baking, cake, healthy baking, semolina, wholewheat

Football Buddies and Semolina Orange/Kinu Cupcakes

There is a moment of calm at the point where a super tiring day ends and a sleepless night begins – that moment is this picture for me. Football buddies don’t need to have the same shoes or shoes at all. They don’t need to speak the same language. They don’t need to wear similar clothes. They don’t need to carry where they come from to the field – they need to simply carry who they are. They only need to have the same passion. They only need to discover the sense of rhythm, that works for them and their game. And that is the game that is in play, with a great sense of concentration between the two boys – the one of the right is my son, the one on the left is the little boy we met at Richmond Park, when we were playing there.

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On that note of carrying who they are from within, here is one fruit that carries its depth of flavours in all bakes – Orange.

I did a batch of Semolina/Sooji Cupcakes with Kinu, which is a variant of orange but more intense in flavour:)

Here is the recipe for you to try out.

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  • 100 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind/orange rind
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups semolina
  • 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • add a little vanilla extract
  • For the Kinu syrup (check the sugar in the syrup to ensure that when combined with the cupcakes it does not become excessively sweet) 1/4-1/2 cup caster sugar Almost 1/2 cup lemon or kinu juice, strained

Procedure –

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line cupcake tray with liners.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, orange rind and sugar on high speed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating between each addition.
  3. Stir in semolina, ww flour and milk.
  4. Spread mixture into cupcake liners. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile, make the kinu syrup: Place sugar, kinu juice and a little cold water in a saucepan over low heat.
  6. Pour half the syrup over cupcakes by make tiny insertions to allow it to get absorbed. Let it stand for about 15 minutes and then serve.

 

 

 

baking, biscuits, cane sugar, chocolate, coconut sugar, cookies, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, liquid jaggery, vegan, vegan baking

The Sounds of the Night and Eggless Gluten-Free Ragi Amaranth Chocolate Biscuits ( Vegan version also)

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It’s 3 weeks since we welcomed our second baby into this world – our little girl.
As it is with newborns – the erratic pattern that sets in with their arrival , seems to be overwhelming at first. You start taking it a day at a time. Then you tell yourself that as a second time mom you are seasoned and will handle it with ease.  Much to your shock you realize that each baby is different ( yes, everyone might say it to you but it’s only when it happens that you realize it )  and while you might be able to handle it a bit better, you still tend to struggle with a lot of the basics.
Then you calm yourself down.  Your mind makes the effort to find the high points in seemingly crazy days that flow so rapidly and fluidly into each other, that you stop seeing the calendar.
I have found those moments of re-connecting with the positive elements around me, in the middle of the nights that I am spending awake. Since those times always seems to go by slowly  in order to bring some calmness to one’s tired soul I have rediscovered the sounds and sights of the night – the sky at 3 AM, the moth flitting under the dim night lamp , the rotating fan’s monotonous and comforting sound, the slight drizzle that falls on the road beyond the curtains, the occasional dog barking up a storm, the quiet breathing of my other child sleeping.  Nothing can break that rhythm of the night sounds – and that is the peace that every new mother clings to, as she remains awake with her newborn baby and manages a slight smile.
The darkness of the night always reminds me of one of the flours I discovered when I moved to Bangalore 5 years ago – Ragi. Apart from being highly nutritious, I realized that being a naturally gluten-free flour it lends itself to so many recipes. So I tried using it along with Amaranth seeds in a biscuit recipe. And these beautifully flavoursome bites emerged as a result of the experiment.
Gluten-Free Eggless Ragi Amaranth Chocolate Biscuits

1 cup organic ragi flour

½ cup amaranth seeds

½ cup organic cane or coconut sugar

100 gms unsalted butter ( for vegan version use peanut / apple butter or oil – texture will change)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp organic liquid jaggery

Add the dry ingredients together and whisk them well. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients and add the liquid jaggery. Mix well and keep in the fridge overnight after cling wrapping.

