Am sure you experience it too .. the burgeoning of small businesses all around us. In the past few months, I have been introduced to so many of them. From those working directly with the weavers of Varanasi to one that is pioneering India's first range of organic and artisanal chocolate. I have bought from social enterprises that are helping women stand on their feet to businesses where an individual has taken a leap of faith to strike out on their own, with only their passion as their surety. And it's been an inspiring coincidence that so many of them have a woman behind the enterprise.
What strikes me most is to see the level of detail and care and planning that goes into these businesses. Beside their core product, be it the brand name or the packaging or their social media presence, there is so much soul and feeling that goes into it and invariably, it is an extension of the entrepreneur's personality. So, it is always a delight to meet the person behind the brand.
So, I was tickled when a friend launched her own wellness company, 'Pahadi Local', that is dedicated to sourcing natural products from the hills. J, is an old friend from college who has found her mojo as a serial entrepreneur and it's a fascinating journey, which you can read here. The first products to be launched are 'Gutti ka Tel' - pure, unadulterated apricot kernel oil and 'Khal' - an apricot scrub made from the residue after the oil is extracted.
While shamelessly plugging a friend's business comes with the territory of being an old friend, these are also products I personally use and vouch for. I have dry, sensitive and extremely moody skin, ever since I was a child and that's taught me two lessons. One, the skin should be well moisturised at all times and second, only use products that are natural and stay wary of anything artificial and chemical. Mess with these two points and it's not been pretty!
The apricot kernel oil works on both counts, especially when the season changes to Winter and the skin can do with all the help it can get. It really rejuvenates your skin and rest assured, it is so pure and safe that it is used by babies and pregnant women. Anyhow, that's my personal experience with 'Gutti ka tel' and I'd recommend, if nothing else that you at least connect with 'Pahadi Local' to know about their products.
Talking about Winter, the past few weeks have seemed as further away from it as can be. It's been to the point of being uncomfortably hot. But, on this blog, we like to play pretend every once in a while and so, made these orange and cranberry muffins that Isidora Popovic describes as 'appealing on a cold winter's morning'.
These are zesty, citrusy, moist orange muffins that are packed with cranberries and topped off with pistachios. They are good for the morning as they are not too sweet and citrusy flavour is a great pick-me-up. Unfortunately, I had to make do with dried cranberries but just imagine how pretty these would be with the fresh ones.
Now, I would love to hear if you or someone close to you has been involved in an interesting start up. Hope you're having a good week!!
Note: You can connect with Pahadi Local on their Facebook page or on +91-75064 69522
Orange and Cranberry Muffins
Makes 6 large muffins
- 2 eggs
- 80 gms demerara caster sugar
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 unwaxed orange
- 150 gms plain flour
- 2 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 100 gms fresh or frozen or dried cranberries
- 50 gms fresh or frozen or dried cranberries
- a handful of shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
- light brown/demerara sugar, to sprinkle
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.
- In a large mixing bowl, measure out the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and zest and mix with a hand whisk until smooth.
- In another bowl, measure out the flour and baking powder and mix together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Stir in the cranberries until evenly mixed.
- Do not overmix the mixture as it will yield tough and dense muffins. Don't worry if the mixture seems a tad dry.
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, about 2/3 full of the muffin cases.
- Scatter the cranberries and pistachio nuts for the topping over the muffins and finish with a sprinkling of sugar.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes and do not open the oven door while baking. When done they should have risen and be springy to the touch.
- Best eaten warm but left over muffins should be stored in the fridge and refreshed with a quick flash in the microwave.