Category Archives: Kids Will Love

¬§ MILLET COOKIES | COOKIES – MERRY CHRISTMAS SPECIALūüéĄ ¬§

ūüéĄX’masūüéĄ

Millet Cookies

Quick, easy n hassle free

 specially, when busy on a shopping spree

Crumbly, soft, freshly made melting moments

Pure bliss, wonder baked goodies of enjoyment

Make warm memories and forever bring cheer

ūüéČOn X’mas and New Year!ūüéČ

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Enough COOKIES for a cookie monster!

Prep time : 10 mins; Cooking time : 15 mins; Makes : 30 – 40 pieces

Ingredients  :

  • 500 gm s or 3 1/2 cups of Ragi | finger millet flour
  • 3/4 – 1 cup coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups powdered brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

Method :

  1. Preheat the oven at 170 C for 10 mins and evenly grease the cookie tray with a tsp of butter or coconut oil.
  2. In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, namely flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon powder and baking powder. Then add coconut oil or melted butter and knead the flour into a pliable dough.
  3. Roll the dough into little balls and flatten them. On the front side, mark them with the back of the fork.
  4. Bake them for 12 – 15 mins and let them cool down completely on a cooling rack, before attempting to touch them!
  5. Store in an airtight container and enjoy with a cuppa of milk, tea or coffee.

Variations :

  1. Other flours, like pearl millet, oatmeal, almond meal, whole wheat, multigrain or all purpose can be used.
  2. 1 – 1 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder can be added.
  3. 1 well beaten egg can be added for a chewy texture.
  4. Chocolate chips and 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder can be added.
  5. Dry fruits like raisins, almonds, cashews and pistachios can be added whole or chopped.
  6. After kneading the dough, roll the dough into a cylindrical log with the help of a cling wrap and tighten the ends. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then remove the wrap and cut into circular discs and bake.
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Finger Millet Cookies

¬† ¬† ’tis the season to be jolly…la…la…lllaaa!ūüé∂

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Season’s Greetings to all my amazing¬†readers!!!ūüéČ

 

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‚ėĘÔłŹ MASALA VADAI ‚ėĘÔłŹ

What’s better than a crispy, crunchy Masala vadai?!
Maybe another Masala vadai?!
Want Patti sutta vadai
No more go to a Pappa kadai
To eat a Masala Vadai
All you need now, is to mirror
This recipe, from my quiver
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Suda suda Vadais
Prep time: 1 1/2 hrs ; Cooking time: 15 mins; Makes: 20-25 vadais
Ingredients :
1 3/4 cup Kadalai paruppu /Channa dal /Bengal Gram
1 large finely chopped Onion
3 – 6 finely chopped Green chilies
1/2 inch piece of ginger (optional)
6 Garlic pods with skin
1 tbsp Fennel seeds/Sombu/Saunf
Pinch of Asafoetida (optional)
A few Curry leaves
Salt to taste
Water enough to immerse the channa dal
Oil to deep fry the vadais
Method :
1.      Take channa dal in a bowl and pour water to immerse it. Set aside for about an hour. Once the dal has softened well (on absorbing the water), drain. Set aside for about another half hour and grind it to a coarse mixture in a mixie.
2.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Grind garlic, ginger and fennel seeds (reason for the vadai’s wonderful aroma and flavour) in a mixer jar to a coarse paste, without adding any water. Set aside.
3.      Combine the ground garlic-ginger-fennel paste, chopped curry leaves, chopped onions and chopped green chilies, asafoetida to the ground channa dal mixture. Add salt and use your hands to combine everything together. Your vadai mixture is ready. The consistency should be thick and you should be able to shape it into vadais easily. If not making vadais immediately, refrigerate the vadai mixture.
4.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†To deep fry the vadai’s, heat a kadai and pour in oil. When the oil is hot, start shaping the vadai’s. Take a lemon sized ball of the vadai mixture and flatten it on your palm to make a thin disc. Pick up this disc with the other hand and slide gently into the hot oil. Repeat making more vadai’s and fry in batches. Fry on medium heat till golden on both sides. Serve hot, straight from the pan with a simple coconut chutney
Variation
Replace green chilies with red chilies. Skip onion and garlic. Add spinach, coriander or mint leaves.
Note
In step 1, make sure the excess water drains out completely before grinding it to a coarse paste. If there is excess water, the mixture will crumble on frying.
How Masala vadai helps in our Nation’s unity, can be enjoyed looking at this scene by V.K. Ramasamy and Nagesh in the Tamil movie ‘Ruthra thandavam’

¤ NAVRATHRI SUNDAL ¤

India, a land of festivals with varying rich cultural heritage, celebrates ‘Navrathri’!

