Raspberry Meyer Lemonade with Basil seeds

Raspberry Meyer Lemonade with Sweet Basil seeds and Brown Sugar

Ever since I discovered them early last year, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with them. They are without a doubt, a thing of beauty in themselves, in their vibrant color, dainty ambrosial aroma and a sweeter, quaint citrus taste.

An infinitesimal inhalation of their fragrance is enough to freshen one up. I am confessing my love (yet again) for none other than the golden offspring of lemon and (presumably) mandarin orange, the exotic sunshine fruit of california, Meyer Lemons.

If you give them a tiny chance in your kitchen, surely, you will too!

Be forewarned though, once you are hooked on to their ethereal perfume and resplendent looks, don’t blame me, if you start looking down upon the regular “run off the mill” lemons for which I will only respond with “I told you so..

I’d say, when life hands you Meyer Lemons, life is beautiful..

Though these lemony beauties peak in winter, sometimes if you are lucky, you might find them in Whole Foods up until end of April or early May, like I did last year.

So, lose no time to revel in their goodness now.. So, if you have a backyard, a tiny garden, or even a balcony, just spare the much ignored corner for a meyer lemon tree for a long lasting gratification..

With spring gone in the first couple of weeks of its arrival, April afternoons already feel more like a trailer of blazing summer from June, where I live in Texas. Don’t even get me thinking on what August might have in store!

While making lemonade out of Meyer Lemons was the most fool proof idea to cool off, like I made Meyer Lemon Paanaka in Indian style last summer, this time, it seemed fascinating to combine it with the natural pink of raspberries and some fun textured Tukmaria for an almost dreamy, amber colored cooling drink I could ever imagine.

Forget herbs or spices to flavor, if you allow the perfumania of meyer lemons to steal the show!

My discovery of Tukmaria (pronounced “Took-maria”) was through my mom-in-law when she came to visit us last year. While we walked the aisles of the Indian grocery store in exploration of new spices, I was intrigued by its strange sounding name. And it was from her, I learnt that it is used most commonly in Falooda (a persian dessert, introduced to India by the Mughals) and that it is a natural coolant as well.After some time consuming research (aka googling), I also learnt that, Tukmaria (in Hindi) is the seed of the Sweet Basil plant also known as St. John’s wort in European countries. It is not the same as Holy basil or Tulsi, though it looks similar.

And, through a friend, I realized that sweet basil is the same as “Kaama Kasturi” (kannada) – the sweet clove scented fragrant sprig many-a-times inter sewn in jasmine (mallige) or jaaji floral strings and garlands. Those of you from Karnataka might recognize instantly. I don’t recollect any culinary use for it though, I’ve heard it to be a medicinal herb.

And, they are sold under many a names like sabja, subja, tukmaria, takmaria and falooda seeds

This site has some detailed information about the plant.

Sweet basil seeds resemble black sesame seeds in color and tear drop shape, but are clearly distinguishable as they are a wee bit smaller and plumper too. When soaked in water, they swell up and appear to be frog spawn look-a-likes. Pardon my choice for analogy, being a vegetarian! They can be compared to tiny tapioca pearls, if it gives you a better idea.

They do not have any distinct taste of their own, but their slimy jelly exterior and the nutty bite of the interior make them quite fun in a mouthful!

If you can’t find Tukamaria/Sweet basil seeds, Chia seeds make a great substitute. Why, they swell in water very much like basil seeds and they are an antioxidant powerhouse as we know it, which makes me wonder if Sweet basil seeds must be equally potent too?

Have you heard of Tukmaria before? How do you like to use Tukmaria in your recipes?

Raspberry Tukmaria Meyer Lemonade Recipe

makes 4 small glasses of lemonade
Printable Recipe

Things you’ll need:

4 meyer lemons
12 raspberries
1 tbsp tukmaria/ sweet basil seeds
6-7 tbsp brown sugar
3 cups water
a pinch of salt

How it’s done:

Soak the takmaria seeds in 1/2 cup water for about 30 mins.

In the meanwhile, wash, cut and squeeze the meyer lemons. Gently rolling the lemons wrapped in a tissue under the feet puts the right amount of pressure and makes most of the juice available for squeezing. If you aren’t comfortable, do so with your palm. Wash the lemons well before using.

It will be nothing short of a blunder if you discard the meyer lemon peels. If you’ll take my words, find a clean, dry jar (glass or porcelain, canning, anything), quarter the used peels and toss them in. layer them with sea salt and preserve to be used as is or pickled later.

