Christmas fruit cake

This is my Christmas fruit cake, a dark, super tasty and full of flavour.

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g ground almond
  • 350g prunes and glacé cherries
  • 230g raisins
  • 35g candied orange peel
  • 175ml honey
  • 125ml spiced rum
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g muscovado sugar
  • 1 orange juice and zest
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp clove
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp baking powdered
  • ½ tsp baking soda

How to make it?????

Preheat the oven to 150C degree. Grease and line the cake tin with baking paper. Make the parchment paper larger than tin to protect the top of the cake from burning.

In a pot add dried fruits, spiced rum, butter, sugar, spices, lemon and orange zest, juice, honey, and coca powder.

Heat the mixture and bring it to a boil. Stirring the mixture and let to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down.

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Mix flour, ground almond, baking powder and baking soda together. Crack the eggs In a bowl and whisk them. Now add beaten eggs and flour mixture to the fruit mixture. Mix well until all ingredients combined.

Next, pour the cake batter into the lined cake tin.With a wooden or silicon spatula press the batter down.

Place the tin into the oven and bake it for about 2 hours or until top of the cake is hard and firm. You can test the cake with a skewer. If it comes out clean, it means cake is ready. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyy

When the cake is done, allow to cool for an hour in the tin and then remove it from the tin and peel the paper off. Before wrapping the cake, you need to feed the cake.

Feeding the cake puts back the moisture you lost during the baking and build the flavour. So, You can use a syringe and inject the liquid to the cake or use a chopstick, make few holes on top of cake to help liquid flow to the cake. You can feed the cake with 2-3 tbsp alcohol every two weeks until Christmas. But if you do not drink alcohol, there are non-alcohol options for feeding the cake too.

You can use cold earl grey tea or spicy tea or orange juice. Therefore, add 3 tbsp orange juice on top of the cake 3 or 4 times over the next couple of weeks. Then, Wrap the cake well in the grease proof or parchment paper and store it in the dry and cold area.

For decoration of the cake, there are loads of ideas:

– sprinkle icing sugar and top the cake with glace cherries or chocolates

brush over the hole cake with apricot jam and decorate, dust with icing sugar

or roll out with marzipan.

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Christmas fruit cake

Ingredients

150g plain flour

75g ground almond

350g prunes and glacé cherries

230g raisins

35g candied orange peel

175ml honey

125ml spiced rum

175g unsalted butter

175g muscovad0 sugar

1 orange juice and zest

1 lemon zest

3 eggs

2tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp clove

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp baking powdered

½ tsp baking soda

How to make it?????

Preheat the oven to 150C degree. Grease and line the cake tin with baking paper. Make the parchment paper larger than tin to protect the top of the cake from burning.

In a pot add dried fruits, spiced rum, butter, sugar, spices, lemon and orange zest, juice, honey, and coca powder.

Heat the mixture and bring it to a boil. Stirring the mixture and let to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down.

Mix flour, ground almond, baking powder and baking soda together. Crack the eggs In a bowl and whisk them. Now add beaten eggs and flour mixture to the fruit mixture. Mix well until all ingredients combined.

Next, pour the cake batter into the lined cake tin.

With a wooden or silicon spatula press the batter down.

Place the tin into the oven and bake it for about 2 hours or until top of the cake is hard and firm. You can test the cake with a skewer. If it comes out clean, it means cake is ready.

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyy

When the cake is done, allow to cool for an hour in the tin and then remove it from the tin and peel the paper off. Before wrapping the cake, you need to feed the cake.

Feeding the cake puts back the moisture you lost during the baking and build the flavour. So,

You can use a syringe and inject the liquid to the cake or use a chopstick, make few holes on top of cake to help liquid flow to the cake. You can feed the cake with 2-3 tbsp alcohol every two weeks until Christmas.

But if you do not drink alcohol, there are non-alcohol options for feeding the cake too.

