Banana, Fruit and Nut Muffins- Whole Wheat Version

Easy: check

Whole wheat : check

Fruit : check

Nuts : check

Morning muffin : yep

After school : works too

Beautiful spring weather ! Lush and green .. Birds chirping and I can see M going berserk chasing squirrels !! Wanted to make something in say 20 minutes for the kids 🙂

 

TGIF ! A1 away on some competition. A2 wanted a break..A3 is just happy to hang out at home…DH in the land of rising sun. M decided every squirrel real and imagined need to be greeted with a bark, wag and a chase. And if everything fails we can always dig the hole. I wonder if she is planning her escape route from my yard.. Sigh.

Banana, Fruit and Nut Muffins- Whole Wheat Version

So planned a trip to the HD and chickened out in the last min. Gave me a lecture and made the appointment again before I chickened out again. Had an hour on my hand and an itch to do something. Red lipstick can only do so much.

Banana, Fruit and Nut Muffins- Whole Wheat Version

Staring forlornly at me was 3 very very ripened bananas.. In a near black state. Well I had to something. I really had to because the earlier ones I made , the banana cinnamon ones were all out. Did not feel like repeating the batch. And also wanted something light, summery and had something citrusy to it. So adapted the same recipe and made this…

Banana, Fruit and Nut Muffins- Whole Wheat Version

 Prep Time: 10- 15 minutes

Baking Time: 18-22 minutes

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • White whole wheat flour : 1 Cup
  • Unbleached and un bromated APF : 1/2 Cup
  • Baking soda : 1 tsp.
  • Baking powder : 1 tsp.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Bananas: over ripe, 3,mashed very well.
  • Soft brown sugar : 3/4 cup.
  • Brown Egg: 1 , beaten
  • Vegetable Oil : 1/3 cup.
  • Walnuts :1/4 Cup. Chopped roughly
  • Cranberries : Dried, 1/4 Cup, Chopped roughly
  • Apricots: 1/4 Cup, Dried, Chopped roughly

Topping for Baking:

Reserve 3 Tbsp. of the chopped mixture to be added to the muffins before baking

 Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar/ powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. of milk + 2-3 dropfuls as needed to just blend in
  • 1 tsp. of pure orange extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a muffin / cupcake pan with 12 liners
  • Mix the dry ingredients – both the flours, the baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk it very well to ensure even distribution. Set aside.
  • Mash the 3 over ripe bananas very well. I typically like them without any big lumps.
  • Beat the egg and vanilla extract with a fork.
  • Add in the 1/3 cup of oil
  • Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and beat until just combined. Do not over beat or over mix.
  • Fold in the chopped nuts and dried fruits.
  • Spoon it out in your prepared muffin pans

 Fruit& Nut topping :

  • Sprinkle the reserved chopped nuts and fruits as a topping over the spooned muffin batter .

Baking:

  • Bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Glaze:

  • Once the muffins are completely cooled, mix everything listed under the glaze and gently drizzle over.
  • You don’t want this mix runny. Just a thick creamy one.
  • Also you do not want to smother your muffins with icing sugar- Just a kiss should be enough.

 Notes:

  • Yes, you can use butter instead of oil. Just remember to melt it and be cooled down before you do so.
  • You can add delicious crunchy pecans, pistachios and some toasted oats too.
  • You can absolutely do this entirely using self rising flour alone. Just do not add any salt or baking powder. Reduce the baking soda to 1/2 tsp. and you will get soft fluffy muffins. Works like a charm every time.
  • I did this with white whole wheat flour. The regular wheat flour from hardened red/golden wheat would yield slightly denser muffins. Tasty nonetheless.
  • You can make this entirely out of WW flour too.

 

Beet, Oats and Flax Seed Tikki / Croquette/ Cutlets

 

  • Hot weather in Spring : Check
  • Crabby kids : Check
  • Crabby mom : Check ( Nah, I am an angel!)
  • Weekly produce cleaning and org: Check
  • A bunch of beets : Check

It was hot sultry calm before the storm in NC. Very hot and humid weather and temperature in higher eighties.. We know what happens next here – thunderstorms and heavy rains. Predicted in the next 24 hrs.  That still did not stop us from cribbing and hoping we could have a bit of the cooler breeze. But nonetheless, as part of the fridge cleaning process, I came across a bunch of beets.. And that’s what became of these..

This was such a delight to have.. Made a cool Minty Cucumber Greek Yoghurt Dip and it was absolute heaven on hot sultry night.. Kids loved it! The only indulgence was the addition of bread crumbs made easier on self cause I used the wheat kind. The shredded raw beets and crunch of sesame on the top and great blended flavors from the spices boosted this to just another level !

