Tuesday, June 21, 2011

red lentil and red rice khichri ...a light cooling lunch for summers..

This is the perfect lunch for those busy days when you want to do a hundred things and have a light lunch cooked in a jiffy . And you also want to eat healthy . A khichri is a healthy light meal otherwise too and if you choose healthier grains like barley or brown or red rice (or wild rice) it becomes your way to a satisfying great meal.

The khichri can be a nice lunch box option too if you pack in some fruits and nuts for between the meals snacking...you may like to pack some roasted papad too..

(2 servings)
red lintils 2-3 tbsp
red rice 2-3 tbsp
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
chopped tomatoes 1.5 cup
finely chopped garlic 1 tsp
whole cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp
everyday curry powder or any curry powder you like 1 tsp
asafoetida a pinch (optional)
ghee or butter 2 tsp


The cooking time for the khichri is about 20 minutes but you just need to work for 5 minutes each to begin and finish the dish.

Wash the lentils and red rice or wild rice and soak for 10-20 minutes if you have time , otherwise pour in the pressure cooker pan with 2 cups of water. Add salt and turmeric powder and the chopped tomatoes and cook covered .

Lower the flame when the first whistle blows and cook for about 10-12 minutes more. Let it cool a bit before proceeding further .

Heat the ghee in a small pan (or tadka pan) and throw in the asafoetida and cumin seeds . Let the cumin splutter before adding the chopped garlic. The garlic needs to get pinkish brown so stir and let the garlic fry. Take the pan off heat.

Add the red chilly and curry powder immediately into the hot ghee and garlic mix and stir to make the powders well absorbed and cooked in the heat. They turn aromatic .

Pour the tadka ( tempering) into the cooked khichdi which should look like a thick soup . Adjust consistency and seasonings if required and serve hot.

This khichri and many other khichris can be a standalone healthy meal . A few roasted papads are great with it and a glass of buttermilk is something what i like. Many people like some raita with it too but it makes a fuss free quick healthy meal for me and i keep it simple.

Simple and yet very very flavorful. Accents of tomatoes and garlic and some heat make the khichri satisfying. The red rice had a nice texture to it . Almost like bulgur and a soupy khichri suits very well to it. The red rice was bought from Chennai some time back and i have been using it extensively in my soups and khichris . My multigrain soups have got another grain to boast for . I am liking the red rice for sure....

Are you trying some red rice ?
Or any other wild rice available in your locality ?

upma ..... a savory breakfast cereal loaded with fiber ....

Sooji , semolina or cream of wheat , this is the wheat product which we all love in our halwa , upma , idlis and even instant rawa dosa , uttapams and vadas...

I try and make the semolina recipes loaded with good fiber , modifying the glycemic index . The fiber in the dish makes the glycemic load to come down , that is , the available carbohydrate per serving , if talking in a lay man's language........  this green idli is a very good recipe to make with semolina where the addition of lots of curry patta lowers down the glycemic load per serving ..

Upma and poha , both of them are the most popular breakfast dishes ... apart from the many variations of parathas for the punjabis of course .... I like my upma very much and get to make it very rarely . The husband had a pre-historic aversion to it ... from the time i didn't know him . Earlier he used to refuse for upma right away but now after tasting this one he eats well , can't say he likes it but it is acceptable as a breakfast .... i guess he might have had a really bad upma in his childhood or it could just be because he loves his sooji ka halwa a lot and used to say he didn't want a savory halwa.. Some food aversions have an interesting history . Some funny stories .

For this upma i add a lot of chopped onions and some whole lentils (daals) , so it becomes a nice combination of many textures hitting your palate . All these additives make the semolina upma fit for even a diabetic . Otherwise semolina is a refined wheat product , devoid of any fiber .


For two servings you need a cup of semolina and 4 cups of chopped onions .....
2 tsp each of chana daal and urad daal , 1 tsp of mustard seeds , 1 tsp of chopped green chillies , 2 dry red chillies broken and 2 tbsp of chopped curry patta ...
salt and pepper to taste and 1 tbsp of ghee....
lemon juice to taste ...


Heat the ghee in a kadai and tip in the mustard seeds and the daals , followed by the chillies , curry patta and then the chopped onions . Add the salt and stir fry the onions till they turn translucent and a few of them turn pink. You don't want any more fried onions as the flavor of the upma depends on this.
Add the semolina and black pepper and keep stirring the mixture till the semolina is lightly roasted .

 See how the semolina and onion ratio looks like while being roasted...

Add 3 cups of water and mix well .... keep cooking till the mixture changes from a runny consistency to a firm mash like thing . Add the lemon juice and serve immediately.