Shape them into cookies, place them onto a greased tray and bake at 170 degrees C for 20 minutes, in a preheated oven.

 

baking, butter-free, healthy baking, savoury

Second pregnancy & Zero-Fat No-Flour Baked Chicken Cutlet

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How does your second pregnancy feel different emotionally from your first one? I have never asked that question to anyone, but I did ask myself.

And the responses from within were mixed, confusing, unclear –

Because as you get ready to welcome your second baby, you also look at your first one, with a lot of pride and that twinge of regret about them having grown up so fast.

Because as you wonder about managing two children, you yet again look at your first one, and feel yourself slipping in and out of the role of a mother, and a confidante ( I don’t know if this will be the case in some years, but at 4 1/2 years of age, they still feel comfortable confiding in you 🙂 

Because you know ( for sure this time !) that life has changed irrevocably and will never ever be the same, and then you look at your first one, to realize with even more incredulity about how you held onto your belief that life will have some semblance to what it was in your pre-baby days !

Because you longingly pat your tummy as you wait for the second one’s arrival, with the same longing in your soul to turn your first one back into a baby in your lap…

Because you speak those words of love to your second baby, to welcome them into your family, and the same love spills out of your eyes when you watch your first one pretending to be fearless and yet look out for your hand before crossing the road…

On that special note, I wanted to share one of the bakes that my first baby loves and I make many versions of.

Zero-Fat No-Flour Baked Chicken Cutlet – With White Pepper, Coriander, Garlic

Ingredients –
250 gms chicken mince
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 small sprigs of fresh coriander
Salt as per your taste
2-3 tsp of freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp paprika powder
A handful of boiled peas
A slice of wholewheat bread if needed to absorb excess moisture in the mixture
Some sooji / semolina for coating

Method –
Some people prefer to use the mince as is. But I like to partially cook it in cinnamon for added flavour and then use. So just half-cook the mince with 1 small stick of cinnamon.

Then remove the stick, add the mince plus garlic cloves and onion in a food processor to grind it ( I don’t prefer a very smooth paste, so I leave it a little chunky).

Add the green peas, coriander, white pepper, paprika powder and salt one at a time to the mix and mix well.

If the mixture feels like it has too much moisture you can add some crumbs of wholewheat bread, else leave it as it into the fridge for an hour or so.

Take it out of the fridge, shape it into cutlets, coat it lightly with very fine sooji / semolina and place it on a greased baking tray. Bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes each side, at 180 degrees C and they are ready!

 

My tip – use freshly ground white pepper. The flavour is amazing.

I have done the same version with soya before for a friend whose vegetarian. Also used sooji for the coating.

 

For a vegetarian version, use soya ( granules or nuggets) cooked the same way. It gives a similar texture to the cutlet. If you don’t want to use sooji since it might make the cutlet seem dry, you can use wholewheat bread crumbs.

 

 

almond, baking, butter-free, cake, cane sugar, chocolate, eggless, healthy baking, wholewheat

Uncharted adventures, not milestones..and a Wholewheat Eggless, Butter-free Chocolate Almond Cake

This is not a regular Mother’s Day post – I am using this post to simply share my thoughts again – thoughts that I shared when my son ( and I !) turned 6 months old.
More than anything else – what is exactly the same as I re-read this piece from May 2013, is that my little boy is still an adventurer and his mother is still discovering the little joys of uncharted adventures, not milestones !
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From May 2013
“We both turned 6 months old recently, my son…and it surely has been an adventure – from that night of 18th November when you decided to give us indications of your arrival up until now at 11.30 PM when I am sitting and writing this, as you suddenly discover that you want to play with the rattle into the midnight!  Right from that moment I should have known that my baby was an adventurer at heart !