Beet, Oats and Flax Seed Tikki / Croquette/ Cutlets

Prep time : 30 min  Cook time : 30 min Yield : 36 cutlets

Ingredients

For the base:

  • Fine Shredded Raw Beets : 1 and another 1/4 Cups
  • Fine Shredded Raw Carrots : 3/4 cup
  • Fine shredded Onion : 1/4 cup
  • Boiled Potatoes : 2, peeled and mashed
  • Bread Crumbs : 1/4 cup
  • Roasted and powdered Oats : 1/4 cup
  • Roasted and Powdered flax seeds : 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Cilantro Chopped  :1/4 cup
  • Fresh Mint Chopped : 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Jalapeno : 2 chopped fine ( optional)
  • Red chili powder : 1 tsp. ( optional and adjusted to spice level)
  • Garam Masala : 1.5 tsp.
  • Chat Masala : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp.

For the outer covering to create the crunchy crust:

  • Bread Crumbs : 1/2 cup
  • Sesame seeds : 1-2 Tbsp.

 To cook :

  • Oil as desired

Method:

  1. Pulse everything listed under the base in your food processor or if not in wide bowl by hand. The idea is to bring it all together to form a wet mass. This is achieved when the wet sticky potato mass combines with the fresh ingredients. You typically will not need any water at all to bring it together.
  2. Make 2 inches flat patties in diameter and about 3/4 of an inch thick out of these and set aside.
  3. Mix everything listed for the crust and set aside. If you do not wish to add bread crumbs but just the sesame seeds, it will bring out the richness and color of beets but you will still miss the crunchiness of it.
  4. Coat these patties  well in the bread crumbs –  sesame seeds mixture. Nope, I did not initially dip it in milk, corn flour paste, flour paste or any such thing. The wetness of the patty was enough to coat the bread crumbs mix..
  5. Note: The patty was wet but definitely not sticky.
  6. In a wide skillet, add a Tbsp. or so of oil  and gently swivel it so it coats the entire surface of the skillet and then heat it . ( A nonstick would be pretty useful here).
  7. Gently place the patties on the heated oil surface and cook for about 5 – 9 minutes. Flip it once in the 4-5 minute interval and gently press down to ensure they are cooked thoroughly but not smushed.
  8. Do cook it in medium high heat. In very high heat just the outer layer would be cooked and you will have soft raw middle.
  9. Serve it with cool yoghurt dip.

Minty Cool Yoghurt dip:

  •  2 cups of Greek / very thick yoghurt or sour cream
  • 1 cup of very finely shredded cucumber
  • 1/4 cup of very finely chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp. of chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

 Mix all together and serve!

Option 1 : Yes you can deep fry this.  Yes it will taste absolutely delicious, but man why would you want to do it on a hot spring night and also kill the beets?

 Option 2 :  Baking . I did try baking it on 375 – 400 for about 15 minutes. The pan version yielded better taste though.

 

 

 

 

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top – whole wheat version

The weekend was a hub of activity. A1 was busy fiddling with some robotics stuff . A3 had a soccer game. And my ! What a game it was … Intense one  with U8s running around  the field with all the energy they could muster. My little Ninja was in the offence and kissed the field about 8 times ( some scraped tissues too for the warrior) . And then he took a ball to his face – Bang on the cheek. Ouch! Brave little one though ! After a few minutes he was back into it. Learnt to play like a champ – which means emulated sportsmanship behavior in my books. 

And then of course A2. She had her gymnastics meet. My butterfly was spreading her wings. I can see “The turning of a corner” for her where she develops more self confidence and self esteem. And more important learning to compete with the right spirit. And she did well. So on the conversation back home on the take away points from the meet, we somehow ended up on breakfasts and proteins and cupcakes. I know, I know! My A2 can wheedle things out me .. This time it was a beseeching request for baked goodies. No,No , Not too much trouble , but since mommy bakes sooooo good then perhaps a cupcake ! Again not too much trouble , I hope but of course 🙂

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top

What she was getting was a cinnamon strudel wheat banana muffin :-)..a crunchy top and oh so feathery light muffin. A2 was pleased as a punch and demolished two of these. And her siblings got to enjoy it as well. This was collateral advantage !

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top – Whole Wheat Version

Prep Time: 10- 15 minutes

Baking Time: 18-22 minutes

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

For the muffin base:

  • White whole wheat flour : 1 Cup
  • Unbleached and un bromated APF : 1/2 Cup
  • Baking soda : 1 tsp.
  • Baking powder : 1 tsp.
  • Cinnamon Powder : 1 Tbsp.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Bananas: over ripe, 3,mashed very well.
  • Soft brown sugar : 3/4 cup.
  • Brown Egg: 1 , beaten
  • Unsalted butter : 1/3 cup.

