Tag Archives: Food stories

Here are some stories of food traditions and modern day food habits.

Seven Onion Substitute For Everyday Cooking

onion substitute

When onions are too costly or unavailable, life comes to a standstill. Onion is the basic ingredient for most of the Indian dishes. An Indian women staying in Africa, who cooks delicious Indian recipes, said that half of the ingredients will not be  locally available so she uses substitutes. Her recipes are as good as the original. If half of the ingredients does not reduce the taste of a recipe, can’t onion substitute be used.

Onion is used mainly for 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). Saturated fat is good for health says a new study, read this post to find more.

Onion is required in large quantity to get a thick gravy, so 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 substitute that can thicken the gravy and provide richer taste to the commonly cooked dishes like mixed vegetable curry, aloo-gobi, channa masala, butter paneer and so on.

  • Coconut: Grate the coconut, grind to a paste and add to the sauteed ingredients for the alloo-mutter curry. The vegetables should be boiled separately. After adding the coconut paste the dish should be cooked only on low flame as the gravy should not boil.
  • 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 masala is sauted 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 Seed:  Khus-khus is costly, 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 chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala. Add the vegetables with water and cook for some time. (N.b. Poppy seed is banned in countries like UAE and some Arab countries.)
  • Milk cream: During the days of 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 and use in curries. (Milk separators are also available in the market)
  • Corn flour: After cooking the vegetable with the masalas, add a spoonful of corn flour mixed with water. You get a thick gravy.
  • Cashew nuts:  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 masalas and cook.
  • Coriander powder: The more coriander powder you add, the thicker the gravy. 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.

5 Kerala breakfast recipes with Wheat flour

4 Lent food of Kerala Christians

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

5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat

3 Recipe with Milk Powder – Nido

12 Seasonal Fruits chart in Delhi

12 Seasonal Fruits chart in Delhi

Seasonal fruits chart in Delhi keeps changing every month. There is at least one fruit exclusive to a month in all the 12 months of a year. One thing that I love about Delhi is that garden fresh fruits are still available as we did two decades back. Because of the proximity and connectivity of Delhi, fruits fill the markets according to the season. 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 which month of the year it is. Read the post to know 8 home remedies for cold and fever.

It is said that to gain immunity in the extreme climatic condition, one should follow seasonal fruits chart in Delhi. Every fruit has nutritional values that are essential for a 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 season they provide immunity to the body from the severe winters.


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


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


There are a 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.


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


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


Huge, sweet and soft Guavas appear on the market in the month of November. Guavas have got medicinal value. We can boost immunity by having guavas in winter.
Banana’s are available throughout the year, they taste and look best in January.  Delhiites says that bananas are good for the winters as it helps 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 good 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 freshly extracted sugarcane juice.


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


The round, brown fruits is 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.


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


When you think of the Delhi winter’s the first image that comes to mind is of the red, green and yellow apples 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 which are 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


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.

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Saturated fat is good for health, claims a new study

Today there was a happy news for all the fatty-food loving people – Someone found out that saturated fat is not harmful for health. So those who advocated against saturated fat in meat,eggs, junk food and hydrogenated oil have to take a pause…

Experts till now said that saturated fat was the cause of heart  diseases, so consumers were advised to read the label on the foods pack before buying. In order to avoid saturated fat many companies promote low or zero fat milk, curd and other daily products.  In all the food tests, the harm of the presence of saturated fat in the food is discussed at length. During comparative food testing of food products in the market, the brand that has the lowest amount of saturated fat are crowned as the healthiest among all the brands. So whom should we believe the old school of thought; or the new discovery! Read about 12 seasonal fruits in Delhi that keeps away diseases.
According to the study saturated fat causes coronary diseases, however the latest studies show that ““low fat” diet showed the greatest decrease in energy expenditure an unhealthy lipid pattern and increased insulin resistance compared with a low carbohydrate and low glycaemic index diet.” 
The new study has raised a number of question:
  • Are the saturated fat only in uncooked foods, like eggs, milk and butter, are good for health.
  • Are the hydrogenated oil – high is saturated fat –  harmless.
  • Can we label as healthy, the food cooked in hydrogenated oils like bread, crackers, cereal, macaroni & cheese, frozen pizza, donuts, and cookies.
The new finding is based is the the first of its kind, and more research is needed to make a thorough conclusion. 
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Lunch box home delivery system

