The much-awaited snowfall happened in our hills last week. With the snow also came happiness that was expressed in the loud chatter, squeals of children running around and gathering the cottony snowflakes, happy farmers anticipating a good crop and recharge of the springs that are a lifeline in the hills. Children seem to enjoy every weather to the fullest. Some got down to making a snowman while some made balls and rolled it down the slope. Children are gifted to be happy in every circumstance.

The snow-draped our hills in white. The trees looked glassy, and a white carpet spread everywhere. It looked like a scene from a fairytale.

Last week we baked eggless cupcakes with the locally sourced water milled Finger millet flour (ragi) called madua locally. Ragi is a wonder grain. It is gluten-free, easily digestible, a powerhouse of protein. It is rich in calcium and vitamin D. Ragi is also rich in antioxidants. It is rich in fiber and is packed with good carbs.

We made one batch of Eggless Ragi chocolate cupcakes with vanilla flavour. We drizzled chocolate sauce before serving. Kids loved this combination.  

In the second batch, we added cinnamon. We served these with cinnamon sugar glaze. We loved them with tea.

Finger Millet (Ragi) Chocolate Cupcakes – Eggless, Wholegrain, and Lowfat


  • 1/3 cup finger millet flour (Ragi flour)
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup thick yogurt
  • ¾ cup unrefined cane sugar / bura sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk + 2 teaspoons (if the batter feels dry or thick)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil/coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract / 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ¼ cup raw pistachios (slivered)

Cinnamon sugar glaze

Mix together ¼ cup icing sugar, 1-2 teaspoons milk and 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon. Mix till you get a smooth and thick glaze.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare one 12 cavity muffin tray. Or, arrange 12 silicone moulds on a baking tray.
  2. Whisk together first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Pass the dry ingredients through a strainer.
  3. In another bowl, beat yogurt till smooth. Add sugar and mix well.
  4. Add warm milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Mix well. You may use a hand blender to mix.
  5. Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Do not over mix.
  6. Pour batter into the cupcake moulds/muffin tray filling up the only ¾ of the cavity.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool on a tray.
  9. Serve plain or serve with cinnamon sugar glaze or with chocolate sauce. Sprinkle slivered pistachios and serve.

Kaju Khajoor Laddu makes a great festive sweet. It is a tradition to prepare sweets at home on Diwali and other festivals. We prepare these laddus and love them. It is a guilt-free sweet. There is no sugar in these Laddu. These are sweetened with dates. Dates are rich in several vitamins and minerals. Dates also contain calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium. Adding dates to your sweets is a good way of incorporating them into your diet.
Healthy sweets make the festivities happier.

Kaju Khajoor Laddu | Cashew Date Laddu (Sugar-free)


  • ¼  cup cashews (lightly roasted)
  • 1 cup dates 
  • 1 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil (vegan version)


  1. Wash dates in hot water. Remove seeds. Chop them into small pieces.
  2. Pulse cashews in the grinder to get a fine powder. To not pulse for too long. It will become buttery.
  3. Take dates in a non-stick pan or a thick bottom steel wok. 
  4. Add ghee and cook dates on low flame. 
  5. The dates will turn soft. Mash them with a ladle. 
  6. Cook this mixture till it changes colour slightly and collects in the center as a ball.
  7. Turn off the heat and add powdered cashews.
  8. Mix well. Leave to cool for 5-6 minutes.
  9. When the mixture is warm enough to handle, make small balls.
  10. Refrigerate in an airtight container

Energy balls or laddu are our latest fad. We love them in the healthy avatars – sans ghee, butter or refined sugar, It is really gratifying to satiate sweet cravings with something healthy and energy balls/laddu fit the bill. Who would not love the healthy sweets?  
We made Cashew and date snack balls recently. 

Cashews are super nuts that belong to the family Anacardiaceae. This is the same family that includes Mango and Pistachios. Cashews are rich in proteins and minerals including copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorous and potassium. Cashews are also rich in Vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6. Cashews are highly nutritious and should be added to the diet.
The combination of cashews and dates is heavenly and healthy. You may add half a teaspoon of cardamom powder if you wish. But plain version also tastes good.

Cashew Date Energy Balls | Cashew Date Snack Balls (Vegan)


  • ½ cup cashews
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dates
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1teaspoon coconut oil/ghee (1 teaspoon more if the mixture is not binding)


  1. Toast cashews until fragrant and slightly golden in colour. Set aside to cool.
  2. You can also toast the cashews in your oven. Set temperature to 150 degrees C and set the timer for 10 minutes.
  3. In a thick bottom wok, toast oats till mildly fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  4. Powder cashews.
  5. Powder oats.
  6. Wash dates. Chop them into small pieces.
  7. Transfer the dates to a wok. Add coconut oil. Cook on low flame. Soon the dates will begin to soften. Mash the dates with the back of the ladle.
  8. Add cashew powder. Add oats powder. Mix well. Turn off the heat.
  9. When the mixture is warm enough to handle, mix with your hands and mash to get a mixture of dough like consistency.
  10. Make walnut size laddu.
  11. Store cold laddu in an airtight container.

Winter is at its peak here. The Sun and the fog seem to be vying with each other to show their strength to us. For the last few days, a thick blanket of fog has hugged us tight.  The sonorous tinkle of drops falling from the leaves is the only sound audible in the otherwise silent morning. But all the days are not same. Yesterday, The Sun won the tussle and we had a sunny day. The Sun was mild and air chilly, but everything looked so positive and peppy. The warmth of the Sun infused life and vigour and made our world look bright and beautiful.

Our bird bath started getting visitors and a female Koel had water to her fill.

 Later, a male Koel descended from the Mango tree and remained in the birdbath for some time.

Earlier in the morning, a papaya that was sliced for the breakfast was found slightly unripe, It was put out on a branch for birds. A Red Vent Bulbul was the first one to make this delicious discovery.

Somewhere around late afternoon, the Sun started losing strength and the fog descended.  We headed indoors and started working on our Pretzels. Pretzels are the theme for this month’s  baking of our group Bead Bakers. I had never baked Pretzels before and I thoroughly enjoyed the newness of the process. Shaping the pretzels was enjoyable. By late evening, very shiny, soft and chewy and fantastically brown pretzels came out of the oven. We had an early dinner and enjoyed the gorgeous Pretzels with cream cheese dip and pea soup.

Pretzels are a yeast bread. Pretzels are boiled in soda water and then baked. It is this “soda bath” that gives Pretzels a beautiful golden brown colour, a unique taste, and a chewy texture.

Buttery Pretzels


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water (you will require more water in winter and less in summer. Our goal is to get a very soft dough)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar for dough(optional)


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • Coarse salt to sprinkle on baked pretzels
  • 3 tablespoons butter (vegans may avoid butter)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk all-purpose flour, salt and 1 teaspoon sugar (if you prefer your pretzels slightly sweet)
  2. In a measuring glass or a deep bowl, take water and sugar. Stir till sugar dissolves. Add yeast. Stir. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  3. Add water to flour mix and knead. Knead for 6-8 minutes till you get a very soft, elastic and very smooth dough.
  4. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Turn around once so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour or until double.
  5. Take water in a deep pan. Add baking soda. Stir. Bring the water to a boil.
  6. Transfer dough to the counter dusted with flour. Roll out the dough and cut it into 8 equal pieces. You may weigh the dough and then divide into pieces weighing the same size.
  7. Line the baking sheet with a foil or a parchment paper. Grease the surface.
  8. To shape the pretzels, work on one piece at a time. Cover the rest with a kitchen towel. Roll the piece into a 28 -30 inches long rope.  Now shape it into a U with the two ends pointing away from you. Take the two edges and twist around each other a little away from the ends. First left over right, then right over left.  
  9. Lightly moisten the two ends with water and then flip it towards the bottom of the “U” pressing the ends down. This is the classic pretzel shape.
  10. Prepare pretzels one by one and place them on the baking sheet and cover with a kitchen cloth.
  11. Now with the help of a slotted spoon, lift pretzels and gently put them in boiling water two at a time. Boil pretzels for 30 seconds. Turn over and boil for additional 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and place the pretzels back on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
  12. Sprinkle some salt on the pretzels. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees C for 8-10 minutes for until they are golden brown.
  13. Remove from the oven. Brush generously with melted butter.
  14. Serve warm or reheat before serving.

Linking to BreadBakers.

 #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month we are baking Pretzels. Thanks so much to our host   Stacy of Food Lust People Love for this theme. Check out the other Pretzels recipes

·         Authentic German Pretzels from Sara's Tasty Buds
·         Ballpark Pretzels from Karen's Kitchen Stories
·         Beer Pretzels from Passion Kneaded
·         Buttery Pretzels from Ambrosia
·         Cheddar Garlic Soft Pretzels from Palatable Pastime
·         Cheese Jalapeño Stuffed Pretzel Rolls from Herbivore Cucina
·         Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites from Cook's Hideout
·         Cinnamon Toast Pretzel Twists from Hostess At Heart
·         Double Soda Pretzels from Food Lust People Love
·         German Pretzel Rolls from All That's Left Are The Crumbs
·         Honey Mustard Snack Pretzels from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
·         Pretzel Dogs from Sneha's Recipe
·         Pretzel Sticks from A Day in the Life on the Farm
·         Saffron Pretzel Rolls from The Schizo Chef
·         Soft Whole Wheat Pretzels from What Smells So Good?
·         Sourdough Soft Pretzels from Baking Sense
·         Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites from I camp in my kitchen

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