It seemed to be a day of butterflies. We woke up to a light drizzle. Cool breeze infused with the aroma of buttery Magnolia flowers and scent of rain-drenched earth carried the song of the birds. A babbler chasing a moth raised alarm as she saw our cat. Some more babblers joined her till the flock flew away to the higher branches of a bush laden with wild orange berries.

Butterflies swarmed the flower-laden trees in extraordinary numbers. 

Some stretching and spreading their wings on the neem tree, while a swallowtail butterfly fluttered in the Ashok tree. Some chasing each other whilst some flitting from flower to flower. 

Perhaps, wet earth, an abundance of flowers and pleasant weather are doing the magic.

We had some late crop of cilantro growing at home. We harvested it all and I used a big bunch in the Semolina Loaf that I baked yesterday. 

The flavour wasn’t too distinct, but it gave a lovely crumb speckled with green flecks.

Semolina Cilantro Loaf


  • 3 ¼ cups coarse or fine semolina
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup  oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro (adjust the quantity according to preference) or any fresh or dry herb of choice


  1. Mix sugar in warm water. Keep aside.
  2. In a kneading plate or a deep bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients.
  3. Add 1 cup water and start kneading. The dough will be gritty and will not come together initially. Keep kneading and add water in small quantity. Semolina grains will absorb water and swell up. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Knead adding more water. Repeat till you get a slightly sticky but very soft and elastic dough.
  4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around to coat evenly with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
  5. Grease one 8x4 inch loaf pan.
  6. Punch dough and knead for 2 minutes. Roll out the dough into a rectangle not bigger than the width of the pan you are using. Roll the dough towards you, tightly. Pinch seams to seal. Place the roll in the loaf tin with the seam side down. Cover and keep it to rise for 45 minutes – 1 hour in a warm place or until it crests above the rim of the pan.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes or till the top turns brown and the bottom of the pan sounds empty when tapped. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent the loaf loosely with a foil.
  8. Remove from the loaf tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
  9. Slice the next day.

There are bird nests in our bushes and hedges. A red vent bulbul with an insect in her bill stealthily enters Phycus thicket and we can hear the chirrup of the fledglings. A dove first perches on the stump and inspects around. When she feels it is safe, she dives and disappears into the garden creeper where she has made a cup-shaped nest. She does not come out for a long time. Perhaps she is sitting on her eggs.

A purple sunbird couple has been making their nest in one of the hooks in our door for the last four years. Is it the same couple that comes here every year or is it one of their generations raised here?....we wonder. Leaving trees and bushes they raise their brood in the bald patch. Perhaps they feel safe with us. It is a relationship of faith, trust, and love. No language is spoken yet we understand each other so well. Our pet cat is well fed, in fact, overfed these days lest she eyes the baby birds that chirrup noisily.

A freak thunderstorm and mild showers brought the temperature down. I baked a wholegrain vegan carrot spice cake. We enjoyed with steaming ginger tea.

This is our favourite recipe because it is guilt free and healthy. The aroma of spices and crunch of walnuts in every bite is pleasing. The cake tastes best when had the next day.

I also bake this cake with chopped apples and love the soft apples in every bite.

Carrot Spice Cake – (Whole grain and Vegan)



  • 1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¼ cup brown sugar/muscovado sugar/grated jaggery/white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup grated carrots or chopped apples  
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees C
  2. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan.
  3. Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add tomato juice, oil and vanilla extract. Stir. Add grated carrots and stir till the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes.
  7. Cool and wrap in a cling film. Slice and serve next day. 


Late vernal blooms are bright and profuse. Mercury is rising with days getting hotter and drier. Cuckoo is singing endlessly with each pitch higher than the previous one. A gust of strong wind sweeps all dry leaves in one direction and piles them up. A garden lizard almost undetectable till it moved, scurries through the leaves and clambers onto a nearby tree. 

A Desert Wheatear flits from branch to branch and then perches on electricity wire.

 It is a migratory bird and shall return home soon.

It is almost weekend and I decide on baking a bread using semolina. 

Semolina gives great texture to breads. The bread has a hint of sweetness and flavour imparted by honey. It rises well and has a great texture and taste.

Wholegrain Semolina Bread | Atta Sooji Bread


  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup warm water


  1. Take semolina, all-purpose flour, yeast and salt in a big bowl. 
  2. Take  1 ½  cups warm water. Add honey  and mix well.
  3. Add this water to flour mix and mix well with a ladle. Add oil. Mix well. It will form a wet and shaggy dough. Cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a kneading plate. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour in parts mixing well after each each addition. Knead with hands for 6 to 8 minutes till dough becomes very smooth and elastic. The dough will be sticky.
  5. Transfer it to an oiled bowl. Turn around so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled.
  6. Grease one 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.
  7. Punch dough and knead for 2 minutes. Shape it into a loaf. Transfer to the prepared pan. Cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until it crests above the rim of the pan.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 40 minutes. The loaf should turn beautiful brown from top and should sound hollow when tapped at the bottom.
  9. Remove from the pan after 5 minutes. Slice when cold or slice next day.

The cacophony of Bablers drive  away Cuckoo from the Jamun tree. He glides gracefully and settles in a branch of Magnolia tree. 

 Fresh green and tenders leaves have sprouted in the branches after leaf shedding. 
There are butterfly and moth caterpillars in the leaves, camouflaged beautifully, often difficult to spot, cradled by the gentle breeze, devouring   juicy leaves and  changing colour and size  almost every day as they pass from one phase to another. My son curiously counts the caterpillars in the curry leaf plant. Young ones resemble bird droppings while the older ones are perfectly merging with the leaves.

A praying mantis hangs upside down from the magnolia leaves keeping an eye on the small insects and flies, lunging at it’s prey immaculately. We spot two more caterpillars in magnolia leaves. A complete ecosystem is thriving here.

Some overripe bananas in the counter give out lovely smell. I decide to bake Chocolate Banana Cake. Bananas add great flavour and give a tender crumb to the cake.

 The cake tastes best next day. Dense, moist, flavourful and deliciously healthy.

Double Chocolate Wholegrain  Banana Cake
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup melted butter
3 medium size ripe bananas
¾ cup brown sugar ( or white sugar)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line the bottom,   grease and dust the sides of one 7x7 inch cake pan.
Whisk together first four ingredients. Pass through a sieve to remove lumps.
Puree the bananas. Whisk in melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract.
Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. If the batter feels too thick or dry, add a tablespoon or two of milk. Fold in ¼ cup chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert it out onto a cooling rack.
Slice when cold.

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