Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Insulin in a bubblegum-definitely a boon for Diabetics!

I've never been a big fan of bubblegum,but the idea of chewing a bubblegum instead of an insulin jab is most welcome.
A research team led by Tejal Desai at the University of California is busy working on a way to deliver insulin orally rather than through injections. Insulin being a hormone, cannot be administered orally as it get's destroyed by the acids in the stomach.
The researchers are working on a process of shielding the insulin in some kind of a protective microscopic coating so that it can be delivered into the bloodstream.
Though the research is still in it's infancy and needs to be tested on humans-it'll be a big boon to the millions of diabetics who have to endure the injections everyday.
Way to go professor and here's hoping that the "bubble(gum) doesn't break"!!
Read more:
1)Telegraph: Chew this once a day: medical bubblegum could replace daily jabs.
2)Medical News Today: Enhancing Drug Delivery in Gut Using Nano Bubble Gum.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pumpkin and Okra Sambar(Palakkad style)

Pumpkin and okra sambar
We had this awesome sambar at a friends place during the Diwali weekend. It was made by my friend's mother and she had used pumpkin and ladiesfinger/okra for the sambar. The family has it's roots in Palakkad,a town on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Being Palakkad Iyers their cuisine is a unique blend of the cooking styles from both the states (Kerala and Tamil Nadu).
I've always used the popular ready-made sambar powder to date and had never made the sambar from scratch(roasting and grinding the masalas). I had to get the recipe and it turned out so well that I've decided to make sambar the 'hard-way' instead of taking the 'easy way' out henceforth.
This sambar is typically made with any two of these seasonal vegetables: ladiesfinger/okra, arabi/taro root, pumpkin, capsicum and drumstick.
Here's the recipe as given by Ms Sarda Ramakrishnan:
Ingredients: (Serves 8)
  • Coriander seeds: 2tbsp
  • Fenugreek seeds:1 tbsp
  • Channa dal: 1 tbsp
  • Dry red chillies: 5
  • Tamarind pulp: walnut sized (soak in water and squeeze out the pulp),
  • Tur dal: 2 cups (finely mashed)
  • Fresh coconut: 1/2 cup grated
  • Pumpkin: 1 cup (cut into 1 and 1/2" pieces)
  • Ladiesfinger/Okra: 1 cup (cut into 1 and 1/2" pieces)
  • Hing/asafoetida: 1/2tsp
  • Salt: to taste
For the tempering:
  • Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Curry leaves:5-6 nos.
  • Oil: 2tsp
  1. Roast the coriander seeds,fenugreek seeds,channa dal and the red chillies in a pan till the fenugreek and channa dal start turning red.
  2. Let it cool and then grind to a fine paste along with the grated coconut.
  3. Cook the pumkin and okra pieces in the tamarind pulp along with salt and enough water till the vegetables are half cooked.
  4. Add the cooked tur dal and the ground masala paste to the vegetables. Add enough water to bring it to a sambar consistency.
  5. Bring the sambar to a boil and add the hing powder.
  6. In a separate pan,heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When it starts to sputter,add the curry leaves.
  7. Pour this tempering over the sambar.
  8. Serve hot with rice.

Question: What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?
Don't throw away the pumpkin seeds- you can wash, dry and then roast them. The roasted pumpkin seeds are considered a snack food and are loaded with zinc.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mixed dal dosa/ Adai (Mixed lentils and rice crêpe)

Mixed dal Dosa/ Adai

What does one call a 'dosa' in English-is it a crêpe or a pancake? Oh but wait a minute-'crêpe ' is actually French in origin,so does that make the English translation of the 'dosa' a 'pancake'? Can't I just call it a 'Dosa', or hasn't Indian cuisine (or to be more precise-South Indian cuisine) gained enough popularity for foodies world over to know what a 'dosa' is? Well,as Shakespeare would have put it: "What is in a name, that which we call a 'dosa', by any other name would taste as great" ;-)!!
I was craving for some crispy dosas as I hadn't made them in a long time. But,with the weather no longer conducive for fermenting the batter, I had to think of something which didn't need fermenting. That's when my mom suggested the mixed dal dosa-or "Adai" as it's called in Tamil Nadu. Mom suggested soaking equal quantities of all the dals/split lentils that I had at home along with equal amounts of rice. There are so many different recipes for this mixed dal dosa/ Adai,but here's how I made it(with whatever ingredients were available at home last night):

Ingredients for Mixed Dal Dosa/Adai: (Serves 4)
  • Raw rice: 1/2 cup
  • Channa dal: 1/2 cup
  • Urad dal(split black matpe beans): 1/2 cup
  • Mung dal: 1/2 cup
  • Masoor dal(pink lentil): 1/2 cup
  • Tur dal (split pigeon peas)
  • Cooked rice OR beaten rice(poha): 1/2 cup
  • Ginger: 1" piece
  • Dry red chillies: 4-5 (or to taste)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Water: 1 cup
  1. Soak all the dals and the raw rice for at least 4-6 hours.
  2. Grind all the ingredients together with a cup of water till you get a fine paste ( pancake batter consistency). If using beaten rice/poha-soak it for 15 minutes before grinding.
  3. Pour a ladle of the batter on a hot 'tawa' or non-stick pan,and spread into a thin dosa.
  4. Cover for a minute,then carefully flip it over to cook the other side.
  5. Serve the mixed dal dosa/ Adai piping hot with chutney and/or sambar.
Mixed Dal Dosa or Adai

Question: What is the difference between a 'pancake' and a '
crêpe ' and what is the more befitting translation for the 'dosa' ?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Microwave Condensed milk peda

I was looking for some quick and easy recipes for Indian sweets to make for Diwali and I came across this microwave recipe for "Condensed milk halwa" on Veggie Platter. This was not just quick and easy,but quite surprisingly needed just three ingredients-a tin of condensed milk (400gm),three tablespoons of yogurt and a teaspoon of ghee. All you need to do is mix the ingredients and put it in the microwave on high for a total of 12 minutes. The only thing is that you need to take it out every 2 minutes and mix it well(Suma of Veggie Platter had mentioned to mix it every 3 minutes-I guess it differs in different microwaves).
Once it's done,you can decorate it some dry fruits and nuts of your choice.
Try it out when you have to make a sweet in a hurry!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Gym

One of my friends had sent this in an email and I thought it was worth sharing with all instead of forwarding it to a selected few:

The Gym
Bulging belly, sagging chest
The misery Nature does manifest
Those cravings you used to give in
Were never short of committing a sin

But as you enter the local gym
Conjure up images of a torso - trim
You venture inside with a positive mind
Only to find…its more than a grind

The instructor guides you in and out
Every part of your body seems to shout
If only you could resist those treats
You wouldn't be sweating to his beats

You ask him "How much time would it take??"
The extra cheese you have to forsake !!
He glances at you with half a smile & sympathy
You guess his reply as though - Its telepathy

Workout's Finished… You praise the Lord
Your sadistic mentor had hung a sword
Raising up your tee…you glance at your belly
Its still the same – hairy, stinky and swelly

Packing tread back home
Don't wanna rest till you flatten your dome
Something inside haunts you in despair
"PREVENTION is always better than REPAIR"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Moong dal Kosumbari(Cucumber and mung dal salad)

