Aloo Tikki

Aloo tikkis ( Potato patties) are a popular North Indian street food. Served up on its own or in Ragada Patties, they make for a lip smacking snack. Typically they are shallow fried and seasoned with herbs and spices. My version of the Aloo tikki is simple, has very few ingredients and prefer to deep fry it when serving it as an appetizer on its own.

You will need:
For the Tikkis:

2 large potatoes (Russet), boiled, peeled and grated
1 tsp Red chilli powder (adj. to taste)
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Chopped Cilantro
2 tbsp Tomato Ketchup

2-3 tbsp Cornstarch
Oil for deep frying

Combine all of the tikki ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Shape into 2 inch wide patties and set aside. 

In a shallow bowl, mix cornstarch with little water to form smooth slurry. Dip each prepared aloo tikki in the cornstarch mixture and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep pan. 

When the oil is hot, fry the tikkis on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with Mint chutney, hot sauce or plain ol’ ketchup. 

Gongura Pachadi – Ajji’s adige (cooking)

It’s been a while since I posted on here coz I’ve been too busy spending time with my grand mother – Ajji as I fondly call her in Kannada; who is visiting from India. The day flies by while she and I engage in endless conversations about everything from memories of her younger years to the way things are in current times. This past week I’ve realized how fortunate I am to still have my maternal grandparents and have the opportunity to spend invaluable time with them. I am certainly making the most of everyday; not to forget the wonderful cooking tips and the wealth of information I’m getting from years of gran’s cooking experience. 

I have always enjoyed eating Andhra style food – the quintessential poppu (mildly flavoured daal), Dondakayi fry (Tindora fry) and the most popular Gongura Pachadi, mixed in hot rice and a generous serving of ghee…mmmm just the thought has me drooling! I had taken Ajji to our local Farmers Market and she was thrilled to see such a wide array of veggies, fruits and greens. When she saw the Gongura leaves, she picked them up right away and I was excited we were going to make Gongura Pachadi (chutney)

You will need:

1 large bunch Gongura( Red stemmed Sorrel) leaves, stems removed, washed and drained
10 pods Garlic, divided
Salt to taste
15 Green chillies *
Powdered Jaggery, as required
2 tbsp Oil

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the Gongura leaves, ½ tsp Salt, green chillies and 5 pods of Garlic to a smooth paste adding water only as needed – I used about less then a ¼ cup. You can use a regular blender, as long as you can make a smooth paste without adding too much water. Chop remaining garlic.

Heat a non-stick pan with oil. Add the chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant about 30 seconds. Now add the prepared Gongura paste. Taste the paste, if it is too sour to your liking, add jaggery as required to balance the flavours. We like the Gongura pachadi when its slightly tart and very spicy, so I used about one heaping tablespoon. Saute the paste on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes until it turns from a bright green to a moss colored paste and is fragrant. Adjust salt as needed. 

Storing: Let cool completely before transferring to an air-tight container and refrigerate. If stored well, the pachadi should last for up to 3 weeks.

This is typically eaten with hot rice and ghee. Scrumptiousness in every mudda – a small portion of food rolled up in a bite-sized ball. 

Spiced Chocolate Brownies

Brownies – simple, no fuss no muss pieces of chocolatey goodness ready to pop into your mouth in a single bite or several bites;my definition of this popular classic. Here I have adapted one of Ina Garten’s recipe for outrageous chocolate brownies. When I first saw her make it on the show Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, I was drooling and was waiting for an opportunity to make these brownies. I tweaked it a bit to suit my taste and played around with the different types of chocolate. I also added in a bit of chili powder to give it a kick…. If you haven’t tried it yet, chili and chocolate together tastes insanely good. 

The recipe below feeds a whole lot of people, so halve the recipe if you need or better still make the whole batch and freeze what you don’t need right away.

You will need:
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies:

4 sticks unsalted butter
1 lb semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 oz Bitter sweet chocolate chips
6 extra- large eggs
3 tbsp Coffee granules
½ tsp Chilli powder
2 tbsp Vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups Sugar
1 ¼ cups All-purpose flour
1 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
2 ½ cups chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 12x18x1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, pound of chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate and the bitter sweet chocolate using a double-boiler or a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water where the water doesn’t touch the bowl directly. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, chili powder and sugar until combined. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and combine well. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the cooled chocolate. Toss the walnuts with remaining ½ cup of flour. Add this to the chocolate mix and combine well. Pour into the greased pan and bake for 20 minutes. Tap the sheet on your baking rack to release the air between the brownie dough and pan. Continue baking for 15 more minutes. Do not over bake and check by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean then the brownie is done all the way.

Allow to cool completely and refrigerate for a few hours before cutting into pieces. If you try to cut into it before it cools, the brownie will crumble due to the hot butter. Patience is certainly well worth it here. :)

Once chilled, cut into cubes, bites, chunks…anything that makes it easier to sink your teeth into!

