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Eggless Carrot cakeThis homemade vegetarian eggless carrot cake is absolutely foolproof. The recipe is simple and easy to follow. And, since it's egg-free and dairy-free, it's also lower in fat than usual varieties.
You might also want to try this recipe for an orange flavored cream cheese frosting. Recipe here.



Serves 4
Time 45 mins
Ingredients
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup soy milk
Preparation
  • Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  • Combine vanilla, butter, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, flour and soy milk and whisk until well mixed.
  • Fold in the carrot and walnuts.
  • Spread batter evenly in baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius.
  • Take it out and allow to cool on the rack.
  • Frost with a orange/lemon cream cheese frosting if you like.


 Carrot cake is almost like the Gajar ka halwa flavored cake! This warm cake can be had every day with evening tea or coffee or after breakfast and you’ll never get bored as we usually do with biscuits.
Carrot cake
According to the food historians, our modern carrot cake most likely descended from medieval carrot puddings enjoyed by people in Europe. Historic evidence suggests Arab cooks of the Carrots are an old world food imported to the Americas by European settlers. In the 20th century carrot cake was re-introduced as a "healthy alternative" to traditional desserts. The first time was due to necessity; the second time was spurred by the wave of health foods.
So now that we know how this awesome cake came into existence, we should thank our ancestors for it! I’ve made it once, this first time when a friend from Germany insisted on how good it actually is, and since then I replaced my fruit cakes with this ‘veggie cake’. It’s healthy and loaded with vitamin A! I am showing here the recipe for the complete party cake with frosting, but you can omit the frosting if making a normal cake that can be used as a muffin. You can also reduce all quantities by half to have a cake for 4-5 people. Let’s get started!
Serves 10 - 12
Preparation Time: 45 Mins
Ingredients
1 cup (100 grams) pecans or walnuts
3/4 pound (340 grams) raw carrots (about 2 1/2 cups finely grated)
1/2 cup Prunes/Raisins
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) safflower, vegetable or canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese frosting 
(optional, you can avoid this if making more like a tea time cake)
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (outer yellow skin) (optional)

Recipe
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
  • Grease with butter, two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a parchment/butter paper. This makes taking out the cake easier.
  • Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely in mortar or blend for 5 seconds.
  • Wash, peel and finely grate the carrots.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.
  • In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand blender or whisk), beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute).
  • Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored (about 3 - 4 minutes).
  • Add the oil in a steady stream and then add the vanilla essence.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined well.
  • With a large spatula, fold in the grated carrots and chopped nuts and prunes.
  • Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  • After about 5 -10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting.

Cream Frosting:
  • In bowl of electric mixer/blender or whisk, beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, until well blended with no lumps.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. 
  • Beat in the vanilla extract, and lemon/orange zest.

To assemble:
Place one cake layer onto your serving plate. Spread with about half the frosting. Gently place the other cake onto the frosting and spread the rest of the frosting over the top of the cake. If desired, garnish with toasted nuts on the top of the cake. You can cover and refrigerate any leftover cake and it will easily last for 2 weeks in fridge/freezer.

Banana Muffins
A muffin is a type of semi-sweet cake or quick bread that is baked in portions appropriate for one person. They are similar to cupcakes, although they are usually less sweet and lack icing. Savory varieties, such as cornbread muffins or cheese muffins also exist. The term also refers to a disk-shaped muffin, called an English muffin outside the United Kingdom. There are many varieties such as low-fat and flavors of muffins made with a specific ingredient such as blueberries, chocolate chips, raspberry, cinnamon, pumpkin, date, nut, lemon, banana, orange, peach, strawberry, almond, and carrot, baked into the muffin. Muffins are often eaten for breakfast; alternatively, they may be served for tea or at other meals.

Here, I am sharing the recipe for Banana Muffin – my favorite kind! I love the sweetness, fruitiness and warmth of a banana muffin which makes it the best comfort food!
Serves: 12 Muffins or 36 Mini-muffins
Time: 30 mins
Banana MuffinsIngredients
4 ripe bananas, plus 1 for garnish
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour (Maida)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (Atta)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Banana MuffinsDirections
    Banana Muffins
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a muffin pan or ramekin moulds, regular or mini, with paper liners.
  • Peel four bananas and beat until mashed, about 1 minute with a blender.
  • Add brown sugar, oil, and egg; beat until smooth.
  • Add the two flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat until smooth.
  • Add sour cream and vanilla; beat until combined well.
  • Fill muffin liners three-quarters full.
  • Slice remaining banana into thin rounds; place a slice on each muffin.(optional)
  • Bake for about 25 minutes for regular muffins and 20 for mini, rotating pan after 10-12 mins, until tester inserted into center comes out clean.
  • Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store covered, at room temperature.