Cucumber and mung dal kosumbari
"Kosumbari" is the term for salad in the Kannada language(called 'koshimbir' in Marathi). Kosumbari/koshimbir is one of the easiest salads and it always reminds me of the traditional foods made during festivals and weddings. A kosumbari is different from the rest of the salads as it incorporates soaked split yellow mung beans and a tempering which adds a nice flavor and aroma.
Ingredients for the kosumbari/koshimbir:
  • Cucumber: 1 cup (finely chopped)
  • Mung dal: 1/4th cup (washed and soaked for at least an hour)
  • Green chillies: 1 slit lengthwise (optional)
  • Coconut: 2-3 tsp (freshly grated/frozen)
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 2 tsp (finely chopped for garnish)
  • Lime juice: 1-2 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
For the tempering (optional):
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin: 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal (split black matpe beans): 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 2-3 nos.
  • Oil: 1tsp
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the mustard seeds,cumin seeds and the urad dal.
  3. When the mustard starts to sputter,add the curry leaves.
  4. Pour the tempering over the cucumber and mung dal kosumbari/ koshimbir(salad) and mix well.
You could also try adding some grated carrots and grated raw mango to the cucumber and mung dal kosumbari/ koshimbir to give it some colour and make it tangy.

Question: What dish reminds you of a festive spread?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dry bhindi sabzi (Dry Okra curry with potatoes)

Okra or 'Ladies finger' as it is known in India has always been a favorite vegetable. I bought some fresh okra the other day to try out something new-'gumbo'. I had only heard about this dish and finally managed to taste it from a can!! I checked for some gumbo recipes and found so many-I had no clue which was the right one. Finally I chickened out and turned the okra into my tried and tested version. This recipe should actually have more okra than potatoes,but since I picked up just a handful (for the gumbo),I had to add in more potatoes to increase the quantity of the 'sabzi'.
  • Okra/ladiesfinger: 500 gms
  • Potato: 1 small diced
  • Green chillies: 1 or 2(slit lengthwise)
  • Onion: 1/2 medium (finely chopped)
  • Tamarind paste: 1 tsp
  • Ginger: 1/2 "(finely chopped)
  • Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper powder: 1 tsp(freshly ground)
  • Garam masala: 1 tsp
  • Salt:to taste
For the tempering(optional):
  • Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Cumin seeds/Zeera : 1/2 tsp
  • Sesame seeds: 1tsp
  • Curry leaves: 2-3 nos.
  • Oil: 3tsp
  1. Wash and pat dry the okra before cutting them.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan, add the mustard seeds,sesame seeds and cumin seeds.
  3. When the mustard starts to sputter,add the curry leaves, turmeric powder and the chopped ginger.
  4. Fry till the ginger turns golden brown,then add the chopped onions and fry till it browns.
  5. Then add the diced potatoes and the green chillies and fry for about 5 mins,stirring constantly.
  6. Add the chopped okra, the tamarind paste,the garam masala, pepper powder and stir-fry on a medium flame, till the okra and potatoes are cooked.
  7. Add the salt and mix well.
  8. Serve with some hot chapathis/phulkas(whole wheat tortillas) or as a side dish with a plate of rice and dal.
I'm still on the lookout for a great gumbo recipe and I'd really appreciate if someone has a tried-and tested recipe which I could try out.

Question: What is your favorite okra dish?

Friday, August 28, 2009

How much sugar do you take in a day?

Have you ever given a thought to how many teaspoons of sugar you consume in a day?
This would mean all the sugar that you added in your tea,coffee,porridge and also that which was already present in the cakes,desserts,soft drinks, cookies and not to forget the ice creams that you had today!
The count could easily go upto 20-25 teaspoons (yes,just think of it: a can of cola has around 10 teaspoons of sugar in it). In other words,the amount of sugar you eat in a day would probably provide the calories equivalent to one meal for some!!
Till now there were no solid guidelines as far as sugar consumption was concerned,but now the American Heart Association has put out guidelines for sugar consumption for men and women. According to them a women should not consume more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar and for men it should not be more than 9 teaspoons per day.
Sugar by itself does not increase the risk of heart disease,it is known to increase the risk factors like high levels of triglycerides, obesity and diabetes among others.
Although the number of teaspoons mentioned is just a rough estimate, you could calculate the amount required for each individual by using the USDA's website (this can also be used by parents who are interested in calculating the sugar allowance for their kids).
For those interested in learning more,check out:
Question: How many teaspoons of sugar did you take today?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Misal Pav ( Moth bean curry with traditional Indian bread)

Misal Pav

"Misal" is a traditional Maharastrian (from the state of Maharashtra) dish and actually means "mixture". It's made of sprouted Moth beans called 'matki' in Marathi. It's one of my husbands favourite Marathi dishes and though I grew up in the state of Maharashtra, I ate it for the first time when I visited hubby's hometown in Belgaum, Karnataka (which is situated very close to Maharastra).Till then I had only eaten it's counterpart and the more famous dish called "Pav Bhaji". Pav in Marathi means bread and seems to have originated from the Portuguese term for bread-"pao".
Today happens to be hubby's birthday and like always,I wanted to cook up something special. I was looking for ideas and had even asked a couple of friends for something new to make. The usual suggestions of "biryani,paneer butter masala, kofta" was politely turned down (cause I've been making similar stuff for the past b'day's) and then my friend Shilpa came up with this brilliant idea of making 'Misal Pav',and I thought "why not-it's his favorite,and I've never made it before"!!
This was sometime last week,so I spent a good amount of time surfing a couple of blogs for the right recipe as I've eaten it only once before and that too in a restaurant,four years ago. I finally zeroed it down to two recipes,that I felt must be the authentic way of making it.
The soaking and sprouting of the beans takes two days, so I had to do some 'back-calculation' as I like to call it,which went like this: Birthday-Wednesday,so soak beans on Monday night, Tuesday rinse beans and tie in muslin cloth and keep it in some place warm,and hope that it has sprouted on D-day!!
Since I haven't made any changes to the original recipes I saw in the two blogs,I'm just going to give a link to them. So,you can check out the recipes here(this one gives the recipes to make the masala as well) and here.
Shilpa had given me the all important masala which her MIL had made called "Goda Masala/Kala Masala" which gives this dish it's distinct flavour, so thankfully I didn't have to make any.
The 'misal' once ready, is eaten after mixing it with freshly chopped onions, coriander/cilantro, green chillies(optional), a little "farsan/Chiwda/Bombay mix" to give it a crunchy texture and a dash of lime. I substituted 'Potato rolls' for the pav and the end result was "simply superb" to quote hubby dear!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

