Coming soon 🙂
Baking a chocolate cake is one of my absolute favorite things to do 🙂 !! I find the entire process so therapeutic, starting from preparing the wet ingredients, sifting the flour, mixing the batter, and then lovingly putting the cake tin into the warm, pre-heated oven with a heart full of hope that it would turn out good. Baking something chocolaty always puts me in a happy mental space, a blissful, “vibey” state of mind I wish I could sustain forever… And that feeling when someone arrives at your door when the oven is doing her magic and says, “Wow! What’s baking? Smells so divine!” So heart-meltingly precious, right 🙂 ??
If you’re someone who loves to host get-togethers, potlucks, and fun, casual parties at your place, then this recipe is dedicated to you 🙂
This delicious pasta bake with a creamy “cheese” sauce and a delightfully crispy breadcrumb topping is a certified crowd-pleaser that’s super easy to make. However, what I love the most about this dish is that you can prepare it several hours in advance. Just keep it in the fridge for up to a day in advance and bake just before serving. So convenient, right? You can also easily double the recipe if desired.
In July 2019, I volunteered for some time at Peepal Farm in Dhanotu, where I met some really wonderful people from different parts of the world. I developed an especially close friendship with this lovely lady from Argentina—Josefina—who felt like someone I have known forever despite hailing from a culture so different from the one I was raised in. I left the farm a few days before she did, and we promised to keep in touch.
She visited Delhi in late September and we were both delighted to meet again! I wanted to impress her (ahem!) with an Indian meal. She loves tofu, so a tofu-based dish was naturally on the menu. I remembered she had once talked fondly about having “chopped vegetables floating in a cold yogurt sauce” on her previous visit to India before she went vegan. Of course, I knew what she was referring to & decided to make her a vegan version (my specialty—yayy! I’ll impress this lady!!) And since I’m really bad at making rotis, I wasn’t taking any chance (NOT with this woman!) and chose to go the safe way with a simple veggie pulao.
A few months ago, I read about the health benefits of sunflower seeds for the first time. They are chock-full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents and are a good source of fiber, essential fatty acids, and minerals like zinc and manganese. I felt it would be good to start including sunflower seeds in my diet. Since I often eat granola or muesli with milk, I thought of making sunflower seed milk for my breakfast. Besides being vegan and healthy, this milk is also suitable for those who are allergic to tree nuts.
Sunflower seed milk has got a mild nutty flavor and a barely-there floral undertone. It tastes good chilled, flavored with a pinch of elaichi powder; poured over cereal/granola; or blended with fruits into a smoothie. You can also sweeten it with date paste if desired.
Since going vegan, I’ve been relying heavily on cashews for making rich/cheesy/creamy dishes that traditionally call for dairy products with much satisfaction, my only qualm being that cashews are too expensive for regular use. However, a few months ago I met a young vegan who’s allergic to all kinds of tree nuts and I realized that there are so many dishes that are popular in the vegan circles that they won’t be able to eat. Imagine having to just sit there and watch people around you gobble up cheesy pizzas and creamy pasta dishes while you can’t have any of that! Even though I am yet to get a chance to cook for this person, they have definitely inspired me to try out recipes that are easy and tasty while also being nut-free!
This Vegan, Nut-free, Oil-free Cheese Sauce is made of just vegetables and coconut milk. You can add a few tablespoons of olive oil while blending the sauce for a richer taste, but I wanted to keep it oil-free as well.
I generally bake chocolate cakes with whole wheat flour, but when my friend, Preeti Kapasi, who runs the Vedic Kitchen—a plant-based food business, launched a gluten-free flour, I was intrigued to try it. After all, the product had been getting rave reviews from her clients who had used it to successfully prepare fluffy pooris! I ordered my batch quickly—she is based in Ahmedabad but delivers all over India—and baked this cake! Everyone I served it to loved it; one even said it didn’t taste like it was “gluten-free” lol.
I used jaggery in this cake as I’m no longer using refined sugar in my kitchen. I’m aware that jaggery isn’t a “health” food either, but at least it’s a bit “better” than refined sugar. You can use brown/white sugar if you want.
Continued from Volunteering at Peepal Farm part I…
Going by the rules, the large animals (bovines/equines) and the small animals (dogs/cats) are housed in different enclosures. However, it’s not uncommon to see some of the dogs and cats lazing around in the large animal section, interacting or playing with the baby calves or the sheep, basking in the sun, or “helping” out the vet and his staff in caring for the large animals.
“This looks and smells horrible!” Jim exclaims, with an exasperated look on his face. I look at the mound of gooey, stinky, greenish-yellow dog poop inside the enclosure we are supposed to clean and nod in affirmation. Jim, a soft-spoken gentleman in his mid-40s with fine brown hair and eyes of the same color, is from the UK. His eyes, usually sparkling with kindness, are now crinkled with disgust. Yes, we are both revolted, but we are also determined to not let this repulsion get in the way of our task. We think of the dogs who need clean kennels to stay in, and the task no longer feels “undoable.” It’s 9:45 am and we are engaged in one of the first jobs that need to be done at the animal recovery center: scooping up all the poop from the various enclosures that house dogs.
Update: This method works well with Sofit brand of soy milk as well. Use the plain unsweetened version for the best result.
Note: This post is NOT sponsored by Soy Sipp/Soy Life! It’s just that I personally like this brand of soy milk and believe it has the potential to make the lives of vegans across India easier 🙂
Right now, I’m sipping on a cup of masala chai made with Soy Sipp milk and thinking how much the vegan scene in India has changed over the past few years! While I’m personally not much into using store-bought dairy alternatives, I do acknowledge these ready-to-use products have made the lives of vegans in India a lot more convenient. One such product I have recently discovered is this Soy Sipp milk! I was never a fan of store-bought soy milk, but this one is different. Compared to other easily available soy milk brands, this one has a more neutral flavor and is perfect for making tea, coffee, smoothies, milk-based gravies, soups, sweet dishes, etc. It’s reasonably priced as well. And the best thing? It yields such lovely curd 🙂