/body> >

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Halloween Pumpkin Cookies


These homemade spooky Pumpkin cookies are just perfect for your Halloween Party. Made using whole wheat flour and pumpkin puree, these cookies are vegan (egg-free and dairy-free) and flavored with spices like dry ginger and cardamom. These healthy Halloween pumpkin cookies are mildly sweet in taste with a hint of spices, and are soft and chewy. Have replaced refined sugar with jaggery making it a guilt-free affair. Involve your kids in baking these easy Halloween treats and making the spooky faces with pumpkin seeds for the added fun!

What is Halloween ?

Halloween or Hallow's eve or Witches Night is a holiday celebrated annually on the night of October 31. It originated in Ireland and is celebrated in quite a few countries including Ireland itself, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden among others. 

Halloween, traditionally called "All Hallows' Eve," is celebrated on the evening before the Christian holy day of All Hallows' Day or All Saints Day (November 1). Therefore, Halloween is always celebrated on October 31. 

The Celtic Tradition. The ancient Celts believed that on this day, the line between the living and the spiritual realm was blurred, meaning that ghosts from  beyond could visit the living and monsters could find their way into people's houses. Those celebrating aimed to ward off as much evil as possible. They held special rites to keep monsters, witches, and evil fairies at bay. They told tales about mythological heroes  and tried to protect themselves against evil by dressing up as monsters so they wouldn't be kidnapped or consumed by the actual monsters. Source

Now a days, Halloween is celebrated in a variety of fun ways and activities including, trick-or-treating, Ghost tours, Bonfires, Costume parties, craving Pumpkins (Jack-O'-Lanterns), reading, watching scary stories/movies etc. 

Pumpkins as an integral part of the Halloween festivities

People have been making Jack-O'-Lanterns by carving scary faces into Pumpkins at Halloween for centuries. They place these lanterns into windows or near doors to frighten away the evil spirits. To make the lanterns, the inside of the pumpkins was scooped out and thus roasting the pumpkin seeds and enjoying crispy salted pumpkin seeds as snack became another Halloween ritual. Pumpkin is a versatile fall fruit that is used in making soups, pies, cakes, cookies and other spiced desserts.

Related Event:

Spooky Halloween is the current theme for our Facebook gourmet group, Healthy Wealthy Cuisines, wherein a group of enthusiastic food bloggers share their culinary creations every fortnight, depending upon a pre-determined theme. Halloween is just a couple of days ahead and thus this theme is just apt and perfectly timed. The theme was suggested by Shalu di who blogs at Sunnyfamilykitchenette.com These spooky Halloween pumpkin cookies is my contribution towards the theme. Do check out the following contribution by my fellow bloggers on this theme.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin:

Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that belongs to the cucurbitaceae family. Pumpkin may be viewed as a vegetable but it is scientifically a fruit as it has seeds. It is not only delicious in taste but is also very nutritious. Let's have a look at the health benefits of including Pumpkin in our daily diet. Source
  • Pumpkin is high in vitamins and minerals but is low in calories. It is 94% water.
  • It is rich source of beta carotene, a carotenoid that body turns into Vitamin A.
  • Pumpkin is rich in Anti-Oxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • It is high in Vitamin A and C that helps to boost the body's immune system.
  • Pumpkin is low in calories and high in dietary fiber that may promote weight loss.
  • It is incredibly versatile and easy to include to one's diet.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes per batch
Serves: 15 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cup ripe pumpkin pieces (peeled and diced, seeds discarded) 
  • 1/2 cup jaggery powder
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon melon seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Steam or cook the pumpkin pieces either in an oven or on stove top until tender. Allow them to cool down and then pulse them in a grinder jar without adding any water to get a smooth lump-free puree. I got 3/4 th cup pumpkin puree.

2.  Transfer the pumpkin puree, oil and jaggery powder to a mixing bowl and whisk until jaggery melts in the puree and the ingredients blend well with each other.

3. Sift the whole wheat flour, cardamom powder, dry ginger powder, baking powder and baking soda together. 

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones gradually. Keep folding the flour with the pumpkin mix but do not over mix.

5. The mixture will be sticky. Gather it with greased fingers and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes so that it becomes a bit firm and easy to handle.

6. Meanwhile preheat the oven at 180 Degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Grease the baking tray or line it with an aluminium foil. Pinch out small portions from the dough with greased fingers and shape them as small balls. Flatten the balls and place them an inch apart on a baking tray.

