Category Archives: FOOD

About quick meal, healthy food, nutrition, healthy-tasty food for kids

Follow traditional diets to reduce obesity

While being interviewed for the post of a dietitian , a candidate was asked if she were a poor housewife and she wanted to cook a nutritional meal for her husband what would she cook. She said she would prepare drumstick leaf curry and sardine curry. Two items very cheaply available in Kerala two decades ago.

Nowadays our concern is about obesity. How to prepare food that is nutritional and reduces obesity. The answer is there in our traditional diet, the ingredients are available in the market. We can also grow a few vegetables in our little balconies.

I feel that ‘elaborate daily meals’ is the fad of the 21st. Having tasty food three times a day and ensuring right combination of food is as a result of the consumerist culture of today.  In my childhood days, on a normal day, I don’t remember having the right kind of accompaniment for a breakfast dish: Instead of chutney or sambar there will be sugar with idli, and instead of puri with chole there will be puri with mango pickle. The right combinations were available only on special occasions. Most children in my native village use to have pazhamkanji (old rice) for breakfast.

There were many reasons for the mismatch in food combination:

  • Shops were few and far between
  • Very few cooking gadgets
  • Unavailability of ready-made ingredients
  • Less income
  • Taste was of least priority
  • No choice: we ate what was put before us
  • Very little exposure to restaurant food

Nowadays we give the highest priority to taste, whereby nutrition comes second in importance. We ensure to have apt combinations for the meals and also taste should be as good as the restaurant one. So we add a lot of masalas and sometimes cook the food for a long time so as to get a particular tasty texture. Since tickling the taste palate in of utmost importance, we prepare different types of food every day. If yesterday we had roti, today we have puri and tomorrow idli. According to experts if we have the same kind of food every day we consume less, on the other hand, if different kinds of food are cooked then we have more food since we relish a new variety of food. For instance, the cooked rice left overnight soaked in water (pazhamkanji) and consumed for breakfast, was a tradition in Kerala. There are many nutritional benefits of pazhamkanji. Why not follow traditional diets to reduce obesity.

Go back to traditional diet………..

Nowadays we revive our tradition in our dressing, family values and ceremonies. When it comes to food, we take the tastier options of different cultures and from a tradition of our own. Why not instead of just adopting the tastier, easier, convenient and happier traditions, let us also adopt some of the tougher and bitter traditions which gave our ancestors a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tough dietary tradition followed by our ancestors and may help to reduce obesity:

Same diet every day

We know very well the staple diet of our ancestors. My ancestors used to have rice;  they had rice for lunch and dinner and sometimes even for breakfast, which is known as pazhamkanji (old rice), considered as one of the most nutritional breakfasts in the world. According to some medical experts, if we stick to our childhood diet in adulthood, then we remain healthy lifelong.

prominence for nutrition

Our ancestors never added flavour to make the food tastier. Every ingredient had some kind of nutritional content. My ancestors used jaggery, (containing antioxidants and mineral) in coffee, tea, sweets, etc. They had green leafy vegetables with rice for lunch. And the labours had pazhamkanji for breakfast which gave them stamina for their hard labour.

Add some bitter in platter

Post delivery diet in my village includes a jaggery sweet mixed with equal amount of fenugreek powder. This bittersweet combination is said to be the secret of the stamina of the elderly women in their 70’s even after giving birth to 7 to 8 children. Many good medicinal food items are bitter, so we must make it a habit of giving bitter food to kids. I know a mother who never gave sugar products to her daughter till she was 5 years old. She was given only naturally sweetened products like fruits and vegetables. And in the meantime, the girl became more interested only in naturally sweet products.

Seasonal diet

When I visit my mother’s village home there are no rewards for guessing what my mother will prepare for me. During the mango season, there will be mango thoran (Thoran is shallow frying of any minced vegetable, mixed with grated coconut and spices), mango curry, mango pickle etc. During Jackfruit season there will be jackfruit chips, mashed jackfruit, jackfruit seed fry, jackfruit halwa etc. And if there is a bunch of banana: first there will be banana flower thoran; then a few raw bananas will be fried or made to thoran; then the rest of the bananas will be kept aside to ripen. Now the inner portion of the banana stem will be made into thoran ( very rich source of fibre and good for the kidney stone).

Strict meal timing

In my village, if someone asks you at 1:30 PM that if you had lunch and you answer is in the negative, then the villagers will rate you as an undisciplined person. In my village, people follow an unwritten schedule for food: Breakfast at 7:00; Lunch at 1:00; Tea at 3:30 and Dinner at 7:00.  In our busy office schedule, we might say maintaining a strict timing is impossible. I know a number of people in various kinds of occupation who stick to their traditional diets and habits, no matter which part of the world they are, or how much work pressure they have.

A friend once said that the Tamil Brahmin community follows their dietary tradition no matter wherever they are. To make her point more clear she said just watch a Tamil Brahmin at a Buffet in a Five Star Hotel. They will look at all the dishes and finally settle down with idli and sambar, or rice and a veg curry.

I think we all need to follow the dietary tradition of our ancestors and not be carried away by all the tasty, enticing odour and attractively presented food items that will pave way for obesity.

3 Kerala Style Apple recipes: When apples are cheaper than onion and vegetables

In a Butter Chicken recipe video, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor says that the style of cooking changes with time. Butter Chicken cooking method he demonstrates in the video is different from traditional methods. What he says in the video is right not only about the method of cooking but also about the basic ingredients used for cooking traditional dishes.

In Kerala during my childhood my mother used to cook those items that were abundantly available in that season. During mango season there were mango thoran*, mango coconut curry, mango chutney, mango pickle and so on. During the season of Jackfruit we had Jackfruit thoran, Jackfruit seed fry,  Jackfruit halwa, and so on. When my mother comes to North India she will make thoran, theeyal* and fry of all the locally available vegetables.

This week when I went to the local market, where we can bargain and get fresh vegetables at lower rates  as compared to regular shops, I got onion at Rs 80/Kg and Apple at 40/Kg. I bought 2 1/2 Kg of apples. It is in human nature that when you see an item is surplus, even if it is your favourite thing, you lose interest in having it. The basket of red apples simply lying around reminded me of basket full of mangoes in my mother’s home during summer season. A friend Sudhir suggested adding apple pieces in Sambar, where from I got the sudden Idea of trying out Kerala recipes with apples, as shallots (not onion) are required for the dishes.  And Kerala recipes are a perfect combination with rotis.

No wastage in apple recipes

Apples are fleshier and hardly very little is lost while cleaning the fruit. However if we clean Okra, french beans or yard-long beans there will be lot of wastage while trimming the stem end.  Besides apples need not be skinned like beetroot or papaya.

Why apple is a perfect substitute for Kerala vegetable curries

Thoran, fry, theeyal, pachadi* and pickle is made literally out of every fruit and vegetable available in Kerala – Pineapple, mango, yam, avacado, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, etc. The tinge of sourness and the texture, makes apple a perfect substitute for chambakka (Rose water apples) and mango  recipes of Kerala.

Apple-Coconut Chutney

apple chutney - apple recipes

Ingredients

Coconut –  1 cup (grated)

Dry Chilli – 2 No.s

Apple – Quarter piece of a small apple

Salt – as required

Curry leaf – 3 Nos.

Method

Put all the ingredients in a mixer-grinder and coarsely grind. Add very little water and maker sure the coconut is not ground to a smooth paste.

Apple Thoran

Apple Thoran - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple: 2 No.s (Medium Size)

Coconut – 1 Cup (Grated )

Green Chilli – 3 Nos

Shallots – 2 No.s

Garlic – 1/2 tsp

Ginger – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Mustard seed – 1/2 tsp

Oil -1 tbsp

Salt – as required

Cumin Seed powder – a pinch

Method

Cut the apple 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad slender pieces and keep aside.  Coarsely grind all the ingredients, except salt and apple, for 3 seconds. Add the grounded mixture to the apple and gently mix with a spoon. Heat a wok and pour the oil, when the oil heats, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seed crackle add the apple mix and blend with a spoon. Lower the flame and close the wok with a lid. After  5 minute remove the lid, you can see gentle smoke/vapour which means the dish is nearly cooked. Stir and cook with open lid for a few minute and remove from fire.

Apple Theeyal

Apple Theeyal - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple – 1/2 of a small apple

Coconut – 1 cup (grated)

Shallots – 7 No.s

Garlic –  3 pod

Ginger –  1 inch piece cut is juveniles

Red Chilli – 3 Nos

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Fenugreek powder – 1/2 tsp

Cummin seed Powder 1/2 tsp

Tamarind – Size of half a lemon

Curry leaf – 4 to 5

Salt to taste

Method

Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water for 1/2 an hour. Boil the apple (cut is 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad sizes) and 3 shallots in tamarind water with salt and turmeric. Cook until the apple and shallot are tender. In a dry wok heat the coconut, when it turns brown add the rest of the shallots, ginger and garlic (all sliced). Stir for a while and add dry chilly, coriander, fenugreek and cumin seed. When the coconut becomes dark brown, remove from fire. let is cool. Grind the coconut mixture to a smooth paste in a mixer-grinder without adding water. Blend the mixture with the cooked apple. Now heat the mix for a while after adding a little water, do not let it boil. Remove from flame when you see the smoke.

Tip

Apply a little salt on the apple pieces so that they do not change colour.

Malayalam words used

Thoran*:  A dish made of finely chopped vegetables and grated coconut.

Theeyal*: A curry made with roasted and finely ground coconut paste.

Pachadi*: A simple side dish prepared in coconut and yogurt.


5 Kerala breakfast recipes with Wheat flour


4 Lent food of Kerala Christians


5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat


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3 Recipe with Milk Powder – Nido




 

 

 

Maggi took a break: Now Let us have some ghar ka khana (home made food)

In the hectic lifestyle of the cities, we Aam Admi’s follow a balanced diet – consuming almost equal amount of nutritious food as well as junk food everyday. Everyone knows that junk food and fast food are injurious to health, but due to time constrains we decide that having something – junk or unhealthy – is better than having nothing. At home preparing healthy food, or ghar ka khana, regularly can be stressful so if woman are given a helping hand they can prepare healthy food. It is said that Joseph Maggi invented maggi so that working women can prepare healthy healthy food easily for their kids.
 

