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
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Christmas pulaos – One wonderful dish that says it all!

Christmas Dinner recipes can have a platter of pulaos. Well, why not! Pulaos are wonderful when made lovingly with meats or vegetables or paneer or all three! http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com has a magnificent collection of pulao recipes that can be chosen as an integral part of Christmas dinner giving you choices that can cater to any palate.

Rest assured, have plenty of food going around the Christmas table. Make large pans of fragrant pulaos and biryanis and try and make them as vibrantly coloured as possible.
One spectacular dish is Angoori Pulao which shows off some silver balls, so reminiscent of Christmas baubles on the tree!
Baked Eggs and Rice has some sunny side up eggs that are brilliantly yellow and look very inviting. Just ensure that you serve it warm.
Beetroot and Mewa Pulao has that tender blush that will add some charm to the table for sure.
Chilli chicken tomato pulao is something that will add zing to the get together.
Green fried rice looks like Christmas : all white and green!
With pulaos, ensure that you have some small goodies on the side so that the meal is a bit more filling. You could have a variety of snacky bites, or papads, or variations of papads, some raitas or kachumbers. If you have a good chicken or mutton biryani then having a raita or kachumber becomes mandatory. We will hunt out some good recipes for you for the accompaniments for sure.
Christmas dinner is not so far off now. Do hope the baking plan for Christmas goodies has been made, with dotted ‘I’ s and crossed ‘T’ s, meaning, that it is perfect!

A fun weekend with food and movies! Next week UK tour begins

Another Monday with a FoodFood meeting in office! The channel is really keeping me busy with various activities, I must say. And before I leave for my trip to UK to promote the new book How to Cook Indian I have to complete important things, both related to the channel and others. The office renovations are also still going on – I would not say that at a snail’s pace, but there’s definitely a scope to pace up!
As for the weekend, it was quite a relaxing one! Worked through a greater part of the Saturday in office, and then a sumptuous lunch at Goa Portuguese Restaurant with Alyona. Evening time was movie time at home – trust me it was really great watching a good movie after a long long time! Then again, it was a lazy Sunday at home. Made dosas for breakfast and a chicken with vegetables pulao for dinner. And in between slipped in yet another movie!
Hoping that Alyona and kids can join me for some time in UK as the kids are on vacation. As the event calendar for the book promotion is finalized I will be updating you with all the events planned in London and Bath. I will be in UK for a week beginning next Monday.
As for this week, how about relishing mangoes in different avatars?
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Aloo Parantha – epitome of Punjabi home cooking

If there is something a hard working person desires at the end of the day, it would be having his or her favourite food, that too piping hot, at home! The thing is that the burden of cooking bears many of us down. The time might be there but the inclination is not there, hence the meal is sketchy and what one had wished to eat, like the favourite food we spoke about earlier, remains a wish unfulfilled. And then there are cases where the inclination is there to cook but time constraint is a major factor. Hence, a quick bite on the move is what an evening meal would look like. Not only do we end up spending money where it can be saved but we also end up giving our bodies insufficient nutrition.

This is where stuffed paranthas come in handy. Punjabis love Aloo Paranthas for breakfast but the same dish can be converted into a proper meal with a salad on the side and freshly made raita like Boondi Raita alongside. A busy cook needs to ensure some kneaded dough in the fridge, and some boiled potatoes. Actual cooking of the paranthas takes less than 30 minutes.

There is every reason to eat well and eat well at home. With a little bit of planning, the kitchen shelves can be well stacked with foods for the week and if you can get organized. Even the week’s menu can be put up so that the mind and hands start working the moment you get home. As the menu is planned, there is bound to be variety and best distribution of nutrition throughout the week. Plan, so that your daily intake is optimum and best ingested by the body. For every single day plan at least one meal that has essential carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The meal should have a cereal, pulse or poultry, some vegetables and maybe a light fruity dessert. This keeps the energy levels at even keel. To have a variety of dishes try a pulao made with healthy brown rice: Hara Masala Brown Rice Pulao.

When you cook at home, freshness is assured and that is what good quality food is made of.

Cool November

Am in Delhi while I write this and it is so much cooler here than in Mumbai…but good weather for us is also around the corner too! I am sure December will be cool in Mumbai, though it is rare to see sweaters come out of the cupboards!
If the weather is to be enjoyed well and truly, then Tawa recipes are the name of the game. The Yellow Chilli at MovieWorld, Ghaziabad, Pacific Mall at Saibabad, and at Greater Noida and Noida will be hosting the Tawa Festival running through 15th to 30th of November. With the sizzle of the food on the tawa and the deep aromas enjoy foods like Tawa Palak Pudina Paratha, Amritsari Tawa Gosht, Tawe Ki Urad Dal and Kalimirch Tawa Chicken.
Some great things have sparked off ever since we had the Innovation Station competition before Diwali. The prize winning Rajgire Chikki with Kesar Sandesh will be dished out for our guests for a lunch tomorrow along with mini batatawadas, Biscuit Corn Sevpuri, Pindi Chole, Chatpati Bhindi and Ajwain Paranthas. As the guests are from out of India this is a good introduction. A few days ago, my team dished out a fantastic Gulab Jamum Thandai Mousse and a Dark Chocolate Mousse with Peanut Chikki. Dream desserts!
The Wonderchef cookery classes and demonstrations are going on in full strength at the Inorbit Malls at Vashi and Malad. Two sessions with Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi are scheduled for the 17th and 18th of November. Be there as the Wonderchef range of cookware and bakeware is really simplifying cooking for their proud owners and it is worthwhile to understand their benefits live!
As I wind up, lets share some tawa food and some dreamy dessert with you!



Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor.

What’s the best water for cooking?

The question bank in the world of cooking is never empty! Someone recently asked me about using hot water for cooking….if there are any benefits or drawbacks.

When we talk of cooking we should take into consideration not just the process of cooking by the application of heat but also the processes involved in the making of food.

Significantly there is not much of a difference between the use of hot and cold water in cooking but yet they have their own specific advantages and cannot be always interchanged.

It is observed that egg shells crack when eggs are slid into boiling water. This happens due to sudden agitation of water and coagulation of the egg white. To prevent this it is advisable to add a few drops of vinegar. Alternately you can put the eggs in cold water and then bring the water to a boil thus increasing the temperature of both the water and the egg gradually.

When blanching of vegetables like leafy vegetables and green peas or French beans it is always done in boiling water for a little while and then immediately dunked into icy cold water. This way the vegetables retain their colour and crispiness.

Hot water is usually added while making a pulao or a gravy only to hasten the process of cooking. It does not however add to the taste or texture of the end product.

While churning cream to separate butter from the milk cold water is used as it helps the butter to coagulate faster. While kneading flaky pastry dough chilled water, in fact, icy water, is suggested.

More than the temperature of the water it is the amount of water which is crucial in the process of cooking. Moreover the temperature of the water makes no difference to the nutritional value of the end product.

Yes, hot water is wanted in the kitchen as it helps in washing up the dishes faster!

Here are some dishes that are simple to make so that cleaning up is easy…


Char dal ni khichdi
Sookhi Dal Amritsari
Quick Khopra Pak

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Is it safe to reuse cooking oil

There is a lot written in the media about not to save the oil or ghee that has been used for frying for re-use. As it is, frying once changes the composition of the fat/oil so it seems that twice used fat must be horrible. There is an even greater health risk when you cook with pre-cooked oil/ghee.


Actually, reusing cooking oil has been done for ages. There isn’t really is any problem, if done properly. The greatest hazard is allowing the oil or ghee to become spoiled to the point that it produces undesirable flavours and odours. When oil becomes spoiled, it appears dark and thick. Besides ruining what would have been a perfectly good meal, spoilt oils also contain free radicals that are potentially carcinogenic.

To understand how to best re-use oil, it is important to know about smoke points – the temperatures at which oil begins to decompose. If you heat oil to a temperature that is too high, it produces smoke fumes. Acreolin, a substance that makes your eyes burn, is given off as well. To re-use oil safely, use these tips: strain it through a few layers of muslin cloth to catch any food particles. Be careful with hot oil, though, because you can easily get burned. Shake off excess batter from food before frying it. Turn off the heat after you are done cooking. Also exposing oil to prolonged heat accelerates rancidity. Do not ever mix different types of oil. Store all oils, fresh or used in a cool, dark place. Avoid iron kadais for frying oil that is to be reused. The metal also accelerates rancidity.

The optimal temperature to fry foods at is 190°C At higher temperatures, the food will burn on the outside and at lower temperatures, the food absorbs too much oil and tastes greasy. Different oils have different smoking points. Oils with higher smoking points are better for frying. For example, safflower, sunflower, soyabean. The more popular ones like groundnut oil have a lower smoking point. And olive oil has the lowest. This explains the reason why olive oil is never used for deep frying.

But olive oil, thanks to its goodness, adds more to Indian food! How about some daily recipes that can be cooked with olive oil….



Subzi aur tamatar ka pulao


Paneer keema

Batata nu shaak

Happy Cooking!

Sanjeev Kapoor.