Sunday, June 28, 2009

multigrain soup or khichri | the one soup which is bringing me back to track

yes, this is the soup which is so full of nutrients and soluble fiber , not to mention the goodness of the complex carbs, protiens and antioxidants ....very low on fats and all this health package comes in a tasty bowl of comfort........

recently when i thought of moving to the next level with my weight loss , which has to be healthy but i was not able to exercise properly ( due to my other commitments), i had to come to food to help me out........earlier also i relied on high fiber, low fat meals at least once a day, but in winters it is easier to stick to multigrain breads and rotis and lots of winter veggies n fruits.........that worked for me fine but the smoldering summers come with lots of mangoes and sherbats here and you don't want to exercise in the heat.......sweating feels like yuckk........i like all the summer veggis n fruits too and they have helped me maintain my weight but i needed to loose a few more kilos.............multigrain roti are too heavy for Indian summers , so i came up with this soup.............i take it daily , a large bowl full actually , sometimes i make a khichdi with slight modifications and believe me this one special meal a day has helped me reduce 1.5 kg in two weeks....and i am eating those mangoes, lassi, shakes and sherbats almost daily and the fried puris, pakode n parathas too once a week( my puri, chapati or paratha dough still has that soya solids , leftover from soy milk making)

ingredients for two servings

whole wheat grains 1 tbsp
hulled whole barley 1.5 tbsp
mung beans 1 tbsp
split chickpea or chana daal 1 tbsp
( soak these for two hrs , i prefer soaking these four ingredients overnight as it becomes quick in the morning)
brown rice 1 tbsp
french beans chopped 1/2 cup
brinjals choped 1/2 cup
carrots chopped 3/4 cup
tomatoes chopped 2 cups
black pepper powder 1 tbsp
cumin powder 1 tsp
green chillies chopped 1 tbsp
salt to taste
butter 1 tbsp
garlic chopped 1 tbsp


dunk all the ingredients into the pressure cooker with about 3 cups of water ( or more if you like it thinner), except butter and garlic , and cook till 2 and mix well.
heat butter and garlic together till garlic gets pinkish....pour over the soup and serve hot.......
tastes like a richly textured tomato's yummy and i like having it almost daily for my breakfast at this point of time...

try this for a week and tell me.......anybody out there wanting to loose a couple of kilos....

Friday, June 26, 2009

healthy fiber rich handvo recipe | a baked savory lentil cake

Handvo is a gujrati dish which is more like a baked dhokla or a savory cake or a spiced up cornbread. What appeals me more in this dish that it can be very versatile in the way we use the ingredients. A mixed pulses batter with some 'carbohydrate grain', some veggies, a generous tadka and finally the baking makes it a whole new experience. I like the way it is baked, with a tadka topping and a tadka base as well. The tadka is a tempering of assorted spices and herbs which imparts a nice aromatic and earthy feel to this baked lentil cake called Handvo or handva.

This recipe is not at all close to a gujrati handvo , authentically a mixture of slow roasted pulses is ground and used for making it but this version makes do with healthy ingredients readily available in a north Indian household. I call it a handvo because of it's cooking technique. The way the tadka is used for the base layer and then the handvo is topped with tadka and then baked.

I made this with lots of cabbage, broken wheat or daliya, chickpea flour and lots of curry patta, these ingredients make for a moist and spongy handvo which is rich in flavors. The fiber content of the handvo is very high due to all these ingredients. Flavors become nice a deep with the tadka and the vegetables used.

for the batter you need

1 cup of daliya soaked in a cup of buttermilk for 2 hrs (can be kept in the fridge overnight)
1 cup of chickpea flour or besan (I use corn meal too in winters as it is available in winters here)
2 cups of very finely chopped cabbage
salt n pepper to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp
ginger paste 1 tbsp
water to make the batter
baking soda 1 tsp

for the tadka you need

oil 2 tbsp
asafoetida 1/4 tsp
mustard seeds 1 tsp
black gram split / urad dal 1 tsp
chickpea split / chana dal 1 tsp
green chillies choppes 2 tbsp
currypatta finely chopped 1/2 cup

to proceed ..........

Preheat the oven (I make it in microwave's grill option).

Make the batter mixing the ingredients for it and keep aside.

