Wordless Wednesday – 347


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Travel Tales – Of Wild fruits and Pink Lotuses


Recently I took a short weekend trip to the mountains. The idea was to simply get away from the scorching heat and the pressures of city life. After a lot of research we settled for Bhimtal, Uttarakhand and we took off early morning in a friend’s car. Summer is a bad time to visit any of these tourist destinations and I would have preferred a quieter offbeat place at this time but the time constraint and other factors made it impossible. So, as it is with every road trip there were old songs and conversations, reminiscence of  good ol’ days and dhaba food as we drove to our destination.

We made our first stop at Gajraula for a late breakfast or rather brunch of Hot aalu parathas, curd, pickle and kulhar tea. The place had good washrooms as the huge signboard declared. You can read about the entire route in my previous post HERE . We again stopped for tea at New Amritsariyan Da Dhaba just for sentimental reasons. The place isn’t the same since the old sardar ji passed away. One can see the next generation halfheartedly carrying out their duty. Though the food is still better than many places. The dhaba is very close to Rudrapur.

We reached Bhintal late in the afternoon but the Airbnb homestay we had booked took away all our tiredness.

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This property owned by Sanjay and Ekta is nestled among the Pine, Oak and a few fruit trees very close to the lake. They started this venture for the love of travel and food last year.  I had booked The Woods on a recommendation from a FB friend Kalyani Mirajkar who runs a beautiful eco-friendly Bhimtal Birdsong Cafe just a little further away down the road.

The two member staff was exceptionally helpful and immediately arranged for some lip smacking homely food for us even though we had reached past the lunch time. Good food always wins my heart.  Himanshu needs special mention for this and for guiding us about local places. Despite heavy rain and other demands we always found him smiling and eager to help. The property had all the amenities and the beautiful deck overlooked the lake. It was raining and I found the setting extremely beautiful as we sipped our excellent chai and munched on hot bhajias. We could see the lake from our room window too. 

The rain drenched Bhimtal lake

The approach road is slightly steep but in good condition. We were given clear directions by the owner who was very gracious and helpful at all times.

I also visited Kalyani’s Birdsong cafe but unfortunately could not eat the fantastic Kumaoni thali the cafe offers among other things. The little cafe is tastefully done and is surrounded by pear trees. She also grows some vegetables and one can always see the place full of seasonal flowers. I recommend both these places to everyone travelling to Bhimtal. 

Another gorgeous property is The Retreat owned by Paddy Smetacek. It was booked when we contacted Paddy but she was extremely helpful and I totally love the work she and her family are doing there for local women and environment apart from running such a lovely place.

Let me completely the food story before coming to the two lovely surprises that awaited me.

On our way to Sattal we stopped at I Heart Cafe Himalayas. It was wonderful to meet Liz again and savor the delicacies she and her team makes. I will do a separate post on it in a few days. Don’t miss the place in Mehra Estate on Bhowali Road if you are in that area. The cafe is what I would have loved to owned in a quaint hill station.

You can read about the three lakes of this area in my post HERE. Not much had changed since we came here two years ago except that the otherwise quiet Naukuchiatal had a lot of water activities going on this time. It was a real heartbreak to see these beautiful places slowly losing their natural charm to these touristy activities. Sattal had already succumb to huge crowds, noise and eateries that have mushroomed at the lakeside.

 

What caught my eyes were local vendors selling the summer fruits. I was elated to see kafal, hisalu, small local yellow and orange apricots, the tiny babbugoshas (a pear variety), peaches and the deliciously juicy plums. Some other wild fruits that I remember from the past are bedu, ghigharu, kirmoli etc. but one doesn’t see much of them these days.

While the others enjoyed the scenic view of the lake waters I decided to gorge on these.

The Kumaon and Garhwal region of  Uttarakhand are known for these awesome local wild fruits. Many of them have medicinal values too.

The sweet and sour Kafal or Kaafal is called Bayberry in English and is a drupe. Considered as the king of wild fruits in Uttaranchal it matures in month of April to June. Kafal resembles the raspberry but has a big seed and thin layer of flesh. Mostly its eaten with rock salt and red chilly. We also make sharbat from them just like the phalsa sharbat. Slightly acidic in taste it has a high amount of Vitamin C. Mostly the fruit is grown between the altitude of 100-2000 meters above the sea level  in the foothills of Himalayas and has a very short shelf life. It also indicates the change of season. In local kumaoni language this fruit is called kaafo and is celebrated with beautiful songs and stories unlike any other in the region. The vendor was selling 10/- a cone and I saw many kids happily sucking on them near the lake. I ate them after a gap of many years so it was a real treat. I came to know that it is also found in Nepal. A poet friend from Shillong told me it’s called Soh phi in the Khasi Hills.

