Pakistani Carrot Rice Pudding / Gajrela (Gajar Ki Kheer)

It’s that time of the month again- Muslim Food Bloggers Challenge Reveal Day! This month was special because it marked the end of one year since these challenges began. The theme of this month was to go back and revisit a past challenge of our choice. It could be one that we missed, or one that we wanted to do again. I chose to combine two-

  1. Share a Pakistani recipe.
  2. Share a recipe from a Muslimah blogger.

I’m sharing a recipe for Pakistani Carrot and Rice Pudding, also called Gajrela (or gajar ki kheer). The recipe is actually from a vlogger who shares videos on her youtube channel- Cook With Faiza. I love her recipes because they are authentic and her demeanor is very approachable.

I made this recipe over the summer while I was visiting my family in California. While I was there, my mom and I hosted a surprise anniversary party for my brother and sister in-law (she is more sister than in-law. Love you SaraMaa!). I was originally going to share this recipe back in September for the monthly challenge. Imagine my surprise when I saw that Rafeeda from The Big Sweet Tooth had posted the same dish! Ha! At the last moment I decided to go with something else that was a regional specialty (Karachi Bun Kababs). Truly, great minds do think alike 😉

Anyway, this recipe is very special to Pakistani cuisine, and with the coming cooler months, it is even more special. Enjoy!

Check out all the yummies everyone is sharing this month by clicking on the graphic below!

 

 

Gajrela

Yield: 10-12 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups whole milk
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup basmati rice, ground coarsely
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • Handful sliced almonds or pistachios

Directions:

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat milk over medium heat until it comes to a low boil, stirring often to prevent the milk from burning. Add grated carrots and stir. Once the milk returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the carrots have softened considerably, about 20 to 30 minutes. Be sure to stir often.

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and ground cardamom. Add sugar mixture to carrots and mix well. Add ground rice and condensed milk and mix until thoroughly combined. Cook, while stirring often to prevent burning, until significantly reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes. Add sliced nuts and remove from heat.

Gajrela can be served warm or cold. Garnish with additional sliced nuts, if desired.

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Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Are you all ready for the onslaught that is pumpkin season? I AM!

I’ve been swimming in pumpkin these past several weeks, and totally loving it! Also, I finally tried my hand at making my own pumpkin puree. You guys, it is SO easy! I had three pie pumpkins hanging around, much thanks to a field trip my son’s class took to an orchard (and also a local fall festival), so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. All you have to do it trim off the stem and cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh, and roast them in the oven (350°F) for about an hour.  Once they’re done cooking, let them cool a bit, scoop out the flesh, and puree away (if you find it too thin, simply pour it into a strainer and let it sit until your desired consistency is reached)! So so easy!

So about this recipe- I made it several times last year, and it was always a hit. I tried again this year, and again it was a stunner. I love this recipe because it doesn’t require the crust to be pre-baked, and the filling is a one-bowl recipe.

(Recipe adapted from A Treats Affair.)

 

 

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Yield: One 9”x13” Pan

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

For Filling:

  • 4 packs (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice

Directions:

Prepare Crust:

Preheat oven to 300°F and set aside a aluminum foil or parchment paper lined 9”x13” pan.

In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers crumbs and melted butter. Transfer to prepared pan and press the crumbs on to the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Prepare Filling:

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium low speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat until thoroughly combined. Pour half of the mixture over the crust, and spread evenly.

To remaining cheesecake filling, whisk in pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Carefully spoon mixture evenly over the pan.

Bake until the edges are set and the center is still a little wobbly, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours prior to serving.

Carrot Cardamom Cake (aka Gajar Ka Halwa Cake!)

I love having some type of loaf cake (or quick bread) on hand at home. It’s nice having something to munch alongside a cup of tea, and it seems as if my son has inherited his momma’s love for these types of baked goods as well 🙂

I have made this cake (recipe from Playful Cooking) several times, and it is always well received. It is a carrot loaf, infused with cardamom flavor. I like to think that it is the cake version of Gajar Ka Halwa (carrot halwa)!

 

 

Carrot Cardamom Cake

(Gajar Ka Halwa Cake)

Yield: 1 Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a greased loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs. Add oil and whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until it just comes together. Fold in shredded carrots.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, between 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Crispy Honey Chicken

It’s the 10th and that means time to share the results of another Muslim Food Bloggers Challenge! I really look forward to these challenges because it gives me a chance to cook or bake with a goal in mind. This month’s challenge was to use honey as one of the main ingredients in a dish.

When it was announced that honey was going to be our star ingredient, the first (and second, and third, and fourth 😉 ) thought that came to my mind was to make a dessert. After all, honey is used as a sweetener, so dessert should naturally be the choice. Before I went ahead and got a chance to make a dessert, I happened upon this recipe and I suddenly had a lightbulb moment- why am I restricting myself to just desserts? Why not think outside the box?

This recipe is amazing, and it reminds me of Asian takeout we’ve enjoyed in the past.  It’s easy, and comes together fast; just be sure to have everything ready before you start, because it goes fast!