Now heat oil in a small tadka pan and throw in asafoetida, mustard seeds, the dals, green chilies and curry patta in that order, let all the ingredients well fried on medium heat, less amount of oil does not allow it to be fried quickly on high heat. So be careful not to burn everything.

Now spoon out 2-3 tbsp of the tadka mix into the baking dish and spread in the bottom like this.

Pour the batter over this mix and spread the remaining tadka mix over the top like this.

Now bake the handvo in the oven till the top is nicely brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Let it cool to room temperature and cut pieces and serve.

It keeps well in the fridge for a week which can be reheated in microwave and served warm with a chutney or as it is.......

It's a nice n healthy tea time snack. Full of fiber and low on calorie than most Indian chai snacks, being low on glycemic index is a better feat for this particular snack.

Taste wise this is the best savory baked snacks you can have, the cury patta and chilly makes it nicely spicy and the sponginess of the handvo is just addictive. You would feel like having it for meals.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

mangoes with coconut sticky rice | Thai dessert Khao Niaow Ma Muang

Thai mango sticky rice

Summer is the season almost synonymous with mangoes in India and however you resolve to keep under control, you just end up having mangoes everyday. Other fruits seem just so pale when mangoes are around, I am eating my melons, peaches and plums too but as both of us love anything with mangoes I find an excuse to buy more mangoes every week. This .aam malai is a childhood favorite and mango loaf  is baked for breakfast quite frequently, mango slices find their way on the dining table even in their most basic form. Mangoes are cut every day on the dining table and we make something else with them only when we have had our fill of those plain juicy slices of this wonder fruit. Sometimes I plan better and keep some sticky rice or overcooked rice ready and rustle up a quick mango sticky rice for ourselves.


Long time back I had seen this dessert, actually a street food ( on discovery travel n living of course) being sold in Thailand neatly wrapped up in plantain leaves, I made it just after seeing that and now I have even adapted it for a quick version. It's so easy to make if you have coconut milk powder in your fridge. The flavors of mango and coconut milk combine so beautifully together along with some fragrant sticky rice.

I use any sticky rice variety ranging from Arborio or Thai sticky rice, Black rice from Manipur, Basmati or short grain Gobindbhog (very fragrant variety) to make this. Believe me you won't be disappointed if you have cooked the rice well and have mixed it well with coconut cream.

Actually as I cook quick recipes only these days due to time constraint, I am using the leftover rice for this too, I purposely make extra rice so that I can make this for ourselves whenever we feel like a mango dinner.

Thai mango sticky rice

Let's start with the recipe which is more like a quick assembly rather than a proper recipe. You just need to put everything together. Take a cup of cooked rice in a microwave safe bowl, add 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of coconut milk powder OR about 3/4 cup of thick coconut milk to it and microwave it for 2 minutes. The rice should look very soft and sticky and the microwaving time can be adjusted to get the right consistency. Sometimes I make it a bit runny and sometimes it is lumpy and sticky.

To start this Thai mango with sticky rice from scratch...

Cook sticky rice or any other rice variety that you intend to use for this dessert, just follow the instructions (on the packet) or go by your trusted method to cook the rice. Add a cup of coconut cream (25% fat) or coconut milk (16-20% fat) to each cup of cooked rice, mix well.

The natural sweetness of coconut will be enough to sweeten the mix, rice also has a slight sweetness of its own.Top with a cup of cubed mangoes and serve hot, warm or cold. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds if you wish or have it as it is.

You can use fresh paste of tender coconut to replace coconut cream too, that gives you more textured dessert and you get to taste real coconut with rice and mango.

For that you need to cook the rice in usual amount of water and just when it is about to cook add pureed fresh coconut (equal amounts of cooked rice and coconut works best) to it and cover the pan so that the flavors seep in. Add sugar (only if required) and top with cubes of mangoes and serve as you like. This version definitely needs planning (for coconut processing) which I am not able to do at this point of time.

The quicker version is working just fine for me at this point of time, with leftover Basmati rice. Yes we mix it up like a pudding sometimes, making the rice mix a bit loose with more coconut milk.

Thai mango sticky rice

We can have it for breakfast, evening snack or dinner. Always game for some mangoes with coconut sticky rice.

As long as there is some leftover rice, some juicy mangoes and some coconut milk in stock, you can make it in a jiffy.

