Category Archives: Health Food

Busy Week Baking!

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It’s been quite a week! The incessant rain, the work at home… And of course, my Kitchen Adventures!

We had a family reunion on Sunday at my aunt’s. It was amazing! Almost everyone was there, together after years! Great conversation, alcohol, food! I was requested to bring along dessert… which I did!

On Sunday – Flourless Orange & Almond Cup Cakes with Ginger & Spice Infused Candied Orange Peels

Then my dietitian, who’s helping me on my weight loss quest (Oh have I been cheating! Luckily she doesn’t follow my blog!), requested me to experiment & work on a few baked goods that are healthy…

On Monday - Whole Wheat, Jowar (Sorghum) & Bajra (Millet) Breadsticks And Whole Wheat & Millet Crackers

On Monday – Whole Wheat, Jowar (Sorghum) & Bajra (Millet) Breadsticks
And
Whole Wheat & Millet Crackers

On Tuesday - Oatmeal & Banana Muffins

On Tuesday – Oatmeal & Banana Muffins

And my Ma & Dad had guests coming over for dinner & guess who was in charge of dessert?

On Wednesday – Mocha Almond Cupcakes

And of course I read up a bunch of recipes & wanted to try them all! Maybe next week?

šŸ™‚

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Moong Dal Pudlas (Split Green Gram Pancakes)

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I’m back home!

After a month of TLCĀ at my parents’ following a brief illness & ban from the kitchen, I’m up & about & ready to take on the world! I did start making up for the 3 weeks away from my favourite space by makingĀ this, &Ā thisĀ & of courseĀ thisĀ overĀ at my parents’!

And now…I’m back in my Odd Hour Kitchen, planning menus, packing lunches for the husband… fun stuff!

Here’s my first dish back šŸ™‚

PudlasĀ (Gujarati), Uttapams, Appams & Dosas (South Indian), or Chillas (North India) are various Indian Pancakes or Crepes. The South Indian ones are made with a fermented Rice Flour batter or with Semolina (Rawa). The Gujarati & North Indian ones are made with various Lentils (Dal)Ā or non-fermented Rice Flour batter & even Semolina.

This recipe that I’m going to share with you, is my maternal grandmother’s. She would use Whole Green Gram Beans or Moong,Ā which she soaked overnight. But I didn’t have any Ā yesterday & I wanted to keep the batter ready in the fridge for this morning’s breakfast, so I want ahead & used the Split Green Gram orĀ Moong Dal.

Moong Dal

These Pancakes are very easy to make & perfect for a heavy breakfast or a light-ish dinner. They use a little oil, but are Carb & Gluten Free… so they aren’t bad for you either! In fact they are high in Vitamins A, B, C & E & Minerals like Calcium, Potassium & Iron. TheĀ DalĀ is rich in Protein & Fibre & a perfect food to help you in your weight-loss regime šŸ™‚

Ingredients

Soaked Moong Dal

  • 3/4 cup Moong Dal /Ā Split Green Gram (soaked for 4-5 hours)
  • 2 small Onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 inch piece Ginger (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 Green ChilliesĀ (finely chopped)
  • 4-5 cloves GarlicĀ (finely chopped)
  • 2 TomatoesĀ (finely chopped)
  • CorianderĀ (finely chopped)
  • Cumin Seeds /Ā Jeera
  • Salt
  • Oil

Method

The Batter

  1. Grind theĀ DalĀ in a food procession with the ginger, garlic, green chillies & 1/4 of the onions. Do not add any extra water.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the remaining onions, cumin & salt.
  3. The batter is supposed to be a bit thick, like porridge. But, if you feel it is too thick, add a little water.
  4. Heat a flat non-sitck pan or skillet & grease it with a little oil. Drop a ladle-full of the batter as you would normally for pancakes. Sprinkle some tomatoes & coriander. Once you see the edges come away from the pan, drizzle a little oil around the pancake.Carefully flip the pancake to cook the other side.
  5. Serve hot with a Sweet Chilli Sauce or Mint Chutney or Yogurt.

This Recipe makes about 16 Pancakes.

The batter can be stored in the fridge & used over the next 2 days.

Chocolate & Banana Pancakes

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It’s summer time in Bombay! And that means it’s time for Summer Workshops all over the City! And thatĀ means I am employed for the month! When you freelance… thatĀ isĀ a big deal!

I am trying to get back to my old early morning routine… up by 5.30 am & out of the house by 8.15 am… & using the time in between to exercise (still trying to be regular about that!), make & eat a good healthy breakfast & pack an equally good & healthy lunch for the husband & me.

