Indian traditional recipes – some Punjabi greats
At the thought of Punjab one can picture the swaying wheat fields, the bhangra dancing farmers, the truck drivers singing merrily into the night while driving on the highways, the valiant soldiers of the Sikh and Punjab regiment and last but certainly not the least the delicious food whether it is sarson da saag and makai di roti or tandoori murg.
Punjabi food on the whole is full of rustic flavours. There is a profusion of dairy products like malai, paneer and dahi. Punjabi dals are a speciality too made of whole pulses like black gram, green gram and Bengal gram. They are cooked on a slow fire, often simmered for hours till they turn creamy and then flavoured with spices and rounded off with malai for that rich finish. The most famous vegetarian preparation of Punjab is, perhaps, sarson da saag accompanied with makki di roti. This is one of the most popular Indian traditional recipe from the Punjabi repertoire. One could have a tough time choosing between dahi bhalle, palak paneer, matar paneer, ma ki daal, rajma rasmissa, a variety of paranthas – stuffed or plain…alu parantha served with either aam ka achaar or butter is a typical, wholesome Punjabi breakfast. Breakfast on Sundays could probably mean chole-bhature and teatime could be samosas, paneer pakoras, tikkis, mathries…the list seems endless. Though the staple food is wheat, rice is also eaten but mostly on festive or special occasions. Rice is usually eaten as a pulao. Winter time is also the time to have sweet dishes like gajrela (gajar halwa), gulab jamun, phirnis like Strawberry Phirni, jalebis and pinni.
To say that tandoori chicken and murg makhani (butter chicken) have made Indian cuisine globally acceptable would perhaps be repetitive but certainly not refutable. Fresh water fish is available in plenty. Among the fish dishes fish amritsari and peshawari machli are very popular. Among the lamb preparations palak gosht, Patiala mutton and achari gosht come to mind. Another Indian traditional recipe that is world famous is the afore mentioned tandoori chicken. It is a dish whosoever tastes, keeps asking for more! It is cooked in a tandoor, which is an earthen oven fired with charcoal. Also known as Sanjha Choolha meaning common cooking place it tends to bind the people together. Tandoor cooking is one of the oldest ways of cooking food and can be traced back to the nomadic tribes of the North West Frontier who used to cook their food, which was mostly meat, in holes dug in the ground and fired with charcoal and dry cow-dung.

Punjabi food Festival in Hyderabad

Good news for Hyderabadis who are looking for excellent authentic Punjabi food. The Yellow Chilli Hyderabad is celebrating its Second Anniversary with a grand menu of pure Punjabi dishes…for your reservations contact Mr Tushar at 64645411. The Festival is on till 3rd of October so make the most of it.

There have always been queries put before me, it could be for any regional cuisine, Hyderabadi, or Punjabi or Gujarati to name a few, of how can the calories be snipped away in simple home cooking too. Eating a completely fat free meal is asking for the possible but eating such meals on a regular basis is asking for the impossible! Fat free food is low in the taste factor as also the satiety metre. Secondly, fats are needed by the body, at least the good fats are. The only solution is to keeping the meals light and frequent with techniques to snip away the calories smartly.

Cook with non-stick cookware. They are good for baking, grilling, sautéing and even for soup. Non-stick pans allow you to cook with no oil, or just a brush of grease or substitute fats with water or juice. You can change the cooking methods. If you tend to deep-fry a lot, change the mindset. Either bake, broil, grill, poach or sauté foods. Microwave is a blessing for those who want to cook using minimal oil. Learn the art of subtracting. Read the recipe and simply subtract the amount of fats and sugars. For example, replace half the butter with fruit puree for an equally moist cake; use one-third less sugar in cakes or cookies and use dried fruit, not sugar, to add sweetness to cereal. Eat lean meats and trim all visible fat before cooking. Go for white meat than red meat. For example, chicken breasts are lower in fat than drumsticks. Choose the skim milk, yogurt and cheese. Avoid use of condensed milk as it is very high in sugars. Eggs are the best protein source and also cholesterol! When cooking, just substitute two egg whites for one whole egg (the fat, cholesterol and most of the calories from eggs are in the yolks).

Most important is to downsize portions. Do this and half the battle is won. Make the servings in smaller size. Use smaller plates, and make any cake serve twelve instead of eight!

Here are some healthy snacks for you!

Baked Chatpati Shankerpali
Hot and sour idlis
Sprout bhelpuri

Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor

Be in total control: eat right without thinking!

How wonderful it would be if we were able to eat right without thinking? Small daily habits are what add or subtract calories. Let us look at the subtraction tactics very seriously! If you follow these regularly they can help you incorporate foods you need into your daily diet while removing those you do not need. As time goes, you will be in total control of your nutritional intake. And all the better for it!