 For the crunchy top crumble

  • Soft brown sugar : 1/2 cup
  • APF Flour : 3 Tbsp.
  • Ground cinnamon :  1tsp.
  • Butter : 1 Tbsp.

 Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a muffin / cupcake pan with 12 liners
  • Mix the dry ingredients – both the flours, the baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar and cinnamon powder. Whisk it very well to ensure even distribution. Set aside.
  • Mash the 3 over ripe bananas very well. I typically like them without any big lumps.
  • Beat the egg and vanilla extract with a fork. Add in the 1/3 cup of butter , but make sure it is melted and cooled down enough so it does not scramble the eggs.
  • Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and beat until just combined. Do not over beat or over mix. 

For the crunchy top crumble:

  • Mix the ingredients listed under this and sprinkle on the muffins. The mixture would be slightly crumbly. 

Baking:

  • Bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

 Notes:

  • Using the cold butter for the crunchy top would give you a more crumbly appearance. It is delicious.
  • Using a semi melted or room temperature butter would result in a thin crunchy top, which also would be delicious,
  • You can absolutely do this entire this using self rising flour alone. Just do not add any salt or baking powder. Reduce the baking soda to 1/2 tsp. and you will get soft fluffy muffins. Works like a charm every time.
  • I did this with white whole wheat flour. The regular wheat flour from hardened red/golden wheat would yield slightly denser muffins. Tasty nonetheless.

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top

Grab one to go with at all cold/warm glass of milk and you are set !

 

 

 

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

I swear I do not know if baking is therapeutic. I seem to do these things when I have million other things going.. When I do seem to find a bit of time ,I usually reach for a book. Though the latter does not seem to be happening lately. I am falling behind on catching up with some great novels. I used to be a bibliophile? Notice the past tense? Sigh ! Maybe these will put me in the mood to catch up on some reading, movies and music.

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

 

A seemingly blah day can be perked up with these dainty Shortbread cookies or  Nankhatai made with wheat? Yes of course! Made with wheat and some goodies in it as well.

Improvised my old recipe on a lark and it seemed to work ..

These are some gorgeous melt in the mouth cookies. The only problem, they’re so melt in the mouth that you do need to hide the cookie tin away !

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachio, with just a hint of oranges and saffron!  Lovely!

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

The amazing bend of flavors works so much in their favor and these are truly met in the mouth. As a big plus, I used soft brown sugar . Now this provided the extra  dimension and some crunch. If you can only taste this, I tell you would be absolutley taken in ! And if you do plan on selling you house this is a great smell to entice your buyers ! Fresh baked cookies.. Can it get better than this?

This is a tweak from my other Nankhatai recipe

Prep time : 15 min  Dough resting time : 30 min

Bake time : 14-16 min  Yield : 20 cookies

Shelf life : Minimal with 3 tykes in the house ( 1 week)

Ingredients :

  • White whole wheat flour : 1/2 Cup
  • All purpose flour : 1/2 Cup
  • Unsalted Butter at room temperature : 1/2 Cup = 1 stick
  • Salt : A tiny pinch ( to enhance the flavor) ( 1/4 tsp.)
  • Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp.
  • Fine soft brown sugar : 1/2 Cup
  • Saffron strands : a generous pinch, slight warmed and crushed well to be mixed
  • Chopped raw Pistachios : 1/8 cup
  • Chopped dried Cranberries ( craisins) : 1/8 cup
  • Pure orange extract : 1 tsp.
  • Zest of orange : 1 tsp. ( optional)

 Garnish: ( Optional)

Raw Pistachios : fine chopped, 2 Tbsp.

Method :

  • Cream the butter and  sugar in a big mixing bowl. Cream it well until the sugar granules are nice and invisible in it. The creaming is essential to get the texture and ensure proper baking too. In the case of brown sugar, you might still see tiny flecks of it.
  • In an another bowl, whisk together sifted whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, crushed saffron. Whisk it well to aerate it and to ensure even distribution of the soda and saffron.
  • Add the dry mix into the creamed mixture. Add the chopped nuts and cranberries as well mid way into binding the dough to ensure even distribution.
  • You should be able to form a soft pliable dough. Honestly you should not need any liquids to bind this dough and this will be  a super soft one. ( Yep, it’s loaded with butter)
  • Refrigerate it for say 30 min. ( I believe this would make crisper cookies)
  • Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Pinch out small globes from this and make  nice smooth cookie balls. Indent  with  the flat side of the fork to lend it your touch. Place it about 2 inches apart from each other to ensure good baking and breathing space.
  • Garnish with chopped nuts (Pistachios in my case ).
  • Pop it into oven and bake it for about 14-16 min
  • I baked  mine for 17 min, because we love the crispy-crunchy-melt-in-your mouth kind of cookies. These have a nice caramel color. Careful do not over bake them or burn them !
  • Let it cool on the wire rack .( And if you do not keep an eagle eye, a few of them would be sampled right away)
  • Store in an airtight container

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

Enjoy!

