“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Monday, 7 April 2014

Low Fat Whole Wheat Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake (Egg less)


I have become a recipe inventor. Yes! A little experimenting, some play of ingredients, mixing and matching clicked right and I’ve come out with the recipe of moist and healthy Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake.


Temperature is rising steadily. Summer is manifesting itself. A bag of semi ripe Chikoos ripened before the anticipated time. The shelf life of ripened Chikoo is short, they had to be consumed fast or else they would land up in our compost pit. Some went into Chikoo shake; some were added to salad while some still waited in the refrigerator just short of shriveling and going bad. Only way the remaining fruits could be salvaged was to use them in some recipe. A seemingly weird thought of adding them to a cake came to my mind. Sometimes it pays to execute ideas that are off beat. My experiment was successful. And my own recipe was born. The cake was moist with the grittiness of chikoos, dates added mild flavor and natural sweetness. Since chickoos don’t have a strong flavor, dates can also be substituted with semi sweet chocolate chips and a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon. I believe it will be a great combination and I would like to try out next time.


Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota)is rich in dietary fiber. The fruit is rich in antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A. Ripe Sapodilla fruits are a good source of minerals like potassium, copper, iron and vitamins like folate, niacin and pantothenic acid.
This is how I made Low Fat Whole Wheat Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake (Egg less)

Low Fat Whole Wheat Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake (Egg less)
Ingredients
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup low fat curd
1 cup muscovado sugar or ¾ cup white sugar powdered
½ cup sapodilla (chikoo) puree
10 to 12 dates, washed pitted and cut into strips.
1/3 cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Method
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Grease and dust one 8 inch cake tin. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Mix together sapodilla puree, curd, oil and sugar. Mix well. Add vanilla essence.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix gently. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped dates. Reserve some to sprinkle on top.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin. Level the top and arrange the reserved chopped dates. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degree C. Reduce the heat to 180 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice next day.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Low Fat Whole Wheat Date and Walnut Loaf (Vegan)



Our daughter came in running, pulling us excitedly to come out and acknowledge her discovery. She had spotted a huge bird in the wood apple tree. It was a Crow Pheasant. Some years ago it was a common sight to see crow pheasants in the foothills. Loss of habitat has made it almost extinct. Spotting one after so many years was indeed a happy moment.


For the last two days we have been covering and labeling our daughter’s books and notebooks as she prepares to join the school. The task seems gargantuan even as our fingers work dexterously through covers and scissors but get fatigued after completing three at a time. Meanwhile our daughter squeals with joy as she flips through the pages of the new books and is amused by illustrations and stories some of which she is familiar with. A surge of anxiety grips me when I see the voluminous study material. Then I remember the assuring words of the Principal about going slowly and being selective about topics. I have to repose faith in her…….keeping aside my apprehensions, I get down to baking a vegan Date loaf cake that I had planned to. Whisking flours, chopping dates and other chores crease out all the stress and a moist healthy cake has us all chomping the delicious slices during tea time.


This is how I made Whole Wheat Date Walnut Loaf
Whole Wheat Date Walnut Loaf (Vegan)
Ingredients
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup hot water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon soda
1 ½ teaspoon mixed spice powder (4 cloves, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 green cardamom, ¼ piece nutmeg)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Method
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and dust one 7x3 inch loaf tin. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine hot water, chopped dates and sugar in a large bowl. Cover and keep for 15 minutes. The dates will become soft. Mash them against the sides of the bowl with a spoon. Let the mixture cool. Add oil and vanilla essence.
Whisk together flours, soda and spice mix.
Add flour mix to date mix till well incorporated. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped walnuts.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Level the top and sprinkle some chopped walnuts.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Stand for 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack. Slice next day.
My Notes : Spices can be adjusted according to taste.


Linking to Vegan Thursdays




Thursday, 27 March 2014

Cape gooseberry Jam


Silence of dawn is shredded by the coooo ooooo of the cuckoo. The spotted female joins in  by her “kik kik kik and the duo fly away chasing each other. We are at the thresh hold of summers or already into it.
A large number of bees lie dead in pathways. My daughter collects them in a leaf and wonders if they have completed their life cycle. She is aghast to learn that the culprit is the medicine- the better name for pesticide spray being used in the mango orchards. How will we have fruits and veggies in our plants if we exterminate the very agents of pollination?
Charles Darwin once said that “The life of man would be made extremely difficult if the bee disappeared.” Bees are responsible for pollinating 70 per cent of the world’s horticulture and agricultural crops, so without them we simply would not have fresh fruit and vegetables — in fact, we would all starve within five years, because nothing could be pollinated. We need to ponder over that.
Some traffic here...in our bird bath.
Red Vent Bul buls
A Dove and a Magpie Robin

April also marks the beginning of new session in the schools. Having been homeschooled for the last two years, my daughter is all excited to join the school. When I think of her lunch box, I remember my school days. We used to be so excited about lunch time. If our box had goodies, that seemed to be the sole motive of going to school and that, would be the “best day” irrespective of other activities. Simple jam bread would be such a treat sometimes, breaking the monotony of everyday lunch of chapatti with veggie.  And when it comes to Jams, it feels nice and happy to have a variety of them in the pantry.  I am always eager to add a new bottle of jam to my existing ones. Having made Guava Jelly and Black Grape Jam, I wanted to make jam from Cape gooseberries. The seeds in the fruit add a lovely crunch to the jam.
We bought half kg of Cape gooseberries to make jam.


This is how I made Cape gooseberry Jam
Cape gooseberry Jam
Ingredients
500g Cape gooseberries
500g sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Water
Method
Remove the outer husk from the berries. Wash them. Put them in pressure cooker with water just enough to cover them. Turn off the heat after the first whistle.
Transfer the cooked fruit in a thick bottom steel wok. Add sugar. Mash the fruits with a ladle against the sides of the wok. Add lemon juice. Cook on high flame stirring constantly till it come to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and cook till it becomes thick and attains jam like consistency.
While the jam cools, sterilize the bottles. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven. Ladle hot jam into the jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Secure the lids tightly.

Linking to Vegan Thursdays

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Whole Wheat Beet Chocolate Cake (Egg less)


Late vernal phase witnesses profusion of blooms. Trees laden with inflorescence, branches weighed down with flowers , wild flowers making appearance in every inch of the ground… seems, like, waking up from a phase of dormancy to survive the harshness of winters, each is trying to outdo the other in the grand show of colours  and fragrances. Morning air blissfully laden with the aroma of mango blossom and orchestrated by the bird songs is the ultimate food for the soul – so heavenly, so divine.


The soaring temperature is also affecting the avian fauna. Most of the migratory birds have left their winter abode. We spotted a pair of  wagtails yesterday. What agile creatures they are…flitting from branch to branch whole day. It took almost an hour of hiding under the gooseberry tree to get a shot of the beauty.


Beet season is almost at the fag end.  Trying to make the most of it, I baked a Whole Wheat Beet Chocolate Cake. 
Moist and fudgy, it is a delicious cake, almost guilt free.
No worries now when the kids shout “We are hungry…….!”


This is how I made Whole Wheat Beet Chocolate Cake
Whole Wheat Beet Chocolate Cake (Egg less)
Ingredients
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup muscovado sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup boiled peeled and pureed beets
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup butter
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease, dust and line one 8 inch round cake pan.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, cocoa powder (pass cocoa powder through a strainer to remove lumps), baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add buttermilk and pureed beets. Mix well.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix gently. Do not over mix.
Pour the batter in the prepared cake tin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or till the top turns brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from cake tin after 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove the cake. Cool in the rack. Slice next day. Sprinkle icing sugar before serving.





Sunday, 16 March 2014

Low Fat Baked Gujiyas


With just one day left for Holi and sensing no activity in the kitchen, my daughter asked me, “Aren’t we making Gujiyas mom?” “Well, let’s see if I have time”, I replied. This was more like telling her “sorry dear! We aren’t making any”. How do I tell her that I am not too fond of Gujiyas that are deep fried and rich. “Please…., let’s make some”, she pleaded. “Ok, we will try to make in the evening”, I replied, more to procrastinate the issue. Then, I remembered my mom making baked gujiyas last year.


 Baking makes them healthier. Rest, the filling can be made healthy by cutting down on khoya (dried milk) and adding loads of nuts and raisins.

  Great idea to make Gujiyas guilt free and healthy!




Here is how I made Baked Gujiyas following my mother’s instructions.

Low Fat Baked Gujiya
Ingredients
Dough
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
Cold water to knead dough
Filling
½ cup Khoya/mawa (dried milk)
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon semolina (roasted on low heat till a pleasant aroma emanates)
5 cardamom seeds powdered
1 tablespoon raisins
2 tablespoons pistachios chopped
2 tablespoons cashews chopped
2 tablespoons almonds chopped
Flour paste
Mix 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour in 1 tablespoon of water  to form a thick paste.
Method
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a kneading plate. Add water and knead stiff dough. Cover and keep for at least half an hour.
Take khoya in a thick bottom steel wok. Cook on low heat. Khoya will become soft. Keep stirring and use ladle to break lumps. When it becomes lump free, turn off the heat. Let it cool. Add remaining ingredients of the filling. Mix well.
 Preheat oven to 210 degrees C.
To make gujiyas, take small balls of dough and roll out small thin chapattis. Do not dust with flour.  Cut it into a round with a bowl. This gives uniformly sized gujiyas. Put 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of filling and apply the flour paste on half part of the rolled dough.  Fold one side of the round over the other and seal the edges. Cut the edges with a fluted gujiya cutter or twist the edges to seal.

Arrange them on the baking tray. Bake till the top turns golden. It will take about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn and bake the other side. Remove from the baking dish and spread on the wire rack to cool.
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