Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Spiced up Carrot and Apple Muffins

Rishan’s school is now closed for Easter and I am looking forward to trying something healthy and include as much as fruits and vegetables into his diet. He is not a picky eater, but when he goes to school, he is quite concerned about what he carries in his lunch box -  No Indian Food, no cold food and but only couple of sandwiches that  he loves. So, it’s not always possible to make his diet wholesome and healthy.

 Here is a one of our favourite muffin recipes that I made quite a few times and he carries in his lunch box once in a while. These are great whilst warm and are packed with fruits, seeds and carrot without any pronounced taste of any. The seeds give a bite to the muffins which could easily be omitted if you dislike. These cup cakes are moist, healthy and simply delectable. As the muffin uses oil instead of butter, it stays soft and moist without going tough unlike many butter based cakes. The spices nutmeg and cinnamon works very well with carrot and apple and make a perfect combination. These are delicious plain and you wouldn’t want to laden yourself with calories by frosting it. You may use cream cheese frosting if need be. The recipe is adapted from the Gulf News cookery book that I possess so fondly. It was gifted to me by my dear uncle about 15 years back.

Spiced up Carrot and Apple Muffins
Serves 6-12
preparation time: 15-20 mins
Bake time: 20-25 minutes

75 g (1/2 cup  -1 tablespoon) Plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp  ground cinnamon-
¼ tsp  freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 large organic egg
40ml, 4 tbsp olive oil/sunflower oil
70g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
55g- ½ cup grated carrot
50g grated apple, unpeeled
1 tbsp milk
25g raisins
25g sunflower seeds

For 12 muffins:
150g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
Pinch of salt
2 large organic eggs
80ml sunflower oil (I used olive oil)
140g castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
110g grated carrot
100g grated apple, unpeeled
1 Tbsp milk
50g raisins
50g sunflower seeds

1.Set oven to 175°C and preheat for 10 minutes. Line the muffin tin with individual muffin cases.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Beat together eggs, oil, vanilla and castor sugar, and then mix in the grated carrot, grated apple, raisins and seeds.
4. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid. Using a large spoon, stir just enough to moisten the mixture.
5. Don’t worry about lumps, these will bake in and are part of the muffin texture.
6. Spoon about 2/3rd full into each muffin cases, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the skewers/toothpick inserted in the middle of muffins comes out clean without being sticky.

Notes: You can add little chopped walnuts if you need that extra bite. You can also omit seeds ans raisins.

Pani Poori/Gol Gappa (Crispy Semolina pancakes with Mint Sauce and Tamarind Chutney) & some Spring Colours

Finally everything is falling in place. Until last week everything was in a jumble with my son’s birthday party arrangements. It was chaotic and involved lot of organizing. When it comes to organizing, I believe I am not a great person so I had to do things much early ahead and leave plenty of space ahead if in case something comes up. In spite of me being really stressed out, everything went really smooth and in time. Thanks to dear hubby and our loving friends who were there to help out. Now for a while no parties or gatherings and I am enjoying the beautiful weather with lot of sunshine. 

It’s officially spring and it’s quite warm that we could finally go out without our jackets and jumpers. Everything around is so bright, so beautiful. Flowers started blooming and trees sprouting. Even though winter wasn’t as bitter as yesteryears, it was pretty long and I always look forward to spring even with the onset of winter. I went out and shot some random pictures and some beautiful flowers in the park this morning. I very much enjoyed strolling in the park all by myself with the gentle breeze to caress and sunshine to warm up. After quite a while, I also saw many elderly people dog-walking. It is going to be summer again. While shooting pictures I also spotted something that looks like crow or is it a crow? It was perched high up in the tree and wasn’t that clear. The thought of English crows being black made me laugh, for no reason at all! 

Today, I am sharing something that’s apt for a good summer treat – Pani Puri/ Paani Poori/Golgappas. I made these quite a few times now following different recipes. The best of the lot was the recipe of Manjula Jain and I blindly follow her recipes. It works very well and the outcome is just fab. Pani puri or Golgappa is a famous Indian street food and are served as chats or snacks on roadside carts and are delightful treats especially on hot summer noon. These are crisp semolina fried puris filled with sev, potatoes, chutney and mint water that is super tangy. I have never been a great fan of Golgappas until I made my version at home. The ones I had from restaurants were too tangy for my taste and I never enjoyed it. So, you might want to increase the lime in your ‘pani’ to keep it sharp, just the way you would have it from street-side pani poori vendor.

Paani Puri (Golgappas)
Makes about 50-55 puris

For puris:
¾ cup sooji/semolina
¼ cup plain flour,
1/3 cup water
salt to taste
Vegetable oil – to deep fry

Paani (for paani puri)
¼ cup seedless tamarind soaked in ½ cup boiling water for an hour
1 heaped cup mint leaves, loosely packed
3 cups of water
1 ½ teaspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds
¼ tsp ginger powder
¾ tsp salt
1-4 green chillies
1 tbsp sugar
1-3 tablespoon limejuice (Add depending on your taste)
1 tablespoon coriander leaves
salt to taste

Imly ka chutney (Tamarind Chutney)
1/3 cup tamarind soaked in 2 cups water for an hour
1 tsp roated and ground cumin powder
¾ tsp chilli powder
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
½ -  2/3 cup brown sugar
a pinch garam masala

Other ingredients:
2 large Potatoes boiled with a touch of turmeric and salt-  either mashed or chopped into tiny cubes
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup boiled chickpeas
Fine sev

To make Pooris:
1. Mix all the ingredients and knead to a stiff dough using water. Leave it aside covered with a damp cloth for about ½ an hour (Don’t miss this step). Knead again and divide the dough into 50 portions.

2. Roll each portion into thin flat round disks of about 3 cm and place them on a floured surface.

3. Heat oil in a deep pan. When it is medium hot, slide few pooris at a time into the oil. Gently press the pooris with a serrated ladle to puff them up. Once puffed, flip them over and fry golden. Repeat it with all the pooris and drain them on kitchen towel.

To make Paani (Tangy Mint water):
1. Strain the soaked tamarind and squeeze out as much as pulp as possible. Discard the residue.

2. To a blender add this strained pulp, mint leaves, green chillies, cumin powder, ginger powder and blend till smooth. Strain it.

3. To the strained mix, add sugar, lime juice, and mix rest of water and stir. Chill for few hours prior to using for flavours to blend well.

To make Imly ka chutney (tamarind chutney):
1.Squeeze out tamarind in strainer. Reserve the strained liquid and discard the residue.

2. To the strained liquid, add spices and sugar and boil for ten minutes or until it thickens slightly. Refrigerate till required.

To assemble:

1. Crack a small hole in the centre of each puri.

2. Fill it with little boiled channa, chopped onion, sev, little tamarind chutney and then immerse it into pani and eat immediately. You can also use your own choice of fillings including cooked moong sprouts.

Fried puris can be stored in a closed container for about a month. If your puris go soggy, just warm them up for about minutes in a moderate hot oven to crisp them up.
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