The frying of onion slices is instrumental in deciding the taste of this upma . If you want a caramelized onion taste it will be better to brown the onions , that will make the upma darker in color too . I like the onions to be translucent and sweetish , this is a light upma with nice textures provided by the fried daals . Addition of nuts like fried or roasted cashews and almonds makes this upma even better but i always prefer to make this lighter version...

Lightly fried onions are a good tonic food according to Ayurveda as it is rich in nutrients (as good as milk as it is said in Ayurveda) and easy to digest form of the onion...

Sometimes i like a hot chutney or a lemon or ginger pickle to go with an upma like this ...


Sunday, June 19, 2011

homemade namkeens | Indian tea time snacks | we love our chai time munchies

In India, our tea is not accompanied by tea cakes, scones, sandwiches and cookies normally. Cakes and sandwiches are more outdoors options for weekend picnics etc. Sandwiches have become convenient food or snack for many but still it doesn't make the perfect tea time snack for us.

The daily tea may have different kinds of savory companions like khari biscuit, mathhi or mathari, roasted chana or peanuts if thinking of a healthy option and samosa or deep fried pakode, sometimes oil starved pakode too when you want to indulge on a rainy day ...

And we have a whole lot of namkeens to boast of. A great variety is available on the shelves packaged in attractive colors. Loaded with fats and additives with suspicious names. You know what I mean.

Why not make the tea time munchies at home and try it making it with minimal effort . Or just mixing up some dry prepared things together as we want it . Roasted chickpeas, roasted peanuts and dry roasted chivda or poha are great when it comes to make a mixture..

I normally dry roast some chivra with chopped curry patta and finely chopped green chillies, mix it with roasted peanuts and roasted chickpeas and keep it in an airtight container for an instant chewy munch. More so because I need something to chew on when my migraine hits. Thankfully the migraines are getting less frequent now. See how the roasted chivda should look popped. Use brown rice poha or chivda for making this namkeen..

To make this mixture , heat a tbsp of mustard or any other oil and add a tsp of cumin seeds to it, wait till they splutter and then add 2 tsp of finely chopped green chillies. Within a few seconds add a handful of chopped curry patta and keep stirring the mix till the curry patta starts getting dry. Add about 2 cups of dry poha ( chivra) and keep stirring the dry ingredients constantly on a medium low flame. The poha will get slightly puffed up after sometime. The puffing up of the poha will be visible and they need to be constantly turned up so all of the tiny grains get puffed up. This is the trick to roast poha in very low oil or ghee.Take off heat when all of them have puffed up and mix salt, pepper and red chilly powder to taste and a bit of amchoor powder too. Add a cup each of roasted peanuts and roasted chickpeas. Keep in an airtight container.

Another dry namkeen that I make is using the mung daal. This 'mung daal' is a very popular namkeen and every brand of namkeen has this variety. Seasoned only with salt.

To make this popped up mung daal without any added fat, you need to use a microwave. Yes microwaves are great gadgets when it comes to fat free cooking.

Soak mung daal for 2-3 hours and drain it. Mix salt to taste. Place the soaked and salted mung daal in ceramic, pyrex or borosil bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Take out, stir well and pop inside the MW again. Repeat the process of microwaving and stirring 4-5 times and you get a nice crunchy namkeen ready . 

This namkeen is a bit more chewy than the crispy fried version but the taste is exactly the same. The chewy part suits me very well because a little namkeen goes a long way. You consume less and get the same taste.

Sometimes I mix a bit of dry roasted poha mixture and a bit a dry roasted mung daal with some chopped onions and green chillies. Throw in some chopped coriander leaves and have it like a nice snack with my masala chai.

Keeping a good supply of healthy options ready is the key to healthy snacking. Because most of the time we eat good healthy food and it is the snacking between the meals which makes our arteries clog and the cellulite pile up.

Do not let that happen and keep a few small jars ready with roasted nuts and lentils. It goes a long way once prepared.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

chicken and egg fried rice ....

Someone has been asking for more Chinese recipes and i don't make Chinese much . But my egg fried rice recipes are mostly with Chinese flavors . We love our egg fried rice a bit hot and lot many flavors in it . This one will please your senses too...It is a great sight on the table and the aroma makes you instantly hungry...

What i like the most in my egg fried rice is that i can always use healthy brown rice to make it . I like it more with brown rice actually.

(3 servings plus some leftover)
brown rice 1/2 cup
eggs 4
chicken , boneless thigh pieces 200 gm
spring onions 2 nos.
fresh red chillies 2 nos.
fresh green chillies 2 nos.
finely chopped ginger 2 tsp
finely chopped garlic 2 tsp
frshly milled black peppercorns 1 tsp or more
soy sauce 2 tsp or to taste
sunflower or any bland oil 2 tbsp
salt to taste
Chop the spring onions keeping the white and green parts separate.
Hard boil 2 eggs , cool and peel the shell .
Cook the brown rice in a a pan or in microwave , the other preparations can be done while the rice cooks and the eggs boil.

