“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

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Pumpkin Carrot Soup

During our last trip to a nearby farm for buying vegetables, our eyes fell on a glistening rotund green pumpkin peeping out of the thick foliage on the thatched roof of our farmer. Having confirmed that it was a green pumpkin (because it is unusual to find one at this time of the year as the pumpkins are red and ripening on the roof for winters), we requested him to give us and he agreed. Thanking him for his generosity and feeling lucky, we decided to make pumpkin soup. According to Ayurveda, fresh vegetables have maximum prana (life force) and hence veggies should be consumed as soon as they are separated from the plant.

With few carrots and an onion, we made Pumpkin Carrot Soup. Simple, nourishing and wholesome!

Pumpkin Carrot Soup
500 gms green pumpkin (about half of the medium sized pumpkin)
2 carrots
1 medium size onion
4 to 5 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
3 cups of water
1 ½ cup of milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pepper powder to sprinkle
Salt and sugar to taste

Wash and cut pumpkin into half. Scoop out the seeds. Chop into small pieces.
Peel and wash carrots. Chop into small pieces.
Slice onions and mince garlic.
Heat oil in the pan. Add onion and fry till translucent. Add garlic. Add turmeric.
Add chopped pumpkin and carrots. Add salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add water and sugar cook till pumpkin and carrots become tender.
Blend the cooked vegetables with warm milk.
Sprinkle pepper before serving. Serve hot with bread or enjoy plain.

My notes: Adjust water according to your liking for thick or not so thick soup. Above recipe gives a thick soup. Adjust salt and sugar according to taste. Add more garlic if you love a garlicky soup.

This recipe can be veganised easily. Add coconut milk in place of milk.

Pide - Turkish Flat Bread

 It is a crisp late winter evening. The buttery flowers of Magnolia are visible in the full moon light. The air is faintly scented by the magnolia flowers as a gentle wind sways the dainty branches bearing the flowers. The moon shimmers in our fish pond too. It bobs as the water wiggles by the swish swash of the fish. We inhale a lungful of fresh fragrant air, feel relaxed, rejuvenated and alive!

Back in the kitchen, Pumpkin Carrot Soup bubbles in the stove. A Pide bread is waiting to be sliced. A simple and early dinner that suits so well in the winters.

Pide is the special Turkish bread for Ramadan. It is topped with sesame seeds and nigella seeds. The seeds adds a great crunch to the otherwise soft flat bread.

Pide – Turkish Flat Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ stick (1/4 cup) butter softened
½ tablespoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon salt
1 ¾ cups warm water
1 teaspoon each of Sesame seeds and Nigella seeds for topping

In a large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Add butter and mix well. Add about 1 cup water and bring together all the ingredients. Add more water and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. The dough should be sticky.
Cover the bowl with and keep in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled.
Knead again for about 4 to 5 minutes till dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Grease a baking tray. Transfer the dough to the tray and stretch it with your hands to cover the tray. Take a sharp knife and cut square shapes in the dough (refer picture). Sprinkle sesame and nigella seeds on top. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
Bake Pide in the preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 30 to 35 minutes or till the top turns a beautiful golden brown.
Remove from oven. Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Roasted Almond Chocolate

The early morning mist, cacophony of migratory birds, the soothing warmth of the morning Sun announce the arrival of December.

 Yes, this year too, comes to an end and the countdown for the New Year has begun. As we step into the last month of the year, the festivities knock at the door. Time for cakes, candies, chocolates, festive breads ……the list seems endless and you never seem to have enough of it.

Soaking in the festive spirits that seem round the corner, we made chocolate at home. We are a family of chocoholics and a recipe that was written long back in the diary, finally saw the light of the day.

