Tag Archives: Family & Friends

Easy Lemon Cheesecake with Blackberry and Ginger Spiced Topping

Easy blackberry cheesecake

There are few desserts as rich and delicious as cheesecake.  Personally, I prefer cookies, but Piyush–who swears he does not like sweets!–is definitely a “cheesecake man.”

In fact, he likes it so much that it’s all he wanted for Christmas.  No presents, just cheesecake.  Heck, that’s easy enough!

I first made this particular cheesecake during the last season of Master Chef.  There was a pressure test where the contestants had to bake a cheesecake in an hour.  I was stunned!  At that point I had never actually baked a homemade cheesecake before, but I knew it had to take longer than an hour!  Continue reading


Gajar Halwa: Indian Sweet Carrot “Pudding”

This post has been a long time coming.  I’ve started writing it (what seems like) a million times, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to finish…it just wasn’t happening.

The phone would ring.  A time sensitive email would show up in my inbox.  Piyush would want the laptop to practice Chess–he’s a competitive player, don’t ‘cha know? Dinner would need to be made.  Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

Yes, that is a room full of chess players.  Very serious stuff, I tell you.

Yes, that is a room full of chess players. Very serious stuff, I tell you.

I also wanted to apologize to any one and every one of my dear readers who have left me a comment or sent me an email or personal note–and I haven’t responded.  I’m extremely grateful for all the kind words and comments I’ve received lately.  I’m also so, so very sorry for my slow responses.  We’re leaving for India soon and I’ve had so many things to tie up before we leave, I promise It’s on my agenda. 😀

Anyway, tonight (it’s around 12:30am and I recently got home from work) I’m finally going to share with you one of my favorite Indian sweets!

restaurant style carrot halwa, indian desserts, gajar halwa, gajar ka halwa, indian sweets, carrot pudding, carrot dessertGajar Halwa!!!

I first tasted this magnificent treat on a dinner-date with Piyush, and it was love at first bite. Continue reading

Pohe: A Maharashtrian Rice Snack (Vegan!)

Allow me to introduce you to one of my absolute favorite Indian dishes, Pohe!

pohe, bombay pohe, bombay snacks, vegan indian food, easy rice dish, indian breakfast, vegan indian breakfast, rice breakfast


Since Pohe is traditionally made and served in the west of India–specifically around Maharashtra– it’s not something most Bengali families would grow up eating.  Luckily for me (and you all!), Maa (my mother-in-law) learned to cook Pohe while Baba (father-in-law) worked in Mumbai…and boy, I’m glad she did!

This dish is often referred to as Kanda Pohe and is made from beaten rice flakes.  It usually includes onions, mustard seeds and large chunks of boiled potatoes. Ground turmeric gives it the bright, yellow color.  Continue reading

Easy Indian Spiced Shrimp with Garlic and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Yogurt, Garlic and Cilantro Dipping Sauce (Raita)

Yogurt, Garlic and Cilantro Dipping Sauce (Raita)

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful time celebrating the New Year!  2012 was a pretty good year for Piyush and I; and I’m so excited to see what 2013 has in store for us!

I’m also stoked (yes, I said “stoked!”) about what’s in store for My Fancy Pantry in 2013!  Thank you all for taking time out of your day to read what I write, cook what I cook, and especially for sharing your thoughts and comments with me.  I appreciate it more than I can even express! Continue reading

Chicken Sausage, Pesto and Gruyere Croissant Rolls…and a Giveaway!

Giveaway is now over!  Sadly, I didn’t get a response from Emily R. before the Jan. 2 deadline, so I have to pick a new winner.  Emily, if you read this…send me a message!  I can’t send you the sausages, but I’d love to send you a little something else! 

New winner:  Congratulations to commenter #3 (picked via random.org), tcarolinep!!!  I’ll be sending you an email! 

It’s no secret that my family loves cinnamon rolls.  Especially my Grandmother’s homemade cinnamon rolls.  Oh man!  They’re soft and doughy, sweet–but not too sweet–they’re everything you could ever want in a cinnamon roll…and more!

Because I work on Christmas this year, I won’t have time to go to Grandma’s and have a taste of her fluffy cinnamon rolls, nor will I have time to whip up a pan of my own.  Instead, I plan on making Piyush a quick and easy recipe using Gold’n Plump Chicken Sausages, pesto, gruyere and pre-packaged croissant roll dough.

