Summer in the hills is enchanting. From early summer to late summer, the orchards are the center of activity. Late spring is the time when Plum, Peach, and Apricot trees are in profuse bloom. The bees and butterflies are buzzing and moving from tree to tree collecting nectar and in the process pollinating the flowers. A lot of wildflowers grow all over the hills that also attract bees. It is nature’s way of accomplishing pollination. Some small birds flitting through the branches also play a role in pollination.


This year we had riotous fruition of Apricots. We have three varieties of apricots that ripen at different time. 


The best fruits are the ones that ripen naturally on the tree. Every morning, it’s a ritual to walk to the orchard, shake the branches to get the ripe fruits off the tree. And,  there is a shower of fruits on the dew-laden grass. 


Since there is an excess of fruit, we send some to our friends, eat to our heart's content and love to preserve some by making Jam.


Apricot jam is delicious. It has a unique taste. It is relished even more when the fruit season is over.
The quantity of sugar according to the general rule is three fourth cup for every cup of fruit puree. This is important because if you use less sugar, it may not jell properly.
Crack open a few apricot kernels and add one to each jar before pouring in the jam. This gives the jam a bitter and subtle almond-like flavor.


Apricot Jam

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh apricots
  • Water (just enough to cover the fruit)
  • Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


Instructions

  1. Wash the apricots.
  2. Cut into two. Remove the pits. Crack open some kernels and put one in each jam jar you plan to fill.
  3. Place apricots in a thick bottom pan. Add water just enough to cover the fruit. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on medium heat stirring frequently until the apricots are tender and cooked. Turn off the heat.
  4. Mash the apricots with a fork.
  5. Measure the puree. For one cup of puree, take three fourth cup of sugar (use the cup of the same volume for measuring sugar).
  6. Keep a plate in the freezer.
  7. Cook on medium flame without the lid. Keep stirring in between.
  8. In the later stages, the jam will thicken and reduce. Stir continuously to avoid burning at the bottom.
  9. When the jam looks thick and falls from the ladle in blobs, turn off the heat.
  10. Put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put it back in the freezer for 5 minutes. Push the jam back with your index finger. If it wrinkles and collects, it is done. Or else, cook for some more time until you get this consistency.
  11. Add lemon juice. Mix well.
  12. While the jam is cooling, sterilize the washed bottles.
  13. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven.
  14. Fill the jam in the warm
    sterilized bottles while the jam is hot.
  15. Leave the bottle to cool. Keep in a cool dry place. Refrigerate after opening.









Monsoon in the hills has a great charm. Fog rolling down the hills, floating clouds, changing skyscapes, cool weather, wildflowers, wild mushrooms, birds and the list just goes on. Nature wields its magic wand and everything looks so enchanting.




It is a bliss to have wild daisies growing around our homestead for the last three months. 
The flowers add so much beauty, color, and happiness. 
Wild daisies have been attracting a multitude of butterflies.


After a heavy downpour, it cleared up late evening. Clouds formed lovely patterns on the sky that kept changing constantly. We walked to the top of the cliff to capture the beauty of the sky.


Plums are ripening in the orchard. Purple plums look so beautiful and we love to shake the branches to get the ripe ones. Far in the other end of the orchard, we spotted a Grey Winged Blackbird on the branch of the oldest plum tree.


Next day being Sunday, we decided on a little indulgent lunch. Bhatura with mushroom curry and green coriander chutney was finalized. Bhatura is a very popular north Indian deep fried bread. It is generally made with maida (all-purpose flour) and yogurt. It is served with chickpea curry. The combination of Bhatura and Chole (chickpea curry with spices) is heavenly.


We made Bhatura with whole wheat flour and yeast. Slightly sweet and yeasty flavoured Bhatura is simply out of the world. We ate a hot Bhatura straight out of the wok and loved it.  Lunch was a treat. Bhatura paired deliciously with mushroom curry and chutney.