You can use cold earl grey tea or spicy tea or orange juice. Therefore, add 3tbsp orange juice on top of the cake 3 or 4 times over the next couple of weeks. Then, Wrap the cake well in the greaseproof or parchment paper and store it in the dry and cold area.

For decoration of the cake, there are loads of ideas:

– sprinkle icing sugar and top the cake with glace cherries or chocolates

brush over the hole cake with apricot jam and decorate, dust with icing sugar

or roll out with marzipan.

Spicy Hot Chocolate

I had my best hot chocolates in the Wedel café at Warsaw. In cold winters of Warsaw, real hot chocolate is great. This café serves amazing hot chocolate, that is totally deliciousو with different flavours such as: mint, strawberry, ….. Those hot chocolates were tasty, and so thick that your lips stock together, and always served with a cup of hot water.

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Having a cup of real good hot chocolate is  just being  over the moon. So,  yesterday was cold and  I remembered those delicious hot chocolates and decided to make it at home. It just would take 10 minutes to have a lovely hot chocolate.

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Ingredients

  • 300g good quality chocolate
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preparation
Put milk into a pan, bring it to a simmer. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, vanilla extract, and pieces of chocolate.

When chocolate melted, remove the pot from the heat. Using a tea strainer, remove the leftover spices.
Pour the hot chocolate into your glass or mugs and enjoy it.

 

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Spicy Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
  • 300g good quality chocolate
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
Preparation
Put milk into a pan, bring it to a simmer. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, vanilla extract, and pieces of chocolate. When chocolate melted, remove the pot from the heat. Using a tea strainer, remove the leftover spices.
Pour the hot chocolate into your glass or mugs.

 

Three Tasty-Easy Recipes for Leftover Rice

There are two things that are staple foods in the Iranian cuisine: rice and bread. They eat rice with different kinds of meat stews or vegetable dishes. In North of Iran, near the Caspian Sea, there are beautiful rice fields which are widely famous for cultivation of different kinds of Persian rice.

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You can make 10s of gorgeous dishes with white/brown or wild rice. You can make rice with stew, curry, beautiful green herbs and vegetables or spices. You can cook rice in a rice cooker, in microwave or on the stove.

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Anyway, what led me to talk about rice was that sometimes after a party we have leftover rice on hand, so instead of wasting it, you would be better to turn your leftover plain rice into a fabulous new rice dish 🙂

I have three easy- quick and tasty recipes for turning your rice into lentils rice, herbed rice and potato rice.

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Ingredients for lentils rice

  • one cup lentils

  • 1 cube meat or vegetable stock

  • ½ tsp cumin powder

  • Pinch of black pepper

  • Butter

How to make it?????

Bring to a boil, add lentils, one vegetable or meat stock,  pepper and cumin. Reduce heat and simmer until they are tender but not mushy( it takes typically 20-30 minutes) and usually  it depends on the age of your lentils. Once it is cooked, add it to the leftover rice and gently mix. Spread some melted butter all over the rice and serve it.

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Ingredients for herbed rice

  • small bunch of chives or spring onions, finely chopped
  • small bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

How to make it?????

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped herbs, seasoning with salt, pepper, cinnamon and cumin. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and stir in sautéed herbs and gently combine and allow it up for few minutes  and serve it.

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Ingredients for rice and potatoes

  • 5 baby potatoes

  • Pinch of chilli flakes

  • butter

  • Salt to taste

How to make it?????

Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water. Bring it to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender. Drain and add melted butter and sprinkle chilli flakes on them. Serve the rice in a plate and top it with buttery potatoes.

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My Pumkin-Walnuts Dessert

An easy recipe for a delicious and  humble dessert.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pumpkin
  • ½ cup walnuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

 

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How to make it???

Preheat your oven to 176 C.

Rinse off the pumpkin. Cut off pumpkin lid. Use a knife to stab outer shell a few times, to allow for ventilation. Then place the pumpkin in a glass baking dish and transfer the dish into the oven to roast for about 45-60 minutes. The duration for roasting depending on the size of the pumpkin.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, add crushed walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and fry for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Once the pumpkin is roasted, Let to cool down, Use a spoon and scrape out the seeds. Cut pumpkin into slices but do not need to separate the slices ( as you see in the photos).