Strain the seeds. Transfer the juice to a sauce pan or microwave safe bowl and add brown sugar to the juice. Add a pinch of salt. Either microwave for 30 secs or heat on stove top on sim for a few minutes until sugar dissolves. This will be quick. Stir well with a spoon to dissolve any remaining sugar.

Add 2-1/2 cups of water to the sugar syrup and stir to mix well. Taste the juice to adjust the sugar. I listed 6-7 tbsp sugar, so you can suit to your taste. 6 tbsp leaves a quaint tartness, while 7 tbsp makes it sweeter.

Wash the raspberries and pat dry. In a small bowl, crush them with the back of a spoon or with your fingers. Add some juice to this and wash off the crushed raspberries into the juice bowl. Add some juice to the soaked tukmaria and wash it off into the juice bowl. Stir to mix well.

Refrigrate and serve chilled.

Note: 

Tukmaria is available in most Indian grocery stores, persian food stores and world food markets.

The amber color of the lemonade is mainly due to the use of brown sugar. White sugar might result in a faint pink lemonade.

For those of you who can’t access tukmaria locally, it is available at myspicesage.com

Don’t see why strawberries can’t be substituted for raspberries. Puree strawberries before mixing.

If you decide to preserve the meyer lemon peels, it is preferable to sit the jars in boiling water for sterilization and let them dry completely before use.

Treat yourself to more:

  

Maavina Hannu Seekarane | Aamras | Mango Pulp in Coconut MilK

Mango Pulp in Jaggery sweetened Cardamom Coconut Milk

Is it that time of the year, already? Talk about March madness.. means different things to different people..isn’t it?

March brings in the onset of spring, a thing of beauty and joy forever… It is also the time when the Indian Summer bears fruit. Not something ordinary, but the king of fruits – the one and only Mango. And this is exactly the time of the year, I want to be nowhere else, than in India and my hometown Bengalooru (and Mysore), to gorge on these luscious juicy beauties by the basket full. Well, at least I wish!

When I am just left with wishing, I run to the nearest Sam’s and buy a box full of Ataulfo mangoes, fill them in a brown bag, put them in the darkest corner of the laundry room and wait for them to ripen. After a couple of days when they’re ready, I ‘try’ to satiate my mango cravings with these fully ripe, not so flavorful, not as juicy and not quite sweet ‘mango look a likes’ of Indian mangoes…


Eating a mango is more than just delicious, it is pure fun – licking the juice running down the palm or squishing the pulp off the seed to leave no trace of the fruit on it are some of the few times when messy is good! And that is how I always love to eat them..

But, once in a while, when I need a little extra with minimal sophistication, I love this simple Seekarane desert recipe. This is as close a desert can get to real fruit. This recipe needs no selling. The ingredients do all the talking for themselves.

Seekarane or Rasayana is a traditional dessert prepared by squeezing ripe mangoes to pulp, may be due to the lack of mixer/grinders in that era. Even with the latest kitchen gadgets today, I wouldn’t change a thing about how it is made. That’s just me, I guess!

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, Maavina Hannu is Mango in Kannada btw..

So, what is your favorite mango dessert?

Maavina Hannu Seekarane Recipe

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:

4 small-medium ripe mangoes, preferably juicy
3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
3/4 cup water
2 small cubes or abt 4 tbsp grated jaggery (preferably dark variety)
4-5 cardamom pods

Other:

grater
mortar & pestle

How it’s done:

For the mango pulp:

This part can be a little messy, but it is all worth it. Traditionally, most of this is done by squishing the mango to a pulp, by hand. We’ll get some help from the grater though.

Wash the mangoes well and pat dry. Slice off the top at the stalk. Cut off the cheeks on either sides of the mango first. Remove the skin off the seed. Using the grater, grate the fruit off the seed or just squish the seed with your hand until all the fruit is off the seed. I prefer doing this way as there is minimum wastage of fruit.

Halve the cheeks or quarter them with the skin intact, depending on your convenience for grating. Grate the fruit to get all the pulp out of the skin. Do not hesitate to get any remaining fruit either with a spoon or your trusty fingers. Repeat with all the mangoes. Once all the pulp is extracted, give it a nice stir or squish to get a uniform consistency. Taste the mangoes for sweetness.

For the coconut milk:

Blend the freshly grated with a little water to a smooth paste. Add the remaining water to this, stir to mix well and strain the coconut milk. If using frozen coconut, thaw first and use warm water for blending so that the fat does not separate. Refrigerate the remaining strained coconut to be used later in cooking.

