baking, buckwheat flour, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, jaggery, quinoa

Of Sons and Daughters, and Gluten-free Seed Cookies

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Some weeks ago we were standing outside a shop in a market at Chandigarh. A lady (who I suppose believes in the power of small talk) came over with her grand daughter and asked me if the baby in my lap was my son or daughter. I replied that it was my daughter. Her response – Koi Gal Nai ( loosely translates into Never mind). I lifted my eyebrows and debated about giving her a earful about how angry her thoughts made me feel. And how awful I felt about her little grand daughter who has to live with such archaic, biased thinking. But I walked away. Why ? Because answers for such people and such thoughts will not lie in our words. They will lie in our actions. To counter every such a person who feels that it’s a pity that someone has a daughter and not a son – we need to raise sons who will themselves be the answers that shatter such narrow and petty ideas. 

Sons who will run up to their mothers after laying out the cutlery on a table so beautifully and feel a sense of pride in their work. Sons who will nag their mothers to teach them how to bake and cook. Sons who will come and boast to everyone about how nicely they had learnt to wash their own clothes. My answer to that woman is my 5 year old son 

On that note here is the recipe that my son and I worked on, to bake for my parents as we headed out to visit them for our summer vacations.

Recipe – Gluten-free Seed Cookies !

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1 cup buckwheat flour

1 /2 cup quinoa ( dry roasted and roughly ground)

1/2 cup jaggery powder

1/4 cup Ghee

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

melon seeds and flax seeds, as per your requirement

Method

Mix the first 3 ingredient well. Then add the nutmeg and seeds. Finally rub the ghee into it until you get a soft dough. Roll it and wrap it with cling film. Then keep it in the fridge for 2 hours. Then remove it, shape it into round cookies. Keep them on the baking tray in a spaced out manner, since they will spread a bit. Bake at 170 degrees C for 20 minutes, in a preheated oven.

 

 

 

 

butter-free, cake, chocolate, community impact, cupcakes, wholewheat

3 Reasons – Healthy Cupcakes and Sharing them with kids

3 reasons why we should distribute healthy cupcakes to kids to give a moment of joy when the poverty that surrounds them cannot be removed with just one baked good ? Well, there are more than 3 and very good ones at.

Here is #Why1 – Because look back on your own childhood. What do you recollect – the moment you tasted the delicious Chocolate souffle your mom made or the time you bought yet another new toy. What do you relive till your eyes overflow – the time your mom packed your favourite besan laddoos in a steel box when you left for hostel or when you graduated with a degree. If you are a little like me your food memories are the sharpest, the strongest, the most vivid.
Why would you then not create such memory moments for any other little child, no matter whose he /  she is. Perhaps one who is still believes that the warmth of the entire universe lies in the heart of a mother, no matter whose she is.
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#Why2 : Because what makes your heart soar like a bird in a clear blue sky – when your child gives you a tight hug with sweet grubby sticky little hands, and proceeds to explain how he told their friends about the chocolate pancake you make is the best in the whole world.
What breaks down our reserve of behaving like an ‘adult’ – when finally after many months, the little girl you handed over the cupcake to on the construction site you walk by regularly, does not avoid your eyes. She smiles immediately when she sees you and you smile back right into her kohl rimmed eyes.
You won’t forget your child’s words, his little hands overfull with pieces of pancake. You won’t forget that little girl’s smile that finally reached her eyes, even if for that moment.
Perhaps the two children won’t forget these moments either. Perhaps they will. But after 20 years it will come to them tiptoeing into their souls like a long-lost visitor. And will make the children again.
So reason 2 why we should distribute healthy cupcakes to kids to give a moment of joy even when the poverty that surrounds them cannot be removed with just one baked good.
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#Why3 : Because the need to be “seen” is far deeper and primal than we think. The desire to feel that someone has actually looked at me, has recognized that I am there. The “I” is not the ego. The “I” is the little voice inside the child who stands by the traffic signal, or sits and sings a chirpy song in the anganwadi, or smiles out from behind the make-shift blue plastic covered tent, that he or she calls home.
The “I” is the sweet soul-song of the child who is only hoping for a next meal, but receives a delicious cupcake 🙂  Remember when you asked your parents for a cycle perhaps on your birthday, and dreamt of the one in the shop window. And then when you opened your gift, you realized that the one they got you was the one that went even beyond your dreams – it was that amazing ! That is the feeling, when you hand over a cupcake to a small child, whose only hoping to be able to find a decent warm meal in that day.
So reason 3 why we should distribute healthy cupcakes to kids to give a moment of joy even when the poverty that surrounds them cannot be removed with just one baked good – Sometimes a cupcake can mean much much more to a child, than a meal, the powerful feeling of knowing that he or she CAN get something more than what is regular ordinary.
Video from a recent distribution of these cupcakes to a small government center for underprivileged kids in Domlur / Bangalore. Age 3-6 years.
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Recipe Credit- I replaced the flour with Wholewheat flour and excluded the lemon. 
banana, buckwheat flour, cake, chocolate, gluten-free