Heat 2 tsp of oil , throw in a little chillies , ginger and garlic ( just to season the chicken) and add the chicken pieces along with salt n pepper . Cook while stirring the chicken . Take them out of the pan once cooked.

Break 2 eggs in a bowl and season with salt, pepper, green chillies and a bit of ginger. Whip lightly.
Slice the boiled eggs and dip them into the whipped and seasoned egg mixture . Now pour this eggs mixture into the pan with 2 tsp of hot oil and cook stirring carefully . The boiled egg slices do not fall apart because they have been dipped into raw egg mixture .

Take out the cooked eggs and keep them along with the cooked chicken pieces . They are to be added later in the fried rice. The rice should be cooked till now.

This is the time to add the remaining oil the the pan and throw in the remaining green and red chillies, ginger and garlic into the hot oil. Add the white parts of the spring onion first so it gets cooked a bit . The onions should just be sweating and not cooked through .

Add salt and pepper to the cooking mixture ( taking care to adjust the seasoning to all stages and ingredients) . Pour in the soy sauce too and mix well.

Add the cooked rice and chopped green parts of the spring onion . Add the fried eggs mixture and chicken pieces too. Mix everything well .

Serve immediately .

This is a special egg fried rice recipe and i make it when we feel like having everything in one single plate. The sliced boiled eggs are special because they look stunning in the finished dish and they taste great too as they are coated with the seasoned egg mixture .

A complete meal in a plate . No side dishes required and you would love cooking it . Just going through the different ingredients in successive steps doesn't make this recipe complex . Using chicken nuggets or cocktail sausages makes it even more quick but i prefer freshly cut chicken ( frozen is okay too) to any kind of packaged stuff.

The platter gets ready within 30-35 minutes . I uploaded so many pictures to entice you enough to try it once . The flavors will be comforting and the looks ... just killing.

Truly a killer recipe with brown rice...enjoy...

Friday, June 17, 2011

celery and pepper infused paneer curry ...celery paneer

Celery is one herb who loves me the most I guess. No I am quite sure about it.
Because the ones who love you can wait till you make your mind .

And celery waited till I started liking it. I was never too enthusiastic about celery as the flavor was new to my palate and I had to experiment a lot to make this flavor mine. I tried a paneer and celery scones long time back , when I had just one pot of celery growing , and that was the time I had started having a genuine liking for this herb. I had found the perfect desi videshi fusion for this herb and I knew the garden needs some more celery. The celery has it's own bed in the garden now and a few more containers for a lush green corner ...

I will tell you how celery expresses it's love for me . This is the only herb which I could grow from seeds and which is growing happily in my garden while all the other herbs are being snooty and demand great care. The ribs are not very thick and fleshy as I keep cutting the outer ribs for my soups , salads , smoothies, daals and even curries. This herb is growing despite some insects biting it's legs, literally...

 I cut a few ribs, cleaned the insect bitten parts and chopped it finely , leaves and all. I can't waste my fruit of labour.

And the recipe takes just about 25 minutes , if you start from skimmed milk to make your own fresh paneer too.

(3-4 servings)
celery ribs and leaves a bunch
(i used all the ribs in the picture, about 4-5 thick ribs will be great)
finely diced onions 3/4 cup
garlic finely chopped 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1/4 tsp
freshly milled black peppercorns 1 tbsp or more
freshly grated nutmeg 1/5 tsp
oil (i used sunflower oil) 2 tsp
fresh cream (i used malai) 1 tbsp
milk 1/4 cup
freshly made paneer 100gm (i made it from 500 ml skimmed milk)
salt to taste

 procedure ...

Start boiling the milk in a pan for making the paneer and do the chopping in the meantime . Chop the celery sticks finely and onions in the same size too . The celery was about 1 1/2 cups loosely packed.

Add lime juice or vinegar to the milk just before boiling , wait till it curdles and strain to make paneer . See details here.

Heat oil in a pan and throw in the chopped garlic first and let it get pinkish . Keep the flame at medium level so the garlic doesn't burn.

Add the chopped onion , stir well to coat and then add the chopped celery too . Add salt and mix well to cook lightly . The vegetables are cooked to just make them sweat in the pan and not too much to make them mushy.

Add the milled peppercorns , grated nutmeg, the fresh cream , milk and the cubed fresh paneer (there is no need to hang the paneer or to press it under weight) .

Cover and cook for just 2-3 minutes.... the first time i made this curry i was thinking of liquidizing the cooked vegetables before adding the paneer but went ahead with them as it is . I like the texture in any flavorful dish and the husband liked this curry this way too. The curry has been an oft repeated one in the same tidbits n paneer avatar ....