Tip 1: At breakfast, put coffee in your milk instead of milk in your coffee. Fill your mug to the rim with skimmed milk first thing in the morning. Drink it down until all that is left is the amount you would normally add to your coffee; then pour your coffee on top. You just took in a quarter of the vitamin D you need every day, and a third of the calcium.
Tip 2: Drink two glasses of water before every meal. This will do two things: keep you hydrated and make you eat a little less. A study shows that drinking two glasses of water can make you feel less hungry, possibly reducing your food intake and aiding weight loss.
Tip 3: Always order your pizza with double tomato sauce and light cheese. Ah, wasn’t it the other way round? To skimp calories go slow on the cheese. And lots of tomato sauce means more lycopene intake which has benefits. The same hold true with sandwiches. Always stack up the tomato slices in a sandwich.
Tip 4: Go for onions in a big way if you like them. Onions are healthful being a good source of flavonoids that are heart friendly. So use lavishly on hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches.
Tip 5: Junk food lovers should drink two glasses of water afterward. The burgers, fries, submarines are loaded with fat and sodium, which can be harmful for your heart. Well, one cannot do much about the fat once it is eaten, but you can flush away some of the excess sodium by drinking plenty of fluids. Another associated tip: when you are asked what you would like to drink, always ask for iced tea.
Tip 6: Have an afternoon treat. A snack between lunch and dinner keeps off fatigue. It should not be a chocolate bar! It could be some yogurt, or some fruit (with skin on!) or crackers with cheese, a hard boiled egg or an apple…
Tip 7: Whenever you have salad, keep the dressing on the side. You can actually enjoy a salad with the taste of the dressing by first dipping your fork in the dressing then spearing a piece of lettuce. It might look weird to your neighbour but know that this technique can save you loads of calories without compromising on the taste.
Tip 8: Have a second helping of vegetables. Try and take in at least one and half cups of vegetables every day. Vegetables ensure long-term good health so what’s in this small measure? Have them!
Tip 9: Cereal can help at night too! Cereals are not only for breakfast but also helpful as a low-fat, low-calorie carbohydrate snack eaten before bed in case hunger pangs are keeping you awake. Cereal is also one of the easiest ways to reduce your fiber deficit.
Tip10: Do not miss the dessert. Always eat a little of it. Sweets signal your brain that the meal is over. Without them, you might not feel satiated – which might leave you prowling the kitchen all night for something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
More on Healthy recipes.
Some ideas for healthy eating :
Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Easy Indian Food Recipes – a trip to Punjab

One thing about delving into the exquisite world of easy Indian food recipes remains the same…that it is an exciting adventure of unbeatable flavours, some bequeathed by the connoisseurs of food, some distinctly evolved by the local settlers, all in all, a roller coaster ride of sugar ‘n spice!
A trip to the northern region of the country has one taking the states of Punjab, Haryana, Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh as a rich tapestry of cuisines of the food lovers of yore, the Mughals. Delhi, the capital of India, is a little world on its own. With the ticking of time, each area has developed its characteristic styles and as the multicultural inhabitants enjoy both non-vegetarian and vegetarian fare, the food vies for attention in a constructive manner.
Punjab is placed strategically on the Indian border with Pakistan. Spread over around 50,362 square kilometers, most of it is gently sloping plains, with well watered and highly fertile alluvial soils.
The name of the state of Punjab is derived from the words ‘punj’ meaning five and ‘ab’ meaning water since the land is a confluence of five rivers. The five rivers that run through Punjab, having their origins in various small lakes in Himalayas, are Ravi, Chenab, Sutlej, Jhelum and Beas. Beas and Sutlej join forces and flow on to meet the Indus, the tributaries of which crisscross the state making it the most fertile land.
Punjab is called the “Bread basket of the nation” because it gives India the maximum agricultural output regardless the total amount of area it covers. Around 85% of the area is under cultivation. It produces wheat that can feed the whole of India and contributes around 2% of the world’s wheat produce.
From the bylanes of Punjab comes the piquant flavour of mustard oil and mustard greens, called sarson-da-saag. More help to make the farmers robust, comes from the quarters of diary farms as milk is abundant in this Land of Five Rivers. We move on with a variation of the famous yogurt based drink of Punjab called lassi, an easy Indian food recipe. The thick sweet beverage, it is said, justifies the need for a siesta! Have a taste of a popular stuffed layered bread called aloo parantha. Stuffed with seasoned potatoes and covered with wheat flour dough, it is fun to eat with a bowl of chilled curds and a selection of pickles, even for breakfast. This platter will give you a head start for the day!

