Spring spreads mirth. It is a tonic for the soul. It splashes myriad colours onto the land banishing the grayness of winter. The mottled patches of dead grass are beginning to wear green. Soon there will be tufts of juicy grass breathing a new life onto the rusty earth. There is an alchemy of scents and colours in the meadows. Wildflowers weave a rich mosaic on the pathways.

Shoals of stray mustard plants sway to the passing wind. A bee comes and settles atop the flowers till a gust of wind shakes the plant and making it abandon the perch momentarily to return soon.

The weekend is relaxing. The Spring is invigorating and the spirits are high. Kids want a cake. There are apples lying at home and we decide to bake a healthy Semolina Apple Cake. Semolina is a great addition to the cakes. It gives it a great texture. The recipe is simple and very much our own creation.

  Two cups of juicy apple shreds have been added to the batter. The cake turned out soft and moist and almost guilt free.

Apple Semolina Cake


  • 1 cup yogurt
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 ½ cups fine semolina
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 ¼ cup unrefined sugar (I used bura sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated apples (peel core and   grate apples. Measure 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup Black currants/ Thompson raisins/ golden raisins (optional)


  1. Beat yogurt until smooth.
  2. Add oil and mix well.
  3. Add semolina, salt, and sugar and stir well. Cover and keep for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan.
  5. Add vanilla extract to the semolina mixture. Mix.
  6. Add baking powder, baking soda, and grated apples. Stir to mix well.
  7. At this stage, if the batter feels very thick, add warm milk to get the right consistency.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange blackcurrants on top.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is firm to touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Cool on the rack.
  11. Slice when cold.

It has been raining intermittently since yesterday. Second snowfall of the season is due and we are anticipating it tonight. It is cold and silent outside. Only sound audible is that of rain falling on the dry leaves and plunking on to the muddy earth and the occasional chirp of some bird. Last time when it snowed, the kids went berserk playing in the fresh cottony snow, making snowballs and hurling at each other. Snowmen of different sizes were made, broken down and made again. It was not a heavy snowfall though, but we loved it.

It cleared up by evening. The night was stippled with stars and the stars looked like silver snowflakes as they sprinkled the night sky.  Next morning was bright. Paths were white and the snow crunched as we walked carefully on them. We cleared the snow from the narrow track that connects us to the road.

A Straited Laughing thrush looked from the bare branches.

 Later in the day, we head sonorous calls of a group of Green-backed Tits that was foraging in the oak forest.
Back home, we decided to make  Buckwheat Chocolate Pancakes for breakfast. It was relieving to work in the warm kitchen.

Our teapot gurgled while the pancakes were getting cooked.   We enjoyed a hearty breakfast with a fantastic view from the kitchen.

Chocolate Buckwheat Pancakes (Vegan and Gluten-free)


  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoon unrefined sugar
  • 1 large banana pureed
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Flaxseeds or fresh fruits for garnishing


  1. Whisk together first five ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In another large bowl, mix sugar, pureed banana, milk and vanilla extract.
  3. Now add dry ingredients and stir well to get a batter of homogeneous consistency
  4. Add more milk if the batter feels thick. The batter should be of dropping consistency and not runny.
  5. Heat a nonstick pan. Grease the pan well and pour about ¼ cup of batter.
  6. Spread the batter by tilting the pan. Let it cook on medium heat.  The top should dry up and there should be small holes on the surface. Drizzle some oil on top and flip. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  7. Serve warm pancakes with chocolate sauce and fresh fruits. You may also sprinkle some toasted flax seeds.

Note – The sugar in the batter is on the lower side. Sugar burns the pancake while cooking. Serve the pancakes with chocolate sauce or honey. You may also serve with fruit preserve.

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.

Our host for the month Wendy (A Day in the Life on the Farm) wanted us to make Pancakes. Apparently, last week of February is National Pancake week. So what better way to celebrate the occasion but with some amazing pancakes from all over the world. Do check out the other pancakes made by our group.

