Easy Home Made Granola

It's so easy.

Its so easy.

Walking down the aisle, I battled with all the choices given to me. We are being spoilt and confused was my constant refrain. The shelves looked so perfectly tabulated and full with these gorgeous boxes of cereal.
Sigh! ‘They do it purposely’, was my grumble while I placed the box back precariously. Well, the shopping was taking more time than necessary, and I was in no mood to loiter. So off I went, billed my stuff and got back home in good time to do what I do when in distress.

That you will make little gifts out of them

That you will make little gifts out of them

I was going to make granola at home – decided. Now all I needed was a nice clean recipe. πŸ™‚
The web caters thousand different varied recipes. (Was running away from all the choices I had to make in the superfood aisle, and here I was, pounded by more!!) Well, did manage to get a gist of what I need to do and the rest was up to me. Yay!! I could throw in what ever I like, how much ever I like and skip what I don’t. Hmm.. pretty neat huh.

Goodness Jar

Goodness Jar

Getting all the stuff together is a pretty straight forward job, all I found difficult to procure was a pack of old-fashioned rolled oats. The most common variety is the quick cooking oats which cannot be used here. Well, after a bit of nosing around, I did find and I bought a big box immediately.

Thats pretty much what all you need

Thats pretty much what all you need

The best part about making this at home is you can play with the ingredients as you like. Some more of this, less of that, it’s all upto you.

I was so pleased with the results, that I packed small jars for family and friends to enjoy. The little jars make such cute gift article that its impossible not to like the look as well as whats in it!

Mix. Mix n Mix

Mix. Mix n Mix

Well, children (or rather my child) do not eat it so readily. I coaxed and cajoled, and she did give in to take a tiny bite. But that was it, she didn’t want to do anything more with it.

Try some

Try some

A small bowl of this very healthy nutritious granola goes a long way. Make it your breakfast with some fresh fruits and a tall glass of milk or some yoghurt. Try topping on your milkshakes. A handful of this on your ice cream adds crunch and a bit of health into it πŸ˜‰

Pack some

Pack some

The Recipe: To make about 1 kg granola.

Ingredients

  • 500gms old fashioned rolled oats
  • 250gms mixed chopped nuts, I used almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans
  • 100 gms mixed currants and raisins, I used dried blueberries, raisins and black currants
  • 50 gms mixed seeds – I used melon, pumpkin, sunflower and flax
  • 100 ml coconut oil or olive oil or any healthy cooking oil
  • maple syprup or honey as per taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • a pinch of sea salt

Method

Keep the currants and raisins separately. In a saucepan, heat oil, maple syrup or honey, vanilla and salt. Simmer for a minute or two until all ingredients are well combined.

In a huge bowl, take oats, nuts and seeds. Do not add raisins and currants. Pour the honey-oil mix and combine it well. On a lined baking sheet, spread this mix out evenly and bake at 175 C for about 10-12 minutes or till they start to evenly brown. The ideal colour is golden and please take care not to over bake else they turn bitter.

Once the oats and nuts are cooked. Remove, Cool. Add raisins an currants. Give it a final toss. Store in airtight containers. Use as required.

Spill some

Spill some

Best Served with – yoghurt and fresh fruits!

I usually take mine with fresh fruits and chocolate protein shake. Its one full breakfast!

Daily Sustenance

Daily Sustenance

To health and nutrition

To health and nutrition

Tricolored Baked Rice Casserole

Representing the Indian Flag

Representing the Indian Flag

“Are you ever going to post the tricolour rice or no?”, She seemed nettled.
“Er.. but it’s so late, I could tell you now, on the phone” I sputtered.
“No, no time! Put it up and I will catch it in between work’ And she bangs the phone.

My sister – younger, smarter and definitely more headstrong than I have ever been, always gets her work done, somehow! No one says no to her, she makes sure of that. She thinks its her tenacious personality that gets it done when in real we do what she says because we love her. But we let her think otherwise ;).

Indian Independence Day was on August 15th. And I am 12 days late. But like the sister exhorts – Tis better to be late than not post at all. So I put this up now. For one, because she badgered me for a detailed recipe. And for the fact that this one is worth posting!

Creamy healthy and totally delicious

Creamy healthy and totally delicious

So like how it happens every morning of 15th August, we were getting ready for our National Flag hoisting. The child was excited. More so, because she was going to sing a very patriotic song. She had been rehearsing for the past 10 days and had held captive any audience she could find to practise her crooning.

'Aao Bacho Tumhe Dikhaayen'

‘Aao Bacho Tumhe Dikhaayen’

In between adjusting a tricolour sash, combing her hair, sticking various tricolored pictures on her skirt, she spoke persistently and tirelessly. Of matters mundane and routine. And then suddenly she squealed in delight, turned to me and said.. why don’t you make some lunch which is tricolour. I will call Saancha and Sanjana and you can take pictures too for your blog. Now, the picture bit was her act of luring me to make something fancy.

Our lunch was patriotic indeed but in return I got her to get rid of all the gaudy stickers she piled on her skirt πŸ˜‰

Yumm

Yumm

Rice enveloped in creamy white sauce, dotted with carrot and beans, topped with an orange tomato marinara and a spicy spinach coriander puree, and finished with soft cheese – whats not to like in this! It is creamy soft pillowy flavourful and a delight in every bite. Worth a try, anytime!

