Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chai Muffins (Indian tea flavor) muffins

Chai! Chai has always been a heaven for me and even though it can be translated as "tea", the tea is quite nowhere around the Indian Chai! Chai from India is a spiced milk tea which is getting increasingly popular throughout the world. I take my Chai very seriously and I can't compromise on a badly-made cup of tea. Indian Chai produces a warming, soothing effect and gives a wonderful sense of fulfillment and well-being. When I'm home from work, all I crave is a hot cup of chai. It is difficult to resist a second cup. Coffee comes nowhere close to my Chai!

I also use a specially made chai-masala or tea spice mix to elevate the flavors of my tea. I have previously shared the recipe of the chai masala. If you missed it, here's the recipe:
Chai masala recipe (Tea spice)

So why am I talking about Chai here in a muffin post? That's because for a very long time I have been wanting to add this spiced mix to flour and try baking some goodies with it. I was sure they would turn up good. So this Christmas I finally went along to prepare Chai muffins and amazingly they turned out so good and yummy.. crusty from outside and soft from inside. Do try this recipe and I'm sure you will make it again and again!


Whole wheat flour: 1 cup
Brown Sugar: 1/2 cup
Baking soda: 1 tsp.
Chai masala: 3 tsp.
Eggs: 2 large
Yogurt (beaten): 4 tsp.
Cooking oil: 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200° C. 
  2. Add the flour to a bowl and add the baking soda to it. Mix well. 
  3. Add the spiced tea mix (chai masala) and mix them well. Your dry ingredients are ready. Keep aside. 
  4. Now in another bowl add the eggs and the sugar and mix them really well until light and fluffy. You can use a hand mixer or an electric mixer. 
  5. Add the yogurt and mix well. Add the cooking oil and vanilla essence. Mix everything well until light and frothy. 
  6. Now slowly begin to add the dry ingredient mix to the wet ingredients. Keep mixing slowly. 
  7. Add all the mix and mix everything together. The consistency should be a little flowy and not dense. This will make light and fluffy muffins. 
  8. Grease the mold and fill upto 3/4 with this mix and immediately put in the oven. I have baked them for Christmas so I used special Christmas mold. 
  9. Let bake for 15 minutes and check with a toothpick. If the toothpick is wet then let them be in the oven for 5 more minutes. The outside should be deep brown with a little crust. 
  10. When the toothpick has crumbly mix when you do the test that means the muffins are done. 
  11. Turn off the oven and take out the tray. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove the muffins. 
  12. Cool completely and refrigerate in an air-tight box for up to a week. 
  13. Warm for a minute in microwave while serving with tea/coffee.

Merry Christmas everyone ! 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas crafts for kids

Merry Christmas everyone!
It's really amazing working with pre-school kids and last week we had been making some pretty easy Christmas crafts with kids. At the end of the week, the kids took all the crafts home and the parents were overwhelmed and happy to see the lovely crafts created by their kids. I'm sharing some of the crafts and how to make them at home with your little ones!

Christmas Cards

Materials required:

Green paper
Brown paper 
Orange paper for base (or any other color of choice)
Pencil/pen to draw
Small sequins for decoration
Glitter (optional)

  1. Draw a triangle on the green paper and cut it out. 
  2. Stick it on the base sheet (orange or any other) with the help of glue. 
  3. Now cut out the brown paper for the tree trunk as shown in the picture and stick it under the tree. 
  4. Now decorate by gluing the tree with different sequins of choice and glitter. 
  5. The child may write his/her name and Merry Christmas/God Jul depending upon age. 
  6. A lovely basic Christmas card is ready. You could make many with different colored base for all the relatives/friends. 

Gingerbread Man

Materials required:

Brown paper
Pencil/pen to draw
Black marker
Lots of sequins and glitter

  1. Draw the easy shape of a gingerbread man as shown in the picture and cut it out finely. It's better if you cut it out from a thick paper as it will be used as stencil.   
  2. Your kids could now trace the outline using your gingerbread man cut-out stencil on a brown paper. 
  3. Cut out the shape of the gingerbread man. 
  4. Draw the eyes and the nose and mouth. 
  5. If feeling creative, you could even stick a bow at the neck area of the figure and it can be the gingerbread man. Similarly add a bow on the left side of the head of the figure and it can be a gingerbread woman. 
  6. Now glue the whole gingerbread man/woman and stick the sequins of choice. You could help your child to sprinkle glitter all over. 
  7. The gingerbread figure is ready. You could punch a hole in the top and hang it on the Christmas tree. Alternatively, you could also let the child stick it on another sheet of paper to make a simple Merry Christmas card. 
Pine cone trees

We had collected a lot of pine cones during our outings in the summer months. So we made good use of those to create little glittery pine cone Christmas trees. 