"Tulsi" (Ocimum tenuiflorum) also known as 'Holy Basil' in English (not the same as 'Basil' found here in the US), is a very sacred plant to the Hindus. I remember we would have at least 5-6 plants of the two varieties of tulsi in our balcony back in Bombay,where I grew up. One variety had purplish-green leaves,which my grand mom said was called "Krishna" tulsi and the other had light green leaves and was referred to as the "Laksmi" tulsi. Both varieties have medicinal properties,but my grandmother believed that the "Krishna" tulsi was superior in it's healing properties.
It's generally believed that eating the leaves first thing in the morning is good for general well-being.We never used the leaves for any recipes as such, but it was used as a home remedy for coughs and colds. I still remember being given some sea salt and black pepper corn,wrapped inside a couple of tulsi leaves whenever I caught a cold/ sore throat (and how I hated chewing on it). Well,I wasn't much of a believer in natural remedies at that age, and popping a pill seemed like a more 'civilized' thing to little me! There was also a concoction of the leaves which was known as 'tulsi tea' with some honey and lime juice.
Ayurveda refers to tulsi as an "elixir of life" and believes it can promote longevity. It's used in a number of ayurvedic remedies including inflammation and malaria.
I've seen basil (Ocimum basilicum) here in the US (which is also supposed to have some anti-bacterial properties),but haven't really used it. In the past couple of days 'tulsi' has been popping up in conversations/emails .I even read about it in an article in the Times Of India's online edition.
India seems to be in the grip of swine flu and the author of the article(who happens to be a firm believer in natural and alternative remedies) lists 'tulsi' as one of the 10 home remedies to strengthen the immune system.
Right now strengthening the immune system to prevent getting infected from the swine flu sounds like the best option. I don't pooh-pooh the idea of natural remedies anymore(though I still would love to see studies to support the theory) and would not think twice about eating the leaves,if it means that I would be taking one less medication!

Question: Do you think plants have the ability to cure/prevent an ailment or do you feel that when it comes to curing, only 'modern' medicines do the trick?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Curd Rice (Yogurt Rice)

With the temperature oscillating between 103F-113F (40C-45C) the whole of last month,the thought of cooking and even eating food has been putting off. We've survived on all the "cooling foods" like ragi(finger millet) porridge, buttermilk, curd rice and loads of fruits,salads,juices and of course the family favorite-ICE CREAMS!!
Curd rice or yogurt rice is a "must have" in almost all South Indian homes. This is mostly the last course and is believed to be cooling. The everyday curd rice is just the addition of curd/yogurt and salt to rice and is eaten with pickles or some vegetable curry. When it's made as a separate dish, the "tempering" or "tadka"is added to it,which adds a distinct flavour and aroma to the dish. What you'll need:
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
  • Cooked (and cooled) rice: 2 cups
  • Curd/Plain yogurt: 1 1/2-2 cups
  • Salt: to taste
  • Fresh pomegranates/grapes: 1/2 cup (optional)
  • Coriander leaves/cilantro: 1 tbsp chopped (for the garnish)
For the tempering:
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Urad dal (split black matpe beans): 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves : 4-5 nos.
  • Cashew nuts: 1 tbsp
  • Green chillies: 1-2 nos.(chopped).
  1. Mix the curd/yogurt and salt with the rice (add a little water if needed). Keep aside.
  2. Heat a small saucepan and add the oil,mustard seeds, urad dal,cumin seeds.
  3. When the mustard seeds start to sputter, add the cashew nuts, curry leaves and chopped green chillies. Fry for a minute or two.
  4. Pour the tempering over the curd rice and mix well.
  5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and the pomegranates/grapes(optional)
  6. Serve with any vegetable curry or with an Indian pickle or even a chutney.
P.S: I've been on a "blogging-break/vacation" for exactly a month now. I'd like to blame the weather (ever tried touching the laptop when it's 104F??), my family (who've accused me of becoming "addicted to the internet and blogging") and also the fact that I just wasn't able to think of new dishes/articles to share.
In the meanwhile I've been showered with loads of awards-thank you all SO much!! Will do a collective post for the awards next.

Question: What is your favorite dish when the temperatures start to soar?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ever tried any of these??

I'm really curious..........about what?? Has anybody out there ever eaten or even seen any of these:
  • Fifth Third Burger-at Fifth Third baseball park (Comstock Park,Michigan)
  • Mega Mel Burger- at Mel's Country Cafe (Texas)
  • 7-pound burrito- at Jack n Grills (Denver)
  • Fried Banana Split- at the Texas State Fair
  • Shack Stack- at Shake Shack (New York)
What's so great about these,and why am I so curious about some burgers/burritos/banana split??
I was just browsing through an article on WebMD,and it lists them as 5 of the most fattening food!! How fattening can they be? Here are the numbers (and yes,please keep in mind that most of us require less than 2,000 calories per day).
  • Fifth Third Burger :4,800 calories
  • Mega Mel Burger :4,556 calories
  • 7-pound burrito : 3,764 calories
  • Fried Banana Split : 2,000 calories
  • Shack Stack : 1,500 calories
4,800 calories in one burger!!!! That's like the amount of calories your body would require in, say, two and a half days! Imagine getting 2 days worth of calories in one meal (that probably is their USP!). Seriously-I need to see these. Are they really large burgers(like the one's Jughead would order at Pop Tate's in the Archie comics I grew up reading)? Can a person really eat it in one go-or do they share it with someone or rather some people? If someone does eat it-do they feel hungry at the next meal or are they stuffed enough to skip the next meal/meals??
Source: WebMD: Extreme Eating: 5 Most Fattening Foods Ever!

Eating out always has it's downside-the cost,the hidden calories. So,what does one do? Stop eating out-well,not really. If you choose wisely you could end up with good healthy foods that are also "pocket friendly". Check out these cool slide show : Healthy Eating at Restaurants.

Question: Do you think it would be a good idea to put the calorie content next to the dish in the menu?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Masala Dosa( Savoury Crepes with Potato filling)

