Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Fat to Fit- Basics about Intermittent Fasting!

A random picture of my tomato vines!

I don’t much know or care about these ‘they-s’ we always refer to, but they say that in winter you make your summer body. It could be ‘you’ who can agree or disagree, but I am going with it for the simple reason that soon the warming protection of an over the top jacket is going to go, and we would end up with a flabby arm in a sleeveless dress, showing unflatteringly. So here is our ‘Lets Lose Weight Together’ winter series to get you up and tidy for the coming seasons!

Now if someone isn’t familiar with our earlier series, than a link is embossed for you to check it out. That series did pretty well on my blog, and if emails are to be believed, many came forward to tell me how it helped them achieve a good weight. That time, a couple of years ago, natural sciences told us that 2-hour-eating pattern was the healthiest way to life!! But as Darwin stated, evolution happened in the sector of natural sciences; and scientists claim that they have found a better solution of weight loss in the form of intermittent fasting. Now I am as confused as you are, but more and more I read about IF, I become more and more certain that it must be a healthy pattern of eating. Now let’s give it to our ancestors, in the name of religion, they did devise this healthy alternative lifestyle in the way of Ramadan, where you fast for most hours with just a small period of time allotted to feasting. But the non inclusion of water is still a problem, and that gets eliminated in the Intermittent fasting pattern of eating. Similarly, in our Hindu tradition, especially in Bengal, we have ‘uposh’ till the time we offer our prayers to Ma Durga, which is exactly what we do in Intermittent fasting. We fast till 11 am, and then start eating and continue eating till 9 pm. The only way ‘uposh’ is different to our fast is that, we don’t start our day eating deep fried dough and potato curry!

So, I have decided to test this scientifically proven method of eating and write about my journey for the others to get benefited from. I start today, that is the 12th of February, with a 12 hour fasting to 12 hour eating window. I have always had little meals, which lately weren’t so little which obviously led me to gain a couple of kgs. My idea is to lose just about 3 to 4 kgs, following this way of eating, and then be able to maintain this for the rest of my life! But then again, you never know because losing and gaining weight is so much a part of the recent lifestyle, that we are prisoners of. Yet, I am confident that by Holi, when the sweaters go away, I should not feel too bad about looking in the mirror, especially since I have not exercised seriously since the smog hit Delhi.

My eating pattern would look a lot like so-

Waking up at 6.30 – 7 am to 500 ml of lemon and ginger steeped water.
By 7.30, to have a cup of coffee, that I am not too happy of having on an empty stomach, but really, I cant do with out it anyways. I don’t add any sugar or milk to it.
8 am – a brisk walk for 30 minutes, followed by some fresh veggies shopping for the day. I try to buy things, to be eaten just in that day.
9 am- I will break my fast with a bowl of fruits
By 10, a fibre -rich breakfast
1 pm, a fibre rich balanced lunch which should have all components of nutrition, including carbohydrates.
4 pm – 100 gms of fruits once again
6 pm tea and a handful of roasted Bengal gram, or chana chapta jor garam
8 pm – dinner which will not include carbohydrates, but is large portions of vegetables and lean protein.
By 9 pm, I stop eating, only to have a cup of warm cinnamon water before bed time, about `10.30 types.
By 11, I should snooze!

Now, this is wat I am going to be following, and by no means I am a nutritionist who can try devise meal charts for people apart from family. Yet, if you so wish to follow me on this journey, then please do write in a comment to encourage me to go further up on the road! But before you do, you need to know of these pointers-

  • 1.       I do this 12 hour fasting for a week, and then I would gradually increase the time to hit a ratio of 16:8 hours!
  • 2.       For the first 2 days, I will have some sort of carbohydrates in the night, and then would I try to eliminate it and see how much I feel hungry the next morning. Again, all this pattern of eating should definitely include my comfort. And so, I will take it as it goes, and write about it the next week.
  • 3.       Sugar, I can eliminate, and so I will. But I would continue having some processed stuff, especially wine, because I can’t dine without wine! And no point trying.. HIC! HIC!

So, here you go. Extremely candid confessions made. Now lets see, how we fare on this pattern of eating. Cheers!!

P.S. - no recipes this time.. 

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

PICNIC 101 - Cinnamon Rolls & Pizza, Packed!

Last week, it was raining in Gurgaon!! Rains in winter is not a rare occurrence, in fact we were waiting for it, for some time. The rain ensures the cold stays. The cold ensures we go out for picnics for all of February! And what better than equipping yourself with a versatile recipe that makes you whip up batches of all different kinds of delicacies that tastes great when hot from the oven, or cool to room temperature. And I am teaching you three variations right here and now, but really the world your pickle. Go mad and play with the dough to your heart’s desire. It’s a full proof recipe, wherein I will put across many tips and tricks to get it right always!

Majorly the recipe is very simple. All we are doing is making an all APF dough, then dividing the dough enough to get various different forms of bread. I am making ½ of the dough in a  sweet form, while the other gets a savoury taste. Now this is a basic recipe I use pretty much always to make a host of other things, like hot cross buns or fruit bread or just simple white sandwich bread loaf. Its 100 % vegetarian, and we don’t use any eggs as well. The dough is simple to put together, all you need are the following ingredients-

5 to 6 cups of Maida or All-purpose flour (APF)
500 ml of milk, lukewarm to touch
3 tsp of instant yeast
2 tsp of baking powder
2 tbsp of vinegar
3 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil

In the lukewarm milk, add honey and mix well. Now sprinkle in the yeast and let it proof for some time till it awakens and is frothy and smells a lot like bread.

In another bowl, mix 4 cups of flour with salt and baking powder. Mix and keep it aside for the yeast to get frothy.

Now mix both liquid and dry ingredients, start mixing the dough. Once you can’t see much of liquid milk left in the bowl, add the vinegar and olive oil and another cup of flour. Mix and knead till you get a nice dough which is not very sticky, but soft and supple, and springs back on touch. This is the time when you preheat the oven for 2 mins and then promptly switch it off.

Now take greased bowl, keep the ball of dough in the bowl and cover the top well with olive oil. Now take it inside the warm, but switched off oven and let it proof and come to life for 2 to 3 hours. The oven really helps in giving a warm climate for the dough to rise, in this cold winter day. And trust me, it would do better than the closed cupboard you used to use earlier. Trust me on that.

Now once the dough rises and proofs, you have a decision to make. I made half of it into cinnamon rolls and other half into a large pizza, which was good enough to feed an army of 4-year olds.

½ a stick of butter in room temperature
2 tsp of cinnamon
4 tbsp or more of brown sugar
A tsp of vanilla extract

Mix all of these together in a bowl and set it aside to marry each other.
Roll out the dough in a rectangle, which is not more than ½ of an inch thick. Now apply the paste of cinnamon and sugar as evenly as possible. And then roll the dough to form an even log. Cut the log in half and then make ½ an inch-thick marks to create beautiful cinnamon rolls. Transfer the cut rolls in a buttered oven proof dish and let it rise for 40 mins in a closed and switched off oven.

Bake the rolls in a preheated oven, at 180 degrees C, for 20 to 25 minutes, until it turns a delicious golden colour, and is cooked all the way through.

For baking it on the day of the picnic, I have a trick for u. First, the night before, you can always create the rolls, place them in a greased bowl and tightly pack it with cling film. Now without keeping it in oven for 40 minutes to proof, refrigerate it overnight. On the day of picnic, put it in a warm, yet turned off oven for 40 minutes, before baking. Bake and serve freshly made cinnamon rolls, while it is still warm. Brush the top with more melted butter, as it comes out of the oven.

Alternately, steam the buns instead of baking it, the night before. And reheat the buns slightly before packing it for picnic. Steaming these buttery cinnamon rolls provides another texture to the dish. You can even have the steamed buns cold, it would still be pillowy soft and decadent. Steam the buns in a full boil for 20 minutes, till the flour becomes translucent.


Take the other half of the dough and flatten it out on a sheet pan. Oil the pan generously so that nothing sticks. Then place the flat dough on the pan and push and pull to fit the cookie pan completely. Set it aside for resting for 30 minutes.

Assemble the pizza topping and pizza sauce. I most often then not, mix great amount of dried herbs in ketchup to make the sauce. Taste as u go.

Now apply a generous amount of sauce on the uncooked pizza dough to coat well. Cover it with cut vegetables of choice, and cover the veggies with cheese of choice. I prefer processed cheese and gruyere if I am serving the pizza cold. If I am serving it hot, straight out of the oven then I prefer fresh mozzarella and gruyere with a good sprinkle of parmigiana. But I am a cheese geek, you definitely don’t need to be. Top it with whatever cheese u have or fancy.

Bake for 25 minutes in a moderately hot pre-heated oven to have a melty gooey soft and yet so delicious pizza, which is a great cross between the bready and thin crust pizza your neighborhood
fast food place sells.

Enjoy the picnics.. Cheers!!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

PICNIC 101- Chocolaty Oats and Apples Muffins!

The sky is clean, smells crisp; the westerly winds blow into the face just the way I would have liked. Yes, I stay in the capital of India, and yes, we do get these pristine mornings, sometime. But when we do, I waste no time in getting my feisty handsome foursome out in the sun, feeling the green under his limbs. This is undoubtedly the best time in the year to be in Gurgaon. And no weekend should go without a nice picnic, out in the sun.

Now picnics could be organised in a lot of ways than one. A casual beer and wine with barbecue on the side ought to be my favourite. Followed closely by a cook-earlier-serve-later-kinds. And the potluck, ah that takes the cake! So, the series starting now should keep you covered for each picnic event that you plan with your family and friends. In fact, I would also squeeze in a fantastic romantic brunch for 2, out on the terrace, with sun brimming in. It would be a hassle free, completely cook ahead, yet hot kind of romantic brunch, that could be served with a light champagne cocktail.

But to kickstart the series, here is my go to healthy snack for kids and adults alike. This is perfect to be taken on a long drive out of home. Its filling, yet full of good things which makes sure you are on the track for the new year resolution you so solemnly took. Alternately, if you have leftovers, you can simply pack it in the tiffin boxes for your kids to take to school, during the week. It is my very tried and tested recipe for some chocolaty apple and oat muffins. This much of ingredients make 12 big muffins.

2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup of oats
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup curd, homemade works well
½ cup honey
½ cup hot water
¼ cup cocoa powder
Vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
Upto 2/3 cups of whole-wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Chocolate chips or nuts, which are optional, but highly recommended.
Trust me when I say that it can’t get any easier than this. We basically just blend everything together and bake. That is, it!!!!

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c and get that going. Line your muffin pans with paper cups and keep it ready. I at times like to spray the cups with some vegetable oil so that nothing sticks to the paper.

Now the fun begins. Get the best blender you can lay your hands on and start blending the apples, oats, jam, egg, curd and oil to a nice homogeneous paste. I used my robust Hamilton beach smoothie maker, trust me it never fails me. If you don’t have a fancy blender, then just do the blending in a mixer grinder, starting always with the oats. Make a fine powder and then add all the wet ingredients to make a paste.

While that is mixing, mix in a measuring jug ¼ cup pure unsweetened cocoa powder with hot water, stir vigorously and keep it aside to bloom. This step really helps in building a darker stronger chocolate flavour. Add the sugar to the hot mix as well, it would help dissolve the grains.

Now in a nice big bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of whole-wheat flour with baking powder, soda and salt and keep it ready. If you are adding chocolate chips or nuts, then coat the additions in flour at this stage, and keep it ready.

Just to break up the method, you have 3 separate elements of the muffins ready. You have a blended mix of oats and apples, a jug full of chocolate goodness and dry flour coated nuts and chips. Now comes the assembly.

Let the chocolate mix cool a little before adding in the vinegar and vanilla. Pour it in the blender along with the apples and oats, and blend again. Once its thoroughly mixed, pour it on the dry mix and combine well. The batter should be in a spoon dropping consistency, adjust with the extra 1/3 cup of whole-wheat flour, if the need be.

At this time, just lick the batter to taste for the sweetness. If you use tart apples, you may need to adjust sugar accordingly. But for me, the Kashmiri apples pack a lot of natural sweetness, and the half cup of honey takes care of the rest.

Now pour onto the ready muffin tin and bake for 15 -20 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the centre, comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy a scrumptious snack which is easy to carry, and yet satisfyingly moist and fluffy for a healthy bite!


Friday, 2 June 2017

The Spanish Food Book!!

I covered 3 cities in Spain. The journey started at Granada, from where we flew to an island called Mallorca. The last of our halt was in Barcelona. Granada was an interesting fusion of Muslim architecture and food, merged with Christianity. It truly was a treat to taste buds, when we tasted the eclectic mix of local food. The food in Granada was extremely local, cured and yet pretty fresh. Vegetables and meat were added together in a balanced manner, though only vegetarian options were a bit difficult to find. The tapas was out of the world delicious. Here are some of my pics of all that we did in Granada, including watching flamenco and enjoying an olive oil and wine tasting tour. 
Olive trees with flowers and young olives!!

Locally produced and cured olives, that was sold just like so in a farmer's market. This vendor also had bottles of homemade Extra Virgin Olive oil that his family made since generation. It was so less processed, almost cloudy in appearance. And the taste was strong, much stronger than anything we have ever tasted in India. The tins Behind the olives carried it. I couldn't lug it back to india as it wasn't sealed properly. These Pictures were taken in a small village, about 30 minutes of drive out of Granada.  

A Tapas Bar Decor had one of the most amazing details I have ever seen. Cured meat would welcome you which is such a smart way to store Iberian Ham in small spaces.  And obviously, there was no room for flashy chandelier, anywhere...

This is from the Olive Oil tasting that was such a great experience. We saw a medieval oil mill, now defunct; but beautifully restored. The process was simple, and required just 2 helpers and 1 donkey along with the mill owner to process 20 litres of oil per day. These blue glasses in the picture above contain Extra Virgin Olive oil, made with different varieties of olives, which were given to taste. Every glass tasted completely different to the other. The Blue color of the glass is also a very significant move. It stops the taster from noticing the colour and texture of the olive oil, and hence we start tasting with a clear mind.

 Mallorca was a delight to the seafood lover in me. I had one of the best shrimps in Mallorca. The eateries we went to were mostly run by families, where the mom cooks, dad becomes the cashier and the kids double up to be the waiters and waitresses. The yacht ride into the sea was surreal, and I actually witnessed a naked beach too... Now what else remains for me to see in this lifetime, I wonder…

The Yacht Ride into the Mediterranean Sea was surreal, and we could actually spot fishes from the yacht itself. 

Another extremely amusing thing I saw in Spain, was these citrus trees growing on the side of the roads. So pretty it looked, and no one really bothered as much as a glance when the fruit drops on the ground. Simply Wow!!

Orange Tree!!

Peach tree!!
I tasted my very first paella here, and it definitely was truly awesome!!

Barcelona made me fall in love with it. The cheap food, the cheap ingredients, tasty wholesome paella and loads and loads of shopping. We walked through the day, took metro to places and lugged back home lots of fresh hass avocadoes, big fat asparagus and cherries. Truly a gastronomic delight, we had the real truffle on our pizza, and octopus that made me fall in love with it. Iberian ham took out the trophy, though extremely funny; I actually didn’t see or have much of chorizo anywhere.  

Octopus with Spanish pimenton!

Prawns and Avocado as a Shared Tapas!

 This particular restaurant didn't really give a pretty nice paella. They gave turmeric in their dish, which is not an ingredient to add in a classic paella. 
Medium to well done burger with bread and grated tomatoes!

Iberian Ham in its fines glory!! Look at the stand!! This again was a simple tapas bar run by a family of 3. 

Fresh and Wild, rosemary!!

Thats how a cured meat shop looks. the smell is enchanting!!

But instead of buying meat, I opted to buy this little bottle of Spanish Saffron. Do you know that in Spain, the saffron is lightly roasted, as opposed to sun drying that is followed elsewhere. 

Snacking on berries while we walk through the streets!!

Shopping in Barcelona consisted of these little smoke dried chillies, paella pan, Bomba Rice Avocados, Asparagus, berries etc. 

And saving the best for the last, do you think i would have let you go without a proper sip of Spanish Sangaria? Hell no!!


A Spanish Look Book!!

I am an out an out foodie, and at times I embark on the journey of understanding food in regions that isn’t home to me. Spain has been one such journey wherein it was a delight to walk around the streets, trying simple local delicacies, which were spicy and tasty to the Indian taste buds. But before I talk about food, let’s greet our eyes to the beauty of Spain through my Mobile phone. It is such a picturesque country set on the Mediterranean sea. Beautiful roads, alleys, old buildings, churches and olive trees. Citrus and olives grow like wild weed in this country. It is one of the largest producer of olive oil in the world, and it grows a lot of citrus too. Anyways, here goes some of my gems, captured through my NEXUS.

When the kids Rejoice!! 
And you wake up at 6 am to witness the pretty Sun Rise. The sun set happend at 9 pm. 

When you take an yacht to the sea, and the water is so pure.

Can it get Prettier than this?

Barcelona's Random Street!!

The pointing man, the sun, the aeroplane, all in one frame!

Alice in wonderland?

The church which took 100 years to be made.

The stone carving that was made in 1901.

