A trip to the hills is never complete without stacking up herbs from the “nature shops” that sell the local produce. Sometimes, we even stop by the fields where herbs are being grown. Villagers are always welcoming and generous to let us pluck fresh herbs, thereby letting us experience the exhilaration of plucking and then shade drying our precious booty at home. The home stay in Munsiyari where we spent some time  last month had a small patch by the brook where peppermint flourished bountifully. We had endless cups of peppermint tea in the morning after long walks. It was like an elixir. We also plucked a lot of oregano from there. Of late, we have being enjoying oregano in our soups, veggies, stews and breads.  Used oregano in Garlic Focaccia last week. The combination was great. The bead had strong flavor of garlic and lovely aroma of oregano.

Here is the recipe –
Garlic Oregano Focaccia
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (atta)
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup warm water
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
About 2 teaspoons oil for oiling the bowl and baking tray
Some salt for sprinkling on the bread
Dissolve sugar in warm water. Add yeast. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Sift together all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt.
From the ¼ cup olive oil, reserve 1 ½ tablespoon for drizzling on the bread. Mix the rest in the flour mix.
Add half the quantity of minced garlic. Add warm water and knead for 10 minutes till the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour or till double in size.
Oil the baking tray, add dough, and stretch the dough to a rectangle (8 inch x 5 inch). Dimple the dough about a dozen times with the tip of your finger pointing straight down. Leave for 30 minutes.
When the bread has risen well, drizzle the remaining olive oil, sprinkle the remaining minced garlic, oregano and salt on the bread.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is well browned.

 Linking to Vegan Thursdays
Submitted for Yeastspotting

Few years ago, while studying alternative therapies, I came across a very interesting chapter in naturopathy -“Miracles of Alkalizing Diet”. This chapter appealed to me because I could relate to it very well. It seemed to have solution to some of the health issues at home. In spite of being diet conscious, eating moderately and timely, some members had indigestion, nausea and burning sensation in pharynx. This could be traced to acid –alkali imbalance. A change in the diet helped to great extent.
The acid –alkaline balance plays a vital role in balance body chemistry which is important in maintenance of health and healing of diseases. Normal body chemistry is approx 20 % acid and 80% alkaline. Whenever the alkalinity of the blood is reduced, its ability to transport carbon di-oxide is reduced. This causes acidosis or hypo-alkalinity of the blood. Its symptoms are hunger, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness and burning sensation in pharynx. Acidosis is the breeding ground for most diseases. It also lowers the vitality of the system, thereby increasing the danger of infectious diseases.
Our daily diet should consist of four-fifths of alkaline forming foods such as fruits (except plums and prunes that are acidic), tubers, legumes, leafy and root vegetables and one fifth of acid forming foods. Cereals of all kinds, nuts (except almonds), meats and eggs are acid forming foods. Eating sensibly in this manner will ensure the necessary alkalinity of the blood, which will ensure good health.
Our good food habits and practices tend to get slow paced or forgotten over a period of time. Few days back, a very dear friend of mine raked this topic on a social networking site. This prodded us to get back to track. A whole lot of seasonal fruits including bananas were bought. The bananas started turning over ripe. Some were salvaged in Marbled Banana Bread.

Adapted from myrecipes and this is how I made Marbled Banana Bread-
Banana Marble Bread
1 cup whole wheat flour (aata)
1 cup all purpose flour
3 very ripe mashed bananas
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup butter (half stick)
1/3 cup thick yogurt
½ cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 9 x 5” baking tin.
Take chocolate chips in a steel bowl. Boil some water in a wok; carefully place the bowl in the center. The chocolate will start melting. Remove the bowl when the chocolate melts completely.
Take butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat till fluffy and creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, mix well, add mashed bananas. Add yogurt and mix till the batter becomes uniform and creamy.
Whisk both the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add flour mix to wet ingredients and stir till well combined. Do not over mix.
Take one cup of this batter in the bowl containing melted chocolate and mix evenly.
Pour a little of the plain batter and same quantity of chocolate batter alternately in the baking tin till the batters are over. With the back of a spoon, make a couple of swirls.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or till a toothpick come out clean.
Remove from the baking tin after 5 minutes. Cool in the rack.

Linking to Bakefest hosted by Pallavi

October ushers in festivities and celebrations. Halloween is round the corner and Diwali preparations have already begun. Kitchens are busy these days as new recipes are being tried and tested and added to the festive menus.