Fill centre of pumpkin with fried walnuts and sprinkle some icing sugar top of it.

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My Pumpkin-Walnuts Dessert

Ingredients

1 pumpkin

½ cup walnuts, crushed

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1tbsp unsalted butter

How to make it???

Preheat your oven to 176C.

Rinse off the pumpkin. Cut off pumpkin lid. Use a knife to stab outer shell a few times, to allow for ventilation. Then place the pumpkin in a glass baking dish and transfer the dish into the oven to roast for about 45-60 minutes. The duration for roasting depending on the size of the pumpkin. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, add crushed walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and fry for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Once the pumpkin is roasted, Let to cool down, Use a spoon and scrape out the seeds. Cut pumpkin into slices but do not need to separate the slices ( as you see in the photos).

Fill centre of pumpkin with fried walnuts and sprinkle some icing sugar top of it.

 

Persian rice with sour cherries (Albaloo polo)

Sour cherry or Morello cherry is called ‘ Albaloo’ in Persian language. Iranian housewives make different things with albaloo such as: sour cherr juice, hot and cold drinks, jam and stew, cake and cookies. One of the Iranian famous rice dish is called Alballoo polo/pilaf which is made with sour cherries, spices and different meats such as: beef, lamb, or chicken and meat balls.

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The spices used in this pilaf vary but typically include Persian saffron and cinnamon. In Iranian cuisine there are wonderful mild sweet dishes such as: Fesenjan, Jewelled rice, Basterma pilaf, Albaloo polo and . And, and………….

Albaloo polo is mind blowing rice dish with combination of sweet/tangy taste. It’s moist and fluffy with plenty of morello cherries.

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups sour cherries
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 300 g chicken breast or thigh, cooked
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 2 tbsp Persian saffron water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

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How to make???

Soak the rice in salted water for an hour. Meanwhile, Place deseeded cherries in a pan. Add sugar and simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes. Then place the cherries in a colander and let to drain the juice.

Melt the butter in a pan. Add cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, 1 tbps saffron water and stir. Then add cooked chicken to the butter and fry for 5 minutes. In this point, toss in the cherries and fry for 5 minutes more and set aside.

Pour in water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Drain the salted water of rice and add the rice to the boiling water and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse the rice with cold water.

Add some oil to the pot, place a tortilla bread over the oiled base. Place some rice over the bread, then place half of the cherries and chicken mixture. Repeat until the rice and cherries mixture are used up.

Pour some saffron water, and albaloo juice over the rice. Place pieces of butter top of the rice. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 20 minutes on medium to low heat.

Serve the rice in a plate along with the crispy tortilla from bottom of the pot that is called ‘ Tahdig’ in Farsi.

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French Toast

French toast is one tastiest bread dish which is slices of bread soaked in mixture of egg and milk or cream with lovely spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

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French toast is known with different names such as gypsy toast, German toast, or eggy bread.

Cooked slices of bread might be served as a sweet dish with maple syrup , jam or honey and might be served as a savory dish with tomato sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 4 thick slices of bread
  • Butter
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup cream
  • 3tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

How to make it??

In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and cream.Butter the slices of bread on both sides. Then soak the slices of bread in the egg mixture for 10 minutes, and turning to coat boat sides.

Fry the slices of bread on lightly greased on a skillet on medium heat until browned on both side.

Transfer the French toast to a plate and pour over honey , jam or maple syrup.

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French toast

Ingredients

  • 4 thick slices of bread
  • Butter
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup cream
  • 3tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

How to make it??

In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and cream.Butter the slices of bread on both sides. Then soak the slices of bread in the egg mixture for 10 minutes, and turning to coat boat sides.Fry the slices of bread on lightly greased on a skillet on medium heat until browned on both side. Transfer the French toast to a plate and pour over honey , jam or maple syrup.