I was telling the couple friend we had gone with about these fruits and wondered if we would be lucky enough to savor the other fruits too and we were. At Sattal I saw some vendors selling Hisalu. I had not seen them since so long. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes as the season for these berries was about to end. I bought a few cones to relive the memories of those simple pleasures of my youth.

 

Soft and tangy Hisalu is also known as the Golden Himalayan raspberry or the yellow Himalayan Raspberry. These are the actual “Organic” fruits. Straight from the trees. These little berries used to be the source of energy to the travelers going uphill in olden days. The fruit is juicy and very flavorful. It is difficult to describe its taste as it unique to the berry. People make jam from it just like the raspberries. It usually ripens from in March-April and perishes very quickly after being plucked. An old friend from Rawalpindi told me that he found some of these fruits during an off track hike on Margallah hills a few years ago. So many stories came up when I shared the pix earlier on FB and Instagram.

I also happily snacked on the locally grown small and juicy plums, apricots and peaches. I saw a few fruit laden trees in the villages but we were on the move so couldn’t take photographs.

The Woods, where we were staying, had pear trees but the fruits were yet to ripen.

A monkey brigade one day decided to indulge themselves on the deck facing the lake and the staff had to drive them off with sticks. Unafraid these moneys have become a menace since the langoor money population has dwindled. The two don’t see eye to eye.

There was a Timla (Ficus auriculata) also called Elephant fig or wild fig tree right opposite the property but the fruit was unripe too. Timla produces a unique fruit which is actually an inverted flower. It is an important fruit in the hills and has medicinal benefits too.

The I Heart Cafe had a Lychee trees along with pomegranate, figs, pear, guava, apples etc.

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I saw some unripe lychees on the magnificent that looking tree in one corner and couldn’t resist to click a photograph. There were also some gorgeous Hydrangeas spreading a riot of colors in their soothing green back garden. Here’s a favorite

The other juicy treat were the tiny babbugosha pears we picked from the local hawkers. Absolutely divine in taste. One can never eat enough of these luscious fruits.

A friend who was visiting Sattal at the same time managed to get hold of these very rare berries. I asked around for some information about them but couldn’t find any.

I had eaten these way back and never bothered to ask the name. Paddy Smetacek told me that these are quite rare Gyuwaaien which used to grow in her forest but disappeared from there. She is trying to grow them again. I have used this photograph with permission from Nandini Rathore. Both the photographs ( one here and the other in the link) are credited rightfully to her.

After a long research via FB, Google search and WhatsApp to experts I found that this particular berry is indeed Giwain in local vernacular. It’s botanical name is Elaeagnus angustifolia Linn. The berry has many medicinal benefits and the carotenoid, lycopene content in these is sometimes seven to seventeen times higher than that of tomatoes. It is known for its anti inflammatory, analgesic,antimutagenic and antioxidant properties.

It is also known as Russian olive or Japanese Olive as someone mentioned. It is a shrub found in mid hills. The fruit is eaten raw or ripe.

As if the joy of relishing these fruits wasn’t enough. To my surprise Kamal Tal or the Lotus Pond was flooded with pink water lilies or gulabi kamal. The sight was breathtaking.

On our last visit the taal was in bad condition but this time it looked clean and well maintained. The boat we saw last time had sunk in the midst of lily pads. You can see its edges in the photograph.

Kamal taal is located in one corner of the Naukuchiatal. Enjoy some of the photographs from there. Some people compare them to the lotuses that bloom in Mansarovar lake. It seemed like Monet’s painting The Lily Pad. The photographs don’t really do justice as I have a not so good phone camera.

We had a plan to visit some other places beyond these lakes but due to heavy tourist inflow, traffic snarls, rain and a fair at the Kainchi Dham we decided to return early.

As we still had a whole day to us we decided to take the longer yet scenic route via Corbett National Park ( Corbett Tiger Reserve). We stopped at the Corbett Museum and spent some time remembering the childhood favorite, the legendary hunter turned environmentalist Jim Corbett. The museum was one of his homes. The other one is in Nainital. Beautifully located in Kaladungi, Choti Haldwani it is surrounded by a lush green compound that has a souvenir shop in one corner near the entrance. I will do a separate post about this place.

