“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

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Coconut Laddu / Coconut Balls with Dry fruits, Nuts and Seeds (Vegan)


Janmashtami was celebrated with great élan in our part of the world. Janamashtami marks the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna epitomizes unconditional love. Krishna is absolute. To understand Krishna is to understand the reality of life. His teachings tell us to accept all contradictions and act accordingly and not complain because; no one has a right to the end result. He tells us to live without ego. To be egoless is to be nothing- this is absolute reality, this is Krishna.
This Janamashtami, we made Coconut laddus to offer to Lord Krishna. I added a handful of all the dry fruits and nuts and seeds that I could find at home. These laddus turned out to be chewy and coconuty and were delicious.  We enjoyed the prasad very much.

Here goes the recipe-
Coconut Laddu / Coconut balls with dry fruits, nuts and seeds (Vegan)
Ingredients
100 gms (about 1 ½ cup) desiccated coconut
¾ cup sugar
½ cup water
15 almonds chopped
15 cashew nuts chopped
10 pistachios chopped
5 figs chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
4 cardamoms
Method
In a deep bowl mix together desiccated coconut, chopped nuts, raisins, figs and seeds. Peel the cardamoms, powder the seeds and add to the mixture.
Take sugar and water in a heavy bottomed steel wok. Turn on the heat. Let the syrup simmer till it becomes thick and just reaches one string consistency. Turn off the heat.
Add coconut mixture and stir well so that the syrup and dry ingredients are mixed well.
Let it rest till it cool downs a bit and it is comfortable to make laddus.
Take about two tablespoons of this mixture and press between palms evenly to get a walnut sized laddu. Repeat till the mixture is over.
My notes- It is very important to get the right proportion of sugar and mixture. After mixing dry fruits, nuts and seeds to desiccated coconut, measure with a cup. Now the quantity of sugar will be exactly half of this measure (or a little less if you don’t want very sweet laddus)
It is very important to get the right consistency of syrup. Laddus will not bind well if the syrup is not of one string consistency. If the syrup is of two string consistency, the mixture will harden even before you begin to make laddus. However, you can add water and boil the syrup again to get the desired consistency.

Sending to Vegan Thursdays conceptualized by Priya

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Cheesy Ragi Fingers / Cheesy Fingermillet Crispies


Crisp, cheesy, nutty, earthy and addictive……this is how I would describe the batch of Ragi cheese fingers that were made yesterday.
My daughter had been requesting me to bake cheese lings since quite sometime. We went to the store and bought a pack of cheese cubes especially for this purpose. But somehow cheese lings were never baked. Everyday after coming back from school she would ask, “Have you baked my cheese lings?” On hearing a negative answer, she would feign anger show her resentment, and then forget after sometime. This happened for many days and then she stopped asking about cheese lings.  
Yesterday, I could no longer bear the pangs of guilt from breaking my promise and got down to making cheese lings. A surprise awaited for me …… there were only three cheese cubes left in the box. On being asked, both, the senior and the junior clearly denied eating any cheese. The junior has now learnt to team up with the senior for the goodies he gets in the process.
With only three cubes of cheese that were left, the crispies were made…

Cheesy Ragi fingers / Cheesy finger millet crispies
Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup ragi / finger millet flour
3 cheese cubes grated (each cube weighs roughly 18-20 Gms)
25 Gms butter (divide a stick of butter into four, use one part)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian spice mix
½ cup water
Method
In a plate, whisk together whole wheat flour, Raagi flour, salt and Italian spice mix.
Add butter and grated cheese. Mix well.
Add water slowly and smooth knead dough.
Cover the dough and let it rest for half an hour.
Knead again for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 175 degrees.
Take a portion of the dough roughly about the size of a golf ball and roll out a thin chapatti.
With a sharp knife cut out cheese lings. Arrange on the baking tray. Bake for exactly 15 minutes. Transfer the baked cheese lings to another plate to cool.
Repeat till the dough is over.
Store baked cheese lings in an airtight container.




Monday, 19 August 2013

Simple Corn Bread



Corn season is in its peak here. Corn that grows in the hills is milky, sweet and soft. Perhaps it is the salubrious climate of the hills that infuses sweetness and tenderness in the corn which is not found in its counterpart that grows in the plains.
During monsoons, the villagers in the hills erect makeshift sheds on the roads. They get freshly plucked corns from their fields and roast it in smouldering logs. Roasted corn hisses as it is smeared with lemon and salt. There is a variety of chutneys to choose from. Garlic coriander, lemon masala or bhanga chutney made from bhanga seeds, which is a hill produce. People enjoy the milky corn amidst natural beauty of the hills which is at its best during monsoons.
This weekend, after a long time we went to the hills to have corn. We had not one or two but four to five each as we planned to have corn for lunch. It was filling and satiating.

Back home, made simple corn bread from the last bit of cornmeal left. Simple bread, ready in no time and  no great prior preparations needed. And yes, as Flyod Mann says, it tastes heaven with butter and honey.
Simple Corn Bread
Ingredients
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk
¼ cup olive oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Method
Pre heat the oven to 200 degree C. Line and grease a loaf tin (8 x 3 ½ inches).
In a wide mouthed bowl, mix sugar, milk and oil.
Beat egg lightly and add to the mixture.
Whisk together cornmeal, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
Pour the batter in the loaf tin, bake for 35-40 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the loaf tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool in the rack.
Wrap this bread and keep in a container. Refrigerate. Slice next day.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Chocolate Yogurt Cake (Whole wheat, Egg less and Butter free)


 Chocolaty, dense, earthy, and absolutely guilt free is how the yogurt whole wheat chocolate cake turned out to be. This cake was baked at the behest of my daughter on Independence Day. Celebrations in our home are synonymous with cakes.  To enjoy the cake with minimal guilt, I added healthy ingredients and omitted butter altogether. Chocolate sauce with dark chocolate shavings perked up the appearance and added greatly to the taste.


India celebrated 67 years of freedom. There were articles on Independence in every magazine and newspaper. An article by Osho appealed to me the most. It said, Freedom is the most important ingredient. All that is valuable becomes possible only in the climate of freedom. Love also grows only in the soil of freedom. All great values of life grow in the climate of freedom; hence freedom is the  most fundamental value and also the highest pinnacle. This freedom…..is spiritual, a state of consciousness unhindered by any desire, unchained to any desire, unimprisoned by any greed!
Yes, freedom is life!
Chocolate shavings

Coming back to the recipe, with whole wheat flour and no eggs, the cake is very dense and has a rich taste. However, if you wish to get a fluffier crumb, use same quantity of all purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour.

Here goes the recipe-
CHOCOLATE YOGURT CAKE (Whole Wheat, Egg less and Butter free)
Ingredients (Cake)
1 cup whole wheat flour (loosely filled)
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup thick yogurt
½ cup milk
½ cup boiling water (a tablespoon more if using whole wheat flour)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
½ teaspoon salt
Method
Pre heat the oven to 175 degrees C.
Grease, dust and line an 8 inch round cake tin.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a wide mouthed bowl, mix together yogurt, sugar, oil and milk. Add vanilla essence.
Mix dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Add boiling water slowly. Mix well so that the batter is smooth and homogenous.
The batter is quite thin.
Pour in the tin. Bake for 40 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove and transfer to the rack.
Ingredients (Chocolate Sauce)
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Also….
One bar of dark chocolate
Method                                                                                                             
Mix together milk, sugar and cocoa powder to a smooth lump free mixture.
Transfer the mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat till it starts boiling.
Reduce the heat and cook till it thickens. Stir constantly.
When it reaches the sauce like consistency, turn off the heat. Add butter.
Add vanilla essence. Leave to cool.

Pour cold chocolate sauce over the cake. Keep the bar of dark chocolate outside refrigerator. With the help of a vegetable peeler, peel out chocolate curls. Keep in the refrigerator for 15 minutes till the shavings harden. Sprinkle on the cake.





Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Mango Sandesh



Mango is the favourite of fruit of the family. Ever since the first lot arrives in the market in the early summers to almost the end of monsoons, or to say, as long as the fruit stays in the market, it is bought religiously and enjoyed fervently. However, of late, because of the scare of the carbide ripened mangoes, we have stopped buying the fruit from the market. We have discovered some farms in the outskirts. Now, our fruit is lifted from these farms while it is being plucked, thus ensuring that fresh produce presumably chemical free and definitely carbide free lands up on our plate, and, at the same time reducing carbon footprint.
Mangoes in the farm

Last month, there was a lovely recipe posted by a blogger friend from Kolkatta that swept me off my feet. Amrita posted the recipe of Mango Sandesh in her blog Sweet 'n' Savoury. She used mango pulp in the famous Bengali sweet Sandesh. It was a beautiful fusion of two of our favourite things. I made mango sandesh twice and we loved it immensely.

Second round of Mango Sandesh

This is how I made Mango Sandesh.
Mango Sandesh
Ingredients
1 liter full cream milk
½ cup curd (1 used the standard 240 ml cup)
¾ cup mango pulp (peel, chop, puree the mango and strain the pulp)
3 tablespoons sugar
Pistachios chopped (for garnishing)
Method
Boil the milk. Reduce the heat.
Add curd and stir till the milk curdles and green whey separates.
Turn off the heat after two minutes.
Put the curdled milk in the muslin cloth and squeeze out excess water. Hang the muslin bag for fifteen minutes. The cottage cheese is ready for use.
Transfer cottage cheese to a plate. Mash it well. Knead it with the heel of your palm till it becomes smooth.
Take mango pulp in a thick bottomed steel wok. Add sugar. When sugar dissolves, add mashed cottage cheese. Mix well.
Cook on low flame stirring continuously.
Mixture starts turning thick. After about 10 to 15 minutes, it begins to move  like a big lump when stirred. Turn off the heat.
Let the mixture cool. 
When it is comfortable enough to handle, shape into small balls, roughly the size of a walnut. Flatten it between palms.
Garnish with chopped pistachios.

 Chocolate Sandesh ....chocolaty and delicious!







Sunday, 11 August 2013

Cornstalk Bread (Fat less and Vegan)




Twist and break a corn from the stalk, dip it in hot soup or slice it, slather butter and enjoy it plain or relish the bread with home made jam. This is how the cornstalk bread was enjoyed when I made this sweet yeasty bread last week.
Cathy has been a great guide in helping me understand the right technique of scoring breads. There are some great bread recipes in her site. I fell in love with the cornstalk bread when I saw its unusual shape and since I had a lot of cornmeal at home, I got down making this bread immediately partly due to excitement of shaping it and partly excited to know kids’ reaction when they would see a cornstalk shaped bread on the table. The bread resembles a cornstalk, where each roll or “ear of corn” is twisted and separated from the stalk and eaten.

Cathy’s cornbread is crusty while I preferred soft bread. I also increased sweetness as we love our breads a tad sweet. The outcome was sweet yeasty bread.

Before rising

After rising

Here goes the recipe the way I made it -
CORNSTALK BREAD
Ingredients
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup +2 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons  sugar (original recipe asks for 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon salt (original recipe asks for 1 ½ teaspoon)
1 ¼ cups warm water (quantity of water my vary depending on need)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil to grease the bowl and baking tray.
Method
Dissolve sugar in ¼ cup warm water and add yeast. Cover. Let it rest for 15 minutes. It will turn frothy. (I do this with instant yeast to ensure that it is alive and working fine)
In the meantime, whisk together all purpose flour, ½ cup cornmeal and salt.
Add sugar water mix to flour mixture and knead dough.
Keep another one cup of warm water handy and add only as much required to get soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes till the dough is smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Deflate the dough and knead again for 6 to 8 minutes.
Divide the dough into two parts.
Roll out the first part and then fold to get a long roll. Flatten it to get a rectangle about 12 inches long.
Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornmeal in the greased baking tray. Place the dough in the center. Make 3 inch long diagonal cuts on either sides or alternating sides about 1 ½ inches apart using a sharp knife or scissors. End of the cuts should not touch, thus maintaining a center stalk.
Gently pull apart cuts to stretch the dough and shape the “ears”.
Repeat the same with the other part of the dough.
Bake in the pre heated oven at 210 degrees C for 20-25 minutes till the bread turns golden.
Remove from the oven after 5 minutes, apply some olive oil on the bread, transfer to the rack to cool.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Whole Wheat Flaxseed Bread (Vegan)




“I like to call Omega-3s anti-ageing fats,” says Forberg, an expert in anti-ageing nutrition. “Getting the recommended amount can help lower cholesterol, keep cells functioning properly and combat inflammation, which reduces risk of some deadly diseases, stroke and heart attack. A daily serving of flax seeds is the best source of Omega -3s and helps keeping ageing brains healthy”, says the expert.
I kept the book on good nutrition back in the shelf, and felt quite dismayed for not being able to use flaxseeds on regular basis.
“I do not want to take chapatti to school tomorrow. I want a change”, announced my daughter coming back from school. “How about bread butter and jam?”, asked my daughter.  Well, there is nothing wrong in home made bread. Then I though why not add flaxseeds to the bread and make it healthy. Sometimes it by mere co-incidence that things work to our advantage. I was excited at the though of baking whole wheat flaxseed bread from my favourite site The Fresh Loaf. While my daughter was happy with the bread, I was happier for the 1/3 cup flaxseeds that went into it!

Here goes the recipe with little changes from the original one-
Whole Wheat Flaxseed Bread
Ingredients
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup flaxseeds
2/3 cup water (quantity of water can vary depending on requirement)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
Method
Whisk together all purpose flour, wheat flour and salt.
Add oil and mix well.
Add yeast and flaxseeds.
Add sugar to water and heat till lukewarm.
Add this to flour mix and knead for 6 to 8 min to get smooth soft dough.
Cover the dough and leave for 15 minutes.
Degas the dough and knead for another five minutes.
Shape in to a spindle shaped loaf, or a regular loaf. Place it in a greased baking tray and cover with a damp towel or greased cling film. Leave it to rise for 1 ½ hours. Scour the loaf with a sharp knife.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees C for 25 minutes or till when browned.
Remove from oven after 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack to cool.

Sending to the food event Vegan Thursdays  and Yeastspotting
                                                                 



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