Veggies are in vogue!

Plant based substitutes are hot on the culinary scene in 2016. From spiralised veggies and cauliflower crust pizzas to cauliflower rice, vegetable chips and steaks – creative uses of vegetables is the in-thing and everything is going plant based! Good news for the vegetarians, and time for some change for the meat eaters! Read on…

Cauliflowered!

Cauliflower saw its use in various versions in the year 2015 and it still is going to be in fashion in the coming days. So, it’s more and more of this white vegetable everywhere. You can use it to make a rice, steak, pancakes, pizza crust or even bulk-up your mashed potatoes – go healthy with your favourite foods. We teach you a simple, yet fabulous Cauliflower Rice right here:

Grain Free Cauliflower Rice - YT

Mix up grated cauliflower and broccoli in a pot full of boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes. Strain and cool. Sauté chopped garlic in olive oil till light golden, add cooked cauliflower and broccoli, cook for 1-2 minutes. Season right with salt, crushed peppercorns, mix and let it get heated through. Sprinkle chopped parsley and mix. Off the heat and its good to go!

Oodles of noodles!

Create your kind noodles/pastas with spiralised veggies – zoodles with zucchini and coodles with carrot! Or you can choose any other vegetable you like – innovate with beetroot, radish and so on. Use your choice of sauce or make an aglio e olio, these are fun, add a dash of colour in your dishes and level-up the health quotient for sure. Try this one here (a bit of cheese would do no harm):

Zucchini Pasta 7

Sauté chopped garlic in olive oil till golden. Add chopped onion, sauté till translucent. Throw in some halved cherry tomatoes, stir for a minute. Season with salt, pepper powder and mix. Add mixed zucchini and carrot strips, toss for a minute or two. Switch off the flame, sprinkle some parmesan cheese powder and torn basil leaves. Mix and serve at once!

All for chips!

Kale, sweet potato, beetroot, raw banana, radish or whatever you want to experiment with. Just slice them real thin and bake them to perfection instead of frying for that ultimate crisp bite! Veggie chips are nutritious. Veggie chips are unique. Veggie chips are super. Here is a Kale Chips recipe right from our bank:

Kale Chips 1 - YT

Tear fresh kale and scatter them on a baking tray. Drizzle some olive oil and mix gently. Put the tray in a preheated oven at 150ºC and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove, sprinkle salt and some parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Yes, it is that easy!

Do tell us what you think the food trends of 2016 will be.

Raising the flag

The Standard Charted Marathon has evolved into a tradition that I look forward to each year, just like the cause, Autism, that I run for has become something that I totally and wholeheartedly believe in. The forum for autism is a parent support group, which does a commendable job, day in and day out, making life for autistic people easier. Running and garnering support for this cause gives a whole new perspective to my life. A big thank you to Chef Ranveer Brar, Ravi and Chitra Iyer, my colleagues, family members and friends for making the marathon this year a memorable one- The dream run is indeed help fulfilling some dreams.

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You can know more about the forum for Autism here. http://forumforautism.org/about-us/

While on the topic, not all causes need a monetary donation and our precious time works just as well. The NDTV Cleanathon is one such thing.

The NDTV Cleanathon requires each one of us to aim and work for a cleaner India, together and by starting from our very own homes, streets and surroundings. Sharing the stage with Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign ambassador was inspiring as always. Along with my team of 40,000 entrepreneurs of WonderChef, my team members at SK Restaurants have pledged 2.4 Lac hours towards in the next 1 year. Along with support and pledges from several prestigious individuals and organizations, the 12 hour live Cleanathon on Sunday garnered a total of 1.16 crore hours this year for clean-up drives across India. It’s time each one of us does the little things that make our bodies, minds, home environment, society, city and country clean and green and beautiful – like it is meant to be!

Go ahead and pledge your time here http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/pledge-time-join-clean-drive-across-india/

It’s a great cause and plus it is YOU who is going to reap the benefits of a clean, healthy and beautiful India!

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Raise the flag, spread awareness and do your bit for a cause everyone should believe in.

Start today start now to realize the dream of a #swachchbharat!

#mycleanIndia #swachhbharat #cleanathon #ndtvcleanathon #mumbaimarathon #forumforautism #cause #support #india

Hacks to an easy day in the kitchen

Need a fuss-free, quick-fix idea with your favourite ingredients? Well, here are some kitchen hacks that will surely make your life easier! And they are super cool, just enough to blow your mind! Check them out.

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  1. Merry marinades

Try out these combinations for that easy-peasy marinade for your chicken. You don’t need to look-out for exotic ingredients. Just use things of the shelf and stir a tasty base.

  • For a basic 3-ingredient one with Asian and tropical flavours – mix up 2 tbsps pineapple juice and 2 tsps fish sauce with ¼ cup coconut milk.

  • For a sweet basic one, go with this 4-ingredient fix – mix up 2 tbsps red wine vinegar, 2 tsps mustard paste and 2 tsps honey with ¼ cup olive oil.

  • Love your liquors? Try this – mix up 2 tbsps lemon juice, 2 tsps sea salt, 1 tsp brandy and 1 tsp red wine with ¼ cup oil.

  1. Honestly healthy

You want to eat your favourite food and watch those extra kilos too!? That’s easy. We give you simple yet tasty substitutes that you can opt for on a daily routine.

  • Give a miss to the oily French Fries by baking veggie slices to get exciting options. Kale, sweet potato, beetroot, zucchini and raw banana or whatever you wish to. Sprinkle your favourite spice mix to make them zingier!

  • Love you sandwiches? So, next time use a simple avocado spread/guacamole or sesame butter/tahini instead of the fattening mayonnaise.

  • Create nutritious pancakes with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, buttermilk and finish off by topping with fresh fruits like berries, bananas, peaches instead of artificial syrups.

  • Instead of sugar, use fresh dates and honey as a sweetener for your yummy shakes and smoothies.

  • Craving for spaghetti? Try the new avatar – sauté garlic in olive oil. Add onion, sauté till translucent. Dunk in cherry tomatoes, cook for a minute. Season with salt, crushed peppercorns, mix. Add green and yellow zucchini strips and carrot strips, toss for a minute. Finish with a dash of parmesan, basil.

  1. Good grains

Still worked-up about not getting your grains perfectly done? Put a print-out on your refrigerator or sticky-note this how-to guide in your kitchen.

  • Quinoa and millets – 2 cups water for 1 cup quinoa/millets. Dry-roast grains before adding water and cook covered for 20 minutes on low heat.

  • Barley – 3 cups water for 1 cup barley. Boil, cook covered for 30-45 minutes on low heat.

  • Oats – 2 cups water for 1 cup oats. Boil, cook covered for 10-20 minutes on low heat. Keep stirring in between.

Just a few of them in here. Keep reading and following us for more such cool stuff. And remember sharing is caring.

Dum laga ke haisha!

As Indians, we all love when our biryanis and certain authentic curries are done to perfection on dum! Dum is nothing but one of the ways that falls under the ‘slow cooking’ category. A cooking method that is back in vogue and people around the world are readily accepting it. Hyderabadi_Dum_Gosht_Biryani

Any kind of food preparing method that depends on low-heat usage for a long time can fall under the ‘slow cooking’ technique. As already stated, dum in Indian cooking is one of the best examples alongwith others like low-heat ovens, pit cooking, barbecues, etc., that are common worldwide.

So, why slow cooking is back, and that too with a bang!? Lies in the irony of our lives. The faster it became, the more we looked out for solutions that made life fuss-free. Gone are the days when we actually sit and ponder over what we want to eat in our meals (unless of course if it’s a weekend). By the time we reach home, our head doesn’t allow us to put in that extra effort to cook (even if the heart wants us to do that!).

Thus, the conclusion – speed of cooking inversely proportional to the speed of life! It’s as simple as that.

Hence, the idea of slow cooking does best for this fast paced life – take a cooking utensil, throw in the meats/veggies alongwith seasoning and spices and let it simmer on low heat. And by the time you freshen up and get back to eat, voila! You have a complete meal ready – hearty, nutritious and delicious! Plus you saved your time and energy that you can put-in on relishing the final dish! Cool, isn’t it?

Proves absolutely useful for bachelors and spinsters too – the ones who go weak on their knees even with the thought of cooking the simplest of meals! You can almost swear by this method to prep-up some great homemade dishes. What better can the feel be – it saves you from the guilt of feeding on fast-food or restaurant food daily!

Top 5 reasons to ‘slow-cook’

  1. Makes food extremely soft by breaking down the hard connective tissues. So, great for fibrous veggies and tough cuts of meats.

  2. Provides better results as flavours are infused with one another over time. Brings out the best.

  3. To achieve a uniform level of cooking of a huge quantity, without burning or drying.

  4. Want to dissolve your pastas, potatoes or beans into stews? Go for slow-cooking.

  5. Long-cooking times can automatically create a festive atmosphere with food being the centre of attraction. Use the slow-cooking method to create your unique dishes for that special gathering!

But just remember these few cons…

  1. Not a good option for caramelising certain food ingredients.

  2. You cannot expect to get crunchiness on food with this method. For obvious reasons!

  3. If you want to keep those burst of flavours distinct and avoid mixing of them with one another, you definitely shouldn’t be opting for slow cooking.

So, you already gotten yourselves to slow cooking? Well, master it with investing in the right type of gadgets as well – everything from the simple slow cooker, stock pot and casserole to the fancy high-end combi-oven and Sous Vide cookers are available in the market. You just need to decide on your preference, get one of these and use them whenever you plan to slow cook.

As I end, here’s a list of some of my favourite food that is slow cooked. These include not just the non-veg fare like a flavourful Paya Shorba, Dum Murgh, Hyderabadi Dum Gosht Biryani, Dum ki Kaliyan (I put it up on my restaurant, The Yellow Chilli’s menu too!) but even veg dishes like Qaabooli (a traditional Hyderabadi biryani with rice and Bengal gram), Lehsuni Tendli, Tinda Dum Tamatar, Dum Paneer Mitti Handi (done in earthenware to enhance the flavours all the more!), some international stews, one-pot meals, etc.

I would definitely recommend all to try these recipes out, the way they are supposed to be. Just log onto www.sanjeevkapoor.com and get going.

Happy slow cooking!

Popular sauces with Nutralite

Never out of fashion – a good luscious sauce can add plenty of oomph and dress up a dish instantly. We give you our top picks and also tell you how Nutralite makes these jazzier. The best thing about Nutralite is that it would taste just like the normal butter, but at the same time will be much healthier. While other spreads may contain harmful trans fats that increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood, Nutralite is one product that does not contain these fats. You may have loved these sauces till now, but you will love them more now when you’ll know that these are better in all ways.

Butterscotch makes things better

The quintessential ‘butterscotch’ is one of those sauces that has takers from all age groups – kids to mid-aged to old-aged. A simple ice cream gets dressed in the most amazing way when you drizzle a little of this one on top. The authentic recipe will have brown sugar, milk/cream and butter. Replace the brown sugar with normal sugar and you get a variation that’s Caramel. So, this time you make these sauces, substitute the butter with Nutralite and create a healthier version! And then use these as creatively as you can:

  • You might have had chocolate filled with butterscotch. How about some chocolate coated with butterscotch? An exciting reversal!

  • Try coating besan laddoos with butterscotch!

  • The good old Caramel Popcorn is always a favourite too.

  • Finish off a Trifle Pudding with it or pour it on hot Apple Pie, soft Muffins or drizzle it on freshly made cakes. Divine!

  • Sundaes will bask in the glory of butterscotch and you can splash some chocolate syrup too, they are allies!

  • Use the sauce to dress up a mocktail, milkshake or simply pour in spoonfuls in your cup of coffee. You do it once, you do it again and again!

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Go cheesy

Cheese makes everything better. The mild Cheese Sauce gives you plenty of room to have fun with flavours and spices, but we say keep the seasonings simple and play around with different types of cheese like stringy mozzarella or chunky cheddar! Just get your hands on the Nutralite and create this simple one: melt Nutralite in a pan, add a spoonful of refined flour and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Make sure that it doesn’t turn brown. Add milk, whisk making sure there are no lumps. Add plenty of cheese and mix well. Pass through a sieve to ensure lump free smoothness and use it as a delicious dip. Try a version by adding a hint of saffron and some chillies to it!

Hola! To Healthy Hollandaise

There is no denying the irresistibility of a perfectly made hollandaise sauce. The trick is to whisk the eggs constantly while pouring in a thin stream of butter till both these ingredients together create a luscious hollandaise. And with Nutralite too, you can achieve the same result. Its just going to be nicer and would be perfect with your eggs, poached fish and veggies! You can also use it as a spread for your sandwiches and burgers.

Another version to the Hollandaise would be a rich, aromatic Béarnaise Sauce that will be great with your grilled meats. Similar to the process with just an addition of a flavouring ingredient alongwith crushed peppercorns will give you this smooth sauce. Use Nutralite here as well!

For wine lovers

The simple Beurre blanc is the sauce! Infact, it is so quick to make that this sauce can be done as emergencies! The luxurious sauce made with butter and wine is a great pairing with fish and seafood. Just make sure to use chilled Nutralite while whipping this one up.

10 most expensive ingredients in the world – #10 – Edible Gold (Gold Leaf/Gold Dust)

The goodness of gold!

Finally, we wrap up the list of 10 most expensive ingredients in the world with Edible Gold (Gold Leaf/Dust). A quick recap on the previous ones:

  • Kopi Luwak
  • Matsutake Mushroom
  • Yubari Melon
  • Caviar
  • Truffles
  • Coffin Bay King Oysters
  • Hop Shoots
  • Moose Milk Cheese
  • Saffron

With $15,000 as the estimated price per pound, Edible Gold in the form leaves and dust dates back to the 16th century where it was used by the Italian Dukes and Earls to decorate their risottos. It was also used in medicines by the Alchemists of the 15th century, on fruits in luxurious banquets by the Elizabethans and by the Japanese in their food and sake for centuries.

And you thought gold could only be jewellery?

#10 – Edible Gold (Gold Leaf/Gold Dust)

How is gold edible? As this expensive food is a metal that is ‘biologically inert’ which means it doesn’t get absorbed by the digestive tract as it passes through it. Hence, it becomes pretty much consumable.

Whether you use it as a garnish on dishes or as floating gold flecks in beverages, make sure you select gold that is pure – 22-24 carats is what you should look for. A carat value less than this would mean that the gold is impure and can be harmful for consumption.

While it’s not exactly possible to create a dish completely of edible gold, we bring to you some of the dishes from around the world that use this pricey metal in one or the other way, alongwith other pricey ingredients. Check these out

  1. Le Burger Extravagant priced at $295 in New York’s Serendipity 3 Restaurant.
  2. Douche Burger priced at $666 at 666’s Burger, a New York City based Food Truck.
  3. The Golden Bagel priced at $1,000 in New York’s Westin Hotel.
  4. Billion Dollar Popcorn priced at $1000 per kg at Berco’s Popcorn, Chicago.
  5. The Golden Opulence Sundae priced at $1,000 in New York’s Serendipity 3 Restaurant.
  6. White Truffle and Gold Leaf Pizza priced at $2,400 at Margo’s Pizzeria, Malta.
  7. Lancashire Wagyu and Mushroom Pie priced at $14,260 or $1,781 per slice at The Fence Gate Inn, Lancashire.
  8. Fabergé Chocolate Cake priced at $34,500 at Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in Windermere, Cumbria.

Wouldn’t you now want to give edible gold a try? Actually, you must as it’s going to be an experience in itself.

So, here we are, done with our list of expensive ingredients in the world. What’s on your list of expensive ingredients? Tell us about it, share your experiences with us. We are waiting to hear from you!

10 most expensive ingredients in the world – #9 – Saffron

It more than makes sense to put the ‘most expensive spice in the world’ at a decent number 5th position in this list after Kopi Luwak, Matsutake Mushroom, Yubari Melon and Caviar. Yes, it’s the saffron or zaffran a.k.a kesar in Hindi, which is easily termed as ‘Prada’ in the spice world!

Just to make things clearer, the expense quotient is directly proportional to either complexity to harvest or scarcity. And we give you reasons for this – saffron is prepared by drying the deep-hued stigmas of the crocus sativus flower and it takes 70,000-250,000 of these carefully hand-picked stigmas to make 1 pound! Also, there’s a time when these must be harvested – which should be just before sunrise to 10 am in the morning! Why so? Because if these are left in the plant for long, they will lose their aroma and colour! Too much of a work!

Saffron

#9 – Saffron

Saffron is expensive! Infact many feel that is pricier than gold because of the amount of labour that goes behind its harvest. Fortunately, one needn’t require large amounts to add that special touch in their dish, as adding too much might make your dish bitter besides being toxic. Some of the best produce comes from Kashmir in India besides Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Spain and Greece.

A culinary delight

The exotic saffron has its use in a variety of dishes, both national and international. Some of the culinary literature also defines its aroma from scent-like, subtle and flowery to earthy, spicy and even medicinal! We give you some trivia about certain cuisines/dishes in which saffron is used in abundance. Read on…

  • Foods like risotto and individual ingredients like potatoes, spinach, eggs, mushrooms and seafood are paired absolutely well with this spice.
  • We all know about the flavourful and aromatic Indian ‘Biryanis’ and mithais seldom of which are prepared without the use of saffron. Other international dishes like Spanish ‘Paella’ and ‘Sopas de Pescado,’ Persian ‘Pilaf,’ Moroccan Chicken and Lamb preps and French ‘Bouillabaisse’ also use it.
  • Quite a few Italian liqueurs and spirits, like ‘Strega Herbal Liqueur’ and ‘Fernet Branca’ use this as an ingredient in their making.

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Best way to use

To use saffron, either infuse a few threads in a cup of hot milk or water and add the coloured liquid towards the end of cooking or crumble the threads and add directly to the pot. Alternatively, dry roast, crumble and then steep the crumbled threads. Unlike other spices, a good pinch will suffice to add flavour and colour in most dishes.

Besides these you can try innovating authentic dishes with a dash of saffron in them. Some of my favourites include Saffron Seafood Bisque, Asparagus with Saffron chilli Cheese Sauce, Kesari Pulao, Kesari Phirni and Orange Caramel Custard with Saffron…the list can just go on and on!

These recipes and a lot more are waiting for you at www.sanjeevkapoor.com. Our YouTube channel sanjeevkapoorkhazana also has a long-list of exciting saffron recipes. Don’t forget to check them out too!

All you need to do now is to go get your pack of saffron (in case you haven’t till now!) and use it the way you want to. Just keep in mind not to overuse! And definitely don’t forget to share your kesar tales and recipes with us. We, as always, will be happy to receive them!

Till we decide on our next top expensive ingredient, do spread the knowledge by sharing and leave your valuable feedback for us!