Monday, 15 April 2019

Self Frosting Walnut Fudge Cake (Vegan)

Walnut Fudge Cake (Vegan)
It never ever ceases to amaze me how our master and creator thought of every little detail before he created our mother, The Earth. Be it the hierarchy of small animals eating plants, bigger predators eating small animals thus creating a balance in nature. He has it all planned to the letter T.

Take God's own pharmacy for example, a cross section of a slice of carrot resembles the human eye, a tomato has four chambers and is red, just like the human heart, a stalk of celery looks like a bone and is replete with bone nourishing minerals. A walnut looks like the brain and helps develop more than three dozen nuero transmitters to enhance the functions of the brain!

On our recent brand association with Pure Mart India I was lucky to be sent some of their amazing products, right from their source of origin. The state of Jammu & Kashmir. While the plump, ripe and delicious blueberries went in to make a refreshing summer smoothie, their Kashmiri Kesar (Saffron) was freshly plucked and full of aroma, which I copiously used in making my Prawn Biryani and some Tropical Fresh Fruit Popsicles.

Saving the best for last I thought of creating a unique recipe with their Snow White walnut kernels (Snow White Walnut kernels are wonderfully colored kernels procured from Kokernag, packed with high protein content and omega 3 fatty acids which are vital for cell growth, preventing diseases and boosting the immune system.)

Walnut Fudge Cake (Vegan)
 Thus, walnuts, wholewheat flour, coconut milk and raw sugar with a little bit of imagination went into creating this rich, dark, sinful, fudgy yet clean Self Frosting Walnut Fudge Cake. Now I know that the name is a mouthful, but you can call it anything you like. Its easy to come together and a great way to make a dessert for many.

Read on for the recipe.

Self Frosting Cake - Pudding Cake

Yield: 9 portions

You will need:

Dry Ingredients
100 grams (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour, sifted
50 grams (1/4 cup) walnuts, ground to a powder
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients
200 ml (1 cup) coconut milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar
100 (1/2 cup) grams raw sugar
80 grams dark chocolate (1/3 cup) (atleast 70 percent cocoa)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 tablespoons (30 grams) cold coconut oil

Vanilla essence, 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup boiling hot water
50 grams (1/4 cup) raw sugar


In a bowl mix together all the dry ingredients till combined well.

In another bowl add in all the dry ingredients and microwave till all combine into a homogeneous liquid.

Gently pour the wet into the dry bowl and combine using a whisk, so that no lumps form.

Add in the vanilla and mix in well.

Now pour the batter into a prelined and greased (7x7 inch) baking tin.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar evenly on the surface.

Now add 1/2 cup of boiling hot water on top of the sprinkled sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180° Celsius for 30-35 minutes until the cake is firm at the sides but still a little undone in the center.

Switch off the oven and allow to cool inside the oven for another 30 minutes.

Remove and allow to come to room temperature.

Refrigerate for two hours, then invert, carefully peel off the baking paper and cut into squares of desired sizes.

The water that settled at the bottom will magically transform into a pudding like frosting.

Dust with icing sugar or serve alongside a dollop of ice cream.


Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Peanut Jaggery Ladoos

Peanut Ladoos
 There could easily be an pean dedicated to today's source of good fat.

These magical nuts are not only great for the heart by lowering bad and increasing good cholesterol, but are also great to do away with bloating and fight feelings anxiety and depression all thanks to the copious amounts of anitioxidants and Vitamin B6 that they contain.

No prizes for guessing then, that today's goodfat is the one easily available with your local grocer, supermarket, tea stall and most certainly in your own kitchen - The Peanut.

These super super nutritional Peanut Ladoos have been made and consumed in Indian kitchens since time immemorial and for good reason.

Did you know that, a mix of peanuts and jaggery together has a much higher antioxidant profile than any single fruit. Their individual advantages are of course well known to each one of us.

So make them and consume one daily, no need for that 99 percent dark chocolate piece now eh! 😉

Read on for a super simple recipe below.

