Coconut Sugar – the most sustainable sugar in the world!

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Coconut sugar production is a very simple one as compared to most other sugars. There is absolutely no additives and it is prepared in the most sustainable way. I’ve been talking about this wonder sugar for some time  and its benefits. I recently visited one of the farm which produces the best coconut sugar ever!

Coconut sugar is made from the  sap of the coconut tree. This sap is collected once or twice a day and comes from the stem that would normally feed a group of coconuts. Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel, an earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation. The collected liquid in the collection vessel is poured into the boiling vessel which is done first thing in the morning. This is usually done early mornings when the weather is relatively cooler  within a span of four hours. This neera or palm toddy is boiled to a desired runny and sticky consistency. This is poured into molds and dried before packing.

i2cook’s coconut sugar goes into further breaking down into powder form and is sun-dried. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar are two different types of sugar. Please refer my blog post for further clarification on different types of sugar (with GI comparison). I use coconut sugar in my tea/coffee or in my banana bread amost every other day. I use this sugar to make some coconut sugar cookies too!

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Farmer ready with his gear

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Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel

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An earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation

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Boiling to obtain coconut sugar

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The final prep of pouring the coconut sugar into molds

A lot of  you may be concerned about the sap being  used only in sugar production and wondering about growing coconuts… To clear your doubt – only 10-15 trees depending on the production capacity of that particular farm is kept separate for coconut sugar production only. One of the farm would only produce 10kg per day during the first half of the day and would keep the rest of the day for other work like agriculture, cattle feed etc. The trees marked for coconut sugar production are kept closer to home for a simple reason being, closer to home means closer to production/boiling facility and also  no tension of coconut falling on anyone’ head ;)

Using coconut sugar in your diet is relatively a new concept in India and I can proudly say that “i2cook” is one of the first company to launch coconut sugar as a retail product. Coconut sugar production helps farmers to gain an extra income apart from their other agricultural practices. Coconut sugar is not only good for you but also good for the environment!


Homemade Badam Powder

I love to shop home products online and one such website that I had stubble upon couple of months ago was The Home Label by Sussanne Khan. I find their products unique and well curated. Last week the home label team sent me some lovely products for this festive season.  I used the cake stands to display my desi cardamom style cupcakes and the Moscow mule mug for my badam milk. The gorgeous copper body and brass handle mule mug is usually used to serve alcoholic beverages. This mug  tends to keep the beverage chilled for a longer period of time and I think they can work great as beer mugs. This mug holds about 500ml. I also use this mug to drink water as copper is know to have great health benefits.
Mule mug 1
I’m a firm supporter of DYI. Most of my mayo, sauces or jams are all homemade by me or my friends. This festive season, I’m planning to serve some traditional drink and I thought of serving my guests some chilled badam milk. I detest store bought badam powder as they lack the pureness and are overly sweet. I recently checked  the ingredients of one of the well known brands in India and it contained about 80% sugar only.  It is the most easiest thing to make at home and I recommend you try this once. You can refrigerate badam  powder in fridge for about two months or freeze it for 6 months. I tend to add a little turmeric powder (haldi) in my badam milk to give that nice appealing colour and like our grandma said  “haldi is good for you”.
Ingredients:
200 gms blanched almonds & lightly roasted
3 tbs raw sugar (you can add more if you like yours sweeter)
2tsp cardamom powder
few strands of saffron
1 tbs chopped pistachio (optional)
Preparation:
  • Grind almonds, sugar and cardamom until fine powder. Over grinding may turn into a paste.
  • Pour in a dish & mix some saffron and pistachio.
  • Pour the powder in an air tight container and store it refrigerated.
For making badam milk
Add a teaspoon or two of the badam powder to a glass of milk. Add some sugar if required. Add a pinch or two of turmeric powder for a soothing effect.
I’m already in my high spirits after a sip of  badam milk in my mule mug this festive season!
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Desi style cardamom cupcakes

 

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Introducing my  Desi style cupcakes, aka cardamom cupcakes with kesar & pista frosting. These eggless cupcakes are a  great way  to indulge and without the frosting can also be guilt-free ;). I know I have your attention now!

These cupcakes are made with whole wheat flour (stone ground organic atta) and organic olive oil. These butter less cupcake are not only organic & healthy but also gives a new dimension to your dessert table for this Dussehra/Diwali.

Using local ingredients as much as possible is the best way to support honorable Prime Minister Mr Modi’s “Make in India” campaign. I used an Indian brand for cream cheese and was happy with its texture and taste. After making the frosting right from scratch, I realized that you can also frost these cupcakes with shrikhand, either homemade or store bought.

And also my company was featured in Mint this month. Yay!

 Ms Sussanne Khan’s The Home Label team sent me this gorgeous two-tiered cake stand & cake stand for my cupcakes.
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Ingredients
187 gm whole wheat flour
150 gm raw sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp baking soda
84 gm olive oil
 a pinch of salt
1 tbs vinegar
245 ml buttermilk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp of vinegar
Ingredients for frosting 
1 tub or 180 gms cream cheese (I used Britannia)
25 ml of cream
2 tbs of raw sugar
few strands of saffron (kesar) soaked in warm milk for that lovely yellow colour
pistachio for some garnish
Preparation
  • Measure and mix all the dry ingredients like flour, soda, salt, cardamom, sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients one by one  to the dry mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the cake mixture in the cupcake molds and bake at 160 degree centigrade for about 15-18 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack once done. Makes 20 medium sized cupcakes.
  • Beat all the ingredients for frosting until smooth in texture. Frost your cupcake garnished with some pistachio. You can also use some thick shrikhand as mentioned above in this post.

 

 

2 tier stand 1

 

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Eggless chocolate cupcake


Eggless Chocolate Cupcake

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Cupcakes are everyone’s favourite and the best part is that they are bite sized (to make us less guilty). Cupcakes are every where! There are dedicated stores only doing cupcakes and you even have cupcake vending machines in America. Have you seen the cupcake wars on television? Originally these cakes where baked in small cups, hence the name cup cake.

If you have been reading my blog you will notice that the use of refined flour is very minimal. I use  a lot of wheat flour in my baking and sometimes use ragi or amaranth flour to make brownies or chocolate cake. I use unrefined and sulphurless raw sugar or coconut sugar in my baking. I also keep a jar of vanilla sugar which comes handy every time I bake. Vanilla sugar can be made by adding  few pods of vanilla into your jar of sugar. I always tend to forget to add vanilla in my baking but luckily the vanilla sugar always comes to my rescue.

These chocolate cupcakes are eggless and I’ve made them twice already before penning down the recipe here. These are very soft in texture. They seem so easy and seamless to make that your family or friends may not even know if you have added oat flour.

Ingredients:

187 gm flour*
150 gm raw sugar or vanilla infuse sugar
30 gm cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
84 gm olive oil
1 tsp vanilla powder or essence
 a pinch of salt
1 tbs vinegar
245 ml buttermilk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp of vinegar
2 tbs chopped chocolate (50-60%)
Note: I used a mix of wheat & ragi flour in my first batch and wheat & oat flour in the second. Feel free to experiment with flours.
Procedure:
  • Measure and mix all the dry ingredients like flour, soda, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla, sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients to this dry mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the cake mixture in the cupcake molds and bake at 160 degree centigrade for about 15-18 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack once done. Makes 24 nos. You could also frost your cupcakes with some chocolate ganache.

 

 


An evening with apple cake

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The sun plays hide and seek in the absence of rains, reminds me of Bangalore winter more than the monsoon. An evening cup of tea or coffee to enjoy the perfect weather beckons an evening treat!  Apple cake is a versatile teacake or a coffeecake like the banana bread. Throw in any ingredient you like and it won’t disappoint you. You can add grated, cut or sliced apples, mixed with flour or placed at  top or bottom (for caramelized apple) of the pan. I think I will  leave it to your creative senses. I prefer to make my tea cakes simple and the idea of glazing it sounds divine!

You can glaze your apple cake with a simple mixture of coconut sugar, milk or water and a hint of cinnamon or glaze it with some cinnamon spiked cream cheese or cream or some caramel sauce. Oh my! I can go on and on….

This cake is simple to make and calls for only basic ingredients easily available at home. Wheat flour gives this cake a nice nutty and rustic taste. I’ve only used cinnamon and ginger powder to spice up the cake. Coconut sugar gives a nice colour  and taste to this cake.

Apple cake 2

Ingredients:

25o gms wheat flour

150 gms coconut sugar or raw sugar*

3 medium sized apples, grated without skin

3 eggs

150 ml olive oil

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp rock salt

* You can add more sugar if you like. I was going to glaze my cake hence I used less sugar.

Procedure:

  • Measure and mix all the dry ingredients. Keep aside.
  • Measure and mix oil with sugar.
  • Add egg one at a time to the sugar and oil mixture. Beat lightly until well incorporated.
  • Mix the dry and the wet ingredients slowly until well combined.
  • Pour it in the desired greased dish.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven, set at 180 degree centigrade for about 30-40 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with your favourite glaze or topping.

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My rendezvous with Martha & a recipe for eggless mousse

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This post has been  long over due and I cannot express how much I’ve been pushing myself to write this post. Settling down in a new home and office at the same time can be very exhausting. I’m slowly getting my life back to normal and enjoying meeting new people and learning something new every day.

I happen to know about Martha’s preserves through a friend of mine and was curious to meet the face behind such lovely products. Every product which comes out is dear to every entrepreneur and setting up a business coming from foreign land is not an easy task. Meet Martha Kohlhagen. She makes awesome marmalade and sauces which gives you a taste of a true artisan product sans preservatives.

Martha’s Preserves operates from a 20 acre farm at Bannerghatta. Martha  stays and works from her farm. They are a team of 10 dedicated individuals dishing out 10 plus yummy products like  pomegranate and orange marmalade, lemon curd, caramel sauce, chocolate fudge, onion relish etc. Martha has a  background in food technology and uses her grandmother’s recipe to make these delicious products. She does keep the Indian taste in mind and has created products like chilli pineapple jam. Martha aims to produce quality products without comprising on taste. She says that it takes a lot of care and planning to sort fruits and make seasonal products. Martha plans to increase her reach to other cities too.

What really impressed me about Martha’s preserves is that they not only make unique combinations but also have sauces like caramel sauce, chocolate fudge sauce on offer that make life simple. Some ice-cream and a combo of these two sauces makes for a stellar dessert. However, for those who like a little more salt in their caramel sauce can add some sprinkles of sea salt to round up on the flavours. Martha’s Preserves are a Gourmet range, hence be prepared to shell an extra buck for these artisan products but trust me when I say they are worth it!

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Since the time I’ve moved back to Bangalore, I’ve been enjoying avocados. My mom’s neighbouring garden produces some of the best and creamiest avocados that I’ve ever had. Long live thy neighbour! Avocado mousse is so easy to make and can be made guilt-free. The natural creamy texture of the avocado makes all the difference and you won’t miss any cream in your dessert. If you don’t have Martha’s chocolate fudge at home, you could use cocoa powder or dark couverture chocolate (melted). You can also spike your dessert with a teaspoon of brandy! This dessert allows you to play with ingredients and feel free to experiment by adding rolled oats, cashew butter or hazelnut with different flavours or textures.

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Ingredients for avocado & chocolate fudge mousse

1 big size avocado, scooped into a bowl

2 tbs of Martha’s chocolate fudge sauce

1/2 tbs maple syrup or honey

1/2 tbs coffee decoction

nuts or cocao nibs for garnish

 Procedure:

  • Add all the ingredients in a mixer except garnish and make a fine paste.
  • Pour the mousse into the desired serving glasses or bowls. Garnish with some nuts and cocao nibs. Refrigerate for minimum of two hours  before serving.
  • Serve chilled. Serves 2-4.

Note: I layered my serving glasses with some caramel sauce at the bottom to give my dessert a surprise element.

Martha’s Preserves is available at Foodhall.



Peanut Butter Blondies

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I’ve been addictive to these blondies and everyone at home just love it! These are made with real nuts and addition of choco chips makes these an heavenly treat.

Baking with nut butters negates the use of butter since nut butters contain their own fat/oil. You can use any nut butter as the main ingredient and these can be made vegan or gluten free or flour-less. Blondies are like brownies but contain less of cocoa or chocolate. As the name suggests, they are brown in colour. They are  great as a snack or you could have them as  dessert with some  ice-cream.

Ingredients 

500 gms nut butters like  peanut butter or almond butter

2 eggs or 30 gms flax seed powder lightly beaten with 6 tbs of water for egg-less version

1 tsp baking soda

120 gms raw sugar

25 gms choco chips

20 gms nuts or cocao nibs

Note: I usually prefer to add some crunch to my blondies by adding cocao nibs or nuts

Procedure

  1. Measure all the ingredients and keep aside.
  2. Lightly beat two eggs in a bowl.
  3. Mix the nut butter, raw sugar, soda , choco chips and nuts into the wet mixture very softly.
  4. Line 10×10 inch baking dish/pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly throughout.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for about 18-20 minutes.
  6. Once done, allow it to cool before cutting them into desired shapes. Serve warm or at room temperature.  This recipe makes about 25 pieces.

 

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