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Economics of Gold

@Musingsbysonalkatyal

All that Glitters is not always Good . This is true in case of Gold which happens to be the most loved commodity . How does Gold market works?

Price of gold is determined by:

  1. Supply of gold
  2. Demand for use in goods such as jewellery.
  3. Speculative demand to hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty.

Gold in India

Gold is an investment which people make for three reasons.

Transaction: Traders purchase gold for trade purposes. During festival season and marriage season gold sale goes up so they keep adequate stock to meet high demand.Precautionary: People invest in gold for precautionary reasons such as for  marriage. 

Precautionary : People Invest in gold for precautionary reasons such as marriage.

Speculative: Those who have extra wealth invest in gold for making extra gain. Some people also convert their wealth to gold to avoid high taxation.

In India , Gold is the second commodity after oil which contributes significantly to the widening of the current account deficit . India is one of the largest importers of gold globally. As much as 90% of the country’s gold demand is met from import as indigenous production of gold as a proportion of India’s total demand is very limited.

 

In fact , to reduce the high import demand for gold which resulted in bloated India’s current account deficit to a record 4.8% of gross domestic product in 2012-13, the Union government had raised the import duty on gold from 2 to 10% .

Why Gold prices were at an all time high despite Global Economic Slowdown in 2020?

Gold is a safe haven and continues to be a rare commodity as its supply has not increased significantly over the years. Thus, gold prices doesn’t fluctuate as much as equities or money markets do and it is a safe bet, even in tumultuous times.

Due to economic slowdown, high inflation, weakening currencies, a fall in stock markets and other investment options, investors are known to flock to gold to use it as a hedge against inflation. As per last Monetary policy report by RBI , gold prices move in tandem with heightened economic policy uncertainty.

Goldman Sachs said in a report that fear-driven investment demand in developed countries has contributed about 18% increase in gold prices and 8% in emerging countries.

Historically, when the global recession hit in 2008, gold prices more than doubled from 2008 to September 2011.

Over the years, experts have noted that gold has positive price elasticity, which means that as more people buy gold and demand increases, the price also increases.

Low interest rates too, increase the demand for gold. Currently central banks of most countries are cutting interest rates in a bid to put more money into the hands of people. Analysts believe that liquidity in markets always helps gold prices. Also, lower interest rates usually mean lower return on investments, thus making investors turn to gold.

However, it is pertinent to note that investors flocking to gold doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers too, are buying more gold.

Gold is considered an investment, especially in a country like India, because it a commodity whose value can be preserved over time and doesn’t deteriorate much, even physically. It is also very liquid and doesn’t carry a credit risk.  

However, the economic slowdown in the country has led to massive job losses and the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown restrictions have also meant smaller weddings, and jewellery stores being closed for a prolonged time. This has led to the demand for buying physical gold and gold ornaments falling in India.

These factors, along with rising prices, only means that the demand to buy gold in India is likely to be muted at least for the next year.

 

Why sudden drop in Gold Prices?

Reduction in custom duty to 7.5 per cent from 12 per cent.

Increase in investors appetite

Gold tends to drop when the rupee gains since the US dollar to buy it from abroad is lower.The appreciation of the rupee has lowered the prices of gold by ₹700-800 (per 10 gm)

 

To Conclude , India’s Obsession with Gold is actually a weakness and not a strength .

 

The above information is taken from various blogs , newspaper articles and reports.

 

Tips to Mitigate Financial Anxiety

@musingsbysonalkatyal
Create an essentials only list of expenditure – Currently most of us know what are our basic requirements are as we spending on essentials only . Reflect on these expenses .
Create a Budget so that you don’t feel overwhelmed in the coming months– Based on your current consumption basket , plan a budget for next 6 months.
Make a list of financial habits that you would like to form – Start with a new financial habit and you will be able to cut costs .
Finish the investment task that you have been avoiding– Complete money related tasks such as bank accounts, demat accounts , mutual funds , insurance policies etc.
Follow right kind of people on social media who can help you in better decision making– This is very helpful as we spend so much time on social media and by following right set of people we can learn a lot about the global markets which can help in wise financial decisions.