Enjoy it with some fresh baked bread

Enjoy it with some fresh baked bread

The recipe –

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice, boiled al dente. Brown Rice works beautifully, but I was going tricolour remember, so I chose to stick to white.
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot-beans and a few peas
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • green chill sauce – optional.
  • 4 tbsp grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • For the Orange Marinara: 3 medium-sized tomatoes, blanched whole in hot water. 5/6 pods of garlic, 3 whole red chilies or kashmiri red chilies, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp oregano. 1 tsp olive oil.

    For the Spinach Puree: 1 big bunch of spinach leaves, washed-blanched. 3 green chilies, a tiny piece of ginger, a pinch of sugar and salt.

    Method

    For the Rice:
    Heat butter in a wok, stir fry the vegetables till almost done. Add flour. Saute it as it coats the veggies. Pour milk, mix till the milk thickens. Add boiled rice, salt, pepper, green chill sauce if using. The white sauce will envelope the rice.This taste good as it is!

    For the Spinach Puree:
    Grind blanched spinach, along with salt, sugar, green chilies and ginger till smooth. You can adjust the quantity of the green chilies according to your taste. Keep aside.

    For the Orange Marinara:
    In a wok, heat oil, sautΓ© garlic and red chilli. Add coarsely smashed blanched tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook covered on low heat till oil leaves sides. cool the mixture and grind to a fine orange paste. This marinara can be stored in the refrigerator for 3/4 days and is used as pizza toppings or in pastas/noodles or rice.

    Assembling:

    In a butter greased baking dish or casserole, make alternate layers of marinara, rice and spinach puree. Finally garnish with grated cheese. Bake at 200 C for 15 minutes or till the cheese melts and golden dots appear.

    Note: I didn’t do the traditional layering coz I wanted the tricolour pattern, I lay the rice and then poured the sauces to replicate the Indian National Flag.

    flavors all

    flavors all

    Ludicrous interpretation of the colours made me go wide-eyed with shock though amidst peals of incessant laughter. The girls all had appalling insight on this subject! The sublimity of the beautiful colours on our flag was then preached and lectured while their plates were licked clean!

    Courage, Peace and Prosperity

    Courage, Peace and Prosperity

    I am taking this to Angie’s 31st Friday Fiesta! Do pop over to see some delicious recipes!

    Choco Chip Mini Muffins – EggFree

    School re-opens. A brand new year. New teacher. Fresh clean books. Sharpened pencils. And amongst all this – new classmates. Her class gets shuffled every year, and this grade none of her friends are with her. She returns home dejected and sullen.

    Mini Muffins

    Mini Muffins

    Slow at makin friends and adapting to new people, the little girl takes her own sweet time in settling down and getting companionable. Once she does though is another story altogether! But for now, she is bitter. Full of complaints on the first day – that girl pushed me, this boy pulled my hair, teacher was rude… the list is endless. It takes mammoth patience and understanding to explain that the whole world is not there to bite her. They have other work too. A task really. But her stubborn mind is not so yielding.

    Choco chips in butter vanilla

    Choco chips in butter vanilla

    When the hostile mind slowly dies down, out rises the receptiveness. Her desires for amity make way for innumerable possibilities. Topping the list was Food πŸ™‚

    One smart girl I have. Food brings people closer, breaks barriers, warms the heart.
    Someone so rightly said “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house, EAT with Him….. the people who give you their food, will give you their heart”

    So I bake for her camaraderie. And I bake for her zest and spirit.

    chocolate muffin

    chocolate muffin

    For the Vanilla Butter Cupcakes

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup maida/all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • Baking powder 1 tsp
    • Baking soda 1/4 tsp
    • Warm Milk 1/3 cup
    • Curd 1/2 cup, whisk it before using
    • melted butter, 1/4 cup
    • Vanilla essence 1/4 tsp
    • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, white or dark or a bit of both

    Method

    Preheat oven to 150 C.
    In a big mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix well. Now, make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Add the curd, vanilla, vinegar and butter.
    Using a hand whisk, gently mix the ingredients until well combined. Make sure the wet ingredients are incorporated into the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix. Gently fold in the choco chips.

    Now line your cupcake tray with liners or grease them of required. Spoon the batter till the moulds are 3/4th full. If you like, you can top the cupcakes with more chocolate chips.
    Bake the little muffins at 150 C for about 8-10 minutes or until they are done. Remove. Cool.

    For the chocolate cupcakes, follow the above method and add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa to the dry ingredients and add a bit of milk accordingly.

    Box full

    Box full

    Note: Chopped nuts or any dried fruit can also be added in place of chocolate chips.

    Note: Do not over bake the cupcake, around 8-10 minutes should be apt, else they turn hard and chewy.

    Little Treats

    Little Treats

    She wanted the entire box, which is SO not allowed in school. Gently coaxing her to take a few to share with her immediate neighbors was met with instant disapproval.
    Friendship takes time, I cajoled.
    Yes, but I need some for my old friends too…. left me with no more words.

