Oct 28, 2011

Fostering Puppies and Awards!

This week has been really busy for me. I volunteered to foster two puppies for two and a half days while their caretaker was away. He's more angel than care taker. Currently he has 19 animals that he is taking care of. (Yes that's right EIGHTEEN! I only had two pups and I am dead by the end of it.) Of the ninteen, 14 are his own (they include dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, puppies and kittens). I didn't realize how much goes into taking care of puppies. They sleep a lot, but when they are up and about they are all over the place. It is a lot  of fun to see the silly things they get scared of, the crazy lengths they go to just to get what they want and the most adorable is the way they intently listen to what you are saying by tilting their heads from side to side. By the end of two days I was as attached to them as they were to me.

Here is my excuse for the lack lustre Vegan MoFo performance last week! What's yours?

 Pulling at my camera strap!

The exceptional Richa of Hobby and More, the wonderful Sarah of Winged Snail and the amazing Louise of Louise by Degrees  were kind enough to honour me and so many other bloggers with the 'Liebster Award' (Liebster in German means 'dearest' or 'beloved')! My blog has never gotten an award! So THANK YOU SO MUCH Richa, Sarah and Louise!!

More than an award it is an appreciation of friendship over food. It is so nice to be connected to so many people who I have never met and who share the love of food, specially vegan food. There are so many deserving food bloggers out there sharing their hard work with millions of people. What do they get in return? For me it is when people try out the recipes and tell me how much they liked it, or call me up in the middle of making the recipe with a 'Help!' or experiment with new ingredients. Everyone makes the recipe their own and that is what I love about food. You may have read millions of cookbooks and blogs but you get the most out of it when you make the recipe your own.

The idea behind the award is to give recognition to blogs that have less than 200 followers. Here is what you do when your blog is nominated for an award:
1. Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Link to 5 of your top picks and let them know they've been nominated by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the the award on your blog.
4. Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the interweb!

http://aucklandvegan.wordpress.com/ : Who writes about the lovely food she eats from her travels and her home town
http://grimconfetti.blogspot.com/ : A vegan mom with the cutest little 4 year old who cooks up some yum food I'd love to eat!
http://myveganlondon.wordpress.com/ : Giving us the vegan scoop from London.
http://www.emmakat79.blogspot.com/ : For some lovely photos and the cutest fanged pumpkins!
http://vegfortworth.com/ : Whose Marmite-baked Chickpeas I'd love to try!

It's been a busy week for me and tomorrow I head south for a power packed weekend which includes a vegan lunch meeting at an organic restaurant and the Metallica Concert!

Oct 27, 2011

Diwali in Pictures!

It's Diwali in India and I thought I'd give Vegan MoFo a peek into what it is like here in India right now.

Diwali is a once in a year phenomenon in India that goes on for almost a week. The roads are full of people, the shops are decked to attract maximum crowds, lanterns and lights adorn balconies and the kitchen is a mess! It's that time of the year when you get together with family and eat from the time to wake up till the time you sleep. It also involves a lot of noise and bad air in the form of pollution, but I have to admit, this has been one of the quietest Diwalis I have experienced so far and that is such a boon.

This post is a dedication to all the women who toil day and night in the kitchen to make the best traditional recipes for their visitors. It's also for all those people who did not burst crackers. All the birds and animals thank you!

This post is more of a picture essay of my Diwali day spent with the best cooks in my family making the best food. 

A Common sight in most houses - Chivda (Flattened rice which is roasted and seasoned with mustard seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric, green chillies, peanuts and dried coconut) 

Baby Potatoes with mustard seeds, turmeric and red chilli powder 

My grandmother making a vegan Chakkai Payasam (Jackfruit Pudding in Coconut Milk)

The vegan Chakkai Payasam

Fried Plantain Chips 

My Lunch! Clockwise from top: Baby Potato Curry, Appam, Rice and Mung Dal Pongal, Avial, Spicy Potato Chips, Kosumalli

A very potent Diwali 'Medicine' (Ginger, Jaggery and Coriander)

My sister's Payal 

Athai's Kolam (A fine powder is made with rice and geometric designs are made outside houses every morning. On festival days, the designs get bigger and elaborate. These geometric designs are considered to invite special energies in to the houses and also serve as food for the ants!)

My mother's Kolam (I forgot to click a picture during the day!)

By night, everyone lights tiny lamps and candles all over the house and outside.

 My sister made that lantern!

Probably the best time to play with Bokeh

Neighbour's Hand Painted Lantern

Another neighbour's terracotta lampost

Starry Lantern

Firecrackers in the sky

My apartment complex

My contribution to Diwali - Carrot Payasam with Cashew Milk

An unfortunate end to my Diwali - a tree on fire. I hope they managed to put that out.

Oct 22, 2011

Mushroom and Bean Burgers from scratch

This is the actual name of the burger: 'Shroom-Kidney-Horse-Sage Burgers with Pesto smeared Hand Made Buns. :)

Sounds corny, I know. Who would've thought you could have them all in one sentence!

I desperately wanted to eat a burger! Having never made one from scratch, I thought it was apt specially because BBC's Good Food Magazine was launching and they'd asked us to come up with something that we've never done.

I hate the burger breads you get in the stores. The bread we get here is thoroughly refined and seasoned with lots of dough conditioners, improvers and preservatives. Let me tell you, once you make whole wheat bread at home, you will cringe every time you eat so called 'whole wheat' bread outside.

It had to be a veggie burger and I absolutely did not want to put potatoes in! Such a misconception the Mc Ds of the world have created!

Here's what you need:

For the Bread:

500gm Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Instant Yeast
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar
1/3rd cup oil
Warm water
Herbs of your choice (I used fresh Oregano and Thyme)
Sesame/ Flax Seeds (optional)

Mix all the dry ingredients.

Stir in the water and add till you get a nice workable dough. Add in the oil and knead for about 5 minutes.

Cover it with cling film and let it rest for about one and a half hours or till the dough is now almost double in size.

Preheat your oven now to about 180C

After that, punch the dough down and knead for another five minutes. Add in the herbs and make them into burger bun shapes but flatten the tops. Brush on some water and sprinkle sesame and flax seeds.

Let it rest for ten minutes and pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes till they are golden brown and sound hollow when you knock on them.

Notice the lack of sesame seeds? They all fell off because I brushed the top with oil instead of water! Nevertheless, a tasty burger bun.

For the Burger Patty:

1 cup horsegram (soaked for 4 hours and cooked)
1 cup Red Kidney BEan (soaked for 8 hours and cooked)
1/2 cup Soya chunks (soaked for an hour and bolied for ten minutes)
1 steamed carrot
(you can add other vegetables like steamed potatoes, peas, pumpkin, etc)

1 Onion diced
2 cloves of Garlic
1/2 a Red Pepper diced
15 Button Mushrooms diced
Fresh or dried Sage
A Few sprinkles of Habanero Tobasco Sauce (Because i like it spicy)
A dash Soy Sauce
Oil or water for sauteeing

Saute the onion and garlic in oil or water. Add the Red Pepper, Habanero Tobasco, Soy Sauce and Sage. Add the mushrooms.

Mash the cooked beans with a potato masher. Cut up the soy chunks and carrot. Add them all in to the pan with the mushrooms and mix well. Take it off the flame and start making the patties.

Cook each side of the pattice on a flat pan or a grill till crispy and brown.

 The Assembly:

You need any or all of the below:

Pre-made Pesto (I use fresh Basil, cashew, salt, garlic and olive oil)
Sliced Yellow and Green Peppers
Sliced Cucumbers
Sliced Tomatoes

Assemble and enjoy!

Pickle me up! - DIY Daikon n' Mustard Pickle

Who doesn't love pickles?! They could be sweet, salty, sour, oily and spicy too. All those lovely flavours in a jar. I've never really tried to pickle anything even though I love them and associate some lovely food memories with pickles. Of all the pickles a few of my favourites are a vegetable pickle my paternal grandma makes, the spicy mango my maternal grandma makes, a very north indian Carrot-Turnip-Cauliflower pickle which was sent to my room mate in Auroville and a very mustard-y Bengali Mango pickle made by Naturellement.

For two weeks in a row I saw giant White Radishes / Daikons (Moolis) in the market. And by giant I mean really big, like over a foot long. I couldn't resist picking it up. Having never pickled anything, I decided to use my memory of the taste of the Bengali Mango pickle and use the radish. I ended up with a huge jar of lovely yellowy radish pickle.

I must warn you though, open the jar of pickle in another room before serving it. The inital smell every time you open the bottle can put people off, but luckily that lasts only for a few minutes.

You need:

One White Raddish

1tsp Mustard Seeds (Rai)
1tsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
1tsp Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)
1tsp Aniseed (Sauf)

1/2 tsp Asafoetida powder (hing)
1/2 tsp Dry Mango Powder (amchur)
1/2 tsp Turmeric (haldi)
1tsp Red Chilli Powder

1/2 cup Oil

Wash and dry the radish. Cut it up into juliennes (long thin strips).

In a wok, dry roast the mustard, cumin, fenugreek and aniseed will they are fragrant. Powder them till they are fine. Once it is cool, mix in the asafoetida, dry mango powder, tumeric, red chilli powder and salt.

Add in the oil and mix it with the radish strips. A lot of pickle recipes I've read ask you to keep the jar in the sun for a day. I don't get too much sunlight at home, so I just left it out on the windowsill for the day and kept it in the fridge at night. By the next day, the radish had started fermenting and had taken on the wonderful flavour of the spice mix.

My sister, not a big radish fan, used the pickle gravy on another green chilli pickle I had made. This spice mix could go well with almost anything you want to pickle. You could try carrots, cauliflowers, peas, capsicums.

Oct 17, 2011

South Indian Gun Powder

If you have ever eaten South Indian food, you know what I am talking about. Molagapodi (moh-lah-ha poh-dee) is often served with Dosas and Idlis, but actually it can be eaten with almost anything. It's a reddish-brown scary looking powder, served smothered in sesame oil, often known for being overly spicy. Every Tamillian household makes their own version of it and you will never find the same taste anywhere even if the recipe is the same exact thing because not only does it depend on who is making it, it also relies on the level of spiciness and colour of the red chilli depending on the variety, the amount of time you spend roasting every ingredient and your mood when you are making it!

Moplagapodi literally means 'chilli powder' but I think Gun Powder is a more accurate description. It's actually a very cleverly disguised powder containing lots of protein (lentils) and calcium (sesame). There are numerous versions of this powder but I like to use my grandmother's recipe simply because I really really like her gun powder (and I am not alone).

My granny's Gun Powder with Dosas

Best served with hot Dosas and Idlis, sesame oil is added to it to tone down the spiciness. I prefer it without the oil. Why would you want to tone down anything that is spicy! You can alter the level of spiciness depending on your capacity by adding the chilli little bit at a time.

This is the way my grandmother explained the recipe to me. So I won't change it.

You need:

For 15 dry red chillies use the following measure. (I used organic red chillies that were pretty spicy)
1 small cup (standard 1/2 cup measure is what i used) Split chickpeas without the seedcoat (Chana Dal)
1 small cup white Urad Dal
2 small cups (1 cup measure) White Sesame (you can even use black sesame for a deeper colour and  better flavour)

Oil (Any oil that can be heated)
Asafoetida (hing) 1/4 teaspoon or more
A powerful dry grinder to make the powder

Wash the sesame and then roast it on a heavy bottom iron wok. The reason you wash it is so that when it starts to puff up while roasting it won't jump out of the wok. Keep stirring it around to make sure it is evenly roasted. Once it starts to make that splitting sound at frequent intervals and if it has become slightly darker in colour, it's done.

In the same wok, roast the Chana Dal and the Urad Dal one after the other till they are a very light brown  colour. Mix it with the roasted sesame.

Add oil to the wok and fry the red chillies. They will start puffing up quickly. Remove the Chillies and drain as much oil as you can while removing them.

Grind everything together. I like it to be a crunchy powder, so some tiny chunks are okay by me. Some people like it as fine as possible. Add in the salt and asafoetida. Mix well and transfer it into a bottle. Let it cool completely before closing the lid. This will stay for months outside.

Some people also fry Curry Leaves and add it while powdering. It adds some colour and lovely flavour to it.

 Clockwise from right: Fried Red Chillies, Roasted Sesame, Roasted Urad Dal and Roasted Chana Dal

It goes very well with south Indian food, but sometimes I like to add it to a vegetable I am cooking. It also goes very well with vegan yogurt so you can even make it into a dip. The possibilities are endless. I, however, catch myself eating this as it is.

My freshly ground Gun Powder

It is said, whoever is cooking adds their own flavours depending on their energies. That is why the same recipe made by two people will almost never taste the same. I still haven't gotten to my grandmother's level, but this batch got her approval!

Oct 16, 2011

Right Side Up Banana Cake with pour over Coffee Caramel

It's Vegan Mofo Iron Chef Challenge #2 and Isa decided to spice things up by giving us two ingredients - Banana and Coffee. One I love, the other, well... 

I eat bananas everyday - in breakfast smoothies, as an evening snack, for dessert. Recently I even made gluten free pancakes using dried banana flour. 

So it's safe to say that I could survive on bananas if it ever came to that.

Coffee, well it ends there for me. Coming from a South Indian family, coffee is a very integral part of the day and it's freshly brewed (filter coffee) every single day in all kitchens. Tamillians cannot breathe without their coffee. They start the day (6am) with a hot cup of strong coffee, have one more by 11pm may be, another at 4pm and if they really are insane, then another one after dinner. My mom never allowed us to drink coffee (and tea). It just wasn't offered to us. Her father (a doctor and a coffee addict) used to warn everyone about the dangers of coffee while drinking his daily cup of coffee. And it was well known then that children don't need the caffeine high. [I don't know how that perception has changed now and how it is okay to 'caffeinate' your child every day (a la Gatorade, Coca Cola, Tea, Coffee, the works)]

So it's safe to say that I don't like coffee.

This challenge was tricky for me. Since I was already up to my neck in cakes today, I decided I would try to make something sweet out of it. Yeah I read the challenge, brownie points for savoury stuff, I had a brainwave and I had to do it. I had 4 friends coming over, so I had an audience for feedback which was nice. Feedback I got, it's all gone!

This is a dense cake that's best served warm, but it makes a nice cold dessert too. I prefer using whole wheat flour because it makes the cake dense and fulfilling. I added chocolate because, well who doesn't love chocolate? And the pour over Coffee Caramel added some gooey quotient to it. I suggest pouring the caramel just before serving, since the flavour of coffee tends to disappear quickly. 

Right Side Up Banana Cake with pour over Coffee Caramel 

For the Caramel:

I had a previous batch of caramel sauce I'd made from this recipe. It makes the most delicious caramel sauce ever.

I brewed some coffee and mixed one part coffee to two parts caramel. This was a mild mix, good enough for me. If you like coffee, then you could use equal quantities of both.

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 175C

1 Big Ripe Banana
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon water

Cut the bananas into 1/2 inch thick slices.

In a saucepan, melt the sugar and water. Once it's melted, add in the lime juice. Pour it into the baking pan and spread. Arrange the banana slices to cover the entire bottom of the pan in an overlapping fashion.

Prepare the cake mix:

1 and a 1/2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup sugar or any sweetener
1/4 cup chunks of vegan chocolate
1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/2 tsp All Spice
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Corn starch
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup Soy Milk/ Water or any non dairy milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vinegar

Combine wet and dry ingredients separately. Mix and fold the batter lightly. Add into the pan with the bananas and spread evenly.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Loosen the edges of the cake and invert it onto a grill. 

Slice, pour the Coffee Caramel on the cake and serve!

Mmmm Mmmm Mmmmmm!

Oct 14, 2011

I ♥ Avocado

If wishes were horses, I would own a farm full of Avocado trees. I've planted two and wish they would start bearing me the damn avocados. I'm so obsessed with them that I once went six straight months in three different countries eating them at least twice a week. So it's not a surprise that this post is dedicated to my favourite fruit and I'm so going to want to eat one after writing this!

About 12 feet tall now!

Avocados are almost tasteless. I know what you're thinking, 'what an anti-climax!', right? All this for a tasteless fruit. But it's buttery like no other butter, juicy and succulent like nothing else in this world and it takes on the flavour of anything you add to it so beautifully. There are no tiny pits or seeds that you need to spit out while eating it, there is nothing in between you and that fresh, green bite of heaven.

Not many people in India know how to deal with this big green 'dinasour egg' looking fruit. Most of the people I have spoken to have said they don't like the taste of it. (But it is tasteless!) You probably just don't know when or how to eat it. I have done a post earlier about guacamole where I also go on to digress about sprouting the seed into a plant. But what do you do with the ripe light green almost-goo thats inside? How do you know when it is right? Do you know how to buy it?

Fear not, because in all my avocado (read guacamole) experiences I have some knowlegde about buying this fruit and using it effectively. Here is what you need to look out for:

1. A Dark Green (Not black) clear skin with minimum or no blemishes
2. Should be hard to slightly hard when you touch
3. Should not have fungus or damaged skin (on the top of the fruit) near where it joins the tree
4. Could be any shape or size, but is usually round like an orange or pear shaped

Where to buy it?
In Bombay, you can get it now in almost any suburban vegetable market. Usually the guys with the "fancy vegetables" like broccoli, zucchini, celery, etc. have it. But I prefer to buy it from Crawford Market.

When to buy?
Avocados are now available almost all year round. But I have heard that the ones after summer are the best. All (or most) of the avocados come from Karnataka to Bombay. Sometimes if you are lucky you will get the Pondicherry ones but I like to believe that the people in Auroville eat it all up, because that is what I did in the two months I spent there.

What to do with them?
Wait till they ripen! It is a very important phase of the fruit. So many ways to hasten the process, but the avocado will take it's own sweet time. Sometimes it can take upto two weeks, so be very patient. Let me tell you it all pays off in the end. If you cut into an unripe avocado be ready for some bitter experiences which will put you off the fruit forever. The best way to know if it is ripe is to press the fruit with a finger. If the skin gives in without too much pressure and you have made an indentation on the fruit, it is ready. You will learn from your mistakes. I have been so eager sometimes to eat the fruit that I cut it open too early and end up with a bitter taste. Sometimes the fruit is not bitter even when it is slightly unripe.

This time I was in for a surprise when I went to pick avocados from my usual vendor. The avocados were bigger than I have ever seen, even bigger than the ones in Mexico! They were literally the size of musk melons, each weighing a kilo! I was jumping inside at the thought of having a HUMONGOUS portion of Guacamole which is exactly what I did for breakfast. This fruit was so big, it made me easily one and a half kilos of guacamole which K and I polished off for breakfast one morning with some toasted bread. We were so full after that we couldn't eat lunch.

The Avocado is as big as my face!

Orange v/s Avocado

Ready for the Guac!

Everytime I buy avocados I decide I am going to try something different with at least one of them. Almost all the time they end up as guacamole because I just cannot resist temptation to eat it immediately. This time I held back and made some avocado ice cream (Yes I made something sweet again, I have cavaties remember). Depending on how big the avocado is, you blend the ripe avocado and add a sweetener with some flavouring. I made some chocolate icecream with it and served it up with some chocolate cake and chocolate ganache since the ice cream was not sweet enough. There is a lot more you could do with it also like put it in raw salads, put it inside sandwiches, burgers or tacos and even puree it to make a raw pasta sauce or mousse.

I don't know why but only when it comes to the avocado, I have no patience to try anything else with it. It's only if I have had two ripe avocados waiting to be opened on the same day will I try anything else with it. I know, I'm crazy.

All hail the Avocado.

Chocolate Avocado Ice cream with Dark Chocolate Cake

Oct 9, 2011

Eat and Meditate - Chole/Chana Masala

I was saving this post for tomorrow, but since the Vegan Mofo Iron Chef Challenge #1's secret ingredient is Chickpea and since the challenge ends soon, I can't stop myself.

Have you ever tried making Chana Masala or Rajma without Onions and Garlic? I just did and it's quite awesome! Why would I do something like that? Sometimes it's nice not to end up with skin smelling of onion/garlic for the next three days. It does happen if you eat more garlic than anything else and most often when you eat out. I don't know why but restaurants really love their garlic and may be they think that without the addition of the same, food won't taste good. Even Italian food in India ends up tasting only of garlic. I just can't stand it anymore.

Being a South Indian, our daily cooking is all vegetarian and also doesn't involve onion and garlic. Of course now with the bastardization of traditional cooking with the invention of the microwave, non-stick and what not, even the ingredients added to traditional foods are changing. Of course some call it invention, but excuse me for not liking onion in my sambar unless it is an Onion Sambar.

My great-grandmother to this day won't touch food with onion and garlic. I did ask my grandmother why it wasn't added in food then and why to this day she also is just like her mother (except on Sundays..haha). She said in those days, left over water from fish farming was added to grow Onions and Garlic. But I think somewhere the roots of these decisions lie in Ayurvedic cooking where onion and garlic were considered Rajasic and Tamasic (the energies in these foods don't allow you to meditate). Even if you do certain meditation courses, they will tell you not to eat onion and garlic. Apart from the South Indians, Jains also follow these guidelines and also omit all root vegetables for many more reasons.

So this recipe is something that my great-grandmother, grandmothers and mother would enjoy. If you wouldn't tell anyone that it didn't have any onion and garlic they wouldn't believe it.

Oh and it also has no oil and is gluten free of course!

Serves 2 to 4

You need:
1 cup Chickpeas/ Garbanzo beans (If using dried, soak for 8 hours,drain and cook in fresh water)
6 ripe tomatoes
1 inch piece of ginger (omit this for the jains)
2 green chilies (optional)
3 pieces of Tamarind soaked in just enough warm water for ten minutes
1 tsp Cumin Seeds / Jeera
1 tsp Coriander Powder
2 tsp + 1/2 tsp store bought or home made chole/ rajma masala (I used Everest Masala for this)
1/2 tsp asafoetida / hing
A small piece of Jaggery
Rock Salt

Puree the tomatoes with the ginger and green chilies if you're using them.

Heat up a wok / kadhai and add the Cumin. Toss it around a bit and it should start emitting a beautiful aroma. Quickly add the coriander powder, rock salt and chole masala. Stir is around a bit and make sure it doesn't burn.

Add the tomato puree carefully. You have to let this cook really well. This step is the key. Stir is once in a while to make sure it's not burning at the bottom, if it is, add very little water and turn the heat down. It comes to an almost ketchup stage after about 12-15 minutes. It should be much more darker in colour and should be spluttering small bubbles all over.

Looks like a million-eyed monster face!

In the mean time, squeeze 'the life' out of the tamarind and use only the pulp. Add this to the tomato gravy once you are satisfied with the thickness of the gravy. Add the cooked chickpeas and the jaggery with about half cup water.

Let it cook away till the gravy reaches the desired thickness. Add salt and 1.2 tsp more of the chole masala.