As a mother, let me share with you that it has been a very crazy yet happy half-year: filled with many worried nights, many days of undiluted joy, lots of second guessing myself as a mother and frustrations, of trying to weigh mother’s instinct against experience and expertise, of trying to wonder how does one need to behave when one becomes a mother..but most definitely a half-year with not a single dull moment in it.

But you know what – Thank you for being patient and waiting for me to grow into my role as your Mom…sometimes

I look at you and it seems to me that you understand what I say, you understand when I say I have two other babies –Gunna Masi and Elsu, and smile back. You understand when I say I won’t pamper you silly, but that doesn’t make me love you any less.

Most importantly you understand that seeing how you do on well-defined milestones is not for your mother, for they seem like a checklist to tick on….it is the uncharted adventures that are for me…

Like our first flight together alone means more than when you first rolled over, or our first road trip, our first visit to the children’s home, how you and Elsa started growing comfortable with each other’s presence or even our daily debates about why sleeping in the night takes precedence over playing away!

So here’s not to more milestones…but to more ADVENTURES, my son ! The adventurous journey that started when I became a mother..”

 

Sharing a recipe that marks the first break that I am taking from baking on order, as the Chief Baker of Ovenderful, ever since it started in November 2013.

Wholewheat Butter-free Egg-Free Chocolate Almond Cake 

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Ingredients

1 cup wholewheat flour

3/4 cup cane sugar

½ cup curd

½ cup milk

½ cup boiling water

¼ cup any flavourless oil that is safe for baking

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( use great quality cocoa powder, it makes a world of difference)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate chunks

1/2 cup chopped almonds and some additional for topping the cake with

Method

Grease and dust an 7/8 inch round cake tin. I used a springform one, but it is not necessary to use only that one. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Sift together the wholewheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder .

Beat the curd, cane sugar, oil and milk. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ones and mix well.

Slowly add boiling water and mix well ( just use a whisk, no need to beat it) to get a smooth batter. Add the chopped almonds and dark chocolate chunks, fold them into the batter gently. Pour in the baking tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Let it cool off entirely before you remove it from the tin.

apple, barley flour, coconut sugar, eggless, healthy baking, oats, pie

4/11 City- Cologne/Koln, 4/11 Healthy Bake: German Apple Pie in a Barley-Oats Crust

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Cologne / Koln, November 2008: the only thing I knew about it was that this was the first European city I was going to visit, it sounded exotic and I was going to be attending a conference by Chemicals organizations there. That was it.

Strange as it may sound, my excitement was centered around meeting my colleagues from the US, South America and Europe.  Not around the city. It is not that I was under-estimating the loveliness of the city. It was just that at that time in my life, I thought work should be an all-consuming part of one’s life.

I am one of those people whose senses are more heightened after a sleepless night!

And so driving into Cologne immediately after landing at Frankfurt, was probably what made me absorb the gorgeous beauty of the city – there were streets that were actually cobbled and people strolling in a leisurely manner with little dogs on the side-walks in the middle of a busy week-day !  At the heart of the city towering above all else was the Cologne Cathedral – not only is it a resplendent architectural wonder, since it stands next to the river the entire picture is a sight to watch, almost like a painting.

I walked through the city since that is what the hotel staff suggested and I would recommend that to everyone – it is the only way to absorb the sights and sounds. But seeing the quaint ( and quite modern too!) trams go past, was enough to tempt me to climb into one of them for a short ride. It seems to be a common form of transport through the city and it took me back to the time I used to take tram rides in Calcutta.

In a short 2 day work visit, this was all I could manage, but the city’s charm is irresistible-it lies somewhere between being a small city to a large town, steeped in German tradition and yet somewhat welcoming towards those like me who wandered through it before moving onto other places.

So for a city as multi-layered as Cologne, the German Apple Pie, a comforting bake with complex flavours is what comes to mind 🙂

I tried it on one of my walks and this is my healthier version of it in a buttery Barley-Oats crust with a delicious apple-cinnamon filling, topped with caramel sauce and baked. It is entirely free of refined white flour/all purpose flour and the sauce uses coconut sugar.

