Friday, August 12, 2016

guava (Psidium guajava) : a super food affordable to everyone | 13 ways guava fruit and guava leaves can be used to treat ailments


Guava is one of my favourite fruits and the red skinned fragrant guavas of Allahabad are the best. There are so many varieties of guavas in India that every city can surprise you with a new variety or a different flavour bouquet of the same variety.

guava fruit

Every second Indian household would remember a guava tree in the vicinity or in the backyard and almost every stage of the fruit is used to make something or the other, the fruit at its prime is the most delicious.

Guava has always been touted as the fruit for good skin, because it keeps the digestive system clean and toned. But there is much more we need to know about guavas. 

I have mentioned in the past how cooked guava helps relieve chronic cough and throat and chest congestion. This guava soup can be a great relief from chest congestion.

guava soup

In older times guava was roasted in dying embers and was eaten with rock salt to relieve chronic phlegm. I have seen it works even if a soft ripe guava is cooked over gas flame or microwave. This guava soup also helps the same way.

guava fruit

I have had the experience of using guava leaf infusion to treat toothache. The leaf infusion works wonderfully as a mouthwash too. I remember my grandmother used to say that guava datoon (natural toothbrush made with freshly plucked twigs) is better than Neem datoon when you have toothache. No wonder I see some studies suggesting antibacterial activity of Guava leaf extract.

guava leaf infusion

If you boil 2-3 leaves of guava in a cup of water and pinch of salt, it can be used as a mouthwash to treat toothache and any inflammation of the gum. We need home remedies like this as the commercial mouth wash will have some unnecessary perfume, some colour and even some for of sugar as well. 

guava fruit

And if you roast a fully ripe guava over embers or gas flame and eat the pulp with a sprinkle of black salt and pepper powder, it can relieve chronic congestion that remains even after a course of antibiotics sometimes.

Here are more ways of using guava fruits and leaves to treat common ailments. 
1. Raw guava makes excellent digestive chutney when mixed with ginger, green chilies, cumin seeds, black rock salt and some mint leaves together. Just mix these together and pulverize to make a coarse chutney. Serve with any Indian fried snacks or as a side dish.
2. Raw or ripe guava juice is an excellent digestive aid when mixed with ginger juice and black rock salt. Some paprika and ginger powder also taste great in this juice.

spiced guava juice
3. Ripe guava makes delicious fruit chat that helps cure constipation and digestive issues. The fiber in guava is great as a prebiotic agent that helps improve gut flora.

guava salad
4. Ripe guava can be cooked either by roasting, boiling or grilling and be made into chutney, salsa or guava soup that helps treat chronic throat and chest congestion. For long standing congestion one may need to take the soup like a medicine dose twice daily for a week or so. (tried and tested on allergic type congestion).

This roasted guava relish is made after roasting the ripe guava on open flame, then chopping it. It is then mixed with pink salt, pepper powder, ginger powder, chilli powder and a hint of sugar. It tastes great as it is for a snack or served with some crackers or fritters.

roasted guava relish
5. With 381% of daily requirement of Vit C in just 100 gm of guava, this fruit boosts immunity tremendously. So having ripe guavas during changing seasons and during winter is a great way to ward off seasonal infections and keep healthy naturally.
6. Whole guava fruit has potent anticancer activity due to the presence of various antioxidants found in it. (study). According to this study guava peel is the most effective compared to guava flesh and seeds.
guava fruit
7. Vit B3 and B6 in Guava along with Vit A and C help boost immunity, get better eyesight and improve brain function too. Vit B3 and B6 known as Niacin and Pyridoxin help improve cognitive function of nerves. In short, eating guava could improve focus on work.
8. Leaf extract of guava is great for management of diabetes. (source) The aqueous leaf extract (leaf tea or infusion) can reduce postprandial glucose elevation (source

guava leaf infusion
9. Leaf extract of guava has shown anti-hyperlipidemic activity as well. The guava leaf infusion if taken as a tea can help manage the lipid profile. (source)
10. Leaf extract of guava has also been shown good results as anticancer agent. (study) The guava leaf tea could be a good habit to cultivate.
11. Guava leaf extract can even be used to prolong the shelf life of ripe fruits like banana (source). This method can be useful for the industry as a natural way to increase the shelf like of fruits and can reduce the use of chemicals. To make the fruit wash, 250 gm of guava leaves are boiled with 500 ml water for 30 minutes and the filtered extract is used to brush fruits.
12. The astringents in guava leaf extract help tone up the skin if applied daily. It will help kill any microbial activity on the skin as well, healing minor wounds.

13. The tender guava leaves can be chewed on and can be swallowed too. It helps making the gums healthier, kills any minor infections of the mouth and is a potent anti cancer agent as well. Try this if you smoke a lot, it helps minimize the urge to smoke.

guava fruit
Do we need more reasons to eat guavas? May be planting a guava tree nearby will be helpful too as the leaves will be available even before the fruiting starts.




Monday, August 8, 2016

sandwich | roasted pickled bell peppers and paneer sandwiches made with ragi sandwich bread


So we made Ragi sandwich bread loaves at Suryagarh 2 months ago and that became an instant hit with everyone. We made burger buns and steamed bao, some whole grain pesto rolls and many more breads with millets. I am working on a few new menus at Suryagarh as a consultant and loving it.

It is always good to see people loving all these breads despite a prejudice about millets being rough and tasteless. Millets are not rough and tasteless if they are cooked or baked rightly.

This ragi bread sandwich with pickled peppers and cottage cheese filling is such a flavourful delight I decided to share it with you all. The textures also work really well.

roasted pickled bell peppers and paneer sandwiches

The ragi bread was made with whole wheat and ragi mix where 30% ragi, 30% whole wheat and 40% white flour was used, bread was baked using the standard bread recipe with minor manipulations to it. I am not sharing the detailed recipe of this particular ragi sandwich bread but I have already shared many ragi bread recipes in the past so you can try those at home.

Roasted pickled peppers filling is the recipe I am going to share today and how to assemble this pickled peppers and cottage cheese sandwich for any bread you are using.

This roasted and pickled peppers recipe is simple but needs a little planning and some pickling time, before assembling the sandwich.

roasted pickled bell peppers and paneer sandwiches

ingredients 
(enough for 4 servings of loaded sandwich or for some extra salad)

For making pickled peppers
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
1 green bell pepper
2 large juicy ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp minced garlic
few springs of fresh thyme or a pinch of dried thyme 

To assemble sandwiches
some onion rings
a slab of fresh paneer 
some salad greens (I used home grown rucola)
toasted bread of choice 

procedure

Grill the bell peppers and tomatoes on open fire, I used the flame of my gas stove. You can grill them all in broiler mode of the oven. Grill them all till the skin is charred and the vegetables get a bit soft. I am using the words grilling and roasting interchangeably here, hope that is okay.

Peel the skin of all the grilled peppers and tomatoes, rubbing off the charred part works fine.

Discard the seeds and white pith of the peppers, and white pith just under the tomato stalk. Now chop them all lengthwise, in quarters or thinner strips.

To make the pickling dressing, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and the minced garlic together and smear over the grilled and chopped vegetables.

Transfer all the contents into a clean glass jar, pressing the slices down and let everything marinate for at least 3 hours. This jar of pickled peppers keeps well in the refrigerator for a week.

To assemble the sandwiches, toast the breads lightly and prepare the paneer.

Slice the paneer thinly into large sheets and grill it over open flame using a metal grid. Do not bake or grill in the oven as the paneer slices dehydrate and become chewy that way. You can smear salt over paneer if you wish, we never needed to do that.

Arrange the salad greens, paneer slices and pickled peppers and tomatoes over one toasted bread slice and cover with another. I have not buttered the bread slices as there is enough olive oil in the pickled peppers and enough fat in the paneer.

roasted pickled bell peppers and paneer sandwiches

You can use slices of fresh Bocconcini instead of paneer or can add some grated cheese of your choice to the sandwich too. I love adding a bit of Feta cheese sometimes but I like paneer a lot too.

This loaded sandwich is quite heavy so wrap it in butter paper to hold well. Eating the sandwich will be easier that way. And this grilled pickled peppers sandwich is quite heavy as well. One weekend we had it for our brunch and it kept us full all day.

I have been making wraps with the same filling too and the husband doesn't mind eating pickled peppers. Else he is slightly intolerant to the aroma of peppers and he can smell peppers from a distance. Pickling rocks, quick pickling or otherwise.




Thursday, August 4, 2016

quinoa lentil patties and millet sourdough crumpets to make delicious sandwiches


The wholegrain healthy breads are best made at home and it is even better if the breads are made using sourdough. Sourdough is a pet and one can keep them forever. Isn't that a great feeling?

