Stay In Touch

From Around the world

Sep 162014

The theme this month is Comfort Food Cookies! What cookie says comfort food to you? If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes–be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:



At the outset, let me tell you that I bake these cookies once a year. Growing up, I ate them once a year relishing the leftovers over a few days time, which indicates that my mom also made them only once a year. So why am I posting these as Comfort Cookies for this month’s theme?

Because they make me think of home, remind me of my mom, bring memories of childhood helping mom make the Roth and they bring a smile so deep and true that I can feel it in my core. These are cookies I save in the freezer to eat on a day when everything appears to go wrong. These are cookies I make and eat with a reverence and these are cookies that bring me a deep sense of stability no matter what’s going on in life.



For a Kashmiri Pandit, Roth are not just cookies. These are a part of who we are and making these cookies is a very ancient tradition going back thousands of years. The ritual of making these cookies is called “Punn Duen” and after making them they are first offered to the Goddess of Harvest and hence sacred. The pots, pans and utensils used in baking these cookies are traditionally kept separate from everyday cooking utensils. They are only used once a year in every family for making these cookies and then packed away.

Every year, just around the fall season, there are a few auspicious days as per the lunar calender on which we must make the Roth. Each family picks a day as per their convenience and sets for “Punn Duen”. Freshly ground flour is bought, along with sugar and other materials and kept separate from everyday use things. The kitchen is given a deep clean the night before and the utensils for making Roth are brought out, scrubbed clean and a thread is spun out of cotton by a girl child. This thread is called the Punn and is a significant part of the ritual. The making of the Roth usually began at 4 a.m.


As a young girl, I used to pledge to wake up at 4 am along with my mother to make Roth. My grandmother and my mom somehow always managed to get through half of the process of making the Roth before I woke up, which was never at 4 a.m. To appease me, my mom would tell me to take a sanctifying bath, wear clean clothes and come and help her bake because she needed my help. Then she would ask me to hold the poppy seeds in my tiny fingers and spread it on the cookies that she rolled out. I used to feel so important and grown up, that I would even try and chant the hymns that the elders sang.

After the Roth is ready, which during my childhood days used to take a good few hours as my mom baked them one by one on a flat clay griddle using a stove; the prepared Roth are kept in a large wicker basket and covered with a muslin cloth. The lady of the house performs the Pooja and ties sacred thread around on the wrists of family members. Then she narrates a very old story mentioning why the festival of Pann Duen is held in such reverence. After everyone has offered their prayers, the Roth which is now considered a prasad, since it has the Goddess’s blessings, is offered to everyone.


When I moved away from home, my mom would send me the prasad every year and I would longingly wait for the package to arrive. When I moved from India, it became difficult for my mom to ship me the Roth. So I asked her to teach me how to make these. Since she was never a person for following recipes, she simply gave me her best guessed measures and guess what! They worked for me.

But for you all I have a tried tested and measured out recipe for this ancient cookie. I also made a few changes to the original to make it better suited for oven baking. You may substitute Ghee with butter or take a few moments to make ghee if you don’t have any. Here is how I make Ghee.

My comfort cookies come with a lot of history and a lot of longing! How about yours?

Roth -The Sacred Cookies from Kashmir

Serves: 18

Serving Size: 1

Roth -The Sacred Cookies from Kashmir


  • 4 cups All purpose flour
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 2 tbs chilled butter cut into small pieces
  • 6 tbs Ghee
  • 1/4 tsp brown cardamom powder (use only the seeds from one brown cardamom)
  • 4 tbs milk powder mixed in 4 tbs water
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup almond halves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coconut slices
  • 3 Tbs Poppy seeds


