Having a fresh strawberry jam stuffed bun in the morning or evening, along with a warm glass of milk or a hot cup of tea or coffee, always brings back my energy to run around and work. I made these buns without butter. But you can use butter instead of vegetable oil if you like. You can also use jams of any other flavour. I also make these same buns without adding strawberry jam. So you can also make them as plain buns. This recipe is very simple with easily available ingredients.
- 1 ½ cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ cup of plain flour
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (or 3 tablespoons of butter if you prefer)
- 2 teaspoons of yeast
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of warm water
- 6 teaspoons of strawberry jam
- Pour the luke warm water in a mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Mix well, then let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until the yeast activates. The term “yeast activates” means that a froth forms on top of the yeast and bubbles begin to form.
- Add flour, salt and vegetable oil (you can use butter instead of vegetable oil if you prefer). Mix well. At this point, you have made your dough. Now knead the dough. If you have used the correct mixture that I have advised in the ingredients section, kneading the dough will make it soft and sticky. You can knead the dough with hand or in a stand mixture.
- Grease a bowl with cooking oil or butter. Place the dough in the greased bowl and leave it in a warm spot to rise till doubled in size. If you live in a hot climate, just leave it on the bench. If you live in a cold climate, leave it inside the oven with a glass of boiled water next to it. But do not turn the oven on. After 45 minutes, the mixture should double in size.
- Then place the dough on a surface that has had flour lightly sprinkled on it. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts. You can divide it into more parts if you want your buns smaller, but I’ve only ever divided it into six equal parts with this particular mixture. So if you divide it into more parts, it may or may not turn out as good. Try if you want, but I can’t make any guarantees.
- Although you’ve divided the dough into equal parts, it is not yet in shape. In order to obtain the proper shape, grab each piece and flatten it with your hand. Put a teaspoon of jam in the centre and fold the dough around the jam several times until the jam is sealed inside the dough. Then roll the dough into the shape of a sphere. Repeat this step with every piece of the dough. If you don’t want to add jam, just roll each piece into the shape of a sphere. The sphere shaped dough must have a smooth surface. Do not try to put more than one tablespoon of jam into each piece of dough. If you do that, the jam will not be trapped inside the dough and will squeeze out when you try to seal it inside the dough.
- Place the pieces of dough in a baking tray that has been lightly greased with cooking oil or butter. Brush every piece with a little cooking oil or melted butter. Leave the tray in a warm place for another 30 minutes. This will make the dough expand to the proper size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the tray in the oven on the middle rack. Let the buns bake for about 25 minutes, or until they become golden light brown.
- Let the buns cool down, then serve with tea or any other drink you like.
For many people, a meal without salad is not a complete meal. When I cook a rice dish along with curry, a simple salad makes the meal just perfect. I often make a variety of salads at home. This particular salad is simple and tasty. I sometimes even serve it as an afternoon snack for my family.
- ½ cup of roughly torn curly parsley
- 5-6 leaves of mint leaves, roughly torn
- 1 large boiled potato, cut into cubes
- ½ cup of boiled chickpeas
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 large tomato, de-seeded, chopped or thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- Place chickpeas, potato cubes, onion, tomato, parsley and mint in a large salad bowl and mix well.
- Place the ground black pepper, chilli flakes, olive oil, lemon juice and salt inside a smaller bowl. Mix well by whisking with a fork or spoon. This mixture is the dressing. Pour the dressing onto the salad mixture inside the larger bowl and gently mix it all together with a spoon. Alternatively, you can also mix everything together by tossing the mixture inside the bowl. Once that is done, serve immediately.
Ah, how wonderful is the advent of the Spring!—the great annual miracle…. which no force can stay, no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way and cannot be withstood by any human power, because itself is divine power. If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation would there be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change!… We are like children who are astonished and delighted only by the second-hand of the clock, not by the hour-hand. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh, 1849
Adding two or three pasta dishes to your weekly menu is a good way to bring delicious, satisfying meals onto the table that don’t take a lot of time and work. I always have a few varieties of dried pasta in my pantry, because pasta is convenient, versatile and economical. Whenever I make pasta, I mostly use spaghetti, because it is my family’s preference.
There are many ways of cooking pasta. You can use many different ingredients to create a wide range of dishes to suite all tastes. I have found that fresh tomato sauces that have a smooth texture are the best choice for preparing spaghetti. This a favourite dish for most kids!
- 250gm spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 medium size firm tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2-3 pinches of freshly ground black pepper
- ½ red chilli flakes (optional)
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 serving spoon of shredded cheese for garnish (optional)
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the chopped onions in the oil until they become soft and tender.
- Add chopped garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, black pepper, chilli flakes and salt. Cook and stir regularly on a low flame until the tomatoes becomes soft, smooth and mushy.
- Meanwhile, boil some water in a pot and add salt. Then add the spaghetti and cook until it becomes soft and al dente. Drain the spaghetti in a strainer to get rid of the water.
- Add the spaghetti, along with fresh basil leaves, into the mixture in the saucepan and mix well. Let the mixture cook for a few minutes. Then pour the mixture into a bowl or a serving dish, garnish with shredded cheese and serve hot.
As October arrives, the cold, windy days here in the southern hemisphere are replaced with warm sunny days. Wild flowers have started popping up around the garden. The warmer weather brings the perfect time to start preparing popsicles, best enjoyed under a tree or at poolside on warm days.
