Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Health and taste for your young 'uns



When the son is home and he wants to order food from out, you land up making something of his choice but with a healthy yummy twist. Here we have a Veggie burger. Ingredients being beetroot and carrot grated, ginger grated, garlic, green chilli, coriander, capsicum chopped very finely and tapioca pearls soaked and mashed with the rest of the ingredients to bind it. Add rock salt, coriander powder, red chilli powder, mixed herbs, chilli flakes, and coarsely powdered peanuts. Make them into round flattened balls , add olive oil on a non-stick stoneware, and cook them till they are brown. Place them in between the burger buns which have been toasted slightly on a non-stick pan, added with tomato ketchup and a thin spread of grated cheese, with thinly sliced tomato, cucumber and onion. The yum burger , healthy too, is ready to eat.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Light healthy dinner


Sauteed Veggies in half a teaspoon of olive oil, with cottage cheese, and a sprinkling of salt , pepper, a few herbs like Oregano, Basil, and rosemary with chili flakes made my sumptuous easily digestible dinner today. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WARM OATMEAL AND APPLE


This delicious recipe is sweet, creamy and satisfying and will start your day with a nice warm tummy. It gives a full feeling, and one tends to avoid unnecessary snacking. Its great for the heart and a superb metabolism booster. Best of all, it tastes like a slice of apple pie!
Warm Oatmeal and apple

Ingredients
 
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
2 cups skimmed milk
1 apple thinly sliced then cut into bite sized pieces
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon organic honey
2 chopped dates
Method of cooking 

In a medium sauce pan combine the almond milk, oatmeal, cinnamon. Heat on low until most of the milk is absorbed (stir as needed), See that most of the milk is absorbed. If you like your apples soft add them in now too, if you like some crunch wait until you are about to serve to stir in. In about 15-20 minutes total, remove from heat, add honey and chopped dates and serve.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fish in Mustard Sauce


Ingredients

Fish pieces about 3 to 4
Turmeric powder
Fennel seeds
Nigella seeds
Fenugreek seeds
2 Onions diced
1 Tomato chopped into small pieces
2 spoons of black mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Mustard oil
Dried red chilly
2 green chillies
Fresh leaves of coriander

Method of preparation
 
Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric powder and keep it aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a pan till its really hot.
Place the fishes in the pan and lower the flame and allow the fish to cook.
Once it appears to be golden brown increase the flame before turning it upside down.
*This keeps the fish from breaking!!!!
After frying,keep the fish pieces aside.
In the same oil,put a dried red chilly and let it crackle.
Put the diced onions into it and fry till it gets golden brown.
Add the chopped tomato and let it cook for two minutes.
Add salt to taste and half tea spoon of turmeric powder.
Grind the mustard seeds soaked in water for about an hour along with two green chillies.
Strain the mustard sauce with the help of a strainer and set it aside.
Put this sauce into the pan and add a little water to it.
When it comes to a boil,add the pieces of fish to it.
Put one fourth spoon of fenugreek seeds,one fourth spoon of nigella seeds and one tea spoon full of fennel seeds into the gravy thus prepared and bring it to a boil.
Before serving,sprinkle mustard oil and garnish it with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
 
From Bonoshree Mukherji.

Aloo Posto ( Potatoes with poppy seeds )

Bonoshree Mukhrejee, just sent me this recipe, for my blog. Thanks friend. Love you.
 

Ingredients 
3 to 4 medium sized potatoes
3 tea spoonful of soaked poppy seeds
1 green chilly
2 to 3 spoons of mustard oil

Method of preparation
Grind the poppy seeds soaked in water for about 2 hours into a paste and keep it aside.
Take a pan and heat the oil.
Dice the potatoes into small pieces and saute them well in the oil.
Once the potatoes are golden brown,pour the paste into it and add a little water to it.
Add salt to taste and the green chilly too.
Bring it to a boil and sprinkle some mustard oil on it before serving.
Simple, rustic and amazingly yummm !!

Banana Pudding. From the Indian Subcontinent

Seema Sinha, Thank you dear friend for this amazing yummy recipe.

(Image sourced from the net)

Ingredients :
 Bananas : 7 ripe
Small cardamom :5
Sugar : 500gms
Coconut : one, with water
Raisins, cashew and saffron: as per requirement

Preparation Soak the raisins and saffron in a bit of water and keep aside.
Cut the bananas in small round pieces and start to boil it in water. Extractt the milk of the coconut and add it in this boiling mixture . Add the sugar, cardamom, mix it well, while boiling, keep stirring. Cut the cashew in thin slices, , add it in the mixture. Remove from fire, when you see that it seems the right dropping consistency, should not be very runny. Now you can add the raisins and saffron. Those with a sweet tooth, people, indulge yourselves. Instead of the white sugar, brown sugar can be used. Any little effort, towards maintaining good health, will mean something. Sweet times friends, enjoy this Indian dessert. Garnish a bit of ground cardamom, and slices of banana, and any other sliced dry fruits that you wish.

Cornball Curry ( Bhutte ki kofta curry )

Sent to me by my dear friend and  a good cook Seema Sinha.


