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 🙂

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Lovely Sunday

What a lovely Sunday morning it was! Two things: The Mumbai Marathon excitement plus the fact that the weather was so conducive to running…I felt happy for all the participants of the half and full marathon who needed a cool start to the day.
We started off sharp 9.10 am from the starting point. As I was representing the Forum For Autism we had the company of Harsha Bhogle who is also the Brand Ambassador for the Forum. Harsha has sponsored a special child’s education and special needs and encourages everyone else to do so as well. Chitra Iyer, President of Forum for Autism, was there. So were Alyona, both my daughters Rachita and Kriti, and Harsha’s wife Neeta. We had a few special children too with us and we always choose to walk the Dream Run so that they can participate too. We had supporters of the cause who are young and old and cannot necessarily run too. We had prominent placards for holding up and making our presence felt in the 38,000 plus crowd! Right at the starting point had the opportunity to have quick word with Ms Priya Dutt who had some relevant questions for us….there is hope that there would be some steps taken to increase the awareness about autism. We were actually quite in front of the crowd and finished by 10.45….the fastest we have done in all these years.
We had a lunch invitation from a dear friend so our afternoon went in that followed by a massive shopping session for the weekly provisions…early dinner and early lights out!
Monday begins with a back to back schedule of meetings. For today, how about some protein rich foods for a good start to a hectic week.
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Christmas celebrations – something different next year

Christmas with its beautiful colours and friendly times will come again! Time does not stop for anyone but it does bring home some bitter truths about the changing face of the Earth. Celebrations and parties means there is bound to some extra stuff to dispose off like disposable plates, glasses, napkins and bags. Celebrations also mean that more electricity has been used and maybe you did have a fresh fir tree. All these do point out that some portion of the natural resources has been used up, forever.
It is this time that one can become complacent about the environment in the name of celebrations and holidays. But it is important to remain green, look at being eco friendly more so. So a clean green Christmas needs to be planned. It could mean going green in the rituals, in the décor and food and entertainment. In fact we could see green clothed Santas this year…showing that eco friendly celebrations have made a good start and need to be reiterated.
Christmas trees: Artificial trees are also a good choice as they can be reused over and over for many years and in case you get bored, you can buy another one. If at all you are chopping down a real tree, make sure that you plant another one in its place!A large potted plant or a small tree can be used each year as your Christmas tree rather than buying a real tree that has been cut down. The real tree finally gets thrown away adding real damage to the environment.
Christmas decorations: You can make homemade wreaths using fresh foliage. Handmade décor made from recycled or eco- friendly materials are also a good option.
Christmas tree ornaments: Painted eggshells, aluminum foil, paper chains, paper snowflakes, old CD’s, gingerbread men, cookies etc all make excellent ornaments. Use your kid’s doll decorated as an angel for the tree top.
Gifts: In case your gift requires batteries, ensure that you include the rechargeable sorts with charger. In fact, you can simply gift a box of rechargeable batteries! Make the gifts at home if you really cannot think of what to give! Cakes, cookies are always appreciated.
Gift wraps: Colourful magazine papers, or using coloured pictures from your child’s colouring books for wrapping and decorating gifts is a good idea. You can put your gift inside another gift such as a decorative tin, wooden box and tie them with ribbons, etc. Using gift wraps, gift boxes, ribbons and bows from previous year’s celebrations is being sensible.
Greeting cards, gift tags and packaging materials: Save paper by sending an e-card. You can use crushed newspaper for box fillers.

Special day for moms

If Mumbai is hot, Bahrain is hotter! Anyway, all meetings will be held in AC comfort so are the malls and cars. Riyadh is next on the agenda and as all these client meetings end by the weekend, I want to be home for Mother’s Day as my Mom and Alyona’s Mom (from Pune) will be with us and we wish to spend the day with both of them, probably treat them to some of their favourite dishes! In all likelihood, they will be shooing us out of the kitchen and cooking for us!! Let’s see.

On www.sanjeevkapoor.com we will be having a loadful of recipes that kids can make for the family…probably in line with treating moms! I guess we should have also specified that cooking should be followed by clearing up and cleaning up. There are very simple tips to keep the working platform neat while you are cooking…soak, chop, prepare – clear up, and rinse out the barely used utensils and spoons. They go in a basket to dry. Keep some paper towels handy to wipe spills as you work. Once you start cooking, keep the cooking spoon, ladle, spatula in a dish so that it is always handy…also some padded pot holders. Who wants scalded fingers…well, I do tend to get carried away but that is what food and cooking does to me…



Alyona shoots again for Youtube today…some more Gujarati specials and you can see her earlier recipes on http://www.youtube.com/sanjeevkapoorkhazana#p/u



I get many queries about different vegetable preparations…well, here are potatoes, a favourite of many, in different forms.