The heat of summer was catching up as we hit the plains so after lingering for a while we headed back to Delhi via Bazpur, Kasipur – Moradabad route. We stopped at Bazpur, Udhampur for a delicious meal at  Gill Brother Dhaba. This is a longer route but has less traffic and is scenic too.

There were some things that got left undone. Perhaps I may plan to trip again when the trees get laden with apples and the sunsets become more breathtaking over the snow clad mountains. Some time needs to be spent with a few friends who live in this region and in the next trip I just night do it

For now I am back in Delhi and the grind of daily life in the city where summer has taken a permanent refuge. My eyes are glued to the skies for the monsoon rains.

Meanwhile I am painting with water colors and other stuff to add some color to the mundane gray that is lingering like mist somewhere between the seen and unseen.

I have some poetry news and other things to share too. Stay tuned.

 

 

Peach Lemonade & Peach Iced Tea


 

I love fruit iced teas and make a lot of variations. Any over ripe or bruised fruit goes into these delicious summer drinks. We sometimes make fruity cocktails too.

Years ago on one hot summer day after being knackered by housework and my crazy kids I just mashed one of the overripe peaches and added it to a big glass of chilled lemonade (not the usual shikanji with kala namak etc. This was sweet one). No one was willing to eat this orphaned peach and I wasn’t in mood for iced tea.

The lemonade tasted different and nice but not what I was looking for.  Many days later while making peach compote I added the warm sugary muddled peach pulp to the lemonade. It turned out absolutely divine and thus began my love for fruity lemonades. I then experimented with many fruits and till now these remain my favorite over the plain lemonade. Who said lemonades were only about lemons.

I had added sugar to that one but later I didn’t feel the need or the urge to sweeten the drink with added sugar. As I often used organic honey to make the lemonade. Adding it to the simply muddled warm peaches seemed a good idea. I evolved the recipe and made it differently many times with ginger and mint, with basil, with vodka and gin, with sugar instead of honey, blended or with chucks of peaches in it. I even froze lemonade in ice cube trays with soft peach pulp in it and added those to the pitcher. Sometimes adding the preferred alcohol to it.  Each tasted differently. My favorite is with soft muddled peach pulp along with some peach and lemon wedges. Simple and refreshing. Too many flavors mar the drink.

Here’s how I made it. There are two ways to do it and I will tell you both.

Ingredients :

2-3 large ripe juicy peaches

4 cups water

1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 inch Fresh Ginger Slice (crushed)

Few Fresh mint leaves muddled

2-3 tablespoon Organic Honey

Peach slices and lemon wedges to add to lemonade and to garnish

Steps – 

Method 1 :

Wash and cut the peaches in small pieces with the skin on. Discard the stone.

In a pan add those pieces and simmer on medium flame stirring constantly. When they become soft lightly press them gently with the back of the spoon and take them out in a bowl. Once they cool add honey and mix well. Keep the mix in the fridge for chilling.

Meanwhile, make lemonade by mixing lemon juice, ginger, mint and cold water.

Add the chilled peach pulp to the lemonade and throw in some slender peach slices and lemon wedges.

Keep the lemonade in fridge so it chills well. I avoid adding ice for it dilutes the drink. Sometimes I make ice cubes from the same lemonade and add those.

You can put it in the freezer for sometime and then crush it to make the drink super chilled. Spoon in some peach pulp in the glasses when you serve. You can make it as a slushie too.

You can keep the peach pulp for a day more in case you wish to make peach iced tea like I did.

There was some cold brew iced tea remaining from day before and added some of the pulp to that. I let it seep in the fridge while enjoying my peach lemonade. The resting gave a nice flavor to the tea and we had it later in the day.

Method 2 :

In a bowl add peach pieces and sugar. Mix and let it sit for some time. Heat a thick bottom pan and add the peach sugar mix. Keep the flame medium low and stir till the mixture becomes pulpy. Remove from heat and cool. Blend it in a mixer or blender and add to the lemonade. You can also bring to boil peaches, sugar and little water then cool and blend. Add this mix to a pitcher of cold water, add lemon juice , muddled mint etc and serve chilled. Use two cups of water for the peach syrup and two cups to add later in the pitcher.

As I use honey I don’t boil the water but warming the peaches brings out some nice flavors.

For the tea I sometimes just roughly chop the peaches and tip into the cold brew tea. Sometimes I make the tea by adding hot water (not boiling) over tea leaves and then straining it to desired strength. I chill it and add the peach pulp, lemon juice, lemon wedges, peach slices to it.

See, how many different way are there to enjoy this fantastic homemade summer drink.

Do try the Peach lemonade and / or the peach Iced Tea and you’ll see how refreshing and amazing it is. You’ll never go for the synthetic one again.

Spiking 1 liter of lemonade  or Iced tea with 60-80 ml of alcohol is good way to make a tipsy version. It depends on your taste. I add a little less vodka than peach schnapps when making the alcohol version. These are my preferred choices but you can add whiskey or gin too. A good peach vodka goes well with both the iced tea and the lemonade.

Do let me know if you make any of the the two.

Cold Brew Iced Tea With Plum and Basil


 

Iced teas and coffees are simple summertime pleasures. I make a variety of Iced teas and Tisane every summer. You can find some recipes HERE. These are not cold brews though.

I am very fond of cold brewing as it is a gentler and slower and selective process of brewing than the hot brew and the subtle flavors of the tea leaves come out very well. I find them less acidic too. Another one is the Sun brewing where you keep the tea infusion outside in the sun and let the heat help in steeping. I have noticed that both ways the taste is different. Even the traditional hot brews and cold brews are chemically different from each other and taste different so do not compare them, instead enjoy them as different drinks.

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Cold Brew

For those of you who are not familiar with cold brew let me tell you how it is done. You take a tumbler, add tea leaves of your choice, add water, spices and herbs if desired and let it brew for 6-8 hours. The amount and quality of leaves and the time for steeping depends on which tea you are using and what strength you desire. Sometimes I use the infused leaves 3-4 times, enjoying the different consistency of flavors. At times I brew for 1-2 hours and it’s good to go.

You will have a lot of leeway when it comes to the proportions but I use the standard 4 tsp/1 liter ratio. Adding or reducing as per requirement. I usually steep the tea for 6-8 overs or overnight. Remember that you will need more tea leaves than you will need for a hot brew.

You can add spices like all spice, clove, cinnamon, star anise etc and herbs like lemon grass, mint, basil, thyme sprigs or rosemary sprigs to the infusion. I do them with fruits too. Peaches, plums, nectarines, kokum, mango, lemon, orange, various berries work beautifully with them. There are endless combinations you can explore.

You can freeze these teas to makes gorgeous slushies too and be adventurous to add some Vodka, Gin, Bourbon etc.

I recently went to the hills and got some lovely hand plucked small variety of plums.  Here’s how I made the Plum and Holy Basil infused Iced Tea with them

Unlike the usual way of  masticating plums with sugar or making a syrup with plums I prefer fresh fruit tipped into the iced tea. I also use the pulp of over ripe plums to add extra flavor.

Overripe and bruised plums work best with this tea and you can add a few slightly ripe but firm sour ones too.

Ingredients: 

4 tbsp Darjeeling Black Tea leaves or tea leaves of your choice

6 -8 Medium size Ripe Plums

2 tbsp Organic raw honey (optional)

1 liter water

1 tsp Lemon Juice

Lemon wedges

Few leaves of Holy Basil

Steps : 

Take 6 of the plums and remove all the pulp in a bowl. Discard the stone or pit. Add honey to the pulp and mix. Keep it in the fridge.

In a pitcher or tumbler add the tea leaves and basil leaves then top them with drinking water. Close the lid and let it seep overnight or for 6-8 hours.

When making the plum iced tea, strain the tea in a glass pitcher and add the pulp to it. Mix nicely. Test for sweetness. I prefer the fruity sweetness and don’t add too much of honey. I don’t use sugar but you can make a simple sugar syrup and add if needed. You can also mix a little hot water and honey to mix instead of mixing it in the fruit pulp. I like it that way,

Add lots of ice and slender wedges of plum along with lemon wedges. You can add a few plum and lemon wedges to the tea while brewing too. It gives an even more intense flavor. Before straining the tea leaves just take them out and add to the strained tea.

Use the tea leaves again if desired. I use this twice.  The green tea leaves I use at least 3 times.

Pour the tea in tall glasses with plum and lemon slices and the basil leaves. Keep a stirrer in each glass. You would love the deep dark plum slices and the soothing green basil leaves floating in the ruby red liquid.

Sip this delicious and refreshing fruity iced tea to battle the summer heat.

You can also freeze some of the Plum iced tea in ice cube tray and add that instead of normal ice cubes.

I froze some of the iced tea to make a super delicious slushie with intense flavors. Do try that too. I’m not a big fan of sorbet but you can go ahead and make that too.

Make these delicious fruity Iced teas this summer to stay hydrated the healthy, flavorful way.

Do leave a note if you make this.