 

 

Negative Oil Prices – Reality or Illusion ?

Oil prices are determined under the free market equilibrium meaning that oil prices are determined by demand and supply . Due to global pandemic , supply is more than demand and hence the prices of oil have fallen. 

Oil market doesn’t fully operate like this as most of oil supply is controlled by OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Nations) which is a cartel of oil producing nations. On the other hand, demand for oil is governed majorly by gasoline for cars and airline travel to electrical generation.

In 2019, US was the world’s largest oil-producing country with more than 12 million barrels per day. But OPEC produces 42% of the world crude oil output . Although , OPEC is price leader but US has put a limit to cartel’s pricing power.

Does crude price differ for OPEC and US?

The answer is yes . OPEC uses Brent crude price which is the international benchmark price while US uses WTI ( West Texas Intermediate) which is a bench mark for US oil prices.

Brent crude is produced near the sea and it is easier to pull into ships and is relatively priced lower than WTI  as it is produced in landlocked area in Oklahoma , US where the storage capacity is also limited. 

The price of oil is determined in the futures market. An oil futures contract is a binding agreement that gives one the right to purchase oil by the barrel at a predefined price on a predefined date in the future. Under a futures contract, both the buyer and the seller are obligated to fulfil their side of the transaction on the specified date.

Due to pandemic there is a fall in global demand and limited storage capacity ,the prices of American oil futures contract have plunged below zero at negative $ 4.47 per barrel for the first time and this implies that companies have to pay to buyer to take oil from them. 

The prices of oil for the end consumer is not negative but surely American consumer would be saving on the fuel expenditure if conditions permit them to step out in the month of may.

PS : The information given in this article is based on news articles and websites.

Has Society really accepted women? A Case of Haryana

Women’s rights and issues have always been a subject of serious concern for academicians and policy makers not only in India but across the globe. Over time the role of women has changed drastically from being a typical home maker who catered to the needs and requirements of the whole family to a front runner in all possible fields. Modernization and globalization are showing their deep impact on the human society all over the world, redefining the role and responsibilities of women in a different perspective. Further this has also led to additional responsibilities and widened the role of women who now also shares the financial responsibilities. But even after the gigantic transformation the grass root situation has not changed much. Women are still not treated at par with men socially and culturally. This can be proved evidently from the sex ratio in the country. India’s sex ratio (933/1000) differs in all parts of the country but one state which catches attention is Haryana (861/1000)[1]. Despite being a high performing economy in terms of high per capita gross domestic product Haryana has the lowest sex ratio in the country. Haryana has not been able to develop ethnically and socially when it comes to women’s equality. There are various social, economic and psychological factors responsible for this like lack of education, place of residence, caste, dowry issues, economic status of the family, conservative thinking etc. Government of Haryana has taken various steps in this regard by implementing various schemes like Ladli scheme in which government provides financial assistance of Rs.5000 per year on the birth of second daughter on or after 20-8-2005 for five years and amount will be invested in kisan vikas patras in the name of the second daughter through mother/father/guardian and the matured amount of approximately Rs. 86927 at current rates of interest would be paid after the second daughter attains the age of 18 years in order to combat the female foeticide and declining sex ratio in the state[2]. But the situation is still not improving in rural areas. Sex ratio is showing the signs of improvement in some parts of Haryana like Gurgaon, Faridabad and Jhajjar. For improving the situation as a whole we need to take certain steps like stringent rules for banning sex determination, building schools in rural areas for the promotion of women’s education, making women and their family aware about the schemes run by government for raising a girl child, proper implementation of schemes to reduce the gap between goals enunciated in the legislature, policies, plans and programs on the one hand and the situational reality on the other. All this is required to neutralize the oppression against women and for establishing the equity.

References:

[1] http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/India_at_glance/fsex.aspx as accessed on 27th June, 2011

[2] Department Of Women and Child development, Government of Haryanahttp://wcdhry.gov.in/new_schemes_F.htm  as accessed on 27th June, 2011.

