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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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!

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!

image009

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!

10 most expensive ingredients in the world

And we are back with the #3 most expensive ingredient in the world, after the Kopi Luwak and the Matsutake Mushroom. This one’s a little tough to believe, because it’s a melon! Yes that’s right, a melon!

Melon

The Japanese Yubari Melons – perfectly round and smooth skinned, these hybrid melons are exclusively produced in the small Japanese town of Yubari. This pretty much explains the price and that’s why we rank it third on our list of expensive ingredients!

#3 – Yubari melons

Popularly known as “Dream Melons” these perfectly cultivated Yubari melons are Japanese in origin. Crossed with two cantaloupe varieties, these melons turn out to be distinctively tasty and orange-fleshed putting it in the category of uniquely expensive fruit. So, the next time you think of gifting something unique and expensive, consider these melons! A sure shot healthy gift!

Where do I come from?

The melons, as the name indicates are grown in Yubari. This small town in Hokkaido produces a limited number each year. Best produced in volcanic soil, this melon is an outstanding combination of Spicy Cantaloupe and Earl’s Favourite. This hybrid melon comes out perfectly and proportionately sweet and delicious. And that’s why it tops in the kingdom of melons.

Melon Pudina Cocktail

Worth it?

With the high price comes great taste and texture. The amount of care and maintenance that goes into the cultivation of this fruit is surely worth the price. The standard Yubari melons at the Japanese departmental stores range between $50 and $100. The superior ones are often auctioned in Japan at prices as high as $26,000 and more.

Yubari today!

Being such a big trend, this luxury fruit is now found on the shelves of most food stores in Japan, by virtue of being incorporated into various food products.

Some packaged stuff that you see when Yubari melon is on the shelf:

  • Yubari Melon Gummy – Well oh well! Who doesn’t like gummy bears and especially when in the pricey melon’s flavour?

  • Jelly – Yubari Melon jelly? Must try!

  • Kit Kat – Chocolate and the melon! Intrigued!?

Melon Slush

Here are some melon favourites of mine which can be easily done with these beautiful Yubari melons too. Like a refreshing Watermelon and Papaya Salad, a cool Melon Slush or go a little desi with Melon Pudina ka Cocktail or my very own Sago and Melon Kheer! The trick lies in just replacing musk melon with this one.

Watermelon and Papaya Salad

So, now on whenever you visit Japan, make sure to try this ‘Dream melon’, or if you can’t afford the fresh ones, try the foodstuffs with this melon flavouring.

As we continue listing our top expensive ingredients, you are welcome to share your experiences and feedback regarding the same. And don’t forget to share and leave a comment!