Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back to School Special: Charmuri Chikki ( Rice Crispy Squares)





It is that time of the year when we are busy sending our kids back to school! My daughter started Kindergarten today. This according to me is the official beginning of the formal education for my child... I guess for me too.. as this is my first advent with the public school system in the United States. I was educated in India mainly, and the instructional method is completely different from here. To make it even more complicated, my child is in the gifted and talented program, which means that it is a lot of work and learning for her and for me!! It is very hard to be a working mom. I had to take the day off yesterday so that I would be a part of this big milestone of my baby. I am the one dreading her schooling as it only adds to my work load! She was unperturbed, all excited! I wonder if I will have any time to spend blogging... Ok ok I guess I am getting carried away now.. Many moms before me have done this and survived, and I guess I will too..



Coming back to today's special, I figured "back to school" would be a perfect theme for this Fiesta Friday as all parents strive to provide their children with healthy snacks whether they are in kindergarten or in college! We always worry if our kids are eating enough and if it is nutritious enough! Today I am bringing to you a healthy, nutritious, natural, gluten-free, nut-free, easy to make snack. I came up with this recipe when I was making charmuri laddoos ( rice crispy balls) for Ganesh Chathurthi . It was quite out of necessity and desperation. To make the laddoos, you have to mix in the rice puffs in piping hot jaggery syrup and then shape them into balls while the mixture is still hot! If it cools down, you can no longer shape the mixture into balls. I figured that if I were to pour it into a tray and then cut it into squares it would save me a whole lot of time, not to mention the burning of my hand! Without further ado let me share the recipe. I love going to Angie's Fiesta Friday. Hilda@Along The Grapevine is co-hosting this week.



Servings: makes one 9x13 inch tray


Ingredients:


Jaggery: 2 cups
Puffed Rice : 8 cups ( you can also use rice crispies)
Cardamom powder: 1/4tsp
Water: 1/2cup

Method:


Dry roast the puffed rice until crispy, around 5-10 mins and keep aside in an airtight container.



Line a baking tray with parchment paper or wax paper and keep aside.

Heat jaggery and water in a pot until the jaggery is completely melted and liquid. Now turn off the heat, let it settle for  5 mins. Gently pour the molten jaggery into a thick-bottomed  pot, leaving behind any sandy residue.




Heat the molten jaggery on medium flame until it thickens and is sticky and stringy when attempting to pick to pour from a spoon. Turn off the flame.





Now mix in the cardamom powder and the toasted puffed rice a cup at a time. Mix well  and thoroughly  after the addition of each cup so that the jaggery coats each and every individual puffed rice grain and you have a nice golden mixture.If you feel that the jaggery is not coating the puffed rice or the mixture is more white than golden, then stop adding anymore puffed rice.

Pour the hot mixture into the prepared baking tray. Using a spatula gently press down to make it compact and even on top.



Cut into squares while still warm but don't remove it out. Once cooled down, separate the squares and store it in an air-tight container.





Stays fresh at room-temperature for upto a month.



Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


If you don't have wax paper or parchment paper, just grease the tray with ghee or butter. Grease the sides too.

If you don't have a baking tray, put it in any regular metal square / rectangular tray.

Puffed rice softens and looses it's crispness when left in open air, hence it is essential to both dry roast it and then store it in an airtight container until it is ready to be used.

Tip for healthy living:


Traditionally jaggery has been used as a sweetener for several centuries now. It is also used in most Indian desserts and also in coffee and tea. Jaggery is a great alternative to white sugar. Both are made from sugar cane juice, the only difference being that jaggery is less processed and is more natural as opposed to white sugar. Simply put jaggery is nothing but sugarcane juice that has been boiled down until it solidifies.It can be used anywhere that sugar is used. Jaggery is also a good source of iron.

References:
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/jaggery-and-sugar.html
https://www.reliancegeneral.co.in/insurance/articles/year-2012/September/Say-No-to-Sugar-Opt-for-Jaggery.aspx
http://ayurveda.md/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42&Itemid=1
http://www.thehealthsite.com/fitness/6-healthy-substitutes-for-white-sugar/

Food for thought:


Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson