me to a chat shop in Gavipuram Area. Mango - Sweet Chat from that shop was her all time favorite. So, we ordered the same enjoyed eating. It was so good and so yummy! 
Unripened Totapuri mangoes are perfect for this chat recipe. Grilled sweet corn and finely chopped mangoes are really a wonderful combination. This chat food has become one of our favorite snacks for the evenings. Here is the recipe of Mango - Sweet Corn Chat for you!

Time required: 20 - 25 minutes
Servings: 3
Difficulty Level: Medium

  • Sweet corn cobs - 2
  • Totapuri mango (medium size) - 1
  • Green chilli paste - 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
  • Lime juice - for taste
  • Salt - for taste

  • Roast the corn cobs on direct flame. I did this on my stove top. Separate the kernels when its still hot. You can do this job easily using a knife. 
  • Chop the raw mango finely. I prefer cutting them to the same size as of corn kernels. 
  • Combine corn kernels and chopped mango in a mixing bowl. Add salt, chilli paste and lime juice according to taste. 
  • Toll them quickly and serve immediately! 
  • This delicious chat can be served as salad for the lunch or as evening snacks. 

When its mango season, raw mangoes are generously used for cooking in most of the Indian homes. Raw mangoes are perfect for preparing tangy and spicy Indian side dishes like Chutney, Gojju, Appehuli, etc. Here in Australia, whenever we get raw mangoes, I will prepare these yummy dishes. These days, frozen raw mango cubes are available in Indian convenience stores and hence, we are able to enjoy raw mango dishes whenever we feel like. 
During my last visit to native, I had got a nice tip from one of my relatives. She told that she will cut the raw mangoes into cubes in mango season and preserve them in the freezer. They will be good for months and when needed, they can be used for cooking. Hope this tip will be useful for you as well!
I had shared another version of Mango Chutney long back. That was using green chillies and, here is one more version of Mango Chutney. For this recipe, we use dry red chillies and it tastes delicious with the nice aroma of fenugreek and asafoetida. Try this Mango Red Chutney with rice and let me know how you liked it!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Servings: 5 - 6
Difficulty level: Easy

  • Raw mango, chopped into medium size cubes - 1 1/2 cup
  • Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Dry red chillies - 2 or 3 (adjust according to taste)
  • Fenugreek seeds - 3/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida / Hing - big pinch
  • Cooking oil - 3/4 tsp
  • Sugar - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Water - 3/4 cup approx.
For Seasoning: Oil - 1 tsp, Mustard seeds - 1 tsp, Pinch of asafoetida

  • Heat 3/4 tsp of oil in a small wok. Add broken red chillies and fenugreek seeds. Once they are roasted nicely, add big pinch of asafoetida and turn off the flame. 
  • Grind the roasted ingredients along with grated coconut, mango cubes, salt and sugar into a fine paste. Add water as required while grinding. But don't make it too watery.
  • Check and adjust the taste of Chutney. 
  • Heat 1 tsp of oil for seasoning. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds start crackling, turn off the flame. 
  • Add this seasoning to the Chutney. Serve with rice and see how delicious it is!

  • Peel off the green skin of mango if it tastes bitter. If not bitter, no need to peel off the skin.

Happy new year to everyone! I was planning to post this recipe on the first day of new year. But it was time to enjoy the long holidays and I couldn't find any time for blogging. We were busy with shopping and roaming around here and there. Holidays got over like that and now, I am back to my routine!
First recipe for this year is dedicated to all the chocolate lovers! I have adopted this recipe from a fellow blogger's site. Few years back when I started my baking journey, I used to keep browsing for varieties of cake recipes. I think, this was the first chocolate cake I prepared. It was so yummy and we just loved it! Then onwards, I have prepared this soft and delicious chocolate cake many a times. I have tried few other versions of chocolate cake recipes, but very much addicted to this recipe.
This recipe is from Raks Kitchen. She has a wonderful collection of recipes with mouth watering picks. I have tried this recipe exactly the same way she wrote and didn't make any changes. Try this yummy cake and let me know how it turned out!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 35 - 40 minutes
Servings: 10
Difficulty level: Medium

  • All purpose flour / Maida - 1 1/2 cup
  • Cocoa powder - 3 tbsp
  • Baking soda - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Water - 1 cup
  • Oil (vegetable oil or sunflower oil) - 1/4 cup
  • Lime juice / vinegar - 1 tbsp
  • Vanilla essence - 1/2 tbsp

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. 
  • Grease the baking tray and dust with some flour. Dusting with flour is to avoid the cake sticking to the vessel.
  • Combine all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Sieve it once so that everything will be mixed properly. 
  • Powder the sugar and mix it with water. Once sugar is diluted, add lime juice, oil and vanilla essence. Mix it well.
  • Fold in the flour mixture into this water and mix it nicely. 
  • Transfer the batter onto the greased baking tray and bake it for 35 - 40 minutes. To check whether its done or not, insert a tooth pick upto the bottom of the cake. If batter is not sticking to the toothpick, its clear that the cake is done. 
  • Allow the cake to cool down. Then, cut it into pieces and enjoy!

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