Unsung Heroes & Gluten-free Buckwheat Flour Chocolate & Banana Cake

Bangalore, April 2012. We had just moved to a city we didn’t know anyone in. Mala Didi, 60+ years old came to our home, asked if I wanted help with cooking and since I hadn’t hired a cook before,  I was a bit uncertain. But I had also discovered that day that I was pregnant with my son and with a full-time job plus the complications, I will need help. I said Yes. She started coming. A few days of hesitant instruction-giving from my end about what we ate, followed. A few days of curt nods in response to those instructions, followed. Slowly, Didi started observing how I was trying to juggle my new-born baby, the full-time job and my nascent home baking venture. And without a word she would do small steps that made me save crucial time – she would ask me what I was baking that day. I’d say “Date & Walnut Cake” . And quietly she would break the walnuts, chop the dates and leave them near my oven. She would ask a general question about how many loaves I had to bake, and since she knew I had only 1 loaf tin going into that 18 litre MR, she would see to it that the used one was washed and greased just I wanted it. My “thank you” was met with a gruff “yes , yes ( in Bengali)” almost as though she was self-conscious of being thanked for it. Then came a day when Didi’s son was diagnosed with cancer of the foot for the first time,  and she had to go to Calcutta. She was distraught and yet, as a grandmother’s heart is – in the middle of her worries, she asked me if I could bake a chocolate and banana cake for her grandson. She carried it along and the little boy loved it.

Here is my tribute to that lady whose grit despite life’s odds has been unmatched. Her son has been diagnosed yet again with cancer on the other foot. But she stood by him quietly yet again and helped him fight it. Just has she had stood by a new mother who was constantly on the verge of abandoning her home baking venture. She made me realize through her gestures, that I must go on and make it work. In some ways her grit and determination rubbed onto me.

Final

The Gluten-free Buckwheat Chocolate Banana Cake (No maida/no refined white sugar)

1 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

100 gms good quality dark chocolate ( at least 50% cocoa)

2 ripe bananas ( small)

2 small chopped fresh figs just for added flavour and texture

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

50 gms butter

1 cup milk

Method –

Mix the mashed bananas and egg together. Melt the butter and chocolate. Shift the flour and bp. Add the butter-chocolate mix to the banana-egg milk and ensure that all the ingredients are mixed well. Add the flour and milk alternately. Fold the chopped figs in.

Transfer to a loaf tin that has been greased and dusted. Bake at 170 degrees C for 30 minutes. Remove from tin and allow it to cool.

 

 

amaranth, butter-free, healthy baking, jowar, millet, savoury, Uncategorized

Sunday evening conversations & Gluten-free Pizza topped with barbecue chicken

gluten free Pizza topped with barbecue chicken. The base is made of jowar sorghum millet , foxtail millet grains and fresh amaranth leavesMondays are not the most exciting days unless you truly enjoy what you do for a living. Sometimes it becomes better because of conversations that you have had the previous evening just as the weekend was winding down.

One such conversation while I sipped my #tea was with my 5 year old. I usually try and ask him what he wants in his #snack box and we negotiate or re-negotiate to come to a common ground on what we both are comfortable with 🙂 Now, remember I am not aiming to win the parent of the year award and so these are tough discussions about why store-bought chips cannot be a part of the box. But there are many moments which fill my heart with pride for the child I am raising – I told him that I will give him paneer / cottage cheese as one of the items for a snack on his #tiffin . He responded back saying that he wanted to eat #foxnuts / makhana . And as if to convince me he added ‘those are as healthy as paneer, Mamma’ . Truly speaking those are healthier and I realised that the slow and often challenging process of inculcating #healthyeating in #children is finally paying off ! 

On that note, let me share yet another one of my little boy’s favourites – a healthy pizza made with a base that you can’t imagine and topped with barbeque chicken.

Baked gluten free Pizza topped with barbecue chicken. The base is made of jowar / sorghum millet , foxtail millet grains and fresh amaranth leaves !

1 cup jowar

1/2 cup coarsely ground foxtail millet

1/2 cup chopped amaranth leaves ( red ones)

1 green chilly and 2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp oil

Salt as per preference

1 tsp paprika powder for flavour

Warm water

For Topping – Homemade Pizza Sauce, Grated cheese, corn, capsicum, barbeque chicken pieces / shredded portions.

Mix the flours and the spices. Add the chopped leaves, green chilly and garlic and grind well.  Add to the flour-spice mix. Then add the oil and mix till it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add warm water to bring together the dough. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Roll it out into rectangles, cut the pizza slices / triangles and bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees C, for 15-20 minutes until crisp. Remove and cool entirely, before storing in air tight containers.

Use with any toppings of your preference, and bake again for 10-12 minutes with the topping.

 

 

 

 

 

biscuits, gluten-free, gramflour, rice flour, savoury, vegan, vegan baking

Vegan Gluten-free Mathri & Happy Harvesting !

Happy Sankranti , Lohri, Pongal ! What’s a harvest festival got to do with us – city folks to the hilt, rushing within the cycle of which new app to order food from or which new website to order clothes from. Don’t get me wrong – these are very important.

But so is the ability to pause , sow the seeds of the unexplored path you want to take and harvest the choices your soul makes. Sometimes that choice takes you down the beaten path , sometimes it gives you the courage to meander.

If you had asked me 6 years ago I would have looked blank when you said ‘vegan’ . More blank if you told me that I could bake a vegan cake that I did a couple of days ago.

But then, I meandered and happily lost my way into a world I didn’t know – that of healthy baking 🙂

Happy Harvesting of the choices your soul wants to make – let it meander !

In the spirit for vegan baking, here is an exciting recipe for you to try out 🙂 And to make it better, it is also gluten-free.

If you are like me then you love the taste of something to go with your morning cup of tea . I do not have a sweet tooth and so usually a mildly sweet rusk works well. But I love a good savoury option like these mathri which are made with fresh Amaranth (Lal saag) leaves , cumin seeds and a hint of spice .

Not your traditional mathri / matthi but yum all the same 🙂 for my son I did a non vegan version with ghee or clarified butter.

Flours used in this are gramflour and rice flour. Enriched further by using moong dal water rather than regular water.

 

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Recipe –

1 cup gramflour

2 tbsp rice flour

1 tbsp jeera / cumin

1 tbsp ajwain / caraway

Freshly chopped amaranth leaves

Salt and red chilly pepper as taste

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 cup oil

Moong Dal water to bring together the dough.

Mix all the dry ingredients well so that the spices are uniformly spread in it. Add the chopped leaves into this and make sure that they are coated with the spiced flour mix. Slowly add the oil and mix until it looks like coarse bread crumbs. Then add the moong dal water slowly until the dough becomes soft and like the consistency of puri dough.

Let it rest for an hour. Then start rolling it and cutting it into round shapes.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, at 160 degrees C. Cool well and store in air tight container.

 

cake, chocolate, coconut sugar, healthy baking, jowar, millet, oats

Baked Jowar(Millet)-Oats Dark Chocolate Fudge Squares & How the Mind is more powerful…

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Chanced upon this place in the heart of Bangalore and what a serene place it was , with a sense of purpose. A plant nursery by the Association of People with Disabilities, and the memory I will have imprinted on my mind is of a young boy without legs, expertly guiding us through the rows of plants to help us choose what we were looking for. I did not want to embarrass him by taking a picture and so I strongly urge you to visit the place to meet him, and realize how knowledgeable he is.

Truly the mind is so much more powerful than the body will ever be.

And the icing on the cake was to see my son loving plant our plants into the pots 🙂

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What more could one ask for , to brighten up a weekend ? There is one more thing that could brighten it up a wee bit more 🙂 These yum and healthy fudge squares.

 

Baked Jowar – Oats Dark Chocolate Fudge Squares

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  • 200g dark chocolate, broken into cubes (I used Bournville, 50% Cocoa)
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 125 gms butter
  • eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour mix ( half jowar, half powdered oats)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pre-Heat the oven to 160 C. Prepare a square tin or square sectional baking pan, since this is a traybake.
  2. Melt the chocolate, coconut sugar and butter in a pan. Keep stirring with the whisk and then when its well mixed, remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool off.
  3. Beat in the eggs,  flour mix and vanilla extract.
  4.  Pour the mix into the tin and bake for 25 mins or so.
  5. Cool in the tin and then cut into squares.

