Gulab Jamun Variations for Festivals

Gulab Jamun Variations by Manjula

Many festivals are coming soon, starting with Navratri, Durga Ashtami, Ram Navami, Dussehra, Diwali, Bhai Dooj, and the list goes on. I am always planning to what make something new. Something different and festive but not needing too much work, at the same time the family should enjoy it. I thought why not make the sweets and snacks that my family likes and I will also like to share this with my extended family by the series of blogs.

First one I selected is gulab jamuns because I just made them. Also gulab jamun is one of my favorite dessert. It is easy to make and also have a long shelf life. Gulab jamuns can be served in many different ways and the bonus is they make good holiday gift.

I have fond memories of the festivals while growing up. On special occasions we will receive box of sweets from family and friends and most of the time the box will have gulab jamuns. Of course these gulab jamuns were not in the syrup but they were still moist. They tasted great and almost appeared to be a different dessert.

These are some of the variations and suggestions the way I serve them. I think warm gulab jamuns taste the best, they are my boy’s favorite. For serving them with any other variations, take gulab jamuns out from the syrup for about half an hour before garnishing. Drizzle gulab jamun with chocolate gnash, you may also put few pieces of sliced almonds. This is my grand kids favorite.

Roll them in coconut powder, this is the only way one of my daughter in law likes them.
Slice them in center making them in two pieces then topped them with malai (reduce milk),
Slice them thinly and serve them with vanilla ice cream and garnish with few pieces of broken pistachios. I will like to hear from you, how you like to serve them.


Happy Navratri 2014

Navratri, or “Nine nights” is a festival which marks the onset of autumn. It is celebrated in different ways all over the country. It is a festival of worship, dance and music. For 9 days, women dress up in beautiful clothes and jewelry. Many people keep a fast for Navratri. Some suggestions for this auspicious time period include: Laucki kheer, sabudana khichdi, sabudana vada, kuttu Ki Puri, and stir fry arbi.

 


Making of my Eggless Chocolate Cake Recipe

Eggless Chocolate Cake

Eggless Chocolate Cake

I have been working on how to make eggless chocolate cake, baking is not what I am good. Some times I like to bake for my grand kids and that I enjoy. Many of my viewers have been requesting to do more cake recipes. I have been trying chocolate cake, I have looked many recipes and to substitute eggs I am still playing with some ingredients, I don’t want to use the egg replacer for sure, my choices are tofu, condense milk, yogurt. I have used tofu before to make chocolate brownie and used condense milk for pineapple cake. Both recipes were good but I keep feeling something is missing so last few days I am trying again, my kitchen has been mass and I think I am getting there. For Easter I baked cup cakes using condense milk, kids loved it because I baked that’s a good part it is so easy to please your grandkids most of the time or they really know what to say when.

This is first time I have tried adding some corn starch and tapioca powder. I like corn starch that made a big different. Today I think it came out good and decided to garnish few pieces with sugar powder and few pieces with chocolate ganache. It was time to get the approval from the family and wow my older granddaughter and son approved.

Good thing is you can use same batter for cup cakes or cake. You should see this recipe soon and really hope you will approve because that’s count the most and I will wait for your unbiased comment.

Manjula’s Kitchen e-book: Best of Indian Vegetarian Recipes

Manjula's Kitchen ebook

I have some exciting news for all of you. Due to your requests that I make a compilation of some of my recipes into an easy-to-reference book, I am excited to let you know that I have published my first book, Manjula’s Kitchen: Best of Indian Vegetarian! It is available on Amazon right now! Here’s a quick link to purchase it: http://amzn.to/17fgiJL

So why did I do this book? Well the answer is simple: for you the viewers. You all have inspired me in so many ways that I cannot thank you enough! Of course, my husband Alex has been my number one supporter and has been working hard towards getting this book published. My book is a great reference for all of your cooking needs – for both the beginning and experienced cooks. So go to Amazon and check out my new book!

Diwali Preparations are Underway…

Diwali is around the corner. It’s an exciting time of year and I am already in the midst of decorating the house. I am planning on putting festive lights outside of the house. Then I will do some Rangoli designs on the front porch, also incorporating some fresh flowers. Of course I will decorate the house with some flameless candles as well. My granddaughters love helping me decorate for Diwali. I also like to incorporate games during Diwali. This year, I plan on creating a treasure hunt for the kids (similar to an Easter Egg Hunt). This is always a hit with the grandchildren, even my 12 year old granddaughter!

Most important in preparing for Diwali, is the FOOD! I believe food truly brings the family and loved ones together. I love making easy home-cooked snacks as Diwali gifts. I think its a thoughtful and heartfelt gift. Some of my ideas for snacks are Spicy Cashews, Nan Khatai, Til Ki Burfi, and Almond Brittle

This year I am planning two Diwali dinners. One dinner will be an intimate dinner with just family. The following day I am hosting another dinner with just friends. I have not finalized the menu yet. However, I am planning to make some sweets in advance. This will ease my work load and stress levels as Diwali approaches! My must-have sweets for Diwali include Gujias, Gulab Jamun and Chocolate Sandesh. I think this variety of desserts will please everyone.

I plan to finalize my Diwali dinner menu very soon and will keep you updated!

 

 

 

Menu Suggestions for Lunch/Dinner

What’s for lunch/dinner?

This is a question most of us struggle with on a daily basis. When I ask my husband Alex what I should cook for our meals, his answer has been the same for the past 45 years! It’s that I should give him some choices and he will then select his preference. So I have decided to come up with some great, easy, and healthy choices for lunch and dinner. It’s a long time overdue and no more excuses! I would love to get your thoughts on these suggestions and if you find them helpful.
Check out the below menu for one week’s worth of lunches/dinners. I have also provided some tips and suggestions to make it easy. It may be helpful to read the entire menu before and make a shopping list for the ingredients you need. Plan to do your shopping the day before you cook.

Lunch Menu:
These are great at home or pack in a lunchbox for the office.

  1. Chickpea Pulav with yogurt
  2. Yogurt Rice (this recipe is also good using leftover white rice)
  3. Vegetable Frankie (you may use the ready made tortillas and they taste good warm or cold.)
  4. Carrot Moong Dal Salad and Tomato Soup
  5. Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf

For an informal lunch with friends:

  1. Aloo Paratha, Tomato Chutney, Matar Paneer, and Yogurt (it is easy to use the store bought paneer)
  2. You can also serve a simple salad sliced tomatoes and cucumber sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and lemon juice
  3. Lemonade will be great for summer

Dinner:
These are great everyday options for home.

  1. Vegetable Curry with plain rice and or Roti
  2. Spinach Pasta and Vegetable Soup
  3. Mixed Dal, Gajar Mattar, or Aloo Methi, Plain rice and Roti or Paratha
  4. Rajma and plain rice.
  5. Besan Puda (This is a super simple recipe that is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner)

For a special get together, try the below:

  1. Appetizer: Papdi Chaat (You can make the Papdi in advance and it lasts for weeks, or you can fry uncooked tortillas cut in the Papdi shape. Remember, chutneys and yogurt should be always in fridge!)
  2. Masala Papad (You can grill the papads in advance and keep them in air tight container.)
  3. Drink: Mango Lassi
  4. Main Meal: Cabbage Kofta, Green Beans and Peas, Spinach Raita, rice, roti or Paratha (Kofta can be made in advance as they freeze well and can be stored for about a month. When you are ready to cook them, make the gravy, defrost the kofta and prepare like the recipe suggest.) (You can make extra Green Beans and peas as they make great sandwiches and Wrap with the leftovers)
  5. Dessert: Refreshing Fruit Cream is great for a summer dessert. Finish up with a hot cup of Chai Masala Tea.