You will need:

2 cups roasted (skinned) peanuts
3/4 cup grated jaggery (donot use the jaggery powder or granules)
3 cardamom pods, powdered


Transfer your peanuts to your blender or food processor.

Pulse in short bursts to get a breadcrumb like texture.

Now add in the grated jaggery and pulse again to combine.

Transfer the mixture onto a large dish, sprinkle cardamom powder over it and incorporate in well.

Take a tablespoon sized portion of the mixture and squeeze a couple of times to form a rough lump, the slowly roll into a ball within your palms.

Since its hot now, store in the refrigerator and consume within a month.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Berry Pulao (Zereshk Polow ba Morg) Navroze Recipe

You might have heard about Nowruz peripherally. The United Nations formally recognized it as an international holiday in 2010; President Obama extended Nowruz greetings to observers every year of his administration since 2009 . Then-first lady Michelle Obama even held a Persian New Year celebration at the White House in 2015, complete with the Obama family’s own haft-seen (more on what a haft-seen is here).

If you didn’t grow up celebrating Nowruz like I did, though, the concept might be confusing — actually, it was even a little confusing for me, since my childhood memories of Persian New Year mostly concerned salivating over the delicious food my mother would make in its honor.

But once I started to learn more about what Nowruz means outside of food — which, to be fair, is an important part of most holidays on this planet — I realized how fascinating its layered traditions really are.

What is Nowruz?
Nowruz marks the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one, and it occurs on the day of the vernal equinox.

More accurately, the new year begins the second the equinox does — so, not just at the stroke of midnight. Usually, the equinox happens from March 19 to 21.

No one knows exactly how far back Nowruz dates. The best estimates sit somewhere in the range of 3,000 years. But the most important thing to know about Nowruz’s origin story is that it’s rooted in Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion that predates both Christianity and Islam. (Since Zoroastrianism dates back thousands of years, it’s hardly confined to within the borders of Iran or the many versions of the Persian Empire there have been — which is why Nowruz is also celebrated by millions of non-Iranians around the world.)

After thousands of years in the making, Nowruz remains too beloved, universal, and deeply embedded in Persian culture to ignore.

And because the holiday has been around for so long, it suffers no shortage of related traditions. But there are nevertheless a few basic, foundational tenets that nearly everyone who celebrates Nowruz — in Iran and elsewhere — upholds.

Zereshk Polo ba Morgh is a Persian classic made with Zereshk (barberries), Morgh (chicken), and Polo, which is the steamed and fluffy Persian rice. This is one of the mixed rice dishes that you will find at small casual get togethers, as well as larger Persian dinner parties, weddings and most festive celebrations and holidays.

The chicken is the main component of this recipe and it is cooked separately in a tomato saffron sauce, so it is easy to make in large amounts; the same goes for the rice.  This is why Zereshk Polo Ba Morgh is a favorite “mehmooni,” or party rice dish in Iran. This festive rice is steamed and layered with a mixture of red zereshk berries and golden fried onions, then garnished with almonds and/or pistachios.  .

The tiny ruby red barberries “zereshk” add a tangy flavor to this khoresh and they are grown in the eastern part of Iran, in Khorasan province. There is also another species of zereshk which is less tart and much darker in color, and it’s actually called “zereshk e siah” meaning black barberry, that is grown in Kermanshah province in the western part of Iran.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any soon enough, so made do with cranberries.

I happened to later find out that Barberries are available on good ole Amazon too!, oh well!, wish I would have checked earlier!.

You will need:

For the rice and tahdig
3 cups basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
1 cup dried barberries (you can find it from Persian or Afghan grocery shops) OR cranberries
3 teaspoons butter
3 teaspoons any unflavoured cooking oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 medium sized potatoes (peeled and thickly sliced)

For the Chicken Gravy
4 chicken legs OR 3 chicken breast pieces
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Kachumber Salad
Lime wedges
Pistachio nuts, quartered - to garnish


Start by dry roating the saffron strands for 20 seconds, then powder them using the back of a spoon.

