Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flax seeds and coconut granola | gluten free, no bake granola recipe


Flax seeds and coconut granola bars, not baked, cooked in a pan. Yes, you read it right. You would find loads of granola bar recipes on the internet as everyone is baking them. They are such a convenience to have in a jar or in a cute box if you please :-)

Just a bar in the morning can take care of your breakfast with one fruit and a glass of milk (full fat please). I keep making my granola bars with seasonal fruits and oats or sometimes grain free too. While most of them are baked, this one is a pan cooked granola which many of you can make easily. I have been getting requests for posting more such recipes that can be made even if you don't own an oven.

Fair enough. Complicated recipes should not be a reason to not to be able to eat healthy.

Here I am with the easiest granola cooked in a heavy pan (Indian kadai). Flax seeds and coconut heavy, just a little oats so it becomes easy for a beginner to hold it together. I make this one grain free as well.

You need to do some preparation if you do not get Flax seeds meal and Coconut flour or flakes in your part of the world. I had to do a prior arrangement too. Actually in the day time I powdered the flax seeds, chopped and powdered the dry coconut so at night when I am cooking on the gas stove, things are quicker in the heat. It is 45-46 C in Delhi right now and you are better off if you are quick with your hands when the stove is on.

The oats needs to be toasted lightly in a pan too. On medium low flame just for a period of 5 minutes, or till it becomes fragrant. This step can be done while another pan cooks the syrup. Read on....

ingredients...
flax seeds meal 500 gm ( I used whole flax seeds, ground them to a coarse powder)
coconut meal 300 gm (whole dry Kopra, sliced and then ground to a coarse powder)
oats 100 gm (toasted lightly n a pan for a couple of minutes)
Jaggery 500 gm
water 1 cup
2 plates and ghee for greasing them


procedure...

Keep ready all the powders as indicated in the ingredients list. It will be very convenient if you get flax seeds meal and coconut flour in your part of the world. Toasting the oats can be done along with the cooking of jaggery syrup on the side burner. I used Quaker oats, the porridge variety.

Pour water and tip in the jaggery in a wide pan (of about 3 L capacity so you can stir the mixture easily) and put this on heat so the jaggery melts and starts bubbling.

This syrup needs to cook till it gets frothy and starts rising up the pan. You need a big wide pan I told you.

As soon as you see the jaggery syrup getting frothy and rising up the pan, tip in the coconut meal first. Mix it till the syrup looks like a slurry and bubbles gently once again. This step ensures the dry coconut meal gets drunk on some liquid to become more flavorful.

Take the pan off the stove and hold it well so you can mix well when other ingredients are added.

As suggested in the last step, as soon as the slurry bubbles like lava just once, tip in the flax seeds meal and mix thoroughly. The mixture becomes almost crumbly and hard to mix, use some muscle to mix well so everything gets homogenised.

Lastly add the toasted oats and mix once again.

Grease 2 plates with ghee, divide the cooked mixture into two and dump each half one each of the plates. Smoothen the lump on the plate and flatten with the help of greased knife. Or a grease base of a flat bottom bowl (katori).


Wait for about 15 minutes to cool and score into bars of required size. Grease the knife a few times between scoring the lines...

After about three hours it should get hard enough to cut once more with increased pressure and slide the knife gently under the bars so they lift up. Separate all the bars neatly. I kept the plates covered overnight as I cooked it late in the night. Next morning it was easy to handle them.

The texture will be chewy and may be crumbly when you cut, but the bars get set after a while.



Wrap in butter paper if taking for travelling or keep in an airtight container as it is. It is a great traveling food and I make either these or these sesame bars when traveling. Wrapped in butter paper they are easy to carry in your day bag.

Did I say it can be a nice school snack for your kids. Even the sesame bars. And your office munchies in the mid morning time of crisis....


Keeps well for a fortnight. Even longer.

As you can see, the butter paper is speckled with fat. It's all healthy fat from Flax seeds and coconut. Very filling and very satiating. Tasty as hell. Especially if you like jaggery. Otherwise use honey and bake the mixture to get bars.

You can always use some dried fruits or nuts in this granola as well, but i prefer them more for snacking on their own and as an addition to my salads. This granola bar is different from any such granola bar on the block...

Let me know when you make them. I am sure this will be your new favorite granola on the go....

Cheers.



Friday, May 25, 2012

Mango poha ; mangoes and rice flakes in a summer salad...




I am a stickler for quick fix meals. Not the maggy types. It has to be wholesome whole grains for me, and thinking of a whole grain based quick meal can be a tough job.

This one is a cooling type, just apt for the heat wave we are suffering right now. No one is in the mood for cooking but we all want tasty filling meals.  Isn't it?

So no cooking and whole grain means some Poha (flattened rice flakes) for me most of the times. I love this desi cereal for it's fluffy texture when prepared and a tendency to absorb varied flavors really well.