In their busy schedule parent usually prepare lunch box consisting of bread and jam or cooked instant noodles. The lunch box recipes makes no one happy. Neither the children are happy with the  cold snack, nor the parents are happy with the nutritious value of the food packed in the lunch box. If the children are inculcated with the habit of eating home-made food, they never give up that habit. With some quick trick, and 20 minutes to spare, parents can prepare healthy and homely lunch box recipe for kids. Here are a few lunch box recipes, that will bring smile on the face of parent and children.

Tip: To make the cooking easier and happier, both the parents should lend each other a helping hand in preparing the lunchbox. Here are a few recipes to be make the lunchbox of kids tastier, healthier and happier. To know more about lunchbox home delivery system read this post.
  1. Potato tricks: A lunch box recipe that every child will like to pack to school. Boil potato overnight; and in the morning add some spices to make it tastier. Use the potato base as stuffing for roti and sandwich. Add some tomato sauce, kids will love the combination.
  2. Cottage cheese magic: A lunch box recipe with lot of calcium. Crumble the cottage cheese and add spices as per choice. You can also add chopped tomatoes, onion and capsicum. Use the base as stuffing for sandwich and paneer parantha. Or else, cut the paneer into 1”inch cubes; cook the paneer using paneer butter masala. Instant butter panner mix requires less cooking time.
  3. Egg unlimited: Kids love eggs; and its easy to prepare, tasty and nutritious egg snacks. Sandwich or roti rolls can be made by stuffing boiled and crumbled egg; scrambled egg or omelet. Whip an egg and pour it over the roti in the pan, flip the roti over two or three times, until the egg is cooked well – Egg Parantha is ready!
  4. Minced Chicken: Any dish with a hint of chicken in it, is inviting. Minced chicken can be converted into limitless number of dishes. On a busy morning you can go for a minced chicken stuffed sandwich or roti. Or, if time permits, refrigerate, boiled and drained, noodles overnight; in the morning mix it with shallow fried minced chicken and other ingredient to make chicken chow mein.
  5. Vegetables Cutlets: A play-way method lunch box recipe that will inculcate the habit of eating vegetables. At leisure prepare and refrigerate ready-to-fry vegetable cutlets. In the morning fry the cutlets and place it between bread slice along with cucumber and tomato slices. The vegetables can be sliced  and kept beforeitself.

The entire cooking process will take only 15 to 20 minutes. The cooking process is made simple if the dough for roti is prepared and stored overnight.To cook faster utilize all kinds of kitchen gadgets.
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Ancy Abraham

5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat

On scorching summer afternoons, you see parents giving chilled juice bottles to kids as soon as they alight from the School bus. Only a few kids are lucky enough to get such minute parental attention as in most homes both parents are working. After School kids come home and serve the food themselves with the result most kids do not eat and drink on time. Drinking a lot of water is very important in the summer season, but due to tiredness and laziness kids will avoid drinking water.

Many kids suffer from stomachaches and they sometimes faint in the classrooms in summer. There is a general feeling of lethargy and sickness which may be the sign of not taking a lot of water to stay hydrated. A medical professional once told me to take a lot of seasonal fruits during the summer like watermelon, pomegranate and strawberry. Kids do not eat fruits unless given forcefully and parents do not have the time to persuade them. The healthiest and the easiest way to make the kids intake the fruits is to prepare juice and refrigerate them.  When the kids return from school the first thing they will do is to open the refrigerator and have some cool homemade, refreshing summer drinks.

It is not true that kids do not like homemade food.  Parents who cook regularly at home say their kids like homemade food. (Tip: understand your kids taste bud and cook accordingly.) The 5 summer drinks mentioned here are not as sweet and yummy as the packaged drinks, and you won’t find them on menu cards, but once the kids develop a taste for these drinks they will drink it without any compulsion.

The summer drinks mentioned here are for people of all age groups and you can easily prepare them using ingredients that are regularly used at homes. Unlike the aerated, sugary, soda drinks, that just quenches the thirst these healthy summer drinks option also provide necessary vitamins to resist heat and diseases.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Aam Panna – Raw mango juice, a refreshing summer drink

Raw Mango Juice (Aam Panna)

As a child, the only time I loved having aam panna was while travelling by train during summer vacations. My Mother carries the aam panna pulp in a small container and sugar in another. We, siblings, make friend with other kids while travelling together for two days. Mother prepares the juice and serves to all the kids. Aam panna in those moments were rejuvenating, soothing and enjoyable like never before.

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Ingredients

Raw Mango – 1 Medium Size

Sugar/jaggery- As required

Cumin Seed – 1/4 tsp

Water – 2 cup

Method of preparation

Steam the mango in a pressure cooker/ steamer. Remove the peel on cooling and extract the pulp. Add the cumin seeds, sugar and two cups of water. Stir well. Pass the concoction through a strainer to remove the pulp. You will get a translucent juice.