Transfer these to a small bowl and fill with 1/2 cup hot water and keep aside.

Lets start making the rice.

In a large pot cook the rice, along with salt in a lot of water, once the rice is half cooked, drain off the water in a colander and keep aside.

To make the Tahdig (Crunchy base layer made of rice, tortillas or potatoes)
In the pot that you cooked the rice, put in the oil and butter, once slightly hot, put in the sliced potatoes.

Cover these with the par boiled rice.

Make the shape of a mountain with the rice and make a few holes, with the back of the spoon.

Gently drizzle 1/2 cup of reserved rice water all over this rice and also fill in some of the holes with small cubes of butter.

Cover the pot with a clean cloth, and then place a lid over it.

Cook this on your lowest burner on low heat for 35 - 40 minutes.

Once cooked, switch off the flame, remove the lid and allow to air dry till you prepare the chicken.

In a small pan saute the berries with a 1 tablespoon butter and 2 teaspoons sugar, add in 2 tablespoons of the prepared saffron water and allow to cook off.

Switch off the flame and keep aside.

Take half cup of the cooked rice and add in two tablespoons of the saffron water to it, saute for a minute on low flame and set aside.

To make the chicken gravy

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan and cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side on a medium flame.

Remove from the oil and set aside.

Now in the same pan put in 2 tablespoons oil and fry the onions till golden, next add in the tomatoes, tomato paste and all the spices, along with the salt.

Mix well and add in 1 cup water.

Add in the fried chicken pieces and finally the remaining saffron water.

Allow to come to a boil, the switch off the flame.

For the layered presentation of Zereshk Polo: 
Use a large spatula to transfer ⅓ of the steamed aromatic rice to the serving platter, top with ⅓ of the barberry mixture and continue layering and finish the top with the remaining zereshk. Garnish with sliced almonds and/or pistachios.

Serve the chicken and Potato Tahdig on a separate platter.


Zereshk, or barberries are red tart berries that are available at Persian markets and online. If unable to purchase zereshk, you may substitute with dried cranberries, keeping in mind that most dried cranberries have been sweetened with sugar and will give this dish a sweeter taste.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Mango Achaar - Pickle and Ancient Wisdom

Mango Pickle - Mango Achar
As the rest of the world patiently awaits the onset of spring, praying to do away with the never ending winter, We here in the Indian subcontinent are blessed. Yes blessed, for we have ample sunlight, a happy springtime and glimpses of an impending summer.

Which means that our markets have started to sprout some tender raw mangoes, that are delicious, juicy and have a mild sourness to them.

This means that it is time to pickle them.

Growing up I loved sour foods and pickles disappeared with the bat on an eyelid in my home. Unfortunately I ate happy helpings of them and they did no good for my ever breaking out face, my stomach lining or my oesophagus. Acidity was a regular and unwelcome guest.

As realisation dawned, I decided to cut off my childhood favourites completely from my diet, thus pickles, limes and papads were all shown the backdoor. This continued for a good decade, until one day I sprouted some greys and retuned some others (grey cells).

Now Ayurveda or the ancient Indian wisdom of mindful eating and cooking has become a constant in my life. Not a day passes without me reading up on atleast two new pages of this brilliant science.

Today I wish to share some beneficial nuggets from my reads and also enlighten you on the magic that was your grandmas kitchen.

Homemade pickles are safer and healthier as compared to others because of a number of reasons: we get the choicest of ingredients for the pickle, we don’t put adulterants, artificial colours or preservatives and other harmful additives. When you eat store-bought pickles, you aren’t sure of the quality of the ingredients and their safety. Unfortunately, pickles have earned a bad reputation over these years because of a number of reasons. 

Lets tackle them one by one,

Fear – Pickle is full of salt and oil
Fact – Without the oil and salt, the gut-friendly bacteria won’t grow and you won’t have all the benefits of the pickle. This is because store bought pickles donot undergo the process of lacto fermentation. 