I freeze my sourdough when I am not using it as this sometimes stretched to a couple of years. I think I had not baked any breads for a year at least. But the sourdough survives when you freeze it.

Sometime ago someone wanted sourdough starter from me and I promised her that I will revive the sourdough starter for her. It took just 2 days to revive the sourdough and the good thing is that my love for sourdough breads also got revived. While I baked some ragi sourdough bread, I kept using it for my kulchas and pancakes too.

quinoa lentil patty and sourdough millet crumpet sandwiches

Then I thought of making the sourdough millet crumpets and crumpet sandwiches. We normally love the crumpets with any cheesy topping or even with slices of cucumber and some feta cheese but this time I thought of making some quinoa and lentil patties for this.

Quinoa and sweet potato burger patties have been appreciated much on my table but this time I thought of making use of cooked whole masoor dal (red lentil with skin) to make the patties. The idea came from the salad I had made with quinoa and lentils with grated carrots (much like this quinoa carrot salad) earlier but the decision of making the patty was not a very good idea if you consider proper binding.

quinoa carrot lentil salad

But then the taste of the first trial of this quinoa and lentil patty was so good I decided to do a better version that stayed as delicious but could retain the shape too. The result was something almost all my home cooked meals stand for. My meals have to be low Glycemic and I love including all sorts of millets in my meals. This one turned out to include several of those millets and alternative grains.

ingredients 
(makes full meals for 3-4 people)

For the sourdough millet crumpet (to be prepared in advance)
1/4 cup active sourdough starter
1/2 cup jowar (sorghum) flour
1/4 cup ragi (finger millet) flour
1/4 cup oat flour 
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
salt to taste
water to make a thick sticky batter (or a very loose sticky dough)
ghee for greasing the griddle

For the quinoa lentil patty 
1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup cooked and drained red lentil with skin
1/2 cup finely mashed paneer (about 120 gm)
3 tbsp sesame powder
3 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp minced green chillies
1 tbsp or a little more finely chopped sun dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
ghee or butter to grill the patties as required, one tsp is enough to grill 2 patties

procedure 

To make the crumpets
Mix everything listed in the crumpet ingredients list to make a sticky dough and let it rest for a slow fermentation. I generally keep it at room temperature for an hour and then refrigerate for up to two days. Use when required.

Drop about 60 ml of the thick batter on greased hot griddle to make one thick flat crumpet. I generally use my fingers to drop the batter as it is more of a sticky dough. Just pick up a portion using your fingers and drop it in a neat lump on hot greased griddle. It will flatten by itself and rise, ultimately making small holes on the surface. Flip to toast the other side.

Soft cooked crumpets keep well in the refrigerator and can be toasted when required.

To make the quinoa lentil patties 
Mix everything on the list of ingredients for quinoa lentil patties. Knead well to make a coarse but binding type soft mix.

Divide in about 12 portions and shape into flat patties.

Grill the patties on a hot griddle greased with ghee or butter.

Sandwich between 2 freshly toasted crumpets and serve immediately with some salad and some dip on the side.. 

quinoa lentil patty and sourdough millet crumpet sandwiches

I made a onion and pickled green peppercorns salad with this and the salad turned out to be a perfect companion to these crumpet sandwiches. We also had some parval ka chokha dip, mixed with a little mustard and another hung curd and garlic dip.

Sometimes people think eating seasonal food is a limitation but it can be a great way to discover new combinations when you prefer eating seasonal fresh produce. We don't eat raw leafy greens in Indian monsoons but there is no dearth of salads.

By the way, you might like my column in Indian express about Indian salads.

I even tried this quinoa lentil patty with a bajre ka rotla (a thick flat bread made of bajra or pearl millet dough, unleavened) and loved it.  

There is something about unspoiled natural foods that makes them delicious, more because they have not been stripped off their natural goodness. 

This time I added some tomatoes to my onion and pickled green peppercorns salad.

quinoa lentil patty

To make the salad just mix onion slices with brine pickled green peppercorns and some extra virgin olive oil and toss. No need to add any salt, vinegar or additional pepper.

It doesn't matter if you can't think of baking a loaf of bread for any reason, you can still bake your breads really conveniently using sourdough or yeast and enjoy freshly baked breads everyday.