Where's the potato?
I've never been a potato fan,and no it has nothing to do with the fact that I happen to be a dietitian(I've always had people saying "oh-is it because you're a dietitian?". I still don't see the connection).To set the record straight ,I hated it even as a kid, when I had no idea 'what' or 'who' a "Dietitian" was!!
Anyway,later on I had a colleague who hated peas,and we made a happy pair since 'alu mutter sabzi' or simply put 'Potatoes peas curry' is a very popular combo in India. At work,with no parents around,we would happily pick and dump what we disliked into each others plate (me the alu/potatoes and she the mutter/peas). There are only two ways that I'd happily eat the potaoes-in the 'masala dosa' or as 'chips'.
Wondering why I'm delving into my love-hate relationship with potatoes-because it happens to be the BSI (Blogger's Secret Ingredient) for this week chosen by Christo at 'Chez What?'. I had to really make up my mind as to which dish to send-the one's which I make and 'have' to eat as the hubby likes it OR the one's that I can 'happily' eat but are too cumbersome to make,well at least for me it is(but I can picture my mom laughing at this point),and I chose the latter!
I've never made and never will make chips at home-so that was out of the question.That left me with the masala dosa,and I set about the task of making it first thing Tuesday morning(yes,now you know why I call it cumbersome).So,I stuck a blue post-it on the fridge on Monday night saying "soak rice+dal for the dosa first thing in the morning". Did the needful on Tuesday morning,then in the evening went about grinding the soaked stuff to a fine paste. Kept it overnight, hoping (with fingers crossed) that the weather will be warm enough for it to ferment and woke up this morning to a nicely fermented batter(fingers uncrossed)!!
Ingredients (for the potato filling):
  • Potatoes: 4 nos. (boiled and coarsely mashed/cut)
  • Green chillies: 1-2 nos. (slit length-wise)
  • Onions: 1 large or 2 medium (cut lengthwise-and then cut into half)
  • Ginger: 1/2" piece(chopped fine)
  • Turmeric:1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste
For the tempering:
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves: 2-3 nos.
  • Channa dal/split black chickpeas/Myles: 1 teaspoon
  • Cashew nuts: 4-5 nos(chopped)
  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan,then add the mustard, cumin and the channa dal.
  2. When the mustard starts to sputter,add the curry leaves and the cashew nuts and stir till the cashew nuts are brown.
  3. Add the ginger and fry till it turns a golden brown.
  4. Add the slit green chillies,the chopped onions,turmeric powder,salt and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  5. Add the coarsely mashed potatoes and mix well. Add 1/2 cup water and cook stirring continuously for 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
Ingredients (for the dosa):Method:
  • Wash, then soak the raw rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds in water for at least 4-6 hours.
  • Drain the water used for soaking.Add the cooked rice (if using flattened rice-wash,drain and let it stand for at least 10-15 mins), and about a cup of water and grind to a fine paste (should be as thick as the pancake batter).
  • Let it ferment overnight (or for 10-12 hours) in a big bowl(the batter will rise if the weather is warm enough).
  • Once it has fermented,add salt and mix. Then pour a ladleful of the batter onto a HOT pan and spread the batter with the ladle in a circular motion(going from the centre of the pan to the outside).
  • Add a little ghee/butter/oil to the edges of the dosa and let it cook till you notice it getting golden brown from underneath.
  • At this stage, place the yellow potato filling at the centre of the dosa and fold from both sides (like a wrap) or you could also fold it from three sides(the resulting dosa would looks like a triangle).
  • Remove from the pan.Serve hot with a little cilantro chutney and sambar .
There's the potato!!

That's my "fireman" son eating his 'triangle dosa' with non-spicy potato filling (I have to make it separately with no green chillies)!! Phew,what a lot of work,but the result is worth every minute I spent on it! Thanks Christo for choosing the spud as the BSI for this week.
  • Warm weather is crucial for the batter to ferment.
  • The pan needs to be really HOT before you start making the dosas.
  • The dosas can be made without the potato filling too- then it would be known as 'Plain Dosa' (not as much fun as eating the 'masala' variety).
Question: What is your favourite potato dish?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spicy, "Garlicky" Peanut Chutney Powder

This is one of my husband's favourite chutney's and he just cannot stop sprinkling it over everything and anything! I had never tasted it (forget even making it) before I got married and had only heard about it from him(my MIL apparently would always have a batch of it in the house).
My family used more of coconut(milk/paste,etc) for our cooking as we are originally from a small coastal town in South India (Mangalore to be specific, for those who are familiar with India and Indian towns), whereas my hubby's family is more familiar to using peanuts in their cooking.
He sort of knew what ingredients his mom used for making it and asked me to try it. I tried making it a couple of times and every time he found something wrong with it-it was either not "garlicky enough"(even when I had added 10 garlic cloves!!) or "too pasty". Finally, fed-up with these comments,I decided to call up my MIL(why didn't I ever think of it before???? Silly me!!) and ask her how she makes it-that's when she told me my mistakes:
  • use about 3-4 raw garlic cloves (I used to saute them in a little oil) to get the "garlicky" taste,
  • and use a handful of roasted bengal gram dal(roasted and puffed split chickpeas) which not only adds to the taste but also absorbs the oil from the peanuts (and the moisture from the raw garlic) and hence the result is a "powder"chutney and not a "pasty" chutney!
Over the years,I've not only perfected the art of making this chutney powder,but also added my own "healthy" ingredient-flaxseeds!
  • Roasted peanuts: 1 cup(skinned)
  • Roasted gram dal: 1/2 cup
  • Garlic: 2-3 cloves
  • Flax seed : 1 tablespoon (optional)
  • Turmeric: 1/4th teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder: 1 teaspoon(add more if you want it spicier)
  • Salt: to taste
  1. Powder all the ingredients together to get a coarse chutney.
  2. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the fridge(should keep for about 2 weeks or maybe even more).
You can use it as a chutney or sprinkle a little on noodles/fried rice/salads or mix it with a little yogurt and use as a dip or as a filling inside sandwiches.

Question: Do you try and stick to a given recipe OR do you like to experiment by throwing in some other ingredients?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A 'special' chocolate aimed at fighting acne?

I had to share this(though I'm not convinced that it works). Growing up everyone has heard "don't eat too many chocolates-it's bad for zits/acne".So,what do they do? They come out with a special bar of chocolate that supposedly delivers micro-nutrients and antioxidants that help to clear the skin!!!
This so-called "Acne Care Chocolate's" manufactured by the US based company Frutels is about to hit the shelves in the UK and Australia. It claims that consumers need to eat about two to five(???) of these per day to see the results in about two weeks time!
Convinced? Well,I'm not. Let's wait and watch-only time (and some gullible teenagers) will prove whether the product really works or whether it's another gimmick.
P.S: Please note that this is a special "neutraceutical" chocolate and not the regular bar of chocolate!

Question: Would you buy these "sounds too good to be true" remedies OR would you rather wait for proven results before spending your well-earned money?

Monday, June 22, 2009

A spaghetti dish-with Spaghetti Squash!!

So what's so great about me putting up a photo of a plate of spaghetti??
Look more closely-that's not your regular spaghetti-it's a SQUASH!!!!! A couple of weeks back when I was chatting with my brother, he had mentioned that he had recently tried spaghetti squash and that got me intrigued and I quickly put it on my shopping list. I found it quite easily,but I wasn't too sure if it was the right one as it looked no different from the rest of the squash where it was kept( I guess I was expecting something which at least vaguely resembled spaghetti),but the label on it very clearly said "Spaghetti Squash" and also had cooking instructions (thank you very much).

The instructions said that I could either bake it or microwave it-I microwaved it on high for about 7-8 minutes(after piercing the rind) and let it cool for sometime before cutting it open-and voila, there was the spaghetti just staring at me-beautiful!!!
I hadn't even thought of what to do with it. I could make spaghetti(after all it was named after it) or I could use it as noodles. Since this was the first time,I settled with a simple spaghetti dish with sauteed vegetables. The result was a nice crunchy dish( and it was all vegetables!!) which was very filling. Next time I'm going to be a little more adventurous and try out something new-maybe a salad, or maybe a stir-fry dish,or use it as noodles. Any suggestions??

Question: How would you like to try out Spaghetti squash?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A quiz,a slideshow and some awards!!

Ok-quiz time again( if you are a regular visitor to my blog,you'll know that I tend to throw in a health quiz once in a while)!! This time it's about "Brain-Foods".
Brain foods are foods that affect the performance of your brain. It has been proven that by eating the right food, you can boost your IQ, improve your mood, be more emotionally stable, sharpen your memory and keep your mind young.
You can take a quick tour on what are the different brain foods by going through this slide-show I found on WebMD: Brain Foods That Help You concentrate.

