Life..a miracle

Life..a miracle

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Diwali! The festival of lights!

The biggest festival has come by and already past us.. :( This time I have to completely blame my work for making me miss out on it.. I had made elaborate plans for Diwali.. I was planning to make rangoli (colorful design patterns) everyday! But instead I had to work to my day's end! Anyhow I of course tried to do my bit for Diwali and this post is going to just document that!

First of all, I have to tell you all, how great my fiance is! All my plans started falling apart on the main day of Diwali..but my sweetheart took the initiative did all the shopping,decoration and also the actual puja for Goddess Laxmi. Look how pretty.. :)

Diwali means making yummy treats- both savory and sweet and sharing them with your loved ones. I of course had to make something on a healthier side..and I have found that there isn't really any thing that falls under that category. Nevertheless I decided to make my favorite savory treat - Chivda and a sweet which was originally called Dilpasand burfi.

Masala chivda
Chivda is a crispy snack made from puffed rice. It has a lot of variations and of course I had to make my favorite variation.

For the masala:
1 tbsp asafoetida seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp amchur powder
2 tsp red chili powder

  • Mix all the ingredients and grind them to a fine powder. You can vary the amounts as per your liking. 
For the chivda:
2-3 tbsps chivda masala
4 cups thin puffed rice (thin/medium poha) - I lightly roasted them to get them crispy.
10-12 curry leaves
1/3 cup peanuts
1/3 cup cashews
6-8 green chilies cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sliced dried coconut
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp turmeric powder
oil as needed
salt and sugar to taste

  • Mix masala, sugar and salt. Keep it aside.
  • Shallow fry the peanuts, cashews,coconut and curry leaves in oil and keep them aside. Crush the curry leaves lightly.
  • Heat oil in a deep vessel. Once heated add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the chillies and let them get crisp in the oil. Now add turmeric powder followed by the masala.
  • Once the masala separates itself from the oil, add the puffed rice and mix well and let it stay on medium heat to come together and keep mixing it frequently but delicately. Be careful to not break the puffed rice.
  • After the mixture has come together add the peanuts,cashews,etc mixture to it. Mix everything well and let it get roasted for a few more mins. Check the taste and adjust the spices,salt and sugar. Let it cool down and store in a air-tight container. The chivda is ready to enjoy!

Sorry for the poor picture quality but this chivda was over before I could get any more pics. :( But that's not really a bad it!

I had different plans for the sweets, but of course nothing really goes as planned. So without wasting too much time, I decided to pick a recipe and make it. I chose the well know Tarla Dalal recipe for Dilpasand burfi.

Anjeer-badam-kaju Burfi

Here is the original recipe, I didn't have any pistachios at home and decided to substitute it with almonds. But to my despair, it didn't turn out as well as it should have. :( The flavor was definitely up-to-par. The cashew burfi and badam burfi weren't reduced to the right level and ended up having excess moisture. Due to this I couldn't really roll them as desired. If you get into a similar trouble, then refrigerate the individual burfis for a few hours and then roll them together. I was in a hurry since it was almost 1am and I had an early workday to begin and so in a hurry I just rolled them together, due to this the cashew and almond burfi got meshed in together. Anyways hopefully next time I will be more careful. Nonetheless everyone loved them!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Healthy streusel cupcakes

I guess before I begin I have to mention this.. Yes, I have been baking almost weekly now..and no I dont gobble everything.. in fact this time I have made enough to share.. ;)
Baking has surely become my stress buster.. at the end of a grueling week, my mind starts wandering around to find something yummy to bake! Last friday, I found just about the right thing to make!

After baking for the past few months, I felt pretty confident to experiment and found out that Abby Dodge had posted the October #baketogether challenge. I have been trying to participate in this monthly event for past few months and finally this month I got the perfect recipe.

I love coffee cakes! I am a coffee person and everything that goes well with coffee becomes my favorite too. I love the streusel and I dont spare even a tiny crumb of it. But this cake was going to be something else. I was dying to make a healthy version especially since I am trying to cut down big time! I love the fact that Abby encourages everyone to create their own version and instead of making a cake I preferred to make cupcakes and so here goes:

Streusel cupcakes

For the streusel:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup oats
1/4 cup walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the cake:
1 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar (I used less than a cup and add about 2 tbsp honey)
1.5 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg & 1 egg white at room temperature
1 cup yogurt, at room temperature
  • To make the streusel: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Drizzle over the melted butter and, using a fork (or use your fingers), mix the ingredients are well blended and form small crumbs. Pop in the fridge while you make the batter.
  • To make the cake: Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour the sides and bottom of a 9 x 2-inch square baking pan or a cupcake pan.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves. Whisk until well blended. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar and vanilla until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add about half of the flour mixture and mix just until blended. Add the yogurt and continue mixing just until blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture.
  • Spoon about a tablespoon of the batter into each of the prepared molds and spread evenly. Evenly scatter half of the streusel mixture over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter evenly over the streusel and spread evenly. Scatter the remaining streusel evenly over the top.
  • Bake until the top is browned and a pick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until warm or room temperature.

I was so anxious that the moment I got them out I had a bite..and got discouraged. :( The sugar in the cupcakes has not settled. The cupcakes looked so pretty, I was feeling really sad. But today when I tried one again, it tasted almost perfect. I know a little more sugar would do, but today I didn't really miss it. The streusel had just the right amount of sweetness and balanced the whole flavor well.
These will be perfect for breakfast, lunch or even as a snack! Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A sweet treat for a sweet return

Time is truly flying by..Just when I thought it was still September we have already entered the next month. My work has been taking most of time and it has turned out to be a favorable distraction especially since the better half was away for the past week. But with his return I of course had a reason to celebrate and but of course it had to be something that was healthy yet delicious.

After a little bit of research, I had it narrowed down to two recipes and finally decided to make this lovely banana nut bread. I got the original recipe from Joy of and can be found here.I didn't really fiddle with it too much, I just halved it because I prefer to make bread in smaller quantities. It makes sure that it gets consumed before you get bored by it!

With some minor changes and some nuts, my first bread turned out really great! I haven't even spared a crumb of it! yum.. :)
Here's the recipe:

Low-fat Banana Walnut Bread

Ingredients: (Double the recipe to have a standard size loaf)

1 ripe banana (mashed) 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tbsp canola, vegetable, or corn oil
6 tbsp light brown sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup walnuts coarsely chopped
pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Spray an 5 x 2.5 inch(mini) loaf pan with a nonstick vegetable cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the baking soda and yogurt. Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the batter.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg or egg whites, and vanilla. 
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt. 
  • Then combine the banana mixture with the oil mixture and then add to the flour mixture. Stir just until all the ingredients are moistened. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 45 - 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

I know my blogs have been mostly about baking..but with the wedding so close..I don't get to splurge a lot and end up making the usual.. but with the festive season coming to its peak in the next few will surely see some traditional recipes from me..stay tuned!