Saturday, 31 December 2011

Iron Rich Yogurt Drink

Iron Rich Yogurt Drink

Couple of years back, around the same time I was wondering how I could share my thoughts on food, healthy eating, some indulgence, my recipes, traditional recipes so they do not get lost etc. Then with help from my husband, I started this blog and it has been absolutely wonderful having a platform to write and also have readers read and feedback. I was always keen on eating sensibly and am a firm believer that good food can be quite healing in both preventing and curing ways. The more I realised that I could influence my state of health, and ofcourse that of the family, via food that we intake, the more interested I became in what exactly goes into the food. This is one of the reasons I wanted to learn more about ayurvedic science behind food and understand how I could make advantage of the medicinal properties of several wonderful ingredients yet create yummy dishes that taste nothing like a horrible cough syrup. As a first step I bought couple of books and this recipe is from one of them, The Ayurvedic Cooking by Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai. This does not involve any cooking and is pretty simple and is an excellent breakfast drink that could keep you going for a good while. Several people suffer from iron deficiency and resort to supplements in the form of tablets. One of the painful side effects of iron supplement is constipation. On the contrary, this drink is rich in iron but also mildly laxative due to its fibre content. It does not have to be sweetened as the natural sugars in its ingredients are adequate but that is a personal choice. By no means will this taste like medicine because it is indeed quite a tasty drink. I do not believe in New year resolutions as there is no bad time to do good things so why wait till new year. However, I thought several people believe in it and for those who would like to give 2012 a healthy start, here is my little help. Wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!

¼ cup raisins
4 dried figs/peaches/apricots
1 cup water
½ cup yogurt

Soak the raisins and figs/apricot/peaches in water overnight

Blend all ingredients together to make a smooth drink

Serves 1-2

Friday, 30 December 2011

Paneer Kali Mirch Masala

Paneer Kali Mirch Masala

Just as I was looking for a paneer recipe, I came across this one on a television program. With the ingredients being quite simple and readily available, I prepared this for dinner the same night. I must say that the dish turned out to be superb. It has a few levels of flavour that slowly unravels as you bite, chew and swallow. The dish was even better than most paneer dishes served in many restaurants. The combination of paneer and black pepper was surprisingly wonderful.

1 cup cubed paneer
1 large onion, chopped
2 green chillies
2 tablespoon cashew nuts, soaked
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
¾ cup curd/yogurt
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
¼ teaspoon chilly powder
½ teaspoon kasoori methi
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Heat little oil in a kadai and fry the onions

Add green chillies and ginger garlic paste and cook until raw smell goes

Cool and grind to smooth paste along with the soaked cashew nuts

Heat some oil and add the cumin seeds and bay leaf

Once cumin browns add the ground paste and cook until most of the moisture is gone and it all comes together

Add turmeric, coriander, cumin, chilly and black pepper powders, mix well and fry for couple of minutes. Add little water if needed (I cleaned up my mixie jar and added some water from it)

Add yogurt and kasoori methi and allow to simmer

Add paneer, salt and simmer for about 5 minutes stirring frequently

Add chopped coriander leaves and milk and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring frequently


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Milagu Sadam (Black pepper rice)

Milagu Sadam (Black pepper rice)

This winter, although a rather mild one compared to the last few, has been quite a challenge for me. I have been down with sinusitis almost everyday and even stepping out very briefly puts me down for the next couple of days. Whether it is due to this constant cold or whatever, I have been resorting to black pepper in a number of dishes. I must say that earlier I was not too fond of black pepper as it did not have the same kick as chilly, atleast not for me. It has however come very handy this winter and I seem to enjoy the dishes made with it. This particular recipe, I came across on a television program and immediately made note of it. Again, it is not one of the programs that I would usually try recipes from but this I thought was ideal considering my head was throbbing in pain. The result was very good and seemed to serve the purpose. I think it is the dry ginger, sukku, that helped clear my headache sooner and the heat from the pepper help decongest. I did not fry the tamarind too long as it could destroy the vitamin C in it. One of the most important benefits of black pepper is its impact on the digestive system. It helps the body secrete hydrochloric acid so food is digested promptly, else food could sit in the stomach for long and cause heart burn or move to intestine and cause flatulence. It can also trigger appetite and also promote urination. It is also said to have anti-oxidants. Both pepper and dry ginger help promote sweating thus making them helpful while suffering from cold. After so much discussion about the benefits of the ingredients, I must say that it tasted wonderful too. I had it along with nellikai pachadi (gooseberry raita). Here is the recipe...

2 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
An inch long piece of dry ginger (sukku)
Couple of flakes of tamarind
1 teaspoon channa dal
1 teaspoon urd dal
Salt to taste
Gingelly oil (preferred as it cools the body)
Curry leaves
Few cashew nuts

Heat a pan and add black pepper and red chilly. Roast for a minute and add the dry ginger then again a minute later add the cumin seeds and tamarind and roast until seeds pop. Cool and grind to powder

Heat couple of spoons of gingelly oil and add the channa dal, asafoetida and urd dal. A minute later add the cashew nuts and fry until they all turn golden. Add curry leaves

Add the ground powder and fry briefly

Add rice and required salt and mix well. I added about half the quantity of powder and mixed just enough rice to serve one.

Serve with a raita/pachadi or with yogurt

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tikkar Paratha

Tikkar Paratha

I love parathas and enjoy experimenting and trying various varieties of parathas. However my better half does not enjoy them so I make them only when I have to make something for myself. I saw this recipe on a television program and made a note of it in my to try list and finally found the opportunity to make it. One of the interesting things about this recipe is it uses cornmeal (this is not the same as corn flour) which has been sitting in my pantry for a while. This could make a single dish meal with just yogurt and pickle. The addition of cornmeal would normally mean you cannot roll the parathas with neat edge and they will look a bit cracked, that is quite normal. Just like the presenter of the show, Anitha, explained, dab of ghee does make a difference to this dish. I normally do not smear oil or ghee on the parathas but this was an exception. Ghee in moderate quantities is good for the body so I used my allowance for that day. I noticed that maida/all purpose flour was more suitable for dusting than wheat flour itself. It was a lovely paratha that is certainly worth trying.

1 cup wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tablespoon coriander leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon chilly powder
1 grated onion
Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together and add required water to make soft dough like that of chapatti and rest it for 10 minutes

Divide into about 5 equal sized balls and roll each one into thick chapattis. I found all purpose flour to be ideal for dusting

Cook both sides (once you see bubbles, flip, cook, again once you see bubbles flip, press) on a heated tava and smear ghee on both sides

Serve with yogurt and pickle

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Methi Mutter Malai

Methi Mutter Malai

Holiday season usually means a bit of indulgence when it comes to food. Visiting friends and also having some over are usually some opportunities to spoil ourselves. It does not have to be too bad though because I think one can make real yummy dishes without having to add an awful lot of fat. This dish can be made very rich and high in calories by using double creamand also some butter however I chose to let go of some fat but not the flavours. The fenugreek leaves lend great flavour to this dish and makes me wish I could have unlimited access to this wonderful ingredient. Instead of using cream, I used milk and simmered for a while so it thickens somewhat. For garnish I just used a spoon of yogurt. It was very yummy with chapatti and will taste good with rice. Will serve about 3-4 people.

3 cups chopped methi (about 1.5 bunches of fenugreek leaves)
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoon cashewnuts
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
2 green chillies
1 cup peas
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon chilly powder
Turmeric powder
½ cup milk
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Heat oil and add the onions and couple of minutes later, add chillies, garlic and ginger

Once onion is half done, add the tomatoes and cashews and cook until mushy. Keep aside and allow to cool and then grind to paste

Heat a kadai and add oil, add the methi leaves and allow to wilt

Add the peas and little water and cook until peas is done

Add the ground paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, chilly powder and some water and allow to boil so raw smell goes away. Stir every now and then as cashew is a thickner and settles to bottom

Add the milk and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Eggless Christmas Cake

Eggless Christmas Cake

We do not normally celebrate Christmas but this year I decided to indulge in baking which is typical of this holiday season. I have been lucky to use up my holidays and get some extra time on hand so decided to experiment few recipes. My husband loves the fruit cake that they sell in the stores at this time of the year. It is loaded with nuts, dry fruits and some spices. I wanted to try something similar and also to make it more christmasy wanted to add some booze. However, I always like to sick to my principles, so went for non-alcoholic red wine. I looked up few recipes but somehow none of them clicked so came up with my version using some online recipes as inspiration. I had to cut down on the nuts to keep it toddler safe and also cut down on butter to make it a touch less unhealthy. We were visiting some of my brother’s friends and as they do not eat eggs, I preferred to make eggless version. I quite liked the outcome as the consistency was quite similar to what they ought to be and also they looked and tasted similar to the traditional counterpart. So, with my best wishes for this holiday season, Christmas and New Year, here is the recipe...

3 cups self rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisin
1 cup currants
1 tablespoon mixed peel
½ chopped dates
2 teaspoons all spice powder
Little salt
120gm butter
¾ cup cooking oil (preferably sunflower oil)
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup brandy/alcohol free wine
1 1/3 cup water plus another ¼ cup water
Chopped nuts like pecans/almond

Bring 1 1/3 cup water to boil and turn the flame off. Add the sugar, currants, peels, raisins, dates and bring back to boil and cook open for 5 minutes. Allow to cool a little

Add butter to this and combine and allow to cool wee bit

In a mixing bowl, bring together the flour, the spice powder, baking powder, salt and mix

Add the water and dry fruits mixture, vanilla extract, oil, wine/brandy and little water to make a batter and also add the nuts

Add chopped figs preserved in syrup

Once fully combined, add the vinegar and mix. Put the batter into a greased 24cm baking tin and bake in a preheated oven at 190degc for 30 minutes and at 180degC for further 30 minutes. One could put a foil wrap on top at about 40 minutes into the baking process to prevent scorching but I chose not to, instead I cut the top layer of the cake to make an even surface.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Orange Cake with Caramel Topping (Eggless)

Orange Cake with Caramel Topping (eggless)

This year somehow the holiday season has caught on to me as well. Like many, I feel like I need to bake many goodies but the rational side of me says they still have to be as healthy or as less unhealthy as possible. I had some oranges that I had to use up so thought of making an orange cake. I had made orange based muffin (which I am yet to blog about) sometime back and did fancy something orangey. I found a butterless version of orange cake here, adapted the same and wanted to jazz it up with a caramelised topping. The only thing that went wrong was with how well I clamped my springform cake tin. Apparently I had not done it well so some of my caramel dripped making the centre look like there was no caramel. The cake was great in texture and taste and all at home just loved it. It is not common for a non-chocolate cake to go down well in my family but this was a clear winner. I realised I did not have enough orange to get one cup of juice so I added some orange extract. You could avoid it if you have a cup of orange juice. Add the vinegar only at the end just before pouring into the mould.  Unlike what I did, try to avoid cutting the cake until completely cool. Had I waited long enough, the slice would have been a lot more neat. Anyway, it tasted really yummy so that is all that matters.

Caramel topping:
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon butter

Add sugar and water in a saucepan and heat while stirring until the sugar dissolves

Stop stirring and allow the sugar to caramelise, you know it is done when it turns amber coloured

Turn flame off, add the butter and combine by swirling the pan and not stirring

Slice oranges and arrange at the bottom of the cake tin lined with baking paper

Pour the caramel over and swirl the tin to evenly spread it

Orange cake:
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup wholewheat flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon soda bicarbonate
1 cup sugar
½ cup orange juice (or 1 cup orange juice and no water)
½ cup water
½ teaspoon orange extract (skip if using 1 cup orange juice)
2 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 cup sunflower oil

Sift flour, baking powder and soda bicarb together

Add ground almonds and sugar and mix well

Add all wet ingredients except the vinegar. Mix until combined. Add the vinegar and mix

Pour the batter over the orange and caramel and bake at 180degc for 30 minutes (until a tooth pick inserted come out clean)

Never keep opening the oven while the cake is baking as this will stop the cake from rising

Cool the cake in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before cutting