Lavender flowrrs and olive trees cover this little alley!

And that my friend is how olives are grown. The windmills in far end of the road helps generate electricity to fuel the oil extracting factories. Olives are one of the biggest crops grown in Spain, and it travels in the family for more than thousand years. Spaniards say- you buy a vineyard for your son, and an olive plantation for your grandson!
The Tapas and Paella pictures are following soon!! Cheers!! 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Maida 101 with my famous Bitter Orange Cake!!

All-purpose flour has been given a bad name since long. Let’s get to the bottom of it, as I am a known cynic, and I never take a fact in without proper due diligence. And this is my corner in the internet where I will write about all I feel. So with your love of pointers, here I go-
  • Refined flour is basically a product of wheat kernels that has been pulverised in machines for a long time, and bleached to attain a pure white colour. In the process we actually strip down most of its health benefits, fibres and vitamins. What we are left with has a certain amount of protein, in the form of gluten; and starch.
  • Soft pillow-y structure of a bread made with maida makes it extremely easy to chew and digest, and hence it has a tendency of being over consumed. The lack of fibres too doesn’t help. Fibres give us the feeling of being full, no fibres- no signal; and you end up eating double the amount required.
  •  This is the main cause behind vilification of refined flour, it is so light that you over eat and gain empty calories for your body to store as fat. Fat deposits leads to major health problems in the long run.
  • Obviously whole wheat flour which is milled in front of your eyes is a healthier option than maida; but in moderation usage of maida won’t harm us at all.

Today, I am healthifying my cake by adding full orange with skin in it, which would add the much needed fibres back in the cake. Try it once, and you would become a fan of this cake, as has my family! Cheers!!
1 cup all-purpose flour/maida
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
A handful of chocolate buttons
3 eggs
3 small size oranges, cut as shown in the video
½ cup of oil, I used light olive oil
1 cup sugar
Few drops of vanilla essence or ½ tsp of vanilla paste

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

2 Ingredient Challenge with Makha Shondesh!!

Makha Shondesh/Sandesh is basically a grandma staple from Bengali kitchens that got lost in the race to become modern. It’s an extremely easy recipe, involving just 2 ingredients, and no fuss or elbow grease. I am sure it takes less time than your microwaveable cakes, it contains less calories than those mug cakes and has better nutrition than any pastry or cakes at all. So I bring to you all lovely people, a simple dish, which is as delectable as bongs themselves.


200 Gms paneer or cottage cheese.
2 to 3 Tbsp. of melted date or palm jaggery. In fact a friend pointed out date syrup, and even that works for this.
A mixer grinder
A splash of milk
A pinch of salt.
I bet you already have all these ingredients in home. Just whizz it up and believe me, you would just thank me for it. CHEEERS!!


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Facebook live with Veggie Smileys!!

This week, we made my toddler’s favourite snack- smileys. For any mother the above plate is blasphemous and she would cringe at the thought of giving this to her toddler to eat for Sunday lunch. But believe it or not, I did give this to my toddler on Sunday, and yet we were a happy duo. He was happy because he loves to have tasty finger food. I was happy because each and every component was made at home, and provided a balance nutrition to my child. The fish fingers were marinated and coated in a bread crumb mixture at home, and then stored in freezer bags. Sometimes I deep fry them, and sometimes I bake them. In any case it provides a healthy protein in my fussy toddler’s plate.

The smileys in question had carrots, green leaves and potatoes together. It was extremely tasty and my toddler finished all of these on Sunday. I saw he enjoyed feeding himself at intervals. I kept these neatly stacked in a see through glass jar. He would play, and come to grab one from the jar, eat as a snack, and back to his cars to play. It’s a sheer joy to see him feed himself, and it’s a nice feeling to be away from the chore of mandatorily sitting to feed him a meal. I let him enjoy his day, his way. And that let us both enjoy the holiday a bit better!!

I have posted the videos on my YouTube channel as well as on my FB page. Please feel free to like comment and share! Cheers!!


2 medium carrot and 2 medium potatoes boiled and smashed to bits
Salt to taste
1 cup Cornflour, to make a dough
Pepper to taste
Flavourings fresh or dried herbs to taste- I used chopped leaves of parsley, onion and garlic from my garden.
1 tbsp of oil

Tools required

A rolling pin to evenly roll out the dough
A chopstick with a round bottom to make eyes of the smileys
A round cookie cutter, or a jar lid.
A table spoon to make the smile.


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