baking, healthy baking, oats, savoury, vegan, wholewheat

Of seeing joy in simple things…and Wholewheat Oats Jeera(Cumin) Kasoori Methi Crackers

IMG_5750One of the ‘big’ super-special outings my son and I shared while staying in Richmond Town, was to suddenly plan a visit to Cubbon Park ( The above picture is not of Cubbon Park, but another park in Wellington 🙂 ) . The serenity of the park especially on a week-day would re-energize me while the old-world no-frills rides, the toy train, a pack of juice and hot popcorn from the vendor there would fill my son with glee.
We shifted homes some months ago and the Park became very far to go to, in a spontaneous manner. I was a little worried  about how I might explain the sudden drop in our visits to my son when he asks about it again. In addition to that when we moved homes, I was 6 months pregnant with my second baby so I wasn’t looking forward to traversing the breadth of the city.
But, explaining things like distance and traffic to a 4 year old and then seeing his disappointed face- I wasn’t looking forward to it.
Then, he woke up one morning and said “After a while can I have some juice and popcorn?” My response – “Yes you can”. His reply – “Wow, that will be just like a ‘picnic’ , like when we would go to the Cubbon Park”.
A child’s mind is like a natural receptor for picking up the positives, absorbing the fun part of each situation and moving on. The child sees joy in the simplest of things.
An adult’s mind, on the other hand, worries and worries about the negatives and mundane issues. I learnt that from my son that day.
In line with seeing joy in simple things, here is a recipe that is not only simple, but brings together warm and hearty flavours that can create a sense of winter for you, even if you live in a city that does not have winters. Like me.
Wholewheat Oats Jeera-Kasoori Methi Biscuits
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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup Oats ( Rolled)

Jeera and Kasoori Methi, as much as you prefer

Salt as per your preference

Homemade garam masala, as per your preference

Red chilly powder , as per your preference

4 tablespoons of oil + 2 / 3 tbsp of ghee ( to make a vegan version, exclude ghee and add only oil)

Warm water to bring the dough together

Method

Mix together whole wheat flour, oats( I ground them roughly), salt, jeera, kasoori methi in a big bowl.

Add the oil and ghee, into the above mix and rub into it till it turns crumby. Add only as much warm water is needed to bring the dough together. 

Preheat oven to 165 degrees Centigrade and prepare your biscuit tray. 

Roll out the dough as thin as possible. Cut out the crackers with a cookie cutter. Arrange them on the baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes till it turns crispy. Cool it off and store. 

 

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baking, gluten-free, healthy baking, millet, rice flour, savoury, Uncategorized, vegan, vegan baking

Being “Grounded” and Gluten-free, Vegan Spicy Jeera Crackers

Final picThe lady who was my house help at my previous home came to meet me a couple of days ago. We started catching up about each other’s lives – her by asking me about how I was coping up with the baby and me by asking her about whether she had found sufficient work. Somewhere along the line the conversation drifted into areas that I realized mattered to both of us, as mothers and working women – children’s education and schools, and rising house rents and inflation.

Life has a funny way of bringing back people from your past always – it’s just an amazing thing because while it’s great to be able to talk about larger complex issues to a wide audience, it’s as important to connect to someone who you can exchange ideas with on the ground level issues at hand – it keeps you grounded. It keeps you wanting to always come back to earth no matter how high you fly. 

Our link to the earth is what drives all else, no matter how widely we travel through the vast, blue skies. And on that note, here is a recipe which is earthy, uses flours and spices are more connected to our Indian taste-buds and fairly easily available locally.

1 1/2 cups Bajra / Pearl Millet flour

1/2 cup Rice flour

Salt , red chilly powder as per your taste

1 tsp of Amchoor powder

1-2 garlic pods that are mashed

2 tbsp Jeera

2 tsp homemade Biryani masala

3 tbsp oil

Hot water to bring it together.

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the oil and rub it in. Add the hot water and knead it. Cover and keep for 30 minutes to rest the dough.

Roll out the dough. Cut the shapes you want ( I used a pizza cutter for this). Roll it very thin so that they are thin and super crisp.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. And let them cool off. Store in an air tight container.

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amaranth, baking, coconut sugar, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, Uncategorized, walnut

Simple Tasks…Baked Gluten-free Date and Walnut Squares (contains no white sugar, no egg or baking powder/soda)

IMG_6258.JPGGive a child a simple task that involves some work , some fun and they can keep themselves engaged with it for such a long time. Amazing, absolutely wonderful to see it – I asked my son to help me wash, clean and dry some of the baby’s rattles and he spent over an hour doing just that. I might have done it faster – but then I wouldn’t have realised that enjoyment is far better than efficiency  And so I gave the task of mixing the flour with the dates and walnuts to my little boy when I was baking these yum squares.