Ingredients 

Corn on the cob: 3
Onion : 2 large
Tomato : 3 medium
Gram flour :two tablespoons, for binding and taste
Green chili, Ginger,  chopped coriander ,Garam Masala : As per requirement
Oil : for frying
Salt : To taste

Preparation

Remove corn kernels from the cob and mince them in the grinder. Mix it with Chopped and lightly sauteed onions, chopped green chili, coriander, gram flour and ginger. Make small round balls of this mixture and fry them. Keep them aside.
 For the curry 

Tomatoes : 2 medium size
Curd :50 gms
Onion : 2 medium
Garlic : 6 cloves
Chili powder, Jeera (cumin seeds), turmeric powder, ans salt : to taste

In a little bit of Ghee or oil, add Cumin seeds, let them crackle, add puree of tomatoes, fry it a little, then add curd, and the other spices. Once the spices seem to be well fried in little oil, add just enough water to submerge the corn balls in it, and to thicken the curry a bit. Once the curry seems well done, meaning just thick enough, add the koftas in it. Boil it once with the koftas ( corn balls). Serve it with hot Parathas, Rotis or puris. And add a green Chutney, complimenting and completing the colour combination, and tastes of the meal. Dont forget to add a salad, for the sake of roughage and good health. Good taste be to you!! 

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Bishop's weed or Carom or Ajwain


Ajwain, or carom seeds as it is called, is easily available in all Indian grocery stores. Its a frequently used spice. It has a strong unique flavor and smell, mostly known for its gut healing properties.It works like a wonder drug in cases of an upset stomach. Just take 1/4th of a teaspoon, either swallow it with warm water, or then, chew it, if possible. Pure ajwain is very strong, and can have a pungency in it that many tastes cannot accept. Bad throat   Add a teaspoon of ajwain in two liters of water, boil it, and consume it through the day. See how the cough reduces, and the throat feels calm, and they say that it removes the mucous too. It serves as an antiseptic too, kills germs.If this incredible seed is soaked in lemon juice and black salt, dried in the sun, and consumed occasionally, it helps to keep the stomach in order, removes nausea and also gives a fresh taste in the mouth.
In India, it has been a very common practice among people to keep the body warm either by consuming ajwain, or then massaging the chest with ajwain heated in pure mustard oil. Keeps the body warm and secure from catching a cold. It is said that by applying this oil on painful joints one gets rid of joint pain too.
I know of people who grow this herb in their kitchen gardens, and consume the leaves ( I love the flavour) as a green vegetable, or seasoning on veggies, or then have them as fritters ( in a paste of bengal gram flour and fried) . The fritters taste incredible on a cool rainy day.
It plays an important role in oral hygiene too, as it kills germs in the mouth, and removes bad odor. Use of ajwain oil along with clove oil in gum pain is well known.
These are the benefits of Carrom seeds as I know, and have experienced. There may be many more.
Add on if you know, and help others benefit too. Go on!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Indian Spices Rage

India is known for its exclusive spices, since times immemorial. Countries of the world recognized India from the exotic spices they grew, and started trading in them. Several years ago spices were a hot commodity, its lure being the reason why many ships from all over docked here. It is said that one could even pay the rent or trade in gold with some special spices.The aroma, vitality and sharpness of these spices could well be the reason of its popularity. Not to forget the healing properties, and many more specialties that  these herbs and spices incorporated in them. Indian cuisine, with these seasonings and herbs, is considered as one of the most balanced foods of the world.
Here is a list of these spices, Wikipedia having quite a comprehensive list. The amazing quality of each, and the good it can do to the body is becoming quite a rage all over. Except that we must never overuse these strong herbs, they can harm too. Use in moderation is the key word here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_spices

Chicken khade masaale ( whole spices) wala

Sent to me by Sanjay Srivastava. I hope you cook this, and enjoy the spicy Indian Chicken recipe.


Recipe  As sent in to me by him. I will not be able to make many changes, as I am a vegetarian. I call upon friends to give inputs, if required.

First boil the chicken and discard it's stock.
Now take a pan and pour mustard oil and put it on burner. Add some cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, javitri (mace) and jaaiphal (nutmeg). Heat it and now add chopped onions and saute it till onions start leaving oil and turn brown red. Add salt, red chilli powder and ginger garlic paste. Now again saute it and add curd to it and some amount of water and give heat for around 10 minutes.
Refined oil may be used in place of mustard oil as per choice.

Now it is ready to eat.
REMEMBER:  The  spices added have a host of healing properties in them.

Posted on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/healthncookery/


2-min Salsa Verde recipe

Todays recipe is sent in by Shuchi Grover.


  Ingredients
1 bunch green (spring) onions (3-4 with green stems/leaves)
2-3 tomatoes
Cilantro - 1 cup (or 1 small bunch)
I lime

Recipe
Add green onions, sliced tomatoes and cilantro in a chopper. Pulse for a few minutes till finely chopped. Add salt and squeeze lime.
Tasty fresh salsa verde that can be used as a dip for chips or eaten as a side with quesadilla or tortilla/other wraps or sandwiches. Loaded with vitamin C , Calcium and other minerals. Love it!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

CHOLAY ( Without onion and garlic)

Another recipe from Shuchi. We belong to a family of vegetarians, where we did not incorporate onion and garlic in our cooking, but we did have it in salads. Later of course as tastes developed, everyone had their own style. But I must mention here that food cooked in my house, without these two ingredients was considered yum, and people loved it!! Here is one such recipe of chick peas ...