Brown poha is always preferable. To make it clear, all poha is made from unpolished parboiled brown rice but some of the varieties which look absolutely white are actually bleached after the flattening process. The brown looking ones are not processed further after the beating procedure. All organic brands sell unprocessed brown poha, you can always rely on organic brands when you are not sure of the source of your poha or it looks abnormally white to you.

Coming to the recipe, I said this is a meal that does not need cooking. Just chop a few things , mix like a salad and a yummy summer lunch is ready. 

Okay, it could be your breakfast but it can be any chosen meal for it's convenience. For the two of us it was a very late Sunday lunch last to last weekend. Most of our weekends end up being a two meals days because a leisurely brunch with newspapers and Darjeeling tea till late in the morning cannot be compromised. And then a late lunch almost in the evening does not leave any scope for a dinner. So some fruit servings or cold smoothies might suffice late in the night.

This poha was decided as a bag of mangoes we bought was a bit unripe and one of them needed to be used for a salsa like recipe as I had cut it thinking it was fully ripe.

It has been repeated three times since then.

And yes, it is a meal that can be tossed up within 10 minutes even if you do your chopping really slow.
ingredients...
(2 meal servings)

2 cups of poha (about 120 gm)
3/4 cup of chopped red onions
one large ripe mango (about 400 gm, not too ripe and should be a little sour)
chopped coriander greens (1/2 cup)
Roasted split peanuts 1/2 cup
red chilly powder a pinch
salt n pepper to taste
dash of lemon juice if the red onions are too hot and the mangoes are sweet 
a tsp of sugar if the mangoes are too sour, all we need is a balance of sweet and sour , savory and a little heat from red chillies.


procedure...

Wash the poha using filtered water keeping it in a colander and pouring water from the top.

Let it rest till you chop the onions etc. Fluff up the soaking poha with a fork once in between.

hop the onions first and transfer them in a mixing bowl. Then Chop the coriander greens and the mango. To make nice cubes of mango you can peel off the skin first and then mark a grid like pattern with knife on either sides of the stone and then slice them off with one stroke. This can be done directly over the mixing bowl.

Now add the other ingredients, including the soaked poha (4-5 minute soaking time is enough). Mix everything up and taste a little spoonful. Adjust the flavors by adding either lemon juice or sugar or both of them.

Served at room temperature it is the best Sunday meal we have been enjoying. It has to be a quick and tasty meal for us on weekends as those are the only days we are together at home so being busy in the kitchen is avoided as far as possible.

The mangoes are mostly stored in the fridge so they will be chilled so the Mango poha will be a bit on the colder side. It tastes great this way. It can even be chilled if you wish, but for us it is a quick meal so we never tried chilling it. If you want it colder and quick too, you can always use chilled water to rinse the poha and then keep the colander in the fridge till you chop the onions and mangoes etc.

Makes sense :-)

After all it is a summer meal. Chilled fruity meals will be a nice way to brighten up dull hot days...


The most remarkable flavor in this fruity poha is the flavor of the coriander greens. I love mint with mangoes and would love to add loads of it, but after having tasted this, I think I would save mint for sweeter mango dishes and coriander greens for savory types. A very very refreshing citrusy earthy flavor is imparted by the greens of coriander.

Some of you might like a sprinkle a bit of chaat masala over it. Do that if you feel like.

Did you know poha is a pre and probiotic cereal ? 

It is made after parboiling the rice and partially ferments during the process of flattening. And if prepared this way it is a great detox meal. Also cooling for the Indian summers.

Isn't it an enticing healthy meal in more ways than one?

Enjoy the mango season in all it's glory...


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Raw papaya and Carrots raita...a versatile yogurt dip...




 Some unassuming insipid looking vegetables can do wonders on your dining table. For me no vegetable is insipid as they all behave well when you like them. It is actually a two way relationship.

You take your time and cook them with interest, and cook them to the right degree of mushiness or crispness. The cooked texture of the vegetable is always a crucial factor in how the finished dish is going to taste.

Also, how the vegetable is cut or grated. With me, it's almost an OCD about how a vegetable should be cut or grated. Yes a fine grated and a coarse grated vegetable would taste differently in a raita like this.

See this post and you would know.

Off course seasonings and vegetable combinations make a difference to the final taste as well. Like this Raw papaya, English Carrots and red onions make a great combination together. With a generous sprinkling of chopped green coriander leaves.


ingredients...
(2-3 large servings)

coarse grated English carrots (summer carrots) 1 cup
coarse grated raw papaya 1 cup
finely diced red onions 1/2 cup
finely chopped green coriander leaves 1/2 cup
cumin seeds 2 tsp
fine chopped green chillies 2 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
sesame oil or any preferred oil 2 tsp
thick fresh yogurt 1.5 cup or a little more if you wish

procedure....

Heat the oil in a pan and tip in the cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle and then tip in the chopped green chillies. take care not to inhale directly over the pan as it might cause a bout of sneezing when chillies are being fried.