Jheelon ka Sheher – Udaipur

Udaipur is a perfect getaway as this place has culture, history , lakes, food and picturesque views. Udaipur is known as city of lakes as it is surrounded by seven lakes. It is undoubtedly Venice of the east.

Things to do

City Palace- This palace was built over a period of 400 years with contribution from several rulers of Mewar dynasty. It is well maintained and interiors of the palace exhibits delicate mirror work , marble work, murals, wall paintings , silver work and glass ceilings.

Sajjangarh – Monsoon palace- It is a hill top palace overlooking the Fateh sagar lake and it is named after Maharaja Sajjan Singh . This palace offers panoramic view of the city.

Lake Pichola boat ride- We took a sunset boat ride and the views were spectacular. It covers the Lake pichola and various palaces located in and off the lake.

Kumbalgarh Fort – It is world heritage site located near Udaipur. It is built on a hilltop on the aravalli range and has perimeter walls that extend 36 km and hence it is one of the longest walls in the world.

How to reach : We took a cab from Udaipur .cost- Rs 2500.

Things to eat:

Paliwal Kachori for Breakfast

Jheel Cafe for Chilling in the Evening

Upre And Ambrai for Dinner overlooking the lake.

Highlight of the trip : We had the priviledge of meeting Maharaja Arvind Singh Mewar and Maharana ji .

How to reach: Chetak express (Gurgaon – Udaipur)

We went by train from Gurgaon and it was very comfortable , timings were perfect as we boarded the train after office.

Stay : We stayed at Hotel Lake Pichola which is situated on the banks of Lake Pichola . The stay was fabulous .from owner to staff everyone was very courteous. They have a beauty roof top restaurant as well .Highly recommended .

Spiti Road Trip

Back in 2016 , I went on a ten day long road trip to experience fascinating landscape of Lahaul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. It is a land between Tibet and India , hence its called “Spiti- The Middle Land” . In this road trip you will be crossing world’s most treacherous roads, rocky terrains, breathtaking landscapes , Different hue mountains, beautiful lakes, numerous waterfalls , crystal clear sky , shooting stars and oldest Buddhist monasteries.

We started from Delhi at night and reached Chandigarh next day early morning . This was the start to this adventure.

Narkanda – Rakchham – Chitkul – Kalpa – Nako – Tabo – Dhankar Lake – Kaza – Key Gompa – Hikkim – Langza – Chandratal – Manali

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Day 1 – Narkanda

The first stop was Narkanda . It is a famous for Apple Orchards . We reached here in the afternoon and took a stroll in the town post lunch . The famous Hatu peak is 3 hours trek from here.

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Sunset at Narkanda
Day 2 Rakchham

This is a small village situated on the banks of river Baspa/Sangla valley. This village is very beautiful and my most favourite. We reached late at night and the view from the guesthouse was serene. We got up early morning to explore the village . Sunrise was an absolute delight with river flowing by , cattle grazing and all lush green surroundings. In this village , you can visit local temple and home based weavers.

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On the same day , we visited Chitkul which is about 30-40 mins drive from Rakchham. This village falls in Kinnaur District and is the last inhabited village near Indo-China border. We visited a government school here and were thrilled to meet kids and teachers and distributed the goodies to them.

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Government School – Chitkul
Day 3 Kalpa

This town falls in kinnaur region above Recong Peo . This is a picturesque sleepy place from where you can see Kinnaur Kailash range and majestic deodars and pine nuts along with apple orchards. This place is a lush green delight. You can visit Kalpa monastery and temple .

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Kinnaur Kailash Range
Day 4 Nako – Tabo

This day we entered the spiti valley. We stopped at the confluence of Khab and Spiti river.

Enroute to Tabo, we stopped at a small village nako which is on the edge of spiti valley and has a beautiful lake and monastery .