Aloo Achari

Aloo ka Bharta

Lucknowi Bharwan Aloo



Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Time off, Launch of The Yellow Chilli – Ahmedabad

Hi this is going to be a short note as I am on holiday with family…a long pending one. We had been wanting this break, albeit too short, ever since the kids finished their exams.



Have been travelling a lot and the day after that is 28th April, Wednesday will be in Ahmedabad at The Yellow Chilli, 1st Floor, Heritage Square, Opposite Atlanta Tower, Gulbai Tekra, Ahmedabad – 380 015 for the opening and press conference.



This is the first The Yellow Chilli restaurant in Gujarat, with distinction of being the first pure vegetarian restaurant of this chain. With a capacity of a hundred covers and a private dining area of twenty covers, The Yellow Chilli promises an exciting and different menu with an exotic buffet to be laid out daily. All in all a culinary delight not to be missed. Keeping my fingers crossed.



The press conference is in the day only for media post which there is an exotic buffet. In the evening an exclusive Page 3 party only for the who is who of Ahmedabad. They say it is the preparation that counts and it is so true…even a pilot checks all readings before take off! I am sure my COO and good friend Rajeev has his fingers on the pulse!



May will be exciting on www.sanjeevkapoor.com. We have salads, kiddie recipes (for kids and adults, cooked by kids!), chatpati chaats and mango in its various moods …loads and loads of foods that are appropriate for summer eating.



But April should also end with good food, right?



Cucumber with Chicken and Fresh Red Chillies

Paan Kulfi

Sweet Mango Chutney

Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor.

A year wiser

I move on one more year in my life today. Alyona has planned a quiet relaxed birthday for me as we have had a hectic time at the shoot. My girls are away in Delhi with Mom already enjoying their long vacation. Joining them on Tuesday as there is a wedding to attend. In this context, Alyona has also planned a shopping spree for herself during the weekend.

We will have Jyotsna, Mayur and Manit over for lunch and then maybe, in the evening attend a launch party. The plans are fluid. So are the plans fluid for the annual family trip! Now that the young ladies have determined minds, we have to come to a mutual agreement while deciding the place. I have Bangkok or Portugal in mind at the moment.

Also to be telecast on Times Now, April 10, a short sketch on me. Time is 4.30 pm and repeat on April 11 at 1.30 and 9.30 pm.

So while we all look forward to a great weekend, here are some simple recipes that can make cooking less tedious for you – Anda Parantha, Sev Boondi Bhel, Jelly Belly Icecream

Happy Cooking

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Of stress busters and ghar ka khana !

We are all alarm clock driven people! And therein lies a point…that we wake up to noise and then we are committed to deadlines through the day: get ready, time par, reach work, time par, then finish the work (well, sometimes over time!) and then back home and dinner and sleep time (again this is Indian Flexible Time). Stress, as they say, can culminate and cause some changes in the body that can be detrimental. As we all seem to be really rushing so why not read along for a few minutes and take a breather…think of some stress busters for yourself. What would make you really relaxed and happy for a few minutes in the day?

I love spending time with my family. I love listening to music and of course reading. I love to play on my drums. I can spend hours on end with books. I enjoy travelling and meeting people. I love travelling the world with my camera…for I love photography too. Wherever I go I make it a point to learn about the food of that place and try to learn some recipes too. It’s food that drives me – anything to do with food.

Now, is the new generation feeling concerned about their health? They are concerned – definitely. Which is why even if they do binge they also work out. Here’s where the gyms are making their moolah. In fact I could say that generation next has an edge over us. They know what is good because the bad has come in now offering loads of distractions. They are aware that heavy oily stuff is not good for them. But, as taste and fads are paramount, and there is so much peer pressure, the diet is absolutely trendy. Then like I said there are always the gyms to provide succour. Also accepting dal sabzi roti chawal as a healthy combo is getting along. A proper meal at home is the foundation of good health., then you will come across many who can forgo this combination! But we are not doing a survey here. The young generation will savour ghar ka khana if there is someone around to provide them with fresh stuff. And life is busy for parents and kids alike. So let us take the first step to busting stress by improving our diets and giving more importance to ghar ka khana. Are you with me?

Take some recipes for a good example: Gajar Gobhi Shalgam ka saag, Lauki Manpasand, Tilwale Palak Aloo.

I would prefer to end with ‘happy cooking’ here!

Sanjeev Kapoor