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Indian Dessert




         Laddoo is a kind of Indian dessert and, besides the fact that it's name is super fun to say, there are a few other interesting bits of trivia about this amazing treat. So, keep reading if you want to hear more about laddoo, possibly one of the best things to come out of India..

        Still here? Good! Now, it's time to talk about laddoo! The first thing you need to know is that it is a type of Mithai, the Indian word for dessert. And there are sooo many types of Mithai! Nearly 200 types are listed on Wikipedia, with each type having many subtypes. And of course, not every kind of MIthai has even been documented on Wikipedia, so there could possibly be hundreds more in existence! America definitely hasn't invented that many individual types of dessert. But on the topic of laddoo, there are over 100 types of laddoo alone! Some of the most popular laddoo varieties are coconut laddoo, besan laddoo, atta laddoo, til laddoo, and murmura laddoo. Besan laddoo is Rishabh's favorite variety, and he recently brought some over from India to eat at home. Like quite a few other foods, laddoo is thought to have at one point been used as some sort of medicine, and were also possibly invented around 2600 BC. Some believe that the Hindu elephant god, Lord Ganesha was fed laddoo rather than modakas, another indian treat that is basically a sweet dumpling used in some Hindu prayers. There is a kind of laddoo called Tirupati that can only legally be made in Tirupati, India, their place of origin and, of course, what they were named after. In India, as well as other countries in South Asia, it is customary to celebrate the birth of a male child by passing out special laddoo. Until 2015, however, female babies often did not get celebrated with the same practice. Now, many families give out a kind of pink laddoo commemorate the birth of a girl. Jalebi, an orange street food in the shape of a ring is the official national dessert of India, but lots of people in the country unofficially think of laddoo as their national dessert. There is no one definition of Laddoo. Since India is such a big and populous country, the different varieties are based on the ingredients available in the area where each type of laddoo was invented. Regardless, if you ask anyone from India, it is likely that they will be familiar with the little round mithai. Remember how I told you that Laddoo used to be used as medicine? Well, in the popular Indian cartoon, 'Chhota Bheem', laddoo seems to have an even more powerful effect. In this show, a child named Chhota Bheem eats laddoo in order to become strong enough to defeat his enemies. He is shown growing huge muscles after eating the dessert and obliterating foes like fully grown, armed men and a large and aggressive bull. Laddoo is of course seen in pretty much every episode of this show, and the attention is well deserved. Chhota Bheem may have also increased the popukarity of laddoo with Indian children, an extremely admirable feat, since everyone should love laddoo. Have YOU tried laddoo, though?? If you haven't, you must immediately track some down and consume it. You can find it in the USA, so you shouldn't have any excuse not to have eaten this amazing food. Although there is no official Laddoo Day, laddoo is most commonly eaten on Diwali, the most widely celebrated holiday in India. This year, it will fall on October 24th. Go eat some laddoo.



Ingredients: 2 cup besan (Gram flour), 1 cup Sugar, 8 tbsp ghee, 5 cardamoms, 3 chopped cashews

Step 1: Put sugar in blender, add 5 cardamoms, and blend. Once the sugar becomes extra fine, stop blending, stir, and blend again.

Step 2: Fluff up besan in bowl before scooping into measuring cups. Add 1 1/2 tbsp ghee to heavy bottom pan and heat it. Then add chopped cashews and fry on medium heat until cashews become crunchier.

Step 3: Remove cashews and place them in bowl. Then add besan to the same pan and mix well. Fry on medium heat. Stir consistently while heating.

Step 4: Wait five minutes until your mixture turns a different color, then add the remainder of the ghee. Reduce heat to low, and do not stop stirring.

Step 5: Proper stirring will cause the besan to absorb all ghee and become lumpy. Fry and stir until your mixture becomes a singular clump and has reached a deep golden color. The stirring should last about 25 minutes.

Step 6: Take pan off the stove. After cooling somewhat, stir for 2-3 minutes and add cashews. Add sugar when the mixture is lukewarm but NOT too hot. Mix well and knead with hands.

Step 7: Take smallish portions and roll into spheres. You should have enough to make 16 if you make them relatively small. 

