Rice to the rescue!

How many times have we thought rice is a blessing? We use it for holy purposes but we also can pressure up a quick pulao or khichdi when hunger pangs are drumming away! Rice has come to my rescue at many occasions and I am totally happy with kadhi chawal or rajma chawal as a main meal.

But I changed a few things some years back. I switched to brown. Now that is something most of you are doing so easily now, thanks to the new awareness about whole food, thanks to the easy availability and thanks to all those wonderful recipes. But when I started cooking it at home, there was big resistance especially from my little kids. I could not blame them because I too found the rice looking different, tasting different.

Brown rice is the least processed form of rice. Kernels of rice from which only the hull has been removed. The light brown colour is caused by the presence of bran layers, which are rich in minerals and vitamins. Cooked brown rice has a slightly chewy texture and a nut-like flavour.

That’s when another twist happened. My in laws came to stay. So here we are at the table and here they are expecting lovely white rice to round off the meal and Alyona brings in a bowl of not so white rice! They did eat it up because I spoke up and defined the healthier possibilities in brown rice but could see the lack of conviction on the faces of my dining companions. So the chef had to get to work again and for the evening meal Alyona and I made them a nice soft khichdi with brown rice and dal. Added a bit of haldi and salt and they loved it! So when the brown rice non-lovers come over, make khichdi!

But things are certainly on track now. The kids expect nothing but brown rice on the table and there is no fuss. And brown rice makes some lovely oil free pulaos and biryanis too…try some boiled grains in a chicken soup to make it heartier, or even try a kheer with brown rice, you cannot go wrong. I have also made pohe using the flattened rice made from brown rice.

So be it basmati, parboiled, glutinous, long grain Patna, pudding, red wild rice, risotto, sushi, Jasmine, or brown – getting to know and use all types of rice has enough material for an encyclopedia.

Brown versus white rice
Brown rice takes longer to cook than regular white rice (about forty five minutes versus fifteen to twenty minutes) because of the structure of the brown rice grain. Brown rice has far more nutrients as vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folacin, potassium, magnesium, iron and over dozen other nutrients. Added to that, the dietary fibre contained in white rice is around a quarter of brown rice. Brown rice may help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, and may even contribute towards maintaining a healthy weight.

Health points in rice
The Vitamin B is important. Rice gruel is considered easy food for the stomach especially for the ailing. Compared to wheat, rice has lower gluten content so more easily digestible.

Products
Flour, crispies, noodles, paper, flakes….rice comes in many forms. Around the world the snack industry is doing wonders. Look at our bhel puri…puffed rice is the basic ingredient. And crispies make breakfast cereal. Glazed with gur, puffed rice becomes a chikki or enters bars of chocolates.

New frontiers
Sushi with sticky rice is something I am going to be working on in my kitchen…rice has always presented challenges and I simply love overcoming them!

As for now some simple rice recipes to get you going!

Brown Rice Biryani with Chutney Chicken
Herbed Rice with Mushrooms
Kurmura Tadka
Brown Rice Payasam

 

Happy Cooking, Happy Eating!
Sanjeev Kapoor

The simplest of the curries – Aloo Mutter

Call it aloo matar or aloo mutter, the spellings just do not matter! What matters is that the peas should be glistening fresh, the potatoes peeled and raring to go and you have the provision to serve your aloo mutter with freshly made rotis or steamed rice. So here is the recipe of the traditional Punjabi home cooking at its best cooked inPunjabi a flavorful onion-tomato gravy. Perfect Yogurt is also good in a bowl along with this meal.
Place a non stick medium pan on medium heat and pour in 2 tablespoons oil. When small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan, add 1 bay leaf and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to change color, add the 2 medium chopped onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes or till the onions turn golden. Add 1½ teaspoons ginger paste and 1½ teaspoons garlic paste and sauté for ½ a minute. Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1½ teaspoons coriander powder and 1 teaspoon red chilli powder and sauté for ½ a minute. Stir in the 2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes and 3 cups water. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or till the potatoes are half-cooked. Remove the lid, stir in 1 cup fresh tomato puree, cover again and cook for 8 minutes or till the potatoes are tender. Remove the lid, add 1¼ cups green peas, 1 teaspoon garam masala powder and salt to taste and stir. Cover again and cook for about 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis or rice. In fact, Lachcha Parantha is also an excellent accompaniment. This recipe comes in really handy when you do not wish to prepare two things: a dal and a sabzi! Make aloo mutter and things are simple.

Eating healthy the Indian way

Healthy Indian food diet can be made still more healthier. Traditional Indian meals are surely well balanced in all aspects especially when the meal has roti- sabzi- dal- chawal, yogurt with salad. But when we switch over to healthier cooking options, the oil content in all the preparations can be controlled.

The cooking techniques that can help to make daily Indian food diet healthier are steaming and pressure cooking. These are ideal ways to preserve most of the nutrients present naturally in food. For cooking of vegetables, use minimum oil for tempering and cook covered on medium heat so that they get cooked in their own juices.

Look at making the Indian snacking healthier. A lot of snacks can be baked instead of deep-fried. Like for example namakparas, shakkerparas, gujias (karanjis), etc., can be baked. Date and Anjeer Baked Karanji is a good snack recipe. Similarly choose steamed snacks instead of deep fried ones – like dhoklas and idlis. Both these items can be made in various combinations and therefore add variety. Also the popular Gujarati snack muthia can be steamed instead of deep-fried. Vegetables like fenugreek, carrot, etc., can add nutrient value. Check the recipe of Methi Gajar Muthia.

Other tips to make Indian food diet healthier are

  • Always eat fresh food. Cook just as much as needed so that there are no leftovers. Use fresh vegetables or meats or fish.

  • Ideally vegetables should not be chopped or cut too much in advance as certain vitamins and minerals are lost. Also do not cook vegetables in too much water and then drain away the cooking liquour as this way too a lot of minerals and vitamins are lost because they get leeched in the water.

  • When you think you should have paranthas switch to phulkas instead. And when you make paranthas roast them on non-stick tawa so that a bare minimum of oil need be used. Spinach and Cabbage Parantha is an interesting version.

  • Talking about food combinations starch and acids should never be eaten in one meal. For instance, white bread and citrus juices cannot be digested together. Fats and sugars too should not be eaten in one meal. Simply put, do not combine cereals, bread, potatoes or other such foods with oranges, grapefruit, pineapple or other acidic foods.

  • There should be only one kind of protein in one meal. The protein based foods will excite acids in the stomach while the starch or carbohydrates will get the alkalis flowing and therefore they will neutralize each other, forming a watery solution, digesting neither. The food then rots inside though we get the feeling of fullness. And this rotting food causes all kinds of digestive problems like gas, heartburn, cramps, bloating, constipation, etc., and eventually the blood stream will absorb the toxins produced by this rotting and result in allergies, hives, headaches, nausea, etc.