FoodFood has us growing…

Back on a Monday morning and in action at the office! Did finish the shoots for the new format of Sanjeev Kapoor’s Kitchen, i.e., Teen Patti on Saturday. Was as usual hectic, but had fun as my little nephew, Manit, was there on the sets! Did manage to relax on Sunday though, with a fun-filled luncheon with good friends Dr. Ram and Meena Prabhoo. All of us had a great time together with laughter and masti!
The night was equally special as Alyona’s sister and her husband had come over. So, I cooked up laksa for all of us and we enjoyed it thoroughly…
As for today, I finally managed to get some time to check on the renovations going on in the office, before I left for the first board meeting which was scheduled today at Sahara Star. We are expanding now, and we do need more space in the office to accommodate more and more people. The developments have been happening for quite some time now, so it was necessary on my part to ensure things were running smoothly.
During the meeting, I just happened to check with the Union Budget for the year 2011-2012. People will be really happy to know that there is a budgetary increase in the education sector by 24% and health sector by 20%. Also, a good news for the general mass lies in the tax exemption limit which has been raised from 1, 60,000 to 1, 80,000.
However, somethings which have not gone well with me is the service tax that has been widened to cover hotel accommodation above Rs 1,000 per day and A/C restaurants serving liquor. The common man has also somethings to worry with the increase in the service tax on air travel and accommodation of hospital rooms as well.
And while I am gearing up for an exciting time for the road show at Ahmedabad, you can enjoy some dishes like

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Healthy balanced diet : fruits play an essential role

With so many lifestyle diseases being evident today it is time to incorporate more fruits in our daily diet because fruits are great sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (a group of compounds that may help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes) and soluble fibre. Except for a few varieties (coconut, olives, avocados) all fruits are low in fat and calories. Fruits play an essential role in imbibing a healthy balanced diet. Fruits also satisfy your sweet tooth without loading up on calories. Try Sizzling fruits with mixed fruit sauce.
Eating a variety of fruits is vital because different fruits provide different nutrients. For example, oranges and kiwi fruit are good sources of vitamin C. Bananas are a good source of potassium and apricots are high in vitamin A. So if you rarely venture beyond a few of your favourites, you are missing out on the nutrients and benefits of other fruits.
Here are suggestions to help you select the highest quality fruits when you are shopping, ways to store them once you get home, and tips for preparing and serving fruits to enhance their flavour and retain their nutrients.
Selecting top quality fruits: Choose in-season fruits. Select fruits that feel heavy for their size as heaviness is a good sign of juiciness. Smell fruits for characteristic aromas. Fruits should generally have their characteristic ripe scent but not smell overly ripe. For example, muskmelon should not smell too musty, especially if you do not plan to eat it right away. Also test the texture. A kiwi that feels mushy to the touch is too ripe. However, an avocado with a somewhat spongy texture is ideal. Be sensitive to the correct texture for the specific fruit you are interested in. Enjoy a plate of Fruit Chaat and then read on…..
Storing tips: Keep fruits at room temperature to ripen them. Store ripe fruits in your refrigerator. The cool temperature slows the ripening process, giving you longer storage times. The length of time you can store fruit depends on many factors, including how ripe the fruit is at the time of purchase and the type of fruit. Oranges keep well from one to two weeks in your refrigerator. Others, such as strawberries and grapes may ripen and spoil in less time, even in a couple of days.
Serving ideas:
Prepare fresh fruit within about an hour of serving to maximize flavour, texture and nutrients. Some salads benefit from a little chilling time (about 30-60 minutes) for the various flavours to mingle well together.
Wash all fruits thoroughly under cold running water before cutting or eating whole. This includes those fruits with hard shells or skins, such as melons. That is because the knife you use to cut the melon could transfer germs from the surface into the flesh. Wash your hands before and after handling fresh fruits.
Leave on edible peels whenever possible. The peels of apples, pears and most fruits with pits add interesting colour and texture to recipes and contain added nutrients and fibre.
Remove zest from citrus peels before discarding and save it for other recipes. The zest is the thin, brightly coloured, outermost layer of citrus fruit, such as lemons or oranges. Grated or shredded, it adds a bright spark of flavour and colour enhancement to both sweet and savoury dishes.
A healthy diet does not have to be monotonous. Be adventurous. A dish like Mixed Fruit Kheer can brighten up your evening meal. Try all the new and unfamiliar fruits. You may be surprised to find that you like them, and they will add interest to your plans of following a healthy balanced diet.