Step 8: Congratulations! You just made besan laddoo! If you want to store them to eat later, keep in an airtight container, which should make them last for about 3 weeks. Enjoy!

Source: Swasthi's Recipes

A Feast


Tortilla Chips with Dips

A BIT ABOUT TORTILLA                   CHIPS



            So, the first thing I have to say, which may change your life, is that tortilla chips AREN'T Mexican! They were first made in the mid 1940s in Los Angeles, and their creation is credited to a woman named Rebecca Webb Carranza. So why do we associate them with Mexico, then? Ok, so what I said about tortillas not being from Mexico, isn't completely true. The tortillas themselves, used to make the chips, were actually invented around 2500 BC by Mesoamericans, specifically the Aztecs. The Aztecs, however, often did not consume these tortillas in chip form and instead preferred to eat them whole with meat or veggies inside. These people called their creation "tlaxcalli". When the Spanish conquistadors came along, they adopted the tortillas as a staple food and gave them a new name: "tortilla de patatas".  The word 'Tortilla' is a combination of the Spanish words 'Torta' and 'Illa', which together mean 'little cake'. I guess that means that tortilla chips would translate to 'little cake chips'. A few centuries after the conquistadors arrived, the tortilla began to be sold by street vendors and marketplace shops. Finally, in the 20th century, tortilla chips made their debut with our good friend Rebecca, who wanted to make a snack for a party she was having with some friends. The aforementioned friends loved them and she started selling her 'tort chips' as she called them for ten cents per bag. They were, of course, an instant success as they spread throughout California and the nearby state of Texas, and eventually arrived in the tortilla's home, Mexico. Tortilla chips were especially beloved in the state of Texas, where today they are the state's official snack! Unfortunately, Rebecca's story might not be entirely accurate. Jose Martinez, a Texan man who sold tortillas, had quite a lot of them left over after a big sale. Supposedly, Jose decided he wanted a snack, and so he toasted them, just for an experiment. The result was, as he claimed, was the first ever tortilla chips, years before Rebecca made her delicious party snack. Jose's downfall lies in the fact that he never decided to sell his masterpiece, and so lost all credit to Rebecca Carranza. Only a few years after Rebecca's 'invention', a man by the name of Ignacio Anaya was serving at a restaurant when a group of women entered. The problem was, Ignacio was without a chef. He went into the kitchen, grabbed some tortillas, cheese, and jalapenos, and toasted them together. When one of the women asked what the food was called so that she could order it again, he replied that it was "'nacio's special", and it is known today by the familiar name of 'Nachos'. There are 51 different brands of tortilla chips sold on the well-known website, and tortilla chips were numbered the 3rd best salty snack sold in the USA after crackers in 1st place and potato chips in second. Sadly, you'll have to wait until next year if you want to start celebrating national tortilla chip day, since it's on February 24th. Mark your calendars so you don't forget by the time we get to that date!



Ingredients: 6 Corn tortillas, extra virgin olive oil, salt

Step 1: Dry tortillas in oven, then cut each individual tortilla into six triangle shapes. These will be your chips.

Step 2: Pour your oil into the pan and place your 36 'chips' in the oil. Fry for around 2 minutes.

Step 3: Pull your snack out and apply a generous sprinkle of salt. 

Source: Simply Recipes

Food Photography

   Do you think you know your fun food facts?                      Test   your knowledge on this quiz!!

Image by amirali mirhashemian



               SO WHY IS IT BIG?

              RATATOUILLE! The name of this food sounds like jibberish spouted from a small child's mouth. In reality, it is the name of a delicious French dish, made famous by the Pixar movie of the same name. Its name comes from two French words (rata and touiller) meaning 'chunky stew' and 'to stir up' respectively. Even though it is neither very much stirred up in its final form nor much of a stew, these descriptors make some sense once you analyze the process of its creation. This dish is typically made up of the main ingredients of onion, zucchini, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant, drizzled with olive oil, although there are variations on this recipe, which can be served warm or cool. The reason its recipe is so adaptable is because it was originally invented as a Provencial peasant dish, made by farmers in the 18th century. And, by the way, it's name is actually pronounced RAT-UH-TOOEY because... well, it's French. This food can be served with a delicious mixture of herbs for extra authentic flavor, especially Herbs de Provence. Some historians actually believe that the original recipe for ratatouille was first made in the Basque region of Spain, though the modern recipe was definitely invented in France under the official name Ratatouille Nicoise. Many French chefs would resent and ridicule those who made ratatatouille without a specific set of Provencial herbs, which consisted of thyme, rosemary, serpolet, basil, and oregano. All the materials for ratatouille could be bought at your local grocery store, but the meal is always better when made with herbs and veggies for your own garden. Once a dish only for the poor farmers of french society, it is now made by the most prestigious chefs around the world, and has been seen as a rather fancy thing in recent years. The flavor of ratatouille is described as Tangy, spongy, acidic, soaking up all of the individual flavors together into one. Anyways, go tell everyone you know about this ridiculous sounding food, and go watch the movie 'Ratatouille' while you're at it to celebrate this deliciously unique example of French cuisine today!



Ingredients: 2 eggplants, 6 large tomatoes, 2 yellow squashes, 2 zucchinis, 

6 tbsp olive oil, 1 diced onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 bell pepper, salt, crushed pepper, 28 oz crushed tomato, 4 tbsp fresh basil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, 2 tsp fresh thyme

Step 1: Preheat oven 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 2: Slice squash, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini into 1/16 in. segments

Step 3: Heat olive oil over medium heat, saute garlic, onions, and bell peppers for 10 min. Season with salt + pepper and add crushed tomatoes

Step 4: Stir, remove from oven, add basil, and stir again

Step 5: Arrange veggies in particular pattern and season with salt + pepper

Step 6: In small bowl, mix olive oil, pepper, salt, thyme, parsley, garlic, basil. Spoon herb seasoning over vegetables

Step 7: Cover creation with foil + bake for 40 min. Uncover and bake until veggies soften

Step 8: Serve while warm to impress your friends and family!

Source: Tasty

Image by Casey Chae



               SO WHY IS IT BIG?

     Gingerbread originated in it's earliest form in ancient Greece and Egypt, where it was used in ceremonies. Gingerbread houses were invented in the 16th century by Germans, while Queen Elizabeth I herself is credited with the first gingerbread man's creation. She is believed to have created them to look similar to some prestigious guests who were coming visit her. It is even a Swedish tradition to make a wish with gingerbread in your palm and crush it. If the gingerbread cookie breads into three pieces, your wish will come true. Making gingerbread cookies is undoubtedly a beloved and timeworn holiday tradition, and many people have found ways to make unique gingerbread creations and customs! The largest gingerbread house ever made was in Bryan, Texas, in 2013. This colossal treat is 60 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 10.1 feet tall, able to comfortably fit a family of five. Plus, it's completely edible! There is also a restaurant made out of gingerbread that you can dine in during the Christmas season. Unfortunately, the house itself is not on the menu. The city of Nuremberg, Germany was first recognized as the gingerbread capital of the world in the 1600's, it it holds this title to this day. In England, gingerbread was once thought to have medicinal properties. The first cookbook written in America was produced by Amelia Simmons in 1976 and contained 7 recipes for gingerbread alone. The record for the largest gingerbread village was set by a man named Jon Lovitch, sous chef at the New York Marriot Marquis hotel, whose town contained 135 homes, 22 commercial buildings, and a train and cable car. The most expensive gingerbread house, sold for around $78,000 was made by the British retailer VeryFirstTo. June 5th is considered National Gingerbread Day in the US. William Shakespeare seems to have enjoyed some good gingerbread, as in his play "Love's Labours Lost" he writes "An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread." Much like figgy pudding, the earliest recipes for gingerbread often did not contain ginger and could not technically be called bread. Around 3 million ounces of ground are sold every year around the holidays, enough to make 450 million gingerbread men. Hand in hand, the gingerbread men could circle the earth approximately one and a half times. In Germany, gingerbread cookies were once actually used to pay taxes! In the Middle Ages, ladies would give gingerbread to their favored knight before competitions and tournaments to bring them luck. Whether you prefer gingerbread men or houses, there is a gingerbread custom out there that is right for you. Perhaps try learning more about one or two of these and attempting them yourself!




Ingredients: 2/3 cup softened unsalted butter, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, 2/3 cup molasses, 1 large egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tbsp ground ginger, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground allspice,  1/2 tsp ground cloves

Step 1: Beat butter in a large bowl at medium speed until creamy. Add sugar and molasses and beat until combined

Step 2: Beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for around two minutes

Step 3: Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves in another bowl. Mix the contents of both bowls in the large bowl

Step 4: Divide dough into two separate portions and place both onto large pieces of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and pat both portions into disc-like shape

Step 5: Chill dough. This can take from three hours up to 3 days

Step 6: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper

Step 7: Remove chilled cookies from the refrigerator, cover work surface, rolling pin, and hands with lots of flour.

Step 8: Roll discs until only 1-inch thick and cut into shapes, placing these shapes on the baking sheets

Step 9: Bake for up to ten minutes, then take cookies out and allow them to cool

Step 10: Decorate with frosting and serve to friends and family!




               SO WHY IS IT BIG?

      If you have ever heard the song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", you may be wondering what figgy pudding is and why the carolers in the song are repeatedly demanding it from the listener. This strange 'treat' was once used as a way to fast in preparation for Christmas and was originally made up of mutton, prunes, raisins, and various types of alcohol and spices. Figgy pudding, although originally rather savory, gradually became more and more sweet as fruit became more common and easy to come by, and grains, vegetables, and prunes were added. In the early 1800's the famous Christmas song mentioning figgy pudding was written, and was sung by poor carolers who went from door to door boldly asking the richer residents to bring them figgy pudding so that they may have something to eat for Christmas Day. At one time the Puritans actually banned figgy pudding, along with the entire Christmas holiday, believing that it was a wasteful celebration which threatened central beliefs of Christianity. Eventually, Christmas and figgy pudding were reinstated as a Christmas staple by King George I. Surprisingly, figs have never actually been included in any official recipe for figgy pudding, put were sometimes included as a substitute for other fruits, eventually giving this food the name that it is known by today. The pudding was made to be shaped like a cannonball, put into an intense blaze, and aged, to be saved during advent until around Christmas time. Figgy pudding is still made today, and can sometimes be found in supermarkets around the time of Christmas. In many British traditions, a silver six pence coin is hidden within the pudding to be found by a lucky winner. A certain 'Christmas Pudding' (possibly figgy) is even mentioned in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". Here is an excerpt from the passage: 

"In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top."

     Figgy pudding is a beloved addition to many Christmas dinner tables, and various recipes have been passed on through families from generation to generation. While it is unlikely that you have ever tasted figgy pudding before, perhaps you could find a way to incorporate it into the festivities this Christmas season.



Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups chopped dried pitted dates, 1/2 cup chopped dried figs, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 100 grams softened butter, 1 cup superfine sugar, 2 eggs, 2 1/2 cups self rising flour, 75 grams grated dark chocolate, whipped cream. Sauce: 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups heavy cream, 200 grams butter, fresh quartered figs, vanilla ice cream

Step 1: Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 2: Put dates, dried figs, and water into a moderately sized saucepan and boil over medium heat

Step 3: Remove the pan from the heat and add baking soda to the mix. Wait 5 minutes for it to cool before pureeing in a blender

Step 4: Use a hand mixer to cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add eggs and beat. Pour flour, pureed date mix, and chocolate into  bowl

Step 5: Distribute your mixture into four buttered ramekins and put into oven for up to 25 minutes

Step 6: To create the sauce, mix the sugar and cream in a medium bowl over low heat. Once the sugar dissolves, raise the heat to a boil, then lower the heat again to simmer for 5 minutes

Step 7: Add butter and stir. Then remove the ramekins from your oven and let them sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. Use a knife to cut a cross on  the tops of the pudding so that sauce may be added

Step 8: Pour the sauce on your puddings, first into the crosses, then over the entire pudding, and allow it to soak in slightly

Step 9: Top with fresh figs, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream, and enjoy a tradition Christmas favorite!

Source: Food Network