Materials required:

Pine cones
Colorful glitter

  1. Glue the whole pine cone with glue. 
  2. Sprinkle different colorful glitters over the pine cone. Roll it in glitter as well if it doesn't become very glittery. 
  3. Let dry completely and then can be hung on Christmas tree. 
  4. You could also try painting the whole pine cone with green paint mixed with glue and then directly sprinkling glitter to give a little tree effect. 
  5. If you don't have a Christmas tree or don't want to hang, you can just use a flattened ball of play dough as a base for the glittery pine cone. 

Little Santas 

Materials required: 

Empty toilet paper roll
Red paper balls
Red fabric
Green/gray fabric
Glue gun
Black marker 

  1. Cut the red fabric according to the size of the toilet paper roll and wrap it around. Glue with glue gun. 
  2. Cut little strip of green/gray fabric and tie it around the middle as shown in the picture. 
  3. Make the Santa hat as you like and glue it to the red paper ball with the glue gun. 
  4. Now let the child draw eyes, nose and mouth on the red ball with the black marker. 
  5. Attach the red ball to the toilet paper roll with the help of the glue gun. 
  6. Tear little bits of cotton and stick them as beard as shown in the picture. We had used ready to use beard from craft shop but cotton will work as good. 
  7. You can decorate the Santa by tying the hat with a strip of different color fabric or sticking cotton to the end of the hat etc. 
  8. Cute Santa is ready to be placed on the window/center table as Christmas decoration. 
  9. This particular craft was the original idea of a colleague and not mine. I have only shared the craft and process here. 

Beading Santa

Beading is an excellent way to work on the fine motor skills of young kids. For Christmas, Santa could be made with beads on a square or rectangle beading plate. For making this pattern, it's very important to count and place the particular number of beads in a particular order. It really helps the kids concentrate and work on their mathematics as well. After the beading has been done, the beads could be ironed out by placing a butter paper between the beads and the iron. 

Last year on Christmas, I had shared to make Santa Claus with paper. You can follow this link if you want to see the Santa craft. 

If you like my work, please leave a comment/question etc. in the comments section below. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Apple Carrot Basil Soup

Winters are knocking on the door and we have already experienced our first snowfall. Temperatures are dropping down real quick and we crave for warm comfort foods (and drinks) in this weather.. This is the perfect time for warm soups. I had received a soup maker last winter as a gift and there is no better time to put it to good use now. This soup recipe is made in a soup maker but can also be simmered on a stove top. The ingredient which makes this soup special is the soup spice mix (soup masala) which I add to all my soups.

This is a warm and comforting soup and the mix of apples and carrots elevated the taste to another level. I have gotten the idea of mixing apple and carrots from this recipe:


Apple (chopped): 1
Carrots (chopped): 3
Garlic: 3 cloves
Basil leaves: a handful
Yellow onion (chopped): 1
Lemon juice: 1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Soup Spice Mix (Soup masala)
Black pepper (optional)
Cream for garnish (optional)

  1. Wash and chop the apples, carrots, onion and garlic and add to the soup maker. 
  2. Add the washed basil leaves, lemon juice, salt and soup spice mix. 
  3. Add the required amount of water and turn on the soup maker. My soup maker prepares the soup in just 6 minutes! 
  4. If preparing on stove top, add the chopped apples, carrots, onion, garlic and basil leaves to a mixer. Add water and grind to a smooth paste. 
  5. Add this whole mix to a large pot and add water depending upon the required consistency of the soup. 
  6. Add the salt, lemon juice and soup spice mix. Mix well and bring to a boil. 
  7. Reduce the heat and simmer on medium flame for 10-15 minutes or until it reaches the desired consistency. 
  8. Turn off the flame and pour directly into a soup bowl. No need to sieve it. 
  9. Sprinkle black pepper and garnish with cream if desired. Serve hot! 

If you loved this recipe, please leave a comment/feedback and connect with me on Facebook for regular recipe updates.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mint dhokla (3 minute Microwave recipe)

Very often I purchase a lot of mint as I cannot resist beautiful, fresh mint in stores and then I try to use that lot of mint in so many various dishes to finish that wonder herb as it starts blackening and going bad after just few days and how much mint-coriander chutney can one make? I obviously do prepare so many other dishes from mint all the time I have mint in abundance but this mint dhokla is my favorite as it's an instant and quick option for a breakfast or snack and is easy to prepare and filling, yummy and satisfying.

Other recipes I prepare from mint are:

Mint- coriander chutney
Mint-egg salad
Mint-zucchini (pudina lauki masala)
Mint fish curry
Mint Poha
Mint paratha
Mint Dal fry
Mint Rice

Here's the recipe of the Mint Dhokla (Pudina dhokla):


Chickpea flour (besan): 1/2 cup
Semolina (sooji): 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Lemon juice: 3 tsp.
Mint leaves: a big handful
Eno fruit salt: 1 tsp. OR baking soda (1/2 tsp.) and baking powder (1/2 tsp.)
Cooking oil: 3 tsp.
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.
White sesame seeds: 1 tsp.
Dried red chili: 1

  1. Wash and grind mint leaves with water in a mixer. 
  2. Mix the chickpea flour, semolina, salt and lemon juice in a big bowl. Add the mint water to the bowl and mix well. Add more water if required to make a flowing batter like consistency. 
  3. Leave this mixture aside for 20 minutes. 
  4. Add eno fruit salt or a mix of baking soda and baking powder. Sprinkle little water on top, the soda will start bubbling. Mix it slowly but nicely. 
  5. Add the whole mix immediately to a greased microwave safe bowl. 
  6. Cover the bowl and microwave on high power for 3 minutes. Remove and do the toothpick test. If toothpick comes out clean, the dhokla is done; otherwise microwave for another 30 seconds. 
  7. Remove the dhokla on a plate and let cool. 
  8. By the time, prepare tempering. Heat oil in a pan and crackle the mustard seeds. Add white sesame seeds and the red chili. Turn off the flame after 30 seconds. 
  9. Cut the dhokla in desired shape when cooled.
  10. Pour tempering over it. Serve with Coconut Chutney

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Autumn love

Autumn! Ah Autumn is my favorite season and this is the season I love most of all. Yes, even more than summer. I love how Mother Nature blesses us with such beautiful, colorful landscapes as it begins to get a little chilly. Everywhere is a beautiful canvas with a pretty scenery and no matter how many pictures I click, it's never enough!

The scenic views, the beauty, the red, orange and yellow colors make everything a bit more lively, a bit more cheerful, a bit more amazing! So here's the best pictures of my (otherwise huge) collection of the fall pictures as I go crazy and can't stop taking pictures. Enjoy!

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.

"The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go!"

"Crisp air, pretty leaves, sweater and boots, pumpkins and coffee: I love Fall!"

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile! 

"I love Autumn. The one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it"

"Autumn paints in colors that summer has never seen"

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me; fluttering from the autumn tree!"

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."

"I hope I can be the autumn leaf
who looked at the sky and lived
And when it was time to leave, 
gracefully it knew life was a gift!"

"Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet; and the days were clear and crisp under the harvest skies."

"Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird, I would fly about the Earth, seeking the successive autumns!"
- George Eliot

"Fall is my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale."

"How beautifully the leaves grow old.
How full of light and color are their last days!"

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face"

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor; summer and oil painting; and autumn a mosaic of them all"
- Stanley Horowitz

"The tints of autumn.. a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost."

"Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now it's time for autumn eves."

"Come, little leaves; said the winds one day. Come with me to the meadows and play. 
Put on your dresses of red and gold.. for the summer is past and the days grow cold!"

"There is something about autumn that wakes up our senses and reminds us to live!"

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons."
- Jim Bishop. 

"Light breeze, colorful leaves, bare trees.. It must be Autumn!"

 "Autumn wins you best by its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay."
- Robert Browning.

"Everyone must sit and take the time to watch the leaves turn."
- Elizabeth Lawrence. 

" Life fails to be perfect but never fails to be beautiful."

"My favorite color is autumn!"

"The name of it is "Autumn". The hue of it is blood. An artery upon the hill. A vein along the road."

"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life."
- P.D. James

"Autumn remembers the warming days of Summer. Today the sun shines."

"Falling leaves hide the path so quietly."
- John Bailey. 

"Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call
down they came fluttering, one and all..
over the brown field they danced and flew..
singing the soft little songs they knew.."

"and all at once.. summer collapsed into fall!"
-Oscar Wilde

"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods; and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt."

"Leaves of gold (their former green)..
the richest color briefly seen..
A canopy of purest light..
falls glittering down (into the night).
As winds of change draw ever near..
the trees - (they seem to have no fear).
They know it's time (they must transform)..
and with that something new is born.
And so it's been (since the dawn of time)..
all things must learn to bend with clime. 

"It is so strange that autumn looks so beautiful, yet everything is dying!"

"A fallen leaf is nothing than summer waving goodbye!
They remind us that goodbyes can be beautiful too."

Note: All the pictures posted in this article are subject to copyright and may not be copied or used in any other form without the consent from the author. 


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