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Nako Village
The next stop was Geyu village which has 500 years old Mummy of holy monk . The locals worship this monk and believe that his nails and hairs still grows. For visiting this place, you have to take a little detour on your way from Nako to Tabo but is worth a visit.

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Geyu Mummy
We reached Tabo at night which is a small town on the banks of river spiti . This place has a monastery where we attended early morning prayer and also has best momos and chilli chicken.

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Tabo Monastery
Day 5 Dhankar village – Kaza

Post breakfast , we left for Dhankar village where we hiked for three hours to see Dhankar lake which is a hidden gem admidst mighty mountains. There is an old Dhankar monastery which is also a must visit.

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Dhankar lake
In the evening we reached Kaza . This was our base for next 3 days. Kaza is capital of Spiti and is a busy town which falls in between Lahaul and Spiti. We did following day trips from Kaza.

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Kaza- View from Hotel
You can explore cafes here and shop as well. Also, there were countless shooting stars in the sky and all the nights spent there were very dreamy and unreal .

Day 6 Key – Kibber

We visited Key monastery known as key Gompa – it is the biggest monastery in the Spiti Valley and is a religious training centre for Lamas.

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View from Key Monastery
At Kibber village , we saw locals perform cultural dance on the music played with the help of instruments.

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Cultural Show by locals at Kibber
Day 7 Hikkim- Komic- Langza

This day we visited Hikkim which has the highest postoffice in the world and were quite thrilled and everyone sent postcards back home to their families for memory sake.

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Then we went to see the world’s highest monastery – Komic. And ate the most amazing lunch at the monastery. While coming back , we stopped at Langza which is the least inhabited village.

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1000 years old Buddhist Statue at Langza

Day 8 Kaza-Chandrataal

This day we were supposed to leave for Chandrataal. But when we woke up in the morning , got the news that there is no fuel and it will take 4-5 hours to reach. Also, Kaza has the world’s highest petrol pump . So, our plan got delayed and we left for Chandrataal in the evening which is not suggested ideally as the roads are very narrow . We reached chandrataal at night and this was the most scary and adventurous ride . On the way we stopped at Kunzum pass but it was already dark so we did not stay there for long. Finally , we reached our camping site at Chandrataal.

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Enroute Chandrataal

Day 9 Chandrataal – Manali

Everyone was very excited about Chandrataal as had heard so much about this Moon Lake. We woke up at 4.30am and hiked for around 1.5 hrs to catch the glimpse of sunrise and some peace. This lake was almost magical – serene and tranquil .

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Post breakfast , we started for Manali. Chandratal to Manali has the worst road . And we reached manali in the evening , checked into the hotel and went to old manali for dinner.

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Old Manali

Day 10 Manali – Chandigarh- delhi

Last day of the trip , we explored old Manali and we left for Delhi via Chandigarh with truck loads of memories .

PS: These places are must visit and should be on everyone’s list.

This blog was also published on Tripoto by me.

Hearty Treat – Banana Muffins

As the festive season kicks in, we all look for sweet indulgences. I tried this super easy and quick recipe which you can serve to guests. The good thing about this recipe is that Banana being the main flavor is easily available throughout the year.

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Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tea spoon baking powder
  • 1 tea spoon baking soda
  • Nutmeg/Cinnamon sprinkle for taste
  • 2 Over ripe Bananas (over ripe act as natural sweetener)
  • 2 eggs (optional)
  • 1/3 cup of castor sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil (any of your choice)

Procedure

  • Pre Heat oven/Microwave at 180 degrees
  • Mix dry ingredients whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg/cinnamon in a separate Bowl
  • Mash Bananas and blend other ingredients such as eggs, castor sugar and oil
  • Now Mix wet ingredients with the dry but don’t over mix
  • Bake it at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes

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PS: I have baked these in the form of muffins but the same can be baked in the form of Banana bread/loaf.

Happy Baking!!