    Whole Wheat Oats Banana Honey Bread – Eggless, Sugarless, Butterless

    Whole Wheat Oats Banana Honey Bread

    Whole Wheat Oats Banana Honey Bread

    Less is definitely more. Especially when it comes to this divine soft dense bread. Going sugar free and fat free along with skipping the eggs is no joke guys. Really. Skeptical from scratch, I still ventured ahead because the germ of the idea had firmly incorporated itself in my head.
    Banana bread. Sounds so enticing, and when you make it literally fat free and supremely healthy who would want to wait and why? πŸ™‚

    So healthy

    So healthy

    If truth be told, I had never eaten banana bread before but had seen numerous recipes floating around. So when I came across this super healthy recipe with easily available ingredients I got all excited and eager. I sieved, mixed and baked. And then I waited. While the beauty rose, my house smelled warm and divine. I could hardly wait for it to cool down. To kill time, I put up teasers on my page on FB, chatted with friends, disturbed the husband and checked the clock repeatedly.

    Finally when my knife sank into the well risen bread, well.. so did my heart. It was dense and slightly sticky. My face fell. The excitement evaporated. What did I make? Is it supposed to be like this? This thing has all the stuff which never goes into making bread – whole grain, oats, no sugar, no butter, no eggs… yea, it has all rights to be what it is. I was crest fallen.

    When I took a teeny tiny piece for him to taste and give his highly valued verdict, all that he could gesture(he was on those never ending conf calls of his) was ‘ya nice, now go’. Sigh! With no bona fide feedback, I resigned to FB and friends. They did rescue me. Both FB food groups and my dear friends.

    So what I learnt was that Banana bread is naturally dense and more moist than other cakes. Depending on the quantity of bananas used, the result could vary in stickiness(I hope that’s a word).
    Oh Well. One pal of mine went a step ahead, smeared a slice with some tart marmalade and encouraged me to take a mouthful. I hesitated. But just one bite was enough to tell me, I didn’t have a recipe failure for sure πŸ™‚ It tasted SO good with the fruit preserve, that I wondered why I was in any doubt in the first place.

    Yumm with some nutella

    Yumm with some nutella

    gorgeous Crust

    gorgeous Crust

    This recipe has been adapted from here.

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup whole wheat flour or atta
    • 1 cup mashed banana
    • 1/2 cup Oats
    • 1/3 cup Orange juice or sweet lime juice
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 3 tbsp. oil
    • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
    • 3 tbsp. chocolate chips
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
    • A pinch of salt

    Method

    Preheat oven to 180Β°C and grease a bread pan and keep aside.

    Take whole wheat flour, Oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips in a large bowl and mix well. In another bowl add mashed banana, oil, honey, cider vinegar, mosambi juice and combine well.

    Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in it. Mix until just combined.
    Pour the batter in the greased baking tin and bake for about 40 minutes or till done. Mine was done in 50 minutes. Once done. Cool well. Invert and slice thinly.

    Serve with butter or jam or nutella.

    Good with some butter

    Good with some butter

    Note: Sanjeeta of LiteBite.in encourages to use apple cider vinegar as it acts as a substitute to eggs and gives lightness to the bake. Apple cider variety has a lovely taste than the plain vinegar. If you want to skip it, then add yogurt instead.

    Jam and Nutella - perfect on some bread

    Jam and Nutella – perfect on some bread

    For the next two days, my breakfast comprised of a slice of this delicious bread, some marmalade, a glass of warm milk and 5-6 almonds. The natural sweeteners in the cake took care of my day’s sweet cravings and I for one felt like some harbinger of good health and nutrition.

    Sugarless, butterless and eggless

    Sugarless, butterless and eggless

    To Santa with love – Strawberry Cake

    To Santa, with Love

    To Santa, with Love

    I love winters. My most favorite season. I love December. My most favorite month.
    And a wintery december brings with it a host of festivities. Tis the season of weddings(in India). Tis the time to shop till you drop. Tis the month of Christmas. Tis the month of Santa!

    From the time I have been told about good old Santa Claus, I have believed in him. I still do. I believe in this incredible concept of hope and joy.

    Children hope that Santa would true their innermost desires. We also do something similar, albeit a tad differently. We hope for some surreal magic in our daily lives that would elevate and give wings to our wants.
    It is this exact faith that makes a child dream and aspire. He dreams, hence he achieves. So in effect am I saying Santa has a huge role in shaping your child’s future? Er… Not exactly..but what I am trying to say is – Santa is important. It is more important to believe in him than discuss the validity of his existence.
    So go ahead tell your child about good old Santa Claus. Tell them about his gift decisive lists, the elves, the North Pole, his sleigh, about Rudolph.. let those little eyes fill with wonder, those spirits soar, let those hearts fill with hope and everlasting joy. Let.
    This post is dedicated to Santa Claus.

    Joinin in the festivities :)

    Joinin in the festivities πŸ™‚

    The quintessential red and white needs to be emulated. So what better than strawberries and cream. Oh! such a classic combination. And its Christmas! So cake has to be there too. So what do you get when you throw in cake, strawberries and cream – ah, no rocket science this. Strawberry Cake you fellas! πŸ™‚

    Strawberries and Cream - can't go wrong with these two!

    Strawberries and Cream – can’t go wrong with these two!

