The dark side of the silky hummus (nuttier and wickedly dark)

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Where does hummus get its flavour. It’s the creamy texture of the chickpeas, the nuttiness of tahini, pungent from the olive oil, the underlying kick of garlic, earthy from the cumin and Zattar, tangy from the lemon juice and all of it balanced by salt.

Tahini is an ingredient usually neglected, but it’s decisive in the texture and taste of tahini. Tahini is the pea nut butter of sesame seeds. The white ones. What if you replaced the tahini from white to black? Black sesame is nuttier and a tad bitter. It’s greatly used in desserts like black sesame ice cream, swirl cakes, cookies and many more.

On a whim, I replaced the white tahini with black sesame tahini and viola, the dark side of the hummus is born. A higher amount of lemon juice and some pomegranate molasses to balance the added flavour from the black sesame tahini in the hummus and some more salt. That’s it. Best served with chips and fresh vegetables.
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Ingredients
1cup boiled chickpeas
2 tbsp black sesame tahini
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp sore bought zattar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Salt to taste

1. Whizz everything in a food processor, except the tahini. If the texture is not as creamy as you want it, add more olive oil or water.
2. Balance the salt and keep it just a tad salty
3. Spoon the hummus on a shallow serving bowl. Create a little well and add the tahini. Swirl it through the hummus, so that its just about blending in. So much for prettiness.
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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.

Charnamrita inspired breakfast bowl

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I vividly remember two occasions when I have had a Panchamrita/ Charnamrita. One was when my aunt had taken us two sisters for attending some Puja in an old haveli in Lucknow. I remember asking for a second helping of the 1-2 tablespoon serving that we were given. And the other time when a dear friend’s mother had summoned me to help mash bananas in a big pot of cold milk and yogurt mixture. I was then made aware that this has to be done by hand only.

Panchamrita/ Charnamrita is the offering to the Divine and then consumed also by those making the offering. Yogurt, milk, ghee, honey, sugar, Indian Basil. Dry fruits, and bananas are added by others.

Because it is so tasty I thought about using the same ingredients with the addition of roasted Amarnath and Foxnut, which is very popular food during this fasting time and making a breakfast bowl.
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Ingredients:
1 cup Yogurt
2 cup Milk/ Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Honey (you could use a combination of sugar and honey)
1/4 cup Ghee
2 Bananas
1/2 cup Dry Fruits of your choice
1 cup Roasted Foxnut
1 cup Roasted Amarnath seeds
2-3 sprigs Indian Basil

1. Soak the torn Indian Basil leaves in the milk for a few hours.
2. Peel and mash the bananas in the yogurt. I did it by hand, just for the memory. It is fun. You can try it.
3. Mix the milk, ghee and honey into the banana yogurt mixture. Once every thing is assimilated add the dry fruits, roasted foxnut and roasted amarnath seeds.
4. Divide into bowls and serve.
5. Its another great bowl of food post a morning yoga flow.
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A mouthful of coconut (energy balls to the world, laddoos to Indians)

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Rituals in India include coconut in many ways. It is considered auspicious and is a staple across the vast coastline of India. It is now that the world has woken up to the possibilities of coconut and its dense nutritional value is fast gaining dominance in cooking, the world over.

During any festivities, yogic or ritualistic fasts, coconut and preparation from coconut is very common. So are coconut laddoos. Traditionally the coconut is cooked in milk, which I have replaced with coconut milk to become a completely plant based dessert.

The other thing done is that if coconut sugar is used the flavour is stronger and makes the laddoos more vegan friendly.

These are great post work out treats for me.
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Ingredients:
100 gms Desiccated coconut, plus some extra for rolling the laddoos in
50 gms Raw/ unrefined/ coconut sugar
1 tbsp Coconut oil
200 ml Coconut milk

1. Heat a heavy bottomed wok or pan. Ensure it remains on low heat all the time. The temptation to turn up the heat and expedite the process of cooking is very high. We are conscious cooking these days, so just enjoy the fragrance wafting in the house while preparing this. Also this will ensure that these coconut laddoos remain as white even when cooked
2. Add the coconut oil to the pan and the desiccated coconut and gently stir. Continue stirring till the decimated coconut is still white, but slightly toasted through and before it changes colour. Add the coconut milk and the sugar and continue stirring. Stir over low flame for about 8-10 minutes
3. Once the mixture is no longer loose and starts to leave the sides and comes together, turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. I like my laddoos to be very soft and hence I almost have a wobbly structure to my laddoos. But if you like a little more bite, cook the mixture a little more, till it is as dense as you like.
4. Once cooled, add some oil to your palms and form balls laddoos. Roll the balls/ laddoos in desiccated coconut and allow to cool. You can store it in the fridge as well, but they will fast disappear where ever you try to hide them.
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