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 6 – दिल्ली ६


आज युहीं पुरानी दिल्ली की उन जानी अनजानी
तंग गलियों में लौट जाने का मन हुआ
गलियां ऐसी की लखनऊ की भुलभुलैया
फीकी पड़ जाये, चांदनी चौक मेट्रो स्टेशन
से उतर हम भी हो लिए लोगों के उमड़ते
हुजूम के साथ, नयी दिल्ली का नक्शा
चाहे बदल गया हो यहाँ कुछ नहीं बदला
नूर से नहायी सहरी की सुबहें, इफ्तार
की पाकीज़ा शामें और जामा मस्जिद की
सीढ़ियों पे रेकॉर्डतोड़ गर्मी से बेपरवाह,
बेफ़िक़्र खेलते नन्हे रोज़दार जिन्हें
इंतज़ार है तो बसआने वाली ईद का
आसमां पे वही ढलते सूरज की लाली,
शाम ए इफ्तार की रंगत में सराबोर
बाज़ार, ख़ुशी से दमकते चेहरे,
मस्जिद से आती आज़ान की गूँज
दरगाह हज़रत सरमद शहीद
की जाली से बंधे लाल धागे में
लिपटी एक बाली और इबादत
की रौशनी से गुलज़ार मेरा मन
आज भी उर्दू बाज़ार से मटिआ महल
और चितली क़बर से हवेली आज़म खान
तक सिवइयों की खुशबू से महकती दुकानें
याद दिलाती हैं दोस्तों की वो अड्डेबाज़ी,
वो लौंग चुरी कबाब और कालना स्वीट्स
की पनीर जलेबी, वो लज़ीज़ निहारी कुलचे,
हाजी मोहम्मद अनवर की मिर्च मसाला बिरयानी,
कूल पॉइंट का शाही टुकड़ाऔर नवाब कुरैशी
का प्यार मोहब्बत मज़ा, वो तुम्हारा नज़रें बचा
फतेहपुरी मस्जिद से निकलना और तुम्हारे
इत्र की खुशबु से मेरी सांसों का महक जाना
मेरा तुम्हें चुपके से बालियाँ थमाना ओर
इसी बहाने तुम्हारे नाज़ुक हाथों का
छू जाना, गुड़ के शरबत सी मीठी
तुम्हारी हंसी, चूड़ियों की वो खनखनाहट
और चाट के तीखे मीठे सकोरों के बीच
कभी यूँही शरमा कर तुम्हारा मेरी बांहों में सिमट जाना
और ऐन मौके पर अशरफ चचा का बिज़ी हो जाना
जुगनुओं सी चमकती रात में जब हम आखिर जुदा होते
तो चचा अक्सर पैसे लेना भूल जाते, तुम नक़ाब ओढ़ना
और मैं घर का रस्ता भूल जाता
अब न तुम हो न फुर्सत के वो दिन रात है
और न ही वो दोस्त और न ही चचा जान
पर आज भी मैं शाहजानाबाद की इन रंगीनियों में
खिंचा चला आता हूँऔर यादों की मश्क़
कंधे पे उठाये यूँही हर नुक्कड़,
हर दर ओ दरवाज़े, हर झरोखे में

बस तुम्हें ढूढ़ता हूँ

इस कविता के बारे में कुछ कहना चाहूंगी | जयश्री शुक्ला से हमारी जानपहचान फेसबुक से हुई और ठोस ही समय में हम अच्छे दोस्त बन गए | जयश्री लाजवाब तस्वीरें खींचती हैं जो दिल्ली के हर रूप हर देखे अनदेखे पहलु से हमें रूबरू कराती हैं | आप उन्हें इंस्टाग्राम पर फॉलो कर सकते हैं. रमज़ान के इस पाक महीने में उनकी तस्वीरें देख मन उन्ही शाहजहानाबाद के गली कूचों में खो गया और कुछ यादें ताज़ा हो गयीं | कुछ फेर बदल कर इस कविता में हमने उन्हें ही संजोया है | इस इंस्पिरेशन के लिए जयश्री का तहे दिल से शुक्रिया |
अमिताभ मित्रा भी ऐसे ही हमारे एक कवी दोस्त हैं. पेशे से डॉक्टर हैं पर क्या खूब पेंटिंग करते हैं| कभी रंगों से तो कभी शब्दों से | कविता की दो लाइनें उनके एक अंग्रेजी कविता से प्रेरित हैं. तो उनका भी बहुत शुक्रिया |

Musk Melon & Lemon Sorbet


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I love melons of all sorts be it honeydew, cantaloupe or musk melons. Summer is bearable because of all the awesome stone fruits and melons and watermelons one gets. I love to binge on them and make slushy, sorbets, smoothies, FroYos, ice creams, Granitas etc. Add a little booze for the adult versions and you just can’t go wrong with them.

