Monday, February 23, 2009

Besan Dosa (Chickpea flour crepes)

When I was growing up in Bombay,Besan dosa was a very popular dish in most Udupi restaurants and was even sometimes called "Vegetarian Omelet". Besan dosa was also sold as a filling inside sandwiches which were named "Veggie omelet sandwich"! Funnily enough,I hated them at that time and preferred my regular 'egg omelet' to the veggie omelet. I made Besan Dosa for the first time sometime after Diwali as I had a pack of leftover 'besan' that my mom who was visiting,had used to make sinful 'besan laadus'. I used it for making kadhi a couple of times and was wondering what else I could do with it (pakodas are a strict no-no).That was when my mom mentioned that I could make Besan dosas but also reminded me that I never much cared for them when I was a kid. Finally,one day I tried it out and to my amazement, loved it(thankfully it was appreciated by hubby and little brat) and so now it's a regular feature at home. Make sure you use a good non-stick pan when you make this-that way,you won't need to use a lot of oil.Besan Dosa
Besan Dosa (Chickpea pancake):Serves 4
  • Besan/Gramflour/Chickpea flour: 2 cups
  • Rice flour:1/4th cup
  • Rava/Semolina/Cream of wheat: 1/4th cup
  • Whole wheat flour: 1/4th cup
  • Curd (plain Yogurt)-3 tbsp
  • Onion:1/2 small(finely chopped)
  • Tomatoes:1 small(finely chopped)
  • Green chillies:1-2(finely chopped)
  • Corriander leaves/Cilantro: 2 tablespoon,finely chopped
  • Hing/asafoetida: a pinch
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4th teaspoon
  • Jeera/Cummin seeds:1/2 tsp
  • Salt:to taste
  • Oil:1 tsp, to grease the pan
  1. Mix all the ingredients.
  2. Add enough water to make a batter of dosa/pancake consistency.
  3. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on medium flame.
  4. Pour a ladle of the batter and spread like a dosa. Cover for a 3-4 minutes.
  5. Then,flip the dosa over to the other side and cook for another 1-2 minutes.Make sure not to burn them.
  6. Serve the besan dosa hot with mint,ketchup or a spicy chutney.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A quiz-check it out!

I found this interesting (short) quiz on It's called 'How you eat Vs. what you eat'. It's just five questions-try it!!
Once you're done with the quiz,you could also check out other articles on 'Health'.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mediterranean Diet-where does the Indian diet fall short?

A recent article in WebMD states that women(I'm sure the same would apply to men too) on a Mediterranean Diet have significantly less chances of developing heart disease and stroke!
Let's analyze the ingredients for the Mediterranean Diet mentioned on WebMD and see where the typical Indian Diet goes wrong.
Mediterranean Diet: Fresh,healthy food
Indian Diet: Though we do eat lots of different varieties of vegetables,most Indians tend to overcook the vegetables which inturn reduces the nutritional values. You could try to add vegetables in dishes that normally doesn't include a vegetable(like grated carrots in phulkas, mixed vegetables in kichidi,uppmas,etc) and also include salads with every meal.

Mediterranean Diet: Portion control
Indian Diet: No portion control at all. We tend to eat till we 'feel full'. We need to keep in mind that too much of even the good things are not recommended. To get an idea of portion control,check out these slides.

Mediterranean Diet: Healthy fats and olive oil
Indian Diet: We still use saturated fats like ghee/butter/coconut oil and trans-fat(hydrogenated vegetable oils like vanaspati)in our cooking. The general belief in most houses is that unless you drown the food in oil,it doesn't taste good!!
Olive oil is expensive,but you can switch to using small amounts of oils like peanut oil,canola oil,safflower oil,soybean oil for your cooking(you could try getting a different oil each month to get the benefits of each one). The trick is to use just about a teaspoon of oil for cooking the entire dish(use non-stick pans/kadai).

Mediterranean Diet: Omega-3 fatty acids
Indian Diet: Most Indians don't eat fish,and those who do normally prefer it fried. The best way would be to eat fish in a curry or bake/broil it. Vegeterians can get their dose of omega-3's from walnuts,flax seed(and oil), pumpkin seeds, soyabeans(and soy oil) and from canola and olive oils.

Mediterranean Diet: More vegetables,less meat.
Indian Diet: Earlier this was the scene among non-vegetarian Indians,but in the recent past the trend seems to have reversed. The best thing would be to eat lean meat not more than once (or at the most,twice) a week and stick to eating more vegetables and legumes the rest of the week.

Mediterranean Diet: Wine in small amounts( 3 ounces/80 ml)
Indian Diet: Though wine does have it's benefits,it should not serve as an excuse for consuming it. You'd still get the benefits by drinking plain grape juice!

Mediterranean Diet: Whole grains.
Indian Diet: Refined foods with no nutritive values like refined flour(maida),sugar, polished rice have replaced healthy foods like whole wheat flour, jaggery, unpolished rice. Avoid (or reduce the frequency) of using these and stick to whole grains and legumes(but keep in mind the portion sizes).

Mediterranean Diet: Fruit for dessert.
Indian Diets: Desserts for us would mean 'gulab jamuns', or 'jalebis' or atleast 'kheer'. These are not just high in sugar,but most are high in oil/ghee. Eating plain fruits for dessert or even as a snack will definetly require lots of will power.

If we could just make these changes in our daily diet and exercise regularly,there would be no need for us to adopt a foreign cuisine in the name of health(and then maybe a few years/centuries down the line,researchers would advocate the Indian Diet)!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nutrition and Diet from a Cricketers' Viewpoint

My first celebrity "Guest Writer" is cricketer Sridharan Sriram.
Check out Sriram's views on Nutrition and Diet:
Guests On Bonne Nutrition
Thanks a 'ton' Sri for taking time out to pen your thoughts on nutrition.

South Asians More Prone to Diabetes

Why doesn't it surprise me??
A report in the Times Of India talks about a research conducted in the UK which shows that South Asians (including Indians) living there are more likely to develop Diabetes then the rest of the population!
With India fast becoming(or already) the "Diabetes Capital of the World",it's no surprise that geographic locations is not going to make a difference to their health status.The same reason why the new BMI guidelines (I have already mentioned about) apply to every Indian/South Asian regardless of where they live or what passport they hold.
With changing food habits, a more sedentary lifestyle and also the fact that South-Asians are genetically predisposed to such ailments means that we are more likely to develop not just Diabetes,but a lot of other lifestyle related diseases like cancer,heart disease,etc.
What is the solution?
Get back to eating traditional foods which are far more healthier than the junk that has replaced it, reduce usage of oil and sugar, eat more whole grains and legumes,vegetables and fruits and exercise daily.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New BMI guidelines for Indians/South Asians.

Hurray,finally the long wait is over!
I just got to know that the BMI guidelines have been revised back home in India.This happened late last year(how I missed this important news though I spend a good part of my day scanning the Times Of India's online paper, is still a mystery to me).
The Body Mass Index(BMI) is a measure of weight divided by height.
BMI= weight (kg) / [height (m)]2
For years there was a debate with regards to whether the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved BMI parameters which stated a BMI of 30 and above as obese, were correct for Asian populations.
Indians as a race, have been known to have a higher body fat than their western counterparts and until now, using the global standards meant a large part of the population went scott-free even though they were at a greater risk for lifestyle related diseases.
Now,the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the advice of the WHO has issued new parameters for Indians:
If the BMI is-
  • <18.5:underweight
  • 18.5-22.9:Normal weight
  • 23-24.9 :Overweight
  • >25 :Obese
So,if you are an Indian(or for that matter of South-Asian origin) and stay overseas,it is important that you bring this change to the notice of your doctor.Chances are that they might not be aware of the change and still use the western BMI parameters on you(literally-"phir bhi dil hain Hindustani")!
For more on this topic:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Kadhi(Yogurt curry)

Kadhi is one of our favourite dishes, and something which reminds my hubby of his mother's cooking(which is a HUGE compliment)! It's a quick dish and I usually make it on days when I have to cook in a rush. It's a combination of curd(yogurt) and chikpea/gram flour,which means nutritionally it's loaded with calcium(yogurt) and protein(gramflour) . The actual Indian recipe has 'Pakoda' (a deep fried item made with a combination of gramflour,onions,chillies),but adding that would disqualify this otherwise healthy dish from being put up on my blog. You could however,add the Nucchina Unde/Steamed lentil ball,the recipe was sent to me by my friend Suma. These could be added to the gravy,just before serving.
Kadhi(Yogurt curry):Serves 4
  • Curd/Yogurt: 2 cups
  • Besan/gram/chickpea flour: 2 tablespoons(make a smooth paste with cold water)
  • Ginger+garlic paste: 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Jeera/Cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Methi/fenugreek seeds: 1/4th teaspoon
  • Hing/asafoetida: a pinch
  • Turmeric: 1/4th teaspoon
  • Coriander/Cilantro leaves: 2 tablespoons(finely chopped)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1teaspoon
  • Water:2-3 cups
  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai/wok.
  2. Add the mustard,cumin and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard starts to pop,add the turmeric,hing and the ginger+garlic paste.
  3. Fry for a minute and then add the curd and stir for another minute.
  4. Add the besan/chickpea paste and 2-3 cups of water,salt and stir.
  5. Cook till it starts to boil.
  6. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  7. Serve hot with rice.
Note:If you are serving this with the steamed lentil balls,then place the steamed ball/unde in the gravy when serving.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nucchina Unde(Steamed Lentil Ball)