Lunch box home delivery
The ever growing number of kid’s consumer goods, is a matter of concern among parents. Parents are torn between traditional values and peer pressure. As if all the splashy garments and gadgets were not enough, a new industry – the school lunch box home delivery shops –  has entered the kids market segment. Read in this post about the nukkad natak (street play) by consumers about junk food.
The pioneering entrepreneur, of the lunch box home delivery industry, is a woman who wants to help working parents provide kids with healthy lunchbox for school. Place an order in the morning and the lunchbox will be delivered at the door-steps before the kid leaves for school. The menu is healthy; as the entrepreneur, herself a mother, ensures that she caters wholesome and nutritious food for the young customers. Lunch box home delivery is a good substitute for homemade food, once in a while; however substituting homemade lunch boxes entirely with home delivered lunchboxes will be a bad idea. Not only will the children be denied the intake of right amount of nutrition, they will also develop dislike for traditional, staple food. Lunch box home delivery industry is hereto stay. The growing number of time-starved working parents is only increasing the potentiality of the thriving industry, so as to feed the healthy food starved children.
Lunch box home delivery business is its salad days, and it’s growth has to be watched carefully. Since the health of children are at stake there are many challenges that this industry will have to tackle so as to gain the approval of parents and children. Here is a guideline for lunch box home delivery companies to follow so that they earn the patronage of both parents and children:
  1. The lunchbox should taste good when children have the food at lunch breaks.
  2. The food packed should be high in nutritious content
  3. The food should taste like home made food which mama cooks.
  4. Specialize in some recipes that are tasty and nutritious. Too much of variety in menu will help to gather curious customers, however you can only be retained by highlighting your specialty.
  5. Prepare the common dishes of that place. If in chennai prepare more of idli, sambar; and upma. Lunchbox preparing companies should understand that they are appointed to provide the kids with food that contains enough nutrients for the growing period. There is no need of exotic dishes!
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5 Quick lunch box recipe for kid’s

 lunch box recipe
Preparing the lunchbox for children is a challenge for parents. The lunch box recipe usually is bread and jam or cooked instant noodles. The lunch box recipe 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. To know more about lunchbox home delivery system read this post.
  1. Potato tricks: A lunch box recipe that every child will 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 before itself.
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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vegetable recipes for kids

vegetable recipe for kid
Internet is loaded with articles and recipes on how to make vegetable recipe for kid. Do we need to try our hands at exotic vegetarian dishes, so as to make the kids get some nutrition. I don’t think so, ‘coz I believe every child likes some kind of vegetable. Parents use children as an excuse so that they themselves do not have to go on a vegetarian diet. Children like potato chips; and they eat the capsicums, tomatoes and mushrooms on a pizza topping. Learn 5 quick lunchbox recipes in this post. 
 I think the easiest way to make the kids eat vegetables is to make the same vegetable recipe for kid differently every time using different types of vegetables. For instance every time you make sambar, use different kinds of vegetables. Only two vegetables are required to prepare sambar. So next time substitute potato with raw papaya; or carrot  with beetroot (beetroot gives an attractive colour to the sambar).
Every time you make a pizza use two different vegetables. Use carrot and beans one time, next time mushroom and beetroot. The colour combinations of the topping will be inviting.
Traditional recipies, basic ingredients and cooking methods can be followed, but add a little motherly, veggy touch to make the recipe a vegetable recipe for kid.
When a vegetable is included in cooking then the nutrition and flavour of the vegetable mixes in the dish.  As the doctors say, it is ok to drink atleast the gravy of sambar because all nutrition of the vegetable has got mixed in the gravy.
Making vegetable recipe for kid should be done regularly, so that having vegetable becomes a habit with the kid. A habit once created will be there for lifelong. Try cooking leafy vegetables in different ways and the kid will choose atleast one green leafy  vegetable recipe for kid as a favourite.
Parent’s have to put effort from their part so that kid become lovers of vegetable recipe for kid.  All the best!

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