Mice! Crawling out of my oven...

It's late. Past midnight.
And there are mice crawling everywhere...
I ate a few and was finally at peace.

Chocolate Cookie Mice

Happy Hallowe'en!

Cupcakes are cooling. God help me with the frosting.

Just a quick end-of-the-day update before I pass out from sheer exhaustion: The cupcakes went off much better than I expected. I couldn't have done it without Archana's help. I will post pictures as soon as I can and reply to all your comments. All the positive vibes kept me going! Thank you!

Screaming Cups and Orange Burfi

On Thursday, I awoke to a low moaning sound in the house. It became louder as it came closer and sounded like someone was being strangled, a kind of strange screaming.

If I hadn't been lying awake, waiting for the alarm to ring; so that I could snooze it and finally go to sleep...
If I hadn't heard the patter of little feet...
If I hadn't heard the water run...
If I hadn't attended Science Night at her school the previous night, I would have been frightened out of my wits.

But not me! I knew exactly what it was. It was a Screaming Cup, being used insidiously by an 8 year old, who doesn't quite get "die of a heart attack!"

With Hallowe'en coming up on October 31, the Screaming Cup experiment was the most popular at Science Night, and tied closely with Stab the potato with a straw without breaking or bending it, the straw that is.

Definitely try this one at home. It's a hit with the little ones as well as the older balding ones. All you need is

  • a 16 or 24 oz plastic cup - the ubiquitous red kind do really well
  • a piece of string, about 18-24 inches in length
  • water, or if you have a budding violinist at home, violin rosin

  1. Make a hole in the bottom of the red cup and thread the string through it.
  2. Knot the string well on the side that is inside the cup (my husband doesn't agree but this was the only way it worked for me. He insists it works better when you knot it on the outside and pull the string through the cup. These engineers...who cares? As long as it screams!)
  3. Wet the string or rub it well with violin rosin
  4. Hold the string tightly between your thumb and index finger near the bottom of the cup and start sliding it away from the cup. Squeeze the string really hard and as your fingers slip and slide along the string, you will hear the wistful moaning that filled my home at dawn that morning.
Why does this happen, the young inquiring mind might ask. Er...the older one, too. As your fingers slip and slide on the string, there are vibrations in the string. These vibrations make the cup vibrate, which bounce off the insides of the cup and end up creating an amplified sound wave. Or more like a scream that is perfect for Hallowe'en!

What does this have to do with food? Not much. Actually, nothing. I could lie and say that this experiment did not work till I came home and got a bite of my delectable Orange Burfi. But I would classify that act only as one to be abhorred.

I found this little gem in my mother's blue diary. I am not a fan of the Indian halwas and burfis, except for gajjar halwa but I changed my tune when I made this orange burfi. It's very different from any burfi I have ever had till date! I made it for Diwali; Bhau Bheej, really. To raise a toast to all those wonderful male cousins who get away year after year by not giving me that envelope stuffed with money that is rightfully mine!

Orange Burfi

  • 1 cup maida
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3-4 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • peel of two oranges
  1. Heat the ghee in a kadhai
  2. Add the maida and cook on medium-low, stirring frequently, till the maida is golden in color
  3. Take this out in another bowl and add the milk, sugar, orange juice and orange peels to the same kadhai in which you were cooking the maida in ghee.

  4. Cook on medium-high till you have a syrupy mixture. It took about 12 minutes or so for me.
  5. Add the food coloring and stir. Food coloring is another thing that I am not crazy about but I added about 3 drops nevertheless.
  6. Add the maida and ghee mixture and cook on medium low till the ghee starts to leave the sides...just kidding! till the ghee starts separating from the mixture.
  7. Put the mixture in a greased pan or casserole and spread. I used a small 6 inch by 6 inch casserole. If you use a larger one, the burfi will be flatter. I like mine thick!
  8. Allow the mixture to cool and regardless of what the engineers may say, let it cool completely before attempting to cut it into cubes or diamonds. I let the engineer have his say - he had helped stir, you know! - so the edges of my orange burfi are not as smooth as they could be.
    Some burfi went AWOL when I was not looking!

    There it is! Orange Burfi!

The original recipe in my mother's blue diary calls for 2 cups of sugar. I thought that would be too sweet and used only 1 cup. The consistency of the sugar syrup therefore plays an important role in how firm this burfi will be. If you like it really sweet, go ahead and use 2 cups of sugar. I also think that since the weather is cool enough for to ghee solidify at room temperature in my home, using less sugar worked for me.

This Orange Burfi was given a rating of Yumilicious by both my family and my neighbors. The taste of the orange peel, followed by the orange juice dominate this burfi. The ghee makes it rich. Try it!

On a lark, I am going to send this to VKN's VCC Q3 2006, where the theme this quarter is Festival Foods from the world over.

Orange Burfi? Very festive. Very different.

Update: Even though she didn't taste them, this orange burfi has been to London to see the Queen! All kudos go to Shahpar Selim, of course!


I studied this recipe from CuisineCuisine and this recipe from India Curry. I largely followed the latter for the batter but followed the former for the sugar syrup - I love saffron and rose water! My batter probably did not ferment as it looked no different from what it did the previous night nor did it smell any different.

I had to adjust the consistency of the batter a couple of times so that it flowed well through my marinade injector. Yes, that's what I used! It has a lid with a small hole in it, which was far too large. The diameter of the thick needle was too small. Something in between would have been perfect!

It took a while before I got even close to swirling anything that looked anything like a jalebi. Persistence paid off and soon I was making jalebi look-alikes.

Soaking the jalebi in the syrup for 2 minutes didn't work for me. The jalebis lost their crispiness and started dissolving in the syrup. Dropping them into the sugar syrup, ensuring that the jalebi got a good coating and also absorbed the sugar syrup worked very well instead. The jalebi was in the sugar syrup for less than 30 seconds.

It took me 2 hours. I have half a large dinner plate worth of jalebis and a whole bunch of moosh and over-fried things. I'm done with jalebis. I wanted to make them. I did. Dokya varche bhooth uttarle! I'm no longer obsessed about making those swirly sugary things.

What do they taste like? Delicious, of course.

My recommendation: Let someone else make the jalebis. Restrain yourself to enjoying them!

Paging Inji Pennu...

Inji Pennu of Ginger and Mango and The Green Blog Project can't be found. Emails to her are bouncing back. I'm hoping this is a technical glitch.

Hey Inji, if you're going to come back in another avatar, that's great! I just hope you haven't disappeared on us. :-(

I wanted to wish you a Happy Diwali, that's all! I hope all is well with you and yours!

Update 10/25: Inji's blog is back up! Yay! Welcome back, Inji!!

Paparia for Diwali

Anita of A Mad Tea Party made a delectable snack called paparia for Diwali. It looked simple and sounded really delicious. It seemed to be the perfect way to start making faraal for Diwali.

I halved Anita's recipe and adjusted the spices for our tastes. It took me about 45 minutes from start to finish and I had 24 crispy paparias. I did enlist my husband for help with frying the paparias towards the end.


  • 1 cup besan (gram flour)
  • 1/2 cup maida
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup oil, heated
  • 3/4 tsp salt (less, if you prefer to use less salt)
  • Oil, for deep frying
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

  2. Add the hot oil to the mixture. Do not put your fingers into this as it will be very hot. Use a spoon or fork to mix the oil with the flour.

  3. When it has cooled enough for you to handle, use only as much water as needed to knead it into a soft, pliable dough. I used less than 1/4 cup water. Allow this to rest for 10-15 minutes. I covered the dough with a damp paper towel as it is very dry here and dough generally tends to get crusty on the outside as it dries. Get your polpat-latna ready, along with maida to dust with as you roll. Put oil in a kadhai and heat on a medium flame.

  4. Make dough balls the size of a dollar coin.

  5. Dust with maida and roll out to a diameter of about 4 inches.

  6. The paparia must be rolled out as thin as possible. I found that it helps to dust with maida every so often and to turn and flip the paparia as I rolled. Dusting with too much maida is not a good idea as the flour slips off into the oil, making it very murky.

  7. Anita recommends that the entire batch be rolled out before you start frying, starting with the one that was rolled out first. I didn't read the instructions well enough and so I worked in batches of 6, a hangover I attribute to the time that I made chavde.

  8. Lay the paparia in the oil slowly ensuring that it does not fold. If it does, flip it over with a pair of tongs and hold it down in the oil on the part that was folded. If that does not work, don't worry. It will still taste just as good!

  9. Fry them till they are pink and then drain on paper towels in a vertical position. Do not drain them by piling them one on top of another, for obvious reasons!

You might notice that my paparia are not pink in color. Another part of the instructions I did not pay close attention to. Oops! My excuse? It's been a long day. We scrambled to aerate our yards before the next snow storm, which is in progress as I write this.

Just as we scrambled to drain the sprinkler system when a snow storm dropped 8 inches of snow on us earlier this week on Tuesday. What's wonderful about Colorado weather is that the day after a snow-storm, the sun comes out and melts away all the white stuff. It was 38F on Wednesday and we didn't need jackets. A warm sweater or a turtle neck sufficed.

Diwali 2006 is extra-special. It's exactly one year since we closed on our house. It's also our first 'white' Diwali!

I'm looking forward to seeing Medha's face when she sees the snow and tastes these yummy paparia for breakfast, with pohe, of course!

Thank you, Anita, for a wonderful new recipe on such a special occasion for us!

Happy Diwali

Deepavali chya Shubechha!

A Very Happy Diwali to everyone!