As spring and summer arrive, strawberries become plentiful in supermarkets at reasonable prices. That is why I bought a few packets for making strawberry popsicles. Kids love strawberry in any kind of cold dessert; especially popsicles. This is a very simple recipe with few ingredients. Because of it’s simplicity, this is one dessert which older kids like to prepare by themselves.
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- 4 tablespoons of sugar (increase the amount of sugar if you like it more sweet)
- ½ cup of chopped strawberry
- Few drops of vanilla essence (optional)
- Whisk the yogurt, vanilla essence and two spoons of sugar and put the mixture aside.
- Put two spoons of sugar and the strawberry in a blender and blend until the mixture becomes a smooth puree.
- Fill the popsicle moulds with a mixture of the whisked yogurt and blended strawberry. Cover each mould with a strip of aluminium foil. Poke a wooden popsicle stick through the centre of the foil into each popsicle.
- Let the popsicles set in the freezer for 6 hours.
- To remove the popsicles from the mould, run warm water over the popsicles for about 4-5 seconds.
- Enjoy on the warm spring and summer days to come. (Sorry to those in the northern hemisphere, but you will have to wait several months yet!)
Although I don’t have a sweet tooth, I still like to prepare sweets at home for my family, friends and guests. Besan barfi is one of the easiest Indian sweet to prepare. It is made from very few ingredients. It is versatile and is often eaten by Indians during festive seasons.
The best thing about this sweet is the aromatic smell; which comes from roasted ghee (Indian clarified butter) and besan (chickpea flour). This is a sweet which most people cannot finish eating in just one or two days. However it will remain fresh for almost fourteen days when stored in a jar.
- 2 cups of chickpea flour (coarsely grounded is ideal because it will give a good grainy texture).
- 1 cup of ghee
- ½ teaspoon of green cardamom powder
- 1 cup of sugar powder
- 150ml water
- 1 serving spoon of sunflower seeds (it is also OK to use any available chopped or flack dry fruits like almonds, cashew nuts, pistachews and light green sultanas)
- Warm the ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Add besan and fry on a low flame, continuously stirring the mixture. Fry for about 20 minutes, until the besan becomes light golden brown. If you do not continuously stir the besan while frying, the besan will burn and ruin the taste of the entire sweet. Once this is done, turn off the flame and immediately pour the fried besan onto a plate. If the besan is left on the hot pan after the flame is turned off, the bottom part of the besan will burn.
- Pour 150ml of water in a saucepan and add the sugar. Stir well and heat the mixture on a medium flame until it comes to boiling point. Keep boiling until the mixture turns into a slightly thick syrup. The syrup must have proper foam thread consistency.
- Add the fried besan and half of the sunflower seeds to the syrup and mix well. Heat the mixture on a low flame for one more minute, continuously stirring the mixture.
- Place a non stick baking paper on a tray. If you do not have non stick bake paper, just grease the tray with a little ghee. Pour the mixture onto the tray and spread it well.
- Sprinkle the remaining sunflower seeds onto the surface of the mixture and let it set in the freezer for almost 1 ½ hours. Once this is done, cut the burfi into any shape you like and serve.
A few days ago I bought a large packet of soya chunks from an Indian store. I was very happy about this, because it is hard to find this item in standard grocery stores here in Australia. I often add soya chunks to my dishes, not only because it is one of my favourite ingredients, but also because my family are vegetarians. Soya chunks are a good source of protein and fibre and an excellent meat substitute.
This particular curry is a dish which can transform a simple into a special meal. It goes well when served with rice along with any kind of bread.
Adding chilly to this dish depends entirely on personal preference. For those who are not used to eating spicy foods, this curry can still be made without chilly or other spices that might make it too hot and spicy.
In this particular recipe, I have added some supplementary vegetables like green peas and tomatoes. The choice of supplementary vegetables is entirely personal. Other supplementary vegetables can include green beans, cauliflower, florets, carrots or capsicum.
- 1 serving spoon of olive oil or any vegetable oil
- 1 bay leave
- 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
- 2 medium size onions, chopped
- 1 inch of ginger, crushed or chopped / 1 teaspoon of ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon of garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon of garam masala (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 medium size tomatoes, chopped
- 2 large potatoes, pealed and chopped into cubes
- 1 ½ cup of soya chunk, soaked in water for 30 minutes. Note: If the soya chunks are too large, cut them in half. After the soya chunks have been soaked in water for 30 minutes, squeeze the water out of them before adding them to the curry.
- ½ cup of frozen green peas (you can use fresh green peas if they are available)
- 2 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Some freshly chopped coriander leaves
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add bay leaves and cumin seeds. Fry until the cumin seeds become dark brown.
- Add chopped onions and gently cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions become light brown at the edges. (sprinkle a little salt is you want to cook the onions faster)
- Add ginger, garlic paste, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and all ground spices except garam masala. Mix and stir well. Cover the pan and cook the tomatoes on a medium flame until they become soft.
- Add the soya chunks into the mixture along with green peas and potatoes. Fry the mixture for two minutes, then add salt.
- Add water and heat the mixture to boiling point. Continue cooking until the potatoes become soft. Once the potatoes soften, turn the flame right down. Mash some of the potatoes with the back of a spatula in order to bring about a good texture. If you find that the curry is to dry, add a little more water and mix well.
- Just before turning off the flame, sprinkle garam masala and coriander leaves, mix well and let the whole mixture cook for another couple of minutes. Serve with rice and/or bread.