Stone fruits are another love. You can do so much with them.  This three ingredient sorbet is a favorite. I make it with the Honeydew melon too. The frozen melons /cantaloupes taste less sweet so if you are looking for an authentic sorbet taste so you need to add the sugar syrup or powdered sugar or honey as per your taste. It also given the sorbet like texture otherwise the blended frozen fruit may seem bland.

This no dairy alternative to ice cream is fabulous so do give it a try.

Ingredients :

Musk Melon /Cantaloupe / honey dew Melons –  1 Cup ( 1 medium fruit cubed)

Pure Honey – As required (2-3 Tbsp approx. )

Fresh Lemon Juice – 1 Tbsp

Lemon zest – 1/4 tsp

2-3 Tbsp water ( as required)

Steps – 

Wash and cut the melon into half. Scoop out the fleshy seeds and then cut it into slices. Chop it further into equal size cubes.

In a tray place parchment paper and arrange the melon pieces on it. Keep enough distance so that it doesn’t become a big frozen blob. Let it freeze for 3-4 hours or till frozen completely.

In a food processor or blender jar put these frozen melon pieces and churn till the fruit becomes a crumbly mix. Keep scraping the sides to ensure uniform blending.

Add lemon juice, lemon zest, honey and water to the mix and pulse again. Add a little more water so it gets blended properly but don’t turn it into a slush.

Taste to see the sweetness. Add a little more honey if required then pulse again till you a get a sorbet like texture.

Serve immediately or freeze in a freezer friendly container for an hour or so to get the firm texture.  You may pluck it with fork  or spoon after 30 minutes of so to make sure that there are no icicles. High water content makes it a tad bit difficult to handle but the end result is awesome.

Tip – 

To choose a good melon look for these signs.

There should be no bruises, cracks, soft spots etc. The fruit should feel heavy and the color of the skin should be yellow or golden in case of musk melons. Tap it with your hand, it should sound hollow. The fruit must have that sweet fragrance so go ahead and smell it.

A good fruit will ensure a good sorbet.

Note –

You can add powdered sugar or Boora cheeni to the sorbet instead of honey but I have noticed that adding honey helps in non crystallization of water so no icicles 🙂

To make the slushy you just need to blend the fruit till it becomes a slushy by adding the right amount of water.  Basil and mint go well in these sorbets and slushy.

I have stored this sorbet for two weeks in the freezer and it worked for me.

Add a little gin or vodka for that boozy taste.

Bring the summer in a bowl to your table and let me know if you liked this recipe.

2 Ingredient Banana and Dates Ice cream


A lot of my friends asked me about these one/two or three ingredient ice creams made without the ice cream maker. I have some recipes already on my blog which you can find through the search bar. Here is the link to the basic one ingredient banana ice cream. You can make many variations of this by adding chocolate, Nutella, mango, dates, vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, almond butter.. Think more and be creative. There is no dairy in these but you can make with sweetened condense milk and cinnamon too.

Bananas, especially overripe ones are terrific for these ice-creams.  Frozen fresh bananas make for such a fantastic  rich and creamy custard like ice cream which you can eat as soft serve or freeze it more to make solid ice cream.

The sweetness of bananas and dates means no added sugar but adding a little honey ensures that there won’t be any ice crystals when you freeze the ice cream.

These fruity ice creams are dairy free, vegan, egg free, gluten free and very delicious. Don’t worry if you do not have those gorgeous food props or ice cream scooper and other such kitchen gadgets. You can still make this and relish.

For the dates banana ice cream you will need

Ingredients : (serves one) 

Ripe Bananas – 2 ( look for those brown spots on the skin)

Dates ( Medjool) – 5-6

Honey / Sticky date syrup – for topping ( optional)

Steps – 

Slice and line the banana pieces on a plate covered with parchment paper. Make sure the pieces do not touch each other. Freeze for 4-5 hours or overnight. I often put them in zip lock bags and freeze in advance.

Soak the dates in two tbsp of water after removing the seed. Once soft you may discard the flake dry top skin if any. Put it in freezer too.