‘Navratri’, Sanskrit word meaning¬†nine nights, ends victoriously on ‘Vijaydashmi’ or ‘Dusshera’. These nine days, nine incarnations of the Goddess are celebrated¬†in various parts of the country following different rituals but the underlying essence is the same.

Some of the salient features of this celebration, in different parts of the country –

In the  North РOn Dusshera, Ramleela, a theatrical act of Ramayana is enacted, culminating by burning the effigies of Ravana along with Kumbhakarna and Meghanada, celebrating the victory of good over evil.

In the West РGarbha or Dandiya-Raas, a famous dance form is performed on all the nine nights and celebrated by people participating from all over the globe.

In the East – Durga Pooja is performed, where¬†exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size clay idols of the ‘Goddess Durga’ slaying the demon ‘Mahishasura’ are worshipped and then immersed in the river.

In the South – In Tamil Nadu, ‘Golu or Kolu’ – ¬†A set of steps displaying an arrangement of dolls, is set up in our home. The number of steps are¬†in odd numbers i.e 3,5,7 or 9.¬†The dolls are unique, antique, modern, hand made or ready made dolls. They are of deities, saints, leaders, plants, animals or also displayed in themes like a wedding, market, minature parks, zoo, sports stadium or any other suitable theme. An¬†exhibition signifying, all of the creator’s creations.

‘Marapachi bommai’, an inseparable part of the Golu, is made from teak or rose wood. These traditional wooden dolls are preserved for generations, depict husband and wife, representing prosperity and fertility. Authentic ‘Marapachi’ are rare and available only in Tirupati and Channapatna.¬†Likewise are the Chettiar-Achi pair which is invariably a thalai aati bommai, traditionally made in Panruti,¬†Tanjore, the place famous for its clay and workmanship. Decades earlier,¬†potters of Panruti used to make the dolls around a frame of thin wires, which gave the dolls a perfect shape and build. They were weightless too and women found it easy to lift them and place them on the steps | padis.¬†These dolls generally formed a part of the daughter’s wedding trousseau.¬†Golu dolls are treasured legacy, tokens of¬†the family‚Äôs proud possessions, valued aesthetically and sentimentally.

During Navaratri, colourful Golu dolls flood the markets as people add new ones to their collection. Yet, say many, the charm of old dolls is unmatched. Those days, the dolls were much bigger in size and yet proportionate. Even the facial expressions would be intact and the colours didn’t fade that easily. Earlier every single doll was hand-crafted individually, however these days, dolls are mass-produced using readymade moulds and hence the features aren’t sharp. Some neighbourhoods even conduct competitions and award prizes for the best Kolu of the year.

In the evening it is customary to invite relatives, friends, accquaintances for viewing the Golu. Women and girls are offered Vethala Pakku |¬†Haldi Kumkum.¬†Tasty and healthy Sundal, made with different variety of beans, is generally the ‘prasadam’ distributed to all, who come home and admire their creative efforts.¬†Vinayaka Chathurthi : Kozhukattai, ¬†Deepavali : Bakshanam and Navratri : Sundal are synonymous. Apart from Sundal, payasam is¬†also prepared for naivedhyam.¬†When we were young, we went to neighbouring houses, officially to see the Navaratri kolu but the main attraction was the sundal. When we came out of a house, we would open the pack | pottalam immediately to see what sundal variety was inside!

For Goddess of knowledge,¬†Saraswati Puja is performed on the 9th day, books and musical instruments, are placed alongside the Golu.¬†Ayudha Puja is also conducted in South India.¬†Weapons, agricultural implements, all kinds of tools, equipments, machinery and automobiles too, are worshipped on this day. ¬†Vijayadashami, the 10th day, marks new and prosperous beginnings. Start ups on this day are believed to flourish. It is also the first day of school for many children,¬†learning any new skill on this day¬†assures definite¬†success in that field. On the eve of ‘Vijayadasami’, any one doll from the ‘Kolu’ is symbolically put to sleep and the Kalasa is moved a bit towards North, to mark the end of that year’s Navaratri Golu. After prayers, Golu is dismantled and packed up for the next year. To preserve the colour and maintain them intact, they are wrapped in a soft cotton cloth or¬†newspaper. Neem leaves are also sometimes used to keep termites and insects at bay.

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Kolam – one of the many more creative exhibits during Navrathri!

PACHAI PAYAR SUNDAL | GREEN MUNG SUNDAL 

Prep time : 15 mins; Cooking time 15 mins; Serves : 4 – 6

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Ingredients :

  • 500 gms Mung beans
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp udad dal | black gram lentil
  • 3 – 4 broken whole red chilies
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 th of a fresh coconut

Method :

  1. Wash and soak the green mung for 10 -15 mins. Drain, wash and pressure cook the mung beans with turmeric powder and 1/4 cup of water, till 3 – 4 whistles.
  2. Grate the fresh coconut. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a bandli | skillet and add mustard seeds, once they splutter add the udad dal. red chilies, curry leaves in that order. Then add the pressure cooked mung beans, red chilli powder and salt. Toss and mix well till the mung beans are dry and well coated with the seasonings.
  4. Garnish with grated coconut and it is ready to be distributed.

KONDAKADALAI SUNDAL | CHICK PEAS SUNDAL (same as for Varalakshmi Vratham)

Prep time : 9 hrs; Cooking time 15 mins; Serves : 4 – 6

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Ingredients :

  • 500 gms kondakadalai | chick peas | kabuli channa
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp udad dal | black gram lentil
  • 3 – 4 broken whole red chilies
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 th of a fresh coconut

Method :

  1. Wash and soak the chick peas overnight. Next morning drain, wash and pressure cook the chick peas with turmeric powder and 1/4 cup of water, till 3 – 4 whistles.
  2. Grate the coconut. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a bandli | skillet and add mustard seeds, once they splutter add the udad dal. red chilies, curry leaves in that order. Then add the pressure cooked chick peas, red chilli powder and salt. Toss and mix well till the chick peas are dry and well coated with the seasonings.
  4. Garnish with grated coconut and it is ready to be distributed.

Variations :

Sundal can be made with any variety of bean or lentil like Bengal Gram Dal, Black gram lentil, Red gram lentil, HorseGram, Black Chana, Soya Beans, Peanuts, Cowpeas, Black eyed beans, Dried Green Peas, Kidney beans or even fresh corn kernels (in trend, nowadays).

‚ôß QUESADILLA ‚ôß

“Howdy Y’all?”, miss hearing this quintessential Texan welcome greeting, with a long drawl or a twang and of course Texas, where as the saying goes, everything is Big!

When we were posted in Texas, a couple of years back, we had to face evacuation due to Hurricane Katrina, closely followed by Hurricane Rita РAlphabetical order of women names Рwhy women?! cause they rock your world and could leave you with out your car and house!

‘Hunkering down’ (a phrase new to¬†me, until then) was an option we took for Hurricane Rita, were we stayed put and had a camping adventure in our own house without electricity for a few days.

Notable, was the way evacuation was handled. I was awe struck by a calm | composed | polite | respectful | organised | orderly evacuation, in times of adversity. Hats off Houston, Texas!

Quesadilla, one of the Tex-Mex dishes, is a jackpot or should I say pi√Īata,¬†I hit upon, when in Texas, as¬†T loves it¬†and this healthy recipe is a keeper!

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Vegetable Quesadilla

Prep time : 20 mins; Cooking time : 20 mins ; Serves : 4 – 6

Ingredients for the tortilla (organic and unrefined) :

  • 3 cups of Wheat flour
  • 1¬†cup Corn flour
  • 2 cups of water approx.
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for the filling (organic and unrefined) :

  • 3 onions
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 capsicum | green bell pepper
  • 1/4 lettuce or cabbage
  • 1 – 2 Jalapenos or green chilies
  • 3 sprigs of Cilantro | coriander leaves
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne | Paprika | Red chilly powder or flakes
  • Rock salt to taste
  • 200 gm s or as required Cheddar Cheese or any melting cheese
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Perfecto!

Directions :

1. Prepare the dough by kneading the wheat flour, corn flour and salt together to get a soft dough. Cover with a damp cloth, till ready to roll out the tortillas. Set aside.

2. Prepare the filling by finely chopping the onions, tomatoes, capsicum, cabbage or lettuce and green chilies. Squeeze in the lemon juice, add paprika powder and salt just before you prepare the quesadillas, as the vegetables will ooze out water, once salt is added. Set aside.

3. Grate the cheese and set aside.

4. Make round balls with the soft dough and roll out the tortilla on a tortilla maker manually or make them with an electric tortilla press. Cook the 2 tortillas well on both sides on a pan or an electric press.