As the green chillies get fried add in the chopped red onions and fry them with a little salt sprinkled over it. Keep stirring till the onions get translucent.

Add the grated raw papaya and carrots, salt to taste and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Just till the grated vegetables start wilting and not really mushy cooked.

Add the pepper powder and green coriander , mix well and take off heat.

Let this cooked mixture cool down to room temperature...


Now add the yogurt and whisk well to mix everything together. Adjust seasoning and serve at room temperature. Some people like such raitas chilled so chill it before serving if you are one of them.




This is a nice side dish which will be appreciated for it's color as well as for the taste.

I have even tried it with a little cooked rice added and it becomes a nice curd rice meal for me. A great detox meal with or without rice and a tasty companion to an Indian meal.

Well, you can use this thick creamy raita as a bread spread as well. It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and even on room temperature for a couple of hours in Indian summers. In winters it can stay well on room temperature for a day.

Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A salad with Sweet Lime, Cucumber and pistachios...



It might be surprising for many, but Sweet Lime is one of my favorite fruits. No one likes it as it is much fibrous and needs to be peeled with difficulty. And all the hard work results in an insipid sweetness.

The peeling made easier, I actually like the mild sweetness and a milder citrus aroma of this fruit. Best when the fruit is fresh and juicy. I can have it a little less juicy too. Proves that I really like this fruit.

Sometimes I just cut and eat as is, some other times I toss it up in a salad. It blends well with most vegetables and fruits hence a salad with meal or a salad for meal can be made using it.


And if you are thinking of a salad without a dressing, this fruit makes it easier. The juices ooze from the segments and blend with the other ingredients to coat every bit of the salad. So a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper can become awesome with it.

ingredients...

Sweet lime (Mosambi) one large sized
cucumber one large sized
carrot one medium sized
coriander greens a few springs with stems
Roasted salted Pistachios a handful chopped
salt and pepper to taste


procedure...

Slice the Sweet lime and then quarter the slices. Remove the skins and seeds.

Peel the cucumber and cut lengthwise twice , making four long pieces. Now chop them holding together so quarter slices are formed.

Chop the carrot in tiny bits as this is the toughest ingredient and larger pieces may be more than a mouthful. We want bits of everything in one spoonful. Carrots may be grated as well.

Scissor cut the Coriander greens and mix everything together. Sprinkle salt and pepper and the chopped pistachios and toss well.


It is ready to eat immediately.

I have had the leftovers next day many times and it tastes as good, though the crisp texture of the cucumber and carrots is missing. But the sweet lime slices drain their juices and envelop the other ingredients well, so the taste is good. Just that it looks wilted.


Isn't it an easy salad for you too. It can make a lunch if the nuts are a little more. You can always add assorted nuts to suit your taste.

Another Sweet Lime salad with pistachios and baby Spinach is a great hit. Loved by many of my readers and family. You can always make your own combinations with sweet lime. A fruit salad with this is here...

It blends well with most things as I said. If you do not like Sweet Limes, there are always Oranges, Mandarins, Tangerines and Grape fruits...more colorful options...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dragon fruit, Coconut and Lime : A dessert with all the refreshing flavors..



Yes, don't you love all these flavors in a dessert? Imagine when all these come together in a custard dessert.

I have been experimenting with dragon fruit desserts as this fruit adds to the drama in a serving bowl. Even if the dessert is simple, it looks like a killer recipe. A conversation piece at the end of a meal.

I wanted to make a lime (Indian lemons) custard with coconut milk and this trial was successful. A simple egg custard was cooked and mixed with coconut milk powder for a creamy refreshing custard. For garnish I used a slice of my homemade lemon marmalade. Any orange marmalade or Kumquat marmalade will be great with it too. Or just a thin sliver of a fresh slice of lime.

When I finished filling the glasses with this yummy dessert and licked the lemony custard off the pan, it pleased me so much I decided to go outdoors for clicking a few pictures for the blog. The Bael tree in the backyard was shedding leaves and I found my nook to place these glasses.




ingredients...
(2 servings)

a cup of cubed dragon fruit
a cup of coconut cream or 50 gm coconut milk powder
one egg yolk
1 tbsp sugar (you can add more if you find it too bland, we like our desserts lightly sweetened)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
1 tbsp water
a thin slice of fresh lime or a sliver of marmalade for garnish

procedure...

Take a round steel bowl (or any non reactive metal) and tip in the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, water and the egg yolk. Whisk to make a smooth slurry.

If using coconut milk powder, add 50 ml of warm water to the powder and mix well. Keep aside.

Now heat a cup of water in a small pan and bring the water to boiling point, this is your double boiler.

Place the steel bowl over the rim and start whisking the egg yolk mixture. It will start coating the whisk wires or a spoon when cooked.

Take off the double boiler and mix with the coconut cream.