    As I sieved, added and mixed, the incessant chatter of my 6 year old was on. Her innumerable queries on anything remotely to Santa, Christmas, trees and gifts was already putting me in a tizzy. So, to rest the chatterbox a while, I invented a story. This spur-of-the-moment-thought-of story which had Santa as a super hero had my little girl transfixed, her imagination on fire and the tongue firmly in place. πŸ™‚

    There is no thing like "extra" cream ;)

    There is no thing like “extra” cream πŸ˜‰

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup all purpose flour/maida
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 cup butter or oil
    • 1/2 cup sugar (use a little bit less than 1/2 a cup)
    • 1/2 cup curds
    • 1/4 tsp strawberry essence
    • 2 drops vanilla essence
    • milk, as required

    For the icing:

    • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
    • 1/2 cup of sugar water – mix 1 tablespoon of sugar in 1/2 cup water
    • 1 cup of whipping or any heavy cream – sweetened.

    Method

    Preheat the oven at 200C for 8-10 minutes. Till then, sieve the flour, baking powder and soda. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar till smooth. I usually add little by little to ensure a smooth uniform paste. Then using a tablespoon, alternate between curds and flour, that is, pour curds, mix. Then flour. Mix. Do till you finish the given quantities of curds and flour. If the batter is too thick, then add a few tablespoons of milk and mix to make a smooth batter. Add both the essences. Give it a final whirl. Pour the batter in a greased tin. Bake at 170C for at least 25 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick at the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, then the cake is done. If not, then bake for a couple of more minutes till the cake is uniformly baked.

    Remove the tin, cool.

    Icing:

    Whip the cream till you get soft peaks. Slice the cake horizontally using a sharp long blade knife. On the bottom portion, sprinkle some sugar water. Place a semi thick layer of cream on the base. Top with sliced strawberries. Now keep the sliced portion on the creamed strawberry topped base. Repeat the process. If desired you could apply cream on the sides too. Chill for atleast 30 minutes before serving it.

    Serving Suggestion: Serve every slice with more cream and strawberries!

    Yummy bite

    Yummy bite

    Note: The intermittent additions of the ingredients combined with the mixing of the batter, ensures it a smooth, knot free batter. I have found this to be a never-fail technique when baking eggless. It makes the cake lighter and airier.

    Note: If you do not have heavy cream or whipped cream, use a toned lighter cream(like Amul in India), whip the lighter cream in a bowl placed on a bed of ice of another bowl. This helps the light cream to gain some volume and body.

    Note: Top with as much strawberries as you can. It is never too much. The sweet and the tart and the cream … ooh! so delicious!

    We love you Santa

    We love you Santa

    That night she wanted to leave a slice by the tree. I let her.

    But then, when she was fast asleep, dreaming and living her fancies, is when I tiptoed to the little tree, relished half the slice, refrigerated the rest.  There! done. I just had to be up before her and place the  half eaten slice back near the tree. πŸ™‚

    Everyone needs a Santa in their life. I’m hers.

    Merry Christmas!!

    Merry Christmas!!

    Merry Christmas my lovely readers! Merry Christmas.

    Mumbai Special – Pav Bhaaji

    Mumbai Special - Paav Bhaji

    Mumbai Special – Paav Bhaji

    She never ate what the school served her. Hardly ever. Parent Teacher Meets were usually about how she would not even acknowledge the food but simply found peeling her crayons more interesting than the snack served. But this rule had one exception. Colors and crayons forgotten, hands washed, mat placed she dug her little hands into a delightful plate of paav bhaaji. Teachers heaved a sigh of relief on such days. They saved an extra paav, just in case she came back for more.. which on most such days she did!

    Milee is a true blue Mumbai-ite! Sandwiches, pav bhaji, sev puri, vada paav and Gola are on her list of comfort food. Surprisingly I never cared too much for bread. My eyes never sparkle when paav bhaaji is mentioned. I always thought it is a dish made up of leftovers! And do you know the origin of Mumbai’s signature dish(sorry, Mumbai’s one of the ) was actually made from leftovers.. So I was really not that wrong. But as is the case with many things in my life, I have learnt to like things which I previously ran away from.

    This immensely popular dish has its origins as lunch eaten by the Mumbai’s textile mill workers, for whom it was affordable and easy to eat during a very short lunch break. Small roadside eateries started making this using leftover vegetables and some easily available spices. And paav? Paav was always there. It is to Mumbai what the Arabian sea or the Gateway is. πŸ™‚

    Laadi Pav

    Laadi Pav

    “What! You’re making paav? why?” , what they really meant was – Why would you or anyone bake them at home?!! You get the bestest, softest cheapest paav here, in Mumbai, the only place in the world.
    My friends doubted my mental balance – hugely. Still they came trickling in once the heavenly aroma from freshly baked rolls started drifting.

    Bhaaji

    Bhaaji

    Bhaaji is no rocket science really. Just throw in any type of veggie, over cook it, spice it, mash it, lime it, top with spoonfuls of butter, and viola!
    Lap it with your rolls and you will be smacking your lips, wiping a runny nose, licking your fingers and more… No I don’t eat like that, but I’ve seen lot of people who do. πŸ˜‰

    Laadi Paav

    Laadi means slab and paav is nothing but delicious soft white bread rolls, so here I am posting the formula for a slab of soft dinner rolls!

    Now, when ever I try something new, I drastically reduce the quantity of the said measurements. This time I reduced it so much that I made only 9 mini rolls. What you see in the pictures is all that I baked. Maybe sufficient only for an adult and a child.
    The quantity here is for 15 whole regular sized paavs, so feel free to adapt and change.

