comfort food

Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauce” Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
George Eliot

Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauce.  Autumns here. There’s a nip in the early morning air, and the nights are getting cooler each passing day. The weather’s changing and suddenly earthy, warm, spicy feels good. I love the way one season gives way to another, inspiring you to move from one ingredient to ingredient, light spices to moorish ones. Fall is in the air. With it cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace all dance in the air with heady aromas.Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauceThe tin of pumpkin pie spice calls my name come October. It’s a strange connect and a warm one too. Felt like a Pumpkin Pie Spice and Walnut Loaf Cake with Buttermilk Frosting was to be baked again. I did shift gears suddenly. All thanks to a rather late discovery over the past couple of years, the sweet potato. This very humble root vegetable, earthy, flavourful, unassuming, surprisingly sweet and quite delicious, offers immense possibilities.Old DelhiSweet potatoes are also a quintessential part of Old Delhi, especially in winter. Street carts piled high with sweet potatoes roasted in coal, that taste is quite unparalleled, best enjoyed then and there. Chopped up and tossed in lime juice and a typical chaat masala, or spice mix, I don’t bother recreating that at home. It’s the ambiance of the old city that adds to the flavour! So at home it is often a salad, tikkis, oven roasted fries {absolutely delicious}. Then 2 days ago, this cake happened. Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauceI tried to keep it a whole food cakesweet potato puree + brown sugar + whole wheat flour + homemade sweet butter. An experiment with fingers crossed. An experiment off an earlier wholegrain pound cake recipe. You will notice optional walnuts in the ingredients listed. I was never really sure how edible the cake would turn out to be, so I skipped them. It turned out unexpectedly delicious. Moist, full of flavour and even better the next day. Was even good cold out of the fridge. An earthy rustic treat!Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauceThe deep dark salted butter caramel sauce made a good experiment better! That I am addicted to it is all the fault of the Cookaroo. She swears by this sauce from Smitten Kitchen and is never far from deliciousness. It’s  fabulous to store in the fridge. Drizzle over just about anything to add to the oomph. Reminds me  of the chewy taffy that the nuns used to sell at the tuck shop at school in Bangalore. Also of the gooey insides of the 5 Star bars that fascinated and tempted the sweet tooth when young.  The salted edge is what makes this sauce a winner. Must warn you that it is very addictive, and can burn the greedy tasters tongue. Pairs beautifully with cakes and especially fall flavours – pears, apple, pumpkins,walnuts …
Wild figs goolar

Autumn produce - Sweet Potato, Wild figsDid I forget figs? With fall here, the produce is changing. Exciting times ahead as far as food goes. I am having a field day literally! With the camera my trusted companion, this cannot be a better time of the year for moody shooters like me. From buying up sweet potatoes like there’s no tomorrow, to foraging wild figs {goolar}, autumn is keeping me busy.Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauce

[print_this]Recipe:  Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauce
Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauce

Summary: Sweet Potato Pound Cake with salted butter caramel sauce. A whole food cake – sweet potato puree + brown sugar + whole wheat flour + homemade sweet butter. The cake turned out unexpectedly delicious. Moist, full of flavour and even better the next day. Even good cold out of the fridge. An earthy rustic treat!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • Sweet Potato Pound Cake
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 250g sweet potato puree {I boiled and mashed 2 small ones}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 150g whole wheat flour
  • 50g walnuts, chopped {optional}
  • Deep dark salted butter caramel sauce
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 70g salted butter
  • 60g low fat cream


  1. Sweet Potato Pound Cake
  2. Grease well 1 X 6″ and 2 mini heavy duty bundt tins {or a 7″ spring form tin}
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  4. Place butter, sugar and sweet potato puree in  a big bowl and beat well at high speed until smooth, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Beat in vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda.
  6. Beat in eggs one by one.
  7. Fold in the walnuts if using, and whole wheat flour in 4-5 lots.
  8. Turn into prepared tins.
  9. Bake at 180C for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
  10. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out gently onto a rack to cool.
  11. Pour over about 1/2 cup of salted butter caramel sauce, and top with walnuts if desired.
  12. Deep dark salted butter caramel sauce
  13. Place the sugar in a deep heavy bottom saucepan and melt over medium low heat until dark amber. Swirl around if needed.
  14. Add the cream and butter together. Be careful as it will splutter at first before it comes together. Stir to combine. Pour into a jug once warm else store in a jar. You might need to heat it gently before serving as it tends to harden in the fridge. {Can be made ahead}


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“Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.”
Auguste Escoffier

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup Mushrooms and Onion Scapes Soup … for the soul! I was completely mesmerised by the onion scapes I bought at the local bazaar. I love this fantastic season. Each time I step into the overflowing fruit and vegetable shop, I rediscover seasonal produce from last year. That day two large bunches of scapes stared at me, and again, shouting my name out LOUD!

