Mini celebration today, re-instate sherbets

Those who finish their ICSE finals today will be relieved, jubilant, feeling free! Rachita, my older daughter, wants to party but Kriti my younger one is still in the midst of her final exams! Well, Alyona can best handle the situation I feel. Rachita was also telling me about some of the smses that have already started doing the rounds for April Fools Day…I mean, this is misusing technology but I guess it is the order of the day.

Off to Dubai and as I have already told you about the Zee Dubai Mega Mela let me also tell you that the food demos have something in store for you: something new and intriguing and brand new compositions, something I call zara hat ke, that are of course, easy to do at home but with an exotic finish. Now, I am not going to reveal the recipes here, YET. I am going to demonstrate two recipes on each of the three days April 1, 2 and 3.

What I also want to do is re-introduce the joys of drinking sherbet at home. This will definitely decrease the ‘need’ for aerated drinks and introduce traditional cooling methods at home. In the earlier times medicinal herbs, vegetable extracts, roots and sandalwood were added to enhance the therapeutic and nutritional properties of sherbets. These were truly healthy! But with time the pure ingredients have slowly made their way out. Sherbets are not just sweet coloured beverages. They are high in vitamin content and are rich sources of natural antioxidants. As most of them are sugar syrup based one should remember that they have calories as well. Sherbets maintain and adjust the body’s water and electrolyte balance, encourage the function of liver and kidneys, check vomiting, diarrhoea and indigestion. The organic types are pure syrups of fruits or floral extracts. You can choose from orange, pineapple, carrot, watermelon, rose, kewra. Synthetic sherbets are made with essences and are not high on my favourite drinks list. Moreover they are slightly acidic too. There is no limit to the types of synthetic sherbets that can be produced!

So what to look out for? Gulab or rose sherbet: Highly held as a blood purifier. If it is made from pure gulab jal that has been distilled from desi gulab petals, then you have something that is anti-acidic, anti-flatulent and rich in antioxidants. Khus sherbet is the pure extract of khus roots. It relieves acidity and purifies blood. The khus extract is obtained through a meticulous process and is blended with herbs to enhance the quality. Intake of khus syrup gives instant relief from heat stroke. It has diuretic properties too. Chandan sherbet is an exotic extract of edible chandan derived through conventional methods. Traditionally it was used as a sedative but it is equally efficient as a cardiac tonic, a stimulant and an antiseptic. It has a soothing effect on skin through its blood purifying properties. It can also be used to alleviate gastric irritability. I could go on about zafrani and badam and faalsa and kokum…..but going to catch a flight now.

And now to give foods a twist and increase the pleasures of April 1.

Cheese Fondue with Pavbhaji Masala

Paan Kulfi

Hariyali Paneer Makhani

Till later then,

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Keep your cool .

If Mumbai is close to 32-36 deg now in March, wonder how things will be some more weeks later! We are feeling the heat! The only solution to keep away from the heat is to remain confined indoors and if possible in the lap of air- conditioned luxury. But life has to go on and there is work to do. The Yellow Chilli is nearly ready and I will be busy in Ahemdabad with that coming month, but first, flying off to Dubai for the Dubai Mela. Will be there from April 1-3.

So how would you brave the elements? The principles are simple: dress simply and wear light coloured cottons, exercise early in the morning or in late evenings, drink a lot of water and fluids and shower more than once a day. Spray on the deodorant lavishly and get that hair cut short. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses and hat and never venture out without them. As far as food intake is concerned indulge in light meals and cold soups and crisp salads. Indulge in homemade ice creams. Mix and match fruity flavours and enjoy.

Salads can be trimmed – replace oil dressings with low fat or yogurt-based dressings. Yogurt has a lot of digestive and cooling properties and it is a confirmed summer food! Make a tall glass of sweet lassi or a salty chaas with roasted cumin powder. Smoothies made with yogurt and fresh fruits are also nourishing beverages in summers. Some summer fruits like melons are best had raw and in handsome quantities.

The electricity bills too go upwards in summers! A good tip I have got from a friend is to keep the air filters in the air conditioners clean and dust free. They are more effective. Also keep the curtains drawn during the day to keep the sun out. Another creative thought is to fill up the hot water bottle with chilled water. Wipe dry and let it cool your bed before you retire.

Chilled delights wait: Yogurt and Chickoo Icecream, Tiramisu Icecream, Jelly Belly Icecream.

Many of you must be ready for the pickling season. Some tips for you next time I write.

Sanjeev Kapoor

Be energised in five easy steps

Good to be back home from Tokyo. What greets you when you land in Mumbai? Obvious answer is heat! And the heat saps one’s energy. How many of you feel almost depleted of energy at least three to four days a week? The first day after the weekend could be one of those days! Then somehow the following three days are mechanical. The day before the weekend break somewhat drags along! A lot of us feel the same simply because our energy levels are not up to the mark. If we keep our body fit the stamina is sustained and the basic requirement for sustained stamina is good nutrition every single day.