    Mini paavs

    Mini paavs

    Ingredients

    • 3 and 1/2 cups to 4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp active dried yeast
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 tbsp butter, softened
    • 1 to 2 tbsp melted butter for brushing on the pav

    Method

    In a small bowl, proof the yeast – by adding luke warm water, 1/2 tsp sugar and yeast. Mix well. cover and keep aside for 10-12 minutes until frothy.

    Put 3 1/2 cups of flour, proofed yeast, salt, sugar (not honey, if you are using it) in a big bowl.
    Put milk and butter in a small pan, heat it, while whisking a couple of times, till the milk is just lukewarm. Take it off the heat. If you are using honey instead of sugar, add this to the milk.

    Add the lukewarm liquid to the dry ingredients and knead till a soft and elastic dough forms. You will have to add a bit more of flour (a tbsp at a time) while kneading, to achieve this. Do not be tempted to add more flour, or your rolls will become tough.

    Your dough must be soft and elastic, just short of sticky. Shape the dough into a ball.
    Place the dough in an oiled bowl, rolling the ball of dough till it is coated with oil. Cover with a towel and allow it to double in volume (mine took two hours).

    Lightly knead the dough and divide equally into about 15 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place on a greased rectangular baking tin. Place the balls of dough about 1/4” apart in 3 rows of five each.

    Cover them with a towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. Bake them at 220C (425F) for 10 minutes till they rolls have risen and started browning. Take them out of the oven and quickly brush them with melted butter and bake them for another 5 minutes till the tops have browned well. Take the rolls out and let them cool on a rack.

    To serve: Melt a tbsp of salted butter in a pan. Slice 2 pieces of the pav sideways and place both, cut sides down, on the melted butter and allow the pav to absorb the butter and brown slightly. I like to saute a little on the other side as well. Some serve the paavs as it is, without sauteing.

    Rise and shine

    Rise and shine

    Bhaaji

    Bhaaji is a mix of sauteed onions-tomatoes, potatoes and vegetables like peas, carrots, beans etc. It is essentially very spicy, flavorful and served with loads of lime and minced raw onions. Usually a bit red color is added to give that scarlet dead look to the bhaji. I have skipped the pav bhaji masala, color and reduced the chilies as per as our taste.
    The following recipe is by a very dear aunt who makes the best pav bhaji ever. The color of her bhaaji was naturally so bright and red, that I begged her to share her trick.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups of mixed vegetables (carrot, cauliflower, beans, peas)
    • 3 big potatoes
    • 1 big onion, minced
    • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
    • 6-7 whole dried kashmiri red chilies, soaked
    • 1-2 whole dried normal red chilies – the spicy variety
    • 7-8 cloves of minced garlic
    • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
    • 2 tbsp oil or butter
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • salt to taste
    • 1 tbsp pav bhaji masala – optional
    • To serve: lemon wedges, 3 to 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, 4-5 tbsp minced raw onions, 2 to 3 tbsp salted butter

    Method

    Steam cook the mixed vegetables and the potatoes till well done. Mash them very well and keep aside.
    Grind the soaked kashmiri and regular chilies, along with garlic and ginger to a fine paste.

    Heat the oil/butter in a large kadai/wok. Saute onions till soft and translucent. To this add, the grounded paste. Fry well for a minute or two. Add the chopped tomatoes and using a wooden spoon mash the onion-tomato mixture further. Cook until the oil appears on the edge.

    Add the turmeric, coriander powder and pav bhaji masala if using. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until the raw smell of the spices disappears. Add the mashed vegetables, salt and about half a cup of water. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until everything blends into a homogenous thick gravy-like consistency, adding a little more water, if necessary. Lastly, switch the flame off, stir in garam masala and chopped coriander leaves. Mix. Serve hot.

    Serving Suggestions:
    My aunt borrowed this neat trick from the street side vendors and it works like magic when she serves her world famous Paav bhaaji:
    On a hot flat thick bottomed iron griddle/tawa. Place a small spoon of butter. Pour as much bhaaji as can go on it without the gravy spilling over. Keep the flame high. Using a potato masher mash and sizzle the veggie mix till it simmers like a sizzler. Then serve immediately topped with small cubes of refrigerated cold butter and lime wedges, along with lightly sauted paavs and raw minced onions.

    Mixed Vegetable Curry

    Mixed Vegetable Curry

    Owing to my classic measurement skills, I had 9 tiny rolls, a wok full of bhaaji, 6 adults and a very hungry child. Of course we ran out of paavs. But our trusted age old bread wala who comes delivering freshly baked bread and Mumbai special laadi paav every evening at our door step saved our day. Lucky Me.

    This recipe is my entry to Vardhini’s Bake Fest#25.

    Rajasthani Gourmet Delight – Dal Baati, my Skinny Version!

    Rajasthani Special - Daal Baati,  Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

    Rajasthani Special – Daal Baati, Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

    Rajasthan literally means “Land of kings”. The largest state of India, boasts of the great Indian desert in the midst of it. Culturally rich, folk music, dance and of course food holds a special place in the heart of every Rajasthani.

    Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. But now with technology nothing is scarce any more and you get everything everywhere at any time. So although you will find excessive use of lentils and pulses in their food, fresh vegetables has found its way into their thalis too.

    Now Rajasthan’s signature dish is Dal Baati.
    Baati is a hard, unleavened bread prized for its long shelf life and high nutritional content and for the minimal quantity of water required for its preparation. Baati is usually mostly eaten with dal/lentil stew. Traditionally, this dish is served with loads and loads of ghee/clarified buttter. But now since no one is happy eating that much ghee, we literally make it sans the fat.