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup How could I resist it? I asked the guy for a few stalks, and he packed the whole bunch off with me. Said, “Take the whole bunch. I know you’ll do something with it. All yours!!” Seriously, they are beautiful. I put some in a milk-jug and they began opening into the most beautiful flowers a while later.

onion scapesWasn’t very sure what I’d with so many, but knew how pretty they would look in a vase! Sometimes the real beauty of nature comes from flowers like these. I love them! A discussion with Man Friday followed where he declared these were garlic scapes. A nibble later, I figured they were definitely more oniony than garlicky. 

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup 550 Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup I had mushroom soup on my mind that morning. With the weather nippy all over again, soups offer the ultimate comfort; a healthy option, even better. This one is simple, uses staple pantry ingredients, and can go gluten free too.

Mushroom and Onion Scape SoupIn the past I have made it with mushrooms, potato and a generous amount of fresh coriander. The base is often milk and some vegetable stock as I usually have a large jar of homemade stock in the fridge. When I feel indulgent, you can find me pouring in some low fat cream too! Oh and often walnuts to add texture…

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup Some onion scapes needed a more handy alternative to sitting in the milk jug as it was rather full. The soup offered the perfect destination. As I said, you can pretty much play around with the ingredients. Is fun!

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup I did something else with the soup too that night. I was making breaded chicken fillets for the kids. Instead of doing the normal egg, flour and breadcrumbs coating assembly line, I sneaked some soup into a bowl. Dunked the Italian seasoning marinated breast fillets first into soup, then into wholewheat home made breadcrumbs, and shallow fried the fillets.

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup While the son enjoyed his in burgers, the ‘constantly on a diet’ daughter ate crumb fried fillets with char grilled broccoli. The son came back to say these were the best tasting burgers ever! “Really nice Mama!” Must have been the soup!! Soup has been the call this  winter! Loads of it.

Handi cookingSo what’s your favourite comfort or soul food in winter? Do you make soup from scratch? I did an amazing Smokey Roasted Tomato Soup {pictured above} for a client I am developing recipes for. Heard the other day that a friend was making pumpkin and peanut butter soup. I was completely intrigued. I guess it’s time to explore more soups as winter is still here.

Handi cookingAnd before I scoot, it’s time to announce the winner {s} of the Nirlep giveaway on my blog. A 1000 apologies for the delay, but I was travelling a little bit, and now the elder teen has her board exams. Between driving her up and down, and feeding her ‘comfort food’ on demand 24 X 7, there seems to be little time to blog!

Handi cooking Food however is always cooked in the PAB household, so the handi has been put to good use. I am really happy to have received it for review because I didn’t know what I was missing! The Nirlep handi is very very versatile indeed. From cooking pasta until al dente to making pasta and pizza sauces, to numerous rounds of steamed bathua leaves or chenopodium{or lamb’s quarter}of bathua ka raita, to delicious stir fried chicken mince, then meatballs too, I have seriously used it a lot!

Nirlep Anodized Cookware

I am thrilled to offer one as a giveaway that was announced when I reviewed the utensil.  The winner of the Ebony Handi is Swapna Mickey. Since we had a load on entries, Nirlep offered to send Nirlep Cookware to two more participants. They are Reeta Skeeter and Manjeet Kaur. Congratulations ladies and thank you so much for joining the giveaway {and for waiting so patiently}. Will mail you shortly.

[print_this]Recipe: Mushroom and Onion Scapes Soup your picture

Summary: Soul satisfying, rich and creamy without extra calories, Mushroom and Onion Scapes Soup is pure comfort food for winter. Serve with a chargrilled broccoli salad, oven wedges, crumb fried chicken / fish, some crusty bread, maybe a green salad. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 onion scapes, chopped
  • 200g button mushroom, chopped
  • 1 green chili, halved {optional}
  • 1 small potato, diced
  • small bunch fresh coriander
  • 450ml low fat milk
  • 1 tsp cornflour {dissolved in 1 tsp cold milk}
  • 150ml water {or vegetable stock}
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Stove top
  2. Heat oil in the handi or a heavy bottom pan. Add the onion and garlic and sweat until light pink. Add the onion scapes and saute briefly.
  3. Now add the mushroom, chili and potato. Saute for a minute.
  4. Add the milk and water / stock. and simmer covered for about 20 minutes until the potato is cooked.
  5. Stir in the cornflour mix and stir until the soup thickens. You can skip the cornflour for a GF version. Reduce the water/stock, or add it only if required.
  6. Add salt to taste. Take off heat once the desired consistency has been reached. Puree with an immersion blender once it’s cool enough to do so.
  7. Thermomix version
  8. Place onion, garlic and onion scapes in TM bowl and process for a few seconds on speed 5 to chop.
  9. Drizzle in olive oil and cook on 100C, reverse speed 1 for 3 minutes.
  10. Add whole mushrooms and a quartered potato and run on speed 5 for a few seconds until chopped.
  11. Add the milk, cornflour, salt and water. Stir for 10 seconds on reverse speed2.
  12. Cook to 15 minutes on reverse speed 2 at 90C.
  13. Blend at speed 10 for 1 minute to puree.


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“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple…”
J.K. Rowling

GF Apple Pistachio Craisin Crumble ... with oats and finger millet {ragi}GF Apple Pistachio Craisin Crumble … you might have noticed a shift towards whole grains here on PAB. We all learn over time, and we all notice health trends. It’s been a while since I’ve used all purpose flour in my food. Savoury Phyllo Pot PiesThat was of course until I succumbed to two things … the Daring Bakers savoury pot pies challenge above {the post yet to see light of day}, followed by baklava {below} since I made double the amount of phyllo pastry! BaklavaWith autumn finally setting in, our days of apple crumbles, pumpkin pies, soups and the like have set in too. There’s a definite nip in the air and the wind is becoming colder by the day! Winter already seems just a heartbeat away!


GF Apple Pistachio Craisin Crumble ... with oats and finger millet {ragi} 2I gave up wheat almost 7 months ago as I thought I was allergic to it. 6 months later, even though the pounds haven’t fallen off as many peeps claim, I am feeling better. Yet, me giving up wheat was different. You see, I don’t have a sweet tooth, so desserts, or the lack of them, don’t bother me.

GF Apple Pistachio Craisin Crumble ... with oats and finger millet {ragi} Inspired by me and troubled by a few minimal health issues, Mr PAB decided to follow suit. That spelt trouble for me. Me I can take care of. He is another ball game altogether. The mains I can handle. It’s the desserts that bother me at times. This was a crumble I made for him, having scouted the local shops for finger millet flour.

GF Apple Pistachio Craisin Crumble ... with oats and finger millet {ragi} Interestingly it came out quite delicious and went down rather well with the rest of the sweet-toothed bunch too. They love everything apple in dessert, and this got a thumbs up. I did throw in some pistachios and cranberries for colour as otherwise finger millet {ragi} lends a rather dull tone to the crumble.

Dark chocolate Buckwheat roasted almond browniesAmaranth chocolate cakeI did Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Almond Brownies and an Amaranth Chocolate Cake recently, the latter not my own recipe though. Both wonderful. I am clearly enjoying the challenge! Suddenly everything seems gluten free! {You can find more gluten free recipes here}. Any GF dessert {and breakfast of course} suggestions are welcome with open arms. 

Gluten free dessertsNext on my list is was amaranth brownies since I recently bought some amaranth flour. My previous experiment with amaranth brownies with amaranth that I tried to grind at home resulted in a slightly granular texture. This time around they came out great!

Khari Baoli, Old DelhiThis post has been sitting for quite a while in drafts. I made the crumble after a recent trip to Khari Baoli in Old Delhi. Khari Baoli, Asia’s biggest spice market is fascinating, chaotic, colourful, loud, noisy and a shoppers paradise for folk like me. I stocked up on my supply of dry fruits and garam masalas. Khari Baoli, Old Delhi

[print_this]Recipe: GF Apple Pistachio Craisin Crumbleyour picture

Summary: A comforting fall/winter dessert with the goodness of fruit. This GF Apple Pistachio Craisin Crumble is a good make ahead dessert option. Rewarm it in the oven for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • Apple mix
  • 300g green apples, cored, peeled, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 25g finger millet flour
  • 50g chopped pistachio and craisins {or raisins}, mixed
  • Crumble Topping
  • 50g finger millet flour
  • 50 g oats
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 25g chopped pistachio and craisin mix


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Toss all the ingredients in the apple mix together well. Place in pie plate or baking tin.
  3. Topping
  4. Run the finger millet, oats and sugar in the processor briefly to mix. Cut in the butter {or pulse briefly} to distribute evenly through topping.
  5. Sprinkle over the apple mix, pressing firmly into place. Sprinkle over the reserved pistachio craisin mix.
  6. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the top is lightly coloured. Tent with foil if the top looks like it’s colouring too quick.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of chilled unsweetened low fat cream. {The kids love it cold too}


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