Ever wondered how 200 calories look like in various food items?

Foodies would love this, or for a very simple reason, might hate this post as well as it can shock you with the reality! A true foodie, not bothering about how much calorie he/she is consuming, eats away anything and everything gloriously! But when it comes to the consequences of the increasing waist lines and that paunch, then there is a worry! After all not everyone is blessed with an absolute amazing metabolism, which would keep them in shape without much of a fuss, no matter how much goes in!

Taking into consideration these facts, this post very attractively through illustrations will show you how much you are taking in and in what form, and how much you should cut down to lose that extra inch. As such, calculating calories is in fashion these days. People are too conscious about their health and the kind of food they eat. So, it becomes absolutely necessary for us to understand the portion size of the food we eat and how much calorie it contains.

Every individual requires certain calories according to the body weight, height and kind of physical activity they do. Hence, a good knowledge about the calories you are consuming will help you manage your weight and avoid over eating.

We often think that lower the weight of a food, lower is the calorie content. But this is not always true in most of the cases. Believe it or not! By the end of this article, I am sure you will be able to understand that it is both the calorie count and the weight of a particular food on which the overall health factor depends.

To generalize, the article gives you an information on how 200 calories actually look like in different food items which include individual ingredients as well as the most popular and common recipes that are a part of an average Indian’s day-to-day life.

Go on, watch and read carefully! Can be an absolute shocker!

Too blunt to be true, isn’t it? Are you ready to watch that calorie count of yours?
All the best!
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

A chocolate affair!

I always come across people who have a keen interest in making chocolate and chocolate recipes at home, but, are somehow always afraid to try their hand at it. Chocolate as a commodity has always been a mystery, as it is not an easy ingredient to handle when we want to make something out of it. It has always been considered to be an alien ingredient, but not anymore. You won’t need to admire these delectable creations from a distance at bakeries and chocolate shops anymore. They can now be made by you, in your home kitchen.

Here are a few tips and pointers that you should keep in mind while handling chocolate.

How chocolate should be melted and handled

•Chop large chocolate blocks into smaller pieces and put in a plastic bowl. Avoid using glass or stainless steel bowls as they cause uneven heating.

•If using a Microwave oven, place the bowl in it and start the melting process from 40 seconds at 50% intensity of the Microwave. Then, take the bowl out, stir and continue this process till the complete chocolate is melted. Please do not ever keep for longer time at higher temperatures as chocolate needs delicate treatment.

•If using a double boiler, take a medium height pan filled one-fourth with water and heat it. When the water is at a simmer, reduce heat to minimum, place a bowl that fits on the mouth of the pan and start putting the chocolate in it to be melted, little at a time. One important point to remember here is that you should not boil the water as it will affect the viscosity of the chocolate and steam from boiling water may play havoc. Keep stirring the chocolate pieces till completely melted.

•Remember, water is the biggest enemy of chocolate! Especially, when the chocolate is being melted for use in confectionary, candy making, tempering, etc., you should be very careful that not even a single drop of water gets into it. But if this happens by mistake, keep it aside to use in recipes where it is only an ingredient, and start afresh.

•Check for blooming and any odours in the chocolate bars. When chocolate is exposed to warm temperatures, the fat softens and chocolate is then untempered, causing light grey or white areas on the surface of the chocolate. Also, sometimes you might find small white dots on the chocolate, which is due to condensation.

•Avoid overheating of chocolate as it results in making the chocolate thick after melting.

•If there is a loss of colour in the chocolate bars, this may be due to changes in the light, temperature and humidity.

•The preferred working temperatures in the Indian scenario is around 20°C with humidity not more than 50% and preferably on marble work tops. Marble helps keep the chocolate cool.

•It is always good to work with clean kitchenware and work tops when handling chocolate and also advisable to keep some kitchenware separate (especially in Indian kitchens where interaction with masalas will give unwarranted flavours to your chocolate) that can be used when working with chocolate.

•And this one is for all chocolate lovers – always remember to look at the ingredients printed on the packet. Chocolate with natural cocoa butter rather than vegetable fats is always more healthy. Not to forget, chocolate is good source of energy at any given time.

How to store chocolate
Now that we have travelled through the processes of making of chocolate and handling it, there is one more aspect that is left which is really important when working with this sinful ingredient, and, that is the storage. The following pointers will help you tackle the issues of storing chocolate perfectly:

•In the Indian climate, ideally chocolates should be stored at temperatures ranging from 15°C to 20°C at humidity not more than 50%.

•The best way to store chocolate is to put the original packing in plastic wrap, cling film or zip lock bags, place them in airtight containers and put in the refrigerator. One important point to remember is that you should never keep the chocolate in a deep freezer, as this may spoil the chocolate because of condensation that may occur.

•It is also advisable to store chocolate away from strong odours as it may absorb the strong smells from other items, thus spoiling its own aroma.

