Sunday, November 27, 2016

sesame almond laddu | mixed seeds and nuts protein snack


Sesame laddu or til ka laddu is a traditional snack that we have grown up eating every winter. Sesame is great for winters and it is considered warming for the body. This calcium, iron and potassium rich seed is a convenient and cheap way to supplement these minerals.

sesame almond laddu

During the last few months I have been having sesame laddus regularly to heal my bones and joints. Initially my finger and wrist joints were so bad I could not even think of making these laddus because working with a ladle and shaping the laddus by using hands was not possible at all. Those early days I depended on the sesame chutney that my house help used to make for us.

We consumed insane amount of coconut water to hydrate ourselves during the first month. There was lot of haldi doodh and healing rasam made and consumed that helped me manage the pain better.

My doctor advised that the pain and stiffness will stay for the duration it is meant to be but it can be made manageable by healing foods and some physiotherapy. This approach worked actually, even though I was baffled with all the disability it brought along.

So as soon as I was able to handle a ladle and a hot kadhai (wok), I made the sesame laddu. This time it was supplemented with a few more seeds and even some grated turmeric along with ginger, some nutmeg and some pepper powder was added to make the healing process faster.  It definitely gave me energy as I was feeling completely sapped of all energy for the longest time.

ingredients 

500 gm sesame seeds
250 gm flax seeds meal (powdered coarsely)
250 gm chopped almonds raw (add some walnuts too if you like, I added to the first batch I made)
200 gm chia seeds
50 gm dry ginger powder or 200 gm grated fresh ginger
5 gm pepper powder
2 tbsp grated fresh turmeric 
little bit of nutmeg powder
600 gm jaggery (use a little more if you feel it wont bid well)
150 ml water

sesame almond laddu

procedure 

To make the process a bit easy on my hands I baked the chopped almonds and sesame seeds in the oven. Spread on a baking tray it took 20 minutes at 180 C. The flax seeds were roasted lightly in a pan before being powdered.

Mix all dry ingredients and keep aside.

Mix the jaggery and water in a pan and het till the jaggery melts. Strain the melted jaggery in a large kadhai and place it on the gas stove. Start simmering the jaggery syrup with the grated tamarind and grated ginger if using and keep cooking till it starts frothing and there is a shine in the syrup.

You can test i by dropping a little syrup in a bowl full of cold water. If the syrup makes a ball it is ready, if it dissolves it needs some more cooking.

Now dunk the dry ingredients together in the kadhai and mix quickly and thoroughly. Let it cool till you can handle the mix. Shape into laddus once cool enough. Grease you hands with ghee to prevent the mix sticking to your palms.

If you are in a hurry you can spread the mix on a greased baking tray and press down completely. Let it set and then cut into desired shapes.

sesame almond laddu

I realised while shaping the laddus using hot mixture my finger joints relieved a bit as it worked similar to fomentation.Small joints were the worst affected and it was good to see some improvement happening just by making these laddus. I made really large laddus this time to ensure there is lesser work to do and we eat enough seeds mix this way everyday.

We have been having the laddu everyday and I have already made 2 large batches since then. I will make a few more batches this winter as I know we can't ignore our health at all.

This sesame and mixed nut and seeds laddu actually is a nice protein dense supplement of minerals and omega3s. Make it this winter if you are into heavy workouts or there is some joint discomfort.

Consult your doctor to diagnose your condition first, ask if these ingredients are safe and then you can get it made and consume regularly. Prevention is better than cure, but correct diagnosis is a prerequisite to cure and healing.

Cheers.



Monday, November 21, 2016

wholewheat date walnut tray bake (no sugar added), a rich mildly spiced cake sweetened with dates


I rarely bake cakes but winters come with the excuse of keeping the kitchen warm. Also, who doesn't like nice and warm aromas of  something being baked in the kitchen? This is the time I keep looking for opportunities to bake some cake to be shared with someone or to be taken somewhere as we don't eat much cake at home.

wholewheat date walnut tray bake

So this time when we visited our friends at Tijara farm I thought of baking a dates and walnut cake without added sugar as one of our hosts is diabetic and everyone else likes lightly sweetened desserts. The liberal use of nuts and whole wheat makes this cake low glycemic too.

It happens quite often that I end up adding some flavours to the cake just for the sake of making my kitchen smell warm and cozy. This lightly spiced dates and walnut cake made using whole wheat flour was a result of one such impulsive moment when I added garam masala along with rum to the cake batter, the result was so good I wanted to bring back a few slices for ourselves, to be enjoyed later.

Usually I bake such cakes in a loaf tin but I realised I need to bake a larger cake so I decided to make it a tray bake. Baking it in a tray helps get a wider crust in each piece of cake, a very important feature in whole grain cakes with chopped nuts as the crumb can be really crumbly sometimes when sliced out of a loaf cake.So even if you decide to bake this cake in a loaf tin, keep the height of the cake less.

ingredients 
(makes a large cake that serves 12-15 people)

good quality soft dates, seeds removed 350 gm
rum 50 ml (optional)
whole wheat flour (atta) 320 gm (2 cups +3 tbsp)
baking powder 1 tbsp
baking soda (soda bi carb or meetha soda) 1 tsp
butter 250 gm (melted at room temperature) oil can also be used
eggs 6
vanilla extract 1 tbsp
walnuts 200 gm (I used a mix of almonds and walnuts)
special garam masala 1/2 tsp (optional, note that this is not a regular garam masala, check link)

baking tray (9"x12" size) 

wholewheat date walnut tray bake

procedure

Chop the dates so they distribute well in the batter. If the dates are hard ones you can soak and make a paste. It shouldn't get too loose as it affects the consistency of the cake batter. It should be a thick jam like consistency.You can use ready made date paste if you wish.

Mix the rum with date paste if using. Keep aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and garam masala to the flour and use a whisk to mix well. You can sieve the whole mix to ensure better mixing. Keep aside.

wholewheat date walnut tray bake

Mix the eggs with melted butter (room temperature or 25-30 C) and whisk till it becomes creamy smooth. Add vanilla extract and the date paste and whisk again and let the date paste loosen to make the mix smooth.

Now add 1/3 the flour mix and whisk to mix, fold in the remaining flour mix in two parts till the mix becomes a thick batter with a consistency of muffin batter.

Fold in 2/3 of the chopped nuts and spread the batter in a baking tray (9"X12"). Pat down to smooth the surface, sprinkle remaining nuts and press a little.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 40 minutes.

wholewheat date walnut tray bake

Let the tray bake cool down completely before cutting squares. Use a sharp knife pressing down (not sliding across) to cut pieces as the crumb of this cake is quite delicate and the pieces of nuts cause some breakage if you are not careful.

You can store the cake in an airtight cake box and refrigerate for 2 weeks or so. At room temperature it stays for 3 days.

Serve at room temperature or warm as per choice.

wholewheat date walnut tray bake

You might like it warm with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup if serving for dessert and plain with hot milk if it is a part of breakfast. But the cake tastes great even at room temperature in this season.

I had baked this cake for a gathering where most people like lightly sweetened desserts and everyone had it without any sweet additives apart from a child who didn't take second helping.

With any such lightly sweetened dessert, I would recommend taking at least 2 bites before deciding to top it with honey, or syrup, as once the palate starts recognizing the natural sweetness the added sweetener will not be required.

PS : Since I mentioned that this cake recipe is suitable for diabetics too, I must clear the fact that the use of eggs and nuts makes this recipe low on Glycemic Index. Else dates are not suitable for all diabetics even in a cake like this. So if you are tweaking this recipe and substituting eggs with a replacement or if you use lesser amount of nuts, please do not consider it suitable for diabetics.