Rangaloor Puli (Sweet Potato Dumplings stuffed with Coconut Filling)

IMG_4010Rangaloor Puli is traditional Bengali dessert made mid January, around Sankranti or Poush Parbon (Harvest festival). Freshly harvested paddy, produce and date syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur (Jaggery) is used to make a variety of delicious goodness like Rangaloor PuliPayeshGokul Pithe, Pati-shopta, nonta pithe and Koraishutir KochuriIn our household this day was even more significant because it also is the day my mom was born. Growing up I remember all those lovely Sankranti plus Birthday parties my parents hosted every year.IMG_4015These words from my beloved Jethima (aunt) to my mom says it all – “We got to eat all the traditional Sankranti goodies of Bengal. You were the most hard worked birthday girl I’ve ever seen. We were there in large numbers but you kept filling then rolling out and frying mounds upon mounds of Motorshutir Kochuris. These Kochris were always accompanied by RangaAlur Pethe. Subir my dear devar was ever ready to peel those kilos upon kilos of peas and to grind them in the mixie. What a wonderful couple the two of you made. I shall always cherish those memorable days we spent in and out of one another’s home. With all my love Jharnadi”
IMG_4009My Husband absolutely loves this! And if the way to a mans heart is through his stomach, this definitely is a quick escalator ride. As soon as we are done wishing each other Happy New Year, he wants to know when I will be making these and I oblige every year!

Time for Prep: 45 mins     Time to Cook: 25 mins     Yield: 18-20 pieces     Level: Medium

Ingredients:

  • For the filling:
    • 2 cups grated Coconut
    • 1 cup Khoya (milk thickened by heating in an open pan)*
    • 1 cup Jaggery or sugar
  • For the outer layer:
    • 2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes
    • 2-3 tbsp all purpose flour*
    • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • For the syrup:
    • 1.5 cups sugar (3/4 cup sugar +3/4 cup jaggery)*
    • 1.5 cups water
    • 1/2 tsp cardamon powder
    • pinch of saffron
    • 1 tbsp rose water (optional)

Process:

  1. Making the stuffing:
    • In a heavy bottom pan over medium heat, combine the coconut and jaggery, let the jaggery dissolve completely. Add the Khoya.
    • Cook open over medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan until you get a thick mixture. Let it cool.
    • Once cool, divide into 18-20 equal portion and set aside.
  2. Making the outer layer of Rangaloo:
    • Pre-heat oven to 400F/ 200C, peel the potatoes and roughly chop them in chunks. Bake for 35-40 mins.*
    • Let it cool, then mash them a little.
    • Add the flour and knead to a dough, soft and not sticky. Be careful not to over mash, because the potatoes will get very starchy and will be impossible to work with.
    • Divide into 18-20 equal portion, in the shape of ball.
    • (OR)
    • Boil the potatoes until soft, peel, mash, divide.
  3. Making the syrup:
    • In a saucepan, combine sugar/ jaggery and water, add cardamon powder. Stir till the sugar/ jaggery is dissolved and boil till one string consistency, around 10 mins.
    • Add rose water and stir it in. This just adds to the fragrance and sweetness of the syrup.
  4. Assembling the Puli:
    • Flatten one of the balls of potato dough, using your fingers.
    • Place the coconut stuffing in the center and carefully fold to a semi-circle.
    • Seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining balls.
  5. Cooking:*
    • Pre-heat oven to broil. Baste the semi-circle assembled puli with oil and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Broil for 5-8 mins, turn the puli and repeat.
    • Take them out and dunk them in the sugar syrup
    • (OR)
    • Heat oil in a frying pan for deep frying and deep fry the puli until golden brown, dunk into the syrup.

Let them soak in syrup for 8-10 mins. Serve Warm or Cold.

Notes:

  • For a lactose free (Vegan) and gluten free delight, skip the khoya and instead of all purpose flour use a blend of coconut, almond and rice flour (1:1:1 ratio)
  • Traditionally this dish is made with 100% Khejurer gur, a special type of jaggery made with the sap of date palm trees. But its almost impossible to get some in US, so I make this with blend of date sugar and coconut sugar instead. It has the same flavor but easier to find (and a lot healthier).
  • I prefer baking the potatoes instead of boiling because it ensures that there is no extra moisture that I need to worry about.
  • For the final cooking, this year I broiled a few in the oven and deep fried a few. Got it taste tested by friends and no one could tell the difference!
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Summer Squash and Lentil Stew

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Fall is my favorite season! The change of hue in leaves and the blue of the sky, the nip in the air, warm ciders, the festive feel around. With the chill also comes cravings for fresh warm food. My menu is usually dominated by parathas, stews and soups. Farmers market at this time of the year is all about squashes, pears, apples and cauliflower, so is most of the food I cook.

Fall is also the busiest time of the year for my artist career, prepping for the holiday season and my goal with cooking is to make wholesome quick meals. This is just that.

I used summer squash, you can get creative and use other vegetables too. This recipe calls for shallots, simply because I like how they punch in a lot of flavor and integrate easily and cherry tomatoes for the sweetness. You can use 1 regular onion and 1 regular sized tomato instead. The wine and vinegar is optional. The wine add a sweet fruity flavor and the vinegar a sourness that I like, but if you don’t have it handy don’t let that stop you from trying this, a pinch of sugar and some lemon juice will also work great!

I cooked the Lentil and Squash separately because the cooking time of the two is different. If you cook them together, all the squash will become mushy and pasty.

This goes great with Baguettes, rice, pulao or Quinoa Cakes.

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Time for Prep: 10 mins     Time to Cook: 35 mins     Yield: 4-6 Servings     Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or any cooking oil you prefer)
  • 3-4 shallots, finely diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup sherry (optional)
  • 2 cups french green lentils, rinsed and soaked for 30 mins
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (optional)
  • 2 cups summer squash, chopped
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 6-7 basil leaves, rolled into a bundle and cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Process:

  1. Cooking the Lentil:
    1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, 1 tsp cayenne and salt.
    2. Sauté until softened, about 3-4 mins. Add the wine and sauté till the onions begin to caramelize, around 4-5 mins more.
    3. Add the lentils, green peas and chopped carrots, stir them in and sauté for 2-3 mins.
    4. Add water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender. Around 20 mins.
  2. Cooking the squash:
    1. While the lentils are cooking, heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, summer squash, 1 tsp cayenne and salt. Cook till tender.
  3. Once the lentils are cooked add the sherry vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Putting it together:
    1. Add the cooked summer squash to the lentil and start it in (Or)
    2. In a bowl fist ladle in the lentil, then top it with the squash.
  5. Garnish with basil leaves.