To make the ice cream take a good food processor or a good blender. Put the frozen pieces of banana and the dates in the jar and give it some good churns. Scrape the sides of the jar to ensure smooth blending. This may require some patience so go ahead and blend till you get a soft serve custard like consistency. If you want to make a firm scoop ice cream then add a teaspoon of honey at this stage otherwise there is no need. I used it for topping.

Once you get he thick creamy rich texture you can scoop it out into a bowl and eat it as it is or spoon it in a freezer proof container and freeze for an hour.  Take it out and mix it with a spoon then put it back for freezing.

Once it is uniformly frozen scoop it out in a bowl and drizzle with sticky date syrup/honey or any of your favorite topping. It tastes delicious without any topping too.

This summer give these ice creams a try and let me know how you found them.

Single Serve 2 Minute Microwave Fruity Bread Puddings


Bread pudding variations are my go to comfort food. I have a few recipes already on the blog and you can check them here – Pudding in a mug , caramelized bread pudding , citrus bread pudding  etc.

Many of my friends asked for the instant Cherry upside down and the banana upside down bread puddings I made in the microwave. These are perfect when you crave for something wholesome and sweet at an unearthly hour. It takes 2-3 minutes to prepare these and trust me they’re addictive.

There is no rocket science in making these puddings and you can do variations as per your liking. You can use fruit of your choice, add seeds, nuts, dates, chocolate or Nutella, whiskey or rum or just have the pudding warm and plain.

Preferably use a thick one day old bread. Challah, French loaf, Brioche are the recommended breads for French toasts and bread puddings but for these the usual white bread too works well. I have made these Puddings with Bishop Nut bread too. I love the chewy texture of baguette too but it needs extra soaking to soften it. Use what’s available. I do not trim the edges. They add to the texture of the pudding.

Use the sign of the pudding crawl out up to  at least 1/2 inch  outside the mug to know the dish is done perfectly.

Never be afraid to fill the mug till top and things settle down a lot once the bread soaks the liquid. I fill the usual coffee mug a little above 3/4.

Do adjust the cooking time according to your microwave type and bread type. Usually for me it takes about 2 -3 minutes.

Use wide mugs if possible bu taller ones also work fine.

You can keep the sugar to the minimum and utilize the sweetness of fruit. Also, one can use organic honey. I try to minimize the sugar usage.

This was a rushed coking spree so please excuse the photograph. Will replace with a good one when I make it next.

Here’s how I made them :

Upside down Warm Cherry Bread Pudding 

Ingredients :

Pitted fresh cherries – 8-10

One day old bread – 2 thick slices

Milk ( preferably full fat with top cream) – 1/4 cup

Bourbon or any Whiskey – 2 tablespoon

Raisins – 8-10

Sugar ( white/brown) – 2 tbsp

Salted Butter – 1 tbsp

Pinch of cinnamon powder

Pinch of nutmeg powder

Pure vanilla extract or vanilla essence –   2-3 drops

Steps – 

Soak the cherries and the raisins in Whiskey and keep aside

Nicely toast two slices of bread . It compensates for the browning you get if oven baked)

Apply butter on one side and then break it into bite size pieces or cut into squares.

In the bowl you will use for making the pudding, arrange the cherries and then place the bread pieces. Add the raisins in between.

In another bowl mix sugar, spices, vanilla and the remaining whiskey and then pour this mixture over the bread pieces.

Press it gently and let it rest for 5 minutes for the bread to soak up the milk.

Place the bowl on the center of microwave plate and let it cook for 2 minutes on high power. Check by pressing the spoon gently. If there is still a lot of liquid then give it another minute or take it out on the counter.

Place a plate on top of the bowl and turn upside down to release the pudding.

Have warm of cold as per your liking.

You can mix everything and make this pudding in a mug too. I made this one in bowl with no added sugar as the black cherries from FarmerUncle were super delicious and sweet as honey. These are chemical residue free cherries. I added Amul Venezuela Ebony Twist chocolate pieces too for added indulgence.

Caramelized Banana Upside down Bread Pudding 

Ingredients : 

Ripe yet firm banana – 1 large

Full fat milk with top cream – 1/3 cup

Dark Rum ( Old Monk) – 2 tbsp

Raisins – 10-15

Sugar ( brown/white) – 2 tbsp

water – 2 tbsp

Bread Slices – 2

Vanilla extract or essence ( optional) – 1-2 drops

Cinnamon _ nutmeg powder – a pinch ( optional)

 Steps- 

In a bowl soak the raisins in rum and keep aside.

In a non stick skillet or sauce pan add sugar, let it simmer over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, gently swirling the pan but not stirring, until amber.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in a tsp of butter.

