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?