Roasted Almond Chocolate
1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk powder
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup (½ stick) butter or table spread
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 almonds
Grease one square or rectangular cake pan ( I used one  8 inch x 5 ½  inch pan).
Place almonds in the baking tray. Set oven temperature to 100 degrees C and set timer to 10 minutes. The almonds begin to change colour and a sweet smell emanates. Chop into small pieces when cold.
Mix milk powder and cocoa powder and pass it through a fine mesh strainer.
Make syrup with sugar and water and boil till it reaches one string consistency (this stage is very important else, the chocolate will not set). Add butter to the syrup at this stage. Turn off the heat. Add vanilla extract. Add milk powder and cocoa mix in parts mixing well after each addition.
Mix till a homogenous mixture forms. Add almonds. Mix well. Empty the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread it to uniform thickness .Level the top with a greased spatula. Leave to cool.
Turn the pan on a tray, tap the bottom gently. Slice the chocolate, store in an airtight container.

Friday, 28 November 2014

No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread

My son wants a tortoise as a pet. Ever since he saw one at a farmhouse, he is intrigued by the humble creature lugging leisurely with a huge shell on its back. 

We were mesmerised by the avian fauna at the farm 

We spotted some Grey Tits pecking the grains from the fields and from the granary by stealth till they were spotted and shooed away by the owner.
By the time we reached home, it was almost late afternoon. A bread had to be baked for dinner. With less time at hand, I baked a whole wheat bread. 

A simple no knead bread that rises very well and  has a soft spongy crumb. 

It can be veganised easily. Replace honey with maple syrup or agave nectar.  

No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread
3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey / maple syrup / agave nectar
2 tablespoons olive oil (1 tb for dough, 1 tb for greasing the pan and hands)
1 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water
1 to 2 teaspoons cormeal
Grease one 8 ½ inch x 4 ½ inch bread pan. Sprinkle cornmeal.
Take water in a deep bowl. Add honey / maple syrup / agave nectar. Add yeast.
In another bowl whisk together whole wheat flour and salt.
Add flour mix and oil to the first bowl. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes till a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave in daft free place for 1 ½ hours or until doubled.
Stir the dough vigorously again with a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes. Cover and leave to rise for another 1 ½ hours or until doubled.
Stir the dough for about 1 minute and empty the dough into the prepared pan. Apply some oil in your palm and level the dough.  Keep the pan in plastic bag ensuring that there is enough room for the dough to rise. Keep for 40 to 45 minutes or till it crests above the lip of the pan. The dough has high water content. It may spill over the sides of the pan. If it does, take the edges of the dough and stretch it over the loaf on the other side. It will keep the loaf in proper shape as it bakes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 40 to 45 minutes or till the top of the bread turns golden brown. Tent the loaf with a foil if it browns early. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes and remove from the pan after another 5 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.

Submitted for Yeastspotting 


Monday, 24 November 2014

Vegan Dates and Orange Cake (Low Fat, with Whole Wheat Flour)

A trip to a nearby village in the foothills was planned long ago but the trip materialized only this weekend. Sometimes when the monotony of the work inside and stress of the work outside gets too much, a date with nature restores normalcy. It is a great balm for the jangled nerves.

We watched a herd of cows raising a thick cloud of dust and disappearing in the hillocks. After a while only the bells around their necks, tinkling rhythmically were faintly audible. Through thickly foliaged Saal forest, we could see the setting Sun and the endless stretch of tomato fields bordered with marigold imbued in the golden hue.

 Some fields were being ploughed and the cattle egrets were inspecting the freshly turned earth for their catch of insects and worms.

 Some hens too, were ambling around kicking hay occasionally.   Life had its own placid pace………everything looked so tranquil….so beautiful.

We packed our lunch and I baked a Vegan Orange and Dates cake the previous day for the trip. 

The cake had moistness and flavour of oranges and sweetness of dates.

Vegan Orange and Dates Cake (Low Fat, with Whole Wheat Flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups all- purpose flour
½ cup sugar (powdered)
1/3 cup olive oil
25 soft dates pitted and chopped
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 3 oranges
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and dust the sides and line the bottom of one 7 x 7 inch square cake pan.
Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Blend dates and 1 cup orange juice to get puree. Add white vinegar, sugar and oil and mix well. Add zest.
Mix dry ingredients to wet ingredients till well incorporated. Add some more  orange juice only if the batter feels thick.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven after 5 minutes and remove from the pan after another 5 minutes.
Cool in the rack and slice next day. The cake tastes better next day and best after two days.

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