  1. Add the butter and ghee and cardamom to the flour and mix it in until the flour sort of gathers together.
  2. Add in the sugar and mix.
  3. Add water gradually and mix until the dough comes together. Do not over knead. You may not need all the water, so begin with half a cup and then a tbs at a time, until the dough comes together.
  4. Let it rest covered for about 10 minutes.
  5. Heat the oven to 375*F
  6. Roll out the dough to abut 3/8th inch thickness
  7. Cut out the cookies in desired shapes. Mine was a 6 inch round cutter.
  8. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  9. Roll out the leftover dough again and repeat the process of cutting and rolling until all the dough is used up.
  10. Take a sharp paring knife and prick the cut cookie dough rounds a few times. This ensures they don't puff up while baking.
  11. Press in the almond and coconut slices, brush with a little milk powder paste and sprinkle some poppy seeds on top.
  12. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until light brown on top.
  13. Cool on a wire rack




 Posted by on September 16, 2014 at 12:42 AM
Aug 262014
Grilled Rosemary potatoes-2



Grilled Rosemary potatoes


When people back home ask me to mention one thing that made me feel that I finally ‘belong’ in the new country that I chose as home, I don’t have to think. I know it was the first Summer Barbecue. Gathering of friends and family, silly games, laughing children, aroma of food being grilled and lots and lots of beer. It felt like summer days were meant to be celebrated like this. It felt like home.

So yes, yo guessed it right! Backyard barbecue is my favorite way to cook dinner during summer. I even sneak out in my big boots during fall to make use of the outdoor grill one last time. The flavor from the grill is something I really enjoy. It makes everyday meats and vegetables turn out delicious without much effort.

Grilled Rosemary potatoes-5

I am sure we all have our favorite recipe of grilled potatoes. After-all they are so versatile and go with any meat. What makes these grilled rosemary potatoes different is that these pack a punch. Hidden in those innocent looking potatoes is a little ground habanero. Just a little. But that little goes a long way in packing the punch.

The Grilled Rosemary Potatoes with Peruvian Sweety Drop Pepper Aioli would not be a complete dish until I talk about the Aioli or sweety drops or both.

Sweety Drop Peppers

The sweety drop peppers are drop shaped, bright red like cherry tomatoes and have a little peppery and a little tart flavor. I saw them at the olive bar a few days ago at Whole Foods and decided to get some for trying. Before I knew it, I was hooked. I kept eating them like cherry tomatoes. They pop and explode with flavor in your mouth, so an addiction is bound to happen.

The result of the said addiction was that I made an aioli with the peppers to go with the kicky grilled rosemary potatoes.

Grilled Rosemary potatoes-2

This combination is exquisite people. And if you are having a BBQ party this labor day, you MUST make these potatoes and the aioli. You will love the dish, but you will love the compliments more. This was my dish for the August Edition of the Progressive Eats. Check out what other members of our dinner party are bringing to the Summer Barbecue :-

Main Course









Grilled Rosemary potatoes-7


Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

This month’s theme is Summer Barbecue hosted by Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. You’ll love all the summertime recipes that will be perfect for your next cookout or Labor Day gathering.

Grilled Rosemary Potatoes with Peruvian Sweety Drop Pepper Aioli

Grilled Rosemary Potatoes with Peruvian Sweety Drop Pepper Aioli


    For Peruvian Sweety Drop Pepper Aioli
  • 1 tbs Sweety Drop peppers
  • 1 large egg yolk ( Pasteurized egg)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • For Grilled Rosemary Potatoes
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 1 tbs chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs chopped rosemary sprigs
  • a pinch of Habanero powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2tbs olive oil


    Make the Aioli
  1. I used my Blendtec to make the aioli. Use your food processor or blender or do it the old fashioned way.
  2. Start with mixing the egg yolk with the vinegar and salt and a little bit of oil. If you are not using a food processor, then finely chop the peppers before adding in. Add in the peppers and mix.
  3. Then add the oil in a thin stream and keep whisking until the aioli is completely emulsified.
  4. The potatoes
  5. Wash and slice the potatoes length wise into two.
  6. Put a large pot of water to boil and add salt. Once the water boils, add in the potatoes and cook them for about 5 minutes or until partially done.
  7. Drain and leave to dry out for a few minutes.
  8. Add the olive oil into a prep bowl, add in the garlic, rosemary , habanero and salt and mix.
  9. Add in the potatoes and toss to coat.
  10. Cover and leave in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
  11. Grill on a medium to high heat for a couple of minutes on each side.
  12. Serve with the aioli and some other stuff off of the grill.

Aug 182014
Breksvice- Peach cookies

Breksvice- Peach cookies


If you live in a city that goes by the name Mile High city ( Denver for you English speaking people), you know that baking at high altitude comes with a lot of challenges. And for someone like me, who had not baked before I landed in the US, it just meant that for quite a while I did not even know what on earth was going wrong with my cookies. Like any enthusiastic novice baker, I would bake batches of cakes and cupcakes and muffins and brownies and cookies. While my cakes got better and better – so much so that one friend commissioned me to bake one for her wedding, my cookie baking skills were not improving. The fact that I baked them only once a year during Holidays might have a lot to contribute to it.


My friend Holly, who writes the beautiful blog, A Baker’s House is the inspiration behind me joining the cookie Exchange. It was because of her beautiful cookies that I decided to jump into the Creative Cookie Exchange. I may not make the best cookies yet, but I will be trying to make them every month. And If I fail, I will be amongst friends of the cookie exchange who will tell me a thing or two about cookies. It is a win win!

The theme this month is Creative Uses for the Summer Bounty! Why should cookies be left out from the summer harvest? They shouldn’t! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes–be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Since this month’s theme required that we make use of summer’s bounty, peaches instantly came to my mind. August is the perfect time to enjoy fresh and juicy Palisade peaches. And as soon as they start showing up here in Denver, I start with making a peach jam. Since my peach jam was ready, my first thought was to do thumbprint cookies  with peach jam.  But that would have meant that I took the road often traveled. So I decided to try out the  Breskvice – Jam Filled, Peach Shaped Cookies. Spiked with a little booze and home made peach jam, these were a lot of fun to make and a lot of fun to eat.

I sourced the recipe from Cafe Chocolada and made a few changes to make the recipe work for high altitude. If you don’t live at high altitude, do try the recipe from Cafe Chocolada.


Breskvice – Jam Filled, Peach Shaped Cookies

Breskvice – Jam Filled, Peach Shaped Cookies


    For the cookie dough
  • 400 grams of flour
  • 150 gms butter
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • For the filling
  • cookie crumbs from the carving
  • 1/3 cup peach jam
  • 1 tbs rum
  • 1 tsp coco powder
  • 2 tbs of chopped nuts ( optional - I did not use any)
  • For coloring
  • Two small bowls filled with 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rum
  • Yellow and red food colors
  • Final process
  • fine grain sugar for rolling the cookies in - about 1/2 cup
  • Special Equipment
  • A food grade paint brush


    Make the dough
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs, sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until combined. If the dough feels dry, add in a bit of water or milk.
  2. Cover and keep refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375*F
  4. Make equal size round dough balls and line them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try and get an even number because we will be joining pairs. I got about 40 singles and finally 20 cookies from my recipe.
  5. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes. The cookies won't brown at the top so check the bottom of the cookies for a light brown tinge.
  6. Allow them to cool slightly.
  7. Core out the center of the cookies from the bottom, Take care to not break them, I used an apple corer to core out the center from each cookie. Save the crumbs for filling.
  8. We will use the crumbs mixed in with the jam to fill the cookies.
  9. Make the filling
  10. Using a fork, crumble the cookie crumbs and mix it with all ingredients of the filling. This should be a little thick so the cookie halves can stick together.
  11. Assemble the cookies
  12. Fill in the cavities of the cookies and put two cookies together joining them into a sandwich.
  13. Color the cookies
  14. Mix a few drops red in one bowl and a few drops of yellow in the other.
  15. Divide the sugar, vanilla and rum and add them equally to both the bowls of colored water. Stir to mix well
  16. With a paint brush, first color the base of the cookies in yellow. This will be the bottom edge where they are joined.
  17. Then take the red paint mix and color all over.
  18. While the cookies are still moist, roll them in sugar.
  19. Allow the cookies to rest for a few hours at room temperature (covered) and then enjoy.

Mar 262014


Just like there is no egg in eggplant, there is no melon in melonpan. Who would’ve thunk! As per the various blogs on the www, This much loved Japanese bread gets its name from the characteristic crosshatch shape the Japanese cut a melon in before serving. Here is a cute kiddie song that says there is anko (adzuki beans) in Anpan, Curry in Karepan but the melonpans don’t have any melons.


So what is a Melonpan? A type of Japanese sweet bread. The bread is a soft bun encased in a Pâte sablee . The delicate cookie-like crust, is moulded on top of the dough rolls. Since the Pate Sablee is fragile, the dough is simply pressed down into a circle and then wrapped on to the dough balls and the base of the dough left uncovered so that the dough can expand while baking. The top is then scored in a crosshatch pattern to represent the Japanese way of cutting and serving a melon. When the baking process completes, the top of the bread looks a bit crackly, just like a cantaloupe.


It is interesting to note that the name Melonpan is not of Japanese origin but rather a combination of the English word melon and the Portuguese word pan, meaning bread. The bread is popular throughout Japan.

The bread dough is typically made with flour, yeast, and sugar. These ingredients are mixed with butter, salt, and milk powder. The pastry layer includes butter, sugar, and eggs mixed with cake flour and baking powder.


Since my in laws are visiting and they are vegetarians, I could not use eggs to bake this bread which is part of the “We Knead to Bake” hosted by Aparna. I ended up changing the recipe a bit to make it eggless.

I made an egg replacer with flax seeds and put that into the bread and the pate sablee. The resulting bread tasted great, baked wonderfully and was moist with a good mouthfeel. I do feel that if I had used eggs, the resulting melonpans would have gotten a better oven spring. But nevertheless these were great!

Melonpan – Cookie Covered Bread Rolls

Melonpan – Cookie Covered Bread Rolls


    Bread Dough
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp milk powder
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cold milk
  • 45 ml flax seed egg replacer
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 25gm butter, at room temperature
  • For cookie dough:
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • A large pinch of salt
  • 60gm butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 45 ml flax seed egg replacer
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Sugar for dusting


    Make the bread dough
  1. Whisk together the flour, powdered milk, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the flax seed egg replacer and milk together until thoroughly blended. Add this liquid to the flour mixture in the bowl.
  2. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed until the dough comes together. Once the dough comes together, Increase the speed, and mix at medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the sugar.You will need to reduce the speed before adding this in. Mix until the sugar is fully incorporated. The dough will soften a little at this point. Increase the speed to medium, and knead the dough until it is glossy and supple.
  4. Now add the softened butter. Knead until mixed in, 2 or 3 minutes. Ensure the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Make the cookie dough
  7. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the flax seed egg replacer and vanilla, and beat until combined.
  8. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing at low speed just until combined. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while waiting for the dough to finish its rise.
  9. Lightly grease a large baking sheet, or line with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently deflate. Divide the dough evenly into 8 pieces. Round each piece into a ball, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Cover the dough balls loosely with lightly-oiled plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature while you get the cookie covers ready.
  11. Unwrap the cookie dough, and divide it into 8 even pieces. Roll each into a ball, keeping unused pieces covered. Press each ball into a flat circle about, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
  12. Drape each piece of cookie dough over the bread dough, being careful not to deflate the rising dough. The cookie dough should encase the top and sides, but not the bottom, of each roll. With a sharp paring knife, score each round with a crosshatch pattern.
  13. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Let the dough balls rise for about an hour and then bake for 25 minutes, or until barely golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Eat the same day for the best taste and mouthfeel.