Lacto-fermentation, also called lactic acid fermentation, is a method by which vegetables, dairy, and even bread doughs are preserved through the process of fermentation using beneficial bacteria. 

Lacto-fermentation is easy. All it takes is some fresh vegetables or fruit, jars or a big crock, salt and some spices, That’s it.

The process works because the salt you use kills the bad bacteria, while the good bacteria survives and flourishes and starts to turn lactose and other sugars into lactic acid. This creates the acidic environment required to preserve the food. The lactic acid also provides the tangy flavor that we love.

Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria so by consuming fermented foods you are adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system.

Fear – The salt in the pickle will cause blood pressure problems
Fact – It’s not salt that causes BP, it’s habits like lack of exercise, poor sleep hygiene and packaged, processed food that causes it. Use unprocessed jada or kala or sendha namak as per your food heritage.

Fear – Oil is not good for heart health
Fact – Consumption of fat or oil doesn’t cause heart problems. Your bad habits are to be blamed (refer to the fact related to BP above). Use kacche ghani ka groundnut/ mustard/ sesame (til)/ gingley oil according to your food heritage.

Fear – Pickle is unhealthy
Fact – Pickle is a storehouse of minerals, vitamins and friendly bacteria. 1-2 tsp of pickle every day can help reduce bloating, anaemia, Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies and is even helpful for irritable bowel syndrome.

There is one caveat though and no way out of it, it is that to avail the above mentioned benefits of achaar is that it should be made at home. 

The recipe that I'm sharing today was mastered my late father in law, come some he would tirelessly wash, dry, cut, salt and then pickle his favourite Rajapuri mangoes.

I hope that you will like this recipe and yourself some delicious Mango Achaar.

You will need:

3 raw green mangoes
4 teaspoons pink himalayan salt
3 teaspoons mustard seeds
3/4 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar

For the tempering
1/4 cup gingelly oil/sesame oil
1/3 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
4 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp asofoetida (hing)
Few curry leaves


Start by washing the mangoes thoroughly and then cleaning them with a dry towel, allow them dry out completely preferably for a few hours in sunlight.

Chop the mangoes into bite sized pieces and then toss them in salt so that each piece is uniformly covered.

Leave these untouched for two days for the process of lacto-fermentation to begin.

On the third day the mangoes would have released a lot of liquid, to this mix in the vinegar and keep aside.

To make the tempering 

Start by dry roasting and finely powdering the mustard and fenugreek seeds in a mortar and pestle.

Then heat up the oil and once hot enough, add in the curry leaves, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.

Once the mustard seeds start to pop, turn the flame to low and add in the prepared ground spices, along with the turmeric powder, red chili powder and asofoetida.

When the spices start to emit a lovely nutty aroma, it means that they are cooked, at this stage switch off the flame and allow this mixture to cool down completely. (This cooling is very important, donot mix the mangoes into hot oil)

Once cool, add in the oil and spices into the mangoes and coat all the pieces thoroughly.

Store in an airtight glass container and enjoy a little everyday with your meals.


Store the achaar in an airtight glass container
Allow the ingredients cooked in oil to cool down completely before mixing into the salted mangoes.
Use clean and dry spoons only.
If you follow this recipe, there is no need to keep the achaar in the fridge
Do not heat the vinegar.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Aliv che Laadu / Halim Ladoo / Garden Cress Seed Power Balls - A miracle worker.

People who lose weight often restrict their calorie consumption. For proper functioning of the human body, it is important that our body receives the necessary nutrients for ideal operations. Lack of optimum calorie intake, leads to deficiencies in the body. Just like our body needs food, similarly, our hair also requires an intake of nutrients for their healthy growth.

Hair loss after weight loss is usually associated with a condition called Telogen Effluvium or fluctuation in the Body Mass Index that causes physical stress, which signals the hair follicles to move into an inactive stage.

Unfortunately our weight loss is almost always coupled with hair loss as well and thus started my quest to find a natural way to grow it back, minus pills, procedures or doctors.

Now, I'm all for natural methods and though slow, they do have long term sustainable benefits.

My research led me to the ancient Indian system of medicine a.k.a Ayurveda and from one such read I came across the miraculous benefits on the human body of Aliv or Garden cress seeds.

Cress, sometimes referred to as garden cress to distinguish it from similar plants also referred to as cress (from old Germanic cresso which means sharp, spicy), is a rather fast-growing, edible herb.

Garden cress is genetically related to watercress and mustard, sharing their peppery, tangy flavor and aroma. In some regions, garden cress is known as mustard and cress, garden pepper cress, pepperwort, pepper grass, or poor man's pepper.

When consumed raw, cress is a high-nutrient food containing substantial content of vitamins A, C and K and several dietary minerals.

Garden cress, known as chandrashoor and the seeds, known as haleev in Marathi, or halloon in India, are commonly used in the system of Ayurveda. It is also known as asario in India and the Middle East where it is prized as a medicinal herb, called habbat al hamra (literally red seeds) in Arabic.

A great source of good fats.

The health benefits of these tiny seeds are numerous, but today I will focus on why they are such a rich and great source of good fats (thereby contributing to the growth of new hair follicles).

* Garden cress seed oil is an excellent source of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), Phytosterols, antioxidants (tocopherols, Phenolics). α-linoleic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid present in seeds, which is needed for a healthy body. Unfortunately, it cannot be produced in the human body, hence the need to source it from our diets.

* Garden cress oil can serve as an alternative source of omega-3 PUFA, especially for vegetarians.

* Garden cress oil is an excellent source of natural antioxidants needed for radical scavenging
activities in the body.

* Some researchers claim that a regular consumption of Alpha-linolenic acid could be helpful in preventing cardiovascular diseases as well.

The recipe that I'm sharing today is ancient, a preparation made in almost all households across the length and breath of the Deccan belt of India, Aliv che Laadoo or Garden cress seed power balls are a powerhouse of  of iron, folic acid, calcium , vitamins C, E and A. The seeds are high in calories and protein and contain essential fatty acids .Since they contain phytochemicals that resemble estrogen to some extent, intake of these seeds help to regulate menstruation and stimulate milk production in lactating mothers. That is why women are given foods containing Garden Cress following childbirth.

Aliv ladoos are easy to make and taste delicious too.

Lets take a look at the recipe (provided by my dear friend Dipti)

Preparation time: 1 1/2 hour
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 35 medium sized ladoos

You will need:

Measurements used 1 cup = 200 ml
1/2 cup Aliv / Halim / Garden Cress seeds
1 cup water OR coconut water
3 cups fresh coconut, grated
3 cups jaggery powder OR grated jaggery
1 tablespoon ghee
1/4 cup almond and cashews, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder


Soak the garden cress seeds / Halim / Aliv in water in a bowl for at least 1 hour. If time permits soak them for 2-3 hours. On soaking the seed coat swells and gets covered with a slimy layer.

In a large pot add the fresh grated coconut and jaggery powder, almonds and cashew nuts, mix well.

To this mix add the soaked garden cress seeds (skip dry fruits if you don’t want to add them).

Mix well and cook on medium heat until the mixture comes together and leaving the sides of the pan.

This takes about 15 minutes.

Turn off the gas and add in the cardamom powder.

When the mixture cools down a little, roll into balls.

Do not let the mixture cool down completely or the ladoos won’t hold shape.

Consume one everyday.


The garden cress seeds can be soaked in an equal quantity of coconut water or plain drinking water instead of milk.
Any nuts can be used in the ladoos.
The ladoos have a shelf life of about 15-20 days on refrigeration.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Old Fashioned Almond Macaroons

Old Fashioned Almond Macaroons
Almond Macaroons, always transport me back to my childhood. To mini vacations that my cousins and I would take to Pune, to leisurely strolls down Pune's M.G. Road, absorbing the crisp cool air, sitting at one of its iconic bakeries, sipping on chocolate milkshake and getting take away's of Shewsberry biscuits, Batasa cookies, Choco walnut cakes and my personal favourite, these Almond Macaroons or makroom as we Parsi's would mispronounce them!.