Health Benefits

Resists heat; provides Vitamin C and anti-oxidants; prevents Dehydration, diarrhoea, Indigestion and Constipation; an effective solution for Diabetes; checks Anemia and Improves digestion.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Gooseberry extract (Nellikai Arishtam) – a summer drink to resist heat stroke

Gooseberry Extract (Nellikai Aristam)

Gooseberry has many medicinal properties hence the extract is known as aristam (medicinal wine). Gooseberry is prepared with jaggery so as to keep the percentage of alcohol low. Mother used to prepare Gooseberry liquor at home which is similar to the process of wine making except that yeast and sugar is not used. Gooseberry extract is the best resistance against heat and resists many diseases. In Ayurveda gooseberry is an essential ingredient for hair products due to its cooling effect.

Ingredients

Gooseberry – 1 Kg
Jaggery – 1 Kg
Cloves and Cardamom – Powdered

Method of preparation

Select fresh gooseberries, wash and dry them. Make small holes on the gooseberries with a fork. In a porcelain jar, place one layer of gooseberries followed by a layer of powdered jaggery. Finally, add the cinnamon and clove on top. Close the lid tightly, cover the lid with a cloth and keep it undisturbed for 2 months.  By now the Juice is extracted. Squeeze and strain the juice and store it for more than a year in a cool, dry place. For kids, a spoon full of gooseberry extract diluted with water is highly refreshing for the whole body.

Health benefits

Gooseberry extract is rejuvenating and it is used as a remedy for jaundice, dyspepsia and cough.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Bael (Stonne Apple) Juice – A traditional Indian summer drink to beat the heat

Stone apple (Bael) Juice

There was a bael tree in front of the temple near my home. In those days Bael was common, large fruits hang on the tree like Christmas hangings. When the fruit falls, the hard shell breaks and the yellow pulpy fruit inside is visible. Some passerby will take the fruit and have it. I did not know the value of the fruit until coming to Delhi, where you have to buy the fruit and juice. In the villages in North India Bael (Stone apple) is a holy fruit and the fruit juice is considered as an excellent heat resistor.

Ingredients
Bael / Wood Apple – 2 medium size
Jaggery – 2 tbsp
Salt –  A pinch
Cumin Seed – 1 tsp
Water – 2 glasses

Method of preparation

Split the fruit using a pestle, and scoop the pulp. In a bowl, mash the pulp so as to soften the pulp and separate the seeds. Now add a glass of water and pass the juice through a strainer. If required add more water and press the pulp so that the juice is separated and only the fibre remains in the strainer. Add the rest of the ingredients – jaggery, salt and cumin seed to the juice. Blend it in a mixer and serve it.

 Health benefits

The ripe fruit keeps the body and mind cool, cures acidity also. It helps to improve the digestive system and controls diabetes.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Watermelon Crush – A summer drink which requires no water to be added

Watermelon Crush

Watermelon is sweet and watery so there is no need to add water. We can add some flavours to make the juice tastier and healthier.

Ingredients

Watermelon – 1 medium size

Sugar – 2 tbsp.

Mint leaf – 3 to 4 Nos.

Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.

Method of Preparation

Peel the watermelon and remove the seeds. Blend the chunks in a blender for a minute. Now add the sugar, mint leaf and lemon juice. Blend it again. Pour it directly into a serving glass and cover with a plastic sheet before refrigerating.

Health benefits

Watermelon consist of 90% water, hence the juice helps to stay hydrated and prevents heat stroke. The fibre in the fruit helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract. According to some studies, a glass of watermelon juice before an intense workout helps to reduce muscle soreness.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Lemon Juice – Easiest and most common healthy summer drink

Lemon Juice

When you want to have some chilled summer drink, the first option that comes to mind is the soda lemon juice. Many small juice sellers become famous due to the twist they provide in the lemon drink. In my hometown, a juice seller got customer queuing up because of his famous lemon juice with ginger extract. Multifarious tweaks can be added to the lemon juice, here is the simple recipe that I prepare almost every day:

Ingredients

Lemon: 1/4 Cup

Sugar: 1/2 Cup

Water: 1 Cup

Salt: 1/4 tsp

Method of preparation

Mix the Lemon juice with sugar, salt and water and keep it in the refrigerator. Lemon juice will remain fresh for two to three days.

Health Benefits

Lemon juice helps you to stay calm and cool. It helps to improve the immune system, cleans the stomach and purifies the blood. Lemon is also useful in treating arthritis, rheumatism, obesity, constipation and dental problems.

Three Generations of Christmas Cakes

A month of joy and merriment is coming to an end  with the New Year celebrations tonight.  A feeling of nostalgia struck me when I thought about making a new year resolution. Every year we make a resolution to bring a change in ourselves that will last for a few weeks and then we are back to the old ways.  On flipping the pages from memory I noticed that changing lifestyle has given a new twist to the Christmas celebrations. Read how to prepare nutritious and healthy honey-oat bread.

Plum Cake
A friend’s Christmas Plum Cake

The arrival of Christmas season is heralded when people busily go shopping for nuts and fruits to be soaked in wine for atleast three weeks in advance before the preparation of the plum cakes.  Few days before Christmas, people go to bakeries with all the ingredients and patiently watch as the batter is mixed and baked in the industrial oven.  Normally every family bake fifty to sixty cakes and wrap with colorful papers to distribute to friends, neighbors, clients, colleagues and helpers. Friends reminds in advance about their share of Christmas cake.

