Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dairy-free Banana Cake

This is a very delicious recipe that I love to bake. It’s so easy to make and the cake is so moist.
It’s dairy free and healthy as you use olive oil instead of better.

I improvised the regular banana cake recipe by substituting butter with olive oil due to an personal incident.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that my baby boy had infant eczema. It was difficult time for me as I was trying to adjust into motherhood, recovering from caesarean and also managing his eczema.

One day, while bubba was napping away in my lap, I was watching Oscars live on TV. I was snacking on chezel. In his sleep, bubba tried to scratch himself, I saw that and I hold his hands to stop him from scratching. The residue of chezels in my fingers must have touched his skin. All of a sudden he broke into hives. As this was the first time that he reacted so bad to external allergen, I freaked out. Due to this incident I assumed that it might be something in chezels that he’s allergic to. I read the content and thought it might be the milk solids. I did some research online and got information on how baby could be allergy to dairy. As I was exclusively breastfeeding at that time and he hadn’t started solids yet. I thought I will remove dairy from my diet for 3 weeks and see if that will cure his eczema.

I went dairy free and was not taking any milk, butter or any food that has dairy content. Surprisingly most of my regular diet consisted some sort of dairy. I was reading labels on all food before buying or consuming it.
I couldn’t eat biscuits or even chips as most of these food labels said ‘milk solid’.

It was 3 weeks of pure endurance and self discipline. No eating out or take away, no KFC, no desserts.

As I was running very low in energy and craving for a cake, I decided to find a recipe that’s dairy free.

I remembered a time when a work colleague brought muffins for morning tea. It was strawberry muffin which was really yummy. Everyone asked her for recipe and she said she used olive oil instead of butter as she’s very health conscious.

So I decided bake a banana cake (which I bake all the time) and instead of using butter, I used olive oil. Normally I would put 3 tablespoons of milk in the mix, but for my dairy-free version , I omitted if from the recipe.

The cake itself turned out great and ever since then I now use this recipe.

Ingredients:

4 med sized Banana ( or 2 large ones)
1 cup of olive oil
4 eggs

2 cups of flour
1 cup of raw sugar
3 teaspoon of baking powder
Dash of cinnamon powder
Chopped nuts for texture

In a blender, purée bananas and add 1 cup of oil to purée and blend. Add 4 eggs and blend to make a thick mixture.

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In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add chopped nuts (I used cashew and almonds). Then add the wet mixture and whisk it to make together to make a thick batter. Add a dash of cinnamon and mix.

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Pour the mixture into greased baking tin ( greased with olive oil spray). Put it into preheated oven at 180 degree Celsius for an hour. After an hour, check the cake by inserting a skewer in th middle of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s ready to be served.
Best served warm with a cuppa.
Enjoy.

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Black Lentil patties topped with mince meat and egg (La woh)

This is one of the most authentic newari food at its best. Newari cuisine is epitome of culinary delights. The recipe are very authentic yet simple. The recipes are mostly based on fresh ingredients like buffalo meat, fresh vegetables, herbs, legumes and spices.
The recipe I’m about to share is one of the popular newari dish. If you are a vegetarian, you could make the lentils patties without meat and egg. Traditionally woh (lentil patties without meat and egg) are used for sagun. Sagun is basically a newari ritual where you bless a person who’s going to embark on a journey or for achievements, birthdays or any auspicious occasion. Sagun starts with puja (ritual involving putting vermillion and rice grains with flowers to pray to hindu god) of Ganesh ( hindu god) and then of the person who’s receiving a blessing. It’s followed by giving boiled and fried egg, dried whole fish ( kunya) , woh, yogurt and spirit called aila (homemade alcoholic drink made from rice or millet and look and taste like tequila).

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There are few variations of this recipe you could try. You can alternatively use mung beans. Mung beans are healthier and full of nutrients and easy on stomach. You can also add chopped onion and coriander to lentil mix to add more flavour and texture.
With mince, instead of adding it as topping, it can be mixed through the mix.

I’m posting this authentic recipe inspired by a very famous local shop in Patan called Honacha. It’s a small local shop with a rooftop dining serving best of newari cuisine like lawoh, chhoila(grilled spicy buffalo- will share recipe in future post), piro aalo (spicy potato) and much more. It’s a family business which has been running for generations. It’s always packed with locals as it’s cheap and tasty. I quite like the rooftop dining as you can enjoy the view of Krishna mandir (temple) and durbar square and munch down all these delicacies. I miss the spicy, hot dishes so much that I try to recreate these recipe at home. I’m a food enthusiast and love discovering new recipes, cooking and eating it especially Nepali cuisine. As I previous mentioned my hubby is from different town. He has tried few newari dishes but he doesn’t know about these local jewels where you can get mind blowing food. I tell him about all these local places where you can get great food and I’ve promised him that I will take him to all these places when we go for a visit ( we haven’t been back to our place as a couple yet).

Let’s get started now.

Ingredients

250 grams of Black lentils ( you can get it from indian grocery shops. Get the ones where skin has already been removed, trust me so much easier if it’s skinless)
250 grams of mince ( buffalo if available, if not I use lamb mince)
Eggs (one for a patty)
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger paste
1 tablespoon of fresh garlic paste
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon chilli powder
Salt as per taste
Pinch of asafetida
Oil

Soak lentils overnight. Rub the lentils to take the skin off and wash it in the water. The skin will float on the top so drain it and repeat the process until all the skin is washed off.
I used the skinless lentils which I soaked for overnight and then washed it under the tap until the water runs clear.

Blend it with half a cup of water to make a fine paste.

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Pour mix in a bowl. Add pinch of asafetida, salt, cumin and ginger paste and mix through.

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In a separate bowl , put mince and add ginger paste, garlic paste, chilli, salt, cumin and some oil and mix through. The mince is ready.

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Heat pan on low heat. Put a teaspoon of oil in the pan. Take a small amount of lentil and make a ball in your hands. Use some water while shaping it into small balls so it doesn’t stick in your hands. Gently put it in the pan and with wet spatula spread it thin about 2 cm thin. Top it of with thin layer of mince on lentil patty and egg. Cook on a on gentle heat for 2-3 minutes and then flip the patty. Cook it for few minutes and and it’s ready to be served.
It is used served with buffalo meat curry gravy to enhance the flavour but can be eaten as it is. Will share a goat curry recipe in later posts. Till then enjoy this delicacy.

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Food Allergy: Fact or psychological manifestation

I know the topic of my post is quite outrageous as food allergy is a known medical condition that affects people and can be fatal in some cases. Food allergy is caused when your immune system thinks a food as a harmful invader and releases histamine and other chemicals to protect the body from harm. The symptoms can include hives, swelling, wheezing, shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea, and respiratory distress etc.

I know this first hand as my baby boy might be allergic to certain food. We haven’t figured out yet and haven’t done allergy testing so it’s still a speculation and I’m hoping it’s only that.

I’m a new mom and it’s been quite enthralling experience for me. From pelvis dysfunction to 24 hours labour and baby was jaundiced for a whole month and then to top it off he’s got infant eczema. It hasn’t been smooth sailing ride into motherhood. Not only I learnt to take care of a new baby, learnt to wake up at ungodly hours and soothe a screaming baby, I have learned to take care of his eczema. I’m not complaining and when I look at my baby all these problems seem trivial.

I’m just trying to share my experience to people who might stumble upon my blog someday. I’m trying to put all these information out there so that they don’t have to dive into these unknown territories like I did. I will share my other experiences in future posts.

Now let focus on the issue at hand. I’m delving into this issue today because I had quite a scare his morning. It started out as a normal day. I massaged baby to moisture his skin as a normal routine to manage his eczema (which is lot better now, thank god). I made a wheat cereal as it was going to be introduced to him for the first time. He ate without any fuss (he’s such a happy baby). After his morning feed, he was playing on the floor, rolling around the carpet while I had my breakkie. When I finished he wanted to nap so I rocked him to sleep. Within half an hour, he started to wake up and cry. Then I saw it, he had broken into hives all over his face. The hives were quite severe than last time when it happened (will do another post next time on the first experience).
I quickly got cool wet towel and wiped his face to remove any residue of allergens he may had contact with. But it spread to his neck. I took off his onesies to check and he’s broken into hives all over his body. I was so freaked out. I called my hubby and he told me to wipe with wet cloth and it will go away. It was looking more severe than before and my baby was scratching away and crying. He had red patches all over his face and body and nappy area too.

I called the GP and the lady was like there’s no appointment now. I screamed on the phone saying it’s an emergency and she told me to take her to ER.

I called my hubby and told him to rush back home so we could take baby to ER.

I filled the bath and put him in the water. I showered him with water to ensure that he had no contact with allergen. But it didn’t help. The hives look red and angry and I was stressing out trying to calm my baby. After the bath, I massaged him with steroid cream and Cetaphil cream to subside his itch.

I was dressing up the baby and my hubby arrived. By then, I’ve calmed down a bit and could think as well. I told hubby, we will just take baby to GP as it’s 5 mins away from home on the way to hospital. We went to GP and told the receptionist that it’s urgent that we see the doctor now. She looked at the baby and said let me see if I can get a nurse to look at him. As we were waiting, my baby started to talk and play with his daddy. He was smiling at people passing by.

After a while, the nurse called us in, she had a look at baby and said he seems very happy to be in any pain. I explained eveything and she checked him and then called the doc. Doc said he definitely reacted to some allergen, it might be the wheat cereal he had. He said to monitor for any changes or severity in the symptoms. He prescribed over the counter antihistamine.

I could see my baby was getting better but I was still shaken. We went to chemist and got antihistamine. As we arrived home, my baby’s hive was almost gone, he had few red patches. My hubby decided to stayed home and look after bub. I was so grateful to have him home as I was very distressed and felt drained.

We have been monitoring bub now. He is happy and his hives are gone.

This event made me ponder about food allergy. Both hubby and I have no food allergy or intolerance and there’s no history in the family. I’m left wondering where did it came from. Where I came from, food allergy is almost unheard of. I never knew that allergies like eczema and hay fever even existed until I migrated to Australia and then became a sufferer myself for past few years.

I came from a place, where you feed babies anything and everything when they start solids like lentils, meat, salt and spices. Babies are massaged with oil everyday and then sleeps soaking the sun for hours. There’s no danger of harmful uv rays. The babies dishes doesn’t have to sterlised. It’s not even washed in hot water as that’s not as easily available as it is here. People are not too fussed about personal hygiene either. I’m not saying that it’s a good thing but that is the way of life.

What I’m trying to say is that’s how we grew up. But with my baby, he was born here in Australia. We have been doing things by the book. Hubby and I are very neat people regardless of our background. I’ve to admit I’m bit obsessed with washing hands and hubby has kind of OCD ( ya I know, match made in heaven) . It’s such a irony that my baby had eczema and suspected food allergy.

We grew up playing in dirt, eating everything, never wearing sunscreen when we went out, hanging out with others kids who were bit carefree about hygiene. Regardless of all this, I never heard of anyone suffering eczema or food allergy.

So that’s made me contemplate have we gone so far with cleanliness and hygiene that our body’s immune system has weakened. We are so focused on living in a germ free environment that a tiny fleck of dust causes our body to think it is attacking our immune system. We have almost become a society living in a purified air bubble. In this modern day and age, due to limited exposure to natural environment, our body’s resistance power is very low.

So my experience yesterday taught me to expose him to natural environment more so he can build of resilience towards it. And not to be too uptight about sterile surrounding.

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Mother’s Day: Tribute to my mom

Today it’s Mother’s Day . I’m very excited as this is my first Mother’s Day as a mother. I’ve already bought Mother’s Day gifts for myself and a cake too as hubby is not good with these kind of social events. So he gave me his card and I went on shopping spree buying Mother’s Day pressie. Bought myself 2 beautiful charms one of which is mother’s pearl charm and another one says MUM and a nice robe. I hope hubby was taking notes so that he knows what to do next year.

I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy last year. It was the most amazing and surreal experience of my life. I know it’s a kind of cliché when woman says child birth is most amazing, significant and indescribable joy and experience of their life. I used to feel the same way but now I know better. It’s true. Being a mom changes your perspective of life. I can go on and on about this immeasurable joy, but maybe in my next post.
In this post, I want to pay tribute to my mom ( whom I call maa). As being a mom now, makes me realize how precious my maa is and how much I love her.

Needless to say, I’m on maternity leave at the moment. My daily routine is caring, spending and loving my lil bub. When he’s asleep, I do get to indulge by watching TV or surfing the internet. I was watching morning show today. There are lots of promotion and advertisement on telly for Mother’s Day. One of the network is doing makeovers for working busy mom. The mom who was getting makeover had five sons. They nominated her for a makeover as she’s been too busy looking after them that she had ignored herself. I thought that was the sweetest gift the sons could have given her to show their love. It just reminded me of how much of a supermom my maa is.

My maa had a tough life. As a child, she didn’t have a mother to look after her as she passed away when my mom was a baby. But my grandfather remarried and brought home a nasty stepmother. She didn’t cared for her. My maa used to tell us stories about how she didn’t even had food to eat. Due to these hardships, she started working at my dad’s business when she was about 12-13. That’s how they met and fell in love.
Due to being of different caste ( caste
system is big deal in countries like Nepal), they had to elope as my father’s family was not ready to accept my maa. They were kicked off from family home and stripped off from family inheritance.

My mom and dad had to start off from zero. They struggled to feed the family of six daughters. My dad started his own business and they were working 18 hours a day to put food on the table and a place to call home. They went through such hardship sacrificing their youth to raise a family and give us a better life. My elder sisters used to help out with the family business and they used to look after us too. They made sure that we got good education so they enrolled us into boarding school. Not only it is a big deal to give daughters an education, on top of it, we were sent to boarding school to get the best education. I remember we were the only 3 girls who went to this prestigious English medium school from our area. Our neighbors used to be quite jealous of that and used to fill my father’s ears saying why does he bother getting us education, once they marry they will be caring for in-laws not the parents.

My parents never waiver from their commitment to give us a better future.

My family business took off and started bringing lots of profit around the time when I was 7-8 years old. My parents were still putting all their effort into making our business grow.

My maa was juggling with looking after 6 daughters and helping out with the business. She never had time for herself. No vacations, no pampering, no me-time. Her only breaks were few family visits to temple. We did once went to India for few weeks but that was also a business visit.

Then I never understood how much it takes to just give and give and never ask for anything in return. She never complained, never made us feel how tough life she’s been living. When it was not us demanding her time, she had to care for my dad. Cooking, cleaning, caring for us and dad took all the best years of her youth.

2 years ago my dad passed away suddenly. It was very shocking tragedy for my maa. Suddenly she’s all by herself and lonely. She doesn’t know what to do with all the time she has. She’s still coming into terms with the fact that my dad is not there anymore.

I’ve invited my mom to Australia twice now. We are trying to give all her lost time and compensate for all her life long effort in raising us by taking her to all these beautiful places. She loved the beautiful beaches as she’s seen it the very first time. She was amused to see Opera house, Harbour Bridge, kangaroos and koalas. Now most of her daughters including me are living overseas. loves Great Ocean Road drive. She loved it so much that she asked me to buy her koalas and kangaroos as a souvenir. I was much happy to obliged and bought her half her suitcase full of it.

She also visited my sister in United States. She’s been to New York , Niagara Falls, Washington, D.C.

Seeing her this happy to visit all the new places gives me contentment of knowing that we are giving something back for all the love, nourishment, care and time a mother gives to her child.

I love my mom and on this Mother’s Day I thank her for my life and everything else.

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Pickled Daikon Radish (Mula ko Achar)

It’s that time of the year here in Southern Hemisphere part of the world. The mornings and nights are chillier and it’s raining a lot. The winter is at our doorstep. This time of the year reminds me of hot and fragrant nepali tea (Chiya), foggy kathmandu mornings and glorious sun in the afternoon. Me and my mom used to get busy around the kitchen making preserved pickles with daikon radish, tomato, chillies, cauliflower, cucumber and many more. I love to make these as they are great accompaniment with rice, curries and lentils (bhat, daal ra tarkari).

The afternoon sun is ideal to dry these vegetables and the pickles after they are bottled. The cold mornings and nights helps to preserve it perfectly.

Now I’m here in a different part of the world and I still love to make these pickles in my kitchen. It’s part of my upbringing, my culture and heritage. And the taste that always remains favourite regardless of geographic boundaries.

It used to be hard to get these ingredients at supermarkets before due to us being a minority. As these ingredients are not Aussie cuisine staples, it was hard to find it 14 years ago. It’s a completely different story now. Due to major boom in migrations, it can be found easily on supermarket shelves to cater for these group. Also you can find lots of authentic grocery stores (Nepali) popped up in every burb where you can get your hands on these ingredients quite easily.

I’m sharing one of an authentic pickled radish recipe which is loved by most nepali. And it’s one of my favourite too.

Ingredients

2 medium size white daikon radish
1 clove of garlic ( cut in half)
10-15 whole fresh green chillies
1 cup of grinded mustard seed
Salt as per taste
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup of vegetable or mustard oil

Cut radish into 1 inch batons. If possible dry radish in the sun for a day or two. (If fresh radish is used, it will results in juices coming out of it and makes the pickles liquidy). Also oven can be used to dry and dehydrate.

When radish is dry, put it in a bowl with other ingredients. Add ground mustard, chillies, salt, turmeric powder and oil. Mix well.

Fill the mixture in a jar or two making sure it’s packed tightly. Seal the lid with a clear wrap and tighten the lid to ensure it’s air-tight. Leave it somewhere in warm and sunny area. The pickle will be ready in 5-7 days.

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