Fighting tiredness

Have you ever felt tired, absolutely bone weary? I am sure you have because we all feel tired from time to time. Usually, we know why we are tired. Then we take time off, rest and then off we are, back to work or school! But for some, tiredness can be a more serious problem. It may go on for a long time or can be so bad that the affected person is unable to do anything at all. Tiredness can stop us from enjoying and getting on with our lives.
Tiredness is different from prolonged fatigue. One in every five feel unusually tired, and one in ten have prolonged fatigue. Women feel tired more than men, and it can be a problem at any age, but is least common in the very young. If you want to work out how you became tired in the first place, it can be helpful to think about a) the things in your life that made you more likely to get tired ; b) the things in your life that triggered your tiredness; c) the things in your life that are keeping you tired.
These can be physical or psychological, or more usually both at the same time. The physical reasons for tiredness could be a) being overweight or underweight. If you are overweight, your body has to work harder just to do everyday things. If you are too thin, you may not have enough strength in your muscles to do everyday things without becoming tired; b) any serious illness can make you tired, especially painful ones. Some less serious illnesses, like glandular fever, can leave you feeling worn out; c) being unfit. If you feel tired, you do not do as much as you normally would. If you cut down the amount you do, your body becomes unfit. We know that just one week of resting in bed reduces your muscle strength by ten percent. The more unfit you get, the more tired you will be when you try and do something.
The psychological reasons for tiredness could be one or many: worries and stress, insomnia, depression, everyday difficulties, emotional shock, expecting too much of yourself, work stress….
There are some specific ways to fight tiredness. Sleep well regularly. It is also essential to handle the weight issues and get some exercise. Stop use of stimulants like tea and coffee at least for a three week period. It also helps to plan your schedule for the day and week so that you are not rushed at any moment. Look after the intake of proteins and foods rich in Vitamin B and iron.
And the long-term solution to the tiredness problem is to learn from it! Ask yourself were you demanding too much of yourself before you got tired or was there sufficient balance between work and play? The answers lie in these questions.
Have some energy giving foods!

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor

The mighty chana

You must have heard about Indo Chinese Chilli Paneer and now we cooked Chilli Chana in our kitchens recently. Chana is one popular pulse that seems to have crossed the northern frontier and made its way to other regional cuisines! Be it the small and red (kale chane) and large buff-coloured chickpeas (kabuli chane), these are essential pantry items in most homes.

Eighty percent of the world’s Bengal gram comes from India. In some regions of India where Bengal gram is grown it is frequently sold as the whole green plant from which the seeds are consumed fresh as a snack or the whole plant can be placed in a fire and the parched seeds eaten as a snack. These hare chane make many an excellent dish with paneer or potatoes.
In most western countries, Bengal gram is also available tinned, whole or as a purée. Bengal gram flour / besan though readily available in India as a staple food item is now also available in some other countries. Chickpea has been a staple in the Mediterranean for hundreds of years. In Italy bakers are known to often slip a pot full of chickpeas into the oven when they fire it up to bake bread and then sell them by the ladle, with some of their cooking liquid so the customer can reheat them at home.
From a nutritional point, Bengal grams are an excellent source of protein – proteins that are devoid of purines and are therefore ideally suited to those who suffer from gout. With respect to other legumes they have a higher fat content, which makes them more caloric; they are therefore not what one wants when trying to lose weight. However, they are quite rich in calcium, making them a good choice for combating osteoporosis, are also rich in iron and are an excellent source of fibre. They are sodium-poor, which makes them a good bet for those on reduced sodium diets. With the protein content of twenty percent, Bengal gram is an important meat substitute and good for children and expectant and nursing mothers.
Indian cuisine makes the best use chana dal and gram flour!

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

India food recipes – attaining the GI tag

It’s time to pick up the knives and ladles again and take you on an adventurous journey into the world of discovering the wealth of India food recipes! Indian food is famous all over the world and foods like Darjeeling tea, Tirupati ladoo, Goa’s feni and Hyderabadi haleem are in the list of protected species with the Geographical Indication (GI) Certification. This certification ensures that makers of these foods, outside of the region and within the region, will not be able to put the tag of (Darjeeling, Tirupati, Goa, Hyderabad…) unless they meet strict quality and production standards. The more recent addition of Hyderabadi haleem means that the haleem must be made only with goat meat, the ratio of meat to wheat must be 10:4, the ghee used must be certified by a lab as 100% pure and the haleem must be cooked for 12 hours in a copper vessel over firewood. This is a stringent way to preserve Indian traditional recipes.

Indian food for many, many years has been identified by , let’s look at just 2 examples, the more popular succulent and flavourful grilled chicken called Tandoori chicken and the creamy sweet preparation called kheer which is a nutritious blend of whole milk with rice laced with the fragrance of saffron and dotted with nuts. The origin and evolution of India food recipes is truly blessed with the influences of multifarious cuisine from the dynasties that ruled in the past. The delicacies of yore offer a surprisingly large number of Mughal, Persian (take haleem for example), Zoroastrian and Portuguese recipes. The final distinctive stamp of the region is given according to the climate, ingredients available and the needs of that particular region.

One case in point would be the influence of the north-west frontier cuisine till date in the collection of India food recipes. The delicious tandoori recipes which are immensely popular all over the world have been passed on with all the specifications of how to marinate the meats and vegetables and cook them in the special clay oven to juicy perfection. Breads like rotis and paranthas cooked in the tandoor professionally are specialised fare that are difficult to emulate in a household oven.