    Basket of Baked bites

    Basket of Baked bites

    Where I have been brought up on Dal makhani, tandoori roti, Chole Bhature, Rajma chawal, the husband was served Dal Baati. I had never tasted it before my marriage, and truthfully, I didn’t care for it much after that too. But after 10 years of togetherness, we start to like each other’s favorite food. Thats what marriage does to you. Now he doesn’t wince when Chinese is mentioned and I volunteer to make Dal baati! Now thats huge on my part.. πŸ˜‰

    Baati

    Baked to perfection

    Baked to perfection

    There are many ways to make the baati. The easiest is to deep fry the shaped dough in ghee till they turn golden brown and crisp. But that is also a sure shot way of clogging all your arteries and sending you to God a wee bit faster than desired.
    So, we have all taken to baking them. Lot of people bake with out a traditional oven, by slow roasting on the gas using a metal sieve or a gas tandoor till the baatis have browned.

    I use my regular oven and what I have learnt after many years of making horrendous mistakes is to make them small, literally bite size, so that they bake quickly and uniformly . Although shaping of the dough is actually a big pain in itself.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups whole wheat flour/atta
    • 1/4 cup semolina/rava/sooji
    • salt to taste
    • 3-4 tbsp oil or ghee or cream/malai
    • Luke warm water to bind

    Method

    To the flour, add semolina, salt and the softener(ghee or oil or cream). Rub well with your palms. Now add warm water and bind into a semi hard dough. This will take some time, as you want your dough to be a bit stiff. Knead well. Keep aside covered for 30 minutes.

    The smaller the better

    The smaller the better

    Now to make the rounds, pinch small portions out of the dough and shape into a ball, making sure that no creases or cracks are on the surface. To achieve this, you have to keep massaging the small round between your palms and shaping-reshaping them into perfect smooth round balls. Mind you this requires some time and patience, so my advice would be grab that bowl of dough, switch on the fan and put on some music, SIT and then start to make the rounds. Just makes it a little pleasant, that’s all.

    Preheat your oven. Once the rounds are made, using a sharp knife, make light incisions making sure they do not go all the way to the base. This is done to ensure they are baked evenly and the insides do not remain raw. Place the rounds on a greased tray and bake for at least 30 minutes at 170C, till they brown and are cooked evenly. You can keep turning and checking on them while they are baking.

    Once done, remove and keep them covered.

    Serving Suggestion: While serving, coarsely crush the baati between a clean kitchen napkin using your palms. Ideally the crushed bits are topped with spoonfuls of ghee and served with dal and other sides.

    Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

    Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

    Panchmeli Daal

    This lentil stew is absolutely divine. Made with a mixture of 5 different lentils, tempered with garlic and onions, this makes for a perfect accompaniment for the royal baatis!

    Panch meli Daal

    Panch meli Daal

    I usually eyeball the quantity of the daals/lentils and this dal is best made in ghee.

    Ingredients

    • 2 fistfuls green split mung dal, chilke wali mung dal
    • 1 fistful yellow mung dal
    • 1 fistful toor/arhar dal
    • 1/2 a fistful urad dal
    • 1/2 a fisful channa dal
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 3 green chilies, slit lengthwise
    • 1 piece of ginger, julienned
    • 1 medium onion, minced
    • 1 big tomato, minced
    • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/2 tsp garam masala
    • red chili powder – according to taste
    • salt
    • Ghee or butter – 2 tbsp
    • To garnish: 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

    Method

    Mix all the lentils, wash and soak for at least 30 minutes.
    In a pressure cooker or a pan, boil all the lentils along with turmeric powder, bay leaf, salt, julienned ginger and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.

    Garlic and bay leaf lend a tantalizing aroma to the lentil mix. Once done, keep aside.

    In a deep pot, heat ghee, crackle the cumin, fry minced garlic, slit green chilies and onions till they turn pink. Now add tomatoes, along with red chili powder. Cook till the fat leaves the sides and the tomato is fully mashed. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Now add the boiled dal. Mix well. Boil for a couple of more minutes till the consistency is one. Lastly, switch the flame off, stir in garam masala and chopped coriander leaves.

    Serving Suggestions: You can make an added tempering of ghee, one dried whole red chili, some cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp red chili powder. Pour it over the dal, serve hot.

    Spring Onion Saute

    Spring Onion Saute

    Spring Onion Saute

    This has to be one of the easiest and tastiest saute ever.
    In a wok, heat little oil, crackle cumin, fry slit green chilies, throw in the chopped spring onions, along with salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, red chili powder and 1/2 tsp coriander powder. Saute on high till the onions are rightly cooked, that is, not too mushy and still retaining a bite. That’s it. Serve.

    Garlic Red chili Mint Chutney

    Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

    Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

    Now this is one killer chutney! Best when made in a mortar pestle or over a stone. But a mixer would work fine as well.
    Take: 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves , 1/4 cup mint leaves, 6/7 soaked dried kashmiri red chilies, 1 huge clove of garlic and some salt. Grind into a coarse paste. Mix in juice of 1/2 a lime. Serve.

    Sunday Brunch

    Sunday Brunch

    This recipe is my entry to Vardhini’s Bake Fest #25.

    Thin Crust Classic Margherita – 100% whole wheat!!