Ingredients:

Kabuli Chana (chick peas) (2 cups), soaked overnight
Tomatoes: 6(medium size)
Green Chillies: 2-3
Ginger:1 inch piece
Turmeric powder:1/2 tsp
Cholay Masala: 2 tsp(Everest masala)
Dhania powder:2 tsp
Coriander leaves(garnishing)
Jeera: 1 tsp
Chilli powder:1 tsp
Hing:pinch
Salt : to taste
Black salt: a pinch
Tamarind paste: 2 tbsp

Procedure:
  1. Wash the Chana and soak overnight. Pressure cook the next day with a bit of salt.
  2. Puree the following: Tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, turmeric, coriander powder. Do not add water. Keep aside.
  3. In a kadai, add about 3-4tbsp of oil, hing, jeera and then the ground puree. Fry on medium till the masala comes together. Add cholay masala and kala namak and fry for a few more minutes. Add the cooked chana along with the water. Add more salt if necessary. Cook until the masala gets into the chana ~ 10 min.
  4. Add tamarind paste and mix well.
  5. Garnish with chopped coriander

Notes: I would go easy on the chilli powder
            Add 1 tbsp of tamarind paste, taste and add if necessary

Sabudana (pearl Tapioca) Khichri


A dish common in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, is commonly eaten during fasting days in India. My mother learnt it from her Maharashtrian friend. Each time she made it I loved the taste and would beckon her to make it more often. I would enjoy this dish in my Bombay hostel days, when we would be served with this, most Thursdays. I am sending across to you all, this recipe, written by my mom, more as her sweet love for me..

Ingredients: 250gr sago or sagudana.
 150gr. boiled and cubed potatoes
 125gr. roasted peanuts.
 2 tbsp. coconut powder.
 2 tsp. roasted jeera (cumin seeds) powder.
 1 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander leaves.
 1 tsp chopped green chilly.
 salt to taste.
 Pure ghee according to requirement.  

  Preparation: Soak sago in a bowl,adding water up-to the level of sago and a little more. Boil,peel and cut potatoes into small pieces.Grind roasted peanuts coarsely in a blender. 

 Method:  In a non-stick pan heat 2 tbsp ghee add potato cubes, roast for 5 minutes. Add soaked sago, jeera powder, coconut powder, salt, keep tossing till sago is tender and looks translucent. Add peanuts, mix nicely. If required can add little ghee.Turn off the gas and cover the pan.While serving sprinkle fresh coriander leaves.
 Enjoy this sumptuous snack with green coriander chutney.

Protein packed capsicum baskets!


A swell recipe by Divya Raj . My elder sis, who indulges her family with some healthy snacks and meals. She has some amazing recipes up her sleeve. Here is one. It has got her a lot of praise among friends and family. Try and let us know  how yours turned out.

Ingrediets:
3 to 5 capsicums cut from the middle into two longitudinal halves
2 small cups shredded cottage cheese (paneer)
2 med sized carrots grated
I onion finely chopped
1/4 cup green coriander chopped
1-2 boiled mashed potatoes
1-2 green chillies chopped
1 cup sprouted sabut moong (green) sautéd
Salt and black pepper powder to taste.

Method:
Mix shredded paneer, boiled mashed potatoes,  green chillies, chopped coriander, finely chopped onion, grated carrots, sautéd moong sprouts, salt and pepper powder.Mix well so that no paneer or potato lumps remain.
Fill this mixture in the cup shaped capsicum halves. Brush olive oil on a non stick pan and cook the stuffed capsicums on both sides till capsicum gets a bit soft.
Your protein packed capsicum baskets are ready! Serve hot with ketchup or coriander- mango chutney!
Note: Ideal for a dieter's menu, packed with protein and veggies. Extremely low on oil.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pesto sauce (for Italian pasta, sandwiches, and pizza)

This is a recipe sent to me by my younger sister. Her cooking includes a great variety , cuisine from India and other parts of the world. She happily caters to all the taste buds in her family. Thanks Shuchi.

Ingredients
1/4 cup ( 400 gr) pine nuts (chilgoza) or walnuts
2 full cups of fresh Basil leaves  
2 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup (25 gr) of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (125ml) Olive oil

Start with the pines, basil leaves, garlic and Parmesan ; put all together in a food processor until they are all fine minced then add the olive oil slowly while the food processor is working, until it all become a smooth paste, add salt and pepper as desired.

My Suggestion: For pasta you can mix it with half&half/whipping cream or to add few spoons of the water that the pasta is boiled in to dilute the pesto.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Love me. love my food.


Right from the time we are born, we care about being fed and who is taking care of that innate yearning for a full stomach, and the satisfaction that follows. Its the warmth, cuddle, and passion with which the mom breast feeds/ bottle feeds her child, that adds to the yearning. So food is undoubtedly connected with any close relationship that one has.How far we let this continue in our lives, depends on us, and how we condition ourselves to food.That feeling of satiety and satisfaction is common to both, a happy relationship and eating something we love. This I suppose, in a way, explains, why people binge eat when they fall out of any relationship. They substitute food with the fondness and affinity they got in the bond they shared with another person.
It has often been quoted that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well, what's the way to a woman's heart? So its like men just don't want sex alone, they want good food too!  Many commercials show a happy home, where the woman is doing the cooking and feeding the family. Commercials of spices, or quick fix cooking through packaged foods, or more. The torch of lighting the flame of love, through food, in a home is in the hands of a woman or both the man as well as his better half. I wonder. Couples, who marry into different cultures, have to work on this aspect too, the food. Which restaurant to spend an amiable evening together? Veg, or non veg? Sea food or general? Seems like they ultimately come to an understanding, most of the times, and do not let food come in the way of their bond.
For little children food that is on the table, that is given in their lunch boxes, food that is packed for picnics, served during parties etc, defines their tastes. It is based on the delightful memories that they have of all or most of these events in their homes, where they were brought up. Meal times in a house, means time to communicate/connect with each other, time for a laugh, less a time to discuss serious issues. It's great if the meals are discussed and the burden of laying the table, clearing it, and even churning up a side dish, or a part of the main course, is shared by members of the family. It's a superb time to bond.  Sometimes children love to help their mom in the kitchen. They must be allowed to cooperate, gives them a feeling of camaraderie and builds their relationship with food, tastes, and family. So the important thing is to have healthy meals in the menu.
Another aspect about the partnership between food and love is that it has so often been connected with love making.