Cut the banana into small rounds and place them neatly in the caramel. Put it back on low heat and let them turn golden from both sides. Take the pan off the heat.

Carefully arrange the banana slices in the bowl in which you will make the pudding.

Toast and butter the bread and then make small pieces of it. layer the raisins and bread pieces over the banana slices.

In a bowl whisk milk, vanilla and spices. Pour the mixture over the bread pieces. adding the leftover caramel and rum in between.

Let it soak for 10 minutes. Gently press with spoon so that the upper layer also gets soaked properly.

Keep the bowl in microwave and cook for 2 minutes as per the make of your microwave. If there is still some milk left you can give a 1 minute run again.

Let it rest for a minute then place a place on top of the bowl to turn the pudding upside down.

These puddings are a little soft and not too dry. Keep that in mind. You can make them with egg too like normal basic bread pudding but I find adding one egg a bit too much for a bowl or mug so avoid.

Serve warm of cold. I prefer to have it warm. The salted butter gives it the taste of salted caramel which is divine.

Here is one in a mug that has layers of banana, raisins, walnuts and bread. I topped it with sticky date syrup so no white sugar in this one.

I hope you will try one of these and let me know if you liked them.


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एक शहर ये भी – कविता 5 – महरौली


 

 

बचपन में दिल्ली रिज पे रत्ती बटोरा करते थे
कॉलेज में दोस्तों का हाथ थामे किसी टूटी मुंडेर पे बैठे
क़ुतुब मीनार को ताकते या आवारगी के आलम में
युहीं फिरा करते, कीकर, बबूल,बिलाङ्गड़ा, पिलखन
के दरख्तों और जंगली झाड़ियों के बीच
हज़ारों बरसों की यादों को सहेजे मेहरौली की
संकरी गलियाँ, दरगाह, बावड़ी, मस्जिदें और मक़बरे
हमें शहर के शोरशराबे से दूर सुकूं का अहसास दिलाते,
आज फिर सोहनलाल की खस्ता कचौरी खाने निकले तो मन
रबड़ी फालूदा, समोसे चाट पकोड़ी कबाब, नहारी,
कोरमा और खमीरी रोटी की खुशबुओं में खो गया,
अलाई मीनार के पास निगाहें चुड़ैल पापड़ी पर
सदियों से बसे जिन्नो को फिर ढूढ़ने लगी पर
नाग फूल पर जाकर अटक गयीं और फिर
बड़े पीलू की बूढ़ी हड्डियों से सरसराती हुई
बेर के पेड़ में उलझ गयीं, बस यूँही पेड़ों की
परछाईयों में लुकते छिपते तुम कागज़ पर
नामों की लिस्ट बनाने लगे- ढ़ाक, रोंझ,
करील, देसी पापड़ी और न जाने क्या क्या,
तुम्हें पेड़ों से लगाव था और मैं मेहराब, गुम्बद,
दर-ओ -दीवार, झरोखों और जमाली कमाली
के खंडहरों में खो जाना चाहती थी,
जहाज महल, ज़फर महल, औलिया मस्जिद
की रूह को छूना चाहती थी, सैरगाहों, इबादतखानो,
हवेलियों में बीते कल को ढूढ़ना चाहती थी,
मोहम्मद शाह रंगीले की रंगों में रंगना चाहती थी,
मैं इस शहर की नब्ज़ टटोलना चाहती थी,
मेहरौली की वक़्त से भी लम्बी दास्ताँ इन धुल भरे
पत्थरों में ज़िंदा हैं और उसी की नब्ज़ पर हाथ रखे
हम चल पड़े,आँखों में रेत सी चुभती भद्दी नयी इमारतों,
कूड़े के ढेर और झाड़ झंकाड़ के बीच आखरी सांसें लेती,
अतीत की उन अनछुई दस्तानो को परत दर परत खोलने
युहीं घूमते फिरते हम सूरज गुरुब होने से पहले
पहुंचे ख्वाजा बख्तियार काकी की दरगाह पर,
सैर-ए-गुल फरोशां की यादों से मन महक उट्ठा ,
लोभान और गुलाब की खुशबू ,पेड़ों पे पंछियों का
कोलाहल, जाली में बंधे मन्नत के धागे, रौशनी की दुआ
के सजदे में झुके सर और क़व्वालों की गूँज से मुबारक
समां में बंधे हम मोहब्बत और अमन की शमा दिल में लिए
शाम के गहराते सायों में घुल गए और यूँ ख़तम हुआ
एक और दिन दिल्ली की गलियों में