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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Popular sauces with Nutralite

Never out of fashion – a good luscious sauce can add plenty of oomph and dress up a dish instantly. We give you our top picks and also tell you how Nutralite makes these jazzier. The best thing about Nutralite is that it would taste just like the normal butter, but at the same time will be much healthier. While other spreads may contain harmful trans fats that increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood, Nutralite is one product that does not contain these fats. You may have loved these sauces till now, but you will love them more now when you’ll know that these are better in all ways.

Butterscotch makes things better

The quintessential ‘butterscotch’ is one of those sauces that has takers from all age groups – kids to mid-aged to old-aged. A simple ice cream gets dressed in the most amazing way when you drizzle a little of this one on top. The authentic recipe will have brown sugar, milk/cream and butter. Replace the brown sugar with normal sugar and you get a variation that’s Caramel. So, this time you make these sauces, substitute the butter with Nutralite and create a healthier version! And then use these as creatively as you can:

  • You might have had chocolate filled with butterscotch. How about some chocolate coated with butterscotch? An exciting reversal!

  • Try coating besan laddoos with butterscotch!

  • The good old Caramel Popcorn is always a favourite too.

  • Finish off a Trifle Pudding with it or pour it on hot Apple Pie, soft Muffins or drizzle it on freshly made cakes. Divine!

  • Sundaes will bask in the glory of butterscotch and you can splash some chocolate syrup too, they are allies!

  • Use the sauce to dress up a mocktail, milkshake or simply pour in spoonfuls in your cup of coffee. You do it once, you do it again and again!

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Go cheesy

Cheese makes everything better. The mild Cheese Sauce gives you plenty of room to have fun with flavours and spices, but we say keep the seasonings simple and play around with different types of cheese like stringy mozzarella or chunky cheddar! Just get your hands on the Nutralite and create this simple one: melt Nutralite in a pan, add a spoonful of refined flour and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Make sure that it doesn’t turn brown. Add milk, whisk making sure there are no lumps. Add plenty of cheese and mix well. Pass through a sieve to ensure lump free smoothness and use it as a delicious dip. Try a version by adding a hint of saffron and some chillies to it!

Hola! To Healthy Hollandaise

There is no denying the irresistibility of a perfectly made hollandaise sauce. The trick is to whisk the eggs constantly while pouring in a thin stream of butter till both these ingredients together create a luscious hollandaise. And with Nutralite too, you can achieve the same result. Its just going to be nicer and would be perfect with your eggs, poached fish and veggies! You can also use it as a spread for your sandwiches and burgers.

Another version to the Hollandaise would be a rich, aromatic Béarnaise Sauce that will be great with your grilled meats. Similar to the process with just an addition of a flavouring ingredient alongwith crushed peppercorns will give you this smooth sauce. Use Nutralite here as well!

For wine lovers

The simple Beurre blanc is the sauce! Infact, it is so quick to make that this sauce can be done as emergencies! The luxurious sauce made with butter and wine is a great pairing with fish and seafood. Just make sure to use chilled Nutralite while whipping this one up.

10 most expensive ingredients in the world – #10 – Edible Gold (Gold Leaf/Gold Dust)

The goodness of gold!

Finally, we wrap up the list of 10 most expensive ingredients in the world with Edible Gold (Gold Leaf/Dust). A quick recap on the previous ones:

  • Kopi Luwak
  • Matsutake Mushroom
  • Yubari Melon
  • Caviar
  • Truffles
  • Coffin Bay King Oysters
  • Hop Shoots
  • Moose Milk Cheese
  • Saffron

With $15,000 as the estimated price per pound, Edible Gold in the form leaves and dust dates back to the 16th century where it was used by the Italian Dukes and Earls to decorate their risottos. It was also used in medicines by the Alchemists of the 15th century, on fruits in luxurious banquets by the Elizabethans and by the Japanese in their food and sake for centuries.

And you thought gold could only be jewellery?

#10 – Edible Gold (Gold Leaf/Gold Dust)

How is gold edible? As this expensive food is a metal that is ‘biologically inert’ which means it doesn’t get absorbed by the digestive tract as it passes through it. Hence, it becomes pretty much consumable.

Whether you use it as a garnish on dishes or as floating gold flecks in beverages, make sure you select gold that is pure – 22-24 carats is what you should look for. A carat value less than this would mean that the gold is impure and can be harmful for consumption.