Actually this is one of the curries which get instant thumbs up . Do liquidize the cooked vegetables if you feel you may not like the texture .

Rest assured about the flavors it brings to your table...trust me.

Serve with whole wheat chapatis ..

 I told you this curry takes about 25 minutes . I manage to make 3-4 chapatis too in this time while the curry gets it's final boil. So the dinner is ready within 25 minutes for me when i make such quick curries...

Sometimes the chopping is not as fine as i write , you can see the bits of celery rib and the onions in the picture , but trust me on the taste . A tingling nutmeg and black pepper corn notes leave you asking for more... and the softness of the freshly made paneer doesn't help much in reaching out for second and third helpings...


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicken stew mughlai style

We North Indians are obsessed with creamy gravies and making them low fat is a challenge . Many people like a good fat layer on top of the dish as it definitely makes the spicing more aromatic . All the aromatic oils of the spices are soluble in cooking fat and the aroma of the finished dish depends a lot on how the spices are cooked and seeped into the cooking medium . The meats also take up the flavors well when cooked with some fat .

At the same time , cooking with lesser amounts of fat is not such a big deal . Using just enough fat to let the spices bloom in the gravy and the meat get evenly cooked and seeped into the spicy notes is the idea . The heat level needs to be kept in control as the meats need more time to cooked in a low fat medium , without getting stuck to the base of the pan...Slow cooking with some liquid drowning the meat is a great idea , best suited for low fat cooking, especially meats.

The mughlai stew is called 'Ishtoo' and this is not a revelation for anybody who likes it.. whenever you want a nutty creamy gravy with an intense chicken flavor you can have this ishtoo . This ishtoo i made with the remaining boney pieces of the chicken after making a grilled tikka . The boney pieces have more intense flavor and they come out well if cooked for a soup or for a stew...

This chicken stew is an exact replica of a mutton stew i recreated after having it at a famous purani dilli (old city of Delhi) eatery , with boney pieces of chicken this was the best thing to have with some fresh whole wheat chapatis ..

(for 2 servings)
chicken pieces on bone 250 -300 gm
 red chilly powder 1tsp or a bit more
cumin seeds 1 tsp
whole coriander seeds 1 tsp
fennel seeds 1 tsp
whole peppercorns 15 nos.
green cardamom seeds and skin separated 2 nos.
black cardamom a few seeds only ( about 1/4 of a whole pod)
a small cinnamon stick
half a star anise ( optional, i am just obsessed by it)
cloves 4 nos.
a small sliver of mace
salt to taste
ghee 1 tsp
fresh cream 1 tbsp ( i used home made malai)
 to be minced in the food processor or mixie..
2 big onions (1.5 cup minced)
an inch piece of ginger chopped
7-8 small cloves of Indian garlic
to be made into a fine paste
1.5 tbsp of melon seeds ( magaz in urdu and kharbuze ka beej in hindi)
100 gm of thick curds


There are a lot of ingredients but the cooking is really simple.

Place everything into a pan except the paste of melon seeds and curds. Add a cup of water and cook the chicken on low flame till cooked.It takes about 25-35 minutes according to the size of the chicken pieces.

Add the white paste made with melon seeds and curds , mix well and let it come to a soft boil. Cover the pan and take off heat. Let the pan stand for 5 minutes before serving.

There will be some oil floating on top , but not overwhelming . The whole recipe is quite low on fats and equally tasty ..

You might like to discard some of the whole spices as they are not a welcome bite...I like the whole coriander seeds and some whole peppercorns coming under my teeth once in a while...this one is a rustic dish where you pick out the whole spices if you don't like them and use your hands to eat it...

With hot chapatis , roomali rotis or fluffy naan , this stew needs some bread ....to be mopped clean.

The aromas will linger for a longer time...a milder version is called chiken safeda in my household .

Which one would you like?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

chicken in a creamy white gravy..... low fat and healthy....

I am a happy vegetarian but i like my lean meats once in a while . Some people alleged that my blog has gone ghaas phoos ( grass and hay literally translated) as i am not posting any exciting dishes ...as if only meats are exciting . Good food is exciting enough for me , meats or vegetables ...i want good taste.

This recipe is called Murgh safeda ( creamy white chicken ) and is a mildly spicy creamy goodness of chicken cooked without the use of any additional fat . Delicate flavors of spices are fused very well with melon seeds and cashew paste , looking very exotic and tasting like you have done a lot of work on it . And surprisingly it's quite easy and time saving recipe , i don't use any garlic and onion for this and the actual work becomes even less.