 

almond, baking, cake, coconut, coconut sugar, healthy baking, wholewheat

Gearing up to start 2018 and the Wholewheat Coconut Almond cake

Gearing up to start 2018 

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The cupboard can definitely be cleaner but that’s the best I can manage with a 5 year old and a 6 month old acquiring new personalities in 2018 – while one has discovered that she has a voice and she must use it at the highest pitch possible , the other has realized that he still prefers his sister’s rattles to his puzzles ( as is the case with all siblings !) .

But then 2018 was never going to be about a cleaner baking cupboard  it is about more and more opportunities to dig into it and try out all that it contains !

 

One such opportunity arose when I had to think through a healthy ingredient, for my healthy baking community bakers on Facebook, Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community, to bake with, for the month of January. And guess what – its Coconut !

Here is my first take ( or rather bake!) – a lovely Wholewheat Coconut Almond cake with coconut sugar. The thick sauce on top is a mix of Coconut cream, coconut powder and some almonds.

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Recipe –

1 1/4 cup wholewheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 dessicated coconut

1/2 ground almonds

3 / 4 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

100 gms butter

1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven at 165 degrees C for 10 minutes. Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the eggs and mix, one at a time. Add the ground almonds and dessicated coconut, and mix well. Add the sifted flour and milk, alternately.

Transfer into an 8 inch round pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes and allow it to rest before removing from the pan.

For the topping, all I did was mix coconut cream and some coconut powder. I am fine with the mild sweetness that the cream lends. But if you want it sweeter, add a healthy sweetener of your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

baking, healthy baking, oats, savoury, vegan, wholewheat

Of seeing joy in simple things…and Wholewheat Oats Jeera(Cumin) Kasoori Methi Crackers

IMG_5750One of the ‘big’ super-special outings my son and I shared while staying in Richmond Town, was to suddenly plan a visit to Cubbon Park ( The above picture is not of Cubbon Park, but another park in Wellington 🙂 ) . The serenity of the park especially on a week-day would re-energize me while the old-world no-frills rides, the toy train, a pack of juice and hot popcorn from the vendor there would fill my son with glee.
We shifted homes some months ago and the Park became very far to go to, in a spontaneous manner. I was a little worried  about how I might explain the sudden drop in our visits to my son when he asks about it again. In addition to that when we moved homes, I was 6 months pregnant with my second baby so I wasn’t looking forward to traversing the breadth of the city.
But, explaining things like distance and traffic to a 4 year old and then seeing his disappointed face- I wasn’t looking forward to it.
Then, he woke up one morning and said “After a while can I have some juice and popcorn?” My response – “Yes you can”. His reply – “Wow, that will be just like a ‘picnic’ , like when we would go to the Cubbon Park”.
A child’s mind is like a natural receptor for picking up the positives, absorbing the fun part of each situation and moving on. The child sees joy in the simplest of things.
An adult’s mind, on the other hand, worries and worries about the negatives and mundane issues. I learnt that from my son that day.
In line with seeing joy in simple things, here is a recipe that is not only simple, but brings together warm and hearty flavours that can create a sense of winter for you, even if you live in a city that does not have winters. Like me.
Wholewheat Oats Jeera-Kasoori Methi Biscuits
Final

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup Oats ( Rolled)

Jeera and Kasoori Methi, as much as you prefer

Salt as per your preference

Homemade garam masala, as per your preference

Red chilly powder , as per your preference

4 tablespoons of oil + 2 / 3 tbsp of ghee ( to make a vegan version, exclude ghee and add only oil)

Warm water to bring the dough together

Method

Mix together whole wheat flour, oats( I ground them roughly), salt, jeera, kasoori methi in a big bowl.

Add the oil and ghee, into the above mix and rub into it till it turns crumby. Add only as much warm water is needed to bring the dough together. 

Preheat oven to 165 degrees Centigrade and prepare your biscuit tray. 

Roll out the dough as thin as possible. Cut out the crackers with a cookie cutter. Arrange them on the baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes till it turns crispy. Cool it off and store. 

 

baking, gluten-free, healthy baking, millet, rice flour, savoury, Uncategorized, vegan, vegan baking

Being “Grounded” and Gluten-free, Vegan Spicy Jeera Crackers

Final picThe lady who was my house help at my previous home came to meet me a couple of days ago. We started catching up about each other’s lives – her by asking me about how I was coping up with the baby and me by asking her about whether she had found sufficient work. Somewhere along the line the conversation drifted into areas that I realized mattered to both of us, as mothers and working women – children’s education and schools, and rising house rents and inflation.

Life has a funny way of bringing back people from your past always – it’s just an amazing thing because while it’s great to be able to talk about larger complex issues to a wide audience, it’s as important to connect to someone who you can exchange ideas with on the ground level issues at hand – it keeps you grounded. It keeps you wanting to always come back to earth no matter how high you fly. 

Our link to the earth is what drives all else, no matter how widely we travel through the vast, blue skies. And on that note, here is a recipe which is earthy, uses flours and spices are more connected to our Indian taste-buds and fairly easily available locally.

1 1/2 cups Bajra / Pearl Millet flour

1/2 cup Rice flour

Salt , red chilly powder as per your taste

1 tsp of Amchoor powder

1-2 garlic pods that are mashed

2 tbsp Jeera

2 tsp homemade Biryani masala

3 tbsp oil

Hot water to bring it together.

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the oil and rub it in. Add the hot water and knead it. Cover and keep for 30 minutes to rest the dough.

Roll out the dough. Cut the shapes you want ( I used a pizza cutter for this). Roll it very thin so that they are thin and super crisp.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. And let them cool off. Store in an air tight container.

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amaranth, baking, coconut sugar, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, Uncategorized, walnut

Simple Tasks…Baked Gluten-free Date and Walnut Squares (contains no white sugar, no egg or baking powder/soda)

IMG_6258.JPGGive a child a simple task that involves some work , some fun and they can keep themselves engaged with it for such a long time. Amazing, absolutely wonderful to see it – I asked my son to help me wash, clean and dry some of the baby’s rattles and he spent over an hour doing just that. I might have done it faster – but then I wouldn’t have realised that enjoyment is far better than efficiency  And so I gave the task of mixing the flour with the dates and walnuts to my little boy when I was baking these yum squares.

Baking with Gluten-free flours is not an easy task. It takes a lot of experimenting, a lot of courage and a lot of thought process, to bake something that will be delicious and full of nutrition.

Here is the result of one such delicious baking experiment that took shape when I decided to check out the Grow Fit Gluten-free flour mix.

Chewy, intense and perfect for snacking Baked Gluten-free Date and Walnut Squares (contains no white sugar, no egg or baking powder/soda).

The Flour by itself, is Gluten-Free, Diabetes Friendly, PCOS-Friendly Thyroid-Friendly and Low-Carb. You may need to adapt the other components to ensure that the final baked squares fit in those parameters too.

Flour Link: https://getgrowfit.com/collections/essentials/products/low-carb-gluten-free-roti-flour

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Recipe –

1 1/2 cups of the Gluten-free flour ( mainly contains Bamboo Seed, Amaranth Seed, Soybean, Arrowroot, Oats, Flax Seed)

 

3/4 cups Coconut Sugar

Dates and Walnuts chopped

2 tbsp Honey

3-4 tbsp Ghee/melted butter

Mix the dates and walnuts into the flour and coat them well. Add the coconut sugar into this mix, using a whisk. Add the butter or ghee. Finally add honey to bring the dough together. Press it into a baking tin that is greased and lined with baking paper.

Bake for 15 minutes in a prebaked oven at 175 degrees C. Open it, slice it into squares while it is still soft and then put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes of baking.

Cool and remove the slices.

 

 

 

 

 

amaranth, baking, biscuits, butter-free, eggless, quinoa, savoury, Uncategorized

Playing with Soil…and Earthy flavours of the Baked Butter-free Kasoori Methi-Ajwain Matthi

I took my son to a place close to home, where the children were going to spend a couple of hours working on a patch of garden. I went with the idea of getting him to expend his energy since the summer vacations are on. As some of you might be aware, a restless 4 1/2 year old with unused energy is a different kind of person altogether !

For the first 15 minutes I simply looked on and prayed for him to remain engaged for the entire duration of 2 hours. I wondered if I had done the right thing – gardening and connecting with the soil, as well as nature are immensely therapeutic but will he want to do it again?

But as I kept watching him, my mind was whirling with thoughts….The world we live in – we have to teach our kids to play in mud, to wonder about the magical creatures living in the soil, to touch leaves without hesitation, to feel the wonder of planting a seed, to squeal with delight when a caterpillar crawls on their little hand.

And when you do that, the world we live in changes…A little each time, because we start removing the layers of indoor dust that’s settled into our own souls as well, to uncover the glistening beauty of outdoors.

That’s what nature does for us – puts us back right where we belong.

And by the end of those 2 hours, I think both of us had been put back where we belong – more me, than him. Because for a child, it is so much easier to sense that belonging. But for a jaded adult, it takes a while to revisit the deep recesses of the soul, scrape off the dirt and uncover the roots.

On that note, let me share something that is earthy in flavour and contains ancient grains.

Grow Fit has some excellent flour mixes and the first one “Ancient Grain Low Carb Atta” that I tried has yielded excellent results. I was very excited to try it in both, savoury and sweet bakes.

It is diabetic-friendly, PCOS-friendly, Low Carb and High Protein, containing Quinoa and Amaranth.

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What I baked with it ( also eggless, bp/bs free) –
1. Kasoori Methi- Ajwain Matthi / Mathri ( butter-free)
2. Chocolate Almond Cookies

They turned out so crisp and crunchy in texture, that I am looking forward to baking many more things with this flour super soon.

Flour Link –
https://getgrowfit.com/…/produc…/ancient-grain-low-carb-atta

Baked Kasoori Methi- Ajwain Matthi / Mathri ( butter-free)

1 cup of the Low-Carb Flour, Ancient Grain

Kasoori Methi and Ajwain as per your taste preference

2-3 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp red chilly powder, 1-2 tsp homemade garam masala

3-4 tbsp oil

Hot water for kneading

Mix all the dry ingredients well. Add the oil and mix with hand. Use hot water a bit at a time and then mix well. Knead it well and leave it side for 10 minutes. Shape it into rounds and bake at 180 degrees C, for 20 minutes or until crisp.

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And talking about the earth brings me to my recipe.

almond, butter-free, cake, gluten-free

Be Proud…Mace and Saffron flavoured Italian Rice cake – with Almonds (butterless, no all purpose flour , made with Arborio rice)

Mace & Saffron Infused Italian Rice Cake with AlmondsFestive season is approaching and so are the advertisements about what to gift, why this time of the year is special and very importantly – how you need to look your absolute best. Seriously?

Recently I saw an ad, in which a mother is talking about how her child loves to pull her cheeks and after using a certain product the child has been telling her how soft her cheeks have become. My son saw it and promptly asked me – “Do you want me to get that for you Mamma?” He is 4 1/2 years old. I looked at him and asked if he didn’t like my cheeks as is ! He looked amused and responded that they were already soft, but if I wanted them to become even softer, like the Aunty on TV.

Well, where am I going with this ? Here’s my take – we really need to stop such emphasis on physical appearance. And let us stop when we can. Let us draw lines. Let us define boundaries on this one. To not encourage our children when they feel the need to appreciate what we look like. Yes, I want to be well-dressed and looking my absolute best. But I would not want my child to focus on how I can “improve” my physical appearance.

At some base level, it is imperative that a child knows and understands that softer cheeks are good. Infact they are great. But only if one already has them 🙂 Shift the direction of their thoughts to being proud of what you look like already. That will promote a positive body image in them as well.

Bring the festivities on , on that note ! And bake away – a recipe that closely resembles elements of our traditional kheer / rice pudding !

Mace and Saffron flavoured Italian Rice cake – with Almonds ( butterless, no all purpose flour , made with Arborio rice)

600 ml milk

1 tsp zest of lemon

150 grams of risotto rice ( preferably Arborio)

100 gms chopped almonds ( you can use any other nuts that you prefer but those which will go well with this flavour are alnuts, pinenuts, pistachios as well)

3 eggs, separated

85 grams caster sugar

1 tsp finely powder Mace

1 tsp saffron threads ( soaked in 1 tsp milk)

Cook the rice in the milk and the lemon zest till it is cooked well and soft. This should take about 40 minutes and the mixture will be creamy and thick. While it cooks ensure that you stir it well so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Shift this mix into a bowl to cool off well. Prepare a 9 inch springform cake tin by greasing and lining it. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius. Toast the chopped almonds in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Beat the egg yolks one by one into the rice mixture using the whisk or wooden spoon.  Beat the caster sugar into this mix and add the chopped almonds, saffron threads soaked in milk and the powdered mace.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and gently fold them into the rice mixture. Put this final mixture into the prepared springform cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin and then cover it and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Unmould the cake and remove the lining when you want to serve it the next day and dust with icing sugar. Slice and serve.

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