Now place the cubes of Dragon fruit in serving bowls or glasses and pour the custard over them. Top it with a slice of lemon or a thin sliver of marmalade .

Reserve a few cubes of dragon fruit to place them on top of the dessert.

Chill before serving. Keep the glasses covered with foil when chilling in the refrigerator.

I am planning to make this custard with oranges too. How cool a dessert would look if a juicy slice of fresh orange will be on top. I would like to caramelise the orange slice may be.



Lemon was great too.

I make my fruit preserves and marmalade only to use them in my cakes, muffins or for such desserts. We never have them slathered on bread or toast.

Do you use your preserves for desserts?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Foodies exchange program at healthfood desivideshi...


Yes, it is a strange sight on my blog as I have seldom participated in blog events and celebrations. I often tell my friends that I am a socially reluctant species. Most people do not believe as I can talk for hours on end with them. The thing is, I am very reclusive and enjoy my own space normally, till I meet someone who I can see matching my vibes. And then there are no reservations :-)

Remember reading somewhere sometime back that it is a typical Virgo behavior. May be that is the reason you don't see me socialising much in the blogosphere.

The sleepy blogger in me got a sweet surprise when a blog friend Charis sent me a mail asking if I would like to be a part of this Foodies' exchange program. Sweet just because Charis is just so who likes baking wonderful cupcakes. Surprise because I thought no one would ask me for such a thing as I have dodged many a times before.

So the sweet girl that Charis is, persuaded me to be a part of it, and as I see other bloggers posting Foodies exchange pictures and details, I am pleasantly surprised at the development of new friendships within the blogging community. Good work Charis, I found a new friend in Renuka Nadkarni.

And see what all she sent me in a packet. How a paper bag can carry love :-)

The love for food I mean :-)


All of 18 blogger signed up for this exchange of surprise foodie tidbits and some love wrapped around. Click to their links and see how they have enjoyed being on it...

I copied this list from Charis's blog blatantly....

Deeps of Naughty Curry
Madhuri of Cook Curry Nook
Sarita of The Clean Toothpick
Pratiksha of Honeyed Pandemonium
Jeetendra of Moody Foodie
Siri of Cooking with Siri
Apeksha of Veggie Wiz
Poorna of Presented by P
Ameya of Kitty in the Kitchen
Sid of Chef at Large
Ruchira of The Great Cookaroo
Geetha of Fragrant Kitchen
Renuka of Pinch of Salt
Marsha of The Harried Cook
Sangeeta of Health Food Desi Videshi
Rekha of My Tasty Curry
Nikhil of Nonchalant Gourmand

 Renuka of Pinch of Salt sent me a packet quite early last month.

The stash contained a pretty napkin...


A cute little jar of Buckwheat groats...


A packet of palm candy. It is called Taal misri in Hindi and I use it in my Fennel tea mostly. As if she knew I use it. The packet will be opened once I finish my last pack of a kilo of palm candy.


And there was this packet of dry dates...the natural sweetener in many of my cakes and crackers...


Another packet had these Stone flowers, Called Dagad phool in Hindi . It is a lichen in fact, and is used in some South Indian spice mixes and some biryani recipes.


A pack of Puttu flour. This is a powder of red rice, used to make steamed rice cakes with coconut and jaggery. I am waiting to try the recipe soon.


Apart from these, there were three types of chikki (brittle). A pack of four square flax seeds chikki, a pack of a peanut chikki and a pack of roasted gram chikki shaped like balls.

Every single thing is going to be used in a healthy way. The way I have made a Buckwheat soup and a savory pancake with Zucchini.

These crackers would use the dry dates and of course the Palm candy would go for my summer special Fennel tea. And may be I'll make a spice powder called Goda masala using the Dagadphool. The Puttu cake is on my list too if I don't use this powder for making my savory idlies.

Thanks a lot Charis for initiating this and Renuka for choosing such thoughtful ingredients for me. She knew I use mostly organic products so most of these were organic too.

These ingredient would sure make me post some new recipes using them.

Monday, May 14, 2012

cheese omelet with refreshing flavors...Mushrooms, Celery and rosemary...



Omelets are easy breakfasts for many. They cook quickly, fill you up in the morning so you don't feel crabby during the day, and they are so easy to store and handle.

Here is one way to make a hearty omelet with cheese and vegetables. Yes vegetables, the ones you have to chop in the morning or keep ready for yourself. One good serving of vegetables in the morning is a good idea if it gets as tasty as this. And if you are good at chopping a few odd things while the pan is heating, this one would be easy for you.

Otherwise too, it's a 10 minute breakfast recipe anyways.

ingredients...
(2 servings)
4 eggs
1 cup of chopped mushrooms
1 cup packed, finely chopped celery with all the greens
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
a pinch of dried rosemary crushed
1/2 tsp finely chopped or minced garlic
pinch of red chilly powder
2 tbsp grated cheese or as much you like
salt n pepper to taste
4 tsp butter or ghee

procedure...

Break the eggs and mix everything except the butter or ghee and the cheese.

Heat a pan and brush with 2 tsp ghee or butter. Just spread the butter any which way you find easy.

Pour half of the egg mixture into the pan and sprinkle the cheese over the spread out egg mixture.

Cover the pan and cook the omelet for a couple of minutes on medium heat.

Open the lid and flip the omelet, cover again and cook for a minute more. Fold and slide into the serving plate.



Serve hot with warmed or toasted bread. My bread here is a flax seeds and 100% whole wheat bread, warmed in the microwave. Somehow we don't like toasted bread much. Warm and soft bread is better for us.

I like this omelet as it is many a times. Followed by a fruit if I feel like.

The mushrooms pair well with cheese and the celery makes it really refreshing with  a hint of Rosemary in it. You can omit Rosemary if you find it too strong and add any other herb instead. Or just the celery and garlic.

Chopped coriander greens make a great pairing with cheese and mushrooms too. Use the coriander greens with all the stems if you do.

The celery I used is from my garden and somehow it never grows in thick fleshy stems as we get in the markets. But the thin stalks are absolutely flavor packed and aromatic.



What kind of cheese omelet is your favorite?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pumpkin mousse : one of those healthy desserts that bring smiles on the table..


 And make everyone think you have worked hard for the meal. You sure have worked, but not weighing in grams and measuring in tablespoons and then whipping till the upside down bowl makes your egg whites defy gravity.

Nothing of that sort. Just grating, whipping lightly and then mixing in whatever proportion you like. Well, not measuring to grams I mean. And you do all this while your main course is cooking in a few pans over the gas stove.

You just need one burner free for five minutes total if you are making some four servings. Ten minutes for about a dozen servings. Some whipping and mixing takes another ten minutes or so and a lovely dessert is ready.


I had first seen this Pumpkin mousse in a magazine some eight years ago. I remember the time so accurately because I was in a place where glossy magazines were bought during travels only, getting them delivered at home was difficult. And cooking from these glossy magazines was fun.

 It was photographed in a Chgampagne flute and the picture made me try the recipe almost immediately.

 I used to make a traditional Pumpkin halwa till then, I still do that halwa but this mousse has become a quicker and tastier way to enjoy a pumpkin dessert.


There is a reason why I serve this dessert in stemmed glasses always, now you know that. Those slim Champagne flutes would be difficult if you consider practical convenience of digging your spoon in the dessert. The pictures of the glossy magazines :-) Practicality is considered in home made food only....

One more practical tip that was missing from the recipe in that glossy magazine. Choosing the right pumpkin for this dessert. There are so many varieties of a pumpkin and each one of them has a different flavor. We get baby pumpkins that taste almost like Zucchinis and yellow fleshed, green skinned pumpkins that are more rich in texture and flavors. The most flavorful ones are the tough skinned, bright orange yellow flesh ones. The skin has a dull peachy yellow color and the pumpkin is quite hard to dig in with a knife. These are medium sized, ripe pumpkins. And I am talking about the pumpkins available in India.

Once you have a slice of pumpkin and some fresh cream, you are about to go for this dessert. Feel free to add some whipped egg whites if you want a fluffy mousse texture.One large egg white will be enough for this recipe.
ingredients...
(4-6 servings)

a slice of pumpkin weighing 250 gm
fresh cream or fresh homemade malai 2 cups (heavy whipping cream will be better, basically a cream that you can whip till soft peaks)
sugar 3-4 tbsp or to taste ( we normally like lightly sweetened desserts)
ghee 1 tsp
Chopped pistachios for garnishing
procedure....

Peel the hard skin of the pumpkin and grate it.

Grease a thick base kadai/pan with the ghee and tip in the grated pumpkin and the sugar together.

Now place the pan on the burner and start stirring it. The mixture would get sweaty first, then it would start wilting and getting cooked.

See how it is still loose consistency when half cooked and when it is cooked perfectly for the mousse.


It takes about 5-6 minutes for this quantity to get coked and dehydrated too. The cooking time depends on the moisture content of the pumpkin and can be a bit more than specified here.

The sign of the mixture getting cooked is, a slight glaze that appears over the grated cooked pumpkin strands. Although they all look clumped together. They would get separated in the whipped cream mixture.

Keep this cooked pumpkin and sugar mix aside to cool down.

Whip the fresh cream till soft peaks stage. Keep in the fridge till required.

At the the time of assembling, mix the cooked pumpkin and the whipped cream lightly using a wire whisk till all the grated pumpkin strands get separated and look like an orange yellow mosaic pattern.

Pour into serving bowls or stemmed bowls/glasses and chill again before serving.

Garnish with chopped pistachios.


Serve and let your guests take time to relish it. Best enjoyed in slow motion.