 "If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him...the people who give you their food give you their heart." — Cesar Chavez
Something that I had read once said that great food is like having great sex, the more you have the more you want. When you eat a meal with your loved one, you're giving quality time to that person, you emphasize that its a personal moment for the two of you.
"Cooking is like love: It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." — Harriet van Horne
The association between food and love is undeniable. This is what I feel about this friendship, it's good if you let it thrive with a healthy air.   

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Street food of Allahabad.



Allahabad, the place I was born and brought up. A very special and historical place on the map of India. My parents hail from Amritsar, in Punjab. So a mix of Punjabi and Allahabadi!! That's what makes me special too (AHEM!!). A small town, is also made noteworthy by its intelligentsia. It has an exceptional place in history. It is stationed at the confluence of the three sacred rivers of the country, The Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical, mystical Saraswati. It has many references in the Ramayana and The Mahabharata. It is referred to as a place which is the king of all pilgrimages, the "tirath raj". Besides this it has always been a seat of learning. It played a significant role in the freedom struggle. There are many Victorian buildings here, making it a wonderful tourist spot too.
    The people of Allahabad are distinctive in their own way. They have a remarkable way of putting things across, that is popular all over the country, and the style is often picked up by Bollywood script writers, to make the dialogues more effective and funny.
Ah! but I was talking about its street food. People who leave the city, remember fondly all the yumm, tasty snacky food this city has to offer. So instead of writing it myself, I am attaching a link here. See, if you can identify with any of the foods listed there.
The youngsters of today may vouch for some newer places that provides them with some mouthwatering momos and more. People of days gone by may still talk of the "maal makhan" made out of milk cream, put out on a moon lit winter night in an earthen pot and it turns into a frothy light sweet delight, made in the night chill. Once the froth settles down, its not tasty. Sells only for an hour in the morning. Its a unique delicacy, specific to North India.
 http://www.outlooktraveller.com/miscellaneous/uttar-pradesh-street-food-in-allahabad-1008755    

Add your favorites here, if you cannot see it in the menu.
And to know a bit more on the city take a look at this
http://www.slideshare.net/varni46/heritage-of-allahabad 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Oats veg salted pancakes.

There are many ways of making these super healthy pancakes. Its one of those hardy breakfasts, known for being light, easily digested, and wholesome. All put in one. Breakfasts comprising of oats, are known to be invigorating and very nutritious. This whole grain , known to prevent heart disease, provides just the right amount of fiber nutrients and energy to kick start your day. And for all of us who have a problem in controlling our diets, oats helps in giving us that "full stomach" feel. 
 The kind of salted pancakes I make are healthful and less oily. These could be like any other salted pancakes made in India, also called cheela or dosa here.
Ingredients :  -One cup ready to cook oats
                      - half cup sooji ( semolina) 
                      - A cup of curd
                      - half tsp baking powder
                      - a pinch asfoetida (hing)
                      -  one tsp roasted peanuts
                      - one tablespoon of mixed seeds, like, chia, flax, watermelon, sunflower etc
                      - 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
                      - one medium size onion, finely chopped   
                      - Spinach , 5 leaves, nicely washed, and very finely chopped
                      - green chili, 2 chopped
                      - coriander, few sprigs, chopped
                      - half a cup of steamed broccoli and carrot (optional)
                      - salt, pepper, red chili powder, garlic powder, all of these add to taste.

Technique  : Grind the oats, peanuts, seeds, in a mixer grinder. Add the curd, salt, pepper, red chili  powder, asfoetida,and garlic powder and baking powder in it, mix it well adding enough water to it to make a  soft dropping consistency. Set it aside for half an hour. After half an hour, add the onions, garlic, spinach, green chili, coriander, and if you want, you can add mashed steamed broccoli and carrots to it too. Mix it well. 
On a well heated flat pan (skillet) , out a drop of oil or ghee, and pour two ladles of the mixture. Spread it medium to thick width. Do not spread it too thin, as the curd in it will tend to stick. It takes a while for each side to cook, on medium to slow heat. It needs to be set  and cooked in its shape, that is why slow heat is required. Else it will stay uncooked, and will break while you try and turn it on the other side. 
Once it's done, looking nice and cooked and golden, remove from fire, Serve with green coriander/mint/ tomato chutney. You can have it with a fruit juice or Lassi (drink made of curd and water, either sweet-with or with fruit or salted.) To make it into a brunch, and a more sumptuous meal, eat the pancakes with fried/boiled egg. Up to you. But eat this, and feel the good oats does to your body. Bon appetit!! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Veg Burger with cottage cheese salad and fruit juice.

This yum breakfast satisfies all tastes, and provides the right pick up in the morning , getting you ready for a happy run through the day. For the vitality required to march along with the ticking clock all day the body needs all the nutrients in the right quantity. The happy meal provides with just that, or almost. 
For the veg burger : the ingredients required are : - Wheat buns 6
                                                                                  - Potato 7 medium size, boiled
                                                                                  -one Onion, chopped small
                                                                                  - one green chili chopped
                                                                                  - green peas, boiled and mashed (optional)
                                                                                  - Chopped coriander
                                                                                  - salt and pepper
                                                                                  - bread crumbs
                                                                                  - Three bread pieces crumbled.
                                                                                  - Tomato, onion, cucumber, cheese slice, lettuce leaves. The tomato, onion, and cucumber need to be thinly sliced into round pieces. You can have thin slices of  any cheese that you like.Smoked cheese would taste great here.