Fitness and Mindfulness

“I believe that the entry point for living a more conscious life is mindfulness”- Opray Winfrey

 Fitness to me is more about being healthy rather than checking myself everyday on a weighting scale. I enjoy doing some sort of fitness activity at least 4 days a week. Over the past couple of years I have tried different kinds of workouts like Yoga, Zumba, Weight and strength training in a gym, aerobics classes etc. This year I was looking to try a different kind of workout which is fun and high intensity at the same time. I was asking for too much but thanks to a friend she recommended cross fit to me. I had heard of this workout regimen before but never really tried. So, this time I decided to give it a try.

What is Cross fit?

Cross Fit is a fitness regimen developed by Greg Glassman. It comprises of constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. Intensity is the key for results and workout is measured by time and power. The more work you do in less time, the more intense the effort, the better the output.

To put it more clearly, it a high intensity timed workout. Everyday trainer explains the Workout of the day and depending on the workout there is either a cap time, EMOM (every minute on the minute) or AMRAP (as many reps as possible).

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits.

But how do we cultivate mindfulness in our day to day life. The first thing that comes to our mind is meditation. But there are other ways to practice it in our everyday life.

Combining the two (Cross fit-Mindfulness)

Cross fit is timed workout in which you are given a goal (workout of the day) in the beginning of the class. To achieve that goal, you need to have full concentration and dedication for the specific time stated by the trainer. Also, this workout is very competitive as one has to finish the task and trainer notes down timing of each group member and your performance is compared with other members at the end of the class. In that given time, one gets totally absorbed into the activity forgetting what happened during the day that according for me is the best way to practice mindfulness. When we sit for meditation we think of all possible things that have happened or yet to happen, most of the experts suggest that let your thoughts flow but this workout has helped me to be in the moment along with heightened body awareness and focus.

Now you have to take a call Mind full or Mindful!! Happy Exercising!!

  References:

https://www.crossfit.com/what-is-crossfit

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition#what-is

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition#why-practice

Hampta Pass – Escapade at a Bargain

Summer, 2018 I wanted to do something which pushes me to move out of my comfort zone so I signed up for my first high altitude trek.

 Hampta pass trek is a beginner’s delight. It is an easy to moderate trek at an altitude of 14,100 ft. It is a crossover between Kullu and Lahual valley (best of both worlds).

Day 1 Manali→ Jobra→ Chika

I started my journey from ISBT at 7.30 PM by HPTC Volvo bus. I reached Manali in the morning around 10.30 am. We (Trek group) were supposed to report our trek leader at 9 am but my bus got delayed. So, no time to freshen up and had to directly board the taxi to Jobra, the starting point for the trek which was about 2 hours away from Manali. We took a break at a small shop/tapri and I got a chance to freshen up and had tea and egg pizza (tasted heavenly).

Our trek leader briefed us about the dos and don’ts and introduced us to Trek guide and assistant and this was followed by ice breaking session with fellow trekkers. Finally, we started walking. This day the trail was easy and short and totally mesmerizing. We reached our campsite within 2 hours. It was situated between Jobra and Chika at an altitude of 9800 ft. The view was glorious with pine and maple trees and a stream flowing by the campsite. By evening temperature had dipped, we enjoyed our evening in lush green surroundings with a cup of chai and took a walk around the campsite. We had an early dinner that day as everyone was tired. Food was very tasty and to top it they served us piping hot kheer which was a pleasant surprise for everyone.

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Day 2 Chika→ Balu ka Ghera

Next morning we got up early as the distance to be covered on this day was around 5 km and the trail was easy to moderate. The walk was quite scenic with Rani Ka Nallah flowing on side throughout and sheep grazing in the meadows amidst maple and pine trees. After Chika, there was a river crossing to enter Jwara which added to the excitement and the water was ice cold. We took a maggi-chai break at Jwara and the view was splendid as there was Dhauladar range with its snow covered peaks. On this day, we experienced number of waterfalls on the way where we relaxed, clicked pictures and refilled our water bottles. The difficult part was an ascent though boulders which is about 2 hours. As you head further, you enter a valley where you will find sheep and mules feeding on the grass and lot of flowers. We reached our campsite Balu Ka Ghera in the evening reaching an altitude of 12,500 ft approx above the sea level. Due to high altitude, few people in the group were feeling uneasy. At high altitude, it is not advisable to rest inside the tent just after reaching the campsite so we did few exercises and went for nature walk to get our self acclimatized.