Whole Wheat Bhature

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • ¼ cup of warm water
  • 4 tablespoons curd
  • Warm water (for kneading dough)
  • Oil (for frying)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, take water, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve sugar. Cover and keep for 10 minutes. It should turn frothy.
  2. In another bowl, mix flour and salt. Add oil. Mix well.
  3. Add yeast mixture and mix. The flour should resemble bread crumbs.
  4. Now add curd. Add warm water and knead for 5 -6 minutes to get a smooth dough.
  5. Transfer dough into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Keep in a warm place for one hour or until double. Punch and knead again.
  6. Cover and keep in a warm place for 30 minutes or until puffy.
  7. Heat oil in a wok. 
  8. Take small portions of dough, about the size of a tennis ball. Roll into a ball.  Take a few drops of oil on the counter. Flatten the balls and with a rolling pin roll out into circles of the desired size. Keep them thick.
  9. Fry in hot oil. Press with a ladle while frying. This helps them fluff up. Fry on both the sides until golden.
  10. Place Bhatura on a plate lined with the napkin to remove excess oil. Serve hot.

Note: If you are making Bhature in winter or rainy season, the dough will take a longer time to double.

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.

BreadBakers

We take turns hosting each month choosing the theme/ingredient.
Our host this month is Sneha Datar who blogs at Sneha's Recipe. Her blog had lovely recipes.
She chose to bake fried yeasted bread this month.
Check out fried yeasted breads made by the other members




  • Batterway Drop Doughnuts from Sara's Tasty Buds


  • Buttermilk Beignets from Anybody Can Bake


  • Fried Jalapeño Corn Puffs from Food Lust People Love


  • Mochi Doughnuts from All That's Left Are The Crumbs


  • Pączki from A Messy Kitchen


  • Samoan German Buns from Gayathri's Cook Spot


  • Sufganiyot (Hanukkah Jelly Donuts) from Karen's Kitchen Stories


  • Whole Wheat Bhatura from Ambrosia


  • Yeasted Bhatura from Sneha's Recipe








  • Summer is the season of Hisaalu in the Hills. Soft, tangy and sweet Hisaalu are the Golden Himalayan Raspberries also known as The  Yellow Himalayan Raspberries ( Rubus ellipticus). Hisaalu grows in the hills in the forests and on the roadsides.


     The shrub is stout and thorny and it needs certain expertise to pluck the ripe fruit as the leaves also have bristles. You have to carefully put your hand under the ripe bunch and the ripe fruits fall  off with a gentle nudge. Ripe berries are sweet and juicy. The seeds are crunchy. It ripens around early June to mid- June and is much sought after by children, villagers, and birds.


     Children often stop by the bushes while coming back from the schools and amidst loud chatter and laughter they love collecting and eating the juicy berries. It is believed that the berries are the source of energy and were eaten by the travelers going uphill.



    We have a lot of Hisaalu shrubs in our area. We used some in our cake and baked an Eggless Hisaalu Cake. We mashed some berries and added to the batter. 


    We also added some whole berries to the batter. 


    The crunch of the seeds and juicy berries in the crumb make a delicious cake. 



    This cake can be made with any local berries.
      

    Eggless Vanilla Hisaalu Cake | Eggless Vanilla Cake with Berries 



    Ingredients

    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup raw sugar / unrefined cane sugar
    • ½ cup butter (1 stick butter)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup Hisaalu (Himalayan Golden raspberries) or any seasonal berries

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan.
    2. In a bowl, mix milk and vinegar. Stir and keep for 10 minutes.
    3. Whisk together first three ingredients in a large bowl.
    4. Beat butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add vanilla extract.
    5. Add flour to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Mix well with a spatula ensuring that all the ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix.
    6. Mash ¼ cup berries. Fold in mashed berries and ¼ cup whole berries into the batter.
    7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
    8. Sprinkle remaining berries on top.
    9. Bake for about 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
    10. Remove from the oven. Let it rest in the pan for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on the rack.
    11. Slice when cold or slice the next day.












    The day after the rains is beautiful. The sky is still heavy with clouds, and the sunrise is spectacular. 


    The rays make way behind the gray clouds and a myriad hues paint the sky. 


    The leaves glisten and dance in the morning breeze. There is freshness and fragrance in the air. Sweet songs of the Grey-winged back bird resonate.


     It is a magical morning.

    A Lemon Pistachio Loaf is being baked. My daughter prepares the glaze that will be poured all over the hot bread.


    It is a tangy sweet quick bread loaded with freshness and the flavor of lemons.
    The glaze makes the slices gooey and scrumptious.
    I have baked two versions.


    The eggless and wholegrain version is soft, moist and juicy. If you are a fan of whole grain baking, take two cups of whole wheat flour. Or, take one cup all-purpose flour and one cup whole wheat flour. Bake for one hour covering the top with the foil. The crumb will be dense and very moist.
    The second version has all-purpose flour and eggs. It has a lighter crumb.
    Both the versions are delicious.


    Lemon Pistachio Loaf

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour ( or, 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup unrefined cane sugar
    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • 2 flax eggs ( 2 tablespoons flax meal whisked in 6 tablespoons water. Keep for 10 minutes. Beat with a fork, use.) or, 2 large eggs
    • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • ¾ cup yogurt
    • ½ cup sliced pistachios

    Glaze

    • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    • ½ cup icing sugar
    • 2 tablespoons sliced pistachios for garnishing

    Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line the bottom and grease the sides of one 8 ½ x4 ½ inches loaf pan.
    2. Beat yogurt till smooth. Add lemon juice and zest. Keep aside.
    3. Whisk together first four ingredients. Keep aside.
    4. Beat butter and sugar till light and pale. Add flax eggs (or eggs, one at a time).
    5. Add half of the flour mix. Add half of the yogurt mix. Stir till well combined.
    6. Add remaining dry ingredients and remaining yogurt mix. Stir to get a homogenous mixture.
    7. Fold in sliced pistachios.
    8. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 50 -60  minutes or until the loaf is browned and shrinks from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Tent with a foil if the top is browning too fast.
    9. Poke the top of the bread with a toothpick and pour the glaze all over.
    10. Remove from the pan after 15 minutes.  Sprinkle sliced pistachios. Cool on the rack.
    11. Slice when cold.


    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.

    BreadBakers
    We take turns hosting each month choosing the theme/ingredient.
    Our host this month is Stacy Livingston Rushton. Stacy chose to bake quick bread this month. She blogs at Food Lust People Love. Her blog is a treasure of recipes.

    You'll love the quick breads made by the other Breadbakers.

    ·  Banana Nut Bread from Sneha's Recipe
    ·  Cheddar Bacon Chive Quick Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories
    ·  Chocolate Quick Bread from Sara's Tasty Buds
    ·  Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread from Shockingly Delicious
    ·  Coconut Sweet Bread from Passion Kneaded
    ·  Cranberry Pecan Quick Bread from Food Lust People Love
    ·  Eggfree Oats and Dates Bread from Veena’s Vegnation
    ·  Espresso Banana Quick Bread with Espresso Streusel from All That's Left Are The Crumbs
    ·  Irish Soda Bread from Anybody Can Bake
    ·  Keto Low Carb Coconut Flour Bread from Cook With Renu
    ·  Lady Grey Date Nut Bread from A Messy Kitchen
    ·  Lemon Blueberry Bread from Palatable Pastime
    ·  Lemon Pistachio Loaf from Ambrosia
    ·  Summer Shandy Beer Bread from A Day in the Life on the Farm
    ·  Zucchini Bread from Simply Inspired Meals















    The Sun is pale and the hills are misty. It is not a clear day. The sky is dotted with clouds, dark and swollen. The bloated clouds roll, curl and look like gray smoke that billows from the chimneys. The stage is all set for a downpour. The breeze gets stronger and sharper. Soon, the clouds begin to roar and rumble.


    Strong winds make the treetops oscillate and the dry leaves drift all over.  Raindrops fall and play music on our tin roof. The rhythm waxes and wanes with the flow of the wind. Our mud plastered rooms are warm and cozy. The kettles gurgles and hisses and the tea is ready. We love wrapping our fingers around hot glass and enjoy the tea with wholegrain chocolate cupcakes made the previous day.


    Soon, the sky is clear. Majestic Himalayas make an appearance. The Oak leaves glisten in the Sun and the air is fresh and rejuvenating.


    A Drongo, perched in the higher branches of a tree watches over her nest while  a verditer flycatcher chases and catches insects for her fledglings nested in a crevice in  the wall.


    Eggless Wholegrain Chocolate Cupcakes are soft moist and delicious. This is our favorite recipe. We bake them often and with a little variation each time. And every batch turns out beautiful.




    Substitute butter with oil.
    Or, use ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup oil.
    Use orange juice in place of water. In this case, use only 1 teaspoon white vinegar.
    Add a teaspoon of coffee powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water to the batter.


    Eggless Wholegrain Chocolate Cupcakes

    Ingredients

    • 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
    • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • ½ teaspoon (scant) salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup unrefined sugar
    • ¼ cup thick yogurt
    • ½ cup butter (melt and measure)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • ¾ cup warm water (2-3 tablespoons more if the batter is too thick)

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
    2. Line one 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners. You may use silicone moulds also.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together first six ingredients. These are dry ingredients.
    4. Pass the dry ingredients through a strainer.
    5. In another deep bowl, take yogurt. Beat till smooth. Add remaining wet ingredients. Beat this you get a uniform consistency.
    6. Add dry ingredients in three shifts. Stir well to get a smooth batter. Do not over mix.
    7. Pour the batter into the muffin tray filling 3/4 of each cavity.
    8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    9. Remove from the tray and cool on the rack.
    10. Enjoy the next day.






    Vanilla Fig Cake is an incredibly delicious cake with loads of fig bits in every bite. The crust comes out to be a beautiful brown and the crumb is super soft. This is a wonderful tea cake. It is delicious and healthy. 

    Early summer in the hills is enthralling. The traces of Spring is still perceptible in the colours of wildflowers and in the luxuriance of ferns. Rhododendron is blooming in all glory in the oak forest.


    The bunches of velvety red flowers in the midst of the grand Oaks break the green monotony. 


    A hoard of wildflowers covers the ground in the orchard. These look like stars in the firmament. 


    Bees and butterflies are busy foraging.  Small bees also called wild bees that throng the flowers are important for pollination. More bees mean more fruits in the orchard. Everything in the universe is interlinked.

    The trail to our home that passes through the Oak thicket is a carpet of dry leaves and rhododendron petals. The scent of wildflowers and the incessant bird songs make it a pleasurable walk.  


    Back home, we sliced the Vanilla Fig cake baked the previous day. With a cup of hot ginger tea, it seemed to be the best antidote to drive away the exhaustion.


    This is an incredibly delicious cake with loads of fig bits in every bite. The crust comes out to be a beautiful brown and crumb is super soft. This is a wonderful tea cake. It is delicious and healthy.

    Eggless Wholegrain Vanilla Fig Cake

    Ingredients

    • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 pinch salt
    • ¾ cup unrefined cane sugar
    • 1 tablespoon flax meal
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • ½ cup oil
    • ¾ cup warm milk
    • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 6 medium size dry figs

    Instructions

    1. In a deep bowl, mix the flax meal with 3 tablespoons water. Whisk and let rest for 10 minutes. It will become thick and gel-like.
    2. With the help of kitchen scissors, cut figs into very small pieces. Make sure to cut fig into small pieces. Large pieces will sink in the bottom of the batter. Toss the chopped pieces in two teaspoons of flour, Keep aside.
    3. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease and line one 7 inch round cake pan. (I recommend a round cake pan. I baked mine in a loaf pan and it took a very long time to bake)
    4. Whisk together first four ingredients in a large bowl. Keep aside.
    5. In another deep bowl, take oil, warm milk, and vanilla essence. Mix well. Add Flax gel and mix till you get a uniform mixture.
    6. Add dry ingredients and mix well to get a smooth batter. Fold in chopped figs. Reserve some to sprinkle on top.
    7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Level the top. Sprinkle some chopped figs on top.
    8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    9. Remove from the pan. Cool in the rack. Slice the next day.



    Orange Delight is an incredibly soft and moist Orange Cake. The juice and zest of the fresh oranges makes is a citrusy heaven




    Early morning silence is shredded by the cacophony of White Crested Laughing Thrush that comes in groups.


     A group of four perched on a tree and their shrill calls resonated in the valley. 


    The countryside is bathed in the brilliant summer hues. The barren patches are grassy and green. The trees sway in the warming breeze, donning the verdant hues. Far far away, we spotted a pair of Collared Doves on the higher branches of the silk cotton tree. 



    Summer is arriving in our land drifting in on the Spring wind.

    Last weekend, we baked Orange Delight. It is an Orange cake with potatoes. The cake is light and fluffy and a delicious change from the conventional recipe. The inspiration for this cake comes from a book that was discovered in the unreachable upper shelves of the kitchen while cleaning. With the juice and zest of the local oranges, the cake turned out to be a real Orange Delight.



    There is something charming about the old recipes. This recipe comes from the book “The Popular Potato Best Recipes“ by Valwyn Mc Monigal. The brittle, fragile and yellowing pages of the book have a wonderful collection of recipes with potatoes. A lot of them will be a pleasure to try out. We chose to bake the Orange cake first.


    Orange Delight / Orange Cake


    Ingredients

    • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 ¾ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½  teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup butter
    • ½ cup castor sugar
    • ½ cup fresh orange juice
    • 2 free range eggs  lightly beaten
    • 1 medium potato peeled and grated
    • Grated rind of one orange

    Icing

    • 1 cup icing sugar
    • 1 tsp butter
    • Orange juice

    Instructions


    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan.
    2.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
    3. Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.
    4. Add orange rind and orange juice.
    5. Add eggs. Mix well.
    6. Add flour mix. Stir to get a uniform creamy mixture.
    7. Squeeze potato dry and add to mixture. Stir well to combine.
    8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
    9. Bake for 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick. It should come out clean.
    10. Cool the cake in the rack.
    11. To make the icing, put the icing sugar into a small pan and add sufficient orange juice to make a firm mixture. Beat in butter. Heat on low very briefly and spread over the cake.



     



    Caramelized Onion and Cheese Bread is gently crisp on the outside and very soft, cheesy and fluffy inside. The bread is so good, it needs no accompaniment to be enjoyed. It is a treat in itself




    It is already the advent of spring. Silk cotton (Semal) trees scattered in the valley have grown juicy leaves. The branches have been nursing swollen buds all over. Some buds have already split revealing the sleeping fiery red flowers within. Some trees are already in bloom. Silk cotton flowers are huge and leathery. 


    A tree in bloom is a haven for drongoes, black bulbuls and a host of other birds that throng it in multitudes.



    Yesterday we saw a kite perched for a very long time on the branch of a Semal tree on the bank of the river. 


    Green beaters are back. Early morning, they can be seen flying around the branches of the tree.


    They are often spotted in the semal tree preying  on the insects that are attracted by the big flowers.


    Warm days are a boon for the bread bakers. And we planned to bake a loaf of Caramelized Onion and Cheese Bread for dinner. The bread is slightly crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.
    Fluffy, cheesy and oniony bread is a treat in itself. It is addictive. 


    Caramelized onions make the loaf sweet and flavourful. Cheese gives softness and to die for cheesiness. It is a melt in the mouth loaf that pairs really well with a soup for light simple dinner.


    Caramelized Onion and Cheese Bread

    Ingredients

    • 1 medium onion
    • 4 tablespoons butter/oil
    • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • ¾ cup of warm water
    • 1/3 cup warm milk

     Instructions

    1. Chop the onion finely.
    2. Heat a wok. Add butter/oil and add onions. On medium to low flame, fry the onions until transparent. Fry further stirring continuously until golden. Leave to cool.
    3. In another large bowl, take flour, salt, cheese, and yeast. Add caramelized onions. Mix well.
    4. Add mix ½ cup water and milk. Add sugar. This mixture should be warm.
    5. Add to dry ingredients and knead for 7-8 minutes. Add more warm water while kneading.
    6. Knead till you get a very smooth and slightly tacky dough.
    7. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around once so that the dough is oiled all over. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise until double.
    8. In the meantime, grease one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Sprinkle some cornmeal or coarse flour to coat the sides and bottom (this ensures that the bread does not stick to the sides and bottom)
    9. Punch the risen dough. Divide into three equal size pieces.
    10. Roll each piece into a 13 cm long rope.
    11. Keep the three ropes together. Bring the ends together, pinch and tuck in. Now braid the ropes tightly. Pinch the ends and tuck in. Place the braid in the prepared pan. Cover and keep in a warm place for one hour or till it doubles in size.
    12. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 25 -30 minutes or till the loaf turns golden from the top and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Tent with a foil if the top turns brown early. Remove from oven. Remove from pan after 5 to 7 minutes.
    13. Brush some butter on the warm loaf.
    14. Cool in the rack.  

      


    Linking to #BreadBakers
    BreadBakers

    #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page
    This month's theme is from Palatable Pastime, with extra help from Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

    We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to 
    [email protected].

    This month, the Bread Bakers are baking breads with cheese mixed into the dough. Check out the rest of the breads made with cheese! 




    NewerStories OlderStories Home