    An impromptu picnic at the very beautiful Kanheri Caves(Mumbai), relentless rain, a homely sweet birthday party, hot steaming cups of chai, some sweet succulent corn on the cobs and a very runny nose – the weekend just zooms away. Before it fully whooshed past, I grabbed the chance to make some very healthy crisp thin-crust Margherita!

    Divine Bite

    Divine Bite

    A confession – I have never been a fan of pizza – don’t worry, I’m real.
    When we were growin up, pizza hut made its presence felt loud and clear. I still remember my first bite, the when and the where… a brand new sleek looking pizza shop on Cunningham Road. An afternoon out with friends. We- a bunch of teens, eager to try the enticing cheesy gooey triangle, with barely 100 bucks in our tiny pockets. All smiles and chatty till I have my first bite! And oh! how I disliked the doughy mass gulped with gallons of coke. I was so upset – (more with the fact that I just wasted my precious money on something so highly distasteful!).

    Tempting triangles

    Tempting triangles

    Seven years back, a tiny quaint little pizzeria in Times Square of NYC transformed my charred taste buds. Super thin crust – fresh simple ingredients, incredible flavors and the fact that I could eat with my fingers… (pick,fold and bite!) was a revelation to me. That one huge slice satiated and more than made up for all the years that I had given it all up for. Since then I have been eating this ultimate deliciousness but of course on my terms and conditions πŸ™‚

    Fresh Basil to garnish

    Fresh Basil to garnish

    This(Blogging) wonderful medium has introduced me to new people, new cuisines, awesome photography and of course stupendous new recipes! I stumbled upon this very enticing formula to make whole wheat pizza sans the refinery, using very little ingredients and emphasizing the simplicity of the procedure. I had to bookmark it. With ingredients readily available in your pantry, a classic thin crust margherita can be created, all you need is – Time.

    So simple

    So simple

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    For the pizza dough:

    • 2 and 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 and 1/2 tsp yeast
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • salt according to taste
    • luke warm water
    • 1 tbsp olive oil

    For the Assembly:

    • 6-8 tbsp of pizza sauce
    • 8-9 tbsp of grated mozzarella cheese
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • chopped sweet basil to garnish

    Method

    For the Dough:
    Proof the yeast according to instructions on the pack. I have given a small tip at the end of the post. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, salt and 1 tsp sugar. Make a well in the center, add olive oil, proofed yeast and luke warm water to bind. Get all of it together. Knead for at least 5-6 minutes. Then in a well oiled bowl, place the kneaded dough and cover with a plastic film. Let the dough rise to double the volume. This takes approximately 2 hours.

    For the Assembly:
    Once done, preheat your oven to 250 degree C for 5-6 mins.
    Remove the cling film, punch the dough and grab a handful of it, and using extra flour roll it out or spread with your fingers to form a pizza base. Carefully pick the base and lay on a pre oiled parchment paper. Brush little olive oil on the base. Spread your desired quantity of pizza sauce and loads of grated mozzarella.

    Carefully pick the parchment paper, place in the pre heated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes at 200 degree C till the edges brown and cheese melted.

    Once done, remove. Stay for 5 minutes. Sprinkle chopped basil.

    Serve with seasoning n tabasco.

    Scrumptious Slice

    Scrumptious Slice

    Proofing the yeast: I dissolved 1/2 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup luke warm water. Then added 2 and 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast. Mixed it vigorously, till a pasty structure was formed. Covered and kept it aside for 10 minutes. After the said time, the yeast was all frothy and bubbled up. Ready to be used. Sorry I forgot to click it, I was way too excited to get going with the dough.

    Classic Easy Peasy Pizza Sauce: Heat olive oil, saute garlic(5-6 pods), 1 chopped onion, 3-4 dry red chilies, and 5-6 round fat ripe red tomatoes(skin peeled), along with 1/4 tsp sugar and salt to taste. Simmer for at least 30 minutes till the oil leaves the sides. Cool. Coarsely grind. Add oregano and 1 tbsp chopped basil. Ready to use!

    No cook super simple Pizza sauce: 1 cup tomato ketch up, 1 tbsp butter, 3 minced garlic, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Combine all together, microwave for a minute or two. Mix well. Use!! Its good.. seriously. When you don’t have time to make the original, this works like a dream.

    Link to the original: http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2013/05/100-whole-wheat-pizza-dough.html

    Simple comfort food

    Simple comfort food

    Herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

    Mixed herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

    Mixed herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

    I have been toying with the idea of baking some bread from a very very long time. But attempting to bake bread is intimidating. The very thought of all the possibilities that could go wrong loom large in front of my eyes. Yet, that fateful day, I decided to take the plunge. And I usually take risks when someone is coming over for dinner. Silly? Hmm..Thats me.
    I experiment most when I have guests over. Feeling all the while for those poor little guinea pigs aches my heart, but still I go ahead with my bold ventures. You know, how it is when something comes to your mind and you want to do it then and there, at that time only.. yea… it happens a lot to me. I know, no justification for my mindless endeavors.

    Crisp Crust

    Crisp Crust

    I was particularly going through a very busy day. The husband had crazy conference calls from dawn till dusk(he works from home), Milee was being annoyingly demanding, a doctor’s appointment, one absent maid and my favorite brother in law over for dinner. My best half suggested we go out, but I was attacked by that untimely, unpropitious bug of creating something new! So, ignoring his proposal, I go all out and BIZARRE! He shook his head, knowing very well the intensity of the bug bite.

