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 fell 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 


  • 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


  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


  • 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


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


  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.

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


  • 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)


  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


  • 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


  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


  • 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


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


  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.


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