Needless to say i make it mostly for guests , one because it allows me to work on some side dishes simultaneously and secondly because i have always got great complements for this chicken dish .... not to forget , it looks and smells awesome on the table ..

These are again dinner time pictures clicked in a haste. Still looks delicious and i can even smell it...

chicken ( on bone ) 1 kg
salt to taste
cream 1 tbsp ( optional )
one whole nutmeg to be grated ( just a pinch of powder needed )

To be made into a paste ..
green cardamom 3 nos.
cinnamon sticks one inch long 2 nos.
cloves 5-6 nos.
bay leaves scissor cut 4 nos.
cumin seeds 2 tsp
black or white peppercorns 2-3 tsp
green chillies 4-5 nos. or more
ginger root 2 inch long piece

To be made into another paste...

broken cashew nuts ( 1/3 cup )
melon seeds ( magaz ) 1 tbsp
( soak both of them in a cup of hot water when you start working , for 10-15 minutes )


Grind all the ingredients of the first paste adding 1/2 cup or a bit more of water and strain the paste using a mesh strainer . Add some water again to the solids and grind again and then sieve one more time . This should yield about a cup of spice extract , reserve this extract for the recipe . The solids can be used for some other curry , i prefer using it for my rajma and kaali daals ... you may like to label it and freeze for later use. If you are making any of these in the same meal it is an added advantage of this recipe .... this has been a huge time saver recipe for me actually. ( and don't worry both the dishes wouldn't taste the same as for lentils you will use a spicy tadka and coriander leaves to finish )...it's no more a secret now....

Transfer this watery extract to the Kadai and add the chicken to it .... heat the contents to cook them covered with salt added . This cooking should be done on low flame as you want the chicken to release it's own juices and fat and absorb all the spices while simmering. You may need to add a bit of water while cooking...

In the meanwhile there is enough time to make the second paste , by this time cashews and seeds should be soft to make a fine creamy paste . Wait till the chicken is cooked through and then add the paste to the cooking mixture.

As you can see the white paste changes the character of the dish at this step . Grate the nutmeg over it or add the fresh powder and mix. Cover and let it simmer for a couple of minutes , you can see the fats of the chicken floating on the surface ...

Add cream if using , mix well and serve hot with thin chapatis or roomali rotis ...

Roomali rotis or very thin soft chapatis are best suited for this chicken dish as it is very delicately flavored and a thin n soft chapati wraps up the flavors really well . among the rice dished we love it with matar pulav or a lightly spiced pulav topped with crunchy fried onions...

Do not add any coriander or kasoori methi as i know you would be tempted to , Just make it like this if you are trying it for the first time and you wouldn't miss any fresh herbs for once...

I make another version of this dish too , as it is an oft repeated chicken dish in my kitchen . That one is a bit spicy and i prefer it when i need a higher spice level . That recipe is coming next to this post , stay tuned ...... i also make a vegetarian dish called paneer safeda and that one is my quick fix recipe when i have guests who avoid garlic n onion in their food.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

lotus stem and chick pea curry .... very low fat..

I am a stickler for nutrition packed recipes with minimal amount of cooking fat. The recipes should be quick to cook and convenient to serve if it is your daily routine meal . We all like exotic recipes , fresh ingredients and elaborately arranged plates , but that we do once in a while to please ourselves . To take pleasure in buying the stuff fresh and processing them lovingly, to lay out the table and enjoying the meal , all by ourselves or with loved ones around. Daily meals need to be made with staple ingredients and for me they need to be cooked in one or two simple steps . Taste and nutrition i cannot compromise .... so even if the dish looks monochromatic , it is packed with all the goodness our body requires...

( 2-4 servings )
lotus stems 1 stick (200gm)
chana daal or split chickpeas 1/2 cup
freshly pureed tomatoes 1 cup
cumin seeds 2 tsp
asafoetida a pinch
turmeric powder 2 tsp
salt to taste
red chilly powder 1 tsp
or a bit more if you like it hot
ghee 1 tbsp 

spices to be powdered together...
cumin seeds 1 tsp
black peppercorns 1 tsp
coriander seeds 2 tsp
bay leaves 2 nos.
I call it my everyday curry powder which keeps well for 2-3 months and i used a heaped tbsp of the ready powder from my lot.

procedure ...

Wash and soak the chana daal in 2 cups of water for 15 -25 minutes or till you do the preparations .

Peel the lotus stem and wash the interiors properly , then slice the lotus stem in thin (.5 cm) slices .

Put the chana daal along with the soaking water , lotus stem slices , salt and turmeric powder and freshly pureed tomatoes in a pressure cooker pan and cook on high flame till the whistle blows . Turn the flame to low and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Let it cool by itself , till the pressure releases.

For the tempering , heat the ghee in a pan and throw in the asafoetida powder and the cumin seeds and wait till the cumin crackles. Take the pan off heat and now throw in the everyday curry powder or the spice powder you made freshly , stir and then add the red chilly powder quickly . The heat of the ghee will cook the powders even if the pan is off heat and spices would turn aromatic.

Now pour the cooked daal and lotus stems into the pan and cook on medium heat till a soft boil stirring all the while .

Serve hot with chapatis or plain boiled rice.

I served it with ghee fried peppery okra which gets done within 5-7 minutes .
 Lots of vegetables and a small serving of rice or a chapati , that sums up my everyday lunch .
And that keeps the spice level in my meals to my liking too...

PS : lotus stem is one of the highest plant sources of iron . It is high on calories unlike other vegetables ... prepared in a healthy way it can be your savoir for good health .

Saturday, June 11, 2011

white rice made healthy : sesame and fenugreek fried rice | low glycemic meals

How to make rice meals healthier and low on Glycemic Index? This is a frequent question I keep getting from the readers of this blog. This recipe of sesame fenugreek rice is a demonstration of how one can easily enjoy a rice meal and still keep the Glycemic index low, and even the macro and micro nutrients balanced in this one pot meal.

sesame and fenugreek fried rice

Rice has become such a soft spot with nutrition seekers and dieters in our country. More than anywhere else. No other place celebrates rice as much as we Indians do, especially in the coastal regions.

I know I know, the Chinese and the Japanese, Koreans and all the coastal countries probably consume rice as a staple grain, but I feel the proportion of rice on an average Indian's plate is much more than needed.

Daal bhaat (lentil n rice) is a common name for a meal in some parts of India, daal roti and just 'roti' is a common slang for a meal. A Punjabi would say chalo rotti kha layiye (for let's have our meal) and a bong would say bhaat kheye naao for have your meal. In the central parts of India too it is like daal roti or daal bhaat. We certainly heap our plates with rice (or other grains, mostly refined now a days) and that is not healthy especially in modern context where we sit on chairs all day long. The grain heavy diet is fit for a farmer but not a desk bound worker. We Indians take very small servings of lentils and vegetables on the side in a vegetarian meal as a habit, even though there are several vegetable and lentil side dishes. With a meat or fish meal the proportion is healthier though, but still not perfect.

If the rice is white and refined, stripped off its goodness, the nutrient proportion is even more tilted. You know what I mean. If the proportion of rice for a meal is lower than other healthier ingredients, a white rice meal could be healthier easily. Like it is in the other east Asian countries, as their plates are loaded with greens and vegetables and some meat or fish so the rice makes a small portion of the plate.

So the moral of the story is, load you plate with more vegetables and protein and enjoy your white rice once in a while or even everyday. A practical solution for all of us who have grown up eating the tastier (polished) rice and now crave for it even when we know it is stripped off it's goodness.
Add more goodness to it. See how.

(for two servings)
sesame seeds 3 tbsp
black peppercorns 2 tsp
cumin seeds 2 tsp
coriander seeds 1 tsp
dry red chilies broken 2 nos.
a pinch of asafoetida
2 cups of chopped fenugreek leaves
1 cup of cooked white rice
salt to taste
a squirt of lime juice or a pinch or amchoor powder (optional)
mustard or sesame oil 1 tsp


Make a coarse powder of sesame, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and black peppercorns together. Keep aside. This mixture can be made in large quantity and kept in a airtight container, preferably in fridge for a month or so.

Heat oil in a pan and throw in the asafoetida powder first.Now add the broken red chilies and let them get roasted, keep the flame low and take care not to burn them or else be ready for a bout of sneezing.

Then add the powdered mix into the oil and stir fry for a few seconds till it gets aromatic, taking care not to burn the mixture.

Keep the heat level low all this while...

Now add the chopped fenugreek leaves and stir fry, increasing the gas flame so the fenugreek leaves become soft and wilted. Not much cooking is required and the leaves need to be semi cooked when finished.

Add salt to taste and mix well.

Add in the cooked rice, mix well and adjust seasoning.

Add lemon juice or amchoor powder if required. Adding a bit of tamarind juice could be favorable for you too.

Mix well and serve hot.

Another variation will be to use any greens instead of fenugreek and add some crushed peanuts instead of sesame spice mix. You will have to adjust seasoning accordingly.

fried rice made healthy and low glycemic

In the above picture I used Agasti (Sesbania) leaves  along with a lot of chopped onions. The amount of chopped onions and chopped leaves is one cup while the cooked rice is 1/2 cup for one serving, 1 tbsp crushed peanuts are good enough.

The white rice is fortified well with proteins and leafy greens in these one pot meal recipes, all cooked together for a convenient quick meal. Having a salad or vegetable based raita would be great with it. Or just a tall glass of buttermilk if you want it really quick.

It is a very flavorful way to eat white rice. You can have a bowl of daal on the side too and make the fried rice a bit bland in that case. On it's own it is a hot dish if made with the suggested proportion of spices, so adjust the heat level to your liking and mood. I need my spices according to seasons and my moods.

sesame and fenugreek fried rice

For summers I would have a bowl of plain yogurt or a glass of plain buttermilk with it for sure.

Another way to make such a fried rice is using some curry leaves, chopped onions  and roasted peanuts with it.

This recipe works well for those who are not very fond of raw salads on the side. Cooking healthy greens along with the rice for one pot meals works so well if one includes some seeds or nuts in the mix.

Do you see how easy healthy cooking can be if you use your ingredients cleverly. Taste is not compromised and you get all the nutrition alright.

No compromises on everyday nutrition.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

beans for breakfast ... hummus, beans and homemade wheat bread ...

Having vegetables for breakfast is nothing new for an Indian breakfast . All the stuffed parathas of north India and so many south Indian breakfast menus have lots of vegetables in it .  I like to include my vegetables to any kind of desi or videshi breakfast and for me it becomes easier to make the meal more fiber packed and low fat , not missing on the nutrient value.

This one is another quick breakfast for someone who wants minimal cooking for breakfast . I used a whole wheat bread with added bran , it is a small bun sliced thinly to make the hummus more fun to eat. Hummus is also pre prepared and kept in an airtight container in fridge , making hummus for a week is a great idea if you love this smooth flavor packed spread on your bread.

Now only the green part of the breakfast needs to be done . String abut 15-20 beans per serving , halve them and microwave them with salt n pepper for two minutes
( per serving) serve hot as a side to this hummus and bread platter . Grated processed or other types of cheese is optional .

The bread in the picture looks like too much , but it is a small bun sliced thinly . I warmed it in the MW , you might like it lightly toasted .

If you don't bake bread at home you are not very sure of the ingredients going intot he bread ...i mean what percentage of all purpose flour has gone in . So it is better to use whole wheat or multigrain chapati or paratha cooked with minimal ghee . In that case , roll the chapati or paratha around beans , dip into the creamy hummus and have your fill .

Enjoy good health , eat home cooked food and make home cooking convenient for you.....It's not at all difficult.

broccoli for breakfast ... in a quesadilla style chapati..

 Green breakfasts are always great breakfasts for me. I prefer savory breakfasts with a hint of heat to start my day while the husband likes his daliya porridge or pancakes . What to do when we have different choices of food . Breakfast seems to be the best time for me to exercise freedom of choice and off course i have to work for it as i am the one who stays at home and can have breakfast at leisure.  

The breakfast is enjoyed at leisure but made quickly in a no fuss manner . This one i dug out from my lost  read forgotten) pictures for someone who wants quick breakfasts on a diet . If you keep some extra chapatis in the fridge , this breakfast is a breeze , however complicated it is looking. It takes just 10 minutes from scratch .

I used baby broccoli here from my garden , way back in February , but stringed green beans work great too . 

The ingredients and instructions here are for one serving , multiplication should not be a problem for such a colorful breakfast ...
Make a thick paste of 2 tbsp besan (chick pea flour) with a pinch each of ajwain seeds , red chilly powder , turmeric powder salt and pepper. Spread this paste evenly on one side of a leftover chapati (or a rolled out uncooked chapati) and flip the chapati carefully to a hot greased griddle , besan smeared side down . let it cook till it comes out of the griddle easily and cook the other side too , using minimal ghee for greasing .

When you take off the cooked chapati off the griddle ( it is already greased ), throw in the baby broccoli in the griddle and sprinkle salt n pepper to it , i added some chopped garlic too as i like garlic in winters more . In summers garlic can be given a miss. Toss the griddle and cover for a minute for the broccoli to be cooked or half cooked as i like....this time the broccoli included the young leaves too so i cooked it a bit longer ... A sliced tomato is a nice addition if you wish ...

Pour the cooked broccoli over the besan smeared chapati , fold it in half moon and have it hot...or warm ...

 The pictures are taken in a hurry and were a forgotten lot till i was reminded of posting a quick idea for a breakfast with high fiber and high nutrient value both .
I hope you liked it and will be trying it when in hurry but not wanting to miss the daily quota of vegetables .

The zuchhini or broccoli omelette serves the purpose too....very well , if yo want eggs too...


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

gajar harey pyaz ka paratha | spring onions and carrots flat bread

A hearty paratha breakfast is a north Indians' idea of contentment. Absolute contentment to start a day with. And if this contentment comes in pretty colors the day starts with a kicking energy. This carrot and spring onion paratha or gajar harey pyaz ka paratha is one of those seasonal parathas of winter that has been our favourite for ever.

gajar harey pyaz ka paratha

A tall mug of buttermilk to guzzle down makes a punjabi a very happy soul. Some pickle and fresh yogurt, may be fresh white butter are usual suspects seen with such parathas but one always feels content with just parathas too.

Here I have served this carrot spring onion paratha with kachri ki chutney that suits really well with the flavours. The winter carrots are really sweet so the paratha has a mild sweetness, a sour accompaniment like this kachri ki chutney or lime pickle makes a perfect combination. The fresh yogurt or buttermilk is always a good idea.

ingredients ...
(for 4-5 large parathas)
grated carrots 1 cup
minced ginger 1 tbsp or lesser
minced green chilies 1 tsp or to taste
finely chopped greens of spring onion 1 cup
ajwain seeds 1 tsp
salt to taste
whole wheat flour 1/3 cup
besan (chick pea flour) 1/3 cup
wheat bran 2 tbsp
ghee 2 tsp per paratha


I generally use my chopper for grating carrots for such purpose and usually I process the green chilies and ginger along with the carrots too. Makes the process quick. The chopped greens of spring onions should also be chopped really fine as it helps binding the paratha dough well.

Mix every thing together except the ghee and make a stiff dough using minimal water. It will be better to mix everything together dry first, leave it for a while so the moisture of the vegetables gets into the flours, then sprinkle water to make a dough.

Now divide the dough into 4 or 5 balls, whatever size of parathas you can handle while rolling and flipping them over the griddle. Just keep in mind that these will be thick parathas as the chopped vegetable do not allow thin rolling up.

Roll each paratha, you may need liberal dusting of wheat flour or you can use some oil to make it easy.The edges will not be smooth and do not bother about that. If you get smooth edges it means that the amount of vegetables you used were less that recommend.

For me it's always more and more veggies per serving, even for parathas.

Cook the parathas on iron griddle brushing a tsp of ghee each side. Look for the small brown spots and they are ready. Serve hot with your favorite achaar or kachri ki chutney or amla chutney.

gajar harey pyaz ka paratha

This lime and chilly pickle, the nimboo mirchi ka achaar is a great option too.

One paratha will be quite filling for an adult. I still suggest you make extra parathas when making these as you always feel like having a second helping with such parathas.

They make very good tea time snacks, the Indian milky sweetened ginger tea, boiled to perfection and a quarter of this paratha makes a nice combination.

For breakfast you would thank me if you take that mug of buttermilk with this healthy paratha. A nice energetic start to your day ...


Sunday, June 5, 2011

broccoli lentil soup for dinner ...

Two of my favorite ingredients come into a soup or one pot meal very frequently . And they make a nice color combination together . I don't care if these two ingredients take over the health food blog and make me look like a monotonous broccoli head . I believe broccoli heads are intelligent , and beautiful too.

It might sound strange but i do not crave much for chilled food and never once for chilled gazpacho . My dinner soups are warm in summers and very hot in winters . No bread in summers most of the times with such soups ... I am content with the textural experience of this soup by itself.

(2 servings)
1 tbsp yellow mung daal
1 tbsp red lentil (masoor daal)
3 cups of broccoli florets (250 gm)
1 cup of cubed tomatoes
1/2 cup of celery stalk and leaves chopped finely
1/2 cup of onion chopped finely
1 clove of garlic chopped finely ( more for winters)
cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
ghee 2 tsp

procedure ...

Wash the lentils together and put them in a pressure cooker pan with the chopped onions , celery , tomatoes , salt and turmeric powder . I add the chopped broccoli stems too while boiling the daal. Pour 2 cups of water into the pan and pressure cook for 3-4 minutes after the first whistle blows.

Heat ghee in a separate pan and throw in the cumin seeds . Add the chopped garlic as soon as the cumin splutters . Let the garlic get browned and then add the red chilly powder and the broccoli florets . Add salt to taste and toss everything to get coated and a bit wilted . The broccoli has to be crunchy and not cooked. Toss for 2-3 minutes and take off the heat.

Add this quick stir fried broccoli in the cooked daal mixture as soon as the pressure releases from the pressure cooker . Add water to adjust consistency and give a quick boil. Mix well and serve hot.

This soup keeps well in the fridge for a day or two and can be reheated in the MW and it's a yummy treat again.

I usually have either pearl barley or red rice boiled in the fridge sometimes and add a tbsp of any of these grains to the soup to make it more enhanced texture wise .

I am eating a lot of pearl barley in my salads these days and some of those salads are on their way to these pages too. Stay tuned.

And enjoy your summers with lukewarm soups , or cold soups if you like ...