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Day 3 Balu ka Ghera -→ Shea Goru via Hampta Pass (The D Day)

This was the most special day of the trek as this was the Summit Day.

This day the hike was moderate with around 8-9 hours of walking. There was a gradual ascent which gets steep till the pass and then you descent for about 2 hours to reach Shea Goru. This day seemed moderate as we started walking, but it started raining followed by hail storm which increased the difficult of trek, also there was snow near the pass. Due to rain the snow became soft so it was really difficult to walk. To reach the top of the ridge there was another climb for 20-30 minutes and then finally we reached the Hampta Pass which is a crossover from Kullu to Lahaul-Spiti Valley which is almost 14,100 ft. Finally, the feeling of reaching on top .The Descent is tricky as was already indicated by our trek leader in the brief and it got worse because of rain. After walking for an hour then it is straight down hill trek on snow. In an hour and half we reached the Shea Goru Campsite. This was the most magnificent view with tall snow clad mountains, horses grazing on side and a river flowing by and that particular day because of rain it was all lush green. This was by far the best campsite view wise.

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Day 4 Shea Goru → Chhatru→ Chandratal

This day was 4.5 hours of moderate descent from an altitude of approx 12,250 ft to 10, 898 ft. we started our day with river crossing which was right next to campsite. While walking we came across edges of rocks and 2-3 glaciers which merge into Chanda River. After reaching Chhatru , we left our bags with the porters and straightway away headed to Chandratal lake by cab. Chandratal is a moon lake which is at an altitude of 14,100 ft and is the highlight of the trip. The roads were quite bumpy but the view at the lake is so breathtaking that it makes you forget everything. By evening we came back to our campsite chhatru. This was the last night of the trek. Everyone shared their experience and as a group we bonded really well.

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The next morning we left for Manali and the view on the way back was majestic as weather gods showed their presence.

Finally, we reached Manali with lots of memories which we will cherish for life.

Things to Remember:

  • Always weigh your backpack before going for a high altitude trek.
  • Invest in good/sturdy waterproof shoes.
  • Carry rain poncho (June – Aug trek).
  • Keep yourself well hydrated during the trek .
  • Always keep a margin of 2-3 hours, if travelling from Delhi by bus.

PS: Learning/Reflections of trek in another post 🙂


This Post was originally published by Bikat Adventures

Chai Time Fix- Honey Oatmeal Cookies

For a Chai lover , Chai is the solution to all the problems. It works whether you are too busy , tired or bored. But the real problem is what snack to eat with Chai which is healthy also . After struggling with this question during Chai breaks at work and evening cup at home, i discovered this healthy snack option which is super easy to bake.

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Ingredients

  • Oats 1 cup
  •  Maida( can use whole wheat flour as well) 1 cup
  • Butter 75 gm
  • Castor Sugar 3/4 cup
  • Honey 1/2 cup
  • Eggs 2 ( optional – can be made egg less also)
  • Chocolate 1 bar ( I used normal dairy milk , can use dark chocolate as well)
  • Cinnamon 1/4 tablespoon
  • Baking Powder 1 tablespoon
  • Vanilla essence 5-6 drops
  • Nuts – raisins , walnuts (optional)

Procedure

Mix the dry ingredients – Maida , oatmeal  and baking powder and keep aside.In a bowl , combine butter , sugar and eggs and mix them using blender , more fluffy the batter , the better . Then add honey , vanilla essence , chocolate and nuts and slowly start folding the dry ingredients . Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a Baking tray with parchment paper .  Scoop the dough with ice cream scoop onto the baking sheet and place them at a distance.

For small size cookies – Bake for 12 to 14 minutes

For large Size cookies – Bake for 15 to 18 minutes depending on the oven.

Cool completely and Happy Snacking:)

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