While it’s not exactly possible to create a dish completely of edible gold, we bring to you some of the dishes from around the world that use this pricey metal in one or the other way, alongwith other pricey ingredients. Check these out

  1. Le Burger Extravagant priced at $295 in New York’s Serendipity 3 Restaurant.
  2. Douche Burger priced at $666 at 666’s Burger, a New York City based Food Truck.
  3. The Golden Bagel priced at $1,000 in New York’s Westin Hotel.
  4. Billion Dollar Popcorn priced at $1000 per kg at Berco’s Popcorn, Chicago.
  5. The Golden Opulence Sundae priced at $1,000 in New York’s Serendipity 3 Restaurant.
  6. White Truffle and Gold Leaf Pizza priced at $2,400 at Margo’s Pizzeria, Malta.
  7. Lancashire Wagyu and Mushroom Pie priced at $14,260 or $1,781 per slice at The Fence Gate Inn, Lancashire.
  8. Fabergé Chocolate Cake priced at $34,500 at Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in Windermere, Cumbria.

Wouldn’t you now want to give edible gold a try? Actually, you must as it’s going to be an experience in itself.

So, here we are, done with our list of expensive ingredients in the world. What’s on your list of expensive ingredients? Tell us about it, share your experiences with us. We are waiting to hear from you!

10 most expensive ingredients in the world – #9 – Saffron

It more than makes sense to put the ‘most expensive spice in the world’ at a decent number 5th position in this list after Kopi Luwak, Matsutake Mushroom, Yubari Melon and Caviar. Yes, it’s the saffron or zaffran a.k.a kesar in Hindi, which is easily termed as ‘Prada’ in the spice world!

Just to make things clearer, the expense quotient is directly proportional to either complexity to harvest or scarcity. And we give you reasons for this – saffron is prepared by drying the deep-hued stigmas of the crocus sativus flower and it takes 70,000-250,000 of these carefully hand-picked stigmas to make 1 pound! Also, there’s a time when these must be harvested – which should be just before sunrise to 10 am in the morning! Why so? Because if these are left in the plant for long, they will lose their aroma and colour! Too much of a work!

Saffron

#9 – Saffron

Saffron is expensive! Infact many feel that is pricier than gold because of the amount of labour that goes behind its harvest. Fortunately, one needn’t require large amounts to add that special touch in their dish, as adding too much might make your dish bitter besides being toxic. Some of the best produce comes from Kashmir in India besides Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Spain and Greece.

A culinary delight

The exotic saffron has its use in a variety of dishes, both national and international. Some of the culinary literature also defines its aroma from scent-like, subtle and flowery to earthy, spicy and even medicinal! We give you some trivia about certain cuisines/dishes in which saffron is used in abundance. Read on…

  • Foods like risotto and individual ingredients like potatoes, spinach, eggs, mushrooms and seafood are paired absolutely well with this spice.
  • We all know about the flavourful and aromatic Indian ‘Biryanis’ and mithais seldom of which are prepared without the use of saffron. Other international dishes like Spanish ‘Paella’ and ‘Sopas de Pescado,’ Persian ‘Pilaf,’ Moroccan Chicken and Lamb preps and French ‘Bouillabaisse’ also use it.
  • Quite a few Italian liqueurs and spirits, like ‘Strega Herbal Liqueur’ and ‘Fernet Branca’ use this as an ingredient in their making.

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Best way to use

To use saffron, either infuse a few threads in a cup of hot milk or water and add the coloured liquid towards the end of cooking or crumble the threads and add directly to the pot. Alternatively, dry roast, crumble and then steep the crumbled threads. Unlike other spices, a good pinch will suffice to add flavour and colour in most dishes.

Besides these you can try innovating authentic dishes with a dash of saffron in them. Some of my favourites include Saffron Seafood Bisque, Asparagus with Saffron chilli Cheese Sauce, Kesari Pulao, Kesari Phirni and Orange Caramel Custard with Saffron…the list can just go on and on!

These recipes and a lot more are waiting for you at www.sanjeevkapoor.com. Our YouTube channel sanjeevkapoorkhazana also has a long-list of exciting saffron recipes. Don’t forget to check them out too!

All you need to do now is to go get your pack of saffron (in case you haven’t till now!) and use it the way you want to. Just keep in mind not to overuse! And definitely don’t forget to share your kesar tales and recipes with us. We, as always, will be happy to receive them!

Till we decide on our next top expensive ingredient, do spread the knowledge by sharing and leave your valuable feedback for us!

Heart healthy with Nutralite!

In order to keep fit at all times, people these days are investing a lot in foodstuff that make it possible for them to lead a healthy life. One of the most important factor in food is the Omega 3 fatty acids which is extremely useful for the wellbeing of our bodies. For the same reason, food experts worldwide have been working on Omega rich diet plans from quite some time. Because Omega 3 fatty acid is that good dude that helps keep our heart beating, brain functioning and maintains a 6 by 6 vision in the eyes! Thus, these fats are easily synonymous with the last letter of the Greek alphabet ‘omega,’ that actually means “great!”

So, what is it that makes the Omega 3 fats exceptional? Besides being an essential part of the cell membranes in the human body, these are also responsible for the functioning of cell receptors. Hormones controlling inflammation, contraction of artery walls and clotting of blood have these fats as their starting point. The Omega 3 fatty acids also help the cells of the body to normalize genetic functions. Needless to say, these fats majorly help in the prevention of heart stroke and diseases alongwith others like rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and some of the cancers.

The Nutralite table spread with Omega 3 has all this and more. It is not just healthy but even tastes better than a lot of its counterparts. Not only this, Nutralite is also free of cholesterol, contains MUFA and PUFA, Vitamin A, D and E and it is also free from Hydrogenated and Trans Fats. A zero cholesterol medium means that your heart and arteries are healthy and you definitely live longer! The amount of cholesterol that is needed by our body is already produced by our body. So, if we consume more, it definitely is risky for the heart and increases the chances of strokes. Peanuts, olives, avocados, almonds, garlic, oat bran, flax seeds and many more of such foodstuffs help in lowering cholesterol in our day-to-day lives, and when you combine these with Nutralite table spread, the final outcome eventually turns out even more healthy!

These are the fats that the body cannot produce on its own. So, it becomes quite obvious that we derive these from the food we intake. Natural sources of Omega 3 fats would mainly include the non-vegetarian options like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and other oily fishes. The vegetarians can choose from options like flax seeds, walnuts, flax oils. A small amount is also found in soybean and canola oils. In fact, include this useful tip in your daily routines: First thing in the morning, ingest a tablespoon of lightly roasted crushed flax seeds with a glass of water. What you will do is give yourself approximately one gram of Omega 3 fatty acids and lots of fibre! Needless to say, the Nutralite table spread which is rich in Omega 3 fats automatically becomes a great choice for use in our day-to-day lives. Use it instead of the normal butter and cut down on the excessive calorie & fat intake. You can also use it without that guilt of taking in something that might possess a danger to your heart! Also, the Vitamin D in it will help keep your bones and teeth healthy. What else can you ask for from a simple thing like a table spread!?

Besides these, when it comes to the ‘Healthier Choice’ Nutralite, your body can benefit on a daily routine from the Omega 3 in it in some simple ways. Here are my picks…

  • As a cooking medium: Though it’s a universally accepted fact that butter is preferred as a medium for cooking, it is always a good thing to include something new with added benefits in your routine. Nutralite will not only reduce the chances of being obese, but the dishes will also turn out quite delicious! Just don’t go deep-frying your foodstuff in Nutralite! (as it is deep-frying in any kind of fat should be avoided!)

  • Flavour ‘em: That burst of flavour in your foods like salads, while retaining the nutrients can be achieved by flavouring Nutralite with your choice of add-ons. Add a herb, chilli, saffron or any other such ingredient to the Nutralite table spread and voila! your food creations will reach another level! You can even team these beauties with your grilled fishes and veggies for those wholesome yet super-delicious meals!

Goodness ki shuruat, masalon ke saath!

Can you imagine Indian food without spices? I am sure Indian cuisine best understands the goodness of using spices in cooking and the wellness that these spices bring home. Almost every dish in Indian cuisine is enhanced by the aroma, flavour and healing properties of spices. In Northern cooking we see stress on the use of cumin, coriander and ginger. Whereas in the cuisine from the hot desert land of Rajasthan we see asafoetida, ginger, red chilli powder. Gujaratis will not cook a dish without mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida and in the Southern states, the dominating spices are mustard seeds, asafoetida and aromatic curry leaves. Towards the east and Bengal side, we can taste the unique goodness of paanch phoron, which is a flavourful mix of cumin, mustard, onion, fennel and fenugreek seeds.
Whether it is single ingredient pure spices like turmeric and red chilli powder or blended spice mixes like a garam masala, chole masala or a meat masala – cooking and eating without these would definitely make an Indian kitchen seem lackluster!

While we often use the spices for flavouring food, they are not really thought of as nutritive and most often the ones available in the market aren’t. In most cases of processing them causes the spice oils to get extracted making the spice mass less potent, inferior and cheap. In case of masala the expertise lies in selecting the right ingredient from the right sources and processing in a manner that keeps the natural goodness of it intact – which is the best way to bring out the purity and superior quality of the product.

The all new Tata Sampann range of spices carries the brand values of purity and quality of ingredients as nature intended it to be. The brand celebrates the extra in the ordinary, thus, intends to add the extra joy in everyday meals through its offering. Better known for its unpolished dals which deliver higher nutrition (protein) and purity, spices were test launched with the same brand in limited markets last year.

This was the beginning of all good things or ‘Goodness ki Shuruat’ as the brand ideology swore by. Celebrating the small things in everyday life – like the aroma of fresh turmeric, the lovely smoky spice of red chilli powder or that perfect plate of a robust chole bhature lunch – these are the little joys in life. With Tata Sampann range of masalas you can begin the balanced approach to life with a simple everyday activity of cooking!

It’s a beginning of a balanced approach to life and celebrating the small things in everyday life by adding a pinch of nutrition and purity along with all the love to the food you cook for your family and friends. Tata Sampann masalas are a range of packaged spices which flavour food the way nature intended it to be – full of flavour, aroma and benefits to health.

Enough said, here are a few reasons that I would suggest for you all to switch onto using Tata Sampann range of masalas:

  • Tata Sampann range of masalas are made using superior varieties of whole spices from the best sources from Gods own country – Kerala. So you can be sure of the source.
  • They use ‘unspent’ masalas which are superior quality and full of natural spice oils. Thus, deliver superior flavour and aroma. ‘Spent’ masalas are the ones from which the spice oils have been extracted making them inferior in quality and health reasons. Tata Sampann delivers fresh and ‘naturally rich’ masalas.
  • It is delivered with a 5 pouch packing, which ensures the masalas remain fresh, fragrant and pure from the first to the last pinch.

So, go ahead and add the best of nutrition and taste to your food with Tata Sampann’s range of pure and blended spices. Whether you are making chole, dal tadka or just need to add that extra punch to a recipe you are trying, Tata Sampann masalas are perfect for all your cooking chronicles.

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Nutralite vs. Refined Oil – the healthier one?

Fats and oils are energy giving nutrients, thus are the easiest sources of energy. But there’s much of a talk in the market about the ill effects of the refined oils that form a part of our daily diets. The bottom line is we can run from it, we can hide from it but its not exactly possible for us to avoid it. Isn’t it? So, why not use a product which is healthier and even tastes better? Yes, the Nutralite with Omega 3 table spread is just that!

Just to begin, besides the highly useful Omega 3 fatty acid in it (super for brain, eyes and the heart!), Nutralite is also free of cholesterol and trans fats, low in calories, rich in Vitamin A, D and E and also contains MUFA & PUFA(Cholesterol Fighter). Yes, zero cholesterol is true that makes your heart healthy and removes junk from your arteries! The Nutralite spread definitely acts as a healthier alternative over any other refined oils because of this reason. So, instead of frying your dry fruits in refined oils, just shallow-fry them in Nutralite. In this way, you add the health factor alongwith making them taste all the more better and yummier! When craving for popcorn, try in the healthier version by using Nutralite instead of any other fats. It will be cool, for sure! Or toss up those spinach leaves, kale leaves, asparagus, broccoli or any other greens of your choice and seafood in the Nutralite table spread for that lovely, flavourful yet nutritious lunch or dinner options!

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Also, what exactly makes Nutralite a better choice over other refined oils is quite obvious when we give you the reasons. Read on to know what happens during the processes to extract oils out of seeds, and in what stage the oil is when it is finally refined.

  1. The first stage is that of ‘oil milling’ where the ‘copra,’ which is about 64% of the oil content, gets cleaned both manually and by machines, is reduced in size to about ⅛” and dried on conveyors. Following this, mechanical pressing extracts the oil, where it is washed with hexane for better extraction, and finally reach the storage tanks for purification. Hexane has some serious health hazards including anaemia and it also gets concentrated in the food.

  2. Next, in order to refine the oil and reduce the Free Fatty Acids in it, it gets treated with a lye (sodium hydroxide) solution. This also adds to the shelf-life of the oil and can reduce the chances of oil damage. Further the oil is treated with bleaching earth and activated carbon that lessens the colour as it undergoes polishing by filter presses.

  3. The final step is deodourising of the oil wherein the ‘taste giving’ compounds of the oils are removed to make it as neutral on the palette as possible. This is the most destructive stage as it includes high temperatures. These temperatures also form a small amount of trans fatty acids, which all of us know, is not good for our health.

All this results in an ‘oil’ that is basically tasteless, colourless and odourless, is not susceptible to spoilage and can last very long. It will be more apt if we call this so called refined oil as ‘plastic oil’ as none of the benefits that occurred in the natural seeds are present in it. Too harmful for human consumption for sure!

Now that an intro has been given about ‘Refined Oils’ and the ‘Healthier Choice,’ here are some of the other reasons why we feel that it’s actually better to substitute the oils with Nutralite:

  • As a cooking medium: Though it’s a universally accepted fact that oils are better as a cooking medium than butter, it is always a good thing to include something new with added benefits in your routine. Nutralite will not only reduce the chances of being obese, but the dishes will also turn out quite delicious!

  • For a healthy heart: Use of Nutralite can actually be beneficial if you are at a higher risk for heart diseases. As already said, the Omega 3 fatty acids do the trick! Not all refined oils possess these.

  • Flavour ‘em: That burst of flavour in your foods like salads, while retaining the nutrients can be achieved by flavouring Nutralite with your choice of add-ons. Add a herb, chilli, saffron or any other such ingredient to the Nutralite table spread and voila! your food creations will reach another level!