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Make your Own All-Spice at Home-एक सलाह सबके लिये


Make your own garam masala (all spice). You can chose to include or exclude any spices that you may not like. 100 grams of cumin seeds (jeera), 50 grams of black pepper corn(kali mirch), 25 grams of cloves (laung), 5 brown cardamom (badi elaichi) and 5 bay leaves (tez patta). Roast them in microwave moving it after every minute. Roast for 3-4 minutes or until brown. Grind it coarsely and save in an airtight jar.

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We are back, another COVID travel

So, here we are back home once again and done with the self isolation of 14 days. Back in Kenya 🇰🇪 , our home for now. This phrase “we are back home” sometimes perplexes me as I use it for so many places that I consider home. Our own homes in Kenya 🇰🇪 and Canada🇨🇦, our kids’ homes often in two different places, some friends’ and family homes that are no less than home to us. I must say that we are fortunate to call so many places home, what more can one ask for in life 😜?We had some of the best times of our lives during this stay of almost four months in Canada🍁. Traveling back to Kenya 🇰🇪 was both enthusing and stumping at the same time. We didn’t feel like parting from kids, leaving our safe haven and sweet home in Kingston. Nevertheless, we wanted to get back to Kenya so that Manoj could have a normal workday and work life.The travel itself was quite hassle free. I guess it was because we were prepared with all that was required in these difficult and confusing travel times. A COVID negative certificate, a bar scan code for Kenyan health authorities, a mask on at all times and keeping distance from people at the airports – it all worked out. In fact, it was quite reassuring to notice:1. That the airport authorities at all the 3 airports we passed through (Toronto, Addis and Nairobi) were quite diligent in following public health guidelines to keep everyone safe.2. Fellow passengers were largely also following the new norms.3. All passengers were supposedly COVID-negative as almost all airlines and airports now require a negative certificate to board a plane.4. There was no cutback on any services on the flights or at the lounge in Addis (though the Toronto lounge was closed), even the entertainment system was now working unlike on our flights into Canada.Though it was relatively warm the day we departed from Toronto, there was a heavy snowstorm the next day, so it is nice to be back to a green and warm Kenya exuding with the warmth of good friends Arun and Brij. Their kindness was felt when we entered a clean house with food prepared and groceries in the refrigerator waiting for us. Settling back into our routines has been a cake walk in the last two days, and I was even more excited to see that my terrariums 🪴🌱survived without any attention given to them in about 4 months. I can contentedly say that the journey back was equally good.