( Now please excuse me – a cup of Ayurvedic tea  is calling my name!!! )

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora – with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

An utterly delectable and finger licking snack made with sprouted Kala Channa or black chickpeas…. I had a whole bowl of sprouted Kala Channa and was a bit bored of creating salads out if it .. I know …Gasp! Sacrilege !

Alright, I know technically you are not supposed to be tired of it. What with the detox mania hitting everywhere , I feel guilty when I add in an extra drop of oil!

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora - with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

 Tsk! Tsk! what kind of responsible human being am I? Where did “My body is a temple” adage disappear? How could I be irresponsible enough to turn a bunch of sprouted Kala channa into this this this…. Utterly delectable delicacy.

Yes, it is deep-fried!

Yes, you can do it the appe / kuzhipaniram pan.

Yes, you can make cutlets out of this.

Yes, you can add a whole bunch of grated veggies to this.

Yes, you can grind Jalapeños in this to make it spicier.

I chose to opt for deep-frying this. It is an occasional thing at home and such an indulgence on a rainy day is best enjoyed with a hot cup of tea!

 Sprouted Kala Channa with brown rice and a mystery health ingredient ( Nah! No guessing games – flax seeds)! Heaped in with Onion and shredded Cauliflower! Add a dash of this and a dash of that.. And you have wonderful pakoras!.. A cup of tea and you have a winsome combination!

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora - with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

Ingredients:

Legumes/ beans:

  • 1.5 cups of sprouted kala channa (Can be substituted for a mixed legume bunch or simply well soaked and rehydrated kala channa)
  • 0.5 cup of flax seeds , soaked for about 30 min or so . Alternatively you can simply grind it as a powder and add.
  • 0.5 cups of Sooji or Semolina or Rava – Medium kind
  • 0.5 cups of brown rice – soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes. ( Can be substituted for rice flour – 1/2 cup)

Vegetables/Herbs

  • 1 cup of grated cauliflower- steamed for about 5 min in the microwave. You can add it raw too.
  • 0.5 cups of diced onions – finer the better.
  • 4-6 green chillies, fine diced
  • 1 Tbsp. of ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro – chopped fine
  • 2-3 Tbsp. of Mint  chopped fine ( optional)

Spices: ( Individual preference can dictate the kind of spices added)

  • 1 tsp of Garam masala powder
  • 0.5 tsp of Red chili powder ( optional to kick up the spice level)
  • 1 tsp of Chaat masala powder
  • 1 tsp of salt + adjusted to taste

 Frying:

  • Deep frying in peanut/ canola/vegetable /saffola oil of your choice.

 Method:

  • Grind to a thick consistency the ingredients listed under legumes or beans except the rava and rice flour of using. If using the soaked brown rice, please do grind it well. The batter should not be extra fine or smooth but be ground enough not to have any big pieces but have enough rough edges to have dimensions.
  • Add the sooji ( and rice flour if using) and mix it well.
  • Add in all the ingredients listed in spices and mix well.
  • Add in the ingredients listed in vegetables an herbs and mix well.
  • Let the batter rest for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil on medium high heat.
  • Test the temperature of oil by putting in a tiny dropfuls of batter. If it floats immediately to the top and is sizzling, you can drop the rest batter in batches. Just keep enough room for these to flip around.
  • Fry these in medium- high heat to a nice even brown. Do not fry in very high heat. If you do so, the outer layer will get cooked faster than the inner one and it is not something you will relish!

Enjoy with a hot cup of tea and some great music !

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora - with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

 

Key Lime Muffins with Glaze

What would you do…. For a lime muffin? According to my daughter, an entire school project without complaints !

My butterfly (A2) was in a bit of a flighty mood yesterday . Saturday chores not withstanding, there was bit of a reluctance to do anything. Preteen issues I suppose. So while flitting around the kitchen and clearing up stuff for me , there was a declaration of “I will not do any more of my project work today”. Ahem ! Now when Mommy darling presented the solution of deferring it to Sunday, it fell on deaf ears !. But I guess you arrive at the solution when you want to…

Key Lime Muffins with Glaze

A2 is also an immense fan of my baked goodies. Yay! I have a fan ! Actually I have 3. To bring out the summer in spring and the spring back in her step , I promised to make lemony muffins with glaze…. How do you do it without lemons? Make it key lime muffins with glaze and I had a grinning kiddo …And her brothers of course got it too..