Ingredients –

  • 3 large apples, peeled, sliced and stewed with 2 tsp of freshly grated cinnamon, in 1 1/2 cups of water.
  • For the crust – 1 cup barley flour, 1/2 cup powdered oats, 1/2 cup wholewheat flour, 100 grams butter. Rub the cold butter into the flour mix, cling wrap it and keep it in the fridge for at least 5 hours. Blind bake the crust at 180 degrees C just before making the pie, for 20-25 minutes.
  •  For the caramel sauce – 1 tbsp barley flour, 3 tbsp coconut sugar and 20 gms butter. Plus the liquid from the stewed apples.  Melt the butter, add the sugar and stir it well till it caramelizes. Add the flour while stirring well so that it doesnt become lumpy. Finally add the liquid that is drained out from the stewed apples.

Method –

If the above three elements are ready, the method is just about assembling them and baking. So layer the baked crust with sliced stewed apples.

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To use

Pour the sauce uniformly and then place the pie into the oven to bake for 30 minutes, at 180 degrees C.

Serve warm as is or with ice cream !

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almond, apple, baking, cake, coconut, coconut sugar, healthy baking, wholewheat

Healthy Baking exists and a delicious Wholewheat Apple – Coconut cake(with coconut sugar)

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I had started this post on another note. But then something prompted me to rewrite it in another way, to share a perspective – about different kinds of opinions,  about breaking internal barriers, about evolving times and then some more.

It’s interesting to hear many schools of thought from various bakers – how healthy baking is a fad or what we consume through our traditional bakes is not harmful or even better, there is nothing called healthy baking.

Has happened to me as well – healthy bakes are an acquired taste, they come to you over a period of time. Have you given it that time ? As I think back to my own approach, I know I can say this with absolute conviction – even the best of us can sometimes get trapped in the confines of our own minds, get tricked by our own taste buds, get slowed down by our own lack of courage.

But what if, just what if we opened the window of our mind a wee bit – If we simply make a small change? Instead of beginning with the mindset that they can’t be yum, let’s just re-align our minds to understand that they will be different. That’s it. You have taken the most important step.

 

Because you know what – closed minds will always lead to redundancies – no matter what area of work or passion you follow. Because the world is evolving and if we keep following rule-based baking and do not experiment with healthier ingredients, guess who loses – our family and friends, because they deserve healthier options and as the bakers it is our responsibility to make that change. Yes rules are good, but work with rules in a way that you put your wellness first and rules second. Not the other way round:)

So what’s YOUR next step ?

Blame it on your present lifestyle? You may have done that already.
Change food habits to suit present lifestyle – Have you done this yet?

Assure yourself of how we have grown up with these ingredients? You may have done that already.

Tell yourself that what you eat as you ‘grow older’ should change too –– Have you done this yet?

Oh but you eat all that stuff only of special occasions –You may have done that already.

Oh but you love your tea biscuits daily, so should you change that-– Have you done this yet?

So here’s a recipe to ease you into Healthy Baking (it does exist!)

Wholewheat Apple-Coconut Cake

1 1/2 cups of wholewheat flour

1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

1 large apple, peeled and grated

1/2 cup of grated fresh coconut

1/2 cup of coconut sugar

2-3 tbsp of honey

3 eggs

100 grams butter

1 tsp of cinnamon ( freshly grated)

Almonds ( chopped)

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Method – 

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C.

Sift wholewheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder and keep aside. Grease and dust a 7×7 square pan.

Mix the butter, honey and coconut sugar with a whisk first then beat them well so that it becomes creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.

Add the sifted flour-bp-cinnamon mix into the tin. Lastly fold the grated apple, coconut and almonds into the batter gently. No need to beat at this stage.

Transfer it into the tin, bake at 170 C for 45 minutes, until it becomes golden brown. Cool it well before de-moulding it.