I know this person, who when she’s bored, dons her apron and is off to try something new in the kitchen. Do you know who that person is? You guessed right…It is very much yours truly!!
Talking of how I love to experiment in the kitchen…one rainy and boring afternoon, I set out to try something new with a combo that has two of my favourites – Apples & Paneer. Apples always make me go weak in the knees, and so does paneer. So when I had a chance to pair the two, I couldn’t resist myself! Before we dive head-long into the recipe, let me tell you a little story – Once upon a time, when I was little girl…whenever Apple was brought home, I would make them disappear in a trice, even before anyone else could register their presence and think of having them. Amma would realise they’d disappeared only after meal-time when she or dad would sit down to cut some fruits, and the fruit basket would be empty, thanks to me. Its only then that she’d be able to explain the lack of my appetite during meal-time! Owing to this habit, I would get reprimanded very often during Apple season, for being selfish and greedy, and I would be found sulking in my room afterward, but I’d still be secretly gloating from the pleasure of eating all those rosy-cheeked apples. Boy I was mean! It’s only once I got a little older that I realised how important it is to share and there has been no looking back ever since. Even today, Amma fondly calls me ‘Apple Kalli’ (meaning ‘Apple thief’) when she gets the chance! 😛
- Apples – 2 nos (de-skinned, cored and grated. Add 2 tbsps of milk to the grated apples to prevent them from browning, but don’t overdo it since the milk will curdle from the rancid apples)
- Paneer/Chenna – from 1 litre milk (see how to).
- Maida – 1/2 cup
- Sugar – to taste (I eye-balled the amount of sugar I used, so please use your judgement while adding to yours. Don’t forget that apples are already sweet, so you’d require lesser sugar than usual)
- Kesar/Saffron – a few strands; soaked in warm milk
- Elaichi/Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
- Pistachio flakes – 2-3 tbsps
- Ghee – 1 tbsp (to grease the mould if using, else to grease the kitchen platform to roll out your halwa on)
This proportion makes about 12 nos 2-inch round fluted halwa pieces.
Note: I have used a heirloom 2-inch round fluted mould (my grand-mom’s) to set my halwa in. If you have something similar you could use it, else just roll out on your clean kitchen platform and cut into desired shape once set.
- Make the chenna/paneer (see how to).
- Once the chenna is ready, place it on a clean, working surface. Add 2 tbsps maida and knead well (about 10-15 minutes) till the chenna has no more lumps and is smooth textured. (You could choose to knead by hand or if you own a food processor, you could get it to knead it for you. I prefer doing it by hand though. Take your pick).
- While you are at the chenna, put the grated apples and sugar in a thick-bottomed pan and let it cook on a low flame.
- Add the saffron strands and cardamom powder to the apples. Stir well.
- The Apples will turn slightly brown as they cook. Let it do its job. Once softly cooked (pinch between forefinger and thumb to check done-ness), transfer to a wide plate and let it cool under the fan.
- Once the chenna has been kneaded and the apple has cooked and cooled, mix them both together in a bowl.
- Return this mixture to the heavy-bottomed pan, and cook on a low flame for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously. It is very important to do this on a low flame, else the chenna will turn brown and harden in no time.
- Remove from flame and add the remaining maida and knead well to incorporate.
- Now put this mixture in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. (My MW sets to 900W at high, so please do the math if your’s sets to a lesser wattage at high).
- Remove from the microwave and let it cool for a half-minute, else you’re going to scald your fingers if you start to work with it right away.
- Grease your mould (if using one) with a little ghee, put a small quantity of the readied mixture, press hard to make the impression of the mould, and delicately remove. Set on a clean plate.
- If you aren’t using a mould like me, then grease your clean kitchen platform, and roll out the halwa mixture to a 1/2-inch thickness. Let it sit for a half minute and then cut into desired shape.
- Make a depression in the centre of each halwa piece with your forefinger, and stuff it with pistachio flakes…makes it look like a pretty flower.
- Serve warm (if you like it that way) or let it come to room temperature and then serve. I made my halwa moderately sweet and we thoroughly enjoyed it!