Freshly baked Chicken Sausage Rolls

Freshly baked Chicken Sausage Rolls

Continue reading

Roasted Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Risotto with Gruyere

I’ve been a little preoccupied lately.

I have no excuses, and can’t even give a good reason why my blog hasn’t been regularly updated.  After all, I have been cooking.

I guess I just needed a break.

Now that the weather is changing, my yard has been (partially) cleaned up, and there’s a slight chill in the air…I can officially say the baking/creating/cooking season has begun!

I kicked off the season yesterday by making a Roasted Pumpkin and Sausage Risotto with Gruyere and Sage, and it was fabulous!

Roasted Pumpkin and Sausage Risotto with Gruyere and Sage

Continue reading

Gulab Jamuns and Kala Jamuns: Indian Sweet Success!

Whoa! I haven’t blogged for over a week! I had quite a few posts started, but I just couldn’t find the motivation (or the time!) to complete them.

But really, if I’m being honest, it’s probably mostly because I just wanted a break from the computer…and the kitchen.

Indian Sweet Kala Jumun

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you may remember my first attempt to make gulab jamuns.  If you’re new to my blog, Namaste and thank you for visiting! You can read all about this tasty little sweet HERE.

Although gulab jamuns are quite tasty, kala jamuns are definitely far superior in taste (in my not-so humble opinion).  Kala jumuns are simply blackened gulab jamuns.  A scant teaspoon (more or less, depending on your recipe) of sugar is added to the dough.

When the dough balls are fried, the sugar begins to caramelize, creating a dark colored shell.

Frying the dough balls

After a few minutes…

Kala Jamuns: Black Gulab Jamuns

I’m not really that good at frying things–remember when I melted the plastic spoon (what was I thinking?!) trying to deep fry samosas?–so some lessons I’ve learned when deep/shallow frying are:

  1.  Do not use plastic utensils.  This should be pretty self explanatory, but apparently it isn’t.  Either that, or I have no common sense.
  2. Don’t keep the heat turned to HIGH, you’ll end up burning your food–and yourself.
  3. Don’t put too many things in the oil at once.  The temperature will lower significantly and the food might be oily/mushy.
  4. Don’t use the wok.  I’m not sure why this didn’t work for me, because it seems like it’d be a great pan to fry stuff in.  But my oil got way too hot, way too fast…and wouldn’t cool down.  My food was burned on the outside and raw on the inside.  Maybe there’s some frying-with-a-wok secret that I’m not aware of?  Care to enlighten me?
  5. While frying stuff–especially things that cook relatively quickly–you’ve got to pay attention.  This isn’t the time to organize your spice cabinet, or unload the dishwasher.  Trust me.

Aside from frying the dough-balls, they also have to be rolled properly.  If your dough balls have cracks all over them, they will probably break apart in the oil.

They might also become hard in the centers…and no one enjoys hard gulab jamuns!  There are a few simple ways to avoid the cracking of your gulab jamun dough.

First, you’ll want to be sure the dough isn’t too dry.  You might need to add a little additional liquid–only a tiny bit at a time.  The ideal gulab jamun dough should be pretty soft, and not crumbly.  It also shouldn’t be sticky or overly wet.  You’re aiming to find a happy balance between wet and dry ingredients.

If your dough seems fine, then maybe you need to re-think your rolling technique.  What i do is pinch a piece of dough and roll a ball between my two hands.  The ball will usually have a few cracks.  Then, I simply flatten it in my hands and re-roll the ball.

The photo on the top is what my dough looked like after I just rolled it into a ball with my hands.  This is what that same piece of dough looked like after I flattened it and re-rolled it:

You can see it’s a pretty huge difference!

Now, since we’ve talked a little about technique, let’s get to the recipe!  This recipe is quite good–perfect, even.  It took quite a few trials, and a lot of failures;

FAIL! The dough was too wet and I used too much baking soda. The dough looked perfect, but as soon as it hit the oil it swelled huge…and then collapsed.  The oil also was not hot enough.

but I’ve finally figured out how to make this extremely popular Indian sweet at home!

After my first trial, I got quite a bit of feedback from blog readers (thank you!) and my in-laws.  In fact, Maa (my mother-in-law) was so determined to help me, she attempted to make a batch so she could give me some pointers (and a great recipe!).

