Saturday, August 2, 2008

Flower Power Jihva Roundup

Wow, this Jihva has been so thrilling for me. I was intrigued with wonder with each and every entry. It was way beyond anything that I imagined. I got an entry for all the flowers I wanted to see the recipes of and much more. I want to sincerely thank all that sent in their beautiful entries, and to Indira for giving me the opportunity to host Jihva.

In alphabetical order of flowers, here are your flower power recipes:

Arugula :

From Jugalbandi: Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Avaram Flower

From Choicest Healthy Recipes: Avaram Flower Extract
Banana Blossoms
My Food Blog: Spicy Banana BlossomsSeduce Your Tastebuds: Vaadhapoo Poriyal
Seduce your senses: Vaazhapoo VadaiCooking 4 All Seasons: Vazhapoo Vadai ~ Banana Blossoms Nuggets!
From Illatharasi: Hibiscus MilkFrom Ammalu's Kitchen: Bissap , made with edible hibiscus flowers
From Choicest Healthy Recipes: Power Syrup
Mallemaala: Rosa De Jamaica SaladFrom Curry Bazaar: Karkade (Hibiscus Cordial)

Mallemaala: Quinoa Jasmine UpmaMallemaala: Jasmine Tea
Kachnaar ki Kali (buds of St. Thomas's Tree)

Guest Post (Sadhna, Meera and Sunita): Kachnaar ki kali ki sabzi
From Tasty Palettes: Lavender chocolate pots de crème
From Jugalbandi: Lavender-infused Sugar and Honey
Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen: Victorian Era Lavendar CookiesYummy Food: Lavendar Ice CreamIndian Food Rocks: Lavender Mint tea

Soul Food: Lovely Lilies (Marzipan)
Neem Flower
Sukanya's Musings: Neem Flower ChutneyFrom Random Thoughts and Vegetarian Recipes: neemflower-rasam Paajaka Recipes: Neem flower riceFew Minute Wonders: Neem Flower Chutney

Orange Blossoms:

From Cooking From A to Z: Mango Yohgurt Icecream
Pumpkin Flowers
From Enjoy Indian Food: Pumpkin Flowers Subzi

Soul Food: Marzipan Roses
Soul Food: Rosy Ricotta Rasmalai
Asan Khana: Gulabi Sandesh
Cooking Station: Mix Veg and Fruit Juice with Rose Tea

Ahaar: Badam Halwa

Squash Blossoms
Evovling Tastes: Squash blossom and Basil Pakoras

Lovely Lilies

Some lovely Marzipan Lilies, while the Jihva roundup is being compiled....

Rosy Ricotta Rasmalai

So much for hosting a fancy schmancy event as Flower Power Jihva, and I fail to find any edible flower petals where I live. I would have loved to find hibiscus petals or rose petals, but instead found lots of specialised food stores nearby that didnt stock them. I couldve ordered some online, but instead found a bottle of 'Arq-e-gulab' at the local Indian greengrocer that I thought would suffice for the event. Arq-e-gulab sounds fancy but really is rose extract that is prepared by distilling high quality fresh Rose petals.. When I smelt it first I wanted to combine it with something milky.
On our speciality store hunt, we were recommended by a friend to check out Connecticut's famous 'Stew Leonards'. I fell in love with the store the minute I stepped into it, its like the largest farmers' and dairy market I've ever seen. And they claim it themselves as 'Ripley's believe it or not.. World's Largest Dairy store'. Amongst the yummiest chocolate milk, fresh mozarella cheese, and orange flavoured yoghurt, I found a nice big tub of fresh ricotta. Now probably an Indian or an Italian would know the special taste of fresh ricotta. And then I chanced upon this lovely recipe; perfect I thought. Baked rasmalai, how cool is that? To me it tasted like an offspring of rasgulla and kalakand; which nevertheless was lipsmacking yummy.

This goes as my entry to Flower Power Jihva!

Ingredients for rasmalai:

15 oz Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
¼ cup Sugar
2 tsp Arq-e-gulab (rose water)

For the syrup

1 cup Sugar
One pint (473ml) part skim Half and Half Milk
One pint 2% fat milk
A pinch of saffron
¼ tsp crushed cardamom seeds
2 tsp Arq-e-gulab (rose water)

To make the syrup or Ras

Boil the half and half , milk, sugar, saffron, crushed cardamom and rose water by bringing to a boil and simmering over low heat for 30 - 40 minutes.

