Kumaon…... is the land of the Himalayas, the abode of the Gods.
Kumaon is also the land of the seers, the ascetics and the mystics.  It is the home to rare fauna and flora.
Himalayas have an inimitable enigma and charisma that have attracted nature lovers, artists, philosophers and spiritualists since times immemorial.
A view of Neelkanth from Badrinath

The mesmerizing sunrise and sunset on the snow clad mountains, gushing waterfalls, frothy steams and rippling brooks, alluring glens and majestic glades and resplendent forests enthrall one and all. 
The rugged terrains of the hills are harsh and sometimes inhospitable, in its changing forms and moods as though reiterating the fact that the nature is all powerful. The natives of the hills lead a tough life. They have learnt to survive in the face of adversity and the
vagaries of nature have made them hardy to withstand the severity of the weather and the toughness of the terrain.

Himalayan hamlet

An old house and a new house in a village

The natives of the hills – the highlanders, grow their own food. Food is simple, comprising of whole grains, lentils, legumes, vegetables and fruits and is lavish in terms of variety. Lunch is generally grand, comprising of  rice, chapattis, lentils, raita, vegetable and salad. Lunch is had very early after which people leave for working in the fields.

Badeel is popular Kumaoni dish. It is with the main course. It is made of Bengal split grams (channa daal) and flavoured with garlic and ginger.

It is also had as snack. Here goes the recipe-
1 cup (240 ml) Bengal split gram (channa daal)
7 to 8 garlic buds peeled                                                 
1 inch piece of ginger peeled
2 to 3 green chilies (optional)
½ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 ½ tablespoon mustard oil (or any other vegetable oil)
½ teaspoon cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (for greasing the plate and for shallow frying)
Wash and soak Bengal split gram (channa daal) overnight or for a minimum of 5 hours.
Drain out water.
Transfer soaked daal to the mixer. Add ½ cup water and grind it along with salt, garlic, ginger and green chilies. The paste should be fine.
Take mustard oil in a thick bottom steel wok. Heat mustard oil. Add cumin. Turn off the heat.
When the oil gets a little cold, add daal paste. Taste salt at this stage. Add more if needed.
Turn on the gas to the medium flame, stir the paste continuously. It will stick to the bottom of the wok and to the sides. Scrape down the mixture and keep stirring.
When it begins to boil, reduce the flame and cook on low flame stirring continuously.
The mixture begins to change colour, becomes thick and the raw smell goes away as it gets cooked. Keep stirring.
When the mixture becomes thick, reduces in quantity and begins to leave the bottom of wok  while stirring, it is done. Turn off the heat.
Grease a plate. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.
Drop the daal mixture in the plate. Apply some oil in the palms, and spread the mixture to a uniform thickness in the plate by pressing with hands.   After 10 minutes, cut diamond shapes with a sharp knife. Keep aside to cool completely.
Heat a non stick pan. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the badeel pieces and cook on medium flame till they turn pink. Turn and cook on the other side.
Serve hot or cold with coriander garlic chutney.

My notes: Take care not to overcook the mixture as it will become hard and dry. Turn off the heat when it just begins to leave the sides of the wok while stirring.

Peanuts are packed with all the essential nutrients good for health. Peanuts are rich in protein, carbohydrates, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, Vitamin E, VitaminB3 (niacin), VitaminB5 (pantothenic acid), VitaminB9 (folate) and essential dietary fiber. Peanuts contain anti-oxidants. The process of roasting peanuts increases its anti oxidant content remarkably.
 Peanuts are also a rich source of fats. However, these fats are not the harmful fats. These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats lower bad cholesterol levels and help in maintaining a healthy heart. The peanuts also contain essential fatty acids namely linolenic acid. These fatty acids collectively help in maintaining healthy skin and healthy hair, keeps the blood pressure in control and are vital for growth.

Peanuts make healthy snacks. They are a popular food all over the world.
Last month we enjoyed Candied Peanuts and also the Cherry Cake that had peanut flour. Peanut fudge( burfi)  is a low calorie sweet that was made for diwali. 
Here is the recipe of Peanut Brownies from Nita Mehta’s book. I make these brownies quiet often. Original recipe asks for all purpose flour, but I always make them with whole wheat flour thus making them healthy and filling.