Once you've got an intro to the different brain foods,take a quick-quiz(just 7 questions) to see how much of brain food you need to include ;-)
QUIZ: Brain Foods:How Much Do You Know?

Finally,the award:

It's been raining awards, first it was Jenn(Bread+Butter),then Rebecca(Chow And Chatter),then Muneeba (An Edible Symphony), Renu (Renu's Kitchen), Kittymatti (Preethi's Online Cookbook) and finally Shubha (Munchscrunchandsuch).....whew!!! Thanks guys-that's so SWEET of you. Now I'm supposed to pass it on to 10 new blog's/award-so that makes it around a whopping 60 blogs!! Since I'm in a very generous mood-I'm just going to award it to all you fabulous bloggers who visit my blog!! Congratulations to all!

Question: no question for today,just answer the questions on the quiz !!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pineapple Mulligatawny soup

Pineapple Mulligatawny Soup
There are so many versions of the famous "Mulligatawny Soup" (the literal Tamil translation being just "pepper water" ) that I decided to add my own version-a pineapple (yes,now that I have THE pineapple cutter I can actually experiment with pineapple dishes, since we seem to buying it almost every week) flavoured mulligatawny soup. The addition of the pineapple makes this soup a perfect soup for summer or winter!
  • Pineapple: 1 cup (chopped)
  • Onion: 1/2 medium (finely chopped)
  • Garlic:2 cloves(crushed)
  • Ginger:1/2 " piece(finely chopped)
  • Pepper: 1-2 teaspoon(freshly ground)
  • Turmeric: a pinch
  • Curry powder or Sambar/rasam powder:1/2 to 1 teaspoon
  • Green chillies:1-2(slit lengthwise)
  • Water/vegetable broth/dal water: 2 cups
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste
  • Sugar/Jaggery: 1 teaspoon(optional)
For tempering:
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Zeera/Cumin seeds-1 teaspoon
  • Peppercorns:3-4 nos.
  • Curry leaves:2-3 nos.
  • Hing/Asafoetida: a pinch (optional)
  1. Puree half the quantity of the pineapple into a fine paste and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds,cumin seeds and peppercorns.
  3. When the mustard starts to sputter,add the curry leaves,turmeric and the asafoetida (optional).
  4. Add the chopped ginger and the crushed garlic and stir-fry till slightly brown.
  5. Then,add the chopped onions,green chillies and salt and saute till the onions are golden brown.
  6. Add the pineapple puree along with the rest of the chopped pineapple pieces,curry or sambar/rasam powder,sugar/jaggery(optional) and stir continuously for about 5-6 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Add about 2 cups of water/vegetable broth (or you could also use the water after boiling dal) and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with a dash of freshly ground pepper.
Question: What is your favorite "summer" soup?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Great Find- A Pineapple Cutter!!!

If you don't already have this-go get it!!
I'm so thrilled with this gadget. I love pineapples but absolutely HATE cutting pineapples. My hubby and I always hesitate when buying pineapples(he hates cutting them too), so when he told me he saw a pineapple cutter and a mango cutter(why would anyone need a mango cutter-it's so easy to cut),I had to check it out!! So veni, vidi and I bought it !!

It's so easy,and there's absolutely no mess. You also get a beautiful pineapple shell to use as a bowl for all the wonderful dishes that you can make with pineapples!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuna Cutlets (and why fish is good for your EYES)

Tuna Cutlets
Here's one more reason to increase your "oily" fish intake-the omega-3-fatty acids found in fish have shown to halt and slow down the age-related macular degeneration (AMD), in lay-man's terms: AMD basically is a medical condition which is mostly seen in older adults and results in the loss of vision in the center of the visual field.
The research and findings conducted by Dr Elaine Chong at the University of Melbourne,Australia, involved 90,000 participants and showed that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids could cut the risk of developing AMD by 38%.
Experts suggest eating oily fish like salmons,mackerel,tuna,shellfish and herring about twice a week to get the benefits of omega-3!
Now a simple and tasty way of including fish into your diet: fish cakes or "cutlets" as they are called in India. This is my mom's method of making cutlets(thank you Angie of Angie's Recipes for reminding me of it).
Mom would first steam mackerel,then take out the bones and mix it with mashed potatoes and coat them in rava/ semolina instead of using bread crumbs. Rava absorbs much less oil and tastes equally nice. I used canned tuna,but it tastes great with just about any fish you fancy.
  • Tuna: 1 can (5 oz)
  • Potatoes: 1 medium size (boiled)
  • Onions: 1/2 (finely chopped)
  • Cilantro: 2-3 tablespoons (finely chopped)
  • Giner+garlic paste: 1 teaspoon
  • Green chillies: 1-2 (finely chopped)
  • Rava/Semolina: to coat the cutlets
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: for shallow frying
  1. In a bowl coarsely mash the potatoes.
  2. Drain the water from the tuna and add the tuna,chopped onions,cilantro,chillies,ginger +garlic paste and salt to the mashed potatoes and mix well.
  3. Shape into cutlets and shallow fry till the cutlets turn golden brown.
  4. Serve hot with chutney or tomato sauce.

Question: How much of fish do you manage to include in your diet per week?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chickpeas Chhole with Organic Spices!!

I was thrilled to bits on finding a sample kit of the Arora Creations Authentic Indian Spice Blend of Organic Spices in my mail box two weeks ago.I was quite intrigued when I first heard about it-Organic Indian Spice mix???
To date I've only bought masalas from the Indian store which are all made in India (yup,had always opted for the tried and tested route).To be honest, I was quite skeptical when I decided to use the first packet-the Chhole (pronounced as: Cho-ley) masala, and so I did exactly what was mentioned on the packet(I didn't want to be accused of a having a bias for Indian made stuff!!). The only three changes I did was a)to puree the tomatoes instead of adding chopped tomatoes and b) adding 2 green chillies(we love our chhole spicy) and c)reducing the quantity of oil to my regular "one teaspoon"!
The result-a chhole which reminded of the authentic stuff that you get in the "authentic" Punjabi restaurants back in India!!I got the biggest compliment from hubby and his friends too.Hubby thinks it's the best chhole I've EVER made-HUGE COMPLIMENT (for the Arora Creations Masala actually).Now I can't wait to try out the rest of the masalas for some more compliments ;-)
Here's the recipe with the changes:
  • Oil:1 teaspoon
  • Ginger:1/4th cup (finely chopped)
  • Onion:1/2 cup(finely chopped)
  • Chickpeas: 3 cups boiled/30oz canned(drained and rinsed)
  • Tomatoes: 2 nos.(pureed)
  • Cilantro: 1/4th cup(chopped)
  • Green chillies: 1-2 nos. slit(optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan,then add the chopped ginger and fry for a minute.
  2. Add the chopped onions and salt and fry till they are golden brown.
  3. Add the tomato puree and 1/2 the packet of Arora Creations Punjabi Chhole Spice Blend,stir for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Then add the chickpeas and about 1 cup of water and keep stirring for 5-6 minutes,until desired texture and remove from heat.
  5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with chapatis/naan/rice.
  • If you are expecting a reddish colour chhole-then forget it,this masala has absolutely no added colour (which is what I love!)
  • Mash a tablespoon of the chickpeas and add to the gravy(this is a tip from my MIL who says this adds to the flavour).
Now,I'm just hoping I can find the brand locally(finger's crossed). Thank you Mr.Dhiraj Arora (and Mr.Michael Hurst) for sending me the sample kit and introducing me to a whole new world of spices.
Question: For ethnic dishes, do you prefer buying local brands of spices/mixes/pastes or do you feel that the brands originating from the respective regions are better?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stuffed Green Pepper (with Chilly Tofu) Microwave Low-fat version