I have also met some people who ‘think’ they are leading healthy lifestyles. But they too need to rethink because they also feel a lack of energy throughout the day. It may be easy to grab a cup of coffee or energy drink for a quick pick-me-up, but how about including some energy boosting habits into your lifestyle instead? Secret 1: don’t sleep till late on weekends. You’ll wake up feeling sluggish and tired and feel as if you can’t find your bearings for several hours. Secret 2: we say breakfast is a must! A breakfast with high protein, low calories will keep you alert and awake. 3rd tip: Don’t skip snacks. If you have decided you’re going lose a little weight by cutting out all those midday snacks, but you may be doing more harm than good. Try not to go more than four hours without food if possible. The longer you go without food the hungrier you will be and when you finally do eat you actually may overeat. By eating small snacks throughout the day you are keeping your stomach partially full and are less likely to extend the limit at the big meals. Try to eat snacks that are high in water content like fruits, vegetables, a small salad, or even a soup. A small bit of cheese or a few nuts is another healthy choice. Tip no. 4: Watch the water intake! Stay hydrated, especially before you exercise. And of course have your eight glasses a day. 5 and very important tip: take exercise seriously! Don’t skip the warm up or cool down when exercising. These five basic steps will make you feel energetic throughout the week. To help you along I will link you up with some healthy recipes. Salad greens with Strawberry Vinaigrette, Beetroot Chaas, Brown Pohe.

Soon I will be travelling again. To Dubai. There for the Zee Dubai Mega Mela, an open-air festival celebrating Asian culture taking place from 1-3 April at the Amphitheatre in Dubai Media City. Live shows, loads of good food is waiting for you!

Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Kitchen with no hassles

Have always been impressed by the Japanese style of uncluttered homes! Saw pictures in magazines and now a chance to see them first hand.

Anyway, I have been thinking about how our own kitchens can be organized better. I really do not want to stress on modular kitchens, or small Mumbai kitchens specifically. Any kitchen with an active cook, according to me, should have the focal point where the stove is (gas burner, electric burner etc) and so shall everything remain leashed to this point – you want to have things within reach especially those things that you use the most. Rest of the things put them in the periphery of vision. But a big ‘no’ to have the oil and spices in plain view. Well, you can buy the fancy containers but I would still tell you to put these two things inside a cupboard because these things are best kept in the innards of a dark cupboard. Keeps the quality and flavours going for a longer time.

I can say for myself that I love researching new appliances and then acquiring them! Well, if there is a need and space, then why not? There are so many tempting things that are creatively made to make things easier. Mount them on racks or slip under the shelf. Another space saver is a big spoon holder that allows smaller spoons in the periphery and long handled ladles etc in the centre. These are the things that get mixed up in drawers and one search for the right spoon can test the patience of a good man. If at all you like to organize things in a drawer, get one with separators. So in go the knives in one slot, forks in another, spoons in yet another! And yes, such drawers are also a blessing in the clothes cupboard because they keep the handkerchiefs away from the socks and save you oodles of search time. The fridge and freezer have door shelves. Good place to hide keys but also wonderful to keep small things like bottle openers and can openers, straws, cling film (keeping a roll in the freezer keeps the loose end always ready to pull and use!). Use this space to stack small items that will easily get lost in the deep shelves.

I get transported to the kitchen very easily, don’t I? Well, to give you some nice things to cook up if you are in your kitchen….how about…Alu Kachalu Chaat, Nariyal Puri, Kaju aur Moti Pulao.

In Dubai this weekend for a live show. Will post the details in a day or so.

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Kitchen safety and hygiene, importance of summer

I am in Tokyo enjoying some chilly winds! It is 8 deg and I guess all my talk about eating right for summer suddenly becomes more relevant as India is facing a good summer!
I would like to take up a bit of the HACCP points. The trainer Trupti Bhat made us alert about looking for the ‘date of manufacture’ AND ‘date of best before’ on all products that we purchase. Both should be printed, if it is from a reliable company. Another thing she pointed out is about storing foods as per the instructions on the pack. If the masala packet says store in airtight container once opened, it means that. It is not such a good idea to keep the masala box as it is open in the freezer or in the cupboard. Another aspect she stressed was the hygiene level in the kitchen. Like using tea strainers that are clogged or blackened or simply not clean enough to look as good as new. Important points and I am sure all of you will make use of them. The list is actually long with the chopping board that need to be disinfected, the dish clothes that need to be dried in the sunlight etc.

Summers now are not as bad as a decade ago for the fruit market. Thanks to the world becoming smaller, we have a variety of fruits: grapes are visible, so are oranges and chiku, papaya, muskmelon, watermelon, pineapple, apples, pears, sweet fact, we have a vast choice. Oranges in fact help us to accept the heat! You could probably make a cooling Narangi Shorba which has the goodness of oranges. Well, oranges do sometimes get into a soup! Or for a heavier version (not a la Sumo!) try the Lemon and Tortilla soup, which boasts of pretty strips of tortilla, cooked to perfection in a lemony stock. The theme seems to be leaning toward Vitamin C! Which is essential in summer. Soon we could be gorging on a gorgeously different mango (this King of Fruits definitely makes its presence felt!) and coconut ice-cream.
Light dinners could mean a lovely Methi Chaman Biryani with long basmati in contrast with paneer and corn niblets and a handful each of methi leaves, coriander leaves and mint leaves and fried onions and chopped tomatoes and what-have-you masalas. Dip into some mixed veg raita with this and sweet slumber beckons. How would you like to scroll down to see some cooling recipes that use fruits in detail?
Banana Yogurt Custard, Crunchy Fruits Yogurt and Cheese, Shrikhand Biscuit Pudding.

Happy Summer!
Sanjeev Kapoor.

No onion no garlic is in demand, Hooray for salads

My team is busy with a one day awareness course on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) – more details later as there are points in this which a home kitchen can benefit from immensely.

As a growing organization we see new faces practically every month now. All thanks to the efforts of Sabita Shekhar who has been our “HR” department for the last few months. One woman army. She leaves us today for a good purpose. Everything in the recent past has had her stamp of working style. Sabi, your contribution to the organisation is immense and we all acknowledge it.

I have been swamped with rah rahs for salads! It’s great that many of you have written in appreciating the greatness of a salad for lunch. In fact I would love to share some lesser known secrets of a good salad that I have come across. Did you know that some place a saucer upside down in the bottom of the salad bowl before filling with salad? Excess moisture will run underneath the saucer and this will help keep the salad crisp and fresh. Here’s another one – to give a subtle garlic flavour to salad, cut a flake of garlic and rub the inside of the salad bowl with the cut surface. If beetroot is to be used in any salad, toss it in just before serving the salad or its colour will run into other ingredients. If all these sound familiar read this from an enterprising young lady – try using ice cream cones to serve salads and cut fruits, etc. to your food finicky toddler.

Another great demand is for food without onions and garlic. Giving you three delicious dishes here.

Thank God It’s Saturday, but well, thank God it’s summer too because it gives you a chance to try out delicious cooling drinks that many a parched throat would welcome…try khus syrup with lemon juice, or kairi panna or the good old sweet lassi! Make it differently with a drop of lemon and sweetened with honey instead of sugar. Nice and nutritious! Any of these in lieu of your late afternoon cup of tea is a wonderful idea. For munchies, a bhel or a soft salad sandwich would be ideal. Once you refill yourself at five then a light dinner around eight or so will wind up the day. I will develop some summer dinner ideas over the week end.

Till then, try Jain Dal Makhni, Jain Punjabi Chole, Jain Paneer Makhni. All are yum!

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Add the spark of fun, eating a light lunch

Here in Singapore with my assignment of Singapore airlines, whom I represent in panel for food in this part of the world, but have a little time to take up where I had left the blog the other day. They say all work and no play makes you dull. So to brighten up the ‘work’ atmosphere and to lighten up the work load we did something crazy the other day! Called the bhel wala in office and had a chaat party! Instant bhel, with no mess, to your liking, guaranteed fresh! And so filling too…. I am sure my team will remember this for a long time. Work continues on the photo shoot of the book for fussy kids and each composition is kid friendly.

So as lunch time approaches my tip of the day for summer eating! Yes, I remember. And by now the rate of downing glasses of water would have increased for all of you as the heat increases. But the digestive juices of the stomach have their own clock and let you know that it is lunch time, water or no water!

I suggest for lunch break – a colourful display. Take your pick and make choices. It’s agonising to make decisions when there is a plateful of thin watermelon slices as also a crunchy sprouted moong salad in a big bowl with a dash of lemon and the garnish of green coriander leaves. Sure is picture perfect. What should you do? Fill half a stomach with this. At lunch, the health gods say, fill the stomach three-quarters. So in the rest, (mathematicians would have calculated that only one fourth is empty) I would take a taste of a crisp pudina parantha sans ghee but with a little bowl of fresh yogurt, or take a skim off the saffron and spinach casserole which would be a gala tale of white sauce enveloping pasta, spinach puree, zucchini, broccoli, beans, fully flavoured with summery tastes put to the test in the oven. For those who prefer the fashionable ‘salad’ lunch try the Crostini creation made up of toasted bread flavoured with olive oil and rosemary playing hide and seek with slivers of summer beauties like tomatoes, cucumbers, coloured capsicums and lettuce. My favourite antioxidant salad is this one. Food like this, crunchy and healthy does help to fight the post lunch heavy eye lids.

Navratris have started – no onions, no eggs and no non-veg for next 9 days. Fasting, though a distant possibility, may happen on Ashtami and then gorging on halwa, puri and hare chane…..

Last assignment of the evening was meeting with our restaurant partner of ‘Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana’ of Dubai who specially flew down to discuss further plans. I am there in the first week of April for an event. Have lots in mind to do there.

In case you want visuals and recipes, here goes: Fattoush, Moong moth ka anokha salad, Pasta in Creole Sauce.

Happy eating!

Sanjeev Kapoor