Baking with Gluten-free flours is not an easy task. It takes a lot of experimenting, a lot of courage and a lot of thought process, to bake something that will be delicious and full of nutrition.

Here is the result of one such delicious baking experiment that took shape when I decided to check out the Grow Fit Gluten-free flour mix.

Chewy, intense and perfect for snacking Baked Gluten-free Date and Walnut Squares (contains no white sugar, no egg or baking powder/soda).

The Flour by itself, is Gluten-Free, Diabetes Friendly, PCOS-Friendly Thyroid-Friendly and Low-Carb. You may need to adapt the other components to ensure that the final baked squares fit in those parameters too.

Flour Link: https://getgrowfit.com/collections/essentials/products/low-carb-gluten-free-roti-flour

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Recipe –

1 1/2 cups of the Gluten-free flour ( mainly contains Bamboo Seed, Amaranth Seed, Soybean, Arrowroot, Oats, Flax Seed)

 

3/4 cups Coconut Sugar

Dates and Walnuts chopped

2 tbsp Honey

3-4 tbsp Ghee/melted butter

Mix the dates and walnuts into the flour and coat them well. Add the coconut sugar into this mix, using a whisk. Add the butter or ghee. Finally add honey to bring the dough together. Press it into a baking tin that is greased and lined with baking paper.

Bake for 15 minutes in a prebaked oven at 175 degrees C. Open it, slice it into squares while it is still soft and then put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes of baking.

Cool and remove the slices.

 

 

 

 

 

amaranth, baking, biscuits, butter-free, eggless, quinoa, savoury, Uncategorized

Playing with Soil…and Earthy flavours of the Baked Butter-free Kasoori Methi-Ajwain Matthi

I took my son to a place close to home, where the children were going to spend a couple of hours working on a patch of garden. I went with the idea of getting him to expend his energy since the summer vacations are on. As some of you might be aware, a restless 4 1/2 year old with unused energy is a different kind of person altogether !

For the first 15 minutes I simply looked on and prayed for him to remain engaged for the entire duration of 2 hours. I wondered if I had done the right thing – gardening and connecting with the soil, as well as nature are immensely therapeutic but will he want to do it again?

But as I kept watching him, my mind was whirling with thoughts….The world we live in – we have to teach our kids to play in mud, to wonder about the magical creatures living in the soil, to touch leaves without hesitation, to feel the wonder of planting a seed, to squeal with delight when a caterpillar crawls on their little hand.

And when you do that, the world we live in changes…A little each time, because we start removing the layers of indoor dust that’s settled into our own souls as well, to uncover the glistening beauty of outdoors.

That’s what nature does for us – puts us back right where we belong.

And by the end of those 2 hours, I think both of us had been put back where we belong – more me, than him. Because for a child, it is so much easier to sense that belonging. But for a jaded adult, it takes a while to revisit the deep recesses of the soul, scrape off the dirt and uncover the roots.

On that note, let me share something that is earthy in flavour and contains ancient grains.

Grow Fit has some excellent flour mixes and the first one “Ancient Grain Low Carb Atta” that I tried has yielded excellent results. I was very excited to try it in both, savoury and sweet bakes.

It is diabetic-friendly, PCOS-friendly, Low Carb and High Protein, containing Quinoa and Amaranth.

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What I baked with it ( also eggless, bp/bs free) –
1. Kasoori Methi- Ajwain Matthi / Mathri ( butter-free)
2. Chocolate Almond Cookies

They turned out so crisp and crunchy in texture, that I am looking forward to baking many more things with this flour super soon.

Flour Link –
https://getgrowfit.com/…/produc…/ancient-grain-low-carb-atta

Baked Kasoori Methi- Ajwain Matthi / Mathri ( butter-free)

1 cup of the Low-Carb Flour, Ancient Grain

Kasoori Methi and Ajwain as per your taste preference

2-3 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp red chilly powder, 1-2 tsp homemade garam masala

3-4 tbsp oil

Hot water for kneading

Mix all the dry ingredients well. Add the oil and mix with hand. Use hot water a bit at a time and then mix well. Knead it well and leave it side for 10 minutes. Shape it into rounds and bake at 180 degrees C, for 20 minutes or until crisp.