Mar 172014
Amaranth greens Saute

Sauteed Amaranth Greens


Sautéed Amaranth greens with green garlic and peppers. What is so special about this streaky leaf that doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind if it is green or purple or red? Well for one it is easy to cook. If that isn’t reason enough, it is really delicious. And if you are greedy for more reasons – it is a Nutritional powerhouse with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, and C. And here is one more – it’s fresh and cheap. You will find these at any Asian grocery store.

Amaranth Leaves Sautee-2

It’s a beloved green leafy vegetable across India and most of the methods of cooking involve sautéing or simmering in some kind of soup or dal. It is considered a herb or a weed depending on who you are speaking with. But for many cultures it is a green leafy vegetable. It is common in Malaysia, India, Mexico, China and parts of Africa. It is usually paired with onions, garlic, peppers and very few spices. As is with so many fresh greens, amaranth greens need very little help in the form of spices and other ingredients. So how does it taste? It is almost similar in taste to spinach but renders a deep flavor and better texture after sautéing.

Amaranth Leaves Sautee

Eat it with some plain boiled long grain basmati rice. The red tinged amaranth leaves make a beautiful reddish hue around them when sauteed and it looks beautiful when paired with white rice. We also had a side of Gujarati dal to go along. Yes, I know. Many of you have been asking me for my family’s recipe of Gujarati dal and since the MIL is visiting, I have it ready for you in my next post.

Sauteed amaranth Greens

Till then Happy eating. Stay Healthy. Keep Smiling!

Stay Blessed!



Sauteed Amaranth Greens

Sauteed Amaranth Greens


  • 4 Cups Washed and chopped Amaranth leaves ( Packed)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1/2 c chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbs green garlic chopped (or use 2 tsp regular garlic)
  • 2-3 Thai Green chillies, sliced length wise ( keep seeds in for more heat, else remove the seeds)
  • 2 Anaheim peppers cut into roundels
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil, add in cumin and wait for it to crackle.
  2. Add in the onions and garlic and saute until translucent.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, peppers, green chillies, turmeric and sautee until slightly cooked.
  4. Now add in the amaranth leaves, salt and stir to combine and cook until completely wilted and the moisture dries up.
  5. Sprinkle the chili flakes if using, mix in and serve.


It is recommended to not heat the Amaranth leaves once cooked. So if you want to eat it hot cook it just before serving. they do taste great cold as well.

 Posted by on March 17, 2014 at 4:16 PM
Mar 092014
Sweet Potato and Black Bean salad

Sweet Potato Salad

For those busy days when time seems to fly, I rely heavily on salads. Especially a salad like  sweet potato and black bean salad. Filling, nutritious salads that look lively and feel like a smile on a plate are the ones I feel pulled towards. I love eating root vegetables and while I do make simple, everyday Indian curries out of those, I also love to use the root veggies in Salads. They are quick to cook , can be cooked ahead of time and the salads can be made ahead of time.

In addition to the root vegetables being really flavorful they are chock full of nutrition. The sweet potato and black bean salad with avocado lemon cilantro dressing is a quick grab and go meal that is also nutrient dense.  I usually keep a few sweet potatoes baked or boiled in the fridge and put together a dish using them, especially on busy days.  For this salad I  add in some creamy deliciousness of an avocado and earthy beans, some smoky cumin and let them have some fun together. Then bring in some lime, cilantro, salt and chillies and you have a lip smacking dish that you would be proud to present to company. Only that you may not always want to share.

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 C red onions diced
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Thai green chilli
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 c cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Avocado diced
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin


  1. 1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 1/2 tsp coconut oil (warmed) , toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast until potatoes begin to brown and are tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
  3. 2. Put the cilantro, chili and the olive oil in a blender add in lemon juice,some salt and pepper and the cumin. Process until blended.
  4. 3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans; toss in the dressing . Add in the avocado just before serving and toss once more.


 Posted by on March 9, 2014 at 11:11 PM