There’s goodness in my soup!

Half of 2010 gets done today. It seems like yesterday that we were all wishing our friends some good wishes for the new 2010! Anyway, time to take stock and see where we are and where we want to reach and then change tracks or pick up speed if on the right track!

Taking stock also reminds me something little that we do at home in the rainy season. Keep a stock of food and essential pulses, masalas, tins and milk in tetrapacks. Never know when you need them on a rainy day. We also enjoy a variety of soups in the rainy season. They need not be hot, can be cold – something like Gazpacho.

Secret of a good soup is its foundation – a good stock. Thin soups in general are lower in nutritive content as compared to thick soups. Chicken sweet corn and green pea soups are especially valuable for their protein content. A bowl of spinach soup provides one third of an adult’s daily iron requirements. So if it is protein you are looking for try chicken, fish, egg, meat, lentils and beans as main ingredients in your soup. If you are wanting a vitamin and mineral rich soup make soups using vegetables like spinach, celery, carrot, peas, sprouts, cabbage and lettuce. South Indian rasam and saaru, the saar from Maharashtra and the osaman from Gujarat are light soups. Not only are they low in calories but are also a good source of vitamins and minerals.

A mixed vegetable soup is a clever way of giving vegetables to your young fusspots. It not only has vegetables but also the goodness of wheat flour and milk. As it is fibre rich it is good for the elders in the house too. Serve it with wheat and soya breadsticks and rest assured there will be no leftovers!

Cold soups are incredibly healthy form of soups, basically served chilled or at room temperature and they are as good as hot ones in terms of nutrition, taste and flavour. Just that one has to develop a taste to relish the subtle taste steeped in the cold soups while preparing them. There are simple tips which when followed would yield elegant and delicious cold soups.

  • Use fresh and ripe ingredients for brilliant results.Heavily season cold soups than hot ones, because the cold temperatures lessen the spice taste.
  • The soup can be served immediately, or you can cover and chill it so the flavours blend. For a colder soup that’s ready instantly, replace some of the liquid with crushed ice.
  • At the same time, the longer the soup sits in the refrigerator, the spicier it will taste. Four to ten hours is the optimal chilling time.
  • Before serving, chill the serving bowl and the individual soup bowls or mugs. Place them in the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes. And if using fine crystal ones, place in refrigerator for twenty to thirty minutes.

So are your soup spoons ready?

Chicken and Prawn Laksa
Cream of Vegetable Soup with Spinach
Dal Soup with Tomato

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Drive away the monsoon blues

How better to spend a wet monsoon day than with a cup of hot tea accompanied by a plateful of hot and crispy bhajias? Tempting though this may be it is not very healthy especially during this season when out digestive systems are not at their best. But an occasional indulgence in these goodies is definitely called for.

I do not want to shatter the enjoyable dream of having bhajias on a rainy day, but to be on the safe side I will give you ideas that can work not only for pleasure of the palate but also will not make the digestive system work hard. I agree that pakoras, dal wadas, batata wadas, besan toast, medu wadas are the most favoured in this season. The fact is that deep fried things satisfy the palate deeply especially because the hunger pangs work overtime. But no amount of draining the fried goodies on absorbent paper can work to decrease the calories in the food. So here are some alternatives that might please you.

You can have dhoklas made with fermented batters in a variety of combinations. They are healthy and when tempered lightly with oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame give a fulfilling texture that pleases the palate. You can have these with green chutney or with sweet tamarind chutney or the ubiquitous tomato ketchup.

Dosas and uttappams are great too specially when you have them hot from the tawas. Top uttappams with onions or cashewnuts or tomatoes even with sev – they not whet your visual appetite they fill up your stomachs too. Hot sambhar and coconut chutney pep them up further.

Corn on the cob is a favourite monsoon snack. Have them roasted over (if possible) coal fire or even on the gas flame and sprinkled with herbs and spices. Or just boil the kernels, mix them with chopped onions and chopped tomatoes sprinkled with chaat masala and lemon juice.

Another favourite and wholesome snack could be ragda pattice or chole tikki. Top them with chutneys and chopped onions – they are absolute tongue ticklers.

You can always round off with a cup of hot masala tea or even a cup of hot milk lightly flavoured with dry ginger powder.

Given here are some snacks that would work wonders and drive away those monsoon blues in no time.

Baked Potato Wedges
Fresh Mini Pita with Hummus
Olive Upma

Make them, serve them, have them and simply enjoy!

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Food wisdom

It is certainly not easy to help kids to develop a healthy relationship with food. The habits that the child develops in the early years will have an effect on his health. And with childhood obesity on the rise it is absolutely necessary that they develop the right habits as otherwise it can endanger their health in the coming years. From diabetes to high cholesterol, children are facing health issues now that were once thought to be strictly adult problems.

Buy healthy foods – Kids will eat what’s in the kitchen; so stock the fridge with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Praise healthy choices and ignore unhealthy ones – Let your kid know that they’ve taken a positive step by choosing healthy food. When they pick unhealthy food, offer some healthier alternatives to try to help them to choose more wisely.

Don’t use food as a reward – Try physical rewards instead, like a cricket match or a visit to a swimming pool. Eat dinner together – Eating regularly as a family can help children develop better eating habits. Make these meals even better by serving healthy portions in the kitchen, rather than bringing the serving dishes to the table. Your kids will learn about healthy portion sizes and how much food is enough. Don’t limit foods – Doing so raises the chance that your child may develop eating disorders. Limiting food can harm your child’s growth and development. Get feedback – Find out what healthy foods are your kids favorites. Serve those more often and cut back on the foods they don’t like. Talk to your pediatrician – If you think your child has a weight problem, the first step should be to consult the doctor.

And so with all these tips I will definitely give you some kid friendly but healthy recipes.

Rice flour and Spring Onion Cheelay
Pasta in Creole Sauce
Waffles with Honeyed Bananas

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

I have some brilliant news for users of Mozilla Firefox: the launch of the interactive browser theme. Our tie up with Brand Thunder LLC (, the browser customization specialists, is its first entry into the Indian market. The best of my library of Indian cuisine and more is now rolled into a free download available at

[]. The browser theme is tightly integrated with the web site and offers a full range of videos and links to proven recipes and a host of information on the art and craft of cooking.

What’s in store for you then? User’s can install an add-on for their existing Firefox browser to have fast access to new and favourite recipes, plus seasonal suggestions, monthly features, shopping and more. The video sidebar offers an abundance of cooking presentations including both vegetarian and non-vegetarian selections. This is a new exciting feature!

Photo shoot for upcoming book My Mother’s Kitchen is in full swing. It’s a wonderful cool day and I am enjoying the smell of fragrant ghee as paranthas etc are being cooked in the kitchen. That sets the theme for recipes that I would love to share with you today.

Sev Stuffed Parantha
Boondi Laddoo Parantha
Jammu ka Aloo Anardana Parantha

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Use nuts – in many ways

Peanut butter is a spread that is western and is still to catch on in India. But the best part is that Indian cuisine uses nuts to a great extent. Mostly rich gravies use butter and/or cream for finishing. Nuts have a different role to play than butter and cream. The latter give a finished texture and flavour to the dish but nuts, especially when used in a paste, add a deep rich flavour and texture that has simply no substitute.

If we look at nuts from the health point of view then the fat in nuts is monounsaturated, a variety that is beneficial to the heart and assists in keeping the bad cholesterol levels in check. With nearly 15-20% being good quality proteins, nuts can serve to step up the protein intake. Nuts have ample vitamin E, an important nutrient that helps to preserve the flexibility of the arteries. Also considered a beauty aid, this vitamin protects the cells of the body from damage. Nuts are a good source of calcium specially almonds with a calcium content of 230 mg per 100 grams.

Nuts could be exchanged for foods with a similar number of calories. For example, Substitute 1 teaspoon of butter or oil used in stir-frying vegetables with a tablespoon of assorted chopped nuts sprinkled over it. The only word of caution is for people with a high blood pressure or those who need to lower their salt intake – stay away from the salted nuts.

In the kitchen, basic rich gravies right from the Moghlai kitchen have used cashewnuts to great advantage. Indian cuisine can use a variety of nuts in many different ways: almond paste to make a nutritious milk shake called Badam Doodh; western states of India boast of a Masaleche Dudh that needs slightly reduced milk boiled well with a mix of almonds, cashew nuts and pistachios with flavouring of saffron and cardamom. A paste of almonds and cashew nuts when needed in whole wheat flour makes a dough that makes flaky and rich paranthas. Peanuts are used as the main ingredient of a curry that is eligible as food allowed on a fasting day. Coconut forms the basis of so many curries of the Southern parts of India. In fact, it is used intensively and extensively! Most Indian mithais use a garnishing of slivered almonds and/or pistachios. They definitely add to the visual appeal.

