Our Amla tree has turned five. For the last two years, it has been bearing fruit. First time there were only a few amlas in its dainty branches. Second year the number was greater. Both the times it was a pleasure to see the translucent green amlas hanging from the branches. This year, it has been a bumper crop. Every inch of the branch is studded with fruits like pearls in a necklace. No pleasure is greater than watching your plants grow. It is a spiritually uplifting experience!

Amla or the Indian Gooseberry has immense health benefits. It is known as Amalaki in Sanskrit. The fruit is a natural anti oxidant and the richest source of vitamin C. Amla also contains chromium, zinc, calcium and copper. Amalaki finds mention in our ancient texts as a fruit that rejuvenates all the systems of the body, promotes longevity, youthfulness and general well being. It has immunity boosting properties. According to Ayurveda, Amla balances all the three doshas – vata, kapha and pitta of the body.
With the first harvest of amla. I decided to make amla candy. Squidgy, chewy and full of all the goodness of amla, we have been buying it from the stores. It was a great feeling to make it at home. Here is my recipe-

Amla Candy |Indian Gooseberry Candy
1 kg Amla (I took 35 medium size fruits)
700gms sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
Wash amla. Take water in a steel container. Water should be enough to cover the fruits.
Bring the water to boil. Now add amla (add amla only when the water starts boiling). Let it stay in boiling water for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the fruits sit in hot water for another 5 minutes. Discard water. Let the fruits cool down.
With a sharp knife, trace the furrows in the fruit. Apply little  pressure and separate the slices from the stone.
Discard stones. Make sure the amla slices are of even size.
Transfer the slices to a steel or ceramic container. Add sugar. Place a lid to cover the container.
Cover and keep it for 3 days.
Check next day. Amla slices will leave water. Stir with a dry spoon. First the amla slices will float in the syrup then by third day, the pieces will sink to the bottom of the container. Use a colander to separate the slices from the syrup. Spread the slices on a steel plate and dry them in the Sun for two days. The pieces should be a little hard and dry on the surface but tender from inside.
Roll the dried slices in half cup powdered sugar.
Store in a dry and airtight container.

Amla Nectar|Indian Gooseberry Nectar
 Amla nectar makes a healthy drink. After removing the slices from the syrup, pass the syrup through a strainer. Transfer it to a steel wok. Bring it to a rolling boil. Lower the flame and let it boil till the colour changes to golden and it attains honey like consistency.
Let it cool. Fill it in sterilized bottle.
To sterilize the bottle, Place the washed and dried bottle with the lid in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottle and their lid from the oven and let the bottle cool. Pour amla nectar into bottles and secure the lid tightly.

 Add a tablespoon of amla nectar to a glass of lukewarm water and have it in the morning (adjust the quantity of nectar according to taste). It can also be had with cold water during summers. It is a tasty health drink.

Linking to Vegan Thursdays

Last month I wrote an article on the “Health benefits of Flax seeds” for the health column of a newspaper. The goodness of flax seeds just got reiterated.
 My grandmother roasted them and had them every day. My father grinds them fresh and adds them to his food. We grew flax seed plants last year and harvested half a bottle of these healthy seeds from the tiny round pods.

I use flax seeds regularly in my breads and cookies. Some of these recipes can be found here.

Having written about the immense health benefits of Flax seeds, it was natural to have an urge to use them in my bakes. I used them in a chocolate cake. I tweaked the recipe and added ¾ cup whole wheat flour. The cake was chocolaty, moist and very delicious. Children loved it. It was a great feeling to have used half a cup of flax meal in cake. It was definitely Omega-3 of all the chocolate cakes!

Flaxseed and Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake (Diary free)
Recipe source – King Arthur Flour
This is how I made Flax seed and Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup cocoa powder (I used Cadbury’s)
¾ cup olive oil
1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup flax meal (Grind the flax seeds finely and measure ½ cup)
4 eggs
1 ½ cups water
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line, grease and dust an 8 inch round cake tin.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, coffee powder and flax meal.
Pass the cocoa powder through a strainer to remove lumps. Add to the flour mix.
In a bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add oil and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
Add dry ingredients to wet in three shifts adding water each time to get a lump free and smooth batter.
Pour the batter in the cake tin, bake for 35 -40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and remove from the tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
Slice when cold.

Sweet Potatoes have never been a popular food in our home. I remember my grandmother having them during fasts. She would roast them and enjoy with black salt and a generous squeeze of lemons. Sometime back, I was reading about health benefits of the vegetables that grow under the ground. It was then that I realized how much we were missing out on the health benefits of sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes also commonly known as yams are the nutritional powerhouses that add several important components to the diet. Sweet potatoes have high fiber content. They are rich in Vitamin E and contain high amounts of Potassium. This makes them good for heart. Sweet potatoes are rich in Beta-carotene, which is an important antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are rich in Manganese, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

After garnering so much information about Sweet potatoes, the vegetable vendor was requested to deliver the fresh lot to us and he gleefully did the same day. I wanted to incorporate them in baking so that the kids would eat without fuss. Last year I made Sweet potato pudding  which is very easy and quick to make.
This time it was Sweet Potato Bread- soft, spicy and delicious!

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread
Recipe source: Betty Crocker
This is how I made Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread-
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed sweet potato (boil, cool and mash well with a fork)
½ cup olive oil
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins
½ teaspoon (scant) salt
Pre heat the oven to 180 Degrees C.
Grease and line one 8 x 4 inches loaf tin.
Whisk flours with baking powder, salt and spices.
In a bowl, beat eggs slightly; add oil, milk and sugar. Add mashed sweet potatoes and blend well.
Add flour mix and stir till well combined. Fold in walnuts and raisins.
Pour into the baking tin. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and remove from the tin after 10 minutes.
Cool in the rack and store in an airtight container. Slice next day.

It is the fag end of autumn here. Trees and bushes are laden with flowers. Air is nippy and nights are cold. It feels nice and light to have a few slices of bread and hot soup for dinner.

A glimpse of Autumn in garden
 We decided on baking a whole wheat bread with honey. Honey gives mild sweetness and a great flavour that is subtle . The bread requires a good amount of kneading. One can use a bread machine, but, I  knead the dough with my hands, an activity I find very relaxing. After a rigorous kneading session, I realized that the dough was a little hard (perhaps due to honey). I added some more water and kneaded again. It took about 10 minutes for the dough to reach the desired softness and elasticity.

The bread needs only one rise. It has a lovely flavour of honey and hence, the name 100% Whole Wheat and Honey Bread.

It requires a lot of muscle power to knead the dough but is worth giving a try. 

The slices are soft and mildly sweet. Enjoy with a generous lashing of butter and honey or with peanut butter. 

100% Whole Wheat (Atta)  and Honey Bread


  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • ½ cup of warm water
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon  oil (any neutral oil will do)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Add instant yeast to warm water, and cover for 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk whole-wheat flour and salt. Add oil, and mix well.
  3. Add honey and milk to the water-yeast mixture.
  4. Knead the dough with the above ingredients. While kneading the dough, add liquids gradually kneading well after addition. The dough will feel very hard initially, keep kneading for 10 minutes till it becomes smooth and supple. (You might require some more water than the quantity specified)
  5. Grease one 8  x 4    inches loaf tin.
  6. Roll the dough into a rectangle no wider than the loaf tin you are using.
  7. 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 for 1 hour or till the loaf becomes double its size.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees for 25-30 minutes or till the bread becomes brown and the bottom of the tin sounds hollow when tapped.
  9. Cover with a foil if the top is browning too fast.
  10. Remove from the oven and remove from the tin after 10 minutes.
  11. Cool and slice it the next day.


Use flour with a fine grind. I used Aashirwad Select
Add liquids gradually. you may have to add a tablespoon or two of extra warm water.
Knead well. Knead for about 7 to 8 minutes. Rest, and knead again for 3 to 4 minutes.

A trip to the villages in the periphery of our town to stock up veggies is always enriching and enchanting, surprising with vistas that seem to change colour and mood with season. Last week a trip to a small village turned out to be a rewarding nature trail with great scenery, massive anthills, some good bird watching, and a picnic in the fields in the warmth of the autumn Sun, far from the madding crowd, it was soothing and healing.

An anthill 
She was perched on a fragile branch eating berries 
A pair of Grey Hornbills perched on a tree, quite merging with the branches after leaf fall

We spotted some big pumpkins huddled together, soaking in the autumn Sun, on the roof of a house. The lady informed that the pumpkins were for winters and politely declined to give us or sell them to us as requested by us. While the pictures of the humble fruit were being clicked, she seemed to get carried away by our persuasion or love for the pumpkin and she agreed to part with one, much to our relief and happiness.

Back home, a Pumpkin Raisin Bread was waiting to happen ..............

Pumpkin Raisin Bread
Recipe source- Joy of baking 
This is how I made Pumpkin Raisin Bread
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar (powdered)
½ cup butter (1 stick)
½ cup raisins
2 eggs
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon dry ginger powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
To prepare pumpkin puree, peel the pumpkin pieces. Pressure cook with 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. Turn off the heat after two whistles. Drain off excess water. Mash the pieces with a fork when cold. I did not strain the puree.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  Grease and line one 8 x 4.5 inch loaf tin.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Add orange zest.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add vanilla extract, pumpkin puree and orange juice. Mix well.
Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Fold in raisins.
Pour the batter in the loaf tin, sprinkle pumpkin seeds and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and remove from the loaf tin after 10 minutes. Place on the wire rack.
Slice next day, it will become moist and the flavours will develop fully.

Twelve Loaves Logo

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party. It was created by Lora from Cake Duchess and runs so smoothly thanks to the help of the lovely Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes and Renee from Magnolia Days.

When age knocks at our door, we ignore it, forcing ourselves to believe that we never heard it. As time moves ahead and years pass by, age reiterates it’s ever rising graph which none can control or stop.
Lack of a help at home, highly energetic kids and festive commitments made me realize that my waning energy levels were just not able to keep pace with the ever soaring spirits.
A little pain in the joints sucked away all the enthusiasm, resulting in, or, in fact forcing to truncate the list of “must do” jobs and prioritizing the important chores. Yes, no elaborate sweet and candies this festive season. There is beauty (and convenience) in simplicity.
This instance was a wakeup call for me. I remembered my granny consuming a lot of sesame seeds during winters to ward off joint pain. In fact, fresh harvest of sesame arrives in the stores around this time. People in the Himalayan region incorporate sesame in their diet in a number of ways. There is a tradition of making sweets using sesame in the festivals that fall in winters.  Traditional food theories are so scientific and so correct, catering to  the requirements of the body in a particular season.

Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), healthy protein and fiber. Half a cup of sesame seeds with hull contains three times more calcium than half a cup of whole milk. Calcium builds bones and keeps bones and teeth in good health. Zinc in sesame seeds help in maintaining bone mineral density, in healing of wounds and in strengthening of the immune system. Phosphorous and magnesium are also good for the bones and teeth. These minerals enhance bone density, prevent osteoporosis and regulate the body metabolism.  Sesame seeds are also a very good source of copper. Copper provides relief in pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

My grandmother used to make sesame crackers in winters.
The whole wheat sesame crackers that I made are a baked avatar of my grandmother’s fried version.
Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers (Vegan)
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour (atta)
½ cup white sesame seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water ( 1 or 2 tablespoons more if the dough is too dry)
Pre heat the oven at 180 degrees C.
Roast sesame seeds in a thick bottomed wok till they begin to change colour.
Turn off the heat and transfer them to a plate to cool.
Mix together whole wheat flour, salt and olive oil. Add sesame seeds.
Add sugar to warm water and mix till sugar dissolves.
Add water to flour mix and knead dough. The dough should be a little stiff but pliable. (You may require a little more water than the quantity specified)
Divide the dough into two equal parts.
Roll out a rectangle with a rolling pin
Cut into small equal size squares.
Bake in a pre heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or till the crackers turn golden.
Store in an airtight container.

Linking to Vegan Thursdays
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