To see what everyone else is cooking (or baking!) up with honey this month, check it all out here:

 

 

Crispy Honey Chicken

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

For Chicken:

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • Oil, as needed, to deep fry

For Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • Red pepper flakes, as needed, optional

Directions:

Prepare Chicken:

In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and onion powder. Mix well and set aside.

Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl and set aside.

Toss the chicken in the flour mixture. Dip each piece into the buttermilk, and then dredge once again in flour mixture. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken in batches until cooked through and crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Prepare Sauce:

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.

Heat a large vessel over medium heat. Mix together honey, remaining 2 tablespoons water, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes (if using). Once it comes to a boil, slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes (if sauce seems to be too thick, add a few splashes of water). Remove from heat.

Add cooked chicken to sauce, and mix well so that it is evenly covered in the sauce.

Serve over white or brown rice.

Eid Eats 2017: Baklava Biscotti

You guys, my favorite day of the blogging year is here- Eid Eats 2017 is officially live! Ramadan is rounding out, and I love that us food bloggers band together to celebrate the blessed month! I, along with my cohost, Asiya of Chocolate and Chillies, are excited to see the yummies that are being brought to the party 😉

The party is live from now until June 24, so you’ve got some time to get in on the fun (the guidelines can be found here).

By the Grace of God, Eid Eats is in its 4th installment (2014, 2015, and 2016), and this year we have some fun in store for you all, but more on that later 😉

Click on this graphic to submit your entry for #EidEats2017. You can also click on it to check out all of the delicious bites our participants are sharing.

This year I’ve decided to attend this party in my finest attire, bearing Baklava Biscotti! I was inspired by a recipe shared by the genius blogger behind Brewing Bliss. I used a mish-mash of recipes, including the topping from Brewing Bliss, and the base of the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The resulting biscotti is a treat for the senses! It’s nutty, chocolatey, not tooth-breaking-hard, and downright irresistible! The end product results in a decent-sized batch (and is a great make-ahead item!), perfect for your Eid entertaining needs 🙂

(Check out what my co-host Asiya has contributed here! Looks amazing!)

Baklava Biscotti

Yield: 15 – 20 Pieces

Ingredients:

For Biscotti:

  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  •  ¼ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Egg wash: 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon milk

For Topping:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • ¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions:

Make Biscotti:

Preheat oven to 300°F and set aside two parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Spread almonds evenly over one baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, stirring twice during that time. Remove from oven and pulse the almonds in a food processor or blender until coarsely chopped.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives, until the mixture is crumbly. Fold in the almonds and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix together until moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough gently until soft and slightly sticky.   If the dough is too sticky to handle, knead 1 or 2 more tablespoons all-purpose flour into the dough.

Divide the dough in two. Place each half on a baking sheet. Using floured hands, gently shape each piece into a 8 or 9-inch log, patting down to ½-inch thickness. Lightly brush the slabs of dough with prepared egg wash.

Bake until the top and sides are lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Cut each slab into 1-inch slices. Set the slices cut-side upwards, ¼-inch apart, on the baking sheets. Return to oven and bake for 9 minutes. Flip each biscotti over and bake for an additional 9 minutes. The centers of each biscotti will be slightly soft, but will crisp up after cooling. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make Topping:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a small bowl. Add honey and butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl in the microwave or double broiler until smooth.

Dip the top of each slice of biscotti in melted chocolate, and then top with nuts. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet or cooling rack to allow the topping to set.

***

This biscotti pairs very well with a cup of piping hot tea- which brings me to the question: How does tea play a roll in you and your family’s Eid festivities? For my family, tea is a must! No celebration, especially Eid, is complete without trays of piping hot chai being passed around and enjoyed. Chai is the icing on the cake, so to speak, after a day of celebrating.

Speaking of chai, Tea India teabags are an excellent choice to quench your tea needs. They use only top notch ingredients and recognize the importance of quality packaging. Also, did you know that Tea India teabags come in four unique flavors, so there’s something to suit everyones taste? They include: orange pekoe black tea, masala chai, cardamom chai, and ginger chai.

Now, the fun part that I mentioned a little bit earlier- Tea India has graciously offered to sponsor a giveaway in honor of Eid! The winner of the giveaway will be sent a Tea India prize pack which includes a box of Cardamom Chai, Ginger Chai, and Masala Chai. Also included in the price pack is a set of coasters made from recycled Tea India teabags handcrafted by a group of South African women from a local township.

Here are the terms and conditions:

Giveaway runs from 12:00 a.m., June 20, 2017 through 12:00 a.m., June 25, 2017.

Open to Residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec) aged 18+ only. Winner will be randomly picked and emailed and will have 48 hours to respond. If they fail to do so another winner will be picked. Entrants can enter on multiple blogs but can only win one prize. Blogger is not responsible for delivery of prize. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook or Twitter.

Be sure to enter through the link below (you can enter through Chocolate & Chillies too!)

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

*This post is sponsored by Tea India and I have been compensated for it.*