Peanut Brownies (Whole wheat and Egg less)
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups toned milk
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
¾ cups roasted and coarsely ground peanuts
½ cup olive oil (any neutral oil will do)
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda.
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Grease, line and dust an 8 inch square cake tin.
Boil milk. Add vinegar. The milk will curdle. Keep it on fire for ½ minute. Remove from fire. Let the mixture cool down. Mash the cottage cheese. Do not separate whey and cheese. Let it cool completely. Add oil.
Sift whole wheat flour with baking soda and cocoa powder. Add powdered sugar and ½ cup ground peanuts. Mix well.
Transfer the flour mix to a wide mouthed deep bowl.
Add liquid ingredients. Mix well. Add vanilla essence.
Pour the batter into the cake tin. Sprinkle ¼ cup ground peanuts.
Bake in a pre heated oven for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Remove from the cake tin after 10 minutes.
Cool and cut into squares.

Sending to Bake Fest #21 conceptualized by Vardhini and hosted by Sweet "n" Savoury
Healthy Me & Healthy Us conceptualized by Priya and hosted by Annarasa

 Every time we go to the store that sells the produce from the hills, I am tempted to buy water mill crushed fresh cornmeal that is coarse and smells like heaven. I have already used a lot of it in Wholewheat and maize bread, Anadama bread, and Overnight cornmeal rolls. I have started liking its strong flavour and texture. It imparts a unique, its own kind of taste to the bakes it is used in. Perhaps it is the love for the hills or having our roots in the hills that  translates into love for anything that is grown in the salubrious weather of the hills.
Having procured another pack, I wanted to use it in cookies, which I had discovered long back in David Lebovitz's site. David’s site is full of treasures for those who love bakes, chocolates and ice creams. 
The cornmeal cookies were delicious and came out well. However, there are small proportions that always need adjustments to tune the recipe to individual liking or taste.

David’s recipe asks for ¾ cup of raisins. In my case, the raisins started popping out of the cookies in the final stages of baking. In the next batch, I used just ½ cup of raisins that worked fine. I used salted butter so reduced the quantity of salt from ¾ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon. Also, the cookies should be thin and evenly spread. Bake the cookies exactly for 12 minutes or when the cookies start changing colour, turn off the oven. I did not freeze the dough. I just chilled it. I would recommend that you visit David’s site and read the original version.

Cookie Dough

This is how I made cornmeal cookies.  
Cornmeal Cookies - Zaletti
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup coarse cornmeal
½ cup and 1 ½ tablespoons powdered sugar  
155g butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
1 tablespoons flour
Toss raisins in flour and keep aside.
Beat butter and sugar till creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla essence. Mix well.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
Mix dry ingredients into butter sugar mixture. Mix well. Add raisins.
Keep the dough in the refrigerator and chill for an hour.
Pinch pieces of dough about the size of walnut, roll into ball and flatten them.
The cookies should be thin and placed with some distance between them.
Bake the cookies in a pre heated oven at 170 degrees C for 12 minutes or when the cookies just begin to change colour on top.
Remove from the oven. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Linking to Bake Fest #21 conceptualized by Vardhini and hosted by Sweet 'n' Savoury

Anadama bread is a traditional bread of New England. It is made with flour, cornmeal and molasses. There are a number of legends about how the bread got its name. It is believed that a New England fisherman was fed up of eating the same bread everyday made by her wife Anna. One day, in a fit of anger he went into the kitchen to make something different to eat. He baked a loaf of bread using the ingredients in the kitchen- all the while muttering, “Anna damn her!”
According to another legend, Anna, fisherman’s wife fed him cornmeal porridge sweetened with molasses. One day, the fisherman when came home, added some flour and yeast to the mush and put it in the oven to bake bread, all the while mumbling, Anna damn her!”
Whatever be the origin of the story, this simple loaf with flour, cornmeal and molasses has become extremely popular in New England.
It is a delicious bread.

