It is late spring and nature is celebrating the festival of colours.

Rhododendrons are blooming in the hills.

Roadside bushes are full of flowers.

A group of Cosmos lights up the barren patches in the fields

Hibiscus too  paints the landscape red.

Festival of Holi is round the corner and some Gujiyas are to be prepared. This time we plan to give a twist to the traditional recipe.

 We plan to make chocolate Gujiyas and then dip them in Ganache.
To make them low fat, the Gujiyas are baked. Gujiyas are delicious and guilt free.

Baked Chocolate Gujiya


2 cups all-purpose flour (240 ml cup)
4 tablespoons ghee + some for brushing
¼ teaspoon salt
A pinch baking powder
250 grams khoya / mawa (dried milk)
½ + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup chopped raw pistachios
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Flour paste
Mix 1 tablespoon of all- purpose flour in 1 tablespoon of water to form a thick paste.
100 Gms dark chocolate
4 tablespoons low fat cream
Whisk together all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder. Rub in ghee. Add cold water and knead soft dough. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 15 minutes.
Take khoya in a thick bottom steel wok. Roast on low flame stirring continuously till it becomes lump free and begins to turn pink. Let it cool.
Add sugar and desiccated coconut. Mix well. Add cocoa powder. Mix well. Add nuts.
Preheat oven to 210 degrees C.
To make gujiyas, take small balls of dough and roll out small thin chapattis. Do not dust with flour.  Cut it into a round with a bowl. This gives uniformly sized gujiyas. Put 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of filling and apply the flour paste on half part of the rolled dough.  Fold one side of the round over the other and seal the edges. Cut the edges with a fluted gujiya cutter or twist the edges to seal.
Arrange them on the baking tray. Brush the top with some ghee. Bake till the top turns golden. It will take about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn and bake the other side. Remove from the baking dish and spread on the wire rack to cool.
To prepare ganache, take chocolate and cream in a very thick bottom vessel. Gently simmer over low heat stirring constantly till the chocolate melts. Stir briskly. Let it cool. Dip half gujiya in ganache and sprinkle some finely chopped pistachios.

It is early morning and the room resounds with the bird songs. Automatically, and with great precision my hand reaches the bedside table and dismisses the alarm. Post alarm, the sleep is always the sweetest, sound, deep and very soothing.  The alarm goes again. It is a Sunday, but it doesn’t irk. We have to get going early for a day outing that has been planned.
In no time, the kids are busy packing food, water, fruits and other paraphernalia for the trip. We are going to a nearby village and since the days are hot, we decided on an early morning trip till the time the Sun is tolerable.

The countryside is beautiful. As we walk on a muddy track, a baby monkey looks at us curiously and hides in the branches. 

A group of buffaloes and some cows are chewing cud in unison and letting out “moos” every now and then. Kids click their tongue to get their attention but they pay no heed.

Some chicks and hens are foraging in the fields. Our kids rush towards them and in no time, they are comfortable with each other. Kids should be made to interact with animals. It makes them humane, loving and sensitive.

Back home, we are expecting some guests for tea. A Marmalade cake has been prepared and waits to be dressed. Marmalade and butter are whisked and warmed. The shiny glaze is poured over the cake. Soon, over tea and animated conversation, the cake is relished by all.

Misty winter evenings and a hot cuppa with a slice of very orangy and moist Marmalade cake make the day!

Classic British Marmalade cake


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (for a lighter crumb) or 1 1/4 cup wholewheat cup 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter
  • ¾ cup unrefined  sugar
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped candied orange and lemon peel or
  • 2 teaspoon grated lime zest and ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/3 cup marmalade
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (5 tablespoons if using wholewheat flour)


  • ½ tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup marmalade


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the first three ingredients.
  3. In a deep bowl, beat butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add candied peels or zest. Beat. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well till the mixture becomes uniform. Now add marmalade and orange juice.
  4. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients till well combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Level the top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or till the cake shrinks from the sides and turns golden. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool in the rack.
  7. For the glaze, take marmalade in a thick bottom vessel and melt over low heat. Add butter and whisk until smooth. Pour warm glaze over the cake and spread evenly. Slice and serve when cold.

We try our best not to miss the early morning heaven. One such morning, while sipping strong ginger tea in our very large mugs, we watched a dove couple chasing each other from branch to branch and tree to tree. The female alighted on the ground and started pecking  while the male puffed up its body and went round and round dancing for its partner while cooing continuously. His spontaneity and enthusiasm was a pleasure to watch.

  A group of Oriental White eye settled on the profusely flowering Bignonia Venusta vine, flitting from bunch to bunch for nectar.

This is the bonus of living in the countryside.

We refilled our mugs, savouring early morning cool, oxygen rich breeze made richer by bird songs that seem to be coming from all around in myriad tones and pitches, sonorous to the ears and soothing to senses.

Whoosh went the pressure cooker whistle informing that the carrots were done. Carrots are being steamed for making Cezerye.

Cezerye is a delicious melt in the mouth Turkish dessert. It is difficult to believe that it is absolutely fat-free and yet so delectable. 

The name is derived from the word "cezer", which means "carrot" in Arabic. It is healthy, light and delicious sweet.



  • 6-7 medium size carrots
  • 1 ¼ to ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ¼ cup pistachios, chopped


  1. Peel and wash carrots. Cut them into medium size pieces. Pressure cook.
  2. Drain water and puree the carrots.
  3. Transfer pureed carrots into a heavy bottom steel wok. Add sugar.
  4. Cook on medium flame, stirring continuously till most of the water evaporates and mixture becomes thick and dry. It needs continuous stirring or else it will start burning at the bottom as it thickens.
  5. Add lemon juice, vanilla essence and powdered cinnamon.
  6. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes stirring continuously.
  7. Add 1 cup desiccated coconut and chopped pistachios. Stir well. Turn off the heat.
  8. Let mixture cool. When it is warm and easy to handle, make walnut size balls.
  9. Roll in ¼ cup coconut. Keep in refrigerator.

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