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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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.

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.

 

 

baking, eggless, flourless, gluten-free, healthy baking, savoury, vegan, vegan baking

Leftovers and Baked Sprouted Moong Dal in Coconut Milk ( Oil & Butter free)

Zero-fat Sprouted Moong Dal in Coconut Milk (2)

Leftovers – As mothers we know all about leftovers, whether it is food or memories. For both these, we have an inherent quality – of how to innovate and create magic by meshing things that might be so different that putting them together seems impossible 🙂 Not only that, they also know how to cherish it, how not to not waste – whether it is food or memories.

Different elements of leftover food come together in our kitchens regularly just as we weave a pattern from diverse memories to create something to hold dear in our twilight years. So hold onto those leftovers – whether it is food or memories, conserve and recreate them. Because both form the foundation of what we call “living” .

Why am I talking about leftovers today ? Because what I baked is not even a proper well-defined dish, but just a one-pot healthy bake that came about because I had some portions leftover from other things that I had made.

 

Baked Sprouted Moong Dal in Coconut Milk ( Oil / Butter free ) 

Recipe –

1 cup sprouted green moong dal

1 1/2 cups coconut milk, homemade

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 tomato, 1/4 onion, 2 garlic cloves, small piece of ginger – chop and grind well into a paste.

1 small piece of cinnamon

Salt as per your preference

2 tbsp Malvani masala , homemade

1 tbsp Grated coconut ( optional)

Method –

Put the coconut milk, sprouted green moong/gram dal and warm water into an oven-safe dish. Bake them in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, at 170-180 degrees Celsius. Take it out. Add the paste made with tomato, onion, garlic and ginger to it and mix well. Add the cinnamon, malvani masala and salt, and the grated coconut.

Put it back into the oven. Bake for another 40 minutes at the same temperature.

Take it out and serve hot.

 

butter-free, dairy-free, eggless, healthy baking, rice flour, savoury, vegan, wholewheat

Shifting Lives and Zero-Fat Vegan Baked Spinach Wholewheat Sticks with Black Sesame and Chives

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How would you sum up 11 months of stay in a place – moved in, settled in, moved out ? That’s pretty much the way I would have thought probably a decade ago. But today it seems like even in those short 11 months, one can fit in so much into one’s life in a place.

It starts with being unfamiliar and you yearn for your earlier comfort zone.

It goes into a resigned kind of acceptance of what you have currently and even if its different, you can live with it.

It changes to looking at the goodness that is present in parts of it, and which you probably overlooked before.

It moves to liking the place, forming a few relationships and getting involved with the community.

It escalates into enjoying your stay there, waiting to see the neighbourhood dog who wags her tail, the same children cycling around each day, the same help who cleans the apartment, the same person in the flat above who you havent had a chance to know by name yet but who smiles at you each time.

And then you pack and move on.

Such is life. That fragile. That ever-changing. That is how it shifts, it moves and changes shape each day for us. We wait for it to “settle” into a routine. But of course, it has its own plans.

So here is a quick, simple and versatile recipe which is simple to life in all those qualities-

Zero-Fat Vegan Baked Spinach Wholewheat Sticks with Black Sesame and Chives

1 cup wholewheat

1 tbsp of rice flour

1 cup boiled and pureed spinach ( I added ½ a green chilly, 2-3 cloves of garlic and a little chopped coriander to it while pureeing)

3-4 tbsp chopped chives

2-3 tbsp black sesame

1 tbsp white pepper

Salt as per requirement ( I used rock salt)

Add some warm water to make the dough pliable.

 

Mix all the above dry ingredients well. Then add the spinach puree and the warm water ( if needed). Cling wrap it and store it in the fridge for about an hour.

Take it out, roll it into a rectangle, use a sharp knife to cut long strips/sticks. Place them onto a baking tray which is lightly greased. Sprinkle some chives and black sesame. Bake in a pre-heated oven ( preheat for 10 minutes) at 175 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes. You need to turn the sticks around mid way. Allow it to cool entirely for it to become crisp.

Zero-Fat Baked Spinach Wholewheat Sticks with Black Sesame and Chives

 

baking, healthy baking, savoury, vegan, vegan baking

Dusting away hesitation & Baking Zero-Fat Vegan Soya and Chana Dal Cutlets

 

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Last night as I was getting my 4 year old son to sleep, as usual he had some questions that he needed answers before he decided that it was time to sleep off 🙂

We were speaking about how he loves to swimming and that there was a pool close to our home that he wanted to go to. The first question he asked me was “Will I go in the big pool or the small one when I go there?” My response was what it usually is “Whichever one you want to go to first and then to the other one as well” .

While I was responding to his queries my mind was a little preoccupied with some things I wanted to undertake and an internal confusion prevailed over whether I would be able to manage those or not.

His next question shook me out of my thoughts in ways I had not imagined – “So Mamma, anything is possible for me-any pool ?” As a parent there are so many times when you are deeply uncertain about yourself or what you want to pursue and the what-ifs around that. But when your child asks you that question and you look into his soul through his eyes you will always, always smile back and say “Anything is possible for you, any pool, little one”.

And when I said those words to him, I really felt I was talking to myself – telling myself yet again, that its time to wipe off the dust that comes from one’s hesitation and raise the bar of one’s self-belief.

On that note, sharing a recipe that is close to my heart and I find comforting in such perplexing times- because it is pretty much like I am as a person : No-frills, put together with different textures but in the least amount of time and yet an improvisation of the ingredients at hand, so that they do not get wasted. Its also special because it contains the Biryani Masala ( spicemix) that my Nani , maternal grandmother makes. She makes it with a lot of care and love, and I thoroughly enjoy using it in different dishes.

Zero-Fat Baked Soya and Chana Dal Cutlets 

Recipe

1 cup boiled soya ( I used nuggets)
½ cup chana dal, partially boiled
1 tsp freshly grated ginger and garlic paste
Salt as per your preference
1 tbsp biryani masala
Chopped coriander

Grind all the above together into a rough paste ( not too smooth). If you find it has too much moisture, add a tbsp of sooji/semolina.

Make small discs, place them on a lightly greased baking tray and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes. Midway you need to flip all the cutlets to the other side.

Biryani masala –

On a tawa lightly roast till the aroma starts coming off the tawa- 2 tbsp saunf/fennel seeds, 1 tbsp jeera seeds, 1 tbsp dhaniya seeds, ½ tbsp black peppercorns, 2-3 big elaichi, 2-3 small elaichi, 3-4 cloves, a small piece of cinnamon. Dry grind in a grinder all the above once it is cooled off after dry roasting. This powder can be made and kept in a bottle.

 

quiche, savoury, tart, Uncategorized, wholewheat

Ovenderful Healthy Baking OpenOut

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I chanced upon OpenOut’s page when I was browsing through some information about events in Bangalore – not the run-off-the mill and done-to-death variety. But something unique that connects with what I enjoy doing and sharing information about – Healthy Baking. To add to that, after experiencing so many occassions to share this, I have come to the conclusion that sharing it with  a small and deeply engaged set of people, is far better than talking to a wide but only partially interested audience.

15027797_669297166582163_2752337623110773124_nSo I spoke to Arun, who is the Founder of OpenOut and after some discussions, I knew I was ready to host an OpenOut at home – the broad theme was Healthy Baking, there would be 8-9 individuals who will be a part of it and I will be baking a healthy brunch of 8 dishes inspired from flavours across India.

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And what a lovely event it was – to be able to meet new people personally in a world that centers around virtual friendships, to be able to bake for them just as you would for your own family and friends, and to be able to find so many diverse and lively conversations that you still smile about when you recall them! That’s what made this such a special gathering of amazing people 🙂

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For those who want to see all the pictures please check them out on the OpenOut FB page

All the pictures shared here are also credited to OpenOut and AJ Photoartist/Ajay Menon.

( https://www.facebook.com/pg/OpenOut.exp/photos/?tab=album&album_id=669296499915563)

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Below are the dishes and a brief description and I will be sharing the recipe of the first one which is the Malvani Chicken Curry Quiche.

Malvani Chicken Curry Quiche – West
Malvani flavours are reflective of a spice mix that is common across the Western coastal area of India. It has a distinct taste and this quiche brings out that, with chicken flavoured with homemade Malvani spice.The quiche pastry crust is healthy and made with wholewheat.
Baked Rajma Wholewheat Wraps – North
Rajma chawal is every North Indian’s staple lunch option ! The garam masala and warm spice mix makes it a treat to eat. The wholewheat wraps are filled with this yummy goodness that is reminiscent of the North.
Vegetarian Baked Goshtaba – North
This is a dish from Kashmir and usually made with minced meat and is fried. But the vegetarian one is as delicious because it includes the same flavours and healthier because it is baked with minimal oil. The balls are made of Soya, Mint, Chana Dal and Curd.
“Ragda Pattice” Bake ( A Chickpea-Potato based Rice Bake) – West
This yummy street food is an integral part of Mumbai. The crisp Potato Patty topped with chickpea / chana gravy to make it a delicious meal in itself. Here is my take on making it a complete meal by including rice into it and replicating the actual flavour.
Baked Begun Bhaja ( Brinjals – East
This is a delicious appetizer from West Bengal made with Brinjal and fried to perfection with the spice mix and mustard. To keep it healthy, here is a baked version which allows the brinjal slices to absorb the flavours and retain them even in the baked form.
 
Wholewheat Flatbread topped with Kadale Bele Chutney and Roasted Peanuts – South
One of the most delicious chutneys from the South of India takes a new form. It is the Kadale Bele chutney which is filled with flavours of Chana Dal and fresh coconut, along with a twist of oven roasted peanuts, on a crisp flatbread made of wheat.
Coconut Cream Tart in a Dark-Chocolate Ragi Crust – South
Tarts are usually shortcrust pasty which encase a sweet filling – here is an usual one for you to try out, using ragi and coconut , which are staples of the Southern region of India and mesh together beautifully !
Baked Phirni with Saffron and Jaggery – North
A delectable rice pudding from the North of India made healthier with the baking process and jaggery – it is almost entirely free of Ghee/Butter/Oil except for 1 small tablespoon of it ! So enjoy it guilt-free !

 

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Malvani Chicken Curry Quiche 

  • Crust Pastry ingredients –
  • 2 1/2 cups Wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup cold butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp homemade Malvani spice mix
  • 3-4 tbsp of cold water

Filling Ingredients –

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup sliced Onions which have been caramelized
  • 2 – 3 tsp of Salt
  • 3 tsp of homemade Malvani spice mix
  • 2 cups of Chicken that has been boiled, sliced and lightly sauted in a tsp of oil, crushed garlic, 1 tsp of salt , 1 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp of the homemade Malvani spice mix.
  • 1/4 cup of chopped capsicum

Method

    1. For the crust- Put the flour in a bowl, Malvani spice mix and add salt and garlic powder.
    2. Rub the butter cubes slowly into the flour till it resembles bread crumbs. Do not knead it, if you want a flaky pastry !
    3. Add cold water, 1 tbsp at a time and your dough should come together.
    4. Place the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes
    5. Take it out after that and roll it out onto a cling film sheet
    6. Place it into a tart pan and prick it with fork.
    7. Blind bake it for 20 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius.
    8. For the Filling – In a pan, sautĂ© the sliced onions and caramelize them.
    9. Add the chopped capsicum and precooked chicken turn by turn.
    10. Take the pre baked tart-shell and line the base with grated cheese, caramelized onions and chicken pieces.
    11. In a mixing bowl, put the eggs and milk, as well as the seasoning. Mix well.
    12. Pour this mix into the tart.
    13. Bake the quiche at 170 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes and serve hot !