Tahchin Shevid- Baghali (Persian Dill & Broad Beans Rice Cake

Traditionally this rice dish is called Tahchin or upside down rice also known as Persian baked rice cake. Tahchin is an Iranian divine rice dish with beautiful presentation. It’s made of layered meat and rice. It may not look like much from the outside but the combination of cooked meat, yogurt, egg and aromatic spices with rice create a crunchy outer crust and soft inside rice. We Iranians love our Tahchin.

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There are different versions of Tahchin made with red meat, chicken, and vegetables. My today’s Tahchin is made with combination of dill or (ُُ Shevid  in Persian) and broad beans or (Baghali  in Persian) with chicken .

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups Iranian rice ( due to it’s amazing aroma and taste)

  • 400 g chicken fillet, cooked and diced

  • 2 cups Broad beans or Fava beans, cooked

  • 1 cup dried dill

  • 500 g Greek yogurt

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp cardamom

  • 3 tbsp Persian saffron water

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Vegetable oil

 

How to make it

Yogurt is important ingredient in making Tahchin. We need a sort of thick yogurt, therefore, I have used a traditional way that my mother used to apply and make a thick creamy yogurt by Pouring regular yogurt into a double layer of cheesecloth or kitchen cloth. Tied up the cloth.. Hang it over a bowl and leave to drain overnight. ( as you will see in the following photos).. You would see the liquid left in the bowl. Resulting is a thick yogurt.  Wash the rice. Soak it in the salted water for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, fry the onion until slightly soft. Add diced chicken meat. Stir in salt- pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, dried rose petal, dried dill and Fava beans ( just keep 1 tbsp of Fava bean for later) for 2-3 minutes.

Now, In a bowl, mix yogurt with eggs, 2 tbsp of Persian saffron water, pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk it until combine well and set aside.

Pour water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Drain salted water of rice and add the rice to the boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes.

Using a colander and drain the rice.Add half of the drained rice and half of the chicken mixture into the yogurt mixture bowl and gently blend together.

Pour some oil into a non stick pot or pan, spread 1 tbsp of plain fava bean on the bottom of the pot. Spread rice mixture into the pot ( as you see in the photos) and flatten with wooden spoon or spatula.

Then, layer second half of the chicken mixture around the edges of the surface. Finally, layer with second half of the white rice and cover the entire surface. Flatten the top with the back of a large spatula or spoon while pressing down( as you see in the photo). Pour 1 tbsp of saffron water over the rice.

Place the pot on medium heat for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat cover the pot with a lid and cook it for 45-60 minutes until the crust forms.

Once rice is done, let it cool for few minutes. Place a serving platter on top of the pot and gently turn the pot over, Voila you have a wonderful rice cake shape dish. Sooooooooo delish.

 

 

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Harissa ( Wheat Bulgar Porridge From South of Iran)

Haleem,  or hareesa is a thick and delicious porridge. Basically, this dish is made of boiled ground wheat or barley (bulgur) mixed with spiced meat….Haleem ( Halim) is popular dish in Iran, Arab countries around the Persian Gulf, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

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Haleem, hareesa, Jareesh, Keskeh or Arizah has different recipes and varies from region to region.

Haresse or halim is a dish for breakfast, and very popular especially during month of the Ramadan and also as a breakfast in the weekends. According to Wikipedia, the first written Hareese recipe dates back to the 10th century.

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This is a slow cooked dish for 6-7 hours. My following recipe belongs to South of Iran and in  cities South of Iran, this dish is called ‘ Hareese’ that is served as breakfast. 

The meat for this dish might be lamb, beef, mutton, turkey or chicken. The key point is frying the meat in spices such as turmeric and cinnamon which gives it amazing flavour.

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Ingredients

  • 250g lamb meat
  • 1 cup wheat bulgur, soaked in the water overnight
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2tbsp black or white sesame seeds
  • butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

Heat the oil in a pot and add the meat. Fry the meat until brown. Then add turmeric and 1 half of cinnamon powder to the meat and saute for 2 minutes. This will give lovely flavour to the meat. Now add water to the pot and bring it to a boil.