Low-fat Microwave Stuffed Capsicum(with Chilly tofu)

I had first seen the recipe of Stuffed Green Bell Pepper (or "Capsicum" and "Shimla Mirchi"as it is popularly known as in India) when I was a kid and was skimming through one of my mother's magazines (I think it was either "Femina" or "Savvy") and came across this awesome looking photo of a stuffed capsicum(I wasn't into cooking then,so I can hardly remember what it was stuffed with, but I'm guessing it had potatoes).
I was so enamored with that photo that I bugged and begged my mom to make it and she finally relented and agreed to make it.So,the next day, off we went,my mom and little me in tow to the bazaar/market and bought a couple of the freshest,greenest and biggest looking capsicums for the recipe(the rest of the stuff which we bought has been deleted from my memory-I happen to have a limited memory space and I tend to save only the most important stuff). Anyway,we got home and my mom got busy in the kitchen with me doing the most important part-opening the magazine to the page where the recipe was and keeping it where my mother could refer to it.That done,I left my mom to do the cooking(she was the expert afterall)and I guess I must have whiled away the time till dinner.
When it was ready,we were called to the dinner table and I ran excitedly(again please note that I was never a good eater as a child and nothing other than chocolates got me excited) to take my place at the dinner table. That was when I saw what my mom had made and I burst into tears,and no-it was not tears of joy,but that of bitter disappointment!
It didn't resemble the dish in the book at all,infact it didn't even look like she had made the same dish.I ran into the kitchen and got the book and pointed it out to her(just incase she had made the NEXT recipe by mistake)-the photo was of a nice green bell pepper,with a perfectly green skin,no blemishes,filled with the yummiest looking stuff with a little firm cap on it.What actually sat on the table was a soggy, greenish brown mass barely able to hold the stuffing!! My mother and the rest of the family tried to explain that in the photo the bell pepper was not subjected to any cooking and was just to get(what I now understand is called) an "awesome shot".
The recipe called for the pepper to be fried,which made it change in colour and texture and hence the soggy mass sitting on our dining table. Whatever she made must have probably tasted great because she did make it a couple of times after that and even experimented with different stuffing's,but I really couldn't care. It was NOT what was in the book!!!
Low-fat Microwave Stuffed Capsicum(the cooked version)

I've always loved the stuffed capsicum served at restaurants, but have found it way too oily to make on a regular basis. Looking for a healthier version I got the idea of "Microwave Stuffed Capsicum".  I had some tofu that I had bought to make "Chilly Tofu"(the recipe for which I have posted earlier). Since it was for a stuffing, the only change I made was to crumble the tofu instead of cutting them into cubes,and yes,I took a snap of the dish before and after cooking the bell pepper!!
Check out the recipe and ingredients for the "Quick Chilly Tofu" here.
To make this dish you will also need about 4 bell peppers (you can choose whatever colour you fancy).
  1. Cut the bell peppers carefully at the top,and remove the seeds.
  2. Apply a little oil to the outer side of the capsicum and microwave on high for 3-8 minutes (depending on the microwave)
  3. Once they are ready,stuff it carefully with the "chilly tofu" (recipe given here) and serve.
  4. You can even stuff it with paneer/ tofu/ egg burji (scrambled eggs). 

Low-fat Microwave Stuffed Capsicum
  • Since I've microwaved the peppers, it doesn't look anything like the fried version that is imprinted in my memory.
  • You could even 

Question: Have you ever followed a recipe to the T only to end up with a dish that didn't quite look like that shown in the book/magazine?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ragi manni/pudding (Fingermillet pudding)

 Ragi Manni/pudding (Finger millet pudding)
Ragi (English-Finger millet,Chinese-䅟子,Arabic- Tailabon, German-Fingerhirse, French-coracan) is a popular millet in Southern India and is made into different dishes like porridges, puddings, pancakes,cookies, etc. Nutritionally,it is rich in the amino acid methionine and is among the few grains which contains a considerable amount of calcium.
Ragi is also given to babies as one of first cereals after rice(in fact Nestle India had launched a baby cereal mix with rice and ragi). My grandmother used to make ragi manni during summer, as it is believed in Ayurveda to cool the body.Traditionally it is made by soaking the ragi millet overnight in water,then grinding it to a fine paste and straining it in a cheesecloth.This is then cooked with jaggery and coconut milk,till it reaches a thick pasty consistency.It is then poured into huge plates and set aside to cool. The end product used to be simply amazing-a dark chocolate brown pudding(my gran used to tell me that it was Indian chocolate pudding,so that she could get me to eat it)that simply melted in the mouth.
Sadly,I could not find ragi millet here(not that I would have gone through the whole cumbersome process even if I had),but managed to get the ragi flour at the Indian store to make this instant version. I substituted milk for the coconut milk and the final product still was very tasty though it didn't have the same rich dark brown colour.Also,since it's not strained you can see brown specks of the ragi coat. The ragi manni/pudding can be eaten hot or cold(I love it cold)and had as a porridge for breakfast or served as a dessert or a healthy anytime snack(if you can mange to control the portion size)!
Ingredients:Serves 2
  • Ragi flour: 1 cup
  • Milk/Coconut milk: 2 cups
  • Jaggery: 1 cup scraped OR Sugar: to taste
  • Cardamom powder: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt: a pinch
  1. Mix the ragi flour with the cold milk and make sure there are no lumps.
  2. Pour this into a saucepan and add the jaggery/sugar,salt and cardamom powder.
  3. Cook on medium heat stirring continuously(take care to see that it doesn't form lumps).
  4. When the mixture starts to thicken, reduce the heat and keep stirring till you get a porridge like consistency.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Serve the ragi manni (finger millet pudding) warm or chilled.
  • You can substitute sugar for the jaggery, though it is more nutritious to use jaggery.
  • Adding a pinch of salt is supposed to make the dish sweeter (not sure if that's really true).