 Keeping in pace with festivities, here is my recipe of Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls-

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from here and halved
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
¼ cup butter
¼ cup sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup warm water
½ cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup icing sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk.
 Dissolve sugar in ½ cup warm water. Add yeast and cover the bowl for 15 minutes.  The yeast would have turned frothy by now. Add butter.
Whisk flour, salt and cocoa. Add water and knead soft dough. Add more water if needed.
Knead for about 6 -8 minutes till the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let it rise in warm place for an hour or until doubled.
Turn out the dough onto floured surface. Punch and divide into two. Roll each piece into 12 inch x 10 inch rectangle, brush with melted butter, sprinkle sugar, ground cinnamon, chocolate chips and walnuts.
Roll up each piece starting with the long side. Pinch seams to seal. Cut each roll into 10 pieces.
Grease two 8 inch cake tins, place cut side down. Cover and let it rise for 45 minutes or until doubled.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 190 degrees C for 20 -25 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from the tin after 10 minutes and cool in the rack.
To prepare icing, combine icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Pour over the rolls while slightly warm.

Submitted for Yeastspotting
Linking to Bake Fest hosted by Pallavi
Linking to Diwali delicacy event hosted by Priya 

A small lemon plant was the first thing that we got for the garden from nursery when we shifted to our home some years ago. The plant shed its leaves in the first week leaving us guessing as to how long it would take to adapt itself to the new home and new soil. But I trusted Yogi’s green fingers and our love which the tiny plant was showered with, by timely feed of water and warm loving touch and sweet talk with unfailing regularity. Yes! Plants do respond to loving touch, conversation and good music.
One fine day two tiny curled up leaves were discovered by my daughter and all of us gathered around the plant, as though admiring some marvel. Yes! The plant was alive and had responded and signaled that it liked its new home. Many more tiny leaves appeared in due course of time, and transformed into shiny leaves and soon became uncountable. And after a year, the plant gave us four lemons. To us, they were the best lemons on Earth! Shiny, perfectly oblong and juicy. 

The lemon plant has now become a tree, a bountiful tree that has been giving lemons twice a year out of which we’ve made salads, lemonades, pickles and cakes over and over again. Last week, we plucked all the lemons for a sweet pickle.  Few days later, we discovered that there were few more left in the tree.
 I used these to make Lemon Yogurt Cake. This cake is very easy to make. It has a lovely tangy taste and refreshing lemony aroma. A slice of the cake leaves you asking for more. A must try recipe.

Lemon Yogurt Cake | Gâteau au Citron
Adapted from Orangette,  and this is how I made it
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup olive oil / canola oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons lemon zest
For the glaze
Juice from two lemons
½ cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
In a large bowl, mix yogurt and sugar. Add eggs and stir until well blended.
Whisk flour with baking powder.
Add flour to wet ingredients, add zest. Add oil and stir. The batter looks shaggy at this point. Keep stirring till it becomes smooth.
Grease and line a 6 inch round cake tin. Pour the batter and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
To prepare the glaze, mix sugar and lemon juice. Pour evenly over the cooled cake.

Post monsoon season entails detailed cleaning of vegetable patch and a little area in the front that we call our garden. The stray branches need pruning, creepers and climbers need to be guided and the luxuriant overgrowth of the grass needs mowing. The fish pond calls for thorough cleaning and potted plants expect a complete makeover. Monsoon, has been very generous this year, and is still on and once in a while mild to strong showers have saved us the hassle of watering plants. This has also contributed to overgrowth of the bushes and trees making our vegetable patch look more like some wildlife sanctuary. Some flowers are still blossoming and adding beauty to the landscape.

Yesterday, a mongoose peeped out of the tall grass. Civet cats can be spotted after sunset running up to the tall branches to hide. Thankfully, amidst all the concretization around, these species are still struggling and managing to survive.

After a grueling session of cleaning, pruning, lopping and chopping, it is such a relief to have a loaf of healthy bread for dinner. The energy levels are just sufficient to cook a simple veggie to go with the bread. I generally bake bread in the evenings. Next day, it slices well and also comes in handy if kids declare their hunger at odd hours or if due to come preoccupation there is not enough time or energy to cook. Fat-free breakfast was made for breakfast. It has no fat. It has yogurt that makes it super soft. I have also baked another version of this bread with whole wheat flour and oatmeal, Whole wheat flour and oatmeal makes it healthier and enhances the taste too!

Fat-Free Breakfast Bread


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • ¾ to 1 cup warm water
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1-2 teaspoon vegetable oil to grease the bowl and bread pan.


  1. Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Dissolve sugar in ¾ warm water and add yeast. Cover and keep for 15 minutes.
  3. Beat yogurt till smooth. Add to water-yeast mixture.
  4. Add liquid ingredients to flour mix. Knead for 5 to 6 minutes. Keep adding water until a supple and slightly sticky dough is obtained.
  5. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Turn around dough so that it is evenly coated with oil. Keep it to rise for 1 to 1 ½ hour or till double in size.
  6. Grease one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan.
  7. Punch the dough and knead gently for another 5 minutes. Roll out the dough into a rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you are using.
  8. Roll the dough towards you, tightly. Pinch seams to seal. Place the roll in the greased loaf tin. Cover and let it rise till double in size.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 30 to 35 minutes or till the loaf turns brown and the bottom of the pan sounds hollow when tapped.
  10. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Slice when cold.

Variation - I also made this bread with 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with rest of the ingredients and method same as mentioned in the recipe. The bread is healthier and a bit dense.

Submitted for Yeast Spotting

Autumn Sun seems to be gaining strength after the unprecedented rains that had plummeted the temperature. Morning Sun is soothing and healing as we try to struggle and smuggle some time out to keep our exercise regimen on, fighting the lassitude and also striving hard to carry out the routine chores silently so as not to wake up the kids who  have fragmented sleep. A session of yoga if accomplished, feels good, both, physically and mentally.

The memories of our trip to the hills linger on… I remember the happy old lady whom I accompanied up to the meadows after an arduous climb with her three dozen goats. She lived a Spartan live, with limited means and yet was contented in her world.

We got many herbs and lentils from the hills. The Oregano that we got with us has lovely aroma and we attribute the Himalayan clime for its lovely flavour and fragrance. I made Potato Oregano rolls for the dinner more out of excitement to use Oregano. My recipe is inspired from The Fresh Loaf. Rosemary has been replaced by Oregano, butter has been replaced by olive oil and some whole wheat flour has been added to make it healthier.

This is how I made Potato Oregano Rolls-
Potato Oregano Rolls
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ to 1 cup warm water
1 big potato boiled and mashed
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon oregano (dried)
1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Dissolve sugar in ¾ cup warm water. Add yeast, mix and cover it for fifteen minutes.
Whisk the flours, salt and Oregano. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix. Add mashed potato and mix well.
Now add water and knead for 6 to 8 minutes to get soft dough. The dough will feel a little sticky but will be manageable to knead.
Add more water only and only if needed, or else the dough will become very sticky.
Oil a bowl and let the dough rest in it for an hour or till it doubles in size.
Punch down the dough; knead for 4 to 5 minutes.
Roll the dough into a long rope.  Cut out 12 pieces with a sharp knife.
Apply some oil in your hands and shape these pieces into rolls about the size of golf balls.
Arrange the rolls on greased baking tray and cover them. Leave them to rise till double in size.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes or till well browned.

Submitted for Yeastspotting
Linking to Twelve Loaves-

 #TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess.  #TwelveLoaves runs so smoothly thanks to the help of the lovely Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes and Renee from Magnolia Days. 


Last week, it was our rendezvous with nature. A five day stay in the border town of Munsiari in the upper Himalayas was an experience of a lifetime. Situated at an altitude of 2,298mtrs above the sea level, Munsiari  offers amazing vistas of snow clad peaks in the backdrop of deep blue sky, dense forests of Rhododendron, Cedar, Oak and Pine, waterfalls spouting forth from dizzy heights, rare birds, butterflies, wildflowers and simple folks whose simplicity, humility, selflessness, purity and innocence makes one contemplate if the fast-paced city life that is bereft of most of these virtues, is to be called “civilization” in the true sense, where demands of everyday living are minimal and man’s dependence on nature does not harm or scar it.

A Rainbow 

Birthi Falls
A glimpse of the Himalayas
A te`te-a` te`te with our hostess over a cup of steaming peppermint tea in the balmy autumn Sun by the side of a stream that runs through her field revealed that in their culture, the community is more important than the self. People grow their own food, rear cattle, and weave at home.
Life is simple, beautiful and absolutely in tune with nature.

Out for grazing

A butterfly near a stream

Coming to today’s post, here is the recipe of Whole wheat buttermilk bread that we took along for this trip. Original recipe of the Buttermilk Bread is from the George Greenstein’s book “Secrets of a Jewish Baker”; I have adapted the recipe from here and made a few changes.
This is how I made Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread-

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons honey
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water
Add honey to warm water. Dissolve yeast and cover for fifteen minutes.
Whisk whole-wheat flour with salt. Add olive oil and mix well.
Add water honey and yeast mix to buttermilk (use less than ¾ cup buttermilk to begin with. Add remaining buttermilk later while kneading. This ensures that the dough is not too wet to handle)
Add the liquid ingredients to the flour, mix well with a spoon. Let this shaggy mix rest for 15 minutes.
Knead for about 6 to 8 minutes till the dough becomes soft and elastic.
Grease a bowl and let the dough rise in it for an hour or till it doubles.
Transfer the dough to the counter, knead for another 5 minutes.
Grease a loaf tin if you want a simple loaf; shape the dough into a loaf by folding and pinching the seams. Place the loaf in the tin with seam side down. Or, give the dough an oval shape tapering in the edges the way I have done. I made two small loaves this way.
Cover and let it rise for another 40 minutes to 1 hour till it doubles in size.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 35 to 40 minutes till the bread turns golden brown.
Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.

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