Mash the potatoes, and mix in all of these ingredients, except for the bread crumbs. Make it into a smooth homogeneous dough. Make round cutlets out of this mixture. On a  lightly heated , oil smeared non stick pan, put as many of these cutlets, and let it get crisp on sloe to medium fire. When they have turned golden brown on each side, remove them and keep them aside. Butter lightly one side of the buns, put the thinly sliced round onion, tomato and cucumber cheese and a small piece of the lettuce leaf.You can sprinkle a bit of mixed herbs and pepper/salt according to taste. Now put one of those cutlets on the base, and cover the burger bun with the other piece. Serve it with Tomato chili garlic sauce.

Cottage Cheese Salad : There may be many variations to this, but I make the cottage cheese at home. Once that is strained and while it is hot, I add finely chopped onion, few cloves of garlic,( as garlic during breakfast, helps in digesting food well, all day long), coriander, tomato, zucchini-green and yellow,and any other raw veggie that you like and would like to add, along with salt and pepper. You can squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice too for a tangy taste. Also sprinkle in a few seeds, like water melon, sunflower, chia seeds, along with half a teaspoon of ground flax seeds. All this could be slightly sauteed in butter too. I avoid it, and enjoy this salad in the morning without sauteing. 

So a bowl of the above salad, with the veggie burger with a glass of any fruit juice, serves as a super sumptuous, tasty, satiating brunch. You get your carbs, fat, proteins, vitamins and minerals, a complete meal. If hungry after a few hours, you can have a snack, or a milk shake. Should suffice till 5pm , is my guess. 
There you go! Cook this , eat it, and tell me how it turned out. Enjoy!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Time for Summer Coolants. Time to chill :)


Summer is here, and most of the tropical zone in the North ( between 0 degrees and 23and a half degrees North), is reeling with temperatures rising. Its best to stay indoors if possible, to stay hydrated, and never to step out empty stomach, especially where the hot winds called the Loo ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loo_%28wind%29 )blow. Nature has provided with natural coolants, and we must make use of these to keep our body and soul cool. 
There are some concentrates which we get in the market. They seem good, but are loaded with sugar, and preservatives, so maybe if possible, we can make them at home. 
1. COCONUT WATER : One of my favorites. Natures bounty! The coconut tree is known as the kalpavriksh, which means the tree of life. Every part of this tree is used by man, for his benefit, including this delicious drink. Packed with electrolytes, sodium and potassium, calcium, and more, it works well when we are sweating up a storm. It maintains the electrolyte balance in our bodies and quenches our thirst, keeping our tummies full for some time. It has several health benefits. Enjoy the drink, right from the fruit and help the coconut seller standing in the heat to earn a living. Its the ultimate health drink.
2. LEMON DRINKS :Another versatile drink during summers is made from this amazing yellow fruit. Most of this fruit too has many uses. The rind, juice and pulp all of it is used. Its juice is used in making lemonades, which provides with vitamin C. Surprisingly, this citric acid, has an alkaline affect on our system, and maintains the pH balance in the body. Instead of sugar, we can add honey, we can freeze honey cubes in the freezer and plonk them in the lemonade. It is a very refreshing drink, and keeps one calm and cool. Lemon can be added in other drinks too to bring in a tangy taste. A few chopped mint leaves in the juice will give the drink a boost. Alternatively make this thirst quencher in water flavored with mint and cucumber.
My mom makes a concentrate of this juice and stores it. It gets polished off real soon, as everyone who walks in the house from the sweltering heat is first offered this refreshing drink. She buys many lemons from the market. Earlier, we had a lemon tree in our garden, and it was so convenient. So you gotta squeeze them in a clean, dry container. In a one liter bottle, she pours one glass (300ml) of the juice, and fills the bottle with sugar. Brown sugar or demarara can be used in place of the refined white sugar. These bottles are then sunned till all the sugar is dissolved. It feels healthier as the sugar has dissolved in the lemon juice over days, with the help of the rays of the sun falling on it. It becomes a thick concentrate. All we need to do is take two teaspoons in a 150 ml glass, add flavored water (with natural mint, lime, and cucumber), or regular plain water and serve.
3. THANDAI (SARDAI) An energy drink, is widely used in many parts of India, as a special drink, which almost suffices for a meal, and is a quencher. It is made from almonds( soaked and peeled), pistachios, rose petals (or rose essence, Khus (vetiver) esssence, watermelon seeds, cardamom, fennel, black pepper, khus-khus(poppy seeds), saffron, milk and sugar. Grind together all of these, except the sugar, with a little milk. Boil the rest of the milk, and add the paste and sugar, mix it well. Cool the drink, and serve it chilled. The quantity of sugar and milk has to be the same. You can chuck your dieting out of the window, and indulge in this yum drink once in a way.
4. WATERMELON JUICE  A simple to make drink. Peel off the outer layer of the fruit, de seed most of it. If a few seeds are left, its okay. Add mint leaves, half a cup of pomegranate, for one medium sized watermelon, and a dash of lemon juice. Mix it all in a blender, run it through a sieve. Serve it in tall glasses. Tastes totally yum, and you can literally feel a cool wave running through your body. The best part is that you do not need to add sugar.
5. LASSI  : This drink, I doubt has an English name to it. It is yogurt, mixed with water, sugar/salt, spices/fruits. It is nutritious, nourishing and substantial enough, if it is mixed with fruits. For one serving take about three tablespoons of yogurt set at home, add water, black salt, roasted cumin seed powder and pepper and mix it with a hand blender. Add a couple of ice cubes in it. And enjoy this healthy, gut friendly, probiotic drink.
Now for the sweet lassi, add sugar to taste or caster sugar, and mix it with a hand blender. You can add rose essence, any flavoring, like Khus juice or Roohafza, pieces of any fruit you like, could be strawberry or mango and water, and run it through a blender. Your sweet, yummy flavored fruity lassi is ready to be enjoyed chilled.
These are images of the salted lassi, strawberry and mango lassi.
6. FRUIT JUICES : Try and have all these juices without sugar, and in a few according to taste you can squeeze in half a teaspoon of lemon juice. Some can be enjoyed sweet and some with salt and pepper. For example,mango juice is sweet, grape juice can be savored with salt and little sugar, or as it is. 
Another very interesting juice is Phalsa Juice. These small fleshy purple colored little fruits, are grown in the tropical regions, mainly India, Philippines, Bangladesh and around. It comes in the market only for a few days. It is a natural coolant. It needs to be washed well, and put in the blender with a little bit of water, sugar and salt. Strain, chill and enjoy the drink. The fruit is known for its medicinal properties. It reduces thirst, cures fevers, and inflammation among other uses. 
7. Aam ka Panna.: This amazing green tangy drink, beats the heat like no other. Take 6-7 raw mangoes, boil them, peel, and keep all the pulp in a container. Remove the mint leaves, from a fresh bunch. Wash them well. Now grind  the leaves with  two tablespoons of sugar, few whole black peppercorns, black salt (kala namak) and roasted cumin powder-one tsp. Mix this to the well mashed raw mango pulp. Add water, enough to make it into a juice consistency. Chill the drink and enjoy.