•Then for application of refrigerated chocolate, the best way to use it is to keep the chocolate at room temperature for about ten-fifteen minutes (to avoid temperature and humidity shock that may cause condensation and thickening) and then open the packets.

By now, I am sure that your interest in this wonderful ingredient has risen further than what it was before and you are now confident of trying your hand and cooking skills to dish out some amazing chocolate recipes in your kitchen. Once you keep in mind these basic tips, making chocolate concoctions in your home will be a breeze. For more chocolaty recipes you can refer to my book aah! Chocolate. It is a collection of chocolate recipes ranging from beverages to cakes to mithais all involving chocolate. As of now here are a few recipes to get you started…

Choco Coconut Ladoos
Choco Cups
Chocolate Almond Bar
Happy cooking!
Sanjeev Kapoor

Mothers Day is every day!

 

MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

The celebration of Mother’s day on the 2nd Sunday in the month of May, is a relatively new concept in India but celebrating our mothers is not. Just one day to celebrate our beloved maa just seems very unfair for those of us who owe everything we have to our moms. It is indeed a time to reflect and rejoice the presence of a mother in our lives and to honor mothers, motherhood and the influence they have on our society and we must do that with great gusto!

A woman can endure pain and hardships – both mental and physical far more than men can and a mother even more. A mother is someone who will have more good wishes, love, aspirations and hope for you, than even you have for yourself. Only mothers can have that rare combination of being extremely loving and yet strict whenever needed. There is so much that they get done in a short time of 24 hours and so multitasking comes naturally to them. Being a mother is a full time job with the salary being smiles on the faces of her children.

My mother is my world. I have been extremely close to her since I was a child. She has always been the problem solver in my life. Every time I find myself in a scrape I go to my mother for reassurance. She doesn’t always have a solution to the problem, but just talking to her makes things better. She is the guiding force in my life and I can be sure of her love and support through thick and thin. Not only has she raised me and my siblings with a lot of love and affection but also taught us morals and values that we proudly follow to date. My mother is a great cook and I must give her plenty of credit for my cooking prowess. Watching her prepare various delicacies right from my childhood is probably what instilled the love for cooking and food in me. I may have carved a name for myself in the world but I will always be proud to say that I am Mrs Urmil Kapoor’s son.

In India, we put our mothers on the same pedestal as God. You touch your mother’s feet before every important occasion. According to the Hindu mythology, there are 8 incarnations of a mother in the form of goddesses. Each of them signifies different virtues that we must imbibe in our lives.

Parvati: Power to detach and withdraw
Parvati is life giving and sacred. She teaches us that you can only live a full filling life once you learn how to detach yourself from the negatives and people around you and the things that are pulling you down. Once you rise above that it becomes easy to be joyful and in turn keep others content. Her symbol is a cow, which is considered sacred and life giving.

Durga: Power to let go
Let go off all the negativity and vices in your life. Letting go of things isn’t easy and it does require a lot of strength. Durga maa is also known as shakti and she sits on a lion. Let go off your old habits and forgive those who may have wronged you.

Jagdamba: Power to Tolerate
Jadgamba means mother to all, she considers everyone her child. Tolerance is natural and not negative. You don’t get hurt when you tolerate. She gives out a message of unconditional love and purity. It is important to love and mother your own self first, only then will it be possible to mother others. Nurture and heal yourself.

Santoshi: Power to Accept
Acceptance has always been difficult for mankind. Santoshi maa teaches us the power to accept. Like in a bowl of rice, every person is different from the other, yet we must accept them as they are and treat everyone as equals without putting forth any conditions.

Gayatri: Power to Discern
She teaches us to differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong and to discriminate. The spinning chakra behind her head symbolizes self realization. The conch shell that she has teaches us that the right words must be spoken at the right time. The swan she sits on symbolizes love.

Saraswati: Power to Decide
Saraswati maa is the goddess of knowledge and music. The sitar in her hand tells you to create your own music, the scriptures she holds depict accurate decisions and the rosary or the jaap mala tells us that decisions are independent, but should be made keeping others in mind.

Kali: Power to face
She is fearless and teaches us that once we overcome our fears, including the fear of death, we can perform our actions with more conviction. We don’t need to face people but overcome our own weakness instead. Don’t accept weakness, kill that demon.

Laxmi: Power to Cooperate
She teaches us to co operate with others instead of competing with them. The lotus that she sits on symbolizes how it’s possible to be pure even amidst muck. The gold coins that she drops from her hands signify detachment. The more you give the more you get. She teaches us to give without any expectations.

These are all the qualities that we find in a mother. A cow is called “gaay mata” because they are nourishing and loving and peaceful and provide us with everything that we need. We call our country “Bharat maa” for the same reason. Anything associated with the word maa is automatically special and sacred. Remember your mom’s was the 1st finger you held, she helped you take your 1st step, she sent you to school, bought you new clothes for each birthday, chased you around the house so you could drink that one glass of milk, she was the person who stayed awake with you during your exams, Maybe scolded you for your mistakes but always forgave you for them, she is there by you even when adversity takes over prosperity. Let’s just sum it all up by saying that – God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.

Love her, Cherish her and Respect her!

Here are a few recipes from my book called “Cooking with love”. This book is a compilation of recipes from my mothers’ kitchen. Try these out and I am sure you will love them for more you can log on to sanjeevkapoor.com

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Why is it so hot today…?

Discussing the weather has always been the best way to fill up an awkward silence, but these days discussions about the heat does not fill up awkward silences in conversations anymore, they are the topic of conversation! Everyone seems to be complaining about how hot it is! Arre bhai, jab garmi ka mausam hain, toh garmi hi hogi na! Summers have always been hot. Even ten years back and they will continue to be hot even 10 years later. Why do we crib so much about the heat now?  Is it because we travel in air conditioned cars, sleep in air conditioned bedrooms and work in air conditioned offices – is that why it is so annoying for us when we have to spend even a few minutes without the icy cool breeze of the AC? Have we conditioned our bodies and mind to be accustomed to an air conditioner?  I agree it is really hot this time around, but there are always ways to beat the heat and also make the most of it!

As kids, summer was our most favorite season of the year! Summer brought along with it so many other happy things – mangoes, ice creams, days devoted to playing and fooling around with other kids in the locality. We used to play outdoors the entire day, unperturbed by the harsh Dilli ki kadakti dhoop aur garmi. After coming back home, my mother would always give us a piece of jaggery mixed in water to drink as it helps to maintain the balance in blood sugar and also provides instant energy. Back then we would just be happy to eat the jaggery and not worry about the therapeutics involved. Summer vacations would be like food paradise for our family. My mother would start preparing a hundred different things. Instead of cribbing about how hot it was, we would make the best of it! There are certain things that are best done in summer. Families in the neighborhood would come together and make papads and pickles of different types and then put them out to dry on the terrace. Aam ka panna and gajar ki kanji were my favourites since childhood. Everything was made in bulk and stored in large jars from which my brother and I would steal a taste every now and then. Mangoes would be a regular feature on the menu along with watermelons, muskmelons and lychees. Playing the entire day would be tiring and we would keep hydrated by having something to drink all day long. My favourites were and continue to be shikanji and sugarcane juice and not to forget the cold milk, flavoured with rose syrup that I used to have after the siesta in the afternoon.

We should be happy that we Indians are blessed with plenty of sunshine during summers, while people from other parts of the world wait for some sunshine so they can get tanned! This is also the best time to incorporate fresh veggies and fruits in our diet. It is best to buy fresh produce from your local sabzi market. Avoid heavy meals and stick to fresh juices and frozen fruit sorbets, summer salads, cold soups, etc. as the summer heat does tend to make us feel less hungry. This is also good for people who want to lose some weight. The heat makes you sweat more which helps you detoxify your body in a very natural way, it is like a very natural sauna! Going out in the sun and soaking in the Vitamin D is a great way to regulate blood sugar levels and also to help bones absorb the calcium for our body. But, make sure that you do this in the early morning hours as the sunlight then is the best for our body. It is possible to benefit from this heat. Natural sunlight increases the oxygen content in human body and also has a great effect on fitness, muscular development and stamina. Besides this, for the rest of the day, rub on a little sun tan lotion if you don’t want to get tanned, wear your head gears (caps, hats) or take an umbrella that would protect you from the sunrays and keep sipping on the essential fluids – water, coconut water, fresh juices are what I would suggest. Most of the North and South India and places like Rajasthan and Gujarat have very high temperatures between March and June, but thankfully for me, my current home Mumbai is not that bad when it comes to the heat. The humidity and the sea breeze keep it pleasant as compared to other places that are affected by the hot dry winds also called loo.

I want to end this post by sharing an incident I heard from a friend of mine. So, this friend has had the pleasure of working with Mr Amitabh Bachchan. They were shooting in Chennai during the month of May and this was before the times of air conditioned vanity vans. Mr Bachchan was waiting for a shot, sitting on a chair and reading a book – seeming oblivious to the heat! My friend who had just shouted at the producer for not providing him with an AC room, walked up to Mr Bachchan and asked him how he was so unperturbed by the heat. “Are you not feeling hot?” he asked. Mr Bachchan replied by saying “If you put the thought in my mind then yes, if not then no.” Since that day I haven’t heard my friend crib about any kind of discomfort. He says – if Mr Bachchan can do it why can’t we!

So, get out of the house and enjoy the sun while it is still bright and shining. The monsoons are going to start in a few months and then we will find ourselves cribbing about how rains make our lives so inconvenient! Till then enjoy the summers in the right spirit, and I’m sure these recipes will help you do so!

Chilled Melon Ball Salad
Masala Soda
Tender Coconut Kulfi
 
Happy Summer season to all! 
 
 
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor