Thursday, April 30, 2009

breads n more



i had promised my friend swapna to post my bread recipes as she is on a weight loss program too and i have been telling her to try n experiment with various kinds of fiber rich food......all of us have moved towards a refined n processed food habit n it is hard to stay away from it......she has stopped eating bread n i suggested to make it at home............as for me, i started experimenting with bread making when i got my microwave 7 years back.............though baking is not very convenient in a microwave , i was one stubborn girl to keep trying until i got fairly satisfying results...........femina has been my source of recipes for over 20 years n now, somehow i remember my happy cooking days n getting nostalgic at the moment.......now a days it is just functional cooking n these blogs are the only good thing which i am doing.

i make breads off n on depending on my mood n consciousness towards health.........whenever i get a fresh pack of yeast, it is breads n more breads until the pack lasts...........n then no breads for a few weeks , or months at all......more so cuz i have never been able to get a good pack of dried yeast in my beginning days n have now obsessed with fresh yeast...........i find this excuse handy for not baking breads at home...........more often....

i want to tell swapna that making bread is not at all difficult n if you bake enough for a week it is convenient n time saving.............though arvind keeps telling me not to do it at home cuz he doesn't want me to spend more time in the kitchen.......

secondly if you make bread with AP flour for the first time , it helps to boost your confidence as you find the perfect air pockets n light texture with this.......as you add the whole wheat flour to the mix , it becomes heavier n the air pockets are fewer, directly in proportion to the fiber content of the bread mix.........also, only glutinous flour makes good air pockets and any whole wheat or mixed cereal bread will not be as spongy n light as that of plain white all purpose flour........this is to be kept in mind before going for it...........the good thing is that, the taste of any mixed cereal bread is great as the fresh yeast lends a nice taste n aroma to it.........now swapna has to tell me if it is a good tutorial on the subject.........:D :D.

though i never measure my ingredients for this, i'll try n give you a good idea to start with......

1. warm 1/2 cup of water with 2 tbsp of sugar n tip a lemon sized piece of fresh yeast into it n leave for 10 minutes or until it froths, in winter months i keep it over a warm water bath or into the micrwave after heating water in it.........now add 2 tbsp of AP flour mix n wait for another 5 minutes.................it looks like a well fermented dosa batter now.......like this.......



2. now mix 2 cups of flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1tsp salt and 2 tbsp oil of your choice into the mixture and knead into a loose dough using some milk..........at this stage the mix gets messy n sticks to your fingers........keep kneading till a soft ball stage....kneading helps developing gluten into the dough n helps making good air pockets in the bread......if using AP or whole wheat flour........

i use whole wheat or mixed cerial flour all the time ........mixed cerial flour, which is complex carbs n a lot of fibre lacks in gluten n the bread results in a heavy texture as i told earlier....... also i do not use any oil when using soya solids as it makes the bread enough moist by itself.......instead of milk i use soya milk mostly.........

3. the dough looks like this after kneading........


this dough is to be kept in a warm place like over a warm water bath or inside the microwave like earlier.............and it looks like this when it doubles up in volume after 15 minutes.......



4. now knock down the dough and with floured hands , shape into loaves or buns , place them into greased n floured tin and bake in the grill option of the microwave..........after preheating .........it takes 10 minutes to bake a medium sized loaf into my microwave, it may vary with the wattage of a microwave ........to check if it is done you need to see browning on the top of the bread n it should sound hollow when tapped at the bottom of the tin........ the above pics are of a whole wheat dough with 25% soya solids which i used to make pita bread........ready to bake in the microwave........



to be stuffed like this for breakfast.........


5. when done, brush the loaf with butter to prevent drying , let it cool n slice after that.......see my mixed cerial bread sliced up........


these breads store well in the fridge n i use them differently ........simplest being with hot milk for a quick breakfast......



and with a hot hot soup for a dinner........



sometimes i make scrambled bread in a south indian style using stale bread......



the possibilities are endless n will keep posting the bread recipes in the future .........this much seems enough for swapna.........now you know how the healthy fibre rich breads can be included in a weight management diet........tell me .........i am waiting...........

begun bhaja with khichri n my plants

coming back here after a long break and as was away from home for a week in this scorching summer...............the temperature soared to 44 degree yesterday, highest in the last 50 years...........all my plants were in deep trouble......could not save some of them, the herbs are delicate n my rosemary died , now it is so hard to get another pot of rosemary here in delhi......i'll try after the summer at dilli haat nursery again...............the beetroot greens n the spring onion greens were all grazed up.......now they are reviving a bit after all the care n pampering.......my violets were in full bloom...............and welcomed me on arrival.......



and the mint, oregano n basil could save themselves thankfully........






though a bit pale due to the scorching sun............they will come back to their greeny self as soon as the monsoon comes..........

tomatoes and brinjals also, were strong enough to withstand a week of neglect n handed me some more fruits..............



organic brinjals which i use to make a mashed up bhurta or a salsa or sometimes fry to make begun bhaja......bengaali style....



and these cherry tomatoes .....they taste great in a raw salad....they are in a plenty so i make chutnys, soups and salsa with them......



the green tomatoes are also used up for making chutnys and curries............recipes are on the way..........

one of the first things i cooked after coming home was this khichri with bottle guard ( after a week of feasting it had be be light meals for few days) teamed with bengali style begun bhaja , aam ka achar , garlic papad and plain curds..........


for making begun bhaja just slit the brinjals lengthwise , keeping it intact with the stalk...........sprinkle salt n pepper inside the cut flesh, wait until the oil in the pan is hot n fry till wilted n soft.............i shallow fried them in mustard oil n drained it on kitchen tissue.........serve hot with the khichri or daal chawal...........



khichri is made just like the last post, using bottle guard which is cooked in a pressure cooker along with the other ingredients...........lots of garlic n red chilly powder in the tadka n all set for a great drool..........with this aam ka achar.......i'll post the recipe when i make it this season............



i'll strongly advice everybody to eat light meals during summers and drink cooling drinks to prevent dehydration.............hope the heat wave scares away the swine flu at least.........

Friday, April 10, 2009

khichri to heal my tummy

It has been three days since me n mithi both are down with a bad bout of diarrhea.....it was really bad n drained us of all the energy.........almost without food for 3 days now, only probiotic curds and herb teas, today i wanted to treat my taste buds......but it had to be light as well, and it had to be fit for mithi too as i dint have any energy left to make different preparations for all three of us...........i made a quick lotus stem stir fry n paratha for arvind and this khichri for me n mithi........i had it with the tempering while mithi without the tempering (made smooth after blending).............phew.........still it seemed like hard work but it was worth it.........i had no plan to post it today ......was feeling completely exhausted...........but as i was eating the khichri , i felt so good n rejuvenated that i wanted to share that here........where else?


it is the way this khichdi tickled my taste buds that it had to come here now............it just could not wait in the list of endless drafts of mine........

khichri is considered light n rejuvenating , it has the right mix of carbs n simple protein , with a few watery veggies and purifying n stimulating spices................i make it mostly with bottle gourd, but today i had none in my fridge.......rather i found some other favorites of mine n decided to go with them.........

i just boiled 1/2 cup of basmati rice n 1 cup of mung daal with little salt n turmeric powder in a pressure cooker till one whistle n let it cool....mung daal is considered good for a nourishing n rejuvenating khichri according to ayurveda and other daals can be used when preparing normally........( i have two more khichri recipes in the drafts which is waiting desperately now....:D)

then in a pan i heated a teaspoon of ghee, a pinch of asafoetida, 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, a small piece of cinnamon, 4-5 peppercorns.........and just when it all crackles, threw in the finely chopped garlic, ginger n green chillies............i used all these in generous amounts n may vary according to taste.......after a minute or so i added chopped spring onions, red n yellow bell peppers, zucchini and baby hierloom tomatoes (these were from my garden)........stirred with a little salt and cooked for a while .......added the cooked khichdi n it was ready just when it started boiling together............the aroma made me really hungry after exactly three days...............and i enjoyed the meal to the fullest.........

normally khichri goes well with pickle and papad.......but after a stomach upset these are best to be avoided, and moreover this kind of extended tempering compensates for everything........just a bowl of plain curds to finish it off.............i am feeling energetic once again...........

Monday, April 6, 2009

green daal paneer wali



this is an absolutely aromatic dal soup which goes well with brown rice...........it is prepared with fresh peas and is fat free................i prepare a few fat free recipes so that i can take the liberty of eating a bit of fatty food in other meals of the day and i find it quite practical..........going absolutely fat free is not a good idea but a few fat free preparations give you a choice of indulging in your favorite thing later in the day.....this one is such a recipe...............sometimes i make fat free daals or subzis to go with rice or parathas or puris..........the idea is when the main dish is heavy on fat or calories , the side dish can be fat free and it works well if it is flavorful n healthy.

for this i grind the fresh or frozen peas with a green chillies, ginger, and lots of coriander leaves and boil on medium heat with home made paneer cubes , salt n pepper and a few cloves and star anise............after boiling for about 10 minutes tomato paste is added .......another boil for 2 minutes and it is finished with chopped coriander leaves...............tastes really good with brown or white rice or as it is like a soup.........

Sunday, April 5, 2009

mixed vegetables scrambled eggs with English style multigrain muffins



Multigrain English muffins and mixed vegetable scrambled eggs. 
Breakfast for me should be a colorful and hearty meal as it keeps me happy and energetic throughout the day. Especially for me it needs to be quick too, all the morning hustle bustle leaves me with no time at all, that is the reason I have modified many of my favorite recipes into simpler versions. This scrambled egg used to be my favorite Spanish omelette, with a few crisp potato slices in the base. But now a days when I am pressed for time, I just scramble all the ingredients together, the taste is almost similar. Potato slices are skipped these healthy multigrain English muffins come in as healthier and more filling alternate to potatoes.

To bake the multigrain English muffins quickly, I keep the dough ready in the fridge. In the morning I just shape these flat rounds with hands and microwave them for a minute each, then I place them over a grid place on gas flame. A nice crust forms and hot multigrain English muffins are ready in a jiffy.

Dough of the multigrain English muffin is very simple to make. Just mix the multigrain flour with yeast of your choice or sourdough starter, knead a soft, loose, pliable dough and let it ferment slowly in the fridge overnight. Or go ahead, let it ferment and bake all the English muffins you need and then refrigerate the muffins for a week. I prefer refrigerating the dough and baking my English multigrain muffins fresh.

I add the soy milk byproduct (fresh okara) that results from the soy milk that I make almost twice every week. Adding this fresh okara to the multi grain flour mix allows natural fermentation without added yeast and the muffins are quite soft and flavorful. No fats or eggs are used in this and the texture of the muffin comes from the fiber in the okara and millet flours. The muffins (you can call them buns too I guess) taste very nice with this scrambled eggs.

You can bake these English muffins directly on a griddle (tawa) as well. Make balls of the dough and flatten them with your hands. Arrange them all on a hot griddle and cover with a dome shaped lid. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and turn all the muffins to cook on the other side too. Keeping the muffins covered while they bake makes it easy to bake them evenly.



Scrambled eggs or egg bhurji is mostly like the one I have already posted. Variations are always possible and it may depend on availability of veggies or simply on your mood.

This time I just heated a tsp of ghee (my favorite fat to cook but any other oil can be used) in a pan. Chop green chillies, onions, zucchini, capsicum and tomatoes one by one (half a cup each) and go on adding them into the pan. Add salt and pepper and 2 eggs, scramble lightly so that large chunks are formed. Sometimes I finish it with mixed herbs, or any fresh herb from the garden. Serve immediately with the muffins. yummm........

sweet corn n spinach in a grilled sandwitch



there are some lazy sundays when you don't want to spend much time in the kitchen but still want a healthy breakfast ...........on such a sunday this sandwitch came to my rescue when arvind wanted a crisp grilled sandwitch n i wanted a green crunch for breakfast.............potato , cheese n corn are his fav ingredients n mine is.......here comes.........the spinach.........fresh from my garden...........i rushed to the garden that day to pluck fresh palak leaves to use in the sandwitch n it made an unusual stuffing but the taste was the real winner..........i used daliya bread which gave a nice bite to the sandwitches ..........the pics don't do any justice to what it tasted like............this is a recipe from my older drafts n seeing these pics i can taste them again............here goes the recipe........

ingredients
daliya bread or multigrain bread 4 slices
one large boiled potato ( micriwaved freshly)
sweet corn 3/4 cup
baby spinach 1 cup
chopped green chillies 1 tbsp
freshly crushed black pepper 1 tsp
cheese spread 1 tbsp ( or any cheese of your preference)
salt to taste


procedure

mash the potato immediately after microwaving n peeling........immediately mix all the other ingredients to it, quantity of the potato should be just enough to bind the other ingredients.......slather the paste on the bread slices, cover n grill on a thick wrought iron skillet over medium low heat for a long time so that a crisp crust is formed.............no oil or butter is used here to grill , you can use as per your choice .....it minimizes the grilling time.............i made tea while grilling these slowly this way............the taste is truly sinful.......n truly healthy......

Friday, April 3, 2009

healthy maah rajma | why rajma or kidney beans cause flatulence : reasons and solutions...


Rajma is the red kidney beans, as it is known to the western world, all the variants are available here, in north India. The pinto beans or mottled beans are called chitri wale rajma here and the bigger and smaller variants of red kidney beans are simply called the badi rajma n chhoti rajma.......white cannellini beans are called safed rajma and are considered almost tasteless as far as the north Indian masala cooking is concerned.........

Though most people use them to make rajma curries and salads according to their own preferences. I think the pinto or chitri wale rajma is good for salads and the red ones are better for curried rajma or makhni style cooking. The smaller variety is the one I like most for its smooth n creamy texture, it grows in Jammu and Kashmir, called Badarwahi rajma locally, and that's the one I have used here......

This is a typical punjabi recipe called maah rajma , maah ki dal is the black beans or urad ki daal and tastes very good in combination with rajma,  this combo is named maah rajma.....

It requires moderate amount of oil to cook and can easily be modified to low fat cooking...........this recipe saves my day many times when i am confused what to cook....rajma chawal is the easiest option........

Many people find rajma to be causing flatulence so there is a word of caution while cooking these beans, these should be soaked for several hours before cooking and the water in which the beans were soaked, should be discarded......then it should be boiled in fresh water for at least 10 minutes , as this is the minimum time to degrade a toxic compound found in it called
lectin phytohaemagglutinin, which otherwise causes stomach upset........pressure cooking the beans for 10-12 minutes is the best way to cook them, and more importantly kidney beans should never be sprouted for salads, and the same rule goes for urad dal or black beans too.

The recipe is simple, the beans are soaked overnight or for around 4-5 hours....and then pressure cook with water and salt till 2 whistles of the pressure cooker.

Then prepare masala for the curry, this recipe is for 3 cups of boiled rajma (soak 1 cup red beans n 1/4 cup of black beans and boil with 2 cups of water)

ingredients for masala
onions chopped 1 cup
tomatoes 2 nos.
ginger 1 inch piece
garlic 6-8 nos.
coriander powder 2 tsp
cumin powder 2 tsp
black pepper powder 2 tsp
red chilly powder 1-2 tsp
garam masala powder 2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
green coriander leaves chopped
sunflower or any other oil 1 tbsp

procedure

Heat oil in a pan and quickly pulse the onions in the grinder to make a rough paste n put in the hot oil......lower the heat and throw in a tsp of salt so that onion cooks faster.....meanwhile make a fine paste of ginger garlic in the grinder and add into the frying onions .......while stirring this, make a paste of the chopped tomatoes too........add all the powder masalas into the pan with a tbsp of water n keep stirring till fragrant.......add the tomatoes n cover n cook till tomatoes are cooked.......pour in the rajma mixture n chopped green coriander and simmer for about 10-15 minutes on low. Although it can be quickly boiled for a couple of minutes if you are in a hurry.

Serve hot with plain boiled rice or chapati with curds or raita.......