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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almond, baking, biscuits, cane sugar, cookies, healthy baking, jowar, Uncategorized

Christmas Baking Story 2 & Wholewheat Jowar Apricot & Almond Cookies

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What does a child want ? Nothing in the world will be a perfect answer to that question. You will think it will be the “bigger” things – love, security, appreciation, family, education. You will also think that it could be the “smaller” things – toys, chocolates, candies, shoes, clothes.

Well, I am not an expert on understanding children and their psychology, but I think often we overlook the fact that perhaps, just perhaps, a child wants things that are not categorized, things that cannot be slotted into any form of definition.

Could it be a fleeting moment of joy when they see their friends after a school break? Could it be the chance to savour a few minutes of having the slide at the park, just to themselves ? Could it be the thrill of hearing their voices fill up a festive song ? Could it be the anxious anticipation of few seconds from when the school gets over till when they actually see their mother/father across the gate to pick them up ?

Why is my post talking about this ? It is because when I visited Ashraya Initiative for Children( a picture from that visit is shared above), an NGO that works with 200 slum children, with the Pune bakers in December 2016 as part of the “Bake a Sunshine Cake” initiative, I found myself reflecting about what are the things that bring such a warm smile on the faces of children living in abject poverty and why we adults are not able to muster up a smile despite the comfort we live in…

The only answer that connected with me was – because they keep it simple. It is that easy to be happy ! And so simplicity is the approach that I always follow when it comes to my healthy bakes. Presenting one such simple bake here for you to put together easily – Wholewheat Jowar Apricot Almond Cookies.

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Ingredients – 

  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 3/4 cup jowar flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method –

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Mix together the flours, almonds and apricots.

Beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg, beating until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mix slowly and mix without over-beating.

Scoop the dough using a spoon and drop them onto the baking tray, 2 inches apart. Add a chopped almond and apricot on top, and bake them for 15 minutes.

Cool them off and store in air tight containers.

 

baking, biscuits, cane sugar, eggless, healthy baking, jowar, wholewheat

Christmas Baking Stories -1 :Spiced Wholewheat and Jowar Shortbread

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#BakeaSunshineCake, by the Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community is yet again making it a December to Remember, for the 2nd year in a row. Christmas is truly here early in many parts of Bangalore and the US 🙂  Here is a little story from one of those parts – a quiet and serene old age home in Whitefield Bangalore.
A deep sense of poignancy and dejavu hit me the moment we started walking through the gates of Cheshire Old Age Home. Because around the same time last December ( 2015), we had walked into it for the first time – hoping to spread a little bit of warmth and take back a lot of memories. This year was as special as the first – the young ( our children) and the old ( the ladies at the home) met each other and connected instantly, the Christmas carols reverberated through the walls of the home and for a few hours , life became magical for us, the volunteer bakers as it possibly did for the ladies at the old age home.
On my way back from the visit, my son decided to sleep off. And that left me alone with my thoughts – And these were the only ones that kept playing on my mind.
I was thankful…..
For still being able to cry when something moves me.
For not accepting everything that is sad around us as ‘reality of life’.
For being able to know when to move on and when to wait a while.
For still being able to smile instantly on hearing an old friend’s voice.
For being able to wake up with a mind full of ideas.
For being able to sleep with tired feet and plans for next day.
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Spiced Wholewheat and Jowar Shortbread

  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1  cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup jowar flour
  • 1/4 cup demerara sugar
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Method – Cream the butter and sugars together till it is light and fluffy. Sift the flours together with the ginger and nutmeg. Add it slowly to the sugar-butter mix and mix well. Wrap it well in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Take it out and press it into a greased flat baking tray. Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Place the tray in the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes and then take it out. Use a sharp knife to cut the rectangle shapes on the tray itself.Bake it again for 15 minutes after doing that and then remove them from the tray to cool off and store.

 

butter-free, healthy baking, jowar, rice flour, Uncategorized

3/11 City- Florence/Firenze, 3/11 Healthy Bake: Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina

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I am not a painter, not one by a far stretch of imagination. My mother’s committed efforts to have a drawing and painting teacher come home and teach us regularly, given her own creative inclination did not yield much result. I can claim to have made one painting at the end of our learning phase. Yes, I could draw to some extent – drawings of science experiments for my school files.

So given my painting skills one would think it strange that one of the things I thoroughly enjoy is exploring museums with paintings by painters, historical monuments and churches, and sculptures made by artists of a bygone era. So a city like Florence is a dream for me – because it has everything that one envisions as a person who loves history and art ( as an observer). The cobbled streets, the eclectic mix of street-side sculptures, the imposing Duomo wherein resides Michael Angelo’s masterpiece, the people from different walks of life, the winding roads that you can climb up and down as you gaze at the city below you.

Florence or Firenze as it is called in Italian, made it to my Top 3 favourite cities right from the moment I stepped in. And despite the fact that it was 7 years ago and I havent had a chance to revisit, it has held its place in my heart – because while some cities flaunt their art and past artists unabashedly, thus enticing tourists from across the world to come over, there are a few rare cities that stand in quiet dignity because the calibre and depth of what they hold does not need a mass of tourists. It needs a discerning and involved traveller:) And Florence is one of those.

So from the heart of Florence, as a tribute to its beauty is my bake – the Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina, which is essentially a Florentine Sponge Cake, but a healthier version of it. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 Jowar Flour
  • 1/2 Rice Flour
  • 1/2 All purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 4 tablespoons oil

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter your  baking pan or you can choose to bake them as small cupcakes like me.

Add flours, sugar, baking powder, the juice, zest,milk, eggs and oil. Beat with a mixer until thoroughly mixed together.  

Add the batter to the pan or the cupcake liners and bake for about 30 minutes or until it is completely baked ( I added some almonds as an after-thought, so you can do that if you want as well)

Cool it and serve.