7. Pinch the top portion of each flattened cookies dough to make the stem of the pumpkin face. Arrange the pumpkin seeds and melon seeds on each cookie dough to make the eyes, nose and mouth resembling a scary face as shown in the pic below. Press the seeds slightly so that they stick to the dough well and do not come out while baking the cookies.

8. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 180 Degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center of the cookies to check for doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cookies are done. Allow them to cool down on a wire rack. The cookies are soft but firm on baking and harden a bit after cooling. The cookies are soft and chewy.

9. The Halloween Pumpkin Cookies are ready to serve on cooling. Enjoy the healthy and delicious spooky treats with your loved ones. Store the remaining in an air-tight container. The cookies remain good at room temperature for a day or two in air-tight container. Refrigerate if you intend to store them for a longer time.


Recipe Notes:
  • These cookies are not crunchy but are soft and chewy in texture.
  • You may make the cookies using whole wheat flour and all purpose flour in 1:1 ratio. I have used only whole wheat flour.
  • Jaggery powder can be replaced with powdered cane sugar or coconut sugar.
  • The cookies are moderately sweet with hints from the spice powders used. You may increase or decrease the amount of sweetener as per your taste preference.
Would Love to Hear From You !

 I hope you would love trying out these healthy and delicious Halloween Pumpkin Cookies. If you do give it a try, do share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the section below this post. 

All your suggestions are more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. It gives me the inspiration and motivates me to keep doing my work and give my best each time.

If you like my work and want to be updated with new recipes, do follow us on social media. My Social media handles are as below for your kind reference.

Monday, 26 October 2020

Cauliflower Cheese


Cauliflower Cheese is a traditional British dish that makes for a soulful weekend meal. Here, par-boiled cauliflower florets are coated with a creamy cheesy milk-based white sauce and baked until bubbling to get an utterly delicious dish. I have replaced all purpose flour (maida) with whole wheat flour to make it healthy and guilt-free. Cauliflower cheese can be served as main course (for lunch or dinner ) or as a side dish. The recipe is very simple and easy to follow.

Cauliflower and its health benefits:

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is extremely healthy and a significant source of nutrients. It is versatile and can be easily added to our regular diet in many ways. Let's have a look at the health benefits of including it in our daily diet.
  • Cauliflower is low in calories and high in vitamins.
  • It is rich in fiber, aids in digestion and is beneficial for overall growth.
  • Cauliflower provides a significant amount of antioxidants, which are beneficial for reducing inflammation and protecting against several chronic diseases.
  • It is a good source of choline, a nutrient involved in many process in the body, and works to prevent several diseases. 
  • Click here to know more about this low-carb veggie.

What goes into Cauliflower Cheese ? The Ingredients

Cauliflower cheese is a traditional British dish that makes for a heartwarming Sunday meal. A very simple and hassle-free dish that even new-bees in cooking can make for themselves. Cauliflower cheese is similar to the Macaroni cheese dish but here, pasta is replaced with cauliflower florets. Let's have a look at the ingredients one by one.
  • Cauliflower: The main ingredient is off-course Cauliflower. Use a fresh worm-free cauliflower head for the recipe.
  • Cheese: grated Cheddar cheese is used which is just perfect for the dish.
  • Milk: I have used full- cream milk. However skimmed milk can also be used to cut down the calories.
  • Butter: Butter is used to roast the flour while making the white sauce. It adds a lovely flavor to the dish.
  • Whole wheat flour: I have replaced all purpose flour with whole wheat flour as I always do while making the white sauce.
  • Seasoning: I have kept it simple and seasoned the dish with just salt, black pepper and chili flakes. You may use mustard paste if desired.

Dietary Notes:
  • Vegetarian / Egg-free
  • Satvik (Onion-garlic) free.
  • Kid friendly
  • Bachelor's recipe
#CauliflowerStories @FoodieMondayBlogHop

It is raining cauliflower recipes on our Facebook gourmet group, Foodie Monday Blog Hop, where a group of passionate food bloggers share their culinary skills every Monday depending upon a pre-determined theme. Preethi di who blogs @Preethiscuisine.com was our hostess for the 270th week on this group and among the two themes she proposed, Cauliflower stories won with maximum votes. Since i was fasting on account of Navratri last week, when the theme was proposed, i wanted to make something satvik as i refrain from using onion-garlic in my kitchen, even for Kiran and Chinmay (who were not fasting), during the pious 9 day festival. So i chose to cook this delicious cauliflower cheese for my son as his lunch as this dish is onion-garlic free. Meanwhile do check out Preethi di's space for many delicious recipes both from Indian as well as International Cuisine. I have bookmarked her Cauliflower Fritters and Teekha Gobhi Matar masala to try out soon.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients: Measurements used - 1 cup = 240 ml
  • 1 large Cauliflower head
  • 2 cups milk / 500 ml
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3-4 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste.
  1. Trim the cauliflower and remove the tough core. Cut into 1-2 inch florets.                          
2. Bring a large sauce-pan of water to boil. Add the cauliflower florets to it and par-boil for 5-7 minutes until firm but tender. You may instead steam the florets for around 10 minutes. 


3. Drain the cauliflower and then tip into an oven-proof dish. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.

4. Put the saucepan back on heat. Add butter to it and allow it to melt. Next, add the whole wheat flour. Whisk to combine and cook the flour for 1 minute or so to get rid of the raw taste of the flour. 


5. Stir in milk slowly and steadily and keep whisking continuously to get a lump-free mixture. Simmer the sauce until it thickens a bit. 


6. Reserve 2 tablespoon of cheese and add the remaining grated cheddar cheese to the sauce in batches. Keep stirring as the cheese melts. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper and chili flakes. Give a quick stir and put off the flame. Taste the sauce at this stage and add more seasonings if desired.


7. Spoon the sauce over the florets and sprinkle remaining cheese. Transfer the baking dish to preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes at 200 Degrees Celsius until bubbly. Bake for additional 10 minutes if you desire. Sprinkle herbs if you wish to and serve immediately !

Recipe Notes:
  • A mature cheese like cheddar is preferred in making cauliflower cheese.
  • You may use both broccoli and cauliflower in making this dish or either one as a variations.
  • I have baked the cauliflower cheese for 20 minutes. You may bake for an additional 10-15 minutes if you liked the charred top.
  • You may sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs over the cauliflower cheese prior to baking.
  • You can serve cauliflower cheese as a side dish to any meal or as a main course meal served with some spicy chutney and a crunchy salad.
  • Fresh herbs may be used to garnish Cauliflower cheese.
  • I have kept the dish simple and seasoned it with just saltblack pepper and chili flakes. You may use mustard paste if desired.
Would Love to hear From You !

I hope you would love this delectable Cauliflower Cheese as much as we did. If you give it a try, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the section below this post.

All you suggestions also are more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. It gives me the inspiration and motivation to keep doing my work and give my best each time. 

If you like my work and want to be updated with new recipes, follow me on social media.
  • Facebook Handle: https://www.facebook.com/poonambachhavblogspot/
  • Instagram Handle: https://www.instagram.com/poonambachhav/
  • Twitter Handle : https://twitter.com/poonampagar_B
  • Pinterest Handle : https://in.pinterest.com/poonambachhav/
See you soon with yet another healthy and delicious creation from my Kitchen.  Till then take care and eat right!

Happy Cooking !
Happy Eating !

Poonam Bachhav

Related Posts:

Monday, 19 October 2020

9 Navratri Fasting Platters


Sharad Navratri has finally begun and Maa Durga has blessed us with her Divine presence. Navratri or 'the nine nights' is an Indian festival dedicated to the worship of the 9 forms of the Hindu Deity, Goddess Durga. It is traditionally the time to fast and to pray. It is a time to purify our souls and cleanse our system and to rejuvenate. Most devotees observe fasting on all 9 days by following a restricted diet to detoxify the body. Eating the same type of fasting food (vrat ka khana) for 9 days can be monotonous and may not be a balanced diet. Food has to be chosen wisely to reap maximum benefits from fasting. Today I have come up with 9 different healthy, delicious and nutritious Navratri Fasting Platter ideas along with recipes, which are quick and easy to make, easy to digest and will keep you energized and hydrated without adding unwanted calories during the fasting period.


Durga Pooja is celebrated twice every year - Vasant Navratri which comes in Chaitra month (March-April) during Spring season and Sharad Navratri which comes in Ashwin month (September- October) during the Fall season with full faith and devotion. This year Sharad Navratri began on 17th October and will end on 25th October following Dushera which is also another important festival which celebrates the victory of good over evil.