Spreading smiles was never easier :-)

This dessert gives a deep satiety that comes with the dairy fat. I would also emphasise on keeping the sweetness low as much you can because the taste of the pumpkin is really really good with whipped cream. You would have to taste to believe it. Extra sweetness would mask the flavor of the pumpkin and so would any flavoring if you decide to experiment.

I know many of you would be tempted to add either cardamom or pumpkin pie spice to it. Try the recipe to the T first time and then decide whether you need some additional flavors.

Pumpkin cooked this way and the cream together would be magically satiating I tell you.




Whip this mean dessert, dig your spoon and you would know how.....

If you are on a hypo-caloric diet for weight loss, you can always adjust your main course to have this dessert. This is all good fats with real cream and all the goodness of pumpkin. Sugar is minimal and you wouldn't regret a dessert like this.

Cholesterol is not related to real, quality fats. It is related to carb loading repeatedly, that keeps your insulin active all he time...healthy fats are not the culprits..

Be sure, it IS a healthy dessert.

Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mango salsa salad with Phalsa and Sunflower seeds....


So this is a salsa with Phalsa. Phalsa or Falsa is a tiny berry that packs a punch for all the berries of the western world. I think this is an answer to the black berries, the Blueberries and all those exotic looking dark colored berries I look at so enticingly on my computer screen.

Yes, I rarely buy any frozen or dried Blueberry as they are obscenely costly.

Our local Falsa are a lot better. The berry is named as Grewia asiatica in Latin and I do not know any vernacular name for it. It has a taste similar to Black currants and that can be substituted in this salad too. Though it would lack the crunch the seed of Falsa provides.

Another star is Mango. Now you must know this salad is going to cause some serious rift in the family if served in a single bowl, however big. :-)

I know by experience :-)



ingredients...
(2 servings, or just one when having it as a meal)

one large ripe mango cut in neat cubes (about 1.5 cup
finely diced red onions 1/2 cup or to taste
Falsa/Phalsa berries1/2 cup (or black currants 1/4 cup if using dry)
sunflower seeds 2 tbsp (you can use broken cashew nuts instead)
pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp or as desired (can be skipped)
mint leaves a handful as per taste
kala namak (grey salt) a generous pinch
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp
white vinegar 1 tsp
a generous pinch

procedure...

Toast the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds together. Toast the broken cashew nuts if using that.

Soak the chopped red onions in vinegar and salt for 5 minutes or some more.

Mix everything in a large bowl and let it rest for five minutes before digging in.


The mango pieces ooze out the juices and so do the Falsa berries. This juicy exude then mixes with the onion which has already been almost pickled in the vinegar.

Can you imagine what kala namak would do to it?

And the red chilly powder that gives a nice kick to it.

The crunch is from the Falsa seeds as well as the seeds. It's yummy.

I told you, this salad is a serious threat to family harmony if served in a single bowl like I did.


Serve in individual bowls.

Do not miss this last piece of advice.

Enjoy mangoes.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pink Salmon scrambled with sun dried tomatoes and a hot tomato sauce..


I rarely buy tinned products but some oily fish packed in tin or foil packaging is always welcome. Foil packaged tuna, Salmon or Sardines would be so much better than the tins I usually get on the shelves. I am still to locate a store where foil packed fish is available.

Normally we try and find fresh or frozen fish and make curries or fries with them as that is the way we both learnt eating fish. Yes, both of us started eating fish together and those Bengali style curries and Punjabi style fries, grills or tikkas were the first things to be tried. Later the tinned varieties of some imported fish were tried and incorporated in our fish repertoire. It was good that we didn't try the tinned versions first as the fishy smell when you open the can isn't something I like till date. And that is the reason I like to cook the tinned fish most of the times.

Just a flash cooking with some interesting seasonings works wonders to the packaged Salmon or tuna, or even Sardines. I have a lot of pictures of how I cook these tinned fish, somehow when I come to post something, the more colorful veggie dishes find their way first to the blog. Proves that I am a vegetarian first,  love all my vegetables in salads or stir fries or curries. Souped up too.

So this tin was a John West Pink Salmon. Packed without salt. So it was just a few fillet with a watery fluid and a few oily droplets that smelled a bit unpleasant. As was expected.

And I was prepared.


My sun dried Cherie tomatoes (home grown and dried) were already eager to give the pink salmon company. Along with a spicy hot relish I made to go with Hainanese Chicken and rice some time back.

I tell you that hot relish is being made every now and then in my kitchen.

ingredients...
(serves 2-4 depending on what meal it goes with, cooking time 5 minutes)

John West Pink Salmon 210 gm pack
sun dried Cherie tomatoes or any sun dried tomatoes 2/3 cup
finely chopped garlic 1 tsp
(If the sun dried tomatoes are packed in Olive oil, skip the oil in the ingredient list here)
hot tomato relish/dipping sauce* (recipe below) 2 tbsp
sesame oil (or olive oil) 2 tsp

hot tomato relish recipe..
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp tabasco sauce
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 inch piece of ginger chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 whole red chilly broken
1 tsp white vinegar

Everything blended together in a processor to make a smooth sauce.



procedure...

Heat the oil in a pan and tip in the chopped garlic and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Add the sun dried Cherie tomatoes and fry them till they slightly change color. Not more than a minute.

If using oil packed sun dried tomatoes, put the oil, tomatoes and chopped garlic all at once in the pan and fry till they start sizzling.

Add the hot tomato sauce and then tip in the fish directly from the tin.

Lightly flake the fish in the pan while cooking the mix. The fish is packed in a watery fluid and that helps the tomato sauce to get diluted and then soaked back into the fish.

The mixture has to be cooked for just a couple of minutes. May be a couple more if you want this dish to be completely dry.

Serve hot or at room temperature. It makes a nice sandwich filling when dried a bit into the pan.

This time we had it with chapatis for dinner and the leftovers with plain boiled rice the next day for lunch.

It goes very well with an Indian meal.


Many of us keep some tinned fish for quick meals when pressed for time or when it has been a long time without having some nice fish steak and you are craving for some fish.

This lovely bowl did just that for us.

Any flaked fish can be cooked like this as it's a nice way to serve kids or people who have just started eating fish and can't handle the fine bones. If making this dish using a fresh fish, steam or boil or poach the fish steaks first and then remove the bones when it cools down. Then proceed with this recipe and your flavorful fish scramble is ready to serve.

Simple recipes that taste great are the ones that become everyday family recipes. This one is just that kind.

Try and see yourself...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A big vegetarian meal : a kakdi kachumber recipe and a few more things...



Summers demand light food and nature has gifted us with many cooling type of vegetables and fruits for the summer season. Seasonal bounties are always to be included not just because they are fresh and locally grown but they are apt for the body too. All the summer squashes of Indian subcontinent are great for the Indian summers. I cook with them almost daily for one of the meals and they keep me cool as a cucumber.

Aah cucumber. That's what I have today. Now that the Israeli cucumbers are here in the markets as well, I rarely bother with them as our own desi cucumbers are aplenty and cheap. This variety I used in the salad is called Armenian cucumber in English although I had an impression that this one is more desi types. The ones that are available more towards the small towns and villages. More visibly on the streets as you would find many street carts selling them to be had on the go as Indian summers can be really harsh for those who travel on foot on the roads. Recently we visited Lucknow to attend a wedding but decided walk around the city to visit some historical places. We hired Rickshaws most of the times to find our way through the narrow lanes and used to get these wiry long cucumbers called kakdi on the go. The same Armenian cucumbers.They definitely keep you hydrated and cool.

We find these Kakdis or Armenian cucmbers in Delhi as well. On the carts as well as on the supermarket shelves. But they are never as fresh as the small town kakdis blame it to transportation or whatever. Still I buy them and eat them as is, holding it from the stem. No pretense.

Sometimes a salad comes in the picture. Otherwise most salads use the regular cucumbers.


This salad is quite a desi specialty too. You would find such salads in Gujrat and Maharashtra states of India with subtle changes in flavors. Called Kakdicha kachumber.

In the northern states It will most likely include some chopped onions as well. Or may be some finely chopped English carrots. Such fine chopped and mixed up with the seasoning salads are always called Kachumber in the whole of India I think.

This one was only the kakdi and fresh coriander greens as I had a lot of Kakdi to be used. A crunchy salad with bits of peanuts is a delight to munch on. Makes a nice meal when you are not in a  mood to cook or the previous meal has been a heavy indulgence.

ingredients...

Kakdi chopped in small bits 2 cups
broken roasted peanuts 1/4 cup
chopped coriander greens 1/2 cup
salt n pepper to taste
red chilly powder a pinch
amchoor powder 2 pinches
sugar 1/4 tsp
lemon juice optional (if not using amchoor powder)
Chopped onions, grated carrots and other nuts can be added for variety

procedure...

Mix everything up and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. It get better with time and can be consumed in an hour or two.

Keeps well in the fridge as well but the peanuts soak water and loose their crunch. The salad is still tasty.


I served it with a small serving of a peas and cauliflowers tahiri made in the microwave and a filling serving of dahi vada .

Actually the dahi vada was the main meal that day, the salad was made for the green portion of the meal and the rice tahiri was for the husband. Such salads are a great way to balance some heavy side dishes in the meal. Dahi vada is not much heavy but does not include any greens , except for the garnish.


The Tahiri is a simple preparation. A quarter cup of rice (washed), a cup of cauliflower florets and half a cup of green peas (fresh or frozen) is mixed together. Half cup of water, one tsp of ghee, one tsp of whole cumin, a tsp of chopped ginger and salt and pepper to taste. Just that and cook it in the microwave as you would do for any plain rice. It is a tasty rice dish done within 15 minutes for a simple quick healthy meal.

The cauliflower florets in this case were frozen after sauteing them lightly in ghee. Raw cauliflower works well too. As do some other vegetables like beans, carrots or Broccoli.

This makes a loaded plate and still the food is healthy and balanced on calorie front. It is a rice meal and yet not carb heavy. I never count my calories, just having a rough idea of what ingredients are calories dense and what others can be used to bulk up a meal is a convenient way to plan the meals on a daily basis.

Are you still scared of having rice for a meal?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grilled eggplants: many ways with the aromatic favorite...



When you like a vegetables just too much, you want all the possibles ways to cook it. And that happens with eggplants for me. Actually not just eggplants, it's grilled or roasted eggplants. That burnt skin of eggplants is so hunger inducing that I start getting ideas while grilling it.

I grill my eggplants on stove top and that way it emanates the most lovely aroma of burnt eggplant skin. Being a moody foodie I mostly decide while grilling my eggplants what seasonings are going to be in my mash. Yes, most of the times it is a mash, sometimes I just slice it and douse it with some sauce and herbs so it's all fresh and delicate.

The first recipe here is a Japanese style grilled eggplants. Called Yaki nasu in japanese.

I saw this recipe here, it was so simple it just got embedded in my mind. Some days are just so fit for such a recipe that I can have it for a meal. Loved it so much for it's simplicity and a wholesome grilled eggplant flavor that is complemented so well by dark soy sauce. I had never imagined soy sauce could do such magic to grilled eggplants.


You don't even need many ingredients for it. You always have some ginger roots and soy sauce of dark or light variety is also a staple. I tried it with light soy sauce as well and liked it both ways. I have used chopped chives as a garnish and a subtle flavoring , that can be omitted or substituted with chopped garlic if you wish. The original recipe uses spring onions. I used fresh chives because i had a lot of it at that time.

I saw another recipe here that uses chopped spring onions. So you can use whatever greens you have for a subtle flavor. Greens always enhance a simple dish like this i think.

ingredients...
(2 large servings)

one large eggplant or two medium ones (approximately 400 gm)
dark soy sauce 1 tbsp or to taste
sesame oil
finely chopped ginger 1 tbsp
fine chopped fresh red chillies 1-2 tsp or to taste
chopped chives or spring onions 2 tbsp or as required


procedure...

Grill the eggplants over flame or inside an oven till the skin is charred and the interiors are soft. Let it cool to be handled and peel off the skin.

Slice the eggplant and arrange in a serving plate the way you want to serve them. Individual slices can be placed in small serving dishes if you are serving a crowd.

Mix the dark soy and chopped ginger and pour over the egg plant slices to douse them completely. No salt is required in this recipe as there is enough in soy sauce.

This recipe is meant to be at room temperature when served. But I guess it could be a cold salad as well.

We loved the simple flavors so much that have already repeated the recipe quite a few times. More so because two varieties of eggplants are being harvested from the garden.

Now that I said there are two varieties in the garden. Sometimes I get only two small green and long ones in a day. For such small quantities I make a hot garlicky mash with olive oil and sun dried Cherie tomatoes. You know the Cherie tomatoes are from the garden as well and sun dried by moi.

This hot garlicky grilled eggplant mash is something you would like on a pizza as well. or a grilled sandwich. So this one is an Italian mashed eggplant ...

Recipe is simple, grilled and peeled eggplants are mashed with lots of finely chopped garlic, a dash of hot tabasco sauce, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste and lots of sun dried tomatoes. Lots of sun dried tomatoes means about half the quantity of the mashed grilled eggplants.


 Regular sun dried tomatoes can be used too. If they are pickled in Olive oil there is no need to add any extra EVOO to the mash.

I normally do not pickle the sun dried tomatoes in Olive oil and store them in the fridge for about a year. This way they are more versatile in usage, one can use them in many different recipes, Thai, Indian or even some Lebanese or Italian.

Here is another grilled eggplant mash with a hot red sauce. A Chinese one.

And this one is entirely a different flavor, although it looks similar being a mashed eggplant dish.

A very convenient quick side dish to have if you have some of this hot sauce ready. I made it for the Hainanese Chicken and rice recipe and the sauce was received so well that I decided to use it for some more recipes. This eggplant mash is one of them.

Just grilled , peeled eggplants, mashed along with a generous dollop of this hot red dipping sauce that goes normally with Hainanese chicken and rice.




 Recipe of the hot red sauce is here if you are making it fresh...

ingredients for the dipping sauce..
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp tabasco sauce
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 inch piece of ginger chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 whole red chilly broken
1 tsp white vinegar

Procedure....

Blend everything smooth to make a thick sauce, without adding any water.

And then add a dollop of this sauce to mashed grille eggplants and enjoy.

You could try adding some ricotta or feta cheese to this mash for a wholesome main dish.

Now that you have three recipes with grilled eggplants, which one would you make first ?