Mix Coconut milk with the mango pulp. Grate jaggery into this, less or more depending on the sweetness of the mangoes.

In a mortar, smash the cardamom pods with the pestle and pry the seeds out with your fingers. Save the skin for later for flavoring tea or water. Smash the cardamom seeds first and crush them back and forth with the pestle for a fine powder. Sprinkle generously, not too much though.

Give it a good stir and serve as soon as possible. Tastes best when fresh.  This dessert gets ready in a jiffy. Explaining how to do seems more tedious than the actual doing.

Note

Jaggery can be substituted by brown sugar, but the depth and flavor of Jaggery cannot be. Other mexican unrefined sugars like Pillonchillo or Succanat may come a tad closer than sugar.

Jaggery is available in Indian stores. Always look for unbleached Jaggery

Freshly grated coconut works best, if not, thawed, frozen coconut works just fine if you are not too particular.

Fresh coconut milk is the star of this recipe. If you would rather save yourself the trouble of making it from scratch (which isn’t too difficult), you could use canned coconut milk. I won’t promise great results.

Milk can be substituted for coconut milk and this variation comes out well too.

Raspuri mangoes are best suited for this recipe. In its absence, Alphonso works well. I’ve used Mexican Ataulfo mangoes (that’s the best I can get here) and they are fully ripe when wrinkled and golden yellow.

If you’d rather not get your hands messy, you could blend the cut up mango pieces instead. Blending makes a juice out of the pulp though and doesn’t quite result in a hand squished consistency.

Treat yourself to more:

  

Gulkhand Banana Shake

Rose Petal Preserve and Banana Shake

In my perfect world, children would eat anything and everything the mom makes at home. No whining, no fussing over foods, no hatred for vegetables or fruits and always an appetite for good food. How nicer can it be, right?

Only, for me, it happens in my day dreams!

This is where I did not get lucky, where that castle in the air comes crumbling down and my day dreams crash into harsh reality. Whatever I’ve done, somehow my little girl’s and my intentions are at logger heads with each other when it comes to eating, especially when spelled as FRUITS..

She does not cry for anything, except when I ask her to eat, u guessed it – fruits!

Recently, after a hand blender came as an addition to my kitchen gadgets, in yet another plan to sneak in fruits into her diet, I started churning out smoothies and milk shakes. And, the first fruit of choice for milk shakes was none other than the humble yet mighty Banana.

I would still want her to relish her fruits the right way, but until then…

Rose – a name for beauty, fragrance and color all put in one wonderful nature’s package. Hats off to that someone who thought of immortalizing its deliciousness in a jar!

Gulkhand [Gul – flower; Gulab – Rose in Hindi; khand – sweet] is rose petals preserved in sugar and honey. A health tonic as per Ayurveda, it can be easily made at home if you have access to organic roses non-sprayed by pesticides or other chemicals.

I love relishing Gulkhand just as is, by the spoonful. Ever since I paired it with bananas and milk for my little girl, I’ve become a guzzler of this soothing drink myself!

A few everyday uses of Gulkhand:

Add a spoon to breakfast oats for a special breakfast treat.

Mix it with greek yogurt for a snack with a twist

Include in fruit salads to add a romantic nuance

Replace jaggery with Gulkhand in Rasayana

If you have the habit of unwinding with a warm glass of milk before hitting bed, stir in a spoon of Gulkhand for a relaxing drink. Just don’t make it too hot.

Spread it on whole wheat toast along with Peanut butter or almond butter instead of the same old PBJ sandwich

Of course, because it is sweetened, eating in moderation is always the key.

Owing to its incredibly delicious taste and Gulkhand’s cooling and revitalizing properties, it makes for an excellent summer drink.

Gulkand Banana Shake goes to #IndianFoodPalooza, an event Prerna of Indian SimmerKathy Gori of The Colors of Indian Cooking and Barbara of The Creative Culinary are hosting this month to celebrate Indian food.

How do you like to enjoy your dose of Gulkhand?

Gulkhand Banana Shake Recipe

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
1 ripe banana

1 tsp Gulkhand or Rose Petal jam

1 cup Milk Almond Milk / Coconut Milk / any Non Dairy Milk or a half-half mix of your choice

1 or 2  drops of rose water ~ optional

crushed pistachios or almonds for garnish ~ optional

How it’s done:

Blend everything together. Serve chilled garnished with crushed pistachios or almonds

Note:

  • Alter the milk/non dairy milk ratio to suit your taste as well as the desired thickness
  • Gulkhand has enough sweetness, so no other sweetener is essentially needed
  • I bought my Gulkhand from the local BAPS store. It can also be found in middle-eastern or persian food stores.

Read more about benefits of adding Gulkhand to your diet here

Gulkand Ice Cream by IndianSimmer is an interesting take on ice cream with Gulkhand stirred in.

Treat yourself to more:

 

Raspberry Pear Tart | Just Home Made turns One! and a Giveaway

**This GIVEAWAY is now closed (29th Sep 2011 midnight). Winner will be announced in my next post**

Can you believe it is a whole year already? You won’t believe me if I say I had almost forgotten about the milestone, almost. Luckily, my amnesia broke its spell before the month passed! I really didn’t know where or how to begin, it took me a better part of the day to get over my writer’s block. So here’s my inadequate attempt:
A food blog that I started on a lazy afternoon as a way to keep my sanity in check (letting go of an almost decade long career to care for your firstborn baby is natural right?) means so much more to me now. If there is something that I think of non-stop (other than my little girl and my husband or my family) and even just before I fall asleep, it is none other than this blog. Sometimes or most of the times my eyes and my mind are filled to the brim with dreams for this blog that I just can’t fall asleep!
Just Home Made has consumed the creative better of me and keeps my soul alive..
From an inconsequential beginning with my first post, from the first few hither-tither comments on the blog or the first few extra hits, subscribers, Twitter follows and Facebook likes, from knowing that somebody’s ‘search results’ landed them on my page to getting to know so many of you lovely bloggers – sweet, helpful and kind, to meet Helene in person at her photography workshop it has been an amazing roller coaster ride with butterflies in my stomach when I check the site stats, heart beating faster on reading your comments, adrenaline rush when phone buzzes over a tweet mention or message, a contended smile on my face when blog photos get featured on various sites and everything in between I failed to express here..
And undoubtedly it is with your love and sweet words of appreciation that I have been able to see my humble blog take this beautiful journey. Blessed are my mornings when I wake up eyes still closed but hands busy scrambling for the phone eager as a two-year old waiting to unfold a chocolate wrapper, only to see your comments lined up in the inbox…
For all those beautiful moments of joy and whatever Just Home Made is today, I owe it to you from the bottom of my heart, Thank You!
Don’t underestimate the power of your words, they bring a million dollar smile to my face (ask my husband)! So anytime you are here, don’t forget to say hello or you dropped by, I’d love to hear from you!
There, I got it off my chest..
So, in my sheer excitement, I bring you in this post a GIVEAWAY and an elegant fruit tart while still trying to bid summer a grass-fire good-bye here in Texas.
Baking was completely alien to me all my life until I started blogging. Much like a bewitched window shopper on Rodeo drive, gaping (with almost mouth wide open!) at all the luscious desserts and baked goodies on food blogs luring with drop dead gorgeous photographs or mouth-watering recipes, sparked an inextinguishable fire in me to turn on the oven. From being a baking lay person who couldn’t make out a thing between why baking soda and why not baking powder to brave it all and try a hand at baking a pie and this tart from scratch, all brownie points must go to blogging!
Among all things baked, I must say that I am not just a wee bit but totally and completely partial to fruit desserts . So, little surprise to see this fruit tart making it for my blog’s birthday celebrations. My love for summer fruits like cherries, berries and stone fruits is timeless and I have left it to be no secret either on many of my posts earlier. Pears however come a close second and amongst the different pear varieties, I particularly enjoy snacking on Seckel and Red Anjou pears. When I was on the lookout for a good fruit dessert, I realized that Pears were a neglected lot in comparison to the lion’s share of baking limelight berries and stone fruits devour. And that’s quite the reason I chose a shy and silent but full of character Pear and paired it with the beautifully ruby pink and sublimely flavorful raspberries, just for the fun of walking the less trodden path or so I think!
The original recipe called for Macadamia nuts and a 11 inch fluted pan. I had bought a 10 inch pan with great enthusiasm, so I stuck to it even though the recipe quantity is more for the size of the pan. Just pat an extra cookie or two with extra flour mix like I did.

Verdict? The tart was delicious with a mild raspberry and pear flavor burst in between. But I also see why these are a rare sight compared to the stone fruits. Unless I knew Pear was in there, I am left with just an indistinct sweet juicy fruit flavor. Nonetheless, it made for a lovely fruit dessert for the first try.

