Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chandigarh - The City Beautiful

I can never ever forget my first visit to Chandigarh. I was in awe - clean, organised and beautiful sites here and there. It was like a dreamland. It went in 1992 and I stayed there for 10 days. Every time I went out of my cousin’s house, I discovered something or other amazing about - The City Beautiful. Parks and mini markets in every pocket of sector mesmerised me. Even the concept of ‘sectors’ was new. I never heard of ‘sectors’ before. Chandigarh stands out on the map of our country on many grounds.

It is one of the most organised cities in the world. Planned and designed by French architect Le Corbusier, the city is divided into sectors. A lesser known fact is that the earlier layout of the city was created by the Polish architect Maciej Nowicki and the American planner Albert Mayer. As the layout is on the concept of sectors, it has space for everything. There are designated markets, playgrounds, mini markets, green areas in front of houses and proper road network for cars and manual vehicles. Chandigarh has the third largest green area in our country, followed by Lakshadweep and Goa. In terms of design, Chandigarh is a perfect city. Over the years, city administration has upgraded it. Many changes are incorporated to uplift the city in terms of design. Like - Motor Market is moved from Sector 23 to the outer sectors of the city; and separate pathways for rickshaws and cycles are made.

If you ever lived or been to the city, you would know by now the spirit behind it. Chandigarh residents take pride in their city. Drive both literally and philosophically is amazing in Chandigarh. Drive - in matter of ease on road, rules and connection is best in the country. There is a proper system on roads which everyone adheres to. You will have best and stress-free driving experience in the city. Be careful if you are an outsider, traffic police is rather strict. Philosophically speaking, residents of this city have the energy and resolute to maintain it. You won’t find people littering. People abide to the rules. The city is beautiful because each of its residents make a conscious effort to maintain it. It is driven by the spirit of people. Year after year, city has seen many positive changes on its map - better hotels, infrastructure, hospitals and MNCs are added in the last decade.

Chandigarh is in the heart of Haryana and Punjab, and it is adjacent to Himachal. Plus, it’s a few hours drive from our Nation’s capital. City is well connected with roads. Though the rail and air network is not that great, but there are many big changes coming soon. International Airport will be fully functional in a couple of years. Commuting to and fro from the city is easy. And, so is internal travel. There is a good network of AC and Non-AC buses, which is very remarkable and clean. In terms of connection, it’s good, but has a scope of improvement.

In all, Chandigarh is a quaint and clean city. I would love to retire and spend the latter years of my life there. What about you? Which is your favorite city in India?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Eggless Date Cake With 'Less' Calories

On our last anniversary I made this Black Forest cake. 

In case you missed the subtle hint, I made it from scratch. Yes, I baked two cakes, made icing and decorated it. It felt like an accomplishment as I did it from the first time, I had no instruments for decorating it. I used whatever I had in my kitchen. My husband loved it. Tomorrow is my birthday and I thought of baking my very famous Dates Cake. As I am on a weight loss program, I thought of making it in a healthy way. So, here’s what I did -

Ingredients -

Dates - 8-10
Milk - 1 Cup
Sugar free - ½ Cup
All Purpose Flour - 1 Cup
Refined Oil - ¾ Cup
Baking Powder - 1 ½  Tablespoon
Nuts - To Garnish

Method -

Finely chop the dates and soak them in lukewarm milk overnight. If you are in a hurry, boil the milk and soak it for half an hour.

Blend milk and dates, and make a smooth paste.

Add refined oil and sugar free to this paste and give your mixer another swirl or two.

Pour this in a bowl. Now the actual work begins - first sieve all purpose flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Now in this date-milk-sugar-refined oil mix, add one spoon at a time and mix it properly. Working in this manner, add the entire flour and baking powder mix. Reason behind doing it this way is to mix it properly. If you have a big mixer for cakes. Your work is a lot easier. Otherwise, toil like me.

Now, grease your pan with oil and pour the cake mix into it. Gently tap the pan on the floor or your shelf to let the air bubbles escape. This helps in rising when the baking is in process. In the end, garnish it with chopped nuts. I like it nut-free.

Pre-heat your oven or OTG to 180 degrees celsius and bake it for 15-20 minutes. You will see that the cake rises and when the top is dark brown (as compared to what it was before), take a tooth-pick and insert it in the middle to check whether its done or not. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done. Take it out of the oven and let it cool.

When your cake is cooled down, take a plate and flip the cake on it. If the cake is nicely baked, it will look like this -

So, this is what I made for my birthday. Try this at home, it is the best recipe of Eggless Cake that I’ve ever tried. Plus, sugar free!