 ·  Aebleskivers by All That's Left Are The Crumbs
·  Apam Balik by I Camp in My Kitchen
·  Bánh Xèo by Palatable Pastime
·  Blueberry Lemon Dutch Baby Pancake by Spill the Spices
·  Brazilian Tapioca Pancakes by Herbivore Cucina
·  Buckwheat Chocolate Pancakes by Ambrosia
·  Eggless Chocolate Chip Pancake by Seduce Your Tastebuds
·  German Pancake with Easy Fruit Compote by A Day in the Life on the Farm
·  Gluten Free Aebleskiver by Gayathri's Cook Spot
·  Hoppers by Mayuri’s Jikoni
·  Hotteok by Sara's Tasty Buds
·  Instant Multigrain Dosa by Sizzling Tastebuds
·  Japanese Pancakes by Karen's Kitchen Stories
·  Kuih Dadar - Bujang Dalam Selimut - Asian Stuffed Pandan Pancakes by The Schizo Chef
·  Moo Shu Pancakes by Food Lust People Love
·  Soft and Spongy Poha Dosas by Sneha's Recipe
·  Swedish Pancakes by Hostess At Heart
·  Syrniki by The Mad Scientist's Kitchen
·  Vegan Red Velvet Pancakes by Cook’s Hideout

A two-kilometer walk through the villages and fields led us to the banks of Ramganga. The air was crisp, fresh and energizing. We trudged on the fine white shimmering sand bejeweled with mica, collected driftwood and wondered at the unique patterns that time and waves carved on the stones. The majestic Ramganga was clean, clear, sparkling, babbling and burbling over the pebbled riverbed and time-worn rocks, teeming with tiny Mahseers that darted to and fro like a pack of naughty kids playing hide and seek under the stones. A bamboo raft waited for us. We got into it, two at a time. The experience of crossing river on a raft was mesmerizing. We were spellbound, the soft sound of the waves lapping on the shore, the hum of the river meandering around the valley and the raft rocking on it,   was, enchanting. 

We were quiet, savouring every sound and sight that nature had to offer here. We reached the other side of the river and walked to our destination Vanghat that would be our home in the forest for the next two days.

Next day, we started our baking session with the team. It was an experience to bake in inspiring environs. We heard a dozen bird songs as we measured flour and kneaded dough. Being in the midst of the forest, it was cold and hence we kept the dough bowls around wood-fired chullahs. While the dough proofed, we discussed the basics of baking bread with the team. 

A Black-lored Tit splashed and played in the bird bath. In the branches above a Grey Treepie gave out shrill calls and swooped down, driving the tit away. Yeasty aroma of our breakfast bread permeated the air and the first loaf came out of the oven.

Baking own bread is always a healthy option. It gives the freedom to play with grains, seeds, and flours. It also reduces carbon footprints. Love for forests, birds, nature and good food connects us to our friend and gracious host Sumantha Ghosh. We strongly believe in food that is locally grown, locally sourced, seasonal and unprocessed and thus less impacting. In-house baking is healthy and environment-friendly. In the next two days, we baked a finger millet bread and caramelized onion focaccia.

Last day started with an early morning walk. A narrow grassy dew-laden track, flanked by lantana bushes led us to the edge of the forest by the side of the river.  The air was suffused with the sweet smell of wildflowers and vegetation. We found ourselves a stone each to perch on. The river was placid. Kingfishers were busy hunting fish, a pack of langurs was leaping from one branch to another, 

A White-capped Water Redstart made rapid sallies into the water for insects, a Spotted Forktail kept hiding and emerging out from behind big boulders. 

We saw myriad butterflies in the forest, some drifted over the river lazily.

We stopped midway for breakfast. Bread was toasted on firewood collected on the way. 

Smoke-infused toasts slathered with butter with a cup of steaming tea was a heavenly experience. 

We thanked our generous host Sumantha Ghosh for the memorable stay and experience and headed back to the banks where the raft was waiting.

Breakfast Bread


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ cups warm water


  1. Whisk together first four 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 a 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 hours or until double.
  5. Punch the risen dough and knead again for 2 minutes.
  6. Grease one 8 x 4 x 4-inch loaf pan.
  7. 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 greased loaf tin with the seam side down.
  8. Cover and keep it to rise for 1 hour in a warm place or until it crests above the rim of the pan.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 30 to 35 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.
  10. Remove from the loaf tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
  11. Slice when cold.

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