Drain the bulgur and once water starts to boil, add, pinch of salt, bulgur, black sesame seeds, and sugar.

Reduce the heat and allow to cook until meat is tender and dish is thickened. Once dish has reached to consistency, you need to mash it. Traditionally a wooden masher was used, but nowadays you can use a blender or mixer and make it puree.

Serve harissa in a platter, topping with melted butter, cinnamon, sugar and sesame seeds.

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Sheermal Bread ( Naan Sheermal)

Sheermal/shirmal bread naan  is a traditional mildly sweet flatbread in Iran. Sheer means milk in Persian language,and because the dough is kneaded with milk instead of water , it’s called sheermal, means a bread made with milk.

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Sheermal bread is popular in Iran, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Semnan سمنان is located in South of foothills of Alborz Mountains. Semnan is one of historical and ancient cities of Iran, which was an important city throughout the era of the Persian Achaemenid Empire ( 550-330BC).

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Anyway, if you travel to ancient city of Semnan and towns around Semnan, among the souvenirs of this city, such as pistachio, walnuts, local breads, silk made cloth, halva, candy sugar and fruit leather, Sheermal bread naan is very popular between tourists, that is baked in Seman city for over 100 years.

Sheermal bread naan is one of bread for month of Ramadan.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 100 g melted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten as egg wash
  • 1 tbsp dried yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

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Instructions

In a bowl, mix sugar, yeast, and milk warm together.

 

In other bowl mix flour with salt and then pour milk mixture, beaten egg, and melted butter in it. Combine together. Oil your hand and knead the dough with your hand for 6-7 minutes until is smooth and no longer sticky.

Cover the dough, and let to rest until double in size. You can leave the dough in a corner of your kitchen in room temperature , to rise but it will take long time dough double in size but if preheat the oven for few minutes, and then turn off the oven and by this way you can create a warm environment to speed the dough to proof and rising up.

Preheat  the oven to 160C.Line your baking tray with parchment paper and once dough is ready, place it on the parchment paper. Sprinkle some flour top of it and deflate the dough.

Cover the dough and let to rest for another 20 minutes. Then give favourite decoration or design to the bread.

Egg wash top of the dough and garnish with sesame seeds. Sprinkle pinch of cinnamon powder on the dough. Transfer the dough into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

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Golap Sweets (Rose Pitha )

I love to try foods and sweets from different countries. One of those beautiful desserts that I tried a famous dessert from Bangladesh that is called Golap pitha.

 

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Golap means rose. Making these pretty colourful roses is lots of fun and they are very tasty. They look gorgeous with lovely sweet taste of spices such as cardamom or cinnamon.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp Ghee or butter
  • ّFood colouring

 

For syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Pinch of cardamom or cinnamon

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Instructions

Add milk, flour and ghee to a pan on low heat and mix well. Stir continuously and cook it for 2 minutes. Then remove from the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes. Next, Place it on a board and knead the dough for 2 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. If you wish to have multi coloured sweets roses, add pinch of food colouring to the dough and set aside.

Using a rolling pan, roll each ball into a thin flat dough. Use a glass and cut flattened dough and cut into small circles. Roll small piece of dough and make tiny drop shape dough.( see the photos).

For making a rose, you need 3 of theses small circles. Place 3 small circles on top of each other make a hollow with your finger in the centre of dough. from the centre of the dough make 3 cuts ( as you see in the photo).

Put the small drop in the centre and start to fold each petal round the drop. Keep doing until finish all petals.

Cut the green colour dough into leaf shapes. Add one cup sugar and cardamom with 1 ½ cups water to a pot and dissolve the sugar. Let it boil for 5 minutes until it become a little thick.

Heat the oil on a medium heat and fry rose shaped dough until it fried and cooked inside. Take out fried Golap pitha from the oil and soak in warm syrup for a minute and transfer it to a plate.

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