Take it off the heat, squeeze half a lime and garnish it with some fresh coriander.

Serve hot with brown rice or rotis.

Buckwheat & Banana Flour Pancakes with Video!

It's VeganMoFo Sunday and it's time for some gluten free, oil free pancakes!

Off late for no rhyme or reason I have been trying a gluten free diet. It basically means I avoid anything with wheat and it's relatives. Here, even though wheat is such a major part of the diet, it's not that difficult to avoid. I have no signs or symptoms of any intolerance or allergy, but every once in a while I like to give myself some challenges.

It's very easy when you're cooking for yourself and also becomes easier if you are chosen for a trial for a new vegan lunch service for one whole week and their lunches are wheat free! What fun. I enjoyed the dabbawala delivered lunches for a week, but sadly that was only lunch.

Living in a Gujrati dominated suburb of Bombay has it's advantages. During the months when people are fasting most of the days, all these incredible non wheat flours suddenly come into the grocery stores. I always tend to bend towards the unknown and so I pick stuff that I wouldn't normally use. On one such pit stop I found Banana Flour. Banana Flour is common in the south of India. It is made out of dried raw bananas and thus is very starchy. It is made into a porridge and fed to babies who are just beginning to eat. I just bought it not knowing what to do with it.

I have been wanting to make wheat free pancakes for the longest time. I had a whole pack of lovely Organic Buckwheat Flour (another 'fasting' flour, also called kuttu, kutti) which is so commonly used in gluten free baking. I mixed in some Banana Flour and made lovely sugar-free, oil-free pancakes with them. These pancakes are super healthy, super fluffy and super tasty.

This post if specially for Harini, who is such an inspiration with her lovely personality, amazing food and tasty photos! She is specially trying to cook up gluten free stuff for her daughter and this would be a perfect Sunday morning breakfast for her!

I made a short time lapse video of how I made the pancakes which you will find at the end of this post!

You need:

1 cup Buckwheat Flour
1/2 cup Banana Flour
A pinch of baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon Date Syrup or any sweetener of your choice.
1 tsp vinegar
1 tablespoon Flax meal
1 tsp Vanilla Essence or One Vanilla Bean scraped

(These pancakes are not sweet at all. If you like your pancakes sweet, add more date syrup and reduce the water added to the batter)

Mix the flaxmeal with 2 tbsp water and set aside for 10 minutes. In a big bowl mix the Buckwheat Flour, Banana Flour, Baking soda and salt.

After ten minutes, the flax meal-water mixture would've become a stiff, thick, gooey mix. Make a well in the center of the flours and add this flax mixture, vinegar and vanilla. Add water and start stirring it till you get a nice thick meal. When you pull up the mixture with your spoon and drop it in, it should be stringy like in the picture below.

On a hot iron tawa/pan (I don't use non-stick stuff) put about 1/2 a teaspoon of oil and spread it around. Put a small spoonful of this pancake mixture in it and let it cook on one side. This is the way we usually start making doasas at home. We put a small amount of the dough/batter on a hot pan and let it cook on both sides before we start making the actual dosa/uttappam/ pancake. I guess it makes sure the tawa is evenly heated and if done properly, you don't need any oil for the rest of the dosas/ pancakes, etc. Of course this also depends on your batter, but this worked very well for these pancakes.

So just dab a nice big spoonful of the batter, spread it around quickly and carefully to about 1/2 inch thick and let the heat do the magic. Turn it over after about 20 seconds and let the other side cook. Drizzle with date syrup, add a few bananas or whatever fruits you fancy and enjoy them hot.

Don't forget to watch the video!

Oct 6, 2011

Lime and Nutmeg Jelly

It's Vegan MoFo day 6 already and I am under prepared. I'm aiming for at least 20 posts, thank god for that bottom limit! I don't think if it wasn't the Vegan Month of Food, I would have even clicked so many pictures in advance. Problem is I click the pictures and don't write down the recipe. So I end up having to recollect every teaspoon of whatever I put into that final picture.

Today it's time for something sweet!

I hate going to the doctor, let alone the orthodontist. When last week we went to get K's very bad teeth fixed, I decided to let my mouth be looked into. I shouldn't have. I knew I was asking for trouble. She took a very pointy instrument and jammed it into four of my molars and said what I didn't want her to say. I'm all for doctors and the like (not really), but getting treated conventionally is not my cup of sugar. I'm in the business of making sweet stuff, I eat meals between desserts and I brush once a day. I think I was asking for trouble. I bought one week from her and said I would do the fillings next week. I'm not going to.

I'm going to give myself six months to treat these cavities naturally. She warned me about a root canal if I ignore them. Little did she know, I'm also not into root canals. 

So I have taken an oath. Unless absolutely necessary (i.e. only when I'm baking orders) I am not going to indulge in anything sweet and also start brushing twice a day. It's tough, very very tough. And here I am writing about a jelly that is setting in the fridge.

Since I'm off the refined sweets, I made this with a not so refined sweet - date syrup. I'm using the store bought variety for this recipe, but you could as well make it yourself. I made this recipe long back for a vegan potluck that I hosted, I have tweaked the recipe since then and find that it sets better now.

This recipe uses agar agar which is a sea weed. It needs heat to get activated and hence needs to be heated with liquid for it to set. In Bombay we easily get agar agar sheets (aka China Grass) in local grocery stores. Since it is difficult to dissolve when it is so big, I put it in the blender to make it flakey.

You need:

1 cups freshly squeezed Coconut Milk
2 tbsp agar agar big flakes (If you have fine powder you reduce the quantity of the agar agar)
1 cup water
1/4 cup or more date syrup / Sugar/ Jaggery (add little at a time while you taste depending on how sweet you want it)
Juice of 1 lime
Vanilla Essence
Nutmeg Powder
A pinch of turmeric powder for colour

Boil the water with the Agar Agar flakes till it is completely dissolved (it takes about 5 minutes). Add in the coconut milk, sweetener, vanilla essence, turmeric. Bring it to one boil and take it off the stove. Now add the lime juice and stir. Put it into the serving bowl and let it stay absolutely still. I keep it inside the fridge so it sets faster. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle the nutmeg powder on top and make some art. Leave it in the fridge for about 45 minutes.

It sets like a jelly and is so much fun to eat.

Serve cold.

Picture courtesy Harini Prakash

Oct 4, 2011

Bloggers Everywhere!

It's October and it is Vegan Mofo time! For the first time I will be taking part along with over 650 vegan bloggers from across the globe in the 2011 Vegan Month of Food! And I can't think of a better way to start it off other than with a Bloggers Dinner!

Every month Rushina gives us food bloggers from Mumbai a change to meet up and indulge. This time it was at the ITC Maratha's West View Grill. Famously know for the 'Girls on the Grill', their speciality is the grilled course. You can choose from a variety of food and have it grilled while you enjoy your salad and soup course. Then of course, you get dessert!

 I will let the pictures do the talking!

Marinated Artichokes

Spicy Melon Balls

Flavoured Olive Oil 

My Salad Plate


Apples with Caramalised Onions (Delish!), Pumpkin with Eggplant Caponata

  Zucchini with Sauteed Spinach, Cous Cous stuffed Tomatoes

Grilled and ready to eat!

Rushina clicking away

Harini with her Sparkling Wine
Sous Chef and Head Chef

Some more girl power! The blogger girls!

Jyo all ready to take on the chefs!

Jyo's vegan plate with her 'Papa's magic Masala'
Pretty Blogger and Tea Connoisseur Snigdha
Writing her reviews, Sunayan

Vegan Dessert Part I - Chocolate Fondue

Vegan Dessert Part II - Apple baked with a center of Marzipan and Blueberries

Gifts from Jyo - 'Layya Channa' made by her dad and Snigdha's Handpicked Sri Lankan Tea 
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