5. Spread out on one tortilla, about a tbsp of the filling and sprinkle, grated cheese the amount you desire, all around on the vegetables. Cover by placing the other tortilla on top. If one is cooking, on a electric tortilla maker, then close the top plate over the bottom one but if one is cooking on the pan, place a heavy weight, like a heavy plate on top of the tortilla such that the 2 tortillas are sandwiched, well together and cook for 1 Р2 mins. Flip carefully, so as not to let the filling spill out and on this side again, close the 2 plates of the electric tortilla maker or if on a pan then place a heavy weight on the tortilla and cook for another 1 Р2 mins. Make sure to turn the tortillas around while cooking, so that they cook and brown evenly.

6. Cut them into even wedges or quarters and serve hot with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Vegan and Gluten Free Version :

Replace wheat flour by Pearl millet flour | Sorghum flour | Bajra atta | Kambu maavu or Amaranth flour | Rajgheera atta and dairy cheese by vegan cheese or tofu in the above recipe. Use only electric tortilla press to make gluten free tortillas. Serve hot with guacamole, salsa and tofu sour cream.

Buen Provecho. Adios, amigos!

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Si, por favor, Gracias!

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¤ THENGAI PAL PAYASAM| COCONUT MILK PAYASAM ¤

On the friday following the Varalakshmi Vratham poojai, Coconut payasam is prepared. The coconut ¬†which was kept on the ‘Kalasam’ for the poojai is stored in a rice bag, through the week and then used for this preparation.This payasam recipe is vegan and gluten free.

Pure goodness of delicious, smooth, flavoured coconut milk is indeed a treat for the Gods!

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Prep time : 30 mins; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 1 large coconut
  • 2 tsp rice
  • 3/4 – 1 cup sugar or jaggery
  • 7 – 9 green cardamoms
  • 7 – 9 saffron strands
  • a dash of grated nutmeg powder
  • a pinch of edible camphor | pachai karpooram
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1, 2, 3 Coconut milk extracts and the simmering ‘Coconut Milk Payasam’ made with palm sugar.

Method :

  1. Wash, rinse and soak the rice in lukewarm water for about 15 mins.
  2. Grate the coconut. Peel and powder the cardamom in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Grind the grated coconut along with the soaked rice and about 1 1/2 cups of warm water in a blender. Filter with a strainer or a muslin cloth and obtain the 1st extract of (coconut + rice) milk. Repeat the procedure twice, to obtain the 2nd and 3rd extract of (coconut + rice) milk.
  4.  Mix and pour all the milk extracts into a vessel and heat it over a low flame and stir continuously. When it gets heated up, add sugar or jaggery and when it starts to simmer, switch of heat and add cardamom powder, grated nutmeg powder, saffron and pachai karpooram (lends a divine aroma). Coconut payasam is ready for neivedhyam.

Note :

  1. Do not allow the milk to boil as the milk will curdle. On the other hand, if removed too soon, it will have a raw smell. The thumb rule is to allow the milk to get hot enough i.e upto its simmering point but not be allowed to boil.
  2. Since it is for neivedhyam, one can err on lower levels of sugar. If required one may add more sugar after the neivedhyam.

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¤ KARA KUZHIPANIHARAM ¤

Kara Kuzhipaniharam is a well known South Indian, savoury Chettinad dish made for breakfast and tiffin. This interesting offshoot of the Idli batter is tasty, vegan, gluten free, fermented, healthy and easy to prepare.

It is prepared on a traditional Kuzhipaniharam kalu chetty made of cast iron for heat retention, with several hemispherical indentations, placed directly on a stove top. Similar types of pan used in other cusines are Appam pan РKerala, Æbleskiver pan РDanish, Poffertjes РDutch, Gai dan jaan pan РChinese, Takoyaki pan РJapanese.

Kuzhipaniharam’s¬†distinctive sphere¬†shape, makes it an inviting pick me up delight, fun and appealing to all, especially children.

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An avalanche of scrumptious Kara kuzhipaniharams for one and all!

Prep time :  2 Р3 hrs; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :

  • 3 cups of¬†fermented¬†Idli Batter¬†(rice | millet)
  • 1 tbsp Channa Dal |¬†Bengal Gram lentils
  • 2 – 3 green chilies
  • 1/2 cup Sambhar onions | shallots or 2 onions
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
  • 3 sprigs of coriander leaves
  • Rock salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil or any cooking oil
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The Steps. Savoury Kuzhipaniharam sizzling away on the traditional kuzhipaharam heavy cast iron kalu chetty | pan

Directions:

1. Finely chop the onions, green chilies, curry leaves and coriander leaves. To the fermented Idli batter add all of these, bengal gram dal and salt, keeping in mind the already salted fermented Idli batter. Mix well. Set aside for 2 Р3 hours which helps to soften the bengal gram dal and makes it a chewy bite.

2. Heat up the Paniyaram | kallu chetty | pan on the gas stove, pour 1/2 tsp oil into each of the pits and then pour a spoonful of the prepared batter till each pit is about 3/4 full. Cover and let it cook on low flame for 10 mins. Uncover and with a stick, a skewer or back of a spoon, upturn the kuzhipaniyarams and let it cook on this side too, for about 5 mins. Make sure to cook till no raw batter is inside the kuzhipaniyarams.

Variations :

1. Grated coconut, grated carrot – either or both can be added to the batter.

2. Pour the batter upto 1/4 into the pit then add 1/2 tsp of green chutney / tomato onion chutney / any chutney of choice. Nowadays restaurants have come up with grated paneer / tofu / cheese additions too. Then pour over, some more batter such that the stuffing is sandwiched in the center and prepare stuffed Kuzhipaniharams.

Savoury kuzhipaniharams can be served along with coconut chutney, flax seed molaga podi and tomato onion chutney.

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‚ėÜ MANGO MILK | MANGO SMOOTHIE ‚ėÜ

I see mangoes¬†everywhere I go, mangoes hanging down from homegrown mango trees, farmer’s market, grocery stores and on the home front too,¬†T who loves mangoes, is always tugging at my¬†sleeve asking for¬†a¬†Mango Milkshake or a Mango Lassi or maybe¬†even¬†a Mango ice cream,¬†whenever we step outdoors. In fact, she gravely announces to me yesterday “Maa, I think I have¬†‘Mangoes going¬†extinct’ phobia”. Are those fantasy fiction library books to be blamed?!

A¬†tough ask now would be, to think of anything but Mangoes!, this reminds me of ‘The Popular Hilsa fish¬†Story’, an interesting story,¬†that I would like to share with you.

Once upon a time, Hilsa fish, being available only once a year had everyone’s attention and interest. Come Hilsa fish season, house wives exchanged recipes, shopkeepers haggled with customers over the latest price of Hilsa and fishermen talked about catching the biggest Hilsa of the season.

The then ruling King, Krishnadevraya was surprised to see even his ministers discussing Hilsa fish rather than important state issues, unable to bear this anymore, he announced a reward to anyone who could bring to the palace, a big Hilsa fish from the market, without a soul talking about it.

Tenali Raman, the court jester takes up the challenge. Next morning, shaves off, half his beard, dishevels his hair, covers himself with soot, wears torn and tattered clothes and walks out of the house looking like a tramp but please note, royally jostling a Hilsa fish in his hand. People, shocked by his appearance wonder, if he had finally gone mad. The palace guards, who hardly recognised him, went inside to inform the king. The king summoned Tenali. One look at him and the King laughed and announced Tenali, the winner of the challenge. No one had noticed the Big Hilsa Fish, in the hands of his clever and witty court jester.

Forgot about the mangoes for a while, did we? Maybe a reward for me would be in order, right?!

Coming back to our subject, a trivia on mangoes is that, the¬†lovely¬†colour of the mango is called ‘Mambazha colour’ in Tamil and is a very popular colour choice for the famous¬†South Indian traditional¬†Kanjeevaram Silk Sarees.

Personally, love to gorge on the juicy mangoes, as is, but if you are toying with the idea of civilizing them, Mango Milk | Mango Smoothie is the way to go. 

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Mango Milk with the ‘Mambazha colour’ saree as backdrop

 Prep time : 15 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients  :

  • Mangoes ( Alphonso¬†|¬†any variety, fully ripened) –¬†6
  • Milk ¬† – 1 Liter
  • Brown Sugar – 8 – 9 tbsp s
  • Green Cardamom – 1
  • Saffron – 3 – 4 strands

Method  :

1. Peel and crush the cardamom to fine powder in a mortar and pestle

2. Boil the milk, then add add sugar, saffron and cardamom powder when hot. Let it cool down then strain the milk with a strainer.

3. Chop the mangoes into small pieces and puree them in a blender. Add the cooled, boiled, strained milk to the mango puree and mix well.

4. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more before serving it chilled.

Options :

1. You can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the Mango Milk and call it Mango Milkshake.

2. Vegan version РBlend Almond Milk, sugar and the mango puree. Chill and serve.

To make your own Almond Milk, soak about 250 gm of Almonds in warm water overnight. Peel and blend them with about 4 – 41/2 cups of water, adding the water gradually, in installments, to get the required consistency.

This ‘Mango Nectar’ must be savoured slowly, spoon by spoon!

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Mango Nectar

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