Thai mango sticky rice

Have yo tried it yet? Make some before mangoes vanish this season. There is still some time for this delicious Thai style mango and coconut sticky rice.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

kashmiri masale ki sookhi bhindi | stir fry okra with Kashmir spices

okra stir fry recipe

Okra, Ladies fingers or Bhindi as we call them, is our favourite summer vegetable and we grow it in our garden almost every season. Yes we get to eat organic home grown okra every year...

okra is a very good source of Vit.C, it is a low cal food with 20 calories per half cup sliced okra, it is also a good source of Vit.A, calcium and fiber, but the most interesting benefit of okra comes from the mucilage rich fiber it contains. The mucilage of okra soothes the inner lining of stomach and intestines, detoxifies the system and is very gentle on the system unlike bran which irritates the inner lining of stomach when consumed in large quantities.

okra plant

Okra should not be deep fried to retain all the health benefits, stir frying works best as the mucilage from inside the fruit is not decomposed and it gets absorbed into the powdered masalas (cornmeal or chickpea flour can also be used for this purpose) and we get optimal benefit of this vegetable.

Arvind likes it stir fried while I can eat it even steamed. I make many versions of the stir fry, basically using different masalas or herbs to impart the okras a different flavor each time. This ghee fried peppery okra is a family favourite.

We eat this okra almost 4-5 times a week when it grows in the garden, sometimes I bake okra to make crispy kurkuri bhindi which is normally a deep fried recipe but I adapted it to be baked.

Kashmiri masale wali sookhi bhindi  is a very simple and quick preparation. The spice mix is not very authentic Kashmiri but somehow in our family it was know as Kashmiri as it is inspired by Kashmiri masala.

To prepare this Kashmiri masale ki sookhi bhindi, just wash and cut the okras (400 gm) in half, pat dry and keep aside. Heat mustard oil 1 tsp in a deep pan and throw in few whole red chillies and let them change colour. Now add the okras with salt to taste and stir fry on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 tsp of powdered kashmiri masala*, fry till the okra takes a golden hue and it is ready to serve. It may take some 10 minutes to cook this way if using minimal oil like this recipe.

The okra pieces should just be cooked and not browned, it is good this way to preserve the mucilage of okra too as I mentioned above.

okra stir fry recipe

to make powdered kashmiri masala*

fennel seeds 1 tbsp
black pepper corns 1 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
cloves 5 nos.
fenugreek 1/2 tsp
cinnamon 1 inch stick
whole red chillies to taste (you can skip these and add chillies separately to stir fries)

Dry roast all these spices and make a powder along with 8-10 whole red chillies, 1 tbsp dry ginger powder and 1 tbsp of amchoor (dry mango) powder and a pinch of asafoetida. Keep in a airtight container for later use. Just 2 tsp of this powder makes any stir fry hot, spicy and flavorful.

I stock powders of all these spices so I mix the powders and use for convenience. You can do that too if you stock powders of all these spices.

Kashmiri masalae ki sookhi bhindi is one stir fry that can make a meal for me if served with a little grilled chicken or even paneer. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

phalsa or falsa (Grewia asiatica), the deep purple summer stone fruit | recipe of phalse ka sharbat

phalsa (Grewia asiatca)

Phalsa (Grewia asiatica) is a summer fruit rich in pigment antioxidants. Phalsa looks like a berry but it is actually a stone fruit (Drupe) that has very little flesh but verr flavourful.

It is a popular street snack tossed with black salt or herb salt and the phalsa sellers can be seen carrying the 'berries' in a basket during summer months all over north India. Since the berries rot really fast there is a remote chance for these to reach supermarket isles. But a few street vendors will always keep bringing phalsa to us I am sure, there are people who forage such berries and make a living out of it. Good for conservation of such lesser known native fruits.

phalsa with herb salt

It's too hot here in Delhi and we are practically living on cooling foods and drinks, be it salads or sharbats or just plain lime water, nimboo paani, chilled slices of watermelons and muskmelons are mostly for lunch and light snacking throughout the day.

As I mentioned, Phalsa or Grewia asiatica is a tropical stone fruit (Drupe) which is tangy and sweet with a unique flavor, it's taste pairs well with kala namak or black salt, some people call it pink salt too.

The fruit has a small stone inside which can be chewed and I prefer to chew on it whenever eating the berries in a salad like my mango salad or as it is with black salt.

To make phalse ka sharba, mix salt and sugar to taste to cleaned phalsa and macerate it without adding any water. The juices will come out when you mash and macerate the berries.Leave it for 10 minutes, then add water and pass through a strainer while rubbing the pulp through the strainer surface. 

For making one liter of phalse ka sharbat you need about 250 gm phalsa, 4-5 gm black salt and about 50 gm sugar if using. 

phalse ka sharbat

Or process the phalsa in a mixie jar or food processor and pulse to make a puree of the fruit. I add equal quantity of thinly slices beets to this pulsing mixture sometimes.

Add chilled water once a paste of formed, pulse again, and pass the mixture through a sieve so the stony seeds are separated.

Add ice cubes or more chilled water, pink salt to taste, add sugar if required and serve chilled.

phalse ka sharbat

A cup of phalsa berries and half a cup of beet slices result in 3-4 large glasses of thick smoothie like sharbat. You can always dilute it but then you might require a sweetener as the natural tangy sweet flavor of the berry will be diluted.

The sharbat can be refrigerated for the day. Cooling for summers, cleansing for the system and very nutritious as the fruit is rich in minerals and antioxidants.

Do let me know if you have had this sharbat. The phalsa berry is not available in many parts of the country but one can grow a phalsa tree if space is not a constraint. I have planted one and is growing slowly. Someone would be able to pluck phalsa from them if not me :-)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

101 gluten free breakfasts : mixed grain poha | multigrain poha | poha with sprouts

Mixed grains when used in whole form are a good source of soluble fiber and multiple types of Vitamins and minerals, also varied profile of amino acids as well. Such grains are low on glycemic index and good for diabetics and weight watchers too.

mixed grain poha | multigrain poha | poha with sprouts

I like savory breakfasts. In our childhood days it used to be stuffed parathas, poha, upma, sandwiches etc. with a bowl of daliya cooked in milk. Daliya used to be a quick gulp down, but the savory preparations were something special, everyday we used to look forward... aaj nashte me kya bana hai... what is there for breakfast today.......

I do a lot of quick cooking these days 'for all the reasons', but never want to miss on the nutritive whole food which is nutritive, low on fat and high on fiber. This poha made with whole barley grains, mung dal and some poha is so rich in texture and flavor that it becomes a favorite with everybody. My dad and brother liked it very much when they visited recently.

Before going on to the recipe, I want to let you know, that such breakfasts and meals have helped me loose 10 kilos in a very short period of time. I know I have very little options at this point of time regarding doing workouts and the stress had already caused a lot of harm, healthy eating hashelped keep some balance.

mixed grain poha | multigrain poha | poha with sprouts

ingredients for the poha
( four breakfast servings)
split mung beans (with or without skin) soaked overnight 1 cup or mixed sprouts
barley grains soaked overnight 3/4 cup
coarse poha or chivda 1 cup
onions chopped 1 cup or potatoes cubed in small bits
green chilies and ginger chopped fine 1 tbsp each
curry patta 10-15 strings
turmeric powder 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
salt to taste
lots of freshly ground pepper
oil or ghee 1 tbsp
lemon juice 1-2 tbsp


Wash the poha in a colander under running water and keep aside. If using fine poha, no need to wash.

Heat ghee in a pan and throw in the cumin seeds, let them crackle and add the ginger and green chilies, followed by chopped onions or potatoes or both if using, and curry patta.

Stir fry for some time until the onions become translucent. Now add the turmeric powder, soaked barley and mung if using, salt n pepper and mix properly. Now cook the mixture covered on low flame till the mung looks shiny n translucent, for about 5 minutes... the barley gets cooked through till the time too.

Now add the washed poha, mix properly and keep cooking for 5 more minutes and let the flavors blend in, drizzle with some lemon juice and serve hot.

It can be garnished with roasted peanuts or almonds but I like it as it is, it has enough texture and flavor and is a stand alone breakfast.

mixed grain poha | multigrain poha | poha with sprouts

Buttermilk is a good accompaniment with it. I sometimes make if for dinner and have it with cucumber raita. Poha can be really versatile if you wish.