Light Indian Food – let’s focus on the lesser known

One lesser known or rather lesser used vegetable is the beetroot. It comes to mind simply because there are lovely beetroots right now in season…rotund, bursting with colour of good health and blood purifying properties. So why not make use of it while keeping in mind that Indian food can be light and nutritious. Try eating the beetroot leaves and stalk (boiled or steamed) and accompany with other more flavourful vegetables like onions and garlic. Or chop finely and add to stir-fries. Try Beetroot Chaas for a flavourful beginning to a meal.
Beetroot’s main benefits are that it contains no fat, very few calories and is a great source of fibre. Beetroot has for many years been used as a treatment for cancer in Europe. Specific anti-carcinogens are bound to the red colouring matter which supposedly helps fight against cancer and beetroot also increases the uptake of oxygen by as much as 400 percent. Additional studies are taking place to add support to these claims. The green leafy part of the beetroot is also of nutritional value containing beta-carotene and other plant pigments. The latter function as antioxidants. This part of the beetroot also contains lots of folate, iron, potassium and some vitamin C. The roots and greens therefore are great for women in general and for those planning pregnancy.
Beetroot can be eaten raw. You just need to peel it and it’s ready to use. Beetroot can add a refreshing touch to a salad, a sandwich or as an accompaniment to other vegetables. Some prefer having it thinly sliced and mixed with onion rings with a dash of lemon juice and salt. This is a nice, crunchy, pink-hued salad! And then it comes to light Indian food a kachumber can be a filling start to a meal. Otherwise grate it finely to add to other vegetables. Or try adding a teaspoon or so of finely grated beetroot to a chilled glass of fresh orange juice. It’s refreshing! When you have the time and inclination do try Amla aur Beetroot ki Tikki.
Usually when you buy fresh beetroot it will still have the leaves and stalks attached. To cook the beetroot simply cut off the stalks but make sure you leave some of the stalk intact. By doing this it will help to stop the beetroot from losing it’s colour when you cook it and helps to hold in the nutrients. Beetroot can be steamed or cooked in boiling water. Cooking time can be from twenty to thirty minutes depending on the size of the beetroot. Test the beetroot with a skewer: when it’s soft, remove it from the heat and cool it under running water – this will make the skin easier to remove for serving.
You can serve cooked beetroot: as a hot vegetable accompaniment to a meal; or allow it to cool and slice it to put it in a sandwich with cucumber slices and tomato slices. You can also try this: cut beetroot into cubes and stir-fry it with some steamed cubed potatoes and pumpkin. Add a little garlic and some diced onions – this makes a delicious vegetable dish to serve with the rest of your meal. Or make a lovely rice dish like Beetroot and Mewa Pulao.

Everyone loves to holiday!

Who would not want to go for a holiday? Family holidays are an intrinsic part of my life and we love it when the summer break comes and we take off for some exciting destination. I am attending the launch of the Kuoni Hoilday Report 2011 at Taj President this afternoon. It will be over only in the evening. But I could tell you that eating and drinking is an intrinsic part of any good holiday. Food in India is synonymous with luxury and leisure. This report will be sharing distinct and unique behaviour about Indians relating themselves to food during their holiday. Enjoying and experimenting with a variety of delicacies is the most noticed attitude of the Indian traveller.
I am sure food, leisure and luxury holidays are going to go places in India in the near future.
And as I get back from the holiday mode, I’ve to gear up for a shoot planned for tomorrow for an all new series of Sanjeev Kapoor’s Kitchen. FoodFood is really keeping all of us, including Alyona and me, on our toes!
Adding more to the FoodFood front is a new reality show titled ‘Maha Challenge’, the registrations for which will be held pan India. I will be travelling to Ahmedabad for the first registrations which are scheduled on March 2, 2011. The registrations will be conducted in the form of road shows, where the contestants will have to register themselves on the same day. The show will feature a challenge between girls and boys, where the teams will be lead by Ms. Madhuri Dixit Nene and me, respectively. All in all, there will be a lot of travelling happening in the coming months.
Looking forward to these fun-filled and adventurous, but hectic trips!
Till I write again.

Sanjeev Kapoor

My kitchen is busy!

My weekend was brief but had a lovely dinner with Alyona on Saturday night at the launch of good friend Jiggs Kalra’s Punjab Grill in my neighborhood.
Shooting for three days for Sanjeev Kapoor’s Kitchen food shows for my channel FoodFood….a break of one day and then we shoot for something we have brainstormed and put up: a new concept which will cater fun menus for different meals! As it is the most common question that one has in mind is ‘what should we cook today?’ but once it is decided then the actual cooking does not take time at all! So my new show will not only solve the issues of what to make but also guide you on How to make all the delicious foods!
As I am a little pressed for time, I will pen off now but not before sharing a few of favourites for this week : brinjals are in season, shiny and vibrant, cauliflower is at its best, snowy white and buttery, and also let’s celebrate the fact that onion prices are reasonably down!
Get the kadais and knives and let’s make your kitchen busy too!

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Healthy balanced diet – understanding the ‘fat’ factor

People are facing a lot of health problems these days and unfortunately one gets to hear of high cholesterol levels even in teenagers. This is a direct consequence of having too many processed foods that are so tempting for the new generation. Fruits or wholesome homemade food have taken a backseat. But the time has come now to tighten our belts and get back into shape. It would also be perfectly correct to say that high cholesterol levels are also a fall out of lack of exercise. When one can walk, one prefers to take transport, be it private or public. Most of the evening hours are spent sitting in front of the television and that too with the dinner plate in hand!

Low fat options

We should now incorporate healthy eating habits into our daily plan. We can substitute high fat foods with low fat food, which is made without the addition of visible oil or with very little of it. One can always question the pros and cons of an oil-free diet. The main thing is that we cannot do without oil. But we can certainly do with less oil in our food. And the sooner we adopt this mode of cooking the better for our health in the long run. One samosa adds 369 calories to your day’s intake, a small 105 grams pack of French fries add 320 calories. Instead, why not have two idlis which are just as filling but allow only 60 calories? Some more ideas: switch over from buffalo milk to cow’s milk – will save you up to 50 calories and 2.4 grams of fat per 100 grams. The yogurt you make will have less fat and so will the paneer.

All foods have fat

It is also necessary to understand that even if no visible oil has been used in the cooking process, all foods do contain some trace of oil/fat. Seeds like poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, sesame seeds and turmeric powder do have some fat content. No food is ‘fat free’, it can only be labeled as ‘low fat’ and there are no great health hazards in having ‘low fat’ foods. Even a basic arhar/toovar dal preparation has a fat content that one can talk about – 100 grams has 1.5 grams as compared to 3.7 grams in a moong dal preparation. Dals are not eaten raw and once they are cooked they do have additions of seeds and spices.

Why do we need oil

Our bodily functions do need oil to operate at the optimum as they need to be lubricated well and for this all naturally present oils are good. All are aware that oil not only enhances the taste but also makes the cooked food look good. Yes, even some salads taste better with a dash of salad oil or olive oil. Oil is an integral part of most recipes because it removes the unpalatability of the dish, it adds the needed softness as also flavour and nutrients. We have seen that we do need fat for lubrication, the fat-soluble precious vitamins and for energy.

To sum up, it is recommended to follow a diet that is low in fat but healthy in essential proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A good diet is primarily what we should be looking at. And also eating sensibly, exercising regularly will ensure a long and healthy life to all! For some ideas refer to Khumb Hara Pyaaz.

Light Indian food – try these low calorie curries

What is life without curry? In fact, life is not without hurry and worry too! Jokes apart, rich and heavy curries are enjoyed only once in a while and given the modern health challenges it is best to ‘skim’, ‘trim’ and ‘slim’ the curries. Indian food has so many curries to be proud of and as there is such a vast repertoire it is not possible, given the space constraint, to give low calorie avatars of all.
Curries are mostly made with a base of fat, onions, tomatoes, whole spices or even with nuts and coconut. At home, preparing curries in minimum oil is no longer an uphill task. Thanks to non-stick cooking ware and ingenuity of budding cooks!
Use spinach with creativity
Pureed fresh spinach can make a rich base for mixed vegetables, or tender sweet corn kernels, or even paneer (as in palak paneer!). Make a puree of blanched spinach with some ginger, garlic and green chillies. Start cooking it in the tempered oil and add the masalas and vegetables or chicken.
Tomatoes are a great help
Puree fresh ripe tomatoes with ginger, garlic and green chillies. Sauté in a non-stick pan till a little dry. Then add boiled dal, or steamed vegetables and of course you can highlight the curry with red chilli powder and garam masala powder.
Love for makhni
Tomatoes are pureed with onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, red pumpkin, cumin seeds, kasuri methi, salt and red chilli powder. As you sauté this paste in one teaspoon of oil, keep ready some low fat milk (instead of cream) and a paste of cornflour in water with some sugar. Finish off the dish with addition of your choice (grilled chicken or marinated chicken or steamed vegetables or paneer).
Stews sans oil
In a large pan put together some chicken pieces, chunks of potato, cauliflower and carrot. A handful of snow peas add colour. Bring to boil in sufficient water and add two star anise, two to three cloves, one inch stick of cinnamon, grated fresh garlic, roughly chopped green chillies, salt and crushed black peppercorns. By the time the whole thing is done the house is fragrant with a spice-laden aroma that will never let anyone know that this stew has no added fat.
Other tips
What is curry without rice or bread? When you are serving a curry made in a healthier way why not skip white rice and get along with brown rice? Also skip white bread and look for good quality brown bread or best still, serve rotis.
Let us add a new recipe to our repertoire of healthy curries. Koftas are generally fried before being dunked in curry. But this one is different! Try Tamatar Murgh Kofta.