To make the pieces

Mix ¼ cup of sugar and rose water with the Ricotta cheese by using a spatula or hand mixer. Spread on a oven safe dish, use a muffin pan if you want a round shape or into a big pan from which you can cut out squares(like I did). Spread evenly in the pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45- 50 minutes or until it sets or until it turns light brown on the edges. Check by inserting a toothpick or knife to see if it comes out clean. If so, then its ready to come out of the oven.

Remove from oven, cool at room temperature. Cut out shapes (square or diamond) and place them in a flat serving bowl. Pour over the milky sauce over the squares and let them sit immersed for about an hour. Decorate with saffron and serve.

This goes as my entry to Flower Power Jihva!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kachnaar ki kali ki sabzi

This is a guest post. This entry has been sent in my my mum and her friends Meera and Sunita. Thank you ladies, you are the sweetest!

Kachnaar ki kali are beautiful yellow blossoms of St. Thomas's tree also known as Bauhinia Tomentosa. This is what it looks like. I believe the leaves and flowers of this plant has medicinal values too. Here the ladies have made a sabzi(sauted preperation) with the buds, looks yummy!

more about kachnaar here


1. Kachnar kali (buds) 250 g

2. Onion 1 medium

3. Garlic 2 cloves

4. Ginger ½ inch piece

5. Dhania Powder 1 and ½ tsp

6. Haldi Powder ½ tsp

7. Chilli Powder ¼ rsp

8. Rice Powder 1and ½ tbsp

9. Oil 4 tbsp

10. Garam Masala pinch

11. Salt to taste

12. Few methi (fenugreek) seeds


o Boil buds for five minutes till tender.

o Grind onion, garlic and ginger to make a paste

o Put oil in karahi , crack mathi seeds and and fry the paste till light brown.

o Add all the dry masala ( dhania, haldi, chilli and salt) till masala leaves oil.

o Add boiled buds , mix in masala and cover for 2 minutes on slow fire.

o Remove the lid and add rice powder and fry for another 5- 10 minutes. Sprinke Garam masala and Garnish with Green Corriander.

o Serve with roti/ paratha.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Roses are red, pink and white too

I'm getting lots of queries on if they can contribute recipes for flower power Jihva with cauliflower as the main ingredient. Yes, technically cauliflower is part of a flower and I guess I will not refuse an entry with cauliflower. Also broccoli, kale and kohlrabis are technically parts of a flower.

However, I would prefer and also will except decorations and garnishes that look like a flower, like these marzipan roses I made for a friend on her birthday a while back.
I added a drop of red food colour in white marzipan and cut out uneven strips, then rolled the strips to make these beautiful roses (white and pink). I painted some of the tips with the food color to make pink roses with dark pink edges!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Announcing JFI August: Flower Power

Having spent most of my life in the semi arid climate of Southern Africa, seeing flowers’ blooming all around me is a luxury. Here in the US, spring time and now summer in New England, I’m told is one of the best in the US. The change of seasons and all the colors has been so exciting for me. I have been taking pictures of every bud and every flower that I’ve come across outside my home and office; that I know on-lookers already think me as some mad flower crazy photographer.

Jihva is a monthly event that celebrates an ingredient every month and was initiated by Indira of Mahanandi. This month Jihva comes to Soul Food and I’ve chosen the exotic ingredient: Edible Flowers. At first I was skeptical about the choice but when Indira expressed her excitement and approval, I was encouraged to go for it! So bring out your flower power recipes.

A lot of people are doubtful of introducing flowers into their food, but people have been indulging in culinary uses of flowers for a long long time. Mostly the petals of the flowers are used, see tips and uses described below. If you don't have beds of homegrown flowers waiting to be picked or sources of organic flowers, then flower products such as rose and violet confits, syrups, liqueurs and even dried petals are the most accessible way to incorporate flowers into your cooking. Try searching online for specialist suppliers or look in delicatessens and Middle Eastern shops.

Here are the rules for participating in JFI: Flower Power:

  • Prepare a dish or write about (articles/recipes -breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner) from any cuisine using any Edible Flower (see list below) in any form and post it on your blog in the month of July.
  • Make as many dishes as you like, there is no limit to the number of entries you can contribute.
  • The deadline is July 31st. I will post the round up on August 2nd.
  • Send your entries to soulfoodblog (@) gmail (dot) com. In your entry I need your blog name, link of your blog post, and preferably a beautiful focused picture in 455×280 pixel size as part of your entry. If you don’t send me an image, I will use the first image in your post.
  • Since the ingredient of Edible Flowers is a ‘difficult’ choice, I’m also going to accept dishes that ‘look’ like a flower (in form or garnish) such as this; the aim is to celebrate Flowers this month in any form.
  • If you don’t get an acknowledgement of your entry mail within 3 days of sending your entry, please leave a comment on this post.
  • If you don’t have a blog, just send me an email and I will post it here as a guest post by your name and will include it in the round up with your name.
  • Make sure your post includes a link to this announcement and to the main JFI page. Feel free to use one of these logos.

For a long time, many different cultures have incorporated flowers into their traditional foods. Oriental dishes make use of daylily buds and the Romans used mallow, rose and violets. Italian and Hispanic cultures gave us stuffed squash blossoms and Asian Indians use rose petals in many recipes. Chartreuse, a classic green liqueur developed in France in the seventeenth century, boasts carnation petals as one of its secret ingredients.:Source.

Do not eat flowers from a florist!

Edible flower selection: With the widespread use of pesticides by commercial growers, it's important to select edible flowers from a supplier who grows them specifically for consumption. Do not eat flowers obtained from a florist. However, many grocery stores and gourmet markets now sell edible flowers. If you are choosing homegrown flowers to eat, be certain you know your flowers as not all flowers are edible. Pick home grown flowers in the morning or late afternoon when the water content is high. Select flowers that are freshly-opened, perky and free of any bug-eaten or diseased spots.:SourceAsthmatics should avoid some flowers: Asthmatics or others who suffer allergic reactions to composite-type flowers (calendula, chicory, chrysanthemum, daisy, English daisy, and marigold) should be on alert for possible allergic reaction.

Cooking with flowers: Yes, flowers look beautiful as garnishes, but what do they taste like? Bean blossoms have a sweet, beany flavor. Nasturtiums have a wonderfully peppery flavor similar to watercress and their pickled buds can be substituted for more expensive capers. Borage tastes like cucumber, and miniature pansies have a mild wintergreen taste. Violets, roses and lavender lend a sweet flavor to salads or desserts. Bright yellow calendulas are an economic alternative to expensive saffron, though not quite as pungent. Other flowers may have a spicy or peppermint flavor. When in doubt, taste, but first be sure it's not poisonous.: SourceIMPORTANT: Please see this list of edible flowers, and dont use flowers that you are not sure of.

Edible flowers tips and hints:

Edible flowers as a garnish makes any dish look special on your table, but be sure the flavor of the flower compliments the dish. Here are a few ideas to beautify your recipes and perk up your taste buds:

• Place a colorful gladiolus, hibiscus flower or tulip cup (remove the stamen and pistil) in a clear glass bowl and fill with your favorite dip.
• Sprinkle edible flowers in your green salads for a splash of color and taste.
• Freeze whole small flowers into ice rings or cubes for a pretty addition to punches and other beverages.
• Use in flavored oils, vinaigrettes, jellies, and marinades.

• One of the most popular uses is candied or crystalized flowers, used to decorate cakes and fine candies.
• Never use non-edible flowers as a garnish. You must assume that if guests find a flower on a plate of food, they will think it edible.
• Use flowers sparingly in your recipes, particularly if you are not accustomed to eating them. Too much of a pretty thing can lead to digestive problems.
• If you are prone to allergies, introduce flowers in small amounts so you can judge their effect. Some have a much more pronounced flavor than others, so you'll need to judge accordingly.
• The leaves of some flowers also have culinary uses, but be sure to check a trusted food reference source before experimenting. This helpful edible flowers chart links to full color photos, plus includes info on scientific name, pertinent warnings, and flavor comparisons.
• Use petals in tea and brews, and cold soups.

I am also going to highlight some recipes where some bloggers have used edible flowers in my next post. Please mail me if you have queries regarding this event, I shall be happy to help you as much as I can. So, I’m hoping this will be an exciting and colorful jihva, I will also participate and do the recap on August 2nd.