This recipe is being shared by Suma Bhat from Corvallis,Oregon,who got it from her mom-in law.
It can be served as a snack or even a breakfast item. It's a combination of two lentils and the steaming certainly qualifies this as a "healthy" snack.You could opt to add a mix of different vegetables to make it more filling and of course more nutritious. Thanks Suma for sharing this recipe.
Nucchina Unde(Steamed lentil ball):
Serves 3
• Toor dal/split yellow lentils: 1 cup
• Channa dal/split Bengal gram: 1/4 cup
• Corriander/Cilantro leaves: ¼ bunch(finely chopped)
• Curry leaves: 10nos. (finely chopped)
• Green chillies: 5 to 6,chopped.
• Grated fresh Coconut: 1 tsp
• Grated Ginger: ½ inch
• Salt: to taste
• Hing /Asafoetida:a pinch
• Oil: 1 tsp (for greasing)

1. Soak both the dals in water for 4 hrs. Later drain the water and grind the drained dals without adding any water (make sure the mixture is coarse, not very smooth).
2. Mix all other ingredients to this mixture.
3. Now grease steel vessel or Idli plates lightly with oil, make oval shaped balls and steam cook in a pressure cooker for 15 – 20 minutes until they are done.
4. Serve hot with mint chutney.
To make it more nutritious,you can add cut and steamed mixed vegetables like french beans, peas, grated carrot,finely chopped onions and mix it with the coarse lentil mixture before steaming.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Palak Tofu Sabzi(Tofu in Spicy Spinach Gravy)

I experimented with this dish two weeks ago and found it to be just as yummy(if not better)than the now-famous original North Indian dish called 'Palak Paneer'. Paneer is the Indian cottage cheese,which for this recipe is cut into cubes and cooked in a gravy of pureed spinach(with of course all the spices that go into traditional Indian cooking). I used the silken tofu and soon realized my folly as it was too soft and would not hold it's shape-nevertheless,the end result was simply nutritious! Spinach is a very good source of iron*, folate,vitamins A and K,and fiber while tofu is a complete protein and hence this dish is ideal for vegetarians and vegans.
Palak Tofu(Tofu in Spicy Spinach Gravy):Serves 4
  • Palak/Spinach:1/2kg(500 gms)
  • Firm Tofu: 250gms,cut into 1/2' cubes
  • Onion: 2 medium(finely chopped)
  • Tomatoes: 2 large
  • Green chillies: 2-3
  • Ginger+garlic paste: 2 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala: 2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4th teaspoon
  • Coriander/Dhania powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin/Jeera powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Oil:1 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste
  1. Wash and clean the spinach leaves.
  2. Steam the leaves along with the green chillies.
  3. Once it has cooled down,blend it along with the tomatoes to a fine puree.
  4. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick pan.
  5. Add the chopped onions and salt. Stir for about 5 minutes,then add the ginger+garlic paste and cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the spinach+tomato puree,the garam masala,cumin,turmeric and coriander powder and mix well.
  7. Cook for about 5 minutes,then add the tofu cubes.
  8. Keep stirring,add a little water. Then cook covered on medium flame for another 15-20 minutes.
  9. When the gravy thickens,taste to check if the spinach has lost it's raw taste.If it has, then the dish is ready.
  10. Serve hot with phulkas/whole wheat tortillas(Do not add ghee/clarified butter)
NOTE: *Since the iron in the spinach is non-heme(i.e from a plant source),it needs Vitamin C for it's absorption.So,you could add a dash of lime to the dish when serving or end your meal with a fruit rich in Vitamin C(eg:Orange,kiwifruit,guava,etc).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Avocado or "Butter fruit" as it's commonly called in India,is a fruit that is native to South America. It is not very popular as a fruit, as it has "no taste" or is basically "bland",although the "Butter fruit milkshake" is quite popular at the juice bars in Bangalore.
However,not many people know the health benefits of Avocados. This fruit has a higher fat content than most other fruits,but since the fat it contains is mainly monounsaturated fat(MUFA),they are actually good for health.They are also packed with fiber,folate and heart-healthy anti-oxidants like vitamin C and E.
So,how does one eat a fruit that really has no taste-simple,use it as a spread on toast/sandwiches (instead of butter/mayonnaise) by mashing the fruit,adding a little lime,salt and pepper. Another popular dish(the one I had served at my son Aditya's birthday bash) is the "Avocado Dip" or "Guacamole" as it's popularly called. I learnt it from my hubby's aunt (Anita athya) when we had gone to their place at Rockville,MD during the Christmas vacation. Thanks athya for teaching me another "Healthy recipe".
Avocado Dip/Guacamole:
  • Avocados:2-3 ripe
  • Red onion: 1/2(finely diced)
  • Tomatoes:3 nos.(finely chopped)
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 3 tablespoons(finely chopped)
  • Lime juice:1 teaspoon
  • Green chillies:1-2(finely chopped)
  • Pepper:1/4 teaspoon,freshly ground
  • Salt: to taste
  1. Cut the avocados into half,remove the seed and scoop out the pulp.
  2. Mash the pulp using either a masher or a fork.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  4. Serve along with baked tortilla chips or roasted plain papads.
So,the next time you have a party,serve something healthy which also happens to be tasty!