Key Lime Muffins with Glaze

So here’s to really light and melt in your mouth key lime muffins with just the right amount of tart, sweet and zing ! Bite one and I suppose you would experience burst of summer too!

 Prep time : 10 – 15 min  Bake time 20 min Servings : 12

Ingredients:

Muffin:

  • Self rising flour: 1.5 cups
  • Baking soda: 1/4 tsp
  • Egg : Large, 1 beaten
  • Sour Cream : 3/4 Cup + zest of 1 key lime
  • Lime Juice : 2 Tbsp. ( fresh)
  • Pure lemon / lime extract : 1/2 tsp. ( optional)
  • Veg oil : 1/3 Cup
  • Sugar : 3/4 Cup Preferably brown soft sugar
  • Milk : 1/3 Cup

Glaze:

  • Confectioners sugar : 1.5 cups
  • Lime Juice : 1 Tbsp.
  • Zest of key lime : About 1 Tbsp.

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • Whisk the self rising flour  and baking soda together initially.
  • Then add in the brown sugar and whisk it once more.
  • Break a large egg and whisk it with 1/3 cup of oil. Seta side.
  • To 3/4 cup of sour cream add in the zest of 1 key lime . ( Do make sure you wash the lime very well). Also add in about 2 Tbsp. of fresh key lime juice from these. You can also add 1/2 tsp of lemon / lime extract of desired to kick it up a notch. Whisk it and set aside.
  • In a stand mixer or a mixing bowl, add in the dry ingredients first and then the milk and egg-oil mixture and sour cream and whisk it till well combined.
  • Line muffin cups in your pan. This batter should make about 12 regular sized muffins.
  • Add to about 3/4 of the cup and bake for 18-20 min. Do the skewer test to ensure it is fully cooked.
  • These muffins are utterly soft and totally melt in the mouth. Perhaps you can even substitute for a cupcake!
  • Remove from the oven and cool before glazing.

Glaze:

  • Add all listed under glaze and whisk well together. If the mix is a bit dry , just add a tsp. of water to bring it together.
  • Glaze as you like !

Perfect muffins that remind you of summer in spring!

Eggless Cinnamon Braided Bread

My little tyke, or rather my littlest tyke is a Ninja who decimates sugar ! He loves sugar, cinnamon, bread and did I mention sugar again ! I have the whole spectrum covered at my place – from zilch sugar to feed me sugar! On the Sunday when I had a bit of baking bug in me, I made key lime muffins and this. The cinnamon roll version of this was awesome and I always wanted to try my hand at this.This is a pretty easy version and it was a cinch to make it. Looked a mighty fine sight and was so flaky too.

  Swirls of cinnamon running in tasteful little veins and tied up in a pretty little bread – On second thoughts though, on baking, the braid turned not so little but remained super flaky, moist and so so soft..

 It was so good that I did not bother to glaze it. Was perfect and reminds you of interlocking cinnamony flaky croissants.

Eggless Cinnamon Braided Bread

 Prep time : 30 min

Resting time total: 70 min or so 

Baking time : 35-40min

Ingredients

For the dough: 

  • Unbleached, Unbromated All purpose flour : 2.5 cups
  • Baking powder : 1/4 tsp
  • Baking soda : 1/4 tsp
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp
  • Warm milk : 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp.
  • Lemon Juice : 1 Tbsp.
  • Vegetable oil : 1/4 cup
  • Butter melted : 1 Tbsp.
  • Instant Dry yeast : 2.25 tsp. ( 1 sachet)
  • Sugar : 1/3 cup ( used soft brown Sugar)

Filling:  

  • Soft brown sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Fine ground cinnamon powder : 1.5 Tbsp.
  • Room temp or softened butter : 3-4 Tbsp. ( softened or at RT)

The glaze: Optional , I did not need this.

  • Powdered sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Milk : 2 Tbsp.
  • Pure Vanilla extract : 1 tsp.