Navratri Fasting Rules:

As mentioned above, during Navratri fasting, a restricted diet (No-grain , No-onion No-garlic (Satvik) meals are taken. The whole idea is to detoxify the body and prepare it for the change in the season from monsoon to winter (in case of Sharad Navratri) and from winter to summer (in case of Vasant Navratri). However Fasting does not mean you starve yourself nor does it mean you over eat. A proper balance has to be made and food has to be chosen wisely to reap maximum benefits from fasting. Including whole fresh fruits, milk and milk products and dry-fruits in the diet is the best choice during fasting. First, let's have a look at the ingredients that are allowed during this Navratri fasting. Again this list is not a standard one, every region and family will have their own set of rules for Navratri fasting. For instance, In Maharashtra, Lady finger (bhindi) is consumed during Navrati fasting but tomato and bottle gourd are not allowed, While in North India, bottle gourd and tomato are considered as fasting food. So, better to consult with our elders before resuming the fast.
  • Fresh fruits preferably seasonal whole fruits and dry fruits.
  • Milk and milk products - Milk, Curd, Ghee, Butter, Buttermilk, Paneer (Indian cottage Cheese), Khoya/Mava.
  • Barnyard Millet/Samak Chawal / Samo/ Vrat ke Chawal/ Bhagar
  • Sago / Sabudana
  • Water Chestnut / Singhara
  • Buck wheat / Kuttu
  • Amaranthus / Rajgira
  • Groundnuts/ Peanuts/ Mungphali/ Shengdana
  • Sesame Seeds/ Til
  • Foxnut/Lotus Seeds/ Makhana
  • Vegetables like pumpkin (kadu), potato, sweet potato, colocasia (arabi), bottle gourd (lauki), cucumber, green chilies, coriander, mint.
  • Sendha Namak (rock salt)
  • Sugar, jaggery
  • Spices like cumin seeds, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg.
Restricted Food:

  • Eggs/Non-vegetarian food
  • Alcohol
  • Grains like wheat, rice, pulses, legumes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Sea Salt
  • My 9 Navratri Fasting Platters :

    I observe fast on all 9 days and have only 2 meals a day. One meal with just milk and fruits and dry fruits (no-salt meal) and the second meal with salt - a balanced falahari diet. I try to refrain from eating ready made chips and chivda or the deep fried food as much as possible. Let's have a look at all the nine platters one by one. I had posted some of this platters on my Instagram handle last year, but without recipes. These were the meals i consumed during my last year Navratri fasting. This year, i am glad, i could blog all the 9 platters. I have provided the recipe link for all the recipes that are already on the blog and provided a written recipe for the rest which are not yet on the blog.

    1. My #Day1 Navratri Fasting Platter has in clock-wise order Barnyard Millet Upma / Sama Chawal Upma , Cucumber, Sabudana papad , Aloo Rassa ( A simple boiled potato gravy) and Shrikhand (Yogurt based dessert where hung curd is whisked with powdered sugar and flavored with cardamom and topped with saffron and pistachio.  

    • Aloo Rassa - This satvik aloo curry is very delicious and a breeze to make if you have boiled potatoes ready at hand. 
    Preparation Time: 5 minutes
    Cooking Time: 10 minutes
    Serves : 2

    • 2 medium sized boiled potatoes
    • 1-2 green chilies 
    • 1/2 inch ginger
    • 1 tomato (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds
    • 1 tablespoon ghee
    • Rock salt to taste
    • Fresh coriander for garnishing.
    1. Heat ghee and add cumin seeds to it.
    2. Once the seeds crackle, add the minced ginger and green chilies followed by tomato puree, if using and saute for 1-2 minutes.
    3.  Add 1/2 cup water, rock salt and turmeric if using. Add mashed boiled potatoes to it and allow the curry to boil and then simmer until it gets the desired consistency.
    4. Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve.


    2. #Day2 Navratri fasting Platter: The platter has in clock-wise order Sabudana Khichdi (spicy sago stir-fry from Maharashtrian Cuisine), Doodhichi Koshambir/ Lauki Raita (bottle gourd in yogurt), Nariyal Burfi (fresh coconut fudge), Raw banana chips and Pomegranate seeds.