    Well Baked and Well Risen

    Well Baked and Well Risen

    I greatly admire Aparna’s My diverse Kitchen. Adapting and recreating the magic with her dishes is a huge learning experience for me. Having bookmarked innumerable recipes from her site, I dug this one out, and set about making it among the chaos reigning large in my house and in my head. Hoping that cheese, herbs and some fabulous warm bread might soothe out my wrinkely nerves.

    Since its my maiden attempt to bake something that looks so formidable… I have stuck to refined all purpose flour(not healthy)but my later attempts(after I become a little better at baking) would be to eliminate the refined flours and adopt the whole grains. But as of now, bear with me.

    Tea Time Treats

    Tea Time Treats

    While making this bread, I filled the entire bread pan with the dough, and the leftover dough was rolled into small tiny bite sized rolls. Now, while baking, these bite sized bits turn out exceptionally well.. better than the original bread baking in the pan. They are light, crisp and golden. So, hence forth I’ve decided to make these rolls with the dough instead of the pull bread. Its easier and they bake uniformly. So, you could try a bit of both to see what works for you.

    Small rolls bake perfectly

    Small rolls bake perfectly

    The Recipe:
    For step by step pictorial refer here:

    Ingredients

    For the Dough:

    • Β½ cup warm milk
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 2 tsp active dry yeast
    • 2ΒΎ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 25gm butter, soft at room temperature
    • ΒΎ to 1 tsp garlic paste
    • ΒΎ cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)

    For the Filling:

    • 15 gm melted butter
    • 2 tsp dried Provencal or mixed herbs*
    • 1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
    • Crushed pepper/ red chilli flakes to taste
    • Β½ cup grated cheddar cheese
    • (or any kind of herbs you like)

    Method

    1. Dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the Β½ cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up. (If you use instant yeast, the waiting time is not necessary as it wont bubble up)
    2. Put the flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic paste in a large bowl
    3. Mix well with your hand or do it in a food processor.
    4. Then add the yeast mixture and the remaining milk.
    5. Start kneading. Keep mixing until it all comes together. You could do this in an electric mixer or food processor too. Knead for 10-15 minutes until you get a smooth, elastic dough. If the dough is too sticky, you can add a couple spoons of flour.
    6. Place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil
    7. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1Β½ hours or until almost double in volume.
    8. Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough & place it in the work counter Shape it into a rough square with the help of your hands
    9. Roll the dough out into a larger square. (roll it our as thinly as possible, maintaining the shape)
    10. Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the herbs, pepper/ chilli flakes and the cumin seeds and then the grated cheese. Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips.
    11. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips – they do not have to be perfect.
    12. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips. You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater.
    13. Cut straight down through the stack dividing it into equal pieces (6-8 square stacks). First cut the strip in half. Then cut each part in half & quarter & so on. If the is any excess dough, cut it off.
    14. Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin
    15. If you have excess dough, roll it out long; sprinkle with herbs & cheese.
    16. Roll it into a log & cut into swirly rolls.
    17. Once the pieces are stacked, cover the loaf tin with a damp cloth. Let it rise for an hour or so.
    18. Preheat the oven at 180 C (if you’re baking in OTG) or 160 C (if its a convection oven). Bake for 30 -40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown.
    19. Serve warm.

    A gift which won't be refused - for sure

    A gift which won’t be refused – for sure

    Note: I took exactly half the measurements of the above ingredients as it was my very first. I was mad enough to attempt it on a
    harrowing day but not mental enough to waste food if it turned out to be a dud. πŸ˜‰

    Note: Reduce the garlic paste or eliminate altogether from the dough, tastes better. I forgot to add it to the flour, and mine
    tasted good as the mixed herbs had enough garlic in them.

    Crisp and cheesy

    Crisp and cheesy

    Milee had to be picked from a near by building where she had gone for a class. It was already evening, the sun was about to set soon. And I was eager to take pictures before it turned dark. I also wanted a new setting. I grabbed the bread, camera and all, reached 15 minutes before the kid’s class got over. To my luck there was a fabulous well scratched rough looking painter’s stool/table lying desolately in the car parking area of the building. My joy knew no bounds. What a steal!! I make the settings and holler to a very sweet friend who stays just above the magical podium. She thought I was a nut to go bonkers on a rough dilapidated looking stool. She changed her mind ofcourse. πŸ˜‰

    If you have noticed(mostly you would have), the color on the bread is not very golden, it needed a little more baking time. But I had to do the pictures before it got dark. After the shoot, the bread was back in the oven for a good 10 more minutes, and the result rocked completely.

    Picture Perfect?

    Picture Perfect?

    And no, I could not steal the stool. It was too big to be sneaked out. But the good old friend of mine has assured that it will always be there and I am welcome anytime to come and shoot away. πŸ™‚ lucky me!

    Note: For those dear friends and readers who saw the Lasagna making pictures on my FB page, here is the party pooper: I clicked away the step by step assembling of the lasagna, but it was a pot luck dish, and I took it over to a cousin’s place, where in the get together, I forgot to click the final outcome and the serves. So sorry, the dish will not be featuring any time now. But soon, I will make it again and post the fabulous vegan egg free Lasagna. So, till then, make bread!