GIVEAWAY:
(see giveaway rules below)
Now, let me come to the part that interests you most – the giveaway!
One of my friends and neighbor PG started out as a Tupperware Consultant recently. After attending her Tupperware party and a preview of some cool products, I got the perfect idea for the giveaway. I get to give some business to my friend and also give away something nice to you lovely readers as my token of appreciation for all the boundless love and support you have given me so far.
So, to celebrate this milestone, I am giving away a TUPPERWARE Best Seller – One Classic Sheer® Midgets® Set of 6 storage containers (2 oz)
If you are like me who loves to organize (rather organization obsessed!), then you will surely like to own these cute storage containers. Cute and utilitarian, they come in handy to store anything from spices in the kitchen to buttons, thumbtacks or tiny knickknacks around the house or to go in a lunch box.
*If you need more information on TUPPERWARE, go to tupperware.com
TUPPERWARE products are not sold in stores, only through consultants and online.

Giveaway Rules:
Giveaway is open to residents of USA. If you live outside of US, but can provide an US shipping address, you are eligible to participate too.
To Enter:
Leave a comment on this post telling me what you like or dislike about Just Home Made or what you would like to see here in future or any other suggestions for improvement.
For an extra chance to win:
  • Follow Just Home Made on twitter and tweet about this giveaway including my twitter handle and tell me you did or if you already do:
@justhomemade Just Home Made turns One! GIVEAWAY-Win a Tupperware – Classic Sheer® Midgets® Set of 6 storage containers http://wp.me/p17ciF-Gp
  • Like Just Home Made on Facebook and tell me you did or if you already do
  • Subscribe to Just Home Made via Email and tell me you did or if you already do
  • Link to this giveaway on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me and including a link to the post
 Hurry! Last date to enter this giveaway is 29th Sep 2011 11:59 CST 
One winner will be chosen based on a random draw. Will contact the winner for the shipping address once announced.

Raspberry Pear Tart with Hazelnut Crust Recipe

recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com
Yield: 16 servings
Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
For the Crust:
  • 1-2/3 cups half and half mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cane sugar
  • 2/3 cup or 10 ⅔ tbsp cold butter
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ tsp salt
For the Filling:
  • 4 small-medium pears (I’ve used Seckel pears)
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (corn flour)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp lemon extract / lemon zest
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (6 oz or ½ dry pint, more will also do)
For the Topping:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup cold butter or 4 tbsp
  • 1/3 cup almonds
Other:
  • 10″ fluted Tart pan with removable bottom
  • Baking or lining tray
  • Cooling rack
 How it’s done:
Read the full recipe before starting.
To start with, roast hazelnuts and almonds. To roast the hazelnuts, microwave for about 2 minutes in 30 sec intervals until fragrant. When cooled, pulse it in a food processor or coffee grinder or mixer until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Pulse more and you will end up with hazelnut butter.
Roast almonds the same way. Chop into bits when cooled and keep aside.
Wash the pears, pat dry, peel, core and slice into thin rounds about 1/8th of an inch. Squeeze lemon juice over the pear slices (to keep them from browning), mix well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425° F
In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in cold butter and either mix well with your fingers or process in a food processor (I did the former) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you see pea sized butter blobs here and there, it is fine. Stir in hazelnut meal.
Gently press this flour mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 10 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.
In a large bowl, combine the pears, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon zest/extract. Add raspberries and toss gently. Carefully lay out the fruit mix on to crust filling empty spots with raspberries.
Bake at 425° for 25 minutes.
In the meanwhile, for the topping, in a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and lemon zest; cut in butter and mix until crumbly. Stir in chopped roasted almonds. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers.
Tastes best served warm by itself or served with honey yogurt or even an indulging rich vanilla ice cream with some raspberries on top.

Don’ts:
  • Do not overly press the four mixture onto the tart pan or it will result in a hard tart crust instead of crumbly.
  • Instead of washing the raspberries as they become soggy, just wipe them with a soft wet cloth or tissue.
Notes:
  • You can core the fruit even if you don’t have a corer. Insert a (vertical) peeler at the bottom end of the pear and rotate clockwise and anti-clockwise once each or until the core comes out. 
  • If you happen to make the flour mixture for the tart crust before slicing up the fruit, do not fret! “Carefully” place the tart pan (remember the pan bottom can move) on a baking tray and put it in the refrigerator until the filling is ready. Since the flour mix is dry and crumbly, tart crust can shatter easily at this point.
  • Be very careful when taking the baked tart out of the removable pan to place on the cooling rack or it might break.
  • Add a few drops of water to cane sugar if you do not have brown sugar
  • If you can’t find Hazelnuts, they can be safely substituted with almonds without much damage to the recipe or taste.
  • Microwave leftover slices for about 30 secs before serving.

You might also like: