Autumn is casting its magical spell. The color of the sky is a deep shade of blue, mornings are magical, noon is balmy, evening calm and cold and night still, starry and chilly.
As the morning Sun  pours it’s gold and warmth into our world, foraging and feeding of the birds and bees begin. The serrated Himalayas loom large in the horizon and look white as fresh snow fills up the nook and crevices.


Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch creeps up in the trunk of the apple tree.
A  Blue Capped Rockthrush perches on a stump after swooping down for insects.


 It’s a heavenly autumn morning. Watching birds is like meditation to me. I love the Autumn sunrise, sunsets, and the birds.
We collected fresh coriander and some fresh green chilies growing in the fields Weekends are so relaxing and the pace of life gets lazy as there are no deadlines. We decided on early brunch. With most of the ingredients homegrown, we plan to make Bedmi Parathas with potato tomato curry and yogurt.


Bedmi Paratha is made with urad daal (Black Gram Lentils). Soaked daal is ground coarsely. Turmeric, chili powder, asafetida, and fennel give it a burst of flavours.


 It makes a great breakfast option with just plain curd. Parantha is soft and robust in Indian flavours. 



The parathas are great to pack in the lunch box for kids to take to school.  These are ideal to take on picnics and journeys. Pair with curry and enjoy a sumptuous meal.


Bedmi Paratha (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 2 bowls whole wheat flour
  • 1 bowl soaked urad daal  (Black Gram Lentils split and skinned )
  • 1-2 green chilies
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped green coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 teaspoon fennel (mildly roasted and crushed)
  • 1 – 1 ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Water for kneading
Oil for cooking
Dry flour for rolling parathas

Instructions

  1. Soak Urad dal overnight or for a minimum of 2-3 hours. Add chopped green chilies and grind coarsely.
  2. In another deep bowl, take flour and add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Add ground dal and add water just enough to get a soft dough. Start with very little water and keep on adding water as you need.
  4. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Apply some oil to your hands and knead for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Heat the tawa (hot griddle). Take a small portion of dough. Roll into a ball and then flatten it. Dust with flour and roll it into a parantha.
  7. Carefully place the parantha on tawa. When tiny bubbles appear on the surface, flip it, apply oil and cook till golden. Repeat on the other side.
  8. Serve hot parathas with curry and yogurt.


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 lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here.
Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.



BreadBakers


This month, the Bread Bakers are making Indian Flatbreads/Parathas, a theme chosen by Renu from Cook With Renu.
And don’t forget to check out all the amazing Indian Flatbreads/Parathas done by our talented bakers.






One quick bake that satiates the sweet cravings and that too without much guilt, is a Gluten-Free Chocolate Mug Cake. The ease and quick gratification that comes with the mug cake makes it the ultimate comfort dessert.





Waking up to a foggy morning in early November is quite unusual in the hills. Retreating monsoon this year was overly long and hence the fog and early winters. The fog keeps floating from bottom to top and sometimes in reverse pattern and sometimes seems to be swallowing up the complete village that disappears in its white arms. And in between the foggy spell, it also clears up almost magically and the golden Sun seeps into our world making it warm and pleasant.


Yesterday, it cleared up later in the morning. We went out to collect the ripe corns from the field. Slightly ahead, close to the orchard,  on a stump, we spotted a Blue Capped Rock thrush. 



It swooped down for insects and came back to its perch repeatedly. 
On sensing our presence, she flew up and perched on the branch of the pear tree.


On cold evenings, one yearns for something sweet and hot after an early dinner. A hot dessert really fits the bill. One quick bake that satiates the sweet cravings and that too without much guilt, is a Gluten-Free Chocolate Mug Cake. Easy and quick to bake, chocolate mug cake is quite regular on our menu. The ease and quick gratification that comes with the mug cake makes it the ultimate comfort dessert.


I have worked on this recipe several times and discovered that of all the gluten-free flours, water chestnut flour tastes the best. We sourced some water chestnut flour from our grocer in the foothills.  Water chestnut flour has a subtly sweet taste and it goes very well with chocolate.
If you are not a great stickler for a gluten-free version,  you may take a blend of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour or just all-purpose flour. I have added coconut milk for a vegan version. Whole milk also works well.


Do add dark chocolate chunks generously to the batter to get molten chocolate in every bite. It feels like lava cake in a mug. You may serve plain, with ganache, with ice cream or with a generous sprinkle of cocoa or drinking Chocolate.


I have baked this mug cake in my oven. I do not have a microwave. If you have a microwave, cook for two minutes or 30 seconds extra.




Chocolate Mug Cake (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons water chestnut flour (or, all-purpose flour or, a blend of all-purpose flour and wholewheat flour if not baking gluten-free)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (adjust according to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (any neutral oil)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (or, fresh whole milk if not baking vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons dark chocolate chunks (break the dark chocolate into small pieces) or chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. Take all the dry ingredients in a large mug. Whisk with a fork.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except chocolate chunks/chips) and stir well with a fork so that there are no lumps and you get a thick cake batter.
  4. Add chocolate chunks/chips.
  5. Bake in the middle rack for 12 minutes. Shift the mug to the lower rack and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Enjoy warm mug cake plain or with a drizzle of ganache.

Note:  Bake in a large mug or else the batter will overflow.







Amaranth and Garlic Crackers are vegan and gluten-free. The crackers are crisp, soft, nutty, with a tinge of sweetness from the fresh flour and very flavourful. They make wonderful guilt-free snacking option.




Autumn is here and heading to winter slowly. There is a thick carpet of fallen leaves on the pathways and the courtyard. Pear trees are prepping for winter and shedding leaves profusely.
Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
Last month there was a riot of colours in the hills. Amaranth plants were in profuse bloom. The colourful flower heads referred to as tassels are deep pink to magenta in colour. Amaranth is a wonder plant. The nutrient rich tender leaves are perfect for salads. Bigger leaves are cooked and eaten.



Seeds ripen three months after planting. They are ready to harvest when the seeds begin to fall from the tassel.  The tassels are cut from the plant and dried on a clean cloth. Seeds keep falling off. The flowers heads are rubbed. A winnow is used to remove the chaff.


Dry seeds are dried in the Sun and stored.
We got some fresh amaranth flour from the village. We made crackers.


We used fresh Thyme, Rosemary and garlic from our garden.


The crackers are vegan and gluten-free. They make wonderful guilt-free snacking option.
Most of the ingredients in the crackers are seasonal and fresh and sourced locally. Like with anything we do, baking can also be made greener and less impacting.  We try to be sustainable and practical. And change comes in small steps.



The crackers turned out crisp, soft, with a tinge of sweetness from the fresh flour and very flavourful.


Amaranth and Garlic Crackers (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Amaranth flour
  • 5 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons water + 1 more if needed
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 big clove of garlic crushed or grated
  • 3-4  sprigs of fresh Thyme
  • 1 sprig of Rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt

*If you do not have fresh herbs, use 1 tablespoon of Italian Spice mix. Adjust salt accordingly.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Pick thyme leaves. Pick Rosemary leaves and chop them finely.
  3. Take all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Mix well. The dough will be clumpy and sandy initially. Add more water only if needed.
  5. You can mix the ingredients in a food processor also.
  6. Transfer to the counter and knead till smooth.
  7. Divide the dough into two parts.
  8. Place one half in a parchment sheet. Cover with another parchment sheet. Roll out with a rolling pin to an even thickness of about 5mm.
  9. Cut with a sharp knife. Prick with a fork to prevent puffing up. This also helps in baking evenly.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden around the edges. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  11. Cool on the rack and store in an airtight container.






The morning arrived over the sleeping village. Drawn broke, splashing hues of grey that turned purple and yellow that turned gold as the Sun rose in the East. Retreating monsoon has been overly long. A clear sky after a long time felt like a rare sight.



 The Himalayas made an appearance after a long time and sight was majestic and mesmerizing.
A pleasant morning is no less than a celebration of myriad colours, sights, and sounds. Bees crowd the wildflowers and a constant hum is audible you pass by. 


A yellow bumblebee settles repeatedly on a yellow Dahlia perhaps by choice and is almost camouflaged.
Birds forage and their cacophony suffuses the air.  


While a  Rufous Sibia  quietly pecks the ripe pears.
The mellow Sun is soothing, healing and comforting.
In one corner of the kitchen counter, bread batter is covered and kept overnight. We check the batter of our overnight bread. It's bubbly and well risen. After giving it a vigorous stir, it is folded over in the mixing bowl itself and then transferred to the prepared pan. It is a high hydration dough and needs to be shaped with oiled hands once transferred to the prepared pan.
Make sure to sprinkle the greased pan generously with flour. You may also sprinkle the top of the loaf with wheat bran prior to baking.
Cold fermentation really helps dough develop flavor.



The bread is one of the most delicious breads. It has a very soft crumb.
We loved it with a generous spread of homemade peanut butter and Apricot Jam.
This is an amazing and very versatile loaf. You’ll love it with hot soup. It makes great sandwiches too!


Overnight No-knead Bread (Vegan)

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons raw unrefined sugar
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 cups cold water ( plus 1 tablespoon if the dough is too dry)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil.
  • 2 tablespoons bran

Instructions

  1. The night before baking day, mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add water and oil over the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir the ingredients with a large spoon until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Spray the top of the dough with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap.
  5. Let the dough rise overnight (12 to 18 hours)
  6. Grease one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Dust the greased pan generously with flour.
  7. Stir the risen dough vigorously.
  8. With an oiled spatula, with the dough still in the bowl, fold the dough over itself to form a loaf. This step develops tension and helps the dough to rise upwards uniformly.
  9. Invert the dough into the prepared loaf pan, seam side down. With oiled hands,   press and shape  the dough, spreading it uniformly in the loaf pan.
  10. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise and doubles, and crests over the lip of the pan.
  11. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  12. Bake for 60 minutes or until the loaf turns golden brown. Tent with a foil if the top is getting too brown.
  13. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  14. Slice when cold.
Note- If you are baking this bread in cold weather or even warm weather, let it sit on the kitchen counter overnight. If you are baking during summer, keep the batter in refrigerator for about 18 hours.




One might think that Nettle bread is a little extreme in my bid for healthy baking. But this is the beauty of home baking. Liberty to use freshest seasonal ingredients of choice. The joy of baking your own bread and the wonderful aroma wafting through and you know exactly what has gone into your bread is a good feeling

Monsoon is on the wane. It rains erratically now. Monsoon has blessed our hills with lush and luxuriant greenery. The landscape is full of ferns, grass, bushes, and weeds.  All sorts of wild greens including nettles have sprung up. Our vegetable patch had to be prepared   for the new crop and a thicket of nettles had to be removed. I decided to use some in my whole grain bread.


Nettles or Stinging nettles as they are commonly called are rich in Vitamins (A, B, C, and K), minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, fats and amino acids. Adding a handful of nettle leaves to the bread makes it healthy and delicious.


Make sure you use a pair of gloves to pluck tender leaves. Wash and blanch the leaves. Drain and chop the leaves and add to the dough after the first rise.


Nettle bread has a tender crumb. The crumb is speckled with nettle leaves.

Wholegrain Nettle Bread (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups water cups warm water
  • 1 cup fresh nettle leaves (new tender leaves)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together first three ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, take sugar and water and add yeast. Stir, cover and let sit for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  3. Add yeasted water slowly to the dry ingredients and knead the dough. Keep adding water and keep kneading till you get very soft and supple dough, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around dough so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place for 1 ½ hour or until double.
  5. In the meantime, wash the nettle leaves. Bring water to a boil in a large pan.  Add Nettle leaves. Cover and keep for 10 minutes. Drain. Reserve some leaves to put on top. Chop remaining leaves.
  6. Punch the risen dough. Add chopped nettle leaves evenly in the dough.  Knead for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Shape into a ball. Stretch the top and tuck under the seams.
  8. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for 1 hour or until double.
  9. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  10. Brush the top of the bread with water. Arrange the leaves.
  11. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top turns golden.
  12. Remove from the oven. Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.
Note: You may use a blend of 50% all-purpose flour and 50% whole wheat flour to get a lighter crumb. In this case, water requirement will be less. You may also use any green leafy vegetable in place of nettle 





Baking a chocolate cake never needs a reason. Good weather uplifts your spirits and makes you do something that you love. In our case, a long walk down the mountain happens often to savour the good weather. Walking under the giant Oaks and Rhododendrons with fog rising and falling or just lazily walking across the valley gives immense pleasure and we never have enough of it.


Last time we walked to a nearby village. And it was almost dark while returning. It was a full moon and the forest trails were light up by the silvery light. Back home, we baked a chocolate cake. Baking is therapeutic.  We baked a wholegrain Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with free-range eggs.
We are lucky to have discovered a lady in the foothills who rears country hens for eggs. Visiting her farm was a delightful experience. Healthy, happy, free hens pecking, forging and roaming all around freely was a beautiful sight. One does not feel guilty to use eggs that come from happy and free hens raised humanely and lovingly.


Farm animals hold a special place in society. They support the burgeoning human population. Their health and happiness should be of utmost importance for those rearing and those consuming their products.


The cake was baked at night. We sliced it the next day. The cake came out soft and delicious. You may add a teaspoon of instant coffee to the batter for a hint of coffee in your cake. You may also drizzle some ganache before serving.

 Wholegrain Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 100 grams butter ( ½ cup)
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 ml buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan or grease very well and dust one medium-size non-stick or silicone bundt pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together first five ingredients. Keep aside.
  4. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs,  one at a time. Beat well. Add vanilla extract.
  6. Add flour in three shifts, followed by the buttermilk. Mix gently to get a smooth batter.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 -60 minutes or until the top turns brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert onto the rack to cool.
  9. If using a bundt pan, place the pan on the wire rack and let cool for 10-20 minutes. This allows the cake to become firm enough to be removed from the pan without breaking apart. Tap the pan firmly a few times and shake it gently to help loosen the cake. Invert the pan onto the rack. Lift it off and let the cake continue to cool on the rack.


Slightly sweet, fluffy and soft, Poppy Seed Rolls have lovely crunch and nuttiness that comes from the poppy seeds in the dough. 


Buzzing and clicking of cicadas and chirping of crickets make our nights musical. Moon lends a silver glow to the forests. The night is mystical and sometimes eerie and has its own charm.


Yesterday, in the morning, a Scarlet Minivet was raising alarm. Birds raise alarm when they sense danger and generally, the alarm is raised on sighting a cat, a snake, a bird of prey or some animal that preys.


While going to vermicompost pit to empty the waste, I saw some movement in the grass. I froze as I saw a pair of Yellow Throated  Martens. I have often had a fleeting glimpse of this majestic mammal but never saw it so close. Cute, agile and very alert, Martens are omnivores, arboreal members of the weasel family. 


Last month, Pine Marten is believed to have run away with the packet of jaggery from my baking studio. It perhaps entered the room from the exhaust outlet. The packet was found torn and empty in the nearby forest.


This weekend, we baked Poppy seed rolls for dinner.
We had some white poppy seeds at home and we added to the rolls.


Slightly sweet, fluffy and soft, poppy seed rolls have lovely crunch and nuttiness that comes from the poppy seeds in the dough. We loved them with home made apricot jam. They taste delicious with butter.


The rolls have a great oven spring. Bake them in a broad 9 inch cake pan. There is nothing intricate and elaborate about the recipe. And you get amazingly soft, fluffy and sweet rolls.


Poppy Seed Bread Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavor (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add ¾ cup water, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve sugar. Cover and keep for 10 minutes. (This is to ensure that the yeast is active.)
  2. When the mixture turns frothy, add oil and vanilla and butter extract if using. Stir.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds.
  4. Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture. Mix to get a shaggy dough. Keep kneading for 8-10 minutes or until you get a very smooth and elastic dough.  While kneading, keep adding the remaining water.
  5. Transfer the dough into a greased bowl. Turn around once so the dough is evenly coated with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place for about 1 hour or until double.
  6. Grease one 9 inches round cake pan.
  7. Punch the risen dough and divide into two equal portions. Cut each half into 5 small pieces.
  8. Roll out each piece into a ball. Stretch the top skin and tuck under the seam. This will create surface tension and help rolls to rise up. Press each roll into the remaining 1 tablespoon poppy seeds spread on a plate.
  9. Arrange the rolls in the pan. Cover and keep to rise for 1 hour.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for about 15 minutes or until well browned.
  11. Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve warm.

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, the Bread Bakers are baking breads with
seeds. Many thanks to Stacy of Food Lust People Love for such a great theme.



·  Amaranth and Honey Bread from What Smells So Good?
·  Brioche Buns from Simply Inspired Meals
·  Cheddar Poppy Seed Bread Sticks from Food Lust People Love
·  Everything Sourdough Bagels from A Day in the Life on the Farm
·  Kaak from Sara's Tasty Buds
·  Nordic Stone Age Bread from All That's Left Are The Crumbs
·  Poppy Seed Rolls from Ambrosia
·  Seeded Sourdough Boule from Bread Therapy
·  Seeded Turmeric and Leek Levain from A Messy Kitchen
·  Sesame Crackers from Anybody Can Bake
·  Sesame Scallion Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

BreadBakers







 Smooth, dark and chocolaty, this is almost a guilt-free chocolate pudding that is a low calorie, gluten-free and vegan 




There comes a day during monsoon when the rain stops and the day is exceptionally bright. The sky looks blue and it feels like autumn. This also turns out to be a busy day as a lot of washing, cleaning and drying happen.  



After winding up the daily chores,  we went to the orchard.




A Dove was sunning itself on an apple tree and sonorous song of a streaked laughing thrush echoed in the air.


Bunches of wild roses adorn the back wall. It smells heavenly as we pass by. A thousand insects and bees throng the pink flowers.

Being a very hot day there was an intense craving for something cold and sweet. Sweet also comes with a pang of guilt.  However, once in a while it is not very unhealthy to have a small portion of dessert to satiate sweet cravings. We decided to make chocolate pudding. Every effort went into making it guilt-free. Dairy milk was substituted with coconut milk and we used raw sugar.


Dressing up the pudding is the most exciting part and the kids love it.

Daughter made chocolate bark for garnish. Some went into garnishing, the greater amount was popped into the mouth. This is the fun of cooking together. 

The pudding turned out delightfully delicious and light. Smooth, dark and chocolaty, this is almost a guilt-free chocolate pudding that has become our favourite family dessert. 

Chocolate Pudding - Vegan and Gluten-Free

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 75 grams dark chocolate
  • 1 ½ tablespoons corn starch.
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions

  1. Heat 1 cup milk in a thick bottom saucepan. Add cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
  2. In the meantime whisk corn starch in ½ cup milk in a cup. Add this to the hot milk. Stir well and bring the milk to a boil stirring continuously. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat.
  4. Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to hot mixture. Stir until it melts. Add vanilla extract.
  5. Transfer pudding to bowls. Let the pudding cool.
  6. Keep the bowls in the refrigerator overnight or for 3-4 hours. The pudding will become thick.
  7. Garnish with chocolate curls/ chocolate bark. Sprinkle some cocoa powder. Serve.



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