Question: Do you feel that adding a pinch of salt to a sweet dish makes it sweeter or is it just an old wives tale?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Peas Raitha

Peas Raitha/Salad
My son loved this as it had all his favourite ingredients: peas,yogurt,honey!! I had some more plain Greek Yogurt from Oikos and thought I'd make this salad.Again,just like the cumin+yogurt dip,you can make it either sweet(add honey) or have it like the regular raitha with salt.
  • Yogurt: 1 cup
  • Peas: 1 cup steamed
  • Zeera/Cumin seeds: 2 teaspoon (roast and pound when cool)
  • Honey:2 teaspoon OR salt: to taste
  • Mint leaves/Cilantro: 1teaspoon(chopped fine)
  1. First,let the peas cool down to room temperature.
  2. Then mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Let it chill in the fridge for atleast half-an-hour.
  4. Garnish with chopped cilantro/mint leaves and serve.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

America's Fittest 5 Cities-2009

Well,well, well-what have we here?Guess which city has topped the list of the fittest city in the whole of the United States-it's none other than Washington D.C!!! Congratulations-looks like the capital is also leading by example in the fitness dept too. The other cities that made it into the top 5 position are:
  1. Washington D.C
  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  3. Denver
  4. Boston
  5. San Francisco
The bottom three cities were Oklahoma City, Detroit and Birmingham,Ala.
The survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine took into consideration factors like availability of parklands, public transportation, death rate from cardiovascular diseases, smoking, amount of servings of fruits and vegetables per day and number of primary care physicians per capita among other things.
Looks like the first family have a lot to boast about along with their White House vegetable garden.
Read more:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tangy Masala Bread

Masala Bread with Yogurt Dip
"Masala bread" or "Bread Uppma" is a great dish to have for breakfast or as a brunch on a lazy Sunday morning or even as a snack with a nice cup of "chai" in the evening.
Ingredients:(Serves 2)
  • Whole wheat bread: 4-5 slices (cut into small squares)
  • Onion: 1/2 medium (chopped fine)
  • Tomatoes: 1/2 medium (chopped fine)
  • Ginger+garlic paste:1/2 teaspoon(optional)
  • Garam masala:1/4 teaspoon
  • Turmeric:1/4 teaspoon
  • Coriander/Cilantro leaves: 1 tablespoon(finely chopped)
  • Oil: 1teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste
  • For tempering (Optional)
  • Mustard seeds:1/4teaspoon
  • Zeera/Cumin seeds: 1/4 teaspoon
  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the ingredients for tempering(optional-or skip this step and add the onions to the oil).
  2. When the mustard starts to sputter,add the onion,ginger+garlic paste,turmeric,garam masala and salt.
  3. Saute till the onions turn a golden brown.Add the chopped tomatoes, and saute till they are thoroughly cooked.
  4. Add the chopped bread and mix gently till the masala coats the bread.
  5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve either as such or with a yogurt dip.
  • The tempering is optional-so don't fret if you don't have the ingredients(we always have these in the masala box and I tend to use it since I like the extra Indian flavour it tends to impart)
  • I added a cup of mushrooms too to this dish(I love mushrooms so I try and add it where ever possible).
Question: What is your favorite Sunday morning breakfast/brunch?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cumin-Yogurt Dip

Cumin- Yogurt Dip
I had heard so much about Greek Yogurt that I was thrilled when I got a couple of coupons in the mail by Stonyfield Farm for their Organic Greek yogurt called Oikos.
Sadly I could not find all the flavors mentioned,but managed to get the plain and the honey flavoured ones.
I love the taste of freshly roasted and powdered cumin seeds in yogurt(both the savoury and the sweet version),so thought I'd make this simple Cumin-yogurt dip with the plain Greek yogurt.
  • Yogurt: 1/2 cup
  • Zeera/cumin seeds: 1-2 teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder: a pinch
  • Salt/Sugar: to taste
  1. Slowly roast the cumin seeds in a pan until toasted. Cool and pound the seeds with a pestle.
  2. Mix it with the yogurt and either salt (for a savory dip) or sugar (for a sweet dip) or add a little of both for a new flavour.
  3. Garnish the cumin yogurt dip by sprinkling some chilli powder and some cumin powder on top.
Question: What is your favorite dip?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Boys have sweeter tooth than GIRLS!!

If you think you can enjoy that box of chocolates that your boyfriend gifted,all by yourself-think again!He probably is expecting his share of the goodies which is probably why he bought them in the first place(ever heard of killing two birds with one stone?)!!How naive we are......,well not anymore.
A new research conducted on school children all over Denmark by the Danish Science Communication and the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen now suggests that boys need 20% more sweetness in the food to recognize it as tasty!!
The findings also shows that girls have are better at recognizing tastes than boys. Boys also preferred wilder and more extreme flavours,whereas the girls preferred more muted flavours.
So,the next time your BF/hubby get's you a box of chocolates you can give him "that" I know-it-all smile!!
Read more:
  1. The Daily Telegraph:Boys Have Sweeter Tooth Than Girls.
  2. AusFoodNews: New research establishes different tastes of girls and boys.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beetroot mocktail

Beetroot Mocktail
It's funny how our brains are trained to believe things only when they are supported by facts. There are so many things that I pooh-poohed as a kid and sheepishly acknowledge now because "scientists" have conducted experiments and have proved it to be true.
Growing up in India in a joint family ,we kids always heard about the health benefits of every vegetable or fruit which we had to eat (no questions asked and no explanations given). All that knowledge probably had it's roots in Ayurveda but is still being referred to as "bush medicine". Even Ayurveda,which is an ancient science is only now gaining popularity in the western world though it has been around since BC!!
Wondering where all this talk is leading to? Well the other day I read an article on WebMD stating "Beetroot Juice Lowers Blood Pressure" and it brought back memories of my mom telling me that "eating/drinking beetroot would give me rosy cheeks as it would improve my blood". Beetroot juice is also recommended by Naturopaths for those who are anemic,but then again naturopathy isn't mainstream medicine-it's 'alternative' medicine!!
Over the years,there have been so many such instances when "modern" science has taken up a study on some similar "bush" theory's and proven my mom and grandma right, that every time I read about it,I can just picture my mom doing a little "I TOLD YOU SO" jig in my mind.
Now that I am older(and hopefully wiser) and also armed with scientific data (for some), I have decided to pass on this wisdom that I have inherited to my son as he goes through life(so that later he can picture ME doing the jig)!
Ladies and gentlemen of the "modern" world, please join me as I raise a toast to the wisdom of all our ancestors with this mocktail made with the innumerable benefits of beets,carrots and lemon juice.
  • Beetroot:1 small
  • Carrot: 1/2
  • Lime juice : 2-3 tablespoon
  • Sugar:2 teaspoon(optional)
  1. Blend all the ingredients together in a juicer.
  2. Serve chilled.
Check out this awesome slideshow on juices on WebMD called:
Juice Wars: The Best and Worse for your Health

Question: Is there any such "bush" theory that you heard as a kid that science has proved right?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sweet Pickled Carrots

Pickled Carrots
As a kid I was always excited to see my gran make all sorts of pickles during summer.These ranged from raw mango,lime and mixed vegetable pickles in different flavours-sweet,spicy,sweet-n-sour. Then,she would put them in big pickle jars and leave it to marinate-some in the sun,some in the shade. We would bug her everyday to find out when we could get to taste them. Back then,I was more interested in the sweet and sweet-n-sour pickles as I couldn't eat spicy stuff.
I've never tried my hand at pickling-I always thought it was such a cumbersome and long process. The other day,we ate pickled carrots at a Mexican restaurant,which we liked and that's when I decided to try my hand at it.
I came across two recipes that I liked and decided to mix both recipes to make a sweet-n-sour carrot pickle.Here's what I used-
  • Baby Carrots: 250 g(approx),slit lengthwise
  • Vinegar: 1 cup (distilled white vinegar)
  • Peppercorns:4-5
  • Garlic: 2 peeled and sliced
  • Salt:1 teaspoon(or according to taste)
  • Sugar:2 teaspoon
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon
  1. Heat the oil in a pan,add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and saute for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the vinegar,salt,sugar,peppercorns and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  4. Add water and simmer again for 10 minutes.
  5. Allow it to cool completely.Transfer into a sterilized bottle/jar with a tight lid.
  6. Let it marinate overnight in the fridge for the flavours to develop.
Check out the original recipe for the spicy pickle here and the sweet pickle here.