लो चले हम… वापिस अपने घर को! ये अपने केन्या वाले घर की बात हो रही है। अब क्या बताएँ कि कितने घरों को अपना घर कहने का सौभाग्य प्राप्त है हमें। किंग्स्टन 🇨🇦और केन्या 🇰🇪 में तो घर हैं ही, अब बच्चों के अलग अलग शहरों में घर, ऐसे दोस्त और परिवार के सदस्यों के घर जिन्हें हम अपना घर ही मानते हैं, अब हमारे घरों की फ़ेहरिस्त में आते हैं 😜।सोच के देखें तो ज़िंदगी से इससे ज़्यादा और क्या माँगे?यह पिछले चार महीने कनाडा 🇨🇦 में बहुत अच्छे से बीते। केन्या वापिस आने का सफ़र भी बिना किसी परेशानी के रहा पर दिल और दिमाग़ बहुत असमंजस में रहे। बच्चों का साथ छोड़ना और किंग्स्टन 🍁जैसी सुरक्षित और सुहावनी जगह से कहीं जाने का मन नहीं था पर दुनिया के अलग अलग देशों के समय का फ़र्क़ मनोज के काम को बहुत मुश्किल बना रहे थे। केन्या 🇰🇪 वापिस आना ही एकमात्र समाधान था।करोना के मुश्किल समय होने के बावजूद सफ़र के दौरान कोई कठिनाई नहीं हुई। वो इसलिए कि हम इस सफ़र के लिए पूरी तरह तैयार थे, कोविड टेस्ट के negative होने का प्रमाणपत्र लेकर, केन्या के स्वास्थ्य विभाग के लिए एक bar code ले कर, सारा समय mask पहन के रखने से और दूसरे लोगों से दूरी बनाए रख कर। असल में यह काफ़ी सांत्वना देने वाली बात थी कि 1. तीनों airport , Toronto, Addis Ababa और Kenya की Airport authorities बहुत तल्लीनता और सहज तरीक़े से सब लोगों की स्वास्थ्य सुरक्षा का ध्यान रख रही थीं।2. सहयात्री भी बड़ी सहजता से सब नियमों का पालन कर रहे थे।3. हम यह मान कर भी चल रहे थे की सब सहयात्री कोविड negative हैं क्योंकि विमान में चढ़ने से पहले airport और airline वाले यह प्रमाणपत्र माँग रहे हैं।4. विमान या lounge की सेवाओं में कोई कमी नहीं थी (Toronto की लाउंज अलबत्ता बंद थी), यहाँ तक कि विमान में मनोरंजन कार्यक्रम भी TV पर दिखाए जा रहे थे जो तब बंद थे जब हम कनाडा 🇨🇦 अगस्त में गए थे।जिस दिन हम Toronto से रवाना हुए उसके अगले दिन वहाँ बहुत बर्फ़ पड़ी, तो केन्या 🇰🇪 आना अच्छा रहा। यहाँ के सुहावने मौसम और अरुण और ब्रिज जैसे दोस्तों की गर्मजोशी ने हमारा स्वागत किया। साफ़ घर , फ़्रिज में बना रखा स्वादिष्ट खाना और किराने का सामान अगर आपका इंतेज़ार कर रहा हो तो क्या बात है। और ज़्यादा आश्चर्य और ख़ुशी तो मुझे अपने terrarium 🪴🌱(काँच के गमले) देखकर हुई जिनमें कुछ पौधे अब भी हरे थे (जबकि चार महीने तक उनकी कोई देखभाल नहीं हुई थी)।

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COVID Travels

So, we are home in Kingston after a long wait and a considerable amount of anxiety about travel plans over the last few months. Although we are very comfortable in our second home in Kenya, getting back to our first home in Canada and seeing the kids has constantly been on our minds during these uncertain COVID times. It was a long wait for international travel to open back up in Kenya and the very day it opened, we were on a plane. We for sure had a distinctive travel experience this time compared to all the travels we have done throughout our lives.
What an experience it was see so few people at all the 3 airports we travelled through. No long queues at check-in or immigration or security. Though our flight was in the evening that day, we were the first ones to use the lounge so were greeted by lounge staff with a lot of excitement and attention. They even took pictures with us as we were their first clients in the last five months. We have been traveling on Ethiopian Airways for some years now as we love their excellent staff, good connections, great food, lounges and of course their fares. Things that were clearly unusual and unexpected for us this time were: having no entertainment system in the plane throughout Ethiopian airlines, no magazines/newspapers on board and no add-on authentic Ethiopian meals. We really did not mind all this because we realize that all airlines have been running into billions of dollars of losses, and they may not be left with many choices other than to shave off unnecessary costs. As for procedures and protocols at the airports, masks were required everywhere, but no COVID test reports were required by airport authorities or by the airline. The plane was only at 1/3 of its capacity, maybe because it was the first day of the travel or maybe people are just not traveling again yet. While everyone was wearing masks, the airport in Addis did not have strict social distancing protocols when getting people on buses offloading the plane. At the Toronto airport only 50 people were allowed to get off from the plane at one time and walk through the hanger and then after 5-10 minutes the next lot of people were offloaded. A buffet was laid out at both the lounges in Nairobi as well at Addis, but Nairobi airport staff served it at the tables to meet COVID related health requirements whereas Addis lounge did not follow this protocol. Seating was however set up to follow social distancing requirements at both the lounges. Airline staff wore masks all the time and gloves only when serving food, but they did not have face shields or other more intense PPE for their own safety.

While all of us are feeling completely healthy and asymptomatic, we are now in self isolation with both the kids for 14 days in our home in Kingston and have been thoroughly enjoying their company and the quality time we have with them. Having said that, the mere thought that we might have contracted the virus while traveling and may pass it on to somebody here is the heaviest burden on my mind at this time while we are in isolation. Looking forward to catching up with friends after the isolation period.

This post would be incomplete if I did not thank Sanjiv Sam Kapoor and Aparna Kapoor who graciously made sure that we were stocked up with everything we might need during this isolation period.

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Almond flour gluten-free Vegan cup cakes

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This is a quick recipe that requires very few ingredients . It is loaded with vitamin E and is perfect for gluten free and vegan diets. This recipe also does not require any oil or butter as almonds have enough natural grease to make the cupcakes soft and moist. Honey replaces sugar to make it even more healthier.

COOKING TIME- 20-25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups blanched almond flour
3 eggs
1 ripe banana
3 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup berries (whatever you like)

STEPS
1. Mix whisked eggs, honey and mashed banana together with vanilla essence.
2. Add baking powder and salt to the almond flour..
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together along with berries.
4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake moulds and bake for 15-20 minutes on 180C in a preheated oven on the middle rack or until brown.

HANDY TIPS:
1. You can choose to put any fresh berries to your liking. I use strawberries, blueberries or raspberries alternatively or together sometimes. You can also use thawed frozen berries by removing their excess water.
2. If you do not find almond flour in the market, grind almonds at home, this will give you unblanched flour which maybe a little darker in colour.

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Daily crunchy Guacamole

Living in Kenya is a blessing when it comes to availability of fresh vegetables and flowers . It is such a delight to have avocados in abundance and pay less than 40 cents for a big one. Getting raw avocados , tracking them each day as they ripe, move them into the refrigerator and then savour them every morning at breakfast time is kind of a ritual for us now. Here is a simple recipe for a crunchy guacamole that I make every day. I like broccoli and green pepper finely chopped to get the crunch and fresh feel. You could replace these with spring onions or regular onion or with any other raw crunchy vegetable you fancy. I add a bit of lemon juice, coriander leaves, hot green chillies too. A bit of salt and a pinch of all spice (गरम मसाला) makes it yummy!

 

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The Sindhi Karhi

GLUTEN FREE
I usually make this karhi when I have varied veggies in small quantities in my fridge that I want to finish off: and also when I have lots of guests to entertain and I need to make something easy and delicious but in large quantities. A variety of vegetables in this recipe adds to the quantity and also makes it more flavourful.
IMG_6522

SERVES: 6-8

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

In an effort to continue to promote use of energy and time saving tools and gadgets, using pressure cooker for this recipe will take about 5 minutes to make the vegetables tender whereas it will take 20-30 minutes in a regular pan. The conventional recipe requires vegetables to be fried to make them tender and then put in the karhi. This alternative will have high trans fat content, 

You save: 70% to 80% of fuel energy and 15 to 20 minutes of your precious time that is about 10 to 15% of the total time you spend in the kitchen on an average(assuming you spend a total of 2-3 hours in a day in the kitchen).

COOKING TIME- 20-25 minutes
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tablespoon besan (chickpea flour)
1 Litre water
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
2 Teaspoons fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds)
2 Teaspoons cumin seeds (Jeera)
4 Whole dried red chillies (i like using rounds more than the long ones)
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder (Haldi)
1/2 Tablespoon red chilli powder
50 gms of tamarind pulp (without seeds) after soaking in water
1 Kilo assorted vegetables cut into 2 inch dices (I use all veggies that are available in my fridge like Okra (bhindi), egg plant, zucchini, beans, any kind of guard, cauliflower, lotus stem, potatoes, broccoli, carrots).
Salt to taste ( approximately 4 teaspoons)
STEPS
1. Heat oil in the pressure cooker, add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and whole red chillies, once flavour is released, add chickpea flour and sauté it for 2-3 minutes
2. Add water, cut vegetables, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and let it get one whistle or 5 minutes until pressure is built in the cooker. (just enough to get the vegetables tender, this is to save time)
3. Open the lid after the pressure is released, add tamarind pulp and let the karhi boil for 10-12 minutes .. And it is ready…
HANDY TIPS:
1. Keep the karhi on low heat even when it is being served.. The more it boils, more flavours are released of different vegetables, it continues to get more delicious.
2. Sindhi Karhi typically is served first as a stew or soup, and in the main meal with rice and sweet boondi (chickpea flour droplets fried and then dipped in sugar syrup, see picture above)
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No hassle-No sugar-Easiest Gajar Halwa