How plum cake became the symbol of Christmas, like Santa Claus, I am sure. But every year, for the last few years during Christmas season, people consider it a ritual to bake plum cakes and, wear Santa caps and masks.

Plain Christmas Cake
Mother’s plain Christmas Cake

Two decade back my mother used to bake the cake at home. And the recipe was quite simple. Equal amount of all purpose flour, butter, sugar, eggs and a few nuts.  Cake was one of the few snacks that mother prepared for Christmas along with Rose cookies, doughnuts, murukku,…..  On Christmas days mummy packed all the delicacies in colourful boxes and we kids distributed the gifts to our neighbors and friends. Somehow all my childhood friends remember only the Christmas cakes.

Christmas Appam
Appam, Granny’s version of Christmas Cake

My mother who made tasty cakes, never made cakes at home during her childhood Christmas. During her childhood the main Christmas delicacy was the appam (kallappam) a flat bread made of rice flour, ground coconut; and yeast (or toddy) for fermenting. Days before Christmas grandma reminded the coconut tree climber for some fresh toddy (yeast was not common in those day). She then soaked the raw rice, drained it. Family members and servants took turn to powder the rice with a mortar and pestle. During the Christmas season all the children and grand children  The coconut is grated and ground and mixed with rice powder and toddy to make a smooth bath. It is left to ferment overnight. On Christmas day the batter is poured on hot tawa to prepare nice round rice cake. The appam was distributed with chicken curry to the neighbours and helpers family. Many guests come home to have appam and curry. All the children and grand children will gather at the ancestral home for Christmas.

Customs have changed in the last four decades. Tough we never took a new year resolution to change the style to celebrating Christmas, we have added many elements to the celebrations. We use yeast instead of toddy for appam. Wine is  used in cakes. We distribute cakes instead of Greeting cards. Instead of inviting relatives home, we go out to celebrate Christmas.  But the spirit of sharing during Christmas is still alive.

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Westerners love spicy Indian food

 

DSC04602

While strolling through the park, I chatted with two beautiful visitors to India, Mohan and Indu from US and UK. They are here for spiritual pursuit.  While we chatted, daily visitors to the park were religiously following their routine like walking, jogging and yoga. We talked for a while about lifestyle in the two parts of the world and about their views about India. Find out why some fans recommended Neymar to opt ayurveda for his back injury.

What do you like about India?

Indu: I like the plentiful variety of sweets available in India. As soon as you enter a sweet shop you are awed by the collection of sweets like Gulab Jamun, and other colorful delicacies. All the ‘sabjis’ (vegetable dishes) here are tasty, and they are not spicy indian food like some people say.

Mohan: Back home I cook Indian food. For instance, I will add lime to milk and curdle the milk, and then squeeze the water out of the curd and prepare with masalas.

You mean Paneer Masala?

Mohan: Yes!

Is it comfortable to be a vegetarian in The US?

Vegetables are costlier than non-vegetarian food items, so being a vegetarian is tough. While shopping for vegetables, you have to read carefully all the labels to make sure there is no animal product.

 Do you walk and exercise?

Mohan: Yes, I walk and exercise back home, but here I do not as I wear this tradition Dhoti and chappal.

Aren’t the American’s more health conscious?

Mohan: They may be more health conscious, but there are many obese people in The US than in India because people eat many burgers and grilled chicken. There are many food shops in The US, so people have food all the time.

How do people manage waste food in The US?

Mohan: There is a food collection system.  One can call the food collectors who will come and collect the extra food, store them, and distribute the food to the poor countries.

The conversation with the two visitors to India gave some ‘food for thought’:

Obesity is on the rise in India

In India, the present teenage generation eat many burgers, pizzas and grilled chicken. When these kids are in their twenties in a decade’s time, will we be also saying, “India has many obese people because of unhealthy eating habits”?

Once, a consumer organization conducted a survey in a school. They kept on one table healthy food as roti’s, sabji, puri, cholae, panner etc. and on the other table junk food like potato chips, instant noodles, pizzas, etc. The children were asked to take whatever food they liked. They went and picked the junk food. According to this study kids daily diet largely consist of junk food.

Buying international brands of  grilled chickens, burgers, and pizza is a luxury in India that a lot of the middle class cannot afford on a daily basis. However, if the day comes when the KFC’s, Macdonald’s and Dominos are cheaper than the samosas and Chola Bhatura’s then middle class will have more burgers than homemade food.

Ask Yourself:

If a shop offers a Veg Samosa for Rs 20 and a Mac Donalds Chicken Burger (normal size) for Rs 10 what will you buy:

  • 2 Samosas
  • 1 Burger

India urgently needs Waste Food Management System:

India culture cannot predict the number of guests who will come for a party, with the result of large food wastage at the end of the day.  A large amount of “curries” are dumped on the road. Usually, people distribute the food among the poor or take the food to some orphanages. However, there are some difficulties:

  • The food spoils as it is prepared many hours in advance.
  • Orphanage inmates need healthy and nutritious food, but the food prepared for parties may be rich in taste and appearance but not exactly healthy.
  • People give leftover food to birds and animals in the park. Animals and birds are not used to having cooked food so the food decays in the park emanating putrid smell.