We searched and found the easiest simplest and yummiest Christmas ideas for you from across the globe. These foods need just a few ingredients, some imagination, creativity and lots of love! Tomorrow is Christmas and it’s time we get some cool fresh new ideas to make this X-mas a fun party this time! For these ideas, you can even involve your kids in the kitchen, and this will give then a fun activity as well as make it an inclusive fest!


















P.S. The pics are the courtesy of Google images and scanned with our imaginations to make searching easy for you.
Gajar ka Halwa
Winters for me equal to Gajar ka halwa! I remember how my mom used to get kilos of carrots and make this delicacy for me n my lil brother’s birthdays.  I used to just keep making trips to the kitchen wishing she’ld say it’s ready and we can have it before dinner! This is a traditional north Indian dessert but these days you can have it in all parts of India or infact the world. There are many variations of it, such as with or without dry fruits, made with milk or cream, added khoya or not, etc. Here’s my version. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients
Red Carrots           8-10 medium
Cashewnuts         8-10
Almonds               8-10
Raisins                  10-15
Pure ghee             3 tablespoons
Milk                      2 cups
Elaichi powder      1/4 teaspoon
Mawa (khoya)       1 cup
Sugar                             3/4 cup
Silver warq            1 sheet(optional, for décor)

How to make Gajar ka HalwaMethod
  • Peel, wash and grate the carrots.
  • Chop cashewnuts.
  • Blanch almonds in half a cup of hot water for five minutes.
  • Drain, cool, peel and slice them.
  • Wash raisins and pat them dry.
  • Heat pure ghee in a thick-bottomed pan/kadhai.
  • Add grated carrots and sauté for 10 minutes on medium flame.
  • Add milk, green cardamom powder and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until the milk evaporates and the carrots are cooked.
  • Stir in the grated khoya and sugar and cook for 10-12 minutes on low heat till the sugar melts and mixes well, stirring continuously.
  • Continue to cook for two minutes more. Garnish with chopped cashewnuts, sliced almonds and raisins. Decorate with silver warq. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Chef's Advice - Please wear a thumb cup, gloves or use a grating holder while grating the carrots as there may be a chance you can bruise your thumb or fingers if you get distracted for a second!

Apple Cider Rum PunchWe add one more amazing drink to our Christmas special – The Rum Cider Punch! The best part is that you can serve this hot or cold as you like according to the weather or the guest choice.  I had not made this ever unless Nigella Lawson inspired me on one of her X-mas shows. This looked really easy so I had to try and I was surely satisfied with the outcome.  To make the non alcoholic version, you can add black tea to the punch instead of rum and have a classic Christmas version of ice tea (or hot tea)!

Apple Cider Rum PunchIngredients
1 liter          apple juice or cider
1/2 cup      brown sugar firmly packed
15-16          whole cloves
10-12          star anise
8-9              large cinnamon sticks
2                 whole nutmegs, cracked
1 to 2 cups golden rum
1                 Keenu/Clementine
1                 Apple/ sliced in circles
1 cup black tea (dip a tea bag in hot cup of water for 2 mins)
Lemon peel and/or other garnish of your choice

Directions
  • In a large saucepan, combine apple juice or cider, brown sugar, whole cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and nutmegs.
  • Add the pulp of Keenu and the peel too. Add tea.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, cool, then refrigerate several hours.

To serve:
  • Strain into punch bowl. Stir in 1 to 2 cups golden rum, according to taste.
  • Garnish with thin strips of lemon peel. Add back the slices of apple if you like.
  • This can be reheated after straining and you can also add more golden/black rum if you like.