There are many more, and can be added here. I will do so, as time permits. Till then keep well hydrated, and stay cool. Enjoy the summers, and what it has to offer. 


My Post

Before I come up with another recipe, I was reminded of an old post on my blog, dated May 2007, related with healthy eating. I have not edited it as per the times, maybe I will, though most of it is relevant still.
Do review it and give me a feed back.
http://varnika-reflections.blogspot.in/2008/06/healthy-body-healthy-mind.html

Saturday, April 16, 2016

EAT SIMPLE EAT HEALTHY!!

 This is just an attempt to bring in awareness among our youth, about the importance of good eating habits, and that this knowledge can go a long way in preventing diseases and ill health. I would like to introduce Maya Adam, who takes courses on Child Health and Nutrition in Stanford University, and the video that I am posting here is just a seed of thought for you. Maybe you start to give your food eating habits a bit of a re look.

Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.- Hippocrates

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mixed vegetable sandwiches. Aroma n zest put together.

The simple volley of flavors that touch your taste buds is interesting. The trick is for you to savor each flavor of the vegetables and spices used. My children, their friends, and my colleagues love these sandwiches. So here is the recipe of this much sought after sub.
INGREDIENTS:1. A loaf of multi grain bread
2. Cheese spread, any flavor, one tablespoon(mashed home made cottage cheese is preferable)
3. one medium sized tomato chopped
4. A piece of red, green and yellow bell peppers each chopped
5. one large onion finely chopped.
6. 5-6 cloves of garlic cut in small pieces
7. one tbsp de-seeded green olives, cut in small pieces
8. One medium sized boiled potato (optional)
9. Spring onion few stalks, chopped
10, Cilantro few stalks chopped
11. One small cucumber chopped (optional)
12. A small piece of cabbage finely chopped.
13. One medium sized carrot, grated
14. A teaspoon of canned corn (optional, because I am not in favor of canned, processed food) 
15. Among the spices to be added: Salt to taste, pepper, chili flakes, dried roasted garlic powder, mixed herbs seasoning, dried crushed rosemary. Add a sprinkling of all of these.

MODUS OPERENDI : Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl. On one side of each slice of bread spread butter. Put a thick layer of the mixture on each buttered bread. Cover it with the other bread.
Grill these sandwiches, or heat them on a non stick pan on both sides, till they become crispy golden.
Serve either with Green mint coriander chutney, Sweet and spicy garlic tomato chutney, scrambled egg, french fries, a few crunchy fryumms/chips or have it as it is.
It makes for a very healthy , sumptuous breakfast/snack. You will notice the mixed aroma of garlic, and the herbs very appetizing, with the taste of each ingredient pleasing your senses. Try it, and appease your soul. Yumm!!    

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

From the land of incredible diversity and peace~The Navratri Special

PART 2
A time for prayer and introspection. A time for spiritual awakening and detox. Fasting during religious festivals increases will power, and helps strengthen the mind, body and soul.Abstaining from food brings in control , of the senses and over our desires. There are people who cannot stay totally hungry, because of ill health or medication. Pregnant and lactating moms too cannot keep away from food completely. The recipes for the food that can be eaten, are innumerable. A few have been mentioned in the first part of this post. The rest I will mention here.I am open to suggestions, feel free to put in your bit.

