Sweet Potato & Coconut Pudding / Halava

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I was looking for sweet potatoes in the market on Friday, which was Marathi New Year. I got it listed under “yam” but as this article on the Kitchn would explain, it is really a sweet potato. When I bought it I had no idea that it would be so surprisingly orange within, unlike the purplish cream-colored ones I had always seen in India.

Anyway, today I made this dessert which I was planning to make on Friday, about three days late than the new year day! But that’s alright, as long as I get to enjoy this satisfying bowl of dessert. The common Indian recipe would be lacto-vegetarian and would use milk and ghee. However, I was looking forward to make a dairy-free vegan version, so substituted that with coconut milk and fresh grated coconut. For sweetness, I chose to rely upon dates, instead of using any refined sugar.

SWEET POTATO & COCONUT PUDDING  or HALAVA

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato.
7 dates (yeah, the magic number, like 7 Harry Potter books!)
1.5 cups of coconut milk
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (I used frozen)
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom powder (really adds the Indian touch… but can be substituted with cinnamon powder as well)
Chopped nuts like almond/ pistachio for garnish (optional)
A pinch or two of salt
1-2 tbspoon olive oil

Method:

  1. Shred sweet potato into thin strips using mandolin.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add shredded sweet potato. Sprinkle salt. Stir for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk, chopped dates, and cardamom powder to the pan. Cover it and let the sweet potato cook. Takes about 10 minutes. It may require intermittent stirring.
  4. Take care than sweet potato does not become too mushy. It would absorb the coconut milk but don’t wait till it becomes very dry. We need a consistency that is characteristic of pudding or halava.
  5. When it is time to take it off the heat, mix in the fresh coconut for bringing the extra texture.
  6. Garnish with chopped nuts.

Like any pudding or halava, you can have it while it is still warm or cool it in fridge before serving. It tastes nice both ways.

Vegan Bread Pudding

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My first attempt at baking was a dairy-free bread pudding, posted on this blog sometime back. After some more dabbling in baking vegan breads, I thought now I should attempt completely vegan bread pudding as well. Anyway, I had two of week-old pita loaves lying in fridge (first of those loaves, I had already used for kale halloumi sandwich). Leftover bread in fridge and bananas in basket. What other excuse I needed to make a sweet treat midweek, right? 🙂

VEGAN BREAD PUDDING

Ingredients:

2 pita loaves
1 banana
1 cup of frozen mango chunks
2 cups of flax milk (based on your preference, you can use other non-dairy or even dairy milk)
4 tbspoons of flax seed powder
3 tbspoons of chia seeds
1 cup water
3 tbspoons of maple syrup (you may hike it up, if you prefer it sweeter)
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon powder  (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg powder (optional)
2 tbspoon of almond butter plus some more for coating the pudding mould
2-3 tbspoons of oats/ oat flour for coating the pudding mold

Method:

  1. Preheat oven on 400 F.
  2. In a bowl mix flax seed powder and chia seeds with water. Mix together and keep aside for 15 minutes. It would form into a gelatinous paste.
  3. Coat the pudding mold with almond butter and sprinkle oats/ oat flour over it.
  4. In the mold, arrange bite-sized pieces of bread loaves, sliced banana, and mango chunks. Pour almond butter and give a mix to let the bread and fruit chunks coat with it.
  5. In a saucepan, heat the flax seed milk, add maple syrup, cardamom powder, cinnamon powder, and nutmeg powder.
  6. To this, slowly add the chia-flex gel and constantly whisk the mixture, so as to avoid forming any lumps.
  7. Keep stirring this custard and bring it to boil.
  8. Pour this hot custard over the bread and fruits arranged in the pudding mold. Let it seat for 5 minutes.
  9. Bake the pudding for 45 minutes at 400 F. Keep a water bath inside oven in such a way that it does not disturb the pudding mold.

Ideally, then one should take the pudding out and then let it cool on the rack. But I had to run to the library after baking it and I did not want to let the it cool uncovered for five hours in my absence. Covering it while it was still hot, would make it  sweat. So I let the pudding cool slowly on its own in the oven itself. Thankfully, it did not affect the pudding.

Just perfectly sweet, not overbearing and bringing all different tastes and textures together. And the caramelized fruit chunks in between…  Aha 🙂

Healthy snack bars, from the Thug Kitchen

In the local library few weeks back, I came across- Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook. It was such an amusing find. Not only for its writing style but also for the recipes…. more importantly the philosophy. Cooking at home with making right choices on nutrition and health is not as difficult as it is made to sound sometimes.

The obscurity of packaged foods in its content of salts and sugars cause the bane of our contemporary eating styles. So more I learn to recreate the food items I like at home, better I feel about it. Invariably, the home-cooked food would excel over the store-brought. Of course, the time that one spends on making these wonders happen is always the crux point for most of us. So no-fuss recipes are always welcome. The Thug Kitchen’s recipe for what they called as To-go breakfast bars fitted the bill.

I made only few tweaks to their way, based on what I had in my pantry. I skipped the sugar altogether because the sweetness from the maple syrup was enough for my energy bars.

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Here’s what I did:

ENERGY BARS

Ingredients:

2 cup oats
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup millet
1 and 1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts or seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
1/4 cup refined coconut  or olive oil
1tsp orange extract

For nuts and seeds, I used walnut and sunflower seeds. Didn’t have millets so used oats again.

Recipe:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line the baking tray with parchment paper. Spray olive oil on it and sprinkle with some oat flour.

Heat another pan over medium heat and pour in the oats and quinoa. Stir them around until they get a bit toasty – for about  5 min.

Combine nuts and cranberries in large bowl, then add the toasted oats/quinoa. Stir all these dry ingredients together.

In a saucepan, combine maple syrup, almond butter, oil and essence and warm everything until it’s melted.

Pour this all over the dry mix of oats, quinoa, nuts and stir with spatula until everything is mixed and coated evenly.

Pour the mix into your baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes. It would have golden color and fill the room with most enchanting aroma 🙂

Cut into bars while its still hot. Then cool at room temperature and then in fridge.

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We have so far enjoyed it as a to-go breakfast, late noon snack, and dessert.  A young friend of ours even had it with a cup of soy milk. Thank you Thug Kitchen!