“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

APPLE RAITA / APPLE YOGURT DIP

My husband has been going to the hills quite frequently as his work involves visiting remote areas in the hills. Last week he was in Almora.  When he passed Bhowali, he stopped at the famous fruit mart there and got us luscious golden apples. These apples are crunchy and very sweet. Best suited to make Apple Raita. Apple raita is a sweet, mildly flavoured raita - a truly sattvik recipe. The sweetness of apples and flavour of roasted cumin seeds make a great combination. This raita makes a great accompaniment to any meal.


Ingredients
2 cups thick curd
1 apple grated
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar (not required if the apples are sweet)
1 teaspoon roasted and powdered cumin seeds
15-20 raisins
Method
Beat curd with sugar till smooth. Add salt. Add grated apples and mix well. Now add roasted cumin seed powder. Add raisins in the end.


My notes: You can also add finely chopped coriander leaves and finely chopped green chillies.

Friday, 26 October 2012

DUSSHEHRA AND BROWN RICE KHEER / BROWN RICE JAGGERY PUDDING

Sometimes I really wonder what drives people from the villages to walk for miles and board the ramshackle public transport braving the heat and the maddening traffic to watch Ramlila (enactment of the story of Ramayan). Happy faces, bright faces, shining eyes, in garish outfits, sweating, panting, and chatting in high decibels excitedly rushing to the venue to secure their places. It is the faith behind the spirit. They get so deeply involved in the act that they look upon the actor playing Ram as God and even touch his feet for blessings. When the effigy of Ravana goes up in flames, the chants “Jai Shri Ram” rend the skies. Universal truth –Victory of good over the evil has been reiterated.
These are the village folks who lead a simple Spartan life. Their simplicity is the key to their happiness. We have to simplify our life to enrich it. We call Ravana a demon because of his evil qualities but do we ever ponder over how many Ravanas we carry in our bosoms? Till we burn these Ravanas, we cannot experience the simple joys of life. Till we shed the extra baggage that is weighing us down, our inherent goodness will never surface and can never find peace and purpose in our life….
Dusshera is celebrated with great √©lan. Special food is made on Dussehra and Kheer is a must. Generally rice kheer is prepared on Dussehra. I try to follow all the customs that are followed in my parent’s home. I too made kheer on Dussehra. Instead of white rice, I used brown rice which is healthier and makes kheer a little chewy and tastier. Instead of refined sugar, I used jaggery. Here goes the recipe-

Ingredients
4 tablespoons brown rice
3 cups toned milk
Crumbled jaggery (to taste)
¾ cup roasted and chopped almonds, cashew nuts and pistachios
Five to six cardamoms (seeds powdered)
Method
Wash and soak brown rice for about 2 hours. Throw away water. Take milk in a thick bottomed vessel. Add brown rice and let it cook. Keep stirring. When the milk has reduced to half its quantity and rice is cooked, turn off the gas. With the help of a ladle, mash cooked rice grains by pressing against the sides of the vessel. This will thicken the kheer. Now cook for another five minutes and turn off the gas. Add jaggery and powdered cardamom and mix well. The jaggery should melt completely and there should be no lumps. Add cardamom powder and dry fruits. Serve warm.


My notes: Keep it less sweet and add a lot of nuts.
If you liked this recipe and tried in your kitchen, do write to me. I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

KHAJOOR BADAM KHEER / SUGARFREE DATES AND ALMOND PUDDING

Navratra festivities are on. As fasting and feasting continues, every kitchen is busy and sweet smelling. My mother has been fasting throughout. There has been no compromise on her part in her daily chores. Sometimes her energy and spirits at this age surprise me. In spite of severe arthritis, she is able to meet all deadlines, follow rituals, cook, shop, clean and even pamper her ever demanding grandchildren by making aloo parantha or finger chips at odd hours. Salute to thee mom!
Yesterday I made Dates Kheer for my mom. It is a simple sattvik recipe, very nutritious and energy giving. Perfect to have during fasts.


Ingredients
15 dates
15 almonds
3 cups toned milk
¼ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
Method
Wash and clean the dates. Remove seeds and chop them finely.


Powder the almonds with skin in a grinder.

Take milk in a heavy bottom vessel and bring to a boil.

 Lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the gas. Add powdered almonds and mix well.

There should be no lumps. Now add dates. Cook on low flame for about 10 minutes. Keep stirring so that the kheer does not stick to the bottom. Turn off the gas and add ground nutmeg. Serve warm.


My notes: Dates lend enough sweetness to the kheer so there is no need to add sugar. If the kheer becomes too thick, add some milk to get desired consistency. Powdered  nutmeg can be avoided to enjoy the natural flavour of dates and almonds.

Monday, 22 October 2012

NAVRATRAS AND BADAM KHEER / ALMOND PUDDING

There is something special about autumn. Besides the clear blue skies, bright Sun, and natural beauty that adorns the Earth, a strange divinity and spirituality suffuses the atmosphere. Navratras (nine sacred nights), fall in autumn. Navratras, observed twice in a year (autumn and spring) mark the transition in seasons, summer to winter and winter to summer. According to Indic thought, this transition period in nature spans roughly nine days and nights. During these nine sacred nights, fasts are observed for purification – both physical and ethereal. During this period, weather changes and various energies of creation move from imbalances towards a new normalcy. Since we are an integral part of the creation, the prana shakti inside our body undergoes a process of re-alignment from imbalance to a new balance for the new season. For this, the body has to be kept light. According to Ayurveda, during this time, one should consume simple natural food in minimal quantities to rid the body of toxins. Such food nourishes both body, and soul.
In our family, very simple and bland food is had during these days. Idea is to have a nourishing meal without taxing the system. My mother religiously observes fasts which are broken with very simple food. Badam kheer is often made in our home during Navratra festivities. It is a simple dish with all the goodness of almonds. Here goes the recipe-



Ingredients
½ cup almonds
2 cups toned milk
5-6 cardamoms (powder the seeds)
10-12 strands of saffron
1 tablespoon pure ghee (clarified butter)
3 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
¼ cup water
Method
Put almonds in a bowl and pour a cup of boiling water on them.

 Cover the bowl and let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain off hot water and wash them with cold water. Now remove the skins.

Reserve about five to six almonds and grind the remaining blanched almonds in a mixer with ¼ cup of water. Heat ghee in a heavy bottom steel wok or any heavy bottom pan. Add almond paste and cook over low flame till the color changes to pinkish brown.

Add milk and mix well. Bring it to a boil over high flame stirring continuously. Reduce the flame, add sugar and let it cook for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn off the gas. Add cardamom powder and saffron strands soaked in warm milk. Finely chop the peeled almonds and add them to kheer to get a nice chewy feel. Serve warm or at room temperature.


My notes: Ghee can be avoided. If you are doing so, add milk to the paste and cook.  Keep the sugar less to feel the blandness and sweetness of the almonds.
 If you liked this recipe and tried in your kitchen, do write to me. I would love to hear from you. Happy Navratras!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Vanilla Cake (Wholegrain)



I learnt an important lesson some four years ago that whenever you are embarking on a journey, especially with small children, it is very important that you carry a lot of eatables especially dry food with you. It comes in handy as kids keep eating throughout the journey, it saves you from eating junk food like chips etc when hunger pangs become unbearable, it also fills your tummy well if the food of your choice is not available and God forbid, if your traveling time gets extended due to some reason, it is a blessing to have eatables with you. When our daughter was two years old, while returning home from Delhi, we got stuck in a huge traffic jam. A bridge had collapsed. Here was no way that the vehicles could move. Since we were just two hours from our destination, some villagers suggested that we take the forest road that would meet the highway after a detour. After a little reluctance, we turned our vehicle and decided to take the forest road as a lot of vehicles were taking this route. It turned out to be a real nightmare. There was no defined road. There were huge boulders on the way and road was uneven. It got worse after the sunset. We had packed some sandwiches which were over. There was only a pack of biscuits which our daughter had nibbled and there was nothing for her. It was already ten hours of travelling since morning. She started crying with hunger and exhaustion. We were cursing ourselves for the bad planning. After this trip, she suffered from the infection of the intestines as she had been eating pieces of biscuits fallen in the car. Since then, I always carry a lot of food in the journeys. This time, besides biscuits (my last post), I also made whole wheat tea time Vanilla cake.


This cake is delicious and filling and has the goodness of whole wheat flour.


Vanilla Cake (Wholegrain)

Ingredients


  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (atta)
  • ½ cup (100gms) butter
  • 1 cup sugar powdered
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (100ml) buttermilk or mix yogurt and water to make ½ cup.
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Instructions



  1. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake tin cake tin or 8  1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch bread pan. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add vanilla essence. 
  4. In a bowl, sift whole wheat flour with salt, baking soda and baking powder. Keep aside. 
  5. Beat the white of the eggs till fluffy and stiff. 
  6. Add this to butter-sugar mixture.
  7. Add yolks and mix well. Now add flour to this mixture in three parts adding buttermilk while doing so. The batter should be smooth and there should be no lumps.
  8.  Pour the batter.
  9. Bake for about 55 minutes.
  10. When the top turns golden and skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove from the oven after five minutes and remove from the cake tin in another five minutes. Place it on the wire rack and let it cool.





Monday, 15 October 2012

Wholegrain Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies


Sometimes the monotony of everyday routine seems to suck the excitement and joy of living. Everything is so well programmed that life goes on mechanically. Insipidness and boredom creeps in marring the creativity and happiness. When one reaches this stage, it is important to take a break. Last weekend we went out for this much needed break. We went to a resort on the outskirts of Doon Valley. The tranquility of the place occasionally interrupted by the sound of the birds and rustling of the leaves was like a magical potion for us. Watched a Tree pie swoop down the branch and sunbird doing rounds of honey sucking in the branches profusely laden with flowers, squirrels chasing each other and a pied Myna perched on the food table  and pecking to its heart’s content……We spotted a White Cheeked Himalayan Bulbul on a dry branch of fish tail palm.


Our kids as always were greatly excited about the trip. Our daughter who has just started writing enjoys making lists to buy things from the market. She prepared a long list of eatables for the way and on top of the list were chocolate cookies. I always abhor the idea of kids chomping the store bought biscuits laced with preservatives, flavouring agents and acidity regulators. I decided to make chocolate cookies at home and asked my daughter to help me in cutting the cookies to involve her and to keep her interest alive.




 I used atta (whole wheat) instead of refined flour. This particular batch of cookies came out very well. Here goes the recipe-



Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
2 tablespoons cocoa
½ cup sugar powdered
½ cup (100 Gms) butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder (or, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt  
Method
Preheat oven to 165 degrees C.
Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
In a large bowl, sieve together whole wheat flour, baking soda and cocoa powder. Add cinnamon powder and salt and whisk.
Mix flour mixture to butter- sugar mixture.
Knead with hands till a soft dough forms. There should be no lumps. Add a teaspoon of milk so that the dough does not feel too dry.
Take some dough, make a small ball and press it between palms. Place on the baking tray. Now with a help of a cookie cutter, cut a round cookie.
Or, pinch small balls of dough and press between palms to get evenly sized cookies.
Repeat the same till the dough is over. Arrange the cookies in a baking tray. Bake for exactly 15 minutes. If the cookies haven’t browned well, bake them for further 5 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven in five minutes and remove the cookies from the baking tray after another five minutes. Leave them to cool. Store in an airtight container.
These cookies are very crisp, chocolatey with a mild hint of cinnamon.




Thursday, 11 October 2012

EGGLESS DARK CHOCOLATE CAKE


“Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.” – George Eliot

Yes, autumn is here in all its beauty. Pleasant mornings, crisp warm sunshine and beautiful evenings.  Our garden is bursting with flowers. Birds, bees and butterflies are thronging the flowers sucking nectar all day. Yesterday we spotted a big group of grey Hornbills in the huge Jamun tree in our house. It is indeed the best time of the year!
The flu and fever bug has finally left our house. Yesterday I felt very happy when my daughter asked me to bake a cake for her. All these days, she was not eating well due to cold and fever. To celebrate autumn and to celebrate normalcy returning after “bad health days,” I baked our favourite Egg less dark Chocolate Cake.

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup Cocoa powder
1 cup Yogurt
¾ cup sugar (powdered)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
½ cup walnuts chopped
½ cup olive oil or any other oil

Method
Sieve together all purpose flour and cocoa powder two times. In a large bowl, mix yogurt and sugar. Beat well. Add baking powder and baking soda to yogurt sugar mixture and mix well. Bubbles will start appearing. After two minutes, add oil and mix well. Slowly add flour and cocoa mixtures adding one tablespoon at a time. Mix well scraping the sides so that there are no lumps. Add vanilla essence in the end and add some chopped walnuts rolled in flour. Grease, line and dust a 6 inch round cake tin and pour the batter. Add remaining walnuts on top. Bake in a pre heated oven at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes. Now set the temperature to 175 degrees C and set the timer to 45 minutes. When the skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, the cake is done. Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the cake tin and cool in the wire rack. This cake tastes great with custard or icecream or just plain.



Autumn in our garden!

Monday, 8 October 2012

IRISH BREAD WITH RAISINS

Another great tasting quick bread. Easy to make as ingredients are simple and always available at home. Raisins add natural sweetness to this bread. I make it very often. It comes in handy when kids are hungry at odd hours. Tastes great with butter or just plain. Irish bread is also convenient to take along in journeys. It is non- messy and filling.


Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 tablespoons sugar (4 tablespoons powdered, 1 tablespoon granulated to sprinkle on top)
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins
Method
Sieve together all purpose flour, wheat flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add olive oil and mix evenly. Now add a little buttermilk and mix dry ingredients. Add buttermilk gradually and knead well. Once soft dough is obtained, add raisins and knead again. Shape the dough into a round ball and make a cross in the centre. Sprinkle one tablespoon sugar on top. Transfer it to a greased baking tray.




Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes.


Once done, let it sit in the oven for 10 minutes.
Thereafter transfer it to wire rack to cool.





If you liked this recipe and tried it, do leave a comment. i would love to hear from you!

Friday, 5 October 2012

OATS BREAD



There is a famous Greek saying that goes, “ It is not good for all your wishes to be fulfilled: Through sickness you recognize the value of health, through evil the value of good, through hunger satisfaction, through exertion the value of rest”. Truly said. Sometimes we take things for granted.  Last week our family suffered from cold and viral. The cold rendered the taste buds defunct coupled with a complete loss of appetite. Steam inhalation, gargling and rest became the order of the day. Endless cups of tulsi and ginger-honey tea were gulped down with immense faith. Lemongrass and lemon balm tea were tried too. Dad gave handful of menthol leaves from his garden for steaming. Now that we are on way to recovery,  What a blessing it is to be healthy.


It is late autumn and Marigold is still blooming lighting up our garden with golden shades.


Coming to the recipe of today’s post, I made oats bread yesterday. We really enjoyed with simple bottle gourd veggie and
in the end , had a slice with honey.


Oats Bread
Recipe Source – www.kingarthurflour.com
Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons honey or sugar
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 ¼ cups warm milk
Method
Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix milk, honey and yeast. Cover for 15 minutes.
Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and knead till you get a very smooth, soft and elastic dough. You may add some warm water if the dough feels hard or dry.
Transfer dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rest for 1 hour or until puffy. Dough will not become double the size.
Transfer to a floured counter and punch. Knead for 2 minutes.
Grease one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan.
Shape dough into a log. Place it in the prepared pan. Cover and keep it in a warm place to rise for 1 to 1 ½ hour or till it crests above the rim of the pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or till the top turns brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cover the top with a foil if it is browning too fast.  
Slice when cold. 
  




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