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And talking about the earth brings me to my recipe.

almond, butter-free, cake, gluten-free

Be Proud…Mace and Saffron flavoured Italian Rice cake – with Almonds (butterless, no all purpose flour , made with Arborio rice)

Mace & Saffron Infused Italian Rice Cake with AlmondsFestive season is approaching and so are the advertisements about what to gift, why this time of the year is special and very importantly – how you need to look your absolute best. Seriously?

Recently I saw an ad, in which a mother is talking about how her child loves to pull her cheeks and after using a certain product the child has been telling her how soft her cheeks have become. My son saw it and promptly asked me – “Do you want me to get that for you Mamma?” He is 4 1/2 years old. I looked at him and asked if he didn’t like my cheeks as is ! He looked amused and responded that they were already soft, but if I wanted them to become even softer, like the Aunty on TV.

Well, where am I going with this ? Here’s my take – we really need to stop such emphasis on physical appearance. And let us stop when we can. Let us draw lines. Let us define boundaries on this one. To not encourage our children when they feel the need to appreciate what we look like. Yes, I want to be well-dressed and looking my absolute best. But I would not want my child to focus on how I can “improve” my physical appearance.

At some base level, it is imperative that a child knows and understands that softer cheeks are good. Infact they are great. But only if one already has them 🙂 Shift the direction of their thoughts to being proud of what you look like already. That will promote a positive body image in them as well.

Bring the festivities on , on that note ! And bake away – a recipe that closely resembles elements of our traditional kheer / rice pudding !

Mace and Saffron flavoured Italian Rice cake – with Almonds ( butterless, no all purpose flour , made with Arborio rice)

600 ml milk

1 tsp zest of lemon

150 grams of risotto rice ( preferably Arborio)

100 gms chopped almonds ( you can use any other nuts that you prefer but those which will go well with this flavour are alnuts, pinenuts, pistachios as well)

3 eggs, separated

85 grams caster sugar

1 tsp finely powder Mace

1 tsp saffron threads ( soaked in 1 tsp milk)

Cook the rice in the milk and the lemon zest till it is cooked well and soft. This should take about 40 minutes and the mixture will be creamy and thick. While it cooks ensure that you stir it well so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Shift this mix into a bowl to cool off well. Prepare a 9 inch springform cake tin by greasing and lining it. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius. Toast the chopped almonds in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Beat the egg yolks one by one into the rice mixture using the whisk or wooden spoon.  Beat the caster sugar into this mix and add the chopped almonds, saffron threads soaked in milk and the powdered mace.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and gently fold them into the rice mixture. Put this final mixture into the prepared springform cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin and then cover it and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Unmould the cake and remove the lining when you want to serve it the next day and dust with icing sugar. Slice and serve.

KD2

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

Healthy baking exists….and a delicious Wholewheat Apple-Coconut cake ( with coconut sugar)

IMG_6000I had started this post on a separate note. Then something prompted me to re-write it. So here goes…

About evolving times but stagnating taste buds. About oscillating between wellness and rules. Some of the views that I hear as a healthy baker are – 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.

And in my mind – all I am thinking is, 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.

Yes, healthy bakes are an acquired taste, it does not happen overnight, it comes to us slowly. But it only comes to those who approach it with an open mind. Have you given yourself enough opportunities to open your mind? Forget a big change, just try this to start with – instead of beginning with a thought that it can’t taste delicious, tell yourself that it will taste different.  Possible?

Let’s just try and remember that when the world evolves at the pace that it is now, everything has a disruption which leads to the next phase of growth- The same is happening with rule-based baking. We owe it to our family and friends to bake with healthier ingredients, because our lifestyles and the quality of what we are consuming has changed. 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 ?

Start with this simple healthy cake – take it one step at a time 🙂

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Wholewheat Apple-Coconut Cake ( with coconut sugar)

1 1/2 cups wholewheat flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2-3 tbsp honey

1 tsp grated cinnamon powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 large apple peeled, cored, grated

1/2 cup grated coconut

3 eggs

100 gms butter

Chopped almonds

Method

Preheat the oven at 170 C. Grease and dust a 7 X 7 inches square pan. Beat the butter, coconut sugar and honey well till it becomes creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift the flour, bp and cinnamon together. Add it slowly to the batter while beating at low speed.

Fold in the apple, coconut and almonds gently. No beating is needed at this stage. Pour it into the tin. Bake at the same temperature for 45 minutes or till it becomes golden brown.

Remove from the oven, let it cool off entirely before de-moulding.