Recommended: 

Brushing the dough with 2 Tbsp of milk before baking

Method:

Making the dough:

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer add the sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry instant yeast to this and mix thoroughly with a whisk or paddle mixer.
  • Add the dough hook attachment and on low mixing speed add the oil and butter mix, followed by the milk + sugar+ lemon juice mix.(In a small bowl, mix milk with sugar and add the lemon juice and add to the flour. It’s ok if the milk slightly curdles. It works good.)
  • Knead well until you get a nice smooth dough. Let the dough rest in warm dark place until it doubles in size. Depending on the temperature and weather conditions , it might take anywhere from 35 min to about an hour.
  • Once it has risen sufficiently, take out the dough on a greased counter top. Gently deflate it and roll it out to form a big rectangle. Mine was a good couple of feet in length.

Making the cinnamon sugar filling and baking:

  • Mix the softened butter +sugar + cinnamon to have a wet filling.
  • Spread the mix on the rectangle and make sure you get as much to the edges as possible. Pat gently so it sticks to the roll.
  • Now roll gently from the longest side and make a tight toll. Pinch the seams and ends. Slice it vertically in the center.
  • You will now have exposed veins of the cinnamon butter running through the dough.
  • Lay both of strands lengthwise and pinch one end of it together.
  • Braid it overlapping each other and exposing the cinnamon strands.
  • Loop it around and tuck the end under the dough to form a circular piece where you cannot see either of the ends.
  • Grease a baking sheet / parchment paper and lay it over  baking sheet.
  • Lay the braided roll gently over greased sheet on the baking tray. Cover with a greased saran wrap and let rise for another 20 min.
  • Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Brush the dough with 2Tbsp of milk using a pastry brush to give the nice glaze after baking.
  • Bake 35+/- 5 minutes. Keep an eye to just bake it  nice golden brown.
  • Take out from the oven and dive in when they are warm!

Eggless Cinnamon Braided Bread

Glaze/Topping:

If you do decide that you want the glaze, whisk the ingredients listed under the glaze or topping section and drizzle over your baked braided bread.

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

There was this particular little nook in the city of Chennai ( then Madras) where I grew up which boasted of some great restaurants. Not the fancy shmancy type mind you, but the small ones that bring out the flavors of the cuisine. One particular one had this dish as their signature one and it was always served with flaky layered flat breads aka paratha. Not just any paratha, but this was the malabar parotta, an erstwhile cousin of the lacchha kind , except it was made of APF or refined flour.  Hot piping korma, served with flaky bread and a cup of steaming hot coffee. You would forget about the calories for once and indulge in this fare. This was so worth it on an occasion! 

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

 An awesome combination of mixed vegetables stewed in white gravy with perfect combination of spices. Do not be overwhelmed by the exhaustive list of spices. This is a quick prep one.

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

 Prep time : 15 minutes  Cook time : 20-25 minutes  Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

Vegetables:

  • Carrot – 1/4 cup, diced
  • Beans – 1/4 cup, 1 inch pieces
  • Peas – 1/4 cup
  • Cauliflower – 1/2 cup, small florets
  • Potato – 1/ 4 cups, diced
  • Bell pepper ( green/ colored) – 1/4 cup diced
  • Salt – 1 tsp.

For the gravy/ Masala Paste:

  • Fresh or frozen Grated Coconut – 1/4 cup
  • Cashew/ Almonds – 6-8
  • Khus Khus ( white poppy seeds) – 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Clove – 2
  • Cardamom – 1 ( whole green)
  • Fennel seeds  – 1 tsp
  • Green chilies – 4-6
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  • Garlic – 2 pods- (optional)
  • Oil : 1 tsp.

 Seasoning:

  • Oil : 1 Tbsp.
  • Onion – 1 medium, chopped finely
  • Bayleaf : 1
  • Fresh Curry leaves : 4-6
  • Cloves ( black) : 1

 Garnish:

  • Fine chopped cilantro : 2 Tbsp.

 Method:

 Preparation of the Gravy:

  • In a wide saucepan ( with a lid, so it can be used later too) add in 1 tsp of oil.
  • When it heats up  add in the whole spices to begin with and roast for a minute or two,  adding the ginger and chilies and garlic pods if using next, followed by the cashews to a get gentle brown hue, then the coconut and the poppy seeds.
  • Remove set aside to cool.
  • When cooled down blend it  with a cup of water or so to get a nice smooth sauce or paste. The gravy yield should be nearly 1.5 cups to 2 cups.

Preparing the Korma

  • In the same wide saucepan ( needs a lid) , add in 1 Tbsp of oil . When it heats up add in a clove, the bayleaf , fresh curry leaves. It should sizzle a bit. Add in the fine chopped onion and sauté till well cooked.
  • Meanwhile microwave/ parboil or steam the veggies  with a tsp of salt . Should take about 5-7 minutes in the microwave. The veggies are cooked till they are almost done. ( The final cooking would be done when it simmers in the gravy)
  • Once cooked, add in these veggies to the sauce pan and stir for a minute or two along with the onions.
  • Add in the prepared masala paste or gravy, cover the pan and let it boil or about 5 minutes or so. Lower the heat and simmer for another minute or two.  Over cooking will impact the flavor and consistency of the dish. Would definitely recommend to do a salt and spice taste test at this point.
  • Switch off the heat. Serve it hot garnished with fresh chopped cilantro.