Chicken BiryaniChristmas is just around the corner and shopping is in full flow! So while you decorate your Christmas trees, and pack gifts and plan on buying stuff for a great Christmas dinner, here’s the recipe for a great delicious traditional dinner dish – The Chicken Biryani. In India, the turkey is not cooked that often, and infact it can be found only in gourmet food shops. Hence we can always have the option to make biryanis with chicken, Fish, mutton, egg or just veg biryani.
Biryani is basically the meat cooked with long grained rice and flavored with whole spices and lots of aromats. It’s a typical dish from Hyderabad and makes for excellent Christmas meal as you elaborately decorate the dinner tables!

Serves 5-6
Preparation time 45 mins
Chicken BiryaniIngredients
Chicken - 1 ½ kg, big pieces
Oil - 5 to 6 tbsp
Garlic - 2 tsp, ground
Ginger - 2 tsp, ground
5-6 medium onions finely sliced
Cashew Nuts - 2 tbsp, ground
Poppy Seeds (Khus Khus) - 2 tbsp, powdered
Dry Coconut 2 tbsp, ground (optional)
Tomato Puree - 2 cups
Basmati Rice - 4 cups
Salt 2 tsp or to taste
Saffron - 1/2 tsp, soaked in 1/4 cup milk
Cinnamon Stick 1
Cloves 3-4
Bay leaf 1
Black Cardamom 1
Green Cardamom (elaichi) 2
Ghee - 2 tbsp

For the Marinade
Thick Curd - 4 cups, beaten till smooth
2 Green Chillies chopped
Coriander Leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Salt - 2 tsp
Chilli Powder 2 tsp
Garam Masala Powder 2 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Chicken Masala ½ tsp
Biryani Masala ½ tsp

For Garnish
Onion - 1 to 2, sliced and fried

Method
  • Mix the marinade ingredients to a smooth paste.
  • Rub it over the chicken and allow it to marinate for 15 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a pan.
  • Add bay leaf, cinnamon, and cardamoms.
  • Fry the garlic, ginger and onions in this oil till light brown.
  • Add cashew nuts, poppy seeds and coconut.
  • Cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
  • Add the tomato puree.
  • Simmer on low heat and keep mixing till the oil starts to float on top.
  • Transfer this paste to a large pan.
  • Add the chicken with the marinade in the pan with the paste.
  • Cover pan and cook on low heat till the chicken is tender.
  • Wash the rice 2-3 times and soak in water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cook rice with salt in plenty of water (7-8 cups) till 3/4th done. This should take around 8-10 mins.
  • Drain out the water and allow the rice to cool.
  • Place 1/3rd of the rice in a deep pan or a big kadhai/pot.
  • Place half the chicken over the rice.
  • Cover with another layer of rice.
  • Place the remaining chicken over it and cover with the remaining rice.
  • Sprinkle little water on it.
  • Pour saffron milk and ghee on top.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and seal the edges with dough.
  • Cook on low heat for 20 minutes or bake in an oven at 180C for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Garnish with fried onions.
  • Serve hot with raita or curd.


Rajma or Kidney bean is the ultimate favourite lentil of all Indians esp in north India. Rajma Chawal for every kid means home. The best of Rajma are available in Jammu in India and next time you’re there do buy atleast 5 kgs!

This recipe of Rajma masala goes best with jeera rice and is rich in aromats and whole spices. A quick tip – when you make the masala for the rajma, keep a 2-3 tbsp of it extra separately and you can use it for paneer masala the next day!


Rajma MasalaCooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Ingredients
Red kidney beans (Rajma), soaked overnight      1 ½ cups
Oil     3 tbsp
Bay leaves   2
Cinnamon 2 sticks
Cloves 3-4
Hing ¼ tsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera 1 tsp
Black cardamom ( moti elaichi) 1
2 medium Onions, finely sliced       
Ginger, chopped   1 inch piece
Garlic, chopped    6-8 cloves
3 medium Tomatoes, pureed  
Rajma MasalaCoriander powder 1 tablespoon
Cumin powder     1 teaspoon
Red chili powder  2 teaspoons
Turmeric powder  ½ teaspoon
Garam masala powder   1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Method
  • Pressure cook rajma with five cups of water and salt till totally cooked and soft.
  • Heat oil in a deep pan and add jeera and hing.
  • When it splutters, add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom and onions on medium flame.
  • After 1 min, add ginger and garlic and continue to sauté till the mixture turns golden.
  • Add tomato puree, mix and continue to cook on low flame.
  • Add coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and cook till the oil leaves the masala. This will take about 10-12 mins.
  • Turn off the gas and blend this mixture in a blender/grinder.
  • Add this masala paste in the rajma and mix.
  • Adjust salt and add Garam masala powder.
  • Lower the heat and simmer for about fifteen to twenty minutes on low heat. Mash a little to make the gravy thick.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.