RECIPES OF FOODS THAT CAN BE EATEN WHILE  FASTING :Having said the above, we must be careful that we do not overload ourselves with too much of food. Eating at short intervals and keeping hydrated with juices, fluids and water is a good idea for the body to feel light.
1. Fruits :All fruits can be consumed, so naturally the fleshy seasonal produce can at times be substituted for a meal.
Fruits can be partaken in the form of salad, with salt, pepper, lime, and a wee bit sugar(brown sugar/demerara). Optional to add dry fruits, cranberry, pumpkin and melon seeds to it. It increases the satiating ans its nutritive value. Makes it a crunchy, sumptuous meal.
2. Use of Jaggery : Jaggery is a yum substitute to the processed sugar, that is unhealthy.Use it in the tea too if required. My mother in law would try and avoid cooking up too many sweets during this period. But one thing that she did make was Amaranth(also called Ramdana or Rajgir) and jaggery sweet balls. : One of my favourites. As an aside, you must know that amaranth seeds of the amaranth flower have been widely used as a snack or porridge in India. It is gluten free, has loads of Calcium, Iron, magnesium and other vitamins. -They are small seeds that need to be popped in a well heated pan, little by little( a spoon at a time), else many will remain unpopped, or if you put a whole cup in the pan, its going to pop out of it and become a merry mess all over the kitchen. Strain it once its done to sieve out the unpopped seeds. Which can be used later as a porridge, or in any other snack.
- Heat the jaggery in a few spoons of pure ghee, add water, and make it into a liquid. Strain( to keep the impurities in the jaggery away) and pour the liquid in the popped amaranth, add (optionally)chopped dry fruits, dates( less, else it will become very sweet).
-Mix the whole mass well, and while it is hot,make it into round balls. 
3. Another tasty meal is the barnyard millet (also called sama or vrat ke chawal)pulao.: -wash and soak the millet in water, like we do to rice.
-Heat a tablespoon of pure ghee in a pan, add curry leaves, green chili, a pinch of cumin, red chili powder, rock salt, diced and cubed potatoes, peanuts, cardamom, cinnamon, all of this to be mildly stirred.
-add the millet and cook it in one and a half times of water.
-Garnish with green coriander and enjoy it as a pulao.
4. Pakoras (fritters) : This is a deep fried snack and can be avoided. But for those who fast for all nine days, it can make a meal for a couple of days. These fritters, are made with pumpkin, potato, green chili, all chopped and added in a mixture of Buckwheat (Kuttu) flour, or waterchestnut (Singhara) flour, and deep fried till golden brown. Enjoy with green chutney or curd to make it more wholesome. 
5. Papadam and other munchies   or papad of sago, potato, tapioca, can be enjoyed as a side dish with any meal or just as a snack in the evening with tea. These could be roasted or fried. In my moms home they are fried and feasted on.
French fries, roasted and salted peanuts, Makhana (lotus seeds), Banana fritters are a few other edibles to snack on. 
6. Milk and milk products : Milk is a complete meal in itself. Milk, curd, cottage cheese (home made), Sweet delicacies of milk, all can be consumed. But for those who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or find that milk can create bloating, its best to avoid. Yogurt though is a great meal, especially if one adds boiled potato, salt, red chili powder, roasted cumin powder, in it.   
7. Drinks :  Staying hydrated is important. Lemon juice, other fruit juices, coconut water, milk shakes, butter milk, Lassi, all of these can be enjoyed too.

With all the foods that can be had, there are an amazing number of variations. To just let you know that there are baked dishes, made out of potato,Taro root (arbi) and more, which my friends have as an effort towards healthier options. I can actually go on and on. But since fasting is done for a purpose, abide by it. By all means eat at set times of the day and make it frugal. Fasting makes you feel good about yourself,and because you have controlled your cravings, there is a feeling of accomplishment.It also educates you on your eating habits and 'coz its about disciplining too.
With this I end my attempt at providing ideas for a few common but yum meals for those who are fasting. And for those who aren't, can still enjoy it if it's made in the house. 
KEEP COOKING KEEP LOVING <3
  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

From the land of incredible diversity and peace~The Navratri Special


This article will be published in two parts.
 PART 1
 Well, I cannot stop at this. India, my country, is also the land of diverse cultures, of and for all seasons and people, of mysticism, of varied religions, and historically the land of one of the worlds most ancient cultures, The Indus valley civilization. It is a rich and exotic country, a land of many festivals and celebrations. We celebrate seasons, change of seasons, equinoxes, birthdays of guru's and swami's, Gods and Goddesses, days important in the Hindu mythology, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism, if I have not missed out on any more. 
And in all of this, one thing is common, we celebrate all our festivals with great involvement,excitement and enthusiasm. There is a lot of cooking that happens, despite the fasting that goes along with some of the important dates. Fasting and feasting go hand in hand normally.Not without its rules to be followed though. Most of the rules have scientific undertones to it. Now, the Navratri festival that literally means nine (Nav) nights (Ratri), is held for nine nights and ten days. The Chaitra Navratri (spring) culminates in Ram Navami and the Sharad Navratri (Autumn) culminates in Dusshera. 
The reasons behind restrictions in fasting are mainly due to the change of season, when immunity is low and infections and illnesses are in the air. This is the time when metabolism slows down, and therefore heavy foods should be avoided. It is our duty to try and lead a healthy life, A change in diet with foods that digest faster can detox our bodies, make us feel good, lively and strong. I will now mention the foods to be avoided, foods that we can eat and digest, and a few mix and match yummy and healthy concoctions made from the stuff we can eat during this festival. They are mostly those recipes that I have had at my Mom in laws place, or some that I have seen and heard about from friends, colleagues and neighbors. There may be lots that I may have missed, like I said India is diverse, every state, every community has their own rules to abide by. Readers with different points of view, or those who can give ideas, or suggestions, are most welcome to pitch in.

FOOD FARE TO BE AVOIDED : Onions, garlic, whole grains, rice, eggs, meat, common salt, lentils and legumes, garam masala, oils made from seeds and lots more. Avoid all that is heavy on the stomach, and takes a long time to digest.Staying light is the trick. 