French Strawberry Fraisier for the Daring Bakers

This month’s DB challenge had us baking a moist delicious cake layered with pastry cream and fresh strawberries - a French Fraisier. Layered cakes aren’t new to me nor are pastry type cakes but with this cake, the challenge was to have it free standing on a platter. Layered cakes are usually held together with the outer icing that binds the entire cake and keeps the layers in place. The absence of the outer icing and the fact that the fruit had to be exposed in the layer made this a real challenge. All in all was a good learning experience, and with true Daring Baker spirit,I took this challenge head on and made it look as good looking as I possibly could. Needless to say, it tasted just as good as it looks. 

“Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.”

Recipe Source: These recipes have been adapted from the cook book Tartine by Elisabeth M Prueitt and Chad Robertson, the chefs and owners of Tartine, a beloved San Francisco bakery.

Mandatory Items: You must make a cake with exposed fruits, edible flowers, etc. around the sides of the center layer. You must make all components (cake, pastry cream mousse, simple syrup) from scratch. You may not make a trifle. It must be a free-standing cake on a platter.

Preparation time: The traditional recipe I am providing can be made in stages. As a whole the recipe requires at least 4 hours of time, and 4 hours of refrigeration, BUT the cake, pastry cream and syrup can be made days ahead of assembly to help ease the time burden. Once these three are made, the cake will take about half an hour to assemble followed by 4 hours of refrigeration.

Equipment required:

● measuring cups and spoons for liquid and dry ingredients
● cutting board & knife to prepare the fruit
● electric mixer or stand mixer
● wooden spoon
● rolling pin
● plastic wrap
● parchment paper
● cooling rack
● serving platter of your choice
● 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan
● 2 large mixing bowls
● small mixing bowl
● whisk
● rubber spatula
● toothpick
● butter knife
● heavy sauce pan
● fine mesh sieve
● small dish
● 2 small sauce pans
● small stainless steel bowl or double boiler
● pastry bag

Basic Chiffon Cake:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar


1. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
6. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
7. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
10. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Pastry Cream Filling:

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin
1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) heavy cream


1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
4. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
5. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
8. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
11. Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
12. Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
13. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Simple Syrup:

You may choose to flavor the syrup. One way is to use flavored sugar (for example: apple cider sugar, orange sugar, or vanilla sugar) or to stir in 1-2 teaspoons of flavored extract. You may also infuse with herbs or spices, if desired or add four tablespoons (60 ml) of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.

1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water


1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.

Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Fraisier Assembly:

1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste*

Note: Instead of the almond paste I used the remaining pastry cream on top with fresh whole strawberries and piped whipped cream.


1. Line the sides of a 10-inch (25 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
3. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
4. Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
5. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
6. Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.
7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
8. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 10-inch (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Fig & Honey Ice-cream

The summer heat has just about reached its peak and any amount of chilled beverages and ice-creams don’t seem enough to cool off. I’ve already made a batch of Mango ice-cream this summer too, and wanted to make other flavours. I also bought a spanking new red Cuisinart ice-cream maker, oh boy, it has just made my life and making ice-creams that much easier! Last week I was at Costco and found fresh figs and I was squealing with joy!! 

My last memory of eating fresh figs is from almost a decade ago when ajji (my grandma) used to bring them home when she saw them in the market. This was one fruit I really missed when I came here and didn’t quite know where to buy them or when they were in season here. This year I had kept an eye out for them and came home armed with two whole boxes – about 50 figs in all. By the time I got around to making ice-cream I had polished off about ½ off one box and had to resist eating them all.

I use a lot of the figs to make Fig & Honey Ice-cream, a flavor favourite from childhood and something I haven't come across here in the USA.

You will need:

2 cups chopped Mission figs, about 12-14
2 cups Whole Milk
2 tbsp Custard Powder (Brown & Polson, recommended)
3 tbsp + 2 tbsp Crystal Sugar
3 tbsp Water
½ cup Condensed milk
4 tbsp good quality Honey
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 cups Heavy cream
Powdered Sugar, if required

Combine the chopped figs,3 tbsp crystal sugar and water in a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until figs are soft and the whole mixture has a jam like consistency, about 7-8 minutes. Turn off heat and cool completely. 

Combine ¼ cup of cold milk with the custard powder until dissolved and lump free. Bring remaining milk and 2 tbsp sugar to a boil on medium heat. When it begins to boil, remove from heat and add the custard paste while stirring. Return to low heat and stir until the custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Turn off heat and cool completely.

Once the custard is cooled, stir in the condensed milk, honey,vanilla and heavy cream. Transfer to a metal container and chill for atleast 8 hours. Churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the last 5 minutes of churning, add the fig mixture. 

 Serve with additional honey drizzled on top if required. 

Mirchi ka Salan - Green Jalapenos Curry

Mirchi ka Salan is a typical dish from Hyderabad traditionally served to be eaten with Biryani. Mirchi translates to Chilli in Hindi and Salan is a gravy so it’s a spicy tangy gravy with chillies in it. This dish can be made with any kind of chilli – hot chillies like the Thai Chilli pepper or Serranos as well as the slightly milder one like the Jalapeno. 

I prefer to use Jalapenos, so that I can make the gravy very spicy and also the Jalapenos hold up well when pressure cooked.

You will need:
10 Green Jalapenos, washed and dried
¼ cup Vegetable Oil
½ cup thinly sliced onions
1 tsp Mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
2 tsp Red chilli powder (optional)
Salt to taste

To dry roast:

2 tbsp Coriander seeds
8 Dried Red chillies (4 Guntur, 4 Byadige)
1 tbsp White Sesame seeds
½ cup raw Peanuts, skinned

Roast each of the ingredients separately until fragrant and slightly brown. Pulverize in a blender to a fine powder. 

To grind to a paste:

½ cup grated fresh coconut
1 tbsp Fried Gram ( Hurgadale)
1 tbsp Tamarind paste (or 1/4 cup Tamarind pulp)
1 tbsp Jaggery (adj. to taste)

Note: You can vary the number of dried red chillies to suit your preference for spicy levels.

Slit the jalapenos in half up to the stem taking care not to cut it completely. Fill each jalapeno with little of the ground powder. Make a paste with the remaining powder and ‘to grind’ ingredients.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add the mustard seeds and when it begins to splutter add the curry leaves. Add the sliced onions and sauté until done. Add the prepared paste and sauté for a few minutes. Now add the filled jalapenos, ½ cup water enough to submerge the jalapenos. Season with salt, stir and then close cooker with lid. 

Turn heat to high, when the steam begins to rise, place weight on lid turn heat to low and cook for 8 minutes. Turn off heat, let cooker cool well before removing lid. Stir and serve hot with rotis.

Baklava for the Daring Bakers

This month we made Baklava, a sweet rich pastry made with layers of phyllo dough and nuts sweetened with simple syrup. Baklava is widely known as a Greek dessert, but it’s origin has really never been pinpointed as many Middle Eastern countries also name it as their own.

“Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.”

The actual challenge this month was making the phyllo dough at home and rolling it into sheets to be used in the Baklava. I’ve had Baklava on my mind for over a month ever since I had my first taste of it at a Persian restaurant in downtown St.Louis, MO. My friends love Baklava too and we’ve been talking about making some, and this challenge came at just about the right time. Of course I wasn’t expecting to make the sheets too, but that’s the perks of being a Daring Baker, pushing your limits and getting out of your comfort zone.  :)

Phyllo, which means, "leaf" in Greek, is tissue paper-thin like sheets of dough. Homemade phyllo is a lot of work to roll out but is worth it, it’s delicious! Baklava is quite simple to make but is a little time consuming.

Recipe Source:
• Phyllo Dough Recipe - Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
• Baklava - Adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network

Preparation time: The recipe may seem simple but it is a little time consuming
Phyllo Dough Mixing/Kneading: 15-25 minutes
Resting time: 30-90 minutes (longer is better)
Rolling Phyllo: varies, approx. 2 minutes per sheet
Syrup: 15 minutes plus cooling
Baklava: 30 minutes
Resting: Overnight

Equipment required:
Measuring spoons
Wooden dowel or rolling pin
Sharp knife
Measuring cups
Stand mixer (can knead by hand)
Baking dishes – 9” x 9” is recommended
Plastic wrap
Medium pot
Pastry brush
Food processor /blender

Phyllo Dough:

- Single recipe of dough will fill a 8” x 5” baking dish.
-I doubled the recipe to yield 15-18 sheets depending on the way you roll, to fill a 9” x 2” round baking dish.
-Dough can be made ahead of time and frozen. Remove from freezer and allow to thaw and continue making your baklava.

1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (185 gm/6½ oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (¾ gm) salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)


In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt. Mix with paddle attachment. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water – I had to add a tablespoon more. The dough should be very soft and slightly sticky. Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes. 

Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best. I let mine rest for 2 hours and it was just right. 

Rolling your Phyllo

** Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough**

Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can. This is a helpful video to get the dough thin.

 You may also use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin whatever works for you. I used a regular rolling pin and it worked fine. 

1. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
2. Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.
3. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.
4. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel
5. Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel (see attached video for a visual, its much easier then it sounds)
6. Remove; notice how much bigger it is!
7. Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.
8. When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner. Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine
9. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flour well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not dry out. 

Baklava Recipe
Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
Note: If you decide to use a 9”x2” baking pan, the entire quantity of syrup is not required. 

For the syrup:
• 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
• 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
• 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
• a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove

When the baklava is in the oven, make the syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot, I find it better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled slightly. 

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava bakes. 

For the Filling:

1 (5-inch/125 mm piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon
15 to 20 whole allspice berries ( I just used a few pinches)
3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds
3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts
3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
Phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter - I used clarified butter or ghee as its known in India, and I used only about less than ½ cup. 

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside. Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it's not needed)

Spread a 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance. 

With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9x9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge. Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)

When the baklava is baked, remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava!

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: There are a few ways to store your Baklava. It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container. Stored at room temperature your baklava will last for up to 2 weeks. You will notice as the days pass it will get a little juicier and chewier. You may choose to store it in the fridge; this will make it a little harder and chewy, but does increase the shelf life. You can also freeze your baklava and then just set it out at room temperature to thaw.

Thanks Erica for a great challenge, it was a wonderful experience making the phyllo sheets at home and layering them in the Baklava. A sense of achievement in every bite :)

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