GLUTEN FREE- SUGAR FREE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Easy to make, gluten free and sugar free classic indian dessert made in less than half the time of usual conventional recipe. Saving time and energy thereby reducing the carbon footprint on our precious planet. 

 

gajar halwa 1
SERVES- 6
COOKING TIME- 30-45 minutes
 
INGREDIENTS:
1 kilogram carrots grated
1 litre fresh Milk (full cream optional)
½ tablespoon Ghee
2 green cardamoms
10-15 pitted dates(about 100 grams) cut in small pieces
15-20 almonds cut in slices (about 25 grams) (optional)
15-20 cashews halves (about 25 grans) (optional)
20-25 raisins (about 25 grams) (optional)
10 strands of saffron beaten on a cutting board or pastel (optional)
 
STEPS
1. Put ghee in the pan and add cardamoms after cracking them open so that the flavour is released.
2. After a minute or so add grated carrots and sauté them for 3-5 minutes until the colour changes to little dark (excess moisture will evaporate during this process).
3. Add milk and place the heat on low after the milk starts to boil. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. Keep stirring at intervals of 3-4 minutes. You will notice carrots cooking, absorbing milk, becoming more tender and getting cooked in milk.
4. Add cut dates , saffron and nuts and let it cook for another 10-12 minutes until all milk is absorbed and the milk dries out.. surface f the pan will greasy now without traces of water/milk…and it is ready to serve..
 
HANDY TIPS:
1. If you leave the heat on low all through the process you don’t need to stir as often.
2. I usually use low fat milk, you could use full cream milk to make it more creamy and rich.
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Quick and Easy – My Tiramisu

SERVES- 3-4
COOKING TIME- 20 minutes

TiramisuINGREDIENTS
2 eggs
100 grams Mascarpone cheese
50 ml brewed coffee
25 ml Irish cream liqueur (optional)
50 grams sugar powder
20-25 lady finger Italian biscuits (or left over bread or cake)
50 grams whipped cream(optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

PREPERATION
-Brew coffee and put it in the fridge to cool down
-Keep Mascarpone cheese outside the fridge to bring it to room temperature
-Separate egg yolks from whites and keep whites in the fridge until you need them in the recipe

STEPS
STEP 1. Mix egg yolks and sugar and put it on a double boiler pan. Keep stirring it until it gets a little thick and sugar looks cooked (about 4-5 minutes). Put this in fridge to cool down. You will start making Tiramisu once this is cooled down.
STEP 2. Beat egg whites with electric beater to a point where whites are drip free and form soft peaks. Similarly, beat whipped cream to a point where is becomes thick and soft NOT to make butter, stop just before that.
STEP 3. Fold in egg yolks mixture, egg whites mix, cheese and whipped cream softly.
Step 4. Mix coffee and Irish cream liqueur in a shallow dish, dip the biscuits in a quick motion into this mixture (do not dip them in the liquid too long as the biscuits are very light and may melt away) and layer them in the serving dish. Spread the cream mixture as per step 3 over the dipped layered biscuits, place another layer of coffee dipped biscuits and then another layer of the cream mixture. Sprinkle cocoa powder and cinnamon powder over this using a small sieve.