 FOOD STUFF WE CAN FEAST ON : Potato, sweet potato, Taro root (arbi), Jackfruit, gourds, ginger, cucumber, pumpkin, Kuttu (buckwheat) flour, Singhara (waterchestnut) atta, Barnyard Millet, also called vrat ke chawal, peanuts, makhana ( lotus seeds), dry fruits, Sabudana or Tapioca, Jaggery (gur) milk and milk products, cardamom, cumin seeds,Sendha namak (rock salt), fruits and more.

SOME IDEAS FOR NAVRATRI FOODS :  The important thing is to keep that fire in our bellies by eating simple and eating right. . After all, these nine nights that are dedicated to the Goddess Durga, are meant for prayers and cleansing, both. It's a mind and body alignment, that ultimately makes us go a step further, spiritually and physically.
1. There are innumerable dishes that we can make with Potato.
Potato and cucumber salad, where we can boil and cool potatoes, cut it into small pieces add diced cucumber and small chunks of cottage cheese, sprinkle chopped coriander, mint, green chilies ,rock salt, pepper and a dash of lemon juice. 
It turns out quite yum and has enough carbs, protein, calcium, sodium, vitamin C among other nutrients, to satiate the soul.
Potato cutlets : Mash boiled potatoes, add a little sago( sabudana) for binding, crushed peanuts, chopped coriander, oregano,and green chilies  red chili flakes and grated ginger. Mix it all together till it feels like a soft dough. Pat small portions into round or cylindrical shaped cutlets. Instead of  deep frying the cutlets, use minimum oil and make it crisp on a non stick or scratch resistant pan.
2. Sabudana Khichadi  : A delicacy my mom makes for me each time I fast. Mamma's love. :) Soak a catori( small bowl about 100 gms) of sabudana in just enough water that the sago is immersed in it, for half an hour to 40 minutes.. Do not drown the sago, else its going to become too soft and get mashed up into a mass. We need each grain looking like a transparent pearl. 
Now add a little peanut oil, or ghee in a pan,heat it on medium flame, crackle a pinch of cumin seeds(jeera), add chopped green chilis, , crushed peanuts, few small chunks of boiled potato, salt and the sabudana. Mix it all well for a while. Remove it from fire and keep it covered for ten minutes. Garnish it with chopped coriander and mint and serve with coriander chutney. It can also be had with a bowl of curd.
3. Gourd and tomato broth with Buckwheat flour flat bread ( Lauki ki rassaedaar sabji with kuttu ke aata ki roti) : Chop a small piece of gourd and a medium sized tomato into small square pieces. Put a spoon of ghee in a pressure cooker, crackle a pinch of cumin seeds, add tomato,desired amount of salt and the gourd. Add enough water in it to become a mushy broth. Pressure cook this for 7 minutes on medium flame. Once the pressure is released on its own, garnish this with chopped coriander and eat it with the bread. 
Note: In most Indian dishes we add turmeric and coriander powder for the herbal flavour to seep in the veggies. During Navratri these spices are not used.
4. Paneer (cottage cheese) butter masala: -For a person, dice the home made cottage cheese into cubes. 
-Shallow fry these cubes and keep it aside. 
-In a pan, heated on medium flame, add two tablespoons of pure ghee, crackle half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, add a tablespoon of curd, and pureed tomato mixture. This tomato mixture for the paneer dish made for fasting, will include two medium sized tomatoes, one green chili, a small piece of ginger, a teaspoon of chironjee( also called charoli, have a nutty flavor, used in Indian curries to enhance taste, and for those on fast, it will provide energy). Chironjee can be substituted with about 4 almonds which is a healthier option.Once the mixture with curd, seems to be done well, add the paneer cubes, half a cup of water, and let it simmer. Once done add a dollop of cream, and garnish with chopped coriander. 
-Can be eaten with Kuttu atta rotis, or fried puris. But like I said, avoid too much fried food, its a fast and abstaining from heavy food is important.
Buckwheat flour bread(roti) : The Indian flat breads are simple to make. Make a dough of the desired amount of flour, divide it into portions. Roll each portion into a semi thick two to three inch circle. Each bread will be put on a griddle or a flat pan on medium flame, it is optional to use ghee. It is cooked on both sides, and will remain a bit thick as buckwheat does not soak in too much water, it has its own water content and we have to keep the dough dry while rolling by applying the dry flour to it. Pinch it in places while cooking so that the inside part does not remain uncooked. 
Remember: Buckwheat is gluten free and light on the stomach. Alternatively you can use water chestnut (singhare ka atta) flour, amaranth flour ( Rajgira ) or millet ( Sama ke chawal)flour for making these rotis or parathas.
 Have it with gourd broth, potato broth or any of the vegetables that I will mention in part 2 of this article.
I would really like to hear some suggestions as I know there are many variations to these recipes. Do pitch in. 
Thanks

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Youth of Today

Well, a feminist, I am. Or kind of. And no, right at the start of my blog I don't want anyone to throw rotten eggs at me. This post is here, to bring in a bit of humor. Why we really need to look up some recipes, however simple they may be, is because,most of us, would not have done any cooking. That could be because, reading, playing games, on the computer or outside, doing homework and projects for school work, would have kept us away from the kitchen. Mom, does it all, after all. The food is there, always has been, so why worry about cooking up a meal. We may even need to watch on the net, how to churn up a simple dish made of eggs. Here is a video, from an old movie, the visuals say it all...watch it.