Therefore, we urgently need an emergency number to call to give away the leftover food. Friends if you have any other solution, please discuss.

My initiative to manage leftover food:

After having food at my home, many people request for the recipe of food I prepared. I wish to utilize my culinary expertise in a different way.  I will make a habit to write one recipe or tip a day, not about exotic recipes but, about how to utilize the leftover food. When I discussed waste food issue with a friend, she said we can make a cake with the sour milk. I will blog the recipe for sour milk cake in a shot while, meanwhile find out how you will manage the waste food and comment in this article.

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Honey Oat Bread

honey oat bread

“Miriam reminds Paul that he is supposed to be watching the bread. He has burned one of the loaves, ……. he walks her home. When he returns, his mother and sister are waiting for him and they have found the burnt loaf of bread.” Read about 7 substitutes that can be used instead of onion in recipes.

In India, where cakes and bread is viewed as  a western delicacy that can be accomplished perfectly only by professionals or Christians, the above line from the famous English Novel ‘Sons and Lovers’ enlightened me that breads can be baked even by a young boy when mother goes out for shopping.

However, I never thought that one day I will break a bread at home in India. I have a fully equipped kitchen with all kinds of gadgets and ingredients for Kerala, Tamilian, Punjabi and Chinese Dishes. And of course I got a small old-fashioned electric oven which is used once in a year to bake Christmas Cakes.

Since I do not trust any processed or packed meals,  I do all the cooking at home from the Scratch.  ‘Ancy’s kitchen’ is always active dishing out breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Bread was strictly prohibited in the house as it is made of refined flour. Of late, due to time constrain,  I included brown bread for breakfasts and snacks and began researching for substituting bread with a homemade dish. After doing some google search I found recipe for a simple bread, using which I baked a bread without sweating or spending much time, and the kids also approved with the new dish.

Being encouraged by the positive outcome of the first experiment, I decided to try out a healthier version using some other cereals and that is when I chanced upon Maria’s eggless honey oat bread. Believe me the recipe has come out really beautiful, it was tasty, soft, nutritious, and presentable.  I verbatim followed Marias instruction which is as follows:

honey oat bread

Recipe by: Maria Jose Martin
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients
  • All-purpose flour (maida) – 3 cups (381 grams)
  • Oats – ¾ cups (I have used instant and old fashioned, both work great)
  • Instant yeast – 2¼ tspn
  • Salt – 1½ tspn
  • Milk – 1 cup (250 ml) (almond or soy milk for vegan/dairy free)
  • Lukewarm water – ¼ cup (62 ml)
  • Unsalted butter or margarine – 2 tablespoons (28 grams)
  • Honey (agave for vegan) – ¼ cup
  • Honey (or agave), warmed – 1½ to 2 tbspn
  • Oats – 1½ to 2 tbspn
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, oats, yeast, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, or two cup (450 ml) measuring cup, warm the milk so that it’s hot enough to melt the butter, but not boiling. Add the butter, stirring until melted, then stir in the water and honey.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, mixing with a dough hook until it just comes together to form a dough. Knead in the mixer, with the dough hook attachment, for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic (if you’re making this recipe by hand, the dough will be very sticky at first; flour your hands and work surface generously and be patient). If the dough is still very wet and sticky after 5 minutes of kneading, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is barely tacky. If the dough is too dry, add water, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) at a time, to soften it up.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about ½ to 1 hour.
  5. Once doubled, place the dough on a clean, dry work surface. If the dough is too sticky, lightly flour the surface before continuing. With your fingers, flatten the dough into a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Tightly roll the dough, tucking the ends as needed, into a loaf. Place the shaped dough into a 9×5-inch loaf pan, cover with a clean dry towel, and allow to rise until doubled, about ½ to 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Place an empty loaf pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  7. When the loaf is doubled again, brush the top with the warmed honey and sprinkle with the oats.
  8. Place the bread in the oven and pour the boiling water into the empty loaf pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the bread is deep golden brown and the internal temperature is about 190 degrees.
  9. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. 

Note:

  • I used lesser quantity of water and milk. Expert chefs say that the usage of liquid for the knead varies form place to place depending on the climatic condition .
  • Knead the dough thoroughly until it is really soft.
  • Give enough time for the dough to rise and also for the dough to bake till golden brown.

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Seven Onion Substitute For Everyday Cooking

onion substitute

When onions are too costly or unavailable, life comes to a standstill, in India. Onion is the basic ingredient for most of the Indian dishes. An Indian woman, staying in Africa, who cooks delicious Indian recipes, said that half of the ingredients required for Indian recipes are not  locally available. So she uses substitutes. Her recipes are as good as the original.

If she can cook delicious dishes with only half of the original ingredients, we can do even better by substituting onion with something else.

Onion is used mainly for thick gravy or sliced raw and used in salad. For the latter case, during the costly season, one must refrain from having onion. In Delhi restaurants onion slices are served along with every Indian Dish. As the price goes high the number of onion slices goes down; when too pricey, radish slices is used as onion substitute. (During the last price rise, onions and apples were Rs 80 and Rs 40 respectively).  Check out the article for preparing Kerala recipes with apple.

Onion is required in large quantity to get a thick gravy. In case of scarce availability of onions, judicious housewives develop unadulterated techniques to thicken the gravy. For instance saute the onion slices till golden brown, add some tomatoes to it, cook for some time and then grind the mix to a paste. This tomato-onion paste makes a thicker and tastier gravy than plain sauteed onions.

onion substitute

What if there is no onion in the house! Some budget conscious husbands say “no more onions, till the prices get normal, cook without onion”. The wife has to cook tasty food with some kind of onion substitute.

Here are a few onion substitutes that can thicken the gravy and provide richer taste to the commonly cooked dishes like mixed vegetable curry, aloo-gobi (potato-cauliflower), channa masala (chickpea curry), butter paneer (Cottage cheese curry) and Butter Chicken.

Coconuts

Onion Price

Grate the coconut, grind to a smooth paste and add to the sauteed ingredients for the alloo (potato)-mutter (green pea) curry or chicken curry. The vegetables should be boiled separately. After adding the coconut paste the dish should be cooked only on low flame as the oil in coconut will ooze out on boiling. Sauteing the onion until golden brown before grinding can give a richer taste.

Coconut milk

Grind the coconut without water. Use a strainer to squeeze the first milk; keep the milk aside. Again grind the coconut with some water. Squeeze the second milk and keep it aside. Again add some water. Grind and squeeze the third milk. After all the dry ingredients are sauteed and vegetables are added, cook the vegetable in third milk. When the vegetable is cooked add the second milk, cook on low flame for few minutes. Add the first milk and remove from stove as soon as the milk is warm. (Coconut milk powder is also available in the market).

Poppy Seeds

Khus-khus or poppy seed is an excellent thickening agent and tastes awesome. Only a spoonful is required for regular cooking. Grate khus kush to a paste with ginger, garlic and chilly. Saute the paste with other ingredients like chilli powder, coriander powder and spices. Add the vegetables with water and cook for some time. (N.b. Poppy seed is banned in countries like UAE and some Arab countries. Carrying poppy seeds is a criminal offence,)

Milk Cream

During the days of onions crisis make the cream at home, why buy the costly creams. When the milk comes to boil, reduce the flame and stir for a while. Remove from stove and refrigerate for a while. You get a thick upper layer of cream. Remove the cream and use in curries. (Milk separators are also available in the market)

Corn Flour

After cooking the vegetable with the dry ingredients, add a spoonful of corn flour mixed with water. You get a thick gravy.

Cashew Nut Paste

Some shops sell minutely broken cashew nuts at rock bottom prices. Grind the cashews with other ingredients and saute for a while; mix with the vegetables and dry ingredients and cook. You get a thick, rich gravy.

Coriander Powder

The more coriander powder you add, the thicker the gravy. Adding more coriander powder can make the curry taste bitter. Coriander has antioxidants and dietary fibres, so they are beneficial for health. If fennel or cumin seed is added while grinding the coriander powder, the dishes will get better flavour.

Kerala Recipes

Kerala recipes requires hardly any onion. The thick chicken gravy with onion is relatively a new entrant in the Kerala kitchens.  Most of the recipes require no onion, or shallots are used in a small number. Shallots have medicinal properties than onions. Shallots are costlier than onion but they are required in small quantities. The price is around Rs 70 per Kg, and the prices do not fluctuate.

3 Kerala Style Apple recipes: When apples are cheaper than onion and vegetables

12 Seasonal Fruits chart in Delhi

The seasonal fruits chart in Delhi keeps changing every month. Moreover, at least one fruit exclusive to every month in all the 12 months of a year.
One thing that I love about Delhi is that fresh garden fruits are still available as we did two decades back. Because of the proximity and connectivity of Delhi to agriculture hubs like Punjab, Haryana and the Himachal’s, fruits fill the markets, in plenty,  according to the seasons.

Seasonal fruits chart of Delhi

Apples from Kashmir, Plums and Apricots from Uttarakhand, Mangoes from Tamil Nadu; by looking at the seasonal fruits available in the market, you can say the month of the year. Read the post to know.

According to traditional belief, to gain immunity in the extreme climatic conditions, one should follow the seasonal fruits chart. Every fruit has nutritional values that are essential for that particular season.

You have the juiciest and sweetest mangoes in May/June Months. In July, when it rains, the mangoes get infected. According to Delhiites, if you have Guavas in November and Bananas in the winter, they provide immunity to the body from the severe winters.

Mentioned below is the seasonal fruits chart that provides immunity from the seasonal changes:

Pear

Commonly known as Nashpati, this fruit is available in plenty in October. Small, crispy, and juicy; this fruit is kids’ favourite.

Mango

There are tremendous variety of mangoes, a few of them are commonly liked by the consumers. The cost and the taste are the two factors that matter while buying mangoes.
Different varieties of mangoes enter the market as the summer begins. Mangoes have got nutritional values, but they should be had in limits. In July, as soon as the monsoon sets in, people stop buying mangoes; as they say, the fruit will be infested with worms.

Lychee

Lychees are visible in the market only in May. These juicy and sweet fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C.

Watermelon

Watermelons are available throughout the summer. The biggest challenge, while buying watermelons is to ensure that the red edible portion is sweet and juicy. Melons are the best product for resisting summer heat.

Guava

Huge, sweet, and soft Guavas appear on the market in November. Guavas have got medicinal value. We can boost immunity by having guavas in winter.
Banana
Banana’s are available throughout the year, they taste and look best in January.  Delhiites says that bananas are suitable for the winters as they help to control blood pressure during the season.
Indian Blackberry
They can be seen in plenty for one or two months in summer. Buying the fruit at costly rates sounds irrational since, in our childhood, we used to just gather the Jamuns (as it is called in Hindi) that fall under the tree. Jamuns are highly nutritious, and they are especially useful for Diabetic patients.

Sugar Cane

Since we require more water intake in summer, Sugar cane is a natural energy drink with the right amount of sugar content and traces of nutrients. The natural enzymes and nutrients, in the freshly pressed sugarcane juice, are easily absorbed by the body. A lot of stalls come up in summer that provides newly extracted sugarcane juice.

Pomegranate

The nutritional value of the fruit is so high that you better buy the fruit, for health, and forget about the price. Pomegranates can be had as such, or they can be juiced along with other juicy, watery fruits.

Sapodilla

The round, brown fruits are an essential ingredient for the mixed fruit juice recipe. Sapodilla is plentifully available in the April/May months. They are a good source of antioxidant vitamins and minerals that are crucial for optimal health.

Bael (Wood Apple)

An ancient fruit of India, Bael fruit pulp, is the best solution for summer ailments. Bhel juice is useful in preventing sunstrokes, dysentery, and diarrhoea, which are common in summer.

Apple

When you think of the Delhi winter’s first image, the red, green, and yellow apples are arranged in rows in the fruit market. Prices also reach the rock bottom during the peak season. Some Delhiites say that at Rs 40/Kg, a poor man can have apples rather than onions for Rs 60/Kg. As you know, ‘An apple a day keeps the Doctor away. ‘
Delhiites are lucky that even as the city is fast growing as a modern city, we can still enjoy the fruits directly from nature’s fruit basket. My friends abroad sometimes say that they cannot make out the seasonal fruits as all fruits are available throughout the year.


5 Kerala breakfast recipes with Wheat flour


4 Lent food of Kerala Christians


5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat


3 Recipe with Milk Powder – Nido



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12 Seasonal Fruits chart in Delhi


Five green leafy recipes for winter

 green leafy recipes

‘Sarso ka saag’, ‘methi parantha’, ‘palak paneer’, all green leafy recipes, make a Delhiites mouth water.The fondness of Delhiite for green leafy recipes, puzzles non vegetarians living in other parts of the world. Delhiites talk a lot about food; and mostly they talk about vegetarian food. Read about vegetable recipes for kids in this post.

Green leafy recipes are nutritious and affordable. These leaves have anti ageing properties; lots of vitamins and minerals; and they are also known a ‘hot food’ best for winter climate. Largely people refrain from preparing  green leafy recipes as children do not like the bland or bitter taste.
Over the ages the Delhites have developed different green leafy recipes where the leaves are camouflaged (mixed with other ingredients) so as to make them more palatable. Dishes of five green leaves are popularly prepared at home and restaurants.
Bathua/Pigweed: The pigweed used to grow very liberally in the past, now you can find them in parks. Poor labours pick the leaves in the parks, and others buy it from the vegetable vendors. Bathua is palatable when sauteed in oil with some spices – You can blanch Bathua and ad to curd to make a salad for dinner – Mix the chopped bathua with soaked and ground split chickpea. Add spices as required, make them into small ball, flatten it and deep fry. Have it with sauce.
Palak/Spinach: A leaf with anti aging properties and iron content, spinach is a staple dish of Delhi. Blanch the spinach and make it to a paste, saute in oil with spices and cottage cheese (paneer) cubes – Palak paste can also be mixed with idli batter to make ‘green idlis’.
Sarso ka Saag/Mustard Greens: Mustard greens make tasty dishes because of the pungent taste. Experts say that Mustard green are good for those with choleric temperament.  Chop the leaves and at the same time boil and cube potatoes. Saute the leaves and potatoes with spices.
Methi ka Saag/Fenugreek Leaves: Plucking the tiny leaves of Methi requires lot of patience, most of the housewives and grandmas pluck the leaves while basking the sun. Women sit on foldable cots outside the ir houses with a bundle of fenugreek in front of them. When the tedious process of plucking the leaves is done, there will be just a bowl full of methi leaves and a huge cluster of empty branchlets. Wash the methi leaves thoroughly as long as you are satisfied that the leaves are clean. Chop the leaves and mix it with wheat flour, turmeric powder and salt. Nice parthas can be made, top it with butter – Saute the leaves with boiled potatoes, skinned and chopped tomatoes and spices. Saute for a long time to get the best result.
Amaranth/Chaulai Saag: Amaranth leaves is sparingly used in Delhi, they are a good substitute for spinach.
A mixed treat: Clean and chop all the five leaves, and pressure cook with lentils and tomatoes. Temper the cooked mix with mustard seeds, spices and dried red chillies. Children will love to have them with Parantha/Rice.