Here I would love to share one ‘reimagined’ Indian sweet which I have named Chocolate and Nuts Karanji. My new creation uses cocoa powder and/or chocolate chips along with the nuts in the stuffing. A touch of modernity! And as the fat content can be controlled by baking this instead of frying I think the deal is good! In rice dishes, cashew nuts (lightly fried) add an excellent texture. Sweet rice popularly called Zafrani Pulao uses saffron as main flavourant but it has enhanced appeal with nuts like almonds and pistachios. Coming full circle, rich nutty gravies form the basis of many chicken preparations as nuts when made into a paste make excellent thickeners and add a smooth feel to the palate.

So in case you feel inspired at this moment, get cooking with Peanut Chaat, Tender Coconut and Kaju Sukke, Nut Chikki Munchies.

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Home is where good food is

I believe in one thing. It is food that can keep us fit and healthy. It is food that can make us unfit and unhealthy. So why not stick to the first type of food so that we can actually experience longevity? And this first type of food is clearly defined by me as home cooked. It could be hot rotis straight from the flame with a light drizzle of fragrant ghee, the long grains of dazzling white basmati grains that somehow make rajma or kadhi as precious as caviar or those spongy wadas that soak up the sambhar. Well, be it a pulao, or a khichdi, maybe a stew or dal rice, it could be some dry vegetable with roti, but traditional home recipes do wonders for the spirit. These recipes keep the heart ticking ensconced in warmth of tradition and cultural riches. Food eaten together keeps the family together and even if there are major time constraints I am sure something can be done to get hot food onto the table once a day…the more Indian it is the better…the more traditional Indian it is the best!

I am sure these tips will come in handy: home food can be on the table in a short time and with some slight changes as suggested even the calories can be brought down!

• Chunks of fresh vegetables in a pulao, spiced up with cloves and cinnamon, go well with a tub of yogurt. Or do the same with a khichdi but add papads to the menu. How to make it healthier: You can use brown rice instead of long grained Basmati and can also have low-fat yogurt. Do not deep fry the papads, roast them!
• Tender chicken in an onion-tomato masala, eaten with rotis can be as filling, and even more nutritious, than a chicken sandwich. If the masala is made over the weekend in quantities it can be frozen in portion sizes. Use it for chana or rajma too. All you have to do is cook it all together. Or even add some boiled eggs to make Egg Curry. How to make it healthier: Choose only chicken breasts for the dish. Fry the onions in a non-stick pan and/or use olive oil. Skip the ghee on the rotis.
• When it comes to sweets, I encourage you to get good at halwas. They can be made almost instantly. And can really comfort one! The only down side is the amount of ghee that goes into them. How to make it healthier: Gajar Ka Halwa is one dessert that is easy to trim! Use low-fat milk to cook the carrots and use sugar substitute.
• I have once recommended in my shows that paranthas can be frozen. It will take up an hour of a weekend morning to fix a batch. If the freezer is well stocked then the week is a breeze. With the paranthas you could have anything…pickles, gourmet chutneys or a cup of hot tea. How to make it healthier: Paranthas can be made using a mix of different flours. In fact if you are making them fresh cook without oil.

Do hope these tips can be used by you. As for the promise of recipes, I fulfill it with Quick Khopra Pak, Mushroom Shagoti, Onion and Capsicum Uttapam.

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Wonderchef event in Pune

Driving down to Pune today and it will be lovely drive as the rains have washed all the greenery clean to a sparkle!

The Wonderchef event begins at 9.30 am at S.M.Joshi Auditorium, Near Patrakar Bhavan, Ganjve Chowk , Navi Peth, Pune – 411 030. It’s all about healthy cooking using top of the line cookware and bakeware. You can look forward to chocolate cake, dosa, pan pizza and chicken dishes.

Healthy cooking is a real passion with me. I have not only answered numerous queries about how everyday cooking can be made simpler and healthier, but I have also enjoyed compiling recipe books on this topic. There are more on the anvil now and as time goes by, you will have access to newer techniques of simpler cooking.

That is my mantra, really. To make the process of cooking as simple as possible so that when one reads the recipe it motivates the reader to try it out….with confidence and with the feeling that “I can do it”. Every step brings one to success or failure. And success is only another definition of failing but forward every time. If you do not get a good result from the recipe the first time around, try again…and again…till you are satisfied.

I will give you the simplest of the recipes today and the weekend is the best time to try them out.

Steamed Dosa

Mixed Vegetables in Coconut Kadhi

Chocolate Yogurt

Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor