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!

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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.

Healthy yogurt – its yummy and fun to eat

Eat yogurt chilled or those wishing to further titillate their taste buds can add fruits to it. Those who love chocolate can try a healthy yogurt dish called Chocolate Yogurt.
Have yogurt with a bowl of steaming rice. Vegetable Curd Rice is a popular version. In whichever form one wishes to eat it, curd or yogurt is a product that enjoys a special place in your plate.
Did you know that a good bowl of yogurt contains millions of microorganisms? This surely would make you think twice before you reach for the creamy concoction. But these microorganisms are ‘friendly’ bacteria that make the product good for health. The manufacture of yogurt involves the process of fermentation whereby the proteins in milk are curdled. This is carried out with the help of specific strains of bacteria (microorganisms) that make lactic acid. Besides providing a delicious addition to the daily diet, it is nutritionally sound too!
Curd or yogurt is being appreciated as a probiotic where ‘pro’ means ‘for’ and ‘biotic’ indicates ‘life.’ It is thus being hailed as a product, which promotes a healthy life. A product teaming with microorganisms yet they are not harmful! The intestinal tract may naturally contain microorganisms but not all of them are disease causing. The microorganisms in yogurt are of a type that prevents other harmful organisms to dominate the intestines.
Cup of health
Want a good protein source? Look no further! Yogurt besides providing proteins of a good quality is also rich in minerals, calcium and phosphorus. Those wanting a low fat yogurt could try the ones made with skimmed milk powder.
The process of fermentation to make yogurt improves its nutritive quality as the microorganisms added to it enhance the folic acid and vitamin B 12 available to the body.
It has been observed that yogurt is better tolerated than milk among people suffering from milk intolerance. The bacteria break down the sugar lactose found in milk and hence there is a lesser chance for lactose intolerance to be seen. It is a better source of calcium for those who cannot consume milk. A wonderful filling beverage is Chilled Watermelon Yogurt.
In case of diarrhoea, the consumption of yogurt helps to stabilize the gut environment, which gets upset by the invasion of disease causing organisms. When certain medications like antibiotics wipe out both the good and the bad bacteria from the digestive tract, yogurt can help restore the balance. Ulcer causing bacteria have something to fear when the microorganisms from yogurt take over.
Recent studies also point towards the ability of yogurt to boost immunity against infections.
Whatever way one chooses to eat it there is delight in every spoon of healthy yogurt. Any takers?

Healthy balanced diet – understanding the ‘fat’ factor

People are facing a lot of health problems these days and unfortunately one gets to hear of high cholesterol levels even in teenagers. This is a direct consequence of having too many processed foods that are so tempting for the new generation. Fruits or wholesome homemade food have taken a backseat. But the time has come now to tighten our belts and get back into shape. It would also be perfectly correct to say that high cholesterol levels are also a fall out of lack of exercise. When one can walk, one prefers to take transport, be it private or public. Most of the evening hours are spent sitting in front of the television and that too with the dinner plate in hand!

Low fat options

We should now incorporate healthy eating habits into our daily plan. We can substitute high fat foods with low fat food, which is made without the addition of visible oil or with very little of it. One can always question the pros and cons of an oil-free diet. The main thing is that we cannot do without oil. But we can certainly do with less oil in our food. And the sooner we adopt this mode of cooking the better for our health in the long run. One samosa adds 369 calories to your day’s intake, a small 105 grams pack of French fries add 320 calories. Instead, why not have two idlis which are just as filling but allow only 60 calories? Some more ideas: switch over from buffalo milk to cow’s milk – will save you up to 50 calories and 2.4 grams of fat per 100 grams. The yogurt you make will have less fat and so will the paneer.

All foods have fat

It is also necessary to understand that even if no visible oil has been used in the cooking process, all foods do contain some trace of oil/fat. Seeds like poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, sesame seeds and turmeric powder do have some fat content. No food is ‘fat free’, it can only be labeled as ‘low fat’ and there are no great health hazards in having ‘low fat’ foods. Even a basic arhar/toovar dal preparation has a fat content that one can talk about – 100 grams has 1.5 grams as compared to 3.7 grams in a moong dal preparation. Dals are not eaten raw and once they are cooked they do have additions of seeds and spices.

Why do we need oil

Our bodily functions do need oil to operate at the optimum as they need to be lubricated well and for this all naturally present oils are good. All are aware that oil not only enhances the taste but also makes the cooked food look good. Yes, even some salads taste better with a dash of salad oil or olive oil. Oil is an integral part of most recipes because it removes the unpalatability of the dish, it adds the needed softness as also flavour and nutrients. We have seen that we do need fat for lubrication, the fat-soluble precious vitamins and for energy.

To sum up, it is recommended to follow a diet that is low in fat but healthy in essential proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A good diet is primarily what we should be looking at. And also eating sensibly, exercising regularly will ensure a long and healthy life to all! For some ideas refer to Khumb Hara Pyaaz.

Diwali sweet recipes – Ah, the sweet tooth is waiting patiently!

Diwali means mithai, meetha, and more! Actually serving the sweets part is simpler than the savoury salty part. Our ideas what you could develop further: make Chilli Icecream and expect raised eyebrows at the name but pleased grins at the tasting! The mithai part can be continued in a Mithai Sundae with vanilla and butterscotch ice creams layered with crushed chikki, mini gulab jamuns, jam and cake! Cake is also superb paired with gajar halwa but sizzle it with rabdi and wow the guests with this ‘active’ dessert. Perfect fireworks on the table! For those who prefer dairy, dish up Apple Rabdi. It will score high on the novelty chart. Well, all is not done yet.
For an offering of Diwali sweet recipes with a difference make Beancurd Peda. Grate 100 grams of beancurd and place in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of grated khoya and mix. Add sufficient sweetened condensed milk to mix the above mixture into a soft dough. Divide into marble sized portions and shape into balls. Flatten the balls lightly and serve. Or you could impress your relatives with a Colourful Lassi. Blend hung yogurt with sugar to make thick lassi. Divide the lassi into four portions. Mix two tablespoons of strawberry puree with one portion, two tablespoons of kiwi puree with second portion and saffron with third portion. Let the fourth portion remain white. Take a tall glass and first pour the saffron lassi. Place two slices of kiwifruit over it and then pour a little of the kiwi lassi. Place three slices of strawberry over it. Now pour the strawberry lassi and place a few strawberry slices over this too. Finally pour the white lassi over it and place some more strawberry slices over it and serve immediately. If there is a rush, serve Vanilla Ice cream with Cookie Crumble. Place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a long stemmed glass; sprinkle four crushed chocolate chip cookies and drizzle chocolate sauce as required and serve.
As you read through the Diwali sweet recipes, look out in this space for some low-cal Diwali snacks.

Regular meals can help you avoid headaches

I was recently reading an article that it is food that triggers off headaches (besides stress, tension, anxiety etc…) and isn’t it common to hear one complain about a headache so often, be miserable and lose out on a day’s work. Those who suffer from headaches may have reactions to wheat, chocolate, monosodium glutamate, sulfites (used in restaurants, salad bars), sugar, hot dogs, citric acid, fermented foods (like cheese, yogurt, alcohol, vinegar or marinated foods). Caffeine, a compound commonly found in coffee, tea and chocolate has been linked to headache. Researchers believe that people who are prone to headache and migraine may be sensitive to the effects of caffeine. If you suspect that your headaches may be linked to your diet, it is important to seek medical attention so that your sensitivities can be properly diagnosed. Common food chemicals that have been found to affect the arteries of the head include:
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – a common flavour enhancer, but also found naturally in such foods as tomatoes.
Nitrites – these preservatives are found in processed meats and some cheeses.
Amines – common compounds found in a wide range of foods, including spinach, tomato, potato, small whole fish, tuna, liver, dark chocolate and alcoholic drinks. It can be challenging to discover the exact food or foods that may contribute to headache and migraine. It is best to consult health care professionals to ensure an appropriate diagnosis and course of action.
One simple way to avoid headache would be to eat at the right time and not skip any meal. If you skip a meal, your blood sugar level may drop too low for your brain to function comfortably. In order to boost the amount of glucose to the brain; the body releases hormones, which may also cause an increase in blood pressure because they narrow the arteries. This narrowing of the arteries can contribute to headache and migraine. Keep your blood sugar levels constant by eating regularly. Don’t quit having coffee and tea suddenly or else the withdrawal will cause severe headaches. Your body needs time to adapt. Gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you consume over a period of days, weeks or even months.
How about some light recipes that can brighten up your weekend too?

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor