Sep 30, 2015

Chocolate Marbled Energy Bars

Breakfast is the most neglected meal of the day. On busy weekday mornings, most people are in a great rush to reach workplaces, schools, just about anywhere. No wonder then, that, people do not spare time for breakfast. Yet, starting a day without breakfast just works against what we set out to achieve. We are more likely to be zapped of energy and enthusiasm early into the workday. To help us perform better at our tasks, a healthy breakfast is vital. If so, would it not be wonderful if we could have breakfast on the go? Enter granola bars, energy bars, muesli bars. Call them by any name. They are just as convenient, delicious and perfect snacks or meal on the go.

Energy bars can be made ahead, store well, and can be packed as breakfast on the go, or anytime snacks, or on road trips, picnic munchies. They are great for a pre workout or a post workout snack too.

I came across these chocolate marbled energy bars first in ‘Chocolate’ by Delia Smith. The book is filled with decadent chocolate based recipes. However, these energy bars were the ones that caught my eyes first. I tweaked around the ingredients and proportions to suit my requirement. I have substituted the condensed milk with brown sugar/jaggery syrup. You could add both the condensed milk and jaggery syrup to increase the richness of the energy bar too. If using condensed milk, keep the total liquid at the same volume as mentioned in this recipes. I have added popped amaranth seeds to add a good protein to the bar. The only part I have left unchanged is the beautiful marbled chocolate topping! I had to work on the recipe a few times to get a proportion that works best. One that gave just the right hint of sweetness, and had just enough liquid to solid ratio to bake well. I also made sure that the baked energy bars could be cut into neat squares!

Healthy Chocolate marbled Energy Bars

I am sure you are eager to get to the recipe and make some for yourself too. So here goes…


  • Has gluten from oats. NOT SUITABLE for people with gluten intolerance. Substitute oats with total 5 cups rice flakes to make it gluten free. 
  • This recipe does NOT contain lactose. Suitable for people with lactose intolerance. However, adding condensed milk will bring lactose into the recipe.
  • Does NOT contain corn, soya, eggs.
  • Contains nuts. Omit nuts if you have nut allergy.

Preparation Time – 20 minutes, Cooking Time – 30 minutes, Makes 9 squares


COOKWARE – Convection oven, 8 inch square baking tray, baking paper to line tray, deep mixing bowl, rubber spatula, sauce pan, 2 glass bowls, steel fine mesh filter, sharp knife


  1. 4 cups quick cooking oats
  2. 1 cup popped amaranth seeds
  3. 1 cup thin rice flakes (poha, aval, attukulu, avalakki)
  4. 1 cup deseeded, chopped sweet dates
  5. 1/2 cup dried cranberries/strawberries/blueberries (optional)
  6. 1/4 cup chopped walnuts/almonds
  7. 1 cup powdered jaggery/brown sugar
  8. 1/2 cup drinking water
  9. 1/2 cup dark cooking chocolate
  10. 1/2 cup white cooking chocolate


  1. Bring the water to boil in a saucepan, add the jaggery, mix and let it rest for a few minutes for the jaggery to dissolve. When the jaggery has dissolved completely, strain through the mesh filter to remove impurities. Collect the jaggery solution in the deep mixing bowl.
  2. To the bowl add the oats, popped amaranth, rice flakes, dates, dried berries (if using), and nuts. Mix all the ingredients together until the liquid has coated all dry ingredients.
  3. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  4. Line the baking tray with paper leaving an overhang.
  5. Pat the mixture into the tray, pressing down firmly with a rubber spatula. Make sure there are no dry bits of ingredients on the surface. If needed, sprinkle a few drops of water on top to moisten, and pat down again.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 20-23 minutes.
  7. Remove and cool the tray on a cooling rack. Do not remove granola from tray. Cool for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Chop the dark and white cooking chocolate into different glass bowls. Microwave in bursts of 20-30 seconds until just beginning to melt. Do not overheat the chocolate, stop heating when there a few bits of chocolate left to melt. Keep stirring with a metal spoon, to get a smooth melted chocolate.
  9. Spoon both the dark and white melted chocolate alternately in a wave pattern over the baked granola. Drag wavy lines using a fork tip or toothpick to create marbled patterns while chocolate is still wet. Tap the tray sharply on the counter top a few times for chocolate to even out.
  10. Place the tray in the fridge to set quickly.
  11. After half an hour, remove from fridge and set on counter top. Wait for the chocolate layer to warm up to room temperature a bit. I left it on the countertop for 10 minutes. Room temperature at my home is around 23C-25C. Cut into 9 squares with a sharp knife. If the chocolate layer seems to crack rather than cut up, wait for some more time and then cut up. The marbled energy bars are ready.
  12. Store in air-tight box. Stays good for at least 1 week, maybe more. I never got a chance to find out! Pack in baking paper for road trips or any place out of home. These marbled energy bars are great for breakfast on the go, for school snack boxes, for pre or post workout snacks, as well as a healthy snack option.