Additional Suggestions

  1. If you have chutneys ready in fridge, it is easy to plan some of the appetizers. I always have Tamarind and Hari Cilantro Chutneys in my fridge.
  2. I also have some condiments on hand to spice up my meals. Check out the list under chutneys / pickles as they have a longer shelf life and are easy to make.
  3. Plain Yogurt
  4. It is helpful to have some frozen vegetables in your freezer such as green peas, green beans, chopped spinach. I also freeze small cut pieces of paneer. Before using, put them in hot water.
  5. I like to have canned chickpeas and kidney beans on hand or you can boil a big batch of them and freeze them in small portions.

Wanted to Say Thanks!

I would first like to acknowledge and thank my viewers and everyone who voted for me. Because of you all I was selected for “YOUTUBE ON THE RISE” program. As a result, my channel will be featured on April 30th on YouTube blog, www.youtube.com/YouTube

I truly enjoy doing these recipes and sharing with you. I take a lot of pride in my work through Manjula’s Kitchen. I often spend many hours working on each recipe. Despite this, I must say I truly enjoy this process. You, the viewers, have given me so much love and encouragement over the years. Your feedback and enthusiasm for Manjula’s Kitchen is invaluable. Youtube has given me a wonderful platform to promote my passion and love for cooking.

Not many people are able to say that they are following their passion at my stage in life (being a grandmother of four and all!). You, the viewers, deserve credit for this. So I would like to say a heartfelt thank you.

 

Spring Recharge!

I have been experimenting with refreshing cucumber and mint to come up with the perfect Spring drink. I have always enjoyed the combination of cucumber and mint.

At first, I thought I would use pureed cucumber and mint, strain it, and add salt, black pepper, and lemon juice and simply serve over ice. I liked the idea of garnishing with a cucumber slice on the rim of the glass. I then decided this recipe needed to be revamped. So I did some research and googled some different cucumber mint drink recipes. After some research, I decided I would add some ginger to my original recipe. I was not a fan of the ginger as I did not think the flavor combination was right. I then tried adding soda water, but the cucumber flavor was washed out. I then thought that maybe my drink needed to be sweetened with honey. Both my husband and younger son nixed that idea and told me to keep my drink simple. I decided they were right and that I should stick to my original recipe. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best, wouldn’t you say?

The combination of cucumber, mint, salt, black pepper and lemon juice is the perfect drink for a hot day. I really did enjoy it. Both my husband and son approved it as well. The beautiful lime color is simply too tempting to resist. I will be posting this recipe soon!

 

 

Vote for Manjula

Vote now to help Manjula’s Kitchen win YouTube’s April On the Rise channel competition! It only takes a moment—click the link, then click on the blue checkmark next to Manjula’s Kitchen!

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Here is more information about youtube’s “On The Rise” program:

http://youtubecreator.blogspot.com/2013/04/introducing-your-april-on-rise-nominees.html

Thank you for your continued support!

Fun with Family

The end of March brings the celebration of two of my favorite holidays. Holi is on March 27th and Easter is on March 30th. I look forward to these holidays as I traditionally spend them with my grandkids.

Holi, also known as the festival of colors, is celebrated with great enthusiasm by farmers. Holi is also known as harvest time. It is the time of year when adults become kids and celebrate with neighbors, friends and family. Adults and children celebrate this holiday by playing with colored powder by putting it on each other. Some get very enthusiastic and use color water! On Holi, snacks are offered and a special drink known as Thandai (milk and almond drink) is offered. I will be making Besan Para and Mathri to satisfy savory cravings. I will also be making Gujia and Besan Burfi to satisfy sweet cravings.

I also enjoy celebrating Easter. My grandkids come over and both Alex and I have the kids participate in an Easter egg hunt. I also love making colorful Easter baskets for my grandkids. The Easter egg hunt is a big hit with our grandkids and the house is filled with their joy and laughter. After the Easter egg hunt, we enjoy a nice brunch. I will come up with the menu just keeping the kids in mind. It’s a fun time for the entire family!

I hope everyone enjoys these upcoming holidays as much as I do. Happy Holi and Happy Easter everyone!

Until next time…

 

 

Challenges

As many of you know, there are some challenges I face when doing my video recipes for you all. First of all, these videos are taped at my home kitchen, and Alex (my husband) is responsible for many things. He is the videographer, editor and essentially does everything aside from developing the recipes and cooking. With that said, my first challenge is him. I need to be ready when Alex has time. Alex also gets busy with his own work. There are many times where we are ready to tape with all the preparations done for the recipe and just then my next door neighbor’s dog decides to bark. This dog is very loud so we often have to wait until he calms down. Then there are the other disturbances like someone mowing their lawn or trash pickup! This can be frustrating especially when I am so eager to share my recipes and dishes with you. When I get upset, Alex will make me a cup of hot chai and try and make me laugh. He always knows how to put a smile on my face. I also spend a lot of time with my four grandchildren as they are my priority. Despite all these obstacles and time constraints, we always manage to do the videos, all the while laughing and have a great time doing so! Until next time….

 

 

Holiday Fun

Christmas has once again come and gone! These days I feel time is going by far too quickly. I had a lovely Christmas with my two sons and their families, including my four grandchildren. We decided to have a casual dinner with homemade pizza. Each person got to make their own personal pizzas with their choice of toppings including tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, green peppers, red peppers, and olives. I also had the toppings for my take on spicy cabbage pizza (see recipe for this delicious pizza on this site). After dinner, we enjoyed fresh chocolate cupcakes and apple crumb pie (recipe for this dish is also on this site!). After dinner, we sat around and talked while the children had a blast playing with their Christmas presents. We ended the night with a nice cup of hot tea and more conversation. What a great way to spend a holiday!

This week I plan to continue working on new and creative recipes for you all. I can’t believe there are only a few days left of 2012. This year has had its ups and downs, but overall I have to say 2012 was a great year. This year also marked the six year anniversary of my You Tube videos which in turn, launched Manjulaskitchen.com. This website is a dream come true. It has allowed me to further my passion for cooking and inspiring others to cook as well. I look forward to what 2013 has to offer!

Until then!

Friendship of a Lifetime

Some very close friends of mine visited me this Thanksgiving holiday from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I really should say they are more like family. We make the effort at seeing each other, but I wish we could see each other more often. Ideally, they would live right here in San Diego! It would be great to walk to each other’s houses, have meals together, or just going for a walk together. When we are together, it is just so much fun. We never run out of things to talk about, whether we have conversations about politics, our kids, or life in general! I feel that great friends are hard to come by. In that regard, I feel very blessed.

In fact, one of my biggest supporters of my website are my friends who visited me. Their suggestion to me was to post recipes consisting of simple comfort food. Some favorites that came to mind were great recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable quesadillas, Aloo Parathas, or Parathas using leftovers. I have decided that I will be working on a great recipe for a Grilled Potato Sandwich. Comfort food at its finest, especially during this holiday season! Until then!

Diwali Menu

Deciding on the perfect menu for the upcoming holiday of Diwali can be challenging! I have been trying to decide the menu for a Diwali party I am hosting for the last couple of days. It’s the time of year to indulge in delicious and tasty food, without a regard for calories! This year I am leaning towards a very traditional menu. I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions about this menu.

To start out the evening, I would like to serve:

   

My main courses will include:

     

Finally, for dessert, I would like to serve:

 

I know this is a very big menu so I need to start making some preparations now!

Let me know what you think? Does this traditional menu sound good to you, or do you think I should incorporate some non-traditional items as well?

 

San Diego Diwali Mela!

Diwali is the most celebrated festival all over India. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and celebrates the victory of good over evil. We just had a Diwali Celebration at Balboa Park which was simply amazing. If you reside in San Diego, please come join us for another DIWALI MELA, which is being organized by the Shri Mandir, on Saturday, October 27th at the Shri Mandir parking lot, between 4 pm and 9 pm. The address is 9474 Black Mountain Road. It is sure to be another evening filled with fun and masti. Enjoy delicious Indian food and great performances! There will be a variety of food, including the Jain food stall, where I am volunteering at.

I look forward to hopefully seeing some of you there, along with your friends and family!