Their wholesome nutty aroma and chewy texture is what I love the most and though years later now that I call Pune my home, my trips to town have reduced to a shameful trickle...

My six year old, the ever demanding cake and cookie lover, keeps me on my toes, thinking of ingenious ways to let him have his treats minus trans fats, refined flours and sugars and boat loads of invert corn syrup.

Surprisingly these Almond Macaroons are one such genius cookie, who's base ingredients needn't be altered much. The only change I made to a very simple recipe was substituting refined with coconut sugar and viola, the nuttiness of the almonds just got even more deeper.

This recipe is a keeper for sure, for kids or just old times.

You will need:

Whole almonds - 360 gram
Coconut sugar - 180 grams
2 eggs
1 small lime
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Cooking oil for rolling - 1 tablespoon
Few whole almonds, to garnish


Grind the almonds and coconut sugar in a grinder until you get a powder with a fine texture.

Grate the peel of the lemon to get the lemon zest.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, whisk the egg whites using an electric whisk until they hold stiff peaks.

Mix the egg yolks with the almond powder, powdered coconut sugar, lemon zest and baking powder.

Incorporate the egg whites in the egg yolks mixture. Use your hand to mix the dough to ensure that all ingredients are well incorporated.

To roll the macaroons, take some cooking oil in your hands so that the dough does not stick to them.

Take a small amount of the dough and roll it in a ball, press an almond half into the center of each dough ball and flatten it a bit, and place it on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F and bake the macaroons for 15 minutes.


When still hot, the macaroons are very soft, their texture will change as they cool down.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Eggfree Semi N*kd Gingerbread Cake

Christmas and cake have always been mutually inclusive in my head, ever since I had my first bite of plum cake I suppose, twenty years and counting, not a year has passed that I haven't baked an intoxicated and sinful Christmas Cake. This however has never stopped me from making a new Christmas special recipe in addition to my all time favourite.

Winters mean a time for hot chocolates, snugly blankets, book reads on overdrive and spicing most food that hits my throat with a good dose of ginger.

I suppose its my Zoroastrian genes which make me a ginger lover. This blogs' archives are testimony to that love, seek and you shall find many a ginger recipe that I have created over the years.

This year, I prepared a gingerbread cake, frosted it with simple powdered whipping cream spiced with freshly squeezed ginger root juice and decorated it with gingerbread cookies and though I made it for the mister's birthday, it was my own way to heralding in the most wonderful time of the year.

Read on for the recipe
Yeilds: Two 5 inch layers

You will need:

Dry ingredients
All purpose flour - 1​1⁄4 cups
Baking Soda - ½ teaspoon
Ginger powder - 2 teaspoons
Cinnamon powder - ½ teaspoon
Clove powder - ​1⁄4 teaspoon
Salt - a pinch

Wet ingredients
Butter - ​1⁄4 cup (57 grams) softened
Castor sugar - ​1⁄4 cup
Molasses - ​1⁄2 cup
Apple puree - ​1⁄4 cup

Hot water - ​1⁄2 cup

In a bowl combine all the 'wet ingredients' and whisk till light and fluffy in texture.

In another bowl whisk together all the 'Dry ingredients'.

Now fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a spatula, in three batches, till all the flour is mixed in well.

Lastly add in hot water and combine well, this helps keep your cake moist and soft.

Pour the batter equally between two pre lined 5 inch baking tins and bake @160 degrees Celcius for 20 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool down completely and frost using a 50 gram packet of powdered whipping cream.


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Self Frosting Walnut Fudge Cake (Vegan)

Walnut Fudge Cake (Vegan) It never ever ceases to amaze me how our master and creator thought of every little detail before he creat...