Maa’s looked so pretty, so perfect;

Maa’s beautiful gulab jamuns

but sadly we don’t get fresh khoya (thickened milk “dough”) here in America.  And I definitely didn’t have time to sit over a stove and stir all day.  So I did a little searching and found a bunch of things I could use in replacement of the fresh khoya.

Luckily, I was able to find something called “mawa milk powder” at my local Indian market.  Mawa powder is probably the next best thing to actual fresh khoya.  It’s similar to milk powder–but it’s thicker.  It is basically a dried version of khoya (you can learn about the differences between regular milk powder and mawa powder HERE, if you’re interested).

So now that I had the mawa powder, I had to figure out how to turn it into khoya.  I did a lot of research online, and couldn’t really find a definite answer.  I found one recipe that said to use 2 cups mawa powder and 1 cup of liquid.  So I tried it.  I kept adding milk/mawa until I got the amount of khoya Maa told me I’d need.

The dough looked promising, but it just didn’t work.  The gulab jamuns fell apart in the oil and became quite flat.  After a lot of experimenting, I finally stumbled across the magic and mysterious ratio of mawa powder to liquid!

Kala Jamuns with a candied raspberry, pistachios and rose petals

The sugar syrup is quite easy.  Just toss 3 cups of sugar along with about 2 1/2 cups of water in a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat.  I added a few spices–cardamom and rosewater (I never really measure)–and let it cook for a good 20 minutes, until it thickened and became quite sticky.

When it’s the right consistency, remove from heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

You can add cardamom, clove, cinnamon, maple syrup, lavender, rose water…the options are endless!  Just be sure to taste and add a little at a time so that the spices don’t become overwhelming  (especially important with cinnamon and rosewater!).

This makes quite a lot of syrup, more than you’ll ever eat with the gulab jamuns.  When the sweets are gone, I strain the syrup into a bottle and toss it in the fridge, labeled as “Gulab Jamun Syrup”.  It’s perfect on pancakes, in coffee, or to use in baking!

Gulab Jamun (Kala Jamun) Recipe:

Makes approximately 15 gulab jamuns–depending what size you make the dough balls


  • 1 c. Mawa powder (available at Indian grocery stores, or online)
  • 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 2 small pinches baking soda (approximately 1/8 tsp.)
  • 4 to 6 tbsp. half & half (start with 4, add more if needed)
  • spices- as desired (cardamom, clove, cinnamon…ect. Add whatever you like, just be sure not to add too much)
  • 1 tsp. sugar (only if making kala jamuns, leave out if making gulab jamuns).


  • Heat a mixture of oil and ghee (I add about a tbsp. of ghee to whatever the amount of oil) in a heavy bottomed pan (I used a non-stick fry-pan).  You don’t need a ton of oil, maybe anywhere from 1/2 c. to 1 c. (this can be re-used a couple times).   Heat to approximately 300 degrees F.
  • While the oil is coming to temperature, toss all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  Knead the mixture for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and soft.  Add additional liquid, as needed.
  • Roll the dough into crack-free balls, about the size of a large marble.  They will expand while cooking.
  • Once the oil comes to temperature, fry the dough balls in batches–about 4 at a time–until the outsides become brown or black (for kala jamuns) and the interior is cooked.  This should take about 4 minutes.  Be sure to flip the balls around so that all parts have equal color.
  • Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel for 30 seconds to a minute.  Toss into the syrup.
  • Let the gulab jamuns sit in the syrup for at least 20 minutes to an hour before serving–for best flavor!

Kala jamuns, unlike gulab jamuns, are not traditionally served in a bowl of sugar syrup.  Instead, they are usually left to soak the syrup, and then served “dry.”  But I say, do what you want! 🙂  Rules are made to be broken!

This recipe is absolutely perfect, and I think it’s the closest I could possibly get to recreating what I tasted in India!  Especially for the kala jamuns.  The outsides were sweet, black and oh so tasty!  The insides were moist and soft–not at all dry!

Piyush and I enjoyed these outside with a steaming glass of chai.  Indian sweets pair excellently with chai!

We also shared most of the sweets with friends and family (after all, I made about 5 batches…I was determined to make them perfect!), but they can also be frozen along with some syrup.

If you freeze them, pop them in the microwave for a minute–or so–to warm them up!