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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Dates and Walnut Muffins

Dates and walnut muffins are healthy sweet treats that you can serve your family without any guilt. These delicious and moist dates muffins studded with walnuts are egg-less, butter-less, are made from whole wheat flour and are naturally sweetened with dates, hence refined sugar-free as well. The recipe is very simple and perfect for new bees in baking. The muffins make a good tea time snack and on-the-go breakfast that can be made in advance.

My regular readers must have noticed that on alternate months I participate in the A-Z recipe challenge. It is a food-group on Facebook which is an initiative by my fellow blogger friend Jolly Makkar and Vidya Narayan. Food bloggers who wish to contribute to the theme choose key ingredients alphabetically and cook a dish with it. For this month D is the alphabet and these nutritious and yummy Dates and walnut muffins are my contribution towards the theme.


The recipe calls for soaking of pitted dates in warm milk for about 2 hours. Use soft varieties of dates as they are easy to process. Vegans may use almond milk instead. You can add dry fruits and nuts of your choice in this muffins, like almonds, cranberries, raisins or even choco chips. The muffins are mildly sweet, the way we love. If you have a sweet tooth, you may increase the number of dates or add little jaggery powder to the batter. Mashed over ripen banana can also be used in the recipe. I have tried this recipe with oats flour and wheat flour combo as well. You can add the batter to a cake pan and bake a cake instead just by increasing the baking time to 30-35 minutes.

Preparation Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients: Measurements used 1 cup = 200 ml
  • 1 cup dates, pitted (around 25-30 in number)
  • 1/2 cup walnut, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil

  1. Take the pitted dates in a mixing bowl. Add warm milk to it and allow it to soak for around 2 hours or until soft. After soaking time, blend this mixture to a smooth paste using a grinder jar without adding any more liquid. Also, preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Line the muffin tray with individual cupcake holders.

2. Sift the whole wheat flour with baking powder and baking soda twice in a mixing bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of this flour and add to the chopped walnuts. Coating the walnuts with flour ensures that it does not sink to the bottom while baking. Set the remaining dry ingredients aside until use.

3. To the dates, milk paste, add oil and blend well.

4. Add the dry ingredients to this and fold well using a spatula. Do not overbeat. Next, add the flour coated walnuts to the batter and mix. everything well.

5. Spoon out the batter into individual muffin holders. Fill the muffin liners to 3/4 th max. Tap the muffin tray 2-3 times gently on the kitchen counter to release the air bubbles and transfer to a preheated oven. Bake the muffins for 22-25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Insert a toothpick in the center of the muffin to check for the doneness. If it comes out clean, the muffins are baked perfectly. If the toothpick comes out sticky, bake the muffins further for 5 minutes and repeat the check test.

6. Allow the muffins to cool down on a wire rack before serving. The leftovers, if any can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 2 days.


Recipe Notes:
  • To make the muffins vegan, use plant-based milk like almond milk.
  • Nuts and dry fruits of your choice can be added to this recipe.
  • The muffins can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 2 days.
  • The muffins are mildly sweet, the way we love. If you have a sweet tooth, you may increase the number of dates or add little jaggery powder to the batter. 
  • Use a soft variety of dates to make this muffin.

If you ever try this recipe, do share your feedback with us in the comment section below. 

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For more date recipes, check out the following links from my blog.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Detox Quinoa Vegetable Soup

Quinoa Vegetable Soup is a healthy, delicious one-pot detox soup. This vegan, gluten-free, onion- garlic free, oil-free soup is rich in fibre, is comforting and perfect treat for all the fitness freaks and health conscious people. This detox quinoa soup can be cooked in a pressure cooker in large batches and served at any time of the day without any guilt.

Festivals means over indulgence of festive food and in India, there is no end to festivities. Before we could wind up with Diwali, Christmas and New year are at our doorsteps followed by Lohri, Sankranti and Pongal. To shed off those extra pounds we gain during such celebrations , a detoxification diet along with exercise  is essential. This quinoa vegetable soup exactly serves the purpose. It can be made in large batches before hand and served as light meals .

Apart from quinoa, the recipe calls for use of yellow lentil ( mung dal) which makes it all the more filling and nutritious. I have used carrots, tomatoes and baby spinach . You may use any vegetables of your choice. Apart from that the soup has ginger, which is considered as one of the best detoxifying herbs. Lemon on the other hand has body cleansing properties. Turmeric with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancerous and anti-toxicity properties, can aid in removing harmful toxins from the body while protecting organs from further damage.

Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients :
  • 1/4 cup yellow lentil ( Mung dal)
  • 1/4 cup Quinoa
  • 1/ 2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup deseeded tomatoes
  • 1  cup baby spinach
  • 3 cups vegetable stock preferably home -made
  • 1 inch root turmeric, grated
  • 1/2 inch root ginger, grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon carom seeds / ajwain
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste.
  • Black pepper powder 

  1. Rinse and drain the lentil and quinoa separately. Add them to a 3 or 5 liter pressure cooker with vegetable stock, and all the ingredients in the list except lemon and baby spinach.

 2 . Pressure cook for 3 whistles on medium flame and then simmer for 10 minutes. Put off the flame. Open the lid of the pressure cooker once all the steam has been released naturally.

3. Adjust the desired consistency of the soup by adding more vegetable stock if required. Now add the washed baby spinach leaves and cook the soup for another 2-3 minutes or until the leaves wilt. Put off the flame. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to it.