Question: Do you make your own pickles?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuna Burji(Scrambled Tuna)

Tuna burji/Scrambled Tuna(Indian style)
I have no story for this-we just love tuna/eggs/tofu this way. So,here's the recipe:
  • Tuna chunks: 1 can(5 oz) packed in water
  • Red onion: 1/2 medium sized(chopped fine)
  • Tomatoes: 1 medium(chopped fine)
  • Green chillies: 1/2 or 1 slit lengthwise
  • Garam masala: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric :1/4 teaspoon
  • Red chilly powder: 1 teaspoon (or according to taste)
  • Coriander/Cilantro leaves: 2 tablespoons(finely chopped)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon
  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Add the chopped onions,salt and fry till it's golden brown.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes,green chili,garam masala and turmeric and saute till the tomatoes are cooked thoroughly.
  3. Add the tuna with the packed water and cook on medium heat stirring at regular intervals till all the water evaporates.
  4. Garnish with cilantro.Serve with hot roti's/naan/as a spicy filling for sandwiches/panini or even as a topping for Melba toast.
Giveaway:An Apple A day is having a favorite giveaway!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bad breath with low-carb diets!!

Are you on a low-carb diet and keep wondering why people around you (your family/friends/colleagues) try to keep a healthy distance from you? Well,the reason could be that you have BAD BREATH !!
A low-carb diet works on the concept of ketosis wherein the body uses fat as a source of energy. The by-products of ketosis are ketones and fatty acids,and the excess ketones are excreted in the urine and breath thus causing the bad breath!!
Of course there are different methods to mask it like drinking lots of water,chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless mints and swishing your mouth with water after eating food.Since the cause of the bad breath is metabolic-the only cure would be to get back to eating a balanced diet(with carbs) and getting on a regular exercise routine for your weight loss goals.
It's your choice:
a)Low-carb diets+bad breath=no friends + weight loss + associated dangers(of low-carb diet)
b)Balanced diet +exercise= friends +weight loss + good health
Read more:
  1. WebMD: Low carb diets can cause bad breath
  2. Mayo Clinic: Low-carb diets
Question: What would YOU choose?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mango Peda

Mango Peda
Well, we bought some yummy mangoes and I just couldn't resist making a sweet(yes,even a dietitian has her moments of weakness,but the important thing to keep in mind is "MODERATION"!!). A peda is traditionally made by reducing milk in an open pan and then adding the required amount of sugar and flavoring. A lot of people use "khoa" which saves a lot of time. Since I couldn't find khoa here,I decided to try it with ricotta cheese instead,and it actually turned out quite well!!
Ingredients: (Makes about 4-6 nos.)
  • Ricotta cheese(fat free): 2 cups
  • Mango puree: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 6 teaspoons (or according to taste)
  • Cardamom powder: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pistachio slivers/ Canned cherries/strawberries: for decoration
  1. Heat a non-stick pan and pour the mango puree along with the sugar and cardamom powder and saute till it the puree appears to be cooked.
  2. Add the ricotta cheese and stir continuously on medium flame till it becomes a thick mouldable mass.
  3. Allow to cool,then shape into desired shapes and garnish.
Question: What is your favourite (ripe) mango recipe?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FDA warns a leading breakfast cereal brand.

Are you among the many who were diagnosed with high cholesterol sometime back and the only change you made was to switch to eating the whole grain oat cereal that the manufacturer's claimed will reduce your bad cholesterol? If you think that just changing your breakfast cereal to the "healthier" one is going to do the trick-you are wrong!!
The FDA has issued a warning letter to Cheerios, a leading breakfast cereal brand for misleading consumers .The letter points out that the claims on Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal makes it sound more like a drug to prevent and treat heart problems and high cholesterol.
Though Cheerios says that their claims is based on the proven fact that soluble fibre from whole grains has been associated with reduced risk of heart problems,the FDA points out that the claims that Cheerios is making that "eating it alone can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4%" is inappropriate. The approved health claim about heart disease is supposed to mention fiber, fruits, vegetables, and a low-fat diet -- not just whole-grain foods.
The bottom line-no one particular food can magically reduce your cholesterol levels.It is a combination of eating plenty of whole foods,along with fruits,vegetables and reducing the total fat in the diet along with a good exercise regimen that will help to keep you healthy.
Read more:
  1. WebMD: FDA warns Cheerios on Health Claims.
  2. FDA: The warning letter issued to Cheerios
Question: Do you think somebody/some agency should keep a check on the claims made in advertisements or should it be left on the consumers to decide whether the claims are genuine or not?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dal Makhani-the low cal version!

Dal Makhani-low cal version

Nothing beats eating dal makhani (with the oodles of butter and cream) with hot rice or chapathis or even naan. We always ate it in restaurants as I had no clue how to make it.I had to try out an alternative way which didn't have so much butter or cream so that we could enjoy it regularly instead of eating it once in a way. The "better-half" warned that if it doesn't taste like the restaurant stuff,he wasn't going to touch it(so much for a supportive husband!).Anyway,I substituted the cream and butter with low-fat milk . I must warn you here-it takes me a good 2 hours to make this dish,but it's worth the effort every time.Suffice to say that it was eaten by the fussy hubby and it's been added to his list of dishes that turns out well even without the extra fat!
Here's the recipe:
  • Whole urad (black matpe beans): 1 cup(soaked overnight)
  • Split bengal gram dal: 1 tablespoon OR 1/2 cup red beans(soaked overnight)
  • Tomatoes: 3 nos.(pureed)
  • Onion: 1/2 medium (preferably red onions),finely chopped
  • Garlic: 2 flakes (finely chopped)
  • Green chilies or 2 nos(slit lengthwise)
  • Low fat milk: 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Red chilly powder: 1 or 2 teaspoon(according to taste)
  • Coriander/cilantro leaves-2 tablespoon
  • Curd: 1 tablespoon (whipped)
  • Sugar: 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • Salt: to taste
  1. Discard the water used for soaking the beans/dal overnight.
  2. Put 6 cups of water into a pressure cooker and add Urad,split gram(or red beans),chopped onion,garlic.Cook till one whistle then let it cook on a low flame for about half an hour.( If you don't have a pressure cooker,cook in a closed saucepan for at least 40-45 minutes).
  3. After half an hour,switch off and let the pressure drop.Then,open and add the tomato puree and the slit green chilies.Cook, stirring occasionally for 20 mins on reduced flame.
  4. Add the milk and cook for 8-10 mins.
  5. Add the red chilly powder,sugar(optional) and salt. Let it cook on low flame for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander leaves and whipped curd.
Question:Which is your fave high-cal dish that you would love to have in a low-cal version?