What I love about being on a diet at this point in my life is that I do have the time to cook! (Even with theĀ occasional project like this one!)Ā  Up until now, whenever I was on one (& there have been many over the past 12 odd years!) I never could spend much time planning & making the kind of meals I would’ve liked. So I was stuck eating quick fix meals like steamed veggies or soup made for a week & frozen or boiled egg whites or… did I mention steamed veggies? Boring!! Now that I am totally giving in to my food obsession & I can dream up, plan & cook whatever I want… making sure it’s healthy andĀ delicious šŸ™‚

MyĀ foodie partner in crime, Priti,Ā like me, constantly struggles with wantingĀ to eat food that isĀ oh so good! & the needĀ to healthy. Most of our lunch dates start out with good intentions to eat light, eat right & eat healthy… & end up with the two of us in a blissful food coma! Seriously… no regrets! But recently, once again we have been trying to support each other towards healthier goals.

The other day Priti called, saying she gave in to a pancake craving… I don’t blame her, I’d give in to one any day of the week! Now pancakes are always delicious, but they don’t have toĀ be unhealthy, right?

So this one is for Priti, me & all of us that crave a Pancake BreakfastĀ (or lunch, or dinner) without the guilt šŸ™‚

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Oats (ground coarsely)
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Ā 1/4 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/2 Egg
  • 1 small Banana
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Honey
  • 1 – 2 squares Dark Chocolate (chopped into pieces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon Sugar

Method

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together, except the last 2.
  2. On a non-stick pan melt a teeny, tiny, next-to-nothing smidgen of butter & pour in half the batter.
  3. When little bubbles start forming on the surface of the pancake, sprinkle 1/2 the chocolate pieces over it & flip it.
  4. Once cooked serve it hot with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon sugarĀ sprinkledĀ over it.
  5. Use the remaining batter, chocolate & cinnamon sugar to make the 2nd pancake.

A filling, satiating breakfast, very satisfying breakfast… the dark chocolate complements the sweet banana & honey beautifully…. mmmmmmm šŸ™‚

This recipe makes 2 yummy-licious, totally guilt-free pancakes!

Basa… En Papillote

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The past 5-6 days were super hectic but fun, starting with the Maharashtrian New Year, Gudi Padwa, on Thursday & a steady stream of family visiting over the weekend. Food of course played a very important part in the festivities! Puran Poli (sweet, thin flatbread stuffed with jaggery & lentils), little date & nut squares (which were actually sugar-free), MangoĀ Shrikhand… Sweets always take centre stage during Indian festivals! It took a lot of will power to not reach out for the mango & yogurt dessert, though I couldnā€™t resist a bite of the Poli! The main courses too were rich & masaledar (spicy)… mutton curry, kheema (minced mutton), prawns, chicken, served with wada (small, flat, deep fried rice & white gram flour flat bread, shaped like donuts) & neer dosa (light rice flour pancakes)… sigh…my diet!

Anyway, although the food was tasty beyond words, we had had quite enough of the heavy, fiery flavours. It was time for a palate cleanser, something light, fresh & flavourful without the excesses. It was time for my favourite fish… Basa!

I wanted to use a new recipe book I had recently bought & try a technique I had never used before. And luckily for me the Easy Everyday Simple Cookbook (edited by Anne McDowell) had just the thing… a recipe for a Basque Baked Haddock in Parchment or ā€œEn Papilloteā€ (French). I had Basa in my freezer so went ahead & used that instead.

ā€œEn Papilloteā€ is a cooking technique where fish, poultry, meat or even vegetables are wrapped in parcels of parchment paper & baked. The moisture from the food itself or from water, stock or wine is held in by the paper to steam it. In some traditional South East Asian, Indian & Parsi dishes the meat or fish is wrapped in banana or cassava leaves & then steamed or grilled, which also adds a subtle flavour to the food.

I had first heard the word ā€œEn Papilloteā€ on MasterChef Australia. I was an avid follower of the show, which in many ways influenced the way I looked at cooking, specially the non-Indian, Global Cuisine. Almost every episode was an ā€œA-ha! So thatā€™s how they do it?ā€ or ā€œWow! Iā€™ve gotta try that at home now!ā€ moments! More often than not, the husband & I would be watching the show (yup… this was one show that I watched which actually interested him!) while eating dinner…terrible idea! Because there we were in our living room with our plates of Okra & Roti (whole-wheat flatbread)… BORING!! While on screen, the contestants would be prettily plating up dishes like Roast Pork Belly with Seared Scallops & Apple Brandy Sauce or Stuffed Middle Eastern Snapper with Onion Rice & Salsa! And the desserts…OMG! I could cry! So then I started revising my dinner menus a bit. Even if it was a simple Indian dish or even an omelette or a sandwich, I made an effort to make sure I served it pretty J Then we didnā€™t feel as left out!

ā€œEn Papilloteā€ seemed exotic & somehow I never got around to cooking with that technique. Well thereā€™s always a first time, I guess! So here it is, my first attempt… Basa ā€œEn Papilloteā€!

Ingredients

  • 800 gm Basa fillets
  • Ā½ each red, green & yellow bell peppers (finely chopped)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tomatoes (skinned, seeded & finely chopped)
  • Juice & Zest of 1 Orange
  • 4 tablespoons White Wine
  • Black Olives
  • 1 tablespoon Basil
  • a handful of Coriander
  • Chilli flakes
  • Dried Herbs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Sheets of Baking Parchment Paper

Note: The original recipe asked for:

  • Only Red & Green Peppers, I added the Yellow ones ā€˜coz I had them & I love the colour!
  • Juice of 1 Lemon, which I didnā€™t have, so I used Orange instead & added the zest for good measure.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Oregano, none in the fridge, so threw in the Basil & Coriander
  • I added the Chilli Flakes ā€˜coz hey, weā€™re Indian & we love the heat!

Method:

  1. Mix together in a bowl all the ingredients, except for the fish & olives, like a salad.
  2. Cut the parchment into squares larger than the size of the fillet. I could not manage squares for some reason (Iā€™m geometrically challenged I think!) so made rectangles.
  3. Place a piece of fish on the parchment & spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the salad over it. Scatter olives too.
  4. If youā€™ve managed a square, fold the parchment over the fish to make a triangle. If not, just fold it tightly over the fish to make whatever shape you can (like I did!) Either way, remember to fold the edges together tightly to make a sealed parcel. Repeat this with all the fillets.
  5. Arrange the parcels on a baking tray & bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 – 190C for 20 min

Note: If the size of fish fillets is small, then you could arrange 2 ā€“ 3 pieces per parcel. Cut the paper accordingly.

Serve immediately! It tastes best piping hot! You could serve it with some garlic bread & buttered mushrooms (like I did) or any other side-dish you might like. The fish is steamed to perfection, absorbing all the flavours beautifully. The dish is truly very simple, healthy & easy to put together & yet looks & tastes gorgeous!

Ā Ā This recipe serves 4

Baked Yogurt With Figs & Honey

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It was a happy day indeed!

My 16 month old nephew, Aviloo (his older brother calls him that, so we do too!), looked at a picture of me & said “Maasi”Ā (maternal aunt in my native Gujarati)!! He has just about started talking & after saying “Mama”, “Papa”, “Bird”, & “Ball”… it’s “Maasi“! Of course MimimaĀ (his grandmother & my mum), NanaĀ (his grandfather & my dad) &Ā MaasaĀ (my husband) are extremely upset šŸ˜‰


The best thing in the world is to have a sister! I’ve always wanted an older brother too, but I wouldn’t trade my sister for all the chocolate in the universe! She’s been my pillar, my all time-go-to, my best friend! So then the worst thing about having a sister is that it’s so very, very difficult if she lives far away from you! And especially if she has 2 little boys you love the most!

Her older son, Ahaan, is 3 & at that magical age when everything is about stories & questions & drama & discoveries & tantrums… a very entertaining age if you are the doting aunt waiting for daily updates about “What did Ahaan say / do today?” Not so sure if you are the Mom or Dad being constantlyĀ bombardedĀ with Whys, Hows, Whats & ofĀ course the NOs!

And little Ahir or Aviloo who is in his own quiet way lighting up our lives with bright dimpled smiles, cuddles, squeals of delight & wonder at everything, wanting to explore, do things his brother does. When Nandini called to tell me he said “Maasi”,Ā I was super excited & very moved. I haven’t been around the tot or spoken to him as much as I did with his brother & yet he called my name!

How I wish I was with them! I miss them so much!

Silly as it may sound, I wanted to make something to celebrate & also in a way bridge the geographical distance.

My sister, my brother-in-law & my nephews are vegetarian. She complains constantly that I don’t post enough vegetarian & egg-free dishes. So here is a dessert I have been meaning to try my hand at, using the one ingredient the boys can’t get enough of… Yogurt!

Since I am on a health trip & attempting to make desserts that are not onlyĀ deliciousĀ butĀ healthyĀ too, I will not make this one an exception. Almost all the recipes I looked at needed condensed milk. Sneaking spoonfuls of sweet condensed milk & Nutella from the fridge late at night… is a very comforting childhood memory. I love it! And it’s been years since had some. But tempting as it was to use the real thing, I looked for a healthy substitute. I’m so proud of my restraint!

I decided to make condensed milk at home!I foundĀ a recipeĀ that seemed the simplest & most hassle-free. And no, I did not substitute the sugar! That would be asking for too much! I just cut down the quantity of sugar šŸ™‚

Ingredients for Condensed Milk

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Instant Powdered Milk
  • 1/2 cup Warm Water
  • 3/4 cup SugarĀ 

Note:Ā I thought 3/4 cups Sugar was too much so I usedĀ 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Brown SugarĀ +Ā 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract.Ā The next time, I may useĀ 1/2 cup or less.

Method

  1. Mix the powdered milk & warm water in a bowl.
  2. Set the bowl in a pan of hot water & stir in sugar & Ā vanilla extract until dissolved.
  3. You may want to set it in the refrigerator or use it once it reaches room temperature.

This recipe makes 1 1/4 Cups

Ā I have adapted the following recipe fromĀ Meatless Monday’s Apricot Pistachio Baked Yogurt

Ingredients for Baked Yogurt

Ā  Ā 

  • 2 cups Low Fat Ā Yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cup Home-made Condensed Milk
  • 2 Figs
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 2-3 Cloves

Method

  1. Tightly bind the yogurt in a muslin cloth, place it on a sieve over a bowl & keep aside in the refrigerator for about 30-40 minutes.
  2. Once the water has drained out & the yogurt is thick & creamy, combine it with the condensed milk until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into a medium sized baking dish or individual ramekins & place in roasting pan filled with water & bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes

  1. Meanwhile heat water with star anise, cloves & honey & add the figs.
  2. Turn the heat off after a few minutes & let the figs stew for a bit in the spice infused honeyed water.
  3. Pour the fruit over the baked yogurt & serve warm or chilled.

The boys will surely love this but I think I too, may have discovered one of my favourite non-chocolate desserts! It is light, creamy, a bit like caramel custard in texture. The star anise & cloves cut through the sweetness of the figs & honey & add another dimension to the flavour.

This recipe serves 4-6 people

Strawberry Cake with An Orange-Basil Glaze

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IĀ HAD to bake today! It has been so long since IĀ last baked.

This cake was put together with such a sense of urgency! Almost as if I didn’t bake right then & there, something awful would happen! After a pretty harrowing past couple days, I knew where this was coming from. There’s a whole lot of change going on in my life. I am pretty good with that usually, in fact I thrive on it. It suits my restless Gemini spirit just fine, adapting to Ā new experiences, new feelings… reworking things to make it all Ā fit & brand new. But sometimes change comes with a sense of losing control… of yourself, the situation. You tell yourself to be patient & ride with the tide, more often than not, it works. But there are days when my “Zen”-ness all but disappears…Ā I so desperatelyĀ needed some Kitchen Therapy!

I didn’t bother with photographs or music & just got right down to it!

Ā I wanted to use Strawberries (they were heading to the trash-can in a couple days!) & Oranges (just bought a dozen yesterday). And of course it all had to be “almost” in sync* with my diet plan & diabetic-friendly since my mother-in-law is visiting.

I remembered reading a scrumptious Ā Apple Yogurt Tea CakeĀ recipe onĀ Sam’s blog, Le PirateĀ & used that as the base reference for my cake. I didn’t have macadamia oil, so I used olive; substituted the sugar with Sugar-Free tablets; used a combination of whole wheat flour & oat meal instead of plain flour, & added some crushed roasted peanuts I had leftover fromĀ yesterdayĀ & an orange-basil glaze just for fun!

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1.5 cups Oat Meal
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3 tablespoons Crushed Roasted Peanuts
  • 15Ā tablets Sugar Free / Sweet ‘n’ Low powdered / 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Yogurt (beaten well)
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 150-200 gm Strawberries (chopped)
  • Zest & Juice of 2 small Oranges

For the Glaze*

  • Juice of 2 Oranges
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • A few leaves Basil (roughly chopped)

*The reason why this is “almost” in sync with my diet plan. You could avoid the glaze, but then again…

Method

Cake

  1. Whisk together the oat meal, whole wheat flour, peanuts, Sugar Free tablets, orange zest & baking powder & soda, Ā & toss in the chopped Strawberries.
  2. Beat the eggs well & add vanilla extract, yogurt, olive oil, orange juice & whisk well.
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry one & combine it gently. Don’t over-mix.
  4. Adjust the consistency of the batter with milk.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for about 30-40 minutes

Glaze

  1. Heat the orange juice & brown sugar mixture with basil leaves on a low flame till the sugar melts & the consistency turns syrupy. Strain & keep aside till the cake is done.Ā 
  2. Use a skewer to poke some holes on the cake & pour the syrup over it while still hot.

Oat-Meal & Whole Wheat Cake with Strawberries & Orange-Basil Glaze

And Sam is so right… this cake hardly takes any time to put together &Ā in spiteĀ of using oat meal & whole wheat flour, instead of refined, plain flour, the cake still turned out wonderfully moist, soft & oh, so delicious!

This recipe makes a 7 inch loaf… a perfect breakfast treat for a harrowed girl on a diet… guaranteed to make you feel better šŸ™‚