4. Serve the soup in individual bowls while warm and enjoy a gulit free treat with your loved ones !

Recipe Notes :
  • The recipe can be easily doubled. Use a large pressure cooker, preferably 5-7 liters if you wish to double the recipe.
  • You may use chicken stock instead of the vegetable stock. If you do not have either of them handy , use plain water, though taste will not be the same if using water.
  • You may use any vegetable of your choice in this soup.
  • The soup stays good for 4-5 days on refrigeration in an air tight container.
This recipe is submitted to the #170th #FoodieMondayBlogHop with #DetoxRecipes as the theme.

If you ever try this recipe, feel free to share your feedback with us in the comment section below.  Follow us on #Facebook  #Instagram ,  #Twitter and #Google+  for more recipes and new updates.

For more detox recipes, click the following recipe links from the blog

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Maharashtrian Varan Bhaat Recipe

A quintessential Maharashtrian thali will have a serving of varan bhaat for sure. It is a simple homely preparation where in boiled rice is served with a seasoned lentil curry made from arahar or toor dal (split pigeon peas). A dollop of sajuk tup (homemade clarified butter) over the steaming hot varan bhaat with a lemon wedge and some chutney or pickle by the side , is a definition of happiness for a typical Maharashtrian like me. It is a comfort food for us and we have it almost daily. Varan bhaat is a part of wedding menu and no naivedhyam thali (food offering to the God) is complete without it.

Varan translates to boiled lentil and a traditional Maharashtrian varan made using toor dal is not tempered. It is a simple lentil curry in which boiled dal is seasoned with turmeric, asafoetida, salt and jaggery . There is also a tempered version of this dal and it is called phodaniche varan. I will share that recipe also soon. Cooking varan bhaat is very easy and and i im sharing this recipe for bachelors and the newbies in cooking. Varan bhaat is also close to my heart for one more reason. This humble yet satiating food happens to be the first dish i ever cooked , at the tender age of 9.

I can still recall the memories of that day. It is not that i had never been in kitchen before that,but my role that time was confined to just helping mumma in laying the table for dinner or cleaning the kitchen shelf after the cooking work was done. But i observed my mom keenly while she cooked. That day she was down with fever and my younger brother and sister were so hungry, that they could not wait until papa could arrive from office and order a meal for us. So out of necessity , i decided to step into the kitchen and cook varan bhaat , which was a comfort food for all of us even then. I rinsed the lentil and rice separately and carefully placed them in a pressure cooker in separate containers. The task of closing the pressure cooker lid seemed a bit tricky but somehow i managed that part too . After 3 whistles i simmered the pressure cooker for another 15 minutes and put off the flame. I was confident about the time of cooking, as i had been assigned this job of monitoring the number of whistles and time of cooking , previously . Anyways, i carefully opened the lid of the cooker once all the steam had escaped, whisked the dal , seasoned it with salt and sugar and served the steaming hot waran bhat tup to everyone. My mom and dad were so proud of me and i could see that spark in the eyes of my younger siblings.  I know that cooking varan bhaat is not a rocket science and anyone can do that easily, but the way i acted sensibly and with responsibility, was what mattered. Since then i developed deep interest in cooking and watching cookery shows with mumma and experimenting dishes from different cuisines became my favourite pass time. Now you all must be wondering, why am i narrating this story to you ? Well ... #MybeginnerRecipe is the theme for our #169th #FoodieMondayBlogHop and we are expected to recreate our first ever food dish we cooked independently by ourselves.  This humble varan bhaat is my contribution towards the theme.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1/2 cup arahar dal / split pigeon peas
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafoetida / hing
  • Small piece of jaggery or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  1. Take the measured dal and rice in separated containers of the pressure cooker. Rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Now add 1 1/2 cup of  clean water to the dal and 1 cup of water to the rice. Keep them covered until 30 minutes.

2. After soaking time, add turmeric and asafoetida to the container with dal and salt to the rice container. Give a quick mix and place them one above the other inside the pressure cooker. I usually keep the dal in the bottom container . Add 2 cups water to the pressure cooker and cover it with the lid. Pressure cook for 3 whistles on medium flame. Now lower the flame and cook  or another 15 minutes. Put off the flame and do not open the lid until all the pressure has been released on its own.

3. Open the pressure cooker and carefully remove the dal and rice containers. Fluff the rice with a fork and set aside covered, until serving time. Mash the dal with the back of the ladle or whisk it well with a wire whisker until smooth.  Add salt and jaggery to taste.  If you feel the dal is very thick in consistency, you may add about 1/2 cup of water to the dal. Stir well and tranfer the container to stove top. Allow the dal to cook for another 5 minutes while stirring continuously.  Put off the flame . Now to serve, take rice in a greased bowl or mould , press a bit and then invert it on a plate. Add cooked dal over the rice and top it with a dollop of ghee. Serve immediately with a lemon wedge and some chutney or pickle by the side.

4. I have served the steaming hot varan bhaat with sajuk tup (homemade clarified butter / ghee), lemon wedge, Kakdichi Koshimbir / Cucumber RaitaTilachi Chutney / Sesame seeds Chutne, and Naralachi Chutney/Fresh Coconut chutney

Recipe Notes:
  • Soaking rice and lentil prior to pressure cooking is not mandatory but it certainly speedens the cooking process thus saving time and gas .
  • You may temper the dal if you wish to but traditionally , it is not tempered. 
  • We Maharashtrians add a bit of jaggery in many of our dishes . You may skip if you do not like the sweet taste of dal.
  • Do not skip the generous serving of ghee over varan bhaat if you wish to experience the authentic taste.
I hope you like the post and some of you would love to give this recipe a try. If you ever try it, feel free to share your feedback with us in the comment section below.  Follow us on #Facebook  #Instagram ,  #Twitter and #Google+  for more recipes and new updates.