HANDY TIPS:
1. As a substitute to Italian lady finger biscuits you could use left over bread or cake and dip it well in the coffee and liquor mixture before spreading the eggs and cream mixture. It comes out quite close to the original taste.
2. You can avoid putting whipped cream if you are counting on calories. I have skipped it quite a few times and it has come out well.
3. I also use reduced amount of sugar and cheese at times.
4. You could also sprinkle nutmeg powder as per you taste buds.
5. Irish cream liquor can be substituted with any other liqueur like Amarula, Baileys or other cocoa /coffee based liqueurs.

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Easiest Homemade Dhokla

SERVES: 4

GLUTEN FREE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Quick to make, great to store, quick to steam in a pressure cooker or in microwave. 

Dhokla is chickpea flour steamed savoury cake. It is one of the most healthy snacks to have at a time when you carve for something savoury but do not want to have some off the shelf that has pastry flour or shortening in abundance.

COOKING TIME- 5-10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoon oil
100 grams Besan (chickpea flour)
½ cup yogurt
150 ml water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 inch frozen or fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoon of sugar
3-4 figs of fresh coriander or parsley
1 tablespoon mustard seeds(for garnish)
2-3 green chillies

You will need a regular vegetable steamer or a microwaveable dish that you can use steam the dhokla.

dhoklaSTEPS
1. Mix oil, yogurt, 50 ml of water, chickpea flour, turmeric powder and salt in a mixing bowl and leave it for 10-15 minutes.
2. This mixture has to be steamed for 8-10 minutes in a regular steamer or 5 minutes in microwave. Just before pouring the mixture in the steamer mould, add antacid powder to the mixture and stir it for a minute, you will see it will start coming up because of the soda in antacid powder.
3. While the steaming is on, take a separate small pan and add 1 teaspoon of oil, mustard seeds and split whole green chillies, once splattering starts, add 100 ml of water and sugar to it. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
4. Let the steamed dhokla cake cool down for 5-10 minutes and then pour this sweetened water mixture on it before you cut it into pieces to serve. Sprinkle fresh coriander or parsley before serving.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Dhokla goes very well with spicy hot and sweet chutneys and home made dips.
2. This snack is considered one of the most healthy and nutritive ones as it is steamed.

Quick Palak Paneer in less than 10 minutes


SERVES: 4

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Using Pressure Cooker will take 8-10 minutes whereas it will take 25-30 minutes in a regular pan. 

You save: 40% of fuel energy and 10 minutes of your precious time that is about 5 to 8% of the total time you spend in kitchen on an average (assuming you spend a total of 2-3 hours in a day in the kitchen)

COOKING TIME: 8-10 Minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 tablespoon oil
1 cinnamon stick (daal chini)
1 star anise (Chakraphool)
1 brown cardamom (elaichi)
2 bay leaf (tez patta)
½ kilo bag of frozen spinach pellets or
1 kg of fresh spinach leaves
1 large onion – chopped any size
1 large tomato -chopped any size
1 fresh green chilli or 1 inch frozen crushed green chilli
4 cloves of garlic or 2 inch frozen garlic
50 grams freshly grated ginger or 2 inch frozen ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons red chilly powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 teaspoons garam masala (all spice)
1/2 kilo Paneer (cottage cheese)cut to 1 inch pieces
Butter oil for topping (if preferred)

STEP 1. Put all whole spices into heated oil, let them get brown
STEP 2. Add rest of the ingredients and cook for 2 whistles (4-6 minutes) in cooker or in the pan until all tender
STEP 3. Remove whole spices and run the hand grinder for 1-2 minutes right into the cooker/pan to make it smooth. You can then put the whole spices back in if you want to.
STEP 4. Add garam masala and the paneer/tofu pieces and let it simmer for 5 minutes before serving

HANDY TIP:
1. As no oils are needed to prepare the dish, you can add a dollop of butter or butter oil (butter oil) when serving, Spinach is supposed to be dry in nature for body so some healthy grease is advisable.
2. Feel free to replace paneer (cottage cheese) with sautéd Tofu or grilled potatoes.
3. For non vegetarian option replace paneer with boneless chicken tikka.