Vacation with the family!

Holidays are the perfect time to relax, travel, learn about different cultures, amass new experiences, have real conversations and seek out ways to make lives better for ourselves and those around us! The past week has been all of this and more! I traveled to Jordan with my favourite people in the whole world – Family! With the company of gorgeous ladies – my wife Alyona, my two daughters – Rachita and Kriti, my mother and mother-in-law, Jordan seemed more beautiful than it did on my last work visit there.

My Family

My Family

Jordan is a beautiful place that is filled with history. Travelling the sandy roads, surrounded by carved eroded stone structures and Herculean Mountains is something that you have to experience on your own. The serenity of these places makes me wonder that is probably why the Nabataean’s guard their culture so fiercely! The people in this part of the world are so welcoming and generous and they love to eat and definitely to feed! The food is very similar to other countries in the Middle East – so you have got to like chickpeas! Just joking – while chickpeas are a very important food ingredient, there is also an array of other ingredients that are used in plenty. Vegetable dishes and dips, a wide variety of breads and rice dishes along with different types of meat kababs and delicious dried fruits laden desserts are all heroes in Jordanian cuisine! Eating at the local markets and sipping coffee from the small portable coffee carts or having Coffee with Gold at the Emirates palace – food experience on this trip comprised of all this and more. We even visited the Amman outlet of The Yellow Chilli for a scrumptious Indian meal midweek.

Beautiful Jordan

Beautiful Jordan

We also shopped a lot and amongst the things we got were a packet of dried apricots,they are round, soft and golden unlike the totally dehydrated versions of apricots called khubani that we grew up with. These golden apricots are a delight to cook with and should be too, considering the fact that as a snack they are most fulfilling. There are several more ways we can use these. The rich sweet chewiness makes them appealing for the palate and adds vitamins and fibre to the daily diet without much ado.

Jordan

So be it sweet sauces or muffins or stews, sprinkled on hot or cold cereals, dried apricots work just as well as dates or prunes or apples. When you make pancakes next, add chopped apricots to the batter. Of course they give sweetness but they also contribute when you are trying to bake something on a lower fat scale. Apricot puree is the in thing as a substitute for fat. It does not darken the baked goodie like prune puree or water down the recipe like apple puree can. Let me give you a tip about this sticky fruit. When chopping the dried apricots in a food processor, sprinkle with some maida so that they do not stick to the blade. If you are chopping with hand, put some oil on the blade of the knife or kitchen scissors. Or best still roll the apricots in a bit of flour and then chop.

Apricots come in range of colours, believe it or not, from white and pink to black and gray. The colour does not affect the flavour but it does affect the carotene content. Brighter the colour, more the Vitamin A as also the C and E and potassium. When we make comparisons by weight, dried apricots, compared to the fresh, have twelve times the iron content, seven times the fibre content and five times the Vitamin A. Cooks from the Jordanian region use lamb effectively with the apricots in stews as also in stuffings for chicken. Turkish people make something like our aampapad using apricots but they call it apricot leather! Or take Moroccan cooks who do it vice versa: stuff apricots with mutton and cook them with honey and almonds. Point here is what would the Indian kitchen do with these visually appealing fruits? Do hit back at us with your culinary escapades, food experiences and recipes from this part of the world! In the meanwhile you too can try out these recipes that I will definitely be making, this weekend with my packet of gorgeous golden apricots!

 

Plum, Peach and Apricot Crumble

Plum, Peach and Apricot Crumble

 

Jardaloo Marghi

Jardaloo Marghi

 

Apricot Rice with Nuts

Apricot Rice with Nuts

 

Happy Cooking 🙂

We all scream for Ice Cream !

Ice cream is an ancient dish. It goes back hundreds of years and some stories originate from England, some from Rome and even from China. The fact is that ice cream is probably the most loved dessert the world over, loved by young and old alike.

Waffles with Honey and Ice Cream

Waffles with Honey and Ice Cream

Ice cream is believed to be a French chef’s creation for Charles I of England at a state banquet: the new dish was cold and resembled fresh fallen snow but was much creamier and sweeter than any other after-dinner dessert. The guests were delighted, as was the king, who summoned the chef and asked him not to divulge the recipe for his frozen cream. The king wanted the delicacy to be served only at the royal table and offered the cook 500 pounds a year to keep it that way. Sometime later, however, poor Charles fell into disfavour with his people and was beheaded in 1649. But by that time, the secret of the frozen cream remained a secret no more. The cook, named De Mirco, had not kept his promise. This story is just one of many of the fascinating tales which surround the evolution of ice cream. The first improvement in the manufacture of ice cream (from the handmade way in a large bowl) was the invention of the hand-cranked freezer in the 19th century. About 1926 the first commercial successful ‘continuous process’ freezer was perfected. And this has allowed the mass production of ice cream!

Modern commercial ice cream is made from a mixture of ingredients like milk fat, caseins, whey proteins, lactose, sucrose, corn syrup, stabilizers and emulsifiers and surprisingly fifty five to sixty percent of the content is water. Ice cream factories usually make their own ice cream mix by combining milk, cream and sugar in a large vats, with the proportions and mixing controlled by computers.

Ice cream has milk as the major ingredient and similar products like frozen custard, ice milk, sorbets, Gelato, an Italian frozen dessert, and the popsicles (frozen fruit puree, or fruit juice or flavoured sugar water on a stick) and our very own kulfi also comes under the category of ice cream. Some classic ice cream desserts are famous around the world, I would like to mention the Arctic Roll which is a British dessert made of ice cream wrapped in sponge cake to form a roll, often with jam between the sponge and the ice cream. Another is Baked Alaska, a dessert made of ice cream straight from the freezer placed in a pie dish lined with slices of sponge cake and topped with meringue. The entire dessert if then placed in an extremely hot oven just long enough to firm the meringue. The meringue is an effective insulator, and in the short cooking time needed, it prevents the heat getting through to the ice cream.

Ice-creams now come in a mind-boggling variety of flavours. Many people also like ice cream sundaes, with ice cream, hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, cherries and other toppings of their choice. The ice cream in India I believe is still largely unexplored, however every now and then I do come across some brilliant flavours and concepts when it comes to this icy delight. One such thing is the chilli ice cream. The unexpected pleasantly surprising spice of green chillies, in the otherwise sweet, creamy icecream is what makes this a stand out. Im going to share this recipe with you so you’ll can try it first hand and experience the fabulousness of it!

Mango Icecream

Mango Icecream

Another favourite pic of the season is a fresh mango ice cream! Watch me whip up the same here.

Don’t forget to visit www.sanjeevkapoor.com for more recipes and do share your ice cream story with us in the comments below and let’s continue to inspire each other to create more magic in the kitchen!

Happy Cooking !

Benefits of beetroot

When I was a student, I had the idea that eating beetroot would increase my haemoglobin or keep it at a healthy level. In fact, many people are of the belief that beetroot is good for the blood. This is not correct. Of course beetroot is good for you but it is not high in iron so it will not help prevent anaemia, which many believe it will do. Beetroot’s main benefits are that it contains no fat, very few calories and is a great source of fibre. It is widely used as a vegetable all over the world.

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. Try eating the 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.

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 (try it with cheese!) or as an accompaniment to other vegetables. I 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! 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! Plain grated beetroot is great on burgers.

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.

I personally also enjoy the flavour of fresh beetroot in a soup. It is deliciously refreshing and lifts the soup out of the ordinary. You can either serve the soup hot or chilled. In fact the Russians have a popular soup called borsch which is a thick, purple broth of beetroot, potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage.

To start with here are some recipes using beetroot that paint your palate red!

Couscous with Beetroot

Couscous with Beetroot

Biscuit Bites with Beetroot and Carrot Shots 

You could also watch this video of a simple paneer parantha glammed up and made more nutritious with beetroot.

Paneer Beetroot Parantha

 

Beetroot and Yogurt Cheese Piles

Beetroot and Yogurt Cheese Piles

Till then happy cooking happy eating and do not forget to share your thoughts and suggestions with us, because that is where the real inspiration comes from!