Monday, April 30, 2012

Foodbuzz 24x24 : Home Away From Home : Food is the Connection

I'm so glad to be doing a Foodbuzz 24x24 post this month. 24 bloggers create 24 different meals in the same 24 hours, and post on the same day, each having different themes, and different approaches. It's a very fun event, one that I'd been seeing about a lot, and now I'm so glad to be one of the participants.

So you guys know it's been about 6 months since I left India to study, yeah? This has, so far, been one of the best years of my life. I'm at a prestigious University, I'm learning more than I could imagine, I've found the nicest friends ever, and me, the person who burnt rice during her first attempt at cooking, can now make entire meals, that actually taste pretty good. I've become independent, my outlook on life has changed, and I can't wait to apply all of this in my real life, to work, to become productive.

But as much as I love this, there's one thing that always gets me back, the one thing that doesn't let me give my 100% here. Memories of home. They are difficult to deal with. Most of us have left home for the first time ever, and even of those who haven't, being halfway around the world, with a 9 hour flight separating home and here, is difficult to manage. One day when I was feeling low, I thought of planning this event. where we cook food from home, the food is one of the things we miss the most, of course. Having food from home just lifts me up, way too easily. I really do think food is the connection, it is the best thing to happen to this planet for sure.

Anyway, I got a few people into this, called people, and set this up for a Sunday brunch, since one of the facilities on campus for us is the use of a kind of hall, with a patio and fully furnished kitchen and servery. There were a lot of different people making a lot of different food, but on the basic menu was Biryani, and 3 Indian desserts - Gulab Jamun, Jalebi and Halva. It was a mess, as you'll see in the pictures, with so many people doing so many things, but it was one of the best days ever, I had such a great time. At home, I would never make desserts like Gulab Jamun and Jalebi, since they're a little involved, and are available way too easily anyway. But here, since I was craving a good Jalebi, I decided to make it, desserts was my department. And it was actually quite easy to do, surprisingly.

IMG_1738 2
This was just half of the shopping we'd done for this one day. Realised that while I love planning, it isn't really that easy!

There were desserts, there was biryani.

There were random cocktails being made by different people -
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And ofcourse, there was the Gulab Jamuns
Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamuns
Adapted from Ria's Collection
Yield - About 20-24

For the dumplings
1 1/4 c milk powder
1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cold butter
A few drops of cold milk (not more than 1/4 cup)
Hot oil for deep frying

For the sugar syrup
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 water
5 green cardamom pods, crushed  [optional, but recommended]

Instructions -
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk powder, flour and baking soda. Now add the cold butter, and rub it well into the flour mixture, till the butter is fully incorporated.
  2. Now add the milk, a little at a time, rubbing it well into the dough after each addition, until the dough forms a cohesive ball, that is smooth yet still firm. It should not be crumbly.
  3. Form into small balls [a little larger than a penny sized], and rub well between palms until the large cracks disappear. 
  4. Cracks will result in the dumpling breaking in the oil, but small cracks are normal, as you can see, in both pictures. The picture below gives you a reference for both size, and acceptable crack limit, if that's a thing. No that isn't me, that's a friend that was helping, I'm the one whose hand you can see to the left.
    Gulab jamun
  5. Now heat the oil for frying in a pan, the oil should be deep enough so that the dumpling can be easily submerged. The frying is the important part, else the centre does not cook. You need to give it a good 5-7 minutes to heat up on the stove, and then test by dropping one ball into the oil, along the sides of the pan. It should go to the bottom, and rise up to the surface slowly, taking about 10 seconds. [Next time I make this, I'll try and get temperatures for you].
  6. Once the oil is ready, drop in about 4-5 dumplings, fry, and remove on a paper towel. Don't worry if they look black-ish, that's their color, they're ok as long as they don't burn. Fry all the dumplings, allowing the oil to heat back up at intervals.
  7. For the sugar syrup - Now prepare the sugar strup by boiling together all the ingredients. Keep this on a low flame.
  8. Drop the fried dumplings into the sugar syrup, and leave for 30 minutes to an hour.
  9. Serve hot, with ice cream if you want, or just plain.

And my favorites, jalebi were also made. These actually go well along with gulab jamuns, since both need hot oil and sugar syrup to be made.

Note : Show Me the Curry have a video demonstration of this recipe, so if you're feeling intimidated, you could watch that.
Yield - About 25

1 tsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups [240 g] flour
1/8 tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp yoghurt
3/4 cup warm water
Oil for deep frying

For the syrup:
1 1/4 cup [300 g] sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp lime juice
1 drop red food colour
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Instructions -
  1. Add the yeast to the 1/4 cup warm water, and set aside for about 10 minutes, till frothy and active.
  2. Mix together all the remaining ingredients. Add the yeast mixture. Place the bowl of this mixture, covered with a lid, into another larger bowl, filled with warm water. Set aside for about 45 minutes to rise.
  3. Once the 45 minutes are up, heat the oil, and prepare the syrup - just boil everything together, and reduce to simmer once the sugar is melted.
  4. Now give the batter a mix, and pour into a sauce / ketchup [any type of squeezy bottle with about a cm wide nozzle]. This might not be too easy to do, since the batter is sort of dough-y, but it pours in eventually.
  5. Using the squeezy bottle, pour the batter into the oil, moving your hand in a circular motion to make a spiral, and after about 4 rounds, move the bottle towards the centre of the jalebi to close off the end, and stop.
  6. Flip to fry the other side, and once the bubbling reduces, transfer to the waiting syrup. Flip, and remove, making sure to not allow them to stay in the syrup for more than 30 seconds, or they will turn soggy. Transfer to an empty plate. Serve immediately
  7. Once you've got the hang of the process, you can do 4-5 at a time.
I also made some halva, which is standard and easy for me, but I seem to have lost the pictures. You can see pictures, and my tried and trusted recipe at my earlier post [I didn't bother with the colors this time]. Halva is standard, easy Indian dessert, one that's actually made in every household.

Well. That was a long post. Hope I didn't lose too many of you mid-way. Try these recipes, they're desserts that every Indian loves, and it feels just like home. I know I felt amazing after accomplishing these recipes, and eating all of the things was reward enough :)


  1. Are these not the two most delicious Indian desserts? :D I love them both (actually I love all Indian desserts!

  2. What a marvelous party!! How fun to bring some of your favorite dishes from home and share with your new friends!! Excellent 24 x 24~

  3. Great Party! Nothing beats than cooking meals that you grow up with..we have special attachment to that food, and I so love your idea! Well done, thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you. That was exactly what I was going for, nothing beats food from home.

  4. What a surprise, Avanika! I see something different this time :) How is the cooking coming along? The biriyani looks awesome so do the desserts :) Thanks for linking up!

    So did you like the jamuns?

    1. I know, right. I'm slowly learning to cook, never thought I would do that. Yup we loved them, even though nothing was perfect considering so many people were all making different stuff at the same time, but it was really really good.

  5. Great party! Glad I stopped by, I had the Gulab Jamuns at a restaurant and loved them but I didn't know what they were called. Food from the home is always the best :)

    1. Hi April. Welcome to the blog :)

      Gulab jamuns are one of the best desserts ever. Nothing can ever compare to home food :)


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