    3. #Day3 Navratri Fasting Platter -  The platter has in clock-wise order, Barnyard Millet Dosa ( a crispy crepe made from sago and barnyard millet) served with jeera aloo ( a simple potato stir-fry with cumin seeds), Makhana Kheer (Foxnut pudding) and orange wedges.
    • To make the Baryard millet dosa, grind the soaked sago(sabudana) with soaked barnyard millet in the ratio of 1:2 with ginger, cumin seeds and green chilies. Add rock salt (sendha namak) to taste and buttermilk and pulse again to get a batter of a consistency a dosa batter consistency, we use to make the regular dosa. Add a ladle full of the batter over a heated ghee-greased pan and spread the batter in circular outward movement to make a thin dosa. 
    • To make the jeera aloo, simply heat little ghee or oil in a pan and add cumin seeds to it. Once the seeds crackle, add finely chopped green chilies and grated ginger. Add the peeled and chopped potatoes and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Season with rock salt and cover cook without adding water on low flame until the potatoes are cooked well.

    4. #Day4 Navratri Fasting Platter: The platter has in clock wise order, Falahari Makhana Chivda ( a savory snack made with ghee roasted fox nut (makhana) with dry fruits and spice powders), Rajgira Sheera (Amaranthus flour pudding), Dahi Sabudana (savory sago curd), and Lemon Chutney ( an instant no-cook sweet, spicy and tangy lemon chutney .

    5. #Day5 Navratri Fasting Platter : The platter has in clock-wise order, Caramel Sago Pudding / Sabudana Kheer, Orange wedges, Dried figs, Raw Banana Cutlets / Kache Kele ki Tikki, and Fresh Coconut Chutney.

    6. #Day6 Navratri Fasting Platter: In clock-wise order, the platter has Sabudana Thalipeeth , lemon pickle, Fruit cream, Pomegranate arils and Badam Katli (Almond fudge).
    • To make the Sabudana thalipeeth, i have added grated bottle gourd, finely chopped green chilies and coriander to the soaked sago with rock salt and mixed well. Add a little water chestnut flour or boiled and mashed potato if you feel the dough is not binding properly. Now take a portion and spread it out on a greased work surface and delicately transfer it to a heated skillet. Cook the thalipeeth from both sides until crisp.
    • To make the fruit cream, i simpley whisked the milk cream with little sweetened reduced milk and added chopped fruits to it.

    7. #Day7 Navratri Fasting Platter - In clock-wise order, the platter has Kuttu paratha (buck-wheat flatbread), cucumber, Kaddu Ki Sabzi ( Pumpkin veg stir-fry), dates and Paneer Kheer ( Indian Cottage Cheese pudding).

    8. #Day8 Navratri Fasting Platter : In clock-wise order the platter has, Pomegranate RaitaRatalyacha Kees (Sweet potato stir-fry), Papaya and Anjeer Khajoor Roll (Dried Fig and Dates fudge).


    9. #Day9 Navratri Fasting Platter : In clock-wise, order the platter has Falahari Kaddu Ki Tikki (Pumpkin Pattie), Dahi Shengdana Chutney / Peanut Yogurt Dip, Mixed fruit salad, Dried Apricot and Mava Coconut Ladoo.

    Related Event:

    Linking this 9 Navratri Fasting Platters post to #FoodieMondayBlogHop , our Facebook goumet group, where a group of like-minded passionate food bloggers share their culinary skills on Every Monday depending upon a pre-determined theme. For our #269th  week, Mayuri di who blog's at Mayurisjikoni, very thoughtfully suggested that we cook some Navratri Special Recipe for the theme # Navratri Navras. Navratri festival is celebrated throughout India with zeal and enthusiasm. While North Indians observe fasting for 9 days during the festival, South Indians enjoy various Sundal dishes ( legume and bean salads) and Payasams (kheer). So, stay tuned on my Social handles, as i will be sharing the collage of all the recipes by my fellow bloggers on this post shortly. Do also check out Mayur di's space for some authentic Gujarati dishes and other exotic recipes from the World Cuisine. I have bookmarked her Haupia, A Hawaiin Coconut Dessert to try out soon. 

    Would Love To Hear From You !

     I hope you would love this post with 9 different Navratri Fasing Platters. If you give any of the recipe a try, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments below this post. 

    All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciations means a lot to me. It gives me the inspiration and motivation to keep doing my work and give my best each time.

    If you like my recipes and want to be updated with new recipes, follow us on the social media.
    See you soon with yet another healthy and delicious creation from my Kitchen. Till then take care and eat right !

     Happy Cooking !
     Happy Fasting !

    Poonam Bachhav

    Related Posts: