Come rain or shine, yogurt is healthy!

We all talk about dahi/yogurt being a health food and some of us also have a decent quantity of it daily – we might like to have a plain bowlful, or sprinkled with salt and roasted cumin powder. Some of us like it with a spoonful of sugar whereas chaas or lassi is a must in most homes. Chaas and lassi are not only good coolers but also good digestive aids.

Yogurt or dahi has been used as a food for so long that its origins are clouded in legend. The story is told that long ago, some nomads wandering in the desert somewhere in the Middle East were supposed to have placed some milk in a leather pouch, newly made from a sheep’s stomach. The bacteria present in the pouch, plus the steady warmth of the day, curdled the milk which then set to a delightful creamy texture in the cool of the desert night. When we make dahi at home all we do is take some warm pasteurized milk and add some starter (bacterial culture). Then we mix it well, sometimes whisk it hard to make a foam, and then leave it at room temperature for a few hours. Once the dahi sets, we put it in the refrigerator. The bacteria that thicken the milk stop undesirable bacteria growing, at least for a time.

It is the presence of this very bacteria in dahi that makes it a health food. The human gastrointestinal tract contains billions of bacteria, which can be divided into more than two hundred different species. These carry out many functions, ranging from breaking down dietary fibre and undigested starch to synthesising vitamins and regulating the time that food residues stay in the intestine. Their presence also stops many undesirable bacteria taking up residence. Dahi is also rich in protein and calcium and as it is made with the help of good bacteria it acts as an anti infection agent in the intestine.

Sometimes harmful bacteria can overpower normal bacteria. This is what happens when you suffer an attack of diarrhoea. Having yogurt with the good bacteria gives the stomach lining a friendly atmosphere to work in and even in cases of diarrhoea, yogurt is one food that even the doctor allows!

As is the tradition, I will wind up with some recipes….dahi special!


Teen Dal ke Dahi Bhalle
Dahi Papdi Chaat

Chocolate Yogurt.

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor

Monsoon ka magic

I was thrilled to see the enthusiastic response to the Monsoon Snack contest. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your recipes….it was no mean task short listing only 2 winners! And while reading through good recipes, hunger pangs are bound to strike and this is what happened to me too….lovely mouth watering contributions and I think so many of you are talented chefs. So, Congrats to the winners and better luck to all of the rest for the next time.

We have just finished canning some more episodes of Khana Khazana and there are some novelties lined up for you….how to cook fast and smart, how to cook with less fat, and loads of different snacks best for tea time and as starters. I do want to tell you more but then there is no fun if the suspense is not built up. Right!

In fact, the demand for new snack recipes will live forever! I think everyone enjoys a new starter or snack for the simple reason that they add some panache to daily food of dal chawal roti sabzi. Imagine a meal with the essential four just mentioned and one exciting new snack dished up as a surprise…kids would be thrilled and so would the elders be as excitement is an important addition to the dining table. The same holds true for new desserts and one can add zest to daily meals by serving new snacks and desserts alternately.

To liven up the weekend table, here are snacks and desserts that you should try:

Stuffed Potato Shells
Pyaaz Tamatar ka Bun
Oatmeal and Buttermilk Teacakes

Have a good weekend!
Sanjeev Kapoor.

The 5 must haves

Cooking three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and doing this daily can become a drudgery especially if there is a scarcity of recipes. Having the same combinations repeatedly will cause some friction at the dining table because adults (like kids!) also get bored. And then the same holds true for the person who is cooking. There needs to be some magical trick that can alter the taste of the dish and take it to a new tastier level.

There are five little suggestions that can come in handy in the kitchen when you want to add some new kick and flavour to everyday dishes.

Tomato Ketchup
What would the world do without this! It is a relish, no doubt, but added to mixed vegetables with a dash of cream can give you a new recipe. Ketchup also livens up baked dishes. Equal proportions of tomato ketchup, cream and yogurt make a good base for a chicken. One friend adds some ketchup to mashed potatoes when she is making cutlets.

Soya Sauce
I think the use of soya sauce should not be restricted to Chinese food only. Soya sauce has that typical tart and fruity flavour that can be added to other preparations. Try adding soya sauce to some soaked and squeezed soya nuggets. Mix with gram flour and chopped spinach and some spices. Make bhajiyas. One can also deep fry leftover idlis and temper them with a dash of soya sauce. I do suggest that while using soya sauce keep a control on the amount of salt added to the dish. This especially holds true for those recipes where is sauce is to be used in the marinade.

Mustard Sauce
Mustard Sauce is no longer restricted to use in burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. Adding a little to a potato preparation or a chicken dish can perk it up. Whisk some eggs and add a dash of mustard sauce with chopped mushrooms and capsicums. Here is an omelette which will become a family favourite.

Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce
Mix with mayonnaise and make an entirely new sandwich spread. A dash of this sauce in potatoes for aloo paranthas also makes a difference. Any leftover rice can be served in a new avatar with some vegetables sautéed with some hot and sweet sauce.

Tamarind Chutney
This can be added to dals and pulses for the immediate touch of sourness. No need to extract tamarind pulp or look for lemons. And of course when the immediate need is to serve bhelpuri use the chutney for a quick serve.

With so much to talk about, how about actually using the sauces for cooking?


BAKED BREAD AND VEGETABLE PUDDING

STUFFED OMELETTE ROLL
HOT DOG ROLL

Add some sauce to rainy days!
Sanjeev Kapoor.