Dum laga ke haisha!

As Indians, we all love when our biryanis and certain authentic curries are done to perfection on dum! Dum is nothing but one of the ways that falls under the ‘slow cooking’ category. A cooking method that is back in vogue and people around the world are readily accepting it. Hyderabadi_Dum_Gosht_Biryani

Any kind of food preparing method that depends on low-heat usage for a long time can fall under the ‘slow cooking’ technique. As already stated, dum in Indian cooking is one of the best examples alongwith others like low-heat ovens, pit cooking, barbecues, etc., that are common worldwide.

So, why slow cooking is back, and that too with a bang!? Lies in the irony of our lives. The faster it became, the more we looked out for solutions that made life fuss-free. Gone are the days when we actually sit and ponder over what we want to eat in our meals (unless of course if it’s a weekend). By the time we reach home, our head doesn’t allow us to put in that extra effort to cook (even if the heart wants us to do that!).

Thus, the conclusion – speed of cooking inversely proportional to the speed of life! It’s as simple as that.

Hence, the idea of slow cooking does best for this fast paced life – take a cooking utensil, throw in the meats/veggies alongwith seasoning and spices and let it simmer on low heat. And by the time you freshen up and get back to eat, voila! You have a complete meal ready – hearty, nutritious and delicious! Plus you saved your time and energy that you can put-in on relishing the final dish! Cool, isn’t it?

Proves absolutely useful for bachelors and spinsters too – the ones who go weak on their knees even with the thought of cooking the simplest of meals! You can almost swear by this method to prep-up some great homemade dishes. What better can the feel be – it saves you from the guilt of feeding on fast-food or restaurant food daily!

Top 5 reasons to ‘slow-cook’

  1. Makes food extremely soft by breaking down the hard connective tissues. So, great for fibrous veggies and tough cuts of meats.

  2. Provides better results as flavours are infused with one another over time. Brings out the best.

  3. To achieve a uniform level of cooking of a huge quantity, without burning or drying.

  4. Want to dissolve your pastas, potatoes or beans into stews? Go for slow-cooking.

  5. Long-cooking times can automatically create a festive atmosphere with food being the centre of attraction. Use the slow-cooking method to create your unique dishes for that special gathering!

But just remember these few cons…

  1. Not a good option for caramelising certain food ingredients.

  2. You cannot expect to get crunchiness on food with this method. For obvious reasons!

  3. If you want to keep those burst of flavours distinct and avoid mixing of them with one another, you definitely shouldn’t be opting for slow cooking.

So, you already gotten yourselves to slow cooking? Well, master it with investing in the right type of gadgets as well – everything from the simple slow cooker, stock pot and casserole to the fancy high-end combi-oven and Sous Vide cookers are available in the market. You just need to decide on your preference, get one of these and use them whenever you plan to slow cook.

As I end, here’s a list of some of my favourite food that is slow cooked. These include not just the non-veg fare like a flavourful Paya Shorba, Dum Murgh, Hyderabadi Dum Gosht Biryani, Dum ki Kaliyan (I put it up on my restaurant, The Yellow Chilli’s menu too!) but even veg dishes like Qaabooli (a traditional Hyderabadi biryani with rice and Bengal gram), Lehsuni Tendli, Tinda Dum Tamatar, Dum Paneer Mitti Handi (done in earthenware to enhance the flavours all the more!), some international stews, one-pot meals, etc.

I would definitely recommend all to try these recipes out, the way they are supposed to be. Just log onto www.sanjeevkapoor.com and get going.

Happy slow cooking!

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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 🙂

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! 

Holi, lets you be!

Holi hai! Holi is one such occasion that let us all go. As this Hindu festival marks the beginning of spring season and celebrates life with the triumph of good over evil, spreading the message of love, unity and peace. People across India enjoy this festival with vibrant colours, tasty food and great drinks. Holi calls for some interesting activities, eventually activating hunger pangs! You can play around with one of the unique yet staple ingredients – yogurt or curd, which is our very own desi dahi. This ingredient is extremely versatile and the numerous recipes that include it cater to all kinds of palates.

This Holi instead of serving traditional thandai to your guests, try out curd based recipes. Curd is easier to digest as compared to milk. It is also an option for people, who cannot tolerate milk, either because of protein allergy or lactose intolerance. This ingredient is used in both sweet and savoury dishes throughout India. Moreover, this ingredient is an excellent remedy for indigestion after you have consumed on mithais and other traditional dishes while rejoicing the festival. You can easily balance it out by dishing out some yummy curd recipes.

Did you know a good bowl of curd contains millions of microorganisms? Well, you don’t have to think twice before you reach for the creamy concoction as these microorganisms are ‘friendly’ bacteria that make the product good for health. Holi celebration starts early morning, which continues till late afternoon. So a bowl full of tadkewaali dahi chawaal will be very comforting. Why just curd rice, you can try out regular recipe with a tweak like dahi gujia or dahi idli.

For an instant preparation, you can dish out good fruit-based raita, which is made with ripe bananas. Chop bananas and add well-beaten curd. Add sugar to taste. It is nutritious filler after you have reveled in Holi celebrations.

Impress your guests and taste buds with unique recipe 
of Dahi Batata Puri
Dahiwala cake – Indulge in the divinity of this sweet dish
Enjoy chilled Yogurt Cocktail after a playful time

Go fusion this Holi! 

Happy Holi! Keep cooking and Keep eating and write back with your food experiences this Holi!

A cake that cheers

Cooking can be great fun. It not only gives you a sense of achievement but is also very therapeutic. I say achievement because when the dish you have cooked turns out good and tasty you do feel as if you have conquered the world. I feel like it even now after so many years in this line. And I say therapeutic because it really helps calm your nerves. Especially when you are feeling bored or lonely or depressed or even nervous – just pick up a bowl and a ladle and churn out something. You will really feel good. Moreover, it is definitely time well spent especially during vacations!

An easy to make cake that is flavoured with chocolate & orange

Chocolate and Orange Cake

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 – 25 minutes
No of servings: should serve 4, but I could easily eat it alone!

Chocolate and Orange Cake

Ingredients:
175 gms grated dark chocolate
5 tbsps orange juice
1 orange
100 gms margarine
225 gms castor sugar
2 eggs
150 gms full fat yogurt
275 gms refined flour (maida)
1 tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)

Equipment you will need:
An oven
A mixing bowl
A wooden spoon
A sieve
A grater
An egg beater
A cake tin
A wire rack

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2. Place margarine in a bowl, add sugar and beat together till light. Break eggs and add to the bowl and mix. Add yogurt and mix. Grate the rind of an orange and add to the mixture. Add orange juice and mix well.
3. Sift refined flour and baking soda into the bowl and mix. Add chocolate and mix well.
4. Pour the batter into a rectangular silicon mould and level the surface.
5. Keep it in the preheated oven and bake. Check after 20 minutes if it is done. If it is not cooked completely, then bake for 5 minutes more.
6. Removed from oven and cool. Remove from the mould, slice and serve.

Know the terms
In baking the term creaming means blending two ingredients – usually granulated sugar with a solid fat like butter. This technique is generally used while making a cake or a cookie dough. In the process the mixture becomes light and fluffy and also increases in volume due to the incorporation of tiny air bubbles. These air bubbles, locked into the semi-solid fat, remain in the final batter and expand during the baking process thus helping to make the cake or the cookie light.

Tech talk
Preheat the oven before putting in the cake to be baked. Switch it on while you are mixing the cake. Grease the tin, then also the lining paper or you can also sprinkle some flour or cocoa powder before pouring in the cake batter into the mould, will definitely make demoulding easier!
A cake is baked when it shrinks slightly away from the edges of the tin, and when touched lightly with a finger will spring back. A clean skewer inserted into it should come out free from particles of cake.

Good health tip
Adding some fruit to baked goods adds a natural flavour that is not possible with synthetic essences. Orange and chocolate are a perfect match in this superb cake.

Try out one more recipe with this great combination (this one is white chocolate and orange) and also tell me about your favourite flavour combinations and recipes that don’t go wrong!

Orange Chocolate Tarts 

 

Happy Cooking, Happy Eating!

Fruity facts!

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 also satisfy your sweet tooth without loading up on calories.

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.

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. Try all the new and unfamiliar fruits. You may be surprised to find that you like them, and they will add interest and more health benefits to your diet.

Try this recipe and find several more on http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com

FRESH FRUIT TART

FRESH FRUIT TART 

Ingredients

1 pear
1 small pineapple, peeled
1 medium mango
1 kiwi, peeled
2 plums
2-3 large red grapes
2½ cups refined flour + for dusting
1 cup butter + for greasing
½ cup castor sugar
1¼ cups chilled whipped cream

Method

1. Preheat oven at 180°C. Line a 7-inch tart mould by greasing with a little butter and dusting with little refined flour.

2. To make tart mould, combine refined flour, butter and castor sugar in a bowl. Rub well till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Add little water and mix into a soft dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

4. Dust dough with little flour and roll out into a large disc. Line the prepared tart mould and press from inside so that the dough set properly inside the mould. Discard the edges, press the sides with the thumb and prick the inside base with a knife. Fill the inside by keeping kidney beans on the base and put in the preheated oven. Blind bake for 12-15 minutes.

5. Remove mould from oven and demould.

6. Cut and deseed pear. Roughly chop pineapple. Peel, deseed and roughly chop mango. Slice kiwi. Deseed and roughly chop plums.

7. Spread whipped cream inside the tart mould and level it out. Place chopped fruits on it the way you want.

8. Deseed red grapes and halve them. Place them in the tart and serve immediately.

PS: This recipe is such that you can try out several different combinations of fruits and toppings, let me know if you put your own spin on it and how!

Till then
Happy cooking, happy eating! Stay healthy stay fit!

Understanding acidity

Hectic schedules are a part and parcel of life these days, and the thing that gets affected the most is our meals and with irregular eating or eating after large gaps comes acidity!

The stomach normally secretes acid that is essential in the digestive process. This acid helps in breaking down the food during digestion. When there is excess production of acid by the gastric glands of the stomach, it results in the condition known as acidity. However, there are certain types of ulcers where acid secretion is either normal or even low. Acidity is responsible for symptoms like dyspepsia, heartburn and the formation of ulcers (erosion of the lining of the stomach or intestines). Persons who are diabetic often suffer from acidity.

diet

Identifying and avoiding the causative factors are essential in the treatment of acidity. A suitable diet must be strictly followed avoiding spicy, salty and acidic foods. Smoking and alcohol consumption must be stopped. Those with highly nervous and emotional disposition and those involved in high-stress jobs must be encouraged to take lifestyle modifying measures. Antacids provide immediate relief of symptoms by neutralizing the excess acid secreted. Just being aware of what you eat and at what time will guide you to better health. Acidity is a common affliction related to stress in these modern times and we are sure that this list of things will be a helpful guide.

Here is a list of foods that are acid forming and low level acid forming:

Acid forming foods
Low level acid forming foods
Alkaline foods
Low level alkaline foods
Alcohol
Butter
Almonds
Apricots
Beans
Cheese
Corn
Nuts
Asparagus
Coconut (dried)
Dates
Buckwheat
Chickpeas
Fruits (canned)
Grapes
Chestnuts
Coffee
Dried fruits
Honey
Fresh coconut
Eggs
Grains
Lemon
Dairy products
Fish
Ice cream
Melons
Flour products
Homemade Ice-milk
Maple syrup
Legumes
Seeds and nuts
Molasses
Lentils
Oranges
Meat
Raisins
Milk
Vegetables
Noodles
Organ Meats
Pasta

Home remedies for acidity relief

  • Take one piece of clove and suck on it slowly. This will give you relief from acidity and also help in reducing the onslaught of diseases arising out of acidity.
  • Eat a cup of vanilla ice cream or drink a glass of cold milk to get heartburn and acidity relief within minutes.
  • Almonds can relieve heartburn. Eat several almonds when heartburn symptoms persist.
  • Lemons can also prevent heartburn. Cut a lemon into thin strips and dip in salt. Eat before meals to prevent heartburn.

We have got thousands of tried and tested recipes on www.sanjeevkapoor.com ! Several that get made in a jiffy – so here’s hoping with all these tips and recipes acidity should never be a pain again!

Happy Eating, Happy Cooking!

Sanjeev Kapoor