Guilt free healthy snacks

Notes -

  • Diabetics may/may not be able to eat these energy bars. Remember although the recipe uses jaggery, there is more sugar in the dates as well as chocolate. Omitting the chocolate could bring the sugar content of the energy bars lower.
  • The energy bars cut up neatly if baked through well. Also wait patiently for the top chocolate layer to set before cutting into squares.
  • Do not over heat the chocolate. Stop heating when three fourths of the chocolate is melted. Keep stirring in a circular motion, in the same direction for a smooth glossy chocolate.

Sep 10, 2015

The Indian Culinary Route

Marriott Whitefield, Bangalore is hosting a week long Indian Food Festival. Giving you one more fabulous reason to visit them and indulge in specialty gastronomic adventures. Chefs have been flown in from different Marriott properties from across the country for this week alone. Thus, it is India on a platter for guests all through the week. A few food bloggers were invited to kick-start the ‘Indian Culinary Route Extravaganza.’

Visiting Marriott Chefs with Judge

Kick-start we did and how! Bloggers were divided into teams under different chefs. Each team had to prepare a regional delicacy. The twist in the tale came in the form of handcuffs! All chefs were handcuffed, were only allowed to instruct and guide, but cannot twirl pans, or cook. The vegetarians amongst us grouped ourselves into one team. Excited that the dish to be prepared was ‘Gatte ki Subzi’, we set off in all earnest.

Food Bloggers with Chefs in Cuffs

Dough mixed, vegetables chopped, the huge ‘lagan’ was set on stove top. Under Chef Ranjit Singh’s expert and patient guidance, we kept  throwing in ingredients into the lagan amidst the din and chaos of several teams hollering across to each other! Much friendly fire and competitive spirit between the teams, kept up the temperature as if the heat from the live kitchen was not enough. Soon enough our Gatte ki Subzi began to take shape. We kept gazing at our dish with ‘motherly pride’ for we had coaxed and nurtured the sabzi to excellence!

Busy in the kitchen Always have time for selfies! Engrossed in Gatte-cutting!

Soon enough, the dishes were lined up for the judge to choose the best. Suresh Hinduja, prominent member on the Bangalore food scene, and a great cook himself, was the judge for the day. I did not envy him even for a moment, for each team had outdone itself in effort and passion. While I would have loved to end this tale with an ending that the Gatte ki Subzi stole the thunder from all other entries, had people swooning over it, and so on,…. sadly, the tale did not end thus! Kerala Roast Chicken was judged the best for its perfect cooking, great balance of spices and hence the best dish.

The Gatte ki subzi

The proud Team members with Chef Ranjit Singh

All were treated to a sumptuous lunch, pampered by the attentive staff of Marriott, Whitefield. Perfectly flaky Malabar Parathas, Red Matta rice cooked to soft grainy perfection, white rice and rotis were chosen to accompany the brilliant curries, dals, Salan and Raita. If this lunch is anything to go by, folks, do yourself a favour and make your reservations for this Indian Culinary Route week.

Sep 6, 2015

Aval Payasam

Wishing all readers a happy Janmashtami. Praying for more love, peace and happiness in all your homes.

“Pathram Pushpam Phalam Toyam Yo Me Bhaktya Prayachati Tad Aham Bhaktyupahritam Ashnami Prayatatmanaha.” “If one offers to me with Love and devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.” Bhagwad Gita, 9.26.

The humble aval, poha, beaten rice has a legendary status in Lord Krishna’s life. His childhood friend, Sudama, redeemed himself by offering a handful of beaten rice when they met after several years. It is said that Lord Krishna relished this offering of Love and Surrender so much that Sudama’s poverty stricken home was turned into a palace of riches, after the Lord accepted this offering.

Here is a recipe for Aval Payasam for Janmashtami. Let us try to make it and offer it to the Lord with single-minded devotion and Love. For He is most fond of a devotee’s Love.

Payasam fit for the Gods 


  • Contains milk (lactose). Not suitable for lactose intolerant people.
  • Does not contain gluten, soya, corn.

Preparation time – 10 minutes, Cooking time – 30 minutes,  Serves - 4


COOKWARE – Heavy bottomed sauce pan, ladle


  1. 1/4 cup red aval/poha/beaten rice*
  2. 1 litre whole milk
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon ghee


  1. *Aval can be thick or medium aval. Do not use thin flat aval. If using thick aval, rinse under running water and soak for 10 minutes. If using medium aval, rinse under running water and add directly to boiling milk.
  2. Bring the whole milk to boil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Once the milk is on a rolling boil, drain water from the soaking aval, and add the soaked/rinsed aval to the milk. Keep stirring over low to medium flame to avoid charring at the bottom of the pan. Keep mashing the aval as you stir. This lends a creamy texture to the payasam.
  3. When the milk is reduced to half its volume, switch off flame and add sugar. Stir in the sugar gently until fully dissolved.
  4. Return milk to flame, keep stirring over medium to high flame for 4-5 minutes more.
  5. Switch off flame and cover with a tight lid.
  6. Add 1/4 teaspoon of ghee before offering this to God.
  7. Creamy aval payasam tastes good hot or at room temperature.

Red Aval Payasam