Accompaniments:

I served this korma piping hot with Masala Avocado Paratha or flat breads and a simple Jeera rice.

Masala Avocado Paratha – Whole wheat flat bread, perfectly spiced.

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

 

Pan cooked Jeera Rice – Fragrant Basmati rice cooked with tadka of Cumin seeds in ghee or butter .

steaming jeera rice
steaming jeera rice

 Notes:

If you would like to make a richer version of this you can always add in some pan-fried cashews and a dash of cream to this preparation.

Tomato Rice – With Vegetables. Simple,wholesome,easy!

My interest in genetic manipulations aside, today was a bang on start crazy day. Thunderstorms kept me awake and up and fidgety from an ungodly hour. Clearly the singing of ” brown paper packages ” works only in movies. Bright and early and in this case it was  bright and early and a wee bit cranky cause of all the missed sleep, missed school bus and more! There was this real need to whip up breakfast, lunch dinner and after school snack in about an hour’s time. Make that for 4 please!

For those days when you want something quick and easy, nutritious and guilt free, lip-smacking but not having to do gob smacking work and of course if you absolutely need to clean only one pan or pot, then this works wonders.

Tomato Rice - With Vegetables. Simple,wholesome,easy!

 Please, while I absolutely and fervently hope to use and definitely advocate the utilization of fresh vegetables, a steady supply of fresh frozen organic ones are at hand too as a lifesaver / stopgap for me.  This recipe is so versatile that you can add and reduce the number of vegetables or combinations of it based on the contents of your refrigerator or rather your freezer.

Tomato Rice - With Vegetables. Simple,wholesome,easy!

 Best summarized by  Curnonsky on cooking, perfection, and simplicity “In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection.” Presenting a simple one pot meal that is so perfect that you just need an accompaniment of cool cucumber raita and roasted papad, and you have a winner on your hands.

Perfect cooked and fluffy rice - rich in taste simple in prep
Perfect cooked and fluffy rice – rich in taste simple in prep

 Prep time : 10 min  Cook time : 20-25 min Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

 Rice:

  • Long grained / Basmati Rice : 2 Cups

 Vegetables and Herbs:

  • Onion: 1 medium or large, chopped or diced fine
  • Tomatoes : 2 medium-sized ones, diced fine
  • Peas and Carrots : 1/4 cup ( frozen or fresh, diced)
  • Mint sprigs : a few, chopped roughly to yield 2 Tbsp.
  • Fresh Curry leaves: 2-3
  • Grated Ginger : 1 tsp.

 Whole spices:

  • Cardamom : 1( cracked open)
  • Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
  • Bay leaf : 1
  • Cloves: 2
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.
  • Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp.
  • Fennel seeds: 1/2 tsp.

 Masala Powders, Salt and Oil

  • Sambar Masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder : 1 tsp ( optional)
  • Red chili powder : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1 – 1.5 tsp.
  • Oil : 2 Tbsp.

 Garnish :

  • Fresh chopped cilantro : 2 Tbsp.

 Method:

  • In a wide saucepan or deep skillet ( must have lid) add in the oil and on heating add in the whole spices. The spices sizzle and yield an aroma that is quite good. Add in the curry leaves and grated ginger now.
  • Add in the chopped onion and sauté then very well . Add in the chopped mint, followed by the peas and carrots. Stir for a good couple of minutes so the carrots and peas start to stew a bit.
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes next and sauté for a minute or two and then add in the salt. Based on how juicy your tomatoes are, the next step  will take any from a couple of minutes to about 5 or so. Let the juices of the tomato and veggies reduce a bit.
  • Add in the Sambar masala powder, Garam masala powder and chili powder. Stir very well and let it remain for a minute to shuck off its raw taste.
  • Meanwhile wash the rice very well .
  • Add in the washed rice to this tomato and vegetable mix in the pan. Stir in the rice very well so it gets coated with the spices, oil and vegetables.
  • Add in 4 cups of water ( 2 cups of basmati rice is usually cooked in about 4 cups of water to yield soft , fluffy grains. You might need to adjust the water based on the rice used) and cover and cook for about 15 minutes or so. Do not stir in between. Do cook on medium heat as well.
  • Once done , fluff up the rice, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with cool raita  and fresh roasted papad.

Chili Tofu Pepper Stir Fry and Rice

Ever heard this song from the movie ” Howrah Bridge”?

Mera Naam Chin-Chin-Chu

Chin-Chin-Chu, Baaba Chin-Chin-Chu

Raat Chaandani, Main Aur Tu

“Hello, Mister, How Do You Do?”

 I love Geeta Dutt’s vocals in this and the lovely Helen gyrating to this peppy number. But this is as authentic representation of the land of Confucius as the cuisine from my birthland espousing the Indo – Chinese fare. Authenticity apart, if we do not innovate then we probably would never have anything new to go by at all.

This weekend, I found myself in of those health stores and I spotted a pack of sprouted, non GMO,organic tofu – extra firm. I wanted to make something that would appeal to all 3 A’s but would appeal more to A1 if I dump some hot sauce in it.

So here we go, Tofu Chili Stir Fry served with hot steaming rice. C’mon , it would be hard to resist this fare. The best part is it takes only a few min to cook.

Active prep : 15 min  

Marination & resting: 30-60 min  

Cook time : 15 min

Serves: 4

Ingredients for Tofu Pepper Chili Stir fry:

  • Tofu : 1 big log/block – extra firm.
  • Bell peppers: Mixed colors , cut in big pieces : 2 cups
  • Onion : Medium size, red, Cut in strips
  • Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp.
  • Veg Oil : 2 Tbsp.
  • Stir fry/ Soy sauce : 1 tsp.
  • Hot chili ketchup : 1 tsp.
  • Red chili flakes/ powder : 1/2 tsp. (Optional)
  • Corn flour : 1 tsp + 2 Tbsp. water
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh Cilantro : Chopped : 1/4 cup.

 Marinade :

  • Ginger garlic paste : 1 tsp.
  • Honey : 1/2 tsp.
  • Cornflour :  2 tsp.
  • Soy sauce/ Stir fry sauce : 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt : A pinch

 Method:

Prep the tofu first :

  • Wrap the tofu block in paper towels, and express out the moisture. It helps, if you place something of a heavy nature on it and drain it out if required through the colander. Take care to not to smush it. We need to cut it in cubes. This could take anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes depending on the nature of your tofu.
  • Once drained, cut the tofu  into big cubes.
  • Mix everything listed in the marinade to make a thick paste of sorts. Toss the cubes of tofu in it. Let it marinate for about 15 minutes. If you can wait a bit longer, you can let it sit for about an hour.
  • In a big wok or skillet, add in 1 tbsp. of oil and when heated, add in the pieces of tofu to sauté/ brown it evenly on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Stir fry:

  • Add in one more tbsp. of oil in the same skillet and add in the ginger-garlic paste, red chili flakes /powder and thin strips of onion. Cook the onion till it is translucent and then add in the  mixed peppers and a bit of salt. Cook the peppers till it retains a bit of a bite in it.You want the peppers nearly cooked but not completely cooked, so you will have a bit of crunch to it.
  • Add in the sauces, ketchup and the cornflour paste and the cubes of sautéed tofu.
  • Stir, check for salt  and garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with steaming cup of rice.

Chili Tofu Pepper Stir Fry and Rice

Accompaniment:

Quick Veg Tossed Rice:

Chili Tofu Pepper Stir Fry and Rice

Prep time : 10 min  Cook time : 15 min        Serves : 4

Ingredients:

  • Frozen peas and Carrots mix : 1/2 cup
  • Onions: thin strips : 1/4 cup
  • Butter : unsalted : 1 Tbsp.
  • Oil : 1 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp.
  • Black peppercorns: 1/4 tsp.
  • Bay leaves: 2
  • Green Cardamom: 1
  • Salt : 1 tsp./ to taste
  • Basmati Rice: 1.5 cups
  • Water : 3 cups

 Method:

  • In a big non stick sauce pan ( this needs to have a lid) , add in the tbsp. of butter and oil and warm it.
  • Once it heats, add in the cumin seeds. Add in the whole spices as well.
  • Add in the thin strips of onions and saute till well cooked.
  • Now add in the peas and carrots and stir for about a couple of minutes.
  • Add in the washed rice and stir it too along with the spices and veggies for another minute or two.
  • Salt it with about a tsp of salt. Mix well.
  • Add about 3 cups of water , give it a stir and cover and cook for about 15 minutes in medium to high heat.
  • You should have perfectly cooked rice in that time.
  • Turn off the flame and then gently toss it with a fork and serve.

 Chili Tofu Pepper Stir Fry and Rice

An awesome winning combination up your sleeve!