10 top Diwali recipes and serving ideas

What could be more wonderful than getting our hands on good quality mithais for Diwali at reasonable prices! Well, the going is tough with some mithais touching more than 500 Rs a kilo! So what could be best as gifting ideas for friends and relatives? Yes, you guessed correctly: make your sweets at home. Two things are ensured….they will be hygienic and of good quality because you are buying the best of the raw ingredients. And the price? They are priceless because of the love that goes into them as you enjoy your cooking and the appreciation that you will win from your friends and relatives.
So what is best for homemade Diwali sweets that can be boxed? www.sanjeevkapoor.com has a plethora of sweets and you only have to choose what takes your fancy. You could gift them in nice food grade plastic boxes decorated with a little glitter. Suggestions that are likely to come your way are of: Anjeer and date burfi, badami besan ke laddoo, balushahi, boondi laddoo, choco coconut laddoos, chocolate and nut karanjis, dry fruit and khajur laddoo, gajar pista burfi, kaju pista roll, pineapple burfi, two coloured coconut barfi…
If you are the adventurous sort try out some different Diwali recipes at home. Here goes:
Like covering gulab jamuns with boondi. Serve them in halves, garnished with pistachio flakes.
A bread pudding with peas puree. It is different and tasty.
Chocolate samosa that will evoke a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Simply fold some grated chocolate in a samosa patti and deep fry. Serve immediately.
Santra basundi with oranges giving it a wonderful tang.
Those who look forward to salty and savory crunchies….there is something in store for you too!!
Coming up next: Indian snack recipes –Diwali ideas

Why do we use salt in our food?

Imagine life without salt! But in this day and time, there are many people suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension and these people have to learn to use less salt in their daily cooking. Salt is essential for the body but only in little quantities. It serves many purposes. First and foremost is of taste and salt is the oldest known food additive.
Besides contributing its own basic ‘salty’ taste, salt brings out natural flavours and makes foods acceptable. Salt has many culinary benefits and world’s greatest chefs acknowledge its surprising application even in desserts.
Salt is a preservative. It preserves foods by creating a hostile environment for certain microorganisms. Within foods, salt brine dehydrates bacterial cells, alters osmotic pressure and inhibits bacterial growth and subsequent spoilage.
It also strengthens gluten in bread dough, providing uniform grain, texture and dough strength. With salt present, gluten holds more water and carbon dioxide, allowing the dough to expand without tearing. Salt develops the characteristic rind hardness in cheese and helps produce the desirable, even consistency.
In baked products, salt controls fermentation by retarding and controlling the rate of fermentation, important in making a uniform product. During pickle making, salt brine is gradually increased in concentration, reducing the fermentation rate as the process proceeds to completion. Salt is also used to control fermentation in making cheese. Salt enhances the golden colour in bread crust by reducing sugar destruction in the dough and increasing caramelisation.
Unseasoned salt has an infinite shelf life. Seasoned salts should be kept tightly capped and used within one year. Humidity and moisture will cause salt to clump and stick together. Add about ten grains of raw rice to the shaker to absorb the moisture and keep the salt flowing freely.
For soups that have a long simmering time, go easy on the salt in the beginning, keeping in mind that the liquid will reduce and intensify the salt flavour. Salt pulls juices out of vegetables. This is a good thing for some watery vegetables like cucumbers and eggplant in some dishes, but if you want mushrooms to remain plump, add salt at the end of cooking.
Although a pinch of salt added to breads and desserts enhances flavours, do not double this ingredient when doubling a recipe. A salted warm dish will not taste as salty when cold because chilling dims salty flavours. When tasting for saltiness or other flavourings, be sure to sample a large enough portion to cover the middle and sides of the tongue. The tip of the tongue is less sensitive. Also be sure to cool the food before tasting as high heat will dull taste buds.
Some recipes that can help you in planning your week’s menus:

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Indian festive recipes – Get set for Diwali recipes

This Diwali we foresee some reckless indulgence. For those who have the quintessential sweet tooth, it is time to revel! The sweet shops will have feverish sales pitches, and mithais will sell like the proverbial hot cakes, the pricing (though exorbitant) not deterring anyone! It is going to be one huge enthusiastic round of gifting and receiving mounds of laddoos, pedas and kaju katlis. The trend of chocolates coming upfront will continue as also the usual fancily packaged boxes of dry fruits (‘the-more-packaging-less-nuts’ kind of box).
For those of you who want to provide home made goodies to all your friends and relatives, we would strongly suggest be very wary of the raw ingredients. As far as possible, use homemade ghee or ghee bought from a very reliable source. The quality of ghee can make or mar the sweetmeat. Also the quality of maida and besan. Buy fresh and sieve before use. Sugar – it is bound to have some dirt factor – unless you plan to go in for the more pricey qualities.
For your choice of Diwali recipes, you can click on www.sanjeevkapoor.com and in a fortnght’s time, there will be whole lot of them for you to enjoy.
Gujiyas or karanjis can be made some two-three days before the festival. Keep them in airtight tins. As also mohan thaal and besan laddoos. Boondi laddoos should be made just a day early and consumed/distributed as fast as they can be. All khoya-based barfis should be refrigerated or consumed on priority. Those who wish can make jalebis and gulab jamuns at home and serve them hot. All packs of sweetmeats that come along as gifts should be unwrapped and inspected immediately for if they contain some easily perishable Bengali sweets and malai barfi they are best consumed the same day or refrigerated till the following morning.
There is a great influx of kaju katli based mithais. The base is excellent for shaping into miniature watermelons, custard apples, corn-on-the-cob, a kalash and what have you! These look very attractive. Savouries like namkeen shakkarpare, methi mathri, cholafalli and chiwda are other favourites that will be highly visible during the festive season. All these Diwali recipes and more await.
Coming up: Ten top Diwali recipes and serving ideas

Best cookery show – Ten top tips

What can one say about TV programmes? Lots and lots! Some are good and some are not. What concerns us here are the cookery shows and choosing the best cookery show to watch and follow every episode. These days Master Chef (Australia) has caught the eye and coming in a few days would be Master Chef (India) with Akshay Kumar, India’s celebrated actor, as host.

Khana Khazana, on Zee TV, has been adjudged the Best Cookery Show by the Indian Television Academy, consecutively for a number of years. Initially named as Shriman Bawarchi, the name did not strike the right chord, so Sanjeev Kapoor suggested Khana Khazana. This cookery show has a huge platter to offer – from Punjabi food to Continental food, from traditional mithais to low fat cooking, from International cuisines to lesser known foods of India. There are many reasons why this show has been at number one for more than a decade.

1. Consistency of presentation

2. Topical, and seasonal, presentations

3. Recipes, simple and complex, presented in a doable manner

4. Use of ingredients with easy accessibility

5. Excellent and expressive style of Sanjeev Kapoor

6. Fulfilling viewers’s demands

7. Recipe recap

8. Recipes on net (www.sanjeevkapoor.com)

9. Good value for viewing time

10. Repeat telecast

Khana Khazana has evolved over the years, since it started 17 years back. There is a lot of research done that backs every recipe presented. The first few epis

odes were a trial run for Sanjeev Kapoor and he has the knack of developing his recipe on the spot, once he has the ingredients set before him, the ideas just seem to flow out. Shaam Savera, one of his earliest signature dishes, was initially meant to be palak koftas in palak gravy but in that episode history was written. Now Shaam Savera is a palak kofta with paneer stuffing served on a bed of red tangy makhni gravy. A visual treat, indeed.

Coming up – Get set for Diwali Recipes

Eat these ‘fighter’ foods and remain fit!

We hear about free radicals and antioxidants all the time, don’t we? Where should be looking to get these antioxidants then? It will be a relief to know that the normal foods in the kitchen, or food on our table is well equipped to fight the present infection laden atmosphere. Even if one is not too exposed to pollution, wind, sun or stress, it is a good idea to build up the body’s immune system and provide a barricade that keeps infectious diseases away.
It is rather interesting to note here that food which we have always taken for granted does play a significant role in fighting infection in its own inimitable style. Be it a crunchy carrot had on the move or the chunk of cheese gobbled up in a hurry, the strengthening of the immune system has begun unknowingly.
Carrots are a major source of beta-carotene. All red, orange, yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene. Beta-carotene helps to strengthen skin and mucous membranes and enhances the antibody response. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin and green leafy vegetables may well be a part of your daily diet as beta-carotene protects the body from several types of cancer, especially lung cancer. It also acts as a filter, protecting eye lens from cataract.
The chunk of cheese, which so innocently cut the edge of a gnawing hunger pang, provides calcium, which works in collaboration with magnesium to enhance the immune system. The same formula works in other dairy products, leafy greens, fish, nuts and pulses. Yes, of course, while reaching out for the cheese ensure it is the low fat version!
Another great nibble is chocolate! The iron content of chocolate (the same iron which we would generally look for in meat, egg yolk, shellfish and parsley!) plays a major role in balancing the white blood cells involved in immunity. The idea here is not permission to indulge in chocolates to fight the germs. It is essential awareness that chocolate is good for health, but better go easy as this food is also very fattening!
Enough of the goodies…now let us come to the ‘grain’of the matter. Wheat is a versatile grain? From the harvested wheat can come a great variety of products like white flour and semolina. The high-gluten content of wheat makes it the best cereal grain for bread making. Whole wheat breads are a great source of vitamin B 6. The magnesium present in whole grains also boosts immunity action and should be combined for effectiveness with nuts, seafood and green leafy vegetables.
Coming to nuts. Well, this is another favourite snack! Go for it by all means as the content of Vitamin E helps to improve the function of white blood cells. Even seeds are good munchies with a lot of goodness.
Mention of an extremely healthy food is bound to be done and that is offish. All fish contain as much high-quality protein as meat, but, unlike meat, white fish have a negligible amount of fat and, therefore, they have half the number of calories. Fortunately the fat in oily fish is polyunsaturated. They also contain less cholesterol than either meat or shellfish and provide niacin and vitamin D that are absent from white fish. Oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, and sardines are rich in selenium which boosts the white blood cells and immune enzymes.
Next time you reach out for an orange, think of having a concentrated dose of vitamin C. This vitamin is also found in amla, strawberries, papaya, other citrus fruit, melons, cabbage, capsicum and guava. Vitamin C increases the number of chemical messengers that are vitally important in the process of fighting infection.
Another infection fighter is the good old cup of tea. Along with whole grain food and leafy greens, tea too contains manganese that helps to increase the activity of the killer immune cell.
In a nutshell, healthy eating habits with a good mental attitude keep one fit in body. As a fitting note of a finale, here are some colourful presentations of fruits and vegetables for you today!

Till I write again.

Sanjeev Kapoor

War of Brains at Khana Khazana

We decided to end the month of September with a bang! Had one of our first ever debate competitions. Participants were all staff members and we divided them into 4 teams. There were many topics that needed to be discussed but by pick of the chit we got two: “As compared to Medicine, IT and other, is Chef’s profession still looked down upon?” and “ Is India ready for 24*7 Food Channel on TV?”
The first team got the chance to speak ‘for’ a 24 by 7 Food channel on TV and the team 2 was to speak against the topic. I decided to give up my judge’s position and teamed up with team 2 and had my arguments ready with reasons why India is not ready for the food channel. When the time came, I quickly switched over to the other team who were stressing the need for a food channel! All this in good jest and fun and we all generally had an enjoyable time. I think I did surprise my people by acting on an impulse like this! By now it is common knowledge that I am launching a 24 X 7 Food channel on TV shortly…it is just a matter of time.
The other two teams debated on the chef’s profession being looked down upon and the arguments on why it is not looked down upon were stronger and with more conviction. This team got their cash prize which they promptly shared with us all in the form of loads of ice cream! All work and no play is not our motto at Khana Khazana. If F is for food, it is also for fun.
As the weekend approaches, I have decided to share with you some easy and healthy breakfast dishes.

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.