Daal Makhani
Yummmm….Daal Makhani, the ultimate favorite Indian dish of most vegetarians after shahi paneer! Reminds me of the summer vacations spent with my granny, where this daal was made atleast twice a week. Truly the ‘Maa ki daal’ for me! This is also made as Karvachauth dinner in most Indian homes. And this is the first one to be usually ordered in any restaurant when you’re out with friends for a dinner party. Really rich in flavour and texture and with it’s rustic spices and aromats, it makes for a typical traditional Indian dish, a must have recipe!


Serves 4
Cooking Time 45 mins
Soaking time Overnight for rajma and minimum 3 hours for the daal/lentils

Ingredients
1 ½ cup whole Urad daal (Urad sabut, or kali daal/Maa ki daal) soaked
2 tbsp Red kidney beans (Rajma) soaked
2 medium red onions finely chopped
Recipe of Daal Makhani3 medium tomatoes finely chopped
2" Ginger piece
2-3 green chilies finely chopped
chopped coriander leaves 2 tbsp
4-5 flakes Garlic paste
1/2 cup fresh stirred cream (malai)
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1/2tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Garam masala
1 cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom
1 green cardamom
Red chili powder to taste
1 tsp dhania powder / dry coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp ghee to make the tadka/tempering

How to make dal makhni
  • Soak rajma in water overnight and daal for 3 hrs before cooking.
  • Add water & little salt and pressure-cook Rajma and urad daal till soft for about 20 minutes or 3-4 whistles.
  • Uncover and mash it a little with the back of a ladle, and boil again for 15-20 minutes or 2-3 whistles and add milk and cream to the daal. Keep aside.
  • Now in a big kadhai/wok, heat ghee. Splutter cumin seeds and add garlic paste, cook till light brown. Add cardamoms and cinnamon.
  • Add onions and cook till they get golden brown.
  • Reduce flame to low and add ginger, green chilies and tomatoes and cook till tomatoes soften.
  • Now add dry spices (turmeric powder, chili powder, dhania powder & salt), 1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander/dhaniya and cook again for 5-8 mins till the mixture starts to separate from the ghee on the edges.
  • Add the cooked daal to this kadhai, and stir on medium flame. As soon as it starts boiling remove from the gas.
  • Sprinkle garam masala powder and garnish daal makhni with remaining coriander and add butter.
  • Serve hot. Daal Makhani goes well with laccha paratha, naan or rice.


Besan ki Pinni / laddooBesan ki Pinni
I was home for a winter wedding recently, and guess the most popular dessert there? Pinni – or more popularly known as the besan ke laddoo. I’ve noticed that the besan laddoo is slightly drier and crumblier than the pinni which is rich with desi ghee and lots of almonds and raisins. Let’s have this simple, so easy to make, delicious dessert treat these winters. And I’ll tell you a secret to have it the best way – warm these in microwave for 20 seconds or just leave in a plate on a warm tawa and wait for them to melt in your mouth!

Makes 20
Time 45 mins
besan ki pinni/laddooIngredients
Almonds                         20-25
Raisins                           20-25
Gram flour (besan)         4 cups
Desi Ghee                      2 cups
Elaichi powder               ½ teaspoon
Powdered sugar              2 cups (adjust according to taste)
Method
  • Heat ghee in a deep, thick bottomed kadhai.
  • Add green cardamom powder.
  • Add gram flour and roast on low heat till a nice aroma is given out - for approximately 10-15 minutes. Keep stirring frequently, till the besan gets golden in colour.
  • Crush almonds and keep aside with raisins.
  • Transfer roasted gram flour to a bowl or a larger kadhai and add crushed almonds, raisins and mix.
  • Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding powdered sugar.
  • Add sugar and mix well.
  • Roll into even sized laddoos/balls /pinnis by rubbing a little ghee on your palms so mixture doesn’t stick.
  • You can also decorate the pinni with kaju/cashew and pistachios.
  • Cool the pinnis and store in airtight container.

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