I read the recipe of Anadama bread here, here and here. However, I finally baked one from kingarthurflour.com
Some changes had to be made keeping in mind the availability of the ingredients and also keeping in mind our taste preferences. Molasses was replaced by honey. I omitted milk powder and used olive oil instead of butter. I also required a little more water than mentioned in the recipe. So, here goes my Anadama Bread recipe-

Anadama Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup honey
1 cup boiling water plus ½ cup warm water
Whisk together cornmeal and salt. Mix oil and honey. Add boiling water. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
Add all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and instant yeast. Knead well. If the dough feels dry add warm water to get smooth soft dough.
Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Deflate the dough, knead further for 5 minutes.
Grease a bread tin (8 inch x 3 ½ inch) and dust with cornmeal.
With the help of a rolling pin or with hands, stretch out the dough , no wider than the loaf pan you are using.
Roll the dough towards you, tightly. Pinch seams to seal.
Place the roll in the greased loaf tin with the seam side down. Cover and keep it to rise for 1 hour or until the center has crested at least 1 inch above the lip of the pan.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degree C for about 25 to 30 minutes till the top turns golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove from the tin after 5 minutes, transfer to the rack to cool.

Sending to food events-
Bake Fest #21 conceptualized by Vardhini, hosted by Sweet 'n' Savoury

Healthy me &Healthy us conceptualized by Priya, hosted by Annarasa

  It rained heavily early morning. So heavily the Earth was not able drink up water and there were miniature lakes and pools all around. If my kids were awake, they would have made paper boats and jumped into every puddle splashing water. Morning was bright and as the Sun rose majestically from behind the hills, dark clouds of myriad shapes fleeting across the clear skies as if scurrying to reach some other destination.
While doing my breathing exercises, my attention was caught by the gleaming water drops, trapped in the branches and leaves of the Neem tree. Dappled in the sunlight, they glittered like diamonds. Some glimmered, some sparkled, some shimmered, some twinkled, some flickered and some flashed. I was mesmerized. Nature never fails to surprise us. My reverie was broken by a spotted Cuckoo that perched in the branch and all the drops fell into the lap of the Earth. Beauty is ephemeral and a source of blissful ecstasy. It cannot be replicated or recreated…. this is divine….spiritual!

Himalayan Peaches

Early monsoons and incessant rains in the hills marred the joy of summer fruits this year. Last year we had the privilege of collecting peaches from the orchard itself. Few days back we bought some peaches from the market. And they were used beautifully in the Peach Yogurt Cake a recipe that I discovered in the kitchn, which is a storehouse of recipes of lovely bakes and this one had to be tried out.
Diced peaches

Peach Yogurt Cake
Peach Yogurt Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

Peach Yogurt Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

3 large ripe but firm peaches
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups thick yogurt
1 cup sugar powdered
½ cup olive oil
3 eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried ginger powder
¼ teaspoon clove powdered
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 9 inch round cake tin.
Peel and chop the peaches.
Whisk together all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a wide mouthed vessel, mix yogurt, olive oil, sugar and vanilla and beat till smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time mixing well.
Add flour mix to wet ingredients and stir till well blended. 
Fold in chopped peaches.
Pour batter into the cake tin. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or till the top turns golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover the cake with a foil it is becomes too brown.
Transfer to the cooling rack and remove from the tin after 10 minutes.
Cinnamon Glaze
¼ cup low fat cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon.
Whisk together all the ingredients.

Pour cinnamon glaze over the cake. sprinkle toasted, slivered almonds.

Sending to the food event Bake Fest #21 conceptualized by Vardhini and hosted by Sweet 'n' Savoury
On days when I am frazzled and fatigued I fall back on some of my recipes where some prior preparation  makes things really easy and less time consuming. Overnight Cornmeal Rolls is one such handy and wholesome recipe. Last month when my sister visited us, I made these rolls and served with pasta. Light and simple, it was a good change, required very little involvement in the kitchen and we all enjoyed the meals very much.

Overnight Corn meal Rolls
2 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup coarse cornmeal
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
½ cup water to knead (quantity of water may vary)
In a large bowl whisk cornmeal, 1 ½ cup all purpose flour, salt and yeast.
Heat water, add oil and yogurt and beat lightly.
Add this to flour mix and mix well.
Add remaining ½ cup of all purpose flour and knead on a lightly floured surface.
 Knead for 6 to 8 minutes to get smooth dough.
Place in a grease bowl, cover with a greased wrap.
Refrigerate overnight. You can refrigerate from 2 to 24 hours.
Remove from refrigerator. Punch down the dough. Knead again on floured surface for 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide dough into equal size pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball.
Place balls in a greased baking tray.
Cover and leave to rise for an hour or till double in size.
Dab the top of the rolls with some water, sprinkle poppy seeds.
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till the rolls become golden brown.
Remove from the tray, cool on wire rack.

Irish soda bread has always come as a saviour to me especially on occasions when there is very less time to decide on and get working for a meal (generally dinner) or when out of sheer lethargy there is no motivation to work in the kitchen and most commonly in my case when I am too popped to make chapattis. Healthy and hearty, Soda bread is a great substitution to chapattis. With a simple veggie and soup, it makes a great meal.

I remembered reading Heidi’s version of soda bread with seeds and it remained in some corner of my mind waiting to be tried out with a little changes.
Healthy seeds

Last week when my kids were down with viral and needed constant nursing, I just couldn’t muster strength to cook in the kitchen with myself down with fever too, from infection passed on to me by my little ones. Sometimes eating is more out of routine than appetite and during such times something light and nourishing does the needful.
Before going into the oven

I made Irish Soda Bread with wheat flour and finger millet flour, added a lot of healthy seeds to it. The experiment paid well. Everyone loved the bread with seeds. We enjoyed it with sweet corn soup.

Two Grain Irish Soda Bread with a medley of Seeds 
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour (atta)
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup finger millet flour (raagi)
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons melon seeds
1 ½ cups butter milk (quantity may vary while kneading)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oil to grease the tray
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Sift whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and raagi flour. Add soda and salt. Add seeds.
Make a well in the center and add about 1 cup buttermilk and stir till the flour mixture just comes together.
Knead with hands gently till just smooth, say for a minute.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in the greased baking tray and mark it with a deep cross across the top with a sharp knife.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the top turns golden.
Cool on a wire rack. Slice when cold.

Sending to Healthy Me & Healthy Us conceptualized by Priya and hosted by Annarasa
                                                      Bake Fest # 21  hosted by  Sweet 'n' Savoury  


Come summers and if you are living in the countryside, you are likely to spot lush green bael trees profusely laden with bael fruits standing tall in sharp contrast to the otherwise parched landscape. As summer peaks and then recede by the welcome pre-monsoon showers, the bael fruits begin to ripen.  Before rains, sun-ripened baels begin to fall from the trees.

Bael is known as Bilwa and Sriphala in Sanskrit. It is known as Wood apple in English. Bael tree is one of the most useful medicinal plants of India. Its medicinal properties have been in the ancient medical treatise in Sanskrit- Charak Samhita. Bael fruit has immense health benefits. It is rich in beta-carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and Vitamin C. It is also a good source of proteins, iron, phosphorous, calcium, niacin and oxalic acid. Bael is a liver and cardiac tonic. The pulp of the ripe bael is useful in irritable bowel syndrome. Bael is regarded as the best natural laxative. It cleans and tones up the intestines.
Bael tree laden with fruits

Ripe bael fruit is eaten plain. It is also used to make jam. Most popular way of enjoying the fruit is in the form of sherbet. A glass of cold bael sherbet is so soothing and comforting when the temperatures soar and the heat becomes unbearable.

There are two bael trees in my father’s garden. In the fag end of summers, ripe bael fruits keep falling from the trees. My kids love to run and collect bael when they hear the “thump” sound of the bael falling from the tree. Last summers, I made Bael Jam (Wood apple Jam)
Bael sherbet is made regularly during summers.  
You may adjust lemon and sugar according to your taste. Sugar can be avoided if the fruits are sweet.

Bael Sherbet – Wood apple Summer Cooler


  • 1 ripe bael fruit
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice (2-4 teaspoons)
  • Water


  1. Break the Bael shell. Scoop out the pulp in a steel container.
  2. Add one glass of water and mash well with hands.
  3. Strain to remove seeds and fibrous strands.
  4. Add sugar to taste. You may add honey in place of sugar.
  5. Add water to get desired consistency. Keep it a little thick.
  6. Add lemon juice. 
  7. Refrigerate.
  8. Serve cold.

NewerStories OlderStories Home