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.

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Breakfast muffin

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I am a double breakfast eater. There is no time of the day when I would say no to a great cake with a cup of black coffee. These cravings are at their helm in the mornings. I would however consider myself not much of a sweet breakfast eater, unless off course its winers.

There was a time when I was growing up and since I was raised egg-free vegetarian, I found it very hard to find cakes without eggs. Now however, we find that it is becoming rapidly popular to bake without eggs.

So the next question is then what is the egg substitute to be used for the rise of the cake.

One of the (now) most common egg substitutes it flax seed and water. Great to taste as it adds an additional nuttiness plus protein. This recipe was tested on the demand of a reader, after I posted a banana bread recipe on the blog. She is allergic to eggs. So here it is finally. I replied the butter with coconut oil to make it vegan.

Tip – The one thing I did was that I forgot to add the chocolate chunks in the batter, I topped the muffins with it. If you are doing the same thing as me, then sink the chocolate chunks deep into the batter. If it lies on top it can dry up or burn, specially the ones near the heat of the oven.

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Vegan banana and cinnamon muffin
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
6 tbsp warm water
180 gms light all-purpose/ gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder, aluminium free
¼ tsp fine sea salt
90 gms palm sugar
100 gms coconut oil
2 very ripe bananas (total of 1 cup smashed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup vegan- chocolate chunks

1. Mix the flax seed and water and let it sit for 15 minutes.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients. Wen backing without egg, it is important to incorporate as much as air as possible to get a lighter cake.
3. Heat the coconut oil till it just melts. Add the mashed bananas and the vanilla extract.
4. Add the flax seed and water mixture and fold the rest of the dry ingredients.
5. In the end add the chocolate chunks and stir.
6. Use an ice-cream scoop to add the batter onto lined muffin trays.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes at 160 degrees in a preheated oven. Watch the muffins closely because they can be done quickly if there is low humidity or the bananas are fresh, etc.
I have never been able to wait for them to cool before I can eat. The warmer, the better. the fluffier. Enjoy with a cuppa.
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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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