No Sugar Added. Delicious Summer Coolers – Hibiscus and Anise Cold Brew Tea

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As the summer progresses, appetite and cravings that we associate with the colder months vanishes. The requirements of the body change, from seeking warmth we all look for ways to cool off from the scorching sun. Whether we are out and about or are spending all our time in air-conditioning, our bodies are dehydrated and we naturally crave cold sweet liquids. While sherbets are great and am a big fan of a good rose sherbet, we all seek options which do not have added refined sugar.

Such cooling drinks use the natural sugars already existing in the fruit which takes away the need to add refined sugar.

So what I have for you are two summer cooler recipes which are very easy to make, will be liked by adults and children alike and are also a great base for cocktails.
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Hibiscus and Anise Cold Brew Tea

Hibiscus Flower Tea, is a joyous experience on its own. First the colour, liquid ruby red, with a sheen giving you the perception of liquid crystal. Aroma, very floral and one can almost be sure that the waft tells you that it will be deliciously tart and that it is. Floral and Tarty in flavour. And last but not the least, packed full of anti oxidants. It’s great on its own.

Now let’s talk about the other ingredient, anise. Sauff, as it is popularly called in India. I picked up some from a proper spice market in the interiors of Rajasthan. An experience that was memorable, because even if anyone was taken to that market blindfolded, they would know we were dealing with anise/ aniseed. A tea made with anise, is also an aromatic play on the senses. Fills the house with the fragrance, leaves behind a pretty green liquid, and is definitely flavourful with a sweet aftertaste.

So the work to be done is simple. Make the two teas, Anise and Hibiscus and let is cool down. If you are serving children, they might want it to be a little sweeter and for that you can add Honey or Maple Syrup or Agave. Do not add any powered sugar. That will make the tea cloudy and less appealing to the eye. And who wants to spoil the real spectacle of mixing two clear green and red liquids as per taste.

So whenever I make this tea, I like to make it a little DIY, serve cold iced glasses, with two unusual carafes (hoarded over the years from my collection of ever breaking glassware), one with chilled Hibiscus Tea and another with chilled Anise/ Aniseed Tea, and then allow the everyone to blend their own, adds to the drama and makes serving more interesting.
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Ingredients:

Anise/ Aniseed Tea
3-4 tsp anise/aniseed (choose the thicker ones, they are sweeter)
4 cups water

Hibiscus Tea
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers( might seem a lot but these take up a lot of volume)
4 cups water

1. Make the Anise/ Aniseed Tea. Boil the water in a heavy bottomed pan
2. Once the water starts to boil, add the anise/aniseed.
3. Boil the tea on medium flame for 5-7 minutes or till the colour of the water is green and you can smell the aroma everywhere.
4. Strain and cool
5. Make the Hibiscus Tea. Boil the water in a heavy bottomed pan. You can also use a kettle.
6. Once the water has come to boil, add the hibiscus flowers and let it steep
7. After 5-7 minutes, the petals will steel and sink to the bottom.
8. Strain and cool
9. To serve, fill glasses with ice cubes. Mix the two teas in equal proportion. 10. The colour of the hibiscus tea will take over, but you can taste a refreshing cool beverage with the floral tartness of Hibiscus, rounded off by the sweet aromas of anise/ aniseed.

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Thandai – Spiced Indian Nut Milk – Holi Speciali

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Nut milk has gained popularity in the vegan movement globally. However, traditionally nut milk is very popular amongst the wrestling communities in India and is very popular as a cold beverage in Summer, starting from the day of Holi, the festival of colours, the start of spring.

Traditionally Thandai is made of soaked almonds, ground into paste with peppercorns and cardamom and then mixed with milk and sugar and rose water. For Holi, this same mixture is fortified with Bhang – Fresh green Marijuana. Its a celebration after all.

The more almonds in it, the better the flavour. There is a however a cheaper version of the same Thandai, one which uses melon seeds as they add enough nuttiness and are not as expensive as almonds. Some parts of the country also add fennel seeds and poppy seeds to the Thandai.

This holi I made mine with almonds, green pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, fennel, cardamom, driend rose petals, peppercorns and a dash of honey. No milk because I used too many nuts and that makes this Thandai a Vegan treat
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Top Tip
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There might be leftover thandai. Use that to soak oats overnight and serve with fresh strawberries.

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Ingredients
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup poppy seeds (white)
1 tbsp black pepper corn
2 tbsp fennel seeds
10 pods green cardamom
1 handful dried rose petals. You can skip this and just use good rose water)
50 ml rose water
6-8 tbsp raw cane sugar
6 cups milk/ water

1. Soak all the above in water overnight
2. I dd not bother taking the cardamom seeds out of the pods
3. I did however take the skin off of the almonds while merrily chatting over morning coffee
4. Grind everything into a very fine paste. Add the water and dilute. If the mixture is too grainy, sieve it through a cheese cloth. It can be equally enjoyed with a slightly grainy texture.
5. If you have bhang on hand, stir it into the ground nut paste and then sieve it. Enjoy.

Dairy free, fuss free, one bowl carrot and orange cake

(dairy free if you can stop yourself from slathering dollops of butter or cheese)
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I called up my vegetables and greens provider to ask him what carrots does he have. And he merrily told me all three. In india, the most popular ones are Black (deep maroon, darker than beetroot), the red ones and the usual yellow to orange ones. Colours galore in my kitchen and off course I told everyone I spoke to that day that am making carrot cake tomorrow. And strangely everyone told me ‘oh I love carrot cake’

This means that it is indeed a very popular cake. Come to think of it, most cafes and bakeries of any stature have this on their menu and mostly its a tower of cake with cream cheese layers. Not for me. I love carrot cake, but without all this fuss.

Without the walnuts and dry fruits seeped into it. Without all the extra cheese. Because a carrot cake is supposed to be simple. Carrot cake.

This recipe is a simple cake which can be mixed in a bowl. And baked . The end result is a loaf which can be used two ways. Like a stale bread, toasted and buttered. Or if you really want some cheese, then a mascarpone whipped with cream with a dash of orange zest and enough cointreau.
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Ingredients:
290 gms all-purpose flour
2 pinches table or fine sea salt
2 tsp baking powder (aluminum-free)
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
120 gms sunflower oil
145 gms dark brown sugar
3 l small organic eggs
235 ml strange juice fresh or otherwise
1 tsp vanilla extract
255 gms grated carrots

To make it better
1 slab good organic butter

Or

200 ml full cream
200gms mascarpone cheese
30ml cointreau
1 tested orange
1 handful toasted walnuts for prettiness
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1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin (9×5-inch loaf pan). Keep this ready.
2. Grate the carrots and set aside. This will be folded into the cake mix in the end.
3. Add the eggs one at a time to the oil and orange juice mixture. Use a balloon whisk.
4. Throw in every thing else into this liquid and ensure all flour is blended in. Fold in the carrot in the end
5. Pour into the ready loaf tin and bake for about an hour. Ensure the cake is cooked through before you take it out of the oven.
6. Allow to cool and stash it away for 24 hours
7. This cake tastes best 18-24 hours old.
8. Serve toasted